Chapter 13 : Rumors and Facts
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Professor McGonagall watched as the people left after the funeral. She motioned for the teachers to wait before going into the castle. It had been more than a little unsettling to watch the castle changing itself about like that. The Aurors remained where they were until Minister Scrimgeour and Umbridge and Percy disappeared. Then they disappeared also. She ignored the hushed gossiping, though she had a hard time faulting them for that. She couldn’t recall a funeral where anything like what had happened today had occurred.
She stopped short in the entrance hall. The other teachers gasped with alarm and surprise. The big hourglasses holding the House’s points had moved. Gryffindor and Slytherin were on the outside. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw kept them apart.
She motioned for the teachers to continue to their offices. “Check your offices and classrooms.” The teachers nodded as they pulled out their wands, waving it now and then as they drifted away. She was certain that they would make certain everything was still fine and in working order.
She turned her attention to the hourglasses. This could be the least strange thing to have happened today, though she was curious about what happened elsewhere in the castle. When she turned to go to her office, she noticed a painting sitting nearby who looked more than a little put out. “What happened?”
The lady in the painting looked at her with a pained look. “The castle shook horribly and I found myself here.”
Professor McGonagall frowned. It appeared she needed to check to see what else had happened before she went to her office. During her inspection, she noticed more than one painting that looked different as she walked by. They were easy to spot because the subjects in the paintings looked very disgruntled. The other paintings, the ones that had stayed in place, only looked confused. She thought some of the suits of armor were in different locations, but she dismissed them as they could easily walk about.
She finally made her way to her office. She gasped when she entered. Not one Portrait was in the same spot. Her desk was in a different location; again as if it had always been there. The Portraits watched her with dismay and confusion. She looked back at them after noting all the changes in her office. “What happened?” she demanded.
The Portraits fell silent.
She sat at her desk, wondering if everything inside was still as she had ordered it. She began opening drawers to find everything the same. She sighed with relief.
She looked up at one of the oldest Portraits. “Yes?”
“I believe the Guardian became of-age today,” the Portrait glanced nervously at his neighbors who were giving him dour looks.
“Who is the Guardian?” she demanded. “And why would the Guardian do this to the castle?”
The Portrait shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She gave the Portrait a piercing look. “Don’t know which? The Guardian or why the Guardian would do this to the castle?”
“I remember something similar happened back in the 1970s, wasn’t it?” Another Portrait looked around to see if others agreed with him.
“Was that?” another of the Portraits asked. “If it was, it wasn’t anything like this.” He motioned at the office.
“No, it wasn’t. Though Dumbledore thought it was rather keen at the time,” the Portrait agreed.
She found Dumbledore watching everything with amusement, “You wouldn’t happen to know who the Guardian is, would you?”
Dumbledore gave her a very long look. One filled with sadness. “The ones I suspected being Guardian are no longer. I wish not to say who I thought was Guardian.”
She sighed. “Very well, it looks like I need to straighten up in here.” She turned to the task, knowing that every teacher was doing the same thing in their offices and classrooms. As she changed her office back to how it was, she thought that she might leave some of the changes about.
Minister Scrimgeour sat at his desk, several reports stacked in front of him. He could hear arguing in from the other room where his counselors were discussing what had happened at the funeral. He had planned on reading through several reports before going home, but he couldn’t concentrate on any of the reports. There were too many questions and he didn’t have any answers. And it didn’t appear that his counselors had any answers either. He put down Percy’s report. He couldn’t help but think about what had happened at the funeral. And what had happened at Dumbledore’s funeral.
It seemed to him that all the oddness began with Dumbledore’s funeral. Certainly he had enough grief because of that funeral. All because Dumbledore had burst into flames and the smoke formed a Phoenix. Soon after, he had heard rumors concerning Dumbledore being a Phoenix.
He spoke with the wizard in charge of creating the stone crypts. “Why did you not give Dumbledore a stone crypt?”
“You’re referring to the whole pyre and smoke-Phoenix?” the wizard asked back.
“Of course! What else would I be asking about?” Minister Scrimgeour was put out by the question. “So?”
The wizard chuckled. “Wasn’t me. I was about to create the stone crypt when you saw what happened. Took me for a loop, it did.” He eyed Minister Scrimgeour. “I assure you that it wasn’t a joke.”
He still wanted to know how a person could become a Phoenix. It was beyond him to even comprehend that fact. But his counselors were quick to point out that it wasn’t what he thought about the matter, but what a growing portion of the wizarding community believed. “Do they really believe it or do they want to believe it?” He had growled to his counselors.
He had spoken with several members of the Wizengamot concerning the rumor. “Could a person actually be a Phoenix?” he had asked each one. Each time he had gotten a firm “no”. So how could people still insist that Dumbledore was a Phoenix?
He spoke with the Daily Prophet about running an article concerning what was known about Phoenixes. And the wizarding community still believed the rumor. In fact, more people started believing the rumor.
He turned to experts in order to point out the obvious. And more people believed.
Finally, he admitted defeat. He had gathered his counselors together and told them “If they wish to believe Dumbledore a Phoenix, let them.” What else could he do?
He grimaced as he recalled the last conversation he had with Mr. Potter. He had asked, yet again, for Mr. Potter’s help. Mr. Potter had declined telling him that he was still Dumbledore’s man through and through.
And now he had odd happenings during Mr. Potter’s funeral. He couldn’t recall another funeral where everything decided to act up like it had today. He wasn’t even aware of any legend for the oddities. Perhaps he should put his people to work on that? To look into the histories and see if there was any mention about what happened today?
He pushed the reports away from him because there wasn’t anything to be gained by him pretending that he could review them. They needed to figure out what happened today so that he could surprise the people with the answers they sought. He was aware that too soon the incident would be spread about the wizarding world by newspaper and rumor. People would then turn to him and clamor for answers which he didn’t have while his counselors watched helplessly.
The Weasleys were settled about the room. Fleur sat next to Bill, Hermione near Ron and Tamsin holding hands with Charlie. Remus and Tonks were also seated together. None of them looked at each other as they thought about what had happened.
“I remember when he asked ever so politely how to get to Platform 9 and 3/4s.” Molly finally said to break the uneasy silence.
Ron allowed himself a small grin at the memory. “Fred and George introduced us.”
“And we helped him get his luggage onto the train.” Fred shook his head.
“He battled a troll for me that year,” Hermione whispered. She looked shyly at Ron, “as did Ron.”
“A troll?” Remus asked with amazement.
Ron nodded, “A fully grown mountain troll. The troll had a hold of him and I knocked it out with its club.”
Bill and Charlie were impressed. “What were you doing attacking a mountain troll your first year?” Charlie asked as their mother shuddered at the memory. Professor Dumbledore had assured her that the three children were fine and the mountain troll had been taken away from Hogwarts.
“Well, we locked it in the girls’ water closet,” Ron explained quickly.
“What’s so bad about that?” Charlie asked. “Sounds reasonable and the door ought to have held.”
“I was inside that particular water closet,” Hermione shuddered at the memory of encountering the mountain troll.
Charlie blanched at the thought, “Ah.”
“So we had to rescue her,” Ron pointed out, “After all, it was our fault the mountain troll was in there.”
“And it was the time we became friends,” Hermione added.
“He made a good Seeker that year,” Fred decided to change the subject, not liking the look in his mum’s eye.
“Of course, he nearly swallowed the Snitch that first game,” George pointed out.
“After managing to stay on his broom,” Ron added.
“Why did he have problems staying on his broom?” Tonks asked. “He seemed to take to Quidditch...”
Ron, Hermione and the twins all nodded. “He’s excellent,” they assured her. “It’s just that this professor was jinxing his broom,” Ron added.
“And we thought it was Snape,” Hermione spat, “So I set his robes on fire.”
“Given what Snape did, I wish his robes really would have...” Ron started.
“So he caught the Snitch?” Bill interrupted before Ron could talk his way into trouble.
“Yeah,” Fred smiled at the memory of seeing Flint upset, “Priceless.”
“And he caught the Snitch in what?” Ron looked at the twins. “Five seconds the second game?”
The twins nodded, “Something like that.”
“That wasn’t anything like what happened at the end of the year,” Hermione shook her head.
“We heard about that,” Arthur said slowly, “How the three of you got past the three-headed dog...”
“His name is Fluffy,” Ron added bitterly, “Most certainly the worst name for that thing.”
Bill raised an eyebrow as Charlie chuckled under his breath. Molly was looking decidedly annoyed.
Arthur fought to keep a straight face, “Very well, how you three got past Fluffy and the different challenges. You realize he nearly died then?”
Ron and Hermione nodded. “But we had to keep Voldemort from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Hermione pointed out.
“Yes, well...” Arthur allowed the subject to drop, “He did save Ginny the next year.”
“Lockhart was an idiot,” Ron grumbled, “I think memory loss helped him quite a bit there.”
“Ron!” Molly protested. “That is no way to talk about a professor!”
“Lockhart wanted to erase our memories, Mum,” Ron shook his head, “So I’m not too upset that he used my wand and blew his own memories away.”
“And he was going to leave Ginny down there instead of saving her,” Hermione added.
Molly’s face darkened at the thought, “Well, he’s getting the help he needs.”
“And remember how he managed to prove Sirius’ innocence and free Bu... I mean, Witherwings?” Hermione changed the topic to their third year.
“How did he do that?” Bill asked, he hadn’t heard this particular episode.
“Turns out Scabbers was really Wormtail,” Ron grimaced at the thought.
“Who’s Wormtail?” Charlie asked.
“Peter Pettigrew,” Hermione offered, his name dripping distastefully from her tongue. “The wizard Sirius was convicted of killing. Only Peter is an Animagus and changed into a rat.”
Bill and Charlie exchanged a look, “So why wasn’t Sirius cleared then?”
“Because the rat escaped and brought him back to life,” Ron’s look turned angry.
“But you broke your leg and had to stay in the hospital wing while Harry and I tried to save Sirius and Witherwings,” Hermione gave a small smile.
“How did you manage that?” Arthur asked, “I know that Sirius was locked in a tower and Witherwings was to have been beheaded.”
“Harry and I went back in time,” Hermione said.
“Back in time?” Tamsin asked, puzzled.
Hermione nodded. “I had a Time Turner that year and we first saved Witherwings and then had to elude Professor Lupin while he was a werewolf and then fly up to where Sirius was being held,” she explained with an apologetic nod to Remus, “Then Harry wanted to see his dad save him and Sirius from the Dementors, but it turned out it was really him.”
“And you managed to twist Snape’s nose with the whole thing,” Ron was pleased about that fact.
“Wait, ‘ow did ‘Arry manage to save him...” Fleur started, “Never mind.” She shook her head.
“What happened at the funeral?” Hermione asked. They all knew what had happened since then, except Tamsin and Charlie could tell her about everything later. She was more interested in what had happened at the funeral, especially since she hadn’t read about anything like that happening before.
Bill rubbed the back of his neck, “I can’t say. If I were at the pyramids, I’d say a curse had been broken or triggered. But that doesn’t make sense.”
“Per’aps not zat we know yet,” Fleur added with a frown, “’Arry and Jinny were very powerful.”
“Too true,” Fred glanced at George who nodded grimly, “You didn’t want to get on the bad side of her Bat Bogey Hex.”
“Scary, that,” George agreed with a shudder.
“Warned Harry about that,” Fred added.
“Did you hear the centaurs and the Merpeople?” Charlie asked. “They don’t get upset that easily. Not with natural things...”
“Which means that it must have been unnatural,” Tonks pointed out.
“But why did all that happen? It didn’t happen at Dumbledore’s funeral,” Hermione pointed out, “So why now?”
Everyone seemed to exchange a glance. Finally, Remus spoke, “There is a very old legend.”
Hermione made to roll her eyes with dismissal, until Ron elbowed her. He added a stern glare before turning back to listen to Remus.
“An old legend about the beginnings of Hogwarts,” Remus restated.
“I thought we settled the Chamber of Secrets,” Hermione groused, “and it’s very much real. Harry and Ginny were in there.”
“As well as me and Lockhart,” Ron reminded her.
“Only Harry continued forward,” Hermione pointed out.
“Only because he was on the other side of the rock slide,” Ron snipped.
The others shuddered at the reminder.
“This is from when Hogwarts was being built,” Remus clarified, “not something done after it had been built.” He waited for another interruption. When there was none, he continued. “Hogwarts has four Founders...”
“Everyone knows that,” Fred stated impatiently.
Remus chuckled, “Of course. But there is one other needed in the Founding of a school – a Guardian.”
Everyone frowned at his explanation. “How do you know this?” Bill asked.
“I was rather interested in the beginnings of Hogwarts,” Remus explained, “and with my condition, it was easy to do research.” He noted the wry looks as they considered his answers. “The Guardian becomes one with the school and guards it for the rest of time. But the Hogwarts Guardian is not one person.”
“What do you mean?” Tamsin asked, “Becomes part of the school?”
“I suppose you could consider them more than a ghost. More like a living consciousness for the school.” Remus said after a little thought.
Ron frowned, “If they become part of the school, how could it not be one person?”
“I was able to find enough to lead me to believe that the first Guardian of Hogwarts changed the Vow and therefore instead of one person, a line of people guard it instead,” Remus explained.
“But how could someone change the Vow?” Charlie asked, “I mean, with something that big, there shouldn’t be any deviations.”
“With good reason,” Remus said with a frown, “If the school has no Guardian, it ceases to exist. So when the Guardian did not become part of the school as intended, the only way Hogwarts can continue to exist is if the line of Guardians continues.”
“But that would mean that...” Hermione trailed off.
“Do you know who the Guardian is?” Arthur asked.
Remus shook his head, “I can postulate that the Guardians would be rather powerful and be drawn to powerful people. Given that they would do everything in their power to guard Hogwarts...”
“Just like Harry,” Hermione breathed, “He was very powerful. When he applied himself to learning instead of goofing off... And Ginny.”
Remus nodded, “But I was wrong. Had it been Harry, Hogwarts would be no longer Hogwarts. But it is.”
An owl delivered the Evening Prophet to Hermione before flying out the window. Hermione sighed as she picked it up. The front page screamed:
CHAOS AT THE-BOY-WHO-LIVED’S FUNERAL
Written by Rita Skeeter
Mr. Harry Potter and Miss Ginevra Weasley were supposedly laid to rest today at Hogwarts near Professor Albus Dumbledore’s tomb.
Many of their friends and family gathered at this would-be solemn occasion only to have the solemnity thrown away because of a childish prank. In the crowd, a few of Mr. Potter’s friends waited for the perfect opportunity to create a diversion.
Their diversion occurred during Minister Scrimgeour’s most edifying speech in the hopes that it would make both the Minister and therefore the Ministry itself to appear incompetent. Minister Scrimgeour personally expressed his appreciation to the Aurors who defended the gathered crowd from the foolishness and also expressed his confidence in their abilities.
Now my dear readers, you may be asking the very same question I am. Who are the miscreants that decided to ruin this supposed funeral? They would be Mr. Potter’s closest friends. For once I am not writing about Mr. Weasley or Miss Granger as they looked surprised as shocked at the display of childishness. Instead I am writing about Mr. Neville Longbottom, Miss Luna Lovegood and Miss Hannah Abbott.
All three friends should have known better than to pull this prank with the highest ranking officials and should be receiving a visit from Ministry Officials who will be questioning them in detail about their prank.
Mr. Longbottom has grown up without his parents’ guidance, but perhaps he chose to act out against his grandmother. Miss Parkinson revealed that he feared his boggart would be his grandmother but instead he used her ridiculous hat and purse to laugh at his boggart.
Miss Lovegood may deliver a good act of appearing not all there, but given her own mother’s death by experimental spell, she should have had the decency to allow others to grieve the alleged deaths of their loved ones. Instead, she created a disruption to the entire proceedings.
However, the most shocking of all of the miscreants was Miss Abbott. Her mother has not been in her grave even a year and already she is showing signs of rebellion. You may have seen her sitting next to her father, apparently behaving, but my dear readers, I noticed that she made eye contact with Mr. Longbottom before the heinous events of today.
Perhaps Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley should choose better friends once they reappear. After all, who can you trust if you can’t trust your friends to behave at your own funeral?
Hermione threw the paper into the fire. Those gathered stared in shock at the vile things written about their friends. “I ought to have turned that vile woman in!” she snapped viciously.
Everyone but Ron frowned. Arthur cleared his throat, “Is this something I should know?”
Hermione glanced at Ron who shook his head, “No, Mr. Weasley.”
Arthur didn’t look convinced but let it slide. He exchanged a look with Molly. They both suspected that Hermione and Ron knew something about Rita Skeeter that could really put her away. But he silently applauded their control. Now was not a good time with the Ministry.
“Neville,” Gran waited impatiently for her grandson to sit across from her, “tell me what part of life do politics play?”
Neville frowned. He was surprised to see the Evening Prophet folded neatly next to her on the side table. He didn’t know how to answer her question without a lecture.
When he remained silent, his grandmother’s lips tightened. “I thought you were learning this at Hogwarts. At least we did in our day.” She watched as he eyes the newspaper again with a very curious look. “No, I did not renew our subscription.”
Neville stared at her wide-eyed.
“Please read the article,” Gran did not touch the newspaper again.
Neville stood cautiously and picked up the paper with extreme trepidation. What had she read in the paper that had her livid? And who had given it to her? He sat back in his chair before opening it. The article stared at him from the front page. It wasn’t difficult to know which article she was livid about. He read the last word and swallowed hard.
“I told you at the funeral to not have that look upon your face. You disobeyed me. And now what we will face?” She frowned sternly at him. “You are aware that this coming year it has been made mandatory by the Ministry for every minor to attend Hogwarts? Think tonight how you may be treated by the Ministry this year while at school. You will tell me tomorrow at breakfast.”
“Yes, Gran,” Neville replied softly. He kept the newspaper in his hand as he went back up to his bedroom. This was more than a disaster.
Hannah smiled to herself. She had managed to get the Evening Prophet before her dad! Her smile faded when she saw the front page news and felt sick when she read the article and saw what they had written about her. “DAD!” She ran to his office, practically throwing the paper at him as he started to get out of his chair in alarm.
Luna picked up the Evening Prophet that had been left on their doorstep. She looked around without seeing anyone. She shrugged slightly before closing the door.
“Luna? What have you discovered?” her father asked from the other room over the noise from their printing press. He had sat at the kitchen table to write the next edition of The Quibbler to explain the strangeness at the funeral.
“Someone left a newspaper on our doorstep,” she replied airily, “or else it was the pixies.”
“Eh? What’s that?” he waited patiently as she opened the newspaper to read the horrid article. When she finished, he remained silent until he finally asked, “Luna, dear?”
“Yes, father?” she placed the offensive paper on the table. “I don’t see how this would affect us. Everyone knows she writes trash. Except for that one story she wrote for us.”
He rubbed his chin, leaving ink smeared on it. “That was a very interesting article. If I remember, I had to set up another printing of it before finally selling it to that rag there."
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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