Disclaimer: As Usual I own nothing you may recognise from the books by JKR.
This Chapter is dedicated to the memory of Rodney. Co Beta with AriesGirl. When I sent a new chapter for thier tender care it was a race between them to see who could read it first. Both AriesGirl and her Husband became great friends and Rodney will be sadly missed. My Thoughts and prayers have been and remain with her and her family since I recieved the sad news. I am sure Rodney is in the Feasting Hall, watching for the next chapter amongst other things.
A Right Royal Rumble.
Late 20th century.
Ron and Hermione were still unpacking boxes in their new house, in Hogsmeade, which they had moved in to the day before Harry and Ginny had returned from their honeymoon. The last few days had been spent unpacking boxes and moving furniture into position and getting settled in their new home. The house was close to the edge of the village, on the road that led to the castle, though Hogwarts was out of sight beyond the trees. It was only a few minutes walk from the shop, “Weasley's Wizardly Wheezes”, which Ron was now full time manager of, for George, though he was only going in a couple of hours a day this week, while they sorted out the house. Hermione had the week off from the ministry where she was heading a team in the department of magical law enforcement looking at integration of magical creatures, where she was already one of the main policy makers in the new regime.
Ron had been in to the shop for the morning, it was nearing lunch time as he walked back along the street, greeting his new neighbours in the street on his way back to the cottage. He had spent the last few days organising the new warehouse, which was to become the main store for the company, increasing the space available at the Diagon alley shop for his brother to invent and test new products. He turned the corner into the curved street out of the village, facing him at the apex of the curve was his new home. Each time he saw it he could scarcely believe it belonged to Hermione and himself, not long ago he couldn't have owned a shed in the village. Like most of the properties in Hogsmeade it could accurately be described as picturesque, its white washed stone walls pierced by traditional windows with their twelve panes of glass in each. The front door was set beneath a thatched porch which matched the roof, roses climbing the supports on either side of the wooden stable type door. The front garden behind a white painted picket fence was a confection of colour from the cornucopia of colourful blooms, some giving off a remarkably sweet scent which filled the air in welcome to their home. The fine, sand coloured gravel path, edged with red bricks set diagonally on end forming a row of low triangles pointing to the sky, linked the gate directly to the porch exactly half way between the two low, tightly trimmed hedges that separated their garden from those of their neighbours. It was a cottage Hermione had long admired since her first visit to the village back in their third year and now it was theirs. Ron was still confused about Hermione describing it as a “chocolate box cottage”, it didn't look like any box of chocolates he had ever seen. The previous owner had died in the battle of Hogwarts, their adult sons both now lived in Chester, and had no need of the house and had been overjoyed to sell it to the couple, who, in turn, were ecstatic that it fell within what they could afford, thanks to their earnings of the previous year. They had even had money over to buy furniture to supplement what they had been given by Hermione's parents. Out back were some out buildings, another colourful flower garden, a well stocked vegetable patch and a paddock large enough for Quidditch practice, complete with a small orchard. A large pond was set near this boundary of the land, with a summerhouse overlooking it complete with a terrace to sit on, on warm summer evenings, watching dragon flies float on their gossamer wings amongst the reeds and tall bull rushes, in the small marsh on the other side of the pool of water. Ron guessed it was this wetland that gave the cottage its name of “Titch Marsh Cottage”. Even the view across the back garden and paddock was awe inspiring, the mountains forming the backdrop to a wild field crossed by a stream, and on a low embankment, the railway used each day by the Hogwarts Express. Its passage south each morning leaving a trail of smoke in its wake, and the sounds of it's return in the evening, adding a romantic ambiance to their evenings on the terrace of the summer house.
He was more content now than he had been for years, life was good, he enjoyed his work, had a nice house to live in with room for flying in a wonderful place, and best of all he had Hermione, the love of his life. For him things simply could not get much better. He smiled as he opened the gate and saw her hanging curtains at the sitting room window, he waved as he closed the gate and walked up the path to the door. Opening it he called, “Hi love, hows it going?”
They had decorated the hall the day before. Hanging his coat on the hooks, he noticed Hermione had added a small table with a large vase of flowers as a welcome to their home, above it was a photograph of them both, taken by Mr. Swiftshot as their home's guardian portrait, though it was much smaller than Harry and Ginny's, more in scale with their house. A mirror was hung on the opposite wall next to the door to the sitting room. Three stairs were visible in the hall, they led to a small platform from where the stairs to the first floor sprang at a right angle to the first few. Further down the hall were doors leading to a dining room opposite the sitting room at the front of the house, then the kitchen and scullery at the back.
“Almost done in here Ron, everything OK at the shop?.”
“Quiet, but that gives us a chance to get the warehouse in order.”
Hermione emerged from the sitting room. “Good, we should be able to do the dining room after lunch. Just a couple of things left to do in here, won't take me long. Would you make some sandwiches for us while I finish off?”
“Of course. I'll bring them in to you when they're ready.”
She nodded and disappeared back into the room while Ron went to the kitchen. Ten minutes later, he emerged carrying a tray with sandwiches, two glasses, and a jug of pumpkin juice. He carefully nudged the door open with his foot and walked into the sitting room. Hermione was sat on the sofa staring into space, so, putting the tray on the coffee table, he sat next to her.
“ Lunch 'Mione”, he said, startling her. She jumped, knocking the coffee table and causing the pumpkin juice to splash a little onto the tray.
“What?” she cried, then realising what had happened, she calmed down. “Oh! Sorry Ron, I was miles away.”
“I noticed!” he chuckled syphoning the spilled juice with his wand. “What's wrong?”
“Oh nothing really. Just thinking.” She shook herself and changed the subject. “Your Mum and the twins came round this morning before going to the hospital, they helped for a little while, but Tarquin and Delilah were full of going to Harry and Ginny's last night. Seems they showed Dudley a mini Quidditch match and he loved it. Your mum had a long talk with Petunia, looks like they are going to settle in our world.”
“Wow, hope Harry's coping with his cousin and Aunt in the house.” Ron replied and took a bite out of a sandwich.
Hermione reached for one herself. “It's only been a day Ron, I am sure they are coping all right. Molly says they are all going shopping this afternoon, Kingsley is visiting them this morning, sort out some paperwork for them apparently, so I am sure they will settle in time.”
They ate their lunch then sat enjoying a rest before resuming unpacking and decorating. Hermione fell silent again, her thoughts drifting.
Ron nudged her, “'Mione, are you sure everything's all right?”
“Yes, I'm sure Ron, mind wandering again, that's all.” She snuggled up to him.
“It's just not like you love, unless you have a book to read of course.” He smiled.
“Oi! I'm not that bad,” she grinned back.
They both laughed. “Five more minutes, then we had better get started on the dining room,” she sighed.
Ron nodded in agreement. After five minutes relaxing, his arm round her as she leant against him, he looked down at her. She was staring across the room, a glazed look in her eyes. This had been happening more and more, recently. She occasionally just seemed to be elsewhere, and Ron wondered if perhaps she should see a healer. He followed her gaze to a picture on a side board, she must have placed it there this morning. It's simple wooden frame matched the wood of the piece of furniture on which it sat. It was one they had bought in Whitby on their last visit, it showed the abbey and adjacent church atop the cliff next to the harbour. He looked back at her, her eyes were transfixed with the image, just as she had felt drawn up the steps to that place on the day they had bought the picture. What was it that drew her to that cliff top of all places? He had no idea and doubted Hermione did either. “Hermione.” he called and again she jumped.
“Right Ron, lovely as cuddling like this is we had better get on or we shall never get finished.” She said it as if nothing unusual had happened.
She stood, picked up the tray and walked to the door, looked back at Ron's bemused face. “You coming Ron?” she asked.
He nodded rose and joined her.
“Really Ron, are you sure your not overdoing it at work?” she said gently as they left the room.
Swiftshot was looking a little alarmed. “I assure you I didn't do this Mr. Potter. I cannot explain it, but every time I exposed the negative to make a print this was the result sir. I shall destroy it immediately for you.”
“No, Mr Swiftshot, in fact, can you do me an enlargement please, a big one?” Harry smiled sadly, looking at the photographer.
“Of course I can Mr. Potter, but I don't understand.” He looked puzzled.
Delilah tugged Harry's sleeve. “Do you know them Professor?”
Harry smiled .“Yes Delilah, though I thought it was impossible for them to be at the wedding, let alone in the pictures.” Ginny squeezed his hand reassuringly, and as he paused to gather himself, he smiled to her briefly then added. “You see they died, a long time ago.”
He gazed back at the picture where the two figures smiled happily at him, he smiled. “If you would do that Mr. Swiftshot, same style frame as our portrait please.” He turned to Petunia who was looking puzzled. “Aunt, looks like you and Dud weren't my only relatives at the wedding after all.”
“Don't be daft Harry, we haven't any one else, unless Vernon was hiding.” She was now very puzzled, then her face became a mixture of sadness and realisation. “You said they were dead? You can't mean....”
“Who?” Dudley asked, as his mums hand flew to cover her mouth, tears welling in her eyes.
“Dudley, come and meet your Aunt and Uncle.” Harry smiled.
Mr. Swiftshot's eyes widened, “You can't mean that they are...” His initially startled voice faded away as the revelation set in.
Petunia and Dudley moved across the shop to look at the image. Petunia gasped as Lily waved enthusiastically to her. “Oh Lils,I am so sorry.” she murmured, turned to Harry, tears rolling down her face and hugged him, finally grieving for her sister.
Well over an hour later with shopping done, and magically sent back to Grimmauld place, they decided to floo home from Fred and George's shop, rather than walk back. George greeted them cheerfully as the twins ran through the door.
“Hi you two, come to see your favourite Weasley I see.” He grinned.
“Hi George, we got new brooms...” Tarquin said excitedly
“....From Eli and Maggie.” Delilah finished.
“That's great.” George replied as the rest of the group entered the shop. “You shopping or just passing through?” He asked the others.
“Just passing through this time George.” Molly replied.
“That's OK”, he said, winking at the twins and passing then something which caused the two to giggle as they pocketed the gift.
“That better hadn't be anything dangerous George.” His mother said warningly.
“Of course not mother, you wound me.” He dramatically feigned being wounded. “As if I would put anything dangerous into hands so young. Just something they may find useful when they get back to school.”
The twins were giggling harder than ever, but settled when they saw Molly's stern glance. “Yes well, so long as it doesn't get them in trouble.” she said thoughtfully.
“Hey Dudley.” George turned to Harry's cousin. “I am working on that job for you, we are expanding again up at Hogsmeade. We've got a new storage facility up there, I will talk to Ron tomorrow about it for you, he runs things up there, so I have to sort things out with him. I expect it will be sorted by the time Harry goes back to Hogwarts, so you'll have time to settle in a bit mate.”
“Thanks George, sounds good to me, I'll need time to sort out where to live though.” Dudley grinned looking round the shop in wonder.
“Don't worry about that, I have a thought about that too, just right for you. Tell you what, I'll organise all that and we'll get you in here to see the stock and what we do before you go up there. If you like it the jobs yours.” George grinned.
They agreed for George to collect Dudley the next afternoon, and they all went through to the fireplace leaving George in the shop. Harry and Ginny took one of the twins each through the Floo, Petunia nervously travelled with Molly. Andromeda took Dudley, with Teddy laughing between them.
Dudley and Petunia took some time to recover from their first trip by floo, it was not an experience they had enjoyed particularly. Kreacher put the large picture from Swiftshot's on the wall in the entrance, it would be the first picture any visitors to their house would see. Harry fell asleep on the sofa whilst the others admired the photographs in the album. The twins and Dudley entertained Teddy until he joined Harry for his afternoon nap, during which the twins persuaded Dudley to show them his car in the workshop. It was still dirty from the journey up and down the motorway, but once the twins had tested each seat and looked at the engine, they found some rags and set about cleaning and polishing it.
The rest of the afternoon passed quickly and as Dudley and the twins returned to the lounge Maria arrived straight from work. She had started at the Ministry in the department of magical law enforcement support office the week before, and was enjoying the job. She hugged Dudley and was then shown the wedding photos while he showered and changed. He returned as Harry awoke, just in time to say goodbye to Molly and the twins as they left by floo to the Burrow, promising he would give them a ride in the car soon.
When Maria heard that Dudley and Harry were returning to Privet Drive, she had wanted to go with them, she was worried about Dudley going. Ginny however persuaded her to stay when she and Harry promised to keep their link open so they would know if he needed any more help, though they didn't expect to have to much trouble with a team of Aurors with them.
The Aurors were meeting them in the park near Privet Drive, Harry took his cousin by side-along apparition.
“That was better than the floo,” Dudley gasped when they arrived in a quiet corner of the park and started walking to the meeting point, “Still odd though.”
“Takes a bit of getting used to, so does the floo mind.” agreed Harry. “When you have lost a bit of weight I'll take you up on a broom Dud, though Maria might want to do that, she has a Nimbus 2000 same as my first one.”
“There are times I wish I was a wizard like you Harry.” laughed Dudley “Then I remember the battle you guys had to fight that most muggles know nothing about and am glad I ain't.”
“Yes, not all fun, there are some drawbacks on both sides of the divide. Oh here they are.”
The team of Aurors arrived with a series of pops, the one obviously in charge pointed his wand at the two young people. Harry recognised him as the head of the department.
“What was the last element of training you passed?” the Wizard asked Harry.
“Concealment, which I passed preventing an attack on Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in April this year, in the woods between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.” replied Harry.
“Hello, Harry.” he responded with a smile, “Good to see you again. Sorry about that, had make sure you were you, you know.”
“Of course you did Alphonse, constant vigilance as Kingsley would say,” said Harry testing the other wizard.
“You mean as Mad Eye would say.” Alphonse corrected.
“Glad to see it's really you my friend” laughed Harry. “This is Dudley my cousin by the way, it's his dad who is the problem.”
Alphonse realised he had been tested and laughed. “Mad Eye taught you well Harry, testing without the target realising, well done mate, glad you are still on form. I'm sorry your illness has stopped you joining us this year, I need you on my team.”
“I know, but it can't be helped I'm afraid, you know where I am though, and I will see you at cabinet.” Harry said, then looking round the group, he recognised the Auror's who had helped in his and Ginny's protection last year and introduced Dudley round the group.
“Right Dudley! Lead the way. When we get to Privet Drive we'll decide how best to approach this.”Alphonse suggested.
“Sure, this way.” said Dudley indicating the way to Privet Drive.
He led the group out of the park and into the street. All the wizards were in muggle suits and no one cast the group more than a second look as they walked down the busy street. As they emerged from the alley into Privet Drive, Dudley nudged Harry.
“Aunt Marge is here.” Harry saw the Range Rover and groaned.
“Alphonse, there is a complication. Vernon's sister is here, that's her car. If she's here, that means there will be a number of spoilt dogs here with her, and Vernon is more likely to throw his weight around in front of her. She won't be pleased to see us either, especially me.” He warned the auror, who nodded acknowledgement of this information and gathered the others to brief them.
Vernon and Marge were relaxing watching the early evening news, glasses of whiskey in their hand, while dinner was cooking in the kitchen. The dogs were laid on the carpet between them quietly snoozing. Vernon had had a productive day at work, knowing Marge was looking after the house, and there, should his wife or son return as he expected they would. Her main activity that day had been to exercise her dogs in the local park, where she had berated the gardener, who had the audacity to complain that she wasn't clearing up after them and offered her a free poop-a-scoop so she could do the task. The cheek of the man, acting as if her dogs little tokens were diseased and needed clearing up. If a child was stupid enough to get the stuff on themselves that was hardly her responsibility after all. She glanced down at her little darlings, smiling fondly at them. Suddenly one raised its head and looked to the door barking, causing Vernon to jump. All the dogs stood and ran to the door barking madly.
“Someone's here” said Marge just before the door bell rang and the dogs fell silent. “That's odd! I've never known them do that. They usually let whoever it is know they are there until I get to the door at home.”
Vernon stood “I'll see who it is.”
Dudley rang the bell, and as the dogs fell silent, he looked round and smiled as Alphonse put his wand away and winked.
“They won't be a problem now.” He said.
The door opened and his father looked out. Seeing Dudley he grinned.
“Dudley my boy! You're back, I knew you would see sense.” Vernon eyes then fell on the rest of the group, spotting Harry.
“Son, what's going on and why is that freak here?”
“Nice to see you too, Uncle” said Harry, only slightly sarcastically, grinning as he felt Ginny's reassurance through the link.
Dudley smiled “Aren't you going to let us in?”
“Dudley, you know you are welcome, but I don't see why you need all these people.” Vernon answered.
“We'll discuss this inside Mr. Dursley if you don't mind.” Alphonse said as Dudley led the way in.
“Hang on! No, wait a minute! I don't want all of you. Marge, call the police” he blustered as the whole group pushed past him.
“I don't think that will be necessary, your son has invited us.” Alphonse said firmly “Besides, we shan't be long, so long as you allow your son to do what he came for.”
They went into the sitting room as Marge was picking up the phone.
“Dudley!” she called, as he led the way in, she smiled as she saw him. Harry followed him in and her face fell.
“You! I might have guessed filth like you would be behind this, you worthless sponger. Let's stop you being a burden to my brother once and for all!” she spat, and began to dial.
Harry calmly pointed his wand at the phone and the line went dead.
“Hello Marge,” he said, replacing his wand in the pocket in his robe. “ As pleasant as usual I see. Sit down won't you, this is none of your business.”
“How dare you speak to me like that, who do you think you are you ungrateful little runt?” she shouted, but fell silent as Vernon came in with the aurors, all with wands at the ready.
“I suggested you sit down. Dudley has something to do here and it is nothing to do with you.” Harry said firmly “We are here merely to support my cousin.”
“Dudley, are you allying your self with this scum rather than your father?” Marge demanded.
“After what he did to mum, or at least tried to do, if I hadn't stopped the oaf, yes .They have given us a home, and been far more welcoming than you have, even though we are not magical and are outsiders.” Dudley said. “Now sit down, and shut up!”
Marge turned purple with rage and began to speak, but Harry waved his hand and a chair slid across the floor behind Marge and she fell into it.
“Dudley! he pushed me, see what sort of person he is?” She bellowed.
“No, he didn't, and I know what sort of person he is, an honourable one” Dudley told her.“He, Aunt Marge, is a wizard and so are the gentlemen with me. Dad lied to you about where Harry was at school, and he lied about what he was doing. Harry is a hero, even the queen recognised that when she knighted him, so shut up and let us get on. I don't want to stay in your company, or your bully of a brothers company, longer than I have to.”
“Vernon, the boys brain washed, he is delusional, wizards, hero, knighthood, what claptrap! Anyone can see the freak is worthless.” Her words were cut short as one of the Aurors silenced her with his wand. Her mouth was still moving, but no words were coming out.
“Blimey, is she half banshee?” said the wizard.
Dudley and Harry laughed as Vernon looked in alarm.
“What have you done to her? How dare you.”
“Mr. Dursley. We are here to collect the rest of your wife's belongings, and those of your son. If you will listen to him, he will tell you more.” Alphonse told the angry man.
Vernon stared at his son. “Well Dudley? what's going on? Why have you brought these bloody freaks into my house? You know I am a reasonable man son, you know I would forgive you when you came home, what have I ever done to deserve this?”.
“Mum and I have left you, as her note said. Mum is sick of the way you behave and I can't say I blame her. Trying to hit her was the final straw. I believe we have a letter from her solicitor for you, and we have a court order preventing you from stopping us removing the property listed, and
from having any contact with us that we do not seek. These gentlemen are here to serve that order, and ensure neither you or dear Auntie interfere. Harry is here to help me gather the belongings and take them away.”
“Son, haven't I always treated you well? I don't know what happened. Can't you see it's the boy's fault, we should never have taken him in.” Vernon pleaded.
“No Dad, it is your fault! You decided to treat Harry badly, you told mum she could have nothing to do with her family, when she decided she wanted to. She has never even seen her sister's grave because of you! Mum has realised Harry is the only part of the Evans family left and needs to be able to see him. We tried to explain all this to you, since we got back from Derbyshire. We gave you a chance to change, but you are too pig headed to see anything except your own petty prejudices. You think you can bully everyone else to get your own way, including me and mum as soon as we disagreed with you. You lost my automatic loyalty as soon as I saw that. I only stayed for mum's sake. Harry has forgiven us for what we did to him, you can't see the cruelty we all inflicted. I am just glad he is generous enough to allow us to wipe the slate clean. Professor Dumbledore was right. You nearly made me like you, you damaged me too. Thankfully, it wasn't too late for me to change and see the mistakes I was making. Bullying others didn't earn me respect, that is earned not forced. I can see that, despite you, not because of you. Harry and his wife have welcomed us into their home despite our history, we are at the start of a new life, mum has a job to go to in September, hopefully I will have one soon as well. Best of all,we have our freedom, freedom to be who we want to be.”
“But Dudley, they are good for nothing freaks, weirdos” His father blustered.
“Guess what dad, they aren't the freaks. I feel sorry for you dad, you had the chance to have two sons, you blew it through your own narrow mindedness. You had a chance to allow what I now know is simply a special talent to flourish, you tried to destroy it, violently. You really cannot see that all life, especially human, is special. You had the chance to broaden your view, you're too narrow minded to see it. You had a wife and a son that simply asked that they be allowed to see all their family. You wouldn't let them, and this is the result. you have lost us dad, through your own stupidity you have lost that.”
“Utter rubbish! I haven't lost you or your mother.” Vernon spluttered, dropping any hint of trying to placate his son, his temper showing again in frustration. “I give it a week before you come crawling back. Then we shall see who is narrow minded boy. Marge was right, the runt and his weirdo friends have brainwashed you. If you think their sort are normal it's the only explanation. I have never been anything, but generous to you and your mother, tolerating the boy at her insistence, can't you see I have done nothing to harm either of you.”
“You tried to hit her dad, you would have, if I hadn't hit you first to prevent it.” He shouted, then turned to Alphonse. “I can't get through to him, let's get this over with.”
Alphonse nodded. “Whenever you are ready Dudley, I suggest you and Harry start upstairs. We'll keep an eye on these two.”
“You aren't taking a thing without my permission boy. I want Petunia here too.” Vernon moved, and tried to block the doorway.
“Oh Uncle, stop being silly, you can't stop us and Aunt will not come here.” Harry sighed “At the moment she never wants to see you again. Now, please get out of the way, the sooner we're done the sooner we are out of this house.”
“You don't scare me boy, this fantasy about my family will stop here and now. I don't know what you have done to them, but you will fix it right now.” Vernon growled.
Harry shook his head sadly. “Dudley, do you want to carry on with this?”
“Yes Harry, we need our things.”, his cousin replied just as sadly.
“Very well. Vernon, out of our way, or I will move you.”
Vernon snorted “I'd like to see you try. Boy”
Harry sighed. Wandlessly, he cast the spell and waved his hand, and Vernon found himself floating a few inches off the floor, around Harry, and back into the room. He landed gently. “I don't want to hurt you Uncle, unless you make it necessary. Now, Alphonse here has some papers for you, I suggest you sit down and read them.” Harry said to him and he and Dudley went up the stairs.
Alphonse then started showing Vernon the various legal papers Petunia had signed, including notice that she intended to file for divorce.
Upstairs Dudley looked at Harry “Well, that went about as well as expected.”
“You did well Dud, I'm proud of you, it can't have been easy standing up to him like that. I'm just sorry he wouldn't listen to you and respect those choices.” he reassured him. “We aren't out of the woods yet though, we still have to get out of here in one piece, after we cast the spell that ensures they don't reveal what they know of our world. Right let's get this done. Pass me the list, we'll do this the quick way.”
Dudley looked in amazement as Harry summoned each object both wandlessly and silently, produced trunks to put everything in, then levitating them down to the hall. Harry took one last look in his old room, which apart from furniture, was now bare, and then with the task complete, they went back downstairs and repeated the procedure for those rooms, Marge frozen to her seat as usually inanimate objects floated past her.
Vernon insisted on checking the contents of the trunks against a copy of the list before they were taken anywhere. He argued about several of the items, Marge silently prodding him in encouragement, but the aurors were having none of it. If it was on the list it was going. Vernon then tried to break some of the objects, but a simple reparo charm soon fixed them, to Vernon's frustration. As soon as he had checked a trunk, Harry sent it to Grimmauld place. After he had sent two, Vernon objected loudly.
“Boy! stop doing that, you can take them out the normal way or not at all.”
“This is the normal way for us, Uncle.” Harry said firmly.
“I mean normal for us normal people boy, it's bad enough having you filth here without you doing that.”
“Don't worry father, after today you won't need to worry about people doing magic in this house.” Dudley sighed.
“I don't know what what they have done to you, Dudley, or your mum, but if you go now and fetch her, I will forgive you both for all this.”
“Forgive us, for what?” Dudley was getting angry.
“Leaving me, of course!” Vernon said. “And bringing all this on us.”
“Dad. Get it through your skull, no matter what nonsense you think, it is you who should be begging forgiveness from us! And if you were half the man you think you are, you would know that.” Dudley shouted.
Marge grabbed Dudley and shook him. “How dare you speak to your father like that, if you were in your right mind you would never behave like this, now snap out of it!” she screamed.
Harry pointed his wand at her, just as Vernon lunged at him, and knocked him to the ground. “You will undo whatever you have done to my son, boy, and tell me where my wife is you freak.” Vernon spat, raising his fist.
Suddenly, Vernon found himself floating upside down near the ceiling next to his sister, looking down at Harry, who simply stood up having caught his breath from the impact. He looked round to see two Aurors putting their wands back in their robes.
“Well, we tried it the nice way, what shall we do with them now?” one the Aurors smiled as Vernon bellowed in rage swinging his arms to try and grab Harry who was just out of reach. Marge simply seemed frozen in fear, ashen faced and wide eyed as she hovered above them.
“Let's get the rest of this stuff home then do what we have to, I can't be bothered with these two worthless lumps any more.”, said Harry, mentally sending reassurance to Ginny who he knew had felt his fear as Vernon had attacked, and was about to apparate to him with an anxious Maria.
Dudley nodded briefly and sadly, so Harry sent the remaining trunks to Grimmauld Place. Once the trunks were gone, he floated Vernon and Marge to the sitting room, and put them into chairs, binding them so they could not attack again.
Dudley looked at his father. “Well, thank God I am not like you. A pathetic bully, who wants to hit women. Goodbye father, I hope you soon realise what you are, though I doubt it. I pity you for what you have lost because of that...”
His father looked at him, realising he had lost his son's loyalty forever, but feeling no remorse . “As far as I am concerned you are no longer a son of mine!”
Dudley nodded sadly. “Fine... If that's what you want, it's your loss, not mine.”
Harry watched as Dudley turned away from his father, and put a hand on his cousins shoulder. “You OK, Dud?”
“Yes Harry,” Dudley sighed. “I think I'm done trying with him, he's a lost cause. I'm just sorry I wasted my life trying to be like him.”
“Don't live in the past Dudley, you are no longer the person you once were. Perhaps some people can't let themselves change as you have, I am glad you had the strength to, and I respect you for that, Dud.”
Alphonse turned to them. “This won't take a minute, then we'll see you off , and Dudley, well done son, you have earned my respect too, you have coped well. if you were a wizard, I would want you on my team.”
Dudley nodded his thanks, and the two cousins left the room to wait in the hall while the Aurors set to work casting the charms to prevent either muggle revealing what they knew of magic, then they all left the house and headed back to the park. As they passed, they noticed a “For Sale” notice board had been erected outside Mrs. Figg's house.
Dudley was depressed as they walked back to the end of the street, where Alphonse turned and released the two muggles from their bonds, but not from the timed release sticking charms he had placed on them. It would be another ten minutes before they could leave their seats. Then, he caught up with his team and fell in to walk next to a resigned looking Dudley.
“Don't worry Dudley, he'll be all right.” He said to the young man.
“I know... I just hoped he would have changed a bit. Seen what a twit he's been.”
“Sadly, some people never accept responsibility for what they have done. I'm afraid your dad's one of those people. You showed great character back there, lad, I meant what I said about you back there. Even without magic you will go far in our world, young man, not because you're Harry's cousin, but because of who you have become.”
“I hope so, it's all rather scary at the moment.” Dudley smiled weakly.
“Yes I guess it is, but you have Harry, the Weasleys, and from what I hear, young Maria with you already, they'll look after you. I am a bit worried though, you are at a disadvantage. If you don't mind Dudley, I am going to find out if there is anything you can do to help protect yourself magically, especially for when Harry and Ginny are back at Hogwarts.”
“Thanks, but I don't know magic, it isn't in me.”
“I know son, but there are things that can be done.” Alphonse told him “I need to talk to Maria's dad actually, as he's an unspeakable.”
“Oh sorry, I'm not being rude about him, he works in the department of mysteries. We call them unspeakables, because they can't talk about a lot of their work you see, but he'll help if he can and so will I, young man.”
They had reached the park, which was now deserted, the sun was beginning to set and the light was fading. Harry and Dudley said goodbye to the Aurors, and apparated home.
They arrived in the back garden, and were immediately flung to their backs as Ginny and Maria ran to hug them.
“Are you all right love? I was starting to get a bit worried, especially when Ginny sensed Harry's fear...” Maria asked through tears as she released Dudley and he got up again
“I'm fine love. He made a surprise attack on Harry, knocking him over, but the aurors dealt with that.” He kissed her, while Ginny let Harry up and they walked towards the house where Petunia was waiting in the doorway. Harry looked up at Petunia.
“Marge was there.” He told her.
“Oh, I bet she was pleasant! Trust him to go running to her.” Petunia sighed.
Dudley told them what had happened, while they made their way to the lounge, where Kreacher had put some pre-dinner drinks ready for them
Dudley looked round once he had sat down. Not seeing the trunks, he asked “Did everything arrive?”
“Yes Dud, Kreacher has put the trunks upstairs, your mum checked them as they arrived. You can sort them out tomorrow, dinner is soon anyway.” Ginny said. “By the way, Maria, are you staying tonight? You are more than welcome, there's plenty of room.”
“Yes I will, if that's all right, but I had better let Mum and Dad know.” Maria suddenly thought of something. “Oh Dudley, this morning Dad said you could spend this weekend at ours if you like. We can go to the match from there, meet the others at the pitch.”
“Sounds great to me, give me chance to get to know them as well as spend time with you.” said Dudley.
“Use the floo to contact them Maria,” Ginny told her. “Talking of the match, the tickets should be here tomorrow.”
The king of Jorvik was pleased with himself, confident he was doing enough so that when the time came, he would be chosen by the church. His weak squib brother had been dead five years, along with his Norse puppet masters, and in those years he had done Archbishop Hrothweard's bidding. Trade had fallen at first, word having spread of his coup, via the sea captains that had fled as his and the churches army had struck, but trade with the Saxon south had soon increased again, and now even Norse ships were returning, bringing the trade and wealth back to the city. Through the taxes he had increased, on the Archbishops instructions, both he and the church were growing wealthier, and dissenters he had judged to be abominations in the eyes of the church had been killed or fled at mere suggestion of the charge. Some, he knew, were like him, magical. He had revealed their secret to protect his own. Some, had tried to gain his protection knowing he was one of their kind, but he had instead converted them without compensation. The more he killed them, the more the Archbishop, and therefore the church, were pleased, and the more favoured he was. Where there were disputes between land owners, he ruled on the case, ensuring loyalty from others by knowing where the loyalties of those in conflict lay. None could disagree with his adjudication though the loser was also instructed, often painfully, to adjust the error of questioning his position above them.
He was King of Northumbria, and life for him was good. He worked hard to ensure that, but the church believed in Alfred’s dream, that there should be one King of all England, and the church was rich, the church was powerful, and it was they who would make the one King. This meant he had to do their bidding, at least for now, but his lust for power meant he wanted to be that King. To do that he needed the blessing of the church and he would do anything to get it. Jorvik’s archbishop was second only to Wessex’s one at Cantwaraburh, making the King of Wessex and he of theoretical equal importance, though he knew, as his rival was a descendant of Alfred, it was that King that was the favoured one. He needed something to tip that balance, something to prove he was the better candidate. He knew his rival need do nothing to prove himself to the powerful church, but he would have to prove beyond doubt he was the one Alfred would have wanted, even above his own blood. He needed one great achievement, just as Alfred had, with his victory over the Vikings from his position of despair, so King Styr needed an event from his position of power. That of course meant he needed a more powerful enemy than the Vikings had been for Alfred, or rather, an enemy of the church of that stature, but who? Only his own kind were so hated by the church, he knew they could be powerful. The problem was, he knew they were spread thinly throughout the country, hardly communicating with each other. He didn’t know many, and those he had not already betrayed, had fled for their own safety, he knew not where. Besides, it was hardly likely they would have gathered in one or two places, more likely individual households of them would be hidden amongst the muggles, the only wizards for miles around. To round them up would take time, too much time, even if he were sure he could identify where they hid. No... his own kind would not provide the answer he needed. If not them, then who?
The students gathered outside the doors of the vast new castle in their finest clothes and richest jewellery, weapons gleaming at their belts. Only Utred amongst them carried his own sword, the Creaftas and others carried ones from the school's armoury, though no other wore chain mail armour as he did. He had also donned golden arm bands and a richly decorated helmet from his horde, and in common with his fellow students of Gryffindor's house, he wore a red cloak trimmed with yellow. The gathering of students in their finery looked to him like the gatherings of a Lord and his Huscarls his father had attended at the palace at Jorvik for the start of the Kings court each year. He soon found his friends as they awaited the four founders arrival on the steps of the castle, and just visible in the dusk were four objects, placed carefully on the stones. None of the students knew what they were for.
The sun finally set, casting the lake, long houses, and newly built castle into darkness, the shadow of smoke drifting from the village masking some of the stars visible in that direction before the moon rose over the mountains. Torches flared alight near the four old houses, then more burst into life, marking a quintet of paths from each founders house, through the apprentices, and up to the castle. All eyes were on the huts that had been their homes until today, waiting expectantly for what they knew was about to happen. The founders emerged from their respective house simultaneously, and walked symbolically along the lines of torches, the student’s parting to allow them through, as they left their Halls for the last time, and transferred to the castle.
The four reached the entrance together, and climbed the steps to the main door, turned to face the crowd of their collective apprentices, and moved to stand, one next to each of the objects that awaited them. Helga Hufflepuff was by a very large, highly polished cattle horn, Rowena Ravenclaw beside a shiny metal eagle shaped door knocker, Salazar Slytherin by a large carved stone serpent head, and Godric Gryffindor by his shield which bore his symbol. Each tapped their wands on the their chosen object, which began to glow, they then began intricate wand movements over the objects before beginning to circle them, continuing to cast complex spells, as ribbons of light appeared between them, then faded. This task complete, the founders stood in the silence of the crowd as if waiting, there was no noise at all, even the wind was still. It seemed as if even the elements and gods were stilled in anticipation.
Minutes passed, and still no noise, the students dared not speak for fear of destroying the ceremony that was planned, then it came. A barely discernible constant rumble, as if an army were moving in the distance. If it were an army Utred thought, they were heading this way. The founders heads turned towards the direction of the noise, and the students looked in the same direction, as movement could be seen in the trees of the forest. The sound was the soft foot and hoof fall of the magical creatures that had settled there, led by the Centaurs and Unicorns. They emerged from the trees in a line, and slowly made their way towards the crowd. The herd was vast and marched in stately manner led by six bright silver unicorns and a group of Centaurs gently prodding a wild boar with spear points. They continued, as the others stopped, clearing a path through the students towards the steps, the boar squealing and grunting as it was prevented from grazing or escaping. They reached the steps, as another sound came, this time from behind the students. The waters of the lake began to boil, sending waves crashing on the shoreline, as hundreds of heads began to appear on the surface and move closer to the edge. The Mermaids, Grindylows, and other creatures had arrived.
Ulf and Eric moved towards the centaurs and passed between their horse-like bodies carrying a rope made of linen. They tied the boar, and gently laid it before the steps. The unicorns and Centaurs then swiftly moved to the side of the steps, and Nymphs leading four Hippogriffs came forward and built a pyre. Once done, the populace of the forest moved to form a line around the students, down to the lake where its inhabitants were now lined along the shore. A large fish was passed from the Mermaids to the nearest Centaur, who struggled to hold it, and his neighbour moved to help. Even with them both carrying it, and with the strength of their species, they struggled under the weight of the fish as they bore it to the steps. When laid next to the boar, it was clearly almost the same size. All attention was now back to the steps up to the main doors, whilst the two centaurs returned to their positions. Erik and Ulf drew their swords and held them in readiness over the two sacrifices, the blades shining in the light from the flames of the torches. All was ready, and Ravenclaw stepped forward, her hands raised in front of her.
“The blood of the gifts of our brethren who dwell in the forest, the lake, the grounds and the sky will bind the protections to this place as it soaks into this earth. The flesh of these offerings will strengthen the wards as it is turned to ashes and given to the soil. This sacrifice ensures the magical security will spread from this castle to all it's land and water preventing the uninvited from attacking this place and taking it from us.” She intoned. “The spells on the founders objects will form the key to the wards, each imbued with our essence and the same charms to increase the strength by four, for whilst all four are in place no wizard or magic can harm this place or those that dwell in it. The sacrifice of these gifts completes the charms and gives them the strength to last for many generations to the ends of the world.”
Ravenclaw's words complete she fell to her knees, as did the four founders and students. The creatures bowed their heads as the swords of Erik and Ulf fell, killing the fish and boar, allowing the blood to spill onto the ground.
Slytherin's voice was then heard, “We thank the Sacrificed for their blood, flesh and spirits. Know your lives in this world were given for a worthy purpose, and were not needlessly taken.”
The whole assembly, still bowed, repeated his words, knowing the ritual was vital for their own protection. They remained in this position, until the four objects began to glow, and ribbons shot from the ground to each of them. This was the signal that the last of the blood had been spilled, and they rose in the new light and a flurry of flaming arrows flew over the students and into the pyre as Hufflepuff levitated first the boar and then the enormous fish on to it. Not a single arrow missed its target, and soon the flames rose as tall as the castle itself, to the sounds of loud cheering as the crowd sent the spirits of the sacrifice to the heavens in triumph,
The doors of the castle slowly opened, revealing a dark interior. The light from the flaming torches and pyre illuminated the steps, but did not penetrate the interior at all. The gathered inhabitants of Hogwarts fell silent as Gryffindor raised his hand.
“Apprentices, my friends, today sees the culmination of a dream, my Master, Merlin’s, greatest wish was for a school to train all witches and wizards in this country, for ever. When Merlin left us, I found three others who desired to educate the young to use their natural ability, to fulfil that dream here in this remote place of safety from the growing fear of us from the muggle world. For five years we have gathered together as many as we could find and have taken you in as our apprentices, living in the buildings we could erect quickly. Today our permanent home will be completed, albeit with certain additions to the original plan we had...” The founder smiled fondly towards the Creaftas before continuing. “ I expect we haven’t found all the modifications that have been added as yet though. However as founders of the school we have one final responsibility to complete our castle. The four objects before us have been charmed to add our magical essence and linked both magically and through the sacrifices now complete, to add protection to the very stones and grounds of this place permanently. Once in position they will reside in our houses within in the castle, fulfilling our pledge to protect those who reside within these walls and grounds. They will also be a visible reminder of our values and pledge as long as the school stands.”
As he finished all four raised their wands, and the artefacts they had charmed earlier rose, then flew through the doors, and instantly the entrance hall was lit. Those outside watched as the windows of the school burst into light, as the artefacts flew through the corridors and up the stairways, past classrooms and cupboards until every window was illuminated and with the objects in place, the building appeared to grow before them as more windows glowed with flickering light from torches within. Suddenly when all torches were lit the entire building glowed with a magical aura which expanded past the crowd to the boundaries of the grounds then faded slowly, as the protective charms were activated. A loud cheer rose from the crowd, some blew horns as they watched the light fade. Then the celebration started, it would last until the pyre was just embers and then the feast would begin.
For the next two hours students danced and revelled with each other and the Centaurs and Nymphs, some even entered the lake to celebrate with the mermaids, whist the Unicorns watched and the Hippogriffs flew performing an intricate ballet in the sky. Not to be out done the Grindylows mimicked the flying antics in the water, this of course turned into a competition between the two species, one that no one afterwards could tell who had won. Utred and the Creaftas celebrated along with their girlfriends and found themselves near the pyre as the last of the flames died down and a horn sounded signalling the time for the feast was upon them.
As the noise died down the four master wizards stepped forward, Hufflepuff called “Would our staff enter the castle and make their way to the Great Hall and take their seats at the top table.”
The other teachers and Erik and Ulf walked in, followed by a phalanx of house elves. Then one by one, starting with Gryffindor, the four called their houses forward, and led their students in to their new home.
All of Gryffindor's students sat at the table set aside for his students, in the hall beneath the ceiling created by the Creaftas, which showed the stars in the clear night sky reflecting the actual sky outside. They watched as each founder led their students to their table, before the four masters took their seats in the centre of the top table. Once all were seated, golden plates appeared on the table, each student retrieving their knife from the pouch on their belt as platters and dishes of food appeared and the feast began.
Utred looked round the hall as he ate, remembering the work to construct the building, this part of the castle had been the last to be built, and was the centre piece of the complex school. It’s grandeur was enhanced by the flickering flames in the torches on their brackets in the walls, and hundreds of floating candles. The light reflected from the windows which were filled with glass, a rare and expensive material in the Muggle world. He remembered his mother had a few glass beads which all who saw them had been in awe of. Here they had simply transfigured sand from the lake into the window panes which would have amazed muggles because of the amount of the rare material used on the building. His eyes glanced down the Gryffindor table until they came to rest on his group, sat together with their girl friends, all chatting happily.
Tigelwotta and the pretty, red haired great grand daughter of Merlin himself, Hilde Peverill, was a powerful witch three years his junior, they had only recently become a couple. Skorri and Lifa, younger sister of the Wesele twins, meanwhile had been inseparable since she had arrived at the school two years ago, she a mirror of his character. The Wesele twins had been captured last year by two friends a year below them, Leoforwic by a long haired blonde beauty called Godiva, and Egil by a dark haired, dark eyed seer called Tofa.
Utred felt his hand captured by the figure stood next to him, Frayja, older sister of Skorri, she had arrived at Hogwarts at the same time as her brother. Frayja's touch was always reassuring, and she was a fierce fighter, both magical and muggle styles. In fact, all the Creaftas women were, as a group they were the most skilled in the school and had each even beaten all four founders in both disciplines. All the girls had decided to wear their sleeves long, and cover their heads in public, like married women. The Creaftas accepted this sign, although weddings were yet to take place, and allowed the girls to wear the wealth that would be usually due to their wives.
The fires burned in the grates as the students ate the sumptuous feast, Erik's hunt had been successful, going by the amount of boar, venison, pheasant, partridge, duck, goose, and even swan that was available in the various courses that kept appearing on the tables. There was, of course, a plentiful supply of Oysters throughout the meal, it was a memorable feast to mark the opening. Entertainment was provided by dancing nymphs who floated amongst the tables, and flew gracefully beneath the ceiling which showed a cloudless star filled sky, and the occasional Thestral flying over the roof on their nightly hunt. The students conversed during the feast, about how their lives might change now the castle was complete, or even about plans for life after they finished school, with news still reached them of more wizarding deaths in the outside world. Utred felt satisfied, he had been here five years, worked hard and played hard, this was home. He had found his soul mate here in Frayja, they had already planned to marry, and Godric had given his blessing as their master, so life could not be better. They sat closely as the story teller and minstrel performed after the meal, both giving news, and relating old stories in their tales and songs. They could feel each others love, words were unnecessary between them.
Much later, as they made their way to Gryffindor's house in a tower of the school, he was relaxed in the security the school offered him, though he had not forgotten his oath on the day he discovered his parents death. Yet, the feeling that there was plenty of time to fulfil his vow of vengeance both nagged his conscience but also steeled his resolve to be patient, to bide his time and told him the opportunity would come to him. There was time for all that later. Today was for celebration, tomorrow? Well tomorrow the Creaftas biggest prank in the building would activate, it had been planned and installed more than a year ago, but had lain undetected for now. They reached the new Gryffindor Common room and entered. Above the mantle piece was a large picture of a large woman, above her was the charmed shield, high up in a depression in the wall edged with stone in a perfect circle.
“Welcome to your new house, my son's house.” The portrait smiled. “I will be here to keep an eye, and lend a sympathetic ear should you need it. You may call me the same name I was called in life. I am the Fat Lady.”
Utred smiled. Godric had not told them of this, he now had a way of knowing what was going on in his house even when not here. His master had pranked them, though not as well as he knew was yet to come.
The first rays of the sun lanced over the city, the light attempting to cut through the thick pall of smoke rising from the host of thatched roofs of the houses within the walls that surrounded it. The streets were thick with mud and filth from discarded rotting rubbish, most of the buildings were wooden, though some older small stone buildings survived. The citizenry were rising, a few had already ventured to either use the cesspit in the yards behind the houses, or to tip slops in the area where the family pig was kept. Soon the days business would begin, each householder setting up a stall at the front of their house, selling all manner of goods, from shoes to jewellery, items made of gold and silver, or bone, horn and antler. Wood turners started working on their pole lathes and the noise of a busy city would rise in the shadow of the new wooden cathedral, near the largest surviving Roman built house, the Kings palace. The palace had once been a magnificent city villa, now parts had crumbled and been replaced with wood, in common with the city walls, which had been extended with wooden palisades, the tall stone built ancient wall cutting the City in two. The cathedral was built on the site of the most important Roman building within their defences, whilst the palace was just outside the gate, in the other half of the city, though with a direct, wide street between. It was in this time, as the city began to awake and the river defences drop to allow ships to enter or leave, that a strange figure suddenly appeared in the courtyard of the palace.
The king was just waking, as he heard the distinctive pop of someone arriving by apparition. This was unusual, few of his own kind had the ability to get past his wards in such a manner, so he lay wondering which of them it could be, and what reason they could have for such urgency. After a few moments a servant knocked on his bed chamber door and entered on his command.
“My Lord,” The servant began. “There is a man to see you. Says he is your old master. He demands the presence of yourself and Thorfin.”
The king's mind snapped into full wakefulness. So, the time has come, he wants my son to be trained by him as he promised, he thought. “Have him await me in my hall, do not disturb my son.” He commanded.
The slave nodded and left, the king picked up his wand, and with a quick flick of it he was dressed, smirking as he thought of what the Archbishop would have said had he seen it. Not disturbing his wife, he left the bedchamber and walked through the corridor in the old Roman building to his family hall. The painted plaster on the walls was faded and the images in the panels were barely visible though the borders and base colours still survived, but the mosaic floors the ancients had laid were still in place in most rooms, small tiles creating pictures and patterns under foot. Such was the case in the corridor and in his room.
He had been apprenticed to the man as a boy, unlike his squib brother, and knew he was a skilled wizard, who had earned his loyalty at the time. He may betray his own kind, but not this man, though he was keenly aware of the danger the timing of his master's arrival could cause. He had to be careful. His master was a shrewd man, and would detect deception instantly unless he took precautions, though the danger was not just from this direction. If his master's sudden appearance be reported to Hrothweard, then his plans to rule England would be at an end, hell, his rule of Northumbria would be over. If the king allowed his son to go with this man now, the disappearance would have to be explained to the church, again, this would be disastrous to his position and plans, this would need careful handling. He could not deny his son apprenticeship without betraying his mentor, but nor could he allow him to take the boy without losing everything, which he could lose anyway by meeting with him, instead of imprisoning him, which he certainly could not do. The king had been his only apprentice all those years ago, and he had been taught Legilimancy and Occlumency early in his training. He erected his shields as he entered the room. The skills may be useful in discovering hidden agendas, but he dare not reveal what he had done to others to this man.
His mentor stood in the middle of the room with his back towards the door the king entered from, but turned as he heard the pad of leather on tile.
“Greetings, your Majesty.” The tall wizard stated slickly.
“Salazar, it is good to see you again.” The king acknowledged, feeling his master prodding his shields. He allowed him to see some benign thoughts.
“As it is you, my apprentice. I see life co-existing with muggles agrees with you. No trouble from the Christians, I trust.” Slytherin withdrew from his apprentices mind.
“Nothing I can’t handle Salazar. The Archbishop here is powerful, and so has his uses.” He smiled, bravado should cover this he thought. “I can manipulate him, he has no idea what I am, he is quite amiable to my rule, it has made him wealthy.”
“I can imagine that will be necessary for a man with the ambition to rule more than Northumbria. Especially with so many of our kind fearful of being put to death.”
The king knew better than to show his discomfort, how much did this wily old wizard know? “What news do you bring my master?” He tried to deflect the conversation, a fact that Slytherin noted.
“Times are difficult for us, but we take what measures are necessary to preserve the bloodlines that remain, though it is not easy of course.” Salazar responded, knowing his former pupil was withholding information from him, not a good sign. “I see a time coming, when we must separate ourselves from the muggle world completely in order to survive.”
“We?” The king was surprised, his master had been an isolated man when he had served under him. Even if his people had found a place to gather and hide, he couldn't see Slytherin joining them.
“Yes. Some of us have taken action to protect our kind. I now teach at a school, close to an almost all magical village. Four of us founded the school on Gryffindor's land in the north beyond the wall. In fact, I came to take your son there as my apprentice. I am the only one of the four to see we should restrict our teaching to pure bloods in these times, to protect our important families. So, I came ahead of any of the others to invite him to join my house.”
So. He had joined with others. Would it be worth raising an army for them? Surely it was but a few, so he could safely ignore them, but what if it wasn't? He had to know. “Yes, well, as to that, I expect you to take only him. If he is to continue my work, he needs particular attention.” Styr commented, apparently idly.
“That he shall receive, under my tutelage, however he will also learn from others whilst being under my care.”
King Styr thought for a moment, then spoke. “Very well, I shall send him once I am confident I can do so without arousing suspicion . However. I would like to see this school of yours myself. I trust you, Salazar, but you say he will not just be taught by you.”
“I shall arrange it if you wish.” The older wizard replied, wondering what his most trusted student was up to. News of his rule had reached Salazar's ears, and even if it had not, his alarm bells were ringing about his former student. Perhaps if he got him alone to the school, he could find out more of the Kings intentions. “Though, we have just last night moved to our permanent building.”
“No matter, it will be good to be with my own kind for a while.” The King forced himself not to smile. This was his chance to assess their strength, and if they might provide the gift he needed for the church. One thing was certain, Thorfin would not be going to this school, at least not as apprentice to this man. Though, he would have to keep up appearances to avoid his mentors suspicions, and he knew Slytherin well enough to know he had them.
Salazar's eyes narrowed slightly. Could he trust his old pupil? He was up to something. Mind, he always was, and he hoped this display of trust would be rewarded. “Come we shall endeavour to reassure you.”
They apparated instantly, Slytherin taking the king, before he could object, or call a guard to accompany them.
They appeared in front of a large stone castle overlooking a scene of great activity, as a large number of people were dismantling four great long houses on the field that led down to a lake. The king watched as some used wands to remove the planks, while others levitated them into the central, larger, fifth long house.
“The students are progressing well on the removal of our old accommodations” Salazar noted. “Your son will be joining us at the right time, we have last night moved to our permanent school which is far more comfortable, Styr.”
The king grunted, observing the students at work. There were over 100 of them engaged in the activity, using their magic practically. A number of adults were helping, but he noted, two were not using wands, but were attacking the wood with hammers, muggle style. He concentrated his attention on them, were they muggles? If so what were they doing here?
A student approached the two as the king watched, he looked vaguely familiar. He could not hear what was said, but as the two turned to the student, he recognised them, Ulf and Erik. He had not seen them for years, not since his men had destroyed Tang. The muscular youth collected a number of planks and turned towards the central long house. The Kings eyes widened, as he recognised the son of his dead brother's chief advisor. Utred. He had survived, how was that possible? His body had been reported destroyed in Tang Hall, he could not have been elsewhere, his father would not have allowed that.
As King Styr watched, his nemesis' son disappear into the building. He knew he must stay out of sight, his survival now depended on it. The boy was now a fearsome warrior, as much as his father had been at that age at least, and if he had magic, as his presence here suggested, then he would be even more formidable. The whelp was sure to be out for revenge, his Norse honour would demand it. The last of Styr's doubts disappeared. He had to destroy this place, even if his mentor was in it, or his chances of keeping what he had and fulfilling his ambition were nil. As long as the boy did not know he was here, he was safe from attack, for this visit, but he dare not stay long. He turned and allowed Salazar to lead him into the castle, but as he toured, his mind was on other matters. His son would most certainly not be attending this school, he would be killed by Utred as soon as the runt learned who he was. Still, now he knew of the school it would be useful. The Archbishop was sure to reward him if he gave him this school and so many wizards, he would be King of the land for sure. He, a wizard, would fulfil Alfred’s dream. He began to take note of the schools defences and form a plan for possible attack.
At last it is done. I am so sorry for the really long wait and thank you for your patience as I got over writers block and the demands of my family. I hope the wait was worth it.
Some of you may not have noticed that during the time between this and the previous chapter I had a moment of inspiration and posted a one shot set 500 years after the battle called "The Path". Set at Hogwarts during the first Archaeological investigation by pupils, they are exploring what is left in a certain clearing that can help them understand events during the battle. Writing it did help get over the writers block on this chapter, I hope you have a look at it and enjoy it.
My Thanks to Jascott for betaing this chapter whist AriesGirl was not available, I send her my best wishes. She tells me she is ready and waiting for the next chapter as soon as it is ready.
Many thanks to those who have read and reviewed so far, I look forward to reading any constructive reviews you wish to post.
Don't forget if you have any questions my meet the author page is up on the forum, I am happy to talk there.
Hopefully it will not be too long before chapter 7 is up.
Cantwaraburh = Canterbury
There was indeed an Archbishop of York named Hrothweard in the 10th century, though he was in the post in the early 10th Century. The Archbishop of York remains second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England. The church of the 10th century of course was what the modern Roman Catholic denomination is rooted in, as were both Archbishops of the time, however the two posts were taken over by Henry the Eighths new church when he fell out with the pope and outlawed Roman Catholicism in the UK. They are in fact two of the oldest Christian posts in the UK. Both remain junior only to the reigning Monarch.
Horn was used for a great many purposes, it was the 10th century version of plastic in many respects, it even behaves in a similar manner when heated, becoming flexible until cooled. Horn is actually made of the same material as hair and finger nails and grows around a bone which is part of an animals skull (as opposed to antler which is actually a bone that grows outside the skin). On digs we rarely find Horn objects surviving from the period, unless it happens to have been buried in certain conditions, but we have some. Objects made from horn include, drinking Horns, goblets, mugs, simple musical instruments, even spoons ( very small ones have been found with earwax preserved on them on occasion, no need to be an expert to know they weren't for eating with ), and in later centuries, glazing and lamps.
Sacrifice was an important part of Norse religion as we understand it. Animal Sacrifice was used to bring blessings on a home or endeavour, even after a successful trading trip or as a trade voyage was begun. The biggest slaughter would be for the mid winter festival when a giant pit would be dug and animals both hunted and raised would be mass sacrificed, including an expensive horse if the community or household were wealthy. Also part of that would be the Sacrifice of a prisoner, a criminal sentenced to death. Human sacrifice of criminals may also take place at the start of a voyage of war or even a battle, afterwards a captured enemy may be sacrificed to give thanks for the victory. However often on raids only one human would be left to tell the tale and spread the fear. A poor family may sacrifice part of a crop or some coin instead of an animal as the meat was more valuable as food. The ritual I used in the story is based on the animal sacrifice and would have been quite common at the time for calling blessings on a home or newly launched ship. Knowledge of such rituals have survived in writings and saga's of the time. Although the writings of monks such as those of Asser, Alcuin and others must be tempered with other sources as they are coloured with the church of the time's view of the events. Remains of sacrificial pits have been found and from the remains within we can discover some aspects of the rituals involved. I have tried to combine information from both sources in the story.
Huscarls: Sworn men of a Lord who had been elevated to nobility by their lord and rewarded with land for their service. They formed the Lords council of advisors and may one day be Lords in their own right.
The description of the City is based on the preserved remains under modern day York, particularly those found under Coppergate. The smell would be strong, due to rotting rubbish, and was preseved by the water logged soil. Once excavation uncovers the partly rotted material and the air gets to it then the decomposition of the rubbish resumes. A good indication in York that the Anglo Scandinavian layers have been reached.
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