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Harry Potter Fanfic: The Path of Indifference #8

Chapter 8: Back at Hogwarts

Note: Okay, now this one is going to be the last chapter for a minute…seriously stop typing up the next chapter! Bad hands! Bad!

September 1st Ministry of Magic, Level 2, Improper Use of Magic Department – Hopkirk’s office

Gene Amaranth Potter recalled the instant he had received his wand, eleven inches of Holly with a phoenix feather core, a memory so pure and potent it could have been used to conjure a Patronus.

The moment he touched it was the moment his world changed. A phoenix’s song rang in his ears, in a melody that enthralled his very soul as it uplifted his heart. We belong together, it said. We will do great things together.

Every time he used it, allowed it to focus and channel his magic, it sang a song. When it was used by the House-Elf without permission, it screamed. Now, having heard the phoenix song of his wand die somberly the moment the wood was snapped, his pulse was deafening in his ear as it beat with anger and hostility.

A war drum drowned out everything else. A cymbal crash rang out in his soul. A storm in his heart of endless thunderbolts and lightning raged on.

He screamed, a roar of anguish and anger tearing its way out of his throat at the injustice. Accidental magic ran wild and untamed, driven on pure intent without a means of focus until, like a broken bath faucet, it spilled out and lashed at everything in his rage. Mafalda shrieked as the four wand pieces clacked to the floor, having slipped from her grasp at the sudden outburst of sound and magic.

It was an outpouring wave that followed his desire to be an outlet for his misery and surged like a wave that physically knocked aside his brother and the woman before wreaking havoc around the room. Lanterns burst, papers flew, inkwells shattered and spread the black ink like blood splatters, and various ornaments were reduced to scrap and rubble as they were tossed about.

“Cease this at once!” Mafalda screamed, going for her wand to stun the child. It was torn out of her grasp by an invisible force and sent her tumbling to the ground as Gene directed his rage and sorrow towards her.

And they call me the troubled one,” Harry muttered as he pulled himself underneath a side table to minimalized the chance of getting hit by anything. He had to admit it had been a few years since he had seen Gene lose it and have a bout of accidental magic. It was always flashy compared to most of other kids he supposed, but why should that be surprising given none of them still knew how he survived a Killing Curse.

He looked over to his broken wand, but he lacked the same connection to it that Gene had to his. He couldn’t see it as more than a specialized tool sadly, a side-effect of wearing his displeasure as armor and keeping the emotions guarded closely to all but a few. And now it was gone, just like that, and he found himself angrier than anything at the fact that it was done because of something he hadn’t done…

Did that make him a bad wizard?

As Gene continued his tantrum, emotionally-driven, Harry tried to think of a way to get out of the room before things got really out of hand. Normally James or Lily would have calmed him down when he was younger, but as Harry was not them and this was bigger than a broken toy courtesy of the Weasley Twins, he would rather not remain for the fallout. Before he could move though, someone else entered the room.

“That is quite enough, Gene,” said a grandfatherly voice familiar to all present in the room as the door hinges squeaked, clear and present through the chaos. Through the door stepped Dumbledore, his half-moon spectacles, crooked nose, and long silver beard unmistakable. “Draw in your rage and temper it, before your accidental magic injures someone.”

“She snapped my wand!” he barked. “She expelled us and snapped our wands for something we didn’t do! We told her and—”

“It will be alright,” Dumbledore assured him. “The expulsion was repealed, neither of you are in trouble. Just settle down and everything will be alright, I promise…”

His words quelled the rage, perhaps with a touch of a silent charm to level out his mood, and the rampaging magic died out slowly as the twelve year-old cried in his seat.

With Albus Dumbledore

It was mere minutes ago that Dumbledore had arrived at the second level of the Ministry, even though Shacklebolt had managed to reach him with the news of the twins detainment and the charges some time ago.

He had his doubts about Harry and Gene being so reckless about exposing themselves so fruitlessly. While his first inclination was to immediately go and use his position to question them personally, he stopped once he heard what Harry’s defense was. Using a House-Elf as an excuse for causing one of the more massive breaches in present time was something that most children might have used, but the young Potter had a nature that was more…assertive than such an excuse would merit.

“Then I suppose I should go and investigate the scene myself,” he said to himself in his office, “to ensure that my word be taken with backing and not just the musings of an elderly wizard, no?”

So he decided to perform his own investigation, beginning with the barrier at the platform. After so much time had passed the magic, if one was used, had to of faded from it to hide the traces. But one of the benefits of holding the Elder Wand was that such things could be easily solved.

He did indeed find the traces pointing to magic of a non-wizard origin being performed. While identifying the House-Elf in question was off the table, he could confirm it was indeed one. He did the same to the boys’ trunks at the scene and found it being applied there too, making a note of both instances that match up the testimony and had it taken down officially, planning to present it as evidence in the boys’ case.

Since he was still in the same area, he sought out the muggle guard who was hurt in the process to see things from his point of view as the closest one to the scene. His wounds were mostly internal and would require rest after treatment, given they were far less sturdy that those with a magical aura, something that he would be compulsed into doing. He arrived only after the man had been hit with a Memory Charm (Obliviate), and to most that meant the memory of what happened was lost.

But that simply wasn’t true.

Memories were not destroyed by the charm, merely sequestered away from the general ones. There were ways to retrieve them. One was torture, the pain breaking through as the body and mind suffered, but the other was the hand of a skilled and subtle Legilimens.

While Voldemort was an experience Legilimens his process was invasive and blunt. It was taking a battering ram to whatever defenses were there, damaging them, the mind, and the memories all at once. It was why he usually preferred to torture those who had a Memory Charm to unlock what was hidden, before scooping out the knowledge.

Sadly, Severus had learned the same lessons from the Dark Lord in his early years as his right-hand man. While both men knew how to be subtle when needed, they weren’t to the extent of Dumbledore. Not that it didn’t have the cost of being time consuming, his workings like taking a feather and brushing over snow that buried the memories.

Once finished he witnessed that the boys were just as stunned and confused. In addition there was no feasible way that both of them had learned to use their wands without contact like that. That required both a strong connection to the wand and the skill, which was just a step short of wandless magic in terms of skill.

While the connect to the wand that Gene had was abnormally stronger than most, he hadn’t been trained to that extent just yet in skill. Harry spent nearly the whole summer without his, which would hamper the effect somewhat. There was a third-party involved, one behind the House-Elf as they rarely acted in such a manner without their master’s order.

He then made it to the Ministry to sort out things and made his case to Fudge. Looking back he may have made a mistake in the past, when the man came to him for advice. He had been confident that he would find his way as Dumbledore felt he was well chosen by the people after he declined the position, to avoid the temptation of power. But, without his whispering in Fudge’s ear, others had done so and led him to make mistakes.

Mistakes like taking both of them in without informing their parents at the time or investigating their claims. Presenting the evidence, he then noted the public backlash of the pair being unfairly punished would reflect poorly upon him and that he hoped the man would make the right decision…only to learn he had been a minute too slow and that the orders for expulsion and snapping their wands had been issued. Both were repealed at once, but the vibe could not reach Mafalda at the moment and he felt that something was wrong.

Now he stood there, looking at the mess caused, and sighed. “I had hoped cooler heads would be present so that I could prove their innocence in time,”—he looked at the broken wands with no more than a hint of the displeasure lurking within—”but I fear I was too late after all.”

He then turned to Mafalda. “I trust that by now you have received the notice of their expulsion being repealed?”

“Repealed?” she repeated numbly, only for the vibe to reach her then. “Yes, I see…consider it done.”

“What about my wand?” Gene demanded. “She snapped it without a second thought!”

Mafalda patted down her hair and cleared her throat. “If it was repealed then we can compensate the loss of the wands, I suppose.”

“I don’t want a new wand, you—” Gene cut himself off when Dumbledore set a hand on his shoulder.

The renowned wizard then extended his other hand out towards the witch, palm up, and the pieces of the wands flew into his hand to be embraced as the thin fingers closed in. “Miss Hopkirk, a wand is not something that can be easily replaced in the hearts of a young wizard just coming into his magic. The act of snapping one in their face is the same as watching their dreams and future die, a nightmare they shall not forget, I fear…”

“I was only following orders,” she claimed, unrepentant. “That’s my job.”

As it was, he merely turned to the twins and sighed. “Come along boys. We can take the Floo Network Connection and get you both to Hogwarts before the Sorting and Start-of-Term Feast by a good bit. I have already had your belongings retrieved from the platform and they will be in your dorms.”

“But my wand…” Gene whined somberly as he stared at the pieces in Dumbledore’s hand, as though a part of him had died.

“You’ll get another wand,” Harry stated as he pulled himself out of the safety of the side table, cool as ice and detached as before at the platform, and followed them out. The Ministry, in all its rush, hadn’t confiscated his pouch while it was on him thankfully. Not that his spare wand was legal to use, given it was a toss-away that could be used for crimes and then ridden of just as quickly. “Get over it.”

“Easy for you to say!” Gene snapped. “I’m surprised you weren’t jumping for joy when she said you were kicked out. You said you’d rather be expelled months ago so you could go to another school!”

“On my terms,” Harry corrected him. “If I get expelled, it will be for something I actually did. Not because some House-Elf framed me. There was simply no point in getting upset about it the way you did. It accomplished nothing but property damage and only Dumbledore coming along prevented things from getting worse because he knows our parents and you’re you.”

“Calm down,” said the aged wizard as they approached the Floo Network Connection in the Atrium. “I said everything will be fine and I meant it.”

After setting the destination to Hogwarts and after the two stepped through the Floo Network Connection, Dumbledore took a moment and looked over the broken wands that were snapped clean in two. He noted the handles, where the cores were concentrated, were still solid. That, he could work with.

Dumbledore looked around the empty space before bringing out his wand. “Fawkes would be further disappointed to learn that one of his feathers was wasted after the other had been used to commit so many atrocities. Besides, losing the brother wand is a loss that would be too heavy to take at the moment if the coming conflict cannot be stopped.

Reparo,” he muttered, the Mending Charm powered through one of the Deathly Hallows doing the impossible. The wands were repaired through the power of the Elder Wand, restored as they were before as if they had never been broken. Just because he could, he then spruced them up with a nice coat of polish with a second wave.

He then stepped through the emerald flames and sunk within its confines, as though flowing through a drain and into Hogwarts, where he presented them to their owners.

The wand sang once more in Gene’s soul as he fastened his grip around the handle, joined by the cry of Fawkes, who appeared in the room and land on Dumbledore’s shoulder. It was enough to bring a tear to his eye. “This really is it…how did you do it?”

“You see, when you reach my age you learn many tricks,” Dumbledore said, maintaining his cryptic nature as he stroked his silver beard. “Only know that you should treasure them dearly and that fortune was on your side this time. I fear there may have been someone with less than pleasant intentions behind what happened today, but know that you must remain calm and hopeful no matter what that justice will be doled out to the true perpetrators.”

Gene nodded earnestly while Harry stared at his wand and tried to figure out what the hell Dumbledore did to restore them. That should have been impossible. He didn’t have time to ask as Dumbledore sent them away to get changed in their houses as their belongings should have been retrieved by the House-Elves on staff, slipping Gene the password to his house in his ear and telling Harry what the riddle was, which Harry nodded to understanding.

He then called for Severus to meet him inside his office and asked what his thoughts were on this.

“Lucius is on the move it seems.” Snape said with a level voice, occlumency masking his emotions on the subject. The two had vied somewhat over who would curry the Dark Lord’s favor for years back when he had not been a traitor to their cause. Snape won with selling out the Potters, but now Lucius would hold the position if the Dark Lord was allowed to return.

“You sound certain of this?” Dumbledore noted. “Why?”

“Considering he was the one who filed the charges that just so happened to have them both parentless and left them with Weasleys, who have enough trouble keeping up with their own brood, and these occurred within mere hours of one another?” he rattled off to support his conclusion. “Lucius always liked to play the long game and, after last year, it seems the game is afoot and the Dark Lord it attempting to rise again.”

“I had hoped Lucius would leave children out of this if that were the case,” Dumbledore sighed.

“Yes, because he’s renowned for his concern with children other than his own,” Snape drawled aloud in a sarcastic yet bland tone. Fawkes squawked at the man for his way with words until Dumbledore settled it down, upon which the Potions Master became serious once more. “I’ll be keeping an especially close eye on Draco Malfoy, to see that he hasn’t had a hand in his father’s schemes. While he lacks the subtlety he does aspire to be his father’s son, so we shouldn’t rule him out as a future complication or asset.”

“Do nothing but observe, Severus,” Dumbledore stated, sagging in his chair a bit. The moment before the term always felt long and this incident did not help. “This conflict began before the children and will end before they become a part of it and sides are drawn.”

“Not if we remain reactive rather than proactive,” Snape countered as he left the room, robes billowing as he headed towards parts unknown until the Start-of-Term Feast and Sorting began.

With Harry Potter

Harry sighed as he sat on his bed in the dorm, listening to the wind whistling against the windows after having changed into his robes and setting things in order.

Despite everything they managed to beat the train and the rest of the students by a good bit, so he had some time to himself to gather his thoughts after putting away his belongings and cracking open a book. His trunk had been rigged this time, anyone opening it getting hexed for it. He wanted to see some savage try and vandalize his stuff again.

The whole mess was tiring and annoying, he thought to himself as he gingerly tapped the scarf around his neck that Quirrell had given him last Christmas, a gift he still treasured and would keep in some manner as part of his uniform in remembrance of the man. He then looked to his wand, something that shouldn’t have been fixed but was. Everyone said Dumbledore was a great wizard, so Harry supposed he had some means sorted out of his long life in fixing that which shouldn’t be fixed.

“May as well test it,” he said to himself, tossed down the book, and jumped up to his feet. He conjured up Bluebell flames and let out a deep breath as he tried to shape it into something small. “Avifors!

Flames twisted into the rough outline of a detail-less bird. He was displeased somewhat it wasn’t better, but he knew transfiguration was not his best subject and that the wand wasn’t the problem, working perfectly. The lack of practice and knowledge of bird physiology did not help and he didn’t have any friends who could help like Padma or Isobel, who actually knew what the hell they were doing.

Speaking of which, he actually needed some this year…from different houses at that. The rant about the school unity failing because of the house division held water, but only as long as he didn’t conform to the system. He had free periods after breakfast but before the first class and after lunch, so those were somewhat opportune times to try.

Ridding the flames he then moved to leave the dorms, setting the unbreakable jars into the container designed to hold small animals with an unbreakable charm on it as well. With the jars inside the terrarium and the terrarium lifted with the Levitation Charm he then proceeded down to the first floor, which was one above the Great Hall, and into Myrtle’s bathroom.

“Myrtle?” he called as he set the things down on the floor gently. “Myrtle, are you in here?”

“Who’s there?” came from further inside, a veil of darkness shrouding everything.

The darkness of the bathroom was offset as Harry used the Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos). The bathroom itself was in less than stellar condition from the lack of use, all thanks to its resident and a permanent ‘Out of Order’ sign on the door. Upon entering stood a column with chipped and hard water stains-lined sinks all arranged around it, a large and cracked mirror that spanned the entire thing just above them. The floor was damp, reflecting the light and keeping the area cool.

From the stall at the end emerged Moaning Myrtle, head peeking out to see who entered her domain. When she saw who it was she floated over happily. “Harry! Oh Harry, it’s good to see you!”

“The feeling is mutual,” he replied. He then motioned to the floor that had obviously been flooded a bit. “Have you been crying again?”

“Peeves has been unbearable this summer,” she told him. “The only reason he’s not here now is because the students are coming and he wanted to get inkwells to throw at them. At least all the other ghosts leave me alone here, my life was nothing but miserable when I was alive here, and now he won’t let me rest where I died.”

The excess harassment must be because he knew I wouldn’t be here to help her all summer, Harry reasoned. I’ll find some way to deal with him one of these days…deal with him permanently.

He made a note to return the favor upon the poltergeist when justified or he would have an excuse in the meantime. So basically anytime he saw him causing trouble…which was anytime he saw him. What he actually said aloud was, “Peeves is a poltergeist, a spirit of chaos. He has no empathy for the dead because he was never alive in the first place. He’ll tone it down once I have words with him later on.”

Myrtle nodded, before eyeing the terrarium and jars. “What’s that you got?”

“Some things for my plans this year,” he said, levitating them all again as he moved back towards the stalls where the window sill was. “If you’ll let me use your bathroom this year too that would be swell as well. The jars are for growing certain plants, including a few Lilies for you. They’re a thank you for comforting me last year.”

Myrtle nodded again. “You can use my bathroom anytime you want to, Harry. How long until they’ve grown?”

“About two months, but I’ll see Professor Spout tomorrow to see if it can be sped up,” he said. “I’ll also see if the Apothecary Department has a portable or collapsible cauldron I can put in the stall across from yours in case I need something brewed, so we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

Myrtle’s joy at the moment had been the highest in years, and it would only be topped as the year went on.

With his belongings set up and the Hogwarts Express already pulled in, several students had arrived and began filing into the Great Hall while the first years waited in a corridor outside it until the Sorting Hat was brought in. Harry parted from Myrtle and made his way into the hall, where he looked around to see who had arrived at the Slytherin Table. To his luck, Goyle, Malfoy, and Crabbe all sat at the slowly filling table, which he joined before the Start-of-Term Feast officially began.

“What are you doing here, Potter?” Crabbe demanded as Harry sat next to Goyle, to the larger boy’s surprise.

“Just came to make small talk before the year began,” Harry said, slipping his hand into his pouch under his robe and carefully retrieving Goyle’s potion book. He slid it to him under the table, which was quickly taken and placed within the large set of robes discretely. “None of us really talked much last year and, since I figured it was a new year and a new start, I would make nice with members of the other houses.”

Which was true given the long-winded tirade against the house system he had with Hermione. Looking to the Hufflepuff table he saw that Leanne was looking well, even though she hadn’t noticed him, while Gayle was sitting at the table with her tent fox resting in her lap. She did notice him and gave him little more than a barely noticeable nod before averting the sight of him entirely.

“What’s your angle, Potter?” Millicent Bulstrode demanded, a somewhat portly girl who sat taller than him and had black hair. “There’s no reason for someone like you to come over here without wanting something. What are you Ravenclaws planning?”

“Like I said I thought I’d interact with another table before the feast began to promote school unity,” he said with a shrug. “I have nothing against you Slytherins. For the most part we went the entire last year without problems and quite frankly, considering that the Crabbe, Malfoy, and Bulstrode family are all distant relatives of sorts, there’s no harm in talking.”

Crabbe actually blinked at that. “What do you mean?”

“He means we all have ties through the Black family,” Draco said, giving him an inquisitive glare. He was still upset about the Troll Doll thing and the fact that he maintained some level of civility was a miracle. “Slytherin stick with their own, Potter. No one has anything to say to you.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way then, but you don’t speak for you entire year,” he said, looking no worse for wear. “House loyalty is nice and all, but once you leave Hogwarts school houses won’t matter. Still, if you change your mind or need help in something like potions then come find me and ask politely when I’m not preoccupied with anything…”

Harry trailed off as he spotted Peeves hovering above the Great Hall towards the corridor where the new students were pre-sorting. He was carrying inkwells that he no doubt planned to use to humiliate the first years as part of a hazing routine of his. Last year it was sticks for Harry and the others and he could do nothing, this year he called this justification for Myrtle’s sake.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a poltergeist to have words with,” he said as he took out his wand and stood from the table. “See you around.”

Harry briskly walked towards the corridor where he saw Peeves float to, the complaints and small cries for Peeves to stop were already coming from within along with his laughs as Harry entered and spotted the amalgamation of chaos in its natural form, being a bully.

“Peeves!” Harry shouted. “You and I have to have some words!”

Drawn to the call, the specter turned and saw Harry. “Ah, it’s the murderer of Hogwarts! Come to do in the lil’ firsties like you did Quirrell?”

Ignoring the dabbling of the new students he then cast a Shield Charm (Protego) as the poltergeist tossed some of the inkwells at him, most empty thankfully or there would be a mess and probably earned some ire from the staff that put up with the blasted chaos.

“Behind you!” one of the students, Ginny he believed, said a moment too late as an inkwell that was actually filled managed to slip past him from behind while he was guarding his front, leaving him covered in the ink while Peeves laughed.

“Got’cha Potter! Hahaha!” Peeves chuckled, the rest of his ammunition floating up on its own.

“Oh dear, are you okay?” asked a girl with rather dirty blonde hair and her wand behind her left ear for safe-keeping. She was standing next to Ginny Weasley. “I imagine that must’ve hurt your head and your pride…although it was a very nice Shield Charm.”

“I’m fine and thanks for the compliment,” Harry said coolly as he glared at the poltergeist, lamenting that he forgot Peeves could do that. He made a note to study over his notes on his kind again and for some way for him to free up his wand for spell casting, so he could have a shield while using his wand. But for now he decided to get even and conjured five Gytrashes, applying the Oppugno Jinx on them all. “Get ’em.”

And so began The Hunt with Harry watching on as the poltergeist fled screaming, using the Tergeo Charm to siphon the ink off of him until it was out of all the awkward places and Professor McGonagall arrived.

“A word, Mister Potter?” she said in a tone that set off his ‘Harry-is-in-trouble’ senses.

Still worth it, he thought as he sighed and made his way to her.

With Gene

Gene sat amongst the second year Gryffindors with Ron Weasley on one side and Hermione Granger on the other. Both were curious as to why he hadn’t been on the train, as to them it was the only way to Hogwarts and by missing it they feared he had gotten into trouble and wouldn’t be returning.

“To put a long story short the barrier closed so we couldn’t get in,” Gene told the pair. “Then our wands went off and caused a big mess I tell you.”

“How did the barrier close?” Hermione asked. “It shouldn’t have just closed like that.”

“Harry said it was a House-Elf that did it,” Gene said. “I didn’t see it, but either way we got into trouble and Dumbledore had to come and get us.”

“So, where’s Harry?” Hermione asked. Before anyone answered Peeves came out of a corridor in a panic, several Gytrashes emerging behind him in a race and set on having a taste of chaos in a corporeal form.

“The Wild Hunt!” the poltergeist cried as he fled, drawing attention throughout the Great Hall. “Peeves is afraid of The Hunt! Why won’t The Hunt stop?”

The rest of the hall remained silent until the ghastly imitation of the hounds of The Wild Hunt passed through the door behind the High Table chasing Peeves, and then continued on once they did. Professor McGonagall was then seen heading towards where the students yet to be sorted were with her lips thin. She returned shortly with Harry in a discussion low enough that they couldn’t hear, before she ushered him over to his table.

With Harry Potter

“The poltergeist had it coming,” Harry told the Deputy Headmistress as she escorted him to his table. “He was harassing the students who had yet to be sorted. That’s not the way they should enter into the next seven years of their life, especially those from non-magical houses.”

“Maybe so,” she admitted, gesturing him into his seat, “but next time inform a teacher rather than taking it into your own hands. Do not move from your seat until the feast is over, your Head of House will have words with you on the matter later.”

Harry sat down as she left and was soon joined by the Weasley Twins, who sat next to him. They handed him a stack of Howler Envelops they purchased, all with a sticker that guaranteed them to be able to resist the Howler Busters.

“So, what shall we do about this little problem next?” Fred asked.

George followed, “We can’t sell a product that won’t work. Bad for business and all.”

“I’ll look into it once I get my hands on a Streeler later this week,” Harry told them as he took the envelops for study purposes. “I was busy all summer at that camp but I came up with some ideas on how to solve the problem short of a really high-powered explosive potion…by the way, you two wouldn’t have had anything to do with that escape route from the cabin, would you?

Fred and George looked at each other with pride at their handiwork being discovered and Fred spoke first. “Saw the initials, did you?”

“Did that our first time there,” George added. “Always have a way out. Did you find the cave too?”

“Yes, and I am deeply envious of your talents in that field,” he admitted, somewhat amused. “But I’ll see what I can do about the Howlers and then we’ll talk business again.”

“Right then,” George said, giving him a hard pat on the back as he stood.

Fred added his piece. “Keep us up to date, and lay off Peeves, yeah?”

“The poltergeist doesn’t get a pass until he reins himself in,” he said. “Let’s keep business and other affairs separate.”

They both looked at one another and shrugged before moving on. They didn’t expect much on that front, but Peeves was their ally and they had to say something. With the twins gone Harry set his head on the table to wait the starting of the feast.

He had maybe four seconds before he was flanked by Terry Boot and Padma Patil filling the empty seats. He looked at them impassively. “Can I help you?”

Terry spoke first. “We were looking for you on the train. Couldn’t find you and thought you actually decided not to come back or got expelled.”

“Almost did,” he said in an ambivalent manner, as though talking about the weather. “Blamed for an incident that somewhat broke the Stature of Secrecy and underage magic, temporarily expelled and then Dumbledore got it repealed and brought me and Gene to school.”

Terry took a moment to adjust to that. “Okay…well, it’s good to have you back.”

“Are we…” Padma trailed off gesturing with her hands. “Are we, you know?”

“Square about the abandonment last year?” Harry answered for her. She nodded. “Quite frankly I have decided to remain open about that since making nice with all the houses involves also making nice with members of my own, but like I said before: Stay by my side or stay out of my way.

“Same goes for you,” he said to Isobel MacDougal as she passed by.

“Acquaintances,” was all she said.

Then there was no more real talk as the sorting began and, with it, the start of the second term.

Character Notes:

Dumbledore: A majority of you seem to be under the impression that Dumbledore is a “Light-obsessed manipulative bastard who’s going to force Harry to help his brother / fight for the Light / screw Harry over without a second thought” that has been popular in these fics.

He’s not.

Gene has a prophecy over his head that Voldemort insists on fulfilling, so he’s stuck there if Dumbledore and Snape can’t prevent his return. But he won’t force any other person to fight in a war that they are trying to prevent in the first place and, considering what I have planned for Harry, he won’t even consider such a thing because Harry doesn’t take prisoners. Dumbledore is more about steering him away from his self-destructive path if he can help it, but he knows the choice is up to Harry.

Lily and James Potter: A majority of you are under the impression that James and Lily are “Support Gene no matter what while crucifying Harry and treating him like dirt” that these fics often have when there are brothers.

They’re not.

Even the best parents show favoritism and can occasionally be neglectful, but it wasn’t on purpose and they aren’t going to throw Harry under a bus for Gene’s sake, nor do they spoil either one as Gene pointed out that Lily didn’t like him playing up his fame for surviving a murder attempt twice at least. They made a mistake and want to make amends, and while Lily is far more hopeful than James that it can be done, James acknowledges there is a rift that may not heal since Harry doesn’t want to forgive them.

All of them want what’s best without compromising their morals. It’s why Snape is Dumbledore’s wetworks man, whether the aged wizard knows it or not. Dumbledore won’t torture a Death Eater for information if they don’t have time for a mind-reading, which it time consuming in this fic combined with protection against it.

Snape would use a Cruciatus without a second thought to get him to talk or drop the shields enough that he can rip the information out and then get rid of the mindless vegetable with no trace. It’s why, in Steel Claws & Grey Coats that this fic is based off, I had Harry mention him as a mentor of sorts. He’s gotta learn from someone and have an example of what to aspire to. Snape set him on the path that’s less suicidal than what he was trying before.

Light and Dark: No one in this fic is exclusively in a category, except maybe Voldemort. Lucius is a murderer who joined the ranks of the Death Eater for power and because at the time they were the winning side, but he’s more interested in the benefits and blood purity belief than the overt actions they indulge in. If he can help it he won’t even let Draco take the Dark Mark (whether he’s successful or alive at the time is a work in progress).

Between dealing with Spirits, Death Eaters, Drug Dealers, Public Perception, Daily Living, and Complicated Choices, I’m trying to make this a complex work that leaves no absolute good or bad, but lots of shades of grey instead…except Voldemort and Bella.

Gotta have some villains / chaotic evil to round things off.

End Note: To all those disappointed Harry wasn’t kicked out of school and regained his freedom…he’s twelve. His options are fairly limited and expulsion from the most prestigious school in England looks very bad on paper. Look at all the characters with names and the purposes they serve, I’m not going to throw them away for nothing.

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