Chapter 10 – Troll

The next morning Harry had calmed down a bit from his confrontation with Dumbledore. When Harry's newspaper arrived in the middle of breakfast, he was delighted to see Rita's latest article was the Prophet's headline story.

Did Dumbledore Kill His Squib Little Sister?

By Rita Skeeter

This reporter has learned that Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts headmaster, one of our most revered leaders and so-called Champion of the Light, may well have killed his own sister, Arianna Dumbledore, who happened to be a squib. There was a fight between Albus Dumbledore and his close friend, Gellert Grindelwald, which, I am informed, resulted in Arianna's unfortunate demise.

This shocking discovery resulted from information provided to me by another well-known and respected authority on wizarding history, Bathilda Bagshot.

As it turns out, the circumstances of the young squib girl's death were purposefully hidden from public scrutiny. If Headmaster Dumbledore is truly the saintly figure and champion of the underclass that he has long been purported to be, then why did he go to such exhaustive lengths to conceal not only the existence of his sister, but also the manner of her death? And what other shocking secrets might Albus Dumbledore be hiding under his robes?

When I went to the Ministry to search for details regarding the demise of little miss Dumbledore, I discovered that there was no mention of the incident at all. Which begs the question... Was an investigation conducted at all? And, if so, why wasn't Dumbledore charged in connection with his sister's untimely death?

When I contacted the DMLE for a statement regarding this blatant miscarriage of justice, they flatly refused to comment. Undersecretary Umbridge, however, has assured me that she will have the matter investigated throughly.

Harry sat back to enjoy watching Dumbledore splutter and fume. His good mood continued until he received Remus' response to his owl.

Dear Harry,

I am sorry if you feel that I have betrayed your trust. I was only looking out for your best interests. Anyway, I recovered the majority of the Basilisk parts that I gave Dumbledore.

Unfortunately, Professor Snape had already used some parts by the time I arrived. Since you obviously feel very strongly about this issue, I will repay you for the items that Professor Snape has used. It might take me some time to repay you in full, but I swear that I will. The rest of the money will be in the Grangers' possession by Sunday at the latest.

I don't understand why you have such strong negative feelings against Professor Dumbledore. He has done many great things for magical society and for me personally as well. If you had informed me of your distrust of Professor Dumbledore, I might have acted differently. Harry, you should know that your parents always had great respect for Professor Dumbledore, just like most good citizens of the wizarding world.

Regards,

Remus Lupin

After reading the letter, Harry passed it over to Hermione so that she could read it too. Knowing how hurt and upset Harry was after being betrayed by the man he had considered both a mentor and friend, Hermione quietly led him to a nearby empty classroom to give him an opportunity to vent his frustrations.

"Harry, do you want me write Remus back for you?" Hermione asked, just as soon as they were alone.

"Thanks, Hermione. Right now, I'm just too angry with Remus to deal with him myself. We discussed the fact I had access to Basilisk parts during our first meeting. If he had concerns about the potential danger involved, then he should have spoken with me about it instead surrendering them to Dumbledore without even asking me. He is a grown man and he is behaving like a child."

"I understand your perspective, but I can also understand Remus'. You can't really blame someone for taking a particular action if you don't warn them about why they shouldn't do it in the first place. That's called communication, Harry."

"Okay, you're right. I didn't think about that."

"So, do you want to write the letter or do you still need me to do it?"

"I'll do it."

Dear Remus,

I don't blame you for going to Professor Dumbledore, who sounds like someone you truly admire. This situation is my own fault for not warning you that I don't trust him and this latest action just reinforced my negative opinion of the man. For him to seize something so valuable that doesn't belong to him makes me continue to question his personal ethics.

You can repay the money that was lost and I will grant you the extension you requested. But understand this; another repeat performance or any other betrayal of my trust and I will demand and expect immediate payment of all outstanding debts.

Just so you know, the person I obtained the Basilisk from had it appraised at 350,000 galleons street value. So that is how much I expect to receive. In installments, of course.

Regards,

Harry Potter

Harry had Hermione read over the missive and approve it, then they rushed off to find Hedwig and sent her on her way.

The next few days were filled with nothing but classes, preparations for the raids and piles of homework. Professor Dumbledore was often absent from meals, much to Harry's relief. Then Halloween finally arrived and Harry was a complete nervous wreck. As they walked down to the Great Hall for breakfast, Harry couldn't hold it in any longer.

"It's a lot easier not knowing what's coming than it is knowing what's about to happen and being forced to wait until the time is right."

"I know what you mean. It's really hard to do homework when we have to be careful to avoid showing how advanced we are, too."

"So what's on our agenda for tonight?"

"I'm going to feed Fluffy some contaminated meat at lunch time. It won't hurt him, it's just designed to start an infection in anyone he happens to bite. Then we'll just hang around the library after classes to wait for the troll. Once the troll is in the building, we go to the bathroom and take it out."

The rest of the day went exactly as planned with Hermione feeding Fluffy before getting ready for the evening. Harry was busy copying as many books from the Restricted Section as he could, taking advantage of the library being empty as everyone while everyone was stuffing themselves at the Halloween feast. Hermione was researching and keeping an eye out for the troll on the Marauders' Map.

As soon as she spotted the troll on the map, she jumped up and grabbed Harry.

"It's time, let's go!"

They quickly made their way to the same girl's lavatory where Hermione had encountered the troll the first time around, tracking the troll's movements via the map to make sure they were directly in its path. Hermione was holding Harry back as he was visibly eager to confront the troll and attack it. When they arrived at the lavatory, she had to take a moment to calm him down before they were able to proceed.

They arrived just as the troll made it to the stairwell. They went into their pre-planned positions with Hermione heading inside and Harry leaning against the wall just outside as if he was waiting for her.

When the troll got there, Harry yelled, "Aren't you finished yet, Hermione? We need to get to the feast before everything's gone!"

"I'm almost done, I'll be out in a minute, okay?"

"Hurry up, I think I saw something!"

"Then do something, I'm coming!"

Harry used Aquamenti to hose down the wall outside of the girls lavatory. The confused troll stared down to find its feet surrounded by a huge puddle of water. Then Harry used a freezing spell to turn the puddle into a sheet of ice, causing the troll to lose its balance and fall.

Harry yelled, "Hermione, stay in the toilets and lock the door, there's a troll out here!"

Which was the prearranged signal for Hermione to attack and take out the troll.

Hermione immediately opened the door to find the troll right outside, She screamed, then cast a spell that shoved the troll back towards the stairs. The troll landed hard when it hit the ice and slid up and over the railings before hitting its head on the floor below, knocking it out cold.

Harry then extracted his memory of the encounter with the troll and fished a vial from his pocket, saving it for later review in his pensieve. He had only just finished when the professors arrived in force, with only Professors Quirrell and Professor Snape missing from the group.

"Why were you two out here and not in your dorms?" Professor McGonagall demanded.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked, innocently.

"We told everyone attending the Halloween Feast to go to straight to their dorms, young man. Now why are you here and not safe in your dormitory?"

"Professor, Harry and I weren't actually at the feast... Harry doesn't like to be reminded of the night his parents were killed. So we decided to hang out in the library instead. We were heading for the kitchens to get something to eat, but I needed to stop at the lavatory. That's when we encountered the troll.

"What happened then?"

"Hermione was finishing up and I was outside waiting for her when the troll showed up. I told Hermione to hurry so we could get away. But you know how it is, girls always take such an awfully long time, so I had to delay the troll until help turned up. I watered down the area in front of the lavatory and turned it into ice. The troll slipped and fell and I was going to try to get it away from Hermione, but she blasted open the door and the troll went flying."

"What spell did you use?"

"I don't know, I just panicked, I wanted the thing away from me. I aimed my wand and it and the troll went zooming across the ice."

Harry wondered aloud, "How did a troll get inside the school anyway? I thought the Hogwarts was supposed to be safe."

"We will be looking into that, I assure you." Dumbledore said, twinkling in his grandfatherly manner.

"Let me get this straight, you don't know what's going on at the school you happen to be in charge of?"

Dumbledore was visibly disappointed whenHarry began questioning his actions. Professor Dumbledore was so used fawning respect and admiration, so Harry's obvious lack of respect was making it very difficult for the headmaster to control his temper, which pleased Harry to no end.

"Shouldn't one of you check on the troll?" Hermione questioned, hoping to defuse the rapidly building tension in the room.

Flitwick and McGonagall both rushed off to handle the troll while Harry and Dumbledore continued to stare at each other down. When McGonagall and Flitwick came back, they were still looking at each other with obvious distaste.

McGonagall eyed them both for a moment, then said, "The troll is unconscious. We've taken the liberty of moving it out of Hogwarts and into the Forbidden Forest."

Seeing Dumbledore and Harry trading a look, she quickly added,"Why don't we have both of you checked out at the infirmary, make sure neither of you were injured? Professor Flitwick, would you please clean this up while Professor Dumbledore looks into how the troll got in here in the first place?" McGonagall lead Harry and Hermione to the infirmary while her diminutive colleague started cleaning up the hall.

The next day, after they were medically cleared by Madam Pomfrey, the pair traipsed off for a hearty breakfast at the Great Hall. Since they were kept for observation in the infirmary all night-despite their protests that they were perfectly fine-a rumor had begun floating around the school that both Harry and Hermione had been badly injured during their encounter with the troll. The fact that they hadn't returned to their dorms as usual the night had given real credibility to the rumour. Hermione suspected that their night in the infirmary was part of a deliberate ploy by Professor Dumbledore to damage their public image and make them both sound crazy. So she warned Harry to not mention the troll incident last night at all and just say they were kept in the infirmary for observation. Her suspicions were proven correct when Professor Dumbledore took a moment to make a brief announcement that the troll had been dealt with and would no longer be a problem, purposefully giving everyone the impression that he and the other professors had been the ones to deal with the troll, not two first year students. The lack of points being awarded to Harry and Hermione for their services to the school was the clincher.

After classes had finished for the day, Harry and Hermione headed to the Granger home to see what had happened while they had been so busy. They found Dan and Emma in the living room where they were having tea with someone unfamiliar. Hermione hugged her parents while Harry politely greeted Dan and Emma.

"Harry and Hermione, we would like to introduce you to Alice Branstead. She is our new administrative assistant and your new librarian," Dan told them.

"She was one of the candidates we interviewed on Monday, she just started on Wednesday, " Emma added.

"Nice to meet you both. The Doctors Grangers have been telling me all about you and I look forward to working with you."

"Nice to meet you too, Miss Branstead." They both said a little overwhelmed by the enthusiast nature of their new employee.

"Please call me Alice. Sorry, I am just so terribly excited. The library you have is truly massive. When I applied for this position, I thought that the job would be mainly dealing with administration at the dental surgery and looking after a small private library. Instead, I found out you lot have multiple operations both in the magical world and the muggle world with plans to expand. And not a small family library, but a large tent filled with two rooms completely full with another one well on its way to being filled. Goodness!" she exclaimed.

"Do you mind telling me a little about yourself, Alice?" Harry asked.

"Oh, of course not, Mr. Potter. I worked in both the magical and muggle worlds as an administrative assistant for many years and have some additional experience as a librarian. My biggest hobby is reading and I support equality as my mother was a werewolf and my father was a Muggleborn wizard. Due to my mother's condition, I wasn't allowed to go to magical school and we could not afford private tutors, so I was educated in the muggle world."

"Alice, please call me Harry."

"And you can call me Hermione."

"Do you have any questions, Harry, Hermione?"

"Do you have a wand?" Hermione asked.

"Yes I do. My father tutored me at home for two OWLs so I could legally own my own wand."

"Which do you prefer, the magical world or the muggle one?" Hermione asked, curious.

"I think that both have their good points and bad points. They are just very different."

"That's a great answer and we totally agree. Welcome to our team."

"Are you staying here or do you have your own place?" Harry asked.

"I was planning on keeping my own place but now that I have seen the number of book I'll be in charge of, I am now inclined to stay here. As I love reading, you'll probably have to drag me away each evening to send me home and I don't think I should bring any books home, I've noticed that some of the volumes are exceedingly rare," Alice explained.

Harry thought for a moment. "Dan, Emma, can arrangements be made if she does decide to stay here?"

"If she wants to stay, then Alice could share a tent with Emily. That is, until we are able to find a bigger place for us all. We're actually looking right now. We spoke to a real estate agent and they're trying to find a place big enough to fit our growing needs. The fact that we're able to pay in cash ought to speed up the process tremendously."

"How about Ashley, our budding Potions mistress? What's happening with her?"

"We have signed an agreement with her and she'll be starting next week. She'll be busy most of next week, buying the equipment and supplies to set-up the potion lab. Hermione, can you come sometime late next week to show her some of the potions you've been making?" Emma asked.

"Where will she be staying?" Harry wanted to know.

"Doug found a special tent that will be used for her potions lab. Since we have so many tents, Doug just finished building a pagoda in the back yard that now houses all of our tents, with an anti-Muggle notice-me-not ward to keep curious people away. The goblins took care of getting approval to build a special pagoda, so we're all set there.

"See you later, Mum, Mad. By the way, where are Doug and Emily?"

"In their tents, getting some rest."

"Nice meeting you, Alice, we need to get back to school, but we'll see you around," Harry smiled at their new employee as they left.

Harry and Hermione visited the tents and rounded up Emily and Doug so that they could discuss the raids to be conducted the following day.

"Ready for tomorrow, Doug?" Harry asked.

"Not really, but then I don't think I'll ever be ready," Doug replied.

"You did get everything you need, right?"

"Yes. Even quite a few things I don't think I'll really need, but that I got just in case," Doug flexed his shoulders, trying to work out the tension that had settled there.

"Good."

"Emily, how about you? Are you ready for tomorrow?" Harry asked Emily.

"Yes, but Doug is taking the lead on our little adventure, so my preparation and assistance was rather limited, as I don't have any curse-breaking experience. Instead, I've been spending much of my time working creating duplicates of the vanishing cabinets. I think we're going to need to hire a cabinetmaker who is experienced with both Muggle and magical techniques."

"Doug, can you help Emily find someone fitting that description, maybe next week sometime?"

"It might be a bit difficult to locate such a person. They might not exist here in the UK, we might need to make it a global search, which is liable to take a while."

"That's okay, just find someone who can help Emily. By the way, did you manage to find a pensieve in all that stuff you were sorting through?"

Doug pulled out his list and scanned it quickly.

"We did find three small pensieves. Why, do you want to keep them?"

"Yes and any other ones you find. I going to give you a memory that I need you to pass along to Rita Skeeter for me."

"What the hell are you dealing with that bitch for? If you'll pardon my french, ladies," Doug exclaimed in outrage.

"Sometimes we're going to have to dance with the devil to make a necessary deal, Doug. Rita Skeeter's a very well-known reporter who has made her reputation on taking people apart. Having her working for us neutralises her as a potential threat and makes her an asset instead. That's why I'm going to set up a meeting between you and Rita for Sunday afternoon. You'll give her the memory of an incident at school and that she'll be using to further discredit Dumbledore. Can you also give her 300 galleons for me, that's her monthly pay," Harry explained.

"What was the incident at school that you want Rita to see?" Emily asked, visibly concerned.

"Somehow a troll got into the school, it went after Hermione and almost killed us. We want to know why and how a troll could get into a school like Hogwarts. The professors have not revealed the results of any investigation, assuming there even was an investigation. This affects the safety of all Hogwarts students, and we have a right to know what's going on."

"I can understand why you're doing it, but I really don't like Skeeter at all. Anything else, Harry?"

"If she doesn't have a pensieve or access to one, then let her borrow one of the ones you found. Also, ask her if she has any information that might encourage the apothecary in Diagon Alley to become available for sale. Tell her we'll make it worth her while," Harry said, after some thought.

"What if she has information like that about the apothecary? What do you want me to do?"

"If she does, give her 50 galleons as a deposit. Tell her that if the information results in us being able to purchase the apothecary for ourselves, we will then negotiate a suitable reward for her services to us in this matter."

"Basically tell her, here is 50 galleons if the information turns out to be valuable then additional compensation will be forthcoming."

"Exactly. Speaking of forthcoming, have you guys heard anything about our acromantula hunter candidates? I forgot to ask Dan and Emma about them."

"We have six people starting next week, including a team leader. They'll only be working one night a week and they get paid on commission."

"Hm. Maybe you should locate us another of those oversized magical trunks and ask the shopkeeper there about any cabinetmakers he happens to know. Maybe even subcontract his personal cabinetmaker to us, with the usual provisions about confidentiality and potential patent-worthy discoveries," Hermione added.

Doug smacked himself in the head. "I should have thought of that one myself."

"Well we got to be going see you tomorrow bright and early." Hermione says in farewell.

"See you guys tomorrow." Harry adds.

Harry then quickly writes a letter to Rita organising the meeting with Doug.

A/N Responses to reviews

ceo55 – What happened was that Remus goes to Dumbledore before he sells the Basilisk parts and Dumbledore confiscates the items claiming it is for the protection of Harry. Then gives it to Snape who immediately begins experimenting with it. The reason why it is sold only in Britain is that they don't want to pay the huge bribes or customs duties that would allow something that valuable to leave the country. That is why Harry got them working on recreating the vanishing cabinets. Another reason is that the parts are old and not very useful.

ROBERT-19588 - The reason Remus betrays Harry to Dumbledore is that Remus feels like he owes his loyalty to Dumbledore for sticking his neck out by keeping him in school.

Schnuff – Hermione's parents can not pull her out of Hogwarts as Dumbledore is her legal magical guardian once they had agreed to let Hermione go to Hogwarts. Dumbledore would not let any muggleborn leave as it would look bad on him.

LadySonics – I am an Aussie bloke. We spell Organisation with an "s" down under.