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Altered Destinies by DobbyElf
Chapter 12 : Preparing for War
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 5


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1 November 1938
James awoke to the sound of Katie giggling next to him. James rolled over to look at the little lady laying next to him. “Good morning, Angel.”

From his other side a voice commented, “Angel? You get up at 3 in the morning with this ‘angel’ next time.”

James pulled his daughter close and said, “You were just excited for your first birthday. Weren’t you?” James smiled at his one-year-old daughter. “Is Michael still asleep?”

Sarah sighed as she lay back down next to her husband and daughter. “He never made a peep all night, unlike the little fireball next to you.”

Katie giggled again seeming to sense she was the topic of her mother’s comments. James smiled at her. Never in his previous life would he have been able to imagine he would be able to live this life.

During school, Harry spent every year fighting for survival. After learning the prophecy, Harry concentrated on survival. Training in combat and related magics filled Harry’s life. Harry’s friends and the DA trained with him but the burden was always on Harry. Harry and Ginny’s only fights as a couple dealt with Harry’s refusal to discuss their lives together after defeating Voldemort. Harry focused all of his energies on finding the Horcruxes and killing Voldemort.

Surviving the battle, but losing Ginny and everyone else Harry considered family was the ultimate irony. Hermione with her plans to research the blending of magic and muggle technology, Ron’s plans of a Quidditch career with the Canons, and Ginny’s comments about raising her own Quidditch team were all lost in that final battle. Neville and Luna were lost before, ambushed by the three LeStranges with four other Death Eaters. The pair took their attackers with them, but Madam Pomfrey could do nothing to prevent their deaths. The rest of the Order of the Phoenix, the DA and the Weasleys died in the final battle or the numerous battles and skirmishes leading up to it.

James smiled sadly at his daughter. Adopting Tom had started James on the recovery from all of Harry’s loss. Finding Sarah and falling in love seemed a miracle. Katie and Michael seemed to close something for James. He could put Harry behind him. It truly did seem something that happened to another person.

Sarah asked a question pulling him out of his thoughts. “I am sorry. What did you ask?”

“I asked when you are going up to Hogwarts?”

“After breakfast,” James answered. “My meeting with Albus is at 10. The First year Slytherins and Ravenclaws will be finishing their class then.”

“Don’t do anything to embarrass Tom. You know he is having a hard time fitting into his House.”

Giving his wife an innocent “who, me?” look, James got out of bed and walked out to the kitchen with Katie. He almost escaped when his wife’s comment caught him. “Yes, you Mr. My-Father-was-a-Marauder!”

Bouncing his daughter in his arms, James asked his daughter, “Why do magical people insist on giving titles with hyphens all through them?

The little girl gurgled happily at the sound of her father’s voice.

*~*~

James entered Hogwarts an hour before his meeting. It still felt like coming home. The halls were empty as most students attended their morning classes. Those not in classes would most likely be in the library or their common rooms. James enjoyed wandering down the halls.

Nearly-Headless Nick wandered by with the Bloody Baron. James nodded a polite greeting as the two ghosts glided past. Neither ghost knew him in this time so took no special notice of the dark haired man walking by.

James walked past the second floor girls’ bathroom. He was almost tempted to visit Moaning Myrtle but realized she wouldn’t have been killed in his timeline for another five years.

Two thoughts came to James when this recognition came to him. The first thought was the Basilisk would not kill Myrtle because Tom would not let it out to attack students. Therefore, no Moaning Myrtle would ever haunt this bathroom. This led James to the question, how much of my history am I changing?

When Harry agreed with Aberforth to come back, Harry only saw the chance to save his friends. However, James did not kill Tom Riddle. James also did not leave the magical community to live in obscurity. From this time forth, history could change drastically. At a minimum, none of the people killed in the first war with Voldemort would be killed. They would have their own children. This could cause people married in Harry’s timeline to be married to other people. Would Harry James Potter ever be born? Would any of his friends be born either? James leaned against the wall as he considered the potential ramifications.

After several minutes, James started to slowly walk the halls again. He considered all of the philosophical and theoretical issues involved. Harry’s decision to charge into the past could have potentially catastrophic impacts on the world Harry knew.

James approached the door to the Transfiguration classroom just as the time of his appointment approached. The classroom door swung open and a horde of First year Slytherin and Ravenclaw students poured out. The lump of Slytherin students comprised of two boys and five girls caught James’ eye.

The group was caught up in an animated discussion and did not notice James near by. With a grin, James slowly drew his wand. A mumbled spell later and a series of shrieks erupted from the group of Slytherins. Where a brown haired Slytherin boy had stood now stood a half-grown wolf pup.

James started to laugh as the pup let out a startled yelp as he discovered his transfiguration. The wolf cub whirled around and spotted James. With a growl, the cub ran at James and started barking at his feet. James laughed even harder as the cub jumped up and tried to bite on James’s robes.
 
James noticed the Slytherin girls and the one boy watching the scene from ten feet away. James grinned at them, “My, he is an excitable little guy, isn’t he?” The Slytherins looked at each other, unsure what to make of the situation.

James pointed his wand at the cub and smiled. The cub, seeing the smile, turned tail (literally) and ran away. “Perfectus Totalis!” The cub tumbled to a stop as his legs and the rest of his body locked up.

With the stunned students looking on, James walked over and picked up the frozen cub. “Aren’t you a cute little guy?” Looking at the Slytherin girls, James said, “I need to talk to Professor Dumbledore. Would one of you please look after this little guy until my meeting is over?”

The pretty blonde Slytherin girl nodded her head slowly. With an innocent smile, James handed her the cub. The wolf looked at James with a wild look in his eyes. James smirked and said, “Constant Vigilance!” Then James walked into the classroom leaving behind a group of confused Slytherins.

As James entered the room, an amused voice asked him, “Was that very nice?”

James looked as Professor Dumbledore (It still freaked James out to see the younger professor with brown hair and beard) and smiled. “Probably not, but it was fun.”

“Based on my experience with young Mr. Evans he will attempt revenge.”

James nodded, “I’d be disappointed if he didn’t. Should be fun.” James shrugged, “It drives Sarah crazy, but I am just keeping up the family tradition. I never got to when I was in school. Things were too serious.”

The Transfiguration professor smiled, his eyes twinkling. “I seem to remember the last big prankster to walk these halls was Thomas Potter.”

James smirked back, “Funny, the last time Sarah and I dined with the Potters, I heard his favorite prank-war opponent had the last name Dumbledore.”

“Perhaps.”

James smiled at the innocent expression on his former (future?) professor’s face. “It will wear off soon. I would love to see his face if he is sitting on one of the girl’s lap when it does.”

Professor Dumbledore opened the cabinet behind him and brought out the Sorting Hat. “I understand you wished to speak with the Sorting Hat?”

“Actually, Tom told me the Hat is the one doing the requesting. Thank you.” James took the battered looking Sorting Hat and placed it on his head. The Hat seemed to grow a bit as it dropped over his eyes.

“Ah, Mr. Evans, I presume. You have remarkably tight mental defenses. Even Albus’s are not as significant.”

“I have some good reasons to keep my mind my own.” James replied. “My son said you wanted to speak to me?”

“Would you please lower your shields? I am curious. Mr. Evans thinks you were a Gryffindor, yet I know I never sorted you.”

James mentally shrugged, “I am sorry. I need a better reason to lower my mental defenses then your curiosity.”

The Hat snorted, “At least you are more polite then most who sit under me. Mr.Evans, the Founders gave me several charges when I was created. I saw in your son’s mind that he talked to the painting hanging at the Potters. I need to know.”

James frowned slightly and then lowered his shields. In an instant, James felt the Hat looking through his memories.

“My other self must have had a very difficult time sorting you, Mr. Potter. Your plan coming back is very Slytherin but it was done with a Gryffindor’s courage. You have a true Hufflepuff’s loyalty to your friends. Not many would have risked such a costly victory on such an endeavor. I am impressed, Mr. Potter.

Rowena Ravenclaw did a great deal of study on time travel. Her work has been lost, but I will share her conclusions with you.” Feeling James’s nodded, the Hat said, “History is not so easily changed by time travel. Imagine a river. A large stone thrown in may cause a temporary disruption, but eventually the river returns to its normal flow. You can change the names and circumstances, but certain events and actors must be played out.”

James felt dismayed at these words. “You mean I have done this for nothing?”

“No,” the Hat answered,” not for nothing. Some things in history are destined to be. You may be able to change some of the details or actors, but there will be a cost to balance this change. I don’t know what the cost will be, merely that there will be one.”

James sat quietly for a moment and considered what the Hat said. “I have another question. I have been here for more then four years now, yet I haven’t aged. Why not?”

“You are still tied to the TimeTurner. Its magic will return you to the future in the same physical state as when you left.”

“Can I break the tie?”

James felt the Hat shrug mentally, “I don’t know. Rowena never tried to do that.”

“Whatever happens, Mr. Potter-Evans, I would like to thank you. Your son is the best chance we have ever had with changing the direction of Slytherin House. Each generation I have seen that House get Darker and further from the other Houses. The Founders never meant the Houses to become known solely for single traits. Helga was one of the bravest people I have ever known. Rowena had a sly wit. Godric was loyal to an extreme. Salazar could be impulsive. If I had to sort them, I am not sure they would all end up in the Houses they founded. I look forward to what the new, hidden line of Potters with an Heir of Slytherin will do. I predict great things.”

James smiled at that. “Thank you. I have more questions now then answers but it is a start.”

The Sorting Hat replied, “Good luck to you, Mr. Evans.”

James reached up and removed the Hat from his head. Professor Dumbledore sat watching him. “That was an interesting experience.”

“Indeed, James.” Albus agreed. “The Hat rarely talks to anyone but the Headmasters. You are an exceptional case.”

James gave Albus a wary smile, “That is the story of my life.”

The two wizards made small talk for a bit. Albus was interested in some of the new subjects the Phoenix Foundation had introduced. James told him about the Wizard Studies class. The class mirrored the Muggle Studies class at Hogwarts but told the Muggle-born students about the magical culture. The class included magical law and government, traditions and basic tips for living in the magical world. James explained it covered all of the things a wizard-born child would learn as part of their environment growing up.

James pointed out, “Part of the reason pure-bloods feel superior is they already understand the culture and background information. They are not magically stronger on average but they usually score higher on average because of their background.”

Dumbledore considered that. “An intriguing idea. It would never have occurred to me.” He glanced at the clock. “I have a class coming in soon. We will have to discuss this further at a later time.”

James stood and grasped the professor’s hand. “Send me and owl and we can meet at the Three Broomsticks one night.”

James left the Transfiguration classroom and made his way towards the front doors. Along the way, he was accosted by a certain Slytherin First year.

“Dad! That was evil!”

With an innocent expression, James answered his son, “Problem, son?”

Tom gave him a disgusted expression. “Yes, Xurana decided to cuddle me and ‘kiss the puppy’ when I suddenly turned back. I ended up on her lap with her kissing my cheek!”

James laughed until he had tears in his eyes and his ribs hurt much to the disgust of his son. “I am sorry!” James forced out between fighting to get air into his lungs. “I thought you would get away from them.”

“I never had a chance!” Tom shouted indignantly. “They passed me around so much my paws never touched the ground!”

James calmed down a bit. “I am sorry. I couldn’t resist the temptation. Speaking of temptation, would you happen to know what happened to the plate of chocolate biscuits your mother made last week?”

Now Tom wore an almost identical expression as James wore earlier. “Mum made biscuits?”

“It was the strangest thing. She made them Friday night and left them on the kitchen counter. They were missing when we got up on Saturday morning.”

“Maybe Snuffles got into them,” Tom suggested.

“Hmm,” James pretended to consider, “maybe, but then I am impressed he put the empty plate in the sink.”

“Ooops”

James and Tom started laughing together at the quasi-admission of guilt.

“Can you join us for lunch, Dad? I want you to meet my friends,” Tom asked.

“I am afraid I can’t stay for lunch today. I have to be in London at 12. Why don’t I meet them all now before lunch?” At Tom’s happy agreement, Tom and James walked together down to the Great Hall.

*~*~

Tom led James down to the Slytherin common room. Entering the dungeons, James felt an odd sense of deja-vu. At a nondescript portion of the wall, Tom hissed at the wall and it opened. Then he smirked at his father.

James only comment was, “I wish I had thought of using parseltongue.” Stepping into the common room, James murmured to himself, “I didn’t even need to use polyjuice.”

Tom grinned at his dad (he knew the story) and said, “Over here dad.” Tom led James over to a gaggle of First year Slytherins. The group looked up as the two approached.

“Hi,” Tom greeted them. “Everyone, this is my dad, James Evans. Dad, this is Ed Nott, Mary Greengrass, Penelope Midlands, Laura Parkinson, Sumta Xurana and Alicia Tadweiter.”

James smiled at all of them and said hello. Three of those family names meant Death Eater to his instincts. Fortunately, Tom’s letters home, while brief, did provide his parents with the names of his friends. Ed Nott died during the Voldemort’s first war. Harry and Luna killed Nott’s son and grandson (Harry’s former classmate) in the skirmishes leading up to the final fight between Harry and Voldemort.

James found the group to be subtly different from the Slytherin he attended school with. Although James could sense a level of one-upmanship he was used to among Slytherins, he did not feel this group possessed the twisted, naked ambition of the later generation. This group seemed to be normal eleven year-olds. Yes, they had many of the Pureblood attitudes James hated, but they lacked the fanaticism in their eyes. It gave James hope.

One item James did note was the way the young ladies of Slytherin seemed to watch Tom. James bet that Tom did not realize how they took their cue from him. They seemed to have adopted Tom as their pet project. James chuckled to himself as he realized this was going to be a lot of fun to watch.

The one down note of the visit occurred when three additional First year boys entered the common room. The largest boy sneered at James. Then he turned his glare at Tom.

“Did you Daddy need to come tuck you in?”

Tom answered in a level voice. “Dolohov, we were having a pleasant visit. Just leave.”

“Did the Head of House give his approval? I think not. I am going to tell the prefects.” Dolohov smirked in triumph.

Tom turned to his father in defeat, however Tom saw the glint in his son’s eyes. A voice in James’s head cried, “Look out!”

Tom hissed, < Sorry, Dad. I should have checked in. Dolohov is a real prat, but the prefects support him. >

James raised an eyebrow and replied, < Be careful. All three of them became Death Eaters. Apparently they went down that path merrily on their own. > Changing topics James asked, < Why are we hissing at each other? >

Tom smirked and glanced at the three boys. < It is really freaking them out. > James laughed out loud at this causing the boys to look really nervous.

< Are you going to tell them who you are descended from? >

Tom shrugged, < Eventually, but not yet. I want to look into Slytherin’s history a bit first. >

< Talk to me before you do anything? > James requested. < And do not try to go into the Chamber of Secrets without me! >

Tom smiled and nodded his agreement. Tom had heard stories about Harry’s adventures in the Chamber of Secrets several times and he really wanted to see it for himself.

James turned to Ed Nott and the Slytherin girls and said, “It was nice meeting all of you. Hopefully you can visit us at our home in Hogsmeade during your time here.” James noticed that all of the Slytherins in the common room except Tom wore identical shocked expressions over the parseltongue conversation.

After their goodbyes, James walked out of the Slytherin common room. As the portal closed, he heard Tom voice saying, “See, I told you everyone can speak parseltongue.” James snickered to himself walking down the hall.

He wondered what his father, Sirius and Remus would think about him raising the one-time Tom Marvolo Riddle and Lord Voldemort to become a Marauder. Walking down the hall, James wondered idly what Tom’s animagus form would take.

*~*~

12:00 Ministry of Magic Executive Conference Room
James sat unobtrusively against the wall in the Minister of Magic’s conference room. Wearing his Unspeakable robes, James seemed to blend into his surroundings. Any non-Unspeakable looking in his hood at James’s face would see only darkness, his voice also changed to be unidentifiable, male or female. James’s former teammate Charlie sat next to him without speaking.

James reflected on the changes in Charlie since the mission to Dachau. She seemed much more focused on her work, but James worried she had become too brittle. James had seen it in the war against Voldemort. The LeStrange brothers and some low level Death Eaters captured Hermione during a trip to Hogsmeade. Harry and Ron tracked them down quickly using Harry’s wolf animagus form. Although she was only held for an hour, the LeStrange’s had already abused her significantly. Harry and Ron recovered her and she seemed to bounce back. However the next major skirmish with the Death Eaters caused her to breakdown in the middle of the fight. Ron attempted to rescue her with Neville covering them. Unfortunately, Voldemort arrived at the battle, forcing the Order members back. Captured, Ron and Hermione were held two weeks until the Harry’s final battle with Voldemort. James saw the same brittleness in Charlie now.

Keeping his concerns to himself, James watched as the civilian ministry leaders filed into the room. Mr. Able sat next to the head of Magical Law Enforcement. The two men carried on a whispered conversation. Mr. Able was the public face of the DoM. A metamorphamagus, Mr. Able was able to protect his identity while seeming to appear open with his collogues. Mr. Johnston, the MLE Head, seemed a no-nonsense Barty Crouch type with no sense of humor.

The Minister wandered in with a pair of cronies tagging along. Minister Nott seemed intelligent and competent, unlike the other Ministers of Magic Harry had dealt with. Unfortunately, James found him to be as arrogant as a Malfoy. Nott felt the Ministry was his inheritance and treated many of the employees as family servants. From Tom’s comments, James knew Edward Nott was being groomed by his father to take over his “inheritance” one day.

Thoughts of Tom made James smile a bit. James enjoyed meeting Tom’s friends. They seemed like a good group. Their hissed conversation would definitely stir things up in Slytherin House.

Minister Nott sat at the head of the table and huffed, “Okay, let get this meeting started.” The various department heads started presenting the status of their departments. The head of the Department of International Cooperation was the last to present.

The old witch named Theodora Rhys leaned forward. “We have received indications that the German Ministry is not following the guidelines established in our September accord. Grindelwald continues to prepare and work with the Muggle government. We have found indications of German magical and Muggle agents in France, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The German Muggle government already holds Austria and the Sudetenland.”

Nott turned a bit red in the face. “Do you think he intends to follow through with his plans? Why would he lie to me?” The last was said as almost a whine.

Mr. Able shrugged, “Grindelwald wants power. He thinks we have something that will give it to him. He has agents in London, Dover, Edinburgh, and Hogsmeade that we know of right now.”

The department head of Sports and Games asked, “Why does he have people in Hogsmeade?”

Mr. Able replied, “Aside from the DoM, Hogwarts represents the highest concentration of magical energy and knowledge in the British Isles.”

Mr. Johnston added, “The Unspeakables have been very helpful in passing their information on to my department. The Aurors identified a new immigrant to Hogsmeade with ties to the German Ministry.”

A burly wizard from the Department of Finance asked, “Do we need to send Aurors or Unspeakables to protect Hogwarts?”

The DMLE head shook his head, “The Unspeakables are not legally allowed to operate within Britain. I have some resources stationed in the village but the school’s wards will keep any intruder out long enough to allow my men to respond.”

James found himself standing in front of his chair. He did not remember standing. Everyone in the room turned to look at him.

Mr. Able asked, “Do you have something to add?”

“Yes,” James replied, “The Hogwarts wards prevent larger groups with malicious intent from entering the grounds. Small groups of average magical power can walk through the wards.”

“Of average power?”

James nodded, “We can’t measure it exactly but assume Professor Dumbledore as the top end of the measure. The wards would block the entrance of a Dark wizard with his level of power. How many normal witches or wizards would it take to match Professor Dumbledore in raw magical power?” James didn’t mention that an army of squibs armed with muggle weapons could march through the wards whatever their intent.

Several of the department heads looked shocked about the gap in the wards protections. One asked, “How do you know this?”

“I made a study of wards and their limitations. Hogwarts maintains one of the strongest sets of wards in the world. I included it in my study,” James answered with a small shrug. Then he sat down.

The meeting continued with a discussion of assigning Aurors to the school grounds. The Minister closed the discussion with the promise to talk to Headmaster Dippet. Most of the department heads seemed to accept this proposal.

The Minister gestured to Mr. Able and said, “Mr. Able would like to present one final topic.”

“With me today is the new team lead of our primary operations team. Unspeakable Charlie was the senior returning member of the team sent into Germany to recover our Aurors. For the last two years, Charlie has been rebuilding the team. His team recently returned from a reconnaissance mission to Dumstrang.”

Charlie stood up. “Thank you Mr. Able. My team found a large number of additional structures added to the school’s grounds. We were unable to get too close however they appeared to be a training center for a large number of magical troops. The spells we saw used emphasized offensive power. They did a large amount of power but seemed to require little skill or casting time in their use.”

The Minister frowned, “What does that mean?”

Mr. Able answered, “The Dark Lord is rapidly expanding his Dark Army. The new forces consist of quickly trained, disposable troops specialized on attacking targets. The Muggle term for them would be ‘cannon-fodder’. We saw some signs of this during their interference in the Spanish Civil War. It appears that was a trial run. We believe Britain is his true target.”

A murmur of unease rippled through the room. The Goblin Liaison asked, “Do you think it will come to that?”

Able nodded, “Our analysis indicates the Muggles will be at war within a year. I believe they plan to use that conflict to cover a magical one. We have to start preparing our defenses now.” He gestured at James. “This is the Count. He is one of our best. I would like to set up a Joint Planning Group of multiple departments with the Count as the overall commander. With his background, he is uniquely suited to provide leadership to the group.”

James liked the way Able told them about the analysis results. Most of the “analysis” came from James talking about his knowledge of the Muggle Second World War. Although he had not studied it since his pre-Hogwarts schooling, James was able to provide certain information like the invasion of Poland signaled the stat of the war for Britain and it occurred in September or October of 1939.

James did not want this role. It would detract from his time with his family and the Foundation. Able and Cain (the true Head of the Unspeakables) pushed James into accepting their nomination. James was their only resource with real experience in a magical war. Cain pointed out that combined with James’s ‘future’ knowledge he was by far the best candidate for the position.

Able pointed out, “It is a desk job. You will be safe.”

“I am not as concerned about my safety,” James growled. “I don’t like sending other people out into harms way.”

Cain grunted, “I said the same thing when I got forced to become the Head Unspeakable. Deal with it. I had to.”

James shook his head at the memory. The discussion had carried on for several more minutes while James stood silent. James did not like the direction the arguments were going. He stepped forward towards the table.

“Excuse me. Mr. Able is not talking about preparing to invade anyone. Nor break any of our laws. We are talking about preparing our forces to protect our citizens. The Unspeakables will fight all efforts to invade. Once they reach English soil, we are legally barred from action. It will be the Aurors’ job. They are trained to deal with criminals, not organized troops. Honestly, only the Unspeakable mission teams are trained to fight as units.”

James looked at the incredulous faces. He started, “In addition, the Muggle war will impact us…”

The Department of Finance head interrupted him. “Why would the Muggle war affect us? Never has before!”

“Are you aware of the advances in Muggle aircraft?” James asked. “The Germans are well ahead of everyone else in using aircraft to drop bombs. A bomb won’t care about Diagon Alley or St. Mungo’s Muggle repelling charms, or hidden, unplottable wizard houses. A couple bombs can destroy an entire block.”

One pureblood asked, “What is a bomb?”

James withheld a snort. “Imagine a wizard on a broom flying along casting Reducto curses. Each curse would be ten times its normal strength.”

“I don’t believe it!” the pureblood scoffed.

“Belief is not necessary. It is true. Only one magical site in England is protected from Muggle bombs.”

“Where is that?”

James shrugged, “The Phoenix Foundation facility emplaced the ward two months ago. Nicely done too. They neutralize the explosives and divert the bomb case into the Thames. The Muggles will never notice.”

“How do you know that?”

They could hear the grin in James’s disguised voice as he answered, “Again, I like to study wards.”

DMLE asked, “Who developed the wards?”

“The Foundation’s founder, Mr. Evans, worked with Mr. Potter and Professor Dumbledore on the wards. It was their ‘summer project’.”

The Minister seemed to perk up a bit at that news. “Really? My son is friends with his son at Hogwarts. Most of his brief letters deal with their time together. What do we know about Mr. Evans? I don’t recognize the family name.”

Mr. Johnston answered, “We did do an investigation of the Phoenix Foundation at your office’s request when they first opened. We don’t know much about Mr. Evans’s past but the Foundation is on the straight side. My nephew attends the primary day school and loves it. They don’t teach spells but they do cover magical theory as well as the muggle sciences. I know he consults with Headmaster Dippet. He also beat Malfoy’s heir in a duel at Hogwarts a couple years ago. He taught some training classes after that for my Aurors. They said he is very good.”

“What is his family background?” the minister asked.

“He is reported to be a Half-blood. His wife was an Underhill. His mother-in-law loudly stated her disapproval of the marriage.” Johnston looked uncomfortable. “Normally the Aurors don’t look into that but the woman insisted on telling us about it when we questioned her.”

James quietly fumed at the discussion. Able seemed to realize they were on dangerous ground. He cleared his throat to bring the attention back to him.

“We are getting a bit off-topic. I believe that Mr. Evans may be willing to share his ward design with us.”

James was furiously thinking, ‘Over my dead body! Stupid Pureblood bigots!’

The Minister waved the comment away. “Very well. Count, I will provisionally place you in charge of the Planning Group. Develop you plans, but don’t implement anything until I get approval from the Wizengamot.”

James bowed his agreement because he still did not trust his temper.

The meeting dispersed with James following Able and Charlie down to Cain’s office. Cain monitored the meetings through charms on Abel. James suspected they could communicate in some way during the meetings.

When they walked into the office, there were four cups of tea around the table. Next to one was a shot of firewhiskey.

Cain gestured at the table. “Please be seated. Count your seat is over there.” He indicated the seat with the shot glass.

James drank the shot. “Thanks, Cain. I needed that.”

“Good, now let’s get down to business…”

*~*~

7 November 1938
A week later, James found himself again walking the halls of Hogwarts. This time he wore his Unspeakable robes with the obscuration charms in place. Two Aurors and a witch from the Ministers office accompanied James on this visit.

The two Aurors were Artimus Franklin and ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody. Franklin was the senior Auror James met with Moody at the orphanage. Both were rescued from Dachau by the team including James, although neither of them knew about ‘the Count’s’ involvement. DMLE Head Johnston named each of them to the Planning Group.

The witch was Irma Black. Madam Black saw herself as the Minister’s watchdog on the Planning Group. James remembered seeing her name on the Black Family Tree at Grimmauld Place. If he remembered correctly, this witch was the mother of Walburga Black of the infamous Permanent Sticking Charm portrait. That made her Sirius’s grandmother. After only a week, James completely understood where Walburga got her charm and why Sirius ran away.

Irma Black started by trying to interrogate James on his blood. Although his face was obscured, James gave her his best Voldemort impression. After years of dealing with Voldemort and Dumbledore, James discovered how to allow his magic to flare giving him an aura of his choosing. The Dumbledore of his time projected the grandfatherly trust and amusement.. Voldemort projected the promise of death and pain. Madam Black backed off.

James found it ironic that the Dark wizarding families of Britain sided with the Ministry and the Light families against the current Dark Lord. This seemed to be due to two primary causes. The first reason was Grindelwald did not support their Pureblood agenda. Grindelwald preferred competence to heritage. (The only thing James found himself agreeing with.) The second reason tied to the first. If victorious, Grindelwald would replace the current society elite with his own followers.

The students were between classes as the foursome walked into the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts. The students paused to observe the newcomers. The pause became protracted as they recognized the robes of an Unspeakable. The students separated to allow James to continue on his way to the Headmaster’s office.

Realizing he was the center of attention caused James to grin within his hood. He glided to a stop and seemed to glare out at the staring students. Then he made a sudden movement and shouted, “BOO!”

Two dozen students screamed and fled the room. James fought to hold in his laughter. Madam Black glared at him while the Aurors shook their heads in disapproval.

James glanced at the remaining ten students in the room. Each held a wand in their hand. James nodded approvingly and said, “I will speak to the Headmaster about awarding each of you House points for not giving in to panic.” Then he continued on his way.

A short time later, James, the Aurors and Madam Black were seated in the Headmaster’s office. Joining the Headmaster were Professors Dumbledore and Merrythought. Professor Dumbledore attended as the Deputy Headmaster and resident expert on the school wards. Professor Merrythought was the long running DADA professor and defense expert.

After greeting his guests, Professor Dippet asked them to explain why they requested this meeting. James explained the concern over Hogwarts being the focus of possible activity of the Dark Lord’s forces.

The Headmaster attempted to set their concerns aside. “Hogwarts is the safest place on Earth. No attacking force has ever breached our wards. You can set your concerns aside.”

“I never talked about a large force moving against the school, Headmaster. What about a small group of two or three Dark wizards with a specific target in mind?”

“The wards will protect us in that case also,” he replied.

James looked at Professor Dumbledore and simply asked, “Professor?”

Dumbledore rubbed his beard in a moment’s consideration. “It may be possible I suppose, if they are not of significant power. However, they would not be able to damage the school in any significant way at their strength.”

Moody answered, “Maybe not the school, but what about individual students or an other objective? Would the wards stop them from that?”

Dumbledore eyed James, “Where did you learn about this weakness in our wards?”

James ignored the question and asked instead, “Grindelwald was a student here, a top student. Could there be some information, object or person on the grounds he would be interested in?”

Professor Dippet nodded relucatantly. “I was the new Charms professor when Albert attended the school. Albus here was in the same year. I suppose there could be something…”

Madam Black huffed, “I remind you the Minister’s only son is a student here, along with children of half the Wizengamot and all of the families that count! You must protect the children!”

Professor Merrythought spoke for the first time. “What do you propose?” the witch asked.

“Nothing definite at this point,” James answered. “Nothing indicates it is something that will occur in the near future. Our Planning Group is looking at many issues of defending magical Britain. Hogwarts is an important component of that. I would not make a suggestion until you had been able to think the problem through first.”

The Headmaster nodded his thanks. “I appreciate both your concern and your courtesy. We will put some thought into your concerns.”

James handed each of the professors a galleon. Before they could ask, James said, “I am not often reachable at the Ministry. If you hold the coin and call out ‘The Count’, I will floo you. If you say ‘Emergency’ I will come to you immediately.”

Merrythought commented, “Ingenious! Is this DoM issue?”

James smiled sadly in his hood. “No, it was developed by a witch I went to school with. She came up with the first version that simply called the holder to a meeting in our Fifth year. It is also charmed so you won’t accidentally spend it.”

Professor Dippet marveled at the coin. “A Fifth year did this? This is well beyond NEWT level charm work. She must have been a genius!”

“The smartest witch of her generation. Even her detractors agreed on that point.”

Madam Black commented, “Who was she? She must have been from one of the noble families.”

“No, she was Muggle-born. Not only was she a genius but she was one of the strongest magic users I have ever met. She gave her life to stop a Dark Lord of extraordinary power. She is one of the standards I use in judging my own actions. She was often our group’s conscious in school. I still here her voice when I feel guilty of something.”

The Aurors and the professors looked surprised at both the amount of information an Unspeakable had given on himself and the depth of sincerity in his obscured voice. Irma Black looked torn between sneering at a Mudblood and curiosity of someone an Unspeakable considered a paragon of witches.

The meeting adjourned with promises to meet together within a month. Professor Dumbledore offered to escort their guests out of the castle. James mentioned the points as they walked out of the Headmaster’s office. Dumbledore chuckled and agreed to present the individuals points during dinner that night.

Noticing the Aurors and Madam Black had walked ahead and out of earshot, Professor Dumbledore placed his hand on James arm and stopped him. “James, do you know something is going to happen?”

James sighed and allowed the Obscuration Charm to fade. “I hate it when you do that!”

The professor’s eyes twinkled as he waited for an answer.

“I honestly don’t know. A lot was hushed up and we were too concerned with another Dark Lord to worry about it much. And I may have altered history too much already. I am just basing this on my own experience and instinct. I believe there is a danger, Albus.”

“I will keep your secret but I will let the Headmaster know we need to take this warning seriously.” Then he paused, “And I will tell young Mr. Evans that you said hello.”

James smiled and reactivated his Charm. “Thank you professor.”


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