That's right, everyone! I talked about it and now here it is, the second book in the Guardian of Azkaban series, telling the story of Esdras Demnin in his second year at Hogwarts as a fifth year student. For those of you not familiar with my work, I request that you read the first Guardian of Azkaban story; it'll give you all the background you need. While you're there, review it, too.
Remember, like the HP books themselves, if you start in the middle, you're going to be confused about a few things… And a last word of warning, text in italics is spoken Azkabaaner, the native language of Dementors, and I don't own HP.
All that said, I proudly present to you…
The Guardian of Azkaban
Book 2: Trial of the Guardian
Chapter 1 – Let the Games Begin
Life for a Dementor of Azkaban could be considered anything except relaxing, yet Admiral Esdras Demnin of the Azkaban Guard was having the time of his life. This is because the three hundred thirteen year old Esdras, while not the only Dementor animagus, was the only Dementor animagus capable of taking human form. It was this special ability which led the then captain of the Azkaban Guard to be stationed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during the hunt for Sirius Black the year before.
The Dementor had made the most of his time during his assignment. He had blended in with the students, even after the revelation of his true nature, and helped to change their opinions of his kind. He played Quidditch as one of the Ravenclaw team beaters, and had even gained a romance with the beautiful Katie Bell, a chaser on the Gryffindor team. He was a soldier and a student, and his hard work had gained him an invitation to return for another year at the school and a promotion to the rank of rear admiral, complete with his own fleet command, charged with the continual protection of the school that held his friends from Sirius Black.
For now, the hunt was on hiatus. In the eyes of Azkaban, this was temporary, since school was not in session and military divisions had yet to be assigned into the Fourth Fleet. However, in the eyes of those in the know, the hunt was permanently suspended, as members of Esdras' infantry division knew that Sirius Black was in fact innocent of his crimes, and had, the previous year, helped him escape a horrible fate.
To this end, the Dementor was blending in with the mortal Muggle crowds outside a pub in Edinburgh. Standing at just over six feet tall, with dusty blonde hair and glowing green eyes hidden behind sunglasses, he currently looked every part the tourist. He was even dressed for the part, wearing a pair of faded jeans and a black t-shirt which had been charmed, like all his mortal clothing and cloaks, to inhibit his powers. Beside him stood Cho Chang, the seeker of his house Quidditch team, they were enjoying the evening after having spent the day seeing the sights.
Cho smiled as they began to walk down the street. "So, what do you think of my hometown?"
The Dementor smirked. "Most Dementors don't think too kindly of Edinburgh since the treaty was signed here. But it's a nice little city." His eyes traced across the skyline to the imposing form of Edinburgh Castle. "A nice little city with impressive fortifications."
The girl slipped a hand into his arm and laughed, leaning against him as they walked. "You get used to it. It's just part of the skyline."
The lights surrounding the citadel had come on, illuminating the ancient fortification as the evening light continued to fade. The Dementor took off his sunglasses and stared at it with wide glowing eyes. "Now that looks very impressive."
They continued walking for a few more minutes, taking in some of the shops that were still open. They turned down a poorly lit alley, which would lead them to a magical pub with a Floo connection for Cho to take home. "Will you be going back to Azkaban tonight?"
The Dementor shook his head. "No, I'll be Apparating over to Katie's and spending the night there. Then I have business with the Ministry in London." He shrugged slightly. "Headmaster Dumbledore himself summoned me and didn't go into much detail about it."
Cho nodded and pulled out her wand, tapping the correct brick and revealing the door to The Rusty Goblet, a moderately upscale wizarding pub hidden in the New Town district of Edinburgh. They entered and moved towards the fireplace. "Well, join me for a butterbeer before you go?"
Esdras shook his head slowly. "I'd love to, but I really ought to get over to Katie's so I can spend some time with her, too." He smiled and pulled her into a tight hug. "But I had a lovely day. Thank you for inviting me."
The mortal returned the hug and smiled. "I'm glad you were able to make it out. I'll talk to you again before school starts." She took a handful of Floo powder from the pot atop the mantle and looked back over her shoulder to the Dementor. "Take care of yourself. We're going to win the quidditch cup this year."
The Dementor grinned and nodded. His friend tossed the powder into the fire, stepped into the green flames, and was spun away home in a wink. Esdras didn't linger, and stepped back out into the gathering night. He drew his wand and Apparated with a quiet double popping sound across Scotland to a small house near Kilmarnock. The lights were on inside and a single person was waiting in the darkness on the steps. When he opened the gate and floated towards the house, the form stood up and almost ran down the path to meet him.
In the late twilight, Katie Bell ran and jumped into the arms of Esdras Demnin. No words were spoken as their lips met in the darkness. When finally they pulled away, they were both slightly flushed and out of breath. Warm brown eyes gazed into his glowing green eyes, her smile lit up the night and her voice was a soft, breathless whisper. "Hi."
The next morning dawned clear and warm. Esdras awoke from his comfortable bed in the guest bedroom of Bellmont, the home of the Bell family. Today was rather important. He would be going to the Ministry of Magic and representing Azkaban. While this wouldn't be his first official duty as admiral of the Fourth Fleet, to date it would be his most evident. As a result, it was in his best interest to look his best. He wore a finely tailored black suit which Cho had helped him pick out the day before. All told, he thought he looked very sharp.
As he floated down the stairs with his cloak in hand, he heard a wolf whistle coming from the living room. Stepping into the room, Katie virtually pounced upon him. "I could get used to this side of you, Admiral Demnin."
Esdras laughed brightly and effortlessly floated with her into the dining room. "Well, I'm going to be meeting with ministry officials. I have to represent Azkaban as best I can when I'm in mortal and Dementor form. A simple meeting really doesn't call for the dress uniform, so I hope this works."
Elizabeth Bell, the matriarch of the Bell family smiled and handed him a cup of tea as the young couple sat down at the table. "It certainly does work. You look very professional. Do you know anything about the meeting?"
The Dementor shrugged and began to work on a plate of eggs. "No, ma'am, I was only told to meet Headmaster Dumbledore in the atrium of the Ministry at nine o'clock. He was very secretive about the whole thing and told me that I would be told everything I needed to know at the meeting. But I figured that if the meeting is at the Ministry, I'll probably be representing the Guard Command, hence the nice mortal suit and uniform cloak."
Katie smiled proudly and spoke in the harsh whispers of Azkaban. "You look very impressive, my darling. You'll make a wonderful impression on whomever you meet."
Finishing his breakfast and rising from the table, he smiled softly. "Thank you, dear."
Eric Bell, Katie's elder brother, looked at the pair with disinterest. "I wish you two would quit doing that. Some of us here don't quite understand Azkabaaner, you know."
Katie smirked and stuck her tongue out at her brother. "Of course, that's why I do it."
Esdras finished clasping his cloak and straightened out the single silver crescent moons that denoted his rank and rested on his shoulders. He shrugged, but his eyes were playful. "I'll speak in whatever language I'm spoken to in. English, Azkabaaner, after a couple decades they're all the same." Giving his cloak one last brush down, he squared his shoulders. "Well, I'm off to the Ministry."
Katie got up and followed him to the door. "Will you be spending tonight here as well?"
The Dementor sighed. "I don't know yet. Regardless, I'll come back here this evening but I may not be able to stay for long. I have a planning meeting back on Azkaban to discuss the configuration of my fleet before the school year starts and Admiral Grim wants to get that done quickly so the divisions can have time to prepare for their assignments. I'll most likely put in a Floo call during the day and see when he wants to have that done."
She nodded in reply as they stepped out onto the front porch. Esdras spun on his heels and leaned in to kiss her. They were slow to break away and when they finally did, she had a playful smile on her face. "Have a good day at work, darling."
Esdras prepared to Apparate and paused. "Hey, meet me at the Leaky Cauldron for lunch. I want to spend as much time with you as possible."
Katie nodded as he floated off the porch and Disapparated with a smile and a soft double pop.
Apparating into the atrium of the Ministry of Magic, Esdras Demnin unconsciously straightened his cloak again and looked around for Albus Dumbledore. Sure enough, the form of the wizened wizard was standing by the Fountain of Magical Brethren that dominated the space, looking calmly into the glassy water. The Dementor lifted up and floated towards him. "Good morning, Headmaster."
Dumbledore turned and smiled brightly at the floating form. "Good morning, Admiral Demnin. I trust you had a pleasant trip in?"
The Dementor nodded happily. "Yes, sir. I spent the night last night at Katie's. Her parents were nice enough to put me up in their guest room."
They had been walking towards the check in station, and their conversation paused as Dumbledore had his wand weighed. Esdras simply flashed his Azkaban Guard badge and they were through. As they waited for the elevator, the headmaster continued. "How is Miss Bell?"
The Dementor smiled happily. "She's quite well, sir. It's good to see her. It's been a long month only exchanging letters."
The pair stepped into the elevator along with a mass of interoffice memos. The mortal wizard laughed softly as he pressed the button for level five. "The miracle of young love."
As the doors shut, Esdras leaned against the wall and regarded his headmaster. "You were very vague about the reason why I'm here. Care to clarify, sir?"
The wizard merely shook his head. "It will all be explained very soon. But I will say that something special is happening this year and I thought it best to include our Azkaban friends so that no one would be left out."
The Dementor nodded and they continued the ride in silence. When they reached their floor, Esdras walked beside Dumbledore as they wound their way through the Department of International Magical Cooperation. The headmaster led the Dementor to one of the many conference rooms and calmly entered. The room contained a single circular table around which a few wizards had already taken seats. They rose as the pair entered.
Dumbledore began with introductions, starting with the most familiar figure in the room. "I believe you already know Minister Cornelius Fudge." He continued to a very stuffy looking grey haired man and a redhead of obvious origins. "Representing the Department of International Magical Cooperation is Mister Bartemius Crouch, Senior and Mister Percy Weasley." The last individual was a tall, friendly looking man. "From the Department of Magical Games and Sports is Mister Ludo Bagman. Gentlemen, this is Admiral Esdras Demnin of the Azkaban Guard Command."
From his section of the round table, Crouch glared quietly at the new arrival. "Albus, I don't see the purpose in inviting a Dementor to this meeting. He has as little right to be here as his kind has to be hovering around Hogwarts."
Esdras arched his eyebrows slightly and shrugged, raising his hood and taking his Dementor form. His harsh voice was haunting in the small conference room. "I put my faith in Headmaster Dumbledore. If he believes I have reason to be here, then I have reason to be here."
Minister Fudge put his hands up, trying to placate the man. "Barty, please, we've been over this. The Dementors are stationed there for the student's protection, and if we're going to be holding this tournament, we'll need to keep them in the loop." He turned his attention to the pair. "Please help yourself to tea and pastries, and then find your seats at the table."
Esdras bowed politely and retook human form before moving to the refreshments table, taking a muffin and a cup of tea. He found his chair which was marked with a placard, "Adm. Esdras Demnin, Azkaban Guard Command." To his left, Dumbledore sat quietly, staring at one of the many paintings on the wall. To his right sat Percy Weasley, trying for all he was worth to pretend that Dementors didn't exist and that certainly if they did, one was not sitting beside him.
After a few moments, the door opened again. When Esdras looked up, he bolted into the air, hovering in midair a few feet off the ground. In the doorway stood a wizard and a witch, the wizard was familiar to Esdras but the witch invoked a very rare fear. Picking up on his discomfort, Dumbledore was quick with the introductions. "Madame Maxime, you've met everyone else here so may I present Admiral Esdras Demnin of the Azkaban Guard Command. Please forgive him. He is not used to dealing with people taller than he." He calmly addressed the floating form. "Esdras, Madame Olympe Maxime is the headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. And I believe I don't have to introduce headmaster Igor Karkaroff of the Durmstrang Institute."
The woman, who stood at a solid twelve feet, nodded her assent and carefully addressed the hovering form. "Bon jour, Amiral."
The Dementor remained hovering for a moment, calming himself and reminding himself that he was free to be taller. When his breathing had returned to normal, he took a ground level hover and his Dementor form. "Good morning, Headmistress. Good morning, prisoner mu lambda 442."
Everyone in the room paled, and Karkaroff turned white as a sheet at the mention of his Azkaban prisoner number. He tried his best to put a smile on his face, but his voice was still shaky. "Good morning, Admiral. Am I to take it then that this isn't our first encounter?"
Esdras rounded the table and offered a hand first to the Beauxbatons representative, then Karkaroff himself. "No, we have not met before. I am aware of you by reputation only."
The Durmstrang headmaster looked cautiously at him before taking his outstretched hand. Esdras returned to his mortal form as everyone took their seats. Ludo Bagman stood up and cleared his throat, indicating the meeting was about to begin. "I'd like to thank you all for coming here this morning and remind you all that this meeting is confidential. Since we have a new person joining us today, I thought I would begin with an overview of our objective." He turned to face the Dementor. "Put simply, Admiral Demnin, we're bringing back the Triwizard Tournament."