AN - Obviously it's been awhile since I updated. I'll give a short rundown here -

My birthday happened, which was good, then my sister moved out of state and I helped with that. Then I visited with various family members who live on the coast, and a lot of drama happened. Following that, my mom had a midlife crisis (?) and moved halfway across the country and got married 2 weeks later. She told me she was going to a reunion for her highschool and never came back.

She has a

lot of health issues - one of which is incredibly bad memory issues and her body is incredibly frail due to various diseases and illnesses. When she was close, me and the rest of the family could check up on her, make sure she took her pills and stuff, but now we can't. That's a big worry, because when we've not done it in the past, she's forgotten and almost died. In fact, the doctors have cracked jokes about how miraculous it is she hasn't died. On more than one occasion.

Stressful.

So while that was happening, my work got a new manager who has completely different methods to the last guy who ran the place, and I've had to relearn my whole job, and help retrain everyone who works under me. This means more stress, of course.

Then, when everything seemed to be settling back in, about a week ago, my computer blew up. Literally set on fire due to an electrical issue a couple days prior frying my cooling system and it finally caught up and set on fire. Literally. I lost my motherboard, graphics card and a lot of data on the story, which I've had to reconstruct. I've gotten a replacement, told my other responsibilities to take a back seat so I can focus on improving my mental health, since I feel like I've been getting tossed like a salad for the last 2 months.

This is before I go into what other things I do for fun, and how they've become increasingly onerous. I help new DMs for D&D and run my own group for fun, but recently people have been using me like a google search, instead of looking up the answers to their d&d questions. So on top of the 2 hours per day I put into doing stuff for new DMs and prepping my own game and notes and stuff, I had 2-3 hours of answering mostly inane questions.

I work for 10 hours a day 5 days a week. +2 +3 = 15 hours a day of work. Then I add in my personal care time and easily reach a 16-18 hour day. On average.

Weekends 'when I don't work' were mostly spent catching up on things I outright had no time to do during the week - like cleaning the house, shopping for food, doing a doctor's appointment, and trying to settle or otherwise help my family with some… issues they've been having aside from the big ones above - like babysitting so they can go hash out who's hosting which holidays this year.

So you could say my life has not been fun. So I told everything but work, it gets to wait, and I was going to write. So, here we are.

This AN was written on September 12th, 2022, if you're wondering. I expect my chapter (below) to be done on about 20th. (It's being posted late because of a small delay but also because I forgot to do it when I finished the chapter initially -cough-)

- Aubrey, aka Rotsu.

In the weeks following my first classes, very little changed, in reality. Umbridge was obviously getting progressively more frustrated, not being able to figure who, or what, was messing with her. Every day I made sure to lay magical traps of extreme complexity to befuddle her. This served the purpose of making her both irritable, and have almost no time to do any real investigation, considering how little time she has to even handle her detentions, which she hands out liberally.

Even I - who have been perfectly proper, if a bit direct, have had to serve two detentions with her. She had me write lines - which wasn't so bad - but I've seen other students - Harry primary among them - who have clearly been abused in their detentions.

How else could you describe someone who has a 'minor blood loss' tag in the information when you observe them, along with bandages on the hands, and perhaps up their arms? I can't tell how far the wounding has gone, but it's certainly a very mild form of cursed magic, as anything less would heal very quickly, and I've been asked by Madame Pomfrey, when I go up to ask for tips on various magical cures, to help with blood replenishers, and that's not a good sign.

If she needs more of those, then there must be at least a few dozen students who are getting such punishment. Two or three every day, and there's no way any regular potions stock could keep up with that.

Using cursed magic - or objects - to punish anyone, even criminals, is forbidden. You either give them some form of community service, like cleaning, helping with menial labour, or similar. Above that, expulsion or moderate jail time, and beyond that either a very large amount of jail time or outright execution. There is no law which allows for flogging or other corporal punishment anymore. Those were done away with as they don't fix the issue at all, and the administration finds that it actually increases crime in certain areas.

When you can fix wounds with a few minutes and spells, and joke about it soon after, well. No one really gives a damn about them.

Cursed items have never been allowed, except in two cases.

Blood Quills are allowed for extremely important magical documents which need you to be bound very, very hard to them. Literally binding you and everyone of your blood to a document. The other exception is even rarer, Oath Knives.

The knife is something which has been used exactly three times, and you use it to seal pacts. When you break an oath on the knife, it breaks, and the person who breaks the oath dies, as the spirit of the knife, in the curse, cuts their soul from their body with its magic.

The spell which people use to do the same effect, without the knife is one of the unforgivable curses. One guess as to which spell that is.

So either she is using curses on people in her detention to make them bleed as they work, or they're writing lines - like I have done - with a Blood Quill. Sadly, there's no proof which I can attain. I have written two letters to Harry asking for memories of his detentions, but he has stubbornly resisted. He claims this is his fight, and he needs to show that no matter what adversity he must face, he will continue in his path.

After all, what if the next person is worse than Umbridge?

I allow him that point. There are many people who could be worse - more damaging - than Umbridge. Voldemort possessed people, or one of his direct followers, for one. She may be a repugnant person, but she isn't actively trying to kill anyone. Still, I'm going to collect as much evidence as I can to see her securely and firmly punished as soon as I can. Jail for life, or execution if I can swing it.

Is this a bit strong?

Not by wizarding law.

Using curses or other magical torture on U17 children is a way to corrupt their magcial core, and turn them into Obscurus'. It's rare that it happens after they start an education, but the two times it has happened - once in France and once in Spain - destroyed the school which it happened in, and also killed half of the staff and students in the rampage. Spain never really recovered, and France moved the school and replaced any staff who didn't meet a very strict code, which is how we get the modern Beauxbaton. Well, in part.

The collapse of Magical Spain and the near-collapse of Magical France has a vast number of things which caused them. These are just two of the more important bits.

There are other issues, though, aside from all of that stuff.

In the month and some change, though, I've made a lot of progress. Mostly in my Animagus transformation, and my Shadow Magic. Working on both at the same time is very effective, considering both are animal forms, though my Animagus form is something which surprises even me.

I'd managed a full transformation only yesterday, and my form was impressive.

I look something like a very large fox, almost. A fox and grey wolf, if you can imagine. I'm almost 2 metres long, and my physical stats are slightly higher. My jaw is clearly my main weapon.

I figured that out after I crushed a very dense training post in my jaws with almost no effort, after I'd been practising swipes and jumps in this form.

What it is not is a stealth form. It's almost like a Lion sized dog. I can hide - sure. I'm pretty well colored for hiding too, a dark blackish brown, which will fit with hiding in shadows and on the ground - but I'm huge! Not very good at hiding.

I am very good at destroying things with my jaws, however. If I latch onto something, then whatever I'm attached to is going to break. The room of Requirement tells me my bite pressure is a bit over a Jaguars bite - 1550 PSI - and that's before I really put any training into it.

Mental note to look into k9 training, and attack dog training, along with studying how the great cats hunt, so I can look into how to use this form best.

My form, other than being very large, is also very extinct, I think. Or very nearly. It's not magical, but it is powerful. An apex predator who is designed to pounce on and crush prey, with a mild ability to run them down. My Shadow Form, on the other hand?

I'm pretty sure it's just an actual fox. I know these can be very large - perhaps twenty metres tall and forty metres long. For now I'm only able to partially transform, manifesting claws, tails and getting a massive increase to my senses of smell and hearing.

I have three tails, right now. I don't know how many I'll have when I finish my transformation. I do know that the most powerful users were nine-tailed shadow creatures. The Wolf, Tiger and the Hawk. The hawk was called 'The Lord of the 9 Winds' and depictions have 7 long tail feathers, and the tips of his wings have extra long feathers, too. His '9 tails'.

The Hawk was Egypt, the Wolf was China and the Tiger was Japan. There are no records of their deaths, but they all have disappeared. I'm planning to look into them, as while they may appear to be dead, no one really knows.

I plan to know.

As I ponder this, sitting in my Animagus form, planning my next practice session, the room begins to shift. First, I look at the door, which has also changed. The door is highly polished, the brass handle is turning in the flickering torch light of the room. Every wall has loads of books on tall book-cases wherever its safe to have one away from a torch. There are no proper chairs, either, I find as I turn the wheel into a corner to hide. Just large cushions. A set of shelves off to my right has a large pile of various objects I know to be secrecy sensors and Dark detectors.

Unsurprisingly I leap to my left, for the corner and room-given alcove, there.

I don't have time to change back to human form - which the first time can be rather slow and loud. This is the first time, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Though I doubt anyone will recognize me…

I'd not been focusing on keeping the room, and I had been pondering finding things, which may have opened it. That must be the case. While annoying, I'm fairly certain only people who I know had known about this room, with the exception of some of the staff. So, as the door opens, and I note an illusionary wall going over my alcove as the door finishes opening, I watch who comes in.

Staff? Or Student?

Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom stroll into the room. I give each a weary look.

Harry smells like he's reluctantly accepting of whatever is happening, Hermionie is astonished and ecstatic, and Neville is calm, but ready. Determined to see whatever must happen, will happen.

"These will be useful, for when we're practising various spells. Soft landings." Neville murmurs, tapping the cushions around the room with his foot, slowly working off to the bookshelves on the back of the room. Harry nods.

"And all of these books! I've never seen so many defence books! I know a number of these aren't even in the library!" Hermione gasps, and begins reading off book names. Harry goes over to the shelves closer to my end of the room, and looks over a few as well.

"Looks like the room even gave us the personal notes of various people, Aubrey is included in that." He says, pulling an identical copy of my notes from last year - which contained NEWT into Mastery level Defensive magical notes. He opens it, and then blinks in surprise, before he flips through a few more pages, and then sets it down on a table to the side. "I had no idea…" He murmurs, and then grabs what appears to be my third year notes, then flips through that, and nods.

"Why are you looking at her notes?" Hermione asks, a scrunched up look of concentration on her face. "Surely it can't be better than the source material?"

Neville shakes his head. "You're the only person who hasn't been in a one-on-one teaching session with her. When she makes notes, she quotes the passages which are most valuable, summarises the rest, then breaks down exactly what each means and how to use it most effectively. Then she goes on to explain how she figured all of that out, and what process she did. She refers to all of her previous sets of notes. You'd probably need all of her notes from every year to actually understand what her personal notes are." He concludes, and Harry gives him a bewildered but agreeing nod.

"That's exactly the case. Her notes from last year were well into mastery-level Defensive magic. Dumbledore and I went over the same material last year, but her knowledge of counters, general magical effects in relation to those spells, well, she knows way more than I do. Her control must also be much better than mine, because she mentions controlling no less than four constructs while also maintaining a blizzard effect to absorb spells aimed at her. Even with that, there was a mention of using magic to attack them, wandless magic, due to her requiring her wand to hold the Blizzard, which she noted 'isn't good enough and needs to be mastered truly.'" he says, sounding exasperated. I grin at the expression. Hermione smells of wonder and slight jealousy, and Neville smells like he's rock hard in his determination.

"So, why don't we ask her to help teach us here?" Neville asks. Hermione - surprisingly - nods. She doesn't like me, but is agreeing?

"Firstly, because I'm pretty sure I know more than her in defensive magic. Dumbledore and I did go over what was in her notebook last year - but it was at the beginning of the year. By the end of it, we were covering how to use alchemical spells to counter black magic." He explains, and I nod my massive head in agreement, he would know more than me, then. That's not advanced alchemy, but the practical application is beyond me. You transmute the magical energy, which requires a grasp of defence a bit beyond where I am. You have to master wandlessly gripping spells before they hit you, then surrounding them with your magic.

It takes a lot of power, and isn't something you'd do for almost any spell, but the true Black Magics need it, sometimes. Plagues, blood-curses, land destroying spells, etc. You can't just let those spells go through, or connect with, anything.

Alchemical counters, then.

"Secondly?" Neville asks.

"She would probably say no. She's extremely introverted. This year, she has been seen talking to her sister, her best friend - Sarah - Adrian Pucey, Angelina and Alicia, Muirin Mathuana and Daphne Greengrass. Anyone else is ignored as though they don't exist, and outside of her sister, Adrian and Muirin, they only talk when they happen to run into each other, which is strange. I doubt she'll actually want to teach a bunch of people she does not know." He says with a sigh, then holds up a third finger.

"This third thing is most important. She's someone who likes to have everyone else respect or fear her. She is like a deterrent to people doing a lot of dumb things. No one bullies anyone in Ravenclaw because she is that scary. No one dares to cause any problems in her year for anyone else because she might hear of it, and teaching would ruin that image. She might work with us, give us pointers, but she will not teach them. We could probably ask her for Magical Theory and Control lessons, along with non-defensive methods of countering common attacking spells, but she won't teach herself." He finishes, and I tilt my head.

I might have taught if asked, but it is true I have a reputation, and I need to make it wider than it is. I might be a household name in most of Europe when it comes to duelling, and in some academic circles, I'm sure, but I need to broaden my control. I need to gain a foothold in more areas. The next generation, who it seems Harry is going to teach, getting my help will do that. I'll just make sure any advice they get from me is phrased just so, they all know I know more and dangerous things aside.

This will see them respect and fear my ability, and word will spread along more lines. I'm not just good at duelling, my actual knowledge of magic is very high. Students whispering this in letters home will result in much, much more fame or infamy than otherwise.

It was then there was a knock on the door. I settled onto my haunches to watch, as a gaggle of gaping Gryffindors walked in.

I'll need to assess which skills each student has first, and carefully observe them and read every scrap of information I can out of what I see.

28 kids? No problem. By the end of the week, they'll have a detailed lesson plan for the next three months worked out. If they stick to it - well - they'll end up being much more effective than they otherwise would be.

If not, then it's not my problem, is it?

.*****.

I realised - a day later and with some amusement - that the school rule about students not gathering in groups larger than three was almost certainly aimed at the defence group I'm going to be aiding.

If it gives Umbridge more grey hairs - then all the better.

The basic plan is to have them learn and practice basic, but unobtrusive, magical control spells between DA lessons, right now. Along with that, most of them are things which aren't taught, but were tested in OWLs and NEWTs as little as twenty years ago.

Magic advancing is great, but cutting important lessons to cover more new, advanced magic, is certainly hurting some of the less skilled students.

This should help to bridge those gaps - for the people who listen.

I quietly finish the last line of the general lesson plan, and then sigh as the bell rings, and History is let out for the day.

Only Rickie's classes left. Both of them, which is nice for me, not having to move.

I quietly step into a side passage, slip into a secret passageway behind a nondescript portrait of a field of wildflowers, and shadow-step into the closet near her classroom. Within a few moments, I'm settling into my chair, right next door to the convenient closet.

Umbridge files in not a minute before class, and Rickie gives her a nod - and gestures to a chair when Umbridge opens her mouth. After a pause, Umbridge speaks, anyway.

"I hope you got the message about my attending your classes to review your methods?" She asks, primly sitting in the chair set aside for her.

Rickie nods. "Yes, I did. I am glad to have you. As a rule, you must not speak when I am, or interrupt me when I'm taking questions. Don't interrupt the students, either. This class is very difficult. If you have questions, you may ask me when I am not otherwise engaged, and, of course -" the bell rings, and Rickie seals the door. "- you may ask any questions of the students if they are not reading, or are awaiting help, while I am occupied." She tells Umbridge, who nods - looking a smidge upset at Rickie's tone, and makes a few notes, as Rickie opens the lesson.

"Today, we are going to review defensive warding. I have decided to pop-quiz you all. Jenkins - what is the first way to detect a ward?" She snipes off, and the glazed look snaps off his face, as he goes to answer. Umbridge, meanwhile, is writing vigorously.

The pop-quiz takes five minutes, everyone asks a question - except for me - and then she nods, and waves a hand, summoning, then banishing warded pebbles at us.

"Inspect these wards and tell me what they have on them. You have ten minutes, if you get stuck, raise your hand. Should you fail to make a proper assessment, then you will likely be unable to speak for the rest of the class, as these wards are touchy." She instructs, and we set to work.

My pebble has a seven layered ward on it, everyone else has a simple tongue-tying ward, if they try to cast a spell on the ward, it will activate. It is very obvious to anyone who knows anything about wards.

I carefully deconstruct my warding sequence, then reconstruct it and nod, thirty seconds later.

Umbridge, meanwhile, is vigorously questioning Rickie. I'm sure I hear 'unapproved material' and 'will need minstrel approval' at least three times. Rickie, however, is very carefully explaining exactly why the course is very ministry approved. This is the gentlest way of teaching wards and anti-wards, which is the purpose of the class.

The other methods involve tossing students at complex wards and then showing them, link by link, how to dismantle the ward, then resetting them and having them repeat what you did, then quizzing them on why it worked how it did.

Not kind, because the wards usually end up putting a curse on whoever tries the first few times as they fail, and this results in them spending a day or two in the hospital wing.

The best way to learn how to ward something, is to break them and then figure out how you did it, and how to make sure it can't be done in the future.

Umbridge clearly doesn't understand this - or that if you can make a ward, you can break it just as easily.

"The Minister will not be happy with you teaching children how to breach the defences placed on important places or objects!" She trills happily, her voice sounding like sugared honey. There is an underlying bitterness - though.

Umbridge is jealous of how religiously the students are working while her classes barely read when she asks them to - usually falling into chaos within minutes, as students who already read the assigned material banter with friends.

"How would you teach them instead?" Rickie asks, and Umbridge puffs up. Like she knows better than a recognized archmage.

"By following ministry guidelines!" Umbridge says triumphantly. "There is no need for them to use their magic to deconstruct wards! They can learn from books, as is proper at their age and skill level!" She chirps happily.

"They have already read, and been tested on, four entire books on warding theory. I assign one per week. One of their classes - each week - is on those tests and discussion of the books. The other days - like this - are for practising what they've read so they can know the gems in the books from the trash." Rickie cooly responds, and Umbrige reacts as though slapped.

Four books in four weeks? Impossible!

The reaction clearly flashes on her face. I stifle a smile, and survey the room.

Four of the other seven have sour looks on their faces, indicating they tried to cast a spell on the ward and got their tongues tied. Two others look happy with their findings, and one looks utterly confused. I write out my list of wards - and what they do along with how they interact - for her review.

Rickie and Umbridge keep sniping back and forth for another five minutes, before Umbridge inspects the class - and then harrumphs and sits.

Rickie asks for everyone to report what the first ward they found was - and what it did - verbally.

Five fail to respond, and are sent off with a two-foot parchment on what they did wrong due next class. The rest of us are lectured for thirty minutes on the complexities of wards, and how to overcome wards like these, which stop people from casting anything but the counter on them, without a proper shield on the dispeller first.

Then she lectures for the last ten minutes on the homework, and assigns this week's book for reading, and dismisses the class. By the end, Umbridge looks furious, and I gleefully leave.

I have a lesson plan to give to Harry, listing the best ways to train the students in his club.

The fact all of my methods will make Umbridge want to tear her hair out, is only a small, small bonus...

One which fills me with childish vindication and glee.

.*****.

"You're serious?" Harry asks, looking over my notes, I gleefully nod. He sees this, and sighs. "I doubt anyone will be willing to do this much work." He points out, and I nod again.

"The point is, when they ask for what the core of the things they need to practice is, you can cut it down for those people. Really, the first couple things are the most important. After that…" I shrug as a way to emphasise.

It doesn't matter, really, but the rest will help as they get further along in their training. If they can complete or do all the exercises, then they'd have a massive advantage in a number of ways in learning all kinds of spells, considering the latter exercises are all about control, and control makes learning magic much, much easier.

"I get the point, but they probably won't like that I teach them something which they've never heard about but which is obviously important - and should be in the core classes." He grumbles, and I give him a smile.

"Flitwick and McGonagall both teach control, they just don't call it that. What do you think the reason behind the first things they teach in every year are for? Levitation, for example, forces you to gain a level of basic control. Matches into needles does this too, though in a different way. Part of the reason why most people stop having accidental magic - unless they have an over-active core, like we do, is because the control they learn from the exercises is much too high compared to their puny reserves. If you have accidental magic when you aren't really in need of it - then you just haven't got enough control." I explain, then sigh. "Most people don't like to hear that, because it makes them feel like a child, instead of a powerful mage who needs to do work to use the power effectively." I conclude, and he nods, looking abashed after his flash of anger at my explanation as to why -he- has accidental magic.

I know he still does because I've seen odd things happen to people around him too much. He probably feels like Dumbledore would teach him control if he needs it, where Dumbledore clearly thinks it's something so intuitive he'd learn it on his own if he needed it.

"Did you have anything else to give me? This may last me a few months, but I may need more for the rest of the year, if they actually put significant effort in." He tells me, tucking the notes away.

I shake my head, and then stand from the hard chair in the classroom we'd met in. "I have a meeting with Dumbledore, actually. This is a good place to wrap up." I explain, and he nods, rising as well.

"See you around then." And with that, he departs. I shrug, walk into a shadow, and appear at the half-way mark on the headmaster's stairway, so he has some warning. The escalator drops me at the top a moment later, and I walk right in, knowing Dumbledore will be waiting.

And indeed, he is.

"Early as always, Miss Hawthorne." He greets, looking pleased. "One may think you're eager to get it over with so you can go back to giving the staff grey hairs. You're clearly better than most in their fields, and they're a bit worried about what that may lead to, if you keep going at this pace." He tells me, a flurry of twinkles in his eyes.

"Just like they were with you, I suppose." I return, and he nods, happy I know - and can draw the line - between us.

"Mostly, they'll not mind, because like Miss Vantor and Severus and indeed, myself, you'll prove that it's not a threat. Just a good person trying their best to help. Not a threat to them or their positions." He agrees. I nod, lounging in my chair. Very comfortable compared to the annoying classroom chair from minutes ago.

"I suppose. I know you wanted to see me for something other than this, though. You almost never call me to your office, unless it's important. Order business last time, and the time before that was the whole Dragon issue, and before that it was even more sparse." I say, trying to make plain my desire to move forward.

"Well, yes. There is something to speak about, what do you know of the Department of Mysteries?" He asks, and I squint at him, then tilt my head.

"What level of clearance do you have?" I ask. He gives me a smile.

"Level Seven, of course. I am the head of the Wizengamot and the ICW and I'm also the person who holds the contacts for the heads of various divisions of the government, or have regular interactions with the heads of such departments as the one I ask after." He tells me genially. I nod.

Only way to learn about Level Seven is to have the clearance, be the head of an Unspeakable Unit, or be the head of a Department.

Or read their documents, like my four-year-old self had done.

"Well, I know the names, code names and homes of a number of unspeakables, I also know what each department does, how to navigate their rooms and what they were doing as of ten or so years ago. Nothing too in-depth, but the general gist. Time Magic. High level Emotional Magic, Dimensionalisim. You get the idea. I also know they're the ones who keep the hall of prophecies." I explain, and he nods.

"There are currently 1,492 active prophecies, great and small. The biggest among them are the Prophecy of the Four Seasons and the 13 Pillars, which are thought to be different prophecies of the same event - and the one regarding Harry Potter - which he, I and I would suspect you know." He tells me. I shake my head.

"I figured there'd be a prophecy, things don't happen around people like they have been around him without such, but frankly, I've never gone looking for the information. Enough to know there is one." I explain, and he nods.

"The other I mentioned may be of interest to you, though. There are indications it is related to you, along with Harry and a number of others across the globe. Four Europeans, Two Americans, two south Americans, three Asians and two Africans, we think. There'll come a time, soon, when I can test if it applies to you, at least, and that is what I'm to speak with you about. The Hall of Prophecies." He explains. I nod happily, glad to be given a reason to go into the den of the Unspeakables.

"You may have guessed, but Voldemort does not know the Prophecy regarding him and Harry, other than the fact it exists, and says he and Harry cannot both live long in the same world. He will try to bait Harry to go collect it for him, we have discussed this, and decided to use this plan to bait him - by capturing or otherwise eliminating his squad sent to collect the item from Harry. If enough damage is done, Voldemort will be forced to come to the Ministry to attempt to rescue his followers. I cannot be present, due to the fact he would not come if I was there, but outside of myself, he would come for anyone else." He explains.

"How could he tell you are, or are not, there?" I ask.

"My mana signature - and his own - resonate with each other. We're polar opposites, and as such, when we are close - perhaps within a kilometre of each other - a resonance begins, and we can literally feel each other. The closer we get, the more intense this becomes. When I enter direct combat with him - or am in a compatible range, your average witch or wizard would often find it impossible to move due to the pressure. This happened with myself and Grindelwald, too. Hence how our Duels have happened. Likely, this is just due to the rituals we have done - myself the Ritual of the Phoenix, and himself the Ritual of the Dragon." Dumbledore explains, and I nod.

Creature of Peace and Creature of Destruction. They'd create a magical dissonance to be too close to each other - hence why Phoenixes live isolated from most other magical creatures, in fact.

I have the Ritual of the Phoenix still in my possession, but being a firmly Neutrally aligned spellcaster, I'll need not that, or the Ritual of the Dragon - probably going to have to go with a Primordial or Fey ritual, which I'll have to find. Maybe an Eastern Dragon Ritual, which would be much better for me.

Normal Dragon will just not do, in spite of the power it gives, my affinity for Dark Magic isn't good enough, and it would grate on my soul, as Dark Magic is my weakest affinity.

"Magical resonance like that between extremely powerful and skilled mages like yourself and the various Dark Lords is an interesting issue. I'm wondering if I might find a creature more aligned with myself - Neutral Rituals seem to be the hardest to find." I explain with a sigh, seeing his curious look at my pondering.

"I can see that, yes. Perhaps you would do well to look into Loch Ness? The creature there isn't Light or Dark, if you could get some of its blood, or other parts to conduct the ritual, then, well, it may work. Other than that, your Familiar isn't a bad choice, but the Gravekeepers aren't very powerful, as far as those go. Thunderbirds may also be viable, but you don't favour heat, as I've seen, and Lightning based creatures may clash with your soul as badly as the traditional Dragon rituals might." He sighs, and I nod, again.

"It's a shame most of the creatures people use for these things favour heat. It makes people who are best with water, wind and the dark like me have issues. Most creatures of the dark have an affinity for Dark magic, and water or wind are just obscenely rare in this side of the world. Most of the powerful creatures of the type are off in the east." I grumble, getting a nod of agreement.

Fire is big in western mythos, as the element of ultimate life and destruction. The most powerful creatures are always warm things. Dragons, Phoenixes and even Unicorns are all warm elementally, which is an innate clash with myself, and my magic, which favores cold a lot - based, likely, on my choice of Ice as a primary affinity for my Devil heritage. The draconic tint I'd gained from the ritual with Heltana wasn't very much of a change, and the only thing it inflicted upon me was greater mana reserves, along with a better resistance to the warm elements - fire specifically - which was a kind of block to getting anything which would improve my natural resonance with it, hence why a normal Ritual of the Dragon wouldn't work.

On top of that, most western dragons are vicious creatures. They like to attack, kill and cause mayhem, where I like to attack to prevent those things among those I love. The major issue between these things is how my mind would react to the alteration. I would probably go insane, or lose a number of my normal inhibitions.

This is almost certainly what happened to Voldemort, and why he went from conniving and careful, to outright bloodthirsty and evil. The influence of the Ritual.

Beyond that, there are a pile of things which I can't access easily. The creatures of water - the Leviathans for example, would be a fine Water creature for me. They're territorial and fight basically to protect their spots in the ocean, but the main issue is you can't really make a deal with them as easily as a Dragon or Phoenix. They'll just attack you. Subduing them isn't easy, and even if you do, they may still refuse to converse, basically demanding you die - as a clear threat - or they die so they don't have to live with the dishonour of losing to a pathetic human like those who best them.

Everything else is either too weak magically of natural ability - Mermen for example - or are just evil. Like the monster, Scylla in Greece.

"I'll look into Loch Ness, I guess. I was hoping to avoid it, because I know it's very reclusive and tends to dislike people messing with it too much. It would rather hide than fight, which isn't very similar to myself. I fight, even if it is just to protect what is mine, in the end." I explain further. Dumbledore smiles.

"You may yet be surprised. There's a reason almost all magical creatures of any real power avoid the area. The Monster of the Loch is very dangerous when threatened, there are just too few things which could threaten it." He riposts. I give him a look - clearly he knows what the thing is, but can't tell me.

Not a Khelpi, not a Leviathan, but a powerful water or wind based creature - maybe both - which lives in a lake in Scotland?

I have no idea what it could be, frankly.

"I'll go soon, I guess." I shrug. He nods.

"Will I have your help for the Trap in the Department of Mysteries? I'd like you to eliminate their rearguard, along with any reinforcements they send in to capture Harry. He'll deal with the Vanguard, along with the Order. He implies some of his friends - Miss Granger for certain - will force themselves along with him, and I want to keep them as safe as possible." He tells me, redirecting to the original point of the conversation.

"I'll need a cover story for why I'm there. Perhaps political papers with Lord Greengrass and Lord Shafiq. We can 'come down' when Voldemort arrives and testify to his return publicly, to force the ministry to reveal the truth." I suggest, and Dumbledore nods.

"As long as you think you can go unseen, that should be fine. While I respect your public appearance as a middleground who takes no sides, I doubt even you can keep it up forever." He explains, and I nod.

"This is why I come when Voldemort does, so I can have a reason to hunt his followers and remove them from play. If he's destroying things around me, and obviously putting me in danger, making moves agaisnt him is a respectable move - since there is no way he'd avoid trying to hit me if he can. The man hates me, I can tell by the utter lack of recruitment attempts on my person, in spite of the fact he must know I'm the best mage to go through Hogwarts since he, himself went through. At least, in his mind." I explain, and Dumbledore's eyes go from starry sparkling to blazing suns.

"This is very devious of you. The Dark families who don't want to side with him for whatever reason will like this darker, vengeful side to you. No need for them to know it was all pre-planned." He agrees with a grin.

Probably thinking this will result in less people on the Dark Lord's side, and less death, therefore. All good things in his book.

Politics. He may realise I'm playing him, though. To his morals, while I break them at the same time to maintain a good appearance to him.

Maybe.

"Anything other than the Ministry and the Loch Ness I may find interesting?" I ask. He nods slightly, and I give him a look.

"The Prophecy which may be about you." He explains, and I nod. "It came from many different seer's. A few European seers, a handful of asian seers, and so on. I'm pretty sure every major magically inclined country has at least one of the two versions of it which we have." He explains, and I nod.

"Why is this one so important, other than everyone getting it?" I ask, he nods slightly, indicating it isn't a bad question.

"The memory of the giving of the Prophecy which we have, well, it is about a potential end of the whole world, and it indicates that the thirteen must be as one, or the world is doomed." He explains, then leans back. "We know for sure who two of these people are - well two of the beings, I should say. The Japanese have one of them, and she lives in Kyoto - and has lived there for a very long time. The other lives in Canada, and he is a very old Vampire, who has designed a way to overcome his weakness to the sun. Also very old. These two, like ourselves, are incredibly gifted with magic. The Vampire is good with the magic of cold, ice, wind, water, and all other things which are present in winter. The Japanese lady - well - she is good with magics of the Light. A very rare ability - much like your skill with Shadow - and she is the high-priestess of Amateratsu, among other things. This gives her control over heat, as well as light. You can imagine how these two, at least, may not get along?" He asks, and I nod.

I've dealt with such conflicting personalities before. I did lead a group before, and sometimes people are so opposed in what they like to do that the best way to get them to get along is to separate them and have them handle things apart from each other, but on the same track to the end goal. The leader has to be receptive to all of them, and able to get along with all of the personalities under them, or it falls apart, though.

One with all of them, yet none of them.

"And you think because of the very sharp uptick in people as skilled as myself in recent years, that we may well see the rest fill out quickly?" I ask, and he nods.

"It would be foolish to assume otherwise. I thought, when I was young and knew nothing of this, that I may be one of them, searching for the Deathly Hallows, which is one of the sets of artefacts the Prophecy indicates, but I never did find them all." He explains, and I sigh, but nod. He continues. "You already have two of them, and could easily complete the trio if wanted, which makes you a prime candidate for the position." He concludes, and I shake my head with a smile.

"Harry will wind up the possessor of all of these, I decided I would rather not be so closely tied to death. She is a fair mistress, but I am not one who would reside so close to her, in this life." I explain, ignoring the +1 relationship with Death notification I get. Why in the world would she like that? I've no clue.

"There are others you are… uniquely in a position to acquire, with your professional desires. Travelling the world and going into various tombs, you may well find the resting place of many similar artefacts. Most Curse Breakers aren't as magically skilled as you, and as a result, you may well end up breaking into long abandoned tombs, or places which were deemed unbreakable." He explains, and I give him a curious look. He merely shrugs tiredly, and then leans back in his chair. "Either way, I will acquire a time for you to go and see if you are related to the Prophecy this winter break. Which day might work best for you?" He asks, and I do a quick calculation. I have a winter circuit tournament to attend - nothing major, just a few duels to acquire my placement in this year's world-cup. Then Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years…

"The Second of January should be fine." I tell him. He nods.

"I'll see you then."

"Anything else? I think I should get back to work." I explain, and he shakes his head, and our meeting ends, in peace.