Ok, wow! The last chapter really divided the audience, as it was meant to. Some people loved the twist, but others really hated it, with very little middle-ground.
Some say it was out of character for Harry to drink the potion on his bedside table. To you I suggest you read the chapter again and think what could possibly have caused him to do that.
Some say that Dumbledore was acting out of character. To you I merely direct you attention to the first part of the review left by Corin Wolfkin, who really hit the nail on the head regarding Dumbledore's behaviour.
There was some question about the number of students leaving the hall, but I will point out that only three Gryffindor sixth years and seven Hufflepuff fifth years actually got up and left the hall. Everyone else did not make it to the hall, therefore there was no mass exodus. Also the events took place on a Sunday when there were no classes, allowing for a longer breakfast period, making it more difficult for teachers to notice whether a student did have breakfast or not as they could have come in for ten minutes at any time over a three-hour period.
Also some people have promised to abandon the story should this situation not be solved in this next chapter. Sorry, but I'm not going to rush this for anyone. By no means will I drag it out, but it will go on for as long as needed. I will state here and now that things get worse in this chapter, but it will end on a faint glimmer of hope!
Anyway, on with the show!
Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor
Chapter 25: The Best Laid Plans of Albus Dumbledore: Part 2
From the last chapter:
It was a long time before anyone spoke again. Finally it was Bianca who broke the silence "You know, if we had a way to get to Hogsmeade, I'm sure we could make use of an owl in the Post Office."
"But even if we get to Hogsmeade we risk being caught there," said Padma.
"You're both technically right," said Katie "If we can get an owl and take it beyond the range of anyone watching, we can get the note through."
"That's all very well and good," said Geoffrey "But how are we supposed to smuggle an owl far enough out of Hogwarts without getting caught?"
Silence fell again until, at last, Neville spoke "Harry has a map that could help us…"
"A map?" asked Susan "what map?"
"It's some kind of magical map of Hogwarts," replied Neville "I've never really got a good look at it, but I know that Harry usually takes it with him when he is trying to avoid people."
"If he uses it to avoid people then they must show up on the map," commented Tracey.
"I assume so," said Neville "but as I said, I haven't had a good look at the map."
"If it can help us sneak an owl out of Hogwarts then we need to get it," said Hannah "Where does Harry keep this map?"
"Usually in his trunk, I think," answered Neville.
"And Harry's trunk is in his private rooms," added Susan "which is a problem as I, for one, have no idea where those rooms actually are."
"Anyone?" asked Padma.
No one answered.
"Well that's just great." muttered Ernie.
"Looks like we'll have to do this without the map then," said Hannah "Anyone know a way to get out of the castle without being seen?"
"Fred and George might know a way," offered Katie "They're always sneaking off and coming back with bottles of butterbeer and packs of fizzing whizbees. They must get it from somewhere."
"The Weasleys are the biggest bunch of Dumbledore-lovers you'll find anywhere," said Daphne "Are you sure that the twins could be trusted with something like this?"
"We don't have to tell them what's in the letter," replied Katie "Just tell them that it needs to be sent. They'll get a kick out of the challenge."
"I don't know," said Kenneth Towler with a doubtful tone "I'm in the same year as the twins and they don't seem like they're very reliable."
Tamsin Applebee, his year-mate agreed with the sentiment "Fred and George like to have a laugh, but they're not beyond blackmailing people in order to get what they want. What happens if they decide to open the letter before sending it in the hopes that they'll get something good on someone?"
"Do we have any other option?" asked Patricia Stimpson.
"How about we charm the envelope so that only one person can open it?" suggested Roger Davies.
"Now there's a good idea," said Marcus Belby "Susan, if we key it to you then only you or someone related to you can open the letter."
Susan nodded her head and replied "Ok. I'll write the letter. Katie, Bianca, you two go and talk to Fred and George, find out if they're up for a trip outside the castle tonight."
"What if they demand further explanation?" asked Bianca.
"We'll just say that the letter is about women's problems and they'll ask no more," answered Katie
"Oh bloody hell!" exclaimed Roger suddenly "I've just remembered, as Head Boy and Girl, Patricia and I have a meeting with Dumbledore tonight."
"Good," said Hannah "at least we know that Dumbledore will be occupied at that time."
Susan nodded before adding "If we're going to have Fred and George avoid Hogsmeade then we still need to obtain an owl."
"I'll do it," said Neville
"I'll go with you," offered Hannah.
"Just out of interest," said Pansy "why not contact Professor Umbridge? She's reporting to the Ministry, isn't she?"
"True," said Hannah "but you'll have to find out where she is. She wasn't at breakfast."
"Dumbledore's probably making sure she stays out of the way while he carries out his plan," said Bianca.
"Are we certain that Dumbledore is the one behind this?" asked Anthony Goldstein.
"Who else has enough influence in this castle to dose all the students with potions?" asked Padma.
"Dumbledore should be checked for wrackspurts." commented Luna.
"For what?" asked Nigel Wolpert.
"Wrackspurts," replied Luna "They're invisible creatures that float around your head and make your brain go all fuzzy."
No one said anything as they all gaped at her.
Finally Susan shook her head before saying "Right, if you've got something to do then move out."
"And the rest of us?" asked Colin.
"Stay here," replied Susan "Stay out of the way and don't get caught."
"I'm telling you mate," said Ron Weasley as he and his best friend Harry Potter walked through the Transfiguration Courtyard carrying their brooms "The Cannons are sure to finish top of the league this year."
"Not likely," said Harry "its Puddlemere United's year to grab the cup. By the way, when did you get that broom?"
"Oh, mum got it for me as a reward for becoming a prefect," replied Ron "It's no Firebolt, but a Cleansweep Eleven is good enough for a keeper."
"Kind of expensive as well," observed Harry.
"Yeah. I guess Dad will have to work a bit of overtime to pay it off, but it'll be worth it when I make starting keeper for the Chudley Cannons."
Not too far away stood Hannah Abbott, whose eyes were shooting daggers at Ron's back. "I bet I know where the money for that broom came from," she muttered under her breath.
"Hannah?" asked Neville in a quiet voice.
She shook her head and led Neville off in the opposite direction to Harry and Ron, saying "Come on, the sooner this mess is sorted out the better off everyone will be."
They soon made it to the owlery and took a look around.
"Hannah, how to we take one of these owls into the castle?" asked Neville.
"Just stun one," replied Hannah as she reached into her pocket and took out a piece of parchment, an envelope and a self-inking quill.
"What are you doing?" asked Neville.
"Just checking something," said Hannah as she put the quill to the parchment and wrote
Hi mum. Just a note to say hi.
The first week back has been ok so far, though the teachers are definitely piling the homework on this year. I've always wondered why it's called homework, as we don't actually do it at home.
Justin says it's impossible to use up six feet of parchment when writing about bubble-head charms and I am inclined to agree. I've written four feet and eight inches and there is literally nothing more to say on the subject. Maybe I should make my handwriting bigger.
Saturday afternoon was fun. We all went outside and sat by the lake for lunch and stayed there for the rest of the day. We had a great time and it's unfortunate that we'll probably have to wait until May before we can do something like that again, as the sun will probably disappear behind a cloud and not be seen again for eight months.
Anyway that's all for now. I'll write to you again soon.
Hannah folded up the parchment, placed it into the envelope and wrote her mother's name on it. She then called down a tawny owl and attached the letter to its leg before letting it fly off.
"And what exactly are you checking?" asked Neville.
"Just watch," said Hannah.
They watched as the tawny owl flew over the grounds and towards the gates of the school ground. A moment after it soared over the gates there was an unmistakable flash of red light. By that point it had been difficult to make out the owl, but there was no doubt in either of their minds as to what had just happened.
"They are watching for owls," muttered Neville.
Hannah nodded before turning around, drawing her wand as she did so, and firing a stunning spell of her own.
A little Eurasian scops owl slumped on his perch.
"Seems a little small, don't you think?" asked Neville.
"Easier to carry about unnoticed," replied Hannah as she scooped up the small owl.
After two hours of searching, Katie and Bianca were at a loss. Fred and George Weasley were nowhere to be found. They had not been in the Gryffindor Common Room, or in their dormitory. They had not been near the kitchens, or down to the Quidditch Pitch. They were not out on the grounds or wandering through the corridors.
Angelina, Alicia, Lee and everyone else that they had asked all stated that they had not seen either of the twins since breakfast. This was not an especially unusual occurrence as Hogwarts castle was rather big and its current population was rather smaller than what the place could potentially hold.
It was, however, rather frustrating that they didn't have so much as a hair to go on.
"Well," said Katie "guess we'd better go back to the common room and begin there again."
"How about checking in there?" asked Bianca, pointing to an open door to their right.
Katie looked around and saw that it was the entrance to the library. She turned back to Bianca and the two of them broke out into a fit of loud giggles.
They were interrupted by an annoyed voice calling out through the open library door "Do you mind? Some of us are trying to read in here!"
The two girls' giggles broke off at once and they entered the library. There, sitting on the table nearest the door on the left hand side were Fred and George Weasley.
"Holy crap, you are actually studying!" exclaimed Katie.
"We certainly are," replied Fred, not looking up from the heavy tome that lay open in front of him.
"And we would appreciate it if you kept the noise down," added George, who seemed to be taking a copious amount of notes.
"What on earth are you two up to?" asked Bianca "This can't be for your N.E.W.T exams!"
"You're right, it's not." said George.
"What is it then?" asked Bianca.
"It's private." said Fred
"Private my foot!" retorted Katie and snatched up the nearest book.
"Oi!" exclaimed George as Katie flipped the book over to get a look at the front cover.
"How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." she read aloud "A Wizarding Guide to Setting up Your Own Business."
"Thank you!" said Fred, taking the book back from her.
"You're planning on going into business after leaving Hogwarts?" asked Bianca.
"Of course we are," replied George "We've spent years developing various tricks and treats. What else are we going to do after school's done other than sell them?"
"Good point," said Katie "Where are you getting the start-up capital?"
Fred shut his book and turned to her "Was there a point to this visit or are you just here to annoy us?"
"Partly to annoy," replied Katie "but we also have a little job for you, if you're willing."
The twins exchanged a look before George replied "We're listening."
The sun was setting behind the mountains which surrounded Hogwarts, bathing the castle and the surrounding sloping lawns in a vivid orange glow. A chilly breeze blew through the air, encouraging the last few students who remained outside to retreat behind the castle walls.
Through the window of his office, Albus Dumbledore stood watching as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley made their way up towards the castle, broomsticks slung over their shoulders as they talked and laughed together happily.
'As they should be,' thought Dumbledore.
There was a knock at the door and Dumbledore turned to one of the tables that were covered in silver instruments. Already there was smoke in the air forming the words "Severus."
"Come in Severus." Dumbledore called out as the smoke dissipated.
The office door opened and the castle's dour potions master entered.
"Everything is prepared for this evening," said Snape after shutting the door securely.
"Very good," replied Dumbledore "Remember, once you are safely within range of your target you must dispose of her quickly and effectively. We cannot afford for you to get caught. Do not rush in; wait for the most opportune moment."
"Of course," said Snape. He seemed to mull something over for a few moments before asking "Are you certain that the chosen target is the best option?"
"I am. She had her chance to stay away from Harry. Now she is nothing more than a menace that must be eliminated. Casting the Dark Mark over her body will help cover our tracks."
Snape nodded and turned to leave.
"Severus," Dumbledore called after him, causing the man to pause by the door and turn back.
After the potions master had left Dumbledore turned back towards his window and spotted a majestic looking barn owl winging its way towards the tower in which his office was located. He pushed open the window and the regal bird swooped in and landed on top of the ornate desk.
Dumbledore quickly relieved the owl of its burden, a letter, and the predatory denizen of the night spread its beautiful wings and took flight once more. Dumbledore closed the window after it had gone and then sat himself down behind the desk in order to read the letter.
It was from Sirius Black and read
I was most disappointed when I was informed by Mad-Eye that you have had to confiscate the Marauders' Map from Harry, but having heard the reasoning behind this course of action I must admit that this is a fair decision, especially in light of the events of the last school year. As much as I would like Harry to use the map to sneak girls into broom cupboards, I understand that his safety, as well as that of the school as a whole, is of the utmost importance. It is unfortunate that Harry does not see it this way, but I am sure that he will come around in time.
To activate the map, simply touch the tip of your wand to it and speak the password, which is 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.' To deactivate it, touch it with your wand again and say 'Mischief managed.' The map will show you the locations of everyone within the castle, including Peeves the Poltergeist. Unfortunately we were never able to figure out how to include the ghosts on the map.
Keep an eye on Harry for me, and please do your best to discover just what diabolical potions the Ministry is using to control him.
Dumbledore smiled as he set the letter down. Sirius knew very little about what was currently going on at Hogwarts, and he certainly was not involved with the most recent events. As far as Sirius was concerned, Ministry officials had kidnapped Harry following his trial and dosed him with potions to make him pliable and agree to become the Ministry's new poster boy for their current plans at Hogwarts.
Sirius' natural distrust for the Ministry due to his wrongful imprisonment, along with his desire to keep Harry safe made him the perfect type of person to manipulate, as evidenced by the fact that he had just willingly handed over the activation password for the Marauders' Map.
Sirius was, for now, proving himself at least somewhat useful, but once that usefulness ran out Dumbledore would need to remove him from the equation.
Just like Sarah Abbott.
Putting thoughts of murder out of his mind, Dumbledore turns his attention to the task at hand. He reached down and opened the lowest drawer on his desk. From within he pulled out the tatty piece of parchment that, to the untrained eye, looked utterly insignificant.
Dumbledore, of course, had sensed its magical properties the moment that it had been handed to him and had rightly deduced that it was the fabled Marauders' Map.
The aged wizard felt a bit of excitement run through him as he placed the map on the desk. He whipped out his wand with a flourish and touched the tip to the parchment and spoke the password "I solemnly swear that I am up to do good."
'Never were truer words spoken by you!' thought the Sorting Hat bitterly as it watched these events helplessly from its position on one of the dust covered shelves.
His breath caught in his throat as, for the first time, Albus Dumbledore beheld the wonder that was the Marauders' Map. Before his very eyes line after line began to appear, spreading out across the map in all directions. They showed the walls of the classrooms, the corridors, the towers, the library, the hospital wing, the staff offices and the dormitories. Every stair was delineated, the names and numbers of various places were written in a neat scrawl and, looking closely, Dumbledore say small writing that named every portrait that hung on the corridor walls.
Dots appeared, each with its own label. There were Minerva and Pomona having their usual Sunday tea in Minerva's quarters. There was Severus, making his way back down to the Dungeons. There was Poppy, milling about in the Hospital Wing near an unmoving dot that showed where Dolores Umbridge was currently lying unconscious.
Dumbledore still hadn't decided what to do with her yet.
There were Harry and Ron, making their way up to Gryffindor Tower. Katie Bell and the Weasley Twins were heading towards them. Heading away from the staircase that Harry and Ron were currently climbing were Roger Davies and Patricia Stimpson, the current Head Boy and Head Girl.
Immediately that seemed a little odd to Dumbledore. With Davies being a Ravenclaw and Stimpson being a Hufflepuff, what possible reason could they have for being so near to Gryffindor Tower?
Perhaps they had been talking to a Gryffindor Prefect. Yes, that had to be it.
Ignoring the progress of the three older Gryffindors and the Head Boy and Girl, Dumbledore settled upon watching Harry and Ron make their way up to the Gryffindor Common Room. The two dots that represented the pair reached the entrance to their Common Room and paused, likely to give the password to the portrait of the Fat Lady and wait for the entrance to open.
Moments later the two were in.
Dumbledore gave a satisfied sigh. Harry was back where he belonged. Good.
He was just about to deactivate the map and put it away before the Head Boy and Head Girl could arrive when something on it happened to catch his eye.
Just along from the Gryffindor Common Room, in classroom 7B there were a large number of dots all clustered together in much the same way as there were many dots clustered together in the Gryffindor Common Room.
Many students appeared to have gathered in that classroom, perhaps as many as forty.
Dumbledore frowned. What on Earth could they all be doing in there? Looking at the names he saw that a fair few of them were students in Harry's year. Mostly this group was made up of Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws but, most strangely, there were also a handful of Slytherin students present, including the two current fifth year prefects, Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass.
This really did not sit right with Dumbledore and to make matters worse he spotted two names that told him that there was something very important going on in that room. Something that he needed to put a stop to.
Those names were Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott.
He sent of several patronuses to carry messages to most of the staff and some, but not all, of the Order members who were currently standing guard around the boundary of the castle's grounds.
The Head Boy and Girl arrived moments later, forcing Dumbledore to leave the rounding up of those wayward students to Minerva and the others.
"Is this it?" asked George, holding up the parcel.
"It is," replied Katie "Now go on, get moving."
"Wait, why do we have to smuggle it out of the castle again?" asked Fred.
Katie rubbed her hand over her face wearily "Because the Ministry is closing in on Hogwarts and I, for one, don't like the idea of some Ministry lackey reading my personal mail."
"Yeah," agreed George "Before we came back to Hogwarts Mum told us to be careful about what we put in our letters because Dumbledore thought that the Ministry would intercept our owls."
Katie had to fight against the unpleasant expression that threatened to mar her face at hearing those words. If only the Weasleys knew that it was actually Dumbledore's lackeys who were intercepting the mail of Hogwarts' students.
Then again, if the Weasley family found out that it was Dumbledore who behind the intercepting of mail then the whole lot of them would likely consider it to be a perfectly reasonable practice.
So rather than point this out she simply said "Exactly. Now hurry up and don't get caught."
Fred snorted derisively and said "Please! Remember who you're talking to, Bell. We are the Weasley Twins. We don't get caught."
"Good for you," said Katie "Now go."
The twins headed off, fully intending to make use of the secret passageway located behind a mirror on the fourth floor corridor. At this time of day this passage was an immensely better option than the one hidden by the statue of the one-eyed witch as that one led to the basement of Honeydukes' Sweet Shop. The one behind the mirror led to a large boulder that sat to the side of the road that lead from the village of Hogsmeade to Hogsmeade Station. It was neither in the village nor in the castle grounds, therefore making it the perfect location to release the owl.
Katie watched the twins disappear down the staircase towards the fourth floor corridor and then turned back.
She had just put a foot on the bottom stair of the staircase that led up to the sixth floor when she became aware of panicked shouting in the distance.
The shouting grew louder and was soon accompanied by the sounds of running footsteps. Many footsteps.
Cautiously Katie moved to take out her wand and had just raised it when suddenly Pansy Parkinson appeared at the top of the staircase, her face flushed from exertion and her eyes wide. She began bounding down the staircase, dragging Astoria Greengrass by the hand behind her.
"What's going on?" asked Katie in bewilderment as Pansy barrelled past her.
"We've been busted!" Pansy called back.
Katie turned her attention back to the top of the staircase and could only watch in shock as Padma, Anthony and the Creevey Brothers appeared there, only to be corralled by Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick and a person whom she did not recognise.
Katie did the only thing that she could do – turn around and follow Pansy and Astoria.
There was a time to be brave, but there was no doubt in Katie's mind as to what would happen to those who were caught. So long as Fred and George got the letter out, the Ministry would come to Hogwarts, but they would still need witnesses. And from the looks of things, the number of those available had just decreased dramatically.
Roger and Patricia were sitting in the Headmaster's office, delivering their first weekly report of the year. Their agreed upon goal was to keep Professor Dumbledore busy for as long as possible, but this seemed to be impossible as the Headmaster did not appear to really be paying attention to them. He was looking up at them, but kept taking quick looks at a piece of parchment on his desk which neither the Head Boy nor the Head Girl were able to get a good look at, and making notes on a separate sheet of parchment.
Roger licked his lips and tried to gain the Headmaster's attention "We spoke with Bianca Dunstan earlier and she seems to think that while Hermione Granger is quickly getting the hang of her duties, Ronald Weasley appears to be struggling to deal with the responsibility."
"Yes," replied Dumbledore in an off-hand manner which simply illustrated just how little attention he was paying them.
Patricia thought that she saw what might have been a glint of triumph in Dumbledore's eyes as he turned his gaze away from the strange piece of parchment on the desk and made a note on the other sheet.
Finally Dumbledore looked up and said "Well, it seems like you two have settled into your new roles well. Don't worry too much about the new prefects at the moment as it usually takes a month or so to get fully settled. Now then if you'll excuse an old man, I have business to attend to elsewhere."
Folding up the two pieces of parchment that he had been using and placing them in his left pocket, Dumbledore stood up from his desk and was just walking over to the door when suddenly he turned around, pulling out his wand as he did so and quickly fired off two stunning spells.
The two seventh years slumped off of their chairs and onto the floor. A surface scan of each of their minds had told Dumbledore all that he needed to know about their involvement with the students who had holed themselves up in classroom 7B. A little further in and he discovered exactly why all of those students had been there and what they were up to.
He called for a House Elf to take the pair to Classroom 7B and sent off a patronus to those members of the Order who were still stationed outside the castle, instructing them to intercept Fred and George Weasley.
Then, with a spring in his step, he made his way out of his office and towards Classroom 7B.
Fawkes watched him go and trilled a sad note once the door had shut behind the aged wizard.
"If you're hoping for him to redeem himself then you've got a long wait ahead of you!" barked the Sorting Hat.
Fawkes let out another trill and then buried his head beneath his wing. The hat didn't understand why Fawkes stayed. No one did.
"Let go of me!" shouted Susan as she was frogmarched back to Classroom 7B.
"It's no use fighting, lass," replied Moody and he pushed her along "You've been caught."
A man that Susan did not recognise opened the classroom door and she was shoved unceremoniously inside, tripping as she went and falling flat on her face.
She grunted as the wind was knocked out of her and turned to look at the door just in time to see it slam shut.
Instinctively she put her hand to her pocket where her wand was usually stored, although she was already well aware that it had been taken from her.
There was a soft pop to her left and the stunned bodies of Roger and Patricia appeared out of thin air next to her.
Susan sat up and looked around the room. It seemed that most of the group had been caught already. Some were stunned, some had been hit with body-bind spells, others were tied with ropes and others still were like her – outmuscled and dragged back kicking and screaming.
She tried to ascertain who was still missing but it was hard to tell as she hadn't known the names of everyone who had been present in the first place.
Hannah, Lilith and Sally-Anne were still missing, as were Pansy and Astoria. Andrew Kirke and Jack Sloper was also absent, and so were Jimmy Peakes, Nigel Wolpert and Marcus Belby. Luna wasn't there either. Nor was little Natalie Macdonald. The two girls that she had been with were there however.
The door opened again and Lilith and Sally-Anne were shoved inside, followed by Hannah who had been tried up with thick ropes.
The door slammed shut, only to be reopened a few moments later to allow the stunned bodies of Andrew and Jack to be levitated inside.
Susan crawled over to Hannah and tried tugging at the ropes that bound her, but they would not budge.
Over the next few minutes Jimmy, Nigel and Marcus were each brought in along with a few others whose names Susan didn't know.
Then, after what felt like five hours, but was actually only fifteen minutes, the door opened again. This time it was Dumbledore who stepped into the room, followed closely by two men whom Susan did not recognise. However with each of those were the Weasley Twins.
Susan and the others felt dread descend upon them, a feeling that only intensified when they realised that Dumbledore was holding the letter that Susan had written to her aunt.
The grounds were dark as three figures sprinted across the lawn towards the front gates of the school.
"Hold on!" Katie called out to Pansy and Astoria, causing the two Slytherins to come to a stop.
"What?" asked Pansy, testily.
"We can't go out through the front gates," replied Katie "Dumbledore's people will be watching."
"Then what do you suggest we do?" asked Astoria.
Katie looked around and saw that they were not too far away from the first few trees of the Forbidden Forest.
"We'll climb a tree," she suggested "One from which we can see the front gates. That way when the Aurors arrive we'll be able to go to them."
"Assuming that the Weasel Twins haven't been caught as well." said Pansy.
"Do we have any other option?" asked Katie.
Pansy thought for a moment before shaking her head and replying "Tree it is."
"Ron, do you know where my seeker gloves are?" asked Harry as he rummaged through the clothes that he had been wearing during their impromptu Quidditch training session.
"No idea mate," replied Ron without looking up from his comic book which was entitled The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle.
"I must have left them down by the Quidditch pitch," muttered Harry to himself. He walked over to his trunk, which was now seated at the foot of the bed, and opened it.
After a few moments of rummaging through the trunk Harry turned to Ron and asked "Have you seen my invisibility cloak?"
"Not recently," replied Ron, scratching his nose as he continued to read the comic.
Harry continued to rummage before saying "Well, it's not in here."
"Haven't seen it mate," replied Ron.
"The Marauders' Map is gone too," said Harry.
"I'm sure it'll turn up." said Ron.
Harry glanced down at his watch "Well, there's still twenty minutes until curfew. Reckon I can get down to the Quidditch Pitch and back in that time?"
"You could if you flew," answered Ron as he turned a page.
"Good idea," said Harry before pulling his firebolt broomstick out from underneath his bed and marched out of the dormitory.
A few moments later Dean stepped out of the bathroom that adjoined the dormitory.
"I wonder where Neville's too?" he wondered aloud as he used a towel to dry his hair.
"No idea mate." replied Ron.
Harry stepped out through the front doors of the castle and took a deep breath of cool night air.
There would probably be a frost the following morning.
He swung a leg over his broomstick and kicked off from the ground. It was tricky to navigate in the dark, and the crescent moon did not help matters, but thanks to a combination of light emanating from the castle and from the stars shining in the cloudless sky above, Harry was able to navigate his way down towards the Quidditch Pitch.
He landed at the foot of the stands and got off the broom. Then, after drawing his wand, he cast a lumos spell in order to help search for his gloves.
However, rather than reveal the location of his gloves, the light emanating from the tip of his wand illuminated a face belonging to a person standing directly in front of him.
"Hullo Harry Potter," said Luna Lovegood, kindly.
"Um… hello?" replied Harry, who no longer had any memory of having ever met Luna Lovegood.
Luna tilted her head to the side and said "You know, you shouldn't wear expressions like that on your face, Harry Potter. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that you were a victim of a Wrackspurt infestation."
"Um… ok?" said Harry, a little unsure of how to respond "Have you seen my seeker gloves around here?"
He felt something tugging at his sleeve. Harry looked down and saw that it was another girl, a second year Gryffindor whose name he thought was Natalie Macdonald, though he wasn't certain.
With her right hand still holding on to his sleeve, she held out her left hand which held both of his seeker gloves.
"Thanks," said Harry taking the gloves from her. He shoved them in his pocket and said "Well it was nice meeting you, but I really need to get back up to the castle now."
He turned to leave, only for Natalie to grab onto his left arm with both of her hands, clamping down with a surprisingly strong grip.
"You can't go!" she exclaimed.
Harry gaped at her before turning to Luna, hoping for an explanation.
"It is very bad to go to the castle Harry." said the Ravenclaw girl who, Harry noticed for the first time, was wearing a necklace of butter beer bottle corks and earrings in the shape of radishes.
McGonagall turned to Dumbledore and said "We are missing seven students. Luna Lovegood and Stewart Ackerly of Ravenclaw, Kevin Whitby of Hufflepuff, Katie Bell and Natalie Macdonald of Gryffindor and Pansy Parkinson and Astoria Greengrass of Slytherin.
Dumbledore nodded before replying "Send word to the others and have them block all exits from the castle. I will use the map to locate our wayward charges."
"What are we going to do with them?" asked Flitwick, gesturing to the assembled students in the room.
Following another attempted escape the staff and Order had resorted to stunning all of them.
"We will have to wait for Severus to return before we can take the appropriate action," replied Dumbledore "All of the potions that he brewed were used up during today's mealtimes. I must confess that we did not anticipate any student missing all three meals. Severus will have to brew some more."
"Very well," said McGonagall "And regarding the letter?"
"Once Severus returns I will question the twins, Miss Bell and Miss Bones under veritaserum. It is unfortunate that we must resort to such measures, but sometimes the difference between what is right and wrong must be overlooked for the greater good, no matter how distasteful."
Neither one of the Professors argued.
Godric's Hollow was a peaceful rural village located in North West part of Dorset, not far from the county's border with Somerset.
The village had a history that dated back many centuries. In fact, some of the ruins that were still to be found on the edge of the village pre-dated Westminster Abbey. The ruins were what remained of the original village, which had been left empty following the arrival of the Black Death in 1348. Some of the village, such as the Church of St Clementine, had been repaired in the 1550's, with most of the rest of the village being built from scratch at around the same time.
The village almost doubled in size between the years 1689 and 1690. Those who already lived in the village were not to know this, but this increase was largely due to witches and wizards who chose to settle in this village following ratification of the International Statute of Secrecy in 1689. The magical people chose this location in particular because of the significance that it held for them. The village was, of course, named for one of the greatest wizards of all time, Godric Gryffindor, who had once owned a large mansion house on the edge of the old village, though that now was gone.
And so the wizards had come, building new cottages from themselves and either side of five new streets that they also built – Lion Lane, Griffin Close, Raven Road, Badger Street and Abbott Road.
From the names given to their streets, it is easy to tell that, for the most part, the wizards and witches were decent folk who soon managed to get along with their muggle neighbours.
Unfortunately this was not always so and the wizards of Godric's Hollow had their fair share of bad encounters with Muggles.
Still, for the most part things went along ok, or they had done until the around 1970 when Voldemort began his first rise to power. The self-styled Dark Lord and his followers loved to amuse themselves by torturing muggles and Godric's Hollow was the perfect place to grab one for an evening's entertainment.
As such the Muggle population had dropped to around sixty, down from more than two hundred, though this decline was also as a result of Muggles moving away out of fear.
In the time following the temporary vanquishing of Voldemort in 1981 the Muggles had steadily increased in number, though had yet to reach the same number of inhabitants as more than two dozen of the houses that had been left empty had been purchased by fashionable "townies" from London and elsewhere who used them for an average of seven long weekends every year, leaving them empty the rest of the time.
The numbers of witches and wizards living in the village, on the other hand, were at an all-time high. Many of the families living there had been hit hard by the war and many wizarding homes were left empty for a time, but the village where Voldemort was vanquished was always going to see an influx of new wizards.
There was one wizarding family that had lived in Godric's Hollow for a long time, predating the other famous families to have lived there, the Potters, the Bagshots and the Dumbledores, by a good few generations. In fact the Abbotts could rightfully say that their early ancestors had in fact lived alongside and worked for Godric Gryffindor himself. Like everyone else they had abandoned the village during the plague but had returned well before the International Statute of Secrecy had been put into place.
For generations there had been an Abbott living in a house on the corner between Badger Street and Abbott Road, which was named after the family, and if things continued as they should, there always would be.
Unfortunately, there were those who would quite happily see families such as the Abbotts driven to extinction in order to further their own purposes.
In a dark corner of the graveyard a man appeared out of thin air. Fortunately the lateness of the hour and the bitter chill in the air meant that all the Muggles were safely in their homes.
Severus Snape held his wand up as his black eyes scanned the area around him. Seeing nothing he began walking towards the gates. As he passed one of the graves he paused and turned to look at it.
It was the grave of James and Lily Potter.
Jealousy welled up within him and with two flicks of his wand two chucks were blown out of the headstone, the first hole appearing where James' name had been and the second being where the name Potter had been, leaving only Lily.
He stood over the grave for a minute longer, wondering how else to desecrate the final resting place of James Potter, but he soon realised that he could not do anymore without desecrating Lily's resting place as well.
Snape turned and stormed out of the graveyard, only to come to a stop a few feet beyond the gate. What at first had looked like a war memorial hand changed shape. What had initially been an obelisk was not a statue of three people, a man, a woman and an infant, sitting together on a stone seat.
James Potter, Lily Evans and their son, Harry.
He stood as if rooted to the spot. He had been aware of this memorial statue but had never seen it before now. Aside from being made out of stone, the statues were very lifelike, extremely lifelike. In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that rather than having been sculpted out of stone, that the statues had one been real people who had simply been turned into stone through a transfiguration spell.
He made a move as if to go closer, but shook himself. No, he would not do this. He had a mission to do, and getting closer to that statue would only result in attention being brought onto him.
He turned away and continued on towards Abbott Road.
He passed Griffin Close and looked down it to where the cottage where the Potter family had once lived now stood as a ruin.
Unbidden, an image of Lily's smiling face as she sat eagerly beneath the Sorting Hat on their first day at Hogwarts swam before his mind and Snape could not help but think one thoroughly bitter and downright twisted thought:
'She should have stayed with me.'
He remembered it clearly, that day in their fifth year that had resulted in her ending their friendship.
It was all Potter's fault, of course, for attacking him, hexing him, humiliating him in front of most of his year group. An unprovoked attack upon his person which had caused him to lose his temper and snap at Lily when she had tried to help.
And it was Mary Macdonald's fault. That bitch had been doing her utmost to destroy his friendship with Lily from the moment that the two girls had sat down together at the Gryffindor table. Macdonald had always been badmouthing him around Lily, saying that he was dark, saying that he couldn't be trusted, poisoning Lily's mind against him.
Her and Lily's other friends, Sarah Fisher, Alice Prewitt, and Marlene McKinnon…
Of course, as with people everywhere who felt that everything was everyone else's fault, Snape's recollection of these was a littler skewered.
The attack, for there is no denying that it was one, was not without foundation.
Just a month before Mary Macdonald had been attacked by two Slytherin Students, Evan Rosier and Silas Mulciber, and subjected by them to the imperius curse, much to the enjoyment of several of their fellow Slytherins, Snape included.
The assault had ended when Narcissa Black, who had been charged with keeping a lookout, had alerted them to the approach of Professors McGonagall and Flitwick.
The curse had been cancelled and the Slytherins had scarpered, but not before Mary had gotten a good look at several faces in the group, including Snape's.
Mary had told the teachers when they had arrived but they had not sought out the perpetrators in order to punish them, very likely on Dumbledore's orders, though Slughorn had kept a closer watch on them for the rest of the term.
Obviously Mary had told her friends about what happened. Lily hadn't been happy about it and confronted Snape outright over it. He tried to blow it off as being "just a bit of a laugh" but she hadn't been impressed.
Less impressed were two Hufflepuff boys, Edgar Bones and Edward Abbott, who had gone unnoticed by Lily and Snape as they had argued. Edward had told his girlfriend Sarah about what he and Edgar had overheard and Sarah had told her friends, including Mary who had gone on to tell her boyfriend, Sirius Black who, naturally, had told the other Marauders.
Thus the reason for the attack. Not that Snape remembered things that way. Not only was occlumency good for protecting your mind, it was also good for blocking off things you didn't want to remember.
The breakup of his friendship with Lily had been hard to deal with, but even harder was coping with the fact that Lily did eventually get together with that idiotic Potter in their seventh year. The day that he had learned that had been the day he had vowed to himself to train himself up into becoming the best servant that the Dark Lord would ever have. This would allow him to get rid of Lily's "friends" and her would-be husband.
The day that Lily had married Potter had been the day that Snape had taken the dark mark of Lord Voldemort. In order to do so, a prospective Death Eater had to bring along a victim, and Snape had had the perfect one in mind.
By listening to the grape-vine he had learned of the location of the wedding and had waited outside. Later in the evening his victim had shown herself, drunkenly staggering beyond the protective enchantments on the hall where the wedding was being held. She was not alone though. Sirius Black was with her.
That turn of events had made things even better, for it seemed that the couple were still sweet on each other. Snape had set a couple of noise-makers from Zonko's joke shop on the group near some bushes and then moved away. The noise went off, Sirius went to investigate and Snape stunned Mary Macdonald and disapparated with her before Sirius could realise what had happened.
It had been perfect. He got rid of one of Lily's meddlesome "friends", he received his dark mark, he had made sure that the day she married Potter was a day that Lily would never want to remember, and he had gotten to hurt that idiotic Sirius Black in the process as well.
In the line of duty to Lord Voldemort, Severus Snape had witnessed the massacre of the McKinnon family, thus removing another of Lily's friends, and had been there when Edgar Bones and his young family had been killed.
Then had come that damned prophesy. Upon realising that Voldemort would go after the Potters, Snape had begged his Lord to spare his Lily, tried to convince the man that Lily was powerful despite her heritage, and that power could be useful, but it hadn't worked. Snape was not high enough in Voldemort's ranks to make such as request successfully and had indeed paid the price for his gall.
In the end he had been forced to turn to Dumbledore, begging the Headmaster to save his Lily and, as distasteful as he found it, to save her husband and son as well, a request he only made to ensure that Dumbledore acted.
Now bound to the servitude of two masters, he had spent the year playing both sides against each other before that fateful Halloween night in 1981.
Lily was gone, and so was Voldemort. Dumbledore spoke on Snape's behalf to save him, but there were those who refused to believe the old man's words, forcing Snape to shelter in Dumbledore's sphere of influence.
But in that dark hour, Snape's suffering had been rewarded. Bellatrix and several others had gone after the Longbottoms, driving them into insanity and removing another of Lily's poisonous friends. Dumbledore, either through ill judgement or malicious intent, had allowed Sirius Black to be sent away to Azkaban prison and had sent Potter's brat away to live with wretched Muggles. The last of the Marauders, Remus Lupin, had retreated from the magical world to live in virtual solitude for more than a decade.
Of all the people who had turned his Lily against him, only two had remained unscathed; Sarah Fisher and her husband Edward Abbott.
Sirius Black and Remus Lupin had both since returned, but for now there was nothing that Snape could do about them.
Tonight, though, he would be permanently removing another, and on the orders of Albus Dumbledore himself, no less.
He had arrived at the corner where Abbott Street joined Badger Road and now stood in a shadowy spot on the pavement on the opposite side of the road from the house.
The house was large, well maintained and hinted at wealth, but did not show it off in the way that Malfoy Manor did.
There was a light on in the kitchen allowing him to view Sarah Abbott as she milled about inside.
A quickly cast "homenum revelio" spell revealed that she was the only person in the house.
With a flick of his wand his black hood came up over his head and a silvery, skull like Death Eater mask attached itself over upper half of his face.
He stepped out of the shadows and began to cross the road.
Sarah lifted the saucepan of hot milk off of the hob and moved to pour the contents into a large mug. A moment later she had set the saucepan back down onto the hob and pulled out her wand. She had felt a tugging sensation upon her magic, an indication that the wards surrounding the house were currently under attack.
Quickly, and yet constantly keeping her eyes moving from the window to the door, she backed up towards the fireplace. With her free hand she reached for the pot of floo powder and grabbed a handful. She threw it into the fireplace, but much to her dismay nothing happened. Whoever it was that was attacking the wards obviously had contacts within the Department of Magical Transportation.
She tried disapparating, but that did not work either. She grabbed a spoon that had been lying nearby on the counter and turned it into a portkey, but again she had no luck.
She felt a strange, lurching sensation as the wards collapsed. She raised her wand and aimed it at the window, an easy access point and the spot where most invaders would try to enter.
The attack came from her left. With reflexes honed through training to work with the Auror department she threw herself beneath the kitchen table as a large hole was blasted through the wall.
Through the dust she could make out a man dressed all in black, hooded and cloaked. She aimed her wand upwards just as he fired a spell which blasted the table backwards, leaving her completely exposed.
The bludgeoning spell left the tip of her wand, but he ducked beneath it and it struck the wall, making the hole even bigger.
She followed that spell up with another and another, allowing her time to get to her feet although he now shielded against every spell she sent at him.
They strove against each other of a minute and then he changed tactics, ducking beneath a spell instead of shielding against it, leaving his wand free to return fire.
Sarah recognised the voice of her attacker and faltered failing to get a protective shield up in time and her wand was banished from her hand.
The attacker straightened up. This was how a Death Eater liked to play, their victims powerless and alone.
And Severus Snape planned to play with this mouse cruelly before putting an end to her.
But Sarah Abbott was not beaten yet. With or without her wand she had a few tricks up her sleeve. With a sudden movement she made as though to drive for the place where her wand had landed and Snape cast a spell at her, but her move was merely a feint.
Instead she twisted herself, avoiding the spell, and reached for the saucepan, its milky contents now bubbling and broiling like the volatile ingredients of an exploding potion.
She swung the saucepan and hurled it towards her attacker.
Snape screamed as the boiling milk drenched him, soaking into his robes, blistering the skin around his exposed mouth and leaking through the eye holes on the mask to scald his eyes.
Blindly he swiped at his face with the sleeve of one arm and with the other he pointed his wand and shouted "Sectumsempra!"
He was rewarded with a terrible scream of pure agony and the sound of a body hitting the floor.
Snape forced his eyes to open and, though his vision was a little blurred, he saw that his victim was on the floor, surrounded by a rapidly expanding pool of blood.
Ignoring his pain he stepped forward, fully intending to gloat over his victim.
But even as she lay dying, her life's blood ebbing from many slash-like wounds over her body, the lady of the household was not forsaken.
There were two House Elves living in and serving the Ancient and Noble House of Abbott. Like many wizards everywhere, Severus Snape had made the mistake of ignoring these creatures and he was about to pay for it.
Loppy and Moppy appeared on either side of their mistress and both raised a threatening hand, crying in one voice "You will do no more evil here!"
Snape raised his wand to strike the Elves down, but each sent a pulse of magic at him. The world spun around him as air rushed past his ears, and then he caught sight of the kitchen counter as it came up to meet him.
Loppy hurried over to tie the attacker in thick ropes and Moppy moved to check on her mistress.
Being careful to not tread in her blood, Moppy walked around Sarah and came to stand by her head.
Sarah's eyes opened and, upon seeing the Elf, she spoke in a weak voice.
"Amelia… Get Amelia…"
Moppy nodded and disappeared with a pop.
A/N: And now the shit shall hit the fan!
I hope that you enjoyed this one as it took a bit of effort to write. It may also me my longest chapter for any story that I have ever written.
I know that some of you are frothing at the mouth for answers, trust me they are coming. I am trying to avoid revealing everything too soon, something which I have, admittedly, been guilty of in the past.
Just as a note, this is my personal take on Snape's character. You should all know by now that I really despise that guy and his creepy, stalker ways. If you hadn't yet worked out that he wasn't going to be a good guy in this (not that he ever was anyway), well… I dunno what to tell you other than you probably haven't been reading carefully enough.
Anyway this chapter does answer a question that I've wondered about for a long time – whatever happened to Lily's friends from Hogwarts. It's not a joyful answer, I'll grant you, but it is an answer.
Also I think that I got the idea of Alice Longbottom's maiden name being Prewitt from another fanfic that I read a long time ago and can no longer remember the title of. I had thought that it was canon, but after checking I can find no sources that confirm this. Basically she's Molly Weasley's cousin, though they were two very different people. I don't know if that will ever become relevant in this story.
Anyhow, that's this chapter done. See ya next time!