Book II - Secrets and the Chamber
"The Tower of London, please." Sheila sat back deeply in the slightly scummy back seat of a taxi and made sure the middle-eastern driver did not try to shanghai her to an unsavory area of town. She tipped him for his prompt trip, giving him a smile and thanking him in his native Farsi.
It was a short trip around the block and into a warded entrance that only a magical being would see. A voice suddenly spoke from the air. "This is a restricted area. This area is haunted by a specter. Your death will not be held responsible by the Ministry of Magic if you proceed."
"Yes, I know." She ignored the apparition giving the warning, heading deeper into the abandoned and hidden wizarding section of the old castle. The dark stone walls seemed to leach what little light made it down.
Her wand was in her hand as she approached the large catacomb. Its Gothic arches disappeared into the shadows above as the specter materialized in her sight.
"Halt! I only wish passage through the death portal and into the realm of Hades," she called out to the vengeful ghost.
"I hath no care." The ghastly and very dead noble was horror personified. "The living hold no sway here."
"I'm not exactly normal. Bar not my path upon the pain of my displeasure," she warned.
"You witches and wizards hold no domain here. The fact that you escaped from Hades will not be allowed to stand!" the specter declared.
"I am Sheila, daughter of Paellas Athena." Her wand came up, firing a black beam that struck the specter, burning it with purple flames. "You shall not bar my path!"
"This is our world! The living will not be countenanced!" the gruesome, tainted ghost screamed as he lunged forward in a flying tackle, purple flames flickering about it
Sheila had already dodged in a cartwheel though, her robes flapping as more flicks of black and purple flames slashed again out at the apparition, dripping silvery blood from the wounds she inflicted.
Instead of screaming in agony, it was... laughing. "Free! Finally free!" he shouted as he vomited purple flames.
The Scion then heard a crack from the back of the ancient chamber where the eye-bending archway embedded in the wall was. That portal had opened and stranded her here, where the specter had attacked her. The non-physical attacks had left her effectively weaponless, so she had to flee into the Muggle London months ago.
Lurid red lines were appearing as more cracking noises.
"Less thinking, Sheila, more running!" she said, taking her words to action and taking off in a blur. She was down the passageways in moments and up the stairs. She had almost made it out to the grassy flat outside the tower when the portal behind her exploded with the force of a powerful bomb.
It was so powerful that it lifted her off the ground and rocketed her across the grass to smash her into the wall. She never heard the snap of her shoulder, as she was far too deafened by the explosion.
In desperation, she tried to apparate to the only location she had memorized earlier from pictures in her friends album for 'just in case'.
Hermione was laughing at one of her father's funny anecdotes from the dentistry practice as they got out of their car. Her laughter cut off fast as she saw a crumpled form appear behind the rose bush with a loud snap. "Sheila?" she shouted as she exited the Bentley as it rolled to a stop.
"It looks like I get to take you up on your offer. At least until I can get back on my feet," the younger girl said. "But I'm going to lie here until I can pull myself together."
"Mum! Dad! She's hurt," the young witch called out.
"We should get her to a hospital," Jane Granger called out as she started to go over the injured girl's wounds.
"I'd really not bother. I heal rather fast," Sheila said in a pained tone.
"What happened? Did you get attacked?" Alexander Granger asked as he knelt down next to her.
"I sort of caused an explosion by defeating the specter guarding the gateway home. I really messed up," she replied in a small voice. "Now I have to find a different way home."
"Home?" Jane asked curiously.
"She comes from another Earth. Well, that's how she explained it to me," Hermione said. "We should get her inside."
The three of them carefully helped her up into the house and onto a bed. Alexander was sent out of the guest room and the mother started to cut away the clothes. "Well, Sheila, you have a broken shoulder, severe bruising and a concussion," she said seriously. "I can't see a way around it, you are going to have to go to a hospital or that St. Mongo's place the teacher mentioned for witches."
"So I should be up in about a week or so. I just need to wrap my shoulder and lay still. This is going to be a long week." Sheila looked quite put out.
"Those sort of injuries take months and sometimes never fully heal," the startled mother exclaimed.
"I'm not exactly normal, Mrs. Granger. You could hit me hard enough to leave bruises and most of them would be gone the next day. If... Wait, I do have access to some things. In my pack is my trunk. I have all of my potion ingredients and books."
"Brilliant. We can make some bruise healing ointments and bone strengthener," Hermione exclaimed as she pulled out the foot long trunk. "But I can't remove the shrinking charm."
"I planned a little ahead. There should be a metal flask there with a spell suppressant. It's slow, but it should remove the shrinking spell in a few hours." Sheila tried to smile, but the bruises on her face were truly bad.
Hermione used a rag to dab the oil across the surface of the trunk. "And it shouldn't affect your rune-work either."
Sheila nodded at that.
They finished wrapped up her shoulder and then immobilized her arm, following Sheila's expert instructions. They then allowed her to sit at the table, where the minimalist meal that Hermione's father had made was laid out.
"You really seem to know your triage," Jane said with a quirked eyebrow.
"I was going to Berkeley for my degree in medicine." Sheila shrugged.
"Medicine? What were you specializing in?" Alexander asked curiously.
"I was looking at surgeon, neuroscience and genetics."
Hermione nodded in interest. "And now that you've had a year of magical education, are you thinking of any magical medical speciality?"
"I've been thinking it over, yes. The synthesis could be quite amazing."
"Do you mind if I turned on the television? The PBS news should be on now," Alexander said. At her nod, he had the news on where the news of the hour was an apparent terrorist attack on the Tower of London. It appeared that no one had been injured, though some blood had been found.
"That gateway really did a number on that wall," she muttered.
"Sheila Henderson! Are you saying you were behind that?" the other Gryffindor shouted.
"The specter guarding the gate was being used as a lock to keep the portal closed and contained. When I destroyed it, the portal exploded. I bounced off the outer wall across the green."
"Are all wizarding children made of rubber or something? That should have killed you," Jane remarked in morbid fascination.
"If their magic can react, yes. Neville recounted that he was dropped as a baby and bounced down the road." Sheila and Hermione had to giggle at that thought.
Hermione badgered her parents into letting Sheila stay for the summer, though Sheila offered to pay them for their troubles.
The Minister of Magic tromped up to the edge of the collapsed wall. "Shacklebolt? What's going on?"
"Something destroyed the specter that lived here and guarded an artifact. Looks like it was tied to the wards and the portal stone exploded when it was killed," the dark-skinned Auror said seriously. That was an awful lot of power to be throwing around. A Class XXXXX specter was something he would want a lot of backup to deal with himself.
"And the culprit? Or what remains of them?" Fudge asked in a frustrated tone.
"Escaped. There's signs of apparation, though the magical explosion is covering most of the traces."
"How are the royals dealing with this?"
"They weren't in re
sidence." The auror shrugged simply.
"What a mess," the minister complained. "So do we have a clue who was attempting to go through?"
"Not really. I would assume someone that just graduated Hogwarts though, as it was the day that the Express was in London. Pure circumstantial evidence, but likely."
"Hmm. Hadn't thought of that. Well, I'll assume you are going to keep at it. Ah, Dumbledore, how are things on your end of the investigation?"
"About the same as Auror Shacklebolt, I dare say. Though I did find a place where it appears a body impacted the outer wall. Even so, only a drop or two of dried blood."
"Not enough for a locator spell?"
"No. And they left very quickly, though likely injured. I would keep an eye on the admittance over at St. Mungos." The headmaster's blue eyes were intent and looking around carefully.
"I'll have the Auror's do that. It's a very good idea."
Sheila slipped out of bed silently, ignoring the bandages as she went over to her trunk. She silently pulled out several items, including a lead lockbox. She had the cauldron set up and the fire lit under it on the table in the guest room. Shavings of silver were dropped into the cauldron to melt down. Black, sickly leaves were ground down to a fine powder in a stone cup.
Moonlight drifted through the lacy windows of the Granger guest room as she worked on cutting more fresh potion ingredients. Greasy slugs oozed black blood and organs were poured into the bubbling silver. Exotic green crystals were poured on top, even as a red powder was stirred in on the edges.
The silver had turned several colors all the while. Blue-steel, then copper red, black and then back to pure silver again as more sticky, gross and arcane ingredients were added. Blue-green eyes looked into the sky, judging the time.
The Philosopher's Stone was taken out of the lock box and settled in the midst of the silver brew as Sheila turned up the heat. She cut her finger, pouring her own black all-color Ichor into the broth, melting the the stone as if it were acid. The inside of the cauldron started glowing, giving off more light than the low heat of melting silver would make one think.
A thick layer of residue was starting to accumulate to the top, only to be carefully pulled off just as the sky was starting to lighten. A clay mold was filled with the purified silver remains, instantly froze with a concentrated chemical icing potion just as the first light struck through the window, shattering the mold.
Sheila looked at the two, interlocking amulets of owls that would sit side by side on one chain. Nestled in the middle was a small ring that could hold the two parts together.
A perfect, matching set of relics for her matched friends. And a ring for herself.
Sheila was almost fully healed in just a day or two, using a few potions that Hermione carefully brewed. Sheila watched, but only corrected her twice from some minor defects that would have slightly weakened the potions.
"Those potions are quite useful. Do you have any others that you could make for use around the house?" Jane asked her daughter after the bruise salve aged all the bruises by weeks in mere moments (and caused Sheila to stifle a shout of pain. It was quite painful while active.)
"I'm sure I have a few. There's a couple of strengthening oils that we could use on the china," Hermione replied with a wide smile. This was a sort of magic that she could use within her home.
"And a few household pepperup potions would be useful. They have the side effect of making Muggles a bit jittery, but do cure their colds," Sheila said as she carefully flexed her arm.
That was when an owl landed on the eave of the window.
"No reply from Harry. How odd," the bushy-haired girl said in a frown.
Sheila looked over at the owl and made a barking noise, very soft and birdlike. The owl blinked its eyes, nodded and then barked back. This went back and forth for a few minutes before Sheila looked over at Hermione, letting the owl leave. "Some humanoid creature took the owls mail."
"What?" Hermione screeched.
"So we'll have to go visit him. Perhaps capture the mail thief. Let's go ask your mother if she will drive us to Little Whinging."
"How do you know where Harry Potter lives?" her friend asked in consternation.
"He mentioned it once and the school he was supposed to go to, called Stonewall."
Jane agree to go with them and several hours later, they were in the area.
"There," Sheila said as she pointed down the street. "That house has a lot of magic on it. And there are Kneazels down the street."
"The funny looking cats? Really?" Hermione asked.
They all exited the car and walked up to the door, letting Sheila hit the buzzer.
The thin, long-necked woman that answered the door looked confused when she saw them.
"Mrs. Dursley?" Sheila asked politely.
"Yes?" the plain woman asked.
"We're here to see Harry Potter, please. Someone has been intercepting his mail."
"Your some of his kind?" the older woman shrieked.
"If you mean magical, only Hermione and I would qualify. Mrs. Granger is a Muggle, you see."
"Boy! Some of your lot is here! Get down here and tell them to leave," Petunia bellowed shrilly.
Harry bounded down the stairs. "Hermione! Sheila! I take it you didn't make it home then?" he asked curiously.
"No, that didn't work at all. Harry, have you been getting your mail? You didn't respond to Hermione's letter and the owl said something took it from it."
"How'd you talk to an owl? Wizards can talk to animals?" Harry suddenly asked in avid curiosity. That reminded him vividly of his own talk with a snake just a year ago.
"None of that talk here!" Harry's aunt called out from down the hall.
"If you don't mind, ma'am, we'll go outside so we don't disturb you," Sheila called out even as she clamped a quick hand over Hermione's mouth.
"See that you do. Boy, be back in an hour," was the reply.
The three kids walked out the front door of static Privet Number 4 and down to a little park through an alley way. Mrs. Granger followed them at a small distance.
"You were the cause of that mess at the Tower of London?" Harry asked in a low tone.
"I didn't know a fact and it was a crucial mistake. Now I'm stuck." Her shoulders drooped heavily.
"You are far, far too brilliant to not figure a way back," Harry replied as he patted her on the shoulder.
"And we'll help. With your help, we are far and away above most of the other first years," Hermione replied with a grin. "I've even asked if we can possibly be placed a year ahead. But Professor McGonnagal said that just was not done."
"I don't know about that," Harry replied, but looked as if he was giving it some thought.
Sheila suddenly leaped into a bush as something shrieked.
"No, no, no! Dobby is not being caught!" the creature shrieked.
"What is that?" Jane asked as Sheila dragged a most curiously looking creature out of the bush by its ears.
The small, gray form with bulbous eyes and amazing large floppy and pointed ears. It was dressed only in a dingy towel.
"Dobby is going to be punished lots," the wailing house elf cried.
"Quiet! So it was a House Elf that was stealing Harry's mail. Return it all immediately," Sheila ordered with a little shake.
"Why do you have him by his ear?" Hermione asked with a wince, asking the question her mother had been itching to ask.
"So he can't pop out."
Harry looked furious, but kept quiet. He then nervously looked around to make sure no one had spotted them.
"Dobby promises to return Harry Potter's letters."
"And not try to stop them again. Or I'll come here again and find you."
"But Dobby was doing this to protect Harry Potter!" the house wailed again. "Oohs, Dobby is in trouble again."
The young Scion let him loose in surprise. "Someone is planning an attack on Harry?" she asked in consternation.
With a frustrated grunt, Dobby summoned Harry's missing mail and then popped away with a wail of, "Dobby must punish himself!"
"That... was odd," Hermione asked.
"House Elves are. Fully magical being that are willingly enslaved. Though I think it was punishment for some vile attack over a thousand years ago." Sheila shook her head. "How are you, Harry? Here with your family, I mean?"
"Things have been okay." The tussled-hair boy grinned suddenly. "I do seem to have forgotten to inform them that I'm not allowed to do magic at home."
"You aren't allowed to do unsupervised magic outside of an emergency. Defending yourself is allowed. I sort of thought it might be something like that. Do you have your telephone number?" Sheila asked.
"Oh, yes." Hermione had a pad of paper out and was ready, taking down the phone number. She put that away. "So, how about lunch?"
"Our treat, Harry."
Jane just smiled as they overcame the young man's reluctance and lack of funds quite handily.
The rest of the afternoon was quite sedate as young friends reacquainted themselves over fish and chips.
Sheila left Harry with a small care package. Two vials. One for varnishing his wand with, that would confound the tracking charms on it without hurting the wand itself and a second to be applied as a salve across his whole body.
"Oh, and Harry?" she said, causing the green-eyed boy to look at her curiously. "Potions aren't illegal. And there's a Muggle repelling potion that will keep them away from your things in Most Potent Potions."
"I don't have a copy of that," Harry mused.
"Don't worry, Harry. I have a copy of the potion recipe right here. Jane, can we have a little privacy?" Sheila dragged Harry and Hermione away over by the bus stop outside. "I made you guys something."
Hermione blinked, looking surprised. "What are you up to?"
"I want to say thanks. And help you. These are Relics, created by me." She handed over the two amulets to each of them along with two rolled up scrolls to Harry. "I made them from the Philosophers Stone we recovered at the end of the school year. Since everyone believes it to be destroyed anyways, I decided to get a proper use out of it."
"What do they do?" Harry asked curiously as he examined the owl amulet in the sun.
"They allow you to access the power of the Earth, Health and Death directly," Sheila was saying casually.
"Wow, you really are healthy," Hermione noted after a moment of concentration. "Not a bit sick are you?"
"No, not at all." Sheila did not quite hide her surprise, her blue-green eyes blinking widely. That was faster than she had expected.
"Careful, we don't want the Ministry to find this out," Harry said in a cautioning tone.
Sheila nodded as she walked back over to Jane. "Well, it's time to head out."
"Harry!" Hermione called out and waved energetically. Witches and wizards bustled around her on the busy street of Diagon Alley. Sheila just grinned lightly at her friend's enthusiasm.
"Hermione! Sheila!" Harry called out. Without his glasses and a hat covering his forehead, he looked like just any other young wizard in his robes. Under his robes peaked out his over-sized slacks and floppy shoes a Hagrid led him into the main area of Diagon Alley safely.
"I see you and the Weasleys made it safe," Sheila said wryly, noting the sea of red-heads just down the road behind him.
"You wouldn't believe what just happened to me," Harry exclaimed.
Sheila noted a new face, hanging behind her much larger brothers hesitantly. "Hello, there. You're Ginny?"
"How'd you know?" the girl asked.
"Ron mentioned you once," she replied.
"She's like that. Has a mind like a steel trap and remembers everything," Hermione explained with a curt nod of her head.
Sheila put a wounded expression on her face. "You are telling her all my secrets and we just met."
Harry just snickered. "Ginny, this is Sheila and Hermione."
"Did you really defeat a troll?" she asked in wonder.
"No, the professors showed up and defeated it. I merely delayed it long enough so that we could escape," Sheila said lightly.
That was when Molly caught up with her brood. "All right you lot, we need to go to the bank and then buy supplies." She clucked her tongue and started moving them all. Hermione and Sheila shared a look and followed along, snagging her parents.
Sheila stood in a separate line from Harry and the Weasleys, Hermione and her parents right behind her.
"Next," the goblin called out in a terribly bored tone.
"I would like to open an account and get some gold turned into Galleons," Sheila said seriously.
"Place your gold here," the hook-beaked goblin said, pointing to a scale.
She placed three small bars on the scale, tipping it over. She was then forced to catch everything with an upset look as the scale failed to carry the weight.
Three more goblins were brought up and they started to argue in their Gobbledegook.
"How much gold is there?" Hermione whispered as her parents looked on in surprise.
"Only about a hundred pound-weight," she replied.
"And where did you get that much money?" Alexander Granger asked in a slightly defensive tone.
Sheila turned and gave him a quick wink. "I played the stock market a bit and I got my first check on one of my inventions." Part of it had, but the greatest part was from her use of the Philosopher's Stone months ago.
"How many inventions have you made and patented?" his wife asked. Jane looked quite flummoxed at the change.
"Over three hundred devices, but only fifty are really valuable." She gave the impression that it was not a very impressive achievement.
The goblins finished their argument. "We will give you 17,5000 Galleons."
"18,000," she countered instantly. "I've already saved you the hassle of converting the Pounds to gold."
The goblin grimaced. "17,600," he retorted quickly. "We have to turn the gold over to the Ministry."
"The Ministry's mint, you mean. Where they give full amount. 17,900 Galleons," she countered. "Last offer before I walk out of here and deal with them myself."
They quickly shook hands and then finalized the paperwork of her vault. Sheila walked out as the Weasleys were coming back up from their cart.
"Do you have enough money, dear, to buy your school supplies?" Molly asked worriedly.
"Beyond a shadow of a doubt. As a matter of fact, I'd like to steal Harry for a bit to get him some late birthday presents," Sheila replied without a smirk.
"Oh? Fixing Harry again?" Hermione said, showing a bit of her frustration.
"Better than hexing the Dursley's to within an inch of their lives," the Scion replied tartly.
Molly led her brood of children (including Harry) outside. "Well, I suppose. You don't mind, do you Harry?"
"I wouldn't mind. I've never been out in London before, really." Harry actually seemed pleased, while behind him Ron actually looked worried.
The rest of the supplies were quite easy to gather. Fred and George joked that Sheila was planning to open an apothecary for herself. Her only reply was a small smile back.
Finally they had their new school robes and were headed to the last place that they had not bought their supplies, Flourish & Blotts. Sheila and Hermione had been curious once they had seen their book list.
"Well, there's nothing to it. Fred and George can share, of course. But Ron, Ginny and Percy all need their own copies," Molly said with a pained expression. "I can't understand why they need complete sets of Gilderoy Lockehart."
"Excuse me, ma'am? Are you meaning to tell me that First through Sixth Years are all using the same books?" Sheila looked flabbergasted, while Hermione just looked slightly confused. "That's insane!"
That was when Fred opened the door, admitting them into the jammed and packed started writing up a list of books on a piece of parchment.
"I'm glad that I'm not sticking out like this," Harry called out into her ear.
She just smirked back as she continued writing. "You're welcome."
Hermione gave Harry a quick hug. "Just Harry!"
He had a terribly wide grin at that, while Ron looked slightly sickened. "Oy, lay off you two."
"A set of Lockhearts?" the tired bookseller asked as they came to the front finally.
"Yes, sir. I would also like this list of books purchased and delivered to Hogwarts, care of Librarian Pince," the young Scion said as she handed over two pieces of papers.
"Young girl, this is over a thousand books," the owner said in confusion. "And exactly how are you going to pay for it?"
"I have a draft I'll fill out from Gringotts. Will that suffice? Or would your wish me to get cash first?" She only had what was left of the thousand galleons in her pouch. That had more than sufficed, even with her buying quality supplies at the apothecary.
"We will fulfill your order as soon as the draft clears," he said in a strangled tone.
"Certainly. I would like a receipt." Once she had her receipt, she headed to the entrance where the rest of the Weasleys were located. She blinked owlishly at Arthur Weasley, who was now sporting a black eye. "I'm sorry, did I miss something?"
"Nothing important," he said with a smile. "Just an argument with a rather disagreeable person."
After a quick supper at the Leaky Cauldron, they waved goodbye to the Weasley.
"I invited Harry over for a few days," Hermione explained as they walked out into 'Muggle' London.
"How are you going to survive, Harry? I mean, it's only a normal household," Sheila joked quietly.
"I'll have to figure that out. Of course, with you two, I'm sure I'll find out that there's something odd going on." Harry followed his two schoolmates and Hermione's parents to their car.
The next two hours was spent buy Harry 'decent' quality clothing, much over his objections.
"I don't need a handout," he argued as he tugged fitfully at the collar of his new shirt. It was constricting and tight, quite odd compared to his hand me downs from Dudley.
"The rags you are wearing are not appropriate wear at Hermione's place," Sheila counted. "Do you want to give her neighbors a bad impression?"
"I wouldn't have said it like that," Hermione countered indignantly.
"Sorry, busy badgering Harry into accepting the clothing. You arguments will have no ability to stop me," the blonde shot right back. She held up another shirt, judging how the olive green color would go with his eyes and dark hair.
"But this is a lot of money," the Boy Who Lived complained.
"Money should be used, not just left in a vault," was the quick reply.
Alexander and Jane just shook their heads at the antics of the children asit was getting late. The interceded to get everyone home in time for bed.
Later that night, Harry heard something as he was walking to the bathroom. There was a light on downstairs in the kitchen.
"Hello, Harry," Sheila called out where she was typing on the table on a laptop.
"What are you doing up? Wait, you are working on one of your projects, I bet?"
"Yes, it's a genetic dissertation on inheritable traits," she replied as she continued.
"What trait?" That was too innocent of an explanation.
That stopped her a second. "Magical ability."
"You're using science to figure out how magic exists in people?" he asked in a stunned tone.
"And why squibs exist. And why do such a large percentage are from purely muggle families." She shrugged as she sat down. "Unfortunately, I lack a solid amount of data."
"I bet its hard to get genetic samples of purebloods," Harry noted with a sad smile.
"You would win that bet," she replied ruefully, shrugging her shoulders. "I've only gotten samples from Hermione and her parents."
"Is it hard to get your samples?"
"Not at all."
Her smile was quite sunny at his offer.
Harry had spent a lot of time on 'allowed' magic, which was essentially potions. He did remove the tracking charms on his wand and himself, but used his magic sparingly to make sure he was not caught. Sheila and Hermione had both cautioned him about that. He only had to do a single protego to stop Dudley from hitting him once. Once he did that, Dudley backed off and he was summarily ignored.
Now it was time to take the Hogwarts Express back to school. Sheila looked at her watch. "Harry is running late. He was supposed to be here an hour ago."
"Well, we can't exactly do anything about that." Ron looked frustrated. "The train is going to leave in five minutes."
"You can't, but I definitely can. I'll catch up to you at Hogwarts if I miss the train leaving. This is probably that dratted House Elf." Sheila and Hermione waved as the Scion hopped off the train, only to run smack into a barrier at the entrance to platform 9 and ¾s. She held her hand to her hurting nose as she sat on the ground. "Harry?"
"I can't get through," he yelled back, trying to ignore the stares of the Muggles around him. He was, after all, shouting at a wall.
Sheila was off like a shot, leaping up onto the roof of the Hogwarts Express and across to platform 10. In moments she was walking up behind Harry. "Just can't not get into trouble, can you?"
"Has to be that Dobby. You kept him away from the owl post, but he must have sabotaged getting here and then blocking the entrance." Harry looked quite upset.
"Come on then, we'll go around." Sheila dragged him over to the unoccupied platform number 10. With a quick glance, she grabbed him and his trunk and leaped back up to the rooftop.
Or that was what was supposed to happen. What really happened is that they bounced off another barrier and she barely caught them both.
"Ouch," she said, touching her nose tenderly. This was starting to be rediculous. She then pulled her olive-wood wand out and touched them both on the head after chanting a quick spell.
"Notice-me-not charms?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Which should lose us our dippy House Elf too, while we get ahead of the train." Sheila then picked him up and ran down the tracks, faster than a speeding locomotive.
The Hogwarts Express caught up to where they stopped about ten minutes later. With a burst of speed, Sheila had Harry, herself and his trunk on the end car.
She raised an eyebrow at the empty cage. "No Hedwig?"
"Oh, I decided to let her fly to Hogwarts to stretch her wings." Harry suddenly grinned. "I wonder if I could run and jump like that?"
Sheila seemed to consider it. "Quite possible. You'd have to learn how to channel your magic into your limbs as you exercise. Probably quite hard, but may be worth it when an enemy expects you to cast a jumping charm and you don't need to."
They knocked on the caboose door, much to the surprise of the engineer there. "What are you doing on the end of the train?"
"Problem at the barrier and we were almost left behind. Can you help us to the regular carriages?" Sheila asked sweetly, ignoring his incredulous look out the back where they were travelling quite quickly.
They knocked on Hermione and Ron's door after finally tracking them both down.
Ron snapped open the door, looking almost panicked. "I thought you had missed the express, Harry! Mum would have gone spare on me if I had."
"I did. But luckily, Sheila was more than magic enough to overcome even that little problem." He sat down next to Hermione, smiling back her.
Sheila and Ron had barely put up Harry's trunk and sat down themselves when the door opened again.
"Hello, Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Crabbe, Mr Goyle," Sheila said with a small nod. "Here for another annual greeting and threats?"
All three looked surprised, even as all of the Gryfindor had to hide their snickers.
"Oh, your back again? I really thought that a half-breed like you would be barred from Hogwarts," the Slytherin said with a sneer.
"No, I paid for my schooling. I still have so very, very much to learn," she replied easily.
"We've all been studying up a bit over the holidays. Hermione and Sheila both badgered me into making some potions and read up on some books they found." Harry looked quite pleased.
"He even got me doing it. I have to say, potions make a lot better sense now too." Ron could almost not believe it even as he said it.
"Potter working on his schoolwork? He'll be as big a book worm as the two girls he hangs out with," was the snide reply. "And one Weasley that can't even get decent grades like his brother."
Sheila patted Ron on his shoulder. "He's been working on that. So, do you have anything useful to tell us, Mr. Malfoy?"
He glared at her. "You should be careful. Hogwarts isn't as safe as they say."
"No, it really isn't."
Harry nodded at her side.
Draco left with a confused glare over his shoulder. They were not supposed to agree with him.
The feast was a very nice affair, but Harry was getting a strange feeling from Professor Snape. He looked quite smug and had the air that he was ready to swoop down and take his 'win.' Professor Lockheart's introduction was a bit of a mess as he tried to give an impromptu speech over Professor Dumbledore.
"Hermione, does Snape look like he's the cat that is about to capture a mouse?" Harry asked carefully.
"He does. I wonder what he has planned?" the girl replied nervously. That was when the sorting started.
All of the Gryffindors clapped politely as each new student joined their house. Ron winked at Sheila and then put an expression of horror on his face as Ginny was sorted into their house.
"Poor Ronald, beset upon both sides. His two dastardly elder twin brothers," Sheila said with a smirk, winking at Ginny and over the twins' protests, "and his younger sister. How could things be worse?"
Ginny looked a bit confused and shrugged. "I don't know?"
"He could have been distracted from his glass of pumpkin juice and just quaffed whatever Fred had just put into it," Sheila said with an absolutely straight face.
Ron almost gagged as he looked at the glass he had just taken a drink from in absolute horror. "You're supposed to warn me before I drink one of their pranks."
Hermione giggled at his expression and was soon joined by Ginny, Fred, George and Harry.
Sheila said with a very smug expression, "Gotcha!"
That earned a laugh out of all the Gryffindors around her as Ron finally realized he had been pranked by his mere expectations.
"That wasn't fair!" he said petulantly, then started laughing.
"I thought it was a pretty good prank. Not a patch on Fred and George though. Sorry, Sheila, but they have you beat hands down," Harry said with an apologetic shrug, then piled more Shepherd's Pie onto his plate.
"Horrors. Something I'm not great at," she bemoaned.
When his whole class was seated for their first lesson of DADA, Lockhart cleared his throat loudly and silence fell. He reached forward, picked up Neville Longbottom's copy of Travels with Trolls, and held it up to show his own, winking portrait on the back.
"Me," he said, pointing at it and winking as well. "Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award but I don't talk about that. I didn't get rid of the Bandon Banshee by smiling at her!"
He waited for them to laugh; a few people smiled weakly.
"I see you've all bought a complete set of my books; well done. I thought we'd start today with a little quiz. Nothing to worry about, just to check how well you've read them, how much you've taken in-"
When he had handed out the test papers he returned to the front of the class and said, "You have thirty minutes... starting now!"
Half an hour later, Lockhart collected the papers and rifled through them in front of the class.
"Tut, tut - hardly any of you remembered that my favorite color is lilac. I say so in Year with the Yeti. And a few of you need to read Wanderings with Werewolves more carefully! I clearly state in chapter twelve that my ideal birthday gift would be harmony between all magic and non-magic peoples, though I wouldn't say no to a large bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky!"
He gave them another roguish wink. Ron was now staring at Lockhart with an expression of disbelief on his face; Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, who were sitting in front, were shaking with silent laughter. Hermione, on the other hand, was listening to Lockhart with rapt attention and gave a start when he mentioned her name.
"…but Miss Hermione Granger and Miss Sheila Henderson both knew my secret ambition is to rid the world of evil and market my own range of hair-care potions. Good girls! In fact," he said as he flipped their papers over, "full marks! Where is Miss Hermione Granger?"
Hermione raised a trembling hand.
"Excellent!" beamed Lockhart. The look Sheila had been giving him quelled any thought of bringing her up. She looked ready to throttle him. "Quite excellent! Take ten points for Gryffindor! And so... to business!"
Hermione's cheeks were quite rosy while Sheila's expression was remarkably flat. Considering how little Harry thought of the test, he had an idea of how furious she was. If he had to guess, he would suppose that she was already planning the ousting of another teacher.
Hopefully this one would be slightly more quiet than the last one and not require an attack squad to deal with.
Sheila and Ron strangely had the same opinion about Hermione's sudden lack of common sense when it came to Professor Lockhart and his winning smile. It was like she had lost her mind because of said smile.
Everyone was sitting down with their books still open, most of the girls were doodling little hearts in their books when the professor headed into his back room.
"I have a rare treat today!" their over-pretty professor called out from the front of the class as he walked up to a covered cage on his desk. "Freshly caught Cornish Pixies!"
Most of the class laughed at the comical looking blue creatures in the stout cage. Sheila was actually interested, as this was the first useful thing he had started to teach.
"Laugh at them, will you? They are dangerous creatures." With that, Lockhart opened the cage. "Have no fear, I know just the right spell-" he started to say, just before two pixies removed his wand from his hapless hand with a maniacal twitter.
"Just great," Harry groused as he ducked under his desk, followed by Ron and Hermione in a moment.
Sheila flicked her finger out, striking the nearest pixie unconscious by hitting its forehead. "Quit that," she said, glaring at several that were grabbing Neville by his ears. They made some sort of rude comment back to her. She surprised them by snarling a response in their language.
"Blimey? You can speak to them? Tell them to stop!" Ron called out.
Everyone was quite surprised when the blue pixies did stop at her strident commands in their pipe-like language. They all landed and stared at her in shock, mirroring the students and their teacher. They started jabbering at each other rapidly. Harry raised an eyebrow at Sheila surprise. A surprise that quickly turned to worry.
The pixies almost started vibrating in excitement and then all of them took off in a rush as she started throwing spells at them. But they were single-minded in their escape, smashing through windows to the outside.
"Oh, crap," the young Scion she finally said, holding her wand up and staring at the vanished pixies. She just shook her head at her friends questioning looks, not wanting to talk to them about the situation.
That was the last worthwhile attempt at education in the class, as the pixies had thoroughly cowed Lockhart.
After the class, Harry hooked up with his two friends of the female persuasion. "So... interesting lesson," he said carefully.
"That's one way of putting it. I didn't learned anything useful," Ron groused.
"This means war," Sheila said as she shook off her funk.
"What? I thought those were perfectly valid questions," Hermione said weakly.
"Hermione, I can't believe you- What the hell does his favorite color of Lilac have to do with defending ourselves against monsters and dark wizards?" the blonde hissed out to her.
"Well, ah. He is an important figure in the fight against the Dark Arts," she pointed out.
"So why is he giving enemies such detailed information on himself then? He's making it easier for someone to impersonate him!" she countered.
That stopped her. "I don't know. He's the teacher."
"Hermione, I think something is up with him," Harry interjected, putting a hand on her shoulder to show he was not against her.
"He's nuts about himself. I mean, he's got all those pictures everywhere," Ron noted.
"That doesn't make him an... enemy or anything." Hermione looked a bit combative with her chin held up.
"Does that make him a good teacher?" Sheila had a very set look on her face. "The books he requested have some good information, but they are not school quality. I made an outline of the Defense or Dark Arts information. What you can find in each book could fill a page or three in our regular texts."
"So are you going to get him sacked, too?" Draco suddenly asked from about ten feet behind them down the hallway.
"No, he will probably get himself sacked. I'm more worried about making sure I get properly educated in spite of our professors," she responded instantly.
His smirk grew. "You think you could teach better than a Professor?"
"Than that professor? Most likely. It depends on what he teaches his upper year classes," she said after a moment's thought, looking out the 3rd floor window to the Quidditch Pitch.
"That's a pretty tall claim," he noted carefully. "Do you actually have something planned?"
Harry thought back to a very large purchase of books she had made. "I can almost guarantee it, Malfoy. Sheila usually has things planned out at least two moves ahead."
"You can? She does? What did I miss?" Ron asked in bewilderment.
Hermione had her own smirk. "Why are you so curious, Malfoy? Wanting in on it so you get a better education for you and your two side-ends?"
The blond boy looked quite incensed, but controlled himself. "Yes, actually."
"As soon as I can clear a room for a Defense Club, I'll let you know."
Goyle looked confused. "What does a club have to do with education?"
"Self instruction, eh? I guess I can see that. I'll be waiting for your notice on the boards," he said with a superior smirk on his face as he turned away, his friends following him out.
"Malfoy? In your club?" Ron exclaimed loudly.
"Not my club, I'm just setting it up," she replied. Plans were already formulated in her head.
"Detention!" Snape declared to Sheila as she continued to make her potion. He was looming over her in his dungeon as his class was in progress. He had already taken ten points from Neville for just breathing.
"Yes, sir." She did not even argue. "When will it be, Professor Snape?" Her focus had not wavered one bit while she continued working on her potion.
"Stop your work," he demanded.
She put down her ladle. "Yes, professor?"
"You will arrive promptly after supper." He swept away to terrorize Lavender who had been watching too raptly.
Sheila instantly turned back to her potion, trying to salvage it from the interruption.
"That isn't fair," Harry said angrily.
"When is he?" she replied evenly.
That stumped Harry, Hermione and Ron. They could not argue that Snape was the most unfair teacher in the school.
At lunch, Ron tried to get her to go to Professor McGonagal. As he ladled potatoes on his plate, he tried to change her mind. "I'm sure you can argue it. He didn't even give a bloody reason."
"Ronald!" Hermione said in a scandalized tone.
"He doesn't need to, actually. I read into the current bylaws of the school. He can give out detentions for disruptive students even if they aren't currently breaking any rules. Don't worry about it." Sheila seemed totally unconcerned.
"I just wish he was more fair," Harry said. He looked very upset, though he was controlling it well.
"I'm sure he's just testing the waters to see how far he can punish us. I'm just the harder nut to crack, so he's taking the first shot at me."
Fred and George looked afronted. "Where's your fire?" the left red-head demanded.
"You shouldn't stand for this!" the right-hand one declared.
"Oh, I'll give him enough rope to hang himself," she replied, then took a bite of the sandwich she had created, ending the conversation.
The rest of the Gryffindors looked a bit worried.
At the end of the day, Sheila waved to them as they headed into supper. She just headed into the dank dungeons. The clammy walls seemed to close in on her, though she only had to avoid a few Slytherin upper-years that would have attempted to haze her.
Knocking on the door, she awaited for the acknowledgment and permission to enter.
"Miss Henderson. You are not tardy," the potion master said carefully, his dark eyes trying to draw her in. "Be that as it may, you are here to make a potion." He walked up to the board and with a sudden snap of his wand filled the slate with meticulous writing. "Start now."
Sheila did not move, studying the board closely. "That is actually two different versions of that potion. Did you want the Tucklewood Bark or the Demiguise Hair used?"
"It is not up to me to correct... or not to correct... the potion listed," Snape drawled carefully. Inwardly he seethed, as that told him she had caught his chicanery. And might, in spite of him trying his best to ruin her chances, succeed.
She nodded. As she was setting up her cauldron, she winked to the right of herself and then reached into her pocket to pull out a pouch. She had taken to referring to it as her TARDIS pouch, though really it was just a Mole Skin pounch.
"This is a potion you are brewing. Runes have no place here," Snape snapped out from the shadows at the front of the classroom.
"You do want this potion finished tonight, do you not, Professor Snape?" she replied calmly.
"That would be... most enlightening if you can do that, Miss Henderson." He hid his uncertainty behind high occulemancy shields and a cold expression. He sneered openly. "Whatever you please, then."
The clack of the rune tablets being placed exactly was unnerving. If the professor did not know better, he would swear she was taking the measure of the stars outside. Which was highly unlikely. They were in the dungeons, after all.
"What is the property of Mildeeded Snow Haven?" the professor suddenly demanded as she started to prepared her ingredients in a seemingly haphazard manner.
"Mildeeded Snow Haven is a form of magical heather that is gathered in the darkest parts of the longest night. It is quite valued for its ability to increase the potency of rare potions such as the Draught of Living Death or Wood Curse Curative," she replied instantly. "It would be enlightening to discover which agent within it is the strengthener and figure a way to store such a regent for long term use."
"That would be revolutionary, but impossible. Wizards and Alchemists have been trying for centuries." Snape had a taut grin upon his face.
"A biochemist may be able to ferret out that secret quicker, but would probably have to do his work near the Arctic Circle," the young Scion replied with equanamity.
"What does an imaginary line that the Muggle created have to do with a potion ingredient, Miss Henderson?" The professor did not sound happy at the seemingly random comment.
"That night would last a very, very long time. And you could discover a lot more uses in a week than you could in three hours."
"Only a bit cold. But a possible thought of vague note," he replied already trying to figure out if what she said was even remotely possible.
She just nodded, waiting for the next and harder question. She was not surprised.
Two hours later, another elixir was poured into three vials. The colors were near perfect in the gloomy, torchlit darkness.
"So it was not just luck that allowed you to brew that potion." Professor Snape frowned, trying to see some way to salvage this self inflicted fiasco.
"So this was a retest of my potion's exam from last year. That's why you invited the testing board to be here," Sheila said with glee.
That caught the potion's professor by surprise. "You have a high impression of your worth, young lady."
"So you are denying that you accused me of cheating on my year end exams or trying to stack this 'test' against me?" she asked intensely, her hard eyes staring into his coal-black ones.
That was when three people stepped out from behind invisibility curtains. "No, he can not do that. How did you know we where here, young lady?" a very old and wizened wizard with oddly stained finger tips asked.
"I actually smelled the lavender wash that one of you must be wearing and then saw out of the corner of my eye the invisibility... curtains? The rest was deduction because of our animosity." She started picking up her rune tiles and putting them away.
"An astute summation. Professor Snape had accused you of cheating on your final exams. Frankly, when we heard of a 1st Year brewing advanced potions, I was certain he was correct. Now that I've seen you in action, I have to say that he was most certainly incorrect." He played with his long beard for a long time. "I am very impressed with your cross-discipline in Arithimancy, Runes and Astronomy."
An even older woman nodded in agreement. "I think I saw a bit of geomancy with your rune placement. Usually it takes too long to decipher the runes and where to put them."
"So the accusation will be struck from my records?" she asked.
"Yes, it will be."
Snape swept out of the room, his face carved as if from stone. Two of the three examiners just had tight smiles.
"Would you like an escort to the entrance or have arrangements been made for you to stay in guest quarters?" Sheila asked politely while inclining her head.
"Why thank you, dear. Just the escort to the entrance. You are a cutie, aren't you?" the oldest witch said.
"Thank you," she replied graciously as she led them out of the classroom.
Sheila then become absolutely invisible to Professor Snape after that first week, which Harry thought was a grand thing as she had not lost any points. He was quite jealous.
Sheila, Ron and Hermione were watching from the bleachers as the Slytherin Quidditch team walked out to take over the field on Saturday.
Flint Marcus said in a too-happy voice, "I've got a specially signed note here from Professor Snape. 'I, Professor S. Snape, give the Slytherin team permission to practice today on the Quidditch field owing to the need to train their new Seeker'."
"You've got a new Seeker?" said Wood, distracted. "Where?"
And from behind the six large figures before them came a seventh, smaller boy, smirking all over his pale, pointed face. It was Draco Malfoy.
"Aren't you Lucius Malfoy's son?" said Fred, looking at Malfoy with dislike.
"Funny you should mention Draco's father," said Flint as the whole Slytherin team smiled still more broadly. "Let me show you the generous gift he's made to the Slytherin team."
All seven of them held out their broomsticks. Seven highly polished, brand-new handles and seven sets of fine gold lettering spelling the words Nimbus 2001 gleamed under the Gryffindors' noses in the early morning sun.
Sheila leapt to the ground in a single bound. "Wow, he's that bad his dad had to bribe him onto the team? We don't even need to practice then," she said with a smirk.
Harry twigged onto what she was saying. "True. I bet they didn't even have a tryout. Probably all too scared to do so."
"You just got the pity spot on your team and are being a poor loser," Draco declared as he tried to salvage his position and standing before his peers.
Oliver Wood just looked at him in consternation. "Harry Potter is the second best seeker I've seen. A true natural on a broom."
Malfoy just shot an upset look at Sheila, but decided to not bring her up. His ego still stung from his last bet with her. "I guess we will see at the first match."
"True enough, Malfoy," Sheila said as Ron and Hermione ran up from having had to clamber down the stairs of the stands. She fell into step with the rest of the Gryffindors as they started to walk back to the castle. She sighed finally, getting a raised eyebrow from Harry and Hermione while Ron just looked worried. "I guess its time to teach Meister Malfoy that money doesn't solve all problems."
Hermione's brown eyes met Harry's green ones.
"So, you are going to show that his father isn't the only one with money?" Harry asked casually even as Hermione looked a bit worried.
She gave him a grin. "And maybe to show him how philanthropy actually works."
"She's almost as scary as Hermione," Fred said to his twin brother.
"Much, much more scary. Then you get those three planning and no one is safe," Ron complained.
"Are we really that bad?" Hermione asked in a plaintive tone as they walked through the open main entrance.
"Probably worse. But we don't try to brag about what we do," Sheila noted as they started up the main stairs.
Oliver Wood frowned as he thought that over, ignoring his three chasers that were gabbing about Lockheart. "You know, you don't."
"Don't brag? That's not a very seemly trait, Mr. Wood. I was raised better than that," she said primly.
"Oy! Sheila, you going to set up that CVR thingy again?" George asked, changing the subject.
"It's a DVD player, you technology ignoramus!" she cat-called back. "You want to watch some more movies?"
He stuck his tongue out at her. "Yes, we do. Our friend was interested in seeing it."
Angelina interrupted. "I heard about it too. You managed to get electronics working at Hogwarts, right? I'd love to get my calculator working again." She surprised the two other chasers with her questions.
"Calculator?" Katie Bell asked curiously.
"I swear, you start to go to Hogwarts and people suddenly forget that Muggles exist," Angela complained.
"She knew that. It was just an odd thing to ask about here at Hogwarts," Alicia Spinnet replied with a frosty tone.
"That could be a challenge to get the runes with enough power on that small of a package," the Scion mused as they walked along.
"Drats, foiled again," Angela complained in good nature as she adjusted her broom over her shoulder as they made a turn on a landing heading up to the Gryffindor tower.
Sheila rolled her eyes. "I'll think of a solution of some sort."
"How about a box at the minimum size? I noticed you didn't have to close the top of it. Just put your calculator inside it," Harry suggested in a pensive tone. "What the smallest size you could make?"
"That's... quite doable," she admitted as she started to think it over.
"Blimey. They've infected Harry with their studious nature!" Ron exclaimed in great worry.
That got him a double glare of doom from Sheila and Hermione.
"I think Ron needs to study on his own for a week." Sheila gave said boy a very hard look.
Hermione just nodded. "And you aren't going to help him, Harry."
"Ah-!" the Boy-Who-Lived said intelligently. He seemed to be torn here.
"If he feels that our intelligence is worth disparaging, then he can live with the consequences."
Ron met her gaze steadily. "Fine."
"Poor Ronikins. To be failing so soon into the year." Fred and George were hanging from each other in mock lamentation as they draped themselves on his shoulders. "He'll get a howler, I'm sure."
Angelina looked horrified. "Is he really that poor at studying?"
The twins just nodded, ignoring their red-faced brother's building anger.
Professor McGonagal looked up at the knock on her office door, putting her quill down. "Come in." Her eyes showed her surprise through her square glasses. "Miss Henderson."
"Sorry to bother you. Do you have about a half an hour to go through some requests?" the young scion asked as she closed the office door behind her.
"Most students would be terrified of spending that much time in my office," the stern teacher noted.
"I am not exactly the most normal of students," Sheila noted back as she slipped the briefcase up onto her side of the table.
McGonagal just raised an eyebrow at such a Muggle item.
"As you might have recently heard, Mr. Malfoy donated to his team the latest Nimbus 2001 brooms," she started with, pulling out several papers as she organized herself.
"Yes. There is nothing in the rules against that," her head of house said stiffly.
"Quite. Donations and charity should always be encouraged, of course." The blonde stifled the urge to roll her eyes at the professor's reaction. "I would like to see about donating to the school a set of brooms so that things are more even and fair."
"That would be quite expensive, Miss Henderson." There was a note of hope in her voice though. "I was able to afford Harry and yours Nimbus 2000 last year, but I doubt that we would be find anyone willing to stand up to Mr. Malfoy in this manner that has the resources to fund such charity." She suddenly looked older than her seventy years.
"Oh, there is no problem with that. I will pay out of pocket for all eight brooms," the young Scion said curtly.
The Transfiguration Professor looked flummoxed. "You... are paying out of pocket? I was under the impression you were a Muggle born and not that well off."
"Being poor is a correctable situation. While it will disperse a large part of my liquid assets at this point, I feel it would be very worth it. At least until I get to Gringotts to transact another transfer of Muggle money for Galleons." Sheila shrugged. "On to the second item. Would it be possible to see to a large classroom that could be set aside for all house as an entertainment area for movies, plays and games?"
"I suppose, though we would have to clean one of them up. The school does have some extra, unused rooms," Professor McGonagal said slowly.
"I am sure that there will be some that are upset at such Muggle things, but in moderate doses I feel it will be a good means of the different houses meeting in a non-combative manner." Sheila handed a list. "Some of these things were part of my Runes' project last year."
"Yes, your movie player." The stern professor was not sure what to make of the thought of an entertainment room for the students. "This is going to require some supervision."
"Exactly. I suggest having the students sign up by getting a chaperon of a prefect while they are watching a movie. And only one movie a night and maybe two movies on Saturday or Sunday. A simple posting of cleaning up after you are done should be adequate." Sheila shrugged. She was just trying to modernize the school slightly.
"I think that will require a bit more planning," McGonagal said.
"Indubitably." Then she launched onto the idea of a self-study Defense Club.
Hermione looked over as a couple of studious looking older boys entered into the odd T-shaped classroom that was the new Defense Club. The pair were 5th or 6th years, she decided and they immediately headed over to open a cabinet.
"Will, definitely a better book than Mystical Me," the first, blockier boy sad.
His friend nodded. "Curse and Counter-Jinxes for the Wary is a much better book." Will frowned as he saw something he had never seen before. He picked up the floppy book next to it that simply said 'Workbook for Curses and Counter-Jinxes for the Wary'. "What's this?"
"That's something of a Muggle thing. You use it with the main book. It was sheets of homework and studies that you just use right there. I wonder how good it is?" Paulo thought back to his distant Muggle background and opened it up. "It has the first week of homework laid out, see?"
"So I need it too? Right then." He grabbed the workbook and headed to the end of the room around the corner. No way was he going to sit next to the lower years if he could help it.
Five minutes later, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle wandered into the high vaulted room.
"This doesn't seem like much," the oaffish block on his left said.
Draco looked over at Goyle on his left, forcing himself not to grimace at his comment. "It's a club, not a social hall," he said in thinly disguised discomfort. He hated to owe anyone.
"Hello, Malfoy. Books are over there and there's a few practice dummies in the upper end," Sheila called out politely. She frowned as she realized that it was going to start raining again. This did not bode well for the rest of October, she mused.
Draco opened up the 2nd Year cabinet, nodding at the book choice. "That's the one my father recommended. Very nice." He frowned as he thought that over a second. "Strange, Hogwarts does not have extra school books usually. You have to purchase them at Diagon Alley."
"They had to be purchased and brought here. Most people would call that a donation," Sheila noted carefully, not lying in her presentation.
The young pureblood nodded. "True."
Goyle looked confused as he opened another cabinet. "Oh, this is the book from last year. Mum told me I should review, but I forgot my book at home." He took one of the floppy books next to it and started reading.
Draco and his two cronies moved to their own table.
"This might actually succeed," Sheila mused aloud. "Good. Not knowing how to defend yourself in an armed society is criminal laxity."
Hermione looked confused at that. "Armed society? What do you mean by that?" She was busy reading the latest chapter of her new book.
"A wand is a loaded weapon in the hands of a witch or wizard. By the time you leave Hogwarts... you will be able to kill with a flick of it. And everyone has one." Sheila looked very, very intense.
That made Hermione start to really think. "So... I should consider insults in a more medieval mindset?"
"Yes. An insult can be deadly."
Deep into the night, Dumbledore walked to an old, abandoned building on the grounds. The glow under the door leaked dim red light into the night. He knocked on the door, which opened immediately.
"Ah, Miss Henderson. Somehow this does not surprise me. I don't think I've seen the old smithy used since I was in school," the headmaster said.
"Good evening, Headmaster Dumbledore," she replied as she carefully studied the long spear blade she was forging. "If you could close the door behind you so we don't wake the Ravenclaw dorms?"
"Certainly. Though should you not be in bed resting for next day of school?" he asked curiously, stroking his beard in the dim red light as the door closed.
Sheila started pounding on the blade again, the rings nearly deafening in the enclosed space. "I do not sleep much. And I hate to waste time."
"Are these for school projects?" the old wizard finally asked.
"No. Unfortunately, I have made another very grave mistake and I fear that an attack is going to happen before the end of the year. So I am preparing as best I can. And I hate running," she replied between ringing strikes of her hammer on metal.
"A spear? A sword? Is your wand not enough?" he asked as he gazed at the weapons on the wall. There were a few things that he did not recognize.
"And if magic fails me? It is better to have a plan in place," she noted. She dunked the spear into pure water that hissed.
"And that?" Dumbledore asked.
She pulled the high-tech rifle down from the wall. "This is in case I need more firepower than a spear." It started humming as she flipped a switch. "If this doesn't work, I may have to get drastic."
"Are you sure you will be attacked?" Dumbledore asked sadly, sounding as old as his years.
"A high degree of surety, yes. Some fae are carrying word to their masters. So I fear the Firbolg will send an agent." Her voice was drawn and worried.
The Firbolg? Enemies of the ancient Celtic Gods, the Tuatha De'dannan? The Headmaster was now starting to get a bit alarmed. He retreated out the door and headed inside. He had research to do.
"That is probably enough information for him to figure me out," she whispered to herself. "I hope he really is truly open-minded."
Rain was lashing the windows, which were now inky black, but inside all looked bright and cheerful. The firelight glowed over the countless squashy armchairs where people sat reading, talking, doing homework or, in the case of Fred and George Weasley, trying to find out what would happen if you fed a Filibuster firework to a salamander. Fred had "rescued" the brilliant orange, fire-dwelling lizard from a Care of Magical Creatures class and it was now smoldering gently on a metal tray surrounded by a knot of curious people.
Harry cornered Hermione and Sheila at their table in the common room. The young scion was meticulously painting runes on a box ten inches square and two inches tall while Hermione was writing an assignment for Potions. Ron was sitting nearby with a magazine about his beloved Chudley Cannons as the latest rain spattered on the windows. The late October was staying dreary and gray almost every day.
"Ah," Harry said, trying to think of a good way to invite them. "I've been invited to a Death's Day party. Nearly-Headless Nick's 500th, actually."
"Let me guess, you couldn't say no and you don't want to go alone?" Sheila replied and then sighed.
Hermione's lips curled at the edge slightly. "And you are inviting all of us?"
"A party for ghosts? That sounds... different," the red-head said diplomatically, though he was a bit pale at the thought.
"I'd bring your invisibility cloak, Harry," Sheila said with solemn finality.
Harry nodded and then leaned forward. "Did you know that Filtch was taking Kwick Spell Courses?" he asked them all.
"Those are usually only used by Squibs or the magically weak," the young Scion said in surprise.
"I nearly received a detention from Filtch and saw a letter from their correspondence courses. Nearly Headless Nick convinced Peeves to break a cabinet right next to his offices. Luckily with that, I did not get a detention with him!"
"Interesting," Sheila said with a gleam in her eyes. "I wonder if I could get him to give me a genetic sample and try to tailor make a wand for him?"
"What?" Ron asked as he moved over to a table.
"Sheila is working on find the genetic traits of a wizard or witch, to figure out why Squibs, Muggles and Wizards all exist," Harry said excitedly.
Hermione nodded happily. "There's a chance there is nothing, but Sheila thinks she will find a common link all the way back to ancient times."
Sheila headed out, waving to all of them. She was quick and hurried as she found Filch walking back and forth worriedly in front of a smashed cabinet. "Is there a problem, Mr. Filch?"
"Peeves smashed a valuable Vanishing Cabinet!" he snarled at the young girl who looked uncommonly unperturbed at his obvious bad temper.
"Maybe I can help," she said carefully. "I'm a curious sort-"
"I'll say. You have the whole staff up in arms at times. Professor Snape wants you nailed for some of the stunts you've pulled," the indoor caretaker snapped.
"But I do try to not be a disruptive element unless forced to, for the most part. And I would even be willing to try and fix this cabinet. What does a vanishing cabinet do? Other than to vanish items placed within it, of course," she replied with a smile.
"It vanishes it to a matching cabinet, of course." It was not often that he got to show off his knowledge.
"I thought those did not work well because there was no control over things entering from either side without the danger of splinching?" she asked curiously.
"Hmm. There is a solution for that, inelegant though it be. Just create two pairs make it so one pair is one direction, the other pair is the other. Though it would be in competition with Floo Connections, of course." Sheila hesitated a moment, thinking hard. "Excuse me, Mr. Filch? Did you break your wand? I don't think I've see you use one this year." Nor last, but she was not going to mention it.
"Oh, uh, right. Just haven't been able to afford one," the sallow-faced man said in a hurried voice.
"Well, I've been meaning to craft one, just to see if I could. Would you mind me crafting you a custom wand?" she asked artfully. She looked quite innocent.
"Well, uh, sure." The uncouth caretaker looked surprised and surly. "Do you need anything for that?"
"Just a small dab of blood to see about matching different cores to good woods," she replied blandly. And she would use it for that and nothing to harm him.
"Well, right then. We'll see how it goes."
The day of Halloween dawned dimly and gloomily. Rain drizzled all through and permeated the castle with damp coldness. Hermione and Sheila both noted that Harry was very withdrawn at breakfast.
"You all right, Harry?" Hermione asked worriedly.
He just nodded his head, but did not look over.
"Harry sandwich," Sheila mouthed quietly to Hermione. They both flopped onto the bench on each side.
"Um?" The Boy Who Lived said nervously as they encroached in his space. "What are you two up to?"
"Snuggles," Sheila replied simply. "You're obviously down."
"So we are trying to make you feel better on your... off day," the bushy-haired girl said.
He looked a bit rebellious, but after a few minutes relaxed. All of them missed a red-haired girl down the table that gave them a murderous glare.
Classes were quite tolerable, even Lockehart's horrible excuses of teaching. Harry and Sheila were trying to figure out a way to prove that he was a fraud. They finished up early, changing into a clean set of robes. Ron looked longingly at the feast as they passed it on their way to the dungeons.
Nearly Headless Nick was quite besides himself with his 500th Death Day party actually having the Harry Potter as he had to show off his scar.
"Good evening, Baron Blood," Sheila said politely as she pulled away from the group. She could already smell the rotten food and slime on the table from fifty feet away. She had no desire to smell it from much closer.
"It is All Hallows Eve, when the barrier between Life and Death is weakest. Little good comes of this," the Baron said.
"Probably not, Milord." Sheila looked around, seeing a familiar set of ghostly glasses. "Good evening Myrtle."
"Hello, Sheila," the ghost replied carefully and looking quite uncomfortable.
"You do not feel uncomfortable in our presence," the Baron noted hollowly. "And Myrtle does in your presence."
"You aren't trying to kill or harm me," she noted lightly. "And Myrtle found out that I was behind the ousting of Binns."
"You!" the Baron exclaimed. His dead gaze and hollow eyes seemed to study her much more closely. "I would not have believed him to be so powerful."
"If it had been anything except about him teaching here, he would not have been. It was his geasa and ban."
"Interesting," the Gray Lady said. "You are quite knowledgeable."
"You are too kind," Sheila demurred.
"You also remind me too much of my mother." The face of the Gray Lady suddenly turned flat and unfriendly as she suddenly wheeled about and floated off.
"I appear to have touched a nerve accidentally." Sheila's eyes studied the ghost of Ravenclaw's tower as she moved to talk to other ghosts.
That was when the Headless Horsemen all showed up, livening up the event and trash-talking down to Nearly Headless Nick. The evening went downhill and everyone thought Ron's idea to head to the great hall for real food was something to be considered. They made their escape back out the passage full of purple-lit candles.
So they were walking a shortcut when Sheila and Harry stopped.
Harry was hearing a sibulant voice calling out, "...rip...tear...kill..."
"What was that?" he asked worriedly as he started to move, heading upstairs and out of the dungeon. This particular passage actually skipped the ground level.
"Some sort of reptile or snake," Sheila replied as her eyes and ears probed the darkness as they moved.
Hermione and Ron shared a weird look.
"Mate, there's nothing here except us," Ron tried to say.
"No, Sheila can hear something to. But not the same thing. Odd," Hermione said.
"It's gone," Harry said, looking around.
"It went back down. I smell water and wet cat," Sheila called out as she trotted along quickly.
"This way!" the Boy That Lived called out, moving faster.
Something was shining on the wall ahead. They approached slowly, squinting through the darkness. Foot-high words had been daubed on the wall between two windows, shimmering in the light cast by the flaming torches.
'the chamber of secrets has been opened. enemies of the heir, beware.'
"Strange. Someone has bad sentence structure, capitalization and punctuation," the Scion said calmly. She studied the dead cat, noting it was petrified and looking up.
Everyone gave her an odd look.
"So this was probably done by a student," she said with a roll of her eyes. "And a first year one at that. Can you imagine handing that in to Professor McGonnagal?"
Ron snickered at that. He had been marked down more than once for his bad spelling and punctuation.
"Myrtle's toilet is overflowing again," Hermione said in aggravation. She had already had her fill of the ghost earlier that night.
"And Filch's cat." Harry crouched down where the cat lay on the ground, just as the feast let out. "We should try to help."
Hundreds of feet were on the move, suddenly filling the corridor. The chatter, the bustle, the noise died suddenly as the people in front spotted the cat laying on the ground. Sheila, Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood alone, in the middle of the corridor, as silence fell among the mass of students pressing forward to see the grisly sight.
Then someone shouted through the quiet. "Enemies of the Heir, beware! You'll be next, Mudbloods!" That was Draco Malfoy as he had pushed to the front of the crowd, his cold eyes alive, his usually bloodless face flushed, as he grinned at the sight of the immobile and dead-seeming cat.
"You're a real piece, aren't you, Malfoy?" Sheila replied challengingly. "You also broke the bonds of your bet, Oathbreaker."
"What's going on here? What's going on?" Attracted no doubt by Malfoy's shout, Argus Filch came shouldering his way through the crowd. Then he saw Mrs. Norris and fell back, clutching his face in horror. "My cat! My cat! What's happened to Mrs. Norris?" he shrieked.
His eyes lit on Sheila, then Harry. "You! You've murdered my cat! You've killed her! I'll kill you! You just pulled your last prank!"
"Stop!" Sheila shouted. "Something has killed Mrs. Norris, but it was not us."
That was when Dumbledore arrived. "Argus, please. Miss Henderson, Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasely and Miss Granger, come with me. We will get to the bottom."
"My office is closest," Professor Lockhart offered quickly.
All of them trooped in there behind Dumbledore, Lockhart, Filch and Snape.
"Would you please describe what happened there this evening?"
"They killed my Mrs. Norris-" Filch started up into full rant mode.
"Mr. Filch, I promise you that none of us students here in this room harmed your familiar. We had returned from Nearly Headless Nick's 500th deathday party when we heard something moving and went to follow it. I am sorry to say that we found your familiar in that state," Sheila quickly started in on her explanation.
"Yes, we heard something on our way back," Harry continued. "And we followed it up to that corridor with that horrible writing on the wall and Mrs. Norris laying in the puddle of water." He carefully did not mention
"Sounds likely. And what did you hear?" Snape asked, his dark eyes trying to bore into her own blue-green sapphires.
Deflecting his Occulemancy handily, she continued, "It appeared to be a snake or reptile. And Professor Snape, I would ask that you respect the sanctity of my mind and forgo your Legimancy attacks."
Professor Dumbledore had been petting the matted fur of the cat. "I'm afraid that I have to tell you that your cat is indeed dead, Argus."
Sheila quickly stepped up and put her hand on his own hand. "Mr. Filch, I'm very sorry for you loss."
Hermione and Harry both had a saddened look on their face, while Ron was busy trying to not show any of his dislike for the caretaker.
"I wish there was something we could do, Mr. Filch," Harry replied truthfully.
The caretaker had broken down sobbing. "Just leave me alone," he finally said through his unkempt hair.
"I think it is time for you to head back to you dorms." Professor Dumbledore looked very aged that night in the Defense Against the Dark Arts office.
"Draco knows something," Ron argued later in Charms during a study period.
"Possibly. But you are letting your hatred determine you outcome, rather than letting you put him as one of the suspects. Unfortunately, his grammar and punctuation are perfect, so I find him unlikely to be the direct culprit," Sheila replied casually.
Hermione swished her wand to start her tea cup to tap-dance across her table. "So he didn't do it... but is possibly involved."
"Which means we should include his father and his friends," Sheila noted.
Harry was directing his own teacup around. "His father? I have to say that I don't see any reason for him to be behind it."
"Draco seems to be a mere shadow of his father's hate." Sheila had her teacups doing a basic square dance in a dizzying pattern.
The rest of the class just looked befuddled as they struggled to get their cups to even move. Ron's cup was staggering around in a drunken stupor, nearly hitting the other cups. Professor Flitwick had a wide smile at their antics.
"So where does that leave us?" Harry asked.
"With a dead cat," the young Scion noted. "And a very upset caretaker."
They all shrugged at that. They did not seem to care that much for him at all. So it was only Sheila that was walking towards his office that afternoon after classes. She knocked on the door with a smart rap.
"Go away," the older man called out groggily.
"Sir, I have something for you." Sheila had to hold herself from the wave of fire whiskey vapors that nearly flattened her when he opened the door. "Perhaps later-"
"Get in here before I give you a month of detentions," he snarled angrily. "So come to pick on the poor squib?"
"Not at all. Otherwise I would not have offered to make you a wand," she replied quickly and quite sincerely.
"Wand won't do me no good. Nothing does. I hate being here." His eyes were slightly bulging and bloodshot.
"Why are you here instead of trying to get a job in the Muggle world, sir?" the scion asked politely.
"Dumbledore had me try to go to school for the first two years. I can brew a decent potion, but I'm rubbish at anything else. But because of that, I qualify for magical employment... barely. And I can't give up magic." He was almost sobbing.
"I have your wand. It has... some interesting components." That was understating things. No wizard would have tried to make a core of pure carbonized dragonheart stringmixed in his own blood. The thin wand of birch was pulled from a case. "Just try to let your magic flow slightly through your hand."
He sneered but took up the wand and then swished it, an anemic spark appearing from the end. His shock was so great he nearly dropped it. "It reacted to me?"
"I can't cure your level of power, but I could make the most compatible wand possible. You probably would never be able to cast more than the weakest of charms, but you could cast magic."
"But I'm a squib. I don't have any magic," he said in shock. He sent out more sputtering sparks.
"Those sparks say otherwise. You are just very weak-"
"LUMOS!" he almost shrieked. "LUMOS!" That caused a dim glow to appear on the end of the wall. Barely enough to qualify as working.
"Magic. See, you have a little magic." She had a triumphant smile upon her face.
Filch suddenly sprang from his chair behind his cluttered desk and ran out. "LUMOS!" he shouted, the glow doubling on the end of his wand as he passed a few 5th years who looked surprised. He slammed open the great hall doors. "LUMOS!" he screamed, the wand glowing feebily. "I can do magic! I can do magic!"
The hall was shocked, none more than the teachers. "Mr. Filch!" Dumbledore called out in consternation.
"I can do magic!" he called out hoarsely and then collapsed to his knee, tears streaming down his face as his wand flickered.
Sheila sidled around him and started heading for the Gryffindor table.
"Miss Henderson, that is a joke in poor taste," Professor Snape called out as he turned from following Dumbledore to glaring at her in all his bat-like glory.
"What joke, sir?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. She noted Percy was moving up.
"Of making Mr. Filch, a squib, think he has magic," he said with a predatory smile.
"I did nothing of the sort. I just made him a compatible wand to allow his weak magic to work with it." She made the unusual situation sound drab and boring.
That stopped Percy who's mouth flopped open. "That's impossible!"
"Everyone has magic. Some are just not very strong." She shrugged. "May I sit with my friends?"
"Detention-" Snape started to sputter out.
"Professor Snape, I must speak with Miss Henderson first," Dumbledore said with authority. "I think any discussion of detentions are very premature. Miss Henderson, if you would accompany me." The Headmaster's eyes were hard and clear as he studied her.
She waved to Harry and Hermione as Percy started interrogating Ron. The empty hallways echoed with their footsteps. Dumbledore whispered a treat's name to his gargoyle again and then rode the magical escalator up to his office full of pictures from previous headmasters.
"Perhaps you can explain what you were doing there?" he finally asked, staring at her over his moon-rimmed glasses.
"I was seeing if a compatible wand would allow him to channel any magic at all." She looked at him across the imposing desk.
"And you made a compatible wand." It was not really a question. He seemed to consider it in deep thought. "I think the Wizenmengot will want to discuss your discovery. So you may have to make time in your holiday for that."
The young scion frowned. "I suppose I can finish my thesis paper on wand crafting by then."
"I do wonder how much more you will shake up our world," the headmaster said as if asking himself.
"Hopefully only in a good way, Headmaster Dumbledore."
"What happened?" Harry asked afterwards at 'their' table in the Gryffindor common room.
"I just had given Mr. Filch his new wand and it went to his head a bit," Sheila said as she started tapping away on a large, over-sized calculator in its magic-proofing box as her other hand wrote numbers down on her paper.
"So that really was his own magic?" Hermione asked in wonder.
Ron whistled in amazement, just before his twin brothers sat on either side. "Oye!"
"So, I understand from Percy the Ponce that Sheila-" one started to say.
The other continued, "-made Filch a wand that actually allowed him to cast a light spell. Always thought-"
"-he was a squib for sure."
"He is, by your definition." She raised her left eyebrow eloquently at their surprise. "He can barely do any magic with a wand built to his specification by me. He might be able to float a feather with a lot of work."
"So squibs have magic, they are just so weak that almost all wands block them," Harry said in a pensive mood. "So that's why you've been merging your wand experiments with your genetics information."
"My next experiment is with Hermione's mother."
"But she's a Muggle," Ron said in confusion.
"Maybe. Maybe not."
The three purebloods were staring at her in shock.
"My mother?" Hermione asked in a terribly quiet voice.
Sheila just nodded.
Professor Elphias Doge looked over his attentive students. He really wondered what had possessed him to take up Dumbledore's request to teach history. "Miss Granger, go ahead."
"Professor, what can you tell me about the Chamber of Secrets?" she asked eagerly.
"Anyone?" he asked curiously. He noted the small shake of Sheila's head, then looked over the stumped children. "Very well. It deals with the sordid past of Hogwarts." He stood up from the new desk that he had been using since last year.
His aged gaze looked out towards the Forbidden Forrest as his thin, silver hair glinted in the light. "This story reaches back to the founding of Hogwarts itself, though its roots are as old as humanity. Salazar Slytherin looked out into the mundane world that wizards and muggles shared back then and saw a terrifying visage of hate and fear. And he planned for what he thought the worst threats to what he called true wizarding society, the children of Muggles."
"Slytherin hated Muggles?" Ron exclaimed in surprise. "I thought that was a newer thing, since the Statute of Secrecy."
Other Purebloods nodded, some in resolution while other followed in fear.
"No, hate of the unknown; fear of the strange was not new even so long ago. Salazar feared muggles and their armies. While a wizard could control dozens of men, he could not stop hundreds or thousands. And the world was civilizing behind Rome and the great empires of the muggles." The old wizard sighed and adjusted his deep purple robes. "So started the feud that eventually led to strife between four friends that had founded a school for wizards and witches. Eventually he was expelled and no longer welcome."
Harry frowned in deep thought. "But they didn't remove him and his house. So they must have thought he was not fully wrong."
"Exactly. While Rowena Ravenclaw did not think that expelling or attacking the muggleborn was correct, she advocated wariness. Even Godric Gryffindor thought that the nonmagical world could be dangerous, but also thought it as a land of opportunity. Only Helga Hufflepuff thought that by seeking to acknowledge all equally would the future be paved." Professor Doge looked at the class. "But Slytherin was reputed to have created a magical chamber in Hogwarts that housed a monster that could be sent out against the muggles or muggleborn if needed."
Lavender nodded and raised her hand. "But how would Slytherin know who his descendants would be?"
"That is a mystery that we have not resolved to this day."
Sheila finally raised her hand, explaining concisely when acknowledged. "Parsletongue."
The elderly professor frowned, then nodded. "I guess that is possible. That rare gift does follow in families. But the last Parseltongue is no longer around. So the Chamber of Secrets should stay hidden."
"That is quite incorrect. The last, illegitimate, line of the Gaunts who prided themselves on their ancestry back to Salazar Slytherin graduated Hogwarts within the last century. And I have it on good authority that he is not dead." The rest of the class was staring at Sheila in astonishment.
"Who is he?" Seamus asked curiously.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle. Though most people know him better as Lord Voldemort or You-Know-Who."
All of the students and teacher were silent as they digested that.
"Riddle... that is not..." Neville started to say as he digested the last part of what Sheila had stated. The chubby boy was quite flummoxed then.
"Not a pureblood name, no. He merely duped the purebloods into following his rise to power by feeding into what they want. He's a true sociopath, hating muggles and that part of himself."
Hermione was nodding. "He was Head Boy for his year and quite charming." Her eyes widened. "He released the monster and killed Moaning Myrtle!"
The classroom exploded in pandemonium. The school would soon follow.
The day of the Gryffindor and Slytherin match was a dry day finally. Everyone had trooped out faithfully just before Noon. The roar from the Slytherin's stands when their team appeared when announced was deafening. They were mere streaks of green.
When the Gryffindors appeared in a similar manner, the school roared again in shock.
Malfoy stared at Harry where they floated for the Quaffle throw. "How?"
"Someone donated Nimbus 2001's to the school. I guess they decided that Slytherin didn't need any though," Harry replied with a cocky grin. "So, how much practice against equal opponents have you had?"
The look of horror on his face was priceless, Harry decided. "Tally ho!" he shouted as the quaffle was thrown up. He leaned forward and shot off.
"Oh, nice zinger, Harry!" Sheila shouted.
"What did he say?" Hermione asked loudly and then laughed when Sheila explained it to her, then Ron who was just about rolling on the ground.
"He did not!" Neville exclaimed in shock.
"I'm not lying," Sheila retorted.
"Bloody hell, I can't keep up with the action. Our chasers are clobbering them, from what I can tell," Ron complained as the red and green blurs blasted across the sky between the rings on each end.
"That bludger is only targeting Harry," the Scion of Athena suddenly said. She was suddenly glad that she had convinced him to ride the Nimbus 2001, instead of his older broom. She did not think he would have been able to avoid it as easily on it.
Most of the crowd thought it was part of the game, only the players and Harry's friends saw any differently. He was swooping in between the Slytherin chasers, actually earning him a foul and a free shot, but he was too busy dodging to even stop.
"Something's wrong!" Seamus shouted. "That bludger is out to kill Harry!"
Some of the girl's screamed, even as Harry and Malfoy swooped towards the snitch they both barely noticed. There was a brief struggle, but Harry snatched it out of the air and raised his hand in triumph.
He had forgotten the bludger for just a fraction of a second. His outstretched arm was shattered by the rogue attack ball as it hit his shoulder, sending him spinning off his broom to tumble across the grass.
The Gryffindor stand suddenly shook as Sheila launched herself through the air to the far side of the field and kicked the bludger away from the spinning form of Harry as he crumpled to the ground. Draco was about to go for the newly released snitch when he saw her face.
Sheila was very, very angry. Her fist started to glow with an amazing radiance, golden red. When she lashed out at the bludger that was mindlessly try to kill the injured Harry, it exploded with the power of a small bomb.
"What was that? I've never seen that spell," Draco said with wild and wide eyes as he carefully dismounted.
She ignored him. "Harry?" Her eyes probed his form, breathing a sigh of relief as she saw the non-life threatening injury.
"Gee, Harry. Talk about throwing yourself into your game," she said in a jocular voice, trying to soothe him and keep him from going into shock. The crowd was starting to swarm the field.
Madam Hooch smiled as she dismounted her broom. "A broken arm. Easy enough to mend."
"Allow me, madam!" Lockhart called out, swishing his wand at the suddenly horrified Seeker.
Harry and Sheila all stared at his arm in shock as it deflated.
"You idiot! You've vanished his bones!" the other teacher exclaimed.
"Um, er, ah... No problem, I'm sure I can fix this right up," the Defense Against the Dark Art professor started to say.
Sheila held out her hand over his arm as it suddenly filled out and the pain vanished. "No charge, Harry," she said with a grin.
"You have the healing touch?" Hooch asked with a whisper.
She nodded carefully. "Some magic I figured out before Hogwarts." And part of her godly gifts, but she could not have let Harry suffer because of that teacher's incompetence. So it was not worth hiding.
Her stomach dropped as she realized that she was acting uncharacteristically.
A Fatebinding was in place between her and Harry Potter.
She suddenly developed a cold sweat as Harry started patting her back in thanks. Her smile was quite sickly as Hermione and Ron mobbed them in a tight, group hug.
Idly, she noted that his scar was almost entirely gone thanks to her regeneration. Harry could be just Harry.
The next morning, rumors were tearing through the school that a student had been killed. Dumbledore quickly put a stop to that at Sunday's breakfast. He tapped his wand on his goblet, causing it to chime loudly.
"I am sure you have all heard of Miss Hale's unfortunate state. She was found petrified and is now in the medical wing. We are currently awaiting supplies to brew a potion to fix her right up. That is all." He sat back down and started slathering preserves on his toast.
Hermione was thinking furiously. "We need to figure out how Draco is involved with the Chamber of Secrets. I've been thinking that we could polyjuice ourselves." She had a roll of parchment where she was furiously scribbling notes for one of their classes.
"What's that?" Ron asked curiously.
"It's a shape-changing potion. It doesn't alter your voice though. I think we need something else. Getting into the Slytherin dorms should be easy-" Sheila was starting to say.
"Easy you say?" The red-headed boy looked incredulous.
"Harry owns an invisibility cloak, Ron. He can just follow some Slytherin back to their dorms." Sheila started tapping her jawline with her finger.
"But that doesn't get them to talk," Harry said, fuming in deep thought. "He's dirty. You can just tell."
Ron leaned in closer across the breakfast table. "Veritaserum?"
"Not exactly subtle and could land us in legal trouble. You're supposed to only use it officially as a Ministry approved representative," Sheila noted as she filled her cup with water to take a sip.
"So what do you suggest then?" the Weasley asked.
"How about you set up a plan first, before dumping it on me. You know I just won't do everything for you," she groused.
"And well you shouldn't. Though I do appreciate you healing my arm. That was rather scary," Harry said as he filled his cup with pumpkin juice.
Sheila just shook her head at the other three's childishness, but then remembered (a little sadly) that they were children. But ones that were having to grown up faster than they should.
Suddenly she leaped out of the way as stink bombs rained down where she had been sitting. Fred and George looked up at where she was clinging to an archway that was enspelled to look like a cloud.
"We missed!" they chorused in shock.
"But not everyone. You know... this means war," Harry said in good-natured anger. He was fairly plastered in the gunk. He wished he had that power to dodge attacks he did not know about, not even feeling the tingle up his spine.
"Like we're scared of you," the left twin said.
"We're not Firsties anymore," Ron noted. "Just saying..."
Hermione, on the other hand, was looking furious. "My homework."
Sheila landed on the ground. "I'd run, if I were you."
The twins decided that maybe they had pushed their luck just a bit.
"Dueling club?" Ron said later that day. They had all trooped up to clean up and then hung out playing chess or exploding snap after breakfast. That was when the red-head had spotted the notice while keeping an eye out for his brothers.
Sheila looked over at the board, reading it quickly. "Hmm."
"Well, that's a good thing. Not like we're learning anything in DADA," Harry noted. And while the self study hall for defense was good, having to ask the older years for some help was a bit annoying. Especially if there were none in the room.
"It depends on who's teaching us. Professor Flitwick or Professor Dumbledore? That could be very informative. Lockhart? Not so much," Sheila said as she moved a knight on her board. She was trying to push Ron in an advanced chess move. So she was surprised as he suddenly played the exact perfect counter.
His smug grin told her he had actually planned that. "Check."
"You've been reading a chess book or two, haven't you?" she suddenly said in concentration. With a sigh, she nodded. "You will have me in at least four moves. Good play."
Harry and Hermione looked up in surprise. The Boy-Who-Lived had cajoled her into playing, which Hermione quite regretted, as she was currently missing her eyebrows.
"Sheila lost?" Harry asked.
"No, Harry. Ron won," Sheila said with a grin on her face. "He won fair and square."
They shook hands, Ron visibly relaxing.
"How about some gobstone for us all?" Harry said. "You two always play chess."
They all agreed to that.
Sheila looked almost pained as Gilderoy Lockhart stepped out from the throng of students in the great hall. It was a week later and the start of the dueling club. She actually sighed when she saw Severus Snape also in the throng. The charlatan was walking onto the stage, resplendent in robes of deep plum and accompanied by potions professor, wearing his usual black robes. Did the teacher not have another color to wear?
Lockhart waved an arm for silence and called, "Gather round, gather round! Can everyone see me? Can you all hear me? Excellent!"
"Now, Professor Dumbledore has granted me permission to start this little dueling club, to train you all in case you ever need to defend yourselves as I myself have done on countless occasions - for full details, see my published works."
"Let me introduce my assistant, Professor Snape," said Lockhart, flashing a wide smile. "He tells me he knows a tiny little bit about dueling himself and has sportingly agreed to help me with a short demonstration before we begin. Now, I don't want any of you youngsters to worry - you'll still have your Potions master when I'm through with him, never fear!"
Harry, Hermione and Sheila all watched carefully as Snape's imposing and very dangerous look washed over Lockhart like water off a duck.
Sheila had a cold smile as Snape trounced the DADA professor in their brief exhibition of the disarming charm, being at odds with most girls. Lockhart's inanity seemed to be limitless, but at Snape's murderous look, he changed what he was saying. Lockhart had finally noticed, because he said, "Enough demonstrating! I'm going to come amongst you now and put you all into pairs. Professor Snape, if you'd like to help me -"
They moved through the crowd, matching up partners. Lockhart teamed Neville with Justin Finch-Fletchley, but Snape reached their group first. "Time to split up the dream team, I think," he sneered. "Weasley, you can partner Finnigan. Potter -" Harry moved automatically toward Hermione and Sheila. "I don't think so," said Snape, smiling coldly. "Mr. Malfoy, come over here. Let's see what you make of the famous Potter. You, Miss Granger - you can partner Miss Bulstrode. And finally, Miss Henderson - you can partner with someone advanced enough to be a challenge for you. Flint, get over here."
Marcus Flint blinked as he looked at the 2nd Year girl in bemusement. "Sir?"
Looking Sheila right eye to eye, Snape drawled, "Try to not hurt your opponent too much."
"Right then. No permanent transfigurations," the young Scion said with a quirky smile before Flint could reply, garnering her a quick, narrowed glare from them both.
"Face your partners!" called Lockhart, back on the platform. "And bow!"
Harry and Malfoy barely inclined their heads, not taking their eyes off each other.
Lockhart started their duel with his usual fanfare.
Harry and Malfoy had both started on 'two.' Malfoy's leg-locker jinx missed Harry but he wasted no time in responding, pointed his wand straight at Malfoy and shouted, "Rictusempra!"
A jet of silver light hit Malfoy in the stomach and he doubled up, wheezing in laughter.
"I said disarm only!" Lockhart shouted in alarm over the heads of the battling crowd, as Malfoy sank to his knees.
Ron was practicing fine against Seamus, while Hermione was having quite a problem with Bulstrode, barely able to impede the bigger girl from getting her hands physically on her, quite against the rules. Abruptly, the smaller girl knocked her away off her back.
Sheila raised an eyebrow at Flint. "Shall we give them a show, Mr. Flint?"
"The Drubbing of the Dunderhead? Certainly, Miss Henderson?" the older boy said with a sneer.
On the count of three, they both raised their wands. Sheila shielded his disarming jinx while his own wand snapped into her hand with stinging force. "How accurate you were. Best two out of three then?" she drawled out her question, much to his dismay. She threw his wand back into his hand.
The young Scion winced as Snape maneuvered Lockhart into forcing Harry and Draco into dueling up on the stage. Again Draco failed to try to disarm Harry, but rather summoned a snake. But Harry had a few tricks that hanging out with the two smartest girls in the castle had pounded into his head.
"Inflagre!" he shouted, burning the snake to ash instantly with a wave of green flames.
Snape looked incensed while Draco looked flummoxed and just slightly scared.
"Well, this appears to be a waste of time," Sheila said loudly. "Mr. Malfoy can't seem to follow simple instructions."
"And you feel you can, Miss Henderson?" Snape drawled. "Let us have you do a more serious duel with Mr. Flint here then."
"No permanent injuries, right?" she asked again.
The both took to the stage, bowing as proper duelist do.
"Begin!" Lockhart called out, dropping his hand in a grand display.
Spells darted back and forth in a rapid manner, blocked by shields of dodged and ducked. All of the students blinked in astonishment, even Harry, Hermione and Ron. Professor Snape's cold eyes were dreadful as he watched one of the best duelist of the upper years... be demolished. Flint was fighting out of his depth and had no idea.
The duel ended with Flint blasted off the end of the stage, stuck to the wall and Sheila's hand holding his wand... expelled there by her basic disarming jinx.
The Gryffindors started shouting even as the Slytherins started booing.
"So you have finished your plan?" Sheila asked just after the holidays had started. They were up in the boy's dorms. Harry and Ron's room mates were out for a bit. Hermione was staying over the for the holidays this time.
Harry and Hermione nodded. He started describing the plan. "You were exactly correct that Polyjuice wouldn't work. It does not compel the truth or discover the hidden. And with it not disguising the voice also... Frustrating."
"And with the reminder that Harry does have his invisibility cloak, we already have scouted out the entrance and the password," Hermione explained as she laid out on Harry bed.
"So we thought about a compulsion charm, to get Malfoy all chatty," Ron said excitedly. "But subtle compulsion charms are very hard. Even Hermione can't quite do one yet."
"Really?" Sheila asked. She had thought the other girl was up to that already.
"Though the fact that Harry has been learning Occullemancy might be making it harder. What do you think?" Hermione asked.
"It's not bad. A little sub-vocal cues to get them started talking on it and you should have them confessing that one of them is the Heir of Slytherin. Which unfortunately they aren't, as I basically did your plan about a week ago," Sheila said.
"You already did it?" Ron asked with his mouth agape.
"Yes. Though I did find out that Draco believes his father is behind the attacks, but is not personally doing them himself. He's basically using someone, probably by magical compulsion, to attack the Muggleborn." Sheila gave Hermione a very serious look. "That makes him very dangerous."
"So Draco is a dead end?" Harry said in surprise. "I was sure that he was behind it."
"Harry, Draco is a slightly above-average second year. What makes you think he would be capable of these things?" The scion shook her head.
That got Ron and Hermione thinking. "So it has to be something an older student would be doing. Or an adult," the red-head thought aloud. "But how would they sneak onto the grounds?"
"There are wards to detect levitating over the walls," Sheila informed them. "But if you could get over the walls without that spell. Or use a broom..."
"There's an anti-sticking spell to keep ropes from being used. But how would that work on a grapple?" Harry wondered.
Then Hermione interjected as she scribbled in her notebook. "But would Pureblood supremacists do things the Muggle way? I would bet not."
"Perhaps a secret passage then-" Sheila was saying when there was a knock at the dormitory door.
"Is Sheila in there?" Professor McGonnagal called out. "You are summoned." She creaked the door open, sighing with very slight relief to see all of them working on some papers.
"Summoned, ma'am?" Sheila asked in a startled tone.
"Yes. There are some people from a law firm that have a decree from the Ministry of Magic." McGonnagal's lips were held thin in disapproval of some sort.
"Very well, professor. Do you happen to have the pass-phrase? Or will you be escorting me?" the Scion asked as she waved to her friends.
"The pass phrase is pepper-snaps. Unfortunately, I have to get back to supervising the Weasley twins in their detention," the austere teacher explained.
They split from each other outside the Gryffindor's main room and Sheila found herself letting herself be lifted up to the Headmaster's tower on the rotating stairs.
"Miss Henderson, please enter," Professor Dumbledore called out.
"Thank you, professor." Sheila tried to hide her suspicious look at the very large, misshapen figures looming on each side of the doorway inside. Smaller than normal giants, they gave the appearance of being... Fomori-kin. The wizard sitting across from Dumbledore wore simple black robes. He wore his hair fairly short, but slicked back. It gave him a feral and mean look. The last person was a Goblin, with a mean and hard look of his own with his sharpened teeth.
"I have been informed, and verified, that I can not stop these people from taking you from Hogwarts." Dumbledore looked quite angry, though very controlled. "It appears an ancient treaty has been enacted by Mr. Kirkland's client. They seem to feel that you qualify under that treaty."
"So, the attack from the servants of the Titans and their ilk," Sheila said slowly.
"Yes. Any wand magic that is used here will revoke a treaty between my master and Wizarding Britain. Even now, giants, trolls and chimera await the word to smash Hogsmeade to kindling," the overly pretty lawyer said with a dark, hungry look.
"Very well. Shall we step outside so we don't destroy the Headmaster's office?" she replied curtly.
The Fomori on the left just sneered and reached out, missing catching Sheila by her head. "You come!"
Her response was to leap at the doorway to the stairs, kicking through it as if it were balsawood instead of thick oak.
"Be cautious, she has some of her parent's strength." Kirkland followed the two Fomori down the stairs to the large hallway.
"Please evacuate the area and whatever you do, do not interfere!" Shelia shouted out to the Hufflepuff 5th years at the end of the hall as she pulled out a broadsword and silver pistol from her TARDIS pouch. They just looked confused until the first Fomori tromped down the stairs at high speed.
With a roar, he charged and threw a massive punch that she sidestepped again. The sword lashed out, cutting the thick hide of the giant-kin, forcing a bellow of pain.
Cedric Diggory had his wand out, but kept it and his friend's wand lowered. "Wait. She may have a very good reason to tell us to not get in there."
"But Ced, she's going to get killed," Mike said in shock.
"I think she has little to be afraid of at this point." The Fourth Year Hufflepuff had a keen eye for dueling himself.
The other Fomori had finally caught up, but for his trouble he received a double-tap of over-powered armored piercing bullets to the center of his chest. While it did not kill the giant, it started leaking blood quickly. She was forced to bend over forward almost to the ground as a crossbow bolt was shot at her with deadly intent from the Goblin.
It snarled in anger, surprised that its attack from behind had failed so spectacularly. Aft of him, Kirkland frowned with deep concern. This was not a nearly helpless child, unvisited by her divine parent. This was a dangerous Scion, versed in combat of the Muggle sort. Something he had not planned upon, as he had thought that Muggle technology did not work too well in Hogwarts.
The gun barked again, taking out both of the wounded Fomori's eyes, even as Sheila somehow spun through the other monster's grasping hands. Dumbledore had cautiously followed while not interfering.
"My dear Froohank, you may wish to reconsider you thoughts on attacking Miss Henderson," the bearded wizard said quietly to the goblin.
"I have been given this honor. You will not deny me her blood, wizard," the feral goblin said. "This is Gringott's business."
The blinded, ogre-sized Fomori collapsed, starting to bleed out even as Sheila continued her fight against the other, slicing into the tendon of his arm. Her face was curiously blank as she danced around him, inflicting vital wounds.
She came to a halt, sword pointed at Kirkland even as the last Fomori collapsed behind her. "So, now it is just up to you, undead servant of the Titans."
"Yes. How irritating that I have to deal with this myself," the wizard said with a snear. "Don't move." He started walking the twenty feet towards her unmoving form. His smile was almost pure evil, until her sword was abruptly shoved into his stomach.
"That would not be very logical, now would it?" she replied conversationally.
"How-!" the vampire gasped.
"I'm sure you will figure it out," she replied, twisting the sword and pulling it out his side, causing a spray of blood.
Froohank suddenly lowered his reloaded crossbow. His desire for her blood did not extend to dying painfully.
Kirkland suddenly exploded into a black vapor, rapidly fleeing away. Sheila's bloodstained sword was now pointed at the Goblin even as she sent pure healing power into the undead, burning away part of the darkness. "I would suggest you drop that weapon and leave."
"Merlin's Balls," Cedric whispered. She had not used a bit of magic that he understood.
"Do the deaths of all those Wizards in Hogsmeade mean nothing to you," the Goblin asked.
"They have not died yet, nor will I be the cause of their death. Nor will I allow their being hostage to force me to surrender." Her voice was adamant steel, unwavering and unflinching. "Will you order their deaths if I release you?"
"Their deaths are on your head-"
The crack of the gunshot was deafening in the hallway as the force of the bullet hitting flung the Goblin into the wall. "My pardon, Headmaster, but I must take myself to the Astronomy tower." And with that, Sheila took off down the hallway at a blurring pace, surprising the gathering crowd of students.
"I fear things will only become harder for you," the old wizard said in reply to the departed Scion. He seemed quite shaken by the violence that was visited to his school this day.
The view from the Astronomy Tower was incredible. You could see almost everything, with only part of the Forbidden Forrest blocked by the castle itself. A couple from Ravenclaw had been enjoying the view.
"Pardon me, but you may wish to go below," she said conversationally as she pulled a eight foot long, high-tech looking rifle out of her TARDIS pouch. She was quickly testing it while setting up the bi-pod.
"Is that a Muggle gun?" the young Ravenclaw girl asked.
"It is based on their ideas, yes." But it was built by her. The induction coil started to rev up to full speed, spinning up to blinding speeds... protected by her runes that warded electronic items.
"Er, what are you shooting out?" the older boy asked.
"Giants and Chimera that are about to attack Hogsmeade." She was sighting over the lake, taking in the largest of the monsters on the outskirts of the Wizarding town. Then she noted the Goblin on its shoulder.
The whine from the rifle was building terribly. Then it spoke, with the roar of thunder and blinding flash of lightning as a bolt of control plasma rocketed across the miles.
The awaiting monsters were startled when the Goblin on the Giant's shoulder exploded in a burst of light. The next flash of light signaled the death of a Giant as his head exploded. While the monsters were not smart, they did have a very healthy survival instinct and fled into the forest.
Sheila sighed as she lowered her plasma rifle. Now there was going to be some hell to pay. That was a lot more high profile than she had wanted.
The Wizenmengot was called to session the very next morning. Reporters were crammed into the visitors area. Albus Dumbledore stood as the Chief Warlock. "This session of the Wizenmengot is now in session. I believe that we have questions to put to Miss Henderson?"
Minister of Magic Fudge nodded. "Bring in the prisoner," he ordered.
Sheila was led to the ugly, black-iron chair in the center of the packed court room. Incredibly heavy chains were fitted and locked onto her. "I'm flattered, but I did come quietly."
That caused a ripple of quiet laughter to go over the crowd.
"Miss Henderson, you were approached by the Order of Mallius," Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge started with. "They called upon ancient treaties that demanded that we turn over a child to them, lest we be attacked. They then informed us that an army was amassed to destroy Hogsmeade if we tried to renege on the treaty."
"I was not aware of such a treaty, but my family does have powerful enemies." The young girl seemed unperturbed sitting in the chair. "This was an attempt for them to deal with what they felt was a threat."
"Are you a threat to them?" a toad-like woman next to the Minister of Magic asked.
"I could be, but I do not believe I currently am such a threat to them. They attacked me, not the other way around." Her face was quite impassive, sitting on the uncomfortable chair in the middle of the room.
"And your family? Will they come forward to lay a claim of grievance against us?" another member of the Wizenmengot called out.
"I doubt that. It appears my family has less influence here than I was aware. And I thought they had little to begin with. This Order of Mallius will probably deal with me directly," she explained. "Do you have any more questions that about myself, Minister?"
There was about ten minutes as the different members talked with one another. Finally though, they decided they had nothing more to do other than to look at expanding the Auror Corps. Which was something that a young child should not be involved in.
Once she was outside, she headed towards the Floo connection and transported to Diagon Alley through the Leaky Cauldron. She gave a nod to the bartender, Old Tom, and then tapped the bricks on the wall with her white wand.
She had a list of place to visit, though she wondered if Ollivander would be happy with her information she wanted him to look at.
Harry was wandering the halls of Hogwarts later that same day of Sheila's court appearance, his breath frosting in the cold air. It was only days until Christmas and he wanted to get away from his friends for a bit.
"Harry Potter. I'm surprised you weren't at the fiasco," Draco Malfoy drawled out. At either side stood his normal book ends. Crabbe and Goyle looked typically unhappy and wanted to share that feeling with him.
"Malfoy," Harry said politely. "Actually, I was thinking that I was glad not to be up there."
"After all the posturing you put up with Professor Lockhart?" Malfoy said with a sly, curled lip.
"The same professor that did not believe who I was because my scar is almost invisible?" The Boy-Who-Lived had liked that point. "It seems without my trademark scar, few people believe that I'm that person. Which is fine by me."
He turned and started walking to clear his mind. And then he was suddenly leaping away, silent spells whipping through the place he'd been.
Malfoy looked flummoxed, while his two cronies had not even figured out that their spells to Harry's back had somehow missed.
"Malfoy. Let's try that three on one while I don't have my back turned," the Boy-Who-Lived said in a harder tone.
The next five minutes was a painful lesson to the Slytherins in curses and jinxes cast in a blindingly fast manner. Even Harry could tell that this was not normal as he bent and twisted under the spells as if they were in slow motion. Leaving the trio tied up, but really not that hurt he took off to the Gryffindor dorm in a dash.
He was through the entrance, much to the distraught frustration of the Fat Lady and looking around the main area. "Hermione!"
"Harry? Are you all right?" The young bookworm had taken in his very disheveled state and rightly assumed something had come up.
"I was just attacked by Malfoy and his goons." He stopped and looked around at a few people that were listening in. Harry stepped up closer and lowered his voice. "They should have had me, but somehow I dodged even with my back turned then trashed them. And I don't think that's normal."
"That does sound like something Sheila would do, doesn't it?" Hermione said as she fingered the little half-owl amulet around her neck. "I don't think you are alone, Harry."
"How can that be possible, Hermione?" the Boy-That-Lived asked curiously as he flopped into a chair.
She suddenly had a very wide, pretty smile on her face that just about floored him. "By the purity of our blood, strangely."
"That doesn't make a bit of sense." Harry looked confused as he slouched.
"It does if you read the legends that the first Wizards claimed to be descendants of different gods. Argoni claimed to have the blood of Lugh," the young girl explained. "Slytherin claimed he had the blood of Set."
"And... because we can do magic-?" he trailed off.
"Sheila gave us a relic. She mentioned that she was visited by her mother and gifted with her own Relics." She watched as it dawned on the boy while scribbling furiously.
"What changed with you, Hermione?" Green eyes watched her carefully.
"I'm becoming smarter. Now I really see what Sheila meant," she admitted. "Runes make so much more sense."
Harry realized that that had also been happening to him, though perhaps not to such a great degree. "What are we supposed to do?"
"Well, I'm going to be following Sheila's example. There are many good things we can do."
Off just a bit and behind the corner of the stairwell, Ron listened in confusion. Gifts? Relics? What was going on? But one things was clear, he was being shut out.
Sheila slipped into the phone booth and typed in the phone number 'MAGIC' into it. Outside the glass and falling all over London was a heavy snow. It made things look much less ugly, she decided. Once she was done here, she would have to get her holiday shopping done and get back to Hogwarts before Christmas Eve tomorrow.
"Please state the nature of your visit," the female voice on the other side asked.
"Sheila Henderson to talk before the Wizenmengot panel of Magical Artifacts and Relics," was the simple reply.
The lift lowered the whole phone booth down into an atrium where Floo connections were allowing wizards and witches to come and go in relative ease. She headed up to the security point and had her wand checked out and then was given instructions on how to reach the meeting room.
Finding herself to be the first one there (the meeting was not scheduled to start for twenty minutes) she started to pull out her papers and fliers. Only three people showed up, introducing themselves as Merrick, Thimbleton and Albercomb.
Merrick, a solid and balding wizard took control of the meeting. "Young lady, I understand you have some information on wand creation that Headmaster Dumbledore feels that we should be aware of?"
"That's correct. While delving into wand creation, I discovered a few interesting facts that I was able to map out using advanced Arithimancy and Runes. With the proper framework, I can craft a wand with far less resistance to the caster's own magic," she explained as she handed out several booklets.
The very old man with snow white hair started to read immediately.
Thimbleton, the only witch that had been on the panel, sighed. She was a severe looking witch. "Albercomb, you can read that later. So what are the practical effects on society?"
"It will increase most wizards reliability on their wand by up to ten percent and increase the function of any replacement wand by a great deal more. Up to ninety percent in cases. I believe it can allow Squibs to master very minor magic, though they will never be strong. Mr. Filch, for instance, can barely create light." Sheila awaited their next question.
"So it isn't a cure all, though it seems far less haphazard than Ollivander's method of just having hundreds of wands available. You do realize that this book will have to be kept confidential?" Merrick explained.
"Yes, so that non-Wizards can not make their own wands." Ages back, Goblins with wands had been a terrifying thought. Luckily, they had thought that their magical swords and spears were more than enough to compensate.
"Which does beg us the question," Ambercomb asked, "Where did you learn to craft wands."
"The study of my own wand that I purchased and rigorous application of study and thought," was her prompt answer. "I had to get some things clarified with Ollivander, but he is studying my works closely. He thinks its is a major innovation that will propel Wizards to a new era." She did not agree, but for other reasons. Wizards and Muggles were on a collision course thanks to computers and digital cameras.
The three adults conversed a while, but all agreed there was nothing intrinsically wrong with what she had discovered.
So the meeting was adjourned and Sheila was soon on her way across town in a taxi. She was quickly walking into a nondescript building and up the elevator to another meeting, though this one had been called by her to talk to her different business managers. She was not first this time, thanks to traffic, so Miles Whitaker was there taking out contracts from his briefcase. "Excuse me, Miss. This room is reserved for me and my client," the attorney said to the young girl.
"One Sheila Henderson, correct?" she asked as she sat down and started pulling out papers from her own briefcase.
"Er, right that is." He seemed to be taken back by her answer.
"Then you are here to see me. Shall we wait for your assistant?"
As if summoned, the door opened and a man of about thirty years walked in. "Sir?"
"Sit down, Johns. It appears our client is here," Miles said with a wave. "Miss Henderson, I've been going over your patents and I've had some very lucrative offers. When I dug down deeper, I realized they were low-balling it, so I pushed for a much more aggressive fee structure."
"Nothing extravagant. I do want these different medical technologies to be something we can license in the Third World nations."
"Yes, I did get that in your brief. Your fees have been being deposited into the bank account you specified. The indices list the amounts and from which inventions are the big money makers," he explained as he saw her reading the paperwork.
"So about 500,000 pounds? That's not too bad while I'm at my private school," she noted.
"True enough. I would have to say that you will be the youngest millionaire that earned it," Miles said with a grin.
"I have a list of another dozen more devices to market." She started pulling out more papers and samples.
The assistant quickly started to help her organize them as she explained the different functions.
Miles was nearly salivating at the thought of what she was saying and what he saw. "That batteries energy density is that great?" That could keep a Walkman running for days if he was reading that correctly.
"So far. I might be able to increase that."
"Well, Miss Henderson, I have to say that I think this is the start of a wonderful relationship," Miles said with a smile.
Sheila stepped off the regular train at the end of the line. Technically, it continued onwards to Hogsmeade, but no regular, Muggle train would be permitted to stop at that sacrosanct place. She looked around the quaint village, taking in the tracks in the snow coming from the north and quickly matching it up to the lorry parked in front of the general store.
She set her trunk down on the ground outside and then stepped inside. "Excuse me, is that your lorry outside?" Sheila asked the older man at the counter who was doing business with the salesman.
"Yeah. What of it?" the crusty farmer asked.
"I was just wondering if I could get a ride up the road?"
"Ain't nothin' up there." His voice, and the man at the counter both suddenly came across very wary.
"I'd be willing to make it worth your while. At least as far as your farm, perhaps?" she continued on blithely.
"How much?" he asked suspiciously.
"Oh, thirty pounds would not be too little, would it?"
He merely grunted and quickly got his feed paid for. He was surprised when Sheila offered to help load up his lorry, but happy that it went so fast.
As the truck pulled and moved down the rutted tracks, he looked over. "Hogwarts, eh? Why didn't you take the train?"
"I couldn't find where to buy the ticket. It seems they hid it too well," she said without batting an eye. "Squib? Or a descendant of a squib?"
"Married one, actually. But that was a long time ago and she passed away three years ago. She liked to walk into town and visit her mother, so we lived nearby." He relaxed slightly. "Ain't you a bit trusting?"
"I can defend myself quite fine, thanks." Her tone was quite bland. "Any children that went to Hogwarts?"
"Just one. He's not in any hurry to produce any kids either."
They traveled for ten minutes before she suddenly spoke up. "People around here know of the village and the school, don't they?"
"Yup." The old man fought the truck into a lower gear as he struggled around a rutted turn.
"People just do not forget the ancient so easily. It's in everyone's blood, to some degree."
"You're an odd one, ain't you?"
Sheila smiled brilliantly. "You could say that."
The lorry pulled up to an ancient gate. "This is as far as I can go. You're going to have to drag your trunk the rest of the way."
The young Scion handed him the money and hopped out. With a wink, she lifted the trunk up with one hand. "Have a good day, sir." She took off at a fast trot, heading up to the castle he could not see.
She was soon walking in the main gate. "Good afternoon, Mr. Filch."
The caretaker blinked. "You didn't head into Hogsmeade, did you? You're not old enough for that."
"Oh, no. Not at all. I just got back from London. I couldn't find the place to buy tickets for the Hogwart's Express, so I had to take the Muggle train." She finished knocking the snow off her boots. "Have a happy holiday."
"Happy Christmas to you, too." The scraggly man frowned as he thought over her words. Scratching his half-shaven chin, he shrugged. As far as he knew, there was no rule against coming back to Hogwarts early.
The Fat Lady let her into the warmth of the Gryffindor common room. "Hello, you three."
Harry, Hermione and Ron all looked up from the game that Ron and Harry were playing.
Ron tried to hide a scowl, but Harry and Hermione were very please to see her.
"Back from London?" Harry asked with a grin.
"In time for the holiday with my friends."
The rest of the holiday flew by quite quickly. Harry quite discovered that he could not quite die of embarrassment, though it came close as he found himself drowning in presents. Sheila and Hermione had given him several gifts. While most were just clothing (or gift certificates so he could buy his own unmentionables) he was also treated to a few books, gadgets and even game system for when he was back in the Muggle world.
Ron blinked at his smaller pile, but was more shocked with the pure amount of clothing. "What's with all the clothing?"
"Unlike someone, we happened to notice that Harry needed some new clothing. Those hand me downs really did need to be replaced," Hermione shot back at the red-head.
"Er," Harry muttered uncomfortably.
"Harry, you don't have to say anything. If you want to unburden yourself, we are here for you. But we aren't going to pressure you." Sheila put her hand on the top of Harry's own for just a second.
"That goes double for me," his other, female friend called out in an emotional voice.
Ron seemed to try to think about it, but just shrugged it off as he dug out a box of chocolates from his presents.
The twins bounded down the stairs from the boy's dorms. "Already started?" they both chimed in.
"Of course. You two weren't even trying to get up," Sheila retorted.
They clutched their hearts. "You wound us!" Fred called out.
"No, not even slightly." The young Scion rolled her eyes.
More presents were opened and then they all trooped outside before lunch for a massive snowball brawl.
It was after the holidays that things began to start moving. Sheila smile when she heard that Irene Holt was released from the hospital wing, though the rumors of the Slytherin's monster started to get worse. The yellow, reptilian eyes had people confused, but to Sheila it was the confirming point. And her purchase of the Mandrake anti-petrification potion from Greece appeared to have paid off. She had three more dose, just to be on the safe side.
Harry, Hermione and Ron all shared a look and then started to think. Ron was still piling up mashed potatoes on his dinner plate.
"But their gaze kills," Hermione countered. "I'd already checked that book."
"Their full gaze kills, but she saw it reflected in a window on the third floor." She flipped a page on her advanced book of transfiguration.
Harry nodded. "That makes me wish I had not given up my glasses. They might help just a bit."
"We should leave it to Dumbledore and the professors," Ron said and then took a gigantic bite.
That caused a moment of consternation from Harry and Hermione. Sheila just shook her head. "But it is only tangentially aimed at Hogwarts, I believe. Remember Dobby the House-Elf." She paused a moment, then spoke again. "Actually, it could be a plan with multiple aims. Only one of them being Harry's death."
"What would any other aim be?" Hermione asked. "Other than to make Hogwarts have to close, I suppose. If some student were to die, that would happen."
Fred and George were listening quite intently, as was their mouse-quiet sister who started at that pronouncement.
"Perhaps someone does want the school closed. At least temporarily." Sheila stopped reading as she pondered that thought. "It would give an excuse to sack the headmaster and 'reform' the school. And I think we have our smoking gun."
"Malfoy," Hermione said in sudden understanding.
"But you said he wasn't powerful enough to do this," Ron complained.
"Draco, certainly. But his father, Lucius Malfoy? He's reputed to be a very dark wizard and he's on the Hogwarts Governor's board. And I think I'm close to discovering who his agent is within the school," Sheila explained in a casual tone. The hidden start of surprise and worry from the young girl down the row was quite telling.
After their supper, they headed up to the common room to continue working on their potion essay. Professor Snape had given the three of them an extra assignment. A fairly unpleasant assignment.
"Alchemy. I thought it would be very grand," Harry said. "But it seems..."
"To be a lot of guess work," Hermione finished for him. "Look at this chapter on gold and the fact that it is nearly immutable."
"Which is why its an actual currency. If just anyone could turn lead to gold... we'd soon have a lead shortage," Sheila explained. She stood up. "I'm off for a bit." Without saying anything, she headed out of the common room.
She was soon standing in the shadows across from the girl's bathroom on the second floor. When Ginny Weasley showed up and entered, she just nodded. As soon as she heard Ginny leap down a hidden entrance, she entered the room. "Hello, Myrtle. So this is the entrance to Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets." She reached down and put her hand down on the edge of the hole to keep it from closing. "Interesting. This has powerful magic that changes the appearance of the room to match what people expect, while still showing Slytherin's symbols."
"So I was killed by Slytherin's monster?" the ghost said as she floated there in front of her toilet.
"It appears so. Do be a dear and let a teacher know." Sheila leaped down the hole, landing lightly in the absolute darkness. She conjured a Grecian helmet that covered the wearers eyes.
The rustle of a cloak in the air behind her brought a small smile to her face. Obviously she was being followed.
Skins and crunchy bones littered her path to a massive door that was ajar, but closing. Carefully, but with great, applied strength, Sheila re-opened the door. Her wand danced an intricate pattern, weaving a medley of magic that transfigured rocks and rubble into confused roosters.
Then she slipped into the dark room lit only by a single wand far in front of her.
"I thought you were my friend, Tom," a young girl's plaintive tone called out. Ginny Weasley was sitting in the center of the massive chamber, under the gaze of a massive bust of a man that looked crude and evil. She was scribbling into a book by the light of her Lumos spell.
"Ah. That explains it," Sheila said as she stepped out of the gloom at the edge of the light.
The girl shrieked as she leaped to her feet. "Who's there?"
"Hello, Ginny Weasley. I'm afraid you have fallen prey to an evil magical book that is attempting to possess you." Sheila looked modestly impressive with a helmet covering the top of her head and the rest of her cloaked in dark robes.
"No. Tom is my friend," she said, clutching her book defensively.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle has no friends. I doubt he could understand friendship, actually. His has the classic signs of Sociopathy. After all, Voldemort never made any bones that he was superior to everyone else. Even Purebloods." A hint of sadness was in her voice.
Ginny abruptly changed in demeanor. "You know a lot about me, Miss Henderson. Yet I know so little about you."
"Ah. You've suppressed her for the moment, Tom. So that book is another Horcrux." Her voice was as bland as an old woman discussing the weather at a bridge club.
"You really do know how this works." Ginny suddenly sent out a quick barrage of spells, then quickly turned to the statue, hissing at it. So he missed Sheila pulling out her helmet and putting it on.
Then a flock of chickens dashed into the room, just as the Basilisk came out through the hidden door of Slytherin's mouth.
"My, that's an awful lot of roosters. I suppose at least one of them might just crow." Sheila listened to the rustle of a cloak behind the roosters, near the main entrance. And smiled.
Ginny (and the Basilisk) looked on in horror even as a glowing light appeared at the far side of the room among the pillars. Its soft, red light hinted at the coming sun.
The first rooster crowed, quickly followed by a chorus.
"No! No! This can't be happening. I killed all the roosters!" Ginny was screaming even as the Basilisk collapsed in a twitching, dying heap.
Sheila conjured a massive tarp that wrapped itself around the snake's head. "It's over, Tom. Release the girl." He pulled off the helmet now that it had done its job.
"Never!" the shade declared through Ginny's ruby lips. "If I can't live, then neither shall the girl!"
"Experliamos!" Harry shouted out as he appeared from thin air, his cloak of invisibility fluttering to the ground behind him and Hermione. Both of them were wearing blindfolds.
Her wand snapped into the young hero's out-stretched hand. "It's over, Voldemort!" Harry looked quite composed and set in his ways.
"You've been disarmed, your monster killed." Hermione was just as set as Harry with her wand pointed to the possessed redhead.
"No! No! How can it go so wrong to just children! I'm Voldemort! I am immortal!" the girl was shrieking.
That was when Sheila snatched the book from Ginny's nerveless fingers.
"Hello, Ginny. The nightmare is over," Sheila said to the recovering girl.
The red-head promptly started bawling her eyes out as she collapsed to her knees. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to do all those things."
"Of course not. You were just used by that evil man," Hermione said, hugging the girl as she knelt by the younger Griffindor.
"What are we going to do with this monster?" Harry asked Sheila.
"We need to harvest a bit of Basilisk venom." Sheila used her wand to carefully incise a cut and dribble the hissing liquid into a stout vial.
"I see. That will take care of the book, won't it?" the young man said.
Sheila just nodded as she dribbled the spiritually caustic liquid onto the pages of the book. It actually scorched a hole through the book and onto the ground. "You know, this thing is worth a terribly lot. Would you mind splitting it four ways?"
"I don't see why not," Hermione said from where she was holding Ginny tightly. "You knew we were here?"
"I heard you following. A very decent job," the more powerful Scion said. She had a brilliant smile that showed how proud of them she was.
"Funny, in all the stories the hero always rescues the damsel with spells and a sword. Not a rooster," Ginny said with a wry scowl. After the book had been destroyed, she perked right up.
Harry just grinned. "I have to say, this ended up being much safer. That snake out-weighed us by a few hundred stones here and there."
Sheila ended up shrinking the Basilisk and then they trooped up to Dumbledore's office.
"I'm going to be expelled!" the youngest Weasley almost wailed at the entrance.
"I doubt it," Sheila said. "Professor Snape."
"What are you doing out after curfew?" the bat-like professor asked in a scathing tone as he appeared out of the shadows.
"Seeing the headmaster about the monster that has been attacking students," she replied carefully. That was when the stone gargoyle started to spin. "Ah, it appears he's on his way or is inviting us up."
As the headmaster did not appear, they headed up on their own. Snape followed them up, his dark eyes keeping track of everything.
"Enter." Dumbledore looked like he was in the middle of writing a letter.
"We appear to have resolved the monster from the Chamber of Secrets," Sheila said without preamble.
"You three dunderheads?" the potions professor managed to get out. He looked incredibly upset.
"Really, Professor. We're the best students in our year. Even you have to agree to that," Hermione countered. "Denigrating all of your students constantly does not promote teaching."
"Ginevra here was being possessed by an evil book." Sheila gave Snape a judging look. "Do you know where you got it from?"
"It was in my cauldron with all my school books after we went to Diagon Alley," the young red-head said carefully.
That set Hermione and Sheila immediately frowning and thinking back. They had been there at Flourish and Botts at that time.
"There was a scuffle between Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy, but I was all the way over across the room making a book order," Sheila said blandly.
"Ah, perhaps with a bit of work we might get to the bottom of this mystery." Professor Dumbledore waved his wand at a heavy cabinet which popped open. The heavy, stone basin within floated over.
"A pensieve? Very nice. Since all of us were there at the bookstore, we should all add our memories. That way we have as many angles as possible," Sheila said with a small smirk.
"All of you were there?" Snape asked carefully.
"All of us children, yes." Sheila's blue-green eyes were looking him over carefully.
After dragging their memories out and placing the silvery liquid into the pensieve. Then they all entered the memories of the crowded book store.
Snape frowned as he looked around. He was quite aware of how dulled memories became over time. Especially in the young and flighty. But these memories, they sang as if they were new and bright. Each color was amazingly crisp. The professor snorted when he heard Potter beg off from Professor Lockheart who did not believe the brat (in his mind) was the Boy-That-Lived.
Then the confrontation started between Lucius Malfoy and Arthur Weasley. It did not last very long before Hagrid broke it up, but he frowned when he saw Sheila and Harry nodding as Lucius parted with an insult as he handed back a cauldron to Arthur.
"That was it, wasn't it Harry?" Sheila said as they faded back to the real world.
"Yes. He stuffed the diary into Ginny's cauldron. Very quick and subtle," the green-eyed boy said intently.
"Unfortunately, pensieve memories are not legal witness," the headmaster said with a sigh.
"That is true." Sheila seemed quite happy for some reason, confusing the other three teens. "If we can leave?"
Dumbledore nodded, directing them back out of his office and down the stairs.
"So, Sheila?" Harry asked casually.
"Why are you so happy that Malfoy got off scott free?" Hermione demanded irritably. Beside her, Ginny winced at her tone.
"We live in a feudal society where everyone is armed." Sheila's tone was quite bland.
Harry's quiet whistle filled the dark corridors. "I see."
"So do I. You aren't going to challenge him, are you?" Hermione demanded.
"We'll see. Perhaps I might."
Ginny looked confused. "But you aren't a trained witch yet. Malfoy... he's supposed to be really dangerous."
"We are all dangerous, Ginny. After all, you own a wand."
The Dwarves, Sheila decided, must have definitely fallen upon hard times. Though they did not petrify in sunlight they were but a mockery even of the lowly station that the Aesir had them at. She frowned as she watched one of Lockhart's machinations to spread 'love' about on Valentine's Day to everyone.
When one of the Dwarves in a cherubic-uniform headed towards their section of the Gryffindor table at lunch, Sheila became slightly worried. Then it went slightly past her to stand in front of Harry to start serenading him about his green eyes.
"Why Harry, you have an admirer!" Sheila said with a laugh.
"A secret one too." Hermione was smiling to take the sting out of it.
Gilderoy was running around, congratulating people. Ron was trying desperately not to laugh hysterically. At least until he got one of the Dwarves serenading him about his humor and red hair, much to his mortification.
The quartet just shook their heads at his antics. It was obvious that only some of the older years had really gotten into it. Even Harry was starting to grin, though when he was not looking, Sheila gave a very serious glare at Ginny. That Weasley backed off to talk to her friends quite quickly.
The rest of the day passed quite quickly, even as Harry learned to dodge the Dwarves who looked a bit uncomfortable with their jobs. He had found out that this was some sort of temp work that no one else was willing to work as. They usually did a lot of back-breaking work in the forges of the goblins.
All in all, they were quite happy that was all there was to that holiday. And it gave them several quiet weeks as they revised. Harry thought it quite odd that Sheila and Hermione were studying advanced college courses in the evenings. Ron had been shocked to find out that Flourish and Botts were willing to buy Muggle textbooks for a resell fee.
"Mad, the lot of you," he had complained.
"That's a bit nutters," Harry admitted softly while nodding, though he had to admit that the work they were doing was very interesting. Chemistry was actually a bit useful in potions.
It was an evening on the last day of March, after all of his dorm mates had gone to sleep and after his homework was done (something that had become much easier, he had found) he decided to go for a walk. The Boy That Lived quirked a grin as everyone had realized that Mr. Filch was far less likely to find you out without Mrs. Norris.
Though Harry had to admit to himself that the caretaker seemed to be taking a bit more care with his appearance now that he was a 'weak wizard' rather than a squib. He managed to easily dodge Snape and Filch. The caretaker was quite happily flashing his wand around, dimly lighting up shadows that students might be hiding... constantly. The young wizard wondered if he realized that made it easier to avoid him, as he was quite visible off in the distance.
He was just about finished with his stealthy walkabout when he heard voices from the DADA classroom. He moved over the door and after double-checking to make sure ho one was approaching, listened for all of a minute before he retreated. If you could see in the dark, he would have been blushing heavily. It appears that he was having some sort of torrid tryst like in Aunt Petunia's daily, American soaps. Heading down the hall, he ducked into a cubbyhole when he heard foot steps coming his way quickly.
That was when two very familiar Weasleys came around the corner. In hushed tones, they conversed for just a second then ducked into the same alcove.
"You know, I was here first," Harry said in a low, dry tone from right behind them.
George looked over his shoulder as his feet left the floor. "Blimey, Harry, where did you come from?"
"What is going on, you two?" he asked as he rolled his eyes.
"Nearly got caught by Filch as we were setting up up a prank on the Slytherin's entrance down in the dungeon. Sort of a self-present for our birthday. At least he can't track us by scent any-" Fred started to explain as the DADA's door suddenly opened with a loud click. They leaned further back as they shut up.
"Careful my dear. I've tricked Mr. Filch so you should have a clear run to your dungeon," Gilderoy Lockheart said with a winning smile in the darkness as he closed the door behind him. He had his wand out, checking both ways in apparent vigilance.
The seventh year girl in green-trimmed robes nodded. "Of course. No one will ever find out, will they?"
"Of course not! I am a gentlemen and the soul of discretion!" the blond poof stated with his winning smile that almost sparkled even in the dark corridor.
"That you made me a woman..." the pretty Slytherin said with a sigh. "I'll see you in class on Friday."
"Is that Filch?" Lockhart suddenly said, his voice showing grave concern as he looked over her shoulder.
"Oh no-!" the girl said as she turned to look over her shoulder.
"Obliviate," the wizard said as he struck her with his spell. "I'm sorry, my dear, but it just would not do for you to remember this encounter. I'll always treasure your gift, but I think it would be better if you think you and your sometime boyfriend had this encounter. Just in case of child support-"
Harry heard a roar, only to realize that it was his voice. "Stupefy!"
Lockhart only had a moment to look up as the red beam came out of nowhere and blasted him fifty feet down the hallway. He finally slid to a halt, quite unconscious.
"Bloody hell, Harry! That's some serious power," Fred and George exclaimed as they trotted behind him as he grabbed the girl by her arms.
"Hello? Are you all right?" the Boy That Lived asked, his magic was alive in his blood. A tingle traveled from his heart and into his hands...
...and then into the girl who's blank eyes were suddenly alert. "Professor? Harry Potter?"
"He hit you with some sort of spell and said you were going to forget... uh, umm, well... tonight with him," the younger boy said with a terrible blush on his face.
"He... He did!" She looked around frantically. "Oh, Merlin. I have two sets of memories in my head. Foggy, half-formed one of Martin and I and then much more, eep, detailed ones of Lockhart." She suddenly burst into tears. "I'm ruined! This can't get out. My mother will disown me! I'll be thrown out to to the streets and have to live in Knockturn Alley!"
Harry looked over at the two older red-heads. "What do I do?"
"You're a hero, Harry. We're just a pair of pranksters." Fred and George were looking a bit pale as they realized this was a serious issue.
"Go back to your dorm. You weren't here and we never saw you." Harry then turned to Lockheart and picked him up. "Fred? George? Would you be willing to be my witness as we bring him to Professor McGonagal?"
"You don't even-"
"-have to ask. We're with-"
"-you, fellow Griffindor." With that, both twins nodded. They then blinked as Harry picked up the professor, exposing a higher level of strength than they would have thought possible for his (self-admittedly) scrawny form.
Harry led them up a flight of stairs and over to the Transfiguration class, where her office was attached. He knocked loudly. He was just raising his fist to knock a minute later when the door suddenly opened.
Professor McGonnogal must have been asleep, as she looked a right terror with her hair up in a sleeping cap and glasses slightly askew. "Mr. Potter... what have you done now?" she asked tiredly.
"Stopping a professor from attacking a student," he replied shortly. "We found him modifying the memory of a girl he had just had a, er, tryst with."
"This is a serious accusation, Mr. Potter," the head of their house said. "Are you willing to back this in a court of law?"
"If need be. He could have done this to a lot of people. He could do this to... anyone."
Her eyes were caught on his deep-green eyes, realizing he was deadly serious. "And you two?"
"Yes, Professor McGonnogal," they replied in unison. The twins shared a quick look.
"And what of the girl that Professor Lockheart had... this tryst with." The older woman looked furious at the thought.
Harry frowned as he considered it. "She's worried about her family disowning her."
"So she won't come forward on her own. Must be from a pureblood family." At that she summoned Lockheart's wand and then tied him up with conjured ropes. "You may have to make a statement to Professor Dumbledore on the matter."
The twins prank on the Slytherin exit ended up being quite interesting as Slytherins ended up with all black, oily hair in honor of their head of household. The twins were dodging irate girls for weeks.
Now it was coming up on Easter Holiday and they were hanging out in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione had been aghast when she had discovered what Lockheart had done. Of course, as it was a secret what had happened, it was known throughout the school that he had an affair with at least one school girl, even if she was of age. Several of the older girls had been taken out of the school and the DADA professor was on probation.
And that, Harry decided, was a problem. He should not even be in the school at this point. He sighed as he put his pen back to paper. Across the table, Hermione looked up from her 'light studying' of physics. "Harry?"
"Sorry, just over thinking. I just really want Professor Lockhart gone." He quirked a grin over at Sheila who was writing in her notepad as she referenced something from her advanced metallurgy books. Heavy packages and mail appeared regularly in the mornings at the Gryffindor table.
"I do not have a fixation on removing incompetent professors," she protested without even looking up from her book.
"It's out of our hands," Hermione said with a frown as she continued to read in depth information on RNA decoding.
"Except how it affects us. We can always make a decision upon how we react. We may not be able to remove him, but that does mean we can not take some actions here," Sheila noted.
The Boy-That-Lived snorted at memory. "Yes, Hogwarts is not exactly the safest school in the world. Nearly being killed in the last two years proves that."
"You aren't thinking about leaving Hogwarts, are you Harry?" Hermione asked worriedly.
Harry frowned as he thought about it. "Not really. Hogwarts is my home-"
"Home is where your heart is, but I think that I know what Harry is saying. This is more his home than with his relatives," the demigoddess said absently.
The Boy-Who-Lived frowned at that, his face paling.
Sheila looked up at that, a stricken look on her face. "I'm sorry, Harry. That was very insensitive of me."
He reigned in his temper at Hermione and Ron's worried expressions. "I shouldn't be so touchy about it. It's their fault, not mine." Harry then frowned in deep thought. "Hermione, did you actually think about going to another school?"
"My parents did not want to feel stampeded into me going to Hogwarts, so actually looked at going to Beauxbatons's in France or Salems Academy across the pond in the United States. Eventually they decided that they would try Hogwarts here first," Hermione explained as she tapped the book she had stopped reading with her dry quill. "Going to Beauxbaton would have required me to get better at French and traveling to Salems would have been more expensive."
"Hogwarts is the best, though," Ron staunchly defended.
"At attempting to get us killed?" Sheila asked with an archly raised eyebrow, causing him to flush in embarrassment.
"There's no way I could learn French that quickly or pay for an American school," Harry complained.
"Well, I can't make you learn faster, Harry, but I'd be more than happy to pay for you to go wherever you want." Her blue-green eyes met his green eyes quite straight forward. "You would have to convince your family though."
"That is probably easier than you think. The further I am from them, the better." He gave a self-depreciating grin at that as he played with the edge of a piece of paper on the table.
That was when Colin Creavey came in through the portrait hole. "Oh, Harry! Professor Lockheart wants to go over tomorrows class enactment this evening." He handed him the letter from the professor.
"Fine." Harry did not look happy as he stood up.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sheila noted that one of the Lockheart portraits was watching them very closely from Lavender's homework pile. Under the cover of her own books she shot a confounding jinx on too pretty face on the back of the book. "Well, I'm going to have a walkabout," she said carefully. She then climbed the stairs to the girl's dorms. In their circular room, she opened and window and then leaped to a battlement. In moments she was disillusioned and keeping an eye through the DADA's window which she cracked open slightly.
Harry entered just a moment latter and looked around. Not seeing the professor around, he headed to the small little doorway up the short steps behind the professor's desk. He rapped on the door, only to be surprised when Lockhart opened the door.
"Harry my boy! Looking dashing. You've really cleaned up nicely," the puffed-up jaybird said. "I thought we'd re-enact how I defeated the vampire from my book." He gave his student a winning smile.
"Didn't we do that a few months ago?" he asked. Harry certainly did not feel like there was anything different with his appearance, though he had noticed some of the girls giving him more than a passing glance.
"We did, but I feel that we need to brush up before the end of the year and the final tests," Lockheart explained as he took his place in front of his desk. "A little bit of practice would not hurt."
Harry did not look convinced, but took up the place of the Eastern European vampire. He had a feeling any decent movie vampire would beat Lockhart and then drain him dry faster then Ron could eat a slice of pie, then gag at the smell of all the beauty care products he used.
Lockhart started to go into his explanation (with many points from his book) to the point where Harry was about to fall asleep with a glazed expression. That was when Lockhart tried to casually fit in a memory charm into his explanation. The Boy-Who-Lived skipped back about ten feet and to the side. But the very strange thing was the glowing bubble that had appeared to absorb the memory charm.
"You're a bit trickier than I thought," Lockhart admitted. "But your memories of that night really can't make it to the courtroom. So say goodbye to your memories-"
"Stupify!" Hermione and Sheila called out from two different directions. Hermione was at the doorway, while Sheila was sitting in a shadow under the windows.
Ron had slipped out of Harry's invisibility cloak next to Hermione but had been a moment too slow. He poked the insensate wizard with his wand. "He's still breathing."
Harry thought furiously. "So, Hermione..."
"Yes, Harry?" his muggle-born friend asked as she pulled her gaze away from the teacher.
"How about Salems next year? I'm sure that it would have to be better than two Defense teachers that keep trying kill or wipe my mind," he said seriously.
Ron looked at the professor for a long moment. "He's got a point."
"I'm in," Hermione finally said.
"We'll have to convince your parents to get permission," Sheila noted. "That probably won't be too hard for you, Hermione. But for Harry and Ron, that's going to take a lot of work."
"What are we going to do with Lockhart?" Ron asked as he flinched in realization. He was going to have to convince Mum to let him go abroad for school?
"We're taking him to Professor Dumbledore."
For all the good that did.
Harry was sitting on a bench in an uncomfortable room that had a rather large and ominous chair with actual manacles on it. Older, robed wizards filled the pews around the chair. He was seated in between Fred and George, with Arthur Weasley in his best suit on the first day of Easter Holiday.
A woman banged on a gavel. "This court will now come to order! Please bring in the accused."
Two Aurors in red uniform robes entered, escorting Lockhart between the two. Lockhart gave them all a winning smile.
"Professor Lockhart, you are accused of attempting to modify the memories of several students to cover up certain activities," the woman said, her expression quite fierce under her long white hair. "How do you plead?"
"Not guilty, madam! Unfortunately-"
"That is all we needed to hear, Lockhart. We would like to bring up the first witness. For the prosecution, Mr. Wilns, who would you call to the stand?" the judge called out.
A rotund man with only a few wisps of gray hair stood up from the front row. "I would call up Fred Weasley." He waited for the boy to come down to the witnesses' chair. "Now why don't you explain what happened the night that you came across the accused? In your own words, please."
"Well, George and I were up for a bit of fun. We're a bit light-hearted and into pranks, so we were out after curfew setting up a small prank," Fred started up a little nervously.
"What sort of prank?" the prosecutor asked, trying to hide a small wince.
"Oh, we were just making it so that everyone that came through the Slytherin Dorm entrance ended up with dark hair like our potions professor," he said quickly. "It only lasted a few days. It was all in his honor."
"As amusing as this is, Mr. Weasley, let us continue," the judge declared in a stern tone.
"Of course, your honor. So you were out pranking late?" the rotund wizard said to prod the conversation along.
Fred leaned forward in his seat. "Yes. We were almost caught by Mr. Filch, so had ended up on the same floor as the DADA classroom."
"Defense Against the Dark Arts, sorry. Now, there's a pretty hidey-hole there about twenty feet away from the entrance. We ducked in there and nearly stepped on Harry," the red-headed boy said with a quick nod.
"Could you identify Harry more clearly?" the judge called out.
"Sorry! Harry Potter. He's a friend of my little brother," he replied as he squirmed on the uncomfortable chair.
"So we were explaining our prank that we were going to set up when the door opened and Lockheart and a 7th year girl stepped out." He gulped here a bit. "She was gushing about him making her a woman. Honestly, I have no idea what the girls think of him." At the prosecutor's glare, he quickly got back on track. "He mentioned that he had tricked Filch onto our pranking, then distracted the girl by making it look like Filch was behind her. Then he hit her with a spell. Er, Obliviate, I think the incantation he said. He seemed to think it would make her think that she had a tryst with her old boyfriend and not him. Going on with something about not wanting to worry about child support?"
"And what happened then?" Mr. Wilns asked.
"Harry sent out the strongest stunner I'd ever seen, knocking out Lockheart before he could finish his spell. The girl mentioned that-"
"Your honor! Who is this girl?" a thin woman called out from the opposite side of the room, but still on the first row.
"Order! You will have your turn to cross examine the witness, Ms. Avirs," the judge called out.
Fred shrugged at that. "She doesn't want her name to get out. Afraid her family will disown her. But Lockhart was laid out and after a brief talk with the girl, we took Lockhart up to Professor McGonnagal."
"Very well. Your honor, I would like to call George Weasley up next," Wilns said to the judge, who nodded in agreement.
George's recount was almost identical, though he did go more into depth with the prank they were working. Then it was Harry's turn.
"Harry Potter, in your own words, describe that night in question," the judge directed, pointing at him with the gavel.
"I was restless that evening and could not sleep. I decided to go for a walk to try and work off some energy and then go back to bed. I ran into the twins- I mean Fred and George and we had all ducked into the same cubby near the Defense Against the Dark Arts." Harry gave him a worried look. "That was when the girl and Lockhart appeared at the door. Like, uh, Fred said, they had just had their encounter when Lockhart tricked her into turning around and started to modify her memory. That's when I realized what he was doing and hit him with a stunner to stop him. Then we talked to the girl who asked that we not mention who she was and then took Lockhart to Professor McGonnagal. I think she mentioned she had dual memories, as it didn't quite take."
"That does seem rather simple and straightforward. I don't think I have any questions for now, though I may call him back to the witness stand." The rotund lawyer sat back down.
The rake-thin and severe defense lawyer stood up. "Harry- You don't mind if I call you Harry, do you?" she asked in smooth tone.
"It might be better to keep this professional, ma'am," he replied cautiously.
She smiled thinly. "Of course, Mr. Potter. Now I understand that you have a reputation as a bit of a troublemaker," she asked in a silky smooth voice.
"I don't think so, ma'am. I've only ever lost a few house points from Professor Snape," he replied truthfully.
"I understand that you were involved with that beast Hagrid's dragon. Do you deny that?" Her gray eyes match her severe, pulled up hair-bun that looked like steel.
"So you are a troublemaker-"
"-as when I found out that he had it, my friends and I implored him to bring it to Dumbledore's attention. You don't 'just' win a dragon's egg at poker in a bar. It came across as fishy. Luckily Hagrid listened to us and did tell the headmaster. I understand that the upper year students got to actually see the baby dragon under a... waiver? I think that's what it is called."
Mr. Wilns called out, in a scathing good-natured tone, "Sounds like someone trying to keep other people out of trouble, Ms. Avirs, not a hooligan himself."
"Very well, Mr. Potter. How would you categorize Mr. and Mr. Weasley here? I do understand they are troublemakers. Love to pull pranks," Avirs said smoothly, changing her direction of attack.
"Only in good fun, ma'am," he replied instantly. "Nothing that will do more than injure your pride and maybe your hair. They also take their punishments without any complaint when they get caught. They do keep the school lively and interesting."
She did not look happy. "And what of Professor Quirrell's disappearance?"
"I'm not sure I follow, ma'am? Are you accusing me of attacking a professor?" Harry mind seemed to be running faster and faster, his tongue lending him a quick wit to play dumb. "I was just finishing my first year."
"No, no of course not. Though I understand you did get involved with a troll that got loose into the school and defeated it."
"More scared out of my mind. The only reason I was there was to let Hermione know that Professor Quirrell had spotted a troll in the dungeons. Sheila just did a trick to slip it up and then the professors arrived to bind it up in ropes," Harry said smootly.
"He dragged our little brother along, as it was his fault Hermione was crying in the bathroom," George called out helpfully from the back of the room.
"Your honor, Harry Potter is here as a witness, not as the accused," Wilns called out in a blustery tone.
Dumbledore slid into a seat to watch the proceedings. The Minister of Magic had cornered him about some unfinished business from last week, making him late.
"I was just trying to ascertain the character of this young hooligan-"
"Objection, your honor! The witness has quite shown a great character. His only fault that night being a bit of insomnia!" the fat prosecutor called out. "His grades are top notch... even in potions!"
"Objection sustained. Please keep your comments polite, Ms. Avirs, lest I seek a contempt of court for maligning the witnesses," the white-haired witch declared.
"Very well, your honor," the lawyer replied. "I would like to call Professor Gilderoy Lockhart."
Harry was shuffled back off to the witnesses bench as Lockheart took the stand, smiling widely.
Wilns stood up, walking over in the shuffling gait of the heavily overweight. "Professor Lockhart, we have heard three students that claimed you had a barely legal relationship with female student. How would you categorize the three?"
"Well, I thought I had found a kindred soul in Harry, as he's a very famous person. I thought that I would take him under my wing, teach him the ropes of being a public figure," the dashing-looking man said, sending a charming smile at the women of the court. He was wearing a light-yellow robe in quite a dashing fashion.
"Professor Lockhart, have you had any altercations with Mr. Potter?" Avirs asked, frustrated that time was being stolen away.
"I can't say he's been the easiest student, though I've tried to draw him into the re-enactments of how to deal with various dark creatures," the professor said in a sorrowful tone.
Wilns was reading a paper on his table. With a smile he stood up. "Professor Lockhart, it appears I have a new witness to bring to the stand."
"Excuse me? There are supposed to only be those three," the professor stammered.
"Well, actually, there was a fourth person. I do understand congratulations are in order," Wilns said with a hard gleam in his beetle-black eyes.
That was when a young woman stood up and tossed back the cowl of her robe, revealing the Slytherin girl that he had tricked.
Needless to say, Lockhart was convicted of the attack and will be paying for child support. After a six month stay in Azkaban.
Harry was met outside the Ministry of Magic (strange that they used a phone booth as an entrance.) He stepped to the corner when he heard her call out. Rain was starting to fall from the sky.
"Over here, Harry!" a bushy-haired girl called out, popping open the back door of a sedan, then sliding to the center of the back bench seat. The hiss of the rain was getting heavier.
"Mr. and Mrs. Granger, hello! Sheila too?" Harry asked.
"Of course. I was invited for Easter Holiday. Even if I'm not Christian, I don't mind an excuse to get away from school," Sheila explained.
"Not Christian? You aren't a Wiccan, are you?" Hermione's mother asked worriedly.
"Dodekatheon. The old Greek gods," she explained casually with a small grin. Not quite a lie.
"Have you had time to discuss going to Salems Academy?" Harry asked. "I think I'm dead set on it. Hogwarts is fine, but the Defense Professors keep attacking me."
"Convicted?" Sheila asked casually.
"Yes. How did you know who Elise Parkinson was? And convinced her to show up?" Harry asked. He had been suspicious about the timing.
"I had my eyes open and noticed which Slytherin was not down at the table that next day. And she was the first one to be removed. Lockhart is lucky that she was legally adult or he probably would have been a grease spot from the father's ire. At least he had a little common sense," Sheila said as she ticked off points on her fingers.
"You are definitely not going back to Hogwarts next year, Hermione," her father said as he glanced in the rear-view mirror. "Though I'm not sure that Salem's is the best place. Why not that French school?"
"We want to go in a group and Harry doesn't know any French at all. And actually, I think the further the better," Hermione said as they wended their way through traffic.
"I think we should ask Ron to try to convince his parents last," Sheila said unhappily. "I think they are going to be the most hide-bound on this issue."
"Well, that's enough for business. How about we stop for fish and chips on the way home?" Hermione's father asked.
They all decided that would be just great.
Other than a quick trip to Little Whinging, the end of term was fairly prosaic. They had rotating teachers for Defense Against the Dark Arts, as Lockhart was now enjoying time with the Dementors.
Ron complained bitterly about having to study for the upcoming end of term exams. Ginny would not have any of that and invoking the dread term 'Mother' and how upset she was with his last results.
"Study hard! That's right ickle-Ronnie-" Fred began from where he was working on one of their pranks.
"-and you won't be de-gnoming the garden like we did for a month," George replied, a wide smile telling everyone that they had not cared about their tests.
They were just walking down the stairs to main entrance way, which the Great Hall was just off of.
"Oh, it's Potter and his gang," Draco called out. He had Goyle and Crabbe with him. He gave them a long look. "A Malfoy is always courteous, even to his... foes. Thank you for providing that the books for the Defense Club."
"Yeah," the rotund and large Goyle said with a nod. "Even my father is pretty happy with my grades."
"You're very welcome," Sheila said with a nod.
Draco nodded back and then headed into the Great Hall and to the Slytherin table.
The last tests were a breeze for everyone but Ron, much to his annoyance, though he scored much better than he thought he could.
They had a prosaic trip back on the Hogwarts Express, reading, playing gobstones or wizarding chess. Ginny had joined her older brother and his friends, dragging her blonde-haired friend Luna Lovegood along. The girl's dreamy blue eyes seemed to study Harry, Hermione and Sheila the entire trip.
"You three are quite different," Luna said as the train approached the London end of the line. "Very otherworldly."
"I'm really the only 'other' worlder though," Sheila noted absently. "I'm impressed you can tell that by looks. You might have a touch of seer or prophetess."
"Really? I rather thought it was normal," the young Ravenclaw said as she blinked her watery eyes.
"It's normal someplace, I'm sure," Harry said with a laugh. "Ron, you have my phone number?"
"For the fellytone, right," the red-head said, earning him a slap to the back of the head from Hermione.
"Telephone, Ronald. I know you are smarter than that. I don't make fun of wizarding words," the Muggle-born girl said aggressively. She released a heavy sigh. "Work on your parents, won't you?"
"I will, I will," he promised as he led them out to Platform 9 and ¾s.
The Weasleys and the Grangers were all there, while the Dursleys were near the entrance, looking very uncomfortable.
"I'll see you in a few days, Harry," Sheila called out as she waved to him.
"Right!" he called back, lugging his trunk and owl cage with him.