Chapter 4

New First Years

The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry always provided a refuge during times of trouble. It was the safe house, the haven: a place where evil dared not venture. The magic in the school ran deep, emblazoned there by the founding four, and it protected Hogwarts more than most knew. Despite all of this, dark clouds were beginning to gather.

No one noticed at first. The new second years, Agatha, Donal, Brian, and Avery were oblivious, content in their world of classes and trifles. The just arrived first years suspected nothing. Even most of the faculty remained in the dark, unaware. There were just a very few who knew, but they did not understand.

Three Professors, Blacknight, Mayvero, and Danuliete, were privy to the beginning of it. Their purpose was noble. The three adults sought only to cure a student of a dreadful disease. Miss Dominique Snelly, a girl who had always been on the far side of the truth, had been growing progressively ill. She dreamed visions, saw nightmares. Reality was always just beyond her grasp, no matter how firmly she denied it. For a long time, the cause of the hallucination remained an enigma.

And then Headmistress Danuliete made a startling discovery.

Dominique Snelly was the victim of a powerful curse. As a child she had stumbled into a convention of Dark wizards, drawn to their power like a moth to a flame. The leader of the society, a man known as Prince John Paul, had seen the magical blood in her, and decided not to kill her. Maybe he pitied her, for she was only a child. Maybe he knew how useful she would prove to him in later life. Either way, he cast a powerful memory charm, one that was not intended to be broken.

But things went wrong. The young Dom dodged the charm, and it smacked into one of the glowing orbs of light that lit the conference, before rebounding onto the girl. Due to the combination of the light charm and the memory charm, the effects were tremendously damaging. Dominique Snelly did not forget Prince. She lost her sense of self, and her perception of reality.

Ten years later, when the misplaced curse was discovered through tireless research, aimed at saving Miss Snelly, Danuliete decided to contact the only person who could now remove the spell. She would implore him, on behalf of her student, to reverse the curse. That person was Prince John Paul.

The dark clouds thickened above Hogwarts. Yet many, most, in fact, remained oblivious.

It was the day before classes started, the day of the Opening Feast, and Avery had been in the Great Hall, not exactly minding his own business, but then he was certain had not deserved what he had gotten. Yet a few misplaced comments in a conversation involving Megan Vining (that girl was no end of trouble) had earned him a broken nose.

So, he found himself walking into the Hospital Wing, blood dripping off of a handkerchief and onto the floor.

“Erm, could you fix my nose?” he asked the Medic, feeling quite stupid for going to the Hospital Wing for such a small thing. But he was positive that he had heard his nose crack under Megan’s fist, and he wanted to get it fixed, so his nose would not be grossly deformed.

Aiko Watanabe, a small oriental first year, pushed the door of the Hospital Wing open quietly, under the guise of trying not to disturb the sleeping patients. In truth, she didn’t want to scare herself, again, and look like a fool in front of those who were awake.

Not that it would have made a difference. It was only her second day and she had already been humiliated in front of her year mates. Her usual ebony hair now shone a bright orange, courtesy of Megan. Hearing some older students talking about the Hospital Wing (or rather, their friend that had been sent there), she had decided that if anyone could reverse her hair, it was the nurse.

Recognizing a boy from earlier—he had been in the hall when Megan hexed her—she cautiously waved a hello and silently wished him a fast recovery. Megan had punched him, and it seemed his nose was still bleeding, however lightly. But if what Megan had said was true, about him being a stalker…did he deserve it? Then Megan had turned her hair orange, which did not persuade Aiko to believe her fully. Still…Megan had not been talking to her when she had said it, so there was no reason for her to lie.

Seeing the nurse begin to head towards Avery, Aiko gulped nervously and followed. She wanted her hair to go back to normal, even if it meant being near the stalker.

Avery laughed inwardly as he saw the new firstie enter the Wing with orange hair.

“Hi!” he said, waving to the orange haired girl. “Megan, huh?”

Aiko’s gaze snapped up to the boy with the bloody nose, and she positioned herself behind the Medic’s back a bit more.

A horrible thought crossed Aiko’s mind suddenly, and no matter how she tried, she could not be rid of it. What if Megan and Avery were in on the bullying together? The punch could have been a trick, to drag her in to see him so he could cast more awful spells on her. Her eyes widened, but she forced a small smile.

“Yes, it was Megan.” she said simply. “I trust your nose is feeling better?”

“Sorta…but it kinda feels weird… I’ve never had a broken nose, much less such a bloody one. Thanks for asking!” Avery replied, cheerfully enough.

Avery saw the girl slide behind the Medic more, causing him to raise an eyebrow. “Erm… Is everything all right?” he asked, walking closer.

Aiko tried not to back up a couple of steps as he came nearer. Her feet desperately wanted to run from the room and hide back in the library, instead of in the hospital with a stalker. But good manners, as well as an unbending will to break her cowardliness, kept her feet firmly planted.

“What did Megan mean about you being a stalker?” she blurted out, nerves making her voice seem louder than usual. Immediately she blushed and hung her head. Could she have been any blunter? And what if he got mad? Helplessly, she looked at Kelly, an older Hufflepuff who was listening, for help.

”Don’t worry,” began Kelly. “Avery’s not a stalker! Meg was probably just makin’ stuff up! She’s actually quite good at that. Watch out for it.”

“Anyway, sorry again about your hair.” Kelly continued trying to make up for Megan’s actions, for Megan was her twin sister. The two were polar opposites though, as Megan was in Slytherin and Kelly in Hufflepuff.

“It should be fixable with a simple reverse spell. What was your original color? Well, I’ll just go ahead and give you the charm! First you say Coloris then the color with an -is on the end.” Kelly stated.

“Fortunately Meg’s always trying to spell me so I’ve gotten pretty good at reversing them. That help?” She finished, watching Aiko to see if the girl understood.

Aiko blushed furiously at Kelly’s words. How could she have been so gullible? “Gomen, Avery-san,” she muttered, apologizing for her mistake. Coming out from behind the nurse’s robes, she gave him a shy smile. “I should probably fix my hair now.”

Aiko looked down at her wand dismally. Her parents had warned what would happen if she abused magic, throwing in gracious amounts of death and misery.

It was just hair…No! Her hair was important. It would be disgraceful to go home multicolored simply because she had been afraid of a reversal spell. Pointing her wand at her head she whispered ferociously, “Coloris Blackis!”

She could feel the warmth as the spell swept its way through each strand, and couldn’t help but be disgusted. It was magic.

As the heat faded she popped open her eyes in surprise. She was still alive, there were no earthquakes, and those around her had yet to lose body parts because of the magic. No damage was done, so the only question was…

Did it work?

“I trust Megan did that to your hair?” Echo, the Medic in training, asked, walking towards them. She wiped her hands on a towel and smiled.

“Well, I’m glad to see you fixed it on your own,” she said cheerfully. The firstie looked quite relieved.

Echo turned to look at Avery. The towel and her jaw both dropped as she dashed over.

“Oh my goodness! Did Megan do that? Come sit down!”

She sat Avery down in a chair and ran a washcloth under cool water. She took the handkerchief from Avery and quickly put the washcloth under his nose. He gave a sharp, quick cry, and she jumped.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! Here, try and hold that under your nose. I’ll look up broken noses,” she said, grabbing the medical book from the counter and flipping to the B’s.

“Broken arms…legs…..aha! Noses, with bleeding!” she exclaimed. Echo quickly whipped her willow wand from her robes and aimed it at Avery’s nose.

“Move your hands now, or this could be messy,” he did, and she proceeded.

“Brotulacis carlise!” she cried, and Avery felt a slight tingle as his nose healed. Once it looked all right, Echo smiled, but it faded as she remembered the cause.

“Megan did all this, huh? At first it was horns, then hair. Not painful. But now she breaks someone’s nose? The Headmistress will hear about this sooner or later and then Megan’s dead meat!” This said, the smile returned to hr face, and she turned to Aiko.

“Aiko, is it? Oadekit ureshii desu!” she said brightly to the small firstie.

“Thanks!” Avery exclaimed when Echo finished. He moved his nose around a little, seeing for himself if it was okay.

“But Megan did the same to Dom, right?” he asked, in response to Echo’s comment

While he waited for Echo to reply, he silently thanked Kelly for telling Aiko that Megan had made up all that stalker junk.

Echo suddenly sucked in a breath, and then released it after a few seconds. “I don’t know what’s happened to Dom. All I know is when I saw her she was…well, she looked dead!” she finally blurted out. Echo had no idea whether Dom’s apparent death was real or not, but the incident was quite terrifying.

Avery stared at Echo, mouth wide open. “What? Dom’s dead!”

He never particularly liked Dom, but, just the same…

…wow.

Aiko felt her eyes widen as she heard the conversation. Her mother had told her Hogwarts was the safest place to be, in the case of emergencies.

“People can die at Hogwarts?” she asked quietly, amazed and a bit scared. “What happened? Was she sick?”

Sitting down on a nearby bed, Aiko tucked her knees into her chest and rested her head on top of them. She had never heard of the Dom girl, but perhaps Aiko, if given the chance, would have been friends with her.

Echo took a step back, suddenly overwhelmed with the outburst. “I..I..” she stammered, “I don’t know if she was truly dead! Apparently, the professors-” she said “professors” in a spiteful voice. “—think that Dom is having delusions. I really don’t understand.”

Medic Eugene Connor, who was taking a break from her 24/7 watch over Dom, couldn’t help but overhear part of the conversation. Normally she would not have butted in, but it seemed that the students had their facts, or at least their opinions, mixed up.

“A nice job on Avery’s nose.” Eugene said, looking at Echo. “I would hope that you plan to try the medical field, you do have a knack for it. But there is something you should know.” She took a seat on a stool, perching on the edge like a large, white plumed bird with penetrating eyes.

“It is never a good thing to tell of a patient’s condition to unauthorized people.” A quick glance at Avery confirmed that he qualified as “unauthorized people”, though the Medic could think of some students she would be much less likely to tell anything.

Continuing, she said “And certainly when you don’t know the facts. Seeing as you are not employed as the medic, I suppose that you are not held by this requirement.” Laugh lines in the corners of her eyes told that she wasn’t angry, but amused. This was obvious only to the intent observer.

“Dom is sick, sicker than you know. She is not dead, but recovering. We are doing all we can to help her. Also, more than you can know.”

Eugene’s eyes darkened at this; she wasn’t as well informed about what was going to be done, but she knew enough to be unsure of whether or not she approved of it. Thinking of the tone of Echo’s voice when she had said ‘Professors’ before, the Medic shrewdly added, “So please, do not judge before you know the facts.”

Another glance at Avery, Aiko, and Kelly caused her to add more, “And students, I hope that you can be trusted to keep your secrecy. Right now the school is all rumors, and more of them won’t help the matter, or Dom’s relative’s state of mind.”

Avery sighed when he heard that Dom was okay. Well, not okay, but still alive…

That’s gotta count for something, right?

“Sure thing,” he said after the Medic asked for his silence.

Who would I tell anyway?

After a short silence, he stood, thanked Echo for fixing his nose, and then walked out of the Wing, resolving to relax in the common room. Soon Aiko and Kelly filtered out as well.

The Opening Feast was set to begin shortly, but Headmistress Danuliete swept into the Hospital Wing with a purposeful and determined manner. She had no doubt that Prince would be behind her. He knew the nature of the protective spells surrounding Hogwarts as well as she did. Against all better judgement, she had asked him for this favor, and invited the most powerful dark wizard of the age into Hogwarts, a place that was closed to him otherwise.

She had known he would come. She had promised him payment, and he would never lose the opportunity to gloat over a victim. True, the memory spell was initially not meant to result in this; it had been the refraction of the light which had caused it. But nevertheless the results were alarming.

The poor girl would need even more monitoring if the curse was taken off. Dom would have lost everything around which her false life was based. Yet they had seemed real enough to her. It was going to be difficult.

Druscilla just hoped that it would work, that it had not gone too far into her mind, and that they could save her. If not Danuliete was afraid that the confines of Hogwarts could no longer shelter Dominique. She would have to be sent to a permanent home at a specialist medical institution in London.

“Prince, I presume. This way sir, and Headmistress.” Medic Connor, an older woman with blue eyes invited. She was wary of Prince, but hoped dearly that he would be able to help Dom.

The Medic lifted the enchanted key from around her neck, and went to open the door leading to Dominique Snelly. Once they were in, she locked it back firmly to prevent any student intrusion, knowing that Druscilla could easily get out.

Prince followed Professor Danuliete into the room where Dom was being kept. Druscilla Danuliete, in his opinion, was still an adversary whom he could not get around. It looked like he’d would have to perform the spell.

His dark eyes swept the room, lighting on the girl’s body. “A very clever use of the Near-Death curse, Dru,” he murmured appreciatively. Danuliete had paralyzed Dom, putting her into a deep sleep, so that she would remain cooperative until she could be cured.

“An interesting use of light refraction on a memory charm,” Professor Danuliete murmured, curtly nodding her acknowledgment of the previous praise.

The girl’s brown skin was still covered in the remnants of silvery scars which had not yet healed. No doubt the school’s medic was at work there. Dom’s features were vaguely recognizable as the young girl whom had walked in on a meeting between Prince and several of his associates.

“To what extent is the damage?” Prince inquired. The information could be useful for future reference.

“It has had a devastating effect in the form of increasingly delusional behavior I am afraid. The facts are there, to be sure, but they are hidden within a network, a web of delusions. There are files on this, carefully detailed by various Professors, if you would care for a more detailed perusal later, but to mention just a few: She has transformed her knowledge of your name into a fictional Prince who wishes to marry her, her home town of Atlanta to the ancient and long gone land of Atlantis; she appears to believe she has grown wings and is an angel, on the same topic she is under the impression that she has an angel guardian who is in love with her; she thinks she is a hunter who has been in battle, appears to think she is incredibly beautiful,” Druscilla snorted here, it was really preposterous, the girl was such a mess. But the list was not yet complete.

She continued, after pausing a moment to draw breath, “She believes that she has unicorn friends whom she talks to, thinks she can read thoughts, really it is an almost endless list of horrific delusions. The most serious one to date however has only come to light over the last few weeks. The delusions have grown so realistic that they have actually taken real life forms. She has put them from her mind into human forms that others can see and with whom they can interact. These beings must be regarded as highly unstable and potentially dangerous. The sooner they can be dispelled the better.”

Druscilla had never before stated so clearly to another the precise nature of the disease. It was truly the worst case of a wizarding disease that Hogwarts had ever dealt with in its entire history.

She looked at Prince.

Prince watched as Dominique Snelly’s chest rose and fell, her breathing shallow and irregular. The memory of the curse stirred in his brain. It had been so very long ago. The memory charm, the light, and bang! Dom’s grip on reality had disappeared. Funny how that could happen, one normally did not forget traumatic events like living on the streets and fighting in a gang. The charm had been powerful; everything he did was powerful. This charm, perhaps it could be used again. He could already think of several likely candidates to act as experiments for it.

His thick wand appeared in his hand, for it was time to get down to business. The curse must be reversed; it would not be an easy task. Many years had passed, causing the curse to become deeply rooted in her brain, in her very being. He could feel Professor Danuliete’s eyes boring holes into him as he began to work.

Sweeping the wand slowly over Dom, Prince felt for how far in the curse vibrations were. He jerked his hand back almost immediately, for the power of his curse and Dom’s own magic could be clearly felt. They were hooked to something else too, obviously the solid yet imaginary images that were merely an extension of Dom’s mind. He approached her again, and touched his wand to her forehead, allowing some of the power to flow from her to himself. Once the excess had been drained off, he said two words.

“Expell Deanmemori.” They were whispered, but loudly enough so that the air around still crackled with tension. It was not enough. Once again he repeated it, this time loudly.

“Expell Deanmemori.” His wand began to heat up, the wood tip smoking. Finally, he shouted, “Expell Deanmori!” He almost dropped his wand, before realizing that he could not. His fingers were latched around the fiery wood, unable to let go. Slowly it cooled, and he saw Dom shiver.

It was done. The girl would come back to herself now. Well, almost—the removal of the curse had not been easy. He had been forced to use more power than he had wanted to, and in the process erased all of her memory. Any wisps of memory she had left would only be faded, and mixed up. But they would be real. Images of Hogwarts and maybe even of Atlanta, Georgia. In time she might regain some of her memory. Until then the Professors would just have to nurse her along.

“Two hours, and she shall awake. Now for my payment, Dru. You remember what we discussed?” He almost whispered the name: Daiva. He wanted Daiva, Daiva Danuliete. Once, forever ago, he had loved her and lost her to another. It was time now to claim what was his.

Her face a mask, as was his, she answered blandly, “Payment of a favor to an old friend. I do thank you JP for this favor and am aware of the debt to be paid.”

Druscilla grimaced. This was the part of the exercise to which she had not been looking forward. She understood and would play by the rules of course. Debts must be paid. She did not relish the thought, however.

She glanced over at the Snelly girl, still lifeless. Soon she would wake with no memory and only a vague sense of self, and that self would not be the self she was used to. It would be a very difficult time for her. And that was if it worked. JP could not have done more, but sometimes spells were too deeply rooted. Druscilla hoped that would not be the case, but the rest had to wait until Dom awoke. She would need someone with her at all times.

“Medic!” Druscilla summoned, “This child must have someone at her bedside until she awakes and for as long as possible afterwards. No students are to be let in here under any circumstances. If you are needed elsewhere I would be grateful if you could call another Professor to stay with her.”

Druscilla nodded and strode out of the room. “Perhaps you would care to partake of a meal in the Great Hall?” she offered Prince, aware that he must be weak after such exertion.

“A meal,” he said slowly, careful not to show any sign of weakness, though the strength he was accustomed to had been sapped from him. “Yes, that would be pleasant.” He knew that Druscilla, bound by the same unwritten wizarding code as himself, would pay up. That much was obvious.

He flashed his twisted grin, which by now was becoming routine. He had not smiled so much is ages upon ages, but something about Druscilla was amusing. He had pondered what it was before and come to the conclusion that he liked the competition. Once he had mastered so much power everything came too easily. There was barely anyone to oppose him anymore. That was good, but also horrifically boring.

There came the pattering of small feet as the Professor and the Dark Wizard began to leave, and then a third year voice beginning to speak. “‘Scuse me, I’s just wondering if’n you’ve s…” The feet stopped, and Lys halted before the two adults and stared. She didn’t mean to of course, if she could she would have turned around and ran the other way, she wasn’t exactly a fan of the new Headmistress. But her companion…there was an aura of evil around him that made Lys reach automatically for her wand.

And at the touch of the wood, her fears subsided, replaced by calmness and a sort of joy. She saw Prince not as a potential enemy now, but as a kindred spirit. That feeling of evil which should have repulsed her now had quite the opposite effect. She seemed to hear a voice in the back of her mind, speaking not in words, but in feelings, telling her here is a man to be feared, but not by you.

But he is evil, she answered silently.

Not evil. Powerful. Ambitious. He can help you.

How?

This man can help you. He can guide you to the sort of power needed to fulfill your ambition.

The third year listened as this Voice continued to speak, whispering, promising. For the first time in her life she felt ashamed that she was muggleborn, and worse yet, raised by a Muggle.

Lys was good at displaying, or at least pretending, many emotions. Shyness had never been one of them. But now red tinged her cheeks at the sight of Prince. She seemed torn, not willing to look such a grand figure in the face, and yet unable to tear her eyes away.

Unable to think of anything else she gave a slight nod of the head and greeted him. “‘M sorry sir, I am interrupting?” her voice was quiet, unsure.

Calculating black eyes surveyed the girl standing before them. Seemingly, she passed the test, for Prince paused to answer Lys Scoresby. He seemed surprised; a strange emotion for him, and a softer expression flitted across his face: one that had not been there before.He made a decision suddenly, his face reflecting it. He dipped his head in a nod to acknowledge the girl.

“No, you are not interrupting. We were just heading to the Great Hall to dine.” Prince’s manner was civil, his voice showing traces of the old honey and sugar tone he had used as a young man. He could be quite convincing when he had the need for it, and this girl was someone of interest.

It wasn’t her appearance. Hogwarts housed many types, and a girl with tri-colored hair and different colored eyes certainly did not rank as strange. It was her aura. It spoke of depth. This girl here was not shallow like so many other students. Her concerns consisted of more than boys, Quidditch, classes, and friends. No, Prince could sense that she had faced trials. This one was different, and perhaps moldable because of it.

She would work, his intuition whispered quietly. Can’t you see it? She wants this; it lies in herself, and in her wand. That’s not a mere stick she’s holding, filled with unicorn hair or some other pitifully weak core. Oh no, certainly not.

Wands influenced their owners, and this girl’s wand could only be made of one thing. He had watched the tension ease from her when she touched the thing in her pocket, the thing that could only be her wand, with a core of Dementor fingernail. It was an evil wand; the evidence was before his eyes. He smiled.

“Pleased to meet you Miss…” he waited, his demeanor as disarming as he could make it, for her to tell her name.

Seemingly unbalanced by the fact that this powerful man was actually treating her civilly, Lys was barely aware that she had forgotten her name. “I… er… um… Lys, sir. Lys Scoresby, third year Gryffindor.” She had never been able to curtsy but found herself nearly bowing to Prince.

“Sir.”

He pondered the name for a second, making sure that it stuck in his brain. Scoresby.

“I am Prince John Paul, Lys.”

“Oh, then I guess Maj’sty’s th’ right title i’n’t it?” Lys managed to stutter out. The power radiating from this man was nearly overwhelming. She forced herself to look away from Prince.

“Then it’s… ummm, ‘s a pleasure ta meet you Majesty.” She wiped at the front of her school robes with a free hand, suddenly all too aware of her not quite poor status and Muggle upbringing. How to impress a man like this? She couldn’t think of anything. She could barely think.

“I’m sorry sir, I mean Majesty I… I should be going to the Hall, too. Sir,” she said again with another half bow. She quickly remembered Danuliete’s presence and, assuming she was friends with this man she gave the new Headmistress a similar bow, “Headmistress.”

Prince smiled again, and parted company with Lys, heading off to dinner with Danuliete. Scoresby. Gryffindor. He would not forget.

Arriving at Hogwarts was the easy part, Vivienne, a new first year, now realized. The actual challenge lay in finding your way throughout the maze of a castle. It was virtually impossible; there was just too much to it. Trick corridors, hidden doors, talking paintings. There was so much magic in the castle she felt as though her entire system was on a jittery overload.

Prancing into the common room (it had taken her an hour to find it for the second time), Vivi went promptly over to the bed she had claimed as hers. It was near a window and towards the back. Earlier she had collapsed into bed after the feast, but now it was time to get settled in. She needed to unpack.

She unzipped her faded blue back pack, and began to pull things out. A stationary picture of her family, complete with a white wooden frame, was the first thing unpacked. There were her cousins, mother, and father.

Next unpacked were her cloths, which were mostly black robes. These went into the wardrobe nearest her bed. She then unpacked her supplies, and placed it neatly under the bed. A blue china cat and its blue china basket she placed on the bedside table, as well as the softly ticking wood clock that had rested in her room at home.

Finally Vivi pulled out a package, wrapped in white silk, and held it to her chest. It would become, already was, her most prized possession; it was her wand. She unwrapped it and fingered the beech wood. The inside was unicorn hair and crystal splinters, a most unusual combination. The crystals had been collected on the night of the full moon in June, from the deep recesses of a cave. Though she had never seen them, Vivi knew instinctively that they had been gold colored before being pounded into powder for her wand core.

The dorm door slammed shut and Vivi looked up to see another first year girl coming in. She waved, and quietly slipped her wand into her robe pocket.

Aiko Watanabe jumped slightly at the sound of the door slamming, and spun around quickly. Realizing what it had been, she laughed softly at her own foolishness.

Still jumping at the sound of the hat, baka, she thought, as she swung her bag to the floor and looked around the common room.

Her parents had sent her to Hogwarts in hopes of ridding Aiko of her tendency towards fright. Originally from Japan, the new country, new language, and flagrant use of magic scared her, increasing the problem. The intimidating Headmistress and the man who had kept staring at the Feast last night did not help her nervousness. The only things she was comfortable with were her fellow students, and that was due to her naturally friendly nature.

“Hi’ya.” Vivi greeted, standing and nearly tripping over the hem of her robes. Wearing something so awkward would take some getting used to. The sound of her voice and the following, delighted introductions slide down the stairs, softly, to the Hufflepuff commonroom. It would be a place where the two girls would spend many hours together, a safe haven in the middle of Hogwarts…at least, for most of the time.

“Alohamora.”

Click

The greenhouse door swung open and she stepped in. She had needed to relieve her frustration before she gave herself and Him away. This was as good a place as any, so far from people. She paced restlessly, racking her brain. All those nights, all that searching on the common rooms. Nothing. She punched a fist into one of the greenhouse tables, ignoring the pain it caused in her hand. Where? Where could it be? Was she wrong? Was it hidden somewhere else besides the common room? He had called Ghast and Danuliete fools. That might be true, but even fools were clever, even fools were cunning. It could be anywhere. They may have hidden it where no one…

…where no one would…

..would…

…would think to look…

…like a greenhouse…

She stopped in her tracks and eyed the mass of plants that populated the greenhouse, accusing them of hiding His Item and her prize. Her eyes, almost normal looking in the dimness, rested on one of the cabinets. A wand, a word, and a straightened paper clip made short work of those locks. Bags met her, some opened. Magical growth formula, seeds, pots- All the essentials for magical gardening. One bag was tied up. She loosened the knot just enough to peer inside. Moonlight glinted off of gold.

Gold.

Greed got the better of her and she reached in and grabbed the item tightly and pulled it out.

“AH!”

It was not the Item. It was long and sharp, silver and drew blood when it pressed into her hand. She moved back, knocking over the bag and spilling most of its contents. Knives, daggers of silver and gold, joined the offending one she had dropped. She kicked herself mentally. Blood. Even muggles could find people by blood! She glared at the dagger while she nursed her wounded hand and then picked it up again. It was not the Item. It was not what she was searching for. She could have sworn she heard the plants. They were laughing. How dare they. They were insulting her, and by that, insulting the man who had hired her. She’d show them.

She picked up the offending dagger and moved around, slicing, cutting at stems, at leaves, at flowers. She’d show them. The silver metal ripped through the unopened bags in the cabinet, half searching for it, but mostly ruining its contents. Her wound continued to bleed freely and add more color to the bags and plants and tables. Within minutes the greenhouse was covered in the results of this one person riot, disturbing the ground and covering any footprints she may have left in there. Still no sign of the item! She must have been mistaken. Rage boiled up again. She forced it down. Now was not the time.

She began to leave, and then looked around. The knives still lay, shining. Gold and silver. Well, why not? Those may appease him for the time and if not…she could always find someone who would appreciate them. She already did. Quick feet moved back to the pile. The uninjured hand gathered up two of silver, two of gold, and slipped them away in a pocket. Again she began to leave and again she stopped. Something wasn’t finished about the place. Oh yes. She bared her teeth, and then drove her silver knife, hilt dotted in blood form the hand that held it, into one of the wooden tables and twisted it. Let them try and get that out.

She felt better now, lightheaded almost giddy. She didn’t have it yet, but at least she was having some fun looking.

Brian Limey cautiously opened the door to the greenhouse, intent upon finding out if Professor E was bewitching the plants, like it was rumored. Instead of Professor E, though, he saw a figure in the shadows.

“Hello?” Brian wasn’t taking any chances. “Petrificus Totalus!” He shot at the figure, watching as the body bind hit the figure and it fell to the floor.

The figure didn’t move. She couldn’t. Not yet. But she had been trained. She pictured the spell, what it would do, how it would sound, the movements she would make if she could only reach her wand.

Her wand. It took an incredible amount of concentration to do it right, but she managed to get one finger to move and touch the smooth wood. That would be enough for now.

The boy was waiting, convinced that the spell had worked. Did Limey really think He would have hired someone who could be stopped by some second year? Oh no. She laughed inwardly as her fingers curled around her wand. She felt the Strength needed, but remained still now. There was no need to let Brian know his trick hadn’t worked completely.

Footsteps. Others were coming. Brian’s back was towards her. She got him in her sights, raised her wand, and cast her spell. Expellriamus. The resulting blast knocked Brian end over end. She leapt to her feet, giggling manically and took off, vanishing within the walls of Hogwarts before he could recover. Oh that had been fun.

Avery followed Elionwy across the grounds to the first and second year greenhouses.

“Why exactly are we going here?” he asked her.

She didn’t answer. She simply opened the door, allowing the moonlight to shine in the greenhouse, revealing an unconscious Brian Limey, blood, and a knife stuck in the table. Blood. Blood everywhere. And the boy, Limey…why was he here? Elionwy was speechless. A knife, and the plants. Sakes no. No. She had been bringing Avery, to continue an earlier lesson on Moonbeam flowers, but now…

“What the heck?” Avery muttered, hurrying over to Brian’s side.

He sent a confused look up at the Professor. “What the heck happened?”

Professor Mayvero stood, still shocked. She took a deep rattling breath, hissed back out between clenched teeth, “Who could have done this?” On the last note her voice rose, cracking. As though swimming up through water, a thought crossed her mind. Brian. She breathed deeply. No time for panic. Can’t do that.

A moment later Elionwy knelt by him, her gentle, callused hands feeling for his pulse. She sighed in relief. He was only unconscious. That was it. His pulse was strong and steady, there were no visible wounds. Slight concussion maybe, but the Medic could fix that.

“Wingardium Leviosa!” she chanted. Brian rose, floating on the air as though it was a pillow. She turned, remembering Avery.

“Avery. We are going to the wing.” She drew up a trace of the old smile, which seemed misplaced in her white shocked face.

“Leadanogea!” She commanded as they exited the greenhouse, her vows whispered, consonants harsh. The lock smoked, its metal melting with the powerful word.

Elionwy lead the way towards the Hospital Wing, concentrating on one thing. The knife. The knife in the table. A threat? Yes. It was a threat. It was more. It was hateful, a hateful action. A threat, too, though. What of?

A threat of more to come.

Early on the first day of classes most students were sleeping as late as possible, savoring the last hours before another grueling year began. Yet Donal Talmorra, newly a second year, was walking to the Herbology II Greenhouse to see Professor Elionwy. After what the Headmistress had said, brief though it was, he thought he had better check in with his teachers after his absence, to sort out continuing his classes. He knocked on the Professor’s door and waited.

The door opened to reveal a younger, though not the youngest, Professor. She looked busy, obviously still treating the many plants who had been injured in the Greenhouse attacks.

“Yes?” She answered, looking at the unfamiliar boy standing before her. “What is it? Oh, wait, come in.” Holding the door wide she waited for him to enter the Greenhouse before closing it back firmly— very firmly, as a matter of fact. Certain automatic locking charms had been installed on the door to protect against intruders. They could be disabled during lessons, but otherwise, the Greenhouse stayed closed.

Brushing some curly hair out of her face in an effort to look more presentable, Elionwy waited for him to explain.

Donal stared around the greenhouse and his jaw dropped in shock. He knew that it had been attacked, but this was really serious. He realized he was staring, and turned towards the professor.

“Erm….I’m Donal Talmorra, Gryffindor second year. I’ve been absent for a while and just returned to school. The headmistress said that I should see my teachers to sort out my lessons. So I came to see you.” He shook his head, still astounded at the extent of the damage.

“Nice to meet you Donal,” Elionwy said softly. The name was familiar. “I am, of course, Professor Elionwy Mayvero. Lessons…” she noticed his distracted gaze, and changed what she was about to say.

“Terrible, isn’t it? Someone hates plants, to be sure— someone with a wand, a knife, and enough wits not to get caught.” She shook her head mournfully. The thought pained her still.

“From you I shall expect to see top work, to assure me that you are capable of keeping up with the class. No need to worry about making up past lessons however.” Green eyes studied him, and she smiled as genuinely as she could muster. “I’m sure you will be an asset to this class.”

Donal found himself wanting to please the professor, and work hard in herbology.

“I’ll do my very best professor,” he said. “Thank you.”

He blinked, He had said that? Well okay, he had said it, but he had meant it? What was going on? A confused look crossed his face, and he shook his head again as he turned to leave.

Suddenly, Donal didn’t see the greenhouse anymore. He stood on a mountain with the sun nearly setting. Shadows were long in the valley, and growing longer and darker as the sun continued to sink into the horizon. The blackness touched him and he shivered, not with cold but with fear. Panic started to rise in him, growing as the last of the sun disappeared. The darkness was utterly complete, totally black. It swept through him, consuming him with terror, numbing his senses, his mind, with the awful knowledge of it all.

Donal uttered a choked off scream and collapsed.

Professor Elionwy started to turn away when Donal finished speaking, back to the heart-breaking work with her plants. A particular tree once covered in mossy vines was at the critical stage, barely alive. Then a sudden tension in the air stopped her. She turned back to Donal.

He had visibly stiffened, and she hardly had time to ask what was wrong before he half-screamed and fainted clear away.

“Sakes!” Elionwy cried, hurrying toward him, almost tripping on her robes. “Bloody sakes.” This new turn of events baffled her. What could be wrong with him?

She flipped him over, looking at his face and asking with concern, “Donal? Donal Talmorra.” Laying a cool hand on his forehead, she leaned over, glad to see his chest rising and falling.

After a few moments of the professor lightly slapping his face, Donal began to stir. He opened his eyes a little, then squeezed them tightly shut, shaking and shivering, although his skin felt normal, if a little clammy. He half curled into a fetal position, shivering and rocking.

“Can’t hide, can’t hide,” he mumbled, “Nowhere to run, no roads to take. Can’t stop it. Don’t know what to do.” Tears started to trickle down his face.

“Poor Donal.” Elionwy said softly, recognizing this as a problem even the Medic couldn’t fix. So instead of rushing him up to the Hospital Wing, which was her first impulse, she just sat down next to him, legs crossed.

Donal continued to rock and mutter to himself for a while, gradually becoming more lucid and aware of his surroundings. Eventually he stopped, wiped his eyes on his sleeve, and looked up at the professor.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a quiet voice, “I’m really sorry.” He put his head in his hands and forced himself to breathe regular, deep breaths. Slowly he became calmer.

“For what?” Elionwy asked. A tissue appeared in the air beside her, and she handed it to him. This boy was different from the average second year. He had seen things, bad things. What she couldn’t guess.

“Donal,” she said quietly, “What is wrong?” Would he tell her? Probably not. Yet there was nothing else to say, nothing else to ask. Instead she waited for him to recover enough of his senses to answer.

Donal wiped his eyes and looked up at the professor. “Thanks,” he said, again in that quiet voice.

“Did you know that my family are Seers?” he continued. “Well, during my absence from school, I had my first Seeing.” He paused to take a breath, “Do you know what it is like to feel pure evil, to have it wash through you like you were a sponge?” There was a hard, insistent tone in his voice now.

“To see how everything becomes corrupt and that nothing can change it? To see how, in the end, creation dies?” He shuddered again at the memory of it, before carrying on in a firm, almost defiant, voice.

“To stand, in the middle of it all, as a witness to its totality,” his voice began to rise in volume and pitch, “To have it surround you, wash over you, pierce and penetrate your very being, so that at the end, you are the last thing left untouched before you are drowned within it, and in the process become it!” He was nearly shouting, as if the loudness of his voice could overcome the fear. His voice dropped to that of the quiet one before. “Do you have any idea of what that is like?”

He stopped for a while, just staring at the professor.

“Every day since that Seeing, I have found something around me that will fall because it will become corrupted in some way. Sometimes I remember the Seeing in my dreams, and I wake up sweating. This is the first time that it has reoccurred though. My Father did warn me that it probably would. Now I understand why there are not that many Seers. I think most of them go insane.”

Elionwy’s face registered surprise, a consequence of this desperate and uncontrolled outburst. It explained some of what she felt in the boy, felt around him. Staring back, she answered the question.

“No. Yet I know what it is like to feel pain, to see evil. To realize that what you thought was pure and perfect is not. Never was. Something you must remember Donal, there is good alive despite corruption. Though evil can take over a heart, good can take over evil. And it does daily. How else would life continue? How else would there by sunlight, flora and fauna? How else would you be you, but by the power of good?”

Her green eyes questioned, wanting him to understand what she had said, hoping to counteract some of his pain, knowing that much was beyond her grasp. The plants around them had fallen silent, listening. Now they picked up again, murmuring their support, their thoughts. When Donal spoke again however, they quieted once more.

Donal felt calmer now, but the Professor was not entirely right, he knew it. He tried to explain.

“If something is totally pure and good, say like pure water, then slowly it turns bad, the water becomes impure and undrinkable. Things may live in the water, algae or plants or whatever, and make the water drinkable again, but it is no longer pure. And over a longer time, even those things can no longer live in it. The water becomes stagnant, unfit for anything, totally corrupt. Living things die, to be replaced by more living things, but eventually, everything will die.” He paused, struggling for words.

Everything becomes corrupt, and will fall. Good can take over evil, but only for a while. Evil eventually wins. It does not spread quickly, for that brings it into the open. No, it is subtle, slowly changing things, gaining ground, like a creeping weed. And so, for the most part it is not seen, and passes unnoticed, until it has become the norm, and people accept it as always having been that way, and think it pointless to fight. It won’t happen in my lifetime, or even the next generation, or perhaps the next, but eventually it will. All the stars will go out, and everything ends.” He was calmer now, able to accept some of what he had seen.

Elionwy knew the truth of this. Being a helpless optimist, she normally ignored it- normally. Now she couldn’t. He had her caught like a fly in a spider’s web. Acknowledgement was due.

“Yes. There is truth in that.” She said slowly, trying to think of how to phrase her next comment.

“Yet there is danger in knowing it. For if one knows that inevidently evil will win, that no matter how hard they fight, they will lose, then what is the point of living? The point of course, lies in the living itself. It lies in the preciousness of pure water while it lasts. It lies in the promise from the world of upheaval. Of the changes in climate, in land. The ability of a lake of crystal clear water to turn into a toxic swamp, then by the power of time to dry up into a desert, and finally complete the cycle, millions and millions of years later, by filling with water to become a clear lake again.” She said, speaking almost as she if could see the process, from where she was, like she had been there. Life was a precious cycle for Elionwy. She knew it well, and cherished it.

“Evil and good pass in stages. Even when everything does end, when the stars do go black, evil will not have completely won. Nothing survives on its own. How does evil live without good to recognize it? It doesn’t, for when good dies, only nothingness will be left. The world exists in equilibrium. Outside that, it does not exist. So evil will win for a moment in the end, but good will win all along.”

She ended, considered, then added, “I don’t pretend to know what you have seen Donal. But I know a little of the world. I know what I have seen.”

Donal thought hard about what the professor had said: How does evil live without good to recognize it? It was a very valid point, and his vision had ended short, before he was engulfed, before he was totally gone. He swallowed hard to quell the rising panic. But he had not Seen the very, very, absolute end. Maybe he should try for that, but on the other hand, did he really want to know it? Was it something that drove you over the edge, insane…or worse? He knew that evil would win in the end. But what would happen after? Was this what his Father meant when he spoke about surviving within the shadows? Was it possible to become one with the darkness, but yet remain intact within it? He had so many questions and no answers.

Professor Elionwy Mayvero felt the end of the conversation. Nothing more on the matter could be said. Instead she stood, offering Donal a hand up. He looked all right, confused maybe, but no longer on the verge of collapsing again.

“You are going to have a hard time, Donal, knowing so much,” she said. “Remember to look for the good, not the bad. The bad will find you in its own time. There is no need to find it.”

Donal took the proffered hand and stood up. “Thanks professor,” he said in a subdued voice, “Thanks a lot. I’ll be okay now, I think.” With his head lost in thought, he made his way out of the greenhouse and back to the main school.

Elionwy watched Donal as he headed back to the school, her own thoughts varied. He seemed so different from any other second year, like he’d lived more of life. The seer part accounted for that some, but what had happened to him while he’d been away?

Of course, maybe he’d always been like this. She hadn’t known him before.

Turning back to her plants, she said aloud, “I wonder where his path will take him.” A plant rubbed its leafy head against her thigh in comfort and she smiled, reaching down to give its pink petals a pat. What she had said was right. Good really did prevail in the world.

In one of the forgotten classrooms of Hogwarts, sheltered by a network of his own charms, Prince John Paul gripped his wand. Before him stood the chosen of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. One servant-thief for each house.

“You have done well.” He hissed softly, words caressing the four. “Inspired fear, dread. But it is not enough.”

“Play no more games.” He commanded, “You have your orders.” In the shadows he was a voice and a wand, a terrifying specter that haunted the waking and sleeping hours of the four.

“Find them.” He ordered, tone harder now. “Or pay the price. Crucio!”

No one heard the screams.


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