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Chapter Thirty: The corridors of Hogwarts were empty when they arrived. Sylvania March and Flitwick were walking across the grounds discussing a particularly difficult student named Howard Helfrin who had been placed in Hufflepuff but seemed to be atypical for his house. He had a strange fondness for dungebombs and mischief. It wasn’t like a Hufflepuff. He had remained behind for the Easter break and one of the suits of armor in the entrance was still oozing something that smelled remarkably like Operansum Opiate. Even Argus Filch had been overcome by a fit of the giggles against his will when he discovered it. It had been a sight to see. “Hang him in the dungeon by his heels!” Argus Filch had brayed with laughter, collapsing several times. “Feed him to the squid in the lake…hee hee hee!” A large shadow had fallen across the green just as they were saying that whereas the boy needed to be severely punished, it had been one of the best moments the staff had ever experienced. “What in blue blazes is that?” Flitwick squeaked looking up. “It gives every appearance of being a flying motorcycle.” March remarked dryly. The thing came thudding to the ground just feet in front of them. Megan Hogan and Sirius Black both leapt away from the machine. Hogan began moving quickly towards the castle. “Professor March, I need to speak to the headmaster.” Megan said without greeting either of them. It wasn’t like Megan to be rude and judging by the look on her face, the girl was hard pressed not to simply rage at them. The two old professors exchanged a look. “Yes, I imagine that you do.” March answered after a moment. “Come with me Megan.” Sirius Black dogged their footsteps with an entirely woebegone look on his face. What if she wants Dumbledore to train her again? He thought as he remembered when she used to shake in terror beside him at night, trapped in the world of her horrific dreams. :::::::::::::::: “Megan, shouting may in fact make you feel better but I’m afraid it will not accomplish anything of a useful nature.” Albus Dumbledore said quietly as he sat in his office behind his desk and watched Megan. “Useful eh? I’m not all that interested in how ‘useful’ my feelings are.” Megan would normally have been appalled by how she was speaking to Dumbledore, she respected him nearly as much as she respected her own father. “I don’t know what a ‘tactile seer’ is as you call it, I don’t know what I’ve done that was so wrong that you decided to take it upon yourself to remove chunks of my mind as if my memories were only so much rubbish.” Dumbledore had only gotten so far as telling her what she was and that he had removed some of her memories when the girl had begun shouting again. “I understand that, and I am more sorry than you can possibly know that you have be in still more pain Megan. I made a mistake in training you, you yourself understood that before I did and I…” “Well I was hanging around somewhere when you were ‘training’ me I’m assuming.” Megan’s cheeks were the color of rubies as she hollered some more. “You saw fit to just carve my mind up like it was a Christmas Turkey and I want to know why! What did I do that was so wrong? Who did I hurt?” Dumbledore sighed as he stood and walked to the shelves in his office and took down the book that he knew would help explain what he had done. “You must understand Megan, you never failed anyone and you never did anything wrong.” The old wizard watched the girl and his eyes were sad. “Then why? Why would you do this to me? I was in some sort of battle and….” She couldn’t keep shouting like this, she thought but for the life of her she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “You were in fact in a battle Megan, a terrible battle from what I understand and I felt I needed to remove some of your memories because the pain you had felt in others had become your pain, the pain you felt when you had been captured …” “Captured?” Megan didn’t shout this time. “Yes, Megan, you were captured by a man named Tom Riddle although I confess I still do not know how.” “Well who is Tom Riddle when he’s at home?” Megan’s Irish accent and use of their phrases tended to most prominent when she was agitated. “He is Voldemort Megan. Although not many people realize that any longer. He was a student here at Hogwarts nearly forty years ago and he amassed such power that he has transformed himself into something that is barely human.” “Voldemort had me?” Megan stared at him. He began to tell her the story from the beginning, starting with when he first began meeting with her in her third year. How he had realized her potential and trained her. What she had done in the Order. He even told her that she had been forced into hiding for quite some time. On and on the story went. “But I don’t understand headmaster, why would you remove memories like that from me when I must have been fighting in there to protect some knowledge. Didn’t you want to know what it was?” Megan was in tears. “Megan, I had already decided what to do before you went missing, the very night you went missing in fact but after we found you and I saw what your condition was, I knew for certain that it must be done.” “Why?” Tears were streaming down her face. “Why did you think you had any right to take away the things I was tortured to find?” “Because Megan, you would never have been able to awake again if I had not. You had sealed yourself into your mind and had I not removed them you would have been trapped, somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind with only pain for a companion.” “Lord, you think I’m that weak do you!” It was an incredibly hurtful thought and Megan was deeply wounded by it. “No Megan, do you remember Mettrid?” He asked and the girl nodded, “He had only a quarter of an hour of what you took for hours and hours and he is still trying to find his way out. Your mind is exceptionally strong and it is my belief that your ability to remember things is improving already and will continue to improve.” That didn’t make her feel much better, if any better, “But why couldn’t you have removed other things and tried to wake me. Find out what it was I was protecting!” “Megan, I have a very good idea as to what you were protecting and if you think about it, so will you.” Dumbledore’s eyes were grave behind his glasses. “There is only one thing so important that you could have found the strength to fight as you did in the catacombs.” She stared at him, and realization dawned on her face, “It would have to be how he wins, or how he is defeated, those are the only two things I can think of.” “No Megan.” Dumbledore smiled kindly at her. “If it was the knowledge that he would win, I think it would have been so disheartening to you there would have been no way you could have retained anything. All of you have fought so hard, and in some instances lost so much in this battle the only thing your mind would have had been able to protect would have been the knowledge of how we would prevail. There had to be some hope in what you were protecting. If it had only been despair, he would have been able to pull it from you.” He could not tell her that she had not been entirely alone in the vault and that he knew the very few things she had said from a firsthand account. “We’ll win.” Megan said and her heart both hurt but felt proud. “And I knew how but you took it away.” “Yes Megan, I do not know how and I must not know how. I fear that if we have that knowledge, we will inadvertently prevent the series of events that must happen in order for it to occur.” He spoke the entire truth this time. “That was my mistake in training you Megan, I did not fully consider that fate should not be changed.” The girl was sobbing in front of him but when she raised her head her expression was determined. “But you will train me again? This can’t have been for nothing.” Megan asked hopefully, if she had this within her perhaps it could still be used for good somehow. “No Megan. I will not.” “Why?” Her voice was anguished. “Because Megan, the night you disappeared, I finally discovered why known and powerful tactile seers are so very rare.” He felt he owed her at least this much. “Why is that?” Megan’s eyes were clear. “Tactile seers have always been women, I do not know why that is.” Dumbledore reached for the book in front of him and opened it to the chapter he needed. “Fully trained, they are able to pull a bit of the life energy of another person through them, that is why they retain the feelings of another person but with that life energy comes with it the opposite energy, the end of life. They do this far more powerfully than an untrained seer would.” “Death.” It was a flat statement and in her heart, Megan knew what he would say next. “Yes Megan, and that is retained also. Most of us come to this earth having inherited traits from our parents, but a fully trained tactile seer cannot pass on their traits because of the energy that stays within them.” It hurt to tell the young woman this and she was staring at him with horror. “It ends any life they begin within themselves. They cannot have children.” He handed her the book and she took it automatically, she read the account of Gizelda Klume’s death, written by her sister. She read what she had screamed over and over again in that village square as she had died. - My own children murdered inside of me because of this curse - Over and over again- I bring nothing to this life but death and all I feel from others is death, now death is mine. - Diaphonous Klume wrote the dying words of her sister. Diaphonous had broken wizardry law by marrying repeatedly, sometimes to other woman’s husbands but the name she had kept had been the name of the last man she married Borfin Klume, the brother of her sister’s Gizelda’s husband Horatio. Diaphonous more or less mocked her sister’s death putting it down to madness brought about by the many miscarriages suffered in four years of marriage. Megan looked up from the book and stared at Dumbledore with such fear in her eyes that it was all he could do to keep from looking away. “Am I …will I be able to…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. “I do not know Megan but I fear that you have lost one child to this already. I could only remove your memories, but it is possible that enough energy remains to prevent you from having children. Possible, not proved.” The girl’s head was in her hands, her shoulders shaking. “There have only been a handful of recorded tactile seers but they were all mentored, trained it is possible that there are many more who never develop their gift. Your own grandmother could feel a person’s future with her hands but she was very guarded about this and she refused to be trained fully. I never understood why, but evidently she did.” He had to give her some hope but unfortunately, when she looked into her eyes, he saw that she had none. “I lost a baby?” Megan said through her tears. And he had to tell her about that too. She rose to leave and moved slowly towards the door. “Megan, I do know of a way to recover some memories for you.” He spoke but she did not turn to him. “Your mind is healing, and there may still be things within it that you will yet recover over time. I feel certain your friends would be willing to help you, all they need do is submit to having their memories of you put into a pensieve and you could at least see some of the things you have lost.” “I don’t think I want to professor.” Her back was still towards him. “At least, not now.” “Megan, you cannot discuss what I told you about…” “I know that. Lord you people all think I’m dim.” She did turn and face him then. She was no longer crying and her face looked resolute. “If I run around telling people that he’ll lose then they’ll come after me again. It could be locked inside me, somewhere still, waiting to come out. Who knows? I’d still rather die than be of any use to that bastard Riddle. Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll be defeated before he can ever find me again but if he does I’ll follow in the footsteps of that miserable piece of work Klume and do myself in before I’d be of any use to him.” ::::::::::::::: Sirius Black had been sitting with Professor March for what felt like hours and hours, feeling more and more like he was awaiting the hangman’s noose. “You should go and take a look at that suit of armor in the entrance…” March said again, thinking that the young man beside her desperately needed cheering up somehow. “Please stop saying that, it can fall into a heap of twisted metal for all I care.” Sirius wished she would leave him alone but March stuck with great determination by his side. She was worried for the young man. “Hello.” Megan stood before him and she had obviously been crying. “Megan.” Sirius stood and tried to move to hold her but she held up her hand, warning him back. “I need to talk to you, alone.” Sylvania March felt her heart ache for the young pair in front of her, “Miss Hogan, don’t do anything rash…” “Pardon me professor, I don’t want to be rude, but it is none of your concern what I do. Please excuse us.” There was nothing for March to do but gently lay a hand on Black’s shoulder and leave the hall. Under an enchanted ceiling that depicted a light shower of rain, Megan began to speak. “I need you to listen to me because my mind’s made up.” Sirius’s heart felt as if it had plunged through to the floor. “But I still need to know what’s in yours.” She swallowed and looked at him. His heart jumped because she was looking at him with hope. “I don’t know that I can have children Sirius, but I’ll be damned if I let that old piece of work trying to take over the world be the reason I stop trying. Voldemort can rot in hell but I refuse to join him in this lifetime. Do you care whether we have children of our own?” “Megan, you know about my family, to be completely frank the only chance any child of ours would have would be if they took after your side. There are orphans, we can adopt children and I’d love them with my whole heart, just as I love you.” Sirius spoke truthfully. Megan smiled but it was an odd smile, “You handsome devil, any baby in the world would be lucky to have you for a father. Thank you Sirius, I do love you madly you know.” He held her and kissed her for several minutes before he broke away. “Are you going to start this again Megan?” Sirius asked knowing she would understand him. “No, I’m bloody well not. I’ll get better with time Sirius and I’ll tell you something else,” She smiled then beautifully, “I’ll win yet, fate can be damned, I don’t care about destiny. I think we make our own if you want to know the truth. We’ll make ours together. I’m going to have a baby.” Her eyes were bright as she continued: “I’m going to have a baby with you. I’m tired of things being thrust upon me or taken away. I’ll have your baby Sirius, you mark my words.” And her face looked quite determined. ::::::::::::: “Peter, my God! Are you all right?” Sophie Burns looked down into the pit and immediately reached down to help the man out of the hole. “You look an absolute fright!” Behind her Atticus and one of the Prewett brothers stood, almost unable to believe they had found him alive. One of Dumbledore’s friends in the South had sent an owl saying that a man matching Peter’s description had been seen wandering near some cliffs by the sea. They’d followed the information and found him in there, in the ground, moaning. “I…I…think so.” Said Peter with practiced care. “There were three of them, I barely got away. They were holding me until…until he could come. Vold…he…was delayed…they were nervous…I still don’t know how…” “It’s all right now Peter, you’re safe.” Sophie hugged him briefly although she did not like the man much he did look like he’d been through an ordeal. “Can you tell us where the they had you? There might be something useful there.” “I…yes…there was a house…a house I think. It’s back that way.” His voice shook as he gestured. “Okay, Gideon, Atticus, will you check? I’ve got to get him to St. Mungo’s.” Sophie put her arm around the small man’s waist and continued. “Just hang on Peter, we’ll get you help.” Peter Pettigrew had in fact suffered terribly in the last week or so. When the attack on Atticus’s estate had failed the flames had flared green in his grate allowing Rodo and Crouch Jr. to step into his room. They had taken him to Voldemort whose fury had been terrifying. Only Crouch and Rodo had been there the whole time. “I will not fail you again master!” Peter had begged for another chance even as he had been punished. Even through his pain being near Voldemort was like drinking deeply from a spring of such cold, unbelievable power. He never wanted to be away from it again. He did not know why he was unable to wrench the information Voldemort wanted so badly from within him. It was of course, protected by very old magic. “I am not their secret keeper master, but I will find a way to deliver them to you.” He shrieked. “I will not fail.” “No, you will not.” The cold voice had said. “We will send you back to them. I have a plan. You will return to me and bring me what I want or I will find you again Peter, and show you no mercy at all.” And his soul had been both horrified and thrilled by the words. Crouch and Lestrange had taken him with the another Death Eater to the house not far from the sea. They’d staged a massive struggle and then left. Then Peter had made sure to stagger through the town and head to the sea. He would not fail his master again, if the Dark Lord needed to know the location of the Longbottoms and the Potters, he would find a way to do it somehow. If any part of his soul had still cared for James Potter, a man who he had once admired so greatly, it was easily washed away by the feeling of that beautiful cold, power. Let the Dark Lord kill them all, he did not care.

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