Category – Angst/Drama
Disclaimer – All main characters and situation owned by J.K. Rowling
A/N: OK everybody, I've had an enormous amount of trouble with this one. I know I said the next chapter was "Harry, Harry,Quite Contrary." That one is coming up, but this isn't it.
As many of you have pointed out, this fic has become strongly plot driven as well as character driven. This presents some problems. In particular, it is very difficult to get in everything needed for the plot while sticking exclusively with an Albus POV. I've been wrestling with that for the last month, and I've decided that I just can't do it without all sorts of artificial devices like unnecessary characters or unbelievable coincidences. Therefore, I think we need to leave Albus for a little while. Never fear, we will get back to him. But, after all, other people have monsters to deal with this summer.
Our first step in elucidating necessary plot points is below. It is not a chapter as such but rather an Interlude in the action. I hope you enjoy. I have added a long author's note at the end discussing where things will go from here and trying to answer some of the questions people have brought up.
HERE BE MONSTERS, PART ONE: ALBUS
Interlude: Strange Cavalry
Friday, 5 July 19962147 GMT + 02 00
"Dr. Mahalan!" The urgent voice cut through the third floor of the rambling building with practiced ease. The speaker, a tall broad shouldered man with a neat sandy beard, stood at the head of the staircase and called again. "Dr. Mahalan, you are being mirror called!"
One of the many doorways in the upstairs corridor opened to reveal a middle-aged, heavyset man with rapidly thinning hair and wide, pleasant features. He was wearing green healer's robes with fluffy white slippers peaking from beneath the hem. "Is it a red call, Kaarlo?" he asked wearily.
"No, Doctor," the large man paused, concern on his face at Mahalan's obvious fatigue.
"Go on, Kaarlo, you would not have disturbed me without good reason, I know." The mind wizard smiled and Kaarlo felt a soft wave of comfort and relief flow over him. Erkki Mahalan had that kind of effect on people.
"It is from Scotland, Doctor. And it has Countess Streltsy's personal sigul."
Mahalan looked, if anything, even more weary. "So soon?" he murmured.
"Just griping, Kaarlo. I will come down at once." Putting the book he was carrying on a nearby table, Mahalan hurried past the large man with a speed and agility surprising in one so portly. Reaching the lower corridor of his combination clinic/home/research institute, he padded into his private office, a brightly-lit room done in cheerful yellows and soft blues. With its many bookshelves and abundance of souvenirs it more closely resembled a scholar's study than the consulting chamber of a busy professional healer. An arctic phoenix, its plumage sparkling with the colors of the Northern Lights, sat on a perch near a set of comfortable chairs and couches, one of which, by its size and placement, was obviously the doctor's.
A large, dark mirror took up a part of one wall to the side of Mahalan's overstuffed chair. It was placed there so that the doctor's many patients could reach him if necessary. As Kaarlo had said, the surface of the mirror presently glowed a pale yellow, indicating the message was important but not of life-and-death significance. A small set of symbols in the upper right hand indicated the caller – none other than Elizaveta, the Countess Streltsy.
The phoenix flew swiftly to Erkki's shoulder and whistled softly, its song the essence of clear, cold, fresh waters and bright blue skies. "I know Vannomen," the healer said with a smile, "I will be all right."
Kaarlo backed out quietly. On his way he almost bumped into a gray-clad house elf who shouldered past him into the room as if he were a negligible obstacle. Kaarlo gave a small bow of respect as the elf turned to glare at him, one hand reaching up to steady the red hat that had almost been knocked off his rounded head. The elf watched the door close silently, then turned to look at Mahalan's broad back. His features momentarily drooped in sadness. The phoenix turned its blue-plumed head and caught the elf's eye. Squaring his shoulders, he squeaked, "It won't go away if you ignore it, you know."
"I'm not ignoring it, Little Father. I'm just wishing it could have been a little later."
"I know child," the elf walked up and threaded his hand into Mahalan's, giving the human's a gentle squeeze, "you are under no command."
"Saunatundo," Mahalan looked down at the elf and smiled wearily, "you know better than that."
"I'm not sure that I do." The elf frowned and fixed his gently glowing eyes on Erkki's wide face. "You would do well to listen to your own counsel." Vannomen whistled in agreement.
"So you have told me many times, Little Father. But there is more at stake here. You know that."
"Yes," the elf sighed, "that I do know." Vannomen's whistle turned slightly sad.
"Then if you will let me have my hand back, we will get to work." Mahalan grinned widely as he extracted his fingers from the elf's grasp. Reaching into his robes he pulled out a long knife with a wide blade and an elaborately decorated hilt. He waved the knife in the air in front of the mirror as if using its blade to push back a curtain and softly pronounced the activation incantation, "Boasta."
The glow brightened for a moment, then faded to reveal Elizaveta, the Countess Streltsy, standing in what appeared to be a rather ornate bedroom. The view was slightly skewed, as she was no doubt using a hand-held version of the mirror.
"Countess," Mahalan said, switching easily from Finnish to Bulgarian and smiling. The elf had backed away to be out of view of the Countess' mirror. Relations between a saunatundo and his family were a sacred thing, not to be revealed lightly. "Where have your travels have taken you lately?"
"To Hogwarts, Doctor," Elizaveta replied in the same language, returning his smile.
"Most interesting. What can I do for you?"
"I believe I may have a new patient for you, Dr. Mahalan." Vannomen whistled a little irritably, and the Countess smiled again. "Yes, and for you as well, Vannomen."
"In Scotland?" His tone was not surprised, but accepting.
"No, well, possibly yes. Your client would be Harry Potter."
The phoenix trilled softly, its eyes widening in a comic look of avian shock.
"I see." Mahalan closed his eyes, as if suddenly overcome by a terrible weariness.
"Is something wrong, Dr. Mahalan?" The Countess was obviously surprised and concerned.
"Just a little tired, that's all. Why are you attempting to find psychiatric help for the Boy Who Lived? And what type of help does he need?"
"I have not met him myself. Part of this I have been told and part I have learned from ... unnamed sources ... and part I have deduced."
"Understood. Please continue."
"It appears that Mr. Potter is reacting very badly to the stress of his life. As you probably know..."
"I read the Daily Prophet every morning, Countess. Between that and the Wizarding Times out of New York I have kept up rather well with the situation. Well, with public knowledge of it anyway."
"Then you can probably imagine..."
"That there would be severe problems, yes," the psychiatrist finished for her. Vannomen nodded his majestic head vigorously.
"Albus Dumbledore is extremely concerned. He feels that the mind healing circles in Britain might be compromised."
"Does he now?"
"I promised to contact you," the Countess said slowly, obviously surprised by the healer's reaction. "I could not make any promises."
"Of course not, Countess." Suddenly Mahalan smiled, and as always with his smile, things seemed instantly better. "But I can. Please inform Professor Dumbledore that we will come to Mr. Potter's aid at once. I will leave as soon as I can make arrangements concerning my ongoing projects here, and of course for the care of my patients."
The Countess regarded him with a stunned expression. "I am sure Professor Dumbledore will be overjoyed, Doctor."
"I will be satisfied if he just avoids arguing with me every ten minutes."
"I am not sure I can promise that, Doctor. Professor Dumbledore is a very strong willed man."
"I would be amazed if he were not. I will see you shortly Countess."
"Don't you want to know the rest of the details of the situation, Doctor?" The Countess looked uncharacteristically flustered.
"It is better to gather those details on site and in person, Countess. It is an important part of the therapeutic process."
"Oh," the Countess smiled vaguely, "I see." She obviously saw no such thing. "I will tell the Headmaster that the cavalry is on the way. At least, I think that is the way they put it."
"Americans do, anyway. I'm not sure about the British. Until then." He waved his blade and the mirror went blank. For a moment he stared at the dark glass, then rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand.
"Aren't you being just a little dramatic?" the house elf commented.
"I suppose I am," the healer chuckled. "And I tell my patients to avoid melodrama!" Rising he lifted his magical sword and incanted "Divga!" The blade of the sword vibrated, sending forth a clear bell-tone. "Kaarlo, Juuho, to my office, please," he said in a normal voice, knowing his words were broadcast throughout the building. "You have to admit, though, Little Father," he continued to the elf, "we are a very odd cavalry troop."
After only a few moments there was a soft knock at the door. Kaarlo and Juuho, who greatly resembled his colleague except in the absence of a beard, entered respectfully. "Doctor Mahalan," they intoned respectfully, "Vannomen," to the phoenix, "Luonar," nodding to the house elf,
"Gentlemen, we will be heading to Scotland as soon as appropriate arrangements can be made. Kaarlo, please contact our usual sources and make arrangements for the care of our patients while we are away. I also want you to put our research projects on hold so far as can be managed."
"Very good," Kaarlo replied. A long veteran of Mahalan's hectic and dramatic schedule, he remained unruffled. "How long of an absence should I plan for?"
"Are you sure, Doctor?" Kaarlo asked, slightly surprised. "That might be difficult."
"Indefinite," Mahalan repeated flatly. "This mission is our first priority until it is accomplished. Our patient is Harry Potter."
There was a moment of stunned silence. "Very good, Doctor. But it may take a few days to make the arrangements."
"Work as fast as you can. Juuho," Erkki turned to the other large man, "we will need to be ready to deal with a severely depressed and possibly psychotic adolescent, male, age approximately sixteen, of the highest power magnitude. I hope we will not find Mr. Potter quite so ill, but we had best prepare for the worst."
"Yes, Doctor. Should we expect resistance on the part of the patient?"
"Almost certainly, I'm sorry to say."
"What about violence? Will it be necessary to restrain him?"
"God, I certainly hope not!" Mahalan replied fervently.
"So do I, Doctor," Juuho continued in a professional tone, "nevertheless, given the possible danger involved, I think it best if we be ready to apply maximum restraint and sedation. I think I should inquire immediately as to facilities available at Hogwarts for this purpose."
Mahalan came as close to a frown as anyone had ever seen him. It wasn't really a frown so much as a tightening of his lips and a narrowing of his eyes.
"Very well," he said heavily, "do as you think best." Juuho and Kaarlo had been his friends and assistants for many years. It would be foolish to start double guessing them now.
The two men nodded and started to leave. "Wait!" Mahalan said suddenly. Coming up to them, he placed one hand on each of their shoulders and looked at them soberly.
"I trust both of you with my life, you know that. Please do not take what I am about to say as an insult."
"Of course not, Doctor," Juuho answered.
"Certainly not," Kaarlo agreed.
"If it should come to the worst, it will be imperative that we act as gently as possible with an absolute minimum of force. The savior of the wizarding world may be coming to pieces, and it is an absolute necessity that we fix him, not crack him further."
Both men nodded their understanding.
"Besides," Mahalan grinned and the mood instantly lightened, "we will be at Hogwarts under the eye of Albus Dumbledore himself, who is almost assuredly going to have his long nose inserted into every aspect of the therapy. Unless I miss my guess, if he hears so much as one unnecessary "Ouch" out of the Boy-Who-Lived we will all be trying to find a way home from the dark side of the moon."
All of them laughed softly, including Luonar the house elf. The elf approached in the padding way of his kind and looked up at the faces of the assembled humans. "I would be pleased," he said formally, "if Juuho would make arrangements for me to accompany you as well."
"Are you sure Little Father?" Mahalan asked in surprise. "I was counting on you to stay here and see that things run well."
"Bah! The other tundo can deal with their jobs without me! And I have never seen Scotland or Hogwarts."
"If you want, Little Father," Mahalan said. "I would not deny you a vacation."
"VACATION!" The humans winced knowing Erkki had made a mistake. Vannomen fluttered and gave an avian grumble. "I will have you know, child, that I have never had a vacation and have no need for such a disgraceful thing!"
"Of course not, saunatundo," Erkki said formally, "please forgive your erring child."
"It is not to worry, child," Luonar immediately answered in gentle tones, "we of the tundo often forget that our Tall Children have not our strength."
The humans wisely made no comment. Vannomen blinked but also wisely kept his beak tightly closed.
"Besides, I will not commit my child to the keeping of British elves who knows how long! I doubt there is a single competent tundo at Hogwarts!" The elf's eyes flashed. "I will not have you coming back skin and bones for us to have to fatten up again."
Mahalan, who, truth to tell, would not have minded losing a few pounds, suppressed a sigh. "I would never dare stand against your wisdom, Little Father."
"You are learning child." The elf patted Erkki's hand fondly. "It's taken you forty-nine years, but you're finally learning!"
"I hope so, Little Father," Mahalan said, "for all our sakes, I hope so!"
A/N: This is a long one, and covers lots of issues.
First of all the sword Dr. Mahalan uses is the traditional power focus of Finnish sorcerers. Also, he does not use Latin for his spells, but Saami, the language of Lapland. Saami uses sounds not normal in English, so my spellings are only approximate at best. The question of his sword, his spells, and relationship he has with the house elf Luonar will figure in upcoming chapters, and further explanations will be forthcoming.
Many people have remarked they find Albus somewhat maudlin and OOC in this fic. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that we are hearing his thoughts. Try going back and looking at what he actually says and does as opposed to what he thinks. We are also seeing him when Harry isn't there. Most students would be surprised (and horrified) to discover what their teachers are like when they aren't around. Finally remember that this fic so far covers less than a week. Sirius has been dead for only eleven days or so. Albus is only just beginning to come out of the initial emotional trauma in the last chapter.
The same goes for Remus and the rest of the characters. Some have remarked that everyone seems melodramatic (particularly considering that they are British). I don't want to get into a discussion about national character here (mostly I don't believe in it, anyway). But I will remind everyone that all of the emotional horror of OOTP is only eleven days in the past. Ask yourself, if you had been a participant/witness to all of that, how would you be doing eleven days out?
Some people have asked with regard to the Thrall laws how the Ministry would know about the prophecy. Good question. Remus wonders the same thing. Answers will be forthcoming.
Those of you from the challenge, I have not forgotten you. The plot has gotten intricate, but we will be getting to your locations.
This chapter finishes up Here be Monsters, Part One: Albus. Soon I will put up Here be Monsters, Part Two: Remus. That will begin with the chapter "Harry, Harry, Quite Contrary" and continue onward from where Part One left off. I've decided to leave Albus for a while because, as I said above, plot developments would be hard to follow if we remained with his POV for the near future. Don't worry, we will get back to the Headmaster.
In particular this will allow us to spend more time with Harry. The fact is that Albus is an extaordinarily busy and important man and, no matter how much he might love Harry, barring an emergency he can't put down his responsibilities to engage the boy deeply right now. Be warned however. As we discover exactly what has been done to Harry and what must be done to help him things will become extremely intense. Many people in this universe are... not nice. Harry has learned this, but some around him are about to be reminded of it through Harry's suffering.
The cavalry is on the way. It will be needed desperately by the time it arrives.