Down a corridor with an ugly gargoyle, the two small figures of two house-elves can be seen, Toppy and Habbey. Habbey clears his throat and squeakily said, "Honey Toffee." To their relief and dread, the wall split in two to reveal a spiral moving staircase. The two tiny elves hopped on as the wall thudded shut behind them. They rose higher and higher in circles as the two elves did their best to not become dizzy nor puke. Finally, a gleaming oak door appeared with a brass knocker in the shape of a griffin.
With Habbey in the lead, they both stepped off as Habbey softly knocked on the door thrice. "Oh, do come in," Dumbledore said from within. The two house-elves cautiously enter to find Dumbledore hunched over parchment writing some sort of letter. They remain quietly still as they wait for Dumbledore to finish. While they wait, they peak around the room.
It was a large, circular room full of funny little noises. A number of curious silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, whirring and emitting little puffs of smoke. The walls were covered with portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses, all of whom were snoozing gently in their frames at the late hour. There was also an enormous, claw-footed desk, and, sitting on a shelf behind it, a shabby, tattered wizard's hat the Sorting Hat.
Standing on a gold perch is a rather handsome bird with wonderful red and gold plumage, Fawkes, the phoenix. Fawkes calmly observes them with gleaming inquisitive eyes. Phoenixes, after all, were not highly intelligent magical creatures, but quite loyal too. Habbey and Toppy took a step back as Toppy cleverly remained hidden behind Habbey the entire time.
After some time, Dumbledore finally finishes as he rolls up the letter that had been written. "My sincerest apologies," Dumbledore said as his childlike blue eyes twinkled from behind his half-moon spectacles. "I sometimes forget myself. Now, what can I do the two of you this late evening? Is all well in the kitchens?"
The two tiny elves glance at each other until Toppy pushes Habbey forward. Habbey drily swallows as he squeakily says, "Headmaster Dumbledore," Habbey paused as he clenched his tea-time toga. "We would like to better our service and as such we are requesting the payment of two silver sickles per month and one day off per month for each elf. However, we will ensure that the kitchen is always staffed and have days off in scheduled shifts."
"Oh?" Dumbledore said with curious eyes as he leaned back in his seat. "And just what will your days off be for?"
Habbey's ears slightly wilt, but Toppy steps out from behind him to loudly says, "To better our service, Professor! It has been centuries since we have got out into the world and much has changed. Not only food but even presentation. We are even told those muggle butlers, not only properly train, but they are the pinnacle of servitude! We cannot tolerate such words, but it's our own fault, we have lost our spirit to serve. We must regain that spirit and improve! We cannot be left behind!"
Dumbledore's twinkle with delight and some other emotion as he says, "Then the both of your requests are granted. I expect you to all work as before and to keep the kitchens properly maintained as usual."
"Yes, Professor!" The two elves chorused in delight and shock.
"But may I inquire, why the change all of a sudden?" Dumbledore pointedly inquired.
Toppy and Habbey glance at each other unwilling to betray their benefactor. Finally, after a minute, Habbey says, "It has come to our attention that we need some variety in our recipes. Apparently, though our cuisine is the best of the best, that is not mean that there are do not exist other cuisines that can rival ours."
"Well, in that case, please do allow me to taste some of these delicious recipes," Dumbledore truthfully said. "Especially the sweets."
"We have a tres leches cake that we are planning to serve tomorrow for dinner," Toppy interjected. "We shall ensure an entire cake is properly delivered, Professor!"
Dumbledore purses his lips as he clumsily says, "Trez-le-chis?"
"Yes, it is a very delicious cake," the two elves chimed in firm belief despite never having prepared the said item before.
"Then I look forward to it," Dumbledore said with a chuckle.
"Thank you, Professor!" The two tiny elves chimed as they bowed forward, before quickly departing from which they came.
Dumbledore watches the two tiny figures depart as he muses out loud, "I wonder which student snuck off into the kitchens? What do you think, Fawkes?" Fawkes lets out a chirp as if saying, "What do I care as long as you share?"
And as if understanding Fawkes, Dumbledore replied, "Excellent point. But still, I do look forward to the new array of treats." Fawkes cries out in agreement as Dumbledore returns to reading the letters on his desk. In the corner of his desk is a carefully kept copy of the Daily Prophet from a few weeks earlier with the title, "Azkaban wizard found innocent! Innocence proved by Abraxas Malfoy!"
Perhaps, Dumbledore kept it out of curiosity, but truth be told it was all because of the name of a former student, Tom Riddle.
Dumbledore eyes crinkle fondly behind his spectacles as he reads a letter from Dedalus Diggle, a former student, now in his early twenties. Quite the excitable little man always wearing a purple hat. Reading the letter, Dumbledore quietly chuckles, before putting the letter aside and reading a more somber letter from Alastor Moody that had already been read several times before.
"To Headmaster Dumbledore,
I was assigned to track down a former student, Tom Marvolo Riddle. I'm sure you've seen and read a copy of the Daily Prophet. If not, I have enclosed a copy just in case. I am currently in the process of trying to gather information on him. I am wondering if you happen to know of any friends or acquaintances, he still might be close too or places he might seek refuge in.
I have been seeking information on him and I've found that he was missing for ten years until some years ago he popped up again. I've heard that not long after that he requested a teaching position at Hogwarts. Might I ask, why you denied his post? I understand that you must have seen something the rest did not see as all that all I've asked that knew him are horrified and can only say with pity say, he was such a nice young man.
Really, you would think he was quite suave from their descriptions. What utter rubbish! As if a monster cannot learn to hide its true colors under a cover of good. But do pray and tell, Dumbledore, why did you not fully trust the boy? What did you see?
Please reply as quickly as you can, Dumbledore. I fear dark things are stirring and the order that you once spoke about might be what is needed. I know you believe me paranoid, Dumbledore, but trust me, when I say this, that boy is not only a Dark Wizard but a danger to the wizarding world itself! You may not believe me know, but I know and fear that time will prove my words true.
Dumbledore carefully puts the letter as he clasps his fingers together in deep thought. Tom Marvolo Riddle, just what have you become? And despite the lateness of the hour, Dumbledore remains in the silent candlelit flickering light long into the night.