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Harry Potter Fanfic: The Path of Indifference #7

Chapter 7: Year Two Begins

Note: Yeah, I didn’t expect another update this fast either. But we may as well start Year Two of Hogwarts off with a bang.


August 31st – Diagon Alley

Harry felt annoyed, without a doubt, and missed the days when his parents ignored him for his brother. Truly he did. At least then he had the freedom to act as he pleased and go where he wanted.

It had been a few days after he got back from camp now. Upon getting back he bluntly stated that no progress had been made in changing his attitude and then stayed in his room. He thought about just pretending the camp had an effect, but quite frankly they weren’t worth the effort and the only good thing about it was that he had been weaned off the Sleeping Drafts since he was so focused on Gayle’s request that sleep came easy and abruptly.

Now he found himself being led down the cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley with not only his family, but the Weasleys as well since the letters from Hogwarts had come in. That meant that he had to go with them and look for a chance to sneak away, to at least contact Sherry and get his important stuff, before he had to go back to that school again for nine months.

He thought he had a chance as they passed through the north side, where the group split for a moment. Molly took Ginny to get fitted for her Hogwarts robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, which he noted had recently sold out of an invisibility cloak that the twins mentioned wanting before the Floo over. After that they would get going to get her wand at Ollivanders.

The Weasley Twins, no longer able to get the cloak with their cut from the Howler Busters and other sales, departed to the south side to visit Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop with Arthur going after them. He had to ensure that they didn’t get anything they shouldn’t have according to the separate list Hogwarts sent to the Burrow for them exclusively. A bit futile, but he would try.

Percy and Ron went to get an owl from Eeylops Owl Emporium for the family kids to share, now that all those in the household would be attending the school. Errol was getting along in years and kept running into things and falling unconscious. It couldn’t have had too many years left.

When James offered to let Harry and Gene pick out a broom stick, as they were now in their second year, Harry had declined getting his own broom. He had no use for it as he had no intentions of trying out for Quidditch, while Gene took up the offer. That left Harry with his early-thirties mother, with hair as red as any of the Weasleys, Lily Potter.

She followed him as he picked out potion ingredients and a few unbreakable jars at the Apothecary owned by the Pocklington family. While there he searched for the catalysts and reagents that he needed for a few choice potions that he wanted to keep in stock, in case he was hit from behind by a curse or hex again. He also wanted to try and improve the Howler Busters, but they didn’t have the more volatile things that he needed there.

She watched as he picked up some seeds from one of the many vendors, silently wondering what he intended to do with them. Before he had to rid himself of Quirrell’s copy of Spectral Beings and Spells he noted that ghosts liked Lily flowers and Myrtle did comfort him in his darkest hour. Plus growing the rare plants he needed would cut costs.

She inquired about why he was getting a terrarium container, normally used for serpents and reptiles when he entered into Magical Menagerie, only for him to reply it was for school and he didn’t want a pet from there as the school rules wouldn’t allow him to have anything but a toad, owl, or cat. A pet bat, barring a Mortis Bat, was still on the table as an option to him, but cleaning up after anything that pooped, as well as the costs of food, would rankle his nerves over time.

However, despite simply observing him so far, she did put her foot down when he tried to go into Knockturn Alley. It didn’t matter how cheap Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary sold Potion Kit bags and the more dangerous things he wanted. Granted, a lot of shady things happened there, but it was one of the few places creatures other than humans, such as Hags and Goblins, could shop with less discrimination.

Instead she dragged him to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to give the others time to finish their tasks before they met up. As she waited for the sundaes she ordered for them both, she tried to start a dialogue. “So Harry, are you excited about your second year?”

“Does the answer to that really matter?” he replied apathetically. “I’m going either way. The only good thing is that you’ll give me back my wand.”

They hadn’t returned it once he got out of camp. Flight risk and all, which he was since if he had it there would have been a Bedazzling Hex over him the moment he had the chance and he would have vanished. The spare wand was put away, not his first choice in trying the complex hex and the risk of them finding it simply too great if he used it. Once he had his pouch back from Sherry he could store it safely and call upon it when needed.

“It’ll be better this year,” she assured him, her tone placid and her expression soft. “Things will be different. They always are after the first year.”

“Murderer, remember?” he said indignantly.

Lily’s expression grew a bit grim at that, but she persisted. “Those silly rumors will pass. Surely there must’ve been some other kids who knew you wouldn’t do such a thing.”

“The only people I thought I knew were on my side abandoned me the moment it got out and my stuff was vandalized,” he said through gritted teeth. “Besides the teachers, only Hagrid and Myrtle showed me any respect all year…”

He trailed off as he spotted a familiar face walking down the white marble flight of steps from Gringotts that met with the cobbled road, bushy brown hair bobbing as she talked to two adults next to her. As she stepped onto the hard road her gaze spanned the alley until she met his and pointed him out to the accompanying adults as they made their way over.

“We have company,” Harry told Lily, nodding his head in their direction as Hermione approached. “Hello Hermione, Mister and Missus Granger too, I presume.”

“Hello Harry,” she said. “Is this your Mum?”

“Lily Potter,” he said plainly. “James and Gene went broom shopping but we’re meeting them soon enough, if that’s who you were looking for.”

Lily stood and greeted the young witch’s parents before she focused on her. “It’s nice to meet you, Hermione. I heard the boys mention you, but they never told me they were friends with such a flower. It must be tough being friends with them, since they aren’t exactly keen to how they should behave around cute girls yet.”

“We’re only acquaintances,” Harry corrected her.

The young witch seemed a bit hurt at that, proving that Lily had been spot on when she said he didn’t know how to interact with the opposite gender.

Lily reprimanded him. “Harry, that’s not nice!”

“I wasn’t trying to be rude, just factual,” he exclaimed as he raised his hands to placate them all. “Our classes don’t mesh and we don’t have the same common houses, so we rarely interact enough to be considered close enough to be friends. It’s one of the flaws in the house system and house points, they basically separate everyone and foster tribalism.”

“Hmm, I suppose so,” Hermione admitted. The explanation somewhat eased her. “Outside of Ron and Gene, I sort of stand out with the others. It may have been better if I were in your house.”

He shrugged. “Well, considering that you earn house points with just about every professor for knowing everything, and get grades high enough to have people in my house wondering why you aren’t one of ours, I heard a rumor once that Professor Flitwick wanted to swap a student for you. Of course, since the source said that Professor McGonagall duelled him in an epic match over the right, I would say it was unreliable…still, don’t be surprised if an offer gets made.”

She smiled at that, appeasing the rest of the adults in the process at the change in her mood. Seeing that Harry was actually getting along and probably wouldn’t run off, Lily excused herself to go powder her nose at that moment. That left Harry with the inquisitive witch and her equally curious parents.

“What exactly is the difference in the houses?” Mrs. Granger asked. “Hermione stated that there were four of them, but since she hadn’t been in any besides…Gryffindor, was it?”

The bushy-haired witch nodded. “That’s mine.”

“Right, because she hadn’t been in any but that one she didn’t comment on them,” her mother finished.

Harry rubbed his chin in thought before facing the young witch. “Hermione, I know you must’ve thoroughly gone through Hogwarts: A History a couple of dozen times now—”

“Only three times!” she said defensively.

“—given that whenever we had classes you seemed to have gone through material like a five-year old goes through candy, so you should probably know what each house is known for, correct?”

She nodded and began running them off. “The Sorting Hat takes your qualities and assigns you to a house based on them. Gryffindor is known as the house of the Courageous, Daring, and Brave, with the symbol of the Lion, colors of Scarlet and Gold, and the element of Fire.

“Hufflepuff upholds Hard Work, Patience, Loyalty, and Fair Play rather than any aptitude. Their colors are Yellow and Black, with the symbol of the Badger, and the element of Earth.”

“Ravenclaw prizes Wit, Knowledge, and Individuality. Their colors are Blue and Bronze, while their symbol is an Eagle, and their element is Air.”

“And Slytherin”—she said this with some distaste that they all noticed—”values Ambition, Cunning, and Resourcefulness. Their colors are Emerald Green and Silver, while their symbol is that of a Serpent, and their element is Water.”

Harry nodded. “That sounds about right…but tell me Mister and Missus Granger. Doesn’t she sound like she fits all the categories?”

The parents who knew her best agreed. She was ambitious when it came to magic, her knowledge and wit sharp as nails, she was loyal and hard working, and going to a new world without them or knowing anything beforehand was nothing short of brave. “They all fit her perfectly.”

Harry clapped his hands once at that. “Hence the problem with the method of sorting. The rivalries and tribalism born from the division isolates them into one of the houses and they are categorized by it. You noticed how she said Slytherin with disdain? That’s because Gryffindor and Slytherin dislike one another on principle now, contrast to when the houses first came to be.”

He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt as he continued his tirade. “The time of the founders has long since passed and their teachings have deteriorated with the passage of time, for better or worse. Gryffindor are courage without brains and the jocks of the school. If you’re a Slytherin then you’re labeled evil from the start and no one will trust you because of your house, leaving you no choice but to do what is expected. Ravenclaws are nerds who boast of their intelligence above all other houses. Hufflepuffs are considered the leftovers that weren’t smart enough, cunning enough, or brave enough to get into the other houses.

“They all go to the same classes anyway so what is the point of the divisions anyway, other than opposing school unity? It doesn’t help that the only times students can mingle outside their own clique is in the Great Hall, which are still divided by tables, and the classes, which are hardly opportune times for such a thing. Students normally don’t even know where the other houses’ common rooms are or what they look like.

“I’ve heard there hasn’t been an non-Hufflepuff in their basement for over a thousand years and I bet no one outside of Ravenclaw knows about the small library of books not found anywhere else in school, since there is a tradition for graduates to contribute something from their careers and many have excelled in subjects—”

“Really?” asked the bushy-haired witch, an obvious interest sparked at gleaming exclusive knowledge.

Harry continued as he put back on his glasses, too deep into his tirade to notice. “—and I mean what’s the point in calling each house’s common room by that name when only certain students can visit based on their houses—it’s an exclusive room that requires a secret method of entry. On top of that Ravenclaw’s only requires a riddle which anyone reasonably intelligent enough can solve, like ‘Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?'”

There is no beginning since one doesn’t exist without the other, like ‘The Chicken or the Egg’! Hermione mused in her head, her inner voice carrying an excited undertone at the prospect of gaining entrance to their personal library. “How do you get to Ravenclaw’s entrance?”

“Oh it’s in the—” there was an audible clasp as he closed his mouth when his mind caught up with his mouth. “Nice try, but you’re going to have to give me Gryffindor’s first.”

She actually mulled over the decision, a struggle between giving up the house she had made friends with for the sake of knowledge, selling them out. Harry took that as a cue to finish up since the struggle looked as though it would take awhile, but he doubted she’d sell out her friends in the end.

“Anyway, in Ravenclaw, there is no individuality in that house for the most part because of their obsession to prove their knowledge; to the extent they sabotage one another. I, at the age of twelve now mind you, typically can’t trust my own dormmates not to blindside me or help me when needed. Either they’re sheep or they actively horde knowledge or sabotage each other. If you don’t fall in line you get left with no one to rely but yourself in isolation.”

He took a deep breath as he finished. “Trust me, if you think Halloween was bad, it’ll look like Christmas compared to being in Ravenclaw and that—”

Hermione shook her head, subtly nodding to her parents. It wasn’t subtle enough and they became curious and asked what happened on Halloween.

Harry mouthed the word “Troll”, to which she tensed, and realized she wanted it to stay quiet out of concern for her parents. Still, they were expecting an answer so he gave one. “Because she is one of the smartest people in her year it tends to invoke jealousy, even in her own house, when she grasps material above that of those who are born in this world. One of her own housemates made a comment about her being a know-it-all and lacking friends, so it left her crying in the bathroom with one of my housemates until Gene and Ron attempted to cheer her up.”

Ignoring the fact that Ron was the problem in the first place, he kept to himself.

“Hermione, why didn’t you tell us you had a bullying problem,” asked her father.

“Because it wasn’t different from when I went to elementary school,” she argued, her head down as her hand subconsciously came to her teeth. “The difference here is I have friends and I’m not the weirdest one.”

“Mister and Missus Granger,” Harry started as he sat ramrod straight, “no matter what side of the world you are on there is one thing that is true. In the words of a mentor I once and still admire, ‘Kids are cruel’ and being different in any way will lead to the same thing, appearance or intelligence-wise.

“Tribalism because of the house division tradition is no different than people with different religions, social statuses, or races,” he said with conviction. “If it isn’t one then it’s another, and no matter where you go it won’t change. Only time and the maturity that comes with it can improve things hopefully.”

“You appear to have that maturity,” Mrs. Granger stated, not unkindly. “Most children can’t argue something based on history and social circumstances on a wider-scale. Let alone point out the fallacies of a system they’ve only been in for a year.”

“No, that’s because I brought myself up to a eighth-grade level in Social Studies and Chemistry this summer, as well as a grade lower in most non-magical subjects…minus math and history,” he explained. “In other circumstances I’m quite immature.”

“So that’s what you did all summer?” Hermione asked. “I thought you would have done research into more magical subjects, given you knew spells above your grade.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t have access to my wand, barring homework, so it was time better spent towards getting an educational equivalent of a high school degree. For you, who grew up on that side of the world, the magical world hasn’t lost its appeal. The reverse is the case for me.”

It was at this point Lily returned to her seat and asked what was going on.

“Your son is quite insightful,” Hermione told her. “We were having a passionate discussion why I was better off as a Gryffindor than a Ravenclaw, but also why the house separations have caused more harm than good.”

Lily’s expression turned from impassive to somewhat doleful, a small cloud of somberness darkening her otherwise brilliant green eyes. “All of this while I was gone?”

“It wasn’t planned,” Harry insisted as Lily looked at the watch on her wrist. He had no reason to lie and he had no intention of going on a tirade before. It slipped out. “Really, it wasn’t.”

“Well, it’s nearing twelve-twenty,” she said before giving Hermione a genuine smile, “would like to join us in getting our books for the year? Gene and Ron should be there with the rest of the Weasley family. Along the way you can fill me in.”

The Granger family consented and so the five of them proceeded to Flourish and Blotts. There was a crowd of people jostling about the entrance, mostly witches beyond the age of twenty, clamoring to get inside and past the harassed wizard trying to rein them in so the regular customers weren’t disturbed. The reason became obvious as they looked to the sign above the entrance that announced a book signing at twelve-thirty.

“Gilderoy Lockhart?” Mr. Granger said, curious as to whom it was that could garner so much attention. To his surprise his daughter practically jumped up.

“That’s the name of the man who practically wrote the booklist this year,” Hermione said. “We have to get in line!”

She and Lily took their place in the line-up, the Granger parents looking on, while Harry decided to squeeze into the shop as a normal patron since, with Lily in a position she could see him trying to leave, there was no other place to go. As he did so it was hard to miss the collective of redheads that made up the Weasley family, along with James, who was leaning against a shelf and thumbing through the Daily Prophet, and Gene…who Harry noticed had in his hand a Nimbus 2001—a sleek model that had revolving stirrups and shaded black and gold, literally the fastest broom in the world that was released this month. It must’ve cost a pretty knut.

Ron, in the meanwhile, held in a small cage a scops owl that looked rather young and spry, fluttering around and eager to get out and spread its wings. Percy was there as well looking at a book called Prefects Who Gained Power, and the twins were on either side of their brother talking to one another. Ginny was next to her mother, standing in line, while Molly patted her hair so it was proper.

Once the clock hit half past the hour Gilderoy Lockhart came into view at the back of the shop, surrounded by pictures of himself, with even more being taken by a photographer as he flashed a smile of dazzling white teeth. After a few moments he announced he was going to take up the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts as well, earning a round of applause for such a position given the prestige of the school.

“So that’s why we have to buy those books,” Harry remarked as he neared the rest of the group, while the others gave each other a look that adequately expressed their disbelief in the man’s ability. They had all, at one point or another, read or glanced at a copy of the man’s older works.

Molly and Lily were fans and had tried to have their children read it. Harry was naturally studious and, while he did read it and find it entertaining to an extent, he could tell there were contradictions in his stories, which were glaringly we he compared the creatures the man has supposedly fought to the information in official text. The rest of them never made it through the text conscious.

“Now, I enjoy a good work of fiction,” Harry admitted, “and I’m not arguing that the man can’t write it like nobody’s business, but for they hold nothing of value in educational terms of the one class that not knowing something is guaranteed to kill us.”

Especially after last year,” Ron muttered.

Harry continued on without missing a beat. “And considering that, as the author, he’s getting some royalties from moving all these books…well, let’s just assume this is a money-making scheme and plan accordingly.”

Being in the habit of pranking for profit and pleasure meant the twins were savvy on the business end of things, what with their future intentions and all, and conscious of spending money. Therefore, if he was offering a solution they were all ears.

“And what might you suggest we do about that?” George asked.

Fred followed up. “Yes, do tell us.”

“We can play this one of two ways,” he offered to everyone listening. “The first is that Gene, Ron, Fred, George, Ginny, and Percy, all buy one book each. If we have a class we share the relevant one.”

Gene asked the obvious question. “Why aren’t you included in that count?”

“Because I thought of the plan,” he said, as though that was a reasonable excuse. When they vocally disagreed Harry held up his hands to pacify them. “Okay, Plan B then. We exploit Lockhart’s obvious need to be fame-hogging businessman.”

“How do we do that?” Ron asked.

Harry pointed to the twins. “Tell me, if you were a famous, egotistical author during a book-signing, and the Boy-Who-Lived showed up and said he heard about his works but didn’t have a copy of them all…”

The twins looked to each other and Fred spoke aloud the answer. “He’ll want to look good by giving it up for free, knowing that he’s going to get a bigger profit once it gets out and—”

“—if Gene agrees to promote them later on it would be even better,” George added.

Harry nodded. “Exactly, we make Gene a sellout by playing up his fame and using it to try and milk several books out of the man. If we uphold the later promotion during school we can milk another favor if something comes up.”

There was only one hitch in the plan. It was that Gene had a problem with it. “No way, Mum tried to make me read one of those books once and it put me to sleep. I’d rather take my chances with smuggling a dragon again.”

“Suck it up you pansy and take one for the team,” Harry said. “If you get one set alone it saves us the trouble.”

Gene put his foot down. “Now, I may occasionally play up my part for some benefits here and there, but even I’m not going to shill for him. You know how Mum gets about me doing stuff like that anyway.”

“She’s in the line,” Harry pointed out. “I’m pretty sure she won’t mind.”

“No,” Gene said, his tone indicating it was over. He turned his back on Harry, who promptly decided he didn’t care about what Gene wanted and applied the Boot-to-the-Backside technique, knocking him into the crowd enough to cause a commotion that drew James’ and Lockhart’s attention to him. Gene was pulled to the man’s side before he knew it, like he was taken by an eddy that sucked in fame and the adoration of women.

“That was a bit low, wasn’t it?” Ron stated, watching his best friend look incredibly uncomfortable.

“A shame I don’t really care as long as he gets those books,” Harry countered in a blithe manner. Then he heard snickering and saw Draco on the staircase leading to a higher floor. Given that he looked to the others as though he was about to cause trouble…Harry smiled. Hello big enough distraction to get out of here.

At this point he backed away as Draco approached and managed to sneak out successfully as a man who looked like an adult version of Draco watched from the floor above. The moment he heard the first insult he ran outside to tell his mother and Hermione, leading to them funneling into the building to prevent a fight with the boys. It wasn’t even five seconds later that he heard the commotion and put some distance between them.

Then he heard spellfire and knew things escalated to a greater extent. A store with Potters, Weasleys, and Malfoys was a powder keg waiting to be lit he supposed. He was sure that once things had settled down they would be looking for him, so at best he had time to run to send a post owl to Sherry’s place to tell her to send his pouch with his important stuff, such as the book Quirrell had willed him, to his house.


September 1st – King’s Cross Station

Harry adjusted his pouch that Albert returned last night before fixing his hand around the trolly holding his belongings, for when he got to Hogwarts. Inside it was the book Quirrell willed to him as well as Goyle’s potion book, which he had virtually copied everything useful from. He loved that it had a reference of other books he would find one way or another, to take in their contents.

When he was questioned on his disappearance he explained he forgot some reagents and ran back to the apothecary to get some, which he did after he sent out an owl. The fact that they noticed he also had the Potion Kit he wanted from Knockturn Alley did not please them, but there wasn’t much they could do about it since it was time to go to Hogwarts the next day. Victory was his.

His birthday gifts from Sherry, which he had missed as he was attending the camp, were a gift card to Barnes and Noble, as well as a gift certificate to Flourish and Blotts. Both were things he could’ve used ahead of time, but F & B had an owl-service while his B & N card would last until he came home next year…or he could just give it to Arthur Weasley and have him go and pick up whatever book he wanted and send via owl.

Speaking of gifts, he owed Hagrid for his ocarina in addition to the Weasleys and Sherry. Harry made a mental note to find out the Keeper of the Keys’ birthday and something he would like if it came sooner than Christmas. He took a moment to also note that, as Ginny passed through the solid barrier with Molly, the incident at F & B was apparently more serious than he thought since the Potter twins had to come along with the Weasleys and were running late.

Lily and James were absent, the Potter pair called to the Ministry over the incident at the bookshop. Considering James was an Auror and he failed to stop it, someone filed a complaint that needed to be sorted out and Lily was needed as well since she was there too. The Weasleys were fined with the complaint leveled as the sources of the disturbance, but they weren’t called in as well…which was strange in itself as the twins and Ron threw the hexes first, but then again they were all minors.

He couldn’t help, as Gene got ready to enter the barrier, but think it was still strange that charges like that were even leveled. Normally such childish incidents were only worthy of a complaint if severe permanent damage was inflicted, rather than a few reversible hexes…at least to most people. Harry paid credit to the ‘Eye for an Eye’ theory. But the Malfoy family was fairly hostile to both of the families and the feeling mutual, so the fact that one assaulted the other simply gave them a reason, even if in the defense of Hermione being insulted.

CRASH!

Harry’s attention snapped towards the barrier, where Gene and his trolley crashed against it. The impact drove the handle of the trolley into his gut and knocked his owl, Hedwig, onto the floor in its cage, causing it to indignantly sound off until he grabbed it while on the floor and struggling to catch his breath.

Harry looked towards the clock and noted they had at least a good two minutes left and the magical entrance shouldn’t have been sealed shut considering parents who saw their children off would be leaving the moment the train was out of sight. He then noted all of the stares around them and the approaching guard who asked what he was doing.

The Notice-Me-Not Charm failed as well, Harry mused as he cleared his throat to get the guard’s attention. Gene was in no position to defend himself without making things complicated for them both. “My apologies for him. You see my brother is supposed to wear his glasses like me, as we are twins, but because he lost them he was unable to see the pillar there and crashed into it while rushing to get to Platform Ten.”

Gene nodded at the statement, grabbing his stomach, until he noticed his wand sticking out of his trunk. He positioned himself to hide it.

The guard took a deep breath and then nodded. “Where are your parents?”

Since he couldn’t say their escorts were on the other side of the barrier, he had to say something more believable. “We lost them I’m afraid. And they had our tickets too.”

“Then you’ll have to come with me boys and we’ll call them over the announcement system,” he stated after a moment. “Minors shouldn’t be running around without supervision in the first place.”

“Thank you, sir,” Harry said as he helped his brother up, managing to make a saccharine smile as if was truly thankful. On the inside he was somewhat, since the matter could easily be sorted out as long as things didn’t get any more complicated…

It was then he noticed a House-Elf on the top of the nearest train with his peripheral vision, looking at the pair with apologetic eyes. It raised its hand, aiming towards the pair and causing their wands to rise up like a Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa) had been applied. Harry looked at his trunk on the trolley and noticed that at some point it had been opened, most likely when helping Gene up.

The guard looked gobsmacked, rubbing his eyes and tipping his hat. In his defense, he wasn’t the only one as they had an audience present and it wasn’t something they would see every day. Then the House-Elf snapped his fingers and the wands discharged blunt magical force, sending the man back as though he had been hit by a car and smack into the side of a train with enough force to dent it.

He didn’t move after that, but he was still alive. The screaming started about a second after their wands fell to their hands and started spewing Red Sparks (Vermillious) and Green Sparks (Verdimillious). The sparks themselves flew around and crashed into windows, burning the panes, light bulbs, shattering them, and overall being a distraction.

“Damn,” Harry ground out as he looked at his wand and then the train where the House-Elf was no longer to be found. Harry felt bad about the guard, who was just doing his job and seemed like a decent sort. He hoped the man could be helped but, since his wand wasn’t responding to his commands at the moment and he didn’t know any healing spells, there wasn’t anything he could do.

“Bollocks…” Gene muttered, shielding Hedwig from the stray sparks by setting the wand on the ground away from them and placing himself between it and her. He was quite distraught that the wand he owned, which normally sang when he wielded it, was now screaming.

“This won’t end well,” Harry said, with an expression that was at best apathetic. He managed the detachment like an art form after years of neglect and dealing with Gene’s fanboys in his younger years, where anger wouldn’t help. As he stood there, amongst the flittering and fleeting red and green sparks with his brother, he was mostly discontent about the fact that no one would believe him when he said it was a House-Elf that was the cause of this, except for maybe Gene—because they were both screwed.

Gene numbly stood and turned to his brother, who seemed from his point of view eerily calm. “How bad you think it’ll be? Honestly?”

“Well, it’s illegal to own owls as pets without a license, which you don’t have. We just assaulted an authority figure, who is luckily still breathing considering he dented the side of a train and will need attending by a Healer most likely to reverse the damage fast enough. We dented the train with the man’s body and the sparks blew out some lights and windows, so that’s vandalism I suppose, and we are unintentionally causing a public disruption that’s interrupting their service and costing them money, for which they may be able to sue. Lastly, we are carrying illegal substances in the potions and ingredients, which will be a different beast altogether.” Harry finished factually.

“We?” Gene repeated. “What do you mean ‘we’? This wasn’t us!”

Harry shook his head. “It was our wands and no one will believe me when I say that the culprit was a House-Elf that we’ve never seen before. We’re taking the heat for this.”

“If those are just the problems on the non-magical side…” Gene trailed off as if that was the good news, before licking his lips that felt dry and croaking out the bad news. “The Ministry will have people here in at least a minute—”

“And, considering that because of the Trace and the proximity of the magic this qualifies as underage magic and violating the stature of secrecy, given there is well over a hundred people here…I think we’d get off easier if tried by the mundane system,” Harry supplemented for him.

Gene’s expression quickly turned as the sound of apparation pops filled the station. He only had one final question. “Can they actually send minors to Azkaban?”

“We’re about to find out,” Harry said with a sigh the moment the wands stopped sparking. He was willing to bet the entrance to platform nine and three-quarters was now opened again as well, just as the train was leaving given the time. It screamed set-up.

Given the circumstances, he felt a second swear was appropriate. “Damn.”


Malfoy Manor

Lucius Malfoy looked placidly at his goblet with cold grey eyes, the lingering taste of the Superior Red wine brewed from his family’s apothecary tickling his tongue, as flames danced in the fireplace of his study. He was having a moment of reflection as he reviewed the events of the last two days, from the moment he and Draco were in Diagon Alley to mere minutes ago.

After ridding himself of some poisons, once said to be the same type as that which killed Hepzibah Smith, that would be discreetly taken care of by Borgin, he proceeded to Flourish and Blotts to await the Weasley family and purchase the necessary text for his son…even those written by that insufferable fraud, Lockhart. If that man was the only one that Dumbledore could get for the position then he almost pitied the falling standards of his alma mater. That would change once the aged wizard was ousted.

He also made a note to have Draco undergo an owl-correspondence course in Dark Arts with an accredited graduate of Durmstrang. He would not accept less than an “O” in his O.W.L for the course and using the upcoming year as an excuse when that point rolled around was unacceptable.

While he had instructed Draco to announce himself and draw their attention, he expected a reaction which he could capitalize on. From there he proceeded and accomplished the task that had been set into motion over twelve years ago by the Dark Lord himself. The humiliation his son endured was entirely on his own fault, for both not expecting the retaliation and for resorting to simply insulting one based on blood when the scions of the Weasleys managed to rile him up rather than the other way around.

He had warned Draco to be more subtle when in public about his opinions. They were civilized and had to act respectable in the public eye. To use the term befitting the bushy-haired witch when all else failed weakened the truth of the matter since it was a last resort. It was not to be used as an excuse when bested because your own pure blood was not used to its fullest extent, as the scions of the ginger-haired family did in this case.

He responded appropriately by reminding his scion of this fact once he had capitalized on it by side-along apparating them back to St. Mugino’s. While he was only hit by hexes, a ridiculous set of them that could have been gleamed out of Curses and Counter-Curses and that only children would find amusing, he slipped the Healer who attended them some extra coin to state there were complications since it was a mishmash of hexes not normally used together.

A Head-Engorgement (Engorgio Skullus) that made his head swell upon being hit by the pale green bolt of magic. His normally silver-blond hair sprouted longer like a weed and stood tall with the application of the Hair-Raising hex (Stoprocerus). To finish it off as the worst insult they changed his hair into the same shade of color as that of the Weasleys with the Color Changing Charm (Colovaria).

He had no idea how the boy looked like a “Troll Doll” as the mudblood called him. Trolls looked nothing like that. Considering his sources told him of an incident last year involving one and her, he would think the girl had memory problems from her lower breeding.

But the humiliation his son endured did ultimately serve a greater purpose beyond his original plans. He leveled a complaint against both the Potters and the Weasleys. That alone would cost them in both finances and reputation, but it played into another scheme he came up on the fly.

He had sent out his House-Elf to violate the stature of secrecy in a manner that would be blamed on both the scions of the Potter house within the Ministry. The servant’s breed of magic was quite useful when properly utilized, given that they were normally seen as docile help that lived to serve. Now they were both in the Ministry, where Fudge would decide on their punishment in such a violation.

He had already suggested to Fudge they be made an example out of. Furthermore he backed it with a healthy donation from his set aside funds for such a matter, stored outside of Gringotts with no parchment-trail, so to speak. To top it off, he offered the man a chance to use one of his more remote vacation homes that was near a resort…where Veela tended to service those who were considered VIP’s.

It goes without saying that his name was on the list after a quick call from Lucius.

He was positive Dumbledore would move to protect at least the Boy-Who-Lived, distracting anyone from the Diary. The aged wizard would retract the expulsion and perhaps even get there in time to prevent the wands from being snapped using his clout. But it would cost him a bit of influence and his power base, a notch carved in that would grow deeper over time as Lucius exerted more of his power until it fell…at least had it been done properly anyway.

Minutes ago he got his hands on the argument made by the spare scion, which Lucius had no doubt that it would mitigate the damage done. Even considering the stigma placed on the boy for the murder of a teacher, the aged wizard would take the boy’s words to heart. Dumbledore will have gotten the same argument from one of his sources, if he read the man right, so it would give him a line to trace and find some method of their innocence without relying on good faith alone.

Lucius would capitalize on that stigma one day, the spare scion’s expulsion or imprisonment seen as a method of handling a murderous child that slept in the same place as the children of other witches and wizards. It would further weaken the Potter name. Perhaps he’d even get that Skeeter woman on board for it since her brand of muckraking was quite effective at slander.

All-in-all, it was a near perfect plan that also served as a lesson for Draco on how a Malfoy handles things. The boy had to learn he could not act in his name every time something bothered or offended him…even if it were true.

Yes, they were wealthy. Yes, they were powerful. Yes, his blood made him precious by the standards of wizards and his breeding perfect. But such things were fleeting if not properly wielded.

Lucius felt like celebrating a bit at the moment actually. Now that Draco was gone, perhaps he would rekindle his romance with Narcissa by whisking her away somewhere romantic on a whim. It always paid to keep their marriage strong by mixing things up a little…

But for now he had to deal with his servant’s lackluster performance.

“Dobby, appear before me,” he ordered. The House-Elf apparated in with a near silent pop at Lucius’ feet. “You have failed in your task. This displeases me.”

“D-Dobby did as you asked, Master,” the House-Elf claimed.

“Yes, but you did so poorly and were seen by one of them,” he pointed out, his tone as placid as if talking about the weather. “That was unacceptable and diminished the overall effect of my goals. Punish yourself for an hour in the cellar and then clean the blood off the wall.”

When the House-Elf disapparated to do as ordered Lucius took a sip of his wine. His next move would be determined by the events that transpired and how soon the Chamber of Secrets was opened. With his position as part of the Board of Governors and with galleons in hand, he could do much at that point.


Ministry of Magic, Level 2, Improper Use of Magic Department – Hopkirk’s office

Mafalda Hopkirk, Commander-in-Chief of the Improper Use of Magic Office, settled her hazel eyes on the pair of wizards before her, their actions today having added to her graying hair. She felt…tired, with the questioning going on for a while now.

They were not authorized to use any truth serum of any kind, but given that what happened seemed fairly straight forward she only awaited word from the Minister of Magic himself on what their punishment would be. Still, she couldn’t help but let her displeasure be known. “You should both be ashamed of yourselves for the damage you’ve done today.”

“I told you what happened!” Harry exclaimed for the fifth time.

Mafalda pursed her lips and exhaled thickly through her nostrils as she recounted his excuse aloud. “Yes, a nameless House-Elf appeared on top of the train in the station and used its magic to make your wands discharge multiple times. You’ll have to forgive me if I find such a story to be bullocks coming from two twelve year olds when we have it on good authority that this was a case of sibling rivalry that escalated to the point you were unwilling to wait until you could get on the train or behind the barrier before you started your mischief—including seriously injuring a muggle!”

“We didn’t do it,” Gene insisted this time.

“Enough of your lies,” she ground out in a frustrated voice, rubbing her temples at the growing headache. “Let me tell you the extent of the damage you caused, hm?

“A majority of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad was called in to deal with everything, including bringing in extra Obliviators from headquarters to handle the number of witnesses. We had to lock down the station for two hours to ensure everyone was taken care of and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee has to come up with a reason these people will be late for their jobs and travel and such.”

An excuse that involved roman candles and illegal fireworks I bet, Harry thought. At this point nothing further could be said. The report was delivered and all they were waiting for was Minister Fudge’s judgment.

The moment Mafalda felt a familiar probe of a vibe setting in, telepathy via magic, and confirmed that it was indeed actually official through the standard level of safeguards, her visage was one that quickly became impassive as Mafalda strode over to her desk and lifted the pair’s wands for them to see, positioning both ends in a grip. “After consulting with Minister Fudge, a decision has been made…Harry James Potter and Gene Amaranth Potter. You are both hereby expelled from Hogwarts and your wands are to be snapped immediately.”

The sound of two wands snapping at once, that followed the decree, rang throughout the room.


Character Notes:

Lucius Malfoy: Yeah, he’s got a brain to offset the stupid evil you normally see. The man is supposed to be debonair and wealthy so he should at least act the part before all but the Dark Lord himself as he’s replacing Canon Snape in certain roles. When Draco says his father is a great man in this fic, he will mean it—not a good one, but great villains are rare in a HP fanfic for using their brains and I want to give it a go.

Severus Snape: Snape is a legitimate traitor to the Death Eaters because Lily survived here, meaning his usefulness is not as a spy to Dumbledore, but a sounding board and someone who can think to the dark extent Dumbledore won’t and do what he can’t. For Dumbledore he is proof that love can redeem and the next best thing to getting Voldemort to turn to the Light.

Gene Potter: Amaranth is an imaginary flower that is supposed to be undying. James was the one who named Gene in this one, since he wanted the name to be a flower to match Lily, while Lily named Harry after his father. Finding a male flower name proved to be annoying, for the record.

Harry Potter: Lucius calls him the spare scion since they only way for him to be head of the house is if something happened to Gene and he considers Harry to be a spare in case the Boy-Who-Lived died.

End Note: Yeah, that tirade about the house system was not planned but considering that today a boatload of inspiration hit me for all of my writings, there we go. If there was an outside force at work, you have my thanks for being a muse.

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