AoC 4

Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos

Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension

Chapter 4: Jostling for Position

By ACI100

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to my beta Umar for his work on this story. Additionally, a massive thank you is extended to Fezzik. She became a beta for me at a later date and has graciously agreed to assist me in revising these early chapters.

Self-Promotion: I have a discord server where you can chat and read all of my chapters early. If you would like to join, simply copy the link on my profile.

If you would like to dive further into the AoCverse, you can check out the AoC Wiki and TV Tropes Pages by following the links on my profile. You can do likewise to follow the official ACI100 account on Twitter and to check out the official website.

September 2, 1991

The Great Hall

6:07 PM

It had taken Harry a surprisingly short period of time to find the library after their first Defence lesson of the year with Professor Hurst. True, he had not yet located a spell that could be used to stop his cries at night from reaching the ears of the other students, but progress was progress at the end of the day. He planned on returning to the library after dinner to hopefully remedy that inconvenience.

When he entered the hall and made his way towards the Slytherin table, the only Slytherin first years present were Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, Greengrass and Davis. The first three were sitting with the same contingent of older students that Harry had spotted them with earlier that day. With some trepidation, he made his way towards the first year’s section of the table and made to take a seat near the end. Unfortunately for his plans, Davis began to gesture for Harry to sit with the three girls and he sighed internally. Not wishing to come across as rude, he had little choice but to oblige her.

“Where have you been since class?” asked Tracey curiously. “Everyone else was in the common room working on prep.”

“The library,” he answered honestly, reaching for conservative amounts of both steak and potatoes to pile onto his plate. 

“Don’t tell me you’re studying already?” asked Tracey. “It’s the first day!”

He shrugged. “Better ahead than behind,” he justified, pulling his plate towards him.

“Yeah,” sighed Davis with a roll of her eyes as her two friends continued to merely observe, “because you’re definitely not ahead already or anything.”

He smiled indulgently at her. “I have to keep the same attitude if I want to stay as far ahead as I am right now. Besides,” he added in an attempt to divert the conversation off of this topic of discussion, “Snape nearly caught me out today in Potions.”

“How did you know all of that?” asked Parkinson, looking as if she were speaking to him grudgingly at best.

“I just read ahead. I’m interested in the subject and I have a fairly good memory.”

“That was a fairly impressive showing,” admitted Greengrass with what sounded like genuine respect. 

He inclined his head to her. “Not as impressive as your brew though. I have to admit, I have no idea how you pulled it off.”

“Daphne is a genius with potions!” Davis gushed. “She could probably brew all of the N.E.W.T ones already!” 

“Snape really seems to dislike you,” Greengrass put in casually. Harry recognized the probe.

“More my brother, I think,” he answered thoughtfully. “He seemed to warm up to me a bit as the class went on, mainly because I just kept my head down and answered his questions. My dear brother did himself no favours though.” 

“I hope Dumbledore gave him detention for the year,” Parkinson interjected a bit snottily. “He should know better than to disrespect our Head of House like that.”

“I think he probably does in general, but Snape seems to be an exception,” noted Harry. 

“You don’t seem as bothered as your brother,” Greengrass commented, something that made Harry shrug.

“I don’t make snap judgement calls. I’ll work out what I think of Snape for myself.”

Tracey just looked bemused. “I hope none of the professors give us any more prep tomorrow.” 

“It’s the first day; how are you complaining already?” Daphne asked with a roll of her eyes.

“Because we have so much prep!” Tracey moaned dramatically. Parkinson, who looked as if she had no real interest in acknowledging Tracey, nodded grudgingly.

“What do we have tomorrow, anyway?” 

“Herbology, History and a Transfiguration double in that order,” said Harry. “They’re broken up by spares and meals and the like.” 

The girls all looked rather surprised at his answer. “How can you possibly know that without looking at your timetable?” Parkinson scoffed, sounding rather skeptical. 

Harry just smiled a bit sheepishly at the girl. “I told you already, I have a good memory. If you don’t trust it, you’re welcome to check for yourself.” 

It seemed as if Daphne was doing just that, and her eyebrows rose as she looked down at her own timetable. 

“He’s right,” she confirmed, shooting him a rather calculating look. “When you say you have a ‘good memory’, how good are we talking about?”

“Good enough,” Harry answered easily, avoiding the question with little effort. He was sure Greengrass was well aware of the tactic, though if it bothered her, she did not show it. 

“Well,” said Harry, having finished his rather small portion of food after a few more minutes, “have a good night.” He inclined his head to the four students as he stood and left the hall for the library once more, his bag slung over his shoulder as he went. 

He spent a couple more hours in the library looking for a silencing spell, but couldn’t find it. Frankly, there were just too many books in the library for him to locate such a specific spell. It was nearly curfew as he flipped furiously through the final pages of a Charms book, cursing rather colourfully under his breath when he came to its conclusion without finding what he was looking for.

“Language, Master Potter. I would hate to deduct points from somebody who appears to be an early favourite to become my star student.” 

Harry jumped at the calm, cool voice from directly behind him, allowing the book to close with a rather loud snap that drew the attention of the librarian, Madam Pince, as he turned to find Professor Hurst looking down at him with a rather amused expression on her face. 

“I’m sorry, Professor,” he said with as much fake sincerity as he could manage. “I won’t do it again.”

She merely smiled knowingly at him. “Certainly not when I’m in your vicinity, at least.” her face became more serious. “What has you so riled up?”

He hesitated. He didn’t really want to share the information, as he dreaded the questions that would follow such an admission. 

She could probably speed things up quite a bit though.

He sighed, giving in to practicality and curiosity as he looked up at her questioningly. “I can’t seem to find a spell. I’m sure something like what I’m looking for exists, but without knowing anything about it, it’s been nearly impossible to find.”

Slowly, Professor Hurst appraised him, seeming to be mildly surprised by Harry’s explanation. “If it is a simple desire, a method of completing it likely does exist, yes.” She waited for a moment, but when Harry didn’t speak, she cut in once more. “Well? If you would like me to aid you in your endeavour, it might help if you tell me what you’re looking for?”

Harry blinked bemusedly. He wasn’t accustomed to anybody actually helping him, let alone taking the initiative to do so. The impulse to ask the professor for help had never even materialized.

“Don’t ask questions!” he could remember Petunia snapping at him on numerous occasions throughout his childhood. He thought that he might need to start working towards breaking that habit.

“Um… I’m looking for some sort of spell to stop sound from travelling outside of a certain area. So, something I could use on a wall, or divider, or something like them to make sure that sound doesn’t travel to the other side?”

The professor nodded. “That wasn’t so difficult, was it? The spell you would be looking for would be the Silencing Charm. It can be cast on an object to silence the object itself, but it can also be used in the way you have described it; though it takes a fair bit of power and prowess to pull it off in that manner.” 

She thought for a moment, seeming to be debating something internally before a few seconds later, she seemed to come to her decision. 

“There is a little known spell that is more suited to your desire and quite frankly, it takes little to no prowess to cast.” The professor’s sharp eyes flitted quickly around the room. “I shall teach it to you, but I would strongly recommend you keep it to yourself. As I said, it is little known and if word gets back to… certain individuals that you’re using it, it could spark some rather problematic questions.”

Vaguely, Harry wondered why such a simple spell could cause “problematic questions” but he didn’t bother to ask. “I’ll keep it to myself,” he assured the Professor. 

She peered at him critically for a moment before nodding. She withdrew her wand and Harry felt — something rush outward from it. It was as if something heavy and oppressive was spreading around them, emanating from the tip of the Defence Professor’s wand. “The incantation is Muffliato,” she enlightened, sounding it out clearly and precisely. “The wand movement is a quick twist of one’s wand and outward flick like so.” She demonstrated the wand movement before waving her wand and causing whatever force that seemed to surround them to noticeably recede. “Try it. It’s a simple spell; no real focus nor intent is required.” 

Harry did so, slowly and deliberately repeating her earlier actions. 

It worked. 

The magic, at least he assumed it was magic, that spread from his wand seemed mildly lighter, less potent perhaps than that which she had created, but it had worked.

“That will be more than sufficient,” she told him, nodding with mild approval. “Now, if that is all, I recommend that you return to your common room. Curfew is fast approaching, and I would hate to have such a gifted student in detention so early on in the school year.”

“Yes, ma’am, and… thank you,” he said, finding it odd, if not difficult to thank somebody out of genuine gratitude as opposed to an obligation.

She gave him a small, thin smile before raising a hand to pause his retreat.

“Remember, Master Potter, that within this world, curiosity is not a sin but a gift. If it is managed carefully and honed correctly, nothing but positive outcomes will stem from such curiosity. Have a good night.” 

With that parting message, the pair of them left the library, moving in different directions. Harry did his utmost best to digest the words of his professor, feeling as if there was a larger, maybe even a much larger message that he had missed within those eloquent words.

Harry just barely made it back to the Slytherin common room before curfew. As he stepped inside, he allowed a relieved smile to spread across his face. That smile lasted for a mere few seconds before he quickly noticed a palpable tension within the common room that could not be missed. Accompanied by that sense of tension, at least in the case of Harry, was a sense of danger. He just knew something was wrong. As his intense, green eyes scanned the common room at large, he quickly located the source of the tension. 

This was certainly going to be interesting. 

Sitting in the lounge area he had noticed previously was not Weitts and her entourage. A very large, athletic-looking boy with sharp features and dark eyes sat in the dead centre of the lounge as if it were a throne. Only one of his friends was clearly willing to partake in this endeavour alongside him. His friend was a tall, lean, athletic-looking boy who was rather unassuming in appearance.

Nobody spoke on the seating arrangement, and to most of the house’s credit, they continued performing their normal activities as if nothing were happening at all. In spite of the play at normality, it was blatantly clear that everyone in the room was on edge. It didn’t appear that Weitts, nor her group of friends were in the common room. Curfew drew ever nearer by the second, so Harry thought it unlikely that would be the case for a whole lot longer.

Harry’s eyes roamed over the crowd once more, searching out his fellow first years. 

Malfoy was sitting with the same group of older students Harry had seen him with twice that day, plus Crabbe, Goyle and Theodore Nott. They were making quiet conversation, though Harry noticed Draco’s eyes flickering towards the lounge area every few minutes. In a far corner of the room, he spotted Greengrass and Davis, both quietly doing their prep. Greengrass did not make her observations quite as obvious as the Malfoy heir, though Harry would bet every galleon he was entitled to via his heir status that she had every sense tuned into the situation. 

He didn’t quite have a read on Daphne Greengrass as of yet, but one thing that he knew about her beyond doubt was that she was undeniably sharp. Parkinson and Zabini were sitting in silence, also seeming to be working on their prep. Zabini managed to look completely indifferent, though Parkinson managed nothing even remotely close to that feat. 

Harry’s eyes landed on the empty seat beside Zabini. As quickly and quietly as he could, Harry swept towards them and gracefully lowered himself into the seat. Zabini glanced up, giving Harry a near unreadable look that Harry managed to distinguish as a silent inquisition. He got the message just fine. Zabini was trying to gauge whether or not he understood what was going on. In response, Harry allowed a small smile to grace his lips as he subtly jerked his head towards the lounge. Zabini looked surprised for only a moment before returning to his work. Parkinson, who was fixated on the lounge in the centre, missed the entire exchange.

The tension in the room only built as time progressed. Just as Harry thought it couldn’t continue any longer and that somebody would surely disrupt it, the wall separating the common room from the outside corridor slid aside. Admitting Grace and several of her friends, including Rhea Pax. Grace was speaking as they entered the common room, but her friends seemed to lose focus as they became aware of the atmosphere they were entering. To Pax’s credit, she regained it within a second, but Harry was most impressed with Grace herself. 

The girl didn’t so much as stutter in her monologue, nor did she break stride as she casually strolled towards the lounge. The tension in the room rose to a fever pitch until finally, Grace came to a stop in front of the boys, who were now both doing their best to act as if they were absorbed in their books. Harry was a bit taken aback when Grace didn’t call them on it outright. She instead cleared her throat in what sounded like a perfectly polite, even amiable tone.

“Excuse me, Flint, Higgs, but I believe you’re sitting in our seats.”

Harry really didn’t think the atmosphere in the room could increase in electricity any more than it already had, but at that moment, he found himself proven wrong as all at once, the room seemed to hold its collective breath.

The boy in the dead centre — Flint, Harry assumed, as Grace had addressed him first, slowly, and deliberately closed his book with an unnecessarily loud snap and looked up at Weitts. For those close enough to see Flint’s face, there was clear defiance evident in his dark, narrow eyes.

“With all due respect, Weitts, I think seats are open to anybody. I don’t see what gives you the right to a particular place in the common room.” It was obviously that he was trying to sound casual, but he was only partially succeeding. 

Harry swore he saw Grace’s lips twitch, but it happened so fast that he couldn’t be sure. 

“Don’t be melodramatic, Marcus,” Weitts chided him. “If you’re so unwilling to move, I think  both of us know exactly what that means.” Her face stayed completely neutral, but Harry, as was the case with most in the room, had no problem at all identifying the undertone of challenge in Weitts’s voice. 

There was a second pause before Flint’s face split into a rather easy smile as he gestured for his friend to join him as he stood. 

“No, not at all. I was just confused about the arrangement. No harm done; you can have the seat if it means that much to you.”

Flint and Higgs strode off casually. Flint even went as far as to incline his head to Weitts and her entourage. Grace’s friends all took their seats, though Rhea seemed to look to Grace before doing so. Grace stepped towards the sofa, but Harry knew she had no intention of sitting as he realized exactly what was about to happen a split second before it did.



Grace whirled around with enough speed that Harry would have sworn she had slowed down time. She seemed to pirouette around like a ballerina, her wand already drawn as she faced the two spells flying her way, one fired from Higgs, the latter from Flint. As fast as she had turned, Harry was sure it wouldn’t be fast enough. The first spell, fired off by Higgs, was inches away from her chest, whereas the second, fired off by Flint, was a bit off to her right and a bit behind its predecessor. 

If Grace didn’t move in time, something Harry viewed as an inevitability, she would be struck with the first curse. If she stepped to the right, she would be struck with the second. Her left was impeded by the sofa, on which her entourage sat.

Grace took neither option.

Her arm moved so fast it was nearly blurred as she brought her wand up in front of her chest at the last possible second. Right as the first spell was about to impact her, it was sent off course, as if she had swatted the blast of magic away with her wand. If that was not impressive enough, the spell’s new path had it on a quick collision course with its counterpart. When the two spells met, there was a sound like a firecracker and a bright flash of red light as the spells both sparked out. Grace’s wand snapped up, and without uttering a word, she quickly took advantage of the stunned state she had befallen on her two opponents.

A contingent of ravens flowed like quicksilver from the tip of her wand and soared towards the two boys. As they neared their prey, a subtle twitch of Grace’s wand had transformed them. Now, they appeared to be more solid, as if made of metal. Their beaks and talons seemed unnaturally sharp and seemed to shine in the dim light of the common room.

“Protego!” cried Higgs as Flint simply dove for cover. The birds collided with his shield, disappearing in a haze of smoke. Flint took advantage of this distraction, popping up to the side and taking aim at Weitts. 

“Somnum Exterreri!”

The near-black spell hurtled towards Weitts, who turned at the last second, wide-eyed, and took the curse straight in the face. The crowd of onlookers gasped. She fell to the floor and began to twitch, and Flint’s face broke into a manic grin for a whole three seconds before he seemed to realize something was wrong. The twitching girl gave no verbal reaction.

“Ausüben Caeli!”

There was a momentary blur around Flint. Then, as if the very air had grabbed him, he was jerked violently off his feet. He thrashed wildly against his invisible restraints, but it was to no avail. A second later, he was tossed through the air as if he were an action figure discarded carelessly by a child. He slammed hard into the wall, slumping to the floor, where he rolled feebly, curling into a fetal position. 

Nobody dared stand to help him.


The same curse from earlier flew towards Weitts once more, who had appeared behind Flint a second earlier. Clearly, she had conjured some sort of duplicate version of herself to take the curse from Flint. When she cast her next spell, the Grace that had been twitching on the ground vanished. This time, there was no drama as she batted Higgs’s aside in much the same manner she had done earlier, but this time she made it look easy.

‘Slower though,’ Harry noticed.

“The same curse again, Terence? I’m disappointed.”


A ten-foot-long viper lunged from the boy’s wand and reared to strike Weitts. Before it could, she swept her wand towards Higgs. In an instant, the snake was a set of ropes which seemed hell-bent on binding Higgs. He sidestepped at the last second, cutting them in half without a word before whirling back on Weitts.

“Everte Statum!”

Again, Grace batted aside the curse, but this time, she sent it straight towards the boy himself. Higgs gracefully dodged the spell but all of a sudden, he found the ground underneath his feet to be made of ice. Before he knew it, he was on his back. He tried to jump to his feet, but as he did so, ropes appeared from nowhere, binding him to the ground as his wand sailed from his hand. 

Slowly, Weitts crept her way towards her fallen opponent, getting down to his level before she slid her hand underneath his chin, tilting the wide-eyed boy’s head up so that he was forced to meet her eyes.

“I am giving you a pass for your idiocy, Higgs. I will only do it once. I don’t know what Flint convinced you of or offered you to help, but just know that whatever it was — it wasn’t worth it.” 

The message was clear. 

Do not cross me again.

Higgs nodded quickly and Grace patted the boy on the cheek in the way a proud mother may do her four or five-year-old son for counting to ten. Then, with a flick of her wand, she vanished the boy’s restraints and he was on his feet in an instant, making his way towards the tunnels that branched off of the common room and towards the dormitories. He made it about halfway before he paused, looking back with wide eyes towards Weitts.

“Yes?” she asked, her voice filled with perfect innocence. 

“M-m-my wand?” asked the other boy, looking like he very much regretted his decision to turn around.

“Oh, this?” said Grace, twirling the offending piece of wood between her nimble fingers. “I think I’ll hold onto it for now. Just for the night, you know. I want to make sure that the message… sinks in.” She looked at him inquisitively. “Unless, of course, you have any objections?”

Though the pain in Higgs’s eyes was evident, he shook his head quickly, turning on his heel and scrambling down the tunnel towards the dormitory. 

As for Flint, he was collected a moment later by two older prefects and hauled from the common room, likely being taken to the hospital wing.

Harry didn’t have to ask. He knew that Madam Pomfrey would never hear the full story on how he had wound up there.

As the crowd finally thinned to only herself, Grace, Rhea, and a couple of third-year boys, Daphne decided that it was time to wrap up her rather extensive essay for Snape. 

She was certain that in terms of content, insight, and length, it was far more than the man expected. As she scribbled down her conclusion, she briefly registered the sounds of Rhea wishing Grace a good night before she made her way up to her dorm. What she did not register was Grace sending a few not-so-subtle glares in the direction of the lingering third years, a move that sent them scampering up to their own dorm without further prompting.

After several more minutes of concluding what Daphne privately thought was quite the masterpiece, she rubbed her temples, nearly jumping out of her skin when a familiar voice spoke from right over her shoulder.

“I doubt even Snape was cruel enough to ask for that on your first day.”

“Don’t do that!” Daphne hissed at Grace, glancing cautiously around the room as she stowed her essay into her bag. It was, as she could clearly see, empty aside from the two of them.

Grace laughed softly. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You’re usually more observant.” 

“I’m usually not nose deep in an essay,” Daphne defended, to which Grace dipped her head in acceptance.

“Touché.” she returned, taking a seat beside Daphne as she folded her hands in her lap.

Daphne looked at her suspiciously. “If mother or father owled to ask you to keep an eye on me, you don’t need to listen; It’s not necessary. I can more than take care of-“

“Relax, Daphne,” breathed Grace, raising a hand to silence the younger girl’s protestations. “I have not sent nor received one owl from your parents in the past month, let alone since we’ve arrived at Hogwarts.” She smiled a rare, genuine smile to the girl whom she considered as a second little sister. “Is it so wrong for me to worry about you? Why does it have to come from your parents?”

Daphne blushed. “I’m fine!” she defended.

“Yes, I’m sure you are. For the record, I have no doubt that you are more than capable of taking care of yourself.” She smiled a soft smile to Daphne once more. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to worry about you though. It is still hard to wrap my head around the fact that the girl I watched grow up is now here with me at Hogwarts.”

Daphne smiled genuinely back at her. “Thank you,” she said, sounding almost shy. “I’m sure it will be even weirder for you next year when Charlotte starts up here.”

Grace pulled a face. “You have no idea,” she commented dryly. “It was all she talked about since getting her wand in July.”

“I know,” said Daphne with a soft smile of her own, “I spent as much time with her as you did — I always have.”

“I know you have,” said Grace fondly. Daphne and her sister had been best friends for as long as either of them could remember. As a matter of fact, Daphne had known Charlotte far longer than she had known even Tracey. “I think she’s going to miss you more than me this year.”

Daphne sighed. “I do wish she was here. It’s odd without her, and I’m not sure it is a change I’m entirely thrilled with.”

“You should take advantage of it in the best way you can,” Grace advised, earning her a rare, confused look from Daphne. “Make new allies, maybe even friends.” she elaborated.

“I have no interest in making friends with Malfoy and his goons, let alone Nott.”

“I never told you whom to make friends with. I can understand why you would want to avoid becoming too close with children of Conservative leaders, but I doubt I need to tell you the importance of remaining on good terms with them, regardless.”

“No,” agreed Daphne, “I’ve heard it for half of my life. You don’t need to remind me.” 

Grace chuckled. “Your parents did start quite early, didn’t they? Anyway, I’m not telling you to make allies with Malfoy or Nott, though between me and you, you might want to consider Potter.”

“Potter?” asked Daphne, completely baffled by the mere concept.

“Oh? Is there something wrong with him?”

“No, not really,” Daphne conceded. “Not with him, anyway. But making friends with him would be as dangerous as slapping Draco across the face in terms of political alliances.”

“I disagree,” Grace argued lightly.

Daphne’s eyes narrowed. “He is the brother of Charlus Potter! The-Boy-Who-Lived, the saviour of Magical Britain, The Gryffindor Golden Boy, The Beacon of The Light! If I allied myself with Potter, I would practically be waving around a sign saying that my family was going to jump camp to support Dumbledore.” 

Grace sniffed at the very idea of such a thing ever happening, but she shook her head. “I don’t think you’ve been as observant as you ought to have been,” she chided. “I don’t think allying yourself with Potter would ally you with the Light side at all.”

“But how-“

“Oh, come on, Daphne; I know you’re better than that. Has Potter mentioned a word about his family since the two of you have arrived at Hogwarts?” 

Daphne thought about it for a moment before slowly, she nodded. “He said something about his father not really being in his life.”

“I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised whatsoever. He acts nothing like what people say his father is like. He is quiet, reserved, and extremely perceptive.” She appraised Daphne for a long, calculating moment before she spoke next, her voice lowering by several octaves. 

“I have no evidence to support this theory, but for some reason, I highly doubt Potter would prescribe to the Liberal ideologies. He seems far too logical and critical, and if he really has had little to do with his father, he will likely be entering the magical world as a fairly blank canvas.”

Daphne’s eyes widened once more, though this time it was with understanding. “You think I can sway him to our set of beliefs?”

“I think it’s possible,” admitted Grace. “But it’s more than just politics. You two have more in common than either of you realise, and I think he would be a good match for you intellectually. What I am trying to say,” Grace continued, preparing to surprise her young friend with her next words, “is that I think, through providing Potter a sort of safety net against the pureblood bigots through your family’s name and clout, you could form not just an alliance, but a friendship.”

September 3, 1991

Potter Manor

7:42 AM

James Charlus Potter, Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter, esteemed philanthropist, and Senior Auror among other titles had not slept all that poorly the night previous, at least not by his more recent standards. In spite of that fact, James’s eyes were heavy with weariness he continued to grapple with the mental fatigue that had been pressing firmly upon him since the Gringotts break-in more than a month earlier. 

Rufous Scrimgeour, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had been under heavy amounts of pressure from Bartemius Crouch Sr, the Minister for Magic, to provide some answers in regards to the break-in. Scrimgeour had put the same pressure on Alastor Moody, the Head of the Auror Corps. 

As a by-product of that, James had been put under that same, intense pressure. 

As one of the three senior-ranking Aurors, he’d been run ragged for the last month in an attempt to find answers that just did not seem to be there. James was certain of only one thing really, at least when it came to the Gringotts break-in. 

Whoever had pulled off the break-in, despite their failure to actually get their hands on the stone, was a witch or wizard of prodigious skill. He was sure that nothing less would have managed to get them in and out of Gringotts alive, let alone seemingly unscathed and without leaving a trace in their wake.

James would have to leave for work in less than twenty minutes and as had been the case of late, he doubted very much that he would return before nine or ten o’clock that evening.

He felt his weariness lift a moment later, if admittedly marginally when a young, familiar-looking eagle owl flew in through the open window, causing James’s heart to leap. It was  his first correspondence from one of his sons. The rush of joy and excitement did not last long, as James would swear until the day he died that he had felt his heart drop from his throat to the pit of his stomach upon reading the first letter of Charles’s Hogwarts tenure.

Dear father,

I did it! I’m in Gryffindor, just like you and mum! I’m so relieved! I’ve never been so nervous in my life! I seriously thought I would throw up last night. 

I still think you should’ve told me about the hat, but I guess we can argue about that another time, since I actually have something important to tell you.

I met Harry for the first time on the way to Hogwarts and talked with him once or twice since then. 

Dad… it’s not good.

He’s really angry with you and he’s being a right wanker about it! He said a load of terrible things about me, you, and even Gryffindor! Can you believe it? Oh, yeah, he’s a Slytherin by the way, as if it couldn’t be any worse. He’s really angry with you. He said that you should feel terrible for what “they did to him” but he wouldn’t tell me what. Honestly, I think he’s being a bit of a drama queen, but I wouldn’t really expect anything less from someone in Slytherin. Maybe he’s trying to be cunning or something? I don’t know. He even said that for all anybody knew, he could be the Boy-Who-Lived! Can you believe that? I mean — I know he didn’t mean it, but still!

Snape was as greasy and as horrible as you said he would be! I have detention on Saturday and Sunday for talking back to him in class. I mean, yeah, I did do that, but only after he insulted me and you a bunch of times first. It’s not fair, but I guess you did warn me about him. 

I met the Malfoy heir on the train too. He was a bit of a prat, to be honest. He tried to tell me who I could and couldn’t hang out with. Harry actually shut him up really nicely, but then he was also kind of nice to him, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I hope Harry doesn’t actually become friends with a Malfoy just because he’s in Slytherin! 

Oh yeah, Ron’s in Gryffindor too, by the way. He told me to tell you hi from him. 

Anyway, I have an essay from Snape I need to start, so I’m going to stop this here.

I already can’t wait to see you at Christmas!

Write back soon,


James felt himself physically deflate. It was no surprise that Harry held him responsible for his childhood, whatever that may have been. He had feared that reality for ten long years, but to have it confirmed in such blunt terms was another thing altogether. Not for the first time, James wondered if Peter and Albus had been wrong after all. Neither of them was wrong very often. 

After all, one was the greatest wizard alive, and Peter was brilliant in his own way. He made an excellent detective for the DMLE, even if none of the department knew of the advantage that he had with his animagus ability. He had also been a spectacular financial advisor and had even acted as James’s solicitor during the whole spat over the Boy-Who-Lived books a few years back. James could only imagine where he would be without Peter’s guidance over the years, let alone his friendship, especially after that night…

James shook his head to clear those thoughts from his mind. He was years passed the stage of depression now, though thoughts of Lily and the night that he lost her were still more painful than any wound he had ever suffered on the front lines as an Auror. Dumbledore had forever preached the power of love. After losing Lily, James had truly experienced that for the first time.

Now, he reflected on that power, one that was said by the greatest wizard alive to be able to trump all else. Closing his eyes and taking a deep, centreing breath, James summoned a quill to him as well as two pieces of parchment. If he was going to overcome the fear and regret that had haunted him for the better part of a decade, the conjoined powers of desperation and love were a good way of doing it. 

‘You know what they say?’ he thought, reminding himself painfully of Sirius, who had loved setting up punchlines with phrases like that. ‘There’s no time like the present.’

Authors Endnote:

One thing to clear up, since we’ve met James once more and this will come up later in the year.

In canon, James’s parents are Fleamont and Euphemia. I have decided to change it, because his father’s backstory will be elaborated on much later, and I just cannot picture a man named Fleamont in that position. And Dorea… well, I’ve honestly just always enjoyed that trope, so…

Please read and review.

This chapter was revised on September 9th, 2020 with the help of Discord editors Asmodeus Stahl and rawmeat898.

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