Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 8: Schemes and Sortings Part II
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership nor do I make any profit.
Acknowledgement: Thank you as always to my betas Umar, Yoshi89, Fezzik and Luq707 for their incredible work on this story.
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September 1, 1992
The Great Hall at Hogwarts
Harry could not remember a time when the Great Hall had ever been this quiet. In the moments following the Sorting Hat’s shocking proclamation that sent Ginny Weasley to Slytherin, one would be able to hear a pin drop anywhere in the Great Hall. Slowly, ever so slowly, as Ginny Weasley began to make her way towards the other Slytherin first years seated at the far end of the table, the muttering began.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, it began from the Gryffindor table and spread outwards through the hall. In all fairness, even the Slytherins were muttering. Harry caught a glimpse of Parkinson and Malfoy, both of whom looked as if they suddenly realized they had been struck by a bolt of lightning. Harry too, was surprised. He could not honestly say that he knew any member of the Weasley clan well, but he had certainly pegged them as a universally Gryffindor family. Then, he realized exactly how hypocritical that sounded.
After all, the reaction Ginny Weasley was getting was not all that different than the one he himself had received.
As the small red-headed girl neared the Slytherin table, looking exceedingly nervous each and every step of the way, the booing and cat-calls began to emanate from the Gryffindor table. Harry did notice that none of the Weasley clan were partaking in it, but he felt for Ginny right about now. Not only for the booing, but for the fact that she looked wholly and completely overwhelmed. As Ginny finally took her seat at the Slytherin table, Professor McGonagall mercifully spared her at long last by calling the final and, to Harry, the most interesting, yet least mysterious name of all.
In contrast to Ginny, Charlotte looked like royalty as she sauntered up to the stool. Her hands were held loosely in front of her and her face was a perfect mask of calm. Not a single hair was out of place as she neared the stool. This time, it was the Slytherins who were muttering, and the overall sentiment at the silver and green table was universal.
Another Weitts in Slytherin?
Despite the high interest at the Slytherin table, Charlotte’s sorting turned out to be much less dramatic than Ginny’s. Within thirty seconds of being on her head, the Sorting Hat had loudly proclaimed her a Slytherin. Showing emotion for the first time throughout the whole process, Charlotte allowed a bright, radiant smile to spread across her face as she made her way towards the Slytherin table.
That was where the drama began for each and every member of Slytherin house.
It was an unwritten rule within Slytherin house that first years sat at the far end of the table unless openly endorsed by an older student. On the first night, that was not even an option. This was made obvious by the fact that every single Slytherin first year was sitting in perfect alphabetical order at the far left end of the Slytherin table. And it was very clear that Charlotte knew this. In fact, she even took the time to glance at all of the first years and politely incline her head.
Right before marching further up the table seemingly without a care in the world.
As Charlotte drew near, Blaise was the first to realize what was about to happen. Thankfully, there was an open seat a few students down, and he began to bully the nearest students out of their seats so he could leave an open spot between himself and Harry. Then, with the attention of the entire hall upon her, Charlotte dropped confidently down into the seat beside Harry with her smile still perfectly in place.
Even the rest of the hall were muttering at the oddity. They had not been foolish enough to miss both the obvious seating pattern at the Slytherin table and the rather tense reaction to the house’s newest first year’s choice of seat. The rest of the hall did not quite understand the extent of the move though.
This was the equivalent of Charlotte saying that she cared not for the policies of the house. This was essentially an open challenge for somebody to do something about it.
And for now, at least, nobody moved a muscle to stop her.
Harry wondered just how much leeway Charlotte’s surname would give her until Grace graduated at the end of the year, and hoped it kept up like this and did not make her a target. If that natural protection began to fade, Harry was going to have a long year. Charlotte had made it blatantly obvious that she was not exactly going to keep the lowest of profiles, and Harry internally groaned at how difficult and dangerous his agreement with Grace could become. He really wished that they had practiced some combat magic over the summer. The Occlumency training was great, and he was about to begin the second level of Occlumency, but if this kept up, he would need the practice very, very soon.
The tension in the hall was broken once more when Dumbledore swept to his feet, wearing vibrant red robes trimmed and dotted with white that shone alongside his beard in the low candlelight of the hall. His smile was infectious and Harry may have fallen for what he now suspected to be a facade had he not wanted to wrap that beard around the headmaster’s throat and forcefully strangle him with it.
Harry very much doubted that he would ever forgive James. If that much was true, he was completely and utterly certain that he would never forgive Dumbledore.
Speaking of Dumbledore, loathe the man as Harry might, he still had to very grudgingly admire the fact that Dumbledore’s mere presence could silence a hall that had been in complete uproar only moments earlier.
“The time for rambling draws near.” Dumbledore told the hall with his customary twinkle on full display. “But the time for food has first arrived. Bon Appetit!”
Harry heard Charlotte sigh from beside him as the heaping plates of food arrived. It was only then that he realized her perfectly composed demeanour was likely an act. “How does it feel?” he asked her quietly, sparing her a rare, warm smile as she tiredly returned the expression, though her eyes still gleamed with what Harry was sure she counted as a major victory.
“Exactly as perfect as I’d always imagined.” Charlotte said with a smile. “I’m sure you’re relieved as well.” she commented. “Imagine how miserable you’d be after spending the summer with me if I had been a Gryffindor.”
Harry’s lips twitched. “I don’t know what’s more amusing.” he told her. “The fact that you seem to think I wouldn’t survive without you, or the image of you sitting beside Ronald Weasley wearing red robes.”
Charlotte made a face. “Red robes would go terribly with my hair and eyes.” she pointed out. When Harry just rolled his own eyes, Charlotte smiled that sweet, trademarked smile of hers. “Admit it, Harry. You’re glad I’m in Slytherin.”
Harry was very reserved about laughing in public, but he did allow a wide grin to spread across his face in spite of himself. “You’re right, Charlotte,” he admitted, figuring it was best tonight to just let her have her moment, “we’re glad to have you.”
Meanwhile, outside the Castle…
All in all, Charlus had experienced a rather dreadful day. When he had first proposed the idea of flying a car to Hogwarts, he would be lying if he did not admit to being extremely excited. At the time, that thought brought forth visions of grandeur, enjoyment and a grandiose arrival that would leave the students of Hogwarts gushing on for years to come. In truth, he and Ron had experienced seven long, agonizing hours with the sun beating forcefully down on them as they sailed aimlessly after the Hogwarts Express without any exciting ways to pass the time.
As dull as that all had been, Charlus would have happily gone through another seven hours of all of it to spare the two of them from what came next. In the aforementioned images of grandeur that Charlus had conjured up in his mind’s eye hours earlier, there certainly had not been any of them that featured them getting knocked out of the sky by a tree that somehow moved. Worse than moving was the fact that the tree seemed to only be able to move with one purpose in mind.
Certainly, another one of Charlus’s images had not been of Ron and him, cowering in a car, as the violent excuse for a tree seemed to do its absolute best at collapsing the roof on top of them.
Fortunately for the both of them, the car too seemed to have a mind of its own. It managed one last, desperate spurt of energy that was enough to carry them out of range of the tree.
Moments later, the car rudely deposited the two boys and their luggage right at the edge of the Forbidden Forest before,with a rather indignant sounding honk of its horn, it took off, seemingly to find refuge somewhere within the depths of the black forest itself. If it wasn’t bad enough that the two of them had been knocked out of the air and were sporting several minor injuries a piece, it was certainly bad enough to lose the now heavily damaged flying car that Charlus had helped steal from his best friend’s parents. And of course, the icing on the cake was the fact that said best friend seemed to have a next to useless stick in place of a wand.
“Well,” Charlus muttered sheepishly as both boys seemed at a loss for what to say, “at least this night can’t get any worse.”
“For future reference, Incompetent Potter,” came a harsh yet amused sounding drawl from behind them, “I would advise you to perhaps leave the gods of irony unchallenged in the future.”
‘Sure,’ Charlus thought bitterly, marvelling at his misfortune as he turned to face the rather smug-looking visage of his least favourite Hogwarts professor, ‘why not? It’s not like everything else has gone wrong today or anything.’
Some time later, back in the Great Hall…
As the plates of dessert finally cleared, leaving dozens of Hogwarts students groaning in satisfaction at their now full stomachs, Harry wondered absentmindedly if Snape had found his brother. Judging by the fact that neither of them had returned to the hall since Snape’s departure some time ago, he would presume he had. Dumbledore and McGonagall’s brief absence also added to that suspicion though by now, both of them had been back for some time.
Now, Dumbledore was standing once more, and Harry seriously debated clearing his mind simply so he wouldn’t have to deal with the wave of fury that crashed against his consciousness as Dumbledore graced them all with a deceptively benign smile.
“My favourite part of each and every year at Hogwarts.” the Headmaster began fondly. “It is always so great to see each of you at the start of term, all looking so healthy, eager and rejuvenated. In saying that, I understand that you are not as excited to see me and am sure you would much rather see your beds, so I will do my best to be prompt with the necessary matters of business that must be taken care of.
“Our new crop of first years should note that the Forbidden Forest on the edge of the grounds is, as the name implies, forbidden to all students.” His eyes flicked briefly towards the Gryffindor table as he spoke, but he did not comment on the fact. “Our caretaker, Mister Filch, has asked me to remind each of you that magic is not to be performed in the corridors. For a rather expansive, more comprehensive list of other such offences, there is a list of somewhere north of two-hundred offences that is prominently displayed in Mister Filch’s office for all of your reading pleasures.
“Quidditch tryouts will be held during the second and third weekends of term depending on which house you so proudly belong to. All interested candidates should submit their names to their Head of House as soon as possible.
“And finally, we have two new professors joining our esteemed staff this year!” Harry’s brow rose, though he did not join in the tumult of chatter that erupted at Dumbledore’s proclamation. “Firstly, we have Professor Ashley, who will be filling in for Professor Sinistra as the Astronomy professor this year while dear Aurora enjoys a rather well deserved sabbatical.” A red-headed woman near the end of the staff table waved a bit shyly out at the mass of students, but many of them were paying her no mind.
Indeed, most of the eyes in the hall had come to rest on the more obvious addition to the staff.
“And our second and final new addition comes in the form of Professor Lockhart.” Dumbledore said with a smile. “He will be putting his many talents and wealth of experience to good use as he educates all of you in the finer points of Defense Against The Dark Arts.”
When his name was called, Lockhart swept gracefully to his feet, treating the entire student body to a rather blinding smile that seemed to cast his bright blue robes to shame. After taking a deep, theatrical bow, Lockhart retook his seat and Dumbledore, who seemed amused by the entire display, yawned before smiling tiredly out at all of the gathered students.
“Well, I know you are all yearning for the comforts of your beds and for the end to my ramblings. Allow me to grant both of those wishes simultaneously.” With that, the benches all seemed to scrape back at once as everybody climbed to their feet.
Harry stood, almost forgetting Charlotte was beside him until they were standing. The fifth year prefects, Cassius and Calypso, funnily enough, were calling the first years to join them. Harry rose a brow towards Charlotte, obviously asking her whether or not she would follow the prefects or disregard tradition once more. In response, Charlotte simply smiled back at him. “Come on, Harry?” she said mockingly. “Surely you don’t think I would just ignore a prefect.” Then, with a mock glare, Charlotte spun on her heel, marching towards the prefects with her head held high.
“This is going to be a very interesting year.” Daphne deadpanned darkly. Her eyes too were following Charlotte as she spoke. At least she hadn’t promised her older sister that she would protect her. Suddenly, Harry wasn’t sure all of the training in the world would be worth it.
Charlotte was not going to make his life easy.
“It certainly doesn’t seem as interesting as the last.” Blaise chimed in as they began to make their way out of the hall. As he spoke, Harry noticed that Blaise actually managed to sound disappointed. “There wasn’t even a warning about a very painful death this time.”
“Personally,” Harry said in a voice low enough not to carry past the ears of his three friends, “I think I can handle going a year without coming anywhere near a very painful death, but that’s just me.” Blaise actually laughed but Daphne just glared at Harry. She did not seem to enjoy his darker jokes when they were at his own expense.
“She was being a bit bold though, wasn’t she?” Tracey asked in a whisper, very obviously in reference to Charlotte.
“She was.” Harry said quietly. “I… think she’ll be able to get away with it, at least at first.”
“That won’t last forever.” Daphne pointed out.
Harry nodded slowly as they finally drew close to the exit. “No,” he admitted, “it won’t.”
When they exited the hall, Harry walked in the direction opposite the stairs leading down to the dungeons. Daphne called after him but instead, he simply gestured for his three friends to follow. Hesitant and perplexed, the trio obliged him, only to be led into the same antichamber that they had all occupied before their sorting.
“What are we doing here?” Tracey asked as all of them, minus Harry, examined the room for the first time since the sorting a year earlier.
In response, Harry just turned to a portrait of a rather ancient looking wizard and tapped it three times with his wand. Instantly, the full sized portrait swung to the side, revealing a hidden passageway that, of the four of them, only Harry had known was there.
“Taking a shortcut.” he answered with a smirk at the gobsmacked look on Tracey’s face. “I would’ve just come in here through the door off the hall, but it was a bit too crowded to try and fight the herd.” He smirked more broadly in the direction of Tracey and Daphne, doing his best to portray a demeanour of complete and total smugness. “Don’t look so surprised,” he said offhandedly, “if the two of you had come with me for all of those exploring sessions early last year, you’d know about this passage. It was actually one of the first ones I found while at Hogwarts.” Daphne and Tracey both glared at him as Blaise whistled, being the first one to follow Harry through the tunnel.
“Not bad.” he commended. “I know about the one me and you used to listen in on the Terrors, but how many other tricks do you have up your sleeve, my friend?”
“Enough.” Harry answered with that same, arrogant smirk.
A minute or so later, the four of them came out rather close to the Slytherin common room. “How are we all supposed to know the password?” Harry asked absentmindedly as they drew close to the common room.
“There is no password.” said a familiar voice from behind them. When they turned, Grace, her best friend Rhea, and some of her other acquaintances were on their tails. “The password is never set until the fifth year Prefects arrive with the first years.” Grace elaborated. “There is a reason that they always take the longest possible route, you know?”
Harry nodded; it made sense that they would give the rest of the house ample amounts of time to enter the common room before they deposited the new crop of students and closed the entrance along with them. There was a moment when Harry’s eyes met with Grace’s and he had to stop himself from calling her by her first name. “Good to know. Thanks, Weitts.” Grace nodded, gesturing for Harry and his friends to go ahead.
Minutes later, the four of them entered the common room. All four of them immediately made to go off in the direction of the dorms, but Grace caught Harry’s eye and very subtly shook her head.
He had to pause and think. It was clear she was signifying that it was best if he stayed in the common room, but why? As a matter of fact, there were several students staying behind, not counting Grace and her entourage.
Harry nodded as subtly as he could manage while meeting her eye, ushering Blaise on ahead to bed before he silently crept back into the common room, taking a seat rather near the lounge occupied by Grace and her friends. Then, he waited, wishing rather intensely that he had a book of some kind to occupy his time. Instead, he cleared his mind and went through the process of searching for any irregularities, even though there were none. Well, unless one counted the still sizzling anger that had been brought on by the sight of the Hogwarts Headmaster, but Harry did not.
Thankfully, Slytherin House was, for the most part, punctual. At least when they knew that it was in their best interests to show a degree of punctuality. This allowed for Cassius and Calypso not to take too much time with the first years and before Harry knew it, Charlotte and the rest were entering the common room. Harry watched Charlotte, and observed how her eyes roamed hungrily over every square inch of the common room before briefly resting on her sister and to Harry’s mild surprise, himself.
The first years, minus Charlotte, Ares and another tall, blonde girl all showed varying degrees of surprise at the silky smooth voice that seemed to come from nowhere. This time, Harry was not taken aback by the sudden appearance of his Head of House. He even snapped his eyes quickly enough over to the corner in which Snape had been lurking, evidently invisible, to see him shimmer into existence with an impassive look upon his visage.
Harry didn’t really have a strong opinion on the man. He did not blatantly abuse Harry as he did Charlus, but he also did not show him the preferential treatment that the rest of Slytherin house received unconditionally. As a teacher, Snape was competent but not great. When he lectured, it was well done but when he set them to brewing, he typically seemed indifferent. All of that aside, there was one thing about Severus Snape that Harry, nor even Charlus, could deny.
He very obviously had a flair for the dramatics, no matter how hard he tried to hide it behind a trademarked sneer and everlasting blank expression.
“Welcome to the noble house of Salazar Slytherin.” Snape told the collected first years in little more than a whisper. “This house prides itself on cunning and ambition, and I expect each of you to follow those time honoured traits. Those of this house will strive for their goals unconditionally. They will do whatever they see fit to achieve such goals, and they will achieve great things that will later reflect positively upon the house as a whole.” his lip curled. “In saying so, members of this house will not, under any circumstances, rush into a given situation with the sole desire for glory. Members of this house will not stick their necks out onto the metaphorical chopping block simply to gain some… notoriety. The path to success is narrow and treacherous. In order to not fall off the path, one must maintain a critical balance and understand the risk versus the reward of every situation they willingly enter themselves into. Only by doing so will you find that success is achievable.”
Harry’s sentiment about Snape’s dramatic flair only grew as the man went on. He also could not help but notice that Snape seemed to be putting more effort into this batch of first years than he had when Harry and his yearmates had first entered the snake pit. The fact did not bother Harry. In fact, it invoked no emotional response at all. Still, it was interesting; an inconsistency in a man who seemed to make the very possibility of inconsistencies seem impossible.
“But, I suppose,” Snape went on, a glint in his eyes, “that in order to achieve success, one must understand what success really is.”
From there, the Potions Master made a show of asking each first year in turn to answer the question, “What is success?”
The answers ranged from financial security, to true happiness, to everything in between. Charlotte had answered that success was gaining a position of power, one where you could not be controlled. Personally, that would have been Harry’s answer a year ago, but for very different reasons. Still, Snape gave no reaction, and Harry had the feeling he was looking for something a bit less… personalized.
“Potter!” Snape suddenly snapped, and Harry nearly jumped out of his chair as his name was called. Still, he looked up and met Snape’s eyes steadily, trying not to show how annoyed or surprised he was at being called upon while the man was supposed to be lecturing the first years.
“What, Potter, in your estimation, is success?”
Harry took a long, hard minute to ponder Snape’s question, acutely aware that every first year’s gaze was fast upon him. He wondered how many of them were curious about him and how many of them actually cared about his answer. After several moments, he decided to follow his earlier train of thought. Perhaps it was not what Snape was looking for, but at the very least, it would give nothing away.
“I don’t think a specific answer can be given, Professor.” When Snape clearly wanted more, Harry elaborated. “All of us have different goals. If we didn’t, ambition would be pointless. I think that success is achieving whatever goals you set for yourself. It also ties in to happiness, since that’s one of the only things I can think of that makes everyone happy no matter what.”
Snape did not speak for somewhere between five and ten seconds. Then, he did something that actually surprised Harry more than being called upon at all. “Five points to Slytherin, Mister Potter, for a very… enlightened explanation.” Harry could only remember one other time when Snape had given him points. That had been exactly one day short of a year ago. Seeing as Harry had a near eidetic memory, that was saying a lot.
Snape turned to the students gathered before him. “As Mister Potter stated, ambition is fundamentally of no use if everyone’s ambitions are the same. Success is the fulfillment of one’s ambition, which is one of the things that makes it such a distinct pleasure to be sorted into the house.” As he said this, his eyes briefly rested on Ginny Weasley, who flinched back noticeably. Harry could have winced for her. She would have to learn and evolve fast, lest she get eaten alive by the metaphorical pit of vipers that was Slytherin House as a whole.
“As such,” Snape continued, his voice rising in volume as he prepared to end his lecture, “each and every single one of you will strive to achieve your goals and by extension, be a credit to the house you were sorted into.” He took a moment to look pensively at each first year in turn. “Failure to do so will lead to my… displeasure.”
With that parting message, Snape whirled, causing his robes to billow as he swept straight out of the Slytherin common room, leaving a herd of rather dumbstruck first years behind. Moments later, Calypso and Cassius stepped forward again and began the process of escorting the first years to their respective dormitories. Harry thought about leaving as well, but instinctively, he knew that his night was not yet over.
Charlotte walked in silence as she followed the older girl she had met weeks earlier in Diagon Alley towards her new dormitory. When Calypso wished the first years a goodnight and exited the room, Charlotte sighed and let her eyes roam freely. It was certainly much less luxurious than what she was accustomed to, but it was by no means unsuitable. There was plenty of free space and each of the beds looked warm, comfortable and inviting. Charlotte’s trunk was at the foot of her bed, but she didn’t need it tonight. Instead, she pulled a bag from her pocket that could fit easily in the palm of her hand, put it on her bed and enlarged it to normal size with a tap of her wand.
Before she could remove her pyjamas and change into them, a clearing of a throat caught Charlotte off guard. Before her stood the only Slytherin girl taller than her from the year. She too had platinum blonde hair, though her eyes were a stormy grey. “You’re the youngest member of House Weitts, aren’t you?” the girl asked in a smooth, sophisticated voice. Charlotte nodded, examining her closely as she tried to put together who the girl was. She was familiar, but not intimately so. “Slater,” the other girl supplied, holding out her hand as she did so, “Laine Slater.”
Charlotte nodded as she took the outstretched hand. Slater was another fairly new house to Magical Britain. Well, that wasn’t exactly true, she supposed. They were actually set to become an Ancient House quite soon, but they were nowhere near as old as many of the prestigious families that lorded over the nation. The Slaters had turned themselves into economic giants quite recently in spite of their relatively young age. Laine’s father, Henry had done wonders for the family’s economic prospects, and they had gained a fair bit of notoriety as a result.
“A pleasure to meet you.” Charlotte said with a winning smile. “You are the heiress, then?” Laine had a twin brother named Arthur, and Charlotte honestly could not remember off the top of her head which of the two were the heir or heiress. Out of the two of them, Charlotte had only thus far met Laine, but she certainly carried herself with the admirable poise of a pureblood heiress.
“I am, yes.” Laine said, smiling. “Mind if I take this one?” she asked, gesturing to the bed across from Charlotte’s. Charlotte had claimed the bed nearest the door, which was a fairly prime location in her estimation.
Charlotte shook her head, opening her bag and removing a pair of grey pyjamas made from sleek, acromantula silk. “Go right ahead.” she said politely, not paying her new counterpart a whole lot of mind. She caught Laine smile at her from the corner of her eye before walking over to her own bed. Before Charlotte could do more than unfold her night clothes, her ears perked up at a drawl from across the room.
“What do you think, Weasley? Bit of a downgrade for me personally, but I’m sure this must seem like a manor home to you.” Charlotte glanced across the room and frowned. A girl that she had never met was smirking confidently at Weasley, who flushed as red as her hair under the pressure. The two of them were both rather short. Weasley was the more athletic looking of the two, though perhaps an inch or two shorter than her counterpart. Her fiery red hair stood out rather vividly, and Charlotte had to admit that it went well with her slate brown eyes. In contrast, her counterpart’s hair was a sleek black colour and it fell to right around her shoulderblades. Her eyes were every bit as dark as her hair, with their colouration resembling that of a block of cole.
To Weasley’s credit, she didn’t back down. When Charlotte had spotted her demeanour at the table, she had immediately taken her for a lost cause. She had been slumped, pale, and miserable looking. Now, she was bristling and she advanced on this other girl. Travers, Charlotte thought her surname was, and got right in her personal space.
“Keep your mouth shut about my family before I shut it for you!” Weasley hissed menacingly.
To Travers’s credit, she did not give an inch. “I’ll speak how I’d like, thank you very much. A bit rich, you know? The youngest member of a blood traitor family trying to tell me what I can and can’t say.”
“I’d rather my family be called blood traitors than be in Azkaban!” Ginny hissed, and all at once, the energy in the room changed as the tension thickened. “At least I’ve met my parents.”
Travers flushed and quickly went for her wand, but luckily, Charlotte and Ares had the same idea.
Charlotte’s spell struck Travers while Ares’s struck Ginny. Both girls promptly lost their wand and before anymore could come of the situation, Charlotte and Laine both stepped forward. Ares just scowled, looking as if she was more annoyed about being disturbed than anything else. As if to affirm the thought, she tossed Charlotte Ginny’s wand before retreating behind her curtains. After a minute or so, Charlotte could feel wards rise around the bed. In the meantime, she currently had a situation to defuse, because she was rather intent on sleeping, and this distraction was unacceptable. Laine beat her to the squabble, though.
“Can we just hold off on this for a bit?” she asked, clearly exasperated. “I’d like to sleep at some point, and I’d rather not have to curse somebody’s mouth shut.”
Travers sneered, though Ginny did take a step back, even if she did not stop glaring forcefully at her counterpart. “Curse my mouth shut? I didn’t see you take out your wand. Stay out of it, Slater. I have no interest in hearing or listening to you right now.”
“What about me?” Charlotte asked, stepping directly in between Laine and Travers and looking down at the shorter girl with a blank expression and raised eyebrow.
Travers opened her mouth, paused, and closed it again. She could practically feel the magical tension radiating off of Charlotte and every bit of her was screaming to not oppose her. Travers scowled at Ginny one last time. “You’re lucky she decided to play bodyguard for the night, Weasley.” Travers held out her hand. “My wand, please?” Charlotte held it out to her, though she kept a firm grip on her own. The two girls locked eyes and Evelyn Travers nearly recoiled.
The look on Charlotte’s face was very clear in its meaning.
Curse me and find out what happens.
Evelyn took her wand and quickly scrambled towards her bed, closing the curtains.
Charlotte turned to Ginny, who was now looking at the floor. “Here,” she told her, offering the smaller girl her wand. Ginny took it but did not meet her stare. As the two of them made their way back towards their beds, Charlotte whispered several final words to the youngest Weasley. “Watch yourself, Weasley. No need to make enemies already. Not if you don’t have a good reason, at least.”
Back in the Slytherin common room…
After Snape had left the room and Harry had pondered for a few minutes, he had decided to briefly return to his dormitory in order to fetch something to read. He wound up reading his compendium on Ancient Runes for quite some time. Only when he heard the final sounds of students leaving for their respective dormitories did Harry look up. As he had expected, the room was now essentially empty. The exceptions were Grace, who was still sitting in the lounge and, to Harry’s slight surprise, Rhea, the sixth year Slytherin girls’ Prefect. To Harry’s even greater surprise, Grace caught his eye and subtly gestured for him to join them. Harry had expected a conversation with Grace, but he had not actually considered that she would call him over to the rather symbolic collection of seats reserved for Slytherin’s elite. Nor did he think she would do so in the company of anybody else, not even Rhea who, from what Harry could tell, was by far her closest friend.
Trying to mask all of these thoughts the best he could, Harry closed his book, packed it into his school bag, which he had also retrieved while up in the dorms, and made his way over to the two Slytherin Prefects, one sixth year, one seventh year. Of course, Grace was also the Head Girl, something that the shining badge pinned to the left of her chest made obvious. She still wore her Prefect’s Badge as well, though it was now pinned on the right side of her chest.
“Relax, Harry; neither of us bite.” Grace told him when he paused in front of them, gesturing to the spot on her left. Rhea was currently sitting to her right. Harry took the seat as instructed and took a moment to look at the common room from this perspective. Until now, he had never considered that he might one day end up in Grace’s position. Now, as he examined the common room from the perspective she always saw it from, he made a single promise to himself that one day, he would be sitting in her spot.
Not because he had been invited to, but because he had forcefully seized it.
Of course, he was not delusional enough to think that would happen this year, or perhaps even next, but one day…
“Have you two ever met?” Grace asked, looking curiously from Harry to Rhea.
Harry shook his head, and Rhea answered verbally. “Not really. I escorted him to the common room last year and may have spoken to him a few other times throughout the year.” She leaned across Grace, extending her hand. “Rhea Pax, Heiress of House Pax. It’s nice to meet you.”
Harry took her hand, briefly greeting her formally. “Harry Potter, Heir of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter and all the rest. A pleasure to meet you.” Then, he looked at Grace.
“You seem a bit surprised.” Rhea commented as the two leaned back in their seats once more, Harry still peering curiously at the girl in the middle.
Harry paused, wanting to carefully articulate his next sentence. “I was… under the impression that Grace and I were to continue as we had been last school year, at least while in public.”
“And we are,” Grace dismissed, “but this isn’t public, is it?”
Harry frowned. ”I don’t doubt Rhea’s trustworthiness and all the rest, but somebody could still just walk into the common room right now, could they not?”
“Of course they could.” Grace said as if it were obvious. “They could walk right in at any time… and see me and Rhea sitting here alone, reading.”
Harry blinked. “Um… how’d you manage that, exactly?”
“For what it’s worth,” Rhea said with a small smile, “I asked her the same question last year when she started doing it.”
Grace’s lips curved upwards. “It’s a magical illusion.” she explained to Harry. “Sort of a combination of wards and mind magic.”
“I… didn’t even know something like that was even possible.”
“Most people aren’t.” Grace said honestly. “It’s a pretty obscure technique. There are many variations of it. This is one that I created before my sixth year.” For the first time in his memory of Grace, she allowed just a touch of pride to invade her tone. Again, Harry was reminded of her younger sister, if vaguely.
“That sounds… extremely complicated.”
Rhea sniffed. “You should see the Arithmancy.”
Harry winced. He really needed to start on that at some point this year. “I’ll pass for now.” he said, still mildly perplexed as to how natural Grace and Rhea were treating the whole situation.
“Have you figured out what’s gone on tonight?” Grace asked. Harry was sorely tempted to say something along the lines of, “the sorting”, but he knew that Grace was referencing everything with her specifically.
“You wanted me to stay and watch Snape talk to the first years to gather information, of some kind, for some reason that I haven’t completely figured out yet. Then, you wanted me to stay to explain the reasoning, or what information I was supposed to pick up on, or a combination of the two?”
Rhea whistled quietly. “Not bad.” she complimented, looking at Harry with a slightly heightened air of interest.
“Not at all.” Grace seconded. “You’re entirely correct, even if you’ve obviously not figured out the details. I wanted you to stay to observe the first years and how they answered the question. Snape always asks a question to the first years during the first night back. It’s usually something to do with the house traits. Something that promotes either cunning or ambition.”
Harry frowned. “He never asked anything last year.”
Grace frowned too, obviously trying to remember. “No,” she muttered quietly, “I suppose he didn’t.”
“That’s odd.” Rhea noted speculatively.
“It’s certainly interesting.” Grace agreed pensively. “Either way, he almost always, I suppose, asks a question to the first years. Questions like that let you get a gauge on them and what they may be after. At the very least, you’ll get a feel for the mask that they’ll wear, if they’re smart enough to not just spill their personal information.”
Harry nodded. “That… actually makes a lot of sense.” his brow furrowed. “I’m still not entirely sure why you’re telling me all this, though. Or, why you had me do it in the first place. Not that it’s not useful. It was a good idea, but I’m not seeing a motive.”
Grace laughed softly as Rhea eyed him with an entirely new air about her. “I have said this once and I will say it again.” Grace told him. “You are the single, most paranoid child that I have ever met in my life.”
Harry shrugged. “If the hat fits, I guess.”
“I can promise you that I have no intention of leading you into anything that won’t benefit you in the long run.” Harry instantly knew that he was about to receive a half-truth. He also had a strong feeling that Grace was well-aware that she had just tipped him off. “I wanted you to try and get a gauge on the first years to see who may be a threat to my sister.”
only affirmed Harry’s suspicion. Grace had not seemed concerned with the first years over the summer. It had been the likes of Macnair and Selwyn that had her worried. Still, Harry imagined there was some truth to it, though also some undertones that he was missing.
Still, he did not reveal any of those thoughts. “I see,” he said, nodding along,”that makes some sense, I suppose.” He yawned, glancing towards his dorms.
“You can go if you’re tired.” Grace told him, stretching her arms above her head. “I’m not far behind you, ihonestly.” She fixed him with a stare. “8:00 PM on Friday.”
Harry nodded as he stood to his feet, understanding the meaning well enough. “Works for me. Any ideas where yet?”
Grace took a minute to think and when she spoke, her voice carried too much significance for Harry to believe that it was a coincidence. “I’m honestly not entirely sure. I’m sure you can find a room that’s suitable. Away from prying eyes and out of the way, preferably. I’ve heard that you’re… quite knowledgeable about the secrets of the castle.”
Harry nodded as he made his way back up towards his dorm. There was a tumult of thoughts crashing through his mind but one stuck out above all else.
Somehow, some way, Grace knew about the Speaker’s Den.
September 2, 1992
The Grounds of Hogwarts
Harry had not slept well that first night back at Hogwarts. His mind had been far too preoccupied trying and failing to formulate how Grace could possibly know of the Speaker’s Den and what impact it would have on him and his friends. He was reasonably certain that she would never guess the password, but was it possible she could find another way of entering? Not that it was detrimental to him if she found it. He had nothing valuable in there or anything like that. But the room had become a fairly sentimental place for him, even though he had not yet spent a whole lot of time within it. It felt almost sacred at this point, and he could not, for the life of him, figure out how on earth Grace had managed to discover the room at all.
In the end, he had decided that it was probably best for his mental stability if he gave his brain an opportunity to forget things as complex as his current dilemma.
So instead, he’d made his way out onto the Hogwarts grounds and nicked one of the school brooms out of the shed. Technically, they weren’t supposed to be used by students without permission, but Harry highly doubted that anyone would check the grounds at this time of the morning, and it was all too easy to open the shed. In fact, he didn’t even bother using his wand to do so. Admittedly, the school brooms weren’t great. They were certainly a step down from the brooms he had ridden for most of the summer at Weitts Manor. The same could be said for the Comet 260 that he had taken out a few times while over at Daphne’s home. But still, there were few things that Harry enjoyed more than the wind whipping through his hair and the sensation of weightlessness that was brought on by flying.
He flew several laps at top speed around the lake before shooting off in the direction of the Quidditch pitch. As he entered the stadium and flew straight through one of the goal hoops and out onto the pitch proper, Harry suddenly realized that he was not alone.
There was another figure on a broom up ahead of him, though he was facing the opposite direction and had yet to notice Harry’s arrival. He was wearing Slytherin Quidditch robes, and the familiar number 5 was emblazoned on the back. With a jolt, Harry realized exactly who this was, and there was a moment where he pondered whether or not it was best to fly off. In the end, he decided against it and swooped up beside Cassius, giving the older Slytherin a rather nasty surprise that nearly sent him toppling off of his broom.
Harry couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing right there, pausing to hover in the air as he doubled over on his broom. The look of shocked incredulity imprinted upon Cassius’s visage had been far too much.
“Harry?” Cassius asked, too baffled to even bother his friend about the amusement Harry had felt as a result of his antics. “What are you doing out here?”
“I just wanted to clear my thoughts.” Harry said honestly as they began to fly a leisurely lap around the pitch. “I like flying when I’m not limited by Hooch. I found that out this summer when I had brooms to use.” Technically, he’d found that out in the catacombs last June, but he was hardly going to tell that story.
Cassius eyed him critically as he picked up speed, seemingly daring Harry to follow. Raising a brow, Harry did so. Cassius didn’t speed up too much. He knew that Harry was on a school broom and if he put on a true spurt of speed, he would lose him rather easily. Still, he picked up the pace significantly, flying around the corner at that same, high speed. Harry took a moment to decide whether or not to slow down as the turn fast approached. On the Nimbus 1999, and even the Comet 260 he had frequented over the summer, it wouldn’t have even been a thought. He would have simply taken the corner at top speed. But on this old, battered school broom that had an odd tendency to drift off to the left…
Deciding to bank on what seemed to be natural ability, Harry took the turn hard, turning in early and managing to keep his broom stable throughout. He even closed the gap on Cassius, something that seemed to take the older boy aback as he picked up speed once more.
And just like that, the two of them had a sort of game of cat and mouse on their hands.
Anytime there was a straight line, Cassius rocketed away from Harry with ease, aided by his superior broom and the fact that he could gain more momentum by leaning forward as a result of his greater mass. However, every time there was tight or continuous cornering involved, Harry managed to close the gap on Cassius in spite of the difference in their brooms, something the older boy viewed as absolutely remarkable.
When the two of them touched down on the pitch about an hour later, they were both smiling broadly and Harry was not sure he’d ever had so much fun in his life. Additionally, he felt as if his friendship with Cassius had just taken another large leap forward.
“You’ve got to try out for the team!” Cassius said excitedly.
Harry scoffed. “Cassius, I’m a second year. I’ve only been flying seriously for a few months and I’ve never played a game of Quidditch in my life. You’re mental if you think I’d have any chance at making that team.”
“No, Harry, I’m serious! I’m one of the better pure flyers on the team and you outflew me. I mean… yeah, I dusted you on the straights because of my broom, but you outmaneuvered me in the cornering while riding a broom that doesn’t turn! Do you have any idea how incredible that is?”
“Honestly? No, I have no idea.” Harry answered. “But even if it’s as amazing as you make it sound, which I doubt, by the way, there’s still the fact that — jeez, I don’t know — I’ve never played Quidditch in my life?”
Cassius just smirked back at Harry. “Oh, Harry, I forget how innocent and naive you are sometimes.” When Harry quirked a brow, Cassius elaborated. “You’ll go for seeker! You don’t need to have grown up playing Quidditch. For the most part, being a seeker hinges purely on flying ability and reflexes. I’ve seen how you fly, and I know from duelling that your reflexes are top notch.”
Harry frowned. “Two things: one, I have so much going on that I don’t even think I’d want to try out for the team.” Honestly, between his own personal studies, his intent to further explore the castle, and his private lessons twice a week with Grace, Harry had no idea how he’d fit Quidditch into that schedule without compromising any of its other components. “And two,” he continued, not allowing an incredulous looking Cassius to cut him off, “I thought you told me that Flint already had someone in mind for seeker?”
Cassius nodded, but the grin had not yet left his face. “He does, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when he sees you fly, he’s going to change his mind real quick!”
Harry sighed. “You say ‘when’ as if you’re going to manage to convince me to join.”
Harry almost recoiled at the predatory expression that crossed Cassius’s face. “Trust me, Harry, I am going to convince you to join.”
About an hour later, in the Great Hall…
Cassius had led Harry into the Slytherin changing room after their impromptu practice, waving off any and all concerns that Harry shouldn’t be there. As far as Cassius was concerned, Harry was a member of the team already. That confidence took Harry a bit aback, but as the changing room also held the nearest shower, he had not complained. When the two of them entered the Great Hall about ten minutes after the start of breakfast, they took seats near Calypso, Hestia and Flora. Daphne, Charlotte, Blaise and Tracey sat further down the table. Harry had shot them a questioning glance on his way into the hall, but Daphne had nodded, signalling that they didn’t mind if he sat with his older set of friends.
As soon as they took their seats, Cassius wasted no time quietly informing the other three about what he called “Harry’s prodigious abilities” on a broom. Truthfully, Harry thought he was blowing this way out of proportion, but even Calypso seemed grudgingly impressed by the account. She was still noncommittal in terms of backing Cassius’s claims. She had never exactly been an advocate of Cassius playing Quidditch, after all. But still, that fact only made Harry all the more surprised that she hadn’t shot him down at once. As usual, the Carrows, mainly Hestia, were vehemently assaulting Cassius verbally for his manic interest in Quidditch. Harry honestly found the whole thing quite hysterical, but unfortunately, the scene was cut off when an owl dropped a red, smoking letter in front of Ron Weasley, who’s skin whitened at once.
Harry had briefly glanced towards the Gryffindor table when he had entered the hall. Charlus and his brother’s ever present sidekick were indeed there, which meant that of course, Dumbledore had let his golden boy off the hook once more for an offence that surely would have led to expulsion in the case of any other student. The thing that annoyed Harry the most was that neither of them even looked that perturbed.
Of course, that all changed when the envelope arrived and the hall fell silent.
“What’s the deal with the red envelope?” Harry whispered to Calypso as it started smoking and a frantic Ron Weasley began to look about the hall, as if pleading for some sort of divine intervention.
“You’ll see.” Calypso said with a smirk, leaning back as far as she could on the bench and stretching her arms leisurely above her head. “Just enjoy the show; any second now…”
Right on cue, there was a thunderous explosion emanating from the smoking envelope as it went off like a bomb. Suddenly, every square inch of the Great Hall was filled with the terribly high pitched tones of a woman who Harry assumed to be Ron’s mother.
“RONALD WEASLEY!!” Ron actually dove under the table as the rest of the hall focused their undivided attention upon the now screaming letter. Unfortunately for Ron, the table did nothing to protect him from the verbal onslaught that he was about to receive.
“STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY’D EXPELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET HOLD OF YOU, I DON’T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TO THINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT WAS GONE.
“LETTER FROM DUMBLEDORE LAST NIGHT, I THOUGHT YOUR FATHER WOULD DIE OF SHAME, WE DIDN’T BRING YOU UP TO BEHAVE LIKE THIS, YOU AND CHARLUS COULD BOTH HAVE DIED — ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED — YOUR FATHER’S FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK, IT’S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT AND IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE WE’LL BRING YOU STRAIGHT BACK HOME!”
Mercifully for Ron and the ear drums of all in the hall, the letter then curled into ash upon the Gryffindor table and the voice of Molly Weasley ceased at once. Ron barely had the courage to poke his head out from under the table. Then, as the whole hall burst into fits of laughter, Weasley rushed to his feet, shaking like a leaf as he rushed out of the Great Hall. Charlus hesitated for only a moment, looking flushed and shaky himself before he followed. Harry noticed that he too had a letter clutched in his hands, but fortunately for the Boy-Who-Lived, it did not appear to be one that screamed.
“What the hell was that?” Harry asked Calypso, who smiled back at him as if she had just been privy to something truly special.
“That, Harry, was a howler. A right pain if it shows up in front of you, but terribly amusing when you’re not the target, wouldn’t you say?”
As immoral as it may have been, seeing as his brother was partially involved, Harry could not help but agree.
Later that day, in the Transfiguration Classroom…
Charlotte sighed in relief and had to actively resist the urge to jump for joy as finally, after spending the entire class working on it, she managed to transform the matchstick into a needle quite literally seconds before the final bell went off. Granted, it hadn’t been a true transformation. Charlotte had been managing to transfigure small bits of the matchstick as the class progressed. Finally, it was only the very tip that needed to be transformed, and that final attempt had done it. Beside her, a thoroughly frustrated Laine Slater had not managed anything beyond changing the colour of her matchstick, but she was hardly the only one.
As a matter of fact, the only other student that had made significant progress at all was Ares Black. She, like Charlotte, had managed to fully transfigure the matchstick. Like Charlotte, she had also achieved the transformation in the closing seconds of the class, and to Charlotte’s annoyance, she had no idea which of them had transfigured the matchstick first. Either way, both of them earned fifteen points from Professor McGonagall before they were dismissed from their final class of the day and allowed to go off to dinner.
Charlotte sighed; she would just have to ensure that she outperformed Ares Black and then some in Charms. After all, the Blacks did have a sort of affinity for Transfiguration, and Charlotte had always known the subject was not her strongest.
September 3, 1992
The Defense Against The Dark Arts Classroom
As a whole, Harry’s first day at Hogwarts had been uneventful.
After the clustered crop of chaos that had been his first fantastical year at Hogwarts, Harry was perfectly fine with the sudden dose of normality. Probably the most interesting or exciting thing from his first day, aside from Ron Weasley’s howler and his fancy flying with Cassius, had been their first Herbology lesson with Professor Sprout and the Ravenclaws. They had repotted baby Mandrakes. Harry had read about Mandrakes awhile ago, but they were an interesting plant to him. On one hand, they could be used in an extremely potent healing draft. On the other, their cry, once fully matured, could quite literally kill anything and everything in range. Harry found both of those things interesting, but it was the blatant contradiction in their nature that intrigued him.
Usually, when something had certain properties, like healing properties, in this case, their nature would match that. For example, unicorn blood, as Harry had learned from Firenze the previous year, could quite literally save somebody on the brink of death. This was not all that surprising when one considered the natural resilience, docility and grace of a unicorn. But a Mandrake… the contradiction between their cry and their healing properties intrigued Harry, but he had not gotten the chance to ask Professor Sprout about it.
Now, exactly one day later, Harry was pretty much certain that his brief stint of normality was about to come to a dramatic end that would very likely resemble a rather tragic train wreck.
Most of the second year Slytherin students sat eagerly attentive as the bell rang to signify the start of their first lesson in Defense Against The Dark Arts under the famous folk hero that was Gilderoy Lockhart. Speaking of Lockhart, the very man himself made his dramatic entrance at the exact moment the bell rang, sweeping into the classroom wearing forget-me-not blue robes that greatly accentuated the colour of his eyes.
The entire class seemed to hold its breath as one. Each and every one of them had sky-high hopes for this class. Each and every single one of them were tingling with excitement, wondering what such a legendary figure could teach them about a branch of magic that he himself had mastered so thoroughly.
Every single one of them but Harry Potter.
Harry feigned blind interest like each and every one of his classmates but internally, he was indifferent.
No, that wasn’t quite right. Harry was actually dreading this class.
While it was true that there had been the small downside of Professor Hurst turning out to be Lady Voldemort in disguise, she had, for better or for worse, been an absolutely magnificent teacher. Harry had learned an astounding amount from her both in and out of her class. He was quite certain that he would be nowhere near his current level of competence in the subject if not for Hurst’s — or, he supposed, Voldemort’s knowledge and, infuriatingly, her admittedly impressive skills as a teacher.
Even if Gilderoy Lockhart was everything he was chalked up to be, Harry was fairly certain that the Dark Lady’s teachings would not be matched in or out of this class.
There was also the small conundrum of Harry being completely and utterly certain that Gilderoy Lockhart was a massive fraud.
Nobody that pompous could be legitimate. If the man was such a folk hero, Harry had a feeling that he would be out doing those magically moral things as opposed to hiding within the walls of Hogwarts, by example. But still, the rest of the class seemed convinced as to his competence so for now, Harry would play along.
From the front of the class, a smiling Lockhart plucked his own autobiography off of the top of Lillian Moon’s pile of books.
“Allow me to introduce you to your new professor of Defense Against The Dark Arts — me.” he said simply, doing his best to match the pose on the cover of the book that he held. “Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League and five time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award – but I don’t talk about that. I didn’t get rid of the Bandon Banshee by smiling at her!” He gave a rather airy laugh, but to what Harry was sure was the man’s dismay, nobody laughed along with him.
Maybe, if he was lucky, Lockhart could get away with this act in front of the Gryffindors. But if he was going to try it in front of Slytherin House, he was going to get metaphorically eaten alive faster than he could say hair gel.
If the lack of laughter perturbed their professor, the man didn’t show it. On the contrary, he kept his wide, charming smile firmly in place as he continued his lesson.
“I see you’ve all bought a complete set of my books. Well done!” Harry could have gaped. He knew it would be bad, but not this bad. Lockhart was talking to them as if they were five! “I thought we’d start today with a little quiz.” he said enthusiastically. Suddenly, the mood in the class changed. Harry figured it would be a joke, so he wasn’t worried. “Nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about. Just to see how well you’ve read them; to see how much you’ve… taken in.” With a wave of his wand, all of the tests began distributing themselves onto each desk. When Harry looked down at the test in front of him, he could have laughed out loud.
1 – What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s favourite colour?
2 – What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s greatest achievement to date?
3 – When is Gilderoy Lockhart’s birthday and what would his ideal gift be?
And on and on and on the test went. All the way down to question 30, the last on the second page.
30 – What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s secret ambition?
Harry actively had to resist the urge to laugh. From beside him, Blaise was looking down at his test with an absolutely dumbstruck look on his face. “Are you ready to admit that I was right about Lockhart?” Harry asked smugly, referencing his previously voiced certainty that Lockhart was a fraud as well as Blaise’s scepticism of the fact.
But to Harry’s astonishment, Blaise looked at him, baffled. “What do you mean?” he asked, a glint now shining in his eye. “This is brilliant!”
Harry paused, seriously concerned for the wellbeing of his friend. “Um… Blaise? Can you please explain to me how, in any way, shape or form this is brilliant?” In response, Blaise simply reached over and turned Harry’s quiz to the third page and pointed, smirking smugly. Confused, Harry looked down, and his eyes widened.
31 – What is the most basic of the shield charms?
32 – What are the primary advantages and disadvantages of this charm? Explain each of them.
33 – Explain what might happen if you were hit with the Furnunculus hex.
And on it went…
40 – What is the name of the spell used to disarm another witch or wizard? Bonus points for if you can describe the spell’s fundamental limitations.
41 – What does the term “Esoteric Magic” mean?
42 – Give at least one example of an esoteric spell and explain why it meets the categorization.
Harry looked up sharply, unwilling to believe it. “It’s an act…” he muttered, suddenly eyeing Lockhart with absolute disbelief. Blaise smirked knowingly and went back to his quiz, prompting a rather dazed Harry to do the same.
As it turned out, Harry had not even opened any of Gilderoy Lockhart’s books. So sure he had been that Lockhart was a fraud, he hadn’t even bothered. As a result, he was fairly certain that he absolutely bombed the first thirty questions. At around fifteen, he stopped taking them seriously. He and Blaise began to play a game of one-upmanship, taking it in turns to mug off Lockhart with their completely unrelated answers.
Once Harry reached past question thirty, he was fairly confident in his answers. Still… some of those questions definitely had not been second year Defense questions. The one on Esoteric Magic in particular had been well beyond second year. Harry had read about it in a book on magical theory, but only because of Voldemort bringing it up vaguely to him early in his first year, prompting a personal investigation, of sorts. Thankfully, he did have an example of an esoteric spell, but only because had read up on the Boggart banishing spell quite recently.
All around the class, there were varying states of surprise, dismay and even outrage as people began to reach the true meat of the test. Finally, half an hour or so later, Lockhart summoned all the papers to him and began rifling through them with ruthless efficiency.
“Tut, tut – hardly any of you remembered that my favourite colour is lilac. I say so in Year with a Yeti. And a few of you need to read Wanderings with Werewolves more carefully – I clearly state in chapter twelve that my ideal birthday gift would be harmony between all magic and non-magic peoples – though I wouldn’t say no to a large bottle of Ogden’s Old Firewhisky!” Now, Lockhart was drawing baffled, if not indignant looks from much of the gathered crowd.
“But,” he said loudly, “Miss Pansy Parkinson remembered that my secret ambition is to rid the world of evil, and to market my own range of hair care products.” Lockhart promptly rifled to the second half of the quiz. “Though her performance was… average, on the more… practical questions. Mister Harry Potter, however,” he said, “seemed to know the answers to each and every one of these questions, which means he will be getting 100% on this first assignment!”
Harry’s eyes widened. He definitely had not gotten any of the first thirty right.
But then, Lockhart explained.
“All of you, except for Mister Potter, it seems, fell into my ploy without ever seeing any of it. I admit, I expected a bit better from the house of cunning.” When many of the faces around the room still looked bamboozled, Lockhart elaborated fully. “You see, I did do my best in the lead up to this job to look as overly narcissistic as one could possibly imagine.” he smiled. “While it’s true I do rather enjoy my smile and think I have done some rather noble things for the betterment of wizard kind, I am by no means Narcissus reincarnated.
“Now, let us see if you all do better with some more practical experience.” Lockhart stooped and lifted what appeared to be a large cage covered in a dark cloth and placed it on his desk. With a flourish, he removed the cloth to reveal a cage of… “Freshly caught Cornish Pixies!” he exclaimed, smiling broadly out at them. When the class just looked back at him, some baffled, some incredulous, some openly smirking, he too smirked, wagging a finger chidingly at the class as a whole. “Tut, tut — you’ve all done it again. You’ve fallen into the trap of preconceived misconceptions.” Then, he smiled deviously. “Think they’re such a joke, do you? Well, let’s see what you make of them!”
And he opened the cage.
All at once, pandemonium broke out.
Pansy Parkinson and Lilian Moon screamed as dozens of pixies lunged at both of their heads, intent on attacking their hair. Harry was the first on his feet, wand snapping into his hand from his holster. The first pixy to fly at him was immobilized with a full-body-bind, the next with a stunner. Then, about twelve of them jumped at him and Blaise, and he sent them all back with a knockback jinx.
Unfortunately, the rest of the class was not doing as well. Pansy was on the floor, shrieking as pixies pulled at her hair and ran through it like it was some kind of field. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott had already fled the room. Milicent Bulstrode was trying in vain to keep the pixies at bay by swinging a book, and poor Lily Moon was hanging from the chandelier. To their credit, Daphne and Tracey were taking down pixie after pixie with well placed freezing charms. Blaise kept sending them flying back with knockback jinxes while Harry picked them off one at a time.
The problem was, one at a time wasn’t going to be good enough.
Harry was reasonably certain the pixies would be unsuccessful in hurting him, but they were going to trash the room unless he found a way of taking them all down at once.
Before he could get much further down that train of thought, Tracey cried out as she was jumped from behind and several of the devils bit into her neck. Harry whirled, but paused, unsure what to do. He knew that he couldn’t hit Tracey with any spells that may immobilize them, so how else to draw out their discontent?
Then, it hit him.
Muttering an internal apology to Tracey, he took aim, ignoring the bastard of a pixie that decided to take a bite out of his arm as he did so.
A torrent of water surged from his wand, and though it also unfortunately knocked Tracey to the floor, it also sent all pixies around her scrambling. Immediately, Harry began to spray all of the pixies with jets of water, trying to back them all into the same corner. When he managed that, he kept the spray up, not quite sure how to immobilize so many at once…
There was a blinding flash of white light that made Harry cringe from its brightness as Lockhart’s strong voice rang through the room. Then, when the light faded, Harry was left gaping. All of the pixies were still there in the corner. Except, all of them seemed to be blissfully unconscious.
Harry turned to look at the man himself and realized that Lockhart was standing completely unscathed behind his desk. Not a single hair was out of place. As if realizing that Harry was questioning how that was possible when he hadn’t even seen Lockhart cast a spell, their professor addressed Harry directly. “Throw something at me, will you, Mister Potter?” Perplexed, Harry grabbed a nearby quill and threw it at Lockhart. About a foot away from making impact, there was a brief pulse of blue light around Lockhart and the quill fell to the floor.
“The Vestamenterum shield.” Lockhart explained. “It is of very little use against spells, but it will stop most blunt objects and brute force attacks. While protected by this shield, the pixies had no hope of touching me.” He smiled smugly at the aghast looks on all of the faces of his students.
“As I am sure you all took note, it is also useful to learn a wide variety of spells. In particular, those with wide ranging effects.” Lockhart looked at Harry directly now. “Your spell arsenal is impressive, Mister Potter, shockingly so for one your age. The Aguamenti charm in particular is astounding, not to mention very clever in the situation at hand. Yes, pixies do greatly dislike water, as I’m sure you all noticed. The flaw was that once you had them cornered, you had absolutely no idea what to do with them.” Harry nodded; it was unfortunately true.
“Your homework,” Lockhart said, summoning all of the pixies towards him and levitating them back into their cage before he began the necessary repairs on the room, “is two pieces of parchment. One will be on the Vestamenterum shield, its applications, its strengths and its shortcomings. The other will be the same, but it will be done while studying the Somnium charm and its modifier, Horribilis. Oh, and do pass the message onto those who fled, will you?” Lockhart winked as all of them sagged under the early year workload. “Well then — off with you!”
As Harry, Daphne, Tracey and Blaise left the classroom, Harry could hardly stand the terribly smug expression on Blaise’s face. “Any comments, Harry?” he asked, amused.
Harry sighed, scowling at Blaise before officially conceding the point. “Well, I suppose I stand corrected.”
Thank you guys so much for 2000 favourites! We are now also starting to close in on 3000 followers!
The Lockhart scene is very similar to the one from Harry Potter and The Prince of Slytherin. That is done semi-intentionally. That story has definitely influenced how I will write Lockhart. That being said, the mystery that is Gilderoy Lockhart is VERY DIFFERENT in this story to PoS. Like… not even remotely close to being close kind of different, so you can all stop worrying about that now.
Oh, and shoutout to Dethryl‘s They Shook Hands Series. Laine Slater was a character in that fic, and she had a twin brother in it as well. Those are the only things I’m borrowing in regards to her character, as everything else is original, but I like the name.
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PS: The next chapter will be posted next Saturday, August 8th, 2020 at approximately 3:00 PM EST.
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