Start of Term (Hogwarts) (cont'd)

The Harry Potter books focused on the lives of Hogwarts students, but this story centers around the teachers and staff members who are in charge of educating and protecting these magical children. Set in approximately the Cursed Child time period, it follows the stories of the guardians and caretakers who keep Hogwarts safe. With great power comes great responsibility... and lots of magical headaches.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Eve Travers

"Shrieking Shack," Eve mused. "Yes. Good idea. The real Bale must be close. If the impostor is going to pretend to be a student, can't keep the prisoner far away - hard to sneak out as a kid."

Getting into the Shrieking Shack, though, was going to be a challenge. After all the hijinks that had gone on there in the time of the Dark Lord, the building was much more carefully locked down now, both magically and otherwise - and it had been almost impossible to get into in the first place.

"Any ideas for how?" Eve asked. "I don't really know much. From before."

At the time the Death Eaters had used the Shrieking Shack, Eve had been pregnant with Liam and hadn't really been in on many of the plans. In a way, that was a mercy, but at times like this, it meant she lacked knowledge that might have helped.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Rosemary Bain

"The Headmistress may be our best bet, once again. I have no doubt that she would have had a hand in protecting the children from the hazards presented by a dilapidated piece of history we all would be better off forgetting. But..." she paused, the anger from being played by not-Bale dissolving into the thrill of problem solving, "perhaps we don't need to go inside. What if we use the human presence revealing spell to see if there's anyone inside the building? If there is, then we have a reason to get in. If not, then we can still inform the Headmistress of what is going on and turn our focus elsewhere."
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Cambria Morehouse

"Yes, good idea," Cambria agreed thoughtfully. She paused for a moment, then added gently, "Eve, I think you should go back. It's not that we don't want you here, but I'm worried about Barclay. If he finds out you're not in the dungeon... I'm so sorry. But I don't want to give him an excuse. You'll get your pardon. But in the meantime..."

Eve nodded. "You're right. Have to be careful of him."

She still remembered how he had cornered her in the classroom. How he had hit her. Threatened her. How scared she had been. She shuddered.

Cambria smiled sadly at her. Then, very gently, she kissed Eve on the cheek.

Eve felt her knees weaken, and she smiled in spite of herself. "See you," she said. As she walked back to the castle, she kept her hand pressed to her cheek where the kiss had landed.

Cambria was a little red when she turned back to Rosemary, but remained businesslike. "After you!" she said.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Rosemary Bain

She disliked the idea of Eve going back to Hogwarts unescorted, her insides twisting as she remembered the bruise on Eve's face and her unwillingness to name her assailant. Of course it was Barclay, there was no doubt in her mind about that, but it was the way he seemed to think he could get away with treating her friend that way that really got under her skin. If it weren't for fact that a child was in danger this very minute, they would all be in the library working on the appropriate forms to get Eve out from under the man's thumb for good.

The exchange between her friends was the only thing that brought Rosemary back down to earth, away from that dizzying feeling she got whenever her temper managed to be aroused. She offered Cambria an over-exaggerated bow coupled with a sweep of her robes in the direction of the Shrieking Shack. "Onward!" she proclaimed in an affected voice, aiming to sound like one of their old male professors just for a bit of fun.

The antics soon died down as they approached their target. The bleak landscape never seemed to attract any sunlight at all, the grasses in a persistent withered form. The shack itself was little more than that at first glance. Just a typical countryside fixture. The pall it cast, though, was unmistakable. She shuddered, then shook out her robes, her wand seeming to appear spontaneously in her hand. She glanced at Cambria to ensure that the other witch was ready for the feeling that was about to fall on her and nodded once before casting the charm.

"Homenum revelio"

The words were little more than a whisper. It was as if she were afraid to awaken the house.
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Cambria Morehouse

They paused as the spell hung in the air. Cambria had to remind herself to breathe. But nothing happened. Did that mean the spell hadn't worked? Or maybe their guess - as logical as it had seemed - was simply wrong. Maybe there was no one inside after all...?

A moment later, though, Cambria realized that their efforts weren't in vain after all. Whether by chance or as some side effect of Rosemary's spell, Cambria's eyes fell on a shoe, half-buried in the tall grass near the fence that surrounded the Shrieking Shack property. She prodded it with her wand, then the toe of her boot, just to be on the safe side. When nothing out of the ordinary happened, she picked it up.

It was indeed a boy's shoe, about the size a Third Year would wear. Surely it was Anthony Bale's! It must have come off the boy's foot while he struggled with his kidnapper.

"This is proof..." Cambria began, then realized she was getting ahead of herself. It wasn't proof yet - not really. Even if they could prove it was Bale's shoe, where did that leave them? Whoever was impersonating him in Hogsmeade hadn't had one telltale bare foot. But it was a start.

"Almost proof," she corrected. "But we should look for more."

They scanned the ground nearby, but nothing else of note turned up. Cambria was starting to get frustrated, when the sudden return of Lucie startled her. Cambria was far from an expert on bird communication, but she got the feeling that Lucie was urgently directing them back to Hogwarts Castle.
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Rosemary Bain

Had she expected to just...find young master Bale? No, not really. Though, in the depths of her heart, optimism beat out a constant thrum, it would never quite trounce practicality. Clearly whomever it was currently using the child's body as a guise was far too clever to be obvious about where they had put said child. Still, the shoe was a heartening clue - mostly because it could be useful.

"Hah, we have him now! We can track Bale using his shoe - or at least find out if the shoe actually belongs to someone else on campus..."

She raised her wand to perform the incantation, but paused as Lucie's cry reached her ears. Instead, she raised her arm to offer the jackdaw an ample landing place. The bird bobbed her head and cawed most piteously.

"It seems that there's an emergency we have to deal with first. I do hope it doesn't keep us from tracking down our quarry for long."

With that, she tossed the bird lightly into the air and she obliged by flying in the direction of said emergency. Lucie was nothing if not accurate in her remembrance of locations.
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Eve Travers

When they arrived back at Hogwarts, the source of Lucie's distress was immediately apparent. Barclay was leading Eve rather roughly by the arm across the drawbridge, surrounded by several other Aurors with wands drawn. Eve's wrists were shackled. She wasn't resisting - she was smart enough to realize how that would end - but she wasn't planning to go entirely without a whisper, either.

"Exactly what am I being charged with, Auror Barclay?" Eve asked, her soft voice carrying surprisingly well on the light breeze.

"Attempted murder!" Barclay said triumphantly, his eyes practically glittering.

"Attempted murder of whom?" Eve asked. Her tone was completely flat, almost indifferent.

"You have been implicated in the death... of a rat," Barclay told her with a slight flourish. He was enjoying himself. Enjoying being (at least in his own mind) right.

McGonagall was trailing the group, cheeks flushed and hat askew, clearly angry at this invasion of her school. "A rat? Surely not, Auror. If killing rats is illegal, every farmer in Britain would be in Azkaban."

"The death of the rodent is not the crime, obviously," Barclay replied shortly. "I said attempted murder. She clearly poisoned the rat in an attempt to test the potion she would use against a human..."

"How is that 'clear'?" McGonagall demanded, her voice becoming thinner and more shrill. "You have no evidence that Eve was responsible, let alone that it was motivated by..."

Barclay was about to cut her off, but Eve spoke over him instead.

"I would never kill a rat," she said firmly and with finality.

"But you would kill a human?" Barclay demanded.

"If I had to," Eve replied in the same calm, neutral tone.

"You would murder a person 'if you had to.' Yet never a rat?" Barclay chuckled.

"Never a rat," Eve agreed, either not noticing or ignoring his sarcasm. "Rats are innocent. Humans, by and large, are not. As we see from your attempt to drag me back to Azkaban. A rat would never do that."

"Is that a threat?" Barclay demanded. Suddenly his wand was out and pointing at Eve's face.

Eve didn't react to the wand. She just eyed him with a level stare as her brain tried to follow all the steps that had transformed her statement into the threat Barclay apparently perceived from her.
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Rosemary Bain

The Aurors' cloaks had been immediately recognizable, even from a distance, and she'd broken into a run. The heels of her boots made deep impressions in the soft soil, mud flicking up to stick to her robes and face. Their approach did not go unnoticed. Heads swivelled in their direction, wands following the moving targets. Rosemary put up her hands, palms outward, and slowed to a jog. She would have stopped right in front of Barclay if she had been allowed, but two Aurors made to intercept her and placed themselves directly in her path so that she was forced to stop. Out of breath, but the redness in her cheeks were clearly not just due to exertion. Her eyes flashed as she caught up with the conversation, leaning to the side to make sure she could catch Auror Barclay's attention.

"Actually, excuse me Auror, but I do believe that you received some misinformation. I was the one who discovered the poisoned rat. I discerned that it was meant for Keeva - pardon, the acromantula. Apologies, Headmaster, I was going to inform you once I knew more. I just didn't want to alarm the students."

The look she gave McGonagall was contrite, but she quickly returned her attention to Barclay, the hard stare returning.

"Eve would never harm Keeva - and she wasn't in a position to have put the poisoned rat in my quarters. Auror, you have the wrong person. There are many people here who want to see that acromantula in the ground. I should think if you are to start making inquiries that you should start with them. I can give you a list."
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Cambria Morehouse and Auror Barclay

There was a murmuring among the Aurors. What Rosemary had done was not... done. It was not according to policy. But the door she had opened with this new testimony was more important than standing on ceremony.

For most of them.

Barclay's mouth opened and closed a few times, then his tongue darted nervously across his lips - his mouth had suddenly gone dry.

Rosemary had left him in a terrible bind. He was not in any way going to waste resources investigating an attack on an acromantula. The wretched beast should have been put down already - and would have been, had it not been for the Minister's intervention - and he considered its demise a public service. Barclay had no desire to look into the matter more closely. However, he also realized he could not press his case against Eve without at least a pretense of considering exculpatory evidence. Not in front of her apparent friends, and McGonagall, and even his own Aurors.

The damnable woman had him in a stalemate.

There was one weak link in the chain, though. A desperate idea resolved itself in his mind. He turned to Eve. "You've convinced these professors to lie for you? Or perhaps you've cursed them, hm? I hope for their sakes, that's true. Lying to an Auror to shield a Death Eater would certainly merit a stint in Azkaban too. Tell me, Eve - are they responsible, or are you? Will you go to Azkaban alone, or drag them with you?"

For Cambria, the scene suddenly seemed to slow. She rushed to Eve's side, made a fruitless attempt to dissuade Eve from the inevitable. Because she already knew what Eve was going to say.

"I acted alone," Eve said. "You can't send them to Azkaban. I'm the only one who is responsible for what happened."

"No!" Cambria exclaimed in a half-sob. Surely they could all see that Eve was being manipulated? That her 'confession' was so nebulous because she didn't even know quite what she was supposed to be admitting to?

Apparently the Aurors had the same thought, because they began to murmur.

"But Barclay..." One ventured hesitantly.

"But nothing!" Barclay barked back. "She has admitted her crimes. Arrest her immediately."

Three figures suddenly appeared at the end of the bridge - the closest that a person could Apparate to Hogwarts - and began to stride purposefully toward them. Cambria drew in a breath of tentative relief as she recognized them. The distinctive light-blond hair of the returning Draco Malfoy. The woman with dark skin - Hermione Granger, the Minister for Magic. The other one took her a few more seconds to place. Slightly unruly tousled dark hair. Glasses. Looked of an age with the other two. This must be Harry Potter, the Head of Magical Law Enforcement.

The relief was only tentative, indeed. These people had the power to spare Eve... or to make her life very, very difficult.

Draco had already pledged to help. Minister Granger had seemed reasonable in their last meeting. But Harry Potter was the wild card. Cambria had never met him. She'd heard of him, of course. Of his efforts against Voldemort, his bravery - but also his tendency to be mercurial. He certainly had every reason to hate Death Eaters. Would he understand how far Eve had come? How different she was than the tormentors of his youth?

Harry stared at Eve for a long moment. Eve shrank back so she was half-hidden by Cambria, and stared at the ground. Cambria was struck again by how thin she was. How pale. Just skin and bone and haunted eyes, locked in a dungeon for nearly two decades.

The Head of Magical Law Enforcement acknowledged her with a nod, but directed his words to the Auror who held her captive. "Really, Barclay? This is your terrifying Death Eater?"

"Sir!" Barclay blustered. "The things she has done since coming to Hogwarts have..."

Harry waved a hand dismissively. "I've heard a lot of insinuations, Barclay, but you've been extremely light on actual proof. I came here to see for myself because frankly, nothing in your reports - your lengthy, extensive reports - was convincing at all."

Barclay turned red. "Sir, you of all people... all those years ago... you know what she did."

"I don't even know her," Harry said quietly. "If she was as bad as all that, I'd remember her name."

"She worked for you-know-who..."

Harry shrugged. "So did a lot of people. So you have no actual evidence to present...? Very well. I've seen enough, Hermione. I'll agree to the pardon. You?"

The Minister nodded, her dark eyes fixed on Barclay with what appeared to be irritation - a woman far too busy to be called away from her desk for nonsense. "Yes. This has gone on long enough."

Draco unrolled a parchment, and Hermione and Harry produced quills and signed it. Hermione then tucked it into her robes, and then Harry addressed Eve directly for the first time.

"Professor, forgive Barclay for being... overzealous," he said, inclining his head toward her. "He won't bother you again. For what it's worth, as far as I'm concerned, welcome to Hogwarts."

"Thank you," Eve whispered... then practically collapsed onto Rosemary and Cambria in gratitude.
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Re: Start of Term (Hogwarts)

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Rosemary Bain

It all seemed to happen so quickly despite the strange feeling that time was standing still. The flap of robes in the wind. The turn of the whole body of Aurors as one toward the three individuals at the edge of her field of view. A field of view that very narrowly included little but Auror Barclay. At that moment, she realized precisely how much she loathed the man. The way he had hounded Eve. How he discounted life that wasn't human. He did not deserve his post.

Eve's sudden contact seemed to break anger's hold. Her eyes felt dry and she blinked rapidly, severing the stare she'd been maintaining for...seconds? Minutes? It was hard to say. Rosemary absently caught up both women in her arms and finally acknowledged the presence of three of the most powerful people in the magic community with a solemn nod. That nod ended in a brief burrowing of her chin against first Cambria's, then Eve's hair at the crown of their heads. Her hands still shook with the remnants of adrenaline.

Coming to herself, she spared no further notice to the Aurors, nor anyone else outside her circle. "We should celebrate - and move you back upstairs. A free woman, just as you should be!"
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