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Harry Potter Fanfic: The Path of Indifference #9

Chapter 9: First Day of Second Year

Note: Luna is hard to write….

September 2nd Ravenclaw Tower

Harry Potter woke from his slumber with a sluggish start, intending to go about his normal morning routine from last year—namely cardio improvement by jogging and then a shower and breakfast before he went about his day. He would also need to make several stops for his personal projects, so staying in bed five more minutes wasn’t an option anymore. Tossing back his sheets he slipped on a set of jogging pants and hoodie so that he could get the most out of his workout and remain warm, slipping his wand into his coat pocket in front, before heading into the Common Room.

The Common Room of Ravenclaw was immaculate, graceful arches framing the windows while the walls were lined with fabrics of blue and bronze silk like veils. The ceiling was painted with stars while the midnight-blue carpet below mirrored above. With tables, chairs, and bookcases spanning the room besides the comforting area of couches near the fire, it was a haven for those who sought to study and expand their knowledge base.

Before he could proceed down the tight spiral staircase in his workout clothing and out the castle, he was halted by an all-too familiar voice. “Harry, wait up!”

He halted and stopped, allowing for the taller boy with short brown hair to catch up.

“You could have woken me,” Terry claimed as he reached Harry, face flushed as he breathed heavily. “It’s been awhile since I’ve needed to get up to do this,”

“I have a lot to do this morning and was barely able to get up myself,” Harry pointed out, tone apathetic. “I need to visit a couple of places so I’m skipping morning spell practice. You’re free to join, but considering I’m hunting Streelers afterwards it may or may not be messy.”

“Why?” he asked as they began to venture down the corridor to the exit of the castle.

“Howler Busters,” Harry stated. “I needed to increase the potency of them to eat through the devilish things. I did some research on the species and learned that Streeler venom have different strengths depending on where they lived. They were native to Africa, but they were bred and released into other parts of the world and, because of the different vegetation, they have different levels of acidic venom. I’m going to try and introduce a variety of plants into their diets and see if I can’t get something a little stronger combined with Bundimun Solution only diluted to half its potency.”

Once out of the stone walls they were met with the full brunt of the chill morning breeze and began a single run alongside the lake. The autumn winds felt great upon Harry’s face as he pushed his body to its limits circling the expansive land before him and crossing over the grass and wood near the lake. While his body ran on auto-pilot his mind ran through thoughts about the coming year of school and what he had planned. Between making connections with other houses, improving his potions, and revamping his Howler Busters, he would be busy for the most part. When they finished their run Harry changed directions and headed towards the greenhouses.

Hogwarts had numerous greenhouses that hosted a variety of plants, many sentient and dangerous ones, as well as the office of the current Herbology professor, Pomona Sprout. She was a somewhat short woman, usually coated with a healthy layer of earth due to her position, but quite jovial and caring. Her personality befitted one who was the Head of Hufflepuff House.

In the early morning there were few people there, only those with a dedicated interest in the field to assist before classes began. Harry entered the first greenhouse and found the professor there with one such aspiring student. Neville Longbottom, a somewhat round-faced boy with a chubby build who Harry was somewhat familiar with but rarely interacted with.

“Excuse me, Professor Sprout?” Harry called, garnering both of their attention. He made a mental note of the flash of fear across Neville’s face before politely addressing the Herbology professor.

“Yes?” she asked. “How can I help you?”

“I’ve recently taken an interest in Herbology, since it boasts a large part of my work as a Potioneer-in-Training, and wondered if I could ask you about some tips on growing your own plants for these purposes? Perhaps something to speed up their growth a bit?”

The professor put on a small smile. “Well, Mister Potter, I am proud that you’ve taken an interest in the subject. When it comes to plant growth it depends on the plant in question, as well as the environment in which it is raised—”

The professor was cut off when one of the older students called to her from the entrance, distress written all over his face. “Professor Sprout, come quick! Gabriel got caught by one of the Chandlabra!”

“Oh dear,” she muttered. “Excuse me, but I have to tend this matter before he’s digested. Mister Longbottom here is already quite knowledgeable and may be able assist you in the meantime.”

“Understandable,” Harry replied as she left out in a hurry. He then turned to the boy eyeing him like he was about to tear out his throat and bluntly asked, “Neville, are you afraid of me?”

He nodded shakily.

Harry sighed as he rubbed the bridge between his eyes. “Neville, your professor asked me to consult you and Terry is here. I’m twelve, it’s not like I’m going to off you and stash your body, I just want to talk about plants. If you can’t answer the questions I’ll ask Professor Sprout another time when she’s not saving some poor bastard from being a meal since her faith in you seemed to be misplaced.”

That put some fire in his belly as he stopped flinching. “Wh-what do you want to know?”

Harry proceeded to explain his goals, growing a terrarium of different plants to bolster the toxicity level of the Streelers he was planning on catching, as well as some flowers and more exotic plants for a few of the potions he had to work on. He did neglect to mention some things, but it seemed to enough to get Neville talking.

“Mooncalf dung does wonders,” the chubby second-year offered, “but it can only be used before sunrise of the day its dropped, so that’s out unless you can get a pre-order and have portkeyed over…”

Harry shook his head. “We’re expected to be in bed by then and the cost would be astronomical for such a short time-frame. Not worth it.”

“I heard that Tilden Toots has Regerminating potions available,” he suggested next. But then he shook his head. “But that’s to be used with a Rejuicing potion after the plant has died.”

Harry made a note to consider that when the plants he has have actually grown. It might allow him to harvest the plants to feed the Streelers multiple times and save on seed costs. “That’s for another dilemma. What else have you got?”

“Well, there’s a potion that can be applied to soil with a dropper to shave some time off the growth now that I think about it. I used the sample I got all up, but I got the recipe page for it from a friend of Gran’s during a birthday party because she saw how I liked plants. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the symbols though and I haven’t tried to really learn about it since…”

“You cause a potion explosion every time you get near a cauldron?” Harry said, to which he nodded grimly. “Tell you what? Share it with me and I’ll give you half of what’s made. Bring me the instructions during the break.”

“Okay…I guess…” Neville stated a bit uncertain. “It couldn’t hurt, could it?”

With that bit of business handled Harry and Terry left the greenhouses and went past the Quidditch Pitch, where Hagrid’s Hut laid at the perimeter of the Forbidden Forest. It was a small thing of wood, with a garden growing pumpkins in the front, and held a single room that somehow managed to hold the Half-Giant.

As they neared it they witnessed the Weasley Twins leaving on a set of broomsticks, heading towards the main castle with the rather large man noticing the young Potter and waving him over.

“Harry!” he exclaimed as they approached. “Good to see you. Whose yer friend there?”

Since they had never formally met Harry introduced them. “Hagrid, this is Terry Boot. He’s a housemate of mine. Terry, this is Hagrid. He’s the Keeper of the Keys for Hogwarts.”

After the pair shook hands Harry asked what the twins were doing there. It turns out they came to him about breeding animals, which he gave them a bit of advice on since their brother kept him updated on the status of Norbert. While he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t raise the little dragon on his own and Gene had smuggled him out, the updates kept him placated and kept his job safe for the most part. Plus he spoke with Dumbledore and managed to get to visit the dragon reservation to see him once or twice. After that Hagrid invited them in for tea, which they accepted.

“Hagrid, what do you know about Ashwinders?” Harry asked as the gamekeeper set the tea down. “I’m aware that they are normally born from magic fires and lay eggs, but that’s about all. What happens to the eggs that hatch?”

“Well, as far as I know, there are actually two breeds of ’em.” Hagrid stated. “The ones born of fire are the most common because they don’t require upkeepin’ at all. The eggs they lay are valuable in potions and such and are difficult to keep, so they aren’t usually hatched. If one does manage to hatch they eat fire seeds until they come into maturity and breathe fire and such.”

“Are they capable of speech?” he asked next. “Human speech I mean?”

Hagrid shook his head. “No, not any snake I can think of.”

“I see…” The wheels in Harry’s head began turning at that as he tapped his fingers against the table. Back at camp the Healer didn’t find anything wrong with him, so he just chalked it up to his imagination, but he wanted to be sure. If a man as educated on animals as Hagrid said no snake spoke English, then they didn’t.

Clearing his throat he then changed topics. “When is your birthday, Hagrid? I still owe you for last year after all.”

“It’s the sixth of December,” the gamekeeper stated. “But you don’t need to worry about me, Harry.”

After that Harry and Terry finished their tea and caught a Streeler or two, which would find themselves permanent residents of Myrtle’s bathroom until summer. They split when they made it back to the Ravenclaw Tower, with Harry going to shower. The water felt refreshing as it cleansed him and, when he returned to the Common Room, Professor Flitwick was there as the new students gathered around the diminutive professor while his own year and above received their schedules from the prefects.

He noted that today he had Double Potions with Slytherin, Charms, DADA, and Herbology, in that order. Of all the classes he was worried about DADA the most, since Lockhart was the one teaching it. Before he could head back to his temporary workshop in Myrtle’s Bathroom before breakfast someone tapped him on the shoulder at the entrance to the Common Room and he turned.

There to greet him was the dirty-blonde girl from before, silvery-grey eyes meeting his own. “Hello again. I must say your scarf is quite lovely, but isn’t it a bit too soon for it?”

“Hi, thanks, and I’m comfortable with it regardless,” Harry answered back in order. “Umm, I didn’t get your name before when I was dealing with Peeves…”

She extended a hand for him to shake. “Luna Lovegood.”

“Harry Potter,” he said as he took her hand and gave it a gentle shake. “Ready for your first day of classes?”

“I think so,” she said, just a hint of uncertainty in her voice. “I just hope I don’t run into any Nargles. They’re mischievous, but as long as there isn’t Mistletoe I think I’ll be okay.”

“…okay,” he said after a pregnant pause. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. The only Mistletoe I can think of is the ones in the Herbology Department.”

She perked up at that. “Oh, then I should have a nice day then.”

Double Potions

In the dungeons Slytherin and Ravenclaw second-years had gathered, cauldrons and the components of the standard Potion-Making Kits at the ready.

Severus Snape looked to the youths with an analytical gaze after he finished writing the text on the board. Let it be known that he was not a fan of children in particular, for they certainly knew. While he held no outright hatred, having to deal with pre-teens was rather low on his list…even more so as his own experiences during that age were less than pleasant.

Truth be told, this arrangement presented him with two of the houses that should boast wit and cunning and, as such, he expected sublime marks for both of them. However their scores last year, overall, weren’t all that impressive. It was something he had to correct, given that Lucius’ actions with the Potter Twins and the fiasco with the stone last year showed that the game is afoot and the school would be scrutinized thoroughly. If only he could convince Dumbledore to seek out Slughorn so he could take the DADA position for himself, rather than that incompetent Lockhart…

Either way it also meant he had to reign in his temperament with the children so that Lucius would not attempt to have him removed from Hogwarts. He would fail, of course, but it would cost Dumbledore influence that could be used in the future should they fail in preventing the return of the Dark Lord. With a wave of his wand he closed the door to the dungeon, the sound of it shutting echoing like a gunshot in the room and silencing everyone, drawing their attention to him.

“As I have explained last year the art of potion-making is a subtle science,” he began, eyes narrowed and his expression of utmost seriousness. “Even the slightest misstep can cause severe injuries or maladies that can prove fatal. While first-years had more leeway in their behavior I will impress upon all of your feeble minds that such incidents as last year’s will not be tolerated. If anyone is caught sabotaging work for any reason, I assure you your punishment will be swift and cruel—no houses exempt, no students spared.”

Exhaling silently he tapped his wand to the blackboard. “Now then, for the finals of last year I had all the first-years brew Forgetfulness Potions. While technically all of you passed, many of you had no idea why what went into what and memorized the ingredients and procedures. Apparently only a few students put some forethought into opening their copies of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi to look up the properties of Valerians and Mistletoe Berries and, as such, only a handful earned full marks on their written portions by pointing out sedative properties of one makes it useful for several potions dealing with temperament soothing or sleeping afflictions, while a number of poisons and antidotes use the other.

“This poses a problem as earning your NEWT in potions is a requirement in many profitable fields and those that are in dire need of numbers, such as Healers, Aurors, Apothecaries, and assorted other fields. I refuse on principle to let such a substandard level of skill be unleashed upon the world and tied into my name. Only the best and brightest are acceptable and, to that effect, I will not accept anything less—and neither will you if you wish to make it in this world.”

The air itself seemed still at the weight of his words. Snape took that as a sign they all recognized he was serious and continued. “For your first doubles assignment of the year you will be brewing a Memory Potion, a mental potion designed as a counter-balance to the Forgetfulness Potion. Pair up.”

At that few began to move, with most settling with whomever they were already near and in the same house. That was typical of class last year as well, Millicent Bulstrode figured as she opened her copy of Magical Drafts and Potions. Thus she was somewhat surprised when her partner, Pansy Parkinson, began to move. “Where are you going?”

“I’m pairing with Draco,” she said, pointing over to the blond-haired, grey-eyed Slytherin student. He was sitting alone, having sent Goyle and Crabbe to pair up with one another ahead of time. “Besides, your cat has been shedding non-stop since yesterday and I’m tired of the hairs on you getting all over me…”

Partner-less, Millicent looked around for someone else who would assist her when Harry came over. She was understandably suspicious of his intent and made it known. “What are you doing?”

“Pairing up with you,” Harry affirmed, his tone somewhat crossed between amicable and neutral as he set down his copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi next to her potion textbook. “We’re the only two without partners after all.”

“What about that bloke you’re always with?” she asked, looking to see that he had left Terry paired with Tracey Davis as the sole other Slytherin-Ravenclaw pairing since they were the odd students out. The Ravenclaw was somewhat confused as well at the sudden shift in the seating as Tracey gave him a once over and stated he would do for now. Millicent remained skeptical however. “Whatever, just don’t botch this up…”

Harry remained silent as he bookmarked the pages of his book for the plant-related ingredients and perused the recipe for the potion in Millicent’s book. The Memory Potion itself used a similar amount of the Standard Ingredient, which was a mixture of herbs sold in a bundle as part of the average potion-making kit, as the Forgetfulness Potion. From there it branched out to Jobberknoll Feathers, Essence of Rosemary, and Euphrasia Sprigs. As they waited for the water in the cauldron to come to a boil, as per the instructions, he immediately divided up the ingredients to be used in the order they would come in.

Once the water was boiled they would add the two measures of Standard Ingredient to it and use their wands to release the magical properties within the plant material through exposure to magic of a foreign nature to the plant. After it had enough time to brew and release everything they would add in the Essence of Rosemary, which was the oil of the Rosemary plant harvested through the cold press method, and they would stir counter-clockwise three times and leave it to simmer on low heat until it turned a shade of purple. Once the color had changed, showing the merging of the herbs and oil, they would add in two Euphrasia Sprigs, use their wand to unleash the magical properties, and stir clockwise five times on high heat. The potion would turn a shade of violet and be capable of dissolving the two Jobberknoll feathers, with a final wave of the wand stabilizing the magic and melding them into the potion, changing it a shade of blue.

The sound of the cauldron bubbling drew Harry’s attention and he handed the mortar filled with the Standard Ingredient to Millicent. “You need to add it—”

“I know how to read,” Millicent grumbled as she threw in the Standard Ingredient as a single mass and waved her wand, releasing the essence of magic within the mixture of herbs. Harry immediately pulled out his wand and placed the Bubble-Head Charm on himself and then her. The sudden attachment of the bubble to her face left her taken aback. “What are you playing at—”

“It’s going to start smoking because you tossed it in all at once rather than sifting it in through your fingers,” he said abruptly, cutting her off before she could retort as smoke did begin to rise in a somewhat thick amount. “It’s not harmful outright, but you need to see and breathe clearly.”

While Millicent seemed placated by the reason Harry went over the information in his own copy of the potions book about the Jobberknoll. It was a very brief statement that mentioned it was a small blue bird that never uttered a sound until its swan song, upon which it repeated every sound it heard backwards. It made sense then that, being a magical bird, the feathers would hold the power of recollection to make them useful for memory potions. How it served as part of a truth potion still eluded him however, most likely it required the other ingredients to enforce the speech in some manner.

As Millicent added the drops of Essence of Rosemary he reviewed the bookmarked page for it. The plant was commonly used to provide mental clarity, with the oil holding the concentrated amount. Euphrasia, also known as eyebright, strengthened cognitive functions and could also be used to deal with vertigo. They made a potent pair when combined it seemed.

Sadly, something went wrong as the potion simmered and turned black, small popping noises drawing his attention as they grew louder. The smoke billowing from it tripled and drew the attention of the class and Professor Snape, whose eyes narrowed upon the concoction and then them, before he vanished the contents of the cauldron and said, “This potion has been contaminated by a foreign element.”

“I followed the instructions perfectly,” Millicent stated in her defense, before he deducted points from their house. She pointed to Harry instead. “He handled the ingredients!”

Snape, however, reached over to her shoulder and plucked from it a single hair, which made Millicent go pale as Pansy could be heard claiming she knew that Millicent’s cat’s shedding would cause problems. “Miss Bulstrode, I expect better hygiene of my own house—especially in this class, where it can make the difference between a life-saving potion and a potentially lethal and unpredictable toxin. Leave and do not return until you are fit to be here.”

Harry watched as she struggled not to let her emotions show before she darted out of the class, leaving her belongings behind. How humiliating it must’ve been for her. Dropping his Bubble-Head Charm he could hear the snickering of certain people in their double classes, mocking her for a simple mistake, as well.

“And you, Potter,” Snape said in a clipped tone, grabbing Harry’s attention. “You seemed to have learned something of extra precaution considering the charms over your heads at the time, so would you care to explain why you allowed her to handle anything while in such a state?”

“I…have no excuse,” Harry admitted. “I didn’t take her personal hygiene into consideration. But, with all due respect, to call her out like that was excessively cruel and humiliati—”

Snape cut him off. “Such actions may be seen as noble by some, ignoring such things as appearance and hygiene…but it is a sloppy habit for potioneers and, as shown, can be detrimental to not only health but the end result. Humiliation now may save her life later on when we venture deeper into the art. As for you, be more attentive and remember this lesson well.

“Now, hurry up and restart from the beginning since both of your grades still dwell on this assignment,” he finished up with and turned to be on his way.

With a sigh Harry did so, finding himself working alone as he awaited Millicent to return. He personally hated the notion of public humiliation, even if the professor was in the right, but there was nothing he could do about it like he pioneered for Howlers. Harry eventually finished the potion in time, but Millicent failed to return before it was time to go.

“Class is over,” Snape stated, slapping his wand against the blackboard that now had new contents. “Turn in your vials if you have not done so and, for your homework assignment, I want an essay on the uses of the potion and the ingredients for the doubles class next week.

“Also note that for your next individual potions class we will be discussing deviations in potion-making directions and alterations that may improve or hamper potion effects. In this case we will be modifying the standard Forgetfulness Potion to have a stronger and weaker degree of effect. Take note of the ingredients on the blackboard and come prepared.”

Harry quickly got out his pocket notepad and pen and wrote the assignments down on his list of things to do before putting away his belongings. Looking to Millicent’s, who had yet to return, a niggling sense of concern urged him to try and see if she was okay. But he had no idea where she was.

Thus he was forced to ask Pansy Parkinson if she knew where he could find her. He figured since she served as the de facto leader of the second-year Slytherin girl clout she would have some idea or measure of concern for the well-being of one of their own. He learned otherwise the moment she opened her mouth in response.

“I’m not her keeper, Potter,” Pansy stated. “She probably ran off to wherever she goes to hide from the sunlight like trolls do.”

So much for that ‘Slytherin sticks with their own’ spiel from Draco, Harry mused silently as he stared at her with an eyebrow raised at the sheer callousness. And here I thought Morag was a bitch, at least with her it was an issue of control and conformity rather than appearance.

Before he could get a word in edgewise Pansy brushed him out of the way to go after Draco, who was already on his way out of the class with his two bookends besides him, shooting one another looks. Goyle hadn’t been pleased since Crabbe botched the measurements and it led to a minor spat. Tracey Davis then took her place.

“I’ll take her things to the next class and check our dorms,” she said, giving Terry Boot a look before making her way back to the table Millicent and Harry shared.

Harry walked over to him with his arms crossed and both eyebrows arched in fascination. “Have a good class, did you?”

Terry merely shrugged, just as confused as he was when he found himself working with her in the first place. “Made some small talk, exchanged thoughts on potions. That’s all…”

After that they made for Charms Class, which was a review over the lessons of last year and a general outline of what they were doing this year. Harry made a note of the more interesting charms in his copy of Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 and Flitwick’s talk of how his charm-work with some of the simple ones aided him in becoming a dueling champion. He could look up the specific charms not found in his text later on in the Library or the advanced copies he got.

The review also revealed he was somewhat lagging after going so long without practice or his wand. Back during camp he mostly focused on his personal spells and dark charms rather than the standard ones between his potion-work. Morag, Isobel, and Stephen themselves held a good showing he had to admit, but that was expected.

During this period Terry sat next to his other friends, Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein. Isobel took a seat with two other girls, Lisa Turpin and Mandy Brocklehurst. That left Harry positioned next to Padma Patil and her friend Sue Li, who also seemed to have a knack for Charms.

“Is something wrong?” Padma asked when she noticed Harry’s look of discontent.

“Trying to figure out where I’m going to get Foxglove for the Pompion Potion we learned to make last year, or if I’m going to just nail Pansy Parkinson with a Belching Charm,” he jested, half-serious at best. He didn’t do intentional poisoning unless someone wronged him first and her callous nature didn’t warrant retribution…yet.

Padma, however, seemed to think he was quite serious. “Understandable, I always wanted to use the Flower-Head Jinx (Herbifors) and make her live up to her name. But even having flowers for hair wouldn’t be enough to make her less than rotten to the core.”

Harry blinked at the suggestion, considering she seemed like one of the less vindictive girls. “Did I miss something between you two?”

“Pansy makes a habit of antagonizing just about everyone and our family has had business gatherings with hers Pre-Hogwarts,” Padma claimed. “I’m surprised you’ve just now noticed.”

“I was a little preoccupied with in-house problems last year,” Harry pointed out. “We hardly shared classes with them.”

The discussion tapered off after that and class soon ended. During the break before Lunch began Harry ran into Neville Longbottom again, who made good on getting him that recipe paper. Quite frankly he saw how it seemed to be gibberish as well. There were ingredients, but the process was a bunch of symbols and birds and some kind of winged lion?

He decided to ask Professor Snape since potions were his thing, but his mind was still on Millicent. When it was lunch and she didn’t show up at the Slytherin Table, Harry once again inquired about her and found that no contact was made according to Tracey. Given that last year none of the professors looked for Hermoine or Padma after they missed a class prior to showing up after the troll incident, he decided to take a different approach and headed to Myrtle’s bathroom.

“Myrtle, I need you,” Harry said as he entered. The hard floor was thankfully dried from yesterday, leaving less of a chance for him to slip as he made for her stall.

He was greeted by the deceased Ravenclaw, who phased through the stall door. “What is it?”

“Myrtle, a girl has gone missing somewhere in the castle,” Harry stated. “Professor Snape called her out on her hygiene during class and she ran out. I need your help to find her.”

“Why bother?” she asked. “It’s not like anyone came looking for me when I ran out the day I died. Took them hours to find my body…”

“Myrtle, that’s a pretty damn good reason to actually bother,” he pointed out. “If the staff was more proactive then that sort of thing wouldn’t have happened, but there’s only like twelve of them. Besides, don’t you want to make a difference for someone else?”

The ghost shook her head. “Not in particular, no.”

Harry rubbed the bridge between his eyes. “Come on, Myrtle. I’ll owe you another favor.”

With an exaggerated motion and sigh she moved in closer, until they were nearly face-to-face. Her voice carried a hint of an undertone in it as she spoke. “Only because it’s you asking, Harry. Believe me, I will be calling in that favor soon enough. Now, where do we begin?”

Hogwarts was a massive castle, built to house roughly a thousand occupants and keep them safe. Given that there was nowhere near that number of students or teachers, less than four-hundred total, it left a great deal of classrooms, halls, and other assorted portions of the castle unused. However, he figured that Millicent couldn’t be that far gone from the Potions classroom and was most likely on the ground floor, first floor, or the dungeons. Thus he sent Myrtle out to check by simply passing through the walls until she found the second-year Slytherin, a Gytrash accompanying her at her request in case she met with Peeves.

“I found her,” Myrtle told him once she returned a few minutes later. “She’s in one of the abandoned classrooms on the ground floor of the castle. It’s classroom number ten.”

Harry made it to the corridor on the ground floor, only to find the door locked through a Locking Charm (Colloportus). One quick Thief’s Friend (Alohamora) spell later there was an audible click. With a final look around to see that he was alone, with no portraits nearby, he entered the room—

“—Locomotor Mortis!

Only to find himself ducking as the Leg-Locker Curse flew over his head in a flash of purple light that hit the wall of the corridor. Harry took shelter at the entrance, in case she fired another spell off. “Millicent, it’s Harry…put down the wand.”

She didn’t put it down. Instead she fired another curse that was off by quite a bit. “You came looking to make fun of me for botching the potion!”

“No, that’s not it,” he said. “I just wanted to talk and make sure you were okay. You’re missing lunch and Tracey Davis said you weren’t in your class after Potions either. Believe me, I won’t make fun of you for having your pet’s hairs on you…although it is a hazard during that class.”

“So I like to hug my cat a lot,” she said with a slight slur, followed by a small chuckle. “What of it?”

Okay, not sure where that came from, Harry thought to himself. “I’m not saying you need to stop with the fur therapy either. I know what it’s like to be called out like that in front of my year-mates and, while I couldn’t care less, you never came back and I was worried…”

Harry trailed off as he peeked into the room to find the Slytherin witch at one of the unused desks, wand swaying limply in her hand as she had sunshine-yellow bottle in the other that had rainbows coming out of it. He recognized it. “Are you drinking Euphoria?”

“N-no…” she said, failing to keep her face straight as she lied. Her noise was tweaking quite a bit, which was one of the side-effects of the Elixir to Induce Euphoria.

That stuff was supposedly expensive as well for commercial-grade. Harry remembered drinking some from his Uncle Sirius’ place when he and Gene were being babysat at Grimmauld Place years ago. The man had left a bottle out for Remus during one of his down phases. Lily was mad when she came to pick them up, only to find both of them all but stoned and singing until they gave them a Flushing Draught.

“That stuff is far above our grade-level to make and its labeled, so I’m guessing smuggled in or traded from an older student. Still, how much did you take for it to still remain in your system to this point?” He glanced at the warning label once he covered the gap between them with Myrtle and the Gytrash on his heels. “You’re not supposed to take more that maybe a few sips within a few hours of one another.”

“Shove off,” she stated as she readied to drink from the bottle again. “It’s none of your business.”

“True,” he admitted. It wasn’t like the stuff was illegal to own and it was far safer than what he made for Gayle, even if less effective. Not that it stopped him from taking the bottle from her, capping it, and slipping it into his pouch while her intoxication on liquid happiness left her unable to hold onto it tight enough.

She whined uncharacteristically a bit, before she began singing a small tune as a side-effect. She couldn’t even aim her wand properly. Yeah, she definitely had too much.

Harry was sure once her system burned through the effect of the potion she would hunt him down for it. Damn his guilt-by-proxy induced conscious. Looking to Myrtle he asked, “Can you keep an eye on her until the potion effects wear off?”

Myrtle nodded, although she wasn’t exactly pleased with it since Millicent reminded her of bullies back in her days alive. If only Harry hadn’t been nice to her, and kept Peeves away, and talked to her in a day more than most people and professors did in a year, she could say no. Sensing her displeasure, perhaps, the Gytrash trotted up to her and rubbed against her leg.

“I owe you another one,” he told her. “If we had something to flush it out of her system I wouldn’t ask this of you, but only Madam Pomfrey or Professor Snape would have something like that at the moment and I can’t ask without a solid reason, identify it from memory, or try to take it from the Hospital Wing or Potion Cupboards. I’ll look up how to make them later today and add them to my To Do list for this year.”

“I don’t need a babysitter,” Millicent insisted as she tried to stand, easily towering over him. Naturally her balance was compromised at this point, so she promptly fell back into the seat.

“Abusing potions on your first day of class is something that I’m sure Madam Pomfrey would not be happy to hear,” he stated, before offering her an ultimatum. “You have two choices at the moment: I inform her of this little issue and your parents receive an owl or let me hold onto it until you sober up. You’re already too out of it to stand and going to class in this condition will only cause problems for you.”

Millicent snorted. “Why do you care? You’re not one of us…”

“Call me a softy,” Harry said dryly. “I’m extending an olive branch Millicent and trust me when I say you you’ll want some friends less treacherous than Pansy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to visit Professor Snape to ask about this…gibberish Longbottom has given me and hit the Library before Defense Against the Dark Arts begins.”

Leaving out the classroom Harry reapplied the Locking Charm to the door. True enough, it was futile for anyone with a wand, but it was the thought that counted and no one would investigate a locked disused classroom if they kept the noise down. If someone saw her like this the problems it would cause would be numerous.

Since he was on the ground floor getting to the dungeons was simple enough. As there wasn’t a class at the moment Harry figured he would find Professor Snape in his office. He knocked on the door. “Professor Snape, are you there? I have something I want to ask you.”

“Enter,” said the professor from the other side of the door and Harry did so.

The office of the resident Potions Master was rather dimly-lit, a sense of gloom draping it. Shelves on the walls were lined with potions, ingredients, catalysts, reagents, books, and more. Taking his eyes off the parchment in front of his desk, Severus Snape gazed into Harry’s eyes with a look of disinterest. “What is it, Ravenclaw Potter?”

“I ran across this potions recipe, I believe, but I can’t make heads or tails it…” Harry fished through his pockets and pulled out the slip of parchment that held Longbottom’s growth stimulator. “Can you see if you can?”

Severus Snape took it from his hands and glanced at it for a mere moment before handing it back. “That’s because it is a potion that was poorly transcribed from Spagyric, which we do not cover as part of the standard courses.”

Harry tried not to sound like he had no idea what that was. But quite frankly he didn’t. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that topic.”

“Plant Alchemy,” Snape clarified. “It is a lesser known branch of Alchemy, involving the uses of developing medicines, elixirs, and tonics from plants rather than trying to transfigure a Philosopher’s Stone. The symbols are an alchemic cipher, but I have limited understanding of the subject. Your best bet is to check the Library for Alchemy related books since there hasn’t been enough demand for a class in almost a decade and the Headmaster is quite busy. If that is all…”

Harry got the hint and left without another word, shutting the door silently and allowing the Potions Master to go about his business, heading towards the Library.

The Library was lined with thousands upon thousands of books, millions of pages waiting to be perused from the Invisibility Section to the Restricted Section, which tempted students with forbidden knowledge much like the proverbial fruit. Of the hundreds of sections, only so many could be monitored. No once checked the Legal Section for example, given that teenagers and pre-teens rarely thought much of the law, but the Restricted Section was always was being guarded in some manner.

Harry did not want to try to circumvent the defenses for the sake of the fruit with a standard Bedazzling Hex. Common sense dictated that, due to the fact that Invisibility Potions were taught in Third Year, they would have appropriate counter measures. Then again Sirius once claimed that under James’ Invisibility Cloak he managed to get in…

Shaking his head, Harry decided to forgo perusing the Reference Section, where he spent many days learning of various counter-curses during last year’s in-house fighting with Stephen and Morag. That could come later. For now he ventured to the front desk, where the Librarian was waiting.

Madame Irma Pince was somewhat of a daunting woman if you crossed her by violating the rules of the Library. However, she was quite knowledgeable about many things and professional. With her help he easily found the rudimentary alchemic text and the book containing the Flushing Draught he needed by the time Lunch ended and made his way to Defense Against the Dark Arts.

The class started with a whimper, instead of a bang, as Gilderoy Lockhart proceeded to introduce himself in the manner he was accustomed to. Unimpressed and, even more so, disturbed when the man tried to quiz him on the books he forced most of them to buy, Harry promptly decided to ignore him and buried his head in Healing Drafts and Medicinal Concoctions for Beginners that he took from the Library.

“What are you doing?” Lockhart asked once he noticed the lone sheep not following the herd, quill scribbling on the parchment. “You’re supposed to be taking the quiz.”

“I’ll take the failing grade,” Harry stated, head still in the book as he found the page with the standard Flushing Draught. He was confident he could make it on his own, given that the main ingredients were Dandelion Roots, Nettle, Betony, and Aqua Vitae, all of which were available at the Apothecary Department or Herbology Department.

Dandelion Roots were known for their ability as a detoxifying agent for the human body, with the best results coming from roots two years of age or older. That was only enhanced when used with Nettle, but was it better to use fresh nettle or dried? It could be used both ways for different things, like fresh for Boil-Cure Potion or dried for the Herbicide Potion.

Betony was something of a panacea for centuries amongst the non-magical population, known as the Woundwort or Heal-All. The whole plant was a medicinal alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. While he made plans to look up the majority of the big medical words he understood it was one of the Jack-of-All trades when it came to medicinal plants, and that was before you unlocked the magical properties during the potion-making.

Aqua Vitae were the distillates of wine or spirits, water that was left behind in the distilling. It was commonly practiced by European Alchemist in the middle ages, but not much more was mentioned on that end, and was to be used to fill the cauldron and serve as the solvent for the other ingredients. All together, under the proper preparation, they should be able to flush out the remnants of standard potions and elixirs.

However, the draught didn’t work on everything alone. Rather, it served as a cleanser to antidotes when it came to poisons, ridding the body of what was already rendered null by the antidote and the excess to prevent the toxins from building up and causing problems once again. In the case of Euphoria it would hasten the process of ridding the body of the irrational happiness by washing away the essence that spread throughout their system.

Lockhart huffed at the response as he reached for the textbook. “What is so more interesting that my lesson?”

The attempt was countered as one of Harry’s hands came up and struck it like he was reprimanding a child with his hand in the cookie jar, causing the adult wizard to pull it back. Terry, seated next to him, and a few others attempted to stifle their laughter and barely managed to succeed. Still, he wanted an answer so Harry gave him one in the form of a question. “You’re the current DADA Professor, correct?”

“Obviously,” the professor stated.

“Then why aren’t we following the curriculum?” Harry asked. “DADA isn’t an elective and we have OWLs and NEWTs to deal with in the future, thus going off tangent for a quiz is hardly appropriate on the first day when it should be a review of last year or a lesson of what’s to come. And, while I personally encourage getting to know one’s educators, it’s one thing for it to be getting to know your teacher for five minutes or having a healthy rapport with them, it’s another entirely when you’re basing an entire quiz on your autobiography books that you expected them to read and memorize prior to class starting when some people have been shown to be unable to finish them.

“If this is going to be another case of History of Magic I may as well study on-topic when away from distractions of the class and focus my attention on more urgent matters than a quiz that makes you look like an incompetent glory-hog,” he finished with a note of finality in his tone.

Lockhart was about to respond to that when several of the more vocal females came to defend him, leaving Harry to note that hormones beat out logic this time around. Few of the males spoke out in Harry’s defense. Luckily, either in agreement or an attempt to make up for last year, Terry was one of them.

“Harry’s right,” he said, his voice calling forth the sudden glare of the others. He tapered off a bit, but he continued his defense. “For all his faults Quirrell actually taught us what we needed to know so that in his…absence…we could easily pass our final exams so long as we paid attention in class. This isn’t going to help us in the long run.”

“Yes, well whose fault is it he’s not around anymore and had to settle for this man?” Stephen Cornfoot said, leaving Lockhart scandalized by both the blatant insult prior and underlying words current. He did not like Lockhart either and valued the class since it was a practical application of combat spells. The only reason the class was ruined was because he was here to replace the man Harry murdered.

Harry’s eyes narrowed as they came up from the book. “What are you implying, Cornfoot?”

“It doesn’t need to be said,” Morag stated before he could respond, glaring up at Stephen next to her at his outburst. “We don’t want the professor getting the wrong idea about our house. It has been shown, repeatedly, throughout the last year that Potter’s actions are not those of Ravenclaw. Please ignore him, Professor Lockhart.”

Harry actually agreed with her. “The shepherd is right. Just ignore me for the moment, less problems all around. If anyone gets killed because they ran into something they didn’t know how to defend themselves again, I sure they won’t blame it on you for being a substandard teacher.”

“How can you judge him when this is only the first class?” Isobel asked, before anything further was said.

Harry looked at her incredulously. From what he knew of her personality he expected her to be less enthralled by the man’s tales of his adventures than the other girls. He opened his mouth to counter her…when silence ensued as he realized she was in the right.

Seeing she had the advantage she pressed it. “Professor Quirrell seemed, at first glance, to not be suited for the position, but did he not prove himself in the end as an adequate teacher since, despite his departure, we all passed? Is it possible you are overlapping your expectations onto the professor unfairly due to your kinship with the man who taught you the spell you are so fond of in hopes of spurring you to greatness? Though the mantle of the position has changed, Lockhart is still our professor and I’m sure after this he’ll prove he’s the man he says he is.”

Harry brought his hand to his scarf at the mention of the fallen professor. She had a point, the class wasn’t over and Harry may have been spiting the man for the sake of the mentor he had to put down. While he never announced it openly that he learned to conjure the Gytrash from Quirrell, he did mention that he was mentored under him on the train ride last year and anyone with a brain could tell where the spell came from. More so she came at him with a logical argument rather than citing something he expected of a fangirl of Lockhart.

Then he remembered that Morag didn’t defend Lockhart’s credits either, only asking him to ignore the comments that could be seen as a blight on the Ravenclaw house. He would bet she knew he was a fraud as well, or at least embellished in his tales. Harry then realized the MacDougal sisters may not see eye-to-eye, much like he and Gene, but they weren’t as naïve or easily guided as most others in their year and house.

In his own terms Morag was the Shepherd, leading the flock through words and actions that she felt best represented the house and grade through the use of her Herding Dog, Stephen. She wanted conformity amongst her year, and perhaps the first-years, to raise their knowledge as a whole to best represent Ravenclaw, which her family had been sorted in. If the price was everyone else’s individuality then so be it. Galleons to Knuts she stopped the potion tampering during regular Potions class last year after Turpin and Fawcett were sabotaged to prevent the loss of anymore points or lowering the average grade.

Isobel, on the other hand, was ordered to keep an eye on him last year since he was the Black Sheep. But she told him honestly and expressed that she held some sense of sibling animosity, much like he had with Gene. How much of it was fake and how much was real was unknown, but it benefitted her. Added in that she helped him in transfiguration beforehand for supposedly knocking her sister down a peg, she ensured he got a decent grade along with Padma and his gratitude, which she could claim was to keep the grading curve high if her sister asked or request a favor from him if she needed it that year.

Then she cut Harry from being acquaintances because of his reputation and bluntly admitted it was to save face when in the privacy of the train. She did not refute the olive branch he offered yesterday, despite the reputation still holding sway, but she didn’t openly accept it and kept her distance all day until she spoke up now. Isobel painted him as someone still grieving and, at the same time, could influence the lesson since Lockhart had to do something relevant to DADA to save face in front of his young and impressionable students, who could write home about whatever he did next. No, she wasn’t some sheep.

She was a tactical Wolf merely pretending to be a sheep, playing things logically and setting things up to come out in her favor…or Harry could just be over-thinking things. It could go either way. He would need to pay closer attention to her.

Still, he accepted his defeat and put away the book. “I concede to your argument. Well-played.”

She nodded in acceptance and then addressed Lockhart. “Is that sufficient for you to continue, Professor Lockhart?”

Clearing his throat, Gilderoy Lockhart decided to finally assert his authority as a Hogwarts instructor now that she had handed him a means to save face. “Right, well said. This young man is clearly still lamenting the loss of the previous professor, whom he was close with it seemed. While understandable, he will have to serve a detention for disrupting the class, during which I will inform him of the many ways my work have benefitted those all over the world in defending against dark arts and creatures.”

Harry shrugged off the desire to say that was cruel and unusual punishment. Detention was nothing to him. But being forced to listen to him gloat about everything he’s done was pure torture at its finest.

Lockhart then proceeded to stroll over to his desk, where he pulled from underneath it a large cage covered in a cloth. “Now, this exercise was to come twenty or so minutes later, but it seems that now would be prudent. Feast your eyes on the first menace we will be tackling this year!”

He pulled away the cloth to reveal the cage was filled with tiny, humanoid creatures covered in coarse black hair. They had shiny beetle-like wings, an additional set of arms and legs, and a double row of venomous teeth. They were Biting Fairies, also known as—

“Freshly Caught Doxies!” Lockhart announced in a low and dangerous tone. “These tricky little devils are known for their habits of infesting homes and laying their eggs. But, never fear, I will show you how to deal with them without needing copious amounts of Doxycide.”

“Then why is there a bottle of Extra-Large Doxycide on your desk?” Michael Coroner pointed out.

“Never fear, you have nothing to worry about,” Lockheart assured him. “It’s just an extra precaution, nothing more. You can never be too safe.”

Well, that is a legitimate reason, Harry thought to himself. Let it never be said Lockhart was stupid. Easily manipulated to save face and a glory-hog, maybe, but not stupid since he did graduate from the school. Not that it stopped Harry from pulling out his wand anyway.

It was proven to be the right call the moment Lockhart opened the cage and they managed to overwhelm him in short order and tossed his wand and the bottle out of the window. Lockhart may not have been stupid, but he was certainly wasn’t brave. The moment several bit him right on the money-maker, his face, Lockhart made for the door like he was fleeing a fire. “I’ll leave it you students, hands-on experience and all! If you need me I will be seeing Madam Pomfrey about an antidote and some dittany so that it won’t leave a mark!”

And like that they were left to cope with the venomous annoyances in their own manners. Stephen used them as target practice, Isobel and Morag did some nifty charm work, Terry used the Ventus Jinx to slam some into a wall, and Harry used as wide Freezing Spell (Glacius) to make Doxycicles before they managed to herd them all into one place and he trapped them all in a Bubble Cage Jinx (Ebublio) when Lockhart returned.

“Well, that was fast,” Harry mused. They were on the third floor and the Hospital Wing was on the first floor. They were only at it for two or three minutes top and he had brought Madam Promfrey with him. She looked displeased at him, for the record, her hands carrying Dittany and Antidote to Uncommon Poisons.

“Class is dismissed early. Anyone bitten please see Madam Pomfrey immediately for an antidote,” Lockhart stated, before muttering under his breath he was going to try something less venomous next time, like Cornish Pixies. He passed by the Bubble Cage housing the captive things and gave them a glare, before entering his office.

“So, what are we supposed to do with the little blithers?” Terry asked as he watched them try to bite down on the cage. “They can’t get out can they?”

Harry shook his head. “Please, this is magically altered air in the shape of a bubble. Magic or elements only can break it, no matter how sharp their teeth are. Maybe a fairy could get out since they have their own magic, but these little monsters only have their teeth and that’s not going to help them out. As for what to do with them, the bubble will dissipate naturally in thirty minutes without any effort on my part. Plenty of time to let some of the carnivorous plants in the Greenhouses have a taste, or we could easily release them outside on our way to Herbology…I’ll flip a coin on it.”

After Herbology

After Herbology ended with them replanting some of the Mandrakes, since that seemed to be the first lesson for all the second-years in Greenhouse Three, the school day was officially over. No more classes, just homework, breaks, dinner, and socializing. Huzzah! As Harry was on his way back to Ravenclaw Tower to shower before he ate and spent some time in his private workshop in Myrtle’s Bathroom, he ran into Millicent.

Her demands were rather obvious. “Give it back, now.”

“How did you even get your hands on it?” Harry asked. Considering that Gayle ran the contraband trade at camp and the Weasley Twins could smuggle in goods, it paid to be in the know about these things for…reasons.

“Why should I tell you?” Millicent demanded.

He arched an eyebrow. “Because I’m still holding onto the bottle and there’s no way you can technically get it back since you aren’t supposed to have it. Also, I keep it in my pouch, which is sealed with some spells that a second-year can’t break and you can’t forcibly stop me from reporting it, which means Madam Pomfrey will have you screened randomly for potions in your system you aren’t supposed to have and notify your parents.”

Her face went through a myriad of expressions on her face, anger, shame, and betrayal being the prominent ones. “You little—”

“I’m just screwing with you,” Harry jested as grabbed her hand and flipped it upright, before retrieving and placing the Bedazzled bottle onto it. Just in case of any curious eyes were trying to pry as to what a Slytherin and Ravenclaw were doing together. “That will wear off in about a minute, so slip it into your pocket.”

She took a moment to feel the bottle in her hands before she put it away. Then she turned to leave without another word, only to be stopped as Harry gripped her wrist. When she looked into his eyes, she saw that beyond the frames was a serious expression.

“Joking aside, you skipped class, left me with the Potions workload alone, and got completely high on liquid happiness,” he stated, his tone serious and low. “Is telling me really going to hurt at this point or should I assume you’ve got a potions problem?”

“Why do you care?” she ground out. Millicent just couldn’t figure him out. “What do you get out of this?”

“Aside from the fact that, as I said, I’m making friends in multiple houses?” he asked rhetorically. “If I see someone with a problem that I can help with, and they haven’t pissed me off, I help them. I’m not out to change the world, but maybe a couple of people here and there.”

“You are such a pain,” she said with an exasperated sigh. “Fine, I took it from my mum’s cabinet before I left, since I figured I would have to deal with another year of the looks and words and Snape and insults about needing a beautification potion from that twig, Pansy…”

“Well, I could give you some a speech about you being pretty enough as is, but given that I’m a boy and twelve I doubt it would mean much,” Harry began.

She nodded. “True.”

“But do you think that appearances matter, in a world where we learn to make potions and cast spells that allow us to tell genetics to screw off over the course of seven years?” Harry asked bluntly. “I sincerely doubt Pansy looks all-natural and she’s a bully who gets her jollies from bringing others down and surrounding herself with those she can drag along. As for the professor, he gets on everyone. The moment you were gone he got on me about being too nice apparently, but I don’t take it personally. ”

Millicent gave him a once over before shaking her head. “Whatever. So, you’ll keep your mouth shut, yeah?”

He nodded and they parted ways, with Harry entering the Common Room before the dorms. Students from multiple years were present, from Marietta Edgecombe and Cho Chang making their way to the staircase to the Girl’s Dorm, to Padma reading a copy of Transfiguration Today with Sue Li next to her and reading a copy of Witch Weekly, to Nanette Desford and Maria Glossop taking a pause from their game of Exploding Snap to look at Luna Lovegood, who skipped around with her wand behind her ear as she made her way to the Grey Lady at the bookshelf.

He also noted the absence of Morag and her herding dog. He wondered what they were up to until he spotted a girl walled off in a corner. He recalled she was named Rebecca, another first-year like Luna, Nanette, and Maria.

She looked to be of Asian-descent and wore her robes over her sweater and shirt as she floundered with a pill bottle. When it finally opened up she gingerly took out a capsule. It quickly went into her mouth and down her throat.

“What are you doing?” Harry asked, causing her to jump in a mild shock and spill the rest of the pills as she turned to face him.

She looked to the ground with a dour sigh and kneeled to pick them up one at a time while she addressed him. “I get these headaches and the pills were supposed to help…”

“Sorry about that,” he said as he kneeled to assist her. After the issues with Millicent he just wanted to make sure that no other student had a potion-binge or pill problem due to the stress of the first day. Even if he would admit he was tempted to have nicked a few nips of Euphoria when he had the chance. “Out of curiosity, have you seen Madam Pomfrey about something for it since arriving?”

She nodded. “I have, but the potions are nasty. I’m Muggle-born and my parents own a health shop. They made me gelatin capsules with a blend of powdered herbs. It’s not as effective as the potions, but the trade-off is worth it.”

Harry nodded at that. He could see some value in using them rather than carrying many vials and bottles of potions around, but the capsules were small so he would need to increase the potency and reactive time to match the potion’s effectiveness. He made a mental note to see Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey about it.

What he said out loud was, “Have you thought about asking Professor Sprout and Madam Pomfrey about magical herbs that could do the same and have your parents use them in aiding you instead? Even if they aren’t capable of magic your magical aura will trigger a feedback from the magic in the plants once ingested. You can take the best of both worlds instead relying solely on one.”

“I…I didn’t,” she admitted as they put away the last of the pills. “I’ll see about it. Thank you.”

With that done he made for the showers and cleaned himself up before slipping into some casual clothing to go to visit Myrtle, after stopping at the Herbology and Apothecary departments for supplies, and then to dinner for a bit. Once it was getting late he went back up to his dorm and settled in for the night to write four letters—one to Arthur Weasley, one to Sherry, one to Arnold, and one to Flourish and Blotts’ owl service.

The one for the elder Weasley was to ask how his pet project was going with the television. It turns out that the some of the components of the television contained minerals with magical properties, which throw off electronic ones when near a source of magic, such as a magical aura and spell residue. If they could find out how to isolate them then it would be possible to get it to work. Some study of mineralogy was needed and the order to Flourish and Blotts was to get that.

Arthur could be used as a proxy to give one to Sherry, so he could talk to her more since they hadn’t seen each other physically in some time and he missed her. The one to Arnold was to be given to Sherry as well to be delivered through the regular postal system. Harry had gotten the address when he went over and felt he should maintain communication with him since he was one of the few people on the other side he could contact.

Once those were done he took a deep breath, laid his pen down, and thanked Merlin that what seemed like an impossibly long day ended.

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