"Thank you all for coming. Something needs to be done about the fighting in the halls. Just this last week, I have broken up no fewer than sixteen battles and duels. Some of them were between members of the same House!"

"Just expel Potter and his flunkies already, removing that arrogant dunderhead should clear up the problem. Fully half my students have been in the hospital wing over the last month."

"You forget Severus that my students have been attacked by your pet snakes almost as often as the Gryffindors have been involved."

"Your dunderhead badgers are following Potter, same thing. Get rid of the blasted Potter, and the fighting will end."

"That's something I've been meaning to ask you Pomona, how did Mr. Potter gain the devoted loyalty of your students?"

"It's quite simple Filius. Mr. Potter came in with Albus' pensieve and replayed all his adventures to the house during a house meeting. The debt Hufflepuff House owes him is quite significant."

"And how did Mr. Potter end up with Albus' pensieve?"

"He didn't say, Minerva. Merely muttered something about roasting goat."

"Anyway, back to the main topic. The students are divided along something other than House lines, and those divisions are spilling into the corridors. We need to find out what these factions are about and who their leaders are, before the castle falls down around us."

"I have seen a few Gryffindors follow Mr. McClaggen before they noticed my watching them."

"McClaggen? Hasn't he been cosying up with the Edgecombe girl?"

"I believe you're right, and it's not a simple case of teenage romance. Miss Edgecombe was found just last Wednesday in a broom closet with Mr. Corner."

"Please spare me the drama of student relationships."

"Just because you're a surly grouch Severus, doesn't mean you can insult love."

"Need I remind you Pomona, that the point of coming to a school is to learn, not to rut with anything that moves."

"Like one of those revels you took part in, eh Snivellus?"

"Pomona, Severus, enough! Recriminations and pot shots at each other are getting us nowhere."

"I'll have you know Severus, the wards against unintended side effects have been maintained with an almost religious zeal for the last five years. No student has been impregnated on school grounds for almost eight decades. A few have carried pre-existing foetuses, every one from abusive households. I believe Miss Moon among your Slytherins is one such."

"That only encourages them further."

"Which is why we have prefects and Mr. Filch. Merlin knows he doesn't do much actual cleaning, especially compared to the house elves."

"While this is certainly illuminating, we should get back to the matter at hand. Finding who are the leaders of these inter-house factions, and how can we get them to stop attacking each other in the halls."

"It is quite obvious that Mr. Malfoy heads a large group in Slytherin, although I am not certain if he is simply taking orders from his father or perhaps someone else."

"Are you implying that Mr. Potter's claims of the Dark Lord returning are the truth, Pomona?"

"No Filius, I am not implying that Mr. Potter is telling the truth. I am saying it plain."

"Another example of Albus' 'secret evidence', I take it?"

"You know, something strikes me as odd. If Mr. Potter is telling the truth, then why have the youngest Mr. Weasley and his sister split from him and Miss Granger? Instead of sticking together in such a troubling time, they have been telling lies about Mr. Potter whenever anyone could hear them?"

"Filius, the Weasley part of the Gryffindor Triumvirate left the others at the start of the year. There was apparently quite the shouting match in the Gryffindor common room. I arrived before events could take a physical turn."

"Hmm, I believe we have found the student ringleaders of the four main factions. Misters Potter, Weasley, and Malfoy, along with Miss Edgecombe. But I don't think they are all acting on their own. Molly Weasley runs her brood with an iron fist, which is why I'm surprised the Weasley twins appear to have fallen in with Mr. Potter's faction, rather than their brother's, but perhaps the reason comes from why that shouting match erupted."

"But who would Miss Edgecombe and Mr. Potter be reporting to?"

"Minerva, could you check the logs of student detentions this year? Perhaps that will shed some light on it."

"Whoever made this book impervious to magic is going to get a -"

"Here Minerva, let me help you with it."

"Thank you Filius."

"Sometimes an indirect touch is needed. A lesson all too few of my students have learned."

"Now lets see what's inside."

"Hmm, a lot of entries for Mr. Potter, to be held with Professor Umbridge, for 'telling lies and backtalk.'"

"Look further, Minerva. The detentions were writing lines with a contract quill."

"WHAT?! Those were restricted centuries ago. What is Delores doing with one of those when she's not a lawyer?"

"Writing lines with a contract quill... Surely that would be brought up with Poppy."

"You forget Mr. Potter's belief in the fact the Defence professor is always trying to kill him, and his need to solve the situation himself."

"He has only been wrong once, with Remus, hasn't he?"

"The werewolf forgot to take his potion one full moon."

"Which is why you spread the word to get Remus out of the job, Severus? Did Remus actually bite anyone?"

"No, but he damn well would have if I didn't stop him."

"Still, that's more a case of forgetfulness, not attempted murder."

"Now let's see about Miss Edgecombe."

"Hmm, weekly morning detentions with Delores. Merlin and Morgana, she loves to throw those around."

"Again, look a little deeper. The punishment given is listed as 'Floo calls.' How is making Floo calls a punishment?"

"Delores is seriously abusing the punishment system here. Writing lines with a contract quill, hiding Floo calls as detentions. Disgusting."

"What about Misters Malfoy and Weasley?"

"Mr. Malfoy... Not many detentions, although he's a favourite target of the other factions with the number of times I've seen him in the infirmary. But most of the detentions are listed as 'duelling training sessions' with you Severus."

"Given the number of times your pet Gryffindors attack my godson, he needs the training to defend himself."

"Oh get off your high horse, Severus. We all know that Mr. Potter at least wouldn't start a fight against Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Weasley, on the other hand..."

"Speaking of whom, apparently he's had numerous detentions with the Headmaster, also listed as 'duelling training sessions.'"

"That's rather odd, I mean we have a world-class duelling champion, yet he isn't training any of the four faction leaders under the guise of detention. If that's what they are. Albus is decades past his prime, and Severus, you have never taken part in the duelling circuit."

"While this is all terribly interesting, let's get back to the point of this meeting."

"And yet, this is essentially what the meeting is about. Finding out what the factions plan to do."

"We could try just asking them."

"Pomona, that will not work. Students not named Granger volunteering information to professors? That's as rare as hen's teeth."

"And yet the students will answer questions we ask in class. I see no reason why it would hurt to try."

"Except it would tip our hand to them."

"Not everyone is a spy, Severus."

"Must you keep trotting out that line, Minerva?"

"I don't see how else a death eater of modest means like yourself could stay out of Azkaban."

"So, assuming Delores and Albus are not quite as subtle as they think they are, this should be simple to work out. Miss Edgecombe follows Delores, Mister Malfoy follows both his father and Severus, Mister Weasley follows Albus, while Mister Potter is relatively independent. I have not heard anything about your political ambitions, Pomona."

"Plants are much better company than wizards and witches sometimes, Filius."

"Hmm, four leaders, in such an array... I wonder if Septima would recognise the pattern."

"There's a pattern, Filius?"

"Two pairs of directly opposed factions, each 'opposed' by their 'ally' as well."

"Doesn't it break down with the ministry's official line being their 'ally' does not exist?"

"That's the level of the Ministry's opposition to the Death Eaters."

"Which really doesn't count for much, especially when Lucius Malfoy essentially controls Fudge."

"Exactly. The Ministry won't last very long once You-Know-Who is finally revealed."

"So what do we do about this in the meantime?"

"Remaining neutral will prove to be untenable in the near future. Delores especially is a polarising agent, actively recruiting for the Ministry."

"The one faction that will not last much beyond this year."

"Potter's little troupe won't last longer than the Ministry."

"I think you're underestimating Mr. Potter there, Severus."

"He has a penchant for not only surviving, but thriving in adverse circumstances. I wouldn't write him off just yet."

"I don't know what that dunderhead has shown you, Pomona, but I haven't seen anything to indicate he's anything other than lucky. A little maclaw venom, and the Dark Lord rules Britain."

"You don't have faith in the Headmaster, Severus?"

"No, I don't."

"And yet, here you are, instead of hiding on a tropical island somewhere."

"You also haven't attempted that little scheme, either. I'm sure you would have had many opportunities over the years to do just that."

"It's quite the conundrum. Another mystery is what exactly does Albus want with Mr. Potter. Before this year, I would have said there was a possibility he was grooming the boy to take his place once he retires, but it appears I was mistaken."

"I'm not sure how you came to that theory Filius, from what I have seen, the Headmaster's agenda appears to be straightforward."

"How so?"

"Minerva, it's quite simple. Albus intends for young Mr. Potter to die in the act of killing You-Know-Who, or at least before he turns seventeen."

"What? How do you come to that conclusion, Filius?"

"Do you remember the Triumvirate's first year, when we placed traps in the forbidden corridor?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Did you ever wonder why Albus chose particular traps? We could have placed much more difficult ones."

"No, I hadn't thought about it."

"The only truly difficult traps were the Cerberus, the troll and the potion puzzle. Even those were things they were specifically armed against."

"I understand the puzzle and the troll, but how were they armed against the cerberus?"

"Hagrid, in his infinite wisdom, gave Mr. Potter a wooden flute for Christmas. I've heard him play occasionally when I visit the common room."

"How well does he play?"

"Well enough that the music stopped a fight."

"Hagrid would do almost anything Albus suggested, unfortunately."

"So one could say the flute itself was from Albus. How painfully obvious this is in hindsight."

"Severus, when did you put your puzzle into place?"

"It would have been mid-November, why?"

"Only two weeks after Miss Granger joined their little group. Did you know that she has quite a collection of logic puzzles?"

"Why did you place the correct potion into the puzzle Severus?"

"The Headmaster ordered me to brew the correct potion. I would have just placed poison in them all otherwise."

"So the gauntlet was put in place specifically for the Triumvirate. Why would the Headmaster do such a thing, especially since he placed the Philosopher's Stone at the end of it. Speaking of which, the Flamels passed away not too long ago, why wasn't the Stone returned to them?"

"You don't think the Headmaster kept the thing?"

"Why not? He is an alchemist."

"So he effectively murdered the Flamels, while also setting up a confrontation between Quirinus and Mister Potter at the end of the gauntlet."

"There was a rumour going around at the end of that year that Quirinus was possessed, although by whom is unknown."

"Given all the set up, one would assume it was You-Know-Who, although how is quite the conundrum."

"Could the Headmaster have known beforehand?"

"In which case the idea was to set up a confrontation between Mister Potter and You-Know-Who. I see your point earlier Pomona."

"Then there's last year with that tournament."

"Yes, Mister Potter clearly did not enter himself into the tournament, yet still competed. Most curious."

"Magical contracts require some form of intent behind them, even if the intent is from the Imperious."

"Did you notice how Alastor always kept his flask with him at all times? He was never a heavy drinker. In fact, I remember him using an aguamenti to avoid a 'possibly tainted' drink."

"Oh yes, the 'Alastor' who taught until the third task was a death eater imposter."

"That rumour was true Pomona? How could Albus have let that go on so long?"

"My guess is that their objectives were identical."

"That's their first and fourth years, what did Albus plan for Mr. Potter in his second year?"

"The leading theory is that the Headmaster stifled investigation by anyone other than the Triumvirate, to keep everyone else out of the way. Only three creatures cause petrification, and the circumstantial evidence would suggest a basilisk from the start."

"The whole 'Heir of Slytherin' malarkey would not suggest a cockatrice, but could suggest a gorgon, with their hair."

"Yet many of the Slytherins take offence to anything resembling a human without being one."

"Speaking of which, why weren't the dangerous creature protocols activated?"

"That's something I would like an answer to myself."

"Wouldn't those wards have also dealt with the troll four years ago?"

"Yes they should have. One wonders why they were either taken down or simply not restored after the last time they were used."

"When was the last time they were used?"

"In all my years as a professor here, I have never seen those particular wards in use. Of course, there are so many wards, I don't know them all. I am unsure if even the Headmaster himself knows."

"Hogwarts has really shown itself to be the 'safest place in Britain' these last few years. About the only place more dangerous for children would be a nundu reserve."

"I wouldn't be surprised if Hagrid brought a few in next year."

"Hippogriffs in third year, those skrewts in fourth year. He has no regard for safety."

"And yet, all that the students received from the skrewts were light burns from the explosions."

"That has more to do with luck than his teaching skill."

"Maybe, Severus, maybe not."

"My godson was badly wounded by that hippogriff two years ago, and it wasn't properly put down afterward."

"Mr. Malfoy from all reports had provoked the creature, acting completely against Hagrid's warnings."

"Not according to my students."

"We've managed to get thrown off-topic yet again. Hagrid's curriculum choices are a discussion for another time. Which faction do we throw in with, or even join any at all?"

"I don't know about you others, but Hufflepuff house will repay their debt to Mr. Potter."

"Pomona! You would side against the Headmaster?"

"If he interferes with our affairs, then yes, Minerva, I would."

"It's been quite a while since I've been in a good duel. Still, protecting the students comes first."

"Fair enough Filius. I hope the war will leave this castle alone, but I fear the war has already reached it."

"This one is more complex than the previous, with another faction in the mix."

"A long, drawn-out mess, where people don't know who is on which side until the spells start flying."

"You forget about potential spies, Pomona."

"Just like Mr. Pettigrew, Minerva?"

"Pettigrew? Wasn't Black the traitor?"

"Sirius Black was a decoy. A brilliant decoy, except he was in an impossible situation."

"Black, Brilliant? I think I threw up a little in my mouth."

"A decoy? Then why would Albus stop the Ministry from giving him a trial? I remember he was the one to cast the Fidelius on Godric's Hollow."

"Now we're back at why Albus wants Mr. Potter dead, Minerva."


"And yet the pattern coming through is clear as day."

"Who would stand to gain if Mr. Potter passes before he turns seventeen?"

"His closest relative in the wizarding world would be Mr. Black, through his grandparents."

"After him would be one of the Black sisters, correct?"

"That's right. Bellatrix is out, but Narcissa or Andromeda could inherit."

"Or possibly Nymphadora. But wasn't Andromeda removed from the family?"

"Walburga never had the authority to do so."

"And young Nymphadora appears to be quite taken with Remus, who is firmly in Albus' camp."

"So in the absence of a will, the Potter properties would transfer to either Albus' little group or the Death Eaters, unless Andromeda declares neutrality or leaves Britain."

"Combined with the Black properties, that would be a lot of political and monetary power concentrated in the one person."

"Makes me wonder what Albus' 'Greater Good' is all about. With such concentrated power, he would be the de facto ruler of Wizarding Britain."

"He is already, Filius. Most of his more vocal opponents are aligned with Riddle. With them out of the way..."

"Did you know Grindelwald is still alive?"


"He wasn't killed back in '45?"

"No, Albus only imprisoned him."

"And they were friends before Grindelwald took Bavaria, weren't they?"

"Hmm... oh. Oh no."

"What, Filius?"

"With Grindelwald to rule the dark and Albus to rule the light, most people would take a side, wouldn't they Minerva?"

"Yes they would, but I fail to see how that changes things in Britain."

"Don't you see? Grindelwald and Dumbledore, friends who would both be potentially immortal due to the Philosopher's Stone. They intend to rule the world between them."

"That seems a rather long spell chain, Filius. Where do Riddle and Mr. Potter come in to this grand scheme?"

"Minerva, Riddle could have been a hiccup, or perhaps even a plant to draw the darker families and clearly identify who works on which side. Mr. Potter, on the other hand, could be an attempt by Magic itself to stop the plot. Given the scrapes he's gotten into and out of, he does seem somewhat marked for greatness."

"It's not like you to go towards Divination, Filius."

"And yet, Mr. Potter appears to be the subject of a prophecy. How else do you explain surviving a basilisk bite, meeting Riddle, even learning the Patronus at such a young age?"

"Don't forget his abusive upbringing by his relatives."

"They don't abuse the arrogant brat."

"Then you are clearly blind, Severus."

"So with two dark lords and a 'light lord' working towards a similar goal, it's Mr. Potter's job to fix the mess? Is that what you're trying to tell us Filius?"

"Him, or perhaps his children."

"I shudder to think of further Potter spawn."

"And yet, it might be the only way for the nation to continue without living under the heel of a dark lord."

"Wars against dark lords are not known for being very secret from the muggles, are they? The Ministry only just managed to pay off the Obliviation Squads from the last war with You-Know-Who for all the overtime they drew. "

"I've heard something interesting from my younger muggleborn students. Something they call security cameras."

"We already have part of the Obliviation Squads editing photographs whenever a wizard is indiscreet."

"These cameras are supposed to be like our wizarding cameras. The image can move, and the camera can be hidden."

"So what?"

"It means we won't be able to hide the evidence of magic for much longer, Minerva. The muggles will know when we break the Statute of Secrecy and even worse, our attempts to cover it up."

"Then what do we do?"

"At some point, we may need to integrate with the muggle world."

"Ridiculous! They would try to hunt us down just like before the Statute."

"The pureblood families and the muggleborns are the two points of weakness for the Statute."

"I can understand the muggleborns, but how are the purebloods a problem?"

"Arthur Weasley, as head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts department, is supposed to be most knowledgeable of muggle society. Do you really expect HIM to be able to blend in easily when he mouths off about plugs and such?"

"You have a point there, Pomona."

"Not to mention that most interaction between purebloods and muggles has been to commit crimes against them."

"Did you know the muggles have a weapon that can destroy an entire city at once?"

"Are you talking about the crazy theories to come out of the colonies? Surely those were debunked decades ago."

"All the muggleborns have agreed some muggle countries have the capability, apparently including this one. Recently, they've even claimed to have landed on the Moon!"

"There have been some very nice photographs of the moons of the outer planets recently. They even look to have been made very close to the planets."

"Which is completely impossible."

"While the pictures could be faked, they mention two things: a Voyager and a NASA. No idea what they are."

"Something to find out from the muggleborns when we have time, Filius. The coming war is rather more important than finding who's making odd pictures."

"We keep leaving the garden path, as it were. Do you truly think Mr. Potter is the subject of a prophecy, Filius?"

"I believe so, Pomona. While the Centaurs are the best at Divination through astrology, Goblins can read the signs in other ways. Mr. Potter is showing so many it's like Destiny herself is trying to beat us over the head with a ledger."

"So you're supporting Mr. Potter, then?"

"I suppose I am, if forced to take a side. Goodness knows he wouldn't want to sacrifice us for a momentary gain or dark ritual."

"I am afraid I will have to side with the Headmaster. He is our best chance against You-Know-Who, not young Mr. Potter."

"Minerva, you're making a mistake."

"A Patronus won't be able to defeat You-Know-Who, and you know it!"

"Severus, we haven't heard from you in a while. Knut for your thoughts?"

"If Britain is going to come to war, then it only makes sense to work with the winning side."

"And how do you know which is the winning side?"

"It's quite simple, who's using the proper force for a war? Not some arrogant teenager with delusions of competence!"

"And yet, he's rallying the student population behind him for a cause we all agree on: getting rid of the Toad."

"There is a massive difference between harassing an incompetent Ministry shill and fighting a war."

"Still, it is a good cause to back, and a way to bind his supporters together."

"We'll need to make sure to avoid the backlash once Umbridge is out of Hogwarts. The Ministry won't take the loss of their patsy lying down."

"It's getting late. We'll need to wrap this meeting up here. Four weeks from today for the next one?"