Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 19

19

11082014-15082014

“A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view.” — Strawberry Alarm Clock, Incense and Peppermints


They had just sent off the first family of emigrants when Saen popped in with the post. Harry quickly flipped through the meager offerings, handing a few envelopes over to Voldemort, when he noticed that one of them was from the goblins. More than a little curious he opened it and began to read, then looked up in surprise. “Flitwick wants a meeting.”

“Flitwick?” Voldemort replied skeptically.

“Yeah. Apparently his family amongst the Host has passed on a few morsels of information to him. He’s very interested in what they’ve had to say.” He nibbled his lower lip before adding, “Think we could get him as headmaster?”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Voldemort said reflectively. “He certainly has plenty of experience. Most of the people we’ve hired so far don’t.”

“And Flitwick could ride herd on them as an experienced educator,” he finished. “I wouldn’t doubt he has a lot of ideas about what not to do based on dealing with Dumbledore for so long. What do you think? Shall we go for it?”

Voldemort nodded. “Yes. Let’s see what happens.”

“Okay.” He checked his watch and said, “We have enough time before the next family for me to dash off a quick reply, so. . . .”

Fifteen minutes later Ambrose Dexter, his wife, and two children were being ushered into the room by Cael, along with two house-elves burdened with bulging satchels. Harry nodded a greeting, knowing Voldemort would generally never do so, and produced the linking book. “It’s up to you who goes first. You’ll be arriving at an interim location and I ask that you please keep your hands to yourselves until I join you. There are multiple links at the nexus and I need to direct you to the correct one. Understood?”

Dexter and his wife nodded, and Harry expected they would keep the kids in line. With that he set the book down and opened it to the linking image, and stepped back with a gesture toward it. Only a few minutes later he was in the nexus, Voldemort remaining behind with the book, and giving them a quick tour of the nexus set aside for non-goblins. Just minutes after that they all linked through to Ophiuchus and walked to the townhouse set aside for the Dexters.

“I trust this is suitable,” he said after urging them inside. “There is a floo connection for communication purposes, as promised, and it can still be used for travel if you really want to. Four bedrooms, the usual amenities, and a linking book to the nexus. But please be reminded that the book is protected,” he stressed. “And if any of you somehow manage to damage it despite that you’ll be paying a fine in order to get it replaced.”

Ambrose nodded absently while gazing around the entrance hallway. “And that was the public point for this part of town?”

“Correct. For linking and apparation. Once you’ve been up to the school you can get there either way, to the courtyard set aside for it. Well, I’ll just let you get on with it. I’m sure you’re eager to get unpacked. For now, until things settle down, send a message to Barty Crouch if you need anything. He’s coordinating the initial subsidies, other duties aside.”

Dexter shuddered slightly, but nodded. “Of course. Thank you, on behalf of my family, for this chance.”

Harry nodded and exited, then shifted to the K’veer linking room and returned to Earth. “I wonder how long it’ll take for Flitwick to get back to us.”

“Hopefully soon, obviously,” Voldemort drawled. “The more quickly he can be installed the more quickly he can get a handle on the shape of the school. It will be easier in that there won’t be any silly hats sorting students or houses to create or contribute to a divisive atmosphere; and muggles are now irrelevant.”

“I guess it depends on just how close Flitwick is to his full-goblin kin.” He had a quick look at his watch and sighed quietly. “Incoming in ten minutes.”

header

‘You have to admit, they were pretty clever to realize that they could say something to Flitwick,’ he sent as they were being escorted to Narok’s office, ‘on the strength of him being part goblin.’

‘True,’ Voldemort admitted. ‘I doubt it will result in any real problems, either. In that respect Flitwick is as bound to terms as his kin.’

Their escort waved them into the office and closed the door behind them. Harry’s gaze immediately honed in on Flitwick as he lowered his hood, but he directed his attention to Narok long enough for a greeting before taking a seat. It remained quiet until after Harry and his partner had fixed themselves tea, at which point he said, “Professor Flitwick. Lovely to see you again.”

The little man had had such a peculiar expression on his face the entire time, which finally smoothed out at his greeting. “I trust you are well.”

Harry grinned. “Oh yes. You? And please, allow me to introduce my partner, Lord Voldemort. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.”

Flitwick tossed a quick glance at Narok before saying, “Yes, I believe I have. I was not expecting. . . .”

“Who we would be?” Harry offered. “Yes, I can imagine that would be something of a shock. Now, you’ve indicated you’d be interested in our little enterprise. We’re prepared to offer you the role of headmaster of our school.”

Flitwick blinked in shock and looked at Narok again, who nodded calmly enough.

He decided to use his usual act and delved into his pocket, bringing out a selection of nibbles. Voldemort got a half dozen cherry Bakewell tarts, while savory onion and leek tarts were placed in front of Narok and Flitwick. For himself were the customary chocolate chip biscuits. “Wait!” he said suddenly. “I know what we need.” He looked at his partner. “Mwua ha ha.”

Voldemort groaned and palmed his face, much to Flitwick’s shock.

Harry concentrated for a few moments, then pulled a sphere from his pocket. Like the others he had used it was filled with a swirling mist. He set it on Narok’s desk and tapped it. Seconds later music started. He jumped up and moved back behind the chair grouping, struck a pose, then started singing along as he danced in a generally uncoordinated mess of motion.

Voldemort just shook his head as he ate one of his tarts, looking anywhere but at Harry. Narok appeared to be incredibly amused. Flitwick, well. . . .

“You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd. We ain’t too pretty, we ain’t too proud, we might be laughing a bit too loud. Oh, but that never hurt no one,” Harry warbled in his best effort, slowly aging himself up and lengthening his hair to return to his now customary look. It was complete by the time the music faded out and Harry grinned like a loon. “That was fun. Gotta give the muggles that much. They make some seriously good music. The Weird Sisters are infants in comparison.”

“At least now I know one of the places you disappear to,” Voldemort said dryly, giving him a vaguely exasperated look. ‘I suppose that’s one way to break the ice.’

Harry nodded and resumed his seat, pocketing the sphere. “Hey, I need an intact music collection and I had a lot of free time on my hands when I lived with the muggles. Maybe I can start a club in Serpens. I could call it The Wasted Years.”

Voldemort gazed up at the ceiling, then looked at Flitwick. “Professor. As my exuberant partner mentioned, we are prepared to offer you headship at the school. While we have already done most of the hiring in terms of teaching staff we have yet to find someone, until now, who might suit for headmaster. You have decades of experience in education, plus having been the head of Ravenclaw and Deputy Headmaster. We believe you’re capable of not only thriving in the position, but also of guiding the staff. Many of them are people who greatly wished to go into teaching and had no particular outlet aside from tutoring positions, so they will need help in a formal classroom setting. Granted, I could do it myself, but I have far too many other things to be doing.”

“It would be nice if you could decide quickly, though,” Harry said. “We’ve already shuffled all of them over and they need a strong hand on the reins. I don’t doubt the Host has been helpful in explaining their position, as otherwise I can’t imagine why you would have wanted to speak to us. You’ve probably even seen memories of them being on Ophiuchus. You’re an intelligent man; you know we’re legit. I know, it sounds like I’m rushing you badly, but we have only so much time to give today. I can give you an hour or two, a visit to Ophiuchus, but. . . .”

“But you’d need to be under vow,” Voldemort said quietly but firmly.

“In case I decide against this?” Flitwick asked just as quietly.

Harry shook his head. “No, more for when you’re on Earth. Even if you come take a look and say yes, you’d have to come back here to pack your things—quietly, preferably—and send a letter of resignation before returning to Ophiuchus.”

Flitwick nodded thoughtfully. “I’m aware that you’ve treated fairly with my kin, so yes, I would like to see for myself.”

“Great!” He turned to Voldemort and asked, knowing he would decline, “You coming along, or. . . ?”

“Only as far as the meeting room,” Voldemort responded. “I’ll keep the book safe and wait for your return.”

Harry nodded and pulled his hood up. “All right. Shall we?”

Ten minutes later they were at their little hole-in-the-wall meeting room. Harry turned away and produced the book, then set it down. He opened it and gestured. “After you.”

Flitwick pressed his hand to the image and disappeared, Harry following seconds later. “This, as you should know,” he said, “is a nexus. The public one, not the one set aside for the Host. The book we want is over here.” He strolled over to one of the alcoves and indicated the book for the school, which they had named Corvus Academy. Seconds later they were in the courtyard and Harry was leading his erstwhile professor inside. “It’s set up as a boarding school,” he remarked. “People are used to their children being gone most of the year, but I suppose it could be a day school. Or maybe where students could return home at the weekend so long as their assignments for the week were completed and turned in.”

Flitwick cleared his throat and said, “Mr Potter?”

“Yes?”

“Just how long has this been going on?”

“Which ‘this’ are you referring to?” he replied.

“Your partnership with the Dark Lord?”

“Oh, that.” He hummed. “Well, he tried to kill me more than a few times my first year, but we started the process of talking during the summer. He was more or less fully on board sometime during my second year.”

“Why?”

“Oh,” he said with a low chuckle, “you make that question sound so simple. To respond in kind let me say that a whole lot of people failed the child who became Voldemort, just as a whole lot of people failed me after I became the Boy-Who-Lived. We’re a lot alike. Birds of a feather and all that, don’t you know. And look what came of it.” He swept a hand out dramatically. “A whole new world, just for us, the magical peoples, and for the creatures, and the plants. No muggles, ever. No factories or strip mines or nuclear power plants.”

“And squibs?”

“What about them? They’re still a part of the magical world. Squibs are welcome. Squibs eventually produce those with free-flowing magic. Where else do muggle-born come from, after all. People have been throwing away their own kind for how many generations now? Due to shame? Rather than wising up and not breeding so closely? And then they have the presumption to bitch and moan about that magic finally blossoming again, probably because the couple involved both descended from those squibs? Idiots, the lot of them.”

He drifted to a stop and opened an ornate door, gesturing Flitwick in. “This is the headmaster’s office, by the way. Room for staff meetings. Private quarters.” He turned to face the smaller man directly. “What people don’t understand is that Voldemort is very much capable of being rational and reasonable. He’s capable of sharing power, though I doubt he would share it with anyone but me. Delegate to underlings? Sure.”

“And Dumbledore?” Flitwick looked genuinely curious.

Harry laughed and shook his head, stepping over to the desk long enough to pick up one of the parchments there. “Come now, professor. I know you were never a part of his little play group, but. . . . Without looking deeper I have no real idea just how accurate or skewed your view of the man is. Maybe later, if you decide to head up this school, you and I can talk about Dumbledore and some of the things he’s done. But for now, let’s keep moving. I’ll show you a bit of town.”

As they walked around and Harry pointed various things out Flitwick came up with another question. “What if any of the people you hired object to a part-goblin headmaster?”

He snorted. “Unlikely to happen. Part of what we’ve been looking for is tolerance, even amongst the Death Eaters who are here or will be. If a person doesn’t fit the criteria I have we don’t talk to them. It’s something I insisted on from the start, even before we had a place to move to, just like the laws are intended to be fair regardless of race, with certain exceptions built in for unique abilities.”

“Such as?”

“This might have already come up in your talks with the Host. The examples I gave regarded veela and vampires. A veela who deliberately uses allure to break the law or a vampire who goes after the unwilling. If they’re immature that’s one thing, but an adult would see the full force of law. Let’s face it, allure is analogous to amortentia, and potions like that are illegal for a reason—or should be. It’s just another vector for rape, like that one muggle drug. For that matter, the vampire ability which allows them to hypnotize people can be badly misused.”

He handed over the parchment he had taken from the school. “This is a list of the subjects. If you take this on and have suggestions I am always open to hearing them, and, depending on what they are, quite possibly implementing them. I’ve long thought that it’s ridiculous that Hogwarts has no education for the muggle-born or muggle-raised on culture, etiquette, and so forth, that we were made to celebrate muggle holidays—things like that. So if you think of something I may have overlooked, well. . . .”

Flitwick stopped walking so he could read through the list. When he looked back up he did not comment on it directly, but instead said, “I should like to point out, because it may have slipped your mind, that should my kin wish to depart Britain entirely, they could not due to the treaty in place with the ministry.”

Harry frowned at the little man in consternation. “You’re correct. I hadn’t thought of that. However, there are ways around it. We’d just need to arrange for the ministry to break the treaty.”

Flitwick chuckled at that. “I am tempted to ask a potentially stupid question, but considering all that I’ve learned in this very short amount of time I expect you can do a whole lot more than most are capable of, so arranging something of that magnitude would probably be easy for you.”

He grinned.

“Professor!” called someone from behind them, causing Harry to pivot. It was Jacob Collins. The man reached them and stopped, breathing a bit heavily. “Potter,” he said in greeting, then focused on Flitwick. “Good to see you again, sir, though I admit I wasn’t expecting it. What are the odds you’re here about the school, because we could really use your help. Someone needs to keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction.”

“I am considering it, yes,” Flitwick admitted.

“I’ll beg if you want!” Collins pleaded, somehow managing to look pathetic, sheepish, and obscenely excited at the same time.

Harry grimaced slightly and averted his gaze. “Ah, Collins, let the man make up his own mind. You’re reminding me a little too much of certain people I once knew and it’s distressingly icky.”

Collins blushed and looked down at his hands. “Well, I’ll let you get on with it. It was nice seeing you again, sir.”

Flitwick nodded and Collins scurried off. “I admit, a part of me expected to see Dark Arts on this list.”

Harry shook his head. “See, that’s part of the problem. While it is true that there are a number of Dark spells that are called so for good reason, people keep ignoring that plenty of Light spells are deadly. Education shouldn’t be about putting spells into convenient categories. It should be about making people aware that their intent is usually the deciding factor. Most people just don’t want to think that hard. They’ve spent most of their lives being taught to simply accept. I could kill a person with a painting spell.”

Flitwick adopted a thoughtful look, then slowly nodded. “Yes, I see where you’re going with this. Something tells me that the Offensive Magic course would draw from all currently accepted disciplines.”

He smiled, pleased. “Yes. And you saying that makes it even more clear to me that you’re the kind of person we want heading the school. Anyway, you’ll notice that the main shopping district is practically on the school’s doorstep, so even if the children do board they’ll have a treat fairly close by without having to hop in a carriage or link to it. We’re hoping to get craftspeople and merchants in here soon. Everyone will be subsidized until after we’ve got a fair amount of people moved in, so food and supplies won’t be an issue while the economy settles into some kind of pattern.”

“I had been wondering about that. There is nothing yet here to suggest that anyone has normal avenues.”

“Well, we have house-elves currently working the farms and we can always import for a while if necessary. But the sooner we’re self-sufficient the better. The only people visiting Earth will be myself and Voldemort; this is a one-way trip otherwise, and the only people so far given the opportunity to scope this place out without a definite commitment have all been of goblin heritage.”

“I suppose you could have approached the dwarves,” Flitwick mused. “They also have quite a reputation for construction.”

“True, but not for banking. We thought it was a fair trade to get both in exchange for the island. Besides,” he said, glancing around to make sure no one was nearby, then said in a conspiratorial whisper, “Your kin seemed almost turned on by the architecture we wanted them to base everything on. It was creepy, really creepy.”

Flitwick started giggling madly, his hands coming up to clutch at his stomach. “Oh my,” he said after a minute, finally getting himself back under control. “Something tells me that while the two of you are both probably quite loopy, you are and will remain the more personable of your partnership. I have decided to take you up on your offer, Mr Potter, though I suppose I should actually be asking about salary.”

header

Not long after Flitwick had done a runner and left McGonagall in a lurch Harry had made the rounds of every ministry worth visiting in order to buy up any available house-elves. Every last one of them, bar two, were sent on to Ophiuchus for Saen and Cael to supervise. Best of all, being house-elves, they could all speak any language Harry knew, which meant all of them. After all, what use was a house-elf to its master if they could not communicate? That relieved some of the burden and allowed him to move on to other things, such as the interviews of the people Lucius kept finding for them.

It was looking like the absolute earliest they would be able to make a mass move would be during the winter holiday, and even then it would probably make more sense to wait until the summer following.

“It’s better to do this properly rather than rush things,” Voldemort opined, and Harry had to agree with him. “A slow but steady leak from the populace here might be noticed, but it’s very likely anyone paying attention will assume these people departed for another country. And for some reason that reminds me—is Black even yet out of the hospital? Has he noticed huge piles of gold are missing?”

Harry shook his head. “Nah, they’ve still got him in there. Takes a while to try to fix over a decade’s worth of mental damage. It didn’t matter so much with some of the Death Eaters because they weren’t exactly right in the head to begin with and could bear up better. That said, we’ll still have to isolate the ones we spring for some time. Mind you, it’s not like I ever called for a pause in the war last time so I could inquire about that very issue with you, but I expect given how long it was before anything super nasty happened they had five or six months to recover.

“I’ve actually wondered about that. I mean, being in Azkaban, dementors roaming around. What would the average Death Eater have for shit memories? You doling out another round of crucio? Of course, I’d expect someone like Bellatrix to be conflicted because she struck me as the type to enjoy pain—certainly as inflicted upon her by you.” He tapped his lower lip with one finger thoughtfully.

Voldemort’s gaze dropped to the floor. “You have no idea,” he muttered almost too quietly for Harry to hear.

He smiled, almost gently. “People with power attract loonies.”

“That says a lot about you,” Voldemort riposted.

He smiled more widely. “Yes, it does. I have you for a friend.”

Voldemort growled softly.

Harry chortled and moved to sit next to his friend on the loveseat, angled to face him. “I know, it’s terrible when you have a friend willing to tease you. We’re getting much closer with the second tier, so that means supply lines will be evening out soon. The craftspeople can build up a stock. The farmers can get their herds and fields in order. The shops arranged and ready to go.”

“We’re still missing a publisher,” Voldemort reminded him.

“Yes. But Lovegood might be able to handle that aspect. He knows how to run a printing press, so if we got him extras, and if he could recommend staff to help him, he could oversee things and still be able to produce his paper.”

Voldemort eyed him for a moment, then said, “Why don’t we just go visit them now and work that out? Talking about it is all very well, but it’s close to meaningless until we have some sort of agreement worked out.”

He nodded. “You’re right. That would be more productive. Okay, let’s go.”

Five minutes later they were walking along the beaten path toward the Rook. They had just made it to the region of the front door when it opened to reveal Luna. She was wearing a vague smile on her face. “Harry,” she said brightly. “Harry’s friend of indeterminate name. Please come in.”

And so they did. Harry only vaguely remembered the interior of the house, but he knew enough to realize they were being led to the kitchen. Luna waved them into seats and grabbed an already prepared tea tray. That went onto the table and she quickly poured out cups and doctored them with the correct mix of sugar and milk for each of them, not bothering with the usual bit about asking their preferences. Harry just smiled and shook his head slightly.

“So, Harry, you’ve decided to come speak with me and daddy about publishing,” she said, gazing at a point midway between him and Voldemort.

“Of course,” he replied, reaching for a lemon tart.

“Well, daddy has a list of people who could help, though he’s not quite sure why he made it up. But if an extra press or three should happen to fall into his possession that would be excellent. The biggest problem would be the paper supply, as I don’t think you have anyone yet who knows how to make it.”

Voldemort frowned.

“Even daddy didn’t think of that, though he did include people who know how to bind books,” she continued. “Also, I realize it’s going to be a while yet, but you should consider having a crew of muggle-born or half-bloods that aren’t quite suitable and yet can be trusted to keep an eye on those raised in the muggle world. You know, for abusive situations. You’re very powerful, but it would stretch you too far to do so personally.”

He arched a brow at Voldemort. ‘She has a good point there.’

‘Yes. And I see what you mean about her. It’s almost refreshing.’

“That I don’t automatically cower in blind fear before you?” Luna asked, now watching a bumblebee buzzing around the room.

Voldemort scowled at her; Harry laughed and asked, “Do you have any suggestions for a paper maker?”

“Hm?” She looked at him directly. “Yes.” She reached into a pocket and produced a slip of parchment, then slid it over. “Do you think perhaps daddy and I can have a holiday on the other side? I know I can’t live there yet, but it wouldn’t hurt for daddy to get everything set up. We don’t get a lot of visitors here.”

“. . . And he can transition to creating the Quibbler there, and I arrange for the usual delivery on this side?”

“Or he has privileges to come and go to maintain the façade, at least until it’s time to move for real,” she countered, holding out her hand so the bee could land. “You’re such a cutie, yes you are,” she cooed to it. It buzzed its wings and took off, her gaze following it. “That would present problems, I realize, but it would look a bit odd if he wasn’t seen occasionally when I was still out in the open. He could set up a mail drop to handle that side of things.”

He arched a brow again, watching Voldemort in his peripheral vision, not speaking, not even thinking at the man.

“I think we can come up with an applicable vow,” Voldemort said into the silence. “Having Lovegood there already means he could keep the people of Ophiuchus informed of changes as they happen. It would also mean he has access to the—”

Luna jumped up and clapped once in delight. “Oh, you wonderful men!” she cried. “Daddy will be so thrilled.” Then she paused, frowning slightly. “Maybe too thrilled. I’ll just have to get him to promise a few things to me. We might lose track of him for ages if I don’t, and I can’t let him have all the fun.”

Voldemort sighed almost soundlessly. “Of course, Miss Lovegood. And where is your father?”

“Oh, he’s at the press. I told him he needn’t be here to begin with.”

“Is he like you?” Harry asked curiously.

She met his intense gaze and shrugged. “Sort of? Not exactly. I think I’m a combination of my mother and father in that respect. Perhaps if mum and dad had switched their talents she would be alive right now.”

He nodded, remembering she had died when Luna was nine, from an accident.

“No, Harry,” she said suddenly, before he even had a chance to begin to think the thought. “No.”

He shrugged. “Your choice, for or against. You know it only matters to me because it matters to you, one way or the other.”

She smiled, her eyes shining. “I know. You’re a singular friend.”

He gave her a slow wink and replied, “Now, how about you find your father and we take you on a holiday?”

Once she was out of the room on her errand Voldemort heaved a sigh and said, “That girl is very, very strange. But also devoted to you.”

Harry smiled at him. “Because I’m a true friend to her. I’ve defended her even before I ‘met’ her, simply because what they were doing was wrong. They merely think she’s crazy, which is absurd. They have and had no idea the psychotic one was always me.”

“They being the other students in Ravenclaw, I assume.”

“Yes. Had I not stopped it word would have spread. Malicious gossip. And then far too many would have treated her badly, all because she can see things they cannot. Still, I suppose many people would be afraid of one who isn’t blind. One who sees too much.”

Voldemort got a look on his face that made Harry realize the man was thinking about Derek in some part. ‘Yes, well, thank you for deliberately not seeing too much.’

He just knew Voldemort would never likely say words like that out loud.