The almost dilapidated room at Wilkshire was suddenly ablaze with a wild wave of energy as an energy portal appeared out of nowhere and down fell a brown-haired woman on the hard wooden floor. The planks groaned, accompanying the sudden thud, and that was enough to scare some of the rats that went scurrying away from the room. The woman picked herself up somehow, but unfortunately, her strength gave away as she dropped down again, her consciousness fading off.
An hour passed before mild movements began and after a couple of minutes, Hermione Granger returned to consciousness. Pulling herself up, not an easy task considering how every bone in her lithe body was groaning in pain; she was able to take some support from the rickety old chair next to her. Standing up successfully, she landed herself gently on the shredded mattress that lay on the wooden bed. Wondering not for the first time why she had chosen such a place for a contingency plan, she shook her head in confusion. The memories of the events slowly returning to her, she could not help but feel elated and worried at the same time. Elated because of the thrill she had experienced while facing those hooded fighters, and worried because of the deadly skill and magical prowess of those fighters.
Especially the one she was fighting.
The man, around six feet all, hooded and wearing those gray robes, and frighteningly quick with a wand. Hermione was lucky that she had decided to go for a glamour, assuring that no one would be able to recognize her. Nevertheless, that man, his prowess scared her. It had taken her ritual after ritual along with strenuous training in all kinds of forbidden knowledge to get where she was right now. But that man, he was still able to best her. Borgin would not be happy to know that the deal was botched.
She would have to somehow manipulate Borgin and make him give her more missions. It was her bread and butter after all.
"I can't believe that after five successful missions, the sixth one would get doomed in failure." She muttered to herself. Packing her baggage, she opened up another energy portal and vanished away.
It was only after twenty minutes that rats began to scurry across the room again.
"So let me get this straight. You went on your first Unspeakable Mission and faced an Illusionist?" Salazar questioned a rather irate teen in front of him.
"Yes." Harry gritted his teeth. "And she was good. Very good. Her Occlumency shields were... unnaturally powerful, and she seemed to be decent with a wand as well. Whatever her shortcomings were with a wand, the power behind her attacks was enough to balance for it."
"Unnaturally powerful?" Salazar questioned.
"Yes. I had sent a Legilimency foray that straight away blasted through her shields. Then, a second pair of shields rose out of nowhere and deflected my attack away. It was strange." Harry explained. His eyes went up to his mentor's face, which had turned uncharacteristically pale.
"Sec- second pair of shields?"
"Yes, what is so scary about it?" Harry queried his face adopting a distasteful expression.
"My father, Erebus Slytherin also had such shields. It was simply undefeatable. Even the dark lord Orion was unable to pass through them."
"Excuse me, what?"
Salazar smirked. "Even the dark lord Orion was unable to pass through my father's shields. His shields were simply, unbreakable."
"There is no such thing such as unbreakable. You yourself taught me that." Harry countered.
"And have I taught you about Occlumency shielding?" Salazar countered back.
"Occlumency shields are different from normal shields. A normal shield takes the attack at face value. An Occlumency shield is opposite. It takes an attack and disperses it throughout itself. Until the attack is powerful enough to disperse the entire shield in one go, the shield hold on." Harry repeated automatically.
"Correct. Now would you agree that every Occlumency shield, no matter the wizard has its own threshold value, which remains constant? An energy value to the limit of which it can hold back Legilimency attacks?"
"Now think of a shield which has the ability to dip into the Legilimency attack itself, and repair itself. In essence, what the shield does is simply-"
"Reflecting the Legilimency attack itself without sparing any energy at all." Harry finished from him, his face horrified at the revelation.
"Is that even possible?"
"It is. You yourself saw it firsthand."
"But... but how?"
Salazar let out a deep sigh. "My father created a ritual from scratch and added it to the book he created later on in his life. The Secrets of the Darkest Art. Orion believed that the unnatural shields were a result of some obscure ritual."
"So, that means the woman must have - hang on! You mean to say, that woman was...Hermione?"
Albus Dumbledore was defeated. He knew it. His enemies knew it. His friends knew it. Harry Potter knew it. He had ignored everyone's advice and employed a man despite knowing that he was a death-eater. All of his friends and colleagues were against his decision but Albus had been adamant about it. He had been arrogant enough to believe that no one was looking at the greater picture. Thus, he had hired Severus Snape.
A knock came on the office door.
Albus sighed. He had dillydallied long enough. It was time to face the consequences at face value.
Minerva Mcgonagall and Filius Flitwick entered the office. The veteran old Scott and the half-goblin wore weary expressions and Albus could see a shadow of relief pass their faces when they had entered the office. He mused that it was because of the fact that he had opened the office door finally.
"Are you done hiding in your office, Albus?" Minerva asked coldly.
Albus did not answer. Minerva continued. "Ever since Snape was arrested by the Aurors, the school has been in a state of complete chaos. And the Headmaster himself is hiding in his little office."
"You cannot hate me more than myself. I have taken so many wrong decisions in my life so far, I cannot even begin to fathom them. To think that I hired such a... Abomination as a professor is... unforgivable." He looked up at the old Transfiguration professor. "Minerva, you have told me countless times about the way Severus had been bullying students over the years, but never did I take your concerns seriously. For what it is worth, I am sorry."
"You can get your forgiveness later on Albus. For the moment, we need the Headmaster back. So get your sorry arse out of that chair and tackle the situation," the old professor continued with her face straight and doing her best to ignore the sharp looks of surprise Filius was giving her. "I am calling the entire school to the Great Hall. Bring yourself there. I am calling in the rest of the staff." Looking at Filius, she nodded.
"I better go inform my Claws." Filius added, as the duo left the office.
The Hall was swarming with people. It was the first time that the entire student and staff attended in the Great Hall, apart from the time of the Feasts. Every student was there, sitting in his or her respective houses. Harry had joined Neville and joined the Gryffindor table, while Daphne and the rest of the group sat in their table. Susan was still absent, and to be honest, Harry could not care less about her.
Minerva Mcgonagall walked up in the center of the room, right in front of the staff table, facing the students. Her wand quickly up to cast a Sonorous, she began. "As is my power as the Deputy Headmistress of this institution, I have called for this compulsory meeting to put an end to the ongoing chaotic scenario at Hogwarts. I have a few things to say but before everything else, I believe our esteemed Headmaster has a few words."
Harry looked up in surprise to find the old Headmaster stand up from his chair.
So, he did come out of his office, finally.
"Students, it is a grave event that Hogwarts has faced recently, and as Headmaster, I believe that I am to be held responsible for the events." He looked up at the surprised faces of his fellow colleagues but continued, "It was my lack of foresight that I hired someone like Severus Snape for the post of potions master for these hallowed halls. I know that he had a history of bullying non-Slytherins and I also accept that I have been... lax in curbing his behavior."
Mcgonagall rolled her eyes. Lax? Albus had totally ignored her when she had raised issues against Snape all these years. Albus Dumbledore continued, "As my colleagues have pointed it out as well, I believe I should pay for my shortcomings. Hence, effectively immediately, I am resigning from my post as Headmaster at Hogwarts-" the great Hall had sunk into sounds of anxious whispers- Dumbledore continued, "And I am voting Minerva Mcgonagall as the next Headmistress of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
Minerva Mcgonagall was shocked. She had never expected this coming. For Albus Dumbledore to say all of that- it was simply inexplicable. She stood up, and tried to counter, but the words refused to come up from her mouth. She just stood, gaping at the turn of events.
"As for me, I believe it has been many decades since I retired myself from teaching, but given the circumstances, I believe I will be taking up the post of Transfiguration professor if the Headmistress will have my services." He glanced at Minerva who nodded subtly. Looking back towards the multitude of students, he bowed slightly and spoke, "Thank you all." He quickly stepped down and sat back in the staff table.
Harry was surprised. No scratch that, he was completely shocked. Albus Dumbledore had openly accepted his mistake and had stepped down as Headmaster to leave the position to Mcgonagall. It was ironic that in all the time he had known the Headmaster, this was the first time that the venerable wizard had shown himself as humane and prone to mistakes just like any other.
Harry looked up to see Mcgonagall standing beside him. Her face held an odd expression. "Yes, professor?"
"The Headmaster asked me to give you this." She replied, handing out a piece of parchment. Harry took it. It was a missive from the Headmaster, asking him to meet him in his office. Harry nodded at the soon-to-be Headmistress who gave a head jerk before leaving him with his friends.
"Excuse me, guys!" Harry apologized before skipping off to the Headmaster's office.
"Ah Harry, please come in." Dumbledore replied, the usual jolly nature absent in his voice.
"I got your note, professor." Harry intoned, keeping his tone mild, knowing that the Headmaster was very depressed due to the happenings. Dumbledore sat behind the desk, his hands folded with his chin resting on his fingers. "There are certain issues I need to talk with you about."
"I have taken a lot of time to think about what happened the other day, Harry, and I have come to one prime conclusion. Severus Snape acted under the effects of some kind of illusion and I believe that it was you that caused it."
Harry's face turned rigid and cold as he observed the Headmaster with narrowed eyes. "Still throwing stones in the dark, Headmaster?"
"No. This time I know what is ahead of me, and interestingly, I believe I should do two things. The first being thanking you and the next being asking your forgiveness."
"Whatever do you mean, Headmaster?"
"I need to thank you for your contribution in exposing my folly in hiring Severus as a professor all those years back, and I need to ask for your forgiveness because of my short-sightedness. Ever since you have ventured into the arcane arts, I have always treated you with suspicion. I now see that I was wrong."
Harry did not reply.
"You may go, Harry. And for what it is worth, I am indeed sorry for my behavior so far."
Harry nodded subtly, before turning around and leaving the office.
Two weeks later...
Fleur was the happiest person on earth. Not only had she enjoyed a whole day on a date with Harry, but also additionally, Daphne had officially invited her to spend the day with them. The trio had a load of fun in Hogsmeade. A light breakfast at the three Broomsticks had been followed by a enjoyable picnic near the Shrieking shack. The two girls had done their best to embarrass Harry by asking him to have lunch at Madam Puddifoots, and she would have to hand it over to the boy, that despite his embarrassment, Harry had been a perfect gentleman throughout the lunch. Considering how much Daphne had tried to embarrass him, Fleur felt that Harry deserved a bit of...consolation in return. The passionate moments she had spent kissing her friend had left him completely off-guard and the boy had a shit-eating grin on his face. Fleur had thought that Daphne would have been jealous and angry with her kissing Harry, but the girl had taken it all as good sport. The passionate snog Daphne had had with her betrothed for the next one hour might have had something to do with it. Overall, it was her most memorable day ever since coming to Hogwarts.
"Daphne?" she turned to face her nemesis-turned ally.
"You know what!"
"About you and Harry?"
Daphne mused for a moment. "Truth be told, I would love nothing more than having Harry all to myself for all eternity. However, I have seen how much happiness your presence gives him. I may be his betrothed, but you and he... you both connect on an entirely different level... something that Harry and I might never share..." Daphne almost shed a tear, "but nothing can be done about it. Harry is happy, and hence I am happy."
"Daphne, I-" Fleur tried, but words failed her.
"It's okay, I understand." Daphne smiled. Her inner struggle distinct in her eyes, "and I am truly happy. Besides, it's all for Harry, isn't it?"
Fleur nodded with a smile. "For Harry."
The second task for the Triwizard Tournament was approaching near. Now that January was almost at an end, Harry decided that he should concentrate enough for his second task. He had tried nearly almost everything. The egg simply gave out shrieks. He had tried applying spells on it, tried applying finite charms and a hell lot of other tricks. Now there was only one single thought that was left untried.
Trying to understand what the voices were trying to tell him.
I guess I should stop trying out things and get back to the old way of finding out stuff.
Three hours later in the library...
"I am an idiot, that's what I am!" Harry chastised himself, "to think that the answer was here all along." He looked back at the page in front of him.
Mermen are the most fantastic musicians and singers of the magical world. However, that said, the exquisite nature of their music can only be understood below water. Above water however, their music is converted magically into high frequency shrieks, which are comparable to the cry of a mandrake and quite enough to send a person into unconsciousness, or rather dumb if exposed for a longer duration.
"This is it. This must be it. The music of a merman, heard above water. I need to listen to it below water."
Ten minutes later, Harry sat alone in the Room of requirement, which had provided him with a decent sized pool inside it. Submerging the egg into the pool, he shed off his clothes and jumped into it after the egg. Deep inside the waters, he opened the lid, readying himself for another shriek. What he got instead was-
"Come seek us where our voices sound,
We cannot sing above the ground,
And while you're searching ponder this:
We've taken what you'll sorely miss,
An hour long you'll have to look,
And to recover what we took,
But past an hour — the prospect's black,
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back."
Harry got out of the water, his entire body drenched with one single thought swirling in his mind.
### Umm! Hi guys! Nice to be back uploading chapters of my very first story. Now I know this chapter is quite small, but I needed to finish the touch-ups for some points before beginning something worth a big chapter. Next chapter brings the second task to the stage. I hope this chapter will convince my readers that I have not abandoned my story.
Well that is all. Please enjoy and review. Something other than along the lines of- "Holy shit! Peverell has not abandoned this story!"