Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Locus :: 07

07

‘Hold on, hold on,’ he replied quickly and firmly. ‘Explain this to me, Tom, calmly if you please. What did Dumbledore do? We have never liked nor trusted him, but something must have set you off.’

A feeling of fear washed over him before Voldemort spoke again. ‘During my travels I became curious about Dumbledore’s defeat of Grindelwald. Knowing the man was locked away in the very prison he had constructed to hold his own political enemies, I went to Nurmengard and broke in, seeking out Grindelwald in the topmost cell of the tower. He was in no condition to resist me. I interrogated him.’

Voldemort went silent again, fear leaking through along with hints of blazing anger. Joshua finally prompted a continuation with, ‘And?’

‘Grindelwald and Dumbledore used to be friends, back when they were young. Gellert was expelled from Durmstrang at age sixteen, and choose to go abroad to investigate the legend of the Deathly Hallows. He moved in with his great-aunt, Bathilda Bagshot, in Godric’s Hollow, the same place where Ignotus Peverell was buried, from the “Tale of the Three Brothers”. He met Dumbledore then and drew him into his plans for world domination, discussing the concept of wizard supremacy “For the Greater Good” of the world, and how to locate the three Deathly Hallows in order to secure this “grand” future they envisioned.

‘To understand properly be aware that Dumbledore had two siblings, both younger. His brother Aberforth and sister Ariana. Ariana was caught performing magic at the age of six by three muggles, and they attacked her. She was traumatized as a result and lost any semblance of control when it came to magic, requiring constant and close supervision from then on.

‘Their father, Percival, in turn attacked the muggles and was sent to Azkaban, having refused to explain why, afraid he and his wife would lose Ariana to the custody of St Mungo’s. Their mother, Kendra, did all that she could to keep people away, afraid they would see Ariana’s state, and she moved the family to Godric’s Hollow not long after the incident. It was there that Albus met Gellert and they formed a friendship. He was seventeen at the time, having just left Hogwarts. Kendra accidentally died that summer by Ariana’s hand, and it was left to Albus and Aberforth to care for their sister, but Albus was neglectful due to Gellert’s presence.

‘A fight broke out one day between Albus, Aberforth, and Gellert, which quickly became violent. Ariana attempted to interfere and ended up dead for her troubles. Gellert fled, and Aberforth henceforth blamed his brother for their sister’s death. To get back to the point, one of the things that Albus and Gellert discussed was a ritual book Gellert had discovered hidden within Durmstrang. He inadvertently left it behind when he fled, and Bathilda gifted it to Albus as an apology for how Gellert left, not realizing what it was, and knowing or assuming that Albus had been infatuated with her nephew.’

‘I can imagine,’ he broke in, ‘that Dumbledore was hardly fond of muggles given Ariana’s troubles.’

‘Yes, which is why he was open to Gellert’s ideas. I interrogated a number of other people and came up with a certain picture of what must have happened then. Dumbledore never again looked at another man—or any women, for that matter—and became withdrawn, and I suspect somewhat insane. He investigated the ritual book closely and decided to make use of it, and began experiments using those in the wizarding world who labeled him a muggle-hater due to his father. The reason I became so unhinged, Joshua, is due to what the ritual does. And I suspected, with no actual proof, that you disappeared because of that ritual. I thought Dumbledore had captured you, and subjected you to it, in order to hurt me.’

Joshua let his impatience flow over the link openly.

‘The ritual allowed for a powerful enough wizard to, though the use of blood and sex magic, transfer the magic of the victim to an unborn child. Dumbledore sacrificed his enemies and used pregnant muggle women as the receptacles. When the ritual was successful the resulting child was considered a muggle-born.’

He closed his eyes, bringing up one hand to cover them. It explained so easily why his lover would have completely lost his mind, above and beyond the deterioration already caused by his disappearance.

‘Dumbledore then adopted a policy of supporting muggle-borns, both to counteract the reputation passed down by his father’s actions, and to gain power. He would have been labeled a blood traitor if not for the fact that his own mother was muggle-born. Over the years more and more people disappeared mysteriously, and the number of muggle-born births increased. His reputation grew and he ended up at Hogwarts as a professor, as you know, and then he managed to defeat Gellert, obtaining the Elder Wand, one of the three Deathly Hallows.

‘Part of the reason why Dumbledore is so skilled and so cagey is because the Elder Wand is cursed to bring trouble to its holder. He must always be on the alert for someone finding out he has it and trying to take it from him. I know of the location of the Resurrection Stone, and I suspect that you hold the Cloak of Invisibility. The master of all three is thought to become the Master of Death.’

Joshua blinked a few times under the cover of his hand. ‘The one Dumbledore gave me? But why would he do such a thing?’

‘You are, as Harry Potter, descended from Ignotus Peverell, as I am descended from Cadmus Peverell. The cloak would simply not work for him, as your father never transferred ownership of it. It belongs to you, to your family, and you are the only one who can make it work. I have the ring—you would recognize it—but I am unsure how to work it, and unsure I would wish to. It is said in the tale that use of the ring can bring madness. Dumbledore holds the wand through right of conquest. It can be taken from him by the same means.’

‘All right. All . . . right. But, Tom.’

‘Yes?’

‘Tom, you went crazy even before you knew of the ritual. As much as I loathe the idea of fighting with you over this, I must put forth the supposition that all these Horcruxes truly did harm you. You are lessened by so many, your soul fractured and your mind degraded. A seven-part soul is no miracle, it’s a tragedy.’

‘Eight, actually,’ came the reluctant admission. ‘I was able to wrest much information from a woman named Bertha Jorkins while I was in Albania, preparing to regain my body. She not only told me everything I needed to know about the Triwizard Tournament, but also that Barty Crouch Jr, one of my faithful, had been broken out of Azkaban by his father. I used her to make my familiar, Nagini, a Horcrux, believing that would be the sixth, then went to free my servant.’

‘Tom, please,’ he pleaded. ‘I saw your face. Even after you merged with your sixteen year old self you looked. . . . Have you really looked at yourself? Can you see? Please, I beg of you, retrieve the other Horcruxes. All you need is me and one other. Take the rest back into yourself. Regain your mind, become who I once knew, the person I . . . love!’

‘You are my only.’

‘Then you will?’ he asked hopefully.

‘Yes. You have already delivered the diadem. The diary is a part of me. The locket and ring can be easily obtained, and Nagini is with me always. What will take work is the cup, for it rests in the Lestrange vault at Gringotts.’

‘And they are in Azkaban,’ he filled in. Joshua uncovered his eyes to see that the sun was beginning to set. ‘I should return to the house for now. You’ll keep me informed?’

‘I will. You and only you.’

*

Voldemort let him know that the locket had been replaced by Regulus Black with a fake. He had opted to remove the note left by his former minion and return the duplicate to its resting place, as there was no reason not to. If one person could figure out his survival, others might, and the fake would frustrate them just as much as it had Voldemort. It remained to be seen where Regulus might have taken the real one, or if it even still existed.

Just prior to his birthday Voldemort met him in the park, once again invisible, and gifted Joshua with an example of their completed project. It was a fashioned from some kind of silvery metal, very light, and sized to fit his finger. As a result, Joshua detoured from his usual routine and browsed through several jewelry shops available in the area, purchasing several rings, one of which was similar to the storage ring. His watchers would hopefully think his actions nothing more than a type of vanity.

He continued to haunt the library, returning to his conviction to keep up with his muggle schooling, though he did have minor difficulties in the beginning having been away from those subjects for so long. It was two days after his birthday when an unexpected visitor arrived: Albus Dumbledore.

Joshua stared at him blankly before stepping back to allow the man inside the house. “Sir?”

“I do not mean to alarm you, but I have noticed some changes in the wards here and that must be addressed in order to assure your safety. While that is being done I wish to move you to a safe interim location.”

‘Finally got around to noticing his wards collapsed, I see,’ Voldemort commented acidly.

Joshua crinkled his brow. “Hogwarts?”

“No,” Dumbledore said with a slight shake of his head. “I will explain more once we arrive, but for the time being know that the location has exceptional protections. I’ll give you a few minutes to gather your things.”

He nodded, despite wanting to behead the man and flee. He stuck his head into the kitchen long enough to warn his aunt to ignore the ‘guest’ waiting in the hallway, then went upstairs to pack. Included were the muggle texts he had managed to purchase; he would lose a month of study time if he forgot them. Dumbledore whisked him away to a rather grim spot in the middle of a city and handed over a piece of parchment.

“Read that and concentrate on what it says as you look up,” he was instructed.

Following directions saw a house force two others aside in an interesting display of magic. Dumbledore retrieved the parchment and led him inside after tapping his wand to the front door, which seemed to have no handle. “Welcome to № 12 Grimmauld Place. If you’ll proceed to the third floor landing you’ll find several bedrooms. Please choose one for yourself, then return here. I realize it’s nearly lunch, so you must be hungry. At the end of this hall is a door to the left. Through that and down the stairs will bring you to the kitchen. All right?”

“Yes, sir,” he replied, then hauled his trunk up the stairs. The bedrooms on the mentioned floor were a disaster; he choose the least awful one and placed his trunk at the foot of the bed. At least it was the only bed in the room, so odds were he would not be forced to share. Everything of any import was already stored through his ring.

Downstairs and in the kitchen he was confronted by several faces. Dumbledore and Professor Lupin, and a few others he did not recognize, but the surprising one was Sirius Black, who, on seeing him, bolted out of his chair and said, “Harry!”

Joshua took a step back and arched a brow, eyeing Dumbledore sidelong. “Sir?”

“I assure you, Sirius is innocent of the crimes he was imprisoned for. He has proven this to my satisfaction. He is also the owner of this house.”

“If you say so, sir,” Joshua slowly replied. Just his bloody luck to end up temporarily living with people he did not want to get to know.

“Please, have a seat, and help yourself to something to eat,” Dumbledore invited.

He did so warily, choosing a spot decently far enough from Black without being flagrantly rude about it. He was curious about why Dumbledore had not arranged for a trial, but asking would encourage them to believe he cared. He ate quietly, acknowledging with nods when Dumbledore introduced aurors Tonks and Shacklebolt, then slipped out after putting his plate and cutlery in the sink (“Just leave it there,” Tonks told him.) and returned to his chosen room. He wondered, idly, if Black would gather up the courage to admit their relationship, and hoped he would not.

‘An interesting place to end up,’ Voldemort commented. ‘Regulus was brother to Sirius. What are the odds the locket is hidden in that very house?’

Joshua snorted; that would be amusing, not to mention convenient. ‘You could just come check yourself. You read the secret with me. Though, I guess, that would be rather too blatant a hint. I suppose I could—’

A knock at the door interrupted, and a moment later it opened and Sirius came into view. “I’m not disturbing anything, I hope?”

“No. I was just about to begin studying. Is there something I can do for you, sir?”

Black opened the door a little wider and scratched the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Calling me Sirius is okay. No, I just wanted to let you know that my room is on the floor above, and that you’re welcome to poke around the house as much as you like. And there’s a library on the first floor, next to the drawing room. Dumbledore’s left for the time being, but I’ll be here, along with Remus—Lupin—and Tonks and Shacklebolt will be in and out. So feel free to raid the kitchen, too.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Black frowned a bit, his lower lip pushing out in a pout that looked ridiculous on a man his age, then disappeared, closing the door once more. Joshua heaved a sigh.

‘License to search. If you find it put it through the ring.’

‘Of course. Though, I don’t suppose, just in case, you can create a duplicate? That way if it is here, no one will suspect me if it goes missing.’

‘I will do so now.’

He found it pathetically easy to locate and swap out. An early morning wander saw him in the drawing room with a snack from the kitchen, and a book from the library. Should anyone question him he was prepared to admit to having trouble sleeping in a strange house. A quick search through the two glass-fronted cabinets flanking the fireplace found the locket, which was swapped out in a heartbeat, the Horcrux pushed through the ring moments later. He then calmly took a seat on the sofa, grimacing when dust puffed up in response.

‘Thank you, Joshua.’

‘You’re welcome, Tom,’ he replied warmly, then drank some of his milk before opening his book. When his milk was gone he left the book on the table aside the sofa, returned the glass to the kitchen, then went to bed.

*

‘So, why exactly does Snape despise me?’ he asked out of the blue a few days later.

‘You won’t like this,’ Voldemort warned him. ‘He was infatuated with your mother, and was, for some time, her friend. Your father was also infatuated with your mother, and saw Snape, who was in Slytherin, as a double threat. James Potter and his cronies spent their years at Hogwarts tormenting Snape. Eventually they pushed Snape too far, and when Lily tried to stand up for him, he called her a mudblood, which essentially ended the friendship.

‘He regretted that, though he never apologized, and for some strange reason thought that becoming a Death Eater would impress her, forgetting that I generally despise muggles and muggle-borns. After all, how am I to know which muggle-borns came about naturally due to a forgotten magical ancestor, and which were due to Dumbledore’s heinous theft of magic? When I went after the Potters I gave her the chance to step aside, because Snape wanted her still.’

Joshua shuddered involuntarily.

‘Mm. Snape hates you because of James, because you look so much like James, yet have Lily’s eyes, because you’re James’s son and not his own.’

‘Great,’ he replied dryly. ‘Just great. And is he really yours, or has he been corrupted by Dumbledore?’

‘That brings up another subject you will not like. In March of 1980 Dumbledore interviewed Sibyll Trelawney. Insofar as I can tell he was considering dropping the subject due to lack of a qualified person to teach it. However, during the interview she spoke a prophecy, much in the same manner as you encountered. It said: The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. . . . Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. . . .

‘Surely there was more to it than that,’ he protested.

‘Surely there is, but that is what Severus reported to me.’

‘This is about me, obviously, but. . . . I guess James and Lily could have defied Dumbledore thrice. I mean, I find it exceedingly hard to believe that I am destined to. . . .’

‘In a sense I have already been vanquished once, but I agree. Dumbledore is as much a dark lord as I, and much more evil. I am aware of where to find the prophecy in its entirety, but it means breaking into the Department of Mysteries at the ministry. I am confident I can do so.’

‘I assume you mean without alerting Cornelius “In Denial” Fudge to your return.’

‘Naturally. But before that, it might be wise to speak with Snape. He is supposed to spy for me on Dumbledore, but he may have switched sides.’

‘Wait, I don’t remember seeing him through your eyes in the graveyard.’

‘Yet I summoned him, and Karkaroff. Karkaroff has fled. I shall hunt him down and kill him. Snape, however. . . . He did appear, two hours later. Yes, you have forced me to see that I am not myself, so what is your opinion on what actions I should take toward Snape?’

Joshua considered that for a while, grateful that Voldemort did not try to hurry his answer. He would not be the least bit surprised if Snape was playing both sides of the fence. It was important to know for sure, though. If he was loyal to that bastard Dumbledore, then he would either have to be marginalized or removed from play. If he was loyal to Voldemort, perhaps that should be enforced with some kind of oath. He knew Voldemort was ‘listening in’ when he felt a sense of agreement. ‘Summon him again. Ensure he cannot escape. Question him, and if necessary, break into his mind, use veritaserum, whatever it takes. I have to wonder at his excuse for not coming to the graveyard when called. I know Dumbledore must have been somewhat involved, but that does not answer the question of his loyalty one way or the other.’

‘All right. If possible, I will lend you my eyes again, when the time comes.’

‘I would appreciate that. While it’s true I despise him for his treatment of me, I would like to know the truth. On a semi-related note, we both know I will go back at some point, though I won’t stay. I’m going to assume it isn’t because Dumbledore captures me and uses me as part of that ritual. That being so, with me returning here, can you see any reason for me to bother ever returning to the role of Harry Potter?’

‘We still have to figure out why it happens, but your question is interesting. You have never really thought of yourself as Harry Potter to begin with, is that not correct?’

‘Yes. Perhaps I did answer to Harry when I was still in Godric’s Hollow, but the time spent at the Dursleys erased that from memory. The identity I embraced was the one given me by Mrs Cole, as I had none aside from “boy” and “freak” before that. I survived by chance. Well, perhaps the prophecy has some bearing, but even so, it may come to pass that it is fulfilled and Harry Potter would be nothing more than a falsified icon. I—’ He suffered a moment of deep insecurity. ‘You do . . . still want me?’

‘Yes, Joshua. You—are—my—only.’

Joshua exhaled heavily. ‘Right. Why should I continue in a role I have always felt was just that: a role. A character in a play for which I have no script. As Harry Potter I can never stand at your side. I am Joshua.’

‘You have my utmost support, as I have always had yours. Always.’

*

Two days later, after he had begun preparing to sleep, Voldemort alerted him that Snape had been summoned. Joshua watched through his lover’s eyes as Voldemort asked Snape point blank about the prophecy. “You are a Slytherin. Perhaps you heard more than you informed me of, but kept the remainder in reserve?”

There was a distinct pause, the silence stretching thin, yet not enough of one for a person to say Snape was franticly thinking of his options. Surely he must have expected to be questioned in depth, given that he had not been that night. “The owner of the Hog’s Head caught me lurking in the hall, my lord, and I missed the remainder escaping from him, so that he could not verify my identity.” One might almost think it was Snape’s way of condescending to answer a question he thought stupid, yet not in a manner guaranteed to bring him punishment.

‘Nice, but that was not a direct answer,’ Joshua commented. ‘I am a Slytherin, too, and I see that for what it is.’

Voldemort tilted his head slightly to one side, wandlessly stunning Snape a heartbeat later. “I don’t have time for Slytherin answers.” He got up and quickly banished everything away from Snape, off to another room. A vial was produced, veritaserum, and used. While he was waiting for it to take effect Snape was tossed onto a plain wooden chair and bound into place.

‘I hope he’s not hiding portkeys in unusual places,’ Joshua quipped.

‘If he manages to escape from this situation, well, then we’ll have one answer.’ “Snape, at the Hog’s Head, the night Albus Dumbledore interviewed Sibyll Trelawney, what exactly did you hear when she spoke the prophecy?”

Snape answered flatly, “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. . . . Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. . . . And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. . . . And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. . . . The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies. . . .

Joshua sucked in a breath. ‘He lied to you. He lied.’

“Snape, why did you only tell me part of the prophecy before?”

“I was experiencing doubts at the time.”

“Snape, whom have you been loyal to, other than yourself?”

“Lily Evans.”

There was a pause before Voldemort said, “Snape, did you inform anyone by any method that you were summoned this evening, and if so, to whom, and how?”

“Yes, Dumbledore, by way of a patronus messenger.”

“Snape, how does one use a patronus as a messenger?”

“One prepares the message in one’s mind before casting, as well as focusing on the recipient.”

“Snape, what does the recipient of a patronus messenger experience?”

“The patronus locates the recipient and speaks the encoded message with the caster’s voice, then dissipates.”

There was another pause. ‘Well?’

‘ “Snape wanted her still,” you said. Does that mean he would have been happy had James Potter and I died, so long as he could have Lily for himself?’

“Snape, how would you have felt had James and Harry Potter died that night, so long as Lily lived?”

“Ecstatic. I am sure I could have convinced her to my side.”

‘He’s a sick bastard. Maybe not in Dumbledore’s league, but still a sick bastard.’

‘He was never really mine, and never will be.’ “Snape, does Dumbledore trust you?”

“Dumbledore trusts no one.”

With a streak of blinding green light Snape was dead. ‘So it goes.’

Joshua exhaled slowly. He felt nothing at the man’s death except . . . relief. ‘Tom, have you taken back any of the Horcruxes yet?’

‘One. It is an excruciating process. One must feel remorse to be capable, and the pain of it can destroy you. The only reason I could is because of you, and it is because of you I survived. It will be a while before I can absorb the next.’

‘Which one will you keep?’

‘The locket. However, when I absorb the one from Nagini, she will die of it. I regret this fact. Had I been in my right mind I would never have used her.’

‘I’m sorry to hear that. Will you explain it to her?’

‘Yes, when the time comes. She deserves to know. Joshua, I can feel your fatigue. Get some sleep.’

Joshua nodded to himself. ‘Good night, Tom.’

*

Tonks was sent out to collect what he needed for his fifth year. He accepted the books, wondering who had actually paid for them, and dumped them into his trunk. There might be some things he had not already been taught on his prior run through fifth year, but expected no difficulties in picking those up. And he was pleased that Black had done nothing more than hover occasionally, which allowed him to easily remain politely distant.

Joshua had spent quite some time mulling over the prophecy and finally came to a conclusion which felt right to him. Voldemort and Harry Potter would both ‘die’, but Tom Riddle and Joshua Durand would live. Tom might have conceived the name Lord Voldemort while they were still young, but he had not truly become him until years later. Feeling remorse, being made aware of his descent into insanity, and taking back into himself what he had split apart—it should spell the end of Voldemort. And Harry Potter would no longer have a role in this world for too longer after. Then, together, Tom and Joshua would deal with Dumbledore.

It was just a question of when.

He was escorted to Kings Cross by Tonks and Shacklebolt and took his usual compartment on the train, warded it, then opened his trunk to glance through his books. The moment he saw what they were going to be using that year for Defense he resolved to be especially wary. There was nothing of import with his other texts, and he could not see where he would actually be learning anything new that year, aside from the maneuverings of political beasts.

Draco arrived, his two thugs left outside the door as usual, and took a seat. “I have heard that the senior undersecretary to Minister Fudge will be teaching Defense this year. The minister is all in an uproar over Dumbledore claiming the Dark Lord has returned and seeks to gain some direct influence at the school.”

Joshua nodded thoughtfully. “I had wondered when I noticed what our text is for this year.”

“Rumor has it that Dumbledore came to that belief because of something you said,” Draco said a shade too casually.

“Rumor is like that children’s game where a fact becomes more and more distorted the more mouths it passes through,” he replied vaguely. “It makes me wonder what other changes might be in store for us once we arrive at the school.”

Draco shrugged. “Well, congratulations on winning the Triwizard Tournament. It’s just too bad we couldn’t really see anything of the second task, and the maze walls were too high for the third. Whoever thought up the tasks was an idiot not to consider the audience. Imagine if we’d had to pay to watch? A complete waste of good gold it would have been.”

“Mm, I agree.”

Draco tried a few more times to get something interesting out of him, failed, and eventually wandered off to seek out more entertaining company.

The opening feast featured Dolores Umbridge (a woman who, to Joshua’s eyes, resembled a rather squat human-toad hybrid with seriously questionable taste in clothing) giving a speech laden with double meaning and threatening undertones. She sounded like a spokesperson for stagnancy.

‘Why do I get the feeling she’s just ruthless and amoral enough to squeeze that bulk of hers into any regime?’

‘She is a blood purist and practically worships Fudge for some reason. She has been sent here to further Fudge’s agenda, which is, at the moment, discrediting Dumbledore and preventing him from doing something such as creating a personal army out of the student body. Considering that Dumbledore recruited for his group from the students previously, it is not a completely unfounded concern.’

Dumbledore, having regained control up at the head table, then introduced Horace Slughorn as the new Potions professor. Joshua had to repress a grimace. At least the man knew how to teach and was amiable to pretty much everyone, unlike Snape had been.

His first classroom encounter with Umbridge was amusing in a sadistic sort of way. Granger developed a severe case of nerves when it became apparent that all they would be doing was reading for the year. Weasley looked pained because his idea of reading material was anything to do with quidditch, and there were times when Joshua wondered if Ronald could even comprehend that elusive thing called theory.

If nothing else, Defense class became a time when he could glance at the assignment, skim the relevant chapter, and write out whatever essay was due; he had never been more timely when it came to delivering homework. Entertainment was provided each and every time a student would try to back up Dumbledore’s claims that Voldemort had returned. While he loathed Umbridge on principle, she presented an excellent front row view of condescension in action, spiced with a side of sadism.

When he entered Potions for the first time that year he noticed immediately that Slughorn was giving him avaricious looks, and resigned himself to trying to avoid being inducted into the Slug Club again. Of note was that Longbottom stopped blowing up cauldrons nearly every class. Slughorn started off the year with a bang, promising a vial of felix felicis to the first student who finished the day’s work and produced a perfect potion; Joshua won. The vial went through his storage ring at the first opportunity with Voldemort having assured him that it would be safe to do so. The last thing Joshua wanted for was envious people to try breaking into his trunk to steal his prize.

Umbridge was declared High Inquisitor by the end of the first week, and a large number of Slytherin students became members of the Inquisitor Squad she formed. Draco quietly informed Joshua that they were to be on the lookout for anyone, students or staff, saying anything against the ministry’s policies. Umbridge also began auditing classes to evaluate both the teachers and what they were teaching. Joshua ignored it all, keeping his head down, and refusing to be drawn into the growing conflict between Umbridge and most of the school.