word spells, thoughts, and writing
'word' speaking through the medallion
Smackdown: Halliwell Style
Dumbledore checked his watch to make sure he was on time. Penny Halliwell had made it quite clear in her letter that if he was late she would not even consider allowing Harry Potter to return Hogwarts for the start of the new term and that she would be bringing charges against him and Hogwarts for allowing her great-nephew to be abducted and for placing him in extreme peril.
Dumbledore had spent most of the last month working on what he was going to say to this rather formidable woman, not to mention how he was going to protect himself from her spells, but whether or not he would be successful, all depended on her opening shot.
As he raised his hand to knock on the door, it opened and Penny Halliwell was standing there dressed in slacks, a close-fitting shirt, and what the muggles called trainers. She was clearly dressed for action.
"Come in. We have a lot to discuss." She ordered before he could greet her. Then once he was through the door, she pointed to the solarium, "in there, for you are not going to be wandering anywhere."
Dumbledore felt an invisible force surround and shove him through the open door.
"There is no need for such rough treatment, Miss Halliwell," Dumbledore protested as all the doors to the room slammed shut.
"Our opinions on that differ," Penny told him.
"Where is Harry?" Dumbledore wanted to know. "I was hoping to speak with him."
"Why would you think Harry would want to speak to his kidnapper?" Penny wanted to know. "As for where he is, he is taking care of some personal business. A friend is with him to make sure nothing happens to him."
Leo was proving to be very useful for a pacifistic Whitelighter. He had agreed to take Harry to Central Park where he was to meet Flamel and return the Philosopher's Stone to its rightful owner. Penny had insisted on that just in case someone learned that the Stone had survived and that Harry currently had it in his possession.
Refusing to let Dumbledore control the course of the conversation any longer, Penny asked. "First things first, do you have my nephew's school trunk and wand? He has been missing several things that are in it."
"Right here," Dumbledore pulled a trunk the size of a matchbox out of his pocket and then using his wand restored it to its normal size. "Harry's wand is in the trunk."
Penny opened the trunk to verify the contents were all there.
"Nothing was taken from him, madam," Dumbledore was slightly insulted that she thought he would steal from a child.
Penny ran her hand over the books looking for one in particular. The glamour that had been placed on the McIver Book of Shadows would only disappear however briefly for her touch or Harry's. When she found it, she closed the trunk and turned her attention back to Dumbledore. "You should be grateful to your phoenix. It is only because of a promise I made to him that you are still alive. I take threats to my family very seriously and it is usually fatal for the one who does bring harm to them."
"Miss Halliwell, neither I or any of my staff have in any way threatened or harmed your great-nephew." Dumbledore did a wandless trust me spell. He didn't expect it to work completely on Miss Halliwell, but he was hoping it would lessen the hostility she was displaying.
"Oh really!" The sarcasm was very plain in the woman's voice. "You seem to have a strange idea of what constitutes harm. Well, let's just examine Harry's first year at your school, shall we? Or maybe we should first discuss the spell you just tried to attack me with. The one that failed."
"I didn't attack you." Dumbledore protested.
"You cast a spell at me without my knowledge or consent." Penny countered. "That's an attack in my book." She gestured with her hand and Dumbledore suddenly found himself several feet off the ground, hanging in midair. "Now unless you tell me what it was we will see how well you can fly, because you see I only promised Fawkes, I wouldn't kill you. I said nothing about not injuring you."
Dumbledore knew from the expression on her face she was deadly serious. "It was a trust me charm. I just wanted to lessen the hostility you were feeling toward me."
"Instead you ratcheted it up a few more notches." Penny brought him back down to the ground with a thump. "I told you the day we met, I don't trust you and I never will. Let me give you a word of warning. If you're stupid enough to try and cast a spell on me again, Harry will never return to that school of yours. And I'll chuck you out the nearest window or door."
Trying for a slight change of subject, Dumbledore suggested, "Shall we discuss Harry's education?"
"Yes let's," Penny agreed with a smirk
"Harry did very well in all his subjects." Dumbledore told her. "All of his professors have commented on how eager he is to learn…"
"All except Snape, I'll bet." Penny interrupted. "I'm fairly certain he was anything but complimentary toward Harry, given that he can't let go of a grudge toward a dead man and has chosen to transfer it to his son instead. And what about your possessed Dark Arts teacher? I do have some doubt about the competency of you and your staff, given that all of you ignored the warning signs regarding Quirrell. I would have been suspicious the moment he ran in to a room full of children announcing that a Troll was loose in the castle. That should've set off all kinds of warnings for you. If he was even remotely competent as a Defense teacher, he should have been able to deal with the troll or at least contain it until more of the teaching staff could be brought in to deal with it. Instead you wind up having three eleven years deal with the troll for you after he has managed to terrify the whole school."
Before Dumbledore had a chance to open his mouth to defend himself or his teaching staff, she went on, "And while we are discussing competency, why were the traps guarding the Philosopher's Stone which were supposed to be the best available, so easy to make it past that a four eleven year olds could get by them? If that's a sign of the very best protections your staff can come up with, then goddess help your magical enclaves, because you are providing a crappy education to the children and they won't know how to defend themselves."
Dumbledore bristled. He wasn't about to let her accuse his staff of providing a shoddy education to the children to the wizarding world. "Madam, the teachers at Hogwarts are the finest that can be had."
Miss Halliwell made a noise that sounded a lot like the one time Minerva had coughed up a hairball when she was in her animagus form.
Dumbledore ignored it and went on. "The teaching staff at Hogwarts are all experts in their chosen fields of magic and many of the children who graduate from Hogwarts go on to become important contributing members of our society. I don't know why Harry and his friends took it upon themselves to go after Quirrell when that was the job of myself and the teaching staff, but what is done can not be undone."
"You weren't there that day, remember? You'd gone off on a wild goose chase to your so-called Ministry of Magic, or at least that's what you'd claimed. According to Harry, they'd tried to warn your Deputy Headmistress, but she blew off their warning because they were children and she thought children couldn't possibly know what they were talking about." Penny countered. "Not only did you deliberately endanger my nephew by keeping that Stone in the school, but all the other children as well. The traps were nowhere near as formidable as they needed to be to protect something like that. Quirrell shouldn't have been able to make it past the first one but once he did the other traps should've been much harder to get by and much more deadly but they weren't." She paused as if the thought had just occurred to her and then hissed at him, "Those traps weren't meant to protect the Stone by stopping an adult magic user, they were put in place to test Harry, don't lie to me and tell me they weren't. You wanted him to test his determination to see if he was willing to do anything to stop Quirrell and save the Stone."
"That is not true. I would never have endangered a child that way. My staff is the very best," Dumbledore told her trying to remain calm. The woman was proving to be very quick. He couldn't have her realizing that he was indeed grooming Harry to be a leader in the wizarding world one day. After he destroyed Voldemort, Harry would be considered a leader in the magical community and he must be ready to assume his place as a leader. "My staff is not made up of cursebreakers or those who place curses. I asked them to come up with traps to protect the Stone and I think they did a fine job at what I asked them to do. We needed to keep the number of people who knew the Stone was at the school to a minimum, which is why I asked for their help. It was believed that between the wards surrounding Hogwarts and those traps the Stone would be perfectly safe."
"Well it wasn't was it?" Penny commented dryly. "A group of eleven year olds got past the 'so-called' best your teachers could put up and apparently Quirrell had even less trouble than they did. Doesn't say much for their ability to protect the children in your school if their traps couldn't even stop an eleven year old."
"Madam I think you and I will continue to disagree on this until the world comes to an end." Dumbledore could see that she was not going to come around to his point of view and had no desire to continue pursuing the subject or as the muggle would say he had no desire to continue beating a dead horse. "Shall we move on?"
"With pleasure," Penny smiled, but it wasn't a reassuring smile. "I want to know why I was not informed about the attack on Harry during his first Quidditch match. I also want to know why you never saw fit to tell me about Quirrell's second attack. You know the one that put Harry into the school's infirmary for almost a week near the end of the school year. I am his legal guardian and should've been informed in both instances and yet in both instances you failed to do so. And don't tell me it was because of the distance involved, because you could've sent your phoenix with a message to let me know."
Dumbledore knew he had to be cautious here. He wasn't about to admit that he had never notified anyone's parents when they had badly injured previously, unless the incident had been spread far and wide by the students first. He always preferred to keep events at the school under his control and not have the Ministry or the Board of Governors involved. "Miss Halliwell, unless we have to take the child to St Mungos because of severe injuries, we generally don't inform the parents of every little scratch or scrape they get, or every time they get hurt in Potions class. After all children do sometimes get into fights or may hurt themselves if they are clumsy or not paying attention to what they are doing. By the time Harry woke up the school year was almost over so I saw no reason to worry you since he was going to be coming home soon anyway. As for the broom, we believed at the time it was a prank that went wrong. We have been investigating since it happened."
Penny gave Dumbledore a look that clearly said; I'm not stupid, please don't treat me as if I am or you won't like the results. "I consider a jinxed broom that nearly caused my nephew to fall off it a serious matter and I doubt any of the children who attend your school would have the skill needed to tamper with it while it was in flight. That means it was an adult and it wouldn't have taken a genius to realize that then, even if you didn't know who it was. You made no attempt to pursue the attempted murder of my nephew, why is that?"
"That is where you are wrong madam," Dumbledore disagreed. "We had been quietly investigating the matter so as not to alarm the students."
"You knew it was a deliberate attack and yet you didn't turn the matter over to whatever passes for the police in your wizard enclaves? Why?" Penny glared at him. "That still fails to explain why you didn't tell me of the attack. I should have been notified the day the attack on Harry's broom occurred."
Dumbledore said simply. "To put the attacker off-guard thinking that he or she gotten away with it. I didn't know it was Quirrell then and given the fact that you have retaliated against Professor Snape twice for perceived crimes, I wasn't going to take the risk you would lash out at all the teachers. We also wanted to avoid alarming the parents of our other students."
"That is not a good enough reason." Penny lashed out at him. "You put Harry and the other students at further risk because it is possible that Quirrell would have attacked again and this time others beside Harry might've been caught in the crossfire. Also Snape's actions warranted the punishment he got and if you were to ask any demon who is familiar with my work, I'm sure they would tell you he got off very lightly. He was only humiliated, not physically harmed. The person who tried to kill Harry once they were known would've been treated a lot differently."
Having had his point proven, Dumbledore merely said, "Thank you for proving my point. What you would've done wouldn't have been right or just."
"You think not. I suppose you would've just slapped him on the wrists and told him 'now say you're sorry' and then let him go on his merry way. That only leads to far worse crimes later one, if the person responsible gets off lightly because you refuse to see them properly punished out of a misguided sense of trying to redeem them. First you punish, then you redeem, otherwise you wind up with people like your Lord Voldemort, because you were too stupid to do what needed to be done." Penny looked thoughtful as she paced the room. "I wonder if it's possible to sue you and your staff for failing to keep me adequately apprised of what was happening to my nephew, not to mention the danger you placed him in by having an improperly guarded, highly desired, magical object in your school. I'll have to check and see about that. I wonder if the other parents might not join me in the lawsuit, once they learn of the danger you placed their children in?"
"That would not be a good idea Miss Halliwell," Dumbledore told her. "If you bring a charges or a legal suit of any kind the Ministry will get involved and the last thing Hogwarts needs is the Ministry poking its nose any further into the education that is provided to the children of magical Britain."
"While I agree that the government needs to keep its big nose out of education, how does this Ministry of yours interfering in the magical education of children in Great Britain affect me and mine?" Penny countered firmly.
"With Harry going to Hogwarts they would have some control over him and what he learns." Dumbledore pointed out, relieved that she at lest wasn't one of those who advocated more government control over children's education.
"I haven't agreed to allow Harry to go back to your school." Penny reminded him. "Your actions over this past year have not installed a lot of confidence in me that you will take proper care of Harry while he is at your school. And we haven't even begun to discuss your abduction of Harry."
"Are you accusing me or my staff of kidnapping Harry?" Dumbledore tried to sound disbelieving, as his mind was working quickly, trying to figure out how to get Harry back at Hogwarts where he belonged "I don't know where you got the idea that we had anything to do with Harry's disappearance from Platform 9 and 3/4."
"Oh I think I got the idea when your phoenix showed up shortly after Harry did," Penny commented dryly. "And according to Harry, the last place he remembers being before waking in that strange house is the Hogwarts Infirmary. So naturally you go right to the top of my list of suspects."
Dumbledore tried to look insulted. "Miss Halliwell, I had nothing to do with Harry's disappearance. I know that he left Hogwarts under his own power along with all the other students because I have a number of witnesses all of them highly reliable who will swear to it. Yes it is possible he was abducted, but it was not by anyone at Hogwarts, in fact he was last seen on Platform 9 and 3/4's at King's Cross station. It is from there he disappeared. It is possible that whoever took him modified his memory so that he thought that he was taken from Hogwarts and not somewhere else. As for why you saw Fawkes shortly after Harry got home, I asked Fawkes to see if he could locate him so we could return him to those who care about him, when I heard from the Weasley family that he'd vanished from the Platform."
"Oh please, do you think I am so stupid that I would believe no one in your school knows how to cast a glamour charm, Dumbledore?" Penny's voice never rose but there was a hint of steel in it. "While I will admit to having some enemies, if one of them had abducted Harry with the intent to use him against me or to just hold him hostage, they would have tied him up and put guards on him to stop him from escaping. There was no one guarding him. He was taken with the sole purpose of keeping him from returning to his family. What were you hoping for that he would agree to stay there and forget those who love him and are a family to him, well you would've hoped in vain. Even if he hadn't gotten away, he would've spent every waking moment trying to."
"Believe what you wish madam," Dumbledore was certain that she was wrong. Young Harry would've come around. Once he knew how much he was needed by the Wizarding world, Dumbledore was certain he would've done his duty and agreed to stay. "I doubt I could convince you that we had nothing to do with what happened to young Harry. What I want to know is what will it take to convince you to allow Harry to return to Hogwarts where he belongs."
"He doesn't belong at Hogwarts." Penny disagreed. "He belongs with his family and his family consists of the girls and I. As for my price," Penny pulled a folded piece of parchment out of her pocket. "I had the goblins draw up a magically binding code of conduct for you. Read and sign it, with your full and correct name and be assured I know what it is because the goblins told me. You will also swear an Unbreakable Vow to alert me any time my nephew winds up in your infirmary, is in danger, to not through your own actions place him in danger again, or to try take him away from his family."
"And if I refuse?" Dumbledore wanted to know.
"Then my nephew will never set foot in your school again and if you or anyone in your wizarding community tries to take him, then you will gain me as an enemy and believe me, you don't want me as an enemy." Penny told him simply. "I believe in the scorched earth policy when it comes to threats toward my family."
Dumbledore stared at her for several minutes and she met his gaze. He was unable to get into her mind to see just how far she was willing to go. Finally he conceded he had lost this battle. He would not be able to separate Harry from the Halliwell witch, at least not right now. But there was nothing in her terms so far that precluded Harry choosing to stay in the Wizarding World on his own. He nodded in agreement with the Halliwell woman's terms and his agile mind started working on a way to convince Harry to stay of his own free will.
FINALLY! It's done! Bunnie is collapsed in a corner having finished delivering its magnum opus. I hope you enjoyed it. The sequel will not be out any time soon, because I am going to try and get Wizard of Goa'uld back on track. That's a Highlander/SG1 story. Next story to be updated though will be Wiccan Wizard.