August 27, 1944.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, East Wing.

Minerva McGonagall woke, more out of habit than from the buzzing of the vibrating pocket-watch beside her, before four. This part of the castle was a stuffy during summer, so it wasn't hard to abandon the warmth of her gently crinkled sheets and slide her feet onto the barely cool stone floor. She stretched her arms and back before quickly standing and flipping the sheets back into their flat, unwrinkled state, tucking the edges under the mattress. She knew that the House-Elves would be more than happy to take care of it, but making her bed was a habit, and Minerva did not easily break habits.

One final tug and the sheets were perfect. Swaying slightly as she tried to simultaneously walk and stretch her legs, Minerva set a copper kettle to boil using her wand, and quickly grabbed a tin of tea leaves, strainer, and mug and putting them together before pouring in the bubbling water and banishing the kettle back to a shelf. Breakfast, as always, wasn't until six; however evil generally didn't wait for the security to finish meals, which was why Minerva found herself up and ready for morning patrol- that and the fact that Moody had long since discovered she was naturally an early riser. She set the mug down and continued to the bathroom. After washing her face, brushing her teeth, and combing then pulling back her hair, she ventured back into the small "bedroom", a slightly blocked-off corner of the rest of the room, and pulled a set of work robes out of the wardrobe.

She stepped out of her nightdress and quickly slid the plain robes over her head. She frowned as she tugged at the material, wishing that they could be longer. Due to fabric cuts caused by the war, most newly made robes fell only two inches below the knee, if that. Wizards rarely robes at all, but often pants and a nice shirt with a light (or heavy, in the winter) cloak that came down to the length of women's robes. Minerva finally gave up on her brutally short robes, opting, as always, not to wear the 'leg make-up' that had come with the lack of nylons. She didn't have time for appearances, not when there was work that needed addressing. She grabbed her wand and walked out of her small quarters, greeted only by the empty hallways filled with morning air, cooler outside of the small room.

Nothing had changed about the castle itself, except for possibly the relocation of a few portraits and knights of armour, but those were always walking to different stations anyway. Minerva wasn't too certain that anything could be done to change the school. Nothing had been added to it in written history, with the exception of more efficient greenhouses and the hut that Dumbledore had requested be built for the boy who'd been expelled, Hagrid, but even those were on the grounds, and not strictly speaking parts of the castle.

Hallway after corridor after classroom after broom-closet, Hogwarts was quiet and empty. Even the ghosts seemed to be keeping out of sight. The only one that Minerva came across was the Bloody Baron, who nodded at her in a detached manner as they crossed paths. By six o'clock she had done a fairly thorough sweep of the most important parts of the castle, and nothing even remotely suspicious had shown up- just as she had expected. If anything was going to happen, it wouldn't until the students were here, when the most damage could be done; not to mention that, as she'd told Stephanie, the castle was filled with its own protections, as well as the ones Dumbledore and Dippet had set upon its boundaries. Maybe the aurors would be able to help in an attack, but Minerva was almost positive that they would not be the first ones to notice or react to what was happening, if it ever came to such a circumstance.
Reaching the end of a corridor, Minerva turned on her heel to go down to breakfast for another cup of tea, then start her more private job.

Albus Dumbledore walked down a wide corridor, nearing the Great Hall and highly anticipating breakfast. There was not much going on at the school, it being summer. He'd just finished his latest research paper, and the war had reached a quiet point, which was why for the first time in months he was able to concentrate, quite undisturbed, on breakfast. He did hope the house-elves would continue to send up an extra bowl of brown sugar with his porridge, as they had last year. In the back of his mind, the question of why there were no new developments in the wizarding or muggle worlds resonated.

It took him several seconds to realize that there was a figure ahead of him, and a few more to recognize her as Minerva McGonagall.

"Minerva!" he called out, and she turned stiffly, then smiled slightly and relaxed.

"Good morning, Albus," she replied, standing in place until he reached her with just a few of his long strides. He offered his arm to her with only a moment's hesitation. This was a back way to the Great Hall, and his was the only office around.

She accepted the gesture with a slightly longer moment of hesitation, one he could see clearly in her eyes without the slightest probing through Legilimancy.

"I expect you've been up a while," he commented, thinking of Alastor's paranoia. She nodded.

"Since three-fifty. Moody is very insistent about rounds." For a moment she pursed her lips, as if in thought, before continuing, "Actually, come to think of it, he's very insistent about everything."

Albus chuckled. "I daresay I've heard more than a few interesting things about Alastor over the past few years. He's a shoe-in for head of the department though, is he not?" He shot her a sideways look, one auburn eyebrow raised.

"Of course; he's brilliant, the best auror the Ministry's seen in ages, if ever. Sometimes I wonder, if it came down to he and Caterdily in a duel, who would win?" she responded. The conversation paused for a second, as both lapsed into thought, then looked at each other.

"Caterdily." They both smiled ruefully. Albus couldn't bring himself to respect the woman. She was brilliant, with an incredible amount of raw power, and ran the department better than anyone could have expected in the current situation, but she abused her powers and influence farther than he could find excusable. He found himself reminded of the saying "the end justifies the means", and wondering not for the first time if it did indeed.

Minerva was inexplicably quiet on the subject, and Albus wondered if she had similar feelings about the woman. He was about to ask when she abruptly stopped walking as they emerged at the top of the marble stairs.

"What's that?" She was using her free arm to point to the centre of the Entrance Hall, at a large, crumpled black mass. She quickly unwound her other arm from his, looking around nervously for a second, then hurried down the stairs. They reached the object at almost the same time, and rather anti-climactically; a quick 'Wingardium Leviosa" from Minerva levitated the object, showing it to be a thick and very wet cloak. Instantly visible on her face was a look that Albus could remember her giving immature students of every age more times than he could count. "Where did this even come from?" she asked, about to release the charm. However, Scrimgeour chose that moment to come in from the oak front doors in a light blue oxford and brown slacks, dry except for the ends of his rather volumous hair. Dumbledore watched Minerva raise a careful eyebrow at him.

"Thanks," he said, grabbing the cloak out of mid-air while running one hand through his hair and not bothering to cast a drying spell on either. Albus noted that it wouldn't be of much use anyway, the fabric was covered in mud to such an extent that even a fierce Tergio charm would not match up to a proper washing. "Morning, Min-" the man yawned widely, thin face becoming even thinner and more elongated, "-erva."

"Morning," she replied cooly, still looking at the now dripping cloak. "Will you be joining us for breakfast?"

"Yeah, I think Moody'll let me off for a few minutes. I have to give this," he shook the cloak a little, causing a great deal of soil and water to spill to the ground, "to a certain someone first, though." With that he walked off, leaving a trail of brown-tinged water along the length of the hall.

Stephanie DeMattos walked along a corridor, exhausted though it wasn't even mid-morning. Quinn Grindelwald was beside her, and it was he she was following and talking to in hope that he was on his way to breakfast. She was starving.

"I can't bloody believe him," she growled, thinking of all the things she'd currently like to do to Scrimgeour. Most involved large, occasionally sharp objects and a place where the sun didn't shine. "First he skips his shift so that I have to work double, and now he expects me to do his laundry?" She shook the cloak, generating a wet slopping noise.

"Damn the man," replied Quinn cheerfully, or at least absentmindedly. It was early and Stephanie didn't really know, nor did she particularly care. She just wanted to eat, warm up, and go to sleep for at least another two hours.

"You know, as much as I've enjoyed your company, I feel no inclination whatsoever to interact with someone who only offers sarcasm in return to another's remorse," she snapped back, surprising herself a bit. Normally she wasn't able to speak coherently with so little sleep. Quinn looked unbothered.

"Who said I was being sarcastic? I didn't say I was being sarcastic..." he looked at her quizzically. Stephanie narrowed her eyes at him.

"Sarcastic people usually don't. It's something close to the point of the matter."
"Fine, fine. I was being sarcastic, thank you Ms. Astute," he replied, heaving a fake pained sigh.

"What is that, some kind of superhero name? Captain Obvious sounds much better," she pointed out, ignoring the older man's dramatics. He nodded and raised his eyebrows.

"Certainly has potential. Anyway, though, you must admit you were the one to hide his cloak on the grounds in the middle of a storm," Quinn pointed out, quickly switching back to the subject of Scrimgeour.

"He's the one who faked sick so he could floo his girlfriend, knowing perfectly well I'd have to cover his shift!" denounced Stephanie, throwing her arms about so wildly that water and dirt from the cloak splashed everywhere.

"However... I'm out of arguments," Quinn quickly excused, seeing Stephanie's irate face and deciding he was sick of being sprayed with water. That had been at least the third time.

Stephanie hardly looked pacified. "Good. Because there is absolutely no bloody reason that Moody shouldn't fire him right here and now-"

"With the exception of the fact that you, DeMattos, are below Scrimgeour, and once again you, DeMattos, were the one to show immature temper, so you, DeMattos, are the one who would be sacked if any sacking were taking place!" The familiar voice of Alastor Moody joined the conversation as the stocky man came out of a side corridor to join the pair.

"Damn."

River LaBorde smiled as she ran a hand across the beautifully engraved desk in her new office. The airy room, located at the base of what she had been told was Ravenclaw tower, had come rather well-furnished. The curved tower walls were lined with bookshelves, interrupted only by, to the delight of the cold-natured woman, a large fireplace. Hanging above the mantle was a large portrait of an austere, dark-haired witch wearing an odd sort of tiara. An eagle sat proudly on her shoulder- or at least as proudly as it could with its head tucked under one wing as both inhabitants slept.

The woman's heavily lidded eyes cracked open and followed the professor's progress. The hawk did the same, occasionally ruffling its feathers or stopping to preen. River looked up from where her fingers were spread against the desk, and the portrait again pretended to be asleep, lifting a hand up to support her chin, elbow propped on the arm of her chair.

River smiled at the room for what had to be the hundredth time. The office, besides being larger than her previous two, was absolutely beautiful. She reached down into the trunk beside her and pulled out an armful of heavy, diversely bound books. The portrait again cracked one eye slightly, so as to study the titles. River had quickly unpacked her desk supplies using magic, but the books, as she knew from experience, would have to be taken care of by hand. A knock came from the door as she set the first of what would soon become many, many piles down on her desk.

"Come in!" she called, sizing the books up and determining where they would fit.

"Good morning, Professor." She recognized the voice of the headmaster, and turned from sliding a couple books into place on the shelf behind her.

"Good morning to you, Headmaster," she replied with a smile, sending the remainder of the books over to the first of the window-shelves before taking out another stack. "May I ask what brings you here?" He was completely calm and confident, just at ease as he'd been yesterday.

"Just checking in to see how you were getting along, and offer my assistance, if you have any use for it," he replied, hands clasped behind his back.
-and caring. He wasn't wearing a cloak today, and she couldn't help thinking he was rather handsome, in his white button-down and black trousers, before mentally correcting herself.

"Oh, thank you," she replied, again sending a few books at a time soaring to their places before digging out more from the vast, and obviously enchanted, trunk, "but this is nothing special, I think I can manage. You must have far more important things to do, anyway-" She shifted the piles on her desk slightly, knocking half the books off.

"Nonsense," he said, smiling warmly and kneeling to help her sort through the mess of texts. "Really, I don't have anything better to do that Nashita won't take care of, and you could clearly use a hand." He watched her expectantly, his brown eyes thoughtful as ever.

"If you insist," replied River, rolling her eyes at herself as she managed to knock over more books, "I would love your help. Are you always so insistent?"

"But of course," he replied, raising an eyebrow as he hoisted a large stack of charm encyclopedias off the floor. "It's in the job description." She laughed, and gestured to a shelf. He banished the books. "Also, feel free to call me Armando."

"Of course, Armando," she replied, clearing her desk before she could do any more damage. She flicked through an unlabeled book that she couldn't remember purchasing. She was having immense difficulty addressing the Headmaster by his first name- he was her superior, her boss, and much older than her. She wasn't used to having personal relationships with more than three or four of her fellow staff members, not to mention someone who outranked her by that much. Hogwarts was shockingly different. The faculty seemed more incorporated, and the Headmaster was incredibly friendly with everyone. She set the book down on the corner of the desk to deal with later, and turned to back to its innumerable brethren.

"So I see you read," commented Dippet, teasing. River smiled. The unnecessarily immense number of books she owned had earned her much ridicule not only in her years as a student, but also in her adult life.

"Just a bit," she replied. He laughed.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of; to be well-read is, more often than not, to be well-rounded. I'm the same way," he assured her. "Besides, it's nice to see books on these shelves again." Unnoticed to the two, the portrait nodded her earnest agreement.

"Oh?" River glanced waywardly at the portrait, which she could have sworn she saw move out of the corner of her eye. She couldn't imagine having such an office and not making use of the space.

"Yes, Galatea never had many books, I don't think he was patient enough to be an avid reader," explained Dippet, referring to Professor Galatea Merrithought, whose spot on the staff River had inherited. "These have been near-empty for eleven years."

"Whose office was it then?" She looked up at him from where she was lifting a few particularly heavy tomes from the trunk, curiosity piqued.

"Mine," he replied, smiling at the surprised look on her face.

"This was your office?" she knew he had just stated the fact, but it was still odd to think of him as anything other than the headmaster.

"Yes," he nodded, "before I became headmaster. It's supposed to be used by the head of Ravenclaw-" the identity of the woman above the fireplace became instantly apparent- "but Nashita wanted to keep the office that she has in the Astronomy tower, so it went to Galatea as the next-oldest, non-house head.

"I can't imagine why she wouldn't want this one," River confessed.

"She claims it has a better view." River could feel his eyes following her as she glanced out of the windows to the forest, lake, and mountains beyond their glass, her eyebrows arched. "Perhaps I should elaborate. She never specified, but I think she meant it had a better view of the Quidditch Pitch."

River still looked confused, and the corners of Armado's mouth twitched. "You'll see my point soon enough, I expect." The shelf behind River, as well as the first of the four near the windows, was now full. She looked at the trunk, then at the shelves for a second before reaching a decision.

"Well, I suppose now that the destinations are more limited, this'll be safe," she rationalized, stepping behind the trunk and waving her wand at the remaining books. They all rose and levitated to their places, though it took a great deal of banging and pushing for them to settle.

"I take it by your hesitation that you've had bad experiences with the banishing charm?" Dippet asked, eyebrow raised. River laughed hollowly.

"Yes, you could say that. You?" He nodded somewhat solemnly.

"When I was transferring my things from my office before this one. Ended up knocked out cold in the dungeons by a copy of One-Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi. Had a lump on the back of my head the size of an egg for a week," his face twisted in memory, and he absent-mindedly rubbed the back of his head. River bit back a laugh. She'd learned in a similar situation just how much getting hit by a 2 or more kilo book hurt, as well as how humiliating it was.

"Ouch. I'm sure Quinn throughly enjoyed that," she said instead. She'd spent several hours talking to the Charms professor the previous night, and he had told her endless stories, almost all of which seemed to center around the humiliation of anyone but himself.

Armando laughed, the sound echoing in the circular room. "That was before Quinn's years here, thank Merlin. You're quite right; if he did know I'd never hear the end of it. You won't mention anything, will you?" he asked.

"Not a word. You can trust me," she replied, meeting his eyes half over her gold-framed, square spectacles.

"I do," he answered simply, and after a second in which she looked a little surprised by the resonance of honesty in his answer, he pulled out a large, gold pocket watch and sighed. "Sadly, Nashita does not trust me. She wants to go over a few things before meeting with the governors this afternoon. I'm afraid I need to go."

"Naturally," she replied, hopefully keeping the small tinge of disappointment out of her smile. She found that she quite enjoyed his company. "Thank you for stopping by, and for your help. You saved the spines of many a book today."

"It was my pleasure," he replied, returning her smile. "Actually..." he hesitated, but only for a moment, "I enjoy knowing my staff as people, more than professionals. It's a great benefit of the job, and I quite regret that it was Albus who had the chance to interview you, and not myself. I'd like a chance to make it up to you, to get to know you as well as I do everyone else," Armando hesitated for another moment. "Would you care to join me for dinner or coffee, perhaps in Hogsmeade?"

She knew her smile got a little wider as she replied, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, "That would be wonderful!"

"Splendid!" Was it just her imagination, or did he look a bit relieved? "Governors' meetings tend to take longer than is strictly necessary...Does, say, seven thirty sound alright?"

"I don't exactly have any other plans," River pointed out, an idiotic smile still on her face. He laughed.

"Well then, it's a date. I really must be going now- I shall see you later, Professor LaBorde."

"River," she corrected him.

"Right. River." With one last smile he turned and strode out the door.

"Good day, Professor Dippet," River whispered to herself, letting out a long breath and kicking the desk behind her. Ten years of managing to keep work and play separate and she found herself making doe-eyes at her boss. Idiot. She spent another few minutes picking apart their conversation and mentally berating herself before straightening back up.

The last shelf hardly had anything on it, but she was certain that could be easily remedied after a few paychecks and research ideas. Speaking of which, she had a half-written paper on the cross-effects of combined defensive spells that needed touching up and finishing, her quarters needed to be unpacked, and she had barely even touched the second-term lesson plans for her fourth-through-seventh years.

"It's a DATE!" cried Stephanie, voice shrill with amusement as she cackled hysterically, finally fully awake after a short nap.

"No it's not," frowned LaBorde, staring at her as if she'd entirely missed the point- well, in River's eyes she probably had.

"A single man asks a single woman to dinner to," here Stephanie began to make finger quotes, "'Get to know her better.' That's a date," she explained slowly and sagely, as if she was talking to a four-year-old. River ignored her.

"It's work related, and therefore not a date. If it were a date, he wouldn't have mentioned the rest of the staff, or how well he knows them," replied River, gesturing rather sharply. Stephanie surveyed the long corridor they were in as she replied. "All I did was tell you why we couldn't have tea tonight, why are we even talking about this? I have work to do."

"No," Stephanie continued, completely ignoring River's protests. She drew out the word as if to emphasize her contradiction, "mentioning work and comparing your relationship to that of him and the rest of the staff gives him a clever ruse. He's asking you out on a date, but on a fake, work-related premise so that if you don't return his feelings, you'll never need to know he had them." On the last word, she lifted her wand from her side and jumped around a corner with it held up. After a second, however, her shoulders slumped and she began to walk again. "Just a suit of armor... could have sworn it was moving."

"It probably was. Minerva said they can walk," replied River, though her mind was clearly elsewhere.

"Right," muttered Stephanie. "Damn. Why didn't I remember that?" She was annoyed. Years of training had taught her mistakes and forgetting little facts or details cost lives, and the knowledge had made her (like the rest of the department) rather paranoid.

"It's a new place, new things, tons of new information. You're just strained," River reassured, sounding just as distant as before. Stephanie just stared ahead and grunted, still unsettled. "Anyway..." River's voice trailed off as the auror contemplated the fact she was getting to be just as insane as Madman. This could end badly.

"Right, we need to gossip about your date. Isn't the Headmaster just dreamy?" Stephanie had again stopped walking, this time to widen her eyes and wiggle her fingers dramatically in River's face when she turned to her. The Professor gave her a look generally reserved for supporters of the theory that Muggles evolved from toadstools, or fourth-year girls.

"Actually, I was thinking of how to fill a gap in the fourth-year lesson plans."

"Oh Merlin, here we go again with your I-can't-have-emotions-and-be-a-feminist shit, you should date McGonagall instead of Dippet, you two would get along just grand-"

"Stephanie, for the last time it is NOT a date! I don't even want to know what goes on in your mind so that you can twist-" River was ranting now, arms held out palms open in a way that clearly displayed her annoyance.

"Yes it is, and you're too sensitive to even try-" Stephanie interrupted, beyond exasperated.

"It's dinner! People have to eat, and some like company-" Stephanie ignored her condescending tone in favor of calling out to the tall, slim form coming down a staircase behind River.

"Oi, Minerva, Dippet asked River to dinner. That's a date, right?" The blonde woman closed her eyes and moaned before spinning around to face Minerva. She opened her mouth, clearly about to again correct the situation, but after a second shut it and waited for Minerva to speak.

Her forhead crinkled slightly as thin eyebrows pulled inwards. "Of course not, that's ludicrous. He's the Headmaster, for Merlin's sake, it'd be completely inappropriate," she replied, giving them both a look that implied the very idea was ridiculous.

"Thank you!" cried River, turning back to Stephanie. "See?"

"No," she answered plainly, still paying attention to the other auror. "He asked her to Hogsmeade, not his office or anywhere in the castle- AND he's trying to get out of a governor's meeting early for it," she further explained in a way that indicated this made a world of difference.

"He never said that," corrected River, not bothering to start arguing with Stephanie again but instead looking at Minerva. "She's insane, just ignore her-"

"Trust me, I try," the dark-haired woman assured, raising her eyebrows at the unfazed brunette across from her. She didn't care in the least.

"It was implied, River here's just too thick to notice-" Stephanie saw the woman beside her's wand arm twitch before she repeated the theory she'd used as a quickly dismissed argument earlier. Minerva looked no more convinced than River had.

"Dippet's inhumanly honest, and I don't think he has a single manipulative bone in his body." Minerva shook her head. "Sorry to disappoint you, but Professor LaBorde's right."

"River," LaBorde muttered in correction, and McGonagall nodded. DeMattos was still quite entirely unconvinced, but stopped arguing, deciding it would be easier to make her friend see the truth after the event in question had happened anyway.

"Right. Well, have either of you seen Al-Professor Dumbledore?" continued Minerva crisply.

River shook her head 'no' as Stephanie replied, "Yes, he was walking over by..." she gestured hopelessly. "A floor up from the staff room, there's a big statue-"

"His classroom," nodded the other auror, finally descending the last few steps on the staircase and heading that direction. "Thank you."

"Wait," instructed Stephanie, and Minerva stopped and peered back over her shoulder, again raising her eyebrows, "what's that?" She gestured to the thick velum folder the woman was holding in her long fingers.

"What, you think Moody would actually do his own paperwork?" she by way of reply, flicking open the folder and holding it up to reveal many sheaves of parchment. Stephanie winced and stepped back as if it were a rabid animal. "I suppose I'll end up doing yours too," Minerva added, rolling her eyes.

"Who, me?" Stephanie put on a look of pure innocence. "Why, they never give me paperwork, just this hideous wallpaper. If I've told them once, I've told them a thousand times: I don't want it! The handwriting is so seventeenth-century..." she trailed off as Minerva continued to walk down the hall, and turned back to River, who was being unusually reserved. "I still think it's a date, you know."

"For some odd reason I figured you would. But..." she sighed and dropped the sarcasm. "That's not even really the point."

"Then what is?" asked Stephanie, now a bit more genuinely interested. River shook her head. "What?"

"If I tell you, you'll laugh and spend the rest of the day, if not my life, tormenting about it, forcing me to stay up at night wondering why the hell we're friends in the first place," answered River truthfully. Stephanie couldn't help laughing a little.

"Yeah, well you know you love me and you'll tell me eventually," she smirked. River's often self-inflicted solitude left Stephanie as her only outlet for close contact.

"What if I want it to be a date? It's been a while, this is a fresh start, maybe I should try to be more involved." she asked after a moment's silence, not expecting a coherent response. Surprisingly, one came after a second's stunned silence.

"You're serious?" River looked at the woman, whom she'd expected to be in fits of hysterics by now, and nodded. After another silent pause, she burst into laughter as the Professor walked away.

Minerva reached her mentor's classroom and knocked on the door. There was no reply. She briefly considered going on to his office, but decided instead to check the room first. She cracked the door, revealing a room as familiar as the back of her hand. The only differences the years had made were a few new tomes on the bookcase in a corner, and the contents of the small crystal candy bowl on Albus' desk. The bits of red licorice, chocolate buttons, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, and all the other candies that she could remember being offered as a reward for both good answers and successful spells in the class had been replaced by something wrapped in a chocolate brown wrapper edged in white that read 'Tootsie Roll'. She thought for a moment before slowly reaching to pick one up. Albus' taste in candy was dubious, at best, and she didn't much care for anything very sweet. These, however, appeared to be Muggle. She unwrapped the small candy by pulling at its edges and dropped the wrapper into the rubbish bin before popping the brown cylinder into her mouth.

It wasn't terrible at all, she thought, just a bit too hard to chew. Again her eyes swept the classroom, this time coming to rest on the front-and-center desk that she'd sat in for every lesson for seven years. Sitting on top of it was what appeared to be a magazine and a scrap piece of parchment.

Curiosity getting the better of her, Minerva walked over to it, and was shocked to see her name before smiling.

Minerva,
I've gone to Diagon Alley to pick up a package at Flourish and Blotts, and won't be back until dinner. I would enjoy a chance to speak to you afterwords, in my office if you're free.
Yours,
Albus

She smiled as she traced a finger over his large, loopy signature. The note wasn't much, something she'd normally throw away, yet she slipped it into her pocket before turning to the magazine.

It was a copy of Challenges in Charming. Three articles were featured on the plain cover: a piece on easing the after-effects of memory charms by Barnaby Lockhart, a rather intriguing argument written on the advantages of charms over transfiguration in dueling by who the journal referred to as 'dueling champion' F. Flitwick, and finally a portable, weather-proof shield charm developed by Professor J. Q. Grindelwald.

Minerva frowned at it, wondering briefly what the Professor's real first name was before rolling it up to read later. For now she needed to get an owl to Caterdily. The idea of tracking Albus was no more appealing than it had been when she'd been assigned the task, but no doubt the head of the department would find out Albus was in London, and if the news didn't come from Minerva Caterdily would flay her alive. She headed up to the owlery, taking a small amount of the comfort in the fact that if the man was doing anything other than what his note said he'd easily be able to spot and knock out just about anyone following him.

A/N: Thank you all so much for the wonderful reviews. It makes my day every time that I get one! The next chapter may be up late, because in two days I am moving to NEW YORK CITY to start college at NYU! So I will be spending time exploring the city, going to orientation events, crying because I miss my cats, not sleeping, and attempting to set up house in my little Fifth Avenue room.

I've had some fabulous questions about the story and the characters and am so happy that you are all reading this so deeply and thoughtfully! As John Green says, books belong to their readers- which is why this fanfic can exist in the first place- so it makes me so happy to hear everyone's interpretations and predictions. Here are a few odds and ends of pointless backstory for y'all to enjoy:

Insider is, among other things, an exploration of a wizarding world worried that its time is ending. The muggle integration is all very carefully calculated. From the Victorian times, a big hit with wizards across Europe and a great influence in a more trusting attitude towards muggles, the two societies began to move more in synch than they ever had before.

World War I was a huge war both in the muggle and wizard world, often in ways intertwined. Never having experienced a war of this magnitude and with poor strategy, the European wizarding communities were decimated. Close to an entire generation of wizards and witches were lost, leaving the kind of age gaps you can see in the Hogwarts staff- where there are very few in the age group of Armando and Albus (Horace would be it, actually. Vigo enlisted illegally, he was far too young and undertrained- if he wasn't a Black with endless resources and a family no one wanted to tell that their son had died, he wouldn't have made it. Hunter is a woman, and as such wasn't drafted. She did volunteer as a nurse for a while, but lack of any sort of bedside manner made her unpopular.) After that, similar cultures became necessary- half the industry that had formerly been there was gone, and the population outlooks were bleak. Hiding was harder. When WWII rolled around, the wizarding people avoided it at all costs, hiding from the truth- until it was almost too late. This is their story

I picture Caterdilly as a kind of cross (face-wise) between Eva Mendez and Olivia Wilde in structure, not so much beauty. She has that strong jaw and just the general...commanding looks. I forget if I mentioned it or not, but she has Latina skin (she's from Spain). Minerva is, at this point, the sole member of the squad to even attempt to keep Caterdily out of her head. She doesn't try to get into Moody's anymore, he doesn't block her but nothing makes since in there anyway... She smokes like a chimney when no-one's around, and occasionally when they are. She started after a particularly nasty break-up, after which she swore off men and picked up a pack of cigarettes instead... Incidentally, the same brand her former lover had used. They were more dependable, at least until war rations came along. Luckily, she can bully her way out of silly things like rations. Or anything, really. Just in case you didn't catch it, the mirrors were so she could make eye contact from anywhere in the room, so bam! Legilimancy. She is the only person in the auror force and one of only a handful in the Ministry who is an accomplished Legilimans. Surprisingly, her knowledge of Occlumency is only basic- perhaps since so few people are capable of its counterpart. As you can see, the squad seriously doubts her ethics, but they respect her in a sort of scared-shitless way- except for Moody and Minerva. Minerva finds her power and the extent to which she'll abuse it more than a bit unnerving, but won't back down. Moody just doesn't care, he's here to do a job and office politics don't factor into that very much.

The mention of River's relatives being medically-inclined is actually true in real life, since the 1600s the LaBordes have been famous for being a family of doctors in France and Louisiana.

Nashita is my favourite OC and one of my first characters ever.

Armando's looks are totally a cross between those of Humphrey Bogart and Christopher Plummer from The Sound of Music. In addition, I have an excuse for him being young– so, in the pensive Harry saw him as Tom did- fragile, weak, and essentially old. As for the portrait, Harry has all ready seen him this way and we normally see what we expect and know, not what is really there. Haha shuddup, all of you that are laughing. It made quite a lot of sense when I came up with it, a couple (read: almost nine) years ago. Also I am ignoring the movie-cannon that he is over 300 because that makes very little sense.

Albus is 6...3? I think, which is actually canon from before JKR changed his age. Judging by Armando being five years younger, he's 58, and only needs to wear glasses when reading. Ages are fuzzy here, though. There is still a definitive age difference between Albus and Minerva, but the Chamber of Secrets' first opening has been pushed back in time a bit- to before the war, at least.

Damian Prewett is Molly, Fabian, and Gideon's dad. Ignatius Prewett, who's on the Black Family Tree, is his older brother, who already has kids at Hogwarts.
Quinn is Gellert's niece, Vigo is Gemini's (you'll meet her soon) uncle, who was burned off of the Tree for reasons, Henry Abercrombe is related to a kid who was randomly mentioned somewhere in the series, and there's lots of others once we meet the students- well, assuming I can find my naming charts. Otherwise, I'll have to start from scratch.

Leona was, as far as I can remember, my first character developed completely unrelated to Harry Potter. Her personality is, I think, a bit different in this story, but then again, so is Nashita's.

See y'all again soon!