Chapter 10 : A Future to Forge.
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A Future to Forge.
Petunia watched the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw first years excitedly entering her class room. The time table had theoretically given her an easier group for her first lesson. Although she had seen these students sorted the night before, she had shared the nervous anticipation of beginning a new life with them. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves as the students sat at the desks.
“Settle down quickly, please.” she called in what she hoped was a confident voice. The noise level dropped and the students looked to her attentively, so she continued. “Welcome to your first Muggle Studies class, for those who missed it in the excitement last night, I am Professor Evans. Now you know who I am, let's find out who you all are.”
She turned to her desk and took the register, looking up as each child answered. That done, she stood and walked in front of the desk and looked at the class. “Now, I will do my best to remember all your names, but like you, today is my first day at Hogwarts. I never came here as a child and know very little about the magical world. As a result, I expect I will learn much from those of you who were brought up in this world, in the same way you will learn from those of us from the Muggle world in this class.” She paused letting that sink in. “Now in this class this year you will learn about the Muggle world in this country, its history as it is taught to them. Its culture, customs, transport, entertainment and technology. We shall of course be comparing it with the wizard world and examining how the two interrelate with each other. However I do need to know what knowledge you already have, so could you raise your hand if you attended a Muggle primary school before coming here?”
Most of the students indicated that they had.
“Good, that means most of you have a basic knowledge, for those of you who didn't, don't worry you will soon catch up, and as I said, I for one will need you to help us compare the Muggle way of things with the wizarding way. Now, I have brought into this room numerous Muggle artefacts that belong to either my son or myself, we shall today simply divide into groups of three or four and examine the objects. Please ensure that each group has at least one person who did not attend a Muggle school in it. Once you know the purpose of the objects your group are looking at, I want you to decide if there is a wizarding equivalent, and if so what that is. We will do that for twenty minutes, then come together and each group will report their findings to the class. Please keep the noise at a reasonable level while you work. Now let’s organise groups.”
She passed amongst them and divided the class into groups and directed them to a group of objects. As they worked, she walked round the class, pleased to see that each group was engrossed in their work, and she only intervened in any of the groups to help identify any object none of the students had seen before. When the class came back together, she went round each group in turn, getting them to report what they had found. Many of them were surprised how many things Muggles achieved with technology, that Witches and Wizards did with magic. They even discovered a couple of things for which there was no comparison in the magical world. Petunia assured them all that she was positive the same would be true of some things in the magical community. This developed into a comparison of how each community viewed the other, the Muggle myths of witches and wizards, wizard myths of Muggles, and the differences between those views and reality. She concluded the lesson by awarding points to both houses, which was well received, then setting a homework project, which was less well received. The bell sounded, and Petunia dismissed the class, as Nearly Headless Nick arrived and Petunia sighed in relief.
“Sounds like it went well, Professor.” the ghost smiled.
“Yes, I think it did.” She replied. “Now I have no classes until after lunch today, so I need to go to my first Potions session with Horace, if you would be so kind Sir Nicholas.”
“Why certainly, my Lady.” He grinned.
Petunia enjoyed the rest of her day, she held a similar lesson with the second class of first years, and her first second year class too. She was tired but content as she sat with her colleagues in the staff room after dinner, chatting about the first day of term.
Dudley too, was enjoying his first day in a new job. He arrived at Weasley's new factory unit, nervous, but excited. Ron had shown him round Hogsmead and introduced him to a number of the residents during the last week. Dudley was, in fact, the only resident Muggle in the village, but was made to feel welcome by all those he met. Having been round the village, Ron had then shown him round the shop and the new factory which Dudley would be running. Together with George and Ron, he had been on the panel which had interviewed and appointed the remaining staff for the warehouse. Today was the first day that all the staff would be together, ensuring everything was in place for the formal opening at the weekend. Dudley went upstairs to his office as soon as he arrived, and soon he was joined by the department supervisors they had appointed. Ron, as head of the Hogsmead shop, joined them for the briefing before the rest of the staff was due.
Dudley looked at his senior staff, the witches and wizards he would be relying on to ensure each section worked smoothly. He had of course met them individually, but this was the first time they had all been together. “Good to see you all,” he smiled, “Perhaps it would be best to introduce ourselves first, though you all already know myself and Ron Weasley who runs our Hogsmead shop.”
The four heads smiled and one by one introduced themselves. There was Emelda a twenty something witch who had previously worked in the shop dealing with mail orders, a duty she would be overseeing in the new facility. Joe was a middle aged wizard who had previously worked in the warehouses of Nimbus Brooms; he would be supervising the warehouse section, including deliveries from suppliers and to the two shops. He and his staff would also be distributing supplies to the factory section and stocking the small store in the mail order section. Cassandra was in her thirties and had left a job in Flourish and Blotts to oversee the factory section. Introductions completed, Dudley and Ron briefed them all on what remained to be done before full operation could start. The three supervisors would brief their staff, assigning tasks.
Dudley walked round the large building at mid morning, ensuring he spoke to every member of staff. The mail order department was outside his office, and it was in a state of mild disarray as the six members of staff were unpacking products to place on the shelves, familiarising themselves with each line
At lunch time Poppy arrived to weigh Dudley. He was losing weight well, and she was monitoring his progress each day from now on. This weekend he would be taking the antidote, once he reached his weight.
“Still feeling OK, Dudley?” Poppy asked once she had weighed him.
“Yes fine, though a little guilty at the amount I ate at the feast last night.” He grinned.
“Don't worry about that dear, it shouldn't affect the potion as long as you don't have that much every day.” Poppy reassured him. “How are you settling in?”
“Fine, I find it fascinating living here. I haven't yet fully unpacked, but I’m getting there. The flat upstairs is great. Ron and Hermione have invited me to eat with them each evening, until I'm settled. Though Maria comes over every evening to help me too”
The healer grinned. “Good, your mum is settling in up at the school, her first class went well this morning from what I have heard too. Right, we are done here so I'll get back, see you tomorrow.”
The afternoon started with a full staff meeting, ensuring all were happy with how things were progressing. Assembly had discovered a glitch in the system for receiving the supplies they needed, this was resolved in consultation with the warehouse staff. The warehouse had just received the supply of new catalogues over lunch, so they would be transferred to the shops and mail order section from where they could be distributed. Dudley assured Emelda he would pass the mailing list to her after the meeting, so they could send them out this afternoon. Emelda also raised the issue of caring for the Owls; she could see that all the departments’ staff would be too busy to do that task once they were going at full strength. After some discussion, during which Dudley learnt exactly what was required to look after one owl, never mind forty, he agreed to talk to George and Ron about employing someone as an owl keeper.
By the end of the day Dudley had been able to tell Emelda that Hagrid had volunteered to come in every evening to look after the owls’ needs. The warehouse and Assembly lines were working well, and over 300 customers had received the new catalogue, the first order from it having arrived at the very end of the day. Dudley sat cuddling Maria in his flat, relaxing after a long, but productive day. In half an hour Maria would have to go home, but right now life couldn't be better.
The twins, too, were happy, they had been welcomed without question by their fellow second year Gryffindor's last night and this morning, even the older ones had made sure the twins knew they belonged now. Today they started lessons. Their first was potions, with Professor Slughorn treating them as he always had, but once he had set the class their task and was making his rounds of the desks, he spoke to the twins.
“Now you two, have you settled into your new house?”
“Yes sir.” answered Tarquin.
“Good. I was sorry to see you go from Slytherin house of course, but I am glad you are settling in well. You might find your old house mates a little less keen, I’m afraid. I have warned them I will not tolerate any kind of attacks on you. Even so, sadly, I suspect some of them may attempt some form of retribution for the loss of you from our house, knowing what students can be like. I advise that you stay close to your new friends when not in class, at least until the dust settles.”
“Yes sir, thank you.” Delilah smiled “We know that the rivalry between houses might be a problem, and our fellow Gryffindor's have said they will keep an eye out for us.”
Slughorn nodded, then continued his rounds. At the end of the lesson, the twins had produced a good cauldron of the potion and earned points for their house, leaving the classroom for Herbology, feeling proud of themselves.
As they left, the other Gryffindor second years joined them and they all walked to the greenhouses. They passed a group of Slytherin's in the entrance hall; they said nothing but glared at the twins and the group as they walked by chatting and laughing.
That weekend, because of the visitors coming at the end of October, all four houses held Quidditch try-outs, Slytherin and Ravenclaw on Saturday, whilst Hufflepuff and Gryffindor had theirs scheduled for Sunday. Although rivalry between the houses was, of course, as high as usual, the normal spying at the other try outs would be unnecessary, as the whole school were aware of them and would attend. As a result, there was little chance of having many secrets about who would be on the teams this year, and the expected vacancies on the teams were well known. The Gryffindor team had lost two chasers over the summer, last year's having graduated. However, for the second year running, the Slytherin team would need to select for most players. Slytherin house had lost most of their seventh and sixth years in February, following the attack on Harry and Ginny, when many from those years had tried to defend the Vengeance soldiers who had carried out the attack. The fact that none of them had returned to the school this year, had decimated the strength of the team. Only Styles, the Keeper, remained from the previous year's team and so was now the team captain.
As sports mistress, Ginny supervised the try-outs, and was available to the captains to advise on methods of testing the abilities of candidates, however she would not interfere in the choices made.
Only six people tried out for the Slytherin team, so it was brief. Styles simply chose them, and then made them fly for all positions, to see which they were best suited to. He had no problem with beaters and chasers, leaving one as seeker, who was not that skilled at the position and would need much training. They left the pitch after half an hour to change, the spectators leaving to wander the grounds or do homework until lunch.
After lunch, the Ravenclaw captain spent two hours selecting a team. The only new member selected was an excellent find of a second year as Keeper, the rest had all been on the team previous years. Unlike the Slytherin's, the team remained on the pitch until an hour before dinner, using the time to practice. Harry was watching with Ginny from the edge of the pitch.
“They are going to be a strong team this year.” he said appreciatively, as the chasers flew, passing the Quaffle between them taking a shot at goal which the new keeper skilfully saved.
“Yes. A good balanced team, not like the Slytherin's I think Styles has gone for brute force, not that he had much choice in it.” Ginny commented
Harry nodded “Probably selected in the common room rather than on the pitch. They are going to be a difficult team to predict.”
The next morning, Hufflepuff's captain methodically selected her team. Last year’s seeker lost his place to a very skilled second year, and they replaced a beater who had left, together with their keeper. Ginny thought the new team was a fairly solid one despite the changes, as she watched them fly in the time remaining to them. The old seeker, a seventh year, appeared to be disappointed, but had congratulated his successor, then confided in Ginny that he was rather relieved to be able to concentrate on his NEWT's without team practice to fit in.
Tarquin and Delilah enthusiastically ate a quick lunch, before collecting their brooms and rushing to the changing rooms to get ready for the Gryffindor try outs. When they emerged with the other candidates, the new team captain sorted them all into the position they wanted to try for, and then started the trial. He was a chaser, and missed his old partners, and so he left that selection to last to enable him to fly with them and assess how well they all worked together.
The twins had thought it would be difficult to adjust their style to accommodate a third chaser, but in the event, whilst they naturally found it easy to anticipate each other’s moves, they found they were able to do the same with the team captain. Landing at the end of their trial, he announced his verdict with an excited grin on his face.
“Well, I think we have found potentially the best chasers I have seen outside the league. We will, of course have to work on different plays together, but from that trial, I think we would all gel together well. I will try out the others, but they are going to have a hard job beating you two.” He said to them, clearly pleased.
The other hopefuls for chasers all took their turns, and half an hour later the captain gathered the rest of his team together in a huddle. All of them had been on the team the year before and had won their places back earlier. They all seemed to come to an agreement and the captain turned to face all the hopefuls.
“Well, I’m grateful to you all for trying out, but I think you all know that two of you stood out from the rest. I am glad they came to our house this year; I would hate to have had to face them. My one worry is their lack of experience in a variety of weather conditions, but I am sure that with them we will have a strong team. So, well done Delilah and Tarquin, you're in.” He smiled.
The twins were ecstatic, as first the captain, then Coates the seeker, then the rest of the team shook their hands happily. Even the others who had tried out were happy for them as they all went in to get changed. They left the changing rooms a little later with the rest of the team, all chatting excitedly about the forthcoming season. A group of Slytherin's were waiting outside; they moved to intercept the Gryffindor's
“Got your turn-coats then? No wonder Potter had them re-sorted. He wants his house to have an unfair advantage.” The Slytherin captain sneered.
“What's your problem Randle? Just because you know your house has the worst team in the school. Perhaps if they learned one end of a broom from the other, they might get in the air.” The Gryffindor captain retorted and led his team back to the castle, the twins safely in the middle of the group.
In the common room he took the twins to one side. “I get the feeling the Slytherin's are going to try to intimidate you two. Just know this. You have made the team because you deserve it, don't let them say any different. From what I can tell and what I have seen of you this year, you are now in the house you always should have been.”
The twins nodded and thanked him, then went to write to Maggie, to tell her they had made the team.
Harry and Ginny were pleased the twins had made the team, and had seen the team rally round them when the Slytherin's had taunted them. They were sat with Hagrid outside his hut, and watched as the team had returned to the castle. They were glad to see the twins settling into their new house so well, but knew that the Slytherin's would not let the fact they had lost the best chasers in the school rest. The honeymoon period was over for the youngsters. A few minutes later, they saw Horace and Petunia walk back to the castle, Horace had been with her to see Dudley and the village.
“Who would have thought to see that a few weeks ago?” said Ginny
“I know” laughed Harry.
“Horace has taken a great interest in aunt. I wonder if he is looking to be my uncle?” He joked.
“I don't think Petunia's ready for a new relationship just yet Harry, besides you know Horace, I think it's more to do with memories of your mum, she was one of his favourites.” Ginny said seriously.
“I know love, I was kidding.” He smiled and cuddled her.
They finished their drinks and said goodbye to Hagrid, and set off to the castle as an owl flew from the school heading south.
“That will be the twins letting Maggie know.” Ginny grinned as they watched the Owl disappear over the mountains beyond the lake.
“It's Romulus today.” Harry acknowledged.
The twins had written to Maggie every day so far, the owls taking it in turns to fly to London. Molly had written back for Maggie, who was not well enough to write much herself, but dictated the letters to Molly. Maggie's health was deteriorating, she knew she may not have long to live, but seemed content with that. She had plenty of visitors, including Molly and Arthur. Kingsley and Oliver Gresley came often, as did Andromeda with Teddy, who always cheered her up.
Molly was there when Romulus arrived on Monday morning; she read the letter to Maggie which told her the events of the day before at Hogwarts. She had been pleased they had been sorted into Harry's house, and knew they would have been over the moon that they had made the house team. Molly wrote the reply Maggie dictated, ready to send back with Romulus later, after the owl had rested, and then Maggie looked at Molly.
“What did Arthur say to my idea, my dear?”
“He agreed Maggie, but we know you will get better. Ron says your cottage at Hogsmead is nearly ready for you, it won't be necessary.”
“Molly, please. I need to know they will be looked after, I'm not going to see them again, you know that. It will only come into force when my time comes, they deserve to know they won't be on their own. I am their legal Guardian, their father at least had enough sense to relinquish his parental rights to Eli and I, all I am doing is making sure they will be fine and have stability after I am gone.”
“All right Maggie, Arthur and I will do it, of course we will, if they haven't come of age when you do go, we will sign it, he's coming while Oliver's here.” Molly soothed.
Maggie smiled then closed her eyes. Her steady breathing told Molly she was sleeping. A healer came in and greeted her then ran her wand over Maggie; she slowly shook her head as she took out her quill and wrote notes the charts at the bottom of the bed.
“She's getting worse isn't she?” Molly asked.
“Yes, we are monitoring her hourly now, and she is deteriorating each time I'm afraid. I think the end will be soon for the poor dear.” The healer replied.
“I had better let Hogwarts know then, get the twins down here tomorrow perhaps, to see her.” Molly commented sadly.
“If she is still with us,” said the healer. “I am not sure she will last the day to be honest she is fading so fast.”
“Well I will let the school know. The children are her next of kin, they might get them here today if I Floo Minerva soon.” Molly said.
Andromeda came in with Teddy and nodded as Molly went to Floo the school, she sat with the sleeping Maggie as Teddy played quietly on the floor.
Harry, Ginny and Minerva were discussing how the Quidditch trials had gone, and the forthcoming visit of the Bulgarian team. They had finalised all the arrangements they could, until more information arrived from the Bulgarians, so Harry took the opportunity to raise the happy problem they shared over their elves.
“Minerva.” Harry began, “Now that's done, we had better talk about Kreacher and Winky, this seems to be the first chance any of us have had since the start of term. We have also approved of their desire to marry, so what happens now? Kreacher said we needed to get together about it.”
“Ah yes.” Minerva smiled “Officially, we do need to discuss it because in theory they are from different households, so usually the two owners would have to discuss replacing the female elf. That said, Winky is only here through being a free elf, she came with Dobby, so is an employee, not bound to the Castle as our other elves are. Hogwarts will not require a replacement elf, but we must do something or they will be offended.”
“Yes it is a bit different, how about we put some money into the scholarship fund or something?” asked Harry.
“Yes that's one possibility” said Minerva. “Yes, I like that but the school already has a number of those, I was thinking of nothing quite so grand. How would you feel about replacing some of the school brooms, you know how old the ones we have are?” said Minerva.
“Yes, or could we do something for the elves, do their quarters need improving.” asked Harry, thinking of Hermione as he said it.
“Excellent idea Harry, yes they could do with a revamp, and the governors are reluctant to spend much, so anything you want to do there would be great.” The headmistress smiled.
This was agreed, and the two elves summoned to be told the news. The elves were delighted with the idea, and told them that more beds were the most desperate need as they currently had too few, and all needed to share the small bunks in shifts.
Suddenly Molly's head appeared in the office fire place.
“Oh thank goodness I have caught you all.” Molly said. “It's Maggie; the healers are not sure how much longer she will last. They suggest that if the twins are to see her again, it needs to be today.”
“Of course they can Molly; we will sort that out for her.” Minerva answered in a business like way, before her shoulders slumped and her demeanour saddened. “Those poor children, how much more are they going to have to go through, first their mother dies, then there’s the way their Aunt treated them. At last they get love from Maggie and Eli, only for this to happen. Another change is the last thing they need. Where will they go next?”
Molly sighed, “I know Minerva, but don't worry. Maggie is a determined witch, she and Eli had discussed things, and she has made arrangements for them with a family they know well already. Anyway, we are not at that stage yet. I'll go let the Healers know the twins will be here soon. Thank you Minerva, I'll see you all soon I expect.”
As Molly's head disappeared, Minerva turned to Harry.
He nodded understanding. “I'll tell them Minerva. I'm head of their house, so it's down to me, and one of us will go with them, if they want to go.”
“Thank you Harry, but let Ginny go with them, you need to let the rest of your house know, so they can be there to support the twins if needed. You also have a class this afternoon, Ginny doesn't, so it’s better that she goes.”
Ginny nodded, and they both went down to the great hall. Harry collected the twins and slowly took them up towards his office, while Ginny quietly asked the prefects to come up in ten minutes with Martin. She joined Harry and the twins at the top of the main stairs. Harry was talking quietly to them.
“Delilah, Tarquin, we have had a message from Mrs. Weasley about Maggie and it's not good news I'm afraid. She is deteriorating fast, so we want to give you a chance to go and see her if you want to. Ginny will go with you so you aren't alone.” He smiled gently. “So would you like to go?”
“She is dying isn't she” said Delilah softly, looking to Ginny.
“The healer thinks so, yes. This might be your last chance to talk with her. Mrs. Weasley, Mrs. Tonks and Teddy are there waiting, if you want to go. The plan is you will be back for dinner.” Ginny said as comfortingly as she could.
“I want to see her.” Tarquin said firmly, his eyes betraying his sadness.
“So do I.” Delilah agreed, suddenly determined.
Harry smiled and put a hand on each of the twins’ shoulders. “Good. Ginny and you two will Floo to St. Mungos when we get to our office then.”
Maggie had brightened at their visit, but the twins recognised it was a show for their benefit, and not the reality. Maggie had reassured them, telling them not to worry as she had made sure they had a family who would look after them well. She told them she was proud of them making the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and that she hoped they did well. They had told her about their new friends and life in the new house, but despite her pleasure at seeing them she had tired quickly and fallen to sleep. She had woken just in time for the twins to say goodbye, before they left with Ginny, to return to the school.
The twins were depressed when they returned to Harry's office, where he was asleep in a chair. He awoke as they stepped from the fire.
“Back already, what time is it?” He asked.
“Nearly time for dinner Harry.” Ginny smiled.
“Oh right. “ He smiled then looked to the twins. “Are you two all right, do you need to talk, or do you want to go down for dinner?”
The twins told him about the visit, and how Maggie had reassured them.
“But what does she mean about living with someone else? Who?” asked Tarquin.
“I don't know for certain, but I think I could hazard a guess.” Smiled Harry “I think Maggie has made sure you will never be on your own again, if it comes to it.”
Ginny was stood behind the twins and smiling, nodded as they looked up at her. “And I think she knows you will have lots of fun with them too.”
“But will we still see you two, even after you finish here?” Delilah enquired puzzled.
“Oh, I think we can guarantee that.” said Harry grinning. “Come on, as Ron would say, I'm starving.”
The twins were very puzzled, though quite a bit happier as they walked down for dinner that evening with their teachers, but did not ask anything more.
Kingsley and Arthur had arrived about 20 minutes after the twins had left the hospital. Maggie was still awake, and immediately asked the Minister for the papers which she signed, then watched as Molly and Arthur signed to show they agreed and the minister witnessed it. The twins’ future was secure, and Maggie thanked them as she fell asleep relieved. It was to be a sleep from which she would never wake.
Orin grinned, as his great nephew rushed round the house excitedly; the boy had looked forward to this day since meeting Utred over five years ago, the day Orin had been reunited with his brother and met his family. The boy was proud to receive a wand his great uncle had made, he had watched closely as the wood, Rowan, had been shaped, and a core of unicorn tail hair added. The components had chosen the boy as his hand had passed over them; the eleven inch wand that resulted was a powerful tool that had bonded with its owner.
“Toki, calm down. Are you ready, it's almost time.” The boy’s father called.
“Nearly, just need my wand.” The boy called.
“It’s behind your ear, dear.” His mother laughed. “Come on now, Orin is taking you to be sorted.”
“Yes mum.” The boy took the wand from his ear and placed it in the holster on his arm that his father had given him.
He hugged his mother and younger siblings, his father gripped the boy’s shoulders as they said farewell. Toki would live at the school, visiting home on days he had no lessons, sometimes not even then. Orin and Toki set off on the walk through the village to the school, everyone they saw calling their hopes that Toki would enjoy himself, as they passed. It was a normal day in the settlement, the front of each house set as a stall selling whatever wares the family that occupied it traded in. The street bustled as witches and wizards went about their business, Toki spotted children playing, yesterday he was with them, but today he was starting his new life. He knew he was one of a group starting today, but he was the only one from the village. He knew the founders and teachers already, he knew many of the students, but it was Lord Utred and the Creaftas he knew the best. He also knew that he and the other new students were the first to arrive not knowing which founders was to be his mentor, which house he would be in. Godric had explained there was a new ceremony to sort the students between the houses, he was glad of that, he liked three of the founders, Salazar scared him though, and he had not looked forward to choosing between them, as he feared he would have to. Rowena, Helga and Godric had been frequent visitors, he had feared that choosing to be one's apprentice would upset the others; all three were like a part of his family.
They passed through the gates and walked up the track, the castle looming above them, appearing to glow bright orange in the sunset, its windows casting yellow flame light piercing the walls , glowing and flickering from within. Orin looked down at him reassuringly as they climbed the steps to the door, the sound of the chatter of the students rolling over them as they stepped into the entrance hall where they were greeted by Rowena
“Good to see you Orin, a place has been set for you at the staff table; we expected you might wish to stay.” She smiled,
“My thanks Rowena, I hoped I would be able, but don't want to impose.”
“Nonsense, for you it is no imposition, you know you are welcome here anytime Orin.” The witch replied fondly.
The old man turned to his great nephew. “I’ll see you inside Toki, we are all proud of you son.”
Toki nodded and grinned excitedly.
Rowena giggled “Come on Toki, the other new students are waiting, we shall follow your uncle in a moment.” she led him to a side room whilst Orin entered the Great Hall.
In the room sat two other boys and three girls, all looking a little scared. Rowena indicated that he should sit with them. Once he had, she conjured a chair and sat in front of them.
“Sorry to keep you all waiting, but we needed you all here first.” She smiled kindly. “Now, there is no need to be worried, nothing untoward is going to happen. In a few moments we shall enter the Great Hall where you will be sorted into your house. There are four houses in the school, each headed by one of the founders who each favour different qualities in students. Your house will be a bit like a family, and has an area in the castle to call its own, though of course you are welcome to spend time with your friends from other houses as you wish. However, you will sleep in the rooms in your house. The founder of your house is your mentor, though we also have other teachers and you will learn from all of us. You will learn to control your powers over the next few years, each teacher having a specialism. You will also learn to use a sword and other weapons if you can't already, and practice if you already can. Once you have been sorted, the senior members of your house will tomorrow show you round the castle. I am sure you will have fun discovering its peculiarities. Now are you all ready.”
The six nodded nervously.
“Right, let's go then.” she smiled.
She stood, vanished the chair, and led the six out of the room, Toki right behind her the others apprehensively following silently. They crossed the entrance, the noise of conversation still rumbling from the hall, as they walked towards the open door. They entered the cavernous room and conversation stopped, as every eye fell on the short procession making its way to the front. Toki had been in the hall once before, with the other villagers, but the others were clearly overwhelmed by the sight.
“This place is impossible.” he heard one of the girls pronounce in an awed voice.
“No!” he responded “It’s magic.”
They reached the front, and lined up facing the teachers table, immediately in front of the other three founders. Ravenclaw spoke loudly. “Fellow founders, these are the new apprentices, they are ready to be sorted.”
The three bowed their heads to acknowledge her statement. Helga Hufflepuff stood, and walked round the table, collecting a three legged stool with a tatty pointed hat on it from the end of the staff table as she passed, and brought it to the front of the table placing it half way along. She stood to one side of the stool, “Hat, are you ready and able to chose which house these six shall serve apprenticeship in?”
The hat jerked upright at her words, and a tear near the brim opened. “I may only have had the power for a few days, but of course I am ready to do my job, after all, you were one of the four who enchanted me to do it, so you should know that.” The hat testily rebuked her.
Helga looked exasperated and quietly muttered, “A simple yes would have sufficed. Trust Godric and Salazar, I knew letting them set the personality was a mistake.”
The hat puffed out importantly “I heard that Helga. There’s nothing wrong with the personality Godric and Salazar gave me. If you ask a daft question, you can expect a daft answer my dear Helga.” it retorted smiling.
The two founders responsible for the hat’s irascible personality and dry humour grinned at the hat's antics, Hufflepuff looking like she was about to throttle them and the hat when it spoke again. “Perhaps we should get on my dear; I can't wait to get delving into my first young minds. It's terribly boring sitting there doing nothing, but contemplating why on earth you couldn't have neatened my patches. I mean what am I supposed to do between sorting s? I don't know; you don't know; perhaps, however, as we have no idea when anymore new students will be found, you and I shall have some time alone to find out before they arrive.” The hat waggled what looked like its eye brows and grinned lecherously.
Godric, Salazar and the Creaftas were, by now, roaring with laughter. Many of the students joined them, whilst others just looked stunned. Helga and Rowena were both doing fish impersonations as they tried and failed to respond coherently.
The Hat sighed “Fine! Looks like I will be contemplating that on my own. In the mean time, do let's get on dear, the students are waiting, you know.”
Helga glared at the hat, and then turned to the new students. “When I call your name come forward and sit on the stool, with the hat on your head. See if you can get any sense out of it.” She told them, causing more laughter from the students sat at the tables.
First under the hat was Toki. Everyone in the hall was watching closely, to see what this eccentric product of the founders would do next. After a moment, the hat suddenly loudly called “Gryffindor.” Hufflepuff lifted the hat from Toki's head, as the Creaftas led the students in cheering as the youngster made his way to the table happily.
The young lady who was next was sorted into Ravenclaw, and she was followed on the stool by one of the remaining boys who went to Slytherin. The next to wear the hat was sent to Hufflepuff, who also received the final boy. Finally, Ravenclaw gained the final new student. Task done, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw took their seats at the staff table.
Salazar stood, silence fell and all attention fell on him. “The first sorting is complete. I hope you will welcome the new students to their houses and the school, and help them settle in. In the meantime, let the meal begin!” he announced.
As he sat, the food appeared on the tables and conversation began again.
The ship's slaves strained against the oars, pulling the vessel up the river, the slave master calling the rhythm, encouraging the lazy with a switch of willow where necessary. The captain stood in the stern, leaning on the great oar used to steer the ship, watching over his vessel, and those it carried. The king’s men and the family they had brought from Dunholm either stood or sat at the bow platform, the three Scots looking a little scared. The captain couldn't blame them, it was obvious to him they were simple folk from the highlands; too lazy to be involved in the raids and totally unprepared for what they would find when they arrived at the city. The bumpkins’ possessions were stowed in the bow, their small wagon, on which they had arrived at Dunholm had its wheels removed, and was under the slaves benches, the mule tied to a post beneath the stern with other livestock for the city.
The sail was down, useless in the confines of the river. It had been lowered as he had steered the boat out of the Humber and into the Ouse, taking advantage of the incoming tide as it flowed strongly up the channel. He had timed the manoeuvre perfectly, more by good fortune than foresight, just as the tide turned in the river; it aided the turn and helped carry the ship into the Ouse as the oars began to bite into the water. He was a regular trader in the city, revisiting it at least once a year as he travelled from port to port between Iceland and Frankia; he had never arrived so late in the year at the enormous City. More usually he would call here in late summer, on his way south to trade in Europe for the winter. Arriving now, he risked being stuck here for the winter, unable to make money.
The time in Jorvik was usually profitable, he was known to carry the best quality goods, and the city's crafts and tradesman were keen to buy from him. He would have no problem selling the skins and furs he had brought with him from Iceland and Greenland, or the wool and soap stone from Shetland and Orkney. He even had some boxes of glass beads from Ireland this year which he had bought on his way north last spring; he knew they would sell well in the city, for the best profit. He would sell what he could and buy some of the city’s produce and raw materials to sell further south, he would have to move quickly if he were to reach Frankia before the storms hit this coast and forced him to shelter in port. Much as trading here was amongst the most profitable in his year, this year he would have little time to enjoy the undoubted delights of the taverns and women within its ramparts.
He would be glad to be rid of the Scots family though. Despite their nerves, they seemed to think they were important now the king’s own men were accompanying them. They had been very demanding on the overnight voyage down the coast, he resented kowtowing to such people. They would have been slaves for the oars in other circumstances, with luck he would never have to deal with them again once he reached the city.
The ship had lost the help of the tide now, and the water was dropping, though he knew the channel was deep enough for passage even at low water, and the oarsmen were battling against the current to keep the vessel moving. She was a good solid ship, built by his father, not the fastest vessel, but its hull was shaped well enough to cut through the water with sufficient ease to beat all but the low Norse war ships that carried men to raid. He had a dozen of his own men aboard for defence and to keep the twenty slaves, who would slit his throat given the chance, under control. He could, and had, taken her into battle once as part of a fleet, the wide beamed boat had bristled with warriors and shields adorned its sides as they attacked. The carved and painted beast figurehead that could be fitted to the bow post lay in the hold, so as not to frighten the spirits of the land at their approach, for they were here to trade not invade. He felt the boat surge forward as the current slackened. At its lowest point, it still flowed against then though not as fiercely, and it would not be long before the incoming tide would help them again. They passed a ship heading back to sea, the smoke from the city making a light brownish grey stain on the horizon behind it. With luck, they had only an hour or so before they berthed on the quayside on the tributary of the Ouse he was headed for. The Fosse flowed close by his favourite city tavern, so he would moor in the smaller river. He would go to the King's Palace with the family and guard, and then he could start making money and go give thanks for safely completing another summer at sea and pray for his continued good fortune in the cathedral.
The feast was over and the students had gone to their rooms. The staff had taken Orin to the founders’ room, which was accessed via a moving spiral staircase. It was the only room in the castle which could be said to be generally accessible that had become guarded, a stone gargoyle standing sentinel, hiding the entrance to the moving staircase that led to the founders own common room. Hogwarts herself had provided a password and clues to guide them to where the room was. She had provided it to give the founders a place to be away from the chaos of the school some weeks before. They sat in the circular room, drinking ale, talking to Orin about events in the village.
“The departure of the Durslieg's has certainly made the village a more harmonious place.” Orin told them.
“Utred misses them already.” Godric chuckled “He had plans for them. I am saddened to lose such a ready excuse for visiting Hogsmead every day though.”
Orin shrugged “You don't need an excuse to visit your village Godric. Do we know what has become of the family?”
“Yes, a bit worrying actually. I received news they had reached Dunholm a couple of days ago. It seems they were arrested mistakenly as raiders, for the raids in Northumbria by our neighbours.” Godric told them.
“Are they all right?” Helga was alarmed at the news.
“Apparently so, at least for now. It seems they were taken onto a ship with their beast and cart by four of the King of Jorvik's men.” Godric sighed.
Salazar’s eyes widened, he knew that probably meant the stupid Muggles were being taken to his old student, whatever purpose that would serve.
“I am more worried by the reports my source heard when they returned to the town.” Godric informed them. “The Durslieg's were initially suspected of being participants in the raids of those lands, but were soon shown to be innocent of that. However, the king’s men took a great interest in what they told them of this school, community, and Hogsmead”
Rowena was puzzled “Why would the Muggle king be interested?”
Orin scowled “The usurper has betrayed hundreds of us to the church, he was long rumoured to have the power whilst I was at Tang.”
“You mean he is a wizard? He is responsible for all those deaths?” Helga's voice betrayed her dismay. “I thought that was down to this church the Muggles cling to now.”
Orin snorted. “Since they supported his coup and annihilation of the Norse nobles, that scum has done all he can to ingratiate himself with the church. He would betray his own mother to get what he wants. He aims to fulfil Alfred’s dream, he wants to rule all England. To do that he needs the support of the Christians, so he does their bidding, without regret or remorse.”
Salazar was stunned into disbelief of these reports of his student’s ambition. Surely he would not simply betray his own kind without reason. The irony of a wizard in the Christian king’s sought-after throne was not lost on him either. Even so, surely even Styr could not be behind the slaughter of his fellow witches and wizards, this claim must be an exaggeration. “He surely targets only those who may betray those in power or have committed some crime.”
Orin shook his head sadly. “Don't count on it Salazar, he ordered the killing of Utred's family the same night he had killed his own brother to gain the throne. The traitor had supported his brother that afternoon, knowing he would betray him a few short hours later. His own men were alongside those of the church when they burnt Utred's Hall in the dead of the night and murdered everyone in the settlement but me. Since then, we know hundreds have been slaughtered within Jorvik's walls, brought there by his men. Magical he may be, but if it keeps the throne he stole, he would betray his own kind without a second thought or regret.”
“Surely you exaggerate Orin,” Salazar’s face gave a way the fear he felt that the old men wasn't.
“I was made to watch as his men slaughtered my friends, even a pregnant woman. I saw him kick away men’s swords as they drew their last breath. I saw him smirk as he murdered children, leaving the ground red with blood, leaving their bodies for the wolf and raven. Women slaughtered alongside their children, only the obviously pregnant taken as slaves. Men died, their swords ripped from their hands, denying them Valhalla. It was not just his men who did this, but Styr himself as well. This was not war, nor even a duel, it was a cowardly attack in dead of night, even the Sceadugengan of the forest were too appalled to come near.” Orin was white and shaking at the memory. “I thank Merlin that man does not know Utred survived, perhaps it gives my young lord time to gather his own army and one day take revenge.”
Salazar paled as he saw Orin's reaction to the memory of that day, it must have been worse than he described to elicit such a response. He thought back on his last encounter with his old apprentice; some of the puzzles from it at last began to make more sense. The man had begun to act differently once he had seen Ulf, Eric and Utred working on the roof of the long house. The change had been subtle; so subtle it would not have been noticeable to any who had spent years with the man at first. Salazar had, at the time dismissed the change, only becoming suspicious when the king had become overly interested in the castles defences. Even then, his worries had not led him to think his first, best student, could betray his own people to such an extent. Certainly he had trained him to be cunning, to forge allies that would help advancement, and to observe others to aid that. Such training encouraged a single mindedness he thought necessary to surviving in an increasingly Christian world. But, that did not mean cavalierly sacrificing other witches and wizards in the way it seemed Styr was doing.
The conversation between the others had continued whilst Slytherin had been lost in shocked thought.
“Godric, we must make efforts to protect more of our people.” The ever compassionate Helga implored. “Seek them out, and bring them here or to Godric's Hollow.”
“Well, we now have one house free in Hogsmead, but in the Hollow, many have moved on and settled in both Wales and even Cornwall, so we have a few houses there. However we mustn’t forget it's a Muggle village; our people have to contribute something missing from the trades in both worlds in order to be welcome, so we are limited to what we can do. The king of Alba is aware of us here, and accepts magical folk, but the Scots are wary of any from south of the Wall, we cannot protect them outside my lands.” Godric listed sadly.
“In other words there is a limit to what we can do for those who reach here from Northumbria now, without advertising ourselves as a safe haven.” Ravenclaw observed. “Do we know what is happening in the south?”
Hufflepuff spoke up “There is no deliberate searching in Wessex's lands at present, though if found, our people are poorly treated before being put to death. I still think we need to do more, we only usually know where our folk are when we find their children to bring here. We have no idea how many other families there are. At least this Styr has no more idea where our people are generally, and he doesn't know about the school.”
“Yes he does.” Salazar confessed, regret dripping in his voice. “I brought him, he was here.”
“What? When?” The others heads snapped round to look at him. Salazar sighed; he knew it was time to come clean.
“He was my first apprentice, and his son is eleven. I brought Styr to the school the day we removed the long houses, to show him where his son would be trained as my apprentice. I brought him here, showed him round, thought I had convinced him to send his son, but I have heard no more since that day.”
“Probably just as well, given that Utred is sworn to avenge his family's murder and has a number of sworn men amongst the students and at least two on staff. Once knowledge of the boy's family were known, life would have been difficult if not forfeit if he had come.” Godric observed.
“Not that the Usurper wouldn't deserve it.” Orin spat savagely.
Salazar said nothing to defend his former pupil, revenge was well within Utred's rights and under law all members of the offenders family were justified targets, in fact because of the manner of Styr's attack, at night, with soldiers, the death of his entire family and forfeiture of his lands were not considered sufficient retribution. Even so Salazar was bound by the oath he had taken when Styr became his pupil, to defend the man, his family and his honour should a challenge be made. “I am sworn to Styr through his apprentice contract, however if it is shown he has unjustly killed any pure bloods, then the wording would allow me to remain neutral during the fight, unless I or other apprentices were directly threatened by him or his actions. Even so I have to take a measure of revenge afterwards, should my former pupil be defeated.”
The others sighed. That traditional custom in the contracts had been dropped when the four had joined together to form the school, much to traditionalist Salazar’s dismay. He had been the only one of them to have taken such an oath; the others had not taken apprentices before then. He had been newly qualified when he had accepted Styr under the old oath and had naïvely accepted it. They all knew it had been a way of ensuring the loyalty of a child's tutor to the family. In return the tutor had been taken into the protection of the family; neither could successfully attack the other. Truth be told though, Salazar would have no second thoughts about fulfilling the revenge if he needed to, and all in the room knew it, even if they all knew Utred would win any physical fight against him.
“Still Salazar, your student appears to be acting against his own heritage; you have seen the reports from Northumbria. We have lost a lot of good people to his ambition. Utred almost lost everything, it was only through lucky happen-stance he was not murdered with his friends and family; it is within his right to avenge them. This Styr has allied himself with those who would see us all dead. If the Durslieg's have been taken to him, we must assume they will betray us, they have no love of our kind.” Godric sadly told his friend, his expression unreadable by most in the room, but Salazar noticed the deep hurt the proud warrior felt at the Cordwainer's departure and pain at the family's capture.
Certainly the family had been a problem in the village, but despite their arrogance they had served his family well and loyally. Godric could not help but feel he had somehow let them down, failed them, this went against the man's sense of honour and duty, even though he knew he could not have prevented it. Now, if they had gone to this Styr, then the village and school may be at risk, this man was the enemy of his own kind, and would not hesitate to attack if he felt victory would further his goals.
“Godric it was not your fault.” Salazar said kindly, “That family made their choice. We have our people in Northumbria, and Tigelwotta is back in Dunholm, and we have our people in Jorvik, even in the palace of that idiot Archbishop. We shall soon learn what has happened with the Durslieg's”
Hufflepuff learned over and put hand over Gryffindor's reassuringly. “The king of Alba will help if we need it, but no matter what Godric, you mustn't blame yourself over them.”
Godric paused for a moment then looked up. “No, you are right. No good comes from dwelling on what we cannot change or do. First, we need to improve security for our people, perhaps even organise ourselves as a wizard nation eventually, or at least lay the foundations for that to happen if needed. By Merlin, that sounds like Alfred's dream, but you know what I mean. We need to prepare a contingency in case the village and castle are ever threatened, work on improving the wards. Orin will you organise villagers for defensive training.”
“As you wish, Lord Godric.” The old man nodded pleased to see his friend back to his usual self “I had better start in the morning; Ulf and Erik are putting me up in the lodge tonight.”
“Very well, in which case my friend, you had better join them before it gets too late and they come looking for you.” Godric nodded.
Orin smiled his agreement and left, and Godric turned to the others. “Now Salazar, please tell us about your ex-student. We need to know as much about him as your oath will allow my friend.”
The four founders talked long into the night, considering what they learned of the king of Jorvik from his mentor. Most of what he knew of the man’s Magical strengths was over ten years old, but it helped. They knew they needed more information, but Tigelwotta's family in Hvitsby would probably be a good source of recent activity, her mother being Godric's daughter, they knew she was reliable. She was well hidden there, right next to the Abbey and she had not wanted to leave when offered the chance, but knew the opportunity was still there. She had contact with traders in Jorvik and was careful not to reveal her nature outside those few magical folk she knew. To others, she was simply another number of the community. She could be an excellent source of information on events in Northumbria, complimenting what their other contacts could tell them. They wondered about getting someone into the Kings Palace, as they had in Wessex, but that would have to wait until they knew more. Their most important contact would be the one that was close to the Archbishop of Jorvik, he could give them an insight into the way the church was lending its support, and the political motives behind it.
With the growth of Christianity, and the hostility that came with it, the magical community became more and more dispersed. News travelled increasingly slowly, and it was difficult to get word out unnoticed by others. They were now a divided community, in fact, the word community hardly applied anymore outside Hogwarts, Hogsmead and Godric's Hollow. Once, it had been that they would have known many magical folk all over the country, lived peacefully alongside the Muggles, quietly helping them. Now they were becoming more and more isolated as years turned into decades. The community was weakened, but hopefully not fatally so.
Godric found the persecution of his kind at odds with the stories of the Christians messiah that their priests spouted. According to them, this son of their God had performed healing magics, even raised the dead, and apparently raised himself from death. The only difference Godric could discern was that the actions of this man were called Miracles rather than spells. Even some of the church’s saints were well known wizards and witches from before the monks and priests had claimed such skills were sinful, unless performed through their God and proven so with only them able to judge the validity of the claim. Such an apparent double standard puzzled all four founders, though churchmen now held the ears of powerful men, who now wished to please God and his priests, who could see the power it would bring them. The belief itself was not inherently evil, but many of the men promoting it may well be, if their actions were any indication.
A plan of action was agreed, and even Hogwarts castle had let her feelings be known. It meant changes at the school, and for some of the people in it. Despite Slytherin's objections, the school itself had insisted it meant the end of life as students for the Creaftas.
Hot Bedding. The House elves joy at receiving beds because they had shared them previously in the fashion of one person on duty working whilst another slept, then swapping over when the shift changed was known as Hot Bedding. It was used on submarines and naval vessels I understand; I however do know of an example where thousands of men used the practice. At one time the village of Grosmont (Pronounced Growmont) near Whitby was dominated by a massive works that employed thousands of men. The village did not have enough beds to house them all, and the company was certainly not going to the expense of building new houses, so hot bedding was the solution. Today the works are gone and the village is quiet again, except for the tourists who flock there for the steam trains of course.
Frankia = France.
Revenge was a valid manner of gaining justice of the time, though usually it would need to be sanctioned by a Lord. This was to ensure the level of vengeance fitted the crime and status of the victim initially wronged. For example a Lord's life was seen as more valuable than a slave's, although a ship’s slave was seen as less valuable than one that directly served a Lord. Even the Church sanctioned the system, and as it grew, sat in judgement over any claims of the right of vengeance.
Although the Norse had arithmetic they do not appear to have had a written number system of their own, instead they learnt the symbols in use wherever they went, in order to trade effectively there. So in Britain they learnt the Roman numerals that the local population were used to, yet it is known the Arabic symbols were adopted by them in appropriate countries as well. A barter system was used in trading and money was unnecessary, if you needed something it could be exchanged for goods if agreed. Even the coins were only valuable because of the weight of the gold or Silver they were made from. It is known that Norse trading influence stretched from the Middle East over to (briefly) Canada though Ireland, Iceland and Greenland were the western most points for most trading ships.
My thanks for your patience as I struggled with this chapter, finally it is done and here hopefully for your enjoyment.
Thanks also to those of you who reviewed the last chapter I really appreciate your feedback. I look forward to seeing any reviews you want to leave.
My thanks also to Jascott for Betaing this chapter.
I make no promises as to how long it will be until the next chapter, I want to get a few more chapters close to ready before I post again so it may be a while, but if this plan works then I should be able to minimise the wait after that. My thanks to you all for your forbearance as this adled old brain does it's work, I will not abandon this story no matter how long it takes to complete.
Best wishes to you all. Tgfoy.
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