Harry Potter On a Similar Path (a ruthless, clever and powerful Harry Potter story)

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#1
The Threadmarks below are the corrected version of the chapters.

On a Similar Path

Harry, the ruthless and powerful wizard

This uses Tom Riddle as inspiration to how Harry develops. True, he won’t be nearly as villainous as Tom, but he will be clearly similar to him regardless.

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I don’t own ‘Harry Potter’; I also lay no claim to ‘His Dark Materials’ which is referenced in this story.

(Yes, the anachronism is deliberate. I claim artistic licence; and a canon Playstation in 1992 or so.)

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Harry had just become six years old. Most children his age were pretty carefree, even with school‘s burdens; however, Harry Potter was contemplating much heavier matters than the usual, even for adults. To be exact, he was considering dropping his efforts to impress his relatives. Why? Because he was certain they would never care.

“Aunt Petunia! Aunt Petunia!â€

“What is it, boy? Out with it!â€

“Look, my progress report! Perfect scores all around!â€

Petunia looked it over, then turned her nose up and looked to the side, whispering “far better than Dudley.†She returned to her usual shrill, loud voice. “That’s it, boy! Off to the cupboard, with no dinner! You are not better than Dudley, no matter what delusions might enter that head of yours. You hear?â€

His aunt’s reaction to a mention of a birthday party was just as bad; rather than angry and cruel, she was casually cruel (‘of course there will be no party; it’s not like something important happened’).

Even though he was awfully young, some people mature quickly. Harry realised the futility of seeking his ‘family’s’ affection; something which, for some people, might continue well into adulthood. Worse, with others, despair would set in and they likely ended up mentally broken or at least horrible (and usually malicious) shells of their previous selves.

There were also the rare people who, while significantly impacted, still functioned; and, above all, were pure of heart. Harry could have been one of those, but his patience had worn thin. Thus, while he was unbroken and not truly malevolent, he was far from pure-hearted.

‘What should I do? I’ve been studying far ahead, but since I know it won’t change anything now, I should stop. Right?’ After a bit of thinking he decided. ‘No, definitely not. I’ve put too much work into my studies to stop now -hell, I learned how to read when I was four on my own, after almost a year of effort- so why would I stop now? I won’t do it for anyone other than myself; after all, didn’t I want to read to find something to do then?’ Though, to be truthful, he started learning how to read because he saw Vernon trying to teach Dudley (in vain).

Of course, nicking Dudley’s never-used books from the second bedroom without being noticed had been a staple and a passive-aggressive form of revenge for Harry since early on.

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Our protagonist’s temper was a lot more volatile than before, due to his optimism having run dry; or it would have been, had cold calculation not held him back. In the past few months, he had progressed in the subtle arts of deception and manipulation. He was much better at acting submissive and using flattery to his advantage, and had managed to keep the Dursleys from ever denying him food, through carefully mentioning the school nurse and how inquisitive she was.

Harry prodded Petunia and managed to get her to put more vegetables and fruit in their diet, even if Dudley never touched them and Vernon only ate them on rare occasions. Another skill he had developed was ‘reading’ people; their body language, minute face twitches and mannerisms, the meanings hidden in words and other such things.

His morals, already ‘flexible’ enough, had become more something in the line of ‘don’t get caught’. Whereas before, he only took Dudley’s books and even returned them afterwards, recently, Harry had sold some of those he no longer needed as ‘slightly used’ at a shop on the other side of Little Whinging.

He used the earnings to buy a small lamp and more powerful light bulbs as a better light source for his cupboard and a flashlight, in order to better read in other dark places. Otherwise, he was pretty careful about what he did; he only ever took things from his relatives, did so on rare occasions and never directly stole money or something that would be missed.

Time went on, Harry got far more clever and deceptive in a gradual process; he progressed in his studies, reaching early secondary school work. His grades hardly reflected his progress, since even for a first grader, Harry looked especially dim; which was an apt description for his cousin, Dudley, after whom he modelled himself in class.

Close to a year had passed since Harry gave up on the Dursleys, he was nearing the age of seven and his carefully controlled emotions were about to show themselves.

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Harry was running to save himself. That school year, Dudley had taken to a game he called ‘Harry Hunting’. It involved taking his gang of junior delinquents, catching the aforementioned cousin and beating him up.

He was out of breath, so he stopped for a bit. “Huff, huff, huff. Have, I, lost them?â€

“You wish, Potter!†Said Piers Polkiss, the newest, rat-faced addition in Dudley’s gang.

Piers was the fastest of them; he very well might be the fastest in their grade -along with the next-, with the exception of Harry. Of course, Piers, Dudley and the rest of them had the advantage of numbers - so Harry, for all his cunning, speed and stamina, tended to run out of energy and get beaten up for the few weeks since Piers and his family moved to Little Whinging; even if he sometimes managed to use his stealth to hide well enough to dodge the proverbial bullet.

The beating that day was especially brutal, since Dudley was trying out his new bat. Harry knew better than to fight back, since Dudley’s parents could make his life really hard, which was why he wouldn’t push his luck. It was fortunate that the bat broke rather easily, and that Harry was surprisingly durable.

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“Potter!†Snapped the teacher, sneering. “Why do you look like that - have you been picking fights again?â€

Harry rubbed his tender skull, then spoke. “A gang of bullies were picking on me, Ms. Muggleham.†He said, anger mounting.

“A likely story, boy.†She replied, dismissing his words. “Does anyone know what truly happened?â€

Dudley immediately spoke, without bothering to wait for permission. “Ms. Muggleham! Harry tried to beat up a first-year girl and I stopped him. He tried to beat me up then, but he couldn’t.â€

“I see. Apparently, you are incorrigible, Potter. Detention for the rest of the month.†She ignored the light fading out and in repeatedly, and said her piece. “I’ll have to speak to the Headmistress; perhaps expelling you is the only solution, after all.â€

‘That- that bloody - bitch!’ Harry was trembling mildly in his rage and glaring at the fat-arse teacher. Nobody could tell for sure what happened then; the only thing that was certain was that Ms. Muggleham’s wig had disappeared somehow.

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“…So you see, Headmistress, there must be a logical explanation for this.â€

The Head of St. Grogory’s Primary School looked unmoved, but she sighed. “I suppose I cannot blame you for this, Mr. Potter,†she told him. “There is also no evidence that you ever bullied any first year girls, so I shall have to ask Mr. Dursley not to say such things.â€

Thus, Harry was spared any punishment at school. However, Dudley described what happened in class that day (the filthy snitch), so Harry was confined to his cupboard for the next four weekends. His meals, on the other hand, remained exactly the same - there is a lot to be said of the value of subtle manipulation.

The Dursleys added to Harry’s chores: breakfast became Harry’s duty, same with tending the garden. The tenuous peace he had established with his Aunt and Uncle had shattered; it was much harder to manipulate them, since they almost never spoke to him for longer than a few seconds, and usually only to… give him ‘fashion advice’ (‘Comb your hair, boy’, ‘fix those wrinkles’). They even actively tried to make him miserable, something that seldom occurred before.

So, we could find our hero inside his cupboard, once again giving deep consideration to something; in this case, the nature of Ms. Muggleham’s wig’s disappearance.

‘There’s no doubt that the Dursleys were right this time. I caused Muggleham’s wig to vanish. No, the question is “howâ€. A better question is “can I reproduce it, on purpose?†’ Harry’s mind had its gears turning at maximum speed.

After a bit of thought, he decided that either he was either some kind of mutant, or a potential magician; maybe both. Harry was reasonably certain that he had to will reality to respond to his, well, will, but needed more information. True to the boy’s character, the answer lay in books. To be exact, he would read as much fiction as possible at the school library in order to think up a way to call upon his power deliberately.

He would rather not have it respond to extreme emotions, since that would mean it could easily get out of control. Harry refused to have any more ‘accidents’. Considering Dudley usually angered him greatly, there was a chance Harry would do something to said cousin, and that might have his horse-faced aunt skewer him on a kitchen knife, or his walrus of an uncle break out his ‘secret’ shotgun.

He could want things with all his heart without anger, hatred, envy or other emotions that could get out of control being involved much, thank you very much.

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Most of what Harry read was useless for his purpose (thus quickly discarded), until he stumbled upon the series called ‘His Dark Materials’. Research forgotten, Harry was immersed into a fantastical world of sentient Polar Bears, weird truth-divining devices and, of course, a protagonist who was too fun for her own good.

He snapped out of that immersion when he reached the part describing the focus needed for the use of powerful artifacts such as the Aletheiometer and the subtle knife.

To use them, one had to reach a state of mind in which he or she was focused on one thing, but also calm and detached; they would not be forcing themselves.

From what Harry could tell, it was a form of trance-like state. It seemed like a great idea, or at least a good start. He continued reading the book series on the side, but mainly kept experimenting in an effort to use his powers consciously.

The attempts bore no fruit for quite a while. Harry only had a small breakthrough when he decided to try to transform something into something else, rather than make it disappear entirely.

Despite failing to manage anything worthwhile for over three weeks, Harry persevered. He got better and better at the trance thing, owing to daily practice and a few books on meditation and something called ‘Divination’ he read at the school library, which gave him the impression that his power was likely to be some form of magic. Until, on a literal rainy day, he managed to turn a matchstick into a sewing needle, though not a flawless one. He had got the idea for this particular combination from an elderly woman in odd robes, who was telling what looked like her grandchild that ‘At school, it’s matchsticks to needles first.’

What was even weirder was that the old woman acted like she recognised Harry from somewhere immediately afterwards, and even tipped her hat at him, which felt kind of like a violation of the rules of the universe. Petunia pulled him away immediately - another consequence of the wig incident was that he was no longer allowed to wander off on his own, and the Dursleys often had their eyes on him, which put an end to his creative acquisition of funds due to the risks involved.

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“Wake up, boy!†His aunt shouted, with her oh so sweet screech. Petunia never failed to wake Harry up at a quarter past six every morning. In a deviation from routine, she didn’t wait, and opened the cupboard’s door herself. “What in blazes-†She had seen the new addition to Harry’s ‘room’, since Harry had forgotten to switch off the light. “What is this, boy?†She interrogated, holding up the lamp.

“Wha-†Harry wasn’t exactly coherent so early in the morning.

“Don’t play innocent, Potter! Did you steal this?!â€

Harry explained that he got it at a shop with used stuff, even told her which shop it was (fortunately, he was wise enough not to buy things from anywhere near where he sold what he stole) and, when the woman demanded that he tell where he found the money and if he stole it.

“You see, Aunt Petunia, people seem to think my family is hard up on money; not in this neighbourhood, but in other parts of Little Whinging, people sometimes give me money when they see me. I didn’t refuse the gifts; that would be rude, right?†He said, twisting the proverbial knife. He wasn’t truly lying, either, since that had happened more than once, though not often enough for Harry to buy anything more than a few sweets.

Petunia’s face turned a yellowish colour, then the shades of purple Vernon was so prone to, for the first time. Her anger turned into tired resignation quickly, though. “Just- stay in here, boy. No; make breakfast, then return to the cupboard immediately.†At the moment, her already sour personality was showing in her face to the fullest extent. Anyone would agree it made for an ugly sight, including Harry, but he also thought it was a sight for sore eyes. Her suffering, that is.

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Harry’s gambit backfired, but he maintained that it was worth it, even if he no longer had any money or a light source at his cupboard. Even the flashlight had been confiscated, not to mention the light bulb the Dursleys had given him. Fortunately, he had hidden the books he had kept in a place they wouldn’t be found. There was, however, a silver lining to the situation. While he didn’t get any new clothes (God forbid!), Petunia was more careful about what hand-me-downs she gave him, and even tailored them herself.

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The next part in Project M (from Magic, which might or might not be the proper name) was, of course, to make light. Since Harry had already managed to use magic deliberately more than once (being a bit of a perfectionist, he had practised the transformation repeatedly, until he could do it in less than four seconds. He especially tried to get into the trance more quickly, but long-term practice would be necessary for serious results), it didn’t take nearly as long this time.

He did seem to have more of an affinity for transforming things (and probably making and vanishing) than anything else, which he took note of. Making a light source was fairly easy as far as magical skills were concerned; the hard parts were to keep the light there while concentrating on a book, and to modify it so that it came from somewhere above Harry, rather than his palm or index finger.

After a few more beatings from Dudley, Harry was ready to call it quits, make a skill that allowed him to travel very fast and be out of there. However, another idea came to him suddenly: They fear my powers, and potentially me. Why not give them a real reason to?

Learning how to keep his relatives in check became his top priority.

So, he started making a skill to move objects and, when that was mastered, animals. He dared not use it on his relatives until he was much better at it. His first true test? Killing Ripper by planting him into a wall, somewhere he couldn‘t be seen, of course. He made the corpse vanish and washed off the blood by making water (a skill which was obscenely difficult; he managed it after studying Chemistry a lot and months of practice).

Harry also considered something else after he was ready to try magic on his relatives: if they murdered him in his sleep, no level of magical skill would save him. So, as much as he hated what he was doing, he tried giving orders to Dudley. He failed, but had more success with giving him ‘suggestions’. Eventually, he reached a level where he could keep his cousin from remembering something which even he wouldn’t normally forget, and keep it that way for months. Undoing it immediately was another skill Harry practised.

Making Dudley do something he truly didn’t want to was easy after that, but Harry still avoided using it for anything more than practice. Mind control was something that sickened him to the core.

When he could use it on five people and make it stick for longer than two months (potentially much longer, since he didn’t take the time to see his limits yet), he suggested to Vernon, Petunia and Dudley not to ever kill him or try to. Then, the fun began.

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Please tell me what you think of this idea, and don't hold back.
 
Last edited:

zerohour

Well-Known Member
#2
This could be interesting, but there is a significant number of dark and powerful harry stories around. It's good to see that he still has some morals, but I think his first year at Hogwarts will significantly affect his development. ANy plans for where this is going to go?
 

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#3
zerohour said:
This could be interesting, but there is a significant number of dark and powerful harry stories around. It's good to see that he still has some morals, but I think his first year at Hogwarts will significantly affect his development. ANy plans for where this is going to go?
I'm thinking mentor!Flamel eventually, but both Nicolas and his wife will be pretty amoral (the Philosopher's Stone's creation is reminiscent of FMA). So yes, moral decay ensues soon enough.

This Harry, I believe, will be better off hunting down magical creatures with a magical sword or something (I intend to make him an adrenaline seeker of sorts) or even shutting himself in a lab to make magical innovations than fighting people or juggling politics.

His adrenaline seeker tendencies may land him in Gryffindor, but I don't think he would want Slytherin anyway. Maybe Ravenclaw if not a Gryff?

Edit: if you've noticed, his talents lay less in Charms and more in changing the material and such, i.e. Transfiguration, Alchemy... He will be average at flying. Also, no exceptional Runes talent and very slow pace and little talent in all foreign languages. It will take him a while to get good at Charms. But everything else should be at least well above average. (So, whether I include the fanon 'Rune Magic' or not matters little to this Harry.)

Edit2: In First Year, I'm considering having him kill Quirrell, but his first kill won't be ignored. I also have plans for the soul fragment in Harry's forehead, which you'll start seeing in the next snippet (already started writing it). Maybe I should have put this in Previews, not Ideas.
 
Harry 1

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#4
On a Similar Path

This uses Tom Riddle (and others) as inspiration to how Harry develops. True, he won’t be nearly as villainous as Tom, but he will clearly be similar regardless.

This story contains coarse language and violence!

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I don’t own the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise - J.K. Rowling does; I also lay no claim to ‘His Dark Materials’ book series which is referenced in this story (Philip Pullman owns that).

(Yes, the anachronism of 'His Dark Materials' existing in 1986 is deliberate; I moved them up ~12 years, so that the second book came out in 1984-85 and the third comes out in 1988. I claim artistic licence, and point at a Playstation in 1992 or so in canon.)

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Harry had just become six years old. Most children his age were pretty carefree, even with school included; however, Harry Potter was contemplating heavier matters, even for adults. To be exact, he was considering dropping his efforts to impress his relatives. Why? Because he was certain they would never care.

“Aunt Petunia! Aunt Petunia!”

“What is it, boy? Out with it!”

“Look, my progress report! Perfect scores all around!”

Petunia looked it over, then turned her nose up and looked to the side, whispering “far better than Dudley.”

She returned to her usual shrill, loud voice. “That’s it, boy! Off to the cupboard, with no dinner! You are not better than Dudley, no matter what delusions might enter that head of yours. You hear?”

His aunt’s reaction to a mention of a birthday party was just as bad; rather than angry and cruel, she was casually cruel (‘of course there will be no party; it’s not like something important happened.’)

Even though he was awfully young, some people mature quickly. Harry realised the futility of seeking his ‘family’s’ affection; something which, for some people, might continue well into adulthood. Worse, with others, despair would set in and they likely ended up mentally broken or at least horrible (and usually malicious) shells of their previous selves.

There were also the rare people who, while seriously affected, still functioned; and, above all, were pure of heart. Harry could have been one of those, but his patience had worn thin. Thus, while he was unbroken and not truly malevolent, he was far from pure-hearted.

‘What should I do? I’ve been studying far ahead, but since I know it won’t change anything now, I should stop. Right?’ After a bit of thinking he decided. ‘No, definitely not. I’ve put too much work into my studies to stop now -heck, I learned how to read and write when I was four to five with only some help from a librarian after close to a year of effort- so why would I stop now? I won’t do it for anyone other than myself; after all, didn’t I want to read to find something to do then?’ Though, to be truthful, he started learning how to read out of envy and spite, because he saw Vernon trying to teach Dudley (and mostly fail at the time).

Of course, nicking Dudley’s never-used books from the second bedroom without being noticed had been a staple for Harry since early on; though, recently it was more of a passive-aggressive form of revenge than about finding a way to pass the time.

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Our protagonist’s temper was a lot more volatile than before, due to his optimism having run dry; or it would have been, had cold calculation not held him back. In the past few months, he had progressed in the arts of deception and manipulation. He was much better at acting submissive and using flattery to his advantage, and had managed to keep the Dursleys from ever denying him food, through carefully mentioning the school nurse and how inquisitive she was. Not that they would, but they wouldn't have stopped Dudley from stuffing himself, grabbing everything in reach, otherwise.

Harry prodded Petunia and managed to get her to put more vegetables and fruit in their diet, even if Dudley never touched them and Vernon only ate them on rare occasions. Another skill he had developed was ‘reading’ people; their body language, small face twitches and mannerisms, the meanings hidden in words and other such things. His morals, already ‘flexible’ enough, had become more something in the line of ‘don’t get caught’. Whereas before, he only took Dudley’s books and even returned them afterwards, recently, Harry had sold some of those he no longer needed as ‘slightly used’ at a shop on the other side of Little Whinging. He used the earnings to buy a small lamp for his cupboard; also a torch, in order to better read in other dark places. Otherwise, he was pretty careful about what he did; he only ever took things from his relatives, did so on rare occasions and never directly stole money or something that would be missed.

Time went on, Harry got far more clever and deceptive in a gradual process; he progressed in his studies, reaching early secondary school work. His grades hardly reflected his progress, since Harry looked painfully average; which was an apt description for his cousin, Dudley, after whom he modelled himself in class to keep the boy from punching Harry, though Harry still beat his cousin in marks by a small margin. Okay, so maybe Dudley had a decent level of intelligence, but he was so lazy it didn't matter!

Harry also became a bit more skeptical and tended to try to ascertain the truth of things he was told, since the Dursleys lied constantly about everything, and they weren’t the only ones (recently, even Harry himself followed their example); he even questioned things he had taken as granted before. For instance, he realised that writing with his left hand had not been a mistake caused by him learning how to nearly on his own, unlike what he had assumed when his schoolteacher had corrected him when he had been in year one. Of course, after he realised that, Harry made sure to learn how to write (and how to do anything, really) with either hand equally; with the same level of skill and, if possible, simultaneously. All that thinking, though, left him wondering just how his parents had died and what they had truly been like. He couldn’t think of a way that would make his relatives tell the truth, unfortunately.

Close to a year had passed since Harry gave up on the Dursleys, he was nearing the age of seven and his carefully controlled emotions were about to show themselves.

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Harry was running to save himself. That school year, Dudley had taken to a game he called ‘Harry Hunting’. It involved taking his gang of junior delinquents, catching the aforementioned cousin and beating him up. This time, for some reason, they had managed to chase him for much longer than usual. He was out of breath, so he stopped for a bit. (*Huff, huff, huff.*) "Have, I, lost them?” Harry said to himself.

“You wish, Potter!” Piers Polkiss said, the newest, rat-faced addition in Dudley’s gang.

Piers was the fastest of them; he very well might be the fastest in their grade -along with the next-, with the exception of Harry, who was his equal. Of course, Piers, Dudley and the rest of them had the advantage of numbers - so Harry, for all his speed and stamina, tended to run out of energy and get beaten up for the few weeks since Piers and his family moved to Little Whinging; even if he sometimes managed to use his brain to hide well enough to dodge the proverbial bullet. The beating that day was especially brutal, since Dudley was trying out his new plastic bat. Harry knew better than to fight back, since Dudley’s parents could make his life really hard, which was why he wouldn’t push his luck. It was fortunate that the bat broke rather easily, and that Harry was surprisingly durable. If he had got injuries as bad as they were trying to give him, he would have found a way to make them pay, no matter the consequences.

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“Potter!” Snapped the teacher, sneering. “Why do you look like that - have you been picking fights again?”

Harry rubbed his tender ribs and bruised face, then spoke. “A gang of bullies were picking on me, Ms. Muggleham,” he said, anger mounting.

“A likely story, boy," she replied, dismissing his words. “Does anyone know what truly happened?”

Dudley immediately spoke, without bothering to wait for permission. “Ms. Muggleham! Harry tried to beat up a first year girl and I stopped him. He tried to beat me up then, but he couldn’t.”

“I see. Apparently, you are incorrigible, Potter. Detention for the rest of the month.” She ignored the light fading out and in repeatedly, and said her piece. “I’ll have to speak to the Headmistress; perhaps expelling you is the only solution, after all.”

‘That- that bloody - bitch!’ Harry was trembling a bit in his rage and glaring at the fat-arse teacher. Nobody could tell for sure what happened then; the only thing that was certain was that Ms. Muggleham’s wig had disappeared somehow.

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“…So you see, Headmistress, there must be a logical explanation for this.”

The Head of St. Grogory’s Primary School looked unmoved, but she sighed. “I suppose I cannot blame you for this, Mr. Potter,” she told him. “There is also no evidence that you ever bullied any first year girls, so I will have to ask Mr. Dursley not to say such things.”

Soon after, Harry and Dudley got a new teacher; rumour had it that Muggleham had been fired because of serious favouritism - something had also been mentioned about her husband working in a certain company, and Harry had barely heard a whispered bit about drills. Thus, Harry was spared any punishment at school, and had come out ahead. However, Dudley described what happened in class that day to his parents (the filthy snitch), so Harry was not allowed to get out of the house for the next three weekends. His meals, on the other hand, remained exactly the same - there is a lot to be said of the value of subtle manipulation.

The Dursleys added to Harry’s chores: most meals became Harry’s duty, same with tending the garden. The tenuous peace he had established with his Aunt and Uncle had shattered; it was much harder to manipulate them, since they almost never spoke to him for longer than a few seconds, and usually only to… give him ‘fashion advice’ (‘Comb your hair, boy’, ‘fix those wrinkles in your shirt’). They even sometimes actively tried to make him miserable, something that very seldom occurred before. Taking care of the garden was relaxing to Harry; the rest, not so much. So, we could find our hero inside his cupboard, once again giving deep consideration to something; in this case, the nature of Ms. Muggleham’s wig’s disappearance.

‘There’s no doubt that the Dursleys were right this time. I caused Muggleham’s wig to vanish. No, the question is “how”. A better question is “can I do it again, on purpose?” ’ Harry’s mind had its gears turning at maximum speed.

After a bit of thought, he decided that either he was either some kind of mutant, or a potential magician; maybe both. Harry was reasonably certain that he could will reality to respond to his, well, will, but needed more information. True to the boy’s character, the answer lay in books. To be exact, he would read as much fiction as possible at the school library in order to think up a way to call upon his power deliberately. He would rather not have it respond to extreme emotions, since that would mean it could easily get out of control. Harry refused to have any more ‘accidents’. Considering Dudley usually angered him greatly, there was a chance Harry would do something to said cousin, and that might have his horse-faced aunt skewer him on a kitchen knife, or his walrus of an uncle get a shotgun and shoot him with it, or beat him to death. He could want things with all his heart without anger, hatred, envy or other emotions that could get out of control being involved much, thank you very much.

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Most of what Harry read was useless for his purpose (thus quickly discarded), until he stumbled upon a series called ‘His Dark Materials’. Research forgotten, Harry was immersed into a fantastical world of sentient Polar Bears, weird truth-divining devices and, of course, a protagonist who was too fun for her own good. He snapped out of that immersion when he reached the part describing the focus needed for the use of powerful artifacts such as the Alethiometer and the Subtle Knife.

To use them, one has to reach a state of mind in which he or she is focused on one thing, but also calm and detached; not pushing or forcing themselves.

From what Harry could tell from other books, it was a form of trance-like state. It seemed like a great idea, or at least a good start. He continued reading the book series on the side, but mainly kept experimenting in an effort to use his powers consciously. The attempts bore no fruit for quite a while. Harry only had a small breakthrough when he decided to try to transform something into something else, rather than make it disappear entirely. Despite failing to manage anything worthwhile for over three weeks, Harry persevered. He got better and better at the trance thing, thanks to daily practice, help from the librarian at school, a few books on meditation he read at the school library and the book on something called 'Divination' an elderly woman who looked Indian slipped into his pocket (or so Harry thought), which gave him the impression that his power was likely to be some form of magic.

On the other hand, 'Divination' sounded a bit woolly; he wouldn't dismiss it from the get go, but anyone without the natural talent, the 'Inner Eye' was doomed when it came to predicting the future -- the book said so, in not so many words. On the other hand, apparently magic might also have more... normal parts. Harry studied as much of chemistry and physics as he could; he wasn't certain it would help, but he had no access to magical books other than the Divination one. On a literal rainy day, Harry managed to turn a matchstick into a small needle, though not a flawless one. He had got the idea for this particular combination from the same elderly woman in odd robes, who was telling what looked like her grandchild that ‘At school, it’s matchsticks to needles first, Padma. Make sure to study the laws of Tran- my word!’

What was even weirder was that the old woman acted like she recognised Harry from somewhere, and even tipped her hat at him after she said a few words in a foreign language; that acknowledgement felt kind of like a violation of the rules of the universe. Petunia pulled him away immediately - another consequence of the wig incident was that he was no longer allowed to wander off on his own, and the Dursleys often had their eyes on him, which put an end to his creative acquisition of funds due to the risks involved. He didn't know how the old woman managed to slip him that book, but he was convinced it was her; he said nothing to his aunt, of course.

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“Wake up, boy!” His aunt shouted, with her oh so sweet screech. Petunia never failed to wake Harry up at half past six every morning. In a deviation from routine, she didn’t wait, and opened the cupboard’s door herself. “What in blazes-”

She had seen the new addition to Harry’s ‘room’, since Harry had forgotten to switch off the light when he had fallen asleep practising with his powers. “What is this, boy?” She interrogated, holding up the electric lamp.

“Wha-” Harry wasn’t exactly coherent so early in the morning.

“Don’t play innocent, Potter! Did you steal this?!”

Harry explained that he got it at a shop with used stuff, even told her which shop it was (fortunately, he was wise enough not to buy things from anywhere near where he sold what he stole) and, when the woman demanded that he tell where he found the money and if he stole it, Harry took advantage of his knowledge of his aunt’s weak points.

“You see, Aunt Petunia, people seem to think my family is hard up on money; not in this neighbourhood, but in other parts of Little Whinging, people sometimes give me money when they see me. I didn’t refuse the gifts; that would be rude, right?” He said, twisting the proverbial knife and savouring the changes in expression. He wasn’t truly lying, either, since that had happened more than once, though not often enough for Harry to buy anything more than a few sweets.

Petunia’s face turned a yellowish colour, then the shades of purple Vernon was so prone to, for the first time. Her anger turned into tired resignation quickly, though. She said, “just- stay in here, boy. No; make breakfast, then return to the cupboard immediately.”

At the moment, her already sour personality was showing on her face to the fullest extent. Anyone would agree it made for an ugly sight, including Harry, but he also thought it was a sight for sore eyes. Her suffering, that is. That would teach her not to only give him castoffs as clothes.

-----

Harry’s backtalk backfired, but he still thought that it was worth it just to see Petunia's face, even if he no longer had any money or a light source at his cupboard. Even the torch had been confiscated! Fortunately, he had hidden the books he had kept and money he had left in a place they wouldn’t be found. There was, however, a silver lining to the situation: while he didn’t usually get any new clothes (God forbid!), Petunia was more careful about which hand-me-downs she gave him, and even tailored them herself.

Yup, worth it.

-----

The next part in Project M (for Magic, which probably was the proper name) was, of course, to produce or attract light. Since Harry had already managed to use magic deliberately more than once, it didn’t take nearly as long this time. Being a bit of a perfectionist, he had practised the transformation repeatedly, until he could do it in less than four seconds. He especially tried to get into the trance-like state more quickly, but months or years of practice would be necessary for serious results. He did seem to have more of an affinity for transforming things (and possibly making and vanishing) than anything else, which he took note of. Making a light source was extremely easy as far as magical skills not of the transforming variety were concerned; the hard parts were to keep the light there while concentrating on a book, and to modify it so that it came from somewhere above Harry, rather than his palm or index finger.

After a few more beatings from Dudley, Harry was ready to call it quits, make a skill that allowed him to travel very fast and be out of there. However, another idea came to him suddenly: They fear my powers, and maybe me too. Why not give them a real reason to? It might make them less terrible. So, he started making a skill to move objects and, when that was mastered, animals. He dared not use it on his relatives until he was much better at it. His first true test? Killing Ripper by planting him into a wall, somewhere he couldn’t be seen, of course.

He made the corpse vanish (which made him feel as if he lacked sleep) and washed off the blood by making water (which made him feel as if he had jogged for over an hour), a skill which was obscenely difficult; he had managed it after studying the sciences a lot, especially about the composition of the atmosphere and chemical composition of water, and months of practice. At first, he had tried to use the vapour in the air, but he had felt as if he had burned himself on and even inside his hands and torso immediately afterwards (like his blood and skin had turned into lava at certain places); it was agonizing, and worst of all, it took a while to pass, though cold compresses helped a bit. He hadn't even succeeded beyond splashing himself with a few drops! Not to mention the terrible migraine!

He was wary of water spells from then on; after he had no longer felt the burning seven days of no magic use later (and waiting three more days without magic because he had been shaken and wanted to be certain), he tried a different way: he tried making water by combining two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen, repeated many times in the same second... which at least didn't cause him any suspicious burning sensations, nor did it cause him a headache immediately. He was a lot more aware of his limits from then on, though -- he always made sure to stop casting at any hint of a burning feeling on or in his body.

After killing Ripper, not smirking in front of Marge had been an immense challenge, but her face was still worth it when she couldn’t find her precious sweetie anywhere. She blamed Harry anyway, but even Vernon considered that 'irrational', as he put it. Making sure he could control how much force he put so that he didn’t accidentally kill anybody was going along fairly well - even if he maimed his aunt and uncle a bit, he wouldn’t truly mind, though, because it was their fault for Dudley being like that, and able to get away with beating up Harry. In the course of making his new skills, the most-likely-a-magician discovered other ones, such as how to summon an object to his position, though summoning made him tire mentally really quickly. He also made sure to have the extra skills to be able to manage what he wanted without problems.

Harry also considered something else after he was ready to try magic on his relatives: if they murdered him in his sleep, no level of magical skill would save him. So, as much as he hated what he was doing, he tried giving orders to Dudley. He failed, but had more success with giving him ‘suggestions’ on what to do, what to remember and when. Eventually, he reached a level where he could keep his cousin from remembering something which even he wouldn’t normally forget, and keep it that way for months. Undoing it immediately was another skill Harry practised.

Making Dudley do something he truly didn’t want to was easy after that, but Harry still avoided using it for anything more than practice. Mind control was something that sickened him to the core; his intelligence and free will was something he had been certain couldn't be taken away. To find out that there might be someone out there who could make his mind not be his own horrified him - normally, he wouldn't even wish that on his relatives. Unfortunately, he didn't exactly have good solutions. By this point, he realised he was stalling. When he could use his suggestion magic on five people (the Dursleys, and Piers and Gordon from Dudley's gang) and make it stick for longer than two months (potentially much longer, since he didn’t take the time to see his limits yet), he 'suggested' to Vernon, Petunia and Dudley not to ever kill him or try to; it wouldn’t even occur to them and if someone else suggested it, they would by extremely likely to refuse. Then, the 'fun' part began.

-----

“Aunt Petunia, please give me back my money and lights,” said Harry, stating rather than pleading.

Petunia seemed taken aback, but she sneered immediately afterwards, moving the hand with the empty frying pan to and fro. “Out of the question, boy. Now go to your cupboard.”

“I think I will stay right here, thank you very much, Aunt Petunia.” Harry answered, a light sneer also present.

She screeched something about a lack of respect and how she would teach him manners. Petunia once again moved the frying pan as she spoke.

Harry smiled (probably in a way similar to complete and utter psychopaths), lifted his left hand and magically drove his aunt into a wall, back first. She started screaming bloody murder, so the young magic user floated the pan above her, then struck her in the ribs repeatedly with it to silence her. However, Vernon came running to the kitchen, panicking horribly, and Dudley’s thundering footsteps echoed through the entire house. When the man noticed Harry looking pleased over Petunia’s injured frame, he immediately came to rather accurate conclusions and dove for his nephew’s arm-

Then fell upon something reminiscent of an invisible wall generated through Harry‘s right hand, a disgusting noise resounding as his nose broke and bled freely. The 'wall' spell had been the hardest for Harry to master -- it took him many months and tired him out mentally something fierce; it even affected his body, making him tired. Even now, Harry had to put a lot of effort into not showing his fatigue and looking confident and ruthless; Vernon was stronger than Harry had expected. Dudley was magically immobilized before he could snap out of the shock, and Harry gagged him with a handkerchief, since he hadn’t found a way to make someone shut up using magic yet. He also looked his Uncle in the eyes and gave him a vision of Marge dead to keep him docile, though the boy wasn’t sure how realistic he had made it. In the aftermath of the beating, only Vernon’s broken sobs and knuckles striking the ground, Petunia’s own sobs occasionally interrupted by wet coughing and Dudley’s muffled screams could be heard, with a boy who had hopefully returned to looking like a well-adjusted child a couple months off his eighth birthday making no sound.

When Harry spoke, his voice was quiet and calm. It didn’t need to be any louder, he knew. “Things need to change here, and will. I have tolerated you three being poor excuses for human beings long enough, and have to lay down some ground rules.
One: you never take my things. That is a shortcut to making me angry, and you wouldn’t like me angry.
Two: you never try to hit me, because I will return it a hundredfold.
Three: you never try to make me miserable; I’m a merciless little shit, and you’ll eventually pay.
Four: you are hopefully intelligent enough to understand what would displease me - things that displease me are a big ‘no’, though you may ask if unsure.
Five: Live and let live. Nod if you understand.”

He looked his relatives over when he finished speaking, relishing in their fearful looks and squashing down his guilt, mild physical fatigue and moderate headache. He could worry about going too far and recovering his stamina later - he had to make sure nothing was suspected at the moment, since he had roughed them up pretty badly. Harry smirked as he got an idea, and the Dursleys all cringed. He permanently modified Dudley’s memories to remember that his parents had been fighting very intensely, and 'suggested' that the boy go to a friend to stay for the day. Vernon was protesting very strongly, and Harry made the man’s arms move in a punch, likely breaking several knuckles as the fists struck the floor very forcefully; Harry had really improved his fine control when it came to moving things, even though humans were harder to move than dogs.

“Now, now, Uncle Vernon. I’m not going to do anything to Dudley, so don’t get your knickers in a twist; I am not stooping to your level. Of course, that also depends on your behaviour, right?”

-----

Harry was thinking over what he had done to his relatives and one thing stuck out: I could have been less violent. Even breaking a vase might have been enough to scare his relatives into submission, considering the fact that they feared the supernatural. Harry decided to be less violent in the future. If someone tried to treat him the way his relatives used to, though, he would still be utterly ruthless; only the method of his retribution would change and be more subtle. He went to sleep, mostly undisturbed by nightmares.

-----

Harry got out of the ophthalmologist’s office whistling, clad in clothes that were brand new and far from rags. He had a bit of trouble seeing the blackboard at school, and so got his uncle to take steps. An optometrist would have been fine, but Harry wanted to make sure he had no serious problems (which he didn’t). The doctor claimed that it was lucky he had visited early on, since without spectacles or ill-fitting ones, his eyesight would likely worsen at a greater rate. The elder Dursleys had considered trying to tell someone of Harry’s behaviour, but when they realised what Dudley remembered of that day, they backed off. Harry had spied on their talks, but the fact that the threat was also directed on their son eventually sank in, so his aunt and uncle stayed on their best behaviour.

Dudley had to be treated to an aura of instinctive terror, as Harry called it -an easier to cast variant of illusions- more than once to learn; Harry was unwilling to beat him up or return his memories of the incident. His cousin, though a bully, was more a victim of his foolish parents than anything, and Harry didn't want to risk Dudley telling anyone. More recently, Harry had had cause to think that someone was in his head, though he tried really hard not to panic. Since the time he had beaten up his relatives, a mental voice had been trying to get him to kill people. Fortunately, it wasn’t very subtle, thus easily noticed. Still, Harry couldn't even begin to guess why it was there - he was glad that the voice didn't manage to control him, but the more he thought about it, the more paranoid he became about his thoughts being his own.

The voice could also become really annoying (the lack of subtlety actually made Harry less paranoid). So, Harry sought ways to annoy it back. Mimicking a kitten worked wonders; whistling at high frequency was even better. Those usually got the voice to back off, though when he dealt with Dudley, it was more persistent. Also, since the voice appeared, his magic had been harder to use - to be exact, the spells needed better mental focus to use, which was also harder with the distracting presence in his head. The slightest mistake or loss of concentration could and would make the spell fail, and some -like his Torture Vision, what he used to make Vernon see Marge dead- were unavailable at the moment; he also had a loss of both power and control as a result.

Harry was certain the voice and his weakened magic were related. His recent project had become a lot harder, which was to use magic not with his hands, but the rest of the body too. He still could try, but only basic transformations had a chance of working, and even those hadn’t worked yet. Which was a far cry from being able to get light from any part of his body like before. He didn’t give up though, even if he had less time on his hands. He had been accepted into a secondary school, after a month of showing his teachers what he could do uninhibited. In fact, Harry would only go through the last few years of schooling; he had been given a pass on the rest, after a lot of effort and convincing. Of course, while he would be known as a child prodigy, his name was kept off the papers at his request.

“H- Harry,” Petunia addressed him for the first time in a while. “I need to tell you something.”

The boy raised his eyebrows. That was new. “By all means, then.” Pathetic. This woman would be better off dead

“I know you want to skip ahead a few grades, but please keep your name, ours and the location of this house off the public eye. Maybe even use a pseudonym and a disguise.”

Harry was intrigued; he did not think his aunt would pass on the opportunity to get fame.

“Does this have anything to do with the reasons you think I won’t be able to finish schooling from the age of eleven on?”

When Petunia flinched, he knew that he had hit the nail on the head. “Never mind. You can tell me whenever you like,” Harry said, shrugging it off; he wouldn't concern himself with the human-shaped piece of garbage. Force her to tell everything. It’s safer for you

“So, you’ll do it?” Petunia pressed, with a bit of disbelief mixed in.

She will backstab you at the first opportunity “Of course. I can tell you have a good reason, and will trust my gut this time; but if there’s a catch, there will be no mercy to be found from me.”

Harry hoped that he had injected the right amount of menace in his voice. Too much and his relationship with his aunt would worsen further (which might mean she would become more annoying), too little and she might think to test him.

Petunia cleared her throat. “You don’t need to tell me that you are a little psychopath. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

She left after saying that, with Harry remaining thoughtful, ignoring the whispered part of her words.

‘She didn’t sound deceptive and didn’t stutter in fear again, even if she’s getting a little uppity. All in all, this went well.’

His relationship with his aunt remained distant, with Petunia fearing and distrusting him; filthy Muggles he could also see the bitterness and disgust was as strong as ever. Strangely enough, Harry actually got along with Vernon decently, despite what the boy had done. The man had embraced the saying ‘live and let live’, at last, after Harry promising not to mess with their minds again and actually apologising. It might also have something to do with how Harry never seriously harmed Dudley, and that he had no problem taking care of a large portion of the housework. He had also shown that he wouldn’t constantly hang his powers over their heads - nowadays, he never needed to threaten them, or at least Vernon and Dudley.

He got along with his cousin, but it was a bit awkward, since Harry actually remembered his own brutality and Dudley was clueless. First though, to do something about that blasted voice in his head! Since he had started annoying it back, it had abandoned what little subtlety it was able to muster up.

-----

“Vernon,” Petunia told her husband, “we need to talk. Now.”

The man nodded in agreement, though Petunia could see he braced himself for a difficult conversation.

“Why are you so… accommodating to the boy? Especially after what he did!” Petunia said. She continued by saying, “don’t tell me he… bewitched you?!”

Vernon shook his head in the negative. He said, “This is not about facing Harry. It’s about myself, Petunia.”

“What do you mean?” Petunia asked, confused and wary.

“When Harry was tormenting me with images of Marge dying, he lost control for a bit; at least, that is what I assume happened,” Vernon said.

Petunia scowled - she hadn’t known that- that the freak’s violence had gone beyond the physical (apart from the intimidation factor). In fact, the two of them hadn’t talked about that day at all.

“Anyway,” Vernon said, “for a few moments there, I saw myself as I truly was; and let me tell you, Pet, I really didn’t like what I was seeing. I got a glimpse of what I looked like from Harry’s perspective. But what cinched it for me was the signs he showed.”

“What signs?” Petunia asked, “signs of being a psychopath?”

“Not exactly,” Vernon replied, “rather than worrying Harry will be an axe murderer, I’m more concerned about him becoming like the one who murdered his parents, or like Hitler except with m-magic. He needs some positive interaction in his life, Petunia - preferably before he loses the few moral scruples he still has.”

Petunia made a sour face. She said, “even if you have a point, I can’t bring myself to treat him like you are, Vernon. Could we simply agree to disagree on that?”

Vernon nodded. He said, “all right; just don’t anger him too much. I don’t want you to get hurt again.”

Petunia's face softened and she nodded as well.

-----

School started in less than a month; Harry had skipped many grades and would start with the second year of Key Stage 4 - that is, with fifteen-year-olds as his classmates, at most sixteen-year-olds. Thus, he would go through the last year of compulsory education, along with two extra years. The school he was about to go to technically had a very low admission age, even if nearly all who had entered it thus far had been eleven. His magical practice had come to a halt in favour of suppressing the murderous, alien voice in his head (and to read the third book in His Dark Materials series, which had just come out). His otherwise brilliant solution of annoying it to near-catatonia hadn’t worked for long, after all. The only point he had to go off was that extreme negative emotions made things easier for the creepy voice.

Again, the boy sought out fiction. After all, anything magic-related (he couldn’t call what he was involved with anything else; after all, it was the word ‘magic’ that made Vernon and Petunia clam up faster than anything else, not to mention the references in the Divination book) was widely considered to be fiction. The meditation methods he had already learned helped, but he needed something more. Failing to find something especially useful, Harry turned to anger management advice. Along with his meditation and taking up football, the voice was mostly silenced and his magic got easier again, though not quite as easy as it used to be. Still, he thought something was missing from his methods to isolate the horrible voice.

With the relative clarity of thought suppressing the murderous voice brought (not to mention that the voice was clearly magical and it being isolated may have kept it from direct interference against his magic), Harry managed to channel his spells through places other than his hands again after more practice, though not as well as before. His feet were the hardest, as in ‘all but impossible’.

-----
-----

Yeah, this Harry is brutal. It might be that it seems worse to me because I wrote it, or that I tried to go for realism and not the usual fanfiction depictions of violence. (Harry is characterised like this on purpose, including the minimal initial guilt in case you’re wondering. No, the soul fragment had nothing to do with it, it awoke just after.)

It’s written in British English because I know it decently well and, anyway, why not.
 
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Harry 2

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#5
This is terribly time-skippy (between chapters 1 and 2, not within this -chapter 2- itself), but I've kept this in editing hell for long enough.

I intend to revisit Ch. 1 at some point because of very valid points made by the members of SB, though.

Harry calls Dumbledore a poof in his thoughts, which is a British slang term for a gay man, and a bit insulting. No offence meant by the author to real-life gays.

TFF ate my formatting, so no italics or bold.

-----
-----

‘So, that’s what I’ve been waiting for,’ Harry thought. He had graduated early from what Mike (his American teammate in the football team) called High School and taken his A-levels, expecting he would have to stop to get magical education, but the letter had surpassed all of his expectations. They sound barking mad, those Romans- I mean magicals, though. Well, those kinds of people were the most fun, in Harry's opinion – sanity was overrated.

Of course, there were some problems too – mainly the fact that the owl had left and he had no way to communicate with the most likely, by her name, Scottish Deputy Headmistress. He could hardly send it through the normal channels, and he didn’t know if any owl could qualify or only a ‘special’ species. Normal channels? Wait. Could it be that simple? Did wizards and witches have people in the Post Office who made sure to reroute magical mail? 'It’s worth a shot,' Harry thought. It wasn’t like he couldn’t be discreet, after all. He ended up addressing the letter to Minerva McGonagall, Hogwarts School of W and W and sent it through the nearest Post Office. He also made sure to make the letter extra vague, just in case someone tried to read it – the magicals liked their secrecy; otherwise, the existence of magic would be common knowledge.

-----

Harry had let the educational authorities know that he would only continue on to a University once he was eighteen, telling them an excuse regarding him wishing to study with his age-mates this time. Which wasn't even a complete lie; a few people tried to bully him at school, but he always escaped. Later, a lot of bad luck seemed to befall them; one of them called him a freak, tried to put his head in a toilet, which earned the guy a punch in the bollocks and, worst of all, that guy sabotaged his learning! That person nearly died when he fell from a relatively great height and landed on his head. He survived, but would likely never leave his wheelchair. All that had landed Harry a reputation as a bringer of bad luck or jinx or whatever and soured him on studying with people older than him.

Unfortunately, government officials kept bothering him about continuing his education; one of them even covertly threatened to have his name and location released to the papers, though she probably thought the threat flew over his head... it was a pity she had a terrible accident afterwards – her car turned out to have had its brakes sabotaged (thanks for the information on how cars work, Uncle Vernon! Who says bonding with one's uncle is not productive?) ; she happened to be literally driving downhill when she discovered the fact, and she wasn't a good (or at least cool-headed) enough driver to find a way to reduce the impact, so she and her partner were both killed, slamming onto a huge boulder. After that, there was an investigation, but there was no real evidence that pointed to him – needless to say, though, that there were no more government officials afterwards.

Harry didn't know how to feel about his first human kill(s) – he didn't actually enjoy killing, except for Ripper, which was an uncontrollable monster that should have been put to death years before he killed it. By the time he finished his 'normal' education, though, he had realised from interrogating (for as long as he could stand her, which was not much) and eavesdropping on his aunt that his life may well depend on his secrecy, same with Dudley's and Vernon's lives, so he did what he must. He didn't much care if his aunt were to die, but still, a jumped up government worker wouldn't threaten what was his, bloody fucking damn it! The voice had made a return then, extremely gleeful, but Harry somehow managed to make it shut up by imagining a drill burrowing its way into a human skull. Crude Legilimency, the voice had let slip, but Harry had little context for it.

It started bothering Harry in his sleep, or so he thought from what he remembered of his dreams. The only other thing he could remember from his dreams was something like a lullaby, red hair and a flower-like smell; once that started appearing, the nightmares became less frequent.

-----

After the bell ringing, Harry opened the door to see an extremely short man with a grey, nearly white mid-length beard framing the man’s face and somewhat long hair of the same colour doing the same, though in the middle of the head, he was bald, which showed when he tipped his hat to Harry. He had laugh lines around his mouth and generally seemed like a cheerful, easy-going old man. His robes covered everything from the neck down and everything he had on, including the hat, was green.

“Hello Mr. Potter. My name is Filius Flitwick, the Professor of Charms at Hogwarts; I’ve been sent to help you with getting your school supplies, as you requested,” the man said, introducing himself.

“It’s nice to meet you Professor Flitwick. I’m Harry Potter, though you already knew that,” Harry said, not thrown off much by being addressed by name.

“Yes, the benefits of fame, right Mr. Potter?” The man said with a wink.

“Fame? What do you mean by that, Professor?” Harry asked, dread settling in.

It had been a long time since he had felt the thrill of such strong emotions until recently, but this was the second time since the letter came. That was one of the reasons why he liked playing football (yes, it's called football, not soccer! Shut up Mike!) so much, despite not being especially talented in it; the adrenaline rush... it was something that he couldn't feel often in his life.

Flitwick’s hat left his head again, this time because the man -rather theatrically, Harry thought- fell onto his arse. “My word, Mr. Potter. I knew you were raised away from the Wizarding World, but I hardly expected- I mean, you know how your parents died, right?” Flitwick said.

“They were attacked by a madman, right? That much I got from my aunt, though she was reluctant to speak much about that,” Harry said, though he left out the fact that he had had to eavesdrop to find out and that she was reluctant to speak to him at all.

Flitwick reluctantly nodded. He said, “technically correct, though he was far more than a simple madman. He was one who terrorised our entire society; You-Know-Who was a very powerful and skilled wizard, and commanded the loyalty of a small but formidable army.”

The man went on to explain the War between the Dark wizard’s forces and the Ministry for Magic, spanning from the early seventies to 1981 – though it was the short version, as he admitted, himself. Flitwick reluctantly told Harry that the Dark wizard called himself the Dark Lord Voldemort; he was obviously terrified of the madman.

Harry decided to make sure he would look him up, as well as what was written about Harry himself. He hoped that the magicals wouldn’t expect him to be a saint, but he also suspected it was a vain hope – Harry knew people in general, and he doubted magical people would be any different.

-----

“Here, Mr. Potter! My name is Doris Cro-”

“Harry Potter, in the flesh! Oh Merlin-”

“It’s so very nice to meet-”

Harry most likely had a very ugly expression on his face. He was astonished, but mostly, he was disgusted by the way those simpering morons were acting. He had thought himself wise, predicting how wizards and witches would see him, but he severely underestimated the level of hero worship. Instead of being a minor celebrity, they treated him as if he were Jesus Christ. Literally – one witch who looked to be in her thirties tried to get a touch as if it would heal her of all maladies; at least, he hoped it was for that. Even the rest were trying to shake his hands as if it would mean their salvation. The words of everyone present were getting garbled and Harry was getting more and more dizzy; he was trying to recall a wandless spell that would make them back off, but he couldn’t even manage that.

Boom!

Harry practically jumped out of his skin. He looked over at Flitwick, who had his wand out and suddenly looked very imposing, low height or not. The professor instructed them to go one by one and the rest to be silent. Nobody seemed to even consider doing otherwise; Harry considered the man’s apparent age (probably late fifties or so, despite his nearly white hair) and concluded that he had taught most of those present, considering they mostly looked to be below thirty-five. He had thought him a very hands-off and easygoing teacher, but apparently, Flitwick could be strict when he wanted.

He shook a few hands -now that they weren’t crowding him, he could see that they weren’t huge in numbers- noting the young professor Quirinus Quirrell, who stuttered and gave vibes that told Harry he was going to be a useless teacher. Too pathetic for words, was his first impression of the soon-to-be Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. As they left the Leaky Cauldron (and wasn’t that an interesting name? Others might have considered the names wizards gave things ridiculous, but to Harry, their mild nuttiness was refreshing), as soon as Harry stopped gawking at Diagon Alley's appearance (it was as if it was straight out of a fairy tale!), Flitwick asked the boy about his impression of Professor Quirrell.

“Well, he seems to know his subject; it remains to be seen whether he can teach it,” Harry said, choosing his words very carefully, but without pausing more than a split second.

Flitwick smiled, but it was more of a smirk. He said, “a very diplomatic answer, Mr. Potter. It seems likely you are headed for Slytherin House.”

He went on to explain how ‘Quirinus’ used to be the Muggle Studies Professor, but had gone on a trip to train himself in his new subject and returned a bit off. Harry thought he was trying to warn him to be wary of Quirrell, but he couldn’t be sure. The young professor looked completely pathetic to him, but Flitwick must have known and taught the man since he was eleven, especially considering he let slip that Quirrell had been sorted into Ravenclaw twenty-three years earlier.

“Professor, could you tell me more about the Houses of Hogwarts? You told me about Ravenclaw, but I only know the names of the other Houses,” Harry said, realising that he had been told next to nothing about Slytherin, as well as Hufflepuff and Gryffindor.

“Of course. How remiss of me,” the man said, not sounding the least bit sorry.

Harry thought that he was either testing Harry to see if he would ask, or trying to push him toward his own House; possibly both. After Flitwick gave him more information, including the fact that his father and Lily had both been in Gryffindor and that many families got into the same House for generations, the boy concluded that the new students had a say on where they were sorted; he still couldn’t get Flitwick to tell him the method, though.

“Did you know my parents well, Professor Flitwick?” Harry asked, hopeful that he could find out about them, for the first time.

Petunia barely knew what his father was like and refused to even speak his name, or had forgotten it, and his mother was a topic that, if brought up, made her clam up faster than anything else could manage. As for his uncle, he didn't remember Harry's dad's first name, but Uncle Vernon was under the impression that when they met, Mr. Potter had looked down upon him for being 'new money'. That had then devolved into Uncle Vernon recounting the story of how Mr. Grunning had taken Vernon under his wing when the latter had been nineteen, culminating in Vernon becoming a Director soon after, and Managing Director at the tender age of twenty-six.

Flitwick smiled. He said, “I thought you’d never ask, Mr. Potter. I did not know your father, James Potter, better than most students of mine except by association, but he was very mischievous; a prankster at heart. He was a good person, with the only black mark on his record being that he sometimes took jokes too far; Minerva -that is, Professor McGonagall- knew him a lot better.”

“What about my mother, Professor?” Harry asked, glad to find out his father's name for the first time, but realising that the man had been closer to his mother.

Flitwick closed his eyes and smiled nostalgically. He said, “Lily Evans was the most brilliant student I have ever had in my Charms class – I myself was much less skilled at the same age. I wanted to recommend her for the Charms Mastery exam, but she was too busy with fighting a war. She was adept in using Charms both for combat and for healing, and her knowledge of Potions allowed her a further avenue for the latter. She was the second most adept medic of their group, behind the much older Frank, though every single one of them could heal, to a point- but never mind that.”

“So, she was the most talented student of Charms you have ever encountered, sir? What was she like as a person?” Harry asked quickly, thirsty for more information.

“The most talented of my students, Harry- I mean Mr. Potter. The Headmaster, as well as another Professor, have nearly as great a talent for Charms as she did -despite it not being their chosen subject- and I knew someone who was even better than her, an underclassman from when I was a student myself. Unfortunately, I don’t know what became of Tom… but I digress. Well,” Flitwick said, “Lily was caring and highly intelligent. She also was far less fickle than most girls her age, which led to her not changing her opinion of your father until over a year after he had matured. She always stood by her friends, and it took a lot for her to abandon them, but also a lot to forgive them.”

Harry stayed silent for a minute, digesting the information he’d been told. So Lily Potter was stubborn to a fault, but very loyal. She had also torn apart a friendship or two after having had enough with someone. Petunia might have been that person. “Thank you, Professor, and please call me Harry, if you prefer,” he said, smiling genuinely, “it’s the first time I find out so much about one of my parents. Aunt Petunia barely knew my father at all and Mum is still a very touchy subject for her.”

“She should have told you something, at least!” Flitwick exclaimed, realising he had shouted immediately afterwards and blushing badly enough for it to show through the facial hair, though he lowered his hat to hide his face almost immediately. He said, “my apologies, Harry. But, she told you nothing?”

“Every parent has their favourites, Professor. I get along far better with Uncle Vernon who, in turn, interacts less with Dudley -that’s my cousin- than he does with me,” Harry said, the half-lie leaving his tongue with extreme ease.

Flitwick seemed more at ease, but he made a token protest. “I understand that,” he said, “but you should have been told something about them, at least.”

“She probably expected a wizard or witch to do so. Don’t blame her, Professor; the sins of the past weigh heavily upon her. Aunt Petunia blames all magicals for what happened to Mum, and merely looking at me brings up bad memories. I suspect she and Uncle Vernon decided that he would be the one do the majority of looking after me,” Harry said.

“I see,” Flitwick said, looking into Harry's eyes seriously, “so she blames you as well?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said, lying through his teeth with little more effort than it took to straighten his glasses; which was, fortunately, a habit he no longer paired up with the practice, “it’s something I’d rather not know the answer to, Sir.”

“Fair enough,” the professor said, smiling again.

-----

The conversation had lasted all the way through the two males circling Diagon Alley twice, and it wasn’t small by any stretch. By coincidence, they arrived at their first destination not long after its end.

“Here it is – the magical bank, Gringotts,” Flitwick said calmly, “it’s run by goblins. Take care not to offend them too much, Harry, but don’t offer them much in the way of pleasantries, either; they are not going to like any human for any reason, and friendliness will only annoy them further.”

Harry nodded. He looked at the armed creatures standing guard; when they nodded at the two of them, he nodded back, but nothing more; he simply turned back to his Professor.

He thought for a moment that the reason the man was so short was goblin blood, but he dismissed it: he didn’t look anything like them and they didn’t give him any more or less attention than they did Harry... maybe he had a goblin ancestor very far up the line...?

Harry took in the poem the goblins had inscribed on the doors of Gringotts, and promptly decided not to test the bank's defences anytime soon. Inside the bank, they went to a teller and waited a short time. When the goblin asked what their business was with Gringotts, Flitwick produced a golden key from somewhere in his robes and told the creature that his student was Harry Potter and was to make a withdrawal from his vault.

The goblin checked the key, then said, “wait here. Someone will be here shortly,” and left its station.

Harry looked at Flitwick and said, “Sir, may I have my key?”

The man paused for a moment. He said, “are you certain, Harry? Taking care of your own finances can be quite difficult, especially at your age,” showing uncharacteristic seriousness.

Harry looked him in the eyes and nodded. He said, “it’s not like I haven’t handled money before. My family is fairly well-off, but not nearly rich enough for me to not know the value of money. Will I have to pick investments simply for receiving my key?”

Flitwick gave him the key. He said, “well, if you’re sure – there is no need to decide on investments, though you may do that if you wish. You could also most likely withdraw a relatively small sum from your family's vault, its exact amount depending on what your grandfather had set, but investments are almost certainly out of the question for it at your age, despite you being the sole inheritor.”

Harry considered that for a bit, then said, “does it happen often, for someone to have multiple vaults to his name?”

His professor said, “not so young. It is the very rare parent who opens a vault for his or her child; the children usually do it themselves when they have become adults, and only after they have been active in the workforce for a while. I believe that this vault was opened for you by Albus – that is, Professor Dumbledore, in order to store letters bearing your name, as well as gifts and bequests for you, the majority of which was in coin. Anyone intending to give you an offering could store money or items here; much of the gold inside your vault is, I believe, from cursed objects that were de-spelled, then sold – again, on Albus’s decision. Fame, after all, is a two-sided coin, and many would seek to harm you. Anything relating to wands and their construction is kept either in your ancestors’ holdings, or by Albus; the Ministry strongly discourages giving goblins potential access to wands. With you bearing your key now, you are the only one who may make financial decisions, as Muggles are not allowed to do anything more than convert from muggle money, and only on behalf of their magical child or ward. So, do you intend to make any investments, Harry?”

Harry shook his head in the negative. He said, “it’s better if I find out more first; after all, this is all new to me. Maybe in a couple of years.”

The goblin sent to guide them, Griphook, waited until they finished their conversation, tapping his foot and otherwise looking impatient, even though he had only caught the tail end of it.

-----

“You weren’t joking, Sir,” Harry said, looking around in awe, “this is a lot of gold.”

“Indeed,” the man admitted, “for a student just starting, twenty-seven to twenty-eight galleons -the gold coins- should more than suffice; here is an expanded Pouch made of mokeskin, which can hold a lot and is difficult to steal from. It is preferable that you only store one kind of thing in it, or you may be unable to find what you seek,” he continued, handing him a small bag and giving him instructions in how to 'bond' with the pouch.

Harry took a sewing needle out of his pocket, which he usually used as a target for his transformations, and pricked a finger with it without hesitation, then touched his finger to the pouch. The good professor was examining Harry carefully, but Harry couldn't tell if the man was suspicious or worried or whatnot. Shit, it wasn't normal for people to be so carefree and blase about blood, was it? Oh well, normal was overrated; Harry would rather be an outcast or 'freak' as his aunt put it when she was furious once, than someone 'normal' like her. He was not going to change himself for anyone's sake but his own, and would only pretend if absolutely necessary. Harry decided to not think of the topic anymore for the time being.

“Professor,” Harry said, “does Hogwarts have a library students can borrow from and do students in higher years need more money?”

“It does have a library, Harry. There is no need for getting extra books at this point,” the man said, though Harry doubted that the Head of the House that advocated learning truly meant what he was saying. He then said, “most subsequent years require a lot less money than first year, unless your wand breaks or you decide to get something gaudy or specialised like a solid gold cauldron.”

Harry picked up a hundred and twenty gold coins, nearly a dozen silver ones and four bronze. He said, “could you recommend me a few books that will show what the Wizarding World thinks of me, Professor? Some recent history as well; everything else can wait for later.”

Flitwick nodded enthusiastically and repeatedly. He said, “of course, Harry! We may yet make a Ravenclaw out of you! Might I also recommend you the Periodic Table of Potions Ingredients? It shows the way basic ingredients react with one another and why, and is in high demand at the library, so it’s always taken. You might not truly need it this year, as you will only brew following instructions, but it helps along on the way to a deeper understanding of Potions, and something tells me you might have a talent for the subject. Another potentially important book is the Introduction to the Wizarding World; it is the only book meant for the Muggle-raised that actually provides the more critical information.”

Harry tried to give the professor a few gold coins -Galleons- for the mokeskin pouch, but the man emphatically refused. In the end, Flitwick convinced Harry by telling him it was a gift for his birthday next week. "By the way, Sir, what is the spell that made the pouch expand and gave it theft protection?" Harry said, getting curious again.

He also made a mental note not to try to steal from anyone until he had a much better idea of magical defences against thieves; even then, only if he considered it necessary.

"Extension Charms are something that is not taught until the sixth year at the earliest; I would not recommend trying anything like that until you have a really good grasp of Charms. There used to be a law that disallowed applying those for private uses, but it was repealed with near unanimity nearly a decade ago. That said, Mokeskin is bigger on the inside even without the spell, because of the properties of the creature it comes from, the Moke," the professor said.

Harry's cheek twitched; he didn't like how much of an open book Harry was to this man. Well, at least Flitwick didn't realise that Harry had stolen before, and might do so again if he considered it necessary.

"As for Mokeskin's anti-theft properties, that's because of the moke again, which is a magical creature related to lizards. It shrinks whenever in the presence of a stranger, so most thieves will never be able to even find a mokeskin pouch; the moke also resists magic far more than a creature its size has any right to," the professor added.

Harry mulled that over. He would look up that magical creature and others; he started realising just how interesting magical creatures were, for the first time.

The next stop was the trunk shop, and Harry was entranced by all the multi-compartment trunks with all their features. There was even one with five compartments, along with the standard Feather-light Charm, top of the line Undetectable Extension Charm on some of the compartments – it even had separate keys for each of them! He asked the proprietor for the price, seeing no price tag on or near it. The answer was twenty-one galleons, which was the equivalent of a hundred and forty-seven Pounds Sterling, and approximately two hundred and ten US Dollars.(*2) Harry knew he could afford it, but Flitwick vetoed it.

The man said, "Harry, I am content to let people make their own mistakes usually, but even with the Feather-light Charm, you will be unable to carry that; it's too bulky for you. Don't go wasting your money now – you did say you were aware of the value of the Pound, and you know that the Galleon is seven times as valuable, five only for the underage Muggleborn converting from muggle money, which you are not. Let that sink in for a minute."

Harry remained silent for a minute; he felt really annoyed at his professor.

The man continued speaking and said, "why don't you leave this for a few years later, when you may actually need it? Look: this is a two-compartment trunk with an exceedingly good Feather-light Charm and a great Undetectable Extension Charm on the second compartment, and the latter is actually contained in a corner of the first one, so it's not more bulky than the usual trunks."

Harry sighed, but he eventually folded, begrudgingly – the man knew his stuff, and Harry, though his teammates in football called him stubborn, knew how to pick his battles.

-----

Harry had picked up nearly everything, including a bronze cauldron, which cost two galleons plus ten sickles -the pewter one was only a galleon on the dot and lighter, thus easier to carry, but pewter was being slowly phased out due to the lead in it apparently being bad for health- and more supplementary reading, after the professor gave Harry some recommendations, including some second-year textbooks for some subjects and some highly-recommended Defence Against the Dark Arts related books that had (or could have) been used as textbooks. Fortunately, he was strong enough to carry the cauldron, though his hands would probably have got achy if he hadn't put it in the trunk. He was thankful for the existence of trunks and the Feather-light Charm.

A solid gold cauldron cost significantly above a hundred Galleons, which was to be expected because in the Wizarding World, there was an even bigger difference in price between pure copper and gold, much less bronze and gold. According to Flitwick, there was a huge number of precious metal mines, deposits and veins that had been hidden from Muggles, not to mention metals created by Nicolas Flamel centuries earlier, so precious metals were more available and their price was lower in their society; despite people's usual assumptions, Flamel had made more silver than gold before that was also outlawed, artificially keeping gold more expensive despite silver being just as rare in the Earth as gold, no matter what the Muggles thought. Harry secretly thought that copper's price in particular was so low because electricity wasn't used by magicals, so they didn't need a conductor for making cables.

"Be wary, Harry, because buying gold in bulk, then selling it to the muggles was outlawed centuries ago," Flitwick said, looking Harry in the eye, "there are a few really good reasons for this, but what they boil down to is making Muggles suspect our existence, and losing the exclusivity to wizards of our 'extra' supply."

Afterwards, Flitwick took Harry to the wandmaker’s, the man leaving him alone just outside the shop. The professor claimed that getting one’s first wand was something deeply personal, thus best experienced on their own. He also admitted that this same Ollivander had already been old when Flitwick had been eleven, and Flitwick was seventy at the moment, making Garrick Ollivander ancient. Harry hadn’t expected that Flitwick was so old, but apparently, most wizards and witches looked younger than they were and lived longer than Muggles. When Harry entered 'Ollivanders' ', nobody was inside; however, the presence of something was so heavy in the air that Harry got goosebumps.

“A good afternoon to you Mr. Potter.”

Harry jumped at the same time he turned his head, causing his neck some soreness. ‘Crap, I just about crapped myself,’ he thought. Next time he was startled, he would try his best to lay the culprit out. “Hello Mr. Ollivander,” the boy said out loud, assuming that the man was the proprietor of the shop.

“Harry Potter. You have green eyes,” the positively ancient man, but unbent and around a hundred and ninety centimetres tall, told Harry, “yes, like your mother; it seems like only a day has passed since she got her own wand; ten and three quarter inch long, swishy, Willow wood. A unicorn tail hair from a rather temperamental male unicorn.* Nearly gored me in my inexperience of then. Yes, yes.”

‘Wizards are an eccentric lot, but this one takes the cake,’ Harry thought. He couldn’t help but like the slightly creepy man, though. He said, “well, sir, you have silver eyes; I fail to see why eye colour matters in this case, though.”

“As for your father,” Ollivander continued, ignoring Harry’s words and walking around a bit. “His was not exactly one of mine, though I helped manufacture it. Mahogany, eleven inches on the dot, a core of Thunderbird tail feather. Pliable, excellent for Transfiguration. A joint project with another wandmaker, very rare and very powerful in every way. You resemble your father a lot, you know. He was just as cheeky.”

The man stopped his pacing in front of Harry; very close to him, in fact. He clapped loudly and very suddenly. This time, Harry barely reacted, making Ollivander smile. The man said, “well, let us get to it, young one. We don’t have all day,” conveniently leaving out the fact that he was the one stalling, making Harry snort.

Harry said nothing while he was being measured by the appropriate devices. They measured everything; including the distance between his nostrils, the circumference of his ankles and a lot more. Only after the tapes went still as if they’d never moved did he speak. He said, “Was all that necessary, Mr. Ollivander?”

The man blinked a few times and got into a crouching position. He said, “I assume you are speaking about measuring? Quite necessary, Mr. Potter, and not at all to unnerve the customer,” waving the measuring tapes away.

Harry, again, said nothing; he was somewhat amused by the wandmaker’s antics, though.

The man sprang to an upright position as if he were over a century younger and went to get something from the shelves. He set a box in front of Harry. Ollivander said, “Mahogany and Unicorn tail hair, ten and a quarter inch. Go on, go on, Mr. Potter; just give it a wave,” making a waving motion with his left hand. Then he said, “before I forget, which is your wand hand, Mr. Potter? Use that one.”

“My original dominant hand is the left one, but I’ve trained myself to use both equally as well,” Harry said.

“Ambidexterity at your age? Impressive. You’ll go far,” the man said, pausing for a bit. “Just use whichever,” he continued when Harry did nothing but stare at him.

He waved the wand, only for nothing to happen. Ollivander snatched it from Harry’s hands and brought him more wands, most of which he rejected as soon as the boy lay a hand on them.

“A tricky customer, eh? No worries, Mr. Potter; I have never failed to find a match for a young customer, one way or another. After all, there is more than one way to skin a cat, right?” Ollivander said, smiling a not-so-toothy grin, mostly because the majority of his teeth were missing.

Harry simply rolled his eyes. By the time he finished rolling them, the tall wandmaker was already setting down another box, this time with much more reverence.

“Perhaps this is the one,” Ollivander said, suddenly more serious, “eleven inches, Holly and Phoenix feather, nice and supple. An unusual combination of wood and core, but no less potent for it.”

Harry took the wand in his right hand, felt warmth he hadn’t earlier and a small number of white sparks came out, disappearing immediately. From Ollivander’s reaction, the man had expected more. It was not groundbreaking, but much more than anything so far.

Ollivander stared in an especially unnerving way, his silver eyes open wide. “A very tricky customer,” the man said, “this is a decent match. Would you like to keep looking? There might yet be a better match. What am I asking? Of course you would!”

After a few more failures, in which Ollivander rejected the wands out of hand, he brought out one that he said he had high hopes for. “Yes, twelve inches -exactly one foot-, Ebony wood and Phoenix feather core; straight and rigid, but somewhat gnarled rather than smooth. It favours Transfiguration and offensive battle magic like most Ebony wands, but is suitable for all kinds of magic except, most likely, those related to positive emotions and fully defensive battle magic like the basic Shield Charm. What do you think?” The old man said, looking into Harry's eyes directly, focusing to the point of being creepy.

Harry waved the wand, getting a similar reaction to the Holly wand – as in, good but slightly underwhelming.

Ollivander said, “it seems we have just about run out of options, Mr. Potter. This is the last wand I have that has a chance to fit you. So, which do you want? The Holly wand or the Ebony wand? Note that one may only have one personal wand at a time, with only law enforcement being exempt.”

Harry asked for more information about the wands.

Ollivander smiled and nodded, his silver eyes shining. He said, “well, the Holly wand is significantly more powerful; the Phoenix that donated its feather is significantly older. It is well suited to all magic except delicate ones such as illusions and Memory Charms -which would end up being far less effective with it-, and Holly significantly favours magic based on positive emotions. On the other hand, the one with Ebony wood is significantly weaker as a spell amplifier, but is well suited to both straightforward magic and subtle magic. For the more powerful spells to work well, the user needs to be highly powerful by himself, but it can also handle any level of power. The younger a Phoenix is when it donated them, the more its feathers favour subtle magic as cores – though the Ebony wand might mostly catch up in power with the other one by the time you are fifty, and will still be as good as ever at subtle magic. It will never catch up fully in power. So! Mr. Potter! Which do you prefer?” The old man finished with a jump and twirl in place, his demeanour becoming as jolly as earlier again.

Harry thought it over, but he had a very hard time deciding. After a bit of time, he started getting frustrated, which proved to be a great mistake, since something took advantage. Just pick one, you foolish boy!

The boy rubbed his scar and funneled the emotions through his torso, legs then feet into the ground, calming himself. ‘Was that…?’ He thought. For a moment, while the voice was speaking to him, he saw some sparks come out of the Holly wand. ‘Is the presence of the voice the reason why this wand reacted more strongly?’ He thought. He intended to get rid of whatever that was, so his decision was clear at this point. Still, he asked another question of Ollivander, who was waiting patiently. “Mr. Ollivander. Is there anything else you can tell me about the origins of the wands? What was each Phoenix like?”

Harry hadn’t been told anything about Phoenixes, but he would assume Muggles had got most things right until proven otherwise. So, My Immortal birds reborn from their ashes and associated with fire and healing.

Ollivander grinned again. He said, “you are wise to ask for more information, Mr. Potter. The Enoby wand has a feather from Sparky, the mascot of a Quidditch team from New Zealand. That Phoenix has donated one more feather, which has not been sold. The Holly wand has a feather from the Phoenix companion of Headmaster Dumbledore -an extremely powerful and skilled wizard, Albus-, Fawkes, with the only other feather he gave being- well, being in the wand that gave you this scar,” pointing at Harry’s brow. “Curious, no? Nothing else of note comes to mind, and my memory is sharp – near-flawless, even. So, tell me, young one; what is your decision?”

‘The voice in my head might be connected to You-Know-Who?’ Harry thought, ‘that’s... not a huge surprise, but not pleasant by any stretch. That thing may be tricky to get rid of.’ Out loud, he said, “The Ebony wand,” not saying anything more. He was convinced it was the better choice, especially since he had a knack for illusions.

“I see,” the towering man said, “are you certain Mr. Potter? Absolutely certain? Beyond the shadow of a doubt?" After a few seconds of silence, the man nodded to himself, gave Harry a wand-caring kit and a wrist-mounted wand holster charmed with an Undetectable Extension Charm, as well as Charms that allowed only the owner to get it out easily and kept it from being Summoned, for free ‘for being the trickiest customer I have ever had, of course,’ and bid him farewell after being paid the fee of seven Galleons.

“Just a moment, Sir,” Harry said, pausing before the door. He then asked, “what kind of wand is yours, Sir? If you don’t mind answering, of course," the question having just occurred to him, his curiosity holding strong.

Ollivander chuckled. He said, “not at all, Mr. Potter, not at all. Hornbeam wood, with a dragon heartstring core, twelve and three quarter inches, slightly bendy. One of my grandfather’s, if you’ll believe it. This may be the first time an eleven-year-old has asked me this question. Yes, you will go far, Mr. Potter. Whether that is for good or for ill remains to be seen…."

Harry shivered a bit, remembering the sobs of his Uncle and Aunt when he essentially tortured them. He steeled himself and bid Ollivander goodbye, once again resolving to not go as far as he had that day, but still keep that spark of ruthlessness alive. After all, people had been trying to assassinate him since he was one year old, if he had read between the lines right.

-----

Filius had been waiting for Harry for a while; the snowy owl he had in a cage was starting to get impatient, but patience was a virtue Filius was not lacking in. After over half an hour of standing there, the student he had been waiting for got out of the wand shop. The professor had long thought that the Ollivanders had some kind of Charm or even Curse that kept customers from showing up at the same time as each other, as no student had ever had to wait inside or outside the shop while another was being fitted, to his knowledge. Unfortunately, old Garrick was tight-lipped.

Harry got out of the shop, greeted Filius and said, “you haven’t been waiting too long, have you, Professor?”

The boy’s sheepish expression showed he was well aware how long he took. Filius was reminded of Lily Evans every time he looked at him; the curiosity and thirst for learning he could see in his eyes, their colour, the politeness without submission. Lily, though, had been a bit naïve at his age. Her son was a lot more cynical and pragmatic than her – much like a young Severus. Filius hoped Harry wouldn’t be as fascinated by the Dark Arts as said Potions Professor. Or, rather, some of the people who regularly practised said arts, because Merlin knew that the Ministry's classification of Dark Arts included a lot of things that were nowhere near illegal and not very dangerous.

-----

Harry really wanted to jump headfirst into casting spells with his new wand – he really, really did, but he had only a month and a week before starting school; he wasn't going to do badly in academia. Gone were the days where he struggled with spelling and French... not that he was especially fluent in French nowadays, but he got by. Harry barely had enough time to learn most of his books by heart, he thought; he would also practise his casting without a wand -mainly getting into the focused trance- nearly every day, but not for long.

-----

After a speech by his uncle about how Harry was taking his first steps as a man and enduring much fussing by the same, Harry stood in front of Dudley, both staring at each other in an awkward fashion. The first to break the silence was Dudley. He said, “be well at your new school, you hear?” Patting Harry’s shoulder with a lot of force.

Harry forced a smile, pretending that the shoulder-slap hadn't hurt, and said, “same for you, Dudley. And do try to raise your grades – I know you’re far from stupid, so don’t be so lazy about studying, okay?”

The no longer fat (but still a bit chubby) boy said, in a small voice, “but, I won’t be able to reach your level. What point is there?”

Harry shook his head. He said, “what my grades are is irrelevant – don’t forget we will be in different schools and nobody knows you’re my cousin, so take advantage of that,” trying to get his cousin motivated.

Dudley nodded, a bit reluctantly perhaps, but he seemed willing to give studying a try; Uncle Vernon interjected that as long as he didn’t turn into a ‘nancy boy’, studying was a good idea. He had started a rant on the importance of completing higher education ‘because not everyone is as fortunate as I am to become the protege of the owner’ when Petunia cleared her throat and reminded them of the time.

So, the three males completed their greetings, Petunia grunted in response to her nephew’s goodbye, then Harry was alone in King’s Cross with less than half an hour before the train for school departed. Hedwig’s cage was in his trunk, but the owl itself had been instructed to go to Hogwarts herself, discreetly; that was because owls hated being carried in a trunk according to Flitwick, and Harry wouldn’t risk attention by carrying her out in the open. To Flitwick's protests, Harry actually paid the short man for the owl as soon as the boy had named her – the Mokeskin Pouch was already an extravagant gift. Harry could tell that the man had good intentions, but his pride wouldn't let him accept more than one such gift.

-----

After slipping into Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, Harry looked around, nearly as fascinated as when he had first entered Diagon Alley. He boarded the train, barely having enough strength and height while standing on his toes to put his trunk into the luggage shelf above his seat after a few false starts – he had been just about to give up and use magic when he managed it. As soon as he did, he heard clapping and whistling. When the boy turned, he saw two identical ‘carrot-tops’ or ‘gingers’, as his uncle called those who had that shade of red in their hair. Harry blinked, also noting absently that one of them had slightly more freckles than the other on the right side of his face and the other was slightly more muscular.

“A good show of physical strength, young one,” the muscular twin said.

“Yes, I dare say we wouldn’t have been able to do that alone in our first year,” the freckled twin continued.

“I’m Fred,” the muscular twin said, introducing himself.

“And I’m George,” the other one said, doing the same.

“Collectively, we’re known as the Weasley twins,” Fred said. “Or is that Fredandgeorge?” He continued.

“No,” George said, “it’s Georgeandfred,” correcting his brother.

“Well, whatever the case might be, we’re both the Weasley twins, and the Weasley twins are us,” Fred finished with a bow.

“So, who are you, ickle firsty?” The both of them asked at the same time.

Harry smiled at their antics. He said, “my name is Harry Potter, upperclassmen o' mine.”

After the twins showed their astonishment in a properly exaggerated way, they bid him farewell, citing meeting their friend Lee as the reason.

“Yes, Lee Jordan. A stand up bloke indeed,” Fred said.

“Word has it he’s brought a big spider along; a tarantula, if you’ll believe it,” George shared in a stage whisper.

“Well, it’s not an Acromantula, but it’ll do,” Fred said, waving his hand in a ‘so-so’ gesture.

“So we’ll see ya another time, young Harry,” George finished before leaving Harry alone in the compartment.

Harry was still grinning when they left – those two were highly charismatic and entertaining. He wasn't at all annoyed when they gawked at him; it was all in good humour. The young wizard shook his head at their antics and took out the book on magical creatures he had bought (and read cover to cover more than once), and read the entry on the Acromantula for the fifth time or so. The reminder only served to excite him, though he wouldn’t be stupid enough to seek out one without a lot more schooling and training under his belt. He had been told some of the story of the British wizard who wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Flitwick, and he liked it. He wanted to be like Newt Scamander, though Harry wasn't interested in taking care of animals, per se.

The first-year subject Harry was looking forward to the most was probably Potions – he had already dabbled in Transfiguration and Charms years earlier, but Potions was something new. He would be impatient for Defence Against the Dark Arts, too… if he hadn’t met Quirinus Quirrell.

A while later, there was a knock on the compartment’s door; a blond boy his age who oozed arrogance entered, flanked by two gorillas in human form, and said, “they say Harry Potter is supposed to go to Hogwarts this year. Are you him?”

“That’s right,” Harry admitted, “I’m Harry Potter. And you are…?”

“Oh, where are my manners? My name is Malfoy; Draco Malfoy,” the seemingly-arrogant boy introduced himself, “a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Potter.”

“It is a pleasure for me as well, Malfoy,” Harry said. When the other boy offered his hand for shaking, Harry asked, “does a handshake have a particular meaning for British wizards? You see, I was raised away from civilisation, in a manner of speaking.”

Draco Malfoy scrutinized him, but didn’t push for more information. He said, “a handshake does not have a special meaning except acknowledgement outside of some official contracts, but it is considered an insult to simply ignore somebody offering his hand.”

Harry took the hint and shook Malfoy’s hand, saying, “as long as you don’t expect me to be subordinate to you, I’m perfectly willing to be civil, Malfoy.”

-----

Draco was about to tell Potter something about helping him find those of the right sort, but he rethought his strategy after what the other boy said. ‘Potter is a lot more Slytherin-like than I’ve given him credit for, despite growing up with Muggles according to Father,’ Draco thought, making a note not to try anything risky where Harry Potter was concerned.

“What do you think of the Houses, Potter, and which are you aiming for? I believe I’m headed to Slytherin,” the blond boy said out loud, taking care to choose his words well.

Potter thought it over for a few seconds, then said, “I’ll just let the chips fall where they may,” seemingly nonchalantly.

Draco couldn’t even tell if the other boy was lying or faking his nonchalance. ‘Potter is definitely not to be underestimated,’ he thought, 'I should be on my best behaviour here, and not even call a spade what it is – even Father is annoyed whenever I call mudbloods by their proper name for some reason. "Show some subtlety, Draco." "Be aware of the impact of your words and use them strategically, Draco." When he says the word, it's fine?'

-----


“What do we have here?” A voice resounded in Harry’s head. “Rudimentary Occlumency, probably self-taught? As for your personality-”

Harry stiffened. He mentally shouted, 'get out of my head!' Barely managing to keep from doing so out loud.

“Calm down, child. I was made only for the most cursory of examinations. My purpose is to sort children into the Houses, not learn their pasts. Your personality and whatever you actively tell me should be enough for that; I won’t snoop further,” the Sorting Hat said in his mind.

Harry took a few deep breaths to calm down, sinking into the trance characteristic of novice Occlumency users, doing so far more efficiently than he used to and also using what he had seen in His Dark Materials and meditation manuals to enter it quickly and alter it into something that would help him think more quickly; he also could separate his emotions from trains of thought and memories now – compartmentalise his thoughts, as it were. It was fortunate that he was still riding on the high of seeing and feeling the castle for the first time; otherwise, he might have made a scene. He was certain that the new information about the branch of magic called the Mind Arts he now possessed was given by the Hat, which led to him deciding to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially considering the knowledge it had given him was likely very valuable. Up until a minute before, he hadn’t even known what Occlumency was.

The Hat remained silent for a few moments, with Harry keeping a lid on his emotions enough not to fidget much. “Difficult, very difficult,” the Hat said, “an intelligence and ruthlessness that could conquer the world, if given the time and nurturing needed….”

Harry made a disgusted, guttural voice. He said mentally, 'conquer the world! Why on Earth would I try that? No, my interest lies in other things.'

“Yes, I see that now, Mr. Potter. You have a lust for adventure, carefully hidden but recently brought to the surface somehow. Which House do you think is best for you?” The Hat probed.

'Not Slytherin,' Harry replied, 'if I judge by Draco Malfoy, they will scramble for every advantage and will be on the lookout for methods to turn me to their sides or manipulate me. I’d have to sleep with one eye open; not my cup of tea.'

“Very well. Tell me; if you were to choose between the life of a scholar and the life of an adventurer, which would you pick?” The Sorting Hat asked.

'I’d simply pick both,' the boy replied, thinking of Newton Scamander’s adventures and exploits as a book author both. Of course, the man had been a Hufflepuff, a House which was probably incompatible with Harry’s character, but that was fine – Harry didn't intend to be exactly the same.

The Hat chuckled and it was a strange, deep sound, similar to a tuba being played. It said, “I like your answer, Mr. Potter. And, after all, the Founder with the best grasp of magical theory after Rowena was neither Salazar nor Helga. You have guts, I believe is the term. May you do well in GRYFFINDOR!”

Harry walked up to the table decorated in red and gold, in the midst of cheers, with the Weasley twins shouting ‘we got Potter! We got Potter!’ At the top of their lungs. His hands were shaking, he noted; they hadn't stopped ever since he entered the castle – the presence of something similar to the 'something' at Ollivanders', except more spread out, overwhelmed all his senses. He wondered if every person with magic had an extra sense, or if it was something that was rarer, or even unique to Harry. As he got used to the feeling, his hands stopped shaking gradually.

After the Sorting was over and done with, the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore -as other students called him; he was a very... colourful old man with long white hair (down to his hips), a beard longer than Flitwick's, but he surpassed Ollivander in height by about half a foot, so he was easily over two metres tall- got up and made a few announcements. Harry decided not to risk going to the Forbidden Forest yet, but the third floor corridor part drew his attention, especially considering George told him, when asked, that Dumbledore usually gave them a reason for why something was prohibited. Harry didn’t think it was on purpose, but he was certain that troublemakers would be drawn to it; he wouldn’t lie to himself, he was also eager to go there and try his luck, but he wouldn’t go in half-cocked like the stereotypical Gryffindor – it was an unknown challenge, so the only thing he could do for the time being would be to improve his knowledge of magic.

“Finally, a few words,” Dumbledore said, “cataract, prong, ophthalmic, dunderhead,” a small smirk appearing on his bearded face for a second, unless Harry simply imagined it.

Harry thought over what Dumbledore had said for a few moments. 'A few words'?... Harry snickered and decided to try faking literal-mindedness himself sometime, but he looked away from the eye-searing colours almost immediately. Dumbledore's extremely colourful robes and high-heeled boots made Harry think the man might be a poof, though in the magical society, such a thing as extra colourful clothes might not be associated with queerness.

At some point after those 'words', Dumbledore looked at Harry – the man's expression looked sad and worried. Harry didn't know exactly what warranted that look, but he could make a guess. How would Dumbledore know about those government officials, though? The hat did nothing, and it wasn't as if- wait. People at the Post Office were able to reroute his letter to Hogwarts. What if some people in the muggle authorities were magical, or at least knew about magic, and contacted the magical side whenever there was a case with suspected magic use involved? His apparent fame may have worked against him which, considering he didn't even know about said fame until afterwards, was really terrible luck. Who knew other than Dumbledore, though? If a school Headmaster knew, was it common knowledge among the adults?

No, Harry was overthinking it to the point of becoming paranoid – he would take things as they came. Many owls came around after breakfast had been eaten, most carrying a letter or package; his Snowy Owl companion, Hedwig, greeted him with a light peck on the back of his hand, took some of his bacon, then departed again.

-----

The prefect, the twins’ older brother Percy, led them towards the dormitories. The first-year Gryffindors had to climb a lot of stairs, with the nuisance called Peeves accosting them until it got bored. The hilarious fart sounds Peeves had let out had put Harry in a jolly mood though, and seeing Longbottom targeted didn’t bother him one bit – that boy was born to be a target, Harry felt. Harry asked Percy what the difference between Peeves and the ghosts was, putting his fondness for toilet humour aside.

Percy said, “well, you see – he’s a Poltergeist. Those creatures never were human, and never died; they’re simply immortal, or maybe amortal, as in never being living. Some rumours say that he was present when Hogwarts was founded; even Hogwarts: A History seems to agree – I’m not sure if I believe that, but he’s been here for at least a few generations.”


Harry took note of that – there might be more to Peeves than seen at first or second glance. He also resolved to find and read Hogwarts: A History in the school library. The first years were ushered to bed; Harry had a hard time putting his worries out of his mind and falling asleep -his good mood after Peeves's antics didn't last for long- but he did some Occlumency exercises the Hat had given him knowledge of, so he fell asleep at some point. He dreamed of a green light and terrible, high-pitched laughter.


-----
-----

*2: While Ms. Rowling might be bad at math, the conversion rate between Galleons and Pounds isn't all that bad, considering the Pound Sterling had a ~50% higher value than the US Dollar, and the Dollar had nearly twice the value it has today.

*Temperamental male unicorn: yes, it’s the same one that Cedric got his wand from in canon. What, did you think that there’s only one pair of brother wands in existence? Note that Ollivander got the tail hair with the unicorn’s consent in my interpretation; he simply was clumsy and caused it too much pain in the process. The 'only girls are allowed to get close' is a myth, or only applies to female unicorns.
 
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Innortal

Well-Known Member
#6
Interesting take on it, well done and a good flow of character development, hope to see how you take it.
 
Harry 3

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#7
Madam Pince is Madam Prince here, and Tracey Davis is a Davies. They are related to Snape (his mother was Eileen Prince) and Roger Davies (a minor Ravenclaw character who was Fleur’s date in the Yule Ball in Book 4) respectively. Percy's full name is 'Percival' here, even though we were given no indication in canon of 'Percy' not being his full name... mainly because I prefer Arthurian names for the Weasleys. As for romance, any feelings Parvati has for Harry are one-sided, at least for now. I also took liberties with Lavender’s character and talents.

Remember, whenever I refer to football, I mean European football, known in America as ‘soccer’.

I mostly wrote this in late 2019, early January and early March 2020; late January and most of February were bad months for this story. I split the chapter in two; this one is ~9k words, so you are spared from a 18k-word monstrosity. :)

I like Neville's character. Unfortunately, this Harry doesn't share that opinion, mainly because he sees Neville as spineless.

I haven’t been able to find a beta reader, so I’m my own beta, as usual.

TFF ate my formatting as usual, so double spaces and no bold/italics.

-----

Harry woke up, groggy but still early, as usual for him because his school hadn't been a boarding school, so he had needed to wake up early every day to take the bus there. He went to the dorm’s loo, turned the knob at the sink and threw some water at his face, cringing a bit at its coldness.

The creaking of the door opening again could be heard; Harry lifted his head and turned around, seeing his black dorm-mate, Thomas or something. The other boy said 'good morning!' energetically.

"Good morning," Harry said. Then, he said, "you're one of those, aren't you? You are a morning person!" Letting out a small yawn.

Thomas sniggered at that and offered Harry his hand. He said, "I'm Dean, Dean Thomas."

Harry nodded and shook Thomas's hand, saying, "Harry Potter."

The two of them got into a conversation about sports outside the loo after finishing what they had been there to do; football, to be exact. Harry found out that Dean Thomas supported West Ham, which was a team Harry didn't have anything against. Not that Harry was enough of a fanatic to condemn someone for the team they supported.

"What about you, Harry?" Dean said, narrowing his eyes a bit, "what's your team?"

"I support Liverpool FC," Harry said, going to get some clothes ready in order to have a shower.

"Oh, all right," Dean said, his voice cheerful, "for a moment there, I was afraid you would say Millwall or something."

Harry rolled his eyes at Dean's silliness. He took a few deep breaths, going through the door next to the loo's, which contained the showers, separately to the loo. As he was getting sprayed with water, it hit Harry that he was going to a school for magic! He had been able to use his abilities for years, but somehow, this felt more concrete, more... something. He couldn't wait for the lessons to start... which was a strange thing for a schoolboy to say or think. Harry let out a small laugh as he finished his shower.

-----

There he is! Did you see that messy hair? His eyes, too!

Did you see the scar?

Harry Potter’s more muscular than I expected!

People were whispering about Harry during breakfast, or at least the ones awake enough to speak did. Harry’s lip curved in a sneer for a moment; he still didn’t get the idiots who populated the wizarding society, but whenever people blatantly stared, he calmly met their eyes, making them look away. Even his dorm-mates talked about him like he wasn’t there sometimes! Well, at least Harry got along with them, especially Dean. Of course, Dean had grown up with Muggles, so he didn’t have the hero-worship.

He sat next to the Weasley twins, who made some conversation, telling him about their brothers still in Hogwarts; Ronald or Ron and Percival or Percy. They regaled Harry with tales of pranks they had played, though they had a secret prankster in their family who often kept them on their toes at home, so they didn't have as much time to keep 'perfect prefect Percy' from getting a bigger head. He could hear a lot of conversation, but Harry mainly paid attention to Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom.

Longbottom said something about how he was a pureblood, but his folks had thought he had had no magic, so his great-uncle had nearly drowned him once and dropped him out a window another time. 'That explains his meekness, sort of,' Harry thought, sneering at the thought of how worthless all the Longbottoms apparently were.

Finnigan said, "well, I'm half and half – me da's a muggle, mam's a witch. Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out, but he got over it pretty quick, mam says," his Irish accent still rather obvious.

""You're lucky your dad's a good man,"" Harry said, but there was an echo.

Harry turned to see who echoed him, and it was one of the female Gryffindors in his year – Sally-Anne Perks or something. She adjusted her glasses, scoffed and turned back to her food. Harry decided not to ask. He remembered the business with Dumbledore, as if I could fully forget, making him decide not to throw any looks at the staff table if he could help it.

Harry finished breakfast with only a few glances at the staff table and no Dumbledore confronting him; he decided to go to the library immediately in order to find the books Professor Flitwick had recommended that Harry hadn't bought, so he asked Percy for directions, following the same all the way there. In the meantime, Percy was making small talk.

Percy said, “so, Harry – how are you finding Hogwarts so far?”

Harry said, “well, it has wonderful food and really good desserts, I’ve got to give Hogwarts that. Unfortunately, the staring and whispering can get really annoying,” his lip curving in a sneer again.

Percy was silent for a few seconds, then he said, “have you not got used to it already?” Brows furrowed, looking puzzled.

Harry realised that Percy thought Harry had lived with magicals after a few seconds, so he shook his head. Harry said, “I live with some relatives of mine, but they’re muggles. After the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley, this is the first time I’ve been directly exposed to the Wizarding society, and let me tell you, that was a really bad first impression!” Letting his true emotions show on his face in front of the older boy.

Percy cringed. He said, “...It’s that bad? Are there no famous people in the Muggle World?”

“There are, and Muggles probably react in a similar way to such people,” Harry said, sighing, “fortunately, I am nowhere near famous in the muggle society, so I never had to find out first-hand. I don’t rightly know what celebrities’ children are treated like, but there are laws for the protection of those below eighteen years of age, and I doubt such children are as exposed as I am unless they did something themselves, like starring in a popular film.”

Percy stopped speaking again, probably mulling over Harry’s words. Then, he said, “wait… what do you mean ‘did something themselves’? Didn’t you destroy You-Know-Who?”

Harry shook his head, saying, “of course not. I may not remember that night, but it seems obvious to me that my parents must have done something to save me. Is there such a thing as sacrificial magic?”

Percy stopped walking all of a sudden, and Harry, walking to his left and somewhat behind him, stopped in place too. Percy said, his voice trembling, “the sacrifice of human life in magic is either seriously illegal, or means some kind of suicide. Do you really think your parents committed suicide knowingly?”

Harry thought it over a bit. He said, “they were facing a seemingly insurmountable foe. If the only way to save their child was to give their lives, and if they saved tens of thousands of people from death or slavery in the process, I don’t see a reason to look down on them – sometimes, disregarding the law is necessary; otherwise, that monster might have been in charge today. As for suicide via You-Know-Who… well, I admit I generally look down upon cowards who kill themselves, but as I said, it might have been truly necessary and saved a lot of lives, so I really can’t call them cowards.”

“...You might not want to spread this around, Harry. Human sacrifice magic, and sacrifice magic in general, is considered taboo – even the non-illegal parts. You see, that taboo dates back to the witch hunts, when certain parties spread rumours of magic coming from the devil; satanism was often linked with human sacrifice, so wizards and witches understandably wanted to distance themselves from such things. Suicide is also a painful subject in our world,” Percy said, looking Harry straight in the eyes. Then, the older boy said, “disregarding the law would have made the ‘good’ side no better than the other one, though.”

Harry shook his head. He considered what he wanted to say carefully, then said, “in the words of a wise muggle: war is not about who is right, but about who is left. If a situation has escalated to civil war, then there is no such thing as law anyway. I’m not saying people should have used the truly horrible parts of dark magic, but slitting the throat of an attacker, or exploding that attacker with a curse or two should have been not only allowed, but encouraged.”

Percy answered a few seconds later, saying, “what about vigilante assassins? Should they have been encouraged, too?”

Harry said, “putting a prize on known Death Eaters’ heads might have helped,” after a few seconds of thought.

Percy shook his head. He said, “there were few to no known Death Eaters; they always wore masks. Try again.”

“If they always wore the same robes and masks,” Harry said, “then an organisation that executed Death Eaters while they were in garb could have helped things considerably.”

“And then, the families of the members would be targeted, often by You-Know-Who himself,” Percy countered, “my grandparents, the Prewetts, were killed because my uncles were members of the Order of the Phoenix, which was a kind-of vigilante organisation, founded by Professor Dumbledore, dedicated to fighting against You-Know-Who and his followers… the Order weren’t even using lethal means, usually! My uncles themselves were also killed later on, though they actually went lethal on that night when they realised how outnumbered they were – they killed three Death Eaters, seriously wounded a fourth and stalled a fifth who snuck up on them after they had won, Antonin Dolohov, enough to get him arrested, dying in the process.”

Harry was certain that those uncles of Percy’s must have been serious powerhouses, but he shook off the thought and shook his head. He said, “perhaps that was exactly the Order of the Phoenix’s mistake: not killing the Death Eaters when they could – morals are all well and good, but that was too dangerous a situation to afford most morals. How many skilled allies did You-Know-Who have? How long until he ran out? Would he have been able to do everything on his own?”

Percy sighed. He said, “You-Know-Who was exceedingly powerful and skilled – Bartemius Crouch's measures were the only thing that delayed him, and they still weren't doing enough; You-Know-Who started recruiting sometime in ’Seventy or ’Seventy-one and launched his first larger-scale attacks in ’Seventy-seven. Nobody knew where others’ allegiance was, and that’s without counting the Imperius. For years, our country was on the verge of collapse! Years! Do not misunderstand me; perhaps you have a point, but I am not the one to speak to about that. Do you have any other questions for me?” Getting passionate at some point, then winding down.

Harry decided to let Percy’s change of subject go. He considered Percy’s words earlier, then said, “I have a few questions about the witch hunts. The history texts I’ve looked at generally treat them as a joke, but I don’t get why: isn’t it relatively easy to separate a magical from their wand if you outnumber them, even without magic? Wandless magic is not very widespread, and I doubt it was much more common back then, so I’m quite certain some witches and wizards got killed by muggle mobs before they could manage the Flame-Freezing Charm, and that's without considering other methods of execution, like hanging – losing one's wand would be bad, even after the Charm, in that case. What about little magical children, especially the Muggleborn? Why was the Statute of Secrecy created if Muggles were a minor danger?”

Percy smiled at Harry bitterly. He said, “you're not one for the easy questions, are you? Well, from what I’ve studied, you are generally correct, but actual witches and wizards were never the targets, so the problem was not as major as it sounds. You see, what the Church of the time wanted was control… mainly over people’s sexuality. People, mostly muggle women, who didn’t have the behaviour they wanted –had sex before marriage or a three-way relationship or something like that– were hunted down and executed.

» It’s an important reason why having sex in Hogwarts, while not encouraged, is not punished nearly as harshly as in muggle schools when caught, even if breaking curfew or otherwise out of bounds. In addition to all that, while intentional wandless magic is and was rare, even adults may release accidental magic when their life is threatened, so those mobs often lost most of their participants when they caught an actual witch or wizard.

» As for why the Statute of Secrecy was made… that’s equally as painful a topic, if not more. You see, most of our own wanted to subjugate the Muggles, or eliminate them so that they wouldn't grow into a true threat. Despite their numbers and firearms, the simple Shield Charm is far stronger against physical impacts than spells, so the average adult wizard could directly take hundreds of -billets? Bullets?- before his Shield broke, to say nothing of more exceptional ones. Add to that the existence of magical trickery, compulsion, Legilimency and mind-control, and we had a distinct advantage.

» Some of the wizards, though, were against subjugating or killing the Muggles – among them was one of my ancestors, Bedivere Weasley. Because of his words and actions, many people labelled the Weasley family as 'blood traitors', though the term has lost most of its meaning nowadays. As a result of the existence of 'blood traitors', our leaders of the time feared that some wizards would side with the Muggles against their own. As a compromise, the Statute of Secrecy was written up, being finalised in sixteen eighty-nine and becoming fully active three years later.”

Harry didn't know what to say to that- crap! His leg sank into... an inexistent step in the stairs? Percy helped free his leg, though Harry had to walk carefully because it was a bit sore due to the impact. Percy said, "ah – I see that you have had your first encounter with Hogwarts's... eccentricities," an amused smile on his face, with a small crease in his brow, probably a sign of worry.

Harry cradled his leg without putting more strain on it by putting a hand on the wall and bending in such a way that he balanced on one foot, his right one. Truth be told, he didn't really need to lean on the wall to do that – all the balance and flexibility exercises the football coach had had him do had made him really good at standing on one foot; in fact, one of the main exercises he had had to go through in every training session -and recently kept doing on his own, considering he was away from civilisation, so to speak- was to balance on one foot while holding up the other leg with one of his hands, without leaning on anything.

As for Hogwarts, Harry's interest was admittedly piqued after the pain had gotten less intense. He said, "so, what kind of eccentricities does Hogwarts have?" His fingers twitching a bit, trying to hide his eagerness for an answer.

Percy smiled again, saying, "the main ones are distance sometimes being... inconsistent, illusory steps, secret passages, some of which need passwords, and facilities changing locations. In fact, the Hogwarts Library's entrance was up a single set of stairs from the Great Hall just last year; now, it's still on the floor above the ground floor, but the walk needed is far greater." Then, Percy said, "may I cast a diagnostic Charm on your leg, Harry? All of us Prefects get medical training from our third year, the moment we become even candidates, enough to be able to tell if we need to get someone to Madam Pomfrey."

"Go ahead," Harry said, having developed some trust for the older boy.

Percy murmured some words, then tapped Harry's ankle. He said, "you are just fine, Harry, apart from mild bruising."

Percy is amazing; he's much cooler than Fred and George let on when I sat near them in the feast.

"A-hem. Thank you, Harry," Percy said, looking away. "If the twins only knew that Ginny and I are the ones who prank them at home...," he then murmured, snorting.

Harry hadn't meant to say that out loud. He also decided to pretend he had never heard the last part of what Percy had just said. Percy asked Harry if he would like help with finding everything in the Hogwarts Library, but Harry declined, preferring not to take up more of the older boy's time. As Percy was leaving, he had one piece of advice for Harry: 'respect the rules of the library, or the librarian will be a lot less helpful'.

When Harry entered, he was left with his mouth hanging open. The library was absolutely titanic; it spanned across multiple levels – possibly four or even five? It also went beyond where his eyes could see both in length and in width. I wouldn’t be surprised if the famed Library of Alexandria had been smaller than this.

“The Great Library of Alexandria still exists,” an older feminine voice said behind Harry.

Harry turned around suddenly, seeing a woman in her late thirties, maybe; her hair was brown, chin-length, straight but a bit uncared for, and her black eyes were cold and inexpressive. Her skin was an unhealthy colour similar to parchment and her height, unusually for women, was over a hundred and seventy five centimetres, possibly all the way to a hundred and eighty.

Harry was surprised by this knowledge, but on second thought, maybe he shouldn’t have been. He said, “is there a book about the Library of Alexandria and other important libraries, then?”

“...We shall see,” the woman said in a monotone, “the Hogwarts Library has certain rules which are to be followed to the letter and in the spirit both. It is prohibited to damage or deface any one of the books in any way, so be careful when taking notes; eating anywhere in the Library and picking one's nose is also prohibited, though a bottle of water is allowed, as long as proper precautions are taken; speaking loudly, or otherwise making sounds or noise, is the third prohibition. Casting spells directly on books is the fourth one. The fifth is no messy or noisy public displays of affection, especially if there is a risk of damaging or defacing books; self-affection is included in that. The sixth is that the Restricted Section is not to be accessed by anyone without the proper permit. Finally, nobody is allowed to run, sprint or otherwise move quickly in the Library."

Harry kept himself from laughing at the fifth rule or the nose-picking part of the second one and committed the rules to memory, saying, "I understand and will follow," as convincingly as he could.

"See that you do," the woman said, her expression barely changing, "I am Irma Prince, Head Librarian; you may call me 'Madam Prince'. if you have any questions, you may direct them... elsewhere," then turned to leave.

"I only have one question for you: is there a way to find books more easily without bothering you, Madam Prince?" Harry said.

Madam Prince stopped walking away, then said, "an intelligent question from a student...? Very well. Follow me," without turning to look at Harry.

She took Harry through twists and turns into a hidden corner of the Library, telling him to tap a certain surface with his wand without casting any spells and whisper 'ten to the hundredth power'. Harry did so, and was rewarded with an alphabetical list of all books in the Library, with the option to put in keywords to look up. Unfortunately, as long as he didn't know or suspect at least part of the title of a book, the 'search' function would be near-useless because it couldn't search inside books, only titles. On the up side, he did remember most of the books Professor Flitwick had recommended.

He settled on a book about the most basic of information on Potions, took it to one of the reading areas and sat at a table, starting to read it. It largely had stuff that Harry knew from cooking books such as what a 'pinch' or 'dash' or 'smidgen' was, slicing versus dicing and more. What was new was the information that certain ingredients and Potions were affected by the phases of the moon, the positions of planets and stars and more. It explained Astronomy and Herbology being mandatory from the first year. Harry also found out that the majority of Potions needed a little bit of waving of one's wand, so 'Squibs' and Muggles were unable to make them. Harry wasn't sure what the word ‘Squib’ meant, but maybe it was a different kind of magic user who was unable to use wands, or maybe someone whose magic was crippled somehow.

He closed the book, found one about the most major libraries in existence and their history, and checked them both out for borrowing. Harry resolved to explore the Hogwarts Library, and Hogwarts as a whole, a lot more in the future – he was convinced it hid a lot of secrets beyond the obvious. As he was leaving the Library, he noticed a girl he thought was named Granger peppering Madam Prince with questions, which made him scoff – Irma Prince was not the kind to take well to that. He also noticed a few older students with blue ties on entering the library – Ravenclaws, along with a Ravenclaw girl his age; he didn’t know her name.

-----

History of Magic was, simply put, a snooze-fest; it was on the first day, Tuesday, September third, and it started off with a whimper. Harry found it more productive to study ahead in something theory-heavy, mainly Potions and Transfiguration. That earned him a dirty look from Granger, first name Hermione, who was apparently a major teacher’s pet, but he simply ignored the girl. Those subjects were thus far way easier than French, which he had had to put countless hours into studying to get As and Bs in.

Defence Against the Dark Arts, or DADA, was a serious disappointment, but not as much as it would have been, had Harry not met the professor beforehand. Quirrell was as much of a stuttering wreck as he remembered, maybe even worse, and as bad a teacher as he had suspected. The turban with added garlic smell was an unpleasant surprise, as if the rest wasn't enough. He simply couldn’t understand what it was that made Professor Flitwick wary – unless he had misunderstood the short man’s words. The only thing of note was that the creepy voice in Harry’s head had let out high-pitched sniggers during the lesson, which was out of character for it; possibly because Quirrell was that pathetic.

Professor Flitwick was an engaging teacher, but he refused to teach them -as in, the first-year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs- anything beyond ‘Lumos’ and its counter-charm (‘Nox’) until they had truly mastered those two – with good reason, considering Seamus Finnigan had set fire to one of his books by poking it with his wand, which earned him an Aqueructo, a variation of the Water-Making Charm, in the face by Flitwick… which did put out the fire, without getting the book wet, somehow. Harry, on the other hand, had to get used to the size of his wand before casting – waving around something as long as one foot was not the easiest of things at his age and size; he had already practised the motion that got his wand out of the holster, which Professor Flitwick had been kind enough to show him, but both that and simply holding the wand were still giving Harry trouble.

Harry got himself into his trance-like state, waved his wand and said “Lumos”, thinking of a light and trying to wish it into existence, only to get nothing at all; it was that way for him throughout Flitwick’s class. He wasn’t quite behind, only Parvati Patil had managed anything out of all the Gryffindors and only another girl out of the Hufflepuffs, Bones or something, but he hated not being the best at school; it was something he wasn’t used to, and something which he definitely didn’t like.

‘Let’s take this logically,’ Harry thought, ‘I managed to make a magic light years ago, without a wand. So, the problem either has something to do with the wand, or with a difference in the spells.’ He thought it over a bit more, but couldn’t understand what he was missing. It had been more than half an hour since Flitwick's class had ended, and Harry was still struggling with 'Lumos'.

“Potter,” a familiar voice said.

Harry turned, only to see the girl who was ahead of him in the Charms curriculum, Parvati Patil. She was rather dark-skinned and of obvious Indian descent, with black hair and dark eyes, the latter of which shone with something Harry couldn’t quite figure out.

“What is it, Patil?” Harry said, carefully keeping the frustration out of his tone.

The girl looked at him, then at his wand and said, “want some help with the Charm?”

Harry was about to snap at her, opened his mouth… then closed it again. He carefully considered the proposition and said, “er, sure, why not.”

The giggles Lavender Brown let out made him realise that he had sounded a bit too awkward. He had a bit of a hard time ignoring her, so he glared at her.

“Don’t mind Lavender,” Patil said, smiling awkwardly, “she’s a bit too… jolly?”

“If you say so,” Harry said, smirking this time.

Patil looked away for a moment for some reason and Brown simply giggled more, confusing Harry – he had grown used to being able to guess people's motives and emotions, so this was worrying. Harry didn't let any of his turmoil show on his face, though – he looked at the girls expectantly until they calmed down. He noted that Brown had brown eyes and somewhat long dirty-blond hair in ringlets.

“Oh, yes, the spell!” Patil said, back to normal. Then, she said, “show me how you do it.”

Harry concentrated, did the wand motion and said the incantation, putting his intent into the spell… and failed. So, he did it again, at Patil’s urging… and failed once again.

“You’re doing it all perfectly,” Patil said, confused, “I don’t get what the problem is – you’ve been trying this many times, so it can’t be because you didn’t practise enough like the others. Your wand is yours, not an heirloom – right?”

“Right,” Harry said, familiar frustration building up.

“Do you picture a light coming out of the wand?” Patil said.

“Yes, of cou- wait, is it supposed to come out of the wand directly, like the wand is a torch?” Harry said.

“Yes, though it’s only light, not fire – didn’t you hear Flitwick say that?” Patil said incredulously.

“I must have missed that part of the lecture,” Harry said, annoyed at himself, giving little heed to the fact that Patil knew nothing of modern torches; flashlights, as Mike called them.

Harry tried again, failing once more; this time, though, he realised he was close to a breakthrough. After nearly half an hour and many more tries, he managed to get a very small light. He felt his lips quirk slightly at his accomplishment, snapping out of his trance when he heard clapping.

Patil was the one making that sound. She said, “that’s it Harry, you did great! See? All you needed was a bit of a push,” smiling.

Harry wanted to be annoyed, he really did, but his elation at getting the spell right couldn’t be doused. He said, “thanks, Patil,” trying to smile at her, only to realise that it was more of a smirk again.

“You’re welcome,” Patil said, looking away once again and making Harry want to solve the mystery of her behaviour.

Nox. …By the way,” Harry said, thinking of the old woman who had helped him in the past, “have we met before? I remember meeting an old woman and a little girl who looked just like you a few years ago.”

“What!” Patil said, very loudly, “so, Grandma and Padma weren’t joking?! What the bloo- what the heck?!” Incredulously.

Harry ignored her outburst and left, but he could feel that his lips were still curved upwards at the corners. He found an unused classroom and gave the wand-lighting spell a lot more tries, trying to make the light brighter. Unfortunately, while he managed to change the intensity of the light, he couldn’t control how much it changed, as if it was random. He tried thinking the incantation rather than saying it out loud, but that only made the light more uncontrolled and erratic.

Well, Harry had felt something in the air inside “Ollivanders’ ” and when he first arrived at Hogwarts; maybe he could try feeling the flow of that ‘something’ in him as he used the spell, if it had anything to do with magic...? It was worth a try. Harry got into his trance-like state; unlike his usual application of the state, having modified it to better apply to spellcasting, Harry let his mind wander from thing to thing freely. He cast the spell again with a muttered “Lumos”. There! No, I lost it. Again! It felt like a few minutes had passed when Harry managed to get a handle on the minuscule amount of energy(?), but he heard a bell sound, which signified the start of dinner, so he had been there for hours.

‘I didn’t manage to control the spell better, but come to think of it, I am hungry,’ Harry mused, ‘fortunately, using magic with a wand is much, much less taxing on my body, apparently.’ It took him quite a few minutes to get back to the Great Hall, but Harry managed not to get lost… much.


-----


Every night, Harry kept doing the Occlumency exercises the Hat had put into his mind without fail, with the voice getting less and less frequent in its interventions and his nightmares receding again; he also looked up the ‘something’ he had felt before (the presence of magic?) in the Library’s search function, but found nothing, who knew why – it could be that it was unique to him, that he was using the wrong words… or maybe it was in the Restricted Section.

From the ‘Lumos’ debacle on, Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown had started following Harry around constantly. He was confused by that, until he realised that they wanted to be his friends, which was a new experience for him – he had spent time with his teammates from football, but this was the first time his classmates wanted to befriend him, female ones at that, though the fact that his previous classmates had been nearly twice his age might have been the reason.

Whenever Harry didn't feel like having company, he told Parvati and Lavender (as they insisted he call them) without hesitation, which caused friction between them – Harry didn't deal well with crying girls.... Harry had had to explain that he was mostly a loner many times before the girls got it, or at least chalked it up to Harry being weird and stopped complaining. Dean had been much more understanding, though he found Harry's fondness for isolation hilarious. Fortunately, Dean was much more empathic than Harry, so he had helped calm down Lavender when she had cried.

...Which had still left Harry with soothing Parvati.

Parvati kept snivelling while Harry grasped for what to say or do. Eventually, he put a hand on Parvati's shoulder, saying, "look, Parvati – I like you well enough, but I'm a loner. I don't do well around people all the time."

Parvati looked up, her eyes a bit reddened, and said, "is this the part where you tell me you don't wanna see me ever again?"


What? "Of course not," Harry said, "what I meant is that sometimes I want to be around people, including you, and sometimes I prefer to be left alone."

Harry hadn’t spent so much time around the same people before, but he didn’t like it, apparently – he was certain that if he kept on without saying anything, he would end up sick of Parvati and Lavender before long.


Harry heard a whisper from Parvati, something about books and the series on the Wizarding Wireless failing her, and may her namesake help her with emotionally stunted males. Then, she said out loud, "all right, Mr. loner – I will give you your space," sighing and patting Harry's cheek with a bit too much force.

Harry had been left with only Dean's company for a couple days; Harry thought that it was them that needed space this time, but according to Dean, they probably wanted an apology. Harry weighed the idea in his mind – while he would not apologise, as he had done nothing wrong, he decided to take the initiative and seek out their company; after all, friendship was a two-way street. Apparently, he had had the right idea, because that got the two girls to talk to him again.


Parvati sat close to Harry in the first Transfiguration lesson. When the professor, McGonagall, entered the classroom in her emerald green robes, the woman gave them a short lecture on the dangers of Transfiguration and warned them to take her class seriously, or else get kicked out forever. She then showed them a few Transfigurations that were probably more advanced than the class could handle, including desk-to-pig and her ability to turn into a cat.

Harry wanted some of that; he could think of quite a lot of things that could be accomplished by temporarily becoming a cat... or was it any animal? McGonagall somehow retained human intelligence as a cat, Harry suspected; otherwise, she wouldn't be able to turn back on her own, nor could a real cat look that stern. He tried to wrap his head around how it was possible to change into an animal with a completely different mass or make a living thing out of a desk, but the professor gave them some more safety instructions then, and managed to make Seamus Finnigan nearly piss himself when he tried poking his desk with his wand.

She also warned them very solemnly against transforming things into gases, which could and would kill people when they reverted, and to be extremely careful with Transfiguring from gases and from and to any liquid, too, though Conjuration was less dangerous. “I repeat,” McGonagall said, “never transform anything into a gas – if somebody inhales it, then it turns back into wood or mercury or most anything else inside their body, that person is likely to die. Additionally, it won’t be only one person who inhales it; it could be dozens or hundreds or more. I cannot stress this enough. If I see anyone breaking this rule, I will ban you from performing Transfiguration ever again, and possibly try to have your wand snapped. Eating anything that has been Transfigured can also be lethal, so do not turn them into edible things. Animals are fine; they will revert when cut to pieces or cooked.”

‘She is just as strict as she lets on – of course, Transfiguration is dangerous, so it’s necessary; it’s good I never turned anything into a gas in the past,’ Harry thought. Then, ‘I wonder how hard it is to become an animal with human intelligence,' noting in his mind that he should ask her about it.

Minerva McGonagall looked to be around her early forties; she had black hair tied in a bun and very dark-green eyes, still visible behind her square-shaped glasses, and was nearly as tall as Madam Prince. The Professor had them learn the theory, which Harry had already studied, then gave them matches and told them to try to turn them into needles. This time, it was Hermione Granger who got results first (turning her match a silvery colour), getting two points for Gryffindor, while Harry was considering how to proceed.

“Won’t you try it?” Parvati urged him.

Harry nodded, and didn’t bother saying the incantation out loud… turning the match into a needle.

“My word,” McGonagall said, walking up to them and checking the ‘needle’ for flaws, favouring Harry with an unexpectedly sweet smile, “Mr. Potter, you managed the transformation flawlessly on your first try! Five points to Gryffindor!”

Granger gave Harry the stink eye once again, but Harry ignored her and simply asked McGonagall how to turn the ‘needle’ back.

“Untransfiguration is more difficult than Transformation, Mr. Potter,” the Scottish professor said, but she did give a brief overview on what each branch did and how. “You see, there are four known main branches in Transfiguration, from easiest to hardest: Transformation, Untransfiguration, Vanishment and Conjuration. Untransfiguration spells are considered counter-spells in addition to Transfiguration.

» As for Vanishment, it is the art of turning things into the base materials of the universe, and I mean much smaller than atoms: you are vanishing, essentially destroying, something. Finally, Conjuration is bringing something into existence from base materials – the opposite of Vanishment. Vanishment is taught in the fifth year, whereas Conjuration is taught in the final two years of Hogwarts, as long as you pass your Transfiguration OWL with at least an Exceeds Expectations.”

She showed them a spell, Reparifarge, which could reverse some wrongly done Transfigurations; then, she told them it was normally taught in second year and, even so, few got it before fourth year, because it was a general spell, as in free Transfiguration – not for a specific occasion such as reversing a beetles-to-buttons Transformation. It was taught to students because it was designed to be all but impossible to worsen things and because the sooner a wrongly-done Human Transfiguration was reversed or at least mitigated, the less likely the person was to remain that way… especially when the transformation caused asphyxiation, though wizards’ and witches’ bodies were really adaptable and resilient, so that wasn't easy to cause.

Harry decided that he would manage both Reparifarge and Vanishment with a wand by the end of the next month, October – he would probably be constantly busy with learning things like how to write with a quill and changing the amount of power he put into his spells the current month.

Harry could Vanish things wandlessly, but with nowhere as much ease as before that voice had awakened – he had been able to do that by pointing with his foot, but since then, he could manage it only through his hands. Once he was done with that, he would look into Conjuration. Harry stayed back after the class in order to ask about the human-to-animal transformation, which he did immediately, though politely.

Professor McGonagall silently looked at Harry through her spectacles for a few seconds, then said, "why are you asking, Mr. Potter? Is it for practical jokes?"

Harry's mood soured slightly. He said, "as much as I like the Weasley twins, that kind of stuff is not for me; I've had enough people try to stuff my head into a toilet seat and think it hilarious to put me off such things forever."

"I see," the professor said, still studying Harry, "should I assume that they failed?"

"They did," Harry said, confirming, "I never planned to punch someone in the crotch, but there is a first time for everything."

McGonagall went quiet again, then said, "you are not what I expected, Mr. Potter,” her face strangely unreadable.

"What did you expect, then, Professor?" Harry said, slightly annoyed at yet another person judging him without ever meeting him.

"Do not take that tone with me, Mr. Potter," the woman said, her lips thinning slightly, her eyes narrowing and her nostrils opening and closing many times quickly, "I merely expressed my surprise that you are not nearly as spoiled as the son of the people you were left with was when you both were babies."

That made more sense, marginally – this person had been one of the ones who had left him with the Dursleys... and while all ended well, there was no way anyone with a lick of good sense had thought that was a good idea. Harry took calming breaths, feeling his anger being channeled through the floor, possibly literally, considering the existence of magic. Harry said, "be thankful that Uncle Vernon is a good man; I would rather not imagine what I would be like, had I been raised by Petunia only," his fingers twitching slightly.

Well, his uncle had become a decent person, but he hadn’t started out that way… not that he would tell McGonagall that.

A calmer-looking McGonagall shook her head, saying, "I did express my doubt to Professor Dumbledore, but he brought up the argument of your fame in the Magical World."

That brought Harry short, and made him think: what would he have been like, had he grown up in the midst of hero worship? He shuddered – he had heard horror stories of former child stars who had not had supportive parent figures, especially their adventures with abuse of alcohol and all kinds of illegal drugs. If Harry had grown up with somebody like Petunia anyway, or distant, or indifferent, or someone who spoiled him on top of the hero worship.... "The Headmaster probably made the best, or at least least bad possible call, then," Harry admitted, his anger deflating, leaving him feeling tired.

The professor smiled at Harry again, saying, "that is a mature way to look at things, Mr. Potter; honestly mature, not the kind of maturity that gets a lass praise when what it truly is is distance from her peers because her social skills are extremely lacking, and she finds solace in getting attention from adults such as her teachers... who do not care, and only praise her because they need to put in no effort to get her to stay quiet, pay attention and learn the material. The kind that confuses distaste for her demeanour for envy of her intellect, and seriousness with being an insufferable little- never mind that," her smile fading into a scowl gradually.

Harry wasn’t sure he would be as mature when he faced Dumbledore, but he put that aside because he was a bit confused by the professor's suspiciously specific rant. He said, "are you talking about Hermione Granger, Professor?" Still feeling drained.

McGonagall's face soured further. She said, "she is not the one I was referring to, though she is displaying similar signs to- to a certain young woman I knew during my school years."

Harry looked McGonagall in the eyes, then said, "ah, I see," trying to keep the smirk off his face, but he averted his eyes quickly, remembering the existence of Legilimency.

McGonagall coughed theatrically, then said, "back on topic: why were you asking about the Animagus Transformation?"

Harry grew more animated after that. He said, "I noticed that you kept your intelligence as a cat, and thought up a lot of potential uses… like sneaking out of dangerous places, hiding from murderers and assassins and more." Seeing McGonagall about to interrupt, he quickly added, "don't tell me nobody would want to assassinate me, Professor McGonagall; I'm not stupid. Professor Flitwick told me that more than one heavily cursed artifact found its way into my personal vault by way of gifts, and I can read between the lines."

McGonagall's lips thinned, but she nodded slowly. She said, "very well, Mr. Potter. The Animagus Transformation is one of the highest pinnacles of Transfiguration. One finds their potential form, if they possess one, through a process I am not going to describe. The vast majority of wizards and witches do have the potential to be Animagi, if not all, though it is difficult to tell without a doubt. A person gets a single form, no more; the species varies in accordance with the person's character and personality, and cannot be changed on purpose as far as I know."

McGonagall went into the legality of the Animagus Transformation, then its difficulty and risks; Harry promised he wouldn't try to get into it without instruction from a true expert, at her request – he saw no reason to try breaking that promise, at least until he knew what he was doing. Once McGonagall was finished with her lecture, Harry thanked her for her time, effort and the new knowledge she had imparted.

-----

Severus Snape looked a bit like Madam Prince – tall frame, nearly as tall as Ollivander; inexpressive black eyes, and even colder than Madam Prince’s; unhealthy looking skin, though his was much paler. The greatest differences were that Snape had a much larger, hook-like nose and black hair. He was also a lot younger, possibly in his twenties, and possessed slightly longer hair and a small goatee. Harry thought this professor must be the youngest on the staff, with the possible exception of the stuttering wonder; Quirrell had been sorted into Ravenclaw twenty-three years before according to Flitwick, so the man was most likely thirty-four. Of course, wizards aged differently from muggles, so who could say which of them was younger?

Snape’s robes looked especially ominous – the black colour and long, flowing parts made him look like an overgrown bat. Though his dental hygiene was better than most wizards'(*), his shoulder-length hair was covered in grease. On second glance, it looked less like the usual grease and more like something he had covered his hair in, like hair gel.

The man started taking roll call, but he paused during Harry's name. “Ah, yes, Harry Potter; we will see whether fame translates into talent,” Snape said, the sneer obvious in his voice without even looking.

Harry barely hid a yawn – the Astronomy they had had on the previous night had left him with less sleep than he was used to, since he always woke up early and had been unable to go back to sleep. Snape apparently noticed, because his sneer became worse, but Harry didn’t care enough to apologise.

After finishing roll call, Snape warned them about the dangers of messing up Potions without raising his voice, but somehow managed to make everyone listen carefully. Then, Snape went over safety precautions twice; finally, he gave a rather impressive speech about how powerful Potions could be. After all of that, Snape addressed Harry directly. He said, “Potter! What would one get by mixing asphodel and wormwood?”

Harry thought it over, throwing a brief glare at Granger for the annoying behaviour of raising her hand and shaking it back and forth, then he said, “they form the basis for the Draught of Living Death, a powerful sleeping Potion, Professor.”

“A passable answer,” Snape said, his lips curving downwards slightly, “where would you look for a Bezoar, Potter?”

“The stomach of a goat,” Harry replied without hesitation.

“And what does it do?” Snape insisted.

“It’s a cure to most poisons, Sir,” Harry said, not volunteering any more information.

“So you have read ahead, Potter; continue like this, and you might prove not to be a complete dunderhead. A final question: what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?” Snape said, this time without as pronounced a sneer.

After a bit of thought, Harry remembered the answer. “They are the same plant, Professor Snape,” Harry said; again, not adding anything more.

Harry did thank his lucky stars that he had read all of the books, including Herbology’s ‘One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi’, though. He hadn’t known exactly what was more important and what wasn’t in magical studies, so he had made sure to pay attention to all of them, though he had read some more times than others – ‘Magical Drafts and Potions’ and the Fantastic Beasts book had drawn his attention in a major way. If Professor Flitwick had mentioned the overlap between Herbology and Potions, Harry had missed it, but maybe the man had thought it obvious. Of course, Harry had realised that thanks to the Potions basics book from the library, though late.

“Essentially correct; it is also known as aconite, and can be lethally poisonous to consume; it is even dangerous to touch without gloves, and still lethal to muggles that way,” Snape said, his cold black eyes sweeping across the classroom. Then, he said, “well? Why are all of you not writing it down?” Prompting everyone to pick up their quills.

After all was said and done, Snape put them up to brewing a Cure for Boils, making rounds of the class to check on them; Harry ended up being one of the few people to be alone by their fire, mainly because their professor had been the one to assign them places. Snape told them that they must follow the instructions on the blackboard during their first five years of Potions, not the instructions in the book, whether they were the same or not. That was to avoid sabotage through changing someone's books and for other reasons, the man explained.

The potions recipe on the blackboard seemed simple enough to Harry, who made sure to read the instructions twice before he even started, and true to form, his was one of the few Potions that were the right colour (light red, with hot pink smoke emitting from it); the only others who managed that were a Slytherin boy and a Slytherin girl by the name of Knot or Nott and Davis or maybe Davies, though Harry couldn’t tell which of them deserved the credit; as well as Granger and Malfoy, the former alone and the latter sitting by a darker-skinned Slytherin boy (possibly from Southern Europe(*2)) and regarding Harry’s cauldron and Harry himself with a calculating gaze.

Harry barely kept himself from shivering, turning away from Malfoy and his interest, only to see Seamus Finnigan about to add the porcupine quills with the fire still on, which the books and Snape's instructions cautioned against. He warned the other boy, but it was too late. The liquid inside Finnigan’s cauldron let out green fumes, with Harry holding his breath for good measure.

Snape moved, as Harry saw from the corner of his eye. The solution -it probably could not be called a Potion yet, or… ever- froze in place. It was as if it was replaced by a solid of similar colour. Then, the professor called out an incantation for the first time in the entire duration of the class, ‘Gelflamma’ and after that ‘Evanesco’, making the solution disappear. The incantation 'Gelflamma' was unknown to Harry; the other one was the Vanishing Spell, obviously.

Snape moved his wand a fourth time, saying ‘Ventus Recens’ and the air rippled, making any trace of fumes disappear, which was Harry’s cue to resume breathing. The smell of Pine tree entered his nostrils... which made Harry a bit nauseous because of an incident in which he had found out that he was allergic to Pine tree pollen – he would have liked some Cure for Boils at the time. Fortunately, he was not allergic to the point of his life being at risk, but that incident had still made him panic – in hindsight, it was good that he hadn’t been chosen by a Pine wood wand… well, maybe Harry should research the meaning of wand woods at some point.

Snape berated Finnigan for not paying the instructions enough attention. Finnigan apologised, but Snape said, “apparently, you are too lazy to put effort into your studies, Finnigan; it is one thing to make a mistake due to inexperience and another entirely to take dangerous subjects lightly. You will be seeing me on Saturday evening – scrubbing cauldrons by hand for your detention. Four points from Gryffindor.”

Harry was starting to respect his Potions professor more (and to feel less nauseous), with the man’s next words cementing that respect.

Snape said, “the first spell I cast, you won’t find in books yet; it is something that I invented myself in the past decade, with the Ministry officially approving it and giving me the patent last year – I call it the Delaying Charm, though certain… elements in the Ministry of Magic prefer the name ‘Stasis Charm’. It does not work on most currently-living beings, but is really well-suited to situations like this. The second one was the Flame-Freezing Charm, incantation ‘Gelflamma’; its movement is waving one’s wand downwards from above their head. Ask your Charms professor for information on that one.

» ‘Evanesco’ is the incantation for generic Vanishment, which is a branch of Transfiguration. As for the Air-freshening Charm, incantation ‘Ventus Recens’, it is one of the spells attributed to Merlin himself, though he apparently did not consider it very useful according to surviving writings. Merlin lived in the tenth and eleventh century Anno Domini and was sorted to Slytherin House at Hogwarts, though he was retroactively added to events –or rather fiction– of six centuries before then sometime in the eleventh or twelfth century. King Arthur may or may not have existed.”

Harry was looking at his young professor in awe; he could see that, though Snape’s explanation was a bit protracted, it had managed to awaken a thirst for mastering magic and learning about Wizarding history in his classmates that no amount of listening to Binns drone on would; not even Professor Flitwick was that good at motivating a class. He wondered just how reliable the sources of a thousand years in the past were, and if Snape was serious about Merlin having been a Slytherin.

‘Wait,’ Harry thought, ‘I might forget the incantations and such!’ Immediately starting to take notes on what Professor Snape said, making a lot of smudges in his inexperience with quills.

As Harry was leaving, having delayed a bit in order to keep a sample of his first ever Potion in a vial, he heard a whispered "Maybe you are not a lazy waste of space, Harry Potter. Two points to Gryffindor for shouting a warning just quickly enough for me to act, and for proper preparation", but he might have imagined that.

‘Yes,’ Harry determined, ‘there’s no way Snape said that. He didn’t even give points to his Slytherins!’

-----

IIRC, Neville and Seamus worked on the same cauldron during the first Potions lesson. Considering Snape’s potential bias against Neville, it’s possible that it was Seamus who screwed up. That Seamus causes explosions in multiple subjects is also a point against him.

*There's no way Snape couldn't whip up something that would protect and/or fix his teeth and hair… if you want more of an explanation, then it's spite that made him take more care of himself (kids mocking him about his appearance during his Hogwarts student years).

*2 I'm not sure if Blaise was described as black or simply 'dark skinned' in the books, but I went with the latter, which could mean a Mediterranean tan, so he's Italian, like a lot of writers make him.

…Take Percy’s words on the Statute of Secrecy and witch hunts with a grain of salt. Both alternate history and unreliable narrator apply to this. Also read carefully; someone on another site thought I was saying that wizards are immune to Muggles, which is not true. PERCY said that the Shield Charm was near-impossible to break via 'billets'... in the 1600s to 1700s, when firearms were far inferior to today, and Muggles had a far lower population and smaller armies.
 
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Innortal

Well-Known Member
#8
Not bad, aside from the blank spots and uneven spacing, still a good read.
 

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#9
Not bad, aside from the blank spots and uneven spacing, still a good read.
Yeah, the spacing was ruined when I copy-pasted, and the rest is because the chapter is still an unfinished draft. Will fix all that gradually.

Thanks for the kind words. :)

Edit: I have also changed Chapter 1 and 2 a lot - you might want to give them a reread if you haven't already.
 
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Sidestory: Death of a Warrior

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#10
This may or may not happen this way in the future.

Sidestory: Death of a Warrior

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-----

Bellatrix Black was there, unaware that anyone was around – all Harry had to do was to cast a curse to kill her; hopefully, this wouldn’t compromise his primary objective. Bellatrix was the first person to ever escape Azkaban, unbeknownst to the Ministry at the time – thanks to an Imperiused, Polyjuiced patsy who committed suicide soon after; Bellatrix was equally as skilled at the Imperius as she was at the Cruciatus.

Severus,’ Harry said in his mind, casting Snape’s Curse, ‘Sectumsempra’ – a modified version of the Severing Charm (Diffindo), which Harry had modified further to be cast faster, at centre mass.

Ironically, the incantation was Snape's name. Harry had a complicated relationship with his Potions professor; of course, if he ever named something more important, like his own child, after the man… well, Harry should be committed to St. Mungo’s for finally cracking.

Harry watched the curse sail the seven metres between his wand and Bellatrix’s back as if in slow motion; three to go. One-

Bellatrix, as if sensing the danger, suddenly sidestepped to the left; a shimmer (a wandless rudimentary magical Shield?) appeared on her right side, deflecting the curse just enough for it to miss her, pushing her to spin counter-clockwise. She completed the twirl, and Harry thought, ‘Protego!’ on reflex.

Thunk!

A- a throwing knife…? It nearly got me in the chest, and I’m invisible! How…? Fortunately, ‘Protego’ works against both physical and magical threats.

Harry threw himself away with the momentum, just in time to get some distance from an object coming his way.

Boom!

The object exploded, making Harry’s Shield Charm strain, then disappear with a mostly inaudible ‘pop’, but Harry had already managed to avoid injury. Unfortunately, the flashing colours from the paint on Harry’s skin and clothes rendered his Disillusionment Charm useless, so he let it dissipate.

‘It’s similar to a paint bomb, except lethal… the paint is probably magical, too!’ Harry thought, a bit worried but still confident.

From that point on, Harry could only react, not think. Sidestep, then Piercing Hex(*) ; banishing away a thrown knife, then Conjuring a physical shield made of bronze for an unknown red-coloured Curse. Shit!

Harry’s entire frame shook, the Curse Bellatrix had sent at his shield making it vibrate to the point he was affected too – he had to throw the shield and make it burst, taking what fragments remained of itself and the Curse Bellatrix’s way; he sent himself into a controlled dive with some help from his wandless magic. Harry felt a sharp pain in his calf, letting out a yelp, but making sure to Conjure a ‘surprise’ or two, and imbue them with poison, compulsions and stealth spells wandlessly.

Harry heard crystal clear laughter, then he saw Bellatrix’s face. She looked young and sane, unexpectedly, and was also hauntingly beautiful; her thick, lustrous dark hair, long eyelashes and surprisingly expressive brown eyes, as well as her high cheekbones, tall frame and her overall demeanour gave the impression of a queen or princess from a film, or times past. The sweet smile on her thin lips and flush on her cheeks could have an onlooker believe she was about to meet with her lover….

Bellatrix’s smile widened, and she came to a stop near Harry. She still kept her wand trained on him, and Harry his own trained on her. Harry felt slightly faint and nauseous, soon realising that the knife in his calf had been poisoned… he barely managed to keep himself from smirking. That ritual Master Flamel had persuaded him to go through, with use of Basilisk fang (from the one he had slain in the Chamber of Secrets); Phoenix Tears, willingly given (which Master Flamel had had to be persuaded to part with despite it being his idea, using up nearly half of his stash according to the man. Harry was sure that the old, lying bastard hadn’t even used a fifth) ; Hemlock and twelve Bezoars was truly proving its worth.

Bellatrix spoke, saying, “that was an amazing fight, for your age at least, Harry Potter! It is a pity there is going to be no second round,” her smile turning feral.

Harry shot a Curse at her, casting silently, like he had for the entire battle, but she batted it away, and Harry dropped his wand on the floor, saying, “what- did-”

Bellatrix laughed again, but her laughter held a tinge of insanity, showing at last. Harry shot a wandless Full-Body Bind at her the moment he thought she was off-guard, and somehow, it worked!

Crunch!

Harry’s conjured snakes had bitten into Bellatrix’s legs, and Harry palmed his wand again, using the spell Athena Ross had made out of a Transfiguration accident her cousin, Baruffio, had been responsible for, centuries before Harry’s time: ‘Expulso,’ Harry thought.

From such a distance- no. Bellatrix redirected it using a small wandless shield. Harry had no time to marvel at how quickly she broke the Body-Bind before he had to dodge, hearing "Crucio!" from the dangerous woman. He stumbled a bit, his injured leg unable to take his weight.

Shnikt!

A second knife found its target in an off-balance Harry’s left side, but it didn’t manage to do more than graze his ribs. He looked up, seeing Bellatrix’s hands shake; he couldn’t assume that she didn’t have some kind of poison resistance of her own, though, so he cast ‘Severus’ at centre mass again, managing to cut off a few of Bellatrix’s fingers due to her dodging, making her let out a high-pitched shriek. Harry removed the knife from his calf and banished it at Bellatrix with a single spell, ‘Waddiwasi’(*2), letting out a grunt in his pain. He was nearly hit by her Killing Curse due to the distraction, but managed to Conjure a block of marble between the two of them at the last moment, not daring to try moving again.

Harry was breathing really hard. He could hear multiple footsteps coming around the corner and, knowing that his infiltration had failed, he cast a temporary counter for the Anti-Portkey Jinx for good measure; used a Transfiguration spell, then a variation of the Banishing Charm on a Bellatrix who was down with a knife in her eye; then murmured, “Confringo,” the Blasting Curse, the first time in the battle he had vocalised a spell. He immediately fiddled with his necklace in a particular way, which was obviously an illegal Portkey. As he felt the tug on his navel, he heard screams of fear, then a booming sound, making him smile at permanently taking out at least one enemy in Bellatrix, likely more.

Considering the fact that the transfiguration he had used on Bellatrix combined with the Blasting Curse essentially turned her into a powerful Fragmentation Grenade… well, it was unlikely that ‘dear Bella’ had been the only one to die. ‘Fortunately, I got the timing right; otherwise, I would have been shredded to pieces, too,’ Harry thought, his heart still pounding in excitement and a hint of fear.

The dark tones and somewhat oppressive atmosphere of Grimmauld Place, Number 12 greeted him from his position on the floor, with Kreacher fussing over him. A hilarious thought had Harry in hysterics, ‘not too long ago, Kreacher would be beside himself not out of worry – only because I’ve bled on the carpet.’

“Master is delirious, looks more colourful than barmy old Headmaster and has landed on his behind, which he has not done in months; blood loss must be severe,” Kreacher said, making Harry laugh more.

-----
-----

*It’s similar to a gun’s bullet, without the bullet.

*2 Yes, I did just make that spell useful in a fight to the death. :) Obviously, in this, it doesn’t just work on soft material, or Harry managed to modify it.
 
Last edited:
Harry 4

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#11
Harry read the letter he had received once again, but he still couldn’t make sense of it.


“What is it, Harry?” Parvati said, brows furrowed, “you’ve been glaring at that letter for the past few minutes.”


Harry simply handed it over, hoping that she could understand it better.


Parvati read the letter, and turned to Harry. She said, “I don’t get what you don’t get. It’s an invitation to tea Hagrid sent you – simple enough, though the spelling and calligraphy could use a lot of work,” looking at him as if questioning his intelligence.


“Yeah, but… why?” Harry said, still puzzled.


“Because he knew your parents – it says so in the letter, duh!” Parvati said, rolling her eyes.


“He doesn’t know me at all, though,” Harry said, starting to get annoyed – he wasn’t sure what he was annoyed at, though.


“Then go and get to know him, you grumpy lump!” Parvati urged him, smiling. “You could also ask him about your parents!” She concluded.


“Oh! Oh! Can I come with?!” Lavender interjected, a jolly grin on her face.


“I haven’t even decided if I’ll go yet,” Harry said, half-heartedly. In truth, he had already decided to accept the invitation.


Lavender looked at him skeptically, raising her eyebrows in an exaggerated way.


Harry noted how hard it was to lie to Lavender; she was nowhere near as gullible as Parvati. ‘Too bad she’s so… giggly,’ Harry thought, ‘and never applies herself to learning magic. As for her obsession with Divination, I’m not sure what to think of it. Did she get that from Parvati? I wonder.’


-----


Harry and his female friends reached Hagrid’s hut a few minutes after they left the Great Hall; all the while, the two girls were chatting with one another about some topic or another. Harry felt strange when he left the castle – he could no longer feel many sources of… magical energy (?) from it, only one major source. Harry hesitated when he reached the door, only for Lavender to intervene and knock on it herself. The blonde gave Harry a questioning look, but Harry shrugged and stared ahead.


!


The barking of a dog snapped Harry out of his fugue, making him take a couple steps back and stumble a bit due to a stone beneath his feet. He lifted his hands, ready to cast magic.


“Down, Fang, down!” A deep and rough voice said, a huge hand holding the even larger black dog by its red collar.


Harry didn’t dare look up at the source of the voice; he kept both eyes on the dog, which was… whimpering and rolling on the ground? Maybe Harry somehow managed to scare- ‘Wait,’ Harry thought, ‘why is Lavender petting it? Why is it licking her hand?’


Harry reluctantly lowered his right hand, though he kept his left pointed at the giant dog. It wasn’t overly bulky, but its height was greater than any dog he had encountered before; Ripper was probably a monster only because that bloody bitch Marge had raised it, but Harry didn’t trust dogs anyway.


Harry said, “hello, Mr. Hagrid,” still keeping track of the dog from the corner of his eye, “are you well?”


“I’m jus’ fine Harry, but call me Hagrid – no ‘Mr.’. Whatabou’ you?” Hagrid said. Then, the man said, “don’t yeh worry ‘bout Fang. He’s a total softy – bit of a coward, too.”


“Hagrid,” Harry said, “how tall is… Fang?” Genuinely curious.


“Oh, four foot one, or thereabouts – don’ ask me how much that is in metres,” Hagrid said, waving his hand around.


Harry did a few calculations in his mind – that amounted to slightly below 125 centimetres. Was it normal for dogs to reach such sizes? Or were magical breeds -or enlarging Charms- involved?


“Fang’s a Great Dane, or Boarhound – not completely purebred, tho’,” Hagrid said, speaking again, “muggle breeds of this dog cin reach three foot five, mabe a bit more. Fang has sum magical dog blood, I think.”


Hagrid apparently knew his stuff when it came to animals, both magical and not. While Harry wasn’t interested in dog trivia, he made note of Hagrid’s apparent expertise. The boy reluctantly approached the large dog and Hagrid. Since Harry could see the man more clearly, he could tell that Hagrid’s hair was black; despite all those whiskers, Hagrid didn’t look a day over thirty-five; no white hair to find, nor did he have any difficulty moving. The gigantic man could be anywhere from his early thirties to even his late fifties, though magicals tended to look younger than they actually were.


Harry’s curiosity reared its head again – before he could stop himself, he said, “so, Hagrid – on an unrelated note, how old are you?”


Lavender and Parvati glared at Harry for some reason – was he being rude? ‘Oh well, those two will get over it,’ Harry thought, not overly concerned; maybe he once cared about such things, but if so, that time was long gone. He knew how to mimic other people’s behaviour, but would only do so if necessary.


Hagrid’s lips and whiskers twitched. He said, “would yeh believe me if I told yeh nobody has asked me that fer years? I will be sixty-three in a coupla months.”


“You don’t look sixty-two,” Harry commented.


Parvati kept glaring at Harry, while Lavender said, “yeah, you look so young, Hagrid!”


Hagrid laughed awkwardly, saying, "yeh kids are makin' me blush."


‘Hagrid is like a kid mentally, too,’ Harry thought, though without venom – he actually liked Hagrid, to a point, much to his surprise.


Suddenly, a whistle-like noise resounded in the hut, making Harry twitch, but no more than that; he was slowly getting used to being startled in the wizarding society. Hagrid excused himself to get the tea; he returned with a teapot that looked to be hand-carved imperfectly out of porcelain, a few cups that were probably made the same way but of clay and with better craftsmanship, and what looked like rock-cakes.


According to Hagrid, the rock-cakes were vanilla flavoured with raisins. Harry tried one – it was crunchy outside and softer inside, which was par for the course for a rock-cake. Unfortunately, it was way too soft and mud-like inside, as if it hadn’t been heated for long enough.


"Well? How are them rock-cakes? I managed not ter make them too hard to chew this time, right?" Hagrid asked.


This time…? Harry sensed a story there. Shrugging that off, Harry was completely honest on how bad the sweet Hagrid baked was and why.


Parvati said, "Harry!" Trying to scold him.


Lavender, of all people, came to Harry's defence. She said, "Parvati – Harry has a point. If we don't tell Hagrid what's wrong with his cakes, how do you expect him to get better? Hagrid. You shouldn't move sweets around all the time, though a few rotations help with a problem like this. You shouldn't open the oven door too many times, if you’re using an oven. If the cake has ended up almost raw inside, next time you should try with lower temperature. If they’re too hard to chew, mix more slowly, gently and by hand next time – no magic for stirring and not much strength at all. Make sure to use the right kind and amount of flour.”


Hagrid asked Lavender to tell him all those tips again... so the blonde did.


Harry was surprised by Lavender's knowledge of baking, but he didn’t say anything. Parvati was looking at Lavender with her mouth open, saying, “Lavender… since when have you known how to bake?”


Lavender rolled her eyes in exasperation. She said, “don’t tell me that ‘cause I’m a disaster when cooking, you thought I’d be bad at baking, too?”


“Well, yeah,” Parvati said, mouth still a bit open.


“At least you’re honest,” Lavender said, smirking, “what about you, Harry?


“What about me… what?” Harry said, smirking back at Lavender.


Lavender sighed and said, “did you think I’d be bad at baking, too? Can you bake and cook?”


“Yes to all three,” Harry said, still smirking.


Parvati perked up. She said, “wait, you can cook and bake, Harry? My grandmother has shown me how to bake a few traditional sweets from India, but I’m not very good at making them on my own!”


Harry thought back to when his aunt and uncle had had him cook most meals; his mood darkened. “Yes. I’m decent at cooking, but I don’t do it often. On the other hand, I’m both really good at baking and do it often – I'm the one who usually makes sweets at home," Harry explained, "my aunt isn't one to make such things – my cousin and uncle had a problem with their weight, so if any of us wants something unhealthy, she won't make it, and even the one making it is not allowed more than a certain amount."


Not that Harry cared what his aunt said, but he didn’t want his uncle or cousin to go back to being overweight, and followed his coach’s suggestions on what to eat, who happened to agree with his aunt on sweets. The amounts he ate, on the other hand, were far beyond what anyone else he had known ate… probably because wizards needed more energy, because he had seen Parvati, Sally-Anne Perks and Ronald eat nearly as much.


"Are your uncle and cousin better with their weight now?” Lavender asked.


"Yes," Harry said, "they have both lost weight and put on a bit of muscle; my uncle has taken up kickboxing, my cousin plays basketball now – I had known Dudley was good at aiming before then, but not THAT good! Both of them are eating more healthy thanks to advice from a dietician."


“Glad to hear it,” Lavender said, “what’s ‘basketball’ and ‘kickboxing’, though?”


“Muggle sports,” Harry said, feeling too lazy to explain further – he was lucky that Dean had taken over explaining football to the girls, because Harry didn’t have much patience for that kind of thing.


“Yeh kids are so responsible for yer age!” Hagrid said, blowing his nose.


Fang barked once, startling Harry again. The boy said, “so, it’s getting late, Hagrid – I’ll be taking my leave now.”


“I didn’t even get ta tell you about yer parents,” Hagrid said, “oh well – come back sometime, yeh hear?”


“Sure thing, Hagrid,” Harry said, smiling awkwardly at the gigantic man.


As the three children were returning to the castle, Lavender pestered Harry about what muggle sports he knew. Harry told her and Parvati that they already knew about football, then some things about basketball, but didn’t mention that he had dabbled in basketball, too; he had played some games against Dudley, though it was really difficult to beat his cousin because Dudley was more accurate and far more skilled in that particular sport, and a bit taller and stronger too, though Harry was catching up in strength rapidly.


‘I wonder if those who have magic tend to be stronger, more durable, faster and all that rot,’ Harry thought.


He decided to get back to exercising nearly religiously – his coach had warned him against overdoing it, because it might keep him from growing much taller in the future, but Harry could do with going back to his previous routine; he had been somewhat slack at Hogwarts.


-----


“Flying lessons?” Harry said out loud, looking at the announcement board in the Gryffindor Common Room.


“Flying?! Where!” A voice said, and a boy Harry knew as Ronald Weasley came running, nearly bowling over Harry.


Harry managed to dodge, barely. His lips pursed, but before he could tear into Ronald, Granger made a snide comment.


The annoying girl said, “Ronald – I always thought you were like an ape, but I was wrong; you are a lot less coordinated than one.”


Harry snorted – he hadn’t expected that of Granger. Who knew she had a sense of humour? He left the two annoying fools to their long bickering... well, Ronald at least had a little bit of tact and social skills, Harry would give him that, even if he was impulsive and slightly clumsy. Granger did not, from what he had witnessed himself and all the things Parvati and Lavender had told him. The two of them probably thought he had tuned out their gossiping, but because of his practice with keeping his mind focused, he was able to pay only the barest bit of attention to someone's words and still remember them... which made his gaffe with the Wand-Lighting Charm all the more annoying.


Now, whether he cared if their roommate Sophie Roper liked other girls; or that another roommate of theirs, Annabel Entwhistle was sorted into a different house from her twin brother, like Parvati with her sister Padma; or about their final roommate other than Granger, Sally-Anne Perks, supposedly having been abandoned by her muggle father at a very early age... well, that was another story. Okay, so maybe the last one had drawn his attention.


-----


Harry read the Potions book one more time, then he got started with the book on the history of the libraries of the ancient world, including that of Alexandria and even Hogwarts’s library. According to the book, even the Muggles knew that Julius Caesar had only destroyed a small minority of its scrolls, but at the time, Wizarding intellectuals had decided to splinter from the muggle ones and take all Magic-related scrolls and many mundane ones with them. What had truly killed the muggle part of the Library was stagnation and a drop in the prestige and reputation it had had as a centre of making new discoveries – it had never been 'just a library' before.


Harry wondered if there had been any innovation in the Wizarding societies during the twentieth century and how it compared to the Muggles' progress. The modern-day wizarding Library of Alexandria held a lot of older knowledge -hoarded it, if Harry was reading between the lines correctly-, but Hogwarts permitted access to its library to a lot more people and nearly matched the bulk of books and scrolls, not to mention Harry suspected it was kept more up-to-date.


There were a lot of dry facts, names and dates hiding the more important parts, too. Maybe less interesting a read than Harry had expected, but knowing just how amazing the Hogwarts Library was had been worth the tedium. His project over and done with, Harry got started with the Potions essay of the week. It was about what Potions certain common ingredients were used in, though they hadn't yet got into the 'why'.


Once Harry had mostly got the hang of writing with a quill and swinging around his wand, including the most common wand movements, he got started with Reparifarge in an abandoned classroom one early morning. After quite a few failures, Harry resorted to looking into more advanced Transfiguration theoretical background. It looked like even reversing a very simple Transformation would take a lot of reading, so he got started with Vanishment immediately.


Harry first took a button he had asked McGonagall for, focused, then murmured "Evanesco", willing it to disperse into the most basic of sub-atomic particles. It worked on the first try, which made sense considering Harry's most prominent accidental magic had been related to that, but Vanishing the button had taken more than two seconds to manage, so Harry practised for over an hour with various small inanimate objects, until it took one and a half second consistently, with most of that time spent entering the trance-like state.


What Harry did next was try it without speaking aloud, which took him back to square one, as in over two seconds to manage it each time. Harry decided to continue some other time and go for breakfast; since he had got one of his projects mostly out of the way, he decided to explore the castle after he would have breakfast – constantly reading books and practising magic made Lavender, Parvati and Dean nag Harry to relax more, especially on Sundays like the current day.


-----


Harry went up to his dorm, with Parvati going to her own, and Dean and Lavender staying in the Common Room. He gathered some of his stuff and was getting ready to start his excursion when Dean talked to him in the Common Room.


"What're you up to, Harry?" Dean asked, looking up from the sketch he was colouring.


Harry said, “I’m going to explore the castle a bit – I might find something interesting,” his mind on whatever secrets the castle held.


Dean shrugged, saying, “have fun, then.”


Lavender said, “can I go with you?” Speaking more softly than her usual.


Harry had been about to say ‘no’ when he considered Lavender’s question – she was more observant than most gave her credit for; her presence might help him find something. He said, “all right, Lavender.”


“Why not?- Wait, did you just say yes?” Lavender said, her eyes wide open, looking at Harry.


Dean sniggered at that point.


“Sod off, you git!” Harry told Dean, making a grimace, but all that only made the git laugh harder.


“Let’s go,” Harry told Lavender and power-walked to the Fat Lady’s portrait.


“…Wait for me!” Lavender said loudly, her quick steps echoing behind Harry.


-----


Harry looked around for anything interesting while Lavender was looking at Harry himself. She said, “so, Harry, what’re we looking for?”


He breathed in and out, entering the trance from His Dark Materials, his attention loose (unlike what he used when he cast) but still very much aware. Harry held up a hand to shush Lavender, who had started to speak again, and waited until he found stronger sources of energy (Magic?) to follow. He told Lavender that anything interesting would do. “You should poke my shoulder if you notice something potentially interesting; things that may hide secret passages and such,” Harry said, still in his state, which he should really give a name to at some point.


Following the strongest trail, Harry made sure not to go too fast, so that Lavender could keep up. He ended up in a corridor whose end felt… alive, in a way. He went up to the door at said end, turned the doorknob… unfortunately, it was locked. Harry knew how to pick locks thanks to one of his teammates in the football team, but it usually took him more than ten minutes for success, so he didn’t feel like it at the moment; maybe Transfiguration to destroy the lock…? ‘Note to self,’ Harry thought, ‘learn a spell for unlocking things. When I was locked in the cupboard, I used the time alone to practise my magic, so there was no need for such a spell, and I could have transformed the door in an emergency.’


Lavender poked Harry, making him turn around. She said, “Harry, I think we’re in the forbidden third floor corridor,” whispering, and shivering slightly.


“Let’s leave, then,” Harry said, not lowering his voice much.


“…Where are they, my sweet? What do you smell?” A voice that sounded like Filch said.


Lavender gasped, but Harry bent down to her ear, saying, “don’t make a noise even if Filch is in front of us. I’ll find a way.”


Maybe Harry should use the Wand-Lighting Charm to blind him? Nope, then Filch would have a real reason to take off points. Wandless? The voice and meowing were getting closer. A hybrid approach? Harry got into his trance-like state, touching his left sleeve where his slightly gnarled wand was using his right hand, then thinking of how he used illusions like the Torture Vision and trying one, this time making it so that anyone coming around the corner would see and hear nobody… hopefully.


Filch was there before Harry had time for anything further. Lavender let out a muffled whimper, but Filch was looking back and forth, obviously confused. Mrs. Norris, his cat, stopped in front of them, sniffing. Harry was breathing in and out carefully but Filch, then the cat moved on, with Filch murmuring something about the ‘miscreants’ having left. Harry waited a few moments, then took Lavender by the hand and started walking away without rushing, with her still shaking.


Once they had reached safety, Harry let go of Lavender’s hand. She leaned against a wall and sighed out loud, then again. She put her palm on her chest over her heart and started breathing faster and faster. Harry put a hand on her shoulder, then said, “slowly. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth… yes, like that,” his voice as steady as he could make it.


“Ho- how are you so calm?” Lavender said, no longer hyperventilating or shaking as much but still shivering a bit and speaking weakly.


Harry felt ready to do a lot more; just keeping a trance-like state active for twenty minutes on end or so and casting an illusion wasn’t enough to tire him out, mentally or otherwise, anymore. He said, “because I was focused enough on the goal of getting away that I had no chance to panic. You should go relax – I’ll do something else… maybe look up spells useful for getting away from creepy gits like Filch.”


Besides, Harry was not quite as unaffected as he pretended to be.


“O- okay,” Lavender said, not even protesting Harry going to the Library again in her post-panic state. Then, she said, “will you take me back to the Common Room?” Her voice more stable, but still weak.


“Er… all right,” Harry said, realising he preferred not to leave Lavender in such a state alone.


After taking her there, he waved goodbye and walked toward the Hogwarts Library, walking more quickly than earlier but still not jogging – Filch would probably yell at him for doing that, and Harry had no intention of running afoul of that man and his cat twice in the same hour.


He entered the Library, in which only Ravenclaws of all years and a few of his fellow Gryffindors in upper years were around, picked three books after using the search function: ‘42 Plus One Common But Still Useful Charms’, ‘Charms For New Mothers’ and ‘Charms That Can Help in a Pinch’, withdrew the Standard Book of Spells Grade 1 and Grade 2 from his bag, then started reading. The book for mothers or the one for help in a pinch would hopefully contain something that could help people who were choking… or hyperventilating, like Lavender nearly had earlier.


The spells he found most promising and easy to learn were the Repairing Charm, ‘Reparo’; the Locking Charm, ‘Colloportus’ and its counterspell, the Unlocking Charm, ‘Alohomora’; the Revelio Charm, incantation ‘Revelio’, which showed concealed objects; the Smokescreen Charm, ‘Fumos’; the General Counter-Spell, ‘Finite’; the Severing Charm, ‘Diffindo’; the Liquid-Siphoning Charm, ‘Tergeo’, which was considered a household Charm; the Air-Freshening Charm, ‘Ventus Recens’, which had in-depth instructions that Professor Snape hadn’t bothered getting into; also, the Flame-Freezing Charm, ‘Gelflamma’, same as the latter. Harry withdrew some parchment, a quill and ink, taking care not to spill any of the latter on the books.


He went ahead and made notes on all of those, and even some spells that were supposed to be above his level, such as the Summoning Charm, ‘Accio’ and the Banishing Charm, ‘Depulso’, which were not recommended for anyone below the age of thirteen to try (even though he had managed them without a wand at a very early age, the latter with much proficiency) ; the Breath-Clearing charm, incantation ‘Anapneo’, a simple healing Charm that helped people who were having trouble breathing, or were hyperventilating or choking on something – anything like that, but it was not recommended for anyone below twelve to try and the Slowing Charm, ‘Arresto Momentum’. The Confundus Charm, ‘Confundo’; the Freeing Charm, ‘Relashio’, which forced anyone who was grabbing them, even rope or chains to let go and the Disillusionment Charm, ‘Krypse Me’ were the last spells he took notes on… they might help in the future with Filch and his cat, though the latter was not recommended for anyone below fifteen to try.


He almost decided to make notes on a few more, but Harry’s hands were cramping, and he could tell that they either were beyond him at the moment or he likely wouldn’t need them for a while – namely, the Minor Living-Tissue-Realigning Charm, ‘Episkey’, which took a lot of knowledge on anatomy, so it was beyond Harry; the Human-Presence-Revealing Spell, ‘Homenum Revelio’, which wasn’t a priority at the moment and the Muggle Repelling Spell, ‘Repello Muggletum’, which was the same. The Levitation Charm, Wingardium Leviosa, was not necessary because according to Flitwick, he would be teaching their class that spell next time. Maybe the Time-Telling Spell, ‘Tempus’(*)? Harry’s watch had broken not long after he had got to Hogwarts, and he hadn’t had the opportunity to get a new one.


Having finished his research on Charms, Harry put the Library books back where he had found them and moved on to Transfiguration theory – he wouldn’t be able to learn Reparifarge without research, after all. He borrowed other books, and removed his own book on Transfiguration from his bag. By the time Harry was satisfied with his progress, he was a bit tired mentally, and both his hands were cramping even more from taking notes, with Harry having switched from one to let the other rest more than once while taking notes. He put his own books back into his bag, returned the books on Transfiguration he had borrowed and left, wondering what time it was.


Before Harry realised, he had already reached the Great Hall, sitting down at the Gryffindor table to wait for the lunch bell to ring, which happened only a few minutes later. There were three hours between the end of breakfast and the start of lunch, so he must have been in the library for two hours and a half or so. As the other students trickled into the Great Hall and dishes started appearing… somehow, Harry piled various things onto his plate and started eating, waving when Dean and Parvati sat on either side, but not actually speaking to them.


Lavender came along after Harry had already finished eating, sitting down next to Parvati. She was still a bit flushed and had her head down, with the questions Parvati was asking not helping, so Harry intervened, saying, “we met Filch near the third floor corridor, though he didn’t see us.”


“And just what were you two doing there?” Parvati asked, putting her hands on her hips.


Harry rolled his eyes at her over-dramatic act and said, “we accidentally got there while looking for secret passages and such-”


“You mean you got us there,” Lavender said, lifting her head for the first time in a while.


Harry said, “okay, so that was mostly my-”


“Completely,” Lavender interjected, scrunching up her eyebrows.


“...That was completely my fault. Happy now?” Harry said grumpily, probably making a sour face.


“Very,” Lavender said, sounding cheerful.


“Good, because I’m going to jog for a bit around the grounds… without anyone to infect me with their waves of happiness. Be seeing you,” Harry said, waving at them.


If there were any protests, Harry didn’t hear them – he fully intended to practise some of the spells he had found after he finished his workout. He removed his glasses, folded them and put them in a pocket. He still had his book-bag on his shoulders, but Harry didn’t mind – it wasn’t much of a weight, considering it only contained three books at the moment (one on Transfiguration theory and two of the Standard Book of Spells series). He passed by only a few students relaxing in the grounds, probably because of the cold, while jogging – at first, he went easy to get used to the weight and let his stomach settle, but he soon picked up the pace.


…All too soon, Harry was tired enough to slow down to a fast walk, then slower and slower until he stopped. His -visible- breathing also slowed down gradually until it reached normal levels. He entered his trance-like- -well, his Casting Trance, as he had decided to call it- drew his wand with a motion of his left arm and said ‘Tempus’, thinking of what time it was. Numbers appeared in the air, made of smoke, but dissipated quickly. Harry tried quite a few more times, until he managed something more clear and lasting.


438699458518128657


“What in the bloody hell-?” Harry said out loud. If it could at least be more legible!


The number changed on the next cast; it rested at:

438,699,458,518,128,675


“Well, at least I got my wish for more legibility,” Harry said to himself again, “how much is this in years?” Casting again.


438,699,458,518,128,701 sec = 13,911,068,573 years + 11 min + 41 sec


‘…Don’t Muggles estimate the Universe to be around fifteen billion years old?’ Harry thought, ‘they’re apparently slightly off…,’ freaking out a bit at how casually a barely-trained wizard could render decades of research and millennia of speculation obsolete and possibly for other reasons he could not quite discern – not to mention his awe at knowing something like that.


Harry felt really small compared to the rest of the universe; his life was barely a speck in the overall universe's existence, but the awe was swiftly giving way to another emotion: anger. Hadn’t a wizard discovered the age of the universe before? If they had, had they been stupid enough to dismiss it as a random number or simply unimportant? Harry took deep breaths – there was a chance he was wrong, and the Wizarding society already knew the age of the universe, so there was no point in getting angry.


He dismissed the smoke with a wave of his wand, then tried the spell a few more times until he got a recognisable result consistently.


13:49, 44 sec


Harry let out the breath he hadn't realised he had been holding in, and it was visible in the chilly Scotland October weather – success at last! He had left the Great Hall fifty-eight minutes earlier, and much (most?) of the time, he had spent practising on the spell, so twenty-five to thirty minutes of uninterrupted jogging before he had got tired…? 'That's pathetic, even with the added weight,' Harry thought to himself, 'I need to get back into shape.'


An idea was forming in Harry's mind; maybe he could pitch it to Dean… Quidditch was possibly the only popular sport in Wizarding Britain, but Harry didn't relish the idea of only a stick being between him and a hundred-foot-fall, and playing a sport on top of that? Definitely not! Organising a game or ten of football shouldn't be too hard with all the Muggleborns around.


‘I should also look for a spell that can keep someone warm,’ Harry thought to himself, shivering, then decided to try a full-body Vanishment for his sweat wandlessly.


… ‘It worked,’ Harry decided, not feeling any sweat on him anymore, ‘why does my cloak feel so drafty, though?’


Patting himself down revealed that his undershirt, underwear and trousers were no longer there. ‘Well, shite,’ Harry thought to himself.


The robes and winter cloak on their own wouldn’t be enough to keep Harry warm; he wasn’t going to give up so easily, though.


-----


Harry found a secluded area near a tree that tried to hit anyone who came close – he didn't know what the tree was called; he might ask the girls later, they were so-called 'purebloods'. He also found the ideal distance – far enough to keep it from getting close to hitting him and near enough for nobody to bother him. The tree also kept the cold winds from freezing him.


Harry had an idea for his practice; maybe he could do with practising both Transfiguration and a Charm…. Harry entered his Casting Trance… and tried to Transform a small rock into cloth with his wand. The first try was too hard to be anything other than made of rock, though it looked like a miniature bedsheet, but Harry visualised a piece of cloth with more senses than his eyesight until he had a near-flawless piece of cloth. Harry balled it up, but it turned back into a rock.


He tried the Transformation a few more times, until balling it up didn't revert the cloth, then used the Banishing Charm on it, murmuring, "Depulso".


Had it moved, or was it the wind? Harry tried more times, but nothing of note was happening, until he got frustrated and pushed the balled-up piece of cloth away wandlessly in the dangerous tree's direction, causing said tree to swat it away. 'What am I doing wrong?' Harry thought to himself.


After quite a few more tries, Harry was ready to call it quits, but he got the second grade Standard Book of Spells out of his bag – he had done that in his studies in the muggle society before: changing topics or assignments in order to come back later to what had frustrated him before. In that book, a way to increase or decrease the intensity of a spell by using more or less power was outlined. For Charms, it provided some examples of spells that changed in intensity, some that could fail explosively if overpowered and some for which more power would simply take more toll on the body without changing anything in the spell.


Harry took note of the book saying that wizards and witches couldn’t ‘run out’ of magical energy, but working a lot of powerful magic could take its toll on a body, especially that of the really young and the elderly. That was the cause of 'magical exhaustion'. Powerful wizards and witches could put a lot more power into a single spell, had a huge advantage when pitting their prowess against another directly, were more likely to learn spells faster and they usually had more durable bodies too, but they couldn’t always cast for a longer time. There was a reference to wizards of ancient times tiring much more quickly because of their lack of wands, ‘likely because wands focus one’s power, allowing less waste; the more wasteful one is with their magic, the greater the toll it takes on that person’s body’. It made mention of time away from casting being important to a young wizard or witch’s development, too.


…Wait, does that mean that making my body more durable will allow me to work more magic? That changes things; maybe I should intensify my physical training, especially the jogging, and begin some… resistance and dodge training like having Parvati, Lavender and Dean Banish things at me when they learn the spell. Having someone to practise with was very important, Harry realised, but his fellow First Years were not good enough yet to manage it. Perhaps Percy- wait. I could simply have someone, probably Dean, throw things at me physically. Dodgeball maybe? I may be a wizard, but I shouldn’t forget to use muggle methods, too, when needed.


Apparently magicals’ physical stats were Constitution-heavy, if he went by Dudley’s Dungeons and Dragons board game, which Dudley had managed to get Petunia to allow him to play recently. Harry thought that on average, physical activity being the same, a wizard had higher physical strength and could run faster than a Muggle, but he couldn’t be certain; on the other hand, considering just what Quidditch was like from what he had heard from Ronald Weasley’s rants (Bludgers? Bah!), if magicals had had the same base durability as Muggles, he would have heard about hundreds of fatalities playing it.


Of course, Harry would also cast as often as he could, but if casting was like training a muscle like the book seemed to imply, he would need a rest day. Harry lamented the loss of one of the days of the week for spell practice, but come to think of it, he hadn’t cast every day of the week for the past four to five years, so all of his life with deliberate magic – partially because of the terrible Voice, partially because he was constantly among people who didn’t know about magic, so he hadn’t got more than five or six days of magic practice a week at any time.


Even during the period he had been preparing for ‘correcting’ his relatives’ behaviour, he had had his rest day because Petunia hadn't been busy, so she had kept an eye on him on every Friday for the whole day; thus, he had only had nights on Fridays, which he had quickly abandoned because he wouldn’t get any sleep, and Petunia had always woken him up before seven in the morning. Anytime he had been punished with being locked in the cupboard, Harry had practised, but he had never been locked in for longer than a day at most, though they could and did keep him from getting out of the house.


Back to the book: regarding controlling the power in Transfiguration, a more precise amount than in Charms was usually necessary, and the book included a mathematical equation for helping in estimating the power needed. ‘Transfiguration is more methodical, and is performed best by people who are just so. Charms need a more creative and uninhibited mind’ was what the book explained about the difference in the effects of using more power between Charms and Transfiguration.


‘Maybe I should try adjusting the power next, then call it a day, or at least learn more about Potions instead,’ Harry thought.


He had dabbled a bit into sensing for and changing the flow of his magical energy (?) but it was really difficult, mainly because his magic was insignificant compared to what the entire castle exuded, so it was harder to find, despite it being inside him. Maybe in such an out-of-the-way place, it would be easier?


Harry managed to control the output of 'Lumos', though not very precisely, after around an hour of trying, according to 'Tempus'. He had managed to feel his magic, or whatever what he felt was, consistently… unfortunately, he would need a lot more practice, considering each attempt would take a lot of seconds.


Rather than studying for Potions, Harry elected to go back to the Library instead, this time to look for History texts, especially regarding Merlin and the witch hunts shortly before the Statute of Secrecy. While his enthusiasm for spells wasn't something bad in his own opinion, it had also distracted him from looking up something else he had wanted.


…By the time Harry had found some less biased-looking books, Dean entered the library. Harry waved him over, silently of course. "Would you like to study Wizarding history with me?" Harry asked Dean the moment the latter reached him.


Dean said, “Parvati convinced me to come and get you – you’re overworking yourself, aren’t you?” Squinting at Harry.


Harry shrugged, saying, “am I? Maybe you three are simply lazy…. It’s ‘persuaded me’ by the way.”


“Okay, she persuaded me I should get you,” Dean said with a roll of his eyes, taking a look at Harry’s stack of books… then made a double-take. “I’m gonna ask you something, mate, and I don’t want you to misunderstand…. Are you mental? Isn’t Binns enough?” Dean added, wide-eyed.


Harry rolled his eyes too, not bothering to correct Dean again(*2). He said, “it’s precisely because Binns is useless that I’m self-studying Wizarding History. Besides, some of it is interesting when you don’t have an idiot ghost lulling you to sleep.”


Dean was looking at Harry, not saying anything. I should strike while the iron is hot. If you can’t beat them, persuade them to join you, to paraphrase a saying.


Harry considered what to say for a moment, then leaned forward. He said, “look, mate. You do know that with how useless Binns is as a professor, we aren’t going to pass our exams? We’ll probably be fine this year, possibly the next too, but definitely not when it counts, with those ‘owls’ or whatever they are called. We should try self-study in History of Magic, so why don’t you join me?”


Dean remained silent. Harry let him digest his words for a few seconds, then said, “look, I’m going to check out some of these books,” gesturing at the stack of books in front of him, “then, we can go over them in a warmer place. Is that fine?”


Dean grinned, white teeth gleaming, in contrast to his really dark skin. He said, “those two will kill me,” though his light tone belied his words.


Harry rolled his eyes, saying, “Don’t be so melodramatic. I know that there’s a studious mind there somewhere; don’t let anyone stifle it,” pointing at Dean’s head.


Dean sniggered, saying, “so says you! Maybe I’d rather relax, not study History of all bloody things, on a Sunday at that! Besides, I still have to do McGonagall’s essay; it’s due in a few days!”


“Fine, how about this: I will help you with the Transfiguration essay afterwards, as long as you study History with me for at least an hour today,” Harry said, sensing that Dean was about to say ‘yes’ and was only trying to milk the situation.


“Fine with me, mate,” Dean said, a satisfied smirk on his face, “I’ll even throw in checking out three of the books – I know it’s no more than three for one person!”


Harry shook hands with Dean, sealing the deal. ‘Joke’s on you, Dean – the essay is a piece of cake as long as you’ve read The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 and keep the Transfiguration theory textbook to hand,’ Harry thought to himself.


-----


Harry and Dean ended up going to their dormitory to study history. Harry used his wand, saying ‘Genero’ several times, managing to Conjure two slightly deformed chairs and a mostly level table to avoid sitting on a bed, Vanishing any failed products, of course.


Dean was gaping at Harry. He said, “aren’t we supposed to learn Free Vanishment and Free Conjuration in fifth or sixth year or something?”


Harry shrugged – he learned at his own pace. That blasted Reparifarge was still something he was having a hard time with, though: he couldn’t revert anything more complicated than matchsticks to needles yet. Wasn’t it supposed to be easier than Conjuration? Anyway, it was high time for Dean to focus. “Get your head in the game, mate!” Harry said, his eyes narrowing without his conscious decision, putting the three books on the table.


Dean sighed, but he took out the other three books and started skimming them.


… Nearly two hours later, both of the boys were, or at least looked, knackered. Dean lifted his head from the book he was looking at and said, “I never realised that the opinions of the witch hunts were so… divided from a wizarding perspective. I mean, we have four different books by four authors here, and they’ve made different conclusions, have many disagreements… even the existence of supposed historical people like Wendelin the Weird is disputed! Some say that the witch hunts were waged in Britain by only one person and his band of idiots during the sixteen hundreds. In the seventeen hundreds, a few decades after the Statute of Secrecy, witch hunts were supposedly outlawed!” Sounding tired but still somewhat energetic.


“Considering the date the Flame-Freezing Charm was supposedly invented,” Harry said, “that’s no surprise to me,” explaining how Wendelin the Weird had apparently lived and died before the Flame-Freezing Charm had been invented, if one compared the dates.


Harry wasn’t sure about the other parts, though. Percy had seemed rather certain of what he had said about the witch hunts, but he could be biased, or simply certain in wrong conclusions of his. It was causing him a headache.


Dean said, “really? That’s… very suspicious. Should we try to get to the truth?”


“Maybe, but not now,” Harry said, “let’s go to the Great Hall to get some tea and snacks – I don’t feel like studying a moment longer for now!”


Dean yawned and stretched, then said, “all right – these chairs are really uncomfortable, anyway. Just don’t forget to help me with the essay!”


Harry snorted, saying, “I haven’t forgotten, don’t worry.”


Speaking of forgetting, Harry had decided to read ‘Hogwarts: a History’ at some point. Not that day, though; he was nearly exhausted.


…At half past eight at night, Harry begged off helping Dean with the Transfiguration essay because he was too tired – he promised it would be the first thing to do after lessons on Monday. Dean didn’t seem to mind too much; probably because he was tired, too. Harry brushed his teeth, did his Occlumency exercises (with a shorter duration than usual), went to his bed, got under the covers and before he knew it, it was morning.


Harry did most of his morning routine, including calisthenics and a seventy-plus-minute jog without stopping – the added weight of the books had made things much harder before, after all, apparently. He showered after that and headed to class. They had Double Potions first thing in the morning, then flying, then Professor Flitwick, so it was going to be a rather eventful day most likely.


…As Harry was waiting for Professor Snape next to Dean outside the classroom, he heard Malfoy speaking to Zabini in a whiny voice. ‘What is Malfoy whinging about now?’ Harry thought to himself and considered getting a little bit closer, until he suddenly didn’t have to.


“Why does Professor Snape have to let incompetents into his class? We could be so far ahead by now!” Malfoy said to Zabini, his loud voice carrying to everyone and gesturing with his hands animatedly.


The blond whiner was giving looks towards Seamus Finnigan, though he also looked at Ronald and Annabel Entwhistle. Ronald hissed, but managed not to react other than a few muttered words… which caused Granger, who was near him, to say, “language, Ronald!”


Only Professor Snape’s arrival saved the rest of them from the bickering; he also removed one point each from Granger and Ronald ‘for bothering the rest of the students’.


Finnigan very nearly protested, but he controlled himself, saying, “nothing, Sir.”


Once everyone was seated, Professor Snape said, “in spite of examples of students taking a dangerous subject lightly with complete dunderheaded carelessness-”


A few laughs from Malfoy and Zabini sounded, the latter sounding even more mean-spirited than the former, though a flat look from Professor Snape silenced them – it wasn’t even a glare. The man continued, saying, “as I was saying, from this time on, I will allow you to brew again as long as you pass a small test; nothing other than the Cure for Boils until I am certain that all of you are taking this seriously.”


Ronald and Finnigan groaned, but another look from Professor Snape silenced them. Said professor asked a few questions related to brewing safety, mainly to Finnigan, though he asked some others too. Once everyone had replied to the professor’s satisfaction, he set them on brewing the Cure for Boils once again. Of course, Harry’s attempt ended up earning him an O.


As Harry was leaving the classroom, he saw Granger tearing into Ronald, blaming him for losing a House point. Harry rolled his eyes and sped up.


-----


A short-haired and literally hawk-eyed woman by the name of madam Rolanda Hooch greeted the students, then started giving them instructions. This woman seemed to be in her sixties, but considering magicals’ aging rates, she could be a hundred for all he knew. “Pick one broomstick each,” Madam Hooch said, and everyone scrambled to get one without any half-broken-off twigs, including Harry.


The instructor told them to keep a certain distance from one another. Then, she told them to put the broomsticks on the ground and say ‘up!’ in order to get them to jump into the air next to their hands.


Harry looked at the school broomstick, one of the better-maintained ones at that, with suspicion. This thing is supposed to take me to the air? He said, “up,” but the broom only rolled over a bit.


He knew that to magic, intent was important. Harry emptied his mind of his doubts by concentrating on half-remembered dreams in which he had been flying, then said ‘up’ again, and the broom lifted itself next to his left hand.


When he checked the rest of the class, all of the Slytherins and most of the Gryffindors had managed the feat – only Granger and Longbottom were still trying and failing. Fed up, Harry went up to Granger, saying, “are you serious? You need to clear your mind of doubts and simply expect it to obey; surely, you can do that, Granger…?” In a condescending and prickly tone; he didn’t like the fact that Granger constantly glared at him, nor her constant bickering with that other idiot, and was tired of waiting for her to get it.


Granger made a sound that reminded Harry of a growl and tried again, getting the broomstick near her to slowly rise to hand height. She went up to Longbottom and told him something before going back to her position, but it took him another few minutes until the advice or encouragement or whatever worked. ‘He really doesn’t want to fly, apparently!’ Harry thought – not that he could blame Longbottom for that.


He could blame Granger for not making an ‘Airplane!’ reference after the opportunity he had given her, though… Harry had practically served it to her on a silver platter! Maybe she didn’t like American films, or ‘movies’ as they called them. Oh, well. He also felt like he was being watched, but could see nobody looking at him among the other students, nor was Madam Hooch paying any attention to Harry at the moment.


Once Madam Hooch had corrected their grips, pronouncing Harry’s as ‘decent, though the reversed grip is a slightly unusual touch’, she told them to kick off. As if by miracle, nobody (I’m looking at you, Longbottom!) did anything clumsy, though Harry was having a really hard time controlling his broomstick correctly. In the end, Harry proved to be a cautious but imprecise flier. The ones doing the best were Dean and Granger(!) in Gryffindor, and Malfoy along with a girl called… Grass-Green or something in Slytherin. Ronald Weasley was doing well, though not as well as the four aforementioned students and certainly not as well as he bragged; same with Seamus Finnigan.


Other than Longbottom, he could tell Harry himself was the worst flier – he could multitask to a level no Muggle would ever be capable of thanks to his being magical, his Occlumency practice and years of honing his Casting Trance and Free Trance (the less focused, more free trance he used not when casting, but when he wanted to search for something), so he could fly just as well -er, badly- while looking at the others, despite having a semi-paranoid gut feeling of being watched.


Madam Hooch was giving everyone tips, both individually and together, making rounds of the field, which was not the Quidditch Pitch for some reason; maybe the pitch was booked by one of the House Teams? The feeling of being watched had subsided… then it clicked in his mind. ‘Are the Quidditch captains around watching for fresh talent?’ Harry thought.


It would explain why they were not in the Pitch, but in a place with full view from the castle, where they could be observed without being able to tell anything was amiss. (*3)


Maybe Harry should put the Slowing Charm on higher priority, and add the Cushioning Charm to the queue to make sure there would be no broken bones.


-----


“Wingardium Leviosa! Make the ‘gar’ nice and long, and don’t confuse your words! Baruffio learned that the hard way when he said ‘Bovite Incantatem’ rather than ‘Finite Incantatem’ and ended up with a Conjured buffalo on his chest, centuries ago,” Flitwick said, jolly and smiling, but the serious look he adopted for a few moments showed that he meant the warning fully.


From what Harry had learned of Baruffio, the man had never learned his lesson, so he had ‘learned the hard way’… a grand sum of nothing; it wasn’t just his speech impediment that made him so incompetent. Well, at least his far cleverer cousin, Athena Ross, had made something out of those failures, more than once at that. Having lived only decades before the Statute of Secrecy started, some of their achievements or ‘achievements’ were included in the books Harry had read the day before.


After Flitwick made a demonstration of the spell, Harry entered his Casting Trance, made the wand motion and said, “Wingardium Leviosa”… barely making the feather twitch. He did the spell again, but nothing changed. Maybe I need to be less… focused? Harry tried without entering his trance state, and the feather moved a bit more – maybe. He decided to visualise the feather’s potential movement, but it barely changed anything.


Transfiguration is more methodical, and is performed best by people who are just so. Charms need a more creative and uninhibited mind.


…Could it be that simple? Harry breathed in and out, then used his knowledge of Occlumency to concentrate on one thing: the feather. He was the feather. He was flying, flying away….


Wingardium Leviosa!” Harry shouted, making the feather do a revolution, then drop.


‘I’m on the right track,’ Harry thought to himself. He ignored something that Professor Flitwick said and tried again a few times, until the feather was hovering a few feet off the ground.


Harry heard a strange sound forward and below. He looked down, only to see Professor Flitwick – come to think of it, that sound was like a throat clearing. The professor said, “please pay attention, Ha- Mr. Potter. I said that I awarded you two points for getting close to getting the spell. This time, it was better, though it was more like a Hover Charm. Three points to Gryffindor. I recommend that you try to control the feather’s movement better.”


Harry mulled that over, saying, “thank you, Professor Flitwick.”


The professor went toward Granger and Ronald, saying something about ‘eight points to Gryffindor for getting it near-perfectly’, but Harry didn’t care much at the moment. He made the wand motion, concentrating on the feather being one with him and controlling the flight rather than hovering in place. The feather shot off as if shot with a cannon, bouncing off the ceiling and nearly landing in Harry’s eye. On the bright side, he managed to keep the foul words contained under his breath, so he didn’t lose any points.


Again. Harry emptied his mind of anything but the feather, then did the rest… the feather flew in spiral patterns, but Harry managed to make it change how it moved with his mind. For Charms, it might be better not to think so much as feel. He said, “Finite”, willing the flight to end; so it did. He Summoned the feather wandlessly, making it come to him, tiring him out a bit. Fortunately, Professor Flitwick was looking elsewhere then.


He cast ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ a final time, making the feather fly in circular patterns around Flitwick. The short professor clapped, saying, “brilliant, excellent! Four points to Gryffindor, Mr. Potter!”


Granger gave Harry the stink eye once again, but this time, she seemed more ruffled than usual, though Harry had provoked her earlier, admittedly. As Harry was gathering his stuff after the lesson, Granger came near him, saying, “I don’t quite get why you are doing so well, Harry Potter – you are an obvious slacker, but the Professors are favouring you!”


Harry was flabbergasted at the rubbish that was coming out of Granger’s mouth, which she apparently took as confirmation of her idiotic ideas. She harrumphed and left. Harry shook his head and left too, though the more he thought of Granger, the more he got angry. He tried to use his usual methods to calm down, but nothing worked – or maybe that was his stomach protesting.


Oh shit. Shouldn’t have tried that pumpkin juice at breakfast…. Shit indeed – it was Harry’s large intestine that was bothering him, so he went to the nearest loo and got stuck there for a while. Harry didn’t mind a bit of toilet humour, but pain in the literal arse wasn’t exactly something he liked to feel. Hopefully, he wouldn’t miss the Halloween feast because of that bad luck.


…Hours later, Harry was washing his hands when a stink that far surpassed anything he had ever created in the toilet reached his nose. At the same time, a strong source of magic reached his other sense, so strong he didn’t need to concentrate to feel it. ‘That can’t be good,’ Harry thought to himself.


By the time he started walking away, it was too late; a creature unlike any Harry had ever seen was in front of the door.


It was a horrible sight. Taller than Hagrid – maybe twelve feet, its skin was a dull, granite grey; its great lumpy body like a boulder, with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs, thick as tree trunks with flat, horned feet. The smell coming from it was truly and absolutely putrid from up close. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were too long. (*4)


In fact, it looked a lot like the picture of a Mountain Troll from the Fantastic Beasts book! Harry could feel his hands and legs shake in his fear and… something else. How would he survive that?


-----

-----


* The ‘Tempus’ spell is fanon IIRC, but it’s not bad fanon, so I don’t have any compunctions against using it… with a twist. Muahaha.


As for the cliffhanger in the end… muahahahaha!


*2 It’s ‘persuade [one] to do [something]’ or ‘convince [one that one should do something]/[one of something] and so on. Not the other way around. Dean managed to get it wrong both times. xD


*3 Yeah, it’s McGonagall, not the captains, but Harry has no way to find that out at the moment. He can and will reach the wrong conclusions due to a coincidence, bad data or his own flaws sometimes.


*4 I took that part from book 1 of the series. Not quite verbatim, though.
 
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Harry 5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#12
The AU elements become more apparent in this chapter. Also note that there’s probably going to be no time travel devices in this world – ‘Time Turners’ will produce a copy of the user, like Shadow Clones from ‘Naruto’.





I hope that the Maths McGonagall spews aren’t confusing.





As for the troll picking Harry to go after, that is explained here. Hahaha. Also, do trolls get PTSD?





Edited quite a bit, though it might not be polished to my usual standards.





-----





By the time he started walking away, it was too late; a creature unlike any Harry had ever seen was in front of the door.





It was a horrible sight. Taller than Hagrid – maybe twelve feet, its skin was a dull, granite grey; its great lumpy body like a boulder, with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs, thick as tree trunks with flat, horned feet. The smell coming from it was truly and absolutely putrid from up close. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were too long.





In fact, it looked a lot like the picture of a Mountain Troll from the Fantastic Beasts book! Harry could feel his hands and legs shake in his fear and… something else. How would he survive that?





-----





Harry still had no idea what to do, but when the Troll(?) lifted its club, he got the fuck out of the way as if his body were reacting on its own, and none too late! The door’s hinges, along with much of the wall next to them and the door itself, were obliterated, as Harry could see from his position on the floor, turning a bit to look directly at the troll and start shuffling away slowly. He had learned no offensive spells so far, and his study of Charms was slow going – that was without going into magical creatures’ titanic Magic Resistance.





Shite – what should I do-? Harry didn’t have much time; the troll was walking toward him, or rather lumbering, though slowly. He made the wrist movement needed to get his wand out- well, tried. He got it on the second try because he was starting to panic. I need to be quick! Can’t go around, too little space. Well, maybe Transfigure something? Worth a shot. When in doubt, go with your strengths, as the footie coach always says. Not the troll itself, it has great Magic Resistance – its loincloth? Harry winced at the potential -sadistic- uses of transfiguring that, so he waved his wand in the general direction of the troll’s right hand and used the generic incantation ‘Transformo’ to turn the Troll’s club into a live chicken.





Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk- ba-bawk! Bawk-





(Crunch!)





The creature crushed the ‘chicken’ in its palm, and some- ‘splinters’ nearly the size of the entire late door ended up embedded in its hand when the Transformation reverted. The Troll let loose a truly terrible screech of pain, like a hundred cars braking at the same time, making Harry cover his ears as best he could, dropping his wand. He thought better of it, picked up his black-coloured wand from the -fortunately dry and clean- loo’s floor and Conjured a chicken identical to the other one, then Banished it at the creature’s face, whispering ‘Depulso’.





Harry gave little thought to the fact he was performing Transfiguration into living, which was a first for him, and a Charm that he had never managed before with a wand. The creature was… running away, panicked? Harry decided to help it along, so he entered his Casting Trance and used a wandless Suggestion on the chicken to chase after the monster.





I should really study the theoretical parts of Transfiguration more, to find out exactly why that Transformation was able to revert without a counterspell and which others do the same….





After a minute or two, with his breathing and heart rate slowly dropping to something approaching normal, Harry started laughing at the absurdity of the situation – a twelve-foot monstrosity, running from a chicken! That was how two professors found him soon after, still laughing, though also shivering a bit. There was no little excitement in that reaction, possibly outweighing the fear – in fact, Harry had never felt more alive. He was starting to suspect that the Sorting Hat had not only been in the right when it had said something about a lust for adventure, but had understated things.





McGonagall got near Harry, fussing over him with an unexpectedly gentle expression on her face, but it soon turned pinched. She said, "why were you not with your housemates, Mr. Potter?” Sounding as strict as ever.





Harry was a bit confused. He said, “was I supposed to? There was no announcement.”





Flitwick, his voice as even as ever, said, “what I think Minerva -Professor McGonagall- meant is why you were not at the feast at all,” standing in front of Harry protectively, as if he expected more attacks.





“I had- bowel problems, professors,” Harry admitted, remembering the sounds and smells he had produced and stifling a laugh. “It might have been because it was my first time drinking pumpkin juice or something like that.”





Professor Flitwick made a show of sniffing the air and gagging, then said, “Perhaps the troll had similar problems. That might have been why it came here.”





McGonagall let out a snort, which she disguised with a cough. She didn’t seem bothered by the other professor’s levity. She said, “I dare say you are right, Filius. After all, trolls are notorious for chasing after- extreme smells,” her lips curved in a smirk worthy of a Malfoy.





“Wait,” Harry said, blinking repeatedly, “you mean, it’s because my shi- waste products stank that the troll came here?”





McGonagall nodded, then shook her head. She said, “a troll infiltrating the castle is unusual and stinks of interference. The troll choosing a loo in use to walk to after entering the castle is to be expected.”





Harry laughed freely again. He recalled someone saying that people tended to make the most jokes after tragic or traumatic events, like during a funeral. He thought of how the troll had run from the chicken and laughed more- the troll!





“Wait, professors. What happened to the troll?!” Harry said, almost stumbling in his speech due to his rush.





“We were hoping you would be able to tell us,” Flitwick said, his expression as jolly as ever.





Harry sighed, then gave them a quick summary of how he had been cornered, about dodging the initial hit and about how he had used Transfiguration to injure and drive away the troll, speaking very fast. He said, “we need to go after the troll! What if it finds someone else-,” worried.





We, Mr. Potter? You are staying here. Filius, you are a faster runner, so-,” McGonagall said, shooting off a silvery spell that had the shape of a cat and- speaking to it…?





Flitwick ran off at incredible speeds at the same moment. In fact, Harry doubted he could even get close. Was it due to non-human heritage?





…Minutes later, Flitwick returned alongside Snape and Quirrell, at a more sedate pace, of course. The first person to speak, of the three of them, was Professor Snape. He said, his voice soft, “well, well, Mr. Potter; you are a worse trouble magnet than even I expected. I would award you House points; really, I would. Unfortunately, Mr. Filch got injured in the process of protecting his cat, Mrs. Norris from a fleeing troll. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”





Harry grimaced. Couldn’t the troll have finished the job and killed those two?





“Quite the- unfortunate casualty,” Snape said sardonically. His face then turned expressionless and his black eyes even colder than usual at the blink of an eye. “Of course, it could have been a student who had missed the feast like you in Mr. Filch’s place; in which case, your carelessness would likely have cost that student their life. Six points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter, for endangerment of fellow Hogwarts dwellers,” he said, looking Harry in the eyes.





Harry couldn’t bring himself to look away, so he went through an Occlumency exercise, trying not to miss any of the professors’ words. The football bounces off the foot; again; then reaches the head-





Snape looked away from Harry and at McGonagall when she protested the harshness of the words and the removal of points, but Harry said, “Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape has a point. I did endanger people tonight.” He noted that Flitwick had not spoken.





McGonagall turned to Harry. Then, she said, “Mr. Potter… you could not have been expected to have had the presence of mind to-”





“I have said my piece,” Snape said, still not going back to looking at Harry, “five points to Gryffindor for being aware.”





Harry looked at Professor Snape’s retreating back, as did McGonagall and Flitwick. McGonagall let out an impressive growl, more akin to a jungle cat than her animagus form of a house cat. In fact, Harry wasn’t sure if house cats could growl at all.





“That Severus,” McGonagall said, adjusting her spectacles.





“There, there,” Flitwick said, patting the middle of her back – he likely couldn’t reach her shoulder.





Quirrell spoke suddenly, making Harry jump in place. He said, “tw- tw- twelve points to Gryffindor for being a survivor, Mr. Potter. W-well, I’d say my wo- work is done here.”





Flitwick snorted after that.





“Quirinus,” McGonagall said, her tone unusual for her, “I apologise; I should have had faith in you and not thought that you were jumping at shadows.”





“It’s a credit to y- you, that you admitted to yo- your mistake and apologised, Minerva,” Quirrell said, a cunning smirk on his face for a few moments, which looked out of place for his usual demeanour. “Of course, troll or no troll, everything turned out fine all the same,” Quirrell said, something in his words and tone making Harry take notice. Frustration?





Harry was unsettled by Quirrell, but he was snapped out of his thoughts by Flitwick’s high pitched voice. Flitwick said, “Mr. Potter – ten points to Gryffindor for keeping a cool head in a dangerous situation,” not letting his gaze leave Quirrell for even a moment, unsettling Harry even more.





McGonagall cleared her throat. She said, “oh, yes. Five points to Gryffindor for excellent use of Transfiguration -and Charms- in a pinch; not to mention your sheer dumb luck, Mr. Potter!”





Harry thought that while luck had been involved to a point, that was quite unfair of McGonagall to say, but he kept his thoughts to himself. Probably for the best. He simply walked away from that loo, his body not having completely stopped shaking, deep in thought.





What is wrong with Quirrell? Harry was trying to connect the dots, but there were missing pieces to the puzzle. ‘Troll or no troll, everything turned out fine all the same’. Quirrell was frustrated at something, but the troll made no difference.





Maybe Professor Flitwick had been right to be wary of Quirrell, but had the stuttering wonder brought in the troll? Maybe they were both being overly suspicious. Harry was trying to reconcile the man’s pathetic image with- ‘Wait,’ Harry thought to himself, ‘what if all that fear, the trembling hands and the stutters are faked?’





Harry had a new thought: if whether the troll was there was all the same to Quirrell, then the frustration came from something else. So, the point of the troll was… diverting attention? What had Quirrell been trying to achieve? Was Harry right, that Quirrell had failed to achieve it? The missing pieces were still important.





-----





Rumours were going around the school, some that Harry had slain the troll with a sword, others that he had sent the troll to kill Mrs. Norris and even one about a rabbit having chased away the Troll, though the latter had been dismissed by most as absurd despite being the closest to the truth, amusing Harry. The gawkers soon made a triumphant return, but Harry had a thicker skin than before and was able to mostly ignore them, though his more- invasive fans still got his most venomous glares.





-----





“Why have you sought me out, Mr. Potter?” McGonagall asked, sipping from her cup of tea.





She didn’t seem to be in a very good condition; her fatigue showed despite her stern facade, with the hand holding the cup trembling ever so slightly and her eyes drooping every half minute. Harry was starting to worry for the woman. He said, “it’s not anything major; I should probably ask Percy. I can tell you need your relaxation time, Professor.”





“Sit down, Mr. Potter. When I said that my door is always open for my Gryffindors and their troubles, I meant it,” McGonagall said, still looking stressed, but her regal bearing shone through.





It dawned on Harry that she was Deputy Headmistress, Head of House for Gryffindor and still taught one of the major subjects. He couldn’t imagine just how much stress all those positions, their workload and the students’ antics put her through. “All right,” Harry said, “you should make sure to take care of yourself, too, Professor, though.”





McGonagall’s lips thinned and nostrils flared for a few moments. She said, “of all the- I am not far enough gone that a first year needs to worry for me yet. Tell me; am I quite that transparent, Mr. Potter?”





Harry shook his head in the negative. He said, “I’ve always been really good at ‘reading’ people. My uncle has said I’d be great at card games- er, do wizards and witches have those?”





McGonagall’s face lit up, as if she was pleased about something. Like that, she looked very much like a woman not a day above thirty. She said, “we do have a few card games, fairly reminiscent of those that Muggles play. We magical humans put twists on such games, though. Wizarding decks are explosive, so we have games like Exploding Snap.”





The light atmosphere soon turned more serious with Harry’s, then McGonagall’s expression turning focused. “So, Professor, I had a question for you,” Harry said, taking a deep breath, “when can a Transformation revert on its own, when can it not, and why?”





McGonagall stayed silent for a minute or two. Harry nearly spoke more than once, but realised she was gathering her thoughts, so he kept mum, too. “I cannot say I didn’t see this question coming. To know that, though, you need certain theoretical background knowledge we have not gone over in full during class, Mr. Potter. Tell me if you are having trouble with my lecture.”





“Certainly, Professor,” Harry told her, “please start.”





So, McGonagall started lecturing. She said, “I am quite confident that you have memorised the equation for the level of power necessary in a Transformation, but will still go over it; it is necessary for this."





McGonagall told Harry about Weight (a), Viciousness (v), Wand Power (w), Concentration (c), and Z -a factor which varied with the materials, both the current and the target material, and the relationship between the objects, including conceptual connections-, affecting the Transformation.





Weight was the initial material's Weight – or, rather, Mass. Viciousness was how 'lively' an object was, which increased with temperature; in case it had ever lived or at least been organic material, viciousness also increased drastically, especially if it was currently living.





Wand power was self-explanatory, and it changed with how good a wand was at amplifying someone's spells. Weaker wands and less compatible ones lowered that value.





Concentration was how much effort a person put into the Transformation. Greater magical power and a more focused mind meant that a person could manage more at maximum, but the best Transformations were always at exactly the level of power required.





"Here, we get closer to the heart of the matter, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said, "if we consider all the other factors as impossible to change -though some of them can be changed, for the purposes of this explanation, they are constant-, Concentration is the most important factor. Not that the others are not vital; to change Concentration, a wizard or witch needs to take into account all other factors. So, we solve for Concentration, c. At first, that is done by trial and error. Then, once the magical child has got used to casting, they do so using the formula, solving for c.





» Finally, the young wizard or witch combines the previous methods, because they have learned how to solve the equation in full intuitively, but are still capable of doing so through Arithmancy. Thus, even Transformations that the caster has never done before can be done perfectly on the first try; theoretically, because not everyone gets skilled enough in my subject for that. Are you still following me, Mr. Potter?"





Harry said, "yes, Professor. The closer to the optimal power the caster gets, the more successful the Transformation is; Concentration is the main way to change the level of power, by focusing better and putting in more magical power. What happens if too much or too little power is used?" Feeling his stomach lighten and his breath quicken. He was starting to feel the same excitement he usually did on the football pitch, but much greater, Harry realised. He loved learning about magic.





McGonagall smiled slightly again. She said, "Mr. Potter, I am glad that you are quite so passionate about my subject. You see, when way too little power has been used, the Transformation simply does not happen. When in a certain range of the optimal power, on either end, the Transformation works but is unstable; it has the unfortunate side-effect of degrading. The Transfigured material slowly turns back into the original one because of its instability. Not fully until a long while has passed, but a sloppily done Transformation of, for example, iron to oxygen has the potential to kill a lot of people by damaging their lungs; even a little degradation can be fatal. My warning against Transforming anything into gases stands."





Harry nodded slowly. After a bit of thinking, he said, "what happens when way too much power has been used and what about Human Transfiguration, Professor?"





“When far too much power has been used, the results can be- explosive,” McGonagall said, “for example, a chicken that was originally a wooden club being squeezed by a troll, with that leading to wood fragments in said troll’s hand. Of course, only Trolls and some other magical creatures have the combination of enough grip strength and magically resistant enough skin necessary to have such an extreme reaction happen without more magic being cast.





» Ripping or cutting something to pieces with something like a knife usually also reverts a Transformation -though less suddenly- so keep the risks in mind anyway, Mr. Potter. I intend to go over the dangers of wrongly done Transfiguration again in my next classes with the lower years, including your class… though there are a few students in higher years who would benefit from such a lecture.





»As for Human Transfiguration… as I implied just now, possessing Magic and magic resistance tends to make the results of Transformations more unpredictable. That is especially true when a sapient being is the target. A wizard or witch who has been the target of an overpowered Transformation tends to have an especially hard time returning to form. If the counterspell is used properly by the caster or if Reparifarge is cast soon enough after the Transformation that it not being used by the caster does not matter, then there is little to no trouble. Otherwise, the use of a Mandrake Restorative Draught might be necessary, which is prohibitively expensive for most.





» To cast a spell like Reparifarge successfully, though, one needs to use an even more exact amount of magical power. That is where the equation we went over earlier is necessary once again. Of course, a counterspell needs to be able to overpower the original spell by a certain margin; no more or less. Of course, if one should have been not present during the Transfiguration accident, one needs to try and resolve things through trial and error or, if their senses are developed enough-”





Then, McGonagall stopped. She looked at her watch and said, “well, it seems as if we have run out of time. Know that wizards’ and witches’ senses differ from a Muggle’s; let us leave it at that for now.”





"Thank you for the help and your time, Professor," Harry said, smiling at McGonagall lightly.





That final part had caught Harry’s attention. He had experienced strange things, being able to feel the presence of magic(?). Perhaps it was more usual than he had thought.





"It is my pleasure to teach a student as focused and dedicated as you, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said, a satisfied smile on her face.





In fact, she looked like the cat that had got the canary. Harry quietly laughed to himself as he was leaving McGonagall’s office, after bidding her goodbye, of course.





-----





Harry was walking to Hagrid’s Hut with Parvati and Dean to have tea and talk about his parents with the gigantic man. After a conversation about all the detentions James Potter had served, along with his friends Remus, Peter and Si- something -Hagrid had clammed up at that point- as well as a time Lily Evans had got a detention for hexing her would-be husband, Harry decided to give his earlier thoughts a try.





He said, “so, Hagrid, what did Quirrell need a diversion for, that he brought in a Mountain Troll near students?” Not bothering with subtlety.





Hagrid shot tea out of his nostril… disgusting. Harry gestured at Dean and Parvati to be quiet; Parvati seemed to be ready to speak regardless, but fortunately, Hagrid stopped coughing and spoke, saying, “now, why d’you think that, Harry? Prefesser Quirrell is one of the Prefessers! Did anyone tell yeh about the Stone? That’s between Prefesser Dumbledore and Nicolas Fla- ah, shouldn’ have told yeh that,” looking guilty after realising his mistake.





Harry committed the part of a name to memory, as with ‘Si-’ before – the name was almost certainly French, pronounced knee-koh-LAH; it also sounded familiar. Was Hagrid able to speak French? His pronunciation was really, really good, reminding him of his French professor at muggle school – Harry hadn’t thought Hagrid capable of learning a foreign language, especially so when considering the fact he had such a strong accent.





Hagrid tried to get Harry to promise not to snoop around, but Harry interrupted him.





“So, Hagrid,” Harry said, “how come you pronounced those French words so well, almost like a Frenchman? Have you lived in France?” Genuinely curious, though he was also distracting Hagrid.





“Olympe taught me, and- oi, wait, I cin see what yer doing, Harry!” Hagrid said, his eyebrows scrunching up.





Harry didn’t even try to hide his smirk, saying, “does that mean it’s not working?”





Hagrid said, “ ‘course it’s not- darn, yeh did it again,” his beard moving a little bit, as if smiling, “yer as much a rascal as yer dad was. No pranks, but definit’ly a rascal!”





Harry started laughing despite himself – Hagrid possessed a kind of understated charisma; most people couldn’t help but like him, Harry suspected. Once Harry’s laugh died out, he noticed that Dean and Parvati were looking at him strangely, especially Parvati.





Harry asked, “what is it?” A bit confused.





“I… don’t think I’ve heard you really laugh before, or seen a smile that’s not more of a smirk,” Parvati said, looking straight at Harry smiling, herself.





Harry could only avert his gaze for some reason.





-----





Returning from tea with Hagrid, Harry was thinking about Quirrell and whoever ‘Nicolas Fla-’ was. He told Dean and Parvati that he’d see them later, with Parvati giving him a look that said she would be questioning him. Harry kept his shudder contained – Parvati was a force of nature when she truly wanted to know something, especially when Lavender was backing her up.





He took out a parchment, found a surface to write on and wrote down, ‘Quirrell might be after “the Stone”; Dumbledore and Nicolas Fla- something. Heard that name somewhere. Dad’s friends, Remus, Peter and Si- something. Mum having cleaner record, but a temper’





Harry felt much better, as if a burden had left him – relaxed to the point of almost skipping. He also felt like exploring the castle again at the moment, so he put away the parchment and started walking at random, as if his feet had a mind of their own. Great feeling, but- Up stairs, take a left, up more stairs, and stairs again; right past the third floor corridor, take a right, more stairs, walking forward, stopping at a door, opening the door-





It looked like any other abandoned classroom, apart from being larger than most and having slightly less dust. Soon though, a source of powerful but muted magic(?) hit Harry's senses. Peculiar…. Harry closed the door behind him and walked to a really large cloth -more like a curtain, really- covering something just as big.





He lifted and threw away the cloth- power! Overwhelming magical power hit his senses and made him feel like he was in front of a cliff; strong vertigo, but it passed too quickly. An ornate mirror, black in colour in every part that wasn’t the actual reflective surface and made of who knew what material. Am I dreaming? No, something is off- The inscription on the frame said:





Wodahs stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi





Seriously, what the hell…? Snap out of it, you moron!





!!





Harry took in sudden, desperate breaths, as if he had been underwater for minutes and had just breached the surface. He didn’t get it – what was wrong with him? Had he been sleepwalking? Was he in his bed, dreaming? Or-





A sound like clapping resounded in the abandoned classroom. Harry turned so quickly his neck hurt, but he couldn’t care about that at the moment. Words escaped Harry’s mouth. “Professor… Dumbledore?” Was what he said.





Harry looked up. The man’s bespectacled bright blue eyes were filled with ancient- no. Harry concentrated on the crooked nose, which looked like it had been broken more than once and treated clumsily, then on Dumbledore’s robes, which were yellow with silver circles – moons? He had yellow and black slippers on, but his beard was tucked into a belt, despite the fact most robes didn’t need belts…. Dumbledore looked the same as ever, and yet, for some reason Harry couldn’t put his finger on, he was sure something was off with the man.





“Hello, Harry Potter. It is great to see you from up close; alas, I tend to have little free time available during the academic year. Otherwise, I would have invited you to my office for a cup of tea,” Dumbledore said, a smile on his face.





Unfortunately, that smile also seemed off. Harry shuddered despite himself, then said, “how and why did I end here?” Suspecting some sort of mind control. He was starting to get angry, but Harry wasn't sure if it was more at himself for falling for such a trick, or the man before him for doing it.





He clamped down on his emotions, taking deep breaths; he realised that he might accidentally work magic, something he hadn't done in years. He hated losing control of his magic almost equally as much as he did being mind-controlled or the possibility of having his thoughts read.





“Ah, that is the question, isn’t it? You ask somewhat intelligent questions, seeking the truth; the truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, though, and should therefore be treated with great caution,” Dumbledore said, his lips curving upwards, as if smiling; it was even more off than earlier, though.





'That sounded like he was quoting someone; a bit forced, too. Does he even believe what he’s saying…?' Harry thought to himself. Out loud, he said “Why did you use some form of magic to make me come here?” Trying to keep his disgust at potentially having been mind controlled, with the evil voice -of all things!- being what had snapped him out of it. He was ready to attack in case the old man tried anything like that again.





The man did not deny it. He said, “it is because I intended to show you this artifact,” indicating the mirror with his hand.





That couldn’t be all. Harry threw a glance at the ornate mirror, his mood dropping at seeing what might be a very annoying riddle, or foreign language, then said, “what about it? I admit that this writing is strange- oh,” noticing that if one read from right to left and rearranged or ignored the spaces, actual words formed; the simplest form of an anagram was something which Harry was better at deciphering; fortunately not the kind of puzzle Harry tended to avoid. “I show not your face, but your heart’s Shadow,” Harry murmured, “what is it referring to, though…?”





“Magnificent, n’est-ce pas?” Dumbledore said, stroking the frame of the mirror, with Harry becoming more and more convinced that it was not Albus Dumbledore, but an impostor.





“Who are you, really?” Harry said, taking a deep breath. He continued by saying, “also, what other reasons do you have for bringing me here?”





The Dumbledore impersonator laughed, and it was a normal, though slightly sinister sounding, laugh – in contrast to how he had sounded off before, he felt more- genuine, maybe? True to himself? “Firstly, you break out of my Illusion-Suggestion hybrid Charm. Then, you see through not one, but two of my deceptions. You are très impressive, Harry Potter. It is very simple: I am looking for a disciple, and you fulfill most of my criteria – I refuse to teach any random fool, but you have immense talent; you also have the intelligence and the drive I look for in my potential pupils, but it does not necessarily stop there – you might, hopefully, possess something more.”





“Why should I accept?” Harry asked, grimacing at the attitude of this man….





“That is not the only or even first question you should be asking, mon jeune ami; would you care to try again?” The fake Dumbledore said, waving his hands.





Harry ran the impostor’s previous words through his mind again. “What other deceptions are you running now that pertain to me?” He asked, dreading the answer.





‘Dumbledore’ nodded, saying, “yes, that is a very good question. As for ‘why to accept’, a better phrasing would be ‘what can you offer me?’ I can offer you my immense experience and skill in Transfiguration; both my wife and I excel in Potions, though she is a tad better, I admit. You have seen how good I am at Charms, though it is not my best skill, first-hand.





» Resources of all kinds, gathered over the past several centuries, will be made available to you; the resource of access to my wife – a healer the likes of which haven’t passed through Beauxbatons before or after. Knowledge of all kinds of useful magic – much of it lost, unique, or at least highly rare; ways for a young wizard to grow more skilled, more powerful… better. That's because we have plenty of experience teaching the young.





» I am also a highly adept sensor, like you are on the way to being, but currently far better. Finally, our field of expertise, in which we are unsurpassed. Now, what can you offer?” The man said, smirking smugly, which suited his demeanour far more than the smiles before.





“Wh- what?” Harry said, not having expected that question. He briefly considered telling the man to sod off, but as long as there was no more manipulation of Harry’s mind, this might be a great opportunity.





That didn’t mean Harry wouldn’t search for a way to resist or break mind control – ‘Illusion-Suggestion Hybrid Charm’, was it?





The impostor spread his hands above his head, saying, “what can you offer as a student of magic? Tell me your strengths and weaknesses, and why I should take you on as my disciple.”





Harry narrowed his eyes – what if this man had something to do with You-Know-Who? Harry hadn’t detected any lies, but the man could be an extremely adept liar. Something in the man’s gaze gave Harry pause, though. The eyes are like a mirror to the soul, or something like that. The man's eyes were bottomless pools of blue, betraying experience of many years.





He didn’t seem like a man even Dumbledore’s age; he felt far older, and You-Know-Who had supposedly been significantly younger than Dumbledore. No, the man wasn't a somehow-surviving You-Know-Who, nor one of You-Know-Who's followers; Harry couldn’t imagine this man serving anyone. Harry averted his gaze, his fear of having his thoughts read reasserting itself.





Coming to a decision, Harry said, “my greatest strength in magic is Transfiguration, though Potions have come easily to me so far, too. I’m not very good at Charms, though I get by," his temper starting to make a return.





“Hmm… what about your mind?” The man asked.





“If you have stalked me as much as I think you have, you already know the answer to that question, Sir,” Harry said, smirking just as smugly as 'Dumbledore' had earlier, hiding his anger behind cockiness. “I will humour you though. I’m rather good at puzzling out most spells and mysteries; I’m decent in social situations, but some parts of human interaction escape me. Most riddles stump me with their word-plays and double and triple meanings,” Harry admitted. It made his placement in Gryffindor and not Ravenclaw a very good thing, if what he had recently heard from rumours about the Ravenclaw Common Room's guardian was true.





“I see,” the man said, truly smiling this time, “you could do without the cheek, but I suppose that it would not do for me to have a disciple without bravery. You have guts, as you British say. Note this, though: sassing the dangerous unknown quantity is not always the better option. In fact, it is usually not,” glaring at Harry after finishing what he said, giving off an aura of danger.





Harry very nearly shivered, but he refused to show weakness. He simply breathed in and out, looking up at fake-Dumbledore’s eyes, his pride and anger overriding his aversion to his thoughts being read.





The man laughed again. He said, “if you are good at puzzling out mysteries, then look for my name. If you are able to guess correctly -you have two chances- and can manage to unlock the secrets of this mirror before April arrives in nearly five months, I will accept you as my disciple… so that you know what an honour it is, I have not had an actual disciple before – I had thought that Albus might have been a good prospect, but he was revealed to be- ‘wishy-washy’ is the word, I think…?





» I settled for teaching him some basics, which he admittedly took to 'like a fish to water'. He is afraid of his own suppressed parts, afraid of his Shadow, though. To him, his ambition is a terrible part of his character. Perhaps the Sorting Hat was able to see that he could very easily end up resenting those parts of himself, and that is why he got Sorted into Gryffindor and not Slytherin – this is idle speculation, though. I truly hope you are not the coward that he is, Harry Potter, Gryffindor or not."





'I knew that he wasn't Dumbledore!' Harry thought triumphantly. He had something more important to say, though. "If I'm going to be your disciple, then are you going to promise never again to mind-control me in any way?" Harry said, not backing down for even a moment.





The man hesitated for the first time in the conversation, then nodded, saying, "once I have accepted the responsibility of teaching you, I promise that I will only ever employ any form of mind-control on you with your prior permission, and only for teaching you how to resist said mind-control. You still have to prove yourself first to be my disciple, Harry Potter."





That was as good as it was going to get, Harry realised with resignation. "All right – I accept your terms," giving the man his hand to shake, which he did soon after.





"Albus is coming now, and will most likely move the mirror. I suggest that you get going now and look for the mirror’s new location later. I look forward to seeing how you grow, Harry Potter," the disguised man said, then disappeared without a trace.





Harry wondered if the man had somehow teleported, or become invisible and was still there; he hadn’t finished ‘Hogwarts, a History’ yet, but he remembered something about people being unable to ‘apparate’ while in it. Either way, Harry didn’t have a way to find the man – budding ‘sensor’ or not, fake-Dumbledore was way too skilled. Well, Harry could conjure a few hundred chickens and Suggest that they peck at nothing, but it was too much trouble, and he would take the man’s warning seriously, so he left.





'That arsehole had better not try to control me like that ever again, promise or no promise,' Harry thought to himself, clenching a fist. I had better look up ways to resist things like that. ‘Illusion-Suggestion Hybrid Charm’? I'll be prepared, you bastard.





As Harry was entering the Gryffindor Common Room, he was having second thoughts about learning from the crazy old bastard; the man had used some form of mind-control on him, after all. What if he was changing Harry's thought process in order to make him accept that offer? ‘No. That way lies madness. Being vigilant is a good thing, but paranoia is a form of insanity, or at least a symptom,’ Harry thought to himself, repeating words he had heard.





"So, what was that about?" Parvati asked Harry, right hand on her right side hip.





Harry managed not to react – he must have been really out of it to not notice her. He tried to lift one eyebrow but he never could get his eyebrows to move separately, so he lifted both.





"So," Parvati said, "what was that about Professor Quirrell letting in the troll? What do you know, Harry?"





Harry took a deep breath, trying to gather his thoughts and deal with the lingering anger as best he could.





"Harry! Start talking!" Parvati shouted out. Her grating voice made his head hurt.





"Shut up!" Harry yelled out. "Give me a bloody minute to calm down, woman! I've had it with that damn old bastard, and now I have to deal with a brat trying to get on my nerves!"





Harry was breathing hard. After a minute or so, he chanced a look at Parvati. She wasn't teary-eyed this time, but her face had tightened in anger. He said, "look, Parvati. Give me a bit of time to calm down and-"





"I will speak to you once we are both calmer," Parvati said, her voice almost- frosty.





-----





Harry was reading books on the theoretical bases of magic just after Charms class while waiting for Professor Flitwick to be done with some parchments. Marking? He was trying to reconcile his experience with wandless magic and what others -and Harry himself- could do with a wand. He had managed to talk Professor Flitwick into trying to help him with Magical Theory, though said professor didn’t have much free time.





Fortunately, Harry had been persuasive enough to get the short man not to pass him off to a prefect, though if it was something that an older student could help with, Professor Flitwick would likely send him to a prefect; it was a reversal of the situation with Professor McGonagall. For some reason, Harry doubted that another student could help with that particular problem, though.





The passage that was giving Harry a lot of grief was thus:





While children, with their wilder imagination and more malleable psyche, are capable of what we call “accidental magic” on a semi-regular basis, as one grows up, one will find their ability to use magic without a wand diminishing. Only in times of mortal peril will an adult react in such a way.





Harry had checked, though, and his intentional wandless capabilities hadn’t been weakened at all. If anything, his ability to sense his own magical energy (?) had improved just how good Harry was at using wandless magic, bringing back more of his ability to cast through his shoulders, feet and such. After he had managed to use the Banishing Charm, animate Conjuration and inanimate-to-animate Transformation against the Troll, his wanded capabilities had become significantly better while his wandless skills hadn’t improved nearly as much with the Troll encounter, but Harry still hadn’t seen any reduction like what the book described.





Harry considered asking Flitwick about Illusion-Suggestion hybrid Charms, too – he had found nothing in the Library-





Professor Flitwick cleared his throat, interrupting Harry’s train of thought – apparently, he was done with the marking or whatever it was. Harry showed the man the passage he had agonised over in the book. The professor lifted his grey-to-white eyebrows.





Harry entered his Casting Trance, pointed his wand at the floor in front of him while thinking of ‘giving birth to’ a chicken from the most basic of particles and said, “Genero” without much volume in his voice, all of that happening before two seconds passed. Harry's Free Conjuration skills were such that he could Conjure a chicken, but nothing else living. If that became Harry's signature animal, though, he would be furious.





The professor said nothing, but Harry put his wand on the desk before entering his Casting Trance again, pointing his hand at the chicken, then willing it to disperse into nowhere, or rather everywhere.





Professor Flitwick let out a high-pitched cry, snapping Harry out of his Casting Trance. Books landed in a disorganised pile, with the professor landing on top of them. Harry said, "Professor Flitwick? Do you need some help?" Fighting off worry and barely able to keep his sniggers at a low volume at the same time.





The professor grumbled a bit while getting up, then waved his wand, remaking the pile of books on his chair, but not sitting again. Instead, Flitwick walked around the desk and up to Harry, saying, “might I see another kind of magic, Mr. Potter?”





Harry nodded and Summoned a chair into his hand, putting strain onto his body -though not enough to push him forward anymore-, then Banished the chair at a wall. The short professor was looking at Harry, his face scrunched up in concentration.





Then, Flitwick said, "well, Mr. Potter. You have managed to impress me," still seeming to be concentrating on something.





Flitwick asked a lot more questions, like 'does summoning and banishing things affect your body?', 'are you able to keep your magic restrained at all times, or do you sometimes cast magic by accident?', 'have you ever made a Potion change its colour, function or other properties by accident?' and 'has your wanded or wandless magic pulled ahead, or have both types of magic developed at the same rate?'





"…So? What's the verdict, Professor?" Harry asked after a bit of wait while pacing back and forth.





Flitwick scrutinised Harry, then he said, "you see, Harry – I believe you are operating on a few misconceptions, mainly due to the books not being clear enough. You must know that Wandless Magic is not the same as Accidental Magic. In fact, one is a sign of exceptional control over one's self and powers, while the other shows a lack of control on all fronts.





» Another issue is that you have been using easier and less useful versions of the Banishing and Summoning Charm. The full-fledged versions do not put pressure on one's body directly. The very fact that you have managed to use the true Banishing Charm as a first year is extremely impressive.





» As for why magic has not been much easier for you with a wand… well, what did Mr. Garrick Ollivander say about your wand? After a cursory look, I am fairly confident it is made of ebony wood, but other than that, I have no idea."





Harry told Flitwick about his wand. He said, "according to Mr. Ollivander, its core is a feather from a fairly young Phoenix by the name of Sparkle- no, Sparky, the mascot of a Quidditch team in New Zealand."





"Hmmm," Flitwick said, his face scrunching up a bit in concentration again, "yes, I believe I have pinpointed the problem. Ebony wands tend to only accept those who are true to themselves and the feathers of young Phoenixes tend to be much weaker cores -in raw power- at first. Your wand has begun to accept you as its wielder, which is to be expected, since fighting for one's life tends to strip off pretences, even if the effect usually lasts for a short time."





"Are you- are you saying that I am not true to myself, Professor Flitwick?" Harry said, an edge to his voice that he hadn't intended for.





Flitwick scratched his beard, then the side of his head, where the leftover hair started. He then said, "either that or you have not proven yourself to your wand yet. I would not presume to tell you such a thing, Mr. Potter. Nevertheless, I have a word of warning: some wand woods need quite a bit of self-reflection. Ebony is one of them. Do not immediately assume that you are in the clear, because this wand wood is especially finicky."





Harry thanked the man for his time and walked away quickly, his temper making a comeback after a long period of good control.





'Fuck!' Harry thought, hitting the wall near him. 'There is no way I'm not being true to myself. I decided not to pretend, nor pander to fools anymore; isn't that enough?'





He wasn't certain just why he felt so angry, but he took a few deep breaths, doing his Occlumency exercise by picturing a football. Bouncing it from foot to knee to foot to shoulder… everywhere but the arms from bicep on down.





!!





Harry collided with something – someone? He let out a grunt, managing to stop in place just in time to stay on his feet. He let out a reflexive 'sorry!' and offered his help with picking up the fallen books. Why would anybody carry so many instead of putting them in a bag-?





"…Granger?" Harry said incredulously, being able to make out a head of bushy hair.





She also had a book bag hanging from her shoulders; thus, she was carrying way too many books… not that Harry blamed her.





Granger practically growled at him, but Harry helped her pick up the fallen books anyway. He had already made the offer, after all, which he told her when she asked. After he and Granger finished with the task, he felt more than saw her stare at him. He inclined his head to the side a bit, confused by the staring.





Granger sighed lightly and said, "Potter," nodding at him. Then, she walked away, muttering a 'thank you'.





Harry walked away too, his brain unable to process the idea of Hermione Granger being civil to him. He decided to explore the castle again, with more care this time.





He opened the door of an abandoned classroom, but apart from various cobwebs and a lot of chairs and desks stacked on one another, there was barely anything. He pocketed the only possibly useful thing there, an old-looking book, after transfiguring something into a handkerchief and cleaning the dust on the book with it. He walked a bit, then reached another door he believed led to an abandoned-





Wait, what are those noises? Something like voices and something that reminds me of the sound when drinking from a straw after the glass has emptied, a little bit.





Harry tried the doorknob, but it wouldn't budge. He put his ear on the door. He could hear two muffled voices and what sounded like kisses and moans-





'Oh balls,' Harry thought, cringing, 'they're snogging, or even shagging, aren't they?'





He left that classroom, not bothering to unlock the door. He didn't want to confirm his fears first-hand. Blegh.





-----





Harry was waiting for his Potions professor to stop stirring a cauldron and talk to him, having a question about something Flitwick had said. Harry was starting to get impatient, but he instinctively knew that the man would take it as a sign of weakness if Harry let it show.





"Mr. Potter," Snape said, acknowledging Harry's presence at last.





"Professor Snape," Harry greeted the man with a nod, politely. The man was much harder to get a read on than most, so Harry needed to focus fully.





Said Potions professor inclined his head at Harry, his brows furrowed, as if saying, 'well? Get on with it.'





"I asked Professor Flitwick about wandless magic and our conversation went to Potions at some point, so I came to you, Sir," Harry told Professor Snape. "Is it possible to make a Potion that requires a bit of 'silly wand-waving' wandlessly?" Harry asked.





"Do not attempt that, Potter!" Snape said -almost spat- vehemently. Then, he continued more calmly, saying, "until one's magic has fully stabilised and their Potions know-how is at great heights, that is a very hazardous thing to do. I have little doubt that you will reach the required level of control over your magic someday if you don't slack off, and there is a chance -however small- that you will manage to reach the expertise in Potions necessary as well, but a wizard or witch's body stops developing sometime between the age of twenty and twenty-nine… which is when one's magic is considered fully stabilised.





» Contrary to popular belief, greater Magical power is not purely something one is born with. One needs both a brilliant mind in a determined, confident and focused state and inborn talent to be able to reach a level at which the vast majority of wizards would be easily overpowered in such a contest, not to mention being able to cast spells others would be completely unable to, no matter how much time they are given.





» Of course, a fight or duel between wizards is rarely that straightforward. Ingenuity and tricking one's enemy or opponent, as well as the element of surprise are at least equally as important. Keep that in mind, Mr. Potter.





» An example of lacking focus but having a lot of raw power is Longbottom, strangely enough," not giving much heed to Harry's reflexive snort. Snape then said, or rather barked out, "yes, Potter! Have you not yet learned how to see through deception and deceptive situations?!" Then, Snape calmed down and spoke in a more civilised tone, saying, "Longbottom has a lot of natural power, considering the ill-fitting wand and lack of self-confidence; almost anyone else in his place would be unable to get any results at all, not simply be slow in learning a spell and sometimes overpowering it, like I have heard.





» As a contrast, the Weasley twins," an expression of mild distaste appearing on his face while he kept talking, "those two are very determined and focused on their- pranking; thus, they are excellent spellcasters at the worst of times, but they will likely never possess the raw power to take down the Hogwarts gates with only a few curses, even together. To recap, there is an element of inborn talent in magical power, but also a part that depends on one's mindset. Your magic is part of you. Who one is as a person, physically and mentally, has an effect on the power and behaviour of their magic.





» Back to our original topic. To be safe, you should not attempt to do anything like wandlessly imbuing a budding Potion with your magic until you are at least at my current age, thirty one. You are a… reasonably powerful wizard; those like you tend to stop developing late."





Harry couldn't believe that Severus Snape had not only paid him a compliment, but had done so more than once in a row. He suddenly remembered something he had forgotten to ask Flitwick. Harry said, “well, Professor. What about modifying a Charm by wishing for altered results? Is that safe for me to attempt?” Knowing that Snape was easily good enough at Charms to answer that question with no problem.





Snape scrutinised Harry, then nodded with a small grunt. Snape said, “if you are disciplined enough to work wandless magic, then there is no problem, as long as you maintain that focus and do not try something beyond your reach. Build up to harder spells and if you have the slightest doubt about something, do it under supervision from a professor.”





Harry said, "a final question, Professor. I recently came across something called an 'Illusion-Suggestion Hybrid Charm'. What is it and how-?"





"What! Where on Earth did you find mention of that, Potter?! Have you been snooping around the Restricted Section of the library?" Snape said sharply.





"So it's really dangerous? How do I fight against-" Harry said, leaning forward in interest.





"Enough with the questions. Out!" Snape said in a firm tone but without shouting, pointing at the door.





‘How the hell will I find a way to resist that bastard…?’ Harry thought to himself as he walked away.





-----





Parvati was in a corner of the Common Room, sulking. Harry considered his options for a moment- he went up to her, asking her what was wrong.





"Still not talking to you," Parvati said grumpily.





It took a bit of gentle coaxing and a lot of apologising, but Parvati admitted to the real reason for her mood. She said, "I miss Padma. When I told the Hat that Ravenclaw sounds boring, I didn't realise that I would only be able to see my sister when curfew hasn't started."





Harry found it strange that Lavender wasn't around to comfort Parvati. As if she had read his mind (ugh! Some of those muggle expressions!), Parvati said, "I snapped at her earlier…. I mean, she's so touchy-feely! You British and your culture are all so strange!"





"Hey, don't look at me!" Harry said, lifting his hands in surrender. "I'm not used to that stuff either!"





Parvati looked at Harry directly for the first time in this conversation. She said, "oh, yes. The Muggles of Britain are much more reserved than your wizards, aren't they? What's it like, living with Muggles?"





Harry shrugged. He said, "well, my uncle is rather reserved, as you said. My aunt, on the other hand, is a raging bitch. I don't want any kind of touch from her, even if she started wanting to for some unknown reason."





Parvati gasped, though whether it was at Harry's language or the rest of what he had just said about Petunia, he didn't know. Harry hesitantly put an arm around her shoulders, giving her time to stop him. Parvati simply leaned into him.





"…That wasn't so bad, was it?" Harry said.





"Are you telling me or talking to yourself?" Parvati said, snorting.





Harry scoffed, but he didn't retract his arm.





"I don't mind casual touches that much, but Lavender doesn't get the concept of personal space," Parvati admitted.





-----





It was time for Herbology. Their teacher, Professor Sprout, was a short, overweight woman who looked to be in her early- or mid- thirties, though she was likely older than that.





This time, Sprout had them gather up outside another greenhouse than the usual one. She said she intended to show them what magical plants could really do, which made Harry scoff. While he found gardening relaxing, magical plants were a hazard. He didn't like one of his few relaxing hobbies being intruded upon by life-threatening danger, adrenaline seeker or not.





"Mr. Potter," Sprout said, focusing on Harry, "are you able to name three ways one can be killed by magical plants?"





Harry nodded, saying, "one way is being choked to death by Devil's Snare. Incidentally, Devil's Snare fears light and heat, especially in the form of fire. Another is hearing the cry of a mature Mandrake, which has similar effects to a banshee's cry; that is to say, instant death. A third one- well, I cannot think of any, but there are plenty of poisonous plants that can kill by touch. Oh! Maybe being beaten to death by a Whomping Willow…?"





Harry saw Finnigan shudder at some point in his speech. Somewhere around the Mandrake, to be exact. The others weren't faring much better. Even Granger, who had lifted her hand just before Harry had answered, looked pensive.





Sprout was looking at Harry like she was confused by him. She said, "very good, Mr. Potter. Very good indeed…. Ten points to Gryffindor!"





It was Harry's turn to be confused. Ten points was a bit of an overkill for a first year's answer, even for Sprout. She shook herself and went back to her usual focus, ushering them to Greenhouse Three. Everyone, including Harry, was wary and quiet.





After Sprout had shown them the way to handle some of the more dangerous plants from a safe distance, she escorted them out of the greenhouse and back to more familiar waters.





One of the Hufflepuff boys went up to Harry and started a conversation. The Hufflepuff said, "the Herbology lesson today was nerve-wracking! What do you think, Potter?"





Harry nodded, saying, "it was indeed. Sorry, it seems you have me at a disadvantage. What's your name?" I will have to get used to people -strangers- casually saying my name.





The Hufflepuff boy caught himself. He said, "oh, my apologies. I am used to- I mean, my name is Justin Finch-Fletchley," giving his hand to shake, which Harry did.





He had heard that last name somewhere. This chap sounds like the high society type. Finch-Fletchley made a comment about Sprout, which Harry responded to by calling her 'very down to Earth'…. Finch-Fletchley never even noticed the pun. He kept on going and going about things Harry couldn't care less about. ‘Oh, he’s that kind of guy. Ugh,’ Harry thought to himself.





"Wait- is that Granger? I intended to talk to her." Harry said, inclining his head in Granger's direction. Then, he went up to Granger for real, to keep Finch-Fletchley from suspecting the ruse.





"What is it, Potter?" Granger asked, less coolly than usual.





Harry scrambled for a topic. He finally found one, saying, "is there a particular reason why you've been lifting your hand at the slightest opportunity during lessons?"





Granger's eyebrows joined together in a frown. She said, "what is it to you?" A bit defensively.





Harry thought back to how professors tended to react to Granger. He said, "well, at first, I only wanted to get away from an annoying guy who wanted to make conversation and only managed to bore me, but this is a genuine question. Have you not realised that you've been alienating people?"





Granger shook her head. She said, "so what? Am I supposed to dumb myself down to pander to the masses? Like it's not enough the professors are marking me down because I'm a Muggleborn! I had started to think that my first impression of you was wrong, Potter, but-"





"You are dumbing yourself down as you are by being a show-off," Harry said, interrupting her. "What do you mean by 'marking you down', though?"





Granger looked just about ready to cry. She said, "Professor Flitwick told me that he only took into account the first half of my latest essay – something about not staying fully on topic, adding all but useless trivia, not being able to trim down, the word limit being there for a reason and burdening the professors needlessly. He gave me an 'E'! Professor Snape gave me an A, without giving an explanation!





» All information is important! Are teachers not supposed to be unbiased and hard-working? I mean, putting time into making sure that the students are learning is not a burden! They merely preferred not to bother with me!"





Harry hadn't heard such shite since the time Dudley had been caught smoking, less than a year earlier, and was trying to find excuses for Petunia. "Well, that's a load of dung if I have ever heard one." He ignored Granger's shocked face; he said, "the professors only have so much time and energy; I won't reveal which professor it was, but I've noticed one of them on the verge of exhaustion. They have to prioritise… same with you: prioritising is a vital skill.





» If you only have so much space to write in, you should adapt and become more efficient, not try to get the professors to give you preferential treatment, then call them biased and racist when they refuse."





Granger looked thoughtful for a moment, then she smiled. Harry didn't like the glint in her eyes, but he would reserve judgment for the time being. She thanked Harry, the same dangerous look still on her face, then left.





-----





Did you like the fake-out where manipulative Dumbledore tries to get Harry to go after the Stone with some sort of mind control, only to be revealed as an impostor? Ha, cliches are good for something after all.
 
Last edited:

Innortal

Well-Known Member
#13
It does fit the profile. And if questioned later, Albus would simply say he was forgetting their talks, before wondering who was impersonating him, or if he made himself forget something and that conversation was simply an innocent victim.
 

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#14
It does fit the profile. And if questioned later, Albus would simply say he was forgetting their talks, before wondering who was impersonating him, or if he made himself forget something and that conversation was simply an innocent victim.
LOL, the Dumbledore of canon is rather manipulative, but ultimately well-meaning and also charismatic.

This guy is coming across as a bit sinister. I think I've made it obvious who it is (mainly because the true test for Harry is finding the Mirror of Wodahs and ___ , so the man didn't exactly try to hide it either), but I wonder: what do you think, @Innortal ?
 
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