Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 1: The Forsaken’s Ascension
Chapter 9: Samhain Part I
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 20, 1991
The Third Floor
“Yup, the nearest person is Snape, and he’s a floor up and nowhere near a staircase.”
“And the cat?”
The Weasley twins stepped out from behind the tapestry that concealed them, peering at the locked door that led to the forbidden third floor corridor with unmasked curiosity.
“What do you reckon?” Fred asked his twin.
“Probably warded to the teeth.”
“They really should’ve worked something into the map that would reveal wards.”
George shrugged. “No idea if that’s even possible, but it would have been quite magnificent, wouldn’t it?”
They crept a bit closer and paused. “I don’t feel anything, at least,” George muttered.
“Either means there are no wards, or the people who put them up are just way out of our league.”
“I would sincerely hope that whoever put up wards is out of our league. I doubt a proximity ward tied with some stinging hexes would do a whole lot.”
“Too true, brother dear.”
They looked at each other, a wicked gleam mirrored in both sets of eyes.
Carefully, Fred reached into a pocket of his robes and withdrew a rather ordinary muggle tennis ball. “Here goes nothing,” he muttered, rolling it forward. It bounced off of the door and didn’t seem to set anything off.
“So,” said George with a grin, “either there are no wards, or the people who put them up were smart enough to only queue them to humans.”
“Nah,” dismissed Fred with narrowed eyes, “I doubt it. That would’ve left loopholes. People could’ve got in those muggle picture things that dad’s always going on about.”
“Yeah, but I doubt any of the staff except for Burbage knows about those.”
“Come off it; you know it was just the first example I could come up with. There would be other loopholes too.”
With one last glance at one another, they seemed to hold their breaths as one as carefully, slowly, they crept up to the door.
“They’re having a laugh!” Fred hissed in disbelief. “Nothing? No wards at all?”
“Maybe some seventh year broke them?”
“Nah. If there’s something so dangerous here, you figure they’d make it a bit harder than that!”
“Guess we’ll find out.”
Slowly, they both withdrew their wands and took aim at the handle, incanting in perfect unison.
The lock clicked.
“This has to be the best prank of all time!” Fred mused, still baffled. “I mean, if it’s this easy, there’s clearly nothing dangerous-” but his voice trailed off as the door opened and they caught sight of the hulking shape of a monstrous three-headed… something that was laying on a trap door.
As they relocked the door and sprinted in the opposite direction, both twins were thinking the same thing.
‘What the hell are they playing at?’
September 23, 1991
The Great Hall
Professor Dumbledore has agreed to let you out of the castle for the Hogsmeade trip on the 11th of October (told you!). You could always just ride the carriages with the other students if you fancy a dull, normal first trip into the village. Or, if you want to spice things up a little bit, you could always find the statue of the one-eyed, humpbacked witch halfway down the third floor corridor nearest the grand staircase, tap its hump, say Dissendium, and meet a friend of mine.
Just food for thought.
Hope your classes are going well. Charlus said Snape’s as much a git as ever, and that Binns is still useless, but he hasn’t really complained aside from that.
See you soon,
“This is the first time you’ve read one of his letters and actually looked interested,” said Daphne, nodding to the owl whom she could now recognize without issue as belonging to the Potters.
He nodded. “See for yourself,” he said, handing her the letter to read.
Daphne nodded slowly upon the completion of the letter before, after getting a nod of confirmation from Harry, she passed it to Tracey, who actually gasped. “It does seem interesting,” Daphne admitted. “Are you going to use it?”
“I think I might go have a look before the eleventh, but if it does really just lead me straight into Hogsmeade, then of course I’m going to use it.”
Whatever Harry felt about his father, and what he felt, even he wasn’t quite sure, he was not above using useful information that came from the man, nor would he ever be.
Harry had taken a sort of interest in the secret passages of the school after finding the one that led from the dungeons to underneath the grand staircase. He had, upon further speaking with the snake on the dungeon side, realized that he did not actually need to risk using Parseltongue at all. As a speaker, the snake had let him choose a new password. He had decided to go with “escape”, as that was how he viewed the castle at large.
Harry had spent a fair bit of time wandering the halls of Hogwarts in an effort to find more passages like the one he had found in the dungeons. Daphne and Tracey were really not up for this practice, so Harry had mostly gone alone. He’d actually been mildly successful.
He had found a staircase that served as a shortcut between the second and fourth floors, hidden behind a tapestry on either side. He’d also found the passageway that Grace had taken him down that first night. It was hidden behind a frozen portrait in the antechamber off the Great Hall and would slide away when tapped with a wand. From there, it too would lead down to the dungeons, though not quite as close to the common room as the first Harry had discovered. Where that one would lead Harry to about a corridor off of the common room, the other passage would take him just to the bottom of the stairs leading down into the dungeons. Still useful, nonetheless.
“Don’t we get to go to the village at some point?” Tracey asked, clearly excited by the prospect.
“In our third year,” Daphne answered, focusing her eyes on Harry. “You had best be careful exploring the castle. If you’re not careful, some of us may catch up to you in class.”
Harry smirked. “Ah, Daphne, I hate to break it to you, but the only person you’re convincing of that fact is yourself.”
For all the time that Harry had spent wandering the castle in the last week and a half, he had spent double that amount of time practising. He’d read the book that Professor Hurst had recommended cover to cover, and he had to say, he agreed with its principles. There is no such thing as light and dark, or good and evil, had been the book’s thesis. Only power, and the intent with which it is wielded. Harry had agreed very much with the book’s points, and its breakdowns on the actual value of intent in terms of magical theory had been an absolute game-changer.
After reading that book, Harry had broken into his book on non-lethal spells to win a duel. Many of them were definitely above his current level, but that did not mean he hadn’t read ahead a bit. He had, with the help of a surprisingly willing Daphne and Tracey, practised some of the more harmless spells he knew, though most of them had not come from that particular tome.
He’d learned, through using the spells on them in exchange for returning the favour, that he had easily mastered the disarming charm, the leg locker, the full-body-bind and the bat-bogey hex. Tracey had some problems with these spells, but she could manage some of the very minor jinxes. She was decent at Charms, though her strengths were in the theory. Daphne had managed the leg-locker, bat-bogey hex, and several other more minor spells like the dancing jinx, but the other higher-level spells still evaded her for now.
Harry had set his sights on the Protego shield. It wasn’t usually taught until the fifth year, but Harry knew that it would be unbelievably useful. If he could master it, he could probably master many of the spells in the book.
He had also kept up with his work for his lessons just fine and continued to work ahead. Now, he could comfortably say that he could complete the first year curriculum in Transfiguration, and he was not far off in Charms either, though he had yet to attempt either of the tasks that would be asked for in exams. Speaking of which, Harry really needed to figure out what the teachers actually had them do for the exams.
At first, Daphne had been skeptical of his habits. She had seemed to think he was punishing himself in some sort of way by spending so much time practising. She had come to realize since then that Harry was genuinely just obsessed with magic.
Harry had needed to fight down the impulse to curse Malfoy several times. Leaving him in a full-body-bind was sorely tempting, but he knew there were far better ways of doing it. A vague plan had already formed in his mind as to how to get back at Malfoy, but he would have to do a lot more research before he was even remotely comfortable with, or capable of trying it.
He’d told Daphne that he intended to get back at Malfoy, tried to include her even, but she simply encouraged him. According to her, she would get her own vengeance in due time. It was only a shame that Tracey couldn’t, or she would be vilified by the rest of Slytherin House. Under normal circumstances, Harry, a halfblood, would be too if it was found out he was going after the Malfoy heir, but his status of Heir Potter offered him a certain amount of protection. Not as much as he would have liked, since much of the house did not view his family in the most positive of lights. His friendship with the heiress of a Founding Twelve family actually granted him just as much, if not more protection, he thought, but that would not extend to Tracey if she went after revenge. Not after it had already saved her skin following the fiasco with Malfoy earlier in the year.
“Harry?” Daphne asked him, lowering her voice conspiratorially. Harry quirked an eyebrow; this was odd behaviour for her.
“Have you responded to the Weitts’s invitation?”
“No, I haven’t. And yes, don’t worry, I intend to.” He decided to just answer her unasked question, knowing by now how Daphne did things. “My answer will depend on how the meeting with my father goes.”
Daphne nodded, understanding Harry’s implications easily enough.
Harry did hope his father allowed him to go. Barring a disastrous meeting, Harry would rather, at the very least, not burn the bridge that was his father. Being the Heir of an Ancient and Most Noble House had its perks. James couldn’t disown Harry unless extreme circumstances that Harry very much doubted would ever come to pass took place, but Harry could take full advantage of those perks with a much higher level of ease if he was at least on speaking terms with James.
He wasn’t even sure if the Potters held or attended a gala of their own on Samhain. Personally, he doubted it, due to the events of 1981, but he also had no real idea either way. If James was holding or attending one, he would likely want Harry there if he allowed him to leave the castle at all.
Even if he didn’t, Harry was not quite sure how he would react to his heir attending the Weitts’s gathering. They were not under the Conservative banner like most of Voldemort’s former supporters, but a large number of those supporters would certainly be in attendance. Harry wasn’t sure if his father would react kindly to that. He had, after all, made a rather horrible attempt at a subtle remark about staying away from the children of Death Eaters in his first letter.
Harry certainly hoped to get out to the gathering. It was a networking dream and though he was a bit nervous at the prospect of meeting so many new people, a phenomenon that he was still rather unaccustomed to, he thought it would be a fantastic opportunity. Plus, it would serve as the perfect arena for his end game to unfold in.
October 11, 1991
The Third Floor
Lessons were out for the day, which meant that students above the third year had been granted access to Hogsmeade. As many of them crowded into the magically enchanted carriages, a small, sharp-eyed first year crept down the third-floor corridor closest to the grand, marble staircase and approached a humpbacked statue of a one-eyed witch that was often passed by.
He had done some reconnaissance already about a week earlier. The passage was certainly legitimate and seemed to lead directly into a cellar that Harry assumed belonged to a building somewhere in the village. Which building, he didn’t know, nor was he daring enough to try and find out, but he had found out what he’d wanted.
As he approached the statue in question, he glanced around quickly, making sure that he was not being followed before swiftly, he tapped his wand on the hump of the statue.
The hump slid aside, revealing the passageway underneath it. With a final glance to the corridorl, Harry quickly slipped down into the passage, only vaguely aware of it closing behind him. Once he was down in the passage itself, it took his eyes a second to adjust to the dim light, though not as long as they probably should have taken. Privately, he thought that the ritual in Knockturn Alley may have done more than merely fixed his eyes, though he could not be completely sure. When they did adjust, however, he realized that, jase as James had hinted would be the case in the letter he had received, Harry was not alone.
Standing a bit in front of him, watching him with naturally wide, watery blue eyes was a man whom Harry had never seen before. He was certainly on the shorter side, maybe 5’6″ or 5’7″, but he had a healthy build. He looked as if he had used to carry a lot of excess weight that he had since shed. Harry would not go as far as to say the man looked athletic, but he was certainly lean.
There was a split second of recognition in the man’s eyes before he smiled a wide, easy smile. “Harry!” the man greeted him. He stepped forward, perhaps to clasp him on the shoulder but paused, seeming to think better of the idea, choosing instead to hold out his hand to Harry’s mild relief. “If, of course, you have no problems with being called by your first name?”
Harry plastered an easy smile onto his face, artificial as it may have been. If this was a friend of his father’s, there was only one acceptable answer to give as he reached out and took the man’s hand. “Of course, I don’t mind, sir. You’re a friend of my father, I assume?”
The man smiled at him again, shaking his hand jovially. “The very best of friends, as a matter of fact. Peter’s the name — Peter Pettigrew. None of this sir business, though. Call me Peter, since I imagine Uncle Pete would be a stretch for now.”
Harry nodded. This man was not what he had expected. He seemed quite perceptive and rather realistic as to his situation and standing in regards to Harry. If only he had rubbed off a bit on Charlus.
“It’s nice to meet you, Peter,” Harry said with his trademarked smile.
Peter beamed. “Oh, Harry, trust me; the pleasure is all mine.”
“My Father wanted you to meet me here?”
“He did. I admit, I wasn’t as sure as he seemed to be that you would choose this route, but I’m pleased you did. The castle holds many secrets. It’s an advantage to know as many of them as possible.” He smirked. “One that me, your father, and our friends happily abused during our school days.”
“You’ve known each other a long time then?” Harry asked, miming interest as he and Pettigrew made the walk through the tunnel. There were a few rodents scuttling around, but neither wizard paid them any mind.
“Long before you or your brother were even a thought. We met on the train on our first day at Hogwarts.” he sighed. “I admit, I was not in the best place at that time, and your father, well… I’m sure you can imagine the respect he commanded as the Potter heir. He took me in as if I were family.” Peter smiled a rather nostalgic smile. “It was much more pleasant being with James as opposed to being against him.”
Harry frowned at that. For the first time, Pettigrew had caught his interest, and he did not need to fake curiosity when he asked his next question. “What do you mean by that?”
Peter’s face scrunched for a moment as if he regretted saying that last bit. Then, he shrugged a bit sheepishly. It was well done, but something about it all didn’t quite seem genuine. “James — in his school years, of course, was a bit… overzealous in dealing with those whom he didn’t like much.” Peter looked pointedly at Harry. “Ask Professor Snape. He could probably tell you better than anybody.”
Was that why Snape held a grudge against Harry? The results of some playground drama from decades past? If that was the case, his Head of House was more petty than Harry had thought.
“So, he was a bully, then?”
Peter winced. “I don’t know if I would go that far.” he defended quickly. “James was — immature, I suppose.” Peter smiled. “Still is, sometimes. I guess we all have our moments.” He let out an easy laugh, and Harry rewarded the man’s efforts with an equally easy smile. There was something about Pettigrew. Harry couldn’t put his finger on it, but the man unnerved him. In fairness, Harry didn’t exactly trust adults in general, so that could have played a factor too.
Harry and Peter entered the same cellar that Harry had a while back.
Pettigrew grinned at him. “Any guesses? Or have you gone exploring already?”
Harry shook his head. “I might have done if I had a way of not getting caught.” He thought for a moment before hazarding a vague guess. “Somewhere in central Hogsmeade, maybe? I don’t have a good enough knowledge of the place to make an accurate guess.”
Peter grinned more broadly still. “Well, Harry, allow me to welcome you to Honeydukes! It is truly one of the most magical places our world has to offer!”
Honeydukes, as it turned out, appeared to be a massive sweet shop. Harry didn’t really know what he thought about sweets, as he could count on one hand the number of times he had ever eaten them. Pettigrew seemed to pick up on at least part of this, as he bought Harry several rather mysterious bags of sweets and chocolates of all varieties.
“Think of it as a very late birthday present,” he told Harry when Harry, out of politeness, told him the gesture was unnecessary. The man winced at his own statement. “After all, I’ve missed ten too many of them.”
It seemed, at least at first glance, that Harry’s guess about being in central Hogsmeade was pretty on the money once they exited the shop in question. They stood on what appeared to be the main road in the small village, and they certainly did seem to be somewhere near the village’s centre. Harry could see the hulking outline of the castle without issue, though from this distance, its details, minus the obvious towers and the like were hidden from him.
“Quite a quaint little place, isn’t it?” Pettigrew asked, gesturing around the street and the surrounding area.
“It does seem quite nice.”
“This way.” Peter led him up the street, making their way closer to the looming shadow that was Hogwarts castle in the distance. They did not walk nearly that far. A few minutes later, Peter pointed out an establishment that seemed larger and busier than most.
The Three Broomsticks.
When they entered, they were swiftly greeted by a rather attractive looking server. “Hello, Mr. Pettigrew.” she greeted Peter with a smile.
“Good evening, Rosmerta,” Pettigrew responded pleasantly. “I’m afraid I won’t be staying long. I’m just here to escort this young lad to his meeting with Lord Potter upstairs. You understand, of course?”
Without waiting for an answer, Pettigrew stepped past Rosmerta, leading Harry behind the bar and through an oak door that led to a set of stairs. When they climbed up the stairs, there were several doors on the landing, though the largest and most ornate was the one that Harry was quite certain he needed to go through.
“Are you coming?” he asked Peter, hoping for an answer in the negative.
Peter smiled with some regret. “Afraid not, Sport.” Harry’s eye twitched as he just barely managed to suppress a wince at the nickname. Pettigrew did not seem to notice, or if he did, he didn’t seem to care. “I’ve got other business I need to attend to while I’m up this way. If you’re not comfortable taking the passage back to school, just go up in the carriages with the others.” He winked at Harry. “Between the two of us, I doubt that’ll be a problem.”
He sent Harry one last encouraging smile before, inclining his head to the Potter heir, he made his exit, leaving Harry standing in front of the door alone. Harry closed his eyes and took several long, deep, calming breaths in an effort to keep his tumult of emotions under control. Once he was reasonably confident that he wouldn’t explode at the first sight of his father, Harry slowly knocked on the door, which opened of its own accord a second later.
The meeting room was quite a bit nicer of a setting than Harry was accustomed to. The floors were done in a simple, yet stylish carpet, and there was a large window that overlooked the crowded street below. The room’s main feature, however, was clearly the large, oak table that dominated much of its centre. The table was long, clearly meant for meetings of large precessions, if necessary.
What drew Harry’s immediate attention was not the room itself, but the man who occupied the seat at the head of the table.
Hagrid had told him, when they first met, that he looked an awful lot like his father. Harry could clearly see their differences in appearance were as evident as their similarities, but he could still see where Hagrid had drawn that conclusion from, even if Charlus was clearly the true doppelgänger of his father.
Like was the case with his twin, Harry shared many similarities to James Potter in terms of facial features. Their jaw was very similar, as were their cheekbones. The general shape of their face too. James’s features were sharp and well defined, and though Harry’s certainly had some of those elements, his were somehow softer, more aristocratic. He figured the softer features were likely from his mother, though he didn’t really see where the aristocratic look came from. If anything, he would have suspected his father’s side, but his father didn’t have that look about him.
Their hair would have likely mirrored each other had Harry not tamed it years earlier. The shade was exactly the same, as was the length. But that was where the similarities ended. Where Harry’s was pristine, parted and perfect, James’s was chaotic and messy, but somehow still mildly stylish. The biggest difference was their eyes. For one thing, James wore elegant glasses similar to the ones his youngest son wore, and his eyes, unlike his son’s, were a deep, warm hazel as opposed to a shocking, intense emerald.
There was silence for some time. Then, ever so tentatively, James spoke, putting some of that legendary Gryffindor courage to use.
Harry had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. ‘Like father, like son,’ he thought, remembering the way that Charlus had greeted him in almost the exact same manner.
“Father,” he responded neutrally, giving away none of his true emotions.
“Charlus… well… he did say you looked a bit different than he expected.”
Harry actually did roll his eyes at this. “There was Mum to draw from genetically too.”
“I suppose there was.” he conceded with a rather sad smile. “It’s a miracle that one of you seemed to take as much from Lily as you did from me. Merlin knows she’s the better parent to draw from…”
Quite the understatement, in Harry’s opinion.
“Well,” Harry said carefully, knowing that the ice had to be broken eventually, “I did grow up with her family.” He did try and keep the coldness out of his voice, though he did not think he was completely successful.
James winced. “Harry… I… Lily… she was nothing like those muggles.” He pressed his eyes shut, sitting in that position for several seconds. Harry did not take his eyes off of James. “Putting you with them… there’s nothing I regret more. If I’d have known, if I’d have realized-“
“Did you not have any idea what kind of people your wife’s sister and brother-in-law were?”
James sighed. “I knew what Petunia was like as a child. I had no idea what she was like as an adult.” He met Harry’s eyes and beyond the pain in the older man’s, Harry could see an intensity that surprised him. “If I had known what they were like — what they would tell you…”
Harry had to resist the urge to throw everything they had done to him in James’s face, not to mention point out that what they had told him had been the least of his worries, but he did not.
“You should have at least checked in on me.”
“Yes,” James admitted, “I should’ve. There was supposed to be somebody keeping an eye out for signs of mistreatment, but they clearly didn’t do a great job of it.” James’s voice was bitter, if not outright angry. Harry subconsciously tensed. Angry adults had never boded well for him in the past. Mercifully, James did not notice.
Well — time for the million-pound question, he supposed
“Why did you do it in the first place?” Harry was amazed that his voice managed to stay neutral, but it did.
James suddenly looked every bit as old as Dumbledore. “In hindsight, it looks pretty stupid,” he muttered. “Looks like an excuse, anyway. Harry… I didn’t know what to do with myself after she… attacked. I was an idiot. I was young and I was stupid; still am sometimes, but that’s beside the point. I didn’t trust myself to raise one kid, let alone two. It was Lily who was good with that sort of stuff. I walked into the room, did something funny, did a cool bit of magic, and left. I always let her do the actual parenting. It was… easier, I guess.
“And then with Charlus… well, I didn’t trust myself to raise a kid, let alone a war hero.” He scowled. “I didn’t think I would be able to spend enough time raising you with all of the bullshit that Charlus had to go through. I thought, if you grew up around your brother, you’d be jealous, even spiteful. I thought if you were raised away from him, it might help. A… couple of other people suggested the muggle world. Remove you entirely so you didn’t resent your brother, you know?” He dipped his head. “Now, I realize how incredibly stupid that decision was.”
‘Oh, you have no idea.’
Harry wanted to throw it in the man’s face so badly. He wanted to hurl obscenities at him. He wanted to tell him about the long, hungry nights in his cupboard. He wanted to remove his robes and shirt to show James the scars that had manifested as a result of his actions. He wanted to do all of this and more, but he did not dare. He had to control the surging flames of fury that were coalescing inside of him.
‘A bridge, Potter. The importance of a bridge; hold it together.’
“I do not forgive you; I may never forgive you,” Harry said in that same, flat voice. For a second, James looked as if he had been struck, but Harry went on. “You have absolutely no idea what they did if you think them telling me you were dead was the most worrying of my problems.” James paled dramatically. “But, I can… accept — grudgingly, mind you, that your intentions seem decent enough.”
It wasn’t a lie. James seemed to mean well, and Harry did not sense deception in his father. True, he was sure there was probably more to this story than he knew, but that was to be expected; he could investigate later. If James were lying about his intent or the events, Harry thought he would know, as he always had before. “I still think you were an idiot and the literal representation of the absolute worst qualities of Gryffindor; acting without thinking, being too noble to actually think with some common sense, and all the rest. But I… accept your reasoning on one condition.”
“I am never going back to Privet Drive.”
James looked shocked. “Of course you’re not!” he said, sounding confused, even outraged. “Even I’m not that much of an idiot!” The joke fell flat, but Harry could vaguely appreciate the attempt. Finally, he stepped forward and took one of the seats nearest to his father.
There was a long, awkward silence before Harry spoke. “Well, I guess we may as well start over.” He held out his hand. “Harry Potter. Your son, first year Slytherin, and Heir of The Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter.” He watched James carefully for any negative reaction to the bit about his house and his heirship, but he saw none beyond a twitch of the man’s eye. Only relief.
James took his hand eagerly. “James Potter. Senior Auror, Quidditch fanatic, former chick magnet and Marauder extraordinaire, at your service.” He looked a bit sheepish. “And your Father, of course.”
Harry looked at him carefully. “That’s going to be weird for me,” he admitted.
“You don’t have to call me Father, or Dad, or whatever, at least not yet.” James sounded like the very words physically pained him. “I haven’t earned that title, not by a long shot.”
Harry had to resist the urge to scoff. Damn Gryffindor nobility.
“Okay, James.” Permitted or not, that had not helped to elevate the awkward tension filling the room. “Can you tell me about Mum?”
For a moment, James looked pained, hesitant even, almost like he would decline. But then, a few seconds later, his face split into a sad smile and the damn broke.
He learned about how his mother was the best student in their year in spite of her heritage. He learned about how she loved Charms and Potions, about how she had despised him for years when she was all he could think about. About how he had finally got his act together and grew up a bit in an attempt to win her over. About how the day he had proposed had been the happiest of his life up until that point.
Harry also spent a fairly large amount of time asking James about the secret passages around Hogwarts. He learned about a few others that led out of the castle, as well as a few other shortcuts he had yet to find. James mentioned something about a map of the school that he and his friends had used, but he was vague on the topic. Unfortunately, he admitted that nowadays, he hadn’t the foggiest idea where that map might be, but he assured Harry that the castle wasn’t too hard to figure out if one put the effort in, rare as such a thing was.
Harry listened attentively, asked questions when appropriate, and nodded along. As much as he hated to concede the point, his father seemed a very difficult man to hate. At least, in regards to his personality. He was charismatic and animated, but not annoyingly so, and carried an easy sense of humour that could be universally appreciated. On top of all of that, he seemed all too willing to answer Harry’s questions, and Harry was marginally relieved for such a thing.
He did not forgive his father, he was not sure if he ever would. But he decided that a tentative truce or even an alliance seemed in order. The flames of fury still persistently licked all up and down his innards, but Harry managed to suppress them. Long term advances should not be sacrificed out of feelings as immature as anger. He already had his revenge planned. Best Charlus, best James, mould the Potter name in his image. Defy the man quietly, defy the man in a way that would lead only to positive outcomes.
As Harry stood to leave, satisfied with how the meeting had gone but legitimately needing to get back to the castle, he paused, having deliberately left this bit to the end.
James seemed to notice his hesitation. “Was there something else, Harry?”
Harry gave the impression of surprise. Vulnerability would be an asset.
“Um, yes, sorry; I wasn’t really encouraged to ask questions at the Dursleys. It’s still a little odd, you know.”
James winced. “Harry, you can ask me anything and I’ll answer you unless I have a very good reason not to.”
Harry hesitated, very real worry making the maintenance of his mask all the easier at that moment. “Well… I was wondering… I’ve been invited to a major social gathering on Samhain. I was wondering if-if you would let me go? If I don’t have any obligations at one of your events as the Potter heir that night, of course.” Again, he watched James for a reaction to the title, but there was none beyond a bit of surprise.
“I’m glad you educated yourself on wizarding culture,” he said, rubbing his temples. “It does make my life a lot easier, and will save both of us hours on end that we could quite frankly be spending doing things that are a hell of a lot more enjoyable than reading etiquette books.” He sighed. “No, you have no… obligations. I… well — I don’t do much on Samhain, to be honest.”
Harry nodded, plastering the most understanding smile he could muster upon his face. It wasn’t hard, as he had decided himself that he would not be partaking in the Hogwarts feast. The Weitts’s party was far too big of an opportunity to miss out on, but he would restrain from truly celebrating the day.
“Who is hosting the gathering?” James asked, looking a bit grim for the first time. Harry had no trouble piecing together his reasons.
On principle, James did not like the fact that Harry was in Slytherin. He had no outright hatred for the house and it did not seem like he would treat Harry any lesser for it, but he had fought many of its alumni on the battlefield, so his perception was naturally a bit tainted. In fairness, Harry could see things from his perspective. His only problem with Harry being in Slytherin, beyond the obvious reminder of how his childhood had differed from Charlus’s, was that he seemed justifiably worried about whom Harry was hanging around with.
“The Weitts family.”
“A neutral family, then,” James said reluctantly.
Harry’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t like them?”
James shrugged. “I don’t know enough about them to like them or not, which is sort of my problem with them, I guess. They stayed out of the last war, but they certainly didn’t jump in to help, and they seemed to benefit quite a bit after its end.” He appraised Harry. “Even if they’re not dark, there will definitely be children and parents from dark families there.”
Harry wanted badly to scowl but settled instead for a shrug. There is no light and dark, or good and evil. Only power, and the intent with which it is wielded, he remembered but did not dare to speak aloud. For the first time, Harry thought his father naive and foolish in matters not directly related to him. “I sleep with the children of dark families.” He nearly choked on the word ‘dark’ but he managed.
James shifted uncomfortably. “Yes… but… the parents — they’re more who I’m worried about.”
“I’ll be at a public event, in the home of an extremely politically powerful neutral family and probably at the side of the Greengrass Heiress. Nobody will touch me, and that’s aside from me being the Potter heir myself.”
When Harry spoke the name “Greengrass” he saw James’s face darken again, if only for a second. He was distrustful of the Neutrals, it seemed, even if he did not outright dislike them as he did the Conservatives. Harry supposed it was fair, but if he tried to intervene in his friendship with neutral families’ children — there would be problems.
“Well…” when he paused, it came together, and Harry could have sneered. His father did not distrust him, at least not outright. He was, however, worried that Harry was too weak and naïve to resist the influences of others that could befall him at this party. He had no way of convincing James this was not the case, at least not without revealing a lot of details he would much prefer remained private. So instead, he fell back on vulnerability, something he suspected would be a good weapon against his father for quite some time.
“Please?” Harry asked, trying his best to dim the light in his eyes as he looked imploringly at his father. “My best friend is going. It would be a good networking opportunity, and I swear I’ll be careful. Please?” The word tasted vile in Harry’s mouth and he hated himself for the display, but he could practically see his father’s resolve crumble in front of his very eyes.
James sighed, and Harry watched with satisfaction as the man’s fight drained out of him. “Well… oh, all right then. Just promise me, promise me, Harry, that you’ll be extremely careful and stick with the right sort?”
Harry shot James his long-perfected disarming smile. “Of course, Father, I promise.”
October 31, 1991
The Charms Classroom
Harry’s life had fallen back into normality since his arrival back at Hogwarts after the meeting with his father.
As close to normality as he was going to get, anyway.
He had made significant progress with the Protego shield but realized it may be a long-term project, so he started learning some other additional spells as well. He just made sure to end each practice with a few minutes of work on the shield. He would have been frustrated had the spell not been so far above his current grade level.
As soon as he made his way through the tunnel back to the castle, ignoring the few rodents he came across once more, he penned a formal letter of acceptance to the Weitts family and sent it off.
In the twenty days since that letter had been sent off, Harry had been balancing his lessons with his extracurricular studies and exploration of the castle. He planned to get a bit further on the latter tonight while everybody else was at the Halloween feast.
As for the lessons themselves, they remained quite mundane. Harry had officially decided, after a fair bit of testing the true limitations of Binns’s skills in observation that he was going to start not going to history at all. Binns didn’t even do the attendance, and he would show up for tests and such when Daphne and Tracey told him they would happen, studying out of the history book itself.
The Perks of a near eidetic memory.
He had enjoyed all of his other lessons, though none more so than Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Hurst was by far his favourite teacher, and he was quite invested in the subject. Potions was fun as well. Harry often worked with Daphne and was improving very fast with her help. The book from the Restricted Section helped too. Though he knew it was petty of him, he found the frequent sight of Charlus and his group of morons getting sniped at by Snape rather entertaining. Snape was by no means Harry’s biggest supporter. He never gave Harry house points, even if he didn’t take any either. Harry never really gave him a reason to. For the most part, Snape just ignored him, but he would occasionally try and catch him out with a question out of the blue.
So far, Charms had definitely been the biggest let-down for Harry. The lessons were interesting, but they had barely done any practical work at all. The only spells they had gone over were Lumos — the spell for wand light, Tempus — the spell used to display the time, and the colour alteration charm— Colovaria.
That would change today though, a fact that had Harry rather excited as he took a seat next to Zabini, as Daphne and Tracey had chosen to sit together today. Professor Flitwick had promised them they would be working on the levitation charm, and everybody in the class seemed hell-bent to hold him to his word.
Harry knew he could perform the spell without effort, but that was not the point. Just getting to do the spell in an actual lesson in the first place was rewarding enough for him.
Flitwick gave them a long, if admittedly necessary lecture about the dangers of the spell. He punctuated his point with an odd story about a man who incanted incorrectly and wound up with a buffalo on his chest. The Slytherins all saw this for the metaphor it was. Except for Crabbe and Goyle, who looked mildly confused and a bit worried. Harry had the odd feeling that Charlus may have been in that same boat. If not him, certainly his friend, Weasley. subject together. The thought made Harry smile.
Finally, the feathers were in front of them and Harry lazily slid his wand from his holster. Zabini wasted no time as he took out his wand and attempted the charm. On the first attempt, nothing happened, nor on the second. On the third, however, the feather twitched.
“The wand movement and incantation aren’t enough,” Harry muttered absentmindedly as he moved his own feather into position. Zabini looked as if he would bite back. That was until Harry swished and flicked his wand, spoke the spell clearly, and sent his feather floating steadily into the air, where he allowed it to hover for a few seconds before slowly lowering it back down.
Flitwick was on him in a second, praising him to the moon and back for his ability and telling Harry that his mother was a sort of prodigy in the subject, prompting his stomach to give an odd jolt.
When Flitwick left their table after awarding him ten points, Zabini muttered, quietly enough that nobody else heard him, “All right, Potter. I’m listening.”
“Intent,” Harry said simply and just as quietly. “Charms isn’t that different from Transfiguration that way, even though it’s easier. You need to visualize the effect you want your spell to have, or, if you’re a bit more confident, just focus on the intent of the spell. Will your magic to do what you want it to do, don’t just wave your wand and mutter the incantation.”
Blaise nodded slowly. “That… makes a shocking amount of sense, actually.” He tried again and this time, his feather jerked a few inches off the desk before falling back down. He grinned.
Zabini, with Harry’s help, was the third person in the class to master the charm. The only other to do it faster was Daphne, who was easily the second-best in Slytherin at the subject, possibly in their year in general.
When the period was over, the first year Slytherins and Gryffindors, minus Charlus, who was excused on account of his Quidditch position, went through yet another flying lesson. It turned out that Charlus wasn’t the only Potter with prodigious skill on a broom. Harry doubted he was quite as good as his twin since he’d just not had the practice, but he was damn good, especially for somebody who had never ridden a broom before Hogwarts. The only one in the class on a par with him was Malfoy and though the other boy had cleaner technique as a whole, Harry thought he was the superior flyer out of the two of them, but he also knew all too well that his opinion was not exactly objective.
After the lesson ended, Harry waited around with the others until about thirty minutes before the feast was due to start. He, Daphne and Tracy had been working on the essay that Flitwick had assigned them, but Harry quickly stuffed everything into his bag.
“Where are you off too?” Daphne asked, not looking up from her essay.
“The dormitory, at the moment.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know what I meant?”
“Of course I did, but it’s so much fun to return vague questions with vague answers.” When he met her icy glare, he raised his hands in placation. “Ok, ok, I’m going to go exploring.”
“But the…” Daphne trailed off, realization shining in her ice-blue eyes for a split second before it was banished just as quickly. “Oh, Harry,” she muttered, setting down her essay. Tracey too seemed to have picked up on the occasion. “We can stay with you,” Daphne offered, but Harry shook his head.
“No, it’s ok. I wouldn’t want you to break your own traditions for me. I think it’s best if I’m alone tonight anyway, especially since I won’t be once we leave for Weitts Manor.”
Harry had arranged to floo over at 7:45 and Daphne at 8:00.
Daphne hesitated, but she understood better than anybody else how preconditioned Harry was to isolation, and she understood that it was not necessarily a bad thing. Surprisingly, there was a stunning amount of understanding in Tracey’s eyes. She looked almost like she knew the feeling.
“Ok,” she said with a nod, “just… don’t get too lost in your own head, ok?”
He smiled a genuine smile at her before putting his bag in the dorm and setting out on his exploration.
About thirty minutes later, in the Great Hall…
Daphne loved the Great Hall. It was perhaps her favourite room in the entire castle, at least that she had seen so far. It had a certain magical, yet homely feel to it, and she absolutely loved the enchanted ceiling and how the candlelight danced in the evenings. Tonight though, she was not quite sure what to make of the place.
On one hand, the decorations were, if one looked at them objectively, magnificent. On another, her thoughts echoed the complaints that were running up and down the Slytherin table.
It really was a disgrace to wizarding culture and a slap in the face to any who followed the old traditions.
Daphne was no muggleborn incriminator by any stretch. She could care less what somebody’s blood status was. She cared about ability and respect. She had been raised in a family that very much respected high society and pureblood culture. She did not expect the muggle-borns to bow to that tradition and follow every rule without exception, but she did expect them, if they wanted her respect, to make an effort.
The same went for muggle raised students, which was a small reason why, after allying with Harry on Grace’s recommendation, Daphne had been able to genuinely call him one of her two best friends. He wasn’t perfect, there were things he had not yet learned and such, but he had clearly made a titanic effort to integrate. Daphne knew that if she pointed out to Harry an area he had not mastered, he would make the effort to do so.
The hall though… It was so blatantly catered towards the muggle-born students that even Daphne, who found the stereotypical Slytherin sneer distasteful had to fight very hard not to wear it herself.
The hall was littered with massive orange pumpkins, and the walls contrasted between dark blacks and lurid oranges. Granted, the candles shining in the Jack O’ lanterns were certainly aesthetically pleasing, but Daphne felt insulted by the entire thing.
She didn’t have a whole lot of time much time to feel insulted, as before the feast could well and truly begin, the doors to the hall banged open, and a hysterical looking Filch staggered in, his eyes wide, almost bulging out of his head as he staggered towards the staff table. A hush fell over the hall as he fell to his knees directly in front of Dumbledore.
“Troll,” he moaned. “Goin’ up the marble staircase — no idea where to — got the hell outta there as any sensible person would.”
Then, he fainted.
The hall descended into absolute chaos before finally, Dumbledore fired off several booming fireworks from the tip of his wand to get their attention.
“Students! As we are unaware of the troll’s path, you will all be remaining in this hall until we return. To ensure nobody gets any ideas to the contrary, I shall assure the area is locked down. Prefects, it is your duty while we are gone to see to the maintenance of order inside this hall.” Then, Dumbledore swept to his feet without another word, and with the remainder of the faculty behind him, he marched straight out of the Great Hall. Daphne’s sharp eyes did notice, however, that their defence professor did not seem to be among them.
“Um… Daphne.” whispered a terrified sounding Tracey.
“We’re going to be fine, Tracey,” Daphne assured her friend, giving her hand a small squeeze under the table that was unnoticeable to any who were not closely watching.
Tracey bit her lip. “I know we are, but what about Harry?”
Daphne’s eyes widened. “Oh… oh no.”
A few minutes later, on the second floor…
Thus far, Harry’s exploration of the castle had been fruitless, but he wasn’t overly bothered as his mind was very much in other places. Half of his mind seemed devoted to theorizing over the endless possibilities of what could have been had Voldemort not decided to ruin his life on this day ten years ago. The other half of his brain was doing its best to mentally prepare him for the Weitts’s Samhain gathering, which he was more nervous for than he would care to admit.
Harry was rather skilled in social interactions as long as said interaction did not hinge on emotions, he thought. Manipulation had been an essential tool when growing up. Sweet talking a teacher not to write home, sweet-talking kids not to run off to Dudley’s gang anytime Harry upset them and so many other occasions. In saying that, he was still a natural introvert and the prospect of hours of long, painstaking discussion did not sound remarkably appealing to him. And that was ignoring the fact of how uncomfortable it would be. In saying that, it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
So lost he was in thought as he made his way down a second-floor corridor, Harry did not even notice the odd, horrid stench that reached his nostrils. Not, at least, until he rounded a corner and stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes nearly popped out of his head.
What the hell?’
Lumbering down the corridor, with its massive wooden club at its side was the largest and dumbest looking creature Harry had ever seen. He knew, from his textbook: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that this creature was a troll, but that did absolutely nothing to assure him. Quite the opposite in fact.
Damn, irony was truly a powerful force. He shouldn’t have left at Weasley for bringing up the beast at the sorting. Moreover, he definitely shouldn’t have actively thought how ludicrous the possibility of running into one any time soon was.
The universe really did work in strange ways sometimes.
Without thinking, Harry’s wand shot into his hand. He had absolutely no idea what he could possibly do against a troll, but he had to try. He could have run, but he was one-hundred per cent sure he would not make it far. Trolls may have lumbered in general, but they could be devilishly fast when they wanted to be.
‘Well, I know one thing, but do I dare try?’
He didn’t dare, at least not yet.
“Flipendo!” he snarled, flicking his wand towards the troll once it had spotted him and started lumbering in his direction.
The knockback jinx didn’t quite have the effect Harry was looking for. The troll staggered as if it had run into an invisible wall, but it was only slowed for a second.
The troll was upon him now and raising its club to strike. Harry bit out the only spell he could think of that might save him, never mind the fact he had yet to perform it well enough to make any difference, even in practice. useful.
The troll’s club slammed hard against his shield and Harry staggered backwards as his magical barrier faltered. It was weak for certain, but Harry was, even in this circumstance, so blown away by the fact he had managed one at all that he didn’t much care. The shield gave him enough time to step back and gain his distance for now, but before long, the troll smashed right through and began to lumber towards him once more.
He would have to use his last resort. It was risky — if anyone saw him — if anyone noticed him.
Vilification was better than death.
Harry raised his wand, but before he could reach for his last resort, another, strong, confident voice spoke from somewhere in front of him, behind the troll.
There was a jet of green light and a rushing sound that was indescribable. Harry could see nothing as the corridor was lit with that same, all too familiar green light. He heard a loud thud and did not need to open his eyes to know that the troll was dead.
He stood there, shaking like a leaf as all of his nightmares from the past ten years crashed over him in waves.
‘Keep it together, Potter. No screaming, no tears — not here.’
“Harry,” came the same voice from before, but softer. Harry was startled; he knew that voice, but she had never called him by his first name.
His eyes opened. The troll was, indeed, dead in front of him, but standing over it, looking at him with concern in her green eyes that still seemed to shine with an intensity that could not be described, was Professor Hurst.
I’m sorry if anybody expected more from the Harry and James meeting, but I honestly could not see that going any way other than stilted and awkward. Hence why I tried to portray exactly that.
I never explicitly say which spell Harry was going to use, but you should be able to figure it out by the end of next chapter. No, it was not the killing curse. There is no chance in hell he could cast that for so many reasons we need not get into.
Please read and review.
This chapter was revised on September 22nd, 2020 with the help of Discord editors Asmodeus Stahl and rawmeat898.
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