Hello! Now, you might be surprised that I updated so quickly but there is a reason for this, and for those of you who read In Memory of the Fallen, you might be feeling betrayed.
And I am sorry for that.
My computer basically crashed and caught a virus, which it turned out that deleted most of my work (I wrote some upcoming scenes as I couldn't get them out of my head and they were annoying me. I couldn't think of anything else) which included the In Memory of the Fallen chapter.
BUT, by some weird freak accident (and miracle), my computer uploaded this chapter to fanfiction and promptly deleted only HALF of the chapter. So, I have decided to give you it now because apparently by the time the computer is fixed, I will be on holiday in Scotland on a adventure course (with no Wi-Fi but then I'm staying at my Granny's so I will update then).
Therefore, please can you not kill me for the shortness of the chapter, or in the way it ended...
P.S The first half of this is going to go back in time, to the day after the Food Fight and all will be explained (as to why Merlin is backtracking, that is)
Merlin's Guide as to Why You Shouldn't be Voldemort
Chapter 31 –A Mystery to Solve
There were two things that helped the Ancient Warlock take his mind off the upcoming celebrations. One was, in an abstract kind of way, a gift. The other? A mystery.
And one that Merlin was desperate to solve.
And it wasn't any ordinary mystery either; or at least, a Merlin mystery where he has to figure out who's planning to kill who, or who slipped the love potion to Arthur, or who's undercover for who.
Nothing like that – well, maybe an insy winsy ickle wickle tiny winy bit...
It seemed to make perfect sense to him that there was a mystery to solve after the... incident which occurred during the Great Hall during breakfast the following day after the Greatest Food and Magic fight (all 'friendly' fire), Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, had ever known.
Going down to breakfast the next day with Harry and the others was a surreal experience for Merlin. The previous day, all of the lessons had been cancelled (meaning no double Umbridge) as the teachers slaved to clean up the Great Hall or accompanied Madame Pomfrey for the more complicated spells that needed to be cast on the students that had been Spelled on.
Everybody was chattering away as they entered the Hall were breakfast took place. Walking down to where Neville was already sitting at the far end of the hall, closest to the Staff Table, Merlin could hear people's conversations around him. Gossip and news always spread fast in Hogwarts (which the Ancient Warlock had already noted more than once), so it was no surprise that of course, everybody was talking about the prank that 'Peeves' had pulled on the school.
"My favourite one has got to be Malfoy!" Harry argued good naturedly with Neville, Dean, Seamus and the Golden Trio with Merlin.
"Nah," Dean discounted immediately, "There were better ones."
"But come on Dean!" Seamus protested loudly, "Malfoy singing was hilarious! "
There was a shocked silence at this and Merlin grinned broadly. It seemed that the Daily Prophet's campaign against Harry was weakening slightly as Seamus had just agreed with Harry for the first time since it had started. Everybody looked at each other nervously, not wanting to say anything in case the Irish blew up again and rejected the 'Golden One's' claim.
"So a singing Slytherin is better than Goyle being turned into a frozen drag Queen?
"What?" Hermione gasped, her eyes dancing with mirth as she beheld what Dean had argued against Seamus with.
"I heard about that," Neville commented, a frown line briefly appearing above his eyes as he tried to think, "Luna told me, I think. It was the result of two charms combining when they hit him, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, it was a combination of Glacius and Vestes venite' – or at least, that's what McGonagall thinks. I overheard her telling Flitwick."
"He was frozen in position, wasn't he?"
Sean's eyes lit up and he struggled to contain his laughter as he replied.
"He must have fallen onto the floor when the charm hit him, because he was sprawled out on his side with his head resting on his hand and one of his legs bent. The skirt he had been wearing had –like- blown up and his bright red lipsticked lips were pursed."
"God, I hope Creevey managed to get a picture." Ron muttered.
"Creevey?" Merlin asked, interested. "Who's he?"
"Colin Creevey is a... fourth year Gryffindor," Hermione explained, "And he likes taking photos-"
"You can say that again," Harry muttered sarcastically. "He's wanted to take my photo for four years."
"You forgot how he started a fan club for you," Neville commented, with a hint of a grin appearing at the corners of his mouth.
"Anyway" Hermione cut in, wanting to continue her explanation to the Former Manservant," he's a good photographer and he usually has his camera with him at all times. There was talk n the Common Room last night- surely you must have heard it- about how he managed to get pictures of the ones who had got hit with the spells."
"He's a marvel with photos," Seamus cut in, "Really good."
Merlin frowned for a while, before hesitatingly, he said; "Uh- what's a camera?"
After being besieged by a barrage of information Merlin noticed with relief that food had appeared on the table and hastily began to eat, thus stopping the others (namely Seamus, Neville and Dean) from asking him why he didn't know what a camera was.
It was the Old Man's fault after all. He had been in his Waking Dreams for at least... seventy years, if not more. He forgot when exactly he fell asleep, but Merlin supposed that that was just old age for you. The notion of having an instrument that took photos was scary to Merlin – he always thought that when moving pictures appeared in a book or newspaper (like the infamous one where Umbridge was bold) it was simply someone's memory being imposed on the paper.
He thought on this as he popped the hash browns on his plate and began to cut them up. He was just about to put one delicious, golden brown piece in his mouth when-
"What the hell-"Ron started as everybody ducked down at the Gryffindor Table, lying low over their food to avoid being hit.
"Orlaithe! What do you think you are doing?" Merlin demanded as his bird made another pass, the hash brown already have'n disappeared down her gullet before coming to a stop in front of her owner.
"Control that bird Myrddin!" Ron complained loudly.
She chirped angrily at the Red Head and hopped over towards him. She stood there, staring deep into the Ginger's eyes as he stared back defiantly, although Merlin could see the hint of fear in his expression. She leaned forward slowly, as if to peck him sharply on the nose. Ron gulped and his eyes dropped.
"Burn," Dean laughed.
Immediately, she turned away, to once again stand in front of Merlin, who gazed down at her, not intimated in the slightest.
"Well, Orlaithe? I'm waiting."
She chirped, gazing at Merlin, and then hopped closer and closer, till her beak was practically pressing against Merlin's nose, before suddenly reaching down to peck the rest of the hash brown of his plate.
"I think she's just hungry," Hermione observed, gazing at her.
Orlaithe promptly stood up, and began to weave her way agitatedly around the various utensils on the table, flapping her wings every now and again and chirping with more consistently.
"No, 'Mione," Neville commented, gazing at the Merlin. "I don't think it is. Look, she's clearly agitated at something."
Orlaithe almost seemed to nod her head at Neville, confirming Merlin's belief in what the boy had stated. She began to chirp faster and faster, urgency apparent in her voice.
"Whoa, slow down old bird."
"Good one, Myrddin!" Harry laughed, but his amusement quickly vanished at Merlin's quip when Orlaithe turned to glare at him before turning back round to face her Master.
She chirped again and looked at Merlin with such intensity in her gaze that the Old Man knew that it was important, though he didn't know what the matter with her was. She began to squawk more persistently, her head moving between the door and back to Merlin, willing for him to understand.
Everybody gazed at the bird as she tried to tell them something. It was almost like a game of charades, except that it was with an animal who couldn't speak, so they couldn't rely on verbal clues.
"Something's wrong," Neville realised.
"Never," Dean commented drily.
"What's coming Orlaithe?" Merlin asked suddenly.
There was quiet at the table now as everybody was fixated on the Merlin. She seemed relieved that somebody had managed to work out what she was trying to say and now enunciated each chirp slower, though with increasing tension. Orlaithe cocked her head to the side, apparently listening to something, hard.
So Merlin also listened.
After all, his hearing was better than an ordinary human's, and although he had yet to try it out, was probably (or perhaps even surpassed) Orlaithe's, although he wasn't sure.
And so he listened.
And for a moment, he heard something.
A little whisper, a whisper of the past, a whisper of the future, a whisper of everything in-between.
"Long live the King."
"Help! Someone, please help me!"
A girl ran into the room, her pale blond hair flowing behind her as she ran up between the Ravenclaw and the Gryffindor Tables towards the High Table, where the Professors were sitting, eating their breakfast.
"Morsague?" Merlin whispered, his mind beginning to move again after he had frozen in shock of what he had heard.
"Please! Please, I need your help. He's got him – he's got him and locked up in the dungeon!"
"Who?" The Headmaster asked calmly, surveying the Slytherin Girl through his half moon glasses from his position in the centre of the staff Table.
"Malcolm. We must go. N-not a minute to lose!"
"Whoa!" Neville said, turning suddenly pale.
"Slow down, Miss Ritesse. Who's got Mr McGine locked in a dungeon?" The Headmaster of Hogwarts once again queried.
"A man! He's in the Entrance Hall!"
"Is he a tall man?" Students began to jeer from around the hall.
"Does he have a beard?"
"A long beard!"
"Is he old?"
"Yes! Yes! Will you help me?" She besieged, gazing up at the Headmaster, her beautiful brown eyes almost filling with tears.
"Of course, Miss Ritesse. We will 'get him out'," Dumbledore confirmed, before speaking in low tones with McGonagall who was sitting to him in her usual position of Deputy Headmistress. Silently, the Scot stood up and moved towards the entrance, presumably to check out the Slytherin's story. Umbridge too, stood up and followed her out.
"You will? Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
People began to talk around Merlin, and it was clear that none of them believed the poor girl. She stood there, in the view of the entire school. She was facing away from the Staff Table and the Gryffindor Tale and her shoulders were shaking.
"Crazy old Morsague," Somebody commented.
"She's always good for a laugh," Another student agreed.
"'Crazy old Morsague' hmm," Merlin mused, "Crazy old Maurice. Hmmm."
He continued to gaze at the sobbing girl from Slytherin. She had turned around in her grief and was now facing the Gryffindor Table where Merlin was, of course, sitting. Forcefully, the Former Manservant tore his gaze away from her and to the 'Golden One' who was sitting opposite him.
"Harry, you see I've been thinking-"
"A dangerous pastime-" Harry countered jokingly.
"-I know. But you see that girl is from Slytherin, and you say their 'Light' is only 'so-so'."
Harry nodded, with Ron and the others joining in.
"Now the wheels in my head have been turning, since I looked at that poor, crying girl. See, I've promised myself I'd be unprejudiced and right now I think she's alright."
There were murmurs of disagreement around Merlin as he said this, though nobody out rightly contradicted with him. Morsague's head suddenly shot up and her eyes locked with Merlin's. They stared at each other for a moment, brown tearful eyes meeting steady cobalt blue.
And then she started to run towards him.
"Wha-" Merlin just had time to say before she hit him and clutched at the Ancient Warlock, who albeit confused and no used to be touched like that (or even being attacked all for to have a hug) had just enough humanity left in him to hug her back and gently started to pat her back, although it was with a rather awkward motion.
Her arms seemed to be locked in place around his neck as she buried her head into his shoulder. Morsague cried while she did this and the tears only worsened when Merlin tried to comfort her.
"Th-thank (sniff) y-you (sniff) for (sniff) b-believe - sniff -ing (sniff) in (sniff) m-m-me (sniff)." She sniffed her voice wobbling as she let her distress known. Merlin could feel his school cloak slowly being soaked as the salty water landed on it, but he didn't mind.
"Well, uh, that's okay Morsague."
"Myrddin, mate," Ron protested loudly, "What you doing?"
"She's a Slytherin for god's sake!"
"Slytherin's have feelings too, Ronald," Luna gently reprimanded the Ginger.
The Ancient Warlock had no idea where she came from, but he was glad that the Natural Seer had turned up. Ever since the episode where she had been possessed by the Triple Goddess, she had gained respect by the Golden Trio and Merlin was glad of that.
"Are you going to say that most Slytherins are evil, Ron?" Luna asked, her voice dropped so that it was quite, which seemed to make her all the more menacing. "Evil can feel, Evil can hurt. Evil causes pain and Evil once was good. You should not prejudge. Isn't that right, Harry?"
She turned to the Boy-Who-Lived, who seemed to be frozen in position as he stared at the True Seer. All she did was stare back, before her eyes softened and she relaxed.
"Only those with true darkness in their Soul do not feel. And although many border upon the edge, there are still some qualities that they have which make them human. You should remember that, when the time comes. Age can either harden people, or make them see the error of your ways."
She turned to where Merlin stood with the sobbing girl in his arms. The Former Manservant could now feel the looks he was getting as more and more people noticed that a Gryffindor was hugging a Slytherin and the whispers began to start up again, but he didn't care and in response only hugged Morsague harder.
"Look at that!"
"Beware evil's child."
"Always knew he was a bad egg."
"Dishonouring the House's traditions!"
"Slytherins and Gryffindors do not mix!"
"Aww, isn't he cute?"
"It is never too late," Luna said quietly, "To change. It is never too late."
"You're s-s-so n-n-nice t-to m-me," Morsague cried. Merlin was just about to reply with a statement designed to cheer her up when the Great Hall suddenly fell silent, as the sounds of shouting – or more specifically, Umbridge with McGonagall protesting– at someone.
"Can everyone, please remain seated," Dumbledore boomed from his position at the Head of the Hall after people began to stand up to see what all of the commotion was about.
"Who's shouting that?"
"Intruder in the Castle!"
"I know you're there somewhere! Come out where I can see you!"
"I belong here! I'm not an Intruder, I swear!"
"Dolores, calm down. I am sure that this can all be explained."
"Professor McGonagall? Is that you?"
There was the sound of fast moving footsteps, each echoing through the Hall as they came nearer and nearer to the Entrance. And then they appeared.
"How did you get in here, hmm?"
"I live at this castle! Don't you recognise me?"
"This is a School of Magic. We teach students not old men."
"Old men!" Someone repeated softly. "Did you hear what she said?"
"Morsague was telling the truth," A boy realised.
"I-I t-told you so," Morsague stuttered. She clutched Merlin harder, adding, "I t-told th-them. Wh-why d-d-didn't th-they b-b-believe me?"
"How did you get into the Entrance Hall?"
"I came from my Common Room!"
"Professor Umbridge, calm down. We should all go and talk reasonably before we jump to any conclusions!"
"Oh really. So if you came from your Common Room," Umbridge said, clearly not believing whoever it was. "Then how are you not in your uniform? That is, after all, you did say you are being taught here."
"Because I was going to breakfast!"
Professor McGonagall strode into the Great Hall, her robes billowing behind her and her mouth set into a thin, straight line. Behind her walked Umbridge, her short stubby legs ensuring that she couldn't keep up. And beside her...
Was an Old Man, who had somehow been stuffed inside a Hufflepuff's uniform, which judging by its size, was around Third Year standard. A long beard (although Merlin was pleased to note that it wasn't as long as his) wove its way down, before coming to a stop in line with the solar plexus. The hair too, was long, but it grew in messy locks which stuck up all over. He was peering about, making it clear that he couldn't see very well and his back was slightly hunched.
"Why's everybody staring at me?" The Old Man asked, and his voice was quivering, showing his confusion. "Why don't any of you believe me?"
"Because," Professor McGonagall said wearily, "It is highly improbably that we have been teaching you and yet we have not noticed that there had been an old man in our lessons. Surely you agree?"
"But I'm not old," He cried out and although he was protesting, his voice wavered. Merlin didn't think that was his fault though; it was probably the old vocal chords. "I'm only fourteen!"
There was a shocked silence and then Merlin could see the exact moment when Professor McGonagall put all the bits of information together.
"Mr McGine?" She half whispered. "Mister Malcolm McGine?"
"Yes, yes!" The Third Year Hufflepuff shouted and he punched his hand up in the air. Unfortunately, because he had forgotten that he was in his old body, when he straightened up he immediately had to return slouching, groaning loudly.
Merlin felt sympathy towards him; after all, he did know how it felt.
And immediately, the Great Hall burst into laughter as they beheld the sight of the seventy eight year old version of a Third Year Hufflepuff looking around, confused.
"Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Old before your time, doesn't it?"
"Hey, hey, I've got one!"
"Yeah, what is it? Better be good."
"Well, you know how Hufflepuff's colours are yellow and black-"
"Hence the nickname 'Bumblebees'-"
"My god that describes them soo well! They're not scary at all-"
"Excuse me but I was talking!"
"Anyway, he could be one of the Golden Oldies!"
A moment of silence.
"You know, Crawford that was actually a good joke..."
"Why thank you."
But Merlin quickly brought his attention back to the scene at hand, not the conversations around him as he noticed Madame Pomfrey, after casting one last disparaging look at her chicken pie, seemed to take note of the proceedings.
"Hospital Wing now, I think." Madame Pomfrey sighed slightly as she stood up from her position on the High Table and stepped down of the dais, to where Malcolm stood. "Come along, Mr Malcolm."
As the procession walked out of the hall, Merlin turned back to the situation at hand and to somehow detach himself from Morsague.
"You see?" He queried, "He's fine, Morsague. Do you want to go to the Hospital Wing?"
"Yes," She breathed shakily, and trembling she began to unwind herself from the Ancient Warlock. "Yes. Uh... Th-thank you."
She stood and stepped backwards, away from the Old Man. Her red rimmed eyes met his with a cool, steely gaze and Merlin could see a curious emotion in them. For that one moment, she seemed to be uncaring about the recent events and almost seemed... Amused? He stared into them, trying to decipher it, but then it was gone, and the gaze of a guilt ridden child who had lost someone they cared for returned.
"Uh, no problem, Morsague."
And then she was gone.
It was some time later – when they were in Transfiguration – that Merlin managed to put it all together, and realise the full extent of what was going on. Professor McGonagall hadn't been able to turn up for the lesson – she had sent a substitute which was Flitwick to cover for her – because she was in the Hospital Wing tending to Malcolm. Apparently, even after three hours, the skilled Transfiguration Mistress and Healer couldn't sort the poor boy out.
"But surely," Hermione whispered to Merlin when Harry pointed out the reason for her disappearance after she began to stress about inadequate tutorage in their OWL year, "It should be easily fixable? Especially seeing as a student must have Cast it yesterday when Fred and George decided to play that prank on us."
Her disapproving tone signalled to Merlin that she hadn't found the events as amusing as the others, though perhaps she was just falling behind her Prefect mask.
"And," Ron added, backing Hermione up. "McGonagall's brilliant at Transfiguration. She would have transformed him in no time. It must be something else that's holding her up."
"Umbridge," Harry supplied grimly. "Didn't you see all the fuss she was making yesterday after her suit was stained bogey green?"
"Yes," Merlin replied, acknowledging all of their points with an incline of his head. "But something's still nagging me about this and I cannot understand why."
"You need to relax, mate," Ron said. "You've been jumpy for a while now and you're getting worse."
"I can't help it," Merlin murmured. He continued to talk, half to himself and half to the others as they began their tasks of Transfigurating a tortoise into a teapot – points were taken off if it had a patterned shell or remained vaguely reptilian. "It's getting nearer to Samhain-"
"What's that?" Harry asked.
"Halloween, Harry! You should know that; Professor Binns was talking about it today-"
"That explains it," Ron said seriously.
"You really should listen more Ronald! What happens if I decide not to let you copy my notes?"
"So what happens at Halloween?" Harry continued softly, ignoring the bickering that had now developed into an argument between Ron and Hermione.
"The Spirit World is the closest it ever is to the Living World. Evil is powerful around this time, although Love is also stronger, but for a different reason. Old Magic is much more active because of the Spirit World and as such, it is easier to Cast Spells –"
Merlin stopped suddenly, his voice failing him even though his mouth continued to move, outlining each syllable.
"Myrddin?" Harry asked
But the Old Warlock ignored him and continued to think, deep in thought. There was no way, no way surely that what he suspected had happened? It couldn't have... could it?
"How long has McGonagall been away again?"
"More than three hours but-"
Merlin shot out of his chair so fast that it knocked over. Flitwick saw this and bumbled over, but before he could say anything, Merlin cut in first.
"Sir, I need to go. It's- it's- I need to see Professor McGonagall now. It's about Magic." He whispered the last sentence, his voice have'n gone quieter and quieter the further he spoke to the Teacher. Professor Flitwick looked at him, and then his eyes softened before he nodded.
"Go. If you have not come back by the end of this lesson, I expect you to catch up on anything you have missed and to complete the homework. Do you understand, Mr Ambrosia?"
"Yes, Professor. Thank you!"
"Where is he?" Merlin demanded as he strode into the Hospital Wing, causing the doors to bounce slightly off the wall before crashing back into their normal position.
"Mr Ambrosia, you should be in lessons-"
"Where is he? Where is Malcolm?" Merlin cut across Madame Pomfrey who had appeared from behind a curtain.
Immediately, Merlin hurried over, slipping past the School Nurse and around the curtain. There, sitting on the bed was Malcolm. Beside him, Professor McGonagall had just collapsed into a chair, exhaustion etched on her face. She became more alert though, when the Ancient Warlock appeared before her.
"Mr Ambrosia, you are supposed to be in my lesson! Why are you out? Are you ill? Is it something with," She lowered her voice so that Malcolm couldn't hear her, "Your Magic?"
"In a way, yes." Merlin replied in a roundabout way. He glanced at Malcolm and noticed for the first time that there were pillows supporting at his back and said sympathetically; "It's not so great being in an old body, is it Malcolm?"
"No, it's not." Malcolm sighed and closed his eyes.
Merlin stood and beckoned McGonagall and Pomfrey to come outside of the curtain. They followed him, rather confused but curious all the same.
"I'm guessing you haven't been able to De-Age him then?" The Ancient Warlock stated.
"No." The Mistress of Transfiguration frowned momentarily, in unison with the School Nurse. "I even flooed the Headmaster and he didn't have any suggestions. If we can't De-Age him, we'll have to send him to St Mungo's to sort him out which will make matters with the Ministry worse."
"There's no points in sending him to St Mungo's; they won't be able to do anything."
"And why's that, Mr Ambrosia?" Madame Pomfrey inquired. "They are much better equipped for this sort of thing."
"Because it wasn't a normal aging spell. Old Magic has been used and the Hospital will not be able to sort that out."
"You mean to say that you did this to him?" Professor McGonagall's voice was incredulous, though that was swiftly morphing into anger.
"No." Merlin replied simply. "I didn't do this. The only spell I cast in the Great Hall that day was a shield charm."
"But then if you didn't cast the spell," Madame Pomfrey said with confusion, "Then who did?"
Mwahahaha! CLIFF HANGERS ARE IMMENSE!
Now, to aid those bright brains that I am sure all of you own, I have also hidden some clues in the previous chapter as to whom the Old Magic user could be.
Have fun finding them!
P.S. For those who do not know, over the summer holidays, I am now only allowed to go on the computer for one hour a day! This is helped slightly that I can get fanfiction on my phone (so I can read all of my stories while on the move and then just write) but I also check things up using Merlinwiki or HarryPotterwiki which does take up a lot of time.
Just a warning.
One Prophecy (half fulfilled)
Second half of the Sorting Hat's (and a bit more in depth); three/four chapters time (aftermath)
One VERY irate Umbridge
One Smart Arse Merlin (hint hint) "I am who I am,who I was and who I will be."