"I want to learn potions. There's got to be a link between potions and science."
Greg just blinked. "David, that's not a single day request. We take it mandatory for five years and then more if we're dedicated and good at it."
"I know. It's not like you're leaving next week."
"Point," he admitted, considering it. "I can tell you that there is a link but part of it is other stuff." He glanced around, then looked at him again. "I've got to ask Sev. Can you wait until tonight for an answer?"
"Sure. I figured you'd need to do something like that." He grinned at him and opened the bag. "Besides, you've got to teach the kids."
"True," he agreed. "Let me ask." He walked out, going to the break area to get comfortable and talk to his teacher. Severus sent back a cackle, apparently he remembered David. He pointed out David was a lot like him and that got another cackle, but Severus said that he already knew about magic, had been changed by magic, and that was an interesting field of study among the muggle borns. He sent his well wishes and leaned back, considering his options. He could teach, he was good at it. He wasn't sure David was serious about learning though. He called his wife on the cellphone, getting Nippy. "Get into the library and find my old Potions textbook for me please. I need my first year book here. I'll pop around and pick it up when...." It appeared next to him and Night disappeared again. "Thanks, guys." He hung up and looked through it. Nothing in there really *needed* magic. Potions often weren't effective if you didn't have any but David could still change. He had a magical nature and magical creatures could make potions if they had the mental and physical capability. He got up and walked it back to David's lab, taking his report. "Thanks. Here." He handed over the book. "I will but you've got to be serious about this. This isn't a weekend's study. Just the first one alone can take days to get right. You're going to keep going over it until you get it right."
"Fine," he agreed. "I expected that. Can you show me where I need to pick up stuff?"
"Sure. I've got to hit there myself. There's not that much stuff standard. A wooden spoon, a cauldron. You've seen the basic setup." David nodded. "We'll go after work tonight. Study the first one. We'll work on it when we get home." He left, going to look at the report and make a decision about this case. He thought that the clerk had his buddy rob him. He sat down to search for a connection between the two. There was something wrong about that robbery.
David looked around the potions supply store, then back at his friend. "You really use all this?" Greg nodded. "This is a really expensive job."
"Yeah, but you sell them for a bit more than you took making them. Supply and demand, Dave." He shrugged and looked at the sales clerk, who was grinning. "I'm tutoring him in remedial potions."
"Just the starter set? We've got a box set for the students," she offered, leading them over to it.
Greg looked at it, then grimaced. "They let them use stainless steel cauldrons at Andromeda? Man, at Hogwarts we used pewter." She gave him an amused look. "Chemical reactions and I'm teaching him from those books."
"We can substitute a pewter one but it'll cost a few bucks more. What about the ingredients?"
David looked, then blinked at the tag. He went to look at the various parts. Greg took the cauldron and put it back, handing him a smaller one. "I don't need a bigger one?"
"When you first start, you start small. You don't need to make big batches, just enough to test." He checked the cauldron again then handed him a better one. "That one's more even."
"Potions is like cooking, David. Good pots heat evenly and don't have thin spots."
"Oh. Okay. Is this good?"
"That's good. Normal wooden spoons would work. That's what I use," he offered. He looked at her. "He'll need the small box, marked and filled." He pointed at one. "That's a good one. We're doing anti-boil, anti-nausea, and anti-sleep, plus pepper up and the mild, safe pain potion." He handed over the list he had drawn up of what they'd need. "And I'll need what's on the back. Separately."
"Sure." She looked at him. "Do I know you?"
Greg shrugged. "Possibly." He watched as she walked off. "That'll be fairly cheap and helpful stuff first. That way if you don't have a feel for it, you haven't spent *tons* on it and if you have, you can build from them."
"Okay." He looked around, then back at him. "Will I need special ventilation?"
"No. I used to brew on top of a gas stove in my old place. There's not much at the beginner levels that stinks too much." The woman came back and he checked everything, handing her one of the drawers. "That's bear testicles, not deer." She looked stunned and he looked at her. "I am a Master. I'm Snape's former apprentice." She went to correct that, coming back with the container. He nodded and she refilled that drawer after cleaning it. His things were gathered and put into bags. He paid for his, David got his, and they headed back to Greg's house. "Night, get us some iced tea," he called as he walked in. "We're going to work on the back porch." He walked David out there, going to help him. "Bring a good knife too." Night brought out a tray with a pitcher, a clean wooden spoon, two knives, and two glasses. Then he disappeared again. Greg sat everything up on the stone picnic table, looking at David. "Got the book?" He pulled it out of his backpack. "Good. Turn to page 3. That should be the anti-boil potion. You'll want to chop on the tray."
David settled things out and slowly got to work. "What's the difference between chop and mince?"
"The same as it is in cooking. Mince means a really fine chop. Chop just means cut up. This stuff'll soften so you don't have to be quite as fine. When it's done you strain out the big pieces. I usually use a stick blender after that, just in case something chunky got in there." David nodded, going back to it. "Do you cook?"
"I can cook. I don't cook a lot. It's a pain in the ass to cook for just myself."
"It is," Greg agreed. "I lived on fast food for the most part."
"I noticed. Some days you used to come in smelling like old grease." Emilia came out, giving them an odd look. "I asked him to teach me," he offered.
"And we think this is a good idea?"
"Sev said it was fine," Greg assured her, working on something of his own. "I wasn't sure so I asked him. We're doing anti-boil right now. You can sit and help."
She kissed him and hugged David. "He's a mean teacher, David, but don't lose hope. He used to ride me all the time when he was tutoring me. Blair was nearly as bad." She sat next to her mate, watching him prepare the stuff he was doing. "We're out of gold?"
"No, but I was going to try the newest stone tonight."
"Cool. I'm looking forward to the happy sex later to celebrate." She stole another kiss with a smile. "Don't you have to do that right before you put it in?"
"No, this is for some fever meds. It's time for the sniffles and sneezes to start." She hugged him, resting her head on his shoulder. He smiled as she fell asleep, grinning at David. "Put in the next one." He looked down and dropped in the next ingredient. "Stir anti- clockwise."
David glanced at him and started to stir, reading ahead. He checked his watch and added the next one after five minutes, like it said.
Alex looked at the boys once they were alone. Severus had been forced back to the school but he could come back this weekend. "Okay, we're going to start the lessons today," he decided. Draco moaned as he put down his book. "You can come back to it." He stood up, nodding outside. "Come on. Outside. Someone go cast a warming charm on the snow." Ron went out to do that. Harry and Draco followed and Alex grabbed a bag of marbles. That was an advanced lesson but he might get to it today. Ron had created a big enough circle of warmth for all of them. Alex sat down, and the boys gave him long stares so he pointed. "Down." They sat, Ron leaning back on his elbows, Draco leaning forward to rest on his knees, Harry slumping. "It's not that bad. This is a skill that'll make your lives richer, fuller, and happier. Draco, you've already seen some of this. The upper levels are moon dark." Draco looked more interested in that. "Long ago, there were Druids. They had sensing abilities for the earth. What you have in sensing mazes, they have for sensing the earth, the sky, the trees. Now when you work in a tomb or a cave, that's really handy. It means you won't get caved in."
They all nodded and even Ron looked interested. "The major thing they learned was that it wasn't just them, that all wizards have it. Those of us with it feel things that most people decided to ignore when we were children. That's why this is part of the moon revels some of us do. Many of us revel at the full moon. That feeling of fulfillment and joy that the promise has been fulfilled. Some of us, and usually those of us more powerful and especially in this family, feel moon dark. The night the moon and time stops and then restarts. I've already shown Draco that, and he'll be learning the rest with you. The way you sense the earth is the same way you used sensing in that maze at the school. Only now you're sensing things that surround you. Harry, when you did the maze the first time, you tapped into it. That feeling of heaviness around you was sensing the air. You can use that to tell if gas is present. Now, close your eyes and concentrate those sensing abilities. In the warming circle you should feel a touch of wrongness, like the earth's confused."
Draco sat up a bit straighter and tipped his head to the side, then looked at his mate. "I felt a tingly feeling."
"Those are the wards. You're sensing the magic of the area. That's part of the veela gifts."
Draco nodded and went back to it, then laid a hand on Alex's, linking with him so he could feel it. "Is that the magic? It doesn't feel the same."
"It is. Remember those exercises we did at Hogwarts? Where you saw the shields?" He nodded. "This is the same thing only great-great-grandfather pulled up the ambient magic in the area to help with the charms. What you've got there is pure magic, Draco," he said gently. "The full earth magic. Let that go slowly, coming back toward me." He could feel Draco's hold on the magic slowly release and realized when he got it because he giggled. "That's the earth. Let me guess, you can see the former horses playing with the great uncle who was a pirate?"
"Yes! That's so cute!" he said, sitting up straighter. "What are they doing?"
"As far as I know, my old stallion is teasing him by offering a ride and then trotting off. I've never really figured that out."
Harry frowned a bit. "I can't sense anything but the air."
"I can sense something really solid, but it's numbing my ass," Ron offered.
Alex grinned and linked with them, showing them where it was. They both suddenly smiled. "That's how you sense the earth. Now, come back and then try again. The more in tune you are, the clearer pictures you'll see. With the family's gifts, I can walk through a cemetery and see the people having tea on and around the graves."
Harry relaxed and let it go again, finding it this time by himself. He pulled back and frowned. "Something really doesn't feel right, Alex. It's like it's twisting my guts."
"Some people get that," Alex admitted. "They don't have the full sensing gift."
"Does purity matter?" Draco asked.
"No. Usually it's a matter of power and concentration. Now, some people do have other elements instead of earth. Harry might be able to only sense the air. Some people are like that. That won't matter in the later lessons but he won't be reveling with us on the moon dark." A clue dinged in his head and suddenly he knew the answer to a long-held mystery.
"Like Severus does," Draco said. Alex nodded. "Okay. What about Weasley?"
"Ron!" Alex called in a sing-song voice. Ron gave a drugged-sounding grunt. "Ah. He's hit the power lake under the castle." He pinched him and Ron woke up, shaking his head. "That's a pool of power. You turn into a puddle of goo when you dwell in those."
"Okay." He rubbed his forehead. "It was like fairy wine." Charley had given him and Bill some for Christmas after being a few jugs for saving a higher ranking fairy from a dragon.
"Yup," Alex said, nodding a bit. "The only time I ever had to save Bill that wasn't a natural disaster, like a cave in, was when he got caught in a pool of power in a tomb. He was laying on the floor of the tomb giggling at the pretty colors and slowly being eaten by some creatures in there and there was a living mummy standing over him."
"Those are movies," Harry told him.
Alex shook his head. "No that means that there's magic animating the body, like a long- dead, well preserved zombie. They had one in Vegas in those tombs out there. Some of those are traps. Sometimes it's the ambient magic left in the body acting for protection of the body, like a baby's accidental magic when they're about to be hurt. Sometimes it's someone who was playing with necromancy. I've run into eight now. They're killed the same way as zombies. You cut off their heads." The boys nodded at that. "It's basically the same spell as the zombification spell that's done on animals for traps if that helps any. Now, back to the lesson, if you're strong enough in the right areas, you can actually make the earth help you temporarily."
"Like that ramp you created during the trip to the caves," Ron said. Alex nodded. "Wow. Are we gonna learn that?"
"I'm going to teach you however much I can, Ron. That's really a higher level of it. If you've got it in you, then yes. If you don't, then there's no chance it'll happen." They all nodded at that. "We'll finish on the moon phase exercise since tonight in moon dark and Draco and I will be reveling. Draco gave him a shy smile for that. "You'll like the grove, Draco." That got a nod. "Good. Let's get back to work. Harry, I know it's hard but try and then try with the air." Harry nodded, accepting that.
Ron and Harry watched and felt Draco and Alex going to revel, and now they knew what they were doing. If they closed their eyes they could see what was going on. Alex had given them the book with that spell so they could find out if they were ones who would be reveling. "Do you feel anything?" he asked Harry.
"Only really embarrassed. I already knew enough about how my uncle had sex." He turned off the spell. "I don't need to see them dance." He looked at his best friend. "Do you feel anything?"
"No but most of my family likes the full moon. The light, the twinkling of the stars. Mum and Dad sit outside most months and just swing on the porch. Maybe they played and reveled in their youth but they're really old now and I don't want to think about that."
"Me either," Harry decided, shaking his head. "Maybe you should write Bill. Alex said you could connect with anyone else who was reveling. Draco said something about finding out that Severus was his son that way."
"What happens if you're not on the same schedule as your mate?"
"Then they can either help or you can party alone, I guess," Harry offered. "Maybe they're not all sexual."
"The book he gave us said it wasn't. That the full moon was usually more of a party because more wizards liked the full moon. First stage was usually a girlish thing, usually for younger girls. Last phase was usually for people like all your aunts, maiden crones. It said most males like the full moon most, but it did mention the clan as liking and understanding moon dark." He looked toward the grove and restarted the spell, making Harry do it since it took both of them. They could feel the satisfaction and the peace flowing from them. The dancing looked funny but then Alex took Draco into his arms and it became more primal. Both boys blushed and canceled it when they realized where it was going. "We need to bring Dawn up here to help her find hers," Ron decided.
"She's a first stage," Harry said quietly. "She's still very young. Her body's only a few years old, Ron." He looked at him, they were leaning on a windowsill to watch outside. "She's always felt the pregnant pause before a spell takes hold."
"Then what about you, Harry?"
"I...I think I am too," he admitted finally. "It just feels right. That's usually when the nightmares are the lightest and when I get hurt less in flying accidents. Is there anything in there about air sensing?" Ron nodded, handing over the book. He searched in the index and opened it, smiling at it. "Yeah, here. Air sensing is just off the normal path, like a twist to the right basically, and that means we like the pregnant pause or the birth feeling at the end of the month. So either first phase or moon dark and since I don't like tonight...." He closed the book and handed it back. "I promise, Ron. If I revel with Dawn, it won't be sexual."
"That's fine, Harry. I trust you because I know I can kill you in your sleep."
Harry grinned and punched him on the arm. "Thanks, Ron." They went back to their room. It was late and they didn't want to feel the magic stop and those two out there have sex.
About a week later, Dawn walked down to the dungeons. She could feel the desire to go outside and she wasn't sure what was going on. She tapped on the classroom door, getting a sour look. "Sir, I'm feeling this deep seated urge to go dance and sing."
He blinked a few times. "I don't think that's something I can help you with."
"Yes you can, you and Holly go out and do the same thing every month."
"Ah! That urge. That deep pull?" She frowned and nodded. "Very well. Do you know where the grotto is?"
"No, I don't. That's why I came down."
"Very well. Follow me." He walked her out, finding her cohorts waiting on her. "Miss Weasley? Tonight?"
"No. My family's more in touch with the full moon. I was going to guard her with Luna, Professor."
"There's no need. She'll be perfectly safe." He walked her outside, going past Hagrid since he was walking Fang around. Dawn stopped to play with him for a moment then followed him out into the forest. He showed her to his glade, letting her into the protections he had cast on it when he had been in school. She walked in and he could tell she was already gone, but he could feel power coming in and watched as Potter walked in with her. "Really?" he called. "Isn't she taken, Mr. Potter."
"It's not sexual, Snape. Not between us. That'd be like me taking Ginny." He looked at her and smiled. "Alex just showed us how," he offered. She nodded and took his hand, dancing with him.
Severus put back up the protections and went back to his classroom. They would be more than safe. If they did copulate, he was sure he'd hear about it later, whether he wanted to or not. The headmaster met him at the doorway. "Miss Summers found her phase."
"Ah. I remember that feeling," he offered with a small smile. "As I'm sure you do. Was that Harry?" He nodded. "That could cause problems."
"He thinks of her like a sister, Albus. I doubt there'll be those sort of problems." He went back down to the dungeons and his detention. The other parts of the trio were down there and he raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know I put you two in detention."
"You didn't," Ginny assured him. "Luna doesn't have you anymore anyway." She slid off the desk she was sitting on. "Is she all right?"
"She's fine. She's well protected, even from the forest itself."
"Good. Then can you tell us what's going on?" Luna asked.
Snape looked at her. "You've never felt the call to revel at the moon?"
"No. Never. I really don't understand what it's about. Yes she's powerful, but why revel?"
"Because for some, the urge overcomes all other considerations," Armwrench said from the doorway. "She's in your glade?" He nodded. "Good. She and Harry will be fine together. Nothing should happen. Tonight is a night of celebrating accomplishments and joy in the upcoming prosperity." He looked at the girls. "Some people feel this urge very strongly, ladies. Some people do not feel it at all. Alex's family all feel moon dark. I'm guessing that Harry has air sense instead of earth sense?" Severus nodded that he was right. "Which is interesting. I felt Ronald touch the pool of power under the ancestral home. I also felt Methos have a spontaneous orgasm when he saw the library. I noticed Philip's still mumbling about something he's reading every spare moment he has."
"Why would you be that happy in a library?" one third year asked from her scrubbing the back floor.
"Because living as long as he has takes knowledge, young lady. You can ask him that question or if you think even the tiniest bit you'll understand." He looked at Severus. "I could use a good scrubbing."
"We'd offer but you know you don't like girls," Ginny taunted with a smug look.
"Take this conversation out of my classroom," Snape ordered. "I do have young and impressionable children in here."
"Yes, sir. Thank you for helping Dawnie, sir." They led their favorite teacher out.
"Miss Lovegood, that is not humanly possible!" he called from the hallway.
Snape laughed. He was sure those three gave him as many nightmares as they did the rest of the school.
Ron brought the two celebrants breakfast, laying it out beside where they were napping together. He had seen what was going on and he wasn't upset or anything. A few innocent kisses was nothing and he wouldn't get upset over it. He coughed really loudly at the soft moan from Dawn. "Brekkie," he called.
Dawn lifted her head, giving him a long stare. "Oh, shit," she said softly.
He smirked a bit. "I already know, Dawn. I did the spell to watch you guys to see if you needed protecting since you were both so involved. I know you're not going to jump Harry. Come eat. Potter!" Harry rolled onto his back and slowly sat up, holding his head. "Draco said his first revel was like fairy wine for the senses."
"It is," Harry agreed, shifting over to get something to clear his head. "Sorry, Ron."
"Harry, it was only a few kisses. I'm not mad. You were reveling and I wasn't here. I know you wouldn't have slept with her. Next month, I'll be here and she can link me in. I talked to mum last night, most of the family just basks on the full moon, feeling happy and free."
"I'll find out how to link you in, Ron," she agreed, giving him a gentle kiss. "You're sure you're not mad?"
"If you hadn't been revel-drugged, I would be, but he stopped you and I trust you." She nodded, resting her head on his shoulder, letting out a small yawn. "You still have classes today."
Harry chuckled. "So do we, Dawn. We're doing advanced sensing lessons. You and Snape are coming up this weekend and for the next few to get your own versions."
"We can't do it here?"
"There the magic's still pure," Ron pointed out. "Here, you could be ambushed by a pocket of dark magic or even a hex by someone. I'd rather have you learn where it's safe and then let you practice here once you've learned."
"Fine. Not like I mind getting sprung. I swear, some days it's like a jail."
He stroked her back. "I know. It'll be fine. Just a few more years." She nodded, letting out another little yawn. He felt something coming nearer and looked up. The wards flashed and raised. "Who is it?" he called.
"Me," the headmaster said as he walked out of the trees. "Harry, I thought I felt you. May I enter?"
"This one time. I can't grant you access to Severus' wards."
"That's fine, I understand." He walked in and smiled at Dawn. "You're missing your first class, young lady."
"Yay," she said dryly, looking at him. "Headmaster, I suck at potions. We all know I suck at potions. Alex said I could copy off someone's work in potions if I wanted since I suck so bad at potions."
"They're doing one of their practical potions lessons."
"I knew that and I've already learned contraception," she noted dryly. "Professor Snape made sure of it when Professor Armwrench found out I was screwing mine up." He shuddered at that. "He took me aside one night to teach me how to do two of them and combine them so there's no chance of me getting pregnant this year. Fortunately, some of the other girls are also needing it so I'm making a bit of pocket change now and then," she finished dryly.
"Still, you should attend classes."
"Let me eat first," she complained. She lifted her head and looked at Ron. "What lessons?"
"The sensing lessons," he said with a grin. "There's a great maze under the dungeons to practice in at night."
"Cool." She poured herself some coffee and dished out some food for each of them then dug in. She was starved! "Will it be like this every month?"
"Only if you let it. You might feel the need to get outside that night, but you don't have to always revel," Harry offered. "I asked Alex. He said he lets his control go at moon dark, that it purifies and reenergizes him. Draco goes so he can party with him and because it makes him feel peaceful and calm, loved even." He ate a bite of biscuit. "Want one, sir?"
"No, that's all right, Harry. I just need to make sure Miss Summers attends classes today. Otherwise she will start having to do detentions."
Dawn looked at him. "It's not like I could help it. Armwrench showed me moon dark that time but it wasn't like this. This sang in my blood, I had to get out of there and come out."
"As it often is when that sense is awakened," he agreed. "I usually stay up moon dark night. The power calls out to me to stand vigil."
She nodded. "So, see, I couldn't really help it and I wore myself out dancing."
"I understand but you still must attend classes today."
"I will, once I've eaten and cleaned up. I refuse to go to class all nasty and skanky."
"Very well." He left, going back to the castle.
She snorted once the wards had went back to their relaxed state, meaning he was well gone. "I've been getting a lot more of that recently."
"I remember that feeling," Harry said, looking at Ron. "Don't you?"
"Yeah, right about fifth year," he said dryly, smirking back. He looked at Dawn, then at Harry. "She's the school's protector, but really."
"No, Ginny's the school's protector," Dawn corrected. "I'll be when she's gone."
"Did Ginny pass anything first term?" Ron asked. She shook her head. "So she'll be here next year?"
"Oh, yeah. Luna's already told her father she's flunking this year to stay with us. From what she said, he was not amused, but he understood. As long as she did it subtly. She won't be eighteen until next October anyway so he said it was probably safer."
"Is the dark lord coming back *again*?" Harry asked.
"No. They're not worried about that. Her dad's got to head overseas to buy a new newspaper and run it for a bit. He didn't want her in the house alone. She forgets to wear clothes and he said he didn't want a floo call from Wesley about her being pregnant."
"No, that's probably not a thing any of us want," Ron agreed, shaking his head quickly. "I'd hate to see those kids. Oooh, Ma," he said, going into falsetto, "look at the pretty demons. Can I play with them even though they're eating people? Da would be so proud."
Dawn snickered and kissed him. "Wes's kids are going to be book nerds," she promised. "Any kid of Ethan's will be a hellion and a book nerd. We'll survive." He nodded, hugging her against him. "Can't I run away and go shoe shopping?"
"Nope," Ron said, kissing her on the forehead. "We made it through while fighting shadowy battles each year while the adults tried to get in our way or force ideas onto us that they wanted us to know without telling us everything we needed to know. You can do it without that. You can go shoe shopping when we drag you home for a bit." He stole another kiss. "I'll even let you buy a new pair of boots."
She squealed and hugged him before digging in again, since she had to go.
Alex looked up as his office door opened, raising an eyebrow at the person standing there. "How did you get here?"
"I asked my sister-in-law to set the floo so I couldn't hear and then came through," Percy noted, closing the study door behind him. "There's some things you're not keeping up with, Alex. Two things really. One, mum's pissed that Ron didn't make it home for the holidays. He went to see her today and explained it, but she's still mad at you. Called you an inconsiderate child and the reason why Bill doesn't write often enough or settle down." Alex smirked a bit at that and shrugged. "She may forgive you soon but the other thing is a bit more serious. There's a push to get Dumbledore out of office."
"Which I wholly support. There's been some things that have always nagged me about Albus Dumbledore."
"Such as the curse that got me wasn't dark magic, it was very light magic. Magic that was drawn during the full moon from Stonehenge." Percy looked confused. "I saw the radiance of it afterward, it blinded me for hours. It was pure, ancient magic. I'm very familiar with the native magics around here and it was Stonehenge's magic."
"Is that the only reason?"
"After I was deaged, about a year after *he* put me in Sunnydale with the two drunks, who were drunks at that time as well, and he had blocked off my powers on purpose, there was a sudden, inexplicable lightening attack on the house that destroyed the other manor." Percy nodded, he knew that. "But it had been ransacked first. The anti-theft spells brought a lot of stuff from Hogwarts and if I went and opened up a few hidden chambers in there I'd probably find even more of the family's possessions. Plus, after that one attack where everyone was laid out, I thought it odd he was trying to remove my mate, my bonded-at-that-time-mate who would have went insane and driven everyone else in that school off the deep end too, my nephew Harry, and Ron from my custody."
"Circumstantial but very telling," Percy noted. "Why do you think he laid the spell?"
"A few things really. First because he knew Harry had air sensing magics and his innate gifts would create a shield to protect him. That's the only way that curse could have been fended off without it ricocheting around the house and hitting everyone else when done by a baby. I know he knew because I found Lily's diary in the stuff that got saved from Hogwarts's back corridors." He sat up, looking at him. "I was deaged about six months after Harry survived. Why didn't he bring me the baby and claimed Petunia was the *only* relative? He knew Lily was my family. Lily's diary said he knew. He told her she was from a line of squibs instead of muggle born." Percy shivered at that. "So, no, he knew. There were a good few aunts still alive at that time. Aunt Nadia and Aunt Cordy were both still alive. They weren't resurrected. By rights, Harry should have come to us first and then Petunia since her attitudes were so well known."
"So you believe he did this to keep you here?"
"Draco thinks he knew he'd need a strong warrior later on and cursed me to get it. He knows he used Harry shamelessly. Harry's treatment speaks greatly of mental conditioning. Of course he'd do anything for the first people to show him love and affection after that abuse, it's classic psychology."
Percy nodded. "That's what prompted this current thought to remove him from office." He licked his lips and glanced around, then back at him. "Would you back us up, politically, if we did so is the real question. Openly if necessary?"
"Yes. As long as we get rid of Fudge at the same time."
Percy smiled. "He's gone and come back once. We should be able to do that. Do you have any good suggestions for headmaster?"
"Philip Callahan. He's worked in muggle schools and magical schools both. He's got a good feel for both sides of the equation. He's a former priest. He was trained at Hogwarts. The teacher he's filling in for will be back next year. Why not McGonagall?"
"Because she refused to see him gone," he said quietly. Someone pounded on the door and he moved, letting Harry in. "Sorry. Something important?"
"A bit. I've been eavesdropping. You might want to talk to Dawn. He's been treating her like he did me. He came out this morning to gently remind her she had to go to classes, suggested she leave right then and head to potions immediately without eating." He grinned at his uncle. "Ron promised her a few hours shoe shopping during the weekend off for lessons."
"Sure. Not an issue with me." He looked at Percy. "The next couple of years, Dawn is one of the school's guardians. You tell me."
Percy nodded. "I'll bring this back to my boss. Any idea who you'd like in Fudge's place?"
"A trained chimp would do better," Harry said dryly. "A flobber worm would do better than Fudge."
Percy smiled. "We've often wondered if he wasn't one changed to human with the lack of spine he has." He nodded at Alex. "Thank you for your information and indulgence."
"Not a problem." He watched as Percy left and looked at his nephew. "Is Dawnie okay?"
"Just fine. A bit pissed but fine." That got a small smile. "How about you?"
"I'm good. Can we hold a party for that?" Harry laughed and walked off shaking his head. "Tell the old man!"
"I'm going to do that now, Alex. He'll dance and sing." All the family hated Dumbledore for the way he had treated him. The portraits would be having a party later tonight.
Philip looked up as his classroom door opened and Dawn nodded behind her. "I'm on errand duty and you've got a visitor in the front hall, Professor."
"That's fine, Miss Summers. I'll be right there." She nodded and left, closing the door behind her. "You lot read and study. I'll be right back. If I'm not back by the end of class, read the next chapter, do the exercises at the end, I'm taking them up next class." He left, going to see what was going on. He found someone in a really ugly suit which screamed 'government' to him. "Hello."
The man smiled and pulled out his ID case. "Professor Callahan, I'm Timit DeWinters with the Ministry. We need to talk to you about something going on in the building."
"Something dark or otherwise?"
"Otherwise," he admitted. "May we walk?"
"I've got a class after this. Can it wait three periods for lunch?"
"Sure. I'll meet you on the path just past the barrier, shall I?"
"That'd be fine," he agreed, looking a bit curious. That meant someone didn't want Dumbledore able to hear what was going on. "Is it a problem?"
"Not for you, we think." He grinned. "I'll see you then, Professor. Thank you." He left, going to have a bit of a drink and a browse around. It's not often he got to browse on work hours. Philip was waiting when he got back there, making him smile. "Good. Walk with me, Professor." Philip joined him and they walked back toward town a ways, just in case any eavesdropping charms had been cast. He saw the teacher cast a counter and sat down on a set of nearby stones the students rested on if they were tired. "There's a push in the Ministry to remove Albus Dumbledore from Hogwarts," he said quietly, looking very serious. "We have evidence to believe he has done grave misconduct to some of the students, including one Harry Potter regarding his treatment of him. We've convened a special hearing panel to hear the charges against him and you're going to be called to testify. Alex Dumass already has."
"I didn't agree with where he put the boy either, but she was his only family."
"Dumass was deaged six months after Harry survived. I doubt if he had been given the baby he would have been in that cave, even though he hates children and would have left it to his aunts,," he noted softly. Philip looked stunned. "Plus there's things about a lightening attack on the current manor house?" Philip nodded that was true, he'd heard about that. "You're a former priest and you've been teaching for a very long time, even among the muggles you'd learn stuff about abuse and watching motives of those around you I figure." Philip relaxed and nodded. "We'll need you to contact some of the others in your group of friends who might have information."
"You need to talk to Severus Snape," he said quietly. "He was a spy for him for years. He's been here since he was nineteen."
"He's being called later this afternoon. You're the last to be called. We need to know if we have to allot time to others from your group."
Philip rolled up his sleeve and touched his Bane tattoo, sending that over the linkage they all wore. Alex told him what sort of questions he had been asked and what he had freely told them. Snape asked when he was being called and Philip told him. Then Alex said a nice thing and Philip looked at him. "I'm up for headmaster?" he asked, looking horrified. "Of this madhouse?"
The official laughed and nodded. "You are one of three being considered. There's two seriously under consideration."
"But still! I'd have no life! I'd never get to travel. I'd never get to study anything."
"You would. That's why there's holidays. The Ministry looked into your records at your past teaching jobs. You're a beloved teacher by many. You're a protector, Philip. You're also very good at the job. You know children, you know the differences they'd have coming in and going out. Most of us think you're the better choice of the three. One's only a pipe dream. One's a decent enough choice but he'd be just as horrified. It'll come down to two of you working together. Him in the lead and you following or you in the lead and him following."
"Who? Not Snape?"
"No, not Severus Snape. He was suggested but it was felt he'd have too much to do with his upcoming first child. Besides, he's a bit...partial to his own house instead of the impartiality we need. We want someone who can support all houses, not just their own."
"She wanted to keep the old codger."
"Ah." He nodded, understanding that political sidestep. "Who?"
Philip considered it then shuddered. "I want to be in the room when you tell 'im," he said. "Just to take a picture of his face and to take his sword from him."
"We'd appreciate that," he offered with a grin. He handed over a small bag. "I got you lunch since I'm taking up most of it."
"Thank ya." He tucked it into his pocket. "I've got a test after this, I'll eat then." That got a smile. "When you need me, call, but I'm not so sure this panel isn't wrong in the head for wanting us to be running this insanity."
"Eh, it takes some insanity to understand it, but it also takes a clear understanding of both paths that could be taken and all the ways the students can torture and block themselves off from a bright future." He stood up. "You're good at that."
"I may be, but I'm not crazy enough to run this joint."
"We'll see," he offered with a smile. "Thank you, Philip. Have a good test." He walked off whistling.
Philip went back to the school, shaking his head quickly at the thoughts he was having. He didn't know which was more wrong, him or Methos running this place. He ran into the old coot in the entryway and looked at him. "Have you been called yet?"
"I have sent an owl saying I'd like to be called. I imagine it's finding your little friend down there. There's a few other names on it as well." He stepped closer. "Who do they want?"
"Us. One of us." He looked horrified. "That's my feeling. The other would be second."
"I'd bloody well run," Methos said dryly. He walked off. "I'm off to class. I got your test started and they're probably cheating by now."
"Not if they know what's good for 'em," he said as he headed back to his classroom. He did find a few cheating and they got expelled and sent to the office, but he got to sit down and eat his lunch while he thought.