I am humbled by your response. I thought people would forget about this story after a yearlong hiatus but you all warmed my heart. Thank you.
Please put out a prayer for the soul of my Paternal Grandfather who passed away from Spinal Cancer at the age of ninety. I was almost going to take another hiatus due to how sudden it was as he was very healthy, but thankfully, I'm still around.
So, without further ado, onwards and upwards with Chapter four!
For The Greater Good
Chapter 4 – Sleepwalking
Albus Dumbledore's POV
Tuesday, 1st September, 1987 (After dinnertime – Nurmengard, Austrian Alps, Austria)
This was his sixth visit here.
As the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, he was bestowed with a great level of authority in Magical Britain's Government and abroad. He was the reason Gellert had been defeated, and it wasn't like he hadn't visited him before.
In nineteen fifty six, Norbert had started attending Hogwarts. For years he had avoided visiting Nurmengard, and he was afraid Gellert would lash out at him and divulge the truth about Ariana… and he feared the truth. He feared that it was his killing curse which struck his dear sister, and Gellert's which had missed its mark.
To his credit, Gellert made no mention of that day which still haunted him. He had politely greeted him, they talked for hours upon hours, and most of their conversations had revolved around his young charge.
His second visit had been in nineteen sixty three, when Norbert had both recently graduated from Hogwarts.
Norbert had refused to have anything to do with his father as he had grown into a fine adult. He had faced great prejudice as the infamous son of the greatest Dark Wizard in history up till then, and it had changed him. Even when he got married and when Robert was born, he didn't so much as send a letter.
Albus understood that and respected his wishes, but that didn't mean he had to do the same.
The third had been in nineteen seventy five, when Norbert married Lucretia. The fourth a year later, in nineteen seventy six, when Robert had been born.
Despite Gellert's crimes, Albus had not been able to forget him, and he was sure that had it not been for Norbert's birth and him being anointed his Godfather in the aftermath of their duel, he wouldn't have visited Gellert at all, but there was a familial link between them.
Nurmengard was a gigantic, towering building made of obsidian rocks and with high walls. It was a jet-black, forbidding, and a grim fortress. It was the ancestral castle of the Grindelwald family, the last vestige of Godric Gryffindor's descendants in existence. The Grindelwald family was of mixed English, Austrian, Hungarian, and German ancestry which made its fortunes through wars and mercenary work in the medieval ages and built Nurmengard at the peak of its power nearly five centuries ago. After Gellert's unsuccessful rebellion, all of their properties outside of Magical Britain had been seized as compensation for the war, with Nurmengard serving as Gellert's jail.
It wasn't certain what would be the castle's fate after Gellert's eventual passing, but he could bet that Nozéa and Robert would strive to enforce his rights to it as the Lord of House Grindelwald. They will have my support, regardless of what the Austrian Ministry of Magic may claim. Nurmengard falls under the ICW's jurisdiction, after all.
He had traveled via portkey to the prison, where he had been received by the Warden who personally escorted him to for his scheduled meeting after the formal requirements for his entry were met.
Gellert was imprisoned in the top-most cell in the highest tower inside Nurmengard after his defeat. His cell had a small window, too narrow for a man to leave or enter, a hard bed, and a ragged, thin blanket. It was a dark and ominous room.
On that bed sat his old rival. He was handcuffed, the Admonitor worked to alert the guards about any use of magic, but even the ICW knew it was for ceremonial purposes. He could easily escape after breaking free from the Admonitor. Even without a wand, Gellert had many means to utilise magic and its many forms. Wandless magic and Legilimency were as natural to him as they were for himself. It was by his own desire that his friend was caged in Nurmengard, for nothing could contain wizards like them.
That, and because Albus would put him back inside if he ever escaped.
"Brother. What news do you bring this time?" Gellert's raspy voice greeted him from inside the cell as he nodded at the Warden who left to give them privacy. There weren't any security concerns with him present there. As far as the authorities were concerned, Nurmengard was the safest place on the face of the earth with him around.
There was a barely detectable undertone of sorrow within his voice. Six years ago he had been shell shocked into silence when the news of Norbert's death had reached him, and although he did not rage and try to escape like Albus feared he might, the news of his son and daughter-in-law's death had broken him, even if he had never seen or held Norbert for more than a few days before his defeat.
Perhaps tonight's news could give him some semblance of joy again?
"Brother. I bring good news." He greeted back before wandlessly conjuring a chair for himself to sit on.
Gellert seemed curious, "Let's hear it, then."
Albus shook his head, "No, old friend. This time, you will see get to see." Gellert's eyes widened as Albus pulled out a miniature Pensieve from within his robes and transfigured it into its original size before he placed it upon the bed.
He also placed two boxes of flasks filled with memories, one had the initials N.A.G., while the other had the initials R.N.G. The first box contained Norbert's memories and Albus's memories of his late godson, and the second contained Albus's memories of Robert.
Gellert's eyes glistened as he looked at the initials.
Most men in his position would have no control over their emotions, and Albus was sure that he himself wouldn't be able to control himself as well as Gellert, but his friend wasn't the greatest Occlumens in history without good reason. Albus both admired and feared that ability.
Norbert might have decided to never visit his father, and Albus respected that decision, but he had also decided to hand over his memories to his son right before his death. Memories which he had instructed Robert to hand over to none other than Albus himself. He most likely intended Robert to view them when he grew older, but seeing Gellert more isolated, lonely, caged, broken, punished after each visit… mercy prevailed over his wrath and he made this decision, for which he would ask forgiveness from Norbert in the afterlife if he had to, but for once he would disrespect someone's wishes without any regrets.
Albus smiled at Gellert, "Now then... which particular memory would you like to see first?" As Gellert reached forward with the barest of tremble in his hand towards the first box, Albus felt at peace for the first time in a long time.
For once, he would have dreams without his regrets haunting him, he was sure of it.
His parents, Ariana, Aberforth, James, Lily, Harry, Norbert, Lucretia, fallen friends... even Tom.
None would haunt him tonight.
Clara Martyris' POV
Wednesday, 3rd September, 1987 (After Breakfast – Charms Classroom, Hogwarts, Scotland, Great Britain)
She was to share a dorm with Carey and Samantha, and she couldn't be more pleased with her luck. They were both pretty, intelligent, and kind, although Samantha was bit reserved for her tastes, it only made it more exciting. Among the boys, Borgin and Rob were decent enough; one was funny and mischievous like a bad boy, while the other was mysterious, cool, charming, and as the students were told, their timetables were provided to them at breakfast, and the first year Slytherins and Gryffindors had Charms for their first Professor, Filius Flitwick, was an old man of very small stature with a shock of white hair, and he wore green robes with a pointy hat.
The classroom had three rows of desks, all facing the teacher's table, behind which sat a large upholstered chair with a high back. Two blackboards flanked the teacher's table, and behind them was a small shelf with books and other objects, beneath a pair of windows.
As she pondered over where to sit while other students picked their seats, Samantha pointed towards the far end of the third row, where Rob and Borgin were already sitting. Rob didn't give her the impression of a back bencher, but she'd have picked the same seat if she were him.
They greeted the boys with smiles which were reciprocated, and quickly sat down as Professor Flitwick announce that class would start within two minutes. It was then that she suddenly realised something…
Where was Carey?
"Have you seen Carey?" she turned to look at Rob with a confused expression, at which he grew slightly concerned which she discerned from his eyes widening in surprise. Samantha was confused, too, while Borgin looked curious.
"When we woke up for breakfast, she wasn't in our room. Samantha and I presumed she got ready ahead of us. She wasn't there for breakfast either, we again assumed she had something to do like post a letter back home, and that we'll meet here for class." She worriedly and hurriedly whispered.
"But she isn't here, either." Rob finished as he looked around the class and found no sight of her. Just then, class started and Rob signaled her that they'll look for her afterwards.
"Good morning and welcome to Hogwarts, first years! It is my honour that your first class is with me, where we'll formally begin your magical education. Believe me, I'm even more excited than you are!" Professor Flitwick was a jovial fellow, and his easygoing nature put quick smiles on the faces of the more nervous students. "Now, I'm thinking of starting with a different spell this year, just to give you that extra sliver of enthusiasm for Charms." Oh? "Who can tell me the name of the spell one would use to give flight to an object? Remember, good academic performance in your classes will earn you House Points."
She immediately raised her hand. "Yes, miss?" The Professor turned to look in their direction.
"Clara Martyris, Professor; the Levitation Charm."
"Very good Miss Martyris; five points for Slytherin." That pleased her. Earning points for her house on her very first day in her very first class was an achievement in her eyes. "Another question, Miss Martyris if you will; can you please tell us the incantation?"
"Wingardium Leviosa." That earned her another five points. Her fellow Slytherins appreciated that with nods. Except Rowle's group, who it seemed were still a bit disgruntled by their interaction on the train, but that wasn't anyone's fault. She tried not to pay much attention to them.
"Excellent, Miss Martyris, it seems you've read up in advance. That will serve you well. Now," the Professor clapped his hands and a feather appeared in front of each student on their desks, "You know the incantation and the wand movement is a swish and a flick. Go on, give it a try. The first student who manages it will earn ten points for their House."
Before any of the students could begin to move their wands, the feather on Rob's desk started levitating, and it caught everyone by surprise. Professor Flitwick looked shocked.
Rob was smoothly waving his wand in the air, but wait, she didn't hear him say in the incantation out loud.
"Splendid! Absolutely splendid! Mr. Grindelwald, in all my decades of teaching I've never heard of a first year casting a Nonverbal spell in their first year except a handful, but in their very first class? Take twenty points for Slytherin, young man. Well done!"
That got everyone else excited, and all of them tried to cast the charm nonverbally, but they weren't able to move the feather even an inch off of the table. They all gave up eventually, and it was a Gryffindor, Percy Weasley, and Samantha who were the first able to cast the spell at the same time but verbally. Each earned their House ten points. The others were able to cast the spell verbally right after them.
The lesson continued on, and Professor Flitwick went over the syllabus for the end of year exams, answered their questions, and soon the bell rang, signaling the end of a very memorable first class.
All four of them moved in unison towards their Professor who greeted them with a smile. "Professor, could we have another moment of your time, please?" Rob asked.
"Of course, Mr. Grindelwald. How may I help you?"
"We're worried about our friend, Carey Ductu, sir. She's been missing since last night." Professor Flitwick gained a serious look for just a moment.
"She's in the Hospital Wing on the seventh floor. She's recuperating, but safe." The Hospital Wing?! Why?!
"What happened to her, sir?" Samantha asked. Professor Flitwick sighed.
"You all know of the Curse Vaults by now, do you?" Clara and the rest nodded. Some older Slytherins had helped them catch up to date with the dangers around Hogwarts. "The Third Vault has been tampered with, and it unleashed the Sleepwalking curse last night."
"Did it effect Carey?" Borgin asked, a quite serious expression on his face. Curse were his domain, his family business.
"And two other students, too. One of them, a fourth year Ravenclaw Tulip Kurasu, was found by Hagrid wandering in the direction of the Forbidden Forest. Fortunately, she hit her head on a branch and the curse was broken. Carey tripped on a piece of rock in the courtyard and was found by Mr. Filch. Both have a slight concussion, but there's nothing to worry about. Under Madam Pomfrey's care, all three will be as good as new soon!" he assured them, and Clara was inclined to believe him.
Clara sighed in relief, "Thank you, Professor." All of them nodded at him and he nodded back before they turned towards the door to go visit Carey during their free period.
Robert Grindelwald's POV
Wednesday, 3rd September, 1987 (Morning – Charms Classroom, Hogwarts, Scotland, Great Britain)
"Mr. Grindelwald?" Professor Flitwick's voice stopped Rob in his tracks, "May I have a few moments of your time? Your friends can go on and visit Ms. Ductu."
Rob looked towards Borgin and the girls and gave them a nod as they left the classroom. He'd visit Carey on his own, then.
Professor Flitwick gave him a glowing smile, "I had heard you were talented, young man, but this was a bit unexpected. Where did you learn Nonverbal magic from?"
Rob returned the smile, "My Godfather, Nicholas Flamel, started training me since I had my first case of accidental magic when I was seven years old. I've been practicing Nonverbal and Wandless magic since the past six months."
The Professors eyes and smile widened, the sheer joy Rob saw on his face warmed his heart with pride, "Truly? That is exceptional talent, Mr. Grindelwald. I presume, then, that you know far more magic than your peers?"
Rob grinned sheepishly, "I've covered everything up to fourth year in advance, and I'm reading on fifth year material with the hope of completely covering it before summer holidays. I can cast all first and second year spells nonverbally but wandless spells still give me trouble with some second year spells but I can cast them."
There was a strong glint of curiosity in the eyes of the Professor now, "Can you show me?" He transfigured a mechanical Death Eater dummy. "Cast the disarming charm. Verbally, nonverbally, and wandlessly."
Rob turned to face the dummy, got into a formal duelling stance and cast the spell, "Expelliarmus!" a dazzling flash of scarlet light and an invisible force struck the dummy's face first, a perfect hit.
Another flash of scarlet light followed and the dummy was struck on its chest, only this time there was no incantation.
"Well done, Mr. Grindelwald! Now, for the final trial."
Rob unsheathed his wand, and concentrated fully on the form of the spell. A flash of red light indicated the disarming charm, and he imagined it starting its route from the beginning of his arm, he felt it travel down his arm, and his arm shook from the strain. Casting spells nonverbally and wandlessly at the same time was still very hard for him. Maybe I should say the incantation out loud? The strain is still too much for me, I need more practice.
No. This was practice, and he could not embarrass himself in front of his Professor. The magic had reached his fingers and it was then that he unleashed it.
The force was too powerful, and it struck the dummy hard enough to leave a crack across its chest. Had it been a human, a few ribs would have been broken.
Rob could not maintain his balance, and he fell down on his knees. His arm ached and his knees groaned.
"Mr. Grindelwald, are you alright?!" Professor Flitwick rushed to his side and helped him up, "I wasn't expecting you to be able to cast it nonverbally AND wandlessly!"
The young Slytherin groaned in discomfort, "It was something that I wanted to try for a while now, but I never got around to accomplish. Your presence served as a motivator, but it seems I have a lot of work to do."
Professor Flitwick nodded, "Hard work is something that will always benefit you, Mr. Grindelwald. It certainly was the reason that allowed me to become a Duelling Champion." That got Rob's interest.
"Did you know my father, sir?" The Professor smiled nostalgically.
"Of course, I did. Everyone knew Norbert Grindelwald, the entire magical world had heard of him; the youngest British, European, and World Duelling Champion in history. He won the Inter-House and Inter-School Duelling Championships from his very first year till his fourth year, and from then on, the U17 British, European and World Championships till his seventh year. From then onwards, he conquered the Duelling realm in totality."
"Twelve times British Duelling Champion, his first at age twenty one, eight times European Duelling Champion, his first at twenty three, and four times World Duelling Champion in a row." Rob added.
Professor Flitwick beamed, "I take it you're intrigued by Duelling, too? Have you been formally instructed in the art by Lord Flamel?" Rob nodded. The Duelling Champion turned towards his bookshelf, and summoned a tome which he presented to Rob. "This is a book on wandless magic that helped me a lot when I first started learning the fabled art, and it will help you a lot with overcoming your difficulties. Once you've finished this book and are able to prove to me your mettle in the Inter-House Duelling Championship by winning, I will formally become your sponsor if you so choose."
Rob's eyes widened. Really? "It would be an honour, Professor! Thank you very much."
Professor Flitwick chuckled, "You'd have to win first for that, and the incumbent Champion, Joseph Scamander, is a prodigious talent who's won it twice in a row, now. He also won the Inter-School Championship last year."
"I don't mind a nice workout, sir." They shared a laugh at that.
"Feel free to come up to me anytime with any questions about that tome. Magical theory and history is a core fundamental of understanding wandless magic, so you'll have to devote some extra time to it. The spells in that book are difficult, but also can be dangerous if used unwisely. I trust you'll be careful with it?" For just a moment, the diminutive man cast a giant's shadow over him with his serious look, and he nodded in response. And just as fast as he felt his presence, it was gone, just like that.
"Take thirty points for Slytherin, Mr. Grindelwald. Your demonstration has thoroughly impressed me." Then, Rob excused himself after thanking the Professor once again and made his way to the infirmary.
Reaching the infirmary didn't take him much time, each period lasted an hour, and twenty minutes of his free period were spent already. Well spent, though. That left nearly thirty minutes for him to visit Carey after adjusting for ten minutes in reaching the seventh floor from where he was on the third floor through the grand staircase and then to the first floor for Defense Against The Dark Arts (D.A.D.A).
Rob pushed past the double doors and saw many rows of beds with white sheets, privacy screens and bedpans. The windows were open, illuminating the ward with sunlight, giving the curtains golden glow and a very cozy appearance in general. It eased his mind by just being there, and perhaps that was the point of it all.
A Gryffindor student with a sickly appearance and covered massive bite marks and scratches lay on one bed. He was only able to get a brief look before the matron put up the privacy screen.
Carey was talking to an older girl on the bed next to her whom he presumed to be Tulip Kurasu. She had brown eyes, fair skin, red hair and black eyebrows. Maybe she dyed her hair? Or maybe she dyed her brows?
"Finally found some time out of you busy schedule, Lord Grindelwald?" Carey teased with a smile as Rob approached her bed.
He returned her grin, "Oh you know, peasants to meet, appearances to keep; tis my burden to carry." He finished with a dramatic sigh, making Carey giggle and Tulip to chuckle. "How are you, Carey? And you, Miss Kurasu? I'm Robert Grindelwald." He introduced himself.
"I'm well, thanks for asking. Please, call me Tulip." He nodded at her in agreement, but before they could continue, another presence announced themselves.
"Hey Tulip." An older Hufflepuff boy the same age as Tulip came to stand next to him. He was tall for his age, had brown hair and hazel eyes. He had a kind smile and a worried look on his face with concern for Tulips' wellbeing, and as Tulip started talking to him, Rob turned to Carey and pulled up a chair to sit close to her.
"Hey." He smiled at her and she smiled back. He grabbed her hand in his, making Carey's smile widen, "I'm not dying, Rob."
"I know, I just read in Witch Weekly that girls like to hold hands."
Carey snorted at that, "You read Witch Weekly?"
"No I just made it up to make you snort, did it amuse you?"
Rob told her about Charms class, how alongside Clara and Samantha, they had managed to earn Slytherin seventy points on the first class of their first day. He also told her about his conversation with Professor Flitwick. She was shocked that he was able to cast nonverbal and wandless magic with some spells and was on his way to learn how to use both simultaneously, but pointed out that he had an edge over them all due to his years of prior training, which he understood. He still had a long way to go.
Carey groaned, "I can't believe I'll be missing out on all my classes today. I feel fine but Madam Pomfrey wants me to stay till dinner just in case there are any after effects of the curse or if it returns. I'll have to catch up with you guys, now."
"Don't worry about catching up, I'll help you." Carey smiled in appreciation at that. She gained a thoughtful look on her face. "What?" Rob asked.
"An idea came to mind, let me know what you think of it." At Rob's encouragement she went on, "If you, Clara and Samantha were able to impress Professor Flitwick so much that you were able to earn Slytherin seventy points on your first day, what if you try impressing the other Professors, too? We could make a lot of points for Slytherin, and it could earn us favor with the 'higher ups', if you get my point."
Rob blinked. I hadn't thought of that. She's very smart and ambitious. "How long could we keep it up? Wouldn't that create an unbalance if they give us points every time we answers questions correctly? The other houses would claim unfairness. And the Professors would just stop asking us to answer at some point." He countered and Carey nodded in agreement before she smiled after a moment.
"Take turns. We'll form a rotational system for each class, in D.A.D.A, you could take the lead, while in Potions, Samantha could, and in Charms, Clara could, while in Transfiguration, I could take the lead. We can switch this system every day or so, and sponge as many points as we can from every class we can, for as long as we can. You're right that at some point they'll just stop asking us questions or stop handing out points freely, but until then we'd have made quite an impact. It'll put us in the limelight in Slytherin." Carey went on.
Rob looked at her incredulously, "Did you really think up of all that right now?" Carey smiled.
"I did." Rob smiled back.
"I think you're a Goddamn genius, Carey Ductu."
She smirked, "I aim to please, my Lord." She laughed at his snort at that.
Tulip and the boy started talking about the Cursed Vault at that moment, and both turned their attention towards him. Carey was curious about what was going on, and despite her smiles and laughter, Rob knew that she was scared inside, and her brush with death made her really nervous.
He knew… because he'd have done the same in her situation. He was no stranger to masks.
"I just don't understand why the curse sends sleepwalkers there." The boy wondered.
"I've wondered the same thing since the last time this curse befell Hogwarts." Rob turned to see who it was, that voice was familiar. It was Madam Rakepick walking in their direction before she came to stand at in the middle of Carey and Tulips beds.
"You were eavesdropping on us?" the boy bluntly asked the older witch without fear, something which Rob respected. She was an intimidating woman.
Madam Rakepick didn't mind it, though. Honestly, it looks like she respects him for it. This isn't a woman who has time for weakness. "You were discussing the Cursed Vaults. I made it clear that the vaults are my primary concern. And that they are no longer a concern of yours."
The boy looked annoyed, I have to find the vaults to find out what happened to my brother! So it IS my concern." He stood his ground and Madam Rakepick nodded. Just like that?
"Then it's in your best interest to help me." Ah. So that's what she's here for. Recruitment.
"I thought you wanted us to stay out of your way?" Tulip asked but Madam Rakepick shook her head.
"There are ways you can help me without getting in my way. What do you say, Mr. Scamander? Will you help me find the Cursed Vaults?"
Scamander looked at the veteran curse breaker with a determined look in his eyes, "I'll help you find the vaults by doing what I did to find the last two myself. You just need to promise not to interfere." I like him. He's got spirit. And balls.
Madam Rakepick chuckled, "I try not to make promises, Mr. Scamander. They are much easier to break than curses. Now, if you'll excuse us, I'd like to speak to Miss Karasu and Miss Ductu about their sleepwalking incidents in private." That was the first time she looked at Rob, but before he could say anything or move, Carey and Tulip assured him and Scamander that they'd find them after talking to Madam Rakepick.
"You, what is your name?" Madam Rakepick asked Rob. What interest does she have in me?
"Robert Grindelwald, Madam." She smiled in… recognition, was it? She knows me? But I've never met her nor heard of her, nor did anyone ever mention her to me.
"I knew your father, well, I competed against him a few times in the British, European and World Duelling Championships. I wasn't able to beat him, but I definitely made him work for it. Only a handful could push him hard, to be frank. Anyways, I'm digressing," she looked at Rob at Scamander again, as if judging them. "When I'm done, I'll like to see you on the Training Grounds. If you're going to help me find the Cursed Vaults, you're going to learn some new spells."
"What makes you think I'm qualified to help you? And what makes you think I'm interested in finding them like him?" Rob asked at which the curse breaker laughed sarcastically.
"If you're anything like you're father, I don't need to worry about you being in my way. And you really expect me to believe the other part of what you just said?"
Before leaving for D.A.D.A, Rob got the other boy's name. His name was Joseph Scamander, the grandson of the famous Newton Scamander.
Joseph, or Joe as he liked to be called by friends, was very open about himself. His elder brother, Jacob Scamander, was expelled for having tampered with the Cursed Vaults during his final year and endangering the students. One student, Duncan Ashe, was killed and returned as a ghost. His brother's expulsion and running away from their home caused quite the scandals which were covered in The Daily Prophet. Finding his brother was his top priority in life, and Rob respected him for his devotion to family.
Reaching the third floor didn't take him much time. Class was supposed to begin in five minutes, and Rob entered to room to find a seat next to Samantha towards the front of the class. Apparently she doesn't have a preference for sitting towards the back. Oh well. He turned around to wave at Clara with a smile who returned both and was sitting on the desk right behind them with Borgin.
The D.A.D.A classroom was elaborately decorated. An iron chandelier hung from the ceiling, as well as a dragon's skeleton. On one end of the classroom stood a projector that was activated by magic. There was also a blackboard at the front of the classroom. Several desks and tables were placed in three columns in the classroom and there were large windows on each side which illuminated the room.
"Carey's trying hard to pretend she's okay, but she's not." Rob shared his observation. Samantha turned to look at him.
"I figured as much, too. She's nervous."
"Why wouldn't see be, after all? She almost became some dark creature's dinner last night, and she's pretending nothing's wrong?" Rob commented to which Samantha remained silent.
"We passed by Rowle and his ilk on our way to the Infirmary?" she whispered after a few seconds.
"Did they try anything?"
Samantha shook her head, "No. They wouldn't dare try anything to offend the Selwyn and Borgin families, but I fear that Carey and Clara might not share the same level of protection here that we do. Clara might get away with being the daughter of Lord Martyris, but Carey doesn't have the protection of the Maximoff family."
"Hmm." Rob missed the slight frown that marred Samantha's face at his response but before she could say anything, the doors to the classroom opened and the chatter stopped as their Professor walked in.
The D.A.D.A Professor, Madeline Brindlemore was a no nonsense woman who had zero tolerance for rowdiness and non-seriousness. She was a former Auror who had fought in the Great War, and had an intimidating appearance. Clad in mostly purple and gray robes and a cowl, she was as mysterious as she was fierce.
While Professor Flitwick had not given them any assignment in their first class, Professor Brindlemore took no mercy on them. They were chastised for not reading up in advance, and instantly jumped into it. Their first topic was about Ghosts, and Percy Weasley was the first to name at least three of their characteristics; flight capability, weightlessness, and invulnerability. He earned Gryffindor ten points for his effort.
"And what are their weaknesses? How would you fight a Ghost if they are invulnerable?" The question was open for anyone to answer, so Rob raised his hand.
"Light-creation spells, Professor. Lumos or any of its variants would be effective. For a single Ghost, I'd use Lumos. For multiple, the Duo, Maxima or Solem variations would be effective, depending on the number of Ghosts." Professor Brindlemore gave him an appreciative nod, and ten points.
They went on to study all the Ghosts which inhabited Hogwarts, and that ended the theoretical portion of the class. Professor Brindlemore then taught them how to cast Lumos, and Rob was again the first to cast it and that too, nonverbally. Professor Brindlemore looked extremely pleased at that, giving him twenty points. Samantha and Percy were the ones who learned it the fastest, each earning their Houses ten points again like in Charms.
Before class ended, she gave them an essay on Lumos and its three variations, requiring them to list their origins, effects and the scenarios in which each would be the most effective. It was due by their first class next week. After Lunch, classes resumed at two in the afternoon. They made their way to their third class of the day on the ground floor where Rob found a seat next to Borgin.
Transfiguration was amusing. One moment, there was a tabby cat sitting on the Professor's desk, and in the next, the cat was transformed into Professor McGonagall. An Animagus at Hogwarts?! I can't wait to learn, even if it'll take me years! Everyone else gasped in shock and excitement, but the stern Professor had them all silent again in an instant with a raised hand.
Professor McGonagall oozed authority. Rob was certain he had never met a woman as intimidating as her in his life, but she wasn't cruel. Her eyes were kind.
Regardless, this was one class he had to take with utter seriousness. She wasn't Professor Flitwick, and she was even stricter than Professor Brindlemore.
On the board were the Transfiguration alphabets, and the lecture began on their properties, translations and usages. Rob remembered his first Transfiguration lesson with Grandpa Flamel, and was easily able to answer the Professors questions. However, as the Professors asked more questions than Professor Flitwick did, which was natural as his first lecture was only and introductory class on one spell and its usage, more students were able to answer her questions, and a Hufflepuff, Beatrice Haywood and a Ravenclaw, Penelope Clearwater were also able to earn ten House points each, although he was able to earn twenty points. Percy and Samantha also earned ten House points.
He wasn't able to stand out in Transfiguration as much as in Charms and D.A.D.A, but that was because they studied the theory only in their first class. Their first assignment was to translate all the Transfiguration alphabets and note down their usages and properties, and they were to read up on the Transfiguration formula.
History of Magic was next, and the students reached the first floor for it. They all knew that Professor Binns was a Ghost beforehand, but seeing it was believing.
"Well, this is creepy." Rob commented, making Beatrice giggle. She was sitting next to him on one of the middle benches, and had fair skin, blue eyes, and short, dark blonde hair. It was the first class today in which he sat next to someone from another House, but Rob wouldn't let Houses come in between possible friendships, and as they talked he fast realised that he made the right choice. Beatrice, or Bea as she liked to be referred as, was the younger sister of a fourth year Hufflepuff, Penny Haywood, who if Bea was to be believed, was one of the, if not the most popular girl at Hogwarts and extremely gifted academically.
Talking to Bea was fun; she was kind, friendly affectionate, and excitable. They didn't even need to pause because Professor Binns rarely asked questions, and Borgin was the one who was the most excited about the subject, surprisingly. He made Slytherin twenty points when no one else was able to answer a single question, mostly because Professor Binns only asked two questions, and both were answered by Borgin. I can't believe he's excited about History of Magic with a Ghost! I'd pay more attention if he was alive, but oh well, I've read about Uric the Oddball already.
Finally, the bell rang much to the joy of the students and the utter indifference of Professor Binns, who simply set an assignment to read up on Emeric the Evil and Elfric the Eager.
Their classes being done for the day, Rob parted with his friends, and made his way to the training grounds.
The training grounds were a part of the grounds of Hogwarts and were located near the Herbology greenhouses. They were flat, and had short-cut grassy areas and were overlooked by the Training Grounds Tower and the D.A.D.A Tower.
Joe caught up with him just as reached the caste doors leading to the grounds and they made their way together to Madam Rakepick, who was waiting for them with five Death Eater dummies. They are the same as the one Professor Flitwick had used to test me.
"Thank you for meeting me here, Mr. Scamander and Mr. Grindelwald." Madam Rakepick said.
"You said you wanted our help? Let's this over with, dinner will start soon, and we need to get to our common rooms before curfew." Joe spoke for the both of them, but Madam Rakepick shook her head.
"Hurrying into the midst of it will get you killed. Danger is ever present for curse breakers like you and I, and especially budding curse breakers." she said that with a particular look towards Rob who just shrugged in response. "You should know how to properly defend yourself. Do you know the shield charm?"
Joe shook his head, "No, we're supposed to learn it later this year."
Madam Rakepick frowned, "We're curse breakers, Mr. Scamander. We may not be alive later this year."
"And you?" she turned to Rob, "What about you?"
"I can cast it." Joe's eyes had widened in surprise, not having expected a first year to have an edge over him. That's alright, he doesn't know that I have prior training.
"Show me." Madam Rakepick said. She turned to Joe, "You know how to duel, yes?" When Joe nodded, she continued, "Get into a duelling stance and cast the Disarming Charm at him. Let's see how proficient he is."
Joe was a bit unsure, hesitating to cast a spell against someone three years his junior, but Rob encouraged him with a nod. They both got into position, and with a little bit of hesitation still left in him Joe cast the spell, "Expelliarmus!"
"Protego!" Rob pointed his wand straight ahead, conjuring an invisible shield before him which deflected Joe's spell right back at him. Joe had not expected such a result, and it was only due to his prior experience in Duelling and fast reflexes from being a Chaser for Hufflepuff that was he able do dodge it. The spell disintegrated after travelling a fair distance behind him.
Joe whistled as he looked back at Robb and shared a laugh with him, "I certainly didn't expect that; you're quite talented."
Madam Rakepick proceeded to teach Joe the spell, and after a few tries he got the proper hang of it. After testing it out against Rob's Disarming Charm, she proceeded to the next level of her test.
"Well done. Now, when I cast the Blasting Curse at you, cast the Shield Charm." The what now?! Is she crazy?!
"Isn't the Blasting Curse deadly?" Joe deadpanned.
Madam Rakepick snorted, "I realise we just met, but you should know that if something isn't deadly, it simply doesn't hold my interest."
"Remember, if either of you get injured, our cooperation will come to an end right here." That got their attention, and neither wanted that scenario to come true. Joe would let nothing come in the way of finding his brother, while Rob was curious about the vaults and didn't want to be left out of the action.
He was too curious for his own good, as Auntie Apolline repeatedly said. That, and he wanted for Carey to feel better, and if finding the vaults and ending the curse would make her feel secure, then so be it.
She was his friend now, and even if he had only known her for one day, he wanted to help her in any way he could.
Madam Rakepick stood twenty steps away from them, "Are you ready?" she confirmed as she drew her wand. Rob was ready to cast the Shield Charm and he noticed his hand was shaking slightly. It wasn't in fear, rather in excitement. Grandpa Flamel had never used lethal spells at him while he was training him, citing his young age, but this woman held nothing back.
Not only that, but she was a professional duelist like his father and Professor Flitwick, and he could learn a lot from this woman, too. He could not fail here.
Joe gave a determined look to the experienced curse breaker, "Of course. If I can't survive this, how will I survive the Cursed Vaults?" Rob stayed silent, he'd let Joe take the lead here. Besides, if they did get injure, he'd save face that way, even if he knew that they wouldn't. A Slytherin always covered their backs, after all.
Madam Rakepick grinned nostalgically, "You remind me of myself Mr. Scamander. I have only said that to one person before. Ten points to Hufflepuff."
Or, maybe he should have taken the lead and earn some more points? Shit.
"Confringo!" A fiery yellow explosion of condensed fire raged towards him and they quickly cast the Shield Charm to deflect it. Holy shit! That is some power! I'm sure she held back when she cast it, otherwise we'd have been incinerated alongside our shields.
As the flames dissipated, Madam Rakepick nodded in appreciation. "I'm impressed, you're both as gifted as they say."
Rob blinked, "You've heard about me before?"
Madame Rakepick smiled, "Words travels fast around Hogwarts, youngling. Professors Flitwick, Brindlemore, and McGonagall were all praise for you, considering you earned Slytherin a hundred points by yourself on your first day, while the girls in your year earned another thirty points. I bet someone is gossiping about you as we speak." Rob missed Joe looking at him with amazement in his eyes at that.
"Let's get back inside. It's almost time for Dinner." Madam Rakepick observed as the sky had dimmed quite a lot since they had started. She started walking in the direction of the castle but stopped when Joe's voice called out to her.
"You understand why I want to find the Cursed Vaults on my own instead of helping you?" he asked with conviction?" Madam Rakepick simply smirked as she looked back towards them.
"You should focus on your classes for now, Mr. Scamander. I'm sure our paths will cross again. And you, Mr. Grindelwald," she turned fully to look into his eyes, her strong gaze making his back straighten up, "I expect great things from you." With that she parted ways with them.
Professor Kettleburn stumbled across them on their way to the Great Hall. He was fair skinned old man with silver hair and blue eyes with one arm and half a leg. He had prosthetics for arms and legs to make up for his losses over long and dangerous, but illustrious career as a Magizoologist.
Apparently, his eccentricity knew no bounds, having kept a Chimaera on the school grounds which was now set loose, endangering many students. He'd been dicing up meat for it when it made a mad dash for the school, worrying the hell out of the both of them, but the odd ball of a Professor told them to not worry as it'd soon be under control. It better, Rob didn't want to lose any of his limbs or worse, his head.
Somehow, they had both managed to earn ten House points each for agreeing that it was an excitable opportunity, as hesitant as they were. Rob looked to Joe afterwards, but he just shrugged, "That's just how he is. Loveable but crazy." Rob couldn't agree more.
Before they could reach the Great Hall for dinner, though, two voices called them over towards the western corridor. It was Carey and Tulip, beckoning them towards them.
"Hey, what's going on?" Rob asked as they reached them.
"It's Rakepick," Tulip said, "We've been following her."
Joe raised an eyebrow, "What for?"
"When you both left, she started asking us questions about our sleepwalking and the Cursed Vaults. She was very curious, far more than a curse breaker should have been." Carey added, "Enough that Tulip suspects that she has a personal interest in them than just another job for glory seeking."
"She'd been interrogating the House Elves in the kitchen for a while until Snape arrived." Tulip ignored Carey correcting her by coughing out Professor Snape.
"He led her here." Carey pointed towards the far end of the corridor where Madam Rakepick was talking to Professor Snape, "Another sleepwalking student has been found." All four of them moved a bit closer so they could listen in on the conversation while pretending to have a conversation of their own.
"Where did you find him?" Madam Rakepick demandingly asked Professor Snape, pointing towards the sleepwalking student, a third year Gryffindor boy Joe recognised. He was shaking, but standing upright. It seemed as if he was in a constant state of nightmares. He wasn't sedated like the others in the infirmary, so Rob could see Carey tensing up a bit as she looked at the student.
Professor Snape narrowed his eyes but answered anyhow, "Approaching the Forbidden Forest. Dumbledore asked us to keep watch on the perimeter."
"How many sleepwalking students have you found?"
"Since you started teaching at Hogwarts?" Professor Rakepick continued with her line of questioning.
Professor Snape looked at her with a droll look, "Since the start of this school year."
Madam Rakepick growled in irritation, "It's the curse. Someone has tampered with another Cursed Vault."
Professor Snape sneered at Madam Rakepick, "I assumed that someone was you."
"You still don't trust me after all these years, Severus? Could it be that you're jealous?" she mocked the Potions Master.
Said Potions Master gave her a scathing look Rob wished he would never be on the receiving end of, "Is it arrogance or insecurity that makes you misinterpret my genuine disdain?" Ouch. Nice retort.
"Slither back to your dark little closet full of jars and frog parts. Leave the important matters to an expert." She dismissively said before moving towards the boy.
Professor Snape stepped in between the both of them, "I'm going to deliver this child to the Hospital Wing."
"Dumbledore charged me with anything to do with the Cursed Vaults." She snapped back, and for a moment it looked like they were going to start a duel right then and there, before Professor Snape diffused the situation.
"If you can manage to keep your mouth shut, we can walk there together."
"Fine." Madam Rakepick grumbled.
"Fine." Professor Snape grumbled back before the two of them disappeared around the corner with the boy, presumably on their way to the infirmary.
"Unbelievable." Tulip muttered in surprise.
Joe sniggered, "I know. She was really giving it to him."
This definitely confirms that she's up to something else like you suspected, Tulip." Rob commented.
Carey nodded, "We have to do something before this sleepwalking epidemic takes over all of Hogwarts."
Joe cast Tempus to look at the time, "Dinner's started. Let's go, I'll get in touch with you guys tomorrow at lunch so that we can plan our next move."
Samantha Selwyn's POV
Wednesday, 3rd September, 1987 (Dinner – Great Hall, Hogwarts, Scotland, Great Britain)
Samantha had always been a reserved person, never saying much even at the parties that the Pure-blood families threw to curry favour amongst each other and to show off their wealth. She hadn't interacted much with other Pure-blood children her age, even if her parents tried to force her to do so. They could force her to sit next to them, but couldn't force her to be friends with them. She'd rather die than be friends with people like Damocles Rowle, Marcus Flint, Richard Jugson and Gilbert Gibbon. They reminded her too much of her father, Lord George Selwyn; fat, alcoholic, womanizing piece of shit that he was.
The Selwyn family had enjoyed a high status amongst the Sacred Twenty-Eight during the time of her grandfather, Edward Selwyn, but after early death when her father was still a student at Hogwarts, their status started diminishing little by little.
He hadn't started incurring debts yet nor had he sold off any of their assets; George Selwyn wasn't a fool. It was their profits and incomes through which he indulged himself, and their family's respect and honour reaching the lowest of lows.
The less said about her mother the better. She had no respect for herself, and Samantha had sworn that she would never become like them. She'd be better.
That was why she had hardened her heart, and closed it off to everyone, because everyone she knew was like her parents.
That was why she had gotten along really well with Clara and Carey, even if she'd only known them for twenty four hours. They were talented, ambitious, and intelligent and people she wanted to keep company with, maybe even be friends with.
The despicable male company in their year aside, there were only two boys who were decent in her eyes. Borgin was easygoing and laid back, but befriending him was very risky. They didn't know where his allegiance lie. Well, other than making money, of course. That smuggler would play all sides, and it'd be hard to expect him to take a stand for anyone other than himself. No, she couldn't expect much more from him than contraband in exchange for favours or money.
Then there was Rob.
He was the ideal poster boy for Slytherin; as pureblooded as they came, rich, connected to influential people like Albus Dumbledore, Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, and the European magical nobility. He was extremely talented, and he was polite, kind, and courteous.
Is he, though? Samantha couldn't forget the utter indifference with which he responded when she told him about Rowle. Maybe she was imagining things and making something out of nothing, but she couldn't help it. He was the ideal poster boy for Slytherin, which meant that the good and bad were both there.
She reminded herself that self-interest was why they were sitting together, why they were helping each other, and it was a driving motive for their actions. She berated herself for forgetting that, but also promised herself that she would not let her guard down, no matter how charming Rob may seem.
They were in the den of snakes together for a reason.
Carey and Rob had joined them fifteen minutes after dinner had started, and she returned Rob's smile and greeting nod with the same gestures, not giving any of her thoughts away through any gesture.
Carey told her, Clara and Borgin about Madam Rakepick and their suspicions towards her, and she found herself agreeing with them. She was an odd woman, and carried a dangerous and infamous reputation if what she had heard from the older students to be of any credibility. She was inclined to believe them.
"An opportunity has presented itself, to work alongside the older students to uncover the mystery of the Cursed Vaults. Carey and I've agreed to it, and we'd like you join us when we meet with them tomorrow." Rob shared, and Borgin immediately sat up.
"Cursed Vaults mean cursed objects or other troves of treasure. I'm in." Borgin immediately agreed.
"If even staying in our dorms can't protect us from the curses, then there's no point in saying no. Besides, I'm always up for an adventure." Clara grinned and nodded her head in assent.
Soon they were done with dinner but before it ended, the sound of a spoon clanging against a goblet turned their attention towards the staff table, where Professor Dumbledore stood ready to make an announcement.
"Now that you've all settled in with your studies, there is an important announcement that I must make." Professor Dumbledore began with a wide smile, "I am delighted to inform you that starting tomorrow, the Sphinx, Dragon, and Hippogriff Clubs will be opening their doors to new members."
Whispers of excitement broke out amongst the first years and those who, presumably, weren't yet members yet. Many students had questions.
"I've not heard of these clubs before. What makes them special?" Penelope Clearwater asked from the Ravenclaw table.
"These clubs allow Hogwarts' most gifted students a chance to further their studies with like-minded students and receive highly prized benefits for their dedication. Those who seek to improve their knowledge, skills or earn more House points for their Houses would consider applying membership, but that's just an old man's humble opinion, of course." Professor Dumbledore answered with a cheeky smile, making the students chuckle.
"What's the process to apply for membership, Professor Dumbledore?" Samantha asked next.
"Each club has unique requirements that must be met to enjoy membership in good standing. The Sphinx Club looks for members that perform well in Transfiguration, History of Magic, Astronomy, Muggle Studies, Magical Theory, Ancient Studies, Arithmancy, and Study of Ancient Runes. The Dragon Club seeks members that show aptitude in Flying, Apparition, Defense Against The Dark Arts, Charms, Duelling and Quidditch. And the Hippogriff Club accepts members that excel in Potions, Herbology, Alchemy, Divination, Xylomancy, Ghoul Studies and Care of Magical Creatures." he listed their particulars.
"Your classes won't be the only place where you can make a good impression with these clubs. Each club has a Secretariat which will be looking for the best and brightest recruits. And yes, before you ask, it is possible to become members of multiple clubs, but only Hogwarts' most exceptional wizards and witches may qualify for that honour." He finished explaining.
Samantha wasn't sure which clubs she was interested in. She planned on meeting up with representatives of all three in the coming days. Carey and Clara agreed with her, while Rob was set on the Dragon Club although he wanted to join all three, and Borgin was set on the Hippogriff Club.
With that dinner ended, and the Prefects escorted them to their dorms.
As they walked in the direction of their dorms, Samantha's thoughts went back to her doubts regarding Rob, but when she saw him laughing at a joke Clara made, with Carey smiling despite the ordeal she went through and Borgin grinning, she couldn't help resist a small smile forming on her face.
It made her forget about them. For now.
Authors Notes: See? I'm still around. Expect updates every month or so. The next one will be here before mid-October if all goes well. Let me know your thoughts in the review section. If there are any grammatical or structural mistakes, I'll edit them over the coming days. I write and publish first, and keep on editing my work afterwards.
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