Chapter 1 : The Interview
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"Ah, Fawkes, I think it’s time", Albus Dumbledore said to his Phoenix, slipping his strange golden watch back inside his pocket.
The scarlet and gold bird turned his beady eyes towards him, blinked and chirped, as if he knew all about his master’s reluctance.
Oh, he does, the wizard thought fondly, his light blue eyes bright and sparkling behind his half-moon spectacles. They crinkled when he smiled reassuringly to the Phoenix. He does.
Dumbledore stood up behind his desk, sighing inwardly, and smoothed his long robes. It wouldn’t do to be late, of course. He waved his wand silently and the odd apparatus he had been studying stopped clicking, whirring and puffing.
Dumbledore put on his purple cloak and left his office, feeling the eyes of the Headmasters and Headmistresses of old following him. One day, he too would have his portrait on one of the walls of this room. He too would feign to snooze most of the day and debate about the running of the school with the living headmaster or headmistress. Like they had just done.
Once Headmaster of Hogwarts, forever Headmaster of Hogwarts, he told himself wrily.
Dumbledore made his way to the front door, unseen. When he chose to, he could walk as silently as a cat, the heels of his buckled boots making no noise on the stone floor of the corridors. It was cold outside, and damp – no doubt it would rain when he returned from Hogsmead.
He crossed the grounds, turning his back to the Forbidden Forest. The long boughs of the Whomping Willow were rustling in the wind.
The old Divination teacher had seen in his cristal ball that he was about to retire, and as Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore had to do his duty. So he would meet that young woman, Sybill Trelawney. She had applied for the job of Divination teacher, and though he was tempted to put an end to the teaching of that subject at Hogwarts, he had told himself it was only common politeness to see her. After all, her great-great-grandmother had been a very gifted Seer.
The night was falling. The sunset must have been glorious, but dark and heavy clouds obscured the sky.
The weather mirrors our world.
Something was brewing. Dumbledore was no Seer, but he knew it. In fact, he knew far more than he was supposed to. He had tried to share those informations with the Ministry of Magic, to warn them, but they wouldn’t listen to him.
You can’t make people see the truth if they don’t want to, he thought, sighing again, aloud this time.
Of course, he knew it was not easy for them to cover up for the strange deaths and disappearances. As with any secret, this one was not so secret anymore, after a decade. People knew there was something very wrong, but the majority chose not to see. And the more they waited before they opened their eyes… The dreaded Dark Mark had appeared above too many wizarding houses since the beginning of the war. For it was a war. Everyone suspected everyone to be one of the hooded and masked figures that emerged sometimes from the night to strike like serpents spewed out from the pits of Hell: the Death Eaters. They were the followers…
More like servants.
… of the one they called the Dark Lord. Even they didn’t dare to address him by his name anymore: Voldemort.
The self-styled Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore thought. You’ve always been ashamed of your Muggle ancestry, haven’t you, Tom? But for me, you will always be Tom Marvolo Riddle.
The rest of the wizarding community spoke in whispers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. But Dumbledore wasn’t afraid to say his name aloud – at least, he wasn’t afraid for himself, but he was for both worlds, his own and the Muggles’s. He had taught him, when Tom came to Hogwarts. At the time, some thirty seven years before, Dumbledore was the Transfiguration teacher. He alone saw what kind of a person young Tom Riddle was. So he kept an eye on him. And at the beginning, he tried to talk to him. He thought that maybe – yes, maybe – it wasn’t too late. But Tom did his best to avoid him. Of course, Dumbledore never caught him doing anything bad or wrong, but he could not help but suspect that Tom was to blame for the strange things that were happening at Hogwarts.
And then poor Myrtle died. I should probably have talked when I had the opportunity – before Tom Riddle came to Hogwarts. I should have warned the staff, told them what I had been a witness to… But I chose to give Tom his chance, and then it was too late…
Dumbledore lifted his head, astonishment breaking his train of thoughts – why was he thinking about that, all of a sudden? – and saw the sign of the Hog’s Head. He quickened his pace and heard it creak in the wind.
I should have chosen the Three Broomsticks, he thought.
The Hog’s Head was as sinister and dirty as the Three Broomsticks was warm and clean. A strong smell of goats assaulted him when he opened the door.
The grumpy-looking bartender, an old man as tall and thin as he was himself, saw him come in. Albus Dumbledore nodded to his brother, Aberforth, and Aberforth discretly pointed his bearded chin in the direction of the back stairs. Dumbledore crossed the room without paying much attention to the customers, whose faces were lit only by the stubs of candles put on the tables, and started to climb the groaning steps. There was a room, above the bar. He had sent an owl to his brother, with a note saying :
Would you be so kind as to install a young woman named Sybill Trelawney in the room above the bar? I need to talk to her in private, and I can’t do that here, at Hogwarts – she’s applied for the job of Divination teacher, and I don’t want to give her too much hope.
I am, yours most sincerely,
For once, Aberforth had followed his directives.
A/N: This is my first ever fanfic, so please, R/R!
Thanks to JK Rowling for having created the Potterverse for us to play in - and mess things up.
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