On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
XX: Forgetting Your Magic Words
Professor Minerva McGonagall looked out over the Great Hall, waited for the last students to sit and the noise to die down, and cast a silent Sonorus spell.
"Students! My apologies for disturbing your evening, especially those of you who were studying the eclipse. Pay attention please. I have several very important announcements to make."
"First, I regret to inform you that our Headmaster, Professor Snape, died earlier this evening. This did not take place at the school, and the full circumstances of his death are currently unclear." She waited for the murmurs to die down, then continued. "In the light of his death I have taken his place as acting Headmistress, pending a meeting of the full board of governors and appointment of a new Head Teacher, and I will be activating the school's emergency plan for staff organization. Professor Sinistra will be acting Deputy Headmistress." She paused again. "Due to certain... irregularities, I have no alternative but to suspend both Professors Carrow from the school staff, and they will not be allowed onto the school grounds until there has been a full review of their actions since the beginning of term." Some of the students began to cheer; others, most notably the prefects, looked angry.
"Quiet, please, there are several more notices... thank you. Professor Slughorn will continue as Head of Slytherin, Professor Sprout as Head of Hufflepuff, and Professor Flitwick as Head of Ravenclaw. Professor Vector will be acting Head of Gryffindor, again pending a permanent appointment by the governors. Unfortunately Muggle Studies classes must be suspended pending the appointment of a full-time instructor, since none of the remaining faculty are qualified to teach it. Students timetabled for it will be given study time, I would strongly advise you to read ahead."
"Moving on to other matters, discipline will again be enforced by the loss of points, lines, and detentions only. Corporal punishment and the use of curses will not be tolerated. Bullying of any kind will not be tolerated. To avoid certain abuses of the past, I am imposing caps on the total number of house points teachers and prefects can deduct from individual students and houses as a whole, or award to them, in the course of a term." More cheers, especially from Gryffindor. "I am rescinding the recent rule that students must be regimented between lessons, and march from class to class as a group; there seems no good reason for this, and it has been used as an excuse for bullying. Having said that, lateness to lessons and absenteeism will be punished by loss of house points and in extreme cases detentions."
"As some of you will know, all prefects this year were appointed by the late headmaster, not by the Heads of House, on what I can only describe as political grounds. I have discussed this with the Heads, and we have decided to scrap all of the prefect appointments this year, and start again from scratch. Heads of House will meet with you in your common rooms tonight and appoint house prefects, a head boy and girl will be appointed once I have the all of the prefects' names. This does not necessarily mean that all current prefects are losing their position, it is entirely possible that some will be retained. And of course all of you who have been prefects will have it recorded on your records, which is always a useful item on your resume, even if you are not re-appointed." She waved her wand again, and the existing prefect's badges disappeared. There were more cheers, though most of the former prefects looked angry.
"Finally, as of tomorrow we shall resume the teaching of Defence Against the Dark Arts, and not the Dark Arts themselves, as is required by the Examination Board. To cause a minimum of disruption to the timetable Madame Hooch will cover years one to three, Professor Vector years four and five, and Professor Flitwick the upper classes, again pending the appointment of a full-time Defence Professor."
"When the Dark Lord hears about this," shouted Crabbe, "he'll..." A silent Silencing Spell from Professor Flitwick put an end to the interruption.
"As I was saying, we will revert to the Ministry's mandated curriculum. Should the relevant authorities decide otherwise things may change, of course, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Now, it's nearly nine, and pending the appointment of prefects I am declaring an early curfew. A reminder to all of you that there is a full moon tonight, and there have been reports of werewolves active in the area. Please stay in your houses, and under no circumstances attempt to leave the castle. You will trigger the alarm wards, and will not like the consequences."
Once the last students filed out Minerva turned to Professor Sinistra. "I think we can expect some trouble, especially from the more... ah... indoctrinated members of Slytherin in the next day or two. Any thoughts?"
"Ten sickles says Crabbe and Goyle start it. Malfoy was just as bad, but he had enough intelligence to bide his time. It's really a good thing this is happening so early in the academic year, a few months more and there would be a lot more trouble."
"Just as well Malfoy didn't come back this year. All right, ten sickles if it's them. I'll put ten on Parkinson, for much the same reason."
"Now then, we'd better get on. We need to round up any strays, then take care of the paperwork for your appointment."
"Well, Aurora, if you don't want the pay rise that goes with it..."
"Good point, though if the message Potter sent is wrong and our current... ruler... makes a comeback that's going to be hazard pay, I doubt that he'll be happy."
"Those scunners come back over my dead body, and if that happens you can blame me, say I forced you to sign."
"Don't be daft, we'd all be dead anyway, why would I bother lying about it? Fuck them all anyway, we've got a school to run. Right, broom cupboards first?"
"For the strays? Naturally."
"What are we going to do with them?" asked Griphook.
"The prisoners and the bodies?" asked Tonguetongs. "Well, that depends on the outcome of Mister Potter's adventure. The Princess seems to think that Potter and his friends have a good chance. She may be overlooking their frailty, of course, that must be an easy mistake in her position. If they succeed, we keep the prisoners stunned and the bodies in stasis until the Princess and Potter are ready for them, they can hand them over to the authorities and come up with their own explanations."
"And if they fail?"
"If they fail, we never heard of any prisoners or had anything to do with any bodies. We obliviate the survivors and dispose of the bodies, as discreetly as possible. A few fatal accidents, say, possibly an attack that went wrong, or an encounter with a rogue dementor or two. Nothing to do with Gringotts, of course."
"Potter or one of his friends might give it away."
"We have a binding magical contract with Potter, and that would be covered by the confidentiality clauses. I really doubt that even the Dark Lord can do much to hurt the Princess. As for the others... well, all of them have accounts, but there really isn't much in their vaults."
"How sad. Well, I suppose that they're expendable, if we can get to them before they crack."
"As a last resort. Purely as a last resort. After all, it wouldn't do to get a reputation for killing our clients. Obliviation might be an option, of course."
Griphook grinned, showing sharpened teeth, and poured two glasses of firewhisky. "We'll leave murder for the dwarves... and we can always hire a few if we need them. Out of interest, why did you decide to take Potter's side in this? There's a little money there, I suppose, but nothing compared to the Malfoy family."
"The princess, of course. Power and old money... and so much of it. Once it became clear whose side she was on the choice was obvious."
"And if she'd supported the other side?"
Tonguetongs shrugged. "Fortunately that wasn't an issue. If she had... well, governments and dark lords come and go, but everyone needs money. and we know better than to oppose a demigoddess. We could have weathered the storm, kept our heads down until someone toppled the bastard, or at worse evacuated. On the whole I'm happier with the way things are going, but we could have coped. Cheers!"
Voldemort looked around the hilltop, raised a small telescope, and glared across the forest toward Hogwarts. Even though the sun had set and the moon was still eclipsed, there was still enough light to make out the castle. There were lights in the Great Hall and a few other windows, otherwise it looked quiet. He snapped the telescope closed and turned to his followers. "Amycus, your arm."
Amycus bared his arm, revealing the Dark Mark. Voldemort stabbed his wand into it, hissing something none of them could understand, as Amycus grunted and stifled a scream.
"My Lord," said Bellatrix. "I think there may be a problem."
"Something's wrong. I could barely feel your summons."
Voldemort hissed again. "That meddling ape! He must have guessed the spells of the Mark are tied to my name!"
"I'm sorry, My Lord, I didn't understand that."
"Constantine's meddling has weakened the spell that links the Mark to my will. But it still works well enough for my purposes, if I change things a little. Bellatrix, your arm." He jabbed the point of his wand into her Dark Mark and said "Crucio!", holding her upright as she screamed and writhed in pain.
Both of the Carrows winced and put a hand to their own Mark, and Voldemort smiled.
Narcissa Malfoy groaned and opened her eyes. Wherever she was, this wasn't the manor. She knew that she'd been stupefied, beyond that... Why was the ceiling so low? Cautiously, she sat up and looked around, realising that she was lying in the upper bunk of a cell. Draco was on the floor, his arms and legs locked rigid. She climbed down, checked that he was breathing easily, and said "Stay calm, Draco, this should wear off soon, if not I'll call for help." She checked the room's sole cupboard, and found a chamber pot and sink. The china of both was marked with the same insignia - a skull, a mailed fist with a sword, and three black birds, with the motto 'Toujours Pur' underneath - the heraldry of the Black family. That meant that the cell probably had vicious wards to prevent escape.
She shouted "Kreacher!" but there was no reply.
Draco writhed on the floor, moaning and twitching in pain, his left hand twitching as he tried to touch the Dark Mark.
"Kreacher! Summon a healer!"
There was a soft pop. "Kreacher is busy," said Dobby. "Is mad master's son hurting?"
"You have to help him!"
"Have? Dobby is a free elf, there is no have! You is forgetting your magic words."
Narcissa tried to think of a useful wandless spell, but she had never been proficient in that side of magic. "What words? What am I forgetting?"
"Please and thank you."
"Please! Please, Dobby, help Draco."
"Nasty Dark Lord is summoning bad master's son, is he?" Dobby clicked two fingers, and Draco was stunned. "Wait here. When good master Harry has beaten Dark Lord, he will see to you. Much safer here than outside."
"Bad master is dead."
Narcissa collapsed to her knees and started to cry, and Dobby popped out, appearing in the kitchen where Kreacher was preparing a tray of food. "Bad master's son is stunned, bad master's wife is crying. Maybe Dobby shouldn't have told her bad master is dead. Maybe you puts some calming potion in the food?"
"Mistress Narcissa was a Black, no need for mollycoddling."
"Malfoys is dangerous," said Dobby. "They start to ask for things, you be careful. They twist thing until you be the one in the cell, they be taking the house over."
"Kreacher was not hatched yesterday. All Blacks are like that, Kreacher can handle it. They give me problems, Kreacher gets out the chains."
Dobby grinned. "Sometimes elves must be cruel to be kind. Dobby must go now, more errands to run." He disappeared with a soft pop.
Kreacher spat at the floor where Dobby had been standing. "Freak calls himself a free elf, is against nature. But Kreacher will show master Harry true elf service." He vanished the spit, and went back to preparing the tray.
"Confringo!" Hermione blasted two of the hell-hounds that were coming at them, as Harry cast "Sectumsempra!" at another and cut it in half. The front half dragged itself towards Harry by its front claws, snarling and dribbling fiery venom, and Harry cast the spell again to decapitate it. Diana dropped down from the sky, leaving the flying demons to flee, and chopped off another's head, while Constantine threw a strange pattern of glowing lines at another, wrapping it in a rapidly-shrinking ball of force. Behind them Ron and Luna were guarding their rear and taking out outliers from the pack, Ron with Confringo and Luna with Tarantallegra, forcing the confused beasts to dance away until the spell wore off.
Suddenly it went very quiet, and the hell-hounds fled in terror. "Don't like the look of this," said Constantine, lighting a cigarette, "if those bastards are running something really bad must be coming."
The clouds above them began to glow with white light, and parted as two glowing white-robed figures descended towards them, their wings beating slowly as they approached.
"Oh bugger," said Constantine. "Fucking angels!"
Many apologies to readers who saw this in the first day or so after it was posted - for some reason I got it into my head that the house system was suspended when Snape became headmaster, and part of Minerva's speech was a restoration of the system. I think this must have come from a story I read, I'm not sure which one. Apologies for letting this creep in, and many thanks to kaekae on Twisting the Hellmouth for pointing this out.
Some notes on staff appointments:
I gave Professor Sinistra the Deputy Head job because she mostly teaches at night, and presumably has more free time than other staff during the day, which tends to be when a Deputy Head is needed.
I've left the Muggle Studies post vacant since there appears to be nobody even marginally qualified to teach it.
The Harry Potter wiki lists Madame Hooch as support staff but states that she "was able to cast an exceptionally powerful Impediment Jinx and was also able to examine a broom for curses and other unfriendly spells." which implies at least an OWL, probably a NEWT, in Defence Against the Dark Arts, sufficient to teach the subject at a lower level. There is no canon reason why Professor Vector should or should not teach the subject. Professor Flitwick is a duelling champion and very experienced in this field.
Most of the Hogwarts staff, other than Heads of House, have no canon house affiliation. Professor Vector is often assumed to be Ravenclaw, and Sinistra Slytherin, but there is nothing in the books to support this.
Nearly everything that appears in fanfic about Harry Potter's wealth, noble status, vaults etc. is fanon, not canon. There is no good reason to think that the Potters were especially wealthy or had any form of noble status, or that Harry had any inheritance apart from the vault described in the first book. For the purposes of this story they were the equivalent of a well-to-do middle class couple.
Dobby and Kreacher fought violently when they met in canon, but it seems plausible that there would be a small amount of reconciliation with time.
And Sandman fans should have a pretty good idea who we'll be meeting in the next chapter...
All thoughts, corrections, etc. welcome, hopefully before I post to archives.
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