Disclaimer: I am not J. K. Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter. I am not Hasbro. I do not own the Forgotten Realms. (Nor for that matter am I Lynne Abbey, and responsible for her novel The Simbul's Gift and the character portrayals she gives us in there.)
This experimental one-shot features Lauzoril, the Zulkir of Enchantment, being deposited in the Harry Potter universe in 1995 and in time to get the Defence Professor job for what is, in the original books, the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix school year. The version of Lauzoril I am using is based on that presented to readers in the above mentioned The Simbul's Gift by Lynne Abbey.
The former Zulkir of Enchantment sat back in his chair and listened with a polite expression on his face as the 'History of Magic' teacher delivered an address to the members of the school assembled in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The piece was mostly political propaganda on behalf of the Ministry which had thrust her upon this educational establishment. Hailing from Thay, as Lauzoril did, he was hardly a stranger to political propaganda being preached in the halls of academia, and whilst this piece would appeal to and energize those who already understood and supported the message, it was hardly likely to win many new converts. Depending on what the intended audience and aims of the woman were, Lauzoril would have marked the speech somewhere between two and seven marks out of ten.
This 'Dolores Umbridge' reminded Lauzoril a little of Mythrell'aa, albeit whilst being more underhanded and cunning than Mythrell'aa on some points, and a lot less intelligent on others. She would probably be a match for the Zulkir of Illusion in terms of spite, though, to any who crossed her. Fortunately Dolores Umbridge lacked Mythrell'aa's (or for that matter Lauzoril's own) schooling in the intrigues of Thayan politics, and so long as Lauzoril remained cautious, she was unlikely to be much threat to himself.
Finally, having been interrupted a couple of times by colleagues from the high table who apparently had no qualms about rushing to make the woman hostile to them, Dolores Umbridge wound to an end, and Albus Dumbledore politely introduced Lauzoril as the new defence teacher for the year. Lauzoril rose in response, and bowed to the headmaster, with a few words of thanks, before reseating himself.
This was not a time for grand speeches by himself, he judged, and for now he was content to leave something of an air of mystery hanging in the school about himself and his origins.
After the welcoming feast was over, Lauzoril headed for the headmaster's office. It was refreshing to have colleagues who, whilst no doubt scheming all sorts of things – at least in some cases – apparently seemed unlikely to run to literal knife-in-the-back plots.
The headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, had apparently correctly anticipated from the look which Lauzoril had cast him towards the end of the feast that a conversation was expected, and was there ahead of Lauzoril and waiting.
The location was hardly private – there were all the portraits of previous headmasters and headmistresses on the wall of the office, and the presence of the headmaster's bird, Fawkes, which was apparently a local version of a phoenix – but it was about as discreet a location as would be unlikely to arouse any suspicion or gossip amongst other members of staff.
"You wanted to speak with me?" the headmaster raised an interrogative eyebrow at Lauzoril.
"I feel that a little context would be helpful to me here." Lauzoril said. "From Professor Umbridge's address to the school of a few hours' earlier, clearly you and the current ruling faction in your government are at odds. I would prefer to know what cow-pats I should be steering clear of placing my feet in whilst teaching during the coming school year, and would like to hear at least your version of it."
"My version of things is that Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, is paying too much attention to Lucius Malfoy these days, not least in Cornelius' refusal to credit that a particular trouble-causing wizard who was believed dead and gone has become active again. Lucius Malfoy was identified as having served under said wizard a decade and a half ago, and to have carried out criminal acts in that capacity, but was found by a court to have only done so under the influence of mind-controlling magic and was hence pardoned for any and all such criminal acts – although the payment of fines or of financial compensation was required of him in some cases."
"Lucius Malfoy was on a body with oversight of this school a few years ago, was he not?" Lauzoril queried, having done at least some research of the school's recent history since arriving in this world.
"The Board of Governors, yes." the headmaster acknowledged. "He was removed from it after he was judged to have handled a crisis at the school involving attacks upon students by someone claiming to be 'The Heir of Slytherin' inappropriately."
"Was 'The Heir of Slytherin' connected to the trouble-making wizard Lucius served under?"
Lauzoril noted a moment of hesitation on the part of the headmaster in responding to this question – almost certainly not because the headmaster was in any doubt whether a connection had existed, but because he was deciding exactly what to say to Lauzoril.
"There was a lot of circumstantial evidence which I believe indicated a strong connection between the 'Heir of Slytherin' and the wizard Lucius previously served under – under the Imperius Curse, as Lucius claimed."
In other words, there were secrets the headmaster didn't wish Lauzoril to know.
"Would you consider it fair comment to say that at least one of you views the state of relations between yourself and Lucius Malfoy as 'antagonistic'?" Lauzoril probed.
"I would consider it fair comment." the headmaster acknowledged.
In other words, the Minister for Magic seemed to be being used as a piece in an ongoing feud of some sort between the Hogwarts headmaster and Lucius Malfoy, at least as far as the headmaster saw it, Lauzoril concluded.
"Thank you." Lauzoril said. "If you have no questions for or instructions for me, I shall retire now to review my notes for tomorrow before taking to bed."
Albus hesitated again for a moment before speaking.
"Lauzoril: the trouble-causing wizard is, I am quite certain, active again, and a much bigger potential problem than Lucius Malfoy. There was very convincing evidence that he was dead, but a couple of his loyal followers seem to have found a way around that and to have brought him back. He is at present in hiding, whilst he rebuilds his strength, but at some point it is likely that he will emerge again."
"If he does not emerge during the period for which I am contracted to serve as an instructor of students here at Hogwarts, whether he is active again or not is not of immediate concern to me." Lauzoril shrugged.
Which was only mostly true, but Lauzoril had no intention or wish at this point to signal side-taking in whatever local disputes and politics were taking place.
A break of a few months from a necessity to plot and scheme in any serious degree was something which he looked forward to.
Given the curriculum and style of learning being imposed on the defence classes in the coming school year, as compared to what they were used to, Lauzoril anticipated a certain amount of protest and trouble, from pupils, unless he took very firm steps to forestall things.
The first seventh year class which he took became his example for why it would be best not to ask for practical work in the subject this school year, but to sit there quietly and read.
"Was it really necessary to do that to them?" his colleague Minerva McGonagall asked him on the first occasion that she bumped into him in the staff room after said class.
Lauzoril considered all things for a moment, and then shrugged.
"Yes." he said. "There seems to be this unfortunate notion which has spread amongst members of this school that the correct and only action to take, when confronted with a problem involving an enemy witch or wizard, is to draw a wand to face said problem down personally. Headmaster!" he raised his voice to call out to the man who was at this point fortuitously nearby. "When the wizard Gellert Grindelwald was abroad in the European mainland, did you seek to challenge him at once, as others were begging you to do so, or did you delay and delay until other options were exhausted and you were ready to fight?"
A strange expression crossed the headmaster's face. Lauzoril was reasonably certain it could not be because Lauzoril had misstated the facts, because Lauzoril had made very sure of double-checking his facts from old newsheets, whilst researching the headmaster's past.
"I certainly did not confront him until I was ready to fight. I perhaps should have been readier to do so sooner than I was, however." the headmaster said.
Lauzoril returned his attention to Professor McGonagall.
"Even our esteemed headmaster, one of the greatest wizards of our era, delayed facing a dangerous and capable opponent until he was ready." Lauzoril said. "It seems to me that it is not unreasonable to expect pupils to spend a year learning the importance of patience and study, ahead of any action, since such things seem to have been sadly absent from the curriculum of late. But to return to the topic of what I did, it had come to my attention that I was being unfavourably compared to a previous holder of my current post, one Gilderoy Lockhart. If I have no respect, then how am I to teach pupils anything other than how to die?"
Following the exchange with Minerva about his teaching methods, Lauzoril was summoned immediately to the headmaster's office by the headmaster.
"Whilst your dodges and manoeuvrings over your implementation of the Ministry's defence curriculum are interesting, and what you did to the seventh year class to ensure a reputation is almost certainly considerably milder than what I fear that our colleague Professor Umbridge is planning for history classes, you will kindly leave myself and Gellert Grindelwald out of any discussions or politicking in future." the headmaster said. He pushed his glasses up his nose and subjected Lauzoril to a particularly severe stare. It was less fearsome than an equivalent stare from an undead lich such as Szass Tam might have been, but actually not by as much as might be expected. Albus Dumbledore could 'do' flatly intimidating quite well when he wanted. The headmaster, having timed the duration of that look to pretty much perfection in Lauzoril's long and varied experience of such things, resumed: "It is not something which I am pleased to have raised in discussion, save for reasons of the gravest possible crisis, and I do not consider any lessons to be drawn from my conflict with Gellert to be ones which will necessarily be sound for anyone other than a person of my own experiences – of which latter category, I hope, that there will be mercifully few. If you want an explanation, and I do not want this bandied about, I had a sister, once, before Gellert started a fight with my brother, which she became drawn into. Do I make myself quite clear?"
"Quite." Lauzoril acknowledged. He hesitated a moment. Some sort of acknowledgement at least close to an apology was required here. "It is unlikely to be anywhere near on the same level as what you experience, but I am sorry to hear about your sister. It is clearly unpardonably tactless of me to raise the subject of Gellert Grindelwald in your presence or in your school as I did, and I shall avoid doing so in the future – unless it is a situation of the gravest possible crisis."
Term proceeded. Lessons came and went, and the pupils dutifully concerned themselves with reading the texts placed in front of them which the Ministry of Magic required that they read – although Lauzoril did occasionally entertain class-discussions of matters on topics which he deemed that the Ministry and their representative in the school would find uncontroversial at least as far as their own crude policies went. In truth though, what Lauzoril was doing with such discussions was infinitely more subversive than outright contradicting the Ministry of Magic position on anything. Lauzoril was, after all, encouraging these youths to think and to reason, and to test things for themselves – whilst being highly deferential, whether one agreed or not, to those in authority.
Apparently, if anyone at the Ministry did pay attention to what he was doing, those who ought to be the most worried about it were too stupid to do the maths and to see what the discussions were doing.
Lauzoril was certain that the headmaster was astute enough to see what Lauzoril was up to, but that the headmaster's own conflicts with the Ministry and agenda were such that he saw no need to interfere.
And at weekends, of course, Lauzoril went into Hogsmeade, to see his wife and daughters…
Lauzoril had not been transported to this world called 'Earth' on his own – the accident or act which had blasted him here, had brought Wenne, Nyasia and Mimuay too.
Professor Dumbledore had arranged a cottage in Hogsmeade for them to stay in.
Mimuay was magically talented – had been training to be a wizard in the world from which they had come (although Lauzoril supposed since there were gender-related terms, it would have been 'witch' here) – but she could hardly study at Hogwarts, since her gifts had run especially to necromancy. Here, on this world, some of what she could do and had been studying to become capable in would be misunderstood, and simply identified as 'dark magic'. What a spell interacted with was often considered more important, as far as Lauzoril could see, than what was in the mind of a caster when he or she used it in this world, and using magic to interact with the dead and with primal forces of life and death was something regarded as strictly taboo here.
So Mimuay stayed at the place now become their home, and helped her sister look after their mother.
Wenne had been confused and distressed by the change, at least at first. Between spells which had been placed on her by her own father, and later by a younger and at times too hasty Lauzoril in the interest of keeping her safe, her mind and how she saw the world were muddled, and it had been almost impossible to explain to her what none of the others themselves understood entirely. In the end, Nyasia had explained it to her mother that 'A bad wizard who is an enemy of father has sent us into exile with his magic.' and Wenne had accepted that; for all that Lauzoril knew, that might even be the truth of what had happened.
And at any rate, by and large, Lauzoril's womenfolk coped. They mastered the challenges of this new place and lived their lives, free at least for now, from the politics and plots and daily threats and schemes of Thay. In some ways, what had taken place had been a boon and a blessing to them.
Professor Umbridge, apparently on the instructions of the Ministry (whether issued by the Minister, or written for herself by herself under her own authority) was reviewing the careers and teaching methods of other members of staff.
Lauzoril was fairly certain, unless the woman had depths of cunning which she was concealing with a highly convincing façade of crudity and utter lack of finesse, that she was using these interviews mainly to look for members of staff who might be politically bothersome, and to try if possible to find excuses to get rid of staff members of whom she disapproved.
When it came to his turn to be chatted to, he was interested to discover that alongside investigations towards her primary goals, she was also apparently obsessed with discovering her interviewee's ancestry.
She watched him take a class (which she seemed to have no problems with) and then interviewed him afterwards.
"So, Professor Lauzoril: how far back have your ancestors been witches and wizards?"
"I have little information about my mother's side, but for at least half a dozen generations on my father's." Lauzoril replied, which was the truth, or what amounted to it in the terminology of this world. It was possible that Professor Umbridge had some means at her disposal to detect and measure truth, after all, and it was best to stick with truth if possible.
"So you're a half-blood then?"
"Probably." Lauzoril shrugged. Going back several generations he had ancestors who had trained to use arcane magic, but also some who had almost certainly not been so trained, which would make him a 'half-blood' as far the classifications of this world went.
"And you have a wife in Hogsmeade who is a witch?" Professor Umbridge pressed. Her interrogation was less than tactful in the tone of voice employed.
Lauzoril shifted slightly in his chair. A perceptive woman would take that move as a warning sign, and would tread carefully from this point, and Lauzoril was curious to see how Professor Umbridge responded.
"My wife is magically talented but her father was a rather unethical wizard who was concerned she not outshine him, and her mind is too damaged for her to be able to work spells." Lauzoril replied. "At least one of my daughters is magically talented, but prefers to learn the traditions and forms of our homeland, and studies at home, rather than attend classes here."
"Where exactly do you come from?" Professor Umbridge asked. Her continuing arrogant tone of voice seemed to indicate that she had not noticed Lauzoril's shift in physical posture at all, although at least she had moved on from the topic of his wife.
"A small country estate in Thazalhar. There was a magical accident which may or may not have been quite such an accident before I and my family arrived here which resulted in our departure, and I considered it prudent for now not to seek to immediately return."
"An accident which may not have been an accident?"
"I had enemies jealous or perhaps who felt threatened by my position as the head of a school."
"So you have taught previously?"
"You don't seem to carry a wand."
"I left much behind, during my departure, but if you mean to question whether I can work magic…"
Lauzoril gestured at a length of cord on his desk strategically positioned for moments like this, and caused it to rise into the air. It hovered there, awaiting further direction.
"I can tie you up if you like, Professor?" Lauzoril offered.
"No thank you, Professor." Professor Umbridge seemed impressed. "Wandless casting."
"Quite." Lauzoril said, and let the cord drop.
"It's just that there are rumours that at least one professor to occupy your position in recent years was an almost complete fraud, capable of only casting a memory-wiping charm." Professor Umbridge said.
"Gilderoy Lockhart. I've heard." Lauzoril acknowledged.
"It's possible, of course that he may have found something out about Dumbledore, which Dumbledore saw as a threat, which resulted in his ending up in St. Mungo's with an almost completely wiped mind, but discrepancies over the roles of people in the books which he wrote have been subsequently coming to light." Professor Umbridge said. She sounded almost anguished by the thought of Gilderoy Lockhart having been exposed as considerably less than he had been made out to be.
"If I discover anything compromising about Albus Dumbledore, I shall act with due prudence and ensure that only the right people hear about it." Lauzoril assured her.
The woman nodded, seemingly satisfied by this, and the interview wound down and concluded with a few pleasantries.
She hadn't asked for more information about where 'Thazalhar' was, Lauzoril had noticed; Lauzoril had taken care to mention Thazalhar in a tone of voice which suggested he thought that it was natural that everyone should know where it was, and the woman no doubt hadn't wanted to admit to or to show ignorance by admitting that she didn't…
Lauzoril suspected that if a man as intelligent as the headmaster, with some capability for intrigue, really wanted to get rid of Professor Umbridge then she would be out of the school, utterly humiliated, inside of five minutes; Lauzoril himself could have done it, with her being some combination of fatally dead or mad within ten.
Lauzoril could only surmise at this point that the headmaster permitted her to remain because it gave his enemies a false sense of security, or perhaps because he thought that there was a risk that if he disposed of her that she might be replaced by someone more talented and competent.
Lauzoril comes from Thay - a land ruled (at least back in second edition AD&D) by powerful 'wizards' (in Thay the term 'wizard' (and for that matter the related 'red wizard') was gender neutral, being equally applied to males and females), who schemed and plotted against one another - and he was one of the rulers. Most of the ruling wizards were tyrants, a product of the system which they came up through and in which (unless they went into voluntary exile) wizards had to struggle to survive. Lauzoril, whilst part of the system, is portrayed as strongly disliking elements of it, at least by Lynne Abbey, and in particular having come to dislike wars of violent conquest and to start to question some of the bigotries and prejudices of himself and of his homeland by the end of The Simbul's Gift.
Mythrell'aa was a fellow Zulkir of Lauzoril's, back in Thay, the Zulkirs (of whom there were eight) being the most politically powerful wizards in the country. There is some ambiguity at the end of The Simbul's Gift as to whether Mythrell'aa is still alive, due to one of her own schemes catastrophically backfiring on her, in part thanks to direct interference by Lauzoril.
Szass Tam was the Zulkir of Necromancy in Thay and - besides being a form of undead - was the most magically powerful and fearsome wizard in that country at the time that Lauzoril lived there.
I assume that for the purposes of this story Lauzoril and his immediate family ended up in Hogsmeade fairly soon after the events of The Simbul's Gift - possibly as a result of a revenge attack from the School of Illusion for events taking place during The Simbul's Gift. Lauzoril and Mimuay continue to use and cast magic as per the style and 'rules' of their homeland, preparing spells in advance and storing them ready in their minds to cast when required. Somehow (possibly as a result of the transportation between worlds, or possibly by means of enchanted 'translation' objects) they are managing to magically cope with what should otherwise be a language problem.
This piece is (as of its initial posting in February 2021) an experimental one-shot. I wanted to try out for a bit the idea of Lauzoril as defence professor at Hogwarts in the school year (1995-1996) where political meddling and interference with the school was at its height. I do see some potential possibilities for development, if/when Lauzoril notices a 'Dumbledore's Army' forming and challenges Albus on what he's going to do about it?
Further Notes: (27th April, 2021)
Since the Defence position was already filled for the 1995-1996 school year, the Ministry of Magic decided that History of Magic classes needed a different teacher and got Dolores Umbridge into Hogwarts that way. Dolores is delighted to be able to put her own spin on things such as relations between witches and wizards and anyone else...