Chapter Thirteen: The First Weekend
Hogwarts, Scotland, September 2011
DANGER OF DEATH BLATANTLY ADVERTISED AT HOGWARTS THIS YEAR
These were the words that greeted Dumbledore when the first weekend of the school came. He could only look at the Daily Prophet in shock, wondering how they heard of this.
We all normally think of our illustrious school as a safe place with the occasional prankster that goes too far. However this year, the headmaster Albus Dumbledore himself stood before the entire student body at the welcoming feast and was quoted at saying students would face a painful death should they go near a prohibited corridor on the third floor. As this has never been said before, and no former student reached says otherwise, we can only assume that this is a recent development.
When asked, former students say they could not recall anything of value up on the third floor during their tenure aside from classrooms to practice for OWLs and NEWTs as well as a portion of school library. This can only mean that regardless of the headmaster's warnings, students will at some point have to go up to the third floor and risk coming across whatever is up there. Lest he actively prevent the students from preparing for the hardest tests to be taken this year.
The headmaster has clearly allowed something that is a threat to the students into the school. What could this be? Why is it there? And isn't it suspicious that he specifically waited to reveal this until after the sorting ceremony was completed? Thus forcing all new students to remain there for the year whether they're in danger or not? One has to wonder if the headmaster is actually trying to put the students in danger.
While on the matter, there is one more fact we'd like to point out. The Boy-Who-Lived, who makes it clear he wishes to go by the name Harry Wolf as opposed to Harry Potter, has started his first year here. We cannot confirm or deny anything, but isn't it too much of a coincidence that this death trap is brought to school at the same time the Boy-Who-Lived is? We suggest concerned parents write to the school staff and get the facts we cannot.
Dumbledore fumed and threw the paper in the trash. The Daily Prophet had again done what it did best, take some real facts out of context and leave it up to the reader's imagination to make the accusation that they could legally say they only speculated at, never actually made. And he had a good idea who gave them this information.
Leaving his office, he walked down the halls and politely greeted any students he encountered, saying he didn't have time to chat. After some time he got to the door to Fablewulf. "I need to enter."
"What's the password?" The Three Witches asked.
"It's an emergency. I need inside." He insisted. Being the headmaster, Dumbledore was the only one who could command the portraits to open on command rather than the conventional means. He normally didn't do it, but this would be an exception.
The Three Witches shook their heads. "No password, no luck. Even for staff."
Sighing, Dumbledore leaned against the opposing wall. "Then I'll wait for someone to exit." It was still early, before the scheduled breakfast so only the early risers would be up and about right now. It wouldn't be long until someone came out.
After a while, the painting moved and someone did come out, and fortunately it was exactly who Dumbledore wanted to see.
"Standing around outside student dorms makes you look like a stalker, you know that right?"
Dumbledore looked stern, in no mood for snide comments. "Miss Darling, did you go to the papers and tell them about the third floor?"
"Yes." She answered bluntly.
While not surprised at her answer, Dumbledore was not expecting her to be so shameless about admitting it. "Why would you do that? You're the one who said it was a bad idea for me to reveal that truth in the first place. So why tell the whole world?"
"Think about it this way Dumbly. Don't you think more than a few students could have written to their parents telling them what you said? Don't you think maybe a few frightened or concerned parents would have had a few things to say about it that could have gotten blown out of proportion?"
"So you instead act first? How does that accomplish anything different?"
"Well for one, it might accomplish the one thing I said you should be doing in the first place. Not hiding something here you know attracts thieves and terrorists."
Dumbledore blinked. "I don't understand. You said you were willing to cooperate with us on defending the stone."
"No, I said that if hiding it here was an absolute necessity then there were certain changes that needed to be made to your plans. After talking to you and finding out what the real purpose of your scheme is, you should consider yourself lucky that I'm not taking Harry back to New York right now."
Dumbledore blinked, trying not to show his worry. "Miss Darling-"
"The entire reason you brought the stone to this school was to show Harry that Voldemort is still a threat. And force him to stay here and fight him for you."
Dumbledore's eyes widened and he jolted back, looking like he had just been struck. "Wha.. how… how could you possibly know?"
Wendy smirked. "I'm the Fourth Wall, I can see reality in a way that would utterly destroy your mind. I saw when Snow White took you to Ground Zero, I saw when you had to deal with Snape after the goblins and trolls threw him in the lake, and I saw what you were thinking when I was pulling apart your half-baked security system."
The old wizard looked rightfully worried. "What do you want?"
"For you to do your job without putting your personal agenda first. This school is just that, a school. Not a vault or temple. Your first responsibility is to make sure that the students here learn and grow in safety. Actually trying to lure criminals here is counteractive to that responsibility to say the least."
"And announcing to the whole country that a relic is being hidden isn't?" The old wizard challenged.
Wendy grinned. "I didn't say what was up on the third floor did I? All I said was that you told the entire student body that they'd die if they went up to the third floor. All the country knows is that something lethal is up there, not that it's there to protect anything. That's for you to clarify, though I'd expect more questions about what it is you're hiding up there and whether or not you have the right to put kid's lives in danger to do it."
"The children are not in danger." Dumbledore insisted.
"As long as they don't go up there and no one tries to get what you're hiding. And let me point out that when you explained your 'master plan' to hide the stone, you overlooked the part where you need to pay attention to your alarms before they're triggered. So if a kid did go up there, you wouldn't have known until it was too late. And you would have had to explain to some grieving parents and an angry newspaper about how you let a child die here. So tell me, what's to stop any kids from going up there?"
"They'd be punished if caught."
Wendy laughed and slapped a knee. "You serious? Oh you're fucking ridiculous you know that? You honestly believe that if the threat of a painful death doesn't scare them away, the threat of detention and missing house points will?"
"Well, when you put it like that it does sound stupid."
"Then explain how you're protecting the students in a way that doesn't sound fucking stupid!"
Dumbledore frowned, tiring of this. "Miss Darling, I understand that you are simply trying to do your job, even if I don't know how you do it, but may I explain to you why I'm doing all this?"
Wendy looked amused. "Sure, justify how you came all the way to New York to ask a child to come to your school and the first thing you do when he's there is plan to make him encounter the man who tried to kill him years ago. All so you can twist his arm into following your lead. Tell me why I should be siding with you on this."
"Voldemort is a dangerous man but still just a man. He could never have gained the stranglehold on my country he did on his own. He preached an intolerant genocidal dream for the world and to my regret and disgust many people shared in that dream and joined him in making it a reality. And if I am correct, many who didn't join him still did had that dream."
"Ah, so it's not just Voldemort you're trying to expose, it's his followers too." Wendy noted.
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, but until Voldemort is exposed none of his followers can be exposed too. Many have claimed to have been controlled by Voldemort and thanks to how the Ministry handled the issue it would be illegal for me to force answers out of them to find out who was genuinely controlled and who faked it to escape Azkaban. The only way to find out who is a legit follower of Voldemort is to find Voldemort himself."
"And using Harry and the stone as bait was the best plan you could come up with?" Wendy asked, skeptical.
Dumbledore fidgeted. "I assure you that I have tried many things over the past decade to get these results, and sadly none have worked. I wish it hadn't come to this but I am getting desperate."
Wendy paused for a moment then sighed. "Assuming this one actually works, assuming you do capture Voldemort's ghost, how is Harry supposed to end the problem? How do you expect him to kill a ghost?"
Dumbledore gulped. "Actually, there's more to it than that. More that I would rather-"
Wendy immediately took out a pistol and aimed it at his face, with the safety off. "Answer the damn question or the next ghost Harry sees will be yours."
"Okay okay!" The elderly wizard pleaded, exhaling in relief when Wendy put away the gun. "The truth is in order to cheat death Voldemort created things called horcruxes."
"One of which is currently in Harry's original scar." Wendy commented.
"I know all that is shown on screen. But what I don't know is what a horcrux is. That hasn't been established yet."
"A horcrux is to put it simply soul manipulation. You kill an innocent person, and separate a fragment of your soul that you attach to an object. From that point on, your soul has an anchor to the living world other than just your mortal body, and thus when your body dies your soul is tethered to this world and does not pass on to the afterlife."
Wendy frowned. "And you've spent the last ten years gathering these things up, right?"
Dumbledore tugged at his collar. "Actually..."
All of a sudden Wendy slapped him, something Dumbledore honestly would never have seen coming. Then she grabbed his collar. "You haven't? Ten years and you've done nothing? My god, are you expecting Harry to do everything here?"
"We can work something out Miss Darling." Dumbledore attempted to assure her.
"Oh we can, but here's how we're going to do it." Wendy asserted, releasing him. "First, you're going to remove that stone and give it to me."
Dumbledore's eyes widened. "I can't. It's not mine."
"Doesn't matter. You're going to give it to me, that's the only way you can prove to me that you're listening to me. Then I'm going to put it somewhere Voldemort could never get to. The next thing you're going to do is go to Harry, look him right in the face, and actually ask for his help rather than try and trap him into doing your bidding."
Dumbledore looked nervous. "What if he says no?"
"You will give him that option if you want his respect. Manipulating him will only earn you more enemies, including me."
"But for the greater good-"
"You are not the Author Dumbledore. I don't care how you 'scripted' out this war in your head, but no plan ever survives contact with the enemy. I will admit that you have good intentions and your goals are reasonable. After all, capturing Voldemort and removing those that would avenge or support him is smart. But from now on, you're doing it without being dependent on Harry. He may be the main character but he's just an eleven year old boy. What do you expect? For him to be a dynamic hero willing to risk his life for everyone in this school?"
"I had expected nothing, but I did believe Harry's reaction to the threat would inform me of his character."
"Well fortunately Harry isn't some lonely orphan that's been taught he can't rely on adults to do anything helpful. I don't know what you were expecting from Harry Potter, but Harry Wolf is a well adjusted young man who doesn't have to be self reliant or a hero. He's still a kid Dumbledore, let him be one while he still can."
Dumbledore sighed. "You're right. Does this mean you'll cooperate with me on this Miss Darling?"
Wendy crossed her arms. "For now, since I'm sure I can keep things from getting worse. But mark my words Dumbledore, make any plans to put Harry at risk without my consent again and you'll find out why everyone's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf."
With that, Wendy turned around and went back into the Fablewulf dorm.
Dumbledore took a deep breath then turned around, heading towards the great hall since there was no point in going back to his office before breakfast. 'Okay, the damage is done, now I just have to repair it. Perhaps if I spoke to the Daily Prophet myself that would settle concerns and allow me to not have to respond to every complaining parent individually. But I can't say what I'm hiding, nor can I say anything that can be disproven.'
He entered the hall and said his hellos to the other teachers while taking his seat, but his mind was still going. 'I just hope Miss Darling remains willing to assist me. I dread to think what she will do if this doesn't work and we have to risk Harry's life a second time.'
Wendy felt rather proud of herself when she went back into the Fablewulf dorm. That is until she felt cold and immobile.
'What…? Why can't I move?' She asked herself, unable to even blink.
"Hiya Fourth Wall." Spoiler cheerfully appeared before her. "Can we talk?"
Wendy couldn't respond.
"Oh right, I should fix that." Spoiler said, getting in close and tapping the older woman. Wendy took a deep inhale and collapsed to the ground, her balance removed in that instance. "Sorry."
"What was that about?" Wendy asked, looking up.
"Oh it's simple really. I think now it's time to invoke the cost of my help from a few chapters back."
Wendy blinked. "What? But the criminal got away. I thought that was the cost, me not being able to stop him."
Spoiler shook her head. "Oh no, that was just part of the plot. Odds are you would have lost him even without my help. No, it's time for the real cost for my prediction, and you just showed me what it needs to be."
"What? What do you want? Or would that be a spoiler too?"
Spoiler chuckled. "No, this time I'm required to tell you to establish things, so no spoiler here. And I'm sorry, I know this will hurt, but it's for the good of the story. I'm taking away some of your fourth wall awareness."
"WHAT?" Wendy shouted.
Spoiler nodded. "Sorry, but you're just too powerful. You can see everything on the screen, every action written, every thought verbalized. You've already altered the plot by being aware of what Dumbledore was thinking. Imagine how boring the story will become if you know everything else that's going to happen. For the good of the future, you need to be depowered."
"You can't do this! I am the Fourth Wall!"
"And you still will be, but now you'll only be aware of the stuff that happens directly around you. You can still talk to the readers Deadpool-style if you want to, but from now on no more knowing stuff that happens when you're not around and no more reading thought dialogue. That'll put you more on the level of the others and make the plot more interesting."
"What can I do to get this back?" Wendy asked.
Spoiler thought it over. "I'm not sure yet. Luckily for you I don't intend on this change lasting forever, but it will be awhile before it's reversed. For now though, just live with it."
With that Spoiler vanished, and Wendy withheld a groan.
"Good morning Harry." Dumbledore said when he saw Harry outside along with Harry's owl later in the morning. The boy looked like he was taking pictures, but he wasn't using a camera for it. He was using some kind of device that Dumbledore could not name, but had seen a lot of muggles use in New York in his visit.
"Hi Dumbledore." He replied, pocketing the device. "I was just taking some pictures of the place to send back home. Show the guys where I am."
"I hope you're enjoying your stay. I imagine that Hogwarts is considerably different than what you're used to living around."
"So far, but not in that good a way." He remarked, making Dumbledore look concerned. "It's mostly just people expecting me to be Harry Potter the Wizard rather than Harry Wolf the Fable, but I was expecting that. My only question is how much longer do I have to put up with it?"
"I'm afraid that remains to be seen. But given time people will accept you as you are."
Harry looked right at the old wizard, now in position to say something he'd wanted to. "In that case, why did you announce to the school I was Harry Potter?"
"I don't understand, I only did that because it was what everyone knew you best by. I saw no harm in grabbing their attention then giving you the reins to declare your own choice of name."
"So you weren't trying to get everyone to see me as the boy they tell stories about?" Harry asked, sounding like he didn't believe it.
Dumbledore arched an eyebrow. "Do you think I was trying anything other than just letting the students know who you were Harry?"
"Oh I know you wanted them to know me, but I can't help but think you wanted them to see a Potter rather than a Wolf. Remember how I told you that Pinocchio was different than the movie version?" He asked.
Dumbledore 'ahhed'. "I see. In that case I am deeply sorry my boy. I honestly did not see the harm in letting them know of your legacy, but I can see your point. But at the same time, this may have been inevitable, and a problem you would simply have to handle at some point. I believe Miss Darling would understand getting it done now and better I do it than someone else with bad intentions do it."
"Alright, I accept your apology. But if this keeps up, I would appreciate you telling the school to knock it off. It seems your word carries a lot of weight here, so if they won't listen to me they should listen to you."
Dumbledore nodded. "I can do that. Now, how are your new friends?"
"Well I'm doing fine, thanks for asking." Hedwig replied.
Dumbledore nodded, then his eyes widened for a moment. "Oh, I was unaware that your owl was a Fable too."
"I'm not." Hedwig corrected.
Harry nodded. "I think Dr. Dolittle had something to do with it."
Confused, Dumbledore dropped the subject. "Harry, while I have you here, there's something I'd like to discuss with you."
"This about you needing me to get rid of this Voldemort guy?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore blinked but then calmed himself. "Yes, that's it. I can't go into too many details out here where anyone can listen, but would you be willing to meet me in my office later so we can discuss this more?"
"Can it wait for next weekend? I'd like to see how things work here first."
Dumbledore nodded. "Alright, that's understandable for a new student."
"Hello everyone." Daphne said when she saw some familiar Slytherin students, the same students she thought she'd be sorted among.
"What do you want Greengrass?" Pansy Parkinson asked, sounding like her personal space was being violated. "Shouldn't you be off with your fairy tale freaks?"
"Hey, I didn't ask to be sorted into that weird house. I'm still a Slytherin at heart like you all."
"You're nothing like us." Malfoy declared. "If you were a Slytherin you'd be a Slytherin, not one of those morons who think a pig makes a good teacher."
"Look, I'm still the same person you always knew." Daphne defended.
"Well we don't want to know you anymore Greengrass." Pansy stated. "You're dead to us, you and your sister."
Daphne blinked then glared and got right into the other girl's face. "You leave Astoria out of this. She's not even a student yet."
"Then you better pray once she is that she becomes a Slytherin. Or she's an enemy too." Malfoy claimed, with Crabbe and Goyle nodding.
"Her name has 'story' in it, so she's practically one of those freaks already." Pansy added.
Daphne clenched her fist. "That's how it is? Fine, then we'll see just how tough snakes are compared to wolves." Without another word, she stomped away, refusing to shed a tear.
Hermione was in the library on a search for knowledge, not unlike her at all. But unlike her, she wasn't getting any results.
"How can there be no mentions of Fables in this library? There has to be something."
She must have checked a dozen books by now, focusing on the various magical cultures in the world. Obviously most of them were about wizards, with an emphasis on European cultures and some details on other countries, and a book about the magic creatures classified as sentient, but none of them said one word about the Fables. Not even in a contemporary sense or a reference to Aesop. It was as if they just didn't exist as far as wizards were concerned.
"Is Professor Colin lying to us?" She asked herself. Part of her found it impossible to even consider that a teacher of all people would give false information, yet another part of her found it just as impossible for no book in a refuted library like this one to lack any information to support the truth. This could only mean one of two things, that either a teacher was in fact lying or the best library in the country was incomplete.
She didn't know which one she preferred to have be true.
Ron walked through the halls of Hogwarts looking for one of his brothers. In his hands was a letter from his father, one that said that he and his wife were surprised by the results of his sorting but they weren't disappointed or ashamed of him for this. Sure, Arthur Weasley expressed curiosity about Fablewulf and encouraged Ron to immerse himself in the dorm, but Ron was reassured by this at all. His father kept emphasizing the 'we're not disappointed' part but never actually said what Molly thought on the matter, and Ron knew for a fact that any day now, if not any hour now, he'd be receiving one of his mother's signature howlers.
He felt some relief when he saw his brother Percy down the hall. From the looks of it, Percy was doing an afternoon patrol per his prefect duties, though knowing Percy it wasn't his turn to do so and he was just doing this for the sake of it. Either way he went up to his sibling.
"Hey Percy, you got a minute?"
The thirdborn Weasley son saw his brother and for a moment Ron swore he saw a sneer on his face. And not his usual 'I've got better things to do than be here' expression, but in Ron's eyes it was a 'you shouldn't be allowed to be in my sight' glare.
"What do you want Ronald?"
'Bad start already.' Ron thought, knowing no one used his full name for good things. "Can we talk?"
"Why don't you talk to your dormmmates?"
"I really need to talk with family about this."
"About what?" Percy asked.
Ron paused, trying to think of the best way to phrase what was on his mind. "You guys know that I didn't want to be in this dorm right? I wanted to be in Gryffindor."
"So what? What do you expect me to do about it? Resort you?"
"Is it possible?" Ron asked.
"That would defeat the entire point of the sorting ceremony Ronald. You clearly were not fit to be a Gryffindor." Percy stated.
Ron frowned. "That doesn't make me less of a Weasley!"
"The way I see it, it does."
Ron jerked a bit, feeling like he had just been slapped.
Percy turned and walked away, acting like he had spent enough time on this, leaving Ron there to shake in anger and pain, fists clenched.
The redhead boy turned around slowly, seeing Fred and George coming his way. Their faces looked uncharacteristically melancholy.
"Wow, Percy must think he has a quota for how much of an ass he needs to be each week." Fred commented when closer.
"How much did you hear?" Ron asked, sounding like he was trying not to yell.
"We got here around the time Percy was saying something like resorting and you not being fit for Gryffindor."
Ron growled. "Don't rub it in my face!"
"Hey just because Percy's a ponce doesn't mean we are." George countered. "There's nothing wrong with not being Gryffindor Ron. You're still a Weasley, just unique."
"Yeah, think about it. Now you're the most unique Weasley there is." Fred added.
Ron raised an eyebrow but then his mood lightened. The twins had a point, Ron knew he would be compared to his brothers and all their achievements, and he worried he'd come up short. He wanted to stand out, and didn't being the one Weasley who wasn't a Gryffindor make him stand out for sure? At least he wasn't a Slytherin.
"Thanks guys, that helps."
"No, what will really help you is us giving Percy a little payback." George added.
Fred grinned and looked to his twin. "Brother dear, I think we need to think of something really good to make Percy think twice before saying something like that again."
George nodded. "Yes I think we do."
"How are you going to prank Percy?" Ron asked.
"It's better that you don't know." Fred advised.
George nodded. "Plausible deniability."
Evening came and Dumbledore found himself with a visitor. Strangely though, it was not one he had been expecting.
"You have some explaining to do Dumbledore."
Seated at his desk, the old wizard took a moment to wipe his glasses. "First off Lucius, this isn't a social visit or a business meeting so I don't owe you anything. But since you're here, let's go ahead and discuss what is bothering you."
"What's this nonsense of having a fifth house that involves children's fairy tales? And hiring a talking pig to be a teacher? Have the standards for this school gone down to practically nothing? The Board of Governors had a right to know about these decisions and put a stop to them."
"Show me the rule stating that there can't be a fifth house in Hogwarts." Dumbledore challenged calmly.
Lucius glared. "It has always been tradition that Hogwarts only has four houses."
"I merely broke tradition, not a rule or a law. Unless you can show me said rule or law." Dumbledore repeated with a shrug.
Lucius gave an angry sigh, unable to push that argument any further since the older wizard was indeed correct on that. "Then what is this nonsense about the house honoring fairy tales? Are you going to teach students that fairy tales are real? This gives us ample reason to suspect your mind is finally slipping Dumbledore."
"Lucius, we live in a society based on magic. Wizards, witches, giants, ghosts, merfolk, we are the stuff of fairy tales. With that in mind, is it really that hard to believe that some fairy tales might have more truth to them than even we give them credit for?"
"Even if that were so, it doesn't justify having a fifth house made." Lucius insisted. "The Board of Governors demands to know why you did this without informing any of us. And how were you able to afford it without us knowing?"
Dumbledore knew he had to phrase this carefully. Lucius Malfoy might have been cleared of his Death Eater past by claiming the Imperious, i.e. bribed his way out of jail, but the headmaster knew that the head of the Malfoy family was still to this day a pureblood supremist. He had been easily taken in by the ambitions of Voldemort and so far had not regretted that choice. At least not in any way that didn't require testimony. But Dumbledore hoped that time would either expose his true nature or help him learn to regret, but until then, he wasn't going to give him anything that he could use to curry future favor with the dark lord.
Or perhaps, it would be best if the former Death Eater was under the illusion that he had a means of currying future favor.
"It is simple Lucius. There is a second community of magic users that are separate from the wizards and the muggles. Not unlike the giants, goblins, and centaurs. This group calls themselves Fables, and in their isolation they have developed all sorts of magics that we are unaware of. By integrating them into our society, we will see just what they know, and what can be of use to us."
Lucius did not look convinced yet, but his expression clearly showed he was seeing the potential of new magic. "What kind of magic?"
"For starters, the ability to communicate with animals. I've recently learned it's possible to give an animal the ability to speak. You yourself mentioned the talking pig. Imagine how much easier it would be if our pets could tell us what they wanted rather than relying on us to figure it out. And I believe they may have some form of youth preservative. Some Fables are older than me yet look younger than you. Tell me that you wouldn't love to live another hundred years and never grow any grey hairs like me."
"Hmm... if that's true then yes, I suppose creating a new house designed to make these people feel special is a small price to pay. But you haven't answered my question, why did you not tell the Board beforehand?"
"It was part of the terms of agreement with the Fables. Either the fifth house went up unopposed or they take their secrets to the grave. Had I brought it up could you guarantee the Board wouldn't have opposed it?" Dumbledore asked back.
"This is still unorthodox, but considering the potential gain and the fact it cost us nothing financially I believe the Board can be convinced to allow this. But a word of warning Dumbledore, we don't want this to become a habit." Lucius warned.
Dumbledore nodded and Lucius began to walk out. "Oh by the way Lucius..." Dumbledore called out, stopping his visitor. "Did you happen to read the paper this morning?"
"Yes, what of it?"
"Never mind, have a nice day."
Lucius left, and Dumbledore sighed and leaned back in his chair. 'Strange how he came here solely to complain about Fablewulf, and had no concern about the implied danger of the third floor. Still, I can only hope he and his family can be saved from the darkness.'