Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 6: Emotions and Enigmas
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.
Acknowledgement: Thank you as always to my betas Umar, Luq707, Yoshi89 and Fezzik for their incredible work on this story.
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August 1, 1992
Mundungus Fletcher was rather rudely awakened from his position, sleeping and sprawled out behind one of the many dilapidated shops that were dotted all through the sketchier side of the alley. He had only vague recollections of laying down here at all. Seeing as he had been drinking last night, such a thing was not overly surprising. Unfortunately, this meant that he woke up with quite the nasty hangover and as a result, quite the unpleasant mood. Mundungus had half a mind to curse the pricks who had woken him up, but when he spotted the two figures standing near him, all of those instincts were wiped clean from his mind.
Both of the figures were massive. Probably about six and a half feet tall and built like tanks. Beyond that, nothing of their appearances could be discerned, for they each wore long, black cloaks that covered their bodies and had their hoods pulled up over their heads. That meant that in the darkness brought on by the dead of night, Mundungus had no idea who his visitors were. Well, not who they were exactly, but he had a good idea as to why they were here.
“Does your boss have another job for old Dung?” Mundungus asked a bit hoarsely. It had been awhile since he had spoken to anybody at all and his voice did not seem to be eager to comply with the demands of his brain. He had seen these two figures before. After all, they stood out rather plainly, even without having ever seen their faces. Truthfully, Mundungus didn’t care for either of them, but their boss paid well, which was all he could really ask.
“He does.” the one on the right said in a deep, strong voice. “This job’ll be complicated though, so take it or leave it.”
Mundungus grunted and rolled his eyes. “How complicated we talkin’?” he asked, beady eyes narrowing upon the two of them. In hushed whispers, the two figures told Mundungus exactly what his job was and he simply stared back at them with widened eyes before shaking his head.
“Sorry boys,” Mundungus told them, “no can do that one. That’s a bloody difficult one. I dunno if I’ve even got the resources to pull it off. And that’s not even talkin’ about the risks and-“
“Are you not going to ask for the take before turning it down?” the other man grunted, sounding surprised, baffled, even.
Mundungus rolled his eyes. “Whatever it is, it ain’t worth the time.” he paused. “Jus’… jus’ for fun though, go on and humour me.” When the number had been spoken aloud, Mundungus’s eyes practically bulged out of his head. He had never heard of a shady job paying out that much and absentmindedly, Mundungus wondered who the hell was forking out that kind of cash. He would be doubtful, but this mysterious acquaintance of his had never failed to pay up thus far and had even thrown in a bonus on his last job. Still, this one would be difficult, if not impossible. But then again, that money could keep him in a rented flat for years, let alone quench his rather destructive desires.
With a dramatic sigh one may expect from somebody who was about to agree to something very foolish, Mundungus slowly pushed himself into a sitting position and eyed the two gorilla-like men in front of him with an almost exasperated look. “Alright, alright — I’ll do it.”
August 1, 1992
Harry entered the Weitts family dining room later than normal on the Sunday following the birthday gala. He had begun to read up on Ancient Runes with the help of the expansive family library at his disposal and had become rather entranced by his current reading. The fact that he would have to learn several ancient languages before he would likely be able to do anything with Runes beyond following basic instructions was irritating, to say the least. In saying that, the fact did not take away from his overall interest in the subject as a whole. As a result, Harry entered the sitting room to find only one figure at the table, sipping on her tea and appearing to be glancing at a copy of the Daily Prophet.
“Good morning.” Harry greeted politely, taking a seat across from Grace and pouring himself some tea of his own. As soon as he sat down, a small menu appeared in front of him, from which the elves would make whatever he chose. He decided on a rather conservative meal consisting of porridge and some fruit. Once he ordered, Grace, who happened to be the other figure at the table, looked up from her newspaper and tilted her head, appraising him curiously.
“You’ve made the paper.” she told him, her voice completely neutral.
Harry gazed cautiously back at her. “I’m not entirely sure how I should feel about that.” he answered honestly. “Who’s the author? Skeeter?”
“No,” Grace answered easily, “it’s a name I’ve seen before, but not one who covers most of the major stories. It’s nothing too scandalous, I just found the article to be interesting.” Without another word, Grace slid the paper across the table to Harry, who looked down at the open page, careful to keep his expression blank as he read the article.
The Potter Twins’ Dynamic Duel
By John Doe
As I am sure all in this country are aware, yesterday saw the fulfillment of the annual Gala held at Potter Manor designed to both celebrate the birthday of The-Boy-Who-Lived and raise funds for the Charlus Potter Charitable Fund. This year, however, there was a twist. Charlus’s twin brother, who happens to be the Potter heir and older by several minutes, made his first public appearance at this event. As well as receiving his heir’s ring from his father at the end of the gala, Heir Harry Potter found himself surrounded by quite the crowd of curious onlookers.
A member of the crowd, Griselda Marchbanks, Head of the Ministry’s Educational Division asked Heir Potter about his apparent standout feats in terms of his academics. Upon further investigation after the fact, I can confirm that according to the exam records made public by the school each and every year, Harry Potter earned O+’s in Charms, Defense Against The Dark Arts and Transfiguration. While first year exam scores are by no means an indicator of future success, one can imagine why Madam Marchbanks may have been curious, both based upon her position and the unique nature of Harry Potter’s achievement.
What followed her questions, however, left the rest of us in shock.
After a fair bit of probing, Harry Potter agreed to perform some basic feats of magic that may have been asked of him during the first year examinations. Where this story gets interesting is when his more famous brother, Charlus, decided to join the fray. For reasons unknown, Charlus seemed to wish to take part in this little game and we quickly had a battle of one-upmanship taking place between the Potter twins. By the end of the exchange, both boys had achieved some rather impressive magic for their age, but when Harry Potter performed a more advanced adaptation of the Avifors spell, which is not taught until second year, the show came to a close…
From there, the article summarized the very little that was known about Harry. His exam scores, the fact that he was in Slytherin House, and the fact that he was the Potter Heir, before signing off. Unlike the other writer for the Prophet, Rita Skeeter, this John Doe did not seem to be one for overdramatized speculations.
Harry shrugged. “Can you explain to me why this article was even written? It seems like such a waste of time. I mean, how is this news?”
“Your brother is probably the second most famous living person in the magical world.” Grace said bluntly, as if explaining a simple concept to a small child. “Anything he does at a public event that is normal finds its way into the paper. This wasn’t expected and it let them throw your name into the hat, the forgotten Potter Heir steeped in mystery and all that.” she shrugged. “I’m honestly surprised that it isn’t closer to front page news.” she rolled her eyes. “Of course, it may have been, had the pages closer to the front not been dominated by the rest of the gala.”
“Not particularly. It’s all written by this same writer, and he doesn’t seem one for speculation. I’m assuming your father didn’t let Skeeter in. Personally, I’d be furious if I were Skeeter.”
“And why is that?” Harry asked, interested in Grace’s take on that bit of drama.
“People note that event down every year and it’s always a highly sold addition of the Prophet when it’s reported on. By having this John Doe report it instead of Skeeter, he likely just made his name off of one Prophet and he could now pose as a threat to her position as the Prophet’s top writer. Plenty of people enjoy her speculative style, but a lot of people don’t. Those people will gravitate towards this John Doe, at which point, her position at the top of the Prophet’s hierarchy and payroll may be in jeopardy.”
Harry nodded slowly. He could not help but be impressed at how Grace’s mind had put all of that together so quickly and effortlessly. It was the little things like that. They wouldn’t have direct impacts in the world, but it could have more subtle undertones for certain. Those were the things that Harry knew he would need to get better at recognizing and Grace had done just that wonderfully. Before Harry could think up a new topic of discussion, Grace had broached one herself.
“Charlotte is at the Greengrass’s and Mother and Father are out.” she told him. “I was thinking that today could be a good day for your first lesson in Active Occlumency if you think that you’re prepared for it?”
“I don’t think I’ll be any more or less prepared at any other time.” Harry answered honestly, following her to his feet and exiting the room a few minutes later after finishing the rest of his meal. Again, Grace led him to her room and once inside, they both took seats on the bed once more.
When they were settled, Grace began with a question. “If I ask you about the stages of Occlumency, do you or do you not know what I’m talking about?”
“Vaguely. I know that Occlumency and Legilimency are both seven-tiered systems and that I would be considered a first level Occlumens.”
Grace’s face remained passive. “You have very solid reading material. Most people don’t even realize that there are tiers at all. Do you understand why they are important?”
Harry shrugged. “Again, vaguely. I know that the tiers have to be completed in their specific order and that a person has to master the main parts of each tier before they can advance.” he paused. “Subskills are also involved somehow, but I quite literally know nothing about that.”
Grace’s eyebrows rose. “You are remarkably well-informed.” she noted. “Subskills are something that I’ll explain later. For now they’re not essential, but they are extremely useful if one has time for them. I won’t be teaching you subskills because those are components of Passive Occlumency that can be learned on your own time as long as you fully trust whatever book you’re reading.” Harry nodded, accepting the fact.
“The first level of Occlumency centers mostly around the understanding of your mind. By learning to clear it, combined with the meditative exercises, you’re subconsciously developing a natural understanding of your mind. The purpose of this is so that you can eventually detect intrusions and irregularities. Since you’re still a level one Occlumens, you’re not actually ready to learn how to actively defend yourself against Legilimency. For lack of a better phrase, you’re still building the foundations. The first step is for you to actually be able to notice when somebody is launching a psychic attack on you in the first place.”
Harry nodded slowly. “That makes sense.” he said carefully. “How will I know when that happens? Like… describe the feeling, maybe? Or is it just subconscious?”
Grace thought about that. “A bit of both, honestly. Your mind will eventually detect that something isn’t normal. It should almost feel like… something brushing against your mind, I suppose. At the beginning, you’ll be actively searching your mind, so it should be easier since you’re looking for it. Eventually, you’ll build enough mental memory that your mind will just sense it instantly. Or, at least, instantly unless the attacker has a very high degree of skill.”
“Could you attack my mind without me knowing?”
Grace quirked an eyebrow. “Right now? I could probably pull days of memories from your mind without you even realizing it, and I’m far from the best Legilimens around. I have quite a lot of raw talent for the art, but I’ve focused almost exclusively on Occlumency, for the most part.”
Harry had to resist the urge to gulp. That thought was terrifying to say the least. “Okay, let me rephrase that. Could you attack the mind of an average Occlumens within the field without them knowing?”
Grace had to think that over. “Probably,” she admitted, “but it would take a lot of focus at the moment.” she shrugged. “My sister would honestly have a better chance at doing that than me, but I’d be able to defend my mind far, far better than her.” That was a fact that Harry noted down for later use.
“So we’ll be building mental memory, I’m assuming?”
“Exactly,” Grace affirmed, “I’ll be launching very light but very blunt Legilimency probes into your mind.”
“Similar to the other day then?”
Grace paused. “There are… two ways we can do this.” she explained. “The traditional way and the one that works fastest and best is to start with more blunt probes. This would mean that they would be a bit stronger than the one I used the other day. I wouldn’t actively glean your thoughts, but if you didn’t notice within a few minutes and I wanted to make it more obvious, which will almost definitely happen, there is a chance that I could get a flash of whatever you’re thinking at that time.”
Harry pursed his lips. He absolutely hated the thought of anybody in his mind seeing anything. He knew that on this occasion, it was paranoia. Grace would effectively only see what he allowed her to see, but it still made him uncomfortable. “And the other option?” he asked.
“We do it with similar probes to the other day. This makes it miles harder on you and will probably slow the process down by a few months, because it will be ages before you can even detect a probe at all, let alone with any amount of consistency.”
Harry sighed. “Well then, I suppose we have to go with the first option.”
Grace’s lips twitched. “Just don’t think of anything important to you. It really shouldn’t be that difficult.”
“I know; I just really dislike the thought of somebody in my head.”
Grace rolled her eyes. “You’re going to have to get used to it, because it’s going to become more and more frequent and probably more invasive as we progress.”
Grace laughed softly. “I’m humbled by your trust.” When Harry made a face, Grace just laughed again. “Honestly, do you trust anybody?”
Harry actually had to think about that, even though he knew it was a rhetorical question. Did he trust anybody? He trusted Daphne, Blaise and Tracey far more than anyone else and he had trusted them enough last year to let them in on some major secrets, but he honestly couldn’t say that he trusted any of them fully yet. After all, he had refrained from revealing anything about his encounter with Voldemort, or his Parseltongue ability, or anything else that he thought was too important in the grand scheme of things.
“Yes and no.” he answered with a smirk, doing his best to play it off as a joke.
Grace’s light laughter did continue, but he thought she had likely seen through the attempt at humour. “Well,” she said a moment later, sliding her wand effortlessly from her sleeve and into her hand, “do you trust me enough to start?”
Harry sighed dramatically. “I suppose.” he told her, and Grace took aim at his forehead. She did so in a slow, deliberate manner as not to startle him, but Harry still had to resist the urge to flinch and his fingers still twitched, as if to summon his own wand from its holster. Even if he wanted to, he doubted it would do him any good against her, but that was a thought better left untouched.
Grace spoke softly but clearly, and her enchanting, bluish silver eyes found his as she spoke. She seemed to do her best to maintain eye contact with him for the most part as he stared pensively back at her. He knew from his experiences with Charlotte that eye contact at least had some impact on Legilimency, but Grace glanced around the room every now and then, so Harry doubted it was essential. After about a minute, he grew confused.
“Have you started?” he asked her, flummoxed. “I thought the spell would have started it?”
Grace smirked. “The spell did start it, Harry. I’ve had a probe at the corner of your mind the entire time.” When his jaw went slack, Grace’s smirk widened. “I did warn you it would take time and that it would take at least several minutes before you noticed anything, didn’t I?.” she shrugged. “If you want proof, you were thinking about eye contact and its impact on Legilimency a few seconds ago. I haven’t checked since.”
From that moment on, Harry tried to do his best to turn his mind inwards and search for the probe, but it did not come easily. After a few minutes, Grace instructed him to clear his mind completely and continue the process. At first, this made no difference, but after about five minutes of this he felt… something? It was difficult to explain but it was like what Grace had described. It was something… unnatural. Surprisingly, it didn’t feel particularly invasive, just… curious?
“Got it!” Harry exclaimed and just as he said it, he felt the presence retreat.
“So you did.” Grace told him with a small smile. “Sorry for the late instruction. I should’ve told you to clear your mind earlier, but I suppose I just sort of expected you to do it. I didn’t realize you hadn’t until I brushed your mind again and realized it was still active.”
“Was that bad then?” Harry asked, frowning.
“No,” Grace said without hesitation, “it was actually above average once you cleared your mind. I would honestly be stunned if you managed to detect anything with an active mind at this point no matter how long you tried. It took you about five minutes after clearing your mind. I think the average is somewhere between eight and ten, so you’re well above average.”
“How fast were you?” Harry asked, vaguely curious. He had no idea why he was being so open with his asking of questions. Grace had a similar sort of air to Hurst — or, he supposed, Voldemort, in a lot of ways. Neither of them seemed particularly adverse to questions. They both almost seemed to invite them, at least when in private, and Harry found it easier to be open with them.
Grace shrugged. “I was an exception.” she said. “It only took me two or three minutes, and my sister was around the same. You could say we have a sort of… affinity for mind magic.” she raised her wand again. “Are you ready for another round?”
August 5, 1992
Draco actually gaped openly at his father. He tried his best to remember a time when he had ever had a request denied so bluntly. He could remember on a few occasions his father saying no to some of his more outlandish requests, but honestly, he struggled to ever remember a time when his father had denied him anything material.
“Wipe that unbefitting expression from your face at once, Draco.” Lucius ordered him harshly and Draco quickly obeyed. “Is it truly so baffling to you that I would deny such a presumptive request after the utter incompetence you showed this year?”
“Silence!” Draco fell quiet as soon as his father’s voice rang through the room. He had rarely ever heard his father raise his voice. It was not a good sign. Unbidden, the memory of his first talk with his father from the first night he returned to the manor swam to the forefront of his mind and he winced. His father had never cursed him before that night.
Lucius stood and for a moment, Draco drew back, fearing he would be cursed again. Instead of cursing his son and heir, Lucius began to pace back and forth, wringing his hands as he did so. When he stopped pacing, he closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath before opening his eyes once again and meeting his son’s stare.
“I have made a severe mistake in raising you.” Lucius said bluntly. “I have pampered you beyond belief without making you earn any of the immaculate gifts you have been given.” he scowled. “I’ve let your mother to have too much control. She has always had a sort of weakness for those closest to her and I have allowed her to coddle you for too long.” Draco opened his mouth, and then closed it again. “You can have the broom,” Lucius decided, shocking Draco with his change of pace, “if,” he continued, “and only if you make the Slytherin House team on your own merits, using your current broomstick.”
“But father, they’ll all be on faster brooms. It’s not-“
“Life isn’t fair, Draco. This is the mistake I have made. I have raised you in a way that will allow you to complain repeatedly that life isn’t fair. Yet, you stand before me in one of the largest, most ostentatious pureblood homes in England. No, Draco, life isn’t always fair, but us Malfoys use that to our advantage. We do not whine over such inevitabilities. From here on out, you will act like a Malfoy and not simply flaunt the name. From here on out, you shall be spoiled like a Malfoy, but only if the qualities in which we practice and preach are displayed prominently and used as the weapons that they should be.”
Lucius’s eyes found Draco’s, and there was an intensity there that the young boy had never seen before. “And only if you refrain from tarnishing anymore of the reputation that our ancestors have worked so tirelessly to achieve and maintain for generations.” he paused, as if debating something. “A new era is on the horizon, Draco. When the time comes to usher in this era, I can’t have my son and heir be weak, naive or pathetic. I cannot have any weaknesses in this family. When the time comes, we must all be ready.”
August 12, 1992
When Harry finished reading over the list of necessary books that had been enclosed within his Hogwarts letter, he looked up and towards the two Weitts sisters, both of whom had also finished their reading. Charlotte had a positively glowing smile on her face the likes of which Harry had never seen there before. Seeing her like that made Harry think of what it had felt like for him more than a year earlier when he too had received his Hogwarts letter. Absentmindedly, he wondered why they were so much later this year. Perhaps that was another question he would ask. First though, he turned to Grace, not wanting to snap Charlotte out of her gleeful reverie.
“Did you have to buy a bunch of books by this Lockhart bloke?”
Grace nodded but tilted her head. “I did,” she told him, “his entire collection, actually. Have you never heard of him before?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No, I haven’t, actually. Why? Should I have?”
“Not really,” Grace answered, but Harry could tell that there was something… off about that statement that he couldn’t quite place. “He’s quite famous, but I don’t suppose you would have had any reason to know of him. I just thought you may have read the name somewhere.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Care to enlighten me?” he asked Grace, still tuning out the excited and emotional conversation going on behind him between Charlotte and Adriana. It was not his place to intrude on such a personal moment.
“He’s sort of a folk hero, I guess you could call him.” Grace said, losing her battle with the soft smile she was shooting her sister’s way. “He’s travelled all over the world since the fall of Voldemort.” Harry had to resist the widening of his eyes when Grace referred to Voldemort by her proper alias. He was sure that she noticed his surprise, but he managed to keep the more obvious signs of surprise off of his face, so she didn’t comment. “He’s carried out a bunch of feats of bravery and the like.” she shrugged. “You’ll hear about it this year, I’m sure.”
Harry nodded but paused. “Isn’t it a bit… odd for whoever the professor is to suggest the same books for second and seventh years?”
“Oh, there’s another book for us on here too for his subject.” Grace noted. “Lockhart probably just came to some sort of agreement with the school to help boost sales in exchange for discounted books for their charity, or something. Those books will be enough to teach second years, but the teacher will probably use this other book for the most part in terms of teaching my year.” Just then, Grace was interrupted by Charlotte, who leaned over her older sister and wrapped her arms tightly around Grace, still clearly high off the reception of her Hogwarts letter. Grace gave up trying to act pensive and swept to her feet, wrapping her younger sister up in a hug of her own.
Harry had never actually seen the two of them show any real sort of affection towards each other in public in spite of Grace’s obvious love for her sister, and the sight caused the corners of his mouth to twitch upwards. When they broke apart, Harry noticed that Grace playfully shoved Charlotte away from her, but she couldn’t hide the smile on her face that gave her away. “Don’t act so surprised.” Grace told Charlotte lightly. “We all knew you were going to get the letter.”
“I know that,” Charlotte said excitedly with a roll of her eyes, “but it’s a different thing to actually HAVE the letter!”
Grace just sighed dramatically. “If you insist.”
Charlotte turned to Harry and for a second, he thought she was going to hug him too, a thought that surprised him as much as it put him off. Clearly, Charlotte thought better of it, for instead, she simply shot him a bright smile. “Sorry about butting into your conversation.” she said, but Harry noticed that she didn’t sound overly sorry.
In response, he just smiled back up at her from his spot at the table. “I can’t blame you for being excited.” he told her honestly. “Congratulations, Charlotte, I’m sure you’ll love Hogwarts.”
August 19, 1992
Diagon Alley, Summer Isles
It had only been hours after receiving their Hogwarts letters that Harry and Charlotte both received letters from Daphne asking if they wanted to do their shopping in Diagon Alley together. Clearly, Adriana and Sigmund had also been contacted, likely by the Greengrass parents. This fact was what drove Harry, Charlotte, Grace, Adriana and even Sigmund, who had managed to get far enough ahead in his business to take the day off to meet up with Daphne, Astoria, Celia and Cyrus Greengrass, along with Tracey inside Summer Isles.
Summer Isles, as it turned out, was an extremely high class, extremely expensive restaurant in Diagon Alley. Harry had never even known that this place existed, which wasn’t overly surprising when one took into account that it was normally only frequented by the richest of pureblood families, thus he had no reason to know about it. It wasn’t like James Potter had ever gone out of his way to explain anything like this to his son and heir. The room they dined in was absolutely breathtaking. It had an enchantment clearly similar to the one used on the Great Hall’s ceiling at Hogwarts, except it was applied to the walls. Aside from that, the main difference was that instead of seeing the night sky reflected upon the walls, they saw the most stunning coastal view one could possibly imagine.
Harry was quiet for most of the meal, content to observe the conversation that had been kept up by the others in the room. When they had all finished their meal, the group divided. Grace went off to meet up with some of her friends, and Harry, Daphne and Tracey did likewise, bringing Charlotte along with them. Ideally, they would have been meeting up with Blaise as well, but he was still on vacation in Italy. Apparently, it would be a family associate who did the shopping in the Zabini household. The parents and Astoria were going back to their respective homes. Sigmund seemed reluctant to allow Charlotte to go with the three second years, but he did not stop Adriana from giving their youngest daughter her blessing to do so.
As Harry, Daphne, Tracey and Charlotte walked through the alley, Harry could not help but allow his eyes to be attracted to most of the displays they passed. He had now spent a year in this magnificent world of magic, but it still felt every bit as fantastical as it had on that first day more than a year ago. He was thankful, not for his father, but for the admittedly generous amount of money that James had sent him the day after the Hogwarts letters had been sent out. Obviously, James knew that Harry would be shopping and smartly, he had not imposed himself upon his eldest son, instead sending him far more money than he would need for Diagon Alley. Harry sincerely hoped that James didn’t think he could be bought simply because he was a Slytherin.
That was perhaps the one area that James hadn’t failed him in yet. He genuinely did not seem to care what colour Harry’s robes were. Unfortunately, he also seemed to be Albus Dumbledore’s personal puppet, so there was that to contend with and Harry had a strong feeling that fact would be insurmountable. He was still conflicted about James in some regards but by this point, Harry knew with one hundred percent certainty that he would never trust his father again and that he would likely never have any feelings for the man. He had blown any chance of that when he had promised Harry he would not return to the Dursleys and then failed to make good on said promise.
“Harry?” Charlotte said, bringing him back to the present.
“Yeah… sorry, I spaced out there a bit.”
Daphne rolled her eyes. “I think you do that more than anybody else I know.” she commented. When the most she got in terms of a reaction was a quirked eyebrow, Daphne sighed.
Then, Charlotte spoke up again. “Daphne and Tracey seem to disagree on which House I’ll be going to.” Tracey’s eyes widened and Daphne just looked exasperated.
“How do you do that?” Tracey asked her. “We didn’t even say anything!”
Charlotte shrugged. “You’re a very loud thinker, Tracey.” When Daphne looked mildly outraged, Charlotte raised her hands in placation. “And no, I wasn’t trying to legilimize her.” she winced, casting a quick sideways glance at Harry. “I’m… at a stage of Legilimency where I’m trying to get better without a wand.” she winced for a second time. “I’m… very good at it, but my problem right now is control. I can kind of… tell when somebody is thinking something really intensely, or get their general mood or impression.” she looked a bit sheepish. “I’ve always been able to do that, but right now, while I’m trying to improve the ability, it’s becoming hard to turn off at times.”
“That actually sounds horrible.” Daphne commented.
Charlotte shrugged. “I won’t have to put up with it forever. It’s just until I get enough control to turn off the ability.” Harry had to resist the urge to glance at Charlotte. All of that sounded far too familiar. Mind you, he could not simply glean somebody’s thoughts by standing near them, but if he focused, he had usually been able to tell what general topic somebody was thinking about. And there was the bit that very few people could lie to him and get away with it. Suddenly, he was left questioning whether or not this mysterious sixth sense of his was some form of subconscious Legilimency. But that in and of itself made absolutely no sense. Legilimency was a very precise art guided by intent. To use it subconsciously was literally a contradiction of the thing itself.
He jolted a second later when Charlotte snapped her fingers right in front of his face. With a blink, Harry shook his head. “Yeah… sorry, again.”
Charlotte shot him a rather calculating stare, but she did not elaborate as to why. “Well, let’s settle this, shall we? Daphne thinks I’m a shoe in for Slytherin, and Tracey thinks I’ll end up in Ravenclaw. So, Harry, which house do you think I’ll be in?”
“Slytherin.” Harry said without a second thought. He didn’t need any more context to make the decision.
Charlotte smirked as Daphne shot a smug look at Tracey, who rolled her eyes. “You’ve been doing lessons for years!” Tracey argued.
“Yes, but that’s because she’s ambitious.” Daphne said, drawing air quotes around the last word. Harry also thought the Weitts family probably had something to do with that, but he didn’t voice that thought aloud.
“Aww, thanks Daphne!” Charlotte said, pretending to be moved by the statement. Daphne shoved Charlotte playfully, and in response, Charlotte just laughed.
“Ok, sure. But she also HATES not knowing things! And I mean HATES IT!”
This time, Charlotte mock glared at Tracey, but everybody knew that she couldn’t deny the accusation. Still, that sentiment hit a little bit too close to home for Harry to just leave unchallenged. “So do I.” he said quietly, pulling all three girl’s attention onto him. “That’s me in a nutshell and I’m not an eagle.” Tracey didn’t really seem to have a good response for that.
“Yeah,” Daphne muttered with a roll of her eyes, “but you’re a special case.”
Harry sighed dramatically. “I just backed you up and now you have to go and single me out like that?”
“Sorry, Harry, but it’s true.” Daphne said with a smile.
“Anyways,” Harry said, diverting the conversation away from what could have possibly either been a light jab or a backhanded compliment, “Charlotte’s one hundred percent going to be a Slytherin, Tracey, trust me.” As he said this, he remembered the way Charlotte had essentially manipulated her mother, last Samhain, in order to ensure that Harry did not have to return to James. There was cunning there for certain, and the air that Charlotte carried about her practically screamed of Slytherin House. As if she could read his thoughts or more precisely, his memories, Charlotte shot him a small, nearly imperceptible smile. Harry supposed she actually might be reading his thoughts, but he somehow doubted it.
Tracey huffed indignantly just as the quartet entered Twilfitt and Tattings. It was a more high-end robes shop in Diagon Alley as opposed to Madam Malkin’s. Privately, Harry wondered what jobs Tracey’s step parents had in the muggle world. These kinds of robes weren’t cheap. There was also the possibility that the Weitts family, or more likely the Greengrasses, simply paid for her as well, he supposed. They had done so for Summer Isles, as they had for Harry, but that had been a sort of occasion. As they entered the high-end robes shop, they were greeted with four familiar faces that took them all a bit aback.
“Fancy seeing you three here.” Cassius Warrington greeted his young trio of friends with a grin just as he stepped off of the stool after being fitted with a new set of robes. Currently, both Hestia and Flora were being fitted and Calypso, who had evidently already been, was peering critically at a rather immaculate looking dress. With her back turned, she hadn’t noticed their entrance but when Cassius spoke, she turned around and her soft, angelic face broke into a genuine smile at the sight of the three, now second year Slytherins, who had entered the shop.
“Harry!” Calypso greeted first, beaming at him before greeting both Daphne and Tracey. “I have a bone to pick with you.” Calypso told Harry after the reunions were out of the way. Harry became wary, trying to remember what, if anything, he may have done to Calypso. When his mind came up empty, he just peered expectantly back up at her. “I wrote you about five letters in the first few weeks of summer and you never answered any of them.”
Harry had to clamp down hard on his emotions not to show a visible reaction. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Daphne shooting him a brief, sideways glance that he was fairly sure Calypso caught. Charlotte gave away nothing, but he was sure that she and Daphne were thinking along the same lines. To Tracey’s credit, she too gave nothing away. It appeared when a secret was close to Tracey’s heart, she actually could keep it, something that Harry viewed as truly miraculous given her track record with secrets.
“I didn’t get any mail in the first few weeks of summer.” Harry said carefully. “Not because you didn’t send it to the right person or anything like that, just that I wasn’t in a position to receive it.” Calypso looked vaguely curious and Cassius even more so, but both of them seemed to realize that Harry wouldn’t explain any further. As usual, the Carrows looked completely impassive as the two of them stepped away from the witches fitting them and greeted Harry. They also greeted Daphne and Tracey politely but not quite as warmly as the other two. Harry got a greeting slightly warmer than his two friends.
He thought he was starting to understand small bits of the Carrows. They didn’t care about your name. Well, that wasn’t completely accurate. Your name could put you on their radar. It could get you in the door, one might say. If you truly wanted their respect, however, it was something that you had to earn over time. Harry had done so, mainly through his practices with the older students. Daphne and Tracey hadn’t been along on any of those nights, so they had yet to earn the twins’ respect.
When the initial greetings had concluded, Calypso turned to peer slightly down at Charlotte. For a second, it seemed as if Calypso was puzzled as to who she was. Then, a look of dawning comprehension crossed her face. Privately, Harry thought it was the eyes that had given Charlotte away. Harry had never quite seen eyes like those of Charlotte, Grace and Adriana, but they were a very distinctive feature.
“Charlotte… Weitts?” Calypso asked, and Harry had never heard her voice so carefully modulated. It projected a definite air of politeness and respect that was very uncharacteristic for a now fifth year speaking to a not-yet first year.
Harry was sure that Charlotte noticed, but she didn’t comment. Instead, she simply bowed her head in respect, acknowledging that Calypso’s house status of Ancient and Most Noble technically outranked her own before she extended her hand. When Calypso took it, she spoke. “I’m Charlotte, yes. You’re the Rosier heiress, right? Calypso, I think?”
“Correct,” Calypso said with a warm smile, glancing curiously from Charlotte to Harry. It was so fast that most would’ve missed it but Harry didn’t, nor did Daphne, judging by the narrowing of her eyes. Charlotte may have, since she wasn’t paying much attention to that sort of thing by the look of it, but she also may have surprised Harry and not missed it at all. “Are you going to be a first year starting in September?” Calypso asked.
Charlotte smiled a wide, genuine smile. “I am,” she told the older Slytherin, “I’m honestly really looking forward to it.”
Calypso smiled back at her easily. “I’d say that I hope to see you in Slytherin, but I honestly doubt there’s any real mystery as to where you’ll go.” Charlotte smiled at Calypso one final time before the two broke apart and she was introduced to the other three. Even the Carrows’ greeting was uncharacteristically polite and suddenly, Harry realized just how much influence Grace held with her status at the helm of Slytherin House.
“Here for your school stuff, I‘m guessing?” Cassius asked as a way of changing the topic of conversation. When all four of them nodded, he glanced to Calypso, who gave a subtle nod of her own.
“We’ll wait for you four if you’d like to do your shopping with us.” Calypso offered, to which the four younger students agreed before getting their own set of robes before exiting the shop in a group of eight now as opposed to four. “Where’s Zabini?” Calypso asked offhandedly. “You four usually seem to travel all together or in ones or twos, not usually in threes.”
“Italy,” Harry answered, “vacationing with his mum.”
“Wish I was somewhere like Italy right about now.” Cassius said. “Flint’d probably kill me though.”
Charlotte glanced at both Harry and Daphne and when she realized neither of them had the answers she was looking for, she asked, “Why would Flint kill you?”
“Quidditch.” the Carrow twins both answered as one, sounding an odd mixture of exasperated and bored.
When Charlotte just raised a brow, Calypso elaborated. “The lunatics practice all summer.” It was pretty obvious from the tone of her voice what she thought of such a usage of Cassius’s time.
“Have you found another seeker yet?” Tracey asked cautiously, not quite knowing how to tread in regards to the topic of Higgs and his untimely demise.
Cassius scowled. “Flint says he might’ve found someone, but he’s keeping it all hushed up at the moment. I have no idea who he’s on about.” This time, it was Charlotte’s gaze that flickered and for the briefest of seconds, it landed on Harry. Before he could think much on the fact, however, the eight of them were halted by an absolutely massive line that stretched out from the entrance of Flourish and Blotts. Unfortunately for the octet, Flourish and Blotts was the next stop that all of them needed to make.
“Well,” Cassius deadpanned, “this will be delightfully entertaining.”
Calypso rolled her eyes. “Don’t be foolish, Cassius. Follow me.” Without another word, Calypso began strolling through the line of gathered witches and wizards as if she owned the place. Baffled, Harry furrowed his brow and followed. Cassius too looked confused, but evidently, Daphne was not, for she quickly whispered to Harry, Tracey and Charlotte that the Rosier family was a majority stakeholder in Flourish and Blotts. And just like that, the party of eight quickly found themselves right near the front of the line. As they entered the shop, it became apparent exactly why the bookshop, which was admittedly busy on the best of days, seemed to be the only place to be on a seemingly random summer’s day.
Plastered everywhere were posters, all of which boldly proclaimed the same message. Gilderoy Lockhart, the wizarding folk hero that Grace had told Harry about would be signing autographs today in celebration of his autobiography, Magical Me, which Harry assumed must be a new release. As a matter of fact, their group was just in time to spot two figures with messy black hair strolling up to the man himself. When Harry saw them, he tensed. The figures were unmistakably his brother and his father. Harry tensed further when he felt a soft touch on his shoulder, but he relaxed marginally when he realized it was Daphne.
Just then, Gilderoy Lockhart swept to his feet, loudly exclaiming that it couldn’t be Charlus Potter. Then, Charlus and Lockhart posed for a picture. Unfortunately, before the display had concluded, Peter Pettigrew, who stood beside James, whispered something in his ear, prompting James to do the same to Lockhart. Next thing Harry knew, Gilderoy Lockhart’s baby blue eyes were fixed upon him and he realized with mounting horror what was about to happen.
“But of course,” Lockhart said loudly enough for the whole shop to hear him, “Charlus Potter is just one-half of a set!” Lockhart allowed the murmuring to rise in volume once more and die down before he continued. “Why, his brother too has been making headlines as of late for his incredible achievements! I think it only fair that both Potters get the shine they deserve, even if one of them isn’t quite as notorious as the other.” Lockhart gave a short laugh before gesturing grandiosely for Harry to join him and Charlus. The latter was glaring at Harry. More specifically, he was glaring at Cassius, Calypso and the Carrows, but his eyes kept flickering back towards Harry in an unmistakable gesture.
For a moment, Harry’s mind raced through various methods that could possibly be used to get him out of the situation. If he had more time, he had no doubt he could have come up with something. Unfortunately, Harry did not have endless amounts of time on his hands at the moment and before he could come up with anything, both Charlotte and Daphne were nudging him forward, the latter shooting him an encouraging smile. Clearing his mind and forcing his trademark, artificial smile onto his face, Harry strode forwards with as much confidence as he could muster as he took his stance beside Lockhart, standing on the opposite side of him than the one occupied by his brother. Lockhart wrapped an arm around Harry, who stiffened, his smile faltering.
“Smile nice and wide, boys.” Lockhart whispered through his own perfect grin. “Between me and Charlus here, we’re worth the front page, and we’ll get you some notoriety too.” he told Harry as if it was the greatest gift a man could give. Immediately, Harry decided that Lockhart was either a fraud or a prat who went around trying to save the world for attention. He had no idea which of them he was, but he was sure of two things. Somebody this naturally pompous could not possibly be a good person and in this moment, he despised Gilderoy Lockhart nearly as much as he did his father.
Mercifully, the pictures did not take long, but less fortunately, Lockhart’s arm tightened around both Harry and Charlus as he cleared his throat, clearly preparing to make a grand announcement to the assembled crowd of admirers.
“When the Potter twins here stepped into Flourish and Blotts today, they only wanted to buy my autobiography — which I shall be happy to present them now, free of charge,” the crowd applauded again, “they had no idea however,” Lockhart continued, giving both Harry and Charlus a little shake that greatly annoyed the former and made the latter‘s glasses slip to the end of his nose, “that they would shortly be getting much, much more than my book, Magical Me. They and their schoolmates will, in fact, be getting the real magical me. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure and pride in announcing that, this September, I will be taking up the post of Defence Against The Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”
Harry could only think how typical this was. He sincerely hoped that Lockhart was just a self-centered prat and not incompetent. It was kind of inevitable that no matter who they had, it would be a step down from last year in terms of the lesson quality. In saying that, Harry still would much rather learn something this year. Even if he knew the entire curriculum and then some, which he did, a good teacher would still manage to impart something onto him. He had a feeling that Lockhart would likely not fall into this category. It was with that in mind that he walked away from Lockhart a bit sourly.
When he rejoined his friends, struggling under the weight of his newly acquired stack of books, he could only comment one thing as they began to prowl through the store, trying to find everything it was that they needed. “He’s either the most self-centered person I’ve ever met, or he’s somehow faked all of it and he’s completely useless.” Many of his groupmates seemed to agree with the latter, but as they split up to get their respective books, Harry felt a light touch on his arm. When he turned, he met the silvery-eyed stare of Charlotte.
“Just to let you know, there’s a lot more to him than that.” she said and before he could question her further, she was off to collect her own books. Then, before Harry could do likewise, several voices drew his attention. There, not ten feet away from him were Draco Malfoy, Charlus Potter and a small, red-headed girl who Harry assumed was another Weasley.
From what Harry could glean, it appeared as though Malfoy was taking the mickey out of the two Weasleys for their lack of financial security. A minute or so later, Draco showed his true colours when two people whom Harry assumed were Ron’s parents stepped up behind him. Then, Harry’s attention was caught by a voice he had only heard twice before. Once had been at the Samhain gathering, and the other had been in Snape’s office near the end of his first year at Hogwarts.
“My word, Arthur Weasley.” Lucius Malfoy stepped up beside his son as he spoke, resting a firm hand on Draco’s shoulder. His face showed off a perfectly calm, perfectly polite expression, but Harry could see the obvious intent in his eyes.
“Lucius.” Arthur Weasley responded curtly.
“Busy time at the Ministry, I hear.” Lucius drawled. “All those raids, I do hope they’re paying you overtime.” As he said this, Lord Malfoy reached swiftly into the youngest Weasley’s cauldron before withdrawing a very battered version of A Beginner’s Guide To Transfiguration. “Obviously not.” he said with a click of his tongue. “What is the point of being a disgrace to the name of ‘wizard’ if they aren’t even paying you well for it.”
Then, as Arthur Weasley flushed a frankly astonishing shade of red, Harry suddenly realized exactly where Ron had inherited that most amusing ability from. “We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of a wizard, Malfoy.”
“Clearly,” Lucius hissed in barely more than a whisper, allowing his eyes to flick towards two people whom Harry hadn’t even noticed. Judging by the fact that Hermione Granger stood very nearby them, Harry could only assume that they were her parents. Then, Harry saw the familiar figures of James, Charlus and Pettigrew making their way towards the conversation and he thought it was about time for him to take his leave. Unfortunately, he was never given that option, as Lord Malfoy continued. “My, the company you keep, and I thought your family could sink no lower.” It was very clear that Arthur Weasley was seconds away from throwing himself towards Lord Malfoy but before he could, James’s voice cut smoothly into the conversation.
“Let me guess, Malfoy. Harassing a good family about being blood traitors just because they don’t bow to your beliefs and help fill your pockets?”
Harry could have winced at his father’s bluntness, but Malfoy Sr. showed no visible reaction, though Draco did flinch, if only marginally. “Why, Potter, I can assure you that I have very specific reasoning for my opinion of Arthur Weasley.” he sneered. “By example, the disgraceful Muggle Protection Act that I am sure you worked oh so hard to pass for your poor, pitiful friend.”
James’s jaw tightened as Peter placed a hand on both James’s and Arthur’s shoulders. “And what’s wrong with the Muggle Protection Act, Malfoy?”
“Oh, nothing at all, Potter. Aside from the fact, of course, that it does very little to protect the poor muggles at all.” his eyes gleamed. “What it does do is give your friend Weasley the authority to… act above his station, one might say.” Harry made a mental note to look up this “Muggle Protection Act” because this was the first time he had heard about it. Then, Lucius Malfoy’s eyes flickered over to Harry moments before he could make his exit. “Even if the act was put in place by somebody competent as to assure its usefulness,” Lord Malfoy continued, the gleam in his eyes now obvious, “I would argue that the muggles do not need protecting from us.” Malfoy then locked eyes with Harry for the first time. “Isn’t that right, Heir Potter?”
Suddenly, Harry was kicking himself for not walking away earlier. He really needed to work on curbing his natural curiosity. He was indeed a very curious person by nature. He thought that spending most of his life in a cupboard may have had something to do with that. Whether he liked it or not though, this was now the second time this quirk of his had led him into an unfavourable situation. The first had been when he walked into Malfoy Jr’s trap. And that wasn’t counting the confrontation at the end of last year as stemming from curiosity. Now, he had allowed himself to be pinned into a proverbial corner by Malfoy Sr. The worst part was that if Harry answered in the positive, he would seriously irritate his father. If he answered in the negative, he may seriously irritate his friends. If he answered in the neutral, he may avoid the outright scorn of any of them, but he would suddenly draw the suspicion of all of them. And that was not even accounting for the fact that there really wasn’t a good, neutral answer here. In spite of that, Harry simply had to do his best on the fly.
“I’m sure that the Ministry is much more qualified than me to answer that question, Lord Malfoy.” Harry answered respectfully. “But… I do think it might be best if wizards look into muggles before passing laws in the future.” As soon as he said it, Harry knew that it had not quite come out as neutral as he had been hoping for. He hadn’t wanted to give a non-answer in fear of it being taken the wrong way by both sides. Unfortunately, that answer had drawn hateful glares from Ron and Charlus, a rather calculating stare from Pettigrew, a shocked, semi-horrified expression from James and a small, victorious smirk from Lord Malfoy.
“So glad we are in agreement, Heir Potter.” he said, smirk still in place. “I would be happy to answer any questions you may have on matters you do not feel… qualified to speak on in the future. I am sure your owl can find me.” Then, his grip tightened on Draco’s shoulder. “Come, Draco, we are leaving.”
“As are we.” Calypso muttered, making Harry tense when she wrapped a rather protective arm around him and guided him out of the book shop before he could feel the wrath of his family and their friends, allowing the rest of their group to trail in their wake.
August 21, 1992
An Undisclosed Location
“Pathetic.” Mister Bellona chided as Charlus snarled in frustration once more. He had been trying to get the Lacero curse to work for weeks now with absolutely no success. He had managed most of the other spells that Mister Bellona had taught him, but this one simply would not work. “An incantation is not enough, you foolish child.” his instructor scolded, and when Charlus looked confused, his tutor’s expression soured. “Magic is not about incantations, it is about intent, as we have discussed already. The spell you are simply trying to cast with a mere incantation is one that is fundamentally centered around intent! You need to crave for the damage done by the Lacero curse. You must truly wish for your adversary to feel such damage. If you do not, you will never manage more than foolishly shouting at the target, who will simply laugh at your pathetic attempts each and every time.”
“Then tell me what to do!” Charlus exclaimed in pure, unadulterated frustration. As soon as he said it, he flinched back. Outbursts were not tolerated, nor were interruptions. Let alone a rather aggressive outburst that was also a blatant interruption.
To his surprise, however, Mister Bellona did not raise his wand. Instead, the figure tilted his head, and Charlus could imagine it’s hooded face staring speculatively back at him. “For now,” it told him, “you will need a crutch.” When Charlus looked confused, the figure elaborated. “You must truly desire the damage to be wrought. So, in place of said intent that seems so non-existent within you, you will conjure up an image in your mind that will make you want to cause that damage. I do not care what that image is, but the next time you cast that spell, it will be with a clear image in mind — one that will cause your blood to boil and your heart to pump faster. One that will cause your brain to begin to grasp the intent that you lack so utterly in your spell casting.”
Charlus closed his eyes and took several, deep breaths. Most of that had gone way over his head, but he thought he understood the basics. He would need to imagine something that made him angry. No, not angry — furious. He would need to imagine something that made him so furious that it would make him want to cause damage.
Amusingly, the first image was of Mister Bellona, raising his wand to curse him for yet another outburst. He dismissed it quickly. Mister Bellona and his archaic teaching habits were certainly infuriating, but he knew it wouldn’t be enough. His next thought was of Voldemort. A few months ago, he was sure it would have worked. Now, instead of the raw, uncontextualized hatred that he once felt when thinking of his mother’s murderer, there were more… complicated emotions. He still hated her with a burning passion but there was one problem. There was also the self-hatred and self-doubt there, and he was not sure that either of those two things would help the spell in any way, shape or form.
As frustration mounted, Charlus tried to think. He tried to remember the last time he was indisputably furious at something. Then, it came to him. It was not the image he would have thought of. In fact, he would have never dreamed of using such an image, but it was not so much the image itself as much as everything it signified. As he thought this, Charlus’s heart rate quickened and he could feel his face flush. Then, with a slightly shaky hand, Charlus raised his wand and slashed it viciously towards the dummy.
A purple distortion in the air later, the dummy was lying prone with a massive gash running through its center. Almost clinically, Mister Bellona examined Charlus’s handiwork before nodding in an almost approving sort of way. “Adequate.” he said, turning back to face Charlus. “I do not suppose you would endeavour to tell me which memory you used?”
Charlus shook his head. He would never. After all, how could he possibly reveal what made him more furious than anything else? How could he possibly reveal that the image of his brother, endorsing the anti-muggle beliefs of Lucius Malfoy made him more furious than his mother’s murderer. True, there was more to it than that. A large part of his anger did not come from Harry himself, but the situations surrounding him. A large part of his anger came from what they should have been. The two of them should have been brothers, inseparable members of one happy family. This, Charlus wanted above all else — the Mirror of Erised had even shown him as much.
But instead, Harry had been sorted into the breeding ground for dark witches and wizards. Instead, Charlus had slowly lost his brother over the past year to the influences of the Conservatives. Charlus had been concerned after their encounter with Voldemort down in the catacombs.
Now, he was certain of it.
Harry Potter, his twin brother, was surely lost to those of darkness, and that thought made Charlus more angry than any other.
This chapter was astonishingly difficult to write. Even more so because I expected it to be quite easy. In saying that, the next chapter is more straightforward and it posed me almost no trouble at all.
In the next chapter, Harry and his friends will finally return to Hogwarts, which is something that I know a lot of people have been looking forward to.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be posted next Saturday, July 25th, 2020 at approximately 3:00 PM EST.
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