Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: FoM :: 03 :: Enter Stage Left

03 • Enter Stage Left

June 2000

Chase was not a stupid man, by any stretch of the imagination, and his time in Australia had done much to firm up his once shaky control over both temper and reactionary qualities. It had also given him the space to learn all that he needed, and to come to terms with Ron’s betrayal. He had decided, after some investigation, that Occlumency would very likely serve to protect his mind from the intrusions and depredations of his father.

Further entries in Peter’s journal had revealed nothing of particular importance, though it had served to show that Peter had continued to record his thoughts about Harry Potter during his first three years at Hogwarts. Where he had been keeping the journal Chase didn’t know, but it was obvious he had returned to the school long enough to retrieve it before scuttling off like the rat he was to find his master.

Peter had been fairly annoyed about Sirius’s rescue from the dementors.

Later on had voiced his thoughts about his escape from the Shrieking Shack.

However, Chase thought what he had written about his return to Voldemort was bizarre.

The final entry was written not long before the conclusion of the Triwizard Tournament.

And, given that Chase himself was in possession of the journal, he could only assume that his father had killed Peter at some point, though whether it was before or after finding the journal he couldn’t say. Of course, he couldn’t even be sure that it had been Voldemort who had found it.

Chase sighed and flipped his hair back. He had refused to cut it, even when his supervisor had repeatedly given him grief over the matter. Why the man cared was a complete mystery. He was becoming very bored with life, and frustrated with working for the Ministry. The paperwork alone was enough to make a person want to try to prove that death by papercut was actually possible. So he gave serious consideration again to something his information network had uncovered.

It seemed that Hagrid was considering retiring from teaching and staying strictly to his duties as Groundskeeper. While he could not return as his original self, he could, perhaps, see about applying for the Magical Creatures professor. And, he did have valid experience, even if he had not actually taught. Dumbledore was rather lax on that point, as he well knew.

“Of course,” he said to no one, “there is that prophecy to consider. Am I supposed to kill or be killed? Or does that matter now? He did mark me, sure, but does that really make me the person the prophecy spoke of? Or has changing my identity negated that aspect of things?”

He looked over at his owl, now named Hypatia. She didn’t seem to have an opinion. That might have been because she looked to be asleep, but she could be ignoring him. With a sigh he rose and headed for his bedroom.

Several more days of thought saw him sitting at his desk composing a letter to one Albus Dumbledore. He had already informed Aberforth of his intentions.

Headmaster Dumbledore,

It has come to my attention that you may be in need of a new Care of Magical Creatures professor for the coming year. To that end, let me here state my interest in such a position should it become available.

While I have not taught in any formal setting, I have worked for the Australian Ministry of Magic, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Beast Division, for several years now. As I have a wide range of experience with various creatures due to that, I feel my knowledge could translate nicely to this new application.

Naturally, I am including a curriculum vitae for your perusal, as well as something I believe you may find of particular interest.

I would be pleased to hear from you on this matter, even if it is merely to say that my informants were, in fact, mistaken.

Regards,
Chase Caesura

*

Thousands of miles away and several days later, the headmaster of Hogwarts was reading a letter in his office while bemusedly rolling a familiar ring between his fingers. After very little internal debate, he wrote back with a slight smile on his face and a decided twinkle in his eyes.

4-5 August 2000

Chase, after crossing the equator, spent the night at the Leaky Cauldron. The next morning he went to Gringotts in order to arrange for access to his Australian funds and did a little shopping before gathering his trunk and apparating to Hogsmeade, then walking up toward the castle. After stepping through the gates he turned off toward Hagrid’s hut, noticing as he progressed that another building was nearby, just as expected. The small cottage looked cozy enough from the outside and was set midway between the hut and the greenhouses.

He stepped inside and looked around, smiling. He didn’t bother to investigate, but instead merely directed his trunk to an open spot on the floor and went back out, heading over to knock on Hagrid’s door. On receiving no answer, he strolled up to the castle and entered to be met by Professor McGonagall, though he played dumb as to her identity.

“You must be Mr Caesura.” When he nodded she said, “I am Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmaster. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“And I you,” he said with a polite smile.

“Please call me Minerva. And, if you’ll allow me, I’ll show you to the teachers’ lounge.”

“That would be lovely. I’m rather anxious to meet everyone.”

Chase actually needed the guidance, never having been in the staff section of the castle. Or if he had, he couldn’t remember it. Minerva was happy enough to point out things along the way in between asking him about the living conditions in Australia. He got the distinct impression that she had no idea who he really was, and that suited him just fine.

The more people he could deal with on a fresh basis, the better. The fewer preconceptions he had to work around, the less frustration he would have to suffer. On the other hand, it did mean that it was likely he would be regarded with some suspicion as an unknown entity. Snape would be one example.

Eventually they reached their destination and she introduced him to everyone present, then waved him into a seat. No sooner than they had both sat down did lunch appear on the long table. He spent quite a bit of time covertly checking out each person, especially Zabini. Chase found it very intriguing that the Defense position had fallen to the hands of a Slytherin. And, wonder of wonders, he had been able to keep it two years already and was entering a third.

Obviously, there was something more to the man than simply good luck. That he was sitting next to Snape was also interesting, and the two of them seemed to get on quite well. His eyes then wandered over to Albus, who appeared to be in a particularly good mood. After a moment the headmaster met his gaze, gave a tiny nod, then went back to twinkling merrily at everyone.

The meeting itself, once they were done eating, was little more than the formality of welcoming everyone back. Once that was settled, Albus rose and said, “Mr Caesura, I would be pleased if you would follow me to my office. After we have had a chance to talk, I am quite sure that Hagrid would love to help you become acquainted with all that you will need for the coming year.”

“Of course,” he said, rising as well. After giving a nod to those still seated, Chase followed Albus out the door. The walk to his office was silent, and once within that bastion he took a seat and aimed a friendly smile at the headmaster.

“I realize I did not say much in my response to your application, so let me say now what I would not say then,” Albus began. “I was very interested in what you sent to me. It was a most thoughtful gesture.”

“I’m pleased that you think so,” Chase responded. He did recall that any number of portraits could be listening in, and that Dumbledore had been quite adamant about none of them hearing anything of value that night several years ago. “I thought it was only polite.”

“It certainly factored into my decision to hire you. And, of course, your most impressive record with the Ministry.”

Chase smiled slightly and said, “I allow that it became tiresome after a while filling out an endless parade of forms in triplicate. I thought teaching would be a refreshing change, even though one must expect yet more paperwork. Still, even with the current climate here, I was very much interested in seeing this country, or at least, parts of it. Sometimes a person must take risks.”

Albus tilted his head slightly. “You know, there is a magnificent view from one of the upper floors of this office. Would you be interested in seeing it?”

“I think that would be lovely.”

“Splendid, dear boy.” Albus rose and started for the staircase, so Chase followed suit.

After winding up several floors, he noticed that there were no longer any portraits to be seen, and wondered if they would finally get down to brass tacks. They ended up in a cupola of sorts, one that gave an almost three-sixty view of the grounds.

Albus turned to him and gave him a frank look. “I did not know.”

Chase arched a brow and, after a moment, said, “What, my father?”

“Yes. I truly did not know.”

Chase shrugged and spread his hands. “I think I can safely say it came as . . . as much of a shock to me, if not more, than it would have for you. It helped little what I read after that point. However, the past five years have been a time of massive adjustment. You might be interested to know that I learned of a little something called Occlumency, and mastered it. I do not think I am in much danger here in that respect.”

“That is very good news. Interesting look, dear boy.”

Chase smirked and said, “Aside from one or two small details it is natural, Albus. Imagine my surprise when my birthday produced such results, among others, and was extremely painful in the bargain. I could be angry with you for not warning me, but I am long since past that point of childishness.”

Albus stroked his beard for a minute before giving him a speculative look. “The degree of pain gives some indication of a number of things. Unfortunately, I was rather preoccupied at the time with other details. As you did return the ring, I think I can safely assume one of your new abilities.”

“Yes, you could. So tell me, is this Ethos organization what I think it is, a front?”

Albus twinkled and nodded. “Blaise has been a member since his last year here at Hogwarts and has been able to inform me of a number of things.”

“Then I assume he straddles the line without having gone over.”

“Yes, quite so. Are you willing to tell me your thoughts or feelings on your father?”

Chase took a moment to lean out one of the arches, glad that he was not in any way susceptible to a fear of heights. Then he turned back and said, “I cannot help who he is. It was hardly my choice. I find it somewhat amusing to realize that I am still a half-blood, actually. As for him specifically, I have often speculated on whether or not he has stepped up his attacks because he lost me before I could be converted, or simply that I am, to all accounts, dead.”

Albus tilted his head slightly to the side as he spoke, then said, “You wonder if he might have been willing to step down, is that it?”

“Anything is possible, Albus. I don’t think there’s any harm in having considered it. I know, it is more likely that he’s angry because his son could not or would not follow in his footsteps. I wonder how he would react to the knowledge that I am alive.”

“Not Harry Potter.”

Chase shook his head. “I simply wonder what would happen if he alone found out. Speaking of which, who does? Just you?”

“The fewer people who knew, the less chance of an accident. I am the only one aside from your neighbor.”

Chase found that interesting. If Albus’s word could be trusted on the matter, and if Chase were a different kind of man, he could, in theory, kill the old man and know that his secret was safe after similarly dealing with Aberforth. On the other hand, it could simply be that Albus was admitting to it as a show of faith and trust. “Then I expect Padfoot may have gone somewhat mad.”

“He did not take the news well, but by that, I do not mean parentage.”

Chase allowed his reaction of surprise to come through openly.

“He was inclined to believe it was mere rumor, or irrelevant, as he did not see that Harry would ever have gone to Voldemort willingly. News of his death, however, hit him very hard. It appears that there are spies within their ranks that are not inclined to assist us, but rather to stir up more trouble for both sides. However, it has been some time since any sensationalist news has surfaced, so it might be that Voldemort found those leaks and silenced them.”

“Where is he?”

“Chase, with the advent of Voldemort’s second rise, an organization founded during the first has been reinstated. The Order of the Phoenix. Sirius is at our headquarters, quite safe.”

“Who—” Chase shook his head and started over. “Is Weasley the only one. . . ?”

“I see you have learned caution in your years. I am sure that there are many who turned away. However, among the Order there is no one. And, you might be interested to know that people such as Miss Granger and Miss Weasley are also of the opinion that Harry was unfairly maligned and persecuted. Mr Weasley seems to be the only one who has developed such views, aside from his brother Percy. As it is, they live together in London, apart from the family entirely.”

Chase let loose a unreserved smile. “Though I think that Harry could never return, I am very relieved by that information. In fact, I think that any such news of Harry would only stir a great deal of anger and resentment, if you take my meaning.”

“I am inclined to agree.”

Chase, tired of standing, conjured up a chair and sank into it, then looked up at Albus and said, “Thank you. And, I am . . . glad . . . to see you again. Stella sends her regards, I’m sure, though by now she may already be back in her former home.”

Albus conjured his own chair and sat, saying, “Yes, I had received word that my brother was considering a change of scenery. He was quite insistent that things would not be the same without his neighbor.”

Chase grinned broadly. “That is a very strange community, Albus, though on the whole, quite nice. Refreshing to see people make fun of themselves in such an odd way.”

“I had hoped you would appreciate the inherent humor,” Albus said with a twinkle. “I have considered extending you an offer to join the Order, Chase. I realize that as a complete stranger there would be some resistance to the idea, but as Head of the Order, I can overrule that. Were you to accept, you would need to be aware of that. Though, it would give you a chance to spend time around those you might wish to see without having to go to great lengths to manufacture excuses. As you might expect, the worst of the resistance would come from Severus, Moody, and possibly Sirius.”

Chase opened his mouth to speak, then snapped it shut, considering. Then, “Would Remus suspect anything?”

Albus stroked his beard for a moment, then peered at him over the rims of his spectacles. “Given your marked change in appearance, I have to wonder exactly what was done to you originally, and if these changes brought about with them ones that would, in fact, mask your actual identity from his senses.”

Chase sighed heavily and grimaced. He did not want to reveal the journal to anyone, but Peter’s words did serve as some kind of proof as to Albus’s speculations. The more people who knew of it. . . . “Albus, I know about the prophecy.”

Albus’s brows rose in gentle astonishment. “Indeed.”

“If I were to—could I have your word of honor not to reveal something, no matter how tempting it might be?”

“I confess that I am mightily curious now. It is not often that anyone is able to shock me. However, you look quite serious in this. Yes, I will go so far as to give a Wizard’s Oath on the matter.”

Chase smiled tentatively. “We’ll need to go down to my cottage, then.”

*

Chase rummaged around in his trunk, trying to remember which compartment he had stored the journal in, and eventually finding it in the sixth. He pulled out a box decorated with elaborate runes and placed it on a nearby table, closed the trunk and sat down.

Once Albus had made his Oath, Chase set about dismantling the protective wards and opened the box. As he handed the journal over he said, “I think this will explain a great deal, Albus. I received it shortly before you came for me.”

As none of the entries were that lengthy, it did not take Albus long to read all of them. He looked back up with a grave expression and serious eyes. “This is . . . disturbing.”

Chase held out his hand as a prompt, then took back the journal and returned it to its box. That went back into his trunk after he had reset the wards. “That would be an understatement, Albus.”

“Do you know who sent it to you?”

Chase shook his head and produced a mirthless smile. “No idea. Not with any certainty. It could have been Voldemort. It arrived, as I said, not long before you came for me. I honestly expected at that point that you’d come for exactly that reason. I was shocked to realize that it was because of something else entirely.”

“This is why you wonder as to Voldemort’s motives?”

Chase nodded. “Precisely. If it was him it could have been for one of two reasons. I also strongly suspect that Peter is dead. If that’s the case, he can’t be used as a means to clear Sirius’s name. I, Chase, must have some kind of a role to play in all this.”

“Do you think you could enter his mind deliberately, as he had yours inadvertently?”

“I can try. If nothing else, a successful attempt might give me a chance to find out what those motives are. I don’t think I’d be caught. If I were to let him know I was alive, I wouldn’t want to do it in that fashion, in any case.”

“You have almost a month before term starts should you choose to make the attempt. The only people who will be on the grounds are you, Hagrid, and Filch. The others will return to their castle quarters on the twenty-sixth. This cottage, as you may have noticed, is devoid of portraits, though the fireplace is fully connected. I suggest you keep the network flue closed unless necessary. There is a supply of floo powder and that list over there will give you the addresses of people such as myself and other relevant locations.”

“That’s fine.”

“Would you like to have a house-elf assigned here?”

Chase grinned slightly. “I am well able to take care of myself, Albus, though I admit that tidying up was never a favorite of mine. I wouldn’t object.”

“Then perhaps Dobby might be of some use to you.”

Chase’s grin broadened. “Yes, I expect so. Maybe he could swing by in the morning to introduce himself.” Then he sobered and said, “Thank you for believing in me, even after finding out who my father is.”

“I am rather fond of you, dear boy. And I would be a poor judge of character to let that sway my judgment. I think of you as almost a grandson.”

Chase laughed softly. “Wouldn’t that make for an interesting family portrait?”

Albus twinkled and said, “Are you willing to consider joining the Order?”

“Yes, but I think I’d like to know of their reactions to the idea first.” Then, in an abrupt change of subject he said, “Do you think you could introduce me personally to Hagrid? I think I want to wait until tomorrow to get into details as to the position. Coming from so far my head is a bit fuzzy and I’m not sure I’ll be able to retain much of what he has to say. The time difference is a bit staggering. I feel a bit upside down.”

“Certainly. You can settle in tonight and start tomorrow. For now, let us go visit.”

It was a short walk to Hagrid’s hut and they were inside within minutes.

“Hagrid, as you no doubt caught at lunch, this is Chase Caesura. Chase, Rubeus Hagrid. I’m sure you two will get along famously. But, if you will excuse me, I must be off to see to some details.” Albus slipped out with a final twinkle.

Hagrid immediately stuck out a huge hand, saying as they shook, “Good man, Dumbledore. Happy to meet you, Chase. You worked for the Beast Division?”

He nodded and smiled. “That’s right. I thought teaching would make for a nice change of pace.”

“Fancy a cuppa?”

“Sure. Though, if you don’t mind, I’d rather wait until tomorrow to discuss where things are kept and such. I’m a bit lagged from the time difference.” He took a seat and watched as Hagrid headed for the fireplace.

“That’s no problem. Fair distance, that. Bet your head’s on backwards right now.”

“Rather. I can’t decide if it must be better or worse for muggles, since their journeys take so much longer. Still, I haven’t quite wrapped myself around what time of day it is. I might be a bit off for the next week.”

Hagrid came back with a pot of tea and sat, his chair creaking ominously, then hooked several cups off a shelf and poured. “You’ll be all right, soon enough. You came through Diagon Alley?”

Chase nodded and took a cautious sip. “That’s right. Spent a little time shopping before I made my way to Hogsmeade, so I’m at least familiar with it. Had to anyway. Needed to stop in at Gringotts.”

“Cottage okay?”

“I think it’ll be just fine. It isn’t that much different from my home, actually. I admit, it’s a little strange that water flows backward here.”

“Eh?”

Chase blinked, then smiled. “Like when it goes down a drain. It swirls in the opposite direction. Fascinating, really. Little things like that make it seem a bit alien. I’ll unpack a bit later, I guess, and figure out when I should sleep so as to wake up at a normal hour. Albus has kindly offered the services of a house-elf to help with upkeep, so I’ll be meeting one in the morning. Then we could start in on other things.”

Hagrid nodded. “Right. A tour of the forest, where all the creatures are kept, the schedule and whatnot. The castle is a bit to get used to as well. Might want a tour of that, too. Or maybe a house-elf if you get in a spot of trouble navigating.”

“I’ve got almost a month. Hopefully I’ll get it all straight in my head by the time the students arrive. And, of course, check out Hogsmeade. I only passed through on my way up here.”

“There’s two pubs,” Hagrid said brightly, “though one is a bit dodgy in nature. Can meet lots of interesting people there, though. Most people frequent the Three Broomsticks. Rosmerta—that’s the owner—is a grand lass.”

“And the other?”

“The Hog’s Head. Odd sorts like to go there. It’s also an inn.”

“What’s the forest like?”

*

Alone in his cottage later, Chase wandered through the rooms absently noting the layout, then went back to the living room and levitated his trunk and made his way up to the loft to begin unpacking. The trunk followed him around as he stopped in at various rooms to unpack further, and was eventually banished up to the bedroom.

He was by then exceedingly tired, but took the time to check out the kitchen’s amenities. Once he realized it was fully stocked with food he prepared a simple meal and ate, then considered the idea of sneaking into his father’s mind. He dismissed it almost immediately. He was too tired, and it would be wiser to first see if he could sense his father’s high emotions or torturous actions before moving ahead. He decided to go to sleep instead.