"Thank you for coming here, Captain." The room was in the higher floors of the ministry. White walls, filled with windows and portraits. Amelia righted her monocle, looking over the table at all the department heads in attendance. There was Jameson from finances, Jugson from public relations, Chief Healer McGriffin representing St. Mungos, and many many more. Even Dolores Umbridge was sitting further down at the table, given the attack had come through the floo-chimneys. Everybody who had anything to contribute to the crisis at hand and wasn't on the scene right now. Cornelius had decided he had to be seen, handing everything over to Amelia, who in turn was forced to dispatched Rufus to deal with everything in the town to deal with the Ministry herself.
Right now, she was looking down the table at Captain Grungnison, the dwarven captain of the Schmiedegeist. The dwarf still wore his armor, his fearsome battleaxe leaning against the table. Both showed dark stains of apparent blood and the squat figure was filing through his pockets, obviously searching for something. His eyes never left the goblins at the table, which in turn sneered back at the dwarf, whispering at each other. Leaning back the dwarf pulled a pipe from his coat.
Amelia raised her eyebrow. "I am sorry sir, smoking isn't allowed in here."
The dwarf seemed like he didn't hear her, or didn't care as he lit the object and took a deep drag, before looking at her. "So missy, you drag me here, right away from the battlefield to answer some questions. Make it quick, two Dawi have died today, their grudges have to be carved and I don't want to spend any more time than I have to with
treacherous filth." His eyes steered at the goblins, who bristled. Clan Representative Cleancut produced a sword from somewhere. "Is that so? I would be happy to end your presence right now, invader!"
Grungnison gripped his axe, about to pull himself from his chair. "We will see about that Backstabber!"
BANG! Amelia lowered her smoking wand. "Please, captain, this isn't the time or the place." The dwarf stopped in his movement, eyeing her for a moment. Then he sat back.
"Fine. Ask your questions and get on. As I said, I have things to attend to."
Amelia nodded in thanks. "All right. Your crew and you helped defend Hogsmead, for that you have my deepest gratitude."
The captain waved the thanks away like it meant nothing to him. Amelia sighed at the bristling around the table. "Very well. Let us cut right to the chase. Can you give us a rough idea of what happened out there?"
The beard of the captain shivered as he spoke. "We were contacted by Vice-headmistress Greif about an attack on the village near the school. We went over there and offered the Hogwarts headmistress our help. She accepted so we ended the fight."
Well, speaking about rough. Someone down the table coughed. "Could you elaborate on ended?" It was Jugson. The one-eyed captain steered at him.
"We killed the buggers that were attacking the children."
"Excuse me?" Umbridges appalled voice rang through the room as she jumped to her feet. "You KILLED? This is an outrage! A sacrilege. Halfbreeds killing witches and wizards? This is horrible! This is an aff- Bones, he has to be put down this-"
With a cracking sound, the captain's axe smashed into the table top as he stared over the table at the paling pink-wearing woman.
"Listen closely you hag, because this is the last warning you will get. One more after the one in Hogwarts. You call me a halfbreed again and I will gut you like a goat. We dawi ended an attack on CHILDREN. By my count at least six were dead. I don't care what your laws say, someone who attacks children has lost any rights. If you have a problem with that, I will show you how sharp my Az-Dreugi is, when I cut your head from your worthless body. Sit down and shut up, this is my final warning." There was a dead silence. For once, Dolores Umbridge kept quiet. Be it because she was afraid of the dwarven captain or that she was too outraged to speak. Her pale sweating face made it difficult to tell.
Percy Weasley, who was the one standing in for International relations, raised his voice. "Excuse me, Madam Bones, I might have something important to contribute?", Even raising his hand. Not taking her eyes off the captain in case he had to be stopped from doing something drastic, she nodded once.
"The captain was being called for help by the headmistress of Hogwarts. Professor McGonagall was in her right to do so, as was laid down in the charter of 1317 after the then Wizards Council tried to take over the school and was repelled by the Professors and an assisting army of Giants. The charter clearly dictates that in a state of war, the headmistress or headmaster is compelled to seek aid where ever it might reside and this aid is allowed to use what force is necessary to secure the safety of the school and the students. While the state of war could be argued about, this has been the largest attack on Hogwarts and Hogsmead in 470 years. Also, there is the not-so-minor fact that Captain Grungnison is part of the German tri-wizarding tournament delegation, which gives him diplomatic immunity. Finally, as the students of history might know, the dwarven kingdom of Karaz-a-Karak is likely to retaliate against anyone who would attack one of theirs, forcing the Bund der deutschen Magier* to back them up. Which in turn would call on France, Italy, and Austria, which have their own alliances. I would advise you to act with caution."
The silence that filled now room now was of a different kind than before. While Grungnisons proclamation was met with fear, this was something that had to sink in. There hadn't been a wizarding war between countries for centuries. The closest had been the Grindelwald War, but even that had been a political movement turning violent. Magical Governments, at least in Europe, Asia, and America hadn't gone to war for very long and wore that as a batch of honor. There were civil wars yes, like the Blood war, but entire countries going to war wasn't done. In fact, quite a few purebloods pointed at that and said it was proof that they were better than muggles and less violent.
Amelia took a breath. Time to be a diplomat, even though she wasn't a good one. "I think it would be best if we all breath regular now. This is a highly complicated situation and we will not act hastily in brash and unbecoming ways. So, Captain, you said you ended the attack. What can you tell us about the attackers?"
"Besides them being honorless forak-dun?"
Amelia nodded, keeping her best to smile. Despite his standoffish attitude, she liked the dwarven captain. He was straightforward and clear and she liked that.
"They were wearing all black robes with white masks. They fired at anyone too weak to defend themselves and were laughing while doing it. They placed the sigil of a skull biting a snake in the sky. I was told all these points at your Voldemort and his death eaters."
People around the table flinched at the name. They had heard the description already, but the name still instilled fear in all adults. Grungnison sneered at their reaction. In dwarven culture, showing fear was dishonorable. And honor was everything for dwarves.
"Yes, I would agree. How many people were attacking the town? Most people we spoke to had been disturbed and scared. As someone who seems to have military experience you might have been more... level-headed."
The dwarf took a drag from his pipe. "All in all, about 35. Give or take."
This way, the questions went on for about twenty minutes. Slowly the other department heads got over their fear to ask questions themselves. The captain proved to be a very useful witness. He had an eye for detail and kept calm during the attack. After most people fell silent, Amelia took charge again.
"Thank you, captain. I think that is all questions we have for you right now. Is there something you might want to add?"
The dwarf stood from his chair and pulled the large battleaxe, which was still stuck in the oak wood of the long table, free with one hand. Swinging it over his shoulder, he knocked his pipe empty. A few around the table frowned at that, but given the big gash in the table, they said nothing. Captain Grundgnison threw a look over the shoulder while he walked out of the room.
"Get that Dumbledore lad back. You will need him." With that, the dwarf threw open the door and waltzed out into the hallway.
"That impertinent-" "Dolores that is enough!" Amelia said with a lot of force. It spoke volumes about the fall from grave Dolores Umbridge had endured, as no one spoke up against the reprimand.
"I think we should adjourn if no one has something to talk about?" Amelia said into the round of people when someone raised his voice.
"I have something." Said Macnair with a smirk on his face that didn't bode well. The brown-haired man leaned his surprisingly thin arms on the table. As he was dealing with the execution of dangerous creatures as well as being the deputy chief of the department for dangerous beasts, he should be built like a boulder. Yet a magically lightened axe saw that he never really developed the thick muscles of his muggle counterparts.
"Yes, Mister Macnair?" Amelia leaned back.
The thin pale fingers of the executioner brushed over the tabletop. "Well, it has been confirmed that during the attack there were seven werewolves. Most of those have found their sticky end at the hands of our short friends of course. The one that survived will be put to death by our department this evening of course." Amelia frowned a little but said nothing. The law was clear. A werewolf that attacked a noninfected human was to be executed. She knew that Sirius was working on changing that, at least to the point where it had to be negligence or ill intent behind the attack. He hoped for more, she knew but this was what he was going with. She agreed. After meeting Remus Lupin and working in the DMLE for many years, she felt for those who had the misfortune to beasts once a moon at least. But these were intentional attacks.
"Yes, I know, the form has already been signed by my department. Might I ask where this is going?"
Macnairs smile turned nasty as he continued. "Well, those nasty buggers weren't sitting on their thumbs. I have confirmed information that 5 students have been bitten turning them. I want to know if I should go now to take their information, so their neighbors are informed about the danger they pose or if should I wait til they have been sent away from school? I would prefer now, most likely their parents will not welcome them in their home and that can be rather problematic, as I have to find them."
Amelia stared at the man, while carefully pulling forth a letter she had in a binder in front of her. "Yes, about that. Headmistress McGonagall sent this missive about that whole situation." She slid it over to Macnair, who picked it up and read. The smile slowly crept from his face, exchanged with a scowl.
"She can't do that!" He exclaimed, throwing the letter on the table. In it Professor McGonagall declared that the bitten students would end their school year at Hogwarts. "The bylaws of Hogwarts as well as the law state explicitly, that werewolves aren't allowed in the school. My niece is in her fifth year. To think of the danger! No, this is too far. She already stepped out of line by asking the dwarves for help. But that was for the protection of the students. But this. This is unacceptable. When Amos hears about this! Werewolves at Hogwarts That-"
"Macnair! You are incorrect. There is no law or bylaw that states that werewolves can't attend Hogwarts School for Wizardry and Witchcraft. The bylaw, No. 346, states, and I quote "No child afflicted by the Lycantrophie Curse shall be invited into school. Invited! Those students aren't invited, they are already enrolled. Therefore they will be allowed to finish their school year at Hogwarts at the discretion of Headmistress McGonagall."
Macnair got to his feet. "That is preposterous! This is a quibbling and you know it so well! There is no way I will allow these monsters in the school with my niece. This is not your decision to make. This is a matter of beasts and therefore part of my department's job!"
Amelia stood up, planting her hands on the tabletop, while she glared at the thin man. "And interpreting laws is of my job. You can take it up with the Wizengamot if you think that should make waves."
Walden Macnair was not the smartest man. Also not really one for empathy. He didn't care about his sister's daughter or the students. He liked power and harass those who couldn't defend themselves. That was what had drawn him to the Dark Lords' side really. Pureblood wasn't something he cared about. He had no dislike for beasts either. He just liked killing and that job gave him an excuse. That was the same reason why he was a supporter of every law against werewolves and halfbreeds as those made it possible to kill the most interesting ones. Humans. But still, he should have seen a trap when it was laid out for him.
"I should do that. The Gamot will not be amused to hear your paper-thin arguments."
Now it was Amelia's part to smile. "Oh, I think they will. Lord Black and Lord Greengrass have already made it clear that they will support that decision when it comes to court. And you know the saying. The Most Ancient Houses cough and the Gamot jumps to hand them a handkerchief."
Macnair snarled. "Typical woman. Hiding behind your boy toy and using that to-"
Amelia snarled right back, interrupting him. "Careful now. I will not have you speak of Sirius in this tone."
"Or what? Everybody knows he has no respect for tradition. Galvalating through the ministry with his lap wolf as a solicitor. He should be careful, people who play with fire get burned."
Amelia frowned. "Is that a threat against a Lord of the Wizengamot? I would be careful what you say!"
"Excuse me." A thin voice called out. The entire room watched as Macnair and Amelia got into this row, turning louder and louder.
"Yeah, I don't think so. A threat, that was no threat. You would know if I would threaten him, Missy."
"Don't call me Missy you damn ignorant brute!"
"Excuse me." The voice spoke again.
"Ignorant? Brute? That's it I will-"
"Excuse me!" Now the voice was loud and full of authority, supported by a gust of wind that blew away loose paper and parchment. Both blinked surprised, breaking the red mist that had descended over both of them. As they turned down the table an old man carefully rose to his feet, on his shoulder an imposing black phoenix, that folded it's wings again. "I am not sure if it is normal for ministry officials to argue like little children these days, but this is neither the place nor the time for a tantrum of this kind. I might not be part of the ministry but think not for one moment that you aren't in big trouble with me if you keep acting without the decorum befitting of representatives of the government!" He had planted his hand on the table and the phoenix let out a thrilling tone that was obviously a warning.
Amelia brushed some loose hair from her forehead, while she took a calming breath, feeling her ears turn red in embarrassment. "Of course, Mister Flamel, that was unacceptable. I am deeply sorry." Some turned surprised heads as they wondered who the strange old man was. His blue eyes blinked over the table.
"Not me Madam Bones." His head nodded in Macnairs direction. With more embarrassment, she repeated her apology and got a murmured one back.
"As I wanted to say before all this happened. Headmistress McGonagall send me some more information. First off, the students will not be on campus during the full moon. Lord Black has agreed to get them to a safe location so no one will be harmed. As this location was already used by werewolves in the past and nothing happened everything will be fine."
Someone down the table raised a hand. "What if they turn outside of the full moon?" Amelia frowned. It was possible and a nick in their plan. Werewolves could turn at any time at will in theory. Rarely any did. It was painful and they still lost their mind. Also, it took some time to learn how to do that, if one bothered to try. And Nicolas Flamel state that.
"There hasn't been a case of a werewolf inducing a change willingly before one year of being infected. Also, yes I already see the hands, lycanthropy isn't contagious in their human form so that isn't an argument against that either."
"Hem hem." Dolores seemed to have found her footing again. "This might all be fine and good but what of next year? They can't be reinvited into school and they could learn to change at will. Both are risks too great. What are a few months in exchange for the safety of body and mind of the other students."
Mister Flamels teeth were bright white as he smiled. "Oh, next year will be no problem."
Umbridge frowned, folding her hands on the table. "And how is that?"
"Well next year they will not be werewolves anymore, but humans once more."
Whatever the toad-like woman expected as an answer, this wasn't it. "Excuse me...did you just say they will be humans again?"
"Oh yes. I am pretty sure, given that they all agreed to help me as well as Mister Lupin, I can figure out how to cure this nasty illness. I already have a few I ideas. It is due time for Lycanthropy to be cured once and for all."
Now the entire room was blinking surprised and confused. Even Amelia was caught on the wrong foot. "But...but that is impossible." Umbridge stammered, obviously In over her head.
Flamel turned his head giving her his grandfatherly smile. "People also said that about eternal live as well."
The sound of a sneeze filled the small room. The sandy-haired man rubbed his nose as he leaned back.
Harry smiled at Remus from the other side of the room. "Bless you. Are you getting sick?"
Lupin smiled shaking his head. "Unlikely. Probably someone talked about me." His shoulder shook in a chuckle. He had read about that somewhere. He leaned against the wall, eyeing his honorable nephew. The boy looked somewhat okay. He was a little spacey but then again, Poppy had said this would be the case, given the potions that had been poured down his throat while he was unconscious. Remus would keep a closer eye on him but there was a little problem. The problem was small, had black feathers and had taken up post on the foot of Harry's bed. Dawn wouldn't let him close to Harry while they were alone. He had scars on his fingers to show for it. No matter how much Harry had tried to explain it, to her he was a dangerous predator and she wouldn't let him close on instinct. While it hurt Remus somewhat he also knew that the small phoenix was right. He was dangerous, he should be watched carefully. So he couldn't blame her for her instincts really, no matter how smart she was, she was still an animal and instinct would always be part of her. Still, Harry gave him these sad looks when Dawn was like that.
Harry reached out his hand and Dawn hopped over his knee to his chest. There she settled down like a duck on a lake and stared with those unblinking golden eyes at Remus. Harry sighed rubbing her back.
"I'm sorry Remus. I don't know how to explain it to her. The bond isn't the best to explain complex concepts to her. And I am pretty sure her understanding of British English is rough at best."
The older man waved it off, even though his smile didn't reach his eyes. "It is okay. It's her nature. I don't blame her." There was a quiet moment when there was a knock at the entrance to the trunk room.
"I wonder who...Come in!" Harry called out, looking up the steep stairs to the lid. It opened and into view came slim feet, green-trimmed school robes, and blond hair. Careful and slow, Daphne Greengrass climbed into the room. Her hand was deftly on the rail and she seemed to struggle a little but it was obvious from the look on her face that she was determined to finish her descent. Remus half raised from his chair but a fierce glare from the young woman send him back into the wooden object. Finally, she had made it all the way down the steps and slowly walked over to the free chair next to Harry's bed into which she lowered slowly and carefully. She even let out a sigh of relief when sitting, which Harry noted as one of the most extreme concessions to broadcast her feeling he had ever seen from the Heiress.
"Miss Greengrass, I am surprised. Should you be out of bed right now?" Remus asked carefully. While she had always been respectful and polite during class last year as well as the times he had interacted with her since summer, he had no illusions that the girl would rebuff him strictly if he was to pry. Daphne arranged her skirt in a manner that showed she did it without even thinking about it, before raising her gaze.
"Mr. Lupin, Madam Pompfrey was looking for you out there. Something about the students who have been...afflicted."
Remus blinked, before nodding. "Yes, of course. Harry, would you be okay for a while on your own? I need-"
"Of course of course." Harry interrupted gently.
The thin man nodded once, before quickly making his way up the stairs out of the trunk. After he had closed the lid, Daphne's shoulders relaxed a tiny bit and she put away her wand, which she had hidden in the folds of her skirt.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "What was that?"
The daughter of house Greengrass smiled faintly at him. "Non-verbal compulsion charm. I wanted to speak alone with you for a moment. Hello you." She finished tiredly as she brushed her fingers through Dawn's feathers. The small phoenix had landed on her knee chirping at the blond.
Harry raised himself a little more out of bed. "Are you all right?"
Righting her slightly slumped posture, the girl nodded. "Yes, I am fine." Then her eyes found Harry's and she relaxed a little. "I'm just tired. Madam Pompfrey gave me potions to help with the aftereffect, but those make me tired. Also, this just won't stop." She raised her hand, showing that her fingers were trembling.
Harry frowned. "Shouldn't you be in bed if that is the case?" He carefully got out of bed himself. Yes, he felt a little unsteady on his feet but he was pretty sure he would be fine. He knelt down in front of the girl, who looked at Dawn tiredly, while she talked.
"Probably. But I had to see you, see that you were okay." Harry's eyebrows frowned more at the words. It was obvious that the potions affected her more than she thought. Daphne would never be so open, or show him the tremble of her fingers so willingly.
"Also, I have to thank you. You saved me and Tory, for the second time. If you and Heir Longbottom hadn't come to our aid, I...I don't want to think about that." There was a small tear in the corner of her eye and she raised her shaking hand to wipe it away. At first, she missed, brushing over her own cheek. Her eyes were so tired and didn't seem to focus really.
Harry carefully took her hand, holding it firmly between his own. He felt the trembling shack through her arm and her fingers were so cold.
"Daphne, you...DAPHNE!" The girl slid from the chair into his arms, a startled Dawn taking flight. Se had lost consciousness. Carefully, Harry maneuvered her body, until he was able to put her onto the bed, pulling the blanket over the girl. With a sigh, he sat in the chair she just left. dragging his fingers through his hair. He then carefully retrieved his wand from the nightstand, while Dawn settled next to Daphne's head on the pillow cooing quietly and rubbing her head through the blond hair in an attempt to comfort her. The black-haired boy raised his wand to produce a patronus, calling for help. And then he watched over the sleeping Daphne Greengrass for a number of minutes until a very irritated Madam Pompfrey bustled down the stairs, followed by a slightly embarrassed Remus.
*Federation of German mages
It's been a long time but finally a new chapter from me. I know most people think the story is dead, like I said last year I thought so too. If I were in chapter 20 or so, I might give up, but I am so close to the finish line, so I will continue. Hopefully not just one chapter per year. It helps that I am getting comfortable in my job, which helps with being less burned out at the end of the day.
Hopefully, the next chapter will come soon. I know what I want to write, it will be not so long I guess. The problem is mostly finding my muse.