DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: TRANSITIONS
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15th, 1991 – THE LEAKY CAULDRON, DIAGON ALLEY, LONDON, U.K.
Dumbledore was unaware of just how well informed and crafty this new opposition was - for that's what he considered it. Harry and the others were never about to reveal the existence of Harry's other self - Sensei. But, over the years they were able to independently verify all of Sensei's information through the Potter and Black family journals (and a few others), Ministry records and access to the Department of Mysteries. Harry and the others would say this gave them "plausible deniability" of a sort. They knew the truth as it existed until now through means which would be considered highly questionable at best, but they were able to verify through sources that were perfectly acceptable if not generally accessible. Dumbledore, of course, was unaware of any of this. He had been thoroughly and expertly outmaneuvered.
They knew about the Horcruxes! They had found two of them! One was arguably by accident for a former Death Eater - Regulus Black of all people - had betrayed his Dark Lord and stolen it at the ultimate cost of his life. It had been left in a Black property for years before Harry and the others found it and destroyed it. The other, he was told, was found through diligent research into genealogies. McGonagall, of all people, had told Harry and Hermione of their birthrights and had encouraged them to research it! (At least, that was the cover story.) Through the children's research in the Ministry Archives, they learned of Luna and that Harry was also the Magical Heir of Slytherin and who Voldemort really was. They had gone to a town called Little Hangleton in search of Tom Riddle's history and wound up finding a second Horcrux and destroying it as well. If he ever had time he wanted to check out their story although it was not as if he didn't believe them. They were surprisingly convincing.
He was certain they knew more than they were telling him. He was also certain they did not trust him at all. This was disappointing, but there was little he could do about it at this time given the current situation in the Wizengamot which was dominating most of his time, thoughts and energy. Until there was a new Minister for Magic, all other functions of the Wizengamot were suspended. They could not legislate nor hear any cases as a Court. The Court prohibition was not absolute as it was possible that some fool might commit a capital offense which had to be tried. But that had not happened yet. The legislative prohibition was absolute and propriety and custom required that the Members refrain from any discussion of any possible legislative initiatives pending or to be proposed to keep such things out of the discussions about a new Minister.
His gut reaction to learning that Harry had attended a foreign school would have been to use his position in the Wizengamot to prevent others from doing so. He was also certain such a measure would fail. Minerva had briefed him about the Club after his meeting with Harry although that had felt more like a meeting before Harry and his cohorts. The truth was, the Club was too large, involved far too many, and was supported by far too much influence to be stopped by the government - not unless that government wished to avoid a vote of no confidence. Eight of the twelve Ancient and Noble Houses were behind the Club and all but one had children who were members (and that one was House Black which considered Harry one of their own!). That was a voting block no one could ignore and it was a pity Dumbledore could not get such a block behind an acceptable candidate for Minister, or at least one he considered acceptable.
Walter Fudge was the one he wanted. True, this Fudge was not his first choice. The man's older brother had been, but a Fudge was a Fudge in Dumbledore's opinion. They were ambitious, yet not terribly skilled or shrewd, meaning they could both be handled if one did so with a velvet glove as it were. The older one would've been easier, but the younger one lacked any sense of self or independence as well and would, in Dumbledore's mind, make a good Minister. Merlin knew Bagnold had been a handful for him. He really loathed a bureaucrat with both brains and a backbone. But the Fudge family's ambitions seemed to fade every day. Somewhere out there was a wild card, someone he could not foresee and had less chance of steering in the right path and the way things were going, it would be that wild card who would control the hand. It was infuriating. Add to this the revelations about the Founders' Heirs - and this assumed it remained quite - and thing were about to get most difficult.
He couldn't worry about Harry and the others for now. For now, there was nothing to do about it unless he wished to leave the country without a Chief Warlock as well. He just had to hope this recent revelation would be - as such things had been in his experience - much ado about nothing in the end.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16th, 1991 – HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, SCOTLAND U.K.
"The Wizarding Wireless Network now takes you to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland for our next broadcast," a calm and boring voice said.
"Welcome to Hogwarts, Britain!" a much brighter and excited voice exclaimed, "I'm Lee Jordan, a student at Hogwarts here in balmy Scotland," he added with more than a hint of sarcasm, "and this is my co-commentator for today!"
"Hello Britain and our friends! I am Adrian Jones from St. George's School for Magical Studies in or near London… We're not allowed to say where we really are, you know. With Lee here, we're to broadcast live the first of this seasons Senior Matches of W.I.S.E. League Quidditch! Today, the Hogwarts Dragons face off against the Knights of St. George! So Lee, do you think the Knights will slay the Dragons or get eaten by them?"
"Hogwarts as been the dominant team in the Junior League these past two years," Lee said. "Bad luck cost us one Championship. Many of our previous Juniors are on this year's team and while we have been competitive at the Senior level, maybe now we'll break through! But there're matches to play and this is the first one, Adrian. I predict a Dragon feeding today, but I am biased!"
"And I predict a Dragon slaying by our Knights who're no slouches either, but that's just me," Adrian replied. "Right then, I think we should explain to those listeners out their not familiar with our League what they will hear, don't you?"
"Right you are, Adrian!" Lee exclaimed. "The W.I.S.E. League was formed two years ago. It's actually two Leagues. There are the Juniors, who are all under the age of twelve, and the Seniors who are all eleven or older. Players are from all of the six schools and six school communities and the fast track to the Seniors is through the Juniors. For the last two years, the Leagues played on a neutral pitch and the Juniors still do. But this Season, the Schools agreed to play at the schools for our Senior League."
"Hogwarts and St. George have been rivals since the first season," Adrian added. "Friendly rivals, but rivals nonetheless. That's not to say we don't consider the other schools as rivals, but this match up always has led to a well played game! There're certain rule changes those Quidditch fans who've not been to our League matches should be aware of, don't you think?"
Lee Jordan then explained the new rules for this was, after all, the pre-game show. He explained about the time limit, two now ninety minute periods. He explained the liberal substitution rules and about the notion of "Line Changes." Seekers could be changed out at the end of a period or upon incapacitating injury. Chasers and Beaters could be changed out at any time provided the new player waited until the former player had landed to take off. Keepers could be changed out only at the end of a period, upon injury or when their team was allowed a penalty shot against the other team's Keeper. The new rules required a traditional Quidditch Team (Seeker, Keeper, two Beaters and three Chasers) to start each period, but after that Beaters could be pulled in favor of one or even two more Chasers. Then there were the penalties. There was no change in what they were or that the penalized team had to defend a penalty shot, but there were now three "Levels" of penalties. Level One resulted in a penalty shot. Level Two saw the offending player sit for four minutes and his team had to play a man down at that position for the duration. A Level Three penalty saw the offending player ejected for the remainder of the match and his team had to play a man down at that position for the rest of the game.
"Because of these rules," Lee continued, "as often as not at this level the game ends before the Snitch is caught. This places far more emphasis on the play of the other six players and the skills of the coach during the match," he concluded. "Makes for a far more exciting game in many opinions."
"And the benches take the field!" Adrian then called out as several player flew on to the pitch and circled it twice before landing and taking their seats on benches at the side of the pitch.
"And now for the starting lines," Lee continued. The Knights were introduced first. "And now, the Hogwarts Dragons! "At Keeper and Captain and Coach, Fifth Year Oliver Wood!" Of course, Oliver was not a true Fifth Year having done a summer in Japan and having taken his N.E.W.T.s. "At Beater, Fourth Year Justin Abbott!" who was another Club Member with two summers under his belt. "At Beater and his First Year in W.I.S.E. League, Third Year Horace Montegue! At Chaser, Fourth Year Cedric Diggory! At Chaser, Second Year Cho Chang! At Chaser, Fifth Year Olivia Adair! And last, at Seeker First Year Harry Potter!"
"Potter was arguably the best Seeker the last two years in Juniors," Adrian commented just before the game began.
Far to the south in London, Luna Jones was listening to the match in her flat on the Wizarding Wireless. This was another departure from what should have happened. Either that or Father failed to mention this particular development. He did tell her and Neville about Quidditch, but his stories were all about the Hogwarts team he played on as a student and those matches as well as the professional leagues he knew about, not this new league. It would have been important to know of this league had it existed so she figured the reason why it was not mentioned was because it had not existed in her timeline.
At the Leaky Cauldron, another man was listening to the match. He was unaware of the timeline changes but was almost as shocked by this development as Luna had been. McGonagall must have gone around his back to set this up for he would never have approved of such nonsense. It wasn't just that there were students from another magical school playing Quidditch at Hogwarts. Dumbledore actually had little issue with that in some ways. It was the fact that there were over 200 St. George's students in the stands and thousands of parents and younger children he would never have approved of allowing admission to the school grounds! There were even said to be Muggles! But there wasn't anything he could do about it at least not while under the sequestration…
In Holyhead, Wales, there were others listening to this match. One of whom was Gwenog Jones, the Captain of the all witch Holyhead Harpies. She was amazed just listening to this form of Quidditch! She was a Chaser herself and felt the game was far too often a spectacle while the Seekers sought the Snitch. But she loved it anyway.
Here was a new form of Quidditch! One where all seven players on the pitch would or could be important in the end! While the Seekers could still decide the game, with only an hour and a half to play she knew in most cases they would not and these Seekers played like they knew that. Yes, there were the usual feints as one Seeker tried to get the other to commit for a chase towards a non-existent Snitch. Yes, they still tended to patrol the pitch at altitude to avoid Bludgers and focus on their singular task. But these Seekers had more up their robes. There was something called the "Seeker Option." It was a risky play, where the seeker would enter play as a fourth Chaser either on offense or defense at his option to help his team. It was risky because that Seeker was not truly searching for the Snitch while he did so. But she knew the game and knew that most times such a risk would not lose the match. Then there was the "Potter Feint," which was nothing more than a feint, but was done when the opposing Seeker was on his Option to get him to break off and chase nothing. Include the line changes and such, a large change out requiring the Seeker to break off his search and play defense until the new line was in the air, and it made for an exciting match!
"And the First Period ends with the game tied at 120 each!" Lee Jordan commented.
"We've seen great play on both sides thus far," Adrian added.
"And, as we know, the First Period is to probe for weaknesses," Lee said. "Unless the Snitch is caught, of course."
"We can expect to see interesting line up changes, Line Changes and such as the next period progresses as each team has had ninety minutes to size up the other…"
Gwenog and many others were literally hanging on to their seats for the next period as the play, as frenetic as it had seemed before, now became more so. Teams pulled their beaters and put five chasers on the pitch - allowed under these rules - on offense and then pulled the spares and put the Beaters back in on defense when they could. She didn't know whether the Keeper play was so good because of the age of the players or because it was actually better, but there were Keeper change outs after the few penalties were called. A First Year named Ron Weasley went in for Wood after St. George's was penalized for interference. He was in for half the period and went 16 and one, sixteen saves for one score!
"Three minutes left to play," Lee said, "and it's still anyone's game. Score stands at 160 to 150 in favor of the Hogwarts Dragons."
"The Knights score on a wicked offhand shot by Jepsom, tying the match!" Adrian said. "Hogwarts back in possession. Pass to Seeker Potter and… It's a Full Line Change! Potter holds the Quaffle as the Chasers land and in are…"
"The Flying Foxes of Gryffindor!" Lee exclaimed.
"Mr. Jordan!" a voice called in.
"Sorry, Professor, but they all have serious hotness potential! Each as seen time this game, but not as a unit. Spinet, Johnson and Bell! Potter passes the Quaffle to Bell and the Chasers are moving down the pitch…"
"Johnson scores giving the Dragons a twenty point edge. Quaffle to Carter of the Knights as the Knights fly down the pitch… Potter dives!" Adrian said. "Another feint I should think as Bellows is not chasing."
"It's not a feint!" Lee said. "Potter sees the Snitch! Bellows finally sees the situation and is diving in to try and get there or break Potter off and… POTTER HAS IT! HOGWARTS WINS! One twenty-nine remains on the clock and the game is over! Hogwarts 320, St. George's 150! It seems the Dragon ate the Knight after all…"
While certain Quidditch purists, such as Dumbledore and a few others, considered this new version an abomination, Gwenog Jones was not among them. These were rule changes that made sense. She could hear the crowd of thousands cheering or groaning at every Keeper save, every score and every Bludger hit. Not once was there the polite applause she was used to at the Professional levels. The Wireless never truly did the game justice and she was sure, even though she was on the edge of her seat, this one did not as well. The announcers told the listeners about the remaining schedule for the W.I.S.E. League Seniors and the next match would be the following Saturday at St. Alban's, not far from where she lived. She was a Hogwarts student in her youth, but St. Alban's against Perkins Academy would be in her magical neighborhood and, as she was now between seasons, she was determined to be at that game to see this style of Quidditch. She was hardly the only player in the League who was having similar thoughts that day.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 1991 – HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, SCOTLAND U.K.
Draco Malfoy sat at Breakfast. He could have cared less about this abomination of Quidditch that had transpired a couple of days ago, especially when he learned there were filthy Muggles of all things in attendance at the Match. He wasn't so insular to think that there weren't any Muggles who were not ignorant of magic. But he felt filthy by being forced to attend a match with Muggles, even if there were none anywhere near him. This had to be Dumbledore's fault! The man was, as his Father had told him over and over again, the worst thing that had ever been visited upon Hogwarts or Magical Britain and Draco never had reason to doubt his Father. Not even his Father's current incarceration in Azkaban changed that. After all, it was only a short sentence which meant his Father would probably be out before Draco finished First Year, or not long thereafter.
"Schedule change," a voice said.
Draco looked and saw a parchment before him. It was being handed to him by Professor Snape.
"Sir?" he asked.
"Schedule change," Snape said. "It seems many of your classmates are years ahead of you. All remaining First Years are now in one class, Mr. Malfoy."
Draco looked at the new table in the Great Hall. He didn't bother to count. It seemed that table was as large now as any of the remaining four and none of the students there were in Hogwarts robes or uniforms. They all had their own. He wondered what that was about as he accepted his new class schedule. His first class was Defense Against the Dark Arts. He thought it was a rubbish course. True, Professor Quirrell had been about the worst teacher at the school, but why would anyone want to fight the Dark Arts?
"Thank you, Sir," Draco grumbled. He looked at the schedule and saw his first class was now Defense Against the Dark Arts with a "Professor per the class schedule," whatever that met. The other thing he noted was that the class was not designated to be with another House. In fact none of the classes appeared to be scheduled with any other House. He leaned over to Crabbe and Goyle who sat across from him and said: "They finally did something at this place right; no more classes with the Duffers, Losers or Bookworms!"
But he was wrong. There were eighteen students in the classroom including himself. Six were from Slytherin and another six from Ravenclaw, five from Hufflepuff and there was one lone Gryffindor in the room.
"Guess they finally got around to expelling all the Mudbloods and Bloodtraitors," Malfoy sneered a little too loudly as it turned out.
"Hey!" several voices replied for there were in fact seven Muggle Borns in the class.
"That will be five points from Slytherin for speaking in class without having been called upon first," a voice said and they all saw Professor McGonagall standing at the front of the classroom, "another five for commenting openly upon something other than the course material, another five for being either blind or an idiot or both and finally five points each for each and every resident of Hogwarts you've just insulted Mr. Malfoy! That's five hundred and twenty points on your ledger. I'm sure your Head of House will be pleased that in addition to ensuring Slytherin finishes dead last this year in the House Cup competition, it will be lucky not to do so next year as well."
"When my father hears about this…," Mafloy began.
"Ten more points for speaking out of turn," Professor McGonagall said. "I would suggest when you have the chance you learn the silencing spell and use it on that mouth of yours, assuming you're not expelled for misconduct first."
Malfoy did not respond. He was certain that Professor Snape would set things to right.
"Now," McGonagall continued, "first off, I am not taking over this course. I am here in my capacity as Acting Headmistress. I am sure you all have noted the changes to your schedules and the fact that there are seventeen of you from all four Houses in this class and I am sure the Hogwarts rumor mill has been spilling stories since the unfortunate demise of Professor Quirrell. Rest assured, many of the rumors I am aware of are quite untrue. There are, however, a few that are close to the mark; but I will not bore you with the details.
"You seventeen are all that's truly left of the First Year Class and no, contrary to Mr. Malfoy's foolish hopes, the rest have not been expelled."
"Professor?" a voice asked. It was Pansy Parkinson whose hand was raised at the time. "What happened to the others?"
"Nothing untoward, Miss Parkinson," Professor McGonagall replied. "They're still here. Our law requires a student to attend a school at least until they've taken their O.W.L.s and attained the age of sixteen. The rest of your classmates have attended a magical school overseas and have attained their O.W.L.s in our core subjects and a fair few electives as well. It is unfair to you to have you compete against them for marks so they will be attending separate classes."
"But how is that possible, Professor?" another student asked with his hand raised. "There our age!"
"Here in Europe, magical education begins at age eleven," McGonagall replied. "But it's not the same everywhere. There are countries where it begins as early as age six…"
"Still," he continued, "that'd make them Fifth Years, unless O.W.L.s are offered earlier."
"How many of you are familiar with the Time Chamber scandal?"
A few hands went up.
"Ma'am," Pansy said, "you mean the scandal about young witches having children they don't remember while at school?"
"My Mum worries about that," Pansy continued. "She worries if she has a child or children she doesn't remember and worries if it will happen to me one day…"
"There are other uses for Time Magics such as that aside from hiding an underage pregnancy and illegitimate children. Estimates are that perhaps as many as half the Muggle Borns are not. They are children of the Time Chamber born to magical parents and, by law, this could've given them legal inheritance rights had they been born normally and acknowledged and it does give them magical heir rights should they claim them. But Time Magics can be used for other purposes - such as pursuing an education when you are still young. The school your other classmates attended uses that same magic to better purpose. Eighteen have their O.W.L.s through that school and the other six their N.E.W.T.s and at least two Masteries, not to mention their non-magical degrees. Seven of the young people in this room will not be with us in classes next year for they too will have gone to that school."
"And why am I not one of them?" Malfoy asked.
"Five more points, Mr. Malfoy!"
"Unless Madam Pomfrey tenders me a note explaining why you can't raise your hand…
"The reason that the remaining ten of you have yet to receive an invitation is that you're still under evaluation if you have not yet been rejected outright. I can assure you, Mr. Malfoy, that unless you practically disown your father and forget everything he has taught you, you are and will remain rejected! Like Mr. Malfoy, there are those among you from Death Eater families and that alone is why you have yet to be approached. Any who believe in that philosophy will never be approached. The reason is simple. You won't last a term at that school. Your attitude about ancestry will see you expelled. And, at 25,000 galleons per year … well, that attitude is a waste of the program's time and resources. As for you others, that school is hard work and requires drive and ambition and a willingness to cooperate with others of any ancestry. You're being watched and may in the next couple of years be deemed acceptable but for now … you're not there yet."
McGonagall knew the truth. Of the ten, only two or three had even an outside shot. The rest were too connected with the Pureblood Supremacy or lacked even a modicum of intellect or drive. Wayne Hopkins of Hufflepuff was a maybe for now as was Kevin Entwistle of Ravenclaw. Pansy Parkinson suffered from her betrothal to Malfoy and so long as she remained betrothed, she was out. That she'd been distancing herself from him practically since the first day of school stood in her favor, but the betrothal remained an impediment.
"But this isn't about that," McGonagall said. "For now, you are all First Years and must take the courses required. You will be attending all First Year classes together. As for Defense Against the Dark Arts, you will have several new Professors and before any of you even think of expressing an opinion where I can deduct points…," she added glaring at Malfoy, "they have full authority to do that and assign detentions for any inappropriate behavior in class, any disrespect outside of class and any violation of school rules they witness. All have Defense Masteries…"
"Professor?" Pansy asked with her hand raised. "But who grades our assignments?"
"The Professor who assigns graded homework or in class assignments grades them in accordance with British standards. Your major exams will be marked and evaluated by your Year's lead Professor which is Professor Tonks. The others are Professors Potter, Granger, Jameson, Lovegood, Longbottom, Bones, Adair, Clearwater and the three older Weasley brothers…"
"That's just great," Malfoy moaned.
"Five more points, Mister Malfoy! And a month's detention with Mr. Filtch!"
"My father…," he began.
"Five more and another month! You're father was convicted of an attempted attack upon the Head of an Ancient and Noble House and not just any House - your House! The French upstart is in Prison and if you think he will leave prison with any influence at all in this world, you're sorely mistaken. The only reason you're not an orphan right now is your mother has not yet chosen to seek her Head of House for an annulment. But get this through your head; Lord Black is confident she will once that beast you call a father is released! Now shut your mouth and keep it shut! You're getting perilously close to expulsion, Mr. Malfoy! And if you think there's a magical school in this world that would accept anyone expelled for misconduct, you are sorely mistaken!
"I now turn the class over to Professor Tonks."
Dora entered and wrote her name on the blackboard. "I hate to say this," she said, "but we begin with a quiz."
There were groans.
"Given the instability and - at least this last year for certain - quality of the Professors who came before me, we need to ascertain whether you are where you should be in the basic materials. This quiz will not affect your final marks, but it will determine how hard and intense this class will be. Do your best and there'll be less work for you than if you skive this off!"
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd, 1991 – HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, SCOTLAND U.K.
"These results are disappointing," Harry said looking out over the conference room. With him were all the Watanabe Defense Masters and Professor McGonagall. "Good news is - if you call it good news - the upper year Defense students are on average above the national average for their prior years. The bad news is - as I'm sure you're all aware - it seems the last few months were a waste of their time. Despite the high turnover in Defense Professors, the upper years were on track until this year. But Quirrell was, apparently, incompetent and all years are suffering from his incompetence unless I misread these results…"
"You haven't," several voices said.
Harry nodded. "Recommendations?"
"Pile on the homework," Hermione said, "at least on the theory side to get them caught up."
"An idea, but they have other courses as well. Spread it out, I should think. We have 'til June to get them caught up and even then it's the ones sitting for their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s who need that intensive workload. But what about the Thirds and above where spell casting is involved? Homework and papers won't help them."
"A spell casting class?" Neville suggested. "Add it to their other classes and focus on the spells. Two theory classes a week and then spell casting; that could work."
Harry nodded. "More work for us, but then again this is what is expected from a Mastery."
"We could get our own O.W.L.s recipients involved as assistants for the Fifth Years and below," Hermione suggested. "We have more than enough to help them and our new members."
"Volunteers only," Harry nodded. "But that would help."
"I'll work out the schedules," Hermione volunteered.
"Naturally," Harry quipped getting a slight pout from Hermione and chuckles from the others. She was famous for her schedules.
McGonagall watched on. This was so different than a meeting with her staff or her one-on-ones with Professors. These "kids" were professional and focused on their task. Under Dumbledore, it may have taken weeks to accomplish what they had to fix this problem and they did it in a matter of days - less the scheduling and volunteers, of course. She had seen this in staff meetings at the Watanabe School and now she was seeing it here. She couldn't be prouder of these young people.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd, 1991 – HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, SCOTLAND U.K.
"It's been a while, Sensei," Harry said. He was in a flat in the new "Club" Wing he shared with his sister Clarice and Hermione, just has they had in Japan.
"I've been watching," Sensei said. The far, far older of Harry from another future looked at Harry and the other two. "You've had an interesting few weeks."
"Putting it mildly as usual," Clarice said.
"How's the Timeline?" Hermione asked.
"From my perspective, it's totally messed up," Sensei grinned. "But how that fits into the big temporal picture is still an open question. You got rid of Quirrell without truly revealing yourselves and your abilities and, more importantly, Harry's unique power over Voldemort for now. That may be an advantage of some magnitude later and it may not be. I can't say. I can say this: he will discount your educations if he learns of it. He places little stock in it to be honest and less in any witches and wizards who'd sink - in his opinion - to study Muggle things."
"Tsun Tsu wrote of many things," Harry said with a nod, "and to sum him up is never underestimate your enemy or overestimate yourself."
"A lesson, in my time, Voldemort never really learned and you've deprived him of one big hint," Sensei smiled. "He does not know he can't touch Harry or any protected by love magics…"
"So the desecration of his father's grave?" Hermione began.
"As you should know, that ritual did not require Harry's blood. Any blood of an enemy would work. I sense it still upsets you, Hermione. I sense it still bothers you that those graves were dug up and the remains burned in that fire which consumed Tom Riddle's father's home. As you should know, that ritual is gone to him. It always will be. But as you also know, it was never the only way he could come back. I asked you to walk this path so you would be better prepared when the time came than I was, than my Hermione was and certainly than my sister ever was. I am proud of you thus far, yet in some ways thus far you've not been tested. Despite what you think, Hermione, the burning of Riddle Manor with the remains of the Riddle ancestors was a plan. You now need to learn to use your knowledge and skills to act when plans cannot be formed. Fortunately, you have time."
"What are you talking about, Sensei?" Hermione asked.
"You will not always have the chances you've had to think things through in advance and plot and plan in advance. Things will happen. Things will happen that did not happen to me in my time. Things will now happen where I can't tell you of the outcome, only advise. And things may still well happen where I won't even have the time to do that. Sometimes, you can only just rely upon your training and education and just act and not think about it. I was an actor, not a thinker - not until much, much later in life. My Hermione was a thinker and not an actor - not much although she was no slouch in that regard when it mattered. It got us into trouble more times than I care to recall. You should be both. You should think when there's time to and act when there's not and in the latter trust in your skills and those who are with you. But, it would seem, there's still time to think before acting."
"Long ago you told us we needed to think before acting and learn critical reasoning skills," Hermione countered.
"Yes I did and you should whenever you can. But there will be times when you can't and you have to rely upon your education and training to make decisions without time to reflect upon the possibilities. The three of you currently do that in dueling and sparring. This is the same sort of thing, really."
"What is?" Harry asked. "What've we missed?"
"You now have spare time on your hands and have had such time for a week…"
"We've had to prepare for the defense classes," Hermione began.
"You're not the only three professors in that course," Sensei said. "The other Defense Masters have taught as well so you can delegate to them, can't you?"
The three nodded.
"Still, what have we missed?"
"Quirrell is gone well before he was in my timeline," Sensei said. "You're secret is out at least at this school. What have you done about the Horcruxes that are here?"
"We have time, Sensei," Clarice said calmly. "They are on our list of things to do this year. The Ravenclaw piece should prove easy enough, another destroy in place situation once we find it. The Gryffindor piece … well that one will require some planning considering there's a ruddy great basilisk down there. Higher on our list, however, is finding the Founders' Tower. We haven't yet as you know."
"It's not here at Hogwarts, that's for certain," Harry added.
"And why is that a higher priority?" Sensei asked.
"The tower is the key to the control of this valley and whatever else fell within the boundaries of the former domain of the Founders," Hermione replied. "We believe Hogwarts was always just a school and not a seat of a government however small that government was or its country. We're certain the Tower is not here."
"Ron had some interesting opinions on that when it was brought up a few days ago," Clarice said. "While he's willing to believe that Hogwarts was always a fortress of some kind, the Hogwarts we know is not the original one. It's probably built over or incorporates the original, but this castle probably dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century, he says."
"Oh?" Sensei asked.
"Fortification back when Hogwarts was founded were typically wooden palisades. The better built ones might include a stone Keep built upon a hill called a Bailey at the base of which would be a ditch called a Mot. The Keep was the final defense. The outer defense was a wooden palisade. All Stone fortifications did not begin to be built until after the Norman Conquest. Ron says the architecture we see here is such that much of it was built centuries later. Prior to then, the students may have lived in wooden houses or stone ones not unlike Hagrids and attended classes most likely in a wooden Great Hall. There's no evidence that the magicals were ahead of the Muggles when it came to such things. Most stone work at the time was either reserved for churches or low walls about fields. That and he says that as a fortification, Hogwarts is not a great one. The curtain walls are too thin, really and three quarters of the circumference are easily accessible to troops with scaling ladders or siege engines. Magic might protect it from Muggles, but not from wizards.
"Ron believes that the Tower is a watch tower probably built of stone. There probably was a Great Hall at its base which served as the Founders' Seat of Governance. But as the tower was a watch tower, it's probably not here in the valley but upon one of the ridges either to our north or south. It would have been placed to give a commanding view of not just this valley but the rest of their realm as this valley is probably less than half of that former realm. It would also be very difficult to attack and impossible to do so with siege engines."
"That is surprisingly logical," Sensei said. "In my time, Ron Weasley was not known for such things, certainly not at this age."
"He did very well at school thus far. Not that it was easy for him or anything," Harry said.
"And does he have a suggestion for finding the tower?" Sensei asked.
"Survey teams," Harry replied. "We all got some time on our hands now that we're excused from normal classes. He may lead one or two, but he and his brothers are setting up the teams. At the very least and if we don't accomplish anything else from this, we'll get good maps of this valley and the valleys to our north and south. It seems like a good idea to us."
Sensei nodded for it was, in fact, success or failure as far as the tower was concerned, a very good idea.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25th, 1991 – LITTLE WHINGING, SURRY, U.K.
The young man didn't know his true age. He knew he was in his mid twenties or so at least. He had been apprenticed to the only man he considered his father ever since the world ended and for him that was twenty or so years ago and he had been a young boy at that time, seven at best but probably younger. Prior to meeting the man he saw as his father, he had been a slave. His name, the only one he remembered before his father gave him one of his one, was "Boy." He did chores and whatever else his Master and Mistress asked and was beaten if he failed. Then that terrible day came and the world as he knew it ended. He was inside cleaning when it happened. There was the blinding flash of light outside and a wave of heat. The windows of the house literally melted. He ducked as the blast wave hit and the house was utterly destroyed. When it was over, a large, odd cloud rose above and it mesmerized him when he stood and looked. Then he saw the rest of the world as he knew it and it was all gone. What few trees remained standing were burning. Every other house in the area was gone - flattened in the blast. He could see nothing alive other than himself.
There was nothing for it, he knew he had to get out of here. He walked away from that world. Along the way, he met only one other person. She was a girl about his age whose name was "Girl." Like him, she was a slave and somehow survived whatever had happened and together they walked towards the distant hills which were still green and not burning like everything else. They saw no one else who was alive. After a few hours he and the girl reached the distant green hills and found some water and continued on. It was near the top of one such hill they found an old many who was crying. He looked uninjured.
The old man would become "Father" to them or "Curator" later when they became his true assistants. Through Father, they learned to read and write and do maths and later magic. They were a young witch and wizard enslaved by the non-magicals when they were too young to remember following a prior war. Father had lost everyone he had ever cared about over decades of wars, but took them in, cared for them, gave them their names and trained them.
His new name was Neville Jones. Someone named Neville had been his Father's true friend who had been killed in a prior war. The girl was now Luna Jones named after another dead friend of Father's. They went with him because there was no one else and nowhere else to go. Neville never regretted that choice. About eight years later, Father caught Neville and Luna having sex. He told them not to worry. They might be all that's left of the human race so why not enjoy some happiness. Neville and Luna loved each other with all their hearts and were more than willing to have children together, but how can you rebuild a species with just two people?
Father's project was to get around the limits of time to somehow sent information back to his prior self decades and decades ago and somehow prevent their future from happening. His first plan had failed, so he now looked to the two he considered his son and daughter to carry out the second. They would be sent back to a time long before they were even born to try and prevent the future they knew. They had a plan where if they both made it back they could find each other at the very least and have for at least fifty years a life together even if their mission failed. Father was happy with that. Neville went first.
He now stood at an empty lot looking over what should have been his target destination. He had learned from a neighbor that the place had burned down three years ago but while he knew this was the fate of the place, he also knew the real date and knew that this place was not supposed to be destroyed for another several years. He now looked to see if his Luna had made it back. He detected her unique magical signature and followed it. He was quite aware that Father's technique lacked "temporal accuracy." He found the spot and dug with his hands.
"What are you doing?" a voice called out and he saw an older woman who was probably a neighbor.
"Sorry, Ma'am," he replied as he found a box. "It's a bit of a game - a treasure hunt and this is my next clue!"
"Young people!" she huffed and walked off.
He opened the box and inside was a parchment. It was written in a code he and his Luna had came up with when they were much younger. It was dated two days ago.
Neville, My Love:
As you know, this is a self updating parchment which updates every few days. I've been here for a few months and know that somehow, despite leaving our time about six months after you, I got here first. I truly hope it's because of the temporal inaccuracy. I don't want to think that I may have lost you.
As you can see, things are changed. Number Four burned down three years or more before I arrived and the Dursleys are dead. Our target is alive and well at Hogwarts, but something has happened to this time that did not happen before. Perhaps it's Father? I don't know. I've been researching, but…
I live at Flat 44B Diagon Alley London. If you're reading this, please come home to me!
I love you with all my heart and have since we were little.
Come to me, my Love,