- (77.28KB, 500x333, hogwarts-school.jpg)
You begin to dismiss Alistair, but then pause and reconsider. As alumni, he may be of some use to you, in visiting Hogwarts, if only to provide an informed opinion of the teachers and location which you yourself currently lack.
"If you wish, the majority of my business is at Hogwarts proper from here, and your opinion may be of worth, to keep at hand."
"Well, so long as I get back home in time to lock myself up properly, it's all the same to me." Alistair says agreeably. You nod, and prepare to open a new portal to... no, not the inside of the headmaster's office. The school is not private, personal property, it seems, but simply bypassing the man's door seems like it would be a bit too much.
"I trust you already understand the folly of speaking about where you have been?" You say aloud.
"Hah. And here I never thought I'd understand old Lovegood's side of things. But yes, I'm in no hurry to be thought of as the latest madman about town. Not like the tales of werewolves are held in high regard anyway." He says dryly.
You nod, and within moments you both are standing before a large statue of a gargoyle, Alistair looking around in mild curiosity.
"Always understood you couldn't apparate onto Hogwarts grounds. Suppose that whatever this is, it's not apparation, though. Guess it doesn't count."
You frown at the statue, attempting to work out its secrets. Alistair hums to himself.
"... can't quite recall, but there was a password to get in, back when I was a student. Don't doubt they've changed it in the meantime, of course, but can't hurt... Caribou? .... Hm, seems not."
"I can simply shape the statue out of the way, if it comes to it." You note.
"Ah, let's give it a few minutes more before we move on to destructive solutions." Alistair responds warily, ignoring that the statue would not be harmed in any way, simply end up guarding a patch of wall five or six feet off. "Hm, maybe along the same theme... Reindeer? Stag? Buck?"
"In point of fact, the current password is 'chocolate truffle'." An amused voice comes from behind you, and the gargoyle obligingly moves aside.
"Ah... Dumbledore, sir." Alistair says, nervous counterpoint to your own calm "Albus."
"Pleasure to see you so soon, miss Knowledge." He says, bustling past you. "Perhaps we should speak in my office, if there are matters to discuss?"
The office sits at the top of the stairs, and is notably untidy. Papers are scattered all over Albus's desk, awaiting his attention, and one wall is set with shelves of whirring, buzzing, and flashing oddities. They clearly have some purpose, but it would take you some time to determine exactly what, and it likely isn't important to begin with. Another wall is set with paintings, it seems of previous Headmasters. They are moving within their frames as though they were alive, holding quiet conversations with one another. One is napping in a chair, and another has just wandered out of frame and disappeared. Curious. Off to the side, Albus' phoenix, Fawkes, is hunkered down on his new stand, seeming to be suspicious of your presence, worried you'll attempt to reclaim it. Nearby, a ratty looking hat is sitting on a shelf of its own. It appears to be mumbling quietly to itself, something about rhymes.
"You've caught me at a slightly bad time, I'm afraid." Albus admits, then holds out a bowl. "Lemon drop, either of you?"
You turn the offer down, but Alistair accepts one, and Albus takes one of his own before continuing.
"Yes, I'm afraid I'm still right in the middle of dealing with the aftereffects of yesterday's unfortunate discovery." He continues, around the candy. "I suppose you've heard? No? Hm... well, I'm sorry to be the one to pass on the information that Ollivander has recently left us. It was discovered late yesterday morning, after curious bystanders noted that he never had opened his store for business that day... well. They say that he was found smiling, in bed. One supposes there are worse ways to go."
"What, Ollivander's dead?" Alistair says, startled. "... I can remember back when the man sold me my own wand, decades ago. This is... a bit of a shock."
"Yes, indeed." Albus agreed. "Quite the unpleasant surprise, just before the start of the school year, but then these things are very rarely scheduled out in advance, and seldom happen at opportune times regardless. In any case, I have.. recently lost some of my clout with the ICW, but have nevertheless been in earnest correspondence with several individuals, and am pleased to say that Gregorovich will be stepping in to fill the gap, beginning tomorrow."
"Good." You say, uninterested in the chatter, though you consider the news of the craftsman's passing mildly unfortunate. "In any case, to business. To start, I have selected the course-book for Defense."
You set the book on Albus' desk, and he lifts it for a cursory inspection.
"Ah... it has been some time since one of these were set as official course material. I'm surprised you were able to locate... hm." His eyes flick quickly from a page near the front to Alistair, whose face is blank, and then drift back. He closes the book without ceremony. "Well, perhaps it is not such a surprise you were able to locate a copy. In any case, I suppose someone will have to alert the bookstores that they will need to have a number of new printings of these available for purchase."
"Quite." You say, accepting the tome as he hands it back. "In any case, I would also like a copy of the marks and records for the recurring students, and I will need to take inventory of your library, in order to set... supplementary reading lists, to determine which of the students take to extra study on their own without having it mandated."
"Badgers and ravens." Alistair says, before Albus even has a chance to respond.
".... Hm, yes, that does seem to be the trend." he agrees, shuffling about the drawers of his desk. "Hufflepuff is not a house that is afraid to raise their course marks through application of personal effort, and Ravenclaw will likely look into any book you mention out of simple intellectual curiosity. The other houses tend to be less academic, generally speaking, with some remarkable exceptions. Ah, here we are."
He withdraws a slightly rumpled envelope of papers, and with a quick mumbled word and motion of his wand, creates a duplicate of it before returning the original to its place. He hands the second to you.
"This should remain for, oh, a month perhaps. Likely far longer than you will require it for, but it will do. As for an inventory of the Library, I'm afraid you shall have to see madame Pince directly for that, and she is away dealing with family-related matters at the moment. I expect she will not return until Monday at the very earliest."
You have to bite back your urge to sneer at the shoddiness of creating something that will just disappear after a certain number of days. It is, however, the truth... in a month, the information within will be less than relevant to you, and in addition you don't doubt that it's somewhat sensitive. The sort of thing that simply lending out without thought could leave one in a great deal of trouble. Having the problem set to go away in advance would almost be considered something of a safety measure, and from that perspective you are surprised he gave you such a long period of time, rather than leave you with a day or three at most.
"I am told you have an apt healer present. If I could inquire as to the limits of her ability?" You ask.
"... Miss Knowledge, I should hope you don't intend to deliberately bring harm to your students." Albus says warningly.
"Not deliberately." You counter. "However, I am considering some classes which will likely, through various sources, involve a rather high risk of actual danger. I do not intend to allow any of my students to be permanently harmed, however if I simply step in and handle everything the moment things begin to take unfortunate turns, they will learn nothing aside from 'someone stronger will arrive to rescue you if you should err'."
"Such a gloomy philosophy. I don't doubt that madame Pomfrey will have many words to say to you through the term, few of them pleasant." Albus says, consideringly. "Even so, I must admit you raise a good point... and I have always noted Gryffindors, for example, to perform markedly better in actual heated situations than in theoretical lessons."
"Not necessarily well, but better, yes." Alistair says, almost to himself. "... Ah, no offense, headmaster."
"Oh, none taken, my dear boy." Albus said jovially. "We are something of a headstrong lot. In any case, so long as your students only endure a normal sort of damage, dear Pomfrey can reliably cure almost anything short of actual death. Severed limbs may take a day or two to fully reattach, of course, but it can be done so long as the limb in question is not destroyed beyond repair, or eaten, and regrowing bones is always a tricky matter, but there you have it. Most poisons, however, require more extensive therapy to entirely remove, and so toxic creatures would likely be better avoided, and there are a number of spells which are quite deliberately crafted to be difficult to cure properly, and so I should hope you would forbid their use as well, in case of duels or other more active lessons."
Albus calmly takes another lemon drop.
"... That aside, I had some questions regarding scheduling."
"Ah, yes. Normally, classes are held in one-and-one-half hour blocks, three of which are between breakfast and lunch, and two between lunch and dinner meals. This is by no means a hard and fast rule, however, as classes can be held more or less at the discretion of the instructors, though it helps to have things organized. Astronomy, for example, occurs well after the dinner meal. Of course, students will likely not be at their best if they have not yet eaten, or if it has drawn late and they are ready to sleep."
"Something I'll consider." You say, as you run through what else you had intended to do. Ah, yes.
"I will also inspect quarters and the classroom you intend me to use." You say.
Albus nods and rises, leading you out through the castle.
The classroom is in reasonable condition, though smaller than you would like. At a quick glance through the class rosters and scores, you very much doubt that you will be able to fit all four houses of a year inside at once. Two would just barely fit. If you decide to make unusual class meetings, it will likely not suffice. The quarters are slightly less pleasant to inspect. Albus waves a cobweb out of the way as he enters.
"It's a rather cozy room." He says, brightly.
"That... is, in theory, a word that could be used to describe it, I suppose." You respond.
The word you are thinking of, however, is 'small'. Also dingy, and poorly ventilated. The bed itself looks comfortable enough, but it's quite clear that the room has only been considered a temporary resting place at most. A great pile of the effects of previous defense instructors is visible in an attached room, and opening the closet reveals moth-eaten old clothes suitable for both genders. You close the door quickly, as the scent of moldering threads begins to tickle at your nose. The room itself is surprisingly clean, as though someone took care to dust and wipe it down every day, yet took deliberate pains not to touch any of the clothes or personal effects in any fashion, leaving them sit,
"... People have survived in this room?" You ask flatly, and Dumbledore shrugs.
"It is the allotted quarters for the Defense instructor." He says, without excuse or regret. "I believe that young Gilderoy insisted on differing accommodations, as it happens, but there have been no other complaints in the past decade or so. Some remodeling would be only to be expected, I suppose."
Your nose crinkles.
[ ] What do you do?