The books were right; Mountain Trolls are big, strong, ugly, and stupid. They were also, from the level of power I was working from now, practically toys to beat on. It was Halloween, and I was practically itching for a fight; knowing what was to come, I had stealthily followed Quirrel down out of the castle, to the edge of the frobidden forest, where he'd triggered some sort of magical item, and a couple minutes later a Troll hulked out of the forest, then followed him into the school. Once Quirrel was gone, I immediately revealed myself, to either talk it down or kick it's ass.
It immediately attacked, so I chose the second option. It's opening club-swing flashed past me, slamming into the stone corridor wall, knocking chips of stone and wood flying. I retaliated by shifting form to Hybrid, casting haste, and clawing the hell out of its chest. It made clumsy attempts at warding me off by swinging at me wildly with its club, but I just ducked out of the way as it began to scream in pain. A few more slashes with my claws later, and its scream cut off as as I tore its throat out, and it gurgled and died.
Hm. That was kind of dissapointing. +1155 XP. Definitely dissapointing. Oh well, there were other ways to get satisfaction out of this little escapade. I was expecting more of a fight, or maybe even a Troll that required fire or acid damage to kill. War Trolls are pretty badass. Shrugging, I grabbed the thing with one arm, then with a grunt, rolled over and pulled it with me, so that it was slung across my back as I stood on all fours, then shifted back to Dire Wolf form, and headed off after Quirrel, calculating my timing for best effect.
"Troll! In the Dungeons! Thought you ought to know..." Quirrel collapsed.
Minerva McGonagall was on her feet immediately, wand in hand, calculating the best way to guard her students and organize a search and removal party simultaneously. Pandemonium ensued amongst the students, yelling, shouting, panic, some students jumping up and moving to flee the Great Hall. Dumbledore flicked his wand, and a sound like a thundercrack rent the air.
"Please remain calm," He commanded sternly, "If Prefects will..."
Dumbledore trailed off as a large Mountain Troll slid into the Great Hall, and then was dropped onto the floor beside Quirrel's unconscious body by the large, black form of Boss. Troll blood began rapidly pooling around the Canid and two bodies as Boss calmly surveyed the hall, then trotted over towards Harry and Hermione at the Hufflepuff table. After a moment, Hermione stood and faced Pomona Sprout.
"Professor," Hermione said, "Boss has Troll funk all over him, and wants to go take a bath. May we be excused?"
Pomona blinked, thought for a moment.
"Of course dear," She said, "I'll come with and help."
"No," Sirius said into the phone, "Lost him again."
"Yes, Jaquelyn," He said with no small amount of irritation, "We are eating decently."
"Fine, I'll put Moony on."
"Hello Mrs. Gates," Lupin said pleasantly into the phone, not not looking up from cleaning his shotgun.
"Yes," He said, "I've been keeping him from eating like a bachelor, despite his status as one."
"Yes, I'll keep him from doing something stupid and getting himself killed." Lupin looked up from the phone, to Sirius, and passed it back to the man, "She wants to you speak again."
Sirius took the phone.
"What, mum?" He said.
"I love you too," He whispered, then disconnected.
Sirius tried very hard to ignore Lupin's mad smirk and quiet chuckling.
"Well, Madam Pomphrey," Dumbledore said cheerfully, "What is the word?"
"Boss is fine," She said, "I don't think the Troll didn't manage to so much as hit him; I think that we should ask after his Guardian's permission for more intrusive scans again though, just to be sure."
"And the Troll?" Dumbledore asked.
"Had its throat torn out," Pomphrey said, her tone slightly queasy, "As well as deep lacerations all across its chest. The only pleasant thing I have to say, is that it died quickly."
Dumbledore sighed sadly.
"It is unfortunate that the poor creature died, but I can hardly deny Boss's claim that he was looking to protect his pack, it would have been tragic if nearly any other student in the school had been the one to run across the creature."
Pomphrey nodded, then looked down at the sleeping Canid occupying a heavily modified hospital bed. He had to be the single oddest student she'd ever had; a dog taller than she was, but quiet and well-mannered, at least judging by body-language and the fact she had never once heard him bark. She honestly did not know what to make of him.
I spent a far amount of November 1st in the Library with Harry and Hermione, while Hermione essentially ran a guided study on Trolls. It was pretty educational, learning what the magicals hereabouts had on Trolls; like for example the fact that there are War Trolls in this world, but they're intelligent enough that they form their own communities in out of the way places, like Sasketchewan. It figures that they'd be Canadians. Time in the library was, on the whole, somewhat dull, but had massively expanded my overall background knowledge of the magical world, and broadened my low-level spell list. They had some odd spells here.
On the whole, it had been an interesting couple of months; whoever was writing the rules for this universe paid attention to the fact that Hogwarts was supposed to be the premier school of magic in Europe at the least, if not the world as a whole. It was efficiently and effectively run, each Professor you hear about in the cannon had three assistants, who handled a great deal of the grading, and combined with the professor in class to give any student that was struggling with a spell or concept personal attention and bring them up to speed. For those of you not in the know, standardized education systems are actually usually more of an impediment than an aid to actually learning; people's minds are even more diverse and varied than people's bodies, and trying to force every mind into the same mould is much like literally trying to force everybody's body into the same mould. Doesn't work, can't work, and when you try with people too far outside the norm, you're going to either damage them, the mould, or both.
Also, grading is a huge part of an educator's work load; a necessary one, especially as giving insightful feedback into where students are making mistakes can be key to the learning process, but it's also a massive distraction from more direct and important parts of educating. Taking this load off the primary educator's shoulders, and putting it into the hands of competent secondaries has a large effect on how education plays out. I haven't looked into it, but I'm willing to bet that being a Hogwarts Assistant Professor is an easy step away from full professor at just about any other institution, and the obvious precursor to full professor at Hogwarts itself.
On the whole, I had expected this experience to be a combination of terrifyingly boring mixed with just plain terrifying, the latter if I ended up having to fight with Dumbledore. Instead, I had found a world of engaging education, and not too long after I had gained a vastly expanded mental capacity. If it weren't for extremely strong suspicions that the Headmaster is a heartless bastard, I might have felt uplifted or relieved living in such a place, but no such luck. Dumbledore had been trying to catch me alone for quite a while now, and he was a fast, sneaky heartless bastard, but unfortunately for him, I'm faster and sneakier.
I watched Snape like a hawk whenever we were in his class. All three of us could practically feel his desire to lash out at Harry, but I'm currently half a ton of spell-resistant Wolf, and Snape's not ready to take that on just yet. I wonder what he'll make of the Troll. There was no way in hell I was leaving Harry and Hermione alone with that scum, and had taken considerable pains to ensure such. Mostly that meant making sure that Harry and Hermione never left the Hufflepuff dormitory without me, and the two were never too far apart. Between the size of the dorm, and the size of the Library (I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn we spent a great deal of time there at Hermione's instigation,) there was still the opportunity for some degree of privacy, and the two to not get fed up to death with each other.
Harry and I did push Hermione into spending some time outdoors, getting exercise and etc. I paid particular attention to trying to get the two of them to be competent swimmers; never know when that'll be a life-saving skill. I was still trying to figure out a way to break Hermione of her fear of flying without doing something untrustworthy.
It's hard to figure out how to legitimately balance being a good parent/parent figure while simultaneously trying to prepare children for war. Survival training the year before Hogwarts had been easy; Harry had taken to it like a fish to water, and Hermione had, of course, started developing into a human encyclopedia of the various things you'd want to know, like what potential food is poisonous. They complemented each other fairly well, and by the looks of things, the Bones and Abbot girls had decided to form a circle of friends with Hermione and Harry. It would be interesting to see what skill sets they would develop.
I suppose it shouldn't really surprise me, considering his abuse at the hands of the Dursley males, and that his primary companions over the last year had not included human males, or at the least males in human form, but Harry avoided boys and men as best he could. It was nothing blatant, but he'd make sure he was on the other side of the room, or with a group of girls. Considering the fact that he never spoke aloud, he was much less of an interfering presence in the sort of socialization girls tend towards when alone. It confused and frustrated a number of the faculty, particularly McGonagall and Pomphrey, that Harry still did not speak, even though his vocal apparatus had been repaired.
When I asked him why, he simply told me things were less complicated that way. Trademark signs of having been driven from society, and not wanting to return to it; I couldn't blame him, after all I'm walking around a school as a wolf. Can't really criticize someone else for withdrawing from society when I've so thoroughly done the same. Lyn's probably pissed; she gives worse looks for stuff like this than from when I get shot up. Still, I can hope for better for him, even if I'm all too aware of how thoroughly society is screwed up, and unlikely to be of much aid to him.
Angst. Angst. Aaaaangst. Solution to Angst? Go out and do something.
Harry, I Corresponded, standing up from where I had been seated next to him and Hermione in the Library, I'm going out to do something, call me when you're ready to head back to the dorms.
Have fun doing stupid things, Harry responded cheerfully.
Severus Snape had the unfortunate feeling that he was being watched. It was not a pleasant feeling. His tenure as a spy had been relatively brief, and he was no longer active as such, but it had blossomed into a lifetime of paranoia. That paranoia was screaming at him now, so as a Potion Master, he did what came naturally to him, went to his private quarters, magically sealed the door behind him, and searched his potion stock for something appropriate to the occasion. Something to allow him to see the unseen? Something to allow him to track by scent?
"Mister Severus Snape," A voice ground out behind him, and Snape nearly jumped out of his skin, turning to face it, "I have been dispatched to have words with you."
Behind him, Snape saw nothing, even as he tracked his wand around the interior of his quarters.
"You won't be needing that," The gravelly voice continued, and his wand was ripped out of his hand.
Then Snape could see what was speaking to him, and it was altogether far too large for his tastes. The hand that still held his wrist was both clawed and furred, but he could see little else about the creature through the large cloak wrapped around its looming form.
"I'm here to have words with you," The creature began.
"Sectumsempra!" Snape screamed, directing the curse with his other hand, but to his horror, nothing happened.
"I have suppressed magic locally for the duration of our conversation," The creature continued, "I am here to have words with you regarding illegal use of Legilimency on minors."
Snape was horrified. He had never even heard of such an effect before. How on earth could he fight such a thing?"
"The Crown takes a very ill view of such invasive behavior," His captor continued, "You may consider this a warning. Investigation to prior activities along these lines has begun, and if any further incidents have been uncovered, you will face Justice."
Snape was caught between horror and rage, and his face showed it. Then the hand holding his wrist yanked him into the air, and Snape found his face brought directly before glowing, inhuman eyes.
"Don't screw up again Mister Snape. Don't try to run. Albus Dumbledore may be head of the Wizengamot and ICW, but he is not the ruler of Brittania, and cannot protect you from the Crown's Justice."
Snape found himself hurled violently across the room, slamming into his own bed and then the wall it rested against. When he regained his bearings well enough to look for the figure, it was gone.
"Not everyone gets a weekly meeting with the Minister of Magic, you know," Hestia Jones said, slightly grouchy.
"I know," Tonks nodded, walking alongside her friend through the ministry, "But it's less about me, and more about who I represent."
"Who's that?" Emmaline Vance asked curiously.
"The only known association of Metamorphmagi in Magical Britain," Tonks said cheerfully.
"I thought Metamorphmagi were really rare, like less than one in ten thousand?" Hestia said as they entered one of the ministry lifts.
"We are," Tonks said, smiling brightly, "But we have excellent intelligence gathering abilities for our numbers."
The other two Auror cadets nodded as they rode the lift up towards the Minister's office.
Jaquelyn and Catherine sat at the dinner table, enjoying a dinner of meatloaf, garlic bread, and salad while the theme from Jurassic Park played in the background.
"What's the latest?" Jaquelyn asked.
"Boss killed the troll," Catherine said, "He said it didn't even hit him."
Jaquelyn relaxed slightly.
"How about you and Blaze?" She asked.
"We've found two more sites," Catherine said, "And started work on one of them. He's still trying to get me to use an energy cannon."
Jaquelyn smiled at that.
"What about you?" Catherine asked.
"Oh, another day, another dollar," Jaquelyn said, and began nervously fondling the pendant around her neck, "They want to promote me again."
Catherine snorted, and rolled her eyes.
"Don't go guilt tripping yourself again," She said, "Just because you have a magically enhanced edge, doesn't mean you need to feel guilty about it. You know why we're doing this, and you know you're a good leader, with or without the enhancements."
Jaquelyn nodded, but did not look convinced.
"I still feel like I might be cheating someone else out of their own earned opportunity at a promotion."
"If you think someone else would do a better job," Catherine said honestly, "Recommend them to your superiors. You know John wouldn't want you to compromise your conscience for the plan, he'd tell you it defeats the whole purpose."
"And he'd be right," Jaquelyn sighed, and straightened up a bit, "Thank you Cait, It's nice to have someone to unload on every once in a while."
Catherine fought the urge to roll her eyes again.
"That's why you're always doing it for us..."
Albus Dumbledore sat at his desk and schemed. It was something he was both experienced and well skilled with, not to mention naturally talented for. Snape's report of an agent of the Crown accosting him in his quarters was most disturbing; especially considering the creature's apparent ability to suppress magic. Dumbledore had heard mention of such things before, though he had last heard of a Wizard capable of accomplishing such during the first World War, before he had struck his prime. It was an obscure branch of magic, and something of little interest to wizards for obvious reasons; the thought of a creature so powerful physically being capable of such things was rather terrifying.
It was, Dumbledore decided, time to clear up any possible hole in his security. The fact that the Hogwarts wards had given him no notification of the agent's arrival or departure would have neccessitated it in and of itself, but this magical suppression made it all the more key. It would be a chore, but Dumbledore would have to start by doing a thorough diagnostic of the Ward-stones. He might even have to deal with Voldemort's current body himself, and sooner than expected...
"I have kept your rule, Old Man, no deaths," Snape said, glaring at Dumbledore.
"I am still dissapointed Severus," Dumbledore said chidingly, "I know your task is difficult, but this is still a failure."
"I can only keep so tight a leash on the upper years without giving myself away," Snape half-growled, half-grumbled.
"I understand," Dumbledore said, sighing regretfully, looking down at the unconscious body on the floor, "Who was it?"
"Flint," Snape said, "I have already modified his memory so that he thinks it was coerced, but ultimately consensual."
"I'll have to do the same with Miss Clearwater here," Dumbledore said.
That was it. Line crossed from corrupt but possibly well-meaning to actively malignant. Any form of coherent morality whatsoever now demanded I act. Wishing I had managed to pack Silent Spell somewhere into my build, I cast Haste, and moved. Dumbledore and Snape's eyes were both tracking to the corner of the classroom I'd been hiding in, but I was already past them, Penelope Clearwater's unconscious body in my hands. I had to plan, and plan fast; Dumbledore had unknown levels of abilities, and I already knew that he was far, far above me in far of magical ability, probably well into Epic. Things would be especially bad under Hogwarts teleportation block; Sudden Jaunt is my ace in the hole, good for avoiding all those little things I can't avoid any other way, and it's completely useless here.
I could hear someone running along behind me, though not fast enough to keep up. I triggered a small amulet in one of my pockets.
An alarm blared within both the Gates household, and the surrounding barn.
"Panic button!" Jaquelyn shouted, lurching out of her bed and towards the starwell, adrenaline fueling her system through an accellerated startup.
"On it!" Catherine shouted back, "South vector, Blue Gem!"
Harry, I sent via Correspond, Get Hermione, we're leaving.
Why? Harry asked.
Caught Dumbledore and Snape trying to cover up a physical rape with mind-rape.
Hannah and Susan are with us. We're taking them with.
Fine, I said, But we're going to talk about chain of command and when to introduce new factors if we all make it back.
If? Harry asked.
I'm going after the Stone, I said, I can't afford to pass up the chance, or leave it in either side's hands.
As I ran, I withdrew a hit of Gillyweed from my Handy Haversack, and began the somewhat arduous process of inducing my unconscious passenger to swallow it. It took most of the remaining twenty-one seconds I spent maneuvering through Hogwarts, then leaping out of the castle to fall into the lake below. On the way down I dropped an Abjuration to ward Penelope against basic detection spells, and then hit Featherfall right before we struck the surface of the water.
I already had other magical means engaged for swimming and breathing water, and quickly made my way down to meet up with the four other youngsters, and hit them all with the same Obscure spell. The Bones and Abbot girls were more than a little shocked by my appearance; I'm not sure how Harry and Hermione got them into the lake in the first place. I wrapped the lot of them in a massive bear-hug (wolf-hug?), then pushed them off Southeast, to swim across the Ward lines, while turning back towards Hogwarts with all speeed myself.
On a small country homestead, a distance outside of London, a pair of women, armed literally to the teeth, leapt into a flame-orange four-seater baja buggy, and then smashed a small blue sapphire. They dissapeared with a faint pop.
At the northern extreme of Hogsmeade, a flame-orange Baja buggy appeared in the middle of pouring rain, the passenger side door opening and closing briefly, then took off speeding north towards Hogwarts lake.
Albus Dumbledore possessed both an agile and a sharp mind, and had quickly come to a number of conclusions. First, the magical trace on the Haste spell when Miss Clearwater had been abducted was identical to the protective enchantments upon Harry and his friends, and was also the caster that had obscured four students from the wards within Hogwarts lake. Second, considering which students had dissapeared, it was most likely that this caster, the supposed Queen's Agent, was 'Boss', the Spellwarped creature that accompanied Harry everywhere about the castle. With this new information at hand, Boss had been moving in a near-perfect pattern to be holding the position of bodyguard.
Third, 'Boss' was returning to the castle, and there were only four possible reasons for him to do so; Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, Voldemort, or the Sorcerer's Stone. Seeing as how no-one and nothing had disturbed or even probed the wards around the Stone, it seemed unlikely that the Stone was the target. Considering the wards and defenses would give Dumbledore plenty of time to move after the stone itself should he be wrong, Dumbledore moved to protect Snape; any move to protect Voldemort would be questionably productive at best, and certainly reveal his knowledge of Quirrel's possession, something Dumbledore could not afford to take any chance whatsoever of being revealed.
Fluffy was easy; he could smell me, but couldn't see or hear me; I was through the trapdoor before he could act. Devil's Snare was even easier; Freedom of Movement kept it from being capable of ensnaring me. The Key room I solved with a Mountain Hammer driven sword through the lock; I didn't even let the Troll see me, or the chess set either; Fire Immunity took me through the potion room. I guess this thing really was set up for a group of first years; McGonagall's was the only one that could have been remotely threatening to a serious attempt to bypass it, those Chessmen looked like serious business.
When I reached the last room, an incredibly powerful enchantment attempted to ensnare me, and it actually took me a moment to fight it off. That had to be Dumbledore's work. I'm sporting an insanely high Will save, not to mention other things that seriously tweak the hell out of it; this was the first Will save that was even worth mentioning as difficult since I hit about level 5 back in Chicago. I was still confronted with an empty room, but a little use of Scent and some tracking skill I'd picked up over the last year quickly located the stone for me. I grabbed it and rushed out of the stone chamber before looking at the thing with Arcane Sight. Couldn't calculate the caster level; too high, but it was fairly easy to see the thing reeked of Conjuration and Transmutation, no Necromancy. Even if it was a fake, it couldn't curse me too hard then. I heard movement further back.
I swallowed the stone, deactivated Arcane Sight, reverted to my base human form, and slipped into stealth. Making my way back towards the exit, I ran into a problem; Albus Dumbledore standing in the exit from the Chess room.
"'Boss,' I suppose," He said, "I'm afraid I can't let you take the Stone with you."
"What you can or cannot allow is immaterial," I said, moving around so I could see him clearly across the chessboard, "You'll be indicted and imprisoned by the end of tommorrow."
"An American?" He said curiously, reading my accent, "And here I thought you were an agent of the Queen."
"I am," I said, taking note of his glowing eyes. Arcane Sight, damn. No way I was going to be able to slip the Stone past that.
"Oh?" He said, casting True Sight, "However did you gain such a position? And more curiously, how do you hide your form so thoroughly that I cannot see you even with True Sight?"
"Bringing to the Queen's attention the utter failure of her security against serious magical threats, and offering to remove Harry from his abusive relatives was all it took to gain the first," I said, slowly moving forward, "As to the second, that will remain my own little secret."
"You really are a very disruptive student," Dumbledore said, "And very ignorant of legal realities her in Magical Britain and Hogwarts."
I continued to close distance towards the door.
"First off," Dumbledore said, "Your only existence, acknowledged status legally within Magical Britain is as a student of Hogwarts, due to your sorting. You have no listed parents or guardian of any form. Second, the students you have attempted to take off of Hogwarts Grounds are attempting to leave without permission from the appropriate Faculty members, or the presence of their guardians, and thus I am to enforce their return. Third, with no other form of guardian listed, while you are a student here at Hogwarts, I am effectively your guardian, permitting me a great deal of leeway in dealing with disciplining you for entering forbidden areas, and attempting to smuggle students off the grounds, not to mention assaulting a teacher."
I was within thirty feet of the door, and clear of the chess set.
"Finally," Dumbledore said, "I am Albus Dumbledore, and have not been defeated in a Duel for one hundred years. You will not leave here until I am satisfied that you will make no further attempts to interfere with my plans for the Greater Good."
He actually said it. I could hardly believe it, but he also actually meant it. He started to cast; I dropped Haste and sprinted around him throught the doorway. Or at least I tried to; I slammed face-first into an unyielding stone wall, and immediately saw the open doorway for the illusion that it was. Solid stone blocked the doorway; I shifted to Hybrid form as the first of Albus spells came off. Three sets of twin-cast Hold Monster spells, one of them Quickened. Damn. I failed at least two of the saves, and was instantly rooted to the spot, utterly paralyzed, and my stealth failed. I couldn't even manifest powers.
"Now," Dumbledore said coming around to look me in the eye, "Let us see what you've been hiding in that rebellious mind of yours."
A child's head emerged from Hogwarts lake for a moment, and peered around the southern shore of the scottish lake. A moment later, three more children's heads emerged, and then they began pulling an unconscious teenager from the lake with them. Once the quintet was fully on the land, a pair of figures dropped invisibility cloaks and let loose a spray of red stunning spells, striking two of the four children.
A thunderous crack sounded through the rainy night, and one of the figure's heads dissolved in an explosion of gore.
A quarter mile away, nested in the eaves of one of the houses in Hogsmeade, Catherine Gates worked the action of her rifle with a grim expression, and looked for another target.
Harry exploded into action, putting his training into action as he rushed and then leapt at the surviving wizard, hands lighting up with flame as he furiously attacked the wizard, but the larger man danced backwards, near-effortlessly evading the boy's blows, dropping him with a stunner. A pair of gunshots rang out, and the wizard looked in confusion at Hermione, crying and trying desperately to aim the 9mm in her hands through the rain. His confusion was completely wiped out when a fist as large as he was slammed into him, knocking the man flying into the lake.
"Come on!" Jaquelyn shouted, running towards the mostly unconscious children and trembling Hermione.
"On it," Blaze's metallic voice boomed out, already gently lifting Harry off the ground as he followed Jaquelyn.
Let me tell you from personal experience, having someone break into your mind is not fun. Dumbledore's mental offence crashed into my mind like a sledgehammer on an eggshell. Who are you? He demanded of my mind, and began ripping up memories to answer his question. A torrent of memories started pouring forth, from my earliest memories of waiting for Winter in Wisconsin, to playing with a friend in a basement in Detroit, to watching the Oilfields burn as I flew over Iraq after the first gulf war, to stepping off the airplane in the middle east with my mother wondering why it was so warm, even when it was midnight.
Screaming in rage at the intrusion, I violently hurled him out of my mind, straining violently against the magical bonds he had placed on me, but unable to break free, and he began his assault again. This time, snarling and gritting my teeth, I managed to fend him off a bit better, but he still managed to force another question through. Who are you now? He demanded, and memories of hunting Barty Crouch Junior, looking myself in the mirror in all three forms, playing with Harry and Hermione all rushed through my mind before I could throw him out again. That was bad; he had seen where we lived, as well as Cait and Lyn's faces.
I broke free of the Hold spell, and stepped forward, bringing out the Swords, slashing at him repeatedly, but the man was like a snake, weaving around my blades at inhuman speeds as he backed away, and lit into me with the triple-double of Hold spells again. This time I slipped around the thurst of two of the spells, but failed to resist at least one of the remainder, and was paralyzed again. Dumbledore seemed pissed, because he ramped up the mental attacks like crazy, crashing through my mental defences like they weren't even there.
How do you resist? He demanded, Where will Harry go? I had mixed satisfaction in responding to the first question; he got mixed impressions of me being a Lycanthrope, parts of my equipment, snippets of me leveling into classes with high Will saves, and me screaming into his mind "I'M A BADASS." I didn't know the answer to the second question, deliberately so, and he got nothing from it.
Breaking the Hold spell again, and gave him a double face-full of Swarm of Crystals, before leaping over him to hide amongst the Chessmen. Hold crashed down on me again, and Dumbledore came into view again, staring me in the eyes once more. Why do you fight me? He demanded, What is your weakness? He got some pretty clear memories at my disgust and loathing at how he handled Snape attempting to break into Harry's mind, and that as far as I was concerned, he'd crossed the line with covering up for rape. Silver and an image of myself and my father were what he got for weakness, let's see him sort that out.
I burst loose from my bonds again, I spat him out a load of Crystals again, bloodying him up but good, even through his heavy magical defenses. His eyes narrowed, and he threw up a Forcecage and Held me again, backing out of range of the Crystal swarm, but maintaining eye contact. I broke the Hold and eye contact before he could try to break into my mind again, and moved up, activating Energy Burst, and blasting the entire surrounding area with intense cold, and hurting the old man again.
Dumbledore retreated further, threw up a spell I didn't recognize, and started trying to cast Dominate Monster on me. Crap. Well, at least now I know what the verbal component for that spell is, 'Imperio' indeed. He hit me with it four times, but I managed to resist the lot, desperation driving me. Barely. He was out of range of almost all my offensive magic, and he had Shield up, so Magic Missile would be useless. That left only one option, and I really hated using it, because it would leave me with 3 Spell Points left for the day.
Antimagic Field. Suppressing almost all magics around me, and lasting ten minutes per level. Only thing that had a chance at getting around it was Mordenkainen's disjunction. Magic field up, I charged Dumbledore, trying to grapple him, but he slipped through my hands like greased butter. Shit. Definitely a Swiftblade if he still had Freedom of Movement going in an AMF.
Then he cast Mordenkainen's Disjunction. When it didn't work, he cast it twice more, until it did work. Shit. At least I was out of the cage. Another Dominate failed to catch me, and then he cast his first damage spell of the combat, a Non-lethal Intensified Enhanced Fireball. The world exploded in flame, but since I was freaking immune, I just let the old bastard have another double-spread of Swarm of Crystals.
"Enough," He said, his voice suddenly giving me chills, and then there was a Forcewall between us, and shit began exploding.
Fire, Ice, Lightning, Acid, even Sonic blasts ricocheted around the room, Dumbledore directing them like they were an Orchestra. After I evaded a large portion of the first wave, he dropped another Forcecage on me, and blasted me again. This time, I just took the blows, allowing my defensive magic to soak up the punishment. Once the blasts finally faded, he stared at me through the bars of the Forcecage, and I flinched away from his gaze, looking instead at the shattered remnants of the chess pieces and board.
A good half-minute after the spells stopped, when shreds of stone stopped clattering to the floor, Dumbledore spoke.
"You are a powerful foe," He said gravely, "So much so that I cannot afford to handle you delicately anymore, yet you do not seem to be evil. Tell me, why did you take the Stone?"
"I couldn't leave it to you or Voldemort," I said gruffly, glad that he was asking questions instead of continuing to try to break into my mind.
"And why did you take Harry from me?" He continued, and a part of me felt a vindictive satisfaction at what his phrasing revealed.
"He deserved better than what you left him to!" I snarled, "It's not right to leave any child to that kind of treatment!"
Dumbledore nodded gravely, considering.
"What do you know of Voldemort?" He asked after a moment.
"I've already destroyed five of Riddle's six Horcruxes," I growled, torn between wanting to glare at him, and revulsion at what meeting his eyes could result in, "Including the one that was hidden in Hogwarts. All that remains is Harry's scar."
Dumbledore actually started slightly at that revelation.
"How do you know of these things?" He said forcefully, giving off a tangible aura of power.
"You're not the only one with access to Seers," I snarled, "It was only unbelievable coincidence that I came to a place where I could act on this knowledge, but no man of honor could leave it be."
Again, Dumbledore was quiet for a time.
"Where is the Stone?" He asked.
"Hidden," I replied.
"What do you intend to do with it?"
"I'm not sure," I said, "But keeping it away from madmen like you and Riddle is more than reason enough to take it in and of itself. I'm not sure if I'll keep aging anymore anyways, since I became Spellwarped."
"Very well," Dumbledore said, "I cannot allow you to continue to interfere with my plans, but I think it would better serve the Greater Good for you to remain alive."
Then he cast Geas on me, and kept casting it until it broke through my resistance.
"You will not re-enter Magical Britain without my permission," He commanded with the first, "And you will not in any way, shape, or form attempt to interfere with my plans for Harry Potter," With the other.
"Goodbye, John," He said, and dropped a Gate spell, then used Telekinesis to force me through it.
When the assorted children woke up, they were in a place they had never been before, but all of them were met by friendly faces. Harry saw Jaquelyn asleep on an easy chair across from the fold-out bed they were asleep on; Susan and Hannah saw Hermione and Harry. Penelope Clearwater was sleeping in a separate room, with Catherine waiting for her, reading a book.
What happenned? Harry signed to Hermione, after shaking her awake.
"You were all stunned," She said quietly, "Misses Gates and, um, Blaze rescued us."
Hermione looked slightly green.
"Why'd we have to leave?" Susan asked groggily, looking at the compact living space around them.
It contained a small kitchenette, the furniture appropriate for both a small living room and dining room, a TV, and had four doors leading off from it.
"Catherine said," Hermione said, swallowing nervously, "That Penelope Clearwater was raped."
"Isn't she the girl that we pulled out?" Hannah asked.
"Yes," Hermione nodded, "I don't know what else happened, but The Boss decided that it wasn't safe for us in Hogwarts, and Harry insisted we take you two with us."
There was a long silence after that.
"I think we need to talk to my auntie," Susan said with a tinge of fear in her voice.
All the other children nodded, feeling very small and afraid.