< >After breakfast was over, Anna Winterbourne was the center of attention, though she tried desperately to run from her accusers who thought she had done something again, or just wanting to know - again - of what she had said to him many years before:
< >"What did you say to him?"
< >"What did you do to him, Anna?"
< >"You know what's going on. Tell us or we're going to Tatooli!"
< >"Tell us, Anna!"
< >Someone had actually pointed a finger at her at one point and called her one of You-Know-Who's supporters which made Anna blow up, scaring people half to death:
< >"If you ever dare call me Voldemort's ally again, I will see to it that you burn in - "
< >"All of you!" snapped Professor O. Arthur McWilliams, head of the Charms section of the school, looking very angry and grave, as he appeared in front of them. "You will leave this corridor this instant. Go to class. And you will shush your mouths. What I heard just now can get you suspended. Go on, before I tell Madam Tatooli!"
< >The students ran to their classrooms, but the fourth years moved more slowly, staring at each other and at Anna, who walked far behind everyone, her head bowed in conflicted thought.
< >Professor Erwin was already in his classroom, the letters strewn all over the desk. The class stared as they seated themselves, but dared not utter a noise. Their professor suddenly jumped to his feet, scooped up all the letters, threw them into the wastepaper basket, and with a flick of his wand, lit them on fire with a boom, to the shock of the class.
< >"Transfiguration does not use fire, but I felt this was a time for a change of . . . atmosphere," Professor Erwin told his class coldly, glaring at them with malice gleaming in his dark eyes. "Take out your books and begin reading chapter thirteen. I am particularly disgusted with your lack of effort." He spit in the wastepaper basket, making the fire rise in the air at least six feet with a sharp crack.
< >At the end of the day, Madam Tatooli's voice called through the school. "Staff meeting for all teachers. Please meet in the staff room for this discussion immediately." The school hushed. "Classes are dismissed early for this meeting."
< >Professor Erwin walked out behind his students and hurried to the staff room, however, being the last one there. The teachers all watched him with looks of anger, fear, and confusion.
< >"Oh, no, Juane," Professor Erwin said in a shrill, angry voice. "No."
< >"Don't you dare leave here, Thomas," Professor McWilliams ordered in a cold, menacing voice. His eyes narrowed at the younger man.
< >"What are you going to do about it, Orloff?" Professor Erwin sneered.
< >"You aren't like some teachers, Thomas," Professor Gooding said slowly, choosing her next words carefully and ignoring Professor Erwin's last comment. "You are one of the best, we know that, and one of the best wizards in the world, but it's just . . ."
< >"It's just what, Samantha?" Professor Erwin snapped angrily. "That I am mean? That I am sharp? That I am strict? That I produce some of the best students ever?" He narrowed his eyes. "Or is it that I am me?"
< >"You aren't you!" Professor Gooding shrieked angrily, jumping up, disgusted and angry. "Look at yourself! Compare yourself to fifteen years ago! You look thirty years older now! You never eat, you are always angry - and God forbid, I have no idea why - and - "
< >"It's none of your business! I don't care if you're concerned or angry! Don't you realize at all that none of this blather hits me? It bounces off like a balloon!" Professor Erwin shouted fiercely.
< >"All balloons come down sometime, Thomas!" Professor Larr yelled back.
< >"Shut up, Allan!"
< >"Don't tell him to shut up - you shut up!" screamed Professor Gooding, pointing a finger at Professor Erwin angrily. "You are a fool and a crackpot, do you hear me, Thomas? You are crazy!"
< >Professor Erwin whipped out his wand and pointed it at his colleagues who leaned back in their chairs and stances, staring in horror and surprise. "I am not about to take much more of this." He glared at Madam Tatooli who had been staying out of the fight, in a corner near the back of the room, alone, seated on a rickety old chair. "And if you feel the need to fire me, madam, by all means, do it, but realize, that won't change anything."
< >The other teachers looked back and forth at Madam Tatooli and Professor Erwin, searching for some clue in the matter.
< >Madam Tatooli looked away and hugged herself, not daring to even look in the direction of Professor Erwin who spat on the floor angrily.
< >"You think that you will get this out of me, but you won't. You know it. It cannot be done. You are the fool, Madam Tatooli, no matter what Samantha or any of them say," Professor Erwin said softly and coldly. "You stop this now, Juane. I will not change my mind on this matter, and you know it."
< >"This isn't about the students or us anymore," Professor McWilliams whispered hoarsely.
< >Professor Erwin glanced at him. "I doubt it ever was, Orloff."
< >"Then what was it about?" Madam Tatooli shrieked suddenly, jumping to her feet. "I told Dumbledore that I was not - not - going to blackmail you or force you, but - but - for the sake of yourself, look in the mirror for once, Thomas! You age everyday, you have no friends, you have no life! Except, of course, to terrorize your students. And I agree many of the ones you have taught are some of the best, but you bully them into learning the craft you don't even care about anymore! That's how they learn and that is not righteous teaching!"
< >"And what are you doing now, Juane? Terrorizing, threatening, bullying! But you do not have the strength to get through me. I have my shell - no point in denying it, I daresay - and it helps me. It protects me from people like you and Minerva, and Dumbledore! Who all of you seem to think is the knight in shining armor who you must all worship and listen to with the greatest respect or Voldemort will get you. In the real world, you idiots, you must realize that you should not obey his every caprice and go on with your own lives that should not be worshipping him!
< >"And you will all stop terrorizing me this instant or I swear - on my dead brother's grave! - that I will kill myself so I will not have to listen to your protests, mockeries, and blackmail!"
< >Madam Tatooli and all the other teachers stared in shock (and confusion in everyone's case but the Madam's, for she knew . . .) at Professor Erwin.
< >Juane Tatooli finally whispered, "This has gone way too far, Thomas . . . All of it . . . Please stop, just stop now . . ."
< >Professor Erwin turned on his heel and stormed out of the room and ran to his chambers. He snatched up the beige envelope, ripped it open, and read the letter enclosed in it:
< >The professor threw the letter to the side angrily and ripped open the rest of the envelope. Papers flew out and Professor Erwin picked them up, reading everything carefully, his eyes widening in surprise.
< >It was a timeline, well, in a way. There were detailed to sketchy accounts of what Harry had been through for fourteen years. His birth, his parents' death, a summary of the letter given to the Dursleys - Curse them, Professor Erwin thought angrily - to accounts of Harry's all encounters with Voldemort, etceteras. Then to grades, fights, detentions, and so much more. Professor Erwin, in short, was overwhelmed.
< >He jumped to his feet and flung open the door of his chambers, making it crash against the wall with a large boom that made windows shake and clatter. He hurried out the front door, grabbing his broom on the way out, and mounted his broom on the front step. He flew off as fast as he could, oblivious to the yells and screams from his colleagues and students, hanging out of windows, the front door, and the grounds, staring after him in shock and confusion and fear.
< >The air was deadly cold, but Professor Erwin didn't feel it. All he felt was determination and anger as he flew onward and onward until he had reached his destination.
< >Professor Erwin landed on at the front door of the castle on one foot and knocked on the door three times. He looked out at the grounds. The Forbidden Forest was right on the edge of the grounds and he could see two red headed boys being dragged away from it by a giant and smiled a bit, remembering old times.
< >The door opened slowly and Professor Erwin slowly turned his head, his eyes looking very evil and piercing, and his black robes flapping slightly in the wind. He would have been considered Voldemort himself, if he hadn't a noble history.
< >"Pr - Professor Erwin?" Professor McGonagall faltered, staring at him.
< >Professor Erwin nodded, but didn't take his eyes off her, giving her a hard, cold stare back. "I have come to see Professor Dumbledore," he said softly, yet still with the hardness of determination.
< >"He is not here at the moment," McGonagall replied crisply, seeming reluctant to let him in the castle. "What did you wish to speak to him about?"
< >"Isn't it obvious?"
< >"No, it isn't, Thomas. You have many reasons to come here - some of which endanger the students and staff here," McGonagall replied in a cold voice, glaring at him menacingly.
< >A girl that had come up behind McGonagall stopped dead to listen.
< >"What could my reason be then?"
< >"For - Thomas, I have no idea!" McGonagall said sharply. "But stories told - "
< >"The stories are nothing like the rumors, Minerva!" Professor Erwin cried shrilly.
< >"Thomas, Professor Erwin, I swear to you, when Dumbledore gets back - "
< >"Do you really think he wouldn't let me pass? Let me see my brother's boy!"
< >"You have not spoken his name in fourteen years, you ingrate!" McGonagall shouted angrily. "Of all the lowest - I thought - "
< >"Well, you thought wrong, professor," Professor Erwin snapped.
< >Suddenly, a loud group of students came around a corner and stopped at the sight of Professor Erwin and McGonagall. McGonagall turned to them and said sharply, "Get out of here! This is a private conversation. You, too, Ms. Granger - this is not a conversation for your ears. Off with you all, now!" Everyone hurried away, not daring to look back.
< >The blood drained from Professor Erwin's face. "Hermione Granger?" he croaked, staring after the girl in amazement.
< >"Of course. You know that," McGonagall snapped, turning to him. "Dumbledore sent you those packages, which I personally thought was foolish, because who knew and bloody knows what you'll do."
< >"Oh, do shut up, Minerva," Professor Erwin sneered, getting angry again, "and let me pass!"
< >"When Dumbledore gets back - "
< >"Like hell, Minerva! You were the one to bring the news to me of my dead brother's child's fate and now - now - I am not allowed to see him?" Professor Erwin shouted angrily, glaring at McGonagall with malice.
< >"You've never seen him!"
< >"Liar," Professor Erwin spat. "I saw him when he was born!"
< >"Do you think he'll remember you?" McGonagall demanded shrilly. "He doesn't even remember his dead parents and you think he'll remember you? You are a foolish man, Thomas."
< >Professor Erwin cut McGonagall off from speaking. "I have had enough insults today, thank you very much, Minerva, and I don't appreciate any of it. And furthermore, I never said I thought he'd remember me! I just said I had seen him!"
< >"Fourteen years ago!" McGonagall cried angrily.
< >"Does that matter?" Professor Erwin shouted. "He's my blood!"
< >"I don't care if you both have the blood of Godric Gryffindor himself in you, Thomas. I will not let you pass!" McGonagall yelled fiercely.
< >Professor Erwin narrowed his eyes angrily until they were slits.
< >"What is going on here?" asked a sudden, sharp voice. A man appeared out of the shadows and approached Professor Erwin and McGonagall. When he could see Professor Erwin clearly, his eyes flashed with hatred.
< >"Severus Snape," Professor Erwin said coldly, glaring at him.
< >"Thomas Erwin," came the reply with a mirror of coldness.
< >"Heckled any good students lately?"
< >"Thomas," Professor McGonagall warned crossly.
< >"Why, yes, in fact," Snape sneered. "His name is - "
< >"Severus! Both of you!" McGonagall interjected sharply, pushing them away from each other. "I have had it up to here with the two of you. The feud stops now." She cut Snape off. "Do you understand, Professor Snape, Professor Erwin? As long as Thomas remains at Hogwarts and thereafter, the warfare of this seemingly infinite fight ends right now, right here. I cannot stand here and listen to you compare notes!"
< >"Does that mean I can pass finally?" Professor Erwin demanded sharply.
< >"When Dumbledore gets back, Thomas!" McGonagall yelled shrilly. "I must have said it a dozen times now! What is wrong with you?"
< >Professor Erwin narrowed his eyes darkly. "Everything, Minerva." He whipped out his wand and yelled, "Petrificus Totalus!" Professor McGonagall's arms snapped to her side and she fell flat on her face onto the floor. Professor Erwin whirled around to Snape who was reaching for his wand and pointed his own wand in Snape's face, jabbing his nose. "Ah, ah, Severus. I'll turn you into a toad before you can touch your wand, do you hear me?"
< >Snape stared at him in shock, then a smirk grew on his face. "What will the Ministry say?" he sneered, looking suddenly triumphant.
< >"If they ever met you, I'd bet they'd say terrific," Professor Erwin replied snidely.
< >Snape's smile faded and he began reaching for his wand again.
< >"Petrificus Totalus, Wingardium Leviosa!" Professor Erwin shouted, twirling his wand arm around, engulfing the other two professors in a shower of colourful dust, gold stars, and blue streamers that disappeared quickly.
< >Snape's body froze and he and McGonagall lifted off the ground, their eyes wide in fear and surprise. They floated to the ceiling, staring at each other - their eyes being the only things that could move - then back at Professor Erwin who was sliding his wand back into his robes.
< >"I am sorry for doing this to you, you know - well, maybe not sorry for you, Severus - but you'll be down whenever Dumbledore or another teacher comes around here. I seriously doubt a student will risk your deaths, just by taking off the spell. It would a very stupid student who would do that," Professor Erwin said with a soft chuckle, setting his broom against the wall.
< >"And Severus, the reason I have not made you invisible is that I would forget and no one would see you . . . honestly, I thought you would have known that! Smart as you are." Professor Erwin glanced up at Snape whose eyes were wide with hatred and surprise.
< >Professor Erwin swooped away down a hall, then turned down another. He passed several coats of armor and paintings before a figure jumped out in front of him: Argus Filch, his cat at his ankles.
< >"Thomas Erwin?" he asked blankly, expecting a student.
< >Professor Erwin brushed past him. "Your sister hopes you are well, Argus," he called over his shoulder cruelly, "or rather - dead." Filch sized up in anger, but didn't move or say anything, because as much as he disliked the professor, he respected and feared him. It was very well known throughout the wizarding world that Thomas Erwin was nearly next in line to Dumbledore as best wizard in the world - and most powerful, just never showed it much.
< >As he swept through the halls, he came across a small, flying man. "Ah, Peeves."
< >Peeves sneered at Professor Erwin. "'Fessor Tommy's back at Hoggy's?" he asked sickly sweetly, leaning in to look at Professor Erwin, a mischievous grin spreading across his face.
< >Professor Erwin smiled coyly. "The Bloody Baron's been telling me that he's been quite angry with you, Peeves," he said, acting as if he had been at the school for a while that day and was very pleased about this.
< >Peeves looked at the professor in shock. "Er, uh, angry at Peevsie?"
< >"'Says you displeased him and he's very angry with you. I expect he'll be coming 'round soon. You'll be hiding, then, I suppose? He seemed very angry, but he might cool off, I suppose . . . Do his eyes pop out of his head normally when he's extra angry, or just when he's angry?"
< >Peeves let out a shriek and flew away, disappearing down a corridor. Professor Erwin chuckled to himself as he hurried to the Gryffindor tower, stopping outside the picture of the fat lady.
< >"Is that you, Thomas?" the fat lady squawked, squinting at him.
< >Professor Erwin smiled and nodded. "Yes it is. How have you been, my lady?"
< >The fat lady smiled and blushed, flattered and happy to see him again. "Same old, same old, I guess. No new people, except the first years, but they have nothing really to do with me, nor do the older students. Same old, same old." She sighed. "It hasn't been the same without you here to keep me company."
< >"Was I the only one that actually stopped to have a conversation, then?"
< >"The nicest one and most handsome, I'll ever say," the fat lady replied sweetly, blushing again.
< >Professor Erwin chortled, stroking his throat. "My lady, you flatter me, although my colleagues have complained about my current appearance. Say, how many people do you have behind this beautiful picture now?" he asked smoothly, his voice dripping with flattery, though, if you'd asked him, he would have wanted to say he hated doing this to the poor lady.
< >The fat lady swelled up with pride, a smile on her face. "About everyone. I think a few prefects are out, and Fred and George Weasley, of course," she said with a sigh, "and I think Harry Potter - " she didn't see the professor wince " - is still out, but I don't know where. Maybe the library." The fat lady smiled again innocently. "Why do you ask, Thomas?"
< >Professor Erwin shrugged. "Conversation. I'd better be off now - I have a meeting. Have a good day, now, my dear." He flashed her a winning smile and hurried away, toward the library, his smile fading as soon as he had turned his back.
< >The library was nearly empty. The librarian, Irma Pince, had her back to the professor, stacking books in a cart. There were a few students, but, alas, no Harry Potter, as no one was old or young enough, and Professor Erwin hurried out, unseen by anyone.
< >It was quiet in the halls, until soft footsteps began to echo in the hall. A small boy with mousy brown hair appeared at the end of a corridor, fidgeting with his camera. He didn't see Professor Erwin until he was five feet away from him.
< >"Oh! Sorry, sir, I didn't see you," the boy said quickly, looking up and being somewhat startled.
< >"Quite all right, of course. I am looking for someone - are you a Gryffindor?"
< >"Yes! A third year," the boy said with pride. "Who are y' looking for?"
< >"Someone by the name - er - Patter, I think it was," the professor replied delicately.
< >"Patter? Oh! You're talking about - "
< >"All students return to their house common rooms immediately," Professor McGonagall's voice called severely through the castle, magically magnified.
< >"I'd better go!" the boy chirped cheerfully, yet still with a tinge of worry. He hurried down the corridor to the Gryffindor tower.
< >Professor Erwin cursed angrily, shaking a fist. Someone had come and seen Snape and McGonagall - already! He mumbled a few words, disappeared from sight, and hurried to the staff room, following a small man he recognized as Professor Flitwick in quickly.
< >"What is going on, Professor McGonagall?" one of the staff asked.
< >"Professor Moody, everyone, there is something going on that - "
< >"What, Minerva?" Snape demanded angrily, jumping up from the table, clenching his fists. "Besides Thomas Erwin showing up and body binding us, then suspending us in air, leaving us to be found by Binns and Flitwick? What, besides that, is going on?"
< >"I will tell you, Severus," said a grave voice.
< >Everyone looked to the door. Dumbledore stood in the doorway. He closed the door behind him and sat down at the table. Snape looked around at everyone, still angry, then sat back down.
< >"As you all very well know, James and Lily Potter died, survived only by Lily's sister and the Potter's son." Snape's face twitched slightly, but said nothing. "But what you didn't know is this: The Potter's are survived by another."
< >The blood from Snape's face drained away. "You don't mean - Thomas Erwin?"
< >All the teachers stared at each other in amazement.
< >"Impossible," Snape continued. "Who is he related to, Dumbledore? That Muggle family? Hardly!" His angry face became a sneer of disgust, like he didn't believe Dumbledore at all.
< >"Severus, Thomas Erwin is the half-brother of James Potter," Dumbledore replied calmly.
< >Snape faltered, nearly falling out of his chair. "W-what? How - ?"
< >Dumbledore sighed. "Dear me, how?" he said with a bit of amusement. "Well, they had different fathers; Thomas is the older of them. You didn't know, well, because, James and Thomas were never very close . . ."
< >"You are telling me that I fought - that I went to school with two men I didn't even know were related? And you're telling me - you are, aren't you? - that Potter is related to one of the most powerful wizards in the world?" Snape cried bitterly. One might have thought Snape would have continued with, "Another thing to his damned resume?" but he did not.
< >Professor Erwin leaned in next to Snape. "That's right, Severus," he whispered in a hoarse voice, making Snape straighten and freeze in his chair like a board. "My flesh and blood. And he already has a bit of Voldemort in him, too, but you knew that, didn't you?" He chuckled softly, poking the tip of his wand against Professor Snape's temple, dragging it along the side of his cheek, watching Snape shudder in a mix of fear and anger. "Jealous, are you?"
< >Snape jumped to his feet. "No, I am not jealous, you lunatic!" He looked around wildly as if to see where Professor Erwin was, but it was impossible. The other teachers stared at him, until he hissed, "He's here!"
< >"Thomas," Dumbledore said suddenly in a loud voice, "show yourself."
< >Professor Erwin chuckled mockingly from across the room, making the teachers swivel around in their seats. "Not likely, Albus. I may have been taught by you - but I am not your slave anymore."
< >Dumbledore's eyes narrowed slightly and he sighed. "Thomas - "
< >"You really think you can convince me, don't you?" Professor Erwin sneered. "I mean, come off it, old man, you can't convince everyone anymore. There was bound to be someone who didn't listen to your every whim."
< >"Thomas Erwin, if I could see you, I would slap you," McGonagall snapped.
< >"But I can see you and I can turn you into a snail, so I advise you hold your tongue, Minerva," Professor Erwin said calmly.
< >"Hold my tongue, my - "
< >Dumbledore gave her a look and she fell silent. "Thomas," Dumbledore began, "for ages I have been trying to convince you to come to Hogwarts to meet Harry, but you have refused every time. Why now?"
< >"Other matters first, Albus, the Dursleys are the boy's only living relatives?"
< >Dumbledore looked at the table. "I thought you would be too distraught - "
< >"So you handed him over to them?" Professor Erwin demanded angrily, snapping into view of the room. He pointed a finger at Dumbledore accusingly. "He would have been better off with Severus! I have only read things they have done to him and I was furious! How dare you even think you have the right - "
< >There was a sudden knock on the door and it was pushed open. Professor Erwin recognized her slightly from a long time before.
< >"Poppy?" McGonagall asked Madam Pomfrey with a slight edge to her voice.
< >"All this yelling is going through the castle and it's giving Potter a headache and that's the least of his problems," the woman snapped in Dumbledore's direction, narrowing her eyes at Dumbledore, as if blaming him.
< >"What is wrong with him?" Professor Erwin asked, his voice suddenly shrill, touching his throat.
< >Madam Pomfrey glared at him. "He's sick and I doubt it's any of your business, anyway. What is your name?" she demanded sharply.
< >"Professor Thomas Patrick Erwin, madam."
< >Madam Pomfrey stared at him.
< >"Thomas Erwin, half-brother to James Potter, uncle of . . ."
< >Madam Pomfrey just stared at him. Her mouth dropped open, as if remembering him from long ago and as if meeting a movie star.
< >"Thomas . . . ?"
< >Professor Erwin swung his head around. "Albus," he said coldly in response.
< >"To finish our conversation - "
< >"The conversation has barely begun, you twit!" Professor Erwin yelled. He snapped his head to McGonagall. "Don't even try anything, Minerva. You may not know it, but I am a lot faster than you," he snarled, turning back to Dumbledore.
< >"Thomas, please, if you will listen to me - "
< >"Listening to you is pointless, Dumbledore. And furthermore, back to the original conversation, what gives you the right to ship my brother's boy to people you knew would hate him? Who you knew wouldn't give him a life other than near slavery? Who would break his leg to stop him from being a wizard? Who would lock him up to stop him. Minerva warned you about them - you should have known anyway, since you seem to know everything," Professor Erwin sneered angrily.
< >"YOU - ARE - SICK - THOMAS!" Dumbledore suddenly bellowed, making everyone in the room jump in surprise. His eyes burned with an evil, blue fire. "I know it - you know it - everyone knows it. How many people have told you to look in the mirror? How many have to? While I was in London, I got a flock of owls from Madam Tatooli - scared out her mind - that you were going to kill yourself so you do not have to undergo all this - when you know you have to! You have not even spoken the boy's name in fourteen years - !"
< >"Personally, this subject bores me. I have heard it dozens of times - "
< >"And that doesn't seem to be enough, does it?" McGonagall demanded angrily. "For fourteen years, you have not spoken Harry's name once! And you forbid your own students to say it in your presence - everyone knows, Thomas. It's not like nobody doesn't know! How daft are you? Suspicions of you being on Voldemort's side have run rampant throughout the Ministry for years - and they didn't connect you with being related to Harry at all!"
< >"Because no one ever thought to! They all thought James Potter was an only child and they were wrong! And come off it, Minerva, you would like to know why these people are so stupid, too!" Professor Erwin shouted back. "They still don't know that they are wrong! They all thought we were in no way related - maybe because we never had time to actually be together after we left Hogwarts - and even then, people didn't know we were brothers, except for Lily, you - Minerva - and Dumbledore here, of course.
< >"And me being connected with Voldemort? Ha! That's a laugh! The only thing I see being is connected is that we all looked alike! If you lined up pictures of the three of us, all at the same ages, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference!"
< >"What does that matter?" Snape shouted suddenly. "Look, Thomas, you, James, and I feuded for years and I could tell the difference between you both! It was easy! And even if I had known, despite your looking identical - I admit somewhat to that - to each other, I still would have been able to tell the difference! You were hard, James was brave. That's the difference between you and your brother that made you so apart, don't you understand at all?"
< >"So what about comparing the difference between Voldemort, my brother, and I?" Professor Erwin sneered, though he was penetrated by Snape's words. "One's brave, one's hard, one's evil? If you had that kind of philosophy when we were kids, Severus - why, you might have been Head Boy!"