*updated, fixed grammar using 2 machines*
Harry gives one last hug to Sirius who's in the form of a black dog just before he leaves to board the Hogwarts Express together with Hermione and the Weasleys.
"Alright on board now, hurry!" Said Mrs Weasley after hearing the sound of the horn-filled the whole platform.
Once everyone boards the train, Harry stays to see his godfather one last time from the window. Harry realise that despite how happy he is right now to be relieved from all the anxiety and worries that he might get expelled, or the fact that he finally can put aside how Dumbledore still won't give him anything even as much as talk to him in the Ministry of Magic- there's a small sadness inside him knowing that he surely going to miss Sirius.
As the train moved- leaving the stations, he waved to everyone and Sirius in his dog form just kept running following the train, to see Harry embark to Hogwarts. People were laughing as in the eyes of those who not know, it was just a dog being cute- catching up a train where his owner leaving, not a lonely middle-aged man who's gonna be left alone in his gloomy house, trying to cling on the company of his deceased best friend's last gift to the world until he can be seen no more from the station.
But Harry left with a smile on his face, knowing it would be a good image for his godfather to remember until they meet again. Harry then meets his friends' faces with eagerness
Hermione however gave a slightly concerned look.
"He shouldn't have come with us."
"Oh lighten up," said Ron in protest. "He hasn't seen daylight for months, poor bloke."
Harry gives a grateful nod towards Ron, "Well then, shall we go look for a compartment?"
"Er-" Ron stopped Harry and with an uncomfortable look.
"We're uh… suppose to go to prefect carriage"
Explain Hermione while both she and Ron flashed their badge.
"Oh, right- then." Said Harry a bit disappointed and he was clearly trying to hide it.
"We don't have to stay for long though! The letter said we just need to get instruction from the Head boy and girl and go patrol from time to time." Add Hermione quickly.
"Fine, I-I'll see you then."
After a long awkward attempt from both of his best friends trying to comfort him for being left alone, Harry decides to give them mercy and just make them go. Harry for once felt a sense of loss as this is probably the first time he ever went to Hogwarts without Ron.
"Come on," said Ginny, pulling him back to reality. "If we move now we can save some space for them."
"Right," said Harry as he carried his trunk and Hedwig with him through a small corridor.
As he walks with Ginny trying to find a place to sit, he can't help but notice the stares people give towards him, some even pointed at him while muttering something. He thinks these people probably got affected by the daily prophet, but as he keeps going more and more people seem to simply look at the end of the corridors in each carriage he passes by.
Harry manages to hear a faint discussion- or rather a gossip from one compartment about a possible new teacher is boarding the train, some say they meet an angel in this train, Harry can't help but snicker at the claim.
When Harry arrived at the last carriage, Harry saw one boy tripped because they happened to glance towards the compartment at the end of the corridor. As curious as Harry can be right now, he only feels happy because he saw a familiar round face.
"Neville!" Shout Ginny.
"Oh hi Ginny, hi Harry." Greet Neville all while struggling to carry his heavy luggage with one hand while the other hand holding Trevor the frog. "Everywhere is full, I can't find a seat anywhere."
"What are you talking about?" Said Ginny as she squeezed through the corridor to get past Neville. Ginny peeked towards the last compartment and saw a hint of a certain infamous weirdo sitting in that compartment. "There's only Loony Lovegood in there-"
Neville then mumbled about it's not only Luna in there and he doesn't want to disturb anyone.
"Don't be silly, she's alright. Better there than standing in the middle of the corridor anyway." Ginny said with a giggle.
Harry squeezed past Neville and followed Ginny to the compartment.
"Hey Luna, do you… oh." Ginny is suddenly unsure if she should take the empty seats when she sees another person that sits beside Luna.
Harry makes his way and tries to see the inside of the compartment by himself. He then understood why Neville seemed reluctant.
Could be because of how the girl that Ginny calls Luna is emitting such a strong aura of distinct dottiness with how she looks, a necklace made of butterbeer, a wand resting on her ear and what not. Or perhaps because the woman sitting beside her seems to be the person that people have been gossiping about.
Her long ash-blonde hair is braided with a black ribbon at the end along with a beautiful hair ornament. Her bangs framed her seemingly smooth pale skin perfectly- give her a young look while contrasting her body shape that's perfectly captured with her buttoned white shirt tightened pronouncing more of her bosom because of the suspender she wears that connected to her oddly tight looking trouser and black leather boots, giving away the shape of her seemingly long legs and yet she doesn't seem to be really that tall.
But that's not what makes Neville, Ginny, and him unsure if they should get in this compartment, but the fact that both Luna's pale silvery eyes and the woman's pure silver eyes seem to read a magazine upside down.
"Oh hi, Ginny."
Luna finally ended the awkward silence that Ginny caused because she stopped mid-sentence.
When all three of them greeted her back, the woman beside Luna finally moved down her Magazine and gave all of them a smile.
"Please take the empty seats if you like, better that than let them vacant for what seems like a long journey." The woman's voice was soft but decorated with an unfamiliar accent.
"Oh um, thanks," Ginny replied and started to take her belongings away, the boys followed suit after Ginny and now Neville, Harry, and Ginny sat together on one side of the compartment watching a weird interaction of two females in front of them.
One still focused on her upside-down magazine while the other seemingly doesn't blink like a normal human does, staring at Harry, intently.
"Did you have a good summer Luna?" Ask Ginny.
"Yeah, summer is good." Said Luna without leaving her gaze towards now uncomfortable Harry, then Luna immediately added "You're Harry Potter."
"I know I am." Harry quipped, being observant he is, he noticed a slight twitch on the foreign woman's ear when Luna said his name. Harry thought that was odd.
Luna then switches her gaze to Neville, "I don't know who you are."
"I'm nobody." Said Neville but got a light jab from Ginny because of it.
"No, you're not. Luna, this is Neville Longbottom-Luna Lovegood she's-."
Before Ginny could finish her introduction, Luna cut her off "I'm sure you know me, although probably with a different name like Loony instead of Luna."
Neville grimaced with Luna's comment and Harry for once found his throat surprisingly itchy.
Soon after that Luna immediately put her upside-down magazine up again, covering her face uninterested in the three new people who joined her. Harry could see her leaning to the side as he heard her try to talk with the foreigner.
"Did you see it?" Ask Luna.
"I don't think the rune works even from a different angle, dear Luna." Answer the woman which makes everyone in that room curious about what they are talking about.
"What do you mean?"
"You're supposed to see it as it is, that's the proper angle."
"But as it is, it doesn't look like it means anything, it's just a scribble." Luna then put her magazine away and decided to see the Magazine the woman's handle instead, despite both magazines seeming to be one and the same.
The woman then turned the Magazine so it's no longer upside-down. Harry can make out the word "The Quibbler" on the cover of the Magazine.
"It's not supposed to be English runes, give more of your attention to it, the shape of the first rune looks like a house can be read as 'Kin' and that just means Gold." The woman explained gently.
"Really? Does that mean this rune could be a spell of turning things into gold?"
"Well, the last part of the rune was read as 'Kan' which I think comes from 'Mikan' and that means orange."
And now both of them are holding the same magazine by one hand, flipping it around and around. Luna seems to gain an epiphany while the woman just smiled at her antics, she seems to enjoy it even.
"So it's a golden orange?"
"And golden orange is another name for…?"
Luna gasped very hard which incidentally made Ginny, Harry, and Neville a bit jumpy and let out a small gasp as well.
The woman noticed and proceeded to laugh at them, three of them feeling embarrassed to get caught engrossed in eavesdropping on the woman and Luna's conversation without even realising it.
"Is it just Kumquats in a different language!? How did you know?"
Neville accidentally mumbled on how there's two of them, although only Harry could catch that mumble.
"I just happen to know the language." Said the woman while giving a head pat towards the girl. "Please don't turn it into a real spell and hex people's ears into Kumquats."
The woman then let out a chuckle.
"Well Luna, it was an interesting read, thank you, but right now I think I should go, someone has been expecting me." Said the pale woman while standing up from her seat.
She then looked at Ginny, Neville, and Harry respectfully before finally offering the magazine. "Anyone interested?"
Before anyone could give an awkward refusal, Harry immediately jumped at the offer. "May I?"
"Please," said the woman with a smile while handing the Magazine. Harry accepted the magazine and then the woman just walked towards the corridor, turned to give one last gesture of goodbye.
"Till we meet again." and then she vanishes leaving only a wisp of fog.
"Luna, who's that?" Ask Ginny
Luna just stared at her for a moment until she shrugged
"Well I just happened to meet her when she was looking for Magazine and I asked her what Magazine did she want, she said she didn't know so I told her The Quibbler, talk about it, without us realising it- here we are."
"She could be your long lost sister." Ginny jokes
"She's too old to be anyone's sister."
"She looks young enough to me, could be from year 7" Neville added, accompanied with nods of agreement from Harry and Ginny.
"My advice is not to engage too much with the representative." Said Dumbledore still reviewing the document sent from the Ministry of Magic.
"I understand the bureaucracy, I was born noble, it is the Order productivity that I'm concerned about." Said the pale-blonde woman while gazing around the Headmaster office.
"That is to be expected, which is why we should plan something to counter it."
The room then became silent until the woman broke it.
"I met the boy this morning…"
Dumbledore immediately put down his papers when he heard that from the noble's mouth. The headmaster gives her his full attention to the woman who seems to have taken great interest in his cabinet of memories.
"Catch something interesting?"
The woman paused and then finally looked at Dumbledore face to face. "I've noticed something quite peculiar."
"What is it?"
"When you tried to find me, did you kill some beasts?"
Dumbledore's not sure yet where this is going but he is surely interested, so he humours her.
"I did, a couple of times."
"What did you feel when you killed them?"
"...What do I feel?"
She nodded. Dumbledore tried to remember, thinking hard about it, to relive the moment when a vile beast fell under his spell inside his mind. Dumbledore is not quite sure but he does feel something odd that was not supposed to be present at the time.
She took a seat at the opposite side of Dumbledore's table.
"I'm quite attuned to knowing when one soul is damaged. I do not know if you slew any beasts because you already made yourself whole the moment you met me at that particular time but those feelings are not an oddity and should've been present."
Dumbledore was shocked by the revelation.
"So they are… people?"
"How is this connected to Harry?"
"I believe he never has the need to murder someone or something, but how did he possess a hurting soul?"
It suddenly clicked and Dumbledore let his mouth open as he was dumbfounded by the news. Harry's soul is damaged, and yet he never did anything that could chip his soul. How could that be?
"This is all news to me."
Dumbledore smiled. "This might be the key to unveil his secret."
Dumbeldore hugged the woman, "You truly are the person that we need. Brilliant progress, although for now, it is just more and more questions for us, however, more questions means more answers."
"Astonishing view for a riddle." She smiled.
"Albus, I'm curious about what is this thing that you keep putting in your mouth?" She said while pointing at a bowl full of bright yellow candy.
"Ah please taste some, it is my favourite."
She then took one and gingerly put it inside her mouth, in that instant her hand slammed the headmaster table with her fist and her eyes wide-open not focusing anywhere but keeping her sight on the floor, her body seemed to freeze in her seat until she vigorously shook her body.
"I-its… something..." She said grimacing the sour taste with an uncharacteristically weak voice.
"Well I'm afraid I don't have raspberry jam, it's hard to find a good one while you're not here." Said Dumbledore while trying to give the poor Lady some tea to help the unsuspecting fight from the candy.
"You shouldn't try to persuade me to make one for you, you know it's hard for me to refuse."
"Well that's quite unfortunate because yours is the best, those jams are my favourite because you often feed me with that."
She smiled, amused by the comment.
"Your silver tongue never ceases to amaze me.'
"You know well it's the truth but right now... let's join the other staff to talk about this semester"
When Harry got off from the train, his heart beamed with the expectation that he would hear the familiar voice shouting 'First 'ear! First 'ear' filled the whole platform.
Much to his disappointment that it was an old lady voice with clear pronunciation gathering the soon to be new generations of Hogwarts. Harry thought it was a bit curious to see Professor Grubbly-plank again, but right now he just wanted to see Hagrid again.
Did he leave? That can't be, he surely just caught a cold or something. Harry was bummed knowing one of the few things that he really looks forward to is missing just before his exciting wizarding school days even begin. With less energy he let himself shunted to the dark rain-washed road where a bunch of horseless stagecoaches awaited to transport students above first year and all outside the Hogsmeade station.
But then Harry hit other students who suddenly stopped in front of him while people on the back were still trying to move forward. There's a commotion among students near the carriages.
Harry could hear a rattle of woods and wheels so he tried to stand on his toe so he could peek at the cause of the commotion. Harry sees that the coach is no longer empty, between the shaft there's rather a poor-looking creature that resembles a horse although quite reptilian, almost without flesh with all the bones can be seen, their feet thumping the ground and their wings flapping uncontrollably.
"What happened to the carriages? It keeps shaking by itself." Said Ron who showed up behind Harry.
"What do you mean shaking by itself?" Ask Harry. "It's because of the horses."
Ron then looks at Harry and then looks at Carriages. "What horses?"
Harry thought Ron probably wasn't able to see from where they stand so he tried to ask for Hagrid instead. "Do you reckon-"
"-Where Hagrid is? I don't know mate, he probably caught a cold." Ron then pulled Harry to a rather less hectic area for a breather and so they could talk better. "Where's Pig?"
"With that Luna girl, kind enough to help me carry them, she's still behind."
"Well it's rare to see 'em this excited, I dunno if I should feel sorry or happy for you lot." Said a man with a wooden hand and wooden leg suddenly showed from the direction of Hogsmeade.
"Never thought I had to pamper students again at a time like this."
One of the senior students seemed to be beaming when he saw the man approaching the shaking stagecoaches. "Professor Kettleburn!"
After that, lots of students also cheered up.
"Retired! But anyway, let me help."
The horses that carried the carriages seemed to finally calm down with the help of Silvanus Kettleburn. One timid looking student from the second year was about to get into the first carriage but then Malfoy and their crooks show up, flashing his badges and bullying the timid student out of the carriage so he got it all by himself and his friends.
Not long after Hermione shows up from the crowd, panting. "Malfoy is the worst, all he did was abuse his power to bully people. I hope he gets karma soon!"
Not long after Hermione finished her rants, the horses that carried Malfoy's carriage got riled up, the door of the carriage got open and everyone inside was thrown to the ground when it stormed to Hogwarts with alarming speed.
"Bloody hell?!" Kettleburn was surprised to see the eagerness of the carriage.
Meanwhile, everyone's laughing at confused Malfoy that was unceremoniously kicked out from the carriage.
"Serve him right! Haha!" Shout Ron.
Malfoy is just trying to save what dignity is left within him and catch another carriage.
"That was the most bizarre, I've never seen them so excited." Said Luna suddenly appeared out of nowhere, surprising everyone.
"Them?" Hermione asks.
"The horse thing, they are riled." Harry is the one who responded this time.
Ron and Hermione give him a bemused look and don't understand what Harry means. "What do you mean by horse thing?"
"Horse thing, between the shafts! Look!" Harry pulled Ron and forced his head to face directly to the horses. But Ron only gives him another bemused look.
"What am I supposed to be looking at?"
"The h- can't you see them?"
"The carriage always goes by themselves, you alright?"
"Don't worry, I can see them too." Luna added, "since the first time I'm here. You're as sane as I am.'
If anything, it should have helped Harry to be more confident with what he sees but when it came out from Luna's mouth, for some reason he rather gave it up.
"Let's just go."
Harry rather not being told to have the same hallucination as Luna Lovegood. The mystery between why only he and Luna could see them while others seem to be oblivious with their existence he can think about when he's in a carriage.
One moment later when Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Luna finally got into the carriage they all seemed terrified by the alarming speed and how rocky the travel was.
"WHY DO I FEEL LIKE WE'RE MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE BY USING THIS CARRIAGE THIS YEAR?!" shout Ron fighting the noise of a cluttering wheel making contact with the ground.
"I DON'T KNOW, BUT MAYBE IT'LL STILL BETTER THAN WALKING," Harry replied.
"WHY ARE WE SCREAMING?!" ask Hermione, holding her dear life.
"THIS IS FUN!" add Luna, surprisingly doesn't make it any better.
Harry ends up unable to think of anything at all.
After one rocky journey, almost every single student in front of Hogwarts lost their breath, some just sitting in the corner holding their chest as if it was about to burst open, Some lie on their back on top of uncomfortable-looking stone steps, Malfoy and his gang trying their best to climb the steps with their wobbly legs.
"Bloody hell, it's worse than Ron's driving skill." Said Harry which invited a shout of protest from Ron.
"Couldn't even check at Hagrid's for the love of me." Hermione agreed.
Harry looked at the horse thing still riled up, when the harness let the creatures go, they instantly soar to the sky, circling Hogwarts until gone from behind the castle can no longer be seen.
"We better move, I'm starving from that high-speed violent experience." Said Ron taking the stone steps to the castle.
Harry and the others couldn't agree more and so they make their ways to the entrance hall in silence but occasionally groan.
Once they reach the Entrance hall, the torch is ablaze and filled with footsteps. And then the torch suddenly turned blue and nearly headless Sir Nicholas suddenly showed up with such a gleam on his face, Harry would never have thought to see the day where the dead look so alive.
"REJOICE! REJOICE YOU LOT! This year will be your lucky year!"
"You seem cheerful, Sir Nicholas." Harry cheered.
"How can I not? She's back! She's back!" Sir Nicholas said with such high spirit.
"Who's back," asked Ron but then the Fat Friar emerged from the ground.
"The Lady! Oh, I never thought I would see the day when she makes a return!" Said the Fat Friar.
Sir Nicholas then tried to hug the Fat Friar but failed miserably, everyone laughed at them but the two ghosts couldn't care less. "Who would've thought the Lady would come back after all this year, we must celebrate!"
"Who is this lady you speak of? You two seem to be fond of her, is she a ghost from somewhere?" This time Hermione is the one asking the dead.
"Oh no, she's alive- although we don't know how she's still alive she is! Oh, you lot lucky little bast-"
"SHE'S BACK!" Suddenly the Bloody Baron shows up with uncharacteristically the same spirits as Sir Nicholas and Fat Friar.
"Grace for our tormented soul." This time Grey Lady is the one who joins the festive.
"Oh hey, Grey Lady!" Luna greeted the ghost. "I've never seen ghosts collectively feel joyous in a single day, who is this Lady?"
Sir Nicholas then fly closer to Luna with a grin, "The beacon of light under that senile Penilus-"
"Phineas Nigellus" the Grey Lady corrected
"-Penillus reign, the only person that gives us the dead a time of peace!"
"Was it Brutus?" Baron asked.
"I thought it was that Mordicus Egg." The Fat Friar argues.
"All of you got confused when she came here just to take care of her children, she was under that Eupraxia Mole woman in her student years," Said Grey Lady.
"Well she had many," Baron said.
"What matters is, she's the only one who actually cares enough to give us a treat!" Add Fat Friar.
"The one who actually listens to our wail." Now Grey Lady added.
"The one who helped me to unshackle my overbearing guilt…" said the Bloody Baron while looking at Grey Lady.
"Even Peeves dares not to bother her unless it will bring her joy!" When Nicholas said that, all other ghosts muttered collectively how it could be true with a weak 'yeah... yeah, well yeah' and a somewhat concerned look.
"W-what? Why do you lot seem unsure?"
"She gives him too many toys, a bit of troublesome…" said Grey Lady
"Oh I certainly remember the blunderbuss she lent Peeves..." adds Bloody Baron.
"But she's a proper noble! Unlike Nicholas." Fat Friar added quickly.
"Far from what you call a snobby noble, unlike Nicholas." Added Baron
"A very accomplished noble too, unlike Nicholas" Grey Lady joined.
"ALRIGHT, I GET IT!" Nicholas snapped after all the ghosts bullied him. "But just for today, I don't even care with tasteless remarks, because she's BACK!"
All the ghosts then sing together as they leave the entrance hall and disappear from everyone.
"To see the dead in high spirits, I have to admit it does help to bear that hell of the carriage ride." Said Ron.
Harry grinned at the comment while the others couldn't help but smiled and nodded in agreement with Ron.
"Hope we can meet this Lady, you reckon this could be our new professor for Defence Against Dark Arts? I remember Fred and George said Dumbledore was lucky this year to find one who wants to fill the jinxed shoe." Ask Harry.
"Could be, I can only hope she is still fit enough to teach if that's the case." Said Hermione a bit sceptical.
"What do you mean?"
"The ghosts argued she's a beacon of light under the reign of someone. Phineas Nigellus? Brutus? Mordicus Egg? Confirmed to be under Eupraxia Mole? They are the name of Hogwarts headmaster before Dumbledore
Supposedly, Phineas Nigellus Black was already the headmaster for a while when Dumbledore was still a student and just enrolled at Hogwarts, and the other name is headmaster before Nigellus with Eupraxia Mole is the oldest of them all." Explain Hermione
"So this Lady is pretty much ancient?" Ask Harry.
"Could be on her deathbed, she's waaaay older than Dumbledore, and Dumbledore is in his what? Hundreds?"
"How do you know all of this trivia?" Ron seems baffled more by Hermione's knowledge about Hogwarts more than the age of this Lady that ghosts sung.
"She's the only one who reads that 'Hogwarts in History'' book, Ron," Harry reminded Ron which invited a glare from the girl.
"I'm just happy that Grey Lady smiled that wide," added Luna.
Harry and other students then arrive at the Great Hall, a very long table shows up each under their respectful houses banner.
Harry walks along the Gryffindor table finding seats with Ron and Hermione. He heard clearly and he could see smiles and bickering among students exchanging summer stories, commenting on their new haircuts, or simply greets their friends from different houses. Harry however can't help but notice that whenever he walks past someone they immediately whisper among themself, probably talking about him from Daily Prophet's slander on his name.
Harry couldn't care less, what he cares about the most is the sight of his giant friend on the table staff but alas there's no sign of him. Harry sat beside Neville while Ron and Hermione sat across from him.
"No sign of him," said Harry, bringing two of his best friends' attention to the staff table.
"He couldn't have left, couldn't he?" Ask Hermione.
"Of course he couldn't."
"Is he alright?" Ron seems to be more concerned about Hagrid's well being.
Harry then whispers to the point that only Ron and Hermione could hear them, "Maybe he's still away on you know… mission?"
"Yeah, yeah that must be it, I hope he's alright," said Ron trying to reassure himself.
Hermione is still surveying the staff table and something catches her eyes. "Who's that?"
Both Harry and Ron try to align their sight with Hermione, right in the middle Harry's eyes light up when he sees Dumbledore, even though he still feels a bit bitter about what happened in the hearing, he can't help but feel happy and safe when he sees the headmaster.
Dumbledore however is seemingly occupied by someone who keeps talking to his ears, a woman with curly short hair, a bit big with no pronounced neck and an alarming amount of pink and weird cardigan.
"That's Umbridge woman!"
"Who?" Ask Hermione.
"Umbridge, she's in my hearing, she works for Fudges!"
"Nice cardigan," said Ron mockingly.
"She works for Fudge, why is she here?!" Hermione then narrowed her eyes as she surveyed the staff table, "No…. No, she couldn't."
Harry and Ron are not sure what Hermione is talking about but they didn't ask, Harry's attention was caught by the sight of Professor Grubbly-Plank walking to the table staff and taking a seat on Hagrid's chair, which means the first year was already on the front door.
Sure enough, the great hall door opened, showing Professor McGonagall carrying a stool and a hat, leading a bunch of scared-looking first-year students behind her.
The sorting then finally started, but before Professor McGonagall could call anyone's name, the hat oddly gave a piece of advice in the form of a song.
To unite not divide, basically the meaning behind the song. Harry found that a bit weird, he didn't remember the sorting hat ever gave advice before.
Once the last of the first-year students got sorted out, The Headmaster stood up from his seat.
"To the newcomer, Welcome! To our old hands- welcome back! There will be time for speech-making but this is not it. Tuck in!"
Suddenly a lot of food appears out of thin air in front of them. Ron as usual engorged the food savagely while Hermione looked at him irritatingly. Harry then followed suit because that rough ride earlier really affected his stomach.
Harry out of curiosity asked nearly-headless Nicholas if that's normal for the hat to give advice.
Sir Nicholas says that it is not the first time, but he usually gives advice whenever he feels there's a danger coming.
"But how does a hat know danger is coming?" Ron asks.
"I certainly do not know, I don't even know a danger could come at all when our Lady would make her presence this year! But she's awfully late and that makes me nervous. I should gather other ghosts and try to look for her!"
"Nick, please," Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Uuuuh, I don't know! I mean, that hat lives inside Dumbledore's office so maybe he picked it up there, anyway, I must go!"
And so nearly-headless Sir Nicholas flies off to other ghosts and starts to whisper among them.
"The ghosts are uncomfortably clingy to this Lady."
Harry and Ron only shrugged at Hermione's comment.
"To stand together from within," Harry said as he looked over Malfoy at the Slytherin table. "Fat Chance."
Once everyone finished their food and the sound of chatter started to rise again, Dumbledore took the podium. Everyone ceased talking immediately as they turned their head towards the Headmaster.
"Well, now that we are all digesting another magnificent feast, I beg a few moments of your attention for the usual start-of-term notices," said Dumbledore.
"First years ought to know that the Forest in the grounds is out-of-bounds to students, and a few of our older students ought to know by now, too."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione can't help but cover their mouth with their knuckles to contain their laughter.
"Mr Filch, the caretaker, has asked me, for what he tells me is the four-hundred-and-sixty-second time, to remind you all that magic is not permitted in corridors between classes, nor are a number of other things, all of which can be checked on the extensive list now fastened to Mr Filch's office door.
"We have had two changes in staffing this year. We are very pleased to welcome back Professor Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons."
Dumbledore then clapped which was followed by the rest of the people.
"We have a new Professor who will be taking Defence Against Dark Arts, unfortunately, she appears to be late. Worry not, she will be here before the end of the day.
"In addition, we would like to Welcome Ms Dolores Jane Umbridge from the Ministry of Magic who's become Overseer in Hogwarts to help us focus on the conduct of studying magic, as a form of good faith between Hogwarts and the Ministry."
Then there's a round of applause while Harry, Ron, and Hermione only give one or two claps with concerned looks, not only does this Umbridge woman just scream trouble for them, but Dumbledore didn't state anything on how long Miss Grubbly-Plank will be teaching.
Dumbledore continued, "Tryouts for the house Quidditch teams will take place on the-"
Dumbledore had to stop mid-sentence and look over Ms Umbridge who was already standing from her seat. The great hall fell into an awkward silence as Dumbledore was taken aback by the sudden interruptions. Then the Umbridge woman let out the 'Hem, hem!' sound and Dumbledore along with the rest of the students finally understand that she wants to make a speech.
Harry could see the surprised looks from other staff and McGonagall didn't even try to hide her extremely irritated look.
Everyone smirked and thought that this Umbridge must be very popular among the staff. No one interrupted Dumbledore, this woman clearly doesn't know how things work in Hogwarts.
Dumbledore steps aside from his podium and gives the spotlight to Umbridge. The woman in painfully pink attire walked to the podium and cleared her throat.
"Thank you, Headmaster," Umbridge simpered, "for those kind words of welcome."
Ms Umbridge looked at the general of students and smiled- an uncomfortably wide smile that is- with breathy noise she once again filled the Great Hall with her annoying high-pitched voice.
"Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts I must say! To see such happy faces looking up at me."
Harry looked around to see a bunch of other students also did the same, to see if there was indeed a happy face looking up to that sore-in-the-eyes woman. But the exchange looks between students only tell that they are taken aback to be treated like they are a bunch of five years old.
"I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all and I'm sure we'll be very good friends."
Everyone then collectively agreed without any single noise that this woman lied as she breathed.
"I'll be her friend as long as I don't have to borrow that cardigan." Harry heard Parvati whisper to Lavender and lapsed into silent giggles.
"HEM, HEM!" Umbridge cleared her throat once more and suddenly her demeanour changed drastically.
"The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be-"
Amid her business-like speeches that seem to appear out of nowhere, suddenly there's a small brief quake that can be felt. The water on Harry's chalice vibrates and the candles seem to shake as well.
Everyone looked around as the quake left the hall.
"HEM, HEM!" Umbridge cleared her throat once more and everyone looked at her again.
"As I was saying, The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young-"
Now everyone could feel the low grumble on their feet, only briefly but enough to make even the staff a bit alarmed. Those events don't seem to faze Ms Umbridge all that much aside from the visibly annoyed look on her face.
"The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education-"
Once again interrupted by a quake, Ms Umbridge seems to snap on the third time.
"What's going on?" She asks with concealed (but not really) annoyance in her tone.
This time however the quake doesn't seem to dissipate but rather consistently getting stronger and stronger, the candles and the silverwares that still on the tables rattled along till Harry's chalice decided to fall and pour the water inside to the floor.
Dumbledore looks at Mr Filch, there's a faint whine coming from Mr Filch before he finally moves himself towards the Great Hall door, trying to check what's going on.
He opens the door a little bit…
And immediately has his mouth and eyes wide open, seems to be shocked- aghast at what he sees. The students can only hear a faint scream of a man from outside.
"CLOSE THE DOOR NOOOW!"
All the staff stand from their seats with concern. Mr Filch, although tumbling down, is trying his best to close the door as fast as he can. Before the door can be completely closed, a silhouette of a man flying fast to the centre of Great Hall with a trail of smokes can be seen for everyone.
"AAAAAAAAA!" A man's scream filled the hall.
The smoke then reveals Professor Kettleburn carried by a woman wearing a black- well-decorated tricorn hat as the single feather on her hat still looks smooth despite being flung a hundred miles an hour. Her shoulder cape that attached to her black embroidered coat flailed around under the force of the wind as they skidded on the floor on the woman's black heeled boots (Harry almost swear he saw a bit of spark from it.)
Professor Kettleburn stopped screaming and turned into heavy breathing once the woman managed to stop their momentum, leaving a gust of wind behind them.
Before anyone could give more attention to the newcomer, the door that was barely closed by Mr Filch made a loud thud, repeatedly, they could see the door thumping trying to burst open and Mr Filch struggling to hold it all by himself.
The woman waved her hand and then formed a fist, suddenly the door tightly locked and no longer shook, all that left was a loud thump that gradually dissipated, giving back a moment of peace to the Great Hall once more.
"By Merlin's beard that was the most exciting thing…" said Professor Kettleburn, still being carried by the woman.
Both now turn their gaze into the see-through ceiling to the sky. The staff followed their gaze and so did Harry along with other students, Harry could see a silhouette of black trails circling the sky right on top of Hogwarts and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon.
"What are they looking at?" Ask Ron.
Harry is more than happy to not redoing the horse thing debate.
"Are you harmed?" Ask the woman while putting the wooden limb Professor down to his feet.
"Certainly would if it's not for your interference, thank you!"
"Silvanus? What happened?" Dumbledore asked.
Mr Kettleburn however approaches Dumbledore and decides to give info by a whisper.
While that happens, everyone finally manages to survey the woman who carried Mr Kettleburn.
Ginny immediately recognizes the woman with a surprised look along with Harry and Neville.
"That's the woman on the train!" Neville said.
"She even still wears the same clothes, just with extra flair, she looks like a noble." Add Ginny.
Mr Kettleburn then runs towards a now calm door while muttering under his breath, "Where's Hagrid when you need him, bloody Thestral herd."
"Are you well by yourself?" Ask the woman as Mr Kettleburn passed her.
"As certain as I can be, please do not worry milady, your kindness is appreciated but I believe Dumbledore has been waiting for your arrival for a while now."
He then bowed slightly towards the woman and left the hall. However, Mr Kettleburn was not expecting the door to be locked and he smiled sheepishly towards the Lady, she waved her hand and now the door opened by itself, he thanked her one last time till finally gone from everyone's eyesight.
Now stood in the middle of the hall is a striking woman with silky pale-blonde hair, her eyes are covered behind her hat but Harry can feel her gaze are as strong as Goblin's made steel, as she walks towards Dumbledore who's been smiling warmly to the woman, there's an air of elegance like a knight.
She then took her hat off and suddenly long gone the hard-cold aura around her, replaced by a warm atmosphere as she let her smile be seen for everyone.
All of the students suddenly seemed to have bloodtinge on their cheeks, surprised by such a well-sculpted face. Curiously with a very young-looking face as if it was a porcelain doll, Harry is certain that it was the last thing everyone expected to accompany the woman's silhouette.
There are whispers amongst students and Harry could see the joy of the ghosts who broke their discussion and glued their eyes to the woman.
"Forgive my tardiness, there were some unexpected difficulties when I met an… old friends."
"Don't worry about it, all is well." Said Dumbledore while walking towards the woman and immediately hugged her. "I believe an introduction is in order."
Dumbledore immediately took over the podium. Umbridge, with a sour look, forced herself to take her seat.
The woman stands beside Dumbledore as he starts to speak.
"We are pleased to welcome a familiar face to Hogwarts itself, and yet new to all of us… Everyone could see the joyous face of the Ghosts."
Everyone glanced at the group of transparent beings in the great hall with a wide smile on their faces. Sir Nicholas can be heard to whisper 'Milady!' With enthusiasm.
"We welcome back Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower, you can call her Professor Maria, she will be taking Defence Against Dark Arts."
The sound and the look of the bonfire in front of Dumbledore gives some sort of calming sense at this very moment. From where he's sitting, Plain Doll and the eldritch being can be seen in the middle of the flower field, and Dumbledore can't help but keep staring at the ever-changing creature.
"What did you see?"
Ask Lady Maria who is taking a seat near the bonfire.
Dumbledore looks at her for a moment, unsure of what to say but the Lady patiently awaits his answer. Dumbledore cleared his throat and looked at the Eldritch being once more.
"Well… he… I see tentacles and an eye."
"Is that so…"
Dumbledore gives a questioning look. "What did you see?"
Lady Maria let out a faint smile while looking at the creatures.
"I see an honest man."
There's a moment of silence, a peaceful silence between the two as they watch Plain Doll pick a flower to be put on the Great One's incomprehensible body as if they are just playing around.
The view makes the atmosphere quite comfortable, light, and forget the horrors of the forsaken city. Just like seeing a mother entertain her child.
"How did you find this place?" Lady Maria asks.
"It's almost a century."
Dumbledore let out a small chuckle "it never left me."
Lady Maria put another wood to the bonfire, keeping the pace of their talk slow quite deliberately.
"I'm happy to hear that…"
Lady Maria then puts her tricorn hat aside, she holds Dumbledore's hand gently.
Dumbledore hold her hand tightly to hold his overflowing feelings, and it seems Lady Maria already sensed that
"She's well… already forgive herself, about mum... she lives peacefully in Hogsmeade with Aberforth… All thanks to you."
Dumbledore holds her hands tighter as the tears in his eyes start to well up.
"I thought I…. killed you. We even have your tombstone in Godric's Hollow… Why didn't you come back?"
Maria turns her head down, a familiar feeling resurfaces within her, remembering the time when she was still a vile beast for those scholars.
A pang of overbearing guilt. To see the child she once raised grow up into an old man who still cannot forgive himself of something that's beyond his control does pain her.
"Flora, the good hunter, granted me my last wish to have my fondest memories to get what it deserves, so he gave me a second life, to be reborn out of his kindness."
Maria paused for a beat, as the flash of old memories appeared inside her mind.
'Lady Maria! Lady Maria, did you come to visit us? Lady Maria, thank you very much for the flowers, they are beautiful! Lady Maria, play with us! Lady Maria, thank you for your kindness! Lady Maria cooked for us today, we must not leave anything left on the table! Lady Maria! Lady Maria! Lady Maria!
Lady Maria, please do not cry.'
Maria immediately shook her head, wishing she would not delve too deep into her memory. She then continued her reason to Dumbledore.
"But when that accident happened between you, Aberforth, and Grindelwald, I returned here only to find he was livid. It was no easy task to appease his wrath so I have to stay."
Dumbledore tensed and glanced towards the Great one and then back to Maria.
"Did he forgive me? Did you forgive me?"
Maria nodded, she put her gloves away and caressed Dumbledore's wrinkled cheek with her smooth and pale hand, smiling.
"You should do it as well, forgive yourself."
"Why did you forgive me?"
"Because you're my little bumblebee."
Dumbledore cried the moment that words left her mouth, for so long he held that guilt, punishing himself as long as he could remember even though he could barely stand by his own two feet. To think he still had a chance to gain a little bit of mercy for all the mistakes he had done was a wash of huge relief.
"I know Kendra felt the same towards Ariana."
Maria wiped his tears away and Dumbledore smiled back at Maria.
"Thank you." Said Dumbledore faintly.
"Was I a good mother figure for you?"
Dumbledore let out a small laugh.
"As good as a mother wishes to ever be…."
That lasted for a moment until Maria let herself go and put her gloves back.
"Glad Kendra is not around to hear you say that, She might drown herself in her bottomless pit of jealousy."
Both let out a chuckle.
"Let's finish your business with Flora, I assume you're a busy man to gamble your way to find a Great One for help."
"He said that what I'm looking for is actually you," Dumbledore replied with curiosity. "What's that mean?"
"Means I'm part of the bargain."
Maria then puts her tricorn hat back and so her expression becomes stoic with it, long gone the warm smile that has been plastered on her face all this time which admittedly makes Dumbledore a little tense. Dumbledore then stands beside her once she asks him to follow her.
"Mutual benefit, perhaps, could be that's the reason why he lets you come here in the first place. oftentimes an apparition or portkey in this city only leads you into inevitable death. Flora is not the only Great One to reside in Yharnam and by the nature of those magic, an apparition could crush you between their dreams but here… you… are."
Dumbledore put on a thinking face, trying to deduce what kind of bargain the Great One wants from an old Wizard like him, but he thinks one probability is very likely to happen after being told by the Eldritch being what he's actually looking for. Dumbledore let out his familiar twinkling smile.
"By chance, you still fancy taking care of children?"
Lady Maria in this story will look exactly like the cover of this fanfiction *minus the eye colour*
I will illustrate the outfit as soon as I have the means to draw one. (my pen broken).