CoP 5

Harry Potter and the Conjoining of Paragons

Chapter 5:

By ACI100

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

Acknowledgements: Thank you as always to my editor Fezzik, as well as my betas Luq707, Athena Hope, Yoshi89 and Raven0900 for their work on this story.

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September 1, 1942

The Great Hall at Hogwarts 

7:33 PM

Harry’s legs felt like lead as he shakily rose from the stool, teetering where he stood as he looked out at the expansive Great Hall with wide, dumbstruck eyes. His catatonic reaction was ironic, for the hall reacted with far less vigour than they had in his former reality. Whispers had followed him up to the stool then, and his sorting into Gryffindor House had been greeted with tumultuous applause that could have been mistaken for repeatedly booming claps of thunder.

Despite the crowd’s not-so-notable reaction, Harry felt utterly gobsmacked. He could not believe what just happened. 

The first time the Sorting Hat tried to sort him into Slytherin, he hadn’t thought too much on the matter, except for the few weeks in his second year during which he was widely assumed to be the Heir of Slytherin. He had reasonably pushed the instance aside. He had been eleven and naive, after all. It was his initial introduction to the wizarding world. He’d known nothing at all, so surely he couldn’t take the hat’s more than subtle words into account.

This time, there was no ignoring the truth.

It was nearly three years later — ignoring the whole time travel thing — and Harry had actually been sorted into Slytherin. 

He… didn’t feel as horrified as he might have expected. 

On one hand, everything about his own time told him that Slytherin House meant bad news. Draco Malfoy had been a Slytherin, as had his idiotic goons and his moronic sycophants. There had never been a Slytherin who had treated him well, and their Head of House had gone out of his way to make Harry’s life a living hell during his three years under his rule.

All of that was true, but none of it could undoubtedly be applied to this reality, thus far.

Elena was a Slytherin, and she was Harry’s best friend. In little more than a month, she had become nearly as close with him as Ron and Hermione had been in his own world. There was no one currently alive he liked more than Elena, and the closest person was probably Slughorn. The man had his obvious flaws, and Harry was sure there was a lot more to their relationship than he was privy to. Whether any of that was true or not, he treated Harry exceptionally well. The man had stuck his own neck out for Harry and had even faked illegal documentation just to allow him to enter Hogwarts — something he was more grateful for than he could ever quantify through words or thoughts. 

And again, like Elena, Slughorn was a Slytherin. The Head of Slytherin House even. The two people who were by far closest to him in this timeline were both Slytherins. Logically, he should be happy right?

Or should he?

He had three years of hard conditioning that Slytherins were evil. Hell, Voldemort had even been a Slytherin…



Riddle was almost definitely a Slytherin.

His eyes roamed towards the silver and green table as he mechanically walked across the hall, his footsteps echoing in his ears despite the polite applause permeating the room. 

His gaze found her almost immediately.

She was seated in the dead-centre of the table, clapping along with the others, a polite smile plastered on her face. Her friends — or whatever they were — were clustered all around her, and something about the sight sent a shiver up Harry’s spine. Or perhaps that was caused by the fact Riddle hadn’t yet taken her eyes off of him for even a second. Harry couldn’t make out a gleam in her eyes particularly well from this distance, with his vision slightly impeded by all that was between them, but he could tell it was there.

This only caused him to become even more conflicted.

A part of him didn’t want to accept being sorted into Slytherin. Not after what he had gone through during his own reality. Especially not after taking into account the massive killing machine Salazar has left looming under the school. 

Riddle being in the house of snakes made this all too easy.

He still wasn’t positive she would become Voldemort. Far from it, even. She just seemed… too innocent to be a Dark Lord? Or Dark Lady, he supposed. He wasn’t sure that was the right way to think about it, but picturing her as the monster that was Voldemort was just something he found very difficult to do. 

That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be damn cautious around her.

Particularly after the meeting with Slughorn, his new philosophy on Riddle was that he was going to avoid her at all costs. If he was wrong and she did turn out to be Voldemort, he wanted nothing to do with her. Not until she became a problem, at least. At which point, he could only hope he would then have the necessary tools to deal with her. Tools he had lacked in his own world, and tools that he would endeavour to acquire.

Even if she didn’t become Voldemort, there was unmistakably an air of danger around her. There was something about her that wasn’t entirely natural. At least, he hadn’t gotten a similar feeling from anyone else he had ever met. She was also way too interested in him for his own liking. 

“‘Brilliant,’ he had said softly. ‘Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.’”

Those had been Dumbledore’s words after Harry had returned from the Chamber of Secrets. He doubted that case would be any different here. The girl had already admitted to being very good at Runes, and Slughorn seemed to practically worship her. It made sense she was likely just as brilliant as her male counterpart had been in Harry’s own time. If that was the case, Harry had… problems.

The hat had mentioned that his secrets couldn’t be gleaned from reading his mind. Not without a great deal of effort, at the very least. It hadn’t mentioned anything about somebody figuring it out though. It seemed unlikely to him, but it probably wasn’t impossible. Least of all from an actual genius and by all accounts, even with all the terrible things he had done, Voldemort was a genius. He was sure the same could be said for Emily Riddle, whether she would one day become a Dark Lady or not.

“After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.” 

Ollivander’s words to Harry during his visit to the old man’s shop before his first year at Hogwarts came to mind. If Riddle was as great as everyone — even his enemies — had been saying, then surely it wasn’t out of the question that his female counterpart could deduce exactly what was going on? Probably not with any degree of swiftness or without the opportunity to do so, but she had seemed very interested in Harry.

Had he been sorted into Gryffindor, this wouldn’t have been wholly problematic. Mildly troubling, yes, but not necessarily a problem. He assumed it would have been quite easy to avoid her.

Being sorted into Slytherin… with her as a prefect… not so much.

Especially considering both of those facts — even more so when combined — were going to give Slughorn all the excuses in the world to force them together. Harry might have been an idiot, at times, but even he hadn’t been blind enough to miss what Slughorn had been trying to do. The man had mentioned an exclusive group to him over the summer, and the meeting on the train had clearly been just that. It was clear that among his favourite pupils, Riddle was his star student. She was the one he held in the highest regard. It was natural he would want Harry to get to know her if the man really did want what was best for Harry.

If only he knew what Riddle could only become.


This nonsensical wondering was complete and utter bullshit!

Before he knew it, he was drawing near the Slytherin table and Riddle was very obviously trying to catch his eye. He had no idea where he was going to sit, but next to her would not be his first choice. It would probably be his absolute last choice, all things considered.

Mercifully, she wasn’t the only Slytherin trying to catch his eye.

A pair of green eyes off to Riddle’s right caught Harry’s attention, and he practically sagged with relief when he realized Elena had saved him a seat. He offered her a grateful smile as he walked forward, sliding smoothly into the seat beside her.

“Thanks, Elena.”

She smiled at him. “Don’t mention it. Welcome to Slytherin.”

“Happy to be here.” He wondered whether or not she could detect any bit of hesitation in his voice. If she could, there was no comment made.

In short order, the sorting ceremony concluded and piles of food of every variety suddenly filled the tables. Piles of pasta, mounds of meat, and vast heaps of vegetables dominated the table, along with assortments of other things Harry had never tried — even after his three years in the castle.

“You look tense,” noted Elena without looking at him, delicately spooning potatoes onto her plate.

He hesitated. “It’s… complicated.”

She nodded. “I think everyone is a little bit tense on the first night. It’s a lot to take in.”

That was actually a really good excuse. Harry was going to roll with that.

“I’ve never heard the name Pavonis before.” The voice came from a bit to Harry’s right. It was cool and light, but even Harry could tell it was screaming with implications. 

It belonged to a pale boy with very sharp features, dark eyes and wild black hair. His entire look was a bit wild, actually. The girl sitting beside him looked a bit tamer, but they resembled each other greatly. Same eyes, same coloured hair, same shaped face. Harry thought they might have been twins, but it was hard to say.

“What’s it to you?” he asked carefully.

The boy shrugged. “Depends on how you look at it, I guess. Names can be important things in this country. Some more than others.”

“And some things are more important than names,” Harry countered lightly.

The boy dipped his head, a smirk playing on his lips. “I can’t argue that,” he admitted, “but you can’t blame me for being curious, can you?” Harry wasn’t really that curious about this boy, but he shook his head anyway. Best to not make too many enemies on the first night. Not when so many of the upper years — at the very least — seemed to already be hanging off of Riddle’s every word. “I’m Carrow, by the way,” the boy said, “Damien Carrow. This is my sister, Victoria, heiress of the Ancient House of Carrow.”

Harry dipped his head in polite acknowledgement of her title. “Nice to meet you both. I’m Harry. Harry Pavonis.” 

Damien raised his eyebrows. “Harry, huh? I thought it was Hadrian.” 

Merlin, if somebody else called him Hadrian tonight, he was probably going to punch them in the face. “Technically, yes, but that is way too garish. I’d really just prefer it if you called me Harry.”

The boy shrugged. “If you’d like,” he agreed. 

“Are you a transfer student?” It was a different girl who asked this question. She was sitting just off to his left and had blonde hair with soft, angelic features.

He nodded. “I went to Ilvermorny in America. My parents were British but did a lot of travelling. We moved back to Europe and they died in a raid.”

She winced. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thank you.” It was as insincere as every other fake ‘thank you’ Harry had given to similar comments about the way his actual parents had died, but the girl seemed to not notice, or not care.

“Were they… the right sort?” asked Damien Carrow.

Harry had to put a great deal of effort into the internal battle he was having to fight to not roll his eyes so hard they might have fallen out of his head. Welcome to Slytherin, and here’s the blood purist nonsense that Draco Malfoy had flaunted every second of the day while he traipsed about the castle as if he was some sort of prince confidently stalking across his land.

“They were both halfbloods,” Harry said, his posture a bit stiffer than usual.

Carrow nodded curtly and turned away. The answer was clearly acceptable and he could find no real fault in it, but it wasn’t exactly what he had been hoping to hear.

Harry immediately pegged him as a complete and utter twat.

The food vanished sometime later, only to be replaced by towering masses of every sort of dessert one could ever imagine. There were enough sweet sauces, dips and the like for a battalion to drown in, and the amounts of food were so copious that Harry could only wonder what was done with the leftovers.

He was already suitably stuffed by this point, having eaten a bit in Slughorn’s compartment as well as now, but he managed to force down a bit of treacle tart before the desserts vanished too. A very weathered-looking old man rose from the golden, high-backed throne of a chair that Harry was so used to seeing occupied by Dumbledore.

This man was shorter than the current professor of Transfiguration, and he looked feebler than Dumbledore ever had, even fifty years from now. His build could, at best, be described as frail, and the slight amounts of wispy, white hair he had were sparse at most. Despite that, the man’s brown eyes still shone with a shocking amount of intelligence that none in the room could miss. Harry also found it amusing that in spite of the man’s age, he spoke nowhere near as whimsically as he remembered Dumbledore speaking in his own time.

“Good evening, everyone. I hope the summer treated you all much better than it treated me. Of course, the passing of time treats me much poorer than it does all of you, but we move on.

“A few simple rules. No magic is to be performed in the corridors, and the forest on the edge of the grounds is forbidden to all students. There are all sorts of nasty things in there, and there will be no exceptions.

“Quidditch tryouts will take place in the second week of term. See your heads of house for details about that.

“Finally, Hogwarts has the pleasure of welcoming a very esteemed new member of our staff. Some years ago, alchemy was taught by our very own Professor Dumbledore, who now, of course, teaches Transfiguration. Until now, I have been unable to find a suitable replacement, but I think I have finally managed. I would like you all to meet Professor Reginald Gress. He comes to us from America, where he is a very decorated alchemist and has numerous achievements to his name.”

Harry audibly groaned as Reginald Edward Gress took to his feet and bowed rigidly. It very much looked as though he was a man trying to act far more graceful than he really was. Harry could picture him practicing for hours in front of a mirror but just not being able to get it right. He was also still wearing the white lab coat he was bedecked in when the two of them, plus Elena, had met in Diagon Alley. That probably wasn’t helping his mobility any.

“Not this lunatic,” he muttered into his hands, which he had quickly risen to cover his face as he cast his horrified gaze anywhere but up at the staff table. He had never been so grateful that alchemy was a course offered only to N.E.W.T students continuing in both Potions and Transfiguration.

“He fixed your eyes,” Elena pointed out, though she sounded rather meek. She was unmistakably just as terrified by this anomaly of a man like Harry; she was simply more polite about it.

“And with that,” came Dippet’s voice, prompting Harry to look back up towards the staff table, “I bid you all a good night. Off you go.”

The sound of scraping benches dominated the hall as everyone slowly and dazedly stood, weighed down by the generous meals resting heavily inside their stomachs.

“I’ve never been so full in my life,” groaned Elena as the two of them made to leave the hall. Harry nodded, not at all disagreeing with the sentiment. Elena only scowled in return. “You don’t have any reason to complain! You barely ate anything compared to me!”

“Not true,” defended Harry, “I ate in Slughorn’s carriage earlier.”

“Oh,” said Elena, suddenly far less energetic. Harry remembered all of a sudden that Elena had oddly been left off Slughorn’s list of invites, even though she had apparently been at the very same meeting the year before. The revelation was very awkward, but Elena seemed to stiffen before he could say anything. 

“Come on!” she whispered, urging Harry forward as the two of them suddenly began rushing from the hall. Harry was confused until he briefly glanced back over his shoulder.

Riddle and the other fifth-year prefect — Rosier, if Harry remembered correctly from their introduction on the train — had stood, and they were shepherding the new first years towards them. More accurately, Rosier was doing that, whilst Riddle’s eyes were focused on Harry. He instinctively knew she was going to suggest he come with them since he was, in essence, a first-year.

His stride lengthened and his cadence quickened. Before he knew it, he and Elena were out of the Great Hall, and he was breathing a slight sigh of relief.

“She didn’t… do anything to you today, did she?” Harry had never heard Elena sound so… tentative. 

Well, he had, once. In Diagon Alley, minutes after their interaction with Riddle in Madam Malkin’s.

It was unnerving.

He shook his head. “She hasn’t done anything to me. She’s been perfectly polite. There’s just… something about her.” It was the understatement of the century, but he was hardly going to explain his real reasons for avoiding Riddle at all costs.

Elena nodded and said no more on the subject as they made the oddly familiar trek down to the dungeons. Of course, Harry knew where the Slytherin common room was already. He even knew what it looked like, for he had been inside it once. That had been during his second year when he and Ron had snuck in while polyjuiced to look like Crabbe and Goyle.

The thought of Ron sent what was, by now, a familiar jolt through his abdomen and into his chest, but it was duller now than it had been. At first, it had been jarring in a way that was impossible to describe, and the mere thought of either of his old friends had left him shaking. It was still unpleasant, but less so. It felt almost as though the pain was numbed by medication, or like the early jolts had been him being struck by bolts of lightning, and these were merely him sticking his finger into an electrical socket. Still far from advisable, but positively mundane by comparison.

“The common room is password protected,” Elena was saying. 

Harry frowned. “Do you know what the password is?”

She nodded. “It was in my Hogwarts letter.”

Harry’s frown deepened. That was far more organized than when he had attended Hogwarts fifty years from now.

Merlin… was that paradox ever going to become less confusing?

Soon, they came to a stretch of the wall that looked much like the rest. Except for when Elena spoke the password — sanctuary — it slid aside like a muggle sliding door, with no indication it had been there at all but the lingering sound of grinding stone.

They stepped from the lowly-lit dungeon corridor, with its low, flickering torches into the common room, which was perhaps even dimmer at this time of night. Torches were sparse in the room. They actually seemed non-existent. Magical lights floated helter-skelter about the room, glowing an odd, green colour. The black lake cast a viridescent glow over the room that made it feel more sinister, though that light was extremely dim at this time of night. Frankly, Harry wondered how there was light from the outside water at all. Perhaps some sort of magic, but it seemed excessive and unnatural. 

Then again, that also sounded exactly right, for wizards were nothing, if not excessive and unnatural.

“Come on,” said Elena, “I’ll show you where the dorms are. There are gender wards, so I can’t take you to yours, but I’m sure you can find it.”

They hadn’t beaten the prefects by much, for the entrance opened once more before the two of them could cross the common room. In fairness, their paths were impeded by a surprisingly large number of people, all of whom seemed to be conversing. Some were doing so formally, others were simply doing things as mundane as retelling the events of the summer.

Before they could get across the room, quick footsteps could be heard from behind them, and Harry realized somebody was drawing near. He turned around and had to resist the urge to reach for his wand, one that only grew when he saw exactly who it was bearing down upon him. 

“You should stay,” said Riddle. “It would be good for you to get the same speech and notes as the first years. I think it would help with your integration, and Professor Slughorn wants the transition to Hogwarts to be as smooth and as painless as possible.”

Harry really wished he had a decent retort for that; alas, he, unfortunately, did not. Riddle’s logic was annoyingly sound, and her point was delivered with the confidence, precision, and poise of a well-practiced public speaker. 

He reluctantly nodded and allowed himself to be led back into the common room. Elena shot him a furtive glance that was asking whether or not he wanted her to follow. He did, but he shook his head in the negative anyway. He could tell being around Riddle made her almost as uncomfortable as it made her. He was sure nothing would happen in the middle of the common room, and he saw no reason for her to be put in an undesirable situation when there was no need for it.

“Welcome to Slytherin House,” Riddle said when Harry and the first years had all gathered. Some of them were sitting, some were standing, but they were all positioned in front of Riddle, who stood before them like a general commanding her forces.

“This house’s key traits are cunning and ambition. The first means that anything you do must be done with a great deal of thought. Do not make hasty decisions. Think things through. Take calculated risks, and always decide whether or not the potential rewards of an action outweigh the risks. As for ambition, that’s simple as well. None of you are to settle for being decent students. None of you are to settle for being merely average witches or wizards. You have been sorted into the house of the ambitious. Live up to that reputation. Strive for greatness, try your utmost to do the best you possibly can. Both in classes and in any… other pursuits.” 

There was a sort of significance with which Riddle spoke those last words, and Harry felt his neck prickle.

“Slytherin is a house heavily driven by politics. There is a system, of sorts, but that is for you all to work out. There will be no hand-holding, though you can take small relief in the knowledge that first years are usually left out of anything too sinister.”

Harry noticed that many of the gathered first years didn’t look at all reassured by the latter part of Riddle’s most recent statement. He was sure she noticed it too, but she pressed on as if they had all accepted it as law. It was clear she was on a roll.

“This house has a long and treasured history. Beyond all else, it falls to each of you to maintain the house’s reputation to the best of your ability.” She paused for a moment. “We are also looked at in a negative light by a good portion of the school. More specifically, we have quite the rivalry with Gryffindor. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw almost always stay neutral, but at least the former nearly always sides against us if forced to pick allegiances. As such, it is important that we stay strong as a house. Any actions taken by any of you to counteract that strength will almost certainly be retaliated to by another member of the house. They are not at all accepted, especially not in public. Any disagreements and the like can be settled here.”

Translation: stay united in public and settle any disputes in the house.

“Outside of that, I’ll leave you all to work out the best. Welcome to Slytherin House, and I look forward to seeing what you all make of yourselves.”

She gestured for them all to make their way to their dorms, and they all started to do just that. Harry felt a hand on his shoulder before he could get much further, and he felt himself tense. Riddle seemed to have a very irritating habit of touching him. If she realized it bothered him, she was completely ignoring the fact.

“If you have any questions, concerns, or think I can be of any assistance, come and find me,” she told him. “Between the two of us, I probably know the castle better than any other student, and I like to think of myself as being quite academically inclined.”

Judging by the way Dumbledore had spoken about Riddle’s brilliance back in Harry’s world, he didn’t doubt that in the slightest, but he had no desire to ask for help from Riddle. He would just have to do well enough in Runes and Arithmancy that Slughorn wouldn’t need to assign him a tutor, despite the fact he’d never really studied them and was fundamentally a full year behind the others.

“Thanks, Riddle, I’ll keep it in mind,” he lied, slipping away and making off towards the dorms, feeling her intense stare on his back the entire way.

September 2, 1942

The Great Hall

8:31 AM

Harry and Elena once more sat together that next morning at breakfast, with those from their year clustered all around them. Both of them stayed relatively quiet, occasionally exchanging bits of casual conversation, but not often. They were content to sit in silence and let the others babble on. Particularly Harry, who wasn’t entirely sure who or what he was dealing with as of yet, for the most part.

Timetables were distributed about halfway through breakfast, and Harry realized at once that he was not in for an easy first day.

“Doubles in Charms and Runes?” sighed Elena. “I always hate two doubles in a day, and Runes is a bit of a hefty course.”

“Can’t say I’m looking forward to that,” admitted Harry. Runes wasn’t actually taught at Ilvermorny, so he at least had a cover for what he viewed as his inevitable ineptitude in the subject.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” said Elena. “I’m sure the professor will work with you. He’s a brutally difficult marker, but he’s always happy to answer questions and whatnot.”

Harry snorted. “Something tells me I’m going to have a lot of questions.”

But by Merlin, did he ever hope he was wrong.

If he had a ton of questions, that would mean that he might actually get paired with Riddle for tutoring, which was something he wanted to avoid as a whole.

Speaking of the devil, Riddle entered the hall alone, strolling confidently towards her group of friends, gathered at the Slytherin table… 

Until she veered slightly off course and took the seat directly across from Harry.

All around them, the conversation fell silent.

“Good morning,” she greeted, buttering a piece of toast with well-practiced precision as she smiled at them. If she wasn’t a morning person, she hid it excellently. Her appearance was as pristine as ever, and she looked just as alert like any other time Harry had seen her.

“Morning,” he answered carefully, realizing Elena wasn’t going to say anything no matter how long he allowed the silence to stretch on.

“What does your first day look like?” she asked, looking up from her toast to appraise him. Her face was the perfect mask of polite curiosity. It almost seemed too innocent. Harry felt as though she was concealing something, but he couldn’t for the life of him think what that might be. Nor could he work out why Riddle seemed at all interested in him. Frankly, if he had a newbie practically dumped on them by a professor, he would have been mildly annoyed, but Riddle seemed genuinely interested in him.

He supposed a transfer student was rare since there had been none in his time, nor did he know of any in this time. Not that such things meant a whole lot, as he knew very little about anyone in the castle — except Elena and Slughorn. Even with that in mind, Riddle’s curiosity still seemed a bit too intense to be natural. Harry just felt that he was either looking way too far into Riddle just being an extremely responsible prefect and a genuinely good person, or he was missing something crucial.

Either way, he saw nothing to do but answer her question. “Charms double in the morning, and double Runes in the afternoon.”

“I believe Runes was a subject Professor Slughorn said you might be a bit behind in?” Harry nodded reluctantly. “If you have any troubles, come and find me in the common room tonight. If you’re not comfortable with that, that’s also fine. I’ll make sure to check in with Professor Anderson when I have my first lesson on the subject tomorrow.” She stood from her chair. “Best of luck on your first day, Harry. You as well, Elena.”

As she left, Harry could only ponder at exactly what her game was and internally grumble over just how perfect she seemed, even though he was sure there were less savoury things hiding beneath the surface.

That afternoon, in the Ancient Runes classroom…

The Charms lesson that morning had passed largely without drama. It had primarily been a review of the third-year material. Charms wasn’t Harry’s best subject, by any means, but he was comfortable in it. During the summer, he had spent some time working on the subject, as well. It was only natural, as Charms were a fairly large component in duelling, which was what a large part of his time had been dedicated to.

He and Elena had been among the best performers in their year, from what he could tell. Neither of them had been the best, but they had been good.

It was pretty clear that the best in Charms for their year — at least within Slytherin — had been a girl Harry had only learned through the attendance was named Dorea Black. She was one of the people Harry had seen on the train ride to Hogwarts while in Slughorn’s compartment. She was one of the people he had seen in Hagrid’s photo album, as well as the Mirror of Erised, too. 

It was odd to see her in person, and it sent a sort of tingle up his spine. Elena had noticed something was off with him as he watched her cast, but she hadn’t pressed him. She had just asked if he was alright and moved on when he assured her he was. He was positive she wasn’t at all fooled, but she was too polite to force him to speak. That or, over the past month, she had learned that pressing him on such things was utterly pointless. Likely, it was a combination of both of those things that made her not pursue the point. Whatever it was, Harry was grateful for it.

Dorea Black had been significantly far ahead of himself and Elena. Along with Harlow Yaxley — the angelic blonde girl from the night before — the four made up the best of their class.

They hadn’t had any classes between Charms and Runes, which they had just entered. Harry was very nervous for this class, and his nerves only grew until the bell rang, and the professor looked up from the obscenely large stack of papers on his desk and stood to his feet.

He was a fairly short but well-built man with black hair. He looked to be middle-aged, and his eyes seemed to devour the room as he looked around at all of them. “Welcome back to Ancient Runes,” he said. “Or, in the case of Master Pavonis, welcome to Ancient Runes. Today isn’t going to be overly difficult, and it isn’t going to be overly interesting, either. Today, I want to see how much you retained from what we learned last year.

“For those who don’t remember, or just need a refresher, last year was spent learning a few of the basic runic languages. We started with Elder Futhark, and then we branched into Ancient Greek and Norse, as well as some South American based languages that have since fallen out of favour.

“This year, we’ll be spending more time actually working with runes. Now that the foundations are, for the most part, laid out, it is my goal to teach you all to begin applying runes in basic projects. The end-of-year project will be heavy in application this year, so everything will be geared towards that. Next year, the projects will get more advanced as we prepare you for your O.W.L exams.

“But first, today, and the review.” He withdrew a wand from his sleeve and gave it a lazy flick, causing a drawer of his desk to open and for even more parchment to float out of it. Each stack of sheets landed in front of a student, and Harry felt his heart rate quicken once more. “You’ll have half the class to complete this review,” said the professor. “I’ll then spend a few minutes marking them, then we’ll go over them together. Your time starts now.”

Harry realized he was in trouble four questions in. 

He had spent a small bit of time looking into Ancient Runes over the summer, but not nearly as much as he really should have. After the way his third year had ended, his mind had been far more focused on learning magic that would directly help him avoid or escape situations like that in the future. He had made great strides in that sort of magic, but he realized right away that he was terribly far behind in Runes. He barely knew any Elder Futhark or Ancient Greek, let alone Norse, Mayan, or any of the other languages they had been tested on.

Harry didn’t need to receive his test results to know he failed, but the grade did make his heart fall even further into the pit of his stomach.

As Professor Anderson began going over the test that now sat in front of him, Harry could only think one thought with mounting horror.

If he wanted to pass the class, he might actually have no other choice but to take any help Slughorn offered, even if that help meant interacting more with Emily Riddle.

Author’s Endnote:

Not the most eventful chapter in the world, but it set the groundwork for what is to come. The next chapter will probably cover up to the end of their first week, and then the pace will increase quite a bit. These years aren’t going to be nearly as long nor as detailed as the ones in Ashes of Chaos, but the foundations do need to be set. 

Happy holidays to my lovely Patrons reading this on Christmas Eve! I hope you enjoy all that comes with them, even despite the ongoing crisis and all that, unfortunately, comes with it.

Happy holidays and happy reading!



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