It’s Alive! It’s Alive!
“You must be mad!” Snape stared at the headmaster in disbelief. “You can’t seriously be thinking of taking a witch with unknown powers I might add to Hogwarts!”
“I’m afraid I am.” Dumbledore replied calmly. “She refuses to even consider the idea allowing Mr. Potter to attend Hogwarts unless she has seen the school first. Nothing I said would change her mind.”
Snape stared at the petite red head across the room putting some things into a shapeless bag, stunned. He’d never thought he would live to see the day that someone who was not a politician out-manoeuvre Albus Dumbledore and even those politicians, Snape suspected, hadn’t gotten the best of him because he’d merely gone around them to get what he wanted anyway. He was also fairly certain that the only reason Dumbledore had given in was because the child in question was Harry Potter. If it had been any other witch or wizard who had made this request and was refusing to allow their child to go, he was certain the Headmaster would have refused the request without another word. It was clear that Dumbledore was determined to have Potter at Hogwarts and would do whatever it took to get him there. He sighed at the favouritism and knew that it would only get worse once Potter was at Hogwarts.
“Are you ready to go, Mrs. Talbot?” Dumbledore wanted to know.
“I am.” She joined the waiting pair of wizards.
“I have taken the liberty of making a return portkey out of one of your crystals.” Dumbledore held up a large piece of double-terminated quartz crystal. “This will allow you to return here once we are done. All you will need to do is hold it in your hand and say ‘home’.”
Megan could tell from the expression on Dumbledore’s face that he was expecting her to ask what a portkey was, but she didn’t oblige him. From the very words she assumed that it was a spell tied to an object that allowed you to teleport from one place to another, instead of using the spell itself. While she didn’t say anything, she thought the method was rather inefficient. After all what happened if you lost the portkey?
Dumbledore had had arranged for the portkey to deposit them at the edge of the lake with a full view of the castle.
“Welcome to Hogwarts, Mrs. Talbot.”
Megan was impressed with the sprawling castle and the countryside surrounding it, but what took her breath away was the huge pool of power she could feel pulsing beneath her feet. The ability to work earth magic that she had gotten from her mother enabled her to feel the ley lines and locate the nodes that were used to work the more powerful magick's but she could honestly say that she had never felt so much power pooled in one place before. She couldn’t help wondering what such a large node of magic was being used for, not to mention how they managed to keep evil magic users and demons who would’ve loved to get their hands on that much raw magical power away from it.
Snape spoke up before Megan could say anything. “If you two will excuse me, I have potions I need to make for the hospital wing.”
“Of course, Severus,” Dumbledore nodded.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Professor Snape,” Megan told the Potions teacher before he left. “Maybe we will meet again.”
“Madame,” Snape nodded slightly in her direction before stalking off.
“If you will please come with me, Mrs. Talbot we can get this tour under way, so that you will see this is the best magical school for Mr. Potter to attend.” Dumbledore led the way to the school’s main entrance.
Megan followed all of her senses on the alert. While she was fairly certain that Dumbledore himself wouldn’t do anything obvious to force her compliance, that wouldn’t prevent someone else from doing it on his behalf, so that she would agree to Josh’s coming here.
As they stepped through the double doors to the entry hall, Megan softly muttered, “Powers above and below, protect me, mind body and soul, so that I return home safe and whole.”
/Who works the old magick?/ A female voice whispered in Megan’s head.
Megan barely restrained her gasp of surprise as she pretended to study the entrance hall. She wasn’t a telepath. She was an empath. How could someone be talking in her head? Her empathic gift was telling her the unseen speaker wasn’t any threat to her, but she couldn’t find them and it was proving very frustrating.
“Headmaster!” A woman’s voice called from the top of the stairway. Megan knew this wasn’t the one who had spoken in her head, because her speaking voice wasn’t even close to that mental voice. The mental one had sounded younger as if it belonged to a young person, but not a child.
“Headmaster,” the woman called again as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “Minister Fudge is waiting for you in your office. He said it was important that he speak with you.”
Dumbledore sighed and turned to Megan,” “I’m afraid that our tour is going to be delayed. I must meet with the Minister of Magic and see what he wants.”
“Is there anyone else who could give me the tour?” Megan wanted to know. “I don’t want to take up any more of your time than is necessary. Not to mention the fact that I do have other things I need to do today as well.”
Dumbledore inwardly cursed Cornelius for his bad timing. He had wanted to give this witch the tour himself, because he needed to be able to gauge her reactions to the school. “I believe that Professor McGonagall who is the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts should be able to give you the tour you want and answer any questions you may have about the classes. Give me a few moments to speak with her.”
/Who are you?/ The unseen speaker was back.
/Megan Talbot,/ She thought back. /Who are you?/
/I am Hogwarts,/ the voice told her proudly. /Are you a follower of the greenway?/
Megan wasn’t sure how to answer. /I am Wiccan if that’s what you mean./
/You follow the way of life magic?/ Hogwarts persisted trying to identify what she was. /The last time we had a follower of the greenway here and I spoke with them, they told me their primary belief was to harm none wherever and whenever possible, unless in defence of self or another. She was one who believed in the balance of light and dark within and that there couldn’t be one without the other./
It was a fairly simple way of defining the Wiccan beliefs but it was accurate enough. Megan told the castle, /By that definition then yes, I am a follower of the greenway./
/Are you here to teach?/ Hogwarts asked eagerly. /I’ve missed having someone to talk to. No one can really hear me any more. Well, except for the headmaster and he can’t really hear me all that well. Not to mention that they really need someone to teach the other ways to do magic. They’ve lost and forgotten so much./
/I’m afraid not,/ Megan told the castle. /I’m here to see if I will be sending my son here in the fall./
/And will he be coming here?/ Hogwarts asked eagerly.
/I don’t know,/ Megan admitted. /There are a number of things that have to be resolved before I will consider it and if he does come it will not be under the name they want him to be known by./
“Mrs. Talbot,” Professor McGonagall tapped Megan on the shoulder, pulling her out of her conversation with the castle. Then gasped as she got her first good look at this witch’s face.
“You know you’re the third person to react as if you were seeing a ghost when you look at me,” Megan said tiredly. “Just who is it I look like? It must be someone dead for you to have this strong a reaction.”
McGonagall hated being taken by surprise, but answered the woman’s question, since she had the right to know. “You look a great deal like one of my ex-students. There are a few minor differences, but you look enough like her to be her twin. She was one of my favourite students and a good friend after she graduated. Her name was Lily Evans Potter and she died October 31, 1980.”
Megan nodded, wondering why she was not surprised by this news. “Shall we get on with the tour? I’m sure you have things you need to do as do I.”
McGonagall nodded and led the way to the Great Hall. She had expected more questions regarding the dead woman she looked like, but none were forthcoming. “This is the Great Hall. All students take their meals here as well as other things.”
Megan studied the ceiling that at the moment was reflecting a cloudless sky.
“That is charmed to reflect the sky outside.” McGonagall told her.
Megan nodded without comment and turned her attention to the banners over the four tables. “What is the significance of the banners?”
“Each banner represents one of the four houses in Hogwarts. Gryffindor,” Megan could hear the pride in the Deputy Headmistress’ voice at the mention of that house, “Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Upon their arrival the first year students are sorted into one of the four houses. The house becomes like their family here. Their achievements will earn their house points, while rule breaking will get them removed.”
“Upon what is this segregation based and who is the final arbiter?” Megan wanted to know. McGonagall missed hearing the note of disapproval in Megan’s voice, but the castle caught it.
/You disapprove?/ Hogwarts asked. /The students have been placed in their houses this way for centuries./
/I disapprove of forcing a child into a mould they may not fit./ Megan told it. /If for some reason a child’s personality changes so they no longer fit the house they were placed in, they may have no way to change to one that suits them better./
/But they do./ Hogwarts told her. /It hasn’t been done in several hundred years, but a student can request a resorting, if they feel they no longer belong to the house they were sorted into./
Unaware of the conversation going on between Megan and Hogwarts, McGonagall told her, “The Sorting is done by the Sorting Hat. The students are Sorted based on their primary personality characteristics. Gryffindor is for the brave; Ravenclaw is for the wise or studious; Hufflepuff is for those who are hardworking but do not usually seek fame and Slytherin is for those who are cunning.”
“You keep mentioning Slytherin last, is there a reason for that?”
McGonagall hesitated a moment before telling her. “Slytherin house has a reputation for producing Dark Wizards and witches. It is where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named recruited most of his followers from. The house is also made up primarily of Pure Bloods and maybe a few half-bloods which makes it one of the smaller Houses. There hasn’t been a muggle-born sorted into that House in several centuries. I think the Sorting Hat knows it would be too dangerous for them. The pure bloods that make up Slytherin house, both former and current believe that purity of Blood matters above all else.”
“Oh… bigots,” Megan nodded in understanding, then as she turned to leave the Great Hall she added, “If these pure bloods practice what they preach, then genetics will take care of the problem for you.”
/Genetics?/ “Genetics?” Hogwarts and McGonagall asked at the same time. Neither of whom had heard the term before.
“Genetics.” Megan repeated and at the blank look on McGonagall’s face asked, “Don’t you know about genetics?”
/No./ “I’ve never heard the term before,” McGonagall told her stiffly.
“Don’t you teach the Physical Sciences here?” Megan asked. “You know Biology, Chemistry, Physics and that sort of thing.”
“I’ve never heard of those classes before either.” McGonagall felt like she was on the defensive and didn’t like it at all.
“Have you got a chalkboard and chalk? Because while I could explain the basics, it probably won’t make sense to you without a visual aid, since you don’t have the frame of reference needed to understand what I’m talking about.” Megan told McGonagall and Hogwarts.
“Never mind,” McGonagall told her. “Just answer me one question. Is this genetics a muggle thing?”
“Muggle?” Megan appeared baffled for a moment then said, “No, it’s a human thing, though those who can not use magic have made a very intensive study of it. They’ve even started mapping our genetic makeup to try and see if they can come up with ways to prevent or eradicate diseases.”
“So it is a muggle thing, I thought so.” McGonagall concluded, leading her to the Gryffindor dorms. “These are the Gryffindor dorms. The rooms for the boys are up the left hand stairs and the ones for the girls are on the right.”
“Whoever designed these rooms certainly had a thing for red didn’t they.” Megan commented after looking into the boys dorm area.
“Godric Gryffindor’s colours were scarlet and gold.” McGonagall took the comment as an insult to her house.
“That doesn’t change the fact that the red is a bit overdone.” Megan countered. “What’s next?”
/Do you really not like the dorms?/ Hogwarts wanted to know.
/They look fine,/ Megan assured the castle. /There is just something about this woman that makes me want to tweak her tail to get a reaction./
/Well, you certainly are doing that,/ Hogwarts observed. /Did you know that sometimes she does indeed have a tail to tweak?/
/She does? Is she a demon?/ Megan wanted to know.
/That depends on who you ask./ Hogwarts commented mischievously, /but if you mean a real demon then no. She is an animagus and her form is that of a cat./
/Oh really!/ Megan made a mental note to ask the cats that lived near her home if they could detect humans pretending to be cats. She knew the truth spell she had cast shortly after midnight would keep anyone she asked a question from remembering they had even spoken to her or Josh, but it was always possible if she did send Josh to this strange school that at some point that they would realise that he had been born Harry Potter.
As McGonagall led the way to the classrooms, Megan asked, “Professor, why among the required supplies, do you have parchment, quills, and ink? Why don’t you simply use ballpoint pens and spiral notebooks? I would think those would be a lot easier to carry around, not to mention a lot less messy.”
“Those are the standard supplies for Hogwarts or any other magical school in Europe. They have been used for centuries.” McGonagall was beginning to get annoyed with this woman’s questioning the way things were done.
“Just because it’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do them now.” Megan pointed out. “A spiral notebook would make it easier for students to keep track of their notes for classes and I would think that the note taking would be easier with a ballpoint pen since there would be less splotches on the paper.”
“Mrs. Talbot,” McGonagall told her through clenched teeth. “Hogwarts is a school steeped in tradition and with a long history of turning out quality witches and wizards, using our current methods. We have no reason to change the way we teach since it works best for us.”
“That may be so, Professor McGonagall, but if people become too hidebound, there is no growth and that leads to stagnation and eventual death. Nothing stays the same forever, no matter how much we might wish it would. Growth and change are a normal part of life,” Megan pointed out. “Surely you know that without growth spiritual or otherwise there is only death.”
“Death?” A slightly hollow sounding voice echoed, then asked, “Has someone seen a death?”
/Oh great, the dingbat has come down out of her tower./ Hogwarts commented grumpily. /I should have been paying more attention cause I would have kept her away from you./
/Who is she?/ Megan asked as she caught sight of a woman draped in shawls and looking like the worst sort of gypsy fortune teller.
/Sybil Trelawney,/ Hogwarts sighed. /She teaches divination to third year and above students. Her favourite parlour trick is to pick one student and predict their death in all sorts of horrible ways./
/Does she really have the gift of premonition or prophecy?/
/I’ve only heard her give one prophecy about nine years ago that sounded different from her usual rot and she never remembered it afterward./ Hogwarts told her. /No one else heard it either./
“No, Sybil,” McGonagall sounded exasperated. “No one has seen a death today, not even you. Why have you left your tower?”
“I felt the vibrations of a strange presence within the castle and was prompted by Fate to come investigate.” Sybil looked Megan over. “You are the strange presence I felt. You bring great change with you. Though for good or ill I can not tell.”
“I hope it is a good change, though change is not always appreciated,” Megan told her with a glance at McGonagall. “Are you a teacher here?”
“Yes I am,” Sybil seemed pleased by the question. “I teach the often misunderstood art of divination. I teach students who have the gift of the inner eye how to pierce the veil and see the past as well as the future.”
“A weighty gift indeed,” Megan told her. “Be sure to exercise it with care though, I once knew someone who did not. She would not tell the whole truth when she had true visions and made up things when she saw nothing . Her gift drove her mad in retribution for her abuse of it.”
Sybil stared at her, her mouth open. Then she started backing away as if she were afraid Megan’s words would bring that fate down on her.
/Oh very good!/ Hogwarts congratulated her. /I don’t think it ever occurred to Sybil Trelawney that her gift might bite back because she was abusing it and pretending to see things she didn’t. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work for her all that well./
“Was that a true story?” McGonagall asked, hiding a smile at Sybil’s rapid retreat.
“Partly,” Megan admitted. “A friend of mine had a gift for seeing the past and future that was so strong, she literally got lost in her visions and couldn’t separate them from reality. Having the gift of visions is not an easy one to bear, especially if you can’t control it.”
The next part of the tour proved to be very frustrating to Professor McGonagall. She was used to visitors being impressed with Hogwarts, especially if they had never attended the school, but no matter what she showed Mrs. Talbot it failed to impress her. She also usually found some minor flaw in it as well.
Finally when they were in the library and Mrs. Talbot noted that they had no books on muggle subjects in addition to the magical ones, McGonagall finally asked, “Madame, since you find this school so lacking in what you consider essential, why are you even considering sending your son here? Why not send him to the same magical school that you went to, since you obviously believe it to be superior?”
“I would do so Professor, if I had ever actually gone to a magical school.” Megan countered as she left the library. “I went to a regular school and then university where I got a degree in computer programming. My father taught me how to used my magical gifts at home the way it has been done in my family for centuries. As for why I am considering your school, it is because you may be able to teach Josh things I could not. However I am beginning to reconsider that idea because I want my son to have a balanced education so that no matter where he chooses to live he will be able to earn a living. Your educational program seems to be lop-sided in what it teaches. You only teach about magic and none of the practical courses like history, math, the sciences, or any other courses a person might need if they chose or for whatever reason have to live and work outside the magical enclaves your headmaster mentioned to me.”
McGonagall could say nothing to counter this, because she knew that a small number of the muggle-borns left the wizarding world soon after graduation, due to their inability to get a job in it and the wizarding world had to bear the cost of their re-education so they could at least enter university so they stood a chance of getting a job in the muggle world. The problem was that even if the pure bloods wouldn’t raise a big stink about the muggle classes, there was no reason to teach those kinds of courses at Hogwarts when only a fraction of the students ever left the magical world once they entered it and so there would be no interest in them. The lure of being able to do magic usually outweighed how a muggle-born felt about the type of job they wound up doing.
“Is there anything else you feel I need to see, before you return me to the Headmaster?” Megan asked when they reached the entry hall.
“Other than the green houses which are currently closed so our Herbology teacher Professor Sprout can remove some pests, no. You have seen those portions of the castle that a student will be able to get access to.” McGonagall told her after a few moment’s thought.
“Then I think I am ready to speak with the Headmaster.” Megan told her.
McGonagall entered Dumbledore’s office at his invitation and expected to find him alone, but Minister Fudge was still with him.
“Dumbledore we need to locate him!” Fudge was sounding anxious. “The Daily Prophet will have a field day if they find out he has been missing this long and we have kept it from them.”
“Cornelius,” Dumbledore’s tone was reassuring as he glanced quickly at Megan who had come in behind Professor McGonagall. “His name is still on the rolls for students who will be attending this year, so it is possible he will be here, but just under a different name. He will be recognisable though, because that scar of his can not be hidden.”
“There has to be something you can do to locate him before then.” Cornelius stated pompously.
“I’m afraid not,” Dumbledore told him. “We tried all available methods for locating him when he first vanished and they turned up nothing. I have a feeling they would still turn up nothing even if we were to try them again. Now if you will excuse me, Cornelius, I have some business to finish with up with this lady.”
The Minister jammed his lime green pin-striped bowler hat on his head and stormed out of the office.
As she took a seat, Megan commented, “It’s nice to see that politicians seem to want to pass the blame around no matter what office they may occupy.”
“Minister Fudge serves our people well.” Dumbledore countered dryly.
Megan shrugged, “if you say so.”
“Shall we get down to business?” Dumbledore asked
“Of course,” Megan agreed, then glanced at McGonagall.
Dumbledore was quick to realise that she didn’t want the Deputy Headmistress included in these discussions. “Minerva, I want to thank you for showing Mrs. Talbot around. I will take it from here, after all you do have things to do before the start of term after all.”
McGonagall sniffed and stalked out. Megan was willing to swear that if she had been in the cat form Hogwarts told her about, her tail would have been lashing quickly back and forth as evidence of her displeasure.
“Well, now that you have seen Hogwarts, I’m sure you will agree this is the best place for Harry Potter to receive his magical education. As well as the safest.” Dumbledore began. “Not to mention that we do have a reputation of providing the very best magical education.”
/Harry Potter is your son?/ Hogwarts couldn’t believe what she was hearing. There had been lots of discussion among the teachers about him over the last few months.
/His name is Joshua Alexander Talbot./ Megan told Hogwarts. /He may have been born Harry Potter, but he chose to keep my name. Dumbledore keeps insisting on calling him Harry Potter which is one of the reasons, I am considering not allowing Josh to come here. I gather that Harry Potter is a somewhat famous name and the headmaster was forced to give me the bare bones of why. I do not intend to allow my son to be practically worshipped for something he a) can’t remember and b) may not have done to this Voldemort./
/The only one in the wizarding world who calls him Voldemort is Dumbledore. Everyone else calls him things like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and You-know-Who./ Hogwarts told her.
/You’ve got to be kidding me!/ Megan was certain it was a joke. /They’re afraid to say the name of their enemy! They’ve willingly given him that much power over them, even though he is either dead or powerless right now./
/I’m afraid so./
Unaware of the conversation going on between Megan and Hogwarts, Dumbledore asked, “Mrs. Talbot, are you going to allow Harry Potter to attend Hogwarts?”
“No, Harry Potter will not be attending Hogwarts.” Megan didn’t elaborate.
Dumbledore didn’t bother to hide his shock. “Why not?’
“There are several reasons like; while the magical education you provide may be one of the best, I say may because I’m not in any position to judge that, you offer no courses for any students who may desire a life outside your magical enclaves.” Megan told him. “Courses like history of the country you live in, math and the physical sciences like chemistry, biology, and engineering, among other things.”
Dumbledore smiled. “Once a child enters the magical world they rarely want to leave it and therefore we see no reason to teach our students about them. We do offer a class on muggles that is taught from third year on and is generally enough to help a wizard get by in the muggle world when they have to go into it.”
“Really!” Megan drew the word out. “Then try answering these questions for me Headmaster. What is meant by the term ‘genetics’? Your Deputy Headmistress didn’t know the answer to that and it is a very important issue in the non-magical world right now and you may start to find that it’s affecting your own people, especially the pure bloods. Name three dangerous chemical compounds that can kill if inhaled? At least one has made the news in several countries as a favourite weapon of terrorists. What Union is Great Britain currently thinking about becoming a member of? And last but not least, what is the major construction project currently being carried out by Britain and France that is to connect the two countries?”
Dumbledore stared at her in amazement. She expected him to answer questions on current events in the muggle world? “I fail to see what my being able to answer these questions has to do with Harry Potter attending Hogwarts.”
“Thank you for proving my point,” Megan smiled. “Professor McGonagall showed me the section of the library devoted to what are called muggle studies, but the books I looked at all appear to be written from the wizarding world’s point of view and are full of inaccuracies not to mention what information is accurate is at least sixty to seventy years out of date. If those are what you are using to teach young witches and wizards about those who can not work magic, it is no wonder they have problems when they leave the magical enclaves, unless they came from families that couldn’t work magic in the first place.”
Deciding to get the discussion back on track, Dumbledore asked, “You said there were other reasons. What are they?”
Megan’s face took on a solemn expression. “Because I have no real desire for my son to become an object of veneration if not outright worship. And I don’t trust you to take proper care of my son, considering the decisions you have previously made regarding him. You want him under your control and I am going to deny you access to him.”
“While Harry Potter is viewed as a hero, I sincerely doubt that he would be viewed as an object of veneration. And definitely not as an object of worship.” Dumbledore disagreed. “And I do not intend any harm to come to Mr. Potter. He is very important to me and to the whole of the wizarding world. We need him here.”
“Please Dumbledore, I’m not stupid, please don’t treat me as if I am.” Megan held up her hand and began counting off points on it. “One: You have adults so afraid of the local villain they won’t even say his name, calling him something stupid like He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named. And even after said villain tries to kill an infant, fails, and hasn’t been seen since that attempt, the adults are still afraid to use his name and have probably passed this fear of his name on to their children. Two: These self same adults and their children, who are so afraid to say the bad guy’s name, are going to regard the now school age child who got rid of him as somehow larger than life and will treat him as if he were a rock star or as someone worthy of sainthood and their personal worker of miracles. And if for some reason he fails to live up to their unrealistic expectations of what he should be they will try and rip him to shreds. Three: As for your need and the wizarding world’s need, I don’t trust any of you so you all can go hang. It’s what my son needs that matters. And finally four: I will say it again; Harry Potter is not going to Hogwarts.”
Before Dumbledore could say anything further, Megan pulled the quartz crystal portkey out of her pocket and said, “home.”
“Mum!” Josh called out in surprise when his mother suddenly appeared in the middle of their sitting room.
“An interesting method of travel,” Megan commented absently, “but I don’t think I would like to do it too often.”
Curious Josh asked, “What kind of travel?”
“Dumbledore called it a portkey. They are apparently able to use their magic to turn an ordinary object like this,” She held up the double-terminated quartz crystal, “into something that will teleport you to a preset location. This just brought me back from Hogwarts.”
“What was Hogwarts like?” Josh didn’t bother trying to hide his interest.
“Interesting is the best word to describe it,” his mother told him after a moment’s thought. “Hogwarts is alive, or at the very least it’s sentient, though I doubt those who work there are aware of it. The castle sounded lonely and she kept putting in her own two pence about the things the Deputy Headmistress was showing me on out tour.”
From the smile on his mother’s face, Josh was willing to bet that some of the castle’s comments had been pithy and unexpected.
“Am I going to Hogwarts?” Josh asked.
“That has yet to be decided and it will be the two of us making the decision, not just me.” His mother told him. “There were a lot of things that I learned from this Dumbledore that didn’t make me happy. The problem is there are probably a few things I missed getting information on, because I didn’t know I needed to ask the questions. And I can’t ask them of him now, even if I knew how to get back to Hogwarts because I might not make it back in time.”
“When does the Truth spell wear off?” Josh asked.
“A few minutes after midnight,” there was definite smirk on his mother’s face as she contemplated the fact that no one she had spoken to at Hogwarts would even remember meeting her. And Professor Snape wouldn’t remember meeting Josh or that he was in fact Harry Potter. Nor would any of them be aware that they had lost any time.
“What did you find out?” Josh sat down on the couch.
Megan proceeded to give her son all the information she had gathered from Dumbledore and about the school itself, including the prophecy that might or might not be referring to him. She had never been one to shelter her son from the bad that happened in the world. It was her opinion that knowing about the evil that people could do made him more able to defend himself and others against it when needed.
After explaining the shortcomings of the classes taught at Hogwarts, Megan told him, “If you do go to Hogwarts, we will have to come up with a cover story for your friends about where you are going, not to mention why you suddenly decided to go there instead of to Jermyn’s private academy, because I doubt that non-magical mail goes to that school. Not to mention that you will not see them for at least nine or ten months.”
Josh’s face took on a thoughtful look, “Do I really have to go?”
“I would say no, but they may have some way to try and force you to go.” Megan looked equally thoughtful. “They don’t want those who can’t work magic to know that magic exists, even though the only form of magic they seem to know about is the wanded kind. Also, at least right now, Dumbledore knows you are Harry Potter and while he doesn’t know that he won’t remember after tomorrow, I am willing to bet just about any amount of money he is working on a way to try and convince you to come over the objections I gave him. Dumbledore thinks you are the one spoken of in this prophecy of his, though if this Voldemort is really gone then you’ve already fulfilled it. If he isn’t then if Dumbledore finds out your birth name is Harry Potter, he will try to manipulate you into the mould he wants you to fit, using your lack of knowledge about the magical world to manipulate you. They want Harry Potter there and they aren’t going to take no for an answer. That may be the case for any child capable of working their form of magic.”
Josh nodded his head in understanding. “I think we need to see one of these enclaves, before we make a final decision. We also need more information on their kind of magic and whether or not they would force a child who doesn’t want to go to their schools to go.”
His mother nodded. “I was planning on us going to London tomorrow to check one of them out. McGonagall told me how to access Diagon Alley which is one of the main magical enclaves for the wizarding world in Britain. She also told me they have a different system of money there.”
Josh’s eyes widened at the thought of entering a previously unknown world.
“As for the other item,” Megan added. “I think we need to speak with one of your parents. They should know if the wizards have some way to force reluctant students to agree to come to school. Given they are no longer in this world, they will have no agenda regarding what happens to you either in or out of the wizarding world, other than maybe a desire to see you are happy.”
“I thought you said the best time to call them was at Samhain?” Josh reminded her.
“It is,” she agreed, “because then they could stay longer, but we can’t afford to wait. We have to have a decision for the staff at Hogwarts by tomorrow.”
“Which one are we going to summon?” Josh wanted to know.
“I think we should try for your birth mother, Lily Potter.”
After dinner, Josh and his mother went up to the attic to do the spirit calling spell. His mother had explained to him that since she wasn’t related by blood to Lily Potter she wouldn’t be able to do the spell as effectively as he would.
Once the candles and crystals were laid out in their proper pattern, Josh stood near the candle on the western side of the circle and focusing all his thoughts on the name ‘Lily Potter’ chanted:
Hear me now,
Hear my cry,
Spirit from the other side,
Cross now the great divide.
There was no immediate response, so following his mother’s previous instructions, he repeated the chant several more times.
After the seventh repetition of the spell, the ghostly image of a woman who resembled his mother appeared within the circle of light created by the crystals and candles.
As her image became clearer, Josh stood staring at her in amazement. Even though his mother had warned him that the wizards saw a huge resemblance between her and his dead mother, he doubted that even she had expected this close a resemblance. Lily Potter looked like his mum’s identical twin.
"Where am I? How did I get here?" Josh was grateful her voice sounded very different from his mum’s otherwise it would have been just too weird. He looked over at his mum, whom he could barely see on the far side of their ritual room and realised she was just as surprised by Lily’s appearance. After all what were the odds of two women who looked like identical twins being his mother? They were so slim as to be impossible. He couldn’t help wondering what was going through his mum’s mind as he stared at her ghostly twin.
Lily looked around the attic before settling her attention on Josh. He looked like a child and was the only one she could clearly see in the shadow-filled room. "You look like a younger James, but that’s impossible. Deaging potions won’t work on him any more. Who are you?”
Looking into the deeply shadowed area outside the circle of candlelight, Lily called, “James, if you got one of your friends to participate in one of your stupid pranks, you’re going be sleeping on the couch…. in the shed…. for a week."
“This isn’t a prank.” Josh told her. “I was born Harry Potter. And according to what I’ve been told you’re my mother.”
"You're..." Lily covered her mouth with her trembling fingers, "…my baby?… Harry?" she said softy her eyes growing moist with tears.
Josh nodded as Lily Potter stared at him with tears streaming down her ghostly face and a look of such longing. She moved toward the edge of the circle, her hand extended. “I never thought I would see you again.”
Not knowing how Lily would react to seeing someone who appeared to be her identical twin and not wanting to set her off before they got the answers they needed about whether or not the wizarding world had a way to compel a child to go to a magical school, Megan spoke up from the shadows near the bookcases that lined the walls. “Lily Potter don’t step past the edge of the circle of candles or you will return to the other side, where you came from. The spell that was used to bring you here is also what is allowing you to remain here, but only so long as you don’t leave the circle of light.”
The corners of Lily’s mouth tightened in annoyance at being ordered about by someone she couldn’t see and who seemed to want to keep her from her son. Lily glanced over into the shadows where the woman’s voice had come from before turning all her attention back to her son. “Who is she? And where are we? How did you bring me here? Where are Sirius and Remus?”
Josh looked over at his mum and she nodded. “Her name is Megan Talbot, my adoptive mother….”
“You mean someone was actually crazy enough to marry Sirius!” Lily sputtered in surprise, having missed the word ‘adopted’. “I think James will faint when I tell him there’s actually a witch out there who was crazy enough to marry Sirius Black!” Lily paused and then looked back at the shadowy shape. “You are a witch, aren’t you?”
“Yes, just not your kind,” Megan told her, as she stepped closer to the circle of light, While at the same time making sure to stay in the shadows, so she didn’t spook the ghost with the fact that she was her physical twin.
“What kind of joke are you trying to pull?” Lily’s voice took on a superior tone. “There is no other kind of magic than the wizarding kind. If there were, I would have found it, when we were looking for ways to deal with You-Know-Who.”
Megan laughed. “Oh, don’t tell me you are one of those who refuses to use this Voldemort’s name. You’re dead. What harm can he do to you now?”
“I am not afraid to say his name.” Lily was stung by the implication that she was a coward. She had been in Gryffindor after all.
“Then say it,” Megan challenged her.
“Vol… Vol… V-v-v-voldemort.” Lily finally got out.
Megan clapped. “Congratulations. As for your claim that there is only one kind of magic, I think you would be surprised. There are almost as many kinds of magic as there are kinds of people on this world of ours. As proof I offer the fact that you were brought back into the land of the living from the Summerlands using a spell from my Book of Shadows coupled with your son’s desire to see you. If you don’t want to believe that, then how else do you explain your presence here? I don’t think your kind of magic can bring a spirit from the other side.”
Lily opened her mouth as if to disagree, closed it again, then opened it to laugh. “You obviously do for Sirius what I do for James. Get him to be his best. James always insisted there was good man under that pranking exterior but other than his love for Harry, but I never saw it.”
“Who are Sirius and Remus?” Josh had never heard of or met these people before, or at least he didn’t remember it if he had. “And why would you assume that my mum had to be married to this Sirius?”
“Sirius Black is your godfather and you should be living with him. And I know Remus Lupin would have come by as often as he could to see you. He and Sirius both called you their pup.” Lily couldn’t believe that he didn’t know who Sirius was. “Are you trying to tell me you have no idea who I’m talking about?”
“Nope,” Josh shook his head, “I‘ve never met anyone named Sirius Black. Nor have I met anyone named Remus Lupin.”
“How could you not have met Sirius?” Lily threw her hands up in frustration. “He was made your godfather so that if something happened to us there would be someone we trusted raising you and you are telling me that never happened! If that prank loving fool abandoned his responsibility toward you, I’ll kill him!”
“Harry, or rather Josh, is my adopted son.” Megan put in when Lily paused for breath. “I have raised him since I found him abandoned in a carpark in November of 1981. A few months ago we found out that he’d been dumped there by a family named Dursley.”
“Dursley! He was with the Dursleys! What was Harry doing with Petunia and her husband?! He should’ve been with Sirius or the Longbottoms or one of the others we chose as his guardians.” Lily spat, her desire to get a look at the woman outside the ring of candle light taking a backseat momentarily to her anger over the fact that her son had been left with her sister instead of one of the guardians chosen by his parents. “Who in their right mind would have placed my son with Petunia? All our friends knew how my sister felt about magic. They would not have let Petunia anywhere near him because she would’ve made his life hell. What idiot left Harry with Petunia’s family?”
“According to my sources, the idiot was a man named Albus Dumbledore.” Megan told her.
“Albus! Why would he do such a thing?” Lily began pacing around the confines of the circle , thinking out loud. “As a matter of fact why would he even be involved? He is not Harry’s guardian, Sirius is. He may be Headmaster of Hogwarts and head of the Wizengamot, but that doesn’t give him the right to override our wishes. The Headmaster knew my sister hated magic. I told him several times that she hated anything that didn’t fit into her idea of normality. He had to know that placing my son there would be like condemning him to hell. Why would he do that to my child?”
“When I spoke with him earlier today, I got the impression that Josh’s treatment at the hands of your sister was the least of his worries. He told me the reason he had placed him there was because of the protection that would be afforded to Josh because they were blood kin and you had sacrificed your life to save him. He claimed that, by living with her, he would have an unbreachable protection because of your sacrifice.” Megan advised her. “He also claimed that Josh was the instrument of a prophecy and it had been proven when Voldemort vanished after trying to kill him and failing. Apparently he hasn’t been seen since the night you and your husband were killed.”
“Instrument of prophecy! What utter rubbish!” Lilly stated with conviction as she returned to her position in front of her son. “I took divination for several terms at Hogwarts and it was a complete and utter waste of time. No one can predict the future.”
“Cassandra could,” Josh put in. “She warned her brother Paris when he brought Helen to Troy that he needed to get rid of her or Troy would be in ashes and ten years later it was.”
Lily smiled pleased that her son appeared to be well read. He would do well at Hogwarts she was sure of it. “Yes, she could and her prophecies are well documented, but prophecy or not, Sirius Black is the one who should be raising you. There is no way he would have let Albus override our wishes that way. He knew Petunia loathed the magical world. There is no way Sirius would have allowed you to be left with her. I don’t understand why he didn’t stop Albus. Why would he allow the Headmaster to place our child… his godchild… with them?”
“He may not have been asked.” Megan commented.
“Not asked!” Lily didn’t bother to hide her disbelief. “Of course he would have been asked! Sirius Black is Harry’s Godfather after all. He’s the only one with the legal right to make decisions on Harry’s behalf given we are dead.”
“But if this Sirius Black were dead or incapacitated somehow, he couldn’t fulfil those duties now could he?” Megan didn’t bother pointing out that in the eyes of the law, she was now the only one who could decide what was best for josh, unless she was proven an unfit mother.
“Dead!” That was something that hadn’t occurred to Lily. Could Voldemort have attacked Sirius to make it appear as though he had broken and revealed their location, when it was really Peter who’d betrayed them to the Dark Lord? It would be like that evil creature. He seemed to glory in death and destruction “But Sirius can’t be dead. He would have somehow found a way to be with James if he were dead. Making my life Hell.”
“I merely offered that as a possibility.” Megan reminded her. “He could be in a coma, or injured in such a way that he can’t make his wishes known. Either way, if this Sirius Black loved Harry as much as you claim, I can’t see him voluntarily allowing anyone to take Harry away without a big fight.”
Lily nodded accepting the logic of that for now, but still wondered what had happened to Sirius and if Harry would ever get the chance to meet him. “Harry.” When her son didn’t respond but just continued to stare at her, she said his name again. “Harry.”
“You might want to try Josh,” Megan suggested. “It is the name he has known most of his life.”
Josh was amazed at how similar his mum’s personality was to his birth mother’s. Lily seemed to be intelligent and adapted fairly quickly to new situations such as appearing in a heavily shadowed room and meeting your son for the first time since he was a baby, not to mention being told that he wasn’t being raised by who you thought he was.
Remembering what Scilti had said when he was six about him not being mum’s ‘blood child’, he was fairly certain that if Lily Potter were related to his mum, the kinship was distant enough that the blood ties were not that easy for a serpent to detect. The idea that he was related even if distantly to Megan Talbot was pleasing because it meant that even though his mother’s sister hadn’t wanted him he was still with blood kin who did want him. Now the problem was how to convince mum to have a DNA test done to find out if it was true. He was so lost in his thoughts that it took several moments to realise someone was calling his name.
“Josh…” He looked up into the ghostly green eyes of Lily Potter. “You look like you’ve grown into a fine young man. How old are you now?”
“Ten, but I will be eleven on August 1st. Lammas.” Josh told her.
Lily looked pleased. “You should’ve received your Hogwarts letter then.”
“I did,” Josh replied.
“Are you excited about going to Hogwarts?” Lily wanted to know. “I know I was when I got my letter and the teacher came by to show me the magical world.”
“We haven’t decided if I am going ,yet.” Josh told her.
“Not going!” Lily was stunned. Her son didn’t want to go to Hogwarts! “Why wouldn’t you want to go to Hogwarts? It’s the best school for magic in Europe. It’s the school your father and I went to.”
“That maybe so,” Megan put in, “but there are a couple of reasons why it may not be the best place for Josh.”
“What reasons?” Lily wanted to know.
“Partly because the education provided in non-magical areas such as math and the sciences are sadly lacking.” Megan informed her.
“Well, given that he is living in the magical world, he doesn’t really need to know about muggle science.” Lily countered loftily. She didn’t like this woman putting down Hogwarts.
“Josh and I do not live in the magical enclaves, Lily,” Megan told her. “We live in the regular world and non-magical courses like the sciences are and will be important, if he chooses not to live in your isolated enclaves when he is older. Those non-magical classes will be necessary if he wishes to go to University or some other type of school in order to get himself a job.”
“Would you stop my son from living in the wizarding world?” Lily wanted to know. “It is his birthright after all.”
“No, but neither would I prevent him from leaving it either.” Megan pointed out. “You and those like you have isolated yourselves from the rest of humankind in those enclaves of yours, which is not a good thing. It is not healthy to ignore what is happening around you as if can’t touch you or affect your world. A nuclear explosion will take out one of your enclaves just as easily as it would… oh say… London.”
“Besides,” Josh put in, “I’m not sure I want to be away from my friends that long.”
“But honey, you’ll make new friends at Hogwarts.” Lily told him. “The kind you won’t have to hide what you are from.”
“I don’t have to hide from them now.” Josh told her. “They all know I can work magic.”
Lily turned on the woman in the shadows. “You’ve violated the Secrecy statute?”
“I told you I don’t practise your kind of magic. There is no secrecy statute involved with mine.” Megan didn’t bother telling her that it still wasn’t a good idea to work magic in front of those who weren’t aware of it, but there was no punishment since most people thought of Wicca as a religion and not people who could work magic.
Josh lay in bed in his room, unable to sleep because his mind kept going round and round in circles over the events of this evening. The meeting with Lily Potter, his birth mother had produced several surprises before coming to an agreement regarding Hogwarts. He decided to think of Megan as mum and Lily as his mother because it was the only way he was going to be able to keep them straight in his own mind.
He was still amazed even now at Lily Potter’s appearance. He knew for a fact that his mum had intended to let Lily see her, at least she had until she realised just how much they looked alike. The only reason he’d been able to come up with even now for her rapid revision of their plan was that his mum didn’t want to rouse Lily’s suspicions that this was some kind of trick.
As his mind went back over the night’s visitation, Josh realised that his birth mother wasn’t as open-minded as he had hoped she might be. He was fairly certain that the fact Lily Potter was dead had no bearing on that, because if bringing someone back into the world of the living was going to mean that they wouldn’t behave normally his mum wouldn’t have suggested brining her here from the Summerlands. From what little he had seen, she seemed to believe in only what could be proven to her. She was also very stubborn.
He still remembered how offended she had been when his mum had stated that she didn’t trust the headmaster to take proper care of him. His mother had called him a wise and honourable man, until mum had reminded her that it had been this wise and honourable man who had place her son with the Dursleys and completely ignored the Potter’s will with its list of those they considered suitable to raise their son.
He still wasn’t really sure he wanted to go to this Hogwarts, no matter how much his mother said he would love the place once he got there. A compromise had been reached however between the three of them. It had been decided that he would go to Hogwarts for one year, then if he decided he wanted to continue going to Hogwarts, he would have to finish all seven years. If he decided not to continue going there, then he would be tutored over the summer so that he would be caught up with his friends and could rejoin them at the proper grade level at Jermyns Academy the following September.
The story they were going to give Jermyns, so he wouldn’t lose his place there because of the year long absence, as well as their friends, was that that he and his mother were going to America to help Penny and the girl’s out given their mother suddenly died and that Josh would be home-schooled since they didn’t know when they would be back. Megan had admitted that once he was on his way to Hogwarts, that she intended to go over for a bit to lend Penny a hand before returning to England to do some travelling around since it would be suspicious if she returned without him.
Looking at his clock, Josh sighed and realised he needed to get some sleep or he wouldn’t enjoy his first look at a wholly magical world.