Chapter Summary: Minerva relays the results of the year's sorting to the interested portraits in her office and reveals the reason behind Morgain's strange behavior.
Disclaimer: Don't own. All licensed characters belong to JKR. The characters you don't know belong to me. If you would like to use them I'm willing to talk to you about the possibility over a PM.
Comments are loved, welcomed, and appreciated.
Horace was going to have a heart attack before the year was out. At least that was what Minerva believed as she made her way back towards her office after dismissing the students to their common rooms for the night.
To say the sorting had been interesting would be an understatement. It had been the most unusual sorting she had ever sat through. The Nott boy was a Ravenclaw, the Dolohov boy was in i Gryffindor /i ? POTTER'S middle child in Slytherin, with a Malfoy, and a Carrow, and the Finnigan girl. That worried her, the little girl was powerful, or would be when she fully realized what she was. Minerva had desperately hoped that the girl would go somewhere like Ravenclaw where her fellow students would have encouraged her to properly harness her powers. There was a very good chance that the Slytherin students would lead her down the wrong path.
The elderly woman stopped and leaned against the nearest wall. The girl should have gone anywhere but Slytherin. Minerva rubbed at her eyes and sighed. She was going to have to tell Severus that there was a Potter in Slytherin. The former potions professor and headmaster would die, again, when he found out that tidbit of news and Albus would endlessly gloat, then he and Severus would bicker.
For a moment Minerva half considered returning to her quarters instead of taking back the hat back to its customary place in her office. She could avoid the portraits of her former colleagues at least until morning but by then they would have heard the news from some other source. A small buried part of her wanted to see Severus' reaction to the news too much to risk having him hear it from someone else.
With a sigh she pushed herself away from the wall and continued down the corridor until she reached the stone gargoyle that guarded the revolving staircase upward.
"Butterfingers." The gargoyle jumped aside immediately and Minerva shook her head as she stepped onto the rotating stairwell that would take her upstairs. She would never understand muggle candy. Who in their right mind would eat fingers of butter? For Albus' sake however, she had kept the tradition of give the gargoyle sweet themed pass-codes alive. A small notebook that listed muggle candies had helped immensely in that respect. She would have been lost without it.
The stairs stopped moving as they reached the top and Minerva twisted the door handle. It opened easily and she slipped into the warm dimly lit space. The curtains and windows had been opened while she had been out and a gentle breeze caused the dark red hangings to flutter softly. She closed the windows and glanced over the moonlit grounds. The students would be settled into their common rooms by now and she wondered how Neville was handling his first year as Gryffindor head-of-house. He would lead the house well, of that she was sure, but the urge to check on him rose strongly. It had been her responsibility for so long after all.
She turned from the windows with a sigh and as she moved further in her office she heard soft voices. Minerva swore that those two never slept. She could come into her office at any hour of the night to find Severus and Albus discussing some obscure potions theory, or a bit of arithmancy. There had been one morning that she had disturbed a rather lively discussion about the real purpose behind the Goblin wars.
"Ahh Minerva. Did the sorting go well?" Albus' warm voice flowed over her and calmed her chaotic thoughts. Before she replied Minerva busied herself by placing the hat on its pedestal and summoning a house elf to fetch her tea before dropping into her chair and turning it to face her two most vocal comrades.
"Headmistress your tea." Winky had appeared before Severus could finish his inquiry and Minerva thanked the elf before settling into her chair and turning it to face her two most talkative portraits.
i "Minerva." /i Severus hated to be interrupted and Minerva could clearly hear the irritation in his voice.
"Hush Severus. You know quite well that she will ignore you until she is good and ready." Minerva brought the teacup to her lips to hide the small smile that threatened her normally stern face. Nineteen years spent with the two of them as advisors had been a blessing. The pair might bicker but Albus' years of experience and Severus' insight into the Slytherin mindset, something Minerva was loath to admit that she would never understand, had been invaluable.
She sipped the tea again and sighed. Winky, bless her heart, had never been able to get her tea exactly as she liked it. Her eyes flickered upward to glance at Severus and Albus and the small smirk she was kept hidden behind her teacup grew. Severus had crossed his arms across his chest and was alternating his glare between herself and Albus.
"Very well Minerva. When you are ready." Severus' tone was clipped and agitated but he had learned early on that humoring her was the best way to get information out of her.
"Thank you Severus." Minerva hid her small smile as she turned back to her desk to add a bit of milk and a small spoonful of honey to her remaining tea. Her eyes momentarily strayed to the collection of small silver objects that lined the edge of her desk and she straightened a pile of papers before returning her attention to her tea. She stirred the mixture absently and brought it to her lips to taste the flavor. Much more satisfied she turned her chair back to face her inquisitors.
"The sorting did not go well?" Albus was frowning softly at her and Minerva gripped her teacup in one hand and moved a stray lock of hair behind her hair.
"I believe the hat has gone senile." She explained dryly.
"I have not Headmistress. I am as effective at placing students as I was when Godric created me!" Minerva sighed. She should have known that the hat would have not yet gone back to sleep.
"Than Godric was as daft in his old age as you are in yours." She snapped quietly.
"I am hardly daft, a bit tattered and drafty but far from daft."
"Minerva please. I'm sure the hat made the correct choices, as it has each year." The elderly witch sighed and sipped her tea. She knew Albus was right but some of those choices confounded her. "Now Minerva, if I could persuade you to be so kind, would you please enlighten us. Severus and I have placed a few small wagers and we wish to see which of us is right." Minerva shook her head but could not resist a small smile.
"Fortunately the two of you have no access to anything that could be used in such wagers or my office would have long ago been stripped of its valuables." Albus' eyes twinkled madly and he settled into the over-sized armchair that had been painted into the rear of his portrait.
"Very well put Minerva, now..." Dumbledore paused to pick up a teacup from the small side table. "Please do enlighten us." Minerva took a sip from her cup and her gaze flickered towards the hat.
"Where to begin." She tucked the loose strand of hair back behind her ear.'
"Minerva, i please /i ! Sometime this century. I can always go speak with Horace." Minerva turned her gaze to Severus and frowned.
"You could..." She agreed quietly. Severus' black eyes narrowed and for a moment Minerva expected him to disappear from his frame. "But you would rather hear the news from me I'm sure." The man crossed his arms across his chest and turned his back to her. "Isn't that true Severus?" His figure tensed and Minerva smiled.
"Yes." He finally turned back to her before moving to drop into the chair that had been painted into his frame. He picked up a thick leather bound tome and delicately leafed through the pages as he pretended to show disinterest. He was still frustrated with her but Minerva knew that he was still paying attention to her. His ability to multi-task was legendary.
"I believe that Horace is going to require your advice more so this year than he has in the past. He has quite a group on his hands." Severus looked up at her with interest.
"The Malfoy boy?" Minerva nodded. "Horace knew to expect him and Horace taught for two years with Draco as a student, and a full seven with Lucius. He can handle an eleven year old."
"Perhaps, however, if it were only Malfoy I don't believe Horace would have a problem. It's the collected year in general. I fear that I will be forced to respond to a number of irate owls."
"I've told you every year that you should just ignore such letters Minerva. I did and received no complaints about the policy." Minerva glared at Severus' portrait.
"You were Headmaster for less than a year Severus, and I doubt that the parents were in any position to complain considering the circumstances at the time."
"You are very right, the parents complained about almost nothing during my term. It was the one i tiny /i blessing having the post allowed me, what with Neville and his insistent rebellion coupled with my endless efforts to keep the Carrows reigned in."
"Speaking of that dreadful family Alecto's daughter Maretta is also in Slytherin." Severus' eyes widened in disbelief.
"They i let /i that woman bear a child? I thought she was imprisoned in Azkaban." The almost rage and disbelief was thick in Severus' voice.
"She managed to avoid capture for years before she was caught in Romania. They did not know until after she had been imprisoned that she was pregnant. Alecto had her baby at Azkaban and died during the birth." Albus' voice was grim and Severus pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand and rubbed at his eyes with the other.
"I shall make sure that Horace is aware of the girl's history when I visit his office."
"That would be wise Severus."
"Minerva who else was sorted into Slytherin? So that I might discuss the new roster with Slughorn when I meet with him."
"Let me think a moment. I've already mentioned Malfoy, and the Carrow girl, then there is Eliza Montague, Ramses Verity, Avedis Harkiss, Kaori Sato..." Minerva raised her teacup to her lips and took a sip before continuing. "Albus Potter, Trent Lane, Bella Grimsby, and Morg..."
i "P-Potter!" /i Severus' disbelieving stutter was incredibly amusing and Minerva held her cup a little higher in what became an unintentional salute.
"Yes, strange isn't it? I take it you now understand why I believe that our dear sorting hat has finally gone daft."
"For the last time woman I am far from i daft /i !" Severus ignored the hat's interruption completely.
"There really is a Potter in Slytherin?" Severus' voice was soft and a little disbelieving and Minerva had noticed that his hand was clenched in a fist.
"Haha!" A delighted shout and a soft clap sounded from Albus' portrait and Minerva turned her gaze back to the former headmaster. "I knew I would be right about young Albus' placement. I've won our wager Severus."
"James Potter Sr. is rolling in his grave and planning a way to prank his grandson from the afterlife." The words sent Dumbledore into a soft round of laughter and Minerva set her cup down so she could rub at her eyes. She had no idea about James Sr. but Harry's elder son was most definitely planning something less than pleasant for his younger brother.
"The hat most have been elated. He's wanted to place a Potter in Slytherin since Harry talked him out of putting him there. Young Albus will do well I believe" Dumbledore sounded thrilled about the prospect of a Potter in Slytherin and he would no doubt gloat about it for ages.
"Perhaps." She said quietly. "Time will tell."
"I reserve the right to pass verdict on the boy's disposition until after I've spoken to Horace, though I believe that this newest Potter will prove to be little more than his brother." Severus would not back down. He might have had a higher opinion of Harry before his death but the man's son James was little better than his grandfather had been.
"You are welcome to do so Severus, though I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the boy. Harry saw fit to have the lad share both of our names after all." Severus frowned as Albus reminded him of the obvious. It was so easy to forget that Harry had named the boy Albus Severus. It was an honor he was not sure he deserved.
"I reserve my right to pass judgment Albus." He said finally. "If the boy proves to be something special than I shall admit my folly."
"That will be a first." Severus' gaze immediately switched to Minerva and his eyes narrowed as his hands tightened to fists at his sides..
"Merlin's Beard woman! I've admitted I was wrong in the past."
"Only after much work, and always upon the insistence of others." Severus crossed his arms across his chest and glared at her.
"That may be true, but the notion is i not /i unheard of."
"That is true." Minerva said sweetly, as she raised her teacup to her lips to drain the remaining liquid from it. "You are, however, a most difficult man to persuade. I hope in this case that young Albus Severus lives up to whatever godly standards you put him against. Do remember however that he is only a child and not his father by a long-shot. That he was sorted into Slytherin at all is more than proof of that."
Severus gave a curt nod but before he could find his voice Albus spoke once again.
"While the news of Harry's son in Slytherin is quite a surprise, though delightful one, I must ask if there were any other such surprises. Your tone when you spoke of the sorting indicates to me that there were several others."
Minerva turned back to her desk and poured another cup of tea. When she had flavored it as she liked it she turned back to face Snape and Dumbledore. "Klaron Dolohov was sorted into Gryffindor, much to his brother Cygnus' shock." Severus frowned and Minerva knew that he was thinking of the reaction of the boy's grandfather.
"You should let Neville know to keep an eye on Klaron. The Dolohovs are one of the families most likely to give their son grief about his placement. Cygnus is also a Slytherin prefect. He might feel overly vindictive about deducting Gryffindor house points just to hurt his brother."
"I shall make sure that Neville is made aware. Thank you Severus." The man in the portrait nodded and Minerva sipped her tea as she tried to think of other surprise placements.
"Roshan Nott is in Ravenclaw, though I do not believe that comes such a surprise."
"Is that Theodore Nott's son?" Minerva nodded in response to Severus' inquiry. "Theodore was perhaps the most level headed of his year. Married one of the Patil twins if I heard correctly?" Minerva nodded again.
"What about the Finnigan girl Minerva?" Minerva turned her chair so that she better faced Dumbledore's portrait.
"Slytherin." She said quietly. "From what I saw the girl has already struck up a friendship with Potter, Malfoy, and the Harkiss boy." Minerva fell silent and rubbed at her left eye. "I had hoped she would go to Ravenclaw."
"As did we all Minerva. She must be watched, closely. Severus when you speak with Horace have him politely ask the Slytherin house portraits to keep a discreet eye on the girl."
"That is not wise Albus and you know it. The older students will realize that she has been singled out and it will only make them want to know why she is so special."
"We have been over this and over this Severus. The girl needs to be watched." Dumbledore sounded tired and somehow older than Minerva had heard him sound.
"Not in the supposed privacy of her dorm room Albus. You will put the whole house on edge when they realize what you are doing. There are too many children of former death eaters. Suspicion will run rampant and you will only succeed in creating a destructive climate. It will become a house of cards waiting to fall." Severus paused and rubbed at his eyes before continuing in a softer, more pleading tone. "The girl is still unaware, let her enjoy her oblivion for as long as it lasts. Inform Horace and the other teachers but for god's sake do not go informing every portrait in the damned castle. You know how they gossip, the whole student body will know in days."
"She needs to be watched Severus. You, too well I think, know the dangers that are inherent in her powers." Albus was trying to be patient but Minerva could hear the frustration in his voice as he once again launched into an argument that had become too familiar.
"I know personally how throughly her powers can destroy lives. We should give her what privacy that we can now, and when we can no longer risk letting her go unwatched that is when you should inform the portraits to keep her under constant surveillance." .
"Perhaps you are right Severus. We shall settle for informing Horace and the other professors for now. When the girl's powers manifest themselves more fully we shall take more thorough measures." Dumbledore paused and sighed. "Horace should be done with his initial house meeting. You should go and see how that went Severus." The other man nodded and disappeared from his frame.
Ten new students, five of them male, and five of them female. It was the largest group of year-mates that Horace had seen since he had returned to teaching. It was also going to be a most difficult group to keep tabs on.
At least four of them had already seemed to have formed some sort of friendship. Malfoy, Finnigan, Harkiss, and Potter. A smile quirked at Slughorn's lips and he shook his great bald head at the thought. Poor Harry would have a fit when he found that his son was in Slytherin, and an even bigger one when he found out that the boy was friendly with Scorpius. Then there would be poor Draco's reaction. Horace laughed again and ignored the odds looks he was receiving from the surrounding portraits.
He shook his head as he pushed his office door open. The scents of cooling potions assaulted his senses and he moved to the side of the room to check each of the cauldrons. They all appeared to be in proper order and he placed sealing charms on each pot to keep them from spoiling before they could be used as examples in his classes.
When the cauldrons had been checked he moved over to his desk and removed a box of crystal pineapple and a bottle of brandy from the bottom drawer. He poured a generous amount of the liquor into a glass, sat the box of pineapple on his lap, and propped his feet onto the beaten and scarred wooden surface.
He really needed to stop teaching. Grading the endless stacks of essays and exams got old after a while. Teaching however, was perhaps the best way to keep up with the numerous contacts and friendships he had made over the years. It was also a good way to keep an eye out for the newest talent. At over one hundred years, age was slowly creeping up on him and he knew it. He would have to choose an apprentice soon or let his considerable talent go to waste.
It was finding a suitable apprentice that was difficult. Potions was unfortunately not a branch of magic that many wizards were suited for, especially if they were pure-bloods. It had taken years for it to finally dawn on him but Slughorn had found that the ones best at potions were the ones with the heaviest muggle influences. He equated that fact to the similarity of potions to muggle cooking. Muggles and half-blood families often prepared their own meals and knew the necessity of getting a mixture correct. That precise necessity was a discipline that most other fields of magic simply did not have.
With a sigh Horace brought the glass of brandy to his lips. He took a long drink and sighed again as the liquid burned down his throat to pool in his stomach. The elderly professor relaxed deeper into the soft cushions of his chair and thoughtfully munched on a piece of pineapple before taking another long pull from his glass.
"Isn't it a little early in the school year to be falling so heavily on the bottle Horace?" The snide, smooth voice interrupted his musings and his eyes flickered to the 10" by 10" frame that sat wedged between among the various glass jars that sat on the corner of his desk.
"It is never too early in anything for a good glass of high quality spirits."
"So you have told me." Severus' image crossed his arms over his chest and Horace frowned. He had known Severus since the man had been a boy and he had taken a particular liking to the sullen young man from the beginning. Horace prided himself on recognizing brilliance and Severus, though coming from a poor, and unconnected family had been brilliant. His talent in potions had only furthered his like for the young man. A small smile quirked at the elder potion master's lips and he took another long drink from his glass.
"Minerva told you about Potter I assume, and you just had to run down here to find out the truth didn't you?" The dark scowl he received from the image sent him into a great belly shaking peel of laughter and Horace held up his glass in a rudimentary salute. "You will like him Severus, he does not seem like James, either James, at all. Plus he shares your name."
"So Albus insists on telling me." Severus was frowning in displeasure and Horace chuckled as he carefully selected his next piece of pineapple from the box on his lap.
"The boy has his grandmother's eyes." He said, almost mischievously. "As far as I know the only one of Harry's three to have them." The image in the frame tensed and Horace sucked gently on the piece of heavily sugared pineapple as it started to melt in his mouth. He knew that mentioning Lily Potter was an excellent way to make Severus pay attention, it had been since his school days. Horace swallowed the expensive candy and glanced at the frame. "Give the boy a chance before you judge him Severus. He has a head on him or he would not be in our house."
"Perhaps." Horace finished off the glass of brandy and dropped his feet to the floor before smacking the top of his desk in elation.
"That's the spirit lad!"
"I have not been a i lad /i for too many years Horace. I do not know why you insist upon calling me one."
"You are far younger than I am Severus, that is all the reasoning I need." Horace picked up the brandy decanter and poured a second generous amount into his glass. A little sloshed over the side and he muttered a curse but did not move to clean up the mess. The beaten desk had seen far worse spilled upon it than a little brandy. He moved to re-seat himself and sipped at the brandy thoughtfully before taking a more serious tone. "Did you speak to Minerva about the whole roster or just about Potter?"
"The whole year. She seems to think that the sorting hat has gone daft..." Severus paused and the little image shook its head. "The hat..." He continued dryly. "...Insists that it has not."
"That must have been an interesting discussion. She told you about Dolohov?" Severus nodded.
"Make sure that Cygnus does not become overhanded when he attempts to deduct points from his brother's house. The Dolohovs tend to hold serious grudges."
"I will keep an eye on him."
"That would be wise." The sarcasm that hung from each of Severus' words seemed heavy but Horace had become adept at ignoring it.
"What are your thoughts on the rest of the Slytherin class?" Horace took a long pull from his brandy glass as he waited for Severus to collect his thoughts.
"Watch the Carrow girl." Severus said finally, though Horace suspected that Maretta was not who Severus really wanted to talk about. "Her mother died while giving birth and Albus seems to think that having been born in Azkaban might have made the girl slightly unstable. Horace shuddered and nodded.
"I will keep an eye on her. What are your thoughts on Malfoy?"
"If Scorpius is anything like his father he will be a pure-blooded prat with an almost assured rivalry with Potter's son." Horace smiled and shook his head.
"Actually Severus they are getting on quite well, or seem to be at the very least. I would give my Falmouth Falcons season pass to see the looks on their father's faces when they find out that their sons seems to be hitting it off." The image of the former headmaster crossed its arms across its chest and Severus frowned.
"You would." A thin smile quirked at the man's lips. "Truthfully so would I." He admitted softly. Horace could not help but roar with laughter.
"If they remain close I see no problems with either of them."
"Potter nor Malfoy will be the problem you need to watch out for." The portrait of Severus rubbed at its eyes in frustration and Slughorn once again dropped his feet to the floor. He moved closer to the desk and propped his cheek on his hand.
"Something worse than a Potter/Malfoy rivalry?" Horace sipped on his brandy and nibbled on a piece of pineapple.
"The Finnigan girl Horace. You need to watch her." Horace's eyes widened and he laughed.
"Severus i please /i , I've never met a more harmless and innocent child." The tiny little girl with long, straight black hair, wide blue eyes, and an innocent laugh was of no threat. He was positive of that.
Severus looked exhausted and dropped into the chair in the rear of his portrait. The man's actions unconsciously made Slughorn sit up a little straighter. There was very little that truly frustrated the former headmaster as much as this one little girl seemed to.
"Severus what exactly is the problem?" The image of the younger man brushed greasy shoulder length black hair from his face and his black eyes seemed to glitter.
"The girl is a seer." Slughorn's eyes widened and he dropped back into his chair in shock.
"How strong a one?" He asked once he had finally found his voice again.
"Dumbledore is insistent that she will out-rival Cassandra Trelawny when she is old enough and aware enough to know exactly who and what she is." Slughorn downed the remainder of his brandy in a long swallow and stood. Severus continued speaking as he started to pace. "She does not know yet Horace, she has no idea."
"What do you mean when she is aware? How can she not know at eleven? Especially if she is as strong as you say? Have her parents not told her?"
"Her mother died when she four and her father has done his best to hide the extent of her powers from her. According to Mr. Finnigan she has not yet made a full prediction and most of what she sees are snippets of things to come. He has managed to make her believe that it is merely her imagination." Severus rubbed at his eyes. "It will not take much longer for her to piece together the truth. You must keep an eye on her Horace, and if you can, encourage her to seek friendships with children who will be less likely to attempt to manipulate her.
Slughorn nodded numbly and paced back across the length of his office to drop back into his desk chair. His numb hand reached for the brandy bottle and this time he did not notice when the precious drops missed the glass to fall on the scarred surface of his desk. The words i She will out-rival Cassandra /i played over and over in his mind like a broken record as he raised the goblet to his lips.
"I will keep an eye on her." He promised suddenly. "I will do my best Severus but I can make no promises. I cannot follow her around the castle like a shadow."
"Minerva is going to inform the other Professors. Just keep an eye on her. She is going to be powerful Slughorn, it's something that has always attracted you. Take her under your wing and take whatever friends she chooses to make with her. Do whatever you can to make her trust you." Horace nodded and sipped at the goblet in his hand.
"As I said Severus, I will do my best." The two of them lapsed into silence as each of them pondered the implications of a child with more prophetic power then had been seen in centuries. The next few years would be critical in determining how the girl chose to use that power. She would need to be watched.
I would love to know what you guys think. Do you like the interaction between Minerva, Albus, and Severus? Are you intrigued by the possible limits of Morgain's powers? Does she even have limits? How will her powers affect her friendships? Any and all comments are welcome. I love it when readers comment so please feed me and my muses.