AoC 32

AoC Ch 32

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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos

By ACI100

Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin

Chapter 15: The Gods of Irony

October 15, 1992

The Gryffindor Changing Rooms

7:41 PM

Fred and George Weasley exited the Gryffindor changing rooms side by side, their Cleansweeps slung over their shoulders and their damp red hair tousled. The two of them were clearly running on high energy, discussing some rather hilarious prank ideas for the Halloween feast. This was not out of the ordinary, but the general absurdity and hyperbole on display in their brainstorming sessions were both exacerbated by the energy and adrenaline that accompanied the conclusion of a well-played, lively practice that left the team’s morale unanimously high.

As the two of them began to make their way up towards Hogwarts castle, neither of them noticed the slightest shimmer as the youngest member of the house team shifted under his invisibility cloak, revealing part of his hand for only the briefest of moments. 

Silently, Charlus Potter began to follow the twins back up towards the castle. 

If they were on this kind of roll talking about pranks, it was highly possible that the two of them would let something slip in regards to the prank they’d more than likely pulled on the Slytherin Quidditch team. One of whose members just happened to be Charlus’s twin.

If the two of them were going to reveal anything about that entirely over-the-top fiasco, he wanted to be there to hear every last word of it.

October 17, 1992

The Great Hall

8:37 AM

Harry quietly slid his most recent bit of mail into his school bag about halfway into that Saturday’s breakfast. This morning, he was sitting with Daphne, Blaise, Tracey, Pansy, Laine, Ginny and Charlotte. His older acquaintances were not overly fond of the idea of getting up early to venture out to the Great Hall. Neither was Pansy, for that matter. But she was there nonetheless

“Anything interesting?” Blaise asked conversationally, bobbing his head towards the school bag which Harry was sliding back under the table.

“Invitation for the Weitts’s Samhain gala,” Harry answered, shooting a quick glance in Charlotte’s general direction. She nodded curtly, offering him a brief smile between bites of an egg. “Give your parents my thanks,” he requested, eliciting another nod in return as her mouth was currently full.

“Hopefully nobody gets bitten by a snake this time,” Daphne muttered under her breath, casting her eyes around the hall. Harry had always wondered how much of that incident Daphne had pieced together. He had always suspected that the answer was something akin to “not much”. After all, during the setup of his Samhain escapades, she had been politicking on the floor for her family. Well, perhaps politicking wasn’t the most accurate term when discussing an eleven-year-old. Perhaps more apt terminology would be to say that she was acquainting and reacquainting with important people who she would one day have to work with, in one capacity or another. 

The fact she also didn’t look at Harry as she spoke her desires for this year’s event could also have been telling. Then again, knowing Daphne, she probably would have looked anywhere but at Harry, if verbally reflecting on things that could have implicated him in one way or another.

“I’m sure it made things interesting,” Blaise offered diplomatically. Ginny, who’d been in conversation with Laine seemed to stumble over her words as she inadvertently caught that chunk of conversation. Obviously, she was not yet accustomed to Blaise’s humour, which was akin to the Sahara desert in the middle of July onmost instances. 

“You’re forgetting the fact that it was disgraceful,” Pansy said. “For one of the major social events of the year to have a scandal like that is madness!”

Blaise shrugged. “Got everybody out early.”

“Your family never did find out what happened, did they?” Pansy asked Charlotte, turning away from Blaise, who she obviously realized would never agree with her no matter what point she raised. It seemed that at least Pansy was grasping the group dynamic quite quickly. Blaise shot a wink towards Harry when she looked away. On the list of Blaise’s favourite things to do, annoying prim, proper, pureblood heiresses would have been right near the top, if Harry had to guess.

“We never did, no,” Charlotte said neutrally. “Mother and Father launched an investigation, but nothing turned up. We would’ve had to cast Prior Incantato on everybody’s wands after the party to find out for sure.”

“Which you obviously didn’t do! That would’ve been a logistical nightmare!”

“Trust me, my parents considered it. We almost didn’t hold an event this year, but my mother talked father into it. There will be more… attention to detail this year.”

Luckily, Harry had no major schemes planned this year. This time around, he was simply going to attend for the experience and to potentially make allies. It would be far less stressful this way, he assumed. Granted, his plan had been successful last year. Well, except for the major injury sustained by Rufus Scrimgeour, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. That had certainly not been part of the plan. Idly, Harry wondered how the man had recovered. He’d never heard anything about him after that, though in all fairness, he had never exactly looked into the matter. 

“I’m happy your family is still holding one,” Pansy said matter-of-factly. “It would’ve been such a shame if such a major event was canceled because of something so foolish as some idiot conjuring a snake.”

“A bit off-topic,” Harry interrupted unapologetically, observing that Charlotte had no interest in continuing this rather sensitive conversation, “but why would asking everybody to submit to Prior Incantato have been a nightmare? Aside from the time it would have taken, obviously.”

Pansy, not being aware of Harry’s situation looked intensely surprised by his question. Charlotte, on the other hand, did not. Nor did Daphne, who swiftly entered the conversation to answer Harry’s question. 

“You can’t just force someone to submit to Prior Incantato. Wand rights aren’t something that’s talked about, but they exist. A witch or wizard’s wand is their property. You don’t have the right to take it from them. Not unless you can prove they’ve done something.” She shrugged. “Or in a duel, I guess. That’s kind of looked at as an exception since it’s your own fault. The same goes for checking wands.”

“It’s also a serious invasion of privacy,” Charlotte pointed out. “It’s the kind of thing people would throw a fit over. I don’t honestly blame them, but Father still wanted to make it mandatory. It’s a bit of a grey area since it was on our property. Technically, we probably could have done it, but it would have caused an uproar.”

Harry nodded thoughtfully. It made sense, even if it seemed a bit vague. Knowing the magical world the way he’d come to know it, there were probably loopholes like the duelling one written all over that law. 

Twenty-some odd minutes later, the group departed from the table. Charlotte and her year mates were all returning to the common room to finish homework while Daphne, Tracey, Blaise and Pansy were going to do likewise in the library. Harry, who had finished it the night previous, was going to work on spell casting, but he had something to do first. 

Wishing his friends a fruitful session of study, Harry quickly and quietly crept through the antechamber off the Great Hall and slid through the same, secret passage he’d led Blaise, Tracey and Daphne down their first night back at Hogwarts. Less than two minutes later, Harry reached the end of the passage that would deposit him very near to the Slytherin common room. Focusing on his ring, Harry tried to detect any presence nearby. There were none, at the moment. A few minutes later, that fact changed when Charlotte, Laine and Ginny’s voices could be heard.

As they drew near, Harry considered his options. What would be the best way to get Charlotte’s attention, without drawing that of the others? Eventually, he settled for trying to think as “loudly” as possible that he’d like to speak with her. Whether this would actually work, he had no idea. Evidently, it at least had a small degree of success, because Charlotte paused near where the passageway ended. A second or two later, she was telling her friends she had forgotten something back in the hall, insisting that they go on ahead. 

When they left, Charlotte cast her eyes around the seemingly empty corridor, though Harry, currently behind a tapestry depicting a scene filled with serpents couldn’t see her. “I know you’re here,” Charlotte said clearly. 

On cue, Harry slid the tapestry aside and stepped into the corridor. Charlotte’s eyebrows rose. “Out of curiosity,” Harry asked, “did you actually know it was me?”

“I kind of figured it was, but I couldn’t actually tell, no. I knew somebody was hiding somewhere even before you started to basically project your thoughts. I couldn’t tell what you were thinking at first, or anything, but I could sort of tell that there was an extra active mind nearby, if that makes sense.”

“It does,” Harry answered truthfully. Though the feeling was likely different, his ring alerted him to any nearby human presence. Charlotte may have experienced something on a deeper level, but he imagined the feeling was probably similar.

“Where does that passage start, anyway?” Charlotte queried. “I didn’t even know that was there.”

“Most people don’t, from what I can tell. It’s behind a portrait in the antechamber off the Great Hall. One of the more useful passages I’ve found. Cuts quite a bit of time off of the walk down to the common room.”

Charlotte tilted her head. “Why do I feel like this isn’t the only passage you know of?”

“It isn’t,” Harry affirmed.

“How many others?”

He shrugged. “Enough,”

Charlotte sighed. “You and your vague answers.”

“You and your constant questions.”

In spite of herself, Charlotte smiled. “You’ve got me there, I suppose.” She paused. “You wanted to talk to me about something?”

“I did, but not here. I’ll show you one of those secret passages since it’ll make the walk to a sort of hidden room of mine much faster.”

Minutes later, Harry had led Charlotte through the long, sloping passage behind the suit of armour at the bottom of the marble staircase that led to the room he frequented with her elder sister for practices. Almost as soon as they exited from the passage, Charlotte tensed. “What is it?” Harry asked, frowning as his ears practically perked up, trying to gain a sense of any danger they might be in.

“Wards,” Charlotte answered. “I have no idea what they are, but I can sense magic and I can tell that they’re wards.”

Harry blinked. “How?”

“I have many talents, Harry.”

“Is it a Legilimency thing?”

“It is, yes. It’s a subskill of Legilimency. Right now, I can only sense that there is magic and tell that it has something to do with wards. Eventually, I’ll be able to tell what kind of ward it is. Maybe not exactly, but at least the general idea of each ward.”

“There are subskills to Legilimency as well then? I’m assuming it’s a seven-tiered system like Occlumency?”

“Yes to both,” Charlotte answered as they neared the entrance of the room. When they entered, her eyes roamed over the place with intense curiosity. She eyed both the desk, comfortable chairs and training dummies with interest, as well as the magical lighting. “Did you set all of this up?”

“No, I have no idea how to conjure any of this.” He had been about to use his default line that he’d found the room like this, but he doubted he could get away with outright lying to Charlotte. She would probably be able to tell. If he kept quiet, she might not ask.

“Odd,” she commented, casting one last, final look around the room before plopping down into one of the comfortable-looking armchairs. When Harry too took his seat, Charlotte spoke first. “Is this about what you came to me over last time?”

“They might be connected, I’m not sure. But it’s nothing like that on my end, no. I still think you should consider what I said, but I can’t exactly force you to listen. If you want to take the risk, that’s your problem.” It was also his problem, but Harry didn’t get the impression that Charlotte would be pleased if she found out he was essentially watching her back on behalf of her sister. She seemed proud, so Harry kept that fact to himself. 

Charlotte looked pleased, if a bit surprised. “I have listened,” she commented. “I’ve toned it down if you haven’t noticed.”

“I have,” Harry admitted, “and I’m thankful for that. I just hope you didn’t do too much damage right away. From what I can tell, Slytherin is the house of cunning, ambition and holding grudges.”

Charlotte laughed. “I seriously hope it didn’t take you a year and a month to figure that out.”

“It didn’t, I’m just sharing what I’ve observed.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Care to share any more of your wisdom, oh wise one?”

Harry’s lips twitched. “Depends where this conversation goes, I guess.”

Charlotte sighed and folded her hands in her lap, peering back at him with wide, curious eyes. “You know, I’m not going to Legilimize you every time you look at me,” Charlotte pointed out, noticing that Harry was avoiding her gaze.

“You can control it now, then?”

“Almost completely, yes.”

Harry paused, trying to best work out how to say this. “I… don’t appreciate people in my head. I think we get on well, and I am happy you’re in Slytherin, but I really don’t like the idea of you being able to look into my thoughts whenever you please.”

Charlotte winced. “I guess we didn’t get off on the best foot with that, did we?”

“The first three times we met, you Legilimized me every time.”

Charlotte winced slightly. “I… don’t really have much regard for strangers.”

“I’ve noticed.”

“I won’t Legilimize you, especially if it really bothers you. The only reason I did it in the common room earlier this year was because I was worried you were an older student who was going to jump me, or something.”

“That’s a fair reason,” Harry admitted. “If it’s something like that, I won’t take it personally. But I would really appreciate it if you didn’t make a habit of doing it.”

Charlotte agreed readily but did so with a rather coy smile. “I don’t suppose I can try once every couple of months with something really light to work out whether or not you have ‘shields’?”

Harry frowned. “I was… told there were no such things as Occlumency shields.”

“There aren’t, hence the air quotes. It’s just kind of what they’re called for lack of a better term. Eventually, you’ll get so good at clearing your mind as soon as you sense a presence that your mind will sort of do it for you. That’s what I mean by ‘shields’.”

Harry nodded slowly; that was certainly good information to have. “Is there a particular reason why you’re so interested in my Occlumency progress?”

Charlotte shrugged. “Not really. I just like to keep informed. And since I’m kind of the one who put you onto Occlumency in the first place, I sort of feel invested.”

“I could always just tell you.”

“You could, but that way isn’t as fun.”

“Are you actually curious, or do you just need me as a test dummy?”

“I wouldn’t use my friends for practice without their permission.”

Harry decided not to comment on the implications of that statement. Partially because of their moral ambiguity, and partially because he could also see himself attempting to Legilimize strangers if he could be sure that they weren’t any sort of Occlumens.

“I’d really rather you weren’t in my head at all, to be honest.”

Charlotte sighed. “Fine, if it bothers you that much, I won’t. I just find the whole thing interesting. You do realize that whoever is teaching you is going to have to be in your head at some point if they haven’t tried already, right?”

“I’ve worked with blunt probes that don’t actually glean anything aside from surface thoughts, so far.”

“Eventually, they’re going to have to actually try and pull out memories.”

Harry had to try hard not to wince or shiver, even if that fact was one he had known about for some time now. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

“Right,” Charlotte commented skeptically, “well, I’m guessing you didn’t drag me all the way down here to talk about Occlumency and Legilimency? If you did, don’t waste your time on the walk. I’ll happily talk about that any time; just use that privacy spell and ward of yours.”

“Sorry, I got a bit sidetracked. I haven’t looked into Legilimency yet, since I need a base in Occlumency first. But no, I didn’t ask you to come down here to talk about the Mind Arts. Last week in the common room, you asked about Milicent Bulstrode. You said there was an… incident involving her.”

“It wasn’t technically involving me,” Charlotte said carefully, but the tone of her voice indicated otherwise. Or, at least, it indicated that she was not one-hundred percent confident in that assessment.

“You don’t sound convinced.”

Charlotte bit her lip. “I’m not convinced, to tell you the truth.” 

“I don’t suppose you’re going to explain what happened?” Harry asked after an unnaturally long pause.

Charlotte seemed to study him. “If I do, can you promise not to go running to my sister about it? Or Daphne; I have a feeling she’d be just as bad.”

Harry paused. “If it’s something like the dragon incident was for me last year, I can’t promise that. But I doubt it’s like that, or I’d have heard about it already.”

“It’s nothing like that, no. Just first-year drama. Aside from Bulstrode, I guess. She’s in her second year.”

“Was that a yes to telling me then?”

“Was that a yes to keeping your mouth shut about it?”

“Sure, as long as you promise to at least listen to my perspective on it.”

“Harry, I brought it up in the common room literally hoping you’d give me your perspective on it.”

Harry blinked. “I… did not expect that answer.”

“Why not?”

“You don’t seem the type to go out of your way to ask for other’s opinions. You’re extremely confident, almost to the point that it seems as if you think you’re better than those around you.”

Charlotte stiffened ever so slightly. “That was… a much deeper answer than I expected.”

Harry shrugged. “Just an observation. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just how you come across, sometimes.”

“Well, let’s clear that up right now. I don’t think I’m better than you. I’m much better than you at certain things, like the Mind Arts, and I know things about the magical world that you don’t know because of how you were raised. But you’re much better at magic than me, at least for now. That might never change, but I try to never count myself out. I doubt I’ll ever catch you in Transfiguration. Probably not in Defense, either, but maybe Charms. Either way, you’re better than me at magic and you might always be. You’re also extremely good at reading situations. I might be better at reading people because of Legilimency, but it seems like you can read a situation extremely well.

“I might come off like that sometimes, but I guess it’s just how I am. I was taught to act confident at all times. Even if the confidence is overdone, the trick is to get other people believing what you’re putting out. Not that I don’t believe in myself, because trust me, I do.” She paused. “I’m also… overdoing the confidence right now.”

“I thought so,” Harry answered. “Whatever you have planned, you’re putting on a mask.”

“Not really,” Charlotte answered. “I am an extremely confident person. Usually, it’s probably at about an eight or a nine. Right now, it’s at about eleven while in public.”

“I don’t suppose you’ll let me in on this plan of yours, will you?”

“Afraid not, Harry. Sorry, but it won’t work if I have help.”

Harry sighed. “Fine, have it your way. Let’s get to the topic we keep getting off of though. The Bulstrode situation.”

“Right, the Bulstrode situation. So, before that, I should probably tell you that a few weeks ago, Ginny and I were attacked by Derrick Mulciber and Alex Jugson.”

“Two of your year mates, correct?”

“They are, yes.” Harry felt a mild bit of relief that they were only first years. He doubted he would have to get involved with anything like that. And even if for some reason he did, it would serve as no threat or challenge. 

“I’m assuming nothing too drastic happened since this is the first I’m hearing of it.”

“Not really, no.” She grimaced as if she was about to make a rather painful admission. “I was paying too much attention to Ginny, not focusing on my surroundings or who was coming near us. I would’ve been cursed from behind, but Ginny took the spell for me. Nothing too serious, just a nasty boil hex, but still. I think it was meant as a message more than anything else. When I turned to fight back, they ran.”

“And you think this is somehow related to the Bulstrode incident?”

“I have that feeling, yeah. Bulstrode attacked Ginny, not me. For some reason, that seems off. From what Parkinson said about her, it sounds like she was pretty happy keeping to herself until right about then. Maybe she thought she could just get away with it because it was the ‘blood traitor Slytherin’ or whatever, but it still seems a bit out of character, doesn’t it?”

“It does, yeah,” Harry admitted. “If it was natural, I don’t see why she waited. She had weeks to attack Ginny before that. Now, if Ginny had done something noteworthy that might have upset her, I could buy it, but that timing seems way too convenient.” He paused. “How long was this after the first attack on the both of you, exactly?”

Charlotte shrugged. “A week, maybe? No more than two.”

Harry sat in silence for about a minute before answering. “That does seem suspicious. Anything you can tell me about the Bulstrode family politically? Aside from the obvious fact that they’re part of the Conservative faction.”

“Not really. They’re fairly quiet. They vote with the rest of their faction like is expected. Millicent’s father doesn’t speak a whole lot at meetings as far as I know.”

“So not much to go off of aside from the fact that she seemed to want in on Malfoy’s group. Any connection between Malfoy and either Mulciber or Jugson?”

Charlotte’s brow furrowed. “Depends on how you look at it.”

“How so?”

“How much do you know about the end of the Purity War?”

“Voldemort attacked my family and was destroyed when she tried to kill Charlus. After that, Sirius Black blew up a street, killing Marlene McKinnon and a dozen or so muggles. He confessed in court that he was my family’s secret keeper, responsible for placing a bunch of Death Eaters under the Imperius curse, and he even claimed to be Voldemort’s second-in-command.” Harry noted that one of these days, he was really going to have to figure out what a secret keeper actually was. All he knew was that in one sense or another, Sirius Black had betrayed his parents to Voldemort.

“There was also the torture of the Longbottoms,” Harry continued. “Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange were both sentenced to life in Azkaban, leaving Bellatrix, Rudolphus’s ex-wife and the closest thing there is to a living Lestrange to manage the family.”

“And you’re familiar with the ‘Imperius Defence’ and the drama it caused?”

“Vaguely. A bunch of Death Eaters claimed to have been put under it after Black confessed to using it on a bunch of others, right?”

“Yes, but some people never bought the excuse. Some of the Jugsons were actually sent to Azkaban, but Alex’s parents got off with that defense. If they were lying, they may have a connection with the Malfoys.”

“But Black outright admitted to placing Malfoy under the curse.”

“He did, but some people think that Black just wanted to get as many of his friends out of trouble as he could before being shipped off. He was going to Azkaban for life no matter what, so what’s a few extra sentences when you’re going to die there either way?”

Harry tapped his foot rhythmically, processing all that he had just learned and connected it back to the matter at hand. “It’s possible that the first years and Bulstrode could both be working for Malfoy. Or only the first years, and Bulstrode thought she’d attack Ginny to look good for Draco. Thing is, I don’t see a motivation on Malfoy’s end. He has no reason to want to go after you. I know the Malfoys and Weasleys don’t get along, but this started with an attack on you, not Ginny.”

“Which is what has me confused, to be honest. I could see it being an older student egging them on. Maybe one who has something against my sister, but I don’t see how Bulstrode would get involved.”

“I don’t either,” Harry admitted, “but it all seems too closely connected to be a coincidence.”

Charlotte nodded. “My thoughts exactly, but I thought I could use a second opinion.”

Harry smiled thinly. “Any time, Charlotte. You know where to find me, at least most of the time.”

Charlotte smiled vaguely back at him. “Thanks, Harry. I’ll keep it in mind.”

October 18, 1992

The Gryffindor Changing Rooms

7:53 PM

It was a soaked and exhausted Quidditch team that slunk into the changing rooms after their most brutal practice of the school year thus far. That wasn’t to say it had not been a good practice. The team had performed exceedingly well, which had become a norm as of late. In spite of that, all seven members of the team were fairly miserable after the brutality wrought upon them by the harsh conditions of the Scottish storm. Their moods improved mildly after a shower, but they were not exactly shining rays of sun, by any stretch.

Well, except for their captain, Oliver Wood.

Really, the previous statement about seven miserable players was a generalization. Six would have been more accurate. Though Wood also looked beaten, bruised and battered, he was wearing a manic smile even as he entered the changing rooms. By the time the rest of his team had exited the shower, Oliver had already showered, changed and set up camp in the portion of the changing rooms that the team used as a “war room”. In translation, it was where they discussed and went over strategy and the like. 

Frankly, none of the other team members were remotely interested in a meeting, at the moment, but Oliver promised it would be brief. According to their captain, he had an announcement to make. Apparently, he wouldn’t even touch on strategy. He had even given his word, which the Weasley twins along with the three chasers had sworn him to on threat of death.

When all of them had taken seats in “the war room”, Oliver stood before them, making hard eye contact with each player in turn before making his grand announcement. 

“Gentlemen,” Oliver began solemnly,

“And ladies!” Alicia pointed out.

“And ladies,” their captain amended, “I have an announcement of the utmost importance. Earlier today, all of the captains for each of the house teams received this year’s finalized Quidditch schedule. We’re up right away; the very first game of the season. It’ll be us against the snakes on Saturday, November 7th at 9:30 AM.”

At once, the air seemed to thicken in the room as it became laced with oppressive, unyielding tension. All of the Gryffindor’s postures straightened as their eyes sharpened. All bleary eyes and lackadaisical expressions were gone now. In their places, staring resolutely back up at their captain were six, rock-hard visages of laser-precision focus and rock hard determination.

“I don’t need to tell any of you how important this match is,” Oliver understated. “Last year, we should’ve had the Cup. Due to… circumstances outside of our control, we didn’t.” Charlus felt guilt well in the pit of his stomach at the reminder that at the time of Gryffindor’s final game against Ravenclaw, he had been unconscious alongside his brother in the hospital wing after the confrontation with Voldemort down in the catacombs.

“They have the flashy brooms, I’ll give them that,” Oliver conceded. “They also have a team full of rich, spoiled, entitled pureblood brats who have never had to earn a damn thing in their lives. They don’t have as much heart as any of us. All the money in the world can’t buy what we have. The only one on that team who might have an ounce of heart is the Slytherin Potter, and he’s fucked. He has to fly against this little prodigy in his first ever match.” Charlus smiled, effortlessly putting on an outwardly confident expression. Internally, he was more nervous than he should have been.

Logically, he should crush his brother. Logically, Harry should have no chance of getting to the snitch before him. Logically, this should be a laughably easy match for Charlus.

But logically, people weren’t supposed to survive the killing curse. .ogically, an eleven-year-old boy shouldn’t be able to vaporize the Dark Lady by touching her. And logically, Harry should have been part of the Potter family for a decade.

All of that was to say that Charlus was slowly losing faith in logic and its bearing on the universe. It seemed that in his life, illogical conclusions seemed far more applicable in terms of making any realistic predictions as to the future.

And the worst part was, because of how obvious it seemed that he would beat Harry, he would be the laughing stock of the school if he didn’t.

Charlus Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the youngest seeker in a century, the seeker who had never lost a match… and the idiot who lost to a guy who had only been flying for a year and who was playing in his first-ever Quidditch match.

As much as Charlus was over his petty grudge with Harry, he wasn’t sure if his ego could bear it.

He wasn’t stupid. He recognized exactly what kind of effect Harry’s victory had had on him at the Potter family gala. That would be multiplied by a several digit-long interval if Charlus lost to Harry, and by extension, Slytherin in front of the entire school.

So lost he was in thoughts and worries that he actually missed the rest of Oliver’s impassioned speech about the importance of Gryffindor’s first Quidditch match of the year.

What he didn’t miss, however, were the twins creeping out of the door ahead of the rest. With narrowed eyes, Charlus followed at a brisk pace. This time, he did not don the cloak. 

This time, he wanted to be seen.

For much of the last week, Charlus had tailed the terrors of Gryffindor. He had needed to know, for his own sake, whether it had actually been the twins who’d pranked Harry and the Slytherins all those weeks ago now.

To his horror, he’d had his worst fears confirmed only days earlier. He’d followed them into an alcove in which the two of them had partaken in a hushed argument. Fred wanted to pull some grandiose prank at the Halloween feast, but George was set steadfast against it. In the end, his reasoning had boiled down to the prank on the Slytherins.

They were still in hot water over that. Nobody could prove it had been them, but the school wasn’t stupid. For one thing, the twins had spent several nights in the hospital wing since the incident. All of those nights were results of rather vicious and vastly numerous bits of retaliation on the part of Slytherin House. But beyond that, the teachers were equally perceptive.

If another major prank happened and they slipped up, allowing for it to be pinned on them in any way, shape or form, they were effectively screwed.

In the end, George had thankfully won the argument, but Charlus hadn’t been overly interested in its conclusion.

He’d gotten what he wanted from it, and now it was time to get more direct answers. 

Before they could draw too near to the castle, Charlus fired a low-powered stinging hex at one of the twin’s backs. He wasn’t sure which one, nor did he particularly care. The two of them had been so engrossed in whatever conversation they’d been having that they had failed altogether to notice that somebody had crept up right behind them. The twins whirled, going for their wands until they spotted who it was.

“Ickle Potter!” the two of them exclaimed in unison. When Charlus only stared pensively back at them, their faces slowly lost some of their joviality. 

“We need to talk,” Charlus said shortly, gesturing to the edge of the Forbidden Forest behind Hagrid’s hut. It was as good a spot as any to assure they were not overheard. Hell, it was the spot he and Harry had used last year when planning the final destruction of Malfoy’s elaborate plot to get Harry expelled, disowned and imprisoned.

In a surprising show of perceptiveness, both twins nodded soberly, following Charlus to his chosen destination with little drama. When the Gryffindor trio reached the edge of the forest and Charlus had cast the Muffliato charm, drawing raised eyebrows from the twins due to their ignorance in regards to said spell, Charlus finally spoke.

“I want to hear it from you two; what happened the night you pranked the Slytherin Quidditch team?”

To Charlus’s great annoyance, the two of them immediately looked indignant, actually going as far as to posture as if they were about to put in some great defence of themselves. “Don’t bother,” Charlus cut in forcefully, “I heard you two admit to it while hiding behind a tapestry on the fifth floor a few days back.” 

For a second, the twins both looked taken aback. A moment later, however, their eyes narrowed. “You can’t have,” George said carefully as if trying to deduce how on earth that was possible.

Charlus rolled his eyes. “You guys do realize that your knowledge of the castle is useless if somebody is following you, right?”

“But that’s the thing, ickle Potter,” Fred put in. “You can’t have been following us.”

“Like, it literally shouldn’t be possible,” George added.

Charlus’s eyes narrowed. “I was invisible, you idiots.”

“It shouldn’t matter,” Fred answered at once.

“It might.” George mused thoughtfully. “Does it show invisible people? We’ve never known somebody who can be invisible, so maybe it doesn’t?”

“But how would that work magically?”

“To hell if I know. We’ve been trying to figure the damn thing out for more than a year and still haven’t gotten anywhere.”

“True, true.”

Then, as if they had both come to a startling realization at the exact same moment in time, both twins levelled intensely curious, intensely suspicious stares upon their seeker. “How the hell were you invisible?” they asked as one.

Charlus looked rather uncomfortable with that question. He had not planned for the issue of his cloak to come up. Right about now, he was seriously regretting that slip-up, small as it may have seemed at the time. “Cloak,” he muttered, “used to be Dad’s, but he gave it to me before I came to Hogwarts.”

“An actual invisibility cloak?” Fred breathed in awe.

“Can we see it?” George asked hopefully.

“Some other time, maybe,” Charlus deflected. “Now, answer my question. I heard the two of you arguing over whether or not to pull some sort of massive prank on Halloween. When George brought up how bad of an idea that would have been after the prank on the Quidditch team, the two of you scratched those plans.”

As annoyed as the twins looked, they were clearly equal parts impressed. Still, they looked intensely uncomfortable, as if this was the last place on Earth they would choose to be at that moment in time. A more accurate summary would be that they would wish to be having any other conversation right about now.

“We bottled it,” Fred said bluntly, deciding to rip the bandage off as quickly as one could.

Charlus’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean you ‘bottled it’?”

“It wasn’t supposed to be that bad,” George answered, sounding as if he was pleading for Charlus to believe him. 

Charlus frowned. “So you didn’t mean for them to grow scales?”

Once more, both twins looked extremely uneasy. “Um… we did, yeah,” Fred said lamely. “We… didn’t really think that part through.”

“How the hell do you not think that part through?”

“Well,” George jumped in carefully, “after the whole incident with the brooms, the cursing and our dear brother’s backfiring wand, we decided to get the bastards back. We literally have rolls and rolls of parchment full of scrapped ideas on how to do it. When we came up with the scales, we thought it was perfect, you know? Slimy, snaky Slytherins and all that.”

“We were so stoked on the idea,” Fred picked up, ‘that we didn’t really think it through. We saw it and were like ‘yup, that’s the one’ and then we just kind of moved onto doing it. By the time we committed, we honestly didn’t have much time to think about anything. That potion was bloody impossible to brew, and let’s not even talk about how much of a pain in the ass sneaking a book out of the Restricted Section is without getting caught when you can’t be invisible.”

“And even that isn’t taking into account the logistics,” George added. “How were we going to get the Slytherins to take in the potion and all the rest? The first batch we brewed was meant to be ingested, but we realized that would never work. So, we had to come up with a solution that could be absorbed through the skin. It took ages! Was stressful as all hell, too.”

“And somewhere in that process, I think we forgot about the whole ‘what would actually happen if somebody grew scales bit,’” Fred finished a bit lamely.

“You know,” George added, fidgeting, “the whole conflict between scales and bones and the whole pushing through the skin thing.” 

“We wanted it to hurt like a bitch and leave them in the infirmary for the night,” Fred admitted, “but we never, ever wanted any of that. We talk a lot about Slytherin, but we don’t really hate them. I mean, most of them are dicks, but that was a bit far.”

“Just a bit,” Charlus muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes at the twins’ gift for profound understatements.

“So… are we cool?” Fred asked tentatively, looking extremely nervous to hear Charlus’s response. “You’re not gonna go run off to Dumbledore or anything?”

“Yeah, we’re cool,” Charlus sighed. “I know you two aren’t that thick-headed to actually want to get people badly hurt. Just… ugh! I know this is stupid coming from the idiot who tried to fly a car to Hogwarts, but use your heads, will you?” In spite of themselves, the twins actually grinned at the self-deprecating gag.

“So no running off to Dumbledore?” Fred pressed, wanting that assurance, at least.

“No running off to Dumbledore,” Charlus agreed. The twins had been idiots, but a terrible mistake, in his eyes, did not justify expulsion from a place as magical as Hogwarts. “I am gonna tell Harry though,” Charlus told them and the twins suddenly looked a bit apprehensive. It was no wonder why. If Slytherin House had actual confirmation of the assailants’ identities, there was no telling how hellacious the twins’ lives could become for the foreseeable future. “He deserves to know. They all deserve to know.”

As much as they wanted to deny it, both of the Weasley twins knew he was right, so they both reluctantly nodded their agreement with matching, guilty expressions.

October 19, 1992

An Abandoned Classroom

6:39 PM

Pansy felt intensely uncomfortable locked in the room with Draco, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott. She had been on her way to dinner when she had found her path suddenly blocked by the two largest kids in their year, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. When she had attempted to not-so-politely order both Crabbe and Goyle out of her way, she was cut off by a cool, condescending drawl.

“In a hurry, Pansy?”

Promptly, Pansy’s posture dramatically stiffened as if a straight, metal rod had been fastened tightly in line with her spine. Soon after the voice had rung out through the corridor, Draco Malfoy stepped out from behind his two minions, his hair shining malevolently in the low torchlight of the corridor as his cold, hard stare resembled angry storm clouds as they locked onto Pansy’s chocolate brown eyes.

“I’d just like to get to dinner, Draco.”

“We’re not going to stop you, Pansy. It’ll be quick, I promise. We just have business to discuss.” It was then that Pansy noticed Theodore Nott standing a bit behind Draco, a sinisterly benign expression resting upon his sharp features.

Little as Pansy liked to admit it, she really had very little choice in the matter. She was outnumbered four to one, with the two largest, most physically imposing kids in the year blocking her path. Granted, she was not short on confidence in a hypothetical duel against the lumbering trolls who stood before her. Against Draco, she was less sure. Pansy knew a few, solid hexes and curses, but her strengths were not in duelling. Against Theodore, she had a high degree of certainty in the results of a similar hypothetical situation.

A high degree of certainty that she would lose.

Theodore was highly interested in duelling and knew more curses than anyone else in Draco’s group. He also had a solid base in duelling, courtesy of his father, Tiberius.

In short, she was effectively cornered by the group whom she’d effectively abandoned a short time ago.

Before she knew it, Pansy had found herself herded into one of Hogwarts’ many abandoned classrooms. When the door had closed, Draco rounded on Pansy. “So, Pansy, a lot’s changed in a week, I see.”

Pansy’s face twisted into something ugly. “Nothing has changed, Draco. I just decided to make a move to better my future.”

“Is that what you call being a sneaking traitor, Parkinson,” Nott snarled, dense undertones of accusation prevalent in his voice.

Pansy scoffed. “Grow up, Theodore. You make it sound as if I’ve betrayed you in a war or something. I’ve chosen to spend more time with other children.”

“You know it’s more than that, Parkinson. Who you hang around with is a political statement. Instead of hanging around with the right sort, you’ve chosen to consort with halfbloods and blood traitors.”

“If you haven’t noticed, Theodore, Daphne and Blaise are purebloods.”

“If you haven’t noticed, Parkinson, Potter and Davis are halfbloods. And lately, I’ve seen Weasley tangled up in your little group of friends too.”

“You make it sound as if I invited her.”

“It doesn’t matter whether you invited her or not, Pansy,” Draco said tiredly. “That should have been your cue to leave. As soon as your group started letting the riff-raff into the fold, you should’ve gotten out. You’re better than that. We’ll welcome you back, but I don’t want to see you go down the wrong path.”

“Stop making this sound like it’s about me! It’s never been about anyone but you, Draco. Especially not since whatever drama happened with Potter last May. You haven’t been the same since. You’ve been too full of yourself, too worried about pitying yourself and complaining to even give any attention to those around you, let alone care about them. You’ve changed, Draco. Hogwarts has changed you, and you’re no longer the best choice for me to align with. I’m sorry, but I’d like to go back down to the Great Hall now.”

She made to step forward, but Crabbe and Goyle once more blocked her exit. She tensed right away, feeling the tension thicken in the room around her as the inevitable altercation drew near. She considered going for her wand, but she could already see Theodore going for his own, and she knew any attempts she made to best him would be futile. 

Before the conflict could begin, however, the door opened loudly, drawing the attention of all in the room.

Harry Potter stood on the threshold of the room, with Charlotte Weitts standing just behind him. Charlotte looked a bit tense, her odd, magnetic eyes quickly and ruthlessly evaluating the situation before her.

Harry, on the other hand, seemed completely calm in spite of the obvious tension in the air. “Sorry if I’m interrupting something,” he said casually. “I didn’t realize there was any trouble.”

Minutes earlier, in the Great Hall…

Harry’s jade green eyes swept over the Slytherin table once more. By now, dinner had been in progress for almost forty minutes. Around Harry sat Daphne, Tracey, Blaise, Laine, Charlotte and Ginny. The noticeable absence from the get-go had been Pansy, who had yet to miss a meal with the rest of the group up until this point.

Another irregularity that Harry noticed was that Draco Malfoy was also not present.

Nor, it seemed, were Crabbe, Goyle and Nott.

Harry casually slid his plate away from him, excusing himself early. He was actually finished with his food, but he suddenly suspected more important business than partaking in mundane conversation was beckoning for his attention.

He was almost out of the hall by the time somebody called for him to wait up. He did not stop moving, but he did glance over his shoulder to see Charlotte hot on his heels. “What are you doing?” he asked her.

“Joining you,” she said simply. 

“You don’t have to.”

“Would you rather I didn’t?”

“Not really, I just don’t see why you followed me.”

“If you must know, I could sense your switch of mood. Judging by how good you are at reading situations, it seemed more serious than my meal.”

“So you’re coming for backup, then?”

“I guess you could say that, yes.”

Harry took a moment to ponder before nodding. Charlotte could be useful on this escapade. There was also, of course, the fact that he didn’t mind her company.

Back in the present…

“This doesn’t concern you, Potter,” Nott snarled, shooting an openly hateful glare towards the new male arrival.

“We’ll have to agree to disagree, Nott. From what I can tell, it seems like the four of you are harassing a friend of mine.”

“We weren’t doing anything,” Draco said coldly, looking resolutely anywhere but at Harry.

In contrast to Draco, Harry smiled in an almost warm way. “That’s good to hear, Draco.” Pansy could practically see the Malfoy Heir fume as Harry called him by his first name. “In that case, you won’t mind if Pansy joins us for dinner?”

There was a moment where Nott was very obviously about to make it plainly clear exactly how much he did mind. At the same moment, Draco caught his eye in an equally obvious fashion, and reluctantly, Nott backed down.

“Pansy is free to do whatever she likes,” Draco said a bit stiffly. “I just want her to know that she will always have to live with the repercussions of her choices.”

“How thoughtful of you,” Harry mused, a smirk gently playing on his lips. “Seeing as I’m sure she knows that, we’ll be leaving now. Good catching up with you Draco, Theo.” When Harry shortened Nott’s name, Pansy could see the hatred and fury flash in his eyes, see the way every muscle in his lithe form was suddenly wrought with tension.

But again, he did nothing.

None of them did anything as Harry and Charlotte very casually led her from the room.

“For future reference, Pansy,” Harry said once out of earshot, “ be a bit more careful, will you? I won’t always be conveniently in place to bail you out. And I won’t always have somebody with me who can tell me whether or not I’m about to walk into a set of wards.”

Pansy looked sharply at Charlotte, taken aback by the implications of that last sentence. Masking her surprise and noting Charlotte’s passive demeanour, she nodded slowly. “Thanks, you two. I’ll keep it in mind.”

October 24, 1992

An Abandoned Classroom

8:00 PM

As Harry predictably lost his wand to Calypso, his attention refocused on the other ongoing duel in the room.

Cassius fired a purple spell at Hestia, who sidestepped and conjured arrows, banishing them towards Cassius. Cassius shielded, allowing the arrows to splash off of his shield as Hestia quickly reeled off the blasting curse, piledriving her way straight through Cassius’s shield with the blunt, magical attack. Cassius had rolled out of the way before the spell made impact so when he came to his feet, he was already in a prime position to counter.

Hestia, never one to back down from a firefight exchanged spells with him. The spellfire was fast and intense on both ends until Hestia managed to slip a well-placed curse through Cassius’s defenses.


There was a flash of white light from Hestia’s wand so bright that for a moment, Harry’s vision was forcefully ripped away from him. Judging by the pained scream emanating from Cassius, he was more directly affected. Seconds later, he lost his wand and immediately, he began to rub furiously at his eyes, obviously in a considerable amount of pain.


Calypso’s wand omitted a vibrant flash of blue light and with a relieved sigh, Cassius slumped to his knees, blinking his eyes furiously as if he had just emerged from complete and utter darkness. 

“The blinding curse,” Calypso elaborated when she saw Harry’s look of puzzlement. “It’s quite the nasty spell. It will blind a person completely until it’s countered. In the meantime, I’ve heard the burning sensation is hell.” Cassius moaned from the floor, obviously affirming that statement. “It’s not hard to counter, but a right pain in battle. You can’t exactly take time to counter its effects if you can’t see the other spells coming at you. Cassius should’ve just shielded instantly, but I imagine he was surprised.”

“Bloody well right I was surprised,” Cassius muttered darkly as he climbed to his feet. “Bit harsh, don’t you think?” he asked Hestia, who just shrugged noncommittally in response. 

“I don’t like losing,” she answered simply.

“Clearly,” Cassius responded dryly.

Harry shuddered at the implications of that curse. He hated the idea of being helpless. It was a concept the likes of which he hated above all other imaginable things. It was no surprise that in light of that, he abhorred the idea of not being able to see. It could open him up to an infinitely large multitude of situations, none of which were likely to end favourably for him.

“Can you teach me the counter to that?” he asked Calypso quietly as Hestia and Flora decided to duel one another.

“That’s probably not a bad idea,” Calypso said thoughtfully. “I don’t really love the idea of blinding somebody in order for you to learn it. So, let’s just run you through the spell for tonight.” Harry nodded and they began.

The main difficulty in learning the Viderē counter curse was that it was a spell very heavily based on intent. You truly had to intend very strongly to reverse the damage the curse had done. It was for this reason that according to Calypso, the counter would not work if you were, for instance, trying to heal somebody who you intensely disliked. By the end of the practice, Harry was reasonably sure he had gotten the hang of it. Though seeing as nobody was particularly eager to be a live training dummy, he couldn’t be sure.

That thought did give him pause though. 

As Cassius, Hestia and Flora made to leave the room, Harry caught Calypso’s eye and made a subtle gesture, asking whether or not she would mind hanging back. She briefly nodded, gesturing for her friends to go ahead before she was left alone in the room with Harry.

“What is it, Harry?”

“What if I told you I have a way to work on spells like that?”

Calypso frowned. “What do you mean by that, exactly?”

“I know of a place with targets that will react to spellfire like humans.”

“Inside of Hogwarts?” He nodded. “Where?”

He paused. “I’m… not entirely sure I should tell you. There is at least one other person who might use it, and I’m not sure how they would react if I told you. I’ll clear it with them before telling you, if that’s okay?”

“Sure,” Calypso said with a nod. “In that case, do you want me to actually teach you the Blinding Curse?”

Harry hesitated. “Can I ask you a couple of honest questions and have you answer me very honestly, Calypso?”

“Unless you ask something I have a very good reason not to answer, then absolutely.”

“The Blinding urse would be classified as a ‘dark curse’, correct?”

Calypso’s eyes narrowed. “Correct.”

“I’ve heard the expression that there’s no such thing as light and dark or good and evil. Only power, and the intent with which it is wielded.” For a second, Harry swore he saw a look of recognition and of surprise in his older friend’s eyes. As quickly as it had seemingly appeared, it had certainly vanished. Perhaps Calypso too had read the centuries-old text of Emeric Emelaus. “I tend to believe that’s true. It’s a cliche analogy, but you could kill somebody with a tickling or levitation charm. But… I’ve heard things about ‘dark magic.’” This time, he physically drew air quotes around the last two things.

‘And you want me to tell you whether or not they’re true, or whether they’re censored, government propaganda?”

Harry nodded. “If you can, yes.”

Calypso gave him a long, evaluating look. “What makes you think that I’m the right person to ask these questions to?”

“I’m… honestly not sure. You’re the best duelist I know and don’t seem bothered by the Ministry’s restrictions. If I had to guess, I would assume you think pretty much like I do when it comes to the whole ‘dark magic’ debate. So, you probably know some of it, at least. If you can’t answer me, that’s fine.” 

Most of that was actually true.

Grace was definitely a better duelist than Calypso, at least for now, but he didn’t need to reveal that fact, nor that he was on more than speaking terms with the top player in Slytherin. Also unsaid were the implications of her family. Whether her father was a Death Eater or not was up for debate and had been for years. Her mother had died in a raid conducted by the Death Eaters, and she had not been fighting for the Ministry. What that meant for the traditionally conservative Rosier family, Harry wasn’t sure, in the grand scheme of things.

But if Calypso’s family library was not filled with books packed with all kinds of interesting, morally questionable magic, then Harry would forfeit the sight he had regained as a result of the vampire’s ritual.

Harry had learned all of that information after befriending Calypso. 

If he was going to spend time with a person, he was damn sure going to learn as much about that person as he could without being outwardly obvious with his inquisitions.

“I never said I couldn’t answer.” Calypso pointed out. “I can probably answer, but I was curious to hear your thoughts. That was a very safe answer, Harry.”

He shrugged. “I’m not one for speculating, personally.”

“A safe outlook. Well, what are your questions?”

“I’ve… read in a few books that ‘dark magic’ is extremely addictive and that one of the reasons why it’s outlawed is because it tends to lead people down a dark path.”

“Rubbish,” Calypso answered without hesitation. “You clearly haven’t opened the book I sent you last Christmas. I’m not surprised, since it may have been a bit much to send it to a first year, but you really should read it. Beyond the list of spells, potions and the like, the theory behind them are extremely interesting.

“I’m probably not the best person to explain this theory to you. Let’s just say that magic can be addicting and leave it at that. Magic is magic. Magic doesn’t decide that certain spells are light and certain spells are dark. That’s one of the reasons that the Ministry’s classifications are completely ridiculous. There is no difference in magic in that sense. It’s what the spell can be used for that’s different. Again, I’m not the person to explain this. I know a bit of the theory, but it’s not exactly written down in many places. You might be able to find a book on it if you looked through the Restricted Section. I know the basics and didn’t really dive much further than that.”

Harry for some reason doubted that the Restricted Section would hold those answers. Fortunately, he had a magical genius on standby to answer his theoretical questions, and he would definitely be taking this topic of discussion to her as soon as he was back in the comfort of his dormitory.

From what he could tell, Calypso was a pragmatist. She learned what was prudent and directly helpful. The difference was that Harry was intensely curious and suspicious of things that were told to him. After being lied to for the majority of one’s life about how they had come to live the life they led and how their parents had become separated from them, he thought it was only natural. And even beyond that, Harry could not let something go on the basis that he ‘knew enough.’

He would always need to pursue that topic until his level of knowledge and understanding was one that he deemed acceptable. 

But for now, he would push that specific question to the back of his mind, even if it would inevitably resurface a short time later.

Sometime later, in the Slytherin dorms…

Harry, near bursting with curiosity, practically bolted behind the veil of his curtains upon his arrival back to the Slytherin common room and later, his dorm. He was far too curious not to seek out immediate answers. That desire found him sitting on his bed, hovering a quill eagerly over his connection to Emily Riddle.

So, an interesting topic came up today. It’s a bit… controversial, but I was wondering if I could ask you about it? 

Her response was slightly more delayed than Harry was accustomed to. He could practically picture whatever the person in possession of the linked bit of parchment looked like trying to ponder exactly what he might ask.

After a time, however, the response came.

I’ve said already, Harry, that you may ask me about anything you like. Specifically, in regards to magic, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. By the nature and wording of your question, I am going to assume that your question centres around one or more areas of extracurricular study.

You could say that, yes. Harry wrote back. If I ask something that I’m… not supposed to ask, you’re not going to show this to the authorities or anything, are you?

Ah, you intend to ask about banned magic, then?

It’s… not exactly legal. So yes, I suppose so.

I find the English Ministry’s classification system in regards to magic positively laughable. It was written by fools who were weak and ignorant. They feared the true scope of magic because they knew that it was so far beyond them.

So in short, no, I will not bat an eye at your question.

Curiosity is not a sin, Harry. It is a beautiful thing that should be nurtured and allowed to flourish. So please, ask your question.

After an intense moment of hesitation, Harry’s curiosity won out over his perpetual sense of paranoia.

I practice combat magic with some older friends and the blinding curse came up. I had one of them show me the counter, and she eventually ended up offering to show me the spell itself. We ended up talking a bit about “dark magic” and I had some questions. She answered them, but she admitted herself that she probably wasn’t the right person to give details. I think she sort of learns what’s useful to her, and then moves on. I’d like to get your opinion on what I asked her, and maybe ask some more detailed questions if you don’t mind.

Harry smiled abashedly at the response.

I don’t see a question in that paragraph, Harry. There is no need to justify yourself to me. I’ve already given you the green light to ask as you please. 

Sighing, Harry finally put his quill to the parchment and got to the point.

I’m not sure if it’s Ministry propaganda, but I’ve read that “dark magic” is extremely addictive. I’ve even heard some authors say that it’s one of the reasons why it’s banned. That you can get addicted to “dark magic” and it can change you. I asked my friend this question, but I’d really appreciate your take on it.

How about you tell me exactly how your friend answered the question. That way, I know what I am working with. Or, which misconceptions I need to erase.

Harry’s lips twitched; Emily’s ever-present confidence was endearing in an odd sort of way. Similar to Charlotte in that way, actually. But a lot less dangerous for him, which amplified the endearing feeling and avoided the dread that came with every display of confidence from the youngest daughter of House Weitts.

My friend said it was rubbish. She said that magic can be addictive. She said that magic is magic; it doesn’t pick what spells are dark and which spells are light. It’s all the same. The difference is in the intent of the spell, not the magic itself.

There was a longer pause this time, but the response was still prompt.

She is mostly correct. That is a rather insightful answer for a student to give, and I am reasonably impressed with it. It has some gaps, however, so allow me to enlighten you.

The short answer is no, “dark magic” is not addictive. Your friend is not entirely correct in saying that the spell doesn’t matter, though her sentiment is true. The magic does not artificially change its wielder based on the intent of the spell.

There are two reasons, aside from the purpose of spreading propaganda, of course, that people say “dark magic” is addictive.

The first is that for many spells considered “dark” by your Ministry, the caster must conjure up negative intent of some kind. The intent to harm is a fairly frequent esoteric requirement, for instance. The problem lies in the fact that most people do not have the emotional or mental control to conjure up that specific, clear intent. As a result, they use a metaphorical crutch to cast “dark magic”.

They focus on something vaguer than intent, that being emotion. In place of true, guided intent, a person can force up negative emotions. The most frequently used are hate and anger. This is problematic because if a person learns to cast like this and begins to cast these spells frequently, they are inevitably plunging themselves into a perpetual paradox of sadness, depression and fury. 

This is not the magic’s fault, but the caster.

If one has true control over their mind and they understand the difference between emotions and intent, this is not a problem. Occlumency is extremely useful in this process. Particularly once a person learns to manipulate their emotions. It is wholly unnecessary to be able to do this in order to cast “dark spells”, but it certainly makes the process easier.

Harry took a moment to soak all of that in before he asked his next question. It was indeed a much deeper answer than Calypso had given, but that was to be expected. Harry liked Calypso, but she had nothing on Emily Riddle when it came to magical knowledge and experience. He found that the last answer was a lot to digest, but that was fairly typical for these conversations.

Within about two minutes, he was ready for more and writing his follow up question.

And the other reason?

And here is where I am going to need to further your knowledge on magic itself for this response to make any degree of sense, as well as patch one of the few holes in your friend’s initial answer.

Harry felt his pulse quicken in excitement. This answer sounded as if it would be extremely enlightening and intensely intriguing. 

The statement “magic is magic” is true in a sense but it is also fundamentally flawed. Magic is one, universal force in which we as witches and wizards can warp with our intent. In that sense, one could argue magic is as flexible as one’s intent, while one could argue that since magic is a near infinitely powerful blank slate, it is one, constant force. Frankly, that is an absurdly philosophical debate that we need not get into. 

The other thing you have to know about magic is that it is a force that lives and breathes all around us. Magic is not within a person. No compartment nor organ within a human being stores magic. There is no genetic disposition that allows a witch or wizard to produce magic. 

Producing magic in this way is not possible. 

As I said, magic is a living, breathing force that lives all around us. Don’t make the mistake of the less educated and think of us witches and wizards as containers. 

Instead, think of us as conductors.

Magic is a blank slate all around us which is there to be manipulated. When we call upon the force itself, we draw magic into us before our intent shapes it and projects it outwards. Obviously, I am oversimplifying this since I do not think you need to know how that process works at this point. Suffice to say it is complex and multi-faceted. 

The important thing to take from that, for this explanation, is the bit about us being conductors. The more grand an act we are attempting, the more magic are bodies will naturally need to draw in. Of course, some people are naturally better conductors than others, which is how they are more “powerful”. 

The truth lays here. 

“Dark magic” is not addictive.

Powerful magic is addictive.

For feats of magic more grand and significant, we need to absorb more magic, as I have said. Drawing in large amounts of magic at a time is addictive. Extremely so, even. It is akin to sensory overload, in a sense. The truth of the matter is that the reason “dark magic” gets lumped in with this phenomenon is that many “dark spells” are ones which require a very large amount of magic to make work. As a result, you experience a “rush” when casting them.

But this is not by any means exclusive to dark magic.

If you were to conjure objects of a grand scale or complexity, a similar thing happens. When one apparates, they experience a similar, if admittedly lesser sensation. 

In short, powerful magic is addictive, not “dark magic”. This also means that to call “dark magic” powerful because of this is ludicrous. There are other spells that require such energy which are not dark, so a person will find it fundamentally impossible to get addicted to “dark magic” as long as they properly guide their intent.

There is nothing that sets ‘dark magic” aside from any other magic aside from the power it requires. As a result, one cannot get addicted to ‘dark magic’. The worst case scenario is that you get addicted to powerful magic.

Harry was left reeling and scratching his temples as a result of that. Sighing, he flipped the page and began to take notes. After all, along with the first page serving as a communication tool, this was a basically endless journal.

It was about time Harry started putting that function to good use.

October 25, 1992

The Third Floor 

7:57 PM

Charlotte sighed, glancing back at the other reason she was confined to the library with Ginny and Laine.

“Officially”, she’d been finishing her homework. At least, that’s what she had told her friends.

Of course, that much was also true.

But it was only half the reason she was there in the first place.

The other reason had pale skin, well-defined features, intense, dark eyes and vivid black hair. Speaking of Derrick Mulciber, Charlotte saw him move out of the corner of her eye.

He was sitting at a table on his own, with several books on charms chaotically clustered around him.

Or, at least, he had been sitting at the table

Currently, he was getting to his feet, scooping up the books and moving to put them back as he slung his bag over one shoulder. 

Taking her cue, Charlotte politely excused herself, promptly packing up her cluster of things before making her way towards the exit to the library. On the way out, she bumped into him, as expected.

Quite forcefully, at that.

Charlotte, who had braced for the impact reared back as if it had done more than it actually had. Mulciber swore under his breath, shooting a vicious glare in her general direction. “Watch where the hell you’re going, Weitts!”

Charlotte made hard, intense eye contact with Mulciber and the boy shivered. It felt as if waves of heat were washing over him. At the same time a feeling crept up within him that was something akin to having his soul read and his secrets laid bare. Clearly, in his mind, Weitts was trying to get him to back down.

As annoying as it was, the impulse did certainly arise.

With a considerable effort, Derrick bit down on the emotion, hard.

“Don’t be a hypocrite, Mulciber. I know your ego takes up a lot of room, but I think you still had enough space to get around me.”

“Weitts, I swear, if you don’t shut up-“

“Curse me then, Mulciber. I dare you to curse me.” As she said this, Charlotte actually went as far as to put her hands behind her back, tilting her head challengingly towards Mulciber.

But still, there was that look in Weitts’s eyes.

That look that promised that she would scorch the earth in her efforts to gain retribution.

And also the fact that they were in the library, which was far too useful of a source to lose. Which was exactly what would happen to Derrick if he cursed Charlotte there and then.

In light of these things, Derrick Mulciber stormed from the library with his head held high, shooting one, last disdainful look back in Charlotte Weitts’s direction, failing to notice the thin, sharp smile on the blonde’s soft, aristocratic face as he made his exit.

As he began his descent down the marble staircase leading into the Hogwarts dungeons, Derrick Mulciber was about done with Charlotte Weitts. What had become a simple task levied upon him had become something more personal since their first encounter.

He could not explain, even to himself, why he had thought fleeing was the best course of action at the time of the attack. After all, they had been blessed with a numeric advantage in the altercation. But still, there had been a thick, unmistakable aura of danger flowing around the corridor. An aura that seemed to practically whisper the words of warning that had flashed through his mind at the time.

In hindsight, he wished he and Alex would have simply stood their ground.

The smugness on Weitts’s face on the occasions they had met was something he couldn’t stand. The way she had practically ordered him out of the library was even more infuriating.

But contrary to what Charlotte Weitts might think, he had not left the library out of any sense of fear or self-preservation.

Instead, he had left the library in search of his original accomplice. 

The first time had been a setup which he himself had not orchestrated. This time would be a message, a display. And unlike the last, it would be done solely for his own, selfish desires.

Just as he thought this, Mulciber came to the bottom of the marble staircase and began to descend deeper into the Hogwarts dungeons, drawing nearer and nearer to the Slytherin common room. 

As he rounded a corner, Mulciber paused to consider where he thought his best friend and chosen accomplice may have been.

That pause was what allowed a white jet of light to hit Mulciber in the back, causing him to go rigid as a board and fall forwards.

From behind the suit of armour connected to the passage near the girl’s bathroom on the second floor, Charlotte Weitts stepped out into the dungeon corridor, levitating the immobile body of Derrick Mulciber into an abandoned classroom a bit down the hall. She noted the fact that later, she would have to thank Harry for the tidbit about that passage. She had asked for the fastest way from the library to the dungeons, and he had obliged her request in seconds.

That had been several days ago.

Ever since her talk with Harry, Charlotte had believed that the attack by Bulstrode on Weasley had been a connected event. This meant in her mind that it was time to properly retaliate. Not with anything major, as of yet, but a warning shot, of sorts.

This had led her to briefly scan the mind of Derrick Mulciber on her way out of the library, quickly noting that he was on his way down to the dungeons. She also noted, as their brief and hostile conversation had progressed, that he planned to set up an ambush for her.

Unfortunately for him, he was no Occlumens, and thanks to Harry, she could get down to the dungeons far, far faster than he could.

“In the future, Mulciber, definitely don’t stop in the middle of an open corridor with your back exposed. You made that way too easy,” Charlotte noted as she floated him into the corner of the room. With another wave of her wand, Charlotte piled desks in front of him. It did not completely obscure him from view, but it would assure he was not discovered here for some time.

Then, she waited. Before levitating him into the room, she had managed to get a flash of something from him. Something about this room being his destination. Her best guess was that he and Jugson often used it as a meeting place.

So, logically, the best way she might be able to find him was by waiting.

She waited longer than she would have liked, about thirty minutes, to be precise. But sure enough, footsteps could be heard after that time had elapsed, obviously coming closer and closer to the room. With a sweet smile, Charlotte slid her wand from her sleeve and waited. When the door opened and Alex Jugson stepped through, he too was struck by a full-body-bind before he could do so much as move.

Before he could fall, Charlotte caught him with a levitation charm and propped him up against the wall in a standing position, keeping him upright with the force of the spell. Then, she stepped towards him, reaching out with the hand that was not holding her wand. Using that hand, she tilted his chin up so that his eyes could meet hers, since his head had slumped limply towards his chest.

“This is your warning, Jugson, since I have a feeling Mulciber is too stubborn to listen. This is me on the fly, with barely any planning or effort. If you two idiots keep going, I’m going to take this a lot more seriously.” 

If Jugson could have moved, he would have shivered. He had never been fond of starting drama with the youngest member of House Weitts to begin with, and this was not exactly a firm boost for his confidence. Least of all when those magnetic eyes seemed to be searching his very soul.

But before he could ponder on it much more, he too was carelessly discarded behind the stacked desks with the levitation charm, and Charlotte had swept out of the abandoned classroom without a second glance.

October 28, 1992

The Slytherin Changing Rooms

8:03 PM

After one of the more intense team practices thus far, Harry and the rest of the Slytherins stepped gratefully into their waiting showers. As November drew near, the frigid weather in the Scottish highlands had become borderline brutal at this time of night. In light of this, many of the showers currently in use were spraying forth water that was a bit warmer than their occupants would normally prefer.

Predictably, Harry was the first to finish showering. Years of conditioning on Privet Drive had left its mark. After having such limited shower time for the majority of his life, it was not a luxury Harry was accustomed to taking advantage of. It was because of this fact that Harry was the first one out of the changing rooms, shivering lightly at the sudden and unwelcome change of temperatures. 

Soon after, he nearly jumped a foot into the air when a voice hissed from somewhere off to his left. 

“Psst, Harry.”

Harry whirled, emerald eyes scanning the landscape for the speaker. His eyes found nothing. Nor, disturbingly, did his ring. Thus far, the only person who had effectively managed to evade whatever magic was used on his ring had been Albus Dumbledore. Then, seconds later, a disembodied, dishevelled mop of black hair made itself present as a hood was lowered, revealing seconds later the left of a floating, familiar face.

“Charlus?” Harry asked skeptically, tensing marginally at his twin’s arrival

Since the fiasco that had been the climax of their first year, the two of them had not properly spoken so much as once. The closest they had come was at the gala, in which they had essentially been obligated to at least make cordial, casual conversation with one another. Even that had been tense, and their relationship had only worsened after the spat in the alley and the tension between the Gryffindors and Slytherins regarding their upcoming Quidditch match.

Oh, and the whole incident when Ron Weasley had punched Harry in the face for trying to stop him from being a git. He supposed that hadn’t helped, either.

When taking all of that into consideration, Harry was more than a little bit surprised to see his brother at all. Let alone to see him waiting for Harry outside of the changing room on the dark, dreary Hogwarts grounds during one of the coldest days of the year thus far.

“Can we talk?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “In case you haven’t noticed, Charlus, we’re already talking. If you mean in private, sure, we can talk. But I’d like to do it in the castle if you don’t mind. It’s cold as hell out here and I just got out of a warm, soothing shower, which only makes it feel even worse.”

Charlus flushed, muttering something about how impossible Harry was. Or perhaps it was about Slytherins, or both. Honestly, Harry wasn’t sure and he did not much care either way as Charlus agreed to his twin’s counter-proposal.

Minutes later, after a silent walk back up to the castle during which Charlus remained hidden under his invisibility cloak, the two twins found themselves in an abandoned classroom. Instantly, both of them drew wands. As Charlus cast the Muffliato charm, Harry waved his wand through the air, drawing tight if admittedly basic runes to conjure up a detection ward around the room.

“What was that?” Charlus asked as he stowed away his wand.

“Just a basic ward. If anybody comes near the room, I’ll know.” Technically, Harry would know already because of his ring, but getting into the habit of casting such wards wasn’t a bad idea. Least of all when it served to further his knowledge and magical memory in regards to Ancient Runes, a subject which he was intensely interested in.

There was a long, tense pause between the two twins in which they both just stared at each other. Harry’s intense, emerald eyes bore into Charlus’s deep, hazel counterparts. For a time, it would have appeared to an onlooker as if neither twin would ever need to blink. Finally, with a long sigh, Charlus looked away. “You’re not going to make this easy on me, are you?”

“Not even a little bit.” Harry admitted shamelessly.

Charlus exhaled deeply. “I was stupid, okay? I… was stuck thinking about what you said instead of what you did. My brain kept coming back to the moment in the catacombs when Voldemort asked you to join her. It kept coming back to the way you hesitated, the way you said you wanted to.”

“What’s changed?” Harry asked bluntly, his expression and voice both perfect personifications of complete and utter calmness. 

“I… don’t know, actually. I think it’s been coming on for a while, but I finally realized it when I talked with Professor Dumbledore ages ago.” At the mention of the Headmaster, Harry’s jaw tightened as his eye twitched. Charlus, looking ashamedly down at the floor noticed neither gesture. 

“I… think when Ginny got sorted into Slytherin, I started to wake up a bit. I’ve grown up with her, sort of. We were never close, but I’ve watched her. I know she’s a good person, which I think jogged my brain to think about you again. And then, when Ron started treating her… the way he’s been treating her, it made me realize that I didn’t want to lose my brother.”

“If nothing else, I applaud you for wanting to be nothing like Ron Weasley.”

Charlus winced. “He’s not that bad, Harry.” Harry tapped the bridge of his nose with his pointer finger three times, prompting Charlus to wince once more. “I’m… sorry for that.”

“You didn’t seem sorry at the time.”

Charlus winced. “I… was an idiot, I guess. I don’t know what to think. I… didn’t take the drama well at the gala, which only made it worse.” Harry snorted, clearly indicating that Charlus had understated the fact, but the Boy-Who-Lived pressed on. “Then, in Flourish and Blotts, you supported Malfoy-”

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Charlus. Come on! You can’t be that thick!”

Charlus blinked. “What do you-“

“Supported Malfoy? He put me in an impossible position. If I answered one way, I’d make you lot upset. If I answered another way, I’d make a whole lot of other people upset who have easy access to me for the whole school year.” This time, it was Harry’s turn to wince. “I… tried to give a neutral answer. I admit that it was not my best moment.”

Charlus now looked taken aback. “So you-you don’t believe in all that blood purist crap?”

Harry gave his twin a long, hard look. “I’m a halfblood, Charlus. Use your brain, I know you have one somewhere.”

“But you said-“

“I said muggles, which is an entirely different debate for an entirely different time. I would rather not talk about how I feel about muggles. If you’re that bothered, let me dumb this down for you; blood purity is complete and utter nonsense. Some of the most powerful wizards in the world are halfbloods. Hell, your friend, Granger is the second-best in our year behind me. That means the two best students in the year are a halfblood and a muggleborn. I see no evidence whatsoever to support blood purity.” He paused. “If you need more convincing, I… did a number on Malfoy after he called your friend a mudblood.”

Charlus looked legitimately curious. “What did you do to him?”

Harry shrugged. “Bruised his rib, cut off his airways for a few seconds and warned him. I told him if he ever used that word in front of me again, he would wish to be back in that changing room.”

Charlus looked very conflicted about that confession, but he chose not to comment. “Why don’t you like muggles?”

“Charlus, I would really rather not ruin the first decent conversation we’ve had in months by starting a stupid disagreement that neither of us are ever going to agree with the other one on.”

“Does that mean you’ll accept my apology?”

“I haven’t heard an apology yet.”

Scrunching up his face in annoyance, Charlus took a long inhale of breath before exhaling in a measured sort of way. “I’m sorry for being a git to you for the last few months. And for being a complete idiot and missing everything that should’ve been obvious.”

Harry shrugged. “Close enough.”

“So… are we good then?”

Harry pondered that question for almost a full minute before answering. “We are not on the same terms we left on. We’re brothers, but right now, we’re not friends. If I’m being honest, I don’t trust you. The last time I gave you a chance, you betrayed my trust, broke your promise and then painted me as the villain for months. We start from square one. You can work to rebuild our trust and if you don’t bottle it this time, we’ll eventually get back to where we were last year. I’ll warn you right now though, it might take longer this time around.”

Charlus let the tension ease out of his body. It was the best outcome he could have realistically hoped for. In truth, the second year Gryffindor knew that it was far more than he deserved. “So…” he started, “excited for the Quidditch match?”

In spite of himself, Harry cracked a weak smile. “We haven’t talked in four months, and of course, the first damn question you ask me is related to Quidditch.”

Charlus laughed. He couldn’t tell if it was a good start or not. If nothing else, it was certainly an amusing one.

October 31, 1992

The Slytherin Common Room

5:46 PM

Harry wished his friends all the best as they departed for the traditional “Halloween feast”. Just the fact that the school called it Halloween and not the Samhain feast was enough to infuriate much of Slytherin House, but it was not the reason why Harry had no interest in the evening’s festivities.

Those reasons were of course quite obvious. 

Eleven years ago to the day, Lady Voldemort had attacked Harry’s family, killed his mother, and by extension, ruined his life. It was because of the events that transpired that night that he had grown up abandoned and abused on Privet Drive.

That was the difference between him and Charlus, Harry suspected.

While Charlus certainly felt the effects of that night, it did not have the same, dark implications that it had for Harry.

For Charlus, it was the mourning of a person he had never truly known. Aside from that, the night in question had given him fame, notoriety and prestige.

In Harry’s case, it was not so much mourning the person as much as it was mourning the life he never had the opportunity to live.

Sighing, he glanced up at the clock. It had taken him approximately three minutes to realize that if he sat there, he was going to become lost in deep, depressing thoughts that would only make his already murky mood more miserable than it already was. He could try and read, or study, or a combination of the two, but he immediately knew his mind would not focus on the task. Instead, it would fixate on the dark, oppressive thoughts that clung on to the edges of his mind like a dying man about to fall overboard. 

There was a part of Harry that knew venturing out into the castle proper was a poor idea. Last year, that had nearly gotten him killed. 

But at this point, Harry could think of few things worse than the crippling mood he was currently experiencing. After all, there was no troll to attack him this year, and no evil Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, as far as he could tell.

Of course, as he quietly walked out of the Slytherin common room, a part of him knew that the gods of irony should be left unchallenged.

Most of him, however, disregarded those thoughts completely.

Meanwhile, in a different section of the Hogwarts dungeons…

“Tell me again,” Ron muttered, “why exactly are we going to some ghost’s birthday party?”

“Deathday party, Ronald,” Hermione corrected.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah, sorry, such an easy mistake to make.”

“If you say that at any point tonight, there is a serious chance that somebody may actually get offended.”

Ron shrugged. “It’s not like they can hurt me, is it? They’re ghosts.”

Hermione just sighed as Charlus walked along in silence. Truthfully, he was not in the mood for any of their foolish bickerings. Ideally, he would have attended the deathday party alone. But Ron had been walking with him when Nearly-Headless Nick had made the offer.

At least it would be better than the hundreds of students that would have awaited him in the Great Hall. On this night, he preferred solidarity. Even if this was not exactly what he had been going for, it was at least closer than what he could have been experiencing.

Idly, Charlus wondered exactly what his brother thought of Samhain, and exactly what Harry may have been doing at that precise moment in time.

Approximately two hours later, on the fourth floor…

Harry noted that by now, the feast was coming to a close and he would need to quickly dress if he wanted to arrive at Weitts Manor in time for the Samhain gala. 

It was with this in mind that he quickly began making his way down towards the second floor, which contained the passage concealed behind a suit of armour which would swiftly take him directly down to the Hogwarts dungeons, circumventing the needless crowds and distance in between.

As he neared the third floor, however, he froze, his eyes going wide as his entire body went ramrod stiff. 

The sound was like nothing he had ever heard before.

It seemed raspy, almost as if it had not been used in a very long time. At the same time, it had an intrinsically powerful air about it. 

Harry could not explain it, but something about that voice scared him more than Voldemort. More than Vernon Dursley. More than anything he had ever experienced in his entire life. 

“Rip… tear… kill!”

Harry’s wand was in his hand a second later as he did a complete three-hundred-sixty degree rotation on the staircase, trying to locate any threats. At the same time, he was focusing intensely on his ring, but it was not warning him of any threats nearby. 

Of course, there was a part of him that instinctively knew there was no weapon in his arsenal that would give whatever this was so much as a second thought, but ingrained habits were a powerful thing, after all.

After realizing whatever the source of that voice was had not yet neared down upon him, Harry strained his senses, trying to catch it again.

Seconds later, he was rewarded.

“So long I have waited — too long, far too long. Blood; I smell blood! Let me rip you, let me tear you, let me kill you!”

With terror, Harry realized that the voice was closer this time. The first time it had sounded out, he would have perhaps estimated it to be further above him. This only meant one thing in Harry’s mind.

It was coming for him and drawing nearer by the second.

As irrational fear gripped Harry’s heart, he took the stairs at a flat sprint, barreling down onto the third floor and not stopping there. The worst part was that as he ran, making straight for the passage near the out of order girl’s lavatory on the second floor, Harry heard the voice sound several more times, drawing closer and closer. Then, oddly, it sounded one final time, and to Harry, it almost sounded as if it was below him. He wondered in horror, as he began to hear the sounds of students making their way upstairs from the feast, whether or not the thing was waiting to ambush him on the floor below.

Then, a minute or so later, as Harry flew around the corner to the second-floor girl’s bathroom which had been out of bounds ever since his arrival at Hogwarts, he froze, wide-eyed at the scene in front of him, which could have been taken straight out of one of Dudley’s overdramatized horror movies.

There was a puddle of water on the floor. To call it a puddle was doing it a disservice. The entire corridor was coated in it, at least two inches in any given space. It appeared as if it was seeping from under the door of the restroom.

But that was not the terrible part.

Hanging from the torch bracket on the opposite wall, very clearly limp and very possibly dead was Mrs. Norris. More disturbingly still, Harry could see no obvious signs of damage anywhere on her body.

And if that was not the icing on the cake, the writing on the wall certainly was.

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, beware!

As his mind struggled to process what he was seeing, only one, glaring thought made itself obvious to Harry.

If somebody walked in on this right now, it was going to look very, very bad.

As if the thought had summoned some sort of being forged straight from irony itself, harry suddenly heard heavy, panicked footsteps rushing in his direction. 

That was the moment in which he had a split-second decision to make.

He could either stand here out in the open and get discovered. Or he could activate his ring and go dark. The problem with the second was that realistically, he could only hold his breath for about a minute, tops. Whoever was bearing down upon the scene was inevitably going to be distracted for at least that long by the horror of the setting that awaited them, and Harry thought the only thing worse than this for him would be if he was caught attempting to hide.

So it was with that in mind that Harry waited for the person’s arrival, feeling as if he were on death row. There was an infinitesimally small amount of time when Harry wished he had tried to bolt for the passage. The problem was that he knew he would never have made it in time.

That thought was confirmed not five seconds later when three figures skidded around the corner, and Harry could have actually facepalmed at the cruelty of it all.

‘What the fuck kind of luck do I have on Samhain?’

“Harry?” Charlus asked, wide eyed, confused and scared-looking. Then, he looked past his brother and went pale as a sheet as he, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger all realized what they had just walked in on.

“Charlus!” Harry tried desperately. “I know what this looks like but I promise you, I did nothing! I was wandering the school and-“ but before he could finish, Weasley had drawn his wand. A second later, Granger had followed, and both wands were suddenly trained on Harry.

“Don’t move!” Hermione said forcefully as Ron began crying out, screaming about a tragic scene to draw the attention of the crowd. Subconsciously, Harry took a step towards the passageway. “You’re not going anywhere, Potter,” Hermione said shrilly. “Stay where you are or I swear I will curse you.”

Harry looked pleadingly towards Charlus, but his brother was having none of it. His expression looked stricken and betrayed.

The worst part was, Harry couldn’t even blame him this time.

If the situations were reversed, Harry would never buy the excuses of somebody caught in his precarious position. It was too convenient, too obvious to ignore.

Later, he would curse himself for his lack of concentration at that moment.

As he looked away from her, Granger took that moment to disarm him. Before he could do so much as protest, he had been hit with a charm which stuck his feet flat to the floor and then a full-body-bind curse. The only positive was the former prevented the latter from causing Harry to fall face-first into a puddle of water.

The unfortunate thing was that in a matter of seconds, the entire school was about to walk in on the crime scene and find Harry there as the obvious culprit.

And a part of him had always known it.

Had always known that he should have left the gods of irony unchallenged.

Author’s Endnote:

Well, this turned out way longer than I expected.

I wanted to get up to Samhain in this chapter, so I decided to just settle for one, really long chapter as opposed to two shorter ones. I still cut several thousand words and pushed it back to the next chapter as well. This was just way too good of an ending not to use.

I hope the magical theory stuff did not come across as too much of an info dump. I dumped a lot on you guys in quick succession, but I hope the large multitude of other, hopefully interesting events in this chapter served to circumvent that possibility.

Please read and review.

AN 2: (For Discord Users) At some point in this chapter, I want to reference an article written by Skeeter which slanders the Muggle Protection Act and gives quotes from Lucius Malfoy. It will probably only be referenced and not all written out, but I honestly have no idea where to include it, so I will happily take suggestions before this chapter goes public on and AO3.

Hope you enjoyed the chapter.



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