The Many Faces of Harry Potter 40

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 40”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Forty: Guilt and Innocence

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. But some canon scenes are just too good to change much. There's a lot of those in this one, but don't skim through or you'll miss things.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, Zoey, # Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and between hashtags/pound signs.# , {Tier}, ~Chandra,~
% Mother AKA Avani Maznah, % and “Hypatia/Megan.”

Note 4: All hail Our Lady Of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling!

Note 5: Sorry this took so long. Between my normal issues and working on some original fiction of my own, I've gotten behind on this one. Also I got stuck on some of the tarot stuff.

*FAYANORA*

The door of the office opened.

“Hello, Potter,” said Moody. “Come in, then.”

Adira walked inside. She had been inside Dumbledore’s office before; it was a very beautiful, circular room, lined with pictures of previous headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts, all of whom were fast asleep, their chests rising and falling gently.

Cornelius Fudge was standing beside Dumbledore’s desk, wearing his usual pinstriped cloak and holding his lime-green bowler hat.

“Harry!” said Fudge jovially, moving forward. “How are you?”

“My name is Adira,” she corrected.

“Right, sorry about that Adira, I remember reading about that now. Anyway, so how are you?”

“Fine,” she lied.

“We were just talking about the night when Mr. Crouch turned up on the grounds,” said Fudge. “It was you who found him, was it not?”

“Yes,” said Adira. “Well technically it was Al, but I was there too.” Then, feeling it was pointless to pretend that she hadn’t overheard what they had been saying, she added, “I didn’t see Madame Maxime anywhere, though, and she’d have a job hiding, wouldn’t she?”

Dumbledore smiled at Adira behind Fudge’s back, his eyes twinkling.

“Yes, well,” said Fudge, looking embarrassed, “we’re about to go for a short walk on the grounds, Adira, if you’ll excuse us … perhaps if you just go back to your class —”

“I need to talk with Dumbledore. It's important.”

“Wait here for me, Adira,” he said. “Our examination of the grounds will not take long.”

“Alright,” she said, sitting down.

They trooped out in silence past her and closed the door. After a minute or so, Adira heard the clunks of Moody’s wooden leg growing fainter in the corridor below. She looked around at all the interesting things in the room: Dumbledore's phoenix familiar, Fawkes (a silly name for a bird, now she thought of it); the gadgets the puffed and whirred and who knew what else; the portraits of the former headmasters pretending to sleep; the Sorting Hat...

And then she noticed a light coming from inside an improperly-closed cabinet. She hesitated, glanced at Fawkes, then got up, walked across the office, and pulled open the cabinet door.

A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols that she did not recognize, though she felt the stirrings of interest and recognition from Hypatia. The silvery light was coming from the basin’s contents, which were like nothing they'd ever seen before. She could not tell whether the substance was liquid or gas. It was a bright, whitish silver, and it was moving ceaselessly; the surface of it became ruffled like water beneath wind, and then, like clouds, separated and swirled smoothly. It looked like light made liquid — or like wind made solid — Adira couldn’t make up her mind.

She wanted to touch it, to find out what it felt like, but nearly four years’ experience of the magical world told her that sticking her hand into a bowl full of some unknown substance was a very stupid thing to do. She therefore pulled her wand out of the inside of her robes, cast a nervous look around the office, looked back at the contents of the basin, and prodded them.

The surface of the silvery stuff inside the basin began to swirl very fast.

She bent closer, her head right inside the cabinet. The silvery substance had become transparent; it looked like glass. She looked down into it, expecting to see the stone bottom of the basin — and saw instead an enormous room below the surface of the mysterious substance, a room into which she seemed to be looking through a circular window in the ceiling.

(Well now this is fortuitous,) Hypatia said in their shared headspace.

I thought you weren't talking to us?

(Eh. I'm over it. I'd still prefer to publicly have nothing to do with the lot of you, but I knew the secret would come out eventually. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's a pensieve. Which, before you ask, is a very expensive magical artifact that lets you hold memories to replay them as though you're there, watching from a third party perspective. It'd be too much work to explain all these runes, but basically there's runes dealing with time magic as well as mind magic. Creates some kind of quantum-temporal link between your memories and the actual events from the past. Nothing that could be used for time travel probably, but useful. You get to see what actually happened, even if you don't really know.)

That's... kind of disturbing, actually. It would make a great espionage tool. You could use it to look at things, I dunno, a minute or two in the past, it'd be just as good as being right there!

(No, it's more complicated than that. You can only view specific moments from the past, and you have to have been there, or have the memory from someone who was there. Even if you went out of visual range of the subject of the memory, you'd be pulled right out the moment the memory ended. Doesn't leave many options for espionage, really. Not the way you were thinking. Anyway, I'm curious what the old goat's hiding in here.)

With no more warning than that, Hypatia took control of her arm and touched the surface of the memories with a single finger.

Dumbledore’s office gave an almighty lurch — Adira was thrown forward and pitched headfirst into the substance inside the basin —

But her head did not hit the stone bottom. She was falling through something icy-cold and black; it was like being sucked into a dark whirlpool —

And suddenly, Adira found herself sitting on a bench at the end of the room inside the basin, a bench raised high above the others. She looked up at the high stone ceiling, expecting to see the circular window through which she had just been staring, but there was nothing there but dark, solid stone.

The room was dimly lit; she thought it might even be underground, for there were no windows, merely torches in brackets such as the ones that illuminated the walls of Hogwarts. Adira saw that rows and rows of witches and wizards were seated around every wall on what seemed to be benches rising in levels. An empty chair stood in the very center of the room. There was something about the chair that gave her an ominous feeling. Chains encircled the arms of it, as though its occupants were usually tied to it.

Where was this place? It surely wasn’t Hogwarts; she had never seen a room like that here in the castle. Moreover, the crowd in the mysterious room at the bottom of the basin was comprised of adults, and Adira knew there were not nearly that many teachers at Hogwarts. They seemed, she thought, to be waiting for something; even though she could only see the tops of their hats, all of their faces seemed to be pointing in one direction, and none of them were talking to one another.

Not one of the witches and wizards in the room (and there were at least two hundred of them) was looking at her. Not one of them seemed to have noticed that a fourteen-year-old girl had just dropped from the ceiling into their midst, but then Hypatia had said this was someone's memory. Adira turned to the wizard next to her on the bench and uttered a gasp of surprise that reverberated around the silent room.

She was sitting right next to Albus Dumbledore.

(I was right. We're in the mad, gay old goat's memories,) Hypatia said in her head. (Don't bother trying to interact, they can't see or hear or feel you, they're just memories.)

Like in Riddle's diary?

(What? Oh yeah, that's right. Huh. I'm impressed. But then again, that was a horcrux, and since there's supposedly pieces of his soul in those things, that might be different from this. But the similarity is suspicious, I'll grant you.)

What do you mean 'supposedly'?

(Well all this talk of a soul, really, it's absurd. The way people talk about it, it sounds more like the person's mind to me. It can't possibly be the soul, souls are supposed to be indestructible and immortal. Huh. I guess Riddle didn't believe in the soul either. If he did, he'd have no need to fear death, and no need to make horcruxes. Unless it was actually punishment for the things he did in his lifetime that he's afraid of.)

She nodded absently, thinking to herself. So she was inside a memory, and this was not the present-day Dumbledore? Yet it couldn’t be that long ago … the Dumbledore sitting next to her now was silver-haired, just like the present-day Dumbledore. But what was this place? What were all these wizards waiting for?

Adira looked around more carefully. The room, as she had suspected when observing it from above, was almost certainly underground — more of a dungeon than a room, she thought. There was a bleak and forbidding air about the place; there were no pictures on the walls, no decorations at all; just these serried rows of benches, rising in levels all around the room, all positioned so that they had a clear view of that chair with the chains on its arms.

Before she could reach any conclusions about the place in which they were, she heard footsteps. The door in the corner of the dungeon opened and three people entered — or at least one man, flanked by two dementors.

Her insides went cold, but none of the rest of her did. These dementors were just memories, and couldn't affect her. Excellent! Still, she remembered their power only too well. The watching crowd recoiled slightly as the dementors placed the man in the chained chair and glided back out of the room. The door swung shut behind them.

Adira looked down at the man now sitting in the chair and saw that it was Karkaroff.

Unlike Dumbledore, Karkaroff looked much younger; his hair and goatee were black. He was not dressed in sleek furs, but in thin and ragged robes. He was shaking. Even as Adira watched, the chains on the arms of the chair glowed suddenly gold and snaked their way up Karkaroff’s arms, binding him there.

She watched as Mister Crouch accused him of being a Death Eater, and watched as he named names, so he could be released, which Moody wasn't at all happy about. None of the names sounded familiar to her until Severus Snape, which was not a surprise to her at this point. The only one that wasn't already dead, captured, or exonerated was one named Rookwood, who had worked for the Department of Mysteries, in the Ministry of Magic. An Unspeakable, then.

Adira was angry. Karkaroff had been a Death Eater, and they'd released him because he'd named a single other Death Eater they hadn't already been aware of? She sided with Moody on this one: hear his testimony and throw him back to the dementors.

After Crouch said he would review Karkaroff's case, the memory faded. The dungeon was dissolving as though it were made of smoke; everything was fading; she could see only her own body — all else was swirling darkness.

Then, suddenly, she was back in the dungeon. She was sitting in a different seat, still on the highest bench, but now to the left side of Mr. Crouch. The atmosphere seemed quite different: relaxed, even cheerful. The witches and wizards all around the walls were talking to one another, almost as though they were at some sort of sporting event. Adira saw a younger Rita Skeeter nearby. Dumbledore was wearing something different; a different day, a different memory. The memory of the trial of---

“BAGMAN!?” she exclaimed.

Sure enough, a younger, fitter, even more cheerful Ludo Bagman was on trial, though there were no dementors, and not even any chains, as there had been in Karkaroff's trial. Bagman's trial was a farce, in his favor. Mr. Crouch seemed to agree. Or rather... oh, she had it now; this was his sentencing, not his trial. There was no evidence or testimony given, the scene just showed the farce that was his sentencing, where he got declared innocent, his fans appearing to have secured his release. More reason to distrust the man.

As Adira watched the memory Moody on Dumbledore's other side, as well as a few other people she recognized, Hypatia said something in her mind.

(Huh. This pensieve thing would be very useful in learning enough stuff about someone to pretend to be them under Polyjuice Potion. Rip enough memories out of their head, spend a few days, weeks, or months viewing the memories, and it's all you'd need to fool their own mother.)

Before she could respond, the memory changed again. The mood could not have been more different. Same room, but everyone in it was looking grim. Crouch looked so grim it was scary. There was total silence, broken only by the dry sobs of a frail, wispy-looking witch in the seat next to Mr. Crouch. She was clutching a handkerchief to her mouth with trembling hands.

“Bring them in,” Crouch said, and his voice echoed through the silent dungeon.

The door in the corner opened yet again. Six dementors entered this time, flanking a group of four people. Adira saw the people in the crowd turn to look up at Mr. Crouch. A few of them whispered to one another.

The dementors placed each of the four people in the four chairs with chained arms that now stood on the dungeon floor. There was a thickset man who stared blankly up at Crouch; a thinner and more nervous-looking man, whose eyes were darting around the crowd; a woman with thick, shining dark hair and heavily hooded eyes, who was sitting in the chained chair as though it were a throne; and a boy in his late teens, who looked nothing short of petrified. He was shivering, his straw-colored hair all over his face, his freckled skin milk-white. The wispy little witch beside Crouch began to rock backward and forward in her seat, whimpering into her handkerchief.

Crouch stood up. He looked down upon the four in front of him, and there was pure hatred in his face.

What happened next was just... she didn't even know how to describe it. Crouch, voice and eyes colder than the far side of Pluto, sentenced the four people, including his own son (despite vehement, tearful protests of his innocence, begging his father to believe he hadn't done it), to Azkaban for torturing Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom.

The dementors were gliding back into the room. The boys’ three companions rose quietly from their seats; the woman with the heavy-lidded eyes looked up at Crouch and called, “The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!”

But the boy was trying to fight off the dementors, even though Adira could see their cold, draining power starting to affect him. The crowd was jeering, some of them on their feet, as the woman swept out of the dungeon, and the boy continued to struggle.

“I’m your son!” Crouch's son screamed up at his father. “I’m your son!”

“You are no son of mine!” bellowed Mr. Crouch, his eyes bulging suddenly. “I have no son!”

The wispy witch beside him gave a great gasp and slumped in her seat. She had fainted. Crouch appeared not to have noticed.

“Take them away!” Crouch roared at the dementors, spit flying from his mouth. “Take them away, and may they rot there!”

“Father! Father, I wasn’t involved! No! No! Father, please!”

“I think, Adira, it is time to return to my office,” said a quiet voice in Adira's ear.

Adira started. She looked around. Then she looked on his other side.

There was an Albus Dumbledore sitting on her right, watching Crouch’s son being dragged away by the dementors — and there was an Albus Dumbledore on her left, looking right at her.

“Come,” said the Dumbledore on her left, and he put his hand under Adira's elbow. Adira felt herself rising into the air; the dungeon dissolved around her; for a moment, all was blackness, and then she felt as though she had done a slow-motion somersault, suddenly landing flat on her feet, in what seemed like the dazzling light of Dumbledore’s sunlit office. The stone basin was shimmering in the cabinet in front of her, and Albus Dumbledore was standing beside her.

“I'm sorry, Professor,” she said hurriedly. “We were looking at it, and Hypatia was explaining what it was, and then suddenly she touched it and there we were in your memories. I didn't know how to get out, and I doubt she would have told me if I'd asked.”

“I quite understand,” said Dumbledore. He lifted the basin, carried it over to his desk, placed it upon the polished top, and sat down in the chair behind it. He motioned for Adira to sit down opposite him.

Adira did so, staring at the stone basin. The contents had returned to their original, silvery-white state, swirling and rippling beneath her gaze.

“I should have known someone as well-read and gifted as Hypatia would recognize a pensieve when she saw it.”

“Well, she actually read the runes, the ones she could see at least, and recognized it from those.”

“Ah. Well I shall save the greater explanations for her, if she feels so inclined to explain it to you. How is her relationship with the rest of you, anyway?”

“Better. She says she's over the... well, I guess the anger at being found out. Says she knew it would happen eventually.”

“Yes, no doubt she did. Of course, her anger being how it was suggests she was trying to convince herself otherwise.”

They sat there in silence a few moments, Dumbledore staring into the pensieve, before Adira spoke again.

“How... how do you put memories in there, anyway?”

“Let me show you.”

Dumbledore drew his wand out of the inside of his robes and placed the tip into his own silvery hair, near his temple. When he took the wand away, hair seemed to be clinging to it — but then Addy saw that it was in fact a glistening strand of the same strange silvery-white substance that filled the Pensieve. Dumbledore added this fresh thought to the basin, and Addy, astonished, saw her own face swimming around the surface of the bowl. Dumbledore placed his long hands on either side of the Pensieve and swirled it, rather as a gold prospector would pan for fragments of gold … and Addy saw her own face change smoothly into Snape’s, who opened his mouth and spoke to the ceiling, his voice echoing slightly.

“It’s coming back … Karkaroff’s too … stronger and clearer than ever …”

“A connection I could have made without assistance,” Dumbledore sighed, “but never mind.” He peered over the top of his half-moon spectacles at Addy, who was gaping at Snape’s face, which was continuing to swirl around the bowl. “I was using the Pensieve when Mr. Fudge arrived for our meeting and put it away rather hastily. Undoubtedly I did not fasten the cabinet door properly. Naturally, it would have attracted your attention.”

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

Dumbledore shook his head. “Curiosity is not a sin,” he said. “But we should exercise caution with our curiosity … yes, indeed … even with your esteemed Hypatia knowing what it was, you never know what horrible, scarring memories might be stored in one.”

Yeah, like Dumbledore in the tub, Al said. Addy winced.

Dumbledore looked curiously at her. “You don't want to know,” she explained.

Nodding and frowning slightly, Dumbledore prodded the thoughts within the basin with the tip of his wand. Instantly, a figure rose out of it, a plump, scowling girl of about sixteen, who began to revolve slowly, with her feet still in the basin. She took no notice whatsoever of Adira or Professor Dumbledore. When she spoke, her voice echoed as Snape’s had done, as though it were coming from the depths of the stone basin. “He put a hex on me, Professor Dumbledore, and I was only teasing him, sir. I only said I’d seen him kissing Florence behind the greenhouses last Thursday.”

“But why, Bertha,” said Dumbledore sadly, looking up at the now silently revolving girl, “why did you have to follow him in the first place?”

“Bertha?” Addy whispered, looking up at her. “Is that — was that Bertha Jorkins?”

“Yes,” said Dumbledore, prodding the thoughts in the basin again; Bertha sank back into them, and they became silvery and opaque once more. “That was Bertha as I remember her at school.”

The silvery light from the Pensieve illuminated Dumbledore’s face, and it struck Addy suddenly how very old he was looking. She knew, of course, that Dumbledore was getting on in years, but somehow she never really thought of Dumbledore as an old man.

“So, Adira,” said Dumbledore quietly. “Before you got lost in my thoughts, you wanted to tell me something.”

“Oh, right. Well we were in Divination class, and of course the room was boiling hot. And, well, I fell asleep.”

She hesitated here, wondering if a reprimand was coming, but Dumbledore merely said, “Quite understandable. Continue.”

“Well, I had a dream,” she said. “About Voldemort. He was torturing some woman with the cruciatus curse, but, well... she was enjoying it.”

“Indeed?” Dumbledore said, looking concerned. “Please continue.”

“Voldemort got a letter from an owl. He said something like, the woman's blunder had been repaired. He said someone was dead. Then he said, she wouldn’t be fed to the snake — there was a snake beside his chair. He said — he implied he’d be feeding me to it, instead. Then he did the Cruciatus Curse on the woman, and my scar hurt,” Addy said. “It woke me up, it hurt so badly.”

Dumbledore merely looked at her.

“Er — that’s all,” she said.

“I see,” said Dumbledore quietly. “I see. Now, has your scar hurt at any other time this year, excepting the time it woke you up over the summer?”

Realizing that Sirius had said he was going to tell Dumbledore about it, she answered, “No, just that time and this one.”

“I see.”

“So, um... given what Hypatia now knows about us being a horcrux...” she paused to swallow. It had only just now really hit her that if Hypatia couldn't solve the problem of removing the horcrux magic from something without destroying it, that she was going to die, along with everyone else in the collective.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Does this mean the vision is real? That I saw something through Voldemort's eyes because I'm one of his horcruxes, even if an accidental one?”

“You saw through his eyes? You did not see him from the outside?”

“No, I mean yes, I mean--” she sighed. “I mean I saw through his eyes. As though I were him.”

Dumbledore nodded gravely. “Then I'm afraid you are correct, Adira. You are seeing through his eyes when he is feeling powerful emotions, due to you being a horcrux of his as well as his increased strength.”

“So he is getting stronger?”

“Yes. He has been for months. I am not sure why he has not risen again already. It worries me.

“Still, I am far from certain. But the years of Voldemort’s ascent to power were marked with disappearances. Bertha Jorkins has vanished without a trace in the place where Voldemort was certainly known to be last. Mr. Crouch too has disappeared, within these very grounds. And there was a third disappearance, one which the Ministry, I regret to say, do not consider of any importance, for it concerns a Muggle. His name was Frank Bryce, he lived in the village where Voldemort’s father grew up, and he has not been seen since last August. You see, I read the Muggle newspapers, unlike most of my Ministry friends.”

Dumbledore looked very seriously at Adira.

“These disappearances seem to me to be linked. The Ministry disagrees — as you may have heard, while waiting outside my office.”

She nodded. Silence fell between them again, Dumbledore extracting thoughts every now and then. Adira felt as though she ought to go, but her curiosity held her in her chair.

“Professor?” she said again.

“Yes, Adira?” said Dumbledore.

“Er … could I ask you about … that court thing I was in … in the Pensieve?”

“You could,” said Dumbledore heavily. “I attended it many times, but some trials come back to me more clearly than others … particularly now.”

“You know — you know the trial you found me in? The one with Crouch’s son? Well … were they talking about Neville’s parents?”

Dumbledore gave Adira a very sharp look. “Has Neville never told you why he has been brought up by his grandmother?” he asked.

“No.”

“Yes, they were talking about Neville’s parents,” said Dumbledore. “His father, Frank, was an Auror just like Professor Moody. He and his wife were tortured for information about Voldemort’s whereabouts after he lost his powers, as you heard.”

“So they’re dead?” said Adira quietly.

“No,” said Dumbledore, his voice full of a bitterness Adira had never heard there before. “They are insane. They are both in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. I believe Neville visits them, with his grandmother, during the holidays. They do not recognize him.”

Adira sat there, horror-struck, eyes filling with tears. She had never known … never, in four years, bothered to find out.

“The Longbottoms were very popular,” said Dumbledore. “The attacks on them came after Voldemort’s fall from power, just when everyone thought they were safe. Those attacks caused a wave of fury such as I have never known. The Ministry was under great pressure to catch those who had done it. Unfortunately, the Longbottoms’ evidence was — given their condition — none too reliable.”

“Then Mr. Crouch’s son might not have been involved?” said Adira slowly.

Dumbledore shook his head.

“As to that, I have no idea.”

“Er,” she said, “Mr. Bagman …”

“… has never been accused of any Dark activity since,” said Dumbledore calmly.

“Right,” she said hastily, staring at the contents of the Pensieve again, which were swirling more slowly now that Dumbledore had stopped adding thoughts. “And … er …”

But the Pensieve seemed to be asking her question for her. Snape’s face was swimming on the surface again. Dumbledore glanced down into it, and then up at Adira.

“No more has Professor Snape,” he said.

“Because he was in love with my mum, and now he wants revenge against Voldemort on her behalf?”

“Indeed. But now I must ask you to leave. First, though, promise me you not speak about Neville’s parents to anybody else. He has the right to let people know, when he is ready.”

“I promise, sir. I wouldn't do that to him. I won't even tell him I know.”

“Thank you,” Dumbledore said, smiling.

She smiled back, and turned to go.

“And —”

Adira looked back. Dumbledore was standing over the Pensieve, his face lit from beneath by its silvery spots of light, looking older than ever. He stared at Adira for a moment, and then said, “Good luck with the third task.”

Addy quickly went back to Griffindor tower. She, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius via the two-way mirror all ended up talking about what Addy had seen in the Pensieve, minus the stuff about Neville's parents. She also didn't tell Neville she knew about that. She'd had to put up with some of Sirius's warnings not to do dangerous stuff like wander off with Krum again, like she didn't already know his position on that. So mostly she ignored his well-intentioned hovering.

~

The following Monday morning, Al got an owl tapping at his window as he was getting ready. He opened the window and took the owl's message. The owl left right away.

Looking at the letter, he saw it was from Dumbledore.

Dear Alastair,

I have written for a couple of reasons. First, this weekend at the Wizengamot I began proceedings to have the Dursleys charged with child neglect and possibly child abuse as well. If I can manage to do this properly, they will not be put in Azkaban. It is, after all, a prison for wizards. The standard excuse our nation gives for using dementors is that they rob a wizard of their powers, even though many other prisons around the world have just as good a track record of keeping prisoners within their walls without resorting to the cruel use of dark creatures such as they.

But I digress. The point is, a non-magical prison will suffice, and we do have such places for small offenses too minor for Azkaban. Technically, the prison they would go to if convicted is a magical holding cell but it would look and feel like an ordinary prison to Muggles. I did debate whether or not to just let the Muggle law system deal with them, even though their victim (you) is a magical human. But there is evidence we will be able to get trying them here in our world that would violate the Statute of Secrecy if we tried it in the Muggle world, that will be necessary given how many years it has been since you have been in their custody. Also there is your transformations to consider; given that they can be triggered by strong emotion, it would not do to have you transform in the middle of a Muggle court whilst testifying.

Speaking of testifying, you will be able to testify either with extracted memories (a harmless memory-copying spell), verbally under oath and/or veritaserum, or even both. Thus, you will not need to see the Dursleys in court unless you wish to. Let me know which you prefer as soon as you can.

But more on that later. Now on to the second thing. Ward-masters Fangslaughter and Benedict Snaggletooth from Gringotts wish to speak with a certain member of your collective (I think you know who I am referring to). They do not presently know anything about her beyond her being the sleepwalker. They would like to interview her about what she did to get past the wards on Sirius's flat, if she is amenable to it. If it helps, they did offer to pay you 1000 galleons in exchange for the information. Also, she is free to remain hiding as the sleepwalker by speaking with Adira's form, if she desires to help them. Please let me know her thoughts on the matter when you can.

Yours sincerely,
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Using his wand to erase the paragraphs about Hypatia, then moving Dumbledore's signature up the page to disguise the fact it had been changed, he then put the letter in his trunk and went about his day.

Sure took them long enough, Al thought at the others. Did you notice this didn't happen until the news came out? Dumbledore is probably trying to save face.

Yes, well we did get rather distracted by everything going on. Voldemort, Riddle, Peter, Sirius, and now this Tournament BS, Addy responded.

(I'll do it), Hypatia said to them. (I'll talk with Fangslaughter and Benedict Snaggletooth. Pretty sure the information isn't worth 1000 galleons, not really, so it's easy money. I know we don't need it, but hey, why not?)

They ended up sending Dumbledore a note giving Hypatia's answer and saying they were still thinking about the other thing. He soon sent back a note saying the meeting would be next Wednesday in his office after dinner.

In the meantime, they had classes to go to, and practicing combat-useful spells for the Maze with Ron and Hermione.

They were halfway through when Ron got their attention to something.

“Come and look at this,” said Ron, who was standing by the window. He was staring down onto the grounds. “What’s Malfoy doing?”

Al and Hermione went to see. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing in the shadow of a tree below. Crabbe and Goyle seemed to be keeping a lookout; both were smirking. Malfoy was holding his hand up to his mouth and speaking into it.

“He looks like he’s using a walkie-talkie,” said Al curiously.

“He can’t be,” said Hermione, “I’ve told you, those sorts of things don’t work around Hogwarts.”

“So maybe it's some magical equivalent.”

“I doubt that, Al,” she said. “Hogwarts is warded against most forms of surveilance.”

“Well maybe he has a two-way mirror?” Al suggested.

“Hmm... could be,” she said.

“I don't see anything like reflections,” Ron said, still looking out the window. “Then again, I guess I wouldn't if he's using it to talk to someone. But also, whatever he's talking to is very small. Too small to be a two-way mirror, I think.”

“Come on, Al,” Hermione added briskly, turning away from the window and moving back into the middle of the room, “let’s try that Shield Charm again.”

~

The IDIOTS! The complete and total idiots! They'd been up all night talking with Bushy-hair and Matchstick about what had happened to Mr. Crouch and not a one of them thought to check the Marauder's Map for him! Not that Hypatia had any room to complain, really; she hadn't thought of it either. And anyway, even if she had, it was likely that the culprit had already been gone from the grounds by the time they got back up to the Griffindor dorms.

Ah well, just a slight bump in the road. It's not like she really cared. It was very unlikely that whoever had entered them into the Triwizard Tournament was the same person who had abducted Mr. Crouch, if that's even what happened. Crouch might have snapped out of whatever was wrong with him, stunned them, and took off running. Hypatia barely even cared about the Triwizard Tournament either, anymore. The First Task had been scary, yes, but the Second Task had been boring to watch even from behind the eyes of one of the contestants, and the weird 3D maze building they were erecting on the Quidditch pitch was unlikely to be much more interesting than the Second Task. She was no longer convinced that whoever had put their names in the Goblet of Fire had been intending them any harm at all. Which didn't answer why they'd done it, but the unlikeliness of it being malevolent shot the mystery down to lowest priority in her mind. After all, not everything could be life or death.

She was much more interested in her work with Draco. And that had been a little odd lately too. They'd hardly been back in school after the Easter holidays for a week when Professor Snape had come into the Slytherin common room while she and Draco were there, looking completely unsurprised to see either of them there.

“Please, Miss Williams, do not panic,” he had said. “Nor you, Mr. Malfoy. I know what you two are doing here, and I am not here to stop you. I am, in fact, here to help.”

“Why, sir?” Draco asked.

“Because while I do not officially, publicly condone learning the Dark Arts, I do understand the appeal of it. I have Masteries in many Dark Arts as well as in Potions. I do not know you well, Miss Williams, but if Mr. Malfoy trusts you, I shall as well. Anyway, if you are going to learn Dark Arts, you might as well do it with me, so you do not do something unsafe and potentially deadly. Ritual magic can do some nasty things when done improperly, after all.”

“How did you find out about what we're doing, sir?” Draco asked.

“I have my ways.”

Hypatia wasn't sure, but she thought he glanced at her briefly as he spoke. Either way, she now knew that he knew because Dumbledore had told him. Most likely Dumbledore wanted Snape to try to convince her not to go down this road. After all, Snape had, and had ended up a Death Eater.

Draco seemed to realize he wasn't going to get anything more out of Snape, for he asked, “So you're going to help us?”

“Yes. By giving you both an unofficial apprenticeship in the Dark Arts.”

Still suspicious, Draco said, “You're not expelling us for trying to learn Dark Arts? This stuff is against the rules. And Dumbledore wouldn't approve.”

“You are right, he would not. But what the Headmaster does not know will not hurt him.”

That had been over two weeks ago. Snape's unofficial apprenticeship so far entailed some lecturing and note-taking, some assigned reading, and some training in proper safety techniques when working with ritual magic. She was most pleased when one of the assigned books was about runic casting, even if she was annoyed that Snape was restricting them to only a couple hours a night, since he still needed to sleep and didn't want them doing work together without him.

Runic casting, as it turned out, was dangerous too. Normal runic magic involved drawing or carving runes and pushing magic into them with intent. In runic casting, you had to cast intent and magic into the runes as you drew them in the air with your wand, which was a bit like building high-voltage electrical equipment that was powered up while you were building it, and therefore much more dangerous than ritual magic in some ways. Or at least, more immediately dangerous. Because of this, they would not actually be doing it any time soon, probably not until next school year. For now, Snape just wanted to make sure they knew how to be safe, and part of that was impressing upon them how potentially dangerous many Dark Arts were.

They were also learning a bit more about why some of these things were illegal. Apart from the danger of it, runic casting was illegal also because you could put a whole bunch of different effects together in one casting, and since it was runic magic and not a standard wand spell, no two people would ever be likely to cast the same runic-casting spell the same way. Often the same spell couldn't be cast the same way twice by the same person! Those differences from standard wand spells could make runic-casting spells a real challenge for Healers to counteract, because the arithmancy was often unique to every casting. The same wizard could hit three people with the same runic-casting spell and the arithmancy could be different for each instance. What was more, a lot of the time runic-casting spells could take so long for a Healer to work out a countermeasure for that the person could die before the countermeasure could be administered.

Wandless magic was legal, of course, but some of it had similar problems for Healers that runic-casting spells did. If someone could sense magic and thus feel out the shape of wand spells and shape their wandless magic into similar shapes, it wasn't so bad. But if someone was doing something like Chandra was doing, and experimenting with different shapes of magic, essentially creating entirely unique spells, that made the arithmancy hard to figure out. Not nearly as difficult to work out as runic-casting spells, but difficult.

Snape also reluctantly added, in all this information, that there really was no reason why any spell had to be used with any particular incantation. After all, a lot of people around the world had wands but were incapable of pronouncing Latin. Thus, wand magic was largely an association game where you associated a particular word with a particular spell or effect. The incantation used could alter the arithmancy of the spell slightly, but not enough to really make much of a difference.

From this information, Hypatia was able to extrapolate something useful enough to pass on to Chandra: that if he liked one of his wandless experimental spells enough, he could use runic-magic spell catchers to analyze the arithmancy of these spells, associate those spells with a sound, and make them into wand spells.

The only problem in that, of course, was Chandra's peculiar problem where he had to use emotions to cast wand spells. It was a vexing problem, one she'd been giving some thought to for a while, without being able to figure it out. So one night as Snape was escorting her back to Griffindor while she was under the invisibility cloak, she asked him about it.

When she was done explaining the problem and related thoughts, Snape nodded.

“Miss Williams,” he whispered, “I have no idea why your friend is having that problem, but I shall give it some thought. I will let you know if I think of anything. In the mean time, we are passing your destination. Good night.”

The Saturday after Mr. Crouch's appearance on the grounds, Hypatia was helping Chandra analyze some of his favorite experimental wandless spells so she could turn them into wand spells, when another project she'd been working on made a breakthrough.

One of the first nights back, Hypatia had read and memorized every page of the book written with the supposedly indecipherable code, had set up several constructs to working on the project, and then had let them get on with it while focusing herself on other things. And that Saturday while working with Chandra, the constructs announced to her that they were done. She was surprised it had taken so long, actually. She excused herself and withdrew Inside to look at the results.

Sure enough, they weren't lying or mistaken: they had arithmantically cracked the code, and now there were hundreds of pages of detailed notes and entries about the man's research trying to sacrifice other people's magic without hurting or killing them. Just skimming the results like that, she thought she spotted some of the flaws in his maths. But she'd look at it a bit more later; for now, she set twenty dicta-quills to copying out the decrypted results, each one copying out a specific one-twentieth of the book. This meant each quill only had to copy out fifty pages. At about ten pages an hour, it would only take them five hours to copy it all out.

Hypatia grinned at this. This coming Wednesday, she'd have something worth far more than 1000 galleons to sell to Gringott's. But then she paused, actually thinking about that, looking through the information now and then as she thought.

(No), she finally decided. This information was too dangerous in the wrong hands. Like the hands of a former Death Eater, or the kind of people Gringott's might sell it to. She decided to hide the book away when she had it transcribed – she'd have to, it was taking up too much memory in her head – and give Draco back the original, claiming she couldn't crack it. She'd say she didn't have access to a computer powerful enough to do it, which wasn't technically a lie. He didn't know she could do stuff like this in her head; he had no inkling just how good she was at maths.

Yes, she'd keep this to herself. And if anyone else cracked it, she'd have the information too, maybe she could come up with a counter just in case.

~

Adira went up to Dumbledore's office on Wednesday completely ignorant of any of this, and soon she was sitting at a familiar table and room, the very ones she'd met with the man from Quality Quidditch Supplies at during her second year. She waited a few minutes, bored, for Fangslaughter and his partner to arrive.

The door opened. “Your guests are here now,” Dumbledore said.

She turned her head to the side at his voice and all three of them came in and sat down. Hypatia took over control of the body but didn't change it, and glared at Dumbledore.

“I believe this does not involve you, Headmaster,” she said.

He looked into her eyes. She let him see the same thing she'd shown him when he was testing her occlumency.

“I apologize. I was just interested, too.”

“She's got a point,” Fangslaughter said. “This is between her and us. It's a business transaction. You need to leave.”

Dumbledore sighed, but got up and left the room.

She turned to Fangslaughter, who looked at her with suspicion.

“Did you get the owl I sent Sunday night?”

“Yes, we did. Did you not get ours, which said we agree that you could put it in book form?”

“I did. I just wanted to make sure someone else wasn't pretending to be you.”

“Excellent precaution.”

“So do you have the money for the full purchase?”

The goblin chuckled at her. “Straight to the point, I like your style. To answer your question, I have access to the money, which I will transfer to your account when I see the merchandise.”

From the pouch around her neck she pulled out a hand-bound book, quite small, and slid it over.

“This is my complete, detailed report on how I got past the wards in Sirius Black's flat, including the stupid mistakes I made to get caught.”

As the goblin and his human partner skimmed through the book, Fangslaughter looked annoyed.

“Parts of this book are blacked out.”

“That's a spell of my own design. I made sure to keep enough visible to get your interest, but I can't have you memorizing anything before the money is in my account. Once it is, I'll lift the spell.”

“You are a shrewd human indeed. Alright, 1000 galleons for the book, as promised. It seems more the adequately detailed, after all.”

“Agreed.”

“One thousand galleons it is,” he said, drawing up a contract and then starting a magical check made out to Adira Potter.

Taking the contract from him, she read it. It was simple enough. If she signed it, she'd be agreeing that the book was what they said it was, as well as agreeing to lift the censorship spell from it upon completion of the sale, and if there was a problem with it, that she could be fined.

“Looks good,” she said, and signed the contract.

Fangslaughter took it back and signed on behalf of Gringott's. The contract glowed, sealing the deal.

“Do you want any in cash?”

“I'll take a couple hundred in galleons, the rest can go straight to my account.”

He nodded, soon passing her a sack full of galleons. She counted it as he wrote out the rest of the check he'd started and handed it to her. It was made out correctly, as far as she could tell, and for the right amount. He had given her the right amount of galleons, too.

“Sign the back of the check, Miss Potter, and the money will transfer to your account.”

She moved aside to let Adira sign for her just in case the magic could tell the difference between her and Addy. As soon as the back of the check was signed, the check disappeared. A few minutes later, a scroll magically appeared in the same spot. She opened it and read it; it was basically a receipt saying the money had been transferred to her account, signed by a Gringott's employee and stamped with the official Gringott's seal.

Hypatia got out her wand and lifted the censorship spells from the book. They looked through the book again to verify it was done, and smiled. Hypatia smiled back, privately hoping they wouldn't be too angry when they'd read enough of the book to reveal that she'd only managed to do it because her brain was basically a human computer, and that even the likes of Dumbledore would probably be unable to do what she'd done without using a Muggle computer.

“It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Fangslaughter.” She got up, bowed while holding her hands out to her sides to show they had no weapons in them, and to everyone's surprise, she said something in the harsh, guttural language of Gobbledygook.

Once Fangslaughter recovered from the shock, he did the same bow back at her, saying something slightly different in Gobbledygook. Then the two of them left.

You know Gobbledygook? Alastair said incredulously.

(Only a little bit. The Goblin Nation's official greetings, goodbyes, a few similar things, and their responses.)

What happens when he finds out you're probably the only one who could do what you did to the wards?

(Oh, probably send me a Howler, if Goblins even do that. But if he tries to fine me, we can fight it easily and cheaply, if we want to; I never at any point said anything to indicate the information was worth a thousand galleons; he was the one who made that offer.)

Clever, that.

As it turned out the next day, Goblins do indeed send Howlers sometimes. He did at least have the decency to restrict the content of it to, “MISS POTTER! I HAVE ONLY THIS TO SAY: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Using Iliana's face, Hypatia grinned at his upset.

~

Their nerves mounted as June the tenth drew closer, but they were not as bad as those they'd felt before the first and second tasks. For one thing, they were confident that, this time, they'd done everything in their power to prepare for the task. For another, this was the final hurdle, and however well or badly they did, the tournament would at last be over, which would be an enormous relief.

Still, despite these growing nerves, Iliana managed to remember to do a few things she needed to do. She gave the Weasley twins 50 galleons, telling them a nice lie about having gotten the money from Bagman under threat of being hexed, which they accepted. Also, she cornered Neville and convinced him to come with her and Luna on the Hogsmeade visit June 5th to get him a new wand at the Hogsmeade branch of Ollivander's. He had put up a fuss, but she'd insisted rather vehemently, as well as made him realize that since it would technically be his first bought wand, it would be covered by the Ministry subsidy and thus only cost her seven galleons. She said he could pay her back if he wanted, too, which had sealed the deal.

So on Saturday the fifth, Iliana, Luna, and Neville rode down to Hogsmeade together. The man who worked at the Hogsmeade branch of Ollivander's looked like he was related to Mr. Ollivander, but was much easier to be around than Garrick Ollivander himself.

After Neville got his wand – thirteen inches, cherry wood with unicorn horn, Iliana and Luna went to a divination store so Al could buy some books on the subject as well as a tarot deck.

The rest of the visit that day was nice. Iliana and Luna ended up walking all around the village looking at all the different shops, Iliana got Luna a nice flower for her hair, they had lunch at a little cafe called Brews and Stews, then they found out the village had a little theater company where they showed plays when the Hogwarts students got to visit, so they took in a show there. The play was a version of some wizarding fairy tale Iliana wasn't familiar with. When it was over, they went to the bookstore and Iliana got a copy of Beedle the Bard's collection of wizarding fairy tales. They capped off the day with a trip to The Three Broomsticks.

That evening, they switched to Al and he read a book he'd gotten about tarot card divination. This reading included information about a three-card spread where one card represented the past, another the present, and the third represented the future. On a lark, he 'transferred his energy' to the deck as instructed, then shuffled his deck several times with a simple charm that the book said was great at randomizing things. Then he drew three cards, face down, and set the deck down before uncovering the cards, with the question he wanted answered in his mind: 'What is the situation with Voldemort?'

He turned over the first card, concerning the past. It was upside down, but it was the Empress. He looked up the reversed Empress in the book; it said, 'Empress reversed indicates neglect and a lack of attention where there should be nurturing. She can represent a mother who gives little affection and hardly any protection to her child. The child can also symbolize a project, a relationship, an enterprise, the home and a business that need attention but are instead being left unattended.'

Al blinked at this, confused by it. Something to think about later. For now, he turned over the next card – the one for the present, keeping the question in his mind. It was Death, but upside down again. That meant that something that should have come to a blessed end was still persisting. Well that was a pretty accurate description of Voldemort's current situation alright.

So he turned over the third card, the one for the future. It was the Tower. Given the possible meaning for that, and the context of the question, he figured it meant either disaster and/or 'sudden change that is caused by disruption and revelations that rock the foundation of the person, household, organization or even country, depending on the nature of the question.'

“Yeah, tell me the obvious why don't you,” he sniped at the cards. The card, he figured, was basically saying Voldemort would come back some day, which would indeed be a disaster.

After some thought, he decided to do some one-card draws to try to explain the first answer. Reshuffling the deck, he thought of the question, 'Who failed to nurture Voldemort in his past, which led to this situation?'

He got the Empress, upright this time. So Voldemort's mom was the one who didn't nurture him? Well the guy was an orphan. Or was he? If she was the one who failed him, maybe the card was saying she gave him up? He wondered if he could get an answer to that. The book said that yes/no questions were generally a bad idea leading only to confusion, but you could get around that by rewording the question. So he asked his deck 'How do you feel about the conclusion that Voldemort's mother abandoned him?'

The card he drew was the King of Swords. With its association with having clarity of thought, Al took this as a 'yes' answer.

He tried again, asking 'Did anyone else fail Voldemort in his past?' This time, he got the Hierophant reversed. Its meaning confused him at first, given the context: 'Hierophant reversed denotes prudence, silliness and hypocrisy. There are rules but no knowledge of why these rules are of importance. The ego is without guidance. There is an inflexibility in the system and in the people of the system. It can be an institution who control information and the leaders make themselves rich while the poor remain poor.'

“What, so he was failed by the system? Which system, though: the Muggle one or the magical one?”

Asking that question of the deck now, he got the Magician, which in context didn't require any more information as far as Al was concerned. Obviously it meant the magical system had failed him.

Al felt a strange urge to ask another question, 'Did anyone at Hogwarts fail Voldemort in his past?' To that one, he got the Emperor. A question about Hogwarts, and he'd gotten the card concerning the leader of an organization? That had to be Dumbledore. Dumbledore had failed young Tom Riddle somehow.

But while all that was interesting if true, it wasn't really important. What was more important was getting more information about the present and future. The problem was, he didn't think the Tarot would be very efficient at helping him find horcruxes. And really, he knew how to end Voldemort's hold on this earth already. So he'd have to ask something else. He'd ask clarification on the future. The three-card draw had said, basically, that there was a disaster in the future, involving Voldemort.

He decided on a slightly different kind of three-card draw, as outlined in the book. This time, he would be asking questions where the three cards would represent 'what will help you/what will hinder you/what is your unrealized potential.' He reshuffled and did the new draw, asking for advice on the quest to end Voldemort.

The first card he uncovered, for 'what will help you,' was...

“The Tower? What the hell? Not even reversed? A disaster or upheaval is going to help me? Weird.”

Al sighed and moved on to the next card, for 'what will hinder you.'

“Hmm... the Hermit, reversed. The book says... 'Hermit reversed indicates isolation and paranoia. There is no insight, rather there is a twisted and vicious side to the person. This also denotes someone who is very lonely and is ‘loosing’ their grip on reality due to the amount of time they spend by themselves.' So I shouldn't isolate myself or fall into paranoia, and make sure I'm spending enough time with others? Okay, so noted. Now on to 'what is my unrealized potential.'”

He turned over the card to reveal it was the King of Wands. The meaning of this card was long and involved, but basically meant his unrealized potential was leadership, problem solving, helping others get past their fear, doing what you think is right, and taking on challenges. There was also some warning against becoming arrogant or aggressive in the pursuit of your goals, against getting distracted by bigger and better things, and against ignoring other people. He wrote down everything he'd come up with so far, Hypatia's better memory helping him with a resigned sigh in its tone when he forgot stuff.

Of course, there was the slight issue of whether the deck was answering questions just for him, or for the whole collective, and whether or not the difference mattered, because either way, the last two cards were good advice. He was pretty sure the cards were answering for him, though, given the details of the King of Wands.

It was that Tower that confused him still. How was a disaster supposed to help him? And what questions could he ask to get clarification? He'd have to think on that for a few days and come back to it later.

Time for one final draw, on another subject. With the question 'What do I do concerning the Third Task' in his mind, he drew his cards.

For 'what will help you,' he got another strange card, the ten of swords. That card is about betrayal and loss, and accepting change. He sighed in annoyance, and went on. The second card, for 'what will hinder you,' he got the reversed three of pentacles, indicating a lack of teamwork could be a problem. Kind of obvious, so he went on. For 'what is my unrealized potential,' this time he got the nine of wands. In context, he supposed that meant he had an unrealized potential for persisting in the face of challenges and fighting against the odds. Possibly even of winning no matter how bad things got before the end.

After writing that all down, Alastair put the cards away, tired. He wasn't sure how good he was at this, how accurate his readings were, or if it was working at all. Some of the answers made sense, but he had no way to verify them, that he knew of. Still, some of the cards had given good advice, so he decided to try to verify his findings somehow. But for now, rest.

Endnote: Stopping short because it's been too long since the last chapter.



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