Auror prowled the corridors as ordered whilst all day toying with the idea of
confronting at least one of those personified memories that walked the castle.
She headed for the dungeons, the thought of setting her mind at rest about
Snape first pricking at her conscience. But when she saw fifth year Neville
Longbottom race down the corridor, covered in a horrible smelling pink
substance, she changed her mind and returned to the higher floors. As she
passed the Defense Against
the Dark Arts room, she could hear that calm voice explaining the habits of
mountain trolls to an enraptured class. She may have been irritated by his
calmness had she not spent the night remembering happier times. As it was, she
couldn’t bring herself to interrupt the class’ obvious interest in what Lupin
was saying...or maybe just how he was saying it.
the Auror reached a large and extremely ugly stone gargoyle. She regarded it
apprehensively. Fiddling with the piece of paper from her pocket again, she
took note of something it showed her, and brought her wand out.
one tap on the nose of the gargoyle, and a simple but little known revealing
spell, letters began carving and uncarving themselves
onto the stone creature’s forehead. SUGAR QUILL they read.
“Ah-ha.” The Auror smiled and stepped back as the letters
disappeared. “Sugar quill.” The gargoyle jumped aside
and the wall opened, revealing a staircase that glided slowly upwards,
revolving noiselessly, despite being made of heavy chunks of green granite.
she reached the top, the Auror hesitated before knocking. She didn’t know if
she really wanted this conversation...or if she just thought she did. But before she could turn around and go back down
the stairs, Albus Dumbledore’s voice hailed her from behind the heavy oak door.
“Come in, Sephine. I’ve been wondering when you’d turn up...”
her own foolishness, the Auror opened the door with a wry smile. Dumbledore
smiled warmly back, his eyes twinkling brightly at her from behind his spectacles.
“Fawkes certainly knows you’re here, and keeps making it plain to me that he
misses the occasional chat with another phoenix.”
Auror laughed lightly, and held out an arm as the beautiful bird swept across
the circular room, a blaze of living flame. It wasn’t known to many that she
was an Animagus, but she had been for a very long time. In Ireland - where she had grown up with the traveling
entertainers - she remembered her parents giving her hints and tips about the
Animagus spell all the time, finally, at the age of 10 encouraging her to
attempt it for herself.
was practically unheard of that a witch or wizard should transform into a
magical creature, and especially not that a ten-year-old Irish gypsy should.
Dumbledore, as a relatively new headmaster, had leapt at the chance to have a
child with so much potential at Hogwarts. The Auror had been allowed a lot of
time to just spend her time as a phoenix and converse with Fawkes, who had
been very interesting, if not easy to understand.
Sephine, what is it that you need to ask?” Dumbledore’s question brought her
back to the present with an unpleasant slide of guilt.
I--” She had been about to say that it was nothing and did not matter when he
know what you want to know. I also know that you crave answers. Ask me
questions, Sephine, and you shall get as many answers as you request.” He
regarded her with a level gaze, the youthful-looking blue eyes pinning her to
she sighed. “I...I just want to know why me. Why you picked me to come here. Especially after all...my past here. Wouldn’t it have been
simpler to choose someone who wouldn’t be so...distracted by their
smile came back. “Ah yes... you feel this must be some sort of a joke on my
part, bringing you to Hogwarts at the same time as having Remus Lupin, Sirius
Black, and Severus Snape here?” Before she could comment on this display of
unnerving perception he held up one hand for silence. “No Sephine. I’m not
having a little joke. It is a method of killing five birds with one stone.”
to help it, she shook her head. “Huh? Five?”
“Yes, five. You don’t think you are the only one with
unpleasant memories of that night do you? I have brought you four adults together again, to talk it
through like adults. And as you have probably
guessed by now, neither Severus, Sirius, nor Remus has
any idea that it is you yet. I leave it up to you to choose the correct time to
reveal yourself to them and discuss what needs discussing.”
Auror sat speechless for a few moments, gathering her thoughts together once
more. “Who’s the fifth bird?”
this Dumbledore gave a little laugh. “The fifth bird is the Auror that I would
have had to get this year anyway due to all this new trouble with Voldemort.”
* * *
Auror tried not to dwell on what Dumbledore had said before their long
conversation on the Dark Lord. She might have had complained that there wasn’t
anything that needed to be talked about, but his stressing on the word ‘adult’
had convinced her to keep her mouth shut for once.
she rode the updraughts high over the Quidditch pitch, Fawkes slightly above
and ahead of her, she felt her head and thoughts clear, and she realised just
how much she needed to talk to those people. No matter how
awkward it would be, or how emotional, or how painful. It had to be
her mind warmed to the idea and she began to imagine the situations, the
thought of it didn’t seem quite so bad, in fact, as
she descended towards the castle - magnificent below - she became quite eager
for it to happen.
in mid-air as she approached the roof, the Auror jumped lightly to the stone
surface, waving farewell to Fawkes as she went down the staircase open to her.
From determination and decision at the top of the stairs, the rational mind the
phoenix gave her flew away, once more leaving her a mass of indecision and
confusion at the bottom of the stairs.
stalked along the lunch-time corridors of Hogwarts, a menacing presence amongst
the crowd of happy students, only stopping once, to break up a row involving
some of her least favourite people, and some of her favourites.
Malfoy was brandishing a rolled up copy of The
Daily Prophet at a tiny owl that whizzed incessantly around his head.
“Shoo! Shoo, you stupid creature! Weasley, call this thing off now!”
Weasly and Harry Potter were in fits of laughter despite Crabbe and Goyle’s
menacing glares and muscle-flexings. Even Hermione Granger was smiling at
Malfoy’s frustration. Between tears of laughter, Ron managed to say, “What’s
wrong, Malfoy? Can’t handle that tiny
thing? Pathetic, truly pathetic!”
eventually, the newspaper connected with the owl, and it went shooting
headfirst out of an open window nearby, hooting in apparent excitement.
mood swung to black then, and he launched himself upon Malfoy. “Oy! There’s no need to hit him!”
having a feeling that Ron had just been itching for an excuse to go at Malfoy,
hesitated for a moment as Hermione said, “And there’s no need to hit him either.” But when Crabbe and Goyle
began to pitch in, Harry jumped forwards to his friend’s aid.
Auror smiled as she saw Hermione roll her eyes, and reached her hands into the
fray, grabbing a Slytherin tie and a Gryffindor tie, and pulling Ron and Draco
out of the tussle. “What on earth are you filth-years doing?” A sixth year
sniggered as he walked past.
think you’ll find we’re fifth years.”
Malfoy scoffed from between clenched teeth.
no, you are filth-years. I’ve never heard of this sort of appalling behaviour
among descendants of such honourable wizarding families.” That was a lie. “Mr.
Weasly, I am not impressed by your miss-use of that owl, but, Mr. Malfoy, I am
also not impressed by your cruel and harsh treatment of such an innocent
creature.” She regarded Crabbe and Goyle, who were rubbing bruises and scowling
threateningly. “As for you two goons, I suggest you stick to your day jobs -
being students - and leave those body-guard careers alone. And Harry, although
sticking up for Ron in that case was okay, as he was outnumbered - “
“What?!” Malfoy shouted.
Auror sighed and gave the boy’s tie a tug as she continued. “ - Just remember
the next time you feel like sharing fisticuffs with your enemies that you don’t
have to get involved just because a
friend is...you can make up your mind for yourself in the filth year.” And with
this wry comment, she released their ties and made to leave.
finish this one, Weasly. Duel.”
“Not now, you idiot! That bloody Auror’s just over there!”
the bloody Auror is just over here, and if you need a referee for that duel,
then all you have to do is ask.” Walking away again,
wanting nothing more to do with this amusing, but childish clash of
personalities, the Auror was stopped by Hermione.
you going to punish them? Discourage them from the duel at least?!”
don’t see why I should. They’re not going to kill one another at this stage,
and it’s a useful learning experience.”
they could be seriously hurt!”
Auror lowered her voice slightly, and said, “Come to my office, a moment,
Hermione, and I shall explain.” Puzzled, the girl followed, leaving the boys
still arguing. When she had closed the door, the Auror lowered her hood, as a
sign that she was being honest. “I meant, when I mentioned refereeing, that I
shall be there when they meet for the duel and call it off for them.”
at the sight of the Auror’s face as she was, Hermione recovered herself
quickly. “But how will you know when they meet?”
have...my ways, means and sources. I can find out where they will meet, but not when.”
studied her face for a moment, looking for any sign that this woman wasn’t
being entirely honest, but she could find none. “Okay. I can find out when
they’re having it. Will I be able to catch you in your office at all times?”
will find me with Harry’s map. I shan’t be moving around too much, but if I am,
just wait until I am still, then come and find me.”
nodded, choosing to disregard the Auror’s knowledge of the Marauder’s Map. Then plucked up the courage to ask, “Er...How should I address you?
“No, no not Professor.” The Auror laughed. “Miss Winters
would be okay, I suppose. Or just Auror. Call me
girl nodded again, seeming to understand. “Okay, Auror.” Then with a fleeting
smile of conspiracy, she left the Auror’s office.
* * *
night, unable to sleep much, the Auror pulled her robes tightly about her and
travelled back up to the trophy room, to wrestle with her thoughts. She knew
she had to speak to Remus and Severus, but she couldn’t bring herself to yet.
It would probably be the last day of summer term before she’d do anything, she
mused. And even then, she’d most likely need Dumbledore’s wise hand stirring
getting anywhere with those thoughts, she let her attention wander to another
important conversation she’d had with Dumbledore.
Remus looked up from examining her handiwork
with glee. “This map is awesome Sephy! Where’d you learn to write like this?”
Sirius peered over his
shoulder, “Gosh, all it needs is a few spells and then it’ll be done! I don’t
really believe that we’ve almost finished
it.” The four Marauders, Lily, Sephine,
and Charlie all regarded the piece of parchment with
awe. After so long exploring Hogwarts and scrawling down notes about
passageways and tunnels, they had put it all together, and with a little help,
had made a beautiful map.
Sephine swivelled it to
face her, and dipped her quill. “What shall I write at the top then?
James grinned. “No, we
have it all worked out - but are you sure you three don’t want to sign it?”
Lily shook her head,
“If that’s caught by Filch I don’t want any way of tracing this back to me to
Charlie grinned. “I
didn’t really do much...I’m kind of an innocent bystander here.”
“And I’m definitely
going with Lily on this one.”
James sighed and
shrugged. “Suit yourselves! Okay, here’s what we want - ‘Messrs Moony,
Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, purveyors of aids to--”
“Hey, wait! I can’t
write neatly that fast!”
“Um...where was I?”
of aids to.’”
“Oh, right. ‘Purveyors
of aids to magical mischief makers’”
“’Are proud to
Sirius obliged by
beating his and James’ wands on the table.
And with that, Sirius jumped on to the table and spread his arms wide in
triumph. Just as the Headmaster appeared in the library
“Mr. Black? I don’t
think that is very good for the table. Would you and your
friends please come with me a moment - all of you.”
The teenagers exchanged
glances, then Lily charmed the map back to its hiding place and they cautiously
made their way to Dumbledore’s office.
When they were allowed
in, the old wizard was looking more serious than any of them had ever seen him.
He observed them for a moment over his half-moon spectacles before speaking.
are all in your 7th years...that is correct? Yes. Now you are all also
aware of the Ministry of Magic’s demands that this school increases its
The students exchanged
bemused looks, which Dumbledore caught.
“Ah, well...I shall
have to explain to you then. The Ministry feels that Voldemort and his Death
Eaters will easily be able to come storming into Hogwarts, should they so wish,
with minimal resistance. Of course, you and I know that this is not possible,
and will not be possible as long as I am headmaster here. Voldemort is very afraid
of us still, and will not just march in here - that would be a foolish thing to
do, and evil he may be, but foolish he is not. So I am asking my most talented
students, if they would mind postponing great careers in magic, to stay and
work for an old man, just for one year.”
The sat in silence for
a moment, then Peter got up from the seat at the back, where he had been
cowering. “I don’t think you meant me to hear this conversation, Headmaster,
I’m sorry for coming and I’ll leave now.” But the old wizard stopped him.
“No, Peter, I meant for
you to hear this too. You have a great many talents that have yet to reveal
themselves, and will prove very useful in what I am asking you to do.”
The boy’s face
registered astonishment and incomprehension. He had never been asked this
before. No one had ever needed him like this. Finally, he lowered himself back
into the chair, a red flush spreading over his cheeks.
“Thank you Peter, I
appreciate your loyalty greatly. And the rest of you?
I am not ordering you to stay, and you must know that you shall not be paid
much, if anything at all. But I know that you are all capable of this job I am
Lily, who was best at
keeping her wits in times of crisis, answered before the rest of them. “What
exactly is the job you are offering, Headmaster?”
Dumbledore smiled, and
gave a quiet laugh. “Ah, yes. Of course. You must know
that before making any decisions. You will be helping Professor Flitwick,
mainly, setting charms and wards around the castle. Severus Snape will be
staying on as well, and you will all be expected to
behave like adults.” Some looks of doubt and disgust were exchanged at this,
but all vowed to live up to Dumbledore’s expectations. “You will be sent out in
groups to patrol the edges of the grounds, keeping an eye or two open for
suspicious activities or spells. If any other minor jobs arise, you will be
given the opportunity to deal with them, but you will be kept as far from
danger as we can help it.”
“Well, I don’t know
about the rest of you guys but there’s no choice here for me.” James was the
first to speak up. Noises of assent were made, and heads bobbed in agreement.
“I’m staying here.”
“Me too - it beats
home, believe me.” Sirius looked slightly pale but determined.
“And me. If James is
staying I’ll have to stay to keep an eye on him.” Lily squeezed James’ hand,
and smiled a nervous smile.
“I’ve already given my
answer.” Peter looked exceedingly white, but just as determined as Sirius.
Charlie was grinning.
“I can’t wait, this’ll be a blast, it’ll be just like
Sephine smiled too, not
wanting to show the butterflies that were attacking the inside of her stomach.
“Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be an Auror, and this way I’ll get plenty of work
Remus, however, didn’t
look so convinced. “I don’t know. I - I won’t really do much good. I’ll just
let you guys down.” Only Sephine and Charlie appeared not to understand, and
Dumbledore shook his bearded head, thinking how much trouble that could cause
Sephine comforted, wrapping an arm around his slumped shoulders. “You’ll be the
most valuable member of the team! C’mon, you know you’re best at hands-on
Defence Against the Dark Arts, no matter how much I
pretend to be so good at it. You’re the real whiz-kid.”
He tried to hide his
smile, but found he couldn’t, as her smile had always been so infectious, and
she was smiling right now. Just for him it seemed. “Okay.” He whispered.
been the one who’d convinced him. It had been her fault that he’d stayed. The
Auror groaned at the irritation of knowing that the past couldn’t be changed,
and sat with her head in her hands until dawn broke through the windows once
“Wha--?” She leapt to her feet, scrabbling for her gold
watch. “Oh blast!” She raced along corridors and up stairs, until she found the
staff bathroom...engaged. Unable to stop in time, though, she careened headlong
into the heavy wooden door.
shocked voice from within exclaimed, “Hey! Can’t you see it’s engaged? Just
wait a couple of minutes, can’t you?”
“Er, sorry.” The Auror mumbled, glancing at her watch again
and fidgeting. She had been pacing outside the bathroom for nearly fifteen
minutes when the previous user emerged, a towel round his waist and another
draped over his shoulders. The Auror stopped pacing and stood fixed to the
ground, as Lupin smiled. “All yours,” he said, and gestured to the open door as he
walked past her.
* * *