Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup

Notes: this helped me work out some issues I was stuck in within the Curses series. This is a 'what if' story based on the premise that Alex got to raise Harry instead of Petunia. Just a bit of fluff for the list.

No Sane Man.

Dumbledore knocked on the large paneled doors, looking at the older man who was standing there. He was probably about sixty, which was middle aged for a wizard, and he was wearing jeans and a dirty t-shirt. "Alexander Dumass?"

"As usual," he said dryly, leaning against the old wood. "What did I supposedly do wrong now? And who're you?"

"I'm Albus Dumbledore. I taught you Transfiguration."

"Oh. Yeah." He nodded. "Okay, and?"

Dumbledore nodded. "May I?" Alex let him inside, closing the door behind him. He turned to look at him. "Did you hear anything about Godric's Hollow last night?"

"No," he said slowly. "What happened last night!" he yelled.

"Big fight," one of his maiden aunts called back. She came out, looking at the older man. "Headmaster! What's going on?"

"There's two relatives left of one Harry Potter," he said calmly. "One is his mother's sister."

Alex knew that name very well. He knew that family, they were his. "That stupid bitch?" Alex demanded. "I wouldn't let her raise a house elf!"

"Or you," he noted calmly. "There's a one-year-old baby who needs a good home. One who can protect and nurture him."

"You're leaving him here, Albus Dumbledore!" the aunt ordered coldly.

"Aunt Cordy," Alex whined. "A little baby!"

She slapped him upside the head. "Yes!" She glared at the headmaster, who pulled open the sack he was carrying, handing her the baby. "Oooh, such a poor baby!" she cooed, smiling at him. "Alex look at him." He looked from his spot. She glared at him again. "Now!"

He sighed and came over, looking at the kid. "Hey, Harry." He touched his head and then glared at the headmaster. "This kid is as powerful as I am!" he said hotly. "What the hell happened! There's no way in hell that his parents were killed in a normal fight! Harry's innate magic would have protected them if it was as simple as someone breaking in."

"Voldemort," he said simply. "He survived the killing curse."

Alex glared at the baby, then at him. "You're leaving him here. Petunia is one lonely and absurd bitch. If he goes there, he's going to be ridden for being a wizard."

"If you wish. That's why I came here first," he said calmly. He bowed to Aunt Cordy. He knew that Alex's grandmother had pulled a resurrection ten years earlier, when Alexander had been harmed by a stray curse at a site. They had called back most of the family to nurse him back to health and to get those who had cursed him. Alexander hadn't even heard about who had set the trap that had nearly killed him and Bill Weasley. Alexander Dumass one of the best curse breakers in the world and most of the people involved had become very sorry very quickly - with a few notable exceptions. "Alexander, we'll need him trained," he said quietly, pulling him away again. "I think that Voldemort has tainted him with his death. Hence the curse scar on his forehead."

Alex raised an eyebrow. "The boy's a Dumass," he said dryly. "He'll be raised as a Dumass." Dumbledore nodded and left it there, leaving them. The boy would be raised and trained as a wizard.

Alexander looked at his aunt. "Bring him to Grams. Put the barristers onto his family's assets to freeze them for his use, hold down the press about whatever happened. I want to know immediately if there's something we should worry about. I'm going to test him for various curses and other issues that'll come back to haunt him." He carefully took the baby and walked out to his study, slamming the door with a kick of his foot.


Ten years later, Harry looked at the castle as the boat went across the lake. "Wow. Pretty," he said blandly. Ron Weasley, the kid he had met on the train and who had befriended him, gaped at him. "What? I've been around the world twice. It's a nice castle. You should see the haunted ones in Germany." He grinned a bit at him. "Relax, Ron."

"Harry, who are you?" he asked, looking amazed.

"Harry James Potter-Dumass." Ron gaped with real awe now so he shrugged. "Big deal. My uncle is Alex." The boats docked and he got out, helping Ron out. He walked up the stairs with him, looking at the other kids. He saw a few who could easily become threats, and snorted. No one was going to beat him. Not while his uncle was still alive. A blond boy sneered at him and he raised an eyebrow. "Hmm, a Malfoy," he said dryly.

"Who're you?" he sneered.

"Harry James Potter-Dumass." Malfoy backed up, blinking at him. He smirked a bit. "I usually just go by Harry though." He held out a hand. "This is Ron Weasley."

"I noticed," he said dryly.

Harry removed his offer of friendship and turned away from him. "Never mind. I don't want to know you." He looked at Ron again, he seemed pretty nice. "I'm not sure where I want to go. Uncle Alex started as a Slytherin but he was expelled for sleeping with the wrong person after some of the family died in a plague. Then he went to Gryffindor."

"Most of my family's been Gryffs for years," Ron offered. "I probably will be too." He ignored Malfoy's whispered comments to his friends.

"That might be nice," he admitted. The doors opened and a severe looking woman was standing there. Harry giggled at her glare in his direction. "Man, she has nothing on Auntie Nadia when she's on a rip," he said quietly. Ron just stared at him again. "Really." He listened to her speech as they walked into the castle, looking around at the various paintings. A few he recognized since his aunt had him help her with the family's paintings. He waved to two in his family, getting smiles back.

"Getting new fans, Dumass?" Malfoy called.

Harry snorted. "They're family, Malfoy. I'm sure you've got a few around here too." They paused outside the doors to the Great Hall when she slipped inside. He looked around again, then at Ron. "It'll be fine, breathe," he instructed quietly. Ron took a deep breath. The doors opened and they walked inside, looking at the floating candles and the charmed ceiling. It was impressive, he decided. He looked at the hat, wondering what sort of spells were on it. It sang its song and he shivered, feeling something was going to happen.

His Uncle Alex had told him about life and world changing events. He knew his sorting would be one probably but he had no idea why. When his name was called, everyone in the room stared at him, most mouths open. He raised an eyebrow at a few of them, mimicking his uncle. His uncle had told him how to take fame in step and make fun of the people who thought you were famous for stupid stuff. He walked forward, letting the old hat be put on his head. "Hi," he said quietly.

"Mr. Potter. Very nice to finally see you."

"Potter-Dumass, please."

"Very well." The hat hummed. "You're quite powerful and partially trained already. What did that bastard who is your Grandfather do if I may ask? He was always an odd one, that Alexander."

"He took me with him."

"Interesting. Power, yes, much power. Much strength of will. You're nearly as stubborn as he was. You've got bravery more than most. You have a strong destiny as well from what I can see."

"So he told me, and I told him if I had to, I would. If not, I'm a live and let live sort."

"Indeed. That's always a good thing. Your uncle was definitely a hothead. Slytherin would do well for you. Hmm, very well for you."

"Yes, but they don't look too friendly and I'd like to be friends," he said quietly. "I've been with him for a few years now. I don't know too many people. I tend to not know how to make friends and talk to people."

"Hmm. Still, you could find some in Slytherin."

"Not from what Uncle said."

"Good point, but it would still do you well. Though, if all you want is friendship, Gryffindor might be good for you. Then again, with the power in you...."

"Power is nothing without control and desire. I have no desire to save the world or rule the world. All I want is to be a normal kid without all the traveling for a while. I want to play quidditch and play pranks. I really want a steady stream of baths that aren't boiled in a cauldron in the desert."

"Gryffindor it is then," the hat announced to everyone.

Harry handed it off and walked over there, grinning at Ron when he joined him. "Welcome." Ron grinned and shook his hand. Harry grinned down at the rest of the house, waving. "Hi."

"Hi," a few said back. The last kid was sorted and the food appeared, making him one happy boy. He had hoped he wouldn't be eating camp food all year. He hated camp food. He piled his plate up and started to dig in, grinning over at Ron. "This is much better than camp food."

"Camp food?" one of the girls around him asked.

"My Uncle Alex took me with him on his last few jobs. He said it was better than me sitting around being tormented by the aunties. Otherwise I'd be a girly little boy like Malfoy."

Ron snickered. "He's such a poofter," Ron agreed.

Harry nodded. "He is, but Uncle Alex likes them like that. Maybe he'll take that one into hand and fuck him into good manners." Many of the girls at the table glared at him for that. "Have you met my Uncle Alex?" he joked blandly. "He's slept with half the world. I got to wander around Cairo with some guy named Bill for two weeks because he was off scratching that itch as he put it."

"Bill?" Ron asked, sitting up straighter. "Redhead like me? Tall guy? Ponytail? Earring?"

Harry beamed and nodded. "Yeah, Uncle Bill was one of Uncle Alex's students. He taught him everything he needed to know in the field and nearly killed him a few times."

"That's my big brother, Harry," Ron told him. "He's nearly gotten him killed more than a few times according to Mum. Man!" He hit himself on the forehead. "Mum read Bill's letter about walking you around, cursing at Alex because he lasted so long that time." Harry snickered at that. "How did you like my big brother?"

"He was pretty neat," Harry assured him, starting to eat again. "Bill was really nice to me. He introduced me to three belly dancers he knew, and a few native witches he worked with. I got to hang out at Gringotts and sit in on the language lessons now and then too. Alex was always at Gringotts handing something off. We ended up there a lot so I sat in on a lot of classes. I learned how to swear in Chinese last year." Ron giggled at that, kicking him under the table. "Your big brother was fairly neat, Ron. Really patient too. He only told me three times not to talk or look at any of the market's vendors."

Ron nodded. "He's like that with me too, always a big brother." He ate a bite of chicken. "Eat, Harry. Don't waste it."

Harry ate another bite, looking around. He saw Malfoy staring at him and saluted him with his goblet of water, then ate another bite, staring back. There was no way such a pretty boy was getting the best of him.


Harry walked into Potions the next morning, looking at the man coming in. He frowned a bit as he walked to his seat, staring at him some more. He'd seen him somewhere before. He could swear he did. The teacher gave him an odd look, sneering down his nose at him. "That's who you remind me of! Grandma Des's sister's portrait!" he said happily, grinning at him.

"Who are you?" he said snidely.

"Harry Potter-Dumass." Snape snorted and went to start his ususal first day speech. Harry listened but he knew from the whole family that they couldn't brew a potion to save themselves, collectively even. He had already known he was going to fail in here. He did take notes, including what he knew. He'd write the family later about this. Maybe he was another relative. Snape stopped beside his desk so he looked up at him. "You really do look like her portrait, professor, and I think she married a Snape."

"She was my great-grandmother. Your father was...." He sneered more. "Pitiful."

Harry glared at him. "If you say so, Professor. What about my Uncle Alex?"

"We've never met."

Harry nodded. "Okay. I'm sure you will since I'm going to be here. Bothering you for at least five years. Not that anyone in my family can brew a thing." He shrugged. "Will you count me off if I'm honest? All the aunts say I'm more like them than anyone else."

"You must still try."

"Yeah, but not enough to drive myself insane, right?"

Snape stomped off, going to bother the rest of the students. He took points off Ron and looked much happier. He looked at the menace in his class again, then got an idea. "Mr. Potter." Harry glanced up and finished his chopping then put down his blade and looked more attentive. "Very nice. Where was the last place you brewed a potion?"

"Um, never, Uncle Alex refused to let me try. I helped him stir a few and they curdled. Just like his. I've helped cook now and then, if that counts any. I'm fairly good at making unicorn food and blasting open the stupid well in the backyard."

"What well?" he sneered.

"The one full of holy water that surrounds Uncle Alex's work area."

Snape blinked at that. "A holy water well?" Harry nodded. "Prove it."

Harry patted himself down then held up a finger and pulled his wand. "Accio holy water vial." It flew in a few minutes later and the teacher caught it, looking at it. "From his work area, in case a demon comes for me. He said it might happen and he didn't want me unprepared."

"What else are you carrying, Potter?" he sneered.

"It's Potter-Dumass. I only answer to those who get my name right, sir."

"Really? And what would you do otherwise?" he sneered.

"Nothing. I ignore people who aren't talking to me." He gave him an odd glare, then pointed his wand at Malfoy, who had his wand out. "Don't try it. He has taught me what he knows." Snape glared at him and he nodded at the wand. "I'm too much like him to sit here and take it." He stared his distant relative down, then pulled something out of his bag and put it on the desk. "Is that what you wanted to see?"

Snape walked forward, looking at the case now on his table. He snatched it and opened it, then stared at the boy. "You brought a weapon into this school?"

"The headmaster knows. I have permission, written permission, with my head of house and she's already seen that." He took it back and put it into his pocket. "It's the heir's sign and sigal."

"I know what it is." He crossed his arms, looking down at the boy. "Your uncle, he's taught you much?"

"As much as he could. I've gotten to go on many digs with him. I've spent time in many places. He can't brew a potion either," he admitted with a small grin. "We buy ours, professor. As a matter of fact, his last potions person just retired. Perhaps you know Master Hays, out of Gringotts?" He nodded once. "He was doing all his and he agreed with Alex that I can't brew and shouldn't be allowed to try." He tipped his head to the side. "Or were you talking about the fencing and the dueling?"

"Those," he admitted sourly.

"He taught me most of that last year. I really do need to keep in practice with my sword. He said he had a room of stuff around here. Do you know where it is? Professor McGonagall didn't when I asked her."

"I do," he admitted in a hiss. "Are you any good?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. I've only known now for a year. I suppose I'm okay. I would welcome testing myself so I can train more and get better. I know I can learn more. Uncle Alex is much better than I am."

"I know a bit about dueling myself," Snape noted. "As does Mr. Malfoy."

"I would welcome learning from you, sir, but can I just give up potions now?"

"No. Everyone must take it. You're not special."

"I never claimed I was. Just hopeless in this art. Charms and Transfiguration I'm good at. Defense I'm very good at. Potions I suck at. I'd rather not have to pretend for at least the next five years."

"We'll see." He walked off, going to test the water. He came out of his office. "Who blessed this...well?"

"The unicorns living on the property." He was still working on trying to get this one right. He tried, but it nearly exploded in his face. Fortunately he saw the bubbling and put up a shield bubble around it. It still exploded but it was contained. Harry moaned and put his head down, pounding his head on the desk. "I'm sorry," he announced. "At least it didn't hit anyone."

Snape sneered at him. "A bit dramatic, Potter- Dumass."

Harry looked at him. "What did you expect with who raised me?" he demanded with a slightly insane looking smirk. "I was raised by Uncle Alex. I've been with him for the past ten years and only with him for the last four." Snape shuddered a bit at that. "Yeah. Expect me to start singing in the halls when I finally find someone to shag, sir. I just hope I'm not the slut he is."

Ron gave him a shocked look. "We don't need to know that, Harry."

"Sorry. He is, but sorry."

"He is," Malfoy joked, nodding with a smirk at Harry. "How many times did he share, Potter?"

Harry ignored him. He looked at Snape and handed over his cauldron, bubble and all. "For you, sir. I was following instructions. I have no idea what I did wrong." He put his head back down, banging it a few more times.

Malfoy snickered. "At least you're not all powerful," he sneered.

Harry looked over at him. "I never said I was. Just fairly good at what I can do." He put his head back down again, shrugging his shoulders at the teacher. "Sorry."

"Ten points off Gryffindor for mouthing off in my class and being such a drama queen."

Harry groaned, putting his head back down and spacing off. Someone slapped the back of his head and he glared at the teacher. "Don't touch me," he snarled. "I'm being good. Feel lucky." He saw the others getting up and packed up his things, heading out with the others.

"Potter. Dumass," Snape amended and the boy looked at him. He held up the vial. "You shouldn't have this."

"I should have that but I've got others. You can have that one. He said that there's things around here that could try to harm others. I only handle things when I have to." He walked out, following after Ron at a jog. He felt the dagger slip and grabbed it, putting it on his belt like it was supposed to be. His next teacher looked at it and he shrugged. "Professor Snape wanted to see it." He sat down, looking at his friend. "Sorry about that."

"Not a problem. Mum said you were probably told to show your bum a few times when I wrote her about you. Why didn't your uncle drop you off? You looked so lost at the station."

"He was on his way to gather one of the Lost," he said quietly, looking down at his dagger, then back at his friend. "Another one died on a job and he had to retrieve them. He's about the only one who will. Apparently they were friends."

Ron nodded. "Bill told me about that job. He tried but he couldn't after a while." Harry nodded, looking at the teacher as she came in. Ron leaned closer to him. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. I blocked the explosion," he said dryly, smirking a bit at him and shrugging. "What do I know? There's no such thing as a Dumass who's good in potions." The teacher looked at them so he got to work taking notes. He heard a commotion in the halls and glanced back there, along with everyone else, and saw his uncle walking past the doorway. He waved at the teacher before running out, going to help him. "Uncle Alex!" His uncle stopped to look at him. "What's going on?"

"Bill got hurt. He's upstairs."

"His little brother Ron is my best buddy and he's in my class. Should I get him?"

"Please. Molly's not answering." Harry nodded and Alex went on.

Harry ran in and grabbed his bag and Ron's arm. "His brother just got taken upstairs by my Uncle. He needs him. His mother's not answering the floo yet." He hauled Ron off, following where his uncle had been. When he ran into a choice he pulled his wand and cast a tracking charm. It led him up the stairs in front of them and he ran up with Ron right behind him. They arrived out of breath but not too much later. He pushed Ron forward.

Alex looked at Ron, then pulled him closer to hug him. "He's fine, Ron. A cave just fell on him. He's a bit banged up and his head's a bit more dented, but nothing too tragic that we can't heal. We just need family with him right now." Ron gave him a trusting look and a nod. "Good boy. Now go call your parents. You'd know better how to reach 'em." Ron nodded, going over to the floo the nurse pointed at. Alex looked at Harry. "What are you two skipping? And why are you wearing your dagger in class? Have you had to use it already? It's only the first day, Harry. Not even I'm that bad."

Harry gave him a long stare. "Yes you are, but Professor Snape wanted to see it. I gave him one of the vials of holy water right before my potion exploded. Fortunately I cast a nice bubble around it first." Alex smirked a bit and gave him a hug. He relaxed against him. "Will Uncle Bill be okay?"

"He'll be fine, Harry. We're all hard-headed bastards in the field. Otherwise we'd have died within our first week of camp food." He looked over as an older woman came out. "Molly. A cave fell on him. He's good though. He'll live. Just a bit more dented in the head." She glared at him. "Hey, I got called to find him, not damage him more."

"Fine. Thank you, Alex. Why is Ron up here?" She looked at Harry. "Hello, dear. I see you got sorted with Ron?"

He beamed and nodded. "I did. Ron's my buddy. Uncle Alex said he needed family here so I pulled him with me." He led Alex off. "What is Professor Snape to us?" he asked quietly. "He looks just like Grandma Des's sister."

"They're basically the flipside of the family," he said quietly. "The same way the Malfoy and Weasley clans spread across a pretty single originator, we do. There's one here?"

"Yeah, he teaches Potions. He's a mean shit too. Called me a drama queen. I attributed that to you."

Alex beamed. "They're all good at potions, Harry. We're good in defense and charms and they're good in potions and herbology." He ruffled the messy dark hair. "What else happened?"

"Some sneering, some snorting, some dislike. I asked him if I could just give up now. That was before my potion exploded." Alex chuckled and hugged him. "He said he knows where your room is and he was going to test me in a duel."

"Good. You could use practice outside the family. Teach Ron how to fence. It can only help him." He grinned at Ron as he came back over. "It's a hard field, Ron, but Bill's got the hardest head of any of us since I was a newbie." He gave the kid a hug. "Thank you for taking good care of my nephew here. He's a special guy."

"Yeah, and he made Professor Snape sneer worse than anyone."

"I don't put up with primadonnas," Harry told him. "I get enough of that with Alex and Arens. Now *that's* a drama queen." Alex snickered and nodded. He looked up at his uncle. "Can you show me that room?"

"That depends. What're you skipping?"

"Transfiguration?" Harry offered sheepishly. "Which I'm pretty good at. You spent all last summer teaching me at that camp in Orion."

"I did," Alex agreed happily. "Sure. Madam Pomfrey, need me?" She glared and shook her head. "Hey, talk to Gringotts. They said bring us to you. I bring you those of us who're still alive. After all, no one else loves us like you do." He blew a kiss and walked Harry off, Ron following. "Shouldn't you ask your mother?"

"She told me to go back to class and drag Harry with me."

"Sweetie, when I was here, I maybe attended half my classes," Alex said dryly. "Of course, I was also *the* duel master of my generation. I spent a lot of time in duels for some reason," he noted dryly. He walked the boys down toward the dungeons, finding his room. He found the Potions master stomping up that way too. "Bill Weasley just got brought in, professor. I'm showing the boys my room. Mind much?"

"Uncle Alex, this is Professor Snape. Professor Snape, this is my uncle, Alex Dumass."

"Charmed," he said, shaking his hand. "Are you headed to the infirmary?"

"No, I wasn't called. I came out to stop the annoying prattle going on." He glared at Harry. "Are you not supposed to be in a class?"

"Yeah, but he needs me for the moment. Besides I can already transfigure pretty well. We ran out on a camp site and he had me working on stuff, like sheets. I do a mean cleaning spell too." He looked at his uncle, who opened the door and let him walk in. They all sneezed at the dust. "Eww. Scourgify!" he cast. The room was spotless and he grinned at his professor. "See? It comes in handy in the desert."

"It does," Alex agreed, pulling down two foils. He held up his. "This is my special blade, Harry. Until you can beat me, you may not use it." Harry and Ron both nodded. "Good boys. Now, en garde. I need to spend some time before I can get a report from Bill." He tossed one over and took up his usual stance.

Ron got out of the way, pulling the professor when Harry lunged and Alex blocked him. They watched them dance back and forth, and then Harry pulled his wand again, casting something at his uncle, making him laugh. "Bloody hell," Ron said in awe. The professor glared at him. "Sorry, sir. Never seen that technique." Alex winked at him and did a fancy side- step then disarmed Harry, putting his sword at his nephew's throat. "Harry, please yield?" he called.

"Ron, you sound like a damsel," Harry called back, ducking and body tackling his uncle, knocking him down and sitting on his arm, wand at his throat. "Yield or I'm covering you in jelly."

"Ewww. I'll never get it out of my hair." He bucked up and displaced the kid. "That works better if you out-mass your opponent, Harry." He got the kid onto his back and pinned down, smirking at him. "Like I do you," he said with a happy grin. "See why?" Harry kicked him in the chest and he winced and shifted some, pinning his legs now. "Try it again, Potter." Harry tried to move and couldn't, so he sighed and nodded. "Good try. Better than usual." He got off him and hauled his nephew up with a groan. "I see the food's still better here than I can do in a pot over the fire." He looked at the professor. "Do you duel?"

"I do," he admitted quietly.

"Good. Harry needs to practice against other opponents. He's got the feel for me but not others. Bill doesn't duel very well and Arens only duels for his man of the day." He smirked a bit and moved closer, tipping the man's face up. The chin was removed from his fingers. "You're Elizabeth's son," he said finally. Snape nodded. "She was a beautiful woman. I was sorry she died. She had a gentle nature before she married," he said quietly. Snape bowed his head a bit at that. "Do you fence?"

"I've tried in the past but I've never had formal lessons."

Alex smirked a bit. "I think I can make up for that." The bell rang. "What'cha got, Harrykins?"

"Um," he said, digging out his schedule. "Defense?" Ron looked and nodded. "Defense." He looked at his uncle. "Why did the defense teacher make my head hurt?" Snape and Alex both looked alarmed at that. "Last night. While they were sorting. It was just a twinge but it was there. I blocked it like Auntie Nadia taught me, Uncle Alex, but it still twinged."

"Really?" Alex noted calmly. "Interesting. I think I'll be here for a few days." He patted the boys on the back. "Go to defense."

"I have no bloody idea where it is," Harry snorted.

"Two halls up, turn right, go thirty steps, take a left, down the stairs, then up the adjoining one to the top, then left," Alex told him. "That's the traditional room." The boys nodded and gathered their stuff, heading out to follow directions. Alex looked at Snape. "I slept with your mother."

"She told me."

"Hmm. Good thing I know fertility charms. Huh?" he asked with a grin.

"Are you sure?"

"You look just like her."

"Maybe." He sneered a bit. "What happens if you suddenly get family?"

"Ummmmmmmmm. I'll have a major freak out and I'll yell and scream for a bit at the Fates. Then I'll get drunk, deal with it, and move on with as much contact as possible. Why? Do we need to do a parentage test?"

"It may be wise. My father was blond."

"Really? A blond Snape?" He shook his head. "Sure, if you want. I'll give blood for that. How long have you known?"

"Since I was ten. She got very ill and told me, then ordered me to forget it when she got better."

"Hmm. Deathbed confessions. Always one of my favorite things. So, this Quirrrel? What's he?"

"A stuttering imbecile."

"Ah." Alex sighed. "I know many of them." He put his sword on his back and his other two as well. "Don't you have a class?"

"No. Not at the moment."

"Pity. Want to get a butterbeer?"

"Not particularly."

"That's fine. Tell me if you want to do the test. I'm going to go lurk in the infirmary. Make sure Harry and Ron both get access to this room. I need Harry to practice. Especially if something's coming." He walked out, heading back up to look at Bill. He was awake and groaning. He shook his head, clucking his tongue a bit. "What did you do?" he asked fondly. "They told me you had died, Bill."

"I feel like it," he moaned, holding his head. "What happened?"

"Cave in." He stroked over his forehead. "You'll live. What happened before then?"

"Let him sleep," Madam Pomfrey called. She looked at the weapons he was carrying. "I doubt you need those!"

"These are mine, woman. Desist," he ordered, glaring at her. She backed off. "I also need a report for Gringotts." He looked over as the headmaster came in. "Morning, Headmaster. He got hit on the head with a cave."

"I heard. Did you send your nephew back to class?"

"Yup, to defense."

"Ah. Excellent." He smiled at the weapons. "Removing them?" he asked hopefully.

"No. Harry and Ron have my permission to get into anything I left stored here. I need Harry to continue his duel and fencing training." Bill snorted, then grabbed his head again. "He's not bad."

"He's not," Bill agreed. "He's still a brat, Alex, just like you were."

"It happens," he said with a grin. "Imagine what would've happened if the bloody bitch raised him." Bill shivered and Alex tucked him in. "There ya go. Your brother Ron made the connection earlier and Harry drug him up first to call your family. He'll be back tonight. I'll be back to get a report then. You behave."

"I always try," he said dryly. He shifted some and moaned, so the nurse came over to help him. "I'm sorry Gringotts makes you take care of us."

"It happens, Mr. Weasley. Better me than some unsuspecting mediwitch or healer." She tucked him in. "You rest. You can give your report when you wake up." She looked at Alex. "Out! Come back less armed."

"I'm always armed, Madam. People keep trying to kill me." He looked at the headmaster. "Why did Harry's head hurt when Quirrel looked at him?" The headmaster looked stunned. "He said it did."

"I don't know. I'll have to check." He led the curse breaker out. "I'll set you up in the usual suite? That way your nephew can come bother you later. The ghosts said you were fighting."

"Sparring, Headmaster. He needs practice. He also needs to play. I've had Harry with me for the last four years. I'm sure he's glad to have running water and real food that he doesn't have to cook." The headmaster smiled a bit at that. "He's also fairly good at what he does." He stopped him, staring him down. "Should something unsavory come for my nephew, I will be alerted first. He is a boy and shall not be required to handle anything that an older person can. That includes whatever sort of predator this Quirrel person is."

"He's fairly nice, but he stutters due to a vampire attack a few years ago," Dumbledore assured him.

"Ask me if I give a damn," Alex said blandly. Dumbledore nodded at the underlying threat. "Harry is my relative. He is my apprentice. Anything that takes on my heir, takes on me. Remember that. No matter where I am." He walked on. "The blue room?"

"Yes, that would be fine. The password's still swordfish."

"Thank you, Headmaster. I'll be working with him more later."

"Of course you will," he said quietly, staring at his back. He wasn't sure he hadn't made the wrong decision sending the boy to him. Alexander was an unpredictable wizard at times. Very unusual but very gifted. If Harry turned out like that...


Two months later, Harry was writing his uncle a letter in the library begging him to teach defense before Harry had to. This was getting really pathetic at points. Plus he was still having headaches. He finished it and read it over, then affixed the special ring to it. It was a portkey and took it to wherever his uncle was. It took a lot less time than an owl and this was getting desperate. He winced and grabbed his head again, rubbing his scar. Ron gave him a worried look and he shrugged. "I don't know." He rested his elbow on the table and his head in his hand, covering the aching part. "I'm about ready to kill whoever's doing this to me, Ron. I don't know what's going on." He heard the library door bang open and yanked his wand, turning to look at the source, Malfoy. He went back to his pitifulness. Malfoy was a blight, but he beat him all the time.

"Headache?" he sneered.

"Not really. More like skin splitting pain," Harry said lightly. "I'm sure you'd like to share it with me but I don't know the spell for that yet. I'll ask my uncle when he comes back to check on me." He winced and nearly doubled over as it happened again. "Bugger!" he said hotly, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. "Ron, I'm going to be sick," he announced.

Ron picked up their things and helped Harry up, taking him out of the library and toward the infirmary. "What is this?"

"If I had a clue, it'd be dead," he moaned, leaning on a wall as another surge went through him. "Mother fucking hell, Ron. Make it stop?"

"Petrificus totalis," Hermione Granger cast from behind them. "Ron, the other is moblicorpus."

"Moblicorpus," he said, pointing his wand at Harry's stiff form. It floated up a bit and he steered it with his wand. At least until he ran into a teacher and she shrieked. "Harry almost passed out from his forehead splitting open," he said over her yelling. It made her stop. "Granger froze him for me. Can you take over? I'll bump him on the stairs." She nodded, taking over the spell and hurrying him off with Ron behind him. Once up there, he pulled the teacher aside. "He had more than one hit tonight, Professor McGonagall. All we know is that it's something to do with Professor Quirrel. It aches in his scar. He said he was going to puke in the library so I helped him out and he got a third hit. That's when Granger hit him with the freezing."

She nodded, looking determined. "I'll talk to the headmaster." The doors slammed inward and someone stomped in, making her blush. "Alex."

"Minerva. Ron. What's going on?" He held up the letter. "I was in London getting an assignment."

"He's had at least three hits tonight," he offered. "He said it's like the scar's splitting open. Granger froze him so I could get him up here with the teacher's help."

Alex nodded and came over, casting something over the scar while the nurse worked. Then he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he looked at his former schoolmate. "Minerva. I need the headmaster. Voldemort's back somehow. Again." She went pale and he arched up an eyebrow. "Wither and cry later, woman. Now." She hurried off and he cast a blocking charm before unfreezing his nephew, looking down at him. "Hi, Harry. Thankfully I was in London getting a new assignment. How many times in the last week?"

"Four days," he said weakly. "It's almost Halloween, Uncle Alex," he whined.

"I know, sprout. Let me handle this." He looked over as the headmaster hurried in with Snape. "Morning. His scar's been throbbing. I cast a blocking on it, just below the skin. Where is he?"

"I don't know," Dumbledore said quietly.

Snape looked at him. "I've suspected Quirrel of doing something for him," he admitted quietly. "I don't know what however. There is a precious artifact within the castle."

"There's ten or twelve in here, Severus. Which one? Merlin's chalice? The Orb of Grace? The Onxy Ring of Defeat?"

"That's here?" Harry asked. "I thought you said it was in Mesopotamia."

"It had been but I left it here a few years back, kiddo." He looked at the headmaster. "What?"

"We recently imported Nicholas Flammel's stone," he said quietly.

"The philosopher's stone," he mused. "Interesting." Harry flinched and grabbed his head again and they all cast the counter this time. He looked at the headmaster. "Where is he?"

"In the Forbidden Forest."

"Right. I'll be back with him." He walked out, going to get that bastard and make him quit hurting his nephew. He found him coming out of the forest, then froze him. He walked around him, nodding a bit. The turban was flipped off and he found himself looking at an extra face. "Interesting." He floated the body up, taking him up to the castle. He felt the castle start to shriek in horror and waved at the body in front of him. "Look at the back of his head."

Dumbledore looked and flinched. "I don't know what that is."

"It's an unholiness," Alex told him. "Snape!" He came out, glaring at the body. He saw the face and grabbed his arm. "Really?" he asked dryly.

"I left," he noted quietly.

"Fine. Let's chain the bastard up, shall we? Before I lose my temper and turn him into pulp." They floated the body off to the office where Alex called his supervisor and pointed at the extra face. "I need references. Call Des and bring me some. Now." The goblin nodded and disconnected. Alex looked at the body as it woke up, raising an eyebrow. "Good morning. How's your head?" he asked with a slight sneer. "You'll tell me what I want to know, Quirrel. Or else." He walked closer, just being his usual badass self. The teacher whimpered. "Let me introduce myself. I'm Alexander Mikal Dumass. I thought your order was pitiful last time around. This time, you're bothering my nephew."

"Son," he ground out.

"Actually, grandson on one side and great-nephew on the other. But thanks for noticing," he sneered, looking very evil. The man whimpered and tried to move but he was still bound. "Oh, do try some more. I'm so looking forward to talking to you." The man tried to move more as a goblin came in. The goblin came over to look at the other face, poking it. The eyes opened and looked stunned. "What is it?"

"Voldemort. He's a ghoul. This can only be done willingly," he said firmly. He handed over two books. "We have a vault for him whenever you're ready. It's the only way to keep the spirit inside and trapped."

"That would kill him," Dumbledore noted calmly.

"Yay." The goblin looked at Alex. "My nephew keeps getting pains from him."

"I'm sorry. Is he all right?" Alex shook his head. "Where is he?"

"The infirmary."

"Very well. I'll go up and do a permanent block."

"We may need to know if he gets out," Dumbledore told him.

"He won't. We have other ghouls trapped," the goblin noted. "It would cause him extreme pain however. We don't want that, do we?" The headmaster shook his head. "Good." He looked at Alex. "I'll be waiting for your availability schedule." Alex nodded. "They will need a defense teacher."

"From Harry's letters, he could do it," he noted dryly. He looked at the headmaster again. "Do you have a backup?" He shook his head. "If you don't, I'll sub." He looked at the books, then handed them to Snape. "Here. Figure it out and call them." He went to sit with his nephew.

Snape sat down with the books, finding the pertinent parts already marked.


Alex looked at the class in front of him, raising his eyebrow. "Sit and shut it!" he ordered. They all stared at him in horror. "Professor Quirrel sprung a brain leak with the extra body inside of him. I am your substitute, Alexander Dumass. Before you ask, I am a curse breaker. I have taken on many creatures for shits and giggles and for the job. I am also Harry's uncle and no, he won't be getting preferential treatment. I don't care who you are, I expect you to do a halfway decent try at the very least. Now, I have the old plans. I think they're crap. We're going to start where you should have."

He looked at the first years, nodding slowly. "Good. There's enough of you." Someone came in, swaggering. He raised an eyebrow. There's only one family that had that hair. "Do you have an excuse, Mr. Malfoy?" The boy looked stunned and shook his head. "Then go get one and get back here within ten minutes. You'll be working with me." Alex looked at the others as the boy disappeared again. Snape walked him back and gave him an odd look. "Did you keep him?"

"I did. He had a personal problem."

"That's fine. Mr. Malfoy, stay up here after you put down your books. We're going to be working on defensive strategies. There's too much hexing in the halls to leave this until later. Mr. Malfoy, do you duel?" He nodded. "We'll do this informally then. First, there is a shield." He cast it slowly, watching the students follow along. "All of you stand up and cast it." Most of them got it. A few didn't and he had to swat Malfoy for sneering. "Try it again. Harry, help them with Ron once you've got him set." He watched while everyone got it. "Good. Now, hex your neighbor. Slowly and carefully." The ones who hexed winced as theirs bounced back. "This is the drawback of this method," he noted patiently. "Malfoy, hex me. Show the benefits."

"What sort?"

"Anything. Just not an unforgivable." Draco gave him an odd look, then cast a simple hex. He smirked at the boy. "Do it again. That wasn't nearly showy enough, Malfoy." The boy sneered and cast something from the fourth year book, making Alex smirk and nod. "Now, did we see that?" Almost everyone nodded. "Bending it so it's not a bubble around you is the next lesson. Every other row unshield." They looked alarmed. "Finite, people." Granger undid hers and took a deep breath. "That's the second problem. It is airproof."

He let his drop and looked at Malfoy. "Try it." The boy created one that was just in front of him. "Good." He sent a pretty simple hex at the boy, gauging his strength. "Very good. You make a good demonstration model. Expect it next class and be here on time or else it'll be embarrassing," he said quietly. He looked at the others, then shot a hex at a few who hadn't undone theirs. "Finite Incantantum," he said slowly and clearly. They undid theirs and they shot a hex. Then the groups switched and only one passed out. He woke him up and looked at him. "Common sense. It's a good thing, young man. What's your name?"

"Crabbe," he moaned. He was helped up and sat down, holding his head. "Sorry, professor."

"Not an issue. We used to bet who could hold it longest. I was never that dumb, doing that means that you lose brain cells. Malfoy, front and center," he demanded. The boy quit leaning on his desk. "Good. Now, those who have it, take your house and work on how to bend it in front of them. That's pretty individual how you imagine it." He nodded, going to do that while Alex got the Gryffindors. Ron had to vent once but otherwise it went fine. He patted Ron on the shoulder. "Bill's got a temper too," he reminded him. "Sometimes you've got to find that spot of calm. Harry, work on that tonight."

"I've got a potions paper."

"Cheat, Harry. Like I care about your potions grade. Work with Ron on that then on this." Harry grinned and nodded, walking out once the class was done. He looked at Malfoy. "You do okay, kid. Fairly well done. Not very fast, but fairly well done." Malfoy tipped his head in acknowledgment. "Had to practice this?"

"My father wanted me up to snuff in dueling," he admitted. "May I have a pass?"

"What'cha got?"


"Sure." He closed the door and looked at the boy. "You're a smart ass. Harry's told me about you." Malfoy smirked a bit at that. "But I need someone in our social class."

"You are?"

"The Dumass clan?" he asked with a smirk. "Yeah, babe. Trust me. Ask your father. I have need of someone to help Harry learn jewel and painting identification."

"Your nephew and I don't get along. He's *famous*," he sneered.

Alex shrugged. "So am I. It's not like he asked to be. It's not like we cater to it since it's for a stupid reason, like me being famous for sleeping around is. He spent the last four years following me around various sites and digs. He's eaten more bad food than anyone you've ever known." He moved closer. "You're a consort veela," he noted, frowning a bit. "Practice your defense, kid, and talk to your mother this year. There's things you don't know."


"Things like each family has curses placed on their veela members." He stroked some of the blond hair. "I'd say from this that yours was monogamy." Draco pulled away. "Talk to her. Tell her that I have a good knowledge of the subject. One of them was mine once." He opened the door and wrote out a pass, handing it to him. "Unless you want to stay and work this period?"

"What sort of identification?"

"All sorts. I'm a curse breaker. We do all sorts of identification. Jewelry, cursed and not, paintings, artifacts, ugly statues. All sorts of stuff." He shrugged. "I don't have time for it and it's not offered anymore. And if you're really lucky, I'll let you work on the potion I'm doing." He made 'shooing' motions. "Go play."

"I want to talk about this."

"Fine. Go hand in the excuse and come back. We can work on tomorrow's lessons. The other first years." Draco snorted and walked off to hand in his excuse then come back. After sending a quick owl.


Alex looked at the man walking into his room, then bent back over the potion he had found.

"Are you going to blow up the castle like your nephew keeps trying to do?" Snape asked. Alex handed him the scroll he was working from. "Interesting. Out of balance. You could end up being two." He came over to check it, then sighed and moved him out of the way, going to destroy that mistake and start over again. He shook his head as he worked. "You and your nephew are both hopeless in this subject."

"Dumasses are good at defense and charms. Snapes are good at potions and herbology. It's a well known fact around the family." Snape snorted and nodded. "You know that I need someone to do this all the time, right?"

"No. Your nephew said your last one had retired." He glanced at him and went back to his preparations. "What sort of potions do you usually work with?" Alex handed over another scroll. He looked at it, then at his father. "You use all these?"

"I carry all those. My case is behind you on the table. That's also where the unicorn horn is." Snape got it and started to check the potions, putting out ten of them and shaking his head. "I also pay top dollar. I got those from Knockturn last week."

"I can tell. He was always a dolt in class." He looked at him. "You pay for ingredients?"

"And I put you on retainer per year. Twenty extra gold a month and I don't need them that often but I get pushy when I suddenly run out."

"So stocking up would be a good idea?"

"I tried that, they went bad then I suddenly needed them."

"Fine. I'll consider it." He put that aside and went back to the potion he was working on. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because I need to. Bad things are coming, Severus. I'm sure you've noticed it." He nodded, yawning a bit, but continuing on. "Mr. Malfoy is looking very good. I've been using him as a demonstration model. I also suggested that he talk to his mother about the family's veela curse." Snape stopped chopping to look at him. Alex nodded. "I've known a good few of them. I used to have one of my own," he sighed, shaking his head. "Then she died."

"People seem to do that around you," he noted dryly.

Alex glared at him. "I don't cause the influenza," he said snidely. Snape nodded. "Nor was it my problem that caused her to die by abridging her family's veela curse."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

"Fine. I accept." He looked at the potion. "How long will it take?"

"Ten hours. Unfortunately I do have class tomorrow."

"As do I." Snape gave him an alarmed look. "I'm subbing for Defense for at least the next month."

"I almost feel sorry for those students. What were you making Mr. Malfoy demonstrate?"

"Shields. Crabbe passed out."

"I heard. I was nearly impressed with him. It shouldn't affect his already mediocre performance."

"Then it isn't just my class. I'm impressed." He looked at what he was doing. "Isn't that the same stuff you put in stews?"

"Only if you want to crap orange."

"I think we did that before school started," he said thoughtfully. Harry walked in and he waved him over. "Didn't I put that in the stew once?"

Harry looked and nodded. "Yeah. We pooped orange for two weeks."

Snape held in a snicker but you could see the smirk on his face. "It does that to everyone. That's why smart people don't eat that."

Alex patted Harry on the back. "Cooking and potions are alike in some ways, only the ingredients are different." He grinned at his nephew. "Good work today, Harry."

"Thanks, Uncle Alex. Did you tell Malfoy to help me with something?"

"Yup. Things that only rich kids who bathe in the gold instead of letting it make more can teach you. Gem identification and that stuff." Harry groaned, looking pitiful. "Tough, kiddo. You've got to know it. I do okay but I'm still not great at it. I have to cast discerning spells and that doesn't always work. When you've got a whole casket of them and one's sending out poison gas, you want to identify them faster than that."

Harry sighed and nodded. "Fine. He approached me and I looked stunned so he laughed and told me you had said so. Should I get him?"

"Sure. You can work on the stuff I just cleaned out of Sunnydale."

"Oooooh. The Hellmouth?" Harry asked, his eyes bright. "Is it as bad as we were told?"

"And then some but the things were egging on the evil there so they had to be removed. I could have used the help really. It took me two weeks to do a plotted cleaning and there's still enough crap there for Bill to go back for, but Molly won't let him since he might get eaten. I've never seen so many vampires or had so many of them trying to eat me. We'll go this summer."

"Cool! I'll have to practice my staking and throwing skills," he said happily. He hugged his uncle. "Where's the stuff?"

"Shrunk. In the blue bag, like always."

Harry got to work finding everything he had brought up for him to help him with, and for Alex to have something to do since he wasn't giving homework, and then went to find Ron and Malfoy. He found them sniping at each other outside the library and got between them. "Guys, Uncle Alex was just on the hellmouth and he brought back *tons* of crap to work on. Come see?" Ron beamed and headed down there to look at it. He looked at Draco. "You're right, he did ask. If you have the time, I wouldn't mind. I know it's an important skill for a curse breaker to have," he said quietly.

"Very well then. I accept your uncle's offer to have me tutor you. Shall we?" Harry nodded, walking with him. "Where is the Hellmouth?"

"California. He said we can finish the clean-out this summer. He said he's never seen as many vampires as he saw there and he nearly got eaten so I'm going to take most of this spring to work on my knife, dagger, and stake throwing skills."

"Crossbows as well," McGonagall said as she walked past him. "Remember, we want you to come back healthy, Harry."

"Yes, ma'am. Uncle Alex was just at the hellmouth."

"I heard. I also heard he's got a vampire stalking him at the moment." They shared a look and a grin, then Harry jogged to catch up. "That boy will definitely make a very good curse breaker with the trouble that finds him." She shook her head and went back to her classroom, going to grade papers. They'd talk to Alex about his lack of giving homework tomorrow.


Alex walked into the classroom the next morning looking much younger. He looked about eighteen really. He ran a hand through his thick, dark hair and grinned at Harry, who just looked stunned. "The potion worked." He looked at everyone, noticing only Malfoy wasn't staring in shock. He had seen him change back last night. "All right, back into your groups. We'll do a quick review of the shields in non- bubble format then move onto the next part of shielding using that same shield. Mr. Malfoy, my young assistant, come up here." He got up and walked up to join him.

"Shield please." Draco shielded and he shot something harmless at him, playing really. Draco smirked and shot back something harder, which he reflected, making Malfoy set back up his shield and absorb it. "Good job, Mr. Malfoy. That's the next two steps for those paying attention." The headmaster and two aurors walked in and he waved. "Draco, help your house, Harry, help yours once they're done." He walked over to them, taking them into the hall. "Yes, I know it's rather a drastic step but it's also necessary. Unfortunately something else is going to keep coming for Harry and I'm not exactly at my best. Therefore I did the potion."

"You mean Professor Snape did the potion?" one of them asked.

"Did he say that? I said no such thing," he said dryly. He stared the headmaster down, making him shiver. Then he stared at the other two. "I'm perfectly fine and happy. It was locked in and I'm good."

"Fine. But we still were made aware of some cursed items being brought into the school?"

"I'm training my apprentice and I just did a plotted clean-out of the hellmouth. Two weeks with vampires everywhere."

"And one stalking you," Harry called from inside the room.

"And one stalking me," Alex agreed with a grin. "Harry's very good at breaking some of the more usual curses."

"Do you think that work is appropriate for a boy his age?" one auror asked.

"I went into the training program with people who were apprenticing their younger brothers at his age and younger," he noted dryly. "I'm making sure it's not harming him. He doesn't get anything really nasty. Nothing in the higher, plus two or greater, categories. He can't do those yet. Right now I'm using some of the items I found to help him learn gem identifications. He's doing fairly well so far for the first night. Besides, he's been with me for the last four years. He knows what he's doing in a camp environment."

"That just sounds bad," Ron said, leaning out the door. "Which is the reflection, shield reflectus or shield absorbus?"

"Relfectus, Ron, that should be pretty self-evident."

"I thought so and so did Harry, but Malfoy's yanking chains."

"Hmm. We'll deal with that in a minute," he assured him with a grin. "Go back to it."

Ron nodded at the others. "If Bill could take me and let me do it that way instead of boring homework, I might go most of the year," he told them. He disappeared, going back to stick up for Harry.

Alex shrugged and pushed his hair back. "I need hair things. I haven't got any. I've got to floo home for clothes anyway. My butt spread." He looked at the headmaster. "No one should be able to get into my room. Have they?"

"Two house elves. They tripped a curse to covet an emerald and an onyx. Will they be fine?"

"They should be. They're covet and hoard, ignoring everything but the hoarding, curses."

"Good. Then taking them away?"

"May drive them insane trying to get them back, but I can break them and they'll go back to being pretty."

"Fine, thank you," the headmaster told him. "Is there anything dangerous in there?"

"Some but I'm working on that, not with the kiddies. Harry's not ready to work on something like the Chalice of Souls. Before you ask, that's in my personal work vault."

"Thank you." He led the aurors off, then looked back at him. "You should not wear inappropriate clothes to teach in."

"I know. Any luck getting a decent teacher?"

"The Ministry wants me to appoint one of them."

"Can they do the work?" He shook his head. "Then fuck 'em. I'll stay if it's that bad. Too bad you can't find someone like the Prof was."

"I remember him fondly," he admitted. "I can try." He escorted them out and then went to call him. Immortals were nice, even if this one was rather grumpy and mean at times.


Alex looked up as someone slammed open the door to the classroom a few weeks later, smirking at the man standing in the doorway. "Professor Methos. Welcome to your class. I'm your substitute smart ass, Alex." He shook his hand with a smile. "Welcome back," he said quietly.

"Hmm. We'll see. What have you done?" He looked at the obvious demonstration model. "First years?"

"Of course. What better way to start them off right?" He grinned at Draco. "Show off a bit," he ordered. Draco cast the last spell they had been working on, earning a pleased looking smirk. "Good boy. Ten points." Draco smirked and moved to sit down. Alex grinned at him. "I'll stay tonight and go over where I've been. It's not like I've been giving homework so you won't have to grade things. I've been going on the 'you did it you get credit for the day' system really."

"That's fine." He put his bag down on the desk and looked at everyone. "I am Professor Methos. I do suggest you listen to me, but I do not suggest any of you bother me before my second cup of coffee. Doing so has caused irreparable harm in some beings." They giggled at that, especially two boys in the back. "You two. Names?" he snapped.

"I have a few of them. Would you like them all?" Harry asked blandly, smirking at him. Methos' eyes narrowed. "I'm Harry James Potter-Dumass. Sir, are you any good at fencing? I'll need someone to help me work on my form when my uncle's gone."

"You fence?"

"I'm learning."

"We'll see." He looked at the other. "You?"

"Ron Weasley."

"Hmm. I've met your brother Charlie. Very well. Is that where we were?" Alex nodded. "This far in?"

"The first teacher started them off with mollywogs," he said in disgust. "I only got here at Halloween."

"Interesting. Then you've done amazing so far." He looked him over, then nodded once. "Perhaps you should demonstrate where we're going?"

"As you wish." He pulled his wand and they went back to back to start the formal duel. Methos turned too soon but Alex already had the shield cast and was then going for his throat. By the end of the period they were at a stalemate and no one was moving. The whole front row had cast a shield around them to make sure no one got hurt after the first bounced spell. Alex finally gave his most evil smirk and muttered something, making the other man yelp as his ass was pinched and he shot another hex at him, getting him in the chest and turning him frog green. "Do I win or should we continue?" he asked, sounding amused.

"I'll concede this time," Methos told him. "Then again, you are a world champion."

"Five years running and another eight out of sequence. Then again I'm a curse breaker, not a defense person. I only have to know it, you have to do the harder work. You don't usually find something extreme in traps."

"Good point. Thank you for giving me the extra time I needed."

"Not an issue. I've enjoyed working with my apprentice." He shrugged and looked at Draco, then at Ron. "If either of you feel like you might like to join the field, I'll be home for the next three days. Write me."

"That means you'll be gone over the holidays and Grandma Des said she'd kill you if you did that this year," Harry reminded him. "Can we go on a raid this holiday? Just a short one?"

Alex considered it then nodded. "We'll see what we can pull up." He bowed to the teacher then picked up his stuff and left, heading back down to his room. He was leaving it in good hands. The guy had started out teaching him too.

Harry looked at the new teacher. "Sir, that technique where you turned early, are you teaching us to do unmannerly things like that as a matter of habit or as a matter of necessity?"

Methos smirked at him. "I prefer to be on the winning side, Mr. Potter-Dumass. I will teach you the correct method and then how it's usually done and how to beat those that bend the rules as I did. Does that ease your pure little soul?"

Harry snorted. "Who said I was pure and who said I had a little soul, Professor?" Ron gaped at him. "What! You see things traveling and going on digs. There was a temple that had the whole illustrated manual of how to shag a girl or a bloke drawn on the walls. Alex had to draw each figure and then send them on."

"Was it educational?" Malfoy sneered.

Harry nodded. "Quite and Uncle Alex told me why he's shagged half the world's population since he was my age too. When I'm old enough I hope to have one, not many. That was the biggest learning experience." Ron giggled at that. "It was." He shrugged at the teacher. "Sorry, sir. Since we're up to shooting hexes to distract and then shooting a quick second one, can we work on our speed today?"

Professor Methos nodded. "We may," he decided. "Speed is often the issue in winning duels. Get in whatever groups he put you in." He looked at Malfoy, who remained sitting. "You may assist me, Mr. Malfoy."

"Of course, Professor. I enjoy being stared at," he said sarcastically, getting up to help him. It was an honor, his father had mentioned him many times.


Harry woke up suddenly, holding his head. "I thought he was dead," he moaned. He got up and went to call the person his uncle had told him to before he left, flopping down in front of the fireplace with the floo powder he had been sent with. "Gruinth, Gringotts," he ordered quietly, rubbing his head. The goblin's head appeared, looking confused. He looked around his wrist at him. "Uncle Alex told me to call you if I got another of these pains from Voldemort," he said quietly. "He's in one of the ghoul vaults."

"Mr. Potter-Dumass," he replied. "He made a report about such matters. For now, let me check. You shall head to the infirmary immediately and have her do a blocking charm. If she cannot, have her call me again. Also, take some pain killers and do not expect to make it to classes tomorrow." Harry nodded. "Is this the first?"

"I felt some burning the other day but nothing like this," he admitted. "I thought someone had done a heating charm on it on the sly. It stopped after a few minutes."

"Very well. Go to the infirmary. I'll be up there by morning with some answers. Have her alert your defense teacher. Go." Harry nodded and canceled the call, taking his floo powder with him. He didn't even bother to change, just grabbed his robe and tossed his flo powder onto his bed, heading up in his pajamas and slippers with his robe tied around him to ward off the chill in the halls. Another surge hit him halfway there and he leaned on a wall, catching his breath. He heard a soft meow and looked down at the cat staring at him. "Mrs. Norris, I need the infirmary badly. Please?" They all knew Filch could talk to her. She scurried off and the caretaker came around a corner, sneering at him. "I need the infirmary, Mr. Filch. Please. It's my scar again. He's back somehow."

The man looked at him. "I'll escort you up there, boy." He followed him, catching him when he fell on the stairs. He picked the boy up and carried him instead, walking him into the infirmary. The nurse came running. "He said something 'bout his scar," he said blandly.

Harry grabbed the nurse's hand. "I talked to the goblins about it. They said to do a blocking charm and administer pain killers. The source is in a ghoul's vault within the main branch. He'll be here by morning and if you can't, his name's Gruinth." She nodded, administering the blocking charm. He relaxed and blacked out.

Filch looked at the boy, then at her. "Need me to wake the Headmaster?"

"Please." He nodded and left with his cat while she got the poor boy out of his robe and covered him. She did administer a light sedative and pain killer, then made a report. She debated calling the defense professor, but he was always so grumpy. The headmaster came in and she handed him the report. "Mr. Potter-Dumass said he'd be here by the morning, Albus," she said quietly.

He nodded, coming over to look at him. "One of his loyal people have used a goblin to free him I'm afraid." He touched the scar, noticing the heat. "It's warm."

"I administered a block."

"Call the goblins back. I'll get Professor Methos up." He hurried off, leaving the boy in the best possible care. They could get Alexander back for the boy if necessary.


Methos walked into the Great Hall the next morning, basically a walking zombie. For some reason he hadn't slept that well last night. It was like someone had tried to wake him up. The nurse rushed in after him and spun him around, grabbing his hand reaching for the sword he habitually wore before he could draw it. "We need you in the infirmary," she ordered. "Right now." He nodded, sighing a bit. "I've got coffee for you. There's a goblin waiting."

"Why?" he muttered, following her out. "What's gone wrong now?"

"Six ghouls were let out last night," she told him. "Including the Dark Lord's spirit." That got him moving and he ran up the stairs, going to check on the boy. She found the headmaster sitting beside him. "Here he is," she said needlessly. She poured him a cup of coffee and handed it to him. "Here, you need that."

"Thank you." He sipped it as he looked over the scar, laying his hand on it. "It's still warm. Have we put anything on it?"

"A blocking charm and I administered some pain potion and some mild sedative to keep him out. Mr. Filch had to carry him in. He found him wandering this way and had to carry him when he collapsed." She rung her hands. "I don't know what to do. There's been a goblin here and gone, but he didn't leave much information." She handed over the note he had left her. "That's what they left."

Methos read it. "It's in Sanskrit. They know I'm here?" She shook her head. "Why write it in this?"

"They said Alex said to."

"Ah. He does know I'm here." He reread it. Then he nodded and found his wand, pulling it to work on the scar. "I'm going to break the link."

"That could kill him," Dumbledore said, stopping him. "He's the only one who knows what's going on," he said at the searching look. Methos knew what would and wouldn't kill the boy but he wouldn't take being lied to.

Methos shrugged. "Is his life worth that?" The headmaster sighed and shook his head. "I didn't think so. You have other methods of getting that same information without damaging the boy and making him die for it. Which would you rather do? Have his uncle come back?"

Dumbledore's face lit up. "That may be the perfect answer."

"He's well known to dislike that side's position," Snape said from the doorway. "There was an owl for you, Professor Methos," he said, handing it over. It was blatantly opened but it was addressed to both of them so he didn't get more than an odd look. He looked at the boy. "We should break the link."

"Can we without damaging him?" the nurse demanded. "I won't have you turn him into some vegetable!"

Methos and Snape both looked at her. "Of course not," Snape assured her. "Pull the Compendium of Mental Maladies down for me, Poppy. I need to look up the potion." She nodded, going to pull that from her special bookcase. He looked at Methos. "Do we need his uncle?" He nodded. "Before or after?"

"I can break the charm."

"Finius used to be a curse breaker himself," Dumbledore offered.

"I remember. He had much promise when I taught him," Methos agreed. "Severus, start on that potion. Madam Pomfrey, keep the boy sedated for now. He'll be in extreme pain. The ghoul is very angry. I need to find a source mentioned in the note the goblins left."

"I have the two books they left with us," Snape offered.

"Good. Is either by Urn and Heinrich?" He nodded. "Then I need that one. Headmaster, cancel my classes." He nodded and left on that clear note of dismissal. He waited until they were alone and looked at his former protege. "Do watch out for him," he said quietly.

"I've already had that boy's job," he admitted.

Methos nodded. "I thought you might have. Very good job of surviving, Severus. Very nicely done. I'd give you points but you're no longer a student." He looked at the note again. "Hurry up with that potion. We can't afford to wait."

"Fine." He took it and headed to his classroom, going to cancel his classes for the day. He found Malfoy in there with a letter in his hand. "What's that?" he asked as he gathered materials.

"From my father. He said it serves that blood traitor right," he said, handing it over.

Snape paused to look at it, then at him. "That's more than enough evidence for Dumass to call injury on your family, Draco." He nodded. "Do you want that?"

"I don't know," he admitted quietly. "Can I help, Uncle Severus?"

"Shut the door, put a sign up saying all classes are canceled today and tomorrow." He nodded, going to do that for his godfather. He looked at the potion, then at the boy. "Have you worked with Maypole Flowers?" Draco shook his head. "Damn." He handed him what he knew. "A very fine mince on all that, contrary to all counter indications." He got down in front of his fireplace, using a pinch of floo powder to call someone. "Gregory Sanders," he hissed. A blond headed man appeared, smiling sunnily at him. "I need you. We're having to break the link from Potter-Dumass back to Voldemort. He was released and he's trying to destroy the boy's brains."

"I'll be there as soon as I can apparate or portkey. You're at the school?" He nodded. "Give me a few hours at the most." His head disappeared.

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