Dumbledore looked up from the letter he was writing and smiled as Professor McGonagall walked into his office.
"Minerva, how good to see you," Dumbledore replied, setting down his quill and smiling at his colleague.
In response, Minerva offered back a thin smile. "I was just coming to see if there were any last minute projects for me to finish before I leave."
"How long will you be gone again, Minerva?" Dumbledore asked, trying to make conversation.
"Until the middle of July I suppose, perhaps later. I will be in sometime before then to assure that the letters are sent out."
"Any plans for the holidays?" Dumbledore asked as he folded his hands atop his desk.
Minerva shook her head. "I haven't made any firm commitments yet." She stood up to leave, but then thought better of it and returned to her seat. "Were they ever able to located the Golden Serpent?" she asked, staring at Dumbledore.
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "Well, Minerva, I've never known you to be so interested in my work. I think that's the fifth time you've asked me that since the end of term," Dumbledore laughed.
"I am interested," Minerva replied in a low voice, showing that she didn't find her questions amusing.
"Yes, Sirius located it. It's been destroyed, without the Minister's knowledge of course. Fudge would be ever so angry if we destroyed what he calls 'a brilliant artifact from our ancient past.'"
"Yes, I suppose he would," Minerva replied, nodding her head.
"I had told Fudge time after time that housing such an artifact was far too large of a risk for the Ministry to take, but does he ever listen?"
"I am beginning to lose faith in him as a Minister. I'm afraid he may be our downfall," Minerva said, her voice softer than usual.
Dumbledore stared at her with a grave expression, and Minerva knew even before he spoke that he agreed. "If we're not careful, he will be."
"Look at this!" Adrienne cried, jumping off the couch and tearing into Mia and Joe's bedroom. Mia looked up from her magazine in annoyance.
"What is it now?" she asked, raising an eyebrow and sitting up in her bed. "It's eleven at night, Adrienne."
With a flying leap, Adrienne jumped onto the turned down bed, sliding into Mia, who yelped.
"Quit it," Mia said, pushing Adrienne off her legs. "Honestly, I told you that you could sleep on the couch, but really Adrienne, that entails sleeping."
Adrienne just waved an impatient hand and raised her other into the air, exposing a crumpled envelope.
"You know what this is?" she asked, waiving it rapidly before Mia's face.
"No," Mia replied, reaching up to grab it, but Adrienne pulled her hand back.
"This, Professor Hartel, is a miracle," Adrienne said with a sly grin.
"Oh, you finally opened your grade report?" Mia laughed.
"And you know what?" Adrienne whispered, leaning in close to Mia as if she were about to tell her some forbidden secret.
"What?" Mia whispered in return, trying extremely hard not to giggle.
"I passed!" Adrienne shouted, jumping up and bouncing around the bed. "I passed! I passed! I passed!" She sang, as she began to wave the letter at Mia again.
Mia smiled. "Always knew you could," she paused for a second, "wait, you mean even Transfiguration?"
"Yup," Adrienne nodded, and then pointed at the paper. "McGonagall's even wrote me a note, shall I read it to you?" she asked, and then without waiting for an answer began reciting from McGonagall's perfect penmanship.
"Miss Miles, I am pleased to inform you that you have been promoted to the sixth year of Transfiguration studies. I have enclosed a separate packet for you to review during your holiday, so perhaps next year your promotion will not be because of a sole percentage point." Adrienne's face fell at this. "You see that? She gave me extra homework!"
"And you'll do it all," Mia said sternly.
"And I even opened my O.W.L. grades," Adrienne said with an air of importance, trying to change the subject.
"Your what?" Mia asked.
"My O.W.L. grades," Adrienne repeated, her tone indicating that she too didn't know the meaning. "Hermione knows what it stands for... Old Wizards something or other, or Only Witches Learn… who knows, but I got my grades."
Adrienne stopped talking and started pacing the bed. "Guess," she ordered.
"You passed the tests?" Mia asked.
"Five! I passed five!" Adrienne exclaimed, puffing out her chest in pride. "Dueling and Defense were my best scores though. We didn't even have a Defense review because Professor Wallace…" Adrienne paused and collapsed into a sitting position, "she's dead," Adrienne continued in a whisper.
Mia groaned and raised a hand to her forehead. "We need to work on this," she murmured to herself. "Well I'm proud of you," Mia replied, lowering her hand.
"Hermione earned 12 O.W.Ls; Harry, 9; and Ron, 7," Adrienne continued, crawling over to sit next to Mia. "Where's Professor Glenn?"
Mia shrugged her shoulders. "He said he was hungry. So, when's Harry coming?"
Adrienne stared at a picture on the far wall. Mia and Joe smiled back at her, Mia holding Joe's hand, her other hand holding the side of her wedding dress.
"Sometime after this weekend; Ron's dad is arranging a port-key I think."
"You better finish that Transfiguration assignment by then," Mia chastised, turning back to her magazine.
The two sat in silence, Adrienne staring at the wedding picture, her mind drifting to the coming school term and beginning to plan what drills she'd use for her League team, Mia reading up on the new events taking place at the International Dueling Championship. It wasn't until the clock struck midnight that anyone spoke again.
"Are you ever going to have kids, Professor Hartel?" Adrienne asked suddenly.
Mia stared at her magazine for several seconds, and then she slowly lowered it to find that a pair of green eyes were staring directly at her.
"Are you?" Adrienne asked again.
"I already have tons of kids - "
"Salem doesn't count. I mean real kids," Adrienne pressed. She was lying on her stomach, her hands holding up her chin.
"Well, I do have to watch over you, and you kind of take up all my spare time. How could I have any kids anyway, Adrienne, you're in my bedroom during all hours of the night," Mia said, smiling sarcastically.
"Only tonight I am, and Professor Glenn is off sneaking food. If that's how you spend your nights, alone while he bribes the House Elves, then you really need to reevaluate your plans," Adrienne said matter-of-factly.
"This is not the sort of conversation I want to be having right now, especially not with you," Mia replied, her voice short.
"Fine, but there is a potion, it was in one of Hermione's extra textbooks when I was searching her things to see if Harry had written her any love letters. It increases fertility."
"Out!" Mia exclaimed, pointing a finger at the door.
"Just trying to be helpful," Adrienne grumbled as she rolled off the bed, leaving her grade report on the nightstand. "That's for Professor Glenn to see when he comes back."
"I'll make sure to show him," Mia replied, her lips pressed uncharacteristically tight.
"But, if you have a better way to spend your night, forget my letter until later."
"Adrienne!" There was a thud as a pillow hit the door that Adrienne had just slammed shut behind herself.
"Just an innocent suggestion," Adrienne answered, as she inched the door back open. "Sleep tight, Professor!"
"Stupid time change," Adrienne muttered as she wandered through the dark castle. She had made the mistake of sleeping whenever, which accounted for why she was wide-awake at midnight.
Adrienne passed the entrance to the Cafeteria, but the lights were off, indicating that Professor Glenn had finished his midnight snack. Adrienne contemplated going to find some ice cream, but then remembered that the House Elves still weren't too fond of her. She instead continued to wander through the dark castle, her wand lighting the way.
She had wandered for several minutes when she decided that there was only one thing worth doing at midnight: Sneaking into the library to find that potion recipe.
"I'll just slip the instructions under their door one day," Adrienne muttered, raising a hand to stifle her giggles.
She hung a sharp left and headed for the South Wing. It was the largest wing in the castle, and held the huge Salem Library, among other important details of the school.
The soft click of Adrienne's shoes against marble came to a halt as she reached the entrance… a large set of double doors, that were always locked at night, for reasons that had never been explained to Adrienne.
"They think they can just lock me out?" Adrienne whispered, slightly abashed. " Ha! Nox!"
The corridor plunged into darkness, except for the faint glow of the moon filtering in through the window.
"Alohomora!" Adrienne ordered, flicking her wand at the doors.
"Still locked? Tricky," she muttered as she withdrew her hand from the locked doors. "But they'll have to do better than that." Adrienne again raised her wand.
The ensuing blast could be heard as far away as the Gallows, and the quiver woke the entire castle. So, in increasing entropy, wands drawn and followed by sleepy yells of "we're under attack," echoing through the castle, the professors made a mad rush toward the source of the sound.
"What did you do!" Professor Bell screamed as she, leading the pack, skidded to a halt in the corridor leading to the South Wing.
Adrienne was sitting in a crumpled heap, surrounded by pieces of wood and stone. Before her the glittering of the stars shown into the corridor. On the ground, a sunken pile of debris lay, filling the dungeons to where it was level with the ground. The entire South Wing was gone, and the end of the corridor now opened to the heavens.
"Adrienne!" this time Mia shouted as she entered, last, into the corridor.
"All I tried to do was open the door," Adrienne mumbled, reaching up to brush the dust from her face.
The professors stared dumfounded at the open land that was once the large, five storied South Wing.
"I'm getting too old for this," Professor Bell and Mia muttered at the same time, not even bothering to ask if Adrienne was all right.
"Well," Adrienne murmured as she stood up and sheepishly looked at Mia, "maybe Hermione could bring that potion recipe for you."
Mia screamed in fury and then fainted, falling into her very confused husband's arms.
"Wormtail!" Voldemort's screams of fury echoed through his chamber. "Wormtail!"
There was a shuffle of feet, and the short man appeared, panting, in the doorway.
"I don't understand it!" Voldemort screamed, pointing to the crystal ball in which he had just watched Adrienne's latest disaster, "How did someone like her escape?"
"I believe, My Lord, she blew up the judiciary center," Wormtail stuttered, staring at the floor.
"I know that, you fool!" Voldemort screamed, throwing his crystal ball at the wall. It shattered as Wormtail shuddered.
"Unbelievable luck maybe?" Wormtail whispered, changing his answer.
Voldemort sank back in his chair, his red eyes flashing.
"Well, both their luck is about to run out," he whispered.
Wormtail stared at his master, trembling as Voldemort began to smile a wicked grin.
"You, you have a new plan then, My Lord?" Wormtail asked, although he knew the answer.
Voldemort turned to stare at him with his red eyes. Wormtail took an involuntary step backwards, almost as if Voldemort's icy glare had pushed him.
"A new plan?" Voldemort asked in a dead whisper. He laughed. The cold, piercing laughter preceded to echo through the room, long after he had stopped. "A new plan I indeed have, Wormtail. Harry Potter won't stand a chance. I'll steal his entire world from right under him."
"And what about his sister?" Wormtail asked, wondering if he really wanted to know. He always dreamed about Voldemort's plans while he slept, which was the reason Wormtail avoided sleep when at all possible.
"Adrienne? With her brother out of the way, there'll be no one to protect her. We'll leave her for later; she poses no threat, now that we know her Perfect powers will remain locked within her."
"And what if they don't? What happens if she suddenly learns how to use them?" Wormtail asked, his voice suddenly bolder, telling himself that Voldemort must have overlooked this: That had to be the only explanation for why he wasn't worried that in theory, the girl had unlimited magical potential.
"What if I suddenly embrace Dumbledore as my brother?" Voldemort asked with a sneer. "She will remain unable to harness her powers. That will never change."
Wormtail decided not to respond to this. "So, what's the new plan?" he asked as casually has he could.
"Tsk. Tsk. Tsk," Voldemort hissed, shaking his finger at him as if Wormtail were no more than a toddler. "That, Wormtail, is a surprise. I would recommend that you sit back and enjoy the show. There is a thin line that divides mere genius from insanity. Some argue that I'm insane, Wormtail. But I argue I'm not, for the remarkable ability to create from nothing is a characteristic of a genius, and I, Wormtail, am about to create the largest conspiracy the wizarding world has ever seen. And Harry Potter will witness it first hand."