Disclaimer: All things Harry Potter belong to J.K Rowling. I don't own any of this and as much as I love reading HP, wouldn't want to be in charge of writing the real thing!
Professor Dumbledore leaned back in his chair which had walked behind his desk and pondered the enigma of the three dimension travelers.
They were who they said they were. They were trustworthy. The castle liked them. And their early school years had proven very quickly their strong magical aptitudes and bravery. However, that was where his knowledge really ended of them. He knew nothing of how skilled they were – how much was luck and determination rather than pure magical prowess - and, to his shock, he realized he also knew very little of their lives after their fourth year.
It had taken him all this time, over 2 hours, to discover that they had successfully routed entirely the question on the end of the war other than many people died and Voldemort was dead through a great deal of effort. And they never said how much they were involved in the battles either. Granted it was still a sore topic probably, but something didn't feel right. Some things just didn't add up. It wasn't a bad fishy feeling necessarily. Just…fishy.
They had been too cautious. Their answers, or rather Hermione's for the most part, too perfect. Her storytelling technique had been incredible, and every word true as the spell on the contract had necessitated. However, Dumbledore had the sneaking suspicion that that had been her, their, intent all along. To tell such a good story that it would distract them from the all-important details evaded and omitted. All in all he was impressed. He hadn't been hoodwinked so well in many years and right under Mad Eye Moody's nose as well.
'Yes, Ron's answer to the final question was positively word-perfect me-ish.' Dumbledore decided. At the thought his eyes lit up with amusement.
'This could turn out to be the most exciting year yet.' He thought with relish before the glint turned into a pout.
'However, I have decided I most definitely don't like being hoodwinked.'
What made it even worse was he didn't know why they had hoodwinked him or any idea as to what it involved. Oh well. Mysteries were always fun.
It hadn't been only their story that had tipped him off either. It had been their medical records. He was entirely convinced that the tales and their roles in the stories and war had been highly edited, even with all the shocking news. The previous evening he had been sitting here having a late night tea when Poppy had floo-called him in a right huff.
"I thought you had decided to start their medical history just as I left. Did some emergency arise? What happened?" Albus said concernedly with a frown. If something of such importance to interrupt a visit with three other patients for this long had occurred the castle should have notified him.
"Nothing happened, other than those three being the most accident or injury prone younglings I have ever seen in my entire career." She said in an all-too-quiet voice. She looked slightly peeved and indignant about something
"I did start their medical histories just after you departed. I just finished. I've been working for at least SEVER HOURS STRAIGHT ON THEM. Between them they have had more hospital visits than the ENTIRE BODY of the FIRST SEVEN YEARS at Hogwarts put TOGETHER! And many of those were for more than one night. It took Harry 20 minutes to count all of his hospital visits."
Oh dear. I think she passed slightly peeved a good while ago and skipped right on over to the 'righteous wrath of a medic on a mission.'
Escape plan A? Negative. Impossible. I'm already in my office and it is 11:30 at night so I doubt anyone from the Ministry would be up for much of a long chat about business.
Escape plan B? Negative. Once again, its 11:30 at night
Escape plan C? Negative. She'd dose my tea with Veritaserum and something similar to the Imperius to get a good medical in on me and her way about the newcomers.
Escape plan …..
….X? Negative. It doesn't exist. I haven't come up with a new one since she discovered my last one.
Any other ideas? Hmmph. What's the use of being one of the most powerful wizards on the planet if you can't escape your own school's medi-witch?
Oh well. Guess I'll have to fall back on twinkling, listening, and the old 'defuse and dismiss policy'. Although it could take a while in this case…
"Well, why don't you pop in and talk to me about it Poppy. It sounds very interesting. Lemon Drop?"
Yes. The extent of their past visits to the infirmary, although Poppy couldn't tell him the exact numbers due to patient-healer privileges (those wouldn't be relevant if they were students, but they weren't…yet), was enough to make him think they had had a much more active hand in everything. Either that or they were the world's most accident prone people, along with being the luckiest, most trouble-attracting, and Merlin knows what else beings on the planet.
And how could he forget the trigger-happy shock response incidents. Yes incidents as in plural. The first time he had taken it as paranoia over jumping dimensions and all, but the second time he realized it was just their normal responses to people barging in. Poor Severus. He just didn't have much luck recently with entering places. And he was afraid that Harry, Hermione, and Ron had gotten off on the wrong foot with their Potions Professor. Severus really knew how to hold a grudge, especially when it came to pranks, and this prank, intended or not, was a doozy.
Dumbledore was just saying his closing remarks. "Well its getting late and I'm sure you all need to get home or, if you want, to have some private discussion time, so I'll see you all tomorrow around the same time to discuss how we are going to handle the situation in terms of what to tell the public, the school, teachers, family, etc. We also need to discuss measures of how you three are to settle in here, such as who to stay with, what classes to take, and so on. So…."
However, he never got to finish. He really had to do something about that. The castle was getting too much of a kick out of surprising him and he seemed be perpetually interrupted. Oh well. There was another problem at hand.
For the second time in the office the three had been too distracted and too comfortable to notice the approach of another party and hadn't had the chance to identify it.
However, in war, when in doubt attack first, neutralize, and then question.
So they did.
Reacting, barely thinking, all three teens and Alastor fired curses off the moment the unknown person came into their line of fire. When the spell melee was over they all could see a one Professor Severus Snape with his tongue wrapped around his ankles and tied into a knot, his eyelashes tied in a bow, and his skin red and yellow striped (a rather fortunate side effect of the 'tongue twister' spell. His body was encased in a rather stunning sarcophagus bound to the wall with what looked like very strong spider web, and his wand was in Moody's possession.
Before anyone could comment Harry, Ron and Hermione shared a single look made an excuse of having to hurry back to the infirmary for another check-up so, gave their belated regards to the incapacitated Potions Master and dashed out.
Several seconds later Molly and Lily were chasing after them on a anti-prank rampage, screaming for their children and adopted children to get their 'other dimensional butts back there and fix the poor man of they'd be grounded until they left Hogwarts on their internship. As he sensed the Gargoyle opening Severus returned to normal, aside from a slight fury emanating from him.
Sirius, Charlie, and James were still laughing themselves silly, but ceased trying to conjure up a camera while avoiding the reprimanding slaps and glares aimed at them by Minerva. Aurora seemed to be trying to take notes, which she quickly hid upon Severus's return to freedom. The Aurors and Unspeakable seemed to be trying, rather unsuccessfully to suppress their mirth. Alastor, as expected, was simply nodding approvingly, trying to lecture the youngsters on proper behavior.
"It's good to see some youth today know how to properly respond in situations. Constant Vigilance! Fine Aurors they would make. Hope they choose that as one of their career options. You would do well to follow their example, even if you should be the ones making the example. Remember. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" (Moody)
Meanwhile…"Who did that?" growled Snape in a deadly quiet voice.
"Did what my dear Severus? I assume you had something to talk to me about though? Is that what you are referring to?" Dumbledore easily dissembled with a twinkle.
"Don't you twinkle at me Albus. Who did…"erratically waving his arm towards where he had been bound, "THAT?" Practically jumping up and down in place like a little boy having a temper tantrum
"I'm afraid I don't know what you are talking about dear boy, although I did have a moment of temporary blindness a few seconds ago…" Oh how he loved flustering Severus…or in this case teasing after the flustering had been done. He had just gone into his 'pout and sulk' stage too.
Turning towards all of the remaining guests in his office that were slowly attempting to creep towards the door. "See you all at 10 tomorrow. Have a nice evening! Now Severus…"
Yes. Severus would not be happy at all once he discovered he had to teach the three newcomers. Granted he himself, the Great Albus Dumbledore probably shouldn't have provoked him even farther, but it was just so much fun!! And Severus would be even more enraged if he ever found out that Harry was James's son.
Rolling his eyes at the images of what would arise from that conversation he thought. 'Those two are so childish sometimes. The Minister of Magic of Britain and the foremost expert, not to mention the youngest, in the entire western hemisphere and if you put them in the same room you couldn't get even a single civil word out of the two. It had been a long time since any pranks on either side, which had been swiftly punished and retaliated against when they had been in school, and they had both saved each other's lives more than once, but they still were worse than a cat and a mouse in a cage.
The most amusing thing was they both loved Lily to death, one as a wife and one as a kind of surrogate sister. How she put up with it he would never know. Granted, with that temper of hers that he had tasted today maybe she forced them into civility when around her. Merlin knew she could probably stop a herd of raging hippogryffs with that glare.
'However, that is a matter to ponder and shudder on another day' he reminded himself sternly. His tendency to wander in his thoughts did get him into a few spots occasionally. Right now he had other fish to fry.
Like Harry, Hermione and Ron. They had seemed to know and like Fawkes rather well. Not only that, but the feeling seemed to be mutual. The dratted bird, as much as he loved it, had not been very forthcoming with information.
It was about a week after Harry, Hermione and Ron had essentially shown up on their doorstep. After a nice visit to the kitchens with some of his more than human friends, Albus returned to his office to find a lovely sleeping bird that had previously proved very elusive.
"Ah Fawkes, wonderful. I've been meaning to talk to you." Albus said in a tone that brooked no argument and indicated the bird knew very well what he wanted to talk to him about.
The frustrating painted rooster, as he was partial to calling him when annoyed, simply open one eye, rolled it in a very human fashion that plainly said 'well duh', then clicked his talons on the perch once before closing his eye to go back to sleep.
"I meant now." Albus prodded
Fawkes ruffled his feathers in his version of a sigh and trilled out a slight grumble. Straightening up in one fluid motion he opened his eyes and cocked his head, indicating he was willing to participate in the conversation now.
"Wonderful." Albus said clapping his hands, floating his chair up a bit so he was at eye level
"Now, have you ever met Harry, Hermione and Ron before?"
Fawkes didn't answer, merely clicked his talons a bit on the wood of his perch. Ah, of course.
"Have you ever met these versions of Harry, Hermione, and Ron before?"
That was met with two sharp trills. A no.
"And yet you trust them?"
A low floating note. Yes.
"Implicitly?" Albus prodded with a great deal of surprise. Phoenix in general, and this one particularly, were very stingy and finicky in doling out their favor to mortals, and true trust from a phoenix was rare. They would tolerate many, respect those who deserved it, but outside of the inner circle of the Order, which numbered 12, Albus could count on one hand the number of people Fawkes trusted.
And still calm yes followed.
"Why?" Albus asked carefully, prodding his bond with his familiar, asking to initiate 'image-speak,' the only real way to get an answer to the question.
However, for one of the first times in a very long time, since he asked to see how it felt to die actually, he was denied. In the bird's eyes he only saw flames.
Fixing the bird with a firm stare he normally reserved for unruly students and asked again. "Why should I trust them then?"
What the bird did next made him drop down to earth again. Literally.
Fawkes trilled a high note filled with magic that cancelled his spell quite abruptly. Before he could regain his wits Fawkes was hovering in front of him, fixed him with a picture perfect imitation of the stare he had fixed on the bird moments ago. The bird opened their bond briefly, just enough to send through a series of images that could only be interpreted as "Because I said so, or else." Then he closed the bond and with a flip of his tail he returned to his perch and promptly settled in for a nap.
"Well, fine. If that's how you want to be you overgrown chicken." Dumbledore grumbled as he stomped his chair back to his desk, only to get a scorched bottom for his trouble.
He had left his office after that, and spent the rest of the afternoon mumbling about obnoxious, insolent familiars who had too much attitude and control over magic thanks to their bond to go with it.
Yes, that confrontation had not gone anywhere near as planned. But he did know he could trust the three travelers, at least as far as ethics and intentions went. One could never fully trust actions.
Strangely enough that hadn't been the only attempted meeting to go astray. He had tried to have a similar chat with Hogwarts just a day after his unsuccessful grilling of Fawkes.
Granted Hogwarts didn't really talk. It was more a feeling based relationship, but in the right state the bond could convey a lot. However, after being welcomed, all he could get out of Hogwarts on Harry, Hermione, and Ron was that she liked them a great deal. In fact, if he was interpreting the message right, she though of them as her children. Not like she thought of all the rest of her inhabitants as her children. A fondness of a teacher or caretaker. No. She thought of the new Harry, Hermione, and Ron as true children of the castle. As kin. A mother and her babies.
But once again he couldn't get anymore than the fact that she loved and trusted them out of his source. Well, that and it had been she who had let them into his office the first night. He couldn't even get their location after he prodded a little too much. Bloody bag of antiquated stones.
He'd made the mistake of thinking that choice phrase while he was still in rapture with her and had forgotten the first rule of dealing with women. 'Never make comments about their age.' He'd paid for that by getting dropped in the dungeons in an unending maze of corridors for a good 4 hours before she decided to make a door to let him out.
What was the point of being one of the most powerful wizards of the age if a mothering medi-witch, a colorful rooster, three teens not even a tenth of his age, and a rather large, beautiful, decadent, rather old (yet looking as if she wasn't a day over 3000), castle made of a pile of stones could get the best of him without batting an eyelash? (Couldn't hurt to be careful.)
Not only had he been outsmarted, but he was completely baffled as well. Their auras had somehow changed over the last two weeks, and it needed more evaluation to tell whether or not it was simply from the regeneration of their magical reservoirs or something entirely different, since after they had been placed in the hospital wing a shield of Ron's creation had been erected preventing any readings or approach. The shield itself had been quite impressive, not to mention what must have been a location-sensitive trigger as they were all unconscious upon delivery and during it in fact.
So they were frequently in a position to get injured, and did (get injured that is). They were hair triggered. They had been trained and involved in the war, but to what extent was unknown. They were friends with, and protected by, Fawkes. Their auras had been altered since their last meeting. They were powerful, but how powerful was unknown. The castle trusted them and had let them in when they had first arrived, solving that mystery at least. Oh my. What a brain-full.
Life just isn't fair.
&&&&&&&&&In the Infirmary&&&&&&&
$Can we leave the 'getting to know the portraits stage till later Harry? $ Hermione moaned. $I know hopping around between portraits is fun, but really! Come out of there right now. $
$Of course mother.$ Harry said with a little pout, popping out of the nearest portrait. It was his favorite trick and it annoyed Hermione to no end.
$Well, I for one would like to get to somewhere where we can at least use a lumos without worrying about someone seeing us. Hermione might be part cat and you...well you just break all the rules, but I am not a mutant and am currently completely blind. Besides, if we don't make much more progress and do it quieter we'll be found.$ warned Ron knowingly.
Unfortunately, it was too late.
"MISTER POTTER!" screeched a loud voice from behind, bringing all three of them, invisible as they were to a halt, frozen in place.
Cautiously looking up, Harry saw a tell tale and very unwelcome emerald glow.
$Damn. Forgot the monitoring spell trap on the door. $ He grumbled, getting two defeated sighs in return.
$Why is it we always seem to forget that one?$ Hermione lamented half-heartedly as they all pivoted to face Poppy who happened to be standing on the top step, arms crossed, tapping her foot impatiently
Not that they always did, but considering Harry had been in the infirmary over 200 times and almost without exception had tried to make a break before he had been cleared it felt like they always forgot it. After all, 120 or so times is no shabby number.
$Because there is a 'notice me not' charm attached and its also linked to a forgetfulness hex$ Ron repeated dogmatically for what had to be the millionth time. Each time they got caught it was always the same routine. They all knew better, but there was also a certain fun in getting caught that left Hermione wonder if Ron just happened on purpose to 'not detect' the spell and Harry just pretended to 'not See' it. It had been kind of comforting to know that there was still one person not afraid to yell and scream and dress them down like little children when they were bad. At least one person who still saw them as the fallible, overly-stressed teen human beings they were.
"Mister Potter," continued the mediwitch in a now overly calm voice. "If you and you friends would please return to normal visibility and follow me it would be much...appreciated." She drawled the last word in a manner worthy of the most Snapish of drawls, eliciting an anticipatory wince from all three friends.
$Time to walk the plank$
They followed her silently back to their beds, where after she closed the curtains she erected some rather formidable silencing wards and then let loose her fury.
"Harry what on EARTH were you thinking. Of all the irresponsible, inconsiderate things. Not even a DAY after you awake and you think you can do everything. Teens these days..." She ranted as Harry put up the proper expected responses.
$Why is it always me she rants at? $ He deplored anyone listening
$Because, my dear Shadow-ash, you've been here so many times you really should know all the rules now...not that you don't. And anyways, you always put up the better show. You're so helpless everyone just wants to pinch those little cheeks and coddle you till you burst. $ Hermione taunted good naturedly
$Or puke. On the bright side, she called you Harry. I think your relationship is progressing nicely$ Ron picked up with a smirk.
$Yeah, yeah. That's what you always say, but somehow, it just doesn't seem to do it for me. Blah, blah blah, blah blah. Okay. Enough of this.$ (Harry)
"And I could get dizzy and fall down the stairs, or pass out in a deserted hallway," Harry continued with her, causing her to pause in shock at how he knew what she was going to say. He continued for her with gentle sarcasm, "or even, god forbid, be kidnapped by the boogie man." Smiling, "Yes, I know Poppy. I've heard it," he paused to count for a minute, "Oh never mind, but I've heard the speech over 200 times, so don't worry about it, I can do it myself a little later. How 'bout you just dose us with whatever poisons you see fit to feed us tonight and we'll got to bed like good little boys and girls hmm?" he finished with his best puppy dog face.
Unfortunately for him this Poppy, like the other one, had been working as a school healer for over 50 years with extensive contact with Albus Dumbledore and Sirius Black, not to mention his father and sister. No, that wouldn't work on her.
"Of all the. Now see here young man. I am the medi-witch here, and as such I know what's best for you. I most certainly..."
"Do not poison my patients, but nor do I allow them to run about like hooligans." chimed in all three of them this time, "and we obviously do not know how to take care of ourselves. Sneaking out of the infirmary, honestly. Blah blah blah. Next speech. As for our manners, proper respect dictates that we most definitely shouldn't be doing this and we'll probably get an earful for this too, but we've heard that speech, and probably whichever one your planning so much that we can, as you can see, know them all by heart. So, if you would, in your infinite wisdom and skills, bypass whatever other lovely speeches you might deem necessary, as we can do them ourselves just as well, and go straight to dosing us with what we need to pass your approval so we can sleep."
Poppy did an even better goldfish impression than Dumbledore did. Unfortunately for their amusement, she recovered much faster.
She narrowed her eyes in a glare, but the corners of her lips were twitching suspiciously and she looked dangerously mischievous. "Well, if that's how you want to do it, no pudding flavored potions for you, just the straight ones. Coming right up." She summoned the potions, watched with a smug satisfaction as they all gagged the potions down, and then, patted them all on the head like puppies before leaving them to sleep.
And did I forget to mention she spelled them into pajamas? Of the psychedelic variety and all playing the worst of the backstreet boys' hits.
Life just isn't fair.
&&&&&&&&&&&&Several hours before in the lobby&&&&&&&&&&&&&
"Oooo those boys are going to get it, and Hermione as well if I have anything to say about it." huffed a rather ticked off Molly Weasley as she descended the last step into the Entrance Hall.
"The nerve!" squawked an equally outraged Lily Potter, just a step behind. "I can't believe they were in Gryffindor. Honestly! Hiding behind Poppy and the infirmary. That's a new low even my kids and husband haven't reached yet! To think of it, I don't think even Sirius has tried that one. Hiding, yes. Using Poppy's fussiness to get out of a good downsizing? Never."
"Yes, well unless I'm mistaken, none of our dear bothersome troublemakers so to speak have gotten on a first name basis with Poppy either, at least not until they were graduated for a minimum of a good decade. Did you hear Harry with her? It was like they were old school chums and he's only been here 2 weeks, 13 days of which he was unconscious for!" Molly continued pacing and throwing her hands up in the air in helplessness.
Lily stopped dead in her tracks for a few seconds at that comment. "Yes. That is rather odd. Hermione and Ron did the same. What's more, Poppy responded in the same fashion. Hmm, just another explanation for tomorrow," she continued tracing her steps around the crest on the floor in thought, "And boy are they going to get it. Hexing a teacher like that! Hexing anyone without cause for that matter!"
"Definitely." agreed Molly. "What are we going to do with them though?" She asked, voicing a concern that had been running through both of their heads for at least a good hour. "I mean, they are ours, or almost ours...but they're not. I mean, Ron's still here. This is just a different one. A very different Ron. Harry is well....you know, and Hermione too. People actually knew Hermione. But she's different."
"Well I refuse to just abandon them" exclaimed Lily with feeling.
"Of course." replied Molly immediately, as if shocked that Lily would even suggest a thing.
Lily whipped out her wand and conjured two plush chairs in the center of the entrance and sank into one with a sigh. "But how do we deal with them? What do we tell the kids, other than Ra of course since she already knows? And what do we do with those husbands of ours, especially mine. He doesn't seem to like them at all. And yours had some naughty little secrets." she finally finished with a gasp of defeated air.
"Exactly." Molly said sinking into her own chair. "What do we do...?"
Now every man ever born knows that when two women set their minds to something and get together to plot there is not much that can stand in their way. But when two witches get together, especially two witches that have raised, married and pranked with some of the greatest tricksters Hogwarts has ever seen, you had better watch out because its down-right scarier than the Apocalypse and can be a whole lot more destructive.
And men and wizards everywhere, from the day humankind came into creation until the day it ends, moan and groan about their women, and how "Life just isn't fair."
Keep reading for reviews responses, etc (note: if this just got posted it might take a few minutes/ hours for the next one – I'm trying to find it)