Author's Note: Well, after several months of silence. I'm back... I've had some computer problems which were only compounded by a nasty case of wrestling with my muse on this chapter. In retrospect I'm still not completely happy with it, but nothing is ever perfect. There are a number of hints about further events in this chapter as well as information about Albus's background (including a short flashback symptomatic of PTSD), but little actually happens besides what is indicated in the chapter title.
Part II: Alchemical Gold
Chapter 12: A Slytherin Entrapped
While things quickly fell into a rather regular pattern from that point for Harry and Hermione, that didn't mean that things were goings perfectly. The classes combined with the extracurricular activities that the two of them had signed up for were quite a load. While the core classes they were in focused on the spells assigned by the curriculum, their time in Charms Club gave them a chance to experiment with magic that wasn't assigned to them.
At the same time, their roommates were coming to really dislike the fact that they had taken some of the classes they had. If they weren't creating hex signs, brewing potions, or making alchemical creations they were practicing with their bardic instruments. This wouldn't have been a big deal if it wasn't for the tendency for them to have unintended consequences when they sat in the common room practicing. Ron and Neville's chess pieces going marching across the floor on their own had only been the start of it.
Hermione at one point had somehow managed to turn the embers of fire into little fire elementals at one point, which had danced around the fireplace and burnt a hole in Lavender Brown's potion's essay. A few days later Harry had managed to make a couple of scrolls of parchment to spontaneously fold themselves into paper airplanes and proceed to engage in an aerial dogfight around the common room when he'd played one tune.
All of that had been bad enough, but the worst was when Harry had decided to play the Imperial March on a whim. While the illusions that the music had conjured left most of the muggleborns laughing continuously, the purebloods were a bit frightened by the black figure that prowled around the room in time with the music.
Despite this, there was one last addition to their schedule which soon appeared on the board that Harry was all too eager for: Flying Lessons.
Harry had quickly signed up for it the moment he'd seen the announcement, and while Hermione wasn't exactly eager for it, she signed up to. It wasn't until he'd heard some of his classmates complaining about the schedule that Harry had stopped to realize that they would be sharing the lessons with Slytherin House that Thursday.
Unfortunately, Hermione's preference for keeping both of her feet on the ground began to make itself known. Harry knew all too well that his bushy haired sibling wasn't exactly fond of heights, acceleration, or flying in muggle planes. In fact, he still had claw marks from her gripping his arm from their last trip on a plane, or so he liked to claim.
Harry was rather amused when Hermione's forays to the library and nervousness combined; resulting in her reading Quidditch Through the Ages as if it would give her an insight into flying.
Apparently that was one subject that Hogwarts Library was lacking, a section on broom flying. Still, Harry's excitement at the thought of flying kept him going as the week passed all too quickly.
Unfortunately it seemed that circumstances were conspiring against him when Thursday finally rolled around. Harry and Hermione were half through their breakfast when a rather large package fell at Neville's place from a passing owl sending bits of biscuits scattering in all directions.
Neville's grandmother had sent him a couple of outfits he'd forgotten at home along with a tiny glass ball around the size of a tennis ball.
It was a Remembrall, a magical device that's insides filled with angry red clouds as Neville held it up. Apparently this meant that Neville had forgotten something, though the device didn't give a single clue as to what he'd forgotten.
As Neville was explaining this a pale hand snatched the ball and held it aloft, rolling it between two fingers. It was Malfoy.
"I'm surprised it works for you Longbottom, I didn't think squib's had enough magic to register." The pale faced boy sneered.
Neville flushed bright red as Hermione glared at Malfoy. "Give it back Malfoy!"
At the same time several other members of the Gryffindor table stood up and were about to join in when McGonagall's Scottish accented voice cut them off. "What's going on here?"
"Malfoy stole Neville's Remembrall, Professor," Harry said.
"Mr. Malfoy?" McGonagall's lips were in a thin line as she turned to look at the pale boy.
"Just looking..." Malfoy said before tossing it onto plate before Neville, then turning back toward the Slytherin table.
Harry sighed, he'd had to deal with plenty of bullies in school, and a part of him had hoped that the magical world would be better. Still, his heart soared as he remembered that today would be the first day of flying lessons.
At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Hermione, and the other Gryffindors who'd signed up hurried down the front steps onto the grounds for their first flying lesson. It was a clear breezy day, and the grass rippled under their feet as they walked down the sloping lawn toward a bit of smooth flat ground opposite the forbbiden forest, whose trees swayed darkly in the distance.
The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broomsticks lying in neat lines on the ground. Harry had heard some of the other students complain about the school brooms, saying that some of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slightly to the left.
Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short gray hair and yellow eyes like a hawk. As she walked along the line of brooms she barked, "Well, what are you all waiting for? Everyone stand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up."
Harry glanced down at his broom. It was old and some of the twigs stuck out at odd angles. How it ever could fly boggled the mind, let alone whether it would be any use sweeping up a kitchen it looked so worn out.
"Stick out your right hand over your broom and say 'Up'!" Madam Hooch said.
"UP!" Everyone shouted.
Harry's broom jumped into his hand instantly, but it was on eof the few that did. Hermione's rolled over on the ground, and Neville's hadn't moved at all. Perhaps brooms, like horses, could tell when you were afraid, Harry thought. Or maybe it was because the magic in the broom responded to intent. Neville's voice certainly held a quiver, and Hermione wasn't fond of heights.
Madam Hooch showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correcting their grips. Harry smirked to himself when she told Malfoy he'd been doing it wrong for years.
Still, Harry wondered why no one had bothered to buckle a bicycle seat or something similar to the brooms, or better yet an actual set of controls.
"Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard," Madam Hooch said. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle— three— two—"
Neville jumped at that moment and pushed off hard before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch's lips.
"Come back, boy!" She shouted, but Neville was shooting straight up, like a stopper being shot from a champagne bottle. He rose twelve feet, twenty feet, and then Harry saw his scared pale face glance down at the ground, and slip sideways off the broom—
He hit with a thud and a nasty sounding crack face down on the grass as the broom continued skyward before drifting off in the direction of the forbidden forest and out of sight.
Madam Hooch bent over Neville, her face white. Then she clucked her tongue and shook her head. "Just a broken wrist... Come on boy, it's alright. Up you get."
Neville was shaking as he slowly stood while Hooch turned to the rest of the class. "None of you move while I take him to the hospital wing. If I see one broom in the air, you'll be out of here before you can say 'Quidditch'!" Then she led Neville away with tears streaking down is cheeks.
When the pair of them left earshot, Malfoy burst into laughter.
"Did you see his face? The great lump!"
Most of the other slytherins joined in, save for a girl Harry recognized as Tracey Davis.
"Shut up Malfoy!" Parvati Patil snapped at him.
"Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?" Asked Pansy Parkinson, a pug faced girl. "I never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati."
"Look!" Malfoy said as he darted forward and snatched something from the grass. "It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him."
The Remembrall glittered in the sun as the Malfoy scion rolled it between two of his fingers.
Harry scowled. "Give that here, Malfoy!"
Instantly everyone stopped talking and tensed. Hermione hissed quietly as Malfoy glanced at the other Slytherin's. Then he turned to Harry and smiled nastily.
"I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find— maybe... Up a tree!"
"Malfoy!" Harry snapped, grabbing for the ball as he spoke, but Malfoy had already jumped onto his broomstick and shot into the air.
Harry hissed as he watched the blond rise into the air, apparently he could actually fly well. Hovering level with the topmost branches of an old oak, he called. "Come and get it Potter!"
Harry grabbed his broom.
"Harry," Hermione groused. "You'll get us all in trouble..."
She sounded resigned, and Harry knew it was because she knew he wouldn't listen. His blood was up. He mounted the broom and kicked off, hard. Then the pounding of his temper faded away as he soared upward; the air rushing through his hair, and his robes fluttering behind him. A fierce rush of joy swept through him as he soared. Somehow he knew what to do, without being taught, and the exhilaration of the discovery rolled over him.
It was easy, wonderful even. Something about flying just felt natural.
He pulled back on the broom, directing it higher as screams and gasps from the girls on the ground filled the air along with a whoop from some of the boys.
Harry turned his broomstick sharply to face Malfoy and smirked at the blonde's stunned expression.
"Hand it over, or I'll knock you off that broom!" Harry snapped at Malfoy.
Malfoy's sneer flickered somewhat as he answered. "Oh, yeah?"
Harry knew, instinctively, what to do. He flattened himself against the broom and grasped it tightly in both hands. This made him shoot ward Malfoy like a javelin. The blonde only just managed to get out of the way in time; as Harry pulled back on the broom and climbed above the boy. A few people below clapped as he glared down at Malfoy.
"No Crabbe or Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy," Harry said.
The same realization seemed to have struck Malfoy.
"You want it, catch it! If you can, then!" Malfoy shouted before he threw the glass ball high into the air and streaked back toward the ground.
Harry's eyes followed the arc of the ball as it rose up in the air before beginning its descent. Instinctively he leaned forward and pointed his broom downward. The next second he was gathering in a steep dive, racing the ball. The wind whistled in his ears, mingling with the screams of people watching, as he stretched out his hand and snatched the ball a foot off the ground before pulling skyward once more.
The little glass ball rolled in his hands as he slowed over the grass and glanced down at Malfoy staring dumbfounded at him from the ground.
His heart froze as he glanced over to see Professor McGonagall running toward them. Slowly he clambered off the broom, trembling slightly.
"Never— in all my time at Hogwarts—"
Harry swallowed, McGonagall looked almost speechless, and her glasses flashed in the bright sunlight as she glared at him. "— how dare you— might have broken your neck—"
"It wasn't his fault, Professor—"
"Be quiet, Miss Patil—"
"That's enough, Mr. Weasley. Potter, follow me, now," McGonagall said in a hard voice.
Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's triumphant faces as he left, along with Hermione's own anxious look. Walking in Professor McGonagall's wake, Harry's gut tightened with nervous fear. He was in trouble, big trouble. He hoped Professor McGonagall wouldn't be writing to his parents.
He followed her up the front steps, up the marble staircase inside, and still Professor McGonagall didn't say a word to him. Then she wrenched open a set of doors and marched along the corridors with Harry following nervously behind her. The silence was getting to him, he hoped McGonagall wasn't one of those people that anger built up into an explosion.
She stopped outside a classroom and poked her head inside. "Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"
Wood? Harry though with a bewildered expression. Surely Hogwarts didn't allow corporal punishment still!
That thought banished when a burly fifth-year boy came out of Flitwick's class looking confused.
"Follow me, you two," Professor McGonagall said, and then she marched on up the corridor. Wood looked curiously at Harry.
"In here." McGonagall said as she pointed them into a classroom that was empty, save for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard. Harry jumped as McGonagall barked, "Out, Peeves!"
The little poltergeist threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly, and swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face the two boys.
"Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood – I've found you a Seeker."
Wood's expression morphed from puzzlement to delight, "Are you serious, Professor?"
"Absolutely," Professor McGonagall said crisply. "The boy's a natural. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"
Harry nodded silently. Seeker? Him? He'd only seen one Quidditch match in his life. Maybe he wasn't in trouble, at least not really.
"He caught that thing after a fifty-foot dive," McGonagall said as she pointed toward the Remembrall still clutched in his hand. "Didn't even scratch himself. Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."
Wood looked as if all his dreams had come true at once.
"Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?" He asked excitedly.
"Wood's captain of the Gryffidnor team," McGonagall explained before Harry could answer.
"He's just the build for a Seeker, too," Wood said as he walked around Harry and sized him up. "Light – speedy – we'll have to get him a decent broom, Professor— a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I'd say."
Harry's eyes were wide at those words.
"I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bend the first-year rule. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn't look Severus in the face for weeks..."
Professor McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Harry. "I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you." Then she suddenly smiled. "Your father would have been proud. He was an excellent Quidditch player himself."
"She what?" Hermione practically screeched when he'd told her. "But... but..."
Harry nodded. "I know, right? I thought she was going to send a letter to Mum and Dad, or at least give me a tongue lashing."
It was dinnertime, and Harry had just finished telling Hermione what had happened. Across from him, Hermione starred at him with a bit of crumble pie half-way to her mouth. Then after a moment she set her fork down on the plate.
"Why did it have to be Quidditch... it's like— Rugby, but fifty feet up in the air!" Hermione said.
"More like football, actually." Harry said before snagging a slice of treacle tart from the plate before him.
"But, you're a first year. The last time anyone your age was a Seeker was in 1853!" Hermione stammered. "Harry..."
"I start training next week," Harry answered. "Please keep your voice down. It's supposed to be a secret."
Hermione huffed. "Why'd it have to be Quidditch?"
Harry just grinned at her.
Fred and George Weasley came into the hall, spotted Harry, and dropped into seats on either side of him. Harry glanced nervously between the two infamous pranksters.
"Well done," George said in a low voice. "Wood told us. We're on the team too- Beaters."
"I tell you, we're going to win that Cup for sure this year," Fred said. "We haven't won since Charlie left, but this year's team is going to be brilliant. You must be good, Harry, Wood was almost skipping when he told us."
"Anyway, we've got to go, Lee reckons he's found a new secret passageway out of the school."
"Bet it's the one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy that we found in our first week. See you."
Fred and George left and Harry stared after them for a long moment before Hermione asked. "Who's Charlie?"
"I don't know, but McGonagall said something about a 'Charlie Weasley' maybe a relative?" Harry said as he turned back toward his plate. Just then, someone far less welcome turned up: Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.
"Having a last meal, Potter? When are you getting the train back to the Muggles?"
Harry arched an eyebrow at the blond. "Who said anything about me leaving?" Then he smirked. "You're a lot braver now that you've got your two little gorillas back."
There wasn't anything small about Crabbe and Goyle, save perhaps their intellectual capacity, but there wasn't much they could do beside crack their knuckles and scowl while they were in the middle of the hall.
"I'd take you anytime on my own," Malfoy hissed. "Tonight, if you want. Wizard's duel. Wands only— no contact. What's the matter? Never heard of a wizards duel before, I suppose?"
"Of course we have," Hermione said as she glanced over her shoulder at Malfoy. "I'm his second, but why the middle of the night, Malfoy? If you want to do a proper duel it should be public, or are you afraid of someone witnessing your defeat?"
Malfoy's head snapped toward her as if he'd been slapped. Then he snarled. "Shut it, mudblood!"
A hiss of rage came from the Gryffindor table, and multiple wands were drawn at the insult, but before a single spell had cast, Harry shot to his feet. Harry stood glaring as rage flashed through his veins. "You want a duel, Malfoy? You'll have one. I demand satisfaction for that offense, Malfoy! Hermione will arrange it with your second, who is it?"
The blonde's eyes widened further at those words. "Arrange?"
"Perhaps you are the one that doesn't know dueling etiquette, Malfoy. The seconds arrange for the location and rules of the duel," Hermione said. Then she pursed her lips in thought, "Today is Thursday, and we've got classes today and tomorrow. Perhaps Saturday then?"
"Sounds good... So who is your second, Malfoy?" Hermione asked.
The blonde swallowed nervously before glancing at Crabbe and Goyle.
"Maybe you should choose someone with more than one brain cell shared between them?" Harry asked as he watched the two boys rather dumbfounded expressions.
"Now, you can apologize for stealing Neville's Remembrall and calling my sister a..." Harry frowned slightly and glanced at Hermione.
"Mudblood, not that such a word had much meaning to someone from the muggle world," Hermione stated.
Harry's expression hardened and he glared at Malfoy. "Yes, that. You can apologize now Malfoy, or we can duel... which will it be?"
The blonde's lip curled and his cheeks turned pink before he snarled. "I'll never apologize to the likes of her."
"Then, I guess we'll have to duel." Harry stated. "Who is your second?"
Draco's furious expression further hardened. "Crabbe."
"Seconds and principals?" Hermione asked in a conversational tone. "No contact, nothing lethal, nothing illegal, and duel until incapacitation?"
"Umm..." Crabbe mumbled.
"Yes, fine..." Malfoy cut him off.
"The courtyard on first floor, Saturday at ten?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, yes..." Malfoy growled.
"See you then," Harry said with a predatory smile as Malfoy suddenly seemed to realize what he'd agreed to. At the same time, a silence had filled the entire Great Hall as every set of eyes and ears were trained on the confrontation.
McGonagall had stepped toward the confrontation. As Malfoy retreated to the Slytherin table she stopped before Harry and looked down at him over her glasses. "Mr. Potter, is this really necessary?"
"Maybe not, but I think the ball is in Malfoy's court," Harry said with a shrug.
Nicolas Flamel watched the arrogant blonde boy sit amongst his green clad housemates and slowly shook his head. Beside him, Perenelle slowly pushed herself back from her plate as a look of disgust rolled across her face.
"It seems that in six centuries the Malfoy family hasn't changed all that much," Nicolas said in a flat tone.
Perenelle sniffed to herself. "The target of their disdain has changed a bit... but not their smug superior attitude."
The drow witch that sat to his other side chuckled lightly at those words. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Snape was seething inside as he stalked through the halls after Malfoy, finally cornering the boy in one of the staircases which lead down into the dungeons.
"Mr. Malfoy, what were you trying to accomplish?" Snape snapped at Draco as the blonde stumbled to a stop and looked up at him, his grey eyes widening. "Insulting a muggleborn surrounded by allies, in the middle of the Great Hall. I would have hoped your father would have taught you subtlety!"
Crabbe and Goyle glanced nervously between Snape and Draco, looking rather thick and stupid. With a scowl, Snape glared at the two of them. "Leave us!"
The two thuggish slytherins glanced one more time at Draco before turning and fleeing from their head of house. As they left, Snape turned back toward Draco. "Ten points from Slytherin for use of foul language and general Gryffindor-like stupidity!"
"And detention with me, tomorrow night," Snape finished.
This seemed to incite a reaction at least, as Malfoy glared up at him, "My father..."
"Your father may have spoken in such a manner among friendly company, but this school is not friendly company, Mr. Malfoy. In one word you have managed to make enemies of three quarters of the school." Snape snarled. "Why did you goad Potter into this?"
The doors to the Gryffindor first year boy's dorm room slammed shut behind the two of them, shutting the whispers that followed them after the confrontation between Harry and Malfoy. Hermione stood just inside the door, her wand dangling from her hand.
"I can't believe we just did that," Hermione said, her voice cracking as she spoke.
Harry nodded as his anger began fading. He turned to face his sister. "I know."
"Harry..." Her lower lip quivered. "Maybe we shouldn't have."
"It's too late now," He said. "I wasn't about to let him insult you like that, plus he was the one that wanted a duel."
"And so we gave him what he wanted?" Hermione stammered. "I know we should stand up to bullies, but maybe this was a mistake."
Harry glanced fondly at the girl that was his sister in all but blood. "Maybe... but I don't think he knows we can duel."
She nodded in turn before tightening her grip on her wand. "Do you think we should go practice some?"
"Probably, let's go find an empty classroom tomorrow and practice," Harry said before stepping up to his sister. "You okay?"
Hermione shakily nodded before looking up at him. "I... I just hate getting into trouble."
"We aren't in trouble though, and you sounded pretty confident."
She gave him a weak smile. "Doesn't mean I like fighting." Then she let out a long sigh. "I hope Mum won't be disappointed about this."
Albus Dumbledore sucked on a sherbet lemon in his office as he leaned back and stared up at the array of portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses of the venerable school. Many of the aging portraits were of little use. Some of the oldest portraits spoke in Old English, which was a language far closer to Norse then modern English. Other portrait's magic had faded over the centuries making the painted image freeze in its frame much like a muggle painting.
One of the spinning instruments on his desk squealed and squeaked as it spun. The sound sent a chill running down Albus's back as it reminded him of the sound he had heard all too often during the fight against Grindelwald. Staring at the spinning instrument, Albus's mind was cast back in time.
The squeal of sound filled the air as Albus crouched down beside the shattered remains of the wall. Outside the harsh guttural tones of voices shouting commands in German sent a chill running down his spine as a massive hulk of metal rolled over the ground on treads.
The muggle soldiers walked around the massive hulk, their weapons sweeping in all directions as the vehicle rumbled through the rubble with a pair of smoke plumes rising from the vehicle's exhaust. The mass of the vehicle's weight made the building itself shake as it rolled forward.
With a flash Albus found himself sitting back in his chair sucking on the sherbet lemon. The chill still lingered in the air for a long moment as he glanced toward the perch where Fawkes sat, grooming himself.
He shut his eyes and let out a long sigh. It had been forty-six years since he had dueled his old friend in that ruined German city and ended the threat that he represented. His mind drifted toward more recent events as he thought of the confrontation he had witnessed between the Potter boy and Draco Malfoy.
A duel would soon take place, and thanks to the rules and traditions of the school, he could not interfere.
Dueling was a common thing in the halls of Hogwarts, but it was a rare thing to be called in such a public place as the Great Hall during a meal. Something about those events seemed to be off, as though he was missing some clue to what had taken place.
The door to his office opened with a bang and Professor Snape stepped inside, his robes billowing around him as he stalked over toward him. His dark eyes glinted menacingly before he sat down in a seat across from Albus.
"I have spoken with Draco." Snape said in a flat voice. "It seems that he was under the impression that he could trick Mr. Potter into being caught by Filch out of bounds by calling for a midnight duel."
Albus frowned slightly at that as he looked up at the potions professor. "Did he admit to this?"
"No, but Lucius has not yet begun to teach him the art of Occlumency," Snape stated. "Draco believed that Potter would not be versed on the rules and traditions of dueling. When he revealed that he knew of said traditions, Draco was caught in his own trap." A sneer slid across his lips. "It seems Potter has a bit of cunning in him after all. I have also assigned Draco a detention with me for the use of that word."
Albus knew which word it was that Snape was referring to. Despite his history and reputation, there was one surefire way to land oneself in detention with Snape as a Slytherin: using the term 'mudblood' within his earshot.
"Why has Mr. Malfoy decided to target Harry? It seems that for things to have already escalated to this point, Mr. Malfoy must have some reason for his actions, beyond that of simple house rivalry," Albus stated.
Severus's frown deepened. "Draco is under the impression that the muggles which are Harry's guardians embarrassed his father at the Wizengamot."
Albus stood up and walked over toward a window that looked out over the grounds. "The Grangers are a rather fascinating pair of muggles, Severus. They managed to demonstrate an intelligence and understanding of our world beyond that of most members of that august body. Lucius was forced to withdraw a motion to have Harry placed at a wizarding family due to their defense at the Wizengamot. Being beaten by 'mere' muggles no doubt rubbed him the wrong way."
Severus nodded. "So we are going to allow this duel to go forward then?"
"I am afraid that is all we can do, Severus."
Kim Hunter stared through the glass window across Charing Cross Road as the shadows lengthened from the setting sun. A legal pad sat at the table, filled with notes as she looked toward the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, observing the odd folk that stepped out of its doors.
Supposedly, it should have been invisible to her eyes thanks to the muggle repelling charms placed on its entrance, but she could see it plain as day. Perhaps they had worn off ages ago and no one had noticed, or perhaps her experience with the wizarding world gave her some form of immunity.
She'd found the simple cafe across the street to be a brilliant place to observe the border between the 'wizarding world' and the modern one, and a rented room in the apartments above the cafe made for an ideal spot to watch the entrance to Diagon Alley.
The staff seemed to have gotten used to the oddities of the wizards long ago, and not a one seemed to raise an eyebrow at the appearance of a man clad in a cloak or robes walking down the street. A few of these oddities had even stopped for lunch in the cafe a few days earlier, and Kim had found an abandoned copy of the Daily Prophet outside in an alley.
She wasn't alone in the watch, not anymore. With a solid lead and information she'd been able to get a few other agents assigned to the task of watching the wizarding world. For now, that was all they would do.
In a file atop her legal pad was the last report that the Grangers had made, she'd read it three times already, but it told her very little she hadn't known already.
The door to the cafe opened with a clang and Kim straightened up in her seat as a figure clad in a black leather jacket stepped inside, followed by a rather tattered looking man dressed in threadbare khakis and a sweater.
"I can't believe Harry did that," the figure in the sweater said. "He hasn't even been there for a month, for Merlin's sake."
Kim tensed, her gaze locking onto the two figures as they glanced around the table for a moment. Then the one in the leather jacket pointed toward a table barely five feet from her seat.
The two of them looked normal, but the invocation of Merlin drew her attention.
The man in the leather jacket had long black hair that fell to either side of his face in waves and curls along with a mustache. His dark brown-eyed gaze flicked to her before turning back to his companion.
"We dueled plenty when we were there, Remus."
The man in khakis sighed. "I know... but we didn't do it within two weeks of arriving, and it was you and James that dueled."
"I seem to remember a slytherin or two that would claim different." The mustached man said. "Lily dueled plenty too."
"That was different, Sirius!" Remus snapped back at the man before sitting down with a heavy thump in the chair.
As the man named Sirius sat down, Kim Hunter leaned back in her seat with one ear turned toward them.
"I honestly don't see how," Sirius said. "Hermione was insulted in front of the whole school by Malfoy."
"And his father is a school governor, Sirius. Lucius will make things difficult for Harry, I'm sure," Remus said. "As if dragging the Grangers into a custody fight wasn't enough."
Sirius leaned forward. "Harry called him out, as is his right!" He scowled. "I'd have called Severus out for an insult like that, and you know it."
"I thought Hermione would have kept him from doing something this rash, not be his second!" Remus said finally.
"Family is more than blood. She's his sister. That's enough," Sirius said.