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Lily's Defender by Snapegirl
Chapter 39 : The Founders Speak Their Minds
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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Chapter 39

The Founders Speak Their Minds

By Alethea27

A/N: Please note, this chapter isn't new--however two other chapters which weren't posted have been added-chapter 34 Realizations and Riddle Hunting and chapter 35 The Two-Fold Riddle, were left out by mistake.  That's due to my own oversight as I was very sick and in the hospital when I was posting and mucked it up. My sincerest apologies, if you want to read the newly posted chapters, please do so and I shall post a new chapter soon.  Snapegirl.  I can't recall which reviewer mentioned the idea of bringing the Founder's portraits to the Great Hall so the students could ask them questions, but whoever it was I'd like to thank and credit them for the idea. Thanks to Snapegirl for the questions to the Founders. Alethea27

"How are we going to get it down the hill and back inside the castle?" Pete asked. "It looks really old and heavy and we don't want to damage it."

"Good point, Pete," Tav said. "I guess we could use the Wingardium Leviosa spell."

"Why don't we let Lily do it?" Severus suggested. "She's the best of any of us at Charms."

Lily stood over the Grimoire, waved her wand gently over the book while saying the incantation, "Wingardium Leviosa." The heavy book rose up from the ground and floated in front of Lily.

"We should take it to the Room of Requirement and then we can summon the ghosts," Severus suggested. "We can hide it in there for safekeeping. We certainly don't want Dumbledore stumbling across it."

As they trudged back down the hill through the slippery mud Severus muttered to Lily, "This is one time I wish we had Potter's cloak so we could throw it over the Grimoire."

"We'd best keep it out of sight of Hagrid too. He might let it slip to Dumbledore what he saw," Reg said. "And he'll be calling us into his office trying to find out what the book is."

"Good point, Reg," Tav said.

"I'll go on ahead and see if Hagrid's around and keep him busy if he is," Remus volunteered.

As it turned out Hagrid was nowhere around. The children walked, surrounding Lily so the floating Grimoire could not easily be seen. They made it back inside the castle safely and cautiously made their way to the seventh floor. Luckily it being the weekend meant most of the students were either in their common rooms or the library. Once they were safely inside the Room of Requirement everybody collapsed in relief. The Grimoire was placed in a trunk until they could summon the ghosts.

"What will your mum do with the Grimoire when you give it to her?" Lily asked Irene.

"After she recovers from her faint, I imagine it'll go in one of my parents' vaults at Gringotts," Irene replied.

"Can you imagine what Charles Potter would do if he knew about this book or got his hands on it?" Alice asked.

"He never will. Mum and dad will see to that," Irene said firmly.

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Charles threw down the Prophet in disgust. "I swear I'll sue that bloody bitch! Ever since she published those lies about me; my popularity with the wizard-on-the-street has taken a noticeable decline."

"Not to mention all those horrible people that sent us Howlers," Mavis added, scraping butter across a piece of toast. "I just can't imagine what's gotten into people these days! They're so terribly rude and inconsiderate. Don't they know that a Howler does serious damage if you don't open it in time?"

James was shoveling his way through his breakfast and had been silent until now and said, "You should sue her, Dad. Maybe that will teach her her rightful place. She shouldn't be allowed to tell lies about people better than her!" He snickered suddenly. "Maybe you should hire old Marius Prince to sue her."

"I'm not that desperate yet, Jamie," Charles replied with a smile. "But I am considering challenging Bagnold to a public debate. I could beat her with my wand hand tied behind me."

"She's another one who needs to be put in her proper place," Mavis said. "She's just another one of the ivory-tower Ravenclaws like Miranda."

"Ravenclaw?" Charles said. "The way she runs from a fight I figured her for a Hufflepuff."

James sat chewing thoughtfully then swallowed and said, "When I get back to Hogwarts next year; there's something I want to investigate. It's about that Lupin kid. There's something weird about him."

"What do you mean, Jamie?" Charles asked knitting his brow.

"He's gone two or three days every month, but nobody seems to think it strange, not even the professors. He supposedly has some illness that causes him to get sick easily. I guess that why him and Pee Pee Pettigrew are such good friends."

"If you find out what he has, let us know immediately. It must be something contagious if they have to quarantine him for two or three days out of the month," Charles said. "And we don't want to take the chance of you being exposed to whatever it is."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Later in the day, Lily and Alice found Sir Nicholas and asked him to summon the Grey Lady, the Fat Friar, and the Bloody Baron and meet them in the Room of Requirement.

The children were all waiting as the ghosts, one by one, drifted through the walls and door of the room. When they were all gathered, Helena asked, "You have news for us?"

"Good news as a matter of fact," Irene replied. She went over to the trunk where they had safely stored the Grimoire that morning, unlocked it, and opened it. "Wingardium Leviosa," she said waving her wand over it. The Grimoire floated out of the trunk and Irene guided it over to a table and lowered it gently in front of Helena who gasped, covered her mouth with her hand and exclaimed, "I can't believe you found it!" She reached out a ghostly hand and it hovered over the Grimoire.

"Now that we've found it and it's going back where it should be with Irene's family; are you going to marry Helena and the Baron?" Emily demanded of the Fat Friar.

He seemed a bit taken aback by her question, but then smiled happily and replied, "I will gladly honor their wish to be joined."

"Good!" Emily said. "Tomorrow's Sunday and its' May which in ancient times was considered a time of renewal. I think tomorrow would be perfect and you can have the wedding in here."

"I remember marrying many a couple in my province this time of year," the Friar said reminiscently. "If Helena and Baron Roderick agree I will be most pleased to perform the ceremony tomorrow."

Both the Helena and the Baron nodded happily.

"Then it's settled," Emily said. "We'll all meet back here after breakfast tomorrow and you can perform the marriage ceremony then."

Everyone was quite taken aback by Emily. She had always been rather shy and quiet, but now she seemed to have found her courage.

The next morning Lily and Alice got up early and met Irene, Jane, and Emily who were already waiting for them in front of the Room of Requirement. They walked up and down the hallway three times all requesting the same thing. When the doors appeared, Lily pulled one open and they all gasped at what was inside. The room had created a beautiful garden with many different kinds of flowers. There was the scent of the flowers and the smell of the grass. In the middle stood a rose covered arch under which Helena and the Baron could be married. It was so realistic that Lily had to remind herself they were still inside.

"It's perfect, I think," Jane said as they left the room to go down to breakfast.

"I'm sure Helena and the Baron will be pleased," Alice added.

They separated to their house table and sat down. "Everything's ready for the wedding," Emily said to Sev, Dorian, Tav, and Reg as she sat down.

They all ate breakfast quickly and hurried back to their dorms to change and then met outside the Room of Requirement. All wore their best robes for the occasion. Lily wore the emerald green dress robe that Vesper had given her for Christmas.

Severus cast more than one glance at her. He hadn't noticed in her school robes how much Lily had changed, but it was obvious in her dress robe.

The ceremony was simple, short, and beautiful. The Fat Friar smile happily as he pronounced the Roderick and Helena man and wife. Suddenly, an amazing thing happened. The gaping hole in the in Roderick's chest disappeared and the silver blood that had stained his robes vanished!

"Baron, your chest …" Reg gasped pointing.

Roderick looked down in astonishment at Reg's remark. "Does this mean what I think? That I've been forgiven for the madness that caused me to slay the one I loved the most?

"I would say you can now move onwards if you wish to do so, my children," the Friar answered.

Helena shook her head. "We have decided to stay, Friar. Hogwarts has been our home always, but now it will be a much happier home."

"Good!" Sir Nicholas said, adjusting his ruff. "I do not wish to have to become acquainted with new ghosts." He looked longingly at the locked trunk where the Grimoire was safely stored, but knew he could not ask for a spell from it. There was great temptation cast upon it and he did not wish to expose innocent children to its temptations.

"Guard the Grimoire safely, young Goshawk," the Grey Lady warned as she drifted through the wall with the Baron following her.

"I will; I promise," Irene said solemnly.

The Fat Friar and Sir Nicholas followed, arguing as was their wont over whether or not Peeves should be allowed to attend the Ghost Councils.

"I think I'll leave the Grimoire in here where it will be safe until the morning we leave for home." Irene decided.

"Yes, we've come this far without Dumbledore finding out about it. No point in blowing it now," Dorian said.

Severus walked Lily back to the Fat Lady's portrait. "Umm …I just wanted to say how nice you look, Lily," Severus said. He was finding himself unusually tongue-tied.

"Thanks, Sev," Lily replied beaming. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.

In the next morning's Prophet reported that the candidates for Minister of Magic had agreed to a public debate scheduled for July 1 at the Ministry. Barnabas Cuffe, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet would moderate the debate.

"That ought to be full of piss and vinegar," Tav remarked putting down the newspaper and eating a strip of bacon. "I wish I could be here to see it, but we leave for Italy a couple of days after we get home."

"That reminds me," Severus said. "I'm inviting you, Dorian and you, Reg, along with Remus, Pete, and Caddaric to visit Mirrorvale for a week the third week in July. I don't want to overwhelm my grandparents by inviting everybody at once."

"I'll ask my parents and let you know, but I don't expect they'll object," Dorian grinned. "They'll probably be glad to have me out of their hair for a week."

Severus invited Emily and Jane to visit Mirrorvale the first week in August. After breakfast he stopped at the Hufflepuff table to extend the invitation to Caddaric and at the Ravenclaw table to invite Irene for the first week in August. Lily would also be visiting then.

He invited Frank and Alice to visit the second week in August. Lily would still be there because she was staying for two weeks.

The weeks passed quickly. The professors were busy revising their classes as were the children when they meant in the Room of Requirement. There was a lot of tension amongst the fifth and seventh years because of their OWLs and NEWTs in two weeks.

"Has anyone noticed the change in the ghosts lately?" Albus inquired as they were eating breakfast at the head table.

"I have noticed I haven't had to ask the Bloody Baron to leave the Astronomy Tower lately," Fleinhardt replied. "I don't miss his loud moaning and chain rattling outside on the parapet and I certainly don't miss having to go out in the middle of a blizzard and ask him to leave because he's disturbing my class."

"I've noticed nothing different with Sir Nicholas," Minerva said.

"Nor I with the Friar," Pomona added. "He's his usual cheerful, helpful self."

"It must be my imagination, but I've noticed they seem to be happier, but I don't know why they would be," Albus answered with a shrug.

"Maybe they finally found the Grimoire of Elements," Filius said, straight-faced.

"I thought Rowena took that secret to the grave with her," Minerva commented.

"She was very clever and she could have left behind clues. Perhaps the ghosts got together and figured out them out and found the Grimoire."

"I wish I got my hands on that. It contains powerful spells," Albus said wistfully. "I could use one to stop Tom before he gets any more powerful."

"I've heard only Merlin could use them and an ordinary wizard no matter how powerful he or she is cannot wield them," McGonagall said.

"I'm sure that story was only spread because Rowena didn't want Slytherin to get his hands on the Grimoire as he was mad for power, but she should have allowed Godric access to it. He epitomizes the light wizard and she could have trusted him with it," Dumbledore said as he cut into his chicken.

Slughorn chuckled, "Actually Rowena and Salazar were the best of friends, Albus. He was the one she turned to for comfort when Godric threw her over to chase after a flighty bit of skirt."

"That's true because that's what Helga said to me," Pomona said.

"You know, I was thinking," Professor Fleinhardt said. "There's so many stories floating around the Founders and many of them aren't true. What if we were to bring their portraits here some evening before the children go home for the holidays and allow them to ask whatever questions they want? I expect most of the questions will be directed at Salazar as most rumors floating around are about him."

"That's an excellent idea, Larry," Pomona said. "In all the time after their deaths I don't know why nobody's ever thought of doing it."

"I concur," Minerva said. "It's about time all this fighting between houses stopped. I'm all for good, clean competition, but having the children bullying and hexing each other does not qualify nor does 'pranking' that puts students in the hospital wing." She shot a glare at Albus.

"I too think it's a good idea," Filius added. "What say you, Albus?"

"Well, I don't think it's a particularly good idea, but I seem to be outvoted."

"Indeed you are, Albus," Minerva said. "And Mr. Potter and Black need to be here for this so I'll owl their parents and have them bring them here for this one night."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Jeremy Cadwaller pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. "I realize I'm starting your exams a week earlier than they do at Hogwarts, but to make it easier on you; I'm also spreading them out over a two-week period that gives us plenty of time to revise between exams."

Mavis came into the room at that moment. "I apologize for the interruption, Mr. Cadwaller, but Professor McGonagall just sent me a note for Jamie."

"What does the old biddy want, Mum? Does she say I can come back next year?"

Mavis shook her head. "It's strange, but she wants us to Floo you to Hogwarts on the night before the Leaving Feast at 7:00, but she doesn't give any details as to the reason."

"Maybe she going to announce to the school that she was wrong about me and apologize for the awful way she's treated me this year," James said.

"We can always hope, Jamie," his mother replied leaving the room.

"Now down to business, Mr. Potter," Cadwaller said. "Your first exam will be in History of Magic and will consist of 35 essay questions. You will need to answer the questions fully and you will have two hours to complete it. After you are finished we will begin revising for Potions and Herbology."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Sirius was revising with Aquinas for his exams next week. He was pretty certain he could pass almost everything with Exceeds even Potions. History of Magic was much more interesting when it was taught by Aquinas. He'd never realized because of the way Binns taught that there were other more interesting events that happened besides just the Goblin Wars.

Walburga came in with the mail in her hand. "Professor McGonagall sent me an owl requesting that you be at Hogwarts the night before the Leaving Feast. She doesn't say why, but requests we Floo you over at 7:00. I also received your permission slip to visit Hogsmeade next year. I will give that to your father."

"Alright, Mum," Sirius replied. He wondered what Professor McGonagall wanted, but she apparently hadn't given any details in the note she'd sent.

When Orion came home later in the afternoon he signed his name on the permission slip. "Your mother and I have seen a definite change for the better in your attitude and in your studies and you've earned the privilege of going to Hogsmeade."

"Thanks, Dad," Sirius replied. "Do you have any idea about why Professor McGonagall wants me to come to school in two weeks?"

"No, she didn't say, but it must be something important," Orion answered.

"I hope she not going to tell me they've decided to expel me."

"I don't think it's that, Sirius. I think she would fire-call your mother and I and have us come to Hogwarts were that the case."

"I'll apologize to the other kids that I hexed and bullied then," Sirius decided. He was really sorry for doing it and wanted to make amends. It had really shocked him and made him feel guilty when his father pointed out that he was behaving like Voldemort.

"As I said before, Sirius, it's always hard to admit you were wrong, but your mum and I are very proud of you for doing it."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Hell week was finally over. Lily sighed in relief as she left her last class with Severus, Alice, Frank, Remus, and Pete.

"Let's go outside and sit by the lake for awhile," Severus suggested. It was a warm day and they had over two hours before the dinner.

"That sounds grand," Pete replied. "I'll probably fall asleep, but what the heck?"

Remus knew Pete had been worried about his exams and hadn't gotten a lot of sleep this week. He had helped Pete study. He knew the material well enough, but he just didn't have a lot of confidence that he could transfer the knowledge in his head to parchment on his desk, but he'd done well enough in the Potions and Defense practicals from what Remus could tell.

They went outside, made their way down to the lake, and sat down in the thick grass around the lake. There was a warm breeze blowing off the lake. It appeared a lot of other students had had the same idea, but they were mostly fifth and seventh years who didn't have any classes or tests having finished with their OWLs and NEWTs last week.

"I wonder how MacDonald did," Lily smirked. "She looked as if she was about to start pulling out her hair in Potions."

"I sat on the other side of the room in every exam," Remus said. "I did wonder last summer how many exams she might have cheated on last year by copying off of me and nobody caught her."

"I think she's too afraid to cheat this year after Professor Magnusson caught her last year and made her wear that sign," Alice said.

"She's like the female version of Pothead anyway," Frank complained. "She'll probably replace Sirius as Potter's best buddy if he comes back."

"It wouldn't surprise me a bit," Jane said.

"Well, I've got to get to Quidditch practice," Frank said, getting up. "I hope McGonagall doesn't let Pothead back on the team because we're doing great without him."

Everybody was looking forward to the final Quidditch match this weekend between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff who had done very well with the three Diggorys on the team were tied for first place with Gryffindor and Slytherin each trailing a few points behind.

"Madam Hooch was really impressed this year that almost all the house teams are really close in points," Jane said.

"Well, Gryffindor was able to build up their points a lot faster once nobody was there to lose us 20 points every class," Remus said.

They could see the Gryffindor team practicing from a distance and stayed outside until 5:00 before going back inside for dinner.

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

James sat shifting impatiently in his seat as Cadwaller figured out his grades. He should get all Exceeds at least. He had been working hard and he had done really well on his exams he felt.

"Well, Mr. Potter, it seems you've done fairly well," Cadwaller finally said. "You have an Outstanding in Transfiguration, Exceeds in Defense and Charms, and Acceptable in Astronomy, Herbology, Potions, and History of Magic."

"Yes!" James exclaimed. "You're going to send my grades to Hogwarts, aren't you?"

"Yes, after I inform your parents; I'll send them to Hogwarts by Owl Special Mail."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Aquinas sat with Orion, Walburga, and Sirius. "I'm very pleased with the final scores Sirius has achieved. He has an Outstanding in Transfiguration and Defense. Exceeds in Potions, Herbology, Charms, and Acceptable in Astronomy and History of Magic."

"Excellent work, son!" Orion said clapping Sirius on his shoulder. "I'm going to be very pleased to report your progress to Mr. Crouch."

Walburga was so pleased she gave him a rare hug. "We're so very pleased with how you've changed, Sirius."

"Thanks, Mum, Dad," Sirius replied flushing slightly.

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

At breakfast on the morning of the day before they were to leave for the holidays, Professor McGonagall stood and tapped her knife on the side of her goblet and said, "May I have your attention, please."

Everybody quieted down and looked up at her. "After dinner tonight all students will remain in the Great Hall to attend a special event." She sat down again without any further details of what this 'special event' was.

"It can't be the House Cup," Frank said. "That's always awarded at the Leaving Feast."

"Maybe there's an important announcement of some kind," Lily guessed.

"You mean like maybe the headmaster's decided to retire," Alice said.

"We couldn't be that lucky," Remus muttered. He was still upset over the fact that Dumbledore had asked him and Frank to spy on their friends.

"What's this special event, I wonder?" Dorian said.

"Maybe, they'll announce they've decided to expel Pothead." Tav said.

"We couldn't be that lucky," Severus replied. "I guess we'll just have to wait and find out."

The quiet was suddenly broken by a hoard of owls screeching and carrying envelopes flying into the room. They landed in front of the seventh and fifth year students. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout and Slughorn got up to hand out the final scores to the rest of the students.

"Very good, Miss Evans," Minerva said to Lily as she handed her a parchment envelope.

Lily opened up the envelope and unfolded the parchment inside. She had gotten an Outstanding in Charms, Exceeds in Defense, Potions, Transfiguration, and Herbology, and Acceptable in Astronomy and History of Magic.

She heard a disgusted cry from down the table and saw MacDonald slam down her report. Lily guessed she wasn't happy with the scores she'd received.

Severus opened his envelope when Professor Slughorn handed it to him with a bit of trepidation. He hoped he'd been able to retain his Exceeds in Charms and Transfiguration. He smiled as he saw he'd received an Outstanding in Potions, Defense, and Herbology with Exceeds in Charms, Transfiguration, and Astronomy and an Acceptable in History of Magic. He knew his grandparents would be very pleased.

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

Charles, Mavis, and James came through the Floo in Albus' office fifteen minutes early. "Whatever is this about, Minerva?" Charles asked.

"James can tell you about it later, Mr. Potter," Minerva replied; her tone indicating they were dismissed.

They Flooed back to Potter Manor in a huff at Minerva's perceived rudeness.

Minerva escorted James down to the Great Hall. "Find a seat at your house table and don't move out of it," she ordered him. He sat down next to Mary.

Minerva went back upstairs to Albus' office. She thought it rather childish that he wanted no part of tonight's proceedings and had deliberately absented himself.

Orion, Walburga, and Sirius came through the Floo a few minutes before seven. "You can Floo call us, Professor, whenever Sirius is ready to leave," Orion said.

"I will be sure and do that, Auror Black," Minerva replied. She escorted him downstairs to the Great Hall and over to the Gryffindor table. Sirius looked uncertain where to sit, but then saw Remus motioning to him and pointing at the seat next to him. He went over and sat down next to him, feeling uncomfortable.

The head table and the platform it sat on were gone and replaced with four rather large chairs. The doors of the Great Hall opened and Professor McGonagall came in floating the portrait of Godric Gryffindor in front of her. She walked over and gently lowered it into the first chair. Filius floating the portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw came next followed by Pomona floating the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff. Horace came in last with the portrait of Salazar Slytherin.

"What the hell is going on?" James muttered to Mary who shrugged.

Once the portraits had all been lowered into chairs, Minerva turned to the students and said, "Professor Fleinhardt had the idea of bringing the Founder's portraits to the Great Hall so the students could ask them questions. We heads of house consulted with the Founders and they agreed it was an excellent idea and would answer any questions put forth to them."

"Who would like to pose the first question?" Filius asked.

James jumped to his feet. "I want to know why Slytherin hates Muggleborns."

"He's got nerve," Emily muttered to Jane. "He thinks Muggleborns are idiots and his father wants to throw us out of Hogwarts."

"I do not hate Muggleborns," Salazar answered.

"You did. We all know you didn't want them admitted to Hogwarts – only Purebloods," James said. "Don't bother lying."

"I do not lie," Salazar replied with a glare at James. "I did not want Muggleborns plucked off the street and put in Hogwarts. I thought they needed prior training on how to control their magic before they were admitted to Hogwarts much like Pureblood children got at home. Many of them had powerful magic and had no idea they were magical."

"I believe your question has been answered, Mr. Potter. Let's move on," Horace suggested. "Mr. Avery, I believe your hand was up."

Avery stood up. "What do you think of the man who calls himself Lord Voldemort?" He sat down again with a self-satisfied smirk.

"He is foul pig and unfortunately a descendant of mine through my eldest daughter. He is an embarrassment to me and a blight on Slytherin House."

Severus stood up. "Lord Slytherin, could you explain about the quarrel between yourself and Lord Gryffindor in more detail?"

Salazar was silent for a moment and then said, "I do not know if I can answer that. I do not wish to reopen old wounds."

"Tell the young man, Sal," Rowena's portrait urged, speaking for the first time. "I mislike hearing you labeled as a dark wizard and hearing your house labeled as evil. It is time the truth was known."

"As you wish, Lady Rowena," he answered, nodding in her direction. "The fight was about Lady Ravenclaw. Godric and she were betrothed and he had a mistress. I was angry that he would treat her with such disrespect and expect her to be something she could not be. It made me very angry; we argued and did not speak again for a very long time."

"Were you in love with Lady Ravenclaw, Lord Slytherin?" Emily asked.

Jane pulled on her robe and hissed, "You can't ask him that – it's too personal!"

Emily looked down at Jane. "The professors said we could ask them anything we liked."

"My dear child," Salazar said smiling. "Lady Rowena was my dearest friend. Lovers come and go, but dear friends remain forever."

Severus smiled at Lily across the room. She was his dearest friend.

"See," Emily replied, plopping back down next to Jane. "He didn't get mad."

A Ravenclaw sixth year raised his hand and stood up. "My question is directed at all you. We've heard tales of all kinds of magical objects being hidden inside the castle."

"Yes, that is true," Rowena said. "They were hidden because they were very powerful and few, if any, witches or wizards could handle their power without harming themselves or others."

"What about the Grimoire of Elements?" Wilkes asked. "Is that hidden here?"

"It was," Rowena said. "But it has been found and restored to its' rightful guardians and no, I will not say anymore," she added anticipating his next question.

A seventh year Gryffindor raised his hand. Minerva nodded at him and he stood up. "I'm a Muggleborn and I wondered what Lady Rowena and Lady Helga's feelings were towards us?"

"We both welcomed them. Magic is magic and status doesn't matter. We welcomed anyone who was magical into the school because we lived in dangerous times," Helga answered.

"I did agree with Sal though that the Muggleborns needed some training prior to being admitted. We were talking about designating a part of the school for that purpose. Everybody knew of course how dangerous it was for any magical being in the time in which we lived and this way we could admit them to the safety of Hogwarts, but we'd be able to give them basic training in controlling their magic," Rowena explained.

A Hufflepuff third year raised her hand and Pomona nodded at her. "How did the Sorting Hat come about? Was it always a magical object or was it a regular hat that had been enchanted?"

Godric's laughed merrily and it boomed throughout the hall. "The hat was an old one of mine which we all enchanted to do the sorting after we were no longer here."

Lily raised her hand. "How did you sort before the Sorting Hat?"

"Everybody had qualities of every house to some degree," Helga explained.

"I certainly do not have any Slytherin or Hufflepuff qualities!" James muttered.

"But we looked for the strongest qualities. For example I searched the students for those who were firstly hard workers. Loyalty was very important to me so I searched for that as a second quality. Godric looked for those who showed exceptional bravery and nobility."

Caddaric raised his hand and stood. "Did the Founders mean for all the houses to be equal or for one house to be more equal than the others?"

"No, we meant them to be all equal," Godric replied. "As Helga said, everybody has the qualities of all the houses to a greater or lesser degree."

"Well, some people," Caddaric continued and here he glared at James. "think Hufflepuff is the house of last resort. You go in here if you can't fit in anywhere else and we're all a bunch of dummies."

"What a ridiculous notion," Salazar said. "My house and Helga's house were closely aligned because many herbologists, healers, and potion masters came out of both houses."

Minerva looked around. "We've had many excellent questions tonight and it's almost curfew. We do have time for one more question, I believe. Yes, Mr. Pettigrew?"

Pete stood up. "Does being sorted into one House mean you epitomize all the qualities of that House or only a few of them because I'm not noble or brave and I've wondered many times why I was sorted into Gryffindor."

"Yeah, I've wondered that many times too," James whispered to Mary. They both started snickering.

"Sometime we do not see the good qualities in us that others see in us readily," Godric answered. "As the Sorting Hat put you in Gryffindor then you were meant to be there, young man."

"What, the Sorting Hat doesn't ever make a mistake?" Mary whispered and that set off another round of snickering.

"I like to thank the Founders for graciously agreeing to come here tonight and answer the many questions the students had," Minerva said. "I think a round of applause is in order."

All the students clapped and the Founders looked pleased. "Perhaps we can do this again," Salazar said.

"I think that is an excellent idea, Sal," Godric replied.

"At last something Godric and Sal agree on," Helga teased.

Before the students filed out, Sirius asked Remus if he could call his friends together. He watched as the Founders' portraits were levitated and floated back out of the room.

"Sure," Remus said without asking him why. He figured Sirius wanted to apologize. He motioned for the friends to come over to where he was standing. Severus, Dorian, Tav, Jane, Emily, and Reg came over from the Slytherin table, Irene and Caddaric came over from their respective tables.

Sirius cleared his throat. "I …I want to apologize to all of you for all the horrible things I did to you this year and last year. I'm not going to say it was all Potter's fault because I was as much of an enthusiastic participant as he was. I'm really sorry for bullying and hexing you. I hope you can forgive me and we can be friends instead of enemies."

"I think that's very possible, Sirius," Severus spoke up. "But we need to discuss it and we'll owl you about what we decide."

"Fair enough," Sirius replied nodding.

James was looking over at Sirius talking to that bunch of losers. He nudged Mary. "See if you can find out what they were talking about and owl me."

"Of course I will, Jamie," Mary said.

The students were starting to file out to go back to their common rooms. "Mr. Potter and Mr. Black please follow me," Minerva requested. "Mr. Potter, your parents have already arrived to Floo you home. Mr. Black, you may wait in my office until yours arrive."

Minerva took James to Dumbledore's office where Charles and Mavis were waiting. "So what was so important, Minerva that we had to disrupt our evening?" Charles demanded.

"I'm sure James will tell you all about it when you return home," Minerva replied smoothly.

"Did you get Jamie's scores from Mr. Cadwaller?" Mavis asked.

"Yes, I did and I placed them on the headmaster's desk as he is the one to make the final decision whether James can come back."

"He'd better think about his job when he makes that decision," Charles threatened. The Potters stepped into the Floo and disappeared.

Minerva rolled her eyes and turned to go when the Floo sounded and Orion and Walburga stepped out. "Sirius is waiting in my office."

She led them to her office where Sirius was waiting. He got up as his parents came in. "Mum, Dad, I apologized to everybody and asked if we could be friends instead of enemies. They said they'd think about it and let me know."

"Your mother and I are very proud of you, son," Orion said. "You've come a long way from the son we left with in January."

"I received Sirius' scores from Mr. Finchly and gave them to Albus. He will be making the final decision regarding Sirius returning next year, but I will certainly put in a good word for you, Mr. Black."

"Thank you, Professor," Walburga replied. "We'll await the headmaster's decision."

Page ~*~*~*~* Break

The Leaving Feast the next morning awarded Hufflepuff the House Cup much to the delight of Amos Diggory who was leaving Hogwarts and could go out with his head held high. Everybody applauded Hufflepuff's victory.

The carriages arrived at the station and Dorian and Tav went ahead to secure a compartment for their friends. Once everybody was on the train, they settled in for the journey home. They talked about what they were going to do over the holidays, about their final scores, and about what the Founders had said.

Irene had removed the Grimoire of Elements from the Room of Requirement that morning before the feast and it now resided securely in her trunk. She wasn't going to say anything to her parents about it until they were home and safe from prying ears such as Wilkes and MacDonald.

"Okay, what does everybody think about including Sirius in our group?" Severus asked.

"Well, if we decide to include him, there has to be some ground rules laid," Emily said.

"What kind of rules?" Dorian asked.

"Well, pranking rules," Pete suggested. "Like we have to approve the pranks before he can do them and he can't prank anybody more than once."

"Good idea, Pete," Severus said.

"He can't do anything that would put somebody in the hospital wing," Jane said.

"And he can't ask his cousin for any pranks, spells or hexes," Lily added.

"He has to study and can't be goofing around when we're trying to study," Remus suggested.

"Sounds good," Severus said scribbling their ideas down.

"And he can't under any circumstance start hanging around with James again or he's out," Irene said.

"And if he needs help with a subject, we'll help him, but he has to ask because we're not mind readers."

"Those Potters!" Tav said rolling his eyes. "If my Nonna saw them with their noses in the air she'd tell them to lower them before the weight of their snobbery broke their noses!"

Everybody had a good laugh over that as the Hogwarts Express chugged noisily towards London.

 


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