Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 5: Forgiveness and Friends
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership nor do I make any profit.
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.
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September 3, 1991
When the bell rang to signify the start of their first Herbology lesson at Hogwarts, Harry and the rest of the first year contingents from Slytherin and Ravenclaw were gathered in front of the greenhouses. It seemed to Harry that the Ravenclaws were a fair bit more punctual than the Gryffindors, at least if this lesson was anything to go by. The Gryffindors hadn’t exactly shown up early to their first Potions lesson the day before.
At precisely 9:10 AM, mere seconds after the bell rang, the greenhouse door opened and out stepped a rather dumpy looking woman with a kind face and flyaway hair that was beginning to go grey. Harry recognized her from the staff table and was pretty sure that she was the Head of House for the Hufflepuffs.
“Good morning ladies and gents,” she greeted them in a rather chipper tone of voice. “Come on in, come on in! Take a seat, take a seat!” The tables all had four stools. By the time everybody had shuffled around, Harry was left sitting with Zabini, Bulstrode and a small, shy, mousy haired girl by the name of Lisa Turpin.
Once they had all taken their seats and the chatter had died down, Professor Sprout began her lecture.
“Welcome everybody to your first Herbology lesson here at Hogwarts. I am Professor Sprout and I shall be your Herbology professor. Though none of you are in my house, I want to tell you all that my door is always open for those who need help. But that’s not what we’re here to discuss!” she said, rubbing her hands together in anticipation. “We are here to introduce you all to the wonders of Herbology. I would go over the structure of the Hogwarts curriculum and the O.W.L and N.E.W.T examinations, but I have a feeling your heads would all rot from boredom if I went into that like I am sure all of your teachers have done thus far?” The class’s mutual sigh of relief was all the answer Professor Sprout needed, and with a knowing smile, she pressed on.
“I’m sure all of your teachers have gone on and on about how important their subjects are, and though I am not about to tell you that Herbology will be the most important thing each and every one of you learn at this school, I think the subject as a whole is looked down on by those who do not understand it. Some of the lessons you participate in within the walls of these greenhouses in future years will be some of the most difficult and dangerous work you will do while at this school. What?” she asked knowingly, as several people smirked exasperatedly. Padma Patil let out a rather loud, rather derisive snort, and Crabbe and Goyle actually snickered. “You don’t believe me, do you? Well then, can anyone here name me a plant that could potentially kill a witch or wizard?”
The class went dead silent.
Harry’s hand rose into the air, as did the Asian girl’s from Ravenclaw — Su Li, as well as Greengrass’s.
“Mister… Potter,” indicated the professor, and though Harry did not falter, he also didn’t fail to notice that the professor’s voice hitched a bit on his name.
“Devil’s Snare,” he answered simply, to which she nodded, prompting him to go on. “It’s a plant with tentacle-like vines that will strangle anything that touches it.”
Patil was not laughing now and all of a sudden, Harry did not see any smiles in the faces dotted around the room.
“Concise and correct, Mister Potter. Five points to Slytherin. Now, can anybody tell me how you would defend yourself against this plant?”
This time, the professor pointed out Greengrass.
“Light or fire,” she answered easily. “Devil’s Snare tends to prefer dark, damp climates and is completely vulnerable to either option. Fire is the best way to actually kill the plant, but intense light will keep it at bay.”
“Perfectly correct. Another five points to Slytherin.” She peered around at the class, allowing a small, knowing smile to creep onto her face at the sight of her class’s sudden change of heart. “I am glad to see that you will not take Herbology lightly. It is a subject that requires an odd mixture of precision, subtlety, and fearlessness, and I am sure it will be physically and mentally stimulating enough for the lot of you.
“Now, in this course…”
And she was off.
No practical work was done that day, as the entirety of their single period lesson was taken up by Professor Sprout’s outline for the course. Harry really hadn’t put as much time into One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi as he had some of his other school material. However, he was reasonably satisfied that he still was already somewhere around the Easter holidays on Sprout’s curriculum. Harry made a mental note to read more of the textbook, since he was quickly becoming more and more aware that this subject could turn out to be useful in Potions as well: a subject he was quite interested in by comparison.
Again, Harry defaulted to his strategy of following other students to their next lesson, as he had not the foggiest idea of where the History of Magic classroom was. To his surprise, the classroom was not too far of a walk once they had re-entered the castle. The bulk of the first year Slytherins even managed to slip into the classroom moments before the bell. To Harry’s far greater surprise and amusement, their teacher, Professor Binns, had not even bothered taking the attendance, nor did he wait for any additional stragglers to make their arrivals. Instead, he simply unrolled a comically long piece of parchment that Harry correctly assumed were his notes before slowly, in the most monotone voice one could possibly imagine, he began to read.
Harry found it was quite ironic that Professor Binns had simply woken up one morning to teach, leaving his body behind him. Though the deceased professor was not physically doing any harm to anyone present, Harry could have easily described the looks on the faces of most of his peers to resemble those appearing on people who were clinically brain dead.
By the time the class had concluded, Harry had to grudgingly concede the point that Weitts had made to him the previous morning in the common room and resigned himself to simply memorising the history textbook.
‘Hell,’ he thought, ‘he doesn’t even take the register. If I memorize the textbook, I just won’t show up at all.’
Harry was still trying to wake up the parts of his brain that had chosen to simply fall asleep when he took his seat at the Slytherin table for lunch. A moment later, Daphne Greengrass had taken the seat across from him, with Tracey Davis slotting into his right.
“That was so boring!” moaned Tracey, piling food onto her plate at a rapid pace. Harry resisted the urge to shoot the petite girl an inquisitive glance as he nodded quietly, a motion that Greengrass mimicked from across the table.
“It was pretty dull,” Greengrass admitted. “I like history, but if I’m being honest, I might just read the textbook and sleep in the lesson.”
“Why even bother showing up in the first place?” asked Harry, to which Tracey just gaped at him and Daphne crooked an eyebrow, looking intrigued. “He didn’t take the register at all and if he were going to make a habit of it, he would have started on the first day.” He shook his head in disgust. “He never even glanced up from his notes. I doubt he would ever even notice.”
“But you can’t just not show up!” protested Tracey.
In response, Harry just stared pointedly back at her. “Why not? Is there even a rule about attendance? If so, I haven’t seen it.”
“Because it’s just-just — wrong!”
Harry shrugged. “It seems that having a teacher who doesn’t even pay attention to his class is more wrong to me, but maybe that’s just my opinion.”
“He does have a point, Tracey,” Greengrass admitted. “It’s surprisingly logical, actually.”
“No need for the tone of surprise.” Harry quipped, which made Tracey giggle and Daphne roll her eyes.
“Judging by your brother’s display in Potions, I think my surprise is justified.”
“I am not my brother,” Harry countered. His voice stayed perfectly calm and polite, but there was a certain note of finality hidden there.
“Clearly,” Greengrass noted with some amusement, “it doesn’t seem like he has a lot of instincts that lead him to act logically.”
“No,” agreed Harry, allowing his intense green eyes to flick over towards the Gryffindor table, where he spotted his brother in conversation with Ron Weasley and a sandy-haired boy whom Harry remembered was named Finnigan. “It really doesn’t, does it?”
“No,” Greengrass repeated, “but I’m sure if anybody can get away with it, it’s probably the Boy-Who-Lived.” Daphne did not miss the way Harry twitched in annoyance at the nickname, but she didn’t think Tracey had noticed and did not comment on the movement herself. “So,” she said, “are you excited for Transfiguration?”
“To be honest, I’m excited for any and every bit of magic,” Harry admitted. Daphne took that statement with a bit of surprise.
“Eager, are we?”
“You could say that, yes,” Harry answered. “But Transfiguration as a concept does sound quite interesting.”
“I’ve heard it’s really hard, at least at firs,” Davis put in, and Daphne nodded, having heard similar accounts from some older students. Harry just shrugged.
“You don’t seem overly concerned,” Daphne observed.
“Magic seems to come quite naturally to me,” he said casually.
“You seem to have a strong grasp on theory, at least,” Greengrass commended, to which Harry just dipped his head in thanks.
“I put a lot of time into studying this summer. I’m just glad to see that the time is paying off so far.”
“What subject are you most interested in?” Greengrass asked.
Harry thought about it for a moment before answering. “Defence Against the Dark Arts seems like the most interesting, but I admit, Charms seems the most useful.”
Davis rolled her eyes. “Of course, the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived would be most interested in defence,” she said exasperatedly.
Harry’s eye twitched. “I can assure you, my interest in Defence Against the Dark Arts has absolutely nothing to do with my brother.”
“You don’t get along with your brother?” Davis asked. Daphne winced at her bluntness, but Harry was not overly bothered.
“I suppose you could say that, in a roundabout way. I don’t really care one way or another.”
“It must get annoying,” probed Daphne, “constantly being compared and linked to him as if you are the same person?”
Harry’s lips twitched. “I couldn’t care less if people are dense enough to think that we’re the same person. When they find out that they were wrong, it will only be to their disadvantage, not mine.” Daphne’s eyes flashed with something that Harry thought may have been approval.
“It must be cool though,” pressed Tracy. “Having Charlus Potter as a brother, I mean?”
“Maybe if things were different,” Harry responded quietly.
Tracey blinked and made to speak up, but Daphne silenced her with a quick glare.
“Speaking of lessons though,” Harry said smoothly, easily diverting the subject to something more comfortable, “do you know where the Transfiguration classroom actually is?”
Greengrass shook her head. “I’m afraid not,” she admitted. “I’ve just been following everybody else.”
Harry’s eyes sparkled with mirth. “Great minds think alike,” he noted, causing Greengrass to look surprised for just a second before rolling her eyes.
“Are you as good at Transfiguration as you are at Defence and Charms?” blurted Tracey, taking Harry by surprise.
He recovered in the blink of an eye. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?”
“Oh, come on!” she persisted. “You must have some idea?”
He just shrugged. “I know the content well, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be good at it, per se.” He decided that leaving out the bit about him practising over the summer and having no troubles with the subject was probably for the best.
Before any of them knew it, they had all entered Professor McGonagall’s classroom, and Harry found himself sitting beside Lillian Moon.
Professor McGonagall entered the room not a moment after the bell had rung, and upon entering, she surveyed them all sternly before taking the attendance and looking out at all of them with a look of utmost seriousness plastered across her face.
“Transfiguration is some of the most complex and potentially dangerous magic you will learn while at Hogwarts. Anyone caught messing about in this lesson shall be asked to leave and will not return. You have been warned.”
‘A bit ominous.’
When no one moved or said anything, Professor McGonagall started the lesson itself.
“In short, transfiguration is not as simple as it may sound. Transfiguration is not simply turning one object into another through the wave of one’s wand. It requires a great deal of mental awareness, concentration and visualization. If you truly want to master the art of transfiguration, I must warn you that it will require a great deal of discipline on your part and will involve quite a lot of self-study.”
Harry was not even remotely deterred. McGonagall, unlike most other teachers, did not seem to be explicitly preaching the importance of her subject. In spite of that fact, the way in which she spoke of it, proposing it as some sort of insurmountable challenge, was intriguing enough in its own right. At the very least, it certainly captivated Harry’s attention.
“Furthermore,” continued the Deputy Headmistress, “turning one thing into another through the use of incantation, blended with mental preparation is only one small section of the overarching art of transfiguration. There are four branches of transfiguration. Each branch contains its own smaller sub-branches. For example, human transfiguration would be considered a sub-branch of transformation. The four major branches of Transfiguration are transformation, untransfiguration, vanishment and conjuration. As you may be able to imagine, transformation is the branch which is concerned with transfiguring an object into something different. The opposing branch, untransfiguration, involves recognizing if an object is transfigured and reverting it back to its original state.
“The other two branches also juxtapose one another. That is to say, they are opposites. Conjuration is the word that describes the magic involved in creating something that was not there before. For example,” she waved her wand, causing a flock of birds to rush from the end of it in a similar manner to the way Weitts had done the previous night in the common room. “That was a conjuration. In fact, it is usually the first one you will learn. Vanishment,” she continued. “Is the name for the magic required in making something vanish, as the name suggests.” She gave a long sweep of her wand and the birds disappeared. “Are there any questions?”
Harry’s hand was indicated by Professor McGonagall a moment later. “You mentioned sub-branches, Professor. I didn’t notice anything about those in the first year portion of our textbook, so I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about them?”
Harry saw, for the briefest of moments, Professor McGonagall’s eyes widen in what must have been surprise. She allowed a rare if admittedly small smile to tug at the corner of her lips.
“Certainly. It is not something we will delve into for several years, but yes, I can give you a background. A sub-branch of transfiguration, as the name suggests, is a branch within a branch, for lack of a better phrase. It is a part of transfiguration that fits under one of the four main branches but still carries significance. For example, human transfiguration, that is to say, transforming at least one part of the human body using magic, would be a sub-branch of transformation as I have said already. There are deeper concepts as well; nano-branches and femto-branches for example. I shall not go into detail on these now, as they are rather more advanced than your current level, but you may look into them privately if you would like…”
The lecture continued for some time. Had the class not been a double period, McGonagall’s speech would have taken up the entirety of the class. Lucky as they were, they had a double lesson today and finally, Professor McGonagall set them the first task of their Hogwarts career within her subject.
She withdrew a wooden box from her desk and opened the lid, revealing an absurd number of matchsticks. “Your task,” she informed them, “is to transfigure these matchsticks into needles. Now, I do not want anybody to become discouraged if this feat does not happen within the lesson. I have only ever taught two students who achieved the task on their first day, and even then, they managed to perform it only moments before the final bell.
“The incantation,” she waved her wand, causing the incantation to appear on the blackboard at the front of the room, broken down into syllables, “is on the board, and there is a diagram of the correct wand movement on page 11 in your textbooks.”
The sound of rustling paper filled the room as everybody scrambled to turn to the correct page in their books before making their way up to the front.
“I’ll get you a matchstick while I’m up there,” Harry told Moon, standing at once, since he knew there was no need for him to look at the book.
“You don’t have to,” the girl said quickly, blushing.
Harry shrugged. “It’s no trouble; I’m going up either way. I’ll be back.”
True to his word, Harry came back to the desk with a handful of matchsticks. He deposited one in front of Moon before dropping a pile in front of himself, something that made Moon just look at him skeptically before muttering “thank you” under her breath.
“It was my pleasure,” Harry said, not even realising he had pulled out his typical charming smile that had been used primarily to disarm his teachers in muggle primary school. Lillian blushed once more, diverting her gaze down to the diagram in her textbook.
“You can use mine if you’d like,” she offered, indicating her already open textbook, as Harry had not bothered turning to the correct page of his own.
He had debated struggling with the transfiguration on purpose in order to not stand out, but he had decided against such action. After all, he wanted the highest marks he could get, and to outdo his brother, and even his father, who was apparently an ace at transfiguration if the school records had anything to say on the matter. If he wanted to accomplish all of those things, the latter two, in particular, he would have to sacrifice his anonymity.
“Thanks, but there’s no need.” He slid his wand from his holster, drawing the tight, circular motion perfectly with his wand before ending with a jab towards the matchstick, picturing every square of the matchstick changing as if he were watching a movie. Though the textbook said to picture the finished product, Harry had found that this method worked far better. He supposed the book recommended the former due to the fact that it was probably easier for your average wizard to imagine. After all, most of them didn’t have muggle films as a point of reference.
Beside him, Lillian Moon stopped her own wand movement to allow her mouth to fall open and her eyes to widen comically. Harry’s matchstick had morphed into a perfect needle in front of her very eyes. Harry heard a sharp intake of breath from nearby and in moments, Professor McGonagall was on top of them, and the class at large had gone completely quiet.
“By the heavens,” murmured Professor McGonagall. She snatched Harry’s needle off of the desk and holding it up to her face to inspect it, even tilting it so the light reflected off of the needle. “it’s… perfect.” She turned to Harry; a suitably gobsmacked expression imprinted upon her usually impassive visage. “That was your first attempt, Master Potter?”
“Yes ma’am,” Harry answered automatically, the smooth and polite confirmation sliding effortlessly off of his tongue.
The professor placed a hand over her heart. “Dear me, I have never… not in all of my years… why, I’m not certain it has ever…” She shook her head, seeming to shake the cobwebs out of her brain before turning back to Harry. “Take a very well earned twenty points to Slytherin, Master Potter.” She eyed the pile of matchsticks still in front of him. “You were confident you would not have issues?” she asked, sounding even more surprised.
He just continued to smile disarmingly back up at her. “Magic has always come quite naturally to me, Professor,” he said for the second time that day. “I thought it best to be prepared, just in case.”
“Well,” said McGonagall, now seeming completely at a loss, “I suppose I shall have to make things more interesting for you, won’t I?”
For the rest of the class, Harry found himself assigned extra tasks from Professor McGonagall. Turning the matchstick different colours. Making it pointier. Making it less pointy. Adding dents. Making it shiny. He had found adding snake markings rather challenging, but by the end of the lesson, he had even managed that, something which earned him an additional ten points for Slytherin, which left him feeling an odd, warm feeling in his stomach that was almost completely foreign to him. He thought that it may have been pride.
He’d even had time to help out Lillian Moon beside him. She had not come all that close to completing the transformation, not even with his tutelage, but she had gone from nothing to a sharper, silver-hued matchstick, so he thought he was clearly doing something right.
When they all left the classroom, they left a thoroughly bamboozled Minerva McGonagall behind them.
‘And to think I was impressed with my lions,’ McGonagall had thought
Hermione Granger had nearly managed the full transformation on that first day. Charlus Potter had actually managed an extremely rudimentary variant of the transfiguration right at the end of the period, exactly matching his father’s feat from twenty years ago.
Not even James, the most talented student whom she had ever taught beyond a shadow of a doubt had even remotely compared to the prodigious skill of the forgotten Potter.
September 5, 1991
The Great Hall
Harry strolled into the Great Hall a bit later than the rest on his fourth day at Hogwarts. He had decided that since he was an early riser, he may as well take advantage of that fact to go off and read in the library. He had also managed to do his essay for McGonagall during that time, and he thought that would likely be a good system in terms of completing his prep.
To his surprise, Greengrass and Davis seemed to have left a seat open. It was beside the latter and across from the former. Harry slid easily into the seat and slid his bag underneath the table, reaching for some fruit as he did so.
“Not an early riser?” asked Greengrass, prompting Harry to smile knowingly back at her.
“Quite the early riser, actually. I’ve just been in the library.”
From beside him, Tracey stifled a massive yawn behind her hand. “Sp-sp-speak for yourself!” she finally managed, a statement that made Daphne crack a small smile and Harry to shake his head in bemusement.
There was just something about Tracey. She was the opposite of a prototypical Slytherin in many ways. She wore her emotions on her sleeve and was just a genuinely upbeat and bubbly person. Just the way she recklessly dove headfirst into each and every conversation ingratiated her to Harry, in an odd type of way. It was oddly endearing. True, it could very well end up being the girl’s undoing within Slytherin House. Well, that and the fact that Harry was beginning to suspect that, in spite of what she said, Tracey Davis was no pureblood. Even in saying that, Harry thought he liked Tracey, if for no other reason than that she was an unorthodox and… entertaining conversationalist.
As he pondered this, the hundreds of owls suddenly rushed into the Great Hall. Harry, who had no reason to believe he would be receiving any type of post all year was caught completely unaware when a young, pristine-looking eagle owl swooped down in front of him and stuck out its leg. It did so only after allowing his twin, Charlus, to alleviate it of another letter moments earlier, but that fact only added to Harry’s mounting surprise.
He had to try very hard not to allow his breath to hitch in his throat as the dots all came together.
‘It’s from father.’
“Who is that from?” Tracey asked as Harry reached out and took the letter with hands that he just barely managed to stop from shaking.
He did not answer, taking his time to centre himself as he broke the wax on the immaculate looking letter before, with a cold stab of bitterness in his chest, he read the words written upon the piece of parchment.
I had hoped that you would owl me over the summer, but I completely get why you wouldn’t want to.
This is probably going to sound like the worst excuse of an apology you have ever heard in your life. Merlin knows how terrible at these your mother said I was, but I honestly am so sorry for anything and everything that happened over the last ten years. I knew Petunia was not the brightest ray of sunshine that had ever graced the world with its presence, but I never thought her, and her husband would mistreat you. You were family; I thought that would be enough. If I had a brother — hell, even if Sirius would have had a kid, I would NEVER mistreat them!
I do not know exactly what Petunia and her husband did, but if what Charlus tells me about your first conversation is true, then I think I may have made a bigger mistake than I realized.
There is so much I need to tell you, to make you understand, but I can’t do much of it with an ancient quill and a boring old piece of parchment. I was never one for words anyway, unless they were to make someone laugh, but Merlin knows I am even more useless with a quill and parchment.
I want to arrange a meeting; just the two of us, to sort things out. I know I might have ruined my chances with you, but I at least want to try and make things right.
If it’s fine with you and you agree to meet me, I’ll owl Professor Dumbledore and have you excused from the castle to meet with me in Hogsmeade. You’re not technically old enough, but it won’t matter. It’s a rare privilege granted to the children of Wizengamot families… Oh, Merlin, I really hope you read about the Wizengamot, or this is going to be an absolute nightmare to explain!
Anyway, please owl me as soon as you can with your response. I’ll understand if you do not want to meet with me, but I really would appreciate a chance to explain everything.
Write back soon either way… please.
Harry took a long time simply reading over the last two words that had been written on the pristine piece of parchment in his hands. “Your Father” were two words that were so foreign to him that they may as well have been written in a different language altogether. It seemed almost… wrong for him to be seeing them at all, but yet, he was.
There was a very large, very savage part of him that wanted to throw this letter back in James Potter’s face. To respond with how awful a parent and a person he was and say he never wanted to talk to him again.
There was, however, a more logical side of Harry that realized that, at the very least, a relationship with his father, whether natural or artificial, would likely be one of benefit. As Lord of House Potter, James still wielded more control over Harry than he was comfortable with, and by cultivating his and his father’s relationship, Harry could potentially bypass the risk of James exercising that control in ways that Harry would much rather he did not. On top of that, Harry knew there were other, more political reasons to at least try and reacquaint with his father.
There was also a small but still very much present part of Harry that had spent the last ten years dreaming of a father. No matter what he thought of the man himself, Harry came to a sudden, shocking conclusion, one that was driven by more empathy and probably naivety than he had thought he could possess.
‘I can’t turn him down.’
He hated himself for his weakness but despite all of his bitterness and resentment, Harry was, in spite of everything that set him apart, an eleven-year-old boy who had dreamed of having a father for all of his life. Now, when presented with the chance to meet the man, there was still a small, undeniable part of him that wanted to do all it could to make amends.
That was not to say by any means that Harry would be bending over backwards to meet the whims of his Father. It just meant that no matter how neutrally he would try to approach the meeting, he would at the very least grant the man a second chance.
September 6, 1991
The Potions Classroom
This time, Harry noticed that his brother and Weasley did not show up late to the lesson, though he also noticed that the two of them looked a lot more nervous to be in the classroom in the first place.
Snape, like the previous day, took the register. This time, the only insinuation of incompetence that was thrown out was towards his brother. As soon as the register had been taken, he rounded upon Charlus without pause.
“Incompetent Potter,” he snapped, making Charlus flush red immediately, “what is a common use for the plant that is also known by the titles of Monkshood and Wolfsbane?”
It took a great deal of effort for Harry not to crack up as his brother fumbled for an answer that he himself had explicitly given to the class just days earlier. After a few moments of this, Snape put him out of his misery. Depending on one’s definition of misery, Harry supposed.
“Pathetic, Potter!” he hissed. “You made it blatantly evident to us all last lesson that reading was not one of your areas of specialty, numerous and fantastical as I am sure that they are.” His lip curled disdainfully and much of the Slytherin side of the room found themselves suppressing their enjoyment of the situation. Only Harry himself, as well as Zabini, Greengrass and Davis, managed to not crack up, though Tracey was a near miss.
“Mere days later,” Snape continued, his voice rising in volume to cut across their reactions, “the Boy-Who-Does-Not-Read has also shown us, it seems, his ineptitude with a quill and parchment.” There were more snickers as Charlus grew more and more indignant by the second.
“I can write perfectly fine, thank you very much!” the boy said aloud, at which point Harry internally cringed for him.
As Harry internally wondered when his brother would learn to just shut up, he mentally noted, with a smile playing on his lips, that Charlus had said nothing to disprove Snape’s claim that reading was beyond him.
“Can you?” asked Snape, miming surprise. “Why Potter, I must offer my most sincere apology. I had thought, which was most foolish of me, that from your incomprehensible lack of note-taking in spite of my more than clear instructions that you were simply illiterate.” His lip curled once more as the class’s mirth, at least on the Slytherin side of the room became louder by the second. “It appears, something I misinterpreted due to my own poor judgement, of course, that you are merely incomprehensibly incompetent, and incapable of following instructions; not illiterate as I had feared.”
At this, Parkinson could not restrain herself anymore and burst into a fit of giggles, which prompted Malfoy and Nott to add their own gales of laughter to what was quickly becoming a symphony, added to by Crabbe and Goyle the next second.
Charlus looked as if he would explode, but before he could, Snape cut in once more.
“Your task,” he said without preamble, “is to prepare a passable vial of Cura de Gorxa, due on my desk by the end of today’s lesson. You may work in partners and choose whom you would like. Be aware that any ineptitude on the part of your partner will be representative of your failure to prevent said ineptitude from taking place.” He scowled out at all of them when no one moved before he barked, “Begin!”
Everybody made to scramble and Harry, who had thought working with Zabini had gone pretty well last time, made to turn to his fellow first year once more. Before he coul, he was distracted when he felt a soft touch on his shoulder, which made him tense for a moment before turning to face the sapphire eyed girl who seemed to be the resident potions prodigy.
“I was wondering if you’d like to work together?” she asked Harry, seeming to take a fair bit of pleasure in his brief look of surprise. “You seemed interested in how I managed my potion last time,” she added innocently. Harry could see that whatever her motive if any at all, it was certainly premeditated. Davis was already partnered up with Lillian Moon.
Harry was a lot of things, but stupid enough to look a gift horse in the mouth was not one of them.
He smiled at the Greengrass heiress. Zabini, seeing that he had just lost his first choice of partner, got graciously to his feet and left the table, allowing Daphne to join Harry.
“I hope you have no objections to constructive criticism?” Daphne asked, and Harry would have gawked at her confidence that bordered on arrogance if she had not displayed her prowess already.
Instead of gawking, he just smiled back at her. “None at all.”
“Good,” she responded, becoming at once more business-like. “First question, do you know what Cura de Gorxa actually is?”
“It’s a simple potion that’s used to relieve pain in the throat.”
Daphne nodded approvingly. “Correct. For future reference, it’s also called Strepsirum in more casual circles.”
Harry hadn’t known that, but he supposed it would make sense to not call it by its Galician name at all times.
“Next question,” Daphne asked, and Harry became aware that they were falling behind many of the others, who were already scrambling for ingredients, “you do understand the importance of proper ingredients and the easy, typical signs to tell the difference between good and bad ingredients, correct?”
“Yes,” Harry told her, launching into a rushed explanation that she accepted.
“That will do for now,” she told him, before reaching into her school bag, which Harry realized a second later was clearly enhanced after she pulled out a rather massive kit of ingredients. “As you can see, we don’t need to bother with the school’s ingredients, which in and of itself is an advantage since most of those are probably cross-contaminated anyway. Now,” she said, “if you set up the cauldron, I’ll prepare the ingredients.”
“That sounds perfectly acceptable.” Harry quoted Zabini from the last lesson, noticing to his slight amusement how the roles had reversed with his switch of partners.
Quickly, Harry realized exactly how Daphne had finished so early last lesson. Beyond that, he quickly deduced that she was actually more prodigious in the field than he had even suspected. He had thought at the time that she was probably quite a bit better than him when, in reality, they weren’t even in the same league.
At one point, to his horror, Greengrass added the next two ingredients both at once when, according to the instructions, you were to add the first, perform the next instruction, and only then add the second.
“Greengrass, what the-“
“Shh,” she told him, pressing a finger to her lips before looking as if nothing had happened at all. “Now,” she asked him, “what’s next?”
“Stir seven times clockwise, pause for ten seconds, and repeat the process six times,” he answered without even bothering to read the board and ignored the rather obvious mistake she had seemingly made.
“Wrong,” she said cheerfully.
Harry gaped at her. “Uh… Greengrass… the instructions-“
“Are not the only, or even the best way of brewing a potion in almost any scenario,” she dismissed.
“Why give them at all? Because Snape, no matter what he wishes, has to follow a Ministry approved curriculum. The recipes and instructions he gives us are the Ministry approved versions.” When she saw Harry would cut in, she pressed a finger to her lips again to signify he should stay quiet. “They’re taught to us because they are the least risky, least difficult and most conservative ways to brew potions.” At his aghast stare, her lips twitched. “As you’re about to find out, they’re usually not the fastest or most efficient way of doing it. They’re just used to make sure idiots don’t screw it up.”
“And this isn’t taught to us because…”
Greengrass glanced around the room and saw that Snape was coming ever closer. “That is another conversation for another time,” she told him, taking on her lecturing tone once more. “Stir five times clockwise, once anti-clockwise, then pause for five seconds and repeat five times.”
S,eptically, Harry did as he was told as Greengrass prepared the next ingredient beside him. To his shock, the potion not only turned the colour it was supposed to before adding the ingredient that Greengrass had added early, which was a bright purple, but it also skipped the next step entirely, turning dark green.
That shut Harry up.
Shocked, he looked at his partner with wide eyes and she actually had to stifle giggles. “Do you trust me now?” she asked, to which Harry just nodded dumbly in return.
For the rest of the lesson, Harry followed Greengrass’s instructions, watching in transfixed amazement as their potion progressively moved through its stages at a rapidly accelerated rate. To her credit, she was a good teacher. She actually took the time to explain each step to Harry; not just how to do it, but why it would work as opposed to the original instructions. As it turned out, their potion was completed a solid thirty minutes before the rest. They finished so far ahead of the rest of the class that Snape had politely told them both to just get up and leave.
As they exited the class and made to go in opposite directions, Greengrass for the common room and Harry for the library, he called out to her at the last second.
She turned, arching a perfect eyebrow in question. “Thank you for your help and patience,” he told her sincerely.
She smiled. “My pleasure,” she responded, before giving him an odd look. “Maybe we could work together more often? You seem really good in other subjects and you actually do seem quite competent in Potions. Maybe you could help me and possibly Tracey with some other subjects and I could help you with Potions?”
Harry thought about it for just a moment before he nodded. The allure of knowledge was just too strong. “I think that could do us both some good,” he said, dipping his head to her and moving to turn around.
He froze in mid-turn, whirling back around to face her. “Yes?”
“If we’re going to be working together more often, I think you should call me Daphne.”
Harry could not help but smile, his chest filling with an odd, warm feeling that he found to be completely unfamiliar to him. As he formed his response, he failed to name the feeling, though he thought it may have had something to do with what felt like the formation of his first real friendship.
“I think I would like that, Daphne, and you are more than welcome to call me Harry.”
September 6, 1991
The Headmaster’s Office
Charlus found himself in awe of the ornate trinkets that were scattered all across Professor Dumbledore’s office. He wondered, absentmindedly, how many of them the man had created himself and how many he had acquired on his countless travels.
“I see my collection has caught your eye,” Dumbledore said proudly, that all too familiar twinkle in the old man’s eyes. For some, that twinkle had always been off-putting, but for Charlus, who had seen the headmaster off and on for as long as he could remember, it was oddly comforting.
“Yes, sir,” Charlus said eagerly, finally pulling his attention off of the trinkets and onto the man himself. Dumbledore was wearing magenta robes and had his fingers laced in front of him as he peered up at Charlus. “Sorry,” Charlus added sheepishly, “I didn’t mean to distract you or anything… it was just-“
Dumbledore waved his hand dismissively. “Sorry for distracting me? Merlin’s beard, Charlus, fate knows that if there is any dweller of this realm that needs such idle distraction, it is I. No, you have nothing to apologise for. Please, take a seat.” Charlus did so instantly, gazing attentively across the desk at his headmaster. “How has your first week of official magical education treated you?” Dumbledore asked, fixing the entirety of his attention upon Charlus. “I know you have been eager for it to begin for many years.”
Charlus beamed. “It’s been great, sir,” he answered. “Professor McGonagall seemed really pleased with me in Transfiguration, and Defence Against the Dark Arts was brilliant!”
“Was it now? If you can forgive an old man’s short attention span for a moment, what about your lessons in Defence Against the Dark Arts ingratiated the subject to you as a whole?”
“Well,” Charlus began, “Professor Hurst is brilliant, for one thing! She’s a bit… I don’t know — not creepy or anything, but just the way she talks… it’s…” he trailed off.
“Passionate?” Dumbledore offered gently. “Enraptured? Perhaps even ominous?”
“Yeah, all of those, actually. But it’s not just her,” he put in. “We spent the week learning the Aegis Vocar shield charm. She said it was the most basic, but I thought it was brilliant! A lot of the class had a hard time, but I managed to do it today pretty much perfectly during our second lesson! — Aegis Vocar!” Charlus intoned as the shield popped up around him.
“A commendable accomplishment,” Dumbledore praised with a smile. If Charlus had been more perceptive — way more perceptive, he may have noticed the briefest flash of surprise in Dumbledore’s eyes when he spoke of learning the Aegis Vocar shield charm. “Well,” he continued, his smile still firmly in place, “if nothing else, it has certainly been a busy first week you have had. Two detentions already? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I may think that you were gearing up for an attempt at your father’s record! As a matter of fact, if Professor Snape had gotten his way when he came to me last Monday, you may well have given it a run for its money.”
Charlus blushed and recoiled a bit at the reminder, but the headmaster’s eyes were still twinkling as merrily as when he had first walked in. “Snape did come to you, then?”
“Professor Snape, Charlus,” Dumbledore corrected gently. “And yes, he did indeed. He seemed to be under the distinct impression that you managed to vanish into thin air and was not at all convinced when I proposed the altogether more likely theory that you merely slipped out the classroom door.” His eyes were twinkling now even more than before. Charlus knew, in that moment, that Professor Dumbledore was aware of his cloak and that he was choosing, at least for now, to turn a blind eye. “I would ask, however, that in the future, you do not actively antagonize Professor Snape, whether it be in or out of his classroom.” His voice was not stern per se, but it definitely held a certain amount of authority to it that cowed Charlus without much issue.
“I won’t if he doesn’t do it first,” Charlus muttered.
Dumbledore sighed. “Ah, bitterness is such a terrible curse. I believe that you must forgive Professor Snape for any rudeness that comes as a result of such an affliction. Assuming, of course, it remains at a level that is within reason.”
Charlus scowled. He was furious that Dumbledore did not even deny the fact that Snape would be a git to him and was going to do nothing about it. He supposed it was fair if he wasn’t letting Snape punish him too unjustly for it and was letting him get away with having the cloak, but it still annoyed him to no end. “I don’t understand what you see in him,” Charlus said through gritted teeth.
Dumbledore’s pleasant smile did not waver. “Nor has your father ever understood,” he said calmly. “I trust Professor Snape as much as I trust anybody on this planet. My reasons for such trust are between he and I.”
Charlus did not dare push the matter any further.
“You should try and avoid preconceived assumptions, Charlus,” Dumbledore warned him. “They are hardly ever productive and can, in fact, often lead to the complete opposite of productivity.”
“You’re talking about Harry, aren’t you?”
“In a sense, I suppose I am. I am merely pointing out that it is foolish to shift your perception of a person so drastically because the colour of their tie is not the one you had expected.”
“He was meant to be a Gryffindor,” Charlus said in barely more than a whisper. His displeasure at the reality of the situation was marred across his face. “We were supposed to be brothers-“
“And why does Harry being a Slytherin at all stop you from being brothers?”
Charlus paused. “He… he insulted dad, and me, kind of.”
Dumbledore chuckled. “Insults are such a petty thing to hold a grudge over, Charlus, especially among family. Why, my brother once accused me of indirect murder. He even broke my nose over the grave of the alleged victim. Today, he still often hurls insults my way, but alas, we are closer now than we have been in nearly a century! For decades, he would not speak with me at all.”
Charlus frowned, trying and failing to wrap his head around what his headmaster had just said. “That… doesn’t exactly sound like the most functional family, sir.”
“Functional? Certainly not! But it is a family nonetheless.” Dumbledore peered over his half-moon spectacles at Charlus. “I merely brought up the fact, Charlus, to showcase that the bond of brotherhood is capable of withstanding much more than petty insults hurled back and forth at the age of eleven. I shall, in fact, tell you the same thing I told your father on that tragic night nearly ten years ago now… Though thankfully, I shall do so under less tragic circumstances.
“There is little in this world more powerful than love and sacrifice. They are two of the most powerful forms of magic we have or will ever know. The love between two brothers cannot be ignored, and it seems, if what your father has told me via owl is true, that Harry may have sacrificed much in the past ten years for you, my boy, and for the greater good as a whole. Granted, he may not have done so knowingly, but in this case, as opposed to most others, the intent is not nearly as important as the action itself.”
“So, you’re saying I should forgive him?”
“Why, Charlus, of course I am! On one hand, I fail to see what there is to forgive. On another, my detractors have said for years that I am all too willing to hand out second chances.” He smiled conspiratorially at his younger companion. “Between the two of us, for all the holes in my detractors’ many arguments, though some are of course true, they at least do an absolutely splendid job of deducing that habit of mine!”
A brief note on the pacing of this story. Yes, it is paced quite slowly. That is deliberate on my part. Year one goes much faster after Halloween, but the pieces have to be arranged before they can begin to fall. With that being said, I did warn you already that this fic would easily eclipse one million words. If that is not to your tastes, that is perfectly fine, but please do not leave reviews saying you wish it were moving faster. The pacing is very deliberate on my part.
One more note as well on how teachers address male students. It is a rather old fashion custom to address males under the age of eighteen as master. As such, I will be using Flitwick as my cut off point. Any professor younger than Flitwick will almost always address them as Mister, whereas any professor older will frequent the word Master. You may have noticed already that Hurst is an exception to this rule. That is not an accident, and I shall leave it at that.
Please read and review.
This chapter was revised on September 12th, 2020 with the help of Discord editors Asmodeus Stahl, rawmeat898 and TauNeutrino.
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