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Chimaera of Judgement

By JessicaX

Adventure / Action

Shadows Of The Past

Albus and Rose's Fifth Year at Hogwarts

[[ATTENTION: SOME LOCATIONS AND PERSONS © J K ROWLING/WARNER. STORY AND ORIGINAL CHARACTERS/ELEMENTS © AUTHOR. RATED PG-13 [for mild language, fantasy violence and negligible mature dialogue]ALERT: This is not – I repeat, NOT any sort of Al/Rose incest fic. I listed them as the primary characters because they are the protagonists, alright?]]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The Grim is upon us at last!"

The door to Sybill Trelawney's classroom banged open and the woman herself dashed inside, shawls and robes billowing about unnaturally. Chest heaving, she conjured a gunnysack from nothing and began shovelling over a dozen crystal balls inside.

"Mark my words, they'll not take us without a fight! Oh, had I but forseen this!"

She was speeding past her favourite winged armchair when one of her many bracelets caught on the lace shawl draped over the back.

"Damn these infernal-" She sighed impatiently, magnified eyes blinking rapidly behind her thick spectacles. "Of course, I really should put them away, wouldn't want to break any."

In a few strides she had crossed to one of the many curtains hanging from the wall, concealing the entrance to her rather small personal chambers. There, upon the dresser in the corner, was an old wooden jewelry box. Opening it with a tap of her wand, she began pulling off her many bits and baubs and laying them inside.

"Mother's silver locket, Great-Great-Grandmother's ring - oh, Aunt Prudentia's brooch! If I ever lost-"

An explosion sounded from below; with a yelp, she unceremoniously stuffed the rest into the box, magically locked it, caught up the bag and dashed from both her bedchamber and classroom, screaming, "The Inner Eye tells me you shall rue this day!"

o o o

The icy chill that rippled through Narcissa Malfoy's body seemed to begin between the shoulders. This feeling, the one of fear and deepest despair, always revived in her that old curiosity - why there? Why did it originate from between her shoulderblades, and not from the head, or perhaps the heart? It quickly spread farther, sapping cheer and hope from every corner of her body, yet... But she did not dwell on this - something to ponder after her work was done here.

The bumbling Matthias Peele, a low rung in the Auror department, paced beside her, quaking so badly it was a wonder his Patronus (a GERBIL?) did not flicker and fade. Nevertheless, he'd been the best the Ministry of Magic would spare for this lowly task, and she had to remind herself how fortunate they'd been - SHE'D been - to get them to agree to her request at all. It had taken them ages to make up their minds, not to mention how long Narcissa herself had dawdled before putting things into motion. But tonight, at last, she could be shut of her obligation.

"H-here we are," Peele whispered, running his hand through his wispy brown pate as his silvery spell scampered around them, directed by his wand. The forbidding cloaked wardens didn't dare come near as long as the Patronus Charm was in effect, and they therefore drifted just out of the light's range, somehow watching the two intruders with their unseeing, eyeless faces. "I'll st-stand guard while you take care of... well, you know."

"Mmm." She spared him no more thought than this as she raised her wand and tapped the lock, listened for the CLICK!, and slipped inside the cell.

"Ahh, Cissy... yes, yes, they said you'd be calling soon. How's Lucius?"

Narcissa did not mistake her sister's leering smile, the flash of blackening teeth, for concern or sympathy. "You would know better than I, wouldn't you?"

Her laugh was more like a cackle. "True enough, true enough... but then, he'll have greased enough palms by now to have scraped a reduced sentence, won't he? Maybe he's convinced the pretty Ministry ponies that he's been Imperiused twice?"

"Enough, Bella," Narcissa sighed, tucking a white-blonde lock of hair behind her ear. "I'm not here to discuss Lucius's fate."

"Right." Bellatrix Lestrange's perfect nose wrinkled. "The revolting favour you've demanded of me."

"The revolting favour that will get YOU a favour in turn, may I remind-"

"You may, but you needn't. If I'd forgotten I was getting anything out of this arrangement, you wouldn't be cluttering up my cell right now. How you could've promised that execrable-"

"We're not here to discuss HIM, either," Narcissa snapped. This was already taking too long, and her nerves rattled louder the longer she lingered.

"Just like a house-elf," Bellatrix muttered. "Do your duty and move on, is that it? No time to visit with your poor, Death Eater sister?"

"Not if I want to visit with my poor, Death Eater husband before I'm forced to take my leave of Azkaban," she replied drily.

"Yes." She nodded in a displeased manner. "The noble houses of Black and Malfoy are in utter ruins, aren't they? After all our hard work..."

"All our hard work for nothing, you mean. Following that reptilian fool as he sought to murder a schoolboy for seventeen years, hoping he knew what he was-"

"You shall not insult the Dark Lord!"

Bellatrix was no longer lounging comfortably on her cot - now she was on her feet, grubby fists clenched in fury, heavy-lidded, sunken eyes popping dangerously. This gesture might have been more threatening if she wasn't unarmed.

"Still you desperately cleave to the hem of his robes, even as he decays? The Dark Lord is dead, Bella - has been for years, and he'll not rise again! It's time you moved on, you're very fortunate to be alive as it-"

"I don't care!" Her breath was coming in great, shallow gulps, even as her legs began to tremble; Narcissa had to admit she was a bit startled to see the tears threatening to leak down through her long-unwashed raven locks. "I would prefer to have died at his side, rather than survive in this Muggle-loving world without him! His vision was grandiose, and had we not failed him, had he been able to realise his-"

"None of that matters now," Narcissa cut across her. "No one shall ever question your loyalty to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Bella. You were his most faithful servant 'til the-"

"You needn't tell me that which I already-"

"Enough!" Narcissa commanded. "These recycled arguments solve nothing, achieve nothing! Please, let us get on with business!"

The two sisters glowered at each other for a long moment. Then, when at last it seemed they truly had exhausted what for them passed as "small talk", Narcissa pulled from within her robes a small crystal phial.

"That's it, is it?" Bellatrix said, not bothering to hiding her revulsion. Narcissa did not answer as she held it up to her eyes; its contents appeared to be frozen on the inside, though its exterior was almost warm to the touch.

For the first time, her sister betrayed just how nervous she really was. "You're... you're just going to do it, are you? No wine and flowers?"

"Silence; let me concentrate."

Raising her wand, she held the phial at arm's length, concentrating as she uttered a string of words that slowly became an incantation. As the tiny vessel began to glow brighter, Bellatrix gave a little gasp. When Narcissa shot her a questioning glance, she glared daggers back, lip curling slightly.

Then, suddenly as it had begun, it was all over; Bellatrix was sitting on the edge of her bunk, looking distinctly green, and the now-empty phial had disappeared back into her sister's robes.

"I'll be checking in on you during my monthly visits to Lucius," she said smartly as she turned to leave. "If nothing's gone... awry, I daresay you'll be reunited with dear old Rodolphus at last."

"A pox upon the lot of you," Bellatrix growled. "Twisting my arm, forcing me into-"

"What a load of old tosh. We offered you a deal and you took it."

When the discomfort in the room had reached its breaking point, both sisters seemed to realise at the same moment that this family reunion was over; the prisoner leaned back in her filthy bed as the free woman tapped the lock with her wand, exchanging a stiff farewell.

"Good eve, Bella."

"Eve, Cissy."

As Matthias's laughable Patronus scattered the Dementors from their path, Narcissa drew her travelling cloak more tightly about her shoulders and put that nasty business from her mind, hoping she would never have to dwell on it again. Her husband lay just down the corridor, waiting to hear news of how Draco was faring at work, how the peacocks were keeping - and with a bit of luck and a Galleon or two, he would be back at the Manor in a few years' time...

o o o

KNOCK! KNOCK!

A heavily-veined hand searched upward for the thin bridge of a thin nose; it was startled to come into contact with squarish, wire frames. These were quickly removed to make way for a hearty pinch. "Come in."

Creaking of old hinges. She didn't look up. Why should she? She was so very tired - every day, she felt exhausted beyond measure. "H-Headmistress?"

"Pomona," she sighed, dropping her hand to stare blearily at her colleague. "What might I do for you?"

"Are you... feeling at all well?" she ventured. A crease played at the corners of her eyes. "You look like death."

"Don't invite him to come calling," she said as she replaced her spectacles and stared down the parchment on her desk. "I may just answer."

"Minerva-"

"You wanted something?"

The round, full face of Hufflepuff's Head of House fell further, squirmed, then solidified once again. "All right, then. The portraits near the Astronomy Tower have been clamouring about an infestation of rats nibbling the corners of their canvases. Really, I don't know why I'm up here making a fuss over it, it might be left to someone else who gives a-"

"Yes, yes, Pomona. Perhaps I'll have Peeves drop something on the rats."

Sprout's eyebrows arched with amazing speed. "Whaaat?"

"I'm sorry," McGonagall said gruffly. "I'm a bit distracted. I've no idea how to approach this."

"Approach what?" Curious, she bent over the desk. "New student, is it? What's to approach? Give it to an owl and hope they show up with the proper size cauldron."

"Look just the slightest bit closer, old friend."

A moment passed in silence as her colleague inspected the document. McGonagall took advantage of that moment to take several deep, cleansing breaths - except they no longer seemed to cleanse much of anything. Things had been a few degrees off for years, and though it had taken her some time to pin it down, she'd really known why from the beginning. Still, it washed over her like a tidal wave in unexpected moments, presenting itself afresh once again.

It just wasn't the same without Albus.

"NO."

She chuckled. "Oh, yes. I'm afraid this has not been added to my inbox by a Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes employee."

"That's... that's something else again, it is." Sprout looked as if she'd seen a ghost - not altogether an overreaction. "What are you going to do?"

"Do? I'm headed over there tomorrow morning."

"You cannot be serious," the dirt-encrusted professor blustered. "I wouldn't touch that with a-"

"Luckily, we needn't touch anything - merely admit an eligible student into our school of witchraft and wizardry."

A beady gaze was levelled in her direction. "You're sure?"

"Quite." With that, she rolled up the parchment and tapped it with her wand; it vanished. "Not that I'm particularly sure of how to approach such a situation, but I'm sure I'll manage."

"Old Hogwarts is in for an experience come next term, I suspect."

McGonagall allowed herself a thin smile. "Perhaps. Perhaps I'll see yet another mighty turn in the pages of history during my overlong lifespan. Perhaps not." She stood stiffly, pursing her lips for a moment. "Perhaps I am going to be late for the next period of Transfiguration, so if you'll excuse me-"

"Ahh, right," she chuckled in a half-hearted manner. "See you, then."

"Yes."

But as Minerva McGonagall emerged from behind the stone gargoyle and made her way toward her classroom where a dozen or so students awaited her instruction, she felt much older and far less positive than she had indicated to her lifelong friend and associate. Out of all the students whom had come and gone during her tenure at Hogwarts School, she had never been less sure of what to expect from one of them. The sky was the limit: this could either end just fine and dandy... or extremely, heinously unwell.

~END Chapter One

[[EXHAUSTIVE RANT: Hi! My name is Lib- er, Jessica X. Welcome to the Big One - or what I hope will be my longest and least-awful fanfiction yet. It's taken me almost THREE YEARS (2.5) to really get it the way I want it (or close enough), and it's about time I unleashed it upon an unsuspecting fandom. REVIEWS! Am I still up to snuff?

This section is a new thing, something I haven't really done before, but felt was necessary given the content of my fic. It's a preemptive strike against flamers, and I realise that by doing so I may be inviting yet more, especially-Hellish flames. More literally, it's a sounding board set up in a question/answer fashion, even though no one's been asking :P Those of you who can appreciate a story based on its merits may ignore this entirely, or read it purely out of interest. I warn you, though, Gripes 2&3 contain DH spoilers, and Gripes 1&3 have spoilers for my own fiction. READ IF YOU DARE, MUAHAHAHAHAAA

GRIPE 1: You're stealing Plot Element X or Character Development Y from Johnny Q. Public's fanfiction! You must answer for these crimes!JESSEX: No, I really mustn't. Sad though it is to say, I have so little free time as it is that I have not been able to read a fanfiction that wasn't written by a very dear friend in several YEARS. Also, I don't believe it the wisest use of my time to comb and Schnoogle to see if people have done the same thing as me before, because the answer will always be "yes" - we live in a recycled world, everything's already been done. The only reason I'm addressing this is because now Deathly Hallows has been out for a while, I'm sure a ridiculous amount of fic has sprung up on the subject, and they're all bound to seem similar in certain ways. Honestly, if there's anything glaringly obvious (like the inclusion of an original character named Jezabel Skirrow, complete with intentional misspelling of given name), it's a remarkeable coincidence - otherwise, it's probably just something that makes sense.

GRIPE 2: But Bellatrix is DEAD! We saw her die!JESSEX: I'm only going to say this once. You saw her hit with a jet of light, and that's as specific as it gets - Molly being who she is, I believe it more likely that it was a Stunner. This very thing happened to Sirius before he fell through the veil (Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix's jet of red light / the second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest), and Harry refuses to believe he's dead because he must be able to get out from behind the archway, having only been Stunned. Let's not forget that Professor McGonagall was hit with three Stunners to the chest, and while it was no laughing matter and she was in St. Mungo's for weeks on end, she lived to tell the tale. As so many before me have vehemently stated, Sirius was Stupefied, and ONLY died when passing through the veil - therefore, since the description of the events is almost EXACTLY the same, we can make a very strong argument for the aforementioned character's survival. All I'm trying to say is that both are EQUALLY POSSIBLE, and for the sake of this fiction, let's say she survived, all right?GRIPE 2b: But we saw Sirius get hit with an Avada Kedavra!JESSEX: Ahh, you saw that in the MOVIE. The movies also have a very long bridge connecting the Owlery to the rest of the castle, deleted all house-elves from years three and four, and changed the colour of Hermione's dress robes to a lurid pink. Let's stick to canon, thank you. By the by, I don't personally consider JK's interviews as canon; I'm not saying she doesn't have the right to control the world she invented... but if she didn't actually write it into the books, it's the literary equivalent of "hearsay". I'm sure some of you were thinking about that one, too.

GRIPE 3: Harry lost the Firebolt, it "spun to the earth"! Now here you are, trying to say he's had it all along, and STILL has it!JESSEX: Fair point, but let's think about this: a goodly amount of time passed between Harry's final exodus from Privet Drive and the moment the Ministry fell to Voldemort's clutches. It's probable (more like a dead certainty) that somewhere in that time, a Muggle would have found the broom, accidentally flown around the block, been grounded and Obliviated by the Ministry, and the Firebolt confiscated pending further investigation. Eventually, long after everything was over, someone would have recognised it as Harry's broom, or he would have gone looking for it (as it was the first gift his godfather ever bought for him other than the toy broomstick he was too young to remember, I should think he might) - so even if the Ministry didn't gladly put it back in his hands, a few "Accio!"s in and around Little Whinging should have produced it. As for whether or not it survived the fall... it's got a diamond-hard polish, and it flies! As dandy as the Firebolt model is, I wouldn't be surprised if it had an anti-crash braking charm of some kind on it, as well.

And that should take care of most of the obvious quibbles. Honestly, I've tried my level best to stick to canon as much as humanly possible while still writing the story I wished to see on page... so please forgive me the one or two "AU" moments that you may frown at. Thank you, and please enjoy my Hogwarts opus!]]

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