Chapter 9 : Chapter 9
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A/N: Beware of the Monty Python quotes that come up later in the chapter. This is what happens when you have a Python-a-thon with your friends.
The Weasleys were inside the Leaky Cauldron helping where they could. Willow was currently helping some of the Medi-witches running around with potions, bandages and other paraphernalia of the medical sort. Xander and Faith were outside organizing things with Dumbledore and the Ministry. Harry Potter was also running around helping out where he could, though he couldn't do much, what little he did helped. He walked past Justin who was holding his ruined boot in one hand and thrust his finger through the hole in the toes that had been caused by the chin spines from the demon he kicked.
“I knew I should have gone with the dragon hide boots instead.” he sighed as he put the boot back on.
“Sorry, Justin.” said Ernie McMillan as he clapped his friend on the shoulder, “those were a wicked pair of boots.”
Harry chuckled to himself as he worked his way across the room handing out potions and bandages to those that needed them. Harry stopped short when he saw Cho Chang sitting next to the cot of one of the younger students. She looked up and saw Harry standing there. It looked as if she was holding an internal debate over something, and he had a pretty good guess as to what it might be about.
“Hello Harry,” said Cho in a rather stiff voice as she checked the bandage on the younger wizard and stood up and walked away. He sighed and shook his head. He knew that this year was going to be rough, with all the students looking at him and the ministry denying that Voldemort was back, but to top it all off he was going to have to deal with Cho and the obligation he felt. He needed to tell her about the night in the Graveyard and what really happened to Cedric. He knew that the images one's mind played out were much worse than the reality. Shaking his head again, he decided to tackle that problem when the opportunity presented itself.
Outside Xander had his sword out and was currently walking among the remains of the creatures. He would stab one every now and then making sure it was really dead. As Xander was pulling the point of the sword from the chest of one of the 'shaman' type he heard a voice behind him.
“I think it's dead already,” said the voice as Xander turned to see a young witch with pink hair with blue tips standing there, “but if it makes you feel better, than by all means.”
“Can't be too careful.” said Xander grinning at her and holding out his unoccupied hand. “Name's Xander Harris.”
“Nymphadora Tonks,” she said with a grimace at her first name. “But I prefer it if everyone just calls me Tonks.”
“No problem on that.” said Xander as he picked up the body and tossed it onto the cart that the Ministry had set up to transport the carcasses for study and identification.
[Not that it would help much] thought Xander grimly. Working with Giles and Buffy for a long time, he knew most of the demons that were around, and he had not seen anything like this in any of the Watcher Council books, even the dustiest and most ancient of tomes.
“So what do you think these things are?” said Tonks as she picked up a body and tossed it onto the cart as well.
“No idea” said Xander “And that is saying much, seeing that I work with a Slayer.”
“So you are the one that Albus hired that has Fudge's knickers all twisted.” chuckled Tonks. “I would suggest you stay out of the way of the Minister for the time being.”
“Thanks for the heads up.” said Xander “But why would a couple of Muggles and Wicca from sunny California give major wiggins to the Minister of Magic?”
“Well let's see: One, you ARE Muggles. Two, there is a Self-taught Witch among you. Three, you are Yanks from California,” said Tonks with a grin counting of each point with a finger. “The minister of magic believes that only witches and wizards should teach magic and if they teach at such a prestigious school such as Hogwarts they should be of pureblood families.”
“Ahhhh.” said Xander. “But I take it that is not all that is bugging him?” Tonks nodded her head and sighed a bit.
“The minister is paranoid that people are after his job and all the talk of You-Know-Who being back is making him look incompetent...”
“Which feeds the paranoia.” said Xander “And I take it that the Ministry is denying that Voldemort is back?”
“Unfortunately yes.” said Hermione as she came outside. “It doesn't help that the Daily Prophet is painting Harry as a attention seeking maniac.”
“People here actually take what the papers print at face value?” asked Xander incredulously as Hermoine and Tonks nodded. “Ever hear of the old adage: Never believe the media?”
“Unfortunately, here in Britain we believe the media.” said Tonks.
“Especially the gossip sections of the newspaper.” said Hermione with a wry grin, remembering all the trouble those sections of the papers caused her and Harry last year.
Faith was at the other end of Diagon Alley, helping the Aurors bring the lone remaining Death Eater, Avery, to the Leaky Cauldron where the ministry had set up a temporary headquarters. Quite a few of the Aurors were chuckling at the ingenuity of Bill Weasley and his skill at trapping the Death Eater, who was wrapped like a mummy when they opened the Sarcophagus.
“Well, at least we don't have to immobilize him.” said Kingsley Shaklebolt, one of the aurors, with a chuckle as he floated the Sarcophagus in front of him.
“Yeah, makes things much easier.” said Faith “So who's the one all 'Jackson Pollok' on the wall over there.”
“That would have been Nott.” said Kingsley. “A pretty fair opponent, but he also suffered from tunnel vision. That's how we got the drop on him the last time, though he did get away.”
“Not so lucky this time around, huh?” said Faith with a smirk. “So who was the big guy who did that?”
“That would have been Hagrid.” said Kingsley “Nice enough guy and really a gentle giant.. right up till you try to purposely hurt the kids or one of his creatures. Though if you ask me most of his creatures can take care of themselves.”
“How so?” asked Faith as they made their way towards the Cauldron. She nodded to Xander and nodded towards the second floor of the Inn. Xander nodded and went back to piling carcasses onto the wagon.
“Well, let's put it this way.” said Kingsley grinning a little “The bigger and more dangerous the creature, the more cuddy and cute he thinks it is.” Faith nodded and filed that information away. She noticed that many of the people in the Cauldron looked in their direction and started whispering amongst themselves and pointed at Faith. She could guess at what they were getting on about, she just shook her head as they climbed the stairs. She knew that it would only get worse when the Scoobies got to Hogwarts.
“Well, here he is, Minister.” said Kinsgley as he floated the trapped Death Eater into the center of the room and turned to leave.
“Very good, Kingsley.” said Fudge as he eyed the man wearing the mask warily, in spite of the fact that his arms were tied tightly to his side and that his wand was being twirled like a drumstick by Faith. Upon seeing the Slayer he turned to Albus and gestured towards her with his chin. “I don't think we should discuss this matter before the Muggle.”
“I think she and her friends should be included in this, Cornelius.” said Amelia Bones the head of MLE “They were instrumental in keeping the creatures from moving deeper into Diagon Alley.”
“Quite right.” said Albus “they and the students were responsible for preventing any deaths, which above all is a remarkable feat.”
“Fine, fine” said Fudge with a hint of distaste in his voice. “But only her, seeing that she is the Slayer, no others.”
“Very well.” said Albus with a sigh and gestured for Faith to close the door. She nodded and closed the door with a click and then leaned against it and stood out of the way. She knew when to lie low, especially when the one sending out the negative vibes was the highest ranking person in the room.
“Well, then Avery.” said Fudge as he walked over to the Death Eater “tell us what all this is about.....”
Willow was rushing around on the ground floor helping where she could, checking on bandages and administering potions and salves to wounds when needed. It would have been easier work to do, if she wasn't being followed around by a gaggle of Hogwarts students, and quite a few Aurors, trying to learn how she did what she did earlier without the aid of a wand.
All she could do was shake her head and sigh. She looked over to Bill who was watching all of this happen and he just shrugged and shook his head with a smile. Willow just looked at him and stuck out her tongue then turned back to helping the Medi-witches. She rushed past Ron and Hermione who were standing next to the bar and trying to stay out of the way as much as possible.
“Harry did good out there didn't he?” asked Ron as he watched the flock of students trying to talk to Willow as she rushed off to help.
“Very well.” said Hermione as she took a drink from her bottle of butterbeer. “Nice to know that all of the studying he put in last year for the Tournament is finally paying off.”
“Poor Willow,” said Ginny as she walked over to her best friend and brother.
“Tell me about it.” said Ron “They're acting like rude little snot rags. I mean we weren't this bad in our first year, were we?” he asked Hermione taking a sip from his bottle of butterbeer as well.
“Well, it's not everyday that you see someone take down a mean little snot of a demon, then force three Death Eaters to turn tail and run.” said Hermoine.
“Plus she did it without a wand or breaking a sweat as well.” said Ginny.
“She's going to be more popular than Harry when she gets to school.” said Ron with a chuckle “I think our DADA classes are going to be extremely interesting this year.”
Xander, having dumped the last demon onto the wagon, was heading up the stairs and was looking forward to a nice long shower. As he reached the top of the stairs he saw Faith coming out of the room and was heading over to him. Her face was grim and he immediately knew the questioning of 'Mr. Roboto' had gone less than well. He raised his eyebrows and she just shook her head.
“They have to take him to the Ministry in order to question him further. They don't have any of their vaunted truth serum here.” said Faith.
“I take it you don't like this arrangement?” asked Xander with a whisper.
“No. Everything about the Minister just wigs me out.” said Faith as she looked over her shoulder and saw Dumbledore and Fudge step out into the hall. She held out her hand to quiet Xander's next question and tuned her enhanced hearing towards the conversation between the two opposing forces.
=Well you heard it from a Death Eater himself, Cornelius.= said Dumbledore with a sigh as he gestured back towards the room. =Avery himself said with his own breath that Voldemort is back.=
=That means nothing at all, Albus.= said Fudge with a hint of indignation in his voice. =You know well that he could be controlled by the Imperius curse to say that!=
=Why would anyone want to make a person say that?= asked Dumbledore.
=I have a few ideas..= said Fudge.
=I will not get into that debate again, Minister.= said Dumbledore with a voice that suggested that avenue of discussion was over with. =You said you had other, more pressing, matters to deal with?=
=Quite right.= said Fudge moving on to the other thing that was bothering him. =I told you before Dumbledore, I do not approve of how you are running that school.= said Fudge.
=That may be the case, but the school governors agree that I am the best one suited for the job.= said Albus. =You may petition them to remove me, or any of the other staff, from office, but that will take time and I abhor having a changing of the guard midway through the term.=
=I know that, but I think I have a course of action that may be acceptable to both of us.= said Fudge =I do have the power to appoint anyone I see fit to observe the classes being taught and they will send those findings to me.=
=Then at such time we will be able to decide on what is best for all of the students?= asked Albus.
=Of course, but if they do find something that is so blatantly wrong I'll have no choice but to send decrees correcting the problem immediately.= warned Fudge.
=I would expect no less, Minister= said Dumbledore. =If you will excuse me now, I have to get the school ready for the start of term.= the Minister nodded and both Wizards Disapperated with a pop.
“I think we need to find the Weasleys and Willow.” said Faith with a sigh. “I think there's going to be one big wrinkle at school this year.”
“When is anything concerning school and us ever smooth?” said Xander “But first I need to shower.”
“Need help scrubbing your back?” asked Faith with a playful grin on her face. A grin which turned almost predatory when she saw Xander start to blush. Xander was very familiar with that grin and knew what she was like after a fight.
“Sure...” and they both headed off to find someplace semi private.
Voldemort along with his death eaters were watching the fight as it was projected out from the top of the orb. It was an eye opening revelation as to how a Slayer and the Muggle worked together. Make it worse the Mudblood Granger and the Weasleys were also involved. Their small group made them almost unbeatable.
“This is not good M'Lord.” said Mulciber “They move like a cohesive unit. Beating them will be most difficult.”
“That they will Mulciber, but I think that you are looking forward to such an event?” asked the Dark Lord.
“With enthusiasm, M'Lord.”
“Do not fret you will get your turn soon enough,” said Voldemort as he watched the Muggle behead one of the shamans and spin around and then impale one of the sword wielders. “But when you do, I hope to have some of the 'old crowd' with you.”
“It would be nice to work with Bellatrix again.” said McNair as he too watched the fight. “It is comforting to know that they have not yet discovered the nature of the sword that they are carrying.”
“Small comfort in that, though I think that will change once they get to Hogwarts and have access to Dumbledore's personal library.” said Malfoy nursing the sore spot on his head.
“Too true.” said Voldemort.
“My lord I beg to be allowed to go after the Muggles again.”
“And you will, Malfoy.” said Voldemort as he watched the redheaded witch take out Rakanishu and two Crabbe and Malfoy. “though I think it will have to wait till I can conjure something a bit tougher.”
“Of course My Lord.” said Malfoy as the the rest of the Death Eaters present gasped in astonishment at the feat they saw Willow do. Then they started to grumble at the prospect of having to take her on.
“My my my. Now that is a confrontation that should prove to be quite interesting.” said Voldemort as he stretched in his chair and tapped the orb with his wand. “You will not have to face her alone, for when the time comes I will stand at you side.”
“Oh you have got to be kidding me.” said Harry as he let out a small groan when he heard Faith recount what her enhanced hearing heard. “Now we got Fudge's little puppet coming in to breath down our necks.”
“I agree, how are we supposed to accomplish anything with whoever he has picked sitting in all of our classes?” asked Hermione. “As soon as this person finds something objectionable they'll put a halt to it at once.”
“And you can bet top dollar that DADA will be at the top of the hit list.” said Xander. “You all know that this is in response to the the three of us being hired to teach you know.”
“Maybe Dumbledore will figure something out to get around this little snag.” said Willow. “A legal loophole or something similar.”
“Doubt it.” said Ginny as she sat between Hermione and Harry. “He is the minister after all. He probably has his whole staff looking into the legality of this and to the decrees he will send down the line.”
Xander shook his head and put his head into his hands and elbows onto the table and began to think things through. The more and more he heard about Fudge the more and more he reminded him of Snyder. If it was at all possible a lightbulb would have appeared over Xanders head as the comparison hit him. Xander looked at Willow and they both grinned.
“This will just be like High School, eh Wills?” asked Xander with one of his Zeppo-like grins.
“Oh yeah.” said Willow with similar grin. “But this time we're teachers as well.” Faith picked up on the train of thought and grinned as well.
“I hope Hogwarts has a large utility budget.” and all three Scoobies grinned.
Later that night Xander was standing watch near the top of the stairs when he heard a sound come from behind him. He, the Scoobies and a few select Aurors were watching over the students that were staying at the Cauldron overnight before they headed to King's Cross the next day. He grabbed the hilt of the sword that was leaning on the wall next to him and turned to face the noise. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it was one of the teachers walking towards him. The stern features of the elderly witch that was walking towards him gave her away as on Professor Minerva McGonagal. She nodded to him before she spoke.
“Mr. Harris, why are you up at this hour.” she chided him not unkindly. “You need your rest. Tomorrow is a big day after all.” Xander shook his head and looked back down the hall then turned his attention back to the stairs.
“I've been up later than this on patrol.” he said and shook his head. “I'll get some rest in about an hour. Faith's turn” he explained when Prof McGonagal raised her eyebrows at that statement.
“I see. Though I would think that the Aurors that are standing guard are more than enough, Mr. Harris.” said Minerva.
“True but in our experience we sleep better when one of us is standing watch in a place where vamps can enter easily.” said Xander as he heard the door down the hall creak open and grinned when he heard the familiar clomping of Faith's favorite boots make their way down the hall.
“I understand, Professor Harris.” she said nodding her head and remembering what it was like when Voldemort was at the height of his power. She and many of the Hogwarts staff did much the same on many a night. “Though I hope this is a habit that will not continue once you are at school.” Now it was Xander's turn to raise his eyebrows in question.
“The wards we have surrounding the school make it quite difficult for a dark creature or a person with malicious intent towards any of the students to make it onto the grounds.” said Minerva. “Especially after the events of last year.” Xander nodded and passed the watch over to Faith as she took Xander's place at the head of the stairs.
“Good night Professors” said Minerva as she headed down the stairs to Floo back to Hogwarts.
“You know I don't think I will ever get used to having someone call me 'Professor'.” said Faith with a smirk.
“Amen to that sister.” said Xander as he headed back to his room choosing to ignore the whispers coming from the room that currently housed Harry and Ron. Xander knew sleep would not come easy for many of the students tonight.
“What do you think of that, Harry?” asked Ron as he sat on his bed not tired one bit.
“Think of what, Ron?” asked Harry with just a hint of exasperation in his voice. Unlike Ron you see, Harry wanted to get up close and personal with his pillow.
“Malfoy actually fighting alongside us?” said Ron. Harry wasn't expecting that question and sat up on his bed a bit straighter.
“I don't know what to think of it,” said Harry “but I think it might be because those creatures didn't make any distinction between the houses.” Ron was about to open his mouth, most likely to make a cutting remark about that, but Harry cut him off.
“Remember Zambini?” asked Harry. Blaise Zambini and the group of Slytherins she had been with, had been some of the first people attacked by the creatures, and if it hadn't been for the quick actions by Lee Jordan and the Twins, she might have been killed.
“Oh, err. Right.” mumbled Ron as he remembered as well. “Makes sense then. But still at the side of Neville?”
“Probably an ally of convenience.” said Harry simply as he lay down on his bed. “We can talk about this on the train, Ron.” and with that Harry turned over and went to sleep.
“Yeah, but still...” said Ron as he lay down as well.
A puff of green flame and Xander tumbled out of the fireplace and landed in a heap on the floor of the Faculty lounge at Hogwarts. Faith helped him to get to his feet and dusted off his clothing as he looked around at the assembled staff as they greeted their newest members. He saw the ridiculously attired Sybill Trelawny in her sideshow getup and overly large glasses. He was also introduced to the diminutive professor Flitwik who squeaked out in delight at having them there. But the one that stood out in all three scoobies minds was Professor Severus Snape. He was everything that the students had told them about: A greasy, slimy, smirking git of the first order. Or, as Sirius described him: Snivilus.
“Well it looks as though we had to scrape the bottom of the keg for DADA teachers this year.” said Snape as he eyed the three Scoobies with a disgusted eye. Faith stiffened and was about to give Snape a piece of her Bostonian 'tude, when Xander's hand touched Faith's wrist in an warning gesture. Her fist clenched open and closed a few times before she turned away from the Potions Master and went over to meet Hagrid. Snape was about to continue onto his attack but a glance from Dumbledore silenced him, a glance that went unnoticed by most except for Xander. He knew what he was about to do was childish, but no one got away with insulting him or his friends.
“What's wrong Professor?” asked Xander standing his ground. “Must really goad you that three Muggles and a Self-taught witch got picked over you, huh?”
“Oh Please,” said Snape “I won't get sucked into taking part in this childish pastime.”
“Really?' asked Xander with mock incredulity “If I am not mistaken you were the one who sent out the first volley.” Most of the teachers were watching the exchange with a sense of trepidation, all except for Dumbledore who sat in his chair with a slight smile on his face.
“Only stating what is true.” sneered Snape “If it wasn't for the fact that Lupin was here as well, I would be forced...”
“Severus!” said Minerva in a stern voice. “That is enough!”
“No, Professor McGonagal.” said Willow in barely concealed rage. “Let him speak his mind.”
“Yeah I want to know what his problem with us is.” said Faith. “Other than the obvious.”
“I don't see what a couple of Muggles and a Mudblood,” he said this pointing at Willow with a hint of disgust on his face “could possibly teach to young wizards and witches in Defense against the Dark Arts.” Xander bristled at the word 'Mudblood' even though he didn't know what the word meant it was clearly an insult directed at his lifelong friend.
“You'll find that we have a lot to bring to the table, unlike you who seem to have no other talents than brewing up potions and scaring students,” Xander just smirked and sent out his sucker punch “Snivelus.”
The response was inevitable. Snape could take being called that by Sirius Black but to know that he let someone else know what his nickname had been in school was intolerable. Snape reached for his wand and whipped it out, but unfortunately for him, Xander was moving before he could point it at the intolerable Muggle. Closing the distance, Xander pushed his hand up against the elbow of Snapes wand arm, thus keeping the wand pointed away from him. Snape, not versed in the mechanics and physics of such a move, was trying to push Xander away and bring his wand to bear. He was so intent on this, he failed to notice Faith come up behind him. Faith grabbed Snape around his legs and picked him up and dropped him to the ground on his back in a Biana takedown and then placed her leg in between his and then twisted so that she was off to the side and then leaned back trapping one of his legs between hers. She applied the pressure and thus put Snape into a modified knee bar. As Snape felt the pain shoot up his leg he brought his wand up and was ready to hit Faith with a curse he felt a spell slam into him making him go limp for a fraction of a second. It was enough to make him drop his wand, which then flew into the hands of Willow.
“Any doubt as to our abilities?” asked Xander, who was standing over Snape giving him his best impersonation of his own smirk.
Snape was about to let them what he thought about their abilities in rather rude terms, but Faith leaned back a bit more and pushed up against his knee and he just grimaced and shook his head.
“Good boy.” said Xander and took a step away as Faith let go of his leg and got back to her feet by way of a handspring. Willow just smirked at him and tossed him his wand and the three looked at Dumbledore.
“We'll leave now if you wish, Headmaster.” said Willow softly.
“No, I don't think that will be necessary Miss Rosenberg.” said Albus. “It is good to see that magic and Muggle styles of fighting can work in concert. I think that will work to our advantage when we have a confrontation with Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Don't you think Severus.” Snape could only nod as he got to his feet and flexed his leg a bit, making sure that Faith hadn't broken anything.
“Now that we have had our fill of excitement for the day, I think that we should continue with the tour of the castle.” said Albus. “Though I will do it personally, for I think I can answer most of their questions rather well.” he said with a wink towards Scoobies, who for their part, hid the shock they were feeling rather well.
The Scoobies followed the Headmaster of the lounge after saying their goodbyes to the rest of the staff. He pointed out certain things to his newest staff members, letting them know of the secret defenses that permeated the school from the suits of armor and the statues that would come to life to defend the students, the the stairs that would purposely turn into slides to hinder the progress of an invader and finally to the portraits that acted as an early warning system.
Xander just whistled at the system and grinned. Faith and Willow were also equally impressed and had a feeling that anyone who tried to take over the school by force was in for an ugly surprise.
“Headmaster?” asked Willow in a shy voice. “We know about Fudge's little puppet who is going to be part of the ministry presence here at the school.” Dumbledore looked at them from over his shoulder and grinned.
“That is good to hear.” he said the last word with a slight emphasis and gave Faith a smirk before he went on. “And I am guessing that you want to know if there is a place that you can practice and train some of the skills that she might find objectionable, hmmm?” All three Scoobies nodded.
“Yeah, even though I think we would only use it infrequently at best.” said Xander. “Though in my experience, it is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
“Quite right Professor.” said Dumbledore. “I think that this room will do just find, even though I do have to admit I have a great urge for some tea right about now.” said Dumbledore as the three Scoobies looked at him with rather confused expressions on their faces. They had been warned that the elderly head of Hogwarts was prone to say the most random of things at equally random moments, but when he opened the door to the room they suddenly realized what he was saying. Inside the room were shelves upon shelves of... teapots.
Severus was sitting in the Hospital Wing having Poppy look at his knee. Normally he would do this alone but Minerva had accompanied him, if only to chide him for baiting the muggles the way he did.
“Severus, I cannot believe your nerve for calling Professor Rosenberg a.. a...” said Minerva not baing able to bring herself to say such a disgusting word.
“Believe me, Minnie,” said Snape as he sat on the edge of the bed trying to keep his leg as still as possible. “I'm regretting it as well. Though it is nice to see that Figgy and Dung were telling the truth about him and the Slayer.”
“Yes they do make a good team don't they.” said Minerva rubbing her chin thoughtfully, remembering how Xander had maneuvered Severus into a line of attack for Faith, while giving Willow a clear shot as well. Snape smirked and nodded as well.
“I think Dumbledore, despite my misgivings, mind you.” said Snape standing up and taking a few tentative steps. “Made a good choice in the matters of the DADA position this year.” With that he walked out leaving a gaping Minerva McGonagal watching him leave.
“So let me get this straight.” said Willow as she, Faith and Xander all headed down to the DADA classroom to meet with Remus. “All we have to do is think about what we need really hard, walk in front of that tapestry three times and the room appears with everything we need?”
“Yep. Sounds about right.” said Xander as the reached the door to the DADA classroom.
“So if Xander and I need a place to...” began Faith, but she never got farther than that, for Xander placed his hand over her mouth and gave Willow, who was turning a deep shade of scarlet, a sweet smile and opened the door....
...To be greeted by the site of Remus who was busy scowling at a short, dumpy and rather sinister looking woman standing there.
[Dammit, she's here already.] Thought Willow as they waited for Remus to make the rather unpleasant introductions. Remus looked up and grinned when he saw his assistant instructors and gestured for them to take a seat.
“Evening Remus.” said Faith in a pleasant voice as she took her seat and glanced at the lady sitting there and gave her a pleasant nod. Xander followed suit and as soon as they were all seated Remus introduced her.
“Willow, Xander, Faith. This is Dolores Umbridge.....”
Meanwhile on the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Ginny were sitting in a compartment waiting for Hermione and Ron to return from the Prefect meeting being held near the front of the train. Sharing their compartment was a fourth year Ravenclaw named Luna Lovegood, who by all accounts was a bit odd but rather likeable regardless. Though at the moment she had her wand stuck behind her ear and she was reading the Quibbler magazine upside-down. Ginny and Harry for the most part ignored her and let her read her magazine in peace.
“So what do you think that they are discussing up there?” asked Ginny as she turned her attention to the Boy-Who-Lived.
“Dunno, but I'm willing to bet that some of it has to be what has been happening lately.” said Harry as he suppressed a shudder at the memory of the past few weeks. Ginny also shivered at the memories and shook her head.
“Well at least we'll be at Hogwarts.” said Harry, “At least there we're going to be protected as well as we're going to be.” Ginny nodded and looked out of the window at the passing countryside.
“That is true.” Said Luna from behind her magazine, “But whoever is summoning those creatures might be able to get them past the wards at the school.” Both Harry and Ginny turned to look at the Ravenclaw as she placed her magazine down on the seat next to her. Harry just looked at her for a few moments before he sighed and nodded his head in agreement. Despite Luna’s love of the off-beat and her obsession with the ridiculous articles in the Quibbler she didn’t get into Ravenclaw for nothing.
“And if he did find a way through you can rest assured that He would send in enough to overwhelm the staff as well as Dumbledore.” Said Ginny with a sigh. Harry was about to add something to that when the door to the compartment slid open and in stepped Ron and Hermione wearing their shiny Prefect badges.
“So how was the meeting?” asked Harry with just the hint of jealousy in his voice.
“Fine, though you won’t want to believe who the Slytherin Prefect is this year.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that they made Malfoy a Prefect?” asked Harry in shock. This year was just getting better and better by the minute.
“Did someone mention my name?” asked Malfoy from the doorway to the compartment.
“No we didn’t.” said Harry, “If we were talking about you we would have said ‘Ferret-boy’.” Hermione and Ginny both hid their smirks rather well but Ron was sniggering uncontrollably.
“Be careful, you two!” snarled Malfoy, pointing at Harry and Ron “I’ve been made a Prefect this year and that means I can dock you house points even before we get to school.”
“Yes, but unlike us you are a git.” Said Harry with a smirk “So go away before I taunt you a second time!” Malfoy, who didn’t get the reference, just looked as though he was daring Harry Potter to do so. But upon seeing Harry smile at the prospect of actually doing what he threatened, thought better of it and turned to look for Crabbe and Goyle.
“Oh god, Harry!” said Hermione through her fit of laughter when Malfoy had left. “I can’t believe you actually used that line!” Harry was trying not to laugh as well and instead tried to concentrate on opening his chocolate frog box.
“Well, unfortunately the reference was lost on Ferret-boy.” Said Harry with a shrug. Ron was looking a bit disappointed when Malfoy stormed out of the compartment and felt a need to voice his opinion on the fact.
“To bad he left, I was looking forward to taunting him some more.” Said Ron completely oblivious to the reference. Harry and Hermione just looked at Ron for a full minute before breaking out into laughter again. Ginny just looked at her brother and shook her head before she dissolved into a fit of giggles herself. You see unlike Ron she was well versed in the Muggle comedic troupe of Monty Python.
Luna for her part went back to reading her magazine, though it did look like she was shaking slightly.
Willow and the others walked out of the DADA room with thunderstorms raging around in their heads. They had just gotten through with their first meeting with Dolores Umbridge, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and they didn’t like what they heard.
“Who does she think she is, dictating to us what constitutes ‘proper teaching’!” raged Willow in ill concealed rage. “If I had less control over myself I would have shoved my wand. . .”
“Down, girl.” Said Faith as she walked next to Willow. “You don’t have to tell us, we were there with ya, remember?”
“Besdies,” said Xander as they walked towards their rooms to get changed for the welcoming feast. “I think Remus was going to do that and worse but thought better of it.” But the subject of Remus brought up even stronger feelings from the redheaded witch
“And who the hell does she think she is talking only to us when Remus is the Professor in charge of DADA this year.” Snarled Willow. “I mean it’s not his fault that he’s a werewolf. And to think that she kept dropping hints about pieces of legislation that would ‘affect not only his future but that of the children as well’!”
“Yeah it’s pretty Orwellian if you ask me.” Said Faith remembering the time she had picked up and read Xander’s copy of 1984 and the way Fudge and Umbridge were running the school had some spooky parallels with the book. Xander nodded and was deep in thought about jus how to counter Umbridge and then counter her counters as well.
“If you ask me I think it might be time to start planning our little resistance movement as soon as possible if you ask me.” Said Xander. “Maybe we should get the ‘Fantastic Four’ involved. . .”
“Yeah, I bet Hermione could come up with something.” Said Faith as they reached the staircase that lead to the suite of rooms that they would be sharing during their little stay at Hogwarts.
“Calm down, Willow.” Said Xander “We’ll out fox her and then some. . . After all she’s only a petty, mean-spirited politician.” Willow could only nod and sighed clenching and unclenching her fists trying to calm down a bit. Strangely enough it worked and by the time they had changed and entered the hall, which was being prepared for the feast, Willow was calm enough to fight the desire to throw all the curses, hexes and nasty little spells she knew at Umbridge when she saw her.
Harry and the others jumped off of the Hogwarts express and were making their way towards the carriages that were waiting to take the older students up to the school.
“Hark, there yonder lies Hogwarts.” Said Harry gesturing towards the imposing stone works of the School.
“It’s only a model.” Said Ginny shaking her head. She tried to hide a smile as Luna started to hum the song and dance number from the Camelot scene from the Holy Grail.
“Let’s not go there,” said Hermione “’Tis a silly place.” Ron just looked at the three of them and shook his head.
“Are you guys sure you’re not on the mickey?” said Ron as he climbed into the waiting coach. Harry was climbing into one as well, but stopped when he saw the dark winged horses pulling the coaches. They weren’t there last time he rode from the school to the train station. He turned to look at the others and point out the horses when Luna shook her head.
“They won’t see them Harry.” She said as she took a seat in between Ron and Ginny and across from Harry and Hermione.
“Huh?” asked Ron ever so eloquently.
“There are a set of black winged horses pulling the coaches up to the school.” Said Harry gesturing toward the front of the carriage.
“Well I didn’t see anything, Harry.” Said Hermione.
“You won’t” said Luna. The others turned to look at the Ravenclaw and she sighed a little before explaining. “The horses that are pulling the carriages are called Threstrals and they are only visible to those who have seen death.”
“That’s bull!” said Ron looking at Luna “I saw the remains of Harry’s relatives when I went with my father to rescue Harry.”
“Did you see them die?” asked Hermione quietly as she recalled the information on Thestrals from ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
“No.” said Ron looking at the Harry and Luna carefully “but what has that got to do with seeing invisible horses.”
“They’re only seen by those that have witnessed a death.” Said Hermione.
“I saw my parents killed by Voldemort.” Said Harry making all, except Luna, twitch in fear at the name. “Not to mention Cedric being killed by Wormtail.”
“I saw my mother die when I was younger.” She said quietly.
“If that’s the case then I never want to see them.” Said Ginny quietly but deep down on the inside something told her that wish wasn’t going to come true. Harry tuned out the conversation the others were having and turned his head to look out the window of the carriage and felt all his worries disappear as he and the others crossed through the gates and onto the one place where Harry felt safe.
Xander was sitting at the head table in the main hall waiting for the students to finally sit down and get on with the Sorting ceremony. He had heard some of the more interesting tales of the more ‘lively’ sortings that have taken place over the years. Though it did make Xander worry that some of the students in certain houses didn’t belong there and would have done better somewhere else. I mean what would happen if a person got sorted into Slytherin if they really belonged in Hufflepuff or Gryffindor?
Xander was so lost in thought that he didn’t notice that the hat had finished it’s song and the sorting was almost halfway through, but Faith nudged him and pointed at the students that were gathered in the hall. Most of them weren’t paying attention to the sorting they were paying more attention to the Scoobies.
“Looks like we’ve been made boy-toy.” Whispered Faith into his ear and he nodded a little ruefully as he watched the students whisper amongst them selves trying to figure out why the witch and the Muggles who had played a key role in saving their skins in Diagon Alley were now sitting up at the head table as though they belonged there.
“Excluding the weasley kids, Harry and Hermione, who do you think is going to put two and two together first?” asked Xander
“Twenty Galleons on Hufflepuff.” Said Willow.
“Nah, it’s gotta be Gryffindor.” Said Faith.
“so sorry to disappoint all of you,” squeaked out Professor Flitwick as he pointed to his House’s table. “But I think Ravenclaw go there first.” Sure enough the Ravenclaws were pointing towards them and then at professor Lupin and started to talk excitedly passing their best guess up and down the tables.
“Now, now Professors.” Said Lupin chiding them all. “I thought Gambling was prohibited on School grounds.”
“It is, but seeing as how mo money has traded hands.” Said Willow with a sweet smile to the older wizard. Lupin had to laugh a bit at that and had to admit that this little group could bend the rules and out logic most anyone. He had a feeling that this year was going to be very interesting. Very interesting indeed.
A/N: Sorry for the slightly choppy chapter and the length of time it took me to get thie chapter up, but with the introduction of book 5 I’m trying to figure out how much canon to add to the story. Also don’t worry, Umbridge will have much to take Umbrage :P over during the next few chapters. Much Cameos, guest appearances in the future.
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