Chapter 16 : The Tenser Potion
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The euphoria after Hermione's announcement lasted for the rest of the Holiday, but still there was work to be done. So Alexander spent the next evening in his office, after he had warmed Phyllis that he would be working late, that night. He was studying Julie's ear-ring very carefully, his nose in one book on the Ancient Symbols. He was looking for a match in the symbols engraved in the thin golden jewel and those listed in his book.
He was at the two hundred and seventieth page when he saw it. The exact same symbol. It was taking a full page.
The Eyntha: Symbol for the Atlantean Nobility. Mostly found on jewels and ornaments. The most precious jewels were the Bloodlinked. J. Edgar Waterfly made a study on them. It had been published in the Almanac of Magical History, third Volume.
Alexander stood up and exited his office at once. He ran in the corridors, heading for the Library. He opened the door quickly, using some spell, entered it and rushed to the Almanac section. He rapidly found the third volume of Magical History and opened it eagerly. Checking the index, eh quickly found the entry he was looking for.
He walked to the nearest table, and put the open book on it. Madam Pince made her entrance in the Library, drawn here by the noise of Alexander's near breaking of the door.
"Professor? What's going on?" she asked, upon seeing him.
"I'm checking something, Madam Pince, don't worry," replied Alexander. "I'll close behind me."
Madam Pince nodded, reassured. She walked away without a sound, and Alexander went back to his book.
The Bloodlinked are a kind of Jewel that are not made anymore. They were the result of the Atlantean craft. They were linked to the blood of the family that was owning them. Only the heir of the blood of the family could carry this kind of jewels.
"This is it," said Alexander.
"These cloaked wizards are indeed after Julie," said Alexander, later, in his office. "And she's the only target. She's very important for them."
"Why?" asked Ron, sitting in front of him.
He had woken Ron and Harry to tell them about what he had found.
"Because she's a descendant of a High Warlock of Atlantis," said Alexander.
"What?" said Harry, his eyes widened in disbelief.
"She told me that her ear-ring has always been in her family. It is bewitched. It can only be carried by someone with the blood of the family inside. More exactly, someone whose blood is close enough from the family's original legacy. It's an Atlantean spell. So Julie's blood is coming right down from the Atlanteans."
"Wow," said Harry. "Alright. So this is definitely no coincidence. What do they want with her, then?"
"I read about some sects of Wizards who want to carry on rituals of the Ancient City. Forbidden rituals, which involve the person or the blood of a true Warlock. Maybe they need somebody of the real Atlantean line because they only are distant relatives, or their own blood is diluted."
"I just love being born from a muggleborn more and more," said Harry, with a sad smile. "Maybe that's why Julie keeps dreaming about them. If they're so bent on capturing her, it could not be the first time she had to face them."
"She didn't tell us so," said Alexander. "I don't think she would lie to us."
"She didn't tell us that she was from Atlantis," said Ron.
"I'm not convinced she even knows it," said Alexander. "It is possible that they are unaware of this kind of things. If you remember Tanith, she didn't know who she was until she studied Morgenstein's case and found out he was her father. Only then did she find out that she was the Heir of the Mask of Chaos. Maybe Julie simply believes she's from an old family. I wrote to her mother. She's the witch of the family. She'll tell us what she knows about this."
"Maybe," said Harry.
"The life of her daughter is at stake, Harry. I don't think she will hide things from us. Not now."
"Do you think Dumbledore knows about that?" asked Harry.
"If he doesn't, he will soon," said Alexander. "Because I'm going to tell him right now. And to Julie as well."
"Atlantis?" said Julie, her eyes wider than ever. "How can this be?"
"This is rare, but not unheard of, to see the blood stay strong enough to go on for millennia. Many wizards are linked to Atlantis. Legends say that Merlin himself was the son of an Atlantean Prince," said Dumbledore.
"So you knew it?" asked Julie.
"No," said Dumbledore. "I didn't know that anything related to Atlantis could be involved. But that explains that these wizards have hunted down the Heir of the family for so long. You mother wrote to Professor Armstrong that they had tried to take her child already."
"What?" said Julie.
"And she also said that you didn't know about it," said Dumbledore. "There is a threat over you, Julie, but we need to know more"
"We can guess their motive, though," said Professor Potter. "These Atlantis-style wizards want to get her because of her ascendance. She's from the Ancient City, so they could want to use her for some ritual. Still, we don't know which. Since you told us you didn't know them, we must believe you. But the fact you dream of them can no longer be taken only for a premonition. You have a link to them, in one way or another. So the fact you dreamed of them and you as a child may be significant, after all."
"But I swear I never met those wizards!" protested Julie.
"I wrote to your mother," said Professor Lockenburn. "Maybe she will give us some answers."
Julie lowered her eyes.
"I hope so," she said.
She was feeling lost, suddenly. As if she was the only one not knowing anything on herself. Professors around her telling her things about her family she didn't suspect. How could this be? And how could her mother not know about this? Had she been lying to her? Was she aware of something going on?
Julie sighed. Too many things were happening at the same time. She was lost in her feelings, and now her own history was suddenly twisting and turning in every direction, leaving her unsure of anything.
Who was she? And why did her origin had made her the target of this attack?
The next attack missed its target as Kenneth jumped out of the way. He retaliated by a sharp jab of his wand and Harry's face was suddenly splashed with water. He had to stop fighting for a moment, as he was sputtering and trying to wipe it off his glasses. Kenneth used this distraction to place his thrust and Harry was hit by the spell. It only created a red flash and a note of music, but it meant one thing.
He had been stunned.
Unbelievable. Harry had an incredulous smile. This kid had just defeated him in a duel. That had to be a first. Granted, being a wandmaster gave him a certain edge in that, but there was a difference between outmatching a student in a duel and being able to defeat his teacher. Harry wasn't the kind of wizard who boasted, but the truth was he was a very serious opponent, when it came to duelling. He only knew of three people in his circle of friends that were able to best him for sure: Hermione, Dumbledore and Tonks. Given the progress his magic and his skill had shown, he wasn't sure that even Lupin or Moody could defeat him, now. So to see a fifteen year old manage to catch him off guard was quite impressive.
He smiled at his student.
"Very interesting approach," he said. "Where did this water come from?"
Kenneth looked a little embarrassed.
"From the little pool on the roof, just out the window," he said.
Harry followed his direction and saw through the open window that Kenneth had had the pool of water in sight for the whole bout. He smiled appreciatively.
"Very clever," he said. "One should always keep his surroundings in mind. "That was well done. I think we will call it a day, now."
Kenneth nodded and went to the bench where his cloak was stached. He caught a bottle of water and took a long sip. Harry could sense that he wanted to ask something, but was unsure of how to do it. Well, the least Harry could do, as a teacher, was to give him a little help, there.
"Something on your mind, Kenneth?" he asked.
The boy looked surprised, but then he sighed, as if making a decision.
"I wanted to ask..." he said. "Are there any clues to what is threatening Julie?"
Harry gave it a long thought.
"Not to diminish your worth, Kenneth," he began. "But I think you should let the staff and the authorities handle this."
"Oh, I know," said Kenneth. 'It's just... I know that it's worrying her, so..."
"I appreciate that, Kenneth," said Harry. "But, by my latest impression, you and Miss Carteret aren't on the best terms, these days."
"Yeah," said Kenneth. "I guess that's my doing, actually."
"Hardly," said Harry, smiling. "Given the reason of your dispute, I'd say you were right. But since then, has she tried to talk to you? To apologize, maybe?"
"She has, and I've been avoiding her," he said, clearly not very proud of it.
"You should stop, then," said Harry. "You are young, Kenneth. There is something fantastic with the friendships you built at fifteen. They have their ups and downs, but they can often survive anything. Just don't let your resentment fester into something worse, until it is too late to salvage your friendship with Julie. She needs her friends, right now."
"I know," said Kenneth.
"A perfect example of what I mean," said Harry. "the whole mess with Witch Weekly could have damaged my relationship with Ginny, had I not chose to be open and honest about the whole thing at the first chance I got. That way, we were able to deal with the situation together. And, beyond all considerations of friendship, I think Julie could very well use a wandmaster at her side for what may come to her."
Kenneth was puzzled. Harry chose to be honest about what he meant. That kid was way too much like his mother and Harry knew exactly where that led.
"I can't tell you much," said Harry. "But the threat is far from gone. Julie is a target. And she will need to be protected. You have the natural talent of a wandmaster. Many people often don't know what to do with their gifts. You have the chance to be a protector of your friend. Just keep your eyes open."
"I understand, Sir," said Kenneth, very seriously.
And Harry saw something in his eyes. An echo. Sarah, Lancelot, they both had shared this spark in the eye. This determination that had caused Harry to admire them so much. And when Kenneth had spoken, Harry had known at once that Julie had just gained a bodyguard.
Harry just hoped they could figure out who these wizards were and what they wanted before she would need him.
The next day was bright and peaceful. Ian and his friends had decided to make some research ("for a change" had said Alexander, ironically). They were looking for the way Ian could control his power surges. They were haunting the library all day long. While Ian and Joel were searching the library for elements on the Chaos forces, Kieran had told them she had to check on some things.
She seemed to have found what she was after, as she entered the Library, half-running, under the stern look of Madam Pince.
"I found it," she said, sitting excitedly next to Ian and Joel, and hushing up her voice.
"You found what?" asked Ian.
"What's wrong with you," explained Kieran.
Ian's eyes popped out of his head.
"Shush!" said Kieran, looking around in the Library. "I thought a lot about these accidents. There was something that had bothered me all along. There was no reason for you to lose control. You didn't use any power, when they got wild."
"I summoned a Shield in Transfiguration," said Ian.
"Yes, that's the only time when the accident came from your will," said Kieran. "All the other ones seemed to come out of nowhere. Especially the time you began to float in the courtyard of the School."
"I've done this before," objected Ian. "As you said it yourself, you were there."
"Yes, and I remember it clearly! And I remember why it had started. You were trying to cast a spell with some dead branch…"
Ian chuckled at the memory. He seen himself, five years old little boy trying to freeze a Butterfly, who was ignoring him superbly.
"Yeah, I was trying to freeze a Butterfly, and…"
The memory shot through his mind.
"And you succeeded," said Kieran, in his place. "And then, you began to float!"
"Yes, I remember, now," said Ian. "But…"
"When you floated in the courtyard, you were in Potions, doing nothing. When the pillar fell from the wall, you were doing nothing. The energy just began to boil inside of you," said Kieran.
"But when the walls shook, I was angry, and that's why it did that," said Ian.
"Yes, and this is the day when it all began," said Kieran. "But you weren't casting any magic, were you?"
"No, you're right," said Ian. "So what, it doesn't come from me?"
"But transfiguration…" began Joel, who had followed the conversation.
"In transfiguration, Ian was doing something," said Kieran. "In fact, you have two problems, Ian."
"That's reassuring, thanks," said Ian, with irony.
"But don't you see? You already solved one!" said Kieran. "Did you summon a Shield Charm with your gifts recently?"
"Well, yes, When I ran to …"
He paused, and then he smiled.
"When I ran to help Julie. I cast a Shield. And nothing wrong happened. I used very powerful Chaotic spells, and I didn't lose any control! It was the day I floated in the courtyard!" he said, excitedly.
Kieran was looking quite pleased with herself.
"Tadaa!" she said. "You have mastered this problem with your lessons with Professor Lockenburn and Flitwick. Now, the first accident that was not from your will happened the day you made the walls shake with your anger."
"Yes, Slytherins were gloating about Kenneth. I was in a bad mood, I just lost it a little," said Ian.
"We were walking out of …" said Joel.
"Potions," said Kieran, in his place.
Ian looked at her, puzzled.
"I checked on my notes. You know how I date everything. This was before the second week-end of November. It was Friday the sixth. And this day is the only day of the year, when we had to drink something. I think you've been poisoned."
"Poisoned?" repeated Alexander, astonished.
"Yes," said Kieran. "I also checked on the calendar for the dates of the accidents. They're happening on a frequency that increases regularly. First, it had been a month between the walls shaking and the time when Ian ran out of Potions to play the lamp in the Courtyard."
She apologized to Ian by a smile. He shrugged and chuckled. The idea he could not be responsible for the accident was too much relieving for him to take offence from his best friend. They had relocated to Alexander's office, so that Kieran could share her theory with them and the teacher.
"Then, it had been one week between the incident in the courtyard, and the one in the Hall," Kieran went on. "I checked the frequency in Uncommon Magic Affections and I found something that explains Ian's power surges."
"Go on," said Alexander.
"The Tenser Fever," said Kieran.
"The Tenser Fever?" said Alexander. "But the only way for him to catch it would have been to..."
"To drink the adequate Potion," finished Kieran. "And the first symptom appears the day when Ian has drank a Potion. I checked in Most Potente Potions. The first manifestation happens the day of the drinking."
"What's the Tenser Fever?" asked Ian.
"We'll find out about this," said Alexander. "Follow me," he said, standing up form behind his desk.
He walked out of his Office, closely followed by Ian and Kieran. They trotted behind him down to the dungeons. Alexander opened the door of Snape's classroom.
"What is it?" asked Snape, raising his gaze from a book, on his desk, while a young Gryffindor first year was writing lines.
"I need your expertise on something, Professor Snape," said Alexander.
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Well, that will be a first," he said, silkily. "What Help can I be?"
"Kieran?" said Alexander turning to her.
"Oh!" she said, giving a start. "Professor, do you keep the samples of the Potions we brew? I mean, do you keep them a long time?"
"I keep them all year, Miss McDougall," said Snape, coldly. "It is sometimes a relief to get rid of some of it, by the end of the year," he added, throwing a deep look at Ian, who began to feel a little uncomfortable.
He was brilliant in most of his subjects, except Potions. He was reaching a weak average, usually.
"We need to check on the samples of the Protective Potion we made this year," said Kieran.
Snape shot Alexander an interrogative look. The Entropist nodded. Snape stood up and turned to a huge shelf. He searched it for some time, and he then took a wooden case, labelled Third year, Friday the 6th November. He put it on the table.
"There it is," he said. "I still don't see the point here."
"Where is Ian's sample?" asked Alexander.
Snape looked for it and held out a little bottle, with a little label on it: "Malcolm".
"Is there something wrong with this Potion, Snape?" asked Alexander.
"Well," said Snape, examining the bottle carefully. "The colour isn't the good one, and I took Mr Malcolm points for this. Still it was efficient. I remember that you managed to get an Acceptable, on this one."
Ian smiled weakly.
"What is the problem, exactly?"
"We think it had been mixed with something," said Alexander.
Snape's eyes narrowed.
"I hope you don't suggest that I have anything to do…"
"No, Sir," said Ian, immediately, as the idea shot in his mind. "You couldn't have. We had to test it right after we brewed this Potion, because I has to be taken hot."
"Well, at least, you seem to remember the instructions, Mr Malcolm, even if you can't be more accurate with your doses. What do you think it has been mixed with?" he asked, turning to Alexander.
Alexander nodded to Kieran. She seemed to shrink a little before to answer.
"The Tenser Fever Potion," she said weakly.
Snape seemed to ponder the answer for some time. Then he threw Ian, some intense, very piercing look.
"Interesting theory, Miss McDougall. I just wonder how you learnt about this Potion," he said. "It is only described in Most Potente Potions."
"You allowed us to compulse it for our Essay on the Wolfsbane Potion," said Kieran, weakly.
"Yes, indeed," admitted Snape, remembering it suddenly. "I see you still read through all the books you can put your hand on, Miss McDougall. In this case, that would explain a lot of things."
He suddenly stood up, and walked to his Alembic. He poured Ian's Potion in it, and searched his drawer for a little black bottle.
"The Tenser Fever has one main ingredient that is easily recognizable. And it's only used in this Potion. So, if the Potion begins to boil, you will be proved right, Miss McDougall."
He poured three drops of black liquid into the alembic. Immediately, the Potion began to erupt violently.
"Hmmmm, seems like someone has something against you, Mr Malcolm," said Snape. "There is indeed some Tenser Fever Potion mixed to this. Unfortunately, once you know its existence, the Tenser Fever Potion isn't very difficult to brew. It needs few ingredients, and the preparation is easy."
"Er… Professor?" said Ian.
Snape turned to him.
"Could it be that I accidentally brewed it by preparing my Protective Potion?" asked Ian.
"No, Malcolm," said Snape, with a nasty smile. "Even you couldn't have made such a mistake. Besides, to be efficient, the Tenser Potion needs a full day of settling after the brewing. I'm not even sure you have all the ingredients needed for this."
" Are they difficult to find?" asked Alexander.
" They can be found in any shop of Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley," said Snape. "None is restricted. But they're not of a common use. So I don't ask for it to be in the student's list."
"So, a student could have done it without trouble?" asked Kieran.
"A first year could brew this Potion. It isn't forbidden, because it's only matter of a joke. Except in Mr Malcolm's case, of course."
"A Joke?" repeated Ian, anger rising inside of him.
"You don't know what is the Tenser Fever, do you?" said Snape.
"No, Sir," said Ian.
"Tenser was a wizard that was quite ambitious. He brewed a Potion to boost his own Power. The Tenser Potion. It boosts the capacity of one wizard for one or two spells, but in dramatic proportions. Later, some Mage named Bigby, a friendly rival of Tenser, played a joke on his friend and created the Tenser Fever Potion. It creates the same effect, but on an random, unwilling mode. The wizard who is given the Tenser Fever will experience some surge in his magic, and it would suddenly burst out a spell, on an increasing frequency. After some time, the accidents with his spells would happen on a daily basis. After that, the symptom disappear, but the victim is then seen as some kind of catastrophic wizard. As…"
"A freak," said Ian between his teeth.
"That's a harsh word, but it resumes the situation," said Snape. "Of course, in your case, the power surges are a little dangerous. That was quite a hard joke to play on you," he added with a twisted smile.
"Glad you find this funny, Snape," said Alexander coldly. "It is likely one of your student who did this."
"Because we share our Potion Lessons with the Slytherins," said Kieran.
"Yes, but the hand who put the Potion in your cauldron is not necessarily the one who brewed the Potion," said Snape. "I suggest you go in the Hospital Wing ask Madam Pomfrey for some antidote. She has some who can remedy the situation. And I suggest you act quickly, as the next crisis could be very close."
"Well, thank you, Professor," said Alexander, coolly. "We won't bother you anymore. Follow me, Ian."
They walked out the dungeon. Ian could feel the piercing look of Snape on his back. Anger rose again inside of him. He found that funny!
They walked up the stairs and emerged in daylight, in the courtyard. Alexander began to curse madly.
"That lousy greasy evil …! He found that amusing!" he said.
Then he turned to Ian.
"I'm sorry I didn't think of that before," he said. "I was focused on your gifts and their evolution."
"No matter," said Ian. "I have a good detective for a friend."
He suddenly hugged Kieran wildly, and kissed her loudly on the cheeks.
"Ian! What are you doing?!" she exclaimed, flushing a little.
"Thanks!" exclaimed Ian. "You can't imagine what it means to me! I thought I was losing my mind!"
Kieran beamed at him.
"I told you I would help you," she said. "Still, someone has it in for you."
"I'd deal with this later, If I were you, Ian," said Alexander. "The most important is to get rid of these symptoms. You should go right now to Madam Pomfrey. I'll go and tell Professor Flitwick that we found the solution. And I'm relieved, Ian. Really relieved that we found a way to help you."
Ian nodded. He was so happy right now, that he didn't even think of revenge. That would come later. Alexander walked away. Kieran took Ian's hand and dragged him all the way to the Hospital wing.
"You'll be in for a rough night, Mr. Malcolm," said Madam Pomfrey, pouring some Potion in a bottle. "You should take this as soon as possible. But it will give you a real fever that we can't avoid. So before that, you should get to bed. Here or in your dormitory, as long as someone is watching over you."
"I can do that," said Kieran.
So, later this afternoon, Ian went up in his dormitory and changed to his pyjamas. He got in his bed and took the potion Madam Pomfrey had given him. He settled comfortably in his pillows. Minutes after he had drank the Potion, he began to feel very hot. And his head began to pound heavily. He could feel the beats of his heart through all of his body.
Time seemed to fade around him. He was half-sleeping, but when he was awake, he couldn't open his eyes, as they were burning.
"What time is it?" he mumbled.
He felt a fresh little hand take his own, which felt like it was on fire.
"It's eight in the evening, Ian, try to go to sleep. I'm here."
Kieran's voice. It was like some lighthouse in the darkness. Something to hold on to. Each time he woke up, he could feel her hand holding his, and she whispered some reassuring words, and Ian would go back to sleep.
At some point of the night, he woke up and didn't feel the reassuring presence near him.
"She's asleep," whispered Joel, on his left. "I took the relay. She needed to rest a little. She barely ate anything. Don't worry. She's okay. I lent her my bed."
"Thanks, Joel," said Ian, without opening his eyes.
"Well, I would have hesitated if the others had been back from holiday," said Joel, chuckling.
Ian smiled weakly. He felt himself drown again in the fire of his sleep.
While Ian was getting to bed, Alexander entered back in his apartment.
"So, what news?" asked Phyllis from the couch.
"Good news," said Alexander. "We solved Ian's problem."
"Really? That's great! How?" asked Phyllis eagerly.
"You won't like the idea," said Alexander. "Ian's been the victim of a very bad joke."
"Somebody gave him a Potion that provoked all these surges of Power."
"I told you that you wouldn't like the idea," said Alexander, with a smile, before to explain everything to her.
Phyllis liked Ian very much and the idea that someone made him go through all of this was something really likely to enrage her. And no mistake, she spent the next minutes shouting against the one who had done this.
"You'd better find him and have him expelled before I do, Alex," said Phyllis. " Or else, you won't like what I will do to this scumbag!"
Alexander smiled. Maybe he didn't need to worry about Ian's safety. He may just have to sit back and watch his wife unleash her wrath on the ones who would mess with his pupil.
But then again, two things came to mind. One, that would be seen as a little bit excessive to resort to such a punishment. Phyllis was, after all, a scary woman. Two, that would deprive him of the pleasure of dealing with this himself.
When he woke again, hours later, Ian felt again the small hand of Kieran over his. His headache was gone, and he felt a thousand times better, now. He opened his eyes and saw Kieran, asleep in a chair, next his bed, her arm extended to reach his own hand. He smiled weakly and squeezed her hand.
She woke up slowly and stirred. She crossed his eyes and smiled gently.
"How are you?"
"Better than I have been in a month," said Ian. " How can you sleep in one of these things?" he asked sympathetically, when he saw her wince.
"Once you find your position, they get cosy," she said, with a twisted smile. " And I said I would watch over you."
"Well, you should go get some real sleep," said Ian. " I'm alright, now."
"Glad to hear that," said Kieran.
"Joel?" asked Ian, looking around him.
"Gone for breakfast," said Kieran. "We should do the same. It's nine o'clock, already."
"I told you to get some sleep," said Ian, getting up.
"But I got some sleep," said Kieran. "And now, I'm hungry. Come on, hurry up! I'll be waiting for you downstairs. Everybody comes back today."
Ian made a quick washing up, dressed in school robes, and joined Kieran at the bottom of the stairs. They walked out of the Nest to head for the Great Hall.
While crossing the Entrance Hall, Ian saw that the Christmas decorations were out, now. Maybe it was a sign. His life was going back to normal. He felt really relieved about that. He entered the Great Hall with a light heart, for the first time in many weeks.
"Kenneth?" asked the voice, drawing his attention from the book he was reading, in a far corner of the Library.
Julie. Kenneth knew that this conversation would come sooner or later. Since his talk with Professor Potter, he had been forced to examine his attitude regarding Julie, and he had to admit he wasn't really proud of his childish stubbornness. Everyone had told him that Julie was upset, sorry about the dispute between them. And Potter's advice now, not to let things fester, applied so perfectly to his situation, that he couldn't dismiss it, and he actually felt like an idiot not to have acted sooner on this.
He looked up to see her hesitating near the table.
"Is it okay, if I sit here?" she asked.
"It's a free library," he replied, trying not to sound harsh, and adding an inviting gesture for her to sit down in the chair facing him.
"Good," she said, breathing out, like she had been holding it for some reason. "I need to talk to you."
She opened her bag, and put three books on the table, settled her quill and inker in front of her and rolled out a parchment.
"And you need all of this to talk to me?" asked Kenneth, grinning. "Am I in trouble?"
"I'm making sure Madam Pince doesn't have an excuse to throw me out," said Julie. "Alright, I... I wanted to tell you I'm sorry..." she began.
But Kenneth held up his hand, gently.
"Save it, Julie," he said, without any coldness in his voice. "You've been trying to apologise for more than a month, and if I hadn't been a jerk about it, I’d have forgiven you a long time ago. So no need to further embarrass yourself with that."
"Oh," said Julie, caught off guard. "I... alright. Well, I'm still sorry. I was out of line, and I should have kept my mouth shut."
"It's alright," said Kenneth. "You've been dragged in this whole mess."
"Well, I wouldn't want to lose you as a friend," said Julie, and I have been, I quote you ' too busy drooling on my boyfriend' to be a real friend to you."
"That was an awfully harsh thing to say," said Kenneth, with a wince.
"I deserved some of it," said Julie. "I guess Robert tried to use your dispute partly to try and shine in front of me. I'll admit I was flattered."
"Apparently, he has that effect on people," said Kenneth, with a shrug.
"So am I really forgiven?" she asked, with a timid smile.
"Yeah," said Kenneth. "If I accepted Donahue's apology, I’d be a jerk not to accept yours, when you're my friend and he's not."
"Robert apologized?" asked Julie.
"You didn't know?" said Kenneth. "I thought that was your doing. Kalindra was sure you had put him up to it."
"No," said Julie. "Actually, I still avoid mentioning the whole thing with him."
"Why?" asked Kenneth.
"Well, partly because, to be honest, I'm still a little embarrassed by my attitude," she said. "And also because I'm still cross with him over the whole issue. When did he apologize?"
"The night of the Yule Ball," said Kenneth. "I crossed path with him after the end of the Ball. He seized the occasion to apologize."
"You crossed path with him near the Gryffindor Tower?" asked Julie, suddenly blushing.
"Well, close enough," said Kenneth, grinning. "I can be very discreet."
This time, Julie was red as a tomato. Kenneth had an inner sigh. He had decided to be friend with her. And that meant accepting that she was dating Donahue. So he smiled to reassure her.
"Were you spying on us?" asked Julie.
"Not really," said Kenneth, honestly. "I walked into the scene, and I figured I'd give you some space."
Julie smiled ironically.
" How can I repay you for your kindness?" she said.
"No need to be embarrassed, Julie," said Kenneth. "It's not like kissing your date when you're fifteen is something shocking in our world."
"I know, but... I don't know," said Julie. "It feels like a delicate subject, somehow."
"If this is about the House issue, you wouldn't be the first Gryffindor girl to date a Slytherin bloke," he said with another shrug.
"I can name a few people in my House and even in my year that openly loathe him," said Julie.
"If you refer to Will, Rob and Mandy, they do it out of loyalty to me," said Kenneth. "It's not really against you. I'll talk to them, see if I can get them to take it down a notch."
"You would do that?" asked Julie. "I though you despised Robert."
"Well, it's true I won't share Christmas presents with the guy," said Kenneth, "but first, I wouldn't do it for him, but for you. And second, since I kicked his butt publicly, I think I can afford to appear magnanimous."
Julie couldn't help it, she laughed and Kenneth felt better at this return of their former complicity.
"Tell me, honestly," he said, after a while. "Do you love the guy?"
Julie suddenly hesitated. At the very least, she owed him an honest answer, which meant that she needed to think about it. Because, if she was to be honest, she wasn't sure of the nature of her feelings toward Robert. Did she love him? And was the answer so complicated?
In fact, it was.
"I cant honestly say that I know," she finally said. "We're fifteen, well... sixteen in his case, so I don't think either of us has the slightest idea of what love really is. But I like him. Sincerely. He's attractive, he's charming. Despite what my dorm-mates think, he's a gentleman. So... I like him and I like spending time with him."
"Fair enough," said Kenneth. "At least, I can make an effort, on behalf of my friend, since you truly like the guy."
"That's nice of you Kenneth," she said earnestly.
"Well, for what it's worth," said Kenneth. "I still think the guy is a jerk, but hey... that's me."
Julie looked at him, completely aghast. Then she burst into laughing. Madam Pince shot her a dark look, and she fought to take her calm back. Kenneth grinned again.
"Well, that was honest enough, at least," she said.
"Friends need to be honest, if they can't be objective," he said with a grin.
"Thanks for the implication," said Julie "Does you judgement of Robert only stands on the bad blood between you two, or do you have other elements to present?"
"I'd say it's mainly because of the history between us," said Kenneth. "So I think it's a shame you would date that guy."
"Really? You have another candidate in mind?" she asked with a slight grin.
Kenneth suddenly seemed to lose his assurance and began to blush a little. Julie's heart made a back flip. Was he trying to tell her that… Kenneth finally seemed to get a grip on himself. He cleared his throat lightly.
"Well, not really," he said, with a hoarse voice. "But you still could do better, that's all."
A sudden rush of emotion rose in Julie, in response to his voice. She felt flushd as a thousands different thoughts collided inside her head. She needed to compose herself.
"Well, thanks for the talk," she said with a smile. "I... I need to go."
She had managed the whole sentence without showing her sudden confusion. She gathered her things and put them back in her bag, before to get up.
"See you at dinner?" asked Kenneth, apparently unaware of her mood shift.
"Sure," she said, a little too hastily for her taste, but she covered it with a weak smile.
She strode out of the library. Once out, she began to run. She sped up to the Gryffindor Tower. She didn't know how her legs had managed to carry her at that point. She shot through the portrait hole, and tried to walk through the Common room casually, climbing up the stairs, after ignoring a call from Alwena. She got to her dormitory and was relieved to see that it was empty. She dropped her bag in the middle of the room, and, leant her back against the door, breathing heavily. If her feelings have been confused after the kiss with Robert, now she was absolutely lost. It hadn't been Kenneth's smile, or his way to talk to her. But he had said something that had been turning her whole world upside down.
You still could do better, that's all.
And at these very words, the thought had crossed her mind that he would be better for her. Him! Kenneth Lionheart. If she was fair and honest, she had always known that she liked him. She had known it since the moment she had met him on the train. His kindness and his shyness had made him cute. Now, she knew that he was maybe the deepest character of all the students. He had a noble spirit, bravery and kindness.
And now, Julie realised that all of her uncertainties with her relationship with Robert were linked to Kenneth.
She was attracted to the Slytherin Prefect, but she knew she could love the Wandmaster. Her head suddenly seemed to spin.
Oh, my, she thought. Now, I'm in trouble.
In the evening, the rest of the students had all returned from their holiday, they were well settled back in the four common rooms, and the feast marking the start of the new term was about to begin. Terry had been happy to see all his friends again. He had tried to resume his flirting with Kieran, but he had stopped as soon as he had seen the serious faces when he had joined them.
"Alright, hit me," he said. "What's up?"
Joel and Kieran explained him everything regarding the Tenser Potion. Ian was relieved not to have to explain it again. Thanks to the first year stuck in detention with Snape, the rumour on Ian being a victim of a Potion had spread as quick as it could in the whole school. Now that everyone was back, it would spread ever faster.
Terry, once aware of the details, swore to Ian that he would help him to find the culprit, and to make him pay for this. He had to join his table, so he left with a short kiss on Kieran's cheek, which irritated Ian slightly, for some reason.
He was still wondering why he was so mad about this, when Dumbledore stood up for his speech.
"Welcome back, all of you. First I want to wish you an happy New Year and a fruitful term. I won't lecture you on the importance of the period, just remember that you have exams in five months."
There was a collective groan, that made him smile, before he went on.
"But, as often, some less pleasing news come with the well wishes. The professors of this school have discovered something during this holiday, that is clearly intolerable. You all have heard of Mr Malcolm's troubles with his powers. We have found out that they were due to a joke in a very bad taste. Somebody has mixed one of the potion he had to test on himself with another, aimed at making him lose the control over his magic. This is usually harmless, but in the case of Mr Malcolm, this had revealed itself to be very dangerous. for him as well as for the others."
Silence was almost palpable in the Hall. Ian saw many looks turn to him. He closed his face, looking at everyone with a warning look.
"It is already a shame to play such a joke to a fellow student, in an age when your magic can bring many to grow doubts on yourself. But it is even worse when the joke can be a threat to the student's health," Dumbledore went on. "This was, by no mean an accident, as we have the proof that there has been a premeditation and maybe some complotting to set up this thing. Rest assured that the culprits will be found, and punished properly."
Alexander stood up.
"I want to add that the one who caused my pupil to go through such hard times will have to face my personal wrath. And if I catch anyone trying to set up this kind of joke against anyone in the school, I'll make sure the culprit will be expelled."
It was a usual threat, so many students only shrugged.
"And trust me," added Alexander, with a dark look. "They will be grateful to be only expelled."
This was far more serious. Ian saw many impressed looks on many faces. Except on the Slytherins faces, of course. Macke was muttering with his friends. He didn't look concerned at all, just as if What Dumbledore had said would make him no harm or worry.
Ian also saw that Professor Potter was speaking with Alexander, now that his mentor had seated back. They were eyeing the Slytherin table.
"Do you have a suspect, for this?" asked Harry.
"Not yet, but I will find one soon enough," said Alexander.
"If I can provide some help, I would tell you to look in this direction," he said, nodding to the Slytherin table.
"The Slytherin are too easily suspected of anything," said Professor McGonagall. "Even I tend to be too suspicious toward them."
"I don't speak of the whole table," said Harry. "But of one student."
"Who would that be?" asked McGonagall.
"Macke," said Ian.
"What do you say?" asked Kieran, raising her eyes from her plate.
"It's Macke, I'm sure of it," he said. "he made that Potion."
Kieran followed his look to the Slytherin table. Macke was speaking, looking quite relaxed. Then he crossed his eyes, and suddenly he smiled nastily, before to wink.
"The bloody son of…"
"Language, Ian," said Kieran. "Calm down, please. It will be useless. You have no proof at all."
"I'll find proof," said Ian. "Trust me, I will."
Alexander had parted from Phyllis for a minute, since he needed to get something from his office, before to finally head home for the night. Having found the parchment he was looking, he was about to head back out when an Owl tapped at the window. Alexander opened it and the Owl swooped inside. It was a letter from France. The answer of Julie's family. Alexander tore it open and began to read eagerly.
I received your letter. I must tell you that you were right. My daughter has already been victim of such attacks. When she was six years old, she almost got kidnapped by these cloaked wizards. She was saved before she could be taken, but in the weeks that followed, she kept having nightmares about it. We finally decided to use some memory charm on her so she could forget this attempt. The nightmares have gone on, but less intense, and she was getting better. We did our best to protect her against this.
But you're right. Our family has been the target of these attacks for centuries. You say our bloodline goes back up to Atlantis. I don't know if this is true but all I know is that we had to live with this shadow over ourselves. The wizards try to capture our sons and daughters on an irregular basis. During centuries, they have hunted us. But they always attack the last heir of our blood.
We're safe, we don't need any protection, since Julie is in England. That's also why I accepted to let go to Hogwarts. I thought she would be safe under Albus Dumbledore's watch. It seems like I was right, since she has escaped another attempt. But the threat won't end like this.
Please, protect my daughter from them. I still don't know what they want. But I beg you to protect her.
In the hope of your answer,
That's it for today... On to work on the next chapters. I won't make any promise on a posting date, this time, since I'm actually trying to wrap up the whole rewrite before i post anything else. But given the point of the tsory I'm up to, it shouldn't be too long, now. I'll soon be able to post the rest of the fic on a more regular pace. most of the changes I planned on this fic took place in the earlier chapters. Now it's more cleaning up the rest to make it fit, rather than makeing huge changes.
Oh, and if anyone's ear has perked up at the mention of the names Tenser and Bigby, I will only say 'I salute you, fellow geek, glad to see the basics of magic aren't forgotten'. Tenser and Bigby are characters created by Gary Gygax, Rob Kuntz and Gygax' son for the game Dungeon & Dragons, more precisely in the Greyhawk world. They both have wikipedia entries, incredibly.
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