Chapter 9 : The Gift of Merlin
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The Gift of Merlin.
Archbishop Hrothweard was seething with anger, there was still no sign of the Fryd gathering at the city wall, not a single man had arrived, none of the Lords with their Huscarls and sworn men had set up camp in the fields of Tang, or the other lands between city and forest. He knew the Kings messengers had set out heading north three weeks ago, presumably carrying the summons, since then nothing. Not one soul had arrived, at least until a few days ago. His own men from the militia, paid for by the church, patrolling the city wall alongside the king’s men, had reported two riders arriving and going straight to the Palace, they had been identified as two of the Kings sworn men. Since then not a word had come from Styr, every ship captain that arrived in the city had gone straight to the palace, as was expected of them, to pay their dues to trade with the citizens, bringing news from the lands they had visited. Some had been Christians and visited the cathedral, passing news to his clergy, those reported on the Kings interests. He had been particularly interested in news from the south. Hrothweard suspected that the King now knew the Welsh were peaceful, contrary to what he had told the King in order to have the Fryd raised. If his counterpart in Cantwaraburh's ruse failed, then the churches plan to keep Northumbria weaker than Wessex would be delayed, Alfred's ideal would be once again delayed, and he would have failed his counterpart and the King of Wessex. Although he was Archbishop of Northumbria the Church barely tolerated a King here, its first loyalty was to Wessex, the original Christian Kingdom. The Kingdoms of East Anglia and Mercia had capitulated to that King, Mercia in Alfred's day, bringing the church much wealth, some of which supplemented the amount Northumbria paid to maintain churches and build the shrine to Cuthbert being constructed within the fortifications of Dunholm. Failure to keep the King and Fryd of Northumbria distracted and demoralised, with pointless missions, would be seen as betrayal of the church, his failure, his betrayal, the consequences would not be pleasant.
Unlike the Archbishop of Cantwaraburh, Hrothweard was Archbishop of divided lands, not all were Christians, even here in the City. He reckoned about a third of Northumbrians were true Christians who paid their tithe in full to the church, another third were Pagan or Norse, though since Styr's coup they were leaderless without their Lords. The rest proclaimed the faith which they believed would keep them safe at the time. The Lands under Wessex were Christian, the fact Northumbria wasn't entirely, was seen in the south as his failure and only the fact that Jorvik was so important to trade ensured his post here. His position was bolstered by Styr's enthusiastic capture, torture and execution of Satan's children, Witches and Wizards, even so he was hardly secure in the eyes of the church, if he lost control of the King, he would lose his power in the church.
The silence from the King had been intolerable, the man had to be shown he had to obey a request from Wessex. Hrothweard had just returned from the Palace and a most unsatisfactory meeting with Styr. The King had claimed no knowledge of why the Fryd had not yet arrived, no matter how furious the Archbishop had got, no matter what demands he made of the man he had put into power, the man had hardly reacted. Once the clergyman's anger had run its course, Styr had calmly agreed that he too was concerned at the lack of response, he claimed not to have yet received word from his men, then suggesting that two more messengers be sent North to find out what had happened to the first two, and assist with raising men. Hrothweard knew this was a public show of doing precisely what was required of him, what he was not sure of, was if it was genuine or did the King know more than he was revealing. He had returned to his own palace, furious at the politeness of Styr in the face of his own righteous anger, not knowing any more than he had before he went.
The King watched the two horsemen gallop from the city, Thorfin, his son, at his side, a small smile on his lips. His meeting with the Archbishop had gone well. He smiled at the obvious panic in the man's fury, now knowing for certain he was being set up by the church. His spies had confirmed that the peace with the Welsh held, at least for now, the summons the churchman had delivered was a ruse. The Northumbrian Fryd was not needed in the south, so why did the church want them there? He had discussed this very question with his spies, Thorfin attending that meeting, he was after all the future King. Only one answer had made sense to them all. The Church wanted Northumbria weak, probably to make it easy for Wessex to take over, unite most of England under its King. They knew this couldn't happen soon; even Wessex would not invade whilst there was a King and line of succession in place, no, that wasn't their way. Wessex moved in to fill a void; that was how they had gained Mercia in Alfred's day, the King of that land had died without an heir, and a local Lord had married Alfred's daughter in a political marriage. He was next obvious ruler of Mercia, but could not take the title King without his father-in-laws permission, Alfred would not allow it. Instead, he placed his son-in-law as his representative in Mercia to rule on his behalf. No war was fought over the Kingdom of Mercia, no blood was spilt, but it was conquered all the same and its people didn't notice. East Anglia had fallen in a similar way, through agreement with a Viking who had driven Alfred to cower in a marsh before he could raise an army to retake Wessex from the Norse. The peace treaty had seen the Viking warrior baptised, and given East Anglia to rule, with Alfred's help of course. This was how the Christian Kings of Wessex conquered others, with the blessing of their clergy, fighting to defend not take, they took by stealth, in ways most would not notice were happening.
Knowing this, and knowing how to prevent it however, were two different things. He had to be seen to be complying with the Archbishop, or he would lose the support of the Christians, yet he could not allow the church to give Northumbria to Wessex. He needed time: time to lay preparations, to protect his Kingdom, to gain him the power to control the enemy within. For that he needed his Magic, not to control the Archbishop, which he could do, but those around him might notice the change. Besides, he needed to find out how many in the church were working to enslave Northumbria before revealing his true nature. No, he needed help from his own kind, though not Salazar. His teacher would not help with this, he wanted nothing to do with Muggles, didn't see that power over them was preferable to simply ignoring their existence. Nor could he send his son to be trained at the school, his absence would be noted and give the church the opportunity to get rid of him. With no heir present, Wessex would rule here, his son would lose everything; the church had helped him do the same to his brother after all. Besides, with that runt Utred there, the school was not safe. He could not call on the magical community he knew must exist in Northumbria despite his betrayal of those he found. That treachery was well known by all, even if they did not know it was treachery, so none would help him outside his own household. He was left with only one option.
He placed a hand on the boy's shoulder as the horsemen disappeared into the forest, riding hard. Thorfin looked up at his father.
“Come, my son.” He said. “It is time for your real training to begin.”
Godric had kept the girls’ secret, but they had shown him how to work the room the day after he had found them. Everyone had been surprised by some of the additions that appeared overnight, though the sheer number of them had led the founders and Creaftas to compare what they had each done. Of course, this led to them discovering that some of the “improvements” to the castle had not been done by either group. Naturally, both sides in the prank wars only admitted to ones the others had discovered, and any known-of ones that neither had instigated were attributed to Hogwarts herself, after the Creaftas had told the other founders about the runes that had given the castle a consciousness, even Salazar was impressed by the achievement. Rowena and Helga had decided the castle must be a she, they reasoned the evidence in the subtlety and effectiveness of the changes neither group had created conclusively proved the school was a she. The Creaftas ladies agreed, and all the men knew better than to argue, so Hogwarts was certainly female.
It was these various meetings between the groups which led to the Creaftas being added to the hierarchy of the school officially, they each now had lessons to teach as well as detecting and collecting new students. The Creaftas had also spent much time with the Sliepnir, the equines having taken to the group, when they had been curious about the building works to replace the lodge Erik and Ulf had lived in since it had been brought from the forests near Jorvik. Utred and Tiggelwatha had even ridden two of the beasts, the Sliepnir having allowed them; the two could even now communicate with the eight legged horses.
The rest of the students had settled in well, after the festivities of the opening of the castle, with the routine of lessons during the day, socialising at meal times and evenings, in the Great Hall, library or in one of the four houses common rooms. Although more private than the other houses, the Slytherin's did allow members of the houses into their common room most evenings, and joined with others when invited to other houses, though they still kept themselves aloof somewhat from the rest of the school. Two nights of the week however, once dinner was complete, not one Slytherin could be seen around the school. On those nights they all made their way to the second floor in small groups where they stayed until curfew. Although the whole school knew they went to that floor, no one outside that house had any idea which room they entered or why, although rumours that Slytherin built a secret chamber which was entered from the corridor circulated the school. Of course, the fact the Creaftas had managed to include moving staircases secretly was used to add credence to the story. When asked, the other founders said their colleague was “simply spending time with his apprentices, as was his right”. Each of the founders spent time giving extra training in their own specialist subjects, to their own students each week after all. That Gryffindor was leading extra battle, duelling and tactical training for those in his house, was well known throughout the school. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were also open about what they taught in their house sessions, it was expected that the Masters would take an important role in their own apprentices’ training; only Slytherin was so secretive about it.
Each week new students arrived, since Godric had started to include the Creaftas in seeking them out, and bringing them to the school. As well as locating the students, the opportunity was taken to ensure the family of each student was safe, and help offered if needed. In fact both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were happy to have enlisted Utred and his friends help. As a result, the Creaftas and their ladies travelled all over the country and brought back what news they heard, along with nervous eleven year olds and occasional families.
The founders spent their evenings discussing the running of the villages, Hogsmead and the magical part of Godrics Hollow, and the school. It had been one of the first decisions of the villagers, and when they arrived, the other three founders, that Godric would act as head of the communities. He owned the land, so it was—the others pointed out—natural he would be the Lord. As such, it was he who raised a point on future admissions to the school.
“My friends,” he began, and noted the sharp looks from the other three. He sighed. They often teased him that he only said that when he knew what he was going to say next would probably cause either offence or an argument, usually with Salazar. He started again. “All right, I know and you know what I have to say might not to sit well, yet I fear we must face it.” He paused.
“Godric, get on with it, face what?” Salazar growled, though the self satisfied smirk on his face told the others he was teasing Godric for trying to honey the topic before they knew what it was.
“Very well, my friends I will be blunt. We are, none of us, getting any younger, how are we to ensure students are only accepted into our houses if they have the attributes required after we are gone?”
Salazar spluttered indignantly, the mouthful of ale he had just swigged partly sprayed in a fine mist, the rest dribbling down his chin and onto his robes, then as usual on these occasions, called into question Godric's parentage.
Hufflepuff giggled, pricking Salazar's occasional bouts of smugness being one of her aims in life, but Ravenclaw looked thoughtfully concerned, almost managing to hide the mirth twinkling in her eyes, while Godric tried to look innocently curious at his flustered friend, the look fooled no one.
Slytherin found his voice. “Do we really need to consider that? You might be getting too old Godric, but I still have enough about me to recognise those of pure blood who are thoughtful and cunning enough to create leaders of our world in the future. They are the ones fit for my house.”
“Oh really Salazar, even you are not immortal, not to mention you are only a few months younger than him anyway.” Hufflepuff rebuked. “Nevertheless, Godric raises a good point. We each select only those which we wish to invite, they are then our apprentices. Let's be honest, we each have so many students they are no longer truly of that position, we have less to do with their education as we share the responsibility with others. We have become more like titular heads rather than apprentice masters. Yet how many of our selected students have characters that develop beyond our values after selection? As they grow, they show other strengths, and some may even have fitted better in another of our houses.”
Ravenclaw agreed. “That is true Helga, for some the instruments show as one thing, but the person will become another or even occasionally do not show those qualities when we meet them. What we need is a method of individually assessing them.”
“I hadn't thought of it that way, but simply a way of ensuring a method after we are gone.” Godric stated. “So we need a way that details things even the student may be unaware of.”
“Precisely.” Ravenclaw smiled. “For example, Utred is brave, we all know that, but he also shows the loyalty you value Helga. Many of his pranks and even assignments show him to be cunning and of great intelligence too. He could have been picked by any of us.”
Salazar bridled at this. “Cunning he may be, but I certainly would have rejected him, he is not pure blood.”
“Then it would have been, and indeed is, a loss to your house Salazar.” Hufflepuff responded. “My own students bring their talents, and flourish regardless of blood status.”
Godric could feel the old argument rising again. “Salazar knows our views on this, and we his, but they are not relevant to what we were discussing. Are we agreed that we need to find some way to independently sort new students into our houses, to replace our current method?”
“So long as we all accept we shouldn't be able to overrule the arbiter’s decision, I agree.” Ravenclaw concluded.
“As do I Godric.” Hufflepuff nodded
Gryffindor nodded acceptance then turned to his friend. “What about you Salazar, it would free you up from dealing with sceptical parents, my friend.”
Slytherin smiled at the dig from his friend, they all knew he hated dealing with parents’ doubts over the existence of a safe place for their children, or battling through arrogant demands to pamper their child. “Very well Godric, so long as we agree as to the arbiter.”
The lord of Dunholm was not pleased to see the arrival of the king’s messengers. He had enough problems without Styr sticking his nose in. Not only had he now to cope with the demands of the priests building the church and shrine to house St. Cuthbert's remains, though in truth that was the least of his worries, but now he had two extra mouths to feed. The king’s messengers must be housed by the Lord, probably at the cost of his best men, who would have to give up their lodging despite the fact that he needed their loyalty and strength for the winter. Now was the time the land he controlled faced their most dangerous time of the year, when the Autumn weather was still good enough for the Scots to raid, attacking to steal the fresh produce, as the climax of the Harvest was reached.
The town itself was safe from the raids; it sat surrounded by a tall palisade atop a high and steep-sided outcrop of rock. A fast flowing river flowed round two sides, the white capped water boiled beneath the near vertical cliffs. Only one road led up the only climbable side, it was narrow, allowing only four men to approach side-by-side, the ground falling sharply at its sides as it led up to the strong town gates. The walls were guarded day and night, any approach was observed long before any threat could be fulfilled. At nearby Gyruum a sheltered natural harbour allowed ships to land, providing trade with other lands and the rest of the country. Within the walls, the townsfolk lived in safety of this impregnable fortress, but outside, the lands it protected were vulnerable to the raids of the Scots, raids that had not been reported to the king. They were small, opportunistic skirmishes, a nuisance like a bee sting rather than important, yet still the lord knew the king would send men to deal with them. The lord did not want that. He and the townsfolk enjoyed a life free of interference from the king, as long as he stayed away. The king, and the Archbishop were blissfully ignorant of the truth and believed the area was no longer troubled. The priests of the town were greedy, and knew if the archbishop knew the truth of the wealth the lord had allowed them to build, in order to guarantee their silence, he would take more from them for the church in Jorvik. So, they slowly built the shrine and church, thereby delaying the day Hrothweard would come with the remains of the saint to bless the structures, install the relic in its permanent home, and claim a large chunk of the silver the local clergy would extract from pilgrims, on top of the share they already sent as tithe to the church.
So the sight of two of the king’s men approaching was not exactly welcome. It was expensive enough buying the silence of itinerant traders, the entertainers more so. Ship’s captains knew they could demand more for their goods at Dunholm than anywhere else. It bought their silence, but king’s men may not be bought, or if they could, would be very expensive. Even so, the riders had been welcomed in a manner befitting the messengers of the king, in the lord’s great hall and had been shown the progress at the shrine which was nearing completion. The message they had brought with them was worrying; they were to be his guests until such time as the need to call the Northumbrian Fryd to march again south was ascertained.
They had been here a fortnight now, but there had been no word yet, the lord and priests were getting worried. Word of fresh raids was sure to reach the town soon, and then their isolation from Jorvik would be over. They had their plans to hide their covertly accrued wealth, so neither the king nor the Archbishop could claim it. They could only hope the saint would still be brought and they would live long enough to gather more silver and gold from the pilgrims who were certain to come. If word of the continued raids spread south, then pilgrims would fear to travel here, and all the traders in the town would lose out. The town needed the fresh source of silver, especially as the number of captured Scots that could be sold as slaves had gone down.
The lord and senior of the priests were quietly discussing what they could do to rid themselves of Styr's men, when a guard burst into the room.
“My lord, two more of the king’s men are here.” He announced urgently.
Every citizen was concerned by the presence of the men from the palace, fearing the king was trying to muscle in on their anticipated wealth. The priest swore.
The lord, unsurprised at his friend’s outburst, nodded to the guard. “Prepare to receive them, we must maintain appearance of welcoming them.” Obviously resigned to playing host to two more of the kings men, there was nothing else he could do, and he knew it.
The flustered guard calmed, bowed and left.
“What is that sly Earsling up to. Invasions by stealth?” The priest was obviously angry. “Two more of his lot here.”
“Calm yourself my friend, remember the others are awaiting instructions, it may be that they have arrived. Perhaps we shall be rid of them tomorrow.”
The priest nodded. “Let us hope so. Their tale of raising the Fryd seems convenient to me. They have yet to make a single effort to do so.”
The men of Alba watched, unseen, as the two horsemen rode to the gates of the town and disappeared through them. They were hidden in the trees on the hill overlooking the road to the stronghold watching, ensuring no more than usual patrols left the stronghold. They, and their men, had travelled south across the old wall to these lands, more fertile than there own, to raid the farms. They had travelled covertly, on the high hills to the west where no one lived, so none patrolled. Turning east, they travelled at night or under cover of the trees, out of sight of roads and tracks, avoiding habitation, so no warning of their presence in these lands was announced. Tonight though, they would head north, openly, towards home, raiding barns for freshly harvested crops. They grew just enough in their settlements for their needs, they raided to deny the supplies to their enemies, who occupied these lands and the town, besides, it was a good way of keeping warrior skills sharp. They knew the lord of Dunholm had a force strong enough to stop their small raiding bands, but knew he did not desire further confrontation with them. They knew the Christians were building their shrine in the town, and of the wealth they expected to come from it. Their spies had reported the townspeople’s expectations and their dislike of the fact that some of the wealth would go south, to their rulers in Jorvik.
The small group of kilted Scotsmen however, could not care less if the king sent men to stop their raids, they fought hard when challenged, and did not fear some puppet of the church. Besides, by the time an army could be raised and be in position to threaten them, the weather would have turned and they would be safe at home, raids finished for the winter. No army would attack their homelands in the cold season, and if one came in the spring, then they would be ready and draw them into their lands and again destroy them. If that was what lay in the future, then so be it, today they simply stayed in the trees awaiting darkness, when the town gates would be closed. Then they would move through the lands like Sceadugengan, unseen and unheard, save by those they attacked, raiding and taking what they found.
Durslieg had had enough. His son had once again returned home in fear of those freaks, it had been weeks since he had been asked to make any shoes, his silver was running out. He had once again been admonished for his behaviour towards the others in the village by Gryffindor; he had only been defending his son, but no, the lord had believed that his poor boy had attacked first. Durslieg snorted at this, his son was normal; he had been here before all of them; that should mean something. Why shouldn't he expect to be treated with deference from others? Well, enough was enough. If, as he had heard, these freaks were not welcome in England, that is where he would take his family, where they could be safe among normal folk. He had told Lord Gryffindor they would leave, half expecting him to beg them to stay. He had been disappointed. The Lord had simply nodded and offered a place for them to move to in Wales. Durslieg had been tempted, until he realised that place would be Godrics Hollow. He had angrily refused that, and any other help offered, especially of the magical kind. Now a week later, he and his family, carrying all that they could on their wagon, pulled by their small, but strong horse, left Hogsmead, heads held high as the entire populace watched the family start their journey. The memory of that departure was still in Durslieg's mind, as a few days later the second ancient Roman Wall they had encountered came into view. This one was stronger, solidly built of stone, and the family knew beyond this wall was Christian Northumbria; they would continue to travel until they found a place that needed a Cordwainer. If they were lucky, the first place they came to would have need of one. Durslieg knew it was unlikely though, the first place large enough to possibly support them without a Lord’s benevolence would be Dunholm. He doubted the fortress would lack one of his trade within its walls, but that was where they would go first.
The thud of sword on shield reverberated through the still morning air, followed quickly by another, the ringing of the blades as they sang spurring the two warriors to their next attack. Observers watched as the speed of the two men's deadly dance increased, attack after attack was made by each upon the other and the sword song electrified the atmosphere over the grassy duelling arena and spread over the waters of the adjacent lake. The two were strong, natural swordsmen, neither of whom held anything back despite their friendship. Their feints, dodges, thrusts and slashes instinctive, controlled and ferocious, each rolling with blows landed by the other, then resuming their own attack without pause, sweat running freely beneath their helmets and chain mail tunics. Both the combatant lords were dressed in full battle dress, complete with wool filled coats beneath the mail and leather jackets over it, both with scarlet cloaks on their backs, the only differences in their ferocious appearance being the shield and helmet decorations. Both the image of warlords to be feared, the spectators knowing they were what they appeared when necessary, but both kind, gentle and fair in their dealings with others, still, their were few amongst the spectators who would willingly face either man in the square marked with branches where the two fought. Those watching were, however, enjoying the spectacle of the two men attempting to defeat the other, they had all stood in shield walls alongside both men, though not yet in battle, they shouted encouragement to the one they had bet on, encouraging their champion.
Neither man was giving ground to the other, neither holding back, each blow they gave intended to stop their opponent, one slip, one mistimed move, could allow the other the advantage, both knew from experience the wounds they could receive. Suddenly, the younger of the two saw an opening, and managed to get a firm blow on his opponent’s helmet. Dazed, the older one dropped to one knee, and his sword fell to the ground, and he shook his head trying to clear it, holding his hand, palm open, towards his opponent.
“All right Utred. I yield this time.” He laughed, removing his helmet and looking at it. “You've dented it!”
The young warrior laughed “So long as it wasn't your head, Godric.” He grounded his shield before offering his mentor his arm to help him up.
Godric accepted the arm, and pulling himself up, he noticed the Creaftas collecting their winnings “Oi! Have you no faith in your mentor?” he called.
The Wesele twins looked at each other before they replied.
“Of course we have…” The first responded.
“...which is why we bet on Utred.” The other grinned.
“You had to ask.” Utred laughed.
“I know, I should know better by now.” Godric sighed, shaking his head. “Good fight as always Utred.”
Utred nodded. “My thanks as always Godric, what's the score now?”
“About even, my lord” Ulf called. “Two years of weekly bouts and I can't separate you.”
The young lord nodded again as Erik collected his helmet, mail and sword, knowing what his lord liked to do after a practice bout. Sure enough, as Ulf walked over to gather Gryffindor's kit, Utred grinned slyly, looked at his opponent, who also knew what was coming. He also knew there was no chance he would be accepting the invitation, that morning had seen the first frost of the autumn after all.
“Swim?” Utred grinned, knowing the answer he would receive, the offer had not once been accepted.
“Go ahead, I'll watch.” Godric shivered. “You know I prefer to bathe inside rather than displaying myself to the Merfolk.”
Godric had only once bathed in the lake since the Merfolk had arrived; in fact it was how they had discovered them in the water a few years ago. The female Merfolk had taken quite a fancy to the naked Godric, he had never swum with them since, much to the mermaids disappointment and the males, of both species, amusement.
“You're getting soft in your old age my friend.” Utred said slyly, shedding the remainder of his clothes.
“Why, you young Earsling, wait until next week, it'll be your helmet that's dented.” The founder responded with mock offence, as he did each time the Creaftas teased him about his age, which was usually on the occasions he lost to Utred.
Utred shrugged, and ran, naked, to the lake. He dived into the cold water without hesitation, followed quickly by the other male Creaftas, it was too cold for their ladies to join them as they had in the summer. Instead they sat next to the lodge, watching their men fooling about in the water, and talking with Godric as the students who watched the duel dispersed.
“I hear one of Orin's family is coming to the school soon Godric.” Frayja said
“Yes, young Toki turns eleven next week. Orin is bringing him on the day. There will be other new students that day too.”
“Whose house will he be in? I know he wants to be with Utred.” Tofa asked
“Well, therein lies a problem. We want to find a better way of sorting; it's a bit haphazard how we do it now. Whichever one of us gets there first is getting them. We need a better method. We know what we want the sorting to do, examine each person to detect their strengths, then place them where best suited, but how to do that? Lots of ideas, but the problem is it needs to be able to be used by anyone, so a test is out. It would only test one thing anyway. A series of tests would take time, and where would they live in the meantime? No, it needs to be simple.”
“Sounds like you need to enchant something that could examine a soul, place them, and tell us.” Godiva thoughtfully stated.
“Yes, but what?” Godric asked.
Frayja pondered. “Easiest would be something worn, it would need contact with the person, so it could be something held, but worn would be better.”
Godric's eyes lit up. “You're right Frayja, something everyone could wear, put on and take off quickly and without fuss. I will give it more thought.” He picked up his old pointed hat.
“Oh Godric, isn't it time you got a new hat, that one is getting so tatty.” Hilde laughed.
The older wizard looked shocked at the very idea; he was very fond of his hat. “Don't know what you mean! Merlin gave me this; it's still got years left in it.” He pulled the point to ensure it stood erect. As he did, a wide tear appeared an inch or so above the brim. “Oh Merlin forgive me!” he exclaimed, looking at the rip sadly. He didn't notice Frayja's eyes light up.
“Godric, I think you will definitely need a new hat. That one can be of even more use to the school. I just thought of a way to solve your problem.” Frayja enthusiastically told them her idea, after which Godric happily went to find the other founders. None of them were seen about the school for the whole of the following day, and the door to Godric's office was locked with them all inside. Only Hogwarts herself knew what they were doing, and she decided to help them with the task adding some of herself to their project, a fact the founders would only discover later.
At Dunholm, the lord knew his secret was out; reports of the raids had arrived during breakfast, the report given in full hearing of the king’s men. Word of continued raids by the Scots would reach Jorvik soon, he had no way of preventing it, so all he could do was try to convince the men this was a new development. His pretence worked, for now at least. The four men agreed that this first raid for several years, as he had convinced them, could signal the start of more. They remained in the town, freely giving their advice on how best to increase patrols to protect the out lying farms and villages.
Over the next week there were nightly raids, and several deaths as families tried to defend their property, though this was tempered after the seventh raid with the capture of a Scottish family. They claimed to be fleeing south, to anywhere they would not be surrounded by the type of pagans that had taken over their village and forced them out. The man claimed to be a Cordwainer, who had served his lord well, until the village had been taken over by families who displayed sorcery, forcing good people from the village, and creating space for more of their kind. They had been the only family left in the village who resisted the temptation to just leave, the only ones who had tried to show their new neighbours the error of their ways. The sorcerers had fled good Christians in England and believed they were safe beyond the churches justice; they had even built a large school for their offspring. They told how their Lord had sided with the pagans, supported them in persecuting the family, they discovered he was one of them all along and had deceived them. Eventually, after the family had suffered much persecution at the hands of the new comers, he had freed them to leave.
The king’s men had interrogated the family, neither the man nor his son appearing typical warriors or raiders, both being fat, but they took great interest at their tale. The four men insisted the family be taken to Jorvik, they were amongst Styr's most trusted men, they knew his true nature, he had seen to their training in magic himself. They knew many he had been forced to sacrifice, many of their kind who disagreed with him, threatened to reveal his true nature, they supported him in his quest to be the one King. Only then would he be able to protect their kind, place the pure wizards in power over Muggles, half bloods and Muggleborns They knew he sought a place where their kind was gathering. If this family of stupid arrogant Muggles were to be believed, they may have just found it for him. So, they gained passage to Jorvik on a trading ship, taking the family with them. They would be in the city in two days, far quicker than taking them over land. Even if they could have found a horse that could carry the man, it would not have got above a walking pace with that weight on its back.
The lord of Dunholm knew that king Styr would be very interested in the family’s tale, as would the Archbishop. Even without the Scots raids, the king’s army would be here by spring. The days of his town’s independence from interference were numbered, and he could do nothing to stop it.
As the family were boarding the ship, another figure was mounting a fast horse in the town.
The figure left the town, and raced north towards the Roman wall, then along it until reaching an isolated spot. Here it stopped and dismounted, the mission south abandoned. Its task had been to gather information on the state of England, discover if any other areas were safe for magical people. The spy's home was a castle in Scotland, newly built near a village where wizard kind could be safe. The figure had recognised the family that were now on their way south by the sea. The mission now changed, the priority now was to warn the Lord, their safety depended on it. The family could not be trusted to hold their tongues. Leaving the horse where it was, the spy turned, and with a pop, disappeared to give the news of the Durslieg's capture and the danger that would bring to the school.
Late 20th century
A few days after the match, and death of Eli, the twins and Molly were at Grimmauld Place, it was the last day of August and Harry and Ginny were leaving for Hogwarts. Kingsley had arranged a car to take Molly, Dudley and the twins to Kings Cross from the Burrow the next day, Dudley was leaving his in the workshop at least until he was settled in at Hogsmead. Petunia was travelling with Harry and Ginny, so that she would have the chance to familiarise herself with the castle and her new colleagues. She was leaving a much altered Dudley, he was visibly losing weight having taken the potion, already Ginny, Maria and Molly had each shrunk his clothes so they would fit his new figure, and Poppy monitored his progress at least as closely as she did Harry's. Maria's father had managed to come up with little to help protect Dudley and Petunia, however, after consultation with Mr. Ollivander, both now carried what looked like a wand, it did have a magical core, but was useless for casting spells. In fact they were amulets, containing a personalised shield charm, which had been constructed to protect them against most common spells, as well as a few uncommon ones. Both Dudley and Petunia were now full members of the magical community although they had yet to enter it unaccompanied by Harry, Ginny or any of their close friends.
Maggie was no better. They had all visited her in hospital, and the twins were very worried about her, but she had made them promise to concentrate on school when they had visited earlier in the day, their last visit before returning to Hogwarts.
Harry and Ginny were concerned about how the other students on the train the next day would react to seeing the twins again. “Tomorrow, stick with Dudley and Dennis on the train. Remember the other pupils don't know you have recovered and are our friends yet, you two. Dennis has lots of friends and will help spread the word.” Ginny told the twins. “We shall see you tomorrow at the entrance when you get there. Your sorting is going to happen before the first years are sorted, so they won't know, but the rest of the school will.”
“Don't worry; we shall still be friends no matter what house you end up in. We shall see you tomorrow, have a good trip.” Smiled Harry.
“We will, Mr. Gresley says Martin is going to sit with us too, he is a new first year.” Said Tarquin.
Oliver and Martin had met them in Diagon Alley at Florean's the day before, when Martin had just got his new wand. He and Tarquin had struck up a friendship. Harry nodded in response, he was glad the two boys had become friends, at least it meant Martin had one student he already knew, and Tarquin a friend near his own age.
Dudley and Petunia hugged each other, both were at the start of their new lives, her son was leaving the nest. Harry distracted the twins whilst his Aunt and cousin hugged “Now twins, when you get back to the Burrow there is a surprise for each of you, ready for school. Molly knows about them, and Ginny and I think you will like them.” He smiled.
The twins’ faces grew excited. “Really Harry, what are they?” The twins spoke in unison.
“You'll see when you get back there. Now, you look after Dudley, don't forget he has never been on the Hogwarts express before and he might be scared getting on the platform.” Winked Ginny.
The Twins giggled and nodded before Dudley could notice.
“Well we had better be off; we have a call to make on the way for Petunia.” Harry said. “We are apparating there first.”
“All right Harry, you all have a good term, we'll see you at Christmas.” said Molly.
“Yes mum, everyone here again this year, we have the room and it saves you cooking.” said Ginny firmly “And Muriel's with us again this year isn't she?”
“Yes she is. She told the Prewitts she had fun here last year, and they were just too dull in comparison, so she was going to spend Christmas with us until they learned to enjoy themselves. I had an awful lot of explaining to do after that, they weren't happy to be called boring. Are you sure you want all of us here again? We could always have you all at the Burrow.”
“Yes mum, we are sure. You deserve a chance to relax over Christmas like everyone else, besides this place is bigger than the Burrow. So if only to try and give you a break, you are spending the holiday here Mum.” Ginny said firmly.
Harry decided it was definitely time to go; this had been a running discussion between Mother and Daughter for days. They walked out of the room and through the front door, to the alley from where they would apparate, leaving Molly, Dudley and the Twins to Floo to the Burrow. As Molly left, the house automatically locked itself down to await the return of its owners.
Molly, Dudley and the twins stepped out of the fire at the Burrow one after the other into the kitchen and dusted themselves down, the twins looking round expectantly. Seeing nothing different, they looked up at Molly questioningly; the sight of such puzzled faces in stereo was quite comical.
Molly laughed. “They are in the sitting room you two.” The twins shot off towards the room. “But don't burst in you will startle them.” she called, too late at their retreating backs.
As she spoke the two youngsters burst through the door and two loud startled squawks mixed with exclamations of surprise. Molly and Dudley grinned, as they followed at a more sedate pace. On the table in the centre of the room were two cages, each containing a barn owl, now wide awake and indignant from the twins’ enthusiastic entrance, the owls staring at their new owners suspiciously.
The twins carefully crossed the room; each knelt before one of the owls, and finding owl treats under the table, they each offered one to the owl in the cage in front of them, as they tried to apologise to their new pet. The owls looked at each other, fluffed their feathers and tentatively took the offered treat, then hooted and hopped closer to the door of the cages. Soon each twin had an owl perched on an arm and were stroking them happily, soothing the birds.
“They don't have names yet.” Said Molly. “You need to think of one each, and see if they approve, then send Harry and Ginny a letter to thank them.”
Harry, Ginny and Petunia appeared in a quiet country lane above the village, it was a hot sunny day, the pale blue sky flecked with high wisps of cloud, the twin trails of vapour from a jumbo jet passing high overhead pointing towards their destination. The gentle breeze cooling them as it tickled the leaves of the trees, the sound of water babbling indicating a small stream flowed out of sight nearby, they walked down the hill into the village and headed towards the cottage. They did not know whether Petunia would see it until they got there, but she had said she wanted to go anyway.
Godrics Hollow was busy, the village was obviously a popular place to visit for Muggles, as well as magical folk looking for a family outing on a nice day before the youngsters had to return to school for a new term. They walked along the road, trying to be inconspicuous, but the further into the village they went the more people stared at them, many with vague looks of recognition on their faces as if they found the group familiar, but could not quite place exactly who they were. As they turned the corner on to the road the cottage was on Harry groaned, there was a large crowd gathered in front of Harry's parents’ house.
“Aunt, this is not going to be as private as we hoped I'm afraid.” He said.
“You mean all those people are looking at Lily and James’ old house?” She said in amazement.
“Yes, unfortunately they are. At least I made sure they can't get in when we were here last Christmas.” He sighed, unsure how they could handle this. He knew that if he appeared there, they would be swamped by the crowd. He appreciated they wanted to pay their respects, and didn't want to prevent that. If he had been here on his own he might have turned away, but he knew his Aunt wanted to do this, needed to have some closure regarding her sister. They had to proceed; he just hoped the crowd would respect their privacy at the site of his parents’ murder, though he thought he was clutching at straws. Ginny squeezed his arm reassuringly, as they walked towards the cottage. They slowed down as they got nearer, then saw in a neighbouring garden a familiar figure and went over to him.
“Hi Martin.” Ginny greeted the boy, who hadn't noticed their approach.
“Oh hi,” He replied automatically then looked up and smiled in recognition of the couple. “Harry, Ginny, are you wanting to visit the cottage?”
Petunia had not been with them in Diagon Alley, so Harry introduced her. “Yes Martin, this is my mum’s sister, she has never been before, and we plan on going to the grave too, if we can get through the crowd.”
“Hang on Harry, I'll get Dad, he'll know what to do.” The boy went in and came out with his parents.
“Good to meet you Mr and Mrs Potter,” said Mr Gresley “I am Jackson Gresley, Martin’s father.” Jackson looked very like Oliver Gresley, Martin's uncle. Harry commented on this as he shook the man's hand, and insisted he use their first names.
“Dad and Uncle Oliver are brothers, two of triplets with Uncle Isambard, Harry” Martin explained a little loudly
“Shush Martin, keep your voice down.” His father stage whispered then leant towards Harry. “Harry, if you give us a moment we shall ensure your visit to your parents’ house and grave are private, but I'm afraid it will mean some fuss if that's all right.” His wife had walked past them and was calling on the neighbours.
“Not too much fuss I hope.” Said Harry cautiously.
“No, just a bit of crowd control.” Smiled Jackson. “Here, at least amongst the wizard community, we believe this is your home and we stick by locals. Many of us hope you will one day join us here, but you are already considered part of the village, and so we will look after you ahead of the tourists. Besides, you have already been most kind to young Martin here.”
“Thank you Jackson, that means a lot to me, one day I might restore the house, but regardless, this place will always be special to me.” Replied Harry.
Ten of the neighbours came over and nodded a greeting, the largest of them then made his way to crowd at the cottage.
“Ladies and Gentlemen could I have your attention please.” He called to the crowd. “Thank you for your interest in the Potters’ home, however we need access to the property now for essential maintenance to keep it special in case Harry visits. Could you please make your way back to the square, we shall be done in about an hour, at which time you will be welcome to return.” He announced, as the other neighbours made their way towards the house in a group with Harry, Ginny and Petunia hidden between them.
The crowd were unwilling to move, but the residents firmly, yet courteously, pushed through them with the tall one in the lead, all ensuring no one would be hurt. Once at the front, they turned and formed a cordon in front of the fence leaving Harry, Ginny and Petunia free to spend time at the house.
The crowd were not happy as the neighbours pushed them from the fence, each person in the crowd felt it was their right to be there, some even claiming that they personally knew Harry and Ginny, and would complain to them the very next time they saw them. Harry felt slightly guilty, but knew if the crowd had spotted him they would have been swamped and never got near the house. His guilt was assuaged as he heard some of the crowd claiming to be his personal friend and threatening that he would take revenge on the villagers for preventing them viewing the cottage. He ignored them and turned his attention to the cottage.
“Good grief Harry, was that your bedroom?” Petunia pointed at the missing corner of the house.
“Yes Aunt, that's where mum died, Dad was in the hall, he was killed there. When the killing curse rebounded off me it destroyed that part of the house apparently.” Harry said, then realising his Aunt could see the house, he looked at her quizzically. “Aunt, only Magical folk should be able to see the house properly; looks like you must have some magic in you, so you are able see it.”
“Yes Harry, I could always see things Muggles shouldn't. James asked Dumbledore about it once; he thought it was because Lily and I were sisters. I don't always see the things clearly though, Dementors are just shadows for example, but I knew when they were in that village we hid in. I could always see anything like that; it's the only magical ability I have. Apparently some Squibs have a little ability like this, though of course, can't cast spells, though he had never seen it in a Muggleborn before.”
Harry thought about it for a moment. “I never thought about the possibility of different levels of Squib before, makes sense though. Some Magicals are stronger than others after all, it's the same thing really.”
They spent some time at the house, then, having thanked the other villages for their help, Jackson and Martin walked with them to the grave yard. Again Harry and Ginny attracted attention as they walked into the square, Harry even spotted the two witches they had over heard in the pub on Christmas Eve, staring wide eyed as they walked across the square. This time they were speechless, although it was obvious they had recognised him, they weren't the only ones. A number of people had stopped when they had spotted the couple, though so far none had approached. The small group continued walking across the square, passing the memorial in the middle.
“It's Lily and James.” Exclaimed Petunia. “I thought it was just a war memorial, but it just changed. You're there too Harry.”
Petunia gazed up at the statue as the figure of Lily broke into a broad smile directed towards Petunia and nodded.
Petunia's tears began to fall. “Oh Lily, it is good to see you, I am so sorry.”
Harry put an arm round his aunt. “It's all right Aunt, it looks like she understands.” he reassured her.
“We had better move on.” Jackson said. “They are gathering.”
The crowd was growing; word of the presence of the Potters in the square appeared to be spreading, so reluctantly they moved towards the church yard before the way was blocked. A few visitors were near the plot where Lily and James were buried, thankfully the majority of those who had followed from the square stood along the wall at the edge of the churchyard, simply watching, respecting the families need to be on their own at the grave side.
As they approached the grave, the few that were gathered at it noticed the group’s approach. Recognising the couple, they respectfully moved away, the children of one family being ushered away protesting until the youngsters spotted Harry and Ginny too. Their eyes widening, they were stunned into silence and compliance with their parents wishes. Jackson and Martin stood at a respectful distance from the family, yet watchfully guarding the three as they knelt by the grave.
Petunia was very emotional. “It's never felt so real.” she whispered hoarsely.
Harry understood exactly what she meant, the first time he had been here, late at night in the snow with Hermione, the fact of his parents’ death had never seemed quite so final. Even when he had known the truth of how they died, and he had experienced the reawakening of long latent memories, it had all seemed slightly distant, a story perhaps. It was being here next to the grave, especially that first time, which made it, as Petunia said, real.
They spent a long time at the grave, while Petunia sobbed and they all talked to James and Lily. They gave Petunia as much time as she needed, almost forgetting the crowd that was growing at the wall. Once she was ready, Harry conjured two wreaths, one from Ginny and himself, the other simply made of White Lilies which Petunia laid next to the other, the card on hers simply read “Beloved Sister”.
They stood, and walked over to Jackson and Martin, noticing that the crowd had grown. Harry noticed his Aunt pale at the sight. Shielded from view by the two locals and Harry, Ginny helped Petunia fix her make up, and removed the signs of her tears with a wave of her wand. The older lady was grateful; she wanted to make a good first impression when they arrived at their next destination, although both Harry and Ginny had assured her everyone there would have understood.
Harry turned to Jackson and shook the man's hand. “Thanks for your help, we have to go on to Hogwarts now, get ready for the start of term. We'll apparate from here if that’s all right, I don't think we would get through that lot at the wall in one piece.”
The man chuckled. “No, I expect you are right, especially with Guinevere and Christabel there.” Harry noticed the two ladies he had spotted earlier, though now they were talking animatedly to each other near the gate, too near the gate for Harry's comfort. Jackson laughed again then continued. “Don't worry, it's fine to apparate, plenty of our lot to deal with any Muggles over there if needed. It was a pleasure to meet you all; once you have gone we'll all apparate home. I hope you will come again soon. When you do, just pop round to ours, you are welcome at the Gresley's always.”
“Thanks Jackson, we will. See you tomorrow Martin, don't forget you’re meeting the twins and Dudley on the train.” Ginny smiled.
Petunia took Harry's arm, and with a final nod to the Gresleys, apparated away, leaving a disappointed crowd who dispersed as quickly as they had gathered, after the Gresleys had apparated as well.
They had lunch with Ron in the Three Broomsticks, before walking up to the castle, showing Petunia a few of the sights in the village on the way, including Weasleys where Dudley would be living and working. This was the first time Petunia had been to Hogwarts of course, though she had wanted to come with her sister. Even in daylight the castle was impressive, and the addition of the tall memorial simply added to the grandeur of the school. Petunia gasped as she got her first view of the ancient building. Hagrid emerged from the front doors as they made their way up the drive; he waved as he saw them approach and waited at the bottom of the steps for them.
“Hi 'Arry, Ginny. Just on my way t'see Grawpy. Glad t’ see ye again Petunia.” He grinned as they reached him.
“Hi Hagrid” Harry replied to his friend. “Give Grawp our love will you.”
Hagrid laughed “Sure will 'Arry mate, 'e'll be glad to 'ear yer back.”
Petunia was looking at Hagrid quizzically, vague recognition on her face. “”You came for Harry when he was eleven didn't you? I saw you at the wedding, but I've only now placed you.”
“Aye, different time though, no 'ard feelin's I 'ope. I'm 'Agrid.” he held out his hand.
“No none at all Hagrid, it's good to meet you properly at last.” Smiled Petunia, taking his hand and shaking it warmly. “You did what you had to on that occasion, we were foolish enough to lie to Harry about who he really was, and then try to hide when the truth was coming out. Not your fault at all. It feels like a lifetime ago.”
Hagrid nodded his agreement.
“We had better go in Hagrid, Minerva wants to see us and we have to show Petunia around.” Harry said “We'll see you later.”
“Sure 'Arry she's in 'er office. See yer all at the briefing later.” He said cheerfully.
Hagrid turned and set off across the grounds. Ginny and Harry led Petunia into the entrance hall and up the stairs to the Headmistress's office. She hardly knew where to look, although they had told her about the castle, their descriptions of such things as the moving portraits and the building had not really prepared her for the real thing. Minerva had told them the password for her office on her last visit, so the statue obediently moved aside when Petunia gave it. At the top of the moving staircase, they knocked on the door.
“Come in.” called Minerva. “Welcome back Harry and Ginny,” She said as they walked into the office “and Petunia welcome to Hogwarts at last.”
“Thank you Headmistress” Petunia smiled “I have to say I am more than a little nervous.”
“Don't worry, all the staff know the situation and are looking forward to meeting you. Now to let you know all of us teachers are called Professor by the students, so you would be Professor Dursley to them.”
“Actually Professor, would you mind if I was known by maiden name, I don't need to be reminded of what I allowed my husband to get away with.” Petunia asked.
“Certainly, Professor Evans it is. Of course, between ourselves, away from the students, we all use our first names. Your class room has had some alterations since we knew you were coming. We have placed charms on it to prevent Magic being used in there, so students won't have an advantage over you. Kreacher has already placed some boxes of interesting looking items in there for you, and your luggage is in your quarters. Now Harry, Ginny, please ensure Petunia knows where her rooms are, and how to get around the school. Nearly Headless Nick has promised to help you get around too, he's the Gryffindor Ghost, and Harry's elf will help as well. That reminds me, Harry. Kreacher came to see me while you were on Honeymoon, Ginny this concerns you too. He agreed to wait until you were both here, but he has some news for you which will affect your household, and he wants your approval. He has asked mine, and I have given it. It also affects Hogwarts, but I consider it good news. I cannot say more, we must not discuss it until after he has spoken with you. He will do so tonight after dinner and the briefing.”
“OK.” Said Harry puzzled.
“If it's what I think it is, I think it's wonderful.” Said Ginny smiling broadly.
“Right. Everything's waiting for you in your rooms; briefing for staff will, as I said, be at dinner this evening, so you have all afternoon to settle in, and tomorrow as well. I will see you later. Oh, and Ginny, don't forget the wedding photos this evening, we are dying to see them.” Minerva finished.
After the briefing that evening, Petunia felt much more comfortable about her new post. She had been a little worried about meeting the ghosts, but once she had met Nick, she was more relaxed about them. She was, of course, cautious about Peeves the poltergeist, as was everyone else as far as she could make out. The staff had made her most welcome and reassured her that they were there to help her, Professor Flitwick told her many of his memories of Lily at Hogwarts, as did Professor Slughorn. After all of them had enjoyed looking at the wedding photographs, Harry and Ginny had escorted her back to her quarters, which were well appointed she thought, with a comfortable sitting room, an office, bedroom and bathroom. Her classroom was already adorned with Dudley's things from Privet Drive as well as an assortment of objects the school already collected including a number of childrens toys. She settled contentedly in bed that night looking forward to the next day, when she would be shown round the castle properly, and of course, the arrival of the students.
After leaving Petunia, Harry and Ginny went to their quarters where Kreacher was nervously waiting. He wasn't alone.
“Master, Mistress good evening” he bowed. “Would you like a drink?”
“No, that's all right thanks Kreacher” said Ginny sitting down. Harry sat beside her, smiling as he recognised the second elf from Hogwarts staff, Ginny had told him what she thought this was about, the presence of the second Elf seemed to confirm her thoughts.
“Master, Mistress I have something to ask you. Last year while we were here, I felt that despite my duties to you, I was growing closer to another elf. Kreacher has never been close to another elf like this before, but that elf and Kreacher have grown very close. Elf love demands that we must now ask our Masters if it is agreeable to you for us to continue our relationship, we are in love. The other elf is Winky, who belongs to Hogwarts, but would become yours if you allow us to become wed. You will, of course, need to speak with the Headmistress about the loss of an elf to the school, but would you be willing to allow Kreacher and Winky to wed?”
Winky stepped forward to stand next to Kreacher and bowed. “I am Winky.” She said simply.
Ginny had been right in her guess and had looked up what was required in their responses, and she had briefed Harry about it when she told him her theory. Protocol in this situation demanded she question Winky before Harry spoke, her words were to ensure the female Elf was willing to join their house should agreement with her current master be reached.
“Winky, Kreacher has told us that you and he wish to wed, that means you would become our Elf. If agreement can be reached, are you willing to leave Hogwarts, to wed Kreacher, and become our Elf at his side?” Ginny asked Kindly.
“Mistress Potter, I am.” the elf replied nervously.
Harry replied as was required to indicate he was willing to accept her into his house. “Then we will be happy for you both to wed, we shall discuss this with the Headmistress and then we shall speak to you again, but you have our approval.”
“Thank you Master” said Kreacher, giving the formal response, as both Elves bowed deeply “And thank you Mistress”
Dudley looked at the barrier between platforms nine and ten dubiously.
“You are kidding! You want me to walk straight into brick wall?” He said.
“That's right Dud, it's fine don't worry. Because you are with us you will make it onto the platform.” Molly reassured him. “Tell you what, let's all go through together.”
Dudley nodded nervously. Delilah looked at him.
“It's fine Dudley, come on.” They all walked slowly to the wall. Dudley behind Molly and Tarquin. Delilah held his arm as he pushed the trolley with the twins’ luggage on it, the two owls sleeping in their cages. He had a second to feel more confident as he saw Molly and Tarquin disappear through the barrier, then he was through.
A smiling Molly stood waiting.
“There you are, Dudley. Welcome to platform nine and three quarters, now let’s find Martin and Dennis. They walked along the packed platform, full of families saying goodbye to each other, loading trunks onto the train, and friends reuniting. There was an excited air of anticipation across the platform; soon they found Dennis waiting near at the coach next to the one reserved for prefects.
“Martin just arrived; I saved us a compartment just here.” He smiled
“Thanks Dennis” Said the twins.
They loaded the trunks and owls into the compartment then they returned to the platform to say goodbye. The Creevey's and Gresleys were there with Molly to see them all off.
“Have a good term my dears; write to me when you get there.” Molly hugged the twins. “And Dudley, enjoy yourself at Hogsmead. Ron's meeting you at the school, you are both invited to the feast. Hermione will be there too, should be fun.”
A whistle sounded and the students scrambled aboard. The five of them settled in their compartment, and waved through the window as the train began to move. When the train was out of the station, and entering the tunnel that led to the mainline north, they settled into their seats. Martin asked about the twins’ owls.
“Harry and Ginny gave them to us yesterday as a surprise, mine’s called Hersilia” Tarquin told them.
“Mine’s called Romulas” Delilah smiled.
As the train left the tunnel, and began to pick up speed, the compartment door opened and two of Dennis's friends came in.
“Hi Dennis, what you doing here? Come and sit with us.” One of them said.
“Can't guys, I promised the Professors Potter I would look after these two, but can you do us a favour. Spread the word that the Wolfe twins are being resorted, because of what their Aunt did to them. They are the Potters friends now, not to be blamed for last year at all.”
“Sure thing, Dennis, we'll let people know, sounds like there have been a few things going on for Harry and Ginny though. They were seen with a woman in Godrics Hollow yesterday. From the wreaths, it was his Aunt; The Prophet has a picture of the cards. I thought Harry didn't get on with his Aunt and her family though?”
Dudley looked at the student. “We didn't, but for a while now Mum and I have seen Harry differently. My Dad didn't—and couldn't—accept the fact we were worried about my cousin, so we left him. Yesterday was Mum's first chance to visit her sister’s grave even.”
Martin went red. “I don't understand why people wouldn't let them visit the house and grave in peace, it was a circus.”
The others agreed with the sentiment.
Dennis's friends spread the word about the twins, and that they were sat with Harry's cousin, then came and joined them in the compartment for the rest of the journey.
When they arrived at Hogsmead station, Martin went to join the other first years with Hagrid, while Dudley, Dennis, and his friends headed for the coaches. Two Slytherin's jeered the twins as traitors to the house.
“Stupid beggars” Said Tarquin climbing in the coach. “I really don't want to go back into that house.”
“Neither do I.” admitted Delilah.
“Well I hope you come to Gryffindor.” Said Dennis, “Martin too, it would be great to hang out with all three of you.”
“Besides” added Ludwig, one of Dennis's friends, “I reckon you two are definitely brave enough. Coming back to school after last year proves that.” He grinned.
“Exactly.” Agreed Richard, the other boy with them.
As they settled in the coach, it set off. Dudley looked out of the window, and he was only slightly surprised to see nothing appeared to be pulling the coach.
“Thestrals are pulling it.” Dennis told him “You can only see them if you have seen death, you will be one of only a few your age who can't see them, Dud.”
Dudley looked at Dennis wide eyed. “You are joking aren't you, there are actually creatures you can only see if you have seen death?” he said in disbelief.
“Sorry Dud, sadly it's true my friend. I'm lucky, I can't see them, I haven't witnessed anyone dying. Just the result, but there are plenty who left last year, and the year before who could. Harry did after his fourth year.”
Dudley felt uncomfortable; he remembered how he bullied Harry in the Summer after their fourth year at their separate schools. He had hated how he had been. He realised how much he still had to learn about Harry, how many years he had wasted with his fathers prejudice.
“Ah here we are” said Tarquin as they passed through a gateway. “Hogwarts.”
Dudley had been so deep in his thoughts he had not noticed the castle until now. As they travelled up the drive, he saw the school slowly revealed, the sight took his breath away. The building was enormous; a multitude of towers and roofs, bright lights in the windows, a thin white column appeared to glow where it stood, alone near to the open entrance doors. The carriage drew to a halt at the bottom of a flight of steps, with students dashing up them, Harry and Ginny stood at the top waiting for the twins. Dudley climbed the steps with his new friends,
“Hi cousin” Said Harry grinning widely. “Good trip?”
Dudley smiled in return “Yes, thanks Professor, very interesting too, these guys have been great company.”
“Good I'm glad; Professor McGonagall wants a word with you after the feast. She is inside getting students to the great Hall. There’s a seat at the staff table for you, but she says you can sit at the Gryffindor table with Dennis and the others, if you would prefer.” Harry smiled.
“I think I'd prefer to sit with the students, I'd feel a bit on show at the teachers table.” Dudley replied.
“That's fine. “ Harry nodded. “Dennis will you, Richard, and Ludwig take Dudley in, show him where to sit.”
The three students nodded and beckoned Dudley to join them as they made their way in.
“Delilah, Tarquin, you stay with us, we will go in after the others, but before the first years, all right.” Ginny said, putting a reassuring arm round the two.
Once the last of the carriages had unloaded its passengers and the students had taken their seats, Harry, Ginny and the twins entered the hall and walked to the front, Harry had deliberately requested that he and Ginny walked with the twins, it showed everyone they supported the two children despite what they had done. The students fell silent as the group of four approached the front.
“Headmistress.” Harry announced. “These two students were sorted last year, but were under the control of others. It is our belief that this influence over them was such that it could have affected the sorting. We therefore request they be resorted, now that the influence of others is broken and they are now their true selves.”
“Headmistress.” Ginny spoke. “I concur with, and fully support, the request my colleague has made, we gave you notice of this request.”
Minerva stood. “My thanks for your request. I agree with your reasons, and have consulted with the hat, which agrees your reasons are sound and are allowable under the instructions the founders imprinted. Therefore, for the first time in Hogwarts history, and because of the depth of influence of others on these two students, the hat will re-sort them to their true house of the four.”
Neville brought the stool to the front, and held the hat by only the tip. The hat spoke.
“I will indicate when I have selected, but only announce my decision once both have been sorted. Even they shall not know until I speak, after both have worn me again.”
Delilah sat first, the hat chose quickly and said so, then Tarquin sat, again the hat chose quickly and was removed from his head. The twins stood next to the stool and Neville placed the hat on it.
“These two were not as hard to sort as I had feared. The influence over them is truly gone, their true qualities now shine. For both there is only one possibility, they both belong in Gryffindor.” The hat announced.
Harry and Ginny cheered although the applause from the house table was not as enthusiastic as usual. The twins were led to their new house table by the head of house and his wife.
“Gryffindor!” Harry called “I welcome these two to our house, they are Gryffindor's, and they are part of our family in Hogwarts. Look after them as you look after each other.”
It was then that the house students cheered, and the twins sat at the table with Dudley, Dennis, Richard and Ludwig. Harry was pleased to see the other Gryffindor's welcoming the twins, but he knew some of the Slytherin's would not treat them well; they would see this as betrayal. The twins would need the support of their new house.
Harry and Ginny went up to the staff table as Neville went to meet the new first years. Minerva had passed on this duty to Neville at the briefing the day before, with support of all the staff. Petunia was sat a few seats away, next to Professor Slughorn, the two had struck up a friendship as soon as they met. In fact, Petunia was proving popular amongst the staff, all of whom had been enthusiastic about helping her.
The first years entered the hall, and the sorting ceremony started. Harry spotted Martin nervously watching as he waited his turn which finally came. The hat took nearly a minute before Martin became a Gryffindor. By the end of the ceremony his house had six new boys and the same amount of girls, only Hufflepuff had gained more.
Then Professor McGonagall stood and went to the podium. “Welcome one and all to the new year at Hogwarts and welcome to our first guests this year, Mr. Weasley, Mr. Dursley and Miss Granger, who we hope will maintain what has been a close connection to the school for two of them, and will be the first of many visits for Mr. Dursley. This term we will be hosting some very special visitors at the end of September, when we will receive a week long visit by the Romanian National Quidditch team, during which the team will be training for a match against the England team, to be played on our pitch on the last day of their visit. We shall therefore postpone the first school match to the following day. However, all house teams will be given the opportunity to train with the Romanians, and we shall all have the chance to learn from them about Romania. Other events this term will be notified to you nearer the time.”
The headmistress paused as the excitement amongst the students died down, and then continued. “Those wishing to join house Quidditch teams will find notices on the house boards in the common rooms. We have a number of changes to staff this year. Professor Longbottom is now wholly responsible for Herbology. I welcome Professor Evans to the school, she is uniquely qualified to teach Muggle studies. I will mention that wands will not now work in her class room or office. Professor Evans is the aunt of the head of Gryffindor house and Defence teacher Professor Potter. Before rumours spread, she is the first Muggle to teach at Hogwarts, and her first hand knowledge of Muggle life has, I have found, enabled us to improve what we can all learn of our Muggle brothers and sisters beyond belief.”
The students applauded as Petunia stood.
“Finally on the staff front.” Professor McGonagall announced “Our new sports teacher is Professor Potter. For the benefit of the first years, we now have two Professors Potter, thanks to their wedding three weeks ago. In order to know which one we are talking about, you only need remember that whilst one teaches sport, and the other is just as accomplished a Quidditch player, he does not teach it.”
The older students laughed as Ginny stood to loud applause.
The Headmistress continued once the applause had died down. “Mr. Filch, as is his wont, has once again added to the list of forbidden items. The full list has now been moved from his door, to the walls either side if it. For first years, and as a reminder to the rest of you the forbidden forest is as the name suggests, out-of-bounds to you all. Now, I will not delay any further. Let the feast begin.”
Dudley was surprised as the dishes on the table suddenly filled with food, and the students helped themselves. He looked up to the teachers table, and saw Madam Pomfrey who he knew well. She saw him and smiled and waved to him. Dudley smiled back, instantly feeling more relaxed, and dug in; joining in with the conversations around him where he could otherwise he listened and learned; a concept totally alien to the old Dudley.
Dudley however soon became centre of attention, the students keen to find out about their new professor, but also interested in Dudley himself. The twins told everyone how cool his car was, the wizard born were fascinated as they described going for a ride in it. Even the Muggleborns were keen to hear about it. Dudley was welcomed as an honorary student, despite his age, especially when it was learnt he would be working at Wheezes. Tarquin and Delilah nervously joined in; they were both trying to avoid looking at the dark looks they were receiving from the table of their former house. Hermione did notice though, she knew there would be problems for the twins; she hoped her former house would rally round them.
After the feast, Dudley wished his new friends well, and went up to the staff table where his mother was dressed in witches robes, still talking with Slughorn.
“Hey Mum, you look fantastic.” he smiled as he approached them.
“Thank you Dudley, that's quite all right. Harry and Ginny have gone to speak to their house but they say they will see you soon.”
He nodded his understanding. “Are you settling in mum?”
“Yes, it's great. Everyone is so helpful. This is Horace by the way, the Potions Master.”
“Ah you must be Harry's cousin my boy.” Slughorn stood and bowed. “Petunia you can't be old enough to have such a grown up son. It's good to meet you my boy, you must come for tea in my rooms soon.”
“Found a new member for the Slug club Horace?” smiled Minerva, as she approached, then, before he could reply she turned to Dudley. “Dudley, the Minister has asked me to arrange some sessions for you and your mother about our world. Your Mother has agreed, and I am hoping you will too. While we can't teach you magic, there are things we can help with, in fact basic potions is one of those things. The teachers here have all agreed to help you.
“That's very kind Professor, and useful.” He replied.
“Good, we shall arrange that for you then. I shall see you soon. Well, I must get on I'm afraid, good to see you again Dudley, and I am glad you are settling in well Petunia, I'll leave you in Horace's capable hands.” She smiled.
They bid her goodnight and the headmistress left.
After chatting for a few minutes, Dudley bid his mother and Horace farewell, and went to join Ron and Hermione to go to Hogsmead and his flat above the shop.
In Gryffindor Tower the students were sat in the common room welcoming their new students including the twins. Harry and Ginny entered the common room and the students cheered.
“Welcome back Gryffindor's, and welcome to our house you new students. Prefects, I will need a word with you in a moment. Now all of you, lessons start tomorrow, but I want to say, please look after our new students, watch out for them. All of you remember the Quidditch try-outs for the house team are this weekend, and I want us to retain the cup. However most importantly, remember we are here to help you. No matter what, if you need to talk, our door is open to you, our office is next door. Right. Time for bed, prefects if you could hang on for a few minutes we need to speak with you, we won't keep you long.” Harry said
The students started to head upstairs, the second years showing the twins the way, while some of the seventh years led the first years up. The prefects followed Harry and Ginny into their sitting room, Ginny gestured that they should sit down. She spoke first.
“Now, we want to talk to you all seriously. Firstly about your head of house. As you know he has been seriously ill last year, and you know why, you may remember from the end of term he was still ill. We need to tell you that although he has improved, it is not much. In fact, because he was taking a potion then, which he can no longer take, he may seem worse to you. This information is between us only please. While he is ill, please, no matter what, do not let it stop you coming to us if you need to, nor discourage any others from doing so.”
Harry then spoke. “Mention of my illness brings us to a request. You saw us tonight sponsor the Wolfe twin's resorting. We are trustees of them, we chose to be so. They had just two living, free relatives, one of whom died last week, the other is elderly and ill, they need the support of the house. I am worried about the reaction of the Slytherin's far more than our house. Can we arrange that an eye is kept on them and support given when needed?”
The prefects nodded.
“Yes sir, we will, of course, but are we sure they are now themselves?” one asked.
“Fair question Johnstone. We have spent a long time with them since their Aunt’s trial. Their recovery was made in our presence. In fact those two, and myself, are the only people known to have suffered what is known as Essence coma. They for a much shorter period than me, but with the knowledge of what they went through during it, yes I am positive that they are them selves.” Said Harry.
“That's good enough for me Professor.” Johnstone smiled.
“Good” Said Ginny. “Please though, keep your knowledge of what they have been through to yourselves, if they want to tell people they will, but otherwise you are the only ones here outside the staff that knows.”
They all agreed, and then left for their dormitories, leaving Harry and Ginny relieved. They knew their house had accepted the new members, for that they were thankful.
Historical and Author's Notes:
At last this one is ready, I know it's been a long time, this chapter was difficult to get right, but at last I have got there. This is the longest Chapter so far, as such the historical notes are minimal I'm afraid they are:
Gyruum = Jarrow
Twin's Owls names: Romulas, legendary founder of Rome.
Hersilia, Wife of Romulas.
The two Roman built walls the Dursliegs crossed on thier journey both still exist, albiet in ruins. The northernmost was a short lived boundary of the roman Empire (lasting about 50 years) known as the Antonine Wall. The second is more well known and the later Hadrians Wall.
More next time I hope.
My thanks to Jascott for Beta ing this chapter, and to those who took the trouble to review the last one. Also my thanks to you all for your patience, I know when I started this story I said updates might be slow, but I didn't think it would be this slow. I hope you enjoy the chapter and look forward to reading any reviews.
Whilst this chapter was being Beta'd I spotted the collaboration Challenge in the house cup competition and wrote a short chapter for it. The call of duty? Hope you pop over and check it out.
I also noted the appeal for Action for Children, a charity I have supported all my life (it was once the National Childrens Home or NCH),I was too young at the time to know it, but I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without the work of this organisation. I encourage all who can, to support the appeal currently on this sites home page. Thank you.
Work on Chapter 10 is progressing, no promises how long it will be or take though.
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