For disclaimer and author notes please see chapter 1.
1991-10-07 08:00 UTC, Hogwarts great hall
At breakfast on Monday morning, three houses were making the normal amount of noise that you hear from any group of children of varying ages, while the Slytherin table was eerily quiet.
The Hogwarts grapevine was running full speed, so it was not long before everyone knew what had happened.
Late the previous evening, an hour or so after dinner, Lord Parkinson had come to Hogwarts. He had been closeted with Dumbledore and Prof Sinestra (the new Slytherin head of house after the Slughorn incident) for more than half an hour. Then, all three had spent almost the same amount of time in the Slytherin common room, where all Slytherins, no exceptions allowed - had been made to assemble.
Pansy had then been removed from Hogwarts for a period of two weeks by her father. The rest of Slytherin had been told that any further incidents such as this, with either Harry Potter or Hermione Granger, would be met with severe reprisals from Lord Black.
This caused several people to look strangely at Harry and Hermione. Harry himself was quite embarrassed. He had never wished to be the "when my godfather hears about it" type of kid, but two things kept him quiet. First, Hermione had dealt with the problem adequately before calling Hobby. Second, some of these incidents looked to be well beyond normal schoolyard fighting or bullying, and - in Hobby's past - it was the lack of adult intervention that had eventually escalated into many of these kids becoming murderers.
With that incident, however, what little support the Dark Lord may have been able to count on among people previously allied or sympathetic to him, dissolved into thin air. Sure, the number of them with children (or grand children, or nieces) at Hogwarts were few, but they counted, and the message had spread.
Lord Black was effectively the ruler of magical Britain, or at least would be if he cared enough to think of it like that. The only ones who could challenge him were, ironically, also those who were hide-bound by tradition, and they consoled themselves with the thought that this was how it had been for centuries in the past, before Voldemort, when the Black family had been the most powerful. Tradition was being upheld, and that's all that mattered.
1991-10-08 17:00 UTC, Hogwarts headmaster's office
Prof McGonagall entered the headmaster's office without knocking. She did not need to, and even if she had, it would have been useless.
Through the door to his private quarters, she could see the headmaster was laid out on his bed, fast asleep. A most unusual hour to be asleep, to be sure, but there he was. Exactly as she had been told. She could not say how long he had been asleep, but he had not come to breakfast, nor to lunch.
She opened up the floo and called the hospital wing. A minute or two later, Madam Pomfrey came through the floo. After running a few scans, she declared the headmaster to be temporarily unfit - he would be fine in a day or so, but meanwhile, McGonagall would have to take control of the wards. She then put her patient on a conjured stretcher, and floo-ed back to her domain with them.
Prof McGonagall stood in the middle of the room, precisely over a runic design inlaid into the floor. Raising her wand, she intoned, in a clear, crisp voice: "In fulfillment of my oath of office, and due to the headmaster being indisposed, I now accept control of Hogwarts Castle", she said.
As Deputy Headmistress, she already had some control, so she knew what it felt like when she got all control.
She waited a few seconds for the feeling to settle, then she crossed to the wall opposite the large desk. An invisible panel in the wall opened at a touch, and she pulled out a key.
She then inserted the key in a keyhole at the end of the same wall, and unlocked a door, revealing the Hogwarts ward room.
1991-10-09 03:00 UTC, Hogwarts
A short figure silently went about Hogwarts, at an ungodly hour. The portraits were all asleep, and the ghosts, even if they did not sleep, were nowhere to be seen.
The short figure first went to the headmaster's office. It spent no more than two minutes there, leaving with a sword longer than the figure himself was tall.
The figure then went quietly into Myrtle's bathroom. It spent almost twenty minutes there, but did not come out. Instead, a full grown wizard came out. He held up the sword, said something, and the sword vanished.
1991-10-09 07:00 UTC, Hogwarts hospital wing
"Why am I here Poppy?"
"You were exhausted, Albus. God alone knows what you do, for you never tell us anything, but Minerva found you fast asleep on your bed at 5pm yesterday, and called me. Anyway you are good now, you can go!"
1991-10-29 23:00 UTC, Hogwarts
Voldemort was annoyed. For nearly the last three weeks, he, or rather, his host, had been unable to leave the castle. Oh he could certainly have left, but there was something about the wards that seemed to say he would not be able to come back in.
He had considered complaining to the headmaster - who else could alter the wards? - but his master had warned him very strongly against such an action. The old man was no fool, and he would instantly realise something was wrong.
He was not sure when the wards had changed. Thank God he had made a trip to Diagon Alley just last weekend - after he had discovered the stone was a dud - to get the potion ingredients he would need for the ritual.
Yes, The stone had turned out to be a dud - he knew within a few seconds that it was not the real one, and he had quietly put it back, growling in anger. That was almost a month ago.
He knew he had one horcrux left, so he was safe. But he needed to quickly create a new body, and he knew just how to do it. He would take the Potter brat on Halloween, go to Little Hangleton, and have Quirrell perform the ritual, with Quirrell himself entering the cauldron along with the other ingredients. Ideally there should be someone else performing the ritual, but he knew it would work even this way.
Quirrell was uncomfortable with this plan. He wanted to ask his master why they could not take the boy right now and leave, but he knew the answer. His master wanted the symbolism of the date.
Voldemort would have been stunned to be told he should have chanced asking Dumbledore - the headmaster would have expressed surprise (he genuinely did not know) and happily opened the wards to him.
(On the off-chance that this might happen, the main exit and all seven other exits were being watched by house-elves - most of them freed from households of Voldemort's own death-eaters, had he known! - who were waiting to trap him and immediately send word to Dobby, the Malfoy elf who seemed to have changed suddenly one night.)
All in all, without knowing all this, Quirrellmort chose the safest option.
1991-10-31 04:00 UTC, location unknown
Hobby woke up, and popped to Hogwarts. Today would be a long day, so he had prepared by getting enough sleep, having set Nolly to watch over the kids last evening. Of course Nolly was not Hobby, but - after several years of working for the Flamels - had certainly changed enough to do a passable job.
Today would be the end of his mission. He had gambled that Voldemort would not try anything until a symbolic date arrived, and that gamble had paid off. He had shadowed the kids, or had them shadowed by other elves, but luckily nothing had happened till now. But today, something would. He was sure of it.
1991-10-31 06:00 UTC, Hogwarts
Harry and Hermione also knew something would happen today. They had been warned to stay alert, and that Hobby would almost always be with them. If Hobby had to leave, for some reason, they were supposed to stay close to the rest of their class group - under no conditions were they to separate and go somewhere else without Hobby accompanying them.
At present, they had just decided to take an early morning walk around the lake. The weather had definitely turned somewhat nippy, but they enjoyed these walks. And today was a special day - even without potential Voldemort drama, this was the anniversary of his parents' deaths, and it helped Harry to spend a small amount of time in a quiet, peaceful, environment.
They had just passed the large doors at the front entrance, and were stepping out into the cold morning air, when it happened. Quirrell had appeared from nowhere and grabbed a hold of Harry.
He had to let go immediately, yelping in pain - his hand had started blistering where he had touched Harry. Thinking quickly, he switched to Hermione, put his wand to her neck, and told Harry to move.
Hobby was right behind them. He had stopped for literally a few seconds, to open the map, activate it, and look for Quirrell, when all this happened. He cursed the fates for the timing, and himself for not having kept a constant watch on Quirrell via the map, and followed, trying to decide if he should confront him right now or wait to see what he would do with the kids.
Well, let's see where he takes them, he thought. Quietly and invisibly, he popped to a corner up ahead, became visible, walked around the corner to face the three, and set to work polishing a suit of armour that happened to be just at the end. He saw the relief in their faces as they recognised him. Quirrellmort, of course, completely ignored the elf, and continued on his way.
They went straight to Myrtle's bathroom. He opened the entrance to the chamber.
"Get in, both of you, if you know what's good for you. You won't die - yet - so don't worry. There's a slide".
Harry and Hermione appeared to glance briefly behind Quirrell, then turned around and did as they were told.
Hobby waited with bated breath to see if Quirrell would go in, too. That would require immediate action on Hobby's part - who knew what Voldemort would do to the kids if he saw the dead basilisk in the inner chamber.
But Quirrell simply closed the chamber entrance again, turned around, and went back to his chambers.
1991-10-31 08:00 UTC, Hogwarts great hall
Breakfast started almost as usual. Despite how special the day was, it was not a holiday, so most of the kids were in.
Dumbledore knew Voldemort would try something today. Of course, he did not need Harry to die now, since even he could see the horcrux in the scar was gone, so all he had to do was save the boy's life, and he would be in Black's good books again.
And although he did not actually believe in prophecies, he was beginning to wonder. Was this Phantom the "power he knew not"?
He was brought out of his musings rather sharply, due to a flurry of activity at the entrance to the hall.
There were several people walking in. He was not expecting anyone, let alone such a large group!
Minister Bones was at the head of the group, followed by the Chief Witch, Madam Longbottom. Behind them were Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Rufus Scrimgeur and Alastor Moody, with four aurors - two on each side - brought up the rear.
No wait there were two more people behind them. Nicholas and Perenelle. With that damnable elf between them, as if he were theirs, though there was no sign of his master, the Phantom.
What the hell was going on?, thought Dumbledore, more annoyed than he remembered being lately. He did not like people dropping in unannounced, leave alone such a large group. He was also getting a bad feeling about this - especially due to the presence of the Flamels.
Still, he stood from his place, and welcomed them, conjuring an extra table with a dozen chairs next to, and at a slight angle from, the staff table.
As they all - with the exception of the four aurors, who stepped back a few paces and stood guard - seated themselves, he said, "I am surprised to see such a large and diverse group arriving so unexpectedly", he said. "Was there a particular reason you are all here?"
Before anyone could reply, Quirrell entered the room.
Now, one would normally expect visitors to ignore a staff member arriving a few minutes late to breakfast, but in this case, all the visitors turned to him, as if he was what they were here for, and waited for him to speak.
Voldemort had been quite pleased with the quick way he had captured and held the Potter boy and his mudblood friend. They could not escape - and if any harm came to him they would never escape. But he did not expect any harm to come to him. He had decided to go about the day normally, letting the tension about the missing boy-who-lived build. By lunch time, the castle would be in chaos. He would then go back to the chamber just after lunch, grab the kid, and leave by the other exit - the one that the basilisk used to hunt - which opened well into the forbidden forest, close to the ward boundary. He would go to the Gaunt shack to grab a cauldron, then go to the graveyard. By 4pm, the ritual would be ready. By 5pm, he would have a new body.
But when he entered the hall from the staff entrance, he found a lot more people than he had ever seen - a lot more than just the students.
And he saw two people who made him change his plans.
"Aah, Mr Flamel", he said, ignoring everyone else. "I am so happy to meet you at last."
"Who are you?", said Nick.
"I am Professor Quirrell, and I teach Defense Against the Dark Arts here. Well, until yesterday anyway. I am leaving today, but before I go, I have an exchange to effect".
He looked at Sirius, then Dumbledore. "Lord Black, how much is your godson worth, to you?"
"Interesting question. Why do you ask?", said Sirius mildly.
"Well, is he worth enough for you to persuade the Flamels to hand over their stone?"
"Why should I persuade anyone to have over anything to you?"
"Because I have your precious godson, and I have him in a place that only I can get to."
"Really? And what place would that be?"
"Salazar Slytherin's famed Chamber of Secrets", sneered back Quirrell.
Sirius snorted. "As if you would know anything about it! You were a useless muggle studies teacher, from what I have heard, and you came back as an equally useless DADA teacher."
A sibilant sound came from Quirrell, though he was clearly not speaking. "Quirinus, it is time I took over. Step back".
Quirinus appeared to nod. His face started morphing, and Hobby was stunned to see it turn into Voldemort. He is no longer on the back of Quirrell's head, he thought, surprised. This never happened in my time, he thought. He then reasoned that this must be a one-way thing; clearly Voldemort had decided the Quirrell persona had outlived its usefulness.
If Voldemort expected everyone to start screaming and running, he was surprised. Only a few of the professors reacted, but that did not include Dumbledore, McGonagall, or Flitwick. Seeing them not reacting, the others quieted down quickly.
"As you can see, I am far more than a useless DADA teacher. I am the Dark Lord, and you shall all feel my wrath soon. Now, Black, you had better persuade Flamel here to give me his stone, or say goodbye to your godson. As I said, you cannot rescue him. Only a parselmo-"
"I don't know if you're mad or your host Quirrell is mad, but my godson is sitting right there, with the rest of his class", said Sirius, pointing at the Gryffindor table.
Voldemort did a double take. "How- this must be a trick. No one can get into the chamber except me, because I am the only parselmouth".
He raised his wand and aimed at the Gryffindor table. Hobby quietly put him in a body bind. A resurrected Voldemort may have been a bit of a challenge but Quirrellmort was not.
Sirius smirked at him. "Looks like you're not the only one here, you jumped up son of a squib", he said, making the bound Dark Lord even more angry.
The aurors, Rufus, and Kingsley were spreading out, putting themselves in between Voldemort and his line of fire to any of the house tables. Minerva and Filius joined them, as did Minister Bones and Madam Longbottom. However, the Flamels, and Remus Lupin, looked calm.
Remus was grinning, in fact, and Amelia - turning to what he was looking at - realised that someone had put the dark lord in a body bind.
Amelia decided not to ask who had done that. She'd get her answers later, she decided. She was sure Sirius would know - after all, he had orchestrated the whole thing so far, asking all of them to come and see the dark lord finally defeated.
Quietly signalling to Kingsley, she had him take charge of Voldemort. There would be no trial for him, no opportunity for him to posture or preen in front of a, still not wholly reliable, gathering of wizards and witches. Kingsley had his orders - straight to the veil room and chuck him in.
Because the petrification was elf magic, even the original Voldemort's formidable power would not have worked. And since no one knew that elf magic was used, the aurors had taken their own precautions. They had brought extremely powerful magic suppressors - bracelets for the wrists, arm bands for the upper arms, a neck band, a waist band, and more.
Unfortunately, once all of them had been slapped on and activated, Quirrell's magic - already weakened by months of possession - was suppressed so much it could no longer sustain the possessing spirit.
Black smoke rose from the body.
Hobby quickly conjured an opaque barrier between the two tables with the adults, and the rest of the hall. He did not want the children to see this.
Catching Dumbledore's eye, he mouthed, "watch this".
Raising his hand, he grabbed a sword that seemed to appear out of thin air. It was longer than he was tall, but he wielded it effortlessly, slicing through the ghostly, semi-transparent, body of the dark lord.
The smoke exploded into a million pieces on the second stroke, and slowly wafted away.
After the dust had settled, Minister Bones took charge. Dumbledore wanted all the students to be sent off to their common rooms, but - after a brief conference with Sirius and Madam Longbottom - Amelia rejected that idea.
"I think the students will benefit from seeing what we are going to do here", she said. "And then, we also have some friends from the journalistic fraternity that we need to oblige", she smirked. Only then did Dumbledore notice four people at the end of the hall, two of them with cameras.
OK, something is definitely up, thought Dumbledore. He was also puzzled by how an elf, of all things, could even find, let alone wield, Gryffindor's sword, but that question, while interesting, would have to wait.
"Albus, we will be asking you a few questions, and you had better answer them completely truthfully, or we will use a truth potion. Trust me we already know most of the answers so we can easily tell whether you are telling the truth or not".
"If you know most of the answers, Amelia, why question me at all?"
"Well first, of course, to fill in a few gaps. But more than that, to determine your continuing status in our world. Status quo can only continue if you are found to be completely blameless."
"We shall start", said Madam Longbottom, "with this question: how could the wards allow such a person in? I have always been led to believe they would keep out dark magic."
"He was supposed to have reset them after Snape was kicked out", offered Professor McGonagall. "I did remind him a few times, but I can't be sure he did it".
Dumbledore sighed. "Yes the wards needed to be reset after Snape was removed from his post. But they are very old wards, so maybe we need to have someone look at them again", he said.
(Needless to say he had no idea that Professor McGonagall had taken control of the wards, albeit very recently!)
Remus looked at Amelia. "Minister, notice he does not say anything about whether he actually attempted to reset them or not."
Dumbledore looked sharply at him. "May I ask what is your locus standi here? Lord Black has his godson. The others are in their official capacities or have children here or both. How are you connected with Hogwarts?"
"You are correct, I don't have any. But locus standi did not prevent you from putting Harry in an abusive household - when you were neither one of the named guardians nor the executor of the will nor anything else. Answer the question", growled Sirius.
"Don't you get tired of trotting out a story that is now ten years old?" persisted Dumbledore.
Amelia held up her hand. "Clearly, he has not attempted to reset the wards. This is exactly why we need veritaserum for him. However, we are not totally sure if he has some protection against it, in the form of some preventative potions."
"Do not worry about that, Minister Bones", said Hobby.
Hermione had suggested that the Phantom should fade away - appearing only occasionally - while Hobby, speaking normal English and behaving independently, should be the face of the Phantom from now on. Nick and Penny thought it was a fantastic idea, and this was his first public appearance, so to speak.
While those who did not know him before were picking up their jaws, he continued. "I've had him tailed constantly over the last seven days, and we've reviewed everything he has ingested during that time. He's not immune to the truth serum".
(Due to the shock of hearing an elf speak like a human, no one paid any attention to his actual words. It would take several years for people to realise the significance, at a truly general level, of what the elf said today. But that is not part of this tale.)
"Impossible!" shouted Dumbledore. "Even your master can't manage that!"
"He didn't. I did. I just assigned some elves to the job, and told them exactly what to watch for."
"Hogwarts elves would not have listened to you", sneered Dumbledore.
Hobby looked at Penny and raised an eyebrow.
"But they were not Hogwarts elves", smirked Penny.
Dumbledore fell silent for a second or two, then bounded back. "I have reason to believe that Voldemort is not truly gone, because there is a prophecy. It says only Harry Potter can truly defeat him. Since this elf is clearly not Harry Potter, Voldemort is still alive somewhere. He will return. You must all listen to me. Only I know how to deal with him".
"Really, Albus? Have you forgotten we already told you we know the prophecy, back when we invited you to Pandora's lab? We also know you don't believe in prophecy yourself, and use it only as a convenient excuse when you are able to", said Penny. Turning to Amelia, she said, "second question to ask him when we interrogate him: do you believe in prophecies?"
If anyone noticed, over the course of the next hour, that the students were all in the great hall, watching everything with wide-open eyes - even Ron Weasley - no one mentioned it. As a result, for the first time in history, a partial trial of such an exalted personage as Albus Dumbledore, happened, not in a courtroom in the Ministry, but in the great hall at Hogwarts. And with veritaserum, no less!
Sentencing would have to be deferred till the full Wizengamot met, but interrogation and collecting evidence could be done anywhere.
Some of the questions were run-of-the-mill, but there were also a lot of hard-hitting ones - questions whose answers pretty much sealed Dumbledore's fate.
Amelia started with "Did you attempt to reset the wards to disallow dark magic after Professor Snape was sentenced to house arrest?"
"I knew at some point, Voldemort would enter the castle. He needs to enter, and have several confrontations with Harry Potter".
"Did you know Quirrell was possessed by Voldemort?"
"When did you find out?"
"As soon as he entered the castle for the staff meeting to prepare for the new academic year".
"And yet you did nothing about it?"
Sirius whispered in Amelia's ear.
"Do you believe in prophecies?"
"Then why do you say Voldemort needs to confront Harry?"
"Because Voldemort believes in prophecy."
"Did you really think Harry would be able to survive an encounter with Voldemort at the age of 11?"
Silence. Evidently this was not a question that had a clear-cut answer in Dumbledore's mind.
"Were you confident that Harry would beat Voldemort?"
"Were you planning on giving Harry any training at all prior to this?"
"Because no amount of training can help when a first year is pitted against Voldemort."
"So you knew Harry might die, in fact the chances were high that he would die."
(Out in the students area, Hermione had Harry locked in a hug so tight he had trouble breathing, but neither of them noticed immediately.)
"What would happen after Harry died?"
"I had hoped Harry would weaken Voldemort enough so that I could finish him off."
"Were you doing all this for the glory?"
"Were you doing all this to attempt to steal the Potter fortune, somehow?"
It seemed the real reason could be a combination of things, so unless you guessed what that was and asked precisely that, they would not get an answer.
In the end they decided to not bother about it. The questioning had already gone on too long, so they also decided to ignore issues like Sirius Black's incarceration. They already had enough to "hang him", so to speak, just with the illegal takeover of Harry's life, compounded with blatantly putting his life in mortal danger.
And that was not even considering the fact that he had put all the children in Hogwarts in similar danger - Amelia planned to lead with this conclusion in the Wizengamot, for good reasons: many of the Wizengamot members had a young relative currently in Hogwarts!
That, combined with giving Snape a job teaching children, despite knowing it was Snape who had conveyed the prophecy to Voldemort, sealed his fate.
The following morning, in an emergency session, he was sentenced to life in Azkaban without parole, and with magic suppression devices. The dementors were no longer a factor, so this was not deemed unusually cruel.
Dumbledore died a few years later. There were, of course, still a few die-hard believers, but not too many. He was buried in an unmarked grave on Azkaban island itself - Sirius made a very strong case for the Wizengamot to not permit Aberforth to have him interred at his family plot in Godric's Hollow, since James and Lily were there too.
The wizarding world changed, though gradually, over the next decade. Having their most prominent young citizen return to a muggle home made a big difference. His godfather would invite his ever-increasing circle of friends over for his birthday, and give them ever-larger and more interesting doses of muggle culture.
Things did not stop there. Hobby had Sirius and Minerva meet, encourage, and if needed fund, one muggleborn's family in each succeeding year to be able to outfit their houses similarly to Sirius's own, and do the same to their year group. This went on for several years, and was probably the single biggest factor in improving the race issue in the long term.
The Order of the Phoenix was re-created by Alastor Moody, one of the oldest members of the original order and, until the events of 1986, a good friend of Dumbledore. There was some objection to the name, due to its long association with Dumbledore, but Moody argued that if the phoenix was such a symbol or "pure, white, light magic" as most people claimed, then it is impossible for the taint to stick.
It functioned, however, very differently now. It had a proper hierarchy (i.e., don't give one person too much power), a written set of rules for conduct, especially by its senior officers (i.e., don't let the people who do have the power, use it indiscriminately), and a flexible but narrowly focused set of objectives (i.e., don't try to meddle in / solve everything), all of which were welcomed by the members. And if anyone felt a measure of guilt that they themselves had contributed to Dumbledore's ego by not insisting on something like this the last time, they kept it to themselves.
Needless to say, Harry and Hermione (and Neville and Susan and Luna, among others), had fairly uneventful years at school, and went on to perfectly normal (or what passes for normal in the wizarding world) lives. To Hobby's delight, Hermione and Harry did not start thinking of each other as siblings, and did get married.
Sirius never married, and in fact once Harry was about fifteen and no longer a "child", Sirius even played the field a bit. However, he spent more and more time with Rosmerta. She refused to leave the Three Broomsticks, while he wanted to stay at Grimmauld, so they settled for an amicable, "friends with benefits", lifestyle. Eventually, when she got too old to manage the place, she relented, and moved in with Sirius at Grimmauld, but they still did not get married.
(However, when Sirius eventually passed, Rosmerta wore black for a whole month).
Remus and Tonks did get together - with absolutely no prompting or even hinting from Hobby, proving that even the most EQ-challenged author can get some relationships right once in a while.
Hobby lived with Nick and Penny for decades, learning alchemy, and also history - especially modern history, both muggle and magical. He eventually stopped using the Phantom persona, settling to be just an elf, albeit a very unusual one. Anyway, it was either that, or allow Amelia to finally guess who the Phantom was!
Hermione and Hobby caused quite an uproar among house-elves with their radical ideas, and even if the other elves did not suddenly decide to become free, their lives did become better in many ways.
Hobby also took it upon himself to watch over the wizarding world. He would turn up, invisibly of course, at Wizengamot meetings, just to listen and understand which way the winds were blowing. On rare occasions, he would even whisper suggestions, objections, and other thoughts, to Sirius, while remaining invisible.
More than that, Hobby ended up nipping several incipient blood-based movements in the bud, simply by listening in on Wizengamot meetings, and then quietly spying on selected members. A bit questionable, perhaps, but he was careful to preserve their privacy as much as possible, trying to always fix the problem rather than the people.
Hobby's lasting contribution was a cadre of free elves who basically became the wizarding world's silent troubleshooters. Working closely with the reborn Order of the Phoenix, Hobby's elves became the mainstay of a lasting change for the better in the wizarding world.
Yes, it was pretty ambitious of Hobby to deal with both these guys on the same day, but I knew if anyone could do it, our Hobby could!
Jokes apart, I do agree if you think it was a bit rushed. However, as I said in the last chapter, most of the other stuff has been dealt with, so there's not much left.
Thank you once again to all who have reviewed, added it to their favourites or watch lists, etc. I'm glad most of you seem to have liked it. Thank you also to the eagle eyes who caught some errors - one was the vanishing cabinet thing, and more recently someone caught the "ICW papers" thing. Since neither of those errors actually affect the plot, I'll make a note and fix them later, as time permits.
(Jestrbob - Dunning-Kruger is a fantastic piece of research; please buy him a beer or something from me; I'll owe you!)
I think I scored one or two firsts in HP-fanfic land. Apart from the "coming back as Hobby" thing, I am most proud of Remus's backstory - the muggle detective agency specialising in surveillance and hostage extraction. I think that is ripe for an AU (AU to an AU!) that takes that direction. If I find time, I will give it a shot. If any of you wants to, go ahead and try it - the more the merrier. It'd be nice to let me know so I can read it too.
Hobby's life going forward, as described above, is also possible grist for the fan fiction mill. Same deal: write it if you like, or I will try it at some point.
(Don't ask for the one where Hermione got her revenge on a muggle government agency that hacked her - that story will probably never come out unless an insider leaks it! Although, we could probably describe how it was Hobby that actually started the whole sequence of events by his actions, but since he does not exist in the muggle world, it got mistakenly attributed to Hermione!)
I do have several one-shots planned. Writing this fic has taught me that, due to my job, regular updates will be a challenge (at least until I retire!). So I'll be switching to one-shots or smaller "publish only when complete" fics for now. Expect to see a few over the coming months.
Thank you all once again! Until my next fic... goodbye!