Disclaimer: All your base are belong to JK Rowling.

I am indebted to Myst Shadow's Forging the Sword for the idea of the Defence curriculum presented in this chapter.

Chapter 17

Harry and Hermione woke tired the next morning. Both of their roommates had kept them up late with questions, although Ron Weasley hadn't been too bad after already having spent the whole day on the train with them. It wasn't the best way to start the school year, but they had slept quite well in what time they had. There was something about being surrounded by the magic of the castle that felt warm and comforting—almost like being home after a long holiday.

They met up in the Common Room to go down to breakfast together, relying on strength in numbers. This proved to be wise, since they already had to politely parry away some overeager admirers in the Common Room who hadn't got a chance to meet Harry the previous night. Then, as they walked through the corridors, they were sure they saw some of the passing faces twice, or even three times, doubling back to get another look. They allowed Ron and Neville Longbottom to walk close by them, though, since those two were somewhat less starstruck than everyone else.

One of the more impressive sights at Hogwarts was the morning post delivery, when well over a hundred owls came winging their way into the Great Hall dropping off letters and parcels to the students. Hedwig flew down and dropped off a copy of The Daily Prophet, and Hermione fed her some bacon.

"Huh," Harry said, looking over the paper. "We're not all over the front page."

"Hmm, the Sorting was pretty late. I guess not even magic could help Rita Skeeter get a story to press that fast," Hermione mused. "But I'm sure we'll be in there tomorrow—or at least you will."

"Oh, you'll be in, too, Mione. Remember how Cousin Andi said everyone would go nuts over the 'Boy-Who-Lived Raised by Muggles!' story?"

She remembered. The timing was certainly unfortunate. The sharks would be circling from all sides to tie the story to their position on the Muggle Protection Act. It was tempting to think one heartfelt speech from Harry Potter would be enough to put it over the top, but then there would also be those who lamented that the Saviour of the Wizarding World didn't even grow up in their world and all sorts of things like that.

"Well, at least we have one day to just worry about classes," Hermione said.

"Excuse me, Mr. Potter."

They both turned to see a smug-looking blond boy with an upturned nose—one in yellow trimmed robes.

"Allow me to introduce myself," the boy said. "My name is Zacharias Smith."

Harry rose to his feet and forced a smile. "Ah, that would be Zacharias Smith, scion of the Noble House of Smith?" he asked.

"And direct descendant of Lady Helga Hufflepuff," Smith added. "A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Potter." He grabbed Harry's hand and squeezed it tightly.

"Likewise. My sister, Hermione Granger." Harry motioned to her.

"Miss Granger." Smith shook her hand, too, which she returned limply. "Sometime, Mr. Potter I would like to hear the story of how and why you managed to slip the watch of all of magical Britain to live out in the muggle world," he continued.

And what's wrong with the muggle world? "Well, that was mostly Dumbledore's doing," Harry said.

Harry and Hermione were relieved when Percy Weasley came around, saying, "First years, I have your timetables here—You'll need to be getting yours, too, Mr. Smith."

"Of course. I'll see you in class, Mr. Potter," he said with a smile before walking off.

Harry suspected that the Hufflepuff blood was the only thing that had landed the arrogant boy in his ancestor's house. And he wasn't exactly highly-ranked, either. After all, he was what, tenth in line for the Smith Seat? But he did seem to know the etiquette, so that would probably count for something.

After the timetables were passed out, all the students left breakfast early to go back to their dorms for their books. Harry and Hermione dashed up the fourteen flights to their rooms, surprising a number of other students, who weren't in such good shape from years of karate, by passing them in the other direction on the way down.

Led mostly by Hermione's eagerness, they were the first ones to make it to their first class, Transfiguration. That was lucky of them, as they later learnt firsthand how uncooperative the castle's moving stairs and trick doors could be. And the Transfiguration classroom was, indeed, empty, save for a grey tabby cat with black rectangles around its eyes sitting on the teacher's desk.

"Good morning, Professor," Harry said with a smile.

The cat meowed at him.

"Are you planning on surprising the class?" he continued.

The cat caterwauled briefly.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that."

The cat repeated the message with a slightly harsher tone.

"Oh, of course." He turned to Hermione. "She said it's a good way to spot troublemakers—like me," he said with a chuckle.

They heard the sound of footsteps outside, and the cat twitched an ear toward the door and then hissed at Harry.

"Alright, we're sitting down, Professor," he said.

They took the two seats in the front corner as the other students started filing in, a few of them looking curiously at the cat. Hermione leaned toward him and whispered, "I still don't get how you can do that."

"Just practice," Harry said smugly. Of course, the truth was that he probably could never have learnt to interpret meows without doing it with a cat's sense of hearing first. Human ears were just barely up to the task. But it was always good to find something he was better at than his sister.

The classroom, like the Great Hall, stood half-empty, making it hard to tell if everyone had arrived. It seemed like a bleak way to go through school for seven years, but that was the way of things. The final bell rang, but no one did anything until nearly a minute later, when Ron Weasley ran into the classroom, looking around nervously.

"Oh good, Professor McGonagall's not here yet," he said with relief.

Harry caught the cat's eye and turned to Ron. "Uh, sorry, mate," he said, pointing to it.

With that, the grey tabby leapt off the desk and in a blink was replaced by the tall, stern form of Minerva McGonagall. The rest of the class gasped and applauded, while Ron let out an astonished "Wicked!"

"Thank you for that assessment, Mr. Weasley," McGonagall said. "Do please take your seat, and try to be on time in the future."

Harry and Hermione were eager to get started on transfiguration, since the wandless magic they had learnt was pretty much all charms, but the class was less hands-on than they had hoped. Professor McGonagall made them take a lot of complicated notes before handing out matchsticks to turn into needles. By the end of the lesson, though, Harry had managed to turn his matchstick silver and pointy. It wasn't easy to feel for his magic and shape it through his wand in such a different way than he was used to, but he was still well ahead of almost everyone else in the class. Predictably, Hermione had him beat: she'd nearly completed the transformation to a needle, producing a piece of metal the right size and shape and only failing to make the eye. McGonagall smiled as she showed their work to the class and award the pair five points to Gryffindor.

But it was the second class of the day, a double Defence Against the Dark Arts period, that they were most looking forward to. After five years of karate, both of them, though especially Harry, were ready to start learning magical self-defence.

It was nothing like they had expected.

The Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs sat down scattered around the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. This was one of the larger classrooms, with the teacher's desk sitting in the back and a large open space in the front, presumably for practical demonstrations. A muggle archery target stood against the far wall.

Professor Quirrell was a pale, quiet young man with sharp, penetrating blue eyes. He wore close-fitting robes that still admitted quite a bit of movement, and a purple turban, the tail of which was draped around his shoulders. As soon as the bell rang, he rose from his seat and walked in silence to the head of the class. He stood straight, but stiff. Most of the class thought he was understandably nervous about starting his first day as the Defence Professor.

"Welcome," he said in a soft voice that, surprisingly, sounded more confident than he looked. "Welcome to your first Defence Against the Dark Arts class. I am Quirinus Quirrell, formerly professor of Muggle Studies. For the past year I have travelled the world to gain practical experience for my new posting. You will no doubt be wondering what horrible fate will befall me this year. However, as I am on a one-year contract, you may rest assured that I am keeping my options open." A few people giggled.

"I'll just take attendance before we get started…" He called the role from a small scroll that he drew from his pocket. He stuttered when he came to Harry's name, and an almost frightened look flickered across his face for a moment, but he kept on going as if nothing had happened and put the scroll away.

"The world," Professor Quirrell said dramatically in that soft voice of his, "both magical and mundane, is a dangerous place. The Dark Arts are first and foremost among these dangers. Most of you will already know this well." His eyes passed across Harry's. "The fact that classroom after classroom of this school stands half-empty shows that clearly. The fact that the Ministry is still reeling, that the Auror department is still short-staffed after ten years, the fact that this nation is littered from one end to the other with widows and orphans, with broken families, and with the gravestones of ones that were wiped out entirely is testament to the danger of the Dark Arts."

A Hufflepuff girl with a round face and auburn hair whimpered softly. Neville Longbottom was shaking. Harry glared openly at Professor Quirrell and started contemplating whether he could use his influence to get him sacked right away.

"However," and this one word was the first time Quirrell had raised his voice in his entire speech, "we are currently in peacetime." He let the words hang in the air, and the tension seemed to lessen. He started up again, and the harshness his voice had taken on vanished. "The Dark Arts are a danger, yes, but hardly the only one. Especially not now, when there has been no proven Death Eater activity for over nine years. In peacetime, there are more common, mundane, you might even say trivial dangers to worry about, but they should not be ignored. Does anyone know what is the most common peacetime threat to witches and wizards…at least to the eighty percent of you who do not live in Hogsmeade?"

A couple of hands were raised. Harry glanced at his sister and saw her frowning. He knew as well as she did that this had not been in the course book.

"Yes, Mr. Smith?" Quirrell said.

"Attacks by muggles, sir," Zacharias Smith answered confidently.


Harry gave a start, as did the other muggle-raised students. This was the former Muggle Studies professor? Well, they could see how it could be true, but still, if he of all people was going to start in with blood prejudice, there would be trouble. Hermione's eyes narrowed as if she were calculating something.

"Three quarters of the witches and wizards in Britain live in muggle cities and villages," Professor Quirrell explained. "As much as we pride ourselves on our separateness and secrecy, we live and work with muggles every day. And it is because of this very separateness and secrecy that muggles are prone to seeing us as 'loners', 'eccentrics', or even…'freaks'." Harry was sure Quirrell looked directly at him at that point. "People like that make for easy targets for troublemakers and bullies. That's true in the muggle world and the magical world—it is not a muggle condition, but a human condition. But whatever the reason, it means that attacks by muggles remain the most common peacetime threat to witches and wizards to this day."

Harry's mind was reeling. Cousin Andi had taught him the rhetoric. He was sure Quirrell was gearing up for an anti-muggle rant, and then he just cut it down, almost like he was trying to play two parts at once. And the way he kept glancing at him was putting him on edge.

"The name of this class is Defence Against the Dark Arts," Quirrell continued, "but perhaps a more apt title would be Magical Defence and Survival because it is concerned with all threats, not just those of the Dark Arts. With so many witches and wizards living on the outskirts of society, it is important to know how to take care of oneself, and that is what this class is intended to teach.

"By the standard curriculum set forth by the Board of Governors, which is, in fact, largely unchanged since the school's founding, all students returning home after their first year at Hogwarts should be able to defend themselves in the muggle world—that is, against both muggles and non-magical animals. The first year Defence curriculum includes simple jinxes and hexes and their counters, and methods of escape and calling for help, which are usually all that is needed to defend oneself in the muggle world, and which provide a foundation for more advanced magical defence in later years. We will also cover basic survival skills and an overview of magical creatures this year—you may have wondered why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was on the book list.

"The second year curriculum continues the instruction in proper defence against the Dark Arts techniques, but also includes detailed units on wilderness survival and Class Two-X and Three-X magical creatures—something which carries the added benefit of being a good introduction for those of you who choose to take Care of Magical Creatures in third year. The third year curriculum includes Class Three-X and Four-X magical creatures and a closer overview of curses in preparation for fourth year, which is when the Dark Arts begin to be addressed full-time—yes, Miss Granger?"

Harry had been so busy taking detailed notes on what the Defence Professor was saying that he hadn't even noticed Hermione raise her hand. "Excuse me, Professor," she said, "but I think the most common danger in the muggle world is auto accidents, not assaults."

Quirrell stared off into space, looking as if something had short-circuited his brain. With a sudden jerk, he looked back at Hermione. "That might be true for muggle-born students like yourself," he said sharply, "but as most witches and wizards drive very little, if at all, it's quite rare for them to get in an auto accident." Ron Weasley chuckled softly. Hermione looked downcast, but Quirrell continued, "However, that is the kind of thinking that will be very useful in this class. Defence is about more than just skill with magic. It requires a significant bit of problem solving, and a skill that I consider to be seriously under-emphasised by most instructors, which is threat assessment.

"For example: would anyone care to hazard a guess as to what the most dangerous non-magical animal in Britain is?"

Everyone looked at each other. This wasn't the kind of thing most of them had ever thought about. Slowly, a couple of tentative hands rose in the air.

"Mr. Weasley?"

"Is it snakes?" Ron said.

"No. Miss Abbott?"

Hannah Abbott froze for a brief moment before saying, "Is it wild boars, Professor?"


Suddenly, Justin Finch-Fletchley's face brightened and he raised his hand.

"Mr. Finch-Fletchley?" Quirrell said.

"Dogs, sir."


Now, it was the purebloods' turn to be shocked. It was clear from their faces that none of them had even considered the possibility.

"It may surprise you to learn," Quirrell said dryly, "that dogs attack more people and kill more people than any other animal in Britain, with the exception of bees, to which some muggles can have a fatal allergic reaction. After dogs are cows and horses, which are occasionally known to trample the careless or intoxicated who venture too close. To be sure, should you come face to face with a wild boar, it would be far more dangerous than any dog—but how many boars versus how many dogs do you encounter in day-to-day life?"

A couple of people laughed, albeit nervously.

"It's easy to only pay attention to the big, but rare dangers and miss the small, but still very real ones that you encounter more frequently. As a result, you can be taken by surprise, and that is the most dangerous thing of all. Threat assessment means figuring out just how dangerous things are and how to respond to them.

"Another example: you might not expect the Defence curriculum to include household charms, but it does." A number of people started at that.

"Doxies…are three inches high and can be killed with a rolled-up newspaper," Quirrell said emphatically, "but they're also Class Three-X creatures. They breed rapidly, fly in swarms, and have a bite that will fester badly if left untreated. Like most magical creatures, they are attracted to magic, and they like to infest magical households that are not adequately cleaned. Including houses in the city. Including muggle-born households," he said with an odd grin, "although to a lesser extent because there is less magic there."

That was news to Harry and Hermione, and they could tell it was to the other muggle-borns, too. Their very presence at home would attract magical pests? Why didn't anyone tell them these things?

As if sensing their questions, Quirrell gave a slight jerk and seemed to switch gears again: "As Muggle Studies Professor, I repeatedly suggested a seminar for muggle-born students to learn important aspects of the magical world like that, which they might not hear elsewhere. The Board could never seem to justify the seminars given the low number of students who would be involved, but I think you can imagine how useful they could be.

"Of course, I would contend that pureblood students could use a bit of a primer on the muggle world, as well—something else that the Board refused to implement. First and foremost, can anyone name the most common—peacetime—reasons for violations of the Statute of Secrecy?"

Now, Professor Quirrell was going really far afield, but some of the class thought this was getting fun in an odd sort of way. Between them, they correctly guessed fights between wizards and muggles, careless use of magic around muggles, and magical creatures getting loose, but they were stumped when Quirrell claimed there was another major cause of such violations.

"Surely you know, Miss Bones?" he asked.

The round-faced, auburn-haired girl whom Harry now recognised as the niece of the new Director of Magical Law Enforcement, looked very nervous at being put on the spot, but she thought about it and stammered, "I-i-is it theft of magical artifacts, Professor?"

"Precisely. Muggle thieves will take anything that looks valuable—a racing broom that might look like an art piece to them, a magical or enchanted appliance that looks like anything electric, magical toys for the children—if you're particularly careless, even your wand.

"Theft of magical artifacts happens more often than fights and nearly as often as reported careless uses of magic. And yet, most wizards leave their homes unprotected by so much as a Colloportus. Even for those who can't afford professional wards, or perhaps live in apartments where they can't be applied could do that. A Colloportus will foil a muggle lock-pick and will even resist efforts at breaking and entering, but it's very rarely used properly, for the simple, foolish reason that it has to be reapplied every time the door is opened—leaving their property and their secrets unprotected because of sheer laziness. Defence of property is still defence, and we will spend a little time on that as well this year."

"Now, unfortunately, muggle-born students do not have the option of using a Colloportus…That is why a charmed trunk is so helpful—something else that isn't advertised to muggle-borns."

Harry was starting to wonder what Professor Quirrell's game was. He seemed to be trying to ingratiate himself with the muggle-born students, and, in fact, he was telling them things his family should have been told years ago—that not even his muggle-born Cousin Ted had thought to tell them, it was so mundane in this world. But at the same time, Quirrell's attitude toward muggles seemed more than a little condescending. Harry didn't know much about the Muggle Studies curriculum, though. Maybe that was how they did things. It certainly wouldn't surprise him.

"Above all," Quirrell said, "I expect each of you in my class not only to learn the required material, but also to understand why you are learning it. It is only by reaching that deeper level of understanding that you will be able to react to new threats and new situations. After all, one of the greatest mistakes you can make…is to be always fighting the last war." He was staring at Harry again.

They got out of Defence at the end of the hour after a rather more normal lecture about the technical details of magical theory that Professor Quirrell assured them would be essential to learning defencive spells later.

"Hey, where'd she go…ah there she is," Harry whispered to Hermione as they made their way to lunch. He led her over to the little auburn-haired witch. "Excuse me, Susan Bones?" he asked.

She turned to face him. "Eep! Mr. P-P-Potter!" she said.

Why am I always "Mister" around here? "It's just Harry, Susan. At least if you're not a Slytherin. And this is my sister, Hermione." He offered a hand to her.

Susan laughed nervously as she shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you. Sorry…it's just…Auntie Amelia talks about you a lot—you're a legend in Auror Department."

Harry and Hermione both rolled their eyes. "Of course I am," he said.

"Well, it's not like that…" Susan said. "Auntie says you prove that…you shouldn't let your guard down because anyone can still get lucky." She said this very fast, and she flinched back, as if she expected an angry response.

Harry and Hermione exchanged a glance with raised eyebrows. "That may be the most sensible thing we've heard all week," Harry said.

"It is?" Susan said.

Hermione smiled. "Susan, our Cousin, Andromeda Tonks, has had nothing but good things to say about your aunt, and I think if she can see past the Boy-Who-Lived legend, that's a good sign already."

Susan's eyes widened. She looked back at Harry, but saw him nod in agreement with his adoptive sister. She broke into a wide smile. "Thank you. I thought…" But she suddenly realised she didn't know what she thought. She'd known on some level that the storybooks had to be completely made up, and that Harry's victory over You-Know-Who had to have been just luck, but it was still shocking to see the Boy-Who-Lived dismissing the legend.

"It's fine," Harry said. "Are you okay? I know Professor Quirrell was being kind of rough."

Was she okay? Well, aside from being about faint, probably. "Y-yeah," she stammered. "I've—I've heard a lot worse."

"Well, I admit it wasn't the nicest way to make the point, but I didn't think he was too bad," Hermione said.

"Really?" Harry turned to her. "Didn't you see how he kept staring at me?"

"Harry, everyone's staring at you," she said dryly.

"No, really, it was almost like he was mocking me every time he did it."

"But why would he do that? I think you're just imagining things. I like him. He seems really knowledgeable."

"You like him? Didn't you hear what he was saying about muggles?"

"I think he was just trying to make a point. He never said anything really against them, and he did teach Muggle Studies, after all."

"Hermione, you remember what the Tonkses said. The Defence Professor is always bad news."

"Well, he does sound better than most of them, according to Auntie," Susan admitted unhappily. "If he's a little unfriendly, it's probably still better than being incompetent."

"Besides, maybe he'll be okay because of his one-year contract," Hermione. "It's only the first day. You need to give him a chance."

"Fine," Harry grumbled. Then he stopped short. "Oh! Hermione, I forgot tell you something."


"Not here. Come on—Sorry, Susan, private business." He grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her down a side corridor and then a second one. Only when he was sure no one else was around did he tell his story.

"Harry, what's so important?"

"Last night—" he whispered. "The Sorting Hat told me it had seen child animagi twice before."

Hermione's jaw dropped open. "It did?" she whispered excitedly. "There are others? Did it say who?"

"No, it didn't say who, but it implied they're both dead now—and it said 'the clues may still be out there to find'."

"We should try to find out—did you tell McGonagall?"

"Not yet. I didn't have time."

"Well, I think we should tell her on Wednesday. And we should find out who they were. We might learn something useful."

Harry smiled at his sister. He'd figured she'd make that her first research project of the year.

In the Great Hall, Susan Bones sat down to lunch a little unsettled, but not that much. Children of Noble Houses had to deal with important private business fairly often. And if the Boy-Who-Lived really was just a boy, it probably wasn't anything dark wizard-related. Nothing to write home about…for now.

Draco Malfoy's reply from his parents came at dinner that very night. Sparing a few moments to gloat over his classmates that he received special evening delivery (a privilege allowed only to only children of Noble Houses who might need to receive "urgent political correspondence"), he unwrapped the package of chocolate frogs and opened the attached envelope. A simple bit of sleight of hand his mother had taught him allowed him to pocket the smaller, charmed envelope he knew would be inside without anyone noticing. The main letter was a generic, though heartfelt congratulation for being sorted into Slytherin and an encouragement to do well in the coming year—nothing suspicious, except perhaps in that it was so ordinary.

Unfortunately, he was interrupted from his thoughts when, of all people, Harry Potter himself approached the Slytherin Table.

Harry was a little nervous about going all the way around the Hall toward the end of dinner. He wasn't the only one to move around, but they were few and far between, usually siblings who were in different houses. The Patil Twins might have done, but as the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw Tables were next to each other, they usually just sat back to back.

Harry could feel all eyes on him as he made his way to the first year Slytherins. That would be an unusual enough move for any Gryffindor, let alone him, but most people would understand what he was doing when they saw it.

"What do you want, Potter?" said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced girl who seemed to be clinging around Malfoy.

"Excuses me, Miss Parkinson," Harry said. "I merely wanted to introduce myself to the scion of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Greengrass and the heir to the Noble House of Nott."

Theodore Nott tensed up as if he were about to strike, but Daphne Greengrass rose to her feet and snapped to attention, extending a hand to Harry. "On behalf of the House of Greengrass, I am honoured to meet you, Lord Potter."

Harry shook her hand. "No titles necessary here, Miss Greengrass, but I am likewise honoured to meet you."

Draco briefly wondered why Potter was moving so quickly, until he remembered the uproar the morning paper was likely to cause tomorrow, whatever was actually in it. His parents had taught him plenty about first impressions.

Theo glanced over at Draco, who nodded to him, something that Harry did not fail to notice. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Potter," he mumbled. Neither of them extended a hand.

It wasn't much, Harry knew, but if he could get his foot in the proverbial door early with Daphne, it could be a big help later. Like it or not, he was stuck in the politics of the magical world, and Cousin Andi would almost certainly need Adrian Greengrass Sr.'s vote for the Muggle Protection Act. And then there was the other purpose of this exercise: to give his sister a bit of cover for a more personal matter.

With Harry distracting the Hall, few people noticed Hermione slipping around to the Hufflepuff Table and approaching the group she guessed were the second year boys.

"Excuse me," she said timidly. They turned to face in surprise. "I'm looking for Sullivan Fawley."

A boy with curly brown hair not too different from her own spoke up: "That's me."

"Hello, I'm Hermione Granger," she said, a bit awkwardly. "I…I believe we're related to each other."

"Are we?" Sullivan Fawley said. "I thought you were muggle-born—or that's what everyone's saying."

"Well, I am…but my grandmother was a squib." Hermione wasn't sure how that would play, but the Hufflepuffs didn't make anything of it. "Her name was Emilie Fawley."

"Great Aunt Emilie?" Sullivan said in surprise. "Really? Dad never really talked about her. Is she still around?"

"No, I'm afraid not. She died in the war."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. But still, we should talk sometime. I'm sure you want to know more about your family."

"Sure. How about in the library some day after classes?"

"Um…yeah, sure," Sullivan said sceptically.

"Oh, I'd better go," Hermione said, seeing Harry break off from his conversation. "It was good to meet you, Sullivan."

"You too," he nodded to her.

As she walked away and fell in ahead of Harry, she heard excited whispers break out behind her: "You're related to Harry Potter's sister?" Hermione sighed softly. Was it always going to be like this?

Draco waited until he was safely alone in his own dorm before opening the other envelope, the one charmed for his eyes only, preferably to burn after reading. His parents didn't need an excuse to spoil him, but it was a very convenient way to slip in the real message:

Our beloved son,

Be assured that Lord Potter's rejection of your advances is no great loss. It was to be expected given his family background and the contact he has no doubt had with Dumbledore over the years. However, that Potter arrived at Hogwarts with a muggle-born sister was not expected and therefore merits careful attention. The fact that both of them were not instant sorts to Gryffindor also begs investigation. If they have any Ravenclaw or Slytherin tendencies, they will soon be apparent and will have to be considered in any plans. Proceed with great care around both Potter and his sister. Watch, listen, and learn before making any moves.

Pay particular attention to any interaction that Potter may have with Dumbledore. Based on our own sources, we agree that Andromeda Tonks was closely involved with Potter's training. However, the old meddler plays his cards very close to the vest, and it is surprising that he would permit your aunt's personal involvement. If there is any sort of friction between Potter and Dumbledore that can be exploited, that would be a valuable weapon indeed against the current machinations of the liberals.

You should not be too quick to overlook Longbottom, either. The Hat sees traits that are hidden from everyone else, and while it may offer a choice, it cannot be bought. The Notts report that he also took the longest to be sorted, which is considered a sign of a powerful wizard. Longbottom should also be observed closely.

We know you will not let us down, son.

Father and Mother

Draco read the letter over three times to be sure he would remember it before tossing it in the fire. He had a feeling things had just got a lot more complicated.