AN: A few things to mention this time. Firstly, thank you to everyone who reviews. Your reactions to my chapters make it much easier to tell whether I've hit the mark or not. I know some of you might not see the point, but believe me, it makes my job much easier.
Secondly, I've come to the realisation that I really do need another beta. If anyone is willing to put up with dealing with all the earlier chapters, please contact me.
Disclaimer: I don't own HP
"So, it seems that the young Miss Tonks was right," said Dumbledore sitting in his office with Alastor, Minerva, Shacklebolt and Snape. They all ignored the small whirring and clacking sounds coming from various devices strewn around the office. This impromptu meeting was of grave importance.
Alastor had the good grace to look shame-faced. "I just didn't see the use of posing as a squib," he said tiredly. "Then again, I didn't think of how invisible they tend to be. If I'd thought Whateley's death was important I would have contacted you. I'm getting too old for this Albus. I'm missing things. Me! Mad Eye Moody!" He said these last words with a snarl, staring morosely into his tea cup, both eyes fixed in place.
"I must say that I did not suspect him," said Albus in an attempt at comfort. "Whoever Andrew truly is, he's extremely talented."
"I spoke to one of the unspeakables," said Moody, looking up at last. "They wouldn't give me a straight answer, but they did hint that it might have been Arsene Lupin, one of the leading professors at Beauxbatons. Apparently he's been the suspect in a wide number of similar crimes and he recently went missing."
"Have we heard anything back from Gornuk?" asked Minerva nervously. "If he's in the Continent he might know more. Maybe he could even lead us to the stone."
Dumbledore shook his head. "I doubt we'll hear from him for a while, if at all. I've sent the message to a drop box which I believe he uses, but I believe Gornuk will simply act on the information on his own."
Minerva sniffed angrily at this. "Very well Albus. I doesn't make our lives any easier though."
"Yes it does," countered Moody, much to her surprise. "He's done some serious damage to the Death Eater cause already. If anyone can help, I suspect it'll be Gornuk."
"Indeed," said Albus thoughtfully. "There is not much more that we can achieve with talking. Moving onto other matters, I was wondering what we would do about the DADA position now that Kingsley is about ready to go back to Auror duties."
"Don't you think there are larger issues Albus?" Minerva asked exasperated "We were talking about the potential resurrection of V-Voldemort. Surely staffing considerations can come later."
"I do not believe they can," said Albus calmly. "The last war was fought mostly with ideology and fear, something that works best on our youngest. There is a reason Voldemort managed to sway so many young people to his side. They are more impressionable and easier to manipulate. I think it would be vital to ensure that this doesn't happen again." He paused for a moment. "Of course there are other discussions to be had, but everyone I wish to talk to is currently here and it would make all of our lives easier to get them out of the way sooner rather than later."
"Very well," then said Minerva with a huff. "Do you have any suggestions Albus?"
"Just one," said the old man, his eyes twinkling. "I would like Alastor to retire from his work as an auror and take the Defence Against The Dark Arts position for the year." Albus waited for a moment, waiting for the objections and arguments to die down. "Does anyone want to hear my reasons for this proposal?" he asked, glancing sternly at the people sitting in front of him.
"Please," said Severus through clenched teeth, his eyes blazing with fury. "Enlighten us."
"Very well," said Albus. "Well, provided there are no more interruptions, my reasons are as follows. Firstly, there is the fact that Moody has decades of experience in the field. Yes Severus, I know you have experience as well, but we both know you could not take the job for more than a year. Alastor however, has been talking about retiring for the best part of a decade. Would you agree Alastor?"
Moody nodded grudgingly. "It's true Albus. But I never said I wanted to teach!"
Albus smiled. "I know Alastor, but there are other reasons that I wish to elaborate. You are also one of the most paranoid men alive."
"Hey!" Moody yelled, actually looking quite affronted now. "It's not paranoia, it's preparedness! Most people don't understand how dangerous the dark arts is! What it does to you! How it's used to hurt and control! What kind of man it'll turn you into." This last comment was made with his magical eye fixed on Severus, who looked about ready to curse him.
"Indeed," said Albus, before the conversation turned to violence. "And by your argument Alastor, can you imagine anyone better suited to teach the subject to the students. They do need to know Alastor and you might just be one of the few men both willing to tell them and capable of ensuring the message sinks in."
"Oh," said Moody, deflating a little. "I see what you did there. Any other reasons?"
"Well it would ensure another talented wand at Hogwarts once Kingsley leaves," said Albus, smiling beatifically.
"Surely you can't be serious!" shouted Severus, almost leaping to his feet. A stern glare from the headmaster stopped him in his tracks.
"I am Severus. I know you may not like the man, but you'll simply have to learn to work with him." Albus watched as his potions master reluctantly sank back into his seat. "Now, onto another point. Kingsley, I believe you will now be needing a new partner once you return to work."
The large man, who had not spoken through all the arguments and discussions raging around him nodded. "I'm assuming you have another suggestion, Professor?"
"Yes, yes I do." Albus had to focus for a moment. That man's voice was seriously appealing. "I was thinking I might use some of my political influence to fast-track Nymphadora Tonks to a full auror position. Her instincts seem to be excellent and we could use another auror when we restart the Order of the Pheonix."
"The Order of the Pheonix?" Kingsley's eyes had widened. "You're formally restarting it?"
Albus nodded. "As formally as a secret organisation can be I suppose. But for now, what do you think of my suggestion Kingsley?"
Kingsley shook his head as if to clear it. "I think it's excellent. Trainee Tonks was always one of the most promising recruits I ever dealt with and she's surprisingly easy to deal with. What do you think Alastor?" he asked, turning to his friend.
Moody nodded thoughtfully. "She might have flailed a little at first, but the girl really came into her own over the course of our work together. She may well be your best option Shacklebolt."
"Very well," said Albus. "I'll make some floo-calls. Now, onto restarting the Order."
Quirrell caught Rita off guard, pulling her into a long kiss. "Mmphh?" He took his time before pulling back, smiling.
"What's happened?" she said, straightening her jewelled glasses at looking at him, alarmed. "You haven't touched me in weeks and now this?"
A pang of guilt coursed through him before he quashed it. He could not have touched her with the way he had been feeling. It would have been unfair on her. Wrong. Swallowing, he tried to find the words. "We have the stone," he said after a few more moments of staring at her with a smile on his face.
"What!?" The word came out as a squeal and she threw her arms around him. "How long before we can be out of this hell-hole?"
Quirrell smiled into her shoulder. "It will be a little while I'm afraid. The stone's still in the Mirror of Erised and we might be a while before finding someone who can retrieve it. After that, we still have to remove any booby traps on the thing and modify the ritual to ensure our safety, but soon. I think we can see the end of-"
His words were cut off as she kissed him and started pushing him backwards. As he wandlessly closed the door he smiled into her lips. Talking could probably wait for later.
Harry was sitting by the lake again, lost in thought. Dumbledore hadn't been willing to tell him everything that had happened, but he had warned him that Quirrell had managed something that might be able to bring back Voldemort sooner than expected. He wasn't certain how he was supposed to feel about that. Scared? He'd been scared on some fundamental level for a long time now, ever since the trip to Gringotts before first year. So no, he wasn't scared by the thought of Voldemort or Tom or whatever he liked to call himself coming back. At least, no more scared than normally.
Angry? Not really either. Voldemort might have killed his parents, but he'd already suffered at the hands of Quirrell and the young Tom from the diary far more immediately. In fact, though he was angry at Voldemort on some basic level, Quirrell was the person his anger was usually directed at.
In fact, Harry was feeling rather apathetic about the entire issue. So he'd be in danger from a mad bastard who wanted him dead? How was that any different from when Quirrell had a go at killing him? Or young Tom? He was quite certain they'd both been off their rocker. What's more, if he was like Tom, which he probably was, Voldemort would probably start monologuing at some point and Harry could leg it while he was distracting himself.
If he kept his head down and his friends close, Harry didn't think that Voldemort's physical presence would change much at all. Everyone he cared about would be in danger, but that didn't seem like a change. Harry had a feeling the wizarding world was just full of evil bastards and wasn't certain that which evil bastard made any difference.