Echoes of Salem

As evening gathered for the start of the yearly term at Avistrum Academy of Sorcery, the faculty and staff warmly welcomed the students back for another term. New copies of the Morning Oracle announced a manhunt for Avistrum’s former Divination professor, Kraven Bloodthorne. It also announced the news that Polonius Aberfoyle, the school’s Transfiguration professor, had won election to the Wizard Senate. A special one-page evening edition of the paper contained the transcript of a debate between Aberfoyle and Senator Oswald Kensington concerning the Muggle Cooperation Act, which passed that day. Professor Aberfoyle milled amongst the students, receiving congratulations. Of concern to many of the students, however, the Headmaster was nowhere to be seen. Nervous that he was not going to arrive at all after the events of the previous year, some of the students grilled the faculty as to his whereabouts. The staff reassured them that all was well, as Professor Dowling had merely gone to escort former school nurse Robin Kayenta, to the school. The staff seemed much more agitated at the absence of Professor Deserand, the new Herbology professor.

As the students began to congregate in the Great Hall, Deputy Headmistress Sachiko Kobiyashi hovered near the podium with Professor Aberfoyle and Professor Boudreaux. A strangely-dressed man, who almost looked to be a Muggle, stood conversing with them. Professor Kobiyashi cleared her throat and stepped to the lectern. “Students,” she began to address them, “please take you seats. We’re waiting for Headmaster Dowling. He should be here shortly.”

Professor Boudreaux said to her softly, “Professor, we can’t be sure he’ll make it back soon.”

“Perhaps we should start without him,” Professor Aberfoyle offered, casting a glare at Senator Kensington, who had seated himself in the front row of the students, oblivious to the fact that his presence was unwelcome.

“Perhaps you’re right,” the Deputy Headmistress replied pensively. “Students, please settle in.” As they all took a seat, she continued. “I hope you all enjoyed your time away from school. The faculty and I are glad to have you back and look forward to teaching you this term. Now, there is something we want to address with you before we start this term. As most of you have heard, several members of the wizarding community have gone missing recently, including our own Mistress Craefter. Rest assured that the Aurors Service is doing everything in their power to solve these disappearances. In a surprising and welcome turn of events, we find ourselves with a new ally. At this time I would like to introduce Mr. Simon Drake of the Muggle government’s United States Congress. He will be acting as a liason between the wizarding community and the Muggle government and will be staying with us this term to learn a little bit more about us. Mr. Drake?”

She gestured to the podium, and the strangely-dressed Muggle, wearing a pinstripe suit and red tie, approached the lectern and shook her hand. “Thank you, Deputy Headmistress,” he said. “I want to thank you and the rest of the faculty for your hospitality.” Turning to the students, he began to address them. “As Professor Kobiyashi told you, I work in the House of Representatives, and am a member of both the Homeland Security and Education and Labor committees. I have also been appointed as the official liaison between the wizarding and Muggle communities. Can anyone tell me what a liaison is?”

One student raised her hand. “A liaison is an official go-between who coordinates between two organizations.”

Congressman Drake was clearly impressed. “I couldn’t have put it better myself,” he said. “My goal as liaison is for the Muggle and wizarding communities to work more closely together. Doing so, we hope to avoid making the mistakes that our British allies made during the dark times of Lord Voldemort. As I understand it, there is a Muggle Studies class here at Avistrum, which means you know a thing or two about us, but your culture remains a mystery to Muggles. It is time for us to learn a little more about the dynamics of your community. As such, I will be auditing some of the classes this term.”

A small murmur arose among the students, surprised that a Muggle would be permitted to observe classes in a school of magic. Clearly sensing this, Drake continued. “I know some of you may find this prospect disconcerting. Let me assure you that the Muggle government has no interest in asking you to change your ways, or to adopt any of ours. On the contrary, our intent is simply to bring our two unique cultures closer together. To that end, I have been given the resources by my peers to assist the wizarding community in solving these disappearances.”

Senator Kensington, who had been sitting calmly to this point, rose and pointed his cane at Drake. “Senator Oswald P. Kensington,” he declared himself to the startled Drake. “Just know that not everyone in the wizarding community supports this new ‘spirit of cooperation!’ This plan will fail, and I will be there to watch you fall flat on your back! Good day, sir!” With that, Kensington strode past Drake and out of the hall. Professor Aberfoyle was visibly angered at his colleague’s outburst, and had to be restrained by Professor Kobiyashi as Kensington stormed out.

However, Drake seemed nonchalant. “Don’t worry, we have those in my government, too,” he joked to the students. “Well, I’ve bored you all long enough, and I don’t want to keep you from your education. Have a wonderful term. Thank you again, Deputy Headmistress.”

“Thank you, Mr. Drake, for offering your services and those of your government to the wizarding community,” she demurred. “I’m sure this will be the start of a wonderful relationship. Students, I expect all of you to treat Mr. Drake as one of our own this term, and I encourage you to talk with him as much as possible. I’m sure we have as much to learn from him as he does from us.”

“Hear, hear!” Professor Aberfoyle called, leading the faculty and students in enthusiastic applause.

The Headmaster came in while the applause continued, wearing a black snakeskin cloak and a green tie and sweater vest. “Sorry I’m late,” he half-shouted, half-mumbled to Kobiyashi as he walked right past her and sat down with the students in Kensington’s now-empty seat. The faculty all exchanged astonished looks, and several of them rose to speak with Professor Dowling, but Professor Boudreaux was the one to walk down, calmly, and stand at the Headmaster’s side. Dowling looked up at him, a bit sheepishly, and said, “Hi, how’s it going? Oh, you’re Aleator Boudreaux, aren’t you? Papa says I should get to know you.”

“That’s wonderful, Clark,” Boudreaux said soothingly, then whispered abruptly, “what are you doing?”

“What do you mean?” Dowling said in apparent confusion.

“You’re supposed to be up there, Clark,” Boudreaux replied, pointing at the faculty dais.

“Oh, okay,” Clark replied, looking chastised, and walked reluctantly up to the dais. Professor Kobiyashi gestured toward the podium, and Clark said, “What? Really?” As his deputy nodded, he said, petulantly, “Okay, fine,” and stood nervously at the lectern.

“Um, hi,” he began, “my name is Clark Xavier Dowling. Um, I’m really sorry I’m late,” he said, pleadingly, to Kobiyashi. “Did I miss the sorting?” He looked at Aberfoyle. “Did you already get sorted?”

“What?” Aberfoyle replied incredulously. “We’re the instructors, Clark!”

“Of what?” Dowling asked, fascinated.

Kobiyashi gently guided Dowling to the seat next to Professor Aberfoyle, and said, “Well, let’s begin the sorting, shall we? Heads of House, please join me around the Lights of Sorting.”

Kobiyashi, Aberfoyle, Boudreaux, and Lady Viola Fey, the heads of Lobostro, Parador, Colubrae, and Enigmus houses, respectively, stood around the platform to summon the Great Eagle.

“Parador!” Aberfoyle exclaimed, pointing his wand at the platform. A ruby-red light illuminated the Parador phoenix carved into its surface.

“Enigmus!” Lady Viola followed suit, bathing the Enigmus sphinx in a sapphire glow.

“Lobostro!” called Kobiyashi, and the Lobostro wolf glowed amber.

“Colubrae!” Professor Boudreaux finished, and the dragon of Colubrae house flared emerald green.

“Greeting, students,” the Great Eagle’s voice came, from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The heads of house returned to their seats as its voice continued. Describing the way in which it was first summoned to sort new students, it then called this year’s incoming students forward to be sorted.

When all of the students were finally sorted into their houses, Kobiyashi congratulated them. “Welcome to all our new students. I know you will make your houses proud.” She began to return to her seat, as Clark squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. Unable to contain his confusion any longer, he blurted, “What about me? I haven’t been sorted yet!”

“What?” Aberfoyle asked him quizzically, more perplexed than ever.

“Don’t all first years get sorted right away? That’s what Papa told me!”

As the faculty all stared at him, finally realizing what was happening, Kobiyashi was the first to recover. “Right. Of course,” she fumbled. “It was… because you were late. You weren’t on the official roster.”

“Oh,” he said, embarrassed again, “sorry.”

“It’s alright,” she reassured him. Then, not sure what else to do, she called his name. “Clark Dowling.”

He walked with trepidation onto the platform. “Welcome, Clark,” the Eagle greeted him.

“Um, hello,” he said, nervously. “Why is it talking to me? It didn’t talk to anyone else,” he whispered to the students sitting nearest to him.

“Although you represent each house of Avistrum well,” the Eagle said, as each of the lights fired in turn, first Parador, then Enigmus, then Lobostro, and finally Colubrae, “you are, and always shall be, Enigmus!” The sapphire light glowed alone, confirming the Eagle’s pronouncement.

“Great!” Clark exclaimed, then grew troubled. “Oh, Papa’s not going to like this,” he grumbled. “He wanted me to be a Colubrae like him,” he whispered in explanation to Professor Kobiyashi.

She nodded, unsure how to respond, and finally gestured for him to take his seat among the students, which he did gladly, clearly not enjoying the scrutiny from the other students.

Bewildered but purposeful, she returned to the podium. “Students, we’ll be handing out your schedules in just a moment. Mr. Darkshine, Mr. Mare, will you please give the schedules to the Prefects?” The two Head Boys took the stack of schedules from her and distributed them to the Prefects. She continued. “As you’ll be able to see, on Saturday, you’ll all have Dueling with Mr. Rein Darkshine and Mr. Solace Mare, our Head Boys, followed by either Charms with myself, or Potions with Professor Voertigern. Then, after lunch, you’ll have either History of Magic with Professor Boudreaux, or Dragonology, taught for the first time by our very own Mr. Maldraco Davante. Finishing out the day, you’ll have a combined lesson in Defense Against the Dark Arts, taught by Professor… uh-oh!”

“Prefects, please bring back the schedules,” Professor Boudreaux called, realizing the problem. “I believe we need to make an alteration to the schedules for Defense class.”

“Yes,” Professor Aberfoyle chimed in, “our… usual Defense professor seems to not be here,” trying to avoid Clark’s confused gaze.

“Are we still having class?” Dowling asked, clearly unaware that he was the Professor to whom they were referring.

“Yes, yes!” Boudreaux replied nervously. “We’ll have a… guest lecturer?” he asked the other faculty, who all nodded apprehensively.

Shrugging, Aberfoyle murmured as he waved his wand above the collected schedules, making the necessary modifications. He then handed them back out to the Prefects, who distributed them to the student body. Kobiyashi continued going over the schedule. “So, Sunday you will have Dueling again, followed by Charms and History of Magic. After the lunch break comes Potions and Dragonology again, and finally, Muggle Studies, where you’ll have a field trip with Coach d’Medici. Please note that Muggle Studies is mandatory this year. With that, you are all dismissed. Enjoy the dessert social.”

The students all rose to head to the Roaring Mouse for refreshments, but Kobiyashi beckoned to Dowling, “Clark, could you stay behind for a moment?”

Grumbling once again, Clark Dowling the student stayed back to talk to the Professor. Mr. Drake pulled Professor Aberfoyle aside urgently, concerned about this strange business. The other professors worked to present an appearance of calm to the students, although they were clearly as perplexed as anyone.

After a while, Professor Voertigern led Clark off to give him a tour of the castle, while the other Professors gathered the students once again to try to enlist their help. “We don’t yet know what is affecting the Headmaster’s memory,” Professor Boudreaux told the students, “and until we do, it is important that you don’t attempt to tell him anything about his life. It could very easily backfire and cause more damage. For now, just treat him as a student like yourselves, and we will try to figure out what’s happening to him.” With that, the Professors hurried around the castle, attempting to remove any obvious indicators of the Headmaster’s history. They removed the certificates showing his graduation from Avistrum and from Auror Academy, his trophies, and Coach covered up his portrait that hung in the entrance of the castle.

Saturday, as classes were about to begin, Clark arrived with the rest of the students, now dressed in a royal blue cloak and sporting the uniform of an Enigmus student. He had a guest with him, however – Professor Audrey Trouble Deserand! She, like Clark, was dressed as an Enigmus student, clearly just as oblivious as Clark was to her true age and identity. When he saw her, Professor Aberfoyle hurried her off to “meet” the other professors, hoping they could learn what was affecting her.

Dueling class was a boisterous affair, with students very eager to build on what they had learned in the previous term about defensive spells and stances. Rein Darkshine and Solace Mare were able teachers once again, leading the students in a review of the formal stances, the shield charm, protego, and introducing them to a new bubble charm, parietus. They also discussed the ban on amulets and talismans in formal duels, and how each participant in a duel was entitled to cast the amulet-breaking charm talis expulso before the start of a duel. Clark displayed quite a proficiency for the class, and even seemed to fall into his own natural combat stance periodically.

As the dueling class was getting out, a shadowy figure peeked out from a doorway in the corridor. Professors Aberfoyle and Voertigern spotted the tall and gave chase, but the mysterious infiltrator rounded a corner and vanished before they could apprehend him or her.

Clark’s father, Samuel Dowling, arrived at the school around that time, concerned for his son. The professors made sure he knew to treat Clark as though he were still a schoolboy, just as everyone else did. Also soon to arrive was Robin Kayenta, the former school nurse and a good friend of all the faculty. It appeared that whatever had befallen Clark on his way to escort her had not affected her. She consulted with the professors to see what could be done for Clark and Trouble.

Not so easily handled, however, was Senator Kensington, who thundered into the school and made a beeline straight for Dowling, peppering him with insults as usual. Clearly confused, Clark simply asked him, “Who are you? You’re really loud!” Discomfited by this response, Kensington could only splutter as Clark continued on his way to Charms class.

In Charms that afternoon, the Enigmii and Lobostros made their own wands, then practiced Summoning Charms and Exploding Charms. Mr. Drake sat observing, obviously impressed when the students caused a bag to move across Professor Kobiyashi’s desk using accio, and popped balloons by casting reducto. Clark and Trouble both did well, although they did get in trouble for passing notes.

As the students came back from their lunch break, they discovered a new problem. There, in the common room, sat Polonius Aberfoyle dressed in student robes as well! Whatever had affected Professors Dowling and Deserand had now claimed a third victim. Polonius was quick to make the acquaintance of the other two “students,” then trotted off to Dragonology class.

In History of Magic, Professor Boudreaux taught the Enigmii and Colubraes about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693, which were a particularly troubling time in Muggle history and led directly to the founding of Avistrum Academy, as well as contributing to the passage of the International Statute of Secrecy. Simon Drake shared with them that the Witch Trials are a continuing theme in Muggle politics as well, with several other ugly episodes in Muggle history being compared to them.

Once again, Clark managed to get himself in trouble, and this time the punishment was rather severe. “Clark, as your detention, you are going to teach this afternoon’s class in Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Boudreaux informed him gravely.

“What? That’s not fair,” he protested.

Aberfoyle was similarly outraged. “How come he gets to teach? What do I have to do to get that kind of punishment?”

Despite their protests, Dowling did in fact teach the afternoon’s Defense Against the Dark Arts lecture. He struggled to think of a topic on such short notice, but eventually decided to teach about closet monsters, with which he had quite a bit of experience at Wendell’s Dwelling, the orphanage started by his parents. Although he began the class quite timidly, by the end, he had clearly hit his stride, and almost seemed to be himself again. As soon as class was done, however, he was once again merely the student Clark Dowling.

Classes done for the day, the students gathered for the finals in the school Quidditch tournament, which had gone to Parador each of the last three years. It was not to be this year, however, as Colubrae claimed its first championship since 2005 and took the lead in the House Cup championship.

As students returned for their second round of dueling instruction the next day, they discovered that no progress had been made on returning their professors to heir right minds. The rest of the faculty continued to treat them as students, still unsure how hard to push them. However, it soon became clear they had some ideas. Also, the scoreboard for the House Cup did not look right. It read Colubrae 0, Parador 25, Lobostro 35, and Enigmus 620! It seemed that Dowling had figured out that he was still permitted to give and take points! Professor Boudreaux assured them that it would be fixed and sent them on to dueling class.

Following a review of the previous day’s defensive spells and stances, Solace and Rein led the class in exercises to review and improve their offensive capabilities, including the stunning spell stupefy and the disarming charm expelliarmus. However, the majority of the class time was spent holding mock duels. Near the end of class, Rein called on Dowling and Aberfoyle to duel one another.

As they bowed to one another, and were about to cast the talis expulso charm, Clark said sheepishly, “Oh, I guess I should take this off,” and pulled a pendant from around his neck, handing it to Solace.

“Yeah, I suppose I should remove this as well,” Polonius countered, removing a suspiciously similar pendant from under his sweater and handing it over to Rein. As the two handed over their pendants, they both visibly straightened. Clark dropped into his customary fighting stance, and Polonius also seemed changed, cracking his neck and gazing intently at his opponent. They fought two rounds, with Clark barely edging his friend and colleague both times, but it was clear they were tapping into knowledge much deeper than what Rein and Solace had just taught the class. However, the two quickly took back the strange-looking objects and put them back around their necks.

The day’s lessons progressed, with each house switching lessons from the day before. Fortunately, no other professors developed the amnesia that had struck Dowling, Deserand, and Aberfoyle. The shadowy figure from the day before breached the school’s defenses again just before lunch, however. Professors Voertigern and Kobiyashi gave chase, but came up empty-handed once more.

That afternoon the “Muggle Safari” set off under Coach d’Medici’s lead to explore the MileHiCon convention that was taking place nearby. Coach led them around, explaining some things about Muggle behavior, and asking them to speculate on some of the more unusual things they observed, such as a presentation about automatons, or “robots,” as the Muggles called them. Before long, however, the students lost focus, as they spotted the cloaked figure on a walkway above them. Every time they spotted him, he would vanish, only to reappear a few moments later in a completely different place. Barely corralling the panicked students, Coach bravely tried to shepherd them back to the school by herself as she signaled the other faculty members with her Proteus-charmed coin. Finally, Professors Boudreaux, Kobiyashi, and Voertigern, along with Robin, Maldraco and Signa, arrived to help escort the students safely back.

In the commotion of their arrival, however, Lobostro Prefect Cancer Douglas spotted the hooded stalker, and drew his wand to give chase. However, poor Cancer’s wand misfired, and he fell down with his injured foot. Signa and Robin stayed back to tend to him, while the professors shepherded the very frightened students back to the castle.

The students gathered in the Common Room, waiting for news on Cancer’s injury. A couple minutes later, Signa and Robin came in carrying the wounded student. They set off past the students on their way to the hospital wing.

Stupefy! Stupefy!” cried a voice, and Signa and Cancer fell to the ground stunned. Robin tried to flee, but the shadowy figure stepped toward her, wand pointed at her heart. It was Kraven Bloodthorne! The long-lost Divination professor stared coldly at her.

Professor Kobiyashi was quick on the draw. “Drop your wand and release her!” she commanded Bloodthorne, both her wands drawn and aimed straight at him in an instant. Bloodthorne reacted quickly, grabbing Robin and pulling her in front of him as a shield, his wand now pointed at her throat.

“Kraven, think about what you’re doing,” Professor Boudreaux said to him calmly, though his wand, too, was now drawn. “You’re outnumbered and outgunned. Put the wand down and we’ll work this out.”

“None of you have any idea,” Bloodthorne responded, though his usually cold voice was even more flat than usual, almost emotionless. He continued in a near-monotone, “Those from Avistrum, those close to you, have been taken. Now, prepare to lose another.” He hesitated for the briefest instant, however, his wand wavering.

“Get your hands off my wife!” came the voice of Clark Dowling, as he pushed his way toward the front of the crowd of students. “Move!” he thundered, and the crowd parted for him. It was clear he was himself again, and he was not about to let Bloodthorne do this!

Mobilicorpus,” he cast, and Robin was pulled from Bloodthorne’s arms, safely into the crowd of students.

Stupefy,” Bloodthorne countered, but Dowling reflexively dodged the spell, which hit Simon Drake behind him. Drake crumpled to the ground as Dowling spun around.

He cried, “Expell…” then fell to his knees, clutching at his chest. An instant later, Aberfoyle and Deserand also fell to the ground, clutching at their heads, moaning in pain.

Bloodthorne staggered back, dazed. He shook his head as though clearing away years worth of cobwebs, and found himself with the wands of most of the other professors pointed at him. “What’s going on? Where am I?”

Robin rushed to Clark’s side, cradling his head in her lap. “What’s wrong?” she implored him. “Tell me what’s wrong!”

He looked at her and mumbled weakly, “Robin,” then lost consciousness. Aberfoyle and Deserand too passed out. The three twitched occasionally as though in the throes of some awful nightmare, but they could not be roused.

Bloodthorne was still incoherent. “What happened?” he asked, hoping for some sign of mercy or help from the faculty with their wands trained on him.

Robin looked accusingly at Bloodthorne. “You did this,” she said, boiling with anger.

“What?” he replied, stunned at the accusation. The rest of the faculty began grilling him with questions, demanding to know what he had done to their fallen comrades.

Finally, Bloodthorne lost it. “Listen!” he shouted at them. “I don’t know how this happened, or even how I got here, but I can help them.” He looked from Boudreaux to Kobiyashi to Voertigern, pleading with them. “Let me help them!”

“How can we trust you?” Boudreaux countered coldly.

“Keep my wand,” Bloodthorne said, offering it to him. “I won’t need it for this.”

Finally, the faculty lowered their wands as Bloodthorne handed over his wand, removed his glove and knelt by the Headmaster’s side. Touching Dowling’s shoulder, he closed his eyes and concentrated. “They’re all linked,” he murmured. “Their minds are locked together by a curse. Dowling’s emotions, his love for you,” he said, his eyes snapping open and fixing on Robin’s, “fought against it. Wait,” he continued, closing his eyes once more, as his hand traveled toward Clark’s chest. He pulled forth the pendant which Clark had removed briefly in dueling class. “This is causing it. Check the others.” When no one moved fast enough for him, he grew exasperated. “It’s killing them!”

Rein knelt at Professor Aberfoyle’s side and found the amulet around his neck. Professor Kobiyashi found the one around Professor Deserand’s. Bloodthorne instructed them. “The objects must be destroyed to break the curse. But there are severe consequences.”

Professor Voertigern asked him, “What? What are the consequences?”

“It’s unclear,” Bloodthorne mumbled, falling back into his meditative trance. “But it’s clear we need them. We need Deserand, we need Aberfoyle…” he trailed off, then opened his eyes and said, almost dejectedly, “and we need Dowling.”

“Please, save him,” Robin said pleadingly.

“We need to destroy these objects now,” Kobiyashi said determinedly.

“Is there a spell that will work to destroy them?” asked Professor Voertigern.

“Well, we taught that amulet-destroying spell in dueling class,” Rein offered. “Talis expulso. Will that work?”

“Yes, yes!” Bloodthorne responded. “If you combine your efforts, it should be powerful enough to do it. But you’ll have to destroy them simultaneously, or all three of them are at risk.”

Kobiyashi and Boudreaux quickly broke the students into three groups to stand around each of the amulets, wands drawn.

“On the count of three, students,” Kobiyashi ordered them. “1, 2… 3!”

Talis expulso!” exclaimed all the students. Almost immediately, the unconscious professors came to their senses, groggily sitting up.

“I saw them!” Aberfoyle shouted, almost as if waking from a nightmare. “I saw them!” re repeated emphatically, more to Clark and Trouble than to anyone else.

“Who?” Aleator asked him.

Trouble answered. “Moffatt, Craefter, Greywolf, Avarra. Even Professor Ward! I saw them too!”

“And, are they alive?” Coach asked her.

“Not all of them,” Clark replied ruefully. He looked at Robin. “Are you alright?”

“I am now,” she said, embracing him tightly.

“What was the consequence of destroying the curse?” Bloodthorne asked. “I couldn’t see it.” The admission seemed to pain him.

The three professors exchanged an intense look. Then Dowling nodded, indicating that they needed to share what they had seen.

“It’s Persephone,” Aberfoyle said darkly. “She’s back.”

The faculty and students blanched. They knew what it had taken to defeat Persephone, the terrible thing they had done, erasing her mind, seemingly forever. Trouble explained. “The curse linked all of our minds together with hers. When it was broken…” she trailed off.

“It freed her mind, too,” Dowling finished grimly.

“Are you alright, sir?” Boudreaux asked him. “I mean, are you… you?”

“We can discuss who I am after we get these students ready for closing ceremonies.” He looked pointedly at Bloodthorne. “I need to speak with you right away about all of this.” Bloodthorne nodded.

Signa, having been roused by Maldraco, came to the Headmaster with her wand drawn to check him for further ill effects. “I’m fine,” he dismissed her brusquely, “but make sure Professor Deserand and Professor Aberfoyle are, as well.” He looked down to see his attire, and said, “and I believe a change of clothes is in order.”

“It looks like he’s back to himself,” Kobiyashi joked, as she ushered the students out of the Common Room in order to prepare for Closing Ceremonies.

The students filed back in at the appointed time for Closing Ceremonies, to see that Bloodthorne was now seated with the faculty. The Headmaster, dressed once again like a grown-up wizard, approached the podium to address them. Before he could begin, however, Kensington strode into the Great Hall brandishing a parchment scroll.

“I have a warrant to detain Kraven Bloodthorne for questioning concerning the destruction of the Timmernak School for Boys, and the disappearances of Adante Avarra, Evangeline Craefter, Grasella Moffatt, and Secretary Greywolf.”

“Under whose authority?” Professor Voertigern challenged him.

“That of the Federal Auror’s Service,” Kensington responded icily. He turned to Bloodthorne. “Will you surrender your wand and come with me?” he demanded.

“I will,” Bloodthorne responded coldly, and stood up. He towered over Kensington. The smaller man bristled, refusing to be intimidated. “Such atrocities you’ve committed,” he blustered. “I can’t imagine anyone coming to your defense.”

“You’re wrong, Senator,” Dowling assured him. “I will.”

“And I will,” Kobiyashi said, standing.

“As will I,” Aberfoyle joined in, also standing. The rest of the faculty chimed in as well.

“So will Colubrae House,” Tanda, the Colubrae Prefect said, standing, and her fellow Colubraes stood with her.

“And Enigmus,” Kore-Rhi Drakenwolf, Prefect for Enigmus, said.

“And Lobostro,” Cancer Douglas affirmed.

“And Parador,” Amelia Emberwing, the Parador Prefect, Rein Darkshine, and Solace Mare said together.

Kensington remained unimpressed. “Your wand, sir,” he demanded once again of Bloodthorne.

“I will give it to someone I trust,” Bloodthorne responded, turning and handing it to Dowling.

“I’ll be right behind you, Kraven,” Clark said to him. Bloodthorne nodded, and allowed himself to be ushered out at the point of Kensington’s wand.

Dowling turned to the students and said to them, “If you had told me when I was a schoolboy that someday I would be here, in front of all of you, I would have said you were crazy. Over the course of this term, you have seen some of what I was like as a boy – boisterous, unruly, usually in trouble. I never would have believed that someday I would be a teacher, let alone the Headmaster of this school. I also never would have believed you if you said that someday I would trust Kraven Bloodthorne, even count him as an ally. Nonetheless, that is where I find myself now. It appears that dark days lie ahead of us, but remember that I vow never to give up, never to surrender, and I hope that none of you will, either.

“I would have said you were crazy,” he said one more time, shaking his head. “At any rate, I believe there are some awards to hand out.” He proceeded to award the Quidditch trophy to Colubrae house and their champion.

“And now, of course, for the House Cup! Lady Viola, if you please!”

The Lady whisked the cover of the board away to reveal the final tally: Lobostro in 4th place, Parador in 3rd, Enigmus in 2nd by only 10 points, but in first place, ending the longest drought among the four houses, was Colubrae house. “Colubrae, it’s your year!” Lady Viola exclaimed. The staff all shook Professor Boudreaux’s hand to express their congratulations as well. The Professor joined his students in celebration of their victory as the term came to a close.

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