Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 1: The Fracturing of Foundations
Chapter 7: Qualitative Queries
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 1: The Fracturing of Foundations
Chapter 7: Qualitative Queries
October 31, 1991
The Headmaster’s Office
The headmaster’s office at Hogwarts was situated in one of the highest towers. It was a circular, ornate room; one that was currently dotted with the marks of its owner’s eccentricities.
The current master of this office was a very complicated man. Thus, the room was dotted with a large number of odd-looking instruments; many of them being just as complex and eccentric as the man who owned and, in some cases, had created them.
The man himself was sitting behind the large polished desk, whose surface he was drumming his fingers on. The drumming seemed to be to a rhythm only the old man himself could hear. On a perch not far from the desk, an immaculate bird was sleeping as it neared the end of its cycle.
Over the perch sat an ornate clock that made perfect sense to the wizened old warlock behind the desk. To most people, the clock would mean nothing. Which was rather ironic, because it was much less complicated than it looked.
Around its exterior, brilliant stars were situated in positions, not unlike the numbers on a typical grandfather clock. In its centre, planets slowly orbited an illustrated sun. Most of them simply stayed in their orbit for all of time, but two of them broke the distinction to float out of line, much closer to the stars dotted around the clock’s perimeter.
The clock glowed softly as Saturn shifted to align with a star that was, to muggles, in place of where one might expect the number nine to rest. In unison, Pluto aligned with the topmost star.
Almost as if the whole thing had been choreographed, there came a knock from the room’s door before the clock’s glow had faded.
“Enter,” called the man behind the desk, gently sliding a stack of parchments into one of the drawers nearest him.
The door opened and in stepped a sallow-skinned man with dark eyes and long, black hair. Without prompting, he stepped forward and took his seat across from the venerable headmaster, who straightened up once his parchments had been restored to their proper resting place.
“Ah, Severus. You are as punctual as ever. I thank you for your promptness in agreeing to such an impromptu meeting.”
“Frankly, Headmaster, I would have been concerned had you not called a meeting after tonight’s… events.”
“Yes, it has been quite the eventful night, hasn’t it?” When Snape’s expression did not so much as shift, Dumbledore frowned slightly. “I see you are not in the mood for small talk, so I will deliberate no longer.”
“Quirrell is after the stone,” Snape said in a flat tone of voice.
“Hmm,” mused Dumbledore. “An interesting hypothesis. What do you have to support such a claim?”
“He is not the man he was when he once taught at this school. I remember Quirrell as a young, naive fool who was filled with all the delusions of a perfect, harmonious world. If what I have heard about his lessons are at all true, his views have shifted drastically.” His lip curled. “As has his degree of competency. Yet only when teaching my Slytherins, it would seem. According to three-fourths of the school, he is a bumbling buffoon without a hope of getting through a lecture.”
“What of tonight’s events then? I will remind you that Quirinus was present with myself and the others throughout the whole ordeal.”
“He used Filch. The Imperius Curse, I suspect, though we of course can’t prove it.”
“And what do you think his intention was?”
“The stone,” Snape reiterated. “I don’t know if you noticed, but Filch was gone from the hall before you even left it.”
“I did notice that, yes. It was quite curious, wasn’t it?”
Snape pointedly ignored the question. “As I told you when exiting the hall, I took the time to check up on the third-floor corridor. Imagine my surprise when I saw Filch attempting to open the door.”
Dumbledore’s eyebrow rose. “Open the door? He would have needed the ability to channel magic to do such a thing.”
“Or an enchanted knife which can unlock any door that is not hidden behind the most potent of wards.” Snape levelled Dumbledore with an intense glare. “Which, as it so happens, is apparently not the case for this door. For what ungodly reason, I do not know.”
“So you think Quirinus meant to have Argus retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone?”
“Not likely. Not with the knowledge that all of the professors have set traps to prevent one from doing just that. He would have to be more foolish than I remember him to think a squib capable of such a thing. I think it much more likely that he was using Filch as a method of surveillance.” His stare turned accusatory. “Something I think you are somehow well aware of.”
Dumbledore nodded slowly. “Yes,” he said with the air of one discussing the next day’s weather. “I believe that to be a perfectly reasonable and altogether likely conclusion to the night’s events.”
“Yet you do nothing?”
“Oh, I am doing something, I assure you. There is an artifact on the way which will make Quirinus, or anyone else for that matter, much less likely candidates of ever being able to steal the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“What is this artifact?”
“I cannot say. I trust you completely, but there are some things I cannot speak of. Increasing the probability of a leak would be foolish.”
“You think I would leak your secret or that any would be capable of pulling it from my mind?”
“I am certain you would never do such a thing and I very much doubt the second to be possible. I do much prefer to err on the side of caution, however, especially when dealing with such sensitive matters as the one we have at hand.”
Snape’s face was set in a hard line and his jaw was clenched very tightly. “Very well,” he said curtly. “And what will happen until the artifact arrives?”
“I do not think a move will be made on the Philosopher’s Stone before that time comes. I rather find the possibility to be slim to none.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
“I think the cerberus will act as quite a strong deterrent. They are exceptionally rare creatures, and their weaknesses are not well-known.”
“And if Quirrell discovers the creature’s weakness?
“The only people in the world with the knowledge of how to surpass this particular cerberus are myself and Hagrid. I am certainly not telling, and I find the possibility of Rubeus sharing that secret with Quirinus an altogether unlikely one.”
Snape sneered, suddenly reminded of his now mangled leg. It had been patched up by Madam Pomfrey and he was currently enjoying the benefits of a pain relief potion; he knew exactly how formidable that beast was.
As for the staff’s ability to keep its weakness under wraps… he was less confident.
“I cannot decide whether your optimism is more enviable than it is nauseating, or more nauseating than it is enviable. It is certainly naive above all else.”
Dumbledore smiled thinly. “I sometimes think you overestimate that optimism, Severus. I do admittedly tend to see the best in most people but, if you will forgive me saying, I usually tend to know far more about those people than the individuals judging them so unjustly.”
Realizing this argument was lost, Snape changed tact. “Speaking of judgement, do you buy the story put forth by Weasley, Longbottom, and Granger?”
“I think most of it is likely the truth. If Master Longbottom really has been using his father’s wand all this time, that certainly explains some of the concerns his professors have voiced. It is fortunate that he didn’t use it longer. While the effects wouldn’t have been detrimental, they might have been noticeable, under the precisely wrong circumstances.” His eyes twinkled. “As for Miss Granger running off after a mountain troll, I find the tale as amusing as it is unlikely, though I admit I know little of the girl.”
“I didn’t believe a word of her fairytale”
“No, I certainly wouldn’t have expected you to. Nevertheless, Master Weasley is proving to be quite the interesting addition to Hogwarts.”
“He is interesting in the same way those juvenile demons he calls brothers are interesting. Interesting in the sense that they are deafeningly loud, sickeningly brash, and excessively chaotic without reason.”
Dumbledore chuckled. “Juvenile demons, did you call them?” Snape nodded stiffly. “An interesting profile for certain. I much prefer to think of them as particularly gifted students doing a remarkable job at playing the role of jester, but perhaps that’s just me.”
“No matter what you want to call them, trouble seems to follow in their very wake. The youngest boy is no exception. The path of carnage he has already left behind him in two months puts him on pace to top his brothers’ own performances, which is the last thing this school needs, especially now, of all years.” His face twisted into something ugly. “I would have expected this from Potter, but Weasley is proving more troublesome than I would like.”
“Ah yes, Master Potter. Such an interesting case. I have heard glowing reports from most of his professors, but you have yet to say a word on him in my presence. Truly, Severus, that is something I did not expect. Tell me, what do you think of him so far?”
“He has no gift for Potions. He is not an erumpent horn waiting to explode, but he is far from skillful. In that regard, he takes much more after his father than his mother.”
The way Snape carefully enunciated and emphasized every syllable of the word ‘father’ spoke volumes to how, even now, years later, he felt about the man in question.
Dumbledore’s thin smile returned. “I have seen the grades you have given him. This much, I could have judged on my own. I wanted to know what you thought of the boy. Not what you thought of the student.”
“He is… quiet,” Snape admitted. “He rarely speaks in my classroom and frankly, I am not nearly as starstruck by his imaginary prestige as the rest of you. I have much better things to do than spending my day constantly observing some overhyped brat.”
Dumbledore’s lips twitched. “Naturally.” He glanced back up at his clock. “Is that all for tonight?”
“Why is the door not more carefully warded?”
“The Hogwarts wards are quite complex. Tying potent wards into the already present ward scheme would be no small feat.” Both men knew all too well Dumbledore could do it if the need truly arose, but the man wasn’t finished. “More troubling, I am obligated to inform the Hogwarts Board of Governors about any large-scale changes I make in regards to the wards.”
A look of knowing passed between the two men and Snape inclined his head, though his expression was tight. “Very well,” he said shortly, standing to his feet. “That will be all then.”
“Do continue to keep an eye on Quirinus,” Dumbledore said idly as he pulled the stack of parchments back out from their place in the drawer. “Especially whilst he is near young Harry.”
“I will be watching,” Snape vowed, stepping out of the office with a contemplative expression marring his features.
What exactly was the real reason Dumbledore wasn’t putting up more complex wards?
November 2, 1991
The Entrance Hall
The sun had long since set by the time Neville returned to Hogwarts. He had been in Diagon Alley getting a new wand; one that was, this time, given the opportunity to choose him.
When his gran had first learned of the destruction of his father’s wand, she wasn’t pleased. Neville had been in Professor McGonagall’s office when his Head of House had made the floo call, and his gran had looked for a second as though she might spout flames with the intensity of a Hungarian Horntail.
Professor McGonagall had succinctly explained the events leading up to the destruction of Frank Longbottom’s wand whilst Neville cowered in a corner, just barely in sight of his gran’s head in the fire. To his astonishment, her tone shifted almost as soon as she learned of what had actually happened. She was still clearly distraught about her son’s wand being no more, but there was something else in her eyes and voice. It seemed somehow more positive to Neville. She had never looked at him in that way before, but it made him feel warm in a way he was not accustomed to.
Mr. Ollivander had been most pleased to see him. The old man’s memory really must have been impeccable, for he mentioned having expected Neville back in August. That only made the first-year Gryffindor boy wonder whether or not Ollivander kept track of every child’s birthday and when they would be starting Hogwarts. He supposed he might have only been doing it for the politically powerful or otherwise important children, but he somehow doubted it. Ollivander didn’t really seem the type to spend that much time on politics.
Despite the old man’s eccentricities, Neville had never been so happy as when his hand had closed around his new wand. It was made of cherry and the core was the tail hair from an old and majestic unicorn. That’s what Ollivander had said, anyway. The surge of warmth that rushed up Neville’s arm and filled his chest felt almost as though a miniature firework had been lit inside of him. It was an incredible feeling, and it was one he had never experienced with his father’s wand, which made him oddly sad.
He would still make the man proud. He was just doing it with a different wand. He liked to think Frank Longbottom would have wanted his son to succeed, and Neville had a feeling things were going to work just a little bit better this way. He was sure he wasn’t suddenly going to turn into Merlin or any such nonsense, but he also had little doubt it would help. Especially after what Mr. Ollivander had said about the wand choosing the wizard. He had stressed quite strongly it did not work the other way around.
When they had finished, Augusta had elected for a meal at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade as opposed to flooing Neville directly back into the castle.
She walked him up towards the oak front doors when they had finished, and Neville couldn’t help but notice how bright the grounds nearest to the castle were in contrast to the rest of the land around them. The hundreds of lights streaming down from windows far above might as well have been spotlights, so bright they were when their beams conjoined.
After hugging his gran goodbye and stepping into the Entrance Hall, Neville’s face broke out into a wide grin at the sight before him.
Ron and Hermione were standing outside the Great Hall, obviously having waited there since the conclusion of dinner.
It was odd how quickly the three of them had come together in the two days since their fight against the troll. Ron and Neville had been friendly before then, but they hadn’t exactly been friends, per se. Hermione had been an outsider altogether, and she had most definitely not spent time talking to Ron. Least of all after his rule-breaking nature had made him the youngest seeker in a century.
But some things just brought people together in odd ways that could never be explained. Apparently, fighting a fully-grown mountain troll together was one of them. They had basically been fused at the hips ever since, and it filled Neville with a great deal of warmth to think of how things had changed so quickly.
As did the eager, curious expressions they wore, obviously wondering how his trip to Diagon Alley had gone.
Things were really starting to look up for Neville at Hogwarts.
“Hey, mate,” Ron said in a low whisper. “We have something to tell you.”
Neville’s ears perked up. “Oh?”
“Snape’s leg is a mess… and we think we know what happened.”
And just like that, Neville’s year became far more complicated once again.
November 9, 1991
The Slytherin Common Room
Harry’s first time watching Quidditch was an experience he wasn’t likely to forget. The horde of Hogwarts students that had ascended into the stands quickly split off into four sections, each of them holding the members of one of the four Hogwarts houses. This was not a requirement in any way, shape, or form, but it was done in such a routine manner that Harry could only assume it to be a long-standing tradition.
He took his seat with Draco and the others high in the Slytherin section. They had a bird’s eye view of the pitch, and Harry watched and cheered loudly along with the rest of his housemates when Slytherin’s Quidditch team streaked out onto the pitch, being announced as the reigning champions of the past six years as they did so. Much of the school booed crudely, and Harry was forcefully reminded of what Diana had said to him about Slytherin’s disadvantages and the house loyalty they inspired whilst the two of them had stood atop the handsome balcony.
Harry watched, transfixed, as the players all mounted their brooms at centre field and took to the sky.
It was like nothing he had ever watched before.
The figures high above shot through the air at such ludicrous speeds that Harry could barely make out some of them beyond distinguishing between green and red blurs. He was thankful he had read a bit about Quidditch during the summer, or else he might have been very lost. The rules weren’t terribly complicated — except for the ridiculous number of small technicalities that were seldom relevant — but he thought he would have been so entranced by the magic of the game that he may never have grasped its rules without prior knowledge.
Less magical was the game’s outcome, at least for Harry’s liking.
It was clear that Slytherin was good, but it was just as painstakingly obvious that Gryffindor was just better. Their chasers played with coordination that left Harry dumbstruck. It was as if they knew where each other were at all times without looking. Slytherin’s beaters — two hulking boys named Derrick and Bole — were so outclassed by the Weasley twins it was almost comical. Bletchley actually was a very good keeper, from what Harry could tell, but he was clearly no match for Oliver Wood.
And then there was Ron Weasley, who looked exceptionally nervous, but slowly eased his way into the game.
Early on, he had tried to jump into the play and act as a fourth chaser. This was perfectly legal, but he didn’t do it very well. It was clear he had the talent, but he just played so erratically that he was more of a detriment than he was a help. He did eventually ease into the game but even then, he reacted to every small movement that Slytherin’s seeker — a seventh-year boy named Terence Higgs — made. Draco rightfully pointed out that all Higgs would need to do was feint Weasley into the ground. At least, that sounded pretty good to Harry. He didn’t know what it meant exactly, but it sounded impactful and useful, if a bit difficult.
Despite his shakiness, the youngest seeker in a century was obviously leaps and bounds ahead of Higgs in terms of pure flying ability.
Granted, pure flying ability was not what allowed him to make the rather bizarre catch that ended the game. As Draco would put it later, it was “The single easiest catch I have ever seen.” He had also called Weasley a talentless troll for not realizing what had happened. Harry wasn’t sure about that last part, but it was a one-off jab, so he let it go.
The snitch had apparently flown up Weasley’s sleeve as he dodged a bludger sent towards him by Matthew Derrick. He had flown around the pitch for at least another minute before realizing, and only because the snitch had apparently become bored and sought to fly out of his sleeve. Weasley had made a wild swipe for it and actually missed, but he did manage to snag it on the second attempt and before Higgs could swoop down and steal it from him.
“Ridiculous,” sulked Draco once they had later returned to the Slytherin common room. “Honestly, Higgs is completely useless! How do you lose to a seeker who doesn’t even realize the snitch flew up his sleeve?” Crabbe and Goyle snickered. “Seriously,” Draco went on, “the idiot still almost fumbled the catch.” His eyes gleamed. “Next year, when I’m on the team, I’ll be sure to make sure Weasley realizes exactly how rubbish he really is. He’ll learn he’s just a worthless little blood traitor with a bit of luck.”
“Confident, are we?” Theodore asked with a thin smile.
“I don’t need to be confident. Not when I’m flying against a bumbling buffoon on a broom.”
Pansy laughed along with Crabbe and Goyle. Theodore’s thin smile stretched just a little bit, but Harry’s did not.
“Oi!” said Draco. “Where are you off to?”
“I just need a bit of air is all,” lied Harry. “I’ve got a bad headache that I’m gonna try and get rid of.”
“I can come with you,” Pansy offered at once.
“It’s okay. As I said, I have a headache. It might actually be best if you don’t.”
He didn’t even make it all the way down the corridor before he sensed that he was being followed. This time, he wasn’t nearly as surprised to see Diana following him.
“I can leave if you’d like,” she offered. “I heard what you told my brother, but I thought you might have just been making an excuse to get away. I’ll leave if you actually have a headache.”
“It’s… okay,” Harry said unsurely.
He didn’t have a headache at all, but he wasn’t sure whether or not he wanted to be alone or whether he wanted the older girl’s company. The one indisputable positive about this way was that he could ask her questions and hopefully have them answered.
“What’s a blood traitor?”
Diana’s step faltered for but a second before she regained her composure. It seemed to Harry that they were on the path back to the balcony they had spoken on last time they had shared one of these moments.
“It’s… a derogatory term used by traditionalists to describe certain witches or wizards.”
Harry frowned. “I sort of figured that part out, but what does it mean?”
“It’s… complicated.” She chose her words very carefully as they ascended the stairs out of the dungeons. “How much do you know about wizarding traditions?”
Harry thought about that for a moment. “Not as much as I’d like,” he admitted. “I know that a lot of purebloods call Halloween Samhain, and I know that Yule is used instead of Christmas.”
“Those are good examples. Basic, but good. Others would be some of the more formal etiquette and whatnot.” Harry nodded along. “Well, a family like mine takes traditions very seriously. We follow all of the old rites and my mother, in particular, is very strict about etiquette. It’s one of the first things Draco and I were ever taught.” Harry nodded once more. “Some families like mine hold these traditions very closely, and it upsets some purebloods when others don’t follow them.” She frowned. “Even more so when people actively go against those traditions.”
“So is that what a blood traitor is?”
“Basically, yes. It’s a witch or wizard raised in our world who ignores or, in some cases, goes against them.” Diana peered warily towards him as they stepped through the passage that would lead them out onto the balcony they had occupied during their last conversation. “I’m guessing Draco said it about Weasley?”
“He did, yeah. He’s… not pleased.”
Diana’s lips twitched. “No, I doubt he is. Most in our house aren’t pleased, but I bet Draco is extra annoyed. He seemed to think father would be able to get him a spot on the house team, even though — at least until Weasley — no first year had even been allowed a tryout in decades. None of them had actually made the team in a century.”
“Yeah, he called him a talentless troll.”
Diana laughed softly as the two of them stepped out into the cool November air. “It was a very lucky catch, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. He’s a good flyer; he just needs to calm down a bit.” Harry nodded.
“All of the Weasleys are called blood traitors by a lot of purebloods,” Diana eventually told him. “They go against all of the pureblood ways, their children never follow any of the etiquette, from what I can tell, and their lord is Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.”
“The… what?” Harry had read up a bit on the Ministry and he was sure this was a part of it, but he hadn’t heard it mentioned. It just sounded like an overly ostentatious position that a self-important governing body would come up with.
“The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office,” Diana explained with a smile that was obviously threatening to become a laugh. “I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of it. It’s a sub-branch of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Everything I’ve heard about it makes it sound next to useless. Father says their office is literally an old broom cupboard, but I’m not sure if he was being serious.”
“That sounds awful!”
Diana shrugged. “As I said, the office sounds pretty useless. They don’t seem to do much. Father says it’s a wonder the Ministry even funds them. Either way, the lord of House Weasley, Arthur, is the department’s head. He’s obsessed with anything and everything muggle if what I’ve heard is true. Father calls him the ultimate blood traitor from time to time.”
“Is the word… wrong?”
Diana seemed to think about that. “Wrong in what way?”
“Like… should we be saying it?”
“It’s not the kindest word. There are worse ones, but it’s bad enough to offend someone.” She hesitated. “I don’t know if it’s wrong though. The meaning is pretty on point. There are a lot of families who go completely against the old ways. Arguments can be made that it’s done a lot of bad for the world. I’m sure there are arguments the other way too, but if the term is wrong or not in terms of what it means is sort of up to the person.”
That explanation made some sense to Harry, though he had no idea how he felt about the word’s validity. He couldn’t comprehend why anyone would act more muggle than wizard, but he wasn’t sure if that made it right.
Every muggle he had ever met had been at least partially an awful human being. Except for some spiteful Gryffindors, most of the witches and wizards Harry had met were miles nicer than any of the muggles. If he had his pick, he was going wizard all the way, and he couldn’t think for the life of him why anybody would choose differently. He could actually see why it annoyed some wizards. It implies they were worse off than muggles, which, judging on how horrid muggles were, was something Harry thought them at least a bit justified in being upset over.
Whether that made the term right or not… he wasn’t sure.
“If you want to learn more about traditions, I’d be happy to help.” Diana smiled at Harry’s eager-looking expression. “I’m sure my parents would, too. They told me to pass along an invitation to come over for the Yuletide break.”
Harry’s heart leapt into his throat. No… that wasn’t a strong enough analogy. Harry’s heart almost leapt out of his mouth. There — that was better.
“They… they did?”
Diana nodded, a sad smile playing at the corners of her lips. “They did, yes. They’re actually eager to meet you for more than a couple of minutes on a train platform. I think they’re going to send a letter about it to Professor Snape, just so he knows what to expect.”
Diana fixed Harry with a hard stare. “Just because those muggles treated you so horribly, that doesn’t mean the rest of us will.”
Her voice was soft and confident, and it very obviously broached no argument. Harry found it difficult to believe such things at all, but her tone almost made him believe it anyway.
“They were horrible people,” continued Diana. “I don’t know what they did, but I don’t need to know. I haven’t seen anything bad about you. Anyone who would treat a child like that is a monster.”
Harry nearly leapt out of his skin when her hand landed on his shoulder. He tensed, which made Diana frown, but she left her hand firmly in place.
“You’re in a better place now. None of us are going to treat you that way. You might be my brother’s best friend, and I’ve gotten along really well with you too. Hell, even Cassius likes you. Cassius doesn’t like most people.” She giggled at this last part. “He actually looked annoyed about it. Anyway, the point is, you’re wanted here. There’s no need to look so surprised.”
Numbly, Harry nodded.
“If you’re ready,” said Diana, removing her hand from his shoulder and turning back towards the castle’s interior, “we should get back inside. It’s cold out here.”
Harry nodded and they began the descent back down into the dungeons.
November 15, 1991
The Potions Classroom
The sound of simmering cauldrons began to die as the Potions class came to an end. With it went the vapour that had been hanging seductively around the room, looming persistently in the air.
“Potter!” snapped their Head of House. “Stay behind!”
Harry and Snape’s relationship since that first Potions lesson back in September could accurately be described as uneventful. Whenever possible, it seemed as though Snape tried to pretend that Harry didn’t exist. Harry thought this was blatantly unfair.
Draco, Pansy, Theodore, and basically anyone who so much as breathed whilst wearing Slytherin robes had points showered on them with the frequency of falling raindrops. Harry, on the other hand, rarely heard so much as a word from the Potions Master. It was better than the horrendous treatment of the Gryffindors, but Harry wouldn’t have been at all opposed to receiving the same preferential treatment that was received by every other member of this house.
He often wondered what he had done to offend Snape in the first place. He only ever remembered being respectful, but he somehow thought he was missing something. Even at the welcoming feast, before Harry had ever even spoken a word to the man, Snape had seemed poised and ready to despise him on principle. He supposed being blatantly ignored was better than that, but it did make him a bit bitter.
And terribly surprised that Friday morning after he was called to stay behind after their double period. It was most unlike Snape based on the trend of pretending Harry didn’t exist, and he suddenly wondered if something catastrophic had happened. He couldn’t think why else Snape might have called for a meeting, of sorts. He couldn’t think of any other reason why the man would tolerate speaking with him.
“You wanted to speak with me, sir?”
Snape’s lip curled. “Wanted is a strong word, but I think there is something you should at least be made aware of.” Snape slid open one of the drawers on his desk and withdrew a pristine-looking envelope from inside. “This,” he said, “is a letter I received from Lucius Malfoy on Wednesday. I was… surprised to learn that he had invited you to spend the Yuletide break at his home.” Snape levelled him with a hard gaze. “It would be advisable for you to send him a letter professing your… intense appreciation.”
Harry nodded quickly just as he noticed Snape’s expression become more pensive. “I think it prudent for me to inform you that accepting Lord Malfoy’s invitation may not be quite as simple as you might think.”
Harry felt confusion bubble in the pit of his stomach. “What do you mean, sir?”
“What I mean, Potter, is that you will not be permitted to leave this castle for extended periods of time without the expressed permission of your legal guardians. That doesn’t suddenly change because of the holiday season being in full swing.”
Dread closed tightly around Harry’s throat. It seemed to do its best to strangle him, as he felt all of the air torn painfully and suddenly from his lungs.
He would need to get the Dursleys’ permission to go to Malfoy Manor.
One of the things he had most looked forward to about entering into the wizarding world was the fact the Dursleys would no longer have power over him. Finding out that fact wasn’t true was actually far more crushing than the likely implications that he would be unable to accept the Malfoys’ invitation.
“I suggest you write to them,” said Snape. “Do so quickly; time is running out. Official words must be given on your holiday plans in the coming weeks.”
Harry nodded morosely as he was carelessly dismissed. He wondered if Snape understood just how crushing that proclamation had been. Or, if he did, whether or not he even cared.
November 21, 1991
Harry found himself the only member of his group in the library the Thursday after his post-Potions discussion with Snape. The Dursleys had not yet written back. Not that their answer was even remotely in doubt. The only thing that had Harry vaguely curious was whether or not they would dignify him with a response. He quietly thought they would, if only to spite him needlessly. It seemed like exactly the sort of thing Uncle Vernon would do.
Tonight, he was alone in the library because Theodore had wanted to practice spells that night. Ironically, Harry actually did have quite the nasty migraine this time. Of course, staring down at a book wasn’t particularly conducive to ridding himself of the ailment, but it was better than the cacophony of noise that was likely filling whichever room his friends were using to house their practice.
Harry was just looking over a book on Charms when a high, squeaky voice rang out from behind him. “I’m glad to see that you’re taking an interest in the theory of Charms.” Harry nearly jumped out of his chair, but he managed to maintain at least the vast majority of his composure. Flitwick obviously noticed for he offered Harry an apologetic smile. “So sorry, dear boy. I didn’t mean to scare you. Just making an observation was all.”
“It’s okay, Professor,” said Harry, feeling his heart rate slow back down to a normal level. “I just didn’t expect you, was all.”
Flitwick smiled conspiratorially. “Believe it or not, there are a great many books in this library. I doubt even Albus has come close to reading all of them. I am also a Ravenclaw at heart, so I spend more time taking books out from here than you might expect.”
Harry nodded slowly; it made sense. “What were you saying about the theory, sir?”
“Ah yes, that,” said Flitwick, straightening his posture and suddenly looking quite satisfied. “You are a remarkable student. I know Minerva has told you as much as well, and I wouldn’t doubt Quirinus has done the same.” Harry blushed, but Flitwick either didn’t notice or was too polite to point it out. Harry was hedging his bets on the latter.
“You are exceptionally talented. I would go as far as to say you have an intuitive sense for magic, which is something that I seldom see. You have been a joy to teach, but your standing in my class should actually be much higher than it is.”
Harry felt concern solidify in his chest as he stared worriedly back towards Flitwick. “Is it not good, Professor?”
Flitwick chuckled. “Oh, it is excellent, but it should be much better. As we speak, I believe you’re on a similar footing to Miss Granger; maybe just a touch or two above her.”
“You’re the top two students for your year in my class, Harry.”
He frowned. “Then how could it be better?”
“Because, with all due respect to Miss Granger, the two of you should not be close. She is remarkably intelligent; one of the brightest minds I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. Very determined, too, and she has such a curious mind.” Flitwick looked pointedly from Harry to the book sitting in front of him on the desk. “What she doesn’t have is your ability. You are very far ahead in the practical side of Charms, but there is more to magic than waving your wand and making things happen. Understanding magic is just as important as using it. That’s what lets you push further as a wizard. It’s what lets you evolve, mature, and truly master magic. Without the understanding, you will go only as far as your classes and textbooks take you.”
“Is my theory work not good, sir?”
“It’s more than passable, but it is very far behind what I would expect from someone of your ability.” His look turned reassuring when he saw Harry’s own face fall. “Your grades are still exceptional on the count of your theory alone, Mister Potter. All that I am saying is that you have the potential to be something more. You have the potential to be so much more. It is potential you won’t ever reach without putting in the work to truly understand the magic. I would hate to see such potential go to waste, and I’m sure your other professors would tell you the same thing.”
He was right, of course. Just last week, Harry had performed the Transfiguration they had been assigned with ease. Professor McGonagall had praised him. She had awarded him points and even compared him to his father, who had apparently been some sort of prodigy in the subject. What she had also said echoed what Professor Flitwick said.
“If your theoretical work ever catches up to your practical ability, you will doubtlessly be the most talented student I have ever taught.”
Harry remembered his conversation with Diana about the term ‘blood traitor’. He remembered how during that conversation, he had wondered why one wouldn’t want to learn all they could about the magical world and immerse themselves in its culture. This was his home. At the very least, he wanted to be his home more badly than he wanted anything else in the entire world. He wanted to differentiate himself from the muggles as much as he possibly could.
He could think of no better way to do that than to understand the one thing they themselves could never wield.
“I’ll try harder, Professor,” Harry vowed. “I’ll do my best to better understand.”
Flitwick smiled warmly right before he exited the room. “Jolly good! Do come to me if you ever have any questions.”
Then, he left.
December 1, 1991
The Headmaster’s Office
Albus Dumbledore looked up from his letter with a passive yet pleased expression.
“Very good,” he mused, looking to his phoenix, who seemed to be eyeing him with what he thought resembled curiosity. “It is on the way,” he told it with a soft smile, eliciting a soft note of ethereal music from the bird.
That single note warmed Dumbledore more than he could describe. His very blood seemed to heat up as his skin tingled.
But even that didn’t warm nor assure him as much as the contents of his letter.
The mirror would arrive soon.
Very heavy character chapter here. There are going to be a lot of those in this story, as a large focus of it is going to be on Harry’s psychology, but also how that reacts to those characters around him.
The next chapter will take them through winter break, and then the pace might speed up a bit.
Please read and review.
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