The Lies You Tell Yourself by Shanastay
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Disclaimer: (In the spirit of Crimson Starlight)

Shana: *rubbing black and blue mark on lower back*

Snape: *prods* Enough rest. Get back to work.

Shana: Oh come on! That\'s 2 chapters in 3 hours!

Snape: *sneers* NOW!

Shana: *throws hands up in air* Alright! Alright!

Dobby: *sticks head around corner* Mistress Shanastay owns only her characters, nothing else. Dobby go now.

Chapter 2: Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Shaluinn entered the ancient edifice and could literally feel the weight of its history bearing down upon her. She shrugged off the strange sensation and looked about her, searching for a warm body that could direct her to the Headmaster\'s office. The woman jumped back several paces as a short wrinkled figure appeared before her clad in socks of various garish shades.

It had what appeared to be toe socks on each arm and a toga of sorts made from a number of clashing materials. Having not seen one in some twenty years it took the woman several beats to realize she was staring at a House Elf just as it stared back. It chose that moment to speak.

\"Dobby is not recognizing you, Miss. Miss looks like Professor Snape but your hair is on fire.\"

The elf took a step back as the woman\'s brows knitted together, her lips twisting into a frown.

Professor Snape? Shaluinn rifled through her conversations with Dumbledore. Snape. The Potions Master and current DADA instructor. The woman took a moment to consider the Headmaster\'s description of the Professor versus her current attire. I guess I would remind someone of him, dressed head to toe in black as I am.

Realizing she was scowling, the woman quickly smoothed her features and asked, \"Dobby, is that your name?\"

\"Yes Miss. Me is Dobby.\"

Shaluinn bent at the knees to drop her bags to the floor and stood up straight. She brought her hands together, palms flat, fingertips beneath her chin and bent from the waist until she was almost at eye level with the elf. \"I am pleased to make your acquaintance Dobby. I am Shaluinn Callaway.\"

The elf seemed taken aback at the redhead\'s strange manner of greeting and rushed forward, stopping just short of touching her. \"Do not bow to Dobby, Miss.\"

The woman straightened up and smiled gently at the earnest elf. \"I\'m sorry Dobby. I\'ve spent many years in Japan and bowing is a traditional manner of greeting. I didn\'t mean to upset you.\"

Obviously relieved that she\'d righted herself Dobby stepped back. \"Do not apologize to Dobby, Miss.\"

Shaluinn pushed her Ray-Bans up on her head before bending to retrieve her bags and asked, \"Dobby, could you direct me to the Headmaster\'s office? I\'m expected.\"

\"Headmistress McGongall? Dobby show you, Miss!\" All excited the elf turned and headed into the castle, trailed by the again frowning woman.

Headmistress McGongall? I thought she was the Transfigurations Professor? Deciding her questions could wait, she sped up to keep pace with the quick little elf.

The redhead soon found herself standing before a stone gargoyle as Dobby murmured something she could not hear and the state jumped aside to reveal what looked like an escalator. The diminutive figure stepped aside and motioned for the woman to proceed.

\"Headmistress\' office up here, Miss.\"

She flashed the elf a smile as she stepped onto the spiraling staircase. \"Thank you Dobby,\" she called back as she rose out of sight.

Tightly controlled confusion whirled through Shaluinn\'s mind as she stood before the door that she assumed led into the Headmaster\'s, Headmistress\' she corrected herself, office. The redhead took a deep breath before bringing her right hand up to rap solidly on the door.

\"Come in,\" a distinctly female voice with a light Scottish accent and a hint of impatience called.

Now or never and never isn\'t an option. Shaluinn opened the door and stepped through to the fate she had put off years ago.

A thin woman wearing a pointed hat looked up from the scroll she had laid out over her desk, taking in the strange appearance of the redhead entering her office. \"Can I help you?\"

Shaluinn dropped her bags for the second time and bent in the traditional Asian greeting. \"Mistress McGongall, I am Shaluinn…\"

\"Miss Callaway!\" a familiar voice called from behind the Headmistress.

Carefully controlling her expression, Shaluinn raised her down-turned eyes to the portrait hanging behind the Transfigurations Mistress. \"Master Dumbledore?\" She could not keep the question out of her voice.

\"Albus?\" the Headmistress questioned, turning from the woman before her to look at the former Headmaster\'s painting, \"What is going on?\"

\"Bastard!\" Shaluinn muttered under her breath as she realized the ramifications of that portrait\'s existence and dropped her gaze again, still bent at the waist.

Eyes widening at the sound of the explicative, the Headmistress practically shouted, \"What is going on here? Someone had better start explaining right now!\"

\"Now, now, Minerva,\" Dumbledore\'s painting admonished. \"No need to get all riled up.\" Looking past the Headmistress he spoke to the other occupant of the room. \"Do stand up young lady. There is no reason to prostrate yourself before either of us.\"

Shaluinn silently gritted her teeth, reminding herself that Asian mannerisms were very seldom understood by Western cultures. When in Rome… The woman did as she was bade, rising to her full height and interlacing her fingers in front of her, eyes looking past McGongall to the talking painting. \"So it is done.\"

Minerva\'s eyes narrowed again, suspicion clouding her face. \"What, exactly, is done?\" she asked, her question directed at the redhead.

The black-clad woman stood unmoving before the elder woman\'s direct stare, her eyes locked on the twinkling blue gaze of Hogwart\'s last Headmaster. She did not, could not, answer the question.

\"Minerva?\"

The Headmistress whirled on the portrait of her predecessor.

\"Could you please give us a few minutes? And take the others with you?\" he asked, motioning toward the other portraits who had been listening in rapt attention.

\"Oh for heaven\'s sake, Albus!\"

\"Please, Minerva. I\'m only asking for twenty minutes,\" the former Headmaster calmly requested.

Annoyance evident in her every movement, the elder woman looked from the statue-still redhead to the utterly serious wizard and back before throwing her hands up in defeat and standing. Addressing the paintings of the former Headmasters and mistresses of the famed wizarding school she spoke carefully, \"Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please…?\"

Various grumbling voices rose in the chamber as one by one the frames emptied of their occupants until only Shaluinn, Dumbledore and McGongall remained.

Standing and striding past the redhead to the entrance of her office Minerva turned back and raised her finger to point at Albus. \"We will have a chat about this later…\" she warned before making her own exit.

Alone before the former Headmaster Shaluinn\'s demeanor remained every bit as impassive as before. A million questions swirled through her mind, not that one could tell from her outward appearance.

\"Miss Callaway, Shaluinn,\" Dumbledore began and stopped, a bone-weary sigh escaping his painted lips.

The redhead decided to break the silence. \"So the bastard actually did it, rather than dropping dead.\"

TBC…