Sorry for the delay. Some chapters can be a real pain to write and this little b***h fought me all the way!
Also, the chapter doesn't have a title yet because I couldn't think of one. Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks.
Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor
Chapter 27: Repercussions
It was four in the morning and the first hint of the approaching sunrise was just beginning to appear in the sky as the tawny owl winged its way across the Wiltshire countryside. The letter tied to its leg had been written in a hurry, and the writer had urged the bird to fly with all the haste it could muster.
Soundlessly it soared above a line of oak trees and then passed through a protective ward. Ahead there loomed a manor house. The keen eyes of the owl made out the shapes of three or four white peacocks sleeping together beside a fountain. The owl had been to this manor before, but there had been many more peacocks back then. The owl wondered what had happened to them.
The owl located and open window on the second floor and swooped inside. Malfoy Manor was dark, but that was of no concern to the owl. The room that it had entered was the master bedroom, though it was currently unoccupied. The door that led out into the hallway beyond was open and the owl flew through, searching for someone to give its letter to.
It flew along the corridor and down two flights of stairs before coming spotting a person. He was a short man dressed all in black, standing in front of a door as through to guard it. The magical charms that were placed on post owls told the bird that the person it had to give its letter to was on the other side of the door.
The man saw the owl coming and opened the door behind him. "You have an owl, my Lord," he announced.
"Let it in," replied a voice on the other side of the door.
The man pushed the door open and the owl flew through. There was only one man on the other side of the door, if indeed he could be called a man at all. The owl had never seen a person so ugly, and who radiated such an evil aura.
Bound to its duty the owl flew down and dropped the letter into his lap before turning in mid-air and soaring straight back towards the door, fully intending to get as far away from the man as it could, as fast as it could.
It was less than six feet from the door when the snake struck, lunging upwards with its mouth wide open. Dozens of needle-like fangs pierced the owl's body and pumped in enough venom to bring down a water buffalo. The owl screeched in agony, and its wings beat furiously on either side of the snake's head, but to no avail. In a matter of seconds the owl slipped into unconsciousness and the snake began to swallow its early breakfast.
Lord Voldemort watched all this with an amused smile on his face. Nagini was such a ruthless companion. Cross breeding a black mamba and a reticulated python had not been an easy task as, despite the fact that they were both snakes, they were not closely related, but it had been worth it. Nagini was the embodiment of the two most lethal aspects of the two kinds of snakes, the toxicity of the venomous species and the crushing strangulation of the constrictors.
Turning his attention away from his pet, Voldemort opened the letter in his hands. It was from Thaddeus Nott, one of his longest serving followers.
I have just received word from my sources within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement that Severus Snape has been captured at the scene of a crime and is being questioned extensively. My sources to not yet know of the crime he committed or how far the questioning will go, but I am aware that the Department of Mysteries may be involved to some extent in the questioning process. As you were hoping to operate in secret for the time being it is needless to say that Snape's capture could potentially leave us exposed.
I await further instructions.
Yours in servitude,
Thaddeus Nott, Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Nott.
Nott still insisted on using the title of 'Ancient and Noble' for his house despite the fact that they had been stripped of the 'Noble' status some years ago.
Voldemort set the letter aside and began to think. Snape's capture had the potential to be disastrous for him at this point. Even before his resurrection he had planned to keep a low profile immediately following his return and, thanks to the Ministry's determination to not believe that he had returned, that had remained his modus operandi even after the Potter runt had escaped him.
There were things that he had needed to do before restarting his reign of terror, and he had not yet done them. Although most of those who had escaped prison following his temporary banishment had returned to his side, there weren't many of them. Thirty wizards were dangerous, especially with Voldemort leading them, but he needed more.
Macnair was currently off recruiting from the giant colonies and attempts had been made to contact Fenrir Greyback about restarting their old alliance but neither had yet yielded significant results. Recruiting of the Dementors of Azkaban was also a proving painstakingly slow process and until Voldemort had them on side it would be foolish even for on as powerful as he to attempt to 'rescue' those followers of his who were imprisoned with Azkaban's walls.
He had not yet gotten around to contacting the vampires or to recruiting wizards from other countries.
Worse, he still had not gotten to hear that damned prophecy in full. That, above all else, was his most important goal, a goal that he was nowhere near achieving. Every reconnaissance mission carried out, mostly by Wormtail in his animagus form, had proved fruitless. The closest they could get to the Hall of Prophesy was the narrow, dimly lit corridor that stood at the top of the staircase that led down to the Ministry Courtrooms. The door at the end which led to the Department of Mysteries rarely seemed to open and when it did it always snapped shut before anyone could sneak in.
Two days ago Pettigrew had succeeded in discovering an anti-animagus ward on the door, which meant that, even if Pettigrew had managed to scamper inside in his Wormtail form, he would be exposed immediately. So it was just as well that Pettigrew had not succeeded in entering, as his getting captured would likely reveal the truth about Sirius Black, someone who Voldemort really needed the Ministry to continue to use as a scapegoat.
Snape did not know about the attempts to get into the Department of Mysteries, but he did know about the recruitment attempts and knew which Death Eaters had returned to Voldemort's side.
This could prove disastrous. There was no choice. If he wanted to keep what followers he had, he would have to bring them to his side and keep them there. They would all have to abandon their homes, and Malfoy Manor included.
He summoned the guard.
Griselda Marchbanks entered Hogwarts to find it in turmoil. All the students had been taken from their dormitories and gathered in the Great Hall where Aurors, Unspeakables and Healers were now going around to each one in order to determine the damage done.
She caught Amelia's attention when the Head of the D.M.L.E looked up and together the pair found a secluded location in which to talk.
"How bad is it?" asked Griselda, once they were alone in an office that had once belonged to a former Professor.
"It's bad, but it could easily have been much worse," replied Amelia. "So far every student tested has been shown to be under the influence of a strong acceptance potion, something designed to make them accept what they see or are told without question. Obviously this is a terrible thing but it could easily have been something much more sinister. So far only Mr Potter is in a worse state. He's at St Mungo's now, being examined by the very best mind healers."
"Were all the staff involved?"
"Most were. We found Dolores Umbridge in the Hospital Wing under the influence of Draught of Living Death and we found Sibyl Trelawney passed out in her classroom, apparently from drinking too much sherry. Rubeus Hagrid was not to be found anywhere within the castle, but it seems that he has been unaccounted for since shortly after the end of the last school year. Everyone else was involved."
"Aurora Sinistra, Septima Vector and Bathsheba Babbling each tested positive for controlling potions. Everyone else appears to have acted freely."
Griselda found herself having to sit down after that. After a few moments she spoke "Well, it goes without saying that Hogwarts is going to have to close. No matter what evidence you find, I'm going to be making sure that the majority of the school's Professors, along with the Headmaster, Caretaker and Mediwitch are fired. We will probably have to get rid of Hagrid as well and Trelawney, if her drinking was of her own volition."
"We believe it was," put in Amelia.
"So that will leave Dolores, Aurora, Septima and Bathsheba as the sole remaining members of staff within the castle… assuming any of them are willing to stay on after this, of course."
"What will become of the students?"
"We will make arrangements for them to be sent home once each has been examined. Later, I will speak to Professor Winston at Waxwings School. Hopefully I can convince her to take in Hogwarts' students until we can get the castle sorted out."
Amelia grimaced at that. Waxwings School was a school for magic, but not quite of the same calibre as Hogwarts.
The students of Hogwarts generally fell into one of three categories. The first category were those who were from the three highest ranking groups of families, the "Ancient and Noble," the "Ancient" and the "Noble." These families had the funds to send all their children to Hogwarts.
The second category consisted of the "Lesser" and "Clan" families. These families could usually only afford to send their oldest child to Hogwarts. The rest went to Waxwing School. On occasion a child form a "New blood" family joined this group, but it was rare.
And the third category consisted of the Muggleborns. Well, the rich ones anyway.
There were a few anomalies that did not follow this pattern, but the general rule was that Hogwarts was for the rich, Waxwings was for the rest.
"That could cause problems, Griselda," Amelia warned her friend. "While I myself don't see a problem with sending Susan to Waxwings for a few weeks or months while this mess is sorted out, I can think of several families who will take issue with it."
"Then it will be up to them to make other arrangements for their children," replied Griselda. "This will be a temporary solution and is the best that we can offer. If they don't like it, they can arrange for their children to attend Beauxbatons or Durmstrang."
Amelia nodded in acceptance and asked "Any ideas on when Hogwarts might reopen?"
Griselda shook her head. "There's no way of knowing. We will have to find a new Headmaster, Deputy Headmaster, three Heads of House and teachers for every subject except Astronomy, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and History. Then there is the support staff to consider."
"One healer, one caretaker, one keeper of the keys and grounds," listed Amelia.
"Then there are the House Elves. We don't yet know how much of a role they played in all of this but…"
"Of course," agreed Amelia. Her opinion of House Elves had grown vastly after the attack on Sarah Abbott, but now a darker side had become clear. These creatures rarely thought for themselves, instead being determined to do their duty to their master and family. With Sarah this had saved her life.
With Hogwarts, it could well be that the Elves had simply administered the potions to the students simply because Dumbledore had told them to. Not exactly their fault, but still a serious issue when the Headmaster turned out as Dumbledore had.
The Ministry was going to have a busy few weeks ahead of it. Not only did they have to sort out the Order of the Phoenix and hunt down Dumbledore, now they also had to completely reorganise Hogwarts from the lowest rung right to the top.
The fifth floor of St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries was home to the Visitors' Tearoom and the Hospital Shop. Nobody could say that it was a particularly pleasant place to wait around at the best of times, but at this time of day it was an especially depressing place to be.
The shop was shut, leaving a quarter of the floor in darkness. There was no food available and the tea and coffee available was weak and lukewarm.
Natalie MacDonald was asleep, curled up against her mother's side, the woman having wrapped her arm around her shoulders. Mrs MacDonald was asleep too, as was Mr MacDonald.
On Natalie's other side, Katie Bell, who had been determinedly fighting off sleep for the past few hours, did that strange thing where you just begin to drift off to sleep while in a sitting position and accidentally nod yourself awake. It's one of those things that instantly wakes you up because you are so embarrassed about having done it in public and really hope that no one saw you.
Katie rubbed her eyes and got up out of her seat. She made her way over towards the shop and tried to distract herself by picking up and flicking through a book entitled "The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle: The First 10 Years!"
The omnibus edition of comic strips from the 1960's was not very engaging and before long she returned it to its place on the shelf before leaning against a nearby pillar and looking around the room.
Shortly after they had arrived at the Hospital along with Harry, Katie and the others had each been given a medical examination in order to check for potion influence while the Aurors who had escorted them there had contacted their respective parents.
By the time each of the girls were given the all clear, each of their parents had arrived, except for Pansy's. For some reason or another, the aurors simply could not locate Pansy's family.
Katie's parents had wanted to take her home right there and then, but she had been adamant that she would not leave until she knew that Harry would be ok. Luna, Natalie and Astoria each agreed with this sentiment and eventually their parents had relented and taken them up to the Tearoom to await news regarding Harry.
Pansy had remained with them, though whether this was through choice or through having no other option was a mystery.
Apart from two Law Enforcement Officers who were waiting by the double doors that led to the stairs, Katie was the only person awake at the moment. The three aurors who had accompanied them to the Hospital had since returned to the castle.
The doors opened and Daphne Greengrass entered the room. One of the Officers stopped her, but after a few quick words he let her go. Realising that Katie was the only person awake, Daphne made a beeline for her.
"How's Potter doing?" she asked.
"No word yet," replied Katie. "How did-?"
"Madam Bones told me when she explained where my mother and sister were."
Katie nodded. "So I assume they've kicked everyone out of Hogwarts then?"
"Only those of us to have escaped being potioned. Everyone else is being kept for observation until the dosage wears off. Hey, why's Pansy here?"
"Didn't you know? She got your sister out when the ambush happened. She's been with us all night."
"Really? Where are her parents?"
"No one can reach them. Several floo calls were attempted and two Aurors even went to their house but there was no answer."
"Interesting. I wonder if they had anything to do with the attack."
"Attack? What attack?"
"Sarah Abbott was attacked in her home a few hours before the Aurors showed up at Hogwarts. They caught someone at the scene but Mrs Abbott was in a pretty bad way. Hannah's downstairs now trying to get information."
"Bloody hell. Is Hannah alright?"
"I doubt it. Susan's with her, so at least she's not alone."
Katie nodded before asking "So why do you think Pansy's parents might have been involved in the attack?"
Daphne shrugged her shoulders and replied "Look, you and I both know that Pansy's father was arrested once for being a Death Eater, but got off. Now, I'm not saying that he was a Death Eater, but Sarah Abbott would be a prime target t anyone wanting to cause distress to Harry Potter, and who would want to cause him distress more than a Death Eater?"
"I suppose you have a point. But why now?"
Daphne looked around the room before leaning in closer and whispering "Do you remember the story that was told to us after Cedric Diggory died?"
"Yes. What about it?"
Daphne said nothing more, but she didn't need to. Her look answered everything.
Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones stood in the middle of a dimly lit corridor on the fourth floor of the hospital, arms around each other as Hanna cried her eyes out. When Amelia had told her that her mother had been seriously injured in an attack, it felt like a hot knife had been driven through her heart.
A female Auror had agreed to escort Hannah and Susan to St Mungo's, and she now stood guard outside Sarah's private room.
They heard hurried footsteps coming along the corridor towards them, and Hannah raised her head from Susan's shoulder in order to see if it was a healer.
Susan felt like her eardrum ruptured when Hannah let out a sudden, loud shriek of "Daddy!" Rubbing a hand against her ear, she turned to watch as her best friend ran along the corridor and collided with her father, Edward Abbott.
Father and daughter embraced as the sounds of a fresh round of sobbing filled the air.
Behind Susan, the door to Sarah's room opened and a Healer stepped out. The man looked around before heading towards Edward and Hannah.
"Mr Abbott? I'm Healer Turpin. I've been overseeing the care of your wife."
"How is she?" asked Edward.
"She's stable for now, thanks largely to your family's House Elves who put her under stasis. We've just identified the curse that hit her as a dark cutting charm is known by the incantation sectumsempra. Two healers are casting the reversal incantation as we speak and she should be healed in a matter of minutes and awake again within the hour. Naturally we will want to keep her here for a couple of days for observation, but after that she should be good to go."
"Oh, thank Merlin!" exclaimed Edward before turning to Hannah. "You hear that, honey? Mum's going to be fine."
Hannah nodded and swiped at the tear on her cheek in an attempt to get rid of it, but more tears flowed, though now they were tears of joy.
Not too far away from them, three of the finest mind healers in Britain were currently examining Harry Potter in a private room, trying to discover what, if any, alterations had been made to his mind by Dumbledore and his people.
Harry had not wanted to be examined and had been quite vocal about his desire to leave. However, given the circumstances the decision was not his to make. The Ministry had ordered a medical examination of him and they were duty-bound to give it. In the end they'd had to sedate him in order to allow them to carry out their work.
They had been informed that Mr Potter had begun practicing occlumency and had supposedly gotten to the point where he could block out mild intrusions.
Either their information was wrong, or all of Mr Potter's hard work in learning occlumency had been completely undone, and rather viciously at that!
The many silvery spheres containing his thoughts and memories were now scattered all over the place in every direction. There was no organisation to it at all and any protections that might have been put in place were now gone.
In amongst all the silvery spheres there was more evidence of wrongdoing. Most of the spheres were standard ones, containing the thoughts and memories of Harry. But here and there, there were different spheres.
Some were as black as a lump of coal, looming ominously here and there. These were obliviated memories. As far as the average witch or wizard was concerned, an obliviation meant that a memory was erased. To those in the know, an obliviated memory was still there, but completely blocked off. There were no known means of unblocking an obliviated memory, except perhaps extreme torture, but the memory was undoubtedly still there.
Other spheres were just the opposite. They glowed with a pearly-white sheen, shining brightly amongst the rest. These were false memories, implanted within Harry's mind to replace those that were blocked.
Whoever had actually done this certainly knew what they were doing.
The healers could do nothing to reverse the obliviations, but they could remove the false memories. After that they would have to track down the various people who had been in contact with Harry during the period of time that had been obliviated from his mind. By borrowing their memories and letting him view them, he could at least bypass the obliviations to some extent.
Well, that was the theory anyway. Such a thing had never actually been attempted before.
"So you have no idea why you are here, Arthur?" asked Scrimgeour.
"Apart from what little you told me while arresting me, I have no idea why I'm here," replied Arthur Weasley, evenly.
Following his arrest in the middle of the night, Arthur had been taken to the Ministry, where two Healers had awaited his arrival. They examined him for influential potions, but seemed to find nothing. Then he had been escorted to a holding cell and left there until about ten minutes ago when two unspeakables had arrived to escort him to the questioning room.
One of the unspeakables had removed Arthur's glasses and the other had placed a blindfold over his eyes. They had then marched the blindfolded man along several corridors until that arrived in the room in which they were currently sitting. He had been pushed down into the chair that sat in the middle of the room and cold steel chains had quickly secured themselves around Arthur's wrists and ankles, shackling him to the chair.
The blindfold had then been whipped off and Arthur had blinked as his eyes struggled to adjust. Someone put his glasses onto his face, allowing the room to come into focus.
Around him were two unspeakables, four aurors and Head Auror Rufus Scrimgeour.
Scrimgeour leaned forwards and fixed Arthur with an intense glare before speaking.
"Last night a man dressed in full Death Eater costume attacked the home of the Abbott family. Sarah Abbott was the only one home at the time and she was gravely injured. Fortunately the family's two House Elves were able to disable the attacker and put the Lady of the House in a magical stasis to prevent her bleeding to death.
"The attacker was Severus Snape, Arthur."
Arthur's eyes widened and his skin paled as the ramifications slowly began to become clear.
"Once we got him to the Ministry we questioned Snape, using everything we had at our disposal. He thinks himself to be a good occlumens, but we soon had him singing like a canary. He told us all sorts of things Arthur.
"In particular he told us that he had received orders to kill Sarah Abbott from Albus Dumbledore himself."
"No," whispered Arthur, in disbelief.
"He also informed us of a seedy plot taking place up at Hogwarts Castle, one designed to ensure that Harry Potter listened to once voice, and one voice only; Dumbledore's."
Arthur shook his head.
Scrimgeour pressed on "By the time we got to him, Harry Potter had been subjected to memory altering spells and behaviour altering potions. He is nothing like the person he was on Saturday morning.
But Dumbledore did not stop there. He knew that the students of Hogwarts would notice a sudden change in Mr Potter's behaviour and so he organised several counter-measures. First there were the members of the Order of the Phoenix who were stationed around the castle in order to intercept all post owls. Second, and far more sinister, was the attempted administration of blind acceptance potions to all the student population.
"I say attempted because when we arrived at the castle, there were around forty students found in a classroom on the seventh floor. They had caught on to what was happening and had attempted to avoid being caught in the web. They were rounded up and locked in that room, under the guard of many members of the Order of the Phoenix, including your oldest son, as well as a substantial portion of the school staff.
"What we need to know from you, Arthur, is why?"
Arthur Weasley swallowed nervously, and then he began to talk.
The door opened and Healer Turpin stepped out. Looking around she quickly spotted the father and daughter sitting on some waiting chairs just a little further down the corridor.
"She's awake," she announced, and the duo immediately got up and hurried towards the door, with Susan trailing behind.
Amelia sat down in the chair behind her desk and poured herself a cup of tea from the pot. It was now just after nine thirty in the morning and this was the first break that she had taken since lunchtime of the previous day.
Having interviewed Arthur, Molly and William Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout, Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks and Poppy Pomfrey, Amelia and the other interrogators had agreed to take a one-hour recess in order to recuperate before continuing their work.
So far only the three Weasleys and Tonks had been willing to talk to any real extent. While all of them were obviously firmly entrenched within the 'Dumbledore can do no wrong' camp, their reasons for being so were at least somewhat understandable.
For the Weasley family, it was a case of financial support. After Molly's brothers, Gideon and Fabian Prewitt had been killed while serving the Order of the Phoenix in the first war against Voldemort, Dumbledore had personally paid for each of Molly and Arthur's children to attend Hogwarts.
Personally, Amelia was certain that there had to be more to it than that, but whatever the true reasons, the perceived generosity on Dumbledore's part had secured the loyalty of the Weasley family who, after all, would only have been able to send Bill to Hogwarts and the rest to Waxwings.
Tonks was a different matter. Initially she had joined the Order of the Phoenix due to a recommendation from Alastor Moody, whom she had been protégé to during her final year of training to become an Auror. Initially Tonks had been loyal because Moody was, but, thanks in large part to Dumbledore giving her a job after she was fired from the Auror corps, Tonks was now as loyal to Dumbledore as any Weasley.
So far everyone else had remained tight lipped. This, coupled with the lack of influencing potions in their respective bodies led Amelia to assume that they were loyal to Dumbledore because he had something on them.
In her years working for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she had encountered more than a few people who had been acting due to coercion, people who has a secret that someone else knew and who was prepared to do anything to keep it quiet.
Severus Snape was a prime example of this, and Amelia had good reason to believe that Mundungus Fletcher could well have been in the same spot.
Her musings were interrupted by a knock at the door.
"Come in," she called out.
The door opened and her secretary, Helen, entered the office.
"Ma'am? The Minister is here to see you."
'Of course' she thought bitterly before nodding her head.
"Let him in."
Cornelius Fudge was in full blustering mode when he entered. Amelia did not relish being the one who had to tell him everything.
"Amelia, we need some damage control out here," the portly man said as he began pacing back and forth in front of her desk. "We've hot howlers from angry parents exploding all over the place, there are parents here who are just about ready to string up the next Ministry official they see and we've got more journalists skulking about than there were at Lucius Malfoy's trial at the end of the war."
"There is very little that I can do about that right now, Minister," she replied evenly. "Between searching and securing Hogwarts, guarding St Mungo's, guarding are prisoners and digging through anything and everything that might help us get answers out of said prisoners, my Aurors and Law Enforcement Officers are stretched thin enough as it is."
"Amelia, I'm afraid that you don't quite understand the severity of the situation," protested Fudge. "I've never seen the wizarding population as angry as they are today, and more and more of them keep arriving. A riot could break out at any second-"
Just then the door burst open and Helen came back into the room, looking terrified. "Minister! Madam Bones! There's a riot happening down in the atrium!"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake!" snapped Amelia as she stood up and drew her wand, flicking it to produce a dozen patronuses at once, each one a badger.
"Message for all Auror Personnel, report to the atrium immediately to deal with a riot. Law Enforcement Officers, remain where you are."
As the silvery badgers sped off in different directions, Amelia began making her way to the atrium.
Mould-on-the-Wold was a small village in Warwickshire, England. It was named for both the fact that it was located near the Cotswolds Hills and the fact that it was in general a damp, dank and mouldy place to live.
Between 1820 and 1890, Mould-on-the-Wold had become an important place to wizards. The general unpleasantness of the area meant that many muggles would up and leave the village whether they had anywhere else to go or not.
Wizards, who had magical means of dealing with the damp and the mould, did not mind living in Mould-on-the-Wold and before long it became quite a fashionable place to live. It was quiet and out of the way, and the relatively small number of muggle residents made it easier to practice magic without risking breaking the Statute of Secrecy.
In fact, by 1890, it would have taken only five more muggle families to move out and five wizarding families to move in for Mould-on-the-Wold, and the place would have become the second all-wizarding settlement in the UK, after Hogsmeade in Scotland.
Unfortunately, in 1891, there was an incident involving several muggle children, a pre-Hogwarts aged witch and her father. The result was that Ariana Dumbledore's magic was forevermore disrupted, five muggle children were mentally scarred for life, two muggle children would never walk again, Percival Dumbledore would spend the rest of his days in a cell in Azkaban and the rest of his family, including his sons Albus and Aberforth, moved away to Godric's Hollow.
The last muggles vacated Mould-on-the-Wold. The obliviators and magic-reversal squad had both done their best to reverse the damage done, but the muggles were left convinced that the village was an evil place.
The attack left its mark on the wizarding world as well. Mould-on-the-Wold was no longer a fashionable place for wizards to live and within five years all had left.
For ninety-nine years, Mould-on-the-Wold had been abandoned. No one came here anymore. Any roads that led to it had long since broken up and disappeared and the houses were slowly falling apart. The surrounding forest grew ever closer, and slowly but surely nature was reclaiming its old ground.
Which is why the local family of foxes had been utterly surprised when, just a few hours ago in the middle of the night, a ball of fire had appeared in the air in the middle of the village. Perhaps even more of a surprise was that, when the flames had burnt out, a man had been left standing there. A man dressed in utterly outlandish purple robes with golden suns, stars and moons on them which were matched by high-heeled boots and a pair of half-moon spectacles.
There was also a large bird on his shoulder, red feathered with a long, golden tail.
Since his arrival, the man had entered one of the houses and had been busy using his magic to restore it into something that was mildly habitable.
The wizards had mostly forgotten about Mould-on-the-Wold, and Albus Dumbledore suspected that even his brother Aberforth had forgotten that their family had ever owned the house in which he was now standing.
It was far from ideal, but it would do as Dumbledore spent the next few days trying to think about what his next move ought to be.
With a flick of his wand an enchanted fire ignited in the freshly repaired fireplace, filling the place with light and warmth. Another flick turned a rotten chunk of wood into a lovely chintz armchair and he settled down into it for a nap.
'Transfiguration really is the most wonderful form of magic,' he mused as his eyes grew heavy. As they closed, the last thing he saw before falling asleep was Fawkes, sitting on his new perch, tucking his head under his wing for a nap of his own.
Before anyone complains about the death of the owl, please let me explain. Last summer I was on holiday in Cornwall. Now, don't get me wrong, I love animals. I live in the countryside and I love listening to the sounds of nature, (case in point, Waxwings School is named for one of my favourite birds) but when you are woken up four or five times a night, seven nights in a row by some stupid owl hooting outside your bedroom window, you start to get annoyed. Personally I think tawny owls are beautiful birds, but this one b*****d owl was begging to get a shoe thrown at it by night two!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Most of the Order has remained tight-lipped for various reasons, but at least now you know why the Weasleys followed Dumbledore so blindly. There will be more on that matter though, but I'm not instigating the good old plot device where the money was coming out of Harry's vault. That's been done enough!