Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Aftermath


by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

Ryan and the Admiral take the Hogwarts Express, and arrive in time to meet the staff at breakfast.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Humor - Characters: Hagrid,Professor McGonagall - Published: 2016-08-13 - 3721 words - Complete



Sleeping on a train is wonderful. I think I could sleep on a train anytime, even if I wasn't dog-tired and full of delicious food and drink. But in this case, that's what I was, because the afternoon flew by in conferences, which were so interesting and productive that I didn't realize until later how much the effort was taking out of me.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Elliott were working hard on a new plan for the entire Auror department, and I got drawn in. But first, they had a surprise for me – an office right there in the Ministry, between the Aurors' door and the entrance to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It was empty, and it wasn't all that big, but it was plenty big enough for me. Best of all, the door already had the U.S. Department of Magic seal on it, above the legend




The eagle winked at me, and I formally accepted the space with the immortal words, “Well I'll be a monkey's uncle.” Kingsley and Alistair had arranged it, and the Britishers were almost as pleased as I was. Furnishing it would be my first job when I got back to London from Hogwarts.

They already knew the Secretary and I were going, and our trip was the main topic at first. I asked if they'd heard Professor McGonagall had been confirmed as Headmistress.

“Oh yes, we had. You'll like her,” said Hermione, “she's an Animagus, you know.”

“She is?” I was more surprised than maybe I should have been. “What's her animal form?”

“A cat, with markings around its eyes just like her glasses.” Hermione said.

“Animagi are very rare – in America, they have to have a state permit.”

“Same here,” Ron put in, “they have to register with the Ministry. D'ja ever meet one?”

“Yeah, there was a girl in my class at school, Brittany Bulgebotham, who was an Animagus,” the memory made me snort, “and it was a real problem.”

“How so?” asked Ron.

“Well, she was pretty – long, honey-colored hair – but boy, was she dumb! A real air-head. And every time she got frustrated or upset, she turned into an Afghan Hound.”

“In class?”

“Sometimes several times a day. And the worst part is, Afghan Hounds howl.”

“Oh, dear!” Hermione was trying not to giggle, and failing. Ron was laughing outright, and Harry had a wry smile as he cleaned his glasses. They were all glad about the trip, and wanted a full report when I got back, but without a word being spoken on the subject, it was clear that they were happy to be busy at the Ministry. I got the impression that Harry, especially, really didn't want to see Hogwarts right now (at least, not until it stopped looking like a battlefield and started looking like a school again) and the others were being supportive. I was asked to give their best greetings to so many people that I resolved to give them to anyone I met there, because I wasn't sure I could remember all the names.

Then we spent a good long time talking about the Auror department, and Harry was very interested in the training I had, and what I knew about American practices and organization. Elliott and Abner had been through British Auror training, and the similarities – and differences – that came out in discussion turned out to be fascinating. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were a constant surprise: they had no formal training, but they did have a huge store of practical experience in their minds and memories. They kept asking questions us “trained Aurors” hadn't thought of, and making suggestions that weren't in the training manuals; it was the most sustained and successful example of “thinking outside the box” I'd ever encountered. We were so into it that we never noticed the time until suddenly the Minister and the Secretary arrived at the door of Harry's office.

The Admiral had met everyone over the last two days, and after a quick trip out in the hall to inspect my new office, he and Kingsley joined the discussion for over an hour. Blackstone's ability to extract and summarize the salient points at issue, formulate decision points, and rank things in clear, common-sense priorities, simply amazed me, and, I think, deeply impressed everyone else as well. He, in turn, was delighted by the freewheeling approach we were taking, as was Kingsley Shacklebolt.

We finally left, and Alistair and I were driven back to Claridge's Wizarding, he to pack and check out, and me to put enough clothes and such in my backpack to last out the visit. When we sat down for Alistair's unofficially official Farewell Dinner, there were nine of us. Ron, Hermione, and Harry came along with Kingsley, and Ginny Weasley arrived with Arthur and Molly. Once again, the private dining room was exactly the right size for our group, and the food was, if possible, even better than before. After dinner, the young foursome took their leave, and Kingsley, Arthur, and Molly came along to the station to see us off.

King's Cross railroad station was not very far, and the Ministry car got us there at 9:45. I had been wondering how they would hide a whole train, and that turned out to be no problem – they hid an entire platform! Wizards and witches simply walk straight through a brick column between platforms 9 and 10, and emerge on Platform 9-3/4 – where the sight that met our eyes caused Blackstone's face, and mine, to light up with delight. It was a steam engine! A great big red and black locomotive, slowly huffing and hissing in clouds of steam, hitched to a tender, four boxcars, a flat car piled with chained-down lumber, and two passenger cars (called “carriages” over there; they seem reluctant to give up the memory of horses).

The Conductor (“Driver”) greeted us with a broad smile, and apologized for the absence of the 'tea-cart' on this run, saying there would be refreshments in the first car, and beds in the last one. We said our good-byes; Kingsley and Alistair shared a handshake, and then Molly surprised me (at least) by giving us each a big hug.

As we clambered aboard and walked down the aisle, which was on one side of the car instead of down the middle, Alistair said, “This is marvelous. You're too young to have made a long trip by train. It's a damn shame the way we've let our railroads go to hell. I haven't slept in a Pullman berth since Arleigh Burke was CNO. You'll find it's a bit cramped, but I think you'll – well, I'll be dipped in lukewarm gook.”

That last expression was his reaction to opening the door to the last car, where we found two huge four-poster beds, complete with velvet canopies, sitting on a luxurious carpet along with armchairs, chests of drawers, and even a tall wardrobe. Beyond them, a door stood partly open, revealing what looked like a complete bathroom. What looked very much like gas-lamps lit the place brightly, although I was sure the flames were magical fire; I don't think gas burns with a pale purple flame which casts a warm white light.

As we set down our bags and backpack, we saw the Weasleys and the Minister through the windows, and waved – just as the train started with a jerk. I almost lost my balance, and it was only Alistair's quick hand on my shoulder that saved me. We waved as the train began to move, and they waved back as we slid out of the station. The Admiral produced a bottle of brandy from somewhere, found snifters in the forward car, and we sat in the armchairs and had a night-cap as the train rumbled through London. As we got outside the city, the lights beyond the windows got fewer and farther between, and I took a big swallow of potion, and was glad to tumble into bed.

Maybe it's the motion, or the sound, or the rhythm of the whole thing, I don't know, but sleeping on a train is wonderful. I think I conked out in the air, several inches before I hit the sheets. When I woke up, there was light coming through the windows, and the train was, I thought, running more slowly. I stretched, and nothing hurt, which was also wonderful.

“Rise and shine, son!” Alistair Blackstone was sitting in his undershirt, holding a steaming mug which had to be coffee. “Conductor says we're about twenty minutes out.” I scrambled into the bathroom, and when I came out he handed me a mug. The coffee was good, but very strong, and I used some sugar from a silver bowl on top of the dresser. We both dressed in our best Wizard's robes, he in midnight blue and me in the deep green outfit, which I was beginning to think (as I looked into the ornate floor-length mirror) looked pretty classy; it was something subtle about the cut.

The train pulled into the station, and we got off on the side the buildings were on, but there wasn't anybody in sight. After a moment, Blackstone headed toward the engine, and at a nod from him I headed toward the rear and crossed the tracks to see if there was anyone over there, but as I rounded the corner I ran smack into something very large and hairy. The first thing I thought of was a moose, but I didn't know if there were mooses in England, and anyway they don't have buttons. I looked up – and up – and finally, in the middle of a thicket of dark hair and beard, saw a broad, smiling face. Having been forewarned, though, I grinned.

“Sorry about that! You have absolutely got to be Professor Hagrid.”

“'at's right, so I am.” His voice was deep and his accent thick, but his answering grin was cheerful. He stuck out a hand the size of a ham. “An' you mus' be Ryan! Pleased ter meet yeh!” We shook, and my arm disappeared almost up to the elbow. “Are yeh alone then?”

“No, Admiral Blackstone went up toward the engine.” We crossed over and I called to Blackstone, who came back to us, tilting his head far back as I introduced them.

“Admiral, this is Professor Rubeus Hagrid of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Professor, Admiral Alistair Blackstone, United States Secretary of Magic.”

“Delighted to meet you, Professor.”

“A great honor, sir, an' no mistake.” They shook hands, or rather hand-and-forearm. “But if yeh don' mind, me friends jes' call me Hagrid, an' after what 'ermione said in 'er letter, I'd be proud if yeh'd do the same, both of yeh, bein' friends o' my friends an' all.” Of course we agreed, and he led us back around to the other side of the train. I hadn't seen what was there yet (it's almost as difficult to see around Hagrid as it is to see through him) and it was a sight to take your breath away.

A lake stretched away before us, the still water looking black in the morning light, mist rising from the surface. On the far shore there was a range of mountains, and high on top of the closest one stood a castle. A real, honest-to-goodness castle. Maybe you've seen pictures, but no picture, not even a Wizarding picture, can ever be quite as magnificent as the real thing. Even “magnificent” seems like too weak a word. Towers and turrets, walls and battlements (a word I learned that morning when Blackstone used it) gleamed in the morning light; tall windows sparkled and glinted; they seemed somehow warm and inviting. My mind was grappling with the idea that it had stood there for a thousand years, and I couldn't think of a thing to say. I don't know how long it was before I remembered to close my mouth.

“My God. It's magnificent.” The tone was softly reverent, and I looked to my right and saw Alistair's eyes shining with admiration. Beyond him, Hagrid's face glowed with pleasure.

“Aye, that it is. That it is, sir.”

“Even with all the damage. It's amazing.” Now that Blackstone had called my attention to it, I started to notice breaks in the lines, missing sections of roofs, windows unglazed or blown into odd shapes...and when I considered what it must have taken to do that to a building made of thick stone, something cold fell into the pit of my stomach.

Hagrid turned his head toward us and nodded. “Sorry I wasn't on the platform to meet yeh. I was down checkin' the boats when th' train come along. Di'n't know as yeh might want ter go across by water, bein' an Admiral and all.” He gestured off to the right. “I kin hitch up a carriage if yeh'd rather.” There was a dock on the lake shore, and a stack of smallish boats, built (almost as if carved by a master carpenter) in curving lines; one of them sat in the water. Over to the right stood a horse-drawn carriage, but I saw no horses – although the hitching poles were sticking straight out.

Thestrals, by heaven!” Alistair pointed, but I didn't see a thing. When I repeated the word as a question, he looked at me and smiled. “I keep forgetting how young you are. Thestrals are winged creatures, something like horses, very gentle, but the only people who can see them are people who have seen someone die.” He turned to Hagrid. “A boat, please, by all means.”

“Right, then, foller me, gennlemen.” When we got down to the dock, Hagrid stood aside to let us board, but Blackstone shook his head, smiling.

“No, after you, Hagrid. Old Navy custom – in our Navy and yours – senior officers are last in, first out.”

Hagrid looked surprised, grinned, and nodded. “Aye aye, sorr!” He stepped aboard and seated himself in the bow. I followed, and then the Admiral, who sat in the stern seat. The boat did not sink any lower under our combined weight. Hagrid pulled out the longest wand I'd ever seen and tapped the rope at the bow, which untied itself and fell in the boat. Then he glanced sharply at Blackstone and tapped the rope again; it wrapped itself into a tight flat coil, stowing itself neatly under the seat, and I heard the Admiral chuckle.

“Ship-shape and Bristol fashion. Very good!” As we began to move smoothly out on the water, Hagrid explained that the “first-years” (new students) always used the boats when they arrived to begin their schooling, and graduating students leaving Hogwarts for the last time used them as well. The rest used the carriages. We glided across the water toward an ivy-covered cliff face, and bent forward at Hagrid's behest to duck under the vines into a tunnel. It was dark, and took a little time to get through, but then it opened out into a cave, lit by torches, and we climbed out onto a shelving beach of pebbles. Hagrid led the way up through a passageway and out into the morning light, where the castle stood before us, looking gigantic. The great doorway stood wide open, and its edges looked a little ragged here and there. We crossed a lawn onto broad stone steps, and as we reached the top, four figures in robes stepped forward into the sunlight.

“Headmistress,” said Hagrid formally, “Pleased t' introduce Admiral Alistair Blackstone, United States Secretary of Magic, and Ryan Jenkins, United States Undersecretary fer Foreign Wizarding Relations. Gentlemen, this 'ere's Professor Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts.”

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said the tall Witch, extending her hand. She wore deep red robes, and had black hair streaked with grey, and square dark-framed glasses. Her angular face had severe lines, but glowed with pleasure.

Blackstone shook her hand warmly. “Thank you, Professor. We are truly delighted to be here. Ah – you couldn't have known, Hagrid, since it was only just decided – takes effect at noon today – but young Ryan here has now been permanently assigned to the United Kingdom, as Liaison Officer for Magical Law Enforcement.”

“So we'll be seeing you more often then,” said McGonagall with a smile as we shook hands, and I smiled back and said happily, “Yes, ma'am!” She then introduced the others, who were the Heads of Houses. Pomona Sprout, Head of Hufflepuff, was a chunky, muscular-looking Witch with grey hair, brown robes, a raggedy hat, and a bustling, happy manner. Filius Flitwick, Head of Ravenclaw, was a tiny blue-robed Wizard, no more than about three feet tall, with brown hair parted in the middle, a mustache, and metal-rimmed glasses; his voice was a cheerful squeak. Horace Slughorn, Head of Slytherin, was older, bald, and not very tall either, but very well-dressed in purple robes that had an antique look to them. He was elaborately courteous, almost effusive. Professor McGonagall explained that she herself had been Head of Gryffindor, but now that she was Headmistress, Hagrid was going to handle those duties until there was a decision on a new appointment.

The Headmistress then led us across the flagstone floor to a doorway (also without doors, also scarred) on the right, which led into the Great Hall. About three paces in, the Secretary and I stopped dead in our tracks – a reaction that was probably anticipated by our hosts, as they all stopped right with us – and gaped.

It was a huge room, still quite magnificent (there's that word again) even though it had been, as Professor McGonagall put it, “rather badly knocked about” during the battle. “Huge” is another adjective that's true but inadequate: it's an awesomely big space, like Grand Central Station in New York City if you've ever been there, only even higher and bigger and a lot older. Great tall windows let in the light, but most of them weren't there anymore. The two that were still intact had beautiful carved stone frames for each pane. Professor Flitwick explained that he had put a repelling charm in the others which kept out the rain.

“And the ceiling too, of course,” he said in his ultra-tenor voice. When I looked up I saw that a big chunk of it was missing, but it confused me for a minute, because the part that was left looked, on the inside, exactly like the sky outside.

Like the walls, the floor was gouged and scored, but it was clean; there was no debris anywhere. What there was were four very long polished wooden tables, running almost the length of the hall, with benches on either side. A fifth table ran across the room at the other end of a wide aisle down the middle, and it (and the table farthest on the left, nearest to another doorless doorway) were set with golden plates and silver...or rather, golden-ware. As we walked down the aisle, Professor McGonagall said conversationally, “We are so very glad you are here, Mr. Secretary – and you, Mr. Jenkins,” nodding pleasantly to me, “and you could not have arrived at a more perfect moment. Everyone will be coming to breakfast shortly. I do hope you had a pleasant journey?”

“Yes indeed we did, Professor, thank you,” replied Blackstone. “The arrangements could not have been better, and it was extraordinarily restful.” They chatted as we walked along, and people were coming into the hall now, all Witches and Wizards I was sure, but some dressed in robes and quite a few dressed in various rough-looking working clothes. We took our places at the head table, with McGonagall in the center, Blackstone on her left and me on her right. The table was only about half full, and at the long table, no more than two-thirds of the places were occupied when everybody finally arrived. There were pots of tea and coffee on the table, and we all helped ourselves (Blackstone insisting on filling McGonagall's cup for her) as people filed in. Then the Headmistress stood up and tapped her spoon on her cup; the conversation died away and faces turned toward us.

“Before we have our breakfast, I should like to introduce two very distinguished, and very welcome, visitors to Hogwarts, who have just arrived this morning, all the way from the United States of America. On my right is the new United States Permanent Liaison Officer to the United Kingdom for Magical Law Enforcement, who has been working closely with our new Head Auror, Harry Potter – Mr. Ryan Jenkins.”

There was considerable applause, and I stood up, bowed and smiled; I wasn't entirely sure whether the applause was more for me or for Harry, but I didn't mind either way. Then I sat down, the Headmistress turned to the other side and spoke again.

“And on my left, I am deeply honored to introduce the United States Secretary of Magic, who is also a retired officer in the United States Navy, and who has been working closely with Minister Shacklebolt – Admiral Alistair Blackstone.”

This time the applause was louder and more prolonged, and, I think, even more sincerely appreciative. Blackstone stood, smiled and bowed deeply, and then turned toward McGonagall.

“Thank you very much, Headmistress McGonagall. We are very glad indeed to be here this morning, and I would like to assure you – and everyone here...” He looked around and down the length of the long table. “...that I am not going to make a speech.” This got a solid round of chuckles throughout the hall. “But I do want to tell you all that Mr. Jenkins and I are not here to gawk, we're here to learn. Most particularly, we're here to learn what we can do to help.” That stopped him with a solid round of applause, and he waited until it died down. “In that respect, I guess this is as good a time as any to announce that the United States Department of Magic has made an initial donation of one hundred thousand galleons to the Hogwarts Rebuilding Fund.”

This time, the applause was laced with cheers, and much louder, because everyone was standing up.
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