Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.

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23. Lessons in Apparition

 Lessons in Apparition

The following day was cold, crisp and fresh outside. David and Susan wrapped up in warm clothes and headed down the familiar lane into Hogsmeade.
Dusty had decided for once to accompany David and he sat shivering on his shoulder, his feathers puffed out to try to provide a warm layer of air. They hurried along and decided to make their first stop at madam Puddifoot’s tea shop.
Inside the room it was warm and inviting. There was a pervasive aroma of hot chocolate and pastries. David still had several of Voldemort’s gold coins left and he bought two huge mugs of steaming hot chocolate and a couple of whortleberry turnovers, topped with clotted cream. Dusty was treated to a crumbled biscuit, which he gobbled up greedily.
Susan doted on Dusty and made a big fuss of him. The bird responded in kind by pecking softly at her fingers as she tickled his neck. David enjoyed looking around at the various customers who came and went. He saw his first hag, a hideous bent-backed old crone with a large hooked nose and he nudged Susan excitedly to get her attention.
“Don’t make it so obvious.” She told him.
“You don’t want to upset her and get yourself turned into something slimy, or for her to slip you a potion so that you fall madly in love with her.” She grinned.
David gulped and tried to hide himself under the table. Susan pulled him up by the collar and he sat more quietly from then on.
Once they had warmed up sufficiently and finished off their drinks they headed back out into the cold. There was a fairly thick layer of snow on the ground, but along the pavements it had been trodden down into an icy slush.
They popped into Honeyduke’s sweet shop and bought another selection of goodies, then wandered further along the road and into the Three Broomsticks to revive themselves with a hot toddy.
Madam Rosmerta welcomed them warmly and served them with a glass each of hot mulled honey wine. They took their drinks to a table in a corner near to the fire and warmed their toes on the hearth.
Susan soon became sleepy in the spiced atmosphere of the inn and she rested her head against the wall. She soon fell asleep and David had to take the glass out of her hand to stop it falling out of her hand and onto the floor.
As he placed it carefully on the table he saw in the corner of his eye a person that he recognised entering the inn. It was Draco Malfoy.
He watched as Malfoy looked around and then moved quickly towards the bar. He mumbled a few words to madam Rosmerta who then beckoned him towards a door behind her. He ducked under the bar and followed her into the room.
David’s curiosity was peeked immediately and without a second thought he whipped out his wand and cast the spell to allow him to enter Dusty.
As he flew out of his body he glanced backwards and saw it fall sideways onto Susan. He tried to suppress a giggle as it landed face first in her lap. It looked ridiculous, but could easily pass for being asleep.
In Dusty’s body he leapt as quietly as he could towards the door behind the bar. Although it had looked open from where he was sitting, he found that there was a bead curtain inside it and there was no way that he could get through it as a bird.
With a caw of frustration he dropped to the floor and tried to observe what was going inside. He could see Rosmerta’s back as she stood with her hands on her hips talking to the hidden Malfoy.
“He ordered a bottle of it as a present for Dumbledore for Christmas, but he never came round to collect it. He’ll definitely come for it as some point because he’s already paid for it.” She told him.
“Excellent.” Said Malfoy delightedly.
“Add this to the bottle and then re-seal it.”
David couldn’t see what Malfoy passed to her, but Rosmerta leaned forwards and accepted something from him.
“Be careful not to get it on your skin, or you will be dead within an hour.” Said Malfoy with a note of warning in his voice.
David reeled backwards in shock. It sounded as if Malfoy was asking Rosmerta to put poison in something and that it was meant to be given to Dumbledore. He decided that he had heard enough already and he hopped back under the bar and performed the counter-spell to return him to his own body.
He jumped up from Susan’s lap and stared in horror as Malfoy crept out of the back room and swept out of the front door of the inn. He was no admirer of Dumbledore himself, but to imagine that Malfoy wanted to kill him was sickening.
His hand trembled as he lifted his glass of mead and took a large gulp. Susan shifted in her sleep but didn’t wake up. He looked at Dusty, who hopped up onto the table and cocked his head at him.
He needed to tell someone, to try to stop it. His mind raced. There was only one thing to do. He needed to tell Lord Voldemort and find out what to do about it.
He shook Susan awake and told her that they needed to get back to the school. She was annoyed and confused at being woken up in such a fashion and made her feelings know to David all the back along the road.
She left him in a huff as they got back to the Hufflepuff common room and David went straight to his room with Dusty. Once inside he threw open his trunk and pulled out clothes and books haphazardly until he found what he was looking for. The small crystal sphere that he used to communicate with the Dark Lord.
He leapt onto the bed and sat up against the headboard. Holding the ball in one hand, he tapped it lightly with his wand. He spent an increasingly nervous fifteen minutes or so repeating the process before he eventually got a response.
The face of Voldemort was impassive as David heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“My Lord, I’m sorry to inconvenience you but I have to tell you what I’ve just seen in Hogsmeade.”
David then repeated the whole story of Malfoy and Rosmerta to Voldemort, who listened silently but then grinned evilly and gave a short mirthless laugh.
“Young man, this news is of no consequence to you at all. Pay no further heed to it, but continue in your task.”
David was stunned, but dared not to say anything out of turn.
“Have you any other information for me?” Said Voldemort.
David stammered, but managed to relate his conversations with Professor Burbage and Dumbledore during the Christmas lunch.
Voldemort’s eyes lit up as he heard that Dumbledore would have a personal conversation with David, but then they turned cold and full of hate at the name of Burbage. He practically spat with venom as he told David.
“That woman has woven her spells of misinformation for far too long. I will deal with her in due course.”
He regained his composure and stared intently at David.
“That information is most useful. Once again you have done well. Continue to monitor Dumbledore and the other Professors and ignore the boy Malfoy. He will not succeed in his futile attempt to poison Dumbledore. Do not mention what you saw to any other wizard.”
David nodded although he was still confused by Voldemort’s wishes.
“I will send you more gold as a reward for your work. Goodbye for the present.” He added and disappeared from view.
David sat and gazed at the ball for a while before dropping it onto the bed and staring blankly at the table, where Dusty was busy preening himself.
When he finally came to his senses he felt a sudden surge of guilt at upsetting Susan earlier. As a way of saying sorry, he hastily scribble a note on a scrap of parchment and then tied it to Dusty’s leg.
“Do me a favour, boy.” He said.
“Take this round to Susan and see if she wants to go and get some dinner.”
When David met Susan in the great hall later on, he looked at her sheepishly and said ‘sorry’. He had to repeat himself three more times before she broke into a huge grin and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.
“Let’s not fall out over something silly.” She said.
“We won’t do that.” He smiled back.
Dinner was a leisurely affair and the two of them made sandwiches with the selection of cold meats and salad that appeared on the table in front of them.
“I bet the house-elves love it at Christmas, when they can take a break from looking after hundreds of students.” Said Susan.
“I wonder if any of them go back home to their families?” David mused.
They dined alone that night, as none of the other students or Professors came into the great hall. David was slightly on edge, expecting at any moment to see Malfoy enter and take his place at the Slytherin table.
The rest of the Christmas holidays were spent in much the same fashion. David and Susan would meet up at breakfast, spend the whole day together either reading in the library or playing some game or other in the Hufflepuff common room.
On the final Sunday morning before the new term started, the school Professors began arriving and could be seen here and there about the school. The school caretaker, Argus Filtch also was seen putting up a notice on the main board.
It gave details about apparition lessons that would be starting soon and both David and Susan were extremely excited about the thought of learning how to travel between places in the blink of an eye.
They chattered together about how it was done and David told Susan about how a ‘family friend’ had taken him to Paris using side-along apparition. She told him about the times that her aunt Amelia had taken her into the Ministry of Magic several times using the same method.
They were eager to begin and when their fellow housemates arrived later that day they told them about the notice on the board. The atmosphere in the common room was palpably energised by this news and the students talked together excitedly late into the night.
The first week of lessons in the new term were taken up with telling each other what they all got up to at Christmas. Hannah Abbot had been taken to Romania by her father and they had spent a long cold Christmas staying with the family of a vampire friend of his.
Hannah hadn’t slept much as she was terrified of being visited in the night by one or more of their hosts in bat form. She was safe enough though, because they had taken a plentiful supply of Mrs Ogden’s patented ‘Bat Repellant’ spray and both the rooms and themselves had been doused liberally with it before going to bed.
She had been given a pet bat by the vampire and this now took pride of place on the table at her bedside, but its cage was given a wide berth by any girl passing it by after it had gone dark outside.
Biggins had been nog hunting in Bavaria, along with his cousin Roderick who was a third-year Hufflepuff. Both of them now wore furry scarves to show that they had been successful. Biggins to David that nog’s were sausage-shaped creatures about six feet long and with ten legs each. They lived up in the mountains amidst the cracks and caves in the pine forests.
The Boxing Day nog hunt was famous for being both exciting and rewarding. The nogs could run at amazing speed, twisting up and around the trees and so the hunters used broomsticks to chase them. The fur was very valuable as it both kept you warm in winter and cool in the summer.
David wished that he could have gone with Biggins, but he later found out that it was only the richest and stupidest of wizards who hunted nogs for sport. He also was told that Malfoy had been nog hunting on more than one occasion. He even had a set of the bright yellow robes that were worn during the hunt. These were of course necessary to prevent reckless wizards from casting spells willy-nilly at anything that moved.
During one herbology lesson David was daydreaming about flying in and out of the trees when he saw that Harry Potter and his two friends were whispering to each other. He got the urge once again to try and hear what they were saying.
Using the age-old trick of pretending to knock his bucket of puffskein pellets onto the floor, he knelt down and crept around and under the bench to get nearer.
He heard nothing. He wondered if he perhaps he was still to far away to hear properly, so he inched slowly and as quietly as possibly right up to the feet of Harry Potter. He could definitely hear the three students clattering their pots and buckets, but there was no sound of voices.
David had to bite his lip and crunch up his eyes, as the big feet of Ron Weasley stepped to the side and one of them trod right on his fingers. His eyes watered, but he made no sound himself.
The foot soon came off and he saw Ron step far enough backwards for him to get a quick glimpse of his face before he stepped back forwards again.
David was sure that he could see Ron’s mouth moving as if he were chatting away, but there was no sound coming out.
He scurried back to his own side of the bench and stood up, holding the pot that he had dropped earlier. He turned to look at Harry Potter and his friends and they each stared back at him. His face turned bright red again.
“Oops.” He said.
Hermione Grainger looked at the pot and then spoke directly to David. At least she seemed to. Her mouth moved, but no words came out. She suddenly flushed and looked at the other two, then with a twitch of her wand she turned to David again.
“I’ll get those for you.” She said, this time loud and clear, but with a bit of a guilty note in her voice.
With a wave of her wand the puffskein pellets rose from the floor and put themselves back into his pot.
“Thanks.” Said David.
“Are you having any luck getting your Wolfsbane seeds to sprout?”
Hermione held up a large black seed tray and he could see that there were a dozen or so green shoots sprouting out of the soil inside.
“Luck hasn’t anything to do with it.” She said and put down the tray.
‘No need to be so snooty about it.’ David thought to himself and gave her a wan smile.
“Well done.” He said half mockingly.
He looked at Harry and Ron who both shrugged their shoulders and rolled their eyes towards Hermione. David knew instantly that it was she who had done all the work and that the two boys had not been able to match her skill.
He puzzled over the reasons why he couldn’t hear the three friends talking together, even when he had been so close to them. However, he was brought out of his reverie by Susan who grabbed his arm and yanked him sideways. As he was towed away, he saw Ron and Harry laughing and looking at each other.
“Come and look at Neville’s plants.” She cooed.
Neville Longbottom had produced a tray bursting to full with strong green shoot poking out from the soil.
“You’ve got to admire him.” She told David and then fluttered her eyes at Neville who grinned appreciatively.
David nodded and wished that there were some way of sneaking a few of Neville’s shoots into his own tray.
After that lesson, David kept a keen eye on the three Gryffindor students in class and he soon realised that it was no coincidence that he couldn’t overhear what they were saying. During one particular transfiguration lesson he actually saw Ron Weasley wave his wand and speak the incantation ‘Muffliato!’. His following words had then been mysteriously quietened and indeed muffled.
David rushed from the lesson and went to the library. In the reference section he took out the enormous copy of ‘The Giant Encyclopaedia of Spells and Incantations’. It was the size and shape of a paving slab and almost as heavy too.
Under the ‘M’ section he found muffliato and read that it was a spell used to hide your conversation from spies and nosey parkers. He slammed the book shut and left it on the table for madam Pince to put back on the shelf.
‘So, Harry Potter wants to hide what he is saying to his friends does he?’ David thought to himself. ‘That is very interesting, but doesn’t help me to gather information though’.
It was obvious that he needed to spy on them when they were alone and would think that there was nobody else around to hear them.
At last, the first Saturday in February hailed the beginning of apparition lessons and the great hall was going to be the location.
David followed Susan from the common room and they chatted excitedly about what might happen. Would either of them be able to manage it at the first attempt?
They joined a large group of students who were just as excited and they all looked and stared at the strange little wizard who was in charge of proceedings.
He introduced himself as Wilkie Twycross and began to describe what he would be doing with them in the following twelve weeks leading up to the apparition test.
“Test?” Said David.
“I didn’t know there was going to be a test.”
He had always been a little nervous about taking exams, especially if he had to perform some task with other people watching.
“Don’t worry.” Susan said soothingly.
“He only means a test to see that you can do it properly. You don’t have to write anything down.”
David breathed a sigh of relief.
“As you may know, it is usually impossible to apparate or disapparate within Hogwarts..” Twycross told the students.
David was surprised at this news and thought that it might be an unexpected piece of information his Master might not be aware of.
The apparition lessons were to be overseen by the heads of house, as well as Twycross. They chivvied the students into place as wooden hoops appeared in front of them. The students were expected to try to apparate into the hoops from where they stood.
Following Twycross’ instructions of ‘destination, determination, deliberation’, they all tried their best to move through invisible space. David’s attempt was as bad as everyone else’s and he laughed when he saw several people fall over.
Susan giggled when Biggins fell face first into his hoop and sat there looking both dazed and disappointed. They tried the same routine a couple more times and didn’t get anywhere, though Susan said that she thought she felt a real tingle inside her and a ‘sort of’ movement.
“I’m going to do it this time, I can really feel it.” She said and prepared to apparate.
As David stood and watched, Susan gathered herself together and with the grace of a ballerina she slowly but deliberately turned on the spot.
In an instant, she disappeared from where she had been. There was a ‘crack’-ing sound and she re-appeared inside the hoop in front of her. But almost just as quickly she screamed in shock and David gasped in terror as he saw that her left leg was still standing from where she had apparated.
With a horrible sound, it fell over and landed on the floor beside David. He was paralysed with the horror of it and could only stand and stare as Professor Sprout whirled her wand at Susan and shouted.
“Conrumpo!”
There was a loud ‘bang’ and the air was filled with purple smoke. Twycross and the other heads of house raced over and cast other spells and as the air cleared David saw Susan standing back beside him, with her leg back in place.
She swooned and David caught her as she fell.
“Give her some space. Don’t crowd her.” Professor Sprout said with a shaky voice.
“Are you alright, dear?” She asked Susan and patted her gently on the cheek.
Susan’s eyes fluttered and she feebly moaned.
“I.. I think so, Professor.”
But it was obvious that she was in no fit state to carry on with the lessons. David too was too shaken to continue, so he helped Madam Pomfrey to take Susan up to the hospital wing. The school nurse had been watching proceedings from the side of the hall, waiting for such an occurrence.
Madam Pomfrey fussed over Susan and she was given a big comfortable armchair to sit in and recover. A hot mug of sweet mallow tea was also prescribed and Susan sat sipping it and giving a little shudder now and again.
David also accepted a cup of tea, but he preferred to stand beside Susan. The nurse was satisfied enough to leave them alone, saying that she would come back later to check on them. Meanwhile, she had to return to the great hall to watch over the other students.
“How are you feeling now?” David asked Susan and he gently stroked her hair.
She looked up at him and smiled weakly.
“I’ll survive.” She managed.
“Good.” He replied.
“Do you think you will have another go next time?”
“Yeah, just make sure that you catch my leg before it hits the floor next time. Look, I’ve got a bruise on my knee!”
She lifted the hem of her robe to show him a round purple bump and they both laughed.
“They say that laughter is the best medicine.” Said a voice from behind them.
They both looked around to see the headmaster Albus Dumbledore standing there and beaming broadly.
“When I was your age and was also learning to apparate, a good friend of mine had the misfortune to lose both of his legs in the same way that you did. The school nurse at that time was a rather old and befuddled witch by the name of Merrill MacDuff.” He continued, with a twinkle in his eye.
“There was of course a terrible rumpus and in the confusion Madam MacDuff accidentally replaced his legs on the wrong sides and the wrong way around.”
David and Susan looked at each other and grinned.
“I hope that Madam Pomfrey has replaced everything in its right and proper place?” He smiled at Susan.
“Yes, thank you sir. Lucky for me it was just the one leg.”
The headmaster chuckled and raised his spectacles to take a closer look. He saw the bruise and immediately gave a quick flick of his wand. A small pot of yellow paste appeared before them and Dumbledore asked Susan to take a little and to rub it on the bruise. Susan lowered her robes and thanked the headmaster again.
“Now that I am happy that everything is as it was, I thought that as a special treat you might both like to come up to my study and to say ‘hello’ to Fawkes. Just a little something to take your minds away from this unfortunate incident.”
Dumbledore looked at them both with his eyebrows raised and a sheepish look on his face. The two friends gave one look at each other and Susan jumped straight up.
“Yes please!” They chorused.
The two of them whispered excitedly to each other as they followed in the wake of Dumbledore, who strode before them in his magnificent set of sweeping deep blue robes.
They eventually reach an ugly statue standing before a section of wall in the corridor, where Dumbledore intoned.
“Acid Pops!”
The gargoyle came to life and sprang aside, as the wall behind split open to reveal a moving spiral staircase. They all stepped onto the stairs and were taken upwards. At the top there was a wooden door that Dumbledore unlocked with a wave of his wand.
They walked through and both David and Susan looked around in awe. There was a myriad of mechanical devices and interesting glass objects lining the room, sitting on shelves and tables.
David gulped in disbelief. He never really thought that he would get access to the inside of Dumbledore’s office and he tried to hold in his excitement of the thought of telling his Master all about it.
He made a conscious effort to memorise everything in the room, so that he could describe it without even knowing what it might be. He also tucked away the little matter of the secret password that Dumbledore had used to get to the staircase.
“Here we are.” Said Dumbledore to them and beckoned them over to a golden perch with a red coloured ball of feathers on top.
The two students peered up at it in a reverend silence. Fawkes was perched curled up with his head under his wing. He was a shimmering red colour with golden feather trims.
He opened one tired eye and glanced at them, then with a sudden perk he stood up erectly and stretched out his wings and tail.
“Show off!” Said Dumbledore and gazed lovingly at him.
“He always likes to put on a show for students.” He chuckled.
Dumbledore then went on to tell them about phoenix habits and their amazing magical powers. He also talked about the theory of familiars, but David and Susan were too engaged in watching Fawkes preening and primping himself to take much notice.
Dumbledore then held out his hand and offered Susan what seemed an empty palm.
“Professor?” She asked.
“Take it. Take it.” He said and prompted her again.
She put her hand over his palm and then blinked in surprise. She put together her thumb and forefinger and picked up something invisible and delicate.
“Put it down on the table and see.” He said.
Susan did as he asked and was amazed to see a bright red phoenix feather appear as she let go of it.
“The feathers of a bird familiar turn invisible when touched by the human hand. Most fascinating.” Dumbledore purred.
“Have you come across this characteristic before?” He asked David.
“Yes sir, I have.” He replied.
“My own wand has a familiar’s feather in the core.”
“Ahh, wonderful!” Dumbledore exclaimed.
“I have studied these wonderful creatures for many years, but there is still so much that remains unknown to wizardkind. You and I are members of a very exclusive club and I am honoured to meet you.” He said and bowed low to David.
David was gobsmacked and could only blush with embarrassment. Dumbledore smiled with a look of understanding.
At that moment Susan spoke up.
“Is that the sorting hat, sir?”
She pointed at a dusty mound on a shelf nearby. Dumbledore smiled and said.
“Yes. That’s where it lives for most of the time. It only gets used at the beginning of the school year. I occasionally put it on myself and keep it up to date with the goings-on in the outside world.”
David looked at the hat and said.
“We use a hood and cloak at Beauxbatons. I was sorted into Sournois house.”
“Did you have to use the sorting hat to get into Hufflepuff?” Susan asked David.
“No. I was just told to come here by Professor McGonagall.”
“Perhaps you’d like to try on the hat and see where you would have been put if you were a Hogwarts first-year student?” Said Dumbledore.
“Although I think I could make a good guess.”
David shrugged his shoulders and agreed. He sat down on a chair and Dumbledore took the hat and placed it on David’s head. David looked up and waited.
There was a moment’s silence before the hat twitched on David’s head and suddenly said out loud.
“Ohh, sorry. I was asleep. Was there something that you wanted?”
They all laughed and Dumbledore told the hat what they wanted. It took a few seconds to think about it and then said.
“Ravenclaw!”
“Of course.” Said Dumbledore and took off the hat and put it back on the shelf.
Susan let out a groan and put her hand on David’s shoulder.
“He won’t have to move into the Ravenclaw common room will he?” She asked Dumbledore nervously.
“No. It’s a little too late for that, I think. And the hat is only a guide after all. It does seem a pretty obvious choice thought, doesn’t it?” He said to David.
David thought about it and replied.
“Yes, I suppose so. After all, my familiar is a raven and the animal on the Ravenclaw badge is a bird.”
Susan seemed crestfallen at this, but David reassured her.
“Don’t worry, Sue. I won’t try to sabotage the Hufflepuff quidditch team.”
She punched him playfully and grinned.
“Thanks Daffers.”
Dumbledore looked at the pair of them approvingly and chuckled.
“There is, however, the small mistake that the bird on the Ravenclaw shield is actually an eagle.”
“Of course!” Exclaimed Susan.
“Whatever was I thinking?”
“I merely meant that it would be the usual case for a first-class student to be sorted into Ravenclaw house. The fact that the name has the word ‘raven’ as a part of it is purely coincidental.”
The two friends looked at each other and grinned.
“At the risk of sounding a little boastful, I can let you know that I was indeed myself sorted into Ravenclaw house when I first arrived at Hogwarts.”
“Easiest decision I ever had to make.” Came the voice of the hat from the shelf.
“Well, I hope that you found this little excursion both illuminating and interesting.” Dumbledore said and held out his arms to indicate the way back out of his study.
They took this as a sign that their visit was over and with a tinge of regret they thanked Dumbledore profusely. Susan picked up the feather, which disappeared again, and they made their way back to the great hall.
By this time the hall was back in its usual configuration of tables for each house, the apparition lessons having finished earlier. They held hands and sat down at the Hufflepuff table. They were now so hungry after all the excitement of the day, that they just sat and waited for half an hour until it was time for dinner to arrive.
Everyone crowded around Susan and asked her how she was and if it had hurt when she got splinched. She loved the sudden attention and the short-lived fame that she achieved that day and made the most of it. Anyone who asked was given a full account of what happened and even further report of her visit to Dumbledore’s study.
David merely sat by and watched Susan sitting there and enjoying herself. He thought how strange it was that such a horrible incident should turn into such a wonderful experience for her.
He had never seen her looking so happy and it suddenly struck him how lucky he was to be there with her at Hogwarts. He had never been so happy. He had a home, he had friends and he even had a girlfriend who liked him as much as he liked her.
He also had a lot more useful information that would please his Master.
David grinned inwardly and it was some time before he realised that Susan was looking at him with a quizzical smile.
 

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