Harry, Hermione and Ron walked up to the stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the office held by the current Headmaster or Mistress, Dumbledore's office. It still triggered a pang in his heart whenever he thought of Professor Dumbledore.
Harry gave the password and waited as the gargoyle sprung to life and slowly started to revolve. Stepping onto the moving spiral staircase they were carried upwards to the polished oak door with the brass door knocker.
He lifted the handle and allowed it to fall, enjoying the loud boom sound it made.
'Come in Mr Potter, Mr Weasly, Miss Granger
Turning the handle, Harry entered the circular room followed by the others.
Harry was pleased to see it was still very much the way it always was. The room had a clutter that was comforting, the walls lined with painting of previous Headmasters and Mistresses of Hogwarts all fast asleep in their chairs. He searched quickly and found the latest addition, Albus Dumbledore, dressed in his usual robes, long white beard down to his waist. Just as his eyes moved away he saw the eyes open, deep blue with a twinkle of humour, a wink then they both closed again, his chest rising and falling in sleep.
'Come in, take a seat we do not have a lot of time'
They each took a seat in front of McGonagall's desk, Harry kept glancing up again at Dumbledore's painting hoping to catch a glimpse of the old man awake again.
The Professor watched from behind the desk, saying nothing, allowing Harry a little time with his thoughts.
'I like what you have done with the place Professor'
'Why thank you Harry, as you will see, I have kept it pretty much the same as Albus had it; a very practical man.
They all took in the room, with its bookshelves and cupboards. On one shelf sat the sorting hat, old patched and ragged reminding Harry of his first day at Hogwarts and the Sorting Ceremony. He wondered as he had before whether events would have unfolded differently had he been sorted into Slytherin House. Next to it was the glass case that held the sword of Godric Gryffindor, the large rubies in its hilt and along its silver blade catching the light from the candles that lit the room making it sparkle and shine. He remembered both the Hat and the Sword coming to his aid in the Chamber of Secrets when he slayed the Basilisk and destroyed the first horcruxes with the Basilisk fang coated in its venom. So many memories held in this room.
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat bringing Harry back to the present and the situation in hand.
'I have gathered you here to discuss the theft of the Witches' Eye. We need to make plans and preparations if we are to retrieve this artefact from the Durmstrangs.'
'If?' exclaimed Hermione,
'The witches Eye is the most important magical artefact we witches have, we cannot leave it in the hands of dark wizards!'
‘I quite agree Miss Granger but we should not underestimate what a perilous journey it will be. We have many obstacles to overcome and the danger will be immense. DurmStrang will not simply hand back the Eye because we ask for it'
'What exactly is the Eye, Professor? Queried Harry
'To most, the Witches Eye is just a clear glass lens which magnifies objects placed in front of it. To the three blind Oracles it is an immensely powerful tool to gaze into the future, they have been accredited to have predicted many events down through the ages'
'Down through the ages, just how old are these witches?' asked Ron
'The current three are very old, much older than I, but there have been many such Witches through the ages'
'And they are always blind, must make them difficult to find, a talent for Prophecy and Blind' mused Ron
'Well,' The Professor shifted uncomfortably, finding the witches with a talent for Prophecy is the hard part, and the blind part comes after.'
It took a moment for this to filter through their thoughts and as usual Hermonie was the quickest to grasp the implications.
'THAT’S barbaric!' she exclaimed 'blinded! Deliberately blinded!
Professor McGonagall held up her hand to quieten the outrage of her students.
'No one is forced any longer, not for the last century at least. The blinded spell used is a self actuated spell, meaning they conjure it themselves, no one blinds them, they blind themselves. Being one of the Three is considered quite an honour. When I was a young girl it was my hope that I would become one of the Three but my talents did not lie in Divination. Now what the Durmstrangs' didn't know, what many do not know is that the Witches Eye is in fact two parts, the Lens and the Socket'
'And the Socket is still at the Beauxbatons Academy’ Ron Interjected, his face beaming as proudly looked around the group
'Precisely Mr Weasly' sniffed Professor McGonagall, slightly miffed he had stolen the moment.
'Now as of two days ago the Durmstrangs Wizards left Beauxbatons so we will need to go there first, check that they have not returned and ensure everyone is safe before we head to the Durmstrang institute to get the Eye., besides we should visit the Oracles.
Professor McGonagall looked around the group as each one nodded their agreement with her summation.
'A small carefully chosen team will succeed where a larger one would not’ explained Professor McGonagall,
‘We’ll need to a good mix of skills and experience’
‘Who do you have in mind’ Said Harry, echoing the others thoughts.
‘Well I have given this a great deal of thought and came up with,
Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, George, Fred, Nicola, the witch from Beauxbatons, Draco and myself.
DRACO! Exploded Harry
At the same time as
Hagrid? Questioned Hermione
At the same time as
‘You?’ Exclaimed Ron, ‘aren’t you a bit.......well, old for this?
Professor McGonagall chose to answer this question first. ‘Old? OLD! I may be a little more advanced in years then you, but I am every bit as capable Mr Weasly or do you doubt my magical skills. Perhaps you would like to try your wand against mine in a duel.....
Well? No, I thought not?
Professor McGonagall sniffed, muttered ‘old indeed’ and turned to Hermione,
‘Hagrid is half giant, we will need is strength and abilities I am sure of that.’
‘But he is so kind and gentle, he cries over everything; surely this task will be too taxing for him’
‘I agree Hagrid has taken to his human side a little too sensitively but never forget he is half giant and that strength, determination and anger is still there.’
Turning last to Harry, ‘we need Draco. We will be entering Durmstrang, a school that has been training its students in the dark arts for years. Draco has had similar training and who knows what we will face once we are inside the castle. His knowledge will be invaluable and he is the best potions student we have.'
Harry looked accusingly at the Sorting Hat
The Hat stirred and came to life
'Something on your mind Potter'
'I was wondering why you invited Draco Malfoy back to Hogwarts, after all he and his family have done. They all supported Voldermort, Lucis and Draco are both death eaters, they were, are evil'
'Evil you say, evil? I sense great things in Draco, great things. He was led to the dark side but I sense good in him' explained the Hat.
'Oh please' scoffed Harry, 'next you'll be telling me He's my Father!'
'Father, Father? What are you talking about?' puzzled Professor McGonagall,
Ron was looking at Harry as if he were mad, only Hermione was laughing, both at the quip and the confused looks.
'Wizard Folk’ she said, in exactly the same perplexed tone they used when astounded by the acts of Muggles.
Now it was Harry's turn to laugh, breaking the tension. Both Hermione and Harry laughed all the harder as Professor McGonagall and Ron shared looks of amazement, clearly wondering what the joke was.
Wiping away tears, Harry caught his breath,
'God I needed that’ it had felt good, really good, to laugh again.
‘Yes, well if we can move on’ said Professor McGonagall a bit put out by their inexplicable behaviour
Still not clear what had just happened, nevertheless Professor McGonagall was pleased to see the young folk laughing again, it had been too long since she had heard that.
Professor McGonagall went on to explain that Fred and George would be providing most of the necessary supplies, one or two things they had created and their ingenious minds, not to mention having a ghost along will prove very useful and Nicola is the strongest witch Beauxbatons have in the Defence against the dark arts, Not as strong as Hermione and myself but close. Between the three of us we can tackle most things. With a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth, Professor completed her assessment with, Ron and Harry, along with Hagrid, you are the muscle.
Hermione and Fleur struggled to stifle a grin at their indignant faces, ‘the muscle in deed’
Not happy with the inclusion of Draco, but unable to fault the logic, Harry had one other person in his thoughts, he could see trouble ahead.
‘What about Ginny? She won’t want to be left behind’
Shaking her head, ‘She doesn’t add anything to the team and would just be a distraction to you Harry and to you Ron, not to mention George and Fred, when I need you all focused on the job in hand.
Again unable to fault the logic he was not looking forward to explaining that to Ginny, maybe they could just sneak out he thought.
As they left the Professor’s study Ron remarked how quiet Fleur Delacour had been.
‘It's obvious, they much have spoken before we got there, Fleur knew she was not coming and must have been the one to tell McGonagall about Nicola, how else would she had known about her skills in defence of the dark arts. Hermione explained.
Looking to put off speaking to Ginny for as long as possible Harry suggested they go see Hagrid.
‘HAGRID it’s us let us in’
Harry, Hermione and Ron were standing outside Hagrid’s hut trying to get his attention.
‘Finally’ huffed Ron
‘Sorry bout that’ Hagrid apologised, ‘I was busy gettin some stuff out, come on in’
Hagrid stepped back into this main room and busied himself putting the kettle on.
‘You’re in luck, made some cakes this morning’ Beamed Hagrid
Fang barked in delight at seeing them all again and slobbered all over Ron as he took the sit next to the big dog.
‘Why always me’ Ron whined, pulling a ‘yuk’ face and wiping dog drool of his chin.
Hermione and Harry exchange happy smiles, they missed these times in Hagrid little hut, drinking team avoiding his cakes and just enjoying their time at Hogwarts
In the corner stand two large axes and armour, breast and back plate, greaves for arms and legs and a helm, all in sliver with runes inscribed over every inch.
‘Wow Hagrid where did you get those?’ asked Harry pointing at the weapons.
‘Those’, Hagrid replied, ‘Dumbledore left me those in his will, never thought I would have a use for them, but Dumbledore was a great man, a great wizard, he could see things ‘e could, mark my words, he know these would be needed one day. Great man e wer’
They contemplated his words and debated with Hagrid over the theft of the Witches’ Eye and the journey they were about to undertake long into the evening.