Oct 21, 2021 10:25 PM
Sapphire in the Potterverse
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"- you alright?"

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"Just a brief headache." She isn't sure if it's safe to tell anyone or if there's anything to tell.

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"Alright, then."

When everyone has eaten as much as they can, the remains of the food fades from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the desserts appear. Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you can think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding -

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That's a lot of variety. "Is it like this all the time or just special occasions?" She gets small amounts of a bunch of things.

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"There's always a lot of food but this much is because of the Sorting Feast," explains another older student.

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"That makes sense. Thanks."

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Eventually the dessert, too, disappears, and Professor Dumbledore gets to his feet again, that action enough to bring the hall to silence.

"Ahem - just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well." Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flash in the direction of a pair of redheaded twins at the Gryffindor table. "I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their House teams should contact Madam Hooch.

"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."

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Her eyes go a little wide. What in the world does that mean? She pays even closer attention to the rest of the speech if there's anything more.

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"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cries Dumbledore. The other teachers' smiles become rather fixed. Dumbledore gives his wand a little flick, as if he's trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flies out of it, which rises high above the tables and twists itself, snakelike, into words. "Everyone pick their favorite tune," he says, "and off we go!"

And the school bellows:

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,

"Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,

"So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot."

Everybody finishes the song at different times. At last, only the same redheaded twins are left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducts their last few lines with his wand and when they've finished, he's one of those who claps loudest.

"Ah, music," he says, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"

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The cacophony is kinda awful. "Does anyone else find the thing about the third floor worrying?"

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"Oh, he's Dumbledore," someone shrugs. "...but he's serious, yes, don't do that."

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"That's not very reassuring. Why would there be something that dangerous in a school?"

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"It's the safest place in Britain, pretty much."

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"Safest in what sense? Do you mean it has objectively the best safety record or do you mean it's the most defensible if attacked or something else? Also, why would it being safe be a reason to add dangers?"

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"All of the above, and if it's something dangerous it's probably been put there to keep it safe."

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She's a little skeptical that Hogwarts is safer than anywhere else but she doesn't know enough to object. "It seems weird to keep dangerous things in a school, but maybe Hogwarts isn't just a school."

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"Define 'just,'" he says, as the prefect starts leading them out of the Great Hall.

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"If Hogwarts's only purpose is to be a school then I don't think that there should be anything here that makes the students less safe. If it has other purposes I guess it might make sense to compromise the purpose of it as a school to satisfy those."

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"Hogwarts is one of the most magical places in Britain but it's ostensibly just a school..."

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"I guess something this dangerous might just be a secret but if it is why wouldn't they cast spells on the door to make it secret. Maybe there aren't spells like that that work on wizards."

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"Well, there's the Fidelius Charm? But then the secret depends on a single person."

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"That sounds interesting, but I guess I can see why people wouldn't use that too often. Hopefully they have strong locking spells to keep people too curious for their own good away from whatever it is that's so dangerous."

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Shrug.

They are led to a spiral staircase that goes up a tower leading to a door with an eagle-shaped knocker but no doorknob or keyhole. No one knocks, though, and the knocker speaks: "If it's entrance that you seek, then this answer you must speak. What always comes but never arrives?"

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"Tomorrow."

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"You may enter," says the knocker, opening the way. A few older students look at her with approval.

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