The Sugar Quill
Author: Sweeney Agonistes (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Headmaster Expelled  Chapter: Tribunal
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6 April

A/N: Humongous thanks to Zsenya, who didn’t have to wrangle any adverbs this time. (She wrangled commas instead.) Everyone should give her cookies because she’s so spiffy.

 

Also, my deepest thanks (and felicitations on the appearance of her newest kidlet!) are due to Katinka for letting me borrow Abby Loomis, who is of course entirely Katinka’s own creation.

 

 

 

With Dumbledore gone, fear had spread as never before, so that the sun warming the castle walls outside seemed to stop at the mullioned windows. There was barely a face to be seen in the school that didn’t look worried and tense, and any laughter that rang through the corridors sounded shrill and unnatural and was quickly stifled.

 

- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 

 

 

 

 

16 April

 

Albus,

 

It’s quiet as the tomb here – how morbid. No – I won’t talk about that. Rather, I shall give you a general idea of the state of the school.

 

It is quiet. The faculty is still patrolling the halls at all hours, although Gilderoy has managed to skive off his duty by foisting his hours off on the prefects. I can’t say that I’m surprised, however – although I do rather feel sorry for Percy Weasley. He’s been the one assigned to patrol with Gilderoy, and it does make me uncomfortable to have Weasley out by himself, even though he’s probably the most prepared, well-rounded student out of all the prefects.

 

I’ve asked Poppy to bar all visitors from the hospital wing in case the attacker decides to try and inflict more damage. Other than that, I can’t think of any more precautions we can possibly take to safeguard the school. Lucius Malfoy will come knocking and sneering eventually, and I don’t know what I can tell him. I know I shouldn’t be worried about it, but I can’t really help it.

 

Fawkes misses you – he’s been singing rather sadly all day.

 

-Minerva

 

P.S. Have you found everything you need in the flat?

 

 

 

16 April

 

Minerva,

 

Regarding Gilderoy, simply leave him alone. Even should he want to take over patrolling, he would likely do more harm than good. Percy is fine on his own, but you may want to keep an eye on him. I understand that he and Miss Clearwater were quite close, and he is understandably distraught at her misfortune.

 

I had a run-in with Argus Filch as I was leaving. I was actually about to exit the school when he stopped me and asked where I was going, and I told him. It hurt, Minerva – I never thought it would. It wasn’t so much that I’ve been suspended as the look in his eyes. Look in on him when you get the chance – more for my sake than for his.

 

The flat is very, very quiet. It is indeed comfortable, and I’ve settled in quite nicely. I am trying to think of this as a forced holiday, but there’s never been a time when I’ve wanted to take a holiday less. I’ll be able to catch up on my reading, yes, but it’s difficult to enjoy it.

 

In regards to Lucius Malfoy, don’t think about him. Should he show up and try to interfere, quietly and politely suggest that you can’t work on stopping the attacks while you’re standing there talking to him.

 

Above all, don’t worry. Turn your attentions to the school and keep them firmly fixed there. About Fawkes – he and I have had a little discussion, and now that he knows that he’ll still be seeing me, he is quite fine.

 

Take care, Minerva.

 

-Albus

 

P.S. Actually, there is something I can’t find – where are the potholders?

 

 

 

 

21 April

 

Albus,

 

I honestly don’t know where any potholders are – I apologize. Theron did most of the cooking, and he never told me where they were. Perhaps a Summoning Spell might turn a few up.

 

Severus has come to me and lodged a complaint about moving the students to and from each class. He says that he shouldn’t have to escort them because it requires him to leave his classroom, and since there are various ingredients that are necessary for the Mandrake Restorative Potion, to say nothing of the ‘rare and lethal ingredients he keeps for research,’ he ‘doesn’t think it’s quite prudent to leave his area’.

 

I’ve got a school to run, a vicious attacker to catch, and a board of governors to satisfy, and he comes and complains because he doesn’t feel like taking a walk out of the dungeons a few times a day? He and Gilderoy should start a ‘Let’s Make Minerva’s Job As Difficult As Possible’ Society. Honestly.

 

I’ve asked Severus to keep me abreast of any rumors about the Slytherin common room, but as he ‘never goes in there,’ as he put it to me with disdain, it will be ‘difficult to get information’. I imagine that young Malfoy is giving him problems, but really, Albus – is it so necessary to be so irritable and singularly unhelpful?

 

Percy Weasley has been adhering to his duty, but isn’t saying very much about anything. I’ll keep an eye on him. I haven’t had a chance to speak with Argus yet, but I think I’ll be able to find time to drop in his office tomorrow. That is, if there’s not some new problem to deal with.

 

-Minerva

 

 

 

 

22 April

 

Minerva,

 

I have instructions for you. First: go to your rooms. Second: pick up your pillow. Third: beat the stuffing out of it. Fourth: leave it for the house-elves to clean up. It will prevent you from killing Severus, and repairing the pillow will undo the effectiveness of the exercise.

 

Understand that Severus is under a great deal of stress – more than any of the rest of the faculty, except for you. He is the head of the House under the most suspicion, and he must balance the normal nastiness he gives and receives with working with some very troubled students who are more agitated with usual. Be patient with him. I have enclosed a note for him. I would appreciate it if you would deliver it personally.

 

I did try the Summoning Spell, but I couldn’t turn up any potholders. I suppose I’ll have to venture into the main part of Hogsmeade. It will do me good to get out, I think. An old man molders when he’s not aired out regularly. Remember that for the future.

 

-Albus

 

 

 

 

 

30 April

 

Albus –

 

I followed your instructions and I feel much better now.

 

I know this is going to sound rather odd, but I feel like I need to know. If I’m pressing too much, tell me, and I won’t mention it again.

 

The first time the Chamber was opened, I’d been out of school for two years, and the only bits and pieces I heard about any of it were the few things that Theron told me. I know that Hagrid was expelled over it, and I also know that you didn’t think he did it. I know that it was what caused Dippet to retire earlier than usual. I know that someone was killed. And of course, I know the original legend.

 

I suppose the question I’m trying to ask is this: what do you know that I don’t? I ask because I feel like it may have some bearing on potentially stopping future attacks, and also because I’m curious. I’ve never asked before because I never thought it would be an issue. It apparently is now, and it worries me.

 

Again, if I’m nudging into things that are none of my business, tell me so.

 

-Minerva

 

 

 

 

30 April

 

Send Fawkes back tomorrow and I’ll tell you what I can. I need tonight to prepare my answer.

 

 

 

1 May

 

Albus,

 

As you asked.

 

-M

 

 

 

 

2 May

 

Minerva,

 

No, I don’t think Hagrid is the one who opened the Chamber this time, nor do I think he was the one to do it fifty years ago. It was all too convenient. The rest of the faculty were all too willing to believe that it was a half-giant who constantly broke rules. Nobody bothered looking deeper.

 

The various attacks – it seemed that Hagrid was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know Hagrid as well as I, and you know that he would be incapable of such a thing. I also know something that most people do not, and that I would prefer you not to spread around: the creature that everyone thought was the one in the Chamber, that was supposed to be the one Hagrid had raised, was not the creature that is causing these attacks, or caused the ones fifty years ago. The creature is still residing in the Forbidden Forest today, and is not in any Chamber.

 

I have my suspicions about fifty years ago, and I have my suspicions now – but I cannot say anything without more proof. Leading you in the wrong direction would ultimately be more dangerous than leaving you without information. I will only tell you that it is not Hagrid.

 

I never told Theron with any certainty who caused the attacks the first time, but I do remember telling him one of my main suspects. Do you remember a boy named Tom Riddle? He was four years under you – a Slytherin.

 

This is not all that I know, but it is all I feel that I can tell at this point. I am sorry.

 

-Albus

 

P.S. I have not made my potholder venture yet.

 

 

 

 

12 May

 

Albus,

 

I’ve waited and watched, and there seems to be nothing going on whatsoever. Everything is dormant. We prowl; we patrol; nothing. Severus is better; Gilderoy is the same. I am grateful that there have been no new attacks, but all the same, the quiet is eerie. I just want to catch the attacker and get you back in your office where you belong.

 

I will not question what you have told me, and I thank you for telling me.

 

-Minerva

 

P.S. How are things in Hogsmeade? Did you find potholders?

 

 

 

 

14 May

 

Minerva,

 

I apologize for waiting so long to answer. Fawkes seemed to want to stay a while, so I allowed him to do so.

 

I have tried my best not to venture into town. It’s difficult to move around – I get stared at more than usual. I inspire gossip, and for once, it’s not about my eccentricities. Call it the vanities of an old man, but I would prefer not to have rumors about my apparent senility bandied about behind my back while I am still well in earshot.

 

I have managed to stop in and see Miss Abby Loomis in Gladrags. You remember her – she was a few years behind James Potter and Remus Lupin. A Hufflepuff. She offered to sew me a few potholders, and I took her up on it, with the promise that she will allow me to take her out to lunch at the Three Broomsticks this Sunday.

 

My reading is progressing well. I am currently involved in the novels of a rather famous Muggle writer by the name of Stephen King. I don’t think you would like him, though – rather a lot of blood and gore, especially in his early novels. It’s an interesting look at American Muggle society. His novels are also very easy to fall into, which is a very good thing at this point in time.

 

And that, Minerva, is how life goes in Hogsmeade.

 

-Albus

 

 

 

 

16 May

 

Albus,

 

Have a lovely time with Miss Loomis, and be sure to give her my best.

 

Nothing is happening at the school. Frankly, I am rather exhausted. Evening patrols are harrowing, and I can understand why Gilderoy wanted to skive off. However, the fact remains that if he had not managed to skive off every single patrol he’s been assigned to, I would not be awake with Percy Weasley night after night. This grows intolerable.

 

-Minerva

 

 

 

 

20 May

 

Minerva –

 

Again, forgive me for taking so long to answer. I felt like I needed Fawkes for a few days. Not because of anything Miss Loomis did – I knew it wasn’t a good idea to venture into Hogsmeade, and yet I did.

 

We were walking to the Three Broomsticks as planned, and you know what a glorious afternoon Sunday was. For a while, I could and did forget the attacks. I ignored the stares, the whispers, the pointing fingers. I was out with an old friend, and it was a fine day – what was there to worry about? I should have noticed that we were being followed.

 

Rosmerta seated us in the corner, and we sat and talked quietly – discussing the events during her brief years at school with us. It was a quiet, very much enjoyable luncheon. As we stood to leave, so did a group of roughs. I did not recognize them.

 

One stood in front – a great big man – and said, “Albus Dumbledore.”

 

“That’s me,” I said.

 

“This is the great Albus Dumbledore?”

 

I looked at him. I didn’t say anything.

 

“No wonder the governors removed you…if they’d done it sooner, some of the Mudbloods might actually have died. There’s always hope now, isn’t there?”

 

Miss Loomis was quite indignant. I attempted to escort her out – the best thing to do in situations like that is just leave – but the one in front stopped me.

 

I’m not proud of what I did. I Stunned him with a bit more force than was really necessary. Once he was down, the other three worked their way forward, but I dealt with it.

 

I don’t like fighting, Minerva. I am an old man, and I shouldn’t have to defend myself against four men who are a great deal younger than I.

 

That wasn’t the worst, though – seeing how nice Rosmerta was about it was horrible. By the time we were through, the pub was a bit of a mess, but instead of getting furious, she just patted me on the arm and told me and Miss Loomis to go on and not worry about it. She pitied me, Minerva. I’d just made a shambles of her pub and harmed four men, and she treats me as though I’m just as senile and helpless as everyone else thinks I am. Instead of getting angry about it, though, she patronizes me.

 

I escorted Miss Loomis back to her cottage and came back to the flat and sat for a long, long time. I know I’m neither senile nor helpless…at least I think I know that. Maybe I really am, and no one has told me yet. I hate being loomed over by ruffians and made to feel three times my age.

 

So I’m sending Fawkes back to you, Minerva, and let’s make no more mention of it.

 

-Albus

 

P.S. Mis Loomis’s potholders are quite lovely – purple with stars, and a blue one with clouds, and one with polka-dotted socks. She knows what I like.

 

 

 

 

 

22 May

 

Albus –

 

You asked me not to make any mention of what happened, but I feel that I must. You are not senile, and you are certainly not helpless. Perhaps there is just no stopping this attacker. Armando Dippet couldn’t stop the attacks fifty years ago, and they cost him his health. It is a shame that the attacks are still going on, but you mustn’t blame yourself. This isn’t your fault. Not in the least.

 

You also shouldn’t feel guilty for defending yourself against four men. If your force was excessive, what of it? You did not kill them – and think about this. Miss Loomis could not have defended herself adequately, since she never received her full education. Yes, she would not have been there had it not been for you, but were you really as senile as they are insinuating, she could have been harmed. Because of you, she was not. Don’t worry about it. You did well.

 

I am announcing to the students on Monday that their exams will commence in one week. They won’t be happy about it. If they’d spent more time revising and less time speculating on the identity of the Heir of Slytherin, they wouldn’t have to worry about their exams.

 

-Minerva

 

P.S. Your potholders sound lovely.

 

 

 

 

24 May

 

Minerva,

 

I had a little bit of an adventure last night. I decided to venture to Knockturn Alley.

 

Don’t panic, now – I kept myself invisible until I reached the Lethifold’s Lair. I went visit Sherrinford Shiftlet to see if I could get any information. He confirmed a few of my suspicions, but couldn’t come up with answers to some of my questions. No matter – I still know more than I did before. And yes, I came out of Knockturn Alley alive! So stop worrying!

 

I think that matters will soon come to a head. Be on guard. Don’t be panicked – just be aware.

 

-Albus

 

P.S. How is Severus?

 

 

 

 

 

26 May

 

Albus –

 

I have good news, for once: Sprout informed me after dinner that the Mandrakes will be ready for cutting tomorrow morning, and we can have the victims revived by tomorrow night. I’ve told Severus, and he told me that he will have the necessary ingredients ready for the Restorative Potion. Speaking of Severus, he is fine. I haven’t heard a thing from him since I delivered your note. Whatever you said – thank you.

 

Gilderoy, on the other hand – I’ve told him that he is patrolling with me tonight, so there will be no more shirking responsibility. I am sick and tired of people not holding up their end. I’m half-tempted to get Peeves to hide in a closet and scare the fool out of him – although such a thing might be impossible.

 

-Minerva

 

P.S. You will note that I did not mention your trip to Knockturn Alley.

 

 

 

26 May

 

Minerva—

 

Amusing as it might be, please refrain from frightening Gilderoy.

 

(But if you do, make sure there’s some way to record his reaction so I can see it later.)

 

-Albus

 

 

 

 

27 May

 

Albus –

 

I’ve just had the shock of my life. Potter and Ron Weasley had slipped away from their class in the corridor and were hurrying off in the direction of the hospital wing to go see Miss Granger.

 

All this time – I’d never thought – it’s really horrible. Yes, Miss Granger and the rest will be revived tonight, but Albus, how could I have been so positively callous? I spent all this time thinking about how hard it was for me to run a school, and I never had a thought for how the friends of the victims must be feeling. Right after I sent off Potter and Weasley, I found Percy and asked him how he was doing. To tell the truth, he looked a great deal better than he has the past few days. He said it was because the victims would be revived – Albus, there’s not anything romantic between Percy and Miss Clearwater, is there?

 

I’m feeling like a cretin. I suppose I just thought you ought to know. Oh, Merlin’s teeth.

 

At any rate, how is your day going?

 

-Minerva

 

 

 

 

 

27 May

 

Minerva –

 

You are not a cretin. You’ve had other things to worry about. They seem to be doing fine.

 

And yes, I have my suspicions about Mr. Weasley and Miss Clearwater.

 

-Albus

 

 

 

 

Albus –

 

I’ve just had a meeting with the staff – oh, Merlin – Ginny Weasley has been taken into the Chamber – there’s a message on the wall – sending the students home tomorrow.

 

I don’t care what the governors think any more, as there won’t be any more Hogwarts – just please come. Please.

 

-M

 

 

 

 

 

M,

 

I’m on my way. Fawkes will get there faster than I will, but I’ll be there right after him.

 

-A

//
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