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The Final Treshold

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Sunday, October 13th, 1996, 20:00
Hogwarts Great Hall

It was the middle of October of Harry Potter's 6th year at Hogwarts and so far...Well, let us just say, he already had had more... excitement, let's call it that, then he had wanted to.

Since the first day of September he had almost puked his guts out when he had apparated with Dumbledore; had been informed that his mother had been extremely talented at potions; had to the surprise of no one more than himself become gifted at it himself. And to top it off, at the present time he has been tasked by the Headmaster to, much to his horror, woo the new potions professor, Horace Slughorn.

And of course, as if that had not been already enough, he had, of course, been left for dead on a train, courtesy of Draco Malfoy, new Death Eater extraordinaire. At least he was, according to Harry's suspicions. It didn't help that the blond-haired boy was the nephew of the woman who had killed, who Harry considered his last remaining family member.

Bellatrix Lestrange had been on his mind all summer, her crazed grey eyes and her wild black hair haunting his every nightmare. Just thinking about her made Harry's stomach want to jump out of his mouth. The dinner that had seemed so appetizing a few moments ago seemed disgusting now. Harry knew he couldn't eat anymore, no matter how hungry he was, he was already violently nauseous, he dreaded to think of what would happen if he ate another bite.

Harry, feeling stifled just at the thought of that woman, moved his dark-skinned hand to loosen the tie from his uniform, just as he was about to begin the process, he heard a distinctive laugh coming from the Slytherin table.

As Harry turned to the green-and-silver table, he noted that this year, instead of having the two rival tables sitting next to each other, they were separated by the vastness of the Great Hall. It seemed that Dumbledore had finally gotten a clue and kept the Gryffindor and Slytherin's tables as far apart as possible, with the Hufflepuff's and Ravenclaw's between them.

At the Slytherin table, Harry saw the source of the distinctive laugh, Draco Malfoy's platinum-blond-haired head was thrown back in laughter, his friends were in the same situation. Daphne Greengrass and her sister Astoria who seemed quite taken aback by whatever Draco had said, looked at each other and laughed delicately, their blond curls dancing with their movements; Blaise Zabini's head was laying on the table and he was shaking, clearly laughing at something Draco had said, not seeming to mind that his dark haired curls were getting very near his plate. Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle apparently choked on their food as they also laughed at whatever joke Draco had told.

Harry envied them… Laughing and telling jokes around as if they weren’t smack dab in the middle of a war. He was brought out of his musings when Hermione elbowed him the stomach, he cursed as he accidentally bit his tongue.

He inhaled sharply and looked at his right, at Hermione, his messy dark hair getting in his eyes.

Just as he was about to ask Hermione just what she wanted, she pointed to the table where the teachers sat.

His piercing green eyes were wide in surprise, as was the eyes of the rest of the students in the Great Hall, when he noticed the history professor Cuthbert Binns, - who rarely left his office, much less the history wing of the castle. The ghost was standing in front of the head table waiting for the students to calm down, so he could start talking. However, Dumbledore beat him to it, he spoke after shocked students had settled down,

“Cuthbert, what brings you to the Great Hall?” Dumbledore asked, with his twinkling blue eyes.

The monotone voice of the history professor filled the Great Hall, “Albus, I know what you were doing last night.”

No one, save the Headmaster dared to speak a word, “Now, now my friend, I don't think that's how you start a conversation.”

Most of the Gryffindor table laughed at the amused tone of Dumbledore's voice. The Ravenclaws and some students of the Hufflepuff and Slytherin tables seemed to understand something that was escaping the rest of the students and most of the professors. The eyes of the history professor rolled. Harry was impressed, he thought the old ghost didn't even blink much less roll with his eyes. His monotone voiced sounded around the Hall,

“Most of the students choose to ignore the History course of this school's curriculum, you included Headmaster…To the 7th Years that had my class last week,” Harry began to yawn, an automatic response to all the history professor’s lectures. He noticed that he was not the only one.

Nevertheless, the professor continued, “And those who paid attention to said lectures, and their housemates who no doubt were told of this fascinating part of the History of Hogwarts,” The Slytherin and the Hufflepuff 's tables, known for sharing all their lecture notes with their own housemates smirked and winked at each other, knowing the professor was speaking about them.

The professor paid them no mind and continued, “they know that today marks the day that the construction of Hogwarts began. It also marks the day that the previous owners of this land sold this piece of land to the Four Founders. You see, the Founders were looking everywhere for the perfect place to build their school, they found this place that seemed perfect to house a large building away from muggles and magical folk. Perfect for young children to learn how to control their magic, however these lands belonged to an affluent and important family.”

Harry looked around, he had never seen any student pay so much attention to what the history professor was droning on about.

“The Blaaaacks.” Someone from the Slytherin table sang-song a noble family's name.

Harry's back straightened, and his chest tightened, remembering his godfather.

Professor Binns seemed to appreciate the young Slytherin’s response as much as Harry had, “Mister Wells. A little less... flair would be appreciated although it is good to know that you are paying attention… After all, there is a first time for everything.”

The Slytherin table smirked and snickered, knowing all too well the dreadful grade that Eucliffe Wells had gotten on his History OWLs two years previously despite all the help he had had from his House to try and achieve a better grade than an 'Acceptable'. The following meltdown that the boy had had would rest in the Slytherin dorm room forever, since the scorch marks made from an ill-advised Incendio couldn't be erased due to the power behind the spell that was fuelled by his frustration.

The professor ignored the students once again and continued, "You are, however, correct. The Blacks did own this land and when Emmeline Black - the widow of Lord Black - sold it to the Founders, they decided to pay homage to the family by creating a somewhat artificial lake from an existing crater that would bear the name of the family, and thus we have the Black Lake.”

“Go, Blacks!” Someone from the Hufflepuff table, cheered.

Harry looked and saw the redhead troublemaker Hugo Rothfield, brother to Ian Rothfield - an alumnus of Hogwarts who was now working at the MLE under the tutelage of their father Jack Bones, who was one of the most awarded Aurors in the history of the MLE. Harry smirked, That whole family practically runs the Ministry of Law Enforcement; Amelia, Edgar and Jack Bones, the Light’s version of the Black Family. They were also sons of the one of the most successful lawyers of the Wizardry World, Amy Rothfield. They don't share their father's name because according to gossip the man did not want anything to do with Amy, so she raised them alone.

Hugo had helped Harry find many classrooms when Harry was still in his 1st year. The redhead was a now 7th Year, a Head-Boy and was dating resident bad-boy, Eucliffe Wells, the same boy who had responded to professor Binns just now - the Slytherin, who, unknown to Harry, was lovingly rolling his eyes at his supportive boyfriend. Any other year and their relationship would have been big news since their former rivalry was legendary, but since this year also marked the return of one of the darkest wizards the world had ever known, the Wells-Rothfield relationship was being somewhat overlooked.

The history professor was less than impressed by the sudden interruption, “Mister Rothfield, please do not follow Mister Wells example. Now, this part is important. Before the land belonged to the Blacks, legend says here roamed a dragon, a black dragon, the last of its kind in fact, and if the legend is to be believed, he lived in what is now called the Black Lake, it is said that the villagers of what is now Hogshead were tired of the constant abuse inflicted by the dragon and so hired the most famous Dragon Slayer in all of Britain, his name was Orion Black, the First." The professor stopped to make sure everyone was paying attention to what he was saying.

Once he noticed that for the first time in a long while he had the students’ complete attention, he continued, "Orion tried in vain to slay the dragon, but it was too powerful and far too much clever for a single wizard, even one of Lord Black’s considerable talents…” Professor Binns stopped, adding a dramatic flair to his otherwise boring and dull lecture.

The students held their breath, actually anxious to know what happened. Professor Binns suddenly and loudly returned to his speech, “He devised a stasis spell, said to have been adapted of one of Morgana Le Fey’s famous enchantments. However, due to the force of the spell Orion perished or vanished from the site, leaving behind the crater that would later bear the name of Orion Black's family. As the legend goes, it is said that the dragon's resting place is at the bottom of the Black Lake. This myth is said to be the source of how the Hogwarts motto came to be Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus, and it served as a warning to the students. Orion Black's spell was made to make the beast at least dormant for thousands of years, or so he thought.”

Ron, from his place next to Hermione, screamed, “Bloody Hell! Are you saying that there is a bloody dragon on the school grounds?” The ginger was looking on in disbelief at what was happening, his freckled face frowning and blue eyes narrowing in distaste and confusion.

“According to legend, yes Mister Weasley. But the lake has been completely searched and it was never found anything even resembling a dragon.”

Once again Ron was thrown into incredulity, “Yes, I've heard that one before. There's no such thing as the Chamber of Secrets…Yeah, right. We're doomed…Again.”

The ginger turned his head toward his bushy-haired best friend hoping to find some sympathy, but the girl was focused on the history professor. His sister, however, noticed her brother's need for comfort, and laid her hand on his arm, reassuring him. Ron remembering what his sister went through in her first year at Hogwarts pulled her towards him, hugging her close to him as though to protect her from her memories, her sweet-smelling hair invading his senses calming him further.

Meanwhile, Harry noticed that Hermione seemed to be frozen, likely also remembering her stint in the school's infirmary while she had been petrified, and so he took his best friend's shaking hand into his own, giving her all the support she needed. Hermione turned to him, smiled a sad smile, and gave his hand a gentle squeeze, acknowledging his support and giving some back to him.

Draco Malfoy however either didn't remember or, most likely, didn't care to remember what the Gryffindors had been through, “Weasel, if you would just shut up and listen, you'd learn that we are in fact not doomed since my family can-,”

And just as he was starting to, arrogantly and rudely, respond to the ginger, he was cut off by Professor Binns, “Yes, Mister Weasley. We are, as Mister Malfoy said, not doomed. While there was no trace of a dragon, there were, however, runes left behind by Orion Black's spell. The Founders elected to ignore them, and thought that drowning them would mitigate whatever side-effects they could have. Unfortunately, the runes started to cause problems three centuries after the spell was first enacted. During that first time, it was discovered that they can be made dormant again for another three hundred years.”

Professor Binns let that sink in. He noticed with some pride that some students seemed to be catching on what was going on. The history professor soon returned to his lecture, “At least that first time it was possible for the stabilizing magic performed to hold that long. However, adding muggles to the pure-blood lines, made the magic performed to cast the spell used to stabilize the runes wear out much quicker. In fact, the last time this happened was roughly one hundred years ago.”

Evelyn DeMarques, a Ravenclaw 3rd Year that from the rumours Harry heard was on the path to becoming one of Hogwarts top students, asked the ghost, “Was there or was there not a dragon? What happens if the runes are left to run its course? Are they dangerous, is that why the stabilizing spell needs to be performed? What does this have to do with what Headmaster Dumbledore was doing last night?”

“Miss DeMarques, there are carefully kept records of where the supposed dragon was located. There is no dragon there not even a skeleton, I can not tell you for certain that he existed, nor can I tell you that he did not. However, what does exist is some strange fluctuations of magic and, as I've mentioned before, strange runes that act-up rather spectacularly. These runes are dangerous, they usually end up causing all sorts of troubles, from petty pranks to torture and mass murder, and only after the stabilizing spell is completed do these incidents stop. The runes have begun to act up again, it is fairly obvious to those who have experienced it before, like myself and the Headmaster have."

The professor let that sink in, the fact that Dumbledore was old enough to remember it wasn't exactly a surprise, but the confirmation was just a bit dizzying,

"Nevertheless," the professor continued, "the side-effects of the runes haven't begun yet, though it's just a matter of time before they do. And by then, the Dark Lord Voldemort will be the least of your problems, Headmaster.”

A slight panic was starting to rise-up in the students at the thought of murder and torture, and what the hell did the professor mean when he said that Voldemort was the least of their problems. Harry was stunned, the professor didn’t know what he was talking about. Is he insane? Voldemort is the most important thing right now, he's trying to destroy the Wizardry World as we know it. That ghost has been dead for too long if he thinks that the loss that we would suffer if Voldemort wins is the least of our problems.

Ron interrupted, “Wait, wait... Wasn't it a thousand years? Now it's three hundred? Is it because of the weakening magic-thingy?” Hermione looked wide-eyed at Ron, as if unbelieving that he could have thought about that question, “What? I can pay attention…” Ron murmured to his bushy haired best friend, blushing slightly when she smiled shyly at him.

Harry noticed the admittedly adorable exchange between his two best friends and as discretely as he could, which since he was Harry Potter really wasn't that much, rolled his emerald eyes. Idiots the both of them. Just kiss already!  

Professor Binns nodded, “Excellent questions, Mister Weasley.” Ron, his blush mostly gone now, displayed a proud smile at the praise. “However, had your housemates listened at all to my lectures this week you might have already known the answers.” Ron's smile fell, as some snickers could be heard from the Slytherin table.

The professor once again ignored the students and continued to speak, “You see, as I said, Orion Black, adapted a stasis spell, originally concocted by Morgana Le Fey, that was thought to last a thousand years. And it should have. Orion Black was, by all accounts, an extraordinary wizard. Both the Black family's archives and public archives, tell the tale of an extremely powerful wizard and an accomplished politician. Some say that given some time he might have become the Head of King’s Magical Council. Instead Salamander Bulstrode took on the title. We can only imagine what might-have-been."

The professor seemed to lose himself a bit, likely imagining the said possibilities. Professor Dumbledore coughed bring professor Binns out of his musings.

Harry thought that if the professor had still been flesh and blood, he might have blushed. The professor shook off the awkwardness and continued with his History lesson, "Oh, right! Anyways, this single act of defeating the dragon, and later the fact that his wife sold the land to the Founders and that later still the Black family became patrons of the school, made the already famous and popular noble family even more so. As it was, another branch of the family, tired of living in the shadow of the so-called main branch of the Black family, tried to diminish the mysticism that surrounded Orion Black and his descendants and the hold they had on the public."

Harry wasn't the least bit surprised that the Black Family had caused all this trouble. Honestly if they're anything like...like...like, Sirius... Harry swallowed his grief. Then it is no wonder we are in this mess. Harry turned his attention to the professor as he continued, "As it was, it took about three centuries after the enactment of the spell for their attempts to even take form. As we know Hogwarts has had two Headmasters hailing from the Black Family: the most recent was Phineas Black."

Most students, especially the girls, groaned knowing that that particular Black Headmaster was the one who implemented the current uniform.

The professor understood the students’ reaction to the former Headmaster and chuckled a bit, before adding, "Yes, yes... I know. And yet, he was the better one of the two. The other was Vega Black who around the 14th century somehow advanced the timing of the runes while trying to undo Orion Black's stasis spell, but ended up causing the first accident involving these runes. "

The professor seemed to be reaching the end of his lecture, “It is unknown if the dragon will actually reawakened if the ritual is not performed as legend say it might, however, either the dragon is reawakened or not, Mister Weasley, since Vega's tenure for every roughly three hundredth anniversary, and each time getting progressively earlier… The Black Family's Magical Heir or, if the magic power of the Heir was weak, a couple of Blacks combined their powers and redid the spell ending the shenanigans provided by the runes and providing the school a respite.”

As the professor ended his history lecture, Harry sighed Did the man...Ghost?... Just called the possibility of torture and mass murder, shenanigans? Oh, Merlin, I think I preferred him when he was just a boring history professor. Harry turned to his side and noticed that Hermione was also confused about the professor's wording.

Ron sighed in relief, “Oh, Great!” apparently, he had missed what the professor had called the consequences of the runes, and possibly the consequences altogether.

Unknowingly to each other the Boy-Who-Lived and The-Brightest-Witch-Of-Her-Age thought the same thing with a fond smile. Some things never change.

“However, the reason that I am here, Headmaster is because you were trying to perform the spell last night with the help of other professors, which of course, did not work, and you're attempting it again tonight. The spell requires the magic of the descents of the original caster. As such only the Magical Heir of the Black family can perform such a spell.”

Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes turned to the ghost, “Professor Binns, may I remind you that for that to happen we would need the help of one of the darkest witch of our age.”

The Great Hall gasped and started whispering around. While most everyone referred to Bellatrix Lestrange as such, no one had forgotten her maiden name. Some of the assets of the family might now belong to Harry since Sirius’ death, but he knew he couldn't be the family’s Magical Heir. If only Sirius was still alive...

Harry midst his shock, anger and grief seemed to realize that the Slytherin table seemed to be almost collectively laughing quietly and whispering excitedly, especially the first years…It seemed that Bellatrix Lestrange was admired – which was expected, no matter which side of the war she was on, Lestrange was a gifted witch – but not only that, the Slytherins seemed to be fond of the crazy woman.

Harry swallowed his anger as best he could and turned his attention to Professor Binns as he resumed talking, “No, Headmaster, I do not need to be reminded, Madame Lestrange was a student of mine and also one of yours for a brief time if memory doesn't fail me. And surely you remember that she can be quite reasonable when needed to.”

Harry could see that Dumbledore was trying his hardest to derail the history professor as best he could, “That was before Azkaban, Cuthbert…”

But professor Binns was relentless, “No matter. I'm sure Madame Lestrange will be delighted to help her nephew and furthermore, aren't they trying to conquer the wizardry world? I'm sure Tom will want to have Hogwarts if he wins the war.”

The Great Hall gasped again. Harry and pretty much everyone's eyes doubled in size, to hear a subject that was almost taboo in Hogwarts…Maybe not taboo, but certainly mellowed down. The war was never talked about as bluntly, or as casually, as Professor Binns had spoken of it. Dumbledore made sure to use terms that wouldn't frighten the students such as ‘dark times’, ‘the world outside’, ‘the future’.

Minerva McGonagall was, as usual, thinking of the students, “Professor, I urge you not to use that kind of terminology… I'm not even sure this is an appropriate conversation to have near the students, perhaps we should move this to a quieter place."

Dumbledore was trying to stir the conversation, "Minerva is right, it was rather impolite of you to bring this up at dinner, old friend."

The ghost was having none of it, “Albus, with all due respect this is not the time to be polite, it's the time to act! And you know better than almost everyone what happens each time those runes act-up… You don't want a repeat of last time. The fluctuations of magic have already begun, you feel this, otherwise, you wouldn't have attempted to perform the spell on your own. “

Dumbledore was relentless too, “I know, but what we do not know if the spell won't work if we use other methods. I will not risk the lives of students by bringing Bellatrix here.”

Harry noticed that the Slytherins were tense and realized that they didn't want Dumbledore to refer to Bellatrix as such. If they think that Albus Dumbledore is going to use an honorific to address that insane woman they have another think coming, she's no Lady and doesn't deserve an ounce of respect.

“Albus, the spell will not work if it isn't done by Madame Lestrange, you know this, you tried yourself last night and it was for nothing. And agreed, she might be a little…unbalanced.”

Harry couldn’t hold back a bitter laugh here. ‘Unbalanced’ was what you called Alaster Moody, Bellatrix Lestrange skipped ‘unbalanced’ and went right into ‘bat-shit crazy’.

The ghost however, didn’t hear him and continued, “But as I said I believe she will help, for no other fact than to have a castle to try and take over.”

Dumbledore seemed to be having none of it and rebuked, “Professor, I know she was a favourite of yours but, Andromeda Black and Narcissa Black can also perform the...”

The professor yelled at the Headmaster, frustrated at his lack of urgency on the matter, “It is not about favourites Albus!"

Most of the students’ eyes widen, they had never seen anyone talking to Dumbledore that way before.

Again, and as usual, the ghost ignored his students, “It's the only way that the spell will work. Madame Lestrange is the Magical Heir to the family. Sirius Black wouldn't have been able to cast the spell. The eldest born, the one trained from birth to lead the family, to make the family decisions. We both know this is Bellatrix' fate since birth and the only way one of those two can do what is required is if you manage to kill Bellatrix."

Harry saw some people in the Slytherin table flinch and some of the silver and green 1st Years shocked and upset expressions.

But once more, the history professor payed them no mind and ruthlessly continued, "Unless you have a plan to kill one of the most powerful dark witches of the last five centuries, the right-hand of the Dark Lord Voldemort, one the best protected and admired of Death Eaters, then, "the ghost chuckled, actually chuckled as if it was the most hilarious thing in the universe, "if you do have a plan for that, well, then Albus, I will rest my case. And congratulate you, it would be quite the victory.”

The ghost was insistent and, to Harry's growing disbelieve at the level of emotion on a usually so dull a man, close to losing his temper.

The Headmaster sighs, he knows he has no choice, “Very well…”

Neville, uncharacteristically, lost control, “WHAT! YOU ARE GOING TO LET THAT MURDER IN HERE?! ARE YOU INSANE?!”

Harry wanted to stand up and support Neville, Dumbledore couldn't do this.

Dumbledore, with apparent calmness responds, “Mister Longbottom, sit down. As you have heard we don't have a choice…” Dumbledore gets up, preparing to do a speech.

Next to Hermione, Harry ears Ron mutter, “Honestly between a supposedly angry, practically invincible dragon or crazy-ass runes that torture people and Bellatrix Lestrange, I think we should take our chances with the dragon…”

Hermione nodded but her eyes showed a hint of determination. She's up to something. Well, if anyone can solve this thing its Hermione.

The Headmaster started to address the students, “Students, Professor Binns is right, we have been attempting to control the fluctuations of magic coming from the Black Lake, we have been unsuccessful at this point. Besides the death and torture that we would endure, the fact is that if the seal or runes were to be broken Hogwarts and Hogshead would be exposed to the Muggle world. The wards placed around the school to protect it were done with Orion Black's spell in mind. And so, it also affects the magic and wards of the castle and the surrounding area. If the seal becomes unstable and we perform the new wards without taking it into account then Hogwarts is revealed to the muggle world we will be in violation of the most ancient rule of the wizardry world… No Muggle must know about magic. And so, as we'd break that most ancient rule, Hogwarts would have to be closed until the wards could, again, protect the school.”

Murmurs ran through the Great Hall, ‘Hogwarts closing, this can't be happening’, ‘This really is a re-run from the Chamber of Secrets incident’, Harry heard all around his table. And he had no doubt that the same thing was happening in the other tables. The murmurs grew into almost unbearable combination of voices, words and panic.

Dumbledore let it pass for a moment and then interrupted, “Silence! We will talk to the ministry, asking for more Aurors to be here…”

A fourth year Gryffindor, with a pink mohawk and usually a mischievous grin, whose name Harry thought was Malcolm Gonzales laid a trap for Lestrange, “Can't you, like, force her to do this and then capture her?”

Draco, clearly amused by the ‘trap’ that Gonzales had set up, responded to the young Gryffindor, “Do you think my aunt is stupid, hothead? You think she'd ever set a foot in this school if she thought she had the slightest chance of being captured? She's a Slytherin for Merlin's sake.”

Dumbledore turned his gaze to the Malfoy Heir, “Mister Malfoy has your aunt been talking to you about this?”

Despite being fugitives, everyone knew the Slytherins had been in contact with the escapees from Azkaban.

Draco nodded, “Yes, of course. It's part of pureblood education Headmaster. Learning the family history of the most important noble families. Aunt Bella has practically taken over that part of our education from every noble family not only the Blacks, since well, I'm sure you know her history with history.”

Draco smirks at his little joke, next to him Blaise Zabini practically dies of embarrassment at the bad joke, the rest of the Slytherin table just groans either remembering Bellatrix' lectures or at Draco's joke, Harry can't tell.

Professor McGonagall snorts as the history and potions professors chuckle, "Yes, that does seem like her." The Transfiguration professor’s quiet voice reached Harry and had he not been near the professors' table he would have never heard it. Harry noted the rather informal way the professor addressed the Lestrange woman. What the hell? And what is with that ghost and chuckling? The man barely blinks during his classes. And Slughorn, one month of trying and the man never even smiled at me and now he's chuckling about Bellatrix Lestrange? Insanity.

Harry could see that all of this was troubling Dumbledore, whose attention still resided with Malfoy, “Very well, I assume she has demands.”

Harry also took the opportunity to look at the reactions of the other professors. McGonagall’s lips were pressed so tightly they seemed to have vanished from her face, her levity of a moment ago gone at the very real possibility of having Lestrange at Hogwarts.

Snape was his usual calm self as if this was completely expected…Harry considered that he was a Death Eater and therefore knew her and so he probably had already known about this. Flitwick seemed surprised, a little afraid, but Harry could detect a certain admiration. Professor Binns was of course in favour of this and it seemed like she had been one of his favourites…Harry didn't think the ghost had a favourite anything, much less a favourite student, and even if he had had one Harry couldn't fathom why it would be Bellatrix Lestrange, although she seemed to have a history with history. Oh, great now I'm quoting that blond-haired asshole. Fuck me. Slughorn seemed a little happy, Harry didn't doubt it since she was certainly Slughorn Club material and a Slytherin at that. Poppy, Harry could tell was a little too pale, but surprisingly she didn't seem too afraid…

Overall, not at all the reactions he was expecting, he had expected fear, shock, disgust, and anger. So far, the only one showing those emotions were Hagrid, the Muggle studies and the Arithmancy teachers.

Draco, looked at Dumbledore, perplexed that he had asked such a question, “Of course she has! Nothing too big considering what she could ask for,” Draco trailed off, and seemed to think of something, “you want to talk about this here? In public? A second ago you wanted to take this somewhere quieter."

“Of course, Mister Malfoy. After all, I've got nothing to hide…”

Harry noticed the Slytherin table tensing at those words, Harry wanted to jump in Dumbledore's defence but knew the man had secrets and had done terrible things for the greater good.

Draco shrugged, if Dumbledore wanted it that way so be it, “Very well. My aunt demands that she'll not be incarcerated during the preparations, practice and conclusion of the spell. She also says that you’ll have to let her walk out of here without arresting her, using the Floo network to travel from and back to a location of her choice. After that all capture attempts can be…resumed. She also doesn't care if you bring more security during her stay here. Very generous, my aunt, isn't she?”

Dumbledore sighed, he knew that for what she had to do, basically protect Hogwarts and re-enforce wards that she'd have to break later while working for Tom, yes she was being very generous. Dumbledore also knew that Voldemort had authorized these demands which meant that he wasn't after Hogwarts for the moment. Tom is up to something…

Despite his musings, the Headmaster consented to the conditions, “Yes, indeed. We have demands of our own, no attacking any member of the staff or student body is allowed. She must be under constant supervision during her stay.”

Draco smirked and Harry noticed how much he looked like Bellatrix, that smirk was definitely from the Black side of his family, “Naturally. She was already expecting those demands. That's why she doesn't mind the extra security. She also says you have nothing to fear, she has no intention of attacking anyone, not that you'd believe her, Headmaster…” Draco said in a condescending tone, that almost borders on being disrespectful.

Dumbledore ignored it, he probably just wanted to get this over with, “Very well, Mister Malfoy, if you'd please call her here, I'd…”

Dumbledore was interrupted by Draco, “Headmaster, do you believe her to be that reckless? She'll only come here after a signed contract from the Ministry of Magic himself.”

“Mister Malfoy, there might not be enough time for that.”

Draco spoke confidently, his tone was arrogance personified, “Then you better start writing some letters, Headmaster, because that is the only way she'll come,”

Harry gritted his teeth, the blond was so annoying sometimes.

“Mister Malfoy…I'll see what I can do,” Dumbledore sat down, “resume your meals.”

He started talking to McGonagall, it seemed that she was trying to talk him out of it. The conversations started flowing again, although more subdued than before.

Harry noticed that Neville was shaking in rage in front of him, noticed that most of the first years of his house were also shaking in fear. The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws seemed to be mostly calm, although he could tell some were also shaking in fear, and the Slytherin table seemed to be almost celebrating the fact that that crazy witch was coming to Hogwarts.

Harry signed, this would be another difficult year. Oh, I can’t wait…