Chapter 47 : Charles Potter's Comeuppance
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The Comeuppance of Charles Potter
Charles stormed from Hogwarts, using Dumbledore's Floo to return to Potter Manor in high dudgeon. "Can you believe the . . . nerve of that . . . Professor Gold?" he sputtered angrily to Mavis upon his return. "He damages my reputation and when I call him out for it . . . he refuses to fight a duel with me! Spouts some nonsense that he doesn't have to! Like I was some . . . little boy playing or something! Really, Mavis, this miserable excuse for a wizard has gone too far!"
"Perhaps he was . . . afraid to fight you, Charles," Mavis said, coming over and caressing his cheek lovingly. "I mean, you are an accredited duelist. He must know of your reputation and be scared to pieces."
Charles looked mollified by Mavis' support. "Of course, love. You're absolutely right. Gold's nothing more than a sniveling coward! Afraid to face a real wizard in a duel. I was going to sue him, but maybe this will serve him better, the yellow dog! I'm going to write to Jamie and tell him about how that coward refused my challenge . . . and then we'll see what his reputation's like!"
"And don't forget, Charles, the election for Minister is in a few days," Mavis reminded him. "And once you're Minister, you can sack him and anyone else who disagrees with you."
"Yes, it's time for some changes around here," Charles said, and he rubbed his hands together and grabbed a quill and a pen off of his secretary and began to write.
The next morning at breakfast, Lily noticed that James and his cronies all had their heads together and were shooting unfriendly glances up at the head table, where the professors were. She was sitting next to Alice and Jane, with Severus across from her, along with Tav, Remus, and Dorian. Peter, Sirius, Emily, Frank, Irene, and Caddaric were also at their table, which was a mixture of all the houses.
"I wonder what Pothead is up to?" she hissed to Alice.
"No good," her friend snorted.
"I know, but look how he keeps looking over at the staff table at Professor Gold," Lily muttered.
"Maybe he's mad at Gold because he got a bad mark on yesterday's quiz," Alice mused.
"I don't know. I don't like the way he's acting. Then again, when do I ever?" Lily sighed, and tossed her flyaway auburn hair. She looked up at the staff table, where Professor Gold was quietly eating his oatmeal and saying something to Pomona which made the mediwitch chuckle softly and smile at him. She really detested the way Potter went out of his way to try and smear the best Defense professor they'd ever had since the Magnusson brothers. Defense was always a tricky subject to both learn and teach and finding a professor who actually was good at it, like Gold was, was like winning the Triwizard Tournament. Lily had learned more about disguise charms and illusion charms since Gold had begun teaching them than she had in two years previously . . . and she had learned them thoroughly too—not just incantation and wand movements, but history and theory and how to practice them in a variety of ways.
When she had asked the professor about why sometimes she felt her wand almost . . . anticipated her using it, he had said that some witches displayed more attunement to them than others, and given her a book to read about how wands were made and the types of wood and cores used that determined what wands made good receptacles for different kinds of spells. The older wizard was a fount of knowledge, and Lily was happy to take advantage of that fact, since Gold didn't mind talking with her—or any student, for that matter—about magic other than standard Defense spells.
And most students, except Potter and his gang and chronic troublemakers, liked the tawny-eyed professor.
Alice's barn owl, Archimedes, flew over to her and delivered a round package. "Ooh! Mum sent me her usual Halloween treats!" she said, and opened the package after giving Arch some treats. Inside were Halloween cupcakes, cookies, and candy as well as something called a Sneak-o-scope.
"Cool!" Sirius said. "Maybe next time James tries anything, we can catch him before he has a chance to ruin someone's day."
"Yeah. And wouldn't that serve the braggart right," Alice smirked, tucking the Sneak-o-scope away in her pocket. "We can all have some of these tonight when we meet in you-know-where."
They all nodded, knowing Alice was referring to the Room of Requirement.
She put away the box and stood up, as it was almost time for their next class, when James, Mary, Michael and their other two friends walked by their table.
"Whoops!" said James spitefully as he banged into their table and caused half their drinks to slosh all over. "Sorry, rejects. You were in my way. Better learn how to get out of it quick, right, Mary? Cause when my dad's Minister, things are going to change around here like lightning!" He snapped his fingers. "And everyone who's a dark wizard or allied with one," here he sneered at the Slytherins and Sirius. "Or who's a coward," he spoke loudly and darted his eyes towards the staff table. "Is going to get booted right out of the castle!"
Mary and the rest of them all squealed and giggled.
Severus rolled his eyes. "Please. The only one who ought to get thrown out of here is you, Potter. Because you're too stupid to make it past third year and you don't even know the difference. You've only come this far because daddy bought off certain people and we all know it."
James glared angrily at Severus. "You wish! You'll be the first to go, Snape, and I'll kick your arse right out myself! Just like my dad will kick out Gold for the lying coward he is."
"Gold's no coward, Potter!" Severus flared.
"Is too! My dad challenged him to a duel the other day and he refused," James snapped. "Only a coward refuses a duel of honor."
"I agree," Emily said, giving James a sickly sweet smile. "It would have been cowardly of Gold to fight your dad, Pothead. Because Gold could take your dad with one hand tied behind his back, so where's the honor in that?"
Alice, Jane, Lily, and Tav burst out laughing.
"Yeah, it's not honorable to duel a wizard who got washed out of the Auror Academy," Severus taunted, recalling now that Marius had mentioned that once about Charles. "Gold might accidentally give dear old dad brain damage."
More laughter followed this statement, and James clenched a fist and reached for his wand. "I'm going to make you eat dirt, Snape!"
Severus opened his mouth to say something sarcastic, but stopped as someone cleared their throat behind James.
"Mr. Potter," Robert Gold said in a deceptively soft tone. "You wouldn't happen to be . . . reaching for your wand, now would you? Because hexing another student will get you thirty-five points from Gryffindor and two nights scrubbing every toilet in this castle."
"Eep! Professor Gold!" James yelped, yanking his hand from his wand so fast it was almost as if it had been lit on fire. "No, sir! What wand?"
"That's what I thought. Now be off with you, the bell has rung and unless you want to be late for your class . . ." Gold said meaningfully, giving the boy a cold stare.
James quickly turned and bolted down the aisle of the Great Hall, followed by his friends.
"Bock! Bock!" Sirius sneered, and flapped his arms.
Gold raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Black," he said, slightly reprimanding.
"What, sir? I had something in my throat and uh . . . my hands fell asleep," Sirius said innocently.
"Sure you did," the professor snorted. "I shall see you later, children." Then he turned and was gone, gliding away so quickly and silently it was as if he were a spirit of the Underworld.
"Ha! There goes the real coward!" Dorian said, and jerked his head at Potter, who was just disappearing out the doors.
"Yeah, and I can't wait to see Charles Potter's face rubbed in the mud after Bagnold beats him," said Peter.
"And then we can all hold up signs saying Sorry Charlie! You Lose!" snickered Jane.
"How did Professor Gold know Potter was going to pull a wand on Sev?" asked Remus to Frank.
Frank shrugged. "Potter's always doing something slippery like that. Besides, it's Gold. Sometimes I think he can see through stuff or something."
Remus just shook his head. Gold's ability to sense things was uncanny, but the young werewolf was glad the professor was on their side. And he prayed Bagnold would win by a landslide on Tuesday, because if Potter's father won, it would be horrible for everyone, but especially for those like him, whom Charles regarded as abominations.
Then they all went out the doors heading to their first class of the day.
Since it was almost Halloween, Professor Kettleburn taught his students about barghests, nightmares, and tree hags in Care of Magical Creatures, explaining that these were all creatures that roamed about on Halloween night, when the doors between the spirit world and the world of the living were flung wide. He showed them pictures of each creature in his book called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and said they had to find five more unusual creepy creatures and list them and what they were for homework.
"I can name one right now," brayed James. "Gold's a ghoul. Pale, pasty, dresses in rags, and only comes out at night . . . 'cause he's scared of his own shadow!"
"Ooh, Jamie! You're such a wit!" tittered Mary, and she fluffed her hair and clung on his arm.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Somebody shoot me if I ever act that idiotic around a boy," she said to Alice. "How embarrassing . . . for her!"
They walked back from the clearing in the woods to Gold's classroom.
The brown-haired defense professor was grading at his desk when they came in and took their seats—quietly as he insisted on.
Once the last person was seated, Robert looked up from his papers and said, "Today, class, we'll be learning about a few things that go bump in the night . . . since it'll be Halloween in a few weeks and you ought to be prepared in case you encounter a hobgoblin or a banshee or a vampire or even a werewolf."
He spent part of the lesson showing them different slides on his magical projector and teaching them certain defense spells that could incapacitate or drive off some of the worst creatures, then had them break up into pairs and follow him outside to practice what he'd shown them.
He awarded points to Peter for being the quickest to cast a Repelling Charm at an attacking "banshee" which was Lily, and points to Severus as well for being able to hide from a werewolf—Sirius—trying to track him down. He then took five points from Slytherin because Avery set MacDonald's robes on fire trying to cast a Spark Charm, putting out the little flames with a simple "Aguamenti!"
He then dried her sopping wet robes with a wave of his wand, saying, "Go change after lunch, MacDonald. And quit sniffling, you're fine, you're not even singed, child. Merlin, but I've burned myself worse taking a teakettle off my stove." He handed her a handkerchief.
Mary took it, then threw it down and stomped on it when his back was turned, glaring at him furiously.
James patted her shoulder. "Don't worry, Mary. When my dad's minister, he'll burn Gold all right! He'll be begging on the street corner, just like the nobody he is!"
"I can't wait!" she hissed, and flounced back to the castle when their class was over.
"What a horrendous brat!" Lily growled, giving Mary the stink eye.
"Yeah, she and Potter deserve each other," Severus said, and then he slipped something into her hand.
Lily looked down and found a bright green ribbon. "Sev! What's this for?"
He blushed. "Uh, nothing. It just . . . matched your eyes."
"Aww! You're sweet!" Lily said, then she grinned at him and blushed too, before tying the ribbon in her hair and hurrying off after Jane, Alice, and Emily.
Severus went bright red and looked at his shoes. He couldn't believe he had done something like that.
"Mr. Snape," Professor Gold said quietly. "Just remember to say thank you when a girl gives you a compliment next time. It keeps you from stammering, trust me."
Severus looked up at his defense teacher, flushing. But Gold was not making fun of him, simply looking at him with a mixture of understanding and wisdom. "Uh . . . thanks, sir. I'll remember." Then he bolted towards the castle.
Remus cautiously started walking towards the castle, his stomach was queasy again, as it was nearing the full moon. "Damn! Why now?" he muttered irritably.
"Here, lad," a hand touched his shoulder.
Remus jumped as Gold glided up beside him, holding out a milky potion in a small vial. "What's this, sir?"
"It's an improved formula for your chronic upset stomach," Gold replied calmly. "If you take small sips, it'll stay down and you won't spend half the day puking up your toenails, Lupin."
Remus took the potion. "Thanks, professor. I don't know when you find the time to brew this stuff."
"Oh, I'm not the one making it. That's my wife. She's Head of Pediatrics at St. Mungos. She specializes in research for childhood magical diseases . . . like Lycanthropy and such."
Remus stiffened at that dreaded word, peering at Gold from beneath his eyelashes. Did the professor know?
But Gold did not accuse him of anything, merely continued walking next to him, and saying, "Someday she hopes to find a remedy for such terrible diseases, so children don't have to suffer the way they do now. She's very smart and intuitive, and a brilliant researcher."
"Like you, sir," Remus ventured.
"Oh, she's smarter than me," Gold chuckled. "She's won awards for her research. But hopefully this will help you better than the last one I gave you."
"Thank you. But . . . why are you helping me, if . . .?" Remus trailed off awkwardly.
"Because no one deserves to be sick like you, lad," Gold told him feelingly. "And though I cannot cure what ails you, I can at least make it more bearable."
Remus felt his cheeks heat and he carefully unstoppered the vial and drank a sip. It slid down his throat, like an icy rain, and immediately quieted his churning stomach. "Oh!"
"Much," Remus said, and took another sip. Then he put the stopper back and decided to save the rest for tomorrow, when his symptoms would be more pronounced.
Gold watched him as he made his way back to the castle, thinking that if Isabelle found a cure through her research, poor Lupin might yet be able to live a somewhat normal life . . . unless idiots like Charles Potter got elected.
The night of the election arrived, and Charles and Mavis sat upon the steps of the Ministry under a canopy awaiting the tallying of the results. Charles was so sure he was going to win that he had already memorized a victory speech and had hired a brass band to play a victory march as he went up to the podium to accept his new position.
A few hours passed and everyone in the crowd waited with bated breath as the official in charge of tallying the votes emerged from the Ministry with an envelope in her hand. The crowd went deathly still in anticipation. Even the crew from The Daily Prophet and other magazines froze.
The middle-aged witch took her time ascending the podium and opening the envelope.
Charles shot Minister Bagnold a triumphant grin from where she stood on the other side of him.
The witch cleared her throat, spoke a Voice Amplifying charm, then said, "And the winner of this election, by an overwhelming 55% of the vote is—Minister Millicent Bagnold!"
The crowd went wild and everyone threw off their hats and cheered wildly.
Mavis looked as if a giant had stepped on her. "What? What did they say?"
Charles felt as if he'd suddenly been stabbed through the heart. How could this be? He had been assured by several prominent Ministry officials that he had this in the bag. That there was no contest.
"I demand a recount!" he shouted, shaking his fist at the official. "The results were fixed!"
"A recount!" Mavis cried, but their shouts were lost in the tumult, as everyone celebrated Bagnold's victory.
James spent the weekend hiding out in his dorm room, cursing Bagnold, the Ministry, Gold, and anyone else he hated, while summarily hexing various objects and then repairing them. He was so upset he made himself sick and Minerva sent him down to Pomfrey.
Pomfrey, who knew quite well what ailed the Potter scion, gave him some revolting medicine to drink and when he refused to take it, told him she'd give him an injection instead.
"You ain't giving me nothing, you old bat!" James shrilled, and pulled his wand out, prepared to hex the needle out of Poppy's hand.
"Mr. Potter!" gasped Minerva, she had come by to tell Poppy that Remus would be paying her a visit soon, and saw what he had done. "Expelliarmus!" she cried, and Potter's wand was blown out of his hand, to roll under one of the beds. "Just what do you think you're doing, boy? Threatening Madam Pomfrey like that?"
"She was gonna give me some shot, and I'm not going to let her, Professor McGonagall!" James shouted. He made as if to dart out of the Hospital Wing.
Only to run right into Professor Gold, who had also come down to give Poppy some more of Remus' potion that his wife had made up. "Hey, where do you think you're going, Mr. Potter?" he asked sternly, grabbing the boy by the shoulders.
"Let me go, you miserable coward!" James yelped, struggling in his grasp.
But Gold held him firmly, and looked over at the two witches. "Ladies, do you need this rascal?"
"He's due for an injection for moping and depression, Rob, since he won't take the potion I prescribed," Poppy replied.
"Only he tried to hex Madam Pomfrey and then run away," Minerva said, frowning.
"Come here, you little troublemaker," Robert said, and lifted the struggling boy and tossed him over his shoulder.
"No! Put me down!" James hollered. "I'm calling my father!" He squirmed futilely against the older wizard's shoulder. But Gold, for all his slender build, knew how to carry wriggling children, and quite effectively held the twelve-year-old over his shoulder and walked to one of the infirmary beds. He sat down, still pinning James over his shoulder and said, "Here he is, Poppy."
"Thank you, Rob," said the mediwitch. "Can you hold him for me?"
"Certainly," Gold replied, then grunted as James's foot kicked him in the shoulder. "Hey! Quit that, lad, or else the shot will hurt worse. Be still! Now!"
Something in the defense professor's tone warned of dire consequences unless he was obeyed, so James stopped struggling. "No! No!" he yelped.
Poppy just ignored him, saying, "This could have been avoided, Mr. Potter, if you had just taken my potion." She waved her hand and James' trousers were lowered and his bottom bared.
"No! No shots!" the Gryffindor howled.
"Relax, boy. You'd think we were killing you," Minerva muttered.
"He's like his father," Poppy said, prepping the needle.
"Easy. Stay still or it'll break off," Robert warned. "Merlin, you're worse than my son."
James howled like they were cutting off his arm without anesthetic when Poppy injected him.
"Merlin's bones!" Minerva winced.
"There! All done!" Poppy said, and replaced James' pants.
"Oww! That really hurt you stupid—" he began, then he yelped as Robert gave him a firm tap on the rear.
"There now, lad! No need for such hysterics. You aren't afraid of needles are you?" the Defense professor asked, lowering the boy to the floor.
"Don't touch me!" James sniffled, rubbing his backside. "I'm telling my father! And then he'll sue all of you!"
"Sue us? For what? Doing our jobs and keeping you healthy?" McGonagall demanded.
James pouted. "I hate you!" he cried petulantly. "All of you!"
"You're free to go, Mr. Potter," Poppy said. "I think you're cured of your sickness."
James glared at her, then went to retrieve his wand and leave.
"And you have detention with me at seven o'clock tonight for attempting to hex a Hogwarts staff member," Minerva called as he ran off.
"Humph! He'd have that plus a sore bottom if I were in charge of him," Robert said.
"You and me both," Minerva snorted. Then she turned to Poppy. "Poppy, I came here to tell you that Remus's time is close and I'll be sending him here tomorrow for you to watch until Albus escorts him to the Shack."
"That's also why I'm here," Robert said. "To give you these. Isabelle brewed them for me last night, and you can give him one every three hours before he goes with Albus. They should stave off the nausea." The Defense professor handed her four vials of the milky potion.
"Thanks, Rob," Poppy said gratefully. "I hate having him sick and not being able to do much for him. Usually whatever I try and give him doesn't stay down too long when he's near his time."
"Tell Albus that we're going to take turns guarding the entrance to the Willow this time," Minerva said softly. "Because Charles is probably seething over his loss of the Minister spot and just itching to make trouble. And if he ever found out about Remus . . ."
Poppy shuddered. "That would be a disaster. So you're going to watch tomorrow night?"
"I am," Minerva said.
"And so will I," Gold said. "You can take the early shift, Albus can do the midshift, and I'll do the late night one, since I'm sometimes a night owl anyhow."
"Yes, that'll work," Minerva said. "Just be careful, Robert. Charles has the invisibility cloak now."
"It'll take more than an invisibility cloak to fool me, Minerva," Gold replied calmly. "I don't teach stealth techniques for nothing."
The Head of Gryffindor eyed him speculatively. "Robert, sometimes I wonder about you. Just what did you do before you taught?"
Gold shrugged. "This and that, Minerva. I used to be in security . . . among other things. It's not really important. Just don't worry about Charles getting the jump on me. The day I can't spot an idiot like him is the day I retire and go live in an old folks home."
"If you're sure?" Minerva said.
Gold nodded. Then he rose and said, "I need to go prepare for my third year class. See you at dinner." He left the Hospital Wing, moving so quickly that he was gone like a shadow fleeing the light.
"That man! He's so quiet his shadow makes more noise," Minerva said.
Poppy just nodded. "I know. But it's the quiet ones who often can pack the most punch. And he's stronger than he looks. Both physically and magically."
Minerva agreed. There was much more to the Defense professor than met the eye . . . much more . . . and she wondered just who he had been before he'd accepted this teaching post.
Charles Potter was furious at how his attempts to get a recount were stymied and flat out refused. Not all of his influence and backing could get those in charge to admit that there had been a grave miscarriage of justice and get the votes tallied again. He went to the Prophet in an attempt to get an article printed about how the Ministry was railroading him, but the editor refused to print anything without concrete facts and proof. Cuffe was a pansy ass, Charles thought disgustedly.
While he was there, however, he recalled that young reporter—Skeeter was her name—and he went to see if she could give him any dirt on that defense professor. "So . . . did that Gold ever tell you who he was getting that potion for?" Charles asked in his most ingratiating manner.
"Sorry, Mr. Potter. He was tightlipped as a clam. Couldn't get nothing out of him," Rita sighed. "Or find anything out about him either."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean he's who he says he is," the reporter sighed. "Near as I can figure it."
Charles gritted his teeth. There must be something he could pin on Gold. Every man had his Achilles heel. He just had to find it. "Thank you, Rita. Have a good day . . . and keep your ear to the ground." He gave her a smarmy grin as he left her cubicle.
"I don't feel too well," Remus told Frank and Sirius just before lunch that day. "I think I need to go to the Hospital Wing."
"Your illness again, mate?" asked Sirius softly.
Remus nodded. "Yeah. I'll . . . see you in about three days."
He started to depart when Dorian and Severus came up to them.
"You look awful," Dorian said. "Sorry, but it's the truth."
Remus sighed. "Yeah, I know. I need some of Pomfrey's potions. Then maybe I'll look more like a kid than a corpse," he joked.
"Feel better, Remus," Severus said softly.
Remus gave him a tired smile and went down the hall as quickly as he could. He hoped Pomfrey had more of Gold's potion, because he'd run out of it yesterday and spent part of this morning in the loo, puking.
He considered telling his friends the real reason he was sick every month, thinking that maybe it was time he trusted someone his own age with his deepest secret . . . after all he knew they wouldn't betray him . . . and if they knew he wouldn't feel like such a liar every time he went to the Hospital Wing each month.
He pondered the pros and cons of telling them as he walked over to the infirmary, as it kept his mind off his throbbing head and churning stomach.
Late that night:
Gold stood calmly before the tree the children had taken to calling the Whomping Willow, though it was actually a guardian tree, planted by Albus when Remus first attended Hogwarts, as a security measure in case the young werewolf ever escaped the confines of the Shack where he transformed each full moon. It was around midnight, the witching hour, as Muggles called it, and the moon was drifting down towards the horizon, in a few hours Remus would morph back into a boy and Albus could lead him back to the castle.
The lean professor hugged his brown robes with gold trim closer to him, grateful he'd worn the scarf Isabelle had knitted for him, as the night was chill and the wind howled down from the heights like a desperate soul screaming for absolution. It blew the professor's long straight brown locks into his face, and for an instant Gold was blinded.
There came an odd shuffling sound in the brush beside the hillock where the willow was.
Gold brushed his hair off his face and tilted his head, listening hard.
There it was again . . . the sound of something . . . or someone . . . shifting their weight on the dried leaves beside the fencerow.
Gold smirked to himself. Potter, you think you're so clever, don't you? Using that cloak, you think you're invulnerable. But only to those who don't use all their senses. And you might be able to walk unseen, but you sure can't walk unheard.
The professor made a discreet gesture with one long fingered hand, using his command of wandless magic. A small twig flew out of nowhere and banged into . . . something beside the fencerow.
There came a muffled grunt, allowing Gold to learn that yes, there was someone hiding there, and he didn't have to guess very hard who it was. Amused by his adversary's idiocy, Gold twirled his wand idly in a circle, looking innocuous, while casting a very advanced spell that was designed to muddle an enemy's mind. It was like and yet unlike a Memory Charm, because where a Memory Charm wiped a memory from a subject's mind, this spell totally bamboozled the one directed at it, it was a cross between a Confundus Charm and the way one became when they'd drunk too much alcohol. And the best part was it didn't leave "footprints" like a Memory Charm did, and was less invasive and harmful. It was Gold's own invention and he called it a Muddle Charm.
It hit the invisible stalker right in the head, as it was naturally drawn to there, and suddenly the cloaked intruder groaned and staggered off in the direction of Hagrid's hut . . . only to start walking in circles before ever getting there. Around and around and around he went, believing he was going somewhere, while actually going nowhere in a hurry.
Gold bit his lip to keep from laughing hysterically. He could hear Charles crashing about, and see the grass bending and swaying under the other's feet, and it was like watching a drunk staggering home from the pub . . . only he would have had more sympathy for the drunk.
Satisfied the snoop was put in his place, Robert conjured a small chair and sat down, waiting until the full moon set before relaxing his guard somewhat and then calling Albus to escort Remus back to the school. He deliberately left out his nocturnal visitor, wanting to see what Albus thought of it. Those who meddle in the affairs of wizards regret it for a long time, the defense professor snickered, then he waved at Albus coming down the path.
"He's all yours, Albus," Robert said, his brown eyes twinkling.
"Any problems?" the Headmaster asked.
"Nothing I couldn't handle," Gold answered.
"Good. I can handle it from here," Albus said. "You go get some sleep." He went and pushed the knot on the willow, freezing the tree so he could go and get Remus.
Gold waited until the old wizard and the boy were safely up the tunnel and across the lawn before unfreezing the tree. Then he gestured and Charles' hood slipped down, revealing him as he wandered all over the lawn, babbling to himself.
Covering his mouth with his hand, the slender wizard slipped away into the shadows, smothering a chuckle as he did so.
Albus returned to unfreeze the willow, along with Minerva, and found , to their shock, a disheveled and almost incoherent Charles Potter marching about on the lawn, singing something about lovely ladies and pints of ale.
"Merlin, Albus! I think he's . . . drunk!" gasped McGonagall.
"Drunk? But Minerva, the nearest pub's the Hog's Head and it closed hours ago," Albus remarked.
"Well, he's obviously had a few for the road," the Transfiguration professor said.
Dumbledore frowned. "I wonder what he's doing out here?"
"Maybe he came to complain to you about his precious little boy," Minerva said, rolling her eyes. "Or maybe he was trying to get Robert in trouble. You know how much he dislikes him, though I don't understand why."
"I do. It's because he can't seem to intimidate or run all over Professor Gold like he does most people," Dumbledore said, chuckling.
"Oh!" Minerva gave a wicked grin. "Well, now that makes sense."
"Come on, Charles," Dumbledore said. "Let's get you back to Hogsmeade. I'll put you on the Knight Bus and tell Stan to take you home to Mavis."
"You do that, Albus," Minerva said, her stern face suddenly wreathed with laugh lines. For she knew Stan was an inveterate gossip and having Albus call him to take Charles Potter, an apparently drunk Charles Potter—home would be all over wizarding Britain by tomorrow morning. And oh, what a scandal that would be!
The Head of Gryffindor smirked all the way back to her tower, imagining the headlines. It couldn't happen to a nicer chap, she thought, and muffled her laughter in her sleeve. Finally, Charles Potter had his comeuppance, and it was his own bloody fault!
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