Chapter 38 : Checkered Past
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Lily had sent Guinevere to Severus with a question about Ancient Runes yesterday. She was pretty sure she was going to take Arithmancy next year, but wanted more information about Ancient Runes. She was pleased to see Guinevere waiting outside her window with a note attached to her leg when she came back to her bedroom after breakfast. She opened her window and her owl flew in, landing with a thump on Lily's desk. She offered her leg to Lily and she took the note off and gave Guinevere a treat. She flew over to her open cage, settles herself on her perch and tucked her head under her wing.
She opened her note and read what Sev had written that Ancient Runes is the study of the runic alphabets, runic inscriptions, rune stones, and their history. The three best-known runic alphabets are the Elder Futhark (around AD 150–800), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (AD 400–1100), and the Younger Futhark (AD 800–1100). She tapped her lip thoughtfully as she read his reply. It's actually did sound very interesting. Maybe, she could talk her parents into going to Diagon Alley so she could buy a basic book on Ancient Runes or maybe Sev had one she could borrow. She'd send Guinevere with a note to him when she woke up. Easter was tomorrow and she would be leaving for Hogwarts the next day. She sat down at her desk to finish up her homework. Thankfully, the professors were so taken up with preparations for OWLs and NEWTs that they hadn't really given them much to do.
Petunia was working again today at La Couture so it was just Lily and her parents at lunch. "I'll bet Tuney's really busy at the shop today," Lily commented as she ate her tuna and mayonnaise sandwich.
"Yes, Petunia's been complaining all week about the women who wait until the last minute to do their shopping and then become upset because the store's out of what they wanted," Cinthy replied. "I'm hoping Madam Bellefleur will take Petunia on as her assistant in two years. It would be a wonderful opportunity for her and the perfect career."
Lily agreed, but she felt a bit sad too. Tuney seem to be growing up so fast. She helped her mum clean up the kitchen after lunch. "Did Tuney say who she's going to ask to the beach this year?"
"She has two new friends, Pamela Lockworth and Sharon Tuttleby; we've met them both and they're really nice girls – from good families, but not snobby. I believe she's going to ask one of them," Cinthy replied.
"What happened to Agatha?"
"Petunia still keeps in touch with her, but they aren't as good of friends as they once were. I think your sister began to see how narrow-minded and intolerant Agatha and her family are."
Lily went back upstairs and completed her homework and packed some of her clothing her mum had washed in her trunk. When Guinevere woke up; Lily sent her off with a note to Sev asking if he had a book on Ancient Runes she could borrow.
Petunia came home at five o'clock carrying a bag with La Couture written on the outside of it in fancy lettering. She held it out to Lily. "I thought you might like this."
Lily opened the bag and gasped and carefully took the dress out of the bag and held it in front of her. It was decorated with alternating stripes of ivory and pale gold and had some kind of shiny embroidery within the gold stripes so it looked as if it sparkled. It had a scoop neckline with sleeves that came to slightly below her elbows and the dress length was just above her knees. Lily clutched it to her. "Oh, Tuney! It's so pretty!" She gave her sister a hug. "Thank you so much! I'm going to go and try it on." She disappeared up the stairs.
"That was a very nice thing you did, Petunia," Cinthy said giving her a hug.
Petunia gave and embarrassed shrug. "Well, I saw it and I thought it would look nice on Lily and since I get a discount; it didn't cost me all that much."
"It was still a very nice thing to do, Petunia," Paul said with a smile.
Lily came back downstairs wearing the dress, but still wearing trainers. "How do I look?"
"Very elegant and you'll look even better with the new Easter shoes I bought you," Cinthy said.
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Orion and Alastor had been doing some discreet inquiries about Charles Potter. They had talked mostly to people who had attended Hogwarts at the same time as him. Most of them remembered the same facts.
"It seems Mr. Potter was not as pure as the driven snow as he would have us believe," Orion said.
"If you'd be referring to his fascination with Gellert Grindelwald," Moody snorted. "You'd be correct. Not surprising as I found out his old man, Jamison Potter was a big supporter's of Grindelwald's."
"Yes, that's what I'm referring to. I unofficially spoke with several of Potter's year mates and even some of his housemates and they all remembered the same thing. He was totally fascinated with Grindelwald, declaring his philosophy to be correct one."
"And we're not talking about some rebellious fifteen year-old either. Potter was eighteen at the time.
"How do we get the information out to the public?" Orion asked.
"Leave that to me," Moody replied with a wink. "I seem to recall that Rita Skeeter owes me a favor."
Orion smirked. "And she does so love playing in the dirt."
"I'll give her the names of the people we've talked with and she can interview them," Moody added. "One thing Skeeter is really good at and that's digging for dirt."
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Benjamin Ashburton and Colin Bottsford, the two Gryffindor ex-governors, were having lunch with Charles at Potter Manor. Ashburton was Charles' campaign manager and Bottsford was his fund raiser.
Ashburton was puffing on an expensive cigar while he perused the Daily Prophet. "That was a great speech you gave yesterday," he complimented him. "You laid out your intentions clearly and most importantly; you sounded tough rather than sounding like a weak sister."
"I think the fact that Bagnold hasn't replied to your accusations about her shows everyone that they're true and she can't find any way to defend against them," Bottsford added.
Charles smiled. "So, you gentlemen are in agreement that I should continue with the same campaign theme?"
"Absolutely," Ashburton nodded vigorously, throwing the ash from his cigar around Mavis' immaculately cleaned room. "Most people are just sheep really. They have to be led. The more heads you pound your message into, the more votes you'll have."
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Lily and her family attended Easter Sunday services. Lily wore her new dress and wore a bit of makeup for the very first time, but Cinthy had only allowed face powder and pale pink lipstick. Petunia had shown her how to do it so she didn't end up looking like a clown. She secretly wished Sev could see her now and wondered what he'd think.
When they returned home they found the Daily Prophet owl waiting for them. Paul took some Knuts out of the cup in the cupboard and put them in the leather pouch the owl carried on its' leg. He opened it and looked at the front page. "Well, it looks like Minister Bagnold is going to respond to Mr. Potter tomorrow at noon in the atrium of the Ministry." It had been nearly a week since Potter's opening volley. "It's a smart move on her part to wait awhile before she responded so it doesn't look as if she's panicked," Paul said as they sat down to breakfast. They were having an Easter breakfast of Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, bacon, sausages and fried potatoes. Lily and Petunia had each received a large chocolate rabbit for their Easter present.
"Sev's grandparents are probably going to attend the rally once they see Sev off. I'll bet you could go with them since you'll be there too," Lily said.
"I am anxious to see how she'll respond to Potter's obvious bigotry," Cinthy said.
"I'll send Ringo off with a note to Marius and ask him if we can attend the rally tomorrow," Paul decided. Ringo was the owl her parents had purchased so they could keep in contact with Lily while she was at school. It was Lily who suggested they name him after her favorite Beatle.
Petunia didn't have school on Monday and had the day off from work so she decided she would attend the rally with her parents and Lord and Lady Prince.
Guinevere had arrived back from Mirrorvale with a note from Severus saying that he had a book on beginning Ancient Runes that he would be happy to lend her. He would give it to her on the train tomorrow.
Ringo also came back in the evening with a note from Marius saying he would be delighted if they would attend the rally tomorrow with him and Vesper.
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Orion opened the Prophet the next morning with a grin of satisfaction when he saw the headline that all but screamed, 'Potter's Youthful Fascination with Gellert Grindelwald!' The subtitle read, 'How much does it influence his current views?' The byline was by Rita Skeeter. She had not only interviewed the list of people who he and Alastor had found, but she had also found a couple of retired professors who had taught at Hogwarts during Potter's time and still remembered his open admiration with Grindelwald.
"That ought to put a big spoke in Potter's campaign wheel," Orion said.
"I certainly hope so," Walburga replied. "The horrible things he said he was going to do to us Slytherins when he gave that speech last week! It won't be tolerated by the public!"
"He's a berk, Dad just like his son," Sirius said. "They both think they have a lot of influence and power, but they really don't have any."
"Good point, Sirius," Orion complimented him.
Sirius sighed. "I sure hope Professor Dumbledore lets me come back next September. I really miss Hogwarts and next year is the year we get to go to Hogsmeade …umm …if you'll let me, I mean," he added hastily.
"If you keep up your grades and your good conduct; your mother and I will sign the consent form," Orion promised. "We should be getting the permission slip soon."
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Lily was the first of her friends to go through the barrier and onto Platform 9¾ the next morning. The train was there so Lily got her camera out of her jacket pocket and took a couple of snaps of it and of Platform 9¾ so she could show her parents and Tuney what it looked like. Maybe someday the Ministry would change the barrier so Muggle parents could go through and see their children leave on the Express. But not if Charles Potter were elected Minister of Magic, she reminded herself. She wouldn't even be allowed to stay at Hogwarts and neither would Sev, Dorian, Tav, Jane, or Emily.
"Hey, Lily!' Remus said, pushing his trolley up beside her. "You're deep in thought."
"Sorry, I was just thinking about what if Pothead's father did win the election. Neither me nor Emily would be allowed to go to Hogwarts because we're Muggleborn. Sev, Dorian, Tav and Jane would all be kicked out because they're Slytherins and Professor Slughorn would probably be fired. It really scares me what he said," Lily admitted.
Remus frowned at the mention of Charles Potter's campaign. He knew he would definitely not be allowed to go to Hogwarts with his condition. "Well, I don't think we have to worry about him being elected, Lily. I think his views are way too extreme for the general wizarding public to support."
"Sev wrote me there was a big crowd at his first campaign speech, but he said that Marius said most of them were probably just there to see what he had to say."
"He's probably right," Remus agreed. "On a lighter note, I got an owl from Sirius apologizing for the things he did to me this year. I was really surprised that he was admitted that he was wrong."
"He stopped Sev and I when we got off the train. You must have already gone, but he apologized in person to us. Sev told him he needed to apologize to everybody else too and he said he would when he came back to school in September."
"Maybe, we can invite him into our group next year," Remus suggested. He of all people knew how it felt to be friendless. "He's really not a bad person when he isn't around Pothead."
"Well, we can discuss it, I guess."
Frank and Caddaric arrived, talking as usual about Quidditch and discussing what teams had a shot at the World Cup this year. Peter arrived next with Alice, Jane, and Emily in tow while Dorian and Tav came through the barrier together one after the other. Reg and Severus came the last, both having arrived at King's Cross at the same time.
"Are your grandparents and parents going to see Minister Bagnold's speech?" Frank asked as they got on the train. Sev let Grey out of his carrier and he jumped up into the window and stretched out.
"Yes, my grandparent and Reg's parents are going to her rally. My grandparents are also taking Lily's parents and her sister," Severus answered.
"Mine are going too," Frank. "They went to Potter's speech and mum said she about ready to pull out her wand and transform him into the jackass he is."
"Too bad she didn't," Dorian muttered plopping down into the seat.
Severus opened his trunk and extracted a book from it entitled, 'Ancient Runes for the Beginner' and gave it to Lily. "My grandparents gave it to me for Christmas three years ago. It's a basic book about runes, their history, rune stones and runic inscriptions. Basically all the stuff we'll be studying in Ancient Runes, but not scholarly or anything," he explained to her.
"Thanks, Sev," Lily replied. "I'm looking forward to reading it."
"I wonder if it's going to be dry enough for us to go to the Founder's cemetery," Emily said.
"We can wear our wellies if it's not," Jane said. "But I am wondering how long it takes to walk there. "
"We can ask Hagrid," Remus suggested. "But we just have to remember when he tells us that his strides are much bigger than ours and the time it takes him to get there might be longer for us."
"I don't want to be coming back when it's getting dark," Caddaric said with a shiver.
"Me either," Pete said.
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Paul, Cinthy, and Petunia found themselves standing in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic along with Marius, Vesper, the Magnusson brothers, and Harvey and Augusta Longbottom. It was packed with wall to wall people. Three Aurors, among them Orion Black and Alastor Moody stood in front of the podium where the Minister would speak. They didn't look at all happy. Paul and Cinthy wore badges that read 'Guest.' Rita Skeeter and her photographer, Bozo stood off to the side.
In a few minutes Minister Bagnold appeared and walked to the podium. There was a lot of clapping and cheering. She smiled, raised her wand to her throat and said, "Sonorus." She smiled and said, "I'm glad to see you here and I thank you for coming. The first thing I'd like to do is address one of the main topics my opponent continually brought up; that of Slytherin House and its' supposed evilness. He's chosen to focus on only a small, unfortunate part of Slytherin House's entire history that happened 35 years ago when You-Know-Who and four of his most loyal followers were sorted into Slytherin. He's chosen to overlook all the great healers, potion masters and mistresses, and great ministry officials that Slytherin House has produced. He's further chosen to blame subsequent generations of Slytherins for You-Know-Who and brand them as evil Death-Eaters-Training. I will not get rid of Slytherin House nor expel its' students. I will not wall former Slytherins off in a certain area or charge them extra taxes. They aren't responsible for what You-Know-Who does anymore than I am! I will not interfere in Hogwarts in anyway unless something becomes dangerous for the students without being corrected and I do not and will not blame Slytherin House for all the problems we face today!"
"But what are you planning to do about You-Know-Who?" Someone in the crowd yelled out.
"Unfortunately, You-Know-Who has the same rights as any other witch or wizard in Wizarding Britain and cannot be arrested without evidence against him no matter what my opponent says on the matter. To do so would endanger the rights of all of us. As to what my plans are regarding him; it would be imprudent to reveal them." She smiled again. "I thank you all for coming and any reporters from the Prophet or from WWN may come to my office if they have any further questions."
Everyone clapped and cheered as Minister Bagnold left the podium surrounded by Aurors and with a few reporters trailing her.
"Well, I must say Minister Bagnold sounds a lot more reasonable than Potter," Petunia remarked when they were settled in the Leaky Cauldron with tea and crumpets.
"Yes, she does and it was a relief to hear it too," Paul agreed. "It does sound ridiculous to hold one house to blame for everything."
"Well, Potter might find his political wings clipped with this revelation of him being a follower of Gellert Grindelwald," Marius said.
"Who's Grindelwald?" Petunia asked.
"Previous to You-Know-Who he was the most powerful dark wizard the wizarding population had ever seen. He was much like your Adolf Hitler," Vesper explained. "Imprisoning people he thought inferior in a prison called Nurmengard. 'For the Greater Good' was carved over the entrance."
"That's what dad said when he read Potter's campaign speech; he said he sounded as if Potter had been raised at Adolf Hitler's knee."
"I heard from Nigel Tuttingham who's a fellow governor on the Hogwarts board that our former Gryffindor governors, Ashburton and Bottsford are running Potter's campaign."
"That doesn't surprise me," Vesper said. "But I don't think Potter can get the votes. I think Minister Bagnold stated things very clearly and made Potter sound like a fanatic without even trying."
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As usual when the Express pulled into the Hogsmeade station it was chilly and raining hard. Everybody got off the train quickly and made for the carriages. Lily shivered as she sat between Severus and Reg in the carriage. She hoped the elves had prepared some hot soup as part of the meal.
Dumbledore for once had thought ahead and cast an Impervious spell from the entrance to where the carriages pulled up so the student would not get any wetter on their way into the Entrance Hall.
Everybody settled themselves at their house tables and waited for the food to appear. Dumbledore rose, spread his hands and said, "Let dinner begin."
The food appeared on the tables. As Lily had hoped there was soup included with the meal. In addition to the usual fare, three tureens of soup, Green Pea and Bacon Chowder, Carrot Soup, and Harvest Vegetable Soup sat on the tables and all smelled delicious. There were slices of hot, crusty, buttered bread to go with it.
Lily filled her bowl full of the Green Pea and Bacon Chowder and took some of the bread. It was the perfect meal for a chilly, rainy evening and was hot and satisfying. She looked across the room at Sev and noticed he had chosen the soup too. She hoped the weather would clear up by the weekend so they could finally go to the Founder's cemetery.
There was a disturbance from the other end of the table where MacDonald was sitting. She was wearing a big magical button that said 'Potter for MOM' and then it turned and said 'Bagnold for Hag Catcher'. Apparently somebody had taken offense to her button from the sound of it. She stood up and proclaimed loudly, "I have a perfect right to wear this button and if you don't like it you can go over and sit with the creepy Slytherins because if you don't support Mr. Potter, you support them and their evil master!"
McGonagall sighed and looked down the table at Albus who was eating his dinner and appeared unaware of the fracas at the Gryffindor table. "Albus …" She called.
He looked up from his roast beef that he'd apparently been enjoying. "Yes, Minerva?"
"You need to ban talk of the election and the wearing of any buttons regarding it," she said nodding towards the Gryffindor table where MacDonald was still standing and delivering her impassioned views on why Charles Potter should be elected Minister of Magic.
"I don't see any harm in the students wanting to show their support for their choice of candidates," Albus answered.
"You mean you don't mind them showing support for Charles Potter?" Minerva asked tartly. "How can you support him? You do realize he intends to interfere in Hogwarts if he's elected?"
"Now Minerva, calm down," Albus urged. "You know these people never do even half what they say they're going to do before they're elected."
"Well, I'm going to forbid my house to discuss the election and wear any campaign buttons if only to keep them from hexing one another."
"Well, you're head of Gryffindor house so you must do whatever you feel is the correct thing."
As the professors were leaving the head table, Minerva said to Horace, "I don't trust the old coot."
Horace shook his head. "I can't believe he'd still support Potter after they cut him dead for spanking their son."
The next morning, the Daily Prophet's headline read, 'Bagnold Proposing More Reasonable Solutions'. MacDonald threw down the paper in disgust. "Her more reasonable solution is cowardice, avoidance, and defending rotten snakes!" She was minus her campaign button as Professor McGonagall had forbidden the wearing of them and any talk of politics in the common room or at the house table.
"Shut it, MacDonald!" Alice snapped. "You heard what McGonagall said last night."
"Yes, some of us would like to enjoy our breakfast in peace," Lily added.
MacDonald was about to say something else when she caught Minerva giving her the hairy eye and shut her mouth quickly, pretending to be interested only in her porridge.
The week passed quickly and Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. After breakfast the children met in the Entrance Hall to go down to Hagrid's. They all wore light jackets and their wellies since the path up to the cemetery was bound to be muddy. Hagrid was standing outside his house waiting for them. "Had a feelin' you'd be by today."
"Can you show us the path up to the Founder's cemetery, Hagrid?" Remus asked.
He nodded. "I see yore wearing your wellies and good thing too because a body would be coverin' in mud otherwise."
The children followed him until he stopped. "This here's the path. Just stay on it and it'll lead you straight to cemetery."
"Thanks, Hagrid." They called.
It was about a twenty minute walk up the muddy hill. Several times they had to stop to either pull somebody out of the mud or grab them to prevent them from sliding and falling into the mud. Finally they reached the gates of the small cemetery that contained four simple tombstones with the names Godric Gryffindor on the first stone, Helga Hufflepuff on the second stone, Rowena Ravenclaw on the third stone, and Salazar Slytherin on the last stone.
"I thought Slytherin and Gryffindor had a fight over Muggleborns being admitted to Hogwarts and Slytherin left," Frank whispered.
"He never left and their disagreement wasn't over whether Muggleborns should be admitted, but when. Salazar wanted them to be educated about their magic before they came to Hogwarts while Godric wanted to just pluck them off the street when they didn't even know they were magical and stick them in Hogwarts," Dorian explained.
"Who's going to do the honor?" Caddaric asked.
"I think we should let Irene do it as she's a Ravenclaw," Lily said.
"I agree," Severus said. The rest of the friends agreed that Irene should be the one to speak the charm that would reveal the Grimoire of Elements.
Irene took her place in front of Rowena's tombstone and said in a clear voice, "Wisdom."
They all waited for a few moments and when nothing happened; Lily whispered, "Try the other word."
"Knowledge," Irene said.
Almost instantaneously a book appeared on Rowena's tombstone. It was a large book, very thick and looked ancient. It was bound in brown leather with brass corners and a lock.
Everybody stared at it speechless as if unable to believe they had actually found the Grimoire of Elements.
"I'll be damned; it worked!" Dorian said breaking the silence.
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