*A/N* I just want to say that, at first, some of you may be angry or confused at how Voldemort acts in this chapter, but if you keep reading, it will be explained further into the chapter at a Death Eater meeting.
Justice & War Wards
As Salazar and Godric landed quietly outside the Parkinson's once grand looking house, Godric instantly headed right towards the front door. Salazar grabbed his arm, which caused the irate Gryffindor to stop and growl at him.
"I'm just as pissed off as you are Godric, but there are a few things you need to stop and think about." Salazar whispered harshly. "One, you don't know what the man looks like. Two, we don't know what kind of wards are set up, and three, Voldemort is in there."
"One, I could care less about Voldemort at this point. Two, you know what Nott looks like and that's all that matters, and as for the wards, wizards have become nothing but lax, lazy, clueless, idiots!" He hissed venomously. "All we have to do is tunnel under the damn things." He added, before he stormed away.
Salazar sighed heavily as he watched Godric locate the ward line. He was just as angry as Godric, but he needed to remain levelheaded because Godric certainly wasn't going to. A parent killing their own child was something that neither had seen for a long, long time, and Theo's death had brought back a lot of bad memories. Out of the four Founders, Godric had always taken things like this the hardest though.
But this situation was different. This was not a muggle killing their magical child. This was a pure-blood killing his own magical child, and it was simply unheard of. Most pure-bloods held their Heirs in high regard because they were the ones that would carry on the family name and line. To kill off one's own Heir was a slap in the face to tradition. Though there were exceptions, as evidenced by Lucius, Nott, and Salazar himself.
However, as Salazar kept one eye on Godric to make sure he was alright, he narrowed his gaze in thought.
"Godric!" He hissed loudly. "Stop for a moment. I have a plan."
Godric, who had already managed to dig a chest deep hole in the ground just outside the ward line, looked up with a glare.
"We get them to bring Nott out." He said, but Godric scoffed loudly and kept digging.
"I know where you are going with this Salazar, but those are Death Eaters in there. They aren't going to give up one of their own, even if he did just kill his own child." He replied.
Salazar sighed again. He knew Godric had a point.
"Just disillusion yourself and keep a lookout. This won't take much longer." Godric said, as his head disappeared into the hole.
Salazar did disillusion himself and began studying the house. He knew there was no deterring Godric from his course of action. The man was out for Nott's blood and he was going to get it one way or another, and all Salazar could do was support him. It wasn't that Salazar didn't want Nott dead for what he had done, it was just that he was trying to look for a better way.
But unfortunately, it seemed they were going to be doing this the Gryffindor way.
As he studied the house however, he could faintly hear a woman screaming in rage and see flashes of spell fire in the front room. He didn't know who or what that could be, but he decided to keep an eye on it. From his many views of Severus's memories of recent Death Eater meetings, he was vaguely familiar with the layout of the house, but He didn't know where exactly in the house Voldemort was though, and that unnerved him.
Movement on the opposite side of the ward line caught his attention, then a second later, Godric's head popped up above ground. He watched Godric climb out of the hole, then climbed in himself once Godric motioned for Salazar to follow. When they were both on the other side, Godric turned around and flicked his wand at the ground.
"See, I told you, lax, lazy, clueless idiots." He stated triumphantly, as they watched the hole disappear before their eyes, while leaving behind no evidence that the ground had been disturbed.
Salazar glanced at him and rolled his eyes. "Front door?"
"Yep, and I want to be the one to knock on it." Godric replied, as he took off running.
Voldemort sneered at the quivering man that was kneeling at his feet.
"What do you have to say for yourself Nott?" He hissed maliciously. "I have to find out from Crabbe, who found out from his son, that your son can speak Parseltongue!" He shouted.
"M-M-My L-Lord please." Nott begged. "I didn't want you, or anyone, to think I was trying to compete with you, or think myself your equal. That is why I have hidden my gift from you."
Voldemort glared at the sniveling man, but nodded his head in mild acceptance of the excuse. "Where is your son Thaddeus? I wish to speak to him, for he may be able to give me information about my ancestor. He has known Potter ever since first year, and I know for a fact that Potter likes to confide in his pet snake. Perhaps your son has heard Potter speak of things he normally wouldn't say to anyone else."
Nott looked up at his Master and paled drastically. "M-My L-Lord. My son…he's…I killed him…"
"WHAT!?" Voldemort bellowed with rage. "You foolish simpleton! Crucio!"
Nott screamed as pain erupted all throughout his body, but a moment later, Voldemort ended the curse.
"You stupid fool." He hissed. "Your son could have been in possession of a wealth of information!" He yelled, but as he raised his wand to curse the man again, the house was rocked by an explosion, followed closely by shouting and spell fire.
Voldemort glared at the door of the room, then glanced at Yaxley, who was standing beside Augustus Rookwood along the far wall.
"Go tell Bellatrix that I said LEARN TO IGNORE IT." He shouted.
"Yes, My Lord." Yaxley said as he made his way to the door, but he stopped suddenly when the sound of Parseltongue sounded all throughout the house.
Godric and Salazar burst through the disintegrated front door and immediately began firing off spells. The Death Eaters, who were lounging around the front room watching the nightly entertainment of Bellatrix vs. Tiny Voldemort, immediately leapt to their feet, but they were so unprepared and caught unawares that Salazar and Godric were quickly able to disarm and incapacitate them. Salazar vanished the legs of one, beheaded another, who did manage to fire off a killing curse, and laid another out with a simple stunning spell.
Bellatrix and Dolohov weren't as simple to subdue, but Godric was able to stun Dolohov with an unseen stunning spell, after trading several spells with the ruthless wizard. Then he brought down Bellatrix with a fire whip spell, which caught her around the legs and ankles and jerked her off her feet. She screamed painfully due to the major burns she received, but fell unconscious when Godric nailed her in the head with a concussion hex, which left her bleeding from the ears. The fight only lasted a minute or so, but as silence descended, both Founders remained wide-eyed and alert.
Though Tiny Voldemort received a stunning spell from a trigger happy Godric, but he just coughed and stood up with a grin.
"Visitors!" He shouted enthusiastically. "We never get visitors! Welcome, welcome!"
Salazar just looked at Godric and snorted. "He's 'your fault'." He said simply, as Godric smirked, then his eyes darkened as he surveyed the damage and the unconscious or dead bodies that littered the place.
"Do you see Nott?" Godric asked, causing Salazar to shake his head.
"No." Salazar replied, but then he narrowed his eyes and cast a voice amplifying charm. "Give up Thaddeus Nott, and no one else will get hurt or die. We only want Nott. He killed his own child and we want justice. Give up Nott, and we will leave quietly."
Meanwhile at the back of the house, Voldemort's head snapped up in shock.
"Potter!" He shouted in disbelief, as Nott began whimpering and crying loudly from his spot on the floor. "Shut up you pitiful fool! I have half a mind to give you to them!"
"What do we do My Lord?" Yaxley asked nervously.
"Grab that sniveling idiot and follow me." He said, as he jerked open the door and stalked out of the room.
The air in the front room of the house grew colder, causing Salazar and Godric to shift their positions slightly as they caught sight of Voldemort making his way towards them. They saw two Death Eaters on either side of him, with one of them dragging a whimpering frightened man behind him.
Voldemort stopped and looked around at all the fallen Death Eaters, before turning his furious gaze to the Founders.
"Is that Nott, Salazar?" Godric asked, causing Salazar to nod.
"That's him." He stated.
"Give the child murdering bastard to us, and we will leave quietly." Godric demanded.
"There is no reason why we can't reach a semi-cordial agreement here tonight. You can't kill us, and we can't kill you. The only ones who will die tonight is your own Death Eaters, and I think you are smart enough to realize that." Salazar added, as Voldemort caught sight of the severed head of one of his Death Eaters. "He killed his own Heir, give him to us so we can obtain justice for Theo."
There was a small startled gasp from the next room over, but no one paid any attention to it. Voldemort however, glared at Salazar.
"Killed his own child, his Heir, and you want justice? Bit of a hypocrite aren't you, Ancestor." He hissed.
"You're not an innocent child, nor are you my son. You are my many times great grandson, true, but you are also a rabid dog that needs to be put down for your crimes against the wizarding world. Give us Nott, and we leave quietly." Salazar repeated, as Voldemort seethed in anger.
"Or we start killing more Death Eaters." Godric added, as he pointed his wand at Bellatrix, who was starting to regain consciousness.
Voldemort carefully studied Godric, then looked at Bellatrix and her severe injuries, before once more glancing over at the severed head. Finally, he turned to Yaxley.
"Give the sniveling idiot to them."
"My Lord!" Nott cried out in shock, as Yaxley tossed him towards the Founders. "Please! No! Please don't! My Lord!"
"You have displeased me tonight Thaddeus, and your foolish actions have brought them right to my door. Why should I sacrifice my best Death Eaters because of your stupidity, when I can simply give my ancestor what he wants and avoid further conflict tonight? You should know by now that I don't tolerate mistakes." He replied coldly, as he turned around and walked away.
Nott screamed in pain when Godric's fire whip wrapped around his neck. He was then jerked backwards and dragged out of the house like a rag doll, as Salazar and Godric slowly backed out the door. Once they were in the front garden, they stunned Nott, disarmed him, and checked him for portkeys.
The last thing they heard before they apparated away was, "See, I told you all Godric was a friendly fellow. We should invite him over more often!"
Amelia and Moody sighed loudly and sat back in their chairs, after having watched the pensieve memory from start to finish. They were in Auror headquarters, but Nott had been taken to Hogwarts, where he was locked up the prison cells and awaiting trial.
"I almost wish you had killed the witch." Amelia said, as she took off her monocle and rubbed her eyes. "But then, it would have been in cold blood since she was already down and I would have to charge you with murder." She added, as she looked over at Godric.
"Aye, true, but some parts of the law become a grey area in times of war." Moody said. "Lestrange is a Death Eater."
"Yes, she is, and I suppose you're right." Amelia said with a tired nod.
"I wish I had killed her. Now she's free to hurt more people. Neville is going to be angry at me." Godric said with tears in his eyes. "And if you're wondering why I reacted so strongly to Theo's murder it was because of guilt."
"Guilt?" Moody asked.
"We knew Theo was a Parselmouth. We found out at Hogwarts just before break, as you know." He said, causing Moody and Amelia to nod. "Nora told him that we could protect him, but we never had a chance to talk to him again, what with Severus's condition and all that happened afterwards. I forgot about Theo and then holiday break came, and…and…now…" Godric stuttered, as he started sobbing heavily. "I forgot about him, and let him go home unprotected. Theo trusted us to protect him, and we failed him." He sobbed.
Salazar, with tears in his own eyes, put his arm around Godric as the distraught man sobbed heavily.
"Take him home." Moody said softly. "We will move forward with Nott's trial and he will be given to the dementors for his crime. We just need to get our evidence together, take official statements from Poppy about Theo's injuries, and also speak, officially, to Aberforth."
"We understand." Salazar said quietly, as he helped Godric to stand. "Come on, my friend, let's get you home."
Severus softly cried out in pain as the stray cruciatus curse caught him in the side, but he didn't dare move or bring attention to himself, as Voldemort stormed around the room in a rage. He had been called away to a Death Eater meeting that was now being held in the dilapidated Lestrange Manor. Voldemort had immediately moved his base of operations as soon as the two Founders had left the Parkinson's house.
"How did they find Nott? How did they know where he was!?" He shouted.
"My Lord," Rookwood spoke up, "perhaps there was some truth to the rumor of the tracking charm Lucius spoke about."
"Crucio!" Voldemort shouted, causing the man to cry out in pain. "Do not speak unless spoken to, and DO NOT speak that dead fool's name in my presence! That tracking charm is supposedly on me or the dead fool, not Thaddeus Nott!"
"My Lord, if I may?" Severus said softly.
"Speak Severus." Voldemort said somewhat calmly. "Do you have information?"
"I'm not sure, My Lord, but I have a theory on how they knew where he was."
"And?" The Dark Lord growled impatiently.
"It." Severus said simply, as he glared in Tiny Voldemort's direction, who simply waved at him from where he was sitting on Voldemort's shoulder.
Voldemort let out a cry of rage, before swatting his irritating look-a-like off his shoulder. Tiny Voldemort just laughed loudly as he was kicked into the wall.
"Do you have anything else to add Severus?"
"Aside from It," he said motioning towards Tiny Voldemort, "it is possible that Nott had a tracking charm on him, My Lord. It is very likely that we all do, that is, all of us who weren't in Azkaban. I was in the hospital wing, with Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey, and McGonagall when Potter and Roffin were made aware of Theo's death. They entered the hospital wing, found out what Nott did to his son, and left after a brief spat between themselves, with Potter mumbling something about checking for Nott's whereabouts."
"So, either one is a strong possibility." The Dark Lord mumbled, but then he looked at Severus curiously. "What was their spat about?" He asked.
"Well, My Lord, Potter tried to stop Roffin from going after Nott, but Roffin told him to shut up, because the death of Theo at his father's hands was no different than the muggles killing their magical children in the old days. They sought justice then, and this was no different. That is what Roffin said."
"Seems funny, My Lord, that Severus knew they were coming, but yet didn't think to warn us." Bellatrix said, as she glared at Snape.
Severus glared back. "I was in the room with Dumbledore, the Mediwitch, and the Deputy Headmistress. A student from my own house was lying dead before me, Bella. I think it would have been most suspicious for me to run out of the room at the time and raise a warning. Besides, I had no way of knowing that Nott was at the Parkinson's house."
"Severus is right Bella." Voldemort said with an approving nod towards the Potions Master. "Dumbledore would have known right away what he was about to do, and an action such as that could have seen him thrown out of the Order. Even though I am majorly displeased with the death of two of my Death Eaters, it was no major loss overall and it could have been worse. Travers was beheaded, while Jugson had his legs vanished and bled out. Both were fools in the end. As for Nott, it was clear to me that it was either give him up or Bellatrix would die, and Bellatrix's current assignment is much more important than a stupid fool who does not think before he acts. His son could have held valuable information about Potter, since he talks to his pet snake in Parseltongue, but the stupid fool killed the boy before I could question him. I have no tolerance for incompetence. Also, Potter and Roffin are obviously not as soft as Dumbledore and his useless Order. They aim to kill, as evidenced by Travers and Jugson, so let that be a lesson to you all. However, Parkinson," Voldemort continued as he speared David with a glare. "You better find out how they breached my wards, or I'll kill you myself. Is that understood?"
"Yes, My Lord." David replied nervously.
"Now, this little stunt of my Ancestor's has proven one thing to me. He has a soft spot for children, which is a major weakness," he said with a with a cold smirk, "and it will be used against him. I will not let what they have done tonight go unpunished. I need to plan. Leave me to my thoughts. You are dismissed." He added abruptly.
It was with a heavy heart and a nervous sinking feeling that Severus apparated away with, but he made it a point to seek out Salazar and let him know that Voldemort never got his hands on Theo, or the information that the young man had been keeping safe the entire time. He also needed to warn everyone else that all the children were in danger, and mention that Bellatrix apparently had a secret mission, which seemed to imply something major was coming.
The entire Order was in a solemn mood for the next few days as word spread about Theo, but Godric was taking it the worst. The only thing that cheered him slightly was watching Thaddeus's guilty verdict being handed down by the Wizengamot, and him being kissed by the dementors shortly thereafter.
The day's leading up to Theo's funeral was an especially trying time for everyone, but given the fact that no one knew where his mother was buried, Godric demanded that Theo be laid to rest on Hogwarts's grounds. He advocated hard for Theo to be laid beside Helga and Rowena, and Salazar wouldn't deny him that.
The day Theo was laid to rest was rainy, cold, and gloomy, but many people still attended the funeral. Among the mourners were Ministry officials, the Order, many students from different houses, who had come to pay their respects, the entirety of Slytherin house, who were there to say goodbye to one of their own, and even Emeralda. Salazar nearly broke down in tears when a still grief-stricken Godric, in full view of everyone, blasted apart his own tombstone, dug up his own coffin, dumped the transfigured rock on to the ground, though no one realized that's what it was because he promptly vanished it, and loudly demanded that Theo's body be put in its place.
Everyone watched, with tears in their eyes, as Dumbledore himself lifted Theo's body out of the plain wooden coffin it had been put in, and gently laid it down in Godric's red and gold colored stone coffin. Then the Headmaster replaced the lid of the coffin and sealed it shut. Once Dumbledore had stepped away, Godric knelt down beside the coffin, placed his hand on the lid, and everyone watched as the red and gold colors slowly changed to green and silver.
"I'm so sorry we failed you. May Helga and Rowena protect you in death, seeing as Salazar and I, in life, could not. Rest in peace Theo." Godric whispered softly, then he stood up and watched as the burial magic activated.
Theo's coffin slowly lowered itself into the ground, and before their very eyes, the hole filled up with dirt, before smoothing out and leaving behind soft green grass, which was slowly turning white due to the soft snow that was beginning to fall. Shortly after, a Hogwarts house elf, dressed in a black mourning tunic, popped in with a granite tombstone which read:
March 14, 1980-December 26, 1995
An Innocent Life Taken Too Soon
May Those In His Company Protect Him In Death
Godric then stood up to face the mourners with a determined look on his face.
"I, Godric Gryffindor, Founder of Gryffindor House, do hereby decree on this day that any magical child, no matter their blood status, be allowed to seek sanctuary and comfort in the halls of Hogwarts at any time of the year, if they feel threatened by their family and friends." He stated loudly, then his eyes quickly found Salazar, who was standing in the front row. "Salazar Slytherin, as Founder and representative of Slytherin House, do you agree?"
"I do." Salazar stated loudly and without hesitation, causing Godric to nod.
"Pomona Sprout, as representative and Head of House for Hufflepuff, do you agree?" He asked, as he looked at the silently weeping witch.
"I do." She said with a choked sob, as Godric smiled slightly at her, before glancing at a solemn Flitwick.
"Filius Flitwick, as representative and Head of House for Ravenclaw, do you agree?"
"I do." The Charms master said as loudly as he could, causing Godric to nod at him, before turning his eyes to Dumbledore, who stood close by.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brain Dumbledore, as current Headmaster of Hogwarts, do you agree?"
"I do." Dumbledore said without hesitation, causing Godric to give him a thankful nod.
Then he turned towards the castle, which was hidden by the forest trees.
"Hogwarts, the decree that I have set forth this day has been agreed upon by the four Houses and current Headmaster. Do you, yourself, agree to be bound by this decree and swear to uphold it to the best of your ability?"
All the mourners gasped loudly when, off in the near distance, a loud bell tolled.
"Thank you, My Lady." Godric said loudly, before glancing at Salazar once again, who was proudly smiling at him. "We should have made that decree a long time ago."
"Indeed." Salazar replied softly, before Godric turned to address those in attendance.
"Theodore Nott was an innocent child who was killed by the hands of his own father. Let it be known that myself, Salazar, and the staff of Hogwarts will not tolerate such horrible and vicious actions. We will seek justice for any child under our care who comes to harm for any reason. With that said, there is another out there who also threatens the children under our care, simply because he exists. That other is, as you all know, Lord Voldemort." He said loudly, causing nearly everyone there to flinch. "The wizarding world is at war, and by extension, our children are in danger. It is up to us as their parents and educators to protect them to the best of our ability, which is why I now will do what I'm about to do." He said, as he looked at Salazar, who nodded knowingly. "Unless, of course, you want to do it."
"I think you have this part perfectly under control." Salazar replied, causing Godric to chuckle lightly before turning once again towards the castle.
"Hogwarts, our world is at war and the children under our care are in danger from outside forces. My Lady, at this time and by my blood, I, Godric Gryffindor, command you to…RAISE THE WAR WARDS!" He shouted, as he quickly cut the palm of his hand and smacked it on the ground.
A blast, which sounded like a cannon, echoed from the direction of the castle. Not a moment later, the mourners let out shocked cries as a forceful wave of magic rolled over the school's grounds, which caused nearby startled birds to suddenly take flight.
Then Godric turned to address the crowd once again.
"Now is not the time or place to be naming names or pointing fingers, but I will say this. There are representatives here today on both sides of the war, so I will warn you only once. Hogwarts is now in war mode. To attack her, or anyone under her roof, is perilous, for Hogwarts herself will show you no mercy. Our motto states 'never tickle a sleeping dragon', so perhaps you should think on that." He said, as he placed a hand on Theo's tombstone.
"I cannot stand before you today and say what Theo would have wanted the outcome of this war to be, because I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know him that well." Godric said in a grave tone. "I cannot say he was a supporter of the light, but nor can I say he was a supporter of the dark. All I ask of you today is that you remember this innocent young man who died needlessly. We failed Theo, but we will not fail anyone else." He added, before silently making his way back towards Salazar, who placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
There was a moment of silence as everyone gazed sadly at the tombstone and thought about what all Godric had said and done. Then, slowly but surely, everyone formed a line and began to pay their last respects to Theo, before making their way out of the forest and back towards the castle.
The last few days of the Christmas Holidays were nerve-racking for everyone in the Order as they waited for Voldemort to make his move, but as the day arrived for everyone to return to school for the next term, Salazar found himself having flashbacks to the beginning of the year as everyone ran around Camelot gathering last minute things.
Finally, however, everyone gathered in the foyer for last minute instructions, but before Godric could open his mouth to give them, Neville spoke up.
"Are you going to continue avoiding me when we get back to Hogwarts?" He asked loudly, as he glared at Godric.
Everyone in the foyer suddenly stilled as they eyed the both of them, though Godric bowed his head and shook it lightly from side to side. Everyone knew Godric had been avoiding Neville since the night Theo died, and they had a pretty good idea why. Augusta, however, looked at her grandson in shock.
"Neville, mind whom you are speaking to!" She exclaimed, causing Neville to give her a level stare.
"I know perfectly well who I am speaking to, Gran." He replied calmly. "I am speaking to Gordy Roffin, who happens to be one of my very good friends. A friend who has been avoiding me since the night Theo died, which is cowardly in my opinion." He said, causing his grandmother to gasp.
"Neville, how dare…"
"I do dare Gran." He said without remorse. "I dare to call him a coward because if Gordy hadn't been avoiding me, he would know that I'm not angry over the fact that he didn't kill Bellatrix." He said, as he turned his attention to Godric, who did nothing but study the white marble floor. "I don't blame him because that night was not about me, you, Mum, or Dad. That night was about Theo. If he had killed Bellatrix, Voldemort may not have given Nott up. At that time, justice for Theo was more important than revenge for the Longbottoms, and rightfully so." He added, as Godric finally looked up at him.
"I'm sorry." He said softly.
"It's alright." Neville said with a forgiving smile. "I've been trying to tell you that for days, but you keep avoiding me every time I walk into a room. Dare I say, you've almost been Slytherin with how you've gone about avoiding me." He added with a smirk, which made Salazar let out a strangled cry of protest.
Hermione just rolled her eyes and smacked his arm. "Oh, stop overreacting Harry. It's not a crime for a Gryffindor to act like a Slytherin at times."
"Yes, it is!" He yelped. "Especially that bloody Gryffindor! Next thing you know, the sky will turn green and the grass will be blue!"
Hermione let out an exasperated huff and shook her head, but she giggled as everyone else in the foyer to burst out laughing. Neville and Godric shook hands and gave each other a friendly hug, before Godric cleared his throat loudly.
"Alright, just like the beginning of the year, I'll go ahead with Nehum and send a patronus once I know what's happening on the platform."
"Before you go Jolly, I wish to say something." Nora said as she poked her head out of Salazar's robe sleeve. "If Bottom ever again causes Speaker any distress by saying Jolly is like a Slytherin, I will bite him. Also, Minions, Speaker has given me a wonderful idea; blue grass and green sky. I want you to look into that for my amusement. If you don't, I'll bite you too." She added, causing everyone to snicker loudly.
"We will do our best Nora." The twins said with a grin, which caused her to nod.
"See that you do." She said, before sliding back into Salazar's sleeve.
Godric snorted before glancing over the group. "Remember, stagger your arrivals, and I'll see you all when you get there." He said, just before he and Nehum flamed away.
When Salazar arrived at the station, he raised an eyebrow in shock when he saw Albus himself standing on a raised wooden platform overseeing the boarding process. He quickly joined the Headmaster, who gave him a friendly smile.
"I'm sorry for not letting you all know I was here, but it was a very last-minute decision. I left the castle about ten minutes ago."
"Last minute indeed." Salazar chuckled.
"I told Minerva that I wanted her, Pomona, Filius, and Hagrid to remain behind at the castle just in case something happened in my absence. I'll also be on the train with you and Mr. Roffin, as will Sirius and Remus. The train is a very tempting and vulnerable target, and I know Voldemort has no objections to attacking a train full of students. Severus isn't here though. He has elected to inform Tom of this sudden development." Albus whispered softly. "I also received a patronus from Minerva just after I arrived here. She told me that, with help from Severus, Hagrid has removed the ever-present towels from Miss Emeralda's eyes and asked her to guard the gates while he and Aberforth stand watch on the Hogsmeade platform."
"That was a smart move Dumbly. The Shrew can't eat anyone trying to sneak in if her eyes are covered." Nora hissed quietly, causing Albus to chuckle while Salazar grinned at him.
"Hagrid's back?" He asked, causing Dumbledore to nod.
"He arrived back just this morning. Unfortunately, however, he did not arrive with good news. He and Madam Maxime were not successful. Voldemort's people got to the giants first, and they have sided with him."
"Bugger." Salazar swore softly.
"Indeed." Albus said with a grave nod, as they watched the Weasleys arrive.
They spotted Albus and Salazar immediately and waved heartily, which caused the two elder wizards to wave back.
"I'm actually glad you're here. This action will put a lot of people at ease. Godric and I were worried about attendance dropping for this term." Salazar said, as he looked up at Dumbledore, who smiled softly.
"Thank you, Harry. Coming from you that means a lot to me." He said, causing Salazar to chuckle.
"I think we are way past the 'Harry' part, Albus. Call me Salazar, and I know Godric won't care if you called him by his true name."
"I consider it an honor." Albus replied with a respectful nod.
"Actually, there is something that I've been meaning to apologize for, but before I do, Moody would hex me senseless if I did not make sure you are who you appear to be."
"I have no doubt that he would." Albus laughed. "Please, ask me anything."
"Alright," Salazar said thoughtfully, before grinning. "In your duel with Merlin, how long did you last?"
Dumbledore eyes lit up with a twinkle and he chuckled heartily. "About twenty minutes, but I still say he let me get in a few lucky shots."
Salazar burst out laughing. "He's adamant that he didn't and you did very well from what I saw." Salazar replied, but then he smiled apologetically. "Even if you didn't have the Elder Wand at the time." He whispered very lowly.
This caused Dumbledore to gasp loudly. "How did…"
"It's what I've been meaning to apologize for. I didn't know what it was when I snapped it in second year, but I later learned that's what it was. Had I known, I wouldn't have done that. I'm so sorry."
"Aberforth must have told you, because he is the only one that knew about it." Dumbledore nodded. "But I forgive you. Given its history, it's probably better off that you did."
"Indeed. Antioch was a fool and that wand had a bloody history because of him. Maybe it is for the best." Salazar replied.
"So, you know the legend then?" Albus asked curiously.
"I do, and that actually reminds me of something else I need to talk to you about, but now is not the place to be mentioning such things." He said, as he knowingly glanced around at the bustling crowd of parents and students.
"I understand perfectly." Albus replied. "Come to my office tonight, if you can. I also have things I've been meaning to share with you and Godric as well."
"We will certainly make time this evening." Salazar replied, just as the train's whistle blew.
"Attention students, may I have your attention please?" Albus voice boomed through the train, once it had started to move. "Due to safety concerns, I ask you all to quickly find your seats and get settled. For today, I regret to inform you that our Honeydukes trolley witch, will not be coming around." He said, instantly sparking backlash along with loud booing. "However," he rushed to say, "I am happy to announce that several house elves are on board and they will be providing you with a small premade lunch from Hogwarts's kitchens." He said, causing the booing to suddenly turn into cheering, but then Albus continued with a small chuckle.
"I ask you all to remain inside your compartments for the duration of the journey, but if you do require something, please inform myself or Professors Black, Lupin, and Slytherin, along with Mr. Gordy Roffin, who will be patrolling the corridors this afternoon. Please be aware that I have asked the conductor to safely put as much speed into the engine as possible, and he has informed me that we should arrive at Hogwarts a good two hours ahead of normal schedule. Dinner will still, as always, be served upon arrival. Prefects, I wish to apologize for seizing your responsibilities today, but I only do so for your safety, so I hope you all understand. Thank you, and have a pleasant journey."
After the Headmaster's announcement, around twenty glassy-eyed students, who were spread throughout the train, stiffened as they heard a soft whisper echo through their minds.
"In light of this news and because of information I have been provided with, do nothing until I command you. Act normal."
"Yes, My Lord." They all whispered as one.
They were only three hours into the trip when Godric came across Sirius, who was leaning against the wall next to a girl's loo.
"Having fun?" He asked the unamused looking man.
"Loads. All I've been doing is escorting witches to the loo. One even asked if I wanted to join her." Sirius answered with a roll of his eyes, causing Godric to burst out laughing.
"I think you can handle it."
"A lot of the kids are asking if we are expecting an attack. I honestly don't know what to tell them." He said gravely, causing Godric to smile softly at him.
"Tell them the truth, like Salazar and I have been doing. Tell them if there is an attack to stay in their compartments with their heads down." He replied, causing Sirius to nod, but both of them turned to the door when it opened just a crack.
"Roffin? Is that you?" A voice whispered frantically.
"Pansy?" Godric questioned, then he moved slightly and looked at the crack, only to see the girl's eyes peering back at him.
"Yes, it is me. Is there anyone else around?"
"No." He answered as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What do you want?"
"Look, I know that I have been a straight up horrible witch these last few years, but you need to listen to me. There are imperiused students on board the train, and they are under the command of the Dark Lord himself. I don't know how many or who they are though." She said, causing both Sirius and Godric's eyes to widen in alarm. "And before you ask, no I'm not one of them. My father lied to the Dark Lord and told him I was sick in bed and suffering from women's problems, so he didn't use me, though my father suffered for my lack of availability." She added bitterly.
"Why are you telling us this?" Godric asked.
"I don't know." She said with a frustrated sigh. "I guess I just want to thank you. The night you came and got Theo's father, the Dark Lord moved out of our house. My life, and my parents' lives, have greatly improved since then. Not to mention, I have respect for what you did for Theo, both in tracking down his father and at his funeral. You also didn't make Theo a poster boy for the light side, when you easily could have."
"You're welcome and I thank you for the information." Godric said. "I must find Albus and Salazar."
"Yeah, no kidding." Sirius said with an audible gulp.
"Wait Roffin, before you go, may I request a boon?"
"What boon?" Godric asked with suspicion.
Pansy's pleading eyes looked up at him through the crack in the door. "The night you and Potter came and got Nott, the Dark Lord threatened to kill my father if he didn't find out how you breached the wards the Dark Lord put around our house. My father has not been able to figure it out yet, and the Dark Lord is losing his patience. Please, will you tell me how you did it?"
Godric stared at the girl with narrowed eyes, but after a moment, he nodded slightly.
"The wards didn't extend underground, so I tunneled under them."
Pansy visibly sighed with relief as tears pooled in her eyes. "Thank you." She whispered with a sob, then shut the door quietly. "I'll be just a few more minutes." She called out loudly.
Godric glanced at Sirius, who nodded grimly, before he went off in search of Albus and/or Salazar. He finally found Albus, who seemed to be talking with some curious Ravenclaw students.
"I can't rightly answer your question Mr. Goldstein, for I myself do not know what all Hogwarts plans to do now that she is in 'War Mode'. I can tell you, however, that all of the statues have been brought to life, as have the suits of armor. They have been constantly patrolling the halls ever since. The ghosts, as well, have changed. They are now more solid than they have ever been. I asked The Grey Lady why this was and she told me that Hogwarts is feeding the ghosts a bit of her magic. They are now able to move solid objects." He replied, causing all of them, even Godric, to gasp.
"We don't even know what all Hogwarts plans to do." Godric added. "She's never been in War Mode. This is the first time ever that we have had to raise the war wards."
"Really?" Cho asked, as she blinked in surprise.
"Yes, but perhaps we will address that at dinner when we arrive. For the moment, I need to borrow the Headmaster."
"Is there a problem?" Albus asked with a troubled frown.
"Yes, Remus is having problems with a student." Godric replied, then lead Dumbledore away.
When they were out of sight of the compartment full of Ravenclaws, Godric stopped and threw up a privacy charm.
"I lied about Remus and the student, but we do have a major problem." He said, just as he caught sight of Salazar hurrying his way towards them.
He quickly canceled the ward, but then threw it right back up once Salazar reached them.
"Sirius just filled Remus and I in. Are you sure she's not lying just so she could get the information about how we got past the wards?" He asked.
"She could have been, but I don't think she was. She seemed really upset." Godric replied, before turning to Albus.
He quickly filled the Headmaster in, who nodded gravely.
"We cannot afford to question Miss Parkinson's claim. We must prepare. Do the war wards extend to the Hogsmeade platform?" He asked, but Godric and Salazar shook their heads.
"No." Salazar replied. "They only encompass the grounds around the castle. The black lake is protected, but where the lake ends, so do the wards. Same with the forest. The front gate is the boundary for that portion and as for the backside, it stops at the mountains. Hogsmeade, including the platform itself, is vulnerable."
"We must still consider the train itself as a target." Albus said, as he closed his eyes and sighed heavily. "I was afraid of something like this. He knows we won't hurt students, especially if they are imperiused."
"I know." Godric admitted. "But I guess we can safely bet that most of the students would be in Slytherin, though we can't bet that is where they all will be from."
"Indeed." Salazar agreed. "Well Godric, how about we introduce them to their new prefect, and see if we can't provoke them into giving us more information?" He asked, causing Godric to nod grimly.
"I just hate that I had to replace Theo."
"I know, but if they are imperiused, then this will allow us to get a good look at everyone."
"True, but keep in mind, they don't have the glassy look unless he is actively controlling them at that moment." Albus warned, causing the two founders to nod knowingly. "In the meantime, I'll send word to Minerva to be ready in all areas, and I'll have her alert Poppy to be standing by with medical aid."
"Let's hope we don't need it." Salazar said, as he and Godric began heading in the direction most of the Slytherins were gathered.
Hermione stared at Sirius in horror as he recanted everything that he had heard from Pansy.
"We need to alert the entire Student Lead Defense Association." She said, as she looked over to a grim looking Neville.
"But we don't know if any of the members are part of the imperiused kids. We may tip our hand." He replied.
"You guys are still running that?" Sirius asked curiously. "I thought with Harry back, you'd stop meeting because you didn't need it."
"Yeah, we are, even if Harry is back." Neville said. "It'll help reinforce what Harry is teaching us and we can still practice other spells that he's not."
"I suppose that's true." Sirius said with a nod.
"Well, in any case, you can bet that most of Slytherin is probably part of those who are imperiused, so they wouldn't be alerted, and even if one of the Slytherins who are a part of the SLDA, like Pucey, is sitting back there with them, he'd just pass it off as a joke. I'm not sure about the other houses though." Draco added. "But if we use our code system, it might just work."
"What code system?" Sirius asked with a raised eyebrow.
Hermione grinned, reached into her bag, and brought out a small wooden toad.
"Fred and George made these specifically for the SLDA. We set up a code system for dealing with Umbridge, but it will work in an emergency too." She said, as she waved her wand at it. "Hem, hem. I refuse to put up with any more of these shenanigans. If you all don't behave, I will have you all EXPELLED!" She cried.
Meanwhile, up and down the train, students glanced at their bags as hundreds of toads began ribbiting loudly, before repeating Hermione's words in Umbridge's own voice. This caused everyone with a toad to glance at everyone else.
"I WILL HAVE ORDER!" Neville said, as he waved his own wand over his toad.
"That phrase," Hermione informed a shocked Sirius, "is to let them know there is an immediate threat, and the word 'expelled' means we could get seriously hurt or killed. If we get to the castle unharmed, I will cancel it by saying 'order had been restored', but if we get to the platform and nothing has happened yet, one of us will repeat the phrase 'I will have order'." She explained.
"In other words, three-quarters of the school is now on high alert." Blaise added with a grin. "We all expect an attack anyway, what with all of you, not to mention Professor Dumbledore, on board. This just lets them know the threat is very real."
"Genius, simply genius." Sirius grinned. "I'll go let Remus know. I assume that Harry and Gordy know all this?" He asked, causing them all to nod. "Brilliant." He said, as he opened the door to the compartment and disappeared down the corridor.
"They made you prefect!" Pansy shrieked, as she glared at Godric.
"Well, Professor Snape was angry when the Headmaster overruled his decision to make Crabbe a prefect instead, but yes, I'm the new prefect." Godric said as he leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. "So, if you have a problem with that, Parkinson," he sneered, "take it up with him."
"It was a toss-up between the two of us, but since I'm Defense Professor, Godric stepped up." Salazar informed them.
"How are you going to carry out your duties Gryffindor, if you don't even live in the real Slytherin common room?" Montague asked snidely.
"For your information," Salazar said harshly, as his eyes snapped to the boy "I have sanctioned the Snake Pit as part of the common room, so technically, Godric does live in the real common room. When this war is over and peace has been restored, I plan to make it assessable to all Slytherin students, unless the Head boy or girl for that year is a Slytherin, but judging by you lot, that won't happen for a while."
Montague scoffed loudly, but sat back down with a glare.
"I guess Malfoy was too scared to take up the position." Hestia said with a smirk, as several others starting laughing.
"There is nothing wrong with self-preservation." Salazar said offhandedly. "If you don't think that we don't know about your orders to kill him, think again."
"And how would you know that Potter?" Montague asked with a sneer.
"Get your parents to tell you about Tiny Voldemort." He said with a smirk, causing most of them to glare at him.
Suddenly, a loud ribbiting from Pucey's bag could be heard, followed by Umbridge's voice.
"Hem, hem. I refuse to put up with any more of these shenanigans. If you all don't behave, I will have you all EXPELLED!" Which was immediately followed by, "I WILL HAVE ORDER!"
"Those Weasley twins!" Adrian Pucey said with gritted teeth. "I'm going to kill them. They stuck that in my bag on purpose! They know I hated that woman."
"Yeah, even we know that woman was useless." Pansy said as she rolled her eyes. "And her voice sounds terrible. As for you Roffin, you just stay out of my way when we are on rounds."
Godric just scoffed and glared at the girl, but given her warning, Salazar suspected that she wasn't as angry with this as she let on.
"Well, I just thought I should warn you about my prefect status before the Headmaster announced it a dinner. I felt it was only fair." Godric said as he pushed himself off the wall.
"How very Hufflepuff of you, Gryffindor." Montague said spitefully, causing Godric to draw his wand.
"Speak disrespectful about Helga again boy, and I'll cut your tongue out." He growled.
Montague smirked. "My, my what would Hogwarts do about you threating a child?"
"You're of age, you big tosser." Godric replied with a sneer, causing Montague to glare at him.
Before anything else could be said though, Salazar grabbed Godric by the sleeve.
"Let's go. We've lingered here long enough. We have rounds to make." Salazar said, making a few of the Slytherins chuckle evilly.
"Yes, do go and protect the children. We wouldn't want any of them to get hurt, now would we?" Flora said with an evil smirk, causing Salazar to stop and study her for a moment.
"So, he is planning to attack the train. I figured he would, but thank you for the warning and confirmation Miss Carrow." He said with a grin. "Come on Godric, we got what we came for."
"Yes, we did." He said with a growl, as the two of them headed out of the compartment.
They didn't miss the absolute fury on the faces of some of the Slytherins, or the complete horror on the faces of others.
The rest of the train ride was quiet, but tense. When they were five minutes away from Hogsmeade though, Albus made another announcement.
"Students, in just a few minutes we will be arriving in Hogsmeade. Please be advised that the platform will be hosting a number of Aurors as well as Professors. Also, be advised that Miss Emeralda is moving around freely and that her eyes are uncovered. Normally this would mean that you could die by her gaze, since she is a basilisk, but Professor Slytherin has reminded me that she has what he calls 'blinders' on her eyes, so all she can do is petrify you. I suggest, if you don't want to spend the night in the hospital wing, that you not look at her. Please disembark in an orderly fashion and quickly make your way to the castle. Due to safety reasons, the slow-moving, tightly enclosed carriages will not be available, so keep running until you reach the front gates. We feel you will be faster on foot. There will be several people, including Merlin, keeping watch over you along the way. Leave all your belongings on the train, and they will be gathered by the house elves. Thank you."
The cry of, 'I WILL HAVE ORDER!', echoed loudly throughout the train, causing three-quarters of the students to palm their wands as the train made its way into Hogsmeade. When the train pulled up to the brightly lit Hogsmeade Station, everyone could see many Aurors on brooms hovering high above the train tracks, as well as many others on the platform.
When it finally came to a full stop, many people realized that they couldn't open the compartment doors.
"Precaution, I suspect." Hermione said as Draco frantically jiggled the locked handle. "And I highly doubt that a simple unlocking charm will unlock it."
"This has to be Harry's doing." Blaise said, causing Neville to nod in agreement.
"You think they are going to let us off by car?" Draco asked, as he turned around.
"Yes." Luna replied. "It makes sense really. Less people at a time for them to keep their eyes on. Less death overall, if something should happen."
"That was a bit morbid Luna." Ginny said anxiously.
"But she's got a point." Draco said as he nervously sat back down. "The Slytherins would be at the back of the train, so they'd be the last to get off, and from what Sirius said, this train car consists of us and a mix of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs."
"I'm still worried though. It's not just Slytherins who support him." Blaise said just as nervously, as they watched the first car being unloaded.
They watched as those in the first car ran towards the castle along the brightly lit path, before those in the second car were released. The process was repeated for the third and fourth cars, but suddenly the train was rocked by an explosion and lurched slightly to one side, as loud screams instantly filled the air. Yelling and spell fire could be heard close by them, as Professors and Aurors began shouting commands at the students still on the platform.
Ron suddenly spotted a large blurry seventh year, who was outside the window, raise his wand at their car.
"Blimey! Get down!" He cried, as he threw himself on top of Ginny, who was sitting beside him.
The widow exploded, showering them with glass, but Neville and Draco instantly returned fire, as Hermione and Blaise shielded them all. The seventh year was struck by a banishing charm and was promptly thrown backwards into a bench seat that was on the platform.
"They're escaping, they're escaping!" They heard Moody yell. "Broom riders, push them back in the car! Keep them contained!" He continued to yell, as more screams filled the air.
"NOOOO!" They heard Minerva scream. "She was just a first year! You bloody COWARD!"
"Dear Merlin, I have never heard McGonagall scream like that." Hermione whispered with tears in her eyes.
"Avada Kedavra!" Someone shouted nearby, causing them all to squeeze their eyes shut in horror.
"Pucey duck!" They heard Salazar shout frantically.
The train lurched again, causing Ginny to cry out in fright, but the car they were in lit up with a sickly green glow.
"Thanks Harry! Is he down?" They heard Pucey yell a second later.
"He's down!" Salazar confirmed.
Hermione and the others heard running footsteps above their heads, but kept their heads down seeing as they didn't know who it could have been.
"The Death Eaters have come!" Perenelle shouted.
"No, no, no, no!" Draco breathed. "We're still trap…"
"We have to get these kids out of here NOW!" They heard Godric shout. "There are still three cars full of students!"
The train lurched again, but a moment later Salazar's head popped up above the broken window.
"Apparate now! Go to the special room!" He commanded, causing Ginny to grab Luna and instantly vanish.
"Harry, I just had an idea! The house elves! Call for Dobby to get the others who can't apparate!" Neville shouted, then he promptly grabbed Colin and disapparated.
"Damn! Why didn't I think about that before!?" He swore, just as Hermione, Ron, and Blaise vanished with Susan, Dennis, and Draco in tow. "Dobby!
The little elf popped in right beside him, took one look around, and nodded.
"Dobby goes to get help!" He shouted, before disappearing again.
What happened next caused a lull in the fighting as everyone stared in shock at the fifty house elves who, with a tremendously loud crack, apparated onto the roofs of the remaining cars full of students.
"To the front doors!" Dobby commanded, then with an almighty crack, the remaining train cars simply vanished.
"Holy sweet Merlin!" Someone shouted in shock.
"I don't know how holy and sweet I am, but never underestimate a house elf!" Merlin called out, just before sending a blasting curse into a cluster of Death Eaters.
This sent them flying in all different directions and caused the fighting to begin anew. A few moments later, however, there was a large crash from up the path, followed by a Death Eater running for his life.
"Retreat! It's the basilisk! Retreat…aaarrrggghh!"
Thorfinn Rowle never spoke another word, because Emeralda squashed him flat then proceeded to swallow him whole. At that point the Death Eaters began to flee, but unfortunately, not before taking as many of their own unconscious and dead with them as they could.
Salazar stopped to survey the devastation, while also keeping a sharp eye out in case any Death Eaters were still lurking around. The platform was a destroyed mess. The train was damaged badly and half laying on its side, both from spell fire and the fact that the elves had practically ripped it in half when they apparated away with the cars. He saw several Aurors attending to the wounded adults, but by some miracle, he didn't see any dead students. There were some who appeared to be hurt, and noted that the few who were, were already being attended to.
There was one person who he didn't see though, and this caused his heart to freeze with worry.
"Where's Minerva!?" Salazar called out amidst the eerie silence that had descended.
"I'm over here!" She cried, causing him to sprint towards the slightly darker tree line. She was nearly invisible with her black robes on.
"Thank Merlin you're alright." He said skidding to a stop next her, noticing she was crouched down over a student.
"You have no idea how literal that is. If not for Merlin jumping in front of a killing curse for me, I wouldn't be here." She replied, causing him to sink down next to her with a shaky breath.
"She's alive." Minerva said with a relieved sigh, but then her voice turned cold. "It appears that one of the Carrow twins cannot cast a killing curse properly. Miss Edwards is only unconscious."
"Is that why you screamed 'coward'?" Salazar asked, causing Minerva to nod.
"Miss Edwards was running for cover and I saw Miss Carrow cast the curse at her back." She replied with a shaky sob, as Hagrid's booming voice whooped with joy in the background.
"All righ' Miss Emeralda! Ya set them runnin' for the hills!"
"Indeed, my dear." Salazar said, as he helped Minerva to her feet. "We thank you for your help."
"I just wish I could have gotten more of them Master." She replied.
"Why couldn't you have shown up sooner Shrew!?" Nora yelled from under Salazar's sleeve. "Speaker almost died at least twenty times! It's just like you to show up late!"
"Shut up Fish Bait! I had to wait until the little ones were safe so I wouldn't hurt them! And at least I was good for something! You spent the entire time hiding!" Emeralda replied with an angry flick her tail, which caused what was left of the train to fall over completely with a loud crash.
"Damn! Son of a…"
There was a loud thump, followed by Godric suddenly bursting out laughing.
"After all that, he gets himself petrified. Mad-Eye is gonna be pissed when he wakes up!" He shouted, causing many of the Aurors to start laughing.
"Well," Nora said with what sounded like a flippant hiss. "I'll have that big fat Shrew know that I was just waiting for the perfect chance to bite someone."
Salazar couldn't help but shake his head and laugh.
A few hours later, Albus smiled gently as he stood behind the staff table and gazed out across the great hall at all of the scared, nervous, and fidgety students that sat before him.
"I am pleased to inform you all that, despite the attack tonight, the only casualty we suffered was the loss of the Hogwarts Express."
This caused a massive cheer to erupt in the great hall as relief spread faster than a juicy rumor.
"However, however," Albus said as he raised a hand for silence. "We have suffered many injuries, some of them very grievous, but Madam Pomfrey, along with staff from St. Mungo's, are tending to the ones who are hurt. If you are worried about your missing friends or housemates, please check with Madam Pomfrey in the morning, but please do not inquire about them this evening, seeing as she is very busy." He added, causing most of the students to nod in understanding.
"What about the students who attacked us?" Someone asked.
"All twenty of them have been detained by the DMLE." Albus answered immediately. "They are currently stating that they were under the imperius curse, but we will let the Aurors and the use of veritaserum determine if that is true or not. Once we have news, we will pass it along to you, so that you are properly informed."
"Will they be allowed to come back to school?" Someone else asked.
"At this point in time, we don't know. Once the investigation is complete, a decision will be made." He said calmly.
Salazar knew, since it had already been discussed, that those who were unwillingly imperiused would most likely be allowed back, but those who welcomed it eagerly would not. Merlin had elected to go to the Ministry to help break the curse on the imperiused students and everyone was just waiting for word if he had been successful or not.
"I saw several people hit by the killing curse." Someone said. "You mean to say those people are still alive?" They asked in shock.
Albus smiled at all of them. "In order to cast the Unforgivables correctly, you need to not only be focused, but also have the magical strength to carry through with it. Your classmates who were imperiused and used the Unforgivables, were not magically strong enough to cast them successfully.
"My sister is alive!? I saw her! She was hit!" One sixth year boy cried.
"Yes, Mr. Edwards, your sister is alive. I checked on her myself." Minerva replied with tears in her eyes. "The spell simply knocked her unconscious. She is now under the care of Madam Pomfrey."
"Thank you!" Edwards shouted, just before a gut-wrenching sob of relief escaped from the boy.
Several of his friends shuffled closer to the crying Ravenclaw, before helping him up and walking with him out of the great hall, though they nearly ran into Severus who was making his way in. When Salazar spotted him, he sucked in a deep breath and quickly ran an expert eye over the man, as Severus simply glared at the Ravenclaws who continued on their way. He appeared to be fine though, which eased a great worry immediately.
Salazar saw him glance over the great hall. His eyes lingered on the half empty Slytherin table, before looking towards the Gryffindors. Salazar almost smiled when he caught sight of Severus eyeing Hermione, Neville, Ron, Fred, George, and Ginny, along with Draco and Blaise, in turn. It was almost as if he were assuring himself that they were alright.
"Tears of joy and relief," Albus said, causing all the students to focus on him once again, "such as the ones Mr. Edwards were displaying just now, are nothing to be ashamed of. However, since Madam Pomfrey is terribly busy at the moment, if you find yourself needing a calming draught I'm sure Professor Snape will be willing to give you one." He said, causing Severus to sneer at him as he swept over to the staff table and took his seat. "Though," Albus continued with a smile, "I'm sure Professor Slytherin or Mr. Roffin would also be glad to assist you."
"HA! Godric is pants at potions." Salazar laughed loudly. "You'd be better off asking the giant squid for one!"
"Shut up Salazar!" Godric yelled, causing the students to snort and chuckle.
"Did I ever tell you all about the time Godric was trying to brew a simple pepper-up potion?" He asked rhetorically, though still causing some of the students to snort and giggle. "Helga, who was our potions mistress and Professor, had gone on an extended outing to gather some ingredients that simply were not available in Scotland at that time. Well, one of our students fell sick and Godric decided that he was going to brew the poor lad a pepper-up potion. He brews it, then brings it to me because 'it didn't look right'. Now, keep in mind that the potion is supposed to be a bright, almost pinkish red, but this one was almost black." He said, causing the students to start chuckling. "He says to me, 'I don't know why it looks like this, but I've finished it.' I said to him, 'Godric, that's not a pepper-up potion, that looks like something you dug out of the loo.' He says, 'it is so a pepper-up potion. My hat may have fallen in the cauldron, but I fished it out.' Needless to say, we, meaning Helga, Rowena, and I, never let him near another cauldron." He finished, as those in the great hall burst into hearty laughter.
"Shut up Salazar!"
"And with that fun, light-hearted story," Albus said, as he wiped tears of laughter out of his eyes, "let us all enjoy our overdue dinner!"
It was a completely exhausted staff that gathered in the staff room later that evening, but once the door was shut, Salazar grabbed Severus by his robes, spun him around, and really looked him over.
"Are you alright? Do you need anything?" He asked.
Severus shook his head lightly. "No, I'm fine." He said quietly. "But I cannot say the same about the Carrow siblings. Amycus is dead, and after the Dark Lord killed him, Alecto attacked him with a vengeance. He tortured her into insanity." He said, addressing the room at large. "He did not expect so many Death Eaters to come back injured or dead though. He knew the students would be overpowered easily, so that's why he sent the Death Eaters in once you all had gotten them under control. I did not know he had placed the children under the imperius curse until I showed up to warn him that you," he said, looking at Albus, "were on the platform and would be taking the train back. I was not able to come back and warn you all, because he wanted me to stay and brew a few simple and quick healing potions, but it is clear to me that you all found out before the attack. Did the students attack early or something? What happened on this end?" He asked in a great rush.
"We were warned by Pansy." Godric said, causing Severus's jaw to drop.
"Parkinson?" He asked in a shocked tone.
"Yeah, as surprising as it is." Godric replied, then he told Severus the whole story of how that came to be.
"That girl is more cunning than I give her credit for." Severus said as he leaned tiredly back in his seat.
"Indeed." Salazar agreed with a nod. "Though Godric and I confirmed it by going into the Slytherin compartment under the guise of letting them know that he is their new fifth year prefect. It was one of the Carrow twins who unwittingly confirmed the attack. I thanked her for the warning in order to protect Parkinson to some extent."
"Well," Severus said, as he looked around the room. "That explains why we went after the Carrows then. Their nieces aren't very bright to begin with though. I'm guessing, based on the light-hearted laughter in the great hall this evening, that we didn't lose anyone on our side. Though I must admit, I was thinking the worst when Mr. Edwards passed by me when I came in."
"You'd be correct in your thinking." Albus said. "We do have those who have suffered major injuries, but Poppy assures me they have been transferred to St. Mungo's and are on the mend. Those with minor injuries are still here in the hospital wing."
"The laughter started when Moody got himself petrified though." Godric chuckled.
"Petrified?" Severus asked with a snort.
"Yeah," Salazar said with a grin. "Nora and Emeralda were arguing, causing Emeralda to get mad. She knocked the Express, which was already about to fall, the rest of the way over. Moody, being the paranoid codger that he is, whipped around at the sound and well…"
"Petrified himself." Severus finished with a laugh. "He's going to be pissed when he wakes up."
"That's exactly what I said!" Godric exclaimed.
"That is actually something I've been meaning to ask." Minerva suddenly said in confusion. "How come Alastor can look at Miss Emeralda with his magic eye and not be petrified?"
This caused Albus to somewhat shrug. "I don't know to be honest. It's possible that since it is a magical eye and not his real one, that it doesn't count as really looking at her."
"It's a good theory and makes sense actually." Salazar said with a nod. "But we'd have to ask him to be sure."
"I suppose so." Severus said with a tired nod. "I also have something else that the Dark Lord mentioned to me today. He wants Excalibur soon and with school back in session, I've run out of excuses."
Salazar nodded. "I understand. I'll talk with Hermione tomorrow and let her know, so don't be surprised if you have to give the normally compliant girl a detention for back talking a Professor." He said with a chuckle, causing Severus to snort.
"I'll think up something particularly nasty to taunt her with." He said with a smirk.
"That shouldn't be too hard." Godric said with a laugh.
"Will the new wards even let you carry out your plan?" Flitwick asked nervously, causing Salazar to pucker his lips in thought.
"You know what Filius, I actually don't know."
"How can you not know!?" Pomona asked in shock.
"We just don't know." Godric replied. "We've never had to raise the war wards before. These wards were created for war, not every little minor skirmish, and even in the old days, it was just small bands of muggles that came. Nothing really to raise them for."
"All four of us created the wards, so even if Helga and Rowena were still alive, none of us could tell you what they would do. This is all Hogwarts herself, and since she was created by all four of us, she has a bit of our personality. She's always been semi-sentient, but the war wards just give her that extra ability to do what she sees fit. Hogwarts herself is now in charge, not us." Salazar added.
"So, she could kill me if I carry out the plan with Miss Granger." Severus said nervously.
"I don't think she would go that far." Salazar said. "She knows you fairly well since you are a Professor and have lived here for the better part of fifteen years. She knows you're a bit crabby sometimes, but to actively hurt a child? I'd like to think she would give you the benefit of the doubt. It could be similar to what happened with Albus in forth year. Though the eagles talking threw us for a loop. How she was able to do that, I still don't know."
"Nor I, but she could simply send a ghost to find out your intentions, or a suit of armor to escort you to Albus's office and let him deal with you. She could alert the nearest other Professor or Poppy, even Salazar and I, if we were closer. The worst she might do is stun you." Godric said with a shrug, causing Severus to glare at him doubtfully.
"Or she might not do anything at all simply because we all know about it." Salazar added.
"Might?" Severus asked with a raised eyebrow.
"What do you want us to say, Severus? We simply don't know what she will do. I highly doubt she will kill you though." Salazar replied. "Do you want us to tell her, 'Hey Hogwarts at some point Severus Snape will imperious Hermione Granger. We know about it, it's a plan to help us for the war. We trust him not to hurt her. Allow him to carry out this task?' I don't think she will understand exactly what we are talking about…"
The single tolling of the bell startled them all, and caused Salazar to stop in mid-sentence. He raised an eyebrow as he looked towards the ceiling, but Godric chuckled loudly.
"My Lady, is that confirmation that you will allow this to happen, or not?" He asked, causing Salazar to glance at him dubiously.
"One question at a time Godric. She can't differentiate between the two. What do you want her to do? Bong once for yes and twice for no? I really don't think…OW!"
A white light had suddenly appeared from behind Salazar and struck him right on the back of his arm, causing Godric to burst out laughing as the others stared around in shock. However, the bell tolled once, causing Pomona, Poppy, and Minerva to giggle loudly, as a voice behind Salazar suddenly spoke up.
"Potsy is sorry for stinging yous Master Salazar, but Hoggywarts is directing her to do that." The little elf said with an apologetic smile, before promptly popping away.
"Remember that personality thing we were just talking about?" Godric asked with a snort. "Yeah, that was all Rowena." He said, as he pointed from Salazar to the spot where the little elf had been standing.
"Shut up Godric." Salazar said as he rubbed his arm.
"I guess Hogwarts really is in charge now." Pomona said with laugh, causing Salazar to glare at her.
"I almost can't wait to see what she will do next." Flitwick added, as he bounced excitedly in his seat.
Salazar just sighed loudly and shook his head, but Minerva giggled again as Albus looked at the Founders in confusion.
"I don't understand. Is it bad that she is acting like Rowena?" He asked curiously, causing Godric to laugh.
"It's bad for Salazar, because he always somehow managed to aggravate her."
"Whatever." Salazar said with a nonchalant wave of his hand. "I'm not concerned about aggravating mortar and stone…OW!"
"Potsy is sorry again, Master Salazar!" Came the slightly amused disembodied apology, which caused everyone in the staff room to burst out laughing.
"See?" Godric asked with a large grin, causing Salazar to huff loudly before standing up.
"Well I'm going to bed." He announced.
"Yes, go to bed before you insult Hogwarts again, thereby causing her to keep punishing you like a small child." Godric said causing the others to burst out laughing again.
Salazar just mock glared at him, before letting a chuckle escape as he headed for the Defense Professor's living quarters. He hadn't known what to expect by them raising the war wards, but if this was the end result, he certainly wasn't going to complain about it. It also, to some extent, provided a level of safety for Severus, because Voldemort, at some point at least, would want to know about the wards, and Severus couldn't tell him what they didn't know.