Floo Network

Beginning of Term
In The Great Hall

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

Rose Pemberton

Apparently, Harold was going to giver her the details on Finlay either. Why was it that nobody would speak to her about this issue? She knew that as librarian she wasn't really on the same level as the other members of faculty, but she cared for the students just as much as they did, if not more. She saw all students from every house regularly. Helping them with their homework and studies often made her day. She felt she was entitled to something.

There was a vague thought in her head she didn't like to consider in all seriousness. Were people not saying something because she was muggleborn? Did they think she didn't now what was going on in the wizarding world and that they could hide the rise of bloodist sentiment from her by simply not mentioning it? Now was probably not the time to dwell on the matter, but she felt uncomfortable, wondering how much longer it would be before some 'concerned parents' asked that she leave the school. Hopefully, Professor Dumbledore would be ready to have her back when it finally came to it.

"I suppose if Musaid is looking into it..." Rose said unconvinced, mispronouncing the Kuwaiti professor's name rather spectacularly. She didn't know if she could trust the new DADA teacher yet. From what she had learned about him he wasn't a pureblood though, and that was good news. It made it fairly unlikely that he was involved in the bloodist cause.

She turned her attention to the queue of students waiting to be sorted. As Oliver Jayne was sent to Ravenclaw house she felt rather sorry for her daughter. They'd been such fast friends she had hoped the two of them would find themselves in Hufflepuff together. With her Grace not being much of a booksmart type, she doubted there was any chance that she would join him Ravenclaw.

It wasn't long before Grace was finally up, and Rose held her breath as she watched. Part of her wanted to reach for Harold's hand for reassurance, but she disciplined herself to not any such thing. She was a grown witch and could handle this moment without the support of a man. It was just the sorting ceremony, though Rose couldn't help but feel that this would decide a great many things about Grace's life. It would define who her friends were and whom she'd socialise with.

Gryffindor. There was a word Rose has not expected to hear. She quickly looked around, but other than her none of the people who had met Grace seemed to look surprised. Clearly, they didn't know her daughter as well as she did.

"I suppose it's better than Slytherin," she muttered to Harold, trying to find something positive to say. Not that Rose disliked Slytherins in general, but in general, but she was fairly certain that Grace would not do well that environment. Gryffindor was okay, though she could already foresee her daughter becoming a little troublemaker if encouraged along this path by like-minded individuals.

As the dinner was opened, she reached for the vegetables and put some on her plate. "Broccoli, Harold?" she asked, ready to serve him some of the dish if he so desired.

Dumbledore's words about the wards echoed in her mind. Why was he expecting they would need them? Suddenly, Rose didn't really feel like having a festive meal anymore.

Harold Prendergast

April 20, 2021, 09:26:45 pm #16 Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 09:42:24 pm by Arantor
Harold smiled. "I did wonder if Grace would become part of Gryffindor, she has quite the strong sense of self about her and a fearlessness to be admired. I should note that Slytherin is a home for those who have ambitions perhaps sometimes above their station."

He spooned a few golden roast potatoes onto his plate. "Quite honestly, though, I shouldn't wonder if Grace will eschew some of her house-mates in favour of her friends." As if half remembering something once said to him - possibly by Dumbledore - "It is our choices that define us, not those made by others for us. Well, I rather think she will choose wisely."

Seeing that Rose was offering the broccoli, Harold smiled almost ruefully, "Broccoli? I'd love some, thank you." He mused for a moment. "You know, it was one of the things my wife and I could never agree on; she always wanted it so blasted crunchy and I always preferred it just a little more tender."

He leaned over in the other direction, "Sid? Would you like any of these potatoes or the broccoli?" Harold was fully willing to pass the serving dishes down as necessary.

He hadn't wanted to address Dumbledore's comments about the wards - better that Sid should do such as they were more technically his purview, but he got the impression Rose would appreciate something on the matter.

"The wards, well, should be renewed regularly given the footfall of people coming over the threshold every year, and Sid was good enough to invite me along to help - the castle is rather large and rather a lot of lammas bread was used, which is rather easier when there are two of you to perform it."

He still felt that the elephant in the room of the bloodist attacks was rather not his issue to raise, and it seemed that Dumbledore agreed. Privately he wondered what Sid would make of it, the chap seemed to have quite the controversial opinions on matters and the manner in which they should be managed.

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore sensed that his staff were not entirely in agreement with his stance and were concerned.

He set aside his food for a moment - the beef was particularly good this feast, and the Yorkshire pudding extra crispy, just the way he liked it - and turned to his fellow professors.

Professor McGonagall was about to say something but Dumbledore raised a hand, conscious of a need not to frighten the students by showing disharmony amongst the staff.

His voice was low, urgent but not frightened. "I do not believe the Finlay family's attack was isolated. The so-called 'Squib Marches' as well as some other incidents of which I have been informed... lead me to believe these are merely opening moves in a much larger chess game. Pawn to king's four, if you would forgive the metaphor."

Sighing a little, he continued. "I have instructed our Professor Montgomery - with Professor Prendergast's help - to reaffirm the wards around the school because at some point, whatever this is will turn in our direction and I do not believe in being unprepared. However, I believe the enemy is not yet at our door and we can lay our plans in private, and prepare our students for what is to come without being merely reactionary."

"I realise some of you may have objections and further questions. I would ask that you leave these for another time. Today we should celebrate our new school year. Do try the beef, it is quite excellent and I am very impressed by the Yorkshire pudding, I must thank the chef."

M. B. Montgomery

"My advise would be to keep it simple and relatable," Msaed said to Harold. "I found the first two years of Arithmancy the hardest when I was learning in school. All that jargon can be quite intimidating. And the math can be as well. I dare say the muggles have an advantage on us there, teaching this stuff to their children from an early age."

The sorting hat moved through the students rather quickly, before landing on Pemberton, Grace. He could sense how tense her mother was and curiously, he thought that Harold was watching with great interest as well. Exactly whom where these two trying to fool? The more he saw of them together, the more he was convinced that there was something going on between the two of them. Well, that was one of his worries about coming to Hogwarts and teaching alleviated. He thought that he might be bored, but his colleagues were providing a lot of entertainment with their strange antics.

"Looks like you're right about the younger Miss Pemberton," he said with a smirk. "Better watch out what you say now or you'll be in trouble with the older Miss Pemberton." He'd been about to tease Harold some more, but there weren't a lot of students on the list after Grace Pemberton, and before he knew it Dumbledore was standing up to open the feast. What followed, was so unbelievable at first, Msaed took a few moments to process.

He was less than impressed. Msaed had always been torn between admiring and disliking Albus Dumbledore and today the headmaster's announcements or rather lack thereof placed him firmly in the latter category. Really, he didn't even mention the Finlay boy to the other students when he could clearly see that his absence had already been noticed? And then he'd leave it to the boy to come up with an explanation? Out of all the outrageous things he'd heard, this one really triggered him. Why would anybody in their right mind leave that responsibility with a child? A traumatised child at that!

"I couldn't disagree more," Msaed said bluntly, seeing no point to hide how he felt about things. "And yes, we did finish the wards. Are we to omit this from the public record too and leave up to the children to come up with an explanation for that?" Oops, maybe that sounded a touch more scathing than he had meant it to, but he wasn't going to apologise for his statement. After all, there was some truth to it.

"Something ought to be done about all of this." He commented further. "And soon. Now, if we can. There really isn't much point in waiting for more horror and devastation before saying enough is enough." He was clearly alluding to Dumbledore's reluctance to intervene in the Grindelwald situation until things had escalated badly. Maybe not the wisest thing to say to his new employer on the first day of term, but quite frankly, he didn't care. It wasn't like he'd come to Hogwarts because he needed a job or cared for the money. He'd come to help. And to protect the children. So as far as he was concerned, right now, he was doing his job.

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore turned to his new professor and gave him a look over the top of his half-moon glasses.

He spent a moment studying the man and was convinced that his hiring decision had indeed been correct; someone with a career's worth of practical, applied defence against dark arts - and, by all accounts, a formidable duellist - was exactly what he needed. Someone to think of the two and a half things that he himself might have missed.

"Firstly, professor, I do not deal with such notices before the feast. It has been customary at Hogwarts for many years to welcome the first years, allow them time to settle amongst their peers with the feast and then to give out the start of year notices. The Ravenclaws have clearly identified their missing fellow student, and I will address it with them as part of the start of year notices."

He peered over his glasses again. "Furthermore, Finlay is an excellent student, with a remarkable head on his shoulders. A typical Ravenclaw, you might say. I will discuss with him what his options are prior to him rejoining his fellow students, but I put it to you that returning to your cohort with a message such as 'my family were attacked and I could do nothing about it' is a disservice to the boy, to his peers and all those in our charge."

"As to the wards, they are not in any way a secret. I believe my dear friend Batilda is going to put a paragraph into her upcoming book on the subject. She is following up her opus on the history of magic - which I believe is still on the syllabus this year - with a historical retrospective of Hogwarts itself. The wards are certainly a topic we have discussed, primarily for their use in preventing Muggles from finding the place. I have indicated that the broad message should be that 'Hogwarts is protected.'"

"Your final point, Professor, is that something ought to be done. I quite agree. However," There was a very grim note of finality in Dumbledore's voice, "At this time we have hearsay, speculation and rumour, things that will interfere with the best possible thing we can do for our students: teach them what they need to know."

Dumbledore gave this a moment to sink in. "Your own appointment for example - I daresay I could teach Defence Against the Dark Arts for a few years, but I believe what our students need is not based on lore and reading and educated guesswork, but grounding in very real practical experience, and..." His eyes twinkled, "someone who is unafraid to say what they think rather than trying to be sycophantic to their new employer."

"Now, please, do try to enjoy your meal, and do let me know if there are any messages you wish me to pass on to the students before the start of term - and I will take them under advisement."

Harold Prendergast

Harold had been about to reply to Sid's comments on being relatable with his subject; he surmised that if it were anything like his own school days, there would be a limited but workable command of basic mathematics on offer and that he would need to teach the maths along with the physics of the magical world.

And of course, something must be said to Rose - she seemed concerned that Grace would now be lead astray by the more... enthusiastic members of Grace's new house-mates, but somehow Harold wasn't worried. He actually assumed Grace would be more likely to keep the others in line rather than the other way around, if his own experiences had been anything to go by.

He had been considering his reply - and noted that Dumbledore had chosen to downplay the situation of the Finlay boy. This, to Harold, rather made sense. There was no good to be gained from raising suspicions and speculations, well, not in Harold's book anyway, but he saw Sid start to get angry before Dumbledore cut him off with a very deep and impassioned answer.

It suddenly occurred to Harold that this was what Dumbledore looked like when he was genuinely angry. That he was, for the most part, calmer than ever, but channelled all of his anger, bitterness, frustrations into a single sentence or two, before being able to return to a much lighter tone. That was a level of emotional control he himself had never had to master, or, he suspected, the temperament to do so, but if the rumours of Dumbledore's Occlumency and Legilimency were to be believed, it was rather simply a matter of course.

But what got Harold the most was the fact that Dumbledore clearly agreed with Sid but was already putting the chess pieces onto the board - telling people about the wards in a way that would stand for years and be remembered. Hiring staff very clearly and intentionally to protect against what was obviously coming. He suddenly wondered if Dumbledore had a deeper reason for hiring him than just being in need of an Arithmancy teacher. He suspected someone like Dumbledore could make great use of a time turner or two.

He sat back, choosing to remain silent at this moment, to see what Sid would make of Dumbledore's statement.

M. B. Montgomery

Annoying old coot. There wasn't much Professor Dumbledore said that Msaed could easily agree with. His attitude stank and was grating. A good part of Msaed was keen to let the headmaster know in no uncertain terms what he thought of his behaviour but here and now were hardly the time and place for it. Having a row in front of the students wouldn't help at all.

It was hard to let the matter go and Msaed was rather offended at the underhanded compliment he had been paid. Dumbledore had hired him because he wanted to hear different opinions? The notion was laughable. The only opinion that man had ever cared for was his own. And he'd hired for Defense Against The Dark Arts not because he needed a professor but because he was being generous? Oh, please.

Msaed was tempted to test the headmasters nonsense statements by walking out there and then. If he wasn't needed here, he had little doubt that he would find another occupation that would be worthwhile. He stopped himself from acting rashly. Experience had long since since taught him that giving in to his emotions often led to decisions he regretted.

"I suppose I agree that now is not the time to discuss these things. Let's enjoy dinner."

Still, this was not how he had imagined his first official day as a teacher to go. He was livid and keeping his temper in check would be a challenge. Best to focus on the food instead. Unlike Dumbledore, the roast beef and potatoes in front of him were unlikely to cause vexation as long as he stayed away from the cranberry sauce.

"I've no further announcements to add," he grumbled, before turning to Harold for the sake of avoiding Dumbledore as much as he could.

"Have you tried the beef?" He asked for the sake of starting up a conversation again. "The house elves have really done an excellent job with it."

It was easy to see that he was still irritated, but making a conscious effort not to further ruin the mood of the feast.

Harold Prendergast

Clearly Sid had not taken kindly to Dumbledore's comments. He wondered if this was related to being nearer in age to Dumbledore - one thing he had noted is rather how, well, an increase in age tends towards an increase to say what one truly thought. He had observed the phenomenon before, but he quite hoped he would grow older more gracefully.

The energy between the two formidable presences at the teacher's table was truly palpable. He supposed whatever Dumbledore's plans were, he would hear in due course what part he would be expected to play.

"Yes, the beef is moist and tender this year - I wouldn't admit it under other circumstances, but, well, even my dear Sylvia couldn't cook it more finely. The chicken is also delightful - and I must find out how they make the Yorkshire puddings so crispy."

Right now, though, conversation was not top of Harold's agenda - beyond the necessary pleasantries of passing foods between people at the table. He rather hoped that cooler heads would prevail once bellies were full.

He rather hoped that his limited conversation with Rose wouldn't be interpreted as rudeness - he rather thought it best to keep conversation to a minimum for the moment.

Albus Dumbledore

May 11, 2021, 07:41:27 pm #23 Last Edit: May 11, 2021, 07:47:12 pm by Arantor
Gradually the sounds of eating slowed and gradual conversations started. Dumbledore had rather enjoyed his own meal - and hoped his staff had, though he couldn't deny that he had had to swallow thoughts of one of his staff choking lightly, and distinctly harmlessly so, on their vegetables.

Dumbledore chided himself; he wasn't given to rash or petty jealousy, let alone harbouring thoughts of pointless vengeance and on some level it irked him that he had descended to such a place. He knew with that, that hiring Montgomery had absolutely been the right choice. Next up was the rather studious Arithmancy professor, he supposed, who appeared to have rather delicate sensibilities and a keen sense of tactful silence, at least when not being professionally awkward. Dumbledore was aware just how deeply Prendergast's knowledge went, as the hiring choice had been complicated - truthfully the amount of time Prendergast had spent in a lab had concerned him, but the practical applications of that knowledge were displayed for all to see. If Montgomery was as subtle as a sledgehammer, Prendergast was a screwdriver on a stripped bolt.

Collecting his thoughts over a last sip from his goblet, he rose and stepped towards the lectern. Spreading his arms wide, beaming a wide and genuine smile, he addressed the assembled throng with a polite cough that somehow seemed to echo through the room and allowed the discussions to fall naturally to silence.

"Well, that was rather splendid, and I trust we are all fed and watered and that the distance of a long summer is now behind us, with our new students less strangers, and more kindling friendships."

He paused for a moment to let that sink in. There seemed to be a general murmur of assent from across the room before him, even if behind him was slightly less in agreement.

"I have a few announcements for you for the start of term, which I shall keep short and then I shall leave the evening to you all as you see fit in your respective common rooms."

Dumbledore coughed, and blinked precisely once to remind himself of all the announcements.

"Firstly, new students should be aware that while the castle grounds are generally available for excursions in free periods, the Forest on the edge of the grounds is named the Forbidden Forest and students are - as the name suggests - forbidden from entering the forest unaccompanied by a staff member."

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled for a moment. "May I also remind returning students that the Forbidden Forest is indeed as forbidden as its name suggests."

A few enthusiastic laughs came from the Gryffindor table at that.

"Secondly, I regret to note that Mr Finlay has been unable to join us for today's feast. Do not be alarmed; Mr Finlay is fine and will rejoin us shortly and he is in fine health and eager to return to his studies."

There was a stony-faced reaction from the Ravenclaw table, especially from students more familiar and friendly with Larry. There was a palpable sense that answers will be inquired about.

"Lastly, the caretaker has asked me to remind students that magic in corridors is not permitted. Students who do perform magic in the corridors without appropriate permission may find themselves thoroughly entertained with an evening's detention cleaning the stones individually with water, soap and a toothbrush."

A few nervous laughs from each of the tables, but if Dumbledore had to guess, he would have thought the Slytherin table had been the most prominent.

Dumbledore smiled again, though this time it was not quite as genuine as his earlier one. He paused for a moment, but decided he was not feeling quite buoyant in spirits enough to ring in the new school year with a verse of Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, especially with the mood being what it currently was.

"And so, I leave it to the prefects and heads of house to guide you all to your dormitories and common rooms and I look forward to seeing you all bright and breezy tomorrow for classes!"

And with that, he clapped his hands and with a puff of smoke, was no longer visible in the Great Hall. He thought he would leave his 'vanishing' a mystery for others to solve, though in truth no mystery at all. Dumbledore didn't need an invisibility cloak to be unseen - and what he did need was time to think. Something must be done.