Chapter 1: Unwanted
Author’s Note: The terms used for the Wiccan world used here come from books, websites, and from the TV show Charmed. All Wiccans are considered witches whether they are male or female. A warlock is an oathbreaker. In other words, one who has broken the primary Wiccan Wrede “As long as it harms none, do as ye will” and deliberately brought harm to someone. To the Wiccans, Voldemort would be considered a Warlock as would the Deatheaters. There will also be a few references to the TV showed charmed so could be considered a slight crossover. Also since these chapters seem to be very short, I will be combining several together at least for now.
Nov 1, 1981
“VERNON!!!” Petunia’s shout brought her husband quickly downstairs in his robe.
From the panicked tone of her voice, Vernon Dursley had been expecting to find the house had been vandalised, or that a mad axe murderer was trying to break in. Instead what he found was his wife staring in horror at a blanket wrapped bundle on their doorstep, her fist clenched around a letter.
“What’s wrong dear?” He approached her carefully, keeping out of the direct view of the open doorway. He had no intention of letting the neighbours see him in his bathrobe and pyjamas.
“Look!” She shrieked again, waving the letter in her hand at the child, who had woken up because of her screeching.
Taking the crumpled letter, Vernon quickly scanned the letter as the baby boy began to cry. In green ink were written the words; ‘James and Lily Potter killed’, ‘last living blood relative’, ‘Please take care of your nephew, Harry James Potter’.
It was what he had feared yesterday, when all those strangely dressed people kept talking about the Potters. Now those freaks wanted to saddle his family with Potter’s unwanted, abnormal offspring.
Well, he wasn’t going to put up with this situation any longer than he had to. That little freak would be gone by tomorrow. Right now, though, he had to convince Petunia to put up with the brat for a little while.
As the baby’s cries became louder he ordered, “bring it in.”
“I don’t want it in the house.” Petunia protested stiffly.
“Neither do I,” Vernon reassured her, “but we don’t want to attract the attention of our early rising neighbours like the Thompsons. If he gets much louder they are going to wonder what’s going on.”
“What are we going to do with it?” Petunia picked up the wriggling, blanket wrapped bundle gingerly, making sure she had as little actual contact with her sister’s abnormal offspring as possible. After setting the wriggling baby on the floor of the sitting room out of the way, Petunia held her hands out away from her body, as if they had been contaminated and would need to be cleaned.
“We’ll have to keep it,” Vernon held up his hands to stop her protest, “at least until dark.”
“Why not get rid of it now?” She hissed.
“Because if someone sees me leave with that,” he pointed at the crying baby, lying by the wall, “and I don’t come back with it, there will be questions.”
His face took on a scheming look. “In fact what I’m planning will work out much better. I’m going to call Ms. Carter and tell her that I will not be coming in today.”
“Why?” Petunia stared at him, like he’d lost his mind.
“We need to get that thing as far away from us as we can. Those freaks your sister hung around with might have some way of keeping track of it, right?”
“Maybe. I don’t know for sure.”
“So we need to do is get that abomination as far away as possible, so it can’t be connected to us by ANYONE.” Vernon paced a bit. “We’re also going to have to move, Pet. Even if they have no way to track that thing, sooner or later they are going to come after it or check up on it. I intend to spend the day looking for a location to dump the brat and talking with estate agents. I’ll be back before dark. In the meantime, I want you to find a box big enough and sturdy enough to hide him. When I get home, we’ll have dinner, then I’ll get rid of this rubbish.”
Petunia nodded her reluctant agreement to the plan. She didn’t want to sell their home and move somewhere else, but Vernon was right. Sooner or later those freaks would show up. She could put up with that brat for a day. She would just need to make sure to keep him far away from her precious Dudley.
Glaring at the wailing child, she hissed. “Shut up you little freak!” before stalking off to take care of her son.
Harry Potter ignored the hateful voice and continued to cry, waiting for a pair of loving arms and a familiar voice to pick him up and speak to him. He was too young to realise that he would never hear either voice or feel either pair of arms again.
Nov 2, 1981
Megan Talbot nodded to the security guard as he let her out the front door of the office building. She hadn’t expected it to take so long to load and test the new accounting program, she’d written for Pickering Enterprises, but then again she hadn’t expected the General Manager to present her with last minute changes and requirements from the owner for what he wanted the program to do.
Well Mr. Pickering was in for a big surprise. If he thought he could get last minute changes to a program without paying for them, he was going to be in for a rather rude awakening. She had put a timed shut down command on all the changes and additions, that would deactivate those features, if the correct code wasn’t entered, and then the added sections would be deleted from the program.
As she was working out just how much extra she was going to charge him, Megan heard a car door slam on the far side of the car park followed by the squeal of tyres and that surprised her. The security guard told her that her car and his were supposed to be the only ones in the car park. As soon as the sound of squealing tyres died away, she had the answer to why someone had taken off as if all the demons of Hell were after them. They had just abandoned a baby.
Megan ran toward the crying, praying to the Gods that the baby wasn’t hurt and that no one else had been injured.
The source of the crying was a cardboard box, about the size of those used to hold bulk copy or printer paper, and it was wedged tightly in-between two rubbish bins.
Whoever had abandoned the baby, probably hoped it wouldn't be found until it was too late. And if it hadn’t been for the circumstances that had kept her here later than she’d planned, Megan was certain the child would’ve been dead by morning. The weatherman had predicted freezing temperatures tonight and it was already cold enough that she could see her breath on the air. She uttered a quick prayer of thanks that the gods had put her in the right place at the right time to save this child.
With her empathic gift, Megan could feel the terror radiating from the child in the box. She had to get the baby calmed down before trying to free the box from between the bins, otherwise the child might hurt itself, because it was so afraid. Singing soft and low, Megan projected feelings of peace and calm toward the unseen occupant in the box. After a few minutes, the baby’s crying slowed, then stopped. She could feel the child drifting off to sleep. Her non-Wiccan friends all thought it was her singing voice that could calm frightened children and animals. They didn’t realise she was practising a part of her Craft as her father had before her.
Dropping to her jean clad knees on the pavement, Megan carefully worked the box free. She didn’t want to wake the now sleeping child.
There was a note pinned to the blanket wrapped around the beautiful baby boy. It was roughly scrawled and to the point. She could feel the hate coming off it.
If you’re smart, you’ll leave this where you found it.
If not, then you can have it.
We didn’t ask for this THING, but we got lumbered with it. We don’t want it. We give up any and all rights to it.
There wasn’t a signature, not that she expected there to be. Those who abandoned children usually didn’t want to be identified.
The glare of a flashlight and the clump of boots, alerted Megan to the security guard coming toward her, so she quickly pocketed the note. Something warned her it wouldn’t be a good idea for the security guard to see the baby, so she quickly muttered a Glamour spell and changed the baby’s appearance of a mother cat and baby kittens.
“What’s going on, miss?” The security guard asked as she turned around, cradling the box in her arms. “I was watching to make sure you made it to your car and then you just took off.”
“Heard a car take off from back here and then I heard these little guys crying. Looks like someone decided tonight was a good night to get rid of an unwanted cat and a litter of kittens.”
The guard started to reach into the box and stroke one of the kittens, but quickly pulled his large hand back. He didn’t want to take the chance of accidentally hurting one of the tiny kittens. Softly, he asked, “how old do you think they are?”
“Not more than a few days old,” Megan lied, walking back toward her car.
“I don’t understand how anyone could do that to a defenceless animal.” The security guard shook his head in disbelief.
“I’ve never understood how some people can harm a child whether the child is theirs or not.” Megan countered, sliding the box carefully into the passenger seat and securing it with a seatbelt.
“You’ve got a point.” The guard conceded, carefully closing the passenger door. “What are you going to do with the kittens?”
“There are a lot of kids in the area where I live. I don’t think I’ll have any problems finding them homes.”
“God bless you, miss, for your kindness.”
“Thank you.” Megan said sincerely.
Chapter 2: Speaking to Snakes
word and more words = parseltongue, spells, and thoughts
Speaking to Snakes
August 1, 1986
Josh felt very pleased with himself. Today was his sixth birthday and his mum had trusted him to bring in the last of the ripe vegetables -- by himself -- while she did the cooking and baking for his birthday party and for tonight’s Lammas feast. Her confidence that he would do the job right told him, she thought he was a big boy.
As he was moving around a tomato plant that was almost as tall as he was, Joshua heard a low hissing voice say, “Watch what you’re doing.”
Startled he backed out of the garden, clutching a large tomato. “Who said that? Where are you?”
“Down here,” a blunt brown head poked its way out from under the branches of the tomato plant.
“You’re a snake.” Josh stared in disbelief as the brown head rose and stared at him.
“And you are a human,” the snake countered, sounding amused.
“You understood me!” The boy was a little surprised. He’d seen his mum having conversations with the various cats that came by and even with the big cats at the zoo, but he’d never been able to understand them. He was able to work magicks, though it was mostly small stuff right now, but it had always disappointed him when he couldn’t speak to the animals. His mum had always told him if he was meant to be a beast speaker, it would come in it’s own time and probably when he least expected it. “How? I mean I couldn’t before.”
The snake gave him considering look. “You mussst be what humansss call a magic ussser.”
At Joshua’s nod, he continued, “you alssso have the rare gift of being able to ssspeak with my kind. It hasss been sssome time sssince one of your kind ssspoke with one of mine and that one wasssn’t a good human.”
“Cool!” Josh rocked back and forth on his feet. “Momma! … Momma!”
“What are you doing?” The snake hissed in alarm. “I have done you no harm!”
“I want my momma to meet you.” Joshua told the snake. “You’ll like her.”
“Isss ssshe a ssspeaker too?” the snake asked curious. He knew that in humans the parseltongue ability ran in families, even if it did occasionally skip around a bit.
“I don’t know if she can talk to snakes,” the boy said, running the fingers of one hand through his messy black hair. “I know that she can talk to cats, but I never asked her about any other animals.”
“What is it, Josh” His mother called as she stepped outside, wiping her hands on the dish towel slung over her shoulder.
“You gotta see this,” he ran over and grabbed her hand, trying to drag her back to where the snake was waiting.
“What is it, honey?” She laughed, her green eyes dancing.
“A snake! It talked to me!” He sounded positively delighted.
As she followed her son, Megan’s mind was mulling over this news. The ability to speak with snakes was such a rare gift that it had been a long time since anyone, in the Wiccan circles that she knew about, had been blessed by the Gods with it. Even if she hadn’t already been aware of how powerful a witch her adopted son was going to be, his ability to speak with snakes would have told her that.
She still remembered Jessie’s reaction when she had touched the scar on Joshua’s forehead:
“He’s in good health, Meg,” Dr. Jessica Waters told her as she completed her examination of the dark haired, green-eyed baby. “I don’t know why anyone would have wanted to abandon this beautiful baby”
“Well whoever did clearly hated him.” Megan told her. “I could feel the hatred pouring off the note they left with him.”
A Wiccan herself and member of the same circle, Dr. Waters knew all about Megan’s empathic gift and didn’t dispute her claim that the person who had abandoned the baby, hated him.
Megan changed the topic slightly. “How old would you say he is, Jessie?”
Eyeing the baby consideringly, Dr. Waters stated. “14 maybe 15 months, not much more than that.”
“So he was born in the summer, probably July or August.”
“I guess so. Have you notified Children’s Services yet?” Dr. Waters wanted to know.
Jessie stared at her in shocked surprise. “They have to be notified. What if his parents are looking for him? They deserve to know he’s been found. I know how I’d feel if it were my child who was missing.”
Megan gave her the reasons she had come up with for not taking the boy to Children’s Services. “Given that the note said they were lumbered with him, his parents are more than likely dead and the people who dumped him in that carpark probably only got him within the last couple of days. Possibly from Children’s Services. Which would make them the boy’s relative. Given that they hate him, I don’t think he was with them longer or there would be definite evidence of neglect.”
Megan’s green eyes met hers, her expression serious. “And there’s one other reason, this little boy shouldn’t go to Children’s Services. Do you remember the odd feeling some of the circle got on Samhain, as if some great unseen evil had been banished?”
At Jessie’s nod, she continued, “I think this child is responsible for banishing it.”
“Come on! This little baby?!”
“Touch the scar without your gloves on.” Megan suggested. “Tell me what you ‘see’.”
She waited until the doctor’s finger had left the lighting bolt shaped scar before asking, “well?”
“His mother, or at least I think it was his mother, was hit by a bright green light and died, then a cloaked person pointed a stick at the baby, and the same green light hit him, but he didn’t die, the warlock or demon disappeared.”
“When I touched it, I got the feeling of remnants of a very powerful piece of Black magic. This child is barely over a year old and yet he somehow managed to turn the spell back on its caster.” Megan told her. “Now, you see why Children’s Services can’t take possession of this child. He’s already a powerful witch and it’s going to take an equally powerful witch to be able to teach him and to try and keep him from becoming a Warlock. I intend to talk to Andrew, and see what I have to do to get temporary and then full custody.”
Megan now understood even better why the Old Ones had placed Joshua in her care. All Warran witches, whether descended was from Charlotte Warran’s oldest daughter, Melinda, or her youngest, Elizabeth, whom Megan was descended from, grew more powerful with each generation. So while she was nowhere near as powerful as Joshua would one day be, Megan was powerful enough to teach him and protect him from those who so feared him that they tried to kill him while he was still a baby.
Megan made a mental note to speak to Robert tonight. She needed to find out if any of Melinda Warran’s descendants still lived and if so where. If anything happened to her, they would be the only ones who could protect and teach Joshua. She would also have to speak to Andrew once she located Melinda’s descendants and make sure everything was taken care of, in case the unthinkable happened.
“Here she is,” Josh announced proudly to the waiting snake. “This is my mum.”
The blunt brown head rose from the ground again, nodding slightly in her direction and hissed, “a pleasssure.”
Megan nodded back to the snake.
“Did you understand him, momma?’ Josh wanted to know.
“No, but I didn’t expect to either.” Seeing he didn’t understand, she knelt and gestured toward the snake. “Just like you don’t understand what the cats are saying to me, I can’t understand what snakes say to you.”
“Is it bad to be able to talk to snakes?” Josh asked, looking back and forth between the snake and his mother.
“No, it’s not.” She ruffled his already messy hair. “Those who can speak to snakes are very rare and usually very gifted. Now, does your new friend have a name?”
“Forgot to ask him.” Slightly embarrassed, Joshua dug the toe of his shoe into the dirt as he looked at the ground. “I was so surprised when I could understand him, ya know.”
“I know. I felt the same way when I realised I could understand cats.” She laughed, then asked, “don’t you think you should ask him what he wants to be called? You might also want to find out if he plans on staying in our garden. If he is, be sure to explain the rules about the birds.”
“My name is Joshua Alexander Talbot,” he introduced himself to the snake. “May I ask your name please?”
“Ssscilti,” the snake replied, its tongue coming out to taste the air around these two humans and the information he got back confused him. He knew that humans related by blood had similar but not exactly matching scents but the boy’s and the woman’s base scents didn’t match at all. “You are not the sssame.”
“Of course not,” Joshua thought the snake was just being silly, since it was fairly obvious he and his mother were not the same. “I’m a boy and momma’s a girl.”
“That isss not what I meant.” The snake shook its head. “You can not be her blood child. The air around you would tassste sssimilar to hersss if you were her blood child.”
Megan wondered what the snake and Josh were talking about that had her son looking so confused. He had instinctively slipped into the sibilant hiss that snakes used to communicate, so she couldn’t follow their conversation. “Is something wrong, dear?”
“Sciliti said I’m not your blood child,” he repeated the phrase the snake had used. “What’s a ‘blood child’?”
“A blood child to a snake would probably be someone who shares the same blood as I do.” Seeing the questioning look on Joshua’s face, she asked, “Do you remember what I told you last year when you asked me how you got that scar on your forehead?”
“You tol’ me you didn’t know, ‘cause you weren’t there when it happened.” His face scrunched up a little as he tried to remember the rest of it. “You tol’ me, you ‘dopted me, cause I was alone and you wanted me.”
“That’s right.” She hugged him. “I wanted to make sure there was no way the law or anyone else could take you away from me. While I may not have given birth to you, Joshua, you are my child to love, protect, and care for. The gods knew we belonged together as a family, and they made sure I was there to find you.”
He’d never told her about the other red-haired lady he occasionally dreamt of, but then again those dreams usually turned into nightmares where the only thing he ever remember when his mum asked what the dream was about was a horrible sickly green light and a strange terrible laughter. Her son wrapped his arms around her neck and gave her a kiss. “I’m glad you’re my momma.”
“And I love you.” Megan kissed him back before getting to her feet and heading back into the remodelled old inn, she told him, “Don’t forget to tell Sciliti the rules, if he plans on staying.”
Where is Harry Potter?
August 1, 1986
Minerva McGonagall waited in the Headmaster’s office as the rest of the teachers filed out after the staff meeting.
Dumbledore had gotten to his feet and was at his office window, looking out over the school grounds.
“I saw Arthur Weasley leaving earlier. Has there been any word, Albus?” The deputy Headmistress inquired.
Dumbledore continued to look out the window. He didn’t need to ask her what she wanted to know about. It was a subject that was on the minds of just about every wizard or witch in the wizarding world. Where was Harry Potter?
A few weeks after the Boy-Who-Lived had been left with his muggle relatives and before Arabella Figg could be moved into the area to watch over the boy, the wards protecting the house had suddenly collapsed. Fearing the worst, that some of the remaining Deatheaters had somehow located the boy was and had gotten past the wards, Dumbledore had apparated to #4 Privet Drive, along with Professor’s McGonagall, Snape and several Aurors. The ‘For Sale’ sign they found stunned them. The Dursley’s had disappeared, taking the saviour of the wizarding and muggle world, away from the protections put in place to keep him safe.
Minerva had been convinced that the Muggles had gotten rid of the boy and left so they wouldn’t be held accountable for it. He had believed they left for some other reason.
“Yes, Arthur came by to tell me the Ministry had finally found the Dursley’s.” Dumbledore felt very tired when he thought about the uncaring attitude that Arthur Weasley had reported finding in the Dursley’s. He just hoped that Minerva would refrain from saying ‘I told you so’ when she heard the news. “The Ministry is going to keep this quiet, but Harry’s Aunt and Uncle abandoned him, the day he was left with them. They told Arthur, they didn’t want anything to do with the Potter’s abnormal off-spring and that it was our fault the boy was missing because we should have known they wouldn’t want anything to do with him.”
“Did Arthur manage learn anything specific about where they left the boy?” Minerva wasn’t really surprised, by what they had done. She remembered well the day she had spent observing the Dursley’s, before Albus had shown up. At that time despite her misgivings, she had still hoped Dumbledore was right that they would indeed take care of the boy.
“The only other thing Vernon Dursley told him and that was only after Arthur threatened to hex him, was that the Potter’s child had been left in an empty car park in Guildford at around midnight. The boy could be Merlin knows where by now.”
“He could be dead.” Minerva observed.
“No, he’s not,” Dumbledore disagreed. “His name would have disappeared from the potential enrolment lists if that were the case.”
“True,” she agreed. “What is the Ministry doing to try and find Potter?”
“Arthur told me, they has people scouring the area of Guildford to see if they can pick up any traces of what might have happened. The searchers are those witches or wizards who have a muggle background, since they will be able to easily blend in.”
“That had to be Arthur’s idea.” Minerva sniffed. “There’s no way that fool Fudge could’ve come up with an idea like that.”
“No matter whose idea it was, we’ll just have to wait until Arthur has more news.” Dumbledore refrained from agreeing with her assessment of the new Minister, but there was a slight smile on his face.
Escape from the Zoo
May 5, 1991
“Where to now?” Megan asked as if she didn’t already know.
“Can we go to the Reptile House, mum?” Her son bounced up and down eagerly. “Toby told me last time that they were going to be getting some new snakes in and I want to meet them.”
As they headed from the zoo restaurant to the Reptile House, Megan admonished, “just be careful when you’re talking to them. Not everyone will understand or appreciate your gift.”
Joshua knew quite well that not everyone was comfortable with the idea of Wiccans, or people who could do real magick. “I will, mum.”
Standing off to one side near the entrance, Megan watched her son as he headed toward the first tank, which contained a boa constrictor. Joshua always liked to check up on his old friends first, before making any new ones. He was going to have to wait though, because a family group consisting of a thin, horsey faced woman, a portly man with a moustache, a small, thin rat-faced boy, and an extremely overweight, whiny blond boy were spread out in front of the glass and no one else could get near it.
Megan remembered this group from the restaurant. The blond boy had been just as whiny there. Complaining loudly that his Knickerbocker Glory wasn’t big enough. Personally she’d thought it was too much for anyone to eat without getting sick, but his parents had bought him another one to stop him from making a scene. That told Megan, he was a very spoiled child, used to getting his own way and from the way that rat faced boy fawned all over him, Megan was fairly certain he was a bully as well.
Right now though, the fat boy was whining at his father, telling him to make the snake move. His father obligingly rapped on the thick glass. When that failed to make the snake move, the boy whined again and his father rapped on the glass again.
Apparently there was still no movement in the tank, because the overweight boy announced to the world, “This is boring,” before moving off, followed by the rest of his entourage.
Joshua quickly moved in front of the glass and after making sure there was no one nearby, spoke softly, knowing the air vents at the base of the tank would carry his voice to the snake. “Hi, Silvanus, it’s good to see you.”
Joshua knew from experience that he wouldn’t be able to hear Silvanus’ replies from this side of the glass, but they had worked out a good method of communication.
A few minutes later, their conversation was interrupted by an almost deafening shout of; “DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT IT’S DOING!”
Before Joshua had a chance to do anything, he was shoved to the floor, by what felt like a baggage train. He felt a shooting pain travel up his forearm from his hand and wrist, but that pain was quickly overshadowed by the anger he felt toward that blond pig of a boy, who had pushed him out of the way without caring what happened to him. The pig and his skinny rat of a friend were now pressed up close against the glass, with the piggy boy’s parents right behind him.
As he glared at them, the glass that covered the front of the boa constrictor’s tank suddenly vanished. Silvanus took advantage of this, and slithered out of the tank, scaring both boys who had jumped back at the glass’ disappearance. As people realized a large snake was loose, screams filled the area and people quickly headed for the entrance. The only ones who noticed that the snake paused briefly beside Joshua, were Mr. Dursley and Megan.
Vernon Dursley knew only one thing could have moved that glass and that was magic, which meant that boy was one of those freaks, like his ex-sister-in-law’s family. Well he wasn’t going to stand for one of them nearly killing his son. That boy was going to pay.
As Mr. Dursley’s face began to redden with anger, Megan went to check on her son.
Stalking over to where the dark haired boy was lying on the concrete floor, Vernon thundered, “boy, how dare you try and kill my son! He did nothing to you and yet you set that snake on him! You vicious murdering beast, you’re going to pay for what you did.”
“I would be very careful, who I threaten, if I were you!” Megan snapped, getting between the angry man and her son. She was angry at this man for wanting to shift the blame for his son getting what he deserved back on Joshua. “I intend to call the police and file assault charges against your son. Your son wasn’t hurt by that snake, but my son has at least a broken wrist thanks to that bully.”
“My Duddikins isn’t a bully. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Petunia shot back from where she was fluttering around her son.
“Puhleeze!” Megan gave her a disgusted look as the Reptile House keeper, joined them in the now empty exhibit area, trying to figure out just what happened and how one of the snakes escaped.
He addressed the only adult he knew in the group. “Meg, is everyone ok?”
“No. Josh is going to have to go to the infirmary, because that bully over there broke his wrist, when he shoved him out of the way.” She helped her son to his feet. “Is the Director in his office?”
“I think so.” Toby tried to remember his schedule. “Why?”
“These people need to be escorted to his office and held there until I find out from the infirmary, just how much damage that fat bully…”
“My son’s not fat, he’s just big-boned.” Petunia interrupted harshly, unwilling to let this woman destroy her precious Dudley’s self-esteem “Just because your son is a skinny runt, you have no reason to insult my Dudley.”
“Big boned my eye.” Megan disagreed. “Lady, there’s enough of your son to make two normal children. My son does chores and runs around and plays with other children. I bet your son just sits around all day, stuffing his face. I’ll bet the only exercise he gets, is when he gets up to change the channel on the tv. Or do you do that for him as well?” At the indignant look on the woman’s face, she continued. “It’s no surprise your son is a bully, given that you’ve probably never punished him for anything he did wrong. Well you won’t be able to get him out of this one easily.”
While this exchange was going on, Toby had used his radio to call for Security.
A few minutes later, a security team appeared. “Problem, Mr. Barstow?”
“Yes, let the director know one of the snakes has escaped and that we are going to start a search for it. Also since these people were involved in the incident with the snake, would you please escort them to his office. Also please tell him that Ms. Megan Talbot, her son, and I will be joining them as soon as he has been checked out in the zoo infirmary. And please have the security office pull the tape for Camera 73 for the last 2 hours and see that it is delivered to the Director’s office.”
“I am Mr. Vernon Dursley, Managing Director for Grunnings Drills.” Vernon bellowed. “You have no right to stop us from leaving.”
“You’re right, Mr. Dursley. The Security Guards can’t stop you from leaving. However if you do leave, I can guarantee the Police will be at your front door to arrest your son for assault. And I know the tape from that camera,” she pointed to the one over Toby’s shoulder, “will be more than enough to prove my case. In addition, I will make it my business to find out which school your son went to this past year and speak with the teachers and students. I’m sure they will have some very interesting stories to tell. You know the kind that will make sure your son’s new address is ‘St. Brutus’ Secure Centre for Criminal Boys’.”
Megan noted with interest that both Mr. and Mrs. Dursley’s faces turned a pasty white and she was fairly certain that they would be in the Director’s office when she and Josh got there.
When Megan, Joshua and Toby Barstow arrived outside the Director’s office, they could hear the Dursley’s inside yelling at the director, as if the escape of the snake and that the snake’s supposedly nearly killing their son was deserving of compensation for the terror he experienced.
“If anyone deserves compensation, it should be my son for what your precious Duddykins did to him.” Megan sarcastically interrupted Vernon’s tirade. “You see Mr. Dursley, you will be paying all the medical expenses incurred because of your son’s thoughtless behaviour. My son’s wrist is fractured and possibly broken, and he has a concussion. Those bills are your responsibility and you will be paying them, even if I have to take you to court. And I warn you, if I have to take you to court, the cost will be much higher for you than just money.”
Vernon turned on the woman, glad to have a new target for his venom. “You won’t be getting anything from me. That brat of yours got exactly what he deserved. He tried to kill my son!”
“Oh, pulheze!” Megan couldn’t believe this man. Laying the blame on the victim. No wonder his son was a bully if this was the example he had learned from. “Please tell me, how is Josh supposed to have done that? Your son outweighs him by at least five or ten stone. Josh had no weapon and with his wrist broken, he couldn’t have used one, even if he did.”
“He set that damned snake on my son.” Vernon stated, trying to stare down the red-headed, green-eyed woman who reminded him a lot of his deceased sister-in-law.
“You have got to be kidding!” Megan stared at the portly man as if he had lost his mind, after giving her son a warning glance that told him not to say anything. “You expect everyone to believe that my son somehow managed to remove a heavy, sealed double glass panel? Even if he had the use of both hands, how did he manage do it without being seen by anybody -- including the security camera?”
Vernon Dursley knew very well how the glass had been removed. There was only one way and he’d thought that when he got rid of the Potter brat, he’d never have to deal with those freaks and their unnatural ways again. He knew very well if he uttered the word “magic”, these two men would think he was crazy.
As she was waiting to see if the narrow-minded bigot would actually say the word ‘magic’, Megan felt a sudden surge of fear. She glanced around trying to find the source and saw that Mrs. Dursley had gotten very pale and seemed to be staring at Joshua as if she were seeing a ghost.
Megan looked at her son, expecting to find something seriously wrong but he was just sitting there, his right hand and wrist bound up in a temporary splint. He had pushed his hair off his forehead so his lightening bolt scar was visible and that seemed to be what had captured Mrs. Dursley’s fearful attention. She watched as the woman tried to get her husband’s attention, but he was so wrapped up in his own thoughts he never even noticed her careful prodding.
It was clear that Mrs. Dursley had seen the scar before and equally clear that she had never expected to see it again. Megan made a mental note to find some time in the near future to speak with Mrs. Dursley about what she might know about Joshua’s past.
She returned her attention to Dursley. “We’re waiting, Mr. Dursley. I want to know why you’re accusing my son of setting that snake free and how you think he did it? Perhaps the video tape will refresh your memory?”
The director obliged her by putting the tape in player and rewinding it until it reached the pertinent section, then ran it forward at a slightly slower than normal speed.
After watching the incident several times, the Director announced. “From what I can see, Mr. Dursley, there is no way Joshua Talbot could be responsible for the snake getting out. Your son on the other hand,” he froze the image at the point where Dudley was hitting Joshua to get him out of the way, “is clearly responsible for Mr. Talbot’s injuries and if called to testify, I will say so.”
“I will make this very simple for you, Mr. Dursley.’ Megan told him in a no nonsense tone “You will either assume responsibility for your bully of a son’s actions. Or your son acquires a criminal record. The way I see it, I’d be doing the world a favour, if I had your son arrested and charged. Get a bully off the streets before he actually kills somebody.’
Vernon knew there was nothing more he could say or do. There was no way the Zoo Director would believe him if he said ‘magic’ was responsible for the snake getting lose and he had no desire to be labelled a nut if he did. If he didn’t give in, then his son, his wonderful, blameless, perfect son would wind up with a criminal record. The little freak’s mother, Mrs. Talbot had made it quite clear she would press charges against Dudley, and his son didn’t deserve to be labelled a criminal because of that little freak. So with a great deal of reluctance, he gave Megan the address she could send copies of the medical bills to.
As they were heading home from the hospital, Joshua asked, “Mum, why did you lie to that man?”
“I didn’t lie.”
“But you did. You know I made that glass disappear. Why did you tell him I didn’t?”
“I didn’t lie to Mr. Dursley.” His mother repeated. “I asked him to tell me why he thought you made the glass disappear. I’ve seen his kind before. He’s a narrow minded individual who would die before he admitted that magick existed. I knew he wouldn’t say the word ‘magic’ because he’s the kind of man who never wants to look like a fool. I never said you didn’t remove that panel. I know you did, because I couldn’t have. You were angry because he hurt you for no reason. You wanted to get back at him, a perfectly natural response. However unlike other people, in your anger you used your power to get your revenge. I’m just glad you were able to hold your focus to just that one tank. If your magic had been released in an uncontrolled burst, other people could’ve been hurt, because some of those snakes could’ve killed, instead of just scaring people.” At the stoplight, she looked at her adopted son. “You are very powerful, Joshua, and with that power comes great responsibility. If we let our anger control our gifts, we can cause great harm without meaning to.”
He knew from her tone that she wasn’t mad or disappointed in him. She was just trying to keep him from slipping over to the dark side. Which would be all too easy to do, if you didn’t care who got hurt by your power.
“By the way, what did Silvanus say, before he left?”
Joshua smiled. “He said ‘Brazil here I come’ and he thanked me.”
Chapter 3: The Truth and Nothing but The Truth
The Truth and Nothing but The Truth
June 4, 1991
The ringing doorbell surprised Petunia Dursley. She wasn’t expecting any visitors. When she opened the door the face that greeted her was one she never wanted to see again.
“You don’t have any business being here. My husband paid your son’s medical bills.” Petunia started to slam the door but Ms. Talbot’s words stopped her.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Otherwise my next stop will be the police and then you and your husband could be looking at some serious jail time.”
“And why would we be going to jail?” Petunia sneered, while inside she was worried. “My husband and I have done nothing illegal.”
“Oh, I’m sure the Police would call abandoning a baby on one of the coldest nights of the year nearly ten years ago a crime.” Megan took advantage of Petunia’s shock to push her way into the Dursley house. “I checked with a solicitor friend of mine, and a child abandonment case, that nearly results in the death of the child, can have a minimum sentence of ten years in prison. You might get longer.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Petunia retorted defiantly.
“I saw the look on your face when you saw the scar on my son’s forehead. It was like you’d seen a ghost. There’s also this piece of evidence,” Megan reached into her pocket, and pulled out a sheet of folded paper. “This is just a copy. I still have the original. I’m fairly certain the police will have no problem matching the handwriting to you or your husband. I also don’t think the police will have any problem placing your family near Guilford in Surrey on Nov 1, 1981.”
Petunia Dursley’s hand shook as she read again the words that had been written so long ago. “What do you want? Money?”
“Not everything in life is about money.” Megan just shook her head in disbelief. How could anyone be so mercenary? “Between my inheritance and my own income, I have more than enough to take care of my adopted son and myself. What I want from you is information. Who were Josh’s parents and what do you know about them? When he was born? What was his birth name? What happened to his parents and why was he left with you however briefly. I also want any items you may have that belonged to Josh’s birth parents. They belong to Josh after all.”
“How do I know that you won’t come back wanting something else later?” Petunia couldn’t help being suspicious. Blackmailers wanted something for their silence. It was how they made their living after all.
“You’ll just have to take my word for it. You and your family are narrow-minded bigots and if I never have to see any of you again, I will be overjoyed.” Megan let the disgust she felt for this woman show. “The only thing that would bring me back -- with the police, would be if I found out you lied to me.”
Who am I?
June 4, 1991
“Hi mum,” Joshua called as the door banged open. “I’m home.”
“Hi honey,” his mother’s voice sounded slightly distracted. “How was your football game?”
Joshua bounced up and down excitedly, as he told her. “Great! We won! I’m just sorry you couldn’t make the game.”
“I wish I could’ve been there, but this business had to be taken care of as soon as possible.”
Joshua tried to figure out what could put such a serious expression on his mother’s face. He didn’t think it was because of anything he’d done.
“Would you set the table please?” His mother requested as she pulled the meat out of the oven.
When they were seated, she told him, “I found out some information on your birth parents.”
That was something he’d never expected to hear. “How?...”
“Remember the Dursley’s?” Seeing the blank look on his face, she added. “At the zoo last month.”
“Oh yeah, elephant boy,” Joshua nodded in remembrance. He had just gotten his wrist out of a cast last week.
“Mrs. Dursley acted like she’d seen a ghost when she saw your scar.” His mother told him. “I paid her a little visit today and got what little information she had concerning you and your birth family.”
“So, who I am?” Even though he’d never said anything Josh had always wondered why he wasn’t with his birth parents. It wasn’t that he didn’t love the mother he had he just wanted to know about his family.
“You were born Harold James Potter, Harry for short. You are the only child of Lily and James Potter, but she couldn’t tell me your exact date of birth, just that it was some time in late July or early August. I got the distinct impression that Mrs. Dursley deliberately ignored anything having to do with your family, unless it directly impacted on her family or her life.” She paused and met his gaze. “Your parents were witches, so you got your magical abilities from them. Mrs. Dursley was your mother’s sister, and she’s your only living maternal relative, besides Dudley.”
“The Dursley’s son.” His mother clarified. “She didn’t know if any of your father’s family was still alive, but given that you were left with them, I’d say it’s a safe bet that there aren’t any. Your parents met at Hogwarts. According to Mrs. Dursley, it’s a school that teaches young witches.”
“Weird name for a school,” was Josh’s only comment. Then he asked, “What happened to my mother and father? Why aren’t I with them?”
“According to what I was told, and I have to remember to thank Cousin Penny for that nice Truth Spell...”
“You mean the one that makes people forget what you asked them?” Joshua interrupted.
“That’s the one,” She nodded. “Your parents were killed on Oct 31, 1981, when you were a little over a year old, by a warlock. Mrs. Dursley called him an evil wizard. She also told me that he tried to kill you, but she didn’t know why he failed. Someone named Albus Dumbledore left you on their doorstep, along with a letter that Mr Dursley destroyed. You were left in the carpark where I found you, because the Dursley’s are terrified of magick and of what you would become.”
“Is this warlock still around?” Joshua wasn’t upset that his only living relatives hadn’t wanted him. His memory of their one and only meeting was enough to convince him that he would have been miserable there, given how Dudley treated total strangers.
“I don’t know.” His mother looked thoughtful. “I don’t think Mrs. Dursley really cared one way or another. She probably doesn’t see him or any followers he may have as a threat to her or her family.”
“Do you think he had any followers?”
“More than likely,” she told him. “Really powerful warlocks usually do manage to acquire followers, who crave the power the warlock will give them.” She paused for a moment, before looking him in the eye. “Right now though we’ve got a more important matter to discuss and you have a decision to make. This is a decision I want you to take you time about making, ok.”
“Do you want your name changed to the one your birth parents gave you, Harry Potter, or do you want to keep your name as Joshua Alexander Talbot?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t think it was possible." Josh stared at her surprised. “Don’t you want me to be your son any more?”
“Of course I do!” She reached across the table and grabbed his hand. “You are my son, whether you have my name or not. It’s just now that we know the name your parents intended you to have, I have no right to deny you that name. Whether you call yourself Harry Potter or Joshua Talbot, I will always be a part of you.”
“Mum, is it possible to talk to the dead?” Joshua wanted to know.
“It’s possible,” she told him cautiously. “It’s not something done lightly, nor should it be done often. If the dead are at peace, then it is better to leave them at peace. There are certain times of the year, where the dead, if they want to come, can be summoned, by means of a spell.”
“How long would it last?”
“If they chose to remain non-corporeal, a few hours.” Megan knew why he was asking. “If they choose to take a solid physical form, maybe an hour. If you want to call your parents, the best time would be on Samhain. The walls between the world of the living and the dead are thinner then, and they might be able to stay longer.”
Who will I be?
Joshua stared up at the ceiling of his bedroom, unable to get to sleep. His thoughts just kept going around in circles on the question of: ‘Who do I want to be?’
Part of him yearned to take back the name he had been given by his birth parents and being who he was meant to be. But another part of him was terrified of being known as Harry Potter. He was fairly certain part of the reason was because of the dreams, the ones he’d never told his mother about.
His mother knew about his funny/interesting dreams, like riding on a flying motorcycle. She had even laughingly requested to be taken for a ride, if he ever found one.
It was the terrifying, barely remembered ones that he had kept from her. Ones of a blinding flash of green light or a high, cold, cruel laugh that left him too terrified to even scream when they woke him. He still wasn’t certain why he’d kept them from his mother, but now he thought he knew what they were. He was dreaming of the night his parents were killed.
Knowing he wouldn’t be getting to sleep any time soon, Josh got up and went over to his desk, and pulled out a stack of paper and pen. He decided to use his mother’s method for making decisions on difficult problems and make a list of the pros and cons for each.
After about an hour, he wound up with what he thought was a fairly comprehensive list. He had put it together the way he seen his mother do them, writing down his feelings without thinking about them then reviewing it afterward to see which way the results came out.
The name I was given by my parents.
Maybe other family out there, who could tell me about my parents, if they knew I was alive.
Maybe others who went to this Hogwarts were friends with my parents & could tell me about them.
Warlock, who killed my parents &/or followers may still be looking for me by this name.
Don’t know how to find any of my father’s family, or if they would even want to know about me. The Dursley’s certainly didn’t.
If my father’s family or friends knew where to find me would they try & take me away from my mother.
If my father’s family is also afraid of magic, would they hate me because I can work magick?
Joshua Alexander Talbot
Mother who loves & wants me for who I am & didn’t just take me in because we were related.
I am being taught how to use the powers the Gods have blessed me with, by people who aren’t afraid of what I can do.
Name given by my adoptive mother.
Name I am most familiar with.
No Warlock or followers looking for me under this name.
Have lots of friends & people who I can count on if I ever need help.
No brothers, sisters or cousins living close by.
Sooner or later I will exceed the knowledge of those in our Circle, then what happens? Would my father’s family be able to help me learn to fully use my gifts?
After looking over all the facts and ideas he had written down, Joshua decided that there were too many unknowns in becoming Harry James Potter. He had enough to deal with as Joshua Talbot. He might change his mind when he was older about trying to locate his parent’s family or friends, but for now he was content to stay who he was.
Chapter 4: The Letter
July 25, 1991
Joshua heard the letter box flap clink as he came downstairs. The Postman is early today.
He checked the mail basket and it was full.
“Mum, the postman’s come,” he shouted toward the computer room/office, where his mother was working on her latest contract software project.
“Anything interesting?” She wanted to know.
He sorted the mail into the standard four piles: Junk, Bills, and personal mail for him and for his mum. Only one item stood out -- a thick, yellowish, parchment envelope. It was addressed to him in green ink, with no stamp or return address. The handwriting didn’t look familiar. The flap was closed by a purple wax seal that had a coat of arms impressed in it, consisting of an “H” surrounded by a badger, hawk, lion and snake, impressed in it.
He had never seen a letter so precisely addressed before.
Mr. J. Talbot
Josh took the odd letter into his mother’s office. “Mum, have a look at this.”
Taking the envelope, she examined it carefully. While there were no harmful feelings coming from it, the letter did worry her. Some unknown person knew exactly which bedroom was her son’s. Megan made a mental note to strengthen the wards protecting the house and on her son’s room in particular.
Looking at her son, Megan asked, “Do you want me to open it?”
“No, I’ll do it.” He took the envelope back and after pulling out the letter, began to read aloud.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
That name sounded familiar. It took him a minute to remember where he’d heard it. “Isn’t that the place you said my parents went to school?”
“According to Mrs. Dursley.”
His attention returned to the letter.
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, 1st Class, Grand Sorc, Chf Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards)
“Why would the Headmaster of a school of magic want to identify himself as a warlock?” Joshua wondered. “Doesn’t he know that means a Oathbreaker?”
“Maybe ‘Warlock’ doesn’t mean the same thing to this group of magic users. After all they call a male witch a wizard.” His mother pointed out.
Joshua remembered being told more than once that people who were raised and trained in different ways of using magic had different concepts of what was considered good and evil for magic use and some of them even had different terms for good or bad magic users.
He was beginning to get real curious about what this Albus Dumbledore wanted with him. He couldn’t possibly know his other name was Harry Potter, could he?
Dear Mr. Joshua Talbot,
You have recently been brought to our attention as a wizard. A wizard is a person who is in possession of magical gifts and abilities.
Looking worriedly at his mother, he commented, “I wonder how they found out about me.”
“They probably have some way to locate those who are capable of sudden or undirected surges of magick.” She suggested. “You probably popped up on their radar, when you took out the glass on Silvanus’ tank.”
“Yeah, that was probably it.” He had to agree with that reasoning. It was definitely the biggest piece of magick he’d done so far.
We are pleased to extend to you an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Our school is one of the most prestigious schools of magic in the world.
“Did you ever get one of these letters, mum?” Josh wanted to know.
“You mean from Hogwarts?”
“Or any other magic school?” He questioned. “This letter seems to imply that there’s more than one.”
“No, I never did.”
“I wonder why?”
His mother looked thoughtful. “When I was little and was learning to do magick, it still had to be hidden from the outside world. I learned early on that it wasn’t good to appear different, so I probably never popped up on their radar.”
Joshua nodded in understanding. Even today it wasn’t a good idea to appear too different. While being known as a practising Wiccan wasn’t going to get you stoned, burned at the stake, or have people shy away from you in fear, it still wasn’t a good idea to let anyone outside your circle, know that you could make things happen, or cast spells that actually worked.
“Is there any more to the letter?” His mother’s voice brought his attention back to the letter.
We realize this letter is unexpected and that you and your parents have many questions that need to be answered before you decide whether or not to accept our invitation to attend Hogwarts. Therefore we have arranged for a representative from our school to meet with your family at your home this evening.
“Well that’s going to be a problem,” his mother interrupted. “If you meet with this representative tonight, you won’t be able to go to that cup match with Dave and his Dad.”
Dave’s father had gotten tickets last month for one of the last Cup matches and he didn’t want to miss it.
“Given that it’s such short notice, maybe this school has an alternative date when we can meet with their representative.” Megan suggested.
Josh looked for the place where he’d left off on the letter:
We realise that since you were not expecting to receive this letter, it may not be possible for you to meet with our representative tonight. If that is indeed the case, please use the enclosed blank parchment to provide us with a date, time, and location where we can meet with you and your family. Since our school year begins on Sept 1st, we need to meet with you no later than July 31st.
If we have not received a message telling us you are unable to meet with us, then we will be there promptly at 7pm.
Checking the envelope, he found the blank piece of heavy paper and stared at it for a moment. “I don’t know how they expect to get this back before 7, even if there was a return address on the original envelope.”
“Well since it’s supposed to be a school of magic, maybe they have a magical way of getting it back.” His mother pointed out reasonably.
Setting the piece of parchment on the desk, he found his place again and continued:
Once you have provided the date, time, and location where we can meet with you, fold the parchment in half, touch it with your fingertips and say ‘Hogwarts.’ The letter will vanish and reappear at Hogwarts.
Also enclosed, you will find a list of all the supplies for the coming year as well as a ticket for the Hogwarts Express for September 1st. All of your school supplies can be purchased in Diagon Alley. If you will be attending Hogwarts, then arrangements will be made to take you to Diagon Alley to purchase the necessary supplies.
The Hogwarts Express leaves from King’s Cross Station in London promptly at 11am from Platform 9 3/4.
We congratulate you on your acceptance to our school and hope you have a pleasant summer.
“When would be a good day to do this, mum?”
“Well the next 3 days are out. I’ve got to get this project finished and delivered by the 29th.” Megan checked the wall calendar. “I suppose the best date would be the 30th. It doesn’t look like either one of us has anything planned on that day.”
“Want to do it in the morning, afternoon, evening, or leave it up to them?”
“Around noon, would probably be best,” she told him after a few moments consideration.
Snape: The Lesser of Two Evils
“Is there any other business that we need to discuss Minerva?” Dumbledore asked as he poured the Deputy Headmistress another cup of tea.
“Just two more items, Headmaster,” Professor McGonagall looked at her list. “Harry Potter’s Letter came back unopened this morning.”
Dumbledore sighed. “We knew that was a possibility. Ever since he was abandoned the only thing we’ve known for certain, is that young Mr. Potter is alive. If that were not the case even now, his name would have disappeared from our roll of prospective students.”
“I am well aware of that, Albus.” Professor McGonagall couldn’t help feeling a little frustrated by Dumbledore’s lack of concern about Harry Potter’s whereabouts.
“We know that Owl post will deliver to a person even if they have changed their name, because in their soul they still identify with their birth name.” Dumbledore continued, as if she hadn’t said anything. “Given the owl was unable to deliver the letter, it tells us that either Mr. Potter is unaware of his true identity, or else he is not in Great Britain. Since I doubt the Dursley’s left any clues to his identity on Harry when he was abandoned…”
McGonagall caught on, “which means if Mr. Potter is in Great Britain and has used magic, then there is a good chance that he will turn up among our muggle-born first years, under his adopted name. That’s if he responds to the letter at all.”
Since there was nothing he could do about the situation, Dumbledore was content to wait and see what happened. “What was the other matter, you wanted to discuss?”
“It concerns the visits to the families of our potential muggle first year students. Three of them have had to be rescheduled.” McGonagall told him. “While there was no problem with rescheduling the visits to Miss Granger or Mr. Warrell, Mr. Talbot is going to be a bit of a problem. He has indicated that July 30th around noon or any time after that, he and his mother could meet with a representative from our school. Unfortunately none of the staff members who are usually assigned to meet the muggle-born witches and wizards will be available on that date. Some have prior commitments that can not be changed and the remainder will be escorting some of the other muggle-born first years on their first visit to Diagon Alley.”
“Who is not on the list of usually assigned staff?” Dumbledore asked, as if he didn’t already know.
“Professor’s Quirrell, Snape, and Trelawney.” McGonagall told him. “And among the non-teaching staff, Filch, Madame Pomfrey, and Hagrid.”
“Filch can not be sent.” Dumbledore stated firmly. “Madame Pomfrey has told me she is going to go see to the birth of her first grandchild, so she also can not go. And while I have no reservations about sending Hagrid, I need him to go to Gringotts on the 31st and he will be going to the Leaky Cauldron the night before.”
“Well, this is not a task I would assign to Professor’s Quirrell or Trelawney.” McGonagall stated. “Ever since Quirrell’s return from his holiday a year ago, the man seems to be scared of his own shadow and that is not the sort of impression I want our school to make on a prospective student.”
“That leaves Professor Snape as the only possible candidate to visit the Talbots.” Dumbledore announced, his eyes twinkling.
“You must be joking.” She stared at the headmaster in disbelief. “While I will agree that Professor Snape is an excellent Potion’s Master, he has all the tact and sensitivity of a starving vampire.”
“Minerva, I think you underestimate Severus.” Dumbledore scolded her gently. “I have found him to be quite capable of being tactful and patient when the situation calls for it.”
McGonagall stared at the headmaster as though he had lost his mind. “Well since you think he is perfect for this particular job, then you should be the one to tell him. I have no great desire to find myself being cursed or hexed by Slytherin’s head of house.”
“I don’t foresee any difficulties in getting Severus to agree to visit young Mr. Talbot and his family.” Dumbledore assured her with a smile.
The Deputy Headmistress just shook her head in amazement. She was fairly certain that Albus Dumbledore could probably talk a werewolf out of biting him, but she wasn’t so sure he could ever convince Snape to be pleasant -- especially to a child. McGonagall knew that Snap wanted nothing to do with the students over the holidays, not even potential ones that was why she had never put him on the list of teachers to meet with the muggle-borns.
Knowing that Dumbledore as she did, She made plans to spend the rest of the day in Hogsmeade. She didn’t want to be anywhere near the castle when Dumbledore told Snape what he had been volunteered for. She was certain his displeasure would be felt from the deepest dungeon to the top of the Astronomy tower.
Found: One Harry Potter
July 30, 1991
Severus Snape stared at the muggle home he was to visit today, somewhat surprised by its appearance. The few muggle homes he’d had the misfortune of visiting, had all been uniformly bland in design. This home would not have looked out of place in either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade.
What he assumed was the main part of the house was a squat tower of at least two stories, possibly three given the conical roof. Jammed up against either side of the tower were smaller square sections that met up with the conical roof making them at least two stories as well. Embedded in the white wall of the tower over the door was a dark metal plaque that had a full moon and the words ‘Harvest Moon’ embossed on it.
As he headed for the door set into the tower, Snape wondered for the hundredth time how he’d let Dumbledore talk him into doing this. He knew that he was not a likeable person and on the whole preferred spending his free time working with his potions instead of dealing with people.
The heavy metal doorknocker was a bit of a surprise. He’d never expected to see a broomstick as a doorknocker on a muggle home. He rapped the knocker briskly and the door opened a few minutes later in response to his knock. Severus Snape then got his second surprise of the day.
It was several stunned minutes before Snape realized that the petite red-head, with the emerald green eyes couldn’t possibly be Lily Potter and also that she was speaking to him.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Snape felt awkward. He rarely apologized to anyone, let alone a muggle.
“I asked if you were all right.” Thankfully her voice while low and soothing was nothing like Lily’s. That would have been too much to take from a woman who bore a definite resemblance to Lily Potter. “You were looking at me like you’d seen a ghost.’
“I guess I did in a way,” Snape admitted reluctantly. He couldn’t help wondering how some of Lily’s old friends would react if they could see this muggle. “You look a lot like someone I used to know.”
She made no comment about that as she stepped back into the entry hall. “Are you the Professor from Hogwarts?”
“Yes. I am Professor Severus Snape the Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” As Snape stepped through the doorway, he felt a slight twinge of pain from the barely visible Dark Mark on his left arm. When the pain didn’t reoccur, his fear that Voldemort had somehow managed to return and was summoning his Deatheaters faded.
“I’m Megan Talbot, Joshua’s mother,” the muggle introduced herself, a slightly concerned expression on her face.
Before either of them could say another word, a young male voice shouted, “Mum, it’s cousin Penny!”
Megan led the way into a large circular sitting room. “Please make yourself comfortable and excuse me, I need to take this call. For Penny to call this early, it must be an emergency.”
“It’s afternoon.” Snape pointed out, felling slightly annoyed at the woman’s priorities. After all she and her son had chosen this meeting time.
“Yes it is -- here,” she agreed, not at all defensive, “but Penny lives in the Western United States. It’s around four in the morning there.” She picked up the phone.” “I’ve got it Josh. Would you Check on dinner, please?”
Snape wandered around the room, curious about the homey, welcoming feel the room gave off. It was similar in many ways to the feeling he got every time he entered Hogwarts. He wasn’t a complete stranger to muggle homes, but none of the others had ever felt remotely close to being at Hogwarts.
There were large candles lit and scattered about the room. There were also potted herbs as well as crystal clusters of rose quartz, amethyst, and citrine among others scattered about the room. The bookcases that were set into the curved walls were filled to over flowing with books and some of them appeared to be very old.
As he picked up an old book titled: ‘Herbal Remedies and tinctures’, he couldn’t help overhearing part of Mrs. Talbot’s conversation.
“Did Prue see what killed Patti?” She wanted to know.
A pause then, “How’s she taking it?”
“Do you need us to come over and give you a hand? We could catch the next available flight.” She offered.
”Do you want to send the girls over here for a while? I know Josh would love to see them again.”
“Well, if you change your mind let me know. Bye Penny.”
A slender boy with messy black hair came into the room and announced, “Chicken was done mum, so I took it out.”
“Thanks Josh,” she turned to Snape and said, “I hope you will join us for lunch. It’s not fancy, but I made plenty just in case.”
The aroma’s coming from the kitchen were making Snape’s mouth water and his stomach growled, reminding him that he hadn’t had breakfast this morning. “Thank you, I would be honoured.”
Mr. Joshua Talbot was proving to be an interesting puzzle for a muggle-born. Snape knew from some of the conversations he’d overheard in the staff room after the initial meetings with the prospective muggle-born first years and their families that the muggle-borns generally fell into one of two categories: They were either excited by the idea that they could and would be able to work real magic. Or they were scared of it and it took a lot of convincing to prove magic was real and get them to come to Hogwarts to be trained.
When he dealt with the first years in his potions class; he found that most of them whether muggle born, half-blood, or pure blood fell into one of four categories, regardless of which house they had been sorted into. They were either terrified of him because of the menacing persona he’d cultivated of the years. Or they acted so arrogant and certain of their own miniscule knowledge that they needed to be taken down a few pegs. Some were hot-tempered with poor listening skills and even poorer reasoning skills. Then there were those that had to be handled with the care he would give to a highly dangerous potion because their knowledge far exceeded their skills only they didn’t realize it.
This boy fit into none of the normal categories he would use. While somewhat knowledgeable on the medicinal aspects of basic herbs available outside the wizarding world, he certainly wasn’t arrogant about his knowledge. And while respectful toward him, he didn’t seem to be afraid of him, but then again he hadn’t seen Snape in his evil, greasy git, Potions Master persona either.
One other thing puzzled Snape about the boy. While he wasn’t all that remarkable at first glance, there was still something familiar about young Mr. Talbot that Snape couldn’t put his finger on.
The boy was small for an eleven year old, but then again his mother was also petite and the emerald green eyes beneath the shaggy black bangs had seemed to flash with green fire several times when they had been comparing different aspects of the muggle and wizarding worlds. The boy clearly had spirit, but he also seemed to have the wisdom to know when to hold his tongue. He had also shown that he had a keen mind by his well thought out questions about Hogwarts and the classes he would be taking if he went there. Snape had also been pleased by the attention both the boy and his mother had given to the answers he’d provided.
A pity he’s muggle-born, Snape thought. he would do well in Slytherin.
Lunch had been completed for some time before young Mr. Talbot ran out of questions.
Turning his attention back to the boy’s mother, Snape asked, “Do you have any more questions for me, madame? Or have you decided to allow your son to attend Hogwarts?”
“Joshua and I will make that decision together, but only after I have the answer to one more question.” She told him. “But I don’t know if you can provide the answer. There is also the matter of my seeing Hogwarts that has to be settled.”
“And what’s your question?” Snape was fairly certain that he could answer any question she had about Hogwarts. He also had no intention of discussing her seeing Hogwarts. No muggle had and no muggle ever would.
“Before leaving Harry Potter on their doorstep, did Albus Dumbledore bother speaking with the Dursleys to find out if they even wanted their nephew? Or did he just assume they would because they were the boy’s relatives?”
The muggle woman had again rendered him speechless. How could she possibly know about the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’, or that Dumbledore had been the one to leave Potter with the Dursleys?
With a peremptory tone in his voice, Snape demanded, “Mrs. Talbot, how do you know about Harry Potter, the Dursleys, or the fact that Albus Dumbledore has any connection with them?”
“I’ll thank you not to take that tone with me.” Megan countered crisply. “You are a guest in my house, but that can quickly change. As for how my son and I know the Dursleys, we met them a few months ago and while I found them to be the most narrow-minded group of bigots you would ever care to meet, I found that Mrs. Dursley to be very informative on the subject of Harry Potter and how he came to be with them, once the right persuasion was applied.”
“I find that very hard to believe, Mrs. Talbot.” Snape interrupted, disagreeing with her assessment of Mrs. Dursley. He had been the one sent by Dumbledore to make sure the Ministry hadn’t overlooked anything they needed to find the Potter brat and a more tight-lipped woman he had never met. “I found Mrs. Dursley extremely... resistant to discussing Potter. I still fail to understand your interest in the boy though. Do you and your son know him?”
“Maybe your people didn’t apply the right kind of pressure.” Megan mused. “I found her to be quite talkative, once she understood the cost of her silence, but then again I was already aware of what she and her husband had done. As for why I sought information on Harry Potter I wanted to know about my son’s life before I found him in a car park in Guildford.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” Snape demanded when he couldn’t see the identifying scar on the boy’s forehead. “Your son is no more Harry Potter than I am.”
“Well we know you are not Harry Potter,” Mrs. Talbot smiled, “but that was my son’s birth name, so no this is no joke.”
“Madame, if he is Harry Potter, then where is the scar that should be on his forehead?” Snape demanded.
The woman’s smile grew broader. “Let that which is concealed, now be revealed. Josh, if you would.”
The boy raised his bangs and as soon as Snape had a clear view of his forehead, a lightening bolt scar shimmered into view.
AN: In the next update for this story Dumbledore meets the Talbots.
Chapter 5: Take Care With Warlocks
Take Care With Warlocks
Snape stared at the scar wondering how it had been hidden. Dumbledore had told them it would be the easiest way to recognise Potter, given that it couldn’t be hidden by any magical means.
Beginning to get a little worried because this Hogwarts teacher continued to stare silently at him, Josh called, “Professor Snape.”
That seemed to shake the Professor out of his dazed state. Dumbledore needs to be told about this right away. “If you will excuse me, Mrs. Talbot, I must speak to Headmaster Dumbledore. I will be back soon.”
“Of course,” she nodded in understanding. “Bring him back with you since he will be the only one who will be able to answer my questions and probably the only one who can arrange my visit to Hogwarts. I would also ask that you keep my son’s identity quiet. I would like to avoid a riot.”
“You have my word that I won’t tell anyone other than the Headmaster, since he will need to know.” Snape didn’t want to think of the uproar there would be in the wizarding world if Harry Potter’s location were revealed. Not to mention what the former Deatheaters would do if they knew where to find him.
“Thank you,” Mrs. Talbot got up from the table, “Josh, please show the professor out.”
“That isn’t necessary.” Snape told her.
“Oh but it is.” She countered. “I saw that you didn’t arrive in a car and the wards that protect our home may block your method of travel.”
“What wards?” Snape couldn’t help sneering at the muggle woman. “I saw no wards.”
“You may not have seen them, but you certainly felt them.” Megan told him. “I have no doubt you felt a sharp stab of pain in your left forearm, where you bear the mark of having been touched by black magic, among other things. Given that they allowed you past my front door, the wards determined you were no immediate threat to my family.”
“And if I had been?” Snape was surprised that this muggle woman had somehow detected the Dark mark. Even the ministry had no way to detect it.
Without going into details, she told him, “You would have been dealt with and Josh would not be going to Hogwarts.”
Snape stared at the woman speechless. He didn’t know why, but something in him told him she meant every word she’d said. He was still so stunned by her matter-of-fact statement that instead of making his usual snide comments about something that should be impossible, he allowed young Mr. Talbot... no Potter to lead him to the front door.
Snape hurried from the apparation point up to the Headmaster’s office.
Slightly out of breath, Snape gasped, “Blood pops.”
The stone gargoyle moved out of the way and Snape hurried up the stairs.
Dumbledore was surprised when Snape burst into his office without knocking. “Ah, Severus, how did your meeting with the Talbot family go?”
Snape spent several seconds debating what to say. He didn’t want the whole school to know that Harry Potter had been found and the portraits were sometimes not known for their discretion, even the ones in the Headmaster’s office. “You need to come with me, right away, Headmaster.”
“I’m afraid that isn’t possible right now, Severus, at least not without some kind of explanation.” Dumbledore told him, waving at the desk of paperwork in front of him.
“They have information on that item you told me you were having trouble locating before the new school year started.” Snape told him carefully.
That got Dumbledore’s attention. “Are you sure?”
“As certain as I can be,” Snape replied. “Mrs Talbot has some questions for you before she considers releasing it to your charge, even for the school year.”
Dumbledore studied his Potions Master’s face for a moment then got up to head for the door.
Eyeing the garish colours of the man’s robes, Snape told him, “Headmaster, you might want to change into something less conspicuous, given that you will be going into a muggle area.”
Without batting an eye, Dumbledore waved his wand and his robes were transfigured into a muggle suit in sombre colours and not the usual colours he favoured. “Anything else Severus, before we leave?”
“Yes, just one thing,” Snape told him remembering what Mrs. Talbot had said about the Dark Mark. “I would be cautious around Mrs. Talbot I suspect that she is a witch with unknown powers.”
“Why would you think that?” Dumbledore asked curious.
“She claims to have wards that detected my Dark Mark and she somehow knew that it was not active right now.” Snape told him. “As far as I know we have nothing that can detect the Dark Mark.”
“Interesting,” Dumbledore sounded intrigued. “And she had no wand?”
“None that I could see,” Snape told him.
“Well let’s go meet this unusual witch that you have found.” Dumbledore headed down the stairs and toward the main entrance of Hogwarts.
Dumbledore looked at the home they’d apparated to with pleasure. It wasn’t often he saw a muggle home that felt like it had its own personality, but this one definitely did. As he approached it, he would swear that just like Hogwarts it was welcoming him.
Megan had to hold back to keep from laughing at the site of the elderly man standing in her doorway. He had a long white beard down to his knees and he was dressed in an old-fashioned tuxedo. If he had been wearing a robe she would have thought he could be mistaken for all the drawings she had ever seen of Merlin, King Arthur’s magician.
As she met his blue-eyed gaze she saw that he had the same stunned look on his face that Professor Snape had worn when he first caught sight of her. She made a mental note to ask him just who she was supposed to look like since they seemed to find her appearance so shocking.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Talbot.” The elderly stranger addressed her.
“Good afternoon,” as with Professor Snape, she didn’t bother to correct this person’s assumption that she was married.
“I am Albus Dumbledore the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Dumbledore introduced himself. “I understand that you wished to speak with me regarding Harry Potter.”
Stepping back to let the Headmaster and Professor Snape enter, she told him. “Yes, I have some questions that I need answered to my satisfaction before I will even think about allowing my son, Joshua, to attend your school. I also have one requirement that must be satisfied as well.”
“Joshua?” Dumbledore looked confused for a moment then smiled. “Oh that is the name you gave to Mr. Potter. I am curious about how you learned his real name.”
Since it wasn’t really a question, she didn’t have to answer it and Megan wasn’t about to volunteer any information she didn’t have to. “How I found out is my business. His name is Joshua Talbot. Harry Potter is simply the name given to him by his parents. It is not what he is known by.”
Dumbledore disagreed. “That is the name he is known by in the Wizarding World and once he starts school everyone there will be calling him by that name. Would you deny him the right to his proper name?”
“He chose to retain my name and not go back to the name his parents gave him, once we knew what it was, and that is the name he will be known by in the wizarding world and out of it.” Megan replied calmly then muttered softly. “Silence is golden so they say, so not one word about what you hear to others shall you say.”
Unaware of the spell that had just been cast on him, Dumbledore told her. “I’m afraid you are wrong there. Young Mr. Potter is quite famous in the Wizarding World. Once the people there see the scar on his forehead, for it is a very well known scar, they will call him Harry Potter because to them, that is who he is. He needs to be prepared for that. Where is Mr. Potter by the way I was hoping for a chance to speak with him?”
“He is currently playing football and will not be back until later. And it’s a bit late for you to be concerned about him don’t you think?”
Dumbledore stared at her a bit confused by the criticism. “I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are talking about. Of course I am concerned about Mr. Potter. I was friends with his family and knew him as a baby and he has been missing for almost ten years. Why wouldn’t I be concerned?”
“Considering what you did to him after his parents were dead, you will have to forgive me if I don’t believe your claims of concern for his well-being.” Megan responded tartly.
Before Dumbledore could come up with anything to defend his actions, she went on. “Now, I have a number of questions and one requirement that must be satisfied before I will even consider allowing my son to go to your school, shall we go into my office and discuss them?” At his nod of acceptance, she turned to Professor Snape and told him, “Professor, please stay in the main room or kitchen area while your headmaster and I have our little talk. The rest of the house is heavily warded and you will get a very nasty surprise if you go where you shouldn’t.”
Snape nodded indicating that he would obey her request. He had no reason to want to explore a muggle dwelling anyway, even if it did belong to an unusual witch.
Dumbledore followed her stunned. No one ever turned down a chance to go to Hogwarts. It was the most prestigious school of magic in Europe. Why would she consider letting Harry Potter go anywhere else? Was it because she too had gone elsewhere for her magical education? Snape had said that she used a form of magic that he had never seen before and he knew that some of the Asian and American schools taught different styles of magic. He had to convince her to let Harry come to Hogwarts. Dumbledore needed Harry Potter to be at Hogwarts. The British Wizarding community needed to be able to see its hero and know he was there if they needed him again. They had been waiting almost eleven years to welcome him and thank him and he doubted if they would be pleased at being denied that right.
“Mrs. Talbot, he has to go to Hogwarts.” Dumbledore told her once they were in her office and the door was closed. “There has been a Potter attending Hogwarts almost since the school was founded. Would you deny him a part of his birthright by refusing to allow him to go to the finest school of magic in Europe?”
“I’m denying him nothing.” Megan countered. “You’ve already done that by your own actions. Shall we get down to business?”
“Of course,” Dumbledore took a seat in the only other chair besides the one at the desk, an overstuffed armchair. “What is it you wish to know?”
“First, before you dumped my son on the Dursley’s front step, did you bother asking them if they wanted their nephew, or did you simply assume that they would take him in out of the goodness of their hearts?”
“I did make a mistake there.” Dumbledore admitted putting on a weary air that didn’t fool Megan for a minute. “I was unaware of just how deep Mrs. Dursley’s hatred of her sister ran.”
“But you were aware that there were problems between Mrs. Dursley and her sister. Given that you had that knowledge, why didn’t you bother to find out if they wanted the child before getting rid of him like unwanted trash?”
“For his own safety, it was imperative that there be no contact between the wizarding world and the Dursleys until it was time for Harry to go to school.” Dumbledore told her. “No one could know where I had placed Harry before he started at Hogwarts.”
“And knowing that Mrs. Dursley hated her sister, though loathed might be a better term, if the Dursleys had indeed kept Josh, how did you think they would have treated this unwanted intruder into their home and lives?” Megan watched him very carefully.
“I knew that he would not be pampered or loved and I couldn’t afford for him to be. I suspected they wouldn’t treat him well.” Dumbledore didn’t realize that he was being very candid with her where ordinarily he would have evaded the question, or at the very least given only a partial truth. “He has a tough life ahead of him and I needed him prepared to accept losses if the wizarding world was to survive.”
That’s the trouble with the truth spell Megan told herself. It won’t force a person to volunteer information just answer the question that was asked as fully as possible. “You wanted him to be abused by them so that he would be prepared to die for your wizarding world, because they would treat him like he was somebody instead of the stuff you would scrape off your shoe. You wanted him to see the wizarding world as his saviour would that be an accurate assessment?”
“The Wizarding world sees Mr. Potter as their saviour given that he saved them from a great evil when he was a little over a year old and they will expect him to continue in that role once he takes his proper place in our world. I needed him to see the wizarding world as better than the muggle one, if he is to properly defend it, but no I didn’t want him to die for it, unless there were no other way to save it. It was for the Greater Good.” Dumbledore told her and then looked horrified as he realized what he had said. “What did you do to me?”
“You’re under the influence of a truth spell. It makes you answer any question asked honestly and with no evasions.” She told him simply.
“Why would you feel the need to do such a thing?” He had felt no magic cast on him nor had he seen her use a wand. Severus had said she had unknown powers and he had just experienced it first hand.
“You left an infant with people who didn’t want it for your so called greater good and you have to ask why I would do such a thing?” Megan countered. “I wanted answers without polite evasions or half truths. I wanted to know why an adult could simply abandon a child to the whims of fate in the form of the Dursleys. You do realise that it is possible that if they had kept him, they might have killed him before he ever got old enough to go to your precious school. How would that have served your greater good? And more importantly who died and made you God? You only have the right to determine the course of your life. You do not have the right to make that decision for someone else when it isn’t your child, especially if they will have no say in the decision making process.”
Dumbledore bristled slightly at the implication that she thought he was trying to play god with someone’s life. “I was not playing god! I did want him to understand the nature of sacrifice. And young Harry was in no danger of death. The wards that had been put in place on the Dursley home insured they couldn’t take it that far.”
“But that still left them plenty of room to manoeuvre didn’t it?” Megan countered. “You didn’t care what happened to him, as long as he survived to become what you needed him to be. Didn’t it ever occur to you that if the Dursleys had kept him he might have become an evil person? Is that what you needed him to be? If so then he is definitely never setting foot in this wizarding world of yours.”
“No, I didn’t intend for him to become evil,” Dumbledore told her. He had to convince her. Harry was needed in the wizarding world. “I needed him to understand what it is he is going to be fighting. He had to understand the evil before he could defeat it.”
“And just what is this evil my son is supposed to defeat? How did it come to be and why is my son the only one who can defeat it?” Megan demanded.
Knowing he had no choice but to tell her, Dumbledore told her about Voldemort and his first rise to power and his defeat because of Harry’s mother’s sacrifice. He also briefly mentioned the Prophecy, mentioning it very quickly and moving on, hoping she would miss the mention of it. The last thing he needed was her asking him the contents of the prophecy with her truth spell on him.
“One final question, at least for now,” Megan told him once he had finished outlining the events that led up to Josh being left with his relatives. “Why did you leave him at the Dursleys, knowing that his Aunt hated his mother and would most likely hate him too? Surely there were other families that would or could have taken him in, even if they weren’t related to him.”
“The main reason for leaving Harry with the Dursleys was for his own protection.”
“Oh really,” She gave him a look of disbelief. “I have to question your idea of protection then, not to mention your mental state. Why would you, or anyone else for that matter, consider that family to be a safe to leave him or any other magical child with?”
There was no way he was going to be able to avoid it. “I placed Blood wards around the Dursley’s home. When Harry’s mother sacrificed herself to save Harry, she left her protection all over him and I knew that as long as he lived with his mother’s blood kin, he would be safe from any witch or wizard who wished to do him harm as long as he called the Dursley’s house his home.”
Megan looked at him both shocked and angry. “Blood Wards! You attempted to place a child in what surely would’ve been hell if the gods hadn’t intervened because you thought blood wards would keep him safe there! I don’t know where you got your facts about blood wards from, but wherever it was I would suggest not using it for anything ever again. For your information, in order for blood wards to work properly they require a very specific emotion to be present, in the case of what you wanted to accomplish... love. Those so-called blood wards that you put up would have been totally ineffective given that there would have been no love on either side, in fact they probably would have had the opposite effect, especially given that once he was old enough to understand that he wasn’t loved there, Josh probably would’ve never thought of that place as his home, negating any protection they might’ve provided.”
“And just how do you know so much about blood wards?” Dumbledore wanted to know.
“What do you think forms part of the basis for the protections around my home?” Megan countered. “I have few more questions and then we will get to my requirement. Why did this Voldemort want to kill the Potters anyway and is he dead or not?”
Chapter 6: ItÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s Alive! ItÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s Alive!
AN: Megan is going to act like the tourists in the Mark Twain novel “Innocents abroad”. The one who no matter what marvels they were shown reacted with boredom. According to the story they did it to frustrate the guide and it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. I hope I succeeded as well. Also need to give credit and thanks to Lady Stormrider and Seulwofe for their help with Lily's meeting with the Talbots. Still not completely happy with it, so it may be revised later.
/words words and more words/ = mental conversations/telepathy
words, words and more words = thoughts and spells
It’s Alive! It’s Alive!
“You must be mad!” Snape stared at the headmaster in disbelief. “You can’t seriously be thinking of taking a witch with unknown powers I might add to Hogwarts!”
“I’m afraid I am.” Dumbledore replied calmly. “She refuses to even consider the idea allowing Mr. Potter to attend Hogwarts unless she has seen the school first. Nothing I said would change her mind.”
Snape stared at the petite red head across the room putting some things into a shapeless bag, stunned. He’d never thought he would live to see the day that someone who was not a politician out-manoeuvre Albus Dumbledore and even those politicians, Snape suspected, hadn’t gotten the best of him because he’d merely gone around them to get what he wanted anyway. He was also fairly certain that the only reason Dumbledore had given in was because the child in question was Harry Potter. If it had been any other witch or wizard who had made this request and was refusing to allow their child to go, he was certain the Headmaster would have refused the request without another word. It was clear that Dumbledore was determined to have Potter at Hogwarts and would do whatever it took to get him there. He sighed at the favouritism and knew that it would only get worse once Potter was at Hogwarts.
“Are you ready to go, Mrs. Talbot?” Dumbledore wanted to know.
“I am.” She joined the waiting pair of wizards.
“I have taken the liberty of making a return portkey out of one of your crystals.” Dumbledore held up a large piece of double-terminated quartz crystal. “This will allow you to return here once we are done. All you will need to do is hold it in your hand and say ‘home’.”
Megan could tell from the expression on Dumbledore’s face that he was expecting her to ask what a portkey was, but she didn’t oblige him. From the very words she assumed that it was a spell tied to an object that allowed you to teleport from one place to another, instead of using the spell itself. While she didn’t say anything, she thought the method was rather inefficient. After all what happened if you lost the portkey?
Dumbledore had had arranged for the portkey to deposit them at the edge of the lake with a full view of the castle.
“Welcome to Hogwarts, Mrs. Talbot.”
Megan was impressed with the sprawling castle and the countryside surrounding it, but what took her breath away was the huge pool of power she could feel pulsing beneath her feet. The ability to work earth magic that she had gotten from her mother enabled her to feel the ley lines and locate the nodes that were used to work the more powerful magick's but she could honestly say that she had never felt so much power pooled in one place before. She couldn’t help wondering what such a large node of magic was being used for, not to mention how they managed to keep evil magic users and demons who would’ve loved to get their hands on that much raw magical power away from it.
Snape spoke up before Megan could say anything. “If you two will excuse me, I have potions I need to make for the hospital wing.”
“Of course, Severus,” Dumbledore nodded.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Professor Snape,” Megan told the Potions teacher before he left. “Maybe we will meet again.”
“Madame,” Snape nodded slightly in her direction before stalking off.
“If you will please come with me, Mrs. Talbot we can get this tour under way, so that you will see this is the best magical school for Mr. Potter to attend.” Dumbledore led the way to the school’s main entrance.
Megan followed all of her senses on the alert. While she was fairly certain that Dumbledore himself wouldn’t do anything obvious to force her compliance, that wouldn’t prevent someone else from doing it on his behalf, so that she would agree to Josh’s coming here.
As they stepped through the double doors to the entry hall, Megan softly muttered, “Powers above and below, protect me, mind body and soul, so that I return home safe and whole.”
/Who works the old magick?/ A female voice whispered in Megan’s head.
Megan barely restrained her gasp of surprise as she pretended to study the entrance hall. She wasn’t a telepath. She was an empath. How could someone be talking in her head? Her empathic gift was telling her the unseen speaker wasn’t any threat to her, but she couldn’t find them and it was proving very frustrating.
“Headmaster!” A woman’s voice called from the top of the stairway. Megan knew this wasn’t the one who had spoken in her head, because her speaking voice wasn’t even close to that mental voice. The mental one had sounded younger as if it belonged to a young person, but not a child.
“Headmaster,” the woman called again as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “Minister Fudge is waiting for you in your office. He said it was important that he speak with you.”
Dumbledore sighed and turned to Megan,” “I’m afraid that our tour is going to be delayed. I must meet with the Minister of Magic and see what he wants.”
“Is there anyone else who could give me the tour?” Megan wanted to know. “I don’t want to take up any more of your time than is necessary. Not to mention the fact that I do have other things I need to do today as well.”
Dumbledore inwardly cursed Cornelius for his bad timing. He had wanted to give this witch the tour himself, because he needed to be able to gauge her reactions to the school. “I believe that Professor McGonagall who is the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts should be able to give you the tour you want and answer any questions you may have about the classes. Give me a few moments to speak with her.”
/Who are you?/ The unseen speaker was back.
/Megan Talbot,/ She thought back. /Who are you?/
/I am Hogwarts,/ the voice told her proudly. /Are you a follower of the greenway?/
Megan wasn’t sure how to answer. /I am Wiccan if that’s what you mean./
/You follow the way of life magic?/ Hogwarts persisted trying to identify what she was. /The last time we had a follower of the greenway here and I spoke with them, they told me their primary belief was to harm none wherever and whenever possible, unless in defence of self or another. She was one who believed in the balance of light and dark within and that there couldn’t be one without the other./
It was a fairly simple way of defining the Wiccan beliefs but it was accurate enough. Megan told the castle, /By that definition then yes, I am a follower of the greenway./
/Are you here to teach?/ Hogwarts asked eagerly. /I’ve missed having someone to talk to. No one can really hear me any more. Well, except for the headmaster and he can’t really hear me all that well. Not to mention that they really need someone to teach the other ways to do magic. They’ve lost and forgotten so much./
/I’m afraid not,/ Megan told the castle. /I’m here to see if I will be sending my son here in the fall./
/And will he be coming here?/ Hogwarts asked eagerly.
/I don’t know,/ Megan admitted. /There are a number of things that have to be resolved before I will consider it and if he does come it will not be under the name they want him to be known by./
“Mrs. Talbot,” Professor McGonagall tapped Megan on the shoulder, pulling her out of her conversation with the castle. Then gasped as she got her first good look at this witch’s face.
“You know you’re the third person to react as if you were seeing a ghost when you look at me,” Megan said tiredly. “Just who is it I look like? It must be someone dead for you to have this strong a reaction.”
McGonagall hated being taken by surprise, but answered the woman’s question, since she had the right to know. “You look a great deal like one of my ex-students. There are a few minor differences, but you look enough like her to be her twin. She was one of my favourite students and a good friend after she graduated. Her name was Lily Evans Potter and she died October 31, 1980.”
Megan nodded, wondering why she was not surprised by this news. “Shall we get on with the tour? I’m sure you have things you need to do as do I.”
McGonagall nodded and led the way to the Great Hall. She had expected more questions regarding the dead woman she looked like, but none were forthcoming. “This is the Great Hall. All students take their meals here as well as other things.”
Megan studied the ceiling that at the moment was reflecting a cloudless sky.
“That is charmed to reflect the sky outside.” McGonagall told her.
Megan nodded without comment and turned her attention to the banners over the four tables. “What is the significance of the banners?”
“Each banner represents one of the four houses in Hogwarts. Gryffindor,” Megan could hear the pride in the Deputy Headmistress’ voice at the mention of that house, “Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Upon their arrival the first year students are sorted into one of the four houses. The house becomes like their family here. Their achievements will earn their house points, while rule breaking will get them removed.”
“Upon what is this segregation based and who is the final arbiter?” Megan wanted to know. McGonagall missed hearing the note of disapproval in Megan’s voice, but the castle caught it.
/You disapprove?/ Hogwarts asked. /The students have been placed in their houses this way for centuries./
/I disapprove of forcing a child into a mould they may not fit./ Megan told it. /If for some reason a child’s personality changes so they no longer fit the house they were placed in, they may have no way to change to one that suits them better./
/But they do./ Hogwarts told her. /It hasn’t been done in several hundred years, but a student can request a resorting, if they feel they no longer belong to the house they were sorted into./
Unaware of the conversation going on between Megan and Hogwarts, McGonagall told her, “The Sorting is done by the Sorting Hat. The students are Sorted based on their primary personality characteristics. Gryffindor is for the brave; Ravenclaw is for the wise or studious; Hufflepuff is for those who are hardworking but do not usually seek fame and Slytherin is for those who are cunning.”
“You keep mentioning Slytherin last, is there a reason for that?”
McGonagall hesitated a moment before telling her. “Slytherin house has a reputation for producing Dark Wizards and witches. It is where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named recruited most of his followers from. The house is also made up primarily of Pure Bloods and maybe a few half-bloods which makes it one of the smaller Houses. There hasn’t been a muggle-born sorted into that House in several centuries. I think the Sorting Hat knows it would be too dangerous for them. The pure bloods that make up Slytherin house, both former and current believe that purity of Blood matters above all else.”
“Oh… bigots,” Megan nodded in understanding, then as she turned to leave the Great Hall she added, “If these pure bloods practice what they preach, then genetics will take care of the problem for you.”
/Genetics?/ “Genetics?” Hogwarts and McGonagall asked at the same time. Neither of whom had heard the term before.
“Genetics.” Megan repeated and at the blank look on McGonagall’s face asked, “Don’t you know about genetics?”
/No./ “I’ve never heard the term before,” McGonagall told her stiffly.
“Don’t you teach the Physical Sciences here?” Megan asked. “You know Biology, Chemistry, Physics and that sort of thing.”
“I’ve never heard of those classes before either.” McGonagall felt like she was on the defensive and didn’t like it at all.
“Have you got a chalkboard and chalk? Because while I could explain the basics, it probably won’t make sense to you without a visual aid, since you don’t have the frame of reference needed to understand what I’m talking about.” Megan told McGonagall and Hogwarts.
“Never mind,” McGonagall told her. “Just answer me one question. Is this genetics a muggle thing?”
“Muggle?” Megan appeared baffled for a moment then said, “No, it’s a human thing, though those who can not use magic have made a very intensive study of it. They’ve even started mapping our genetic makeup to try and see if they can come up with ways to prevent or eradicate diseases.”
“So it is a muggle thing, I thought so.” McGonagall concluded, leading her to the Gryffindor dorms. “These are the Gryffindor dorms. The rooms for the boys are up the left hand stairs and the ones for the girls are on the right.”
“Whoever designed these rooms certainly had a thing for red didn’t they.” Megan commented after looking into the boys dorm area.
“Godric Gryffindor’s colours were scarlet and gold.” McGonagall took the comment as an insult to her house.
“That doesn’t change the fact that the red is a bit overdone.” Megan countered. “What’s next?”
/Do you really not like the dorms?/ Hogwarts wanted to know.
/They look fine,/ Megan assured the castle. /There is just something about this woman that makes me want to tweak her tail to get a reaction./
/Well, you certainly are doing that,/ Hogwarts observed. /Did you know that sometimes she does indeed have a tail to tweak?/
/She does? Is she a demon?/ Megan wanted to know.
/That depends on who you ask./ Hogwarts commented mischievously, /but if you mean a real demon then no. She is an animagus and her form is that of a cat./
/Oh really!/ Megan made a mental note to ask the cats that lived near her home if they could detect humans pretending to be cats. She knew the truth spell she had cast shortly after midnight would keep anyone she asked a question from remembering they had even spoken to her or Josh, but it was always possible if she did send Josh to this strange school that at some point that they would realise that he had been born Harry Potter.
As McGonagall led the way to the classrooms, Megan asked, “Professor, why among the required supplies, do you have parchment, quills, and ink? Why don’t you simply use ballpoint pens and spiral notebooks? I would think those would be a lot easier to carry around, not to mention a lot less messy.”
“Those are the standard supplies for Hogwarts or any other magical school in Europe. They have been used for centuries.” McGonagall was beginning to get annoyed with this woman’s questioning the way things were done.
“Just because it’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do them now.” Megan pointed out. “A spiral notebook would make it easier for students to keep track of their notes for classes and I would think that the note taking would be easier with a ballpoint pen since there would be less splotches on the paper.”
“Mrs. Talbot,” McGonagall told her through clenched teeth. “Hogwarts is a school steeped in tradition and with a long history of turning out quality witches and wizards, using our current methods. We have no reason to change the way we teach since it works best for us.”
“That may be so, Professor McGonagall, but if people become too hidebound, there is no growth and that leads to stagnation and eventual death. Nothing stays the same forever, no matter how much we might wish it would. Growth and change are a normal part of life,” Megan pointed out. “Surely you know that without growth spiritual or otherwise there is only death.”
“Death?” A slightly hollow sounding voice echoed, then asked, “Has someone seen a death?”
/Oh great, the dingbat has come down out of her tower./ Hogwarts commented grumpily. /I should have been paying more attention cause I would have kept her away from you./
/Who is she?/ Megan asked as she caught sight of a woman draped in shawls and looking like the worst sort of gypsy fortune teller.
/Sybil Trelawney,/ Hogwarts sighed. /She teaches divination to third year and above students. Her favourite parlour trick is to pick one student and predict their death in all sorts of horrible ways./
/Does she really have the gift of premonition or prophecy?/
/I’ve only heard her give one prophecy about nine years ago that sounded different from her usual rot and she never remembered it afterward./ Hogwarts told her. /No one else heard it either./
“No, Sybil,” McGonagall sounded exasperated. “No one has seen a death today, not even you. Why have you left your tower?”
“I felt the vibrations of a strange presence within the castle and was prompted by Fate to come investigate.” Sybil looked Megan over. “You are the strange presence I felt. You bring great change with you. Though for good or ill I can not tell.”
“I hope it is a good change, though change is not always appreciated,” Megan told her with a glance at McGonagall. “Are you a teacher here?”
“Yes I am,” Sybil seemed pleased by the question. “I teach the often misunderstood art of divination. I teach students who have the gift of the inner eye how to pierce the veil and see the past as well as the future.”
“A weighty gift indeed,” Megan told her. “Be sure to exercise it with care though, I once knew someone who did not. She would not tell the whole truth when she had true visions and made up things when she saw nothing . Her gift drove her mad in retribution for her abuse of it.”
Sybil stared at her, her mouth open. Then she started backing away as if she were afraid Megan’s words would bring that fate down on her.
/Oh very good!/ Hogwarts congratulated her. /I don’t think it ever occurred to Sybil Trelawney that her gift might bite back because she was abusing it and pretending to see things she didn’t. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work for her all that well./
“Was that a true story?” McGonagall asked, hiding a smile at Sybil’s rapid retreat.
“Partly,” Megan admitted. “A friend of mine had a gift for seeing the past and future that was so strong, she literally got lost in her visions and couldn’t separate them from reality. Having the gift of visions is not an easy one to bear, especially if you can’t control it.”
The next part of the tour proved to be very frustrating to Professor McGonagall. She was used to visitors being impressed with Hogwarts, especially if they had never attended the school, but no matter what she showed Mrs. Talbot it failed to impress her. She also usually found some minor flaw in it as well.
Finally when they were in the library and Mrs. Talbot noted that they had no books on muggle subjects in addition to the magical ones, McGonagall finally asked, “Madame, since you find this school so lacking in what you consider essential, why are you even considering sending your son here? Why not send him to the same magical school that you went to, since you obviously believe it to be superior?”
“I would do so Professor, if I had ever actually gone to a magical school.” Megan countered as she left the library. “I went to a regular school and then university where I got a degree in computer programming. My father taught me how to used my magical gifts at home the way it has been done in my family for centuries. As for why I am considering your school, it is because you may be able to teach Josh things I could not. However I am beginning to reconsider that idea because I want my son to have a balanced education so that no matter where he chooses to live he will be able to earn a living. Your educational program seems to be lop-sided in what it teaches. You only teach about magic and none of the practical courses like history, math, the sciences, or any other courses a person might need if they chose or for whatever reason have to live and work outside the magical enclaves your headmaster mentioned to me.”
McGonagall could say nothing to counter this, because she knew that a small number of the muggle-borns left the wizarding world soon after graduation, due to their inability to get a job in it and the wizarding world had to bear the cost of their re-education so they could at least enter university so they stood a chance of getting a job in the muggle world. The problem was that even if the pure bloods wouldn’t raise a big stink about the muggle classes, there was no reason to teach those kinds of courses at Hogwarts when only a fraction of the students ever left the magical world once they entered it and so there would be no interest in them. The lure of being able to do magic usually outweighed how a muggle-born felt about the type of job they wound up doing.
“Is there anything else you feel I need to see, before you return me to the Headmaster?” Megan asked when they reached the entry hall.
“Other than the green houses which are currently closed so our Herbology teacher Professor Sprout can remove some pests, no. You have seen those portions of the castle that a student will be able to get access to.” McGonagall told her after a few moment’s thought.
“Then I think I am ready to speak with the Headmaster.” Megan told her.
McGonagall entered Dumbledore’s office at his invitation and expected to find him alone, but Minister Fudge was still with him.
“Dumbledore we need to locate him!” Fudge was sounding anxious. “The Daily Prophet will have a field day if they find out he has been missing this long and we have kept it from them.”
“Cornelius,” Dumbledore’s tone was reassuring as he glanced quickly at Megan who had come in behind Professor McGonagall. “His name is still on the rolls for students who will be attending this year, so it is possible he will be here, but just under a different name. He will be recognisable though, because that scar of his can not be hidden.”
“There has to be something you can do to locate him before then.” Cornelius stated pompously.
“I’m afraid not,” Dumbledore told him. “We tried all available methods for locating him when he first vanished and they turned up nothing. I have a feeling they would still turn up nothing even if we were to try them again. Now if you will excuse me, Cornelius, I have some business to finish with up with this lady.”
The Minister jammed his lime green pin-striped bowler hat on his head and stormed out of the office.
As she took a seat, Megan commented, “It’s nice to see that politicians seem to want to pass the blame around no matter what office they may occupy.”
“Minister Fudge serves our people well.” Dumbledore countered dryly.
Megan shrugged, “if you say so.”
“Shall we get down to business?” Dumbledore asked
“Of course,” Megan agreed, then glanced at McGonagall.
Dumbledore was quick to realise that she didn’t want the Deputy Headmistress included in these discussions. “Minerva, I want to thank you for showing Mrs. Talbot around. I will take it from here, after all you do have things to do before the start of term after all.”
McGonagall sniffed and stalked out. Megan was willing to swear that if she had been in the cat form Hogwarts told her about, her tail would have been lashing quickly back and forth as evidence of her displeasure.
“Well, now that you have seen Hogwarts, I’m sure you will agree this is the best place for Harry Potter to receive his magical education. As well as the safest.” Dumbledore began. “Not to mention that we do have a reputation of providing the very best magical education.”
/Harry Potter is your son?/ Hogwarts couldn’t believe what she was hearing. There had been lots of discussion among the teachers about him over the last few months.
/His name is Joshua Alexander Talbot./ Megan told Hogwarts. /He may have been born Harry Potter, but he chose to keep my name. Dumbledore keeps insisting on calling him Harry Potter which is one of the reasons, I am considering not allowing Josh to come here. I gather that Harry Potter is a somewhat famous name and the headmaster was forced to give me the bare bones of why. I do not intend to allow my son to be practically worshipped for something he a) can’t remember and b) may not have done to this Voldemort./
/The only one in the wizarding world who calls him Voldemort is Dumbledore. Everyone else calls him things like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and You-know-Who./ Hogwarts told her.
/You’ve got to be kidding me!/ Megan was certain it was a joke. /They’re afraid to say the name of their enemy! They’ve willingly given him that much power over them, even though he is either dead or powerless right now./
/I’m afraid so./
Unaware of the conversation going on between Megan and Hogwarts, Dumbledore asked, “Mrs. Talbot, are you going to allow Harry Potter to attend Hogwarts?”
“No, Harry Potter will not be attending Hogwarts.” Megan didn’t elaborate.
Dumbledore didn’t bother to hide his shock. “Why not?’
“There are several reasons like; while the magical education you provide may be one of the best, I say may because I’m not in any position to judge that, you offer no courses for any students who may desire a life outside your magical enclaves.” Megan told him. “Courses like history of the country you live in, math and the physical sciences like chemistry, biology, and engineering, among other things.”
Dumbledore smiled. “Once a child enters the magical world they rarely want to leave it and therefore we see no reason to teach our students about them. We do offer a class on muggles that is taught from third year on and is generally enough to help a wizard get by in the muggle world when they have to go into it.”
“Really!” Megan drew the word out. “Then try answering these questions for me Headmaster. What is meant by the term ‘genetics’? Your Deputy Headmistress didn’t know the answer to that and it is a very important issue in the non-magical world right now and you may start to find that it’s affecting your own people, especially the pure bloods. Name three dangerous chemical compounds that can kill if inhaled? At least one has made the news in several countries as a favourite weapon of terrorists. What Union is Great Britain currently thinking about becoming a member of? And last but not least, what is the major construction project currently being carried out by Britain and France that is to connect the two countries?”
Dumbledore stared at her in amazement. She expected him to answer questions on current events in the muggle world? “I fail to see what my being able to answer these questions has to do with Harry Potter attending Hogwarts.”
“Thank you for proving my point,” Megan smiled. “Professor McGonagall showed me the section of the library devoted to what are called muggle studies, but the books I looked at all appear to be written from the wizarding world’s point of view and are full of inaccuracies not to mention what information is accurate is at least sixty to seventy years out of date. If those are what you are using to teach young witches and wizards about those who can not work magic, it is no wonder they have problems when they leave the magical enclaves, unless they came from families that couldn’t work magic in the first place.”
Deciding to get the discussion back on track, Dumbledore asked, “You said there were other reasons. What are they?”
Megan’s face took on a solemn expression. “Because I have no real desire for my son to become an object of veneration if not outright worship. And I don’t trust you to take proper care of my son, considering the decisions you have previously made regarding him. You want him under your control and I am going to deny you access to him.”
“While Harry Potter is viewed as a hero, I sincerely doubt that he would be viewed as an object of veneration. And definitely not as an object of worship.” Dumbledore disagreed. “And I do not intend any harm to come to Mr. Potter. He is very important to me and to the whole of the wizarding world. We need him here.”
“Please Dumbledore, I’m not stupid, please don’t treat me as if I am.” Megan held up her hand and began counting off points on it. “One: You have adults so afraid of the local villain they won’t even say his name, calling him something stupid like He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named. And even after said villain tries to kill an infant, fails, and hasn’t been seen since that attempt, the adults are still afraid to use his name and have probably passed this fear of his name on to their children. Two: These self same adults and their children, who are so afraid to say the bad guy’s name, are going to regard the now school age child who got rid of him as somehow larger than life and will treat him as if he were a rock star or as someone worthy of sainthood and their personal worker of miracles. And if for some reason he fails to live up to their unrealistic expectations of what he should be they will try and rip him to shreds. Three: As for your need and the wizarding world’s need, I don’t trust any of you so you all can go hang. It’s what my son needs that matters. And finally four: I will say it again; Harry Potter is not going to Hogwarts.”
Before Dumbledore could say anything further, Megan pulled the quartz crystal portkey out of her pocket and said, “home.”
“Mum!” Josh called out in surprise when his mother suddenly appeared in the middle of their sitting room.
“An interesting method of travel,” Megan commented absently, “but I don’t think I would like to do it too often.”
Curious Josh asked, “What kind of travel?”
“Dumbledore called it a portkey. They are apparently able to use their magic to turn an ordinary object like this,” She held up the double-terminated quartz crystal, “into something that will teleport you to a preset location. This just brought me back from Hogwarts.”
“What was Hogwarts like?” Josh didn’t bother trying to hide his interest.
“Interesting is the best word to describe it,” his mother told him after a moment’s thought. “Hogwarts is alive, or at the very least it’s sentient, though I doubt those who work there are aware of it. The castle sounded lonely and she kept putting in her own two pence about the things the Deputy Headmistress was showing me on out tour.”
From the smile on his mother’s face, Josh was willing to bet that some of the castle’s comments had been pithy and unexpected.
“Am I going to Hogwarts?” Josh asked.
“That has yet to be decided and it will be the two of us making the decision, not just me.” His mother told him. “There were a lot of things that I learned from this Dumbledore that didn’t make me happy. The problem is there are probably a few things I missed getting information on, because I didn’t know I needed to ask the questions. And I can’t ask them of him now, even if I knew how to get back to Hogwarts because I might not make it back in time.”
“When does the Truth spell wear off?” Josh asked.
“A few minutes after midnight,” there was definite smirk on his mother’s face as she contemplated the fact that no one she had spoken to at Hogwarts would even remember meeting her. And Professor Snape wouldn’t remember meeting Josh or that he was in fact Harry Potter. Nor would any of them be aware that they had lost any time.
“What did you find out?” Josh sat down on the couch.
Megan proceeded to give her son all the information she had gathered from Dumbledore and about the school itself, including the prophecy that might or might not be referring to him. She had never been one to shelter her son from the bad that happened in the world. It was her opinion that knowing about the evil that people could do made him more able to defend himself and others against it when needed.
After explaining the shortcomings of the classes taught at Hogwarts, Megan told him, “If you do go to Hogwarts, we will have to come up with a cover story for your friends about where you are going, not to mention why you suddenly decided to go there instead of to Jermyn’s private academy, because I doubt that non-magical mail goes to that school. Not to mention that you will not see them for at least nine or ten months.”
Josh’s face took on a thoughtful look, “Do I really have to go?”
“I would say no, but they may have some way to try and force you to go.” Megan looked equally thoughtful. “They don’t want those who can’t work magic to know that magic exists, even though the only form of magic they seem to know about is the wanded kind. Also, at least right now, Dumbledore knows you are Harry Potter and while he doesn’t know that he won’t remember after tomorrow, I am willing to bet just about any amount of money he is working on a way to try and convince you to come over the objections I gave him. Dumbledore thinks you are the one spoken of in this prophecy of his, though if this Voldemort is really gone then you’ve already fulfilled it. If he isn’t then if Dumbledore finds out your birth name is Harry Potter, he will try to manipulate you into the mould he wants you to fit, using your lack of knowledge about the magical world to manipulate you. They want Harry Potter there and they aren’t going to take no for an answer. That may be the case for any child capable of working their form of magic.”
Josh nodded his head in understanding. “I think we need to see one of these enclaves, before we make a final decision. We also need more information on their kind of magic and whether or not they would force a child who doesn’t want to go to their schools to go.”
His mother nodded. “I was planning on us going to London tomorrow to check one of them out. McGonagall told me how to access Diagon Alley which is one of the main magical enclaves for the wizarding world in Britain. She also told me they have a different system of money there.”
Josh’s eyes widened at the thought of entering a previously unknown world.
“As for the other item,” Megan added. “I think we need to speak with one of your parents. They should know if the wizards have some way to force reluctant students to agree to come to school. Given they are no longer in this world, they will have no agenda regarding what happens to you either in or out of the wizarding world, other than maybe a desire to see you are happy.”
“I thought you said the best time to call them was at Samhain?” Josh reminded her.
“It is,” she agreed, “because then they could stay longer, but we can’t afford to wait. We have to have a decision for the staff at Hogwarts by tomorrow.”
“Which one are we going to summon?” Josh wanted to know.
“I think we should try for your birth mother, Lily Potter.”
After dinner, Josh and his mother went up to the attic to do the spirit calling spell. His mother had explained to him that since she wasn’t related by blood to Lily Potter she wouldn’t be able to do the spell as effectively as he would.
Once the candles and crystals were laid out in their proper pattern, Josh stood near the candle on the western side of the circle and focusing all his thoughts on the name ‘Lily Potter’ chanted:
Hear me now,
Hear my cry,
Spirit from the other side,
Cross now the great divide.
There was no immediate response, so following his mother’s previous instructions, he repeated the chant several more times.
After the seventh repetition of the spell, the ghostly image of a woman who resembled his mother appeared within the circle of light created by the crystals and candles.
As her image became clearer, Josh stood staring at her in amazement. Even though his mother had warned him that the wizards saw a huge resemblance between her and his dead mother, he doubted that even she had expected this close a resemblance. Lily Potter looked like his mum’s identical twin.
"Where am I? How did I get here?" Josh was grateful her voice sounded very different from his mum’s otherwise it would have been just too weird. He looked over at his mum, whom he could barely see on the far side of their ritual room and realised she was just as surprised by Lily’s appearance. After all what were the odds of two women who looked like identical twins being his mother? They were so slim as to be impossible. He couldn’t help wondering what was going through his mum’s mind as he stared at her ghostly twin.
Lily looked around the attic before settling her attention on Josh. He looked like a child and was the only one she could clearly see in the shadow-filled room. "You look like a younger James, but that’s impossible. Deaging potions won’t work on him any more. Who are you?”
Looking into the deeply shadowed area outside the circle of candlelight, Lily called, “James, if you got one of your friends to participate in one of your stupid pranks, you’re going be sleeping on the couch…. in the shed…. for a week."
“This isn’t a prank.” Josh told her. “I was born Harry Potter. And according to what I’ve been told you’re my mother.”
"You're..." Lily covered her mouth with her trembling fingers, "…my baby?… Harry?" she said softy her eyes growing moist with tears.
Josh nodded as Lily Potter stared at him with tears streaming down her ghostly face and a look of such longing. She moved toward the edge of the circle, her hand extended. “I never thought I would see you again.”
Not knowing how Lily would react to seeing someone who appeared to be her identical twin and not wanting to set her off before they got the answers they needed about whether or not the wizarding world had a way to compel a child to go to a magical school, Megan spoke up from the shadows near the bookcases that lined the walls. “Lily Potter don’t step past the edge of the circle of candles or you will return to the other side, where you came from. The spell that was used to bring you here is also what is allowing you to remain here, but only so long as you don’t leave the circle of light.”
The corners of Lily’s mouth tightened in annoyance at being ordered about by someone she couldn’t see and who seemed to want to keep her from her son. Lily glanced over into the shadows where the woman’s voice had come from before turning all her attention back to her son. “Who is she? And where are we? How did you bring me here? Where are Sirius and Remus?”
Josh looked over at his mum and she nodded. “Her name is Megan Talbot, my adoptive mother….”
“You mean someone was actually crazy enough to marry Sirius!” Lily sputtered in surprise, having missed the word ‘adopted’. “I think James will faint when I tell him there’s actually a witch out there who was crazy enough to marry Sirius Black!” Lily paused and then looked back at the shadowy shape. “You are a witch, aren’t you?”
“Yes, just not your kind,” Megan told her, as she stepped closer to the circle of light, While at the same time making sure to stay in the shadows, so she didn’t spook the ghost with the fact that she was her physical twin.
“What kind of joke are you trying to pull?” Lily’s voice took on a superior tone. “There is no other kind of magic than the wizarding kind. If there were, I would have found it, when we were looking for ways to deal with You-Know-Who.”
Megan laughed. “Oh, don’t tell me you are one of those who refuses to use this Voldemort’s name. You’re dead. What harm can he do to you now?”
“I am not afraid to say his name.” Lily was stung by the implication that she was a coward. She had been in Gryffindor after all.
“Then say it,” Megan challenged her.
“Vol… Vol… V-v-v-voldemort.” Lily finally got out.
Megan clapped. “Congratulations. As for your claim that there is only one kind of magic, I think you would be surprised. There are almost as many kinds of magic as there are kinds of people on this world of ours. As proof I offer the fact that you were brought back into the land of the living from the Summerlands using a spell from my Book of Shadows coupled with your son’s desire to see you. If you don’t want to believe that, then how else do you explain your presence here? I don’t think your kind of magic can bring a spirit from the other side.”
Lily opened her mouth as if to disagree, closed it again, then opened it to laugh. “You obviously do for Sirius what I do for James. Get him to be his best. James always insisted there was good man under that pranking exterior but other than his love for Harry, but I never saw it.”
“Who are Sirius and Remus?” Josh had never heard of or met these people before, or at least he didn’t remember it if he had. “And why would you assume that my mum had to be married to this Sirius?”
“Sirius Black is your godfather and you should be living with him. And I know Remus Lupin would have come by as often as he could to see you. He and Sirius both called you their pup.” Lily couldn’t believe that he didn’t know who Sirius was. “Are you trying to tell me you have no idea who I’m talking about?”
“Nope,” Josh shook his head, “I‘ve never met anyone named Sirius Black. Nor have I met anyone named Remus Lupin.”
“How could you not have met Sirius?” Lily threw her hands up in frustration. “He was made your godfather so that if something happened to us there would be someone we trusted raising you and you are telling me that never happened! If that prank loving fool abandoned his responsibility toward you, I’ll kill him!”
“Harry, or rather Josh, is my adopted son.” Megan put in when Lily paused for breath. “I have raised him since I found him abandoned in a carpark in November of 1981. A few months ago we found out that he’d been dumped there by a family named Dursley.”
“Dursley! He was with the Dursleys! What was Harry doing with Petunia and her husband?! He should’ve been with Sirius or the Longbottoms or one of the others we chose as his guardians.” Lily spat, her desire to get a look at the woman outside the ring of candle light taking a backseat momentarily to her anger over the fact that her son had been left with her sister instead of one of the guardians chosen by his parents. “Who in their right mind would have placed my son with Petunia? All our friends knew how my sister felt about magic. They would not have let Petunia anywhere near him because she would’ve made his life hell. What idiot left Harry with Petunia’s family?”
“According to my sources, the idiot was a man named Albus Dumbledore.” Megan told her.
“Albus! Why would he do such a thing?” Lily began pacing around the confines of the circle , thinking out loud. “As a matter of fact why would he even be involved? He is not Harry’s guardian, Sirius is. He may be Headmaster of Hogwarts and head of the Wizengamot, but that doesn’t give him the right to override our wishes. The Headmaster knew my sister hated magic. I told him several times that she hated anything that didn’t fit into her idea of normality. He had to know that placing my son there would be like condemning him to hell. Why would he do that to my child?”
“When I spoke with him earlier today, I got the impression that Josh’s treatment at the hands of your sister was the least of his worries. He told me the reason he had placed him there was because of the protection that would be afforded to Josh because they were blood kin and you had sacrificed your life to save him. He claimed that, by living with her, he would have an unbreachable protection because of your sacrifice.” Megan advised her. “He also claimed that Josh was the instrument of a prophecy and it had been proven when Voldemort vanished after trying to kill him and failing. Apparently he hasn’t been seen since the night you and your husband were killed.”
“Instrument of prophecy! What utter rubbish!” Lilly stated with conviction as she returned to her position in front of her son. “I took divination for several terms at Hogwarts and it was a complete and utter waste of time. No one can predict the future.”
“Cassandra could,” Josh put in. “She warned her brother Paris when he brought Helen to Troy that he needed to get rid of her or Troy would be in ashes and ten years later it was.”
Lily smiled pleased that her son appeared to be well read. He would do well at Hogwarts she was sure of it. “Yes, she could and her prophecies are well documented, but prophecy or not, Sirius Black is the one who should be raising you. There is no way he would have let Albus override our wishes that way. He knew Petunia loathed the magical world. There is no way Sirius would have allowed you to be left with her. I don’t understand why he didn’t stop Albus. Why would he allow the Headmaster to place our child… his godchild… with them?”
“He may not have been asked.” Megan commented.
“Not asked!” Lily didn’t bother to hide her disbelief. “Of course he would have been asked! Sirius Black is Harry’s Godfather after all. He’s the only one with the legal right to make decisions on Harry’s behalf given we are dead.”
“But if this Sirius Black were dead or incapacitated somehow, he couldn’t fulfil those duties now could he?” Megan didn’t bother pointing out that in the eyes of the law, she was now the only one who could decide what was best for josh, unless she was proven an unfit mother.
“Dead!” That was something that hadn’t occurred to Lily. Could Voldemort have attacked Sirius to make it appear as though he had broken and revealed their location, when it was really Peter who’d betrayed them to the Dark Lord? It would be like that evil creature. He seemed to glory in death and destruction “But Sirius can’t be dead. He would have somehow found a way to be with James if he were dead. Making my life Hell.”
“I merely offered that as a possibility.” Megan reminded her. “He could be in a coma, or injured in such a way that he can’t make his wishes known. Either way, if this Sirius Black loved Harry as much as you claim, I can’t see him voluntarily allowing anyone to take Harry away without a big fight.”
Lily nodded accepting the logic of that for now, but still wondered what had happened to Sirius and if Harry would ever get the chance to meet him. “Harry.” When her son didn’t respond but just continued to stare at her, she said his name again. “Harry.”
“You might want to try Josh,” Megan suggested. “It is the name he has known most of his life.”
Josh was amazed at how similar his mum’s personality was to his birth mother’s. Lily seemed to be intelligent and adapted fairly quickly to new situations such as appearing in a heavily shadowed room and meeting your son for the first time since he was a baby, not to mention being told that he wasn’t being raised by who you thought he was.
Remembering what Scilti had said when he was six about him not being mum’s ‘blood child’, he was fairly certain that if Lily Potter were related to his mum, the kinship was distant enough that the blood ties were not that easy for a serpent to detect. The idea that he was related even if distantly to Megan Talbot was pleasing because it meant that even though his mother’s sister hadn’t wanted him he was still with blood kin who did want him. Now the problem was how to convince mum to have a DNA test done to find out if it was true. He was so lost in his thoughts that it took several moments to realise someone was calling his name.
“Josh…” He looked up into the ghostly green eyes of Lily Potter. “You look like you’ve grown into a fine young man. How old are you now?”
“Ten, but I will be eleven on August 1st. Lammas.” Josh told her.
Lily looked pleased. “You should’ve received your Hogwarts letter then.”
“I did,” Josh replied.
“Are you excited about going to Hogwarts?” Lily wanted to know. “I know I was when I got my letter and the teacher came by to show me the magical world.”
“We haven’t decided if I am going ,yet.” Josh told her.
“Not going!” Lily was stunned. Her son didn’t want to go to Hogwarts! “Why wouldn’t you want to go to Hogwarts? It’s the best school for magic in Europe. It’s the school your father and I went to.”
“That maybe so,” Megan put in, “but there are a couple of reasons why it may not be the best place for Josh.”
“What reasons?” Lily wanted to know.
“Partly because the education provided in non-magical areas such as math and the sciences are sadly lacking.” Megan informed her.
“Well, given that he is living in the magical world, he doesn’t really need to know about muggle science.” Lily countered loftily. She didn’t like this woman putting down Hogwarts.
“Josh and I do not live in the magical enclaves, Lily,” Megan told her. “We live in the regular world and non-magical courses like the sciences are and will be important, if he chooses not to live in your isolated enclaves when he is older. Those non-magical classes will be necessary if he wishes to go to University or some other type of school in order to get himself a job.”
“Would you stop my son from living in the wizarding world?” Lily wanted to know. “It is his birthright after all.”
“No, but neither would I prevent him from leaving it either.” Megan pointed out. “You and those like you have isolated yourselves from the rest of humankind in those enclaves of yours, which is not a good thing. It is not healthy to ignore what is happening around you as if can’t touch you or affect your world. A nuclear explosion will take out one of your enclaves just as easily as it would… oh say… London.”
“Besides,” Josh put in, “I’m not sure I want to be away from my friends that long.”
“But honey, you’ll make new friends at Hogwarts.” Lily told him. “The kind you won’t have to hide what you are from.”
“I don’t have to hide from them now.” Josh told her. “They all know I can work magic.”
Lily turned on the woman in the shadows. “You’ve violated the Secrecy statute?”
“I told you I don’t practise your kind of magic. There is no secrecy statute involved with mine.” Megan didn’t bother telling her that it still wasn’t a good idea to work magic in front of those who weren’t aware of it, but there was no punishment since most people thought of Wicca as a religion and not people who could work magic.
Josh lay in bed in his room, unable to sleep because his mind kept going round and round in circles over the events of this evening. The meeting with Lily Potter, his birth mother had produced several surprises before coming to an agreement regarding Hogwarts. He decided to think of Megan as mum and Lily as his mother because it was the only way he was going to be able to keep them straight in his own mind.
He was still amazed even now at Lily Potter’s appearance. He knew for a fact that his mum had intended to let Lily see her, at least she had until she realised just how much they looked alike. The only reason he’d been able to come up with even now for her rapid revision of their plan was that his mum didn’t want to rouse Lily’s suspicions that this was some kind of trick.
As his mind went back over the night’s visitation, Josh realised that his birth mother wasn’t as open-minded as he had hoped she might be. He was fairly certain that the fact Lily Potter was dead had no bearing on that, because if bringing someone back into the world of the living was going to mean that they wouldn’t behave normally his mum wouldn’t have suggested brining her here from the Summerlands. From what little he had seen, she seemed to believe in only what could be proven to her. She was also very stubborn.
He still remembered how offended she had been when his mum had stated that she didn’t trust the headmaster to take proper care of him. His mother had called him a wise and honourable man, until mum had reminded her that it had been this wise and honourable man who had place her son with the Dursleys and completely ignored the Potter’s will with its list of those they considered suitable to raise their son.
He still wasn’t really sure he wanted to go to this Hogwarts, no matter how much his mother said he would love the place once he got there. A compromise had been reached however between the three of them. It had been decided that he would go to Hogwarts for one year, then if he decided he wanted to continue going to Hogwarts, he would have to finish all seven years. If he decided not to continue going there, then he would be tutored over the summer so that he would be caught up with his friends and could rejoin them at the proper grade level at Jermyns Academy the following September.
The story they were going to give Jermyns, so he wouldn’t lose his place there because of the year long absence, as well as their friends, was that that he and his mother were going to America to help Penny and the girl’s out given their mother suddenly died and that Josh would be home-schooled since they didn’t know when they would be back. Megan had admitted that once he was on his way to Hogwarts, that she intended to go over for a bit to lend Penny a hand before returning to England to do some travelling around since it would be suspicious if she returned without him.
Looking at his clock, Josh sighed and realised he needed to get some sleep or he wouldn’t enjoy his first look at a wholly magical world.
Chapter 7: Kind of Behind the Times These Wizards
word and more words = parseltongue, spells, and thoughts
Kind of Behind the Times These Wizards
“Mum, how are we supposed to find this wizard enclave in London?” Josh wanted to know.
“I got fairly good directions from that Professor McGonagall yesterday, so we shouldn’t have any problems finding it.” Megan told him as she joined her son in the kitchen then she made a suggestion. “Unless you have plans for later, I thought we might make a day of it, just the two of us. I mean in a couple of years you probably won’t want to spend time with your old mum.”
“I doubt that’ll ever happen.” Josh was pleased at the thought of having his mum to himself for the whole day. The last time they’d tried to have a ‘just us day’, it had been spoiled by the Dursleys. “Are we going to spend the whole day in this Diagon Alley?”
Looking up from where she was sliding a fat envelope of papers into her purse along with a few other things, his mother suggested. “Why don’t we just wing it today after we finish our business at Gringotts and get your shopping done?”
“Works for me,” Josh set the last of their breakfast on the kitchen table.
When they got off at Platform 7 at King’s Cross Station, Josh remembered that Professor Snape had told them the train for Hogwarts left from here as well. “Hey mum, want to see if we can find the Platform for the Hogwarts train?”
Megan shrugged. “Might as well do it now. It’ll save us some time on September 1st.”
After checking the platform number on Josh’s ticket, they wandered down toward Platforms 9 and 10.
“Magically hidden?” Josh inquired.
“Most likely, given it’s in a public place. Probably a portal to a different location and the entrance is most likely closer to Platform 10 given its number.” Megan reasoned.
Megan started to reach out with her earth senses to see if she could feel the magic that made up the hidden portal, when Josh asked, “Mum, can I try? I mean there should be air flowing through or trapped in the portal, shouldn’t there?”
Megan nodded. It was time he got some practice in an uncontrolled environment. “I’ll double-check your results, alright?”
Josh nodded. He’d only begun developing his abilities as an air elemental about a year ago and loved to practise with them. About all he was able to do right now was sense air currents and make them move around a little. He was getting better at that though, because he could now make a gentle breeze move through several rooms at the same time.
Josh stood there, his eyes slightly unfocused as he reached out trying to find a place where the air currents were present but seemed to be bound and unable to move. If his mum was right and the portal led to a different place, then the weather there might be very different from the weather around King’s Cross which meant the magic users who set up the portal would’ve had to block any hint of it coming through.
After a few moments he walked over and tapped the pillar between Platforms 9 and 10, making sure not to touch the portal.
After studying the portal side of the pillar, which faced Platform 9, Megan congratulated him. “Very good Josh, your speed and detection skills are improving.”
As they headed for the tube station, Josh commented, “Rather neat piece of spell crafting on it.”
“Very stable too,” Megan agreed as they boarded the Blue Victoria line that would take them to the Oxford Circus Station on Tottenham Court Road. “Permanent Portals are hard to make. It was probably put in place when King’s Cross was being built.”
They were halfway into the shopping and theatre district around Tottenham Court and Charing Cross road, when Josh spotted a faded sign hanging out in front of a shabby looking pub. He hadn’t seen a sign like that ever in London before. It had a faded image of a cauldron with some kind of liquid leaking out of it. Pointing at the sign that apparently no one else around them seemed to see, he asked, “Do you think that’s the place?”
“Looks like it,” his mother agreed.
Before they stepped through the door into the pub, Megan quickly cast a glamour spell on both of them, just in case there was anyone in this wizarding enclave who might notice her resemblance to Lily Potter and to prevent them from seeing the scar on Josh’s forehead
The inside of the pub was just as shabby looking as the outside and it was crowded too. A number of the patrons looked up as they entered but when they didn’t recognize the brown-haired woman or her son, they returned their attention to their meals, drinks or whatever business they were conducting.
“How do we get into Diagon Alley from here?” Josh whispered as he stared at all the oddly dressed people.
“Professor McGonagall said to ask the bartender Tom for access.” His mother told him as they moved through the crowd toward the bar.
It was several minutes before the man behind the bar was free, but once he was Megan got his attention. “Excuse me, are you Tom?”
“Yes ma’am, how may I help you today?” He wanted to know.
“I was told you could open the portal into Diagon Alley.”
“Muggle-born?” Tom asked, slightly surprised. Usually a teacher accompanied the muggle-borns on their first visit to Diagon Alley.
“If you’re asking if we are non-magical, then the answer is no, both of us can work magic.” Megan told him. “We’ve just never been to Diagon Alley before.”
Tom shrugged but didn’t puzzle over it long. While they didn’t sound like foreigners part of his job as the keeper of the Leaky Cauldron was to open the passageway into Diagon Alley for those who needed it. He led them into the small walled courtyard that held the entrance to the Alley. Touching a specific brick with his finger, he told the witch, “you tap this brick with your wand to open the entrance.”
“And how do those without wands open the entrance?” The young wizard wanted to know. “Neither of us has a wand and we don’t need one.”
Tom stared at the pair in surprise. How could they work magic without a wand? Even Dumbledore, the greatest wizard since Merlin, who was known for being able to do some wandless magic, needed a wand for most of his spellcasting.
As if he were reading Tom’s thoughts, the brown haired boy added, “You do know that there is more than one way to do magic, don’t you?”
Tom just stared at the child blankly as his mother said, “Let’s see if a knock will open the lock.”
Then Tom saw something that would stay with him for many years to come. The witch rapped her knuckles once on the brick he had indicated and it began wriggling the way it would have if it had been touched by a wand. A few moments later, the entrance to Diagon Alley was open.
“Thank you for your help,” the young wizard waved as the pair stepped through the arch into Diagon Alley.
Tom stared at them open-mouthed and then continued to stare at the entrance long after it had closed. He couldn’t help wondering where this witch and her son had come from.
“Where to first, mum?” Josh’s eyes were roaming over the shops that lined the cobblestone streets. This place looked like one of those villages where they did historical re-enactments that he’d seen in magazines.
“The bank,” she gestured toward the white marble building at the end of the street, which was the only building that didn’t fit into the Elizabethan time period represented by the rest of Diagon Alley.
As they headed down the cobbled street, she told him, “We need to need to get some currency changed into the kind they use here. And the other reason is because I got the impression from Professor McGonagall that everyone in these enclaves does business with Gringotts, so I wanted to see if your parents left any accounts or storage vaults for you.”
When they reached the stairs that led up to the entrance of the white marble building, Josh noticed it was guarded by a pair of short, almost human looking creatures dressed in red livery. However before he could ask his mother what they were, a huge man who looked kind of ill, stumbled into Josh, knocking him to the ground.
As the large man helped Josh back to his feet he apologised in a deep rumbly voice, “I’m sorry about that, should’a been paying attention ta where I was goin’. I didn’t hurt ya did I?”
“No, I’m fine,” Josh reassured both the giant stranger and his mother who was looking on concerned.
“Well have a good day then and again I’m sorry fer running into ya like that.” The man ambled off into the crowd and was quickly out of sight.
Josh was amazed that some one that huge could vanish that quickly. He wouldn’t have thought it was possible for someone who would fit the mythical description of a giant to move that fast. Returning his attention to his immediate surroundings Josh double-checked the ground and the pockets of his cargo pants to make sure he hadn’t lost anything. He hadn’t but apparently the man had, because there was something wrapped in grubby brown paper tied up in string lying near his feet.
“Mum, do you suppose this bank has a lost and found?” Josh asked, picking up the package.
“I doubt it.” His mother told him. “Most banks don’t anymore. To risky for them, if someone decides to leave something explosive behind claiming that someone lost it in the bank.”
“Then how do we get this,” Josh held up the grubby package, “back to that giant man?”
“Someone in the bank may know who he is and have a way to contact him.” Megan guessed. “There can’t be many people that big in the magical enclaves.”
Josh nodded, shoving the package in a side pocket of his pants and followed his mother thorough the gold and silver doors that had just opened to let someone else out.
Seeing more of the odd creatures he’d seen at the doorway working in the bank, Josh quietly asked, “Mum, do you know what they are?”
“Professor McGonagall said that goblins ran the bank, so I would assume they must be goblins. I’ve personally never met one before.” His mother told him as they went over to wait in a line under the sign that said currency conversion.
When they reached the front of the line, Josh watched as his mother handed over 2,000 pounds to the wizened goblin on the other side of the desk. As the goblin counted out wizard currency and put it in a carry bag, Josh heard his mother ask, “Would it be possible to speak to an account manager?”
“Concerning what, madam?” The goblin didn’t even look up at her.
“I would like to see if my adopted son’s parents had an account here. Or if they left any items in trust at your bank for him.” Josh noticed that his mother didn’t seem offended by the goblin’s rather rude manner.
“And his birth name?” was the next question.
“I will give that to the account manager,” Megan told him firmly. “I would prefer that our private business remain just that, private.”
“How can you be so sure that the boy’s parents even had an account with us?” The goblin questioned snidely.
“I don’t know that they did.” His mother shrugged, “that’s what I want to find out. It just seemed safe to assume that, given they both lived in one of these magical enclaves that they did business with your bank. I was told that all witches and wizards who do, do business with Gringotts.”
The goblin stared at his mother curiously. “I assume from that statement, that you and your adopted son do not live in the Wizarding World.”
She shook her head. “No. We live outside these enclaves.”
The goblin just stared at them as if he’d never heard anyone say anything like that before, then seeming to recover enough to realise he was staring. The goblin quickly gestured to another goblin waiting nearby. After a quickly whispered conversation, the younger looking goblin hurried off down a nearby corridor.
“Wait over there,” the seated goblin gestured to a row of seats off to the right. “Griphook will come for you as soon as one of the account managers is available.”
“May I ask one last question?” His mother wanted to know.
“What is it?” The goblin growled rather impatiently because he felt their business was concluded.
“A rather large man, in fact some might call him a giant man lost something in front of your bank and he was gone before we realised it was there. We would like to return it to him but we don’t know who he is or how to contact him. I was wondering if you might happen to know the name of a very large man who was in this bank within the last thirty minutes. He has wild black hair and was wearing a brown moleskin coat.” Megan described the man who had run into Josh.
The goblin was silent for several moments. “The only one who would fit your description would be Rubeus Hagrid, the Keeper of Keys and Grounds for Hogwarts.”
“Thank you,” Josh watched as his mother bowed slightly toward the Goblin before leading him to the chairs where they had been instructed to wait.
The goblin watched her walk away stunned. No witch or wizard had ever shown goblins a gesture of respect before.
It was about an hour before the goblin sent off to locate an available account manager returned. Josh had begun to get a bit impatient after the first fifteen minutes, and had thought the goblins were trying to stall meeting with them. His mother had quietly told him that even non-magical banks did the same thing. That it was a power game for account manager and the trick was not to let it get to you. She told him if you appeared unruffled, even if you wanted to strangle them for making you wait so long, it put you on an even footing because it let them know you knew how to play the game.
“Come with me,” Griphook ordered.
They followed the silent goblin almost to the end of the corridor, before he stopped and opened an office door. Opening the door he announced them to the unseen person inside “Account Manager Flintaxe, the woman and her son are here.”
“Thank you Griphook,” the gravelly voice of the unseen person responded.
Griphook gestured for them to enter before closing the door behind them.
“You asked to speak to an account manager regarding the possibility that your adopted son might have an account here.” The elderly goblin seated behind the simple but elegant desk spoke up first.
“Actually it was his parent’s accounts I was trying to find out about,” Megan told him. “My name is Megan Talbot and this is my adopted son, Joshua. At the time of his adoption by me, I didn’t know my son’s birth name. Recently, I learned that it was Harry Potter and that his parents lived within these magical enclaves of yours.”
The goblin looked Josh over and commented. “He doesn’t resemble either of the Potters.”
Megan could understand his scepticism “That’s because we are both currently under a glamour charm, give me a moment to remove it.”
Manager Flintaxe stared in amazement and suspicion at what the woman claimed was her true appearance and that of her son. The amazement was because the glamour had been removed wandlessly, with only a few soft words he couldn’t hear and no gestures. The suspicion from who the woman looked like now. If the glamour had indeed just been removed and not applied, then this woman standing before him could be a close twin to Lily Potter. He remembered well the times Lily Potter came into Gringotts. She was one of the few in the wizarding world who treated goblins as equals.
As he cast a spell under the desk to detect glamour charms, the woman told him, “Now I’m sure you understand why a glamour charm was necessary. The last thing either my son or I needed was to be mobbed.”
Detecting no glamours, Flintaxe gestured for the pair to sit down. “I will have to verify your son’s identity by other means, madam. Policy you understand.”
“I wouldn’t have expected anything less.” Megan had been sure they would require some other kind of proof than Josh’s appearance. “If you had taken my claims at face value, I would’ve been worried about how good your security was, Manager Flintaxe. Just how do you intend to prove my son’s identity?”
“Blood,” Flintaxe told her simply. “Your adopted son’s magical lineage is linked to his blood, so any families that he is eligible to inherit from will be revealed by this test.”
“How does it work?” Josh asked curious.
“Three drops of blood are placed on this,” Flintaxe pulled a blank piece of parchment out of one of his desk drawers and placed it on his desk. “One at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. The spelled parchment will then check your blood and magical core against those families with unclaimed vaults as well as those waiting to be claimed by their heirs. A list will then appear of all vaults you are eligible to claim.”
“Is the parchment destroyed afterwards?” Megan asked. “I would prefer not to have to worry about someone getting hold of my son’s blood even if it has been altered slightly by its contact with that paper and using it against Josh later.”
Flintaxe stiffened, surprised by the unexpected question. He knew the woman wasn’t questioning his honour or any other goblin’s, but her question was one that hadn’t been heard in quite some time. Most witches and wizards seem to have forgotten that their own blood could be used against them, then again most of them tended to label any magic involving blood as Dark magic. He knew what blood magic could do even with the little bit of blood that would be on that parchment. The only reason this particular spell wasn’t objected to was because it was Goblin magic not human.
“Madam, we take the security of our clients very seriously.” Flintaxe assured her. “Any papers not needed for a customer’s account are always destroyed by fire and then the ashes are scattered in several different locations. However if you wish to make certain of that I will give you the parchment at the conclusion of this meeting so you may destroy it yourself.”
“Thank you,” Flintaxe was surprised again as the woman bowed slightly toward him. Witches and wizards rarely if ever showed a goblin any form of respect.
Josh looked at his mother to see what she wanted him to do. She shrugged. “It’s up to you. If there is a vault here that belongs to you, you might want to claim it.”
After a few moments thought, Josh, asked. “Can I borrow Grandfather’s stick pin?”
Megan pulled a soft cloth pouch out of her purse and handed it to him. Flintaxe heard some soft metallic clinking as the boy opened the pouch and pulled out a stiff metal stick
Josh rubbed the tip of his middle finger to work plenty of blood into it, before jabbing the tip with the sharp end of the pin. Leaning over the desk, he placed three large drops of blood in the locations Flintaxe had indicated.
There was no reaction from the paper for several moments then a bright light that was pencil thin appeared and seemed to scrawl something in three lines on the paper. When the glow vanished, there were three family names written there. In green indicating the family had a landed title in the wizard world was; Potter. The one next one got a rather extreme reaction from Flintaxe. It was listed in gold which told him the family had landed titles in both the wizard and non-magical worlds: Pendragon. It was a name he had never expected to see, given they had had this particular vault in their custody for more than a thousand years. The third: Black, which was in a rather faded grey, went unnoticed by the goblin because he was so surprised to see the second name.
He was so surprised in fact that he behaved in a manner very atypical for a goblin. Fintaxe pushed his chair away from his desk and landed on his feet as it continued on to hit the wall.
“Grirftle!” The shouted word from Flintaxe brought two guards running in with their spears lowered ready for action.
Before they could threaten the humans seated on the other side of his desk, Flintaxe quickly spoke in gobbledygook. He needed to defuse the situation he had inadvertently created before the witch could react to the perceived threat to her and her son, “Everything is alright. Marnak, please go and ask Lord Gringotts if he could meet with me as soon as possible. We have a claimant for the vault Merlin left in our care. Pawten, please wait outside, and make sure we are not disturbed by anyone other than Lord Gringotts.”
Megan didn’t know what she had expected from the results on the paper other than that the Potter’s name would appear, but she hadn’t expected the goblin to react the way he had. So far the ones she and Josh had seen in the bank appeared to be fairly unflappable, as if nothing could surprise them. “Given that I am fairly confident it wasn’t the Potter’s name that caused this reaction, it must be one of the other two?”
Having recovered from his surprise at seeing that unexpected name, Flintaxe told her with a certain amount of reverence. “Your adopted son is the heir to the Pendragon vault.”
Megan gaped at him. “Pendragon? As in King Arthur Pendragon?”
“Yes Madam,” the goblin told her. “The only person who was ruler of both magical and non-magical Britain and besides Merlin one of the few humans respected by goblins and the only non-magical one.”
Both Megan and Josh digested this information in surprise, then Megan asked. “How can my son be heir to Arthur Pendragon? According to the legends I have read and heard concerning King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round table, Arthur had no children who survived him. He definitely had none by Guinevere and Mordred who is listed in the legends surrounding Arthur as the only child of his to survive to adulthood is reputed to have died shortly after his father without an heir at the battle of Camlann.”
“And did any of the legends you read mention King Arthur’s first wife?” Flintaxe wanted to know.
Megan nodded. “A couple of them did. She did in childbirth along with her child.”
“That is not entirely accurate, madam,” a new voice spoke up from behind them.
Megan and Josh turned to face the new speaker. He was another goblin, only dressed in very elegant wine coloured velvet.
“And you are?” Megan wanted to know.
“I am Lord Gringotts,” the goblin told her. “The owner of this bank which I run on the behalf of the Goblin nation. And may I ask who you are?”
“I am Megan Talbot.” She introduced herself somewhat surprised that the owner of the bank would join them. “This is my adopted son Joshua Talbot who was born Harry Potter. And what did you mean by that wasn’t entirely accurate?”
“Without going into all the history of that time, King Arthur’s first wife was a witch and she died during the birth of their only child, a daughter.” Lord Gringotts began. “It was about this time that the patriarchal structure of the Christian church was beginning to gain a very strong foothold on the way things were governed. Arthur feared for his daughter Ciara’s safety because once he was gone, he knew that the Christian religion which was slowly taking over in England would never allow her to be Queen, even though unlike her mother she had no magic. He asked Merlin to hide her and not even tell him where, so he wouldn’t be tempted to visit her. King Arthur also set up under Merlin’s charge an inheritance befitting his daughter’s station or what would’ve been her station and asked him to give it to her or her heirs when the time was right.”
“I take it the time was never quite right, if you still have custody of it,” Megan commented.
“Quite so,” Lord Gringotts agreed. “While the gold in small bits might not have aroused that much suspicion, the items Merlin left for his cousin’s family if they ever came back into their magical inheritance would have. Merlin left the vault in our trust until one of Ciara’s children came into the bank and was able to prove their claim for it.”
“But if they didn’t know the vault existed how could they claim it?” Josh asked finding a flaw in the logic.
“Well young sir, it would’ve come to light if they had asked to be tested as you did to see if they had any vaults.” Lord Gringotts pointed out as he handed over the key to the Pendragon vault to its heir. “The problem is that the muggle-born believe what they are told that they are the first in their families to ever have magic. Not all of them are though. Some are descendants of magical lines that lost their ability to work magic so long ago they’ve forgotten all about it.”
Josh couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “thank you, Lord Gringotts.”
“You are quite welcome, young sir.” Lord Gringotts bowed to both Joshua and his mother. “May your vaults always be filled with gold.”
“And yours as well.” Megan realised that the goblin was using a ritual farewell but didn’t know the proper response. As she bowed slightly, she hoped her answer avoided giving offence.
Once Lord Gringotts had departed, Josh asked, “Mum, are you going to get tested?”
Megan shook her head. “There’s no need right now. Between what I inherited from Dad and what I earn, I have more than enough for my needs and yours. Besides I doubt my family has anything here at Gringotts”
“Well then why are we trying to get hold of my money? I don’t need it right now either.” Josh pointed out.
“The money isn’t the reason we came,” His mother told him, “though you may change your mind on that later. We came to get your past. Everyone should know where they came from.”
“And if that should change? I mean about you needing the money.” Josh wanted to know.
“We’ll discuss it if that ever happens,” She told him firmly, indicating the subject was closed.
Megan picked up the piece of paper and studied the third name. It was familiar, but she couldn’t place where she’d heard it or read it before.
"And what can you tell me about this third name: Black. Why is it on this list?" Megan hoped the goblin's answer would jog her memory, since Black was a fairly common name. "And why is it faded while the other two seem to be very bright?"
"Your son was named as the heir, by the current Lord Black, Sirius Orion Black and will inherit his estates upon his death. This means your son will become the head of a noble family but one considered by most of the Wizarding world to be a Dark family upon the death of its current Lord." Flintaxe told her.
“Dark?” Megan puzzled over the term for a moment, “oh you mean the family has a history of practising black or evil magic.”
“Yes, madam,” Flintaxe agreed. “And it is faded like that indicating that it is an inheritance that he can not yet claim.”
The name of the current Lord of the Black family helped Megan place where she had heard the name before. Lily Potter had said last night that Josh should’ve been with Sirius Black because he was Josh’s godfather. So if Black was alive, why hadn’t he taken custody of Josh? Dumbledore had implied that the Dursley’s were the only choice for who he could leave Josh with and that there had been no other, but clearly there should’ve been.
“Where is the current Lord Black?” Josh wanted to know. He also remembered the name that Lily Potter had mentioned last night. “And why would he name me his heir, if I’ve never met him?”
“Lord Black was named as your godfather by your father, James Alexander Potter.” Flintaxe answered the easiest question first. “He named you as his heir because he had no children of his own at the time his will was written. As for where he is, he is in Azkaban.”
“Azkaban?” Josh inquired puzzled. “Where or what is Azkaban?”
“Azkaban is the name of the prison where magical prisoners are kept.” Flintaxe told him matter-of-factly. “Lord Black was placed there ten years ago after the deaths of your parents before he became Lord Black.”
“And what was his crime?” Megan asked.
“He was accused of betraying your parents to the Dark Lord Voldemort and of killing Peter Pettigrew and thirteen muggles the day after your parent’s deaths.” Flintaxe told him.
Megan had figured out that while the goblins didn’t indulge in chitchat, they were very precise about what they did say. “Accused. From your words, I take it he was not tried or convicted. If that is the case then why is he in prison?”
“It was decided by a majority vote of the Wizengamot which is the main ruling body of law in Wizarding Britain that a trial would be a waste of time and money, since he was obviously guilty.” Flintaxe told her bluntly. “It is fortunate they took that course of action, because by doing so it preserved the Black estate for your son or Lord Black, if his innocence is ever proven.”
The fact that the magical enclaves thought nothing of imprisoning someone for twelve years without giving them the benefit of a trial alarmed both Talbots. It was very reminiscent of the way the former Soviet Union used to be.
“That’s just wrong.” Josh sputtered indignantly. “This is Great Britain, not the former Soviet Union or Germany during World War II.”
“That may be so young sir but that is how things are done in the wizarding world.” Flintaxe told him.
Megan was fairly certain, given Lily Potter’s reaction when she found out Josh wasn’t living with Sirius Black, that the man wasn’t guilty. She was curious though to hear what the goblins thought because she was going to need their help to try and get him free. “Flintaxe, do you believe that this Sirius Black betrayed the Potters and murdered those people?”
‘We, goblins, do not worry about the guilt or innocence of our clients. Our only concern is about the contents and security of those things they place in our charge.”
Megan could tell he was choosing his words with care. They obviously were neutral and wanted to stay that way. “Lord Black does deserve to have a trial at least, wouldn’t you agree. I mean to prove his guilt or innocence definitively.”
“While it would be nice to have one of our largest clients available to do business with us again, I do not think the Ministry or the Wizengamot would allow it to happen.” Flintaxe pointed out. “They wouldn’t want it to become public knowledge that they had left a potentially innocent man in Azkaban with the Dementors without a trial for over twelve years."
“Politicians are the same whether they have magic or not. Always looking out for themselves, instead of those they pledged to work for.” Megan observed. “Is there a way to force them to give this Sirius Black a trial?”
“You could try taking the story to the Daily Prophet which is one of the papers in the wizarding world. They might be able to stir up enough public opinion to force the Wizengamot to give him a trial.” Flintaxe told them. “The other course of action would be to hire a solicitor to try and bring the case before them.”
“Either of those would take years.” Josh complained.
“Quite so,” Flintaxe waited to see what the woman would say. She was proving to have a keen mind.
“What’s the third option? And don’t tell me there isn’t one.”
“Blackmail.” Flintaxe said simply.
“How?” Megan asked. “We don’t know any of the major players in the Wizarding world, nor do we have anything to blackmail them with.”
Flintaxe smiled, looking for a moment like a shark about to come in for the kill. “While the House of Black has acted more openly against those they view as their enemies in the last one hundred years, it wasn’t until the death of the current Lord Black’s mother that they stopped collecting information on the influential and those in power in the wizarding world. I have no doubt that within the Black vault are pieces of information that could destroy many of the most influential families of the Wizarding world if it ever came to light. I believe most of it is probably still very useful.”
Megan stared at the goblin thoughtfully weighing up the options. While blackmail raised the possibility of harming others and opened up the chance of karmic retribution, the ones who had sent Sirius Black to prison without a trial had a far bigger karmic debt to pay for the harm they’d done to a possibly innocent man. She knew he hadn’t betrayed the Potters, but she didn’t know for sure whether or not he’d killed those people as had been claimed. Sirius Black deserved a trial to prove his guilt or innocence and let the politicians go hang.
After several minutes of silence, Megan told the goblin. “I only see one major flaw in any plan to blackmail the cream of wizarding society. According to you, Josh can’t claim the vault yet. If I had material that destructive, I would have it in the most heavily guarded place I could imagine so only I or my chosen deputy could access it. Therefore, I am assuming the only one who would be able to access this material would be the current Lord Black and he is currently in prison.”
"You are correct on both counts, madam," Flintaxe replied.
"So no matter what information the previous Blacks collected and placed in the vault, it does us no good since we don't have access to it," Josh stated with a weary sigh.
"You are correct young man that there is no way in without the current Lord Black’s permission." Flintaxe agreed.
"Well given the current Lord Black is Sirius Black and that he's in jail, he can’t exactly give us permission, now can he?" Josh pointed out.
"That’s not exactly true." Flintaxe countered. “The current Lord Black is Lord in name only because he is the primary heir, but given that he never claimed the family ring upon his father’s death his status as Lord Black has not been officially recognised. Since he has never officially claimed the Lordship of his family, it allows your son to exploit a little used wizarding law that was never removed from the books. It allows an heir to a family to take temporary control of a family if the Head of the Family for whatever reason is unable to fulfil their duties. The law assumes that said heir will be of age, but it doesn’t state that they have to be.”
“Ah, legal loopholes,” Megan sighed, “you’ve got to love them when they work in your favour. So what you’re saying is my son could temporarily assume the Lordship of the Black family until Sirius Black is free, then once Black has claimed the family ring, Josh goes back to just being his heir.”
“Exactly.” Flintaxe was pleased that she was so quick to catch on.
Megan sat there thinking over the possibilities. “Before we decide whether or not to go this route, I have a few more questions. One: How many of the members of the current Wizengamot were part of the group that decided not to give Black a trial? Two: If Black were given a trial would there be a way to definitively prove his guilt or innocence? And three: You are being very helpful given that you said you are only concerned for the concerned about the contents of the vaults in your charge, so what are the goblins getting out of being so helpful to us?”
Flintaxe had hoped that neither of them would see that the goblins had something to gain by helping them, besides goodwill. Information was after all a marketable commodity and the goblins had been trying for years to get a look at the information the Blacks had collected on the various wizarding families.
“They want to get a look at the information, mum. Probably to see if there is anything they could use.” Josh spoke up before Flintaxe could.
“Is that the case?” Megan was fairly sure that Josh was right, but wanted confirmation.
“It is a fair exchange.” Flintaxe pointed out as he gave Josh a look of admiration. Not many could guess what a goblin intended. “You’ve admitted, you do not know the major players in the wizarding world which means you don’t know who to approach to get what you wanted done.”
“And you do?”
“Yes,” Flintaxe told her. “We goblins have been keepers of the wizarding world’s secrets for centuries. If the Black vaults contain even a fraction of the information we suspect, we would know exactly who to approach. There are at least fifty members of the Wizengamot who may or may not have had a hand in sending Lord Black to prison without a trial when all they had to do was take a little time and use Veritaserum to learn the truth. It takes someone with powerful mind magic to overcome Veritaserum and Sirius Black doesn’t have those skills, so his guilt or innocence would have been proven fairly quickly if they had taken the time to use it.” He paused for a moment as if sensing that she was reluctant to take this step. “There is one other factor to consider. The longer we delay, the less chance there is that the current Lord Black may come out of Azkaban whole and sane.”
“What do you mean by that?” Megan wanted to know.
Flintaxe looked slightly sick as he told her. “The main guards at Azkaban are not human. They are foul creatures that the wizards call Dementors and we call Xeniralc. They feed off of a person’s happiest memories, until the prisoner is little more than a silent lump of flesh with little awareness of the world around them. And in some cases they are allowed to use their worst weapon… The Kiss.”
“What is this… Kiss?” Josh had a feeling he really didn’t want to know the answer but he had to ask it.
“By means of the Kiss, a Dementor can suck a person’s soul out of their body, leaving them an empty soulless shell.”
Josh had been right. He felt sick at the idea of some creature that was able to suck a soul out of someone’s body. He looked over at his mother and she had on what he called her deep thought face.
After a few minutes of silence she told Flintaxe, “If we do this, there will be a few conditions that you must agree to. Josh and I are Wiccan, and because of this any information we supply to you will cause us to bear part of the karmic cost that will come from its use. The first condition will be that the only information you will be allowed access to will be concerning the Wizengamot and the government who put Sirius Black in Azkaban without a trial. Their actions or lack of action has earned them a major karmic payback for not doing the right thing. Also any information you gain must remain in the hands of the goblins and not be released to any other race. You may use it or offer to use it on behalf of others for whatever value they place on your assistance but it must not be handed out indiscriminately. Nor can it result in the death of the person the information was about or any member of their immediate family or descendants for at least three generations. Nor is it to be used to destroy someone who had no part in what happened to Sirius.”
Flintaxe sat there stunned as the woman continued to speak. A Wiccan! All goblins knew that was how the followers of the Greenway now identified themselves. There hasn’t been a follower of the Greenway within the walls of Gringotts since the time of the Founders of Hogwarts.
It had been the death of Rowena Ravenclaw the last of the Founders that resulted in the split. Those who could only work magic using a wand felt superior to those who wouldn’t or couldn’t use a wand to work magic because they weren’t reliant on petitioning outside forces for help to work their magic. The wand users also hadn’t wanted limits placed on what they were allowed to do with magic. The wand users at the time had outnumbered the Wiccans and had managed to get several headmasters put in place that agreed with them and removed all the classes that even taught those with the potential of working magic the Greenway. The followers of the Greenway having been a largely peaceful group who only fought back to defend themselves or others had been quickly shunned as inferior and then driven off back into the non-magical world.
Flintaxe smiled to himself, wishing he had some way to see into the halls and classes of Hogwarts this year. It was going to be interesting to see if those at Hogwarts realised that the Boy-Who-Lived was a follower of the Greenway. He could only imagine the reaction of the wand users when they realised Boy-Who-Lived was probably the most powerful wizard since the time of Merlin. He would definitely be more powerful than the strongest wand wielder, Dumbledore, because he could draw on powers outside himself and was not limited to the magic in his magical core.
“Do you agree to these terms, Mr. Flintaxe?” Megan finished up. “Understand if you agree, you are binding all goblins to this decree and if any break it the results will be painful to see.”
Flintaxe could feel the vibrations in the air indicating a spell had been cast and not yet completed. He had to admire the way this witches mind worked. Not many witches or wizards for that matter would take steps to limit possible damage beforehand, they would just try and clean up the mess afterwards or deny responsibility for the use the goblins put the information to. He was certain there were loopholes in the conditions she had given, but it would take time to find them. No one could think of everything, not even goblins.
“Madam, I am but a lowly member of my clan, I can not give you an answer, since the person who does so will be binding the entire goblin race. I must ask your permission to leave for few minutes and discuss this with Lord Gringotts who must discuss it with the council.” Flintaxe told her.
“I understand,” Megan told him. “It is pretty much an all or nothing decision and shouldn’t be rushed.”
Once the goblin was gone from the office, Josh asked, “What are we going to do to help Sirius Black if they reject your offer, mum?”
“We’ll just have to try the long way,” his mother told him. “Lord Black should have had his day in court a long time ago and if they had bothered to take the time then you probably would’ve known him while you were growing up.”
“What I don’t understand is if they had this stuff that makes it so you can’t lie, why didn’t they use it on Black.” Josh wondered.
“Josh, when you get older you will learn that all politicians live and die by political expediency. What I can not understand is why they thought it was a good idea not to use all means at their disposal to determine Black’s guilt or innocence.” Megan muttered.
A thought suddenly occurred to Josh, “Mum, what if once he is free, Lord Black tries to take me away from you? I mean my birth mother, Lily Potter, thought he was supposed to be taking care of me.”
“If you don’t want to go with him, he won’t be taking you.” His mother reassured him.
“Do you think they will agree to your terms?” Josh changed the subject reassured by her certainty. His mother could be as immovable as the famed Rock of Gibraltar when she set her mind to it. He sometimes found it very frustrating when it was preventing him from doing something he wanted. At other times he found it very comforting knowing there was one constant in his life,… his mother. As long as she was alive she would be there for him.
Megan shrugged. “Probably. It’s like that old saying: Half a loaf is better than none. From what I’ve seen of the goblins so far, they seem to be a very practical people. I think they will accept the deal, knowing full well that if they learn any more information on their own, it won’t be covered by our arrangement and so they will be able to use it however they want.”
“How long do you think it will take the goblins to get Black his trial?” Josh asked as they left the bank with their glamours reapplied and headed back into Diagon Alley with some galleons from the Potter family vault and a gold ring that had a flat red stone set in it from the Pendragon vault. The red stone had a dragon carved into it like some of the ones he’d seen on old seal rings in the Victoria and Albert museum on a school field trip. It was the only thing in the vault that Josh had felt immediately drawn to. The Pendragon vault itself was filled with a number of items and his mother had said they would return some other time to give the vault a thorough check.
His mother shrugged her shoulders. “Aside from the fact that they will have to move carefully, they are dealing with politicians. Unless there is a major disaster that has just occurred, no politician will move quickly on anything, especially when it means they will wind up with egg on their face. I think the earliest that something might happen and that’s only if they can push hard enough might be sometime September. Flintaxe promised to keep both of us updated.”
“Where should we go first?” Josh asked as he surveyed the shops lining Diagon Alley.
“How about starting with your school robes?” Megan suggested, gesturing toward a sign on a nearby shop that read “Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions.”
As soon as they entered the shop a woman, who was kneeling down and pinning up a set of black robes currently being worn by a blond haired boy, looked up and said “Hogwarts dear?”
The woman gestured to the second stool beside the blond boy. Another woman quickly slipped a robe over Josh’s head and then began the process of pinning it to the correct length.
“You’re going to Hogwarts this year too?” the blond boy asked.
“Yes,” Josh watched the people walking by the window outside, not really paying attention to the other boy.
“Do you know what house you are going to be in?” the other boy asked.
Remembering what his mother had told him about how Hogwarts was divided into four houses last night and what the criteria was for each house, Josh admitted, “I have no idea.”
The blond boy shrugged, “They say nobody really knows, but it’s a fairly safe bet that I’ll be in Slytherin. All my family has been. Which house has your family been in? I’m Draco Malfoy by the way.”
“I’m Joshua Talbot. This is the first year anyone in my family has gone to Hogwarts.” Joshua told him. It was true after all. No Talbot as far as he and his mother knew had gone to Hogwarts or any other magical school for that matter.
“Did they go to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons before?” Draco asked.
“Never heard of either of those schools.” Josh admitted.
“Your parents are our kind aren’t they?” Draco’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at the thought he might have been treating a mudblood like a regular wizard.
Megan watched silently from the sidelines, curious to see what the other boy might accidentally reveal to Josh. It was a well-know fact that children often said what they perceived to be the truth or what they heard their parents say that sometimes their parents would like to keep hidden. She also wanted to see how Josh would handle himself since he was going to be among children like this one for at least a year.
“My parents are human if that’s what you mean.” Josh deliberately misunderstood the question. He had a feeling he knew what the boy was asking and felt slightly offended by the implication that to this boy if you weren’t descended from a witch or wizard you were less than nothing.
Draco stared at the other boy, stunned by his answer to what should’ve been a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. He opened his mouth to say something scathing, but nothing came out. He tried again and still couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally he said, “I wanted to know if they were a witch and wizard. All witches and wizards are human. We’re just a better class of human.”
Draco waited for him to say more but he didn’t. After several minutes more of silence he impatiently asked. “If they are a witch and wizard then why didn’t they go to one of the magic schools available to get their education?”
Josh shrugged as the woman pinning up his robe indicated he could take it off. As he walked over to join his mother, he told Draco, “They were home-schooled.”
Draco watched stunned as the boy with the sun bleached brown hair walked out the door. He wasn’t finished talking. How dare Talbot walk out as if he were nobody? Draco made a mental note to ask his father to find out everything he could about the Talbot family. He was going to make that boy pay for the insult he’d given Draco.
As Josh and his mother moved from store to store, getting what he needed for school, they didn’t speak to anyone else other than the store clerks. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to, but everyone in Diagon Alley seemed to be intent on their own business.
The bookstore Flourish and Blotts had been interesting for both of them. In addition to the required books for a first year student, they’d picked up a few history books, a few older books on potions and a book on the wizard’s view on elemental magic.
The next store of interest to them both was the apothecary. Megan had purchased quite a few ingredients that she had at home, curious to see if the ones raised in the magical enclaves would improve the strength of her tinctures and potions or if there would be no difference. Josh had also make a few extra purchases, wanting to experiment with a few of the potions he had seen in the first year book, prior to going to school.
They were almost back to the beginning of Diagon Alley, and decided to stop and recheck the list to make sure they hadn’t missed anything.
“Looks like the only things we still need to get are your Familiar and your wand.” Megan comments as she checked off items on the list and made a note beside the parchment and quills to pick up ball point pens and spiral notebooks for Josh to take with him so he would be able to take better notes.
“Lets get my familiar first,” Josh requested. He was curious to see what kind of animal would choose him.
“We’ll try the Magical Menagerie first.” Megan gestured to the shop across the cobbled street. “They should have a wide selection of creatures to be chosen by.”
They entered the shop and they waited for their eyes to adjust to the dim lighting, they heard rustlings, squeaks, hisses and the sounds of animals moving around.
Josh instinctively moved in the direction of the snakes he could hear talking faintly near the back of the store. Suddenly something came toward him out of the shadows and he raised his arm instinctively to ward it off, only to feel something land on his upraised arm.
The amber eyes of a snowy owl gazed at him and Josh felt as if something within him had finally clicked into place. Something he hadn’t known he was missing until now.
“Are you my Familiar?” Josh asked as he stroked the soft feathers on the owl’s chest.
The owl hooted and looked around predatorily as if daring one of the other animals to contest the claim.
Pushy owl, Josh heard one of the nearby snakes hiss.
Recognizing it as a Scarlet Kingsnake like the ones in the zoo, Josh asked, Were you going to try to become my Familiar?
The Kingsnake reared up in surprise and the other snakes went silent when Josh spoke. A Speaker!!!!!
Yes, I have been able to speak with snakes since I was six, Josh told him. I have been told by mother that it is a rare gift and a highly prized one.
Seeing its only chance, the snake said, Speaker, while I would not want to usurp the rightful bond of your familiar, would you consider taking a second familiar? I could be very useful to you, even if as only someone to talk to.
You? Josh asked. While I would have no problem with having a second familiar, if that is even possible, I am going to Hogwarts for at least a year and a snake is not on the list of allowed animals.
I pledge to you Speaker, I will not be seen by anyone. The kingsnake told him. One of my abilities is to be able to pass unnoticed, unless I wish to be seen. The clerk who works in this shop thinks I am a magical coral snake and their venom is highly prized because it is useful for certain potions, especially magical ones. He has contacted a potions master and intends to sell me to him. I do not know if he will realize I am not a coral snake before purchasing me. If he doesn’t, I have no doubt that I will be rendered down for potions ingredients when I can produce no venom.
Josh had no doubt about the snake’s assessment of its situation. Scarlet Kingsnakes did look like the coral snakes, only the banding colours were in a different order; red, black and yellow instead of red, yellow, and black the way they were on the coral. According to the snake handler at the zoo, a kingsnake had no venom and killed by crushing their prey like a python did. Also Snakes rarely lied unless they were under another’s control. They felt it was beneath their dignity and snakes were extremely proud creatures. Extending his unoccupied arm so the snake could slither up it, Josh told him, Let’s go talk with my mother and see what she says.
The snowy owl hooted wildly as the snake moved up Josh’s arm.
“Easy girl, he’s not going to hurt you.” Josh soothed her. He didn’t know how he knew she was female but he did. Probably the result of the bond, he guessed. “He may be coming with us though.”
The owl managed to look slightly put out by this idea while the snake hissed in a manner that Josh had come to recognise as laughter. Snakes had a very warped sense of humour.
One thing I would caution you about young master, the snake hissed as they started moving back toward the main area of the store. Speakers are not looked on with reverence in the wizarding world. They are considered evil before they have a chance to prove otherwise. You will need to conceal you gift while you are among wizard kind.
Josh found his mother where he expected, in the section where the cats were kept. She was carrying on a conversation with a couple of kittens. The store clerk was standing nearby as if expecting a sale.
“Have you found your familiar?” His mother asked from where she was seated on the floor. A quick meow to the kittens in her lap and they all left though reluctantly and returned to their mother.
“Actually, she found me.” Josh gestured to the snowy owl perched now on his shoulder. “Actually, mum, what I wanted to ask you was could I get a second one?”
“A second familiar?” The clerk blurted out surprised. “No one has two familiars.”
Ignoring the clerk, Megan got to her feet. “What is the other one?”
“Him.” Josh raised his right arm that was currently carrying the kingsnake.
“That’s a dangerous coral snake,” the shop clerk back away slightly. “How did you get it out of its terrarium without being bitten and poisoned?”
“Actually, it’s a Scarlet Kingsnake,” Josh told him fairly certain that this was the clerk the snake had been talking about and then remembering the snake’s warning, he told the clerk. “I have been helping out the snake handler at the local zoo. He lets me handle the non-venomous reptiles, so I know how to handle snakes like this one.”
The snake hissed in pleasure as this proof of his chosen master’s ability to think fast on his feet. He had chosen well and had no doubt this would be a very good relationship on both sides.
Megan raised an eyebrow in surprise at Josh’s evasion. While Josh hadn’t told a lie about handling the snakes at the zoo, she did wonder why he was hiding it from another magic user. All the members of their coven knew about his ability though no one else outside the zoo did and zookeepers only knew, because he had helped control a dangerous snake when it had gotten out of its transport cage and into the main area of the zoo.
“You do know a snake is not on the list of permitted animals at Hogwarts.” She reminded him.
“Mum, no one at Hogwarts will ever see him.” Josh promised
Megan caught the emphasis on the word ‘see’, but the clerk didn’t. “All right, you may get him, but we will be talking about his care later.”
The store clerk stared back and forth between the young wizard and his mother. He hoped the boy wouldn’t be foolish enough to try and smuggle a snake into Hogwarts. It wouldn’t go over well in any house other than Slytherin.
As they opened the door that led into the shop of Ollivander’s: Makers of fine wands since 382 BC, they heard a bell ring somewhere in the shop. It wasn’t over the door, which is where most shopkeepers usually put them.
The shop was quiet and dusty, like a library filled with very old books, but both Megan and Josh could feel the magic flowing through the shop and trapped within the boxes lining the shelves from floor to ceiling.
“Good afternoon,” a soft voice spoke from off to their right.
Turning they saw an old man with pale eyes that glowed like the full moon staring at them.
“My name is Ollivander.” The ancient looking man introduced himself and studied them curiously. “While I can not see through the glamour spell you have cast which is most unusual, I can not recall ever having encountered an aura like yours before, madam, so I doubt you have ever purchased a wand from me. Are you here for a wand for you or for your son? He appears to be the right age to be going to Hogwarts or one of the other magical schools in Europe.”
“I am Megan Talbot and no I have no need of a wand. My son Joshua is the one in need of a wand to use at Hogwarts.” Megan told the man.
"Of course, however in order to find the best wand for him, I will need to see your son as he really is. The glamour he is wearing may interfere with his ability to find the right one, since it is a type I have never encountered before.” Ollivander advised her.
Megan studied the man intently for several minutes. There was something odd about him, but she couldn’t put her finger on what. The only thing she could figure out was that it wasn’t inherently harmful to anyone. “Will we be disturbed while you are trying to find his wand?”
Ollivander had felt something brush against his magic, but the wards on the shop hadn’t reacted to protect him so he knew it wasn’t harmful. He couldn’t help wondering if it had come from the woman. Was she one of those rare individuals like Dumbledore who was capable of wandless magic? “I couldn’t say for sure madam. This is the time when the new students for Hogwarts and the other wizarding schools come in to get their wands, so it is possible.”
He guessed that for some reason she didn’t want their identity known, thought he couldn’t fathom why that should be. There were only two possibilities that immediately occurred to him. One: her son was from one of the families that had been killed by the Deatheaters while he had been placed in hiding and was therefore also assumed to be dead, which would mean they would want the world to continue in that assumption until the boy was old enough to protect himself. Or two; he was the long awaited Harry Potter and she was trying to avoid the mob scene which would surely occur, if people knew he was in Diagon Alley. Since in the long run it would make little difference where the boy tested the wands, Ollivander suggested, “If you would like we can do this in the apprentice workroom, no one will disturb us there, since I do not currently have one. Though if I do get another customer, I will have to leave you in there, while I take care of them. I also swear on oath that what is to be revealed in there, will be spoken of to no other.”
“Thank you,” Megan suspected the man had come up with the reason why she was reluctant to drop the glamour in public and was grateful he hadn’t asked for public confirmation. Not to mention that he had voluntarily promised to keep their secret.
“This way,” Ollivander led the way to a small room that had a workbench, a couple of stools, and cabinets though they and the workbench were empty even of tools.
The walls were covered with runes, some singly and some joined together.
“Protection for the shop and your apprentice in case of accidents.” Megan guessed studying several of the symbols that she recognised as protection runes.
Ollivander stared at her in surprise. “You are familiar with the Art of Wandcrafting?”
“No,” Megan told him, “I can honestly say, I have never used a wand like one of yours before. I just know what protection runes look like and these are some of the strongest I have seen.”
“Forgive my curiosity, but what kind of magic do you do if you have never used a wand?” Ollivander asked.
“Wiccan.” She said simply.
“Wiccan?” Ollivander had never heard the term before.
“Wiccan,” she repeated and then looking at her son, she chanted, “Let the person concealed now be revealed.”
Ollivander gaped in amazement at the person revealed by the removal of the glamour spell. It wasn’t due to the fact that he was clearly Harry Potter, scar and all. No, it was due to how the glamour had been removed, words only, no movement of the hand and the spells effects were gone instead of melting away like wax the way a normal glamour charm worked. This witch was clearly powerful with a type of magic the wizarding world hadn’t seen.
“Shall we get down to the business of getting my son a wand,” Megan prompted when the silence went on a little too long for her tastes.
“Yes, of course,” Ollivander felt slightly flustered. The woman must have thought him a star-struck fool for staring at young Potter for so long. “I do apologise, it was just I was trying to figure out what kind of magic you used.”
“I don’t think you’ll have much luck,” Josh spoke up finally. “Mum told me that even the headmaster didn’t recognise it. I think the Goblins may have figured it out though mum.”
“Possibly,” his mother agreed. “Flintaxe did look rather stunned when I told him.”
Ollivander realised that if the goblins recognised it, then it was an old form of magic and there were only a few of those that humans could successfully work. He would have to research them later, now he had to find the perfect wand for Harry Potter the Saviour of the Wizarding World.
“I am pleased to see you, Mr. Potter,” he began.
“Talbot,” Josh corrected the wandmaker. “My name is Joshua Talbot.”
“Very well, Mr. Talbot,” Ollivander nodded. It was clear that the child had been raised with a different name and preferred it to his birth name. “Which is your writing hand?”
“My right, though I can use my left hand just not as well.” Josh told him.
“Hold out your right arm, please.”
As Ollivander took the measurements necessary to find the right wand for Joshua Talbot, he explained about the woods and cores that went into making up an Ollivander wand to Josh and his mother.
Once he had all the measurements he needed he left the workroom and returned a few minutes later with what looked like about two dozen boxes.
Ollivander handed then to Josh one at a time after telling him the size and composition of each, but there was no reaction from any of them.
After the last one was tested and pulled out of his hands within a few seconds of touching it, Josh asked, “What is supposed to happen?”
Ollivander looked thoughtful, trying to find the right words. “When the right wand makes contact with your hand both you and I will know. It will be like fitting the right key into the lock. Some have described it as a rush of warmth, others as rush of beautiful sound. Sometimes people react to a close match, but it doesn’t work quite as well and I can tell when it isn’t quite right.”
Ollivander stared at him for several minutes, trying to read his aura, but it was nearly as hard to read as Mrs. Talbot’s. “Are you also a practioner of Wiccan magic?”
“Yes,” Josh told him proudly.
“Then I think we need to try some of the more unusual combinations,” Ollivander decided. “We need to find one that is compatible with both forms of magic.”
Ollivander stepped out and returned this time with four boxes.
“Give this one a try,” Ollivander handed him another wand. “It’s Holly and Phoenix feather, eleven inches, a nice and supple wand.”
This time there was a reaction. Josh’s hand felt warm where it came into contact with the wand and red and silver sparks shot from the tip of the wand.
“I think we are getting closer sir,” Josh told him, handing the wand back. “I think that one would do if we can’t find another, but it didn’t quite feel like it wanted to belong to me if it had a choice.”
Pulling the box from the bottom of the stack out, Ollivander removed the most unusual wand they had seen yet. There were two separate pieces of wood bound together in a spiral and joined to them in a spiral going in the opposite direction, were a pair of crystals; one a green so dark it almost looked black and the other a muddy brown coloured stone with splashes red, yellow and light brown running through it.
Handing it over almost reverently, he said, “This is the last wand made by my trice great grandfather. It is the only wand of its kind and so far it has chosen no wizard. It is twelve inches and the woods are oak and mountain ash. It has two cores; a tail feather from one the ravens of the Morrigan and three hairs from an Egyptian Fennic or desert fox. What makes this wand so unique though is the fact that it has a pair of focusing crystals that make up the top six inches; one is Moldavite and the other is muggle stone. Give it a try young man.”
As soon as josh’s hand closed on the wand, he knew it was the right one. He felt a warmth fill him from head to foot and multi-coloured sparks shot out of the joined crystals.
“Oh perfect,” Ollivander clapped his hands like a child on Guy Fawkes night cheering at the fireworks. “I’ve never seen a better match. That is a very powerful wand, Mr. Talbot. I am sure that I will be hearing great things about you and it in the years to come.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ollivander.” Josh paid for the wand and let his mother reapply the glamour they would need to get out of Diagon Alley without being mobbed.
As the pair left his shop, Ollivander remembered what his father had told him about that wand.
His thrice great grandfather had been compelled to make that wand in response to a vision he had had. The only one he would ever have. He had passed it and the tale down to his children with the warning. ‘When this wand is sold, those of the Greenway will have returned to the wizarding world and they and the wand would be needed to hold back that darkness that was threatening to engulf the world.’
(AN; For those who may be wondering if I made up muggle stone, no I did not. It is a real stone. Here is some of the information I found about it online. Muggle Stone is found in South Africa and is otherwise known as Tiger Iron. It is a combination of hematite, red jasper, and sometimes yellow jasper or golden tiger eye. This Rare Stone from only one location in South Africa has many different colours and Hues to its coloration, Stark Metallic Hematite with Bright Reds, Yellows, Creams and White; its flow of colour varies from stone to stone in banded patterns to pictures and flowing blotches of mixed colour. It is a grounding stone that also brings protection, especially protection from danger. It is also a stone of clarity, particularly clarity of knowledge, enabling one to see the truth below the apparent surface of issues. Tiger Iron also helps with creative endeavours and all types of artistic abilities. It is used to bring strength, vitality, confidence, willpower, and balance. It is an excellent stone for people wishing to bring more motivation to their lives. In folklore and crystal healing lore, Tiger Iron is said to balance white and red blood cells, increase natural steroids, and improve muscular structure, and help with healing legs, sexual organs, liver, and the nervous system. Tiger Iron is related to the sacral and root chakras.)
Chapter 8: A Brave New World
words and more words = spells
/words and more words/ = conversations with Hogwarts
A Brave New World
As far as Josh was concerned Sept 1st came all too quickly. It wasn’t that he minded leaving home to go to boarding school, that’s what Jermyn’s Academy was after all. It was just that none of his friends would be there and from what his mum had said and he had seen so far of the magical enclaves, they used a totally different kind of magic than he was used to. He couldn’t help wondering if the other members of the coven would be able to work this kind of magic or would he be the only one.
Thoughts of the coven reminded Josh of the going away gift they had given him last Sunday. From what his mum had told him they originally intended to give it to him as a birthday gift intended to bless him during his time at Jermyn’s, like the one they had given to Davey but that idea had quickly had to be revised when the members of the coven learned he was going into a school at least for a year where they practiced an unknown type of magic. Instead they had waited until the full moon which had been Sunday and had given him a celtic knotwork medallion that each member of the coven had placed a blessing and protection spell on to keep him safe while he was in the wizard enclaves.
“Josh, you ready to go?” his mother called up the stairs. “We need to leave soon, if we are going to catch the train to London.”
“Almost mum,” he called back, putting on the medallion and tucking under the collar of his t-shirt so that it rested against his skin.
After making a final check of his room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, since it wouldn’t be easy to have anything sent to him if he forgot it, Josh grabbed his carryall and headed downstairs. The trunk for Hogwarts was already in the trunk of the car along with his mother’s suitcases. She was going to be leaving later in the day for America to visit their cousins, to see if she could lend them a hand for a while.
“Have you got everything, dear?” his mother asked. He could already see that she was wearing her glamour charm so she didn’t freak out any witch or wizard who might have known Lily Potter.
“I think so,” Josh told her. “I sent Pol on to Hogwarts since I didn’t want her to be confined in that cage for such a long time.”
Megan smiled again at the owl’s name. Josh had named her for the sorceress in his favourite series of magical fiction books The Belgariad and The Mallorean. Polgara who was one of the main characters of the books was described as a regal lady who loved to spend time in the form of a snowy owl. Josh had thought the name appropriate for such a regal and elegant bird as his winged familiar.
“And where is Silk? I know you wouldn’t leave him behind, given I’m not going to be here for a few months.” Megan wanted to know. That coral snake had certainly earned the name of the spy and guide in the Eddings books. You could be in the same room with him and you wouldn’t even know it.
“Right here,” Josh held up his right wrist and the snake appeared a moment later.
Megan looked at the snake sternly. “You just make sure you don’t get caught.”
The snake looked at her and hissed, then Josh laughed.
Megan looked at the snake sourly then asked, “Do I want to know?”
Josh smiled but shook his head.
“Do you have your amulet?” Megan returned to her mental checklist.
“Yes mum,” Josh sighed, wondering if she would’ve been like this if he were still going to Jermyn’s and decided she probably would’ve been.
“And don’t forget to use those spells every day while you are there, especially the glamour charm,” his mother reminded him. “We don’t want them figuring out you are Harry Potter and that scar of yours is apparently the most distinguishing thing about you as far as they are concerned.”
“I won’t forget mum, ‘cause I have no desire to be the object of worship.” Josh promised as they headed to the car. “I plan on using it every night after I go to bed and that way there won’t be any risk of it wearing off, since it takes about twenty-four hours to completely fade away.”
Once they were on the train for London, his mother told him, “I heard from Gringotts this morning.”
“Any news on the trial for my godfather?” Josh asked, certain she wouldn’t be bringing the goblins up if it were just about the money he had in their bank.
“Flint said that negotiations so far have been very fruitful and that if all goes as expected then they should be able to get him a trial in the next two to three months.” His mother informed him. “I have made arrangements to be updated through their branches in America, so that if there are any changes, I will be notified and they will also be contacting you once it has been set up.”
“And what’s going to happen to Mr. Black if he really is innocent.” Josh wanted to know.
“Well for one thing he will reclaim that title you now have of Lord Black.” Megan told him. “Beyond that I have no idea. A lot will depend on his condition if he is found innocent. If the goblins are right, then that Azkaban place is hell on earth and he may not be in the best of shape after he gets out of there.”
“Are you going to take him in?” Josh asked. His mother had a habit of collecting strays, mostly cats, but any stray human or animal was welcome to a meal and night’s rest. The wards kept out those who meant them harm.
“If he has no one else to look after him I might.” She refused to commit herself. “It really too soon to be trying to figure something like that out.”
The rest of the train ride in was spent discussing inconsequential matters, given that neither of them really wanted to think about the fact that they were soon to be separated for the next four months at least.
Megan felt a sudden peculiar pain as she watched her son look out the window at the world passing by them. She had known this day would come, had even been preparing for it when he got accepted at Jermyn’s, but now that it was here, she wanted to go back and stop it form happening, keep him forever young and with her. On the other hand she was quite glad she would have some time to herself. It would help her get used to the fact that he wouldn’t always be around. It was going to give her time to get used to the fact that her little boy was growing up.
King’s Cross Station was busy when they arrived with the tail end of rush hour traffic still hurrying through the station. No one really paying attention to anyone else as they went about their daily routines of trying to get to work without being late or trying to catch their train out to wherever it was they needed to be.
“There’s about an hour before my train leaves, mum.” Josh pointed out. “Should we go through the portal now, or later?”
“Might as well do it now, since no one will be paying attention.” Megan decided. “I’m kind of curious about what a magical train looks like.”
Grabbing a nearby cart, they loaded josh’s trunk on to it and headed for the pillar between platforms 9 and 10. Leaning against it carefully as if watching the arriving train, they felt the portal open and slipped through it.
The platform here was quieter, though there were people milling about. Some of the adults were dressed in an odd mix of clothing but either didn’t care or didn’t know that you shouldn’t wear things like a wide collared tie-dyed shirt that went out of fashion in the 70’s with plaid golf pants.
“Somebody needs to explain today’s fashions to these people.” Josh muttered as he stared at the garish mix of colours and fashions that were never meant to go together, trying to avoid going blind as he looked at some of them. “Do they not care that they are standing out like a sore thumb?”
“Probably not. From the books I saw at the school, they are at least twenty to thirty years behind the times on what is happening outside their little enclaves.” his mother commented as the old fashioned looking red engine next to them gave a belch of steam and then started puffing away as the engineer continued to stoke the boiler. “Well at least your ride in to Hogwarts should be interesting. I rode on a steam train once and it was a lot of fun.”
“It’ll give me a chance to get some reading done before we get there.” Josh commented pushing his cart to the other end of the platform looking for the luggage van.
“Mum, there’s no luggage van for the trunks,” he finally commented.
“Odd, maybe they go in the compartment with you.” Megan entered one of the cars to check out a compartment. It wasn’t any larger than a usual train compartment and the overhead luggage rack didn’t look large enough to hold the heavy trunk let along safe enough.
Coming back out, she told her son, “Give me a minute Josh to see where it goes.”
Walking up to the wizard wearing the tie-dye shirt, she waited for a break in his conversation with a wizard wearing robes, before saying, “excuse me sir, may I ask you a question?”
“What is it?” the other wizard wanted to know, “Can’t you see we are busy here?”
“I was just wondering where my son should put his trunk on the train, since there is no luggage van?” Megan decided to try and ignore the rude wizard.
“They go in the overhead rack, that should be obvious,” the robed wizard spoke up before his companion could say anything.
“No it is not.” Megan countered trying to keep a hold on her temper. “The rack appears too narrow for the trunk and the trunk is very heavy. How is an eleven year old supposed to get that heavy trunk up there? The trunk has no instructions for making it lighter or smaller to fit that rack and I saw no instructions in the compartment for how to get the rack to lower down so that a trunk could be placed on it without killing the child.”
“Stupid muggle” the robed wizard almost yelled. “That is what a wand is for. Parents place feather light charms on the trunk so it can be lifted into place on the rack. Only muggle borns ever have this problem and how a muggle like you ever made it on to the platform, I don’t know. You see Jasper, this is what I’ve been talking about. Muggles have no concept of magic or how it works. They are just ignorant savages as I have said before.”
“Actually sir, we are not.” Megan didn’t bother telling him he was wrong in his assumption that she couldn’t use magic. “But I’m not surprised to find you think that, given you probably know nothing at all about those who live outside your magical enclaves. We left the seventeenth century behind quite some time ago, while you appear to revel in remaining stuck in the past. While most of the world may not be able to work magic, we can travel anywhere in hours and not months, we have instantaneous communications and can pass information around the world in a matter of minutes.”
“I truly doubt that madam!” The wizard said in a snotty tone of voice. "Muggles are nothing but primitive beasts who kill anyone who is different from them. All one has to do is look at the witch trails. Any one who thinks otherwise is delusional. Magic users are far superior to people like you and the sooner you learn that the better off we will all be."
Megan didn’t say what she was thinking, instead she turned her eyes skyward and said in a low voice, “Oh gods hear my plea and help this wizard and others like him for one full moon turn to understand those who are magic free.”
A moment later there was a rumble of thunder and a single bolt of lightening blazed across the sky, causing every one to look up in surprise. When it wasn’t repeated, they returned to their conversations as the platform continued to fill up with people carts and animals.
Megan smiled, then said “thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy what you are soon to learn.”
The robed wizard just shook his head over the muggle’s strange behaviour as she walked back to join her son, then proceeded to forget about her.
Josh recognized the smile on his mother’s face. Between it and the thunder and lightening, he knew it didn’t bode well for one of the two men she had just left. “What did you do mum?”
“I didn’t do anything,” his mother protested her innocence.
“Mum,” Josh drew her name out.
“I simply asked the gods, if they would open the eyes of a bigot and help them understand those they despise.” She told him. “I don’t know what form the gods will make it happen in yet.”
As she and Josh started to wrestle the trunk onto the train a pair of identical red heads appeared next to them.
“Ma’am, we couldn’t help overhearing part of the conversation you had with Mr. Parkinson,…’ began one of the twins.
“…would you like some help with your son’s trunk?” The other finished with a question.
“We would appreciate that,” Megan smiled. “I’m Megan Talbot and this is my son Josh.”
“We’re Fred and George Weasley…” began one of the twins.
“…otherwise known as Gred and Forge.” The other twin finished.
Between the four of them it was quick work to get the trunk stored in the rack in one of the compartments.
After she had thanked them for their help, one of the twins said seriously. “Mrs. Talbot, it may not be my place to say anything, but I would be careful around Mr. Parkinson in the future.”
“He’s not real fond of muggles,” put in the other
“I already figured out he’s one of those pure blood bigots that Professor McGonagall told me about, but thanks for the warning.”
“Fred…George….Where have those two gotten to now?” They heard a woman’s voice call from outside the train. She sounded rather annoyed.
“That’s our mum. We’d better go.” Fred announced.
“Nice to have met you Josh.” George said as they hurried out of the compartment.
The whistle on the train blew its first call.
“I’d better get going.” Megan gave Josh a long hard hug. “You be careful at school, especially if Dumbledore figures out who you really are. He’s got his own agenda for you and I don’t think either you or I would like it.”
“I will be.” Josh returned her hug just a fiercely. “You give cousin Penny and the girls my love.”
Josh watched her leave and stuck his head out the window to follow her progress until she passed through the portal, back to the mundane portion of King’s Cross station.
As he sat back down, a slightly pudgey boy with a solemn face appeared in the doorway of the compartment. “Do you mind if I join you? The other end is getting kind of noisy.”
“Sure, come on in.” Josh waved to the seats opposite him. “Unless this compartment gets flooded with people, you should get all the peace and quiet you want. Name’s Joshua Talbot by the way.”
“Neville Longbottom,” the other boy introduced himself.
“Are you starting Hogwarts this year too?” Josh asked.
“Yea,” Neville looked pleased. “My family was worried I might not have enough magic to get in until I got my letter.”
“You are from a magical family.” Josh concluded.
“Yes,” Neville confirmed. “And you?”
“My family is magical, but we never went to anywhere like Hogwarts before and we don’t live in the magical enclaves.” Josh told him curious to see his reaction.
“You live around Muggles?” Neville’s eyes were wide in surprise. He’d never heard of a witch or wizard voluntarily choosing to live among muggles. Curiosity overcoming his usual shyness, Neville asked, “Why? Did your family go into hiding because of You-Know-Who or Grindelwald?”
“My family has always lived outside the magical enclaves.” Josh told him. “And who are You-Know-Who and Grindelwald?”
Neville was even more astonished, but answered the question. “Grindelwald was a Dark Lord during what the muggles called World War II. Dumbledore defeated him and that marked the turning point in the muggle war cause the German muggle leader didn’t have him to rely on anymore. And You-Know-Who was the Dark Lord who was defeated by Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Lived when he was just a baby.”
Josh finally figured out just who Neville was talking about when he kept referring to You-Know-Who. It was the mention of Harry Potter that did it. He thought his mum had been joking, when she said they were afraid to say Voldemort’s name. Why would anybody be afraid of a name, unless it was the name of a demon or deity? “No my family wasn’t hiding from either Grindelwald or Voldemort.”
Neville gasped, his eyes opening wider if that were possible. “You said his name. Nobody says his name.”
Josh shrugged. “Why not? There’s no harm in saying the name, unless he’s a god or a demon.” He gave Neville a long considering look. “He isn’t a demon is he? I mean I doubt he’s a god, or a human child wouldn’t have been able to defeat him, but is he a demon?”
Neville shook his head. “I don’t think so, though I once overheard my Great Uncle Algie say to my Grandmother that he’d done a lot of dark rituals and spells, trying to gain more power.”
“Well, if one of those rituals involved making a bargain with a demon, then he’s definitely paying for it now. So no one will have to worry about being afraid to say his name.” Josh said with certainty. “My cousin once told me that Demons are worse than lawyers about sticking to the exact wording of any agreement. So if he was defeated by a human child and hasn’t been seen since, chances are pretty good he’s not coming back cause he messed up somewhere.”
Josh’s certainty made Neville nervous and a little curious. “Your family deals with Demons.”
“My cousin has been fighting them all her life.” Josh told him.
“Is she an Auror?” Neville wanted to know. If so it would give him something in common with this boy, given his parents had been Aurors.
“What’s an Auror?” Josh hadn’t heard that term in Diagon Alley.
Neville tried to think of what it would be similar to in the muggle world. “It’s like a muggle puleezeman.”
“Policeman,” Josh corrected his pronunciation with a small smile.
“Yea, policeman,” Neville’s face reddened slightly, certain the other boy was laughing at him.
“No,” Josh shook his head. “She isn’t an Auror or policeman. She helps protect the world from the things that go bump in the night like other Wiccans in San Francisco.”
“Wiccan?” Neville had never heard the term before.
Josh scratched his head trying to think of a way to explain something he had known and been a part of all his life. “For some it’s a way of living in balance with the world around you, for others it’s a return to the old ways and a return to worshipping the Old Gods. The ultimate tenets of the Wiccan beliefs are: An it harm none do as ye will. And whatever good or ill you do shall be returned to you threefold.”
The two of them spent a companionable time discussing the differences between the magical and mundane worlds and tings Wiccan in relation to magic, until they were interrupted by the door sliding open and a female voice asking, “Anything off the trolley dears?”
Though his mum had given him some snacks to take with him, Josh joined Neville in looking over the contents of the trolley, curious to see what wizard snacks looked like. There were licorice sticks shaped like wands, jelly beans called every flavour beans, small cakes shaped like cauldrons, orange coloured pasties that the trolley lady told him were made with pumpkin and last but not least something called chocolate frogs. Josh bought a few things off the trolley including a pumpkin pastie, some every flavour beans and chocolate frogs.
Josh had just taken his first bite of the pumpkin pastie and was enjoying the sweet yet spicy taste when the compartment door slid open for the second time.
Standing in the doorway was a slender boy with dark hair and an olive complexion. He looked as if he had been raised somewhere on the Mediterranean.
The stranger looked at Neville with a slight smile on his face. “Hello Longbottom.”
“Zabini,” Josh noticed that Neville’s voice was flat as he greeted the other boy, almost as if he were like those relatives some kids had to endure, but would also cheerfully do without ever seeing again. “What are you up to?”
“I was looking for somewhere else to sit for a while. Malfoy was starting to get on my nerves. It was either leave or hit him with a spell and that would’ve had his father and my mother all over me.” Zabini turned his attention to Josh. “That’s if you and …”
Realising the other boy was asking for his name, Josh said, “Talbot.” He saw no reason to give more than his surname, since this Zabini hadn’t bothered to give his first name.
Both Neville and Josh shrugged then Josh commented, “You might want to close the door behind you before Neville’s toad manages to make a successful escape.”
“Trevor!” Neville scooped up his toad before it could hop out the gap in the doorway.
Sitting down next to Neville, Zabini looked out the window at the passing scenery before remarking, “I don’t recall hearing of a wizarding family called Talbot before.”
Josh stared at the other boy for a moment. He had a feeling this Zabini was trying to find out the same thing that blond boy had in the robe shop wanted to know, only he was going about it in a much subtler manner. He couldn’t understand why they were so interested in whether or not a person had the right kind of parents, in this case magical. To him what should matter is how a person lived, whether they were magical or not.
“I’m not surprised that you haven’t.” Josh told him. “My family has never lived in any of the magical enclaves.”
“So you are a muggle-born then?” Zabini’s voice held a note of polite disinterest now.
“Actually…no,” Josh disagreed. “My family have been working with magic for over four hundred years. We just chose not to isolate ourselves from those you call muggles.”
Zabini couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’ve been practising magic around Muggles? What about the Secrecy Statute?”
“I don’t know what secrecy statute you are talking about.” Josh told him. “My family has been working magic outside the magical enclaves for over four hundred years and no one said anything to us about a secrecy statute.”
“Blaise is right about the Secrecy Statute, Josh.” Neville put in. “That law has been in existence for a long time. Witches and wizards are not allowed to knowingly practise magic in front of muggles or in a muggle area, unless you are an auror, an unspeakable, or part of the accidental magic reversal squad. Your parents should know all this if they went to any magical school.”
“Well they didn’t,” Josh told him. “I think I’m the first member of my family to go to a magical school. All the others were home schooled. Besides I don’t think your Statute applies to Wiccan magic, given it doesn’t require a wand to use it and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past at least five or six years.”
“There’s no way a First year could work wandless magic.” Blaise disagreed. “Only really powerful witches and wizards like Dumbledore and do things wandlessly and ever they can’t do a lot.”
Holding up his hand Josh chanted softly, “ Proof of magic I need to show, please make my hand glow?”
Within moments of finishing his chant Josh’s hand was surrounded by a bright white light obscuring it.
The other two boys stared at the glowing hand, speechless. Neville sat there dumbstruck as Zabini reached out to take hold of Talbot’s hand, wanting to examine it. He was certain there was a trick to it, but he couldn’t figure ourt what kind. He knew that muggle elketroniks wouldn’t work on the Hogwarts Express, just like they wouldn’t work anywhere else in the magical world, so it couldn’t be that. And there was no potion or artefact that would make a person’s hand glow. He saw nothing attached to the boy’s wrist and felt nothing strange on his hand. The glow he was seeing was real. Somehow this first year had made his hand glow with an almost patronus style light and that was something even Dumbledore couldn’t do.
The three boys stepped off the train together in their school robes and heard a loud voice call, “Firs’ years over here!”
Josh looked up and saw it was the man who had run into him at Gringotts. He and his mother had sent Pol to the man to let him know they’d found his package so he could come and get it back, but he’d just sent a letter back asking Josh to bring it with him to school and give it to him when he saw him. Pulling the package wrapped in grubby brown paper out of his pocket, he told Neville and Blaise, “I’ll catch up with you in a bit.”
Walking up to the large man, Josh tapped him on the arm and said, “Mr. Hagrid?”
“It’s jus’ Hagrid,” the large man told him.
“I’m Josh Talbot.” He introduced himself, given he didn’t look much like he has when this man had run into him at the bank. “My mum sent you a letter about the package you lost and you asked me to bring to you when I came to Hogwarts.”
“Hagrid looked at the first years milling around and then pulled the boy off to one side. “You didn’t open it, did ya?”
“Of course not,” Josh sounded slightly indignant. “Mum and I left it exactly as we found it.”
He held out the small package and Hagrid quickly scooped it out of his hand.
“Thanks, fer bringin’ it.” Hagrid smiled. “Dumble…I was worried about this.”
“Well if you were that worried about it, you could’ve come and gotten it.” Josh pointed out. “Mum gave you our address.”
“Eh,… that’s true, lad, but work ‘ere, kept me busy…” Josh could tell he was stumbling around for a valid explanation. There was clearly something going on here and it involved that package.
To distract the other boy and seeing the other first years were all gathered and waiting for him, Hagrid ordered, “Firs years follow me.”
He led them down a steep path that was just barely lit with deep pools of darkness to the sides ti discourage one from leaving the path. Neville who was walking behind Josh, seemed to be huffing and puffing a little as he tried to keep up. Josh keep checking on him every now and then to make sure he didn’t slip and fall.
“You’ll get yer firs look at Hogwarts in a jus a bit.” Hagrid assured the group.
A moment later they rounded a bend and came out in front of a great black lake. There was a hill on the opposite side and perched on it was a huge castle lit by hundreds of twinkling lights.
Pointing out the boats bobbing in the water near the edge of the lake, Hagrid told them, “No more than four to a boat.”
Josh wound up in a boat with Neville, a boy who appeared to be red-headed in the light of the lantern at the front of the boat, and a bushy haired girl who was talking very fast and trying to sound very knowledgeable about the wizarding world, just because of some books she had read about it and Hogwarts.
One comment she made about wanting find Harry Potter and see if the stories she’d read about him were true, made Josh more determined than ever to renew his glamour charm every night. He had a feeling this girl would be relentless in her quest for information. Josh also made a mental note to check out the library and see if they had any books about Harry Potter. He was curious about the magical world’s version of the events the night his parents had died.
As Josh set foot within the walls of Hogwarts, he remembered the other spell his mother had given him and told him to use. Josh chanted silently to himself Powers above and below, protect me, mind body and soul, so that I return home safe and whole.
/Another who works the old magiks./ A female voice commented in Josh’s head. /And a young one at that. Are you the child of Megan Talbot? The one also known as Harry Potter?/
/I am Josh Talbot and that is the name I prefer to go by. Are you Hogwarts?/ Josh asked, remembering that his mother had told him the castle was sentient and able to detect Wiccan magic among other things.
/That is the name the Founders gave to me./ She told him. /I am glad your mother decided to let you come. I was worried that she might not given that the Headmaster is determined to find you or rather Harry Potter. A word of warning, if you and your mother haven’t already taken care of that little problem. He will be checking every boy to be sorted looking for the scar on your forehead./
/That’s for the warning,/ Josh was glad to have an ally here. /Mum gave me a glamour charm to use. What is the sorting?/
/Listen to Professor McGonagall. She’s explaining it now./ Hogwarts told him.
After listening to what the professor said, Josh told Hogwarts, that wasn’t very informative other than to tell me it will determine what House I will belong to. It doesn’t tell me how the sorting is done./
/Well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that./ Hogwarts told him. /It is forbidden, but I can tell you unlike that red-headed Weasley boy thinks, you will not have to wrestle a Troll, nor as the girl beside you thinks will you have to do any spells./
A moment later, Josh was startled by the appearance of several silvery white forms that floated through the air. The forms, he assumed they were ghosts, though they didn’t look at all like Lily Potter had, were arguing about someone named Peeves.
When one of the first years gasped because one of the ghosts had brushed up against him, they noticed the presence of all the students waiting to be sorted. Some of the ghosts talked to them while a couple just hung there silently.
As one dressed in Friar’s robes said, “hope to see you in my House.” Professor McGonagall returned and ordered them to form up in a line.
She led them into a large hall that had candles hanging in mid air and above that was the night sky. The sight of it drew gasps from a number of the students as the bushy haired girl announced, “it’s enchanted to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts a History.”
Josh couldn’t help thinking that the girl needed to tone it down a bit, or she would wind up alienating everyone around her with that ‘I know everything’ attitude of hers.
Looking down the length of the middle row between the long tables, Josh saw Professor McGonagall set a three legged stool with a frayed and patched pointed witches hat on it down in front of the head table. As soon as she stepped back the hat began to move as if alive and rip opened in it and he heard words come out.
As he listened to the hat describe the qualities of each house, Josh realized this had to be the thing that sorted the students. He couldn’t help wondering how it decided who belonged where.
He soon had his answer. Professor McGonagall called each student up one at a time and they put on the hat. Some were placed right away. Others it seemed to take a bit of time over, as if it were having trouble deciding. With each first year placed though there was clapping from the House they were sorted into. Neville was apparently so pleased with the hat’s choice for him, he headed off to Gryffindor table with the sorting hat still on his head and had to go back up and give it back to Professor McGonagall.
All too soon it was his turn as Professor McGonagall called, “Talbot, Joshua.”
The hat was put on his head and immediately fell over his eyes blocking his vision. He felt a tickling touch inside his head and had to fight the instinct to squirm.
/I have never encountered a mental shield like this one before, would you please lower it./ A grouchy male voice requested. /I need to be able to sort you and it is preventing me from doing so./
/Do you intend to harm or change me in any way?/ Josh asked.
/No!/ The voice from what Josh assumed was the sorting hat sounded insulted that he would think that. /My job is to place you where you will best reach your potential./
/And you won’t reveal any of my secrets to anyone?/ Josh questioned.
/No, I am bound by magiks far older than are taught at this school these days, to remain silent./ The hat told him. /If I could have I might’ve prevented several potential Dark lords from coming to be but I will never know for sure... They might’ve come to power anyway./
/If you speak the truth, the spell that protects me will allow you entrance. It is there to insure I do not return home irrevocably changed./ Josh told him.
He felt something slide into his mind with a slight tickling sensation.
Sounded pleased with itself, the sorting hat said, /Now let’s see what we have…./ There was a pause. /Harry Potter! This is a surprise and you know who you are as well. It is a good thing the Headmaster can not force me to speak. He is most anxious to find you./
/I prefer to go by the name Joshua Talbot./ Josh countered. /It is the name I have gone by all my life./
/Very well Mr. Talbot./ The hat said placatingly. / I remember well the day of you mother’s visit to this school, though he does not and how she said that Harry Potter would not be attending Hogwarts. You wouldn’t care to tell me how she managed to make every teacher who met her that day forget the experience would you? I mean she had no wand and I heard no spell cast if she is capable of doing wandless magic/
/It is old family magic./ Josh told him not going into details.
/You know or I should say are learning the old magicks/ The hat sounded shocked. /I never thought I would see those who practised the old magicks within these halls again./
/Do you approve or disapprove?/ Josh wanted to know.
/It is not my place to approve or disapprove./ The sorting hat countered. /I do hope thought that you will not keep that knowledge to yourself./
/You do know it is not something every one can do,/ Josh told the hat, /but if there are those capable of using Wiccan magic, then I will show them how to find it within themselves. And I will also warn them of what can happen if they use it incorrectly, since the results of any ill-intentioned spells will come back against the castor at least threefold./
Josh felt the hat poking around a bit more before it finally said, /You have courage and loyalty in equal measure and either quality would make you a candidate for Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, but your thirst for knowledge along with the fact that you are the first in a very long time who knows the old magiks, says something else about you so there is really only one place for you…/
(Now would I be that cruel and not show you which house Josh was sorted into?….. hmmmmm, no I don’t think so. You’d kill me. Look further down :))
“Ravenclaw!” the Sorting Hat called out.
(AN: The next story to be updated will be 2 Shall Be.)
Chapter 9: The CatÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s Out of the Bag in More Ways Than One
AN: I know it has been a while since this was last updated, but when RL hits it hits with a vengenance. Between losing my job last year and having to scramble to find one, all the other bunnies that decided to attack and then getting a new job with some very LLLLLLLOOOOOOONNNNGGGGGGGGG hours. It’s a 4 hour commute round trip plus the inbetween time with work and whatever else may crop up like missing the first train home, and I unfortunately haven’t had much time to work on any of my stories all that much.)
words, more words = Parseltongue, thoughts, and spells
The Cat’s Out of the Bag in More Ways Than One
Something tickling his ear startled Josh awake. Looking around, he saw Silk pulling back to the pillow he’d been sleeping on.
"Why did you wake me?" Josh kept his voice low, since he didn’t know if any of his dorm mates were awake yet. Nor did he know what time it was since the dark blue curtains around his bed blocked out all light.
"If you will allow it, I would like to hunt." Silk hissed just as softly to his bonded. "I know there are mice in the wallsss. Lassst night, I picked up the ssstrongest ssscent yet when you ssssat by the fire. But in order to make sssure that your nessstmatesss do not accidentally injure me, I need you to return me to that ssspot.”
"Let me get dresssed and I will take you down." Josh promised as he pulled back the curtains and got out of bed.
Silk waited patiently for his master to return dressed in the garments he was required to wear here.
As Josh placed his pyjamas at the foot of the bed, Silk slithered on to his left wrist and once he was settled, Josh pulled his book bag, containing the books he would need for his morning classes over his other shoulder. Once Josh was in the common room, he sat down in a chair near the fireplace between a pair of the bookcases.
From the light coming in through the arched windows of the common room, Josh could see that the sun was just beginning to come up over the mountains. While the common room was empty right now, he knew the older students would soon be coming down to get some studying done before breakfast.
Dangling his left wrist, over the side of the chair in the direction of the fireplace where the mortar and some of the stone had worn away, leaving behind a crack in the wall, Josh hissed, "I have classsesss until this afternoon and then I want to walk around the groundsss, ssso I won't be back here until almost sssunssset, so if you want to go exploring after your hunt, Sssilk, go ahead. Jussst be careful."
"I will be," Silk hissed reassuringly. "Learn well young massster for all knowledge iss ussseful."
"Even if it isss sssomtimesss very ssshocking," Josh countered dryly as he stared up at the domed ceiling painted to look like a starry sky and thinking back over his first week in this very strange school.
His mum had been right about the power of the node sitting beneath the castle. As an air elemental, even though he’d only been learning how to use that power for a few months, he could feel the energy from the node humming in the air around him. He had no doubt that for his mom the effect had been a lot more powerful since she was able to tap the energy running through the ground and not just the excess that was in the air around her. On his very first night at Hogwarts, Josh found that in order to get to sleep, he had to spend almost an hour meditating to be able to block the feel of the energy out, because it was like drinking one of those stimulant drinks that were starting to hit the stores in England, claiming to give the drinker a burst of energy and help them stay awake. Something he definitely didn’t need when he was trying to sleep. During the day the energy came in very handy, keeping him awake and alert in his some of his classes, like History of Magic. A more boring teacher he had yet to find, though there probably was one out there as boring.
On their very first full day here, the fifth, sixth, and seventh year Ravenclaw Prefects had broken the first years up into groups of two or three and had taken them on a tour of Hogwarts before breakfast to make sure they knew where all their classes would be and they had also made sure the first years were able to locate the few landmarks that didn’t move about, so that they would be able to navigate their way around the school. The prefects had made it very clear that Ravenclaws were never late to class without a very good reason such as a teacher keeping them after class, in which case they were told to make sure they had a note from that teacher for the professor who taught their next class. The only really excused reason that didn’t require a note was getting stuck on the stairs and having them move you to a hall or stairway that would mean you had to take a long detour to get back to your class, since the stairs were one of the few things that were beyond anyone’s control. They were told even the Headmaster didn’t have complete control over the stairs of Hogwarts unless the students were in danger or the castle were under attack, but that the castle hadn’t been attacked in at least several hundred years.
Josh was being given the tour by Prefect Selena Alberts along with another first year Padma Patil, when they’d met one of the least liked people at Hogwarts next to Peeves and that was the Caretaker Filch. One of Professor Flitwick’s orders to the Prefect’s had been to make sure the first years knew where the out of bounds third floor corridor was, so they didn’t wander into it by mistake. And that was where they had encountered Filch. He had refused to believe that Prefect Alberts was under her Head of House’s orders to show the first years the corridor’s location. It had taken her asking a Slytherin Prefect, who was giving a similar tour to some of the Slytherin first years, to fetch Professor Flitwick so he could confirm his orders, before the caretaker was willing to let them go.
The three Ravenclaws had joined the Slytherin’s and headed for the Great Hall in the hope of getting some breakfast before their first classes, since Filch had caused them to run late. On their way, they ran into Professor Quirrell, literally. The first years both Ravenclaw and Slytherin had gone down in a heap with the stuttering Professor. While it was slightly embarrassing with an older man trying not to touch anything he shouldn’t as they tried to extricate themselves from the pile, Josh doubted that any of the other first years had felt a sharp stabbing pain in their heads, when Quirrell’s thin, almost bony hand brushed against them. Josh was also fairly certain that Quirrell had felt something too, because the man had pulled away hissing slightly as if he’d been stung. Josh just hoped that the man didn’t know which first year had caused that reaction, because even though why his carefully hidden scar had reacted to the man, but he was going to take it as a warning to be careful around him, until he had a chance to speak to his mother and see if she had any ideas about why it had reacted that way.
It was after breakfast during his first transfiguration class that Josh had received his first big shock. The teacher, Professor McGonagall had thought nothing of turning something inanimate, a desk in this case, into a living breathing animal and then just as casually turning the living animal back into a desk, essentially killing it. It was a very telling lesson showing just how casually those in the magical enclaves viewed the effect their magic had on the world around them and the fact that they might not care about the results of their spellcasting.
Professor McGonagall hadn’t been pleased when he had asked her if the animal had been harmed when she turned it back into a desk. She had told him rather curtly that even if she hadn’t reversed the transfiguration, the animal would’ve reverted back to a desk in a few ours since she hadn’t made the transfiguration permanent and that nothing had been harmed by what she had done.
Josh had then asked something that had gotten him his first detention and strange looks from the teacher and his Ravenclaw and Slytherin classmates. He had asked Professor McGonagall what kind of safeguards the wizarding world put on a spell like the one she had just shown them. He told her that there was at least one nefarious use he could think of right off the bat for transfiguration; that of turning a human into something like a book or a table and making the change permanent. It would take care of the need to hide the body because unless there was a way to detect that an object had been transfigured and from what to what the victim could be in plain view of friends and loved ones the whole time with no one the wiser.
Josh smiled to himself as he remembered the results of that last comment. Apparently Professor McGonagall had thought he was a budding warlock or Dark Lord as they were called here, so he'd had a meeting with Professor Flitwick his Head of House and the Headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore after dinner that same day.
After being introduced to Dumbledore's familiar, a phoenix named Fawkes, Josh had spent the better part of an hour explaining why he had wanted to know what safeguards there were on changing something from living to dead or in this case inanimate and about his Wiccan beliefs and the karmic debts that could accrue if a person misused the power given to them by the gods without caring about the harm they did.
Professor Flitwick had had a lot of questions about the Wiccan belief structure, and Josh had given him a general outline of it, without going into much detail. Dumbledore had spent most of the meeting in his office silent and staring at Josh as if he were trying to see into his head, which made Josh glad he'd used that shielding spell to protect his thoughts. He hated the idea of someone rummaging around in his mind like it was an old trunk.
Dumbledore's demeanour had changed though the moment Fawkes decided that Josh's lap made a far more comfy nest than the perch he was sitting on. Once that had happened, Dumbledore seemed to take a liking to him and had said he would speak to Professor McGonagall about the detention since it was clear that Josh hadn't intended to be disrespectful and that he was only trying to insure the safety of those around him which was a laudable goal. Dumbledore had then surprised him by telling Josh in no uncertain terms that each witch or wizard was solely and wholly responsible for their own actions and that not even the Wizengamot tried to legislate a person’s behaviour within the wizarding world and that the only time they were called to account was if their actions caused harm to many, or threatened to reveal the magical world to the Muggles.
Josh had then made the mistake of asking, what happened to those in the non-magical world who were exposed to the magical one and didn’t have a magical relative. Dumbledore had told him he didn’t need to worry about that since he was sure that Josh would never perform magic in front of unaware muggles.
When the Headmaster dodged that question, Josh was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to like the answer. It had taken a couple of days and some help from Madame Pince to whom he had lied saying he wanted to make sure his mother was going to be safe from the Aurors since she was a muggle before Josh had found out just what the magical world did to those in the non-magical world who were accidentally exposed to the magical world and weren’t related to a muggle-born witch or wizard.
Prior to finding about the magical world’s habit of doing memory wiping or altering spells, Josh’s opinion of Hogwarts and the magical world had largely been neutral, but after that, his opinion had begun swinging toward the negative. While Josh was willing to admit that he was probably being a little hypocritical with regard to the wiping of memories, given the truth spell his mother had used to insure his safety, he had a problem with the wholesale removal or alteration of someone’s memories. It was not something to be done lightly or without a good reason and a willingness to incur whatever karmic debt might be required from taking such actions, and yet those in the magical enclaves seemed to think nothing of it or the harm they might be doing to someone whether it was physical or mental.
Josh’s thoughts were abruptly brought back to the present when a seventh year Ravenclaw who was thoroughly engrossed in the book he was reading, tried to sit down on him.
“Hey!” Josh called startling the young man and causing him to drop his book.
“Oh… sorry…” The Ravenclaw seventh year whose name Josh couldn’t remember quickly scrambled to pickup his fallen book and continued to apologise at the same time. “I didn’t see you there and didn’t really expect anyone to be up this early besides me.”
“That’s okay,” Josh just shook his head at the seventh year wandered toward one of the nearby tables, his nose once again buried in his book.
Until just now he hadn’t quite believed Blaise’s claim that some Ravenclaws took absentmindedness to a whole new level, but the seventh year who tried to use him as a seat cushion was proving the Slytherin’s point perfectly. The seventh year was far worse than his mother had ever been even was when she was working on a coding problem. Josh personally doubted the young man was even aware of his current surroundings and had the feeling that even if an explosion were to go off in the common room the seventh year wouldn’t notice it, unless it ripped up the pages of his book. Josh also couldn’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for this guy’s yearmates. They had to be the ones at least partly responsible for making sure he’d survived this long by making sure he didn’t fall down the stairs, ate, and got to class on time.
Josh was speaking with a couple of his yearmates about the classes for the day and what they had heard about the teachers from their older siblings, when the voice of a sixth year prefect Andrew Markum suddenly silenced the room. “First years can I have your attention please?”
They all turned their attention to the slender sixth year.
Seeing he had their undivided attention, Markum went on. “As you know for the past couple of days we have been prepping you for your first potions class. The reason for that is very simple. The only House that Professor Snape cuts any slack to is his own. It is also a very well known fact that in the very first class Snape tends to ask questions that only upper years or those with prior potions experience would know the answer to.”
“Or one of the Slytherins,” one of the second years piped up earning a slight laugh.
“Fortunately for the Ravenclaws we have noticed that the questions he uses in his first class as well as his choice of your first potion tend to run in cycles, so that gives us a slight advantage over the Puffs and the Gryffs. Before you head to the Great Hall for breakfast, I want each first year to make sure they pick up one of the sheets on the table over there.” Markum gestured to the pile of parchment waiting to the left of the entry way to the common room. “They contain the ten most likely questions we think he will ask as well as five possible first potions he might have you make including the most important steps you need to be aware of for each, so that you don’t wind up melting your cauldron or blowing it up.”
Jana Yarborough a female first year asked, “Isn’t that kind of like cheating?”
“Not really,” someone Josh thought was a third year answered. “Think of it as levelling the playing field. Snape favours his own house and will be asking questions he knows you don’t have the answer to in order to make you feel nervous and stupid. We are simply countering with the weapons we have in our arsenal; our brains and our ability to spot patterns. You will learn very quickly that you will need every advantage you can get to compete with Slytherin cunning. Just be grateful you don’t have to deal with the Slytherin first years. This year the Puffs have that dubious honour, though the Slytherins won’t do much to them since they don’t consider them much of a threat or a challenge the way they do us or the Gryffs.”
“All right everyone,” the Head Boy Jason Barnett called out, “let’s get to the Great Hall for breakfast and first years do not arrive late to Potions. Believe me when I say, you do not want to be singled out for Professor Snape’s special attention.”
In the Great Hall, Josh saw Neville was sitting near the end of the Gryffindor tables, looking somewhat uncomfortable as a bushy haired girl kept chattering at him and the red headed boy sitting across from her.
Since Neville had the look of someone wanting to be rescued, Josh decided to oblige. “Hey Nev, can I join you?”
Neville nodded eagerly and gestured to the seat across from him.
“You ready for Potions, Nev?” Josh asked as he filled the plate that had appeared in front of him.
“Not really.” Neville admitted, looking nervous at the thought of Potions with Snape.
“I’m sure you’ll do fine.” Josh tried to sound encouraging. He could see that Neville needed some kind of boost to his confidence so he added. “After all you seemed to know what you were doing when we worked together in Herbology and Potions is just an extension of that. You’re just putting together what you’ve grown so that it can help someone.”
“Excuse me,” the bushy haired girl spoke up before Neville could respond, “But you have to sit with your House during meals. It’s in the rules.”
Josh gave her a measuring stare. “What possible difference does it make to you or anyone else where I sit or eat my breakfast? And more importantly, who are you to be telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing? You aren’t my mother, nor are you a teacher, the head boy or girl, or even a prefect. In fact to me you look like a first year… just like me.”
“My name is Hermione Granger.” She countered testily. “I know I am not a teacher, prefect or the head boy or girl, but I do happen to know the rules. I memorised them so that I would be sure not to break them and they state quite clearly that all students shall eat their meals with their House.”
“And where did you find these rules?” Josh didn’t provide his own name, “Because, I don’t remember receiving a rulebook for Hogwarts, before or after my arrival here.”
“The rules are clearly listed in Hogwarts: A History.” Hermione granger informed him stiffly. “And if you’d bothered before you got here to learn about the school you were going to be going to, and I would think that you would have wanted to, given you are in Ravenclaw, then you would know the rules.”
“Hogwarts: A History was not on the booklist,” Josh pointed out reasonably. “And it is just possible that it was removed, because some if not all the information contained within it was outdated and archaic… like maybe the rules that you went to all the trouble to memorise. After all would it be right to prevent siblings who are sorted into different houses, like say… the Patil twins who are in Gryffindor and Ravenclaw from being able to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner together if they wanted to? That it would seem to me would be dividing a family and not allowing the siblings to maintain a connection if they want one.”
“I never said the Patil twins should stay apart.” Granger protested, annoyed that he would say the information she had was wrong. “There are other places they can meet like… like the library….”
“Where Madame Pince prefers that silence reigns and so the girls would be unable to talk.” Josh countered easily. “And while we Ravenclaws do have a few classes with the Gryffindors, I don’t think the teachers would appreciate the twins discussing things that didn’t have anything to do with class. Maybe you should check with your Head of House and see if those rules are still enforced, before you tell someone else they are breaking them, because they may no longer apply given that no one else seems to know about them besides you.”
Granger just stared at him in disbelief. The information contained in books was never wrong. “My copy of Hogwarts: A History does not contain inaccurate information. The clerk at Flourish and Blotts told me it was the most recent edition.”
“I didn’t say the information was inaccurate, I said it might be outdated and no longer apply.” Josh reminded her. “After all if those rules did indeed still apply, then the book would either be on the book list or we would’ve been sent a copy of those rules so we would all be aware of them.”
Granger flushed at the rebuke and realized there was nothing she could say to dispute this intruder’s viewpoint right now, but once she found it she would look forward to taking him down a peg or two the arrogant… Unable to come up with a suitable comparison, Granger returned her attention to her breakfast and her book.
Josh and Neville began a lively discussion of magical plants vs non-magical ones, making sure to include some of the ones on the paper he’d been given before leaving the common room in their discussion, even as they started walking down toward the potions classroom in the dungeon.
Since there were an odd number of first year students for both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, Josh was able to partner with Neville without any complaints being made by either house.
While they were waiting for Professor Snape to arrive, Josh had to stifle a laugh several times at the pseudo mad scientist motif the man seemed to have chosen for his potions lab. His mother must not have seen this room or she would’ve told him about it so he would be prepared. The only things he could see that were missing that would have graced any B grade mad scientist’s lab were the monster on the slab with the electricity crackling around it and the insane assistant cackling madly in the corner.
Josh also noticed that Neville was looking nervously at some of the bell jars that had things floating in them that looked like organs or bits of animals. He was about to say something to divert Neville’s attention, when the door to the classroom slammed open, causing everyone to jump and look around. As Professor Snape strode into the room, Josh once again found himself stifling his laughter and wondering if the man had ever seen the Batman movie, cause he looked a lot like the caped crusader with his determined stride and robes billowing out behind him. The only thing missing was the mask. He had enjoyed the Batman movie when his cousins had taken him to it during their last visit to America in ‘89.
As Professor Snape passed by their worktable and took possession of the front of the classroom, Josh felt Neville recoil slightly and moved slightly so that he blocked some but not all of Neville’s view of the grim faced man striding back and forth at the front of the room like a caged tiger and even though he was no empath like his mother, he tried to project a reassuring presence for the other boy.
Seeing Josh stand up and look Snape in the eye, and not wanting the other boy to think he had made a mistake in choosing to be his friend or lab partner, Neville straightened up and tried to project an air of confidence he really didn’t feel. Snape was a very very scary man and so far he hadn’t even said a word. But Neville had been sorted into Gryffindor so that had to mean he was brave… didn’t it?
Neville had been so wrapped up in his concerns that he didn’t realize class had started until Snape barked at him, “Longbottom, since you think you don’t need to pay attention, tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
Neville stared at him blankly for a moment until he remembered the herbs he and Josh had been talking about on their way to class. He remembered that the Asphodel was from the same family as the Lily and that Josh had mentioned he had seen in one of his books that it was good for chronic fatigue. He also remembered that wormwood was very poisonous if too much was used, but there was a safe form and dosage that helped numb pain.
“Well we are waiting Longbottom.” Snape snapped when he hadn’t answered.
“I think it’s some kind of strong sleeping potion, but I can’t remember the name, sir.” Neville finally told him.
Snape was surprised he even managed to give a partially correct answer. “Your tutor was obviously someone with little skill at potions if they couldn’t help you remember the name of such a simple potion.” He turned his attention to Josh, “What about you, Mr Talbot? Do you a muggle-born know the name of the potion I am referring to?”
“I believe it’s called the Draught of Living Death and with wormwood in it, I’m not surprised by the Death part of the name. When too much wormwood is used it can be very deadly as those who drink Absinthe have found out.”
Snape sneered. “Muggle alcoholic beverages have little to do with the art of potions, Talbot. Tell me, where would I find a Bezoar?”
Granger who was sitting at the next workstation over was bouncing in her chair, her hand waving trying to attract the Professor’s attention.
Ignoring her, Snape repeated his question. “Mr Talbot, where would I find a Bezoar?"
Josh was silent for a few moments. “I believe it can be found in the stomach of a goat and animals similar to it.”
“Correct,” Snape told him. “And do you know the difference between Monkshood and Wolfsbane?”
“There is no difference other than the name.” Josh responded knowing this one very well. His mother had warned him at a very early age to stay away from the Aconite she grew in the greenhouse along with others, for use in certain potions. “The primary name for the herb is Aconite and it is a plant that should be handled with great care because even the smallest amount can be lethal.”
“Correct, though a bezoar if you are lucky enough to have one and use it in time, can save you from Aconite poisoning as well as most other poisons.” Snape nodded. “Five points to Ravenclaw. And one to Gryffindor, for your partially correct answer, Longbottom.”
After several minutes of note taking, Snape set them to making their first potion; a potion to deal with boils. Seeing how much Neville’s hands were shaking, Josh took over the task of cutting the herbs into pieces of the right size while Neville crushed the snake’s fangs into powder. Then Josh took the task of stirring since it required a steady hand while Neville added the ingredients.
When Neville started to add the porcupine quills, Josh hissed and pushed his hand away before the first quill could leave his hand.
“What’s wrong?” Neville asked softly, “the instructions on the board say to add the quills after the slugs have stewed.”
“We have to take the cauldron off the heat first or the potion will overheat and eat through the cauldron among other things.” Josh told him as Snape stalked around a few of the Gryffindor brewers.
“Eeep,” Neville squeaked.
Josh took a deep breath as he stepped out of the main doors for Hogwarts. They had the afternoon off and he really had needed to get out of the Ravenclaw common room before he wound up saying something he really didn’t want to. Apparently all the first years in the Ravenclaw who were either purebloods or had older brothers and sisters at Hogwarts could talk about was Harry Potter and where he was and why he wasn’t there for his first year the way he was supposed to be. They also were speculating at great length about which House he would’ve wound up in.
Josh couldn’t help wondering what they would say if they knew he was right under their very noses in Ravenclaw. Not that he would tell them. He’d seen the rock star glaze in most of their eyes when they talked about Harry Potter and made him sound like he was the second coming of Merlin.
The surface of the lake when he reached it was smooth as glass. Glancing around, Josh saw the shore of the lake was littered with rocks and stones. Picking up some of the smoother ones, Josh started trying to skip them across the water.
After a few stones had skipped across, with just a few ripples, the next stone being caught by a tentacle that rose out of the water startled Josh.
“Sammy likes to play catch.” A booming voice told him as the rock was thrown back on to shore.
Josh looked around to find the owner of the voice and saw it was Mr. Hagrid. “What is Sammy?”
“He’s the squid of Black Lake.” The groundskeeper told him in a lower voice as he came to stand beside him.
“A squid?” Josh stared at him in disbelief. “How does a creature that can only live in salt water come to live in a fresh water lake?”
“Magic, lad,” Hagrid told him as he tossed rocks to the squid to catch. “Sammy is a very old squid. I think he’s lived in the lake for over three hundred and fifty-seven years. I looked it up when I went to school here and he was first mentioned as being seen in the lake around then. I think one of the Care of Magical Creatures teachers back then got him for a class and he just stayed.”
“Why didn’t they take him back?” Josh wondered.
Hagrid shrugged, “Maybe all ‘is kin were killed, and since from what I read he was a baby then, he wouldn’a survived alone among predators. He might also be the last of his kind. Merlin knows, I’ve never heard of another one like ‘im. He’s got a good life here. He gets regular meals and Sammy’s dead useful in keeping the first years safe from the other creatures in the lake, when they are crossing it. He catches them and puts them back in their boats before things like Grindylows can git ‘em.”
“Well, I’m glad he found a home, even if it’s not one I would’ve ever though of for a squid.” Josh commented.
“Yer, Josh Talbot aren’t ye?” Hagrid asked finally remembering the name of the boy who had brought back the Stone that Dumbledore was supposed to be protecting for Flamel.
“Yes, sir,” Josh agreed.
“’M not a teacher, so ye don’t have ta call me sir. ‘M just Hagrid.” The groundskeeper then asked. “I was about ta make ma’self a cuppa, would ye like to have one with me?”
Josh shrugged, “Sure, why not.”
Josh followed the huge man to a wooden house with a thatched roof, that was near the edge of what he had been told was the Forbidden Forrest. There was smoke coming out of the stone chimney and a couple of rough wooden benches, one with a crossbow leaning up against it on either side of the doorway. Hagrid’s house made Josh think of that Robin of Sherwood series that his mum had liked to watch a few years ago on the ITV channel. It looked a lot like the headman’s cottage in the village near Nottingham where the people followed Hearne and the Old Ways and would help Robin Hood out as much as they could.
As Hagrid opened the door, Josh heard a loud barking coming from inside
“Back Fang, I’ve just brought some company fer tea.” Hagrid order as he stepped through the doorway.
When Josh followed cautiously a minute later, he saw Hagrid restraining the biggest dog he had ever seen. It was bigger than Jerry’s Great Dane Marmaduke.
Fang managed to wriggle out of Hagrid’s grasp and bounded toward Josh. Before he could get out the door though the dog was licking his face as if eager to greet this stranger.
Hagrid managed to get a firm grip on Fang’s collar and pulled him back to another part of the large room and ordered, “SIT!”
As Fang sat down near the foot of the very large bed, Hagrid apologized, ‘Sorry ‘bout that, but since I don’t have that many visitors, Fang gets excited when we do and forgets he is not a puppy any more.”
“That’s ok,” Josh assured him. “I’ve got a friend at home who has a Great Dane and he acts like a big puppy.”
Hagrid gestured toward the table, “Have a seat while I get things ready.”
Josh glanced around. Yep, definitely looked like a medieval cottage inside as well. There were Hams and Pheasants hanging from the roof beams along with dried bundles of herbs and in the middle of the room was a huge wooden slab table with small wooden benches on either side of it.
Taking a seat at the table Josh noticed there was a newspaper on the table. It was the first one he had seen in the magical world and pulled it toward him curious to see what it looked like and what they considered important news.
The glaring headline of the Daily Prophet was: Harry Potter Missing! Never Arrived At Hogwarts! What Has Happened To The Wizarding World’s Hero? Josh had to bite his lip as he read the piece of fantasy that was considered wizarding journalism regarding why Harry Potter wasn’t at Hogwarts where everyone expected him to be.
Below that was another article with a slightly smaller headline: Over Twenty Pureblood Witches And Wizards Missing! Aurors Baffled! Curious, Josh read the article. Apparently around September 1st, over twenty pureblood wizards and witches had vanished, a number of them after putting their children on the Hogwarts Express and some of the others after departing the Ministry for lunch. At first it had been thought that someone had been trying to get revenge albeit somewhat late on those Deatheaters who had been let go after testifying that they had committed their crimes under the Imperious curse like Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy and Sidney and Janice Parkinson, but that idea had quickly lost its validity when Delores Umbridge an Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic had also vanished after failing to show up for work on September 2 after her holiday ended.
Josh quickly hid a smirk, wondering if the Parkinson that was mentioned was the bigot that had ripped into his mother at King’s Cross Station. She had said she was going to open the eyes of a bigot and if this paper was right, there were a lot more bigots that even his mother knew about. Given that his mother had addressed her plea to the Gods themselves, Josh doubted the other wizard’s and witches that were missing were any less of a bigot than that Mr. Parkinson and had been judged as deserving the same fate. Josh was kind of curious about what the Gods had done to them, but he doubted he would ever find out.
Josh was about to return the paper back to its original location when a small article near the bottom of the front page caught his attention. It had a moving picture of the goblins at Gringotts standing in front of an open vault, scowling and waving someone off before closing the open door on the empty vault. The article itself indicated that a vault at Gringotts had been broken into on the day he and his mum had visited.
He whistled loud enough to attract Hagrid’s attention before commenting, “That must’ve taken some nerve and a large amount of stupidity.”
“What?” Hagrid asked returning his attention to the tea he was pouring.
“For someone to be willing to risk trying to steal something that the Goblins were responsible for.” Josh tapped the newspaper. “When Mum and I were there, we got the distinct impression that the goblins disliked thieves. Whoever owned the vault must be psychic though since the article also says that the contents were emptied before the thieves had a chance to break into the vault.”
Realising that the first year was talking about the article in the paper about the break in involving Flamel’s vault that he had emptied for Dumbledore, Hagrid mumbled, “yea, ‘spect yer right. Owner was lucky to git their stuff out before the thieves did.”
Josh was relaxing in one of the comfortable chairs near the fireplace in the Ravenclaw common room, having just finished up a very involved essay for Potions, when he felt something slither up his calf, underneath his pants.
Having a fairly good idea about who it was, Josh leaned over as if to retie his shoelace and then even though there was enough noise in the common room to cover the sound of it, he softly hissed, “Ssssilk, you can transssfer to my arm.”
He felt the weight on his leg move to his arm and once Silk was securely wrapped around his wrist, invisible to all eyes, Josh headed toward the stairs for his dorm.
“Hey, Josh, why are you turning in so early?” His dorm mate Terry Boot asked.
“Not going to bed,” Josh told him. “My stomach is feeling a bit upset. I think it was something I ate before dinner, so I was going upstairs to get something my mum made for it. Word of advice, though it may never happen, if you ever get invited to tea at Hagrid’s, avoid eating anything unless you know it was made by someone else.”
“His cooking is that bad?”
“Yep,” Josh headed upstairs. It was only the truth after all. Hagrid’s cooking was even worse that Amy’s. Amy could burn water and given the fact that she was a brilliant artist that was why the members of the coven always insisted she do the decorations for the feasts. It showed her talent to the gods and they avoided hurting her feelings. Personally Josh thought she knew she was a bad cook even though no one had ever said so to her face, but he like the others never wanted to hurt the feelings of such a sweet person. Amy was a good soul.
The dorm room was empty when Josh sat down on his bed. Silk slithered off his wrist and appeared a moment later.
“Did you have a good hunt?” Josh inquired.
“Yessss,” Josh noticed that Silk sounded very distracted.
“Did something happen on your hunt?” Josh was worried about what might distract his companion like this.
Silk was silent for several minutes before he admitted in an awed hiss “I ssssaw a bassssilissk!”
Though he didn’t dare say it aloud, Blaise was tired of listening to Malfoy brag about how well he could fly a broom and how he was going to run rings around the Gryffindors that afternoon in their first flying class. Though if he had to make a choice he would prefer listening to Malfoy brag, than listen to him complain about how incompetent the Aurors were at doing their job because they couldn’t seem to locate his parents. His complaints usually led to the other members of Slytherin whose parents were missing complaining as well, though they did it very quietly, not wanting to give the other Houses any ammunition to use against them. Blaise thought it was exceedingly stupid of them not to realise that the other Houses already had all the ammunition they needed, given the Daily Prophet had printed the names of the missing witches and wizards. Though none of the other House members had done so yet, not even Ron Weasley who would have loved to have something he could use against Malfoy given the fight they’d had on the train.
While he personally had no family missing, Blaise was fairly certain that the Aurors were not incompetent. He knew from his cousin that they were doing their job, they just weren’t losing any sleep over the people who were missing, given that the majority of them had been tried as Deatheaters at the end of the last war and had managed to get off with a fine by claiming they were under the Imperious curse.
Something good had come out of Malfoy’s parents being missing, Blaise reflected silently. Draco wasn’t threatening everyone with his Father when something didn’t go the way he wanted.
Getting to his feet, Blaise Zabini intended to head to their first class of the day, when he caught sight of Talbot sitting at the end of the Ravenclaw table, picking at his breakfast while his attention was firmly fixed on an old book. He found the Ravenclaw a fascinating set of contradictions. The other boy was most definitely a powerful young wizard even the magic he used was a kind Zabini had never heard of or seen before. While silent casting was something a powerful witch or wizard could do with training, even silent casting required the wand movements to be made. Wandless magic users, while also known in the magical world, were very very rare. Dumbledore was the most well-known of them but not even he could do silent, wandless casting. Never before had Zabini seen a form of magic that could be accomplished just by saying some words and not even in Latin, the language most if not all spells were created in and making no movements with either a wand or the hand. He had even written to his mother to see if any of the books on magic in the family library mention the kind of magic Talbot had done, but she had found nothing even vaguely like it and had sent back instructions to befriend the boy and see if it was a form of magic that could be learned. Given that the Zabini library went back almost to the time of the Founders, if their library didn’t contain any mention of it, then the magic Talbot had used was very unique and possibly very powerful.
Shrugging his shoulders, Zabini realised it was time he started carrying out his mother’s instructions to befriend the other boy and see what he could learn about this unusual way of doing magic. Zabini was grateful for one thing as he headed toward where the other boy was sitting; Talbot was in Ravenclaw and not one of the other two houses. It would’ve been extremely awkward to strike up a friendship with a wizard who acted like a muggle-born if Talbot had been sorted into either Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. His yearmates in Slytherin would’ve been instantly suspicious as would the older years of both Houses. Luckily Ravenclaw was as close as you could get to a neutral House at Hogwarts.
“Hey Talbot,” Zabini called out as he got closer to the other boy. “What are you reading that is so fascinating you are forgetting to eat?”
Josh looked up startled. “Magical Creatures Great and Small last revised by Daniel J. O’Neill in 1969. I was curious about the creatures we in the non-magical world consider legends and myths.”
Blaise looked at the pictures that covered about have of each of the two open pages. On one of the pages was a picture of a Pegasus and on the other a Thestral.
Talbot tapped the picture of the Thestral. “This looks like something the artist H. R. Giger could’ve dreamed up," Josh commented. "He's drawn a number of weird looking creatures like the creature in the Alien movie." He studied the picture of the animal more intently. "I also can’t help wondering if HP Lovecraft might not have seen one once, cause they make me think of some of his more demonic creations."
“Alien Movie?” Blaise didn’t understand the reference.
Josh sighed trying to explain exactly what a movie was would be next to impossible. A movie just had to be seen, but remembering the moving portraits in the castle he told Zabini. “A movie is kind of like your magical portraits, only most of the time the scenes they show are fictional and a whole lot more fun to watch.”
Before Zabini could say anything more the morning mail arrived and Talbot got a surprise as a snowy owl landed next to him and stuck out her leg.
“Pol, you have something for me?” Talbot stared at the snowy owl in surprise for a moment before removing the letter and handing the owl some bacon. “Mum must be back from Cousin Penny’s then.”
The snowy owl bobbed her head, took the bacon and then after it was eaten took off for the Owlery.
“Pol?” Blaise wondered where the name had come from.
“Short for Polgara.” Josh told him. “She is a sorceress in one of my favourite series of stories. Her favourite form was a snowy owl.”
Before Blaise could say anything further, the rest of the Ravenclaws started putting their books away and getting to their feet. Josh looked at his watch and put his letter and the book away as well. “Time to get to class.”
As the two boys reached the entryway, they heard a voice call out, “Josh wait up.”
Josh turned to face Neville and saw him holding out a glass ball filled with white swirly smoke that was about the size of a one Pound coin. “Look what my Gran sent me.”
Before Josh could ask what it was a drawling voice could be heard to comment. “A rememberall, Longbottom. That was a waste of her money, since I doubt it could help you remember anything.”
Zabini winced as a group of Slytherin first years gathered around them with a group of Gryffindor first years gathered nearby, ready to come to Neville’s defence if needed. He was fairly certain that Draco was about to do something stupid.
His guess was quickly proven right as Malfoy plucked the rememberall from Longbottom’s hand before the other boy could pull it out of reach. However before Malfoy’s clenched fist could get out of range, Zabini saw Talbot’s hand dart out and grip his wrist, and seemed to be applying pressure to the heel of his hand where Draco’s thumb was. Zabini noticed that no matter how hard Draco tried, the blond Slytherin wasn’t able to pull his hand free of the Ravenclaw’s grip and he was hissing in pain. A moment later his fist opened and Talbot plucked the rememberall out of his grasp and returned it to Neville.
Neville pocketed it gratefully as McGonagall walked up. “What’s going on here?”
“Malfoy took the rememberall my Gran sent me, Professor.” Neville told her. “Talbot helped me get it back.”
McGonagall looked over the group and saw no evidence of spells being cast, or wounds. “And how did you accomplish that, Mr. Talbot?”
Josh shrugged, “I used a pressure hold my self defence teacher taught me.”
She wondered what a pressure hold was and then dismissed it as something muggle. She was just grateful that he had been able to quickly resolve the situation without a spell being cast. The last thing they needed was a fight breaking out in the Great Hall. “Thank you Mr. Talbot. Ten points to Ravenclaw for coming to the aid of a student from another House.”
“Neville is one of my friends, ma’am.” Josh told her.
Malfoy stood there rubbing his right hand which was still throbbing, staring at the teacher in disbelief. “You’re giving him ten points for attacking me?”
“No, Mr. Malfoy,” McGonagall corrected him. “I gave him ten points for coming to the aid of another student. I’m giving you detention with Mr. Filch tonight for taking something that didn’t belong to you.”
“You have no proof of that.” Malfoy protested.
“Oh, I think these other students should provide a sufficient number of witnesses as to whether you did or not take Mr. Longbottom’s rememberall.” McGonagall countered. “And if you wish to continue protesting, I will be more than happy to add another day of detention and take ten points from Slytherin.”
Malfoy decided to cut his losses especially given the glares he was receiving from his fellow Slytherins.
Looking at her watch, McGonagall told the gathered students, “Well, all of you had better get to class.”
As Josh headed down the crowded corridor toward Charms class, he was surprised when a bushy haired girl ran into him, nearly knocking him over before running on. It took him a minute to realise it had been Granger the bossy Gryffindor who had run into him and that she had been crying. After almost two months of contact with the girl between classes and his friendship with Neville, Josh had thought he knew what Granger’s first response would be in most situations. He was surprised that she hadn’t apologised for running into him not even a muffled I’m sorry. She had always seemed to be such a stickler for behaving correctly. He couldn’t help wondering what had gotten her so agitated that she would act so out of character. He made a mental note to speak with Neville and see if he could find out what had happened.
Josh caught up with Neville just as they were going down to the Great Hall for the Samhain feast. “Hey Nev!”
“Hi Josh,” Neville returned his greeting.
“Neville, can you tell me what had Granger so upset earlier today that she nearly ran me down without so much an excuse me?” Josh inquired as they entered the Great Hall.
Neville looked somewhat solemn as he said. “I’m ashamed to say it was because of my dorm mate Ron Weasley. We both know Granger is not very tactful when pointing out the fact that someone got something wrong, and she can also be a bit arrogant at showing off her knowledge but when she did it today, it was apparently the last straw for Weasley. He basically said loud enough for her to hear ‘that it was no wonder that no one could stand her’ and ‘no wonder that she had no friends’. And given she’s not a favourite of Lavender Brown or Parvati Patil either, I overheard them gloating over the fact that she hadn’t been to class ever since Ron made those comments, and is currently hiding in the girl’s bathroom.”
Josh sighed, “While your fellow Gryffindor, probably shouldn’t have been so tactless, I’m surprised she reacted that way. It can’t be the first time she has offended people with her ‘I know better than you’ attitude.”
Neville shrugged. “Maybe she thought she would get a fresh start in the magical world, since no one here knew her.”
“That only works, if you don’t bring the attitudes and behaviours with you that made you disliked elsewhere.” Josh pointed out just before they went to their separate tables.
The feast had been going on for a while when the Defence teacher Quirrell came running in and once he reached the Head table he gasped. “Troll! …. In the dungeons! … Thought you should know.”
As the man slid to the floor in a senseless heap, word spread like a wildfire from those students closest to the Head table to the rest of their Houses. In a few moments there was pandemonium.
Several long bangs silenced the Great Hall and in the silence, Dumbledore ordered, “Prefects, lead your Houses to their common rooms immediately.”
As the prefects were leading the students out of the Great Hall, Josh heard a voice in his head that he recognised as Hogwarts’. Josh, Miss Granger is still in the bathroom! She never came to the feast! I have been monitoring the Troll’s progress and he is heading in her direction. You have to warn her!
Can you guide me to her? Josh never even stopped to consider refusing the request.
Yes, but you have to hurry!
Josh spotted Neville as he cleared the doorway and pulled him out of line. “Nev, Granger doesn’t know about the troll. We need to get to her and warn her.”
“You want me to come along?” Neville squeaked. “Wouldn’t you be able to move faster on your own?”
“Granger doesn’t know me that well and I’m from a different house so she might not trust me.” Josh reminded him. “You she knows and you’re a fellow Gryffindor. Will you help me?”
Neville nodded, but Josh could still see the fear in his face.
“Good man,” Josh patted him on the back. “Let’s go.”
Josh followed Hogwarts instructions as the castle tried to delay the troll. The problem was that not much was stopping it. The path it was travelling didn’t have any movable staircases and the armour and barriers she was putting in its way were being smashed to pieces causing a lot of damage.
He’s found her! Hurry! Hogwarts cried, just as they rounded the corner and saw the troll entering a doorway it had just knocked open with its club.
Both boys heard her scream and darted in the doorway. They saw a smashed sink with water spewing out of it and Hermione Granger curled up under another one screaming while she tried to avoid the swinging club.
“Granger!” Josh shouted. “Shut up, you’re just attracting his attention.”
Hermione was so surprised at hearing the unexpected voice in the girl’s bathroom she went silent instead of trying to argue the point.
“Neville, try and get to Granger. I’ll distract the troll.” Josh ordered, before shouting, “Hey stupid!” in the general direction of the troll.
The troll turned around searching for the source of the new noise
“Over here!” Josh waved to attract its attention as Neville tried to pull Granger out from under the sink. He needed to keep the troll’s attention focused on him for a few minutes. Long enough for Neville to get Granger out of the room.
As he dodged the swinging club, Josh looked around desperately trying to find something he could use as a weapon and then it hit him… the water on the floor. He just hoped he could muster enough concentration while dodging the club to harness the node energy in the air around him and use it to cool the air around the water and force the water to freeze.
He was almost there when he heard Neville’s voice shout, “Wingardium Leviosa!”
Startled, Josh saw the troll’s club go above his head as the troll’s foot came down on the icy patch Josh had created. While the sheet of ice wasn’t very thick, it was thick enough to make the troll’s foot slip, just as Neville’s spell lost its hold on the troll’s club.
As the troll crashed to the ground knocked out by his own club, its outflung arm struck Josh, sending him into the wall and knocking him unconscious.
Once they were certain the troll wasn’t going to be getting up any time soon, Neville and Hermione ran over to check on Josh.
“And just what happened here?” McGonagall demanded as she, Snape, ad Quirrell arrived on the scene.
“Talbot and I remembered that Granger was in here and hadn’t gone to the feast so she didn’t know about the Troll.” Neville stammered trying not to look at the stern faces in the doorway. “The troll beat us here and was trying to hurt Granger so Josh distracted it while I tried to get her out of the way.”
“Why wasn’t Granger at the feast?” Snape demanded. “And more importantly, why didn’t you let one of the Prefects know she wasn’t there? It’s their responsibility to insure your safety. It would have been far better to let them handle this than a pair of first years who barely know which way to point their wands.”
“Professor McGonagall,” Hermione interrupted the inquisition, not wanting to have to explain about how hurt she had felt because of Weasley’s comments. “Mr. Talbot has been knocked out by the troll I think we need to get him to the hospital wing.”
McGonagall quickly conjured a stretcher and floated the unconscious boy on to it. “Professor Snape, would you please take Mr. Talbot to the Hospital wing while I escort these two first years back to the Gryffindor common room?”
Snape muttered something that no one could make out before gesturing with his wand toward the stretcher. It rose and floated along behind him as he headed for the hospital wing.
Madame Pomfrey came in early to check on her only patient, the first year who had been knocked out by the troll that had somehow managed to get into the school. According to what Minerva had told her, he had been injured trying to save another student. Madame Pomfrey didn’t know whether to call the child brave or foolish for trying to confront a mountain troll. Fortunately other than a slight lump on his head, all the scans she had run on him showed he would recover without any side effects from the ordeal. She also fully expected him to wake up this morning after spending the night unconscious.
As Pomfrey approached the bed the Talbot boy was lying in she gasped. There was a different child lying in the bed she had left Talbot in the night before. This child had shoulder length black hair instead of the short auburn hair Talbot had. Moving closer to get a better look at his face, Pomfrey saw the lightening bolt scar on his forehead and gasped.
It was Harry Potter!
Chapter 10: My name is TalbotÃ¢ï¿½Â¦ Josh Talbot
AN: I am sorry this update took so long to post. I actually start this chapter before the end of last year and had hoped to have it posted around March, but as you can see that didnâ€™t happen. For some reason this chapter proved to be a very hard one to write, because every time I wrote a section the bunnie would come along as soon as that section was finished and I was trying to write the next one and say: â€œI donâ€™t like it redo it.â€� And then they made radical changes at work because they let others go (Not me thank the deity) and because the call volume spiked and has stayed high my time to write there got cut to nothing. I think the bunnie is now satisfied even if I am not completely. I hope you enjoy it.
My name is Talbot... Josh Talbot
Dumbledore looked up to see Madame Pomfrey's face in his office fireplace. The expression on her face was one of stunned disbelief. "What is it, Poppy?"
"Headmaster, I need you to come down to the Hospital wing as soon as possible." She requested.
"Why?" Dumbledore inquired and then remembering the first year student who had been injured by the troll asked, "Has anything happened to Mr. Talbot?"
"Please Headmaster, just come to the Hospital wing," Madame Pompfrey repeated her request. "There is something else you need to see before someone else does."
Curious and a little concerned, Dumbledore stepped into his fireplace and stepped out of the one in Madame Pomfrey's office
"What has happened, Poppy?" Dumbledore asked quietly as he dusted himself off.
"This morning when I went in to check on Mr. Talbot, I..." Madame Pomfrey began and then stopped.
"What is it Poppy," Dumbledore said as he took Madame Pomfrey's arm and led her to a chair.
"I found someone else in Mr. Talbot's bed, instead of him." Pomfrey replied
"Someone else?" Dumbledore's eyebrow went up in surprise.
Poppy nodded her head. "And I swear he looks like James Potter..."
Dumbledore barely restrained a gasp of surprise. "Does he have the lightening bolt scar?"
Madame Pomfrey nodded. "But it can't be Harry Potter, can it? He went missing years ago and never learned about the wizarding world. So how could he have ever gotten into Hogwarts? And why show up in the Hospital wing? And more importantly where is Mr. Talbot?"
In the bathroom off to the side of the main area of the hospital wing, Josh stared at his reflection, debating whether or not to put the glamour charm back on before he rejoined his yearmates for lunch in the Great Hall.
Part of the reason for his debate, even though the Headmaster had ordered him not to put the glamour charm back on, was the reaction of the fifth year Ravenclaw prefect, Markus Bredlow, who had brought him clean clothes. While Madame Pompfrey and the Headmaster had seemed fairly unruffled by the fact that Joshua Talbot had in fact been born Harry Potter, the supposed defeater of Voldemort, Bredlow had stared at Josh as if he were a cross between the pop star Michael Jackson and Pope John Paul II. In fact the way Bredlow, a pureblood wizard, had stared at him reminded him a lot of the way Derrick's sister, Kristi, had stared at the posters she had of the boy band New Kids on the Block. Bredlow's expression made him think the older boy thought he was gazing at Merlin himself when he looked at Josh and that was very very creepy.
If it had only been those three who had seen him, Josh was fairly certain he could've resumed his former disguise and passed the fifth year prefect's reaction off as someone having played a prank on Josh. However the school nurse had told him that Edgecombe and Chang, two of the biggest gossips in Ravenclaw had seen him along with that girl Granger and Neville. That meant the news that Harry Potter was at Hogwarts and had been using the name of Joshua Talbot all this time would be all over the Ravenclaw common room, if not the common rooms of all the other Houses at Hogwarts.
All of those reasons were more than enough to make Josh want to resume using the glamour charm his mother had taught him, but there was only one thing that made him seriously doubt he would be able to get away with it for long... Dumbledore. Despite the kindly grandfatherly persona, the elderly Headmaster used to put children at ease, Josh had no doubt that the wily old wizard had figured out the glamour spell he was using had a time limit on it. All the Headmaster would have to do would be to arrange something that would put him out or make it impossible for him to renew the spell in time and then once the glamour had worn off, he would be able to show "Harry Potter" off to the magical world as if he were a prize winning show dog.
Oh and wouldn't that just put the cats among the pigeons. Josh remember very well the gossip that had sprung up in the Ravenclaw common room when Harry Potter had failed to appear on the first night and the article he had read at Hagrid's had only reinforced his opinion that the wizarding world would take any rumour and run with it as if it were gospel. He'd heard rumours that ran the gamut of Harry Potter being trained in secret by the Unspeakables, the magical world's version of the SAS, in case You-Know-Who came back, to he was a Squib after defeating Voldemort and that was why he hadn't shown up, because he could no longer do magic.
Josh sighed. He really didn't want to be stared at and talked about behind his back, but he also didn't want to take the risk of having his birth name revealed to the magical world against his wishes.
"What am I gonna do?" Josh sighed running his hands through his hair. He needed an older impartial person to talk to.
Can I help Josh? Hogwarts wanted to know.
Josh shrugged. He had wanted someone older to talk to and Hogwarts was the oldest person around, even if she was a building.
He laid everything out for Hogwarts and then waited for her opinion.
In the long run, I think it would be better if you dealt with the issue of your birth name being Harry Potter now instead of later. Hogwarts told him after a few moments silence.
Why? Josh was curious as to her reasoning.
As you have already deduced the Headmaster, is not going to let you keep that glamour charm of yours on for long. He will reveal you to the world at a time that will benefit him the most and you the least. If you show yourself now you can control the fallout that will occur because you are indeed Harry Potter. Hogwarts told him. I think that in the long run it would be better if you did not depend on the glamour to hide who you are. In my years of observing wizards and witches, I have noticed that they only seem to look at the surface of things and judge it by their own very narrow views. If you maintain the glamour they will start to come up with all kinds of reasons of their own as to why you are hiding and they might start thinking you are the next up and coming Dark Lord even though you are only wearing the glamour to hide the fact that you look exactly like your birth father James Potter. They won't care about your reasons they will only see that you were hiding something from them and assume that there's something even worse that you aren't telling them.
Josh nodded. Hogwarts was right. His mum had pretty much said the same thing about the Headmaster. Dumbledore clearly had a hidden agenda that centred around Harry Potter and the unknown prophecy that had led to the death's of the Potter's because Voldemort had decided to remove the threat to Josh posed to him while he was still a baby. It was a pity that his mum had had so many other things she needed to find out from Dumbledore, that she didn't have a chance to ask him what the prophecy was.
Thanks Hogwarts, Josh left the bathroom.
It was time to go with Plan B. He and his mother had planned for what might happen if Josh were linked to Harry Potter. His mum had thought it might happen, given he had been linked to Voldemort through a prophecy. But if Dumbledore thought he was going to have an easy time making Josh into Harry Potter he was in for a rather rude awakening. He was Joshua Alexander Talbot and nothing the magical enclaves tried to do would change that.
Megan's anger was building as she headed from her bedroom to the front door. Most people would've left by now... but no this idiot is determined to wake me up.
Unless it was a major emergency, she knew it wouldn't be any of her friends trying to disturb her rest, because she'd let them all know that she was not to be disturbed for at least twenty-four hours and being the intelligent people they were, they probably wouldn't come by for at least two or three days. She'd even sent Josh a note a few days before via Polgara letting him know not to send her any mail until at least Nov 3rd, given she was going to have to be up for at least five days straight to fix what some ID10t of a network admin had done at Max's Mercantile. They all knew that a sleep deprived Megan was not a safe thing to be around. One of her friends, a big fan of Marvel comics, had once compared her to the She Hulk on a rampage after a few nights without sleep and she knew the comparison was probably accurate. Every time she got one of these projects and it was ready for install, she'd always made arrangements for Josh to stay with one of his friends for a few days, because she knew when it came to verbally ripping someone apart her tongue could be sharper than the finest steel and she'd never wanted to expose Josh to that.
As she flung open the door, she vowed the person on the other side of this door was going to regret being so stubborn. "Somebody had better be dying out here, or you're going to be joining that that bloody parrot in the bleeding choir invisible because you just had to wake me up."
When she got her first good look at the person on the other side of the door, Megan hoped that her anger covered up her surprise at seeing Dumbledore standing on the other side of her door.
As he continued to stare at her, Megan finally said in exasperation. "You have to be a wizard."
"How did you know?" Dumbledore asked. He had purposely worn muggle clothes in case there were others around.
"Well aside from the fact that you are wearing something that went out of style in the fifties, you are staring at me as if you'd seen a ghost," she observed with a snort. "The only people who reacted that way toward me were some witches and wizards in Diagon Alley. There is also the fact that you just showed up at my front door with no warning... most people have the good manners to call before suddenly showing up on someone's doorstep. It's only polite after all."
"I apologize for staring, but as I am sure you must have heard from those others, you look a lot like someone I used to know..." Dumbledore began cautiously.
"Yes, yes, I know, Lily Potter," the woman told him. "I sometimes think the Gods have a sense of humour considering who my son Josh was born to."
"So you are Mrs. Talbot?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes, and who are you and why are you interrupting my sleep?" Megan continued to pretend she had never met the Headmaster before.
"My name is Albus Dumbledore," the Headmaster introduced himself. "I am the Headmaster of Hogwarts the school your son is currently attending. And I apologize for disturbing your sleep, I did not realize I would be doing so, but I needed to speak with you regarding your son... Harry. May I come in?"
"His name is Josh... not Harry." Megan corrected him, not letting him through the door. "And given that you know what he really looks like that means the glamour spell failed... how did that happen? Was he hurt?"
"Mrs. Talbot, Harry is fine." Dumbledore told her cautiously beginning to regret his decision to meet with the people who had raised Harry and find out what they had been teaching him. "As for what happened, do you really want to discuss this out in the open?"
"There's no one nearby at the moment and once you answer my questions I will decide whether or not to let you in." Megan continued to block the doorway. "How did you find out what my son really looked like? Was he hurt and if so how?"
"Harry suffered some minor injuries protecting another first year from attack and as a result had to spend the night in the Hospital wing to make sure he was ok." Dumbledore was beginning to see where Harry had gotten the stubbornness he'd shown in the Hospital wing from. The boy had answered none of his questions when he had questioned him in the Hospital wing and this woman preventing him from even asking the questions he needed to ask. "The glamour charm wore off while he was in the Hospital wing."
"Either you're lying to me or simply downplaying the severity of my son's injuries. Which is it?" Megan told him. "Josh must've been unconscious, or he would've renewed the glamour, before he went to sleep, as he has been every night since he arrived at Hogwarts. Who was this person that injured my son and how did they get into the school? And more importantly, where is he or she now? I do hope they are in prison or dead. I would hate to think you were allowing someone who attacks a child unrestricted access to your school."
"Harry is fine. He suffered only minor injuries and our school nurse felt it was best to keep him overnight. As for the intruder, he is imprisoned." Dumbledore assured her and technically it was true. He had no intention of telling this rather formidable woman that the troll that had attacked Harry Potter was currently guarding a hallway in a sealed off section of Hogwarts as part of the protections surrounding Flamel's Stone. "Now may I come in? I have some questions I would like to ask you about Harry."
"I am waiting for you to answer my questions about Josh and how he came to be injured before I even consider letting you over my threshold." Megan countered.
"Mrs. Talbot, I did tell you. It was an unfortunate accident. An intruder got into the school and Harry was injured protecting another student from him." Dumbledore reminded her.
"No, that doesn't answer my questions." Megan disagreed. "That's a politician's answer and while it may be true, it doesn't tell me a damn thing about what happened. And his name is Josh... not Harry."
"Actually," Dumbledore countered, "your son's name is Harry... Harry James Potter."
"Not in the eyes of the law, or in my son's own eyes." Megan was annoyed. "He chose to keep the name I gave him, even once we knew what his birth name was."
"That is true with regard to Muggle law" Dumbledore agreed and then went on. "But that doesn't apply to Harry since he is a wizard. Magical law applies to him before muggle law."
Megan glared at him. "Want to bet on that?"
"I am not here to debate magical or muggle law with you." Dumbledore tried to get the conversation back on track. "I need to speak with you about Harry. I have some questions I would like the answers to with regards to him."
"As do I, but until you answer my questions fully without giving me a politician's answer and call my son by his proper name, we have nothing to discuss and I am not letting you into my home." Megan started to close the door.
Dumbledore stuck his foot in the doorway before the door could completely close and then pushed against the door. "Mrs. Talbot, I really need...."
Before he could finish what he intended to say there was a sizzling sound and Dumbledore's whole body shook as if it had been hit with a very low level crucio only without the pain.
He staggered back as Megan told him. "I told you that I would not let you into my home until you properly answered my questions and called my son by his proper name. You should've listened. You only got treated to my first level ward. Take the hint Headmaster Dumbledore or it will only get worse. Next time you want to see me, call ahead of time and make sure I want to see you. Also remember, my son's name is Joshua Talbot, not Harry Potter. He chose to keep my name."
The door closed and Dumbledore heard the lock click before he could say another word.
Dumbledore stared at the closed door, unable to believe that he had been treated this way.... by an unknown witch. How dare she dictate terms to him? Didn't she realise who he was and that he was to be treated with respect if not because of the positions he held in the Wizarding World then because of his age and accomplishments?
He knew he would get nothing more out of her now. He needed to find out more about her before he confronted her again. He would have to see if he could get someone to watch her and see if they could figure out the source of her power. And he would have to see what he could find out from Harry about how he had come into her custody and more importantly just what it was she'd been teaching him.
As Josh stepped into the Great Hall for lunch, the chatter at the House tables died away in a wave as those closest to the doors, got a look at the stranger who was wearing a Ravenclaw House badge.
Josh started to head for the Ravenclaw table only to have the Headmaster get up and say, "Mr. Potter, before you can take your place at one of the House tables, you must be sorted."
The name the Headmaster used caused most of those at the House tables to gasp. This was Harry Potter? Where had he been and why was he wearing robes that said he was in Ravenclaw House? Potter had never been sorted. They would've remembered that.
Josh simply kept on walking, ignoring what the Headmaster had said and when he reached the end of the Ravenclaw table he took a seat.
McGonagall had come in after him and walked up to the boy who so resembled James Potter. "Mr. Potter, the Headmaster told you, you have to be sorted."
The dark haired boy ignored her to the shock and amazement of the Ravenclaws around him.
"Mr. Potter!" McGonagall repeated allowing a little of the annoyance she was feeling as the boy continued to ignore her and put food on the plate that had appeared before him. Finally she reached out and took him by the shoulder and pulled him to his feet.
As the emerald green eyes met hers she couldn't help thinking. He has Lily's eyes. "Mr Potter, the Headmaster told you, you have to be sorted before you can take your place at one of the House tables."
"I have been sorted... into Ravenclaw, ma'am," Josh told her politely and he didn't even have to speak up because you could've heard a feather drop in the silence that had filled the Great Hall, "and my name is Talbot, not Potter."
"Not in the Magical world." Dumbledore disagreed from his position at the head table. "You were born and are Harry James Potter and before you can take your place among your yearmates... you must be sorted into your correct House."
Josh was silent for several minutes trying to think of an appropriate response, because he had no intention of answering to the name Harry Potter. He hadn't agreed to come to this school under that name... that was it! The goblins had said that the Hogwarts letter was like a magically binding contract. He had agreed to come under the name Joshua Talbot, not Harry James Potter. "Well sir, if that is the case then you will need to make arrangements for me to return home, because the acceptance letter I responded to was written to Joshua A Talbot, not Harry J Potter. If my acceptance letter was not valid, based on the name I signed on it, then I am not and have never been a student at Hogwarts, nor will I be one now."
The silence became practically deafening as the students at the four House tables stared at the first year who was openly defying Dumbledore.
"Mr. Potter, ten points for your disrespect to the Headmaster." McGonagall announced.
"My name is not Potter," Josh reminded her, trying to remain calm. "Therefore you can not take points from me under that name for insisting on my rights. If in the Magical World I am not allowed to go by the name Joshua Talbot, then I technically never agreed to come to Hogwarts. Harry Potter never returned an acceptance letter now did he? Somehow I don't think so. Can you produce one acceptance letter signed by Harry Potter, agreeing to come to Hogwarts?"
"Professor McGonagall, please bring Mr. Potter to my office." Dumbledore requested. This little event was not going as he had planned. He hadn't expected the boy to resist his proper name quite so much. Apparently the Talbot witch had a stronger hold on young Potter than he had thought. He was going to have to find a way to break that hold so that the boy assumed his proper place in the wizarding world... under Dumbledore's tutelage of course.
"I respectfully ask that my Head of House Professor Flitwick come as well." Josh spoke up before Dumbledore could leave the Great Hall.
"You don't have a Head of House," Dumbledore countered, "yet."
"Actually, Headmaster, until he is resorted..." Flitwick piped up, "If he is, he is still a member of Ravenclaw House. I will come with you Mr. Talbot."
"Thank you Professor." Joshua nodded in the Charms teacher's direction both in acknowledgement of his help and the fact that he called Josh by his proper name.
As they left the Great Hall, Snape ripped apart the piece of chicken he was holding with more force than was necessary and snarled to himself. "Just like his father, always seeking attention."
McGonagall led Potter up to a crouching stone gargoyle sitting in front of a blank wall.
Josh watched with interest as she said, "Ice Mice," to the gargoyle and it moved out of the way and as it did a panel in the wall opened revealing a narrow spiral staircase.
"After you," McGonagall gestured to the stairs.
Josh sighed and started climbing the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, Professor McGonagall opened the door and gestured for him to go inside. "Have a seat, Mr. Potter."
Josh entered the office, but remained standing since she hadn't addressed him.
"I told you to have a seat." McGonagall told him.
"No, Professor," Josh disagreed. "You told Mr. Potter to have a seat. As I said in the Great Hall, my name is Talbot."
Before McGonagall could respond, the Headmaster entered the office followed by Professor Flitwick.
"Have a seat, Mr Talbot," Flitwick requested as he took one on the left hand side of the Headmaster's desk.
Josh complied sitting next to his Head of House.
McGonagall sniffed primly before sitting in a chair on the right side of the desk.
Dumbledore seated himself behind the desk his eyes twinkling, certain that he would be able to make the boy see the logic of going by his birth name. "Now, Mr. Potter, it is important that we get you properly registered at Hogwarts and that means a proper sorting under your real name."
Josh looked at his Head of House. "Professor, am I not already on the rolls at Hogwarts? I remember accepting the offer to come here under my real name... Talbot. Why is the Headmaster trying to tell me that isn't my real name?"
Flitwick was silent for several minutes before saying. "In the Wizarding world, the name you are born with is regarded as your True Name and they recognize no other unless you are disowned by the head of your family. Being a Wiccan you know the power one's True Name has."
"Yes," Josh agreed, "which is why I have never given my full name to anyone and never will. The thing is sir a True name also is the one a person responds too because that is how they think of themselves. I will say it again. I am not Harry Potter."
"But you are," Dumbledore disagreed as he picked the Sorting Hat off its shelf and placed it on Josh's head. "That is the name you were given by your birth parents and it is the name you are known by. And it is the name you must be sorted into Hogwarts by."
"Then I refuse to remain," Josh told him as the Sorting Hat stirred.
"It is too soon for me to sort a new group of first years." The hat commented.
Dumbledore told the hat. " Well, this is one of this years students who was missed at the sorting feast and needs to be sorted now. Mr. Potter has been located and is at Hogwarts and needs to be sorted into his proper House."
The hat was silent for a moment before replying. "I have already sorted Mr. Talbot into his proper House. There is no need to resort him."
"This is Mr. Harry Potter," Dumbledore began.
"No," the hat interrupted. "The person on whose head I am sitting thinks of himself as Joshua Talbot. Mr. Talbot was sorted into Ravenclaw and that is where he belongs. I will not be resorting him as there is no need to."
The hat went still after making that pronouncement.
Josh put the hat on the Dumbledore's desk. "Headmaster given that the sorting hat says I'm Josh Talbot then I must be Josh Talbot. Now if you want insist that I have to go by the name of Harry Potter while I am here, even though I never agreed to attend under that name, then I will contact my mother. I am fairly certain that she will begin making arrangements for me to return home, because I doubt she will want me to remain here if I am not allowed to go by my real name."
"Mr. Potter, are you truly denying your parents?" McGonagall couldn't believe what she was hearing. "How can you even think of doing that?"
"Professor McGonagall, I grew up as Joshua Talbot, not Harry Potter." Josh met her gaze calmly. "I will not deny my mother Megan Talbot, and I would like to think that my birth parents would be happy that I have someone I love and honour enough to keep the name she gave me."
Professor McGonagall sighed in frustration. Why couldn't the Minister have made an appointment? She was due in class in ten minutes, but she'd had to go to main doors to meet Fudge and his party after Dumbledore told her the wards detected their arrival.
She didn't know why he was coming but had a feeling it had to do with Potter. She would never think of that boy as Talbot. He was the son of James and Lily Potter! If only Dumbledore had listened to her back when he had left young Harry with the Dursley's. She knew they weren't the right sort of people to take care of young Potter. She should've argued harder against his decision. She could've raised the boy and insured he didn't wind up with an overly large ego. Now they were having to deal with the fallout because Dumbledore had been so sure the Dursleys would take care of the boy and hadn't.
No sooner had she finished that thought than the doors leading into the entry hall slammed open as Minister Fudge barrelled through them. Several others followed him in. McGonagall kept her face an expressionless mask as she recognized them as reporters, including Rita Skeeter.
"I want to speak to Dumbledore now." Fudge told the Deputy Headmistress before she had a chance to say a word.
"Minister," McGonagall greeted Fudge coolly. "He is waiting for you in his office. However the reporters will need to wait in the room off the Great Hall for you to return."
"That is not acceptable!" Fudge disagreed. "Dumbledore had been hiding the Potter boy long enough. He never even let the people of magical Britain had been found. The people have a right to see their hero."
"Well, Minister," McGonagall countered crisply, "the Headmaster instructed me to bring you and only you to his office and the reporters wouldn't be able to see Mr. Potter up there in any case, because he is currently in class and will be for at least another hour. So do you wish to accompany me to the Headmaster's office while they wait in the side room off the Great Hall or shall I leave you here and make my way to the class I am supposed to be teaching right now?"
The reporters held a silent conversation and then glanced at Fudge as his face reddened. As one they turned to head into the side room off the Great Hall. They knew one thing the Minister had apparently forgotten. It would soon be lunch time at Hogwarts and if they got things arranged right they could get pictures of the Boy-Who-Lived surrounded by his friends before they even knew the reporters were there and then they would be able to get the interview with young Potter that the Minister had promised them.
Fudge's face reddened further as the reporters shut the door behind them. "I must insist then that you have Mr. Potter brought to the Headmaster's office so that I can speak with him."
McGonagall turned and headed toward the stairs. "That will be for the Headmaster to decide."
Upon reaching the gargoyle that guarded the headmaster's office, McGonagall gave it the password and when it slid aside, told the Minister. "He is waiting for you."
Fudge put on his most determined expression as he headed up the stairs. He was not going to let Dumbledore control the conversation. He was Minister of Magic after all. He would just have to make sure to start off by going on the offensive.
He opened the door without knocking and said, "Why didn't you bother to tell the Ministry that the Potter boy had been found? Did you think we didn't have a right to know that he had been located?"
"Good morning, Cornelius," Dumbledore greeted the Minister, "and how are you this fine day?"
Fudge brushed aside the greeting. "Let's skip the pleasantries. I want to know why you never bothered to inform the Ministry that Harry Potter had been found and that he had in fact been here all the time under the name Joshua Talbot."
"Would you care for a lemon drop?" Dumbledore held out a bowl of the yellow coloured sweets.
"Dumbledore," Fudge growled.
"You can not make the claim that someone at the Ministry was not informed otherwise you would not be here asking about him." Dumbledore pointed out calmly as he wondered just how the information had gotten out. He has set the wards to redirect any mail that contained that information to the dead letter room for the time being. And he knew there were only six floo connections in the whole castle and none of them had been used to spread the news.
"I want to see the boy and I want to see him now." Fudge demanded. "We have a right to know where he's been and what he's been up to."
Dumbledore sighed. "I really don't think that would be a good idea, Cornelius. The young man in question will not yet admit that he is indeed Harry Potter. He refuses to answer to any name but the one he was raised with.... Talbot."
"I want to see him." Fudge insisted, certain he could make the boy understand how important he was to the wizarding world, and barring that he would figure out a way to get the boy to sign the Potter proxy over to him and get Dumbledore blamed by the reporters downstairs for that fact that their hero didn't even know who he was. Or how important he was to the people of magical Britain.
Josh stirred his potion but only half his attention was on it. Most of his attention was on the events of the past couple of weeks since it had been revealed he was really born Harry Potter. It had not been a pleasant two weeks though things were largely back to normal in the Ravenclaw common room and dorms. Only a few Ravenclaws like Edgecombe still refused to call him by his proper name. But outside the Ravenclaw common room it was a different story.
The students would point at him and whisper as they passed him in the halls. A number of them had called him Potter and when he hadn't responded to those calls at all had stalked away annoyed and had given up after a while. The only one who had proven truly persistent was a red-headed first year named Ron Weasley from Gryffindor continued to call him Potter and would get mad when he refused to answer to it, no matter how many times he told the boy his name was Talbot. The red head also seemed to take offence over the fact that the hero of the wizarding world had not been sorted into Gryffindor where he belonged.
Most of the teachers were also calling him by the correct name... now. It had taken him refusing to respond to the name Potter in several classes before they took the hint. Besides the Headmaster there were only two teachers who still refused to call him by his proper name: Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall. He had decided that whenever they called on Potter he wouldn't answer no matter what they said or threatened to do. It was his one way to get back at them without messing things up for his housemates, given they were going to be there next year and he had decided he was not going to return. He had to admit he loved to look of frustration on both teacher's faces when he just stared at them as if silently asking: Are you so stupid that you can't even remember my name?
"I see that being a celebrity, has if anything made your potion's skills deteriorate, Potter." Snape snarled as he stared down at a potion that was supposed to be pale blue by now, but was instead blue green. "And apparently being sorted into Ravenclaw didn't give you enough brains to know that the galangal root doesn't get added until after the ground dragonfly wings, even though it's written in the instructions."
Josh waited until Professor Snape finished his rant about his potion's making skill, before saying, "Professor, may I ask a question?"
"What?" Snape asked certain that whatever question the Potter brat wanted to ask wasn't even worth hearing.
"What changed between the end of October and now?" Josh wanted to know. "I am still the same person I was in October. According to you my potions making skill was adequate then and now just because I look different you are acting like I couldn't walk right without a set of instructions."
"Twenty points for your cheek, Potter." Snape snapped.
"My name is Talbot, sir. And if you check the school registry, you will not see the name Potter among the students attending Hogwarts." Josh met his gaze. "While I may have been born to the Potter's, I grew up a Talbot and I chose to keep that name even after I knew who my birth parents were."
"You are just as arrogant as your father was." Snape snapped.
"I wouldn't know that sir," Josh returned calmly. "I never knew the man. And I don't think it is arrogance to ask a teacher to judge me based on my performance in their class instead judging me based solely on who I happen to look like. And before you say anything sir, I would say the same thing if someone were trying to act like a fawning bootlicker because of who I look like. After all I have no control over how I look given the Headmaster will not allow me to put my glamour charm back on."
Before Snape could say a word in response there was a knock on the lab door.
"Enter." Snape barked.
Josh recognized the person who entered. It was Selena Alberts one of the Ravenclaw Prefects.
"What is it you need Alberts?" Snape asked.
"I'm sorry for interrupting your class, Professor Snape, but the Headmaster asked me to bring Mr. Talbot to his office." Alberts told the Potions Master.
"Very well," Snape sighed. "Potter, the Headmaster apparently wants to see you. I expect by your next class a 3 foot essay on why the ingredients in this potion have to be added in the right order and what happens when instructions are not followed."
Josh sighed and collected his things. Obviously the Headmaster intended to take another try at convincing him he should be Harry Potter. He had to give the man points for persistence, but that was all he would give him.
"See you at lunch, Talbot." Zabini hissed.
"If I make it," Josh agreed and walked out of the classroom without saying another word.
Josh followed the Ravenclaw prefect up to Dumbledore's office and listened as she gave it another type of candy as a password. He shook his head wondering what the man was thinking. Dumbledore was either very clever and trying to project an image of doddering old fool with a passion for sweet, or he really had no idea of how to set up a secure password.
"Headmaster," Alberts announced after opening the door. "Mr. Talbot is here."
"Young woman, we wanted to speak to Mr. Potter, not Mr. Talbot," an unfamiliar voice spoke up testily.
"Cornelius!" Josh recognised the Headmaster's voice. "Thank you, Miss Alberts."
Josh walked into the Headmaster's office, and was greeted with the sight of a portly little man wearing a set of pin-striped lime green robes and carrying a lime green bowler hat. Did the no one in the wizarding world have any taste in clothes?
"Minister," Dumbledore waved a hand in Josh's direction. "This is Mr. Harry Potter."
The Minister stepped toward the dark haired boy, holding out his hand. "Hello, Mr. Potter, I am Cornelius Fudge the Minister of Magic. It is a pleasure to meet you at last."
"My name is not Harry Potter." Josh didn't take the man's hand. "My name is Joshua Talbot."
While the smile remained on the politician's face, Josh could tell it had become somewhat forced as the man responded, "But that is not the name you were given when you were born."
"No, it was not," Josh agreed, "But it is my name and the only one I will answer to."
"Young man, I don't think you realise just how important Harry Potter is to magical Britain." Fudge began pompously. "The Potter name not even taking into account the fact that you are considered a hero to most of Magical Britain, would open many doors to a young man such as yourself later in life. How can you be so willing to give up your heritage so easily?"
Josh shook his head. "I really don't understand why everyone is saying I am giving up my heritage since I'm not. I know exactly who I am, where I came from, who raised me and where I belong. I somewhat doubt that my birth parents are going to rise up out of their graves and condemn me for choosing to keep my name as it is, especially since once they were dead, someone from the wizarding world or so I am told, chose to dump me on a doorstep on one of the coldest nights of the year, where I could've easily frozen to death before I was found the next morning."
"You were never in any danger of freezing to death, Mr. Potter." Dumbledore assured him. "The spell I placed on the blankets you were wrapped in would keep you warm until you were removed from them by your Aunt."
Dumbledore could read nothing from the silent, expressionless stare the boy gave him. It was almost as if to young Harry he was not even there.
"My dear boy are you saying your refusing the Potter name because of a simple misunderstanding," Fudge demanded, his words interrupting the staring match between Dumbledore and Josh.
"What misunderstanding?" Josh turned his attention back to the politician. "I have met the Dursleys, and given how they reacted to magic the one time I met them, I have no doubt that if I had grown up there it would've been hell on earth for me. The wizarding world seems to think this man possesses the wisdom of Merlin but he doesn't. I thank the Gods that his plans for me failed, given that no one in the wizarding world bothered to protest his placement of me with people who would've hated my very existence. Minister, if that is how you treat your heroes, I'll pass on being hailed as a hero by you. I have to wonder how you treat your villains, given what was intended to be my childhood. Are they treated as if they were members of the Royal family?"
"Now see here, young man," Fudge sputtered. "I am the Minister of Magic, you have no call to say such things to me!"
"I was not referring to you, personally, sir," Josh reminded him. "I was referring to magical Britain as a whole. And I am basing that on what I have seen and experienced so far. You are more than welcome to prove me wrong."
Liar! Deceiver! Josh heard Hogwarts hiss, but before he could ask what she was talking about, she went on ranting, How dare that vicious little muckraker sneak in here!
It had taken Rita about fifteen or twenty minutes to be able to get away from the rest of the press waiting in the visitor's room off the Great Hall. She wanted a scoop on the Boy-Who-Lived and by Merlin she was going to get it.
Once she was out of range of the Great Hall, Rita quickly transformed into her animagus form and headed for Dumbledore's office. She had no doubt that Fudge would be stubborn enough to get Potter brought there and she would be the first reporter to lay eyes on him.
It had taken a little time for her beetle animagus form to find a gap in the stones behind the stone gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office that was big enough to slip through. From there it was a short flight up the staircase and then under the door that led to the Headmaster's office
As soon as she cleared the silencing ward that was on the door, she heard a conversation in progress that made her realize she was going to have the scoop of the century.
She heard Fudge say in a demanding tone: "My dear boy are you saying your refusing the Potter name because of a simple misunderstanding,"
"What misunderstanding?" a young boy who just had to be Harry Potter countered. "I have met the Dursleys, and given how they reacted to magic the one time I met them, I have no doubt that if I had grown up there it would've been hell on earth for me. The wizarding world seems to think this man possesses the wisdom of Merlin but he doesn't. I thank the Gods that his plans for me failed, given that no one in the wizarding world bothered to protest his placement of me with people who would've hated my very existence. Minister, if that is how you treat your heroes, I'll pass on being hailed as a hero by you. I have to wonder how you treat your villains, given what was intended to be my childhood. Are they treated as if they were members of the Royal family?"
It was quite clear to Rita from just that little bit of conversation that the rumours she had heard were true. The Boy-Who-Lived was denying his heritage!
Then she saw Potter look around as if trying to find something. Was it possible that he had detected her entrance? She quickly discounted that idea. No eleven year old boy should be able to detect an animagi. However to be on the safe side she flew low to the ground over to Fudge and climbed up onto his robes because the colour of her carapace would blend in to his robes.
Her decision to hide on the Minister's robes was quickly proven to be a wise idea though as Potter asked. "Is there a way a witch or wizard could have entered this office without us knowing?"
"I doubt it," Dumbledore told him. "The wards on this office are set to not allow anyone in without my permission and they would have told me if someone had come in either with you or Minister Fudge."
"Well someone is in here with us, according to Hogwarts and they must be using some form of magic your wards aren't set to detect." Josh told him as he used his air elemental ability to send out slight tendrils of air trying to see if it would encounter something he couldn't see.
"Oh come now, Mr. Potter, Hogwarts told you there was someone in here with us." Fudge sounded patronising. "How could Hogwarts tell you anything? You are not the holder of the wards, Dumbledore is."
"That is where you are wrong, Minister." An elderly wizard dressed in robes that had been fashionable in the thirteenth century disagreed. "The Headmaster before me who had been one of Rowena Ravenclaw's last apprentices, told me that he and Hogwarts often had conversations about things that were going on in the castle. Headmaster Michelange said it was a pity he had not been allowed to teach me the old magick that would've allowed me to do it as well. He often said Hogwarts had a lot of wisdom to pass on."
"That's impossible," Fudge sputtered. "There is no way that Mr. Potter could've learned the type of magic the Founders taught. There is no one in the wizarding world who could teach him. So he is lying, there is no way he could've heard Hogwarts speak."
"I am not in the habit of telling lies, Mr. Fudge." Josh told him coldly. "And while there may not be anyone in the wizarding who could teach me the old magicks, there are lots of people outside your enclaves who can use it: my mother and her friends for example. And there is someone in here with us."
"You are just fooling yourself, Mr. Potter. There is no way that muggles could practice the kind of magic done by the founders." Fudge told him pompously.
Josh shrugged, "Believe what you want, Mr. Fudge, but there is someone else in here with us and Hogwarts told me they were. Hogwarts, where is this person?"
She is shapeshifter. In the magical world she is what is referred to as an animagus and she is currently hiding on Minister Fudge's robes, Hogwarts told Josh.
"So the form she is in is small," Josh sounded thoughtful.
Rita began to get worried. She had thought this would be an easy scoop to get, information that wouldn't be released in the prepared question and answer session Fudge had promised them, but given that the Potter boy was looking at Fudge's robes as if he knew she was there, so she had to get out of here. Her success as a reporter depended on her animagus abilities and she couldn't take the risk that the boy would get lucky and find her. She hadn't registered her form and given that she had used it to get dirt on people who would much rather not have had their skeletons exposed, including some very highly placed pure-bloods she had no doubt that instead of a fine the people she had written about once her secret was out would insist that she spend time in Azkaban and she knew she would have no job once she got out.
She started to move down Fudge's robes to the ground as Potter said, "Unwelcome intruder in this place, appear in this space," he pointed to spot in front of Fudge, "wearing your true face."
A moment later Rita felt flames of agony running through her beetle body as her body suddenly started growing and shifting like a boneless, oozing, gelatinous mass. Then there was another surge of pain as the bones that had vanished a few moments before were returned to it. The body that hit the floor with a thud between the Minister and Josh was that of a woman with blond hair.
Fudge just stared at the woman he recognized a Rita Skeeter a reporter for the Daily Prophet and she was supposed to be downstairs with the other reporters. "Miss Skeeter, how did you get in here? I left you down stairs with the other reporters"
Josh told him. "According to Hogwarts she is a shapeshifter."
"You mean an animagus, Harry." Dumbledore corrected the term he used. "And if I remember the registry correctly she is not registered either."
"That's against the law." Fudge stated pompously. "I will need to summon an auror to take her into custody. May I borrow your fire for a moment Dumbledore?"
"Why are you here, Miss Skeeter?" Josh stared hard at the woman. "According to what Mr. Fudge just said, you are most likely a reporter. And since you are a shapeshifter and Hogwarts called you muckraker, I am willing to bet you were hoping to get some dirt on me to use. Would I be correct?"
Rita glared at the boy who with a few words and no wand had managed to reveal the fact that she was an animagus and wisely said nothing that would get her into deeper trouble.
The reporters waiting in the Visitors Room off the Great Hall went silent as the door opened and three people walked in. As soon as they caught sight of the dark haired boy, the cameras started going off and reporters started shouting questions.
"Mr. Potter, where have you been?"
"Mr. Potter, who raised you when you went missing from your relatives home?"
"Mr. Potter, can you tell us how accurate the stories are about how you killed the Dark Lord and now that you are back in the wizarding world are you worried that some of his former followers who escaped justice may come after you?"
Josh walked over and sat down in a chair near the door that led into the Great Hall. He just wanted this dog and pony show over with. He was not about to talk with any of these people since they wanted to speak to Harry Potter not Josh Talbot.
The reporters continued to shout questions at him growing more frustrated as he refused to say a word.
After trying to get the attention of the reporters and failing, Dumbledore finally shot off some fireworks from the tip of his wand to get their attention. "Ladies and gentlemen, I will be reading a statement prepared by Mr. Potter for you, but he will not be answering any questions. He is doing this out of a desire to protect those who raised him in the muggle world and to insure their safety. I'm sure you can understand his desire to protect his family and friends there from possible Death Eater attacks."
There were a lot of voices raised in loud protest as the reported complained bitterly about Dumbledore taking control of this first chance they had to speak to The-Boy-Who-Lived. The Minister had promised unrestricted access and now it looked like the Headmaster was going to block it.
A few of the smarter ones under the cover of the protesting voices tried to ask Potter questions that had nothing to do with where he'd been raised, but the boy just stared at the far wall, ignoring all attempts to speak with him.
At breakfast a few weeks after Josh's rather tiring meeting with the Minister of Magic, he was listening as several of the older year students were chattering excitedly about something in the wizarding press. At least they weren't talking about what the press had written about him any more and he didn't have to listen to people like Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy call him a disgrace to the magical world every time a new article about him came out.
Weasley, like the majority of the students at Hogwarts, couldn't understand why he had hidden in the first place. The read headed Gryffindor was just a lot more vocal about it. The only two who seemed to understand why he hadn't wanted to be gawked at were Neville and Blaise. The red head also couldn't understand why he refused to bask in or take advantage of the fact that he was a hero. Malfoy had simply called him a disgrace for refusing to take him birth family's name, saying this was why muggleborn and muggle raised didn't belong at Hogwarts. They couldn't understand things like tradition. Josh had simply countered that by saying he understood tradition very well and that in keeping the name he had he was honouring a three hundred year old tradition of practicing the Craft.
Finally giving into his curiosity about what that finally taken their attention away from the Boy-Who-Lived articles, Josh asked, "What's so exciting in the paper? Has Merlin been spotted or something?"
Fifth year prefect Penelope Clearwater told him. "We are just talking about a rather surprising bit of news. It seems that Sirius Black the man who is believed to be the one to betray your parents to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is to receive a trial. Apparently he never got one ten years ago before they sent him to Azkaban."
"You mean your legal system sent a guy to jail without even bothering to find out if he was guilty first?" While Josh already knew that, he thought it might arouse suspicions if he didn't ask why that hadn't been done in the first place. "I wonder if that's what they are going to do to that Skeeter woman who it turns out is an unregistered animagus that tried to spy on my meeting with the Minister a few days ago. Doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence in the magical British legal system if a person is forced to spend ten years in jail before they receive the courtesy of a trial."
"Josh, you have to understand, things were very chaotic when the Dark Lord disappeared." Penelope tried to defend what happened. "The Wizengamot had a lot of people who were thought to be Death Eaters to try and some times things happen and people slip through the cracks."
"That isn't a slip through the cracks, Miss Clearwater, it's a drop straight into hell." Josh disagreed. "Because everyone was in a hurry to try and make it seem as if justice were done, a possibly innocent man has spent ten years in jail. And on the flip side of the coin, I wonder how many who really were guilty got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, because they had enough money to buy their way out of jail or found someone gullible enough to believe their sob story"
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
I apologize for the delay in updating but the bunnies kept fighting amongst themselves and it took some time before Wiccan Wizard came out the winner
Every Dog Has His Day
To say that Sirius Black was surprised when something other than Dementors showed up in front of his cell would be a bit of an understatement. The only time he ever saw a human being was when the Warden, one of the prison guards checking to see if someone had died, or a Ministry flunky doing the yearly inspection who felt brave enough to try and rub it in that he was going to be here for the rest of his life for his betrayal of the Potters.
The oldest Auror pointed his wand at Sirius and ordered him to come with them.
"Where are you taking me?" Black wanted to know. "Did the Ministry finally decide to get rid of its mistake so that no one can ever find out what they did?"
Black’s raspy voice startled the Aurors and almost made a couple of the younger ones drop their wands. Even though the warden had warned them that Black seemed to be mostly alert and appeared to be aware of his surroundings, the Aurors had taken that to mean that he was more responsive to commands.
The Potter’s betrayer had spent the last ten years in Azkaban’s high security wing with the Dementors! He should not be capable of rational speech!
Kiteridge, the senior Auror on the team recovered from his shock first and told him. "We have been ordered to transfer you to a high security cell at the Ministry."
"Why?" Sirius was instantly suspicious.
If they were planning on eliminating him, they could do it far more efficiently by having the Dementors Kiss him. It would insure that wizarding Britain would never know that the Ministry had condemned an innocent man to Azkaban for the crimes of another. It would also have the side effect of leaving the actual criminal free to betray his godson again.
"You are to be held there pending your retrial." Kiteridge told him. Personally he did not see why the Ministry was wasting the time or effort on a retrial. So what if they couldn’t find the original trial records, everybody knew that Black had betrayed the Potters to his He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He was the reason the Boy-Who-Lived was an orphan. There were even tales told of how he had laughed like a madman when they had arrested him after he had killed Pettigrew.
Black was silent for a few moments before hoarsely barking out, "Retrial?" Black shook his head. "A retrial is for people who have had a trial." Black got to his feet and thumped his chest. "I never did."
While the man who was considered one of the most dangerous wizard next to his former master did not move toward the front of the cell, he did make the Aurors nervous as he paced back and forth between his cot and the corner.
"What is today’s date?" Black suddenly demanded.
One of the junior Aurors told him then backed up quickly to the outside wall as a hysterical barking laughter came out of Black’s cell.
"It took over ten years for those dolts at the Ministry to realize I never had a trial!" Black bellowed making a few more of the Auror team back up and take a firmer grip on their wands.
"Black, another outburst like that and we will stun you and drag you out of here." The tone of Kiteridge’s voice made it very clear that was the way he wanted to do this. "Your choice, Black, leave on your own two feet or on your arse."
Sirius could tell he meant it so he quickly got himself under control and shambled toward the doorway of his cell as Kiteridge opened it. He was not about to let them have the satisfaction of humiliating him.
As Sirius stepped into the corridor and was surrounded by the waiting Aurors, he could not help wondering who had managed to blackmail the Ministry into giving him a trial. He had been convinced he was going to die in Azkaban, since he had no idea where Wormtail was hiding.
One thing was for sure, Sirius told himself, Once I am free, that sewer rat is going to die the most painful and longest lasting death I can come up with.
Outside as the portkey took them away from Azkaban, Sirius briefly wondered if Moony would like to help in the hunt.
As the same group of Aurors who had removed him from Azkaban escorted Sirius into Courtroom #10, he could hear what sounded like voices coming through the open doorway. He stopped for a moment surprised, before being shoved from behind by Kiteridge. He glared at the Auror for a moment, before going through the open door.
While the crowd in the courtroom was not very large, there were enough people there to make him wonder if someone on the Wizengamot had lost their mind. Sirius recognised two of the people as reporters. One worked for the Daily Prophet and the other was from the Wizarding Wireless Network, which meant once he was proven innocent would mean that the Wizengamot would soon have mud all over their faces. The citizen’s of magical Britain would know that an innocent man had been sent to Azkaban without even the courtesy of a sham trial and he had no doubt that they would soon be wondering if the judicial arm of the British magical government would do the same to them.
Of course, Sirius reflected cynically, it is also possible that the Wizengamot has figured out a way to rig things so that I look like the next Dark Lord, which will have people screaming for me to receive the Kiss, before I can take Voldemort’s place. Given that he had not been given the opportunity to speak to a defender that possibility was looking more and more likely which meant the people were there to see justice done, since I apparently will have to defend myself.
A moment later Sirius received his biggest surprise of the day. A stocky little man with wiry hair walked up to him, with his hand extended and the Aurors surrounding him, made no move to stop the man’s approach.
When Sirius made no move to take his hand the little man withdrew his and then introduced himself. "Lord Black, I am Waldo Copperfield. I have been retained by the acting Head of House Black to act as your defender."
"My mother hired you to defend me?" Sirius barely managed to smother a snort of laughter at the thought that she would do anything to help him. She was far more likely fire the Killing curse at him than help him.
"No," Copperfield shook his head. "Your mother Walburga Black died about nine years ago. Gringotts retained my services at the request of the regent for your named heir who is currently the acting Head of House Black. Were you not told any of this by the DMLE representative after you were transferred here from Azkaban?"
It took Sirius’ mind a few moments to backtrack from the realization of who the acting Head of House Black had to be and wondering who his regent was so that he could focus on his solicitor’s question and give him a you have to be kidding look.
"I see," Copperfield nodded as he led the way to a small table set off to one side. "Should I also assume that they did not give you the required health check-up?"
"They did not." Sirius confirmed.
As the members of the Wizengamot took their places, Copperfield told him. "I will make a note of it and will deal with that issue later."
"Please be seated, we are ready to begin." Chief Warlock Dumbledore requested of those in the courtroom.
Once everyone was seated and waiting expectantly for the trial to begin and Black’s guilt to be proven beyond doubt, the wiry haired little man seated next to Black stood up and spoke. "I challenge the right of one member of the Wizengamot to sit in judgement of my client for failing to uphold their magical oath in regards to Lord Black."
Those familiar with the normal proceedings of the Wizengamot murmured in surprise. There had not been a challenge issued in over a century. The last time a challenge had been called on a member of the Wizengamot it had been because of an ancient blood feud between the Wizengamot member and the person on trial. That had resulted in an impartial proxy having to be chosen to cast the vote for that member’s seat.
"State your challenge and let it be judged for validity." Dumbledore followed the required formula for a challenge.
"I challenge Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore’s right to oversee this case, in any and all areas including the right to question witnesses and his right to render any judgement using the proxies he currently holds. The first part of the challenge is due to his failure to insure that Lord Black received a trial, before being sent to Azkaban. The second part is due to the fact that the seats you are currently voting as proxy for belong to the Houses of Potter and Black and are my client’s responsibility, given he was never convicted of any crime"
"While I do concede the point with regards to the seats, that I have been voting as proxy for," Dumbledore chose his words with care. "I did not oversee every trial after Voldemort’s disappearance."
"Whether you oversaw the trial or not is not the basis of the first part of the challenge." Copperfield countered as Sirius sat there and watched his defender work. "By law and the oath you swore when you assumed the office of Chief Warlock, long before Lord Black’s incarceration, it is the responsibility of the Chief Warlock’s Office to insure any and all criminals receive a trial, even if it is not one you sit in judgement on. According to what few DMLE records there are …Lord Black was arrested the morning after Lord and Lady Potter’s deaths and shipped out to Azkaban that evening. There was no meeting of the Wizengamot prior to his being sent there… not even a closed session. By the magical laws of Britain, you cannot now render judgement or even act as interrogator, given how you failed in one of your main duties as Chief Warlock. "
"I do not believe anyone in my office would do such a reprehensible thing such as deny a man a fair trial." Dumbledore hedged. "My staff here at the Ministry knows how much I value justice and expect them to do the right thing, but since there are no records to back up my certainty, I must excuse myself from this hearing. Lady Longbottom, since you are the longest serving member of the Wizengamot, would assume my duties for this trial?"
"Of course, Chief Warlock," Lady Augusta Longbottom, rose from the seat she held as regent for her grandson, Neville and moved to where Dumbledore was standing to assume the position of Chief Witch for this hearing.
Since the Dumbledore family had no seat of its own on the Wizengamot, he had to join those watching the trial from the gallery. As he took a seat on the end of the aisle, Dumbledore presented a calm, unruffled demeanour to those watching to see how he was going to take this attack on his integrity, while inwardly he was seething with frustration. Ever since he had discovered that Joshua Talbot was Harry Potter, everything Dumbledore had tried to do seemed to be determined not to work the way he wanted or intended. The destiny that he has planned for the boy was being met by more and more roadblocks, many of which the boy was creating by refusing to allow himself to be guided by Dumbledore to his destiny. And today was just the capper of a very frustrating month.
Dumbledore was fairly certain that he knew where to place the blame for the boy’s stubborn refusal to listen to older and wiser heads. It was because of the Dursleys that Potter was not as mouldable as Dumbledore needed him to be. If the Dursleys had just kept and raised the boy the way he had intended then he would have had someone he could shape into the self-sacrificing saviour he needed Potter to be. Instead because of their refusal to co-operate with his plans for the Greater Good of all, Potter had been raised by a strange witch who refused to acknowledge Dumbledore’s superiority and had somehow managed to pass that stubbornness on to the boy.
He had given in on leading Black’s trial partly because he was not about to admit that he had known Black had been sent to Azkaban without a trial. And lying about that or even admitting the truth would cost him his magic and he would need that if he were to guide Potter and others when Voldemort returned as he knew he would. He knew Voldemort was not dead, because the Dark mark on Severus’ arm, while barely noticeable, still held traces of Voldemort’s magic, as did the lightning bolt scar on Potters forehead. If Voldemort had truly been dead then the energy signature in the Dark mark and Potter’s scar would have faded away.
The other reason Dumbledore had given in on leading the trial was because he was hoping that if Black were indeed innocent and he still had some control over the man, that he could get him to apply in the magical courts for custody of Potter. He needed to get Potter away from the Talbot witch and Black was going to be his best chance to make that happen. Unless overridden by a will or for some other very pressing and provable reason such as the chosen guardian was going to be a danger to the minor, by magical law going back centuries, if there were no close magical blood kin for an orphan to be placed with and they had godparents, then they were placed with one or the other of their godparents. If Black could be persuaded to apply for custody, then they could get Potter away from the Talbot witch, which would ensure Dumbledore a much better chance of having Potter raised the way he needed to be if he was to fulfil his destiny.
Dumbledore watched the trial intently to see if there might be anything he could use to keep or regain control of Black if he had lost it. The comments from those around him were very telling. They were surprised when it came out that Sirius Black had not been the secret keeper, that it had been Peter Pettigrew the man who had been given the Order of Merlin for daring to stand up to Black and many thought dying in the attempt to capture him. A more surprising bit of news came out that shocked even Dumbledore. Black, Pettigrew, and Potter had all been animagi? How had that escaped his notice? Further revelations came out that Pettigrew’s form was a rat and since all they had found of his human form was one finger the DMLE would need to try and trace a long-lived rat with a missing toe. That was going to be an interesting and most likely fruitless man or should he say rat hunt.
Finally the trial was over and Black was advised that he would be receiving notification about the compensation he would get for his unlawful imprisonment and the session was adjourned. That was Dumbledore’s signal to try and get to Black and speak with him.
As he headed over to where Black and his solicitor standing, Dumbledore noticed that a dark-haired woman dressed in muggle clothes and wearing a cloak over them walking up to the pair then he overheard her say, "Mr. Copperfield, an excellent job. I must remember to thank the goblins for recommending you."
Black’s solicitor bowed slightly as he said, "Thank you, madam but the case was relatively cut and dried once we got them to actually listen to it."
"Lord Black, I believe this belongs to you." The woman held out a small silk bag. "My son asked me to return this to you. He has been keeping it for you, since our visit to Gringotts a few months ago, when they advised us that he was your heir. I have been acting as his regent and yours since we found out that he was not allowed to by magical law until he came of age."
Opening the small silk bag, Sirius stared in surprise at the ring within. Pulling it out he connected what the woman had just told him with what Copperfield had told him earlier. "The Black family ring. Never thought I would see this again, especially after being thrown into that place."
Placing the ring on his finger, Sirius looked at the woman. She did not look like anyone he had known at school, but her face looked vaguely familiar. "Since you have this ring, I must assume that you are taking care of my heir?"
The dark haired woman nodded her head. "Your heir is a very interesting and talented young man and he is looking forward to meeting you."
Sirius started to smile and then saw Dumbledore standing behind the woman studying them intently and his smile vanished. He was determined to keep Dumbledore guessing about who his heir was, because he could tell from the look in his eyes Dumbledore really wanted to know. "Good. Good. I want to see him as soon as possible. He is about the only thing that has been keeping me going while in that place. "
Sirius had a child! That was surprising news to Dumbledore. He had not known that Sirius was seeing anyone prior to his arrest, but then again Black went through women almost as quickly as Dumbledore went through lemon drops so his list of conquests was the stuff of legend. There was also the fact that when Walburga Black got going she could put both Molly Weasley and a Banshee to shame. That combined with the fact that Walburga Black was a blood purist to the nth degree would have insured that Sirius would have been very careful not to give her a target to vent her ire on. And he would have been even more determined to insure that his mother never found the woman, let alone plotted to kill her and his child for bringing shame on the House of Black because his heir would not be from a long line of purebloods. Dumbledore couldn’t help wondering if more witches might not start coming out of the woodwork now that it had been proven that Black had not betrayed the Potter’s and name him the father of their child if they could prove it.
Dumbledore was also somewhat surprised by both the dark haired woman’s and Sirius’ formality. Surely a former girlfriend and the mother of his child would be a lot less formal, unless Sirius had not known about the child. That was not possible though because he had heard Sirius say that it was thoughts of his heir that had kept him going, so he had to have known and just kept quiet about it.
Had Sirius been involved with this particular muggleborn witch which around the time of James and Lily Potter’s death. If so, it would make sense then that no one would know about Black’s child, other than him. He would have protected his heir with everything he had in him. Even though Sirius Black would have been considered the black sheep of the family, he was still a Black and family came first to them. Dumbledore could not help wondering if this witch had retreated to the muggle world after the death of the Potter’s and Voldemort’s defeat by young Harry or had Sirius arranged her disappearance.
Dumbledore was willing to bet that this unknown and clearly muggleborn witch had retreated to the muggle world to hide and to try and protect her child in a world she knew well and the magical community did not. He was also willing to bet that even though her face and voice were not that familiar to him she had been in Hufflepuff when she had attended Hogwarts. Dumbledore had to ruefully admit to himself that unless they worked at the Ministry and he came in contact with them frequently he rarely remembered any of the Hufflepuffs who had attended Hogwarts. They tended to blend into the background so well.
It made Dumbledore wonder how old the child was and why neither of them were using the boy’s name, given he must have been born about a year after the Dark Lord’s defeat. He also could not help wondering when she had risked bringing her son into Diagon Alley to claim the Heirship from Gringotts, given that would have been the only place they could have gone to in order to stake a claim on the Head of House ring for the House of Black. Gringotts by treaty held the family rings for those families without an immediate line of succession until there was a provable heir via an inheritance test.
Sirius’ next question though baffled Dumbledore: “I realise this is going to sound like a silly question, but have we met before? You seem familiar to me, but I can not place where we could have met.”
“Do not worry about that right now, I will explain who I am and how I wound up with custody of your Heir later.” She promised him.
“I take it you and he are responsible for me finally getting my trial?” Sirius decided to keep ignoring the Headmaster. He could tell it was annoying the old man no end.
The woman nodded her head. "When we were informed by the Goblins that you had never had a trial we did we did whatever we could to get you your long overdue trial.”
"Thank you. I am in your debt as well as my heir's," Sirius told her seriously and gave her a formal bow.
“There is no debt,” the woman told him. “You are family, though I should tell you that if you turn out later to be a closet axe murderer, you will be dealt with.”
Sirius smiled at that, but before he could make any comment, Dumbledore decided to interrupt. “Excuse me Sirius, I know you and this young lady have a lot of catching up to do, but I need to speak to you regarding your Godson. If you will excuse us for a few minutes, Miss…”
Hazel eyes set into an oval face looked up at Dumbledore with silent indifference as to what he wanted. In addition she failed to tell him her name and also made no move to leave him alone with Sirius as he had requested.
“Has something happened to Harry at Hogwarts?” Sirius knew he had to play the ignorance card, even though he knew this woman had custody of Harry. It was fairly obvious from Dumbledore’s lack of recognition and his comments that he thought the woman was the mother of his child, though Sirius had been very careful never to get any witch pregnant. He had no real desire to subject any witch to his mother. “If not then I will speak with his Magical guardian first, and once I get my living arrangements sorted out I will pay him a visit at Hogwarts. Who currently has custody of him? I know that some of the people that Lily and James named in their wills as their alternate choices were killed before I went to Azkaban. A few others were unable to due to extenuating circumstances, like the Longbottoms and Remus. Bella was very vocal in Azkaban about what she had done to the Longbottoms.”
“Unfortunately it was decided that none of the people listed in the will were suitable to act as Harry's guardian, given the chaos after the Dark Lord’s defeat. There was a great deal of concern that those who supported the Dark Lord would be able to find and harm Harry if he remained in the magical world. It was decided that he would be safer growing up in the muggle world away from the chaos and adulation of being the-boy-who-lived. A muggle family that was aware of magic because they had had a child go to Hogwarts was chosen to raise him.” Dumbledore left off mentioning the name of the family he had left the boy with since he knew how Black felt about Lily’s sister. He also avoided mentioning that he had been the one to decide who was a suitable guardian for Harry Potter.
“And just exactly who was it that decided to ignore the Potter’s Will?” Sirius growled. “And were the others listed on their will even consulted? Because I know that at least two of them were muggle-born who would have gladly moved back to the muggle world to protect Harry.”
“I am afraid the decision was made very quickly and only a small group from the Ministry was involved in the decision and it was decided it would be best that no one else be consulted. We were trying to protect the boy from any potential Deatheater attacks.” Dumbledore hedged. After all one is indeed a small group.
“So you know the name of the family he was placed with. I want the name of the family, Dumbledore.” Sirius’ face was an expressionless mask.
“I really do not think that would be a good idea, Sirius,” Dumbledore continued hedging. “He is very happy with his adoptive family, there is no reason to disrupt his life.”
“I am his godfather and by magical law I have the right to know.” Sirius countered firmly.
Dumbledore glanced around as checking to see if anyone was listening in. “I really do not think this is the place to discuss this, I mean others might listen in.”
“Then put up a silencing charm.” Sirius ordered. “I want to know who is taking care of my godson. I want to speak with them to find out what he is like. I want to make arrangements to be part of his life…”
“Sirius, we should discuss this somewhere else.” Dumbledore tried again.
“Unless you are willing to answer my questions about my godson, we have nothing to talk about.” Sirius countered.
“Sirius, we really need to talk… privately.” Dumbledore persisted.
Sirius decided he was tired of his former Headmaster’s refusal to answer his questions. “Mr. Copperfield, do you take on cases outside of Gringotts?”
“I do not work for Gringotts, directly,” Waldo told him. “I take referrals from them as I did your case today. Did you wish to hire my services as a solicitor?”
“Yes,” Sirius looked directly at the headmaster. “I wish to hire you to find out who ignored my godson’s parents’ will and who placed him with the family he was placed with and their name. Good day Dumbledore.”
“Sirius!” Dumbledore could not believe the man was refusing to speak with him.
“Dumbledore, when you are ready to answer my questions fully and truthfully send me an owl.” Sirius held out his arm to the dark haired woman whose name Dumbledore still did not know. She took it and they strode from the courtroom with his solicitor following close behind, leaving a stunned Dumbledore standing there.
Sirius woke to the smell of food cooking. Stretching he revelled in the fact that he was warm and comfortable and that for the first time in over ten years he had been able to get a full night’s sleep without the presence of Dementors waking him in terror.
The smell of the food was getting stronger and his stomach was growling letting him know it wanted to be fed. Sirius couldn’t help wondering what Megan was cooking for breakfast, not to mention when it would be ready given she seemed to prefer doing things the muggle way. He had no doubt though that it would be as good as the meal she had served him last night when she had brought him to her home.
His first day of freedom had certainly been interesting. Upon departing the Ministry of Magic he had been brought to a home that looked like a small wizarding cottage, but turned out to be a muggle home. And then he had been even more surprised to learn that the witch who had been taking care of his godson seemed to prefer living as a muggle even though she could clearly use magic. While she had not done much magic the night before, what little he had seen had been wandless. As everyone in the wizard world knew a witch or wizard had to be powerful to be able to use wandless magic, which meant she was a very powerful witch, maybe even more powerful than Dumbledore given he had not seen her use a wand yet.
Of course Sirius could not understand why anyone would prefer to do things the muggle way, especially when they had the ability to do things with magic. While there was no doubt Sirius was grateful that she had been there for his godson when the Dursleys had abandoned him but doing things the Muggle ways instead of using magic was… it was just… odd.
As for the Dursleys abandoning Harry... that was something Sirius was going to be discussing with Dumbledore at a later date and in greater detail. He knew what was the in the Potter’s will and he knew they had not intended for Harry to be raised by the Dursleys. Why that wily old man had thought leaving a baby on a doorstep was a good idea was one of many things Sirius was going to get answers for.
But for now Sirius needed to rest and regain his strength. He had to admit that Megan was right about one thing; he needed to recover before meeting his godson for the first time since that dreadful night. If Harry could see him right now he might run in the opposite direction to escape from someone who he had no doubt looked like an Inferi.
Sirius climbed out of the guestroom bed and put on the muggle clothes that Megan had taken him to get yesterday on the way to her home. She had told the salesperson in the store that he had been attacked and had only just gotten out of hospital with nothing to his name but the clothes he was wearing. The store clerk had been very helpful in getting him set up with several different outfits. Sirius made a mental note to visit Diagon Alley as soon as he could and go to Gringotts to get some money to pay her back for the clothing and also to get himself some proper wizard clothes at Madame Malkins.
Sirius followed his nose into the kitchen and stopped in the doorway shocked. Standing at the stove was a woman though not the brunet he had been expecting. The woman had red hair that was hanging a little below her shoulders, but she was not Molly Weasley. Having had six children at time he had been sent to Azkaban had insured Molly was rather plump and for all he knew in the last ten years she might have had several more. As the woman’s head turned slightly showing him the profile he realised it was a familiar one that he had not seen in ten years. In fact the last time he had seen it was in Godric’s Hollow on October 31st.
“Lily!” He gasped.