Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 8: Skirmishes, Secrets, & Schemes Part II
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership nor do I make any profit.
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 13th, 1991
“So,” said Peter as he and James sipped their morning teas, sitting on the balcony that overlooked the long, sweeping fields at the back of the manor, “I assume they’ve been running you into the ground since the break-in too? Judging by the fact we’ve barely spoken in the last month and a half.”
“Yup,” said James through a sigh as he leant back, stretching his arms luxuriously and looking completely at ease. At that moment, Peter was reminded almost painfully of days spent out at the lake with James, Remus and Sirius at Hogwarts.
‘Simpler days,’ he thought, fighting down the impulse to allow a rather sad variant of a smile from creeping onto his face.
“It seems like it’s quieting down on my end,” Peter informed James, more than a little bit thankful for the fact.
James nodded. “Not quite for me yet, but I think it’s heading in that direction. If it were anyone other than Moody running the Aurors, we’d have given up two weeks ago.”
“I see we’re of one mind then.”
“Depends,” James drawled with a roll of his eyes, “if your mind is screaming that this is all useless and that if we would have found whoever broke in, we’d have done it weeks ago, then yup, sounds like it.”
Peter smirked. “How long do you think old Mad-Eye will hang onto that job anyway?”
“Hard to say, really. He could retire any time he wanted at this point. He’s made more than enough galleons to set him up for his life between his salary, his pension, and his bonuses from the war.” James shook his head. “Merlin only knows when he’ll finally call it quits. The old dog is a nutter. Brilliant, mind you, but completely off his rocker.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I were you,” Peter chided James lightly. “Whatever you say about Moody, he’s a true Slytherin.” Peter’s lips twitched. “Well, actually, he’s the most exaggerated version of a Slytherin you can find in terms of paranoia, but you get my point.”
“You think it’s an act?” James asked, having never considered the fact.
“Oh no, definitely not an act, but probably exaggerated a bit. I have no doubt he really is more paranoid than any other wizard alive; he would have to be to put some of those Death Eaters in Azkaban. All I’m saying is that if everybody thinks old Moody is out to lunch, it’ll only make things easier for him if anyone gives him trouble.” he shrugged. “Just food for thought.”
In most cases, James would have said that such a thing, putting on an act of madness to take your opponents off guard, seemed way too paranoid and over the top. But when he really thought about it, that actually sounded exactly like the kind of thing Mad-Eye would come up with.
As James was thinking this, he spotted the family’s eagle owl, Hermes, flying towards them on the open balcony. James moved his cup of tea to the side, allowing the owl room to land and stick out his leg. James waved his wand, causing a few owl treats to appear before smoothly taking the letter from its leg and making to read it. At that moment, James Potter was immensely relieved that he did not have any scolding liquids in his mouth as his eyes widened and his jaw fell open.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” James muttered, pressing his hands to his temples in a show of great annoyance and frustration.
“What is it?” Peter asked cautiously, knowing that such a reaction from James could have realistically been elicited by any number of things.
“Charlus,” James sighed, suddenly looking about ten years older than he really was. “I figured the tike would get himself into a fair bit of trouble, but seriously, his dumb luck and mischievous streak have already topped everything we did at Hogwarts in terms of danger.” Upon seeing Peter’s sceptical look, James smiled abashedly despite himself, lost in nostalgia. “Ok, ok, maybe except anything involving Snivelus, I guess.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad?” Peter asked a bit nervously. James just scowled, handing over the letter and allowing Peter to read it quickly before his jaw too nearly fell open. “A Cerberus? How on earth did that boy end up in a room with that beast? A better question, what the hell is a Cerberus doing at Hogwarts in the first place?” James winced. “Classified information?” asked Peter, assuming James was under oath.
“Not exactly,” James admitted. “It’s not Ministry business, at least not technically, but I can’t tell you any more than that.”
So, he was under an oath. James had never really kept anything from Peter before, so he had no reason to believe that he would do so now.
“Noted,” Peter said neutrally, mentally connecting the dots in his mind. Whatever had been the desired prize of the would-be Gringotts robbers had been in James’s family vault at the time, though of course, that information had not, and would not be made public. If James knew about something valuable hidden at Hogwarts, something that was not strictly ministry business…
September 13th, 1991
The Hospital Wing
Draco’s livid and border-line murderous mood had been mildly improved when the school’s matron had mercifully allowed him an escape from the hospital wing. That mood, however, remained improved for all of five seconds before, upon his exit, he saw the cloaked form of his Head of House waiting for him.
“Professor?” Draco asked with a lot less politeness than he would have twenty-four hours earlier. In his mind, the fact that Snape had blabbed about his involvement in the trophy room to the Headmaster, or at least, the man himself had said he would be doing so, was akin to high treason in Draco’s moral code.
“Mind your tone, Draco,” Snape said in a low, dangerous voice. If it had been anybody but a Slytherin, and a prominent one at that, Snape likely would have put them through the metaphorical ringer for such a disrespectful tone. Draco got off lightly, though Snape’s voice spoke a warning obvious enough for even the most bold-headed of Gryffindors to pick up on.
That was your one warning.
“Come,” said Snape, whirling on the spot and sweeping away from Draco, leaving him to follow moodily after the Potions Master.
“Where are you taking me?” he demanded in a slightly more polite, though obviously still annoyed tone, “Sir,” he added hastily.
“The Headmaster has interrogated Weasley and wishes to speak to you,” Snape answered shortly. “I take it that I do not need to explain to you the level of foolishness you have displayed in finding yourself in this position?”
“It wasn’t my fault! It’s all Potter’s fault!”
Snape’s lip curled. “I think you will have a hard time convincing the Headmaster of that fact.”
“But you believe me, professor?”
“My belief is not important nor relevant to the situation at hand. Listen to me, Draco. I do not think you understand the severity of what has happened! The Headmaster very rarely hosts personal audiences. Even less so in the case of those regarding disciplinary action.”
His grey eyes widened in sudden terror. “He-he can’t expel me, can he?”
Snape did not answer at once, choosing instead to silently ponder for a few long moments. “I suspect that will depend on events that I have not been made privy to,” he answered carefully. “You have broken a number of school rules and were caught irrevocably red-handed. The Headmaster is usually rather lenient, but if he has pieced together as much as I suspect,” Snape paused, seeming to be deciding on how best to say something, “I dare say that Ronald Weasley’s part in the night’s events will be… negligible.”
Before Draco could entirely piece together what that meant, Professor Snape stopped in front of a rather handsome, rather old looking gargoyle statue: its majesty was promptly ruined to Draco when his head of house drawled in a rather exasperated sounding voice. “Lemon sherbert.”
Malfoy quickly made his way up the moving, spiral staircase after his Head of House. Before Snape could so much as knock, Draco heard a soft, calm voice call them inside from behind the door. Snape, with the briefest, closest to imperceptible sneer one would imagine, pushed the door open.
Draco had been nervous before now, a feeling that had only been exacerbated when his Head of House had spoken, implicitly, granted, about expulsion. But now, when he saw that the room was not occupied by only the Headmaster, fear swelled drastically within him. This was because his eyes widened upon a man whom he feared more than he did Albus Dumbledore.
At the same moment, in the Transfiguration classroom
Ron sidled into their first period Transfiguration with less than forty minutes remaining in the lesson itself. When he moved towards the desk where Charlus was seated, he noticed the other boy’s deep, hazel eyes focus upon him intently.
“How’d it go?” Charlus asked immediately, prompting Ron to sigh in resignation.
“A week of detention with Filch and thirty points,” he grumbled.
Charlus winced. “That’s harsh.”
Ron shrugged. “Could’ve been worse.” He smiled rather viciously in a way that was very out of character for him. “Malfoy might not have it as easy.”
Charlus smiled briefly but immediately became more serious. “What about Harry?”
Ron rolled his eyes, doing his best to hide his annoyance with his best friend. “No, I didn’t tell Dumbledore that he was with Malfoy. Why you care what happens to the git, I don’t know. He picked Malfoy over you, for Merlin’s sake!”
Charlus did not speak for several seconds. “I told you why last night.” He settled on. “And… I don’t know… I think there was more going on with him and Malfoy than we realized, to be honest.”
The night previous, in the Hospital Wing
Ron had been jump-scared rather badly when he was forcibly shaken awake in the middle of the night by his best mate. If that had not been enough, he learned that, not only did said best mate know an uber-powerful privacy spell, but he had an invisibility cloak — a real invisibility cloak. He hadn’t expected his shock at such a revelation to be rivalled for some time, but he was proven wrong just minutes later when Charlus made his true intent for sneaking into the hospital wing known.
“Listen, Ron. If you get interrogated tomorrow, whether it’s Snape, or McGonagall, or even Dumbledore, I need you to promise me something, ok?”
Ron frowned. “You don’t need to worry.” he dismissed. “I’m obviously not gonna rat you out.”
“I wasn’t talking about that, Ron, but yeah, thanks.”
Ron blinked. “What then?”
Charlus leaned forward. “I wasn’t the only one to get away with it, you know. I need you to promise not to tell anyone that Harry was there.”
Ron’s jaw fell agape. “No way am I helping that git!”
“Ron,” Charlus said tiredly, “he’s my Brother. You should know what that feels like.”
Ron scowled. “Yeah, but my brothers wouldn’t have backed up Malfoy against me.”
Charlus paused, seeming to ponder something before slowly, hesitantly, he spoke. “I don’t think he really backed Malfoy.” Ron looked aghast, but Charlus continued. “No, seriously, think about it! He told us that we got to pick the time and place. If he hadn’t, Malfoy could have led us into a trap or something. He could have easily hexed me from behind when we were duelling, but he didn’t.”
Ron sat silent for several minutes before speaking again. “Even if that’s true, which I don’t think it is, why do you care? He was there; he should get in trouble!”
Charlus sighed. “I know,” he admitted. “But… well… it’s complicated. But I just want us to be a family. Come on, mate, surely you can at least understand that?”
Privately, Charlus thought that if his father knew that Harry had seconded Malfoy in their duel, that rift would be torn forever, but he did not tell Ron this. He didn’t lie though; he really did just want a family.
Ron sighed in annoyance but looked pointedly back at Charlus. “Fine,” he conceded, “fine, okay, I’ll keep Harry’s name out of it. But you owe me for this one.”
In the present, back in the Headmaster’s office
“Draco,” Lucius returned in a voice that carried no trace of emotion. It was nearly impossible for Draco to read his father’s mood at the best of times, but at present, it was completely out of the question.
“Good morning, Master Malfoy,” said the other man in the room. Without even looking over, Draco recognized the man’s voice as the same that had admitted him and his Head of House. Draco nodded to Dumbledore in acknowledgement as the man peered over his interwoven fingers towards Snape. “Thank you for bringing Mister Malfoy to us, Severus. You may go.”
Snape nodded sharply, turning on his heel and making his prompt exit from the room, leaving Draco alone with the leaders of the Liberals and the Conservatives, respectively.
Draco could not help but note that on any other occasion, this would likely be a spectacle the likes of which he would enjoy watching. Unfortunately, his magical education hung in the balance during said meeting, so he had a feeling it would be far less amusing.
“First and foremost,” Dumbledore asked, “how are you feeling this morning, Master Malfoy? I gathered from the documentation of last night’s little adventure that you had suffered quite a nasty concussion.”
“I’m fine,” Draco answered shortly. If he were going to be expelled, he would not give the old man the satisfaction of rendering him to a stuttering mess.
Dumbledore smiled kindly. “I’m glad,” he said genuinely before, all at once, his face hardened. Draco braced himself for whatever might come next. “Now, to business.” He leaned forward slightly, not unlinking his fingers as he gazed towards him. Draco had enough sense to heed his father’s warnings from before the year began to not meet Dumbledore’s or Snape’s eyes, even though the man had never explained why.
“Last night, Master Malfoy, you were caught out of your dorms duelling Ronald Weasley of Gryffindor. Do you deny that this duel took place?” Draco hesitated but shook his head. He knew all too well that a check of his wand from a wizard as powerful as Dumbledore would essentially prove the fact.
“Master Malfoy, I do not think I need to inform you of how far out of line these actions are.”
“Are you going to expel me then?” Draco asked, half scared, half defiant. Lucius shot him a sharp glance that clearly screamed: “keep your mouth shut”.
Dumbledore simply appraised him. “For duelling out of bounds? No, I am not. On any other occasion, such an offence, though very wrong for certain, would not have landed you in front of me as you are now.” He sighed. “The problem, Master Malfoy, is not so much the duel itself, as it is the collateral damage that it caused.
“You see, the problem is the room which you chose as your arena for the duel. That room is, as I am sure you are acutely aware, full of trinkets that have withstood the test of time. Some of these trophies are far beyond relics, remarkable as said relics may be. They are a treasured part of our school’s history and thus extremely valuable.
“Upon interviewing Master Weasley, I learned that he, at the very least, was not at all responsible for the destruction of the trophies and plaques that were lost last night.”
“I didn’t!” Draco argued, wide-eyed. “I never broke any of those trophies!”
Draco hesitated. He could sell out Potter, but something instinctively told him that such a thing was a dangerous course of action.
Lucius jumped on his hesitation.
“If you would be so kind, Headmaster, I think it prudent that I speak with my son. I would not want him making any… damaging decisions in the long term without fully understanding the severity of the situation.”
Dumbledore smiled, but Draco could tell it was strained. “Of course, Lucius. It is your right as his Father, after all, and the precise reason you were called in for this occasion.” Lucius nodded sharply, took hold of Draco’s arm, dragged him to his feet and walked him out the door and down the spiral staircase. He paused just short of stepping back into the corridor. He withdrew his wand, gave it a quick twitch. As he stowed it away once more, he turning back to his son and heir.
“We shall not be overheard,” he said with some satisfaction. “Now, without the needless detail, who was in the trophy room with you last night?”
“Weasley and the Potter twins,”
“Ah, yes, the Boy-Who-Lived and the enigma that is his brother, of course. Well then, I suppose the question should be why you allowed yourself to be cornered into a situation where you were outnumbered three to one?”
“I didn’t. Harry Potter was my second. I did it to annoy the other Potter, but it backfired. I wasn’t going to show up. I was just going to say it was at midnight and no-show, but Harry Potter mocked Weasley and ended up subtly telling him that as the challenged party, it was their right to pick the time and place.”
Lucius’s face did not change. “How… interesting,” he observed. “Well, that simply will not do,” he muttered. “Dumbledore will find a way to get his golden boy out of the line of fire, and I suspect that the same would be true for his brother.” Lucius thought for a minute. “Tell me, who else does the youngest Weasley boy spend his time with?”
Malfoy shrugged. “There’s a Finnigan boy.”
“That will suffice for Weasley’s second,” Lucius decided, a glint in his eye as he leaned forwards. “Now tell me, who are all of your year’s housemates, Draco?”
“Bulstrode, Crabbe, Goyle, Greengrass, Nott, Moon, Zabini, Potter and Davis.”
“Davis?” Lucius asked with narrowed eyes. “How very peculiar. I do not recognize the surname, Davis. Tell me, Draco, why would you ever use an unnamed mudblood as your second?”
Draco looked incredulous for a second before, slowly, a wicked grin spread across his face as he realized what his father was planning.
‘A friend of Potter’s, too. How perfect.’
About an hour later, in the Slytherin common room…
Harry had been mildly baffled when Tracey had been pulled out of the common room by Snape that morning. At the time, both him and Daphne had shrugged it off, but when the girl did not return after ten or so minutes, an irrational feeling of dread settled upon them.
This feeling of dread welled into an outright panic just as Harry and Daphne were making to leave for Defence. The common room entrance slid open, and Tracey sprinted through the room, off to the left down the passage to the dorms and out of sight. There were obvious tears streaming down her cheeks. Without hesitation, Daphne got up to follow her. For his part, Harry made to stand too, but Daphne shot him a look that clearly suggested it was better if he didn’t join her. Five minutes later, Daphne returned looking positively sick and livid, two emotions that would never have slipped through her mask on normal occasions.
“What happened?” Harry asked at once, casting the Muffliato charm a second after speaking.
“What happened is that Tracey has detention every Saturday and Sunday until the Christmas break with Filch, and she just lost us fifty points for something she didn’t do!”
Harry paled as he quickly scanned the room, making sure nobody was coming within range of the boundary of his privacy spell. As he looked, one face stood out, one that had not been there when he himself had returned from the trophy room the night before. Malfoy’s face was, for the most part, blank. What gave him away was the glint in his eyes, one that he failed to mask. Harry could see the internal smirk.
That was when it clicked.
“I’ll kill him!” he hissed, moving to flick his wand into his holster. Before he could, Daphne’s hand closed around his wrist in a vice-like grip. He tried to pull free, but her grip strength was shocking. He supposed that was what one got when they handled Potions tools and ingredients often for years. “Daphne,” he snarled, his eyes glowing with ethereal green light, “Let. Me. Go!”
“No!” she hissed back, shifting her position so she could look him in the eye. “Harry, you have to calm down. You can’t openly attack Malfoy in the common room in front of everybody!”
When looking back upon this memory in the future, Harry would be eternally grateful for both the grip strength Daphne had developed from brewing potions since the age of seven as well as her incomprehensible mental restraint. That was something he wouldn’t come to understand until months later.
“Harry, I need you to breathe. Think about everything that would go wrong if you attacked Malfoy right now. Trust me, we will get him, both of us. Just not now, not here.” Harry hesitated, not quite able to conquer his anger but also not quite able to curb his rationality. Daphne took that hesitation to sling both of their bags over her shoulder and drag Harry out of the room.
Harry likely would have made a mad dash back to the common room if not for Daphne’s firm, insistent grip upon his wrist. It was not until they reached the corridor leading to their next lesson, Defence Against the Dark Arts, that he gained enough self-control to confidently assure Daphne that he would not do anything stupid during defence.
Despite it being his favourite subject, Harry spent most of the lecture spaced out, positively boiling with fury and plotting all the horrible ways in which he could strike back against Malfoy. There was another feeling too, one that Harry was not familiar enough with to identify, but what he would later learn was guilt.
It had been his plan that backfired.
It had seemed like such a good plan. Malfoy had been throwing subtle jabs his way since the beginning of term and it was rather obvious that he had a place with some of the older students. Hell, the first night, after the sorting, he had even tried to cripple any political foundation Harry might build by implying his relative unimportance.
With that in mind, Harry was sure that sooner or later, Draco would try to make a power play to establish himself at the top of the first year pecking order. Harry simply could not let that happen.
For one thing, if he had to put up with Draco making blunt remarks about Tracey’s blood status while the entire year supported him, he would likely become a murderer at the age of eleven. For another, Malfoy seriously rubbed him the wrong way. He was not Slytherin enough to lead a year. It was as if he had taken all the stereotypical traits associated with Slytherin house and turned them all up to eleven whilst forgetting what truly defined the house of cunning and ambition. Paranoid as it might be, Harry had the distinct impression that if Malfoy seized control of the first year hierarchy, it would not be pleasant for Harry within Slytherin. Being the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived seemed enough for Malfoy to hate him on principle.
If it were just Malfoy, Harry wouldn’t have worried. He could trounce the boy with an arm tied behind his back. With that being said, his older associates were problematic.
So, it had seemed rather easy. Malfoy had presented Harry with a perfect opportunity to cripple his political aspirations within Slytherin House. If he set Malfoy up as the idiot who had lost fifty points or more over a Weasley and hopefully got a bit banged up in the process, then much of the house, hopefully including his older associates, would lose respect for him. Unfortunately, now Harry knew that Malfoy’s part in the duel, though not swept under the rug, per se, would be forgotten within Slytherin house. It would be an afterthought after “the mudblood that had lost them fifty points during her second week of Hogwarts”.
It was infuriating.
“…Now,” snapped Professor Hurst, “almost all of you have shown some proficiency with the Aegis Vocar shield by this point. You will now be divided into partners and take turns casting spells at one another while the other uses their shield to absorb the spell. Only easily reversed jinxes are to be used. For those of you who have not demonstrated competency with the shield, you will be working on your own to master it.
“Now, Miss Greengrass with Miss Parkinson and Miss Moon. My apologies for the uneven grouping, but based on your numbers, it was inevitable. Master Zabini with Master Malfoy. Masters Crabbe and Goyle and Miss Bulstrode, work on your own to surmount the spell, and Master Potter…” When she turned to look at Harry, she paused for the shortest of moments. It was brief enough that in his distracted state, Harry didn’t even catch it. “You will be partnering with Master Nott.”
Harry got to his feet as his heart rate sped up. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears as Theodore Nott stood across from him.
One of Malfoy’s friends.
Nott sneered arrogantly and hatefully at Harry, who returned the gesture with fervour. He didn’t know Nott, but from what he had gathered, the boy was a bigoted idiot. Harry thought him the perfect outlet for his anger.
“Miss Greengrass, Master Zabini, and Master Nott, you will be shielding first.” Nott looked most unpleased with that arrangement, but he obediently held his wand in a defensive position as he prepared to cast, a rather cruel glint still in his eye.
‘Oh, you have no idea what is about to happen.’
In retrospect, neither did Harry.
“You will begin on three, two, one!”
“Aegis Vocar!” cried Nott.
Harry raised his wand and Nott, if not for his own admirable self-control would have flinched. Harry’s eyes were glowing once more. It was not obvious, but if one was looking, they could see the increase in that pale, emerald light behind his eyes. As Harry’s wand came up and aimed at Nott, the air around him seemed to crackle as Harry thought he felt the pressure in his ears change an instant before he released his spell.
The jet of red light positively whistled from Harry’s wand and closed the distance between him and Nott with unnatural speed, causing the air around it to crackle. Nott’s eyes widened a moment before the spell, (which should have been easily deflected by an attempt far weaker than Nott’s) ripped straight through his shield and struck him full in the chest. The spell sent him sprawling to the floor as he yelled out in pain.
Through his haze of anger, Harry had enough cognitive thought left to realize that the boil hex was not supposed to send its victim sprawling.
Instead of simply creating a boil on the point of impact, the spell seemed to have a larger effect. Boils were popping up all over Nott’s body, all spreading outwards from the original point of impact. He was positively screaming in pain. The boy tried the counter curse twice, but nothing happened. Meanwhile, Harry was too busy seeing red to do much of anything, but before he could raise his wand again, another voice cut through his haze.
It was one of the first times Harry had ever heard Professor Hurst speak aloud when casting magic, and her voice was strong and loud. The air around Theodore seemed to cool as he stopped his screaming, resorting to quiet moans as he buried his face into the floor, doing an admittedly stellar job of hiding his tears.
“Cease your actions at once!” Professor Hurst called out needlessly. The class had all frozen and stared wide-eyed at Theodore on the floor. She glanced briefly at Harry before looking towards Malfoy and Zabini. “Master Malfoy, take Master Nott to the hospital wing at once. The rest of you, minus Master Potter, are excused. Go!”
Harry had never heard his professor speak in such a harsh voice before, but its effect was instantaneous on the rest of the class. When all had left but the two of them, she fired a spell off towards the door. It was of pure black energy which caused an odd distortion in the air after slamming into the aforementioned exit. A sort of hazy blue barrier seemed to take form on their side, but Harry couldn’t even muster the thought to be curious. Then, she whirled on Harry, and he had just enough brainpower to realize what she was about to do. He raised his own wand at once.
Much like his hex had moments earlier, hers travelled unnaturally fast. Unlike Nott’s shield, Harry’s hastily conjured Aegis Vocar held, if barely.
He snarled, side-stepping and turning his wand on his professor. Normally, Harry would never dream of doing something so incredibly bold and idiotic, but for one thing, he was not thinking in his usual frame of mind. Another thing, she had just tried to curse him, so a claim of self-defence would more than hold up in a court of law.
She didn’t bother with a shield, she simply flicked her wand, sending Harry’s grossly overpowered boil hex rocketing away from the both of them.
“Come now, Potter. I am not an eleven-year-old pureblood brat. You will have to do better.”
“Mobiliarbus, Flipendo, Petrificus Totalus!”
“Better,” she drawled as she easily and infuriatingly knocked all of Harry’s spells aside with no effort. “Merely disappointing, no longer pathetic.”
Harry snarled and launched spell after spell at her. His casting was rather repetitive since his arsenal was quite limited, but he didn’t care. He simply threw everything at her, egged on by her mocking as he went. This went on for what, to Harry, felt like no time at all, but what was really nearly ten minutes. Finally, as his attempt at a full-body bind sparked out. Harry fell to his knees, allowing his wand to clatter to the floor as he sagged with exhaustion.
He breathed heavily, noticing the sounds of footsteps coming closer. He looked up through eyes that barely stayed open and saw, to his confusion, Professor Hurst offering him a hand up. Cautiously, he took it and was pulled to his feet.
“Now that you have performed all the venting you could have possibly yearned for,” she said, dropping her mocking charade at once, “do you care to tell me why you were so irrationally furious that you, my best first year defence student, failed to control a simple boil hex?”
He didn’t feel like he had the energy to speak, but after literally using all of his pent up emotion in every spell, Harry could honestly say that he could think clearly once more. He was still livid, but he was also ashamed of his lack of self-control.
“I… don’t think I can, Professor. There are things involved that I would rather the staff not know about.”
The professor appraised him for several long moments before nodding. “Very well, Master Potter. In the future, you will exhibit better self-control.”
“Yes ma’am,” said a legitimately ashamed Harry. “I’m sorry, ma’am.” He paused. “Professor?”
“What happened when I cast Furnunculus at Nott? I’ve never heard of that happening before.”
There was a moment where they were silent, and Harry was certain that the professor would not answer him. That only lasted a couple of seconds, as with a calculating look in place, Professor Hurst answered with a question of her own.
“Tell me, how did you feel when you cast the spell towards Master Nott and what, in vague terms, were you thinking about while casting?”
“I was furious,” he admitted quietly. “I was thinking of the reason why I was furious.”
“Is this what you think of when you cast hexes such as the boil hex in most circumstances?”
“What is it that you normally keep in mind?”
“The desired intent of the spell.”
“Ah, and there it is — intent.” She looked vaguely disappointed. “I see you have not yet taken up my reading recommendation. You will have a summary of the first chapter on my desk by Monday as punishment for your outburst.” She sighed. “But before you ask, yes, I shall explain.
“Keeping with the example of Furnunculus, when you cast the hex on a normal occasion, your mind is focused solely on the intent you desire, that being for the spell to take on its rudimentary form. This state of concentration is possible because, when casting, you are focusing on the intent and not your emotions, which leads to the latter being unable to warp the former. Today, however, in your rage, you allowed your thoughts to be consumed with anger. There is something that is never taught to you at Hogwarts, and why this is so I shall never understand but here it is.
“Magic is extremely complex and even sentient. It is not simply a matter of waving one’s wand and muttering words. The reason that intent is so important in regards to magic is that the magic needs a catalyst, something to allow it to take form. It does this through your intent. But as you found out today, intent is a rather vague word that can be interpreted in a number of different ways. With your lack of self-control today, as well as no true visualization, the magic simply manifested by using your anger as its catalyst. Revenge is intent, and though such intent would lead to utter failure in transfiguration when dealing with a hex or a curse, it can have rather drastic effects.”
Harry nodded. It all made sense to him, even though it all sounded ridiculously complicated. “Professor,” he asked carefully, “If I wanted to overpower spells like Furnunculus in a duel, could I focus on bad memories or strong, negative emotions? Would that actually work?”
For the first time during their conversation, the professor allowed a small smile to grace her lips. “That is the student I have come to know, Master Potter. See that it is the student who attends my class from here on out. The short answer is yes, but it is not that simple. For one, focusing on anger or negative emotions when casting, especially if one’s mind is unorganized and free of control can cause their magic to become quite volatile, as you saw today. Casting off of sheer emotion is also more magically draining than to cast off of a more guided form of intent.”
“Is there a better way of doing it, then?”
“Intent, Master Potter. Magic is not fuelled by wand movements or even incantations, but intent. A master of magic, few as they are, does not need incantations. They simply wave their wand and will magic to obey them. Though few ever reach this kind of control, it is a show of intent’s power. Most spells do have predetermined limits, so their effectiveness is not infinitely malleable, but there is some leeway there.” She paused. “There is a categorization of magic known as esoteric magic that does utilize emotions, but I believe this branch may be beyond your level at this time.”
“So more clear intent and visualisation is still the best way to manipulate magic, but emotions do work?”
Harry nodded. “Thank you, Professor,” he said sincerely. “I’ll make sure to have the essay for you by Monday.”
September 14, 1991
The Great Hall
Harry had, as usual, woken up early and fled the common room before the sun had truly risen. Instead of sneaking off to his favourite abandoned room to practice magic as he normally would be doing, Harry decided to trek up to the library. It turned out that the librarian, Madam Pince, was already there despite the early hour. Harry seriously wondered if she just slept behind her desk. Judging by her rather strict looking countenance, he thought asking that question may not be in his best interests. When he flashed her the slip, she was beyond sceptical. After looking it over for several minutes, she reluctantly conceded. She gave him a long, dry safety talk. After said talk had been complete, she finally allowed him to enter the Restricted Section. She did make him wear earmuffs and dragon-hide gloves, which he personally thought was a bit much, but he wasn’t complaining..
It took Harry some time to find the book that the professor had recommended. The tome itself was not terribly long, though it appeared positively ancient. Harry made to leave but hesitated.
He was here. He would be foolish to not take advantage of the resource suddenly and irrationally at his disposal.
There were so many books that piqued his interest. Harry had to unfortunately admit, they were mostly all above his current level. After some deliberation, he settled on a few safer looking ones. His selection consisted of three books. On the Offensive: a Guide in the Basics of Striking First and Last, 50 Non-Lethal, Must Know Curses to Win a Duel and, Most Potente Potions. The latter was likely unnecessary. He was friends with a genuine potions prodigy, after all. However, Harry disliked the idea of having to rely on Daphne. If nothing else, storing some rather… interesting potions in his memory bank probably was not a bad idea.
That thought prompted a frown. He still had those vials of Longbottom’s botched potion from their first day; the one that had led to rather painful results when absorbed through the skin. Harry could dump it over Malfoy in the blond’s sleep. It would be entertaining, but he thought it more apt for a lesser offence. He would have to come up with something more… damaging, and preferably more far-reaching in retaliation for his ploy against Tracey.
By the time Harry had returned to the common room and stowed his new trophies away in his trunk, he still had some time before breakfast, so he set off to do what he had been meaning to do for almost two weeks now — explore.
He stuck to the area nearest his common room for now. He thought it would probably be the most useful to him. As breakfast was nearing, Harry assumed he had struck out in terms of his day’s expeditions.
Then he saw it.
He was in the dungeons, only a corridor and a bit away from his common room when he noticed. The corridor that housed all the serpentine decor, not the one far below, but the one that Harry, and seemingly all of Slytherin seemed to think was there for the sole purpose of serving as a diversion for the entrance to their common room.
He checked to make sure he was alone before he turned back to the snakes.
He had no idea why “open” came to him, but there was something… he was not sure how to describe it… nudging him? There just seemed to be a part of his mind that knew that was the right thing to say.
One of the snakes curled into the form of a handle, which quickly protruded out of the portrait. Harry’s eyes widened as he took hold of the handle and opened the door. It led to an extremely dark passageway that was quite narrow. It was comfortable for one person, but he doubted he could have managed to walk side by side with anybody else. He closed the door behind him and made his way up the passageway, climbing a set of stairs when he reached them and coming up on a blank wall that appeared to be a dead end.
Harry wasn’t fooled.
He felt around for a moment, thinking how it would be far more convenient not to need Parseltongue on this end and promptly found a handle. This one seemed to have been there already. Harry opened it and slid out of the passage. He exited in a very small alcove underneath the marble staircase that, upon further investigation, was pretty much impossible to see from outside of it if one was not looking. Even if they were, Harry thought, spotting it would be a task. He also noticed that there was indeed an actual door handle on this side.
When he sidled into the Great Hall for breakfast, he noticed that, to his relief, Daphne had managed to coax Tracey out to breakfast.
“Morning,” he greeted the two girls as he took his customary seat. “How are you feeling?” he asked Tracey.
She sighed. “Better, I guess. I mean… as Daphne put it, what is fifty points and a bunch of detentions in the long run?” Harry nodded. It was true. He knew also that her life within Slytherin House had just become a lot more interesting. Now, she was no longer just the nobody and suspected halfblood or muggleborn. She was now that, plus “that girl who cost us 50 points and was going to let the Malfoy Heir take the fall.” Harry didn’t say this though. He knew, in spite of her over the top, bubbly personality, that Tracey was nothing if not intelligent. He didn’t need to point out the obvious to her.
Malfoy would pay in time, regardless.
The morning post chose that moment to make its arrival, and for the third time in the school year, Harry had some. This time, it was not the now-familiar eagle owl of the Potters. It was a dignified, pristine-looking owl. He couldn’t identify the exact species. Attached to its leg was a small, simple letter. Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a small smile cross Daphne’s face. He quickly deduced that, if nothing else, it probably wasn’t dangerous. Not to him, at least.
“Care to explain?” he asked, causing her to look at him in annoyance.
“Care to read?” she snarked back.
“Don’t encourage him, Daphne,” said Tracey, a bit of her normal self shining through her veil of gloom. “If you tell him to read any more, we’ll never see him again.”
Harry ignored them both, choosing instead to open and read the letter, the contents of which made his eyes widen.
I must admit that I am rather surprised by what I have heard of you third hand thus far. I imagine that most of the magical world shares this sentiment, but I find myself most interested in meeting you.
The Greengrass heiress has spoken quite highly of you to my daughter via letters, and her praise is not an easy one to gain.
With this, as well as your future political standing in mind, it is a pleasure for both myself and the rest of my family to extend to you an invitation to our Samhain event on the 31st of October, which shall start at 8:00 PM.
Whether you accept or, if for some reason you are forced to decline the invitation, please send a response back no later than the 20th of October.
We await your response and hope for your presence.
Regent of House Weitts.
‘Huh? I was not expecting that.’
Well, here it is; the newest update to the ongoing schemes within Slytherin House, as well as some other important setup and background.
Next chapter will feature the meeting with James, as well as yet another familiar face. It will also feature Harry’s first Halloween at Hogwarts.
Please read and review.
This chapter was revised on September 21st, 2020 with the help of Discord editors Asmodeus Stahl and rawmeat898.
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