There was a scapegoat available -- one that didn't involve admitting to Voldemort's existence.
It couldn't be Longbottom, of course -- everyone knew his history, and that he was little better than a squib. And blaming Barrett, while she was quite conveniently dead and unable to defend herself, would bring up Voldemort again.
So three days after I wakened I was called to a Disciplinary Hearing, presided over by Fudge and the Minister of Muggle Relations. It was a preliminary hearing, only -- presumably I would be given a full trial at the Ministry should Fudge get his way. They did me the honour of holding it at Hogwarts in deference to my current state of health.
How thoughtful of them.
Severus and Minerva took the two days' grace to go over my version of that night's events, though they'd already got them from Neville. They both paled when I mentioned that I thought I'd seen the Power in the Summoning Circle with Delia, and Neville's explanation for the Dementor's ability to breach it.
"The Power has to be controlled in that manifestation," Snape explained, "and the Summoner must be protected within the circle. Theoretically if she had completed the ritual with the circle broken it would have killed not only her, but the two of you --"
Minerva paled even further at that, and I'd swear I heard her mutter "Ye gods, of all people for her to have chosen -- the other one...." before she clamped her lips shut.
What on earth does she mean?
But Snape went on.
"-- it could possibily have even destroyed part of the grounds, depending upon which precise entity she was calling."
And we couldn't know which: Neville knew next to nothing of runes (and was too frightened to note them, in any case), and I hadn't been close enough to get a good look.
"Careless of her," Minerva said faintly. "She must have known."
"I don't think she much cared either way, by that point," I said. "Thank you for telling me: I don't feel nearly as guilty about her death, now, though I wouldn't wish the means of it on anyone."
They spent the rest of the time coaching me on my testimony: there was to be no mention of the Patroni. Longbottom had been coached as well -- by Snape, who managed, by persuasion and threat, to convince Neville that his Potion Master's wrath was far more frightening than the Prime Minister's (as if Neville didn't already know that).
I doubted it would help at this late date. Neville was almost incapable of keeping a secret, and if Snape hadn't got to him immediately after the incident then the entire Gryffindor Common Room had known what had happened before the next morning. (That's probably why they defied Snape and spent part of their class time with me: they approved of my defence of Neville, and transferred some of their loyalty for him to me.)
Snape had more cause to be disgusted with Neville, as it happened. Snape had taken twenty points for Neville violating curfew -- and another fifty for putting himself and a faculty member in danger: McGonagall had promptly awarded him one hundred for his bravery in staying with me, which neatly evened out both Snape's punishment and the ten I'd taken for bad language, with enough left over to give Gryffindor House the lead in the Cup standings over Slytherin.
Livid does not begin to describe Snape's reaction, which was so extreme that Pomfrey had to send him out of the Infirmary in case he upset me. (She needn't have done: I was more amused at Snape's reaction than upset by it.)
I absolutely refused to allow the hearing to convene in the Infirmary, despite Pomfrey's objections and Snape's observation that we could play on my current weakness. If I was going to be on trial, I'd do it suitably attired and on my feet, damn it. I knew the value of an effectively pathetic entrance, too. Fudge wouldn't have any problem with being brusque with a harmless-looking, weak, gimpy Muggle female, but Minister Protheroe might be another matter.
So at ten in the morning Molly brought 'round my best suit -- which hung quite convincingly off my frame, since I'd not taken it in since I first arrived at Hogwarts -- and she, Pomfrey, and Viktor Krum (in lieu of Neville, who was being grilled by Fudge at the moment) helped me to Headmaster's -- that is, Minerva's -- office. Someone had thoughtfully provided me with a walking stick as well -- I wasn't certain who, but it was ebony with silver fittings and an elaborate "S" monogramme. I'd never seen Snape use it, even when he was terribly ill, so I assumed it was a family heirloom. (It was a nice touch: the right prop can be very soothing, almost like a talisman.)
Neville and Hagrid had already been deposed by the time I was ready (Sirius couldn't of course -- he was holed up in Heart's Solace until Fudge was out of the vicinity), so there was nothing for it but to face the Inquisition. Good thing: I hate that last ten minutes, waiting for the curtain to go up. It leaves you prey to doubt and stagefright.
Fudge was seated in the Headmistress' chair, behind the great desk when I entered, and Protheroe beside him; Fudge didn't bother to stand, though Protheroe had the manners to do so. I gently shook Poppy's hand from my elbow and limped over to the chair, and Arthur -- whom I hadn't expected to be here -- hurried over to help me sit. Minerva, Snape, and Moody were present as witnesses -- they were required -- and Percy Weasley sat at a side table, ready to takes notes for the Ministry.
"Miss Hunter," Fudge acknowledged me coldly. "Let's get to the bottom of this, shall we? I assume you're well enough to proceed."
"I think so, sir," I replied calmly.
"Very well." He adjusted his pince-nez on his nose and spread open the scroll before him. "The charges are as follows: firstly, the abduction of two minor wizards, namely Neville Longbottom and Delia Barrett. Secondly, the endangerment of said minors resulting in the death of Delia Barrett. Thirdly, the use of unlicensed magic resulting in the death of Delia Barrett." He let the scroll close with a snap. "Perhaps you are aware," he noted with a steely look over his glasses rims, "that the first of the charges carries a mandatory five year term in Azkaban, and each of the second two a ten year term, resulting in a total of twenty-five years without parole?"
"Yes, I a--"
"Just a minute, Mir -- er, Professor Hunter," Arthur hastily interrupted and shot up from his chair. "That's not correct, Prime Minister."
Fudge stared at him. "I was not aware you had official recognition at this hearing, Arthur."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Prime Minister -- didn't I make that clear? Professor Hunter is entitled to counsel. I'm it," Arthur stammered.
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us....
Nobody'd warned me -- in fact, I don't think they knew, either; there was a distinct air of, 'Oh, Merlins' balls,' from the witnesses behind me.
Arthur was scrabbling among his notes. "According to the, uh, 'Regulations Regarding Disciplinary Hearings' --" he gabbled, and finally pulled a scribbled paper from his stack of scrolls, "-- 'Any entity, regardless of ethnicity, persuasion, or classification as human being or animal, magical or otherwise' --"
"Yes, Mr. Weasley, I'm aware of the regulations," Fudge said irritably -- though he obviously hadn't bothered to see that we were. "Is this acceptable, Miss Hunter?"
"I think it's advisable, under the circumstances," I said dryly.
"How do you plead?"
"Ah -- wait, wait, I'm not done with my objection," Arthur protested, all but hopping up and down, and Fudge shot him a glare. "Article 153 Section B of the Muggle-Wizard Treaty of 1942 prohibits the detention of any Muggle in any Wizarding prison, regardless of the severity of the charge -- es. Charges."
Fudge continued to glower at him. "According to my information, Arthur, there's no doubt Miss Hunter performed magic; ipso facto, she's not a Muggle."
"Begging your pardon, Prime Minister, but that's not been proven," Arthur objected.
Fudge went purple. "The veracity of the charges is what needs proving, Mr. Weasley; my source is unimpeachable," he sputtered.
"I think it's a reasonable point, Prime Minister," Protheroe offered mildly. "Perhaps we should confirm whether Professor Hunter is magical or not. None of the previous testimony supports it."
Oh, good for you, Minister Protheroe. And thank you for the hint.
Fudge wasn't happy, but he had to concede the point in the face of reason. "Very well, it's a waste of time, but in the interest of making this absolutely clear we'll do it. Enter the new charge in the record, Percy."
Percy stuttered, "Uh, what would that be, Prime --"
"Posing as a Muggle for deceptive purposes," Fudge said icily.
"I'm not certain that's a recognised charge, Prime Minister, it's never been --"
"It will do to be going on with," Fudge said grimly. "The others will follow once this has been proven. Congratulations, Miss Hunter, you've set a precedent. Yet again," he added through gritted teeth. "How do you plead?"
"Not Guilty," I said coolly.
"Then let us proceed. Did you or did you not perform unlicensed magic on the night of April 27th?"
"I did not, Prime Minister."
Strictly true, if one bought into Moody's theory. If a Muggle can be taught to manifest a guardian, it's not a purely magical skill; it's a grey area. Therefore, it shouldn't require licensing.
"You were seen, Miss Hunter," he said with a triumphant smile. "Do you deny my informant's testimony?"
"Your informant is mistaken, sir. He or she couldn't possibly have seen what they think."
Again true: Neville was the only one who could have actually seen it as the other students were accounted for in their Common Rooms.
I was betting the events of that night had made the rounds on the rumour mill, and Fudge's information was hearsay.
"Are you quite certain of that, Miss Hunter?" He was testing me, hoping I hadn't caught Protheroe's implication and that I'd doubt Neville's resolve.
"Sir, of the two possible eyewitnesses, one is dead, and the other couldn't have seen it because it didn't happen," I explained patiently.
That's an outright lie. But Snape and McGonagall will kill me if I depart from the script.
"Are you telling me," Fudge said, his beady eyes boring into me, "that you cannot perform magic?"
Wanded magic, certainly. And Moody's theory is looking better all the time....
"You will forgive me," he continued with a distinctly nasty smile, "if I doubt your truthfulness at the moment," and he rose and picked up a small vial from the corner of the desk. "I think it's time to resort to more drastic measures. You know what Veritaserum is, Miss Hunter?"
Arthur popped up to make an objection, but Fudge shut him up with another glare.
"It will compel me to tell you the truth."
"Now, wait a blasted minute, Minister Fudge. You know that's never been tested on Muggles," Moody spat out.
"I think the circumstances require that we take all necessary risks, Auror Moody," Fudge observed smoothly.
"I cannot allow it." Pomfrey shot up out of her chair, face red. "She's recently suffered a head injury. It could do irreparable damage."
"In my professional capacity I would have to concur, Minister Fudge," Snape said disinterestedly. Arthur was frantically flipping through his papers, looking for an out. "Check Article 235, Mr. Weasley," Snape added. "I believe it contitutes illegal experimentation upon a Muggle subject -- seeing that magical abilities have not yet been proven."
"Ah! Ah, here it is, Section C: 'The use of any potion, regardless of efficacy in Wizarding subjects, shall not be used on Muggle subjects --"
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley --" Snape tried to interject, but Arthur plowed ahead.
"'-- unless in an appropriately controlled environment and with the free and full... consent of the... said....'" Arthur trailed off in embarrassment as he realised his exuberance had sunk me.
I'm sure Snape wasn't actually glaring at Arthur, but I could feel the hostility coming off him in waves.
"There." Fudge practically beamed. "I'm sure given the circumstances, Miss Hunter, that 'free and full consent' shall be forthcoming, shan't it?"
"My objection stands," Poppy said obstinately. "This is hardly a controlled environment. In fact, I shouldn't feel comfortable allowing it even in the Infirmary."
"Miss Hunter?" Fudge persisted, ignoring Poppy.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I will have to decline. I'm afraid I agree with Madam Pomfrey," I said firmly.
"You realise that your lack of cooperation may be admitted into evidence against you later?" he said with a scowl.
"You must understand, my sister died from cerebral aneurysm and I've never been tested. I'm not anxious to expose myself to anything that might bring one on, particularly in my current condition."
He digested this little tidbit of information, drumming his fingers on the desk.
"I suppose," he said thoughfully, "that we could adjourn for the moment and reconvene at St. Mungo's. They could do the testing and, providing you have a clean bill of health, we could proceed from there. Even you must admit, I think, that that qualifies as a 'controlled environment?'"
It did. And there was no bloody way I was going to let him Apparate me to London, have my brain poked and prodded by a specialist, and let him dose me with that stuff. I somehow doubted he'd buy Alastor's theory.
"Actually," I said slowly, and mentally blessed Albus Dumbledore, "there might be an easier way."
"Your wand, Miss Hunter?" he asked slowly.
"Yes, Prime Minister." Out of the corner of my eye I could see Arthur staring at me in utter horror.
"And why should a Muggle have a wand?" he continued, a smile slowly creasing his face.
"Headmaster Dumbledore was concerned for my safety, so he arranged that I be provided with a wand and with magical instruction from Alastor Moody."
"Why should he be so concerned?"
"My relations with several of the students are less than... congenial," I said dryly. "Professor Snape can confirm this, I believe."
Fudge's eyes flickered above my head: presumably Snape nodded acquiesence, for Fudge looked back at me grimly.
"Moody, did Dumbledore ask you to... tutor Miss Hunter in the magical arts?"
"Defence only," Moody admitted gruffly.
"And the result?"
"She can't cast the simplest spell. The average squib's more talented, in my opinion."
Thank God Fudge didn't have the presence of mind to parse "simplest." The Patronus Charm was far from simple: even some experienced Wizards had trouble with it, presumably because it depended as much on ones' ability to experience and recall happiness as on any magical skill, if not more so.
Fudge's eyes went beady again. "Fetch the wand," he demanded me.
"Ah... would someone mind calling an Elf for me?" I asked with a twinge of embarrassment. I didn't think it would do for him to know I could, even if it wasn't technically a magical skill.
Minerva summoned Dobby -- whose happy face immediately crumpled when he saw Fudge.
"Dobby," I said, "in my rooms in the top right drawer of my desk is an Ollivander's box. Would you bring it, please?"
"Yes, Miss Miranda," he squeaked breathlessly, popped out, and popped back in almost instantly, wand box in hand.
"May I?" Fudge intercepted Dobby before he could give me the box.
"Thank you, Dobby -- that's all," I dismissed him quietly as Fudge opened the box and withdrew the wand.
"Is this the same wand, Moody?"
"Looks like it," Alastor allowed suspiciously.
"Very well. Let's see what it has to tell us."
Fudge held my wand in his left hand, withdrew his own, and ordered, "Prior Incantato!"
Absolutely nothing happened.
He stared at it for a moment, hefting it in his hand, and then slipped his own wand onto the desk, in easy reach. "Would you care to demonstrate, Miss Hunter? Just a wave at first, please. To be sure it is the... appropriate wand."
To be sure we hadn't switched it, in other words.
I took it from him, sat upright, and gave it my best swish and flick: the familiar, sickly little puff of sparks came out of the tip.
Alastor snorted. "Definitely the same. Her nevvie was Muggleborn, so it's probably just a residual trace in the blood."
"Very well," Fudge granted. "A Lumos this time, please."
I took a deep breath. If there really is anything in there, now it not the time to show up....
Nothing. Not the faintest flicker of light.
Fudge's eyebrows shot up in alarm.
"I don't -- technique looks right," he muttered under his breath. "But it can't be --" he shook his head in disbelief. "Summon something. Summon..." a very nasty gleam came into his eyes. "Summon the Sorting Hat."
Oh, Sweet Jaysus. I think I know where this is headed.
But there was nothing for it.
"Accio Sorting Hat."
Bless it, it didn't budge.
"Well." Fudge reached over and gingerly removed the wand from my hand. "It appears Miss Hunter is not capable of magic. Of wanded magic," he amended with a smile. "But there is one last test, I think. Percy, would you bring the Hat over, please?"
McGonagall made a sound of protest which Fudge promptly squelched. "I'm sure it won't object, under the circumstances, Headmistress," he said with a smile. "It is, after all, in a good cause."
Percy pulled the Hat from its shelf and moved bedside me. "Would you humour me, Miss Hunter? It won't hurt at all, you know," Fudge said with a chuckle.
I took the Hat from Percy without comment and shoved it down over my ears.
"Well, well... quite an interesting little prospect, aren't you? However did you get yourself in this situation?" the Hat wheezed in my head.
Let's get this over with, I thought to it grimly. You're sentient, you know what's going on. Do what you need to.
"Oh, my dear, what I need and what Fudge wants are two different things, you know. I always have to consider the intent of all parties in situations like this. There's just one little thing I need to check before we proceed, though.... Let me see... ahhhh, yes, there it is." It chuckled. "Even more important than talent, that is."
"Your loyalty. Vast reserves of that -- very impressive. No, Dumbledore was right to have no doubts on that score. He fairly itched to try me out on you, you know -- knew it would settle this little talent issue once and for all."
Interesting observation, but Fudge is waiting for precisely that.
"Let him wait. This isn't taking nearly as long as you think -- it's milliseconds to them. I just want to take another peek at -- oh, my, now that is interesting."
I sighed impatiently and refused to encourage it by asking.
"Does he know?"
"Severus Snape, silly girl, who else? Don't forget, I heard your little confession to Dumbledore. You're quite fierce about Snape, aren't you?"
That's neither here nor there. And I sincerely hope he doesn't know.
"Liar." It chuckled again. "You're right to be reticent, though. His type, and he's a rare one, needs the thrill of the chase -- or the stalking, in his case. The sussing out of true nature and loyalties. The testing. Tried me on again when he came back to Dumbledore, so I know he won't willingly yoke himself to anyone he can't understand to his full satisfaction -- not anymore. Learned his lesson well after that last cock-up. From what I see here, I think he'd approve." It gave a snigger. "He's glaring at me right now. I imagine he wants to chuck me into the fire."
He's not the only one.
It laughed outright.
"All right, girl, I'll settle this now. Sit back and enjoy the fun. Fudge thinks I'm some toy to be bandied about like his Veritaserum? Well, we'll show him."
It cleared its throat and made its pronouncement out loud.
"Why, Cornelius Fudge, you surprise me. Do you think my age has addled my brains? It hasn't, and I'll prove it to you, extempore -- no mucking about for a year, playing with the rhyme and metre.
"To twist the Fates to your own end Is risky work: They do not bend To mortal wishes and the plots Of those who'd work the skein in knots.
The threads must spin both straight and true Else Chaos and the wreck ensue Of Wizard, Muggle; and all life Devolve to darkness, death and strife.
You seek to win your heart's desire By throwing others on the pyre Of your ambition and your flaws: But sad to say, here you've no cause.
And now that I've your hubris shown, Here's to the point: your chance has flown! The girl is Muggle through and through, So here you've nothing left to do
But slink away to nurse your pride. Your fate is sealed: you cannot hide."
The look on Fudge's face was indescribable. It will suffice to say that his complexion alternated rapidly between purple and paper-white: he looked well on his way to apoplexy.
"Not bad, for off the cuff," the Hat whispered to me.
I agree. Full marks. I took it from my head and gently placed it on the desk.
"It's been fiddled with!" Fudge blustered.
"You know that's not possible, Prime Minister," McGonagall shot back at him.
"But my informant --" he railed.
"Draco Malfoy," Snape interjected coldly, "and by extension his father have a vested interest in discrediting Professor Hunter, Prime Minister. You might have considered that possibility before you acted so hastily and subjected her to this stress."
The pince-nez popped from the bridge of Fudge's nose and he stared myopically at Snape, speechless.
"Well," said Minister Protheroe mildly -- we'd almost forgotten him, he'd been so quiet throughout, "I rather think that settles it, Prime Minister. I don't know how we can proceed, under the circumstances."
Fudge drew the tatters of his dignity around him. "This hearing," he spat out, "is adjourned." He snatched his wand from the desk and made for the door.
"But, Prime Minister, the charges --" Percy cried.
"Dismissed!" Fudge shouted as he disappeared down the stair.
Percy frantically scribbled the result on his scroll -- he'd had trouble keeping up with the Hat -- and hastily gathered his papers as Protheroe moved to me and shook my hand.
"Very sorry for the inconvenience, Professor Hunter," he said quietly. "I hope our next meeting shall be a happier occasion, and I wish you a speedy recovery." He drew his Homburg over his ears and adjusted it to a distinctly jaunty angle. "Coming, Percy?"
"Just a -- all right, yes," Percy panted. "Congratulations, Professor Hunter," he tossed over his shoulder as they exited.
I'd got off the hook. On a technicality, to be sure, and Fudge's inability to grasp that the line between magic and muggle is tenuous at best -- but I was free. And I hadn't even had to testify about what had actually happened.
Everyone had the decency to wait in silence until the door had closed behind Protheroe and Percy Weasley -- and then all hell broke loose.
Moody made it over first, pulling me to my feet and giving me a bear hug worthy of Hagrid as well as several enthusiastic busses on the cheeks; Arthur let out a whoop and threw his scrolls in the air, dancing a jig. Minerva McGonagall's face was spilt in an ear-to-ear grin -- I hadn't known her lips could move that far -- and Poppy was laughing, her fingers clenched in the shoulders of Snape's robes.
He was still sitting, pale and drained, utterly exhausted and stunned.
Arthur finally remembered the object of his joy and tore me away from Moody, swinging me around to the point of dizziness.
"Arthur!" Poppy raced over and swatted at him desperately. "She's still sick!"
"Not for long!" he roared, and proceeded to add to the damage Moody'd already inflicted on my cheeks. "Between you and Moll, you'll have her back to herself in no time --"
"Arthur -- urk --" (he'd given me a particularly hard squeeze) "-- Arthur, thank you, but -- oh, Arthur, he's not pleased with you -- what if --"
"To hell with Fudge!" he cried. "To hell with the Ministry -- 'cept Protheroe, bless 'im -- to hell with the job! I'll go to work for Fred and George, if I have to!"
He finally wore himself out and dropped me back into my chair, and collapsed into the nearest one himself.
"So Hagrid and Neville did well?" I asked McGonagall as she seated herself behind the desk.
"Beautifully -- lied like professionals. Albus would be proud of them," she chortled, and then stopped herself in horror.
"Yes," I said unsteadily, "he would be." And I started giggling uncontrollably.
Soon they all were. Even Snape managed a wry grin.
"Sorry. I honestly hadn't thought of it before," I said. "I would've warned you if I had. Unlike Arthur."
"We didn't know of that, either," Snape rumbled from his windowseat. "I suspect he and Percy cooked that up between them."
I opened my mouth to worry about the fallout from that, and McGonagall stopped me.
"He'll be fine, Miranda. I rather think it's Protheroe's decision, in any case, not Fudge's."
"Good." I set my teacup on the edge of the desk -- I couldn't drink it, anyway, my hands were shaking too badly -- and pulled myself to my feet. "I've had more than enough for one day as well. I'd best go back to the Infirmary before Poppy sends out the troops --"
"Just one moment, Miranda. Sit," McGonagall instructed sternly, and with a surprised plop I did. "We've one more bit of business."
I did not care for the shrewd gleam in her eye.
She stood, walked to the front of the desk, and picked up the Sorting Hat.
"Oh, Good God, Headmistress, we've been through this once already --"
"I know what I said to Fudge. I lied. I've worked with this Hat long enough to know it has its own agenda, and that Albus wasn't above persuading it to see things his way. And now that I know of Albus' suspicions, I'm very curious as to what it will really say."
I shot a desperate look to Snape and Moody, appealing for backup.
"Don't look at me," Moody said with a chuckle. "I don't know about Severus but if anyone wants to know more than she does, lass, it's me."
"Oh, cripes," I swore. "Give me the damned thing." I took it with ill grace and pulled it back on.
"Couldn't resist, could she?"
Oh, please -- I'm exhausted. Can we get this over with?
"She's not as patient as Albus -- neither are you, for that matter."
I swear to you, any second now I'm going to rip you off and --
"All right, all right. I'd decided the first time, you know. Here it is."
It cleared its throat and admitted with embarassment, "I cannot Sort her into Hogwarts."
"What?!" McGonagall said indignantly.
"Are you deaf, woman? Blame Gryffindor, not me. I cannot place her."
"But," it whispered evilly in my ear, "I think I know which House you'll be dealing with in future... shall I tell her?"
Don't -- you -- dare.
"So she really has no magic?" McGonagall sounded disappointed.
"None the Founders recognised."
"Oh, very well," McGonagall said irritably. "You could simply have said so, there was no need to antagonise Minister Fudge. Off with it, my dear."
But as I went to lift it from my head, it whispered "Dúnadheach."
"My apologies, Miranda. I know that wasn't fair, but...." McGonagall pinked up at her own audacity, and carefully replaced the Hat on its shelf. "At any rate you do look done in, and Severus and I have work to discuss. Alastor, would you escort her to the Infirmary? Perhaps you'd better floo. Have a good rest, my dear." She charmed the fireplace into being, and Moody helped me over to it and flooed me through the flames directly into the private ward.
"Come on, lass, let's get you tucked in before Pomfrey has time to fuss at you." He settled me gently in the bed, and clumsily knelt to help me off with my shoes. "Just give me a moment, here," he muttered as he pulled out his wand and flicked it at me --
-- and I was back in my Infirmary gown.
"Alastor!" I gasped indignantly.
"Merlin's beard, lass -- I did it in one! Think I'd take advantage of you, do you?" He scowled, and then gave me a cheeky leer.
"You were quite the ladies' man, weren't you Alastor?" I teased him as he tucked me in.
"Was, lass? Still am. Rough around the edges -- but always a gentleman," he said loftily. "Now," he demanded, drawing a chair over and sitting, "tell me what it said."
"You know what I mean," he growled, propping his elbows on the edge of the bed. "Gave you a little surprise there at the very end, just before you took it off, didn't it? Come on, I won't tell the others."
I stared at him appraisingly: I really didn't expect him to recognise the name. "Dúnadheach," I finally allowed.
He stared at me, speechless, and then chortled. "The healer? You know what this means, don't you?"
"You've got a longer pedigree that most of those blithering idiots, that's what."
"Oh, Alastor, come on --"
"I'm serious. 'I'm Gryffindor's third cousin 25 times removed,' 'I'm a bloody heir of Slytherin.'" He snorted. "Knickers in a twist because they can go back a paltry thousand years, and you've got them beat -- by miles."
"Firstly, everyone's entitled to pride in their heritage. And secondly, it's undocumented and unprovable -- it's a myth, not to mention likely untrue. The sodding thing probably lied, like everyone else in that room today."
"I'm telling you, lass, that thing was ancient when Godric Gryffindor found it. It hasn't been a hat forever, you know, and it's got more skills than sorting First Years so anxious they're about to piss themselves."
"It's a great psychologist, I'll give you that -- and it still doesn't matter. Even if there is Druid blood in me, that doesn't make me magical. You do realise," I switched topic, determined to distract him, "that I've probably damaged your chances of proving your theory? If Fudge gets wind of what really happened --"
Moody let out an expletive describing exactly what Fudge could do to himself with certain portions of his anatomy.
"I'm not the publishing type, in any case," he added more reasonably. "And I'm twenty years younger than Fudge, I plan to outlive the bastard. Plenty of time to work on it when I retire for good -- if teaching doesn't kill me first."
"Are you coming back next year? I thought you were just --"
"If Minerva wants me back, I'll be here. Albus made me promise to stick around for a bit should the worst happen." He shifted uncomfortably. "Er... that brings up another point. There'll be some things waiting for you in your rooms, from Albus -- I put 'em there. I'm Albus' executor."
That was surprising -- the "things," not Moody being executor. I knew they had a history together over the Grindelwald business, and made a mental note to ask him about it someday. "I knew he was fond of me, but...." I murmured, and then shot Moody a suspicious look. "There's nothing you're not telling me, is there? No secrets about my paternity or --"
"No, lass," he said with a laugh. "Albus was a Devon lad, and the family's been there for generations -- not that Albus wasn't a rover and a scamp in his youth, but... you're more likely to be related to me than him."
My mouth dropped.
"The Dàl Riada connection, you see. I'm an Uí Neill on my mother's side away back. That makes Minerva and me distant cousins of some sort, though I don't know how -- her side of the family was leery of mine."
"I wonder why," I murmured wryly, and he laughed again.
Poppy stuck her head in the door. "There you are," she scolded me. "Molly's been out looking for you. Out you go, Professor Moody, she needs her sleep."
With a guilty look and a pat of my hand, he was off.
"That one will talk the hind leg off a donkey, once he trusts you," she grumbled as she straightened the coverlet and thrust a Dreamless Sleep Draught into my hands. "Drink that down, now, you need a good sleep tonight."
"Doesn't this constitute illegal experimenta--" I started to tease her.
"You," she cut me off, "are definitely improving. If it hasn't hurt you yet, it's not going to now. If you behave yourself tomorrow, I think you can go home next day."
I did what one does when an irate Infirmarian is obliquely threatening one with enforced hospitalisation: I drank, and then slept.
Back to BNW Index
'Angels and ministers of grace, defend us': Hamlet. I think. I'm sure, actually. I just don't want, at the moment, to drag my bum up to consult my Complete Shakespeare for the Act and Scene. Bad, bad Author.
'Prior Incantato': according to the HP Lexicon, this is the correct incantation to determine what spells a wand has performed: Priori Incantatem is when two wands sharing an identical core are forced to duel.
'Apoplexy': a stroke, more or less. Sorry, but I've always wanted to use 'apoplexy' in a sentence.
'Dúnadheach': a Druid healer to the court of the princess Doireann; cures a wounded Conall Gulban (son of Niall of the Nine Hostages and founder of Tír Chonaill, present County Donegal). The Annals state that Conall died 464/5 AD, so we can assume that Dúnadheach lived and procreated sometime in the 5th century AD. If we assume the Founders were active circa 900 AD, that gives Miranda an approximate 500-year advantage over those Wizards who trace their magical lineage directly to one of the Founders. (Not that it matters much, as she points out: she is definitely a Muggle. I think we have to assume that Moody's theory is correct, and that in some areas the line between Muggle and Magical skills is far less absolute than anyone assumes.)
See Book 2 Chapter Seven Footnotes for some possible explanations for the genetic/physiological differences between Muggle and Wizard.
Now, what does the Hat mean by "None the Founders recognised"? It could mean that MH is indeed magical, but I think it means from a tradition (i.e., Druidic) that the Founders did not deem "proper" magic -- see my earlier maunderings about the roots of "modern" magic as taught at Hogwarts. (And the part of MH which is sensitive toward ethnocentrism on the part of others probably bristles at that thought.) However, I suspect the Hat merely means that due to her ethnic heritage, and possibly an actual, very dilute blood tie, she has Druid blood -- but that does not of necessity make her magical, not by the WW's definition.
'Dàl Riada': exodus of Celts from the Irish mainland to Scotland (then known as Caledonia), particularly to the area around Iona, which would later become a center for the early Christian church in the British Isles. See also Picts (I won't inflict the whole history lesson on you here, but it's fascinating, and similar political themes and conflicts continue to recur in the history of the British Isles today).
Uí Neill: clan commonly known today as the O'Neills. Very powerful for centuries, producing many High Kings of Tara as well as, in the Christian Era, several leaders of the Celtic Christians at Iona and elsewhere. The O'Neills only truly lost power in Ireland in the 17th Century A.D., when they were finally routed by Cromwell's forces and many fled to exile in Europe. Several of the ancient clan titles and lands were only recently reinstated in Ireland.