Disclaimer:

I solemnly swear that the literature and works of the Harry Potter Verse belong to JK Rowling, Bloomberg and Warner Bros. The only thing I own are the one-shot ideas that popped into my head and whatever OCs I would create for them. This is a work of pure fiction made solely for fun, constructive reviews will be welcomed, flames will be ignored. Any references to characters in real-life or fiction are purely coincidental. If I could make money out of my ideas, it would be nice...

Mischief Managed Damn It!


Title: Book 1, Chapter 12

Posted Date: March 14 2022


(February 1988)

Warden Fleetwood sneezed as he got out of bed with the thick blanket wrapped around him and went to prepare a strong batch of tea for the morning while overpowering a flame spell to get the furnace ablaze to power the other fire sources for the others to get warmth. Elsewhere in Britain it may be sunny with a dash of rain or a small cloud, but around here on the godforsaken island of Azkaban, there was only one type of weather forecast: dreadful.

At the best of times, it would be frigid with overcast skies and semi calm seas, otherwise for the most part, it would be a treacherous island set at the eye of a sea storm that would have waves crashing against the building and blasts of cold wind going through the corridors if someone forgot to close the gates. At the absolute worst, the island would be a frozen wasteland with the ice columns created from frozen sea water jutting out with spikes big enough to skewer a person's head if one was not careful to walk on the slippery ground. The inside of the building was no better with the water constantly getting sprayed inside and turning into frozen sludge from the wind.

That would be bad enough as it was, but the real issue was not so much the weather as it was the guards that created this blasted phenomenon.

The soul sucking demons known as Dementors.

Fleetwood shuddered just at the mere thought of them and briefly looked to the steel door which he had bolted shut with three locks and blocked with steel beams just to ensure no person or thing could get through it. It might seem overkill for a normal room in a prison, but Azkaban was used to house all types of criminals, from the commonplace thief to the worst of criminals that got the VIP treatment of having Dementors coming to their cells in shifts to keep them compliant. On the off chance the prisoners escaped, they would not be able to barge into the room. But the real reason for the precautions was to prevent the Dementors from coming into the room since they had the ability to unlock any locks and bolts to enter the room; given the number of 'accidents' that happened on this island, his predecessor Marvin Coulson, upon seeing what passed for a guards room and 'security' on his first week at work no less, went to pull a few favors and using his own money to boost proper security for him and the other guards, revamping an entire section of the ground floor to be used as their quarters, complete with a smaller room to serve as both a decontamination room and one of the layers of security in case a prisoner or a Dementor tried to come after the guards. The smaller room was apparently modeled after the muggles, where the room needed to be sealed first before the second door could be opened, and his predecessor added a means to test the personnel in said room to ensure there were no polyjuice, glamours, compulsions, bad intent or dark creatures before the locks could be opened. Both the quarters and the secondary room were reinforced to prevent spell castors from bombing the room, and both sets of cold iron doors had anti-magic runes to stop anyone from transfiguring them into something else, complete with iron bars to secure them to the walls in the event the bolts were unlocked.

The Ministry officials back then complained that it was unnecessary and a waste of money, and that his predecessor should remove the security measures since, and he was quoting them on this, 'Azkaban was totally safe'.

Said predecessor gave them the muggle expression of insult with one finger from both hands as his response before leaving. His own crew gave him free beer for the first round.

Over time Marvin continued to add more security for the guards to ensure they do not get attacked at least on the next three floors, with safe rooms to lock themselves in and even an underground bunker in the event of a prison breakout or rogue Dementors. Some claimed that he had to have been trained by Alastor Moody with how many contingencies he had on hand to ensure the safety of the guards, despite the fact that Alastor was born long after him. (That did not stop some of the more outlandish ideas such as Alastor traveling back through time to teach Marvin, and Fleetwood was half-inclined to believe them.) Unfortunately, before he could continue to the higher security levels, the man passed away in his sleep due to over exposure from the Dementors' presence.

To this date, no one had "accidents" or attacks coming into the quarters or the surrounding rooms, and all the guards made a quick prayer to an altar erected in his memory to thank him for the protection. Any newbies or Aurors assigned to Azkaban that scoffed at them found themselves on the really loose end of security until they begged for forgiveness to be away from the presence of the Dementors.

Those who had worked under Marvin do not appreciate taking any shit from those who treated his memory like dirt.

His thoughts were interrupted when the runic board glowed brightly to inform him of an unscheduled arrival, earning a light groan as he considered the rain that was pouring outside. At least his predecessor saw it fit to renovate a part of the island to allow transport of prisoners to a rune sheltered cove leading up to an underground cave in the event the weather got too bad, and ironically, he made that area more secure than the current open route by the jetty, which helped when would-be prisoners attempt to make one last escape. Fleetwood manipulated the controls to activate the spells to redirect the craft to the cave before he geared himself up for the day, checking the schedule and list of dates regarding prisoner release. He, along with two others who grumbled at being raised, geared themselves up and went to the smaller room to prepare for going outside.

Admittedly Fleetwood wondered about the muggles' idea of security and the implementation by his predecessor; the double door locks and decontamination room were a decent consideration, but he had to question the groaning of the door hinges and the hissing from the air being contained as the doors bolt themselves shut briefly before one end opens up. It was too creepy for him to handle at times especially at the dead of night when he returns from his last patrol.

Still, he would take that over the Dementors any day. That got reinforced when the door leading outside unlocked and the trio shivered from the cold air and the mild presences of the Dementors that were lurking about. Fleetwood knew that the creatures had to be a little irritated that they could not enter this room, but frankly he could care less about that. The trio quickly made their way to the section of the first floor that led to the holding area and then to the stairway leading to the underground cave, pausing briefly to fire up the additional furnaces on the way to get some heat. Once there, the trio relaxed as the creatures could not get past the boundary.

"Wonder who we are getting this time?" One of the guards asked as he stretched his arms to work the kinks from being near the Dementors.

"I do not think this is a prisoner transport, usually they would alert us beforehand." The second answered.

"Unless some poor schmuck managed to screw up so badly that they sent them to us to get them dumped into a cell." The first replied. "Maybe Umbridge?" That made Fleetwood and his companion snort loudly at that query in the hopeful tone. It was no secret that many of the Azkaban staff hated the Undersecretary to Cornelius Fudge with a passion, a few having been reassigned to the island for whatever bloody reason she gave, with a good number of them fantasizing that she got sent to a cell. Although a couple had remarked with a shudder that considering how soulless and ruthless she could be, she may be right at home with the Dementors around her.

That was a genuinely fearful thought, Umbridge being best buddies with Dementors.

"I checked the records, there are no possible releases around this time outside of the low crime levels." Fleetwood answered. "Odds are someone from the lower levels is going to be released soon, or we might have an interrogation coming along."

"Hopefully only them and not those from higher levels, that's if their buddies have yet to line the pockets of those politicians. Murderous rapist scum." The first guard answered with a growl towards the end, his knuckles cracking from squeezing his hand.

"Calm down, Jenkins." The second placed a comforting hand on the guy's shoulder. "No one can let those monsters back out on the street, not with how public their interrogations were."

"Unless someone decides to fund another hospital wing along with greasing Fudge's pockets." Jenkins muttered back.

"I do not want to interrupt but we are on the clock, people." Fleetwood interrupted with his eyes still staring outwards to the end of the tunnel, and wanting to stop the oncoming rage that Jenkins normally had towards the residents of the highest levels, reserved strictly for the worst of the worst. The crown jewels of Azkaban were the Lestranges, along with some of the other Death Eaters caught, including the supposed right hand of the Dark Lord himself. He could understand why Jenkins was getting angry, since one of the lower ranking Death Eaters may have been responsible for his grandmother's death but got off lightly supposedly with no evidence to prove that action. Not helped when the lord of that man's family had paid a visit to Fudge just two days prior and suddenly there was new evidence saying that the man was in another location at the time of the crime, with the Aurors doing the investigation suddenly being reassigned elsewhere for 'contaminating the evidence' and disappearing shortly after.

Made him wonder what was the point of having Azkaban if these types of people kept walking away.

Fleetwood watched as the boat came near and narrowed his eyes to focus, a frown appearing as the image got sharper. He could see the Aurors and no possible prisoner, so it was not a prisoner transport, but he could not help noticing the number of Aurors were a lot more than normal. As the boat came into sharper view, he took a quick breath at the sight of Amelia Bones.

"Look alive, boys. Madam Bones has arrived with a whole load of Aurors." The other two straightened at that; the last time they saw her come mob-handed to Azkaban was roughly three years ago, and that was to question some of the prisoners on cold cases and minor infractions. Most of the prisoners answered in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, the rest got rowdy and one got the Dementor's Kiss on the spot for being an idiot.

Madam Bones was pissed with a capital P for that last one.

The boat finally came into the dock near them and the Aurors disembark, their relief of being out of the weather evident on their faces. Madam Bones left the boat near the end, with the rear guard covering her as procedure.

"Madam Bones." Fleetwood greeted the DMLE head as they came closer.

"Warden Fleetwood." The strict woman nodded her head. "How are the conditions around here?" The man shrugged.

"Pretty much the same as last time. Most of the prisoners have been behaving for the most part due to the Dementors, while a few are rowdy." Fleetwood hummed as he crossed his arms. "We have been trying to increase the living conditions, but so far only the lower levels have been worked on and lightly warded. The medium crime levels are barely touched, and the less said about the 'VIP' levels, the better."

"Why bother wasting the money on those animals? Not like they would live for long to appreciate the additions, nor do they deserve it." One of the Aurors had muttered under his breath but still heard by the others, and more importantly, Madam Bones.

"I would caution where and around whom you speak those words, Auror Fangorn." Her eyes bored into the Auror in question. "Some people may take them as an excuse to target you. With that in mind, I will need to issue you a one-time reprimand." With that done, she turned around while pointedly ignoring the light ribbing granted to Auror Fangorn by the others. Fleetwood quickly hid the smirk that was in his face when she turned back. Even Madam Bones had opinions about some of the prisoners.

"Warden Fleetwood, we would require your assistance regarding some prisoners." One of the others stepped forward with a parchment of names and handed it to Fleetwood who took it with a curious expression. "We have a few questions on some cases and we believe these people know them." Warden Fleetwood nodded as he looked through the names; Most of them were from the low or medium crime levels, essentially thieves, cons-men or the odd thug that occasionally got involved with something or someone way above their normal routine and ended up on the DMLE radar. Usually, these ones would leave when they served their time or had information they could trade in exchange for a lighter sentence or shorter period. Those guys were usually okay for Fleetwood unless the prisoner was someone who kept returning for bad habits.

The last five names though? It gave him pause.

"Madam?" Amelia stepped forward while the other Aurors took out certain boxes from the ship, gesturing the warden to follow her a bit before she cast a silencing ward around them.

"You are referring to the last set of names." Amelia stated as a fact as opposed to a question. "I will require an oath before I start explaining." Fleetwood blinked at that request but complied with her and gave his oath to keep the matter secret and not interfere.

"There are a few cold cases that we have some headway in and we believe that two of them have evidence if not proven to be the actual perpetrators." Madam Bones started to speak as she pointed them out. "The third name is involved with a seperate case from a year ago, while the fourth is likely involved with an ongoing case that if we can get a confession, he won't be leaving the rock anytime soon." Fleetwood nodded as he considered what he knew of the four. Supposedly the higher ranking Death Eaters, the first two were caught attacking the town where the Mackinnons were murdered and tried under the full Wizengamot before getting shipped here. The third was caught for trading information of the Ministry and was being held for a few years, while the fourth was in and out of Azkaban more times than he could count, what with witnesses suddenly forgetting and 'new information' appearing to exonerate the man; indeed this fellow kept boasting that he would be leaving soon even though the Dementors had been patrolling his cell a few times more, being attracted to his glee at being released.

"And the last name?" Amelia looked to the other Aurors finishing up on their off-loading before turning back to Fleetwood.

"There is one case that we needed clarification, and recent checks reveal a lot of facts missing from something that should have been recorded in the beginning, and what little left was on it has been redacted to the point of the parchment might as well serve as kindling. This man was at the heart of that case before his arrest, and given how quickly his conviction went through multiple bypasses on the word of 'respectable people', there are plenty involved who may want to see him gone to stop certain truths from coming out." Fleetwood's eyebrows went up to the hairline at that. Considering who this man was and the likelihood of those 'upstanding citizens' wanting to stay out of Azkaban, odds were good that this man would know something that could see a good number of people kiss their freedom goodbye along with reputation and wealth, and even higher odds that they would not want that truth out.

"How do we handle this?"

"If you can get the people into different rooms, we can speed up the process by assigning the low level criminals to the others. They should not take too long to process." Amelia gave her requests. "As for the last four, definitely separate rooms with the entire works, we cannot risk them trying something. I will personally conduct their interviews with Veritaserum." Fleetwood blinked at that.

"How did you manage to swing that past Fudge?" His slight confusion was understandable considering how the man kept trying to disregard the truth and more often than not, would stop Amelia from using the Truth potion on any of his cash buddies. Not helped with the recent introduction of a law immediately after the war called Order 66 where pure-bloods of certain groups are allowed to refuse the potion citing whatever secrecy nonsense, whereas half-bloods and muggleborns were not granted the choice.

A stupid law if you ask him. If the pure-bloods have nothing to hide, they should take the potion to prove their innocence. By refusing it, they were effectively broadcasting their guilt.

"I pointed out to him that these people had their trials done beforehand and are legally considered to have wavered their rights to deny the truth serum. That and the fact that this was the previous administration's doing, so he would not be blamed as much as them, and if done right, he could be seen as the 'beacon of justice'." Her expression and deadpan tone made it clear how she felt telling Fudge that, and Fleetwood almost burst out laughing at the image in his head. Considering that man, it was likely the case that he would hope to have good press on him.

"I can get that done within the hour, care for refreshments?" Fleetwood asked while Amelia removed the ward.

"That would be nice, but I can settle for a warm fire while we make sure to have everything ready." Amelia made sure all her staff had their Dementor Amulets on them or Patronus spells at ready before they left the underground dock, all shivering at the feeling of the Dementors about them. They did not stick around for long and went to the isolation room, letting out a breath as the door sealed behind them and the cleansing wards came on to check them for spells and decontamination before the door to the quarters opened for them.

"Thank you, Saint Marvin." One of the Aurors gave his thanks to the altar, having been to Azkaban for duties a couple of years before and knowing about the security. Madam Bones nodded at the precautions taken by Marvin, and based on her expression, wished she could do the same for the Ministry.

Good luck running that past Fudge and his 'budget cuts'.

"Jefferson, Collins! Help set up rooms 1 to 5, along with rooms 13 and 16." Fleetwood ordered the two guards prepping for the day. "We are going to have a lot of people talking, so prepare the holding chambers next to them. We have five VIPs waiting for their turn, so keep them in the special cells next to the rooms." The two nodded and went about grabbing extra gear. Another added upgrade to the prison were the holding chambers and interrogation rooms next to them; previously constructions of stone and gravel that barely passed for rooms, Marvin made sure to change them to fit big numbers and to implement the same security measures as the guard's quarters, with additional sealed rooms to ensure that no prisoner attempted to escape while ensuring the Dementors do not attempt to feed. The only added complication for the guards were the reduced abilities to cast magic, thus resorting to collapsible batons to keep them under control.

"Oh, there is one thing I believe you might like." Madam Bones motioned to one of the Aurors who took out a small wooden box and released the shrinking charm to get it back to the original size that reached up to their knees in height. Opening it, Fleetwood saw what looked to be square crystals with dimmed orbs inside them and one large square mirror with runes etched on the bronze trimmings on the outer edges of it.

"What are these?"

"New inventions that appeared recently from a new contractor. These are special recording crystals that can help us monitor certain areas while relaying the images through this big mirror, and they can hold up to a full day before needing a reset." Madam Bones sounded very happy with this purchase. "We have field tested these for a couple of months and they have withstood everything we could throw at it in combat short of the Unforgivables and Fiendfyre. They cannot be transfigured or modified, nor can they be fooled by potions and charms. The best feature about these artifacts? It allows us to actually save the recordings in a different crystal altogether, so even if the one viewing the surroundings gets destroyed, the recording is still safe."

Oh, now he could see why Amelia Bones was happy.

"This is going to be a field test for Azkaban. After our interrogations are complete, I would like you to help my Aurors place these crystals in locations that may be hard to access or in dangerous zones. A couple of others will be setting up the main console to connect them to the main crystal. If these crystals can work in this environment, we may be able to reduce your patrols to a certain path to avoid bumping into the Dementors, and at the same time monitor the prisoners. Heck, if I can swing the budget and contract, maybe have a crystal check on every two to five prisoners at once in one area." Amelia sounded like she could fend off the Dementors with her cheerfulness alone, and Fleetwood could understand why. If these crystals can do as they were advertised, the guards would not have to do so many patrols in the lower sectors, and if he could wing it, none of the high security levels with the 'VIPs' yelling at them or the Dementors coming around them. He and the others could just sit behind the desk to view them and be done with it. "I am hoping this test works so that I can get more of these inventions."

"That makes two of us." Fleetwood noted one of his guards waving "We are ready for the interrogations." Amelia gathered up a few of the Aurors to aid with the interrogations and together they made their way to the rooms in question. Then for the next three hours, they went through the low-crime prisoners before they took a break, and then prepared for the high level criminals. Fleetwood got the chance to see Madam Bones use a different type of recording crystal to use for the interrogations, and to see how it could replay the recording in clear definition.

He did not know there was a broken brick in the corner until he compared the recording to it, it was that detailed!

Having been the warden for six years, Fleetwood had pretty much memorized the manner anyone from the high levels would do when being interrogated. There were a few ways the prisoners would act:

Behavior Number One: they would be extremely angry addressing the Auror, likely attempting to make the interrogator lose their cool to gain an advantage. That was what Hazel BlackWeed and Demetry Greystone, the McKinnon attackers, were acting when they were dragged into the interrogation room and found themselves face to face with Amelia Bones. Hazel even attempted to make a threat towards her niece and made it clear that he looked forward to 'introducing' himself to her.

Fleetwood and the others would deny seeing her kick the living daylights out of Hazel and crunching his 'legacy' with steel tip boots. The other prisoners who were being escorted also agreed that Hazel was an idiot to piss off Amelia Bones.

Behavior Number Two: the prisoners would attempt to trade whatever information they were told for a possible lighter sentence, be it evidence or names. That was what Igor Karkoroff did before he skipped town and went to Durmstrang, and that was what Boris Ivanoff attempted when he was brought into the room to let Amelia confirm his involvement that ultimately saw him convicted of the crime he was originally an accessory to.

Behavior Number Three: the prisoner would be so arrogant that they would pretty much out themselves. The Aurors were confused at first why Fleetwood brought out popcorn for them to snack on before Carlos Bushwood got brought in, but soon understood why as they watched the man practically incriminate himself without Amelia even needing the Veritaserum at first, only using it towards the end when the guy realized too late that he ought to have shut his mouth up. Amelia even chuckled at the end of her interrogation as she cheerfully signed off on the man's confession sheet to officially keep him in Azkaban for a longer time.

Ultimately most if not all would have the same reaction when told to return to their cells. All of them would throw a tantrum or go into a panic to delay the inevitable. That was pretty much it for those four.

Now for the last prisoner of the day.

There was a tense silence as the final prisoner on the list got brought into the room, this time with four burly guards doing the escort after having two Dementors helping along for the first half. Fleetwood had heard about this guy by reputation and word of mouth; supposed to be one of the best Aurors during the height of the war, he had fought to keep the peace until Halloween of 1981 where he betrayed his partner / best friend to the Dark Lord, revealing himself to be the Right Hand of the mad wizard. Another friend of theirs had chased and confronted him three days later, resulting in his sacrifice and the lives of twelve muggles, but leading to the traitor's capture and arrest, thus granting him a "suite" in Azkaban with many Dementors going about his cell. Fleetwood of course made sure that he was still safe, but he hated traitors in the Auror Corps along with a few others, and made it clear that this man would not have an easy time in prison.

"Prisoner 612321, Sirius Orion Black. We have Veritaserum and some questions for you." A pair of gray eyes looked at Amelia for a while before the man snorted and said words that made Fleetwood blink in surprise.

"About damn time I got someone asking. What do you want to know?"

~ooOOoo~

(Present Time)

"Huff… Huff… Huff"

Harry regulated his breathing as he did his run around the general area of the castle grounds and near the lake in the early morning, the gravity resistance bands having their density increased and his magic seals activated to force him to move at a constant speed without magic reinforcing his limbs. But if one focused at his feet, one might notice magic circles appearing and going away each time his feet touch the ground, slightly propelling him forward as he did his rounds, a feat that was made more impressive as he was doing this instinctively while running.

He only had one more lap to finish before he had to head back in for the day's lesson, thankful that it would be a slow day of lessons consisting of History and Charms. As Harry was nearing the end of his run, he let his thoughts wander about all that had happened over the past week.

Now then, where should he begin? Perhaps the aftermath of the troll incident?

The news regarding that was broken over 2 days, the first immediately after the holiday for the DMLE to inform the parents or guardians whose children were in the hospital wing, along with students who managed to send out letters by their owls or their goblin boxes; the second day was after the incensed parents went to the Daily Prophet to break the news to the general public, with Amelia giving the article a quick look over before letting it be released. Thanks to new management, certain people could not keep the news out of the newspaper and that meant the public would know most of what had happened on Halloween. One part that was granted some brief details by Amelia was an interview with an Unspeakable who commented on his usage of the Old Oath method; the person in question had stated that it was a true oath method lost to history that had multiple risks involved, so the fact that Harry was alive with his magic intact, proved that he was genuinely telling the truth with no attempts to mislead people. With that in record, while they would not know the actual reason for the oath, no one could accuse him of making up stories.

Privately, Amelia told Harry to expect an early visit from an Unspeakable to ask where he got the oath from, since it was such an old method that records had gone missing on it.

It was on the second day that Harry got an idea of what a Howler was, given how the sky briefly darkened a few minutes after the news broke from the literal cloud of owls descending upon Hogwarts like some twisted rendition of the scene from the Wizard of Oz. He was almost expecting some old lady with green skin dressed in typical evil witch attire to appear with an evil crackle and scream "Fly My Pretties, Fly!" All he knew was that the people who wrote the Howlers were angry, and one in particular was somehow able to outscream the rest of them by sheer volume and sharpness, saying something about endangering her little boys and all sorts of things.

Considering how the red-heads of Gryffindor were grimacing with a few others staring at them, that may have been their mother. But why did the scream sound so similar to the time he went on the Express?

Related to the troll incident, Harry found himself at the center of a lot of attention from the student populace. Much of it was due to the other students from the hospital wing retelling the story to their friends, and at first there were a few skeptical of the retelling, which was understandable since it sounded like something from those damn story books, at least until the newspapers showed the photos and selected witness statements to let the readers know what had happened, not to mention Amelia Bones returning his crystal to him which the others asked for viewing within reason. Ravenclaw Tower ended up having their first movie night as the denizens converged to view the recording, with Terry remarking that this was the closest to having a real-life action movie done as they oohed and ahhed at different points of the recording. After that, the story spread to the other houses and he was really wanting to go to his lab-room.

That reminded him that he needed to find a way to get a movie projector working in Hogwarts.

An odd matter did come up after Amelia returned his property and asked some follow-up questions; she made a private request to visit his lab-room and his wards since she had heard a little of it from Susan. Harry had raised an eyebrow but shrugged and led her to the room in question, having been emptied out of his experiments since one of the trolls had evidently arrived to the corridor and wrecked the area, tripping his security and transporting all of his work to the assigned locations for safe-keeping as programmed until he could retrieve them either with Filius accompanying him or to be done over the holidays.

The look on her face when he told her of his security measures was so weird that he had to clamp down on his Occlumency to not laugh, not helped when her Auror guard accompanying her asked if he had met this Alastor Moody in the past.

She did however nod to his ideas and encouraged him to do more ward spells if he could, giving out some suggestions for his work. She particularly liked the idea of his wards disrupting compulsions and tracking spells on anyone entering the wards and asked if he had any books that she could reference from, since she had to protect Susan from people who would target her. Harry merely raised a finger and went to the wall near the front of the refurbished classroom, gave a couple of knocks on a brick, pulled it out and retrieved a small notebook with some book titles and observations he made of their effects.

And again, their reactions were rather humorous. But at least Susan would be safe, even if Harry was handing Amelia a stripped down list of book titles for reference.

The incident also drew a fair amount of reactions from the other three houses. Hufflepuff on the whole was grateful for him pointing out the flaw in the original evacuation order to stop the headmaster sending them to their possible doom since the photos of the troll came out and a couple had seen the trolls in person. Cedric Diggory for one paled to the point of looking like a vampire as he was recalling what had happened on the way back to their common room.

For some reason, the random thought of Cedric being a vegetarian vampire that could walk under the sun with stars twinkling around him popped into Harry's head and made him laugh at that absurd idea.

Slytherin appeared to be divided over him with multiple factions coming up, but what little he had gathered from his favorite journal and other observations, the house respected power and tradition. At least that was the impression he got from the older students who looked at him with consideration when they read about him using an ancient method of oath taking to prove his worth. As for the first years, the cohort got split into three main groups: one group represented by Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott who were grateful to him and more friendly; a second represented by the more extremist pure-bloods including Zacharias Smith who was really testing his patience with his constant taunts and trying to discount his actions despite the evidence. The third and smaller group appeared to be the neutrals, consisting of those like Draco Malfoy and Daphne Greengrass who would not rock the boat but willing to grant him respect where it is due.

Gryffindor House was really vocal after news of the incident was broken via the newspaper and the rumor mill. A few of the members, like a certain red haired Weasley, were proclaiming that this was the proof that he was sorted into the wrong house and that he should be resorted, to which some of the Ravenclaw seniors fired back with comments that with his methodical approach to taking down the trolls, Harry proved why he was in Ravenclaw instead of being reckless like a Gryffindor. There were a couple like one Cormac MacLaggen who stated that he must be using dark magic to fight the troll and needed to be arrested to protect them.

And oh boy, do the Ravenclaw seniors look ready for a smack-down at that proclamation? Penny for one had very twitchy fingers around her wand at that point, and there were times when she was not around while Cormac was sporting a few hexes, and he did look afraid when she was in the area with a smile.

There was one caveat to the troll incident: his actions required his current guardian to appear in the public eye for the first time to allow Harry to answer some questions along with the guardian's. To that degree, his guardian was invited to Hogwarts in the presence of the headmaster, Head of the DMLE, the Minister of Magic, and a few hanger-ons. Harry did not know what the heck was with everyone wanting to know who his guardian was, but privately enjoyed the mayhem while he underwent another interview with the use of Veritaserum under the supervision of the Aurors and his guardian at hand.

Albert Ericson Thornwood, newly minted Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Thornwood, was a man that had a good number of people wondering for months who he was since the article broke that Harry's guardianship had been transferred to him a couple of years ago without anyone's knowledge. He was also a man who did not worship the altar of Albus Dumbledore nor have much respect for the current administration in the ministry outside of a small handful of people. For the latter, he did not like how some people kept trying to find him regarding Harry nor did he appreciate people's attempts to remove his custody of him, or the recent orders by some officials to grant them some of his magical projects based on the recent incident. They even tried to accuse Harry of breaking the law on Apparition, an accusation proven wrong by Albert producing paperwork of him having performed the ability in front of certified trainers, and Harry producing his license that was verified and approved by six instructors from different countries exactly one year ago.

One person in particular looked like he was trying to lay an egg the size of a boulder if Harry were to go by his expression.

Regarding the headmaster, Albert did not mince his words as he asked Dumbledore what had happened and why he tried to keep matters silent. While not outright stated, he made it clear that he was well informed of certain issues happening in the castle and did not like what he was looking at. Albert also did not appreciate Dumbledore's attempts to make Harry sound like the bad guy who needs to repent for saving lives, nor did he appreciate the constant requests for a meeting that went against the context of the restraining order, or his requests to have Harry moved somewhere else 'for his protection'. Albert clearly had that on his chest for a while and wanted to rant at the man for some time, which coupled with the glare from Amelia, made for one bad day for Dumbledore.

Aww, poor Dumbledore. Want a cookie?

Another matter that resulted from this mess was the commission that had arrived three days after Halloween. It was meant to be a smaller group of people and done in stages to avoid disruptions to lessons, but with this incident and Amelia's investigations, the numbers increased with aid from both the EUM, who were really not happy with the news they had been getting on the curriculum limitations, budget cuts on necessary subjects or the decreased security of the castle, and the ICW main branch, having been alerted about the situation and had sent over a couple of officials to oversee the matter and in greater number of checks that could take roughly a month to finish.

From his contacts, Harry learned that it was more or less confirmed that Dumbledore had lost his position of Supreme Mugwump at the ICW, replaced by an Argentinian in his thirties named Corvo Idletail. Evidently outside of the recent happenings in Britain, many of the other leaders did not appreciate how Dumbledore had pushed his ideals at them about 'Forgiveness for the Greater Good' or denouncing certain magical practices they had done for generations as 'Dark', and had been petitioning to their equivalent of a general assembly panel to remove him. The news of him trying to waylay the investigations gave them the final nail in the coffin to remove him and bar him from returning, prompting the British Ministry to try and promote another. Although that was taking a while since the ICW Panel were very strict with standards and had thrown every single contact out of the door within minutes of meeting them.

For some reason, Jeremiah was laughing his head off about this 'Umbitch' woman literally getting kicked out of the premises for insulting them. Harry was going to have to ask for information regarding this woman.

In any case, this meant that a few inspectors were already onsite, a few performing random checks on the different subjects while some interviewed the students along with reading whatever observations or complaints made by said students to understand what was going on for their lessons or general life in Hogwarts. It was also clear that there were plenty of complaints that had been going unanswered for the past few years and the situation was like a cauldron of potion ready to boil over with catastrophic results.

Judging from the two tables groaning under the piles of parchments relating to those complaints or suggestions, Ravenclaw was going to give those inspectors a headache.

Supposedly ward inspectors were coming soon along with beast inspectors from both the British Ministry and the ICW to check on the surrounding area to see if there were any more creatures that could be lurking about. If some of the stories he heard from the seniors were true, odds were good that the latter inspectors would lose their temper within minutes of checking the Forbidden Forest. Only time would tell.

Now that the aftermath was sorted, what other matters appeared over the week?

Oh yes.

Hermione evidently had enough of Gryffindor and went to appeal for a resorting in the presence of the four heads of houses and Dumbledore in his office. From what she told him and the others later on the day itself, outside of Parvati and perhaps one Fay Dunbar, the rest in her year group did not appear to appreciate her efforts to earn points nor her intelligence. Ronald Weasley seemed to have it in his head that she was not a true Gryffindor for wanting to read a book and having friends outside of the house, and went about disparaging her while trying to steal her work to copy. It was 2 days after the incident when they were in the common room, Ron started his usual badmouthing but by the end of it actually bemoaned the fact that she did not get smashed by the troll before the feast. The only reason Hermione did not get the chance to hex the living daylights out of him was due to the intervention of his brothers and a pissed off Transfiguration Professor who dumped a month's worth of detentions for him to work through after lessons along with 150 points taken for his words.

Hermione however had declared that enough was enough and asked the headmistress to move to another house, even quoting the relevant section and points of the charter to invoke her right based on the book he had handed to her the previous day. Surprising even him when he was told about it, the Gryffindor common room glowed brightly with the sounds of bells chiming at that, before an elf appeared to tell them that her request had been approved and that she was to appear at the headmaster's office after lessons.

That would explain why Harry heard the bells earlier, and then found himself tackled to the floor by Hermione when she rushed to find them with Minerva McGonagall following behind, the girl babbling out a request for him to accompany her.

Once he got the general gist, Harry had to recall some of the old charter along with some quick thinking to tell the professor that he would be standing in as representative for her as she is a sponsee under his foundation. Just as well he did that as the headmaster had attempted to throw him out only for Harry to pull out the necessary documentation that he could serve as a witness for the foundation to ensure that Hermione got her wishes fulfilled by the charter. When the old wizard attempted to claim there was no rule regarding the resorting and that she was to remain in her house, Harry went to quote the same set of rules for Hermione and even produced the booklet containing said rule, something he claimed to carry around just in case when asked.

He was really wanting to know Alastor Moody at that point, given how the professors looked like death warmed over them, with Professor Sprout muttering about the end of the world if they ever met. One of the portraits actually left the frame screaming and shouting "There is a younger Mad-Eye! Run for your lives!", starting a stampede within the frames as the other occupants screamed their heads off and a certain Sorting Hat laughing like a hyena.

In any case, the headmaster's attempts to dissuade Hermione did not last long with each refusal from her and ended by Alistar the Sorting Hat landing on the desk on his own. The hat had asked Hermione to let him read her memories as part of the procedure, and for 2 minutes Harry watched the hat hummed while he idly stroked the feathers of Fawkes who had landed on his shoulder when he entered the office. After a while, Alistar proclaimed that he had seen all that he needed and agreed to sort her into the House of Ravenclaw for her safety, earning claps from him, Sprout and a gleeful Filius, a slight forlorn smile from Minerva, rolled eyes from Snape, and a disgruntled expression from Dumbledore. Harry may have been considered a touch rude leaving the office with Hermione in a hurry, but she was too excited to be in the same house as him and the others sharing her love books to care and ended up dragging him out of the office.

And as a bonus, he got away from Dumbledore trying to get him to stay for another 'meeting'.

Another small bit of news was Tracey Davis coming to the study group. She appeared two days after the incident at the library, hovering about with some uncertainty until Harry invited her to the group, with Blaise and Theodore helping to ease her in since the rest still have some misgivings regarding Slytherin students, not helped with the seniors being so standoffish at best, and Zacharias Smith acting like a damn bigot.

Heck, even Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, the ones hailing from generations of Slytherin and the first ones sorted into Hufflepuff, were willing to form another study group with others aiding them! And they were also nicer to have despite being book dumb!

On a side note, Draco Malfoy had met up with him and they began a series of talks between the two regarding the different aspects of Magical Britain and Modern Britain, often joined by others from both sides to show their opinions about the state of matters. It was clear that the pureblood dogma was prevalent in much of the wizarding society, and it was a bit of a hassle having to get the others to not start hexing one another when disagreements start emerging. But things are progressing and Harry got the chance to learn more about Draco's view of society to have a better understanding outside of the adults' views.

Finally, Harry was approached by Filius if he was interested in dueling lessons, something that Harry admitted to being very interested since the half-goblin was well-known for being a duelist that had worn a few competitions in the past, and was the last British candidate to have entered the international stage and worn it before teaching at Hogwarts. Professor McGonagall also approached him with regards to his Transfiguration, and he was sorely tempted to go further but told the both of them that he wanted some time to consider their offers since he was currently dealing with the upcoming tests from the accelerated learning program, which would determine if he would be allowed to skip the current year and jump to a higher level. Harry really hoped that he could get that over with before considering his options.

A light chime broke his thoughts to alert him that he was coming to the end of his run. With a final push, Harry completed the last few feet before slowing to a jog to get his breathing under control. He checked the stopwatch he had on hand and let out a sigh of content mixed with tiredness. At least he had met his quota but he needed to get better.

Some people would say that he was being too paranoid, but Harry was just being prudent after listening to all the stories from the adults who had interacted with the man and his own observations. For now things were going smoothly but that was only thanks to careful planning from the past 3 years with the adults and the recent events to knock the man off his thinking, and that could only last so long before the old wizard got his rhythm back and started to push back. Harry had no doubt that when that happens, he was going to have a lot of problems. Harry needed more allies and a bucket load of luck to get through the next few years, or at least until he could take on the OWLs sooner if his placement exams worked out.

Right now, he better focus on getting to Christmas without issues.

~ooOOoo~

Albus Dumbledore sighed heavily as his eyes narrowed on the lone boy coming back from whatever odd muggle exercise he was doing, his mind going through many thoughts on all that had happened, most of which were on said boy.

Ever since he failed to contain the news of the troll incursion, he had been getting Howlers from parents demanding why was the security so lax to allow three adult trolls entering into the school, and a notice by the Board of School Governors that he was currently under review with all the recent happenings. The Ministry had brought forward the commission date and more people were coming to inspect how the curriculum was being conducted in Hogwarts. This was vexing since he had been spending time and effort to delay the commission for as long as he could until he could get certain traps in place if not stop the commission altogether. As it was, he was doing what he could to stop the ward specialists from coming over to mess with the wards, not only because it was a thousand year old ward system that could prove catastrophic to take down, he had manipulated some of them to suit his needs, and he did not need them to know what he did.

Albus certainly did not need the Minister acting so smug in making him toe the line while Amelia Bones was doing all she could to disrupt his sanctuary in her feeble attempts to find something other than the third floor corridor that was going to be needing some quick talking. She already found the Cerberus and the plants, and was having her Aurors dismantle the obstacle course he had planned for Harry Potter, while she went about finding anything else that he had let on in the castle.

Thoughts of the woman had him fiddling with his wand in his hand, a sigh coming out of his mouth as he felt out the bond of acceptance and found the bare minimum of it, as though the wand did not acknowledge him to be the master of it anymore.

A fact that deeply aggravated the old wizard.

He chided himself for being so careless as to allow Amelia to disarm him hard of his wand. He was more focused on trying to contain any word of it to the commission and stopping the Potter brat from doing the oath, and in so doing, Amelia Bones unknowingly became the new Master of the Elder Wand, his ace in the hole for many of his plans. He had hoped to go after her from the hospital wing but she was intercepted by one of her Aurors who had returned from the third corridor to tell her of what was found, which she cursed and went ahead to call for backup, apparating out from the castle and returning with more Aurors. He had hoped to catch her again when she came for a follow-up interview with Potter but she was never alone and left quickly after getting her answers. And he dared not leave the premises in case she decided to use one of the laws to detain him in a DMLE Cell.

At the very least, Amelia did not know about the wand's true nature, and he had no intention of letting her. What Dumbledore really needed was to have her alone for a few minutes so that he could disarm her to regain the primacy of the wand's control. But he would need to do that with a backup wand or other methods to do so, as the Elder Wand would not allow him to attack the one it recognized as the wielder.

This was very troublesome, and it was one of many related to his other headache, Harry Potter.

To some extent, the problems occurred roughly after the boy's seventh birthday when he felt the blood wards collapse. It was not the first time it had happened but at those times the boy was unconscious from the corporal punishments so all he had to do was fix him up a bit, cursed the Dursleys to control themselves (and make them more angry at the boy to ensure his compliance), and reset the wards. This time however was different; Albus had arrived with his 'companions' to check on the damage when he felt the oddity, and he could tell that someone had shattered the wards completely with an impressive amount of power. He had to rebuild the rough framework of the blood wards quickly and waited for the boy to return from his muggle school to stun and reconnect him to the wards. But when the boy returned to the house, Dumbledore had the sense that something was wrong, something proven right when one of the others jumped the wand to stun the boy before entering the area, only for the boy to have an accidental magic blast destroying his wards and dismantling their disillusionment charms. He had the feeling the boy saw them but left immediately to recover and prepare for the next time, not liking the amount of power the boy had to destroy the wards through sheer pressure alone.

When he returned for a second time, Dumbledore found the boy was away for some camping trip and took the chance to examine the house before setting up the blood wards again. Dumbledore frowned at the minute traces of magic that were about, it felt different from what the boy normally push out from the necessity of the injuries incurred from the muggles' "teachings", but he did not consider much until a few days later when his devices indicated the return of the boy and the collapse of the wards again. He let out a sigh before apparating to the location only to have his face smashing into a new set of wards that were a lot further out than anticipated. After resetting his nose to its crooked self, Dumbledore tried to analyze the new wards but failed to understand the oddity about it; it was too simple yet too powerful for its construction, and it was clear this was a different type of blood wards that he knew little of. The scale alone was a worrying fact for him as it encompess the entire suburban area, including the school that Harry Potter went to, and then there was the 'pureness' that made his magic scream to get away or be harmed.

Tried as he might, even to this date he could not break the protections, even having a curse breaker check it did not yield as much results as he would like as the curse breaker told him that the barrier was an intent based ward that deemed anyone or anything not of the area as foreign entities to be removed. Compulsion spells on the denizens only work a few feet before getting removed, and three of the people he sent to find the boy got knocked out, and he had to rescue them from the muggle police along with compensating them for the loss of their wands and other items.

And then there was the unexpected interview with the Daily Prophet that got those Howlers sent to him, and him to realize that the news company was under new management with Barnabas Cuffe currently in Azkaban for a number of charges such as bribery, reporting fake news and something else that got Rita Skeeter quiet on her end. To compound on the issue, Gringotts cut away his access to Harry's trust vault, along with reclamation of the Galleons he had taken from the trust vault, rare books and the few artifacts he had procured from the Potters before their demise, the latter half actually happening before his eyes as he read the letter due to the magic being invoked. More worrying was the removal of his silver artifacts that contained Harry's blood to keep an eye on his health, his bindings and the entity he believed to be in the famous scar.

The goblins ended the letter with a warning that he was being investigated for possible allegations and theft of other heirlooms, which they demanded to be returned to them, the Potter boy, or other intended families immediately. His goblin contact did not answer his calls which made him suspect that the goblin had been 'demoted', aka executed for the possible arrangements made between them.

That was a very bad time for him.

Dumbledore however found out through trial and error that he could get access to the Vernon Dursley at his workplace, and decided to pay him a visit with a few bottles for compulsions, rage and heightened strength, before dumping a portkey on him to direct him back to his house around the time he could guess the boy would return, hoping that the resultant attack would do something in place of his missing wards.

That did something, but not quite what he wanted.

There was a minor ICW session that required his attention after he spelled Vernon, so It was a month later that he learned of the arrests of the Dursleys and the disappearance of the boy. Tried as he might, he could not find any information on either groups, and his attempts were getting noticed by Amelia despite his spies in the department hiding them on his behalf. He had no choice but to wait for Harry's eleventh birthday and the letter writing quill to write out the address to see if the boy was even alive.

Roughly 2 years later, he was in the room that held the auto-quill charmed by Rowena Ravenclaw to write out the letters for the potential students to come to Hogwarts, waiting to see the name of the one he seeked. The old wizard had mixed feelings as he watched the auto-quill start up and wrote out 'Privet Drive, The Safehouse' before sending the letter off and moving on to the next recipient.

He was glad that the boy was alive and able to get the letter, not to mention patting himself on the back for applying compulsions on James Potter to sign the academy contract with a modified blood quill to ensure Harry's attendance before his death, otherwise the boy would have certainly skipped town. At the least, the boy needed to come to Hogwarts if he wished to retain the vaults left for him thanks to the laws placed over the years.

On the other hand, Dumbledore was no closer to knowing where the boy was for him to track. He resorted to using the Gemino spell to keep sending letters to Harry so that he could be hounded and hopefully get a location if not answered.

Dumbledore was not pleased to find out that instead of him, Filius had gotten a reply from the boy and supposedly showed him around the alley, although the half-goblin had pointed out that his interview would show that he had been to the alley and hence knew about the magical world. Even his idea of using Hagrid was a no-go for that, along with the goblins confiscating the last copy of the Potter Trust Key and reclaiming even more of the Potter items.

Dumbledore was not pleased when his efforts to get Harry with the bills were railroaded by that bloody lawyer of his, nor the fact that his revoked guardianship was broadcasted so openly. His opponents were certainly eager to learn of that news since he kept dropping Harry's name to gain support. He was extremely unhappy to be denied information on Harry's new guardian by Amelia Bones.

He was Albus Dumbledore, and they should listen to his words!

Dumbledore then resorted to using agents and members of his order to monitor both sides of King's Cross Station to locate the boy, and almost flipped the table when he heard around the afternoon that most of them were arrested by Aurors or the muggle law enforcement for being suspicious. He had no way of monitoring the train, and could only hope that Molly had at least sent her son to try and make some contact with the boy, even if it was for her own selfish plans.

Dumbledore almost choked on his drink when he laid eyes on the boy after so long. He knew that the boy was supposed to look like a malnourished and less confident James Potter based on his previous visits and alteration spells, but it would appear that four to five years being out of sight away from the Dursleys, proper healing, removal of bindings and new guardianship brought out more of the Evans traits and a more serious personality that showed more self confidence than Dumbledore wanted. The old wizard cursed under his breath as he watched a few of the students he had considered to be sent to their 'true' house ended up sorted differently or were missing due to some holdup at the train station, and wanted to call out to the hat when it sorted the Potter boy to Ravenclaw under his real name, only withholding his tongue when Filius and Minerva were keeping an eye on him. If he had any doubts left about the boy knowing his true family history, it got removed at the sorting, and with the clan name of the blasted Evans attached.

His evening only got worse when he and Minerva looked into the students that did not come for the sorting and found out about the arrests of adults going on that delayed them from taking the train, including Molly and Ronald. While the agents arrested by the DMLE were easier to bail out, it took him the better part of the next day to find and bail Molly out of the muggle jail cell, and later Ronald from the juvenile detention building, and then having to obliviate and remove all traces of them from whatever records the muggles have on them. With all of that time wasted, Dumbledore just fast tracked the boy into Gryffindor before setting out to calm the fires from the arrests of his agents. He figured the sorting hat was defective to move the other students to their respective houses despite his 'suggestions'.

Dumbledore spent the next couple of months watching the boy, either directly or his proxies, and he did not like what he was seeing. The boy was very studious and able to keep up with the advanced coursework; the boy kept approaching the students from other houses, and kept an open mind to how the world was supposed to be operated under. Slytherin house was actually on better terms with him than Gryffindor due to how politically savvy he was despite his time in the muggle world, and it was clear to the traditionalist that he embraced a neutral stance towards them and the progressives while open to dialog. The boy even had several conversations with Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott over simple matters, this cannot happen!

It was sadly clear that even if the boy had gone to Gryffindor as he had hoped, there was a high likelihood that Harry would not be friends with Ronald Weasley, although that was up in the air since Molly managed to somehow get herself and the boy arrested at the muggle station. Dumbledore had hoped that if the Wealsey could get closer to Potter, the Weasley's natural greed would have stuck to Harry like a leech long enough to influence him slightly, then depending on the situation, Dumbledore would approach young Ronald to act as a source of information, perhaps around the third or fourth year.

There was absolutely no possible way for the boy to be a spy so early as first year; even he knew how hard it would be for a child to hide their motives, and when it came to the youngest Weasley, that was a disaster waiting to happen. The idea of an eleven year old child pulling off a complicated masquerade to last the entire seven years sounded like bad storytelling, and made him wonder what potion Molly was partaking in to think that her son could somehow get Harry to be his friend to get his wealth.

There was also the problem of the boy's guardianship; from his readings, the Magical Child Services had met with Potter after Vernon attacked the boy and reviewed the credentials of Lord Thornwood before granting him the guardianship on the sly, ensuring no one would challenge them for the three month period, and when Dumbledore had tried to get it back under his hands, the officers dared to laugh at him and waved him off. When Dumbledore got what he wanted, he would make sure those people would not have another job any time soon!

Meeting the man in person for the first time did not help his views on the man. Lord Thornwood reminded Dumbledore of a slightly younger Charlus Potter with a dash of Alastor, with all the subtle tones of a man used to the political playing field and the sharp tongue to tear is opposition down without raising his tone levels. The young man did not appreciate his attempts to discuss the boy's living arrangement, and dared to threaten him with more restrictions and sanctions in front of Cornelius no less. He was forced to swallow whatever arguments and let it be, but silently swore to get certain matters done on the sly.

Dumbledore decided to pause in his overthinking and looked at the paperwork that was on his desk. With a sigh, he sat down at his desk and shuffled through the different parchments and documents detailing whatever Wizengamot matters that required his attention along with school matters that he could not shove off to Minerva. It was tedious work, but he got saddled with the jobs and he needed to be kept on top of matters that could be used to influence other people and to further his goals. The status quo needed to be maintained to ensure no one side would get too uppity without his attention. Dumbledore paused as he found a letter embossed with the Wizengamot Seal, recalling that there was a bi-monthly session that was coming up to handle the low slash medium level criminals. That meant the letter was likely a request to see if he would chair the session along with a list of names to be tried on that day.

Dumbledore opened the letter and looked through the list of names of people on the block, snorting loudly as he finished with the list. None of the people in question were his agents, nor were they of any importance. These people were mostly first-time offenders for whatever related reason, and a couple of others who may have others to bail them out, but all appeared to be a waste of his time to chair the session. He could send the refusal later since there was no definite deadline, and partially to spite Amelia Bones for the tight deadline she laid out in the letter and for the troubles she had given him.

Dumbledore finished up on his papers for the morning and leaned back in his chair to think, his eyes briefly going to the hidden wall where a certain invisibility cloak and a stone were kept under secrecy charms. He would need to rethink some of his plans, but he can still salvage something for this year. Undoubtedly his plans for the obstacle course were gone with the blasted woman messing them up, but he still had the Mirror of Erised tucked away in one of the other rooms he kept secret from the staff, and the stone he had procured from his old mentor was safe in his office since he wanted to consider how to grab the boy's attention to do the tasks. He could still use the mirror to find out what the boy truly desired and perhaps test the boy with a fake stone while he kept the real stone for himself. He even prepared a sob story for Nicolas about how he tried to save the stone only for it to be confiscated and destroyed by the ignorant Amelia Bones.

As for the cloak, he needed to watch the boy to gauge his behavior before he considered handing it over. It was a gamble to place the cloak behind heavy wards, but it was worth the risk of incurring the goblin's wrath to stop it from being reclaimed by goblin magic, and this was no ordinary invisibility cloak. If he was right about the cloak's origins and if he could power the Elder Wand enough to place charms on it, it would be perfect for him to monitor and steer the boy to the desired result, and at the end of it all reclaim the cloak with the excuse that the boy meant for him to have it.

Right now, he had more pressing matters at hand.

The primary one would have to be Quirrell and his tagalong guest. With the amount of dark miasma coming off him the week before the term began, it was clear that Voldemort had arrived at his doorstep by possessing Quirrell and had been biding his time to find the stone. He knew that Quirrell was going to attempt something with trolls leading up to Halloween as he felt the entrance used to bring his trap to the school being active a few times. Dumbledore saw an opportunity to test Harry's resolve by spelling Ronald Weasley to lose his inhibitions to make Hermione Granger flee from his venomous words. (Not that he needed much power to do so, the boy was just that weak-minded and jealous of anyone better than him) He would have preferred compulsing the girl, but Dumbledore had heard and tested the rumored ward system Harry had erected for both the dorm-room and his lab room which, among other functions, could remove or deactivate any spells on the body. There was a bottle of troll essence he had on hand, so with some rearranging of the castle's paths, Dumbledore got Granger into one of the toilets on the second floor that had been laced with the troll essence to ensure the troll would be lured to her location, and he hoped to see what Harry would make of it.

He did not expect the boy to have brought Granger back to the Great Hall, nor was he expecting the number of trolls roaming about the castle freely and destroying the area. He would have thought that Quirrell would release only one troll instead of three to distract them from reaching the corridor, and because of that, he was now in this mess. And because of the education inspectors checking every class, there was a high chance that the possessed professor would be ejected, and with him, a possibly angered Voldemort. And if that happened, there would be no chance for Dumbledore to manipulate the scenes to force an encounter between him and Harry Potter. And that chance was diminishing with the upcoming arrival of the ward inspectors and the possibility of Amelia finding out who based on the vial of blood handed to her by the boy.

Another issue brought him back to his original problem that was Harry Potter. Dumbledore knew the Potter boy had learned of magic at an early age, and the boy had to be powerful enough to cast wandless magic from what he had heard and seen, but witnessing him demonstrate a range of abilities from something similar to Alchemy to what appeared to be war-grade combat spells were damaging to his perceptions and plans, especially when it proved once and for all that the spell bindings and restrictions had been removed. His attempt to cut Harry off from his rescuers by rearranging the corridors and improvising a transparent barrier was both informative and problematic as the boy showed that he had the power to actually go head to head with the troll if required to, and from what he could tell the boy's ability to apparate may not really be apparition at all. He had tried to cast the boy in a bad light to restrict his magic use only to have it rebuffed by the boy's blasted oath, and with Amelia on his side, the old wizard had to pull back.

So in order:

Dumbledore needed to delay the inspectors long enough to retain Quirrell.

Dumbledore needed to keep Harry Potter at a level he could control and in his sights.

Dumbledore needed Harry to meet Voldemort to force his hand.

One way or another, the last Potter will fall under Dumbledore's thumb.

It was after all, for the Greater Good.

~ooOOoo~

(1 day later)

"TADA!" Harry smiled while spreading his arms wide for the others to look about. "Your own personal space. What do you think?" The other children look about the space with nods.

After their first visit to his lab room, Terry and the others approached the professors for a room to study and try out spells, with the condition that they could all get together as opposed to being restricted by houses. They focused that request towards Filius and Sprout who were more than willing to find them a good spot for them to work in, although that got slightly sidetracked from the troll incursion since the trolls were particularly aggressive and went about smashing their classrooms and corridors. Thankfully most were empty or abandoned, so when it came time to repair, Filius had the idea of getting Harry to help with the repairs and to create the study space for his friends, giving him carte blanche to do the remodeling provided he did not take up too much space. In exchange, Harry would be 'upgraded' to another room for his personal work.

Harry was very motivated to say the least. A bigger room with better facilities for his experiments? He would remodel the entire level if he must!

Two hours worth of fixing all the broken corridors and rooms later, Harry spent the next hour combining and remodeling the spaces of three demolished classrooms, two storage closets, a couple of old restrooms, with some advice from Filius and the house elf on hand, Harry had created a new room for himself and his friends for them to study and work in. He had cordoned off different parts of the newly made space based on their different expertise: one corner for potions, another corner for herbology, a bigger area for Transfigurations and Charms, etc. Harry managed to ask the house elves for some furniture and they delivered quickly, so the room was not as barren as before.

Some of them looked very nice, he needed to ask those elves where to find them.

"This is great!" Hermione looked around the room, her mind clearly going through different ideas for what to be done here.

"It is certainly big enough for us." Blaise commented as he hummed. "We should be able to do a fair bit of studying and experimenting here."

"Enough talking! Time for some home decorating ideas!" At Parvati's words, the other girls congregated to her as one while the boys instinctively moved to another spot with shivers down their spine. Harry himself did not know why he did it but knew to stay away.

"While they do that, why don't we decide what subjects to do and where to do them along with the necessary equipment?" Justin asked as a way of distracting themselves from the girl talk, not helping with the squeals that came from them every few seconds.

"That spot has been marked out for potions." Theo pointed to where Harry helpfully made the area for them. "I think we can fit roughly five regular size cauldrons along with small tables. Six if you want to risk overcrowding."

"That spot is ideal for Herbology." Harry gave a wry smile at the comment from their budding Herbologist looking over the spot marked out for him. "Plenty of sun from the windows with a small niche for those preferring darkness, and even the small room for specific conditions."

"Let's have this spot as our reading area!" Hermione zoomed over to where Terry pointed to, her eyes gauging the floor size for what she was probably envisioning a big study area with cupboards of books. Somehow, Harry got the feeling they would need a different room altogether to handle the bibliophile, let alone the others.

Maybe the room next door? No one was using that.

"Harry?" Oh dear, said bibliophiles had hopeful eyes directed at him at the moment. "Can we have another room?"

"I might try to ask the professor." Harry raised his arms to hold off their requests for the time being.

"How about our spell casting?" Susan asked while turning her head. "The room is big, that much is clear. But I don't think we can all do it here at the same time without destroying whatever we will store here."

"Right this way, Miss Bones." Harry led her and the group to the other half of the room where he marked the location out. "Here is where I planned to have us practicing our spell casting. There is enough space for us to do Transfiguration and Charms, and there are simple target boards for us to practice our aim. Over there." Harry pointed to the door near their spot "Is another room where we can perform some of the harder or destructive spells. However, that particular spellcasting has to be done under the supervision of our professors or selected representatives to ensure we do not lose control of the spells or perform any illegal spells. Professor Flitwick has offered to do so when he has the time."

"Damn, we lucked out." Justin was beaming like the sun. "I can't wait to use this room for studies, especially as a getaway from the terror twins."

"Hey!" The Patil twins gave a mock expression of outrage with hands on hips as one.

"Not you two, you girls are great." Justin waved his hands at them. "I meant the Weasley Twins. Those two appeared to be gunning for us for the past week."

"Because we have been avoiding their potions and traps, not to mention putting them on the spot for the possible pranks during Halloween." Terry kicked back in the chair provided in the room. "They seemed to think that anyone who keeps avoiding them are targets that must be pranked to maintain their pride." Terry turned to Harry on this. "Knowing you, you are going to add your security to this room."

"Way ahead of you, Terry." Harry smiled at that. "I have already copied over the same spells and wards used in my old lab-room, and added on a few extras based on my last discussion with Madam Bones. We also have something of a gantry system being made along the corridor to help do the initial filtering to ensure no one else attempts to enter the room with bad intentions. Once we confirm the number of people coming here, I can add in crowd control restrictions to make sure we are accounted for and to ensure no one attempts to attack us."

"Oh sweet Merlin, he must not meet Uncle Alastor. Like ever." Susan muttered while shivering. Harry figured that he should not tell her that he may have sent out feelers to see who was this Auror that everyone talked about.

He will meet this Alastor Moody one way or another, damn it!

(Unknown to Harry, several people in the castle felt chills down their spines without reason, and in London, one Auror apprentice was cursing at the sudden energy being displayed by her one-eyed senior as he pushed her through his idea of an obstacle course, all while exclaiming his favorite catchphrase, while a certain Head of DMLE, Minister of Magic, a Pink Toad, and several others in the Ministry were feeling the urge to drink themselves to oblivion.)

"Hermione, is there a problem?" Harry asked, noting the girl looking slightly sad as she looked around the room. "Has Weasley done something to you again?" The girl shook her head.

"Not that, I just wish there was something similar back home for me to practice and maybe show my parents what I have learned." Hermione sighed as she looked down. "My parents were thinking of sending me to one of the local high schools, so the invitation from Hogwarts caught them off guard. I really want to show them, but with the laws on showing magic, that is a problem." That got the mood down for the mundane-raised, something Harry could understand a little having read up on the laws. Magic was not meant to be shown or used on the normal folks to ensure the stature of secrecy was upheld. The problem with it was it not being updated often since the stature was started, and the wording could be abused heavily by the higher-ups who do have the stupid pure-blood mentality. Not helped since the mundane-raised or new-gen students were only granted a general overview of the law before setting them loose to get into trouble with the Aurors and the department that deals with magical misuse. If he recalled correctly, there were a number of supervisors leading the department over the years that were decidedly pro-pureblood.

Very troublesome.

"I never really thought of it before. You guys do have a rough deal." Tracey mentioned from her seat. "I am a half-blood but at least I have some place to practice if needed. You guys would have to go to Diagon Alley or a place with heavy wards to do your practice."

"It is a problem." Susan crossed her arms and looked at her feet with a frown. "I never considered that anyone who is muggle-raised would be disadvantaged during the summers or times when you are outside. The laws are stacked against you."

"There may be a slight workaround for that law you are talking about." Harry directed an apologetic expression towards Susan as the children the law applied to turned as one at his words. "You cannot use your wand to cast magic as there is a trace connected to it. Nothing stops you from using wandless magic, practicing potions or etching runes, provided you are careful and you are with your parents or guardians who know about magic. Furthermore, since you are under the foundation, there are some other workarounds provided your families had read their contracts properly." Harry barely blinked when Lisa, Hermione and Su appeared in front of him with clasped hands, the girls putting on the lost puppy eye expression.

"Harry?"

Oh no, the girls were doing the dreaded lip trembling and whining. At least they did not put on tears.

"Very well, I will tell you more in detail later along with a list." Harry raised his arms while looking at the ceiling in defeat, his eyes twitching at the sounds of the girls cheering blatantly.

"Dude, you are so whipped." Blaise and Theo patted his shoulders in mocking pity. Harry directed a glare at the two boys which got ignored and smirks in reply.

"Harry, what about your lab room?" Neville asked as he looked about their area. "I just had a thought that you would need to travel a bit to get to us."

"Ah, that's the best part of the deal for me." Harry smiled. "Because of my progress and the troll attacking the corridor where the labs were, Professor Flitwick was willing to upgrade me early in the year, provided I helped out with the restoration of classrooms and created this space for you. Since this corridor is not used by anyone else for now, my new lab is a few doors down. So we can bump into each other often."

"Sweet." Michael nodded. "If we are lucky, we can have the entire corridor to ourselves."

"Personal library!" Hermione squealed with Su, Lisa and Padma looking very interested.

"Personal greenhouse!" Susan and Neville cheered at Sally's suggestion.

"Maybe a movie room?" Justin hummed at the possibility.

"Best we set everything up in the room before considering expansion?" Terry motioned with his hand raised. That got everyone chuckling with a few blushing from the reminder.

"First make a list of what we need before we get help." Harry instructed as he thought of his own requirements. "I can ask the professor later about the furniture like last time. I do want to know where they are kept so that I can find them on my own next time. Oh, and not to burst your bubble on free rooms, but there are some rooms reserved for others for their OWLs and NEWTS. So depending on our numbers and requirements, the most they might allow would be a smaller room."

"No personal library?" Oh good lord, Hermione looked like someone killed a puppy in front of her.

"Let me try to ask the professor before getting our hopes up." Harry repeated to her, her reply being a sigh. Harry looked at his watch and hummed. "Better finish up, lunch time is coming up." That got everyone together to write down what they wanted for their combined room, with a few arguing the necessities of certain bits.

Hermione really wanted a room strictly for books. Harry ought to warn Filius on this before the young lady got it in her head to request it herself.

After that, the group of students left the room, with the Hufflepuffs moving ahead first to get their books for the next lesson. Slytherin students went next to avoid getting harassed by others from their own house or people like Ron Weasley. Only the Ravenclaws and the two Gryffindor girls were still in a group as they went to the Great Hall.

"I can't wait for the room to be set up." Michael looked about the corridor and the open rooms as though considering other possible additions. "It would be nice if we can get the other rooms next to us."

"If you genuinely want that, you may have to register them under your name like I am doing with my assigned lab-room." Harry reminded them as he looked at his notes for possible additions to his new room. "If you can provide results, Professor Flitwick can get you the room if necessary."

"I will do that!" Michael clenched his fist with fire in his eyes, and looking about, the others had a similar look. Hermione for one looked ready to take on anything to get her own room for her own studies and experiments. and Harry had no doubt that she could do it. Speaking of which.

"How are you settling in with Ravenclaw?"

"Well, it is certainly a lot more cohabitable than Gryffindor. I can actually discuss my work with you guys without Weasley trying to grab my work or people looking down on me for wanting to read a book." Hermione was really passionate in saying that. "I am not sure about some of the upper year students though, some seemed standoffish like Roger Davies, and then there is Cho Chang. Something about her makes me feel off?"

"That we get it." Padma and Su nodded at that with Lisa offering an eyebrow and the boys looking at them weirdly.

"Why do you feel that? She seems nice." Terry remarked.

"Pretty too." Michael muttered softly.

"Oh, you boys." The Asian girls humped before turning to Harry. "What about you, Harry?"

"I have no opinion." Harry raised his hands, feeling the hair at the back of his neck standing slightly. Padma raised her eyebrow at that answer.

"She keeps coming to you for a chat, even if we are in the middle of a conversation." Something in her tone was setting off the alarm bells in Harry's head for some reason despite his intent ward not being activated. Su, Lisa and Parvati had that expression that females seemed to have to agree on something, while Hermione had the figurative "light bulb turned on" expression, and Michael and Terry were confused.

"I merely tell her quickly what she needed before continuing with your talk." Harry spoke that out. The Indian girl looked at him briefly before sighing. Harry heard Lisa say something about denseness but he had no idea what they were talking about.

"By the way, how are you going on with preparations regarding the advancement exams?" Harry asked to change the subject. Not to anyone's surprise, Hermione answered first.

"I have been working ahead on my studies, I think I can reach the second year. But oh! What if I failed the exam, would I be kicked out of school?" Harry and Terry reached out to hold her shoulders as one.

"Hermione, you do not need to worry. You won't be kicked out, just retained at your current year until the next advancement test." Harry answered. "And from what I have seen so far with our homework, I do not believe you will have that much of a problem." That calmed her down a little.

"Relax girl, this is not the end of the world. If you do not pass the advancement exams, it just means you need more time to revise for higher levels." Terry gave his thoughts which helped a bit more. "On my part, I think I can handle second year, definitely not third year just yet since my transfiguration is a mess."

"Same, though mine is in Herbology." Su gave her answer with the others giving their own ideas before all turned to look at Harry.

"I would prefer to let the examiners handle my placement." Harry merely gave that reply. "My knowledge for the different subjects are all over the years, and from what I understand, the examiners would look at the grades as a whole before assigning the grade. I know that my Astronomy is not as strong as my Charms or Transfiguration, and History is not really considered much as opposed to Potions. My runes are also a different curriculum to the elective being taught here, so I won't know what will happen."

"I think you can get higher than us since you did start out with the program first." Padma remarked at that.

"We won't know until the new year. For now, we really need to get lunch before our lesson with Professor McGonagall." Harry was about to move alongside them when a chime from his pocket drew his attention to it, reaching into the pocket to pull out a small disc. Looking at it while tapping a corner, Harry frowned at the positive result and looked around him.

"You coming, Harry?" Terry called out to him.

"Yeah, on the way." Harry placed the disc back in his pocket and continued forward with the others, pausing at the end of the corridor to look about him once more before moving on. Unseen by him and the others, a fat rat with graying fur and a missing toe on its front paw came out from one of the rooms, looked to the side as it tweaked its nose before moving to the other end of the corridor where the other rooms were.