Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 2: The Advancing of Shadows
Chapter 7: The Dragon Wakes
September 2, 1992
The Great Hall
The morning after all the students arrived back at Hogwarts shared none of the vibrancy of the one before. The clouds were thick and grey, veiling the world in a dull sort of light. The gloomy weather threatened to sour the generally jovial atmosphere in the Great Hall that first morning back at Hogwarts, but none seemed to care. It appeared that the thrill of being back at such a magical place overrode the dreariness of the enchanted ceiling above.
Harry had been the first of his friends awake, though he hadn’t actually gone to the library. He had taken a number of books from the Malfoy family library to Hogwarts and he had spent the morning pouting over them in the dormitory before the rest of his friends rose from their slumbers.
They had needed to wait especially for Pansy, who looked somewhat like a rigid corpse despite all the effort she had clearly put in to avoid that exact visage.
“Is that even healthy?” Harry asked, watching the copious amounts of coffee stream like a waterfall into Pansy’s mug.
“I don’t care,” she mumbled. “I need it.”
“What had you up so late?” Draco asked, sounding for all the world as though he could not imagine an appropriate hypothetical.
“Was watching first years.”
Theodore smirked. “Speak up, Pansy, dear. We couldn’t hear you.”
She glared at him. “I was watching the new first years.”
“Why?” asked Harry.
“Networking,” she said tersely.
“Did you… uh, see anything interesting?”
“I did, actually. The prefects gave them a talking to, like normal, but they actually gave them things.”
“What sort of things?”
“That’s the thing, I don’t actually know. Each of the first years just got bags. I never actually got to see what was in them.”
“Odd,” said Theodore, “Yaxley and Warrington wouldn’t have struck me as the type to hand out presents.”
Cassandra and Cassius were the new fifth-year prefects. Harry found himself quite happy with the fact. That was now one third of the Slytherin prefects who he could call friends. Hopefully, it would be enough to curb any potential antagonizers from the uppear years.
Pansy just shrugged. “It could have been one of the older prefect’s ideas. Either way it doesn’t matter; I just want to know what they got.”
“A bit odd they would do it this year,” said Harry. “We never got anything like that. Do any of you know if this has happened in the last few years?”
“Not sure,” Pansy said with a gleam in her eyes, “but I plan on finding out.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Of course you do.”
Timetables came in the minutes to follow when their Head of House, Professor Snape, made his way down the table and distributed the sheets of parchment. For second years, it was the exact same schedule they had used last year. From what Harry could tell, their timetable last year hadn’t been a generic first-year schedule, but one specifically designed for those entering Hogwarts in the 1991-92 school year. It would be their timetable until the end of school; it would just become more complicated next year, when extra classes would enter the equation.
When Snape dropped Harry’s timetable in front of him, Harry expected to be ignored altogether, but the Potions Master surprised him.
Their eyes met and Harry almost shivered. The man’s glare was impressive; Harry had thought such venomous stares from Snape were reserved for the Gryffindors. It looked as though Harry had personally offended him. If he didn’t know better, he might have thought he was seeing very real anger in the man’s eyes; their eye contact was broken soon after and Snape stormed off to distribute the new first-year timetables.
Harry watched him go with a pensive expression. He wasn’t sure what he had done to Snape, but he wondered if this year he might actually grow to envy the way Snape had ignored him the entirety of the last.
September 3, 1992
The Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom
The first day of classes had been uneventful. The most consequential of their lessons had been their double period with Professor McGonagall for Transfiguration, but the class had served as mostly a review of last year’s material and a test of whether or not the students had actually done the summer reading.
Harry performed all the tasks with little effort and Theodore did quite well, too. Draco and Pansy were both less successful since Transfiguration had never been among their strengths. Crabbe and Goyle’s performances were better left unspoken of.
He had actually practiced some Transfiguration over the summer. The limited amount he could, at least. He really just worked on his own method of visualization — which had worked for him so well the previous year — but largely, he had been reading up on the theory. Its theoretical component was the most difficult of all his classes, in Harry’s opinion, so it was something he had been desperate to get ahead in. Over the holidays, he had learned that he actually enjoyed the subject more than he had realized, and had actually gotten further ahead than he’d expected — though he didn’t plan to slow down. It was easily his second favourite class after Defence Against the Dark Arts and Harry wondered just how far ahead he might be able to get in both.
Speaking of Defence Against the Dark Arts, it was their second period class that next morning. The general mood among the Slytherins seemed to largely be one of trepidation. A number of them harboured inherent grudges against Dumbledore, so the news of his brother’s hiring had not pleased a great many of them. Harry actually found himself cautiously optimistic. He knew that Aberforth would never hold a candle to his more talented brother, but he had a hard time believing that the brother of Albus Dumbledore would be incompetent.
Every member of the class was seated minutes before the bell had rung. Their professor was not yet in the room, so Harry let his eyes roam over their classroom. Last year, it had been bedecked in what would have been decor reflective of Professor Quirrell had his body not been leeched off of by Voldemort. Dark drapes had covered the windows and the room had been lit with only ominous, magical lighting. Incense had burned all around the room — supposedly in an unsuccessful bid to cover the smell of garlic. If Harry had to guess now, he would assume the failure on that front was intentional, seeing as it had not been Quirrell at all.
This year, their new professor had chosen to be much less expressive.
The windows were once again veiled, though this time they were obscured not by dark drapes but very worn-looking curtains. The walls themselves were completely bare, except for a large number of torches dotted sporadically throughout the room, casting shadows across many of the gathered faces. Harry found himself oddly reminded of a fact from science class back at his old, muggle school. Many of the faces around the room were only cast half into shadow, which brought forth thoughts of how the moon was completely dark on one side.
Their desks were lined up in simple rows one behind the other. Harry made straight for the back of the room, as was customary for him, and none of his friends had any hesitation following. Draco and Theodore, in particular, were among those most concerned by the identity of their professor.
The bell rung out before their professor entered the room. Two minutes later, the class had begun to grow impatient. Draco seemed especially agitated as he scowled and threw the occasional glare towards the door.
About a minute and a half later, the blond turned to do so again, only for the classroom’s lone entrance to fly open with a loud BANG and for Draco to very quickly force his face blank.
The man himself wore grey robes that clearly looked as though they had seen better days. They were frayed around the edges and Harry thought the seams looked as though they might split at any moment. His long, grey hair was stringy and looked unkempt, as did his beard of the same colour. Harry thought his eyes might have been every bit as blue as his brother’s, but it was hard to tell for his glasses were coated in a thick layer of dust, grime, or… something.
It was an odd dichotomy, comparing Albus to Aberforth. Albus Dumbledore’s pearly silver hair and beard only added to his usually lurid robes to form an image of a grand old man who was completely and totally in control at all times. Aberforth appeared much the opposite. His grey hair did not look grand but weathered, and his robes gave the impression of a man who had been through many hard times. It was a startling juxtaposition, but it got Harry’s attention almost at once.
“Welcome to Defence Against the Dark Arts and all the rest.” The man’s voice was gruff and a bit raspy. It gave the impression of heavy disuse. “I’m not going to spend time explaining what this class is about. If you’ve spent a year in the damn thing and haven’t figured that much out yet, it’s your own fault and not worth my time. I won’t bother talking about myself, either. I don’t want to, and I’m sure my dear brother has already said more than enough.”
The class stared. They had never had a professor like this. All who had taught them so far had been very standard in their approach. Quirrell… or Voldemort — Merlin, Harry hated that thought — had been the least of them, but even he had spoken eloquently and with great care. Aberforth seemed to care neither for them nor what they thought of him. It was refreshing, in a strange sort of way — if a bit off putting.
“Last year, I’ve been told you covered the basics. You learned what separates a jinx from a hex, and a hex from a curse. You learned some basic spells to keep you safe in a tie up and you practiced the necessities; dodging, aiming, so on, so forth. Am I correct?”
The class nodded.
Aberforth’s expression looked oddly blank before he spoke again. “Good; turns out the stutterbox wasn’t a complete waste of everyone’s time, after all.”
A number of Harry’s classmates whispered to each other and seemed confused by the way this man spoke of Quirrell.
Harry had never thought much on it, but his brain put the pieces together.
Quirrell had been a stuttering mess when they had crossed paths in the Leaky Cauldron, but he had been quite the opposite in class. It was obvious the stuttering had been an act. The way Professor Dumbledore specified that Quirrell wasn’t a waste of everyone’s time and called him a stutterbox made Harry think that the man had kept his act up around all who were not Slytherins. It was a risky move on the man’s part, but it hadn’t backfired. Then again, Voldemort had supposedly been a Slytherin long ago. He likely knew the house wasn’t about to oust the best Defence Against the Dark Arts professor they’d had in years.
“This year,” the man continued, “we’ll be building on that. You won’t be learning a ton of new spells in this class; that’s not until fourth year — apparently. I think it’s rubbish, but I don’t write the syllabus, so take it up with the ministry. We’ll be covering how your other subjects can tie into my class, and we’ll be making sure you know how to react to situations. You can’t all be high and mighty like my hero of a brother. Walking into a fight with your wand at the ready doesn’t work for everyone. There are right and wrong ways to do it.”
This actually sounded interesting to Harry, though he feared he might grow bored with it. Yaxley had him thinking through scenarios each week over the summer, so he was quite far ahead in this department already.
“But first,” said the professor, “let’s review a very important trick you all worked on last year, shall we?” His eyes scanned the room. “Malfoy!” he barked, making Draco flinch. “Up here, now.”
Draco looked like he might protest until he looked up and spotted the expression on their professor’s face. It was extremely stern-looking and certainly did not give off the impression that disobedience would be tolerated. There was also something else in the old man’s eyes. Something Harry couldn’t identify.
Draco hastened to stand and scrambled up to the front of the room. “Face me!” their professor demanded, and Draco did so. “Good, now — Dolor!”
Draco yelped as the old man’s Stinging Hex struck him square in the chest and a follow-up grazed his shoulder.
The class held their breath.
“What are you doing, you batty old man!?” Draco demanded.
“Teaching,” was the only answer Aberforth gave before firing off another two Stinging Hexes. Draco dodged these and started glaring. “Well, would you look at that? He does know how to dodge. Let’s make things more interesting then, shall we?”
By more interesting, he meant firing spells at Draco much faster and, occasionally, without incanting. They were mercifully all merely Stinging Hexes, but he had Draco at it for quite some time. By the time he was done, the boy limped back to his seat and when the bell rang at the end of the class, the stream of expletives flowing from Draco’s mouth was truly something to behold.
Harry, for his part, wasn’t sure what to think. The man had been a decent instructor once he had finished making an example of Draco, but that had been… unexpected.
Really, the whole thing had been. Harry wasn’t sure what exactly he had expected, but it most certainly hadn’t been that.
September 4, 1992
The Potions Classroom
Draco hadn’t stopped complaining about their first lesson in Defence Against the Dark Arts for the rest of the day. Harry couldn’t decide whether to laugh, or be annoyed. He could understand why Draco was upset, but did he really have to remind them and anyone else who would listen about it every thirty seconds? Some of the older students had been much less impressed and had let Draco have it vocally — which had only provoked him into an even greater temper.
His mood had not passed by the time the next morning came around and as the second-year Slytherins entered the Potions classroom, Harry wondered whether or not he even wanted to be paired with Draco right now.
Not that it mattered.
“I think not, Potter,” drawled Snape when Harry made to sit down beside Draco. “You will be partnering with Crabbe for the foreseeable future. Maybe then you won’t be able to rely on the ability of your partner, and you might actually gain something beyond a mere shred of adequacy in the subject.”
Harry seethed as he moved his things beside Crabbe. He liked the larger boy, even when he was quiet. He wasn’t the fastest broom of the bunch, but he was loyal and when he did actually speak he occasionally had a bit of humour up his sleeve.
“Sorry,” the boy muttered, looking down at the desk as though he had caused the whole ordeal. He obviously knew Harry wasn’t pleased to be brewing with him; not with the sheer number of times he had somehow managed to melt cauldrons the year before.
“It’s not your fault,” Harry muttered, presently locked in a staring contest with Snape. The man seemed to watch for any outward reaction, but Harry gave him nothing, despite the way the Gryffindors snickered on the other side of the room.
He had no idea what he had done to Snape in the first place to warrant being completely ignored while he showered anyone else in the house who so much as breathed with points for the most innocuous of things. That had been surprisingly disheartening at first, but Harry had grown accustomed to it over the course of his first year.
But this… this was an entirely different level of malice. He could deal with it — malice had been a large part of his life, after all — but it just confused him. He understood why the Dursleys disliked him. They were muggles and feared him for his magic, feared him for so many oddities they could never hope to understand. It did not at all excuse their actions, nor did it make Harry any more inclined to forgive them, but at least he understood.
The way Snape had gone out of his way to antagonize Harry and make his life more difficult for no apparent reason… that didn’t make sense.
Draco didn’t look pleased either, but Snape was paying neither of them any mind now. He had spun on his heel and silenced the still-snickering Gryffindors with a glare.
“Weasley!” he snapped. “What is the name and appearance of the most powerful truth potion our world has ever seen?”
The boy flushed. “I don’t know, sir,” he gritted out.
Harry had nearly jumped out of his seat.
The wizarding world had truth potions?
He actually shuddered, drawing a concerned look from Crabbe that he waved off. First mind reading and now truth potions? What the hell had he gotten himself into?
Snape’s lip curled. “Finnigan,” he next called upon, “what is Polyjuice Potion and why is it illegal?”
Seamus Finnigan flushed deeply. “I dunno.”
“Speak up, Finnigan, I can’t hear you.”
“I said I don’t know, sir.”
“I see.” Hermione Granger looked fit to burst. She was looking at Snape with wide, puppy-dog eyes as if begging to be called upon. “Are you impatient, Granger?” asked Snape. “Are my questions perhaps so easy you are just bursting to earn your house so much as a point?”
The bushy-haired Gryffindor was frantically shaking her head, but Snape was having none of it. “Very well, Granger. What is the potion which gives off the most alluring smell to whomever falls under its power?”
Hermione deflated, clearly not knowing the answer.
Snape tutted. “Pathetic, all of you. The most powerful truth serum in the world is Veritaserum. It is a colourless, odorless liquid, which makes it ideal for subtle use. Polyjuice Potion is illegal because it allows one person to take on the exact appearance of another. I doubt even any of you are thickheaded enough to miss the potential implications of such a potion.” He sneered at Hermione. “For your information, Granger, the potion I was referring to was Amortentia. It is the most powerful love potion in the world. Remember that; I fear you may need to make use of it in the future.
“Now,” the man continued, ignoring the stricken look on Hermione Granger’s face, “turn to page one hundred and ninety-seven in your textbooks and we will begin.”
Harry immediately realized there had been some truth to what Snape had said. His potion-brewing abilities had clearly lagged very far behind his wandwork. He was competent on his own, he thought, but he wasn’t quite good enough to prevent Crabbe from melting his cauldron. Not that many people would have been. Well, Greengrass would have — she submitted her and Davis’s potion about twenty minutes before the next person was done — but she was an exception. An incredibly irritating one right now, at that.
Harry and Crabbe had been doing well until the latter had added double the fluxweed they had needed…
Snape did not take points from them, but his sneer said a thousand words.
Harry was more than a bit bitter by the time he and his friends left the class. Pansy was rattling on about how unfair Snape had been to Harry, which was both considerate and insensitive all at once, since Crabbe was standing awkwardly off to her side. Her platitudes meant nothing to Harry, so Theodore tried a slightly less conventional method.
“Cheer up, Harry. It’s a Friday, remember?” He looked blankly back at him, as if asking what was his point. Theodore grinned. “Spell practice! I’ve learned some things over the summer, too. Maybe a mock duel or two could be interesting, while we’re at it.”
September 6, 1992
The Entrance Hall
Theodore had regretted his words that night. The gap in skill between the two of them had been very obvious by the end of last year, but it had grown by leaps and bounds over the summer and now more accurately resembled a vast chasm. Theodore might have learned some new spells, but Harry had learned many more thanks to the books in the Malfoy family library and the one Diana had given him for his birthday. He had probably just spent more time reading than Theodore and he had always been able to master spells much faster than anyone else he knew.
There was also the fact he had spent the second half of his summer being tutored by Corban Yaxley. Not only did he come from a long line of duellists, but he had spent a number of years on the professional circuit after graduating from Hogwarts. From what Harry had ascertained, it was a Yaxley family tradition. His skill had grown by untold margins too large to measure during those lessons, and beating Theodore now seemed almost boring.
The first day of the weekend had come and Harry had actually spent much of it reading. A great deal of it had been spent away from his friends in the library. He wasn’t sure what was going on with Draco, but he had known he’d needed a break from it. When he wasn’t in the library, he had been sitting with his friends near the fire — even then the book on curses from Diana had been in his hands.
That had been yesterday.
It was now the next afternoon, and Harry trudged back up towards the castle side by side with Cassius. He knew he ought to feel like he had just received the Order of Merlin after his incredible first performance on a Quidditch pitch, but he couldn’t.
Not with the way Draco had stormed off in a storming temper, ignoring his calls as he went.
Earlier that day…
Sunday morning dawned bright, and sunlight blessed them with its presence for the first time since their journey to Hogwarts. It was not a warm, glowing sun, but a deceptive one full of mischief for it only lured those out into its light and exposed them to surprisingly frigid air. It was a clear indication that the warm weather would not last forever, and to Harry, it seemed like a reminder that winter was eventually on its way.
What made the brisk temperatures and bitter winds all the worse was that Slytherin was holding their Quidditch tryouts that day. Draco complained loudly about this as he and Harry made their way out across the sloping lawns and down towards the surprisingly empty Quidditch stadium. Marcus Flint, the Slytherin team captain, had promised no spectators would be allowed in the stadium. It would give away the fact they were sporting Nimbus 2001s, and that was an advantage Flint wasn’t high on losing.
“It’s still ridiculous,” Draco said for the hundredth time. “We’re already on the team; Father made sure of that. Just give me seeker, you chaser, and be done with it.”
It turned out Marcus Flint had other ideas.
“What do you mean we have to tryout?” Draco hissed at the older boy in a fury. “My Father—”
“Said he would give us all the brooms if you and Potter got on the team. Yes, Malfoy, I know; now shut the fuck up and listen!”
Draco shut his mouth in a hurry.
“Both you and Potter are on the team. I don’t know if you can fly nearly as well as you think you can, but Warrington vouches for Potter, and I trust his judgement. Even if neither of you could outfly a sack of shit, I want those brooms too badly.”
“I said shut it, Malfoy. Your Father never said I couldn’t put you through the ringer — don’t tempt me.” Again, Draco fell quiet. “Another thing he never said was that you had to be seeker, or chaser, or whatever.”
Flint grinned in a malicious sort of way. “Neither of you can play beater — scrawny as a wand, the both of you — and Bletchley’s too good a keeper to lose. Montague’s a decent chaser, but he can get stuffed if it means we get those brooms.” His eyes gleamed. “But we do have a position open for seeker. I hate to break it to you, Malfoy, but it’s the most important position in Quidditch. I’m gonna make damn sure I pick the right person for that job and if half of what Warrington says about Potter is right, I’m not sure you’re it.
“Now,” he snapped, “up in the air, the both of you!”
Both boys mounted their Nimbus 2001s and kicked off. Draco kicked the ground so hard out of frustration that he sent dirt flying everywhere but neither of them noticed.
Back in the present…
“I just don’t get it,” said Harry, kicking at a stray stone right before they crossed the threshold and re-entered the castle proper. “What did I do to him? What have I ever done to him?”
Harry and Draco had both competed against one another in a number of seeker drills, and the outcome hadn’t been terribly close.
It became obvious quite quickly to those who didn’t know Draco that he had indeed not exaggerated his abilities on a broom. He actually would have made quite a good seeker on most teams, but it was just as obvious from the beginning that he was not going to be filling the position for Slytherin.
Harry had a natural grace that Draco couldn’t match and he was also just much more daring — a surprisingly valuable trait for a seeker. Draco had performed well and by no means had he embarrassed himself, but he had never really stood a chance.
When the decision had been made, Draco had stormed away and nothing Harry could say had snapped him out of the mood.
“You beat him,” Cassius answered simply. “Sometimes, that’s all it takes.”
“It isn’t just that, though,” Harry insisted. “He’s been weird like this for a while. Ever since my birthday.”
Cassius’s brow furrowed. “What happened on your birthday?” Harry shrugged helplessly, unsure as to where any of this had come from. “Look, Harry, don’t worry about it, alright? It’ll be fine. Malfoy just needs to swallow his pride, grow a pair, and get over it. Once he does that, all should be fine.”
Harry hoped Cassius was right, but a sinking part of him doubted the truth of his words.
They made idle small talk all the way down the stone steps leading into the dungeons, passed the serpentine decor of a corridor Harry had always thought existed simply to misdirect the other houses, and into the Slytherin common room itself.
“Cassius, Harry, come here.”
It took Harry a moment to register the voice, but he had heard it enough to remember.
“Afternoon, Cassie,” said Cassius, slumping down on the couch between her and Diana.
The female prefect gestured for Harry to take a seat on her other side, and it was he who she turned to first. “How did Quidditch pan out?”
They talked for quite some time, but eventually Cassie had to leave for her rounds as a prefect. As she stood, Harry felt something brush up against him. He wouldn’t realize until later that she had smoothly slipped a note of parchment into the pocket of his robes.
September 10, 1992
Severus Snape’s Office
Much to Harry’s relief, Cassius had actually been right in his assessment of Draco. The two of them began interacting again as normal the Tuesday after their scrum on the Quidditch pitch. Draco never apologized, nor did he mention the two days of forced separation. He seemed to treat the whole thing like it had never happened, and Harry was more than willing to do the same in return. Pansy’s eyes cut between them for most of the day as if she were expecting something to happen again.
Nothing of note happened at all in the next two days, if truth was to be told. Cassie’s note had come with the promise of duelling lessons, as her father had told Harry would be the case, but there was no schedule set. She requested he write her with a few times that would work and then she would get back to him with the final time.
That had been the last significant event — barring his make-up with Draco — that had happened until tonight.
The entire Quidditch team had received missives that morning at breakfast requesting their presence in Snape’s office that evening. After the way the man had treated him in Potions, Harry could not say he was at all looking forward to the event, but he trudged along with Draco nevertheless.
It was the first time Harry had been in the office belonging to his Head of House and he personally could have done without the experience.
Snape’s office was dark and looked to Harry more like a cave housing some sort of horror-film monster than a place where his Head of House might mark essays. The room was dimly-lit and had a sinister feel. The walls were cloaked so deeply in shadows that Harry wondered whether or not they were enchanted. Shelves bore vials of all sorts of repulsive things: animal intestines, bits of terrifying, magical plants, and even what appeared to Harry like a human brain, just to name a few. Around these shelves floated different vials containing actual potions. Their varying colours were the brightest light in the room.
Snape gave all members of the team not named Harry Potter or Draco Malfoy their Nimbus 2001s, urged them to write letters of gratitude to Mr. Malfoy, and gave them what was perhaps meant to be an encouraging speech about the glory of Slytherin house and the lofty standards that must be upheld. It came off more threatening than inspiring, in Harry’s opinion, but time would only tell whether or not it would work.
“Potter!” called Snape as they all made their way towards the room’s exit. “Stay behind!”
Draco shot a questioning look over his shoulder, but Harry shook his head. He had no idea what Snape wanted, nor how long it would take. Plus, Draco had not been pleased the last time Snape had interfered with Harry, since he had, in a sense, gotten caught in the crossfire. Given how fragile their friendship still felt, Harry thought that outright avoidance of a potential repeat was probably the best course of action he could take.
“You wanted to speak with me, sir?” Harry asked once the rest of the team had filed out of the room.
Snape scowled. “Do not overinflate your own importance, Potter. The rest of the staff may fawn over you because of a fluke many years ago, but I do not and will never hold you in such a lofty regard.” The man reached a hand into the pocket of his robes and withdrew a sealed scroll of parchment. “A message from the Headmaster,” said Snape. “Now, be gone, since I most certainly do not wish to speak with you.”
Harry left the room with a great sigh. Snape’s behaviour was going to be quite vexing if it continued, but he pushed it from his mind, far more interested in the parchment he had been given.
I thought it only right I allow you to settle in before disturbing your already full schedule. Especially now, with a Quidditch position I offer the sincerest of congratulations for.
If you are still eager, we will begin our planned lessons next Friday, on the 18th of September, at 8:00 in the evening.
If this time is for some reason inconvenient to you, please write back at once.
P.S. I adore sherbet lemons.
Harry grinned ear to ear, thankful no one was in the corridor to see him now. He had no idea what the last bit meant, but he was beyond excited. Finally, he would get to learn Occlumency, and from Albus Dumbledore, of all people.
September 13, 1992
The Quidditch Pitch
Sunday morning blossomed much like the one before, with streaming bright sunlight and vivid blue skies. The difference was that the air was more favourable. Instead of its frigid bite from the previous week, the seven robed figures making their way down towards the Quidditch pitch felt only its warm and gentle caress. A soft breeze blew across the land and the smallest of the procession thought the pleasant gusts of wind may have felt like slender fingers running through his dark, messy hair. Not that he had experience with such sensations, but it was a nice thought.
“The hell?” asked Derrick — one of the beaters — gesturing in front of them.
Up ahead, the Quidditch stadium loomed with the sun only just poking out over the highest of its seats. It was as pristine as ever, but it was not the stadium itself that had drawn the beater’s attention.
Far above the highest rows of benches, figures flew through the sky like scarlet-clad comets. Except for one of them, perched high atop his broom and standing guard over a towering set of hoops, the group resembled crimson blurs as they rocketed around the pitch. Their laughter carried in the early morning breeze. In the absence of any other noise, it reached the ears of the seven figures adorned in green and silver robes; each of them carrying their own broomsticks, set on occupying the same pitch that was now in use.
Marcus Flint cursed. “I’ll kill the lot of them; Snape booked us the pitch. When I get my hands on Wood, Gryffindor might be without a keeper.”
Given the sheer size and impressive musculature of Flint, Harry thought there really was an outside chance that might be the case if he truly did snap.
Soon enough, they all poured onto the pitch, drawing mutters from members of all four houses who were gathered in the stands. It looked like some sort of staged invasion to many of the onlookers. The Gryffindor team must have thought something similar, for a number of bodies hurtled towards the ground almost at once, intent on heading off those who they viewed as intruders.
“Flint!” Wood bellowed at the Slytherin Captain. “This is our practice time! We got up specially! You can clear off now!”
Flint’s eyes sparkled with malice in the early morning sunlight. “Plenty of room for all of us, Wood.”
The three Gryffindor chasers and the youngest Weasley had landed now, joining their captain and beaters. Johnson, Spinnet, and Bell looked oddly out of place in front of the Slytherin team, all of whom but Harry and Draco were towering males in at least their fourth year.
The Slytherins all stood shoulder to shoulder in front of Harry and Draco, completely casting the two second years in their shadow. Harry actually smirked. Shock factor was a wonderful advantage if it was used correctly.
“But I booked the field!” shouted Wood, positively spitting with rage. “I booked it!”
Ah,” said Flint, “but I’ve got a specially signed note here from Professor Snape.” Flint produced a scroll of parchment from his robes with a flourish and cleared his throat theatrically, like a muggle director calling for quiet on the set. “‘I, Professor S. Snape, give the Slytherin team permission to practice today on the Quidditch field owing to the need to train their two newest members.’”
“You’ve got new members?” Wood asked sharply, clearly distracted. “Where?”
Draco winked at Harry, plastered a broad smirk upon his face, and stepped out from behind the five large figures. His pale skin seemed to glow in the sunlight which sparkled off his platinum-blond hair — not unlike it did the dew on still-wet grass — seeming to make it shine in an unnatural manner. The image was really quite ethereal in its aesthetic, and Harry had to admit that Draco had a gift for dramatic flare.
“Aren’t you Lucius Malfoy’s son?” asked one of the Weasley twins, looking at Malfoy with dislike and completely ruining the holier-than-thou image Draco had managed to naturally conjure.
“Funny you should mention Draco’s father,” said Flint as the whole Slytherin team smiled still more broadly. “Let me show you the generous gift he’s made to the Slytherin team.”
As one, the Slytherins — minus Harry, who was still obscured by the others — raised their left arms, all of which held pristine Nimbus 2001s. If the sunlight had sparkled off of Draco’s hair, it positively danced across the golden label of the brooms, and the ostentatious lettering seemed to dance in dazzling ways though it did not do any such thing.
“Very latest model. Only came out last month,” said Flint carelessly, flicking an imaginary speck of dust from the end of his own. “I believe it outstrips the old 2000 series by a considerable amount. As for the old Cleansweeps,” he smiled nastily at Fred and George, who were both clutching Cleansweep Fives, “sweeps the board with them.”
None of the Gryffindor team could think of anything to say for a moment. Ron Weasley was opening his mouth and then closing it repeatedly, looking like a fish out of water as he stared in transfixed horror at Draco Malfoy, who was smirking so broadly his cold eyes were re- duced to slits.
“What’s the matter?” asked Cassius, feigning concern. “No reaction? Are our brooms not impressive enough for you?” He sighed. “Oh well, maybe our other new teammate will do the trick.”
Recognizing his cue, Harry took his own turn to step out into the light, maintaining a blank expression as he stared at each of the Gryffindors in turn. His appearance actually drew gasps from the three chasers and Ron Weasley looked as though he might faint.
“Oh, come now,” Cassius said patronizingly. “You don’t like your golden boy anymore now that he’s wearing green and silver? Such chivalrous loyalty, that.”
“Oh, look,” pointed out Miles Bletchley, “there seems to be a field invasion.”
Slytherins and Gryffindors alike were flooding the pitch now. Granger rushed to Weasley’s side and frantically asked what was going on, while Pansy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Theodore joined the Slytherin’s ranks, having been made aware of the early morning practice by both Harry and Draco.
Weasley had obviously said something about the brooms, because Granger’s eyes had practically bulged out of her head.
“Just noticing now, Weasley?” Draco asked in a bored, detached-sounding voice, holding his broom up to the light before shrugging. “Don’t feel too jealous, now. I’m sure the Gryffindor team will be able to raise some gold and get new brooms, too. You could raffle off those Cleansweep Fives; I expect a museum would bid for them.”
The Slytherins howled with laughter. Harry feigned a smile; laughing at the financial misfortunes of others hit a bit too deeply after ten years of being little more than a prisoner.
Granger bristled and stepped forward. At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in,” said Hermione sharply. “They got in on pure talent.”
The smug look on Draco’s face flickered. “No one asked your opinion, you filthy little mudblood!”
Harry knew all hell was going to break loose a second before it happened.
A number of Gryffindors — both team members and otherwise, went for their wands all at once. Flint tackled Draco to the ground, which was fortunate, because Ron Weasley’s spell sailed right through the space the blond had occupied not seconds earlier…
And smacked straight into the face of Pansy Parkinson.
Everyone seemed to freeze as the girl’s mouth opened wide and let out a horrible scream before slugs began pouring from her mouth by the dozen. People screamed, one or two vomited, but Harry just saw red. He forgot all about the reason the fight had been started, forgot about how he held no dislike for Ron Weasley, and even that Pansy hadn’t been his desired target.
Harry’s wand came up, seemingly of its own volition. Before he knew it, it was slashing towards Ron Weasley.
The Cutting Curse was not yet one they had learned. Judging by what Harry had heard about the Defence Against the Dark Arts curriculum, it would probably be covered in fourth year. He had read about it — in the book of curses Diana had sent him for his birthday — though this was the first time he was trying it.
A thin, jagged streak of grey light rocketed from the end of his wand and slashed across Weasley’s face before he could move.
He let out a cry of pain as a spray of crimson flowed from the wound now etched upon his skin. Harry’s aim had been true and the spell had actually severed his lip, leaving part of it hanging and causing blood to stream from it like a grotesque waterfall.
Wands were drawn everywhere and Harry threw himself to the side as jets of light shot towards him from all angles. The Slytherins were retaliating now and it was complete and total bedlam. Some people fell to spellfire, others tripped over housemates as they tried to flee, and some spells just collided in mid air, ricocheting and reflecting off of one another at terrifyingly unpredictable angles.
There was an unnaturally loud WOOSH from somewhere behind them as something flew above their heads.
It was like a thunderbolt had tumbled from the heavens, bringing with it a blinding flash of silver lighting that left everyone on the Quidditch pitch blinking stars from their vision.
Or perhaps that was the wall of concussive force that had slammed into the pitch, sending every last battling student sprawling, many of their wands tumbling from their grasps.
Groans could be heard as many students pushed themselves up onto all fours. Harry was among them. He had no idea what to expect but yet again, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor surprised him.
“All of you, off the pitch, now!” shouted Aberforth Dumbledore, glaring at all of them. “No arguments!” he bellowed when some students made to protest. “I don’t give a goat’s bollocks who started it; I’m finishing it. I’ll investigate and hand out punishments later. For now, get the hell off this pitch before I cast something else!”
That got everyone moving. Nobody wanted to know how the man would follow that up.
“Did you see that?” Harry heard some students muttering.
“What the fuck was that spell?” an upper year asked with bated breath.
Harry did not care.
Coherent thought had returned to him and suddenly, he remembered exactly how Pansy had gotten in the position she had and exactly who had started everything.
“What the hell were you thinking!” Harry stormed at Draco as soon as they entered the changing room.
All of the other team members paused and looked curiously upon the two flushing second years.
“What was I doing?” Draco asked. “You just stood there and let Weasley curse me!”
“How was I supposed to know you were going to goad the Gryffindors like a complete idiot?”
“What did you just call me?”
“Exactly what you were. We were outnumbered probably two to one by their spectators; why the hell would you start a fight?” Draco was blushing deeply, but he didn’t seem to have a worthy answer. “Exactly! There’s no reason. Yeah, let’s just use one of the most hated words in the magical world in front of a bunch of Gryffindors. Not like their house is known for chivalry, or anything. I’m sure they’ll take it just great—”
“Shut up!” hissed Draco, instinctually drawing his wand. Harry flicked his own wrist and summoned his from its holster. It slammed into his palm with a satisfying smack, but he did not raise it. He didn’t want this fight, he wanted only to vent and to be ready, just in case.
“I’m sick of this crap, Harry! You’re always right, aren’t you? It never matters what I do, or how I act? It’s always all about perfect Harry Potter. Nothing I do is ever good enough so long as you’re around, because clearly, you can do no wrong.”
“What the hell are you talking—”
“Oh, can it! Both of us know exactly what I’m talking about. Even my father doesn’t give a hippogriff’s dung about me so long as you’re around.” He sneered viciously. “I’m done with it, Potter. I tried to help you, but I’m done. If it weren’t for me, you’d be a mudblood nobody without any friends and with half their house against him.” Harry flushed with fury as his wand hand began to shake. “What? You haven’t realized the only reason the upper years are leaving you alone is because you’re best friends with me? Well, too late; I’m done. Have fun with all that.”
Before Harry could get another word in, Draco had spun on his heel in an unintentionally excellent impression of an angry Snape and stormed from the room, leaving a shellshocked Harry Potter and a thoroughly befuddled Quidditch team in his wake.
I’m sure everyone saw that conflict coming; it was really just a matter of time. I won’t reveal what’s happening with Draco, but this is not going to turn into a Draco bashing fic. He has a very set arc in this story and this is a major part of it. Please have patience and don’t immediately judge his actions too harshly. Both he and Harry are twelve and I have a feeling people are going to forget that. They actually — for the most part — act their age in this story. That is going to change pretty quickly as the fic progresses, but it hasn’t changed yet.
Oh, also… the fallout from that scene will continue next chapter.
Please read and review.
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