Foreshadowing the Past
"The real problem is what to do with the problem-solvers after the problems are solved." – Gay Talese
The days that followed the ordeal at the Ministry were a bit of a blur to Connor two weeks later. Professor McGonagall had been called back from Edinburgh after the children had gotten adequate food and rest in the hospital wing, and had sat in disbelieving silence as she listened to the tale of what had transpired in her absence. When Professor Lupin got to the part of the story where the children broke into her office and used her Floo to escape to the Ministry, her face had turned gray, and then red. She might have stopped the account then and there to mete out a punishment, if it hadn't been for the fact that there was obviously much more of the story to be told yet. By the end of it all, she simply sat staring at the students and their parents for a moment, before saying anything.
"I don't think that I have heard of anything quite like this in all of the time that I have been Headmistress of this school," she said. "I think that it goes without saying that you were all very, very lucky to have escaped this entire escapade without serious harm or injury! Mr. Potter's precognitive abilities aside, it was an incredibly foolish thing to do! When I think of all of the things that could possibly have gone wrong, I...."
Professor McGonagall's scolding was interrupted just then, by a flash of red and gold fire in the center of the office, directly over Connor's head. Everyone cried out in alarm for a moment, until they noticed that a rolled parchment had fallen into Connor's lap bearing a red wax seal that bore the image of a phoenix on it.
"Fawkes," Harry said with a chuckle. "It must be a message from Dumbledore."
Connor nodded, still breathing heavily from the shock of having a Phoenix deliver him a message in such a spectacular way. He was about to break the seal to see what the letter said, when a large owl soared into the room through a small window and landed on a perch beside Professor McGonagall's desk.
"That's a Ministry owl," Draco Malfoy said knowledgably.
Professor McGonagall deftly untied the envelope bearing the Ministry seal from the owl's leg, and pulled a sheet of creamy parchment from it. Her eyes scanned the letter while they all waited in silence, and then she read the letter once more. While she was reading, Connor took the opportunity to open his own letter. It was very short, but made him smile just the same.
Not quite the way I would have suggested going about it, but well done.
"Very well," Professor McGonagall said cryptically when she finished reading and lay the letter face down on her desk. She looked at the open parchment from Dumbledore, and asked, "Did you have something to share with the rest of us Connor?"
"Oh!" he said, blushing slightly and shrugging. "Not really."
Connor relinquished the letter when his mother plucked it from his fingers and looked over the brief message. She smiled slightly and passed it to his father, who chuckled. He passed the note on to the Headmistress, who scowled slightly before setting it down as well.
"It seems that you children have managed to impress quite a few important people in the past two days," she said. "I have here a letter from none other than the Minister of Magic herself, who has written to me on behalf of Mrs. Samantha Tillman. Mrs. Tillman wanted to convey her deepest and most heartfelt thanks to my students for their miraculous appearance and subsequent rescue at the Ministry, and she asks that I take your altruism into account before dealing out too hard a punishment upon you all. Although Albus Dumbledore hasn't said as much in words, he too, seems to feel that leniency is called for under the circumstances."
The children all held their breaths, afraid to hope that they would escape the worst.
"I think therefore, that while perhaps you don't deserve a very harsh punishment, I must impress upon each of you the seriousness of your actions in breaking into two locked offices, roaming the school past curfew, and leaving school grounds without permission. Not to mention the hexing of one student, and the intentional drugging of another!" She said firmly. "You will each lose twenty-five points from Gryffindor House, and you will all serve a week's worth of detentions with Professor Lupin."
Most of the adults flinched at the loss of points for Gryffindor, and Harry, Neville and Hermione knew especially how hard the next few weeks could be for the five of them, having similarly lost a large number of combined points in their first year at Hogwarts. Unfortunately for the current students, it was doubtful that they would have the opportunity to make up those points in the next two and a half months left in the school year. To their credit, the children all nodded meekly, and accepted their punishments without argument. Connor was doubly relieved, because Professor Lupin could have made it known at any time that the kids all had access to the Marauder's Map, but he had remained silent.
Connor's discussion with his parents afterward was not as bad as he had expected, owing partly to the fact that they could understand his reasoning in not confiding in an adult, and partly because they were so happy he was safe. Connor bid them goodbye after they had made it understood that he would spend a good portion of his summer working for his father and uncle. His father said that they would see if working him to exhaustion might help to keep any other dreams at bay, but Connor wasn't terribly worried; he liked helping his father.
Rachel's parents were similarly sympathetic, mostly because her father thought that she had shown true Gryffindor bravery, and her mother had been impressed with the advanced spellwork and research that had gone into it. While they didn't condone sneaking out of school, they were at least proud of the fact that she had done her best to make sure that they were all being as sage as possible while breaking the law. She, too, was assured extra work once school let out for the summer holiday.
Ivy's parents were a little more shaken up by her involvement in their adventure. Her mother kept hugging her repeatedly, while her father continually asked her if she was sure that she was okay. In their relief, they didn't seem inclined to dole out any further punishment than the headmistress had already done.
Quentin's parents, on the other hand, were not so forgiving. Having to deal with Vanessa's disciplinary problems twice this year, and now being called to the school because Quentin was in trouble, seemed to have taken its toll. The shouting that could be heard from Professor Lupin's office only subsided when the Professor himself interrupted and intervened. Connor had been in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with his own parents at the time, and had sat there with wide eyes until the shouting died down. Lupin had gone to mediate, but Connor wasn't reassured. With a trembling hand, Connor had grasped at his father's robe and pleaded with him. "It wasn't Quentin's fault! Don't let him get in trouble because of me!"
Connor didn't know what his father had said, but he had gone and gently knocked on the office door, and gone inside for what seemed an hour. When he had emerged, Quentin looked sober and red-eyed, as did his parents, but when it came time for them to leave, they hugged him hard, and Connor could have sworn her heard Mr. Malfoy say, "I'm proud of you." The biggest comfort had been seeing the fathers shaking hands sincerely before they parted.
Zack had spent the better part of three hours after the meeting with McGonagall composing a letter to his parents under the supervision of Professor Lupin, who added a letter of his own and sent it off with Zack's owl Godric. Godric had returned the next day bearing a thick letter from Mr. and Mrs. Ellis. Connor watched Zack reading it over breakfast, and by the blush rising into his face, he was sure that if his friend's parents had been magical, the letter would have been a Howler. When they had asked him how his parents had taken the news, he had said that he had a feeling he wouldn't be straying far from home over the summer, but that he didn't think that they were angry enough to prevent him from returning in the fall.
The weeks' worth of detentions ended up being a blessing in disguise after the other Gryffindors learned of the dramatic loss of points. Having hexed Victoria and disappearing overnight had left their housemates in no doubt as to how those points had been lost, and not being able to explain their actions meant that there would be no sympathy forthcoming. It was a relief to be able to escape the nasty comments and harsh glares of the other Gryffindors for three hours each night for a week, even if it did involve all sorts of unpleasant chores. Vanessa had shown up at their first night of detention, and they had braced for trouble, or at least a load of snide remarks, but they never came. To all of their shock, she simply ignored everyone but Quentin, and gave him a brief hug and said, "I'm glad you're okay...Leo." She left without another word.
Much to their relief, Ivy, Quentin and Connor were not disallowed Quidditch, and though the other players attitudes were cool toward them, they didn't lose their places on the team. Beating Ravenclaw soundly three weeks later did a lot toward thawing the other's attitudes toward them, and winning the Quidditch Cup did the rest, by restoring most of the lost points. They may not win the House Cup, but they would not be totally humiliated in the points standing, either.
Andrew Tillman, of course learned all about his grandmother's rescue from the accidental limbo she had been trapped in. He had been called into Professor McGonagall's office with Professor Lupin, and was told the entire story. From there, he had been taken home for the weekend, and had returned preoccupied and slightly confused. He had stiltedly thanked Connor for his part in returning his grandmother to his family, and told him there were no hard feelings over the sleeping draught. Connor thought that maybe it would take some time for Andrew to really realize the enormity of the changes coming into his life. He wanted to ask about all of the things that Mrs. Tillman had talked about; whether or not her husband was still alive and how his father was handling having her back. He kept his questions to himself, figuring that he would find out through the Daily Prophet soon enough.
The Daily Prophet did, indeed, have a field day with the return of Samantha Tillman. Connor suspected that much of the excitement over her reappearance had to do with the mystery that surrounded it. There were vague rumors that a group of children had been involved, and that war hero Harry Potter had been spotted at the scene, along with several of his close friends and family members. Unfortunately for the eager readers of the paper, the only statement that Mr. Potter would make was that he was delighted that Mrs. Tillman was back home with her family, and that he had no further comment to make regarding his rumored involvement. The articles had generated a lot interest among the student, and Andrew was in the spotlight for a few days, but didn't say much about it; he had never known his grandmother, and his father had suffered terribly over her absence. It would just take time.
The news articles also sparked questions in some of the students, especially in Gryffindor House. The reappearance of a woman long thought dead on the same night that five students had been missing from school was suspicious to many of them. Added to that was the fact the one of those missing students had precognitive abilities, and that his own father had been rumored to have played a role in it all. Very suspicious, without a doubt, but none of the five students would say where they had been or if they had been involved one way or the other.
The oddest thing of all for Connor was that after the events at the Department of Mysteries, his precognitive abilities seemed to have been magnified. He had no more predictive dreams of any kind, but his daily life was peppered with simple clairvoyant images in abundance. Everything from knowing that someone had unscrewed the lid to the salt shaker at dinner, or knowing that Aiden would trip over his untied shoelace, to predicting that Professor Flitwick would decide to stay on and teach for one more year. Connor took it in stride, and worked hard to not let it distract him too much. He dutifully wrote home to report the increased frequency of incidents, but for the most part kept his mouth shut about them, unless he thought it might be detrimental not to issue a warning.
His parents wrote back to say that they had asked Madam MacTaggart and Dumbledore about it. Both of them seemed to think that fulfilling the quest to free Mrs. Tillman may have unlocked a dormant part of Connor's abilities, and that perhaps he might be well served to be trained in Occlumency after all, in an effort to block them out when it became a distraction. They promised (much to Connor's chagrin) to look into a private tutor for him for the summer holidays to help him master the technique as much as possible before next term.
The rest of the school term went by in a blur. N.E.W.T.s and O.W.L.s were held, and all of the other grades had their normal end of year exams. Before any of them were quite ready for it, they were packing their trunks. Zack was dreading going home, as he was sure that his parents would not have forgotten the letter they had gotten censuring his behavior at the beginning of April. Quentin was dreading being cooped up with Vanessa, who, after her initial display of affection toward her brother, had gone back to her usual sneers and rude comments to all of the Gryffindors.
On the train ride home from Hogwarts, Aiden shared their compartment with them, making it impossible for them to talk freely about exactly why their summer would be so miserable. Instead they played exploding snap and dared to hope that by the end of the holiday, their parents might have cooled off enough to let them get together for a few day before meeting again on September first. Zack was pretty sure that he would not be allowed, and Quentin seemed to feel the same way.
When they alighted at King's Cross, they found their parents all standing together in deep discussion, but they quit talking when they spotted their children. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis hugged their son, and didn't seem as stiff as Connor had expected them to be. He shook their hands and was as polite as he could be in the hopes that they would be more inclined to trust their son to visit Potter Headquarter later in the summer.
"It's nice to meet you," Mrs. Ellis said warmly to all of the friends. "Zack has told us a lot about all of you. I'm glad that he has such loyal companions at school. Mr. Potter has been in touch with us over the past few weeks, and explained certain things about Connor and your little... escapade in April. He assured me that your motives were earnest and that nothing like this would happen again."
The children all nodded in agreement.
"In that case, I think that it wouldn't be a problem for Zack to accept the invitation to spend the last week of August at the Potters with the rest of you."
It took a moment for what she had just said to really sink in, but Zack was grinning from ear to ear. Connor turned to look at his parents for confirmation, and found them grinning back at him.
"Ivy's parents and Quentin's parents have already agreed," Mrs. Potter said. It went without saying that Rachel would come as well. "Provided you can all stay out of trouble until then."
The children agreed that they would do their best, and then it was time to say their good-byes. With promises to owl each other often, they walked away with their parents, glad to have something to look forward to at the end of the summer, when they could meet again to plan more adventures for the coming year.
A/N - Well there tou have it!! What did you think? Did it meet your expetations? I hope so! I want to thank everyone who revied the whole what through and leant their support to my efforts. I will ask that all of you lurkers out there take a minute to review - even if it's only one word, to let me know that you've been reading. I take anonymous and unsigned reviews, and it really only takes a minute!!
For those of you who have asked if I'll continue on with Connor and company, I can answer you with a definite maybe. Probably. I'm actually working on an outline for their third year right now to see if it all works out, but it's looking good so far, so stay tuned. If it gels for me, I may start writing it in the next few weeks.
Once again, thanks to everyone who read this. I hope you enjoyed it enough to check out my other stuff (hint! hint!)