My Gilded Life
Chapter One

by Skysaber
based on a challenge forwarded by Lionheart


Challenge: Write yourself as Gilderoy Lockhart
Response: You know what? I am GOOD at self-inserts, as they are one of my peculiar skills. And there was just so much mayhem to do from that starting off point! I couldn't resist.

Everything goes pretty well, up until a new Dark Lord starts to arise. One the books did not prepare for.


I don't know who did it, but one morning while I was reading through my email I got a message forwarded from a friend, containing a challenge he had heard on one of the writing boards he frequented. It was a fairly simple challenge about 'imagine your life if you became Gilderoy Lockhart', but I'm guessing it was a sorcerer or a mischievous fey or someone like that SRU mage who first put it up, because I went to sleep thinking about it...

... and the next morning woke up at Hogwarts.

The look of the place was pretty distinctive. Those castle walls, hangings and four poster bed aren't something you usually wake up to, and a good first tip off that something was out of the ordinary.

So it was a good thing I am so very good at adapting to the unusual.

Rolling out of bed, I saw clothes like you'd sooner see in an expensive play (one with a VERY high costume budget) spilled out of a large wardrobe and chest. But they gave me the distinct impression that this was just a case of open luggage, not a place someone had moved into. This idea got reinforced by the localized nature of the mess, it was not spread out over the entire room, just the immediate area of the luggage itself.

I figured out my next step was to call a house elf to A) see if this really was Hogwarts (after all, if one showed up that would tell me quite a bit, and if one didn't I had to go exploring other options), and B) get some local information like date and time and what I was doing there.

That was when the memories hit.

I had never been the type to scream. The shock wasn't even all that bad, and if I had to compare it to anything it would be to suddenly recalling something you'd forgotten, like to make a telephone call, or read a book, only it was all hitting me all at once, everything this guy had ever said or done.

I think I must have passed out, because the next thing I knew I was waking up all over again, and this time I knew exactly where and who I was, what I was doing there and how I got to be there.

I was Gilderoy Lockhart, and I knew all that the useless fop had done in the frivolous pursuit of glory he called a life. What's more, I knew how to do the handful of tricks he'd mastered in magic, but ALSO, probably the only useful skill he had, I knew how to do the whole 'Celebrity' behavior thing of getting the press to love me, talk people into things and generally be a charming guy, instead of merely just any old ordinary guy.

Well, that was useful. It didn't much matter what tools you had, if you used them well you could often go far, and charm was actually a big one, very useful in the right circumstances.

It was just that those circumstances didn't cover everything.

Fortunately for me, I'm also kept my knowledge of Rowling's books. I was instantly grateful for that, and despite disagreeing with her treatment of her characters and thinking she was generally clueless about relationships and REALLY hating some of the stunts she'd pulled, here she was effectively a seer, and that information was hopefully going to save some lives.

Well, as always, first things first. I rolled out of bed intending to go through my usual morning routine and found that my body already had its own ideas of how to do so.

I was thankful for this, as I didn't think there was any other way I would've figured out all of the stuff in the magical bathroom and his grooming kit. Although I had to admit a certain inner amazement when I realized the extent of the beauty treatments Lockhart put himself under.

The original Lockhart took great pains for his appearance, and while I was not opposed to looking good, I generally drew the line at curlers.

Still, in spite of it all it was useful. People are swayed by a pretty face and well groomed appearance, even if they don't mean to be. Pretty people had all sorts of advantages over plain ones. It was unfair, it wasn't right, but far be it from me to turn down any such advantage in this place.

Harry Potter worlds were DEADLY! Not because of any inherent threat level in the magic available to them, no, rather the opposite. The incompetence of the general magical public made things dangerous, often more so than any deliberate attempt to harm you could be.

I had no fear of thousands of armed soldiers competently fighting an equal number of professional soldiers on the other side. They destroyed more or less what they intended to destroy and one side came out the victor. BUT! Place an equal number of guns in the hands of morons, and no one was safe!

What's more, the magical world behaved like startled sheep. Still, at least sheep could be guided, and fortunately I had the tools on hand to do exactly that! People believed pretty but empty-headed movie stars when they said things. Now I had the looks and the fame and a bit of money. I was genuinely confident the magical world would listen to me.

Actually no sooner had I thought of money than the figures popped into my head and I was staggered with how well off Gilderoy was. But on reflection, I shouldn't have been too surprised. The guy wrote wizarding best-sellers that even families as poor as the Weasleys bought copies of; and Rowling was the richest woman in England and had made all of her money out of book sales. Granted, the magical book market was smaller, there being vastly fewer magical people, but still this guy was a cut or two above comfortably well off.

Finished with my morning rituals (by which I meant the bathing and getting ready kind - I suppose I ought to be more careful about that word now that I was in a magical world), I struck out to find some breakfast.

From reviewing my newly acquired memories, I knew that I had been invited to Hogwarts to interview for the open Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Albus Dumbledore and the previous Lockhart had concluded said interview late enough in the other day for him to offer to let me stay the night out of politeness, after telling me he would inform me sometime mid-summer if I had the position or not. I guessed that was most probably because he didn't want to hire me, but could not refuse until he had another option.

And I'd already given the guy my proposed book list, darn it!

Oh well, 'God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change' and all of that. My magical travel bags were already packing themselves, getting ready to depart. But it was in my heart to linger for a second or two, and I darted out into the halls, running into McGonagall almost immediately.

"Ah, Mr Lockhart, is there something wrong with your room?" she addressed me with a raised eyebrow.

I returned to her a dazzling smile that came to my face with automatic ease, and on a whim I gallantly offered her my arm. "Ah, my dear Professor, how could the hospitality of Hogwarts be anything less than ideal? But I was of a mind to take my breakfast in the Great Hall, if you'll have me. It was my intent to relive some of my precious school memories one last time. May I be privileged to escort you there?"

Her response contained some surprise, well controlled, and I recalled that Gilderoy had never been her best student, quite nearly the opposite really. But after only a moment's pause she gave a small smile and accepted my arm and the pair of us swept down rather gallantly into the Great Hall, where breakfast was already being served.

After carefully seating my 'date' I suppose you should call her (and I was trying to be charming in the hopes of winning her support), I saw Ron come in with some Gryffindors and, instead of seating myself, bent over to whisper an excuse into McGonagall's ear about only being a moment. Then I swept in some haste over to the Gryffindor table.

Standing opposite Ron, who I noted was there without Harry, although Hermione was already up and reading a book while eating, I posed casually and with a charming smile to address him. "Ronald Weasley?" The boy looked up and I took his hand to give it a firm shake, before leaning on the table to ask what I'd intended. "Could I trouble you for a moment? I hear you've got a pet rat, name of Scabbers if I'm hearing right, which I'd like to buy from you."

Straightening up, I took a few coins from my belt pouch (wizards did not use wallets that I could recall) and jingled them in my hands. "Would four galleons be enough?"

Apparently it was, as Ron stared at me dumbfounded, cheeks filled with food that he didn't even bother to swallow before taking off like a shot towards the dorms, racing away like the hounds of Hades were after him.

"Why would you want a rat? Especially one as lazy as Scabbers?" one of the boys, one whom I didn't recognize (and by this presumed was not in Harry's year), took a moment to ask me.

I gave him a wink and a condescending smile. "All will be clear in time."

Then I turned my attention to Hermione, who was already looking up to wonder what all of the fuss was. Recalling the date, and what I'd read from the books, I surmised that Harry's absence was due to his still being in the Hospital Wing after dealing with Quirrel, saving the Philosopher's Stone.

Excellent. That gave me an opening to use here. I schooled my face into one of knowing concern and gestured for Hermione to speak with me a few feet away from the table, where I crouched to speak to her on her level, putting a hand around her back to speak closely.

"Miss Granger," I spoke in kindly, but concerned tones. "Some things have come to light as Mr Potter was admitted to the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomphrey found signs consistent with child abuse," she gasped, covering her mouth with her hands while I went on in those same concerned tones. "There has been at least one broken arm, perhaps more. I am not at liberty to say the full extent, of course. But I was wondering if you would be so kind as to owl your parents, asking them if Harry could stay a week or two with your family at the start of the summer while his home life is investigated?"

"Of course!" she exclaimed, now filled with energy as I was privileged to watch the girl genius enter what was probably her emergency mode. Her hands fluttered from mouth to skirt to waist and finally she lunged for her books and homework, scrambling through her bag for pen and parchment. "I'll send them a letter right away! Thank you, professor!"

I stood back up, favoring her with a warm gaze, but her attention was already on her quill and ink. Not bothering to correct her for-now-mistaken impression that I was a professor, I began to walk confidently back to the head table and the seat I'd saved by Minerva's side when Ron came barreling back into the Great Hall in a terrible rush, holding Scabbers in both hands as he came stuttering to a halt before me.

I gave him a friendly yet amused gaze, silently cheering and inwardly grateful that Gilderoy Lockhart had devoted so much time to learning charm and poise, as it was proving enormously useful. I quirked an amused grin at him, saying, "Well, I can hardly take him in my hands like that. Your pet doesn't know me yet, and he might bite or scurry off before he does. Why don't you get one of your brothers to stun him, then we'll make the trade, eh?" I cheerfully danced the coins across the back of my hand.

Ron gave me a desperate nod, then he was over getting one of his brothers, Percy, I noted with some relief (knowing the twins would have crept in some prank), to stun the rat for me. I would have done it myself, but Lockhart was absolutely hopeless with any and all spells other than his singular gift with memory charms.

Sensing no danger, Scabbers allowed himself to be stunned. Actually, with the near death grip Ron had him in, it wouldn't have mattered much in the end if Peter had struggled anyway.

Taking the now insensate rat and paying the boy his four galleons, with a two galleon tip because I was feeling generous, I fondly ruffled his hair then swept back to the Head Table holding the creature firmly in one hand.

McGonagall favored me with a curious stare as I stopped opposite her rather than joining her at the table. Some of the other staff members were also looking at me with some degree of curiosity, and it was programmed into Lockhart's existence to play the stage. So I made a show of it, grandstanding a bit as I presented the stunned rat before them.

Favoring the transfiguration teacher with a small bow, I spoke, "Professor McGonagall, first I would like to assure you that nothing could draw me from your wonderful conversation and stellar company save what I felt was something of an emergency. And upon entering the Great Hall I took note of a few things, and, well... I was wondering, my dear, if you could perform the Animagus revealing spell upon this animal?"

Quite curious now, the woman drew her wand to perform the incantation and no sooner had it struck the animal than Peter Pettigrew enlarged and fell out of my grasp across the staff table.

"Stand Back!" I shouted across the sudden noise, waving my arms grandly to clear a space among the reacting mob. "This man is a Death Eater, still at large! You see!" Baring Pettigrew's left arm I held it aloft in one swift motion, getting gasps from the staff table and shock from the students. "Hiding out with a wizarding family gave him ready access to news as he awaited his lord's return."

Ron nervelessly dropped the scone he'd been busy eating.

"But that's Peter Pettigrew! He would never..." McGonagall's about to be voiced objections trailed off as I rotated the man's arm so that she could see the faint yet still tell-tale mark upon Peter's forearm.

Her eyes met mine in shocked amazement, then her expression changed to one of appalled understanding.

I smiled grandly. "You give yourself too little credit, McGonagall. I remember enough of your lessons to be able to spot a rogue animagus or two. Honestly, I am surprised you did not make the arrest yourself. But no matter, we caught him."

Spinning around to face the stunned faces of the students gathered in the Great Hall, I put on my most winning grin. "As most of you should know, the Death Eaters serving the last Dark Lord all bear his mark upon their left forearm. He uses it to summon them, and they can use it to bypass wards and so on. But we, who fight against them, can use it to identify them. This man," I waved to indicate the still-insensate Pettigrew. "Was one of the best friends of James and Lily Potter. It is obvious now that he betrayed them. How and why is still unsure, but he will be handed over to the Ministry Aurors for questioning, I assure you. Because first and foremost, it was this man whose testimony was key in sending one Sirius Black to Azkaban, and now that it is revealed that it is Pettigrew who is a traitor and liar, it becomes clear that he most probably invented that story to conceal his own heinous crimes. And thus, it may be that an innocent man is suffering while a guilty one roamed free."

I'd have to remember that speech to make it once again to some newspapers (although most certainly NOT to that Skeeter woman), and later again to the Ministry.

Enlisting Professors Flitwick and McGonagall to go with me, she to levitate the disgusting traitor's body and he to stand guard, "Watch closely and with care, my good man, that is one slippery customer to have escaped capture all this time. We know he is a rat animagus. He may yet have more surprises. Be careful, I say." We made our way to the nearest floo access and from thence to the Ministry to report our capture.

It took all day of tooting my own horn, talking to the papers (who would print us as front page news in the next edition) and convincing both politicians and Aurors, but I was able to get Pettigrew put under questioning and the true story of his betrayal of the Potters revealed.

The Ministry was in an uproar. The press was having a field day blackening the reputation of the previous administration, and toward evening I slipped out the back and went over to the house of Barty Crouch.

That man was still at the Ministry answering questions and would be for some time as I knocked on the door.

While walking there from the floo point, I had taken Lockhart's wand out and was practicing my Stupify spell on every tree, rock and animal I came across. The spell was a simple one, not too hard and quite useful, one of the most basic of all combat spells and rather well suited to a beginner like me.

The original Gilderoy could have learned it but was too lazy. I, who knew the kind of danger I was in just by being in this world, had sufficient motivation as to be able to get a decent handle on it before too long, although I'd had to take an extra hour on my walk, circling the house at a few blocks distance as I did so.

Really, from that bit in the books where they were discussing the childhood of Tom Riddle, Albus made it clear that one could lose some or all of one's ability to use magic to depression or the like. Thus, personality and attitude had an influence on one's magical potential.

Well, my personality was more akin to Hermione's than anyone else in this series. I'd been known to read dictionaries and encyclopedias for fun. I read school books out of school and studied by myself because I felt that study was enjoyable. My idea of light reading was a good book on physics or history. You could hardly picture a more different personality than that for the man I was replacing, and, if it came right down to it, it was no wonder that I'd be able to master spells that he had never gotten a handle on.

However, to do even the most basic addressing of my present shortcomings in magical skill I needed time, and certain things had to be set into motion before I began correcting that lack on any kind of broad scale.

Finally feeling I had enough of a handle on that basic spell to use it reliably (and not willing to go on with the next stage until I'd had it to that level, so whatever time it took I was willing to spend, even if that meant coming back a day or even a week later), I went to meet Crouch Jr.

Approaching the house at last, I knocked on the door. Upon Winky answering, I opened my mouth, beginning to ask if her master was in, and as she opened her mouth to reply I stunned her, then used the one type of spell Gilderoy was good at to erase that memory from her mind.

Entering the house, I began my search for Barty Crouch Jr. While I would've loved to use spells to reveal him, even indirectly by doing things like tying ropes across doors and hallways, flooding the floor with an inch or so of water to betray footsteps, or even better, just summon that invisibility cloak off of him, I couldn't as I had only one specialty from Gilderoy and one spell I'd practiced myself since arriving on this world.

Still, the trick of invisibility is a limited one if a person knows that is what he is looking for. Making certain the door was both closed and locked behind me, I went through the room waving a weighted scarf through all of the spaces a man might be able to fit himself.

Jackpot. I got lucky quickly. Barty Crouch Jr. was most probably bored to death with his imprisonment and had moved to see who was visiting. The point of my scarf attack was not so much to hit him, although that would have worked just as well, but to scare him into moving about to avoid it. I heard him try to move as I started to swing my scarf through the air, and by listening carefully I was able to tag him before he got out of the front room.

A simple Stupify later and one big problem was solved.

I took his invisibility cloak immediately, as those things were useful, and I had plans where I could use one (or several). Then I went for a quick search, as in the books this piece of slime had killed his father, transformed his body into a bone, and then buried that bone wrapped in an invisibility cloak - this, while he STILL had the one that he'd been wearing.

So I knew there were two cloaks in there and I wanted them both. Finding the other was depressingly easy, too, as it was hung up in his father's closet.

Taking them both (figuring that since Barty Crouch had smuggled his son out of Azkaban, leading to the Dark Idiot's restoration, and thus he was partially responsible for hundreds if not thousands of deaths, and that by taking care of his son like this I was not only sparing his life, but saving him considerable bad karma as well, so he could spare a couple cloaks in exchange), I dragged the stunned criminal outside (I did not know the Levicorpus spell as yet, and although I could probably learn it pretty easily, now was not the time or place to practice it) then gave Winky a false memory of her charge overcoming the Imperious curse long enough to grab his father's second invisibility cloak, run outside and escape.

I did not want her to recall any part of my visit at all. That was important, so I gave Mr Death Eater the same memory.

Dragging the stunned criminal to a muggle road, I hired a cab to take us to just outside of the Leaky Cauldron. After Obliviating the driver's mind of the ride (I had forgotten until the last moment that I had no muggle money on me) and waiting for him to drive away, I propped up the body, stunned him again, then ran inside of the pub shouting for Aurors, claiming that I had just been attacked by a Death Eater outside while on my way to the Cauldron.

Everyone was, of course, aghast. Not only was this the second Death Eater uncovered that day, but he was also a second man who'd long been thought to be dead, only now showing up alive.

Flicking glamour sparkles off the ends of my hair I showboated the whole affair like the pro that Lockhart was. "Well, obviously," I explained, showing forth not a hint of the fear I might have felt. "When I exposed the traitor Pettigrew and revealed his position, this one also felt endangered and tried to take me out in a sort of revenge attack. But honestly, how he could have hoped to overcome me is something I could never comprehend."

Yes, I was laying it on thick, but I was also relying heavily on the original's skill and instincts for dealing with crowds like this, and that was what he'd do in that sort of situation.

I signed a few autographs, posed for pictures, made a statement, dropped hints about a soon to be forthcoming book giving all of the details of these remarkable captures, gave an interview to a more reputable reporter than Skeeter (I was avoiding that dreadfully dishonest woman) so that everyone could read my version of the story in the paper the next day, and made my exit with Barty Crouch Junior safe in the Aurors' custody.

Fudge contacted me about my receiving an award for these arrests, and the Lockhart part of me had agreed before I'd had any chance to consider the ramifications, or the ways that I'd rather be spending that time. But there were good and bad sides to having Gilderoy's social skills, I supposed, and he would do just about anything for more fame or glory, or especially both.

Now the proud owner of two invisibility cloaks, neither of which I had made any mention of when reporting the 'attack', I reflected that I had good luck so far and prayed that it would last, as there was a certain momentum that I had to be sustaining here.

There were only a few time sensitive situations that I wanted to take care of, and I needed them all done as quickly as I possibly could.

Shoplifting when you can erase a store clerk's memory of you ever having been there is dead easy. But better still to have an invisibility cloak. I went to a medical supply store and picked up a syringe and a few odds and ends.

Hiding those in my clothes, I then popped back in to Hogwarts to hand deliver a note to Dumbledore.

What I would love to be telling him was that I had reconsidered my booklist, and give him Remus' text from Harry's third year, with Lockhart's stolen tales of amazing adventures as mere recommendations (After all, I could not depart too much from the Lockhart image and have it remain useful, and the money from those sales could hardly hurt).

However, I was unable, as I couldn't remember the title of the book Remus had used. Frankly, I don't know that Rowling ever told us what it was, as I had a habit of latching on to little details like that.

I was an author, after all. Now from both my lives.

But the point was moot. Instead of merely dropping by to scribe a quick note for a flyby delivery, I was surprised that Dumbledore saw me personally, and my agile mind was working on this all of the way to his office.

Once we arrived, I positioned myself as if for a photograph at the window, looking out and pretending to scan the serene scene of the Hogwarts lake so I didn't have to meet him in the eyes. A very relaxed smile was on my face as he offered me tea.

"No, thank you." I politely declined. "But if you have any pumpkin juice I would not decline. Seeing this place has been bringing back memories."

He gave a fond smile himself at the subject, summoning a house elf to deliver us both our drinks. "Yes, I find myself each year surprised both by the depth of my nostalgia, yet also how fresh every new day seems."

"I could not agree with you more," I raised my glass in toast to him, and took a sip. It tasted like pumpkin pie in liquid instead of solid custard form. I was glad for the flavor, as it was a fond one to me.

To both sides of me, actually, although it was not from any of Lockhart's memories that I recalled Thanksgivings at home, as the British didn't celebrate that holiday.

No, his were of carefree school days.

Days so free of care, in point of fact, that he had just barely graduated and had almost no useful skills.

I smacked my lips appreciatively, setting down the glass and getting to business. "Now Albus," I spoke to him with genial familiarity, just I could recall 'I' had done at our previous visit, which was my interview for this job. "These last two Death Eater encounters have stirred some thoughts in my mind."

"Oh?" he responded, eyes most probably twinkling as he assumed that grandfather pose he did so well.

As one actor to another, I could tell he played that role very well indeed. He might even have fooled himself with it, which would explain more than a few things about plot holes in the series.

I could not confirm said twinkle as I dared not meet his eyes. Instead I gave a gruff, almost soldier-like nod and assumed an expression of seriousness. "I want to review my application with you, as, with Pettigrew discovered, Black is almost certain to get a trial. And, if he is innocent, I could hardly think of a better teacher for your Defense Against the Dark Arts position, provided he had some time to overcome the trauma of his imprisonment, of course."

Now I had the old man's genuine attention, so I continued. "So I was hoping to make a play along these lines: We both know about the curse that Voldemort placed on this position." I noted out of the corner of my eye that his eyebrow went up as I said the Dark Idiot's name. "So I give it to you: in your expert opinion do you believe we could side-step that curse by having two teachers, in this case myself and Mr. Black, trade off alternating years as Professor of the DADA course? In this case, myself first, then Black, then back to me the next year, and so on?"

Dumbledore beamed a smile toward me and he rose to his feet, placing his hand in a grandfatherly way on my arm. It was a clear and nearly unavoidable 'look in my face and meet my eyes' gesture, and his smile faltered when I failed to respond in the way he'd hoped. "My boy, why don't you look at me?"

Staring at the floor, I responded, "In our last visit you used Legilimency on me. I may not have a defense, yet the practice makes me uncomfortable."

There was a moment of silence before he nodded, went around to his desk and sat down once again, now no longer trying to trap my gaze with his.

"Three times now you have surprised me in this visit, Gilderoy," he told me. "Can you tell me what they are?"

I smiled, returning my gave to out the window. "I could tell you one was when I said the Dark Idiot's name." This time he flinched in surprise, and my smile broadened, revealing sparkling white and even teeth, winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Contest several times running. Hey, I HAD it, and I was sure as anything going to USE it! "The next I would say to be my knowing of the curse, and who cast it, yet being willing to accept the job anyway. The third I would say was my offer to share the position. So, do I pass your little test?"

"Most comfortably," he set down his teacup, out of which I'd nearly caused him to spew with my Dark Idiot comment. "I'd say you Exceed Expectations, although you are wrong on one point. My first surprise was not your laudable willingness to say Voldemort's name. That was my second. My first surprise was, however, your leap ahead in logic concerning the case of Sirius Black. When you spoke of Pettigrew's capture hinting strongly of the innocence of Sirius, thus leading to a long overdue trial, you had indeed sped ahead of my own thinking on that matter. But now you have surprised me four times, showing forth a truly remarkable courage to say not only the Dark Lord's name, but to twist that into an insult when there are still some about who regard him highly."

I waved a hand airily dismissing the matter. "Two of those I have taken care of just today. If there are any more they should be feeling some fear of their own about facing me."

"Indeed," he replied calmly, still weighing me carefully. "But on that issue, tell me: How did you become alerted to Pettigrew's hiding place?"

I gave a wide and expansive wave, flashing my most brilliant smile and gave him the story I had thought up to cover me on this issue. "Why, old chap, it was so obvious! Now consider," I told him, raising a finger to count off my points. "I'd overheard talk before about one of the Weasley boys having a pet rat, however on this most recent visit I caught a comment in the halls that told me they'd had this particular animal in the family for upwards of ten years! Now, as you must know, the normal lifespan of a rat is only three to five years, but this animal had never shown any other magical powers beyond its longevity. So, I saw the poor state of the kid's clothes and thought I would do him a favor by buying the rat from him to give to a friend of mine who'd see if she couldn't look into it and discover what other sorts of powers it might have. But once he'd delivered the thing I could hardly mistake it for anything but an animagus! You know the rest, I'm sure."

He nodded, body language showing that he believed my story, which was lucky as I hadn't truly known how believable it was until he'd swallowed it.

I stood back, cocking my arms onto my hips for a 'I'm so cool' pose. "Which reminds me of a point I was going to bring up. I'm going to need to be writing a new book to cover these events and tell the world these newest additions to my remarkable life story. That is going to require some of my time during the school year to get it out before the event has vanished from the public mind and causes sales to drop. So, I was wondering if you'd be so kind as to expand my salary so I might hire a qualified teaching assistant to aid me in my teaching responsibilities."

He raised his face toward me in curiosity. "Who did you have in mind?"

My smile was now far more genuine. "Well, with the events of Pettigrew and Black so close to mind, I was thinking of another friend of the famous Potter family. How about Remus Lupin?"

Albus Dumbledore's return smile held far more warmth than before. "I think it an excellent idea. I shall draw up the offer letter immediately. Welcome to our staff, Gilderoy."

"Any time, Albus." I patted him on the shoulder on my way out, pausing on the threshold, recalling an idea I'd once seen used in one of the better HP fanfics, one written by the same friend to forward that 'Live as Lockhart' challenge, oddly enough. "Oh, and Albus? Should Black and I start trading off years as DADA professors, we ought to have another position to switch to, and I was wondering if you could prevail upon your friend Nicholas Flamel to give us a selection of first person memories, as many as he can conveniently spare us, of course, of the many historical events he has witnessed or been party to. Even a taste of the other ages of the world in which he lived would be enormously helpful. This, and a giant pensieve, would give us a priceless tool for teaching History, and Black and I could could take over those classes on our alternate years."

He looked up at me, honestly surprised, and I gave him a friendly nod. "You know, old boy, you might want to offer up some of your past experiences as well. You aren't getting any younger, and you've been involved in countless events of significance to history. Think about it, as it would be a tragedy to lose those without a chance of passing them on. Perhaps, if you could get a opportunity, some of the goblins might have memories of those wars to pass on. It would do wonders for bringing past eras to life to our students, and by exciting them entice the magical world in general to interest, I should think."

On that, with a wave, I departed from his office, and I was no sooner out of that door than I began heading swiftly to the hospital wing.

It was during class time, so no teachers were in evidence, and no students either for that matter. I slipped on my first invisibility cloak and dashed in to the wing, scanning the bunks for one, familiar boy.

There he was, still unconscious. With swift, sure movements I took out my needle and syringe and poked into one of his veins, withdrawing enough blood to fill the thing. Then I made my departure.

Outside the castle, outside the wards and well away from Hogwarts (as I did not want their magic to interfere with anything), I squoze out a drop of Harry's blood and blood typed him. He was a solid A minus.

Hopes dashed, I was about to move on to a secondary plan before I realized that while I knew my original blood type, I had been Lockhart-ified somewhere along the way. So I typed myself, and found that I was AB positive, the exact opposite of my former O negative. From the universal donor to the universal receiver. How odd is that?

Tenderly inserting the needle into my own arm, I gave myself a small transfusion of Harry's blood and went and called for the Knight Bus.

Yes, there was a small risk, but I knew the kid well enough to know that he had no venereal diseases or anything like that. At worst I'd get an infection. As we were compatible types I wasn't worried about trauma of mismatched blood or anything like that.

No, the worst thing was that my body would naturally clear out the new stuff in a day or so, and I needed it to bypass the blood wards on Privet Drive, as the Dursleys were a menace and there was no way under Heaven I was going to permit Harry to be returned to their care!


So, for a few hours or so, I had the 'blood of the mother' (actually Harry's own) in me, so should be able to go to number four Privet Drive and do what I liked to the occupants.

Granted, Rowling had never said much about those supposed blood wards. It had been postulated several times by fans that they might not even exist. But if they did Dumbledore himself had said they needed to be recharged at least once a year. As Harry was just now completing his first year at school, and having just burned Quirrel to death using the power of his mother's love (ironic, that), they ought to be as low as they were ever going to get.

So now was the time to try, as if it was ever going to work it was going to work now, when they were at their lowest and presumably weakest.

I had his mother's blood in me, and the only other thing Albus had ever said about those wards was that they were based on Harry's mother's love. Well, I liked the kid far more than Petunia ever had, so if intent ever became an issue, I ought to have that one covered as well.

This was the last really time sensitive thing on my immediate agenda. After this I ought to be putting longer term plans into place, but those could take a while to be set up and not suffer much for a lack of immediacy.

Sadly, my options for accomplishing this were limited.

What I'd most like to do would be transform the couple and their pig of a son into walruses and let them go off the Alaskan coast. But I had inherited no skill, or practically no skill anyway, at transformative magics from Gilderoy. So that was out, as were most other, elegant, solutions.

Rowling had only ever 'punished' the Dursleys for their inhuman treatment of her main character by giving them almost ten seconds of mild scolding by Albus. That, a surgically removed pig tail and a quickly-reversed prank by the Weasley twins, were all the repayment they'd ever gotten for their horrible, criminal abuse of an innocent child. Not even one second of mild scolding per year of violent and ugly mistreatment.

Rowling was not into punishing her bad guys. I was of a far different mindset.

The way I saw it, I had two options. The one I was favoring was simply to use the one good, solid skill I had to erase the Dursleys' minds of who and what they were and dump them all into brand new lives, preferably in some other country.

But there were down sides to that. One was that it didn't really do much to punish them or satisfy my desire for justice. The other was that Albus was far, FAR too likely to simply find them and restore them, and if he did it was almost certain for him to recognize my wand signature, and from there cause all sorts of nasty questions and put me in a real pickle.

So, though it was my preferred way, at least until I could learn sufficient magic to turn them into whales and make them unlocatable, I could not risk it. Especially not as to fail at such an attempt would destroy me. Albus would never trust me again, and he'd make sure that I'd never come close to Harry under any circumstances whatsoever, especially not at school, so not only would I lose my new job but it would destroy any chance I had to help Harry or resolve that diary mess before it got ugly.

That left only a far more permanent solution.

I nearly shied away from it. Taking a human life something that you should never consider lightly. But all of the more mild ways of removing the family required far more magic than I had at my disposal, and even so were far too likely to be reversed by Dumbledore. Also, this had to be done quickly or the unfeeling creatures would go on to further ruin the life of Harry Potter.

And they would eventually succeed in breaking him. The Harry of the latter books was nothing like the plucky youngster who started off the series. If that were taken to be as true, then the most plausible answer for how that came about was the stresses of his miserable life finally getting to him.

The kid might cheat death and foil bad guys time and time again through lucky breaks, but he'd never had any down time to relax and unwind. He was either at home being abused by Dursleys, at school being abused by Snape or Umbridge and so on, or in danger of his life. And intermixed in all of that were the abuses and insults of Minister Fudge, the Daily Prophet, and Draco. A school full of children willing to isolate him and whisper about him being the Heir of Slytherin, or wear 'Potter Stinks' badges also hadn't helped any. And the poor guy didn't have a single friend who did not, at some point, abandon him. For that matter he didn't have all that many friends to start with.

No, that sort of pressure would break anyone sooner or later.

So, if you don't want the boy to break (and I didn't) do something to ease off the pressure. The kid needed a shelter, a safe place to consider home, and he wasn't going to get safety while he was being bounced between abusive Dursleys and the abuse he'd gone through at school.

The kid wanted a normal life? Fine. The Grangers were about as normal as you get. Spending a summer or two with them ought to do him a world of good. But to do that, the Dursleys had to be out of the picture.

No problem.

A part of me wanted to find a supply store where they sold explosives and stick a lit stick of TNT down each of the Dursleys' pants while they were bound and unconscious. But that would get everyone screaming 'murder' at the top of their lungs and that would just serve to upset everybody.

No, a little more elegance was called for.

With access to a medical supply house poisons were easy to obtain. All drugs are poisons, you just vary the dosages (some more than others). Sneak in the back door under an invisibility cloak and while wearing gloves, apply some to the meal Petunia was preparing for her family, and there you go. They got sleepy, as that was the drug I'd chosen to use, but while I could be certain that Vernon and his son had gotten lethal doses from the amount they'd eaten, I was far less sure about Petunia.

So, when she left the pair of them on the sofa, nodding off while watching TV, to go upstairs and bathe, I followed.

The woman ran herself a nice warm bath, then fell asleep in the tub. With a couple swabs of strong localized anesthetic I prepped her wrists and inner thigh, right over some major blood vessels so as not to wake her up, then slit them with a straight razor I put in her own hand so it would get her prints. The same with the pill bottles, the ones used both on her and on her family.

Group suicide. Taking the boy in was just too stressful. They couldn't bear it.

Total wand magic used: zero.

I think the thing that disturbed me most was how easy that was to do. But I consoled myself in the strong belief that many who would have died because of Harry's inadequacies now stood a much better chance to live. It was either the Dursleys or people I actually cared about. It was that simple, and once I'd thought of it on those terms I felt much better about having done it.

Though the wizarding world tried hard to ignore it, they were still at war, and by their abusing Harry as they'd done, the Dursleys had actually joined sides with Voldemort, after a fashion. Though he'd never call them his, and they'd never acknowledge him, they were doing his work in helping to destroy Harry.

Would I be willing to kill a Death Eater? Yes! Emphatically so. So why not these people who did the same kind of work on the same side for the same man?

And some of the things they'd done, lock a child in a cupboard and leave him withough food for weeks... there were places that would give them the chair for that.

It's just that Ablus would never permit that to happen.

Once things were placed on that footing I was able to absolve myself of guilt on that matter and continue on with my life.

Not far away from the house, never having taken either my invisibility cloak or my gloves off since before entering the medical supply store, I grabbed my arm, feeling a sudden pain there where I'd made the injection. On seeing that was the place hurting, I didn't doubt that something had happened and made a point of picking up some antibiotics, perhaps getting a checkup to be certain.

By then I was really looking forward to a rest anyway.


Author's Notes:

I heard this wonderful phrase. It goes like this: Feedback is the coin of the realm.

And you know what? I agree!