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Luna Lovegood and the Shaggy Dog

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This story is No. 17 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Current Donor)vidiconFR1529124,4703337264,72511 Oct 1125 Jun 14No

Slytherin to the future

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

To those who don’t read Lonely Souls I would strongly advise to read at least the chapters 75-86. Sorry about that… I am still working of altering my work notes sufficiently that they can become somewhat of a reader’s guide.

I considered adding a synopsis to this, but it would be as long, if not longer, as an actual chapter and take time from actual writing. If someone wants to do so, I will gladly post it. My apologies for the inconvenience. And my apologies for high ‘talking heads’ level of this chapter and the lack of Luna, Harry and the others. I assure you all they will be back in force next chapter!

Chapter 22 Slytherin to the future

The Hog’s Head Inn, Hogsmeade, January 7th 1996

The patrons at the inn grew silent as the door opened and a tall, thin, fur-clad man entered, his white beard spreading over his chest and stomach. He pushed back his hood and nodded amiably at the gathering, then made straight for the bar, gestured with his wand and cleaned a barstool of something that resembled vomit.

“A Black Beer, please,” he smiled at the surly bartender, who filled a mug of draught beer. It was dark, almost black in colour and a tarry, dark smell rose from it.

Albus sipped his beer, apparently enjoying it. “I’ll be needing to rent your upper room for a bit. There will be some staff changes at the School. Will that be possible, Aberforth?”

“‘S long as you pay, and let me know the dates in advance,” Aberforth replied. “Why ‘ere though?”

“The answer is still the same. If they’re thrown just by meeting here, they should not teach at Hogwarts,” Albus smiled. “I assume it’s still the same?”

Aberforth sighed. “Collum! Take the bar!” he lifted the hatch and stumped towards the stairs. “Come and see for yourself then!” he growled at Albus and ascended the creaky steps. Albus followed beer, in hand.

Once upstairs Aberforth cast a few privacy spells. “What’s so important that you had to come here and not send an owl?”

Albus put his mug down. “If you’d read my last letter, you would know.”

“I’m not interested in gossip, Albus! I don’t care what happens in the Wizengamot,” his younger brother growled.

“You should be, but no matter. I was referring to this,” Albus drew a wallet from his robe, unshrunk it and showed Aberforth the contents, two large colour pictures, one wizarding, one still.

Aberforth took a sharp breath. “Merlin… who is she?”

“Miss Kendra Young, soon to be adopted by Lord and Lady Vicari. She’s from Jamaica. She’s also a Potential Slayer. And a Sealed Squib, as far as I can tell,” Dumbledore sat down. “She was up at the Castle. I wanted you to meet her.”

“The letter?” Aberforth whispered. “Mebbe I should read my correspondence once in a while. So, you think she’s related?”

“We’ll do some research into her parents, but yes, I think so,” Albus smiled. “Not that we don’t have cousins everywhere, but this…”

Aberforth nodded. “This is different. And a Potential Slayer, you say?”

“Yes. I also met the current one. Charming girl. Named Buffy,” Dumbledore smiled.

Aberforth nodded approvingly. “Good, solid wizarding name. I assume she isn’t the wild creature the Ministry says they are?”

Albus chuckled. “Well, she’s American.”

Aberforth laughed. Then he grew serious again. “I s’pose you want me to go and check into young Kendra?”

“You do know more about the family, Aberforth. So I would be very grateful if you would,” Albus spread his hands. “I’ll pay for the journey of course, and anything else you need.”

Aberforth opened his mouth to protest but Albus interrupted. “Aberforth, this is family business.”

Aberforth smiled. “I s’pose it is. Jamaica then?”

“Jamaica is an excellent start. And if it’s a nice place, maybe we should take her there one day,” Albus smiled. “Discover our roots a bit.”

“Old and gnarly,” Aberforth smiled back. “Thanks for thinking about me, Albus. And I apologize for not reading my mail.”

“And I apologize for not sending a Patronus,” Albus chuckled. “You know, we ought to change our codes. This beer is really excellent and I can’t order it without making you think it’s an emergency.”

Aberforth nodded. “Still hate beer nuts?”

Albus shuddered. “Intensely!”

“There you are then,” Aberforth smirked.

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January7th 1996

Snape was looking at the fire burning in his hearth, drinking tea and wondering about the nature of family, life, happiness and guilt. There was a touch on his wards and he looked up, disturbed. Then there was a knock on his door. Very few people would be able to do that without being turned into something resembling eggs with soldiers, deep fried. Snape liked his privacy.

Severus sighed and gestured at the door. “Come in, Albus.”

Dumbledore entered a large leather folder full of parchment and paper under his arm. “Good evening, Severus.”

“What do you want?” Severus scowled.

“Lady Clarice presented me with a number of works used in the Muggle world to help deal with bullying. Minerva and I thought that it might be good if you took a look at them,” Albus handed the folder over.

Severus sighed. “Why me?”

“Because Severus, teachers can bully as well. The fact that your life at school was bad doesn’t mean that you should make the current students’ lives hell,” Albus told him, his voice firm. “I may be guilty of negligence about your time as a pupil, but do you really want me to continue to close my eyes to what you are doing?”

Snape glared at him. “Might I remind you I’m here because you want me to be? I could take up a position in a research establishment-”

Albus held up a hand. “Severus, I’ve spoken with Minerva. As you know, from next year there will be a considerable influx of pupils due to the upsurge in births after the war. We will need additional teachers, at least for some time. We would recruit a potions apprentice, who could teach the lower years. That would mean that you could teach only the fourth years and up, as well as train the apprentice to Mastery. I’ve made similar offers to all the other teachers of core classes and Minerva and Filius have already agreed. The others are considering it. The Defence teacher won’t get an Apprentice, but an assistant.”

Severus smirked. “Lupin’s not keeping the job?”

Albus sighed. “Until we find out how Tom cursed the position, I doubt anyone will be able to keep it for more than a single school year. And curse breaking is not in the school budget. None of us have been able to find it. And we’ve got an extraordinarily talented and powerful group of teachers, as you know.”

“I know. So, you want me to train an apprentice. Do I at least get to pick the one I want?” Snape sneered. “Or will you decide that for me as well?”

Albus chuckled. “You get to pick your own, of course, but with approval. I’ve no doubt that despite your disposition your reputation will lure a goodly number of applicants.”

“And what is in it for me?” Snape tapped his long, tapered fingers on the armrests.

“Well, your workload will lessen somewhat, but primarily it will allow you to concentrate on the more talented and determined students, including the Apprentice. That will also grant you more time for experimental brewing,” Albus smiled broadly. “I’m looking forward to it myself. I remember the way Horace used to marvel at your new creations.”

Severus snorted. “That was not the way he confronted me about it. I spent hours scrubbing cauldrons for every discovery I made.”

“You did tend to sneak into labs and brew without permission, Severus,” Albus pointed out.

“If I didn’t he’d hang over my shoulder all the time and comment how ‘That’ll never work, ‘m’boy’,” Snape grimaced. “Cauldron scrubbing was preferable.”

Albus chuckled. “Quite. That leaves us with the problem of what Tom will do if he returns any time soon.”

Severus sighed. “I’ve been contemplating that for a while. As you say, if you order me to be less abrasive to the pupils, the fact that I want to remain here to spy on you should counter any suspicions. I’ll no doubt gather a few remarks in your files about the treatment of normal-borns in my classes,” he gestured with his hands. “If I want to remain believable I can’t ditch all of my supposed beliefs.”

Albus nodded agreement. “I was thinking about sending official letters to all of the teachers, with a warning in yours, and Minerva’s. She does tend to rage about Slytherins a bit.”

“She lost her brothers and her husband to Slytherins, Albus,” Severus pointed out.

Albus shook his head. “Grindelwald had no use for Houses, only views. And most of those involved in the attack on McGonagall Manor were foreign, graduates of the Mondschein and Durmstrang. Just like not all of Tom’s followers are Slytherins, nor all his enemies Gryffindors.”

Severus pursed his lips. “If you’ll forgive me, I’ll be far away during that conversation.”

Albus waved a hand. “Young Amelia has cheered her up greatly,” he coughed. “And I understand that she may have made peace with the Warren family, as well.

He looked at the fire. “I’ll need to think about how I’ll treat Miss Granger. She comes from two lines, both of which produced wizards and witches. Riddle might accept she comes from Squib lineages that have recovered their magic.”

“That might work quite well,” Albus nodded approvingly, “What about Lucius and Narcissa?”

Severus sighed. “It depends. I can try and convince Riddle that I’m hoping to sway them back to his side, but I doubt he’ll accept that, considering what he did to their children. I might be able to convince him I’m keeping close to Draco and at the very least neutralizing the Bedells politically through my position as Regent of the Vicari.”

“Yes, being Draco’s godfather should help there,” Albus mused.

Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. “Simon and I are thinking about ways of keeping the Vicari money and lands out of Riddle’s grasp when war comes. He probably will cast me out publicly.”

“That will be hard on you, I fear,” Albus leaned forward. “Before, there was just you, but now? Now you’re no longer alone.”

“Thank you for your platitudes, Dumbledore. I shall remember them with great fondness while Riddle casts Sectumsempra up my arse,” Severus rejoined.

Albus grimaced. “Graphic, Severus. At least he lacks Grindelwald’s preferences in torture.”

“Does he? He wasn‘t exactly stable the first time round, Albus. And I can’t think of a method that might bring him back that will restore his sanity. Can you?” Severus asked pointedly.

“No. So we will just have to get at as many Horcruxes as we can and then hope it was all of them,” Albus admitted. “I wish Harry was a little older. We could use him on this.”

“He’s an annoying brat Albus, not some strategic genius,” Severus growled.

“I admit he can do with a little common sense in some ways, but even Jon admits that those involved in prophecies tend to understand more about the situations they’re involved with than others,” Albus reminded him.

“So? Talk to him. Get Molly and Arthur in here, and explain the Prophecy to him, and that we’ll do our utmost to make sure that he lives through it and that he gets a good childhood. Tell him the things that are not too horrible, and then ask him what he thinks. If you really must, at least let him know what he’s in for too,” Severus yawned.

“I wouldn’t want him to worry…” Albus countered.

“Talk to Minerva and Filius and Silvanus. I’m sure they’ll all agree,” Severus yawned again. “I’m going to bed, Albus. Good night.”

Dumbledore sighed and rose, leaving the Potion Master’s quarters, and their surly inhabitant, alone in the dark.

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The Headmaster’s office, 9th of January

The pupils had returned to Hogwarts and with them Chaos. The quiet, serene atmosphere that hung in the castle when it was empty had disappeared completely. And Albus Dumbledore liked it that way. The school without the children always had held something cold and desperate to him, as if she needed the children, their youth and vigour, to maintain herself.

Dumbledore knew that was nonsense, but he had investigated the feeling since the first day he had become a teacher. There was something alive about Hogwarts, and more than most people thought or felt comfortable with. Finally, after he became headmaster and had the opportunity to communicate with her more, and study at least some of her secrets, he realised what it was. Hogwarts felt lonely without the children.

Albus knew that Hogwarts had only become a school fifty years after the castle had been finished. And it had been begun much earlier, only for construction to be abandoned, and then picked up again. For fifty years it had been used as some sort of fortress, and then the Founders had taken over. Albus had decided that someone had tried to corrupt the Nexus and that the Founders had stepped in and, by creating a school for all wizarding children, had made it neutral ground, had protected it from many who would have tried to control and corrupt it themselves and had inspired a dozen other schools to arise within a few decades, even if most of them had disappeared again.

Now he stood waiting for the Heads of House and wondering just slightly what they would think of his proposals.

The door opened and they filed in, by order of seniority: Filius, Pomona, Minerva and finally Severus.

“You wanted to see us, Headmaster?” Minerva spoke, as Deputy Headmaster.

“Yes, I wanted to put my proposals concerning the changes I deem necessary to preserve Hogwarts as the premier Wizarding preparatory school in the world before you all,” Dumbledore smiled.

Severus snorted. “You’re too late then, at least according to Maxime and Karkaroff.”

“Severus, behave,” Minerva sighed.

Filius sat down on the provided chair. “Beyond the changes in the curriculum and the addition of Apprentices?”

Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, beyond those.”

Filius nodded. “I see. And what other changes do you have in mind?”

Dumbledore continued, “Besides the things I discussed with each of you, a restructuring of the curriculum of History of Magic, with a new teacher and an assistant teacher, I wish to invite Narcissa Malfoy to teach magical culture. That may change later, if Charity is willing and able to compare the magical and the Non-magical worlds.”

There were murmurs of agreement. All had been taught by Binns, except for Filius, and the Ghost Professor was quite frankly a disgrace.

“If I may say so, having heard Charity discuss her lesson plans, she needs an urgent update on what is current in the Normal world,” Severus suggested quietly. “Most of our pupils would be absolutely helpless even twenty feet from the Leaky Cauldron without their wands.”

“Really, Severus? You could do better?” Minerva almost snarled.

Snape gave her a level look. “I may not have lived in the Muggle world much, Minerva, but I grew up in it until I was eleven and lived in it every summer until I was seventeen. It would take me considerable less time to get reacquainted with it than it will take Charity to learn about it. She’s a good woman and an earnest teacher, but even Miss Granger left her class because it has little to do with reality.”

Minerva glared. “She told me her schedule was just too full!”

Snape shrugged. “You don’t listen to the little bas- darlings enough when they gossip and giggle in the Library.”

“I fear Severus might be right, Minerva,” Filius said regretfully. “All our young visitors were quite… errr… surprised about her lack of knowledge.”

Minerva glared at Snape and then smiled wickedly. “Maybe Severus should fill in for her while she gets some remedial lessons.”

Pomona snorted with laughter at Snape’s ice-cold expression. “When hell freezes over.”

Minerva sighed. “Very well, I suppose you’re right. But I fear that with the speed Mug- Normal culture changes, Charity might spend all her time just keeping up.”

Albus nodded. “True, true. I have discussed the possibility of placing,” Albus consulted his notes. “Computers with an interest connection, with Patrick Madison and Victor Bennett. They have pointed out a number of problems that may be difficult to overcome.”

“Do tell,” Snape smirked.

“Since I’m utterly lost in this matter, and Severus obviously has a far greater grasp of such things than any of us, I propose we delegate the research into the realisation of technology at Hogwarts to him. I suggest we take a vote, all in favour raise your hand.” Albus responded smoothly.

Four hands shut up. Snape glared at his smugly grinning elder colleagues. “May you be locked into a cupboard with a boggart and no wand,” he growled.

Minerva smiled saccharinely and turned to Dumbledore. “Any other plans, Albus?”

Dumbledore nodded. “Revised timetables so all the houses take classes together, and we may have to discuss if we should separate the quickest from the slower students from the Second year on.”

Filius looked intrigued. “So they mingle more? Yes, that would work. A few of my Ravens could do with a little spicing up. And a few of your Lions with some decent study habits, Minerva.”

“I can support that. I’m not so sure about separating them by ability. Maybe some extra classes for the smart ones?” Pomona suggested. “I fear that some would be left behind without the encouragement of their friends.”

Filius smiled. “And all can use the loyalty and support of the Hufflepuffs. Anything else, Albus?”

“Poppy has agreed to teach a course in what every young wizard and witch should know about their own bodies, as well as a first aid and healing electives, to include potions, transfigurations and charms that deal with such matters. It can be done in the Old Infirmary, which is larger, even if less natural light is available,” Albus smiled. “It should be close enough for pupils to find her in case of accidents or emergencies.”

There were approving murmurs.

“Astronomy will become a third year elective. As Molly Weasley pointed out, eleven year olds should not be up until midnight. And it isn’t really used until and unless pupils also take Ancient Runes OWLS, or Alchemy,” Albus sighed. “Still no interest?” he asked hopefully.

Minerva shook her head. “Sorry Albus. Maybe Miss Granger when she’s old enough. But we were discussing changes?” she added hastily as Albus seemed ready to start bemoaning the fact that in the last two decades only two pupils had shown an interest in his specialty.

“Quite right, quite right,” Albus said regretfully. “I think we’ll add a school counsellor. To be available part time. I considered Poppy, but she will be quite busy, so I think I shall approach Molly Weasley.”

“Please. And maybe she can control the Twins,” Pomona scowled. “Poor Rebecca Ainsworth was scared into the Venomous Tentacula today!”

“Indeed. I shall have some words with both of them,” Albus stated sternly. “A joke or prank is one thing, but they should be aware of the risks their actions carry. Most importantly, Poppy has informed me Miss Ainsworth has recovered well and will be going back to class tomorrow.”

He leaned back and looked at Minerva, who nodded. “And finally, a Deputy Headmaster who is not a Head of House.”

There was no immediate reaction as all three other Heads of House sat still to absorb this. Pomona was the first to speak. “Minerva?”

“He’s right. We pulled the records. Both Albus and I were appalled at how much we’ve been favouring the Gryffindors. And I want to have some more spare time,” a brittle little smile touched Minerva’s lips. “It’s not as if I need the money.”

Fillius patted her hand. “Of course not. And I suppose you’ll be visiting young Amelia?”

“Amy has told me that if I use that name in public, she will find a way to change me into a rat and hand me to Mrs. Norris,” Minerva smiled indulgently. “So much like me at that age.”

Filius coughed. “Quite. I remember it well.”

Albus smiled. “Indeed… Minnie.”

Minerva glared at both of them and Albus coughed before continuing. “I will also expect you all to stop favouring your Houses in class or when punishment must be levied. All should get equal grades and points for the same meritorious and punishable acts. I’ll work with all of you on what we think are reasonable rewards and punishments and if we run into some we haven’t covered, we’ll discuss it in the Staff meetings. Once we’ve ironed out the problems I think that we’ll have a very good system. Filius, can you stay behind to sketch out a Record book for those? Tied to the Points Glasses, perhaps?”

Filius nodded. “Let’s first discuss what we want, then see how we may achieve it.”

“Quite right. Now, all of you! Minerva has realised that her introduction to the Houses prior to sorting has influenced far too many pupils. We all must make sure we do not denigrate the other Houses. Other than at Quidditch games,” Albus deadpanned.

Pomona laughed. “Absolutely! Now, Albus, you’ve skirted around the subject of the new History of magic teacher and the new Deputy Head. Who did you have in mind?”

“Yes, who did you have in mind for that? That Bagshot woman?” Severus sneered.

“No, I fear that Bathilda, worthy though she is, is too old and infirm. I have approached Eckhart Eddington to be Deputy. He will teach History of magic as well,” Albus twinkled.

Minerva gasped and Filius frowned.

“Eddington?” Snape frowned. “The name seems familiar... He teaches at the Mondschein Akademie, I recall? And he wrote a book on the conflict with Grindelwald that rather undermined your image, didn't he?”

Albus chuckled. “No more than the truth, Severus. I've never liked praise I didn't deserve. A lot of the people who fought in that war have gotten only a smidgeon of the honour they deserved,” he gestured at Flitwick. “Eckhart is merely correcting that.”

“Well, I for one am glad that he has experience teaching,” Snape stated pointedly. “Rather too few of us did when we began, you know.”

“True, quite true. And yes, he did. He taught at Salem before Mondschein. He was educated at Mondschein, but moved to Britain, but was then forced to leave the country some time ago, regrettably,” Albus frowned.

“Does Sybill know?” Minerva asked quietly.

“Trelawny? Why does she need to know?” Severus asked.

“He’s her father,” Minerva replied.

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Sybill Trelawney’s Office, Friday 12th of January 1996

Sybill Trelawney was in her inner office when the Headmaster came in unannounced. She looked up in annoyance, her attention torn from the huge and intricate starmap she was studying and her extensive notes beside them. “Headmaster?”

“Sybill. We need to talk,” Albus stated quietly as he sat down.

“About what?” Sybill asked rather rudely as she eyed him warily. She knew very well what most people’s opinion of her was. She’d worked very hard at her reputation for a fraud, but that only worked if she didn’t get into the public too much. Too many people would set off her talent and that was a sure-fire way to end up in someone’s dungeon, making prophecies under the influence of very damaging and nasty drugs. It would be very ironic if it backfired now and she got sacked.

“We’re hiring a new History of Magic teacher, starting next School Year,” Albus didn’t meet her eyes.

“And? Why would it be important that I know…” Sybill swallowed. “Oh. I see. Living teacher. So he needs wages… W-will he need my quarters as w-well?” Sybil thought she kept her equilibrium remarkably well, considering the message she’d just thought she’d received.

Albus shook his head. “No, no, you’ll remain on staff. No…” he hesitated. “His name is Eckhart Eddington.”

It was, Albus mused later over a cup of honeyed tea, a good thing he had both Poppy and Hagrid waiting outside as Sybill had collapsed into a dead faint. He congratulated himself about waiting until Friday to tell her as well. She’d have the weekend to recover and hopefully the pupils wouldn’t notice.

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The Headmaster’s office, 12th of January, later that evening

“Well, that went down like a lead balloon,” Severus played with his teacup.

“Quite,” Albus acknowledged. “But it is past time she reconciled with him.”

“Hmph. Well, if it all works. Wasn’t Eddington exiled for some reason?” Severus asked.

Albus snorted. “Allegedly for stealing critical information from the Ministry and leaking it to the press. In reality the Blacks hoped to marry one of their sons to Sybill and were all too delighted to help her mother and grandmother to get a divorce and be rid of him.”

“You didn’t help?” Severus smirked, “Won’t earn you points there.”

“I wasn’t nearly as influential then as I am now, Severus. I was barely able to keep him out of Azkaban. But happily with both Lucius and Cornelius working with me we can undo a great deal of damage that has been done to our justice system, but we will be using up a lot of favours,” Albus grinned. “And I’ve got the Regent of Vicari on my side this time.

Severus ignored the dig at his new status. “We may need those favours later, Albus,” Severus pointed out. “When Riddle returns.”

Albus nodded. “Yes, but we don't know when he will return. As Jon pointed out when I told him the Prophecy, there's no time table included. That means we will do our best to train Harry to fight him. And we will make clear to the boy that he won’t be fighting alone.”

“What about the plan to locate the Horcruxes?” Snape asked after casting a couple charms make doubly sure no one was eavesdropping even in the Headmaster’s Office.

“A failure,” Dumbledore sighed. “Though I must admit that I would like to be present when Jon scolds your brother like a schoolboy.”

Severus raised an eyebrow. “Do tell?”

“It would be quite funny if the matter were not so serious,” Albus nevertheless smiled slightly. “Apparently, your esteemed brother didn’t pay enough attention to the translation of your ultimate ancestor’s personal journals when he was younger.”

Snape’ eyebrow rose a marginal inch more. “Do explain, Albus. Stop being so bloody enigmatic.”

Albus chuckled. “As every heir to the title has done, Simon studied the writings of Simonides, who indeed tracked down both the Horcrux created by Herpo and the man himself, one after the other. But the only reason he could do this was because of their close relationship and the fact that Herpo used the murder of Alexandros, Simonides’ Twin, to create his Horcrux,” Albus sighed. “And as I doubt that you’re that closely related to Tom, or to the victims he used to create his Horcruxes, it is highly unlikely that anyone can just trace them. Especially seeing that one of the most powerful and inventive Wizards in the world did it the last time.”

Severus closed his eyes. “Well. That’s a pity. So what other options do we have?”

Albus stroked his beard. “Luckily the Vicari library does contain a great deal of information regarding Horcruxes, including the actual research done by Herpetius.”

Severus’ tea obviously disagreed with him and he coughed the offending fluid up, his eyes wide. “They have that? Whatever for?”

Albus nodded. “That was just about my reaction, yes. Jon tells me that the notes are quite clear. Herpo researched the consequences of fracturing the soul more than once,” the old man shivered.

“Using others as his guinea pigs. He came to the conclusion that one Horcrux already led to dangerous instability and increased the chance of what Jon calls ‘various psychoses’. Two led to irrational decisions and decreasing self-control. Herpetius stopped his research since it was clear he wouldn’t get any results. I shudder to think what creating more than two Horcurxes did to Tom’s mind.”

“Riddle wasn’t very stable to begin with, I’d suppose. How did Herpo deal with the problem?” Severus asked curiously.

“Apparently he spent fifty years or so practicing his brewing skills and improving crops, wheat especially,” Albus replied. “Until his faculties had returned to their previous levels. It also helped him avoid his brother’s wrath.

“Improving crops?” Severus managed weakly. “Herpo the Foul?”

“Yes. You have to remember that wealth derived almost completely from agriculture back then. He wanted wealth, and slaves and better food crops would ensure that,” Albus smiled. “Quite a difference from Tom, really.”

“I can’t imagine Riddle being interested in something so… mundane… ever,” Severus admitted.

“Quite true, neither can I. Or most wizards, actually. We would be woefully lost without the crop and livestock improvements of the Muggle world,” Albus smiled.

“Which brings us back to the current problem, how do we deal with the changed circumstances? Mine specifically.” Severus asked.

Albus frowned. “Well, the advantage we have is that Simon is a Channeler and a ‘Muggle’ and has expressed his clear dislike of Tom and his ideas the first time round. It won’t be difficult to make you ‘toe the family line’ on important decisions using ‘Muggle’ communications, which admittedly are faster than Magical ones.”

Severus sighed. “Yes, yes. Can you stop with the air quotes, Albus?”

Albus was too old to pout, but Severus could have sworn he saw one.

“The basic idea is sound. I can also explain that without obedience, he will cut off my stipend. Hmmm…” Severus smiled. “I think I shall keep most of my money in Normal investments and use the income to rebuild the Prince Estates. That is what would be expected of me, after all. And it will suck up money like a sponge to get them anywhere near profitable inside a decade. And the rest can be used to gather information on the Slytherin family holdings and possibly to buy some of them. Then I can ‘donate’ a variety of ruins to the ‘Dark Lord’ when he returns.”

Albus smiled at Snape’s air quotes. “Infectious, isn’t it? Young Xander taught me that. A good plan.”

“That merely leaves the fact that most of the Wizengamot won’t hesitate to support Riddle in any way short of actually joining him,” Severus pointed out.

Albus sighed. “That will be a long-term project, Severus. They fear Normals. Our economy, that of the whole wizarding world, is quite honestly a joke. We need trade with the Normal world, probably through the channelers. Rowan pointed out that quite a lot of what we do might not even be seen as magic anymore. Technology can do a lot, and some of it better. So we might be able to sell some things without breaking the Statute of Secrecy.”

“A lot of our craftsmen could produce more. There’s an upsurge of Normals who want hand-crafted products and are willing to pay well for them,” Severus smiled at the memory of the reaction his quite simple furniture had gotten from his sister and sister-in-law.

“We can use that, yes. But still it will take time to show that Normals aren’t inferior, cattle, or dangerous,” Albus smiled. “Which brings me to why I’m here. If we can get an influx of Muggle-borns into Slytherin, we can decisively change the Pureblood nature of the house while not changing either the ambition or the cunning.”

Severus coughed. “Impossible! They would be eaten alive!”

“Not under the new rules, Severus. And a few more Purebloods sorted into the other Houses won’t damage matters either,” Albus smile turned positively wicked.

“The Hat agrees with you, doesn’t it?” Severus asked with resignation.

“Indeed it does,” Albus nodded happily.

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Office of the Minister of Magic

Cornelius Fudge sat looking at the Book. It normally posed as the cover for his stash of Firewhisky, which itself was supposedly transfigured from ‘Precedent and Jurisprudence of the Lords of the Third Rank of the Wizengamot, Volume III’.

He sometimes thought everybody knew he had the whiskey hidden there. It amazed him they didn’t realize he seldom drank from it. He leafed through the book, wincing as he caught the last entry. *I was going to cut that poor girl up for spell components. I can’t believe I actually thought of that.*

He closed the Book and tapped the cover. It held his plan, his master plan, to destroy Dumbledore and Riddle. Destroy their respective powerbases in the Wizengamot and elsewhere. Destroy them for what they had done to his wife, his family. *Magda would flay me if she knew what I’d become.* He sighed and grabbed a Memo sheet, scrawled a few untidy lines to Amelia Bones and gathered a heap of papers together that would mean the end of his political career and possibly his life as a free man. *At least we now have a way to destroy the Dementors,* was his wry thought.
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