Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 10: Samhain Part II
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership nor do I make any profit.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to my beta Umar for his work on this story. Additionally, a massive thank you is extended to Fezzik. She became a beta for me at a later date and has graciously agreed to assist me in revising these early chapters.
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October 31, 1991
The Second Floor
“P-Professor?” Harry asked, a rare break in his composure showing through his equally rare stutter. Professor Hurst did not speak for several seconds. She simply looked at Harry with the most calculating stare he had ever had levelled upon him.
“Harry,” the professor said, using his first name again, “are you injured?”
“N-no,” he answered, doing his best to shove the image of the flash of green light out of his mind. He only partially succeeded, but it was a high enough degree of success to allow him to speak and think with at least a margin of coherence. “No, I’m okay. It didn’t get me.” He hesitated. “It’s dead, isn’t it?”
His professor watched his face very carefully as she answered. “Yes, Harry. It is dead.”
“Was that… Professor … was that-“
“The Killing Curse, yes. To use that curse on another human being would land me a life sentence in Azkaban. To use it on a creature such as a troll would not, though I would likely have to go through a hearing.” She looked even more intently at Harry. “It should go without saying that I would be… extremely grateful if you did not speak on the method in which the troll was killed.”
“Of course not, Professor.”
Briefly, Harry thought she looked surprised, but she recovered quickly. “Very good. I admit, I was rather… worried as to how you might react.”
Harry met her eyes. “There is no such thing as light and dark or good and evil. Only power, and the intent with which it is wielded.”
A small, thin smile crossed his professor’s lips. “I am glad we are in agreement,” she said softly, flicking her wand towards the troll and causing a rather large lump to rise on its head. He looked confused. “The Killing Curse leaves no trace, Harry.”
He nodded in understanding just as footsteps quickly approached. A second later, several figures stepped around the corner. In the lead was Dumbledore, his lurid orange robes seeming to flow around him as he held his wand at the ready. Behind him were McGonagall, Flitwick and Snape. They all froze for some long, agonizing moments before finally, Dumbledore gained his composure.
“Amelia, what has happened?”
“A most unfortunate incident, Headmaster. I was aware that Master Potter was not at the feast tonight, so I decided to go looking for him when the troll’s presence was made public.” She shot a quick glance in Harry’s direction. “By the time I arrived, there was very little for me to do. It appears that Master Potter knocked the troll out with its own club.” She turned to Harry. “A levitation charm, I imagine?”
“Y-yes,” he answered, not having to fake even a little bit of his stutter. He had expected many things, but that was not one of them.
“He… what?” McGonagall asked, wide-eyed with a hand over her heart.
Snape stepped forward and ran his wand over the troll’s head. “There does seem to be damage to the troll’s brain.” he conceded with obvious reluctance. He looked up at Dumbledore. “It is dead, Headmaster.”
Flitwick let out a squeal of surprise, but Dumbledore merely nodded. “Thank you, Severus.” He looked towards Harry. “I do hate to ask this of you, Harry, but why were you not present at the feast this evening?”
“I dislike the idea of celebrating anything tonight, Professor. This day holds a different meaning for me.” Understanding flashed in the Headmaster’s eyes and he nodded sorrowfully.
“Very well. I apologize for prying and not seeing the obvious for myself, but I had to be quite certain you did not go looking for the troll yourself.”
For the briefest of moments, Harry thought he saw something in Dumbledore’s eyes, but it made no sense.
He peered bewilderedly up at the vibrantly dressed man in front of him. “With all due respect, sir, I would never do something that foolish.”
Again, something flashed in the Headmaster’s eyes, though it was there for so short a time Harry hardly noticed it at all.
“A most reasonable way to live your life, Harry,” Dumbledore told him. Before he could go on, his eyes widened. Quickly, he turned to McGonagall. “Minerva, assure that the students return to their common rooms at once. Curfew is to be in full effect with the exceptions of those leaving the castle tonight. I must be off.” When he turned, his robes seemed to swirl around him once more as he made his exit.
McGonagall blinked, confused, but Flitwick was speaking. “Well, I must say, Master Potter, I am relieved you’re all right. Ten points to Slytherin for rather outstanding wand work.”
Harry saw Snape’s eyes flash.
“Another ten,” said McGonagall, “for composure and bravery in an intense situation. However, Master Potter, please do be much more careful in the future. Filius, Severus, if you could accompany me to the hall.” She looked at Professor Hurst. “Amelia, could you please ensure that Master Potter reaches his common room safely?”
“Of course, Deputy Headmistress.” Professor Hurst answered, beckoning for Harry to follow her as they made off in the opposite direction from the teachers.
“We’re not using the staircase?”
Professor Hurst quirked an eyebrow. “You students seem to carry the false delusion that you and you alone know of the secrets of Hogwarts Castle.” She smirked. “Such delusions are particularly amusing when you consider the fact that logically, we teachers have all spent more time in the Castle than any of you have.”
They approached a standard suit of armour leaning up against the wall, but Hurst’s attention was fixated upon it. “Concede,” she ordered, causing the suit of armour to bow its head and step aside, revealing a concealed staircase leading down.
“Does this lead to the first floor?”
“There are two options of exit,” she informed him as they descended the stairs. “The portrait of the valley on the first floor will swing aside to admit you access if you tap it with your wand, but otherwise, it will lead you very near to the Potions classroom.”
“I certainly thought so.”
Neither spoke again until they were in the dungeons. Harry had an idea prodding at the back of his brain, but his years of being conditioned not to ask questions had taken their toll, so he did not dare-
“Curiosity is not a sin, Harry,” Professor Hurst said, almost offhandedly.
Harry’s eyes widened. “How did you-“
“You are admirably adept at controlling and masking your emotions, but not perfect.” She studied him. “Some ingrained habits, are harder to hide than simple emotions.”
He hesitated, looking between Hurst and the floor.
Part of Harry was screaming not to ask the question. It was against everything he had been conditioned to do and was technically against the rules. The other part of him quite reasonably pointed out that she seemed to want him to ask, and that after using a Killing Curse in the middle of a school, she was hardly one to claim the moral high ground.
Resigned, Harry decided to take the plunge. “I was wondering, Professor, if you could teach me to duel. Outside of lessons, I mean.”
Professor Hurst didn’t even break stride as they continued to walk. “I don’t think you wish to learn how to duel, Harry.”
“I believe you would like to know how to fight. There is a distinct and important difference between the two.” She seemed to watch him for a reaction once more. “Duelling has rules, fighting does not.”
He hesitated, fighting down his impulse to bite his tongue for the second time. “Yes, Professor, the latter sounds more useful.”
She did not answer at first, and her face gave nothing away. As they neared the common room, Harry thought she wasn’t going to answer at all, but as they drew even nearer, she proved him wrong.
“Friday — seven o’clock.” She paused. “I would use my office, but I suspect we may wish for more space.”
“I know of a place, Professor,” Harry said, explaining about the room in the depths of the Hogwarts dungeons.
“That seems… adequate. I have seen the corridor you speak of, though I never knew of a room beyond it. There are several shortcuts. The easiest, at present, would be the suit of armour nearest the bottom of the stairs leading into the dungeons.” She smiled again. “It is rather fond of a particular Hogwarts Founder.”
She turned on her heel and left, leaving Harry in front of the blank wall that was the entrance to the Slytherin common room. He shook his head, hardly able to believe what had all just happened.
Some time later, in Professor Snape’s office…
Harry had drawn a fair bit of attention when he’d strolled as nonchalantly into the common room as he could manage. Nobody said anything to him, but many of the upper years were shooting him curious glances. He did have to deal with a long round of questioning from Daphne and Tracey. Harry was pretty confident that he had convinced Tracey that he hadn’t run into the troll at all. However, he was pretty certain that Daphne saw through his deflections, though he was not sure if she had pieced the bit about the troll together.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell them, per se. He was worried that if he did, Daphne, who had already shown a protective side to her character, would be hesitant to let him off on his own anywhere without following him. He didn’t want to have to sneak away from his best friends. There was also the matter of Professor Hurst’s involvement. He could only imagine how that conversation would go.
‘How did you escape from the troll?’
‘Ah, nothing too out of the ordinary. Our defence professor just showed up and blasted it with the Killing Curse.’
He almost smiled at the thought, just barely managing to keep from doing just that.
When 7:45 arrived, Harry was the first in Snape’s office, ready to use his floo to depart for Weitts Manor.
“Potter,” Snape greeted him coolly, not bothering to look up from his stack of what appeared to be essays.
“Good evening, sir.”
“You have until noon tomorrow to return to the castle. Most will be spending the night at their homes. If you must return to the Castle tonight, do not dare do so after midnight.”
Harry made to throw some floo powder into the fire, rather nervous about travelling this way for the first time.
Snape’s voice cut him off and made him pause. “Sir?”
“If you ever do something as idiotic as taking on a full-grown mountain troll again when you could have simply retreated, I promise you, the outcome will not be as… favourable, as it was on this occasion. Do I make myself clear?”
Translation, Snape was going to watch Harry like a hawk and if he made a mistake, he was in for hell.
“You have proven yourself a competent member of my house. See that I do not have to come up with a new distinction between yourself and your idiotic twin.”
In a way, Harry was fairly certain that Snape had just paid him the most backhanded compliment one could ever imagine.
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
Snape waved for him to go, and Harry, taking a deep breath, threw his floo powder into the fire, causing a wall of green flames to roar into existence. He found the idea of stepping into an open flame rather off-putting, even if he knew the magic would prevent physical harm. Sure of that fact as he was, he had to close his eyes and take deep, calming breaths before he stepped forward and declared in a loud, clear voice as Daphne had told him to do, “Weitts Manor.”
Harry could honestly say that he had not expected to enjoy floo travel. As he spun like a cork through time and space, watching fireplaces blur past him faster than his eyes and brain could perceive once he had chosen to open his eyes at all, he realized that he had been one-hundred percent correct in his assumption. He did not quite feel nauseous, but it was not far off.
Luckily, the spinning stopped as abruptly as it had begun. Harry felt his feet slam into the ground hard. Only due to years of necessary fast reaction training did Harry manage to stumble forward, turning the momentum into a few confident steps before he looked around.
It appeared as though he was the first guest to arrive, assuming, of course, that the others hadn’t already been led from the entrance hall.
Leave it up to a bunch of rich, self-entitled purebloods to show up fashionably late.
Speaking of which, the hall was absolutely glorious. It was rather modern, done in beautiful white tiles. At the same time, the high columned ceiling was distinctly old fashioned, but Harry liked the way the white tiles blended with the marble. Off to the side of him, there was a marble staircase that led up to what he presumed were the manor’s higher levels. In the centre of the marble floor was an emblem — a crest, Harry assumed, likely for the Weitts family itself.
The majority of the crest was taken up by an impossibly large, rather majestic, Celtic looking tree. Its roots were tangled but stretched high and seemed to be set with a deep black stone. Beyond the central tangle, the roots spread out to either side of what appeared to be a river with a bridge crossing over the top of it. Across the bridge, something, a family motto, Harry assumed, was written in a language he could not distinguish.
φαρμακεία υπάρχω ισχύς
Before he could ponder on the crest, a strong yet smooth voice cleared its throat from a bit in front of him, and Harry’s eyes snapped to the figures of four people who were all watching him intently.
The man standing a bit in front was tall and slim. He had light brown hair, deep-green eyes and sharp, aristocratic features. The woman a bit behind him and to his left was… familiar. Harry’s eyes widened for the briefest of moments when he recognized her.
His eyes flickered to the right where two girls stood, one quite a bit taller than the other. The taller one was Grace, as he had expected, but the shorter one — she was the girl whom he had met in the alley and spotted on the platform — Charlotte.
“Greetings, Heir Potter,” said the man, stepping forward and bowing before extending his hand. The Weitts family may have actually had more clout than the Potters at the moment, but they still lacked the Ancient and Most Noble title, so the bow was still necessary on Regent Weitts’s part. “Sigmund Weitts, Regent of the House of Weitts. It’s a pleasure to have you in my home.”
“Well met, Regent Weitts,” Harry recited easily. “Your grace and hospitality are acknowledged and appreciated. I thank you for the privilege of attending such an event.” Those words were pretty much copied and pasted from his book on etiquette, but if the Weitts Regent noticed, he showed no indication of it.
“The hospitality is my pleasure, Heir Potter.” He gestured for the three females to step forward. “Allow me to introduce my beautiful wife, Adriana.” The tall, platinum blonde woman whom Harry had met in Knockturn alley bowed her head and graced him with a smile. “You already know my eldest, Grace, of course.” Grace nodded to Harry, who nodded back. “And of course, there is my youngest, Charlotte.” Charlotte curtsied easily, smiling brightly at Harry. He could tell it wasn’t completely sincere, but it was done very well.
“A pleasure to meet you, Lady Weitts, Miss Weitts. Heiress Weitts, a pleasure as always.”
Grace’s lips twitched before she nodded as Harry went through the necessary, formal customs.
The floo was firing again, and a group of unfamiliar wizards were stepping through. “I must admit, Heir Potter, you have piqued much of the magical world’s curiosity. I must learn more about you before the night is over. But for now, I need to greet our guests. Charlotte, dear, could you show Heir Potter to the ballroom, please? Get him a seat at our table, as well, if you would.”
“Of course, Father,” Charlotte said easily, shooting Harry yet another dazzling smile as she stepped up to him. He only just realized in time that he was supposed to offer his arm. He did so in time, and she slipped hers through his. If she noticed how tense he had become for a fair few seconds, she chose not to comment as she led him through a side door off of the entrance hall and into a long, well-lit hallway.
“You remember me,” was the first thing she said once they were in the relative privacy of the hallway.
It was not a question.
Harry’s lips twitched. “You did manage to leave quite the first impression.” He smirked. “Apparently, I did too, since you also remember me.”
“I suppose you did,” she admitted, sounding unconcerned. “You seem surprised. Tense even,” Harry realized he probably was still a bit tense as they came to a large set of doors that clearly led to the ballroom.
It was best not to verbalize a reply to that last comment.
They stepped into the ballroom and Harry could have gasped at its majesty. It was the length of the Great Hall with large windows that looked out onto the lush green lawns. There were a number of long tables draped in varying colours of elegant tablecloths. Charlotte led him to the one nearest the open dance floor. Harry slid his arm out of hers, stepped around her and pulled out a chair.
She smiled at him. “You may be new, but at least you have manners. Or,” she said with a rather sweet looking smile, “maybe you’re just afraid of me. It would explain the tension, too.”
Harry had to suppress a snort as he took the seat opposite her. “So would my explanation.”
She didn’t seem to buy it. “Tense when we were alone in a hallway? It would explain it if we were in the ballroom.” She was grinning now.
Harry rolled his eyes. “With all due respect, Scion Weitts-“
“Charlotte.” she corrected sharply, taking Harry by surprise. She shrugged. “I don’t like the title of scion and you’re friends with Daphne. She’s like a sister to me.”
That was new information.
He was hardly going to argue over something so trivial. “Harry then.” She nodded and he went on. “No offence, but I have no reason to fear a ten-year-old who can’t do magic.”
There was an odd glint in the girl’s eyes as she met his. Slowly, deliberately, she slid a thin, dark wand not at all unlike his own from her sleeve, causing his eyes to widen. “What?” she asked him. “Did you think I was in Hephestus’s shop to just look around?”
She had a point.
“Touché,” he said, watching her wand carefully. It made him very uncomfortable that she had hers out and he did not have his. He knew she wouldn’t curse him, but he hated feeling vulnerable perhaps more than anything else. “It still doesn’t change the fact you can’t use magic though.”
She smiled that same, sweet smile before swishing her wand towards his napkin and silverware.
“Wingardium Leviosa,” she incanted lazily, and the napkin and silverware lifted slowly off of the table, stopping to hover right at his eye level. Harry’s eyes widened despite himself, but he absolutely refused to gape.
Charlotte held the spell for several seconds before gently floating the napkin back onto the table and sliding her wand back up her sleeve. She held up her hands, palms towards him. “Look at that,” she commented with that same, sweet smile, “no letter.”
“But… the Trace?”
“Is completely and utterly useless for anybody who is not a muggleborn,” she cut across him. Charlotte laughed softly. “Have you not figured it out yet, Harry? Daphne called you a genius.”
He met her eyes, trying to look for any giveaways.
They both have custom wands. Maybe they didn’t have-
“Nope,” Charlotte told him cheerfully, an almost predatory smile forming on her face when Harry’s eyes widened more than ever before.
‘How did she-‘
“Oh, come on, Harry. I know you can do it too. You did it to me at the wand shop. Surely you’ve figured at least that part out.”
“Get. Out. Of. My. Head!”
She just quirked a perfect eyebrow.
His eyes flashed as he let go of the restraint he usually held on their shine. Charlotte almost shivered. She had seen something in the summer, but they hadn’t glowed like this.
He focused on pushing his magic past her eyes, at looking into her thoughts. For a split second, he got a flash of… something. It was so fast that he did not even have time to perceive. Then, a second later, he blinked. He was back in the physical world so suddenly it had been jarring. The odd, sudden reorientation left him with a vague headache.
So it did work on magicals then. That clearly wasn’t the problem.
This time, it was Charlotte’s turn to widen her eyes in surprise. “You actually don’t understand at all, do you?”
“Understand what?” he hissed.
She raised her hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. I didn’t mean to upset you I just… I had to test you; I was too curious not to, and I thought you could do it too. I thought it was a fair contest.” She studied him. “If it makes you feel any better, it has nothing to do with magicals. Here,” she said, meeting his eyes once more, “try again. I won’t stop you this time, as long as you just glimpse my surface thoughts.”
Harry hadn’t even known doing more than that was possible.
Hesitantly, Harry tried again, trying once more to force his magic passed her eyes. This time, he felt no resistance, and it was as if he was glimpsing the thoughts of muggles once more.
“I can get a wand?” Charlotte breathed, seeming to be surprised.
Harry seemed to be in a room, watching Adriana Weitts through Charlotte’s eyes.
“Of course,” she responded with a soft smile for her daughter. “I would hardly send you off to Hogwarts without being prepared, would I? It would go against everything I have taught you all these years.”
“But… the Trace?”
“The Ministry cannot track a person’s magic, Charlotte. Such a thing is impossible. The Trace is applied to a location, not a person. The Ministry can tell where magic is being performed. The reason the Trace applies to muggle homes is that the Ministry can pretty easily assume who cast it. Somewhere like Hogwarts, they couldn’t track it even if they wanted to. There is so much magic to track, and they would have no idea who cast it. The same goes for many Manors, though the wards on this one make the Trace useless as a whole. Even if it didn’t, they would only know magic was being cast here, not by whom. How do you think your sister uses magic?”
Charlotte frowned. “I thought you just got her an exception for her grades or something?”
Adriana smiled exasperatedly down at her youngest daughter. “The Ministry works under the assumption that the parents of magical children will monitor their use of magic.” She smiled. “Personally, I would rather my children be the best sorceresses they can be.”
Again, Harry was forced from her mind, but this time, he was ready for the odd, jarring feeling. time?”
“So,” Harry mused aloud, “some people have a defence against… it?”
Charlotte studied him cautiously. “It’s… a lot more complicated than that, but yes, there is a defence against it. Most people have to learn it. Some rare people have a sort of natural defence, but when I say that it’s rare — I mean rare.”
“Does the defence or offence have a name?”
“They do, but it won’t do you any good. You won’t find any books on the subject. They’re not exactly legal.”
“You sound… unsure. Something is either legal or it isn’t.”
“Legal to own, but not legal to read.”
Harry blinked. “That’s… completely pointless.”
Charlotte nodded. “Occlumency and Legilimency,” she said after a few moments.
“I’m taking it that Legilimency can also be developed naturally?”
“Yes,” Charlotte answered carefully. “That’s even rarer, but it’s possible.”
He couldn’t help but think how much of a disadvantage it was to not be raised with these things. The ability to read minds… that was troubling.
Suddenly, Daphne appeared behind Charlotte, resting her hands on the other girl’s shoulders. In an instant, Charlotte was on her feet, embracing Daphne and burying her head into her shoulder. “I’ve missed you.”
Daphne patted her affectionately on the back. “I’ve noticed,” she said amusedly, taking a seat beside Charlotte. “I would introduce you, but it seems as if you’ve already met.” Harry just nodded and Daphne appraised him. “You look tense.”
Harry shrugged. “So I do,” he admitted, not really wanting to go into detail about all that had just happened. He wondered absentmindedly whether Daphne knew anything about Occlumency or Legilimency.
“It’s just odd to see you anything other than the image of perfection.” There was a teasing smirk playing on her lips.
Harry wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to that. Praise was nice, even in the form of banter, but it wasn’t exactly something he was accustomed to. After a pause maybe just a fraction longer than appropriate, he decided an attempt at banter of his own may be the best course. “Why Daphne, I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
She scowled at him. “I’ll make sure it will stay that way if you don’t shut up,” she warned. Harry suppressed a smirk of his own and mimed spelling his lips shut. Charlotte’s lips twitched and Daphne rolled her eyes before Charlotte turned on her eagerly.
“How’s Hogwarts?” To Harry, it had seemed moments earlier that Charlotte was nearly double her age. Now, as she looked enviously upon Daphne and the curiosity shone in her eyes, Harry could appreciate that she was not yet eleven.
“I’m enjoying it,” Daphne said with a small smile. “The politics have gone a bit too far, but aside from that, I’ve had a good few months.”
“Tracey?” Charlotte asked, eliciting a nod from Daphne. Charlotte scowled. “Are you going to do something about Malfoy?”
Daphne smirked. “Oh, he’ll get his from me, but I have a feeling Harry will get to him first.”
Charlotte peered intently at Harry once more. “You should get on that.” He had to resist the urge to grin viciously back at her.
“I intend to.”
“Good,” was Charlotte’s simple response.
People were now beginning to file into the ballroom by the dozens. Harry glanced around, doing his best to keep tabs on everybody whom he knew, which were very few. Silently, he vowed to improve his knowledge of the names and figures of the magical world, mentally adding it to his ever-growing to-do list.
“How have you found the lessons?” Charlotte asked Daphne.
She shrugged. “They’ve been enjoyable for the most part, though History is as big of a joke as your Sister said it was.”
Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Are they difficult?”
“Not really, I have the advantage in Potions and Herbology, but I’ve done quite well in Charms, Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts as well.” She shot a sideways glance at Harry, one that seemed almost annoyed.
“I’m taking it you haven’t found them overly difficult?” Charlotte asked him.
“No,” Harry answered,
“You’ll have no trouble,” Daphne assured her oldest friend. “Your wand work will be better than mine, and Potions really isn’t that hard as long as you actually study the properties and not just go off of Snape’s instructions.”
Charlotte frowned. “Is he not a good teacher?”
“Not really,” Daphne admitted, causing Harry to look at her, asking a silent question with his eyes. “Oh, don’t be foolish, Harry. Just because he’s our Head of House doesn’t mean we all like him. Don’t get me wrong, watching him take the Lions down a peg is entertaining, but he hasn’t really taught us anything, has he?”
“I’ve learned more from you and textbooks than Snape,” Harry answered diplomatically.
“You seem to be staying very neutral,” Charlotte observed. Daphne looked rather amused by that. She had said the same thing on a number of occasions in the past whilst getting to know him.
He shrugged. “He dislikes me. Quite a bit, actually. I’m just trying not to sound biased.”
“At least he likes you more than he does your Brother.”
“I would hope so. I at least have the common sense not to insult his personal hygiene on a weekly basis.”
Charlotte’s composure slipped. “Your Brother does that?”
“Among other things, actually,” Harry said with a roll of his eyes. “He’s a Gryffindor through and through, and not in the best way by any means. He doesn’t think before he acts and he’s a bit… tactless.
Daphne sniffed. “That’s putting it mildly.”
Harry shrugged. “I really wish I could give him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s really not making it easy.”
Charlotte made to pounce, probably planning to ask a question about his brother, but she was cut off by the arrival of her parents and sister, as well as a few others at their table. There was a rather portly looking man with a lime-green bowler hat and a woman Harry suspected was his wife. Another woman who looked an awful lot like Daphne who was also accompanied by a tall, slim man and a smaller, brown-haired girl. Malfoy was there as well, flanked by a slim, beautiful woman that must have been his mother and a man who looked a lot like Draco, but who leaned on a serpentine cane that Harry thought likely hid a spare wand, or something similar.
The final three people came in directly behind the Malfoys. Like the Malfoys, the parents flanked their child, though in this case, it was a daughter. The man was of average height and had a lean build. He had dark, intense eyes, pale skin, sharp features, and straw-coloured hair. On his wrist shone a vibrant golden watch that was practically impossible to miss. The woman on the other side of the child was about the same height as Draco’s mother. She had sharp, aristocratic features, high cheekbones, dark, heavily lidded eyes, a strong jaw, and long, thick, shining black hair. The girl in the middle, their daughter, Harry assumed, looked like a miniature version of her mother, though she was paler, somewhere between her parents in terms of skin tone.
“Introductions are in order,” Sigmund Weitts declared as he took his place at the head of the table. “Heir Potter, allow me to introduce you to the Greengrasses; Cyrus, Celia and Astoria.” The Greengrasses were sitting just to Harry’s right, with Daphne’s mother on his direct right-hand side, across the table from her daughter. Harry was at the far-left side of the table, though Regent Weitts at the head was technically on his left. “The next family down from them are the Fudges,” Sigmund informed him. “Cornelius Fudge, the man in the lime robes is the Head of the Department of Magical Catastrophes. Next down from them, Lord Lucius Malfoy, Lady Narcissa Malfoy, and their son, Heir Draco Malfoy.”
Harry and Malfoy’s eyes locked for a second. Harry could see Malfoy fighting a smirk and just for a moment, he allowed his eyes to flash. Draco looked away suddenly.
“Last, but certainly not least, we have Barty Crouch Jr. Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, his wife, Lady Bellatrix Black; formerly Lestrange, and their daughter and heiress, Ares Black.”
Harry knew the name Lestrange. Two of the family members, Rudolphus and Rabastan were serving life sentences in Azkaban for the torture of the Longbottoms. He had known that Rudolphus’s ex-wife, Bellatrix, had remarried, though he supposed it made sense for her to still be associated with the name.
She was the Lady Lestrange, even though she wasn’t technically a Lestrange by blood. Harry had read that such things were dependent on family charters, the contents of which were hoarded secretively and never released to the public. The best guess he had read was that the Lestrange charter had an extinction clause of some kind. Extinction clauses allowed for unusual actions to be taken when a family was on the brink of extinction. All of the Lestranges were either dead or in Azkaban, so Bellatrix had been the only one left. It was likely that Ares could keep the family going if she sired a child with the Lestrange surname. If she didn’t, the family would probably become extinct.
Harry had never heard of a magical marriage where both parties kept their last names, but he supposed it made sense. Crouch could piggyback off of his father’s success in the ministry, seeing as the man had served as Minister for very near a decade. By keeping the Black name in spite of the marriage, as she was entitled by her place at the helm of the family, Bellatrix could utilize their seat on the Wizengamot, something she would not have been able to do if she switched her last name. It was smart all round.
Well, she probably could have anyway. All of the Blacks aside from her were either dead, married into other families, or in Azkaban. She would have served as Regent until her daughter came of age, but even then, Ares might have on day married into another family. Harry supposed she had wanted to take no chances, just in case her daughter didn’t manage to sire a child with the Black name.
Harry greeted those at his table formally and properly. Customs dictated he greet them in order of rank. Starting with any Lords of Founding Houses and then descending through the hierarchy before doing the same with the Ladies. When Harry first greeted Lord Greengrass, the head of a Founding Family, he could not help but notice the twitch of Draco’s eye. Clearly, being outranked by the Greengrass family didn’t sit well with him. He filed that useful bit of information away for later.
After everyone had greeted him formally in return, Daphne’s mother turned to Harry. “My daughter has written so much about you. It is nice to finally meet you in person.”
Harry smiled his well-practised smile. “She’s written good things, I hope?”
“Wonderful things,” Lady Greengrass affirmed with an approving nod. “She tells me you are rather prodigious with a wand?”
“It Depends how you define prodigious, I guess,” Harry answered neutrally, well aware that at least the Weitts family was listening in to their conversation. False modesty was unbecoming, especially for a Slytherin, but he didn’t suspect that outright claiming himself as a prodigy was the correct answer either.
Regent Weitts cut in next. “it’s good to finally see you take up your place in our world. I confess, I expected to at least hear of your name sooner.”
Harry smiled, having mentally prepared himself for this exact question. “You and me both, sir, but some family issues kept that from happening.”
Harry was rather proud of that answer. It did an adequate job of answering Regent Weitts’s unasked question, but it didn’t give anything away that he was not completely comfortable with.
As they ate, all of them made idle conversation. Charlotte continued to ask Daphne about Hogwarts. The Weitts family talked primarily with the Greengrasses while the Malfoys, Fudges, Blacks and Crouch talked as a group of three. Harry stayed mostly quiet, politely answering questions when asked but not overtly drawing attention to himself.
When desserts too had been consumed, Regent Weitts stood and made a speech about everything that Samhain meant. Harry had already known as a result of his research that it was a day to honour the fallen, but he thought the speech was tasteful and well done as a whole. After one final toast, the floor was opened up. The split was about fifty to fifty, with half of the people choosing to dance and half of the others choosing to network.
Harry glanced towards Daphne. “I’m dancing with my father to open. I’m probably going to be pretty held up as the Greengrass Heiress. I’m taking it you’re not overly interested in dancing?”
“No. Come find me when you’re done.”
“Oh, trust me, I will.”
Before Harry could turn away after Daphne’s departure, Charlotte spoke from his elbow. “Not one for dancing, huh?”
He shrugged. “I was never taught,” he answered shortly. He had figured it was a passable excuse, and it was, after all, true.
Charlotte frowned at him. “You don’t get along with your father, do you?”
Harry debated how much to tell her, but decided on a direct, yet not revealing truth. “We’re working on it.”
“He didn’t seem to do his duties as a Lord, seeing as you’re his heir. You said yourself you didn’t really appear at these events, which you should have. Now you’re telling me you didn’t learn how to dance, which you also should have.”
“My childhood is complicated.”
Harry expected to see annoyance in Charlotte’s visage, but instead, she shrugged. “Fair enough. I’m coming with you.”
Charlotte smiled and had to visibly suppress a laugh. “Grace is the heiress, so it’s her job to politic for the family. I can’t really do much, since nobody takes a ten-year-old overly seriously if you’re not an Heir or Heiress and Daphne is held up. I may as well shadow someone my own age.” She smiled. “And, I admit, you interest me.”
If her sister was anything judge by, Harry wasn’t entirely sure whether or not that was a good thing.
“I’m flattered,” he said dryly
“You should be.”
Harry smiled. “You are not what I expected.”
“You didn’t expect me at all.”
Harry’s smile widened. “Touché. You are not what I would have expected.”
“A miniature copy of my sister, you mean?”
He winced, realizing how hypocritical it was of him to assume that when he had wanted so badly to separate himself from his brother.
“Don’t apologize,” Charlotte cut in, obviously tracking exactly where his mind was going next. “It is unfitting of your station. You had no information on me. it’s not the worst assumption to work with.” She smiled. “But no, I am not my sister.”
“No,” Harry agreed, “definitely not.”
Where Grace was distant, quiet, neutral, and seemed to keep everything inside of her own head, Charlotte was more outgoing, more outwardly confident, and had no qualms about making herself heard.
Somebody cleared their throat near the two children and they turned towards the source. Harry saw the same woman from earlier, with her daughter and husband. Her heavily lidded eyes were focused on Harry. “Heir Potter,” she greeted him, extending a hand. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Harry briefly ran over everything he knew about Bellatrix Black. Her former husband and his brother were in Azkaban, her current husband had been controlled by Sirius Black in the last war. She held some of the top Defence Against the Dark Arts grades for Hogwarts this century, and she was a daughter of House Black who married into the Lestrange family. In short, she was several layers of danger.
“Well met, Lady Black,” Harry greeted her, scraping his lips across the back of her knuckles before straightening up. “Or do you prefer Lestrange?”
“Black if you must, but I would prefer you called me Bellatrix or Bella. We are family, after all. My former husband was convicted of disgusting crimes, I don’t go by his name.” Her smile grew. “Anyway, we are related through the Black family. Did you know?”
“I did,” He hadn’t traced his tree back far, but he had examined all of its recent ties. “Harry for me then. And I believe my grandmother was Dorea Black.”
“Ah yes, Aunty Dorea. I never did see much of her, I’ll admit, but she seemed like a perfectly pleasant woman.”
Harry shrugged. “I wouldn’t know.”
“No, I suppose not. In any case, it is nice to meet family.” She peered at him critically. “Likely the right side of the family too, if the rumours about you are true.”
“I’m in Slytherin if that’s what you mean.”
She smiled. “Got it in one. That house was always quite sacred to me, growing up a Black, and it served me well throughout Hogwarts.”
He felt as though his guard had to stay up at all times around this woman for reasons he couldn’t completely explain. “I’ve enjoyed my stay so far. It certainly keeps things interesting.”
“Just watch that interesting doesn’t turn to danger,” Bellatrix warned him with that same, thin smile.
“I’ll do my best.”
“Where are my manners?” The woman asked. “Harry, Miss Weitts, I would like you to meet my husband, Barty Crouch, and our daughter and Heiress, Ares.”
“How do you do, Heir Potter?” asked Crouch smoothly, dipping his head to Harry before extending his hand.
Harry took it. “Quite well, sir, and yourself?”
“Oh, wonderful. I have always enjoyed Samhain.”
Charlotte and Ares had greeted each other, and now Harry turned to the youngest of the family.
“A pleasure, Heiress Black.”
Her sharp eyes roamed over him, but her face did not change. “Well met, Heir Potter,” she greeted him as he brushed his lips over her knuckles after inclining his head. The Blacks were a Founding Twelve family, and therefore, she outranked him just as Daphne did Malfoy.
“Well,” said Crouch with a well-practised smile, “we must be off, but it was a pleasure to meet you, Heir Potter, and as much a pleasure as always, Miss Weitts.” When they left, Harry turned to Charlotte.
“How old is she?”
“Who? Ares? She’s my age — starts at Hogwarts next year.”
“I would bet my family’s fortune she ends up in Slytherin.”
Charlotte laughed softly. “Her father was apparently a Ravenclaw.”
Harry blinked. “I… would not have guessed that.”
“I don’t think most would have,” Charlotte agreed. “Explains how he was overpowered in the war by a Gryffindor.”
Harry smiled. “You seem to have your house loyalties sorted out quite early.”
She shrugged. “There’s nothing really wrong with Gryffindors, but if they were going to best a Slytherin, it would be in open combat.”
Harry nodded. “You’ll hear no arguments from me.”
Harry met quite a few witches and wizards, with Charlotte in tow. He spent more time speaking with Cornelius Fudge, who apparently wanted to run for Minister of Magic next election. He also met Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head of the DMLE, though they exchanged only pleasantries, as well as a number of others.
Finally, Charlotte’s mother appeared from the fray an hour and a half later. “Your Father wishes to dance with you,” she told Charlotte, who nodded obediently and made her way to the floor. Before Harry could slip away, those magnetic eyes had fixed upon him. “Would you do me the honour of accompanying me for a dance?”
Harry internally winced but externally smiled as charmingly as possible. Dancing was not high on list of activities he might enjoy. Far too much physical closeness for his liking. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, ma’am. I never property learned to dance.”
“No time like the present to correct such an atrocity,” she countered with a small smile of her own. Harry thought it looked victorious. “If you have studied etiquette as closely as it seems, I’m sure you will manage.”
And just like that, Harry had been effortlessly outmanoeuvred and cornered with one move. This woman was good
“If you insist,” he said politely, having no real choice by this point. He was doing his best to hide the anxiety that was crashing against his consciousness in waves. He disliked being so much as touched, let alone being as close to somebody as dancing made inevitable. On top of that, there legitimately was the very real possibility he was about to make an idiot of himself.
He followed in Lady Weitts’s wake until they were on the dance floor. Thankfully, she had not taken them to its centre. Then she stopped and reached for his hand. For a second, his grip on her larger hand tightened considerably, but he made a conscious effort to tone it down before slowly, unsurely, he placed his hand on her hip.
“See?” she told him. “You aren’t completely inept.”
If she noticed how tense he was as she led him through the motions, which he was sure she did, she did not comment. “My daughters seem very interested in you,” she said casually.
“Your youngest, at least,” Harry said quickly, clinging onto the conversation. Anything to focus on except their closeness.
Adriana chuckled. “Oh yes, Charlotte seems the keener of the two, but trust me, you have not escaped Grace’s notice either.”
He wondered how annoyed Grace would be with her mother giving away her secrets.
“You seem surprised?”
“A bit, yes,” he admitted. “I would think that there would be better people for a sixth year to be interested in than a first year.”
The woman looked at him pointedly. “False modesty is unbecoming of you,” she told him. “Your deflection at the table was well done, but you did not deny that you are prodigious for your age with a wand, and there is a certain air about you, for those who know what to look for.”
Harry didn’t really know what she meant by that second bit, but he would remember it nonetheless.
“You can’t tell me you would not be interested in yourself if the roles were reversed? The heir of an Ancient and Most Noble House who seemed to appear from nowhere and go the exact opposite way of the rest of his family?”
“I would probably be interested, yes.” There was a moment of pause where Lady Weitts seemed to give him an opportunity to say more, but he did not.
When the song ended, they broke apart, and Harry visibly relaxed. “Would you mind pointing me to the nearest bathroom is?”
It was time to address the main reason he was here.
She smiled. “Of course. Walk out of the ballroom doors and down the corridor to the left. When there is a chance to turn left or right, turn left and it will be the first room you come to.”
Harry made a point of not being seen as he slipped out of the ballroom.
Ten Minutes Later…
When he returned to the room ten minutes later, he was quickly sought out by not just Charlotte, but Daphne too.
“Finally free from high society, Heiress Greengrass?” Harry asked with a grin.
Daphne glowered at him. “You say that while you’re standing in a mansion’s ballroom. Does the hypocrisy leave an aftertaste in your mouth?”
He chuckled in spite of himself. “That’s a good one,” he admitted. “I’ll make sure to use that on you in the future. Oh, and it does — it’s quite sweet, actually.”
Charlotte couldn’t help but giggle as Daphne just rolled her eyes. “You’re impossible.”
“Yet you made it a point to find me.”
“Because you asked me too…”
“The look of regret when you told me you were going off said it all.”
Daphne made to bite back, but before she could, a scream rang through the ballroom, and everyone fell silent.
There was a blur of motion, and a man fell backwards. As he fell, something wrapped around him. A moment later, the gathered crowd realized that the something in question was a massive, ten-foot-long snake of a dark grey. The man, who Harry now realized with mild horror was Rufus Scrimgeour, struggled for a moment before somebody drew their wand and fired a spell at the snake. Evidently, whoever fired had no idea what they were doing. Instead of doing any good, the spell simply startled the snake — a black mamba, as a matter of fact, and caused it to sink its fangs into Scrimgeour’s leg.
Harry’s eyes widened.
A second later, the snake was struck by another spell. This time, the caster, who Harry would later find out was Daphne’s father, seemed to know what he was doing. The snake’s coils went limp for a moment, and Scrimgeour, who was convulsing by this point, managed to pull free. As a crowd rushed forward to try and help Scrimgeour, the snake slithered up, in plain sight of the entire room, to a rather horrified looking Draco Malfoy, slithering up and around his arm.
The room burst into chaos.
‘Well,’ Harry thought darkly, ‘it kind of worked.’
Ten Or So Minutes Earlier…
When Harry entered the bathroom in question, he reviewed his plan one final time.
Quite simply, if Malfoy wanted to play at frame jobs, Harry would happily play his game. He’d gotten the idea of summoning a snake from Higgs, who had used the trick in his duel with Grace, though it had done little to change the outcome. Harry had remembered the incantation, Serpensortia, and had studied it a bit. As it turned out, the conjured snake was supposed to be hostile or neutral to any but its conjurer. It was, however, supposed to be completely and utterly docile to its summoner and its summoner alone.
Unfortunately for Draco, that did not account for Parselmouths. They were the exceptions to that rule, as they could control snakes of all kinds.
The black mamba that Harry could easily envision thanks to the imagery of Rex in the dungeons slithered from the end of his wand and looked around for a victim. Before it could decide to slither away, Harry surprised it with a hiss.
The snake paused. “You speak?” It asked
“Clearly.” Harry hissed, as sarcastically as the language of snakes would allow. “Can you understand and obey me like a normal snake?” The mamba jerked its head in an unmistakable gesture of affirmation. “Excellent. Listen closely…”
Harry thought having a mamba knock someone to the ground before slithering obediently over to Draco Malfoy would be a rather clever political play, and would essentially ruin the boy’s reputation, if not his family’s, at least for a short time. He didn’t want the snake to harm anybody, which he made very clear. Unfortunately, he could not plan perfectly for the future.
Back in the present…
It was pandemonium in the ballroom. Scrimgeour was immediately transported to St. Mungo’s via an emergency portkey, made specially by Regent Weitts himself once an emergency bezoar had been shoved down his throat by Daphne’s father. The Malfoys left in a hurry, with Lucius’s firm hand clasped painfully tight looking on Draco’s shoulder.
The gathering had sputtered out from there, as everyone’s minds were now definitively in other places.
Even after all of that, the night and its surprises had not yet concluded.
Harry was the last guest to leave the manor, as he was the only one who would be flooing back to Hogwarts. All the other heirs and heiresses were flooing back to family homes. Before he could make it to the fire, an odd-looking creature popped into the room. Its skin was greyish and it had huge, brown eyes. It was quite short and wore a uniform embroidered with the same crest Harry had seen on the entrance hall floor. The same crest, that, as a matter of fact, he could see at this very moment.
“Yes, Hestia?” Lady Weitts asked the creature.
It looked up at her, wide-eyed. Harry, Grace and Charlotte, as well as Lady and Regent Weitts were all gathered in the room, as the latter four had been apologizing and sending guests off politely since they had to cut the gathering several hours short as a result of the fiasco.
“Hestia be receiving a message from H-H-Hogwarts, M-M-Mistress.” Regent and Lady Weitts exchanged glances.
“What did it say, Hestia?” Regent Weitts asked the creature kindly.
It began to shake. “N-n-nobody can floo back to Hogwarts tonight, Master. The school is on l-l-lockdown.” Harry’s eyes widened as his heart leapt into his throat.
Even the Weitts’s looked surprised. “Did they say why it is locked down, Hestia?”
“Y-y-y-yes M-M-Mistress.” The elf took a deep, calming breath before it dropped the metaphorical bomb. “A student has been found dead.”
I would apologize for the cliffhanger, but ending social events with a bang when possible is sort of a tradition of mine.
The translation is courtesy of Yoshi89 from my Discord server. He specializes in a number of ancient languages and dialects. Frankly, that motto is an obscure dialect of Ancient Greek that is comprised in an unorthodox fashion. I wouldn’t waste your time trying to translate it. It will be revealed in time.
Please read and review.
This chapter was revised on September 26th, 2020 with the help of Discord editors Asmodeus Stahl and rawmeat898.
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