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🧙‍♂️ Start of Term
In The Great Hall

Started by Albus Dumbledore, March 31, 2021, 08:44:42 pm

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore stood at the lectern watching the students filing into the Great Hall. It wasn't his first year as headmaster and, daresay, he felt somewhat like he had settled into that particular role, perhaps more than he had originally expected to.

It never failed to amuse him how much energy there was in the room before him. The Great Hall, in his mind, never looked better than the first day of term: the candles at their brightest, the enchanted ceiling letting in the majesty of the skies and stars above them, and all of the returning students already before him - eager to get back to learning new magic.

But for Dumbledore the greatest individual moment was just about to occur: the first year students arriving, eyes wide and shining with awe at the majesty of the Great Hall, the mumbling amongst them as to the nature of the Sorting, that moment when the world opened up for them and their first brush with their destiny manifested: that moment when the Sorting Hat would reach into them and start them on their way.

For someone somewhat sentimental like Dumbledore it was always encouraging to see it happen.

He smiled, and gestured with a wave of his hand for silence. As if by magic the room fell silent just as Professor McGonagall opened the great wide doors and led the first years through the middle of the hall, past the tables of students - as every year, the returning students watched the first years with a mix of anticipation and sympathy.

Professor Dumbledore's smile widened into a great beam as Professor McGonagall set down the Sorting Hat on its place, and it began to sing.

QuoteI may look like a dotty old hat,
In need of minding, mending, maybe a clean.
But rest assured, I'll know where you're at,
I look into who you are, not what you seem.

I don't care if you're freckly or tall,
I don't mind if you're athletic and lean,
I shan't notice if your shoes are too small,
I won't tell if your fingernails aren't clean.

I can sense what truly counts in you,
To find your home with a fellow student,
Bravery, honour, loyalty true
Or wits or cunning, whichever's prudent.

Whether Gryffindor, chivalrous lions at heart,
That dare to try to best their foes,
Home of the brave, setting them apart,
Keeping all the others awake on their toes.

Or Slytherin, cunning as a snake,
Supercilious, glorious, ambitious,
But of course, the connections you'll make,
Choices in life can be most auspicious.

Perhaps Ravenclaw, the home of booklore,
The keen of mind to devour the tomes,
And wit and wisdom, to learn ever more,
The power of the mind to roam.

And of course, Hufflepuff, hearty badgers,
Home of the loyalest and the just:
More important than deeds of greater stature,
Being true to each other, in each other we trust.

So don't dilly, don't dally, don't delay,
Your friend, the Hat, is here to decide,
With me upon your head, I will relay
Into which house, you will become much pride!

Dumbledore led a polite round of applause. He had heard the Hat 'composing' this year's ditty while sat in his office - and truth be told, he rather thought the Hat was having an off-year this year. In fact, perhaps even for the last couple of years. There was always next year to look forward to.

But for now, he just watched, beaming, as Professor McGonagall called the first name on her list. They did look like rather a bright cohort this year.

Rose Pemberton

Hogwarts librarian Rose Pemberton had been looking forward to this year's sorting ceremony even more than she usually would. It was her daughter's first year at Hogwarts, and she would have a rare privilege that only very few parents ever had: she'd see her own child get sorted. She suspected very strongly that little Grace would be an easy job for the Sorting Hat to figure out, but she was looking forward to it all the same.  It was a special day and she couldn't help feeling very proud.

She walked up to the staff table and settled down near the left end of it, next to Hal Prendergast, the new Arithmancy professor. The two of them had gotten to know each other a little over the summer and she was starting to consider the older man a friend. Also, he hadn't immediately bailed out of their budding friendship after meeting her rambunctious little girl, Grace. She could only hope that this coming term didn't change his opinion on the subject.

Rose tried to listen politely while the Sorting Hat was singing its song, but she struggled. She nervously fidgeted with a button on the cuff of her while blouse.

"Hal," she whispered nervously. "I don't think I've been this excited since my own first year at Hogwarts. What house do you think Grace will be?"

She had so much nervous energy she felt as if she was about to burst out of her own skin. Hopefully, her daughter would be a Hufflepuff, like she had been during her school days. Rose still thought that the badgers were by far the best house, matched only by the ravens. It was a silly thing to hold onto such sentiments and she knew it. Since graduation she long since concluded that house didn't matter. And yet her heart soared every time she saw the Hufflepuff crest anywhere.

Her eyes wandered over the house tables and she noticed a gap where the Ravenclaw third years where sitting. Next to Bobby Cashmore there was an empty seat right where Lawrence Finlay normally sat. Rose looking from the empty seat to Harold with a questioning expression. She'd heard about the Finlay parents being involved in some sort of accident. It had been on the agenda of the last staff meeting, but unfortunately Rose had not been able to attend.

"Did they pull the boy out of school?" she asked Harold quietly, hoping that he would have a little bit more detail on the matter of the missing student.

Grace Pemberton

April 01, 2021, 02:59:16 pm #2 Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 07:37:11 pm by Royal_Poet
Grace had been excited all day. Unlike the other students, she'd not arrived on the train, but had already been at the school for most of the summer. Being the daughter of the school librarian meant that things were a little bit different for her. She already knew the school because she'd lived here with her mum. She also already knew a lot of the professor that would be teaching this year, but she was looking forward to seeing the new DADA professor. According to what her mother had said, he was an interesting gentleman.

There were two things though she'd been looking forward to in particular. Spending time with her friends Tristan and Ollie again and finally getting sorted in their houses. She rather hoped that everyone in their little group would end up being in the same house, but she knew that things didn't always work out as planned as far as house assignments were concerned. She supposed that it was a good thing she liked all houses and would support her friends no matter which house they found themselves in.

Grace met the other students of her year at the train station. Of course, she immediately went to find Tristan and Ollie so they could share a boat to take them to the castle. It seemed Tristan had gone through a bit of an experience with one of the new professors, which had the three of them wondering exactly what they were in for during their first year.

Once they arrived, Professor Minerva McGonagall explained that they would be called up alphabetically for the sorting ceremony. Grace reached out to hold Ollie and Tristan's hands.

"We better be in Hufflepuff," she said to her friends. "My mum said it's the best house of the lot."

She could picture herself being in Gryffindor as well if she was honest. Hopefully, her mum wouldn't be too upset if things ended up being that away.

Grace could feel a pleasant buzz going through the other first years around here. They were entering the Great Hall and students were oohing and aahing at the decorations and what they were seeing. A muggleborn girl, Elaine, seemed to struggle to shut her mouth again after having looked up at the enchanted ceiling.

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby always looked forward to the first day of term... it always held such promise. So much to see, so much to learn, so much to do - especially this year with new classes.

He sat at the Ravenclaw table listening to the others around him - it was a bit strange, Larry - Lawrence - Finlay would normally be sat next to him, but he was nowhere to be seen. Asking a few of the other students, it seemed like no-one had seen him on the train.

Shame, he was looking forward to catching up with his friend - being a Muggleborn did sometimes make it a little difficult to keep in touch with the wizarding world out of term - but for the moment it was mostly just a oddity. Maybe Larry missed the train - he did occasionally miss a few things.

But it was hard to dwell on such things - there was still that hum of excitement of new things to learn, and of course the Sorting was shortly to begin... which would mean more people coming to sit at his table as they joined the Ravenclaws.

The Hat began its song, and Bobby wondered where it got the words from - supercilious wasn't a word he normally imagined in a song! But it did sum up his views on a few of the third year Slytherins he knew, for sure. Perhaps that was what Dumbledore did over the summer, teach it new words for its song. It must be lonely being a hat that no-one wears for 364 days of the year.

He applauded the song - or, maybe, the end of it - and waited to see who would join him and his friends in Ravenclaw.

Harold Prendergast

Harold found himself a little bit surprised, a touch perplexed, and a smidge confused. Not really for any particular reason - but the Great Hall looked so very different from over here by the teacher's table, as compared to his memories of sitting down there at the Ravenclaw table all those years ago. So very different - and yet somehow utterly familiar, and he found himself smiling at all the excitable chatty faces he saw... down there... if you will.

The majesty and magicality of the ceiling came with a new-found appreciation for the incantations required to make something be 'see through' in such a way as to permit light to pass without refracting it in strange ways. He considered that whoever wove that particular spell had spent the time doing a lot of very fine calculations to ensure the angle of the ceiling was cast just so to avoid increasing the refractive index much above one.

Rose was sat next to him, visibly bubbling with excitement - few parents, he imagined, ever got to see their children be sorted. "Which house Grace will be in?" He pondered that, "Well, I rather have a feeling she'll find yourself in Gryffindor. She will go far in, well, any of the houses, but I daresay Gryffindor will be her home." He hoped that was the expected answer.

"As for the child, I'm afraid that, actually, I don't have a great amount of detail. The boy - Finlay - is fine and will join us in a day or so. Being a few days late to class will not in any way limit his potential. But it might just set his mind at ease; something is awry, his parents found in rather a state, I'm afraid, and in a way that suggested some Dark magic might have been involved. I believe S-- Professor Montgomery has been asked about it but I'm not sure, I'm afraid. Once the boy arrives here, he will be as safe as houses, but Dumbledore rather thought it best to leave the boy with his family about him for a few days."

One thing he didn't mention from the staff meeting - not sure quite how relevant it was to Rose, or to give her any concerns, was that Finlay's parents are muggles and thus should have limited interaction with Dark magic... There was, well, no sense in raising the concern at this time on the subject.

It was at that moment that any conversation they could have had was somewhat overshadowed by the Sorting Hat. Harold was amused to learn it was yet another new song compared to any of the ones he thought he'd recognise if it was a repeat, and the amusement was a minor comfort.

Tristan Moor

Tristan squeezed Grace's hand back, nearly bouncing from the energy. The sky was right above- except not, and it made everything feel more new and exciting. He looked around, marveling at the place where they would take their meals for the next seven years. He thought he wouldn't mind sleeping there too, and wondered what the dorms would look like.

"Hufflepuff is boring though," he protested, lowering his voice as some older Hufflepuff students gave him a dirty look. "We both know the house of the brave is where the real glory is." He couldn't help but grin, stupid-wide, looking at the brightly colored banners stretched out over each table.

"Grace, you're lucky to have seen all this already." He couldn't imagine getting used to all of it, it seemed far too grand. He leaned over Grace to give Ollie a friendly punch to his shoulder, grinning at him kindly. "We're at Hogwarts!" he whispered, trying to convey his excitement somehow. He felt a strange sense of responsibility in this crowd of unknown children, a pull towards the few familiar faces he could find.

Speaking of which, there was Professor Montgomery up at the staff table, along with Inaya the niffler. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor had been polite enough, but he made a mental note to watch out for anything overtly suspicious. He scanned the rest of the staff table. He found himself bemused as the Sorting Hat sang, smiling even as the Hall hushed. It was time for the Sorting to begin.

M. B. Montgomery

After riding on the Hogwarts Express to accompany the students to the castle, Professor Msaed Montgomery felt positively shattered. It was baffling how a day spent doing nothing could be quite so exhausting. Having helped the first years into their boats, he was one of the last people to arrive at the castle. Aside from Minerva McGonagall and gamekeeper Ogg was the only faculty member to join the head table late.

He quietly slipped into an empty seat next to the Arithmancy professor. Harold Prendergast seemed to be immersed in conversation with the school librarian Rose Pemberton. He thought it was slightly rude they were talking over the Sorting Hat's song, but he soon gathered that Pemberton was distracted because her daughter Grace was among the students to be sorted tonight. He supposed he could cut her some slack for that. It had to be an exciting moment.

He watched the first years and their frightened and marvelled expressions. He still remembered what it had felt like to stand there and wait for his name to be called. The hat started with Ardingley, Anna Perenna who turned out to be a new Slytherin student. He clapped politely and watched as the blonde girl was welcomed at the Slytherin table, being initiated into her tribe. His eyes found Tristan Moor in the crowd whom he had talked with during the train journey, standing with Pemberton's daughter. It was adorable that they were holding hands, supporting each other.

As the thundering applause for Ardingley ebbed away he tuned into the conversation going on next to him once again. Curious. Surely, Professor Prendergast knew more about this situation than he let on. Maybe, he was trying to let Miss Pemberton just enjoy the sorting ceremony without any gloomy thoughts overshadowing proceedings. He could be onboard with that. He had no doubt that the school would be talking about nothing but what had happened to Lawrence Finlay's parents starting any time soon. One of his acquaintances at the Prophet had indicated that they would be running the story. He wondered if Professor Dumbledore would say something on the subject after the sorting was complete or if he would leave it up to the Ravenclaw head of house to inform the student's dormitory mates.

Blunt, Horatio. A Hufflepuff.

"So Hal," he addressed Prendergast after overhearing Rose calling him that, "are you looking forward to your first lesson?" Msaed was rather amused by the nickname, as it certainly didn't seem like the kind of thing Prendergast would have had encouraged. The other man seemed just a touch too uptight for that. He gave the Arithmancy Professor a teasing grin while raising one eyebrow in implied question. It was too tempting an opportunity to wind up his colleague to not use it.

Salem Anwar

"Hey, mate, how was your summer?" Salem was caught up in conversation from all sides as he sat at the Ravenclaw table. It was the beginning of his third year at Hogwarts, and as he looked over at the crowd of excited small faces he couldn't help but reminisce. To think it had been two years already.

He missed a good portion of Dumbledore's speech just asking about and waving across the room to those of his friends in other houses, only just managing to catch the Sorting Hat's song. Perhaps it was just his daftness but the song had sounded a lot more complex this year than the last two. Salem knew it was a bit rude of him to talk while the Sorting was underway, but he couldn't help but try and spot all the people he'd known the previous year. Many of them seemed to have grown much taller over the course of the summer, and it felt like a bizarre game of spot the difference.

He glanced up and down the table, clapping and smiling kindly as another Ravenclaw joined the table. A fellow Ravenclaw, Larry, was conspicuously absent at the table where he normally sat, his friend Bobby seated at the spot. He frowned and scanned the table once more, sure he had simply missed him somehow.

Another first-year joined their table amidst applause, and he beamed and clapped her on the back. "Welcome to Ravenclaw!"

Harold Prendergast

The Sorting Hat's song was more... intricate than the sort he remembered - but it was possible he had misremembered. The Sorting Hat's song was memorable but for a song you only ever heard the once, the lyrics were never going to be memetic.

Harold blushed ever so slightly upon hearing Sid take on that... that nickname from Rose. He found it endearing from Rose but somehow churlish and mocking from Sid - but he was perfectly willing to overlook the peculiarly puckish sense of humour his fellow professor had. This time, at least.

He was contemplating how to respond as he heard Brown, Rosemary being sorted into Gryffindor with their characteristic enthusiasm.

"I am, rather, looking forward to it. Working out where to begin to teach the fundamental theory of, well, everything seems like rather a daunting task, but I'm sure it will be a formative experience for all concerned."

He paused and smiled. "This year's students seem as bright and enthusiastic as we were at their age - maybe more - and I am very curious to see where Grace ends up."

He leaned over to Sid, "Between you and me, I think she'll end up in Gryffindor though Miss Pemberton thinks she'll be in Hufflepuff."

Bobby Cashmore

Salem was here, that was good. Of all the people at this table, Salem was one of the people most looked forward to seeing again.

He didn't want to interrupt - Salem was easily more popular in the year than he was - but hopefully there would be a quieter moment once the Sorting was done to catch up, talk about their respective summers, and the like.

He also wanted to know if he and Salem would be in the same classes - he didn't know what Salem had picked at the end of last year and whether he was doing the same new subjects or whether Salem might be off doing something different, Care of Magical Creatures maybe? He remembered that Salem had preferred the more outdoors subjects, it was one of the few things that was a real difference of opinion for them.

Of course, Bobby offered his own not-quite-so-spirited congratulations for the new Ravenclaws, others around him were doing a better job of that then he felt. He was really quite concerned about Larry.

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore stood, smiling, watching the new first years be sorted. He unconsciously felt his brow begin the muscular contortions that would, if left unchecked, eventually produce a furrow, which would be most unwelcome at this specific juncture.

Clearly, the Ravenclaw table were astute enough to notice that one of their expected number was not present at the table - and no doubt the more socially enthusiastic of them were currently debating exactly what fate had befallen the Finlay boy. He had hoped he would not have to make much mention of it but it was clearly a topic of concern amongst the third years in particular. It would, after all, be strange for ones so young to have lost all sense of empathy with the world.

Alas, then, he should say something as part of his announcements.

The Sorting was going splendidly; he fancied this year had been quite possibly the best yet. The Hat was on... form... and he had no doubt that its allegiance acumen was as strong as ever. He smiled as the names went by, wondering faintly which of them would be Transfiguration prodigies in waiting.

It always intrigued him which students were in groups even at this early stage when, for some of them, today was one of the first days they could have met other students their own age. Naturally, there were students that were alone and confused because of that very reason, but he noticed Grace Pemberton - daughter of the new librarian, and someone he had already briefly met - a natural leader amongst her friends offering calm and comfort. He should keep an eye on those three.

Most of the names went by with his smile continuing its strong veneer of verisimilitude, but something sparkled in his eye when he noticed the first of the trio - Jayne, Oliver - sorted into Ravenclaw. The names went by with military precision, as ever thanks to Professor McGonagall - the name being called, the student stepping gingerly forward, the Sorting Hat pondering for a moment and then announcing a house, followed by a raucous cheer. It was, Dumbledore thought, very uplifting.

Then he noticed the second student of the trio being sorted - Moor, Tristan - into Hufflepuff. He had some idea that something was amiss when he got the impression somewhere behind him that one of the staff reacted to the name. No matter, he would no doubt hear of it in due course. He always did, one way or another.

But this was unusual. The trio was, now of course, split up across the houses, and house loyalty was prided upon greatly at Hogwarts. It remained to be seen if the young Miss Pemberton would find herself in Hufflepuff like her mother and her friend, or if as Dumbledore suspected, in Gryffindor - such natural leadership qualities already being shown in one so young, how could she not be in Gryffindor?

But a trio of friends across the houses was rare; Dumbledore wondered if it would last, even if the Sorting Hat decided to completely split the trio. Something about them suggested it would somehow persist - but it remained to be seen. He would watch, with great interest.

The names passed by with little more than a blink - or so it seemed - until he heard Professor McGonagall's steely tone: "Pemberton, Grace".

He continued smiling, with a twinkle in his eye. The Hat was lowered onto Grace's head - and Dumbledore could have sworn he heard the Hat hesitate with a 'Hmm' for just a moment before it broadcast to all, "GRYFFINDOR!" Part of him wanted to turn and see what Miss Pemberton the adult made of this - as one of the few parents to ever witness their own child's sorting, especially to a different house - but he kept watching the trio.

Even as they were sat in their respective tables, Dumbledore got the impression that their minds were not entirely with their new house-mates or the impending feast. But who could say?

With the final student having been sorted, McGonagall rolled up her scroll, took the Sorting Hat away. Dumbledore stepped forward, spread his arms wide and beamed at the whole room.

"Welcome," his voice boomed, "Welcome to our new students, welcome back to our returning students - welcome to Hogwarts. Before the banquet, I do just have a few brief words to say... Freckle! Liver! Figment! Pluck! Thank you!"

He took a moment as everyone applauded - though he wasn't quite sure for what - then gestured with a hand while the collective attention was on him. Someone had to signal the kitchen to have the food appear on the tables, after all... And with that, he went to his seat at the head of the teacher's table. He was rather looking forward to the sugar mice he had asked for to appear on this year's feasting menu.

Salem Anwar

Dumbledore's speech never failed to make him smile, Salem felt the familiar ache of his cheeks as he applauded. They were bound to sting by the end of the night.

The brief moment of respite was welcomed as everyone ceased talking to dig into their meals. Salem's stomach rumbled but he ignored it in favor of trying to catch Bobby's eye. The boy had been quieter than others though Salem figured it was a habit of his more than anything. He nodded and beamed in his direction, raising his voice over the din.

"Crazy to think we're third-years already," he said by way of an icebreaker. "Is Larry not feeling well enough to eat?" he frowned, turning to search the table again. Stomach bugs were common this time of year, he remembered his mother fretting about it before he left that morning.

"I didn't go much of anywhere, but you know the family house is by the shore so it was a fun time regardless!" The light conversation came easy to Salem, finding it all too easy to carry on filling the silence with chatter. He waved a quick hello to another newly-minted Ravenclaw as their gazes met, not missing a beat.

"...and when we visited Diagon finally it was such a relief, almost comical really. Finding books was an adventure and a half, but then it's not like you could avoid it with a subject like Creature Care," he offered a sheepish smile. "So how was your summer?"

Grace Pemberton

Um, just what was happening? Grace stared with something akin to shock as Oliver was being sorted in Ravenclaw house. She had nothing against Ravenclaws, quite on the contrary she thought it a nice house, but that was not what was supposed to happen. She had pictured herself together with hr friends in Hufflepuff. Alas, she had to admit that maybe Ravenclaw was an adequate fit. Oliver was smarter than her she thought, so he would probably do well with all the super geniuses as his house and dormitory mates. Grace had to admit though that she still felt bad - for all of a minute.

While another student was being sorted, she was already contemplating if maybe she could sneak out at night and enter the Ravenclaw dormitories to meet up with Oliver for a midnight party. Now that could be exciting. Her mum, being the school librarian, had to know all the passwords to all the common rooms in the school. Maybe, she could somehow get the password out of her mother and then...

Her attention snapped back to the sorting hat when Tristan Moor was being called. Grace crossed her fingers behind her back and hoped that at least this would go as planned. She'd worked out that the odds of at least two of them together in the same house weren't bad. Is Tristan was sorted into either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw everything would be fine.

Hufflepuff! Grace cheered loudly with the members of Hufflepuff house excited that things were going so well.

A short while later it was her turn. Grace felt rather nervous walking up to the chair and putting on the old, oversized hat. It smelled a little bit funny and apparently that was a rude thing to say. Grace wasn't sure how she felt about being reprimanded by a hat. She preferred her inanimate objects to be, well, inanimate.

Insolent child, the hat chided at the thought.

A few split seconds later Grace had received her verdict: Gryffindor! The room broke into applause, but Grace just looked around in a confused state. What? Really? Oh yikes, her mum would probably be quite disappointed. And she was neither with Tristan nor Oliver now.

She looked at both of her friends as if to apologise before making her way over to her new housemates. It would be okay. Somehow. Probably.

Bobby Cashmore

"I know, right? Where did the time go? It doesn't seem that long since we were there putting on the Sorting Hat!" Bobby smiled, adding a few forkfuls of roast potatoes to his plate, as well as a few slices of roast beef, a few roast chicken, and - because his mother would chide him if he didn't, naturally - a few large spoonfuls of other vegetables. But not kale. Something the cooking here at Hogwarts did to the kale made it taste unpleasantly metallic.

"I don't know where Larry is - a few of us have been wondering where he is, because if he was ill, one of us would have seen him up in the dormitory before coming down here, but he's nowhere to be seen. I hope he's OK."

Bobby stabbed one of his potatoes with his fork, a little too eagerly and it tried to bounce off the plate and onto the table. Everyone else around him was busy with their food or their conversation, so he took the opportunity to just very quietly try a Wingardium Leviosa without his wand - being the first opportunity he'd had since the start of summer to actually do magic - but all that happened was that it turned very slightly and rolled back into its place, so he just had to pick it up with his fingers and drop it back into consumption range.

"My summer? Honestly... not very exciting. I spent some time with my father learning about how the railway engines worked, did a lot of reading, went to the muggle cinema - a film called 'The Italian Job', it's a bit bonkers but my parents enjoyed it. Other than that, just waiting to come back to Hogwarts to learn more magic, really."

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore sat down at the head of the table, teachers either side of him. They had mostly waited politely for him, of the others, no matter. The food intake would naturally begin in earnest, even amongst the staff. He was delighted to find a small side plate next to his goblet with a positively generous helping of sugar mice and his features crinkled in a smile that was, if possible, wider than the beaming visage of delight he had shone the children.

He had, at some stage in his prodigious life, encountered the phrase "simple things please simple minds", and it occurred to him that this simply wasn't true, that even the most fiendish of minds could often be pleased by something delightfully simple. He tasted the first sugar mouse, letting its coating roll all around the inside of his mouth.

He noted, to his sides, that not everyone was indulging in their food. "Dig in, everyone. The students have, and we should not want for pomp or circumstance."

But he was aware they were waiting for... something .He sat back for a moment and for just that moment, Dumbledore felt old. "I will not raise the fears of the students; the Finlay boy is unharmed though his muggle parents are recovering. He will join us in a few days and I shall leave it to him how he chooses to explain things. Naturally whatever explanation he chooses to give shall be the truth." There was a twinkle in his eye, and it was not altogether a sparkling one.

"Montgomery, Prendergast, I should assume your renewal of the wards is complete?" It was somehow both a question and a statement all in one. "I fear we should have need of their protection before the academic year is out."

Then with a flourish, Dumbledore seemed to become energised again, tucking in heartily to the roasted meats, vegetables - and a large Yorkshire pudding - on his plate. "Come now, enjoy. We shall always be glad of a good meal before any challenge set before us."