Chapter 4: Back in the Castle Again
The carriage pulled up to the iron gates guarding Hogwarts, the horse-creatures whimpering as they stopped to wait. Gohan noted this, and looked around for what they were so afraid of; his eyes narrowed intriguingly.
Those things were patrolling over the entrance. Their dark forms glided over the stone columns, causing the air to freeze in their presence. Dementors.
As the gates opened, creaking ever forebodingly, the dementors cast their hoods over to the coaches as they went through. Another icy sensation pierced Gohan, but this time he was prepared. He knew to not sense these things, and simply fought off the minor feeling of cold and despondency that invaded him. After traveling down the winding pathway towards the castle, the dementors became out of range. Their disheartening ability began wearing off, warmth flowing into the young witches and wizards’ bodies.
Gohan cast the dementor guards one last glance before they became out of view, shuddering uncomfortably. He could have sworn that they were still watching them, their hoods billowing in the wind.
What were they doing here? If these things were what made Azkaban impassable from the inside, what could be dangerous enough to use them? Could the Ministry have considered Gohan a threat to the students— wait a minute. Of course, Sirius Black! Didn’t Hermione say that Professor Lupin mentioned Sirius Black to them? Yeah; he said that no one was ‘hiding Sirius Black under their cloaks’. So, the Ministry wasn’t worried about the second Boy Who Lived; they were worried about the first. So much so, that they were willing to lease the dementors to Hogwarts to catch Black.
Finally, they arrived at the front of Hogwarts, the castle even more extraordinary and imposing than the last time he saw. They pulled to a stop, Hermione and Ron getting out first. Then Harry made his way down the—
“You fainted, Potter?” Malfoy sneered jubilantly, pushing his way through Hermione to Harry. “Is Longbottom telling the truth? You actually fainted?”
Harry tried making his way around the other wizard, but Malfoy blocked his path up the stairway.
“Shove off Malfoy,” Ron threatened, gritting his teeth at the snobby boy.
“Did you faint as well, Weasley?” Malfoy asked loudly, garnering the attention of passerby’s. “Did the scary old dementor frighten you too, Weasley?”
“Get out of here Malfoy,” Gohan said angrily, stepping off the carriage to the wizard. “You should think about what you’re doing right now.”
Strangely, instead of the whimpering plea Gohan expected from the slimy snake, Malfoy smirked nastily.
“Ah Son, I heard something about you from Longbottom too. He said you froze up when it came; to think the big bad saiyan wet his pants. Ha!”
Gohan gritted his teeth, tensing his hand as bullion energy began to swirl within it.
“Is there a problem?” A soft voice asked; Professor Lupin started towards them from his carriage.
Malfoy glowered lightly at the professor, obviously disapproving of his tattered appearance.
“Oh, no – er – Professor,” Malfoy replied innocently, sarcasm coating the statement. He then nodded darkly to Crabbe and Goyle, walking before them up the stairs into the castle.
Gohan, coming to his senses from his momentary anger, flexed his fingers gingerly, extinguishing the ki. He allowed Hermione to prod him forward, walking in-between her and Harry as they entered Hogwarts.
Gohan took the sight of the ancient castle in deeply, admiring every inch of the info structure with pleasure. He couldn’t believe that he’d have missed going to school so much; but then again, he was going back with his friends, who he missed a great deal since then.
They continued into the castle’s corridors until they reached the doors of the Great Hall, the enchanted roof shining over past them with the dark sky and bright stars. Thankfully, the full moon had already passed, so any chance of him magically transforming as a result of the artificial sky was unlikely (he didn’t know if that was a problem for true, but why risk it?). However, before the group could pass through, an all too familiar voice sounded through the hallway.
“Potter! Granger! Son! I want to see you three!”
They all turned, surprised to find Professor McGonagall motioning to them from the crowd of students, towering over the heads of the (much) younger witches and wizards. Gohan noticed the apprehensive looks on his friends’ faces, but he simply grinned to his Transfiguration teacher. Unlike his friends, Gohan knew that inside McGonagall was actually nice… somewhere inside… deep inside. They made their way through the sea of students, finally halting in front of her.
“There’s no need to look so worried,” She told Harry and Hermione, “I just want a word in my office.” She then turned, giving her pointed stare to Gohan. “You, however, I do not need Mr. Son.”
Gohan blinked, “Then why did you—”
“Because,” Professor McGonagall interrupted briskly, “the Headmaster has requested that you come by his office before the Welcoming Feast begins. You have twenty minutes. I assume you remember where it is?”
Gohan grinned, “I might remember how as I get closer. Thanks Professor.”
And with that, he nodded to her and his friends enthusiastically. He then jogged down the hallway to Professor Dumbledore’s office; his tail uncoiled itself from his waist, swaying happily as it was free to move.
Once a good distance away, he kicked it up a notch and phased to Dumbledore’s tower. Shortly he arrived just outside Dumbledore’s office, the usual stone gargoyle posted outside, guarding the entrance.
“Password?” The Gargoyle said hoarsely.
“I’m here to see Professor Dumbledore.” Gohan replied. “He said he wanted to see me.”
The gargoyle cackled, “Oh well, in that case… password please.”
“So this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object,” Gohan muttered under his breath. “Look, either let me in, or one of two things will happen. I read your mind for the password and I go in (It’s alive, so therefore the password’s programmed into it in my opinion), or I rip you from the wall and walk in. Either way, I’ll be going in.”
“……” The Gargoyle huffed, sliding to the side. Dumbledore’s office came into view.
“I hate gargoyles,” Gohan muttered heatedly, walking past the statue into the hidden office.
It hadn’t changed at all since the last time Gohan was in it; however brief a period it was. The portrait, the furniture, all of it was still there. Even the weirdly intricate silver and gold objects Dumbledore had on his desk were still scattered about it. Actually, what did those things even do? Even Dumbledore probably doesn’t know what half the stuff he has actually does.
“I see you managed to get in without my assistance,” an elderly voice spoke amusingly.
Gohan turned his head, not surprised to hear him. Dumbledore strode down his spiraled staircase, his half-moon glasses shining in the light. The man always did seem to possess the same aura his dad had, that ‘quiet before the storm’ façade.
“I suggest you replace that statue,” Gohan answered austerely. “It’s likely to cause you problems in the future.”
“Ah, perhaps, but why redecorate when everything still looks pleasant?” Dumbledore cheerfully responded. He made his way top his desk, sitting before it. He gestured to a nearby chair, “Care to sit down?”
Gohan wordlessly sat, looking around the room curiously for a moment.
“Where’s Fawkes?” Gohan asked, noting his cage was empty.
“About,” Dumbledore told him. “He seemed restless, so I let him wander the Tower.”
“Ah… tell him I say hi,” Gohan told Dumbledore contentedly.
“Oh I’m sure Fawkes will be delighted to hear it,” Dumbledore merrily responded. “However, I must get to why I asked to see you. How is everything at home for you?”
“Do you mean the wards you placed everywhere I go,” Gohan retorted, “or how I’m dealing with my exposure?”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled humorously, “Actually, I was referring to your schoolwork, but if you like we can touch on those subjects as well.”
Gohan sighed, “Well, all in all, it’s alright. Kind of scary since Cell could be anywhere waiting to kill me, but you and Piccolo seem confident he won’t try for some time. Schoolwork’s well… easy. Having my mom as a tutor all my life kind of prepared me for a tough education at an early age, so it isn’t bad.”
“And your exposure?” Dumbledore questioned lightly.
“Actually, not that bad,” Gohan admitted. “I was kind of weaned into the spotlight since I came here, so it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. It didn’t even last as long as I thought. Only problem is, everyone I know wasn’t ready for it (from wizards) on a world-wide scale. All of that made everything kind of unload on me. I’m sure you heard about Vegeta and some Daily Prophet reporter.”
Dumbledore laughed, “Ah yes, of course! Rita Skeeter. Such an interestingly scathing woman; I’ve had the discontentment of crossing paths with her myself you know. Baba informed me she had tried reaching all of your friends; I am sincerely sympathetic.”
Gohan shook his head, “I never actually met her, but Bulma had a lot to say.”
“I’m quite sure. And how was the Hogwarts Express?” Dumbledore continued nonchalantly.
“…It was alright,” Gohan evenly replied. He grinned, “The trolley had some good candy. Not like trains I know of, but it was enjoyable for the most part.”
“For the most part?” Dumbledore inquired.
“… Why were those things here?” Gohan asked, eyes narrowing a millimeter.
“The dementors?” Dumbledore lost the twinkle in his eyes. “You know, I assume, about Sirius Black, correct?” Gohan nodded in reply. “And you also know about him and Harry?” Gohan repeated the previous motion. “The Ministry is concerned Sirius Black will attempt to break into Hogwarts for Harry. Minister Fudge has ordered some of the guards of Azkaban to lookout for Black; should he appear, they are to capture and deal with him accordingly.”
“Do you think… do you think they’ll find him?” Gohan asked hesitantly.
“Bah, who knows?” Dumbledore waved the question off. “The dementors have never lost a prey; then again, they have never had one escape from their midst either.”
“Prey?” Gohan repeated, disturbed at the Headmaster’s word choice. “You make them sound like they’re monsters.”
“They are,” Dumbledore callously replied. “Dementors are likely the coldest, gratuitous, and malicious creatures that walk this Earth. They inhabit the darkest corners of the filthiest places. They thrive on the happiness and good feelings people emit from them, leaving people with their worst memories and experiences. I assume you know of what I speak of?”
Gohan nodded, shocked at his Headmaster’s response. He’d heard of course that Professor Dumbledore’s power was something to fear, and that when the need came he was rather intimidating. But this was the wizard who probably had more of a sweet tooth and happy-go-lucky personality than his father; who’d have thought Dumbledore could switch his behavior on and off like that?
“But, on the subject of the dementors,” Dumbledore continued, “how are you feeling? I heard one of them entered your compartment.”
“How did you—”
“I have my sources,” He replied cryptically.
“… Well… I’m fine now,” Gohan said thoughtfully. His brow furrowed as he tried to describe what happened. “When it came in, I turned Super Saiyan to scare it off. But, it seemed to force me out of it. And then…”
“Yes?” Dumbledore inquired, looking at the boy acutely.
“… I remembered when my friends and I fought Nappa and Vegeta,” Gohan finished lamely. His skin was pale and his eyes wide, memories flooding him again.
“But,” Gohan added feverishly, “it was so much more than that. It was like I was there, watching everything from where I was at the time. I saw… a lot of my friends had—”
“No need to explain Gohan,” Dumbledore interrupted. His voice was soothing and gentle, calming Gohan before he became hysterical. Gohan gave him a thankful smile; his eyes wandered the room anxiously.
“… So… you um, wanted to see me Professor?” Gohan motioned to a clock behind Dumbledore’s desk. “You’re cutting it a little close to the Sorting.”
“Quite right,” Dumbledore agreed, “so on to the point. Piccolo wanted me to inform you of a few things when you got here. He wanted to make sure you were ready for this year, after everything that’s happened.”
Gohan frowned, “Why couldn’t Piccolo tell me any of this before I left?”
It wasn’t that he was angry, quite the opposite; Gohan couldn’t think of any reason why he’d be mad at Piccolo. He just didn’t understand why Piccolo wouldn’t tell him anything himself.
“Piccolo wanted to,” Dumbledore told the boy, “but I insisted that once you arrived here you would understand more than had he told you earlier. Now, onto the first order of business; you cannot use Instant Transmission on Hogwarts’ grounds.”
“What?!” Gohan cried out. “Why not?”
“Cell,” Dumbledore gravely responded. “He’s changed things. As you yourself have stated, Cell can use Instant Transmission like your father. Therefore, Hogwarts would be vulnerable to him if he chose to show himself and attack. Because of this we, myself and Piccolo and Dende, have placed various protective charms and spells over the area. It is now impossible to travel or appear using Instant Transmission anywhere on the grounds.”
“… Good point.” Gohan sighed, “Anything else.”
“Two more,” Dumbledore said. “Now, ever since I learned you were secretly training last year, I wanted you to continue it only during the day. Although you are powerful, you are still a student here under my watch, and I needed to make sure you would be safe after hours. However, Piccolo insisted that you would need to train now that certain events have transpired; that and you would need time in the day to complete schoolwork (which of course I understand). So, we decided on a compromise.”
Gohan raised an eyebrow, “Piccolo compromised?”
“In retrospect, it was more of my agreement to his terms, but we agreed to two things. You may train in the evening, but only until eleven. Also… this concurrence is only official to you, me, and Piccolo. If you are caught sneaking in by anyone else, I must punish you accordingly.”
Gohan grinned, “I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”
“And finally,” Dumbledore continued, “about the dementors. You see, when the decision of dementors being placed around Hogwarts was made, I contacted Piccolo to inform him. I wanted to see if he could locate Black for us so I may rid the school of these fiendish ghouls.”
“But he couldn’t,” Gohan replied warily, remembering the conversation with Mr. Weasley. “He tried, but him and Dende said he was shielding himself from them.”
“Correct,” Dumbledore said. “But when I mentioned the dementors, Piccolo frowned. It seems that he’s studied up on the magical community since you arrived last year, much to my enjoyment.”
“What did he say?” Gohan asked curiously.
“He was afraid of what effect they might have on you Gohan,” Dumbledore told him.
“But doesn’t everyone have the same—”
“Gohan, you are not thinking realistically,” Dumbledore interrupted. “You have been trained to control your mind and emotions from attack, which would normally allow you to deal with dementors easier than others. However because they feed on happiness and leave painful memories, you should also be much more susceptible to them too. And then there’s your experience on the train…”
“What about it?” Gohan questioned defensively, uncomfortable where this was going.
“Have you ever been forced out of Super Saiyan by an external strength?”
Gohan’s eyes widened, and he furrowed his brow thoughtfully. No, I haven’t!
“You see my point,” Dumbledore stated observantly. “Dementors feed on happiness because it is a form of food, or energy, for them that they enjoy. Gohan, after you returned to normal you felt particularly cold, while before you were perfectly fine.”
“So they, what, they can feed on my Super Saiyan energy?”
“Possibly,” Dumbledore responded, “anything is possible. It is possible your unique and abnormally abundant ki can serve as another source of food for them. It is also possible that they fed on the high emotions you use to transform into a Super Saiyan, thereby relieving you of it until their affects wear off. There are a number of theories and reasons, but all of them could be the most accurate reason.”
“What… what do you think I should do?” Gohan requested politely. The fact these things could seriously hurt him didn’t frighten Gohan, but it made him edgy and guarded.
“The best advice anyone could give is to quite simply avoid them,” Dumbledore informed the saiyan. “You may be able to handle one or of them now that you are aware of their capabilities, but they do not usually go anywhere alone unless told to. That is why I strongly advise you to not train at night so much; they may somehow find their way towards you.”
“But,” Dumbledore rose from his seat, “let us not dwell on this any longer. We need to head down for the Sorting, or we’ll be late!”
He began ushering Gohan from his seat two, as they both strode down to the Great Hall.
“Woo-hoo,” Gohan muttered, grinning from ear to ear; finally, the feast!