Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 16: The Dragon’s Wrath Part II (It Gets Worse)
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May 8th 1992.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Draco waited and waited alongside Daniel, Andrew and Theodore for Charlus Potter and his group of morons to hand deliver them the dragon. As midnight approached, Draco started to get twitchy. According to the letter he had nicked from Weasley’s hospital bed after he must have been bit by the bloody creature, the dragon was supposed to be moved now. Part of him, the Slytherin part, he suspected, thought that this would be the most elaborate, but most perfect setup ever if the lions had staged Weasley ending up in the hospital wing just to assure that their true plan went undiscovered. The less paranoid, more rational side of Draco knew, however, that none of that lot was that clever. Granger was an academic brainiac for certain, but Draco wouldn’t classify her as clever or cunning, per se.
Then he saw it, a single figure, wrapped in a black cloak, making his way carefully around the corner while holding a large, blank crate.
Before Draco could muse on the fact that there was only one figure, there was movement from beside him. The figure never even saw Daniel’s bludgeoning hex coming, and before the crate could hit the ground and infuriate the creature within, Macnair caught it with a levitation charm. Quickly and quietly, all four Slytherins converged on the fallen figure.
“Bet you didn’t expect us, did you Po-“ Draco’s sentence caught in his throat. It was not a pair of deep, warm, hazel eyes staring up at him. Instead, it was a set of intense, emerald green ones that were filled entirely with pure, unadulterated hatred.
The Previous Night.
An Abandoned Classroom.
In the minutes that passed following Malfoy and his goons’ exit from the classroom, Harry’s mental state was in a constant flux between terrified and homicidal. If he could just break out of these stupid bindings — oh, what he would do to Malfoy! But if he didn’t… would he really go to Azkaban? Would his Father really disinherit him?
‘Think, Potter, think!’
But he couldn’t. There was too much emotion clouding his logical thought process, and even his memory could not break through the haze of fury and panic. Unbidden, so many long passed memories fluttered to the surface of his mind’s eye like a flock of persistent birds, their wings beating ruthlessly against the edges of Harry’s mind’s eye. Too many memories of being helpless, trapped and afraid.
‘Emotion… suppress… clear… clearing of the mind!’
Harry had never tried to actually clear his mind as thus far, he had only performed the preparatory meditation exercises. That was not even accounting for the fact that if he tried it, he would have to do so while trying to think cognitively at the same time as being in a high pressure situation. But then again, he had never successfully cast the Protego shield before the troll had bore down on him all those months ago. Remembering the instructions in his guide to the mind arts he had received from Charlotte, Harry did his best to follow them.
The phrase “clearing the mind” was, according to the book, misleading. It was impossible to just “clear your mind.” Instead, what the book suggested was to think up an image, preferably one with little to no detail but one that could be recalled at a split second’s notice. Harry’s memory made this process rather trivial, but he had his image nonetheless. From there, one had to allow that image to consume not just their mind’s eye but their entire mind as well. If one could manage it, wrap their magic around the image. If not, they would simply have to allow the thoughts crashing through their minds to pass, which would be far easier in this state of mind. If they had exceptional control over their magic, however, one could use that to reinforce the image and by extension, their mind.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep, centering breath as he called up the image of the underside of a very familiar set of stairs in Surrey. He managed to hold the state for about thirty seconds. He tried again — a minute. Again — a minute and a half. Several tries later, Harry had managed to hold the state for what felt like five minutes and by now, he was ready to try and think controlled, measured thoughts at the same time. Usually, the clearing of one’s mind was practiced as a singular skill for some time before controlling and moderating one’s thoughts were brought into the equation, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
If the first step had taken him an agonizingly long time, this took ages. The light was no longer filtering in the window by the time Harry had managed any degree of success but slowly, ever so slowly, he was doing it.
Eventually, he managed to think with no emotions in the way and he could dedicate the entirety of his mind to this one problem.
Once he managed that, it took a surprisingly short amount of time for him to come to a solution.
Frankly, Harry had managed feats of magic without a wand before, but he was not even remotely delusional enough to think he could break the ropes with wandless magic. That form of magic was something he had very briefly read on in a more advanced version of Magical Theory. It turned out the skill was extremely rare, but Harry had always been quite adept at it.
His wrists were bound too tightly to activate his holster, but he didn’t need it. With a thought, his wand snapped into his palm. His wandless arsenal was extremely limited, hence why breaking the ropes had not been an option. Summoning, locking, unlocking, warming himself, lighting a light bulb and maybe repairing things, but fortunately, he only needed to summon his wand, once he did, it was all academic.
The ropes fell away and Harry let out a gasp of relief. Beyond the panic that accompanied the threat of Azkaban and the possibility of being disinherited, there was nothing in the world that Harry hated more than being confined, vulnerable and helpless. His body shook with relief for several minutes, and Harry had to actively clear his mind once more to prevent tears of relief from streaming down his face.
When he finally had a handle on himself, Harry reached into his bag and pulled out the piece of parchment linked to his brother’s.
I know it’s late, but we need to talk now!
Take the cloak and meet me by the tree line of the forbidden forest as soon as possible.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“Potter?” Draco heard himself ask in absolute awe. “How the hell did you get out?”
Andrew and Theodore looked equally shocked but luckily for the four of them, Daniel maintained his composure.
“It doesn’t matter; this only makes it easier for us. We don’t have to get him and we’ve got him at the scene of the crime. Let’s take him to Snape.” he turned to Harry, quickly resting his wand away from him and binding his hands behind his back with conjured ropes. “So, how’d you get out, Potter? And what are you doing here?”
“How I got out is none of your concern, Selwyn!” Harry bit back harshly. “I’m here because I convinced my brother to let me take the dragon. I didn’t trust my fate in the hands of Gryffindors, thank you very much!”
It was almost true.
The Previous Night.
The Grounds of Hogwarts.
Harry could have sighed aloud in relief as Charlus threw the cloak off of himself and looked at his brother. “What the hell did you-“ but he paused. Harry had healed the cut he had made on his own lip using the Episkey charm that Calypso had taught him, but quite a bit of blood had spilled onto his robes and he was a bit pale. On top of that, his eyes, which were normally restrained, were glowing like the flaming pits of hell in the vivid darkness.
“Shut up and listen!” Harry hissed to Charlus and for once, his twin listened without a second thought. “Malfoy knows exactly what you’re doing tomorrow and he’s planning to intercept the dragon, have an older friend of his put memory charms on you lot, and frame me for dragon smuggling; which would not only land me in Azkaban for five years, but would get me disinherited from the Potter family.”
Charlus’s face was slack with shock. “How do you know all this?” he asked, clearly dumbstruck.
“Because him, Nott and a couple older Slytherins just tied me up in a room, hit me with a few curses and Malfoy ran his mouth about his entire plan.” Harry scowled, taking on the distinct look of somebody who was about to say something that physically pained them. “It’s not a bad plan.”
“We’re done for.” Charlus whispered. “It’s too late to get Charlie to back out now. The plan was to sneak the dragon up to the top of the Astronomy Tower under the cloak so Ron’s older brother who works with dragons could send a few of his mates to pick it up.” Charlus shook his head, clearly distraught. “He’s in Romania! He’ll never get the letter in time; we’re finished!”
“No,” said Harry with fiery determination that Charlus had never seen in his brother, “you’re not.”
“Because you’re going to let me come tomorrow night, and you’re going to do this my way!”
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Macnair snorted. “And how did that work out for you, Potter?”
“Not quite as well as I’d hoped.” Harry answered dryly as he was hauled to his feet and led back the way he had come. Malfoy’s constant string of taunts did not waver as they neared the dungeons and Snape’s office. Harry’s heart quickened by the moment. The fear of Azkaban and of being disinherited had returned now. What if he had bit off more than he could chew? What if this plan really did backfire? He clamped down on that thought hard. He couldn’t doubt himself; he had to believe in his plan.
The dragon crate was being levitated by Macnair and there was no sound from within the crate itself.
By the time Malfoy knocked pompously on Snape’s door, it was past midnight, and Harry’s heart was about ready to leap into his throat.
It took a few rounds of knocks but eventually, Snape threw the door open, a look of contorted fury twisting his features as he glared out at them. “What is the-“ but then his eyes took in the scene. Malfoy, Nott, Macnair and Selwyn floating a mysterious crate and clearly marshalling a terrified looking Harry Potter. “Selwyn!” Snape snapped at the prefect. “What is the meaning of all of this?”
“It’s Potter, sir.” Selwyn said smoothly. “Draco here got wind of Potter’s plan to help the oaf, Hagrid, sneak a dragon off the grounds. Apparently, Hagrid has been raising the thing and needed to get rid of it.”
For a second, Harry thought he saw something flash in Snape’s eyes that made him even more wary… disbelief.
“Is this true, Potter?”
“Y-y-yes sir.” Harry lied, praying to any deity that may or may not exist that Snape took his word.
“All of you, inside.” he said, stepping to the side. “I need to call the aurors.” His lip curled. “One of whom, coincidentally, Potter, just happens to be your father.”
“Professor,” Malfoy simpered, “could you call my father in as well? He’s on the board of governors, you see? I’m sure he would love to see this first hand, and I’m sure he would be very appreciative for your help.”
“Very well.” Snape agreed curtly, rushing into his private quarters with an unreadable expression to floo call Lord Malfoy and the aurors.
“I don’t know how you got out, Potter,” Malfoy whispered gleefully, “but it’s over now! You’re going to Azkaban and then it’s game over!” Harry’s only thought was that he had to keep them talking.
“My father won’t send me to Azkaban.”
“He won’t have a choice with mine here.” Draco drawled importantly. “Your father’s an idiot, Potter. Mine will have him trapped in a corner faster than you can even say Azkaban.” he smirked at the horrified expression on Harry’s face. He was clearly loving every single second of this. “I thought there was hope for you, you know?” he continued. “But now I see I was wrong. You’re as Gryffindorishly stupid as your brother. You picked the wrong enemy and even when you managed to luck your way out of the trap from earlier, you still didn’t have the brains to go to a teacher. No, big heroic Harry Potter was coming to save the day! What’s the matter, Potter? Were you sick of living in your brother’s shadow? Did you think doing something so stupidly heroic would change that?”
Suddenly, they were interrupted by the sudden whoosh of the fire and a moment later, three Aurors stepped into the room. Harry recognized one of them as his father. The other two both trained their wands on Harry at once. One was a tall, black skinned man with an impressive physique and who wore the same badge as his father that identified him as a Senior Auror. The other was a standard auror by the look of it. He had short cropped brown hair and dark brown eyes.
“Harry,” asked James painfully, “what the hell’s going on?”
“Stand down, James.” the dark skinned man said in a deep, baritone voice. “No interrogations until the evidence has been gathered.”
The other auror scoffed. “Come off it, Kingsley. We have the word of three Heirs of Ancient and Most Noble Houses and a Hogwarts Professor. Do we even need any more evidence?”
“I don’t trust the word of children here!” James hissed, his voice quiet but deadly. “And the word of Snivellus counts for even-“
“I hope you don’t mean to imply that my son is untrustworthy, Senior Auror.” said a smooth, calm drawl from behind them. Snape had re-entered the room but he was not alone. A tall man joined him, one with the same platinum blonde hair as Draco as well as the same cold grey eyes. Harry recognized the man and his cane from the Samhain gathering at Weitts manor.
“And if I am?”
“Then I will happily sue you upon the proof of my son’s accusations.”
“Your son is a-“
“Can we get this over with?” Snape asked with obvious annoyance, levelling a borderline murderous glare on James. “I would quite like to get to bed and I dare say I will have to write up expulsion papers.”
“Do we not need the Headmaster?” the man named Kingsley asked.
“No,” Lucius said promptly, “I am present as a representative of the board of governors and Severus is the boy’s head of house. We will proceed now.” There was an evil glint in Lucius’s eyes and as much as Harry hated Draco in this moment, he feared Lucius far more. There was so much cunning, so much danger in those pale grey eyes.
“Very well,” Kingsley said, “John, James, cover the crate while I open it, will you? I’m not sure what breed we’re dealing with here, so the thing might be quick. It’s young, so three stunners should take it down.”
“I will help.” Lucius declared, sliding his wand smoothly from his sleeve and taking aim.
Harry’s heart was in his throat. Any second now, the game was up.
“On my count; Kingsley, you unlock on one!” James said, looking as if he would be violently ill as his eyes flickered back and forth between the crate and Harry. Harry could only think that however terrible James was feeling right now, he was feeling a hundred times worse
“Three, two, one!”
The crate sprung open and before the aurors and Lord Malfoy could even get their stunners off, the room fell completely silent.
There, in the crate was no dragon. As a matter of fact, there was nothing in the crate at all. It was completely, undoubtedly empty.
Macnair’s next words summed up everyone’s feelings in the room except for Harry’s.
“What the fuck?!!”
The Previous Night.
The Grounds of Hogwarts.
Charlus blinked. “Didn’t you want nothing to do with this?”
“Yes, and I still don’t.”
“What? But you just-“
“I want no part of it the way you’ve planned it out and I would be as far away from this thing as possible. But Malfoy and his group of lackeys took that option away from me and made it personal.” Harry then dawned a smirk that was far too evil for any eleven year old boy to wear. “Now, I’m going to make him pay for it.”
“You, Weasley and Granger will take the dragon as planned, but you’ll do so on broomsticks. You can bring the cloak or not, the important thing is, Malfoy, his goons and maybe any teachers he tips off will be waiting in the castle. If you avoid the castle itself, you’ll have zero problems.”
Charlus gaped at him. “That’s… uh, actually really clever.”
“No need for the tone of surprise, little brother.”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Sure thing, Charlie.”
Charlus scowled. “You’re impossible!”
“Yet you came running back to me.”
“Oh… shut up! That’s a good plan, but what does it have to do with Malfoy?”
Harry’s grin turned feral once more. “Ah, excellent question, Charlus. You see, that’s where I come in. When you and your friends are bringing the real dragon up to the tower unopposed, I will be freely walking into Draco’s trap.”
“With a decoy crate that is completely empty.”
Charlus’s jaw fell open. “Harry,” he breathed, “you do realize what that’ll mean, don’t you?”
“Yup.” Harry said almost cheerfully, popping the P as he did so.”Malfoy, Nott, Selwyn and Macnair will all be caught for levelling false accusations at the Heir of an Ancient and Most Noble House. Father will probably blast it out to the media in an effort to get at Lucius Malfoy, and he’ll probably sue the lot of them for a heap of galleons each.”
Now, it was Charlus’s turn to grin. “That’s evil.” he commended. “Brilliant, but evil!” He screwed up his face, clearly about to say something unpleasant. “I never thought I would say this and if anyone asks, I will deny it until the day I die, but I like the way you Snakes think sometimes!”
May 9th 1992.
The Great Hall.
Lord James Charlus Potter Accuses Three Heirs of Ancient and Most Noble Houses of Slander and False Accusations; Plans To Sue Each Family This Summer and More!
By Rita Skeeter.
“How delightful.” Harry commented on the headline that greeted him as he slid into a seat beside Blaise and across from Daphne the morning after the dragon fiasco. It was the latest he had ever woken up at Hogwarts, but seeing as he had not even returned to the dormitory until after 2:00 AM, it was not all that surprising. All four of his friends’ attention snapped to him immediately.
“Where the hell have you been?” raged Daphne. “We haven’t seen you for almost two days and we’ve been worried sick!”
“Speak for yourself, Greengrass.” Blaise said languidly as he sipped his tea. “I, for one, had full and complete confidence in Harry.”
Daphne’s icy glare was enough to shut up even Blaise. “Yes, because you nervously pointing out the way Malfoy kept smirking at us was the perfect image of confidence, Zabini!” she snapped her head towards Harry so fast her hair flipped over her opposite shoulder. “Well?”
Harry hesitated, making sure nobody was in ear shot before he spoke. “The Den tonight, after curfew.”
Daphne looked livid but nodded her head anyways.
“Well, I’m blissfully clueless and all that,” Blaise said cheerfully as he gestured towards the article in the prophet, “but beautifully done, my friend, beautifully done.”
Harry could not suppress his grin. “I’m sure I don’t have any idea what you’re referring to, Zabini?”
“Ah yes, how foolish of me to assume you would.” Blaise added with a smirk of his own, sliding Daphne’s prophet under Harry’s nose.
Curious as to how the prophet would spin it, Harry began to read.
Over the past number of hours, a shocking tale has come to light involving four Heirs to some of the most prominent houses of Magical Britain. This morning, I had the rare pleasure of speaking to one Lord James Charlus Potter; father of Charlus Potter Jr, The-Boy-Who-Lived, as well as one of the Senior Aurors employed by the DMLE.
According to Lord Potter, he along with two other colleagues were summoned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry late last night to investigate the actions of one Harry James Potter, Lord Potter’s elder son and Heir. According to Lord Potter, his son had been dragged into a teacher’s office by the Heirs to Houses Malfoy, Nott, Macnair and Selwyn. The four Heirs allegedly accused Heir Potter of smuggling a live dragon out of the castle.
Upon further investigation, it was proven that Heir Potter did no such thing at all and Lord Potter was justifiably furious at the slander of his eldest son.
“Trust Lucius Malfoy to come up with something like this,” he told me, “I doubt the kids had much to do with it. It was probably just Malfoy’s attempt to sabotage me, my career and my family, but fortunately, it went wrong.”
Lord Potter announced this morning that he will be formally pressing charges against the Malfoy, Macnair, Nott and Selwyn families respectively this summer, but would not give any more details on this scandal.
This calls into question not only the morality of the heads of house Malfoy, Nott, Selwyn and Macnair, but also the future of our society. If four children destined to take the helm of powerful, influential families are committing such heinous crimes before they have even taken, or in the case of Heirs Malfoy and Nott, thought of their O.W.L exams, what does that say for the future of our society? Lord Malfoy was acquitted of any ties to The Dark Lady over ten years ago now, but is it at all possible he is raising his son to harbour any of her philosophies?
For an in-depth look at Lord Malfoy’s legal past, turn to page 4.
For information on the equally murky pasts of Lords Nott, Macnair and Selwyn, see pages 5, 6 and 7 respectively.
“She doesn’t pull any punches, does she?” Harry asked with some satisfaction once he’d finished.
Blaise laughed. “Not Skeeter. That woman is a harpy, but useful when she’s on your side.” he frowned. “Honestly, I’m not sure she’s ever been on your father’s side before, but I suppose when she can get a title like that out of it…” he let the thought trail off.
Just then, Malfoy sauntered into The Great Hall alongside Crabbe and Goyle. To Harry’s great amusement, he did not take his customary seat with Macnair and his friends. Their eyes met for the briefest of seconds and Malfoy dipped his head in a subtle yet distinctive gesture.
May 9th 1992.
The Speaker’s Den.
“So you mean to tell me that your brother smuggled a dragon out of the castle without a hitch while you perfectly framed Selwyn, Macnair, Nott and Malfoy, ruining the latter’s reputation in the process?” Blaise asked in awe.
“Pretty much.” Harry said upon the conclusion of the tale involving the dragon.
“That was beyond reckless!” Daphne scolded. “What would have happened if Selwyn or Macnair just opened the crate before they got to Snape’s office?”
“They weren’t going to.” Harry said with disgust. “They were too busy gloating.”
“But what if-“
“Drop it, Greengrass.” Blaise drawled lazily. “It’s over and it worked to perfection, so let it go.” Daphne glared at him, but with visible reluctance, she did indeed let it go.
“Well, not quite perfectly.” Harry sighed. “I’ve got a detention some time coming up. Snape said he’d inform me when it got closer.”
“How did you get in trouble?” Tracey asked bemusedly.
“I blatantly broke curfew by almost two hours.” Harry deadpanned. “The reasoning may have been justified, but that didn’t stop the bat from putting me in detention anyway.” he sighed. “He didn’t take points though. Malfoy, Nott, Macnair and Selwyn have detentions with him until at least the end of the year. After that he said he’d be re-evaluating.” he drew air quotes around the ‘re-evaluating’ bit.
“Worth it.” Daphne noted savagely. “I just hope the little brat doesn’t try something again.”
“I don’t think he will,” Harry said quietly, remembering the way that Malfoy had ducked his head at the table earlier that same day, “I really don’t think he will.”
Meanwhile, In The Slytherin Dormitories.
In the privacy of his bed with the curtains drawn, Draco read over the letter he had received that morning from his father for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. He still had absolutely no idea how to feel about it.
I will tell you this once and once only; there will be no more antagonizing the Potter Heir. Like it or not, the half-blood has proven to be a dangerous opponent for you; one that you have proven yourself incapable of handling, at least for now.
I do not care what your relationship looks like with him from here on out, but do not dare risk another shred of our family’s reputation by antagonizing him further.
We will speak more on this in the summer.
Enjoy the remainder of your school year,
May 10th 1992.
So you and your friends got the dragon to Weasley’s brother without any issues last night?
Yup. I’m guessing your plan went well too, based on the Prophet?
Good to hear; no trouble or anything?
I have a detention coming up, but nothing beyond that, no.
Well that’s stupid, but worth it to take Malfoy down a peg or two.
Some sacrifices unfortunately have to be made.
May 26th 1992.
The Entrance Hall.
Harry, as he had been told to do, made himself present promptly and punctually at 8:00 on the designated night of his detention. His face twisted into a subtle scowl when he saw the figure of Argus Filch looming nearby and though he masked it, he would have scowled far more harshly as Malfoy, Nott, Macnair and Selwyn quickly joined them in the hall.
“What’s he doing here?” Macnair snarled, glaring hatefully at Harry.
“You’re all in trouble for the same thing, aren’t you?” Filch asked snidely. “Makes sense you get the same punishment, doesn’t it?”
Macnair scowled. “You’re not one to talk about sense, squib. You shouldn’t even be at this school!”
Filch glared hatefully back at Macnair. “Oh, trust me, boy, if I could leave, I’d have got the hell out of here years ago!” Harry noted how odd that wording was, but honestly, he didn’t care enough about the Caretaker to do more than take note of it. “Now, hurry up, let’s go!” Holding a lantern in front of him, Filch led them not towards a Professor’s classroom or the Trophy Room, or any such normal destination for a standard Hogwarts detention. Instead, Filch led them straight towards the doors leading out onto the grounds, and it was not until they had stepped outside did Malfoy speak for the first time.
“Where are you taking us?”
For the first time, Filch allowed a twisted smile to grace his wrinkled lips. “The Forest is where you’re going tonight.” he said happily. “If I had my way, you’d be strung up in the dungeons by your wrists and ankles, but this’ll do alright too, eh?”
“But-but there are supposed to be werewolves in there!” Malfoy protested, suddenly sounding nothing like the pureblood Heir he was supposed to be as they drew nearer and nearer to Hagrid’s hut and the border of the Forbidden Forest.
Filch’s malevolent smile only widened. “Should’ve thought of that before you broke the rules, shouldn’t you?”
“Is tha’ you Filch?” boomed a thundering, familiar voice from out of the darkness up ahead and suddenly, Harry wasn’t sure if he felt more or less worried as the gigantic form of Hagrid came into sight, scowling at Filch. “Been terrorizin’ ‘em, have ya? Well, that’s not yeh’re job ya awful old prune. I’ll take ‘em from here.”
Filch scowled. “You shouldn’t be too nice to them, Hagrid.” Filch admonished. “They’re in detention after-“
“Ya ya, and ya probably want to string ‘em up by their wrists and ankles, don’t ya? Or maybe break out the old screws and thumb tacks?” he shook his great bushy head in disgust. “I told ya I’ll take ‘em from here. Get lost.” Filch scowled again but reluctantly turned on his heel and began to shuffle his way back up towards the castle.
“I’m not going in that forest!” Malfoy said as soon as Filch was out of earshot. “This is ridiculous! This is servant’s work! We should be writing lines or-
Hagrid snorted. “Yeh‘ll do what yeh’re told if you wan’ to stay at Hogwarts. Writin’ lines? And what good’ll that do, eh? Nah, yeh’ll do some’in useful or yeh’ll go and pack yeh’re trunk. If ya think yeh’re father’d rather ya were expelled, be me guest, yeh’re free to go.”
Malfoy didn’t move.
“Righ’ then.” Hagrid said with noticeable satisfaction, “what ya’s will be doin’ tonight is helpin’ me track down a unicorn tha’s been hurt by some’in in the forest. Found one dead in their las’ Wednesday and there’s blood spattered all over, see?” he pointed to the outskirts of the forest. There was indeed faint trails of a silvery substance that Harry assumed was unicorn blood spattered across the grass. “I reckon the thing’s been stumblin’ around in there for days.” he suddenly looked sad. “I think we might have to put it out o’ its misery.” he looked at the five of them. “Right then, we’re gonna split up into two teams. One team’ll go with me, the other’ll go with Fang.” he patted the head of his great boar hound.
“I want Fang!” Malfoy said at once.
Hagrid snorted once more. “Suit yehrself, but he’s a right coward.” He looked over them again. “Right. Malfoy, Nott and,” he paused for a fraction of a second too long, “Harry’ll go with Fang. Macnair and Selwyn, you two are comin’ with me.”
Hagrid made them prove their competence with shooting up green and red sparks and then the two groups embarked on their separate journeys into the forest. Harry, Malfoy and Nott wandered aimlessly for ages. Covertly, Harry noticed Nott shooting him vengeful glares.
“If you try and curse me,” Harry told him bluntly, “I’ll make sure you end up at the feet of whatever’s been killing unicorns.” That stopped Nott cold. He did not stop glaring, but the glares carried far less intent from that point onward.
After what felt like hours, the three Slytherin first years noticed that the thin trail of silvery blood that they had been following this whole time began to thicken. Suddenly, they stepped into a patch of moonlight unobstructed by the canopy of leaves above their head and their breath caught as one.
In the clearing ahead, illuminated by the sudden unhindered flow of moonlight was a glowing silvery creature who was laying completely still. In its side was a large, painful looking gash and pooled around it was that same, silvery substance they had been following all night. In the moonlight, it seemed to sparkle mockingly as if it were some child’s glitter. Harry thought the irony of such a contradiction of the truth was almost painful. He was not an emotional person by any means, but he found his very heart aching for the unicorn in front of him.
Then, all sentimentalities were wiped clean from his mind when a bush rustled and a hooded figure stepped out into the clearing.
“Ahhhh!” Malfoy screamed before booking it immediately. Before Harry could do so much as move, Nott had shoved him forward, hard, and sprinted off himself. Harry stumbled and just barely managed to stay upright before he looked up and gazed at the hooded figure. He was not able to tell anything of its identity from this vantage point. Then, before he could do so much as summon his wand to defend himself, his scar exploded in pure, unadulterated agony, and Harry fell to his knees as a gut wrenching scream was torn from his lungs.
Luckily, this pain lasted only seconds as vaguely, as if from far away, Harry heard what sounded like the pounding of too many legs and then, mercifully, it was over. Slowly and shakily, Harry raised his head and allowed his jaw to fall open at what stood in front of him. The creature was taller than any man not named Hagrid and had a young, regal face. It’s lower half, however, was that of a well kept palomino.
“Harry Potter.” the centaur said in a low, quiet voice. It was not a question.
“Y-y-yes, sir.” Harry said as he shakily managed to climb to his feet. If he was less rattled, he may have wondered how the hell this creature knew who he was.
As if in answer to Harry’s question, the centaur gazed absentmindedly towards the heavens before looking back towards Harry. “Mars is very bright tonight.” it said conversationally. “As is Mercury, for that matter.”
Harry had read something about centaurs using astronomy as a sort of divination, but he had no idea what that meant. He knew, of course, that Mars and Mercury were planets in The Milky Way. The only other connection he could make, and he assumed this was probably it, was that in Roman mythology, Mars was one of Rome’s patron gods of war, and Mercury was the god of quite a few things; merchants, travellers, thieves…
“Uh… yeah.” Harry answered. “What-what was that?”
The centaur appraised him. “Can you ride?” it asked instead of answering. “It will be quicker this way and the forest is not safe, least of all for you.” Harry had no idea what the centaur meant by that statement, but he did not question it. Instead, he simply clambered onto the creature’s back and allowed it to carry him through the forest. Once they were a safe distance away, the centaur endeavoured to answer Harry with a question of its own.
“Do you know what unicorn blood is used for?”
“It has extremely powerful healing and restorative properties.” Harry said without missing a beat.
“Do you know what would happen if one drank unicorn blood?”
Harry paused and thought for a moment. “Not exactly, no.”
“Unicorn blood would save a witch or wizard’s life even if they were on the brink of death.” the centaur told him. “Or,” it said, as an air of unmistakable significance crept its way into the creature’s voice, “it would serve to strengthen one more effectively than any mere potion.” it paused. “Do you see the flaw in this yet?”
“No.” Harry answered attentively, feeling uncharacteristically clueless but enjoying the learning experience if nothing else.
“Magic centres around many things, Harry Potter.” the centaur told him. “One that some of your kind is fixated quite powerfully on is intent. Another is fate. Another still,” he said, his voice rising a touch in volume and significance still, “is balance. Magic does not just give infinitely. There are certain kinds of magics that require take, sacrifice.”
“I’m guessing that unicorn blood falls into that category.” Harry theorized quietly.
“It does indeed.” the centaur affirmed. “It does, after all, seem too good to be true, doesn’t it?” It did. “To live a life granted or extended by unicorn blood is to live a half life.” the centaur said at long last. “A cursed life, if you will. You have harmed something so good and so pure, magic very rarely lets you do such a thing without great sacrifices in the future.”
“But who would be that desperate?” Harry asked. He didn’t think that the figure in the clearing had looked too badly off.
“Can you think of no one?” the centaur asked him darkly. “No one who would go to such lengths to regain the power they once wielded? No one who has bided their time for years? No one who may wish to meet Harry Potter alone in a clearing in the dead of night?”
And it clicked; Harry actually gasped — he never gasped.
“Voldemort.” he breathed in little more than a whisper. The centaur nodded solemnly but then, something else clicked in Harry’s mind. “Hang on; you said that Voldemort would want to meet me in a clearing? Why me? It’s Charlus she should want.”
The centaur did not answer until after they had encountered a number of other centaurs who were furious with Firenze, and then, minutes later, when the figures of Hagrid, Nott, Malfoy, Macnair and Selwyn came into focus. “You both have a role to play.” were Firenze’s parting words to Harry as he allowed him to slide off of his back and take his place among his companions.
May 28th 1992.
By the time Harry was done recounting the story of the forest and Firenze’s words to Charlus, his twin was gaping back at him like a fish out of water. Harry hadn’t even told Blaise, Daphne or Tracey the bit about Voldemort, though they had heard an unfiltered version of everything else, hooded figure and all. Truthfully, Harry had no idea what Daphne’s family’s alliances were, and he was even less sure about Blaise’s. Tracey would probably have been safe, but she couldn’t keep a secret from Daphne if her life depended on it.
“She-she’s back?” Charlus asked.
Harry frowned at the question. “I don’t think she is.” he answered carefully. “Not really, anyways. Firenze really made it sound like she needed that blood to survive. Maybe she’s got herself a temporary body, or something?” he looked pointedly at Charlus. “It would explain why she’s after the Stone.”
“I guess,” Charlus said, clearly worried, “but if she gets the Stone-“
“She won’t,” Harry said pointedly, “they say the only one she ever feared was Dumbledore. If that’s even remotely true, I can’t see her making a move under his nose.” That was a lie, but Harry did not want Charlus rushing after the greatest dark sorceress in a thousand years due to a misguided sense of self-obligation.
Charlus frowned. “I guess.” Harry could tell he wasn’t convinced.
Harry sighed and leant forwards. “Charlus, I have never asked you for anything in my life; I am asking you now to promise me, whatever happens, you won’t go rushing off after Voldemort.”
“Harry, I can’t-“
Charlus hesitated. “I promise.”
June 4th 1992.
The Grounds of Hogwarts
Harry would be lying if he did not admit a small amount of relief upon the conclusion of his final exam, History of Magic. He had stopped coming to the class back in September, having frequently used that period to either explore the Castle or practice magic. He had faith in his memory and the textbook, but it was still nerve wracking to take a test for a class he had barely attended.
In spite of that, he breezed through his History of Magic exam just as he had the rest. Astronomy was the one he was by far least sure of. He really hadn’t put a whole lot of effort into the subject. He considered it abstract at best, useless at worst. He felt that Herbology had gone reasonably well, as had Potions. He had debated coming up with a showcase worthy of the O+ in the class but it just hadn’t been feasible. He had spent so much time working on his idea for Defense that he just couldn’t come up with something that Snape would grant him an O+ on.
Charms and Transfiguration were simple and he was certain he had the O+ in Transfiguration, and as near as he could be in Charms. He had lazily transfigured his mouse into a snuff box and then conjured water using Aguamenti. The feat actually had McGonagall gaping. It was a sixth year spell after all. It could technically be classed as a charm, but it was still a conjuration, and though it was naturally the easiest as it was considered a “natural conjuration” due to the fact humans were made up mainly of water, which, for some reason, made the spell easier to cast, it was still a conjuration at the end of the day.
For Charms, he had charmed his tea cup to tap dance, as asked, and then hit it with a cheering charm, a devilishly difficult third year charm that had taken him several hours of practice, before setting it to another routine.
The most stressful by far had been defense. When Harry had completed the exam, he had opened his mouth to ask for the chance at extra credit but Hurst hadn’t even given him the option. “Well, Harry, what do you have for me now?”
He had to resist the impulse to gape. “Professor?”
“Come, Harry; with the amount of time we have spent together this year, I would be ashamed of myself if I did not know you at least a little bit.” she smiled. “Both of us would be disappointed if you did not give the O+ performance a try. So, what do you have for me?”
Harry’s visage became hard and determined. “Fire spells at me.” he told her. “Low level to start please, and start slow. You can work your way up as you see fit.”
Professor Hurst’s eyebrows rose but she raised her wand. “On your command.” Harry nodded.
Spell deflection had been as difficult as Professor Hurst had promised. He had practiced relentlessly in the dungeon classroom with Daphne, Tracey and Blaise over the past few months and only recently had he pulled it off at all.
At the last second, he swatted at the incoming spell with a quick, precise strike and sent it spiralling off to the right.
Professor Hurst’s eyes gleamed as she raised her wand again. “Furnunculus.”
Again, Harry thought of the incantation, intent, and nature of the oncoming spell intensely before he managed to bat it away.
This went on for a few more minutes, with Professor Hurst’s spells increasing in power before finally, Harry fell to a full-body-bind.
“Full marks and then some.” she told him with an open smile. When he looked surprised, she waved her hand. “There is no need for secrets, Harry. This is the last time we will see each other in such a formal setting, after all, and we both know you did what you needed and more to achieve the grade.”
“What do you mean last time we’ll be seeing each other in a formal setting, professor?”
Professor Hurst smiled. “The curse on the Defense Against The Dark Arts position is more than just a myth, Harry. I was not foolish enough to promise Professor Dumbledore any more than one year of service. I will be leaving Hogwarts at the conclusion of the school year.” she smiled at him, waving her wand and causing something to float over to them. “I decided, however, that I would get you this.” Professor Hurst handed him what appeared to be a blank book. “Enchant you this would be more accurate. It will supply you with endless pages and will turn to the desired page with a thought. When you write down an idea or concept, it will automatically link that concept with information you have written down before and try to help you come to a conclusion.” Harry was actually gaping at her now as she smiled back at him. “You are a brilliant mind, Harry. I would not see such a mind go to waste. One day, I have every confidence that your thinking will change the world, and I would love to be a part of it.”
That had been days ago.
Now, Harry simply laid back in front of the lake with Daphne, Tracey, Blaise, Calypso, Cassius, Hestia and Flora as they all talked and joked. It was almost as though they were just normal muggle kids and there were no plots obviously going on around them…
June 4th 1992.
The Gryffindor Dormitory.
Upon the effects of Hermione’s full-body-bind curse wearing off, there were five long minutes where Neville was unsure of what to do. Then, he defaulted to the one thing, the one person he trusted more than any other in the castle. The question was, how to contact him? And then he had remembered Charlus telling Ron something about a piece of parchment the Headmaster had enchanted to allow him to communicate with Harry.
It took Neville half an hour to find it, buried at the bottom of Charlus’s trunk but when he did, he scribbled one, simple, urgent message.
Harry, it’s Neville.
Charlus, Ron and Hermione are gone from the common room.
I’m afraid they might be going to do something stupid; they were really jumpy when I tried to stop them.
Thought you ought to know.
I did say things would get worse, didn’t I?
One more chapter to go for year 1 and you are all in for several more twists and turns than any of you bargained for, so buckle up and expect the unexpected!
Please read and review.
PS: Year 1’s final chapter will be posted next Saturday, June 6th 2020 at approximately 3:00 PM EST.
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