Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 14: Salazar’s Sanction
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognisable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to my betas Yoshi 89 and Umar for their 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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February 22nd, 1992
The Forbidden Forest
Neither Harry nor Charlus moved while first Dumbledore and then Snape vacated the clearing. Only after the sound of their footsteps had faded completely did Charlus gently drift down towards the ground and allow his shoulders to sag.
“That was… interesting,” Harry said neutrally. He and his brother had spoken a fair amount over the last month. They had made it a point to meet up on Thursday nights in the library and study together. These sessions had often devolved into casual conversation, but neither of them was complaining at the arrangement. Harry would not quite say he was close to his brother; he still thought that would likely take some time, but he could honestly say that they were now firmly on good terms. Granger had come once. She was a handful and Harry could not honestly say that he liked her, but she was tolerable. To the surprise of nobody, Weasley had not come. Nor had Daphne, but that was mostly because Harry thought if he let her, she would curse his brother to bits for his perceived part in Harry’s childhood.
Charlus snorted. “You Slytherins and your bloody understatements.” He made to speak again but Harry raised his hand to pause him before drawing his wand.
“Muffliato.” he cast, assuring that no noise would escape the clearing.
Charlus’s eyes widened. “How do you know that spell?”
Harry raised an eyebrow in return. “How do you know that spell?”
Charlus appraised him for several heartbeats before answering. “Dad told me about it. He learned it from Mum and a bunch of the Aurors use it now.”
‘Better question, how the hell did Hurst know an Auror grade privacy spell?’
“I saw you react to the mention of the Philosopher’s Stone,” Harry said without preamble, neatly diverting the topic of conversation to a potentially less dangerous topic. In actuality, Harry supposed it was a lot more dangerous in the grand scheme of things, but not in this exact moment in time, at least.
He had learned after a month that Charlus, unlike many of his own housemates, was not one for subtlety.
Charlus bit his lip. “Promise you won’t go running to Snape if I tell you?”
Harry frowned. “We’re both breaking a number of school rules right now so I would only implicate myself at the same time. Plus, if you haven’t noticed, he might not outright bully me as he does you, but he is not exactly my biggest fan either.”
Charlus looked sheepish. “Yeah, I guess that’s true.” he hesitated. “You remember the whole mess on Halloween?”
Charlus nodded. “Yeah, well… uh… me and Ron sort of… snuck out to listen in to the teacher’s staff meeting.”
Technically, Harry was doing something similar, but he also was not doing so in the midst of a schoolwide lockdown and putting himself under the scrutiny of the entire staff, visible or not.
“The cloak,” Harry asked, having pieced together what the silvery item Charlus had carried on Christmas was. He nodded and Harry frowned. “And Dumbledore didn’t know?”
Charlus looked puzzled. “Course not, we were invisible.”
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes or press his face into his hands at his brother’s idiocy. Charlus really was not bad when you got him on his own and away from Weasley, but he was so daft sometimes.
“Yes, but he still should have been able to find you using magic even if you were invisible.” he frowned. “I have a hard time thinking Dumbledore of all people wouldn’t be overly cautious.”
Charlus shrugged. “The whole school was in lockdown, he probably didn’t think anyone could get out.”
Harry could not see how Albus Dumbledore, by all accounts the greatest wizard since Merlin himself could have been fooled by two first years and an invisibility cloak. The only logical conclusion was that he knew that Charlus and Weasley were there and had done nothing about it. As for a motive, Harry was flummoxed, but he could see no other realistic possibility.
“Right,” Harry said sceptically, “anyway, it’s not really that important; carry on.”
Charlus blinked at Harry’s change of pace. “Uh… right. Well, Dumbledore mentioned the whole thing with Higgs and checked all the teacher’s wands for the Imperius curse since he thought no student could have smuggled in the troll and they figured Higgs did it as a diversion to get to the third-floor corridor-“
“So he died because of that three-headed monster behind the door?” Harry asked for the specification. Pansy had certainly seemed sure but as in tune as she always was with the Hogwarts rumour mill, Harry wanted to confirm the fact once and for all.
Charlus grimaced. “Yeah, Dumbledore said it was… uh… messy — wait! How the hell do you know about that?”
Harry smiled easily at Charlus. “The Hogwarts rumour mill is a terrible thing, but sometimes, if you know whom to ask and what to look for, it can be dead useful.” It was actually almost the truth. “My turn to ask a question. The Imperius curse lets another wizard control you entirely, right?” The only context he had ever heard the curse mentioned in was “The Imperius Defense”, which had apparently got a lot of death eaters out of Azkaban.
“Yeah,” Charlus told him darkly, “it’s one of the Unforgivable Curses. Using any of the three would land you a life sentence in Azkaban.”
Remembering Hurst’s words on Samhain, Harry suspected very much that he knew the second, though the third was certainly something to look into.
Charlus blinked at him. “It’s bloody off-putting how quickly your mind moves on,” he told Harry. “Anyway, they talked about how the Aurors would have to come in, which is why the school was shut down for about a week, by the way; Dad was on the team, the leader, actually. Flitwick said something about them investigating the third-floor corridor. He said something about a stone.” Charlus scowled for some reason that Harry could not ascertain. “Dumbledore promised that wouldn’t happen and that was pretty much the end of it until we were at Hagrid’s.”
“Hagrid’s?” Harry asked sceptically. He had nothing against Hagrid. The man was actually, from what Harry could tell, extremely kind-hearted if nothing else, but he also was not the brightest torch on the bracket.
“Yeah,” Charlus said uncomfortably, “don’t… uh… tell anyone this bit either, but Hagrid sort of let slip something he definitely wasn’t supposed to. I… uh… sort of messed up and mentioned the stone and the trapdoor in front of Hagrid and Hermione — Ron and I weren’t really friends with her yet. Anyhow, Hermione asked what kind of stone could be worth hiding like that, and Hagrid told us to keep our noses out of it. He said that it was between Professor Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel. Hey!” Charlus exclaimed suddenly. “Do you know who Flamel is by any chance? The three of us, Ron, Hermione and I, have been looking for months now!”
“No,” Harry answered honestly.
“Could you find out, do you think? No offence, Harry, but we think the information is somewhere in the restricted section, and Slytherin has a bit of a… uh… dodgy crowd.”
Harry rolled his eyes and seriously debated telling off his brother but he did not bother. “Could I find out — probably? Am I going to try — no.” Lie, he was definitely going to try and find out, but he had no intention of telling his bold-headed brother. Charlus would probably rush headfirst into the corridor as soon as he figured out the whole puzzle.
Remembering the recent conversation the two of them had overheard, Harry was pretty sure Flamel had something to do with the Philosopher’s Stone, so that was at least a start. Vaguely, Harry remembered hearing of that before. The muggles had thought it was something to do with turning metal into gold, he thought, but he doubted it was that simple in the magical world. He had learned since his integration into Magical Britain that many of the myths that muggles had told for centuries had their roots in real-life magic. He had also learned, however, that they rarely, if ever had the whole tale right. He suspected this was just another occasion where there was way more to the story than the muggles had pieced together.
Charlus looked incredulous. “Why not?”
“Because Hagrid is right,” Harry said dryly. “You are an eleven-year-old boy, Charlus. You have no business looking into anything that has been hidden so thoroughly. Anything involving a Cerberus is way above your level.”
Charlus bit his lip. “We think whatever is being hidden here is what those dark wizards tried to steal from Gringotts over the summer. Dad took something out of the family vault the day of the break-in and he told me that it was our vault that had been compromised,” he said hopefully. “We think… we think Snape is trying to steal it for them.”
Harry blinked. “You what?”
“You know about the Gringotts-“
“Charlus, I wasn’t talking about that. That’s actually a very plausible theory, but Snape’s definitely not involved with this.”
Charlus looked at him exasperatedly. “Harry, he cursed-“
“Your broom? No, he didn’t.” When Charlus just gaped at him, Harry rolled his eyes. “You have to stop assuming that you and your friends are the only people who can figure anything out around here. I watched Granger’s little stunt through omnioculars and you know what? Snape wasn’t the only one looking dead at you and muttering like mad.”
Now, Charlus looked taken aback. “Who else then?”
“But Snape hates-“
“Yes, he does, which is exactly why he wouldn’t try and kill you in public. He knows that he would be one of the top suspects, especially with our Father as a Senior Auror and your Godfather as a detective for the DMLE.”
Charlus frowned. “But you can’t know it was Sinistra if they were both-“
“I couldn’t, but I can now.” his twin looked confused. “I’m not one to worship Dumbledore even if I’ve got nothing against him either, but I highly doubt Snape could get away with lying to his face. If Dumbledore is so certain Snape didn’t do it on top of the fact that it makes no sense, I’m sorry, Charlus, but Snape didn’t do it.”
There was a long pause. “Fine then!” Charlus grumbled, clearly not convinced. “Even if it isn’t Snape, shouldn’t we try and find out what these people are going after?”
“We… are… eleven!” Harry reiterated. “Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Snape, Hurst, they all know what is being guarded and they can do a much better job of protecting it than we can. No, Charlus, I’m sorry, but I won’t be finding out anything about Flamel or the Philosopher’s Stone for you.” Harry emphasised the “for you” bit in his mind, but his twin did not need to know that.
Charlus sighed. “Fine,” he said, “have it your way.”
February 22nd, 1992
The Speaker’s Den
For pretty much the rest of the day, there was a war waging inside of Harry’s mind. He wanted to tell his friends about everything involving the stone, but he just did not find it easy to trust anybody. There was also the problem that the Slytherin common room was practically a breeding ground for eavesdroppers. Harry had debated bringing them all down to the room deep in the dungeons, but he had decided that such a thing was impractical and after doing a bit of reading in some of the more personal tomes left in the Den centuries earlier, he thought that, if strictly necessary, the place provided him with a contingency plan.
Needless to say, Blaise, Daphne and Tracey had been more than a little bit surprised when Harry hurried the three of them into the Speaker’s Den. He could only imagine how shocked their faces would have been if he had have used Parseltongue to enter, but he simply used the English password he had chosen, “Durskaban.” It was overdramatic to be certain, but Harry was positive that nobody would be guessing that password even if they somehow saw them enter, something his sixth sense which the ring provided him with made near impossible.
“Harry, what is this place?” Daphne asked in amazement as she eyed the serpentine throne, the emerald walls and the bookshelves with rare, unmasked awe.
“Incredible is what it is.” Blaise agreed softly, running his fingers over the table cloth. Tracey just seemed to be frozen, gawking around the room as if she could not believe the sight in front of her. Blaise’s attention shifted to Harry as he studied him with a measured expression. “This isn’t a new discovery, is it?”
“Depends on what you define as new,” Harry told him. “I found it the night of Christmas while you lot were gone. It was easier to sneak around then and it gave me a chance to test this.” Harry held up the ring on his finger.
“Ah,” Blaise nodded, “so that’s how you did it then.”
“Did what?” Daphne asked, confused.
“I eavesdropped on the Weasley twins and their friend Jordan a couple of weeks ago through a soundproof wall. Blaise never asked, so I never answered.”
“So that’s why you always wear that ring?” Tracey asked him, astonished. “It lets you eavesdrop on conversations?”
Harry smirked. “Oh, Tracey, it does so much more than that.” Slowly, dramatically, Harry took a long, measured breath and faded straight from existence.
Tracey’s jaw fell open and even Daphne and Blaise were wide-eyed and shocked. A second later, Harry let his breath out and flickered back into sight.
“You moved,” Blaise said, even more surprised.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “I was invisible and the thing that surprised you most is that I moved?”
“Shut up, Potter, you know there was more to that than you realised.” Blaise cut across him, though his lips had twitched. “I’m assuming that’s a disillusionment charm built-in, which is unbelievably impressive. When you’re under a disillusionment charm, you’re not supposed to be able to move without giving yourself away. The giveaway would be nothing major, but there would be a shimmer in the air or something.” he looked pointedly at Daphne and Tracey. “I don’t know about you two, but I didn’t see a thing.”
Mutely, they both shook their heads.
Harry frowned. “Ok, for one thing, that is actually very odd, but I’m not going to complain. For another, how do you know of that spell? I’ve never even heard of it?”
“Family business, I’m afraid,” Blaise told him with a shrug. “Nothing overly important; Mother’s just paranoid.”
“I would be too if I were her,” Daphne muttered deliberately loud enough for Blaise to hear her.
“Yes, because there definitely haven’t been rumours floating around about the Greengrass family for centuries.”
“What rumours?” Harry asked, looking between Blaise and Daphne.
Blaise looked surprised. “You… actually haven’t heard anything about my Mother?” His voice was measured and careful.
Harry scowled at him. “My apologies, Zabini, but I try not to concern myself with the personal lives of my classmates’ mothers.”
Blaise smirked. “How perfectly noble of you.”
“Care to enlighten me?”
“I’ll let Daphne do it, since she seems so eager.” Blaise did not sound annoyed, he just looked exceedingly bored.
“His Mother has married six men and they have all died mysteriously,” Daphne answered dryly.
“The idiots even call her the Black Widow,” Blaise added, seemingly amused by the fact.
“And has she… you know…” Tracey trailed off.
‘Sometimes, I wonder how that girl is a Slytherin.’
Blaise’s face was impassive. “I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew,” he said by way of an answer. “I shall say this though,” he added and his eyes flicked towards Harry. Harry figured he thought he would abandon him or something, which was ridiculous. “The Zabini family doesn’t need money, nor have we in my lifetime, so the idiots saying she’s trying to get rich are imbeciles.”
“As interesting as all of this is,” Daphne said with mock interest and a sweet smile, “it still doesn’t explain why you picked now to show us this place, Harry. I know you; it’s not that you don’t trust us, but you wouldn’t show us this place if you didn’t have a good reason.”
“You don’t do anything without a good reason,” Blaise added, nodding in agreement.
If one did not count curiosity as a set reason, that was not completely true, but Harry was happy to let them think that. Harry looked between the three of them. “As best as I can gather, this room is warded to the teeth. Dumbledore could be standing right outside the entrance right now and I doubt he would hear a thing.”
Blaise whistled. “That is my kind of HQ.”
Daphne snorted. “And you say that your Mother is paranoid.”
“It was Potter who brought us here, not me.”
“It was you who just implicitly recommended it is a headquarters.”
“Do you disagree?”
“That’s hardly the point, is it?”
“You two are impossible,” Harry noted as Tracey watched them as one might a highly anticipated world tennis final.
“Yet you keep us around.” Blaise pointed out with a smirk.
“You might blow my mind and wind up being useful, Zabini,” Harry said casually, which actually made Blaise laugh. Daphne smirked appreciatively and Tracey giggled. “Now,” he told them, his voice becoming more serious, “if I’ve managed to decode Old English as well as I think I have, which took a lot of time spent with library books, by the way, this room has a second purpose.” The three of them fell deadly quiet. “Anything spoken in this room can be placed under Salazar’s Sanction. Best I can piece together is that it is a ridiculously powerful confidentiality oath. It won’t actually hurt you or do anything negative to your magic if you try and break it, but it will make it impossible for you to speak of anything classed under it to anyone who doesn’t know, even if you don’t know they’re listening.”
For several seconds, the room was silent.
“And I thought you were paranoid.” Daphne said to Blaise just as Blaise said, “You’re learning.”
“Nevermind,” Daphne said with mock disgust. “You’re just as paranoid as I thought you were.”
“Why Greengrass, that is the nicest thing you have ever said to me.”
“Why Zabini, I’ll make you tell me a bunch of nice things if you don’t promptly shut your mouth.”
“I like this one,” Blaise told Harry, wrapping an arm around Daphne since he was one of the few first years taller than her and therefore in a good position to do so, “it’s got fangs.”
“Sharp ones, too,” Harry said absentmindedly as Daphne elbowed Blaise hard in the ribs, causing him to slide his arm away from her. Tracey was cracking up.
“Are you going to use this oath on us then?” Daphne asked. She did not sound accusing, did not even sound adverse, just curious.
“Do it,” Blaise told him. All three of them looked at him. “What?” he asked with a roll of his eyes. “I never denied that I was paranoid. I can’t speak for these lovely ladies, but personally, I’m not planning to blab. At the same time,” he said louder, lifting his hands to stall any objections, “I’m also a Slytherin which means, whether you like it or not, I could be blackmailed or bribed to tell somebody the information, or somebody could just eavesdrop on a conversation or such.”
“Is whatever you’re going to tell us actually that serious though?” asked Tracey.
“Yes.” Blaise and Daphne both answered at once before mock glaring at one another.
“Ladies first,” Blaise said with a mock bow.
Daphne stuck out her leg and tripped him as he bowed, though Blaise managed to regain his balance. “Harry wouldn’t have brought up this Salazar’s Sanction if it wasn’t.”
“Got it in one,” Harry told his two friends and smiled at Tracey. “Are any of you opposed to the sanction then?”
“You’re sure it will actually stop us instead of just — oh, I don’t know… killing us, aren’t you Harry?”
Daphne sighed. “And you have the nerve to call me impossible.” A moment’s pause. “I have no objections.”
“Nor do I.” seconded Blaise.
Tracey hesitated and looked nervously between her three friends.
“If you’re uncomfortable, Tracey-“
“No,” she said with fiery determination, “no, do it!”
Harry looked at each of them, giving all three of them, in turn, one last chance to back down before he raised his wand and spoke in a loud, clear voice. He was only thankful he did not have to use Parseltongue. Sanction or not, he still wanted to keep anything too abnormal, let alone frowned upon to himself.
‘Nobody likes a freak.’
“I, Harry James Potter, a rising member of Salazar’s noble house hereby call upon my newly forged connection with the greatest of the Hogwarts four and the legacy which he has left behind. In doing so, I hereby invoke Salazar’s Sanction upon the Speaker’s Den. As magic is my witness.” There was no visible response to his words, but all three of them felt the cold impression of… something close around their chest as if something cold, oppressive and powerful had taken hold of their hearts. It was not painful, not even unpleasant, but it was very unnerving.
“Well then, that was beautifully dramatic,” Blaise said a minute or so later in a rather chipper voice that broke the oppressive silence that had befallen the four of them. “Well, take it away Harry, my good chap!”
First, Harry filled Daphne and Tracey in on the bit he had told Blaise two weeks ago. Daphne seemed suitably pissed off that he had not told her earlier, but she had the grace not to make a scene about it.
“Well,” he said, foreboding heavy in his voice, “I think I know what the thing is guarding.” he paused. “Well, I actually have no idea what the thing is guarding, but I know what it’s called.”
Blaise snorted. “How Gryffindorishly honest of you.”
“You’ve got the houses mixed up again, Blaise. Those are the lovely badgers you’re thinking of.”
“Oh, my bad. Red and yellow just blend together to me, you know?”
“As interesting as this banter is,” Daphne cut him off, “what is it called?”
“The Philosopher’s Stone.”
Tracey looked as if she had heard the name somewhere before but could not place it, but Daphne actually gasped. Blaise, for the first time in Harry’s memory, allowed his jaw to fall wide open.
“Ok,” Harry deadpanned, “so I’m taking it you two know what it is?”
“Yes,” Blaise answered sharply. “I’m surprised you don’t.”
“I’m not,” Daphne added darkly, “not with your…” but she paused, eyes widening for a second, “you haven’t told them yet, have you?” she added softly.
“No, but I suppose they can know what they have to for context,” he said flatly.
“I was raised by muggles.” he spat, causing Tracey to gasp and Blaise’s face to actually flush red.
“You were what?!” he asked him.
“Yes,” he said darkly, “it’s as atrocious as it sounds. My father barely coped with the pressure of raising The-Boy-Who-Lived, so you can imagine how he felt about his Brother.” In truth, Harry did not really fault James’s reasoning, but he thought his solution was atrocious and was still a long way from forgiving him, even if the two of them had exchanged a few friendly letters back and forth over the course of the school year.
“That’s criminal!” Blaise snarled. Blaise was not one of those Slytherins who just went and threw around the words “mudblood” and “blood traitor” but Harry had a pretty good idea how he felt about actual muggles. If truth be told, Harry held absolutely nothing against muggleborns, but muggles themselves… Well, he was not about to go commit homicide, but he would never be fond of them. Judging by the look in Daphne’s eyes, she did not think criminal was the half of it, but then again, she knew more than either Blaise or Tracey.
“As interesting as my childhood would undoubtedly be to you,” he said, a bit more coldly than intended, “would one of you pureblood prats care to explain what this mystical stone is?”
“It’s the pinnacle of alchemy,” Daphne explained reverently. Harry absentmindedly thought how typical it was of Daphne to answer with an illusion to one of the most advanced forms of potion-making known to man, but he let it slide. “It’s been called one of the greatest magical creations of all time. It’s a stone that can change any metal to gold and that can create an elixir that makes the drinker immortal… sort of.”
Harry had to applaud himself for his correct assumptions about the muggle myths and he could definitely see the appeal of such a stone, but at the moment, Harry was rather fixated upon what was frankly an unacceptable way to end an explanation. “Sort of?”
“If you were to actually kill them,” Blaise said conversationally, “they would die as normal, just as they would if they were to fall off a cliff or something. The stone’s elixir makes sure they’ll never die of natural causes. The man who created it has lived for centuries.”
“That was Flamel, right?” Tracey asked. “I knew I’d heard of it somewhere!”
‘Of course, it was.’
“Yes,” Daphne answered
“Isn’t he like… seven hundred?”
Harry’s eyes widened.
“Something like that,” Blaise answered dryly before looking at Harry. “I don’t suppose you have any more earth-shattering revelations to share with us?”
Blaise sighed. “Of course you do.” After a pause, he rolled his eyes. “Go on then?”
“You all remember the Gringotts break-in?”
“Vividly,” Daphne said archly.
“Well, Charlus and his friends reckon that whoever broke into Gringotts was going for the stone and that they’ll try to take it from Hogwarts too. Apparently, my Father picked something up for Dumbledore the same day of the break-in.”
“That’s rather ominous.” decided Blaise.
“My brother thinks it’s Snape,” Harry said with a roll of his eyes. Tracey looked as if she might agree with that sentiment, but she did not voice that opinion.
“How incredibly dimwitted of him.” Blaise drawled, clearly amused.
“For once, Zabini, we’re in agreement.”
“Good to know you have some sense in that pretty little head of yours, Greengrass.”
“Bite me, Zabini.”
“Don’t tempt me.”
Harry let the argument devolve a bit as they all took seats, none of them taking the throne-like chair. He did not really have a purpose for telling his friends all of this beyond learning about the stone, but it was, in a way, nice to have all of that off of his chest and if nothing else, Harry thought the conspiratorial debate that went on that night in the Speaker’s Den may have served to bring the group closer together.
March 6th, 1992
A Room In The Dungeons
“Tonight,” Professor Hurst told him, “we shall be looking at a spell that none would call dark, but one that is probably the most dangerous spell I have taught you thus far. It is not exceedingly dangerous, but if you mean only to harm your opponent, mind you do not aim somewhere vital.” She snapped her wand towards one of the training dummies without warning.
A long, deep gash appeared in the dummy’s chest and it fell to its knees while the magic of the dummy itself allowed it to mend. “The cutting curse,” she told him. “A simple Protego is enough to stop it, but it would tear through any Aegis Vocar shield and if the caster’s intent is particularly vicious and well-focused, it can be a rather dangerous spell. As well as, of course, if a vital area is struck.”
Harry practised the curse for a while. It took him a number of tries before he got it for the first time. It was an early fourth year spell, so that was not too surprising. Before the end of the lesson, Harry had managed it, and Professor Hurst graced him with a rare smile before tapping her wand against her wrist to check the time.
“Well, that went rather well and we have some time remaining. Your arsenal now is far more versed than when you first entered this room, so, if you are willing, I think you are ready for a mock duel.”
Harry felt apprehension rise up within him. “You’re certain, Professor?”
“I am,” she responded with a reassuring smile. “I shall not be looking to strike you down as much as I shall be aiming to defend myself and give you some things to think about. I assure you, no harm will befall you during the practice.”
Harry hesitated for only a second before nodding, lifting his wand in a defensive posture and taking the stance Professor Hurst had shown him all those months ago. She bowed and he reciprocated. “Normally, a mediator would begin the duel, but as I am reasonably confident in my abilities, I shall start on your move.”
Harry nodded, hesitated, and snapped his wand up towards Hurst, opening with a whispered cutting curse. Within a split second, Hurst had batted the spell aside and sent a beam of red light towards Harry that he thought was the disarming spell. Instead of blocking, Harry sidestepped, which he had been told was always the better option if possible and fired back a bludgeoning curse that Hurst sidestepped and returned.
The duel did not last long.
Within a minute or so, Harry had taken a powerful bludgeoning curse to the ribs and sat down hard. Hurst had summoned his wand a second or so later. They had gone twice more. By the third duel, Harry had lasted a bit longer, though he had still not come close to landing anything on his professor.
“One more,” she told him, taking her stance and prompting Harry to do the same. They traded spells for about thirty seconds before Hurst decided to make it interesting. “Flagrete.”
Harry’s eyes widened. He had never heard that incantation before, but he had read about it in his book on non-lethal curses. It was a modification of the Incendio spell, another from the book that Harry had practised and mastered on his own time. The problem with Incendio was that it granted the caster no ability to manipulate the fire beyond where it was directed and how much was summoned. Flagrete, however, allowed the person to mould the fire with their intent. For Hurst, her intent turned out to be fiery ropes which shot towards Harry. Absentmindedly, he noted how grateful he was that Hurst had chosen to duel him with mostly verbal incantations for tonight.
He sidestepped, but his leg seared. One had nicked him. Annoyed, Harry decided to get more creative with the arsenal Hurst had helped him bolster.
They had touched on the water conjuration spell briefly and Hurst had been suitably impressed when Harry pulled it off. Granted, it took him the entire practice and it had been weak because it was a sixth year conjuration. Admittedly one of, if not the easiest one, however, he had done it. Apparently, this had something to do with the physical composition of a person and its relationship with their magic. Hurst had explained to Harry that since so much of the human body was made up of water, one’s mind, and by extension, the magic they wielded instinctively understood water on a level that rendered the spell less difficult to cast. Apparently, when dealing with conjurations, the visualisation bit was the most difficult, so with those elements rendered less essential through the aforementioned means, it made the spell by far the easiest conjuration. That was how Hurst had explained it to him, anyway.
Harry had practised some more on his own time and now, it was a steady, powerful stream of water that shot from his wand and doused the flames. He turned his wand on Hurst, intending on spraying her in the face. She avoided the stream, but it did splash her robes and shoes. With a gleam in his eye, Harry smirked.
Suddenly, the water that had hit the ground around Hurst’s feet froze and she stumbled, not seeming to have been expecting that. Harry sent a disarming charm, a cutting curse, a knockback jinx and a bludgeoning curse her way in quick succession. Perhaps the most useful thing he had been taught was the art of chaining spells together. If one could quickly chain the wand movements for several spells together, they needed only the final incantation and the visualised intent for the prior volley. It was not nearly as ideal as non-verbal casting, but it was an advanced skill for a third or fourth year, let alone a first.
Hurst deflected the first spell but lost balance again and for a second, Harry was sure she would fall. That was until her wand twitched towards the ground and she rose several feet above the spellfire and rained her own volley down upon Harry. He managed to hold her off for a moment, but as she chained her own spells together and conjured ropes from the air, the duel ended.
“That was very well done, Harry.” Hurst commended after helping him to his feet and healing the burn on his leg. “I did not expect the chain attack nor the conjuration of water. You have greatly improved on both.”
He smiled sheepishly back up at her. Compliments were still something he was slowly growing accustomed to. “Thank you, Professor. When you told me to practice on my own time, I took it seriously.”
“Clearly,” she said with a small smile. “Well, it seems the time is growing late. You should return to your dormitory, but I wanted you to know how impressed and proud I am with how far you have come.”
An odd, warm feeling rose up in Harry’s chest. Proud — she was proud of him — nobody had ever been proud of him before. “Thank you, Professor.” he paused. Asking questions was still quite difficult around adults, if admittedly less so than at the beginning of the year. With Professor Hurst, however, it had become quite easy by comparison to other adults. “Professor?”
“How do you just bat spells away without a shield?”
She hesitated. “That is… a rather advanced skill.”
“Yes, I’m sure, but can you tell me how you do it?”
She appraised him, but did not deny him the information; she never seemed to deny him the information. “The incantation is Averto and it is a spell that cannot be performed verbally. In addition, one must either, A, know which spell is coming their way and visualise the spell’s effects and the appropriate counter before striking the spell with the tip of their wand just before impact. Or, B, put a sufficiently greater amount of power into the deflection than your attacker put into the curse. Without knowing what spell is coming your way, I doubt I need to warn you of the dangers of the second method?”
Harry nodded. Non-verbal casting as a whole was certainly out of his reach for now, but what better introduction than something so useful? If nothing else, it would, even if nothing else could manage, surely get him the O+ he wanted on the end of year exam in Professor Hurst’s subject.
March 8th, 1992
Harry sighed in relief as finally, he looked up from his essay for Snape. It was a lot more than the man had asked for, but if you wanted an outstanding from Snape, that was a necessity. “Daphne?” he asked, as she, along with Tracey and Blaise were working on their own essays for various subjects at the table. Normally, the four of them would work in the room in the dungeons, or even the Speaker’s Den on rare occasions when they were sure they could get in unnoticed. Today, however, they had required the near-endless resources of the Hogwarts Library.
“If I look over your Transfiguration essay and add suggestions for any points that I think will bump it up, will you do the same for my Potions one?”
He smiled, ignoring the mock glare Tracey shot his way for already being finished and lazed back in his seat, allowing his eyes to roam over the library. As they did, they paused on the doorway. There was Longbottom, of all people, with his legs completely stuck together, looking like he could hardly walk.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he told his friends, smoothly getting to his feet and striding over towards Longbottom, plastering a look of mild concern onto his face as he walked. “Excuse me, Heir Longbottom?”
Longbottom jolted and would have fallen onto the back of his head had the wall behind him not kept him upright. “Heir P-P-Potter?” he asked nervously.
Harry smiled disarmingly at the boy. “Relax, Longbottom. if I wanted to hurt you, I’d have done it when we were alone in the hospital wing.” Longbottom did relax, if only a little. “What happened to your legs?” The Gryffindor boy made to answer but snapped his mouth closed, looking hesitant. Harry sighed. “A Slytherin, then?”
Hesitantly, Longbottom nodded. “Malfoy!” he spat hatefully, blushing furiously with embarrassment. “He-he… oh, sorry… you’re probably friends with him, aren’t you?”
Harry scowled. “Finite Incantatem,” he said clearly, waving his wand towards Neville and dispelling the curse. The Gryffindor looked shocked. “If that doesn’t answer your question, Longbottom, then here you go. I have no love lost for Malfoy. He’s an arrogant prat without an ounce of true cunning or ambition. He is the worst representation of Slytherin house and I would be very grateful if you didn’t judge me and my friends based on how Malfoy acts.”
Longbottom looked shell shocked. “Of-of course not,” he said, still clearly awestruck.
Harry snorted. “Come off it, Longbottom. Surely you realise that not everybody in the same house and year are friends?” he looked pointedly at him. “I don’t see you hanging around with Weasley and Finnigan, by example.” Conveniently, Harry forgot to mention his brother.
Neville flushed. “I-I don’t really have many friends, actually.”
As immoral as such a thing might have been, Harry could have smiled in victory. Longbottom had made this whole thing way too easy. “Well then, how about you come to work with mine? None of us likes Malfoy and we’ll all treat you decent. I’ll show you how to counter the leg-locker that Malfoy hit you with too once we’re out of the library. It’ll work on pretty much any spell like that.”
Longbottom looked awed. “Y-y-you’re sure?”
Harry smiled widely. “Positive.”
March 9th, 1992
The Potions Classroom
“Your task,” barked Snape, “is to brew me an acceptable rendition of a headache cure before the end of this class. Begin.”
“Apologies, Blaise, but I have a different partner in mind today,” Harry said with an apologetic smile. He got to his feet and, shocking all in the room in the process, quickly crossed the divide between the Slytherins and Gryffindors. Once he had done so, sauntered right on up to Neville, who had quickly insisted upon first names the night prior while Harry was helping with his Potions essay. The way Harry did it made it seem as if it was nothing at all out of the ordinary.
“Would you like to work together today, Neville?” Harry asked, smiling.
Neville looked more shocked than he had at any point the night before. “Why would you want to work with me?” he asked in awe. “I’m rubbish at Potions, I’ll just mess it up.”
Harry was acutely aware that the entire class, plus probably Snape were watching the exchange curiously. Some were a lot more subtle about it than others, but Harry was sure they were all watching.
“I don’t think you’re rubbish,” Harry said easily, shooting a glare towards Finnigan, whom Neville had often partnered with and who had tried to curse Harry several times at the beginning of the year with no success, “I just don’t think you’ve had very good partners.” Finnigan glared right back as Harry smiled innocently at the hot-tempered Gryffindor before returning his full attention onto Neville. “If you don’t want to-“
“No, no, I want to,” Neville said eagerly. If nothing else, Harry was regarded as one of the best students in the class; likely second behind Daphne. Harry smiled at him again and this time it was completely genuine. Neville could be useful to him for certain, but Harry could just tell the boy had potential in leaps and bounds. If he could only help Neville with that confidence… well, he was already an all-around decent bloke and could probably become a more than a decent wizard.
“Perfect! Let’s get started then!”
Miraculously, Harry managed to prevent Neville from blowing anything up during the lesson. There had been several close calls, mainly when Snape loomed near, but if nothing else, Neville had no problems following Harry’s instructions and by the end of the lesson, they turned in a potion that had no obvious flaws. Mind you, it was not Harry’s best, far from it, and Malfoy and Nott, as well as Blaise and Parkinson, Granger and Thomas and of course, Daphne and Tracey had actually finished before them, but Harry considered it a win nonetheless.
When they left the classroom, Tracey was throwing Harry some not so subtle, very inquisitive looks, but Daphne was just levelling him with a calculating, icy look and Blaise was smirking at him knowingly.
March 21st, 1992
The Great Hall
Harry, Daphne, Blaise and, Tracey took seats with three of their fourth year friends, Calypso and the Carrows the morning of the Slytherin versus Hufflepuff match. Cassius looked as nervous as he had for the match against Gryffindor months earlier but this time, he was seated with the Quidditch team. Best Harry could work out, the only reason they had not sat together for that opening match had something to do with the death of their seeker, as it seemed like Slytherin tradition for the team to sit together the morning of a match. Harry shot him what he hoped was an encouraging smile and Cassius nodded back to him in thanks.
Harry and his friends made a point of sitting with the fourth years at least once a week and had done so now for the past few months. The older years had by now accepted all of Harry’s friends without issue, even Tracey, even if the Carrows still shot her the odd glare for her occasional bluntness.
“Good day for flying,” Blaise said casually and it was true. The ceiling-high, high above them displayed cloudless blue skies and faultless rays of sunlight that would not have been out of place in a muggle utopia.
“It is,” Harry said a bit longingly.
“You really love it, don’t you?” Daphne asked him. “I mean, you’re very good at it, but I was never really sure.”
He shrugged. “I don’t care much for the lessons,” he said honestly. “I’d love to take my own broom for a spin without restraints if I had one.”
“You’ll have to come to the Manor this summer,” she told him. “I’m not really one for flying much, but I go out sometimes and we have a collection of fairly good brooms. They’re nothing like your brother’s Nimbus, but they’re all quite good.”
Harry smiled a genuine smile. “That does sound like a good idea.”
“Have you never flown freely?” Calypso asked him. That girl was as perceptive as she was attentive, and she was both to be certain.
“No.” he answered shortly. It was not an impolite tone of voice that he used, but it was one he had mastered over the year that made it very clear he was not keen to answer any questions.
She raised her eyebrow. “I was meaning to speak with you, Harry,” she told him. “Hestia, Flora, Cassius and I practice duelling and some other magic and such every Saturday night. We won’t tonight since hopefully there will be a massive after-party, but we were wondering if you would like to join us next Saturday?”
Harry picked up on a few things. The Carrows did not look at him as Calypso made that statement. The invitation was not necessarily closed to his friends, but they were not exactly included in it either. Plus the way she said, “and other magic and such” hinted that not everything practised there was completely legal.
He smiled graciously back at her without pause. “Thank you, Calypso, I’d love to join you next Saturday.”
Before he knew it, Harry and his friends were packed into the stands to watch their house take on Hufflepuff. Very early on, it was apparent Slytherin was by far the superior team. They went up 60-0 before Hufflepuff scored their first goal, and Slytherin scored another three before Hufflepuff struck again.
The most interesting thing that happened during the match was not Slytherins dominance though. Nor was it Diggory’s too late catch of the snitch that brought Hufflepuff within ten points, but still handed them the loss. No, the most interesting part of the match happened in the ensuing chaos of the match’s completion. He did not, unfortunately, hear what was said, but to say Harry was shocked when Neville Longbottom threw himself at Draco Malfoy, knocking the blond to the floor as the Gryffindor unloaded punches on him would have been a massive understatement. Before he knew it, Charlus and Ron had entered the fray, as had Crabbe, Goyle and Nott. Harry’s hand twitched towards his wand, but Daphne’s “don’t you dare” stare made him falter.
In the end, Malfoy left with a black eye and busted lip, Neville with a bloody nose, Charlus and Nott… well, he was not sure, their duel had sort of spiralled out of control and they had been surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. Weasley, who had been dumb enough to try and take on Crabbe and Goyle at the same time landed himself in the hospital wing, but Harry could not force himself to care.
‘Not what I had in mind, Longbottom, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.’
Two brief notes to clear some things up.
Firstly, Neville is not going to become super close with Harry anytime soon if at all. I have seen them be the best of friends in so many Slytherin Harry stories and I have no desire to blindly follow that cliché. I am establishing the beginnings of that trope, but I intend to subvert it in time and it is not going the way you think it will.
Secondly, before anybody tries to correct me in the reviews, I am aware that it is said in HBP that Blaise’s Mother has been widowed seven times, not six. This is deliberate on my part, not an error. For now, let’s just say that the events of HBP are still four years away and leave it at that.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be posted next Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 at approximately 3:00 PM EST.
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