OOOOOOO Slytherin Dueling Pits OOOOOOO

Harry and Draco were standing across from each other waiting for the duel to start. Their duel would decide who would be the first year Prince, at least for a month before having to fight to keep the position. That doesn't even mention the audience they were performing for.

There were the upper years that would look to see if you were easy pickings, or worth taking under their wing. If you're the first, your family name could protect you from being tormented relentlessly, usually. If you're the winner though, you get someone to watch your back and teach you some cool spells, as long as you don't irritate them during the process.

Then there's the adults that were watching them. Some may not have children attending Hogwarts, but they did use this as an excuse to see how the other families' offspring were doing. Not to mention it was a good way to make alliances while enjoying a show, which wasn't always the case when attending a ball or event. Throw in the betting taking place, and just about everyone who knew about the tournament showed up during the two-day event.

"Potter and Malfoy, you are the two finalists for the first years." Snape's velvety voice brought the two's attention to himself. "You will duel until I till you to stop. The winner will then be the Prince for your year and will remain the Prince for a month before someone can challenge you for the Prince position, so do not get complacent." Looking at both boys, Severus made sure his thoughts weren't easy to read.

Looking a Draco, Severus could already tell that he wasn't going to take this duel seriously. Just because Harry didn't know about his heritage until recently, and only learned spells for under a month, Draco was discounting Harry. That was a mistake, no matter if he won the duel or not.

Looking at Harry, Severus could see that he was taking the duel seriously, even if he's nervous. That was good in Severus' opinion. That will keep Harry on his toes and ensure that he gave his best. Having already made alliances within Slytherin, this could help him make more and keep those that would attack him at bay a little longer. And the longer they waited, the greater the chance of Harry developing some fangs to protect himself with.

"To your starting marks. Bow. Begin!"

Harry was the first to strike, preventing Draco from taunting his opponent like he wanted to. Dodging stunner, stinging hexes and other spells Draco couldn't identify, Draco was quickly getting exhausted with all the movement. What he didn't know was that's what Harry wanted. Creating an allusion of birds flying towards Draco causing him to stumble into the spells he was herded into. Getting hit with a stunner and wrapped in linen caused Draco to fall hard.

"Potter, stop! You have won this round. Congratulations, you are the first year's Prince." Severus reversed the two spells on Draco and then made sure he didn't make a spectacle of himself anymore. The audience was quite before someone starting clapping, causing others to join in until everyone was standing while they clapped.

No one thought that a first-year duel could be that one sided. It caused many to rethink their opinions of one Harry Potter. Slapping down Malfoy verbally was one thing, but the totally savage defeat he showed his opponent was breathtaking to a lot of them. No matter if you were a student or adult, Harry just made a lot of people wary.

Harry walked out of the dueling arena and sat on the bench where the other first years were. Severus nodded while ensuring Draco made it to the Healer since he was limping from his fall. Coming back a moment later, Severus had Daphne and Millicent come into the dueling arena. Saying the same speech used for the boys, with Princess instead of Prince, and started the duel.

Unlike Harry's and Draco's duel, the girls were able to exchange spells and last longer. But in the end, Daphne won the duel, and a new moniker. The Ice Queen of Slytherin was the Princess for the first years.

OOOOOOO Professor Sprout, Hogwarts OOOOOOO

Professor Pomona Sprout, Herbology Mistress, was sitting in her quarters trying to figure out what Lady Gore wanted with her and Severus. The thought of her being needed beyond Hogwarts' walls flattered her, but also made her nervous.

She may be a great teacher, but beyond the students she worked with, meeting new people would set her on edge. Having anxiety issues since she was a young girl, Pomona would get so tongue tide and anxious that she would have panic attacks that worried her parents. The only time she was able to talk to someone was when she was helping their gardener.

Eventually, she was able to figure out that working with plants calmed her enough that she didn't freeze when faced with a new individual or group. She was even able to talk to people outside of a garden or greenhouse at times, if it was in small doses.

But that didn't mean that meeting someone new didn't kick up some anxieties that never went away. Especially since it seemed that Lady Gore wanted to do something that didn't seem to involve Hogwarts. Severus, trying to be considerate, told her that they could meet up in one of the gardens. Thankful for the kindness, Severus wasn't always known for making concessions for other people, she agreed and allowed him to set up the date. Letting out a breath, Pomona turned her attention to her new lesion plans. Now that she had a classroom, she had to change some of her teaching methods. After talking with Tiffany and Doris, she could see having some class time would be good for the students. Not everyone was able to find the beauty and relaxation of tending to Venomous Tentaculas.

OOOOOOOO Lady Jasmin Gore OOOOOOO

Jasmin sat in her room after a busy Saturday. Having breakfast with her children, taking care of business and ensuring none of her new 'family' members were planning anything out of line would tire anyone out. The fact that this was done before ten made her smirk. Very few could do what she did on a daily basis.

Going to Hogwarts for the Prince and Princess battles was a nice break from her usual day, even though she would miss being with her children. They were the only good things that came out of this marriage.

Taking a sip of her wine, Jasmin looked at the property deed before her. It was the main reason she went to the school. A small parcel of land in Hogsmeade that's undeveloped and waiting to be used. That's were Master Severus Snape and Mistress Pomona Sprout came into the picture.

Hogsmeade didn't have an apothecary for the villagers, and students' who were able to visit, to go to. Building one and having both names linked to the business would assure many that the products were top notch. If she could get them away from Hogwarts and into her new business, she would be set. One of the top brewers in all of Europe and the best Herbologist in Britain would be perfect for what Jasmin had in mind.

A small greenhouse to grow some of the more expensive ingredients would be Mistress Sprout's main concern, while brewing would be Master Snape's. And considering that Sprout was getting up in age, Jasmin had no doubt that she could tempt her to the shop in the next year or two, enough time to find a replacement. Not to mention that everyone knew Master Snape hated teaching, Jasmin was sure he would jump at the chance to brew and research potions full time.

A knock on her bedroom door caused her attention to shift before smiling at the little head that peaked through the now open door. Her oldest son, and first born, looked in nervously.

"Come in little one. Is there something wrong?"

"No, but we wanted to know if we could spend some time with you before going to bed?" Sal came creeping into the room, but still suspiciously close to the door.

"We?" Her three other kids came in looking unsure if they were welcome. A look that she hated and blamed on her departed husband, who hated children and only had them because it was expected of him. Thinking kids shouldn't be seen or heard were his thoughts on the matter and Jasmin wished the man had died sooner than he did.

"Of course, you all could come in." None of her thoughts about the man she married could be seen. "How about I tell you a story from my childhood?" Four little bodies surrounded her on the coach. With a smile, Jasmin made sure everyone was comfortable before telling them about the time she went to Greece with her family.

OOOOOOO Hermione Granger OOOOOOO

Hermione Granger looked at the bulletin board that showed everyone's grade by year. She was incensed that she wasn't the top student of her year, nor the second for that matter. She was third and Hermione Granger was never third in her life. She was always the top student, favorite of teachers, and the envy of other students. It didn't matter that they bullied her for having prominent front teeth, she knew that her former school mates made fun of her because she was smarter than them.

But now, she wasn't the smartest in her year, and what was worse, the two people that graded higher than her weren't even in Ravenclaw with her. No, it was Harry Potter in Slytherin and Cindy Notes in Hufflepuff.

How was it that the two people who were smarter than her weren't even in the house of intellectuals? It made no sense to her. Glaring at the board, Hermione spun away from it and up to her room. If she was paying attention to her surroundings, she would have noticed the affect she was having amongst her fellow students.

The first were those that sneered at her for being an uppity muggleborn, although their thoughts weren't as kindly worded. But worded nicely or not, they all thought that Hermione was a stuck-up little girl trying to prove her worth, and only showing how uncouth muggleborns were in the worst way. They couldn't wait until she was shown that she wasn't the know-it-all she pretended to be and the interloper that she was. They all hoped it was soon, for they couldn't stand how she would butt into a conversation and correct them. Like a first year knew more than a fifth year. It irritated everyone involved.

The second group, and consisting mostly of the first and second years, were those that mostly had to deal with an over-eager Hermione jumping into their conversations and trying to force her knowledge down their throats. They hated the unwanted, heavy handed, and at times condescending, advice on why they were wrong about something. Considering that she usually caught only a part of the conversation and not the context, her lectures usually had very little to do with the actual conversation. And on the chance that the lectures about a subject did involve what the person, or persons, were talking about, her insight was usually not wanted. Even if someone were stuck and couldn't figure out the question to homework, or what else to add to essays to give it an extra two to three inches, the way Hermione would steamroll into their personal space made many automatically avoid her.

The third group were the older years who didn't hate muggleborns, but were irritated that a first year would try and force them to study at every waking moment. They may be in Ravenclaw, but even the house known for studying something twelve different ways needed to take a break occasionally. Even the more understanding, like Penelope Clearwater, who saw a lonely girl that relied heavenly on books, were irritated by Hermione. And Penelope knew that if things didn't change soon, the girl was going to either break down by self-imposed stress, or be beaten down by bullies inside and outside of Ravenclaw.

Shaking her head, and wondering why none of the Perfects thought of this, Penelope made her way to her Head of House's office. If Hermione wouldn't listen to the Perfects' advice, or any upper year for that matter, then an authority figure was the next best option. Maybe the girl will even get assigned to a Mind-Healer that was arriving next week. Merlin knows that girl needed some type of help if she was going to survive seven years at the school.

OOOOOOO Perry Smith OOOOOOO

Perry Smith was thankfully leaving St. Mungo's and going to the seaside cottage that once belonged to his great aunt before she passed away. It was a three-acre plot of land with its own beach on one side and fields on the other. The cottage was small, by most wealth pureblood standards, with only seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a two-story library, a family and guest dining room, a small potions lab in the basement, and one tearoom that could comfortably host twenty people.

That the cottage wasn't the only building was a plus. Separate servants' quarters that once housed thirty workers is situated some feet away from the cottage. His aunt was known to host parties and outdoor events for charities, holidays or just because it was a weekend – the aunt was a people person to the extreme and needed little incentive to throw a party. A fact that many of her friends and family used and thanks to that would be perfect for what he overheard some of the other Healers talk about.

The fact that there were Hogwarts' students that were possibly abused by family (Perry was sure that Dumbledore knew about some of them) and weren't allowed to stay at Hogwarts over the Yule holiday almost caused Perry to scream at the unfairness. There was no way Perry was going to allow something like this to happen if he could prevent it. After he got his kids settled in their new house, thank Merlin they were able to stay at the hospital with him, he was going to stop by the Auror Department to see about temporarily taking the kids in. And if he was able to pick up some paperwork regarding an orphanage, then something was finally going right for him.

Perry was sure between getting to know his kids for the first time and the twice weekly Mind-Healer sessions, he would be able to look after some extra kids for a few weeks before they went back to school. And unlike Dumbledore, Perry wouldn't sell them off. There wasn't enough money in the universe for him to be even remotely tempted.

Maybe he should stop at Gringotts at well. The wards around the property could use some additions. Not to mention a couple of rings being held there. He may not be able to claim the Smith Lordship yet, but the Heir rings for both families could be given to Alexandrite "Alex" (nine) and Mica(seven). The little girl he was carrying would get some Smith property in her name. He would be damned if he left any child of his vulnerable and feeling like they had to marry to get a living.

OOOOOOOO Headmistress Doris OOOOOOO

Sitting at her desk and reading the Healer report about the children, Doris was incensed. Considering that barely a quarter of the student population has been looked at, and some of the readings told of long term or old abuse, Doris wouldn't mind hunting down the people responsible.

The number of possible abused children was at nineteen, and Doris was smart enough to know that there would be more cases. The fact that even one child had to fear the person that was supposed to care and love them was too much. Putting the report down, Doris looked at the school nurse and the head healer.

"Madam Pomfrey, I know that this may sound harsh, but how did so many students possible abuse go unnoticed?"

"Unfortunately, I usually don't see the students that often. Unless they are on the Quidditch team, overdo it with studying, become sick or have a Potions accident, there is a good chance that I won't see them the entire year.

"Even the muggleborns only come to me when their Head of House knows that they didn't get their immunizations. I just have to make sure that they aren't allergic to any of the ingredients and send them on their way."

"Be that as it may, I'm sure that there were some students who you noticed, or were brought to your attention?"

"Yes, and I told Albus about my findings. He would say that he would take care of everything, and since he was on the Wizengamot, I was fulfilling my oath to tell someone in law enforcement. When I would check the children again after the holidays or new school year, the child would not have any new injuries. And since the child would say everything was fine now, I thought that Albus did what he was supposed to do." Healer Grain spoke up after Pomfrey finished.

"I found some compulsion spells on some of the students. I made note of them and of the magical signature and forwarded them to the Auror contact. I've removed the compulsion spells and we've started the students on the required medical regiment for those needed. The Mind-Healers already have appointments with the students as well." Doris nodded her head in understanding.

She was thankful that Pomfrey wasn't covering up abuse and somehow breaking her Healer's Oath. She could even understand her not going to the Aurors like she was supposed to because technically informing Albus meant that the Hogwarts' Headmaster and law enforcement were informed, considering Albus was also Chief Warlock. Holding in the groan she wanted to release, she refocused on the ladies in the room.

"Thank you both for your reports, and continue to forward the cases to Auror Shacklebolt. I will also look at the contract for those working in the school infirmary. I'm going to make sure that any type of Healer working here must tell two people just in case someone holds two or more titles like Dumbledore. I'm sure this loophole in the contract was not the first time it was abused." Both ladies nodded, although Pomfrey looked heartbroken about the entire thing.

And Doris couldn't blame her. Pomfrey may not have done anything wrong, but she was used to continue the abuse of the same children she promised to help and heal. Hopefully, she won't quit because of this, because Pomfrey was a great school nurse.

Dismissing the two after some more clarifying question for the two, Doris sat back and let out a cleansing break.

"Don't worry, dear, you're doing extremely well considering. I'm sure by November everything will calm down." One of the old Headmistress said.

"Thank you. And if I want things to calm down, I better get back to these reports. The Warders are coming here in half an hour and the Regulation Team will be here tomorrow after they're done with the containment field." The previous Headmistress nodded and left her painting to go visit another one. Shaking her head, Doris went back to the parchment work before her. Getting the new History of Magic teacher was taking longer than expected. She was glad that she only had twelve classes to teach, or she wouldn't get anything done.

OOOOOO Albus Dumbledore OOOOOO

Albus Dumbledore was sitting in his prison cell miserable. Both his hair and beard were chopped off to a foot each, and what was left was already tangled and dirty. He was also cold and wet from the climate outside and what little indoor protection the cell gave. The fact that they only got cold showers once a week and 'new', threadbare prison garb afterwards didn't help one get warm.

Cursing once more in his head, Albus thought about the time he was sentenced to. The thought of spending years here almost made him weep in despair. He knew he might not survive the time, but if he did, then he could rise above it. Then he could guide Harry Potter to defeat Voldemort and everyone will see that he isn't a villain. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore will go down in history as a leader of the light, a hero, and protector of innocents. Everyone will remember his name without the taint only few are alive to know about. Albus kept repeating that in his head, hoping it would lessen the effects of the Dementors.

With another shiver, Albus felt his despair growing and his bones grow colder because of the Dementors. Not that he would notice the cold at the moment since he'll be reliving some of his worse memories. Bringing up his rapidly diminishing mental shields to lessen the effect, Albus started reliving the day he discovered his sister after she was assaulted. That was the day that everything started going downhill for the Dumbledore household.

OOOOOOO Sunday Morning, Ministry of Magic OOOOOOO

Dolores Umbridge was sitting at her desk fuming over the unfairness of it all. Ever since Black's trial, Cornelius has been too busy to even notice her and all her hard work, let alone drink the tea she prepared especially for him. This would not do. She put to much time and effort into getting all the ingredients needed for everything to go to waste, especially for the man she loves.

Dolores remembered the first time she looked at Cornelius. He was a strapping young Auror looking to make a difference, and the ambition to eventually go into politics. Dolores was a lowly clerk, who knew her looks weren't anything to write home about thanks to her muggle mother.

But Cornelius noticed her one day when her idiot boss was caught accepting a bribe. He saw that she had nothing to do with it and that she could help with the investigation. He was nice to her when others looked down at her, and saved her career within the Ministry. She never forgot that, nor the lessons he taught her to get the information needed for the case.

And because of that, slowly but surely, she began to claw her way up the Ministry latter. She found information on others and used them expertly. She would blackmail them into doing her bidding, or help Cornelius with his career. Throughout all of this, Dolores' feelings for Cornelius grew from a small crush to love. But Dolores knew nothing would happen since he was already married and had a son that he loved. That didn't matter to her though. Dolores was simply happy to have a friendly face smile at her and thank her for all the hard work she did.

And when he finally moved into politics and eventually Minister, Dolores was brought along as his Senior Undersecretary. It was then that Dolores knew he returned at least some of her feelings. Cornelius could have easily chosen someone else with more seniority and pull as his Undersecretary, but he choose her, Dolores Umbridge. She would just have to be patient.

Cornelius couldn't leave his wife, but everyone knows about her sickly constitution. She'd be lucky to survive long enough to see their son graduate from Hogwarts in a year now. But that didn't matter to Dolores now.

No, what matters is the tea that Dolores began feeding Cornelius a year into his Ministry appointment. The tea that was technically a potion, but one of the few that wasn't detected during the bi-yearly physical the Minister was madated to take to ensure no spells, curses or potions were in his system that wasn't supposed to be there. Dolores smirked at finding a way around that though. The ingredients just needed ten minutes to seep and a counterclockwise stir of honey for the tea to take on the properties of a mild compulsion charm.

Whispering into her Cornelius' ear, she helped him become the best Minister he could be. No longer did he look down on the proper purebloods taking bribes, or want to help those disgusting mudbloods who trampled over everything, and don't get her started on the half-blood abominations like centaurs and werewolves. Not to mention the implanted idea to marry her after the appropriate grieving period.

It didn't matter that she wasn't a pureblood. She made sure that her father never spoke up about his marriage to her muggle mother, or her brother that didn't have the decency to have magic. The both of them would never darken their door again, and now everyone believes that she is from The Ancient and Noble House of Shafiq, member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. The fact that Lord Shafiq is old, and a recluse insured that he's never informed of the deception.

But all of her planning is starting to unravel. Cornelius was too busy to sit down to enjoy his usual cup of tea or listen to her suggestions on how to run the Ministry. And with his true personality coming through, someone would figure out something was wrong if he suddenly went back to before. Amelia, unlike her predecessor, would notice and force a more thorough medical exam, and Dolores was sure the tea would show up then. She may not have been great in Potions, but she knew enough to be wary of discovery. She would not do well in Azkaban with the other rift raff.

Giving the Minister's door one more longing gaze, Dolores went back to her paperwork while trying to figure out how long to wait before giving her 'beloved' his special tea. Hating that she didn't have the magical strength to put the tea under a long-term stasis charm, Dolores went over the latest court cases coming up.

OOOOOOO Gringotts, Ragnorock Office OOOOOOO

Ragnorock was sitting at his desk going over more paperwork related to the Potter holdings. Most of Riphound's previous accounts were re-assigned to other goblins, but Potter's and two others, were being overseen personally by Ragnorock to insure that the holder of the accounts didn't withdraw their patronage from the bank. The shame alone could case many more to withdraw, and Ragnorock didn't want another war on his hands because a wizard thinks they can create another bank. Those hard-won treaties were there for a reason, and he didn't want to risk some Ministry flunky thinking they could put even more sanctions against the Goblin Nation.

Shaking his head, Ragnorock focused back on the report in front of him. It seemed that the weather in Godric's Hollow was finally cooperating. He'll be able to send out a team of squibs to the cemetery in the town and have the remains of James and Lily Potter dug up and transported to the Pottery to be reburied. Sending out the required orders, Ragnorock turned to another matter.

The decontamination team that he needed to be put together for the Potter Mansion. He needed to be incredibly careful to ensure that the team don't insult the soon to be Potter Lord, or at least have enough since to not speak. Harry Potter hasn't blamed Gringotts for the mismanagement of his accounts, but that could easily change. That was not something he was going to allow to happen on his watch. Hopefully, when everything was finally in order again, Ragnorock will be able to pass all three accounts to other Goblins. Managing these accounts along with the British goblins was headache inducing on the best of days.

But that was something to worry about in the next couple of months, and needed to be handled carefully. He could assign these last three accounts to already established account holders, or one of the new ones that have passed the necessary tests. Both have pros and cons to choose from.

An established account holder would know how to handle such vast estates. And with Riphound still being tortured, it will be unlikely that they'll make the same mistakes as him. That will also mean that the goblin might try another technique to steal from the customers.

On the other hand, a new account manager would be terrified of joining Riphound. Not only that, but they would also work hard to keep the account and get others. The drawback was the possibility of the goblin making a mistake that couldn't be fixed before the wizard found out. The only reason the British wizards weren't trying to knock down Gringotts' doors is because Dumbledore was involved in the theft.

With another sigh, Ragnorock pushed those thoughts away and focused on the accounts before him. And probably visit Riphound after he was done. That always relieved stress before returning to his family.

OOOOOOO Ministry Regulation Team, Hogwarts OOOOOOO

Patrick Swain looked at his team and the centaurs to insure everyone was ready for what was about to happen. The acromantula colony was going to be a pain to contain, but with the centaurs' help, the possibility of death by giant spiders decreased significantly. And if everything goes correctly, none of the students would know until after the fact and the team was long gone. With a sigh, Patrick pushed off from the tree he was leaning against and caught the attention of the group.

"Alright everyone, by now we should know what we are about to do. Four teams of six will set up the netting ward while one of the hunting parties will pick off any acromantula caught outside the ward and provide back-up if needed. Myself, James and Firenze will coordinate between everyone to insure we all come back to our families by the end of this." Everyone nodded at this and Patrick was glad that nobody on his team were prejudice against creatures. He doubted that he and his team would be able to set up the netting ward without waiting for five extra teams, at least.

"James is going to pass around the ward stones to each team and a map with the location of where the stone needs to go. The maps also will show where everyone is thanks to the talismans everyone is wearing, so please don't lose it. The talismans are also an emergency portkey that will bring you here if you are injured or surrounded and need an escape." Some of the centaurs didn't like wearing the talismans, but were convinced to use them for the moment. Better to be safe than sorry in everyone's minds. "With that said, here is some antivenom in case someone gets bitten."

Patrick went around to the teams and gave the vials to every ward team and hunting party. Some of the centaurs seemed surprised that there were given a vial, and Patrick couldn't blame them. Centaurs and Ministry employees were known to have issues, especially when it comes to his department, but nobody on his team thought that centaurs were beneath them. Once everything was passed out, Firenze spoke up.

"The stars have shown that change is upon us. This is the first step to that change. Be well. Protect yourselves, the forest and the innocents today." All the centaurs nodded at this, and every wizard felt a shiver of foreboding with those words. They had a feeling that today was going to be one of those days that FUBAR would be uttered.

OOOOO 30 minutes later OOOOO

Everything had indeed gone FUBAR in a handbasket and Patrick was mentally cursing whatever higher power that was laughing their ass off at the moment. The fact that things were going well at the beginning should have told Patrick that something would happen, especially with a big acromantula colony as this one.

All four teams were able to get into position and started to bury the stones while the centaurs stood guard. Mark, Nathan C., Nathan S., and Stephan had just placed the stones and were covering them when Mark's team were discovered by an acromantula hunting team bringing back some boars and deer. A moment with no one moving happened before an acromantula opened its mandible and let out a screech before shouting 'ATTACK'. The six other acromantulas dropped their pray and started advancing upon the team. Mark quickly filled in the rest of the hole while the centaurs took aimed their weapons at the advancing hoard.

"Finish the ward, wizard. We will hold them off until then." One of the centaurs said while shooting off arrows with precision. Mark nodded and shot up green sparks to show he was ready quickly followed by red sparks, letting everyone know they were being attacked. Hopefully a hunting party would show up before anyone was seriously hurt. While Mark was waiting for conformation, he shot off some cover fire to help the centaurs and managed to take down an acromantula while injuring another that was taken down by a centaur's spear.

Mark's attention was brought to the sky when two other green sparks were shot into the air. It looked like both Nathans' team had finished and caused Mark's spirit to rise, only for it to dash. Nathan C.'s team seemed to be in danger as well considering the red sparks that followed. Quietly cursing, and bringing his attention back to the issue at hand, Mark just had to hope that Stephen would finish shortly. Not to mention he and everyone else lasting long enough to help activate the netting ward. Firing off another spell, Mark hoped the back-up would show up quickly. He had a feeling the earlier screech was the acromantula's version of calling for help.

OOOOOOO

Stephen Scorn was starting to rethink his career choice and wondering if retirement at thirty-five was unreasonable. He was sure that a school or rehab facility would hire him, and he wouldn't be almost killed by overgrown spiders.

Spiders that were preventing him from calling for help considering that he was covering two of his temporary teammates while the antivenom went through their systems. They just had to come across a hunting party of eight, and Stephen had a feeling that's what the other two teams came across as well. The timing of everything couldn't have been more inconvenient even if they tried.

Cursing, and blasting another acromantula back into another, Stephen managed to finally shoot of the green and red sparks. Movement from behind him almost caused him to blast Venzo, who seemed to have recovered from the bite to his flank.

"Could you have said something? I really don't want to hurt an ally at the moment."

"My apologies." Letting an arrow lose, although it drifted thanks to his injury, Venzo managed to distract an acromantula that was giving his brethren a hard time. "I will protect my brother and you while you activate the ward. We do not wish to have more coming our way."

"Is your friend able to activate his talisman? He'll be able to get his injury treated if he's unable to get back up right now." Venzo seemed to be embarrassed that he forgot about the talisman, but Stephen could understand considering this is the first time they've carried one that wasn't their own for protection and luck.

"I'll activate it then." Firing one more spell that managed to hit his target, Stephen turning his back to the battle and activated the portkey aspect of the talisman. He didn't feel good about turning his back to man eating beast, but if Stephen wanted any hope of surviving this job, the ward needed to go up.

OOOOOOO

Firenze sent out hunting teams to the three warding teams and hoped that the stars were correct about the favorable outcome. Turning his attention back to the two humans with him, he watched while they started chanting over a crystal that would eventually join the ward arrangement, and hopefully prevent more acromantula from moving freely. The colonies' head acromantula may prevent his children from attacking the school, but the herd wasn't under that protection.

They've lost many of the herd to the colony, and many feared that they would be overrun after the one called Aragog passed. He kept his children from overhunting the forest, but many in the herd knew that would not be the case after. And considering the age of Aragog, they had five or six years before that happened and the forest would likely die.

A bright light from the crystal brought his eye to the crystal between James and Patrick. Once their chanting was done, the crystal rose into the sky and hovered a moment before shooting towards the heart of the acromantulas' territory. It stopped right in the middle, equal distance from the stones. Now, it was up to the wizards to finish the ritual and the centaurs to protect them.

Firenze looked up at Mars. It seemed that there would be blood and fear today. They will see if Death would visit the innocent as well.

OOOOOOO

Aragog knew that he was old for his kind. Aragog knew that the only reason his was this old was because of his old friend Hagrid. Aragog also knew that things were about to change and the control over his children was about to slip even further.

Preventing his children from hunting the human children at the school was difficult, but he promised Hagrid that he would prevent his children from doing it. Not because of their friendship, but because he knew what Hagrid didn't want to face. Aragog knew that if he didn't keep his children in line, Hagrid saving his life would be for not. The wizards would destroy them all if any of their children were killed. To protect his children, he spared the human children. His children may not understand it and thought he was weak, but he was being smart.

It was also one of the reasons why he prevented the overhunting of the forest. He made sure they hunted enough to feed themselves and prosper, but not enough to kill all life in the forest. If that happened, the centaurs would take a more active approach to containing them. To the point that they would burn this part of the forest to save the rest.

Very few understood, and now it looked like the wizards finally discovered them. Seeing the glowing stone in the sky, and hearing reports of wizards and centaurs working together, Aragog had a good idea that this might be the end of their peace within the forest.

With a silent apology to Hagrid, Aragog sent his children to stop the wizards, and another group to the school. If they couldn't stop whatever was happening, then maybe they could distract them. Ordering those that stayed behind to prepare to move, Aragog hoped that he made the right decision. Aragog was going to protect his children the best he could. His colony would survive beyond him.

OOOOOOO

It was a warm, sunny day at Hogwarts, and the students were enjoying the weather. Some muggleborns were playing football, a group of girls were giggling over Teen Witch Weekly, and some Potion and Herbology enthusiast were near The Forbidden Forest looking at the plants. Everyone was enjoying themselves when suddenly there was clicking.

Nobody heard it at first, but the group near the forest eventually looked up to see where the sound was coming from. At first, they didn't see anything and was about to ignore it, but Jeffery saw something he never hoped to see out of his textbooks.

"RUN!" The group saw what he was looking at before they paled and started running themselves. Others looked over at them to see what they were shouting about before pandemonium broke out and everyone started screaming.

Acromantula broke through the tree line, and even though the students had a head start, the acromantula have six extra leg. Catching up to the group nearest to them, the first acromantula grabbed a female by the leg. The girl screamed as her ankle was bitten through and venom was injected into her bloodstream. Before anything else could happen, one of her friends aimed a cutting hex between its eyes and fired.

Hitting its target, the hex reached the brain and killed the acromantula instantly, allowing both to escape. Even though she was injured, her friend was strong enough to drag her along while others covered their escape to the one of the greenhouses closest to the forest. Breathing heavily, they saw something out of a nightmare. It looked like two dozen acromantula were rushing out of the forest trying to get their next meal.

Everyone was running and screaming for their lives. Those closest to the castle were trying to help those running toward their way. You could see the sixth and seventh years picking up the first and second years that were small enough to be carried. There were some that managed to reach other greenhouses that were open to the students without a professor present, while others seemed frozen in fear before someone yanked them towards safety. Many thought that they were going to die here and wondered how this could happen at a place that claimed to be the safest place in Britain.

OOOOOOO

Patrick cursed when he heard screamed near the school and could guess what happened. He and James were about to run toward the school when their way was stopped by Firenze.

"You two must stay here if the acromantula are to be contained. Allow myself and the last hunting team to deal with this attack." Both seemed to hesitate, even though they knew he was right. "We will protect the innocent; you ensure this is not in vain."

"Fine. Be safe." Firenze nodded before he and the rest of the centaur warriors galloped away. Patrick sent a prayer to the gods that they made it in time.

"Do you think we made the right decision not to wait until the students went home?"

"Ask me that after we're done with this job." Patrick turned back around to see how the netting ward was coming along. It looked like three of the sides were tethered. Looking at the map, he could see that Nathan C. and Mark's team were heading toward Stephen and his team. Not for the first time Patrick wished they could map any hostiles as well, but knew that wasn't happening in an open area like this.

Hearing some pops, Patrick cursed again when he spotted the injured team of Stephen, but without Stephen. Rushing over to the centaurs, their Healers getting there first, Patrick and James looked to see if they missed Stephen considering the body mass of centaurs. Venzo saw what they were doing, and considering he was the least injured, waved them over.

"Your Stephen activated all of our talismans when it was clear we would be overrun, and backup would not reach us in time."

"There is no way he'll be able to survive being out there alone!" James was devastated while Patrick looked thoughtful.

"Did you see if he put up a shield?" Venzo nodded.

"Yes, a shield with a blue tint to it. It's the only reason I was able to see it before we were whisked away." Patrick breath out a since of relief.

"Then he should be okay."

"How could you say that?! There is no way he could hold up the shield and complete the ward at the same time!"

"And if that was a normal shield, I would agree with you. Stephen carries a shielding ward that's been in his family's procession for generations. It doesn't draw on his magic, so he'll be able to complete the ward. The only reason he didn't start off with it is because it only protects the person carrying it and last thirty minutes at most. That will be enough time for him to complete the ward and portkey out when he's done."

"Oh. I'm going to need a vacation after this job." James muttered before marched back to the map, or stomped if you asked anyone else, and looked at the position of the team. He could still see the two teams heading towards Stephen with a hunting party coming in from another direction. He could also see the other teams heading either towards the school or in different directions.

"It looks like the others are either hunting down the acromantula or going to help those going to Hogwarts."

"Do you think those that Portkey'd in is going to be okay?"

"I'm not sure. Some of them look like they've had chunks taken out of them. We'll have to see after this day is done." James nodded while looking toward the forest. He could see the netting ward start to take shape.

The ward looked like strings of light connecting to each other in a pyramid fashion. Once the light reached the top, the crystal glowed a bright blue before it went smashing into the ground and buried itself. The netting ward no longer glowed, but that didn't matter. The acromantula would no longer be able to move beyond the boundaries.

Patrick let out a breath that did nothing to relieve his tension. Looking at the map again, Patrick couldn't help and wonder if he should have called in another team to help with this. He just had to hope that the centaurs, ward breakers and teachers can protect the students.

OOOOOOO Sirius Black OOOOOO

Sirius Black was just finishing his breakfast when the Medi-Witch came in with the morning paper. He was thankful for the morning distraction, although he wished he were able to read the paper while he ate. But until he can actually eat while reading the paper, instead of getting distracted by the interesting stories, he had to be a good Lord Black and eat before getting his paper.

"Good morning, Sirius. I hope you enjoyed your meal this morning?"

"Oh yes, good lady. Please send my thanks to the chief and inform them I'll be recommending them to everyone I meet. Five stars all around."

"Always the flatterer. Here is your paper and your potions. We can't forget those." The look Sirius gave almost had the Medi-Witch chuckling. It reminded her the look her niece would get when she had to take a Pepper-Up after staying out all day in the cold.

"Fine, but you should really research how to make these things not taste like week old food."

"I'll pass that idea on to our Potioners." She handed Sirius a glass of juice to cover the potions taste before banishing everything except the newspaper to the kitchen. "I'll be back in ninety minutes to start your physical and magical therapy. You will have the rest of the morning to yourself and then your Mind-Healer will come after lunch."

"I'm popular today. One has to…" Whatever Sirius was about to say died in his throat and the Medi-Witch was worried by Sirius' rapidly paling color.

"Sirius? Is everything okay? Sirius?!" She was getting really worried and when she saw the newspaper, she could understand his reaction. For across the newspaper was a headline that nobody thought they would see in over a decade.

Hogwarts Attacked By Dark Creators!

"Oh dear!"

Sirius almost laughed at his Medi-Witch's words, but he was too busy going into shock. Or was it a panic attack. He wasn't sure at the moment, but he knew that him passing out was a good possibility. The fear that Harry might be hurt, or worse…

Sirius was unable to compete that thought. He also wasn't able to concentrate on the article. Passing the paper to the Medi-Witch, he told her to summarize what it said. She seemed to understand and quickly read the article.

It was horrifying to see acromantula racing across the Hogwarts' grounds. Reading that The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures was at the school trying to contain the colony, one of the biggest colonies discovered since 1890 and that Albus Dumbledore knew about, but it spiraled out of control. Luckily, Gringotts' Wardsmiths were outside and managed to get there in time to hold the acromantula back and rescue the remaining students caught outside. It also seemed that the centaurs also helped to protect the students and saved some of their lives.

It seemed that several students had to be treated for acromantula bites and poisoning, two had to be transfer to St. Mungo's, while others' injuries were minor and caused by everyone running away. The only serious injury was one from the Regulation Team sent to contain the acromantula. It seems that the centaurs suffered some injuries as well, but their own Healers were able to take care of the injuries with the help of some potions from the school's stores.

"Did anyone die? Please tell me none of the students died?! I don't think…"

"No one was killed and Heir Potter wasn't one of the students injured. I'm sure you can write to him and he'll tell you he's fine."

"Thank Gaia." Sirius seemed to deflate with relief at the news.

"I'll leave you with the paper and you can read it yourself. It wasn't written by that Rita woman, so the story isn't as sensationalized as it would normally be."

"I doubt she would need to sensationalize Hogwarts being overrun by XXXXX beasts. But at least it'll be truthful."

"That depends on the writer, Mr. Black. But lucky for you, this one is known to be truthful, if a bit wordy at times. I'll leave you to read and I'll be back for your therapy sessions before lunch. I have to check on my other patients, so I may be a little late considering what's in the paper today. I'd there anything I can get you?"

"Is a calming draught possible?"

"Yes. Here you go." Handing over the vail and taking it back once Sirius was through, the Medi-Witch went to see her other patients.