The swoop of morning mail owls soared into the great hall, a graceful flurry of feathers and soft sweep of wings. Packages and letters dropped down, landing accurately (more or less) in front of their intended recipients.
After a moment, a dark, wide, shadow fell along the hall, moving swiftly and casting a notable pall over the morning diners; slower owls quickly flapped faster to get out of the way.
Dumbledore looked up as the white-ruffed vulture headed straight for him, then dropped the black envelope into his oatmeal.
The carrion-eater circled once, and then settled on the back of
throne chair, long talons gouging the wood, staring over the
shoulder with ruby red eyes.
The teachers along the table on either side of Dumbledore looked
headmaster himself raised his eyebrows and gingerly fished the letter
wiping it with his napkin. Carefully he opened it, pulled out the
note and read the contents.
He flinched, just a tiny bit. Next to him, McGonagall touched his arm
concern. He shot her a sidelong glance, his mouth forming a tiny rictus
“Bad news?” she asked softly. Dumbledore nodded as
a puff of cigar smoke rose
from the note.
“The Addams are coming to visit Hogwarts.”
McGonagall’s eyes widened in shock, and she swallowed hard.
It took her a
moment for form the next question. “B-both of them?”
“They’ve bred apparently. And they’re
considering sending their . . . offspring
. . . here.”
“Why? Didn’t we suffer enough the first
time?” came the anguished question.
The assembled Houses watched with a mix of curiosity and a little fear, (especially on the younger faces), as the Sorting Hat sat waiting on the stool. The husky boy in the striped shirt made his way up to it, his expression bright-eyed with anticipation. As he passed by the Slytherin table, Crabbe and Goyle sneered at him. Draco shot him a contemptuous look. The boy missed their expressions and stepped up on the dais. Standing there, McGonagall tried to smile at him.
She picked up the hat and motioned for the boy to sit; he plopped himself down on the stool and waited. McGonagall cleared her throat. “Right, then. This is the Sorting hat, and by tradition, it will choose the House you’re best suited for.”
The boy nodded. His parents and sister stood off to the side, watching with Dumbledore. The father, a short wide-eyed man in a pinstriped suit grinned in anticipation.
“Leaving a kid’s entire educational future up to the whim of a talking hat--brilliant, old man!” he muttered gleefully.
McGonagall set the Sorting Hat on the fuzzy scalp of the boy. The Hat’s point shot straight up into the air, and the old brim quivered. In a low, strangled voice the Sorting Hat cried out—
The tall, dark woman gently clutched the man’s arm and murmured throatily, “Oh Gomez!”
“Chip off the old block, Tish!”
The boy grinned and hopped off the stool as McGonagall plucked the hat off his head and gave it a soothing pat. The girl came forward, walking slowly. She sat on the stool with the regal arrogance of a natural Slytherin. Shakily, McGonagall set the Sorting hat on her head.
The hat quivered again, the old voice coming from the rip at the brim, the muttered words carrying in the stillness of the Great Hall. “No . . . no, please! Take me off, take me OFF! It burns! The abomination of it all! Don’t do this to me—Please!”
Before McGonagall could move, the Sorting Hat blasted off the girl’s dark head and rocketed up, to stick into the rafters of the Great Hall, quivering and whimpering.
“All right class, settle down,” Professor Lupin murmured nervously. “As you know, we have a pair of guests visiting today for our lesson about defense against the boggart. As you all remember, the boggart will take the shape of what you fear the most, and you cast a spell to ridicule it—in doing so you’ll overcome the fear it generates.
Addams, would you, um, care to do the honors?”
The girl in the dark dress walked up to the wardrobe and stood in front of it, her expression utterly deadpan. After a few long moments of silence, the wardrobe began to quiver, the dark wood creaking audibly. Finally, the big cabinet hopped . . . backwards. The dark-eyed girl took a single step forward, and the wardrobe shook again, scooting in retreat, the wood scraping against the stone floor.
Professor Lupin blinked a little, and cleared his throat. “Ah, yes—well it’s possible our ghoulish friend in the cabinet can’t quite get an idea from you, Miss Wednesday. Pugsley Addams would you care to make an attempt?”
The boy in the striped shirt stepped forward and looked at the wardrobe. Lupin smiled encouragingly. “Go on, give it a try—“
The boy pulled out a long stick of dynamite and lit the fuse; it flared and hissed as he quickly yanked open the wardrobe and tossed it inside, then slammed the door shut again.
A horrific explosion rattled the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom; sand and bits of mortar drifted down, while smoke gushed out along the seams of the wardrobe in thick, black clouds. The students sat frozen at their desks, staring at the now dilapidated wardrobe.
Very slowly the door creaked open a tiny crack, and with a low whimper, a small white flag poked out, waving feebly.
The blast of a shotgun shattered the early morning peace of Hogwarts, the report echoing down the valley towards the
. All over the school, windows popped open, and gawkers peered out towards the parapet, trying to see the cause of the disturbance.
“And again, Lurch! Pull!” came the gleeful cry. Gomez Addams stood dressed in a purple tweed shooting jacket, a huge bore shotgun in his hands. Standing off on one side of the parapet, the gaunt, towering butler obediently tossed something small and gold high into the air.
With a frantic flutter of wings, the Snitch darted upward; following it, Gomez tracked and targeted it through the site, and fired. The gold ball exploded with a squeak and shower of glittering fragments. Gasps came from open windows, and a loud cry echoed out. “What do you think you’re doing, Mis-ter Addams?”
McGonagall raced out the door that opened onto the parapet and stopped short, glaring at Gomez. He gave her a sunny smile and waved out over the expanse of sky. “Thought I’d get in a little target practice!”
“Not with Snitches, please! They’re hard enough to make, and our students need them for Quidditch!”
“Oh, yeah, Quidditch . . . slipped my mind that’s what you folks play on this side of the
McGonagall hesitated. “Clay pigeons?” she asked hopefully.
Gomez held out a handful of big brown feathers from his jacket breast pocket. “Nope. Owls!”
“Mister Addams! That’s . . .” she spluttered, trying to find the right words; the most convincing argument---but looking in his good-natured expression, the hopelessness of the effort hit her and she fumbled for a lesser option.
“—I’m afraid that’s er, tampering with the mail.”
“Ah! Right—“ he replied contritely, “I thought it was a little unsportsmanlike to go for the ones slowed down by packages.”
An idea struck McGonagall, and she pulled out her wand. “Accio parcel!” Instantly a large crate appeared on the parapet; the address label read: Attn: Dolores Umbridge.
“I do believe, Mr. Addams, that I have perfectly acceptable substitutes here however—“
McGonagall tapped the box and it opened, revealing a huge shipment of adorable little kitten plates, all mewing loudly.
Gomez Addams grinned.
So did McGonagall.
“They’re . . . indescribable,” McGonagall confessed to Dumbledore over tea in his study. “I’ve never seen anything like them!”
“Are they being malicious? Disruptive? Rude?” he asked with a slight twinkle in his eye. McGonagall paused delicately, and gave a helpless little shrug before speaking.
“Not as such—but impressions are definitely being made, Albus. The girl is quiet and generally well-mannered, but she did cause a bit of a stir when asked to make a patronus . . . “
“Ah—and what was it then?” Dumbledore probed gently.
McGonagall gave a pained smile. “It was a Dementor. That rather cleared the classroom, I don’t mind telling you. Her brother conjured up one of Hagrid’s Blast Ended Skrewts—thank goodness the boy hadn’t chosen a dragon for his happiest image.”
Dumbledore nodded, although his twinkle had grown into a small smile. “I did hear gossip from the Three Broomsticks that Hagrid had invited the Addams valet to go . . . Centaur tipping with him.”
McGonagall’s eyebrow shot up; Dumbledore coughed a little to cover his chuckle. She tried not to smirk, but it was difficult, and to stop the temptation, she added more sugar to her tea. “In any case, I’m not certain that Hogwarts is quite the place for young Mr. Addams. Surely Durmstrang---?” she trailed off hopefully. Dumbledore was about to speak when a hard knock at the study door interrupted him.
“Come in,” he invited. Snape entered.
“Headmaster, although you of all people know I’m not a patient man, I entreat you to arrange for the departure of our current guests, before I’m tempted to poison them—this time on my own volition,” Snape announced, his voice thick with exasperation. Dumbledore looked over his half-moon glasses at the Potions Master, who took a moment to wave away the smoldering tendrils from his sleeves.
“I rather got the impression they were good at potions,” he ventured. Snape’s thin mouth pursed tightly.
“Six caldrons blown up, two melted into slag, and one reduced to a sieve when young Master Addams attempted to make something called Grandmama Surprise."
“Grandmama Surprise? Did it have little croutons in it that growled at you?” Dumbledore asked blandly.
Snape narrowed his eyes. “You know of the abomination?”
“I may have encountered it before—I believe we used it to level a few of the mountains to build the original Hogwart’s Express,” Dumbledore admitted. McGonagall was hiding her smirk behind her teacup as Snape’s nostrils flared.
“Be that as it may, the fact remains that the peculiar . . . talents . . . of the Addams are a danger to the school and quite possibly all of Wizardom. The only greater threat would be if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named recruited them!”
“Oh rest assured, Severus, that will never happen,” Dumbledore smiled. “Whatever the Addams may be—and at times that’s not a rhetorical question—they’re definitely on our side.” He took in a deep breath and added, “Heaven help us. Still, I agree that young Miss and Mister Addams would be far better off at Durmstrang.”
“So remote, so bitterly cold and forbidding, with frozen tundra and six months of unforgiving blackness . . . “ Morticia mused. “Sounds like a little slice of paradise.”
“Practically a resort,” Gomez agreed. “If they’ve got dungeons, call it a done deal!”
“Oh they’ve got dungeons,” Dumbledore reassured the Addams. “Very dank, very dismal.”
“Think how spoiled the children will be!” Morticia murmured to her husband. He grinned at her and turned back to Dumbledore.
“Sounds like just the place. Sorry that Hogwarts didn’t quite fit the bill, old man, but just to show there’s no hard feelings, let me make a donation to the ‘Buy Professor Snape A Sense of Humor’ fund those Weasley twins told me about, eh?” He scribbled out a check and handed it to Dumbledore, then slipped an arm around his wife, who whispered gently to him.
“On our way we can stop at my alma mater, Beauxbatons, mon cher . . . “
“Tish that’s French!” he growled back happily, leading her out of the study.
Dumbledore watched them go, and then took a moment to stare at the check in his hand, shaking his head and smiling gently. “A noble gesture and a valiant attempt, Mr. Addams, but in truth, there aren’t enough Galleons in the world . . . “