When does it become a contract?
Standard Disclaimers apply. Namely: I don't own it; I'm not making anything from it; and will likely be embarrassed by number of mistakes found in it.
Fixed the Italics on 11/13/2011
Luna looked up from her tea leaves and frowned, it looked like her third year at Hogwarts was going to be a repeat of her first two years. The tea leaves, the smoke, the crystal ball, even her dreams all said the same thing, and that just wasn't acceptable to the blonde Ravenclaw that had been pinned with the unpleasant moniker of Looney. Her dorm mates had taken to doing more than just misplacing her things at the end of the last school year, and she was still missing her mother's ear rings and the Lovegood brooch that had been taken her first year.
Something needed to change, and that something needed to be changed quickly, it was only two days before she needed to board the Hogwarts Express to start school. It was time to bring in the big wands.
"Daddy!" Luna called over to her father. "What do I need to do to have a better school year?"
"Give Harry a book about contracts and bonds, silver nut," responded her not all there father who then looked confused and asked a question of his own. "Why can't we find the Snorkacks, Luna?"
"Because they don't live in Sweden, Daddy." Luna answered even as she wondered what she had been asked.
"Right, I will contact a school in the Americas right away, do you think Halloween will be early enough?" her father responded.
"Make sure you reserve room for four transfers, Daddy."
"Right, Luna, nine places it is."
That conversation having been completed, Luna got up to look for the needed book that she needed to give to a boy she didn't know and had no idea why she needed to give it to him. That was a lot of need for one small book.
– – (()) – –
Harry, Hermione, and Ron were settling into 'their' compartment when a knock at the door interrupted them.
"Hello, I'm Luna, Luna Lovegood. Can I hide here with you from some people that are planning on teasing me and stealing some of my things?" Asked a girl with long dirty blond hair and wearing a Ravenclaw's robe.
Thrown off balance, both by the interruption and the question Harry stared for a moment while Ron started to answer with: "No, we don't want a Looney..."
"Of course you can sit with us," Hermione broke in when it became obvious what Ron was going to say. "I would have thought you would have been safer from the Slytherins with some of the Ravenclaws though."
"Oh, the Slytherins don't bother me too much; they know I'm a pure-blooded witch. It is the Ravenclaws that I need to hide from."
"Ronald, are you going to introduce me to your compartment mates?" Luna asked as she turned to the Red-headed boy that looked like he was very unhappy at her inclusion and had scooted as far away from her that he could thus crowding Harry against the window.
"Er, this is Hermione, and Harry," Ron growled out doing the bare minimum he could get away with.
"Thank you Ronald," Luna replied smiling at the two people she knew from afar and now had met. They looked better close up than they did from across the great hall.
Luna then busied herself by trying to lift her trunk up to the overhead rack. After her second try, Ron snipped at her, "I guess you can't sit with us after..." Only to be interrupted by Hermione once more "Ron! Really!"
Harry stood and slipped round Ron to help Luna with her trunk. While he was up Ron slid across the bench seat to the window and frowned massively at Hermione for twice interrupting him and letting Luna in.
Once her trunk was safely stored and Luna found herself sitting next to Hermione and across from Harry, Luna pulled a slim book out of the book bag she had slung over her shoulder and handed it to Harry.
"You need to read this, Harry, I'm told you reading this will help my school year greatly."
Ron cringed, and as the train started to move he stood and pushed his way out of the compartment mumbling something about "Needing some air," and "not sitting with Looney."
Harry in the mean time was looking at the book's title, "How to deal with magical contracts and bonds; the best ways to come out ahead," Harry looked up at the strange girl and noticed for the first time how her grey eyes seemed to protrude from her face, giving her a permanent look of surprise. "Thank you, Luna, who told you that my reading this book would help your school year?"
"My daddy told me, Harry."
"Did your daddy say if it would help me have a better school year as well?" Harry asked.
"No, Harry, that didn't come up, but after the transfer I'm pretty sure your school year will improve."
Harry glanced over to Hermione and got the same confused look back that he was sure his own face was wearing.
"Um, may I see that book..." Hermione started to say.
"I'm sure Harry can you loan it to you later, Hermione, but until Halloween, Harry needs to be reading it," Luna interrupted the Gryffindor genius.
"Oookay," Harry said as he took the book back.
"So, Luna, how can I have a better school year myself?" Harry asked to make some small talk with the strange girl.
Luna looked at Harry, and her voice changed slightly as she answered. "Besides reading the book, you need to first tell Flitwick that I am being harrassed, and then when McGonagall gives you a detention, refuse to serve it if she isn't going to act as your head of house."
"What?" Hermione exclaimed, followed by a "Huh?" from Harry.
"That makes no sense, Luna," Hermione finally stuttered.
"What makes no sense, Hermione?" Luna asked in the more normal tone she had been using before Harry asked his question.
"Making McGonagall mad by refusing to serve a detention with her."
"I said that?" Luna asked surprised.
"You did," confirmed Harry. "I thought McGonagall already was acting as our head of house."
"Ahh, she doesn't you know, act as a head of house that is. In every house except Gryffindor there is at least one meeting per month between the house and the head. Hufflepuff actually has a meeting every week for the first month of the term. You are stuck with McGonagall, and she can't do her head of house duties as it conflicts with her Deputy duties, and her teaching suffers some whenever she tries to do all three."
Hermione visibly huffed at the thought that she was missing the important information from the non-existent meetings.
Harry, meanwhile, was puzzling something else out, and glanced over at Luna after thinking for a moment, and then asked a question. "Luna, why do we need to have dress robes this year?"
"There will be a Yule ball this year," came the response again in the different tone of voice.
"I didn't know that!" Hermione responded, "The nerve of not telling us. Why weren't we told?"
Harry waited, and when Luna looked puzzled, he re-phrased the question. "Luna, do you know why we weren't told about the ball?"
"No Harry, what ball?"
Harry grinned, "Luna, why were we not told about the ball?"
"Most do not know about it yet," Luna responded.
Hermione looked confused for a moment and then her own eyes got very wide as a possible answer hit her.
But before she could test her hypothesis, the door to the compartment opened forcefully. Harry groaned, no trip on the Hogwarts Express would be complete without a visit by Draco Malfoy.
"Ahh, the Mudblood, the Half blooded scar head and the..." Malfoy paused when he realized Ron was missing and there was another blonde in the compartment. "Looney? You know Looney?"
"Malfoy, just the person we wanted to see," Harry smiled while greeting the ponce.
"Luna, what should Draco do to have a very bad year at Hogwarts?"
"He should torment Ron Weasley three cars down, and then brag about it to his head of house." Luna responded.
"The blood-traitor is alone in the third car?" Draco focused on the only thing that was important to him. "Thanks, Looney, I'll see to you later."
"You're welcome, Malfoy," Harry called after the retreating boy before re-closing the compartment's door.
"Luna, what must I do to help Draco have bad year?" Harry asked eagerly.
"Don't go help Ron and when you see McGonagall, tell her Draco is confessing to a crime against one of her lions."
"Okay, I think I see the pattern," Hermione said. "Luna, what do I need to do to have a good school year?"
"Drop Ron as a friend when gets you kicked out of the library, and pack before the Halloween feast."
– – (()) – –
The rest of the train trip Harry and Hermione spent trying to get to know the strange little Ravenclaw a bit better, but by not asking too many direct questions. For her part Luna enjoyed the conversation of people that seemed to know how to actually talk to her so she could remember the questions instead of questioning her sanity.
When the train pulled into the station, Harry made sure to quickly herd both Hermione and Luna into the same carriage, and pulled them both out quickly up the stairs to Hogwarts, and then quickly into the Great Hall, looking for McGonagall the whole way. Once he found his head of house, he passed the message Luna had given him, and the three headed back to the Gryffindor table, although when Harry and Hermione sat down, Luna smiled her vacant smile and wandered over to the Ravenclaw table to find a place far enough away from the rest of her housemates that is was likely she could eat most of her meal without interruption.
"…And I left him tied up and hanging upside down in that compartment and spelled the door shut." Draco gushed at his godfather, only to be brought back down to earth when he heard a snort.
"Mr. Malfoy, I can't deduct points just yet as Slytherin doesn't have any yet, but I can give you detentions, and I will be giving you several of those! If Mr. Weasley is hurt badly, your wand will be taken from you and only give to you to use in the classrooms! And if you dare say 'When my father hears about this' I will call your father myself so he can be present when I snap your wand and expel you!"
"Mr. Malfoy is a member of my house..." Snape started, but was he was overruled by a force of nature.
"And it seems he hurt a member of my house, Professor, if you wish to punish him in addition to the things I will be having him do, you may and with my good will.
Mr. Malfoy, I will escort you to where you will be standing for tonight's activities. When dealing with young children you sometimes have to put them in the corner, and in a corner you will stand for the sorting and announcements."
– – (()) – –
McGonagall asked Professor Vector to check on the missing Weasley while the Deputy saw to the sorting. The Arithmancy professor frowned, but knowing she would not be missed during the sorting agreed, and slipped out of great hall on a red-head search.
"Minerva, why is Mr. Malfoy standing in a corner?" Professor Flitwick asked quietly before McGonagall could head back to meet the new students.
"Mr. Malfoy was acting like a five year old, so I am treating him like a five year old."
"Ahh, an excellent idea, I'll need to do the same if I have the chance. His face is turning an amusing shade of red."
The sorting was half done when a Patronus entered the great hall and stopped first in front of Poppy, and when the medi-witch hurriedly stood and started out of the hall, the silvery bird stopped at McGonagall before dissolving.
"Ron must be really hurt, Harry." Hermione whispered when their head of house (in name if not in deed) walked back to the corner where Draco was still standing and asked for and took the boy's wand before returning to the sorting hat.
"Minerva?" the bemused Headmaster asked.
"Later, Headmaster," McGonagall replied before reading off the next name.
- - (()) - -
After the always tasty feast and the announcements of no quidditch (which Albus thought was well received), the Headmaster and his two most difficult heads of house were gathered in the office of the High Inquisitor, (er, wrong year), the office of the Glorious Dictator, (er, wrong story), the office of the befuddled and senile, (um, we are getting warmer), the office of the Headmaster (wimpy get out), to calmly discuss the events of the evening.
"I'm telling you Albus, not this time! Ron Weasley will be in the infirmary for over two weeks by Poppy's estimation. Based on his previous scholastic endeavors, Mr. Ron Weasley will fail this year as he won't be able to catch back up from the first two weeks being missed. This time Mr. Malfoy will be punished. He should be expelled, but I know you won't stand for that, so, as Deputy, I am confiscating Mr. Malfoy's wand; at least until Mr. Weasley is out of the infirmary."
"I'm sure that if we question…"
"No Albus! I heard him confess to Severus, he damned himself."
Dumbldore sighed, "Mr. Malfoy will need his wand for class work, Minerva."
"We can arrange that every professor in a class where he needs a wand will give it to him before class, and retrieve it before Mr. Malfoy can leave class. And, Severus, since 'there is no silly wand waving' in your class, you won't need Mr. Malfoy's wand at all."
"And will you be complaining about Severus' behavior as well, Minervia?"
"What?" Both men were shocked by the timid admission.
"I didn't give Serverus a chance to rake Mr. Malfoy over the coals first. And he appeared to be most displeased with Mr. Malfoy. I don't know if he was going to let Mr. Malfoy go or not, so I can't complain."
"Thank goodness for small miracles, Minerva."
"Severus, would you excuse us, Minerva and I need to have a pleasant discussion, and I don't want to waste your time."
- - (()) - -
Taking a deep breath, Harry knocked on the door. He could not believe he was actually trying to meet with a professor outside of a classroom. When the door opened, Harry looked down towards his charms professor
"Yes, Mr. Potter, do you have a question this early? We haven't even had our first class yet."
"Professor, can I come in? I don't want to talk about this in a hallway."
"Oh, of course, Mr. Potter, please come in."
Once ensconced in a surprisingly comfortable chair with the tiny wizard sitting behind his desk, Harry took another deep breath, and hoped this went better than not helping Ron did. Hermione was still very upset about how hurt Ron was.
"Professor, I need to report that one of your house says she is being harassed by her housemates."
The normally jovial face of his charms professor fell into a much more serious expression.
"What can you tell me, Mr. Potter, and have you seen any of this harassment yourself?"
"It's Luna Lovegood, sir. And no, I haven't seen any abuse myself, but Luna said her housemates were going to steal some of her stuff and tease her on the train."
"And do you believe Miss Lovegood is being harassed, Mr. Potter?"
"The other things Luna told me have proven true, sir. So I couldn't just ignore the possibility..."
"No, Mr. Potter, you are correct, you shouldn't ignore the possibility, however, since you haven't actually seen anything, I can't appear to do anything either."
"Yes, appear. Several years ago a clever and vindictive student got several other students in trouble by saying they were bullying others. In the end it was shown that his claims were false and the staff was in fact acting as bullies towards students that had done nothing wrong. Since that time teachers can not deal with accusations of harassment unless the harassment is witnessed. However, since you have passed on the accusation, I can do a bit of research and even a bit of spying to verify or disprove the accusation. Was there anything else, Mr. Potter?"
"Well, while we were talking to Luna on the train, she mentioned several creatures..."
"Creatures, Mr. Potter?"
"Crumpled Horn Snorkacks, Blibbering Humdingers, Nargles, Wrackspurts,..."
"Ah, and you have never heard of any of these creatures."
"Well, no, and that doesn't really surprise me, but Hermione has not heard of any of them either, and she has looked into what different magical creatures there are while she was researching information for Buckbeak's trial last year..."
"None, of the current text books will have references to Snorkacks, Mr. Potter, because it is believed that they are now extinct. But there are pictures of them up to around 1920. Mr. Lovegood is sure there is a colony of the Snorkacks still alive somewhere, and has infected his daughter with his beliefs. As for the other creatures you mentioned..."
The professor slipped off of his chair and walked around his desk to a book shelf where he pulled out a slim, but well worn volume.
"This is a Bestiary, Mr. Potter, the creatures you mentioned can all be found in this book. But you will not find this book in the library, and you would need to look very hard to find it anywhere else. You see most wizards and witches consider the beasts found in this book to be mythical, if they know about them at all."
"Has Miss Lovegood mentioned her mother, Mr. Potter?"
"Miss Lovegood's mother died a messy death a few years ago, and Miss Lovegood was both home and a witness to the spell that went wrong. She is holding on to the memories of her mother reading to her from this book, or a book like it, by believing that these creatures do exist today."
"Thank you, Professor, I'll be sure to let Hermione know. Now if you don't mind there is one more thing..."
"And what is that, Mr. Potter?"
"Professor, what can you tell me about this Tri-Wizard contest, and how the contestants are selected? And what kind of contract is enforced between the contestants?"
"The Headmaster has said no one under seventeen will be able to enter."
"Is this the same Headmaster that thought hiring a man with Voldemort possessing him was a good idea? That an item as important as the stone should be protected by traps that first years could get by? That a third year should be given a time turner? That..."
"I see your point, Mr. Potter, based on past performance; your name will likely find its way in and out of the Goblet. Let me explain what I know."
– – (()) – –
Susan Bones was sitting alone in the library trying desperately to understand what the new DADA teacher wanted in this assignment. Susan's aunt was the Director of Magical Law Enforcement, and it would be unacceptable to Susan that she not perform at a higher level in this class than many of her fellow students. But this Mad-Eye Moody was asking things she didn't know the answer to, or even where to find the information.
"Who can help me with this DADA assignment?" Susan huffed aloud.
"Follow me and speak with Harry Potter," came a calm voice from directly behind Susan, startling the auburn haired Hufflepuff.
"What? Who? Who are you, and why were you listening?" Susan managed to stutter.
"I'm Luna, and I think you did ask just as I was passing by. I'm sorry if you didn't mean for me to listen, you can forget I said anything if you wish since I don't know what you asked."
"Oh, Luna? I've heard some things about you."
"I'm sure you have, some people are calling me Looney. I don't like it myself, but it seems to make them happy, so I try to ignore them."
"And you think Harry can help me with this DADA assignment?"
"Is that what I said?"
"Er," Susan said in response to that question. "Yes, that is what you said."
"Then that is what you should do. Oh, and who are you? I think I should know so I can introduce you."
"Susan, Susan Bones," Susan answered not at all sure what was going on.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Susan, I had wondered who the fourth would be."
Susan stared at the blonde third year and decided she now knew where the Looney title came from.
"If you would like to gather you stuff, I can introduce you to Harry and Hermione now, as they agreed to help me with one of my charms assignments." Luna explained patiently. Susan had not sneered at Luna yet, and Luna was anxious to meet up with Harry and Hermione. It was a very pleasant change to have people that actually listened to what she said, and seemed to know how to ask questions so Luna could remember what was asked.
Susan shook herself, she needed help, and Luna was offering, Susan could overlook a bit of weirdness if it would help her make her aunt proud of her. So Susan replaced the books she had been using, gathered her stuff, and turned to Luna. "I'm ready, Luna, do you think they will be willing to help me? I don't know either of them after all, and Hufflepuff has not been very supportive towards Harry."
Susan wasn't sure what she had done, Luna's face lit up and the girl seemed to glow with her pleasure. "I so love it when I get to remember the questions, Susan. Thank you so much. But to answer you, Hermione lives to help people; she doesn't always succeed in conveying the information well, but she is improving. And I heard Harry mention that 'at least he already knew the answer for the first assignment."
Bemused by the joy that seemed to be radiating off of Luna, Susan motioned for Luna to lead the way, and then followed her back to an area further from the front of the library than she had ever ventured.
"Harry, Hermione, this is Susan Bones. Susan said she asked who could help her with her DADA assignment just as I was walking by," Luna announced when she found her fledging friends, Harry and Hermione, sitting at a corner table in the back of the library.
"Do you think she knows why you answered the way you did, Luna?" Hermione asked with a slight smile.
"No, I don't think so, but she did ask one question so I could remember it. I think that is a good thing.
"I'm sure you do, Luna, would you like to start with Hermione helping you then? I'll try to help Susan with her confusions."
Luna nodded and if possible her smile got bigger. She so loved knowing what was going on, and on top of that, Hermione was no longer questioning Luna's worries about the nargle season that was coming up. Daddy had been right; giving Harry that book had made a huge difference in Luna's school year.
Susan on the other hand had watched the byplay between the three with a look of utter confusion. Harry enjoyed the look for a moment and then took pity on her. "Susan, let's you and I move a couple of tables over, so we don't interrupt the work Hermione wants to do with Luna."
Once seated side by side a table just a couple over from the one where Hermione and Luna were now working over an opened charms book, Harry smiled and said, "I am sure you are very confused about now, do you want me to try to explain what Hermione and I have figured out? Or do you want to start with the DADA question first?"
"Luna, if you don't mind."
"Have you heard of a question-teller?"
"I don't think so, is that like a fortune-teller?"
"Very much like a fortune-teller. Hermione found the reference and the book actually named the Lovegood family as often having members that were and are question-tellers. Simply put, if you ask Luna a direct question like 'How are you?' you will get a nonsense answer, and a confused Luna will have no idea what you asked. If you were to ask; 'Luna, how do you think you feel?', Luna would be able to answer that she was fine, or had a cold or whatever. But the real kicker is if you ask Luna, 'Who can help me with my DADA assignment?', Luna will answer that question directly, but, again, she will have no idea what you asked, or what she answered. And the answer could be something very off the wall, but if you follow it, you will get your requested results."
"So to ask Luna something, make sure the question is modified and not a direct question?"
"Exactly, there are some other quirks to my young friend, but that is the big one. The others, we can go over some other time. Now, what is your problem with that DADA assignment?"
- - (()) - -
"Thank you, Harry! Thank you!" Susan gushed, although quietly as they were in a library, as the answer sank in. The ecstatic Hufflepuff reached over and gave Harry her patented Huffflepuff to Hufflepuff hug, and was surprised when Harry twitched almost involuntarily. Releasing the hug she ran her hand over Harry's arm and got the same response. Susan was a very smart young woman, and in her zeal to make her aunt proud, she had paid a great deal of attention to what was said on those nights that her aunt had to bring her work home for a working dinner. Harry's responses were not good, and not normal. She would need to see if Harry responded better to Hermione and it was just a stranger who caused that reaction.
Luna, who had been attracted by the happiness, bounced over and gave first Susan and then Harry a hug as well. And again, Harry twitched at being touched by someone.
"I am so glad Susan decided to join us, I enjoy hugs, and, Harry, you don't give them very often."
"Harry is happiest when he initiates the hugs, Luna," Hermione explained, causing even more alarm bells to go off in Susan's head. And Susan noticed that Hermione walked around the table, unconsciously being sure that Harry could see her coming towards him. And the hug she shared with Harry was very light and quick.
"Then we need to make Harry happier so he will initiate more of them. Quick, ask me how to make Harry happier so he will give more hugs."
"I don't think so today, Luna," Susan soothed, the blond. "But I bet if we all asked very nicely for Harry to give us hugs more often he would."
Harry gave Susan a heartfelt thank you smile as he had been about to panic if Susan had asked… Hermione would not have, Harry was sure, but Susan was a new person and he was not sure how she was going to fit into the mix yet.
"Please, Harry, please will you give more hugs?" Luna asked.
"Luna, you don't need to wait for me to start a hug." Susan distracted Luna again. "In fact I think I'm hurt you only want a hug from Harry and not me. Hermione, are you jealous that Luna only wants Harry hugs?"
"Yes, I think I am." Hermione played along and surprised Susan by giving her a nice hug, with a quiet "Thank you." when her lips were by Susan's ear where only Susan could hear.
"We can't have that, Susan," Harry also smiled warmly at the young woman that had just cemented a place at their table. "Luna, you need to give Susan a really big hug. And yes, I will try to give all of you more hugs."
- - (()) - -
Several things have happened since I last wrote. No, Hannah is still watching Justin like he is a slab of meat so I am not spending any time with her. She is actually to the drooling and staring vacantly at the oblivious boy stage.
But I have some new friends that I have started to hang out with.
Are you sitting? Good, one of my new friends is Harry Potter.
I told you that you needed to be sitting.
I was introduced to Harry by Luna Lovegood. And you are right; I have not ever mentioned Luna before either. She asked me my name so she could introduce me to Harry and his friend Hermione Granger. Really, that is the way it happened.
Auntie, I have a problem (no not that kind of a boy problem, sit back down in your chair). Do you remember all those talks we had after you caught that man who had been enslaving this family with spells? Harry is acting just like how you described that family was acting.
Hermione has confessed that Harry is always this way at the start of the school year, and that Harry has admitted that he lives with his Muggle aunt and uncle. Who Hate Magic!
What do I do Auntie?
All my love,
"You do exactly what you did, Susan," Amelia mused to herself. "You do exactly what you did."
"Find out what we know about Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, and Hermione Granger. They are all at school with Susan."
- - (()) - -
"Mr. Weasley, you may return to your common room." Poppy said after giving her wand one more flick. "You will need to meet with all of your instructors to find out what you have missed and to start catching up."
- - (()) - -
"We are agreed? It looks like Looney is happy in spite of the stuff we are doing, it is time to step up our…"
"We are not all agreed," one voice responded. "This has gone as far as it is going to. I don't mind some of the pranks, but I will not participate in what you are planning. Don't expect any help from me."
"Me either," a second voice chimed in."
And those two left leaving only two remaining.
"It will be bad if they report us."
"They are as guilty as we are. They won't report us."
- - (()) - -
"Yes, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger?" Professor Flitwick asked as he opened his office door to find Harry and Hermione outside poised to knock.
"Can we talk, sir?" Harry asked in an agitated voice.
"Come in, I can guess what that is about since I received a note from your head of house earlier."
Once the three were comfortable behind the closed door of the professor's office, Harry burst out. "Luna has been given a detention for failing to turn in two assignments to Professor McGonagall, sir, but we know Luna did them, she had both Hermione and I go over the last one."
"Have you shared with Miss Granger the reasons I need proof, Mr. Potter?"
"I…She…Yes, I have, Professor." Harry admitted in a defeated voice.
"Good, I want you to teach Miss Lovegood the following charm, and she is to cast it on her next assignment which is due in my class tomorrow."
Professor Flitwitck demonstrated a spell, and had both Harry and Hermione practice it until he was sure they had mastered the simple charm before continuing the conversation.
"You see, I am also missing an assignment from Miss Lovegood, but I have been watching, and I know she turned one in, and I know who slipped Miss Lovegood's assignment out of the pile. I will speak to Professor McGonagall about what you have said, and will ask her to watch her next class with Miss Lovegood carefully. I think I nearly have enough proof to punish the trouble makers, but stealing homework to force a bad grade is more serious than hiding shoes, or mismatching socks."
"And the detention?" Hermione asked. "Luna is frightened and that makes her more unstable, and since Professor McGonagall is so strict, that just makes Luna more frightened…"
"Which affects her even more; I understand, Miss Granger."
"She is currently burrowed into Susan Bone's side and looking miserable. She has become very special to the three of us, Sir, I don't like seeing her this way."
"Tell Miss Lovegood to bring her books and come to my office half an hour before her detention is to start. I will escort her to detention, and I will explain what I think is happening to Professor McGonagall before we get there."
"Thanks Professor Flitwick."
"Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, it should only be a few more days. I will make sure Miss Lovegood does not have any detentions for the weekend, and by Monday, it should all be done."
- - (()) - -
"Mrs. Granger, I am Amelia Bones, and I work for the magical law enforcement…"
"Hermione! Oh God! Something has happened to Hermione?"
"Calm yourself, Mrs. Granger, to the best of my knowledge; nothing has happened to your daughter. May I come in?"
"…Nothing?...Yes, please do come in, and I'll get my husband."
- - (()) - -
"I'm sorry I scared you like that, Mrs. Granger, I will repeat, to the best of my knowledge nothing has happened to your daughter. I am here to investigate something else entirely."
"You are here to talk about Hermione's friend Harry Potter."
"Why do you think that?"
"My wife and I have been trained to recognize abuse in children as a part of our practice, and Hermione has described an abused child. We reported what we could, but since it was all third hand, the people we spoke to could do nothing."
"You are right; I am here to talk about Harry. Could you tell me what you can about what your daughter has told you?"
- - (()) - -
"Yes? How can I help you Madam Bones?"
"Have we met before?"
"Not really, but I have attended several of your news conferences as the editor of the Quibbler."
"I am investigating some rumors about…"
"How did you know?"
"The Lovegood line has several interesting gifts; I know that you are here because you have been tipped off that Harry is being mistreated."
"Allegedly mistreated, Mr. Lovegood."
"No, he is being badly mistreated by the people he has been left with. But seeing something the way we do is not something that would get your department's attention, so the only thing I could do is make a file of what I have found out."
"…I see …"
"Here is the file, and when the time comes, Madam Bones, yes, I will accept that responsibility, oh, and I think the green dress is much better."
… 'I think I understand Susan's note about meeting Luna a bit better now,' Amelia thought to herself.
- - (()) - -
"I need to perform a search in the Ravenclaw Girl's dorms. Minerva is busy preparing for the other two school's arrival, can you assist me?"
"I thought I saw you asking Aurora to help you, Filius."
"You did, and I'm going to be asking Septima as well. I expect at least two students will need to be expelled, and am I going to need all the support I can get to push that past the Headmaster."
"It's that serious?"
"When do you want me to be ready?"
"Aurora would like it to be tomorrow, Sunday, at three."
"Shall we meet in the teacher's lounge?"
"I'll be there."
- - (()) - -
Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall were just finishing their plans for the additional students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang when Albus looked up and frowned at the small model of the gargoyle on the corner of his desk.
"Were we expecting anyone to interrupt us this afternoon, Minerva?"
"I hope not, Albus."
"You hope not?"
"Filius requested some of the female staff to assist in searching through the girl's dorms of Ravenclaw. If they found something out of the ordinary, they would come up here. I figured he wouldn't find anything and didn't mention it before."
"Well Filius is requesting entry at the gargoyle, and there are several others with him."
"I'm going to hate it when he says 'I told you so', Albus. If he found what he was looking for, we will be expelling someone."
"It's not nonsense this time Albus, the Hogwarts rules are clear, academic sabotage is an automatic expulsion with no second chances unless the family of the injured student agrees."
"Academic..." Albus' voice trailed off. "I certainly hope he didn't find that..."
Albus waved his wand at the small model of the gargoyle that sat on the corner of his desk and frowned while he and Minerva waited.
By the time everyone had entered the Headmaster's office, it was quite crowded. Along with Professor Flitwitck, were Professors Sprout, Vector, and Sinistra. Also in the room were three Ravenclaw girls.
"Three? Filius, you found three?"
"We found two, Minerva, and one thief. Albus, I need to make a call to the DMLE."
"You know I prefer to handle these matters in house, Filius."
"The rules state that a head of house can override the Headmaster if the items stolen had been reported as missing, and were of substantial value."
Filius put three items on the Headmaster's desk.
"One pair of earrings, worth close to one hundred Galleons, and one family heirloom, the brooch is worth nearly five hundred Galleons, not counting the enchantments. Including the enchantments, it is worth over ten thousand."
"The Lovegood brooch..." Minerva whispered. "It was reported missing nearly three years ago."
Albus frowned, Xeno had raised quite a fuss when the brooch went missing, but with two visiting schools coming, he did not need this kind of publicity.
"Filius, I would really rather not..." Albus started only to be interrupted.
"Do you have another charms teacher then, Albus?"
"If you override my wishes in a case this severe, you are releasing me from my duties as teacher and head of house. I will be out of the castle by noon tomorrow."
"Where did you find them?" Albus asked, as much for a chance to recover from Filius' ultimatum as to get the information.
"In Miss Edgecombe's jewelry case. Along with several other pieces that belonged to other students, but had not been reported missing, or were not of substantial value."
"Five different girls came forward to claim items, Albus," Pomona spoke for the first time. "And I recognized a piece that belongs to one of my Hufflepuffs. We searched for it for days last year. If you don't let Filius call the Aurors you will be missing a Herbology teacher as well."
Albus bowed his head, if the easygoing and almost always happy Pomona was upset there would be no escaping it. "Very well, we will contact Madam Bones."
"These other two students have been stealing the homework from another Ravenclaw, Albus. I will need to contact their families to come pick them up after we expel them."
"Lovegood?" Minerva asked.
"Yes, between the two of them they had nine different assignments of Miss Lovegood's. That is what we were hunting for, but the finder's spell kept pointing to Miss Edgecombe's chest as well. Which is how we found the brooch and ear rings."
"Had you received a complaint, Filius?"
"Not about missing assignments, Albus, but I had received a complaint and so I was watching for anything that might prove or disprove the complaint. I have personally seen each of these two girls steal Miss Lovegood's work from the pile as they turned in their own work."
"I have seen something suspicious as well, Albus, although I did not know who did it. I saw Miss Lovegood turn in an assignment, but when I went to grade the papers, Miss Lovegood's was no longer there," Minerva was moved to add.
"I have not assigned any written work yet this year, Albus. It has all been practical work so far, but both girls were very nervous when we started looking, and one tried to get out and run."
"I am missing an assignment from Miss Lovegood, and it was found in the papers we discovered."
"Is there any chance...No, you said you witnessed them, Filius?"
"Yes, Albus, I did."
"Very well, Minerva, please contact Madam Bones from your fireplace. Filius, will you escort Miss Edgecombe to Minerva's office? I will contact the families for the other two from here. May I expel the students now, or will you demand it happen at dinner, Filius?"
"Now is fine, Albus, I will need to get back to my house and express my displeasure at not being notified about what has been going on in my house. Before the day is done, Ravenclaw will have no points at all. And for the next several days I will be taking page from Minerva's book. It should embarrass my house no end."
– – (()) – –
"Professor, since I am at Hogwarts, could you ask for Susan to join us? I would like a chance to address an issue she has brought up privately." Amelia asked McGonagall while her people where taking statements from Filius.
"It isn't going to cause any more trouble is it?"
"Why would you think it would?"
"Your niece has become very friendly with Miss Lovegood this year, and it is Miss Lovegood's brooch that was found..."
"Ah, I do remember Susan saying she was friendly with a Lovegood, but no, this is not about Miss Lovegood."
"How long will you need to keep the brooch?"
"Is there a reason she needs it daily?"
"Well, yes, there is. Miss Lovegood can... she can become distracted I think is the best way to put it. The enchantments on the brooch should help her. It is one of the reasons the brooch is worth so much and is considered an heirloom."
"I will keep that in mind, if Miss Edgecombe admits to her actions, we will be able to return it to you within a week. And since I don't like sending someone nearly Susan's age to Azkaban, I will offer her an excellent plea bargain if she will admit to her wrong doing..."
"Let me have Miss Bones summoned, Madam Bones. You can use the room three doors down."
– – (()) – –
"Susan. Susan, I can't...Air."
"Auntie, I'm sorry, but I am so glad to see you."
gasp "I'm happy to see you as well Susan. I am very proud of you right now."
"You paid attention, and you contacted me. We are now looking closely into Mr. Potter's home life."
Susan blushed, "I didn't..."
"Wrong, you did, and you did the right thing."
"From what Hermione has been able to say, it is pretty bad."
"Yes, from what we have discovered so far, it is. Do you know anything more?"
"We know that the Headmaster believes there is some benefit for Harry returning to his aunt's house, something about keeping him safe."
"Interesting, I wonder if he put some wards up somehow...Thank you Susan, now about Miss Lovegood..."
"Auntie, she is a sweet girl who is starved for affection, I'm not going to …"
"Let me finish, Susan." Amelia interrupted her niece. "Your descriptions and small tales are amusing, and Professor McGonagall has indicated she is… different, what can you tell me about her?"
Susan huffed for a moment, but her Aunt had the look, and Susan knew if she messed this up, she would have a bodyguard.
"Harry and Hermione found a reference that says the Lovegood family is known to be question-tellers, Auntie. If you are careful about how you ask questions around Luna, she is delightful. She will still say things that are off center once in a while, but she is really enjoyable to be around."
"I will look up 'question-tellers', Susan, and you are old enough to have a say in who you can have as friends, but I will want to meet all three. Likely next weekend, so please prepare for that. Now, how are you classes going?"
- - (()) - -
"Yes, Madam Bones? Did you enjoy your visit?"
"I got some of what I wanted, and we did get to visit for a minute or so, I am would like to arrange to meet Susan's new friends: Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, and Miss Lovegood."
"That is not normal…"
"Yes I know, but I also know I was able to do exactly that Susan's first year so I could meet the people she would be calling friends. It seems that Mr. Potter has been assisting Susan in one of her classes, and her letters home have begun to include these three, and I would like to meet them. Maybe next weekend, I should be able to return Miss Lovegood her brooch at the same time."
"The Headmaster does not like your interference with his running of the school."
"I don't like how the Headmaster generally sweeps matters under a rug rather than let me deal with them. So we are even. I will be by to pick up all four a week from today, Sunday, at twelve noon."
- - (()) - -
"You summoned me, Headmaster?"
"Yes, Severus, we had a bit of unpleasantness today, and two things have come up. My pensive is filled with a memory of a student's jewelry chest being emptied. Please look though it and tell me if any of your students have reported any of the pieces found in it as missing."
"Yes, it is almost certainly so."
The potions master entered the memory and was joined by the Headmaster and they watched as piece after piece of jewelry came out of what appeared to be a small case.
"Very good charm work on this case, Headmaster, wait, that one. That belongs to Miss Greengrass, she notified me just last week that it seemed to be missing. I was told that it worth a lot, and has a great deal of value to the family."
"Noted, Severus. Anything else?" Albus asked as the pensive continued to play.
"No, that is the only one."
"The Greengrass family will be after blood, Headmaster," Severus said after he and Albus had exited the memory. "I hope you can protect her."
"Filius overrode my wishes on this, there was a family heirloom found worth a very large amount that had been reported missing over two years ago. The student has been given to the DMLE."
"That should smooth some things over with the Greengrass family; do you know when Miss Greengrass will be able to retrieve her piece?"
"Madam Bones believes next week."
"I will tell Miss Greengrass that. What was the second bit thing?"
Albus handed the potions master a small stack of parchments. "Two other students had to be expelled for academic sabotage, Severus, I know you generally refuse to grade late work, but I must insist you grade these as if they were turned in on time."
"Miss Lovegood? I was planning to meet with her head of house about some of her missing work. Students were actually preventing her from turning her work in?"
"Worse, actually, they would let her turn the work in and then remove it from the pile. How many times have you heard the 'But I turned it in.' excuse?"
"More times than I want to count."
"In this case she did. Filius did not call for a search of the girl's dorms until he had the evidence he needed to prove his case."
"Why didn't the Ravenclaw head of house not approach me with these?"
"Filius wanted a chance to dress down his entire house. If his Perfects had been doing their jobs, it would not have resulted in two students being expelled, and another one given to the Aurors."
- - (()) - -
Harry and Hermione were standing huddled with Susan between the tables looking worriedly at the Ravenclaw table. A table where no one was sitting. Not a single Ravenclaw had been seen since late that afternoon. Luna had been with them while they discussed the invite to visit with Susan's Aunt when a Perfect had summoned Luna to a Ravenclaw house meeting. Harry and Hermione had explained to Susan what Flitwick had said but all three of the fourth years were worried since their younger friend was still missing.
Then the through the doors came the first of the Ravenclaws, walking in by twos. Two seventh years leading the way followed by by several of the first years, each walking beside a sixth of seventh year student. Then another pair of seventh years followed by some second years walking with fourth or fifth years. Every single student had a face flushed bright red with embarrassment.
"He's treating them like they were in pre-school or kindergarden." Hermione whispered aghast at the spectacle she was watching. "Everyone has a buddy, and they have to stay with their buddy, and no one can go past the leaders. And I would bet that at every corridor the entire house had to stop and look both ways before crossing the path."
"You would be right, Hermione." Ron came up and whispered to them as well. "I was caught behind them in the hall. It was bloody scary to watch Flitwick enforce his will on his house. I always thought Snape was the worst. But now I think our charms teacher has beaten Snape by a mile."
"There's Luna, and her buddy is the seventh year's boys Perfect," Susan pointed as their friend entered, just as subdued as the rest of her house.
"Except, he isn't wearing his Perfect's badge," Hermione whispered back in shock. "And there's Cho, and she isn't wearing one either."
As the students reached the table, some chaos ensued as the different friends and groups reformed from the imposed order that had been evident as the students had entered; although they all remained standing.
The whispers which had grown to a crescendo fell quiet when Professor Flitwick himself came in following the last of his students. He walked to the head of the table and in spite of his short stature the entire hall heard his announcements.
"One hundred and fifty one points from Ravenclaw for failing to support a fellow house member; one hundred and one points from Ravenclaw for covering up the abuse of a fellow house member; twenty points to Gryffindor for reporting abuse in another house; ten points to Hufflepuff for supporting a student of another house. Headmaster, the house of Ravenclaw no longer has any Perfects as all of them have been found guilty of crimes contrary to their office. As a result, I find I must move my office into the Ravenclaw common room for the next while."
Professor Flitwick turned to face his house. "You may be seated."
The Headmaster stood and as soon as the shamed house of Ravens was sitting gathered the attention of the great hall to him by the force of his personality alone.
"It is with a great deal of sadness, that I must report that two Ravenclaws were expelled today for the crime of academic sabotage. A third Ravenclaw was removed from the castle by Aurors as a thief. Professor Flitwick has decided that for the next two weeks, no points are to be awarded to Ravenclaw as a part of that house's punishment."
After letting his statements sink in, a friendlier Dumbledore made an appearance and he announced, "Let the feasting begin."
While Susan scooted off to the Hufflepuff table, Harry, Hermione, and Ron headed off towards their normal places.
"Ron, we didn't see you at the library this afternoon," Hermione started. "Were you able to get any of your studying done?"
"Don't speak with your mouth full, Ron."
Ron swallowed, and answered even as he speared his next king sized bite.
"I wasn't goofing off, this time, Hermione. I had to meet with Snape in his classroom and demonstrate how to make a couple of the potions you lot brewed while I was the captive of the hospital ward."
There was a pause as the food that had just entered Ron's mouth was chewed. "Snape passed me on two of my missing assignments."
"Well that is good, then Ron," Hermione said. It was known that after a private lesson with the potions master, many students needed to spend time to relax. Also, getting two of the potions passed was a big step for Ron. "But please don't miss too many of the study sessions I have planned out for you."
"Tonight is free isn't it?" Ron asked.
"Chew first, Ron, then talk. But yes this evening is free. Harry convinced me to let you have some free time."
– – (()) – –
"What can you report?" Amelia asked the Unspeakable that entered her office, too early on a Monday morning.
"There are some very impressive and illegal blood wards around the address you provided.
"Can we arrest anyone?"
"No, because of the nature of the wards, we can only tell who's blood powers the wards, and that person has been dead since Halloween 1981. What we can say is that the Muggles have been negatively affected by the wards."
"If the wards are removed by force will that hurt them further?"
"No, the sooner they are removed, the better for that family."
"Can your department do it, or should I contact the Goblins?"
"We can drain the wards at your command."
"Please arrange for the wards to fall this Friday, early afternoon."
"It will be done."
– – (()) – –
Harry, Hermione, and Susan all shared a grin with Luna for their unintentional chorus even as they rushed to meet their friend.
"Luna, we have been so worried, please tell us that you are okay," Hermione said as the three fourth years took turns hugging their friend.
"I am fine, mostly, the blibbering-humdingers are no longer taking my things and hiding them, but Professor Flitwick is very upset with me."
"With you? But you..."
"But I didn't go to him three years ago with my problems. While there is no guarantee that those students wouldn't still have needed to be punished, the Professor thinks it likely that he wouldn't have needed to expel them."
"And the rest of your house, Luna? Do you think they are going to retaliate against you when Flitwick isn't looking?" Hermione asked as the four made their way into the library to their normal table.
"One fifth year tried. Professor Flitwick has him and the rest of the fifth years cowed now. I did not know how much control my head of house could exert, if he wanted to."
"Do you think you will be able to study with us, Luna?"
"Yes, I can join you if you want..."
"Of course we do, Luna. All three of us have been very worried," Harry answered for the three even as he slipped one arm around Luna's shoulders for a second hug."
Luna's face slipped from her school day face into the bright smiling face all three of the older students really preferred to see. "Oh, good. I was worried you know."
"Susan is going to be helping me with the book of contracts you gave me, and Hermione is hoping Ron is going to show up to continue his work at catching up, but any of us would be willing to help you. You had us that worried too."
"Luna, would it upset you if I asked you a question such that you couldn't remember it?" Susan asked.
Luna frowned for a moment but then smiled. "You asked my permission. I don't think anyone has ever asked permission before. I like having friends. If you need to know something about the contracts book, Susan, you may ask."
"Thank you, Luna."
"Luna, what part of the contracts book should Harry study the hardest?"
"Contracts of non-intent, resulting from magical lotteries."
"Right, Luna, thank you for letting me ask that."
"You're welcome, Susan, did whatever I say help?"
"What is Looney doing here?" All four of the students seated at their table looked up as Ron made his appearance."
"Her name is Luna, Ron," Harry replied with a bit of steel in his voice, steel that Ron either ignored, or did not know how to interpret.
"And a Hufflepuff, is here as well. I thought you would be helping me."
"I am planning to help you, Ron," Hermione replied her voice also dripping in disapproval. "Susan is going to be helping Harry with some special information, and Luna can ask any of us a question if she needs to. Since she is a year behind us, it would not take long for us to answer any question she has."
"I was going to let you write my potions assignment, and let Harry write my charms assignment while I caught up on my transfiguration reading. So I will need you both helping me."
"I am glad you are working as hard as you seem to be, Ron, but I will not do all of your assignment, and Harry won't either. I will help you."
"Doing my assignment is helping me." Ron exclaimed, his voice rising.
"I said I won't do the assignment for you, I will help you understand before you do it and offer corrections or suggestions after you do it."
"Fine, here is the assignment, let me know if you need any help." Ron said even louder, as if he could force Hermione to his will by volume alone.
"I think Ronald is refusing to listen, Hermione."
"Looney, I don't want you here!" Ron nearly shouted.
"Actually I don't want any of you here!" said Madam Prince said as she came up to their table. "Out! All of you, out!"
– – (()) – –
"Ron, you got me thrown out of the LIBRARY!" Hermione nearly screeched at the red-headed disaster. "I live to study in the library, and now I can't enter for two weeks! Take your books; take your assignments and leave. I will not be helping you with any of them. And if I hear you trying to get others to help you the way you wanted Harry and me to help you, I will report you as cheating."
"Calmly, Hermione," Luna crooned as she wrapped the incensed young woman in a hug, and glanced over at Susan, and Harry who took the hint and joined Luna in physically supporting their friend.
"What, Luna, you know what he did. How he insulted you, and Susan..."
"That does not matter, Hermione, you matter."
"You do to matter, Luna." Hermione responded, but with less anger.
"I matter to you, and Harry, and Susan, Hermione. That is what is important. And you matter to Harry, Susan, and me; that is also important. We can go to the great hall for a bit. I think it is important for Harry and Susan to do some work on the contracts book tonight. I will let you spout and rage and otherwise blow off steam and tension. You have told me that I have told you to drop Ron as a friend after he got you thrown out of the library. Now that has happened. Don't fight it."
– – (()) – –
"Madam Bones? What brings you here today?" Mrs. Granger asked, while still unable to keep the worry out of her voice.
"Still nothing bad, Mrs. Granger. May I come in?"
"Certainly, although we don't know anything else about Harry. Hermione's last note was a rant about someone different." Mrs. Granger said as she led the way into the house. "My husband had to work late today and isn't home just yet..."
"I have heard from my nice as well, and I expect I know what your daughter's rant was about."
"Susan, Susan Bones."
"Hermione has mentioned that a Susan has joined her group of friends, as well as a Luna."
"Yes, and Susan's tales about Luna have been very entertaining."
"Hermione is becoming quite fond of Luna, but is confused by her at times as well."
"The Lovegood family has been known to confuse nearly everyone. Even the people that claim to know them. But they are also considered a generous and bighearted family by those that know them well."
"So what brings you here today, Madam Bones? Since you say it is not about Hermione."
"Well nothing bad about Hermione. I am planning a supper on Sunday, and I am pulling Susan, Luna, Hermione, and Harry out of Hogwarts to have it. If you wish to join us, I will arrange it so you can attend."
"I expect you thought correctly, however, as the head of the DMLE I am able to pull strings most can't. I did the same thing Susan's first year. That was so I could meet and evaluate who Susan was going to have as friends."
"You said that like this is different."
"It is. I'm using the same excuse, but what I am really doing is getting Harry out from under the Headmaster's thumb. My investigation has shown that he has an unhealthy interest in Mr. Potter. I am hoping that by the end of that day, Harry will have a new legal and magical guardian. Because your daughter has become so close to Harry, I would like you to assign her a new magical guardian at the same time."
"I hope you can stay for dinner, Madam Bones, I think my husband really needs to hear about this..."
– – (()) – –
"Who are you, and why are you here?"
"Good evening, Mrs. Dursley, may I come in?"
"Not until you tell me..."
"Mrs. Dursley, you can let me in now, Or I return with the Bobbies and a warrant and we enter after bashing your door down."
"Wrong, I can and will. You and your family are guilty of several counts of criminal child abuse, and I would take great pleasure in exposing your crimes to your oh so nosey neighbors."
– – (()) – –
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, as I said outside, your treatment of one Harry Potter, your ward and nephew, has been criminal. But in spite of what I want, which is for your crimes to be exposed, I have to consider what is best for Harry. It would be better for his healing process if he does not have to testify against you in court. So I am giving you one, and only one, chance to surrender your guardianship of Harry."
"To you I suppose?"
"No, as much I would be willing to accept Harry, because I work for the department that would be bringing the complaint if you end up in court, I have to find a different guardian to prevent it from looking like I did this just for my own benefit."
"We never wanted the freak. As long as you take him and don't involve us with your unnaturalness, we will be glad to sign him away."
"Freak! If you never wanted Harry, how did you end up caring for him?"
"We found him on our doorstep, with a note."
"I don't suppose you still have that note do you?"
"I would like to take it with me when I leave. Here is the paperwork. In it, we agree to not prosecute you for your treatment of Harry, and you, in return, agree to turn over Harry's guardianship and that you have no future claims against Harry and any future assets Harry may attain."
"Like that lazy freak will amount to anything. We will sign."
– – (()) – –
"Madam Bones, I admit I thought I would see you a couple of days ago, it seems you catch on more quickly than most."
"I hope I can learn, Mr. Lovegood."
"Xeno, you can call me Xeno, or Phil; Xenophilius is a bit of a mouthful. You already have the documents?
"I do, and I am hoping I did not misunderstand what responsibilities you were agreeing to at our last meeting."
"I am more than willing to take Harry's guardianship, and may I say, I am most pleasantly surprised you are willing to consider me."
"I would have liked to have taken Harry myself, but I can't. Since you think I should wear my green dress, I assume you know you are welcome to the supper I am planning for Susan and her friends."
"I would love to make it official on Sunday, Madam Bones."
"Amelia, Xeno, if we are to be on a first name basis. Now what else can you tell me about what is about to happen? Susan is a bit confused by some of the things Luna has said..."
– – (()) – –
"Madam Bones and?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Granger, I didn't expect that I would need to see you again so soon. This is Xenophilius
Lovegood, Luna's father; he has given me some information I really think you need to hear."
– – (()) – –
"Albus Dumbledore has been trying to get a hold of you, Ma'am."
"I have been expecting that, I will floo him from my office."
– – (()) – –
"Madam Bones, thank you for getting back to me, may I come through so we can discuss this face to face?"
"Excellent... I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I said no. You cannot use my floo. You haven't told me what you wanted to talk about, so you certainly have not convinced me it is something that requires a face to face visit. Now what I can I do for you this evening?"
The pained expression on the Headmaster's face made Amelia smile to herself. She had taken the precaution of getting a set of comfortable pillows before making this call; it was becoming an open secret that Dumbledore could not kneel in front of a fireplace for long periods of time these days.
"I understand you have asked to take Harry Potter away from the school for an evening, and I wish to discourage that action. Now may I come through?"
"No, you may not. On what grounds do you wish to discourage my meeting Mr. Potter?"
"To keep Harry safe."
"You feel I am unsafe? I will have you up before the Wizengamot for defamation of character, Sir!"
"It is what you said; I am very upset that you think that. And what about the other two children I have invited? You have not mentioned either of them, just Harry. Well sir, you do not have the authority to keep me from learning about my niece and ward's friends. And if you make any other moves in this direction, I will have you arrested. It will be a cold day in hell before I am willing to let someone like you make negative statements about me and my office, SIR!"
"That is Madam Bones, to you, Sir. We are no longer on speaking terms, much less friendly. There is a session of the Wizengamot Tuesday next, and if you are not there I will move to have you removed from your office since you never seem to actually attend the meetings you should be leading."
"And if you show up at the Wizengamot I will notify the Board of Governors that you have abandoned your position at the school. So you had better decide what office you want to keep as you will only have one by next Friday, Sir."
Albus looked like he had eaten a lemon the way his face had soured. "I..."
"I will be picking up Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, and Susan Bones at noon on Sunday, and I will bring enough Aurors to enforce my request. Do you understand my position, Sir?"
"And do not think that assigning one or more of the students a detention will deter me. You may assign the detention for any time. It does not have to be at the time when I am picking the children up. I have not heard you acknowledge me yet, DO YOU UNDERSTAND, SIR?"
"I require a yes or no answer from you, you, you. BAH! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"Yes, I understand, Ame..."
"That is Madam Bones to you, sir. I hope for your sake I do not see you on Sunday, as I expect the next time I see you I will be trying to hex you into the next century."
And with that Amelia got up and left the fireplace with the connection still open. Since Amelia had made the call, it would take the old fool at least an hour to get the connection closed from his side, and by then there would be no one in the Ministry building to hear any complaints he might make.
Amelia smiled, she had wanted to take that old fool down a peg, and he had finally given her a reason to do so. And while Dumbledore was marshaling his support to keep his positions, she would be able to get the paperwork stripping him of his authority over Harry signed, witnessed, and filed of record.
– – (()) – –
It actually took Albus two hours to clear his floo connection and then he spent another several hours on the floo, talking about the threats Amel...Madam Bones had made. By the time he finished he had actually crawl back to his chair as his knees and legs refused to work properly. Once he finally was seated, he spent several more hours trying to find a way to get Madam Bones a peace offering. In the end, he decided he couldn't prevent Harry from joining the proposed dinner without making a bad situation worse. He would see if Minerva would be willing to collect the students and deliver them to Madam Bones. It would be best if he did not see her again form a day or two.
– – (()) – –
"Susan, I'm so excited. I haven't been to meet a friend's family before," Luna gushed as she and Professor Flitwick joined Professor Sprout and Susan."
"She is just my Auntie, Luna."
"An Auntie that was able to get us away from Hogwarts for an afternoon and evening, Susan." Hermione remarked as she and Harry joined Luna and Susan with Professor McGonagall trailing behind the Gryffindors. "I hope we meet her approval."
"Of course we will meet with her approval, Hermione, we are Susan's friends," Luna exclaimed, still gushing. In an excess of enthusiasm, Luna grabbed Susan's hand and the two of them led the way through the castle skipping, and laughing.
Harry and Hermione glanced at each other and joined hands as well to skip after their friends.
"You know, Hermione, this has been a good year so far," Harry said grinning."And part of that is because we have two very different friends this year."
"You are so right Harry," Hermione agreed looking briefly at their joined hands. "It is a much better year, for both of us."
– – (() – –
As Amelia Bones and her contingent of Aurors watched the students coming from the steps towards the gates, she decided that whatever she had expected; Susan skipping and laughing while holding hands with a girl with Xeno Lovegood's hair was not it. And Harry Potter following and was also skipping and laughing while holding the hand of a younger version of Mrs. Granger was not something she expected either. They were really too old to be indulging in this type of behavior, but seeing Susan so happy was something Amelia would treasure always.
After the four joined Madam Bones and introductions had been made, McGonagall caught up to the students.
"Madam Bones, here are the four you requested, the Headmaster would like to send his regrets, some of his words when last you spoke were hasty and were not intended to cause insult." McGonagall apologized, even if she didn't know what had passed between the two of them.
"I will consider the Headmaster's words again later, Professor McGonagall. I intend to have your students returned well before curfew. Susan, gather your friends and let's go."
"Where are we going, Auntie? You haven't told us yet."
"It is someplace you and I haven't been to before, Susan. We need to be a bit further from the Hogwarts wards before we apparate. Your Headmaster and I have had a disagreement, and I don't want him to be able to guess where we are going. If we leave close too close to the wards, he could follow us.
Now, Mr Potter, please follow this Auror. If you have some tracking charms on you, I will want those removed. The girls will be having the same thing happening to them over here."
"Is this something we have to undress to do?" Hermione asked, both embarrassed by the possibility and in information gathering mode as Harry was led behind a slight rise, and the girls slipped into a slight hollow.
"Not normally, Miss Granger, but if a charm was placed on your bra, for instance, removing the charm could be very embarrassing. It is easier to segregate the young men from the young women just in case."
"We didn't do that in our first year, Auntie," Susan remarked.
"Actually, Susan, we did search for tracking charms, but you were all eleven. The boys were all still in the 'girls are yucky' stage. You and your friends have all started to develop now, and while I believe Mr. Potter is a gentleman, he is also a teenage boy, and he can't help but notice some of the differences."
"Your Niece and Miss Lovegood are clean, Madam Bones, but Miss Granger has two charms: one on the bottom of one of her shoes, and one on her cloak. The both are over a year old, so were not put in place for this party."
"Hmm, while I would've like to trace those back to the caster, we don't have the time. Break them, and we will move on.
Hermione watched carefully as the Auror removed the tracking charms, and after the Auror needed to circle each of the charmed areas with her wand several times, Hermione had to agree, if there had been a tracking charm on her bra, or worse her kickers, she would not have wanted Harry to be able to watch. It would have been bad enough that Susan and Luna would be watching.
"Madam Bones, I think you should see this, Mr. Potter has several different types of traces on him. None of them are new, and at least a couple were likely put in place while he was a toddler."
- - (()) - -
"This is a great place; Madam Bones, my Mum and Dad bring me here for special family dinners."
"She knows, Hermione, we told her."
"Daddy!" A shocked Hermione stared at her parents even as Luna rushed by her to clamp onto an man with hair much like her young friend's.
"Don't worry, Mr. Potter, while your Aunt and Uncle were invited, they did not accept the invitation," Amelia reassured the young man that was looking around with a wide-eyed and panicked expression.
- - (()) - -
An hour later, introductions had been made; the odd group was finishing a fine supper in a separate dining room. Madam Bones had placed herself at the head of the table while Susan sat on her left followed by Mrs. Granger, then Hermione, and Mr. Granger sitting at the foot of the table. Next to Mr. Granger sat Luna, then her father, and completing the circle was Harry.
"Mr. Potter, may I call you Harry?" Amelia asked. It was time to move this meeting into troubled waters.
"Good. Harry, I know I used this opportunity to meet with Susan's new friends, but as I researched what I could about you three young people, I discovered that the Headmaster has broken several laws in regards to how you are being housed and treated. He managed get away with this by assigning himself as your magical guardian." Amelia was hoping they would be able to gloss over Harry's treatment at the hands of those disgusting muggles by focusing on the laws that were broken.
"In order to fix what the Headmaster broke, we need to get you a new magical guardian, Harry, and the only sure way to pull that guardianship from the Headmaster's control is to get you a new guardian that is either a witch or a wizard. I would have liked to have offered to become your guardian myself, but because my department is the one that is investigating the laws that were broken, I am not eligible. I am hoping you would be willing to accept Mr. Lovegood here as your new guardian. He has offered, and I was able to get his application approved."
"I would not need to return my aunt's house?"
"No you would not."
"But the Headmaster said I needed to stay there to be safe…"
"One of the laws that the Headmaster broke was putting up the wards that he used around your aunt's house. The use of that kind of ward is illegal, and it has likely hurt your aunt, uncle and cousin. As a result, some of their dislike of anything magical may be traced to those wards."
"Sirius…" Harry started, only to remember that the lady in the room would likely throw his Godfather in prison.
"I have seen your evidence that Sirius Black is innocent, Harry, but there is still a 'kiss on site' order on him. And even if there wasn't, I would not let him become your guardian until I was sure the time spent in close proximity to the Dementors has not harmed him in some way."
Harry turned to the man seated next to him.
"Are you sure you would be willing to have me? I'm not worth much."
Hermione and Susan both gasped at Harry's words. Luna, on the other hand, leaned across her father and responded in her normal airy way. "None of us are really worth much yet, Harry, we are all still growing and learning. But I think it would wonderful to have what amounts to a new live in friend."
Xeno smiled at his daughter and turned back to harry.
"I offered, and I stand by my offer. My daughter approves of you, and that is all I need. And just because I am your guardian, that does not mean you cannot spend time with your other friends. Hermione's parents have indicated they would be willing to take you and Luna for a part of the summer and Susan would likely be joining you as well."
"Mr. Lovegood, why don't you and Luna take Harry and discuss your concerns in the next room, I have reserved that room for our use as well. I need to talk with Hermione and her parents about Hermione's magical guardianship, and we will remain here."
Once the Lovegoods and Harry had left, Hermione was pulled from staring at the door with a worried frown by a nudge from her mother. "They will be fine, kitten. We need to discuss some serious issues ourselves. Your Headmaster is you magical guardian as well. He, as the chief warlock, is the default magical guardian for all of the children under his care that do not have a magical parent, and frankly we do not trust him with your safety any longer."
"Madam Bones has offered to become your magical guardian and your mother and I would like to accept," Hermione's father continued. "You are old enough to have an informed opinion, and you live in the magical word while we do not. Do have any problems with Madam Bones becoming your magical guardian?"
"I honestly didn't know I had a magical guardian," Hermione confessed after a moment of thought. "What does a magical guardian do for someone like me?"
"In the normal course of things, you wouldn't even need to know that you have a magical guardian, Hermione," Madam Bones answered. "They are there to protect your interests in the magical world and would only interfere with your life if you were being abused, or your parents refused to let you go to any magical school. Your Headmaster should not be your magical guardian as that means your parents couldn't transfer you to another magical school."
"Are there other magical schools?"
"There are, although they are all in other countries."
"I have no problems with you being my magical guardian then, Madam Bones. How do we do this?"
"Here is the ritual, please all three of you stand, with Hermione between your parents, and we will get this done…"
- - (()) - -
In the next room, Harry was having is bit of trouble; Luna's father was being kind. And Luna had molded herself into Harry's side.
"I'm not going to say you won't ever be punished, Harry," Mr. Lovegood was explaining. "After all you are still young, but you will not be punished physically. You won't be denied food, and you won't be struck. You are old enough and mature enough that those kinds of punishments will not be needed."
"But why would you want to be stuck with me?" Harry finally blurted out.
"Why would I not want to help you, Harry?" Xeno responded. "You have the makings of a find young man. We will need to get past some of your distrust and fears due to the way your aunt and uncle treated you. And yes, Harry, I know. I also know you did nothing to deserve your treatment. Some Muggles can't accept magic. And there have been other attempts of beating magic out of a muggle-born child. It is one of the things a magical guardian should be preventing. The fact that yours did not will be a discussion for another day. Today, Luna and I want to welcome you into our family."
"Hermione? Susan? They know? Luna?" Harry stumbled on what was most important to him.
"I know only bits Harry, because of my gifts. Hermione's parents guessed based on what she has been writing and telling them, and they have been drilling her on the best ways to help. Susan figured it out because she has paid attention to what her aunt has been saying. It is because Susan wrote her aunt to find out what she should do that Madam Bones was able to get you away from those people Harry.
So yes, Harry, to answer your question, we all know, and we have known for some time, and none of us pity you. Instead we are honored by the fact you can reach out to us and be our friend."
- - (()) - -
"Now before I return you to Hogwarts, I have one more thing to do. Luna, I believe this belongs to you." Amelia said as she handed Luna a small box.
Luna opened the box and her already wide eyes grew just a bit wider. "My brooch!"
"Since the person that took it has admitted to taking it as a way to stay out of prison, I do not need your brooch as evidence. Wear it in good health, Luna."
Pinning the sparkling piece that looked much like a dream catcher made of diamonds and rubies on her chest brought a profound change to Luna. She sighed and relaxed for a moment before smiling again. "I had forgotten how much this helps me."
"The DMLE has put a couple of very specific traces on your brooch, Luna, if it ever goes missing again, contact me, and we should be able to get it back quickly. Now, say your goodbyes, I need to get you back to your school."
- - (()) - -
"Harry, Susan, Hermione, and Luna looked up from the table in the Great Hall where they were studying to find Daphne Greengrass standing in front of them. Daphne was alone, although there were several Slytherin students watching from a short distance away.
"Professor Snape has told me that your observations are a part of how Edgecombe was caught. She had also taken something important to my family, and it was returned to me today." Daphne paused and visibly marshaled her thoughts. "The Greengrass family owes you a debt for the return of my ring." Daphne's left hand moved to touch the large ring on the middle finger of her right hand, verifying it was again where it needed to be. "My father has asked that I offer some service to you to start repaying our family's debt. I can't control Malfoy and his bookends, but the rest of Slytherin will be going out of their way to ignore you and your friends for the rest of the year."
Having finished her speech, Daphne cringed as she waited for the scorn she expected to fall upon her, instead…
"Trust me in this; you need to acknowledge the Greengrass family debt to your family, and also acknowledge the efforts the Greengrass family is making towards repaying that debt."
Harry stared at his young friend hard for a moment before turning back to Daphne.
"Thank you, I am pleased I was able to help the Greengrass family in some small way, and I agree that your efforts will start to balance any debt owed to my family."
Daphne stared first at Harry, and then Luna.
"Lovegood, I thank you for your help in this." Daphne finally stuttered, she then nodded towards Harry and returned to her fellow Slytherins. Daphne had a letter to write, Lovegood was becoming something close to stable, and it appeared she had direct influence over Potter. Derided though the Lovegood family might be they were an old pure family and it now appeared that Lovegood knew the old and accepted forms. This could change a great deal.
- - (()) - -
"That was a bit rough, but I think you impressed Daphne, Harry," Susan said.
"What I want to know is why I wanted to impress … Daphne Greengrass."
"Before you ask, Hermione, what you just saw was a traditional first move." Luna said before Hermione could interrupt. "That ring must mean as much to the Greengrass family as my brooch does to the Lovegood family. Even though you think you didn't do anything, the Greengrass family does.
The Malfoy family might have the gold, but if you look at the power of the traditional families, you find the Greengrass family sitting on the top of the pyramid.
Daphne just moved from being a fourth year student, to the acknowledged head of Slytherin. She and her family had to have used a huge amount of political clout to get all of her house, but Malfoy, to agree to ignore you. It is too bad there is no Quidditch this year, watching a Slytherin/ Gryffindor game with no bloodshed would be a first."
"Okay, so that was a first move. What comes next?" Harry asked as he filtered through the information Luna was passing on while Hermione started scribbling notes at neck break speed.
"Susan and I help you write a note to Daphne's father. If we do it right, You-Know-Who will lose nearly all of his pure-blood support."
- - (()) - -
"Wait for it."
"Wait for what Harry?" Hermione asked. "The goblet has spit out three names and yours wasn't one of them."
As if in response to Hermione's statement the Goblet of Fire re-lit and one more piece of paper flew out of the magical artifact.
"I told you."
"Yes, you told me, but it might not have your name on..."
"Harry Potter" read Dumbledore
Harry smirked at Hermione and pulled his well worn book of contacts out and paged to the important page and removed his hand written notes, all the while ignoring the sputtering and empty curses coming from Ron, several places away. It was quite a shock when Harry thought about it. He and Hermione were not missing Ron's company at all.
"I hope you packed like you were told to, Hermione." Harry said as before he turned to face Professor McGonagall. "Yes, Professor?"
"The Headmaster wants you to join the other champions while..."
"No, Professor, I won't be joining the champions. I did not put my name in the goblet and will not compete." Harry interrupted the witch.
"Mr. Potter, your name came out of the Goblet, you must compete."
"No, Professor, did you not hear me the first time? I did not put my name in the Goblet and I will not be joining the champions."
A student did not often stand up to a professor as imposing as Minerva McGonagall, the Great Hall became quiet as everyone strained to listen to the conversation happening at the Gryffindor table.
"Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter, and a detention..."
"Which I will not be serving, Professor. And I do not appreciate your attempts to kill me."
"Kill you? I am your head of house, Mr. Pott..."
"If you were really acting like my head of house, you would stand up for my rights instead of standing up for every other house's rights first. You would listen when your students came to you with issues, or do I need to remind you how you shrugged Hermione and me off our first year. You would not assign a detention to first year students in the Forbidden Forest at night when something was killing unicorns. The school rules say something about a head of house being required to meet with their house at least once a month. I am a fourth year student and I have never even heard of such a meeting in your house."
"My duties as Deputy"
"What part of required did you not understand, Professor? And now you want me to compete in a contest that is designed for seventh years. A contest, I might add, where several of the seventh year contestants have died over the years. That does not sound like you are standing up for my rights as my head of house.
I did not put my name in the Goblet, if I join the champions that did put their name in, I am acknowledging that the Goblet has the authority to choose someone who did not intend to enter and that is what allows the magical contract to form. I do not want to grant the Goblet that authority. I am going to stay right here until after the champions have been briefed on the first task, which officially starts the contest. That will defuse any potential contract between me and your oh so intelligent Goblet of Fire.
And if you try to hold me to that detention, I will be contacting a magical solicitor about your attempts to murder me while masquerading as the Gryffindor head of house, Professor."
Harry handed the sputtering, embarrassed, and angry transfiguration professor some parchment holding copies of the relevant pages from the book he had received from Luna what seemed to be a lifetime ago.
"Here you go, Professor, these are the magical laws that relate to contacts based on a magical lottery. You can check my work yourself."
– – (()) – –
"Mr Potter refuses to compete, Albus," Minerva announced when she entered the room holding the three properly selected champions. "And it seems he has valid reasons. According to some references Mr. Potter found, since he did not enter his name, the contract will not form if he refused to be present during this briefing."
"But of course he entered his name," Moody exclaimed.
"He says he didn't, and when I took him to task for saying so, he took me to task for failing to act in his best interests as his head of house."
Albus, who was glancing through the pages Minerva had given him, looked up at that."
"Bring Mr. Potter here, Minerva, we need to get that hashed out."
"No, Albus, I am willing to meet with you and Mr. Potter, after the contest has started, but I am afraid I have failed my house several times in the past several years. If I am going to be a head of house, I need to start acting like one."
"Very well, Minerva, please bring Harry up to my office later," Albus said before turning to Crouch. "You may begin. I will test Mr. Potter for a magical contract to compete later. If he has a contract I will brief him. If he does not have a contract, he will not need to compete."
"Alastor, that is my decision."
– – (()) – –
Luna crossed over to the Hufflepuff table and sat beside a worried Susan.
"He is fine, Susan," Luna reassured. "He did exactly what he should have. He will not need to compete in this silly contest." Luna then grabbed Susan's hand managed to focus her friend's attention on her.
"Susan, this is important," Luna explained earnestly. "You need to pack tonight. Something is going to happen late tonight or tomorrow, and I believe you will be pulled from Hogwarts for a time. Now let's go support Harry. His evening has only just started."
– – (()) – –
"I can't believe Mr. Potter feels I have failed as his head of house, Filius" Minerva groused while waiting for the time she needed to gather Mr. Potter for his visit with the Headmaster.
"I'm not sure why not, Minerva, Mr. Potter's reasons were clear and valid. Several from my house have commented on how poorly Gryffindor is represented through the years. You really can't be both a head of house as well a deputy. The positions have several conflicts. While you have made an excellent deputy, your head of house record is very poor. About the only time you act as a head of house is when you are deducting points; never when members of your house need your support. Then you are always the deputy and must be harshly impartial."
Minerva looked at her co-teacher and friend for a moment, a haunted expression pasted on her now pale face.
"Is it really that bad, Filius? Am I really that bad?"
"I think you need to answer that yourself, Minnie. I'm not going to drop you. I owe you too much from when I was hired, and you took me in hand and taught me how to teach. But, in my opinion, when you took on the deputy duties, you took on too much. Something had to give, and thankfully, your teaching is not what has suffered. Good night Minnie."
Filius left for his own office. He wanted to check out the contract rules Mr. Potter was spouting as well.
When the three champions re-entered the hall, a chastised Minerva got up and walked back to where Mr. Potter was sitting, now with Ms. Granger, Ms. Bones, and Ms. Lovegood surrounding him. Lovegood was congratulating Mr. Potter and spouting some nonsense about Mr. Potter dodging a golden BB. Ms. Lovegood was doing much better now that she had her brooch back, but some of the things she said still made no sense.
"As you assumed, the Headmaster would like to meet with you. The three champions have been briefed and have returned. Assuming you have read your references correctly, you will not need to compete, but the Headmaster will be performing a spell to determine you have entered into a magical contract with the Goblet as he believes you have."
"Very well, Professor. Let's go find out who is correct," Harry said as he stood.
– – (()) – –
"Harry, please be seated," Albus said as Harry and Minerva entered his office to find Professor Snape already seated.
"No, sir, I will wait at the bottom of the stairs until you have finished with Professor Snape, sir. He is not my head of house, and is not needed for the discussion you and I will be having," Harry said as he turned back towards the door.
"Harry, Professor Snape has my complete support." Albus began he oft repeated platitude.
"I'm glad he does, sir, but that does not change the fact that he has no business attending a meeting between my head of house, you and me, sir. I will wait at the …"
"Arrogant brat, you..." Severus interrupted only for Minerva to interrupt him in turn.
"I must agree with Mr. Potter, Albus, Severus has no business attending this meeting." Minerva returned to the door and opened it. "Mr. Potter, I am pleased you are trying to avoid a conflict, I agree you should wait downstairs."
The expected explosion happened shortly after the door closed, but the person that exploded was Minerva instead of Severus.
"Really, Albus! I must protest, there is absolutely no reason to include the one professor that Mr. Potter feels is out to get him in a meeting of this type. It doesn't matter that you trust him; it doesn't matter whether I trust him. What matters is that Mr. Potter doesn't feel he can trust him. Mr. Potter has taken me to task this evening about my failing to perform my head of house duties once already. I don't plan on letting him do so a second time. I will wait with Mr. Potter at the bottom of the stairs, when you have finished with Severus, we will come up."
"I want Severus here, madam." Dumbledore snapped. Too many things were going on that he had not foreseen. He wanted his spy present. No matter what others might say, Severus was good at observing things. It was worth the risk of fraying Mr. Potter's temper, as that could be used to get the boy to compete. Albus needed to find out how Mr. Potter's name was added to the Goblet, assuming the boy had not added it himself.
"And my being Mr. Potter's head of house means nothing?"
"Fetch Mr. Potter."
Minerva had reached the end and she knew it. With those words she felt the wards of Hogwarts change; she was no longer a member of the staff.
"Fetch him yourself, Headmaster. It seems you just fired me as the wards no longer feel I am on staff. I will let you know where to send my things when I have settled elsewhere. Filius knows where I keep my lesson plans; I had three classes Monday, including the Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw first years. Do try to not scare them away from transfiguration."
And with that parting shot, Minerva McGonagall exited the Headmaster's office, never to return.
– – (()) – –
"What just happened?" Albus had to ask.
"You ignored and overrode the Gryffindor head of house in a manner that showed you no longer considered her worthy of that honor. Her contract, like mine, ties her to Hogwarts as a head of house first, and a teacher dependent on her being a head of house second. I will not be able to teach the dunderheaded first year transfiguration Monday as I have the 3rd year Slyithern and Gryffindors the same period."
"You will need to disappear, Severus, I am going to need to mend my fences with Minerva, I can't have her walk out just now."
"She already did, Headmaster, as deputy, she would know if the wards changed, and she feels your actions released her. I will see you in the morning then. I would like to know if Potter is under contract or not."
Severus exited Albus' office with his patented billowing cape following behind him.
– – (()) – –
Albus put his issues with Minerva out of his mind and composed himself for his next meeting with Harry and waited…And waited... And waited.
Albus had been sure Minerva was bluffing and would show up with Harry, but if she wasn't and she had actually been released…And Albus had not asked Severus to have Harry come up. This would spoil the aura Albus had wanted to project, but it seemed he had no choice but to invite Harry up himself… except no one was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. It seemed Mr. Potter had gotten tired of waiting and had left on his own.
- - (()) - -
"What is the meaning of this, Albus?" an angry Flitwick exclaimed while barging into the Headmaster's office without being invited.
"The meaning of what?" Albus snapped responding back. He had had no sleep. Between looking for the officially missing Harry Potter, and the seemingly fired Minerva McGonagall on top of the sudden pile of paper work that had appeared on his desk, there had been no time to sleep. With the inclusion of two additional schools, there were too many people on the castle grounds for the wards to be able to say where either Harry or Minerva where located. The paper work Albus could send to Flitwick with the intention of making him the new deputy. Wait was that what his problem was?
"Why are four students withdrawing from Hogwarts, and why did their paperwork saying they were withdrawing land on my desk? Only one of them was a Ravenclaw.
"What four students?" Albus asked, although he could guess.
"Luna Lovegood, Hermione Granger, Susan Bones and Harry Potter."
"Miss Granger and Mr. Potter can't be withdrawn without my approval, I am…"
"An old fool it seems, the paperwork has been filed and accepted which means your approval was not needed. Now why did the paperwork land on my desk? That is your job.
"I am appointing you my new deputy."
"What? I can."
"No, you can't, the position of deputy is not an appointment, it is something both parties must agree to, and after seeing the way Minerva botched being both a head of house and a deputy, I have no intention of harming the students under my care that way. While I am not surprised Minerva resigned as deputy, I am surprised I haven't seen her this morning…"
"Filius, I need you to be deputy for a while. And I will likely need you to teach some of Minerva's classes" Albus was losing patience, he needed to get back to finding Harry.
"You fired her?
"That was not my intention, but she stood against me on Mr. Potter's behalf."
"And that is her job as a head of house, and you fired her for it. Albus, I will not be deputy, and I can't teach transfiguration. You need to get in touch with the Board about getting a replacement."
"The Board will want to stick their noses in the way I run my school…"
"Which, in case you've forgotten, is their job. You might be the Headmaster, but you do not own this school.
"IT IS MY SCHOOL! If you can't help then get out!" Albus snapped, and regretted it just as soon as he said the words.
"It seems you need to find more than just a transfiguration instructor, Headmaster, I will not be a part of your little kingdom any longer, I'll be gone just as soon as I have packed my things. Good day."
The ex-charms professor paused on his way out the door. "You were once a great man, Headmaster. But it seems you started to believe that being great means you can't make a mistake."
"And that was your first mistake…" echoed back as the door closed.
- - (()) - -
Ten minutes later Albus groaned as he found the paperwork the Ministry had sent showing a change in the magical guardianship of one Hermione Granger to Amelia Bones. And right underneath that was the paperwork showing that Xenophilius Lovegood had assumed full guardianship of one Harry Potter, in an uncontested transfer signed by the previous Muggle guardians, the Dursleys. Bones had timed her moves well…
"Albus!" As if on cue the floo flared up to show Minster Fudge's puzzled face. "Amelia Bones resigned this morning, claiming you had no confidence in her work! The Aurors are up in arms that you didn't trust Madam Bones, and are resigning wholesale. I need you here…Albus?...ALBUS!"
- - (()) - -
The Daily Prophet
Dumbledore Dead, the Ministry and Hogwarts in Chaos
Albus Dumbledore died of what seems to have been a massive stoke this morning while in his office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry leaving both that school and the Ministry of Magic in shambles.
"The signs were all there if you knew to look for them," said med-witch Poppy Pomfrey. "In the time leading up to his fatal stroke, the Headmaster and Chief of the Wizengamot grew more and more mentally unstable. He insulted the respected Madam Amelia Bones who resigned as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement as a result of the insult; he tried to force a fourth year student to compete in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, which was closed to all but seventh year students; he fired Minerva McGonagall and Filius Flitwick, both long time friends and instructors at Hogwarts; and his actions forced four students to withdraw from the school citing that they felt it was not safe to remain."
The results of the death of the Chief Warlock and Headmaster have shown why most countries do not allow the same person to have both positions.
The Board of Governors of Hogwarts have been forced to close the school pending the replacement of the Headmaster's position as well as the positions of deputy, head of Gryffindor, head of Ravenclaw houses; the Charms professor and the Transfiguration professor. Because of the forced closure of the School the Tri-Wizard Tournament is being moved to Beauxbatons in France with all of the Hogwarts seventh year students being housed in that school for their NEWT year. Durmstrang has agreed to take the Hogwarts fifth year students for their OWL year.
If anything the Ministry of Magic is in even worse shape. Ex-Minster Cornelius Fudge was forced to resign from his position after it was shown that without Dumbledore to tell him what to do, Fudge was unable to make any decisions. Fudge has been replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour temporarily, pending an election to be ratified by the Wizengamot. One of the first items of business for the new Minister will be the re-hiring of nearly a third of the Auror force who resigned in protest when Madam Bones resigned. Madam Bones was last seen taking an international port-key out of Britain, saying she needed to find a new school for her niece and wards…
- - (()) - -
Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, Hermione Granger and Susan Bones all sat down for lunch at their new school. Hidden in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States, their new school was quite different from their old school. There were no houses of students for one thing, rather there were dormitories, and all four of them were now housed in the Jackalope dorm. But that was just the place they slept there were no dorm points given or taken, and classes might or might not have any of their dorm mates. Their class schedules were more flexible for another difference. And while the classes tended to be divided between the different years, it was not mandatory, Luna, for instance, had managed to place in the same charms class with the other three. And Harry had placed in a DADA class two full terms higher than the rest of them.
Life was good here, they were making several new friends and the teachers all seemed to have more time to help any student that was having issues. Sirius had managed to make it to Mexico and was claiming political asylum which made Harry happy. Still there was one more bit of business they needed to do.
Taking great care, Luna removed her brooch and then stared at her friend trustfully.
"Luna, what should I do to get rid of Voldemort?"
"First, you should contact the Greengrass family…"
I have no idea where this fic came from. I was happily writing on my longer story that I have been writing for over a year when seemingly out of nowhere this appeared. It turned out to be longer than I wanted it to be, and not as humorous as I wanted it to be. But here it is.