Chapter 13: Parselmouth
November 18th – Dumbledore’s Office
Dumbledore sat patiently at his desk and stared at the young man before him while sucking on a Lemon Drop. Fantastic things they were. It calmed his nerves and, paradoxically, made staying up the night more bearable with his advancing age.
He pressed the bowl forward and offered one to him. “Lemon Drop, Harry?”
“…Thanks.” He was hesitant to take it. Understandable, given the circumstances he found himself in. Naturally, after the professors were informed of the situation, Harry was brought into his office for questioning. “Will Rebecca be okay?”
“Madam Pomfrey revived her shortly after we retrieved her,” Dumbledore told him. It was a good thing he had Mandrake Restoratives bought by Mundungus. He didn’t ask how he got them, only that he did without a paper trail due to Severus’ suspicions about purchases being monitored by the council’s budget department. “Miss Hawthorn will be fine after a day or two of observation.”
Tension seemed to leave the boy’s shoulders. “Did she see who did it?”
He gave a short, single shake of his head. “She seems to be unable to recall what happened after she entered the bathroom in search of you.”
And the tension returned. “Well, I’ve given you my version of things. I was looking for Myrtle when Peeves tricked me into that slug chamber. It took hours to find my scarf when the little bast—er, poltergeist tossed it there. Seriously, there’s like a lost city down there.”
“That chamber should have been locked,” Dumbledore said. He made a note to check and see if Argus still had his key. While the poltergeist could technically use telekinesis, it preferred to maximize the number of people who ended up caught in its mischief.
“So am I in any trouble at all?” the young Potter asked.
“No,” he said. “But because there have been two attacks near that location, we will naturally be sealing the entrance to the bathroom. Your supplies have been sent back to your tower. ”
It was three actually, but the young boy didn’t need to know of Myrtle’s condition. Not when they were seriously considering whether or not to bind her inside of the classroom until the case was solved, after she had been un-petrified and questioned. Severus argued she was too big of a security risk at present, and if the assailant didn’t think that at least one of their attacks was successful then they may escalate. He didn’t find it in him to disagree exactly, even if it didn’t sit well with him.
Harry frowned but nodded. “I understand, even if not to my liking. I can deal with that later.”
“Then you may go,” Dumbledore said. “There’s a Prefect waiting to escort you to your tower and will see you back safely.”
“Great.” He hopped out of his chair and made for the door, murmuring under his breath about finding Peeves and Myrtle. Dumbledore just sighed as he left out, thinking of the more important issue at hand here.
With Miss Hawthorn, her memories seemed have literally stopped the moment she ended up being petrified. The last thing she recalled was hearing someone speak in a foreign tongue and then nothing else until she was revived. Even with the Mandrake Restoratives, which they should have had more in stock to begin with, it would take at least a day for the stiffness in her muscles to fade away entirely. That was fortunate, but it could have been worse had she suffered the same fate as Argus’ cat.
While the young Potter was not likely the culprit, it stood to reason that either he was being framed as the one behind the attacks… or that he had possibly been the target all this time. The question then would be what to do.
He could inform Harry of his suspicions, but they were a steadily solidifying theory at this point and the boy’s reaction was unpredictable. There was no sense in worrying him if he could help it, especially with the emotional issues over Qurriell’s death last year. The fact he braved the Slug Pits for that scarf and the outburst with Lockhart had been evidence enough that he hadn’t recovered from staining his hand at a young age, something Dumbledore could sympathize with.
He could remove the boy from the school grounds, sending him home for any number of reasons to complete his education later or in an alternate location. But whoever was responsible could likely move onto another target. Not to mention he would likely think he was being ostracized because of his reputation, which could lead to more problems in the future.
He could have the professors keep an eye on him, more than they already do. But the boy was fond of scurrying out of their sight for his own reasons and would likely notice the extra-attention. The response to that could be negative as well. What about one of his friends then?
The aged Headmaster mulled it over while sucking on a Lemon Drop, wondering just why anyone would target solely him if the theory was correct….
“Engorgio,” Harry said somewhat dully as his wand went through the motions. The block of wood that had been on his desk swelled in side, growing vaster as he allowed the spell to continue its work, until the point where the wood creaked and splits formed. He cut it before it could explode and sighed.
Harry had run out of places to check for Myrtle now. There was no sign of her. And Peeves, without his constant pursuit of her, was proving himself to be elusive as well. He supposed all he could do now was wait for one of them to show up of their own accord.
Time passed and Harry had just finished class when his favorite Hufflepuff approached him, in spite of the bags under his eyes from wandering the halls at night under the Bedazzling Hex. She regarded him for a moment with what looked to be concern. He brushed it aside preemptively. “I’m fine. What is it?”
“We heard you lost the use of your bathroom,” Leanne told him. Because she used the plural ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ Harry presumed she was speaking for Gayle. “We would like to extend our hand to you and offer you a place to do your work, in exchange for your services—if you’re interested, of course.”
Harry raised his brows suspiciously in thought. “What exactly would she want me to make? The camp was one thing, but I’m not insane enough to try to make something like that here.”
“Nothing of the sort you’re thinking of. Just some minor brews and potions, aids for studying and the like that others are either too lazy or unskilled to make, with minor tweaks to the formula. You’ll be paid, though not as much as market value and the room will be yours to use how you see fit provided you keep it to yourself.”
He mulled it over. He needed someplace to work now that the bathroom had been off-limits. His housemates were insistent that he didn’t try and make anything there, and privacy was one of the reasons he loved Myrtle’s Bathroom. No one entered there with her around because of her reputation, even if it was unfortunate for the girls in the school to have their washroom options cut down by one, and she watched his things just in case someone would try and mess with them.
He cleared his throat. “Well, I still have questions about how you can cordon off parts of the castle so easily, but call me interested if you’d be willing to show me it.”
Leanne smiled. “Follow me then.”
She turned on her heels and walked out with her robes shifting behind her. He followed her as they went up to one of the higher corridors, whereupon he walked past an inconspicuous door while glancing at their surroundings. That was when she came to a stop.
“We’re here,” she said. The knowing smile told him something was off. He looked around carefully, reaching out to the wall and touching the stones and inconspicuous door, only to find nothing amiss.
“…okay, I’ll bite. Where is it?” he asked. She handed him a small stone with a rune emblazoned on it. The moment it touched his skin, he became away that the inconspicuous door was actually something he should have noticed. He just… he just thought it was part of the background. “Was that Notice-Me-Not charm?”
“Mmm, something like that,” Leanne said with a wry smile as she opened the door.
“How did she cast that on a part of the castle without any noticing?” Harry warily stepped inside of the room. “Trust me, I’ve tried to cast spells on the castle itself but the magic its steeped in can slough off a lot of them beyond physical and surface damage, and I’d suspect Dumbledore would notice.”
Leanne pointed to a stone that was fixed on a pedestal. “I don’t know the specifics, I’m afraid. Gayle said that she had custom ordered the rune designs, and that this was the one keyed to the keystone I gave you. We don’t even take runes just yet, but I have toed the waters when she lets me read her book on it and this design is the most complex thing I’ve seen.”
Harry took a closer look. It wasn’t just a stone, but a runestone. The designs etched on it weren’t familiar, nor was the stone itself. The pedestal also had runes, no doubt to prevent it from being moved and probably other factors like the range of effect.
Leanne continued after giving him time to take it all in. “Because of the runestone, this room is largely forgotten by everyone and everything that can be affected by magic. That means you’ll have to keep the keystone you have on you to get in because, even if you know the location, you won’t be able to notice it intentionally, even when pointed out.”
“What’s stopping someone from copying one?” He held up the stone between his fingers. “If you take a memory potion or have a sharp enough mind, what’s stopping someone from doing that?”
“She did explain that simply memorizing the pattern or trying to copy it won’t work, they have layers of small runes hidden within the surface rune, all needed for it to respond appropriately—which is why it’s considered a rather complex course and breaking them in tombs and the likes requires an expertise. Not to mention that the magic also requires a certain type of medium, not just the design. The same goes for the keystones.”
“Which means that if they can’t be comprehended enough for the magic formula to be copied or have the appropriate materials, then she controls how many keystones are in circulation,” Harry reasoned. “That means no one can make extras, and if there are a number of different ones then she knows who can access what room at all times. She probably has a master keystone too, and I bet that they have some sort of safeguard to prevent someone who isn’t allied with her from using it within the rune design, sort of like an off-switch.”
“Sounds like her,” Leanne reasoned as she dusted off a chair to sit in.
That was something else he picked up on. Unlike the rest of the rooms in Hogwarts, he noticed it seemed a mite… dirtier. It was clean, but not the sort of clean you got when a House Elf went to town on the place. For example, there were patches of dust forming rings around one of the cauldrons that hadn’t been moved in some time, overlooked by a human eye.
He was reasonably impressed. “It even prevents the elves from noticing the room inside of the spell it’s projecting, and I bet unless you destroy the stones or disrupt the connection that won’t change. There’s no telling how many of these rooms she has hidden all over the castle either, and given how big it is but there are so few students that parts of the castle aren’t even used frequently… okay, I’ll admit I’ve underestimated her when it comes to resources at her disposals.”
Indeed. The only thing he could think of that could match this was the Fidelius Charm he had heard in mentioning once when his mother broached the topic about hiding away Remus during the Full Moon some time ago. He didn’t have the full details, but he could take a guess at how it worked.
“So, still interested?” Leanne asked.
“You had me sold the moment you opened the door,” Harry said. He’d still need a public lab of sorts, for when he wanted to do some work but needed others over. And a place to meet with Myrtle until her bathroom was no longer off-limits…. now that he thought about it, his Gytrashes still couldn’t find her. What if she stumbled into one of these rooms? He brought it up to Leanne.
She shook her head. “No, I’m pretty sure she had these stones ordered with the ghosts of the different houses in mind. If that was the case, she couldn’t willingly float into one to hide. I can ask Gayle if I can check them all though.”
“Thanks,” Harry said. The gratitude in his voice was as clear as the day.
“I am a bit surprised you’re so worried about a ghost though,” Leanne added. “Is she that important to you?”
“… She’s to me what Gayle is you,” he said after some thought. “You mentioned how you and her met when you were at your lowest and she lifted you up. Myrtle was there for me when I was at my lowest after having to kill Quirrell.”
She looked surprised at that. “You really did kill him?”
“I’m not going to lie about it you,” Harry said. “He was possessed by a wraith the entire time he was working here and wanted to kill my brother. I couldn’t exorcise it, so I did what I had to in order to save Gene. He had been one of the few people I trusted outside of Myrtle and She—another person outside of Hogwarts so, when I found out it was a ploy to manipulate me, you can imagine how I felt after that.”
Despite how he had been, alone and neglected by his family in his heart, Sherry had been the one to get him to accept things didn’t have to be that way. She put him on the path to studying, a path different than one where he would have been stuck under his brother’s shadow and constantly clawing to get out of it. Others followed after her, but she was the one who opened the door for that to happen.
Myrtle provided an unbiased ear, unconcerned with their house points and happy to have the company. An eternal victim in need of a protector, always alone and in need of a friend, she was someone whose needs could easily be filled by Harry’s presence. The protectiveness he felt for her afterwards and the companionship she offered could be measured by the void he felt in her absence.
“Never once did Myrtle betray my trust. She was there with me through my lowest points, where everyone else abandoned or turned against me. I don’t care whether it was out of genuine kindness or just a need to have a friend after so long being ignored or just to have someone to ward away Peeves, but she was the one who consoled me. Isn’t it natural that I would do everything in my power to see that she be happy and well?”
Was it a healthy relationship? Finding himself closer to an older woman who came from across the sea and… well, Myrtle would technically be even older than Sherry, wouldn’t she? He felt safer and unguarded around the two of them more than anyone else, and even when they learned of the things he had done they had never betrayed his trust.
That was also why, somehow, he was going to deal with Peeves… permanently.
He flinched when he felt Leanne’s touch against his skin, having laid a hand on his cheek in an effort to console him. “What are you doing?”
She pulled it back. “Sorry, it’s what Gayle does to me when she’s trying to cheer me up. I suppose it’s awkward for someone else.”
“A bit, yeah. Seriously though, don’t tell anyone what I’ve said here and now,” he said, emphasizing the importance. “I’d rather not sour our partnership over personal details.”
She shrugged with a pursed but wry smile and gestured to their surroundings. “What’s one more secret between us?”
December – 17th
Around half-a-month and a ‘I-will-not-blab-or-bring-unapproved-people-into-the-lab’ contract with Gayle later, Harry was standing on the sidelines as a stage had been set for a Dueling Club in the Great Hall.
So far the month had been a bore for him beyond getting to break-in his new laboratory that Gayle provided. The things she asked him to make were standard concoctions that were normally available to anyone with the time to brew them, true enough. Except most of them had a little twist to what went into them, giving them side-effects that added to their values in the eyes of those who found them desirable: a hint of Euphoria in a Pepperup, combining a Brain Elixir and Beautification Potion for a ‘Beauty and Brains’ package—he didn’t know where she got the Unicorn Hair for it from and he didn’t ask—and things like that.
He had to tweak the initial formulas since most of them weren’t meant to be blended. That meant experimentation and a lot of it, but she supplied the materials while he simply did the research and labor. His skills were ultimately better for it.
Hagrid had liked his birthday gift too, which was something Harry was proud of. He didn’t mention the cost of it, since the man would likely be too modest about accepting it, but he did owe him for last year’s gift when he wasn’t likely to get one from anyone else in the school this year… not like how Quirrell had done for him.
Harry remained nestled around a grouping consisting of Rebecca, who had recovered from her ordeal, his usual acquaintances, and Ginny next to Luna. He wasn’t participating since he had gotten into another argument with Lockhart—to no one’s surprise. Harry had been in an ill-mood and less tolerant of the man, and that likely wouldn’t be improved until he had to return home for the holidays. Not because his parents insisted, but because he wanted to see Mister Weasley and Sherry again.
Currently, Snape was made to oversee the duels to avoid any mishaps, which he moved to do by conjuring shimmering walls between the different pairings so that they didn’t hit anyone by accident, sending the entire hall into chaos. He also made it clear that anyone who used any spells that weren’t within the limits of what they were supposed to would suffer greatly in untold ways… involving a trip to collect slime from Slug Pit, having derived some sort of use for it.
Harry shivered at the memory of when he was stuck there. Slime got into uncomfortable places too much for his liking. The horror.
Things went about as well as he expected after the initial volley. Most of the students, inexperienced in the art of dueling and lacking any decisive spells, resorted to schoolyard jinxes. Honestly, he and Stephen had done better during their spat last year.
In the end, Stephen, Gene, Draco, and Terry were the exceptions. Lockhart, naturally, followed up and decided to have them duel one another on the stage. The first up were Stephen and Terry, the two Ravenclaws from different circles.
“What am I doing here?” Terry mumbled to himself as Harry stood off to the side of him, barely at the level of his knees.
“Losing,” Harry said bluntly. Terry gave him a look that spoke of offense. “You’re on a straight-shot stage with someone who has a duelist mentality and practice. One-on-one, with no cover, and very few spells you didn’t learn from the same classes as him. And everyone knows this—it’s a question of when you lose, not if.”
“So what? I give up now?”
“That or come at him from abstracts,” Harry said. “That’s how I did it the first year.”
“The duel you lost during broomstick practice?”
“Tied,” Harry insisted. “The point I’m making is, take away his advantages—his line of fire, his comprehension of spells, etc. Keep in mind the spells we practiced in private and don’t shout the spell you’re using—it’s a focus, not a decree.”
Terry’s face scrunched and then his eyes seemed to perk up. He had something. “I’m not sure if this will work, but—”
“Start the duel!” Lockhart announced.
“Expelliarmus!” Stephen cast. He clearly didn’t see the point in dragging this out. Terry wasn’t someone he wanted to beat or even saw as a challenge. The fact that he fell backwards to dodge only reinforced that.
At least until Terry held his wand up and casted, “Fumos Tria!”
The next second afterwards the stage was filled with dense smoke contained inside of the invisible walls that had been put up. Like it was trapped in a bottle, it built up and both wizards disappeared from view. There were brief flashes as Stephen tried to cast spells in his direction. The familiar sound at key points of spells hitting something hard like a gong made Harry smile, to the confusion of those around him. But it was clear that Stephen was starting to choke as they heard him coughing.
“If you don’t stop the duel he’s going to suffocate!” Morag called out to the professors overseeing it. “That spell wasn’t one you said he could use! He’s cheating!”
With two swish of Snape’s wand, the smoke and walls were gone to reveal that Cornfoot was doubled over and hacking up a lung while Terry was coddled behind an upright, enlarged Silver Shield with a Bubble-Head Charm so he could breathe. Snape levitated the downed boy to take him to the Hospital Wing, just so that they could make sure there were no long-term problems caused by the smoke inhalation. Morag glared in their direction before she spun on her heel and followed them out.
Terry hopped off the stage and came down next to Harry. “So, was that abstract enough?”
“Honestly, that was too abstract for me,” Harry admitted. “Walk me through it after the smoke, bubble, shield and enlarging spells. I heard him cast the Disarming Charm a few times and hit the shield. It should have gone flying.”
“A Sticking Charm to hold it to the ground while it was upright,” he said. “That way his Disarming Charm didn’t rip it from my grip. After that, I just kept thickening the smoke until someone called it.”
“I would have sent him flying, but your way was good too. You took advantage of the environment and the fact that he wasn’t likely to know the Bubble-Head Charm because you’ll rarely find a need for it in a duel where you typically rely on offensive spells. Though the fact that you were cowering behind a shield might not win you any points,” Harry pointed out. “And you’d better not take anything you want to keep to the Slug Pits, because judging from that look Morag was giving us she’s going to push for that to be called cheating.”
“Let’s continue the duels!” Lockhart declared, in spite of everything. “Mister Potter and Mister Malfoy, take the stage!”
“What if the same thing happens?” one of the other students asked as Gene and Draco headed towards the stage. Lockhart’s response was to not put up the invisible walls. He regretted it when, as the duel commenced, Draco ended up hanging upside down by his ankle using James’ spell.
“Snape would be pissed if he saw this,” Harry noted.
Rebecca overheard him and asked, “Why?”
He shook his head. “It’s private. Besides, Gene made the same mistake he did with me by letting him keep his wand.”
“Serpensortia!” Draco cast, conjuring what looked to be a rattlesnake in front of Gene. The broken eye contract in the threat of the poisonous serpent caused Gene to drop Draco flat on his face and turn his wand to it.
“Impressive,” Harry noted. Conjuration of that nature was Sixth-Year material. Qurriell told him so, and considering the work he put into his Gytrashes he didn’t doubt it. It wasn’t an authentic animal, but a construct of magic that was as close to the real thing as it could be.
Of course, the price of not putting up the safety walls became apparent when Gene hit the snake with a spell to send it flying away. It landed hard at the edge of the stage. Like, right in front of Harry and Terry—the former of which briefly wondered if it was intentional until said snake decided to chime in.
‘Hurt,’ he heard the snake say as it looked towards them. ‘Bite.‘
“Don’t you dare,” Harry said, feeling a slight strain in his throat as he pointed his wand at it. Then everything got abruptly quiet, and he felt the weight of many people’s eyes on him. He looked around to see they were staring at him confused—including the snake. “What?”
“How did you do that?” Terry asked.
“With your mouth,” he clarified. “What did you say?”
“I said for it not to bite us,” Harry said. “You’re right next to me. How didn’t you hear that?”
“Rebecca, what’s wrong?” Harry heard Luna ask. He turned his head to see that she and Ginny were by the other first year, who had gone pale despite her complexion and was backing away from him.
“That’s the same voice I heard before I was petrified,” she muttered. “Not the same words, but… something like it.”
“…why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like where this is going?” Harry asked. The rattling of the snake’s tail drew Harry attention back to it and away from the girls. It was getting agitated again. He sealed it in a Bubble Cage Jinx as Professor Snape returned and pushed past the students until he was right in front of him.
“What did you say?” Snape demanded. “I want the exact words you said to it now.”
“What did I do?” Harry asked. “Was I supposed to let the poisonous snake Gene tossed over bite me?”
“The words,” Snape stated with heat in his voice. “Repeat them. Now.”
“All he did was say for it to stop,” Gene said, still on the stage. He looked just as confused. “That wasn’t on purpose either.”
He whirled around to Gene and stared at him intensely. “And you can verify this how?”
“I heard him,” Gene said. “Clear as English can be, he said ‘Don’t you dare’ when the snake was going to bite him. What’s the big deal?”
“…Of course, it must be from James,” Snape said with a scathing note in his voice. He pointed his wand at the sealed bubble containing the serpent and made both of them vanish. “Both of you come with me to speak with the Headmaster, this instant.”
Harry turned to Terry and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Talk, now. What did I say that was so bad?”
“Harry, mate,” Terry started. “You were speaking to the snake… in the same language as it. That’s Parseltongue. And the fact that your brother understood it means he’s likely a Parselmouth too.”
Harry slapped himself on the forehead when he recalled the trip. It explained the Ashwinder talking to him. He should have picked it up sooner after his talk with Hagrid. Harry looked around to see others were paling at that, taking slow steps away and being cautious. “Let me guess, Parseltongue is a bad sign?”
Hermione, who had been making her way over, was hesitating to find the words as she spoke. “Salazar Slytherin was one of the most notable according to A History of Hogwarts, detailing his contributions and accomplishments. And with that message during Halloween, well…”
“She means one of you is likely the Heir of Slytherin,” Isobel said. There was a time for tact and sugarcoating, and this clearly wasn’t the moment for her. “If you take your reputation and how often you’ve been hanging out with their house into account, that’d be you. That’s why they’re freaking out.”
Harry swore as Snape, having lost his patience, proceeded to levitate the Potter brothers and carry them out of the Great Hall. Harry couldn’t help but think it going to be Quirrell all over again.
Chapter 12: Calm Before The Storm
Note: Okay, I know it’s been about a year, but to be fair I haven’t been updating a lot of anything because I’ve had to work more.
One week after Myrtle’s tale, Harry was still in the middle of musing over the information he had been told. The Chamber of Secrets had been opened in the past and something had killed her with a glance of eyes that were larger than a human’s. At the same time, the voice was a person’s, even if in a foreign tongue she hadn’t recognized.
Harry had thought to go over the various yearbooks stowed in the Library Wing from her years and run through a list of foreign wizards and witches to try and see if she could possibly pick one out who had something against her. Then they could try to figure out if their native tongue matched. But Myrtle explained that Dumbledore had attempted to do so back then and failed, as none of their native tongues matched and her enemies were many.
“Um, excuse me?” a somewhat timid voice called from behind him. He was in the Common Room, lounging at the Ravenclaw bookshelves in search for anything that would have relevance to the next assignment he had.
Harry turned around to find Rebecca standing there, with a small box to her chest. “Yes?”
“My parents finally sent this,” she said, holding the box out.
Harry took that as an invitation and opened the lid to see that it contained a capsule kit for making pills. “Ah, so you decided to ask them about my suggestion?”
She nodded. “I was hoping you could help me with it?”
He adjusted his glasses and smiled. “Be happy to. But if that’s the case we need to make a little stop first at the Hospital Wing. Since we’re working with medicines it would be prudent to get the advice of Madam Pomfrey before we start. And to make sure there’s safety precautions—don’t want another shrinking incident.”
“What shrinking incident?” she asked, following him out the door.
He winced. “Let’s just say being surprised by a ghost while handling half-finished potions leads to your clothes scrunching up in places you never want them to and your voice goes up a few octaves.”
In Myrtle’s defense, she apologized.
Not really sure where to go from there, Rebecca kept silent as the pair descended down the winding stairs of their own tower. They traversed the corridors until they came upon the Hospital Tower, entering it from the Grand Staircase at the fourth-floor corridor to reach the Madam Pomfrey’s Office and the Hospital Wing.
Harry knocked on the office door first, only to hear a soft voice beckoning them to enter. Inside the office was a bookcase, a desk, two closets, two extra beds for patients who needed extra privacy, and Madam Pomfrey’s bed closed off by a curtain. The matron herself sat at the desk, a spherical lamp glowing with a soft white light that illuminated the pages of the book she was reading.
“How may I help you both?” she asked.
“Madam Pomfrey,” Harry said. “We wanted to ask for your opinion on something….”
Harry went into detail about how he figured they could place potions into pills by enlargening the capsules, filling them, and then shrinking them down. That would allow for them to be taken as need without having to lug around bottles or dealing with the less-than-pleasant taste of some of them.
“It’s a fairly solid idea, but I’m afraid it may not work out in the long term,” the matron said once he was done. “From what you’ve told me the pill casings need to be dissolved in the stomach acid correct?”
She continued. “That takes time and there are a number of ways for the spells used on them to wear off even if the effects don’t. Shrinking spells are active and the amount of effort put into them will determine how long they remain in that state, but it will eventually be undone. Same with preservation spells. You can’t have them suddenly growing inside the bottle, or the patient.”
“What about potions?” Harry asked. “Like a Shrinking Solution we covered in class. Those are meant for long-term or permanent use.”
She shook her head. “Cowbane and Wormwood are components of it. It’d be toxic if ingested, unless you’ve found some way to neutralize that without taking from the purpose of the potion. In other words, you’d have to reinvent the shrinking potion from the ground up.”
Harry furrowed his brow at that, but ultimately nodded. “I see. Thank you for your input. We’ll be on our way.”
“I would recommend you stop across to the Hospital Wing,” she added as Harry and Rebecca stood from their seats. “Your brother is there recovering.”
“Oh right, there was a Quidditch Match earlier today.” Harry wasn’t interested, so he hadn’t attended. “Did he get hurt?”
She ruffled a bit. “His injury was a minor break from what I was told but, rather than come and get me, Professor Lockhart saw fit to exercise his own medical knowledge and ended up removing all the bones in his arm. They are in the process of being re-grown.”
“Sounds painful,” Harry mused. “I guess I’ll see him on the way out then.”
The pair closed the door and stood outside her office, with Rebecca looking somewhat downcast. “So it’s impossible after all.”
Harry shook his head. “No, it just hasn’t been done yet. This presents an opportunity.”
She tilted her head. “For what?”
The smile on his face was almost bestial in how it stretched wide. “Innovation, in a nutshell, and profit. We simply need to make a shrinking solution that’s edible. A substitute for Cowbane and possibly Wormwood would be best, but they’d have to have similar magical properties to work for the shrinking.”
“That doesn’t sound as easy….” In fact, it sounded out of her league by miles. “If someone hasn’t done it yet, then it can’t be.”
“Progress is rarely easy.” He put a hand on his chin. “Still, it seems interesting and I can use another project now that the Howler Busters for the year are done. I’ll ask Professor Snape and Sprout about any reasonable substitutes later on.”
Rebecca shifted in place next to him. “You don’t have to… I don’t want to waste your time or anything.”
“I insist,” he stated. “We can discuss more on it later, when you’re showing me how this works. That won’t be a problem, will it?”
Her dark hair swayed as she shook her head. “No, I’d be happy to. In fact, I remember my dad mentioning being able to make pills from herbs and a binding agent of some kind once. I’ll send him a letter and ask about it.”
“Please do,” Harry said, waving farewell as she made her way back to their tower. Once she was out of sight, he drummed his hands against his thighs in thought. I’m going to need to find someplace to work out of that’s more sanitary that a bathroom now. I hope Myrtle will understand.
He then entered into the Hospital Wing door that stood opposite Madam Pomfrey’s office. It was fairly empty, minus his brother whose face was contorted in pain as his muscles were forced aside and then stretched over the newly grown bones that used his body’s memory to recreate them.
“I always knew that one of these days you’d end up here from playing Quidditch,” Harry said. Not the most soothing for words for the injured, but since when had they had anything but a less than an amicable relationship? “If I were a lesser man, I would laugh at your pain.”
“Not. Funny.” Gene exhaled and shook his head. “Bludger went out of control. Snape blew it up before it came around for a second time. Think he was aiming for me.”
“No, he wouldn’t have missed.” Harry leaned down near his arm and focused on his ears. “I can actually hear the bones re-growing. I would have had Lockhart’s head on a silver platter if he did this to me.”
“Listen,” Gene hissed through gritted teeth. “You were right.”
“I’m right about many things, but you’ll need to clarify.”
“That…agh…House Elf you mentioned before,” he grunted. “I-I think…ahhh that hurt… I think it was here.”
And just like that all signs of humor were gone from Harry’s face. “When and why?”
Gene waited until there was a pause in the bone regeneration before he explained as quickly as he could. “It said its name was Dobby, and it claimed it was helping me at the station and during the match. To keep me safe, but it didn’t say from what.”
Harry raised a brow, clearly skeptical about that claim. “If this is and the train station is helping, I don’t want to see what it would do to its enemies. Did it at least say who it belonged to?”
Gene shook his head. “It started hurting itself when I asked, so it has to be an abusive owner to ingrain that sort of behavior.”
The younger of the twins scratched his head as he mulled over that information. If it wouldn’t spill willingly, they would have to trap it and work from there. But what was it protecting Gene from? Was it whatever was lurking in the Chamber of Secrets? If that was the case, how did it know about that?
There were too many questions and not enough answers. It only added to his list of things to figure out.
“Mmmnnnnn….” Gene grumbled, clenching his teeth and pursing his lips to keep from screaming out. When there was another pause in the growing pains, he exhaled thickly and started panting. “That’s brisk.”
Harry found himself actually pitying Gene. At least when he hurt someone, he tried to make it quick and to the point. This was just torture. “You know, I could stun you. It would probably be more merciful.”
Gene shook his head. “I need to be conscious so that if the bones are off when growing, I can feel the pain and Madam Pomfrey can make sure it doesn’t tear open blood vessels or the muscles.
“Well, sucks for you,” Harry told him. “From the sound of it, you’re the one who it’ll likely appear in front of, so see if you can catch it or something. I’ll look into some things on my end.”
The conversation died there as Harry made his way out.
That evening, Harry sat next to Terry in the Great Hall with a notebook open, scribbling down possible substitutes for the poisonous components for the Shrinking Solution. He had thought about asking Professor Snape, but he figured he should at least make the effort to look through everything feasible before doing that. The man gave him some advice, but he couldn’t allow himself to become reliant on someone else that much after what happened to his mentor and the mess last year.
If he didn’t try to do this on his own, he wouldn’t be able to progress further by his own merits.
Harry was so engrossed in his studies that he didn’t notice when Filch came into the Great Hall and strode hastily to the High Table to whisper into Dumbledore’s ear. The Headmaster gestured for the other staff members to move and then cast the Amplifying Charm on himself.
“Attention,” he said, his voice carrying itself across the hall despite being so soft. It grabbed the students’ eyes and ears with little effort. “There has been a minor matter that needs to be addressed for the next hour or so. During that time, the Great Hall will be sealed and under the watch of Professor Lockhart. Prefects, please meet me outside, and the rest of you be on your best behavior.”
Murmurs stirred at the end of his speech as the staff moved in a straight-line towards the doors, the prefects joining them as they exited through the massive doorway. The double doors then sealed shut.
“Weird,” Terry said, next to Harry. “What do you think that was about?”
“Don’t know, don’t care,” Harry said absentmindedly, still searching for alternatives for his new project. “Busy.”
While things at the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables were rather placid, tension between the Slytherin and Gryffindor were escalating. Gene and Malfoy were exchanging silent threats and gestures from across the tables. Then Crabbe fired the first shots and magically threw a pudding cup over toward the Gryffindor table, hitting Ron and eliciting retaliation.
His spell flung a cup of pumpkin juice that missed as Crabbe ducked and splashed a number of Slytherin girls, with Millicent being the one who caught the most of it. She glowered at him, grabbed a plate of frosting-covered pastries, and tossed the entire thing. The splash damage caught a good portion of the students at the opposing table as well as other tables.
It was at some point, between the first two volleys and Lockhart noticing that this was starting to get out of hand, that a charm was cast on the doors, preventing noise from slipping out as someone screamed, “FOOD FIGHT!”
Unaware of what was transpiring on the other end, or too preoccupied with the more immediate threat, Dumbledore issued commands to the assembled staff and prefects.
“Prefects, I need for you to search for students gathered on each floor and ensure that they all report to their Common Rooms. There will be at least two professors on the floor with you nearby, so if you encounter anything strange or unusual, immediately call for them. I have temporarily lifted the school’s anti-disapparition wards on the interior so they will be there in a flash.”
They nodded and then departed to the different floors, escorted by the professors. They weren’t sure what was going on, but it must’ve been important.
Dumbledore then turned to Filch and Flitwick “Argus, show Filius all the secret entrances you know about and he’ll check them for any spell-work having been done, just in case there was an outsider present. After that, find Peeves and send him to my office. Tell him he has no choice on the matter.”
The caretaker gave a hurried nod and murmured something to Professor Flitwick, who grabbed his pants’ leg and disapparated with him as his side-along. Dumbledore then ordered Hagrid to search outside the castle entrances with his hound, Fang. That left Snape and Dumbledore, who made their way towards the site of the accident.
They arrived inside of an empty classroom where they came across the petrified body of Myrtle. Filch claimed that he came to the room after hearing Peeves telling him to clear up all the tears before she flooded another room. When he arrived she had been like this.
Dumbledore stood off to the side and worked spells to check the room for dark magic while Snape did the same thing to the body. Very few things could affect a ghost and render them petrified, and even fewer have roots that aren’t stained in blood or darkness. It bode ill tidings for Hogwarts, more so when he couldn’t find any trace of magic being used to enter the room.
“It’s the same dark magic, Albus,” Professor Snape said. “The same that killed the cat. The question is why the noisy ghost was targeted. I would suggest un-petrifying her to learn of what she knew, but Mandrake Restorative is meant to be used on the living, not a ghost. I would have re-work the formula to properly restore her.”
“For now we will have to keep this between the staff,” Dumbledore said, stroking his beard. “As for why she was targeted, I have a theory. Mind you, it isn’t the best.”
The Potions Master gestured for him to continue.
“Miss Myrtle here died during the first opening of the Chamber of Secrets,” he said. “Given the warning painted in blood, and where it occurred, perhaps we should take that into account and assume the perpetrator attacked her in an attempt to silence her.”
“The girl knew nothing of importance,” Snape pointed out. “You questioned her, and we scoured that bathroom for traces of the magic that killed the cat afterwards and found nothing. If that is the case, then the assailant didn’t know either.”
Dumbledore nodded. “And since we’ve ruled out the staff entirely, it still leaves the students as the only viable option, unless more evidence of outside intrusion comes to light. But information on the Chamber of Secrets shouldn’t be easily obtained unless their parents or grandparents attended decades ago, and the sheer power needed to cast such a spell is beyond a great deal of them.”
“Albus,” Snape started, “I understand you have reservations about using Legilimency on students. But we need answers, and we need them soon.”
“…only the students who are 5th year or higher,” Dumbledore agreed after an audible pause. “Surface level thoughts related to the crime in question, and you must inform me. I trust you Severus, don’t let the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in stress that.”
Snape gave him a nod. He had no desire to lose that trust, but if it came to that he would regretfully do so to prevent Lucius from winning. “I’ll be subtle about it, starting with anyone who they find out of the Great Hall for the moment. But there is one more matter that comes to mind, Albus. What if the ghost told someone else?”
“We’ve established that she didn’t know anything,” the Headmaster stated.
“Perhaps, but it’s possible that she lied to us and neither of us could skim her mind in her undead state,” he reasoned. “Students are naturally wary around professors, but she’s close to Ravenclaw Potter, a fact that isn’t lost on anyone observant. He should be questioned as well.”
“That may be best for now,” Dumbledore reasoned. “I’ll ask him myself once the investigation is over.”
“It may also be prudent to relocate all the students to the Great Hall to sleep while we comb the school and the grounds thoroughly tonight,” the Potions Master suggested. “An hour isn’t nearly enough time for a full investigation.”
“I’ll discuss it with the other members of the staff to see if it’s necessary after we’ve questioned anyone the prefects have found. If none of them are guilty then it may very well necessitate such a thing.”
After that the conversation tapered off and they sealed the classroom that Myrtle was in. It was best if this remained secret, lest they invoke a panic. The rounding up and questioning of students who weren’t in the Great Hall led to no solid clues either, though the ones who were either occupying a broom-closet or other dubious activities would be reprimanded at a later date.
Thus, Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall proceeded to return to the Great Hall… and found it to be a warzone of food and drink, tables flipped over to serve as barricades and food being fired with basic spells to act as shelling. They were utterly speechless, and thus went unnoticed, until one of the students went sailing in the air in their direction. McGonagall gestured with her wand and stopped Neville from hitting the wall near them, someone having used him as live ammunition.
“Oh, thank you professor!” he said gratefully as she put him down against the wall.
She didn’t hear him, instead bristling and looking for the one who was supposed to have been in charge past the flying food. Lockhart had been knocked unconscious by what appeared to be a large chicken on top of his head. She raised her wand and let loose a loud bang that turned all eyes to her.
“Children,” she said, her voice carrying a scolding tone. “Do. Not. Play. With. Your. Food!”
That signaled the end of the fight, leaving Luna, Terry, and Harry to crawl from beneath their cover. They had been spared the onslaught courtesy of a Silver Shield that was enlarged and propped against the table at an angle. It acted as a lean-to that weathered the storm of food and drink. Isobel and Morag had also shielded themselves adequately, while the rest of the hall didn’t fare much better.
Dumbledore was much softer spoken, even as his voice was amplified. “It’s good for you to enjoy yourselves, but such things must be done in moderation and with a more appropriate level of control. We will wave punishment for this incident, but please bear that in mind for the future. ”
With a swish of his wand, the room was pristine and all traces of their food-covered figures were just as clean. Sleeping bags and pillows followed up. They appeared in neat rows with their house colors.
“Due to an infestation of Doxies, we must ask that all of you sleep inside of the Great Hall, with the prefects and Minerva on monitoring duty, while the professors handle ridding the infestation tonight,” he lied. Not that anyone thought to question him on it once he added, “And classes will be canceled tomorrow as a result.”
Murmurs resulted as the other students who were outside of the Great Hall came flowing in, questions abound. Most were happy for the break from their studies, while a few were distraught like Miss Grainger. Dumbledore focused instead on approaching the Ravenclaw encampment, where Harry was scribbling in his notebook.
“Harry,” he said softly. “May I have a word with you in private?”
The boy’s immediate response was, “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, no, I just have a few questions,” the Headmaster assured him. “It will only take a few moments of your time.”
Never once during the resulting discussion that followed did he let the fate of Myrtle slip through his lips.
November 12th – With Harry
Harry found Hermione inside the Library, next to a student named Lily Moon. He presented her with the notes that Sherry had that he promised. “Here you go.”
“Thanks,” she said, before staring at him like she wanted to say something.
Harry crossed his arms and said, “What is it?”
“You seem a bit… off,” she said, a noticeable pause in her voice. “Are you okay?”
“I’m quite worried actually,” he explained. “I haven’t been able to find Myrtle for the last few days. She doesn’t usually hide from me, and the Gytrashes can’t track her scent down for some reason. It’s almost as though she’s vanished completely.”
“Oh….” He could tell from her expression and tone that Hermione tried to sympathize with him, but found it hard to do so. Myrtle wasn’t exactly the most well-liked ghost and it took time for her to grow on others. Still, she tried and offered her assistance. “If there’s something we can do to help—”
He cut her off. “It’s a personal matter, so just focus on making sure to prove your point. You have enough to deal with as is.”
Her lips pressed thin, but she didn’t say anything.
Harry took that as his cue to leave to continue his search for his wayward companion. It really did worry him that he couldn’t find her. The fact that she had gone missing the night that he had been pulled aside and questioned on whether or not she told him anything about the Chamber of Secrets didn’t sit right with him either. He had lied to the Headmaster to protect her, but now he couldn’t find her and when he asked around among the staff they were tight-lipped.
“Where are you Myrtle?” he murmured to himself. There was little time left until the period after Lunch, and he had gone over everywhere he could think of already. He sighed to himself and then resolved to keep looking for her….
November 18th – With Terry
Terry Boot stared at the concoction in the vial that his friend, Anthony Goldstein, had given him. The vial was filled with a lime-green liquid, a flower and its branch stewing in it for some time from the look of it. He swished it around in the vial slightly and frowned. “And I’m supposed to drink this, why exactly?”
“Because, I need to see if it works,” Anthony said. “If I’ve got the formula right, it should give you Seer-like insight.”
“No.” Terry shook his head and held it away from him. “No way, man.”
Anthony pouted. “You’d do it if it was Harry’s.”
“He usually tests it on himself first and knows what he’s doing,” Terry countered. “I’m no genius when it comes to potions or herbology, but this seems shady. There isn’t even a spy-sp-gra… a plant alchemy class in the school!”
“Look. I spent a half-a-month making that,” Anthony said. “None of it is harmful, I checked on all the ingredients myself. It’s supposed to mimic a Mopsus Potion, meaning you might get telekinesis and see the future. Be a mate and just try it, please?”
Terry sighed to himself and removed the cap. “The things I do for my friends….”
Before he could take a swig, he heard a small voice saying, “Excuse me?”
He looked behind him to see it was Rebecca, the first-year he occasionally saw Harry talking to. “Yes?”
“You’re Harry’s friend, right?” she asked.
“I… yes,” he said, after some consideration. “At least I’d like to think so. Why?”
The first year shuffled her feet. “I’ve been looking for him, to ask him some questions about some things, but I haven’t seen him at all today.”
“Now that you mention it, I don’t think he even attended class,” Terry said. “I guess he’s still searching for Moaning Myrtle, or in her bathroom.”
“I’ll go check there then,” she said, leaving him behind.
Terry watched her go through the entrance and then turned his attention back to Anthony, who continued to pester him. Terry sighed again. All the components were thought to be harmless for the most part, so what was the worst that could happen?
He took a swig. The liquid slid down his throat while the branch and flower remained inside the vial. He smacked his lips at the taste. “Not bad, actually… but why is everything purple?”
Anthony blinked and then combed through his notebook. The pages were lined with the plant and liquid, observations and a few hypotheses about the outcome. He stared at one part in particular and then looked grim. “Whoops…”
Terry immediately went on the defensive. “Whoops, what?”
“I may or may not have gotten the dates of the planet’s positioning wrong,” his soon-to-be ex-friend said. “I’m… reasonably sure there are no lasting effects… I think?”
About four hours later, after visiting Madam Pomfrey and receiving a scolding about testing without taking the proper measures and consulting an expert, Terry could see in a multitude of colors once more as the Flushing Draught cleansed him of the effects. Thus Anthony remained his friend, with the condition being that he owed Terry and he wouldn’t be gullible enough to cow to his peer pressure again.
That was when Isobel approached him, looking annoyed. “Have you seen a first-year named Rebecca? She’s missed the study-session my sister put together, and I have reason to believe she talked to you last.”
“She went looking for Harry hours ago,” Terry said. “I told her to check Myrtle’s bathroom.”
A disgruntled noise slipped out of her mouth. “I don’t feel like going down all those stairs, but I suppose we have no choice. Come on then.”
“Why do I have to go?” he asked.
“Because I blame you for the reason I’m not curled up in front of the fire and reading a decent book,” she said bluntly. “Plus, that bathroom is near where that blood was written over the walls. Though I can handle myself, I need an adequate guard… but you were the best I could find.”
Terry thought about saying something in retort, but given that she had an eyebrow raised, as if inviting him to say something to dig himself in deeper, he opted against it. Today was not his day. “You know what? Fine, I’ll go with. I need to speak with Harry if they’re together anyway.”
Together they ventured to the bathroom. The good news was that they found the pair together, albeit in a compromising position. The bad news was that, by compromising, it was more a crime had just been committed with her as the victim and the one responsible for her condition kneeling over her.
Rebecca was still as stone, unmoving with a pair of thick goggles on her face that looked half-melted, while Harry’s eyes looked bloodshot, his hair disheveled, and he was covered in… something that was equal parts slimy and slick. It was understandable that they both flinched when he rose to his feet, panting, and turned to them.
“I know how this looks… but I found her like this,” he said between breaths, putting his wand down and his hands up in a placating manner. “I’m innocent… again.”
“What happened to you?” Terry asked.
“Peeves,” he said, calming his breathing. “I chased him into the dungeons to get some answers about Myrtle…things happened and I ended up trapped for a few hours without any light in a pit the size of the Quidditch field, surrounded by slugs, with my scarf buried under them.”
“Ewww….” Isobel said, again understandably.
“It took a while to find, and I may have blown the door open to get back out,” Harry continued. “I came back to clean myself up. Even Scouring Charm wasn’t cutting it, but I keep things on-hand here for potion spills and such… that’s when I found her like this, on the ground in front of the mirror….”
“What’s wrong with her?” Terry asked.
“I don’t know,” Harry admitted. “I’ve tried to dispel whatever it is, but I can’t. Someone needs to go and get one of the professors… other than Lockhart, I mean.”
“I’ll do that,” Isobel said, stepping backwards while keeping her eyes on him and reaching for her wand as subtly as she could. It was a nice cover story, but she honestly didn’t buy it completely and whoever did that to the first-year may be lurking around. “Boot… be careful and watch yourself.”
Once she hit the door, she opened it and stepped out of view. Her footfalls could be heard as she broke into a sprint before the door closed completely. The professors would no doubt be there in less than five minutes.
Harry wasn’t looking forward to the upcoming inquiry.
Chapter 11: Second Halloween
“Are you ready yet?” Myrtle asked her date for the evening impatiently, with her voice barely tempered as he carefully plucked a Lily from one of the jars that they grew in. It was rather fitting that she sounded as excited as a girl going to the prom, despite her actual age being in several decades older than the twelve-year old escorting her. Then again, the dead didn’t age.
“Just about,” he said, thankful for Neville’s plant growth serum. The flower was in full bloom well before its time, the solution having done the trick. The book he inherited from Quirrell stated ghosts loved the species of flowers, and he owed Myrtle for all the things she’s done for him, so he had bought them for her. With a set of tongs in hand he dipped it in a bowl with a luminous silver potion and pulled it out to find the flower now had a silvery glow lining it. “Here we are.”
“Oh Harry,” Myrtle said, a hitch in her non-existent breath as he set the flower into her school uniform like a corsage. The potion, which he had also learned through some digging through the text that his late mentor bequeathed him, would give that with form that ability to touch that without form for a limited amount of time. The only problem was that it was easily washed away by oils and water. “It’s beautiful.”
“I’m glad you like it,” he stated, before gesturing towards the door. “Shall we go?”
She nodded and the pair left the confines of her bathroom on the first floor. The corridors were abandoned for the most part, but the cacophony of dozens upon dozens of students chatting in the Great Hall could be heard from behind the grand double doors in the distance. Listening to them, a thought came to her mind and left her wondering if it was okay to keep him from the feast.
“Are you sure this is okay?” she asked him. “Aren’t your friends inside the Great Hall for the feast?”
“I wouldn’t have agreed if I minded, Myrtle,” Harry assured her as they walked towards the dungeon staircase that led below. From there they followed the poorly illuminated corridors and made a turn as they the tune of somber music reached their ears. It was then they approached the entrance of the party hall for the event, the path lined with obsidian-hue candles that burned with Bluebell flames that felt as though they sucked away heat itself. The entrance was covered with black velvet draperies that were watched by a single ghost with the attire of a butler.
“Moaning Myrtle and one guest,” she told him as they came to a halt. The ghost nodded and pulled back one of the curtains to allow passage, before gesturing for them to enter. Inside the room they found a gathering of ghosts familiar and unknown.
The Hogwarts Four were there, Nearly Headless Nick wandering round and greeting the guests to his party, the Bloody Baron being given plenty of space, the Grey Lady was observing the floor from a corner, and the Fat Friar was near a man in chains while talking with a knight that had an arrow in his head. There were over a hundred ghosts at a glance…and Gene?
“What are you doing down here?” Harry asked his brother, who was looking rather bored at the spectacle.
Gene shrugged. “I owed our House Ghost a favor when it came to Filch. He asked me to show up. You?”
“Favor to Myrtle,” he answered, nodding to the girl next to him. “And as if I’d pass up such an event for a feast. This is something that seems quite interesting.”
Gene put off the minor urge to call him a nerd and instead turned his attention elsewhere. He didn’t find it to be too fascinating overall. It was cold, the music was like fingers on a chalkboard, the atmosphere was gloomy, and the light was ghastly. Not to mention the wall of smell that hit him the moment he tried approaching the long table covered in black velvet that was littered with ruined and inedible food that had would add any human who ate it to the number of the ghosts.
But a favor was a favor. While Hermione and Ron decided to go to the feast instead, he always paid his debts back. His dad taught him that.
Harry, on the hand, seemed intrigued as looked around at the many ghosts that lingered around and their various causes of deaths and moods. He even gave the Bloody Baron a nod, which the menacing specter thought upon but returned with a slighter nod. It was then he spotted the Grey Lady and recalled he owed her thanks.
“Myrtle, may I have a minute to talk to the Grey Lady?” he asked, to be polite. “I owe her a thank you for helping me with a problem.”
“Sure Harry,” she said. “You’ll come back for the dance, right?”
He nodded. Granted, he didn’t really know how to dance but he could try.
It seemed good enough for her. Watching him go she smiled and then delicately touched the flower he gave her. It was then that Peeves came over with a jar of peanuts while smiling in his mischievous way.
Ignorant of the Poltergeist at the moment Harry approached the Grey Lady and gave her slight bow. “Might I have a moment of your time, Grey Lady?”
A light nod of her head followed. “You may.”
“I wanted to thank you for your help with the young girl form before,” he said. “Luna seems happier at the moment for the most part now that she can speak freely to her friend in Gryffindor and a few others in our house who surround me.”
“Your gratitude is noted, Young Potter. But perhaps you should tend to your escort,” the Grey Lady said as she pointed beyond his shoulder.
He looked to see there was Peeves, who was now pelting Myrtle with moldy peanuts and chasing her out of the dungeon as he chanted, “Pimply! Pimply! Pimply Myrtle!”
“Yes… I’d better…” Harry’s wand was in his hand before he knew it and he was on their tail.
Gene witnessed as the Grey Lady promptly decided to excuse herself after pointing out Peeves chasing Moaning Myrtle. He figured she knew what was coming since she left straight through the ceiling to avoid being caught up in what would follow. Gene took a moment longer before he recalled the incident in their first day back and decided he didn’t want to be caught in it either, so he made to do the same only to be stopped as Sir Nicolas arrived to ask him about how he was enjoying the party. Then the Headless Hunt arrived.
It was clear their presence had an adverse effect on Nicolas due to his condition of being nearly headless rather than completely. That much was evident as the head of the hunt cracked a joke at Nicolas’ expense. However, no sooner than the ghost had finished talking did the barking of hounds and the screams of the Poltergeist decrying the hunt once more reach their ears.
Peeves burst in past the ghost at the entrance drapes. On his heels were three Gytrashes that seemed almost murderous. They quickly darted in between the ethereal mounts on the dance floor and around the hall, causing a disturbance.
In spite of it all the leader of the Headless Hunt cackled in jolly delight as he mounted his steed, the rest of his kinsmen doing the same. “Come along, Gents! It’s the Hunt!”
Gene wisely decided that his favor had been repaid and decided to split while the splitting was good. He managed to get out after the horses started following the hounds chasing Peeves and didn’t look back until he was safely on the first floor. From there he was planning on heading to the Great Hall to catch maybe a quick bite before the feast let out if he was quick enough.
That was when he heard a whisper coming from further down the hall. The voice made his stomach curl as it seemed overjoyed at the scent of blood being let, malevolence in it that was so thick that it sent a shiver down his spine as he pulled out his wand. Taking careful steps he came across a sight he hadn’t expected.
Mrs. Norris was unconscious, splayed on the cold stone floor with flickering flames from the candles between the two windows illuminating the text written in blood on the walls that read: ‘The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir Beware’. Kneeling over her was Harry with his wand in his hand and two fingers on the cat’s throat.
When he noticed Gene he immediately said, “This wasn’t me. I was trying to comfort Myrtle from Peeves making her cry. When I came out I found this written on the wall and Mrs. Norris…”
“The twins might have gone too far,” Gene mused as he put away his wand. While Mrs. Norris was loathed by the majority of the school none of them dared to touch the cat out of fear of its owner, who couldn’t be too far away. But who else would be so brazen to attack it with…a stunner if he had to guess by how the cat was unmoving but seemingly uninjured, and then to paint the wall with fake-blood he knew they bragged about making before for a prank?
Harry shook his head. “If this is the Twins’ handiwork then they’re getting expelled at the very least. There’s no justifying a prank this malicious.”
Gene blinked. “Wait? What?”
“You can’t tell because of the shadows being cast from the candles, but Mrs. Norris is dead,” he stated, stressing the last word. “There’s no pulse, no signs of any injuries or blood from wounds, no obstructions in her throat to cause suffocation, and the body is colder than it should be. I’d be tempted to think she just died of old age if it weren’t for the wall. Someone must’ve done this with magic, to spite Filch if I had to guess, between the time I left the party and less than a minute ago when I came out of the bathroom.”
Gene sucked in a sharp breath and realized that they probably didn’t want to be there. “We need to go find the professors before the feast lets out—”
As if to prove that Fate was indeed a cruel mistress he was cut off as by the clamoring of footsteps coming forward as the feast was let out and everyone was making their way to them. There was no time to act as those who led the packs stopped when they came upon the sight and silence fell.
Naturally Draco Malfoy was the first to speak as he broke to the front to see what the hold-up was. “Enemies of the Heir Beware. You’ll be next, Mud-bloods!”
Gene would be damned if he didn’t think that little weasel had something to do with this somehow. He just knew it. “This was you, wasn’t it?”
“You can’t pin this one on me, Potter,” Malfoy said. “You’re the one standing next to it.”
Before he could retort a cry came from the corridor behind them and rang throughout the hallways of the first floor, over the gathering of students. Gene’s head turned in timing with Harry’s and their eyes fell onto the caretaker, Filch, who broke through the crowd to see what was going on and dropped to his knees at the sight of his beloved cat laying splayed on the floor and limp, no life to be found. Looking to the two of them he cried, “You’ve killed her!”
No sooner than the declaration of a murder was announced did the professors of each house and several others gather around and pushed their way to the front of the packed hallways. Their eyes shifted over the blood writing and then the boys, one of whom was still kneeled over the cat with his wand out while the other looked angry. Not a good or innocent sign.
“Huh, only two months in and I’m already being framed for murder again…” Harry mused to Filch’s comment rather coolly as he stood and put his wand away. He then looked to the nearest professor as asked, “Should the rest of the student body be at a murder scene? Because that’s what this is. The killer is probably still around and they’re going to make things easier for them to slip away.”
Severus Snape bristled at that and spun on his heels towards the amassed students. “Everyone back to the Great Hall this instant or so help me you will all be scrubbing cauldrons until your fingers are bloody and raw. If even one of you is missing, everyone in your house will suffer the same as well!”
They didn’t need to be told twice. The students broke for the Great Hall in a hurry, their footsteps on the hard and cold stone floor barely stifling their murmurs and whispers at what they perceived had transpired. It was then Dumbledore appeared, latest but carrying the most authority.
Looking at the blood coating the walls and the dead cat, he then turned to the boys and said, “There seems to be questions that I will need answered from you both. Would the two of you please follow Professor McGonagall to my office while professors Sprout, Gilderoy, and Sinestra ensure that the rest of the students remain in the Great Hall with the door locked?”
“Mine is nearest,” Gilderoy offered.
“No, I suspect we need the utmost privacy,” Dumbledore stated as Professor Snape moved past them both and pushed Harry back three steps.
The Potions Master then briefly cast a spell on Mrs. Norris that neither of the Potters recognized and his face seemed to grow tense at whatever the spell had gleamed off the corpse. He then vanished the corpse, ignoring the tormented and anguished cry the wrenched itself free from Filch’s mouth. With only a glare towards Dumbledore he seemed to pass a message and made his way towards where Dumbledore’s office was prematurely.
Dumbledore stroked his beard and his mouth formed a pout. He then gestured towards the wall while looking at Flitwick. The diminutive professor nodded in understanding and headed to where the blood was written on the wall merely a foot off, while McGonagall ushered the boys towards the Headmaster’s office.
The Headmaster then took a moment to console the custodian. “I have an old friend who just so happens to breed Kneezles. I’m sure she can provide a young one for companionship. While it won’t replace the loss you’ve suffered, it is the only thing we can do until justice can be metted out… and I promise you, it will. But perhaps you should take the night off?”
Filch nodded bitterly and then turned away to make for his office, no doubt to drown his sorrows and grieve the death of his companion in private. He didn’t even have a body to bury her or make a grave with.
Dumbledore’s office, as the Headmaster’s office, was a circular room that housed the portraits of dozens upon dozens of former headmasters who once oversaw Hogwarts, remaining behind to give their wisdom to the current head and divulge their secrets. At present they were all asleep.
Resting on a perch was Fawkes, the phoenix that served as the familiar of Dumbledore and looking somewhat fatigued. It noted the boys and the presence of the other professors with a bout of curiosity, though it kept its focus on young Gene the most, to his confusion.
Standing by the trinkets and bobbles of silver instruments was Professor Snape. His arms were crossed and his eyes closed in thought. Professor McGonagall stood patiently with her hands overlapping one another as she kept an eye on the two boys sitting in conjured chairs.
Harry himself was more interested in the books that lined the shelves until the oaken door groaned as it opened. Dumbledore was there, looking all of his age as he entered the room and took his seat behind the heavy desk that stood in front of the shelf containing the Sorting Hat. Harry sat upright in his chair in anticipation of the questioning.
“Now boys, I trust you know why I’ve brought you here?” he asked. They nodded and he continued. “Vandalism and killing someone’s pet are both heavily frowned upon, but I feel as though neither of you would be responsible for such a thing. However, the timing is most curious, as well as your absence during the Halloween Feast. Can you explain the circumstances that led up to what transpired?”
“We were both in the dungeons,” Harry stated. “Every ghost in Hogwarts knows both of us were at the Deathday party below until…what, five or ten minutes ago?”
Gene nodded. “You can ask any of them for the two only living people who attended. We stood out.”
“What, might I ask, were you two doing at this event?” McGonagall asked in Dumbledore’s place. “As I am aware, the serving foods for Sir Nicolas’ festivity aren’t quite…palatable for those who still have earthly bodies, so to speak. Compared to that served at the Halloween Feast, it is an odd choice to attend.”
“A favor and the fact that I’m partial to spectral studies,” Harry said unashamedly. “Myrtle asked me to escort her there a few days ago and it seemed interesting. Once there I took a moment to speak with the Grey Lady and thank her for her assistance on a house matter. Unfortunately I had to leave prematurely afterwards to take care of some business involving Peeves and spent the next few minutes trying to calm Myrtle down when I left and came across the scene. When I saw the writing and Mrs. Norris I checked to see if she had a pulse and Gene found me…”
“Sir Nicolas asked me in my case,” Gene added. “After Myrtle left because of Peeves harassing her and Harry followed to stop it, the Headless Hunt came in and I didn’t get to leave until Harry’s…business caught up to me. On the way to the Great Hall I found Harry checking on Mrs. Norris when the feast ended and you found us.”
“Was there any chance someone sought to implicate you both for this crime?” Snape asked, missing his usual bite when addressing the spawn of James. His mind already singled out Lucius Malfoy, as he had warned Dumbledore that the game was afoot. But ‘how’ it was done was the question in his mind, as the ‘why’ was a good start to find out. “Who knew of your plans?”
“I don’t think this was even meant to be pinned on us,” Gene said. “Only Hermione and Ron knew where I was going. I don’t think they told anyone.”
“I kept my mouth shut about it completely, so no one knew but Myrtle,” Harry said on his behalf. “I think it was really just a case of the wrong place at the wrong time and we were caught in it. I’d say it was a prank, given how it was just outside the Great Hall where everyone else could see it when the feast ended, but even if the blood was faked the Twins aren’t malicious enough to kill the cat.”
“I can confirm that it wasn’t conjured blood or the type you would expect from the Twins,” Professor Flitwick confirmed as he appeared through the door. “It’s real, but all of the students are accounted for as of now and no one reported any major injuries that would allow for that much blood loss. So it’s most likely not human.”
“Then where would you get that much blood from in the school unnoticed?” Gene asked.
Harry shrugged. “Game animals from around the grounds, if I had to guess. Maybe taken from where the food gets prepared and then cooked, but I’m not sure where the kitchen is…”
“Leave that for us to determine,” Dumbledore stated. “I’ve heard your arguments and I’ll send for Sir Nicholas and Miss Myrtle to confirm your alibis. I must ask that you both remain silent about this matter for the time being, but rest assured we will find the ones responsible. In the meantime, Minerva and Filius, could you escort them both to the Great Hall and their tables. There should still be food left over and I’m sure they are both quite hungry.”
“Of course,” the Head of Gryffindor stated. “Come along both of you.”
“I swear every time I’m around you something bad happens, Gene,” Harry stated as they exited the room in the tow of the two teachers. “First the train station and now this…”
“This isn’t my fault and you know it,” Gene said in haste at the accusation. “You’re the one who was kneeling over the—”
The conversation was cut off as the oaken door shut behind the two boys, leaving Professor Snape and Dumbledore alone.
“That was Dark Magic that killed the cat,” Snape said immediately. “Nothing I’ve seen or dealt with in my time, but it had the taint of dark magic and was powerful to be certain. We have to take this as a sign and ready ourselves for more trouble by Lucius’ hand.”
“And what do you suggest we do?” Dumbledore asked as he steepled his fingers. “There was no outside intrusion and this time all the staff has been vetted, so we do not have an incident like the last year amongst the staff.”
“Then that leaves the students,” Snape stated. “From his little outburst I would hazard a guess he was responsible. It won’t take long to confirm.”
“The sins of the father do not transfer to the son,” Dumbledore said in a sagely manner. “Young Mister Malfoy is but a boy. If this magic is as dark as you claim I doubt he could be responsible. You may keep an eye on him, but go no further, Severus”
“Monitoring him alone won’t suffice,” Snape argued. “He is already wary of me at his father’s behest. That being said, those two he keeps by his side would make excellent and unaware spies with a little work over the course of a detention. All it would take was a slight nudging like a little voice in their heads to pay attention to any potentially useful information and store it in a partitioned section of their memories I can access with ease while leaving the rest of their thoughts untouched.”
“You’re talking about invading a student’s privacy every waking moment,” the Headmaster pointed out, “as well as tampering with the minds of two other students in the process, neither of which are acceptable.”
“That was Dark Magic and more than enough to kill anyone who was hit by it,” Snape countered. “Almost all the people in the castle could be accounted for in the feast at a glance and the Potters were the only ones missing at the time who had even an ounce of importance. You heard that they stumbled onto the scene possibly only minutes after it occurred and both had their wands and could put up some measure of a fight. Would it be that much of a stretch to think they were the original targets and the rest was to stir up trouble when the one responsible couldn’t find them before the feast ended without the risk of being overheard since they were on the same floor?”
“The point stands, Severus,” Dumbledore stated in a tone of finality. “For now we will keep our eyes and ears open while searching for the culprit. We’ll need to be subtle in investigating how it was done and on-guard for any future attempts, but do not read or tamper with any of their minds. Am I clear?”
“Fine,” Snape said with a sneer as he turned for the exit, his robes billowing. “But if I know Lucius this is only the beginning. He won’t stop at this, and you’ll wish you heeded my words.”
The Great Hall was abuzz with a cacophony of whispers and poorly masked accusations until Harry and Gene Potter entered the hall through its great doors, where it abruptly went silent. Nevertheless they followed as the head of houses guided them to their tables.
“Good, they left the food out,” Harry mused as he sat at a vacant seat that Terry and Padma had been reserving for him without being aware of his plans of attending the Deathday Party. “So, what did I miss?”
“The majority of our year was whispering how they thought you were finally going to get expelled,” Luna noted in an airy tone.
Harry raised an eyebrow and then looked around the table. The ones who didn’t meet his gaze were the ones to blame. He made a mental list of their names. “Hmmm… well, whatever. I’m still here.”
“Aren’t you worried you’re in a bit of trouble though?” Padma asked.
“Hardly,” Harry said with as much enthusiasm as a sloth as he stacked rolls his plate. He was surprisingly tired and the bread would at least be filling to last until morning. “Compared to what happened last year and the incident with a troll someone being a very crude prankster and cat-murderer is a step down—”
“Don’t remind me,” Terry cut in with a sigh. “Honestly, being chased down by something that size wasn’t fun at all. I thought it was going to tear us apart limb from limb before picking its teeth with our bones.”
Padma looked guilty at that. That was a very real possibility since they came for her and Hermione. None of them should have honestly made it out alive, yet they did. But it had been so close.
“Stop selling yourself short,” Harry said. “We all did well under the pressure, but it was your spell that stopped the troll’s club from harming anyone. Either way, what’s done is done, there’s no point in dwelling on it.”
“So you didn’t do it?” Isobel asked blithely as always, her casual indifference suggesting she would merely accept his answer without judgment. It didn’t really affect her either way. “You had nothing to do with the death of the cat or the writing on the wall?”
“Of course not,” Harry answered. “What was there to gain from it? Besides, I have an alibi that’s being checked and will come back clean, so I’m sure the matter will resolve itself without me getting into trouble for once. If anything I’m more annoyed that I got framed for something I didn’t do again.”
The conversation ended there and Harry ate in silence until the Headmaster returned and allowed for the students to return to their towers to go to bed early. Many complained, but after what transpired few were willing to argue and they all turned in for the night. Harry himself was well into dreamland when he was suddenly woken by someone whispering in his ear, only to find Myrtle floating next to his bed while everyone else slept.
“Myrtle, why are you in the boy’s bedroom?” Harry asked.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry,” she said. “If I hadn’t left so early you wouldn’t have followed me and you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble with Dumbledore.”
“I’m not in trouble,” Harry said, covering his mouth afterwards to yawn. His body demanded he sleep again. “I’ll be fine.”
Myrtle shook her head. “But the Chamber of Secrets is bad news, Harry. If they think you’ve opened it they’ll kick you out like they did the last person who opened it. They might even send you to Azkaban!”
Harry only shrugged. He was too tired for this. “I don’t even see what the big deal is. The professors haven’t mentioned anything about the Chamber of Secrets before so I wouldn’t know what it was or when it was last opened or who was responsible.”
“But you were with me,” Myrtle said. “That’s why the Headmaster asked me if I told you anything about it. I said I didn’t, but I don’t know if he believed me.”
Harry yawned again before he asked, “What does it have to do with you?”
She clarified it for him. “Because, when the Chamber of Secrets was last opened someone was killed. I was attending the school then as a student.”
“Who was killed?” he asked. Had he’d been more aware and not tired he would have picked up on the subtext there and put two and two together. “Was it someone important?”
She hesitated for a moment before saying, in the smallest voice she could manage, “Me.”
“Oh …that’s bad I guess…” It took another three seconds of dead silence before that clicked in his mind. His eyes snapped open and slumber’s hold on him was broken as he sat up. “That was incredibly rude and I am so sorry about that, it was the sleep getting to me. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“You’d better,” she said with a pout. She was upset to say the least, but she knew he would make up for it. “I don’t just tell anyone this stuff…”
Harry turned and set his feet on the floor. Leaning forward as the moonlight cast its rays into the bedroom where Myrtle floated in her ethereal state, Harry said, “You have my undivided attention now. What can you tell me about this Chamber of Secrets and the one responsible for your death?”
Note: Shorter chapter that I’d like, but it gets the point across and I was only covering one day.
Chapter 10: Favors & Friends
October 27th – Ravenclaw Tower
The autumn wee-morning was chilled by rain as Harry woke from his slumber prematurely. Sweat dotted his brow as he sat up with his pulse quick and pounding in his ears, the churning in his stomach preluding vomiting if he didn’t clear his mind of the visions playing over and over in his head of Quirrell’s death once more. It was a relapse of the recurring nightmares he thought had been settled in camp. He thought wrong apparently and would make sure to drink some Dreamless Drought later tonight.
Not willing to soil his sheets with vomit that morning, Harry promptly made his way to the bathroom and used the sting of cold water from the faucet splashing his face to help wash away the bitter thoughts until they were repressed and bottled away. Affixing his glasses to his face once more, he sat on the edge of his bed while his dormmates continued their extra hour of sleep before it was time to wake. Harry considered more sleep to be out of the question and to be replaced with something more productive as he fished through his trunk to retrieve his copy of Spectral Beings and Spells that once belonged to the man whose blood was on his hand.
Rather than remain in the dark room that was filled with snoring on top of the rain battering against the windows, he opted to go down the spiraling staircase that led into the Common Room of blue and bronze. To his surprise there was one other person there as well. The girl with dirty-blonde hair he had met earlier in the month, Luna.
She was on her knees in a nightgown as she spoke softly into a fireplace, speaking to another person on through a Fire-Call. Harry only arrived to catch the tail end of it as she said goodbye to the person on the other end and pulled her head free. She sat there on her knees afterwards, struggling to not to cry—a far cry from the girl the month from before.
Curiosity nipped at the young boy’s mind as he witnessed the scene, until it became too much to ignore and Harry decided to act. Stepping onto the midnight-blue carpeting that was strangely warm beneath his toes, he approached her with careful steps until he managed to sit on the couch behind her and let the squeaking of the springs notify her of his presence since she was too lost in her misery. “Are you okay?”
Words did not leave her lips, as though she was afraid they would betray her. Instead she nodded her head and stood. Without hesitation she quickly made her way to the staircase that winded upwards and towards the girl’s dorm.
Harry sighed and made a note to question Padma or Isobel about it later before pushing it to the back of his mind. Instead he focused on the textbook in his hand, the bookmarks that held individual colors marking topics of interest as well as the point he had left off on. In this case it was the Patronus Charm and what may very well be its origins, at least from the point of view of one who specializes in spiritual beings and creatures.
Spectral spirits have always existed, although they did not take the form of ghosts as easily as that of wizards and witches. Various cultures spoke of sprits that watched over those who they were a part of in the form of animals. In Nordic culture they were called Fylgja, in the Native American culture they were Guardian Spirits, existing in various cultures that he crossed during his travels, Professor Catullus Spangle of Charms of Defence and Deterrence hypothesized that the Patronus was a part of the caster that only appeared in times when needed to fend against an inhumanly evil threat such as Dementors and magic merely gave a solid form to that which had none. It was for that reason that the spell to summon a Patronus, ‘Expecto Patronum’ translated to ‘I await a protector/guardian’.
Delving further into the topic, Harry was only brought out of his studies when he noticed that students were stirring and venturing into the Common Room, meaning his window of private time was no longer open and he had to get dressed. Since it was a Thursday he had Double Charms, History of Magic, Transfiguration, and Potions. Closing the textbook, Harry rose off the couch and made his way towards the left set of spiral staircases to his dorm once more when he spotted one of the people he wanted to see coming down the opposite set of stairs.
Isobel MacDougal looked rather immaculate despite the wee-hours, not a hair out of place as she stepped down the final step while adorned in her school robes ahead of time, most likely to get in a quick read and then scurry off to breakfast. Since her sister normally had her keep an eye on them when he and Terry went off jogging since last year, it was probably hardwired into her to wake an hour early by nature. Harry asked her about Luna and got his answer in her usual manner of tone.
“She was cast out of the study group,” said Isobel factually, lacking any sort of personal attachment or interest. “She was already marked as weird because her dad publishes a gossip paper, but she didn’t help her situation with her…disposition causing distractions and defending you. Morag decided to leave her to join the Black Sheep herd—namely you, Terry, and Padma.”
“I see,” Harry realized. “The first and second year dorms may be on separate levels but you can freely access any one of your gender, can’t you? But she didn’t do anything else or have her Herding Dog do something?”
“She doesn’t need to,” Isobel stated. “Morag is in a position where the others in our year and below only need her to say that she’s not one of us and it pretty much gives the rest free reign when it comes to venting their feelings at being under Morag’s thumb. She’s an outlet, a sacrifice so the rest will get out their feelings of being cowed by at least saying that they are normal and she’s the outcast who it’s okay to make fun of because of that fact.”
To that Harry could only repeat what he belated mentor once said. “Kids are cruel.”
“Very,” Isobel added. “But you can see the effectiveness. By sacrificing one, she’s managed to keep the first years that are new to our world and those familiar on a tight schedule of study and managed to keep their grades at a reasonable level for the last month. In that aspect, I suppose she’s grateful for having you as a template.”
The twelve-year old’s brow arched in confusion at that. “Me?”
Isobel crossed her arms and leaned her shoulder against the wall, tilting her head as she met his framed eyes. “Of course. Reigning all the other students in our year to get decent grades and a study group is something that she can’t do with muscle and command alone. If there isn’t an outlet, the resentment would boil over constantly and she’d run herself ragged managing everything. You, being the one who stood out, made for the outlet for our year by losing us House Points at first with your attitude and the simple virtue of being the Black Sheep of Ravenclaw. Imagine being told you had to do something you didn’t want to or you would be bullied by Stephen, only to be told that someone else didn’t have to study as hard as they did and they could do what they want, bring down the name of our house, were cavorting with Slytherin, and so on.”
“Sacrifice the Black Sheep to the wolves so the others can get ahead,” Harry put together. “Those who bothered me directly got as good as they gave, so they became stealthy about it. They were able to take some kind of dark relief in outsmarting me, watching me become paranoid and angered while knowing that it would be difficult to trace back to them as long as none of the other members of my herd knew about it, or their friends who still hung out in the same circles. It let them feel good about themselves, better about their circumstances… ”
Harry could only sigh. “Your sister does know that she’s potentially creating sadistic little bastards, correct? Not the type of people who would be productive to her long-term goals, would they?”
“I believe that she intends for them to grow out of it once they mature,” Isobel offered as an explanation. “Empathy is something comes with age and circumstances, so she will allow it unofficially unless someone tries something that would be truly depraved and besmirch her House’s name. Then she would sic Stephen on them.”
“And the sad thing is she’ll probably get far in the world.” Harry couldn’t fault her logically or statistically speaking. Sacrifice the few to bolster the rest. But he could point out it was a bitch-move, incredibly cold, had a ten percent chance of turning him into a madman that would eventually kill off several of his classmates before being put down, and that she was arrogant on top of everything else in that she thought such a plan could go flawlessly in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
“I think she intends to be Minister of Magic, like Bagnold was before Fudge,” Isobel stated, as though she read his mind, and now it made more sense than before. She was acting like a politician.
“Well, I’ll make sure to leave the country well before she makes office,” was all he could say to that. “Thanks, Isobel.”
With his questions answered, Isobel turned her focus to the shelves of their personal library and away from Harry. He did the same as he made his way up the stairs to get dressed. There was nothing to be done with Luna until around lunch or so, and he could think of something to do prior in History of Magic as he had already covered the materials that would be covered in class…as did everyone else in their year of Ravenclaw.
The ghostly professor followed the same lesson plans every year unfailingly, so Morag had gone out of her way to have some of the older students give her the low down and then passed it around as part of their study sessions. Another point to her credit in the long run of things considering that if she does get a ministry position their grades in one of the classes with the lowest rate of students taking the N.E.W.T level of courses would be attributed to her quick thinking. If Binns weren’t earthbound as a ghost and could no longer cross normal boundaries that separated the living world and the afterlife, as Harry had read in his textbook, then Dumbledore would have probably gotten rid of him. It probably helped that he didn’t get paid either.
Anyway, adding finding a way to send the ghost to the afterlife as both an act of mercy and for the good of future students to his tentative list of things to do—right next to getting rid of Peeves in fact—in the long run, Harry had already nicked a copy of Morag’s overview from Anthony Goldstein in exchange for loaning him that book on Alchemy he had checked out, to avoid the processing time involved with the Library and out of some curiosity. He had an interest in it, it seemed anyway. As long as he returned it before the due date, they were galleon on the subject.
Harry, on the other hand, found it confusing and somewhat cumbersome with all the ciphers that alchemist had. Between the phases that lions and dragons represented, the individual planets and their markings, it took time to decipher and that was only because whoever gave it to Neville used the standard ciphers instead of custom ones like Nicholas Flamel reportedly did before his passing. Then again, looking at the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life, he could understand the desire of secrecy should unscrupulous individuals hands get their hands on it.
The businessman part of him lamented the loss of the stone, which his parents had told Gene when he inquired about it over the period between his return from camp and the train incident that Dumbledore claimed it was a fake. Supposedly the real one was destroyed well before the mirror thing and replaced with a remarkably realistic-looking copy…at least that’s what Harry overheard them telling Gene. It made sense in one way but was still flawed, as not only did Quirrell die for nothing, which still haunted him, but if Gene and his friends circumvented the traps so easily then what was the point at all?
The process of making Neville’s plant growth recipe had been tedious overall. Because a great deal of the Alchemy was reliant on the celestial bodies, something that made Astronomy actually relevant considering he wasn’t big on its other known uses, he was up late for several nights and had to use a Tin Cauldron since combined with the light of Jupiter it promoted growth . While he gave the chubby boy his cut and then went about his way, it was different from standard potion-making as it was heavily reliant on outside factors beyond the components and the potioneer.
While there was some crossing between the two, Alchemy was a different beast altogether with the main benefit being that compared to most spells and potions that wear out over time or revert with the death of the caster, the changes made with Alchemy tended to be permanent. Dumbledore’s renown for being savvy at it only added to his overall competency as a wizard and his mystique.
Breakfast passed uneventfully as Harry was in thought about his own plans and the matter with Luna, who didn’t come down to eat, before he began his day with making his way to Double Charms with the Hufflepuffs. Retrieving his book he took the stairs to the third floor and the Charms Corridor before entering Classroom 2E.
Inside the room there were three rows of desks, all fixed to face the teacher’s table, where the Charms Master was at present, flanked by two blackboards. The rain that could be viewed through the windows made the room seem dreary and dank, a stark contrast to when the sun was filtered through the panes and flooded the room with a welcoming warmth. Among the assembled students already present was one in particular Harry sought out in her usual seating choice, at the end of the third row.
“And how’s my favorite badger this morning?” Harry asked as he took his place sitting next to his favorite Hufflepuff, Leanne.
“Fairly well actually,” she replied, a small smile decorating her face as she returned the greeting. “And you?”
“The storm woke me earlier than normal, but fine otherwise,” he told her. During Double’s Charm he normally paired up with her since she was the only Hufflepuff in that year he was acquainted with and everyone else had cliques while she was still somewhat alone.
He asked her if she was okay the first time they had a class together after she had taken the commission he had done for Gayle, but she stated she was fine and the effects were as they were supposed to be. According to her, Gayle had honestly asked her if she felt confident enough to test it, to which she agreed after citing how she watched him work tirelessly towards it with devoted effort and kept detailed records of what failed and what worked over the process of elimination until he steadily came to the final product. It touched him to know that during their month of concocting illegal substances that he had garnered such respect and confidence in his abilities despite his relative youth.
She also noted that Gayle forbade her from buying any more of it, which she would know as the pushers of the final product in the school all answered to her. She couldn’t have one of the people closest to her addicted what she sold. It was a bad business move otherwise and she didn’t have the students working for her in the castle using anything she sold.
Leanne also said it would probably move fairly well among quite a few in the upper-years later on, since the stresses of testing and the limited entertainment within the castle would make it somewhat desirable. Unlike the younger students, the older ones knew how to hide it better from the teachers, which was the reason she didn’t sell to anyone below the Fourth Year rather than ethical reasons.
“Good Morning, Students,” the diminutive Charms Master said to his class as he stood upon the desk once the allotted time had came. “We’ll be starting today’s class start with the revision of the Wand-Lighting Spell and then the Tickling Charm, so mark the pages in your books so we can go through the theory and then the practical applications.”
It was expected. Since they arrived at school a month ago all the teachers had been helping the students revise spells and potions they learned the first year before branching off into something new. Both had their books out and flipped to the page in question on the Wand-Lighting Charm.
The review of the revision was short since it was a simple charm at its base. If you wanted light, you got light and just light. It wasn’t incandescent, just pure illumination without an ounce of heat as magic was converted to light. Revising it was the act of simply altering the range and output with each use of the spell to get different results with the same incantation. Letting out the light in a new format as both he and Stephen could do already fell into new spells that were derived from the original.
Moving on from the revision, the professor asked, “Now, who can tell me how the Tickling Charm differs from the Tickling Hex?”
Harry raised his hand at the inquiry and was called upon. “The Hex has a stronger effect and more control. The charm can be overpowered by strong enough focus or fail if the subject isn’t ticklish and has a short lifespan, so it serves as general entertainment, whereas the hex has been referred to as a minor torture curse because the one directing it has more control over the strength and lifespan. Like most hexes the effect is designed to temporarily debilitate or humiliate someone and, when in the hands of someone particularly mischievous, the hex isn’t usually dropped before someone wets themselves.”
“A very thorough assessment, Mister Potter,” the professor stated, before generally addressing the class. “The charm itself is simple and has a narrow application, such as generally being used to entertain small children, although it has its uses as a diversionary tactic in duels both school-yard and professional. You can’t cast a spell if you’re doubled over and laughing. The spell, as listed in the book, is recognized by a silvery light and pronounced Rictusempra—Ric-tuh-SEM-pra.”
He then told them to practice on one another, to which Leanne turned to him with her dark eyes and said, “I’d better do you first. I’m not ticklish, so the charm probably won’t work.”
“Challenge accepted,” Harry said as his brow arched at the claim. His wand was pointed at her stomach before she could tell him not to and the spell was out of his lips as the wand motion was complete. The feeling of the countless roving fingers running over her abdomen and just beneath her skin, gliding as they moved with repetitive motions that thrummed about her sides, left Leanne nearly doubled over with her hands over her mouth, trying not to laugh.
A wry smile crossed his face. “Well, well, look who’s closet-ticklish…I wonder if the spell stacks?”
Her eyes briefly widened as her body lightly spasmed from trying to restrain the already powerful urge to laugh. In an effort of futility she tried to warn him not to, but it was too late as he hit her with the spell again, causing a stacking effect as the sensation of the already numerous invisible fingers doubled. She fell forward onto his shoulder, full out laughing while her soft breath tickled the flesh between the crook of his neck at the collar of his robe, causing him to have to hold back his own laugher.
“C-c-cancel i-it,” she said between laughs. “N-n-now!”
While the temptation to let it wear out on its own was still there, staggering in short order since the spell was cast with only a few seconds between each use, she was starting to shake him as she clutched his shoulders in the process and her breathing was sending a jolt down his spine. He aimed his wand between them, at her abdomen again, and cast the General Counter-Spell Charm, which he taught himself well-before it would be covered later in the year. “Finite Incantatem.”
It ended her torment and she straightened herself up before giving him a small frown and a light slap on the shoulder. “That wasn’t funny!”
He shrugged unapologetically. “Yet you laughed. Blame the professor for telling us to practice on one another.”
She then picked her wand up off the desk. “Let’s see how you do then. Rictusempra!”
Leanne put some real effort into, as Harry figured once he fell out of his chair and on the floor laughing, slamming the bottom of his balled fist against the floor, in the wake of a single spell. Leanne put of a rather satisfied smile at the sight, merely content at resting her elbow on the desk and watching him squirm as the spell did its work.
Vengeance was indeed sweet.
Lunch time came around and Luna was still nowhere to be seen. Having come out of History of Magic, which Harry spent formulating a diet of plants to feed the Streelers based on their toxicity to increase the potency of his Howler Busters in the event that the batch he had planned to make today failed when he tested it tomorrow, he was now somewhat concerned since the first year Rebecca stated that Luna hadn’t been to any of her classes. Again it amazed him that it was so easy for students to miss classes without being accounted for, but he recalled there were only a handful of teachers and resolved to handle it himself since he could empathize with her circumstances.
So, stashing away some fruit in his pocket, he proceeded back up to his house and came to a stop at the staircase leading to the girl’s dorm. He frowned since there was no way for him to traverse it, as some unlucky sap during the first year of his studies with their house had learned when it repelled him like he had stepped onto a loaded spring and took a flying leap back into the comfort area. His only options were to get another student to do so, none of whom were present at the moment with it being Lunch, or to have Myrtle come up and do it. It was then that their house ghost appeared from the entrance, or rather through it, and he decided to enlist her help as a third option.
“Pardon me, Grey Lady,” he called to the ethereal beauty that represented his house. While it was overly polite and he knew it, given the general time period she hailed from it would be fitting. “There is a young girl in the first-year section of the girl’s dorm who has been the victim of rather cruel acts that I seek to converse with. She hasn’t eaten anything or attended any classes and I am rather concerned, so might I ask for your assistance?”
She regarded his request for a moment before giving a short nod and ascending through the ceiling to do so. It was a minute or two later that down came the young blonde girl whose eyes were still somewhat red. In a tense, yet small voice, she asked, “Yes?”
“Luna, can we talk?” he asked, presenting her with the fruit he took from Lunch as a peace offering. The poor girl must’ve been starving. “Just a few minutes are all I’m asking, and then I’ll leave you alone if you want.”
Her lips pursed into a thin line, but her stomach spoke for her as it grumbled in the wake of food as she had missed breakfast and the dinner from last night was long gone and digested. She cautiously took the fruit and followed him into the Common Room, sitting across from him on the couch.
“First things first,” Harry said. “I want to apologize and thank you.”
“What for?” Luna asked.
“For sticking up for me,” he clarified. “That couldn’t have helped things along, and we barely know each other. It would have been easier if you had just gone along with whatever they said, conform rather than stick out, but instead you persisted and she sent you to join the Black Sheep Herd, as she calls it. Well, let me be frank in saying you’re welcomed to join us if you want and if anyone gives you any issues, I’ll take care of the problem.
“I just said that you didn’t seem nearly as frightening as Morag and the others made you out to be,” Luna claimed. “I don’t want to get you in trouble by hurting anyone.”
“Please, detention hardly bothers me,” he assured her. The last time he even had detention it was with Lockhart. It disturbed him that Lockhart didn’t seem to hear that weird voice he heard during that time period, but then again he was talking the entire time and ultimately Harry just assumed it was Peeves screwing with him indirectly. “Truth be told, I do find myself relishing the role of bully-hunter occasionally and after a few times the message will get across.”
“But that would only make what they’re saying about you true,” she pointed out. “That you’re violent and dangerous.”
He shook his head, adjusting his glasses in the process. “Well, I won’t lie to you by saying that I’m completely harmless or friendly. But I’m not very hostile to most people and I think I can safely say that nothing they said about me was true.”
“Then you didn’t really kill a professor?” she asked bluntly.
Harry frowned, only to see her head tilted quizzically at the reaction. There was no hostility in the phrasing, no jibing or taunting, there wasn’t even really any judgment he could actively pick up from staring directly into her eyes. In short, it was really just a question that most people who didn’t want to actively antagonize him either didn’t ask or sugarcoated it.
Could he be mad at her for the lack of tact? Well, he could but that wouldn’t do anyone any favors. Needless anger at the innocent question of a curious girl was unbefitting of him. He was better than that. Taking off his glasses, he rubbed the bridge of his eyes and then said, “…ultimately, I suppose I did.”
The admission didn’t really change her expression, even though she didn’t say anything immediately. It left Harry wondering if she was judging him silently, determining if he was the monster they probably claimed him to be. When she righted her head she said, “Funny. You don’t seem to act like you enjoyed it and bathed in his blood for some ritual. In fact, it’s something that’s hurting you more than anything else in the world, isn’t it?”
Okay, I’m getting the full damn story about what lies Morag told, Harry resolved. In retrospect he shouldn’t have put it off that long, but whatever. “To put it in simple terms, yes it does still hurt to think about and recall. Professor Quirrell was one of the few people who reached out to me, only for things to end in a situation where I had to choose between killing him and letting someone else die when they didn’t deserve it. So no, I didn’t kill a good man for some arcane ritual and I sure didn’t enjoy it.”
She nodded, perhaps in judgment or something she thought to herself that he didn’t understand. Then she mused, “No one here really knows what its like, do they? Feeling responsible for someone’s death?”
Harry shook his head. “No. No they do not. And because of that they can joke about things like that, taking some sick delight in the pain and aggravation they cause to make themselves feel better about the leash they’re on. It won’t stop any time soon, so I mostly focused on trying to find some friends outside the house. What about you?”
“Ginny’s in Gryffindor,” she said. “But I haven’t seen much of her since we were put into separate houses.”
“Understandable,” he said. “You see, I’ve noticed that many of our housemates have few friends outside their own house. When you factor in competing over the House Cup and Quidditch, it doesn’t sound like something a lot of people would be interested in because they’re being short-sighted. I was thinking about how to fix that and wanted to ask if you’d like to join me at the Gryffindor table tonight for dinner, so you can catch up with Ginny?”
“Would that really be okay?” she asked.
“I’ll make arrangements,” Harry assured her. “So…see you then?”
She nodded after a moment of consideration, before making her way back to the stairwell to the girl’s dorm. While on the bottom step she looked over her shoulder to find him still sitting there, giving her a brief wave. She put on a small smile and then went back up the stairs.
Harry sighed once she was out of sight and took a moment to think about how he was going to make that happen. His best bet would be to find a Gryffindor and ask them about it, but given his reputation that would prove somewhat difficult if they weren’t familiar with him already.
There were the Weasley Twins, but they were in a higher year and lingered about the middle of the table rather than the first and second years. That meant Gene’s clique. Seeing as he really didn’t want to ask Gene for anything unless he had to, or Ron for that matter, that left one other option in Hermione.
She was his best bet considering he told her about his plans in Diagon Alley, before all the ugliness occurred, and she would be all for helping someone else avoid being lonely given what she went through last year. He could probably sweeten the deal with an exchange of knowledge too, so that was something else. In fact, during the break that was coming up after lunch and before Transfiguration he bet he could find her in the Library.
Having formulated something akin to a plan of action, he bound off the couch and left the Common Room for the corridor that led to the tight spiral staircase down their tower to the third floor, where the entrance to the Hogwarts Library was. Given the sheer size of the labyrinth-like library, there was no way he was going to aimlessly search for her within the allotted time frame he had before the break ended, so he made his way to the overseer of the place, Madam Irma Pince.
“Good afternoon, Madam Pince,” he said, finding her in the process of dusting books along the shelves while keeping an eye on some of the other students whose faces were buried in their books. “Might I ask you if Hermione Granger is present?”
“Granger…” A bout of silence followed as she thought about it, her fingers twisting the feather duster in her hand. “I believe I crossed paths with her past the Reference Section but before the International Politics Section while dusting.”
He thanked her and went about his way towards the general location, narrowing down the area he needed to search through until he came across the black-robe clad witch with bushy hair. She was sitting at a table near the back with a light on as she combed through a rather thick text, a paper in her hand next to it that she compared the contents with. Pulling out the chair opposite her, he took a seat as her eyes darted up briefly to check who he was. “Hello, Hermione. What are you reading?”
Flipping to another page, her brown eyes proceeded to glide along the contents present. “It’s a book on some of the lesser known families that came to an end in Britain. Nothing specific though, just a lot of names to compare so I can see if there were any with the same as a relative of mine, or a trace of a lineage.”
Harry arched an eyebrow at that. “You think you’re related to someone in the magical world distantly?”
“There’s a possibility,” she muttered, setting the parchment down in between the pages and then closing the text. “Who knows?”
“Is this about what Malfoy said when we were in the alley?” Harry asked with his tone rather low as he recalled the incident. Granted, he used it as a distraction, but he did get the specifics from the twins.
She bit her lip for a moment, but shook her head. “No, not that…Ron brought the possibility up, actually. Inadvertently, anyway, when he mentioned that his mother and father were having a bit of a tiff over the fact that a relative of his, a Squib, may have a daughter who was born a witch.”
Harry made a note to contact Arthur about that, but he could recall Sherry mentioning research showing it could be done. “And?”
She scoffed before going on a minor rant. “Ronald finds it impossible, claiming that such a thing didn’t happen, while another student named Lily Moon and I stated it might be possible that it simply skipped a generation or so, like some hereditary traits. A lot of the others who weren’t born in the magical world started wondering if it was the same for them, but some of the others who were argued that magic didn’t work that way. One thing led to another and somehow I ended up being assigned to the task, so I had to contact my parents to see if they could give me a list of all our relatives that they could remember and here we are.”
Clearing her throat she moved onto another topic. “Anyway, did you want something?”
He grimaced a bit at the thought of putting more work on her shoulders on top of this. “Well, I hate to add more to your plate, but I need a favor.”
“What kind?” she asked, her eyes meeting his as she tilted her head slightly.
“Just two seats at the Gryffindor Table during dinner, with one next to Ginny Weasley,” he said. When her expression turned to a more inquisitive stare he added, “I’m trying to help another student connect with an out-of-house friend. You remember what your parents and I discussed?”
“House Tribalism,” she noted, what he was doing clicking in her mind. “You’re trying to give it a go with someone else who already has ties before coming to Hogwarts.”
“There’s that,” he conceded, “but also the fact that Luna needs friends in the same way you did, once upon a time before a troll. I’ll make it worthwhile for you as well.”
“Harry, you don’t have to bribe me to do something good,” she stated a bit tersely, as if she needed incentive to do something nice. Drudging up the memory of them being almost smashed to bits didn’t help either. “I’m all in favor for it.”
“Well, consider this my contribution to lighten your workload,” he told her as he handed her a copy of Morag’s outline. “The planned guideline to History of Magic. Everyone in Ravenclaw our year has one to get around what Binns is teaching, so we can focus on other studies. It never hurts to get ahead, right?”
She eyed it, tempted by the prospect. Considering the teacher didn’t bother to get her name right, she did feel some frustration at his methods and lack of correspondence. Besides, with it maybe she could get Gene and Ron to start doing their work rather than bumming her notes all the time.
“I’ll also see about getting some of the people I know to chime in on your pet project here,” he added in. “There was someone who mentioned that research overseas showed that it was possible, but because of the habit of phasing out Squibs in our neck of the woods it wouldn’t be surprising if Ron and the others were mistaken by belief. If we can present some solid evidence, and maybe even trace back a few other students like yourself to having magical roots, it might become irrefutable.”
“It does have the potential to change some things,” she acknowledged. You couldn’t call someone a mud-blood if they had some connection, and if it became standard practice the slur itself would have no power or prominence. A grateful smile came across her face. “Thank you for the offer.”
He gave her a shrug and a smile back before he stood up. “I’ll go write the letter asking for the reference now, while I still have some time before class, as well as one to Mr. Weasley to learn more on this relative of his. See you during Dinner.”
After Potions Class – Myrtle’s Bathroom
Harry yawned as he watched the cauldron come to a simmer from within his makeshift workshop that was the back of Myrtle’s Bathroom. The liquid was now a shade of verdant, the application of the venom from the Streelers within his terrarium having deepened the color. Using the small table and chair he “borrowed” from one of the many abandoned classrooms as a surface he jotted down the difference from the last batch which had changed to a more lime color instead in his private potions-alchemy notebook. With all the revisions he had to do with the Howler Buster formula and his alchemy side-job, it was already somewhat of a read through filled with ideas, notes, successes, and failures. He’d have to wait until the concoction cooled before he could test it on the Howlers that he had in a stack on the opposite side of his notebook tomorrow.
Hearing a sigh coming from his right, Harry turned his head to Myrtle’s stall. The ghost was staring pensively at the young potter as she ran her ethereal fingers through the fur of the gytrash he had conjured as a deterrent for Peeves. He couldn’t risk the Poltergeist sabotaging his workshop and at best the spectral-defense charms he had would only hinder the troublemaker.
“You’ve been doing that awful lot lately, Myrtle,” he said. “Is there something you want to say?”
She rolled her head and mused, “Hmm…maybe…”
Harry turned around completely to face her and said, “Myrtle, you can ask me anything, given all the help you’ve been.”
“Okay, okay,” she huffed. “I was just trying to gather up the courage to ask you about repaying that favor earlier this year by escorting me to Nearly Headless Nick’s Death-Day Party on Halloween.”
“Sure I’ll go,” he said. His field of interest at present was spectral beings and a gathering of ghosts was hardly something to pass up on. “I didn’t have anything in particular planned Halloween anyway, but my attire will be limited since this is such short notice.”
“Your robes are fine,” she insisted.
“Excellent then,” Harry stated, before checking the time. Dinner was starting in a few minutes and he had another student to meet with. Harry picked up his notebook and stood. “So we’ll discuss this at greater length tomorrow?”
She nodded. “Until then, Harry.”
Harry gave her a wave, before leaving out and heading towards his destination. Luna was waiting by the entrance of the Great Hall, leaning with her hands behind her back while against the wall. He touched her shoulder and led her towards the table, where the seats had been saved by Hermione with two stacks of books that she levitated away when they approached.
“Greetings, Gryffindors,” Harry said as he took his seat next to the studious student while Luna sat next to Ginny, who was looking a mite pale but earnestly smiled at the arrival of her old friend. As the topic came up, the youngest Weasley admitted she might have caught something but greeted her all the same.
“What are you doing here?” Ron asked Harry with a raised brow.
“Just sitting down to eat,” Harry said. “No ulterior motives, if that’s what you’re wondering about.”
“Go sit at your own table,” one of their housemates said.
“Well, you’re free to move me if you think you can,” Harry offered, putting on a smile that was rather sharp as he set his wand on the table to make it clear how things would go down. Brash as it was, he was here for Luna’s sake at the moment rather than his own agenda.
“Guys, just relax,” Gene stated, before something went down. “There’s no harm in sharing the tables.”
The words coming from the twin seemed to have the desired effect as whoever it was kept their silence. With that settled, the meal progressed rather placidly. While Luna and Ginny talked in relative privacy, Harry quickly finished his food before turning his mind towards something more pressing in his notebook as he recalled he forgot something. He tore out a blank page and proceeded to copy down a procedure and ingredients list before passing it to Neville.
“What’s this?” Neville asked.
“The instructions for making that thing I gave you,” he said absentmindedly. “I was a bit out of it when I handed you the bottle, but not the recipe. Without the ciphers you should be able to have a professional make it.”
Neville put it away before meekly telling him, “…thanks.”
“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked, with her curiosity peaked once more. She looked over Harry’s shoulder to see his notebook and the contents inside, which he made easier by just pushing it between them.
“Neville asked me to make a plant growth serum,” he explained. “I had to do some research into Spagyric Alchemy to do it, but if I understand the process right I may be able to improve on it or increase the effectiveness of the plants that are doused with it later on…which is a possibility if the solution to my little Howler problem isn’t resolved soon.”
“Do they even teach that here?” Gene asked Ron, who shrugged in a manner that stated he had no clue.
“No, I did it in my free time,” Harry answered for him. “Basic Alchemy is an elective for the higher years that’s taught by the Headmaster, with their own lab that’s still somewhat functional, but there hasn’t been enough interest in it so there hasn’t been any classes taught recently. Spagyric in particular is like Potions, mixed with Astronomy, and heavily focused on Herbology.”
Ron, Gene, and a few others listening in tried to imagine the unmitigated horror that was those three classes combine. Some came to picture a robust man with Snape’s greasy hair and sneer with a hat like Professor Sinistra’s, telling them to look up at the planet’s alignments while they tried adding ingredients to a cauldron and having house points deducted for some reason or another. Many shuddered in terror, more so when they recalled he did this in his free time rather than necessary.
Hermione, on the other hand, sounded excited at the prospect of it. “And you figured this all out on your own?”
“I had to get some help from Professor Sinistra to get the timing right in accordance to the planets, but it was me who translated the ciphers and carried out the procedures,” he said, turning to the back of the notebook, where he had drawn a guide to them. “It took days to just fish for them all the ones that outlined the processes and phases.”
She skimmed over the definitions outlined, coming to a stop when she noted one fact in particular. “The Red Lion with wings cipher is the Gryffindor emblem.”
“Yeah, it symbolizes the control over untamed forces generally speaking, but it also relates to the use of metal in the procedure. The cipher of a lion growing wings is when it all comes to a head, the point where you bring things together and make it stable.” He turned to the page where he copied the procedure for Neville.
She skimmed through it as well, taking in the notes before commenting. “I see, so the properties of the cauldron play a huge role and the flame determines how much is transferred to the liquid inside in the final product too. If the heat is too strong then it overwhelms the other properties and emphasizes the growth without balance, running the risk of harming the plants.”
“But if there’s not a strong enough flame it won’t pass it on properly or may fail to produce the needed result,” Harry added. “I got curious about using a Pure Iron cauldron to increase the potency of the plants’ natural properties as well, such as the natural toxins of the plants I cultivate for the Streelers.”
“Ohh, but what if you used a second cauldron to instill another property into it?” she asked. “Start in one and then continue in the other?”
“It’s not a bad idea per se,” he agreed. “But there’s a chance that one property would overwhelm the other or they might not be compatible, and the astrological chart plays a huge role on that depending on what we’re trying to do. If we think of the planet being in a certain position enhancing the property of the cauldron because of the metal resonating with it—”
Hermione offered a second opinion before he finished. “But what if we add in a chunk of the corresponding metal or a powder of it—”
“—but wouldn’t they be reactants instead of catalysts?” Harry mused as he picked up on the train of thought. “Not to mention the balance and ratios. I’d really need to take another look at the book once I get it back from Anthony, or maybe talk to him about it since he has more of a passion for it than I do…”
As the two continued their babble, Ron leaned to his side and whispered in Gene’s ear, “You following any of this?”
“Maybe every fifth word…?” Gene said, tapering off as it began to sound more like a question. Neville, for his part, at least tried to follow along while Luna and Ginny were in their own little world.
When Dinner finally ended and they went their separate ways, Harry led Luna back to their tower and bid a goodnight to the young girl looking joyful rather than dejected as he found her that morning. Such a sharp contrast was noteworthy, and as such he considered his efforts successful.
Given that he was tired himself from waking so early, he decided to go to bed early and proceeded to turn in for the night. Tomorrow he would ask more on the Halloween party with Myrtle and hopefully hear back from Sherry and Arthur soon to assist Hermione in her endeavor. More favors being paid and bought, only to be repaid later.
He would need as many as he could get soon enough, as within the walls slithered the end of the halcyon days so far.
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.”
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—
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chapter 7: Year Two Begins
Note: Yeah, I didn’t expect another update this fast either. But we may as well start Year Two of Hogwarts off with a bang.
August 31st – Diagon Alley
Harry felt annoyed, without a doubt, and missed the days when his parents ignored him for his brother. Truly he did. At least then he had the freedom to act as he pleased and go where he wanted.
It had been a few days after he got back from camp now. Upon getting back he bluntly stated that no progress had been made in changing his attitude and then stayed in his room. He thought about just pretending the camp had an effect, but quite frankly they weren’t worth the effort and the only good thing about it was that he had been weaned off the Sleeping Drafts since he was so focused on Gayle’s request that sleep came easy and abruptly.
Now he found himself being led down the cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley with not only his family, but the Weasleys as well since the letters from Hogwarts had come in. That meant that he had to go with them and look for a chance to sneak away, to at least contact Sherry and get his important stuff, before he had to go back to that school again for nine months.
He thought he had a chance as they passed through the north side, where the group split for a moment. Molly took Ginny to get fitted for her Hogwarts robes at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, which he noted had recently sold out of an invisibility cloak that the twins mentioned wanting before the Floo over. After that they would get going to get her wand at Ollivanders.
The Weasley Twins, no longer able to get the cloak with their cut from the Howler Busters and other sales, departed to the south side to visit Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop with Arthur going after them. He had to ensure that they didn’t get anything they shouldn’t have according to the separate list Hogwarts sent to the Burrow for them exclusively. A bit futile, but he would try.
Percy and Ron went to get an owl from Eeylops Owl Emporium for the family kids to share, now that all those in the household would be attending the school. Errol was getting along in years and kept running into things and falling unconscious. It couldn’t have had too many years left.
When James offered to let Harry and Gene pick out a broom stick, as they were now in their second year, Harry had declined getting his own broom. He had no use for it as he had no intentions of trying out for Quidditch, while Gene took up the offer. That left Harry with his early-thirties mother, with hair as red as any of the Weasleys, Lily Potter.
She followed him as he picked out potion ingredients and a few unbreakable jars at the Apothecary owned by the Pocklington family. While there he searched for the catalysts and reagents that he needed for a few choice potions that he wanted to keep in stock, in case he was hit from behind by a curse or hex again. He also wanted to try and improve the Howler Busters, but they didn’t have the more volatile things that he needed there.
She watched as he picked up some seeds from one of the many vendors, silently wondering what he intended to do with them. Before he had to rid himself of Quirrell’s copy of Spectral Beings and Spells he noted that ghosts liked Lily flowers and Myrtle did comfort him in his darkest hour. Plus growing the rare plants he needed would cut costs.
She inquired about why he was getting a terrarium container, normally used for serpents and reptiles when he entered into Magical Menagerie, only for him to reply it was for school and he didn’t want a pet from there as the school rules wouldn’t allow him to have anything but a toad, owl, or cat. A pet bat, barring a Mortis Bat, was still on the table as an option to him, but cleaning up after anything that pooped, as well as the costs of food, would rankle his nerves over time.
However, despite simply observing him so far, she did put her foot down when he tried to go into Knockturn Alley. It didn’t matter how cheap Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary sold Potion Kit bags and the more dangerous things he wanted. Granted, a lot of shady things happened there, but it was one of the few places creatures other than humans, such as Hags and Goblins, could shop with less discrimination.
Instead she dragged him to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to give the others time to finish their tasks before they met up. As she waited for the sundaes she ordered for them both, she tried to start a dialogue. “So Harry, are you excited about your second year?”
“Does the answer to that really matter?” he replied apathetically. “I’m going either way. The only good thing is that you’ll give me back my wand.”
They hadn’t returned it once he got out of camp. Flight risk and all, which he was since if he had it there would have been a Bedazzling Hex over him the moment he had the chance and he would have vanished. The spare wand was put away, not his first choice in trying the complex hex and the risk of them finding it simply too great if he used it. Once he had his pouch back from Sherry he could store it safely and call upon it when needed.
“It’ll be better this year,” she assured him, her tone placid and her expression soft. “Things will be different. They always are after the first year.”
“Murderer, remember?” he said indignantly.
Lily’s expression grew a bit grim at that, but she persisted. “Those silly rumors will pass. Surely there must’ve been some other kids who knew you wouldn’t do such a thing.”
“The only people I thought I knew were on my side abandoned me the moment it got out and my stuff was vandalized,” he said through gritted teeth. “Besides the teachers, only Hagrid and Myrtle showed me any respect all year…”
He trailed off as he spotted a familiar face walking down the white marble flight of steps from Gringotts that met with the cobbled road, bushy brown hair bobbing as she talked to two adults next to her. As she stepped onto the hard road her gaze spanned the alley until she met his and pointed him out to the accompanying adults as they made their way over.
“We have company,” Harry told Lily, nodding his head in their direction as Hermione approached. “Hello Hermione, Mister and Missus Granger too, I presume.”
“Hello Harry,” she said. “Is this your Mum?”
“Lily Potter,” he said plainly. “James and Gene went broom shopping but we’re meeting them soon enough, if that’s who you were looking for.”
Lily stood and greeted the young witch’s parents before she focused on her. “It’s nice to meet you, Hermione. I heard the boys mention you, but they never told me they were friends with such a flower. It must be tough being friends with them, since they aren’t exactly keen to how they should behave around cute girls yet.”
“We’re only acquaintances,” Harry corrected her.
The young witch seemed a bit hurt at that, proving that Lily had been spot on when she said he didn’t know how to interact with the opposite gender.
Lily reprimanded him. “Harry, that’s not nice!”
“I wasn’t trying to be rude, just factual,” he exclaimed as he raised his hands to placate them all. “Our classes don’t mesh and we don’t have the same common houses, so we rarely interact enough to be considered close enough to be friends. It’s one of the flaws in the house system and house points, they basically separate everyone and foster tribalism.”
“Hmm, I suppose so,” Hermione admitted. The explanation somewhat eased her. “Outside of Ron and Gene, I sort of stand out with the others. It may have been better if I were in your house.”
He shrugged. “Well, considering that you earn house points with just about every professor for knowing everything, and get grades high enough to have people in my house wondering why you aren’t one of ours, I heard a rumor once that Professor Flitwick wanted to swap a student for you. Of course, since the source said that Professor McGonagall duelled him in an epic match over the right, I would say it was unreliable…still, don’t be surprised if an offer gets made.”
She smiled at that, appeasing the rest of the adults in the process at the change in her mood. Seeing that Harry was actually getting along and probably wouldn’t run off, Lily excused herself to go powder her nose at that moment. That left Harry with the inquisitive witch and her equally curious parents.
“What exactly is the difference in the houses?” Mrs. Granger asked. “Hermione stated that there were four of them, but since she hadn’t been in any besides…Gryffindor, was it?”
The bushy-haired witch nodded. “That’s mine.”
“Right, because she hadn’t been in any but that one she didn’t comment on them,” her mother finished.
Harry rubbed his chin in thought before facing the young witch. “Hermione, I know you must’ve thoroughly gone through Hogwarts: A History a couple of dozen times now—”
“Only three times!” she said defensively.
“—given that whenever we had classes you seemed to have gone through material like a five-year old goes through candy, so you should probably know what each house is known for, correct?”
She nodded and began running them off. “The Sorting Hat takes your qualities and assigns you to a house based on them. Gryffindor is known as the house of the Courageous, Daring, and Brave, with the symbol of the Lion, colors of Scarlet and Gold, and the element of Fire.
“Hufflepuff upholds Hard Work, Patience, Loyalty, and Fair Play rather than any aptitude. Their colors are Yellow and Black, with the symbol of the Badger, and the element of Earth.”
“Ravenclaw prizes Wit, Knowledge, and Individuality. Their colors are Blue and Bronze, while their symbol is an Eagle, and their element is Air.”
“And Slytherin”—she said this with some distaste that they all noticed—”values Ambition, Cunning, and Resourcefulness. Their colors are Emerald Green and Silver, while their symbol is that of a Serpent, and their element is Water.”
Harry nodded. “That sounds about right…but tell me Mister and Missus Granger. Doesn’t she sound like she fits all the categories?”
The parents who knew her best agreed. She was ambitious when it came to magic, her knowledge and wit sharp as nails, she was loyal and hard working, and going to a new world without them or knowing anything beforehand was nothing short of brave. “They all fit her perfectly.”
Harry clapped his hands once at that. “Hence the problem with the method of sorting. The rivalries and tribalism born from the division isolates them into one of the houses and they are categorized by it. You noticed how she said Slytherin with disdain? That’s because Gryffindor and Slytherin dislike one another on principle now, contrast to when the houses first came to be.”
He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt as he continued his tirade. “The time of the founders has long since passed and their teachings have deteriorated with the passage of time, for better or worse. Gryffindor are courage without brains and the jocks of the school. If you’re a Slytherin then you’re labeled evil from the start and no one will trust you because of your house, leaving you no choice but to do what is expected. Ravenclaws are nerds who boast of their intelligence above all other houses. Hufflepuffs are considered the leftovers that weren’t smart enough, cunning enough, or brave enough to get into the other houses.
“They all go to the same classes anyway so what is the point of the divisions anyway, other than opposing school unity? It doesn’t help that the only times students can mingle outside their own clique is in the Great Hall, which are still divided by tables, and the classes, which are hardly opportune times for such a thing. Students normally don’t even know where the other houses’ common rooms are or what they look like.
“I’ve heard there hasn’t been an non-Hufflepuff in their basement for over a thousand years and I bet no one outside of Ravenclaw knows about the small library of books not found anywhere else in school, since there is a tradition for graduates to contribute something from their careers and many have excelled in subjects—”
“Really?” asked the bushy-haired witch, an obvious interest sparked at gleaming exclusive knowledge.
Harry continued as he put back on his glasses, too deep into his tirade to notice. “—and I mean what’s the point in calling each house’s common room by that name when only certain students can visit based on their houses—it’s an exclusive room that requires a secret method of entry. On top of that Ravenclaw’s only requires a riddle which anyone reasonably intelligent enough can solve, like ‘Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?'”
There is no beginning since one doesn’t exist without the other, like ‘The Chicken or the Egg’! Hermione mused in her head, her inner voice carrying an excited undertone at the prospect of gaining entrance to their personal library. “How do you get to Ravenclaw’s entrance?”
“Oh it’s in the—” there was an audible clasp as he closed his mouth when his mind caught up with his mouth. “Nice try, but you’re going to have to give me Gryffindor’s first.”
She actually mulled over the decision, a struggle between giving up the house she had made friends with for the sake of knowledge, selling them out. Harry took that as a cue to finish up since the struggle looked as though it would take awhile, but he doubted she’d sell out her friends in the end.
“Anyway, in Ravenclaw, there is no individuality in that house for the most part because of their obsession to prove their knowledge; to the extent they sabotage one another. I, at the age of twelve now mind you, typically can’t trust my own dormmates not to blindside me or help me when needed. Either they’re sheep or they actively horde knowledge or sabotage each other. If you don’t fall in line you get left with no one to rely but yourself in isolation.”
He took a deep breath as he finished. “Trust me, if you think Halloween was bad, it’ll look like Christmas compared to being in Ravenclaw and that—”
Hermione shook her head, subtly nodding to her parents. It wasn’t subtle enough and they became curious and asked what happened on Halloween.
Harry mouthed the word “Troll”, to which she tensed, and realized she wanted it to stay quiet out of concern for her parents. Still, they were expecting an answer so he gave one. “Because she is one of the smartest people in her year it tends to invoke jealousy, even in her own house, when she grasps material above that of those who are born in this world. One of her own housemates made a comment about her being a know-it-all and lacking friends, so it left her crying in the bathroom with one of my housemates until Gene and Ron attempted to cheer her up.”
Ignoring the fact that Ron was the problem in the first place, he kept to himself.
“Hermione, why didn’t you tell us you had a bullying problem,” asked her father.
“Because it wasn’t different from when I went to elementary school,” she argued, her head down as her hand subconsciously came to her teeth. “The difference here is I have friends and I’m not the weirdest one.”
“Mister and Missus Granger,” Harry started as he sat ramrod straight, “no matter what side of the world you are on there is one thing that is true. In the words of a mentor I once and still admire, ‘Kids are cruel’ and being different in any way will lead to the same thing, appearance or intelligence-wise.
“Tribalism because of the house division tradition is no different than people with different religions, social statuses, or races,” he said with conviction. “If it isn’t one then it’s another, and no matter where you go it won’t change. Only time and the maturity that comes with it can improve things hopefully.”
“You appear to have that maturity,” Mrs. Granger stated, not unkindly. “Most children can’t argue something based on history and social circumstances on a wider-scale. Let alone point out the fallacies of a system they’ve only been in for a year.”
“No, that’s because I brought myself up to a eighth-grade level in Social Studies and Chemistry this summer, as well as a grade lower in most non-magical subjects…minus math and history,” he explained. “In other circumstances I’m quite immature.”
“So that’s what you did all summer?” Hermione asked. “I thought you would have done research into more magical subjects, given you knew spells above your grade.”
He shrugged. “I didn’t have access to my wand, barring homework, so it was time better spent towards getting an educational equivalent of a high school degree. For you, who grew up on that side of the world, the magical world hasn’t lost its appeal. The reverse is the case for me.”
It was at this point Lily returned to her seat and asked what was going on.
“Your son is quite insightful,” Hermione told her. “We were having a passionate discussion why I was better off as a Gryffindor than a Ravenclaw, but also why the house separations have caused more harm than good.”
Lily’s expression turned from impassive to somewhat doleful, a small cloud of somberness darkening her otherwise brilliant green eyes. “All of this while I was gone?”
“It wasn’t planned,” Harry insisted as Lily looked at the watch on her wrist. He had no reason to lie and he had no intention of going on a tirade before. It slipped out. “Really, it wasn’t.”
“Well, it’s nearing twelve-twenty,” she said before giving Hermione a genuine smile, “would like to join us in getting our books for the year? Gene and Ron should be there with the rest of the Weasley family. Along the way you can fill me in.”
The Granger family consented and so the five of them proceeded to Flourish and Blotts. There was a crowd of people jostling about the entrance, mostly witches beyond the age of twenty, clamoring to get inside and past the harassed wizard trying to rein them in so the regular customers weren’t disturbed. The reason became obvious as they looked to the sign above the entrance that announced a book signing at twelve-thirty.
“Gilderoy Lockhart?” Mr. Granger said, curious as to whom it was that could garner so much attention. To his surprise his daughter practically jumped up.
“That’s the name of the man who practically wrote the booklist this year,” Hermione said. “We have to get in line!”
She and Lily took their place in the line-up, the Granger parents looking on, while Harry decided to squeeze into the shop as a normal patron since, with Lily in a position she could see him trying to leave, there was no other place to go. As he did so it was hard to miss the collective of redheads that made up the Weasley family, along with James, who was leaning against a shelf and thumbing through the Daily Prophet, and Gene…who Harry noticed had in his hand a Nimbus 2001—a sleek model that had revolving stirrups and shaded black and gold, literally the fastest broom in the world that was released this month. It must’ve cost a pretty knut.
Ron, in the meanwhile, held in a small cage a scops owl that looked rather young and spry, fluttering around and eager to get out and spread its wings. Percy was there as well looking at a book called Prefects Who Gained Power, and the twins were on either side of their brother talking to one another. Ginny was next to her mother, standing in line, while Molly patted her hair so it was proper.
Once the clock hit half past the hour Gilderoy Lockhart came into view at the back of the shop, surrounded by pictures of himself, with even more being taken by a photographer as he flashed a smile of dazzling white teeth. After a few moments he announced he was going to take up the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts as well, earning a round of applause for such a position given the prestige of the school.
“So that’s why we have to buy those books,” Harry remarked as he neared the rest of the group, while the others gave each other a look that adequately expressed their disbelief in the man’s ability. They had all, at one point or another, read or glanced at a copy of the man’s older works.
Molly and Lily were fans and had tried to have their children read it. Harry was naturally studious and, while he did read it and find it entertaining to an extent, he could tell there were contradictions in his stories, which were glaringly we he compared the creatures the man has supposedly fought to the information in official text. The rest of them never made it through the text conscious.
“Now, I enjoy a good work of fiction,” Harry admitted, “and I’m not arguing that the man can’t write it like nobody’s business, but for they hold nothing of value in educational terms of the one class that not knowing something is guaranteed to kill us.”
“Especially after last year,” Ron muttered.
Harry continued on without missing a beat. “And considering that, as the author, he’s getting some royalties from moving all these books…well, let’s just assume this is a money-making scheme and plan accordingly.”
Being in the habit of pranking for profit and pleasure meant the twins were savvy on the business end of things, what with their future intentions and all, and conscious of spending money. Therefore, if he was offering a solution they were all ears.
“And what might you suggest we do about that?” George asked.
Fred followed up. “Yes, do tell us.”
“We can play this one of two ways,” he offered to everyone listening. “The first is that Gene, Ron, Fred, George, Ginny, and Percy, all buy one book each. If we have a class we share the relevant one.”
Gene asked the obvious question. “Why aren’t you included in that count?”
“Because I thought of the plan,” he said, as though that was a reasonable excuse. When they vocally disagreed Harry held up his hands to pacify them. “Okay, Plan B then. We exploit Lockhart’s obvious need to be fame-hogging businessman.”
“How do we do that?” Ron asked.
Harry pointed to the twins. “Tell me, if you were a famous, egotistical author during a book-signing, and the Boy-Who-Lived showed up and said he heard about his works but didn’t have a copy of them all…”
The twins looked to each other and Fred spoke aloud the answer. “He’ll want to look good by giving it up for free, knowing that he’s going to get a bigger profit once it gets out and—”
“—if Gene agrees to promote them later on it would be even better,” George added.
Harry nodded. “Exactly, we make Gene a sellout by playing up his fame and using it to try and milk several books out of the man. If we uphold the later promotion during school we can milk another favor if something comes up.”
There was only one hitch in the plan. It was that Gene had a problem with it. “No way, Mum tried to make me read one of those books once and it put me to sleep. I’d rather take my chances with smuggling a dragon again.”
“Suck it up you pansy and take one for the team,” Harry said. “If you get one set alone it saves us the trouble.”
Gene put his foot down. “Now, I may occasionally play up my part for some benefits here and there, but even I’m not going to shill for him. You know how Mum gets about me doing stuff like that anyway.”
“She’s in the line,” Harry pointed out. “I’m pretty sure she won’t mind.”
“No,” Gene said, his tone indicating it was over. He turned his back on Harry, who promptly decided he didn’t care about what Gene wanted and applied the Boot-to-the-Backside technique, knocking him into the crowd enough to cause a commotion that drew James’ and Lockhart’s attention to him. Gene was pulled to the man’s side before he knew it, like he was taken by an eddy that sucked in fame and the adoration of women.
“That was a bit low, wasn’t it?” Ron stated, watching his best friend look incredibly uncomfortable.
“A shame I don’t really care as long as he gets those books,” Harry countered in a blithe manner. Then he heard snickering and saw Draco on the staircase leading to a higher floor. Given that he looked to the others as though he was about to cause trouble…Harry smiled. Hello big enough distraction to get out of here.
At this point he backed away as Draco approached and managed to sneak out successfully as a man who looked like an adult version of Draco watched from the floor above. The moment he heard the first insult he ran outside to tell his mother and Hermione, leading to them funneling into the building to prevent a fight with the boys. It wasn’t even five seconds later that he heard the commotion and put some distance between them.
Then he heard spellfire and knew things escalated to a greater extent. A store with Potters, Weasleys, and Malfoys was a powder keg waiting to be lit he supposed. He was sure that once things had settled down they would be looking for him, so at best he had time to run to send a post owl to Sherry’s place to tell her to send his pouch with his important stuff, such as the book Quirrell had willed him, to his house.
September 1st – King’s Cross Station
Harry adjusted his pouch that Albert returned last night before fixing his hand around the trolly holding his belongings, for when he got to Hogwarts. Inside it was the book Quirrell willed to him as well as Goyle’s potion book, which he had virtually copied everything useful from. He loved that it had a reference of other books he would find one way or another, to take in their contents.
When he was questioned on his disappearance he explained he forgot some reagents and ran back to the apothecary to get some, which he did after he sent out an owl. The fact that they noticed he also had the Potion Kit he wanted from Knockturn Alley did not please them, but there wasn’t much they could do about it since it was time to go to Hogwarts the next day. Victory was his.
His birthday gifts from Sherry, which he had missed as he was attending the camp, were a gift card to Barnes and Noble, as well as a gift certificate to Flourish and Blotts. Both were things he could’ve used ahead of time, but F & B had an owl-service while his B & N card would last until he came home next year…or he could just give it to Arthur Weasley and have him go and pick up whatever book he wanted and send via owl.
Speaking of gifts, he owed Hagrid for his ocarina in addition to the Weasleys and Sherry. Harry made a mental note to find out the Keeper of the Keys’ birthday and something he would like if it came sooner than Christmas. He took a moment to also note that, as Ginny passed through the solid barrier with Molly, the incident at F & B was apparently more serious than he thought since the Potter twins had to come along with the Weasleys and were running late.
Lily and James were absent, the Potter pair called to the Ministry over the incident at the bookshop. Considering James was an Auror and he failed to stop it, someone filed a complaint that needed to be sorted out and Lily was needed as well since she was there too. The Weasleys were fined with the complaint leveled as the sources of the disturbance, but they weren’t called in as well…which was strange in itself as the twins and Ron threw the hexes first, but then again they were all minors.
He couldn’t help, as Gene got ready to enter the barrier, but think it was still strange that charges like that were even leveled. Normally such childish incidents were only worthy of a complaint if severe permanent damage was inflicted, rather than a few reversible hexes…at least to most people. Harry paid credit to the ‘Eye for an Eye’ theory. But the Malfoy family was fairly hostile to both of the families and the feeling mutual, so the fact that one assaulted the other simply gave them a reason, even if in the defense of Hermione being insulted.
Harry’s attention snapped towards the barrier, where Gene and his trolley crashed against it. The impact drove the handle of the trolley into his gut and knocked his owl, Hedwig, onto the floor in its cage, causing it to indignantly sound off until he grabbed it while on the floor and struggling to catch his breath.
Harry looked towards the clock and noted they had at least a good two minutes left and the magical entrance shouldn’t have been sealed shut considering parents who saw their children off would be leaving the moment the train was out of sight. He then noted all of the stares around them and the approaching guard who asked what he was doing.
The Notice-Me-Not Charm failed as well, Harry mused as he cleared his throat to get the guard’s attention. Gene was in no position to defend himself without making things complicated for them both. “My apologies for him. You see my brother is supposed to wear his glasses like me, as we are twins, but because he lost them he was unable to see the pillar there and crashed into it while rushing to get to Platform Ten.”
Gene nodded at the statement, grabbing his stomach, until he noticed his wand sticking out of his trunk. He positioned himself to hide it.
The guard took a deep breath and then nodded. “Where are your parents?”
Since he couldn’t say their escorts were on the other side of the barrier, he had to say something more believable. “We lost them I’m afraid. And they had our tickets too.”
“Then you’ll have to come with me boys and we’ll call them over the announcement system,” he stated after a moment. “Minors shouldn’t be running around without supervision in the first place.”
“Thank you, sir,” Harry said as he helped his brother up, managing to make a saccharine smile as if was truly thankful. On the inside he was somewhat, since the matter could easily be sorted out as long as things didn’t get any more complicated…
It was then he noticed a House-Elf on the top of the nearest train with his peripheral vision, looking at the pair with apologetic eyes. It raised its hand, aiming towards the pair and causing their wands to rise up like a Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa) had been applied. Harry looked at his trunk on the trolley and noticed that at some point it had been opened, most likely when helping Gene up.
The guard looked gobsmacked, rubbing his eyes and tipping his hat. In his defense, he wasn’t the only one as they had an audience present and it wasn’t something they would see every day. Then the House-Elf snapped his fingers and the wands discharged blunt magical force, sending the man back as though he had been hit by a car and smack into the side of a train with enough force to dent it.
He didn’t move after that, but he was still alive. The screaming started about a second after their wands fell to their hands and started spewing Red Sparks (Vermillious) and Green Sparks (Verdimillious). The sparks themselves flew around and crashed into windows, burning the panes, light bulbs, shattering them, and overall being a distraction.
“Damn,” Harry ground out as he looked at his wand and then the train where the House-Elf was no longer to be found. Harry felt bad about the guard, who was just doing his job and seemed like a decent sort. He hoped the man could be helped but, since his wand wasn’t responding to his commands at the moment and he didn’t know any healing spells, there wasn’t anything he could do.
“Bollocks…” Gene muttered, shielding Hedwig from the stray sparks by setting the wand on the ground away from them and placing himself between it and her. He was quite distraught that the wand he owned, which normally sang when he wielded it, was now screaming.
“This won’t end well,” Harry said, with an expression that was at best apathetic. He managed the detachment like an art form after years of neglect and dealing with Gene’s fanboys in his younger years, where anger wouldn’t help. As he stood there, amongst the flittering and fleeting red and green sparks with his brother, he was mostly discontent about the fact that no one would believe him when he said it was a House-Elf that was the cause of this, except for maybe Gene—because they were both screwed.
Gene numbly stood and turned to his brother, who seemed from his point of view eerily calm. “How bad you think it’ll be? Honestly?”
“Well, it’s illegal to own owls as pets without a license, which you don’t have. We just assaulted an authority figure, who is luckily still breathing considering he dented the side of a train and will need attending by a Healer most likely to reverse the damage fast enough. We dented the train with the man’s body and the sparks blew out some lights and windows, so that’s vandalism I suppose, and we are unintentionally causing a public disruption that’s interrupting their service and costing them money, for which they may be able to sue. Lastly, we are carrying illegal substances in the potions and ingredients, which will be a different beast altogether.” Harry finished factually.
“We?” Gene repeated. “What do you mean ‘we’? This wasn’t us!”
Harry shook his head. “It was our wands and no one will believe me when I say that the culprit was a House-Elf that we’ve never seen before. We’re taking the heat for this.”
“If those are just the problems on the non-magical side…” Gene trailed off as if that was the good news, before licking his lips that felt dry and croaking out the bad news. “The Ministry will have people here in at least a minute—”
“And, considering that because of the Trace and the proximity of the magic this qualifies as underage magic and violating the stature of secrecy, given there is well over a hundred people here…I think we’d get off easier if tried by the mundane system,” Harry supplemented for him.
Gene’s expression quickly turned as the sound of apparation pops filled the station. He only had one final question. “Can they actually send minors to Azkaban?”
“We’re about to find out,” Harry said with a sigh the moment the wands stopped sparking. He was willing to bet the entrance to platform nine and three-quarters was now opened again as well, just as the train was leaving given the time. It screamed set-up.
Given the circumstances, he felt a second swear was appropriate. “Damn.”
Lucius Malfoy looked placidly at his goblet with cold grey eyes, the lingering taste of the Superior Red wine brewed from his family’s apothecary tickling his tongue, as flames danced in the fireplace of his study. He was having a moment of reflection as he reviewed the events of the last two days, from the moment he and Draco were in Diagon Alley to mere minutes ago.
After ridding himself of some poisons, once said to be the same type as that which killed Hepzibah Smith, that would be discreetly taken care of by Borgin, he proceeded to Flourish and Blotts to await the Weasley family and purchase the necessary text for his son…even those written by that insufferable fraud, Lockhart. If that man was the only one that Dumbledore could get for the position then he almost pitied the falling standards of his alma mater. That would change once the aged wizard was ousted.
He also made a note to have Draco undergo an owl-correspondence course in Dark Arts with an accredited graduate of Durmstrang. He would not accept less than an “O” in his O.W.L for the course and using the upcoming year as an excuse when that point rolled around was unacceptable.
While he had instructed Draco to announce himself and draw their attention, he expected a reaction which he could capitalize on. From there he proceeded and accomplished the task that had been set into motion over twelve years ago by the Dark Lord himself. The humiliation his son endured was entirely on his own fault, for both not expecting the retaliation and for resorting to simply insulting one based on blood when the scions of the Weasleys managed to rile him up rather than the other way around.
He had warned Draco to be more subtle when in public about his opinions. They were civilized and had to act respectable in the public eye. To use the term befitting the bushy-haired witch when all else failed weakened the truth of the matter since it was a last resort. It was not to be used as an excuse when bested because your own pure blood was not used to its fullest extent, as the scions of the ginger-haired family did in this case.
He responded appropriately by reminding his scion of this fact once he had capitalized on it by side-along apparating them back to St. Mugino’s. While he was only hit by hexes, a ridiculous set of them that could have been gleamed out of Curses and Counter-Curses and that only children would find amusing, he slipped the Healer who attended them some extra coin to state there were complications since it was a mishmash of hexes not normally used together.
A Head-Engorgement (Engorgio Skullus) that made his head swell upon being hit by the pale green bolt of magic. His normally silver-blond hair sprouted longer like a weed and stood tall with the application of the Hair-Raising hex (Stoprocerus). To finish it off as the worst insult they changed his hair into the same shade of color as that of the Weasleys with the Color Changing Charm (Colovaria).
He had no idea how the boy looked like a “Troll Doll” as the mudblood called him. Trolls looked nothing like that. Considering his sources told him of an incident last year involving one and her, he would think the girl had memory problems from her lower breeding.
But the humiliation his son endured did ultimately serve a greater purpose beyond his original plans. He leveled a complaint against both the Potters and the Weasleys. That alone would cost them in both finances and reputation, but it played into another scheme he came up on the fly.
He had sent out his House-Elf to violate the stature of secrecy in a manner that would be blamed on both the scions of the Potter house within the Ministry. The servant’s breed of magic was quite useful when properly utilized, given that they were normally seen as docile help that lived to serve. Now they were both in the Ministry, where Fudge would decide on their punishment in such a violation.
He had already suggested to Fudge they be made an example out of. Furthermore he backed it with a healthy donation from his set aside funds for such a matter, stored outside of Gringotts with no parchment-trail, so to speak. To top it off, he offered the man a chance to use one of his more remote vacation homes that was near a resort…where Veela tended to service those who were considered VIP’s.
It goes without saying that his name was on the list after a quick call from Lucius.
He was positive Dumbledore would move to protect at least the Boy-Who-Lived, distracting anyone from the Diary. The aged wizard would retract the expulsion and perhaps even get there in time to prevent the wands from being snapped using his clout. But it would cost him a bit of influence and his power base, a notch carved in that would grow deeper over time as Lucius exerted more of his power until it fell…at least had it been done properly anyway.
Minutes ago he got his hands on the argument made by the spare scion, which Lucius had no doubt that it would mitigate the damage done. Even considering the stigma placed on the boy for the murder of a teacher, the aged wizard would take the boy’s words to heart. Dumbledore will have gotten the same argument from one of his sources, if he read the man right, so it would give him a line to trace and find some method of their innocence without relying on good faith alone.
Lucius would capitalize on that stigma one day, the spare scion’s expulsion or imprisonment seen as a method of handling a murderous child that slept in the same place as the children of other witches and wizards. It would further weaken the Potter name. Perhaps he’d even get that Skeeter woman on board for it since her brand of muckraking was quite effective at slander.
All-in-all, it was a near perfect plan that also served as a lesson for Draco on how a Malfoy handles things. The boy had to learn he could not act in his name every time something bothered or offended him…even if it were true.
Yes, they were wealthy. Yes, they were powerful. Yes, his blood made him precious by the standards of wizards and his breeding perfect. But such things were fleeting if not properly wielded.
Lucius felt like celebrating a bit at the moment actually. Now that Draco was gone, perhaps he would rekindle his romance with Narcissa by whisking her away somewhere romantic on a whim. It always paid to keep their marriage strong by mixing things up a little…
But for now he had to deal with his servant’s lackluster performance.
“Dobby, appear before me,” he ordered. The House-Elf apparated in with a near silent pop at Lucius’ feet. “You have failed in your task. This displeases me.”
“D-Dobby did as you asked, Master,” the House-Elf claimed.
“Yes, but you did so poorly and were seen by one of them,” he pointed out, his tone as placid as if talking about the weather. “That was unacceptable and diminished the overall effect of my goals. Punish yourself for an hour in the cellar and then clean the blood off the wall.”
When the House-Elf disapparated to do as ordered Lucius took a sip of his wine. His next move would be determined by the events that transpired and how soon the Chamber of Secrets was opened. With his position as part of the Board of Governors and with galleons in hand, he could do much at that point.
Ministry of Magic, Level 2, Improper Use of Magic Department – Hopkirk’s office
Mafalda Hopkirk, Commander-in-Chief of the Improper Use of Magic Office, settled her hazel eyes on the pair of wizards before her, their actions today having added to her graying hair. She felt…tired, with the questioning going on for a while now.
They were not authorized to use any truth serum of any kind, but given that what happened seemed fairly straight forward she only awaited word from the Minister of Magic himself on what their punishment would be. Still, she couldn’t help but let her displeasure be known. “You should both be ashamed of yourselves for the damage you’ve done today.”
“I told you what happened!” Harry exclaimed for the fifth time.
Mafalda pursed her lips and exhaled thickly through her nostrils as she recounted his excuse aloud. “Yes, a nameless House-Elf appeared on top of the train in the station and used its magic to make your wands discharge multiple times. You’ll have to forgive me if I find such a story to be bullocks coming from two twelve year olds when we have it on good authority that this was a case of sibling rivalry that escalated to the point you were unwilling to wait until you could get on the train or behind the barrier before you started your mischief—including seriously injuring a muggle!”
“We didn’t do it,” Gene insisted this time.
“Enough of your lies,” she ground out in a frustrated voice, rubbing her temples at the growing headache. “Let me tell you the extent of the damage you caused, hm?
“A majority of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad was called in to deal with everything, including bringing in extra Obliviators from headquarters to handle the number of witnesses. We had to lock down the station for two hours to ensure everyone was taken care of and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee has to come up with a reason these people will be late for their jobs and travel and such.”
An excuse that involved roman candles and illegal fireworks I bet, Harry thought. At this point nothing further could be said. The report was delivered and all they were waiting for was Minister Fudge’s judgment.
The moment Mafalda felt a familiar probe of a vibe setting in, telepathy via magic, and confirmed that it was indeed actually official through the standard level of safeguards, her visage was one that quickly became impassive as Mafalda strode over to her desk and lifted the pair’s wands for them to see, positioning both ends in a grip. “After consulting with Minister Fudge, a decision has been made…Harry James Potter and Gene Amaranth Potter. You are both hereby expelled from Hogwarts and your wands are to be snapped immediately.”
The sound of two wands snapping at once, that followed the decree, rang throughout the room.
Lucius Malfoy: Yeah, he’s got a brain to offset the stupid evil you normally see. The man is supposed to be debonair and wealthy so he should at least act the part before all but the Dark Lord himself as he’s replacing Canon Snape in certain roles. When Draco says his father is a great man in this fic, he will mean it—not a good one, but great villains are rare in a HP fanfic for using their brains and I want to give it a go.
Severus Snape: Snape is a legitimate traitor to the Death Eaters because Lily survived here, meaning his usefulness is not as a spy to Dumbledore, but a sounding board and someone who can think to the dark extent Dumbledore won’t and do what he can’t. For Dumbledore he is proof that love can redeem and the next best thing to getting Voldemort to turn to the Light.
Gene Potter: Amaranth is an imaginary flower that is supposed to be undying. James was the one who named Gene in this one, since he wanted the name to be a flower to match Lily, while Lily named Harry after his father. Finding a male flower name proved to be annoying, for the record.
Harry Potter: Lucius calls him the spare scion since they only way for him to be head of the house is if something happened to Gene and he considers Harry to be a spare in case the Boy-Who-Lived died.
End Note: Yeah, that tirade about the house system was not planned but considering that today a boatload of inspiration hit me for all of my writings, there we go. If there was an outside force at work, you have my thanks for being a muse.
Chapter 6: Potions and Bridges
Note: This chapter is courtesy of a burst of inspiration after reading the Harry Potter/ Fate Stay Night Crossover, The Trinity by Kieran at Beast’s Lair.
Lily Potter gazed upon the indifferent stare of her youngest twin son and felt a sense of guilt as the image of a young Severus Snape overlapped it. The resemblance in their visage at that moment was too uncanny to deny, as though a mirror image or a sign of what was to come. Seeing that look on one of the two treasures she had given birth to…it shook her to her core, knowing the path that awaited ahead.
Just the same, she thought to herself. He’s going to be just the same if we don’t do something about it.
Isolation that bred Anger. Desire for Predominance, Respect, and Power—all seeds of one who walks along the abyss, only to be drawn into it like an eddy, which would dye him in a coat of black and blood. While he would one day arrive at that point of all he hoped for, he would stand there and have nothing left to surround himself with and wallow in the solitude of the empty void he threw himself into.
Looking back, having both Harry and Gene at Hogwarts for most of the year was bad enough in a sense. For her, even though it had been decades ago, going home after school and spending time with her parents and sister seemed like an alien notion after being immersed in the world of magic for so long. Part of Harry’s accusations about her having been too distant with her non-magical heritage was spot-on in that aspect.
She hadn’t considered what Petunia must have felt like. After that spat between James and her husband they had just stopped talking to one another. Honestly, did being separated from her so long during her school years make splitting them apart so much easier?
A strong and steady hand grasped her shoulder as her son vanished along with the portkey to wherever the camp was. She didn’t turn to look at who it was. There was no doubt in her mind that it belonged to her husband, which was only reinforced when he spoke. “Are you alright?”
Lily crossed her arms and shook her head. “I just wished there was another way. This feels…hands-off compared to how things were when I was growing up, before magic and all. Like we can’t help him with his problems and instead just pawned him off because he was too much trouble.”
James positioned himself next to her, wrapping his arm around her back to embrace her shoulder on the other side. “He won’t let us help him and he’s committed crimes, in addition to the violence at Hogwarts. Whatever problems with us he’s had have been built up like armor against us and used to spread the misery around. It needs to be broken by a third-party so we can try to reach the person who’s hiding beneath the surface.”
“Perhaps you’re right…” Lily rested her head on his shoulder as she embraced him, allowing for her husband’s warmth to flow through her body and comfort her on the decision. “I just hope he’ll be okay and know that we did this for his own good.”
“It’ll be fine,” James assured her once more. “They’ll soften him up, show him what’ll happen if he keeps on the path he’s on, and he’ll be back before you know it. After that we can try again before he goes off to a better year than before at Hogwarts.”
His words were betrayed by his eyes however, as he himself had his doubts. He would keep them to himself for the time being, in order to avoid distressing Lily further. “Come on, love. We’ve got to get to the Longbottom’s place to see Augusta.”
With Harry – Three Days Later
For all their faults James and Lily had good intentions in sending me off to a reformation camp, Harry Potter told himself as he rubbed the bridge of his eyes. That’s why I’m not going to drug their coffee and tea with Draught of the Living Dead…maybe. I’ll flip a galleon later on it.
The camp was a fair idea in the long run, with the potential to do great things for those who needed a step in the right direction. He could see the use of portkeying troublesome youths out to a remote wilderness at Merlin-knows-where in order to deal with their problems. After being cooped up in his room he actually relished the wilderness a bit, just not the lack of his books and wand so he could something productive.
Unfortunately the standards appeared to have fallen over the years since its inception. It was run by incompetents who were put there because of lackluster work ethic or needed to fill a quota of service hours, rather than a genuine like of children and teens at and under the age of fourteen.
For starters there were only five adults to over thirty youths, the most important of them being the overseer and the healer, meaning there wasn’t enough staff to deal with the number of youths or give them actual direction. There was no personalization for dealing with the reason each individual was sent here or criteria, merely a five-hour lecture (which you could sleep through) and then a period of doing whatever the hell you wanted every day. They just accepted them if the parents said they had a problem and paid the fee, which Harry suspected was a way to get out of dealing with some of their kids until roughly a week before Hogwarts.
For example there were Megan Jones and Peter Jones, fraternal twins who attended Hogwarts. One was a Hufflepuff and the other was a Gryffindor. They were sent to the camp because they wouldn’t stop hexing each other, rather than say simply taking their wands and putting them in separate rooms.
That meant there was no real reformation for those who actually had problems, Harry thought. Really, I should contact the Ministry Official overseeing this and just have them close it down, but let’s be honest in that it pulls in extra coin for them at minimal expenses. And most of them leave me alone after what happened before I left—
“Ow!” Harry rubbed the back of his head after something hit it, followed by the sound of a nut hitting the floor of the wooden cabin. He turned to see a slender male, with sharp eyes, named Gregory Munslow.
He was a Hufflepuff third year student, going on fourth when the term started, who proved that not all the trouble went towards the Slytherin house, considering how he felt the need to antagonist Harry daily with jabs. If things turned violent it would end badly for Harry here. Wands weren’t allowed so his parents confiscated his before he could bring it, meaning it was simply a case of might against might, which Harry was ill-equipped to deal with in a tiny twelve year old body.
Of course I could outrun him or go with the ages old method of bashing his skull in with a rock, Harry mused, before shaking off the thought as Munslow approached. “What do you want, Munslow?”
“Someone wants to see you,” he said, violet pupils gazing down on the younger boy. “You’re coming with me.”
Harry snorted a bit at that. “Why would I go with you anywhere?”
Munslow’s response was to grab the raven-colored hair on the back of Harry’s head and drive it into the thick wood of the table, splintering it as blood flowed from a cut and left the eleven year-old dazed as he lifted him onto his feet and led him towards the door.
As they passed through the opening Munslow noticed one of the staff members coming up and shifted his hand around so it looked like he was supporting the injured boy. When the staff member questioned what happened due to the blood, he lied. “He hit his head pretty bad. I’m escorting him to the Healer.”
Once again their lack of dedication to their job was shown as the staff member merely nodded and went on his way, leaving Harry to trot along at the older boy’s hands while the world tilted. Relief only came when they approached a tent and Gregory shunted him through the opening.
Rather than hitting thin fabric over the twig covered earth, he hit carpet instead and groaned as his senses came back to him enough to realize it was a customized wizarding tent. An expansion charm of sorts turned what should have been at best a few feet into the size of a living room, four torches with Bluebell flames dancing in the corners, and a wooden table with a chair for him. On the other end of the table were two young women, the age difference between them apparent in their figures, and a tent-fox with grayish fur.
The first young woman, the eldest, was in a fancy chair that spoke of wealthy with an ottoman propping up her feet. She was fairly tall, long black-hair that looked like silk, and was dressed in an immaculate white robe.
The second, the one literally fanning her with a fan made of what looked to be peacock feathers, was somewhat shorter. With brown hair and matching eyes, her fair skin was shrouded in an aquatic hue from the flames near her. Harry felt like he should recognize her from somewhere but couldn’t place a name to the face.
“Gregory, I wanted him here without being harmed,” the first woman said, her voice smooth like velvet.
“He resisted,” was Gregory’s casual response.
Harry, on the other hand, just wanted answers and something for the pain. “Can someone please tell me what’s going on here?”
The eldest woman motioned for him to take a seat. “My name is Gayle Pocklington. Do you know of me?”
“I know the family name belongs to some rather skilled apothecaries, but the blow to the head has left me a wee-bit dizzy,” he answered as he sat down to get off the floor.
“I’ll be quick about it then so you can see the Healer,” Gayle stated. She then raised a hand to grab loosely on the fabric of the other girl’s shirt and gave it a tug. “Leanne, clean him up and give him the peace offering, will you love?”
Leanne put down the fan and fetched from her pocket three articles, extending her hand for him to take them.
“My pen, pocket notebook, and ocarina?” Harry took the peace-offering gingerly as Leanne then produced handkerchief to wipe up the blood and had him hold it to his head. The items had been confiscated upon arrival after they searched his belongings as contraband. A precaution they claimed, stating they would supply him with quill and parchment, while the ocarina was because the camp was supposed to be a punishment and no instruments were allowed. “You didn’t retrieve any of the books I brought, did you?”
“Not this time,” she said. “Just consider what you have a simple show of that I can get you whatever you need inside here without raising any heads.”
Harry blinked at the underlying meaning. “You run the contraband trade?”
She nodded. “That’s right. Whatever you need, as long as you do something for me.”
Putting his belongings away, he skipped the small talk. “What do you want from me then?”
Gayle snapped her fingers again and Leanne presented him with a folded parchment from her other pocket. “I heard about your reputation of being a potioneer that’s quite good for your age. Tell me what effects those put together make.”
“…this is some kind of hallucinogen at a glance,” Harry said after a moment, thankful that after Snape had rode him that first class he went through a copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi. “Alihotsy Leaves causes a state of hysteria by stimulating the pleasure sense of the brain while the Angel’s Trumpets are known for generating hallucinations, but are highly poisonous. Whatever this brew listed on here is, drinking it is fatally hazardous.”
“But if you inhale the fumes it would cause a pleasure inducing state of euphoria similar to a psychedelic for a short-term,” Gayle added. “You are intelligent. I thought after my last guy was carted off to Azkaban it was a stretch, but if anyone can recreate it then it would be the non-Slytherin that Snape complimented for his skill in potion-making and who made those Howler Busters.”
“This can’t be legal,” Harry stated.
Gayle shrugged. “There are no laws against it, since this is a relatively new thing. Even if it were…well, no profit can be made with crossing a few silly laws.”
Harry’s eyebrows arched. “Seriously, you do know I’m related to an Auror, right?”
Granted they weren’t on good terms and damn well wouldn’t be after this. But he had a point. This was risky inherently, something that Mundungus pointed out would bar him from some of the shadier activities that lurked in the magical world.
“A flat fee of fifty galleons and whatever you need if you’re in,” Gayle offered, ignoring that last statement. “You get half upfront and half on delivery. Badger Pride on fair play and all.”
“While that is tempting,” Harry admitted, “if I refuse?”
“Well, I can’t force you,” she admitted. “I could have Gregory beat the daylights out of you, but we know that won’t do a thing given your reputation. We could curse you, but it couldn’t be anything permanent or truly damaging so it wouldn’t hold much sway. You can refuse and there’s nothing I can do about it…but why would you?”
Gayle stood and sauntered over to Harry, placing her hands on his shoulders. For some inexplicable reason she felt the need to rub them, as though violating his personal space wasn’t enough as she leaned in and whispered in his ears seductively. “I can make things comfortable around here for you. Besides, you’re a businessman aren’t you?”
“What of it?” Harry asked, curious to see where it would go. More than that, he could pick up just a minor scent coming off her, somewhat alluring enough to hold his attention. Still, he was twelve and the proximity between them was something he would prefer be respected. “And can I get some space here?”
“Well, like you, I’m providing a product to consumers,” she reasoned, pulling away. “I’m not forcing it on anyone and, quite frankly, things are a little dull around here without something of interest to spice it up. You’ve got a sharp mind and matching talent, Potter, and it’s wasting away for you to be here when you clearly don’t want to. Work with me and you can profit while I provide you whatever you desire.”
I could use my reading materials to brush up on spells and research, while the money for future endeavors and such. But I’m no fool, Harry thought to himself. What she’s asking me is illegal and she knows I could report her. She also knows that while physically threatening me won’t work, the fact that she’s telling me all this means that she’s playing another angle.
Harry licked his lips and met her gaze. He ultimately decided to agree, if only to play it safe and make the best out of circumstances. “We do this and it gets traced back to me, we’re going to have some problems…understand?”
“You’ve got a lot of bark for a twelve year-old,” she noted, putting on a smile. “I like it. As long as you don’t steal or use my product, I think we can do business for a long time.”
Harry shrugged. “Let’s see how this goes before anything else, but we’re galleon on the two conditions you set. To start with I’ll need somewhere to work, private and isolated away from the campsite, as well as ventilated so that it can air out.
“I’ll also need a cauldron, standard potion-making equipment, and a wand, obviously,” he finished. Besides for the potion, he could use it to get some practice in. They weren’t in England anymore judging by the plant-life and he sincerely doubted the Trace was active outside its range. “Also those books I brought in had some spells that would prove useful, including one that would prevent me from inhaling the fumes, savvy?”
“You’ll have them by tonight,” she stated with an air of confidence. “As for the wand, Leanne, if you will?”
Leanne presented a wand to him. It wasn’t the best work he’d seen. Granted it wasn’t lacking polish and made of a less than hearty wood, but when he touched it and allowed his magic to flow in it, he noted whatever was used as the core of it lacked the sensation of sentience found in a normal wand.
For all intensive purposes it was merely a tool that offered nothing in return. A wand that neither chose a wizard nor shunned them. An empty channel for magic that his own wand would trump by a large magnitude.
Gayle answered the unasked question. “It’s a toss-away. Think of it as a type of wand of sorts that you would give little children to help with the bouts of accidental magic, but refurbished for practical use rather than making pretty sparks and such. I picked it up from a backdoor wand-maker and, while it doesn’t meet the standards of the any official wand-maker, it’ll get the job done.”
Harry decided to test that for himself casted a spell. Ethereal mist poured forth and coalesced into the form of a smaller-than-expected spectral dog that stared at its creator, awaiting a command, before he dismissed it. “Definitely not up to standards, even with full effort and natural talent, but it’ll do. I’ll cut five galleons off the finished product for it at the end of this…arrangement.”
Gayle put on a smile that showed pearly teeth. “Wonderful. In that case, Gregory will finish escorting you to the Healer to make sure you aren’t concussed and get something for the pain. Then, later tonight, Leanne will show you the way to somewhere you can brew in peace and find what you asked for.”
“I can get to the Healer myself.” Harry stood up and left as he held the handkerchief to his head, giving the older teen that inflicted the wound in the first place a once-over on his way. He set aside a place for him on the get-back list later on. “Be seeing you, Munslow.”
The Hufflepuff enforcer put on a rather sharp smirk. “For your sake I hope not, Potter.”
After that the day passed uneventfully until night had fallen, a curtain of black beneath the ever shining stars above, and Harry Potter proceeded into the wood while following the guidance of Leanne. While everyone else slept, the adults relied on an alarm spell on the doors and windows to know if anyone left. However, Leanne had been shown a way in used by repeat camp-goers, which Gayle had been.
Apparently someone took it upon themselves to make a sort of escape tunnel through the liberal use of the Gouging Spell as well as a simple Mending Charm to repair the section of floor removed before modifying it so that it could be raised and lowered like a trapdoor. Curiously the underside of the exit had ‘F.W. & G.W. were here’ carved on it.
She led him alongside a rock face, running her hand against it, until she found a deep impression that looked to be a “W” and patted it. Then she pulled out the throw-away wand and cast a spell directly at the impression. “Descendo!”
A blue bolt vacated the wand and hit the mark, spreading along the way as a section of the wall descended to make a cavern mouth. The cavern itself was too smooth to be naturally made and somewhat deep. Three dais dwelled around a fire pit and kindling beneath the collapsible cauldron, one holding several sheets of parchment and the books he asked for, including a copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, while the others held the standard equipment of potion-making and the ingredients. On the walls were gouges that housed some containers with Bluebell flames inside to illuminate the darkness, and in the ceiling there was a natural vent with a clear view of the night sky, directly above the cauldron.
“Alright,” Harry said as he stepped inside and the wall rose behind him again to seal off the exit for privacy, “I’m impressed. But how did you know the wall could descend without bringing down the whole thing there?”
“Gayle said that she found it while exploring the woods one day,” Leanne explained.
“So she has no idea who set it up beforehand?” Harry asked as he flipped through one of his text for the chapter that went over the Bubble-Head charm.
“No,” Leanne said. Then she set on one of the dais a phial containing a violet liquid. “This is what the finished potion should look like. When in contact with the air it begins a chemical process that makes it evaporate and fume rapidly.”
Harry walked over and inquisitively stared at the container and the fluid within. “I assume she used Scarpin’s Revelaspell to confirm that the ingredients she provided for me are indeed the ingredients used in the potion?”
Leanne scratched her head as she sat on a stool, having been assigned to watch him the entire time or assist when needed. “I can’t say…”
“Well then it’s time to reap the benefits of having access to some text I really shouldn’t have for helping a dunderhead,” he stated cryptically with a smile on his face as he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and grabbed the wand, pointing it to the phial. “Potio Revelias.”
A grayish mass of magic left the wand and touched the phial, before seeming becoming a kaleidoscope of colors that seamlessly blended and forced him to squint his eyes to separate them in his mind. Harry then set the pocket notebook down next to the copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi textbook, flipping it open and skimming to the pages with the relevant ingredients listed on the parchment and comparing it to the colors listed on each page under Scarpin’s Color guide.
They matched so he reviewed what he knew about the ingredients that matched what was supplied. Flobberworm Mucus, used to thicken potions normally because of the texture…I hated milking those things during that detention with Snape. Infusion of Wormwood, Horklump Caps and Alihotsy Leaves, I already know what they can do. Fire Seeds can’t be handled without the Freezing Charm from the second year material and Angel Trumpets can’t be handled without gloves since they’re narcotic and every part of the plant was poisonous.
After taking into account what effect each one did individually he had to take into account what they could do together and proceed with minimal instructions. It was risky, but he could do this and it would further his skill as a potioneer if he chose to go down that road.
Cracking his neck and rolling his shoulders, Harry got down to business.
At the Burrow – Two Weeks Later
It was at the two week mark that the rest of the Potter family visited one of their distantly related families, the Weasleys. While they had a number of other distantly related families, like the Bulstrodes and Malfoys, through the Black family ties stemming from Dora Black, most of them had supported the rise of the Dark Lord and thus became enemies.
At the expansive dinner table sat Sirius, James, Ginny, Gene, and the twins, all of whom were listening as Sirius regaled with tales of the Marauders. It led to the following conversation.
“Dad, are ever you going to teach me and Ron to be an Animaguses so we can try that prank you pulled on Snivellus?” Gene asked. “I figured me and Ron, are going to be the next Marauders so we may as well get the whole package.
“You are aware that I’m an Auror, right?” James reminded him. “I’d have to register you. Besides, your mother said no antagonizing him this year.”
“Besides, you need four members,” Sirius tacked on. “After you’ve got the last two members, you sort into roles. If we’re going traditional you need a prankster who can prank the devil himself, a guy who gets all the birds, a smart one for when you need an excuse, and a cautious bloke who looks out behind you for trouble. ”
“There’s Hermione,” Gene offered. “She’s really smart and got some of the best grades. She’s even been helping me and Ron since that troll thing. Neville would be the cautious one though.”
Sirius nodded. “There you go, Marauders assembled. Now, the first step in becoming an Animagus is—”
“No Sirius,” Lily stated as she entered the room with Molly, carrying the food and tea. “The boys have gotten into mischief enough last year in Hogwarts. Adding the ability to change into something else would only magnify the problem. Let the Marauders end with you, Remus, and James.”
“Heresy!” Sirius croaked. “It has to be carried on! It’s bad enough you wouldn’t let us give them the Map last year.”
It was then George and Fred spoke up. “If they can’t we’ll take the mantle, won’t we Fred old boy?”
Fred agreed. “Right you are! Me and George got that role covered enough for two each.”
“So help me if you boys get into any more trouble at that school. That Non-Magical-Folk Protection Act your father is trying to get passed is already turning heads and if disruptions by any of you or getting expelled from Hogwarts because your little pranks have gone too far causes damage to your father’s credibility…” Molly trailed off , leaving the implied threat hanging as she sat down and sipped her tea at the thought of those two’s antics.
Fred shook his head. “Now Mum, we’re only in it until we take off with our products—”
“—after all, between us and Harry we might have a real future in the business industry.” George finished for his twin. Then he looked around for the other Potter twin. “Speaking of which, where is he so we can talk about improvements to those fancy little busters of his.”
“Ah, we felt it best if we sent him away for a month to camp,” Lily confessed as she sat next to her husband. “I didn’t know you boys were close though.”
“He’s a reasonable bloke on most ends,” George admitted.
“But he’s a might uptight like Percy is,” Fred confessed. “Makes it hard to work with him too closely.”
Two weeks and no letters or anything from him, Lily thought to herself. The mail we sent was never responded to either, but we know he gets it. We may have made things worse in the long run…
James peered over his copy of the Daily Prophet and noticed Lily deep in thought after the subject of their wayward son was brought up. Their thoughts mirrored each other pretty well, so he had an idea of what she was thinking about at that moment. His plan wasn’t likely working and in another week-and-a-half he would be back, with no progress made.
“Ginny, go get Ron and tell him it’s time for dinner,” Molly ordered after finishing her tea, before turning to the twins. “One of you boys go and get your father from his shed too.”
“I’ll go,” the eldest Potter volunteered. Given that Harry always seemed fond of Arthur when they visited, he could give him more insight into curbing his son’s bad habits and behavior. “I wanted to talk to him anyway about some business at the Ministry.”
Leaving the Burrow to head to the shed, James knocked at the door. “Arthur, can I come in?”
“Sure,” came through the door. When James entered he found Arthur Weasley adjusting his glasses as he inspected the wiring of a small television that had its case removed, attached to a hand operated electric generator. “Just give me a moment, will you?”
He tapped the crank attached to the generator with his wand and it began to spin, faster than a human would be capable of continuously, charging the battery it was attached to that was feeding electricity through the wires. The hum of it entering the television was barely audible, but Arthur pressed the button to power it on. There was a flicker, the screen coming to life for a brief moment…
Then came the sparks and smoke as the screen fizzled out. Using his wand to vanish the smoke and cease the spinning of the generator crank, he regarded it as another failure. “Back to the books it seems…or maybe I need to think of another method, older perhaps?”
“There’s too much magic around here for anything electrical to work,” James told him.
Arthur waved it off as he removed his glasses. “I know, that’s the problem. While the generator is mechanical and works well enough, the telly is another thing entirely and the inner workings escape me beyond a certain level. But, if I could somehow shield them from the effects then we can start watching the movies like I saw at this theater some time ago with Harry. You remember, I told you I had dragged him along with me through London?”
James nodded. “That Christmas I remember. You mentioned he wandered around a lot unsupervised. Since then we paid more attention, but he mostly stayed with his head in his books after that. When he disappeared off the train from Hogwarts and left out without telling us we confronted him on it, but…he’s changed quite a bit from then and was manipulative in dealing with Sirius and Lily, bringing her sister into it.
“Then, after he was ungrounded he proceeded to commit an actual crime with this other boy, according to Sirius. I had to send him away to that camp that Bones set up some time back,” James finished with an exasperated sigh.
Arthur picked up the underlying tone of the sigh and turned to face him. “What troubles you, James?”
“Besides the criminal activity?” he jested, before getting serious. “Lily’s worried about Harry after his brush with death in the castle, although she puts on a brave front…Arthur, be straight with me. Do you think we’ve earned Harry’s hatred as parents?”
“Well, it isn’t my place to say,” Arthur told him as he recalled the discussion he had with Harry those years ago.”From your perspective he is going down a bad path, and from his he feels like you’ve neglected him for so long that it won’t matter if he does. ”
James leaned against the desk and rubbed the bridge of his eyes beneath his glasses. “The problem is that he says he has no intention of forgiving us, no matter how much we try. I can live with that, after all teenage boys and fathers don’t usually get along, but Lily won’t be able to and it troubles me to no end when she feels that way.”
“Hmm…” Arthur thought on the problem until he came up with something.”Did you know that Molly has a second cousin, Thomas De Lucas is what he goes by now after he took his wife’s family name. I really should remember the name of what he does, but the gist is he’s some kind of money-handler of sorts in the mundane world?”
James shook his head. “I didn’t know.”
“That’s because we never talked about him,” Arthur said, followed with a sigh. “He was a Squib. We lost contact with him some time back after he offended Molly, until an associate of mine helped me find him since I wanted to learn more about their side of things and potentially see about hiring one or two Squibs as temp help of sorts, in identifying some things when it came to my job as head of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts—shortage of space and staff and all.”
“How’d he take that?” James asked.
“He was mad of course,” Arthur explained. “We had cut him off and when he left words were said that hurt as much as an Unforgivable. While I left him my contact information in hopes of making amends and a connection, he never called. I understood perfectly and didn’t blame him for it, since we all burned that bridge in the first place.”
“So, in this instant, he’s Harry in comparison?”
Arthur nodded. “Funny thing is he contacted me last month. His little girl of nine years old, Malfalda, showed a bout of accidental magic against all odds while throwing a tantrum. Growing up as part of the magical world and watching his cousins and family, he knew the signs and wanted to see if she was registered at Hogwarts, since she was born in Britain, absolute proof she was a witch.
James rubbed his chin in thought. “Only the Deputy Headmistress and Headmaster can do that, I think.”
“I asked Dumbledore for a favor,” Arthur confided. “Asked him to check the Book of Admittance when he had the time since he’s the only one who knows how it works, including sorting through it from what I’ve heard. Told him it was to mend bridges. Last week he told me that she was registered to join in two years.
“When I told Thomas he wanted to see if it were possible to have us smooth her entrance into the magical world before she gets involved in the schooling. Now Molly forbids bringing up the subject of Thomas so I haven’t mentioned to her about it yet, but I’m hoping by that time rolls around I can convince her to let the child stay for the summer before she attends,” he finished.
“Giving you a chance to make amends and rebuild the bridge that was burned?” James guessed.
Arthur stood and placed a firm hand on James’ shoulder. “The moral of the story is that there will always be opportunities to rebuild bridges as long as both parties try, James. Harry feels slighted, betrayed, and neglected, but he is young and there may be a time when he will extend a hand for help that you can use to try and mend the gap. Just be ready to take it at that moment.”
James nodded slowly at that, seeing the logic behind it. “It’s sound advice. Thanks.”
Arthur smiled as he put back on his glasses. “Now, we’ve been in here for too long and I’m guessing Molly sent you. I don’t want to upset her more than she already is, so let’s get going, shall we?”
With Harry – One Week Later
Night fell once more as the week passed and Harry’s stay at the camp was nearing its end.
He yawned heavily and rubbed the bridge of his eyes as he went over the process for the potion for the fiftieth time. So far he had gone through twenty-seven variations of what he thought it could be, five of them closer than the rest with three having different effects…including one that he would find beneficial in the future.
This time, however, he believed he had it. As Professor Snape had said, potion-making was a subtle science. Every process held some change, from the slicing method to whether the ingredients were added whole or snapped in half.
The key is the fire seeds and the flobberworm mucus, he mused before casting the Bubble-Head charm once more for protection. The mucus isn’t just to thicken the potion so it doesn’t evaporate quickly, but it’s the base of it. I’ve already exhausted most of the supplies trying to make it a liquid when its closer to a paste or balm, the liquefaction is a result of the fire seeds being crushed and applied liberally, but I can’t cool them down with the Freezing Spell like I have been.
Moving over to the dais with equipment from the potion-making kit, he put on the protective gloves it came with once more. With the protection in place he took out the Angel’s Trumpet from its container and set it on the dais. The sharpened knife was then used to mince the stem thoroughly and added it to a bowl, where it was mixed with an Infusion of Wormwood and stirred for two minutes, the chemicals in the two causing it to begin to bubble and produce wisps of acrid smoke.
He then set it aside to focus on the Horklump Caps, which were diced, and the dried Alihotsy Leaves, which were crumbled into a pile. Then he removed the lid from the jar of mucus, thick in consistency as bubbles that were trapped within the mass moved along with jar, and held it over the collapsible cauldron. The slimy substance clung to the jar as the contents were spilled into the small cauldron like molasses.
Next was the application of the Flame-Freezing Charm, knowledge of which was provided by the text he read. Waving his wand above his head and muttering the incantation, he then undid the cap to the jar that was containing the fire seeds, a temporal suspension spell included on it upon purchase preventing any loss of time that would cause them their potency to drop.
The white aura that enveloped him from the spell dampened the sensation of the fire seeds, allowing him to take one and toss it into the fire pit to set the kindling alight with a fearsome flame. With the flames licking at the bottom of the cauldron he watched as the mucus boiled and bubbled, he slowly added one-third of the crumbled leaves and stirred until the concoction was liquid enough to do so with ease as the color became a light hue of green. He dropped the diced caps and stirred in the counter direction ten times, magic infusing the potion as he did so. The color shifted to a reddish hue and bellowed smoke.
“Okay, so far so good,” Harry muttered within the confines of the Bubble-Head Charm. The fungi cap was punky and produced thick smoke that would escape from the opening at the top of the cavern before dispersing at this point. He let it simmer until it thinned out ten minutes later, then he added in all of the Wormwood and Angel’s Trumpet mixture, turning it a yellowish color.
Stirring in the counter direction he did before, he added the remaining leaves as the flames in the fire pit finished the last of the kindling and died slowly. At this point the potion was a light shade of purple and thickened rapidly, ready for the final step.
While the Flame-Freezing Charm was still in effect he placed another three fire seeds in the mortar and took the pestle to them, one at a time, to turn them into a fine, burning powder. The flames born of the crushing were even more intense than if the seeds were whole as each grain swallowed the oxygen in the air to consciously burn. Once done he dumped them into the concoction and watched as the thickening potion began to boil and liquefy once more with flames dancing in spouts from inside the potion.
It’s hard to breathe, Harry noted once the Bubble-Head Charm wore off. The hole in the ceiling wasn’t letting in enough oxygen given what the fire seeds consumed, With Leanne still asleep in the corner it was dangerous if the levels dropped lower. To let more air flow he lowered the entrance.
Harry then watched as it began to settle into the deep violet color, little grains of the seed powder still present and keeping the concoction warmed and liquid. All that was left was to place a Freezing Charm on it to hold it in stasis, which he did. Elated he managed to successful recreate something with only the knowledge of the ingredients, a growing testament to his skill, he allowed himself to bask in victory and turned his attention to writing down the instructions and steps in his pocket notebook.
It was long enough that the dying fire in the fire pit was reduced to a charcoal and smoldering ashes…and Harry heard the whispers of a non-familiar voice. It was like grain running against sand paper in his mind as he turned to see the embers flow from beneath the surface and the ash itself took to life, shaping itself into a serpentine form. It was thin and pale-grey, eyes that shone with a burning-red hue as it flicked its black tongue to taste the air—an Ashwinder.
Harry rubbed his eyes to and wondered if he was seeing and hearing things by inhaling some of the fumes somehow, but that notion died when it through entrance cavern and into the forest. He then remembered that they laid eggs that made fire seeds like matches compared to a blowtorch. And they were in a dry forest.
His response was a very vocal “Crap!” as he gave chase in a desperate attempt to keep up with it. If a fire broke out at this time of night it could cause a disaster with everyone sleeping. Since everyone knew how Ashwinders were made, besides hatching from eggs, they could try and trace the source of the flames and find the cavern. Then, if no one died in the conflagration, he would be charged with several other things—oh, and guilt over causing the fire in the first place.
Thankfully the serpent left a thick and ashy trail as it moved sideways into the brush, somewhat visible in the moonlight. Still, he need to use a Lighting Charm so he reached for the toss-away wand he had…only to realize he left it behind in the cavern. The serpent was getting further and further away, towards camp, and in the dark he would lose the trail eventually and it would lay its eggs.
“Get back here!” he barked in frustration, his throat feeling a slight strain. To his surprise it stopped…only to turn to him and start slithering towards him until it was inches from him. Harry found himself staring into curious glowing red eyes, all while he could hear something, like a little distant voice from it that was barely above a whisper coming from it.
Okay, maybe the fumes did get to me, he mused while trying to figure out how to deal with it before it followed instinct again and tried to run off to lay eggs. The answer came from a third-party in the form of burning jets of violet smoke that struck the serpent, the air itself hardening into a bubble that trapped it. Harry turned to find Leanne, fair skin flushed from trying to keep up, having woken up at his yell as he left the cave and chased after him.
“Are you alright?” she asked between the panting she did, a layer of sweat on her face from the run, and casting the Bubble Cage Jinx (Ebublio). “Did it bite you?”
Harry quickly shook his head and rubbed the bridge between his eyes. “I think some of those fumes got to me though. Nice jinx, by the way. I’ll have to give it a try sometime.”
“Come on then, we’ll dump it in the middle of the lake,” she declared, before muttering the incantation for the Locomotion Charm (Locomotor) taught by Flitwick last school year to lift the bubble and move it, “I doubt a snake born of fire and ash can swim. No eggs, no big fire, no questions.”
Along the way Harry stared at the snake, the sound of a voice coming from it muffled by the bubble but still there. Was his mind playing tricks on him, he wondered. Even with the Bubble-Head Charm and the vent, he was around so many of concoctions they could have lingered on his clothing and affected him later. He decided to see if a Healer could run a diagnostic on him later this morning.
Eventually Leanne asked, “Why are you staring at the snake? Do you want to keep it as a pet or something?”
“Ashwinders only live for an hour to lay their eggs, so they don’t make good pets…” Harry trailed off as he rubbed his chin in thought, although Hagrid might know if it were possible to breed them, provided you could contain the eggs without the Freezing Charm so they could hatch. Normally the eggs are used for Love Potions though so they’re more valuable that way.
Shaking his head at the thought, he then imagined his parents’ reaction to having a snake around and sighed. “But no on the pet angle either way. James and Lily aren’t big on snakes since a big one played a part in killing my Uncle Pettigrew, before its master finished the job. They won’t let us near them.”
At this point they reached the lake, which glittered like treasure under the moonlight at this hour. The bubble containing the serpent made ripples as it sank below the surface and she dispelled it, leaving the pair to listen to the water alone.
With the threat handled for the moment, Leanne sat down on the pier’s edge and exhaled thickly. “At least that’s taken care of. I saw that you finished the potion back at the cavern, so I guess this concludes our business after tonight.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s your lot in this?” Harry asked. “You don’t seem like the type to do this sort of thing.”
“I owed her for my first year as a Hufflepuff,” she explained, “While I’m a half-blood, none of my family were Hufflepuffs, but Gryffindors, making me the first to get there. I was late getting into the common room the first day because I had fell down and hurt myself, leaving me in Madam Pomfrey’s care, so I didn’t know the pass-rhythm to get past the entrance and got sprayed with vinegar before someone came to let me in. I was laughed out of the Common Room and hid in the dorm bathroom until she came and helped clean me up. We’ve been friends since then.”
Harry gave her an inquisitive look. “You seem more like her lackey than her friend,”
“Better to be a lackey to someone else and be part of a group than to be alone and without help,” she countered.
Not willing to try and counter ‘the sheep that sticks out theory’ that Padma had hit him with last year, he instead changed the topic. “What’s it like in the home of the badgers?”
She mulled over the metal image she had with a small smile. “Well, it’s down from the entrance to the kitchen beneath the Great Hall. There are plants everywhere, since Professor Sprout is the Head of House and all, and the ceiling hangs low. It’s honey-colored and warm, with overstuffed couches that are positioned just under the circular windows that let the light caress your skin.
“From the common room are tunnels we crawl through to get to the dorms, where it’s cozy because we have copper lamps, feet-warmers, and quilts. And, unlike you tower-climbers, we aren’t bothered by the outside weather.”
“Sounds nice,” Harry stated, picturing it in his head. “Maybe I’ll go have a look for myself.”
Leanne gave a short laugh. “Good luck with that. From what I’ve heard the Hufflepuff Basement hasn’t been seen in over a thousand years by non-house members and I have no intention of letting you in or telling you how to do so.”
He could only shrug nonchalantly. “Well, I like an occasional challenge and being the first one in a thousand years for nearly anything looks good on paper.”
“…you’re easier to talk to than I expected,” Leanne admitted after a moment, a smile on her face. She then stood and felt compelled to straighten her hair with her hands as she said her goodbyes to head back to the cavern to get the potion to Gayle.
When the next day came and Harry ventured into the tent in order to handle the exchange, the instructions he kept on how to make it, she was nowhere to be seen as Gayle Pocklington sat in her chair, stroking her tent-fox’s fur as it rested in her lap. “Where’s Leanne?”
“Leanne is…not available at the moment,” she said. “On another note, the test of the effects of the potion went smashingly. Perhaps a little too much so in the test doses, meaning I’ll need to divide the rations up when I sell them. But good job nonetheless.”
Harry’s stomach dropped at that. “You tested it on her!”
“Well, you knew it had to be sampled somehow and she volunteered,” Gayle defended, giving a subtle nod to Munslow at the entrance to the tent in the process. “It worked like it was supposed to, so no harm done. She’s just sleeping off the effects.”
It’s addictive depending on how much she inhaled, Harry noted to himself. Damn, I’m going to feel guilty if she ends up unable to function because of it, but I have no one else to blame for it but myself since I made the damn thing on commission.
“Anyway, did you bring the instructions for the exchange?” Gayle asked, setting the toss-away wand and the remaining galleons owed on the table.
“To be blunt, I don’t trust you,” Harry admitted. “I thought long and hard about how this would play out. In the end I stored the instructions away in a location I will give you upon payment.”
Gayle put on a pout and Gregory Munslow clamped down on Harry’s shoulders in the chair so he couldn’t escape. “Harry, Harry, this isn’t what we agreed on.”
“Neither was the fact that you planned on hitting me with a memory charm,” Harry said coolly, noting the reaction on her face. “You did well, keeping it between you and the enforcer here.”
With her intention exposed she brandished the personal wand she had kept hidden on her. She then crossed her legs and sat back in her chair, tapping the wand against her cheek. “What gave it away?”
“Well, I just recreated what you admitted to being a very potent drug and, reasonably speaking, you’re going to want to keep that on the low. I doubt my word will mean much since if I did it for money once there’s a chance I could sell it to someone else for more, so I had to assume you’d do something to silence me as a precaution.
“Since we’d both agreed that physical violence won’t work and I was pretty sure you wouldn’t kill me here it left few other options,” Harry finished with a shrug. “I’m respecting that you are someone not to be trifled with, despite only being a year or two older, and took precautions as you would in the face of someone equally dangerous, nothing more.”
Gayle…actually clapped at that and ordered Munslow to let him up. “You really are a clever one. I was planning on taking yesterday’s memories entirely since Leanne reported that’s when you got it. Taking the whole month from your head would simply be too complicated to remove without turning you into a vegetable by accident and I am not skilled enough to simply pick and choose what to take in specific.”
“So what’s the next move then?” Harry asked.
“We do this the civilized way I suppose,” Gayle said as she produced a parchment that held a binding magical contract. The contract stated that the topic which were discussed and services paid for, naturally not mentioned given the legality of it, were not to be mentioned to any living beasts or beings—outside those involved—intentionally and should he attempt it would stop him by silencing him as well as causing him pain with his own magic. In exchange he received the wand and money promised, as well as a guarantee that his memories would remain intact.
Harry found the terms acceptable and signed away, forging a connection that would come back to haunt him one day. He felt as though he sold his soul at that moment, but if it caused him trouble in the future he would deal with it then. James may have sent him here and indirectly introduced them, but the responsibilities of what he had done would be his to shoulder alone since the decision to act was his alone.
End Note: Lots of foreshadowing here, but mostly filler until he gets back to Hogwarts next chapter or two. Third year is going to be very interesting for the record, since Prisoner of Azkaban doesn’t occur in this fic.
Lessons from Thieves
After Harry’s unexplained absence from the train station, as you would expect his parents and Sirius were less than pleased and cornered him when he got home, while his brother watched. Between the events of school and his behavior so far, they were both and angry and worried. So as soon as he got back from his excursion, they told him to tell them where he was.
“No,” was the response he gave them. Repeatedly.
“We have ways of making you talk son,” James warned after the umpteenth time. “If I have to bring in a truth serum or hex you into talking then I will. Answer the question.”
Harry’s response was a challenge. “Then do it. If you think I’m distant now, intentional poison and cursing me will make you parents of the year I’m sure. Or what, you’ll take my memories too?”
James scowled, but Lily placed a calming hand on his shoulder and took the lead. “Harry, please let us help you. You’ve been through a lot and need someone to rely on.”
“I don’t want to help. Not from you,” he finished, heading for his room…only for a spell to hit him and his legs went right back to a chair to sit him down in. Harry huffed. “I’m telling you, we don’t want to have this discussion. The truth will not be pleasant.”
Sirius took a different approach. “It must’ve been a Disillusionment Charm for him to slip past us.”
“Bedazzling Hex,” Harry corrected on a subconscious thought.
Sirius gave a nod at the accomplishment. “It must’ve took you some time to get that down, but you’ve tipped your hand too soon. They’ll always be on the lookout for you using that spell.”
“I’ll pick up some new ones then.”
“Where did you learn to do that in the first place?” James asked. “You didn’t interact with anyone who would be old enough to use that spell enough from what we gathered on your school life. Was it whoever you were owling?”
“None of your business,” Harry stated.
“Harry, talk to us,” Lily said, keeping her patience. “We just want to help and grow closer as a family.”
“I…don’t…care,” Harry stated once more. “I don’t want to be closer. I want to be left alone to take my sleeping draught and get to sleep.”
James stuck with the stern hand approach. “You are just a child, who is supposed to be listening to his parents for his own safety. Yet we’re trying to help you and you keep rebelling against us. Honestly Harry, you’ve gotten more detention than the Marauders together in one year.”
Harry scoffed. “Safety? You’re not even there for nine months out of the year. We’ve been attacked by trolls, Voldemort, and ignorant classmates divided by a stupid housing system that leaves them ill-prepared for interacting with those of a different house—a different nature to their own.
“And I’m fully aware I’m being rebellious and to many it seems unfair or unjust,” Harry agreed. “I’m not a nice person overall to most people and I’ve accepted that—both the consequences and benefits that come with it—but that Marauders crack was just low. Most times I got punished it was self-defense…or payback. You guys earned your detentions. ”
“Low?” Sirius honestly sounded offended at that. “How could you not like the Marauders?”
“You were bullies,” Harry said coldly. “Even Lily refused to date James until he got his act together somewhat. If you’ve been following my detention record, you can tell I really dislike bullies and follow the eye for an eye code.”
“That wasn’t bullying!” Sirius argued. “That was pranking!”
“Pranks are only funny to everyone but the victim,” Harry rebutted. “Pranks are mean-spirited. Pranking is bullying, which is why me and the Weasley Twins have a business agreement about what happens if they pull it on me or someone I tell them not to. Not only do I revoke their right to sell my Howler Busters, but I show them a few of the curses I’ve learned. I’d like them to not bully anyone in general, but then I’d be forcing my orders down their throat like a dictator.”
“An eye for an eye makes the world blind,” Lily pointed out, getting back on track.
Harry’s counter-argument was surprisingly dark. “Then everyone will be equal in the darkness.”
Sirius, still not satisfied with the previous answer, tried another approach and broke up the pending debate. “Harry, we admit to causing a bit of trouble, but no one got hurt.”
“You tried to kill a man as a prank,” Harry pointed out. “James still gloats about Professor Snape owing a Life Debt because you tried. If Remus had killed him, that would have gotten him sent to Azkaban, or since he was cursed with being a werewolf, had him executed for the safety of others. Not to mention Dumbledore would have come under fire for allowing a werewolf to attend. You put your best friend, the Headmaster, and another student in danger—for a prank.”
Finally Sirius said, “Snivellus was an arse!”
“Sirius!” Lily yelled at him for cursing in front of the boys and interrupting her efforts.
“So that gives you the right to attempt to murder him,” Harry asked. “If this discussion was bought before an unbiased Auror at the time, you’d wind up in Azkaban. At least I confessed up to killing Qurriell out of self-defense and felt regret to the point I can still see his corpse in my mind as clear as day, but you’re hiding behind the past and don’t feel guilty in the slightest.”
Sirius tried to find a way to go against that, but looking back there was a hell of a lot that could’ve gone wrong and…well, he didn’t feel bad about Snape, but he could’ve screwed over Remus and Dumbledore. “I got nothing, but I should go apologize to Remus for that.”
He apparated away.
“Honestly, I don’t even want to go to Hogwarts anymore,” Harry said. “As I told a few others on the train, I couldn’t care less if I was expelled from the school. I’ve got no reason to want to go anywhere Gene has been.”
“Harry, you know that Gene didn’t ask for his life to be what it is,” Lily stated placidly.
“I understand Gene didn’t want to be the Boy-Who-Lived,” Harry stated. “It was that or we’d both be dead. That’s the reason I haven’t gone out of my way to make his life a living nightmare, even now. Mindless revenge over things people can’t control is pointless. I was content not even speaking with him until he hit me with the very spell James stole from Professor Snape and tried to lecture me about who I could talk with.”
“You sold me out to Slytherin!” Gene exclaimed.
“No, I gave him an answer to a question and we weren’t even sorted then,” Harry told him. “House divisions and points mean nothing to me. At this point the professors don’t bother subtracting or adding points from me because as a disciplinary action it holds no effect on me. They stick with detention if I’m bad and as long as I get my work done with good marks, I’m galleon.”
“Potters have been going to Hogwarts for generations,” James said. “Besides, if you get kicked out of one school, what makes you think you’ll get into another considering your conduct? Your wand could very well be snapped.”
“Then I can get a new wand and teach myself with the dozen or so books I have, or, if it comes to it, leave the magical world,” Harry pointed out. “In the Mundane world there are many other public schools with less…fatal educational hazards. I already intended to apply for an educational equivalent of a high school degree when I can and find a college abroad.”
Okay, now they really were worried about him. A blatant disregard for punishments suited for his age and a backup plan should he get kicked out of school. That couldn’t be good in someone his age. He was planning on leaving his old life behind, had no friends according to himself, and falling for the Dark Arts…
Oh God, Lily thought. She looked her husband and whispered, “He’s just like Sev was…”
“Harry, dear,” Lily said cautiously. “I’ve seen a dear friend go the same way you are and it’s a lonely path filled with regret.”
“If it’s the path I chose for myself I won’t regret it,” he replied calmly. Tired of this, he decided to change the subject. He looked at his mother. “By the way, did you know that your sister has a son?”
Lily blinked. “Petunia? She hasn’t spoken to me since James and her husband had a falling out. How did you…?”
“I looked her up,” Harry said. “She was reluctant to talk to me since she hadn’t heard from you in years and her obvious dislike of the magical world. Well, more like hate, but we spoke long enough for me pick up some information and a promise not to come within a mile of their home or contact them again…she didn’t say anything about you though.”
Lifting her hand to cover her mouth, Lily sunk into thought. “But she hates our side of things…”
“No, she immensely dislikes the magical world because you were gifted and she wasn’t as a child,” Harry said. “James is rich by wizard standards and all, meaning you got power, money, and fame since Gene is the Boy-Who-Lived, while she lives an ordinary life. I can relate to her because I’m stuck under Gene’s shadow as long as I’m a Potter and you’ve doted on him much like your parents did to you, so I really get where she’s coming from.”
“Harry, we don’t—” Lily was cut off when Harry raised his hand, not wanting to go back to the subject.
“But the real reason she dislikes the magical world it because it took you away from her as a child,” Harry stated. “You were gone for most of the year, came back to show off in front of her for a few months, and then were gone again. Even now, do you know the first thing she asked me when I called her?”
Lily shook her head.
“She asked ‘Did something happen to my sister?'” Harry told her. Granted, there was a ‘Freak’ in that sentence, but he was driving a point across. “You may have been mundane-born, but you’ve become so entrenched in this world that you’ve lost touch with your own sister and she only thought she’d be contacted if you were murdered or something. At least I went out of my way to save Gene.”
“I…” Lily looked a bit lost as she walked away. “I’ll go see if I can send her an owl or something…”
Well, that’s two down, Harry thought. Wasn’t nice and I’ll go through Hell for it later…now, how do I get James to drop it? He has nothing I can use against him…ah, yes.
“Look, we both know Voldemort is coming back or half-back at this point,” Harry stated. “Rather than trying to interrogate me, why not get Gene up to date on his skills so he doesn’t end up a sacrificial lamb?”
James wasn’t buying it. “That was a very cold thing you did to your mother and uncle. Your mother has often spent many nights wondering about her sister, and you knew it, didn’t you?”
Harry dropped his impassive mask and got serious. “I told you I didn’t want to have this discussion. I don’t have to forgive you all for neglecting me, only to take an interest when it came between choosing between Voldemort or Gene.”
“Regardless of whether or not you forgive us, you are still a child,” the adult stated. To be fair he had a point. “And you were right. I was a bully, but I got my act together. My past doesn’t define who I am today. What’s your excuse for being one?”
“I am not a bully!” Harry shouted.
“Maybe not physically, but what you did to your mother and uncle—who were patient with you despite everything—was emotional bullying. As for school, you may be following the ‘eye for an eye’ theorem, but that rarely works out in the long run. As you said, all are equal in the dark, only because you can’t see the monster you’ve become in the end.
“Now, since you can’t tell us where you went today,”—James nodded to the stairs—”you are grounded for a month. Leave your wand. You can use it for homework only until the period of punishment is up. Since you like your muggle books and plan on leaving when you’re older, you can study them as well.”
“Fine by me,” Harry shrugged, before adding a sarcastic, “Glad we had this talk.”
A Month Later
The month gave him time to think—and get a start on his homework, being a Ravenclaw and all—but most of his thoughts didn’t linger on the topics of school or the mundane, but rather that of Voldemort. What drove someone into becoming like a psychopath who sought immortality at the expense of the lives of others? What made him the man he was today?
As Professor Snape said, he knew nothing of the enemy he loathed with a passion. It wasn’t like he could find a psychopath to follow around and get a feel for, not without being killed. And he couldn’t act the part without coming off as an idiot or sinking into it. He had to start out fresh—learn about what drove criminals and society’s outcasts at a base-level.
So Harry would learn how the criminal mind would think.
It just so happened that the Weasley Twins told him of a supplier for what he might have needed for improved Howler Busters, because eventually the people who made the Howlers would make them resistant. They all knew that, so he had been planning on something a little stronger in the works. That same supplier was someone his parents and Sirius often spoke of as the lowest level of the criminal pyramid: The Petty Thief.
After grabbing a letter and putting it in an envelope, Harry pocketed it into his pouch with intent to have it delivered by a common postal owl to Myrtle and left his room in common street clothes since he had the intention of going through mundane territory as well.
“Where are you going?” Gene asked as he spied Harry heading down the stairs.
“None of your business,” was his response as he headed to the fireplace to use the Floo. He had to admit, it was one of the perks magicals had over mundane. Grabbing the powder and throwing it in, he said, “My month is up and I’ve got things to do. Diagon Alley!”
Cold flames washed over his skin as he entered and was taken from point A to point B, stumbling as he landed and taking a moment to center himself. For a brief second he considered going to retrieve his important items from Sherry, but there was a chance his parent’s had a tracking spell or eyes sent out to watch for him and he lacked the Bedazzling Hex without his wand. So, after dropping the letter off, he searched for the thief he sought, finding him in one of the five haunts the twins mentioned—an out of the way alley this time. There was a man there, short with ginger hair and brown eyes that widened a bit when he saw Harry.
“Mundungus Fletcher?” Harry asked, just to be certain.
He nodded, an inquisitive brow raised. “I know you. You’re that Auror James’s other boy. What brings a privileged one like you here? If it’s about those accusations, he’s got no proof and—”
“Look, I came on my own and this is pure business. The Twins told me to come see you about acquiring supplies through some less-reputable means when we were talking not too long ago? I need to get my hands on a few catalysts with some being illegal to own before adulthood, books on multiple subjects, and other things—and I need them discreetly and possibly to learn how to procure such material in the future by myself.”
“It’s gonna cost you,” he said after a moment. He was used to smuggling goods for the Weasley Twins and less-than-stellar other youngsters, so this was nothing new. “And I assume you have money that can’t be traced back to your parent’s vaults? Between the risk of the Goblins revolting again while handing all the banks and the chance of it being traced back, I’d rather coin or barter up front.”
As he pulled out some of the galleons he made from his Howler Busters, two strands of the Unicorn Hair fell onto the ground, and Mundungus snatched them up quickly. With a keen eye, he recognized it. “Unicorn Hair?”
“Yeah…?” Harry’s eyebrow rose, letting the galleons fall into his pocket after seeing the man’s eyes light up. “I got them from the Forbidden Forest in Hogwarts.”
“Those hairs are worth ten galleons a strand, right up there with Threstral Hairs…and I just so happen to know some backdoor wand makers who need some that I can charge at a higher rate. If you’ve got a few more, we can do business.”
Harry pulled out the rest and the man’s eyes lit up further, like a Christmas tree. “You’ll get two hairs for every answer. Deal?”
No sense in wasting easy money for a few questions. “What do you need and want to know?”
“To start with: The Trace,” Harry told him. “I need to know how to deceive it. I figured a thief such as yourself would know.”
“Thief is such a harsh word…” He steepled his fingers. “Appropriation Expert is more fitting. Exactly how good are you with potions?”
“One of the best in my year,” Harry stated.
“You’re only a First year, so not very,” he incorrectly summed up. Harry brushed it aside for the sake of information gathering. “Here’s the thing age potions don’t fool it because it monitors your magical core’s age, not physical, much like an age line.”
“Then what can I use for it?” he asked. When the thi—appropriation expert made a gesture for him to pony up he gave him two hairs. He gave them to the man.
“There’s another reason things that enhance your magical ability are illegal, it causes an overflux,” he stated, pocketing the strands. “By making your magical core produce more magic than the set amount per age range you can fool it temporarily, until it settles down. It’s not without risks, but it’s much cleaner than simply trying to break The Trace, which is illegal—well, more illegal. ”
“If I wanted to say, become an expert in your field of choice, how would I go about it.” Harry asked next, handing over the hairs.
“First Lesson in Appropriations 101: Learn to read lips,” he said. “Privacy wards can stop sounds, but rarely do they attempt to stop visual as well for conversations. You should also have a good means of escape.”
“What about apparating?” Another two hairs given.
“Nah,” he answered. “Too risky and noisy if you aren’t good at it. There are too many ways to screw up apparition since they rely on your own magic, like an Anti-apparation jinx or a Splinching Curse to make anyone who tried pay for it—not that it’s legal to know such a thing. All good appropriations experts of my caliber know how to make a portkey to a safe house…although the Black Family’s defenses were tricky to get around.”
“I remember that, my uncle complained you stole some of his silver…how did you steal Sirius’s silver?” Harry asked incredulously. “I’ve been told they’ve been cursed if anyone outside the Black Family took them from the house. Yet you still draw breath?”
Another gesture for payment and said payment later, Mundungus answered with “I broke the curse obviously.”
Harry looked at him with skeptical eyes. “You know how to break curses?”
“Kid, I appropriate from witches and wizards. People who tend to get curse-happy when you take from them and have been trained in using a versatile tool called a ‘wand’ since childhood. That’s another two hairs.”
“How…you don’t exactly look like cursebreaker-material,” he said, handing over four hairs for this and the previous question, tacking on a quick, “no offense meant.”
“You’d be surprised how easy it is to…appropriate a cursebreaker’s notes and books once they were no longer around,” he said, not really taking offense since he’d been called worse to his face. It was an occupational risk. “They tend to leave behind widows who are only all too eager to be rid of their deceased’s reasons for entering the next great adventure.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “You steal from widows?”
“Well, it’s not like they need or can use the stuff,” he shrugged, continuing the trade and noticing the boy still had about ten hairs left. “Besides, it’s not like I do anything more than a confusion or stunner. I may be an appropriations expert, but guys like us operate at a semi-civil level—not like Death Eaters used to or the really dirty guys. I mean, if I was really sleazy I’d just stun you and take those hairs, modifying your memories on my way out to go get a drink…by the way, never meet with someone in a shady alley without being ready to draw.”
“…noted,” Harry said unsettled. The man before him, referred to as a petty criminal, had a decent skill set if his words were true. “If you’re that skilled, why are you a thief?”
“That’s a long and personal story,” he said bitterly, rubbing his chin. “It’s going to cost you all of the hairs you’ve got, non-negotiable.”
It was worth it and he had no further need of the hairs. He handed five hairs over. “Half now and half when finished, start talking.”
Mundungus clicked his teeth and sighed as he put them away. “Let’s see, I was born about 1960 or so in a place in Ireland to a mundane mum and some wizard I don’t really give two shakes about even now, out of a one-night stand. When she got pregnant and tried to find him, he obliviated her sloppily—after all, merely pointing a wand and casting the spell is risky, hence there are specialized departments for things that tamper with memories—and left her unaware of how she was pregnant and caused a falling out with her parents.
“We weren’t well off and to survive we did what we had to until the wizard who sought me out for my education at Hogwarts was ‘kind’ enough to point out how I was conceived and then she was made to forget. That angered her and she wanted her memories back since the spell only covered up the memories. He undid the spell’s effects and when I left home for schooling, paid through a fund of Hogwarts since the wizarding population is low and several alumni contribute, she sought retribution against the guy. The next thing I knew I was receiving a notice both were dead—murder-suicide.”
Harry looked pale. “I’m…sorry, I—”
“Yeah, yeah, let me finish,” Mundungus said. Sympathy wouldn’t bring her back. “You paid, so listen. Anyway, during the three months we weren’t at school I had to stay at an orphanage of sorts for magicals, crappy food and ramshackle walls, where a couple of the guys took it upon themselves to make things better by depriving society of what it deprived them. ”
Harry blinked. “You joined a ragtag guild of thieves?”
“Now, I take offense to that,” he crossed his arms, “we’re a network of appropriations experts, even now. Once a member, always a member…unless you rat them out to the proper authorities like that weasel did. Sure, I can understand looking out for yourself. We all can and I probably would have bought him a drink and had a laugh about it if it didn’t get me a stint in Azkaban. Who lets soul-sucking creatures inhabit a prison for petty theft?
“Anyway, once you’re branded an ex-convict, most job opportunities are scarce, forcing you to go back to what you were put in for to make a living and survive. After I was bailed out of trouble by a hastily accused murder—which I won’t go into details—by Dumbledore, I avoided the network and did my own thing. Story end, now pay up.”
“Do they have an apprenticeship program?” Harry asked on an off-chance. “This network you speak of?”
“Not for you,” he said, plucking the last of the hairs. “Sorry kid, you’re related to an Auror and from a noble house. That screams too risky and they’d never take you.”
“Right,” Harry replied. First time that being well-off hindered him for certain.
“One last thing,” the older man added. “Just because someone has a sympathetic background, it doesn’t mean what they’re doing is anything less than what it is. If you think otherwise they’ll take advantage of you and think nothing of it. Tragic story or not, I have no intention of changing what it is I do and kindness is exploitable.”
“Noted,” Harry said before making arrangements for some catalysts to be delivered to him later on and leaving.
Two-hundred and sixty galleons in five minutes, Mundungus thought. “Not a bad morning.”
With his tasks on the magical side of things done and the lack of a wand, along with not wanting to deal with his parents or brother at the moment, Harry left the alley and went out towards the mall to visit the arcade.
The sounds of machinery and games, children of various ages who weren’t looking at him with eyes that spoke of fear, envy, or hatred, the atmosphere itself felt different than that of Hogwarts and he missed it dearly. It was his slice of Heaven compared to everything else. Nine months of ancient castles and classes only made being here sweeter.
“Haven’t seen you around here in a while,” a familiar voice said. Harry turned to come face to face with a lean, but tall pre-teen who hung out with him whenever he came before, Aaron. “Where you been?”
“My parents sent me to a boarding school and I’m back on break.” Harry answered.
“Is that the reason you have these weird coins?” Aaron asked. Harry blinked, so he showed him he had gotten some of the magical currency he kept in his pocket rather than his pouch.
“They’re from the country I was in…Switzerland,” he lied. “Yeah, let’s go with that. Can I have them back?”
The older boy handed them back. “Can’t use ’em, so why not?”
This time putting them away in his pouch, the young wizard asked, “How did you do that?”
“You want me to show you how to pickpocket?” Harry nodded. “It’s going to cost you some real money.”
Man today is turning out to be expensive, Harry whined in his head as he pulled his wallet from an inside pocket of his jacket and presented it to him. It was his movie/arcade fund, but some sacrifices were needed. “Just take as much as you want.”
Aaron looked at him as he grew a second head as he carefully grabbed the wallet, his mind altering between disgust at the casual way he handed over the money and why he wanted to learn so bad he would pay up. Still, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he emptied the wallet completely and handed it back to a waiting Harry, who seemed to expect it. Counting the cash, he quickly put it away after he was done and said, “Follow me.”
Thus began the impromptu lesson in pickpocketing, with the chosen class being the streets as pedestrians walked past while Aaron showed him the ropes until Harry tried for himself. A part of him realized it was wrong, but he was doing it for a greater purpose.
The police officer who had spotted them mid-theft thought otherwise. “Hey!”
Aaron swore under his breath and grabbed Harry. “You were made, come on!”
With Harry being unfamiliar in this part of the city, he had Aaron lead him with the cop on their rear, grateful he kept his cardio up. But as long as they were on the main street it was only a matter of time before they were caught. Both of them knew that, so Aaron led him to an alley with a seven-foot stone bulwark between it and the exit.
“This is a dead end!” Harry told him, still running towards it.
Aaron didn’t reply, going at the wall on the side of the fence and and leaping up and kicking off it to get the necessary height to scale it. On top of it, he extended his hand for Harry to grab and pulled him over as the officer closed in, narrowly missing Harry by a foot as they both hopped down on the other side, buying precious minutes.
Aaron sighed as he took the cash out of the wallet Harry stole and then tossed it back over for the cop to return it, minus the pounds he took out of it. He couldn’t use the credit cards anyway. Looking back at Harry, he motioned for him to follow him as the shorter of the two was still panting. “Come on, let’s hit the store.”
Harry followed silently as they entered a supermarket and Aaron bought groceries and had him help carry them into what could only politely be described as slums, weather-worn bricks forming ramshackle buildings that looked worse on the interior, cries from babies and youths alike with parents either yelling or consoling. It unnerved Harry. “This is where you live?”
“Yeah,” Aaron admitted as he stopped in front of a door with a crack running through it and fished out a key from his pocket to open it. The door revealed what was a rather small apartment as he had Harry set the bags on the countertop of the kitchen.
“Aaron?” an older and feminine voice called for him as the owner entered the room. She had to be around Harry’s mother’s age he figured, but the difference was that she seemed older with wrinkles and occasional strands of grey hair mixed in with black that was in a ponytail. She looked between the boys and the groceries and said, “Who’s your friend?”
“He’s a pal of mine who goes to a boarding school and came back for a few days,” Aaron told her.
She sighed as she looked at Harry. “You didn’t drag this child into this did you?”
“He volunteered,” Aaron defended. “Where’s Sophie?”
“I’m going to go pick her up from her grandmother’s now,” his mother stated, taking a momentary glance at the other boy and the groceries and then looking…tired. “Just…don’t let him help you again, you hear?”
Aaron nodded and she left out, leaving the two alone for the moment. Harry was polite enough not to comment on anything about the circumstances, but Aaron saw the question in his eyes about the look she had at the end and how placid she seemed about what was done. “She knows I did what I had to do to get these, but she doesn’t like it.”
“She didn’t seem mad about it though,” Harry said.
“Not mad,” he huffed. “She’s used to it. As long as my little sister doesn’t know about it since she’s just out of Kindergarten. Smart one already she is, gotta future ahead of her. I’m a lost cause though until I get old enough to find some work. Until then, I do what I gotta do.”
Harry helped him put away the groceries and then had Aaron walk him towards the more populated street as the sunset to avoid him getting into trouble with the locals, giving him time to think about the circumstances both Aaron and Mundungus both lived in. Both were criminals and didn’t deny that to themselves. They were just doing what they had to in order to survive.
Snipe told him he didn’t understand the mind of the person he hated the most or his followers, who were typically either wealthy pure-blood elitists or guys looking to blame others for their misfortune and sought galleons and glory, and he still didn’t. But he saw just how narrow his view was. Having his father, though distant, being an Auror and wealthy had him see things from one point of view rather than the same view that those two had. Even though the Weasleys were impoverished they never resorted to crime, staying on the good side of the law.
But for the two he went with today, things were deeper shades of grey, surviving by depriving others of what they had despite the consequences. It was a step in the right direction for learning what he needed to, but he could help but feel there was so much that could be done for them both though, a different path taken with some guidance. The wizard could break curses, yet had to resort to petty theft and moving merchandise because of a stint in Azkaban, and Aaron saw himself as a lost cause due to poverty, only pinning his family’s hopes for the future on his baby sister.
All in all, today has been productive in some aspects and a sobering realization of how cruel the world could be just because—Harry’s thoughts ended when he was grabbed and felt like he was squeezed through a tube, finding himself at his home. He eyed his kidnapper and noticed it was his uncle. “You do realize you could’ve splinched me, right?”
“Side-along Apparations rely on the one doing the jumping’s skill, which I am proficient in,” Sirius stated.
“Uh-huh, sure,” Harry scoffed before turning his attention to the others. “Was it really that difficult to just wait until I came home on my own accord rather than kidnap me? Really?”
“Yes,” James said. “Especially considering you aided and abetted a criminal today.”
Harry blinked, before putting the pieces together. “You had Sirius follow me from the moment I told Gene to shove off and used the Floo to announce where I was going. If he was following me into the mall, he would have been in human form and under a spell since dogs aren’t allowed.”
“Explain yourself,” was all James said.
“I refuse,” Harry replied all the same. Sure, he could confess he was getting into the mindset of people fundamentally different than he was…but he wasn’t on good terms with any of them, so why bother?
“Fine,” James huffed. “You’re grounded, again.”
“Fine by me,” Harry replied, much to his father’s anger. “You just don’t get it James, you have little power over me as long as I have to go to Hogwarts. There’s not much you can do to me baring physical punishment or grounding, and for me that’s hardly a hindrance.”
James rubbed his chin and narrowed his eyes behind his glasses, before a smile grew on his face. “Actually, your mother and I have been discussing that and we’ve called in a favor. Pack your bags Harry, you’re going on a little trip the day after tomorrow…”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “To where?”
James merely chuckled. “You could say a correctional program for wayward young wizards and witches, established by Madam Bones in an effort to curb future rouge elements. She claimed inspiration from the muggle world so you should be familiar with it.”
“You’re sending me to the magical equivalent of Boot Camp?” Harry growled lowly.
“You were right,” James admitted. “There’s only so much I can do, so I figured I’d let the experts handle it.”
Harry exhaled deeply before meeting his father’s gaze, defiance still in his eyes. “Bring. It. On. Then.”
End of Year 1 at Hogwarts
Gene Potter was the Boy-Who-Lived, a somewhat famous wizard who survived what was thought to be the only spell that never failed to kill a struck target. He knew that since he was old enough to walk on two legs. He admitted it gave him a bit of confidence, a swagger in his step. His mother made sure to keep it down to just a swagger, so he didn’t turn into an earlier copy of his father.
Still, he came to Hogwarts with some fairly high intentions. The first was to ace as many courses as he could, getting nothing less than above average scores in Transfiguration, Charms, and everything but Potions.
He didn’t kid himself, Snivelius wouldn’t let a Potter pass his class with exemplary scores.
Draco Malfoy was hostile on the train ride, but their parents were like that overall to each other so it was expected. That wasn’t going to change any time soon. As long as he didn’t cross the line, neither would Gene.
Then, there was Harry.
Harry was a nerd for all intensive purposes, Gene originally thought. He always stayed in his room or went somewhere with a book in hand, never really talking to anyone. He wasn’t surprised when he got into Ravenclaw at all since it would suit him.
To have Malfoy tell him—no, gloat—that his own brother had sided with him was unforgivable. Gene had originally thought that maybe Draco had bullied Harry into telling him or manipulated him somehow. That had to be it.
Slytherin were the bad guys after all! Every other house agreed. It had always been that way, even before his parent’s time.
Either way, he decided to confront Harry with the intention of getting him to renounce his allegiance with that ferret…and learned that he didn’t know his brother nearly as well as he thought he did.
For starters, he didn’t even know Harry was that decent with a wand he had only gotten. He never recalled Harry practicing with one before school started. His source in Ravenclaw—well, a fan—told him that he received a letter from a bat of all things. Gene didn’t even know he had a friend outside that Terry boy.
Harry was hostile to nearly everyone in his own house and seemed to relish learning about the dark arts in DADA. Then he learned that Harry was something of an apprentice to Voldemort—well, Quirrell, before he knew he was possessed—and it explained his growth. Harry was going dark…
In all honesty, watching Harry charge that spell up left him wondering if he was truly going to do it. It was a relief when Harry turned the spell on Quirrell. Yet, Harry didn’t say whether or not he would have done it if it weren’t Voldemort asking, but Quirrell instead.
So, waking up to see Madam Pomfroy hovering over his brother and trying to prevent him from going on a premature journey to the ‘Next Great Adventure’ as the older Headmaster often said, and then telling the Headmaster everything he knew so far, he decided that Harry wasn’t Light or Dark.
Gene simply didn’t know Harry at all.
A Few Hours Later
Harry woke up, still in shock and giving short answers to question presented by the nurse as Gene had entered looking for him, after being cleared an hour ago and speaking to the Headmaster.
“So…” Gene rubbed his head, not really sure how to follow up given the circumstances. “How are you doing?”
“This was all your fault!” Harry snapped, spinning around and training his wand on his brother. It was shaking and not from the potions he took. “Voldemort was supposed to be dead! You were supposed to have killed him! If you had finished the job, QUIRRELL COULD HAVE LIVED!”
“Now, now…” the aged voice of the Headmaster reached the pair’s ears and they turned to face the source. “Harry, settle down. What happened was the fault of neither one of you…”
Harry took a deep breath and lowered his wand before Dumbledore ushered out the other Potter and then returned.
“Harry, Gene told me you were Quirrell’s apprentice,” he said in a calm tone, as to not agitate the boy still in shock. “I’m going to need you to tell me everything you discussed with him and he taught you. Understand?”
Harry looked at him in the eyes blankly and nodded, starting with the first conversation. He kept the conversation compartmentalized, never noticing the feather drop touch on his mind before the man left—leaving him alone with thoughts of vengeance towards the Dark One.
“He’s going to come back,” Harry said to himself, steel in his voice. “And when he does, I’m going to be ready. I’ll do what Gene should have.”
“You’re being foolish Potter,” Snape said, appearing from the door like a phantom and maintaining his professional detachment like an art form. “Even if the Dark Lord were to return, he would most likely amass a large force, starting with those he had in his service beforehand. What you claim would have you—a single person—going against an army.”
“I’ll find a way.” Harry tightened his face and met his eyes, falling prey to the second Legimens’ mental invasion. “He has to be taken out, somehow.”
“Let the matter drop,” Snape rebutted coolly. “You can’t fight what you don’t understand—and you don’t understand the mind of one such as him, or those who would follow him. You must learn thy enemy and act with logic, not emotion when dealing with such people. And most of all, you must be decisive, not grieving in pity like a defeated dog.”
Snape went over the same series of questions that Dumbledore did in order to buy time to finish weeding through his memories and mind. Then he spun on the sole of his shoe and left the room, having gotten the information he needed from the boy’s mind.
Dumbledore, for all his calm, was quite livid.
Voldemort had been subtle in his act and laid the seeds for a thirst for power, much like he had as a young boy, into Harry. He could not afford to simply react to the subject. The first thing Dumbledore did was gather the twins’ parents. Sirius Black accompanied them, having been catching up on old times when they were Floo’ed.
“First off, before this matter somehow gets out,” Dumbledore looked to the Potter couple, “James and Lily, there’s been a problem with the boys. Gene managed to get off relatively unharmed, but Harry will need a few days to recover from the emotional trauma more than anything.”
“What happened?” James asked.
“It would seem Tom Riddle—also known as Voldemort—has begun attempting to return,” Dumbledore stated gravely. “To that extent, he attempted to use the Philosopher’s Stone as well as both Harry and Gene to get it.”
“Harry?” James rubbed his chin in thought. “Why was Harry harmed?”
“Tom had been possessing one of my staff members, sadly, and developed a close bond with him. Tragically, Harry ended up killing Professor Quirrell to protect Gene,” Dumbledore told them, before going into the events from both boys’ perspective. “I’d recommend that they are consoled on their actions before—”
Just then the door opened to his office and Professor Snape appeared. “I beg to differ on that assessment. Having James try to play an adequate father now will only serve to further drive away the smart one. He’ll be stronger for it if he gets over it himself.”
“Oh?” Dumbledore arched an eyebrow. “What makes you so sure Severus?”
“I took a look at his memories—”
Lily looked aghast. “You read his mind!”
“Yes. Yes I did,” Snape admitted. “To see if Quirrell had used any mental compulsions or spells on his mind during their time together and further more to be thorough.”
Dumbledore pouted. “That was unnecessary.”
“For all we know he could have been subtly compulsed to kill himself, so it was a necessary evil,” Snape shrugged. “I believe it was worth it given what I learned.”
“You had no right—” James started.
The Headmaster raised his hand and cut him off. “If I may ask, what did you learn, Severus?”
“I saw how he was treated with things his father seemed to lack—attention and respect. Voldemort played him like a fiddle, taking advantage of the gap in his defenses James created with his negligence for favoring his other spawn. There was a minor compulsion to avoid spending excess time with either me or the Headmaster, seeing as the two of us were likely to see the influence Quirrell had on the boy. Had the ruse continued and Voldemort would have slowly twisted him into an effective and dangerous servant.”
Snape smoothed his robe and finished, “Anything else I learned had nothing to do with this matter, so I will be silent out of respect for the boy.”
Sirius snorted. “Since when are you that nice? You read his mind without consent!”
“I’m not a nice person, Black,” Snape told him. “We established that long ago. I have no intention of changing, much like you still don’t have any regrets to sending me off to die via murder-by-werewolf—which would have had him taken to Azkaban or euthanized. The reason I am here is because I am good at what I do and because I know how Voldemort thinks. The reason I respect the boy is because he is much like I was as a student, which was why I went as far as I did to ensure his mental health.”
“He’s nothing like you were.” James claimed.
“Like you would know?” Snape shot back calmly. “Even before entering his mind, I knew him better than you did.”
James scowl deepened. “You were—”
“Smart, creative, an expert on potions, and capable of curses that would leave you lying in a bloody ditch had you not had your lackeys like Black around…just as he is.” Snape continued. “Much like me he is not fond overall of the Marauders, hates that useless sport of Quidditch, doesn’t waste his effort on earning that useless cup, and cares not for others opinions of him, all of which earned him a place in my books—unlike the other spawn.”
“Those are grounds for a duel!” James stated, reaching for his wand.
“BOYS!” Lily said and cleared her throat, having been silent long enough. “Snape, please continue reasonably. You claimed to know how Voldemort would think best. Is there a chance one of my sons could be going dark or to Voldemort’s side should he return?”
Snape pursed his lips. She never did speak casually to him after his slip of the tongue…to both her and Voldemort. “The fact that he seems to have more interest in the muggle side of things and possesses more knowledge than the incompetent professor Dumbledore has working there now, served as one bonding point for him and Quirrell, but suggests otherwise. At the same time, Quirrell had made up for deficiencies in his upbringing and granted him what he wanted. Looking into the boy’s mind with his master’s aid no doubt gave him a leg on trying to train him.”
James raised an eyebrow. “What deficiencies?”
“Negligence, if it wasn’t clear before.” Snape answered. “The boy is more of a credit than your other spawn and I distinctly believe that has to do with the lack of influence from James and his minions. Somehow he’s turned bad parenting into a boon.”
“Severus…” Dumbledore warned.
Snape let the jab drop. “He excels in potions to the extent he found a way to destroy Howlers, safely and economically with a few suggestions from yours truly, in his First Year. He is capable of some higher conjuration—a normally Six Year subject—having gained an insight into his talent into it since James’ other spawn has taken to his capabilities in transformations, but is working harder than ever to make up for the skill he lacks. Lily, your talent in charms seemed to have taken root in dark charms instead for him, and he knows materials at least a year in advanced of his classes.”
Dumbledore nodded. It was always interesting to see a student apply himself…even given the circumstances. “What is your final verdict, Severus?”
Snape took a small breath and said, “He’s not one who would follow another as a servant or a sheep like much of his house, cares too much about muggle affairs, and is too smart to be a Death Eater. However, he’s too intrigued to back away from his interest in the Dark Arts. Quirrell’s death had the benefit of driving a wedge of hatred between Voldemort while also has him lashing out at his brother. It would be prudent to let things take their course at the moment and see one which side of the line he leans more to.”
“Yes, I see,” Dumbledore muttered. “Very well. I’ll agree with you, but he should be monitored in case Tom makes another play and so he doesn’t do anything rash while still grieving.”
“Can we see both of them?” Sirius asked.
“It would be inadvisable for Ravenclaw Potter,” Snape pointed out.
“He’s our son!” James argued. “We’re his parents!”
“He doesn’t see either of you as more than acquaintances,” Snape countered, looking to Lily softy and pursing his lips. “He has never once, consciously, called either of you by anything other than your names in the last year, has he?”
Lily blinked and shuffled through her thoughts. Looking back, Harry rarely confided in anything and stayed with his head in books or out…
“Hm…” Dumbledore stroked his beard in thought, looking over to his phoenix as it slept. “Perhaps this summer all of you should sit down and have a nice chat. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can’t have his Head of House keep a look out for him. I believe Gene will be willing to come in, so I’ll send for him.”
“Snape,” Lily called as her husband and Sirius waited for Gene to arrive. “Can we talk? In private?”
“Muffliato.” Professor Snape cast, encasing them in a field that sounded like white noise to anyone else, and then stood in front of her in a slightly guarded pose, wand behind his back and stiff. “Yes.”
Lily took a deep breath. “Since you seem to have a more insightful look into my child’s behavior and he’ll probably listen to you, could I ask that you keep him away from going down a road he can’t come back from. Encourage him to communicate more within his house, make friends, not bottle things up—”
“You don’t want him to wind up like I did,” Snape stated. She nodded, as expected. “That’s a lot to ask Lily. Much like you never forgave me for that slip of the tongue to this day. ”
Lily scowled. “You betrayed—”
“I acknowledge it,” he said curtly. “I wanted power and I wanted you, Voldemort offered me both and I sold out your husband and children. I will not forget the sins I’ve committed, Lily, nor will I expect to be forgiven for them. Even now I will admit that I have not changed much barring your involvement and the sheer fact you show as much professionalism to me as you do is a miracle alone.
“What I am saying is that it will be hard to prevent because the boy has vengeance on his mind and the path it leads to is never one that can be fully corrected without closure. Even then, it is a fragile recovery depending on how much of his life it consumes.” Snape took a long sigh. “However, I shall do what I can.”
Hearing her address him by his nickname for the first time in years made his cold heart warm a little. He knew it was just so that he would do it. Lily would do anything for her children, including allowing him delude himself in thinking that it was a small step forward to how they used to be the best of friends.
He didn’t mind.
Some Time Later
On the fields outside the castle, Harry brandished his wand and steadied his trembling hands. This wand had been used to kill. Even if not directly, it was a murderer’s weapon.
“Noctis Fluxio!” Darkness poured out of his wand against the rock outcropping, eroding it centimeter by centimeter, before he withdrew the stream to the tip of his wand and it spiraled into a black-rimmed orb that was fired like a cannon ball at the outcropping. “Vorago Sphaera!”
On impact the darkness expanded and the swallowed itself like a miniature black hole, imploding at clearing out a section of the outcropping and leaving smooth remains. Harry dropped to his knees in exhaustion at the drain of a spell—
“Just like that apprentice…”
—before the ghostly voice of Quirrell echoed in his ears. Harry and turned and searched for the mentor to no avail. He was gone, his body cremated with the condition it was in.
“Just another hallucination…” Harry muttered, grasping the violet scarf around his neck, before making his way to his new haunt. The last few nights had been Hell for Harry, so he found himself going to Myrtle’s bathroom for comfort, quiet, and a place to brew a custom Sleeping Draught. The pre-teen made his way back to the bathroom and was greeted by its more permanent resident.
“Cheer up Harry,” Myrtle said. “A boy as young as you shouldn’t look so dead inside.”
“Could he come back as a Ghost?” Harry asked. The contents of the question were obvious.
“Harry…”Myrtle attempted to lay a hand on his shoulder and comfort him, but the limitations of her half-life prevented it. “Believe it or not, you probably spared him from such a fate.”
Unable to live. Unable to die. Only to linger in the realm of the living while being unable to interact with ease, watching as friends and enemies, descendants and generations leave the world behind until no one who you knew could be reached.
Ghosts were truly pitiful yet fascinating creatures in Harry’s eyes.
“Oh, lookie what Peeves’ found!” The poltergeist wandered into the bathroom, intent on the usual routine of tormenting Myrtle. What did they expect? He was chaos given form after all and she was an easy target. “Lil’ Murderer Potter and the Cry Baby.”
“Get out of here Peeves,” Harry warned. The poltergeist had gotten it all over school that he was a murderer and most of the castle was terrified of him. Even Terry and the others kept their distance in their house. “Mess with Myrtle again, and you’ll be as terrified of me as you are of the Bloody Baron!”
“Oooh, the big bad murderer is making threats—”
“Phasmatis Canis!” He summoned a Gytrash, fully-formed and ready for action as he applied the Oppugno Jinx. “Get. Him.”
Have you ever heard a poltergeist scream as a Gytrash attempted to rip out its short and bulgy neck? Well, Harry and Myrtle can say they have. While neither was particular fond of overt violence, there was something soothing about just vengeance being wrought upon the poltergeist. It wouldn’t kill the chaos, but it could hurt it.
When the day to leave Hogwarts finally arrive, Harry breathed a sigh of relief and one of anger. The relief was that he didn’t have to see any of the bastards in his house for a few months. The anger was because they’d gotten one last slight over on him. Letters hovering over his trunks denounced him a murderer and his items were thrown about. Luckily nothing was stolen and his important notes were kept reduced in his pouch on his person.
Then again, stealing from someone they called a murderer would be suicidal, wouldn’t it?
He was a murderer, and would not allow himself to think otherwise. But he wouldn’t let others call him one. Only someone who had stained their hands for the sake of another had the right to call him that.
Not a bunch of emotionally-driven, academically-ravenous teens.
“Mr. Potter?” Harry’s Head of House’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts.
“Professor Flitwick,” Harry said, keeping his eyes down as he packed his trunk with the scattered articles and mentally swore to learn more locking charms. No, screw the locks—he was going into booby traps! No mercy. “Is there something wrong?”
“No…well,” he waved his wand and several books appeared. “These were apparently willed to you by our dear departed Quirrell.”
Harry noticed the one on top was a copy of Quirrell’s Ghoul Studies book, Spectral Beings and Spells. There were notes all over some of the pages as he thumbed through it. “Why me?”
“We believe that before…He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named completely possessed him, he felt a kinship to you,” the short professor told him. “Mind you, we had to check these for any traps or particularly dark knowledge that was unsuitable for you. Headmaster Dumbledore cleared them today.”
“I see…” Harry touched his scarf tenderly and then took the books and added them to his trunk. “Thank you, Professor Flitwick.”
On the train ride, he read through the book he had been willed in his empty compartment as the door slid in and Terry came in with Padma and Isobel. He made a mental note that they seemed to have caution looks on their faces, even though Terry and Padma were practically dragging in Isobel.
Sitting down on the opposite side of him with the others, Terry asked a simple question. “How’ve you been, Harry?”
“Given you’ve been ignoring me since Quirrell’s death, it begs the question of why you chose now to appear and ask.” Harry answered, his eyes never leaving the book. “Let me guess, you figured I wouldn’t murder you on the train ride home since there was no way to stash the bodies? Or was it because with everyone going home and excited, they’d never notice you slipping into the same compartment as the sole murder at Hogwarts.”
“It was just that…” Padma trailed off, searching for the proper words.
Isobel filled in for her. “You were declared a murder, a professor was dead, and you were in the infirmary and no one else was allowed in until the Headmaster declared otherwise. It didn’t look good for you. We couldn’t be seen with you for our own sakes.”
“Your cold and blunt honesty is both refreshing and heartless at the same time,” Harry said. “I don’t know whether to be hurt or impressed by the sheer and factual way you said that to save your own reputations you cut me off…well, you I can understand, but not the other two.”
“What were we supposed to think?” Padma asked.
“Think for yourselves,” Harry’s eyes narrowed as he closed the book. “I did the same thing I did when that troll was about to finish you and Granger: what I had to in order to save Gene’s life. For it, I lost the man I mentored under, can’t get to sleep without sleeping draughts, and I’m stuck there with a reputation as a murderer and a potential Dark Wizard.”
“If it’s that bad, why not leave?” Isobel asked plainly, stating the obvious solution. “My sister mentioned that with your reputation affecting Hogwarts, once it gets around given the sheer number of people who know and will tell their parents, you’d most likely be expelled to save face. You could always leave before then.”
“Dumbledore won’t expel me and James and Lily won’t let me leave,” Harry answered. “Hogwarts isn’t the only magical school, but with the Headmaster’s backing and the fact that those two are my legal guardian’s means I don’t have a say on that front. I tried to see if I could get a transfer to Durnstram, but that wasn’t happening since too many factors involving Gene, James, Lily, and Dumbledore are involved. They say Hogwarts is the safest place for me to be nine months out of the year.”
“You were going to leave?” Terry asked aghast. “We’re your friends.”
“More like acquaintances,” Isobel stated. Padma elbowed her in the ribs slightly.
“Would it have mattered?” Harry asked. “When I was in that Hospital Wing, the only ones who visited were Dumbledore, Snape, Gene, James, Sirius and Lily. Four of them I wanted nothing to do with, one questioned me about my crime, and the other did the same but gave me advice that I intend to take to heart.”
He may not have known it, but professor Snape had defined a path for Harry to take. “Even after I got out, where were any of you…friends or acquaintances?”
They were silent.
“Myrtle was the only one who actually listened to me and tried to understand me,” Harry said with heat in his voice. “When I was actively grieving over the life of a man who became a slave to one who offered him more power rather than reaching for it himself, none of you were there—not for fake sympathies or crap, but to at least counter the sheer number of lies floating around our house calling me a Dark Wizard in the making or stop them from violating my privacy and tossing my belongings around!”
That last one was directed to Terry since they shared a bunk in the first-year dorms. He was again met with silence.
“Hogwarts isn’t safe,” Harry said, recalling thrice he nearly died in one year and deciding to not waste his time trying to point out their betrayal to him any further. “No matter what they say, any school that has enough hazards to warrant as many close encounters and safety hazards as this one leaves me wondering if the standards for magical safety are up to code. Between Bullies, Peeves, the Forbidden Forest—I am not coming back here unprepared next year. I will train my ass off since I am stuck here, and Merlin help anything or anyone that gets in my way.
“As for you three, either you can stay by my side or you can stay out of my way.”
Harry spent the rest of train ride alone until they reached the station. Once there, he cast a Bedazzling Hex and slipped past his parents to catch the Knight Bus out to Diagon Alley to see his favorite witch.
She was pleased to see him. “Hey Harry. I hadn’t seen you in awhile. I found your aunt Petunia’s number and address from when you asked me not too long ago.”
Ah, leverage, Harry thought, before switching over to the matter at hand. “Sherry, can you hold the pouch and stuff in it. I have a feeling I’m going to be in trouble and don’t want my parents finding anything.”
The American witch raised an eyebrow. “Why? Harry, did you do something…?”
“Umm…how much do you know about what happened in July at school?”
“I’ll be straight,” Harry gathered his courage. She and Arthur were the only people he cared enough about to worry what they thought. “I killed a professor before he could kill me. I can’t give you the exact details because of an oath though.”
She looked aghast. “A-are you serious?”
“I wouldn’t lie about that,” Harry told her. “Not to you. I…I need sleeping draughts to get to sleep.”
“Oh Harry…” she rushed over and gave him a hug.
“You’ll hear about it once it gets around, being Gene’s brother and all…” Harry said. “I considered the man a mentor and he willed some books over to me—I don’t want them to take them from me because he made a mistake. It wasn’t his fault and I-I didn’t….”
“Shh…” she told him petting his hair while she embraced him. In her arms, he allowed himself to cry. “Let it out...”
For the moment, he was simply a boy who could act his age and cry at the loss of someone important to him.
Death of a Mentor
Harry worked quickly to copy down the potion instructions for the Exploding Potion from the copy of Moste Potente Potions Goyle had gotten during the winter break. Goyle’s grades had improved in Potions—not by much, but beating Crabbe was easy enough—and he honored his commitment so long as Harry returned the book by the end of the week.
So naturally he was copying everything he could that interested him in Myrtle’s bathroom.
“Hello, what do we have here…?” Harry said, finding the section on Polyjuice Potion and began taking notes. “I was looking for an Age Potion, but this works—”
“I HATE PEEVES!” Myrtle blurted out as she ran crying into her stall because of Peeves the Poltergeist, effectively ending the silence. Quiet time over now.
“What’d the poltergeist do this time?” Harry asked.
“Oh Harry, it was horrible!” she told him. “Peeves kept pelting me with peanuts!”
“And he pelted me with sticks on the first day, he’s a spirit of chaos and a bully all wrapped up in one,” Harry said. “Not much anyone but the professors could do…for now.”
“I know, but it’s not fair,” Myrtle said. “Even in death I can’t get away from bullies! I could kill myself and no one would miss me!”
“Oh come on, people would miss you if you died…again,” Harry said sheepishly. He felt bad for her. He really did.
She glared at him and said, “Like who? You? All you want is to use my bathroom!”
“I would,” Harry said. “I know it seems like I’m just crashing here, but I’ve been where you’ve been, ignored by most people and even my family to an extent. Heck, I’ve only got maybe one person I can call a friend among the students. They’ve tried bullying, but I give as good as I get.”
“Yeah, but no one sees you as nothing more than a bother!” she argued. “Try being here for a few decades after dying and forced to stay in a bathroom. At least the other ghosts get free reign of Hogwarts and Peeves can touch more physical stuff, but as soon as I step into my own former common room they tell me to leave and that I’m annoying and—”
“Myrtle…” Harry cut in. “Would you feel better if I told you that I trusted you and don’t feel that you’re annoying? A bit chatty sometimes, but not annoying.”
She wiped her eyes and sniffled. “You’re just trying to make me feel better…”
“I’m being honest,” he said. He understood how it felt.
“Prove it,” she said, moving close to him.
“Alright,” Harry said. “Help me test a spell and if I get it down soon, I’ll help drive Peeves off if he bothers you again. But it needs to stay a secret until I say so.”
“Ooooh, promises, promises, Harry,” she wagged her finger. “Alright, show me. I won’t tell anyone!”
“I need to see if this will interact with another spiritual being,” Harry said and cast, “Phasmatis Canis.”
Phantasmal fog gathered and molded, swirling into the shape of the ghostly dog that had tongues of mist rolling off it. The Gytrash had gotten a good deal bigger between November and now, thanks to all the practice. The spectral dog looked around before settling it’s gaze on the deceased girl and sauntered over to her, rubbing against her leg.
“Aren’t you a good doggie!” she exclaimed, running her hand over it. Its tail wagged a few times before it pushed open a stall and started drinking from the toilet, leaving her confused. “It opened the door instead of going through it?”
“It has a substantive charm weaved into it, but it’s only a minor one and the Gytrash decides when it wants to go through something on its own unless I use the Oppugno Jinx,” Harry told her. “I haven’t gotten how to do a substantive charm for ghosts yet, only things made from my magic, but hopefully I’ll learn and you’ll be able to interact with the living world more.”
“You would do that for me?” Myrtle asked.
“Well, you’ve been nicer than most of my housemates,“ Harry said. “It seems only fair.”
Time Skip to February
“Fumos!” Terry bellowed as smoke vacated the yellow-lit tip of his wand after he moved it in a spiral. The pair had gotten back into their practice now that the weather had warmed up a bit and they both wanted to get ahead of the curb in DADA, so he went through The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection and taught himself the Smokescreen Charm.
“Ventus!” Harry cast the boy’s favorite jinx against him, washing away the smoke. He would also admit the way his scarf moved looked badass while the spell billowed it.
Terry put more magic behind his spell and smirked. “Blow this away then! Fumos Duo!”
Smoke didn’t so much as vacate his wand as it had before, but instead erupted in a geyser. Harry’s wind only managed to blow a portion away before it swallowed him and he pulled his scarf and around his mouth and nose like a mask and cast “Celario!” as silently as he could.
The air around him shimmered and shifted under the Bedazzling Hex and he broke through the smoke while invisible to the naked eye and—
“Titillando!” Terry cried as a purple light spewed the violet haze that shaped itself into hand-ribbons and started tickling him.
“HAHAHA! I yield! I yield!” Harry surrendered to get him to drop the Tickling Hex before canceling the drain of a failed Bedazzling Hex. “What gave me away?”
“Well, there were smoke streamers coming off you and you weren’t completely invisible. It was more like camouflage where the light was bending around you slightly so I could make out the slightly transparency details.”
“I didn’t cast it right,” Harry said, looping and tying the violet scarf around his robe sleeve. “I’ve seen an actual Bedazzling Hex done, if it was proper then you wouldn’t have seen any details and even the outline would be hard to notice.”
Terry nodded and asked, “How’s the whole getting rid of Howlers thing going?”
“I finished the first batch today,” Harry answered. “I’ll have a professor help me test them and hopefully it’ll work.”
“That sounds like something that people would get behind if it did,” a voice came from behind an outcropping. “With finals a few months away, some of the parents have been sending Howlers for their kids to shape up and I have a feeling that they would be wanted.”
“Isobel MacDougal,” Harry said while scratching his head. “Why are you out here?”
“My sister sent me to spy on you and see what the ‘Black Sheep’ of Ravenclaw is doing every morning,” she said with ice in her voice. “She’s apparently too lazy to wake up early enough to do it herself. I was down at the lake before now and heading back when I saw you bungle that hex. ”
“What are you going to tell her?” he asked.
“That the both of you were playing around like a bunch of school children,” she stated. “As far as I’m concerned, what she doesn’t know, you can use to humiliate her later.”
Terry dusted himself off and asked, “Why is there so much bad blood between you and her?”
“Many things, even before Charm School when I was younger,” she answered. “Now I’d suggest we all get back since classes will be starting soon.”
As they walked back, Harry attempted to play his ocarina pendant and didn’t completely suck at it. Granted, he spent most of the winter break when he wasn’t studying or working on his spells getting the tune down and playing a song. But it wasn’t good enough for Isobel to stand listening to.
“Let me show you how it’s done,” she said before taking the instrument and playing a calming tune. The song was elegant, yet invigorating. When she finished and handed it back she said, “You need to alter your breath as you blow and position you fingers right next time. The way you play, the Merpeople in the Black Lake would sic the Grindylows on you.”
“Why?” Harry asked. He was warned about the Dark Creatures known as the Grindylows and why swimming in the lake unsupervised wasn’t recommended—not that it was against the rules—but he couldn’t fathom why the Merpeople would attack him unprovoked.
“Merpeople love music,” Isobel told him. “There’s a colony near where I live. The Merpeople in the warmer waters are more attractive than the ones here, but they all share a love of music. Your playing was an insult to music and the instrument itself.”
“Ouch,” Terry said. “That was cold…but, you said where ‘you’ live. Don’t you and your sister live in the same estate?”
“Our parents are separated,” she said in a manner that told them to drop it right there. “Anyway, practice more—in private—before you even think of maiming someone else’s ears.”
“Sorry,” Harry said with sarcasm, putting the instrument away in his pouch with an extension charm on it. They went back to their rooms, went to breakfast, and then the classes, where in Transfiguration class they went over the Chair-to-Cat spell.
It was a transformation spell, his worst field. Even using the advice Isobel gave him months before it didn’t work properly. Harry noticed that Isobel was having trouble too, meaning it wasn’t just him. He was about to try again when Padma tapped him on the shoulder.
“Tell me how you’ve been doing it so far?” she requested. “I want to help.”
“What about your shepherd?” Harry asked, referencing to Morag.
“The sheep that sticks out is the one who gets caught by the wolves…” she trailed off as a smile appeared on her face. “But I’m not a sheep, now am I?”
Harry nodded. “I black out all thoughts and force it to go step-by-step. But when I try it here it doesn’t work at all.”
“Isolating it and going step-by-step may work on non-living things, but doing so for an actual animal is bound to fail,” Padma said. “Transfiguring to an inanimate object is far different from something that lives on its own. If I may…”
Padma proceeded to try and help him further on the subject. The keyword being ‘try’ in this case. Harry would need more practice, but he was fairly certain that he would never get to an impressive level with it.
On a more impressive note, Professor Snape tested his ‘Howler Buster’ as Harry called it and gave him a backhanded compliment on the success of it. Harry bottled it in small vials, paid an older student, a Prefect named Penelope Clearwater, to place a Vanishing Charm on the glass that activated when it broke. A quick demonstration later earned Harry some much needed coin for himself.
The Weasley Twins soon met up with him to discuss business, willing to work out the details during the summer out of the school. With things looking up, Harry spent more time working on his spells and keeping things under control while training with Quirrell.
“This spell is known as the ‘Stream of Darkness,'” Quirrell said as nebulous darkness bellowed from his wand, washing against the Silver Shield as Harry was being pressed back against the flow while bracing it. It didn’t help that the faulty shield was being eaten away. “As you can feel it corrodes and dissolves physical matter, even the Silver Shield spell wasn’t meant to weather this, but give a brief reprieve. Now, I’ll show you how it can be used for a more decisive action.”
All the darkness swirled into a black-rimmed sphere of light at the tip of his wand. With a silent Banishing Charm (Depulso), he knocked Harry back from his defense to get him out of range as the dark orb was released, barreling down slower than the average spell, but carrying an heavy presence. On impact with the shield in the air, it expanded into a orb of pure, cold, blackness and then spun into itself, imploding as it…ate his spell, as far as Harry could tell. “Whoa!”
“That was the Abyss Sphere Curse, a spell designed to swallow space and pull itself into oblivion by compressing with an intense, concentrated gravity. Against a living target it is fatal, to say the least. I could have also released it as a less lethal shockwave instead,” Quirrell told him. “I’d compressed the spell and then let it out with my wand in the air. I’d recommend that should you attempt the spell, rather than the Abyss.”
“Okay…” Harry dusted off his robes and asked, “What next?”
“Next we’re working on your transformations,” he told him.
“What’s the point of that if I can conjure?” Harry asked.
“You said you were bad at it,” he answered. “Are you content to remain as you are? Or will you advance no matter what, grasping power with your own hands? If that’s the case, you will work on it from tonight on, five nights a week, to ensure you are at least competent in that field. But perhaps a more hands-on approach, hm?”
The professor entered a duelist stance. “Attack me with say…a conjured element, for now.”
Harry opted to go with summoned flames, “Incendio!”
A line of fire bellowed from his wand and surged towards Quirrell, who captured it with a parry of his wand and twisted them into the shape of a quadruped that barreled towards the boy. Caught off guard, it pounced and was about to smother him with its flaming body when it scattered into countless embers around Harry.
“In a duel it is sometimes for effective to take your opponent’s spell and turn it against them,” the professor lectured. “Catch them off guard by being defensive and then using their own offense against them.”
Harry took his glasses off and cleaned them with his robes before saying, “Lesson learned. I’ll study transformations.”
“Good,” he said, using his wand to get things back in order as they readied to break for the night. “By the way, I heard you were still having trouble with your housemates for not kowtowing to their standards and costing them house points again.”
“It’s just a stupid cup,” Harry said. “The rest of the first years are either sheep or cowards and the older students don’t have much to say to me—granted they don’t like me for it…”
“Don’t let it get you down,” Quirrell told him. “It was always like that, even in my time. I was looked down upon because I lacked the abilities I have now and didn’t toe the line. It often end in violence, and I could only rely on myself.”
“So you were bullied for the same reason I was?” Harry asked. “You refused to be a sheep?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “But unlike you, I didn’t have an excellent teacher to help me grasp power with my own hands. At least, not while here.”
Harry nodded, grateful for the Ravenclaw graduate’s assistance in pushing him this far in such a short time. “Thanks…I mean it.”
Time Skip to May
It started simple enough.
Madam Hooch had left to take Morag and Fawcett up to the infirmary after a nasty spill and ordered them to circle the grounds within range, at a low altitude. Since Harry’s mind was on how Professor Quirrell seemed more…antsy lately—the man had started stuttering again and Snape seemed to be glancing at him with eyes of suspicion—he was caught off guard when he was clipped from behind by Stephen as he passed.
The duelist’s son turned and spoke in a mocking tone. “Careful, before you have an accident. Wouldn’t want to get hurt, would you?”
“Hold on to that thought,” Harry said as he dusted himself off, put his scarf and glasses back on, and, with a whip-like motion, pointed his wand at him. “Ventus!”
The blast of wind hit him square in the chest and sent him spiraling to the ground. Stephen stood and drew his wand, moving his locks out of his face as he exclaimed, “That was a challenge. Face me in a duel!”
“Bring it on, Morag’s Herding Dog!” Harry exclaimed, attempting to nail him with the Curse of the Bogies off the bat. “Mucus ad Nauseam!”
“Protego!” Stephen announced as a blue-rimmed, shimmering shield of magic protected him from the curse, scattering the curse’s light on impact. It lacked deflection due to the lack of power, but still blocked it. He retaliated with the Jelly-Fingers Curse. “Finxi Wibbly!”
Harry dodged, the spell whizzing past his turned torso. Digging into the knowledge of the second-year spells from the Standard Book of Spells Grade 2, he briefly considered the Severing Charm or Quirrell’s Stream of Darkness but found both to be too risky in a school-duel and he wasn’t advertising he was that far ahead of the curve. So he stuck with charging his standard offensive spell. “Flipendo Duo!”
“You’re not the only one who bought the text ahead of their year and practiced, Potter!” Stephen yelled as he dodged, recognizing the charging as a second year technique. He moved his wand in the shape of twin-tipped mountains and put a good deal of power behind his spell as he cast, “Immobulus!”
A blue bolt shot from Stephen’s wand with intent to freeze Harry in place. However, Harry had cast his own Shield Charm, which took the attack but the shattered like glass upon impact, staggering him. There was a reason that most first-years didn’t use this spell, it was because they couldn’t put enough power behind it having just adjusted to getting a wand in that year and it was a moderately difficult charm that most adults had trouble with. There was a reason the Twins planned to market shielded clothing.
“Locomotor Wibbly!” Stephen verbalized as he cast the Jelly-Legs Jinx and winged Harry, dropping him to his knees.
“Finite Incantatem!” A white flash vacated Harry’s wand as he used the General Counter Spell. His legs regained strength and he rolled to avoid the incoming Disarming Charm and then the Body Freezing Spell. He came up and announced, “Glacius!”
Chilled vapor vacated his wand, barreling down as more magic was poured into the spell and turning the grass into crystalline blades as the Shield Charm came up. The spell spread at the barrier, chilling the ground. Harry followed up with an Oppugno Jinx, taking control of the frozen grass and sending them flying and battering it against the shield.
A smile crossed Stephen’s lips. He lived for the thrill of the duel, courtesy of the blood running through his veins, and hadn’t expected a challenge from a First Year like himself. He may have been ordered by Morag to kowtow him into line before he lost them anymore points, due to a debt he felt he owed her, but now…now he could relish the duel—a situation where wands were used to their fullest—with the added bonus of having a crowd.
At this point several students left behind them were taking bets with 3-to-1 odds.
“Inflatus!” said the duelist son as he attempted an Inflation Jinx, a pale-pinkish light that streaked forth and passed by Harry’s head as he dodged.
Harry countered which a Revulsion Jinx missed and followed with a Stinging Jinx, “Fodio!” The jinx hit Stephen’s leg and it felt like he had been hit with a dozen times over at the location, the pain stopping him from moving as it swelled, right as another spell left his wand.
“Tarantallegra!” Stephen cursed Harry with the Dancing Feet Spell, making him do a jig. And when Harry thought it couldn’t get any worse, it made him do a split, getting a collective “Oof!” from the men in the audience. Stephen gloated as his ego demanded, considering his victory at hand…it left him open.
Alright, time to pull a Quirrell special out then, Harry thought with vengeance in mind. His wand’s tip glowed an ethereal, sickly green color before he cast the Ghostly-Head Curse. “Phasmatis Capitillus!”
Lime-colored smoke gave birth to a ghastly, green-tinted head twice the boy’s size, which opened its mouth wide and screamed as it lunged for the Ravenclaw, terrifying the hell out of everyone who had gathered. Stephen tried to use some jinxes to stop it, which was a mistake. He should’ve used an element to affect it, like the Ventus Jinx or targeted Harry, who guided it. Taking him into its mouth, the head bit down and ruptured with enough force to throw him Stephen off his feet and sent flying as a wave of the ethereal smoke washed over him.
“Gloating is for after the wands are down,” Harry huffed after terminating the Dancing Feet Spell. He was about a split-second away from using the next curse when Stephen aimed towards the tree Harry was by and went into using the Caught transformation spell.
“Incacerata!” The tree limbs bent and turned into chains, descending to capture the Potter. Coiling around his torso and free arms, Harry dropped his wand before he could try the Severing Charm or even the Pressure Blasting Charm (Expluso) on it.
I should’ve cursed him instead of telling him not to gloat—it was my own fault, Harry thought.
“POTTER! CORNFOOT!” The roar of an angry Madam Hooch, short gray hair billowing and hawk-eyes furrowed, coming in on a broom took away the brief joy Stephen had at that moment. “There is no dueling on the school grounds!”
“He started it,” Harry said. “He knocked me off my broom first!”
“That does not excuse a duel—especially one of this magnitude!” Madam Hooch huffed as she used the General Untransfiguration spell to turn the tree back to normal. “Reparifarge!”
The tree chains melted and flowed back into becoming limbs. Done with that, the pissed off instructor looked at the gathered crowd, who all made like eggs and scrambled while she dragged them both away to Flitwick, who took twenty house points from his own house for both of them and detention for an undetermined amount of time.
The winner of the bet was not announced, but galleons did pass hands.
Later that Night
Harry, Draco, Hermione, Stephen, Neville, Gene, and Hagrid stood at the entrance of the Forbidden Forest.
“How’d you get detention?” Gene asked.
“Duel,” Harry responded and pointed his opponent. “Which he started, I might add.”
“And won,” Stephen added.
“Says you,” Harry countered, before looking at the rest. “What about you guys?”
“We all got caught outside during curfew,” Hermione said.
“They were smuggling a dragon,” Draco added.
Gene snorted. “Like you can prove it?”
Hagrid cleared his throat to get their attention and tell them how they were to search for injured unicorns in the forest and send up Red Sparks (Vermillious) if they found them or something happened. It went about as well as expected when Draco spooked Neville into releasing sparks, leaving Harry, Gene, and Draco together as they searched with Fang.
“Look,” Harry said, leaning down and picking up clumped strands of Unicorn Hair next to a drop of silver blood. He pocketed the hair strands in his expansion charmed pouch. “We’re going in the right direction.”
His brother noticed the pouch and asked, “Where’d you get the pouch?”
“Classified,” Harry responded, freezing as they came across the scene.
Draping over the downed Unicorn, a cloaked figure drank deep the luminous silver blood before noticing the interlopers to its meal. It looked up, and Draco fled in terror with Fang. Harry’s wand was already up and out of panic at the grisly scene he fired off a spell. “Flipendo!”
The creature raised a hand and the spell rebounded like it hit an invisible wall, sending the streaking comet of orange back to its caster, whose eyes went wide. Like he was kicked by a mule the young boy was sent flying into a tree. Then the world flashed for him as he screamed in pain, the misfortune of having his wand arm impaled upon by a jagged, broken branch the size of a pencil penetrating through it and breaking from the impact.
The creature froze upon hearing the scream and briefly contorted with pain, waging a war between emotions. Once a centaur arrived, it decided to retreat as the boys were carried off to Hagrid by Firenze, where Gene realized after a conversation just who it was they had faced: Voldemort.
He opted to keep silent at the moment.
After arriving in the Madam Pompfrey’s care and getting the wound treated and bones mended, Harry was groggy from the potions when he received a visitor the next morning.
“Professor…Quirrell?” Harry asked, vision blurred as he reached for his glasses. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see how one of my students was doing after a trip to the Forbidden Forest,” he said. “I heard you were attacked. Did…did you see what did it?”
“I didn’t recognize whatever it was drinking the Unicorn’s blood…” Harry said, not noticing the tiny breath of relief Quirrell had or the fact that he loosened his grasp on his wand. He had been planning on hiding the memory with the Forgetfulness Charm (Obliviate). “It could’ve been a vampire.”
“Possibly,” he nodded. “I believe we hadn’t covered that Dark Creature in class or private yet. I’ll see what I can find.”
Time Skip to June 4th
Harry was out the third floor, under his improved Bedazzling Hex, when he saw Ron and Hermione, two of Gene’s friends, leaving the room that they were forbidden to enter in the first place under the pain of death. He supposed it was none of his business, but the playing of a harp drew him in and he entered the room…coming face-to-face with the slumbering three-headed dog behind an opened trap door.
Venturing through the rooms of cleared traps and obstacles, taking a minute to deal with the potion’s riddle, he eventually made his way to a scene he hadn’t been expecting: Gene and Quirrell, one’s hand burnt to the bone while the other was bound by ropes. His frantic thoughts left ceased when Quirrell looked his way and another voice came from behind him. “Harry…Potter…I know you are there.”
With a wave of Quirrell’s wand the hex was canceled and Harry stood there with his wand out, confused as hell. “What’s going on?”
“Come apprentice,” it said, beckon Harry forward. “You will be useful here. Come and assist me in retrieving the stone, and I shall give you more power. More knowledge. Enough respect that you shall be greater that the Boy-Who-Lived…”
“Don’t listen, Harry!” Gene said. “He’s Voldemort! He’s the one who killed Uncle Pettigrew!”
“You can trust me, Harry,” Quirrellmort said, Voldemort had already begun possessing the man and controlling him. “If you want to get out of your brother’s shadow, this is the way. He is an obstacle to your quest for power by merely existing. Hasn’t he caused all problems you faced by simply living that night, long ago?”
“What stone?” Harry asked, eyes shifting between the two. “What does he mean, Voldemort?”
“He’s trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone!” Gene yelled from his bindings. “Voldemort’s been possessing Quirrell all year!”
“No…” Harry said, shaking his head. He’d been studying under the very person who tried to murder him as a toddler along with his brother. “He’s lying, right?”
“I’ve taught you much, apprentice,” he said, not denying the claim. “I can teach you more. Just prove your loyalty and get the stone from your brother. Serve me and gain power as Quirrell has. I could use someone of your talent among my followers, and you have much room to grow…”
“…Where’s this stone, Gene?” Harry said after a moment.
Gene looked at him in shock. “Are you serious?”
“Tell me or I’ll force it out of you,” Harry warned, his grasp on the wand tightening as magic flowed into it, light gathering like a forming star as he aimed at Gene. The glow became an ominous scarlet as his wand hand trembled from the power being placed behind it. “Last chance.”
Defiance rose in the Boy-Who-Lived eyes. “Never.”
“So be it.” The light turned white, shining like a morning star as the stain became unbearable…and he pointed it towards Quirrellmort. “Flipendo Tria!”
The spell knocked the man against the mirror and shattered it into a rain of enchanted glass as he flew through it and into the wall with a sickening crunch and crumbled onto the floor..
“I serve no one,” Harry said as he cut the bindings—and some of Gene’s clothing—with the Severing Charm (Diffindo) so Gene could break free grab his wand off the floor next to him. “Come on!”
The two sped through the rooms when Gene asked, “You were Voldemort’s apprentice?”
“No!” Harry exclaimed, shaking his head. “I was Quirrell’s! That man was not him! I refuse to acknowledge it!”
“So that was all an act to get his guard down?” Gene asked. Harry didn’t answer. “Was it an act or were you seriously—”
“Shut up and focus, Gene!” Harry told him as they ran, gritting his teeth upon hearing the scream of an angry Dark Lord chasing them. As they entered the Devil Snare room, Harry decided to do what he could to even the odds. “Fumos Duo!”
Gene conjured Bluebell flames, taught to him by Hermione, to keep the Devil Snare at bay while Harry’s wand spat smoke out like a fountain, filling the room and path up to hinder the sight of the incoming threat. Afterward he threw down the Stickfast Hex to trap anyone who walked through it as the flames died.
Once they were clear Harry climbed first to get through the trap door while Gene came up and slammed it shut. He hit it with a Sticking Charm (Gluternus) to keep it down and then made way to the exit. All the measures they took should have bought them—
—about three seconds as the proxy of the Dark Lord howled and the trap door exploded open. The exit to the room slammed shut and locked, immune to the unlocking charm no matter how many times Gene cast, and Quirrellmort appeared, eyes illuminated with power as the possession had been completed.
With a wave of his wand the twins were knocked back and the harp began playing an ominous, haunting tune as he looked at Harry first. Quirrellmort raised his wand and a green light gathered, one that flashed in Harry’s memory to a long night ago, spurring him to summon his ultimate defense. “Foolish boy. Much like Pettigrew, you have betrayed me. If you will not serve me, then die…Avada—”
With a practiced grace done a hundred times over and over since he learned it, Harry recited the only spell he knew that would protect him. “Cotego—”
“—Kedavra/Argenti!” They finished together, the silver shield taking root in front of him, gleaming in the candle light as the emerald green light of the Killing Curse jetted forth, moving like serpentine lightning speeding towards prey. There was a loud gong as the curse hit the shield, which shattered in an explosion due to the difference in power and the inexperience that left some of the conjured steel ending up as shrapnel that decorated the boy’s body.
Harry was thrown back against the wall and slid down, leaving bloody trails as he bled and his breath went near still. Pain—all over, he only knew pain and agony.
“Expelliarmus!” Gene cast, taking the possessed man’s wand and snapping it without a second thought, before he could reclaim it. Quirrellmort and extended his hand, wandlessly and silently casting a Strangulation Curse (Suffocio) upon the elder twin. Unable to breath, he slowly slipped into the void of unconsciousness.
The world blurred for Harry as he witnessed his brother being Force-Choked like he had seen when Sherry took him to her place to watch Star Wars during one of the holidays. He spied the enchanted harp playing, lulling the dog into a sleep, and Quirrellmort right in front of it. His choice was one that would scar him for life as he cast a final spell with a limp wrist, about to kill the very man who taught him with it. “Ex…pulso…”
The pressure around the harp increased to rupture it in an explosion, the cessation of the music awaking the sleeping dog…that mauled the possessed man.
The first set of fangs came around and dug into his abdomen, crushing and piercing the rubbery flesh that seeped visceral fluid as the organs gave way. The second managed to get a leg off, the blood flowing out with bits of sinew and meat that rained down as it hungrily ate the morsel. The third…well, it got the rest beginning with the stringy arms that were slightly chewy.
Naturally, all the screams drew the attention of Peeves, who stumbled in. “What’s all the—” he froze for a moment, noticing Harry’s wand trained in the direction of the dog and the mauled professor and left out screaming all around the castle, “POTTER’S KILLED PROFESSOR QUIRRELL! MURDERER! MURDERER!”
As Gene laid passed out, Harry looked into Quirrell’s remains and noted, the life was gone as his own would soon be. He had killed his mentor to save his brother, possessed or not, it wouldn’t change that fact. As his vision died he heard the door unlocking and rushing footstep, along with someone calling his name right before the world went black.
So this is Hogwarts
Harry Potter: Age 11
The days passed swiftly and became years somehow.
Now, on-board the train as it made its way to Hogwarts, Harry Potter flipped through the pages in his Standard Book of Spells Grade 1. In truth he had already bought the volumes up to Grade 4 along with his other books, although he planned to just skim through them every now and then since they weren’t necessary just yet. He was a bit disappointed it didn’t teach what it described as Dark Charms, so he had also spent a few extra Galleons to purchase Curses and Counter-Curses by Vindictus Viridian at Flourish and Botts.
He retrieved his wand on his own by following his parents, who left them behind in their excitement for their other son and picking their pockets for the galleons needed. He had picked up a few lessons these years. While his brother had gotten a beautiful snow owl named Hedwig, Harry opted against getting a pet.
He had wanted to get a bat like Albert at Magical Menagerie, but the Hogwarts rules on paper didn’t allow for anything but a toad, cat, rat, or owl…not that he wouldn’t consider it at a later date once his affairs were settled. Second year maybe?
Speaking of Albert, Sherry had become Harry’s best friend throughout the last few years. She often gave him advice or attention whenever she had the time, even taking him to mundane London to play in the mall arcade with a collection of kids who were more familiar with the seedier places on the continent or catch a movie with Arthur. It was through her he gained an interest in researching different topics by loaning him books or purchasing them for him as gifts during his birthday and Christmas.
She even let him use her spare wand a few times to show him some simple spells and tricks. It was carved and painted to look like one of the mundane magician and it worked better than her original for him. He could already perform a few simple jinxes and hexes at this point.
The rest of his family still didn’t know who she was, or the fact that she existed. To be honest, he found their lack of concern that he often left and came back without saying anything disturbing. But that passed, and he preferred it that way.
The Boy-Who-Lived was the important one for good or bad. The less people who knew about him, the less people who’d try to kiss up to him in order to get to his brother.
Reaching the chapter in the Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed book, he practiced the wand movements for Steleus hex since he didn’t get a chance to try it with Sherry. Before he could get the repetition down, three boys entered his compartment and his eyes briefly looked over them.
The shortest one and assumed leader looked him up and down before asking, “I’m looking for Gene Potter. Do you know which compartment he’s in?”
Harry pointed his thumb backwards. “Should be the rear one, with two others in it so I doubt you’ll find space.”
The boy nodded and went off with his two lackeys and things settled down once again as he went back over the motions…only for the boy and his friends to return five minutes later and crowd into the compartment. This time Harry spared them more than a glance, taking in their features.
The obvious leader was pale, with blond hair and gray eyes. He had an air of superiority to him that Harry identified as a trait of most pure-blooded families and shrugged it off. The muscle he brought along with him were pretty bulky for their ages.
“You,” the blond boy stared at Harry. “I didn’t get your name before.”
“Harry…just Harry,” he told him, not wanting to reveal his last name. “What about you three?”
“I’m Draco,” the boy responded in kind, before pointing to his followers. “These two are Crabbe and Goyle.”
Harry nodded in compliance. He could tell something was eating away at the trio but decided to leave it be. Gene probably had something to do with it.
Still, practicing the wand motions while in a crowded compartment would cause problems, so he sheathed his wand and the book, before pulling out a copy of his notes from Practical Defensive Magic and Its Use Against the Dark Arts that he read from the bookstore but couldn’t buy.
As he perused over the notes, he noticed Goyle looking over his shoulder to look at the pages. The boy was growing more agitated as he read far slower than Harry did, so he decided to cater to him and slow down a bit until he dozed off along the rest of the way.
After the Sorting Hat
Harry scowled as he was bombarded by questions during the dinner all the way up to the Common Room of the Ravenclaw Tower. He got sorted away from Gene (after a Hat-Stall between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor) but the moment the word “Potter” came with his name as he was called, he was seen as a potential doorway into meeting his more renowned brother.
So far most of the Ravenclaws were more curious as to how he survived Voldemort’s Killing Curse, treating it like the puzzle of the ages or a science project. Mind you, it actually was a mystery that no one seemed to have figured out. He was a clue to them in order to get the solution, but unfortunately the he knew as much as they did: Nothing.
The questioning went on for what felt like hours as he tried to get his bed set up. Once he got fed up of the third-degree, he let out a deep breath of air and said, “Look, I don’t know how he survived. He hasn’t even given it another thought himself, not how to weaponize it or anything. He’s complacent with his current standing and that’s all I know.”
That seemed to pacify them and they went along with their business.
“Whew…” Harry sighed as he finally got some peace and quiet. He pulled out his book out hexes again, along with a notepad and pen. It was then another person made himself known from the bunk on top of Harry’s own.
“Sorry about all the questions,” a boy with brown hair, green eyes, and a somewhat nervous disposition. “I’ve heard that they might get like that when faced with the great Potter mystery from one of the Prefects, but didn’t think it would be so bad.”
Harry couldn’t help but stare at him with a deadpan face. “You can’t be serious with that name.”
Terry chuckled. “That’s what everyone was whispering when your brother’s name came up at dinner. I’m sure they’ll act less like a cliche and more like normal people tomorrow…what’s that you’ve got there?”
“Hm?” Harry looked over to his pen and notepad. “I’m compiling information on a letter. Using a quill and scroll is a pain with having ink lying around. I have a scroll and quill to use for assignments where it is absolutely necessary, but for my own private notes and such I’ll do what I want.”
The top bunk creaked as the boy dropped down to Harry’s and sat next to him. “A bit late for introductions, but my name is Terry Boot.”
Terry picked up the Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed and flipped through the pages. “You’ve been studying hexes already?”
“And curses and jinxes.” Harry added. “I already know the Stickfast hex and the Conjunctivitis curse from Curses and Counter-Curses, the Knockback jinx and the Glacius charm from a friend. I’m trying to learn the Tongue-Tying curse and Steleus next. Then the Stinging jinx…”
“Impressive,” he said flipping through the book. “I can only do the Ventus jinx myself and some charms. Can I borrow your books sometime?”
“Mmmm…there’s a lot of meaningless parts to it so I’ll just give you a copy of my condensed notes,” Harry said, before tipping his glasses. “But only if you’ll help me. I’ll need someone to practice with, so it’ll be beneficial to both of us. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
Terry nodded. “Deal.”
The Next Morning
That morning before breakfast, Professor Filius Flitwick personally came to introduce himself in a slightly squeaky voice. “Good morning claws, I take it you are all eager to start your first classes at Hogwarts?”
He was met with a group of different agreements that sounded like a choir until Robert Hilliard, the Prefect, raised his wand let sparks fly in order to settle them down. The professor brought out a tin filled with cupcakes and made them dance, before they flew into the hands of the students.
“Now, if you have any problems feel free to come to me,” he waved his wand a second time and suddenly their schedules appeared in the hands.
Harry looked at the time table:
Monday: Potions, Herbology
Tuesday: History of Magic, Transfigurations
Wednesday: Charms, Potion, Flying, Astronomy
Thursday: Defense Against the Dark Arts
Friday: Potions, Charms
“I will be teaching Charms personally and will be expecting great things from all of you, but I am known as having a laid-back style of teaching,” the professor said in a mirthful voice. “So long as you do not disrupt the rest of the class or other student’s, I will allow you to have a bit of leeway in behavior as I do all students—but just the same, do your best and keep our house’s reputation upheld.”
Terry, who was standing next to Harry whispered in his ear. “We’ve hit the jackpot.”
Before Harry could say anything, another guy made himself known and pushed past them to make his way towards the professor. “I’ve heard that you were formerly a dueling champion. Is that true?”
“Indeed it is,” he nodded. “I believe you are Stephen Cornfoot, correct? I do believe I have dueled your father for that title in the past.”
Cornfoot gave him a polite bow. “I want to say it is an honor to be in the same house as a champion dueler such as yourself.”
“I hope to say the same in the future, should you follow such a path,” the Head of House snapped his fingers at that. “In addition, the D.A.D.A teacher is a former Ravenclaw graduate who has come to teach you after the position had been left vacant after the last one.”
“Why did the last one leave?” One of the girls asked.
“Ah, Sue Li wasn’t it?” He waited until she said it was. “There are many tales spun about the position, but so far none have lasted past a year. With any luck, it will change. Now, off to breakfast and class!”
“Potter!” The voice of one Severus Snape cut through the classroom. The voice was lined with malice, an edge added the moment he laid eyes on Harry, who was sitting next to Terry Boot with his Magical Drafts and Potions book open. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
Harry winced, knowing how unfortunate it was that he looked like James and knowing from how Sirius and he would often speak of the old days making Snape miserable (when Lily wasn’t around).
He answered with, “I’m not sure. I haven’t had time to go over the materials—”
The professor cut him off. “Did you think you were too good to study for my class? Hoping to coast by on the first day?”
“Not at all,” Harry said. “If I had known a bit sooner which classes I had, I would have gone over the materials last night.”
“You should’ve studied before even knowing your class, Potter. It would seem you lack the Ravenclaw’s so-called wit.” The professor fired back, taking a dig at the house he had been assigned yesterday. It may have stung a bit more if Harry hadn’t been annoyed by the majority last night, but still it was a dig. “I had heard rumors that I should be prepared to deal with any of you willing to backstab one another for educational purposes, but it would seem you wouldn’t need to worry about that if this is any indication of your dedication to education.”
“But—” Harry started but was cut off.
“Pay attention, all of you! This is Potions Class. You whose house boasts wit and wisdom can read all you like, but when it comes to practical application you’ll find things substantially harder. You can ask Quirrell what I mean if you doubt my words.
“In here you will learn to brew victory through the subtle science, stopper death with mystical concoctions, and seize knowledge that would make even the greatest of men concede to you—if you are as intelligent as your house claims, but given what just happened I doubt it. We’ll start with the Cure for Boils potion, so pair up.”
He moved back to his desk at the head of the class before spinning on his heel and saying, “For the record, the answer was the Draught of the Living Dead. If you had studied One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, which was also mandatory, you would have known what those two ingredients were for…ten points from Ravenclaw for an unimpressive start.”
“But we don’t have points yet,” Harry pointed out.
“I can wait until they are applied and then subtract them,” Snape told him.
Harry gritted his teeth as he kept his head down and looked at the book, marking the page for the Cure for Boils. He could feel the eyes of a few of the claws on him. Some in amusement, some in anger, and some mockingly—he hated it. He couldn’t care less about the House Cup, but he didn’t need a bull’s eye on his back.
“You alright?” Terry asked, getting his cauldron out for them to use.
“If I had known what classes we were taking before this morning, I would have studied,” Harry assured himself, ignoring Terry as he marked down a note to read through the two books with the small notebook and pen and stuffed it into his pocket.
The two then went to work on the potion with Harry fuming. He wanted to be angry at the professor, but let’s be frank, there was no victory to be had there and Snape was mean to nearly everyone. It was his connection to James that was the problem. Luckily Snape did judge fairly on potions and Terry had some skill as well as Harry, so theirs got a passing grade before they went off to Herbology and had a few phials of it left over for personal use.
Along the way Harry was formulating a plan to deal with the whole issue between James and Snape before he became the target of the man’s wrath all year and gave into the desire to shoot off a spell—
“Fumunculus!” said a feminine voice.
—not that it stopped someone from actually hitting him with one.
Harry had passed by the jinx in Curses and Counter-Curses while studying up on the Stickfast Hex and knew what it was supposed to have felt like from a witness’s review…but experiencing it was another. He had to give Snape credit about the difference between reading and practical application.
Being hit the sickly beam from behind sent a bubbling feeling throughout his body, like a really bad stomach ache that spread to the surface. The spell prickled his skin, forming the blemishes on his otherwise ordinary face. Angered, Harry spun to see that Morag MacDougal, one of the girls from his house, had cast the Pimple Jinx.
She passed by Harry, who was downing one of the Cure for Boils potion, along with Stephen Cornfoot. “Since we haven’t been properly introduced, Potter, I’m Morag MacDougal, of the house MacDougal—a house that has been attending Hogwarts as Ravenclaws for generations.”
“And the fact that you just did the magical equivalent of slapping me in the face has what to do with that?” Harry asked.
Morag snapped her fingers and Stephen gave him a slip of paper. “That is a schedule I’m handing out to everyone in the house. With any luck it should keep you from having us lose anymore house points from ignorance and losing the cup. Follow it and we won’t have any problems.”
Stephen gave her a compliment as the two started to walk off, stupidly turning their backs on someone and thinking that was the end of it. They thought wrong as his wand slid into his hand and the motion was made. You don’t hex, curse, or jinx someone and act there aren’t any consequences.
“MacDougal, wasn’t it?” Harry said, steel in his eyes as she turned to see his wand pointing at her. “The next time you hit someone with a jinx, make sure you don’t take your eyes off them when they’re pissed. Flipendo!”
A streaking, spiraling comet of orange vacated the tip of his wand, leaving a trail of dancing sparks as it flew through the space to deliver vengeance upon the foolish girl who attacked him. The spell caught her straight in the chest, knocking her off her feet and scattering her learning material. It was really a nice coincidence that when she was knocked off her feet, she clipped Stephen and bought him down too.
“You brute!” The girl’s face was turning red with rage, as was her friend.
“Pot meet kettle,” he bluntly stated. “I’m telling you right now, I’m not letting you dictate my life because you want to win a stupid cup and I’m not going to be a victim of bullying. You attack me, you get attacked back, no matter how long it takes.”
They stood up going for their wands—
“Is t-t-there a p-p-problem here?” A new voice chimed in. Harry, Terry, Stephen, and Morag all turned to see Professor Quirrell, who was pale and trembling as usual and kind of fidgety.
“Nothing at all Professor Quirrell,” Harry said without breaking eye contact with the two who started the whole affair. Mind you, his wand was slipped into his robe sleeve with his hand, hiding it while allowing him to quick draw should he need to. “Miss MacDougal slipped and fell after handing me a Cure for Boils potion out of the kindness of her heart when some unruly student hit me from behind with a Pimple Jinx—an act that I consider terms for a conflict.”
Quirrell looked at the scene and nodded. “Well, if you find the s-s-student who did so, report them at o-o-once. Ten points to Ravenclaw for sticking together.”
“Thank you Professor…” Harry said with a smile and then promptly walked past the pair, followed by Terry, as they made their way to Herbology. That smile dropped once they were merging with in the incoming students into the greenhouse.
“What was that about?” Terry asked.
Harry scowled and said, “I’m a firm believer in paying evil unto evil and will not allow someone try and bully me on my first day of classes. Nor will I be herded around by someone who thinks they’re the leader of the pack.”
Unbeknownst to many, Harry had to often deal with rejecting people who claimed to be friends in order to mingle with his brother. Some of his rejections came off on people the wrong way and he may have been forced to make his point clear through gratuitous use of the knee to the groin technique when they tried flaunting muscle or use force. One of the benefits of going to the mall arcade was you met mundane kids from all walks of life and they can teach you so much.
Once lunch came around he grabbed a bite and proceeded to the Library to write out a schedule of his own with a map of the school grounds pulled out and marked down a spot near the lake and the Quidditch pitch where he could get in a morning jog and maybe some spell practice with his pen:
6 am: Wake Up & Jog
7 am: Spell Practice (Private spells)
8 am: Come Back, Shower & Breakfast
9 am: Classes
12 pm: Lunch
1 pm: Break (Study alternative materials and practice class spells)
7 pm: Supper
If he was getting into altercations this early into the year, it would not end well for him to be out of practice. He also combined through his previous notes written for his own spells and made a copy for Terry, as promised.
Fire laved Harry’s lungs as he took a jog in the early morning at Hogwarts. Yesterday hadn’t been as smooth as he would have liked and he made sure to jot that down in a letter he planned to send to Sherry later on in the week.
Being only eleven, he had youth on his side, but not as much stamina as he liked. He found that out jogging on the grounds around the castle, which wore him out before he took a minor break. Harry had no plans on doing anything like Marital Arts (although he acknowledged a shot to the groin and street fighting were useful) because most wizards only get close when in a duel for intimidation, after the curse had been cast.
Next he went over to the spot he marked for practice casting spells. Repetition on its own and without a practice partner was boring. However, it served to ingrain muscle memory and intention onto him, eventually allowing him to cross over into the borders of silent casting and wandless magic, as well as increase his magical stamina.
During this particular training period, he focused solely on one spell, Flipendo.
The intention was to knock the opponent back, and so he visualized the image of his brother, whom he had less than pleasant feelings for and acknowledged as such, taking the full weight of a blow. The motions shaped the spell and gave it form, converting the intention to give it a physical form. The incantation pulled the trigger, firing the spell out in a streaking display of orange.
Letting out a deep breath, he fired again and again, keeping up the practice until his arm ached and he noticed it was time to go back inside for a shower and breakfast. After that he went to History of Magic, which he thought would be more interesting than normal history whenever he tried to read about it with Sherry.
He was wrong. Oh so very wrong.
From that day on, Harry swore he would study for History of Magic away from that voice—boring was one thing, but Professor Binn’s reciting the text in that flat tone was another! Being taught by a ghost that seemed to have no interest in relating to or even minding his student was the pinnacle of boredom.
After the first half-hour of trying to tank the lesson, Harry brought out notepad, pen, and A Beginner’s Guide to Transfigurations and started jotting down notes for his next class, opting to utilize the time efficiently. Some others had the same idea, like Padma Patil and Isobel MacDougal, while others decided to get some sleep, like Terry, Stephan, and Sue Li.
When the bell signaled the end of class, they couldn’t get out fast enough.
Terry yawned and scratched his head. “I think that was the best nap I ever had. They should hire him to help the more insomniac guys in our tower to get to sleep.”
“I wish I had bought head phones, earmuffs, or something to plug up my ears,” Harry said, before pulling out one of his spare pocket notebooks with a copy of his spells on it. “Here’s the spell and notes I had on them as promised. See you out for practice tomorrow?”
Terry gave a curt nod as they entered the Transfiguration class, which to Harry’s disappointment he learned was not one of his strong suits. That was a shame because the things you could do with it boded well for the creative. As he sat between both Terry and Padma Patil, along with Sue Li next to her and Anthony Goldstein was next to Terry, he found himself desperately trying to turn the damnable match into a needle.
After two dozen tense minutes he spied the completion and noted that the only a handful of the Ravenclaws had gotten it done and one of them was Padma. With eyes shifting back and forth, he whispered her name and asked, “Say, do you have any tips on this for me?”
She looked at him cautiously, debating if she should. Seeing how she was struggling and recalling the lecture early about backstabbing, Harry put it in a different perspective, “Look at it this way, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. You ever need help on an assignment, help me on one. Deal?”
The mental debate was raging once again, but once she caught Morag staring at her, she ultimately refused with a shake of her head. “Sorry…”
Harry wasn’t happy, so he bit the inside of his cheek. If what Snape had said was true, then he wouldn’t be able to get help in-house if he had school problem because of their competitiveness with each other. MacDougal probably laid pressure on the girls against helping him if they planned to. Maybe he would have been better off a Hufflepuff or Gryffindor in that case—he’d have to make some out-of-house friends.
Thump. When there was a minor thump against his head, he looked down to see a balled up parchment lying on the floor and picked it up. Unraveling it revealed a note:
Break it down step by step; isolating it in your mind like nothing else exists.
P.S. Loved you knocked Morag down a peg, keep it up.
Harry glimpsed back and gave a minor nod to the younger MacDougal before tearing it up discreetly. It goes to say that the younger siblings didn’t always get along with the older ones. Harry went back to trying to change the match for the rest of the period with partial luck, but he probably lacked James talent in that and wouldn’t miss any sleep over it.
In Charms on Wednesday the Head of House of the claws eagerly jumped into the lesson after making a pineapple dance. Entertaining and a quick intro charms before the educator got on with the lesson.
“Alright, everyone bring out your copies of the Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1,” Professor Flitwick requested as he conjured a standard lock onto each of their desks. “To start simple, we will begin with the Unlocking and Locking charms.”
Harry had already gone over the spell and knew it already after that little fiasco with Snape. Just because Flitwick was a lenient with people in class, it didn’t mean he wouldn’t fail them during exams and Harry suspected he’d get more MacDougals and Cornfoots on his case if he didn’t get it down perfectly. The fact that he could cast a Glacius charm was moreover due to who he practiced with and how long, on average he’d rate himself in charms as…average, he guessed.
Now that he thought about it, Stephen and Morag seemed to have stepped off after that little warning he gave them. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad after all. Then again, it had only been two days.
The unlocking spell would make breaking and entering into a mundane’s home or property a piece of cake, Harry thought. Done wandlessly and silently it would be useful, but since there are spells that makes locks and doors immune to them, it does little good for a magical short of being lazy.
The fact that the thought crossed his mind was courtesy of the three years he spent under Sherry’s wings and listened to tales of her past. She was a naughty girl at his age, lock-picking, pick-pocketing, and getting into fights. She may be a good girl now, but beforehand she was a wildcat.
That Thursday morning had started with a jog and then a quick trip to wake Terry up and drag him out to help Harry practice his spells.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was what Harry found solstice in. Professor Quirrell was a bit nervous and disorientated, but he was knowledgeable about what he preached.
“Welcome all of you to DADA: Defense Against the Dark Arts,” he told the class as they poured in. It was a double today and they were paired with the Gryffindor of the same year. “Since it is your f-f-first year, you will learn the basics of defending against Dark Arts including Dark Charms and Dark Creatures. Any questions before we begin?”
“Will we be learning how you use any of the Dark Charms this year?” Harry asked. That got him some leery eyes. It wasn’t a question you’d ask, especially not so eagerly for a member of a ‘light’ family. “What? It’s a perfectly legitimate question.”
“Define what you mean by Dark Charms?” Quirrell asked. “While we do cover most jinxes, hexes and curses are kept s-s-simple. Nothing too serious beyond the usual pranks some of you kids pull off…this year.”
“This is how to defend against them,” Hermione Granger from the Gryffindor side said. “We’re supposed to learn to counter them.”
“Maybe, but to defend against something you need to experience it and therefore use it,” Harry countered. “Curses can be as good a defense as an offense.”
“Stunners, disarming, and restraining spells cover that and should be used in urban combat against other wizards,” Gene Potter threw in his lot. Since he was James-taught when it came to Auror tactics, which was no surprise. “Suppressing the enemy is sufficient in most cases. The use of a serious curse is a bit overkill on a person.”
“Ravenclaw Potter is right,” Stephen chimed in. He didn’t have like Harry and would love to hex him after that stunt he pulled, but it was a fair question and answer. “Dueling in the past was essentially the use of malevolent magic to bring an enemy down. Modern rules may have softened it to this formal bow and face each other state, and some arts are now considered too ‘dark’, but that hasn’t changed since even enough stunners can kill. It’s why most of us Pureblood nobles don’t waste time on the new garbage they feed you Newbloods.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” snapped one Dean Thomas. He caught the implied supremacy Stephen felt, since Newblood was just above Mudblood and under Muggleborn. “I had heard that Slytherin was the dark and bigot house, but—”
“The individual opinions do not reflect opinions of the house,” Morag shot up. “And there’s nothing wrong with being curious.”
“We are g-g-getting off topic,” said Quirrell, before a debate could start up…one with pre-teens, short tempers, and wands. “What one defines as Dark has a very broad meaning and if you wish to d-discuss this we can do so in a later date. For now, since this is our first class, we’ll go over the basics and an elementary curse.”
He brandished his wand and asked, “I-Is there anyone who would like to volunteer? Maybe someone from the lions would d-d-demonstrate a little Gryffindor bravery?”
“Since Harry asked, let him do it!” Ron Weasely stated. They didn’t have a good history. While Harry liked Arthur and was fairly close to him over the three years, but his boys were either too uptight (Percy) or too mischievous (Twins) for anything casual.
…Then again, Harry would admit he wasn’t exactly perfect. Ron may have had a small grudge from the time Harry reverse-pickpocketed him for practice and slipped in one of the pranks that his brothers tried to play on him. It wasn’t anything personal, but try telling him that.
“Fine,” he said after muttering ‘pansies’ under his breath. “Can you give an overview of the curse as we go along and the counter-curse or cure?”
“I intended to,” Quirrell stated, waiting for the Potter to make his way up to center of the room. “We’ll start with a simple curse: Curse of the Bogies. Mucus ad Nauseam!”
The spell gathered at the tip of his wand for a brief moment as he made a tear drop motion, an ominous greenish color loitering there. With a flash of intent it leapt from the wand and nailed Harry straight in the face, where it scattered like polluted water blanketing him. Then it kicked in and Harry got the joys of a flu/cold.
“This curse basically makes someone sick. With a bit of powering it can become doubled or tripled in power. While relatively harmless to both magicals and muggles alike in this state and because of increased health care, in the older days it would have been considered a lethal weapon, as sickness could significantly hamper one’s lifestyle.”
“If the threat level for it has died then why is it still taught?” Lisa Turpin asked. “I mean other than for a prank. Shouldn’t it be downgraded to a jinx or hex?”
“Because even a simple curse has its uses,” Harry Potter answered, sniffling and coughing while covering his nose. “It can be used well, being such a deceitful spell, and is potentially useful if the target doesn’t know they been hit by it—say if they were sleeping. In dueling terms, you can’t aim a wand right or cast a spell properly or for long if an illness is sapping your strength, watering your eyes, and making you sneeze. If you were to use it to feign illness for someone and they died from the illness, you would be hard pressed to have someone look much into it—especially if the person in question is elderly or young since those age ranges have a higher mortality rate for mundane.”
“That is c-correct mister P-Potter,” the teacher said with a nod. “I find your listing the morality age-range of muggles somewhat a bonus.”
Harry shrugged. “I’ve read up on mundane facts at a…friend’s behest and got some interesting facts down.”
“How studious, I imagine you’ll d-d-do well in Muggle Studies,” the Quirrell in him applauded, having had the former position in Muggle Studies making him somewhat appreciative of the knowledge in contest of Riddle. “Fifteen points to Ravenclaw for y-y-y-your answer, insight, and volunteering.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, before sneezing and wishing someone would conjure him a tissue. “Counter-curse now?”
“Oh right,” he undid the spell and did a quick cleaning charm to make him look presentable. “Now everyone practice getting the wand motion d-d-down and then we’ll move onto p-p-practice casting.”
After class ended and during lunch Harry decided to go to the library and do more research into his weak points so far, but along the way he was halted by three boys from the house of Slytherin. It was the three he met on the train, the leader of whom held out his hand and asked, “What’s your game, Potter?”
“Draco, wasn’t it?” Harry asked. “Call me Harry, and what game?”
“You never introduced yourself as the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived.”
Harry’s response was blunt and to the point. “Because I don’t like being known as the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived.”
“Why’d you sell him out on the train?” Draco asked. “He was your family. Selling out your brother…what was in it for you?”
“Define what family means and we’ll go into the reasons why,” Harry said with a slight chill in his voice. “I’ve heard about your rivalry with Gene and that is your own business, Draco. As long as I or someone else I like doesn’t get dragged into it or seriously injured, we’re kosher. I have heard about how your house is through second hand information, but I have nothing against them personally as long as they don’t try to screw me over.”
Draco studied Harry carefully before walking away with his hired muscle. “Be seeing you Potter.”
“Harry’s fine,” he told him a final time and got back to going to the library.
Inside he gave a brief nod to Madam Pince and Caretaker Filch, who were discussing something and made his way to an isolated section of the Library that no one visited: The History Section. There he could read without anymore interruptions.
The Next Morning
Between the Quidditch Pitch and the castle, the field had several outcroppings and trees that made for excellent targets during private proactive. When you had a partner, it was more suited for basically Spell Tag.
“Steleus!” Harry bellowed and small, green rings vacated his wand to hit Terry Boot, who had finally dragged into helping him for his notes. Terry wasn’t a morning person and couldn’t dodge the spell in time. Still the fact that he was sneezing up a storm did help show that the spell was working and he had gotten down the hex. Terry still had some fight in him as he pointed his wand at Harry.
“Ventus!” he proclaimed and red-rimmed, white light emerged. The jinx created a spiraling gust of localized wind that barreled forward and ruffled Harry’s robes as he dodged…and then Harry froze and looked behind him, eyes darting around.
“What’s wrong?” Terry asked.
“I thought I heard someone…” Harry said, right before there was a jerk on his left leg and Harry was hoisted into the air and hanging by his ankle. He could only sigh. “Only one person would pull this off. I see James taught you Levicorpus, Gene.”
From underneath an Invisibility Cloak, Gene and Ron appeared. Gene looked like he had woken up early and was well-rested, while Ron looked like he was frazzled, but pissed off. He must’ve been the one who yelped at the gale that rustled the cloak.
Harry glared at his brother. “You have mere seconds to drop me or I will make things unpleasant for you.”
“You sure about that?” Gene asked somewhat mockingly. “You’re kind of stuck in the air. Anyway, we need to have a long talk about consorting with Slytherins and your interest in the Dark Arts.”
“What of it?” Harry asked.
“You’re talking to a Malfoy for Merlin’s sake,” Gene argued. “Do you know some of the things his family has done? Plus you told him where I was on the train and then told him that you were on his side. What would Dad and others think?”
“I couldn’t care less what you or the rest think. His family isn’t whom I was just talking it up with and I have nothing against Draco Malfoy,” Harry said. “As I was saying to him, his fight is with you, not me, and I’m not taking sides. As long as he doesn’t expect me to conform to his rhetoric and violate any boundaries I have, we’re galleon.”
Unable to listen to this, Ron spoke up. “You’d sell out your family? To snakes of all things?”
“Being related by blood doesn’t make you family,” Harry stated. “If that were the case, all of us would be related to the Malfoy’s through the Black family and he would be family too.”
“That snake is not my family!” Ron stated with heat in his voice that could rival the color of his hair. “What next, are you going to sell out to Dark Magic?”
“Depends,” Harry said. “How dark are we talking?”
Gene scowled and yelled, “This isn’t a game! Everyone knows you can’t trust a snake! All three houses rarely interact with them for a reason—they’ll backstab you for house points alone! Are you trying to become a pariah, working with the enemy?”
“I couldn’t care less if I am a pariah, Gene.” Harry said. “I have no interest in house points or the little competition between the houses, that already makes me one among some of the Ravenclaws, who seem to prize wit and horde their knowledge if the loudmouth girl and Snape spoke right. Honestly, we’ve been here for less than a week and you’re starting a war between the houses.
“Also, you do realize that I still have my wand in my hand and it has been several seconds, correct?” Harry warned, before casting, “Flipendo!”
The Knockback Jinx was fire at Gene’s legs, taking them from under him and sending him on a trip to the ground. Unfortunately, all those Qudditch lessons for James left him with rather good reflexes, and used his forearms to prevent a meeting of his skull with the ground. Still, no eye contact meant his spell stopped and Harry picked himself up.
He readjusted his glasses and watched his brother glare at him. “Don’t give me that look. You started it by interrupting my practice with Terry. If you want to lecture someone, go do it to one of your fans. Otherwise I’ll show you the standard I’ve set when dealing with those who would do me harm or control me.”
Gene got into a dueler’s stance. “I’ve done what others failed to do as a baby. You can’t beat me.”
“And that right there is why I can’t stand you,” Harry sighed, before putting on a slasher smile. “You killed Voldemort as a baby, with no idea how to replicate the process. Instead of riding on the coat tails of the past, why haven’t you strived to accomplish something else? Dumbledore is known for this bout with Grendwald, but at least he still continues, such as his research into alchemy. What about you? Have you at least attempted to recreate the feat that enabled you to survive or try to weaponize it?
“You and the others cling to your past glory, yet the moment you think I sway to the side opposite of yours and could become a liability, you take an interest after so long…” Harry brandished his wand. “I’m not your enemy, but I sure won’t be your ally in your stupid little house war.”
“Ron, can you handle the other one?” Gene asked his friend. “This is between us and I don’t want interference. Talking to him is pointless if he’s so dead set on siding with the enemy.”
“Terry, stay out of this,” Harry warned. “This is between us alright, but I’ll need someone to help carry him to the infirmary when we’re done. Ronald isn’t exactly strong enough to lift his own weight, let alone someone else’s.”
Then things got really serious—or at least as serious as they could get between two eleven year olds who didn’t know any really dangerous curses yet.
“Steleus!” Harry cast the first spell. The green rings surged towards his brother, a mostly harmless hex to hamper his spell casting. He planned to follow up with a Knockback Jinx for good measure once it hit.
Gene ducked and twirled his wand in a tight spiral motion to cast, “Expelliarums!”
The Disarming Charm closed in through a ray of crimson light that illuminated Harry’s vision before he spun on his outer leg and got off line in time to avoid it nailing him in the chest. Careless of him, he shouldn’t have stood still. Harry got back to moving as he cast the Knockback Jinx again and again.
Gene Potter avoided the jinx that flew past him and nearly toppled over his best friend, lining up the Disarming Charm and firing as he moved. It seemed as though he was only taught that one spell for offense or favored it. Makes sense, seeing as Harry had been practicing longer with Sherry and Gene must’ve gotten his wand mere days after receiving his Hogwarts letter.
“Colloshoo!” Harry aimed at the estimated guess of where his brother was moving and the Stickfast Hex nailed the ground, creating a green mire that caught his left foot before he could stop, leaving him open for the Curse of the Bogies, “Mucus ad Nauseam!”
“Protego!” The incantation produced a small flair of bluish-rimmed, white as a quick shield and blocked the curse made of greenish maleficuim. It was weak and couldn’t deflect, but he was only a first year and still got it down. Most adults couldn’t do more than that.
Figures James would teach him, being an Auror and all, Harry figured as he navigated the various outcroppings that lied on the practice field, only to eventually be caught by a Trip Jinx by Gene. He tumbled as the crimson ray of a Disarming Charm followed and narrowly missed him when he rolled, coming back up with a Knockback Jinx.
The jinx was blocked and Harry took cover, before slipping out of his robe and tossing it out to the left, where it got the Disarming Charm treatment as he came around at the right and cast, “Mimble Wimble!”
A cold sensation washed over Gene and forced his tongue to curl backwards, making it impossible for him to cast another spell without silent casting skills. Harry had gotten him and leveled his wand for a Curse of the Bogies spell…
“Gryffindor Potter! Ravenclaw Potter!” Snape appeared from the direction of the castle. Terry had hidden himself and Ron was under the cloak. “There is no dueling on the grounds! Detention, both of you!”
A detention wasn’t really all that bad, at least not to Harry.
Sadly, Gene ran his mouth off in imitation of his father the moment the Tongue-Tying Curse had been dispelled and muttered a word he shouldn’t have. “Snivelus.”
The air promptly went cold and Harry felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on edge, a chill passing through his as the professor’s gaze could petrify a Basilisk. His fingers curled, as if deciding how he wanted to punish them. “I should have expected nothing less from James’ spawns. A Hundred points and three weeks detention for both of you! Say that again you’ll get worse.”
“What did I do?” Harry asked.
When his words fell on deaf ears he followed the professor inside the building and into his office, where the man sat down in his chair and faced the student. “What is it Ravenclaw Potter? Have you decided to get a head start on your sentence?”
“With all due respect Professor, I can understand the first detention on my part, even if I was only retaliating. But I will not be given extended detentions for something my brother did.”
“A pity you have no say on the matter,” he responded. “Now get out or it’ll be double the amount.”
Harry refused to move. He would not have it. “Professor, let us lay it all on the table now. I know about your rivalry with James and Sirius.”
“Is that so?” He barely spared the boy a glance. “Do enlighten me then, Ravenclaw Potter. Also, that two hundred points also deducted and a month’s detention.”
“I know that they bullied you, humiliated you, and kept doing so without considering the consequences even to this day.” Harry stated factually, earning the man’s ire.
“Three months detention and four hundred house points!” He snarled. “Now leave!”
In truth, Harry wanted to do just that. It seemed like this was a bad idea in the long run, but kept going since he was in too deep at this point. “James and Sirius still occasionally gloat. I’ll spare you the details, but I can understand why you look upon my brother and me in contempt.”
Snape pulled out his wand. He had no intention of doing anything lethal or harmful really to one of Lily’s sons (or any other student…really), but the brat was grating on his nerves. Before he could silently cast the Langlock, Harry spoke seven words:
“Cast and you’ll be just like them.”
The professor stopped and Harry let out a small breath he had been holding without realizing it, the tension in his chest melting away. “The past cannot be changed, but whatever your grievances with them, I must ask that you don’t take it out on me. I am not James. I have shown you nothing but respect to the point that I came here and tried to discuss this rationally rather than going directly to another professor or causing a scene.”
Snape’s lips pursed as he mulled the words over and he lowered his wand. “Make your point already, Ravenclaw Potter.”
“Be the better man,” Harry told him. “Don’t sink to their level and be petty. I’m all for paying evil unto evil, but treat me as a student and not the spawn of James.”
Snape’s eyebrow arched. “I noticed you didn’t include your brother?”
A thin smile decorated Harry’s lips. “He crossed a line and insulted you knowing full well what he was doing. While I doubt his Head of House will stand by and let so many points be deduced, he deserved his punishment.”
“Are you certain you aren’t merely reveling in his punishment?”
Harry smirked wider and pushed his glasses up. “A bonus really…”
Snape gave a low nod, barely visible behind his steepled fingers. “I’ll consider your…offer, but nevertheless you still have detention. Report this evening after dinner…in fact, I suggest not eating. You and your brother will be milking Flubberworms for their mucus for as a reagent for Wiggenweld potions later on in the year.”
Harry shivered. Milking a ten-inch worm that dribbled mucus out both ends was never a pleasant thought. The smile Snape got from the reaction was less than pleasant as well. Still, he answered, “Fair enough.”
As Harry made his way out of Snape’s office and back to the spot where all of his stuff was still with Terry, he never noticed Quirrell watching him silently or the interest the Dark Lord on the back of his head had. Voldemort could see an inclination towards dark arts, and a desire for the proper admiration…
He could be used if Quirrell took the proper steps, and with the whispering in his ears, it became clear he would take those steps. Having one Potter fall to the darkness and battle the one of light would be delicious irony against the two spawn that Petergrew saved.
Harry’s no saint in this fanfic, that role is Gene’s. He will not be the next Dark Lord either, nor will Gene be the ultimate jerkass cocky boy. The lack of character depth and stereotypical portrayals in these types of fanfics is astounding for the opposing sibling. In fact, the only one I’ve seen that portrays the other twin as somewhat decent after years is Deprived by The Crimson Lord.
Mind you, these are my opinion only and it could be that I simply haven’t found or read a similar story in that light. There are way too many HP fanfics out there.
Hopefully, no one will be overpowered. Overpowered is boring. Boring is…well, boring. That being said, expect a somewhat slow release date for the work.
This is obviously AU and as such some facts will be changed. Including Parseltongue being an inherited trait from their distant ties to the Gaunts through who were descendants of Slytherin. But more on that if I ever get to Year 2. Information on it and spells are gleamed off the wikia.
In the tail end of November and a fit of childhood rage, Harry Potter left his home on a nightly walk. While he would normally go places during the day, he had to get out of there instead of listening to his parents praise his paternal twin that inherited his mother’s hair. The three residents failed to take notice of his absence as usual, so he strolled through the streets at night unimpeded.
Gene Potter had been the one to live in the face of the Killing Curse, which struck down his attempted murderer. To everyone else he was a hero with no explanation as to how he survived. Living off that past glory, their focus drifted from being evenly split to nearly solely on Gene, for Dumbledore foretold the return of the Dark Lord.
Pettigrew, who played with them as infants and regaled them with tales of the Marauders and how he owed it to them he had friends at all, knew he had no choice but to tell the Dark Lord their whereabouts since his death would endow the role of secret-keeper to others and eventually lead to his friends being hunted down.
So Pettigrew decided to kill the Dark Lord himself and using his ingrained cowardice to his advantage, told him where to find the children. For that reason Voldemort didn’t bother reading his mind, such an act would be beneath a man of his stature for dealing with a coward. Who would suspect a coward like him to be capable of planning such a thing?
Pettigrew had stunned the two parents to feign his further loyalty so they wouldn’t be killed—slipping them a note in the process—and to get the Dark Lord to lower his guard. When he tried to kill Voldemort before he took the honor of casting the Killing Curse on Gene from behind…well, let’s just say his death wasn’t pleasant after he refused to stand down.
And so a brave man died. Then, his murderer turned his attention back to Gene first, being the older twin, and became ashes as his spell licked and endowed the older twin with the lightning bolt scar.
By the time the Sirius arrived with Dumbledore, unstunned the pair, read the note, found the corpse, and noticed the scar on Gene’s head, everything was done and Nagini was gone with the wand. Add in the prophesy (at least the first part) and they had the Boy-Who-Lived. Peter received a fairly nice send off focused on both his Gryffindor bravery and Gene’s feat…
Leaving one Potter to feel negligence’s cold sting.
“A pretty little number like you should know better than to come out at night, never know how you’ll run into…” A hoarse came from around the corner Harry was about to pass by. “Hand over every Sickle, Knut, and Galleon you’ve got and maybe I’ll just go away…”
Peeking over the edge, he saw a man holding a woman, who was dressed rather peculiarly, at wand point. She had a baseball cap and, rather than robes, she had a purple shirt with small sleeves, tight pants with rather exotic shoes, a sports jacket and sneakers. She had to have been a foreigner.
The woman sighed and shook her head, her blonde ponytail following behind her head by a split-second. “My first day in Magical Britain and I get jacked. Here I was thinking things weren’t as bad as they were in the U.S.”
“Shame about that my pretty,” the mugger said, licking his lips as he looked her up and down. “Reach for your wand and I cast to kill. Be a good girl, and maybe I’ll show you a good time…”
“Fair enough.” The woman simply shrugged. She took her purse off her shoulder, fingering it gently, and then tossed it underhanded towards his head.
His vision was obscured for a moment, but he cast the Severing Curse. The target was her neck. The intent was to separate it from her head, resulting in death by beheading.
Had she had still been in place, her head would have been severed based on the caster’s estimation. However, she got offline as soon as his vision was obstructed. Closing the gap, her first step was securing his wand arm before he could cast again. Second, she kneed him in the groin hard enough to rupture the testes, resulting in overwhelming pain.
Harry winced at the phantom pain and thought of such a fate.
The foreigner finished with delivering a blow into his stomach, forcing him to release his hold on the wand—which she promptly snapped—and then pulled out her own to stun him…then she turned to face the young wizard.
Harry shielded his groin out of instinctive fear.
She crossed her arms. “Why’s a kid like you out at this time?”
“I-I was taking a walk to clear my head!” He answered, trying to decide between fight or flight, with a firm grip on flight.
“Sorry, I scared you, but guys like that one tend to put me on edge.” She picked up her purse and held out her hand. “My name is Sherry. I was transferred to here from overseas to do some work. Do you live around here?”
Harry slowly reached up and shook her hand. “My name’s Harry…and yes.”
“A child wandering around with no parental supervision…” she shook her head. “C’mon, I’ll take you back home.”
The pair walked in silence part of the way. That silence was abruptly ended when Harry asked a question. “Um, why didn’t you just give him your purse so he would leave you alone? You could have reported it to the Aurors later.”
She turned and faced the young wizard. “Harry, do you really think he was going to just leave after he got whatever he wanted? You heard all the things he said, and his tone. He was going to do far worse. One stunner or body bind and…well, bad things could have happened to a witch. If I was lucky, he would have modified the memory so I wouldn’t remember it.”
Harry tilted his head. He could think of some curses James mentioned in a tirade after work…and he wasn’t aware of him. “What sort of bad things?”
She tapped her wand to her cheek. “Before I answer that, how old are you?”
“I’m 8,” he answered.
“Talk to me when you hit 14,” she replied immediately. “There are some things you shouldn’t hear at your age.”
“Alright, but why didn’t you just use your wand in the beginning?”
“He said he’d kill me if I did, so I showed him what he wanted before acting.” Sherry gave Harry a pat on the head. “A wand is no different than a gun in the matter than they normally fire straight ahead, and the user has to direct it themselves. Blinding him, getting off line, and then stopping him from using it…I could have tried something else, but it was all I had at the moment. I would’ve probably plugged him if necessary—pay evil onto evil and all.”
The green-eyed boy scratched his head in confusion. “What’s a gun?”
Sherry blinked at the statement for a few moments and shook her head. “Harry…exactly how much about the mundane world do you know?”
“You mean the muggle world?” Harry corrected her. “Not much, why?”
“I really don’t like that term to be honest, so I stick with mundane,” she twirled her wand between her fingers like a baton. “But, to put it simply a gun is a simple weapon. You point, adjust for the recoil, and pull the trigger. A projectile made of metal is released faster than you can act on base reaction times. Depending on where it hits, it can kill you.”
“Aren’t there spells to defend against that?”
“The problem with most spells, is that you have to see it coming to cast. That takes at least a second, which is more than enough time to pull a trigger. Unless a spell is cast before the altercation or before the trigger is pulled, you will get hit. That’s why you get off the axis before the shot is fired. Same strategy works against most offensive spells really.”
The youngster stepped out of the way of a cat before continuing. “How do you know this?”
“Simple, I lived in an area with a lot of non-magicals, being born to a family of non-magicals. Since the area we lived in was for those without wealth, I picked up street-smarts before I ever became a witch. I did what I had to in order to survive as I was growing up, before I attended a small magical academy, and studied with some help from old friends in normal school topics. Once I reached eighteen I went to community college on mundane subjects in order to get a degree and better education.
“In college, a few years ago, I decided to become a life consultant.” She winked at the eight year old. “Do you know what you want to do when you become an adult?”
Harry shook his head. “I haven’t even gotten my wand yet.”
“Never hurts to start thinking about these things early on. You want to move out on your own and get you own life, maybe even a cute girlfriend?”
“Umm, I—Oh look, my home is there…” Harry pointed towards the building not too far away, dodging the question. “Thanks for the escort.”
“Sure,” she told him, before reaching into her pockets and pulled out a card with a location. “Since you’re a native, can ask you some things as soon as you have the time?”
“I guess,” he pocketed the card. “I won’t be busy tomorrow.”
“Thanks, I’ll look forward to you. Have a good night Harry.”
She watched him until he entered his home and then left. Her mind slowly turning at how much different Magical Britain was compared to her home. Perhaps answers would come tomorrow.
Harry had gotten back into his home with only a small look from his parents, who said nothing more after he said he went on a walk to clear his mind. The foreigner was interesting, to say the least.
The Next Day
Sherry was sitting at a wooden desk when Harry arrived at her office. It was a small building, fit for a few people with a waiting room. Her desk had several books on various wizarding topics and some mundane.
“Good morning Harry,” she greeted him. Her eyes had glasses on them, unlike the night before, and her cap was missing. “Did you have any trouble getting here?”
Harry sat in the chair in front of her. “Not really.”
“Did you have an escort or parent?”
“I came on my own. I normally leave out on walks every day, so it’s nothing really unusual.” His hands tensed, as if they were ready to ball into fists. “They don’t really care to be honest, so I left out when they were with my brother.”
Sherry arched an eyebrow at the comment. “So your parents allow an 8 year old to go out unattended…all the time? Without you telling them where you’re going? After getting in late last night?”
“Pretty much,” he answered coldly. “They didn’t really care that I got home late.”
Okay, I’ll just file away that tidbit under negligence, Sherry thought to herself, before getting to the questions. “Alright, let’s start with your family history.”
The life consultant pulled out a notepad and a strange writing tool, rather than a quill. When she saw him confused she chuckled. “You’ve never seen a pen before?”
“No…” He admitted.
“To put a long story short, a pen is like a quill, but the ink is already inside.” To demonstrate, she wrote her name in cursive on the paper. “Now, can you tell me about your parents and heritage?”
“My father is James Potter and my mother is Lily Potter by marriage, both attended Hogwarts. Our home is the Potter Manor, with relations to the Black family—which we found out on a dare by a friend of my father and current Lord Black, Sirius Black.”
Sherry bit on the end of the pen in thought. “Potter. Potter…where have I heard that name before?”
“My brother is the Boy-Who-Lived,” Harry confessed somberly. He hated to admit it, since people would try to use him to get closer to Gene. He solemnly resigned to the shift in their newly formed relationship.
Her answer was not what he was expecting. “Huh, so that’s why. Nice for him I guess. Moving on—”
“Wait!” Those words came out of his lips faster than he could think them. “I mean, you don’t care?”
“Umm…” She scratched her head in confusion, and then spoke brutal honesty. “Am I supposed to? I mean, I heard about this Voldemort guy, but he’s just another terrorist who’s dead to me since I wasn’t around here during that time. I’m glad he’s gone, because a guy that targets infants is really not right in the head.”
“But it was said that nothing magical could defeat him—not even Dumbledore.”
“I do recognize they have stricter gun laws here—I’m not complaining about it—but no one thought to shoot him, snipe him, use some explosives…nothing? Even if this guy is supposedly invincible, I’m pretty sure his minions weren’t to head shots.”
“Only a magical being, a wizard, or a witch can defeat another,” Harry ignorantly spoke the creed of most magicals in this nation.
Sherry only sighed. “Harry, didn’t I just put a beat down on the guy who’s probably still lying in that alley before I stunned him? Magic only disables electronics, while a gun is mechanical and easily concealed. That type of thinking is exactly what wound up getting many unprepared magicals shot by mundanes and magicals who actually carried them alike—as long as they are human, and not under a protective spell, bullets hurt.”
Pinching the bridge of her nose, she asked the next question. “Alright, moving on, what level of education does the average magical family receive?”
“We learn about most basic things, such as how to instruct the house elves, using brooms, the normality of magic, politics, and in general how things work around here. Once we enter school, we learn about spells, theories, and such.”
“Does politics on include the magical side, or mundane as well? What about things like advanced writing, mathematics like trigonometry, chemistry, biology…” She stopped the moment he looked confused. “Okay, new subject. I believe you call those who are born without magical talents due to a birth defect Squibs…what jobs do they normally have in Magical Britain?”
“Umm…” Harry scratched his head. “They normally don’t. Well, they can’t use magic so on average, families would disown or give them enough British currency to live in the mug—I mean mundane side. The British Ministry of Magic doesn’t keep their birth records. I heard mother mention a support group for them though.”
Sherry undid her ponytail by removing the scrunchie and ran her finger through her hair. “And they don’t contact them afterwards, maintain a relationship…anything?”
“Well, most parents say that a squib can’t use magic, so it’s more merciful that they be sent to live in the mundane world with no communication after a certain point.”
No wonder their wizarding population is dying here. Sherry rubbed her forehead. They’re so closed off and behind in the times that they’ve grown stagnant in some parts. When I asked some of these questions at the ministry they dodged them like hell for the most.
“Let’s take a break for now…” Rising out of her chair and reaching into her purse, she pulled out a shrunken, square, red bag. Once she unzipped it, it revealed several cans on ice. “Do you want something to drink? I have fruit punch, coke, sprite, and root beer.”
“What’s a fruit punch?”
“Try it and see,” she told him, before popping the tab and handing it to him.
He took one sip from the can and nodded his head. “It’s good. Where—”
Just then, an albino, bat flew in, and then around the room, before landing on an upside down ‘L’ pole. It had a sort of collar around its neck that had a pouch. It spanned half the length of the bat itself, which was nearly as long as the woman’s hand.
Harry nearly fell out of his chair. “Merlin’s Hat! Where did that come from!?”
“Relax Harry,” Sherry chuckled. “He’s a fruit bat. A bit like the owls you use here, but more unique.”
Calming down, he looked at the bat, which was eyeing him upside down in curiosity as well. It gave a quick flap of its wings, and then dropped to take ephemeral flight over to the surface of the desk. Crawling, it looked up at him, wrinkled its nose, and gave him a quick squeak.
“You’re scaring him, Albert,” she handed the bat a small pineapple slice from her bag. It promptly took the fruit slice, and the life consultant placed it in a cage with dark drapes that she closed. “Sorry about that Harry. How about we get back to the questions?”
The talk continued with questions dealing with the relationship between magical creatures and non-humans, banking, the few schools for British students, and other subjects. When over an hour passed, Sherry called it quits. She removed her glasses and set them on the book stack.
“Okay Harry, I’ve asked enough to get a general idea of how things work over here, but to be safe I’ll cross-reference other sources and books. Is there anything you want to ask me?”
“Can you tell me why you needed to know them?” The questions seemed almost basic, but she was surprisingly…disappointed from a glance.
“I told you I was a life consultant, and I came in order reach out and help young wizards and witches with their choices in life as part of an outreach program. To do that, I need to integrate myself with the British side of things, which is easier when I can accurately compare them to my own upbringing and culture…I didn’t expect such a culture shock.”
Harry blinked in thought before asking, “Are they really that different?”
“Yes…they are.” She sighed. “Harry, don’t take this the wrong way, but this place is falling apart when you look at it from an outside perspective. Maybe it was self-serving, but I came to see if I could help the young and undecided plan their goals, so that they can shape their own futures and that of this country. It’s far worse than I originally thought.”
Harry was offended to be honest. As a half-blooded wizard raised here, he felt some pride in his heritage and culture. He tried to maintain a passive face…
Sherry noticed anyway. “I’m sorry, but you wanted the truth, and the truth is not always pleasant. My nation boasts of some of the highest crime rates in the world—both mundane and magical—I’ll admit, but forget where we came from. Try looking at it with an unbiased view before you go off the handle.”
Harry thought about. She hadn’t judged him for being the brother of someone famous, and gave him her full attention. He should at least hear her out. “Can you tell me some of the differences though?”
“Let’s start with Squibs then.” Sherry leaned back in her chair and stretched her arms. “Your ministry doesn’t even keep records of them, despite them merely missing the active magical gene, yet more research has shown that the trait can be passed on even if they skip a generation or more. They can serve in integrating the mundane side of Britain with the magical side and keeping up with advancements. They could be professors of mundane studies, liaisons, or other positions, since they are essentially more familiar with the world than the average witch or wizard raised on this side—and they are passed over for not being able to use a simple spell and replaced by people without the proper knowledge.”
She held up a book on non-magical history used for the Muggle Studies courses and then one called Moronic Muggles. “This history book is outdated by roughly 55 years at least when I compared it to a secondary school level history book from Barnes and Nobles, and I was told by the shop owner it was a mandatory in most magic schools. The other is blatantly insulting and considers mundanes to be lower class and less intelligent, despite the fact that they outnumber them, and have made far more advances than listed here. The mundane-borns easily outweigh the number of pure-blooded, and are next to half-blooded magicals in totals.”
Shaking her head, she continued. “I met a man named Arthur Weasley when I was at his department by chance, and he told me the requirements for a job in the relations department was only an O.W.L.”
Harry spoke up. “He’s a distant relative, since our families are connected by our ties with the Black family.”
“He’s a very sweet man, although I will admit he’s a bit excitable. However, he didn’t know some of the things he was dealing, or what they were for, until I pointed them out. Then he told me that the very people who deal with mundane relations or liaisons didn’t even know when he asked them. I can see old families not knowing, but these are things you would expect from people in those positions…they are severely behind in some things—which brings me to my next point.”
She picked out a book that read Advanced Chemistry on it. “Next is the educational level. Your mother was born to two non-magicals, and started her schooling at…Hogwarts, you said? So she skipped anything beyond an elementary school level, possibly meaning that outside magic she knows very little about the mundane education in things like human biology, trigonometry and calculus, chemistry, or current technology, especially considering she no longer lives on the mundane side. While magic is great and all, by failing to keep up with the times and education, you’ll be completely ignorant of new developments that could be beneficial to both sides.”
“Trigonometry and calculus are essential for jobs like engineering and architecture, since you have to deal with advanced mathematics. Biology works to help you understand living things better, and technology advances rapidly enough that not keeping up can cost you. The world is changing Harry and being dragged to the future. If you don’t adapt for the ride then you’ll be crushed beneath its foot.”
Okay, she seems to have thought this through. Harry thought. All three were fairly decent reasons. She wasn’t being insulting, merely pointing out the truth in her opinion. “I get it now.”
“Harry, I’m not saying that there aren’t some things that are better through magic—I mean there are some things that magicals can do that make the laws of physics cry themselves to sleep like pansies—and these are my opinions alone. Just the same, form your own opinions after learning all the facts.”
She handed him three books. “Here’s a mundane middle-schooler’s history book, the magical world’s version on mundane history, and a book on how airplanes work. Compare them if you want to see for yourself.”
“I’ll do the first two in my free time…” Harry picked up the books. “But what’s the last one for?”
“Mr. Weasley said his greatest wish was to know how planes flew,” she put on her glasses again. “I’m repaying him for the earlier information, and going to his workplace solely to hand it to him could cause problems, consider how much grounding rumors can have here.”
Harry acknowledged the possibility. “I’ll make sure he gets it and tell him it was from you.”
“Well, I won’t keep you from your home any longer,” she gave him a warm smile. “You really were a big help. Feel free to drop by if you ever need a life consultant or just someone to talk to.”
Harry gave her a nod. “I think I will…”
Back at home, Harry entered silently and took the books into his room. Sherry’s points lingered in the back of his mind. Were the mundane and magical sides really so separated that things that seemed common knowledge escaped even the people who were supposed to be experts in it?
In a flash of inspiration, Harry did something he never thought he would on his own, given how cold things were between him and his family: Talk to his mother.
“Mom,” he called to her while she was in the kitchen. Her wand was being used to transfigure an object to have a more desired appearance.
“Oh, Harry,” she put down her wand. “I thought you were still sleeping.”
Harry arched an eyebrow. “I’ve been gone for the last two hours.”
She merely giggled in misplaced amusement. “Well, you’re normally so quiet I didn’t notice.”
That’s because I’m usually not here. Harry thought. Note to self: Never try to get their concern by running away. It won’t work.
“So, what did you want?” Lily asked.
Harry asked her about several things dealing with her time in the mundane world. He learned she had a sister that she never really talked to anymore, and how distant she had become with her heritage. She was content with her life as a magical though.
“What bought this up?” Lily asked at the end of their session.
Harry merely nodded. “Nothing, just curious. Thanks for your time.”
“No problem sweetie.” With that, they parted.
Once in his room, he sat down and picked up the book on mundane history and started taking notes to compare the magical one later on…if he didn’t fall asleep first. After only the first chapter, he found out that history was boring.
Months passed, and it was nearing the holiday season.
“Hey Harry,” Sherry told him. “I was finishing up early today. Right now most people are busy shopping for Christmas, so there isn’t much need for a life consultant.”
“Oh…” He muttered in a depressed tone. He wanted to ask her more about a topic he found interesting.
“I was planning on catching a movie later. The theater isn’t that far from here,” she smiled. “I live not too far from there either. Do you wanna catch a quick flick with me?”
He heard her praising a film before but never had seen a mundane one. “Yes.”
“Okay, but you’ll need the permission of an adult to go. It’s one thing for you to visit my office so much, but leaving in private with me on your own won’t look good for either of us. I’d rather not get labeled a predator.”
That would be a problem. He didn’t want his parents to know, and Sirius or Remus would feel obligated to tell them. It’d be easier if he knew someone who already met her…already?
Harry snapped his fingers and went to make contact with Arthur Weasley. He must have been dying to meet with her again since he gave him that book. Minutes later the elder Weasley appeared and they left the alley for London, entering a brightly lit movie theater.
Sherry exchanged some money for tickets, which caught the older wizard’s attention.”So that’s how you exchange muggle money?”
“Yeah,” Sherry nodded. “Although where I come from we use dollars. I’m sure Harry can name a few others.”
The boy tilted his glasses. “Euros for the rest of Europe, Yen for Japan, and Pesos for Mexico.”
“Right in one Harry,” she ruffled his hair playfully. “I see you been reading that geography book I lent you.”
“I see, I see…” Arthur looked around at the various posters on display for the movies. “So, what are we watching?”
Sherry shrugged. “Romantics aren’t my thing. You two want to catch an action movie?”
They both nodded, and the trio caught a quick flick. Several hours later, they emerged with a satisfied look on their faces.
“Now that was entertaining!” Arthur said with glee as they walked out the theater. “I mean, the drinks, popcorn, the delectable candies, the explosions, and everything—and you tell me they did that without using a blasting charm or curse? Can you imagine what it would be like if we could add to the effects with spells, oh how I wished I had gone to the Wizarding Academy for the Dramatic Arts…”
Arthur’s demeanor turned somber. “But the Stature of Secrecy won’t allow for that.”
Sherry sighed in agreement, before looking at her watch. “Okay, since we’ve still got a few hours before the sun sets. Is there somewhere you guys want to go?”
Harry rubbed his chin. “What about a bookstore?”
“The nearest one is some distance away in a mall, but if we use a bedazzling hex and then apparate, we could get there without being spotted by the number of people.”
With a wave of her wand, a feeling of air forming a blanket and draping them made Harry feel sheltered. That feeling promptly disappeared and was replaced by the uncomfortable feeling of side-along apparition. He didn’t think he’d ever get use to it.
After reversing the hex in the back of the building, they journeyed into the huge building filled with lights, people, and stores, brimming with life thanks to the holidays. Holding onto Harry’s hand, she guided him to a Barnes & Noble’s branch.
“It’s like Diagon Alley, but inside a building…” Harry noted as they walked into the bookstore.
Arthur looked around at the countless books. “Do they have anything on cars?”
Sherry nodded. “They have books here for that. Just ask an employee.”
“Oh goodie!” The excitable man took off.
Harry himself settled on a book on Bat Biology after getting used to Albert. The albino fruit bat was cool once you got past the original appearance and surprise. Smart too.
After picking up a book each, Sherry paid for them—with both men promising to pay her back later—and they ventured to explore the mall once more. There, they learned the various types of foods offered by the Food Court, and settled down to glance over their new books with zeal.
On the way out, they noticed loud sounds and flashing lights coming from a room with glass doors and windows that allowed them to peek in. There were mostly children there, playing and laughing—some looked shifty though. Sherry tapped her finger against her chin when she noticed the prepubescent wizard enraptured by the appeal.
“Harry, you’ve never been to an arcade before, have you?” He shook his head. She gave him some money and told him to go ask the nice arcade employee how to exchange it for tokens and play one of the games.
As soon as he was inside, she turned her gaze to Arthur. “Mr. Weasley, can you tell me how much Harry has been neglected?”
His look turned a bit upset. “Neglected?”
“It had been bugging me since I met him,” she scratched her head. “Harry met me late one night in an alley, while I was being mugged at wandpoint.”
That changed his look to one of surprise. “He was out at night alone? You were mugged?”
“At nearly 10 PM, without an adult, or any way of defending himself,” Sherry confirmed. “Imagine my surprise when I put the guy down and turned to find an 8 year old staring at me from behind a corner. I escorted him home after giving him my card, and the next day he came to my office without an escort again and told me it was common. I’d expect that from maybe a latch-key kid from my old neighborhood.”
Arthur pouted a bit at that. They had a long discussion with each other, and how she knew Harry was purposely keeping his parents from knowing about her. While Arthur mentioned it was a bit more common for parents to pay more attention to grooming the head of a house over time, it was unnerving the extent to which Harry had started becoming separate from his family and how they didn’t seem to notice.
“Right, I have a chat with his parents on the subject.” Arthur nodded as they finished and looked at Harry looking cheerful as some of the kids were teaching him how to play the game.
They spent another few hours exploring the mall and taking in the sights. Their joy only ended when Arthur asked a simple question. “Will you be willing to visit my home for our annual Christmas dinner? A friend of Harry’s would be more than welcomed, and it would be perfect to repay you for your kindness.”
“Sorry,” she declined. “I’ll be heading back to the States for Christmas and New Years to spend some time with my friends, and family.”
“Oh well…” Arthur sighed, before turning his attention back to his book and chuckling. “Molly would probably loathe meeting the woman who just introduced me to a new source of endless and time consuming mirth.”
Sherry herself remembered him mentioning that name before and recalled the topic. “Didn’t you say you only had a few hours before you wife was expecting when we left the movie? We’ve been gone for five hours now.”
The man paled. “Alright, we’d better get going, Harry. Molly’s going to kill me for being late.”
“Bye Sherry,” Harry said sadly, hugging the woman.
She patted him on the head softly. “See you later, Harry.”
The pair apparated back, while Sherry left for her apartment.
In front of the Potter Residence, Harry looked to Arthur with a pleading expression. “Mister Weasley, can we keep everything that happened today between us? I don’t want my parents to know about her.”
Arthur shook his head. “In all good consciousness, that would seem…negligent.”
“They won’t care.” Harry countered. “I’ve disappeared for hours on end, and they rarely notice. They’re negligent already toward me. The irony is looking delightful here.”
So she was right…Arthur thought, before telling him, “They have a right to know.”
“I disagree sincerely,” Harry politely shot back. “Gene is who they are concerned for and, after so long being neglected, I don’t believe they deserve to know anything about my private life in the least bit. I want my life separated from theirs as much as possible.”
Arthur’s eyebrows arched. “It can’t be have been that bad Harry…could it?”
Harry gave him a flat look. “Today has been the best day of my life. Better than my birthday or Christmas with them. I got to play with kids who don’t try to kiss up to me because of my brother—do you know how many of those I had to deal with to the point of threats? I ate food from around the world, I got to watch a movie and, best of all, I got attention from two people who actually cared about me without having to practically scream for them to notice me.
“The thought of them knowing about her and somehow, someway making things worse is enough to keep me up at night sometimes.” Harry shook his head. “I won’t have it.”
Arthur sighed. “Alright Harry, I’ll say you were with me alone if it comes up. Molly will buy that I got caught up in exploring London and dragged you along. But I’m not comfortable with it, and come Christmas I will be speaking to your parents on the subject of your wanderings without mentioning names.”
“Thank you,” Harry said, knowing it won’t change a thing, before opening the door to his home. “See you on Christmas.”
“See you then Harry.” The elder wizard said before leaving with a minor pop.
Harry smiled contently and made his way up to his room to read his new book. Today was possibly one of the best days he ever had. How his mother never mentioned what a mall or arcade was and how fun they could be only made him appalled by the lack of knowledge beforehand.
While the history ones were still boring, he found them somewhat interesting as time passed. He slowly became more studious, more knowledgeable about the mundane side of things. The times were changing, so should he.
Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated:
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Summary: What if Akihiko Kayaba had created the Death Game of Alfheim Online rather than the floating castle of Aincrad—a world in which the nine player races are explicitly in competition to escape the game, and player killing was
not a crime but rather a predictable by-product of human nature and tribalism in the face of mutually exclusive goals? AU reboot of the SAO universe.
Personal Fanfic Update
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Fairy Dance of Death: Chapter 9
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Summary: What if Akihiko Kayaba had created the Death Game of Alfheim Online rather than the floating castle of Aincrad—a world in which the nine player races are explicitly in competition to escape the game, and player killing was
not a crime but rather a predictable by-product of human nature and tribalism in the face of mutually exclusive goals? AU reboot of the SAO universe.
Personal Fanfic Update
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Summary: Harry Potter may be the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived and his parents may still be alive, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect. While he may not want anything to do with the upcoming war between Light and Dark, he’ll
end up walking between them. An AU fanfic involving Harry Potter as a Ravenclaw.
I’ve started a new harry potter fanfic called the Path of Indifference for all those interested.
Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics