Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: FoM :: 04 :: Meet & Greet

04 • Meet & Greet

6-12 August 2000

When he awoke he felt much refreshed, though still slightly disoriented. He was strongly reminded of his early days in Australia, wherein he had wobbled around on a very odd schedule for some days before settling in to the time difference. He had made it downstairs into the kitchen and was enjoying some fruit when Dobby popped into the room and gave him a little bow.

“Your name is Dobby?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m Chase. Why don’t you have a seat while we talk about what I would like you to take care of here?” It took several minutes for Dobby to wrap his head around that privilege. “Realistically, I was hoping that you would consent to make sure that dust doesn’t build up. I’m a fairly tidy person, but I don’t always handle things on a timely basis. I would also like for you to keep the food supply here stocked, even though I expect I’d take my meals up at the castle during the year. Also, wood and other incidentals. I don’t imagine it would be anything difficult.”

“Dobby is being happy to help, sir. Dobby can do all of that easily.”

“I admit, I haven’t had much experience with house-elves. How would I call you if I were in need?”

“Sir will permit Dobby to make a link?”

“Sure.”

Dobby made an odd little gesture, one that caused Chase to feel a peculiar twisting sensation in his head. After a moment Dobby said firmly, “Sir is being connected now. Sir has only to call and Dobby will come.”

“All right. Call how, though?”

“In sir’s head. Sir can snap though, if that is helping.”

Chase blinked slowly, then nodded. “Okay. Well, feel free to explore. I’ve unpacked most everything already. As soon as I finish eating I’m going over to see Hagrid so he can start filling me in. I can’t imagine there would be much to do here today, but if you would stop in occasionally to check up on things, I’d be grateful.”

Dobby hopped off the chair and nodded, flashed him a toothy grin, then scampered off.

Chase finished up the apple he had only partially eaten, then grabbed a pear and headed out to Hagrid’s hut. He spent the remainder of the day being dragged from place to place, nodding a great deal over the various creatures that he would be using during the year, and their supplies. By the time dinner rolled around he was happy to retreat to his cottage and toss together several sandwiches.

That night he was awoken abruptly from his rest, his eyes flicking open to a sense of deep and abiding anger. It answered one question, at least. He was not, however, inclined to attempt any spying at that point, preferring to wait until the sensations had faded before rolling over and falling back to sleep.

The next day was given over to a tour of the forest and the meeting of a number of the creatures that resided within. Granted, Chase would have little reason in the normal course of things to enter, but it was true that one could get past the wards in that direction in order to apparate, rather than heading down toward Hogsmeade.

It wasn’t until a week had passed that he felt comfortable enough, and adjusted enough, to relax on his bed and attempt to send his consciousness toward his father. Everything that he had learned about Occlumency, and even some Legilimency, was combined to shield him from backward leakage or exposure. And when he did manage to take up position in a small corner of his father’s mind, he sent delicate feelers out in search of the man’s feelings about his son.

After pulling away several hours later, he contemplated what he had learned for a while, then went to sleep. In the morning he spent some time with several of the creatures he would be using to continue to get them acquainted with him, then retired to his cottage and the living room. After lighting the fire and opening the network flue, he tossed in floo powder and called out, “Bumblebee Bungalow.”

A house-elf answered the call.

“Is Albus available, per chance?” he asked.

“Sir is to be waiting while Nip fetches him,” said the elf, who then gave a quick bow and skittered off.

Chase took a moment to reflect that, given what he could see of the room, bungalow was a very misleading term for Albus’s home. Several minutes later Albus appeared with a smile and said, “How good to see you, Chase. I trust things are well.”

“Yes, thank you for asking. I’ve learned something that you might be interested in.”

“Oh? If you would care to move back, I will come through.”

Chase pulled away from the fire and took a seat, watching as Albus stepped through the fire as though walking through a half-height doorway. The headmaster turned and shut the network flue, then took a seat himself.

“I was able to invade his mind,” Chase stated bluntly. “He was sleeping at the time and I was exceedingly careful in how I poked around.”

“What were you able to ascertain?”

Chase smiled slightly. “It appears that dear old dad is angry, not because his son could not join his cause, but because he’s dead. Voldemort didn’t care. All he wanted was his son back, regardless of whether or not he had any notions of joining in the fun. He was, in fact, the one who sent the journal, and Peter is dead. He became more violent and forward because he felt he had absolutely no reason to hold back at that point. The fact that he managed to retrieve the clone made him happy, but its condition vexed him a great deal. When it ‘died’ he went crazy for a while. He was extremely upset when the news was leaked that he even had a son. While he isn’t entirely sane, he also isn’t mad. Just . . . bent.”

Albus thought about that for quite some time before he responded. “Do you think there is a chance he would back off were you to alert him to your presence in some way? Possibly even step down?”

“The fact that I am alive would certainly give him pause for thought, Albus. But if I did contact him, I would not let him know my current identity.”

“How?”

“A couple of things. A letter could be written in my own blood. I could also include a copy of the first journal entry. Together it should be enough to give proof. If not, I’m sure I could find other ways to convince him.”

“All right. And if he wanted to contact you?”

“I don’t think that would be prudent to start with. I think I would prefer something a little different, like a show of faith. Say, perhaps, I ask him for something. No raids for a week, or a month. If he would show his willingness to talk, then perhaps I might take a step further.”

Albus remained silent again for a few minutes, then said, “That sounds reasonable. On another note, there has been a meeting of the Order. As I expected, there was some resistance, but on the whole people seemed interested. Granted, each new member that has been recruited has met with some resistance, so in that sense this is not much different.”

“Then I don’t see any reason to object to joining.”

“Splendid. I shall make sure you have all the necessary details prior to the next meeting. Was there anything else for the moment?”

Chase shook his head. “Other than to say that I assume none of this will go past this room. I will probably spend part of today composing a letter to send.”

Albus nodded. “In that case I shall take my leave for the time being.”

*

Father,

Yes, it is I. I realize you believe me to be dead, but that is simply not the case. And, if you were to take the time to analyze the ‘ink’ I used, you might find out something quite interesting. I offer this as proof of my identity, not that I am so foolish as to outright state what name I go by at this time.

By the way, what is my birth name?

Of course, I have also included something that you should be very familiar with. After all, you yourself sent the complete set to me. I know that because I took a little trip last evening, my dear father. I found it immensely interesting to realize that you did not, at the time, hold any silly notions that I would leap to your cause simply on the strength of blood ties.

Would I be right in assuming that Peter gloated as he lay dying?

Well then, you can rest assured that his gloating was for naught. I am alive, very much so. Mind you, I give you no way to contact me directly. I don’t think that would be a wise course of action at this time, despite what I have gleaned from your mind during my visit. I allow I was more curious to find out your thoughts on me specifically, and not on your current goals or plans.

Our link is very convenient at times, no? I can still feel your anger, father.

I am quite certain you will not be so foolish as to tell anyone of this letter. If what I found is accurate, that would be the last thing on your mind. But, there is something I actually want from you. I would like proof that you acknowledge my identity. To that end, perhaps you might consider leashing your minions for a time. Two weeks would be lovely. Or, if that does not suit you, perhaps confine them to a very specific area, such as Kent.

Naturally, I would prefer that you hold off entirely.

I am quite prepared to take one step closer if you prove willing to be reasonable. Make no mistake, though, father, I am now no more willing than I ever was to accept your ideals as they are. I never did like hurting people. I also cannot accept the hypocrisy of your actions. If you plan on ridding the world of dirty blood, would that not mean I should die by your hand? And then yourself?

In any case, I await your reply, such as it is. Rest assured, I will contact you again if I feel it is prudent to do so.

Regards,
???? Riddle

17 August 2000

Several days after Chase sent the letter, the attacks had stopped abruptly. That brought a wide smile to his face. He was able to open a letter from Albus—delivered via Fawkes—with good cheer and read it. It contained information on the meeting to be held that Saturday, along with a slip of parchment. It was clear to Chase that headquarters was under a Fidelius Charm. He read the slip several more times to be sure what it said was firmly set in his mind, then stored everything in one of his specially warded boxes.

He was in a very good mood as he ambled down to Hogsmeade and headed for the Hog’s Head inn. Inside, he took a seat at the bar and gave a quirky smile to the barman. “How’s Stella?”

“Oh, she’s around here somewhere, my boy. I have no doubt she will be delighted to see you once again. It has been long enough that we almost came up for a visit.”

Chase grinned. “I’ll have to remember to bring some roses next time. That should sweeten her disposition if she’s inclined to be annoyed with me.”

“You should. Interested in something to drink?”

Chase cast a wary eye on the vessels scattered about, then flicked his eyes up to look at Aberforth again. “I don’t suppose you have any cider? If not, a butterbeer would be nice.”

After rooting around under the bar for a minute, Aberforth produced a somewhat dusty bottle of cider, then spent a good thirty seconds wiping it down before popping the top and handing it over. “Don’t worry about the cost. Not for you, anyway.”

He was about to take a sip when he was nudged firmly, and looked down to see that Stella had snuck up on him and was butting him impatiently. “Hello, sweetheart. And how are you? I’m quite happy to see you again.” He reached down a free hand and scratched her head, then slipped around to scratch under her chin.

After several minutes of attention she butted him again and wandered off, seeming quite pleased. Chase was finally able to take a sip of his cider as Aberforth asked, “How are you adjusting?”

“Fine. It’s all a bit odd, but that’s okay. I feel pretty confident about the upcoming year. Did you and Stella have any troubles on the trip?”

Aberforth shook his head. “By the way, your friend had settled in nicely at your house when we left. I think he’ll take good care of the place in your absence.”

“Well, he only has to contact me if there’s any problems. I can’t think of anything that might come up though.”

“Making any new friends?”

Chase shrugged. “Hagrid and I seem to be getting along just fine. I’ve only met the other staff briefly. I’ve been busy enough getting things straight in my head and getting the animals used to me that this is the first time I’ve left the grounds since I arrived. It hasn’t been boring, though.”

“When the year begins, I’m sure you’ll make a start on that. Perhaps sooner.”

“That is entirely possible,” he agreed. He spent a bit longer chatting, and sipping the remainder of his cider, then gave his farewells, pausing long enough to track down Stella for a farewell scratch before heading back up to the castle.

19 August 2000

Chase arrived outside headquarters in good time, watching in amusement as number twelve seemed to push the adjoining buildings off to either side as it revealed itself to his eyes. He tripped up the front steps lightly and knocked, and was shortly ushered in to a rather dingy entryway by Molly Weasley.

She gave him a tentative smile and said, “I’m Molly Weasley. You must be Chase?”

“That’s right. I’m pleased to meet you.”

“Such an interesting accent,” she remarked, then said, “Well, let me show you to where we meet. Some of the members you may recognize.” She led him down a flight of stairs and into what was obviously a kitchen and gestured at one of the empty seats.

He gave her a nod of thanks and sat down, then scanned the table. All eyes were on him, so he allowed an easy smile to grace his face. It was at that point that Albus began.

“Thank you for coming, everyone. Our new member is Chase Caesura, the new Magical Creatures professor at Hogwarts. You will all have a chance to speak with him afterward if you choose. The first thing to note today is that Voldemort’s attacks have stopped rather abruptly, and for no discernable reason. Has anyone gained any information which might explain this?”

Chase caught Albus’s eye and quirked the corner of his mouth, then went back to scanning the table. He listened to further conversation with half his attention, letting his eyes slowly wander over each face. Snape was completely closed off, though he was able to report that his sources indicated that Voldemort seemed rather preoccupied. Zabini, sitting next to Severus, also sported a shuttered expression. His contribution for the evening was to report on Ethos.

Sirius looked a bit haggard. In point of fact, Chase was surprised that Sirius looked like himself. Considering that Albus had been able to arrange a new identity for himself, he wondered why the same had not been done for his godfather. Remus looked similarly drawn, but not quite as bad. The Weasleys sported faint frowns, but that might have been because of the twins, whose eyes were quite bright.

Moody was present, as were Minerva and Hagrid, and also Hermione and Ginny. There were a number of people Chase did not recognize at all. Surprisingly, Neville Longbottom was also there. He wondered if the eldest two Weasley brothers were members, and if they were too far away to actually be present.

And, though at first he thought that his gaze kept being drawn back to his godfather, he realized after a time that it was in fact Remus that continued to catch his attention. After that he kept his eyes firmly on Albus, or on whoever was speaking, and did not allow his gaze to drift any further.

Eventually, there was nothing much left to be said except for instructions. When Albus came around to him he said, “Chase, you will want to get with Hermione regarding a number of things you will need to know about the Order. She handles general coordination and research for us.”

“I would be happy to.”

“In that case, this meeting is adjourned. A buffet has been set up in the drawing room as usual for those who are hungry.”

Chase immediately looked over at Hermione and received a nod, so he rose and waited for her to approach him.

“A pleasure to meet you. We can either go over things now, or I could visit tomorrow if you’d prefer.”

“I’m happy to meet you as well. I think a visit, if you really don’t mind.”

She shook her head and smiled. “I don’t often get a chance to visit the castle, so it’s no trouble. They constructed a cottage for you, near Hagrid?”

“That’s right. You can’t miss it. Any time is fine.”

“Let me show you upstairs,” she said, then, “I could drop by at ten.” After they had ascended two flights of stairs she led him through the first door on the left. “I trust you’re adjusting well to this country. I’ve never been to Australia—what’s it like there?”

Chase got the feeling he’d be hearing those comments and questions a great deal for a while. As they talked, various people drifted by to greet him, introduced by Hermione. He thought Tonks was inordinately cheerful, Moody was paranoid and acerbic, and Shacklebolt was fairly sagacious.

Remus, when he approached, was quite straightforward. He stuck out his hand to shake and said bluntly, “Remus Lupin, werewolf.”

Chase arched a brow, then shook his hand with a smile and said, “Interesting. I’ve always wanted to meet a werewolf. Chase Caesura, as you know. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. I bet you could teach me a thing or two.”

After a moment of hesitation, Remus returned the smile. “Perhaps. No doubt we’ll find opportunities to talk in more depth.”

By the time he left for the evening he had met everyone at least briefly, and had been warned about accepting things from the twins, especially food. He had also found a moment to sidle up to Albus and casually mention that his recent appeal appeared to be producing results.

20 August 2000

Hermione arrived promptly at ten and was soon seated at Chase’s table with a cup of tea. She brought with her a number of things, including a complete list of Order members and their pictures. Chase took the time to study their faces and names, then pushed the folders back across the table.

The next thing she produced was a small mirror. After keying it to him she explained its use.

“It’s a communication device. When someone is attempting to contact you it will vibrate, so I suggest you keep it on you at all times. Now that it’s been keyed, it can only be activated by you, which is as simple as holding it and saying ‘accipio’. To cut the connection you would say ‘occludo’. In order to contact someone you would say ‘contages’, followed by their name.”

When Chase nodded she continued, “The range will cover the British Isles, but not past that. If you happen to be on the mainland continent, you have to rely on other methods. However, as you’re a professor here, I don’t expect that will come up any time soon.”

She flashed him a smile and said, “Fairly straightforward, in any case. Meetings aren’t regular, but there is one at least once a month, more often if there’s an emergency or something important comes to light. You’ll be contacted for those in various ways. Since you’re here, it will most likely come as a note from Albus or Minerva.”

“All right.”

“Headquarters is protected by apparition wards as well as the Fidelius Charm, and is closed off to the floo network. Sirius owns it, actually. He and Remus live there. Meetings are always in the kitchen. No one seems to have got around to fixing up one of the rooms on an upper floor for some reason.”

She continued to explain things for the next hour, then left shortly before lunch. Chase felt a bit like he had been bombarded with information overload, but that was not entirely surprising given that it had been Hermione.

29 August 2000

As there had been no attacks for two weeks, Chase decided to send off another letter.

Father,

I was quite pleased to note your response to my last letter. It seems you are confident in my identity and willing to talk, possibly even to negotiate. Or, is it that you aren’t, but are consumed with curiosity? I confess to being curious as to the real reasons behind your bid for power and what you reasonably expect to accomplish.

It seems to me that in some respects, muggles and wizards are not all that different. We may use different means and methods to accomplish the same goals, but when you come right down to it, we each can be as bloodthirsty as kind. What would you do, father, if you were able to eradicate not only all muggles from Britain, but also all muggle-borns and half-bloods? Well, excepting we two, naturally.

Isn’t there any satisfaction in being alive? In appreciating life itself?

I’m also not sure what you expected to accomplish by breaking me out of Azkaban. Rather, what appeared to be me. Out of respect for your privacy I have not tried to sample your thoughts a second time. No doubt you have been on guard for that as I was kind enough to mention it to begin with. However, I digress.

What was it you wanted?

Did you simply wish to gaze upon your son? Know that he was alive, healthy, and safe? Would you have let me go, father? I fail to see any real resolution. I do not understand. Would you have agreed to stay your hand when it came to me and those I cared about while still furthering your aims? I confess that all of this is vastly confusing for me.

I am overjoyed that I do, in fact, have a living father. I have a family.

But, I have no guarantee that I can trust you. Peter was very thorough, I must say, but he was also wrong to some degree. I am a reasonable person, despite everything. I can no more help that you are my father than you can help that you are not a pure-blood. I cannot help that I was stolen, that you tried your best to kill me, thinking I was someone else. I cannot help that we find ourselves in this situation.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never striven for personal power. I’m happy simply to be alive. I cannot understand why anyone would set themselves up to be a dark lord. I have been persecuted often enough that it pains me greatly to realize that for some it is a pleasurable activity. Why are we so different, father?

Should I follow in your footsteps and kill you, as you killed your father?

I think perhaps I’m beginning to ramble. Let me see. . . . What would make for a nice response? It’s a shame that Peter is dead. I would have been pleased to see him captured so that he could provide proof that it was not Sirius Black who betrayed the Potters. I know. One of your devoted followers nearly caused the death of a girl I think of like a sister.

If you are willing to continue this dialogue, you might consider arranging for Lucius Malfoy to fall into the hands of the Ministry. I’m not asking for his death, father. And I realize that with Cornelius Fudge as Minister that Lucius would very likely be absolved of his crimes after a generous application of his wealth. As much as I’d like to see him languishing in Azkaban, I am not so naive as to believe this gesture, should you choose to make it, would have any lasting effect.

Of course, were you to be in agreement with my request, I understand that Lucius would have to do something to bring the Aurors down on his head. A necessary evil, I suppose.

In closing, let me assure you that I am in excellent health, and that I appreciate your earlier response. You have my gratitude on that score.

Regards,
???? Riddle