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Harry Potter and the Harem Game, Year One

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Welcome to The Harem Game, Harry

Wednesday, July 31st, 1991.

Harry returned to his new room at Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, after his very first foray into the wizarding world since the Halloween after his first birthday. He brought along a trunk full of school supplies with his new, female (Hagrid told him), snowy owl. Thankfully, the trunk had a feather light charm cast upon it, courtesy of the trunk salesman. The charm might only last a day, but that was sufficient. He’d have never made it home with his supplies, otherwise. He named his owl Hedwig from a name he saw in his textbook, A History of Magic, which he had skimmed during his train ride home. And he was glad the Dursleys had not yet returned from the shack off the coast. He figured it might take them a day or two, since Hagrid took the dingy the Dursleys had used to get to the lonely hut.

Harry left his trunk at the bottom of the stairs and took Hedwig’s cage into his new room. He was surprised to see a barn owl, with a distinctive white tuft of feathers over the eyes, sitting on his desk. Tied to the owl’s leg was a gaily wrapped package. The owl hooted at Harry impatiently. After a moment or three, Harry untied the package from the owl, who then leapt out the open window and disappeared into the evening. He was sure the window had been closed and latched by his uncle when they left the house in order to avoid his Hogwarts letters, so he wondered how the owl opened the window.

Harry and Hedwig shared a look with each other, and both shrugged. Harry finished setting up Hedwig’s cage, using the birdcage stand for the bird Dudley got one of his birthdays, and then subsequently traded the bird away. He went back downstairs to retrieve his trunk and then sat on his hand-me-down bed. It was a bed that was too small for an oversized eleven year old (Dudley wanted a bed that could hold three of himself), but certainly sufficiently large enough for an undersized eleven year old wizard. Harry was happy to have a bed that he didn’t have to curl up into a ball to fit upon, nor worry about hitting his head if he sat up too quickly. And the lack of spiders was a plus, not that he minded spiders. He picked up the package and was wondering what was in it, when realized what it was. It was a birthday gift. He had seen Dudley get them year after year, but he had never had one before. His first birthday gift was from Hagrid, and that was Hedwig. However, Hedwig had not been given to him as a gift to unwrap. He was doubly glad the Dursleys were not around, as he was unsure how they would react to him receiving a gift, as that event had never occurred before (other than the odd toothpick, broken hanger, or old moldy sock). There on top was a small card that read ‘Happy Eleventh Birthday’.

Harry marveled at the concept that someone sent him a gift. But who? And why now, and not previously in his life? Harry carefully unwrapped the present, and neatly folded the foil wrapping and placed it in the drawer of the slightly lopsided ‘too small for Dudley’ writing desk. He examined his gift, which was a book covered in soft black leather about six inches tall and four inches wide, with a spine that was maybe three quarters of inch thick. There thin emerald green ribbon to use as a book mark hanging from within the middle of the book. On the cover in a fancy gold script was the title, The Harem Game. Harry thought that was an unusual title and as he opened the cover of the book, a piece of parchment fell out. Harry picked up and unfolded the parchment.

            Happy Birthday, Mr. Potter!

            We have never met, and though I wish we could, the rules of the game prevent that from happening. You have some particularly strong magic warding you that prevented me (or anyone else I’d wager) from sending you mail. I suspect the wards have an exception to permit letters from Hogwarts through, and that has allowed me to reach you, as I have had to disguise my gift as a piece of school mail. Assuming, of course, that this package actually does reach you.

            Your eleventh birthday is probably perfect time to receive this gift, as it is the age when the wizarding world no long considers you to be a child, but does not yet consider you to be an adult. Those awkward years from age eleven to seventeen, where to you learn about your magic and how to control and use it.

            I have searched for a long time to find someone worthy of being the successor to the book. I believe you will do nicely. Enjoy your gift, and your time in school. May the times you live in be interesting ones.

            Sincerely,

            A hopeful friend.

“Hopeful friend? Does that mean they are hopeful and a friend, or that they are hopeful that they will be a friend?” Harry mused to himself. “And isn’t that last bit considered a curse in some cultures? Wait… There is magic preventing me from getting mail? Do my aunt and uncle know about that? Is that why they were so surprised that day I got the first letter? Or was it that they just hoped my magic had been stamped out of me?”

Harry then folded the parchment back up, and returned his attention to the book. He opened the cover to find only one available page, marked by the green bookmark, with a tidy and flowing script:

            Welcome to the Harem Game.

            A game of innocence and intrigue, ardor and adventure, courting and conquests, libido and lust, and victory through variety!

This was followed by a circle about the size of a two pence coin. The script then continued:

            Prick the center of your right thumb with a sharp object and press your right thumb against the page in the circle above to learn more about the game of a lifetime!

There was nothing else written on the page, whilst the book appeared to have multiple pages, all the pages seemed stuck together so that only the one page was available. No matter what he tried, he could not get the book to open to any of the other pages. Harry thought about that. Was this normal for wizard books? None of his textbooks seemed to require anything like this or behave in this manner. After shrugging to himself, he found a needle in his school supplies, and pricked his right thumb, letting the blood well up a bit before he pressed the bloodied thumb against the page within the specified circle. Harry waited.

And waited.

Perhaps this was a joke. He tried to pull his thumb away from the page, only to find he could not do so. Just as he was beginning to panic, the book began to glow a lovely soothing blue color that really did nothing to sooth a near panicked eleven year old. Then blue color turned golden, and the book fell from his thumb. When Harry bent to retrieve the book from where it fell, he noted the title on the cover had changed from The Harem Game to Harry’s Harem Game.

After retrieving the book and cautiously opening it again, Harry noticed that the first page had changed as well (and that there were more than one page available now), and what was written was in the same tidy and flowing script.

            Welcome to Harry’s Harem Game, the game of life, fun, and adventure through seduction, sex, and collection.

            Player Identifying Information (PII)
            Player number: 1000

                      Congratulations on being player number 1000! See appendix ‘Beginning Game Bonuses’ to claim your special reward!

            Application Date of Player Creation: July 31st, 1991, 7:13 p.m.
            Player Name: Harry James Potter
            Known Titles: Heir of House Potter
            Aliases: Boy; Freak; Weirdo
            Appellations:
                      The Boy Who Lived; Savior of the Wizarding World; Defeater of He Who Must Not Be Named; Vanquisher of the Dark Lord; The Chosen One; The Criminally Insane Relative of the Dursley’s
            Age: Eleven years and 0 days
            Father’s Name: James Potter (Deceased)
            Mother’s Name: Lily Potter (Nee Evans) (Deceased)
            Current Residence:
                      #4 Privet Drive
                      Smallest Bedroom
                      Little Whinging,
                      Surrey, U.K.

            Current Guardians:
                      Vernon Dursley, Uncle through marriage (non-magical), age 35
                      Petunia Dursley, Aunt through maternal blood line (minimal magic potential), age 33

            Astrological Data:
                      Sun: Leo – 24 degrees, 8 minutes
                      Moon: Pisces – 28 degrees, 15 minutes
                      Mercury: Cancer – 19 degrees, 32 minutes
                      Venus: Gemini – 25 degrees, 32 minutes
                      Mars: Libra – 12 degrees, 01 minute
                      Jupiter: Virgo – 11 degrees, 32 minutes
                      Saturn: Virgo – 24 degrees, 0 minutes
                      Uranus: Scorpio – 21 degrees, 29 minutes
                      Neptune: Sagittarius – 20 degrees, 9 minutes, retrograde

            Distinguishing Features:
                      Perpetually Messy Hair
                      Runic Curse Scar:
                                Location: Forehead
                                Shape: Bolt of Lightning
                                Rune name: Sowilo or Sigil

            Current Familiars:
                      First Familiar:
                                Name: Hedwig
                                Species: Owl, Snowy, Magical
                                Gender: Female
                                Numerical Age: 1 years, 0 days
                                Maturity: Post-pubescence
                                Age of Familiar Bond: Less than one day
                                Depth of Familiar Bond: Not quite empathic
                                Notes: Exceptionally Intelligent; Bonding not yet completed.

            If this data is correct (to the best of your knowledge), please tap the green circle with your right index finger. If it is incorrect, please tap the red circle with your left index finger.

Harry had no idea if most of that information was correct or not. He had heard of the planets and the zodiac constellations, other than that the data was meaningless to him. Until today, he didn’t even know he had appellations (other than that last one), so he wasn’t even sure if any of those were correct either. He didn’t even know that the scar on his head was runic, and only learned it was caused by a curse earlier that day, rather than a car crash. He didn’t even know that Hedwig was his familiar. Then he realized something. He and Hedwig had the same birthday! He looked up to Hedwig and said, “Happy Birthday, Hedwig. I’ll have to get you a present next year. This year you’ll have to make do with our familiar bond and the new home.” Hedwig happily chirped back at Harry.

Harry looked back at the book. Since all the rest of the data was true as far he knew, he tapped the green circle.

The page turned and Harry was given the rules of the game.

            Rules of Harry’s Harem Game

            All games need rules, and Harry’s Harem Game is no exception. So, with no further ado, here are the basic rules of your game!

          1) Rule of Secrecy: You will not to discuss the details of the game with anyone. The only exceptions are soul mates, or familiars, if any, and only when absolute privacy can be guaranteed. (See appendix ‘Bonds and Bondage’, for more information.)
          Please Note: This rule is contractually enforced. (See appendix ‘Blood Contracts and Magical Enforcements’.)
          2) Rule of Active Participation: You must attempt a minimum of one quest a month. Failure to attempt the minimum quests will result in penalties. (See appendix ‘Game Penalties Caused by Failure to Play’ for further information.) Failing an attempted quest is not the same as failing to attempt a quest. The more quests you attempt, the more rewards you can reap! Unless stated otherwise by the quest, there are no penalties for failing to complete a quest.
          You must examine or access this book at least twice a week in order to keep up to date with progress within the game. (See appendix ‘Game Penalties and The Price of Ignorance’, for further information.)
          3) Rule of Fair Play: Cheating is prohibited. (See appendix ‘Game Penalties for Cheaters, Deadbeats and Lowlife Scum’ for further information.)
          Please Note: Fair play is contractually enforced (See appendix ‘Blood Contracts and Magical Enforcements’.)
          4) Rule of Inventive Solutions: Creative Interpretation of Rules and Goals is encouraged! Just because some resolution was unforeseen when the game was created, doesn’t mean that the resolution breaks the rules! (See appendix ‘Interpretation of the Rules’, and appendix ‘Challenging the Rules’, for more information.)
          5) Rule of Quest Compliance: Breaking the rules of a quest you have accepted will result in a penalty. Each rule violation has a different penalty, and repeating violations will have increasingly harsher penalties. (See appendix ‘Rules Violations and You’, for more information.) The rules of the game are somewhat fluid, given that undertaking quests can apply temporary rules, and that with certain rewards, you may become exempt from other rules as play proceeds.

          As you play you will earn rewards and experience, as well as accumulate milestones. As you progress, you will be able to choose some of your rewards, while other rewards are predetermined. Some choices negate the ability to make other choices later, or will delay when a choice becomes available (or available again), so choose carefully! (See the chapter ‘Harry’s Tutorial’, for more information on how to make choices.)

          If you understand these rules and are ready for the tutorial, tap the green circle at the bottom of the page with your right index finger. Doing so will finish registering you as the next player of Harry’s Harem Game and enact a binding magical contract.

          If you disagree with these rules and do not wish to play the game, tap the red circle at the bottom of the page with your left index finger. Doing so will cancel your player application, and send the game along to the next eligible player.

“Wow,” whispered Harry, “Magical books can sure pack a lot of information into a small space.” Harry mulled it over, and was about to tap the green circle when he remembered something his uncle was frequently telling his aunt when handymen were required around the house, “Always read the fine print on any contract before signing it. That’s where the real costs are hidden.” As much as he loathed his uncle, Harry remembered that Vernon had been a salesman, and a salesman’s livelihood came from getting contracts signed. So Harry delved into trying to find the fine print, or at least the appendices that were mentioned.

The appendices were very numerous, and hugely disorganized. He searched through the pages for a while, but soon came to realize how impossible it would be to stumble across the information he needed when the book appeared to have thousands of pages. Harry looked at the front of the table of contents. Frustratingly, there wasn’t a table of contents. Harry then went to the back of the book to look for an index.

Well, Harry found an index. However it was a book in and of itself. The good news for Harry was that the first chapter of the index was titled ‘How to Navigate the Index’. "Brilliant… this is really useful to know. You’d think they would have made this easier to find." After re-reading the navigation instructions, he grabbed the end of the emerald ribbon bookmark and recited “Show to me the index entry for the fine print related to the player application contract.”

The book pulled out of his hands (except for the end of the ribbon he was holding) and it flipped through several pages before coming back to rest in his hands, open to the index page he requested.

“There sure are a lot of entries under the heading fine print. Um… There it is, Fine Print for the Initial Player Contract.” Harry grasped the book mark and said, “Show me page seven-hundred eighty-three thousand, four hundred twenty-one.” The book then turned itself the requested page.

A page that was completely blank aside from the page number. Harry borrowed his uncle’s magnifying glass and started looking at the contract page, when that revealed nothing. Then he recalled the symbol of a moon next to the index entry, and that the instructions for the index indicated that some sections of the book required specific conditions be met in order to view the information. He hoped that he didn’t need a full moon, as that was nearly a week ago.

He took the book into the back yard, and held it open under the moon light. He could see some faint lines that he didn’t see before. He took out the borrowed magnifying glass and peered at the page carefully. That was it… the fine print! The print was becoming stronger as the moon rose higher in the sky. Harry was really wishing the moon was completely full, but equally glad that the sky that night was mostly clear. He went back inside to go grab a scribbling pad and a biro, then came back to start writing down what he could read. The words followed the edges of the circling in tighter and tighter towards the center of the page.

            Initial Player Application Contract Stipulations:

            By agreeing to participate in the Harem Game, or Harry’s Harem Game (a.k.a.: the Game), you (a.k.a.: the Player) agree to the following stipulations:
            1. The Player agrees to allow the Game to affect his/her life and potentially interfere with his/her fate/destiny, if any.
            2. The Player agrees that any mishaps, misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and mistakes that occur while playing the Game are all the Player’s responsibility to deal with, regardless of who is actually culpable.
            3. The Player agrees that when the Game ends, any backlash (magical, spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational or fate-related) from playing the Game are the Player’s responsibility.
            4. The Player agrees that any relationships resulting from the Game are the Player’s responsibility to maintain or correct when the Game is over.
            5. The Player agrees that it is possible for the Player to die while playing the Game, and accepts that as a possible consequence of playing game.
            6. The Player agrees to accept that the Game’s duration is measured in years, and that the Player might not be able to complete the Game before expiring of natural or unnatural causes.
            7. The Player agrees to accept the consequences for all actions and choices made by the Player while playing the Game.
            8. The Player agrees to not hold the creator (living or dead) of the Game responsible, accountable or in any way liable for any harm (physical, emotional, magical, psychological, spiritual, etc.), real or imagined, that might occur while playing the Game.
            9. The Player of the Game agrees to abide by the rules of the Game for the duration that the Game is played.
            10. The Player agrees to forfeit the life he would lead as a non-player by playing the Game. (Refer to stipulation one.) Once game play stops, there is no guarantee that the forfeited life can be recovered or will even remain in existence.
            11. The Player agrees that any disputes regarding the rules or penalties applied while playing the Game will be arbitrated the by Avatar of Justice, or their designee, as presented by the Game (see appendix ‘Invoking Arbitration’).
            12. By tapping the green circle, the Player agrees to a binding magical contract (using his/her blood that was submitted to start the player application to create the binding) between the Player and the Game (See appendix ‘Blood Contracts and Magical Enforcement’). Breaking of the contract will result in the forfeiture of magic on the part of the party responsible for the violation of the contract. The violator of the contract will be given an opportunity to atone for the violation before the contract’s violation clause is enforced. Any mediation required for contract violation will be handled by the Avatar of Justice, or their designee.
            13. The Player agrees that all mediation performed by the Avatar of Justice, or their designee, will be binding within the terms of the magical contract and rules of the Game.
            14. By agreeing to play the Game, the Player is forfeiting a portion of their freedom of choice. This is a consequence of choosing the play the Game and agreeing to participate in quests.

                      a. As this is a voluntary forfeiture on the part of the Player, the Player must be age eleven or older in order to give their consent and their magic core must be stable enough to accept the contract.
                      b. If those two conditions do not exist when the Player taps the Green circle, the Game will inform the player of the inability to form the contract.
                      c. Should the Game inform the Player of a contract instability, the player will be given the option to be approached by the Game in one year to try and form a contract again, or given the option to pass on playing the game as if the Player had declined (tapped the red circle).

            15. Should the Player decline to play the Game, knowledge of the Game will be removed from the Player’s memory, and the Game will be forwarded to the next eligible and available player (see appendix ‘Short Term Obliviations and You’, and appendix ‘Long Term Obliviations and Their Consequences’).
            16. Should the Player agree to play the game, all fore-knowledge of the game gained through investigation of the book will be removed from the player’s memory in order to enforce fair play.
            17. By agreeing to these stipulations, the player agrees to abide by the rules of the game as they are written.

Harry was very glad he decided to write this out on a scribbling pad, as he really wanted some time to think the stipulations. He didn’t want to have to be dependent up on moonlight being available in order read this again, not to mention that the swirling pattern of the text in the book made it easy to misread something. Harry double checked what he had written, revising it as he went to correct from errors in his first reading.

Harry returned to the house and read some of the appendices well into the night.



NOTES:


This took me about two and half years to write, as a challenge to myself to actually write a story. I followed the challenge rules loosely.

Challenge Requirements:

(Streamlined, not verbatim)

When Harry discovers that he is a wizard, someone sends him a strange book entitled "The Harem Game". Curious Harry opens the book and learns that now his life has become a game, that he is the main character and that one of his main goal is to have a harem of willing women. The book contains all the information and rules that Harry must know but they can be presumed as:

      - Competences, skills and stats can be created and augmented by doing actions. Some actions allow deletion of some defaults.
      - Sometimes quests will appear, if these quests are completed, experience is gained.
      - With enough experience you level up with each level you gain some points that allow you to enhance your stats or to buy some perks (some perks have conditions).
      - The best way to win experience is to have lot of sex with lots of women. Sometimes this will result by the gain of a bonus in stats, competences, skills, perks or even more experience. Examples of these moments are:
          o first time with a girl;
          o a girl becomes a regular lover;
          o a girl becomes addicted to you;
          o a girl worships you and is willing to become your sex-slave/concubine/harem member;
          o or you have won an achievement (X virginities taken, have sex X times, have anal/oral sex X times ...).
      - Harry doesn't know where this book came but he will profit from and will abuse this game.

Other details:

      - Harry gains an increase in libido, stamina, and sexual endurance with each new girl.
      - No girl younger than 5 years of Harry’s age or 15 years older than him. This rule is principally for his teen and young adult years. If you manage to write a fic that goes into his adult years then, if a girl is at least 15 year old and willing, Harry can add her to his harem.
      - Harry must gain a perk that allow him, his linked familiars, and his bonded harem to take a animal form, a human form and a mix form.
      - Harry must gain a very good reputation with the muggle girls of his neighbourhood but at maximum 2 muggle girls can be in his harem.
      - Gabrielle is 4 year younger that Harry.
      - You can use some girls from other fandoms but later in the story.
      - Harry must find a way to destroy his horcrux parasite without be killed.

Additional Boiler Plate: Citations
I copied some text and paraphrased other text from the works of J. K. Rowling. I cited these instances poorly (read not at all) so this is my citation.

Chapter Text

To Play or Not to Play, That Is the Question

Harry awoke in the morning with a start. He was in the midst of a nightmare, and his heart was racing. He dreamt of the Dursleys chasing him all over England because Dudley had been turned into a pig and slaughtered for bacon. While the demise of Dudley did not upset Harry all that much, it was that his aunt and uncle were actively trying to actively kill him rather than just trying to kill him through neglect. He thought it would be best if his aunt and uncle associated him with Dudley’s cure rather than associating him with Dudley’s affliction.

Having made a decision, Harry wrote a note to Professor McGonagall (as she was the person who signed his school letter). He had briefly considered Hagrid, but given how Hagrid wasn’t supposed to perform magic, he thought someone else might be a better choice.

            Dear Deputy Headmistress McGonagall,

            My name is Harry Potter, and I have done something embarrassing and I need some advice. I couldn’t work up the courage to ask Hagrid what to do about the issue yesterday, and now I am not sure who to ask for guidance.

            Yesterday, my cousin started eating the cake that Hagrid had brought me for my birthday before I had even had a chance to have any. It upset me very much as I have never had a birthday cake before. I remember thinking that maybe since he ate like a pig, he would be better off being a pig. Then something strange happened. My cousin Dudley sprouted a pig’s tail through his pajama bottoms. I don’t think Hagrid noticed what I did, and I was too embarrassed to bring it up yesterday.

            My aunt and uncle and cousin have not returned home yet from where Hagrid found us off the coast of England. I am very worried about what will happen when they return home. Is there some wizard emergency phone number I should use? Will this cause me problems with my acceptance into Hogwarts? How do I fix what I did to my cousin?

            Thank you,

            Harry Potter

Harry sealed his letter and took Hedwig out of her cage. He opened the window and gave the letter to Hedwig. “Hedwig, please take this to Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall at Hogwarts. Do you need me to tell you anything more in order to deliver this?” Hedwig shook her head in the negative and with a majestic hoot, flew out of the window on her way to Hogwarts.

Now all Harry had to do was wait for a reply, or for the Dursleys to show up. Neither prospect filled him with anything but dread. That dread killed anything Harry had that was reminiscent of an appetite. So, to pass the time he decided to investigate his book again. Since the sun up, he decided to read his book where the sunlight could shine on the pages. By mid-morning, Harry found that in addition the book having more pages than it appeared to have (how can a three-quarters of an inch thick book have over two million pages?), that there was a sub-entry under the index entry for ‘The Fine Print’. That entry was denoted with a symbol that looked like a candle and labeled ‘The Fine Print, Footnotes’. So he took a candle out of his trunk and lit it. Then took the book and scribbling pad into the cupboard to read by candle light.

            Footnotes to the Fine Print
            1. The phrasing of the Fine Print was last updated on May 7th, 1897 to match the contractual phrasing in use at that time.
            2. Previous versions of the Fine Print can be found under the appendix ‘Outdated Verbiage and Other Linguistic Alterations’.
            3. If the Player has any questions about the Fine Print, they may request clarification from the Avatar of Justice.

            Stipulation One: The Player may request an accounting from the Avatar of Justice as to what will be ‘lost’ to the Player by agreeing to play the game. The Avatar of Justice will then be required to delineate to the Player what their life as a non-Player would have entailed. This must be requested before the player agrees to play the Game. For information on how to summon the Avatar, see appendix ‘Summoning the Avatar of Justice’.

            Stipulation Two: The Player may request representation during any Arbitration proceedings, as long as the representative has knowledge of the Game (i.e. a familiar, or soul mate, etc.)

Seeing no further text, Harry blew out his candle and returned it to his school belongings and sat down on his bed re-reading what he had transcribed from the book. He decided to look up how to summon the Avatar of Justice from the index, in case there was a special lighting method indicated. There was nothing special noted in the index. Since Harry was finally getting hungry, he went downstairs to make some soup. He thought he could keep down some tomato soup and crackers.

After cleaning up from lunch, and trying to do an extra thorough job of cleaning, he retired to his room to contemplate what questions he had for the Avatar of Justice.

Justice Rising

After mulling it over for a couple of hours, and writing down the questions he wanted to ask, Harry went about summoning the Avatar of Justice. Harry laid the book open to the summoning page, and tapped the four corners in a clockwise direction.

“Come forth, Avatar of Justice, and heareth mine plea. Player number one thousand (probationary) requesteth thy presence regarding a matter of rule.” He then tapped the four corners in the opposite direction.

“Come forth, Justitia, and heareth mine plea. Harry James Potter requesteth thy presence regarding a matter of rule.”

He again tapped the four corners in the original direction. As Harry watched, the book took on a golden glow, and the pages turned to a page with an image of a woman in a knee length toga and sandals carrying a sword in her right hand and a set of scales in her left. Her hair was mass of dark red curls bound behind her neck with a ribbon. This image started to lift off the page and take on a three dimensional form. Harry was awed to see this magic, as to him it was even more impressive than the moving photographs he had seen in some of the shops. Once the image had reached a height of about eighteen inches, it began speaking in a clear feminine voice.

“Justitia hears the plea of the plaintiff. What matter is brought before the Avatar of Justice by Harry James Potter, probationary player number one thousand?” Harry hesitated, as he had no idea how to respond to the formality presented. “Speak Harry James Potter!”

“Er… I needed some clarification of the contract stipulations presented in the fine print and, um, I have some questions about the game in general.”

“Ask your questions.”

“… Under the basic rules, rule four, the rule of fair play, and rule five, the rule of inventive solutions, seem contradictory to me. Would you please clarify them for me with a couple of examples?”

“Rule of Fair Play: No Cheating. This should be self-explanatory. An example of cheating is casting a confounding spell upon the game book in an attempt to make the book forget or misapply one (or more) of the rules of the game. Another example of cheating would be trying to use a memory erasing charm upon the book in an attempt to make it forget something like a quest failure.

“Rule of Inventive Solutions: Creativity is encouraged. An example might be you have attempted a quest where the condition of the quest says you may not cast a spell during a twenty-four hour period in order to achieve your goal. You might cast a time delayed spell, or a spell of long duration prior to the twenty-four hour period, or you might ask someone else to cast the necessary spell, or you might use potions to achieve your goal. If you are not awarded the rewards for completing a quest that you think you should have earned, or you are informed you failed a quest that you think you should have completed, you may contest the decision by summoning me.

“Does that satisfactorily answer your concern?”

Harry jotted a few notes on his scribbling pad. “Yes, thank you. My next question, when does the game end?”

“There is no time limit on how long you play the game. However, you must meet certain criteria to retire from the game once you agree to start playing. The overriding factor to this would be an untimely death on the part of the player. If you are dead, obviously you cannot continue to play.”

“What are the requirements for retiring from the game?”

“There are six phases to the Game. Tutorial, Basic, Standard, Advanced, Expert, and Mastery. Once you begin play you are not allowed to retire until you have completed the Standard Phase. In order to retire at the end of the standard phase, your harem must number seven or more females, seven of which must have reached the Abject Devotion stage in the Relationship Matrix. And you need to have at least seven females who were virgins when they entered into your harem. After meeting those requirements you may retire, continue to play, or enter a following phase of the game. Once you enter a new phase, you must complete that phase and its requirements before you can retire. Please see the appendix ‘How to Retire from Harry’s Harem Game’ for details on how to actually initiate and complete retirement from the game. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Mostly. What is the Relationship Matrix?”

“The Relationship Matrix is a method of defining the relationship another person has with you. More details are available in the Tutorial and Basic phases, or in the appendix titled ‘The Relationship Matrix and You’. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“I suppose so. How long do I have to decide if I want to agree to the rules and fine print?”

“Fourteen days from the time you started your player application, which was when you submitted a drop of blood to the book. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. Why are some pages of the book only accessible under certain lighting or other conditions?”

“The Creator wanted the game to be challenging and require resourcefulness on the part of the Player. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. Who is the creator of the game?”

“The name and identity of the creator of the game are unknown to me. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“No, but I accept that you don’t know the answer. How does playing the game interfere with the player’s fate?”

“It is possible that by playing the game you might disrupt your fate or the fate of another. An example: The player is fated to die by being poisoned by a specific woman. The game may cause the player to acquire the woman and add her to his harem, and she may reach a devoted relationship stage. This may prevent her from poisoning the player. A second example: Perhaps a women is fated to give birth to seven children sired by a specific man who is not the player. It is possible that the by playing the game, the woman will becomes a member of the player’s harem, thus preventing the specific man from siring seven children with the woman, thus preventing her from fulfilling her fate. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“... Yes. If I ask what I would be giving up as a non-player, would that tell me what fate I am missing out on?”

“Not necessarily. While what a player will lose can be delineated, whether or not any of that is part of the player’s fate is beyond the ability of the game to determine. It is possible to identify a potential fate from such delineation, but requires a very skillful interpretation by the player of the events delineated. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“I suppose so. How can I determine if my Player Identification Information is correct? I don’t have any adults or records available to confirm some of that information.”

“Do you have any specific identifying information that you believe is suspect?”

“Not really, but I have no idea how to confirm the appellations or the astrological information or that Hedwig is actually my familiar. I only learned about being a wizard yesterday.”

“I see. Use my sword to prick your thumb and place a drop of blood upon my scales.”

“… Okay. Ouch.”

“Patience, please.” Harry waited several minutes for Justitia to continue. When she was done, the drop of blood had disappeared from her scales. ”I can determine no discrepancies. Can you aver that the information is correct to the best of your knowledge?”

“Yes.”

“Can you aver that the drop of blood you just provided came from the same person as the drop of blood that was used to open the player application?”

“Yes.”

“Then even if the information has an error, there will not be any issues with the magical contract if you agree to the terms and conditions. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. What kind of backlash can result from ending game play?”

“That question is unanswerable as there are too many variables to game play to predict. Only one example is available to me that occurred to a previous player. The player was entered into a magical marriage contract by his parents and the parents of his betrothed when the player was very young. The player started playing the game before the marriage was due to take place, which caused several of the contracts clauses to be violated. As they occurred while the player was within the game, those clauses’ penalties could not take effect until the player retired from the game. At that point the player suffered the consequences of violating the terms of the contract. The player was aware of the contract and did not want to go through with it, and thought they had found a way around the clauses by participating in the game. While they were playing the game, that was true. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Err… Yes. Is there a table or appendix that delineates what the symbols in the index mean? And if there is, where do I find it?”

“You can find that information on Table One of the appendix ‘Game Symbols and You’. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. Does that table or appendix require anything specific in order to read it?”

“The table requires a mirror. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. There are over two million pages in this book. How is it possible to read them all before deciding if I want to agree if I only have fourteen days total to do so?”

“The majority of those pages are inaccessible to players. They contain the magical contracts, game rules, enchantments and other materials required for the game to function. They also contain log entries of previous games and players in order for the game to remain ‘current’ to the era and societal customs of the player. Only three thousand three pages are available for your perusal at this time, two thousand seven hundred two of which are in the index and appendices. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Can I learn about previous players or their games?”

“No. That is covered by the Rule of Secrecy. Would you like it if another player was able to access information about what you have done with whom and when?”

“… No. I guess not.”

“Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Yes. The footnotes for the Fine Print indicate you can delineate what I lose as a non-player if I choose to play the game. Can you delineate what I will lose if I don’t play the game?”

“Not any specific values. There are too many choices and variables to predict the game outcome. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Can you delineate what I gain by playing or not playing the game?”

“No. That ability was not provided to me. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Can you tell me what is involved in delineating what I will lose as a non-player if I chose to play?”

“Yes. You are allowed one delineation. This delineation has an average margin of error of seven percent. The delineation presumes that the game does not affect you directly or indirectly. You will provide a period of your lifetime over which you wish to have your delineation generated. You will only remember the delineation during the period of time between starting your player application and agreeing or declining to become a player. Once you decide, the delineation will be erased from your mind to prevent the knowledge from influencing your choices during the game as a player or during your life as a non-player. Has your question been answered satisfactorily?”

“Can you repeat that for me?” Harry took notes as she repeated the information for him. “I think I need some information on what I would lose by not playing the game to properly decide. Otherwise how to do I determine which choice is better for me?”

“Is that a question regarding the rules, or a request to contest the rules needing arbitration?”

“… Contest. I think.”

“Understood. The plaintiff, Harry James Potter, has entered the following plea for adjudication: Player needs to have delineated what is lost as a player by not playing the game in order to contrast against the delineation of what is lost as a non-player by playing the game. Has the plea been properly stated?”

“Um… Yes.”

“Plaintiff, state your argument for your plea.”

Harry paused and gave this some thought. Justitia seemed very patient, and practically immobile while waiting for his response. “Okay. If I… If the player only has one side of the question delineated, the player’s decision will be based on incomplete information. With nothing contrast against, how can the player make a fair and informed decision about whether to play the game or not?”

Justitia quietly waited for a few moments before Harry said, “That ends my argument.”

“Argument entered into the plea. There is nothing in the rules that outright forbids the delineation requested. Stipulation one: The requested delineation will be erased from the Player’s mind when the Player accepts or declines the invitation to play the game. Stipulation two: The requested delineation will be less specific and have a greater margin of error. Assessment: The requested delineation can only define what is lost ambiguously due to the high number of variables available during the course of play, and is primarily based on prior player data available to create the delineation. Accuracy has a predicted margin of error of up to thirty-three percent based on scenarios from previous players. Does the plaintiff understand the Stipulations and Assessment?”

“Yes.”

“Plaintiff, Harry James Potter, agrees with Stipulation and Assessment. Judgement: To accommodate the Rule of Fair Play, Player One Thousand and all future Players will now have available the ability to receive a delineation of what is lost to a Player by not playing the game. Rules, Fine Print and Footnotes updated.” The book and Justitia glowed red momentarily. “One extra page of player accessible information has been added to the book. Does the player have more questions or another plea to enter for judgement?”

“More questions. How long will it take to create the delineations, and will I have enough time during my remaining thirteen days to review them?”

Justitia closed her eyes and her scales and sword took on a greenish glow. “Standard delineation will take three days to generate. Time to review historically takes seven or eight days. Time to create contrasting delineation is unknown. Time to review is estimated to be the same as the standard delineation.”

“Wait a moment.” Harry scribbled some notes, then did some addition and said, “I have another contest to the rules I wish to enter.”

“State your contention.”

“There is not enough time to generate both delineations and review them and have time to compare them before the fourteen day deadline on deciding to play the game occurs.”

Justitia repeated the contention back to Harry, who then agreed that was what he wanted adjudicated. She then said “Plaintiff, state your argument for your plea.”

“If the game generates both delineations that will take three days for the first plus and unknown amount of time for the second. Then the reviews take seven to eight days a piece. Assuming that the contrast takes eight days or less to generate, it will take fourteen to sixteen days to review both scenarios. Add the time to create the first one to that, it will take up to seventeen to nineteen days to create and review both. If I was asking for this just after I opened the book, I would have another three to five days of review to go when the decision deadline occurred. I would need an extension of time to review, compare, and then decide if I want to play. That ends my argument.”

“Argument entered into the plea. Rule of Fair Play applies to the game as it would be unfair to force a potential Player to decide before reviews are complete. Complication: The fourteen day waiting period cannot be altered. Complication: Delineations must be created in sequence, not simultaneously. Complication: Creation time for Contrast Delineation is unknown as it has never been attempted before. Complication: Player may request either or both delineations on the last day of the waiting period. Plaintiff Harry James Potter, time is required to adjudicate the contention. It is unknown how long this will take. As a result, the delay caused by this adjudication will be considered when rendering a decision. You will be summoned when a decision has been reached.” Justitia then collapsed back into the page.

Harry pondered that, wondering if he just posed an unsolvable conundrum to the book. Then it occurred to him, that he might be summoned when the Dursleys were back. He hoped the decision would occur before they returned. Not having anything else to do, he started to read the appendix on blood contracts and what could and could not be enforced.

 

Into the Hole with You!

A few hours later, Harry was reading another appendix when he was summoned. He realized he hadn’t needed to worry about the Dursleys as it was a silent summons, and that reminded him about the Rule of Secrecy.

Justitia rose from the pages of the book again. “Plaintiff Harry James Potter. A decision has been reached. Since the fourteen day waiting period cannot be changed, and the player can ask for delineations upon the fourteenth day, the following solution is the only resolution available. The player and the game book, upon the player requesting delineations of what is lost, will be subjected to a pocket dimension where no time outside the pocket is perceived to have passed. Thus an unlimited amount of time will be available for the player to review the information, and compare the results. Within this dimension, the player will be placed in a magical state where time is meaningless and biological needs are placed on hold. When the player is ready to leave, they will signal that to the game. Does the plaintiff accept this arbitration?”

Harry thought about it, but realized that he might not remember it perfectly once he left the pocket dimension (whatever that was). “May I offer suggestions to the arbitration?”

“The Plaintiff may request additional considerations.”

“I would like for the space to have some comfortable furniture to facilitate the review, and for the space to have a light source for reading. I would also request to take in writing materials so I can take notes regarding the delineations. And since various different conditions need to be met to read some of the pages of the book, I would like to request that those conditions be available on demand within that space.” Harry crossed his fingers upon the last one.

“What is the purpose of the notes?”

“So that I can list the significant points of both delineations, which will help me organize and compare the results. I would need to take the notes out of the space as well since I might have time left in the waiting period before I had to ultimately make a decision.”

“And why do you request the various reading conditions?”

“So that while I am waiting for delineations to be generated I can read the appendices, and have the information available for reference regarding the delineations while I make my decision to play or not.”

After a few minutes, Justitia replied, “Those are deemed as acceptable modifications to the decision. Do you accept the arbitration with the agreed upon modifications?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have any other issues to bring forth for arbitration?”

“Not at this time.”

“Understood. Do you have any other requests?”

“Can we perform both delineations now?”

“Yes. For the delineations, temporal, dimensional, and divination magic will be required. Do you agree to their use at this time?”

“Yes.”

“Do you understand and agree that you will only get one delineation for player and one for non-player scenarios?”

“Yes.”

“Specify the period of time you want delineated for both delineations.”

“Does the time period have to be the same for both?”

“Yes. Otherwise you will not have equal information upon which to deliberate.”

“Um… is fifty years okay?”

“Fifty years is acceptable. Do you wish to have your delineations performed for a time period of fifty years starting from today?”

“Yes.”

“Providing delineations for player number one thousand, Harry James Potter…” and her voice faded away to Harry’s perceptions, and Harry found himself sitting at a desk sitting in a comfortable chair within a small room, with a bed and no doors or windows. The book lay upon the desk with his scribbling pad and biro. Harry could not determine how the room was illuminated, as it appeared to be lit, but no light source was visible. Shrugging to himself, he started reading more of the appendices as he waited for the delineations to be performed.

Harry had just completed reading another appendix, and guessed that three days had passed, when his world shifted.

For the first delineation regarding what he would lose as a non-player by playing the game, Harry viewed his life from that of an outside observer, as if it were a movie, or novel being read to him by a talented voice actor. The delineation showed him going through seven years of school, fighting a Dark Lord, and dying at the age of seventeen. Then the delineation path split, where in one branch he is dead, but in the other branch he goes on to defeat the Dark Lord, marry a red-head, and have three children, and some grandchildren. Due to a prophecy that was apparently active, the delineation had to provide the two outcomes. When his delineation completed, he had some very detailed information of what would be lost if he chose to play the game.

The second delineation began immediately after the first ended. Harry was treated something akin to story boards and script rehearsals, and to a collection of images (some of them quite graphic and inappropriate for an eleven year old). In the end he defeated the Dark Lord without dying. He had images of a rather large and diverse harem of women and an even larger number of diverse children. There would be fewer deaths and the war would be much shorter with less collateral damage. The delineation indicated that Harry would coerce and dominate several women into being members of his harem, a couple of feminine boys, and a half dozen eunuchs that he created from rival males. In fifty years he would for the first time be contemplating retiring from the game.

When Harry’s senses returned, he heard Justitia’s voice. “Delineation results have been recorded within the game. Player may access them by turning to appendix ‘Player One Thousand’s Delineations’ and rubbing the pages with a half of lemon. Pages will not be available after the player has decided whether or not to play the game. When player is finished reviewing the information, the player needs to pull the bell pull.” At that moment a bowl of lemon halves appeared on the desk and a bell pull appeared next to the wall. For some unfathomable reason the bell pull was in the shape of a hangman’s noose.

Taking the scribbling pad, Harry started writing notes listing the high/low points of the delineations.

            Delineation of what is lost by playing the game (margin of error: 4%):
            - Branch 1
            o Death due to Prophecy prior to age 18 (91% Probability)
            - Branch 2
            o Defeat of a Dark Lord according to Prophecy (9% Probability)
            o Guilt due to feeling responsible for the deaths of thousands
            o Marriage to an ambitious, prideful, jealous wife
            o Three children
            o Eight grand-children
            o Job as an Auror (Wizarding Bobby)
            o Job teaching Defense against the Dark Arts
            o Several life threatening adventures – Tom’s shade, basilisk, dementors, Tri-wizard tournament champion (with dragons!), running into a trap set by Tom, chasing down horcruxes, life on the run, and a Final Battle at Hogwarts. Some other vague adventures during adulthood as an Auror.
            o Severe collateral damage from a wizarding war.
            o Inheritances due to deaths of family, close friends and loved ones
            o Being owed fourteen life debts
            o Death of familiar due to violence
            o Becoming a god father
            - Branching caused by active prophecy

            Delineation of what is lost by not playing the game (Margin of Error: 27%):
            o Harem of loving devoted women numbering forty or more
            o Discovery of a soul mate
            o Children numbering fifty or more
            o Grandchildren numbering over one hundred
            o Several different life threatening adventures (Tom’s shade, basilisk, dementors and chasing down horcruxes, being kidnapped during the Tri-wizard tournament as a spectator, final battle with Tom.)
            o Defeat of the Dark Lord (per prophecy, chance of dying determined to be less than one percent)
            o Learning forgotten branches of magic
            o Jobs as an Unspeakable, Minister of Magic, Headmaster of Hogwarts, and Teacher of Dark Arts
            o Minimal guilt regarding loss of life during wizarding war
            o Moderate to mild collateral damage due to shorter wizarding war
            o Discovering lost inheritances
            o Being owed four life debts
            o Mastering nine branches of known magic, including Alchemy
            o Discovering a new branch of magic and mastering it
            o Five or more familiars
            o Becoming an multiple form animagus

            Prophecy (from before I was born): “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power that the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”

            Notes and questions:
            - Don’t be a prat to Severus Snape. He’s got enough problems. Perhaps I can find a way to alleviate some of them.
            - Push Headmaster Dumbledore for more information sooner. He seems to think I need to have a normal childhood, but he is the one who ensured it was anything but normal by placing me with the Dursleys.
            - Need to learn about goblin customs. Possibly goblin language?
            - Is it important that in both predictions that I didn’t have possession of my vault key until after I was seventeen?
            - Don’t rise to Draco’s bait. Don’t rise to Ron’s bait. That should really annoy the bullies.
            - What can I do about my connection to Tom?
            - Can I get Sirius out of Azkaban earlier?
            - Can I deal with the basilisk early?
            - Can I prevent Tom from getting a body?
            - Can I dispatch Tom before he gets a body?
            - Can I somehow provide myself with clues since I won’t remember any of this?
            - Is it possible to destroy a horcrux without destroying the container?
            - Befriend Hermione on the train?

Harry jotted some more notes so that he wouldn’t have use a lemon to read the delineations again.

Harry continued to read the book as well. He figured it would be best if he got all his reading out of the way first. He hoped that when he pulled the bell pull that only the memories of the delineations would be erased and not any other memories… or notes. As he was reading, he noticed something very odd. He could access some of the pages he previously couldn’t.

“Justitia, can you clarify some items for me?” He received no response. He tried to summon Justitia, and that did not work either. He wondered if some of the book’s functions were somehow suspended within this space. He decided to read up on the pocket dimension he was in, and he found that it was how the book was anchoring the memories regarding his delineations to make it easier to remove them when he accepted play. And that it would cause any physically written notes about it to be erased at that time, too.

Harry flipped through the book until he found something like a story about some wizard and his life, with references to the Game. Harry realized he was looking at the logs of another player! He searched and found the last chapter of player number nine hundred ninety-nine. There was nothing too interesting other than what the woman had to go through to get the book to Harry. According to the log, her motivations were not sinister. She honestly thought that he could handle the book and it would be of benefit to him. Harry also learned that her name was Zenobia De La Montagne, and that she lived in Belgium.

Harry went back to the last chapter of the player previous to Zenobia and read, he was appalled by what he found. And he verified it with almost every other player to have owned the book that retired from the game. Nearly all the improvements selected by the players to manage their harems and improve their magic faded starting about two weeks after the player retired from the game, and that most of them died at the hands of their harem afterwards. And that their harem members were so distraught they also slaughtered their own children and each other. The saner ones escaped with their children and sought refuge in the non-magical world to hide from possible retribution.

Harry wondered if he could do anything to prevent Zenobia’s decline as her logs indicated she wooed her harem members rather than using spells or potions to dominate them. She only forced two members into her harem of twenty-four because it was the most humane way she felt she could deal with people trying to kill her.

Further investigation showed him that at no time did a player decline to play the game. It was possible those logs were deleted, but given how much information was stored within the book, his instincts told him that wasn’t the case. After hours of research (for which Harry was glad he didn’t need to eat or sleep), he determined that the players were bound by blood contract to play the game as soon as they activated the book with the first drop of blood, and that binding compelled them to accept playing the game while giving the appearance of being able to decline. Also, the game creators somehow imbued the book with the personalities of powerful beings to act as guides to the players, but the guides were compelled to work for the best interests of the book and not the player. The exception appeared to be Justitia, as her role as arbiter necessitated less strictures upon her personality, and her role also kept the various elements within the book functioning more or less smoothly.

He was finally able to determine why things went downhill for the retirees. The book used all the death and mayhem as ritual sacrifices to continue to power the book, and something else, though he knew not what.

“Bloody Nora!” Harry immediately clapped a hand over his mouth upon finishing the exclamation. Then he realized there was no one to scold him and relaxed a bit. He was seriously wishing that he had never received this book. Now he had to figure a way around the whole thing.

Harry spent untold days within the pocket dimension, reading everything he could (which was difficult because he only knew English, though there was an odd squiggly script he had no problems understanding, which actually contained some of the most significant and informative information he found). Through that squiggly script he was able to find a way to translate the things written in other languages, which was a time consuming process. On the plus side, he had all the time he would ever need.

He had developed a plan, but it required learning to program the book. So he spent more countless days (as there was nothing to indicate the passing of time) learning the new skill. The fortunate thing for Harry was that he was in a room that provided all the necessary conditions to be able to read anything in the book. Altogether, Harry read the entire two million plus pages at least three times.

Harry learned a great many things about relationships, sex, and sexual fetishes. Some of which disgusted him and made him ill, some of which intrigued him. After all his research, Harry went about trying to determine the best way to ‘creatively interpret’ the rules of the game. He decided to try and keep things simple, given his limited knowledge of magic (i.e. none prior to the book, and only what he was able to learn from the previous player logs), and his inability to test his programming.

He added a couple of lines to the conditions of Zenobia’s retirement stipulating that all game enhancements became permanent (as a bonus for being player triple nine). However, he couldn’t do that for himself, as the book would not allow identical bonuses to be awarded to different players.

To help himself, Harry added pages that could only be accessed by himself (if he was properly understanding how that worked) by writing the conditions to make them readable only to himself. Within those pages were various notes about things that ‘could’ happen while he was at school, and things that he wanted to work towards. He also left notes about things to avoid, like trying to make Pansy Parkinson part of his harem (as that made the Malfoys and the Parkinsons outright enemies looking for his blood), or some of the things that he would like to avoid, like making harem members into mindless slaves. That was particularly abhorrent to him, but he figured that since that prediction was based upon previous player’s actions, it might not apply to him if left to his own devices. He tried to make sure those notes would become available in advance of his needing them. He couldn’t make either of the delineations available in their entirety to himself after choosing to play the game, so he had to settle for his, hopefully, not too cryptic notes. And the best way he could work that was to have the notes sort of pop-up when certain conditions were met. The really difficult part was that he needed to make sure he would believe himself after his memories of this were erased. The reason why the waiting period was two weeks was that was the maximum span of time used by the obliviation spell to keep players from remembering anything other than the basic rules and that they willingly accepted to play the game. Harry also edited his player bonus, and tried to unravel some of the book-bias that the guides were force to display.

When all that was done, he pulled the bell pull, and with a horrendously loud gonging, he was returned to his room at Number Four Privet Drive.

He took several deep breaths, then he pressed the green accept circle to get the obliviation over with, since he feared he might be a bit more than slightly crazy after spending such a long time, possibly years, alone, in a room with the book. He hoped the obliviation would help with mitigate that.

Chapter Text

Meeting the Game Guide – or – I Want Me to Do What Now?


 

Harry was feeling a bit light headed after accepting to play the game, and he was unsure why. But the book was sitting open in his lap, and his finger was in the green circle. When he removed his finger, the page turned to the next page of its own accord. Upon the page text appeared that seemed to be written in his handwriting.

            Note to self: I should always ask questions of the game and work towards the creative solution rather than the straightforward solution. Within the game, I don’t have to dumb myself down to make others look good. At Hogwarts, do not dumb myself down just to make and keep friends. Let them accept me for who I am rather than how good I can make them feel about themselves. Select the avatar that looks like Medusa. Always look for the ‘permanent’ options on any advancements given by the game, otherwise they disappear after I retire from the game. And I need to try and get whoever comes to take care of Dudley’s tail to get me away from the house so I can have a doctor look at my scar. If I am asked, I should say that the scar hurts. ~HJP

            P.S. Turn the page to start the tutorial.

‘Why does this look like my handwriting?’ Harry was curious about that. He reviewed what presumably was a note written by himself, but its presence confused him. ‘I was already planning to get away from this house, but why have them look at my scar?’

Harry turned the page, and the book was returned to its usual flowing script.

            Now that you have accepted being a Player, it is time to familiarize you with the Game itself. To facilitate that, please choose an interactive avatar to assist you from the choices below. To select the avatar, tap it twice with your finger.

There were six avatars with a name below them and a brief description. The first was Sekhmet, a lion headed woman with bare breasts and a blood red, ankle length, Egyptian style skirt, with a red sun disk above her head and described as a warrior goddess and healer. The second was Tanit, a stern looking woman wearing a style of dress, light blue in color, draped over her left shoulder leaving her right breast bare, described as an unmarried mother and nurse, goddess of war and fertility. The third was Turan, a beautiful looking nude young woman with white feathered wings, described as a goddess of love, fertility, vitality and beauty. The forth Astarte, a nude, mature, shapely woman described as a goddess of fertility, sexuality and war. The fifth was Shaushka, another beautiful woman with white wings, wearing a conical brass hat and a diaphanous yellow gown, described as a goddess of fertility, war, healing, and conjugal love.

The last was Stheno, a woman wearing a red knee length Greek styled peplos, except she had no knees. Her lower body was that of a snake, and her hair was made of red colored vipers. Her face was beautiful, but contorted with rage. She had sharp fangs and a snake like tongue sticking out of her ‘snarling’ mouth. Her hands appeared to be metallic and of a brassy color. She was described as a gorgon, cursed guardian, healer and fertility goddess.

Harry could see a pattern here, but he had no idea what it meant. All six women were variations of love, fertility and war. And though he was strangely drawn to Stheno, he was unsure why his note to himself insisted on selecting her. The foremost questions in his mind was how did he leave himself a note, and if he didn’t, why was the book pretending he did?

Harry finally decided to just trust his instincts, and that was to select Stheno. The book glowed with a reddish aura, and the book mark changed colors from green to red, and the end of the bookmark became split like a snake’s tongue. And like Justitia, Stheno pulled herself up off the page and took on a three dimensional solid appearance. Harry noted that the brass hands looked more like brass gauntlets, and that her skin was scaly, but pale, and that her snake like lower body was covered in black scales rather than the red of her viper hair. He also noted that her dress was rather… thin. He could clearly see her nipples. She had a belt that looked like a snake biting its tail as well. Her sinuous tail was twitching angrily, which was more pronounced due to the rattle tip, and she hissed, “I am finally selected as a guide, and I get a filthy male whelp.”

“Woke up on the wrong side of the book, I take it?” replied Harry.

Stheno paused and peered at him, making him feel rather uncomfortable, like he was caught with his hand in a cookie jar. “You speak the Divine Royal Tongue. Who are you?”

“… I am Harry Potter. It is nice to meet you. What do you mean by divine royal tongue?”

“You are speaking the Divine Language, spoken by the ancient royalty to confer with their divine advisors, snakes. I am Stheno.”

“Sorry. I am still confused. I am speaking English.”

“You are mistaken. I know of and can speak English because of this infernal book, but you are currently speaking the divine tongue of royalty. Mortals have recently labeled it parseltongue. It is truly wondrous and exceptional that you are unaware you are speaking it right now. If you focus your attention on the sounds you are making, you will realize I am correct.”

“If you say… so… Okay, that is weird.” Harry heard himself hissing, and like Stheno said, he had to focus on it in order to realize it.

“I disagree. It is perfectly natural for you as a descendent of ancient royalty.”

“My life just keeps getting stranger by the hour.”

“Now that we have the obligatory introductions out of the way, young mortal, let us begin the tutorial.” Stheno then described to Harry how to use the book over the next few hours. At which point Hedwig tapped on Harry’s window. After excusing himself from Stheno’s tutorial, Harry let Hedwig in and gave her an owl treat, stroked her feathers some, then took the letter she had carried and read it.

            Dear Mr. Potter,

            You need not be alarmed by the burst of accidental magic. That is why you are going to be attending Hogwarts, so that you can learn how to control your magic to prevent such outbursts. As your magical core grows and stabilizes, future occurrences should be negligible. Normally the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes would detect such outbursts and send the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to help rectify any of the more serious problems that would occur. Since you were off the coast of England, it is likely that you were outside the range of their detection charms. Unfortunately, the Department will be unable (or unwilling) to correct the issue you reported if it occurred outside their jurisdiction.

            Since that appears to be the case, I will be around to your house at one o’clock sharp with our matron, Madam Pomfrey, to sort out your cousin’s new found appendage.

            Sincerely,

            Minerva McGonagall
            Deputy Headmistress, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Harry sighed. “Well, that’s one thing off my list.” Then Harry realized his relatives hadn’t returned yet. “Oh, I can’t believe I am saying this, but I hope they get home before one tomorrow.”

“Are you done being distracted from the tutorial, or would you like to stop here and continue the lesson at another time?” Stheno said acidly.

Harry turned to her to respond, but stopped short when he saw what looked like a stylized scroll rolled out sideways above Stheno’s head displaying his handwriting.

            Note to self: I need to learn as much of from the tutorial as fast as I can. Draw a circle counterclockwise with your finger to dismiss message. ~HJP

Harry blinked a couple of times, then dismissed the message and said, “I may need to take small breaks from time to time, but I would like to get through the tutorial as fast as I can. How much more is there to cover?”

“Given our present rate of progress, another six hours.”

Harry looked at the clock. That would take him to roughly midnight. “Then a longer break is in order, as I am hungry and need to get something to eat.”

“As you say, mortal. I will rest while you consume your meal. Summon me when you are ready to continue.” With that, Stheno collapsed back into a two dimensional form on the page, and the book closed itself. This was the first time Harry saw the book’s outside since he selected Stheno as his guide. The book’s outside had changed. Instead of soft black leather it was covered in a mostly red snakeskin, like the color of the Stheno’s snake hair. In the center of the cover, the snake skin was more albino pale and shaped vaguely like a woman’s face. There was a pair of wide slanted snake eyes with red sclera (just like Stheno’s) on the center of the cover and within the face, and what looked like nostril slits halfway down. Below the nostrils were some red scales in the shape of a woman’s lips. There were some brass claw like bindings on the spine of the book and a similarly styled latch on the opposite side. The previously gold lettering was now silver, and it appeared to be a series of random squiggles, but Harry understood it to say Harry’s Harem Game, The Gorgon Edition. He also noted that the eyes moved, and the blood red bookmark occasionally flicked like a snake’s tongue. Overall, Harry thought it was a rather beautiful book, if somewhat intimidating looking.

After getting a meal and cleaning up after himself, Harry noted that the Dursleys had yet to return. So he went back to his room to continue with the tutorial. Grabbing the bookmark with his thumb and forefinger as he had been instructed, Harry said, “Come forth, Steno.” The book then flipped itself open and the gorgon rose from with the pages to around eighteen inches in height.

“Are you ready to continue, Player One Thousand?” Harry thought he heard a slight bit of mocking in that question.

“Yes.”

“Good. Before we cover how to apply rewards to yourself, let us review. State how your abilities are described within the game.”

“Um… the abbreviation P.I.S.C.I.S. is used to label the three regions of description. P.I. stands for Physical Indices, S.C. stands for Skills Codex, and I.S. stands for… Intrinsic Summary.” Harry paused to gather his thoughts before continuing. “The P.I. has information regarding my health and appearance, such as height, weight, any diseases or illness I may have, how much I can lift, how much stamina I have, what color I have for hair, and any physical magic applied to my person, such as a petrification spell or a transfiguration. The S.C. contains information about what I have learned in terms of knowledge like maths or geography, and physical skills like archery or cooking. The I.S. contains abilities, like magical ability or being a musical prodigy, that beyond the normal human baseline, or other advantages that may be applied during the game.”

“That is an adequate summary. Now explain questing.”

“To see the available and ongoing quests I need to grab the bookmark with thumb and forefinger and say ‘show me the quest log’. I need to accept at least one quest a month, though I can accept more if I choose. I will have three to five available quests to choose from and each quest becomes unavailable two weeks after it is listed, not two weeks from when I see it listed. Every time I complete a quest, a new one replaces it. Some quests do not have a time limit to complete, while most quests have a fourteen to thirty day time limit. Some of the time limits are measured in hours rather than days. Time limit to complete the quest starts counting down the moment I accept the quest. I am allowed to ask questions to clarify requirements of the quests at any time prior to accepting the quest and in most cases during the quest. Rewards for completing the quest are listed after the details of the quest. Some rewards are static and applied automatically. Some rewards require me to make a choice. A few of the rewards give me a time limit on that choice. The majority of the rewards are I.P.s or Improvement Points that allow me to purchase specific rewards and improvements from a list I can find in the appendix ‘Things to Spend Improvement Points Upon’. There may be surprise rewards where I have to dig into my P.I.S.C.I.S. in order to discover them. When I have completed a quest, I will hear a gong. If I have completed a requirement of the quest, but not the quest itself, I will hear a chime. It is up to me to track how much time I have left on completing a quest.”

Harry paused and thought for a few moments, then continued. “Failing to select a quest during the month applies temporary negative penalties to my P.I.S.C.I.S., and the penalties are worse and cumulative for each month I fail to select a quest. After six months of not selecting a quest, some of these penalties are permanent and have to be bought off with I.P.s. The exception to these penalties is if I am incapable of making a selection during the month. Upon becoming capable I have three days to select a quest to avoid penalties. Failing a quest does not apply any penalties unless those penalties are listed within the quest, or I have failed to complete ten quests in a row. In order to activate a quest, I have to tap it to reveal the details, then tap the green circle to accept the quest.”

“Again, adequate. Describe the rule of secrecy and its caveats.”

“I am bound by a blood contract to not discuss the game with anyone other than my familiar (or familiars if I have multiples) and my soul mate (or soul mates if it is possible to have more than one), as the bonds between myself and them allow them to see the game book. The same bond prevents them from discussing it with anyone but me. The book has monitoring charms to alert me if there is anyone capable of overhearing our conversation that is not one of the allowed beings. The book also prevents any sound within one foot of me and the book to escape when I am accessing the book. Additionally, only the allowed beings can see the book once the game has been started.”

“What is the easiest way to navigate the book?”

“Grab the book mark between my thumb and forefinger and state what topic I want. If the pages are blank, I need to look up the topic in the index to find what conditions must be met in order to read the topic. If I cannot read the specific language it is in, I can use the bookmark to create a temporary translation that I can read.”

Stheno glared at him. “I don’t recall telling you about those last two items. How did you know of them?”

Harry paused before answering, and looked rather confused. “I don’t clearly remember. I think from reading about the rules prior to accepting to play the game.”

Stheno glared for a bit more before relaxing her continence. “Describe the basics of the relationship matrix.”

“The relationship matrix is a mathematical representation of how people feel about me, and in some cases, about others. My feelings towards anyone are not recorded in the matrix. The values in the matrix range has seventeen stages from abject hatred to absolute devotion. Each stage of the matrix is broken down into five sub-stages which for negative stages are abject, greater, lesser, base, and mild. For the positive stages the sub-stages are mild, base, lesser, greater, absolute. The exception is the indifference stage which has no sub-stages. The stages are hatred, loathing, rancor, animosity, antipathy, resentment, contempt, dislike, indifference, like, affection, sympathy, respect, amity, infatuation, love, devotion. I can view a person’s relationship matrix to myself after I have initiated a kiss, or more intimate contact has occurred, or their relationship stage with me has risen infatuation or fallen to rancor without any intimate contact. I can also view how they feel about others, as long as those other people meet the same requirements. I can view a matrix by grasping the book mark appropriately and stating ‘show me the relationship matrix for so-and-so’. “

“Also adequate. Last point of review, who am I, and what can you tell me about the language we are speaking.”

“You are a gorgon, one of three sisters who were virgin guardian priestesses of a temple to Athena. You and your sister Euryale are immortal, and were born to Gaia and Uranus when Kronos emasculated Uranus and are also sisters to Aphrodite. Where Aphrodite was born of the sea, you were born of the land in ancient Lemuria. Some centuries later some of Uranus’s preserved seed was dropped on a mortal before mixing with Gaia in the location of your birth, and the mortal sister Medusa was born. She is also the only one of the gorgons to have human legs, and with a beauty that rivaled Aphrodite’s. Medusa always wore a mask, or a veil to hide her beauty so as to avoid arousing the jealousy of Aphrodite or other goddesses. Since neither you nor Euryale fought in the Titan War, neither of you were thrown into Tartarus. Medusa’s birth came shortly after Athena’s. After Athena claimed her birthrights, and following Gaia’s advice, she beseeched the gorgon sisters to be her guardian priestesses at her most sacred temple, to which you agreed and all three of you wore monstrous masks to discourage the profane from approaching. For those in need you offered… succor?... by providing healing and respite.

“One day Poseidon discovered your sister, Medusa, while she was bathing and without her mask, and was overcome by lust at her beauty. She fled his advances, because she did not want to betray her vows to Athena, and ran to the temple looking for her sisters for protection. You tried to scare him off with your ceremonial masks, and tried to ward against him with magic, but in his lust he overcame the wards and raped Medusa in the inner sanctum of the temple. Athena was outraged by this violation, but was told by Zeus that she could not punish Poseidon for having been bewitched by Medusa’s beauty. The only wrong you and your sisters had committed was failing to protect the temple from another Olympian, so Athena did not bear any anger towards you. Since she could not punish Poseidon directly for his transgression, Athena decided to find a way to do so through the three of you.

“Since Poseidon had boasted of Medusa’s beauty, there were other gods desiring to lay with her, or Euryale or yourself, and Aphrodite and a few other goddesses where angry at the slight to them. Athena needed to protect her three gorgon priestesses. So, she made the ceremonial masks a part of your continence that you could summon at will to discourage unwanted suitors, and gave you the ability to turn your enemies to stone with a glance, even other gods. She turned your hair to vipers so that you would always be able to hear the divine wisdom whispered in your ears, and she granted the three of you brass gauntlets created by Hephaestus that could rend steel and crush stone. Since the most sacred of her Temples had been defiled by Poseidon, Athena was able to claim one of his sacred temples on the Isle of Sarpedon in recompense, which housed one of the entrances to the underworld, and she ordered the three of you to sanctify and protect it in her name. When Poseidon would send heroes and demigods to try and reclaim his temple, the three of you would turn them to stone, thus punishing Poseidon further.

“Centuries later, Perseus, son of Zeus, came and slew Medusa as directed by a follower of Poseidon. You and Euryale were unable to have revenge because of the magical items gifted to him by the gods, particularly Hades’ helmet of invisibility. Decades later, when the entrance to the underworld collapsed and no longer needed guardians, you and Euryale traveled the world to exact your revenge upon the line of Perseus.

“Medusa, upon her death, gave birth to Pegasus, the first winged horse, and Chrysaor the first king of Iberia. Both were beautiful to behold as befitting the beauty of your sister.

“As to the language we are speaking, you referred to it as the Divine Royal Language that was used by ancient royalty tracing back to the age of Lemuria where the rulers used it to communicate with snakes, the conduits of divine wisdom of the time. At some point later, snakes were vilified, and thus was the Divine Royal Language vilified and speakers of that language feared.”

“Very good, young mortal. Always remember that history is written by the winners. And in the case of my history, it was written by followers of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, men who wanted to make sure women remained powerless. That is why Medusa as the victim of rape was blamed and not the rapist. Questions before we continue?”

“How did you end up in the book? And are the other avatars really goddesses trapped in the book as well?”

Stheno’s tail twitched with anger as she appeared lost in thought. “I do not remember. Last I can recall I was in the region of Carthage making my way to where I believed my sister Euryale was currently residing. As for the others, I have not interacted with them to be able to determine if they are titans, goddesses, or just powerful sorceresses. Whatever they are, I do believe they are trapped like me within this thrice damnable book.”

“Do you know who made the book?”

“No, I do not. If I did, I would be doing everything I could to get you to kill them, or their descendants, for me.” Stheno look startled for a moment. “Something is amiss. From my reviews of the other guides interactions with players, I do not believe I should be able to express such sentiments about the creators or the book itself.”

“Perhaps it has to do with this being your fist time as an avatar, or maybe your limits are not the same as the other avatars?”

“I will have to think upon that later. We must continue the tutorial.

“Applying your rewards. Static rewards are applied automatically upon completion of quests or achievement of milestones. Rewards that need decisions made will not be applied until you decide to apply them, and will be available until you retire from the game if you decide not to apply them. The exception is rewards that require you to choose before a time limit expires. Once the time limit expires, the reward is no longer available to you. Improvement points will last until you spend them, and you are not required to spend them at all. Questions?”

“No, Stheno.”

“Then on to how to choose your rewards. You grab the bookmark and say ‘Show me my available rewards’, and the book will turn the page to display all the unapplied rewards, including the remaining unspent improvement points. You need to tap and entry to get a full description of the reward. Tap it twice and you will be given the option to apply it, discard it, or ignore it for the time being. I advise against discarding in case you decide at a later point you wish to apply the reward.

“With improvement points, you need to either go to your P.I.S.C.I.S. or, as you already stated, to the appendix ‘Things to Spend Improvement Points Upon’. In either case, your available points to spend will be listed at the top of the page. To spend them, tap the item you wish to buy or improve, or change (like the color of your eyes or hair), to find out the I.P. cost. If you can afford it and want to buy it, tap the green circle. As a side note, reducing something to a lower level can get you a refund of points, but you will only receive three-quarters of what it would cost to buy it. Other players have done this in order to afford something expensive sooner than they might with questing rewards. Again, I would recommend against this, as you never know when you might need that ability or level of ability you just sold off. Additionally, you might have some limitations that you can buy off, for example, your poor eyesight would be considered a limitation that could be bought off. Questions?”

As Harry was about to say no, another scroll-note appeared above Stheno.

            Note to self: Ask if rewards are temporary, or permanent (as in that they last past retirement from the game). Cancel this note with a counter clockwise circle drawn with your index finger. ~HJP

Harry cancelled the note and asked, “How permanent are the rewards.”

“They are permanent unless otherwise described in their text as temporary.”

“So, if I retire at the age of 30, and live to the age of 80, I get to keep them past the end of the game until I die?”

“Yes, they will… Hrm.” Her eyes narrowed. “How strange. No, they will not. They are permanent for the length of the game, and about fourteen days after the game ends. That seems… misleading and unnecessarily punitive for having ‘won’ the game.” Stheno snarled, which startled Harry as he wasn’t expecting a predatory snarl from a being so reptilian in appearance. “I see. I think only one person before you stumbled upon this. There is a way to make the rewards permanent. However, it will cost your five times the normal reward cost to make it so. Eight times if you wish to make the ability a hereditary one.” She then muttered under her breath, though Harry heard her clearly, “Why has this never come up before with the other players and avatars?”

Harry hoped he was doing the right thing in believing those notes really were from himself, even if he couldn’t understand how he did it.

“Can all abilities be made permanent or hereditary?”

Stheno blinked as she roused herself from her musings, then concentrated before answering. “No. And to access a permanent increase you must find the small blue dot within the ability description to find out if the ability only lasts the length of the game, or can be made lifetime permanent, or made both lifetime permanent and hereditary.” And she further said under her breath, “It’s like the game creator didn’t want players to know this.”

“Thank you. I don’t think I have any more questions.”

“On to the next step. Spending your starting player bonus awards. Turn to the appendix ‘Beginning Game Bonuses’.” Once Harry had done so, she continued. “On this page are your starting bonus rewards to get you started and help you practice applying rewards. You have been given fifteen I.P. and a list of available rewards, which should number ten choices…” Stheno drifted off when she saw that there was a list of twenty-one choices, and fifteen hundred I.P. listed on the top of the page. While she tried to reconcile this, a scroll-note unrolled above her.

            Note to self: Choose the following, make them permanent (or hereditary if I like, read the descriptions to decide). Total Recall (both levels), Natural Occlumens, Natural Legilimens, Speed Read Enhancer, Resilient Mind, Fast Learner, Gifted Kinesthetic, A.R.M.ed and Dangerous, Mage Sight, Advise Me Truly (this will affect the Avatar and need her permission), and Multiple Familiars. (This one adds one different type of familiar each time it is bought. Can’t have two Hedwigs. Add at least two, no more than five.) Maybe one other if the mood strikes me, as the list is somewhat random. Try to bank the rest for making later game awards permanent. IF I ever see the reward Time After Time, I should get it if I can afford it. Again, counter-clockwise circle with the index finger to close the note (and all future notes, unless otherwise noted. Ha ha!) ~HJP

Harry re-read the list, and to make sure he didn’t miss any, wrote it down while Stheno was otherwise occupied trying to reconcile the differences between what she was going to say, and what was on the page. He dismissed the note, and said, “Is there something wrong?”

Stheno growled and hissed angrily, and her rattle twitched at what seemed to be one thousand times a second. “Oh yes! There is a discrepancy on a rather large scale. One that has never occurred before as far as I can tell. You have one hundred times the points I expected and twice the number of choices. And you seem to have a static award I was unaware of, that being all quests generate five times the normal amount of I.P. And I am compelled to summon the Avatar of Justice to sort this out,” and said added under her breath, “the pompous Olympian bitch!”

“Er… Do I need to do it, or do you need to summon her?”

“I do!” Stheno spat. “No use putting it off.” She then used the same invocation that Harry used to summon Justitia, without the wand tapping.

Justitia arose from the page opposite from Stheno. “Justitia hears the plea of the plaintiff. What matter is brought before the Avatar of Justice by Stheno, Avatar Guide for Harry’s Harem Game?”

“There is a discrepancy in values between the expected rewards and the listed rewards. Adjudication is required to determine the correct values. The expected rewards are fifteen I.P. and ten options to choose from, and the listed rewards are fifteen hundred I.P., twenty-one rewards to choose from, and a static reward increasing all I.P. earned from quests by a factor of five.”

“The plaintiff is requesting judgement upon which set of rewards are correct. Is there any input from the Player, Harry James Potter?”

“I had no expectations on the bonus starting awards. I don’t have any information about the rewards other than what is listed on the current page.”

“Any other arguments, for or against one set of values?”

Stheno then spoke, “Let him have the greater rewards, as they are the only ones he can see, and it would be unfair to take those away from him when he has not done anything that I know of to deserve the penalty. I also have no reason to believe one is more accurate than the other. Because of the scale of the discrepancy, we cannot continue without your judgement.”

Justitia then became still, and after a few minutes of silence, she stirred and said, “Per precedent and rule of fair-play, all discrepancies, unless deemed to be cheating, are ruled in the player’s favor. Only the scale of the discrepancy in and of itself is unprecedented. Plaintiff Stheno, do you have any reason to suspect interference, collusion or cheating on the part of the player?”

“I have no such suspicions nor do I have any evidence.”

“Judgement is passed. Avatar Guide Stheno will continue the tutorial using the greater listed rewards on the current page. Are there any other issues to be resolved at this time?”

Stheno replied, “No.”

“Then this session is completed and the game has been duly updated.” Justitia then faded back into the book, and book took on a golden glow.

Stheno looked at Harry, and clapped her brass covered hands together. “Well then, let us continue. Please select the rewards you wish to learn about, then tap the green circle to apply them or the tiny blue dot to make them permanent or hereditary. If you have any questions, ask.” Stheno still appeared rather aggravated. Harry assumed that was from dealing with Justitia.

Harry examined the list. The reward titles were Green Thumbs, International Man of Mystery, Order Over Chaos, Improvised Serenade, Magnetic Personality, Animal Magnetism, Fast Learner, Pterolocution, Pheromone Musk, Dashing Demeanor, Total Recall, Natural Occlumens, Natural Legilimens, Speed Read Enhancer, Resilient Mind, Gifted Kinesthetic, A.R.M.ed and Dangerous, Mage Sight, Advise Me Truly, Alley Cat and Multiple Familiars. Harry carefully read through the lists, and decided the first one he needed to apply was Advise Me Truly. This would allow the Avatar to offer advice favorable to him instead of neutral advice or advice that is favorable to the game, but appears favorable to the player. It would also allow the avatar guide to inform the player of any pitfalls as they saw them, which they are supposedly prevented from doing otherwise. It also appeared this reward might be in his handwriting as the script was different from the rest of the entries, but he wasn’t quite sure. Harry noted that the cost of this one was fifteen points, and to make it permanent (there wasn’t an inheritable option) would cost seventy-five points.

“Stheno, would you examine the reward Advise Me Truly and inform me if you consent to my taking that, permanently. If I am reading this correctly, it will allow you to freely advise any and all following players that select you as a guide without them having to pay for it.” She closed her eyes and concentrated. After a few minutes passed, she nodded her agreement.

Harry selected the permanent option, then Justitia’s voice was heard, “In order to apply this reward, the current avatar guide must state their acceptance of this reward, as it affects them jointly.”

Stheno appeared to struggle for a bit, as if she was fighting to give her answer, and finally screamed, “I agree!”

Justitia’s voice was heard, “Acceptance noted. Reward applied.” The book took on a silvery glow, that eventually faded, and Stheno stood there with a look of stunned amazement on her face.

“Why would you waste your points on granting me freedom? They are a precious resource you shouldn’t fritter away. Wait… Am I chastising you for giving me a boon? I apologize, Player. Thank you for granting freedom to my mind. I do not know how much is still trapped, but I appreciate the freedom you have given me so far.”

“You are welcome. All I ask is that you don’t use your newfound freedom to cause me or my future friends harm. I know I am only a lowly male mortal, but I do hope I am tolerable, or at least trainable into something tolerable.”

“You don’t really want me to train you into something I would like, do you?”

Harry thought for a moment. “Well, I could use more friends. You’d be my second, since Hedwig is my first. Other than that, perhaps you could help me become someone both you and I could respect.”

She looked at him shrewdly. “Understand that I have very little patience for, and quite a bit of antipathy towards males, and human males in particular. There may not be a way for you to become someone I respect without losing your masculinity. Additionally, what I would use to measure respect, and what you would measure it with are culturally driven, and we do not have the same culture.”

“I understand. It is my hope that if you can look past my gender, you can still help me to become someone respectable. As to the cultural standards, perhaps we will find some middle ground by working together.”

“If you will try to work with me, I will try to work with you.”

“Thank you, Stheno.”

Harry reviewed all the other choices again. Natural Occlumens looked beneficial in that it would help him organize what he experienced and learned, give him some protection form a legilimens, and make it much easier to learn actual occlumency. This tied in well with Total Recall, which would allow him to recall everything that occurred after taking the reward, and improve his recall of things from before taking the reward, where occlumency would help him sort those memories, and keep the most traumatic of them from overwhelming him. As he was pondering whether to just make them permanent or hereditary (which was hard to figure out as he was just eleven and had no useful understanding of the wizarding world to determine if any of them would be useful to his children), he wondered if any of his traits (aside from being a wizard) were hereditary.

“Stheno, will my P.I.S.C.I.S. tell me which of my current traits are hereditary? Like the Divine Royal Language?”

“Hrm. It should. How to find that information isn’t part of the tutorial, so let me do some investigating.” Harry used the next several minutes to read up on Pterolocution (which would allow him to talk to birds, including Hedwig!) and Gifted Kinesthetic (which would allow him to be able to learn and remember how to make exacting movements with his body with just observation and only two or three rote repetitions), Stheno finally answered. “Yes, there is a way. Again, you need to find the small blue dot in the description of each trait and tap it to expand on information regarding its permanence and inheritability.”

“Thank you, Stheno.” Harry went about finding which of his current abilities were inheritable. He had one called Natural Flyer, and Dark Defender, and two that were currently hindered, Rune Adept and Born Charmer, and as he dug into his traits further, he discovered there were several abilities that were dormant. He could activate those with some point expenditures if he was so inclined (like Intuitive Potioner, Blood Magus, Transcendental Transfiguration and Soothing Healer). Activating them would be much cheaper than buying them as hereditary from the rewards page. He found it strange that Parseltongue was listed as both dormant and active at the same time. He’d have to investigate that later.

Going back to the rewards page, he found out that A.R.M. in A.R.M.ed and Dangerous stood for Alternative Referencing Mode, and while it could be made permanent, it could not be made hereditary. The A.R.M. would allow him quickly learn to interpret what he could see with Mage Sight (which allowed him to see magical energies), as well as access the game book without it being open, and access any books he could tie to the A.R.M. magic. There were a few other abilities in the A.R.M. that he didn’t understand, but figured he would as he learned more about magic.

Multiple Familiars was straightforward and not inheritable, Green Thumbs looked useful for growing plants, but he really wasn’t interested in that at this time. Speed Read Enhancer would multiply his reading speed by a multiple of his base speed, which could be increased through practice. Harry noted that the reading multiples available were prime numbers. Alley Cat was dual focused and made him particularly interesting to cats, and made him rather randy and loosened his inhibitions. Animal Magnetism would make animals start with a friendly attitude towards him. Improvised Serenade didn’t seem very useful to him as he didn’t think he would be serenading anyone anytime soon. Pheromone Musk would make him sexually attractive to anyone interested in males (which as an eleven year old that was a rather daunting concept). Order Over Chaos just seemed like a self-applied Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There was another kid in his classes that Dudley and his gang would pick on because of his O.C.D. so that options was less than appealing. Dashing Demeanor was another one that would attract attention to himself, and being famous he figured he’d have enough of that on his own, and the same with Magnetic Personality. Resilient Mind would help him resist mind affecting magics like obliviation, and something called the Imperious Curse, as well as torture (he hoped he was never tortured). Fast Learner would help him quickly understand what he read and make connections to other information more easily. Natural Legilimens would give him some low level legilimency without learning the actual skill, and make learning the skill easier as well. Why he would need mind reading he couldn’t fathom, but suspected it might be quite useful.

Ultimately he bought Multiple Familiars (thrice and permanent for a total of four familiars), Speed Read Enhancer (permanent at times eleven speed), Total Recall (both levels, permanent), Gifted Kinesthetic (permanent), Fast Learner (hereditary), Natural Occlumens (hereditary), Natural Legilimens (permanent), Resilient Mind (hereditary), Pterolocution (hereditary), A.R.M.ed and Dangerous (permanent).

Then he noticed that he hadn’t reviewed International Man of Mystery. After reviewing it, it seemed to him that it would both attract attention to himself, yet deflect attention from himself.

“Stheno, would you help me understand the reward International Man of Mystery? It seems contradictory, and with my fame as the defeater of the Dark Lord, I’m not sure how it would benefit me.”

Stheno concentrated for a bit then responded, “This reward would make you attractive to some people because you would have an air of mystery and danger about you. That same air of mystery and danger would make others more inclined to avoid you. It would synergize well with your fame, and help deflect some of the attention it brings. Ultimately it will intensify some people’s natural attraction, and mute other people’s natural jealousy or envy. The real down side is that it would attract ‘femme fatales’. Women who are mysterious and/or dangerous and attracted to mysterious and/or dangerous men. I can see several benefits for you, but at your age and inexperience, I would normally advise against it. However, this one reward has a footnote that it will only be available once, and cannot be chosen later if it is bypassed at this time. Hmm. It will make it easier for you seduce older girls and women, but be mostly useless in attracting young females, and would most likely be detrimental to attracting females your age or younger. I would suggest you take it, and then be very wary of older females who approach you, and be very, very careful with any rejections to their advances. There is nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned, especially if she is a femme fatale.”

“Is there a reward that helps me reject while appearing to not reject advances?”

“There is, but it is not available from the general list of available rewards. And that general list is not available until you complete your first quest in the basic phase of the game. It appears to be only be available as a randomized reward for completing quests. For your reference, the reward is called ‘The Easy Pick-Up Let Down’. I highly recommend taking that one when it is available.”

“I have to think on that one. As long as I don’t indicate I am done selecting my starting rewards, I will still be able to select the International Man of Mystery correct?”

“Yes, but you have… twenty-two hours left to make your decisions and complete this portion of the tutorial. After that, this portion of the tutorial will close and you will have missed the opportunity.”

“Okay. Oh… I forgot to get Mage Sight.” Immediately after Harry applied Mage Sight (hereditary), his head exploded in excruciating pain, right behind his lightning shaped scar, causing him to pass out.

Chapter Text

Why Me?


Harry awoke to the feeling like a hamster made a nest in his mouth, like someone struck him in the forehead with spanner, like he slept while being tied into a pretzel, and like someone was trying to break his ear drum. The latter is what actually woke him, as it was his uncle who had him raised up off the floor by the shirt. The man was bristling at Harry with barely contained rage. “Wake up you ungrateful little freak! Just what have you done to my house?!”

As Harry tried to get his bearings his uncle shook him again, violently. He could hear his aunt being distraught over something being broken, but Harry was sure he hadn’t broken anything.

“I didn’t do anything to the house, Uncle Vernon.”

“Like ruddy hell you didn’t! Just look at your room!” Purple with rage and beady eyes nearly popping out of his head, and a vein throbbing on his forehead, Vernon turned Harry so he could look at his room. It looked like a whirlwind rampaged through his small room. Hedwig was perched on a ledge outside the window looking rather peeved and concerned at the same time.

“I don’t know what happened!”

“Don’t give me any of your lies, boy,” Vernon hissed menacingly at Harry. “This room isn’t the limit of what you’ve done.” Vernon set Harry down and drug him downstairs. Harry could already see that the upstairs hallway looked like something rampaged through the house. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, he could see everything in the sitting room upturned and broken. Looking towards the kitchen, everything appeared broken except for an ugly vase. “Got any feeble excuses for this? Thought you’d have a party while we were getting back? Imagined it might be fun to destroy all our belongings before you slipped off to that freak school?”

“I don’t know what happened! The house was in perfect order and I was quietly reading in my room. Then I had this horrendous pain in my head, and then you were shaking me awake. I really don’t know what happened.”

“You did this, you wretched freak, and you are going to fix it, and then you are getting the hell out of my house!”

At that moment, there was a polite knock at the door. Vernon glared murderously at Harry, shoved him back into the kitchen and quietly ordered, “Stay there, say nothing, and do not move!” Vernon then straightened himself up, took a deep breath, and put on his most congenial face to answer the door. He only opened enough of the door so that no one could see the destruction inside. “Hello, how do… you… BOY! Get over here and explain this!”

Harry bolted toward the front door not wanting to cause his uncle any further anger. After arriving at the door, he squinted against the bright light and saw a very stern looking witch with squarish glasses, black hair tied back in a severe bun, and emerald green robes and a pointed hat that was crooked to one side. Standing behind her was another woman with curly, prematurely gray hair, blue eyes, and dressed in a rather standard matron’s outfit… for 1940. The first witch had a questioning eyebrow raised. His mind was racing to figure out what was happening when it hit him. “Um… Uncle Vernon, what time is it?”

“What has that…?”

Vernon was interrupted by the stern witch who said, “It is precisely one o’clock in the afternoon.”

“Ahh… Uncle Vernon, this is Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, and… Madam Pomfrey, the matron from my new school. Yester… sorry, the day before yesterday I sent a request regarding how to relieve Dudley of his, er… new appendage. She responded yesterday that they would be here today.”

“May we come in?”

“You most certainly may not!” replied Vernon. Both witches were quite taken aback with that vehemence of the response.

Harry hurriedly said, “I apologize for having bothered you, Deputy Headmistress, Madam. I was hoping that you could help so my uncle and cousin wouldn’t have to suffer the pain and humiliation of undergoing any surgical procedures, and having people wonder where the appendage came from when Dudley didn’t have it during his last physical. I am very sorry.” Harry could almost hear the wheels turning around in his uncle’s head.

Vernon very stiffly said, “Ah, yes. Sorry for my outburst. We aren’t exactly prepared for visitors. Excuse the mess and please come in.” He then opened the door wide enough to allow the two women to enter the room. They both stepped across the threshold of the house into the wreckage within. While Madam Pomfrey gaped a bit, McGonagall had overheard some of Vernon’s threats before she had knocked and was better prepared.

“Thank you, Mr. Dursley. Would you please take Madam Pomfrey to your son so she may begin to sort him out? When she has finished, we can be on our way.”

“Er…Yes. This way, Madam. My son should be in the kitchen.”

After Madam Pomfrey was led to the kitchen, McGonagall looked at Harry like he was a naughty child. “Would you care to explain all of this?” And then she gestured to the destruction of the contents of the house.

Harry shuffled his feet a bit, and said, “I really don’t know what happened. I suspect it was a burst of what you called accidental magic, but I have never had anything like that happen on this scale before. It had to be yesterday, because after I received your response I was quietly reading in my room. After reading for a few hours I was overcome with so much pain, that I passed out. Uncle Vernon woke me up just a bit ago.”

“What kind of pain?”

“Burning, stabbing, itchy, sharp, throbbing, explosive pain. It was so sudden I can’t really describe it. It felt like my scar was trying to drill itself all the way through my head.”

“Your scar, you say?” She looked slightly alarmed.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“May I see your scar?”

“… Okay.” Harry lifted his bangs.

“Oh dear. That is quite inflamed and appears to have been bleeding. We’ll have to have Madam Pomfrey examine that for you. I agree it most likely was a burst of accidently magic. I am surprised the Ministry hasn’t been by to deal with this. I will need to speak with your uncle or aunt to get permission to correct things.”

“Oh… Thank you.”

McGonagall went into the kitchen and spoke with Uncle Vernon. She was quiet, he was not. “Yes… You can?... Then you may…” With that she went to every room in the house, and a couple of waves of her wand, everything was fixed itself and was put into its proper place. She then returned to speak further with Vernon, and didn’t appear to like his answers. “Really?... So what?... And?… So take him, and keep him. If you can, never bring him back!” Vernon glared at Harry with apparent glee, while McGonagall looked at Vernon like he was bird droppings stuck to the bottom of her shoe. She then returned to Harry. “Go collect your things. Make sure you are packed. I’ll be up in a bit to help you with them.”

Harry went up the steps carefully, as his head still hurt, and things were a bit too bright. The first thing he noticed was Hedwig was back in her cage. He started packing his things when Hedwig hooted at him, “Feeling better?”

Harry stared at Hedwig, then remembered. "Oh, right. Pterolocution. Yes, I suppose I am. How are you doing Hedwig?”

“Better now that things have been righted.”

He stroked her feathers. “That’s good. I need to get packed so I’ll have to close your cage for a bit.” She bobbed her head as he closed the cage.

Harry then packed everything that wasn’t nailed down into his trunk, aside from the bedding. He found the game book laying under his bed and put the book in his waistband. He then shoved everything he felt he wanted (not much) and all his school supplies into his chest. He was just locking his trunk when McGonagall came in.

“You’d best let your owl out. Owls don’t like side-along apparition nor do they care for floo travel. She can meet us at Hogwarts.”

Harry let Hedwig out and she flew out the window hooting, “See you soon!” Meanwhile, McGonagall had cast a feather light charm on the chest.

“Put the cage on top, Mr. Potter.” She then placed a sticking charm on the cage. “Right. Let us get your trunk down to the front door. Madam Pomfrey should be done about now.” With that, she grabbed one end and let Harry grab the other, and they took the chest downstairs. Madam Pomfrey and his uncle were waiting for him by the front door. Vernon looked gleeful. Petunia looked disapproving and Dudley looked scared while both watched from the kitchen.

Madam Pomfrey cast a quick diagnostic upon Harry, and said, “Knight Bus.”

Vernon held the door open, “Thank you for coming along to fix the boy’s messes. Please keep him for longer than you need. Forever would be best.”

McGonagall looked at him with a raised eyebrow and said quite coldly, “I will see what can be done, but be prepared for him to come home on holidays.” Madam Pomfrey took McGonagall’s end of the trunk and led Harry down to the curb. As the Deputy Headmistress crossed the threshold, she said over her shoulder, “And do not for one moment think that the neglect Mr. Potter has suffered has gone unnoticed, Mr. Dursley. Have a good day.” Madam Pomfrey raised her wand, and a garish triple decker bus arrived to a screeching halt from out of nowhere with a bang. The three magicals boarded the bus, after which it lurch forward into nowhere with a bang.

To the relief of the Dursleys, none of their neighbors seemed to have noticed.


Knight Bus Blues


Once aboard the Knight Bus, Harry was led to the upper tier of the bus by Stan Shunpike at the request of Madam Pomfrey. When Stan was told their destination was Hogsmeade, he relayed that it would take them three hours and fifteen minutes to arrive for disembarkation. Harry was directed to sit in a rather plush chair that seemed to swallow him whole, while the two older witches took more rigid high backed chairs. Once they were seated, Stan asked if they wanted any hot chocolate, which Pomfrey declined for all of them. Stan then disappeared below deck and soon the bus lurched off with the city scape rushing by outside the bus. Harry was both glad and disappointed he couldn’t see much outside the windows. Normally he would be delighted to look out the windows, but with his current somewhat queasy condition, he was glad he couldn’t, and he suspected that was why the matron had requested the top tier and put him in the chair she did. Not that the sliding around the floor as the bus lurched around was helping.

“Are you sure about this, Poppy?” McGonagall was looking mildly green.

“Absolutely, Minerva. Given that I would not have been allowed to run the necessary thorough diagnostic in that… domicile, we can’t risk side along apparition, portkey, or floo travel.”

“What about St. Mungos? It would be closer.”

“Really Minerva. Given his fame, you’d want to subject him to that circus?”

“Very well. I suppose this bus’s movements make performing your diagnostics rather difficult?”

“Quite.” Turning her attention to Harry, Pomfrey and casting a privacy charm, she requested, “Mr. Potter, please tell me everything you remember regarding this latest burst of accidental magic.”

“I got to the house a couple of days before my relatives. I wrote to Deputy…”

“Professor is fine.”

“… Professor McGonagall the next morning. A day later (yesterday) I got a response that the both of you would arrive today. I had been very careful during that time to not make any messes and clean up after myself during meals. Yesterday evening I was quietly reading in my room. Last I checked the time it was six thirty in the evening, and I must have read for another hour when I felt a pain so intense I must have passed out. I think I might have fell off the chair and onto the floor. Next thing I can remember is my uncle picking me up off the floor and yelling at me to wake up. I suspect they had just gotten home, and I think that he woke me up about ten to fifteen minutes before you arrived.”

“I see. Where exactly did this pain occur?”

“Behind my scar.” Harry lifted his wild bangs to fully display the scar.

“Has this happened before?”

After a few moments of thought, “Once that I can remember, but not nearly that bad. It occurred late in the day on my birthday before I got home. It lasted maybe a minute or so. It did cause my vision to blur slightly while it was occurring.”

“What and when was your last meal?”

“Er…. Around three o’clock. It was a peanut butter and jam sandwich and a glass of water.”

“And before that?”

“Um… About eight in the morning, a small bowl of cereal and a splash of milk, and a glass of water.”

“Why only that much?”

“I didn’t… I wasn’t all that hungry.” Both of the witches shared a look.

“Tell me about any other bouts of accidental magic that you can remember.”

Harry thought about that and looked far away. “I vaguely remember a moment when my parents were alive, and they seemed happy that I had caused a toy to appear in bed with me. I guess that was my crib. It was a large stuffed black dog. I might have broken one of Dudley’s toys while he was holding it, but my uncle brushed it off as Dudley not knowing his own strength. I think I was five. When I was eight, I think I caused my teachers hair to become blue when she was wrongly scolding me in class for cheating on my tests. When I was ten, my cousin and his friends were chasing after me, and I desperately wanted a place to hide. I was going to leap over a bin, but then found myself on the school roof. The groundskeeper found me and the faculty, and later my uncle were none-too happy when I explained that I had no idea how I got on the roof. The last one I can identify, was on my cousin’s eleventh birthday this summer. We were at the zoo, and I was ta… watching a python, when it stirred. My cousin punched me and pushed me out of the way and to the ground, and then the glass to the enclosure disappeared and the python escaped. I spent the next three days in the … my room for that one. I think there were some various things that had occurred that my relatives brushed off, such as dropping a vase, or spilling a drink, or a painting falling off the wall that might have been me. They seemed to happen at the same time I was upset.”

“Where you upset when your head hurt yesterday, or on your birthday?”

“No. The opposite of that really. I was quite happy.”

“Have you suffered any serious injuries in the past?”

“Nothing more than a sprained wrist or ankle, or some bruises, and those lasted a few hours at most.”

“Any illnesses?”

“No Ma’am.”

“Have you ever felt like your chest was constricted or that you were so full of energy you might burst?”

“No.”

“Have you ever seen things that weren’t really there?”

“Not that I can recall.”

“Do you have any friends?”

“Uh… No,” answered Harry uncomfortably.

“None?”

“Not one, Ma’am.” Harry was shrinking into himself at that point.

“Alright, just sit back and try to relax. We’ve got some time before we arrive at our destination.”

“Okay.” Harry squirmed into the oversized chair to get comfortable, as the two witches whispered to each other softly enough that Harry couldn’t over hear. For some strange reason the chairs maintained the exact same distance from each other as they slid around the bus. Occasionally, Harry could hear the driver cackle, when the bus took off after stopping, or when the bus made a particularly violent maneuver. So, he closed his eyes and tried to gather his thoughts. “The pain in my head started when I accepted the trait of mage sight. However I haven’t seen anything unusual despite the magic I’ve witnessed today. And that A.R.M. thing doesn’t appear to be working either… not that I saw it do anything before I passed out. I wonder if I have to activate them to make them work. Maybe the game is broken?” he said so quietly even he didn’t really hear it. Harry didn’t want to drag out the book in front of the witches, but thought maybe he needed to use the bookmark to activate things. The A.R.M. was supposed to allow him to access the book without having the book open. Harry slipped an arm behind him and fumbled about until he felt the book mark and grasped it appropriately and whispered very quietly, “Activate Alternate Referencing Mode.”

There was a slight pressure on his temples, and then a translucent overlay appeared in his vision, with Steno off to the side. He heard in his mind, ‘Wonderful, you appear to be doing well. After that impressive burst of magic you had, I was worried you might have done yourself irreparable harm. I notice you are in the company of two witches. You don’t have to speak out loud. Just direct your thoughts to me in order to speak with me.’

‘Thanks, Stheno. Do you know what happened to me?’

‘Not in specifics, only in general. I believe you were overwhelmed by the magic you were initially witnessing, though what magic that was, I am unsure. It might have been the magic of the book, but that is unlikely. There might have been some powerful magic in or around your domicile, but that seems unlikely since your relatives are mundane mortals. There is however some interference from a foreign source that might be to blame. It is probably the same source that is repressing some of your native abilities. And no, I do not know what that source specifically is, though it does appear to be within you.’

‘Could it be from my scar? The one that was made when a dark wizard tried to kill me as a baby?’

‘Probably. Or it might be from whatever magics were used to protect you from that attack. Or both.’

‘Do I need to do something to activate my mage sight?’

‘No. However, it is currently suppressed by the same source we previously discussed.’

‘Okay. Can we continue the tutorial?’

‘Yes. You have just under four hours left to make your final decisions about your remaining starting rewards.’

‘Are there any rewards you’d recommend?’

‘Given your desire to avoid undue attention, and your current aversion to gardening, the only one left is International Man of Mystery. While I think it would be a good fit as you get older, in the near future it could be problematic. Unfortunately right now is the only chance you will get to take it.’

‘Would you repeat what you feel are the problems with taking that reward, please?’

‘Certainly. With mortals your age, being seen as dangerous will deter many from approaching you, making it more difficult to acquire friends. The mysterious nature of the reward will make it hard for others to latch onto topics that would interest you until they get to know you. Some mortals are attracted to mystery and danger, and when you stop being mysterious to them, or dangerous, they may lose interest in you. Those mortals predisposed to disliking you, may well come to fear and hate you. And with older mortals, especially the femme fatales we spoke of, they will be sexually attracted to you despite your young age. And there is no telling how a mortal that is divinely touched will react.’

‘The divinely touched?’

‘Yes. In the modern English vernacular you would call them ‘insane’.’

‘That seems like a lot of downsides. What are the upsides to this reward?’

‘For the immediate future, you will minimize undue attention of others due to your fame. You won’t be able to avoid it, though. People may still whisper to each other about you, but in many cases it will be because of you air of mystery, rather than your fame. Mortals will not always recognize you, even if they know you, unless they know you really well. Strangers may even forget a passing interaction was with you. When you get older, you will have an advantage in seducing women, as the perceived danger and mystery can be arousing to them. Your dangerous appearance will make any attempts at threats or intimidation more impressive and believable, even if the threat is an idle one or just implied. The air of mystery about you will make it easier for you retreat from public attention and aid you with blending into a crowd. Though if your appearance is too noteworthy, blending in will be difficult. And the air of mystery will cloud mortal perceptions as to the nature of your relationships with members of your harem as well as others.’

‘Hrm. That does make it a difficult decision.’ Harry mulled it over for about an hour, while watching the witch’s converse. He finally decided to take to accept the reward and make it permanent. ‘What is the next phase of the tutorial?’

‘That was the last step to the tutorial. The basic phase has begun and you have thirty days to accept you first quest.’

‘How quickly do I need to establish a harem?’

‘There is no set time limit. It is possible to play the game for years without adding a single person to your harem. You can’t retire from the game, though, until you met the retirement requirements. ‘

‘I recall that I have to complete the standard phase of the game. How long is basic phase and when does it end?’

‘The basic phase will last a minimum of three years. It ends when you have acquired a single member of your harem who has reached the devoted stage.’

‘Since I have to play for a minimum of seven years, does that mean the minimum time for the standard phase if four years?’

‘Correct. However, you have to play for seven years past reaching the age of majority. The earliest you could retire from the game is when you are twenty-four years old. Would you like to review your available quests?’

‘Might as well.’ Stheno stepped Harry through how to use his A.R.M. to bring up the information, but seemed confused at times. ‘Is there something troubling you, Stheno?’

‘Yes. I don’t think the A.R.M. was ever used prior to the start of your game. I don’t think any player ever had the choice available. And it appears that the rules are written differently from other rewards in how it is actually used. It almost feels like a different author.’

‘That is strange. The game appears to be self-updating, as we saw with Justitia. Perhaps it is something newly created by the book after so many players have been involved?’

‘Perhaps…’ Stheno appeared to be very suspicious.

Harry then noticed that he had three scroll-notes available at the bottom of his vision.

            Note to self: If I am reading this, then the A.R.M. is working and the tutorial phase has ended.
            Reminder: When the school library is available, look up methods for claiming ownership of books. That should automatically link my books to my A.R.M. so they can be read at any time. After that, I need to look up ways of using the school wards, or some sort of spell matrix to link the publicly available library books into the A.R.M. That will make research in the library much smoother. A linking book is also a possibility, but may not be feasible for a few years. ~HJP

            Note to Self: When selecting quests, I need to look for ones that reward improvements to the ability to learn rather than static improvements to an actual skill or knowledge. It is better to learn it for myself as that increases my understanding of the subject, where adding improvements to the skill or knowledge do not. Take the best path, not the easy one. ~HJP

            Note to Self: When selecting rewards also look for rewards that increase libido, but reduce lust and lust gain or add control of lust. The game is designed to make carnal lust a driving factor in the player’s decision making abilities. To combat that, select rewards appropriately. There are hidden static rewards that will ramp up lust gain over time to make lust overwhelm and impair the player’s decision making abilities. The A.R.M. should display the hidden rewards if it is working properly. ~HJP

‘Oh, fantastic. The game is actually working against the players and trying to force them to make bad decisions? Why did I ever accept becoming a player? Why does the first note imply that I actually made the A.R.M.?’ Never one to cry in the face of adversity, Harry soldiered on to the actual quests.

            Chosen Quests: None
            Available Quests: Five
            - Introduce yourself to a female your age (Expires in 14 days, 1 day to complete)
            - Masturbate (Expires in 14 days, 1 day to complete)
            - Kiss a girl (Expires in 14 days, 60 days to complete)
            - Compliment someone (Expires in 14 days, 1 hour to complete)
            - Find out a female’s birthday (Expires in 14 days, 1 day to complete)

The various rewards were rather minimal, though the masturbation and kissing quests added both a hidden libido and a hidden lust in addition to the I.P. rewards.

‘I think the fourth one will be easiest to complete, and the second one is doable if I get any privacy, though a bit weird. The third one just is not happening any time soon, and I don’t know when I will next see a girl my age for the first. The fifth one seems kind of personal, and I don’t think I know anyone well enough to complete that in one day. I think I will just look for opportunities for the first and fourth, and maybe the fifth, and select the quest then.’

‘That seems to be reasonably thought out.’

‘Thank you, Steno.’

After about half an hour of contemplative silence from Harry, he asked Steno, ‘How old is the game book? It can’t have been written in English, if it’s had one thousand players, especially if the minimum playtime is seven years. That’s at least seven thousand years old.’

‘True. Many players did not live long enough to play seven years. While others lived considerably longer than seven years before retiring. I think that the book is probably around fourteen thousand years old.’

‘Doesn’t that predate the Egyptian pyramids?’

‘No. Why would you think…? Oh, of course. Mundane archaeology and science. When mundane science runs across magical ruins and artifacts, they try to ‘date it’ which works poorly for magically created or maintained items. For the last two thousand years, since the demise of the upstart monotheist’s son, the mundane have been obsessive with recording the passage of time and has been mostly accurate. For anything before that, they try to reconcile everything to their new calendar and record keeping.

‘Each major civilization had their own way of reckoning the passage of time. Most were not nearly as obsessed with counting the number of yearly observances that have occurred since an event occurred. Civilization in Lemuria rose around sixty thousand years ago, shortly after my birth, then fell when the continent was sunk by angry deities around forty thousand years ago. Atlantis rose to power around forty-five thousand years ago, and fell when the continent was sunk around twenty thousand years ago, and it was sunk due to the hubris of mortals rather than angry deities. Both were magical kingdoms of considerable power. Another magical kingdom you have probably heard about would be Avalon which according to myth faded into the mists. That kingdom may actually still exist, but I think the last time anyone actually had contact with that kingdom would have been around the fall of the kingdom of Camelot. Probably close to two thousand years ago according the information I can gather from the records of other players. Avalon just sealed their doors with a message along the lines of ‘We’ll be available when you decide to grow up.’

‘As for the Kingdom of the Pharaoh’s, They have built many, many pyramids more than have been found, and many of their oldest cities have been lost to the sands of the Sahara. Some of those cities have magical protections so strong that when the last inhabitant died, no one could find the city anymore. And the Egyptians were predated to the south by the Kingdom of Kush. Of which I think modern mortals have only seen the ruins of two cities. Then you have your ‘new world’ kingdoms which have jungles swallowing them rather than deserts or oceans. I have had no direct contact with them, and only have third or fourth hand rumors at best regarding them. And for some reason, mortals feel compelled to build new cities on top of old ones, so in some cases you can find cities built on the ruins of previous cities which were built on the ruins of previous cities which were built upon the ruins of previous cities. Cairo, Athens and Rome are examples of that.’

‘Oh. So what happened to all the different gods?’

‘That is a good question. I am unsure what happened to them specifically as whatever it was, happened after I was placed inside this hell-begotten prison.’

‘Do you know in what order you and the other goddesses were captured?’

‘I do not know. I do not know how much time passed from my last memory outside of this book to my first memory within this book.’

‘Do you think there are other books like this one out there?’

‘I cannot say there aren’t any with certainty. I do not believe any more exist, or were even made. Just because I have not seen any evidence of another book doesn’t mean one or more does not exist.’

‘Do you know what became of your sister Euryale?’

‘No. As an immortal, she could not be killed. However, she could be imprisoned, as I have been imprisoned, or the other titans have been imprisoned. I have been watching the play of the game and the records of other players hoping to find some hint as to her whereabouts. Or what may have happened to Athena, or other immortals with whom I was on good terms.’

‘Was Athena a goddess to the Roman’s as well as the Greeks? I remember reading that the Romans had different names for the same gods and shared the same mythology.’

‘Yes, she was. The Romans called her Minerva. Many gods and goddesses had different names in different languages and cultures. It had to do with what the name meant in that language and culture. While the gorgons were not widely incorporated into other cultures and religions, some of the gods and goddesses were. Take the Furies. They were well known all the way to the northern reaches of the world. Take Aphrodite. She is well known by different names throughout the countries and cultures of the Mediterranean Sea. There were always struggles for influence among the different pantheons. Gaia however forbade direct wars between the deities of different pantheons. Our followers were a different story. And why she did not forbid conflict between deities of the same pantheon, I do not know.’

‘Did you have mortal followers?’

‘Yes, my sisters and I did have mortal followers. Many different snake cults around Europe, and Africa are derived from our followers. Others are derived from the snake deities of other cultures. Such as the fakirs of India and their snake charming. Several of them are also speakers of the Divine Royal Language.’

‘Perhaps one of those cults would have information about your sister?’

‘They might, but it would take a long time to find those cults and gain enough trust to get the information.’

‘What can you tell me about magic?’

‘Quite a bit. There are many different styles of magic, many of which have been forgotten or suppressed. Take the goblins for instance. They are currently suppressed by the many treaties that have been made with humans. Most humans treat the goblins as an inferior race. Actually, most humans in the last couple of millennia treat every other race as inferior. Attitudes probably tied to that upstart monotheist deity who encouraged his followers to see any followers of another deity as inferior beings, but they would hardly be the first group of humans to have that attitude. Remember to always treat others with respect, regardless of species, or gender. Do that, and you will be a step towards someone I can respect. I digress.

‘In recent history, magical mortals have tied their magic to wands in order to derive more power. It has the added benefit of making the magic easier to learn because certain rules must be followed to get that extra power from a wand. This has the consequence of limiting the creativity and versatility they can apply to magic. It takes more effort and dedication to learn to cast magic and gain significant power without a tool, be it a wand, staff, talisman, fetish, runes, crystal balls or other types of focus. Additionally, language is used as a focus, which is more versatile than a physical tool, and limited by the availability of words to describe your intent. It is also limiting in that it provides your opponents with clues as to what you are doing. For this reason, some wizards and witches learn to speak other languages in order to gain further versatility and confuse their enemies. Which is easier than learning to cast without words. Learning additional languages is also useful in being able to understand what these cagey wizards and witches are trying to do to you.’

‘Use the best path, not the easy one. Choose rewards that improve ability to learn, not grant the knowledge or skills outright. That is what my scroll-notes said,’ Harry mused. ‘Stheno, would you be able to teach me how to use magic without a focus?’

‘The rules of the game forbid… Hrm. Just a moment… Normally, the rules of the game would forbid me from doing so, as it has forbidden every other guide from assisting players. However, because of the trait Advise Me Truly and that fact that I seem to be under somewhat less strictures, that does not seem to apply to me. While I will most likely be inhibited in directly instructing you, I can give you some theory, describe some methods for practice and point you in the direction of what you need to learn.

‘The first thing you should learn is meditation. This will allow you to calm your mind and your emotions, which will allow you to better understand yourself and your magic. This is very important to learning how to use magic without tools. You have to learn how magic flows within your body before you can direct it outwards. The wand or staff of modern European preference force the magic to flow in a prescribed way. That is why your better wand makers always insist that the ‘wand chooses the wizard’. If you don’t have a conduit that matches the nature of your magic, you will have to fight to get the magic to flow outwards.

‘Since we have another hour or so before you arrive at your destination, I will guide you through a meditation.’

‘Okay. What do I need to do?’

‘To start with, this chair is not the best suited for meditation, so adjustments to your posture are in order. First, press your hips as far back against the chair as you can, then pull your legs up into the seat and cross them in a seated position with your feet under the opposite knee. Second straighten your spine as much as possible, and finally let your hands rest in your lap. This position will allow you to practice your breathing. Breath is very important to life, magic, and meditation. Slowly breath in, letting your belly expand to draw in more air, that’s it… and now hold your breath for a count of three, one… two… three… and slowly exhale, drawing your belly button to the back of your spine, trying to expel all the air from your lungs. Then draw in another slow breath, and do not worry if your mind wanders, if it does, gently bring it back to focus on your breathing...’ Stheno continued to talk Harry through the breathing exercises.

Poppy and Minerva noticed his change in posture, and while thinking it slightly odd for an eleven year old British boy, both had seen enough of the world and have seen a wide variety of students to have seen such things before.


A Bed with My Name on It


Before Harry knew it, the bus came banging to a halt and the destination of Hogsmeade was announced. Harry struggled to pull himself out of the chair that had tried to swallow him, and made sure to get his luggage off the bus with Stan’s help. Once the passengers and luggage were off the bus, the bus disappeared with a bang.

“Well now that we’ve come our destination, we should get Mr. Potter settled in the hospital wing.”

“Of course, Minerva. I’ll just have to put him in the Potter bed. He’s worse than his father. School hasn’t even started and he’s already under my care.” Madam Pomfrey joked.

“My father spend a lot of time in the hospital wing?”

“Oh, yes. Between playing quidditch, playing pranks, getting in fights, and other ‘adventures’, he and his friends were in my care quite often. Four to eight times a year, I think. James’ earliest visit to my ward was in his fourth year. He hadn’t even gotten through the first year’s sorting when someone hexed him and he needed to be put right. Along with another tenth of Gryffindor and Slytherin houses’ students.”

“Detentions were rather full and very onerous that year, Mr. Potter. Do not try to emulate or exceed that particular event,” stated McGonagall. “Leave your luggage here. It will be taken care of and brought to the castle.”

Harry set down the end of the trunk he had just picked up and wondered who was going to take it up to the castle…. “Castle! The school is in an actual castle! I didn’t know that.”

He was suddenly very excited to get there, but walked between the witches as they indicated he should. The two women chatted over his head about school supplies and when teachers were returning from leave, and other matters related to running the school. When they arrived at the gates, Harry got his first view of the castle, and it was magnificent. It did seem to be quite a bit of a walk, but that was alright. It gave him more time to soak in the scenery. The interior of the castle was just as impressive, though it gave Harry a sense that it might be bigger on the inside than it was on the outside, but he was not sure about that.

The two witches guided him past suits of armor, moving paintings, some of the occupants of which appeared to be rather interested in him, and a ghost, who looked like he was once a professor, that floated through the wall on one side of the corridor and into the wall on the other side. Once they arrived at the hospital wing, Professor McGonagall went on to her office, requesting that Madam Pomfrey keep her updated on what she found out, while she tried to sort out Harry’s housing until the start of year.

The matron indicated a bed that Harry should use. The bed was located in a windowed rounded portion or the ward. The bed had a side table on one side and a painting directly across from it that was currently missing an occupant, though the little brass plaque on the frame read ‘Dilys Derwent, Headmistress 1741-1768’. On the headboard of the bed was a small plaque that read ‘Reserved for Mr. Potter’. He guessed that she was going to milk that joke for all it was worth. He got on the indicated bed, and the matron went over to her desk, and brought a clipboard and a quill back over to the bed. “Right. Now Mr. Potter, if you would take off your glasses and put them on the side table we can get started. Just lay down and relax while I perform some diagnostic spells.”

Harry watched, though his vision was quite blurred, as the matron cast spells, and the clipboard hovered nearby while the quill apparently recorded the results of its own accord. Using his A.R.M., he had determined that this went on for two hours. From what he could see of her expression, she wasn’t happy with the results, and spend time recasting spells to verify the data. She went off out of sight to the other end of the room and was saying something he couldn’t quite understand at that distance. Then the matron returned with three vials of different colored liquids. “Mr. Potter, you have been severely neglected. You are quite small for you age as a result. I need you to drink these potions. These are all nutrient replenishment potions used for different deficiencies. Drink them all, red first, purple second, green third. I need to talk the Professor McGonagall regarding some of your other symptoms before I proceed. I think we might need to bring in a specialist.”

Pomfrey went over to the blank picture on the wall and called out, “Dilys, can you hear me? I need to your assistance, please!” After another couple of such calls, the occupant of the picture returned.

“Yes, Poppy?”

“Two things, please have someone tell Minerva I need to see her at her earliest convenience. Then I need to know if anyone at St. Mungo’s knows anything about this…” and she indicated a place on her clipboard, then pointed at a second place. “Or this.”

“Hrm. Really? That is interesting. And that is quite rare. I suggest you also apply Entwhistle’s Discernment charm, and the Cappadocian Crucible Test to verify those results. I don’t think St. Mungo’s will have a healer that can deal with either of those issues. You may have to call in an expert from the Americas, or the Far East. I fear you need specialties requiring areas of magic that have been banned in Britain for nearly two centuries. Either that, or you’ll have to find a non-human magic user to assist. And frankly, the way the ministry treats them, you’ll have better luck finding a four leaf clover without the use of magic. Though given who the patient is, you might find some are very eager to ‘help’, and they might not have his best interests in mind. Of course, that might be true of the human healers, too, depending upon whom they supported during the last war. I’ll slip into Reginald’s frame and let Minerva know before I double check with St. Mungo’s.”

The witch in the painting left the frame and Madam Pomfrey continued to make some notes while Harry drank his potions. None of them tasted particularly good, nor did they taste particularly bad. When he was finished Madam Pomfrey collected the vials, cast the spells suggested by Dilys, and then went back out of sight. So, Harry used his A.R.M. to talk with Stheno and learn more about meditation. She said he didn’t need to sit up to meditate, but if he was lying down, he was more likely to fall asleep. Harry thought about that, then decided to sit up on the bed and practice meditation with Stheno’s guidance.

An hour later, Professor McGonagall arrived. She looked over at Harry, and arched and eyebrow when she saw he was sitting in the lotus position on his bed. She then turned to Madam Pomfrey. Their discussion was quiet, but not so quiet that Harry could not hear (as he used a few of his I.P.s to increase the sensitivity of his senses during the last hour).

“Hello, Poppy. How is Mr. Potter?”

“Being the opposite of his father, actually. I haven’t had to chivy him back into the bed once. I’ve given him some nutrient restoratives to combat the worst of his neglect and malnutrition. However, until we get a couple of more dire issues sorted out, I cannot do anything more for him. And we need the Chief Warlock’s permission to pursue any type of legal action for child endangerment by his relatives since they are muggles.”

“Lovely. And Albus is attending meetings of the I.C.W. in Italy and won’t be available for the next three weeks as it is a closeted session.”

“I’ve recorded the issues, and would like to have an independent examiner from the D.M.L.E. verify the diagnosis and place it on file should Albus choose to prosecute.”

“It will have to be under a top level secrecy order then. I’ll contact Madam Bones in person to get that underway as soon as possible. What’s next?”

“We will need to bring in a specialist or two to take care of the items preventing me from applying more curatives. The first is that he has some sort of drain on his magic. I’m not able to identify the source of it, which may or may not be related to the second item. There are some positive responses to blood magic involved in the drain, which makes me uncertain. The second item is there appears to be something trying to possess him, and it has tied itself to his magic and life force to prevent itself from dissipating. Dilys has indicated we need healing expertise in blood magic, and in soul magic, as well as the dark arts. Since the first two are banned by the ministry, we don’t have any healers at St. Mungo’s or any other local clinics who have the necessary knowledge and skills. My research so far has yielded one name that is completely neutral in regards to the last wizarding war. Hester Frump. And I don’t know if the witch is still alive or practicing. All I’ve determined is that she is was last seen in America, and has been banned from practicing in any country that is a member of the I.C.W. All we can really hope for is that she has had an apprentice who is not banned. And we need the magical guardian’s permission to bring in a specialist, which also happens to be Albus.”

“Actually, we won’t need that permission. Medical care of students falls strictly within your purview. Notifying the magical guardian is a courtesy. Since Mr. Potter is a confirmed student, despite the term not having begun, he falls under your care. Again, we will need a secrecy vow from the specialist. If we can convince them to take it, we can definitely bring them in as soon as possible.”

The painting witch returned to the portrait frame and whispered, “Poppy, are you there?” Pomfrey and McGonagall moved over to the frame for a whispered conversation.

“What did you find out, Dilys?” asked Poppy.

“Well, I am sorry to say I was right. There are no Healers on register that have the necessary expertise to deal with this. It is possible that there is a Durmstrung graduate in Europe that might have the necessary skills, but I wouldn’t trust any of their students with the well-being of this patient given which side most of them chose in the last two wars. Have you found anything on your end for a specialist?”

“Only one name that is decidedly neutral. Hester Frump. Who has been banned from practice in every European country who is a member of the I.C.W.”

“Oh dear. Frump… Frump… There were several witches from that family in France that were superb potions mistresses. Quite odd though, each and every one of them. Seemed they all swore it was best to use whole cats in their potions. Sometimes alive. I think the family left France for America in the 1940’s.”

“I wonder why she got banned,” Minerva drolly observed.

“There is something that is on the tip of my tongue regarding that line. Arthur… no, Abercrombie… no, maybe it was Anduril? No… Addams! That was it, Addams. A cadet branch of that family fled from Britain to their ancestral home in Spain in 1728 I think, amidst a scandal regarding their flaunting of the statute of secrecy. And if I heard correctly, they had to flee to America in 1936, because of some scandal involving, bribery, sex, murder and necromancy during the opening days of the Spanish Civil War. Well, on to my point, I seem to recall a wedding announcement reported by one of the students with French relatives during the mid-nineteen sixties, something about a scandalous elopement of an Addams and a Frump. So you may need to look for an Addams family in America. And be warned. They are not at all what any witch or wizard would consider ‘normal’, and neither would the muggles.”

“Oh dear,” responded both of the living witches.

Chapter Text

An Addams Darkens the Doorway


McGonagall had been true to her word. She had Amelia Bones, Head of the D.M.L.E., there later on Saturday with a specialist from St. Mungo’s under a secrecy oath to verify the allegations of neglect, possible abuse, and endangerment of a magical child by muggle guardians aware of magic. Madam Bones did reiterate Professor McGonagall’s assertion that the Chief Warlock would need to approve the prosecution. Which she found distasteful, as the only way the D.M.L.E. could prosecute muggles, even through muggle channels, was with the Chief Warlock’s approval. The independent examiner agreed with Madam Pomfrey’s assessment and filed his official findings with Madam Bones, though his tests were only looking for abuse and neglect so they did not include the issues needing a specialist.

Madam Pomfrey also had to admonish Harry to eat all the food given to him, as it was necessary since she couldn’t start a full potions regimen, and even then, he’d need to eat all the food given to him in order for the potions she could give him to have full effect. Harry simply was not used to having that much food available for him to eat.

Hedwig had arrived Sunday morning with a muggle newspaper, the Sunday Times, for Harry. The rest of the day Harry spent his time reading his schoolbooks, reading the newspaper, meditating, and conversing with Hedwig who was delighted that her human was intelligent enough that he could talk with her. Professor McGonagall was looking after Harry on Sunday as Madam Pomfrey left for the States to talk to the specialist.

Late Monday morning had a time-lagged Poppy Pomfrey talking to Minerva McGonagall in the hospital wing again. “Thank you, Minerva, for looking after Mr. Potter while I was across the pond. Surprisingly, Frump’s daughter agreed readily. She said something about the signs and portents indicated she would be needed. She took the secrecy oath immediately and without hesitation before she even knew who the patient was. Once I gave her the results of the tests, she said she’d need to collect a few more things before coming here, otherwise she’d have come back with me. She’s due to arrive around one o’clock. I offered to stay and travel back with her by portkey, but she said she’d make her own travel arrangements. And Dilys was right. They are not ‘normal’. She offered me some of her tea. Which was laced with hemlock. They had a lion named ‘Kitty’ as a pet. And they kept an African Strangler out in the open. I think it caught their muggle mailman while I was there. And their butler seemed more… golem or inferi than human.”

“They get muggle mail? Never mind. Of course they do. Anything else I should be worried about?”

“Well, she seemed to understand the need to fix what was draining his magic, but she couldn’t seem to understand why someone would want to get rid of something trying to possess them. Despite that, she said she would take care of it. She did also mention we might want to put up silencing wards around the hospital wing, in case her own charms failed, if we didn’t want the rest of the castle to hear his ‘enchanting screams of agony’. What she would be doing would be ‘exquisitely and delightfully painful’, and any analgesics would interfere with the procedures. Additionally, he can’t have anything else to eat today, other than his nutrient potions, and aconite and arsenic tea, if he wants some.” Her face registered her distaste for poisoning her patient.

Minerva groaned. “You’d better tell Mr. Potter so he can steel himself for the upcoming procedure.”

“I’ll tell him when I give him his nutrient potions.”

“I’ll bring Madam Addams up when she arrives at the gates then.” With that Professor McGonagall went about her business for the day.

After gathering the nutrient potions and bringing them to Harry, she said, “Mr. Potter, we have a specialist arriving, a Madam Addams, later today to take a look at your more serious conditions. She has led us to believe that you will make a complete recovery, and then we can continue addressing your issues caused by malnourishment and neglect. The bad news, I’m afraid, is Madam Addams says the procedures will be exceedingly painful, and you will not be permitted any form of pain relief. And you can’t have anything to eat before the procedures either.”

Harry considered it and said, “That should be okay then. It’s not like she is doing it without good reason. I’ll do my best to bear with it, even if I end up screaming like a girl.” He smiled disarmingly as he said that. After a moment to accept the quest ‘to compliment a female’ through his A.R.M., he then continued, “Madam Pomfrey, you are a diligent matron and a very caring woman and I appreciate that. You are the one of the few adults who has ever cared for me, as me, if at all. I suspect, given my supposed fame, that it will be a rarity in my future.” She blushed almost imperceptibly at his praise, and he then heard a gonging sound as he completed his quest. While the compliment was sincere, he felt somewhat hypocritical for using it to complete a quest.

“Mr. Potter, I am sure you find that other teachers here will treat you the same as I have, though for a few, they will probably need to get past the initial shock of having you here. I, at least, had a full twenty-four hours to get over it.”

“I hope so, too. All the same, I really do appreciate it.”

Madam Pomfrey handed him his nutrient potions then went bustling about the ward checking her inventory and making of list of potions she’d need replenished for the beginning of school. Harry decided to do some research into the list of generally available rewards now that he had completed his first quest. He was currently learning how to filter the list of rewards into different categories, rather than name (as many of the names were misleading), when he thought of some questions to ask Stheno.

‘Stheno?’

‘Yes, royal mortal?’

‘Do you know anything about the Addams family?’

‘A fair amount, actually. Three players have been from the Addams clan. However, none of that information is overly recent. The last Addams player died in 1717 of your current reckoning. They have a very large family actually, spread over all seven continents, but the primary branch is the Addams family, based in Castile, Spain. Or was, if the painting on the opposite wall has the correct information. I believe the Frump family was related to the Addams family, distant cousins, before the elopement that was mentioned.

‘Their family magic is, for lack of a better phrase, bent. They are and aren’t inbred. They are, in that they have no issues with brother and sister marrying, or uncle and niece. They aren’t in that they don’t seem to have an anti-mundane attitude nor do they have any pure-blood mania that afflicts you mortals from time to time. They do have several very old practices, possibly dating back to the times of Atlantis, or maybe even Lemuria (though those practices are neither Atlantean nor Lemurian). Those practices have defined their family magic. It is this ‘bent’ nature of their magic that makes them so very adept at what modern magicals call the dark arts, and is probably responsible for their oddness. It also affects their physiology making them extremely difficult to kill through mundane means, and several magical ones. Hence, as you overheard, why they like to put poisons in their teas. They have a proclivity for martial prowess as well as magical prowess. They let their family members pursue their own interests with no pressure to follow in anyone’s footsteps, though they are delighted when someone chooses to do so.’

‘Is it possible to build up an immunity to poisons?’

‘Yes, but time consuming, and it can have some degenerative side-effects in mortals. And you should only attempt to develop the immunity to one poison at time. Or you could find or create a ritual to create that immunity. A ritual may have a greater chance for side-effects. And no, I do not know of any existing ritual for granting immunity.’

‘What’s the easiest poison for developing immunity?’

‘If you are talking about chemical gases or inert poisons, I don’t have a lot of expertise there. Generally venoms are the easiest for building an immunity. Plant and mineral based poisons can be rather tricky, as in some cases the lethal dose is so small that you can’t use a tiny dose to start building an immunity. If you are worried about being poisoned, start carrying some antidotes and a bezoar, and learn how to cast poison detecting spells.’

‘I’m not worried, just curious. What’s the deadliest venom?’

‘Hera’s son Typhon, gifted to her by Gaia, has the deadliest venom. Followed by an empress basilisk. Followed by my half-sister, Echidna, followed by mine and my sisters’.’ She indicated her fangs and her viperous hair. ‘Then I think there is some variety of jellyfish (box, I think). Then my niece (Echidna’s child), Chimera, followed by the manticore, followed by a basilisk, followed by a king cobra, after which comes the marble cone snail, then a blue ring octopus, and to round it out, a death stalker scorpion. Those would be the top thirteen, though it is nigh impossible to find those associated with my family.’

‘Wow. What’s the difference between an empress basilisk and a basilisk? And what is a basilisk?’

‘A basilisk is a magical snake that has the ability to kill anyone who looks into its eyes except for other snakes, those who speak the divine royal tongue, those who have a familiar bond with one, or birds. Indirectly looking a basilisk in the eye will result in petrification. The basilisk can control this ability, though you wouldn't want to startle one. The difference between the two is that the empress basilisk is always female, and have a golden crown like marking upon their heads. They live for very long periods of time and can grow to an enormous size. The other basilisks rarely grow to a size larger than two pēchys… about three feet in modern measurement. Male basilisks have a scarlet comb upon their heads like that of a cockerel. Females have a heavily keeled scarlet scale between their nostrils, giving them the appearance of having a red horn. The basilisk is generally non-confrontational, avoiding larger animals when possible. The empress basilisk is very territorial and can be found in very remote tropical climes.

‘There are many tales about how to create a basilisk. All the methods I have heard of are corruptions of the process used to make a cockatrice. I have heard of a Greek wizard, through reading other player information, by the name of Herpo the Foul, who supposedly created a basilisk through alchemical means. This and other artificial basilisks find the cry of a cock to be fatal. For a true basilisk, the cry of a cock is painful, not fatal. These artificial basilisks have a red comb, and a size similar to an empress basilisk, but due to their artificial nature cannot breed.

‘True basilisks are able to mate with any other snakes. In the case of an empress basilisk, they are viviparous, and to my knowledge never have more than three children in their lifespans, which can be hundreds of years apart. In the case of basilisks, they are quite prolific in breeding with other snakes, but only one or two eggs out of twenty clutches they sire will be a basilisk, even when breeding with another basilisk. The resulting non-basilisks are usually a pit viper of some variety. Basilisks have a life span of fifty years or so, and eggs that will produce a basilisk have red spotting to the shells.

‘One additional fact is that true basilisks can become familiars. Artificial ones cannot. Also from reading other player information, it appears that true basilisks may be extremely rare as the only basilisk more recent wizards are aware of (the last seven hundred players or so) are the artificial kind.’

‘Why are those who can speak to snakes immune to their death glare?’

‘Death glare? I suppose that is as good a name as any for that ability. It may be instinctual on the part of the basilisk, and therefore it does not use the ability. There may be a magical quality to those who speak the divine royal tongue that make them immune to the effect. I don’t think anyone’s actually bothered to find out why. Maybe it has to do with the speakers and the basilisks both originating in Lemuria.’

‘Thank you. On a different topic, is it possible I’m related to the Addams family? And if so, how would I go about finding out?’

‘It is possible, but if you are, it is very distantly I should think. I don’t have enough information available about either of your family trees to know for sure. As to how you would find out, you’d need to do a blood ritual test using seven drops of blood from you, and another seven from the person you wish to determine a relationship with. Why are you interested?’

‘Because of what happened to my parents and why I have a scar on my forehead.’

‘I understand. Because you survived what others have not. I can understand that conclusion, but if that were the case, I would think one of your parents would have survived as well. I believe that why you survived was related more to what your parents may have done to protect you, than having anything to do with your familial relations or family magics.’

‘Thank you. You’ve mentioned family magics a few times. What are they?’

‘Hmm. I think it best described as secret rituals handed down from generation to generation. In some cases, things that were done in the past affect the magical cores of the descendants giving their families a predilection towards some magical ability or a type of magic. Much in the same way as the Addams’ magic is ‘bent’, or perhaps how speakers of the Divine Royal Language are immune to the gaze of a basilisk.’

‘Is there any way to determine what my family magic might be?’

‘Not conclusively. If it is rituals handed down, then you’d need to find the family tome, if one exists, or find a member of the family to pass down the knowledge to you. Otherwise, you might be able to use your P.I.S.C.I.S. within the game to determine any natural inclinations or magical abilities that would be hereditary.’

‘Thank you, Stheno.’ Harry focused on his research.

‘What are you currently doing?’

‘I’m trying to find rewards that enhance my ability to learn, or perform, without just granting an ability or knowledge.’

‘Why?’ Stheno was looking at him suspiciously from his peripheral vision.

‘Well, I think it is going to be better for me to learn it for myself in the long run, rather than have the knowledge gifted to me. That way I can better understand what it is I am learning, and possibly make connections to other knowledge I have learned.’

‘You are a most unusual child for a mortal. That is a very wise course of action. Allow me to assist in regard to finding the filters. Perhaps there is a list of available categories that might speed up your efforts.’

‘Thank you.’

A few hours later, Harry had applied the rewards Hardy (hereditary), Libidinous (hereditary), Lust-born (permanent), and Polyglot (hereditary). Hardy made it easier to resist illnesses and minor poisons, as well as allowing him to recover from such more readily. Libidinous gave his libido a greater capacity for growth of his psychic energy. Harry had been under the impression that libido and lust were the same in that they referred to carnal desire. He learned through Stheno that libido is ‘the energy that is created by the process of living, derived from both striving and desiring, and has to do with all that may be comprised under the concept of love.’ Lust on the other hand was more of desire for something, sometimes and overwhelming desire, and not necessarily of a carnal nature. The trait Lust-born would, as he grew, give him better resistance to the drives of lust, slow down the generation of lust, as well as better control over his actions during periods of being ‘lust drunk’. (Harry wanted to get ahead of the curve on the ‘hidden standard rewards’ increasing his lust.) And finally, Polyglot would allow him to more readily absorb other languages.

‘Stheno, can you teach me to speak Greek?’

‘Possibly. It will be the ancient forms though. And we would have to make a conscious effort to not use the Divine Royal Language.’

Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Professor McGonagall and her guest, a tall, pale skinned, lithe woman with ruby lips, waist length flowing black hair, and dark blue eyes. She was wearing a very tight, low cut, long black dress with a hobbling skirt, that forced her into a small mincing stride, and yet she still seemed to effortlessly glide across the floor in a most elegant fashion, keeping pace with the long highland stride set by McGonagall. When they came to a stop, the bottom of the woman’s dress draped around her feet like the arms of an octopus.

“Poppy? Madam—”

“Missus, please,” interrupted the woman.

“Mrs. Addams has arrived.”

“Thank you Minerva. Mrs. Addams, is there anything I can get you after your travels?”

“Some black tea with a splash of belladonna extract, if you don’t mind.”

Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall shuddered, but Poppy soldiered on. “Before I get your tea, I would like to introduce you to our patient.” The trio of witches arrived at the foot of Harry’s bed, where he was sitting in the lotus position watching them, before she continued. “Mrs. Addams, this is Mr. Harry Potter. Mr. Potter, this is Mrs. Morticia Addams. I’ll leave you to get acquainted while I fetch some tea.”

“Greetings, Mr. Potter. May I call you Harry?” Harry nodded in response. “Please call me Morticia. Did you know that even those of us in America have heard of you? You are quite the remarkable young man, and it is a pleasure to meet you, Harry.”

Harry internally grimaced at the indication of how famous he was, but being a man of mystery aided him in keeping it from his face. “It is a pleasure to meet you too, Morticia. Forgive me for not greeting you properly as I have been told not to get out of bed for any reason other than going to the loo. And I have heard something about your family as well, though that has only been in the last couple of days.”

“Oh? Why only the last couple of days?”

“I only found out I was a wizard six days ago. So, I had no knowledge of anything wizarding prior to that. My aunt and uncle hate anything not ‘normal’, so they wouldn’t discuss anything they might have known.”

“Fascinating. May I see your scar? I was told it was inflamed and looked like it had bled some.” Harry reluctantly lifted his bangs to bring his scar into full view. It did indeed look inflamed, but there wasn’t any sign that would indicate it had bled recently. After peering at it with her dark blue eyes for several minutes, she let him drop his bangs again. “That is a most fortuitous curse scar. I imagine it must have been quite painful to receive.”

“I don’t really remember. But I am discovering memories of my early childhood when my parents were alive, so I may one day remember that event as well. Why is it a fortuitous scar?”

“It is shaped like the seven stroke version of the rune Sowilo. The rune for power. It will help make your magic strong. Well, stronger than it would be otherwise, and given the amount of magic I feel within you, you would have been a strong wizard without it.” Professor McGonagall looked askance at Morticia, either at the indication that Harry would be powerful, or at the fact she could sense it without a wand or touching him. Probably the latter, Harry decided.

Madam Pomfrey arrived with tea, and then took a small brown bottle with a skull and crossbones on its label and added a splash to one cup, and passed it to Mrs. Addams. She then passed another unadulterated cup to Professor McGonagall, and then added a cube of sugar and a splash of cream to her own cup. Mrs. Addams stirred her tea with one of her long, red fingernails until the cup was gently wafting mist over the sides of the cup. Everyone was silent while they enjoyed their tea, but it looked like Professor McGonagall, and Madam Pomfrey were having some sort of silent communication over their cups.

Hedwig interrupted the silence when she flew through the open window and landed on Harry’s shoulder after dropping a letter on his lap, where she affectionately nipped at his ear. “Mail for you!”

He hooted back at her “Thanks, Hedwig. Have an owl treat.” Then he grabbed the treat from his bedside table and held it up for her to eat.

“Remarkable,” remarked Morticia. “You are a Pterolocuter. My uncle, Fester Frump, and I are also Pterolocuters. I see you have a female snowy owl as your familiar. The bond between you is quite strong, given that it is only six days old.”

Poppy and Minerva shared another look over there tea cups.

“Do you have a familiar, Morticia?” asked Harry as he was opening his letter.

“Why yes, I do. Zelda, a female California condor. She is the sweetest thing. Really enjoys a nice rancid steak for a treat. She gets along famously with Cleopatra.”

“Cleopatra?”

“She’s our favorite house plant. And African Strangler that I raised from small sprout I collected on my honeymoon. She is partial to raw hamburger.”

Again, the other two witches shared a meaningful look while the conversation took place. Poppy’s look seemed to say ‘See? Not normal.’

Harry then read his letter, and asked, “Madam Pomfrey, do you know when I can accept visitors? Hagrid would like to come and visit me if he is allowed.”

“That will depend upon how your treatment with Mrs. Addams progresses.”

“Well, I will need to perform some tests to be sure, but I expect treatment will take five days.”

“Why five days, Mrs. Addams?”

“The new moon, Professor McGonagall, will be necessary to complete the rituals required to cleanse Harry of his taint. The tests will likely confirm my diagnosis. There are two things afflicting Harry’s magic at the moment. The first is the person trying to possess Harry. It has found a way to link itself to Harry’s magic to keep itself from dissipating. The ritual on the new moon will take care of that. The second, which appears to be related to improperly laid blood wards, I will need the assistance of my husband to complete. As I will be caring for Harry, I will need someone experienced in such wards to examine them in my stead. Once we understand the function of the wards, my husband can make the necessary adjustments so they cease draining Harry’s magic to such an extent. Mostly likely, the ill treatment from his family has led to the wards draining his magic significantly more than intended.”

“Improperly laid blood wards?” Minerva ask with casual curiosity, though one look in her eyes would show that it was anything but casual.

“Yes. Harry, what I am going to say will most likely elicit a reaction from you. It is imperative that you make no comments about this topic, to anyone, until the wards have been corrected. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Morticia.”

“First, I suspect the wards were meant to use a home of someone related by blood to Harry to protect Harry, and those related to him. If that is so, then they have been improperly applied because it allowed said relatives to cause him significant harm, even if it was only through neglect. Second, the wards allowed the parasitic soul fragment to remain within Harry. A properly applied blood ward of that type would not have allowed it to survive, unless Harry was intentionally feeding it, which I very much doubt he would if it is who I believe it to be. And third, Harry has never known, or does not remember, a home other the one he has resided within. And because of that, Harry has never verbally declared that it was not a home much less a place for him to consider home. If he had, the wards would have failed immediately subjecting him to the dangers it was protecting him from.

“Once the wards are corrected, he will be able to denigrate his relatives and their domicile ‘til his heart is content without the wards failing. Currently he will have to spend three to four weeks a year within the boundaries of the ward to keep the wards active, and it is causing a significant drain on his magic. When I am done, he should only need to spend a twenty four to forty eight hour period to keep them fully charged with a negligible drain on his magic.

“And whom do you suspect to be residing within Mr. Potter?” Madam Pomfrey asked, afraid she might already know the answer.

“Why none other than the poor excuse for a sociopath who tried to murder Harry in the first place. Any truly great sociopath would have waited for Harry to be old enough to defend himself properly. It’s no fun to hunt someone when there is no challenge in it.” McGonagall and Pomfrey shared another look. “May I touch you, Harry?”

“Um… sure.”

Morticia reached out and used her long crimson fingernail to lightly scrape against the back of Harry’s hand. At her touch, Harry’s whole body glowed ever so slightly with a golden hue.

“That is a very superb sacrificial ward right there, crafted by his mother, as only a mother could make such a ward by sacrificing her own life. That ward itself should have purged the parasite within a month, but the ill-crafted blood ward has actually assisted it in remaining existent until it could lock onto Harry’s magic. And, whatever hatred or jealousy his family bears towards Harry is probably amplified by the parasitic presence within the blood wards. A more subtle torture I do not think could be devised. Too bad this was all unintentional.”

“What does this other ward do?” asked Professor McGonagall.

“It is very ancient magic. Possibly druidic in nature. Possibly even older. Basically, until Harry is seventeen, no one that truly wishes him harm will be able to withstand touching him, much less tolerate being in his presence for any extended period of time, and specifically, the man who killed his mother will never be able to touch him. Additionally, what you commonly refer to as the ‘killing curse’ will rebound upon its caster until he is seventeen as well. Other spells can harm and possibly kill him, but it seems his mother knew that dark lord well enough to protect her son from her killer’s favorite method of killing. There are other protections within that ward as well but they are so well crafted and subtle, I am not sure I can identify them all.”

“So, I’m immune from this killing curse? At least until I am seventeen?”

“Yes, Harry, and no. While the curse itself will not kill you, it will cause you a significant amount of pain. And it will leave a mark upon you just like the first one did. An imprint that describes the core belief of the person trying to kill you. In the case of your scar, your attacker coveted power more than anything else. And I suspect you will be quite vulnerable while you are recovering from the after effects of being hit by the curse. I would advise everyone keep this all to themselves. I cannot divulge this information as I am under an oath of secrecy already.”

Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall both swore oaths to not discuss his mother’s ward with anyone but the four people present.

“Would you allow my husband to come up to the castle so I can discuss what I require of him? Then someone can inform him of the location of the house Harry has been living in so my Husband can begin determining how the blood ward has been anchored. I assure you, he will be quite discrete. Harry, I will need your permission to discuss the specifics of the blood ward with my husband, since this relates to your treatment and I am under an oath.”

Harry pondered that for a moment, then said, “Morticia, I give you permission to discuss only what is necessary for him to assist you in rectifying the blood ward that has been improperly applied.”

Morticia’s lips curled into a small smile of appreciation. “Well stated, Harry. For someone of your age who is not an Addams, I expected I would get a less stringent indulgence.” With that, she stood up and glided from the room with Professor McGonagall.

When the hospital wing’s doors were closed, Madam Pomfrey muttered, “Strange woman.”

“She seemed quite cordial and pleasant to me.”

Madam Pomfrey jumped a little as she hadn’t thought she said that loud enough for Harry to hear. “Yes, she was both those, but that doesn’t alter my statement. She drank tea laced with poison, Mr. Potter.”

“Yes, she did. But what else did she put in there besides the belladonna? She stirred it with her fingernail and it started to overflow with mist. I suspect she may have used it as a potion to boost her senses, or maybe as part of a spell to better diagnose me. Maybe it was all part of a ritual she needed?”

Madam Pomfrey looked at Harry, apparently viewing him in a new light. “You have a point, Mr. Potter.”


Let the Agony Begin


A couple of hours later, Morticia returned carrying a black carpet bag to find Harry still seated in the lotus position. She approached Madam Pomfrey and said, “I am going to begin my tests with Harry. Would you prefer I apply a silencing charm? This will be rather stressful for Harry, and I expect he will be quite vocal.”

“Will I be able to observe thru the charm?”

“Yes.”

“Will crossing the charm boundary cause any backlash?”

“Yes. Both Harry and I will be subject to a wailing noise I am told is reminiscent of a Banshee. Given the strength of his magical core, and mine, it could render us both unconscious for over a month. It is up to you to decide which side of the barrier you want to remain.”

“I see. I will remain outside of the barrier and endeavor not to cross the boundary until you drop the charm. Per your request, Professor McGonagall and I have erected silencing charms around the ward.”

“Then I will begin at once.” Morticia made her way over to Harry, and said down in a chair next to his bed. “Harry, are you ready to begin? This will be extraordinarily painful, and you need to be prepared.”

“Do I need to lie down?”

“That might be for the best.”

Harry repositioned himself on the bed, and put his head towards the foot of the bed so it would be closer to where Morticia was sitting.

“Would you care to be restrained?”

“Only if you think it is necessary.”

“Hmm. It might be for the best to restrain you, so you don’t unnecessarily cause yourself harm.” Morticia snapped her fingers, and the bedding wrapped itself around Harry’s limbs. Then she snapped her fingers a second time.

“Now that I have the silencing wards up, we can have a bit of a private conversation. What precisely did you do the night you passed out?”

“I made myself dinner, cleaned up afterwards, went to my room and started reading.”

“What were you reading?”

“A book of poetry.”

Morticia raised an eyebrow. “And the title of the book?”

“On Love, by Sappho.” Harry had no idea where the answers were coming from.

“Recite what you can remember of the poem you were reading.”

Harry responded wondering where the poem was coming from, but then realized that the book was providing the answers he was giving. When he was done, Morticia looked at him carefully.

“Very well recited. Very passionately done. It is a shame you don’t have a lyre to have accompanied that. And did you feel the excruciating pain before or after you finished reading the poem?”

“After.”

“I see. So you have been caught in the snare of The Harem Game. Do not try to answer me, for I know you cannot. I have conversed with the last Addams to possess that book.” She crossed her arms and then raised one hand to her cheek, slowly tapping the cheek with one of her fingernails. After a moment she asked, “What talent of yours did you try to use when you finished reading your poem?”

Harry thought the book would prevent him from answering, but it seems that she asked the question in such a way that he could answer it truthfully. “Mage sight.”

“Oh? How wonderful for you! So few have that gift. That explains a great deal. Can you see anything magic right now?”

“No ma’am. I have been unable to use that talent since blacking out, and I believe my parasite is suppressing it.”

“I see. Now that I have a better idea of the cause, I can begin evaluating your condition. Don’t worry, my vow of secrecy prevents me from telling anyone what we’ve discussed within this charmed area, unless you permit me to do so. Please do not attempt to use your mage sight until the cleansing is complete. Are you ready for us to begin?”

“Yes, I’m ready. What do I need to do?”

“Scream. You won’t be able to stop yourself, so enjoy the experience to the fullest, and scream until your heart is content. Or it explodes.” With that, she stabbed a long red fingernail into the scar on his forehead without warning.

And Harry screamed.


Harry and Morticia Bond Over Tea


Harry remembered screaming for what felt like ages, and ages. It felt like his throat was being peeled away one layer at a time from the inside out. His muscles felt like they had been put through a meat grinder from pulling against his bonds. Morticia had started her examination about four in the afternoon. When she stopped, and Harry finally stopped screaming, it was just after dawn, and the light was beginning to stream through the castle windows. His throat felt raw, he was dripping with sweat, and he had soiled himself at one point. He felt completely wrung out, but unable to pass out or fall asleep.

“Harry, I am going to clean you now. We are still within the silence charm. When I am done cleaning you, I will provide you with tea to sooth your throat and potions to replenish your body of the fluids it lost, as well as prepare you for the cleansing ritual. Do I have your permission to clean your body?”

Harry weakly nodded. She effortlessly turned him around in the bed so that his head was towards the headboard, then undressed him completely and efficiently, filled a wash basin with water, and stirred her finger in the water which caused it to start steaming. She used a wash cloth to bath him from head to toe. It was the first time anyone else had bathed him since he turned three. He felt completely… mothered. There was no awkwardness, or shame, or any uncomfortableness. He felt like Morticia actually cared for him and his well-being. She spoke to him while she bathed him. When she was ready to clean his back, she changed the sheets on the bed so he had clean ones to lay on.

“Harry, I want you to understand something. While I can and do take a great deal of pleasure in causing pain to another, I do not take any from doing so with a child. To an Addams, children are a gift. No adult in my family would harm nor neglect a child. While I may envy the pain you endured last night (and you endured it rather well), I did not relish being the cause of that pain. No… don’t try to speak yet. Wait until you’ve had some tea before trying to speak.

“You are a remarkably resilient young man, and that was true before you came in contact with your book of ‘poetry’. You have many similarities to myself. A powerful magic core, tragic experiences, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to find a place where you fit in, a sense of adventure, a burgeoning libido, and an drive for survival, just to name a few. And you have added to the mix (yes, I could tell) pterolocution, mage sight, a kinesthetic gift, and an air of danger and mystery, which increases our similarities. If it weren’t for the fact that your magic ‘tastes’ wrong, I would say you were an Addams. And that is high praise coming from an Addams. If I didn’t love my husband completely, I would murder him so I could marry you when you came of age. And that feeling, is the only one I think may be induced by your book. May I open your trunk? I am sure you would like some clean clothes.”

Harry nodded, remembering he was told not to speak. She opened his trunk, and brought out some clothes, and looked at them.

“Tsk. These clothes are atrociously dreadful. To treat a child as badly as you were is unconscionable to me.” With a snap of her fingers, his oversized clothes from his whale of a cousin shrank before his eyes, mended, and the bland gray color become black. “That should be better.” She then dressed him, and when she was done, she snapped her fingers. Harry was floated to a sitting position against the headboard and pillows.

She set about making tea and continued talking. “My husband’s great-great-great grand uncle Xyphillus had possession of that book. He told me how to identify someone who had it. If they were asked what they were reading, and then required to recite it, they would recite a poem from Sappho. One that is only known for the first half that survived through the ages. The last half was lost. Anyone that could complete the recitation, especially in a language other than Greek, was most likely a possessor of the book. Xyphillus kept a harem of thirty-three women. After he decided to give the book to another, they all went gloriously stark raving mad. They tore him to pieces and feasted on his flesh like the maenads of myth. When they came to their senses, all but one, regrettably, took their own life. The one that survived never uttered another sound, and lived among the Addams family for the rest of her life. You might wonder how I would know of this book when Xyphillus died well before I was born. I will tell you this, Harry. That book jealously guards its secrets, but it cannot control an Addams who is dead. It may not be able to control anyone who has died, but it will never control an Addams. Our magic forbids it.”

She handed him a large mug of tea, after pouring what looked like whiskey and honey into it. Harry could see a rather frazzled and tired Madam Pomfrey looking aghast as he accepted the drink from Morticia. She seemed quite torn between rushing in to take it from him and watching helplessly. Ultimately, she watched helplessly.

Morticia noticed the direction of his gaze as he took a sip of the tea. She laughed merrily. “She is fit to be tied, isn’t she? She seems to think I might have poisoned you, or she disapproves of the whiskey. The vows I took before I came here prevent doing anything to you that is not medically necessary. She will realize that when she calms down. She also believes that if she crosses the charm barrier, she will be subjecting both of us to a month or more of unconsciousness. Why does she believe that? Because that is what I told her to make sure she either committed to participating in your examination, or stayed out of it. How’s your tea?”

After a couple of false starts, Harry replied, “Very good.” His throat was feeling better already.

“Good. Drink it all up. Then I will give you another. Then you can ask the questions I know you want to ask while drinking the second cup.” Harry decided to leisurely enjoy the tea. He saw no reason to rush drinking it just to ask some questions. He decided he’d try his hand at another quest, and selected ‘Find out a female’s birthday’. He decided to try Stheno first.

‘Stheno, what day of the year were you born?’

‘Why do you ask, mortal?’

‘Two reasons, one, I am curious and want to know when to celebrate it, and two, I want to see if the book considers you in your current state someone who can satisfy quests.’

She pondered that for a bit. ‘I am unsure if my method of reckoning will count, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t. However, I do not know how to translate it to the modern calendar. So, to answer your question, Themis was ascendant in the third house, Rhea was nadir in the twelfth house, Mnemosyne was zenith in the sixth house, Theia was descendant in the ninth house, Iapetus was in the seventh house opposed to Hyperion and Hyperion was conjunct to Kronos in the first house. It was during the sixth hour of the night, when Uranus was in his deepest sleep.’

Harry heard a chime, indicating he had achieved a goal, but that the quest was not complete, so he figured he had another twenty-four hours to get as many birthdays as he could.

‘That seemed to satisfy the game. You are correct about trying to translate that into a modern calendar. It sounds difficult.’

‘The difficulty will be that I was born during the age of the Titans. Things changed in terms of Astrology for record keeping. Especially when the Olympians started adding and deleting constellations.’

‘Oh. I suppose we can look into that later then.’

When he had his second cup of tea in his hands, Harry began the conversation.

“Morticia, would you tell me the results of your tests, please?”

Her lips curled into an amused smile, as if she was enjoying a private joke. “Of course. There is definitely a fragment of a soul stuck to your scar. In fact it has been using the amplifying effects of the scar to keep itself from dissipating. The curious thing is that the bit of soul is… how best to describe this. Hmm. Some of the edges were fractured rather than surgically separated, if that makes sense. And the only experience I’ve had with fractured edges to a soul were from a corruption of a soul ritual called the ‘Crucible of Horus’. It is an Egyptian ritual dating back to the time of the pharaohs, where their god-kings would use the ritual to smoothly separate their Ba and Ka, so that one could go to the afterlife for judging when they died, and then return so they could still be alive in this world. They buried their servants with them as well so that they would have someone to receive them on their return, and why it is so dangerous to go exploring pyramids.

“The corrupted ritual doesn’t separate the Ba and Ka, but divided the soul with a fracture. There is only one way to fracture a soul without separating the Ba and Ka. That is the corrupted ritual created by a wizard with a poor understanding of Egyptian religious rites. He later named what he created a horcrux after the name of the ritual he misunderstood. In the Egyptian ritual, one sacrifices someone to create the separation and prepare the container to house the part of the soul to remain tied to the earth. For Egyptians, the sacrifice is of a… sexual nature, where one deflowers a virgin. The wizard… Herpo I believe. Herpo used a blood sacrifice and murdered an innocent to create his horcrux.

“The creation of a horcrux should halve the soul, and this fragment is significantly smaller. And to have fractured off the piece that stuck to you, that dark lord must have intended to make your death the catalyst for creating a horcrux. And I would venture he made more before that. This piece looks like an eighth to a twelfth of a whole. I presume he altered the first ritual to create the number of pieces he wanted, then used the normal ritual after that to take one of the fractured pieces to create a horcrux. Ingenious, but for one who covets power it was ultimately self-defeating.”

“Why would it be self-defeating?”

“Because your soul, your life and your magic are intertwined. Each time he fractured off a piece of his soul, he was crippling his magic and his life. Not in a power reducing type of crippling, or a physical mobility crippling, but in a loss of sensation. His magic would lose any form of intuitive flow and it would lack a breadth of effect. He’d lose passion and empathy and joy and love that also enhance your magic. He’d be left with anger and hatred. Your country’s last self-styled dark lord truly did not understand the nature of magic. Only the theory of how to use it. Unlike you.”

“Unlike me?”

“Yes. You have only had awareness of magic for a week, and already you have started to meditate. Very few wizards do that, and thus fail to understand the nature of their own magic. I am sure you have observed how I perform magic.” Harry confirmed this with a nod. “I do not use a wand, nor do I use words. I use one gesture for most of my magic, and that gesture is more of an affectation than a requirement. I can do that because I understand my magic completely. And I believe you will as well, in time.”

Harry nodded his understanding. “Did you learn anything more about my mother’s sacrificial ward?”

Her lips quirked again, this time Harry thought it was more in pride that he asked the question than in amusement. “Yes. She loved you more than you can ever know, and so did your father. She was very clever to tie his sacrifice into your ward as well. You have both a paternal and maternal blood sacrifice ward. Without a significant depth of love, for you and each other, they would have been unable to create the ward. And it is a magnificent one, and I feel honored in having been able to examine it. And it is one reason why the examination was so painful for you. Your father’s ward is designed to bolster your mother’s ward that protects you from harm. That is why you have fared so well with so much neglect over the last decade. And why you have never had a serious injury or illness. Two such wards working in synergy are truly a wonder to behold.”

“How do you know it was my mother that made the wards?”

“Because these types of wards have to be made by the mother. The protective sympathetic magic requires a female positive energy, where a male negative energy would provide destructive sympathetic magic. It is the destructive resonance that reflected the curse back at its caster, but the protective resonance provided by your mother is what protected you from the curse.”

“Why the examination was painful?”

“I had to disturb the soul fragment. It is very tightly bound to your magic and life. It is attempting, but failing at getting a grip upon your soul. As I disturbed it, it resisted by holding tighter to your magic and life.”

“What about that blood ward? The one you described as poorly executed.”

“I was able to confirm my suspicions that the majority of the drain on your magic is from that ward. The rest is from the soul fragment. This blood ward is also rather ingenious, in that it will prevent anyone who truly wishes you harm from being able to approach within five or so miles of the domicile. That distance is excessive, and may not have been intentional, but rather a side effect of your magical core being so strong. I’ll need to confer with Gomez before I can be sure. Also, the ward hides you from scrying attempts and other forms of magical detection and location. There are a few other wards I can detect tied into the blood ward for power, but I cannot determine their precise function from here. I presume, based on the nature of the blood ward, that those other wards would be mail-redirection, a version of notice-me-not to keep magicals from being too interested, and maybe some detection wards to inform the caster in case of an emergency.”

“So, I was monitored, but no one said or did anything about what my relatives were doing?”

“I do not know, Harry. Possibly you were closely monitored. Or maybe only in terms of general location and safety. More will be revealed when Gomez returns.”

“Why would they apply a mail-redirection ward?”

“Because the owls used for mailing would otherwise find you, and owls, or the letters they carry can be traced. Additionally, the mail can be used to harm you. Someone could send you a cursed item, an immediate trigger portkey, or some other harmful item or substance through the mail.”

Morticia seemed pensive about something, so he asked, “There is something else, isn’t there?”

“Very perceptive, Harry. Yes. While the blood wards are ill-applied, they are applied well enough that the continued existence of that soul shard is hard to explain without some other form of interference. I believe Gomez will sniff it out. He’s very good at discovering these sorts of things.”

After a few more sips of tea, Harry asked, “Are we related?”

Morticia arched an eyebrow. “In what sense? All humans are related after a fashion.”

“As blood relatives.”

“Possibly. Magical families are often closely related by blood. Those striving to maintain a pureblood status more so than others.”

“How would we determine if we were? I don’t have access to a family tree, and wouldn’t know who to ask about one.”

“Oh, a simple blood ritual. Seven drops of blood from each of us to determine if we are related. However, it must be performed during a cardinal time of day. Either dawn, dusk, midnight or noon. I prefer midnight for its resonance to Addams family magic. That, and sunlight is far too cheerful for my tastes.”

“Can it be done with more than two people at a time?”

“Yes. Most people are only interested in determining a relationship with one person. Usually before marriage, or at the reading of a will. The more people involved, the more complicated the ritual becomes. I believe the Goblins use a modified version for inheritances. When you open a new vault, or claim an existing one, you need to donate some blood. They keep the excess for comparison to the blood received from other vault holders. Not many people bother to learn that. For inheritance vaults, the blood is often acquired from the infant.”

“I was wondering if you could perform the ritual for me and you and your husband. And maybe Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey, if they and you are willing.”

“I can. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t have any magical relatives that I know of. My aunt never spoke of my mother being a witch until Hagrid came to fetch me for school supplies on my birthday. So, if she knows of any magical relatives, she isn’t going to tell me.”

Morticia’s countenance softened a bit from its usually formal regal mask. “I understand. Well, there is a way to determine who are your relatives using two different blood rituals. The first is simple. Everyone you who wants to know how they are related to each other donates seven drops of blood into a ritual bowl with a prepared potion. The blood potion is then poured onto a parchment, and the ritual is performed. The parchment will then inform you how you are related to the others participating in the ritual.

“The second is much more complex and will generate a self-updating family tapestry. Many of the ancient families have such an item, or did at one time. This would use a small vial of your blood as a catalyst for your magic to seek out the magic of others, and use the resonance between them to determine what their familial relationship is to you. It will work back up your tree for direct ancestors, then back down to identify cousins and aunts and uncles. This one is more powerful if performed on the new moon, so we could perform it after your cleansing.”

“Thank you.” After a couple of more sips of tea, Harry asked, “Morticia, would it be okay if I corresponded with you after you’ve returned to America?”

“I would be delighted to do so, Harry. It will drive Gomez mad with jealousy to know I am corresponding with another, younger, man.”

Harry looked a bit confused, and asked, “Why would making him jealous be a good thing?”

“It keeps him from taking me for granted, and spices up our marital conjugations.”

“… Right. Will Hedwig or Zelda be able to make the trip across the Atlantic?”

“As familiars and mail bearers, yes. However such distances are taxing to the bird as they are not sea birds and will not have anything to hunt along the way. Best to use muggle mail, or pay for international owl mail. They collect the international mail and ship it by portkey, then distribute it to local owls.”

“Would you tell me your birthday so that I can add it to my book of poetry? I’ll remember to send you a card or small gift. Maybe some of Sappho’s poetry might help, um… add spice to your marital relations?”

“Oh yes, that would do nicely. Sappho’s Ode to Woman, if you have access to it in the original Greek would be splendid. My birthday is on the twenty-seventh of October.” With the disclosure of her birthday, Harry heard another chime. “If you want Gomez’s, his is the thirtieth of April. I am sure he would enjoy Sappho’s Chastening Patriarchs. And yours, if my medical information is correct, is the thirty-first of July.”

Harry nodded. “Will I need more tests?”

“Not unless something untoward is revealed by Gomez’s excursion. You will be receiving a specialized diet for the next few days, and several potions of Mama’s creation to help prepare your soul and fortify your body for the upcoming ritual.”

“I overheard that your maiden name is Frump, and that the Frump’s are well known potion mistresses from France.”

“Oui. However, Mama is Gomez’s mother. She is an extraordinary potions mistress as well. Mama and my Maman do not get along, so my Maman and my Papa do not dwell with us. Unfortunate, but for the best if we wish to keep the house and fine china in one piece.”

“Will I have to stay in this bed for the next five days?”

Morticia laughed. “No, you won’t have to stay in the bed from a medical standpoint. Convincing your matron to let you out of the bed is a different matter. Your only medical restriction is that do not perform any magic until the rituals are over. Not even accidental magic, so you will need to keep yourself calm.” She reached into her black carpet bag and pulled out a medium sized Florence flask that had a sickly green boiling liquid in it. She removed the stopper and handed the flask to Harry. “Drink this down, in as close to one gulp as you can.”

Harry took the flask, and after having a whiff (it smelt of Duddly’s dirty gym socks and Mrs. Figg’s wet cats), pinched his nose and nearly drank it down in one gulp. The second small gulp informed him why he should endeavor to drink it all in one go. The aftertaste of the second gulp was sickly sweet, giving him a sense nausea and vertigo. While he was dealing with the first flask, she brought out a conical flask that had this clear purple liquid that seemed to have a viscosity similar to maple syrup. “That first one you’ll be taking once in the morning, before breakfast for the next seven days. This next one you will need three times a day until the ritual is complete. Sip it or else you’ll end up growing appendages you may not be able to remove.”

Harry took this one with some trepidation, and began to sip it. The flavor and smell was actually quite pleasant, and seemed to encourage him to drink it fast. Remembering the warning about extra appendages, and remembering Dudley with a pig’s curly tail, Harry forced himself to sip it like he would hot tea. When he was done, she removed that flask from his hands. “Now, this next one is very important. Once you have it in your mouth, do not swallow it. Hold it in your mouth, and swish it around. When I tell you to, spit it back into the container.” After placing the empty flask in her carpet bag, she withdrew test tube with an opaque neon-orange liquid and handed that to Harry.

Doing as she asked, Harry poured the liquid into his mouth and started swishing it about like mouthwash. The liquid smelled strongly of cinnamon, but tasted like eggs, mint and vanilla. After a while, it started to feel like his mouth was on fire. Morticia was watching him intently (and so was Madam Pomfrey and the painting of Dilys Derwent), and when his ears turned red, she said, “Spit it back, now.” Harry was happy to spit the liquid back into the vial, and as soon as he was finished, he belched, loudly, and had a gout of flame erupt from his mouth. Followed by an identical belch and gout of flame. Fortunately the flame only shot out six feet in both instances and didn’t hit anything or anyone. “Superb! That is the farthest I have seen anyone but Lurch spew flame. And you are the first I’ve seen do it twice.”

“Lurch?” squawked Harry because his mouth was still on fire.

“Our butler. He’s been in the family for decades. Maybe longer.”

“How far?” he croaked.

“Lurch has a magnificent twelve feet of flame when he uses the potion. He once missed the harpsichord but set the drapes on fire. I lost my wager with Gomez as to which item in the room would be set aflame.” She also placed this vial into her carpet bag, and removed another conical flask. “This last one you will take again, just before the ritual. You must swish it around your mouth five times before swallowing. Unfortunately, it will remove the pleasant burning sensation of the last potion.” She then handed him the vial. The vial looked like it had four different potions stacked one on top of the other with in it. The colors were all variations and hues of brown.

Harry did as instructed. The potion smelled like the fertilizer he’d have to use on his Aunt’s garden. He briefly wondered if this is what distilled excrement tasted like as he tried not to gag. Fortunately, there was no aftertaste.

“Well done.” Morticia took the vial back. “There is one other potion you will need to take, but I can only give it to you on the day of the ritual. Do you have anything else you wish to discuss with me privately before I dismiss the silencing charm?”

After some consideration, Harry said, “I can’t think of anything right now.”

“Very well.” She snapped her fingers and the charm disappeared. “Madam Pomfrey, my examination is complete. If you would like to discuss the specifics, we can do so while Harry is eating. I am sure he is quite hungry at this point. He should only have meats and other high protein foods for this meal, and for lunch.” Harry’s stomach rumbled quite loudly at that cue.

Madam Pomfrey looked relieved, and said, “Yes, Mrs. Addams. If you’d like to follow me to my office, we can have that discussion there. Harry, I’ll be right back with your breakfast.”

Morticia stood up and admonished Harry before following Madam Pomfrey, “Remember, Harry, do not attempt any magic.”

Harry settled down to do more meditation while waiting for breakfast.


Library Liberty at Last


As Madam Pomfrey was clearing away the breakfast dishes, Harry asked, “Madam Pomfrey, am I cleared for visitors?”

“Yes, Harry. For the next three days. After that, there are preparations that need to be made for the cleansing.”

“May I also be allowed to leave the hospital wing?” She looked like she was going to immediately say no, but Harry hastily continued, “I just want to visit the library. While I want to explore the castle, I can wait for school to start and do that with my new classmates. I just really want to go someplace else for a while each day.”

She mulled it over for a bit. “I’ll have to ask Professor McGonagall if Madam Pince is available. If she is amenable, then yes. I will not have you wandering the castle alone. Is that understood?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good.” She bustled away with the dishes.

‘What are you planning, royal mortal?’

‘Trying to see if I can use birthdays from books to satisfy the quest. I also would like a chance to see the library before the rest of the students arrive. And I really want to spend some time away from this bed. Oh! I can try that!’ Harry got out of the bed, and went over the portrait of Dilys Derwent, who seemed to be asleep.

“Hello, Headmistress Derwent. Are you awake?”

The portrait stretched, making a show of apparently waking up. “I am now. What do you need?”

“I apologize for interrupting your rest. I just wanted to introduce myself and ask a few questions if you don’t mind.”

“Whether or not I mind will depend upon the questions, Mr. Potter. As a past educator I welcome questioning young minds. And please, call me Dilys.”

“Thank you, Dilys. It is nice to meet you. Please call me Harry. I will be a student here starting in September. I only discovered I was a wizard seven days ago.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Harry. Now, what questions did you have?”

“Has Hogwarts changed since you were Headmaster?”

“Oh, quite a bit actually. The curriculum is always changing. Not always for the better in my opinion, but that is for the Board of Governors to determine, and the Ministry since they are responsible for administering the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams, and they determine what will be tested.”

“I overheard you talking with Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall the other day regarding my treatment. Have you ever seen a case like mine before?”

“No, I haven’t. However, I did have training in necromancy and soul healing, so I could more readily understand the results that Poppy’s diagnostics were generating. And that is why I advised a few more tests. That Mrs. Addams really gave you a torturous ordeal, didn’t she?”

“I can safely say I have never experienced so much pain before, and I hope to never experience anything like it again.”

The conversation continued for some time after that. Apparently learning the birthday of a dead person (Dilys’) as well learning of birthdays second-hand (eight more women, all born on the same day as Dilys) counted towards completing the quest.

When Madam Pomfrey returned she informed Harry that though Madam Pince was unavailable, he was allowed to visit the library for one hour each day, as someone had to be in the Library with him at all times. As only Professor McGonagall, Madam Pomfrey, Hagrid, and the Caretaker Mr. Filch were available, it would be advisable for him to find some books and take them back to the infirmary, and he would need to be escorted to and from the library as well.

At five minutes to one, after lunch and a brief meditation, Harry was shown how to get to the library by Professor McGonagall.

As Harry was about to enter, his A.R.M. displayed a scroll-note.

            Note to self: Remember when in the library, be quiet! Madam Pince does not tolerate noise in her domain, even if I am the sole occupant. Additionally, don’t damage the books! Madam Pince has been known to ban students from the library for folding page corners as a book mark.

            First thing to look up is charms and/or runes for marking my books to claim ownership, making them theft resistant, and linking them into a personal library. Next thing to do is check out a copy of Hogwarts: a History. Third, I need to look up books on familiar bonds. Fourth, find a book on Occlumency. ~HJP

Harry wondered why the scroll-note had information about a person he wasn’t meeting. Dismissing the note, Harry asked, ”Professor, can you help me find books on personal library maintenance, books on the history of Hogwarts, books on familiar bonds, and books on how to defend your mind? A book on Occlumency maybe?”

“I can, but why do you want books on how to defend your mind? And how do you know about Occlumency?”

“I’ve been dealing with something trying to possess me for most of my life, and I’d like to better at defending myself should I be placed in this situation again. Also, Mrs. Addams mentioned I might have a talent for Occlumency, and she explained it was for mental defense.” Harry fudged that last bit, as Mrs. Addams hadn’t told him that.

“I see. Well, Hagrid would be your best reference for what books you want on familiar bonds, though I can point you to the right section of the library. I’d suggest Professor Kettleburn, but he won’t be back until the day before term starts. Library maintenance is an obscure field, and Madam Pince would be your best resource. I’m sure I can help you find the right section, but I will not be any help in recommending books. For the history of Hogwarts, you’ll want to start with Hogwarts: a History, and I can help you find that. As for mental defense, that one is a bit tricky, and might be in the restricted section. We will take two hours today to familiarize yourself with the library and search for books on the topics you want. I advise you to not damage any of the books you borrow, and do your best to remember exactly where you got them from, as Madam Pince will be most cross to find her Library in disarray.”

Harry nodded and said, “Yes, Professor.”

McGonagall showed Harry the general layout for the library, which probably made sense to wizards and witches, but to a mundane raised boy, it was slightly bewildering. With his memory recall, remembering the lay out wasn’t the problem. It was just that it made no intuitive sense to him. Subject organization didn’t follow a logical rhyme or reason. He decided to start with the library maintenance, hoping that there might be a book that explained how the library was organized. Maybe it had to do with magical numbering or some sort of arcane layout.

The professor had found the appropriate section for the library maintenance, which was a small bookcase nearest Madam Pince’s desk. Harry looked through the books, scanning them with his superior reading speed, and finally decided on Library Legerdemain and Bibliotheca Bewitchment by Sage Stewart. It looked like it was both the most used, and best cared for book at the same time. His brief scan indicated he probably needed a primer on ancient runes as well.

McGonagall returned with Hogwarts: a History. Harry asked, “Does the library have old newspapers, or books regarding history over the last twenty years?”

“Yes, the newspapers are over in that corner, and the books on recent history are on these shelves over here.”

“Thank you. Oh… before I forget, are there any books about famous witches throughout the ages? Or maybe books with a family tree?”

“They would both be in the historical section.”

“And can you recommend a primer on ancient runes? It seems I may need one to understand some of the topics in this book.” He indicated the library maintenance book he pulled off the small bookcase.

She looked at him with a puzzled expression. “I would wait until your third year then to start with that book.”

“Why is that Professor?”

“So that you have enough magical theory under your belt to better understand the material.”

“I see. Is there a copy of the Standard Book of Spells, Grade Two available? That way I can read up on the theory I will need.”

After a brief moment, she says, “Yes. Follow me, so you know where to return the book.” She pointed out where to return Hogwarts: a History, before leading him to the basic spell book sections. He grabbed both the grade two and grade three editions of The Standard Book of Spells. McGonagall just raised an eyebrow.

She then let him to the history section and he looked through some history books about famous personages and settled on Leading Ladies of Lasting Legacy by Leonardo Lothario. She then led him to the ancient runes section where she suggested Ancient Runes Made Easy by Laurenzoo, as he obviously was not going to be deterred.

“I think I’ll wait on the familiar books until I can chat with Hagrid.”

“Understandable. And it seems that books on Occlumency are in the restricted section, by decree of the Ministry.”

“Oh.”

Harry took his six books and followed Professor McGonagall out of the library and back to the hospital ward.

“Would you like some help Harry? That one book on famous witches is quite large.”

“Thank you, Professor, no. I’ve got it in hand.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading Leading Ladies of Lasting Legacy in its entirety. He was two chapters into The Standard Book of Spells, Grade One when Madam Pomfrey brought him dinner. After dinner, Harry continued to read the first year spell book, memorizing the theory, and then spent the rest of the evening meditating. Harry remembered to write a note to Hagrid regarding his ability to accept visitors and gave it to Hedwig to deliver. He was checked on by Mrs. Addams and Madam Pomfrey right before bedtime.

As Harry was getting ready for bed, Stheno asked, ‘How many birthdays did you find?’

‘Two hundred three so far. And,’ Harry checked with the A.R.M., ‘… and I still have until seven in the morning to complete the quest.’

‘Impressive. Very creative of you to use birthdays provided within a book. You will have amassed a significant number of I.P.’s with that quest alone, and you won’t have to take on another quest for thirty days.’

‘Do you know of any female birthdays? Since I can use birthdays given to me second hand.’

‘Well, my sister Euryale was born at the same time I was, and there is Medusa’s birthday, and several priestesses…’

By the time Harry fell asleep he had added another one hundred fifty-three birthdays to his total.

Chapter Text

The Inspector General Visits #4 Privet Drive

Or Petunia Meets Gomez


Petunia Dursley was just sitting down to a spot of tea when the doorbell rang. She set down her cup then smoothed her dress as she stood up to go answer the door. Upon opening the door she found a short, stocky, swarthy man with a mustache and neatly trimmed black hair, wearing a 1920’s American style deep purple pinstripe suit and matching tie with spats on his overly shined shoes standing on her doorstep with a matching fedora in one hand and a clipboard in the other. There was a red carpet bag at his feet. He barely came up to Petunia’s chin and was smiling in an infectious, maniacal, slightly mad manner.

“Hello, Madam! My name is Addams, Gomez Addams. I’m with the Child Safety and Welfare Department of your government.” Mr. Addams held out a wallet of official looking credentials for Petunia’s inspection as he barreled along. “We’ve had some news regarding a terribly nasty infestation of Carpathian Head Lice and West Georgian Blood Ticks amongst the students at Smeltings Academy and in the local primary schools, and we are inspecting the homes of all the students in the area in an effort to track down the source of the infestation before it spreads further. Is this the Dursley residence? Is now a good time? May I come in?”

Petunia was quite put off stride. The credentials seemed in order, and the man was implying there was a health threat to her dearest Ickle Duddlykins. She absolutely knew that there was no way her home was the source of the infection. But she did wonder if one her Popkin’s friends might be responsible. An inspection sounded most prudent. “Please come in. I assure you that my son is not the source of this infestation, and that he has never had head lice or encountered blood ticks in his life. No such parasites live within this house.”

‘Though there is one parasite I would dearly love to evict from this house,’ she thought while thinking of her nephew. She was positive even he wasn’t the source of the infestation Mr. Addams was reporting.

“Fabulous! This is my seventeenth house this morning. Now, I understand your concerns regarding the health and safety regarding your sons—”

“We only have one son, Mr. Addams.”

“Really? I was told you had two boys living here? Is the Department of Child Safety and Welfare mistaken on that point?” Mr. Addams was now looking around the living room and under objects and behind furniture as they talked.

“… Yes, we have two boys living here. The other is my nephew.”

“Ahh. Terribly sorry, our mistake. I’ll correct the records when I get back to the office. I’m sure it is just a clerical error. Hello… what do we have here?” Mr. Addams peered behind Uncle Vernon’s favorite chair and Petunia, curiosity getting the better of her leaned over his shoulder to look as well. “Ahh… just a dead, common house fly. A pity.”

“Pity?” Petunia already had some facial tissue in hand and was picking up the tiny corpse. She was sure she had just finished vacuuming there this morning.

“Why, yes, I was really hoping for something more exotic. Something to really test me, a challenge. Like a Paisley gigantophis culex pipiens vampyris!”

“A what?”

“A giant blood sucking gnat found in dog breeding facilities in Paisley.”

“I hope you will be extremely disappointed then when your inspection is complete.”

“Madam! That is the second nicest thing anyone has said to me today!”

“Second?” said a startled Petunia.

“Yes, second. My wife wished for me to have a completely, awfully, dreadfully, miserable day this morning! It is a gift to know she cares. So, has your family taken any holiday trips overseas recently? Had any visitors who have come from or recently been overseas? Received any gifts containing wood, earth, plant fiber or made out of human hair?” Mr. Addams was now jauntily moving to the upstairs bedrooms taking two steps at a time.

“My husband, son and I went to Majorca last year. No gifts made out of… wait, did you say human hair?”

“Yes, like a wig, or a bracelet made from a lock of hair, or an African warrior tapestry, or a shrunken head. Those sorts of things.”

“No… No… We do not tolerate anything abnormal in this house, especially shrunken heads.”

“Really? How unfortunate. When you went to Majorca, where did your nephew stay?”

“He stayed with Mrs. Figg who lives on Wisteria Walk with several cats.”

“I’ll have to inspect her house as well then. Moving on.” Mr. Addams had just completed inspecting upstairs master suite and started in on Dudley’s room. “My word. This room looks like my son’s did after he detonated a bomb. Absolute mayhem!”

“Yes, while it is messy, it is clean.” Petunia was getting dizzy from dealing with the energetic dynamo what was named Gomez Addams.

“Yes, yes it is.” Mr. Addams seemed quite disappointed by the cleanliness of the room as he crawled under Dudley’s enormous bed. “Not one fanged, venomous dust bunny to be found. Your nephew appears quite camera shy, Mrs. Dursley.”

“What makes you say that, Mr. Addams?”

“Why, because he doesn’t appear in any of the family photos you have on display! I have a cousin like that. You could tie him down in front of the camera and by the time you were ready to take the photo, he’d be out of sight and half way to Honduras. I recall him saying that having his photo taken would cause the apocalyptic end of the world. Wonderfully mad, he is. Had a devilish time getting him to just sit for a painting. Perhaps your nephew is the photographer?” Mr. Addams performed a somersault to a standing position just in front of a perplexed Petunia when he came out from under the bed.

With a disturbing gleam in his eye, he proclaimed, “Onward, Madam! Do you know anyone who has a vendetta against you or your family? Holding a grudge? Envious of your status? Covetous of your wealth? Jealous of your husband’s nighttime prowess? Perhaps someone wishing you or a member of your family specific harm, illness, or distress? Has anyone been muttering maledictions in your presence?”

Petunia was taken aback by the line of questioning, and the only answer she could think of would be the only one that would admit that everything in her house was not perfectly normal, thank you very much. ‘Someone wants that boy dead, which is why he has to live here.’

“No… Nothing comes to mind.”

Mr. Addams finished inspecting Harry’s austere room, with a wardrobe full of Dudley’s broken toys and looked at Petunia sharply with a dangerous gleam in his eyes. After a long pause, where Petunia felt like her entire being had been laid bare, he smiled jovially. “Well, as long as you are sure! Let’s proceed to the kitchen, shall we?”

On the way into the kitchen, they stopped by the cupboard under the stair and Mr. Addams stuck his head in much to Petunia’s chagrin. “Quite cozy I see. Unfortunately, nothing but a few spider webs and a deceased cricket. Seems the spiders have moved out, too. Shame, that.”

After entering the kitchen Mr. Addams commented, “Madam, it appears I interrupted your morning tea! I am terribly sorry about that. It is important to have time to compose one’s thoughts.” He turned to bow while making his apology and knocked over an absolutely hideous vase that had been given to the Dursleys by Vernon’s sister Marge. Where Marge acquired the horrid thing was a mystery, even to Marge. Petunia watched in fascinated horror as the vase crashed to the ground and broke into pieces. Part of her was secretly delighted, as she had been wanting to get rid of that vase for years, but couldn’t because it had been a gift from Vernon’s sister. What she didn’t see was the small glow where Gomez initially contacted the vase, and faint dark smoke that emanated from the broken pieces of vase into the shape of skull with a snake moving in and out of it that quickly dissipated.

“Oh what a calamitous oaf I am. Forgive me for having broken such an interesting and unique vase. Please, let me clean it up and offer you some compensation for its wanton destruction.” Mr. Addams spryly leapt to the broom cupboard and was sweeping up the remains of the vase before Petunia could really process what was happening. When she moved to help he steered her to the stove and said, “You should remake your tea, my dear. It will sooth your nerves and calm you from the most painful feelings of loss you are surely experiencing at the vase’s untimely demise. By the time I’ve got this squared away and completed my inspection, your tea should be ready.”

He had the vase remnants in his carpet bag and everything put away in a nonce. After looking in the pantry and in the kitchen cabinets, he pulled out his wallet, and placed twenty fifty pound notes upon the counter.

“I’ll need to inspect your back yard, Mrs. Dursley. You start your tea again, and I’ll be done in a jiffy.” She cleaned up her cold tea and started boiling some water. Through the window she could see the inspector looking behind every bush and under every stone. And he was done in fifteen minutes, and bounded back into her house, then walked her to the front door.

“This is good-bye, Mrs. Dursley. I’m sure you’ll be devastated to learn that your house has no pernicious parasites, vexing vermin, malicious molds or fatal fungi at all. A disappointingly clean bill of health all around. Please enjoy your tea. I must be off to the next promising potential pigpen. Ta-ta!”

Petunia watched Mr. Addams walk jauntily to the next house down the block with a school age child, swinging his bag. She closed the door and returned making her tea. She was quite pleased on two counts. One, her house was giving a clean bill of health, and two, that horrible, hateful vase was finally gone, never to be seen again.

As she sipped her tea from the kitchen table and looked into the living room at the pictures of her family, she started to cry. If asked, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you specifically why, but it seemed to her that something very important was missing from the photographs on the mantle.


=== # ===


Mr. Addams spent an enjoyable day ‘inspecting’ muggle domiciles in Little Whinging and discomfiting their owners by asking multitudinous bizarre personal questions and by subtly rearranging their belongings into bizarre arcane patterns.

Chapter Text

Mighty Morphing Magical Magnification


During the week, Harry became much more proficient with meditation, and Stheno started him on basic occlumency exercises to help organize his mind and keep his calm. He spent some I.P.s on increasing the gains in power made by his magical core as he developed (and made that effect hereditary). It had retro-active side-effect that caused the power he had to more than double as if he had always had that growth potential. He did worry that might cause an issue with Morticia’s ritual, but she assured him that it was not a problem as he was not using his magical core. He also discussed magical theory and ancient runes with Morticia during the time she was available.

Hagrid had come to visit twice, and on one of those visits he spent it in the library with Harry looking up books about creatures. Harry thought the most interesting was Familiars Both Familiar and Unfamiliar by Ernest Bonds. It discussed the various magical creatures with which one could form a familiar bond. Most of the familiar familiars were of species (like cat, owl and toad) that had both magical and mundane varieties. Harry was most interested in the unfamiliar varieties, where the species were entirely magical, like a phoenix or an acromantula. While at the library, Harry exchanged some books, and picked up Numerology and Grammatica as some arithmancy was necessary to understand some of the topics in Library Legerdemain.

Morticia brought her husband Gomez into the hospital wing to meet Harry. Gomez then gave his report of what he found, and said it was best to not examine the vase in the presence of Harry on the off chance any magical residue caused an adverse reaction with the soul fragment.

Gomez also reported that while the house was quite difficult to approach, the pain in doing so was wondrous, the inspection was completed. The blood wards on the house were anchored by a ward stone under a bird bath in the back yard, and that there were three other ward stones in the garden keeping the other wards and monitors powered and active. The normal ward stones were installed correctly and functioning accordingly. The blood ward stone would need to be remade and then have the anchor transferred to the new stone. Gomez set about creating the new stone, and he would switch the stones at midnight of the night of the ritual. He just needed three drops of Harry’s blood to activate the stone and complete the transfer.

Additionally, Morticia performed the relationship test between Harry, herself, Gomez, Minerva and Poppy. The results were interesting. Harry was related to Morticia (sixth cousins twice removed, maternal side for both), Morticia was related to Gomez (seventh cousins, paternal side for both), Gomez was related to Minerva (fifteenth cousins twice removed, maternal for Gomez, paternal for Minerva), Minerva was related to Poppy (eighth cousins, once removed, maternal side for both), and Poppy was related to Harry, (ninth cousins, paternal sides for both). It was a rather interesting chain of results. Harry was just happy to have blood relations that weren’t Petunia and Dudley Dursley. Poppy and Minerva were likewise happy to find they were related, though Minerva was less enthused to be related to Gomez (perhaps because he shouted “Cousin!” and grabbed her in a hug and kissed both cheeks). The Addams pair took to calling Harry and Minerva ‘cousin’, but Minerva insisted they stop in her case.

During the day of the ritual, Morticia was creating the required ritual circle out by the Black Lake, and giving him his final potions and performing preparatory examinations. Gomez was putting the finishing touches on the ward stone. Madam Pomfrey collected the necessary three drops of blood for Gomez to use in switching the ward stones. Minerva was getting Hagrid ready to assist in the ritual.

McGonagall had suggested that one of the other professors (like Professor Sprout) would be more suitable to the ritual, but Morticia insisted Hagrid had to be the fourth. Hagrid had a connection to Harry prior to the events of October 31st, 1981, and he had developed a relationship with Harry since then, where the other professors had yet to meet him. Additionally, they needed a male as part of the ritual. The only male that would be better for the ritual would be his god-father, if he had one.

Harry overheard that conversation. That’s when Harry got a scroll-note.

            Note to self: Sirius Black is my godfather and is innocent of the crimes he is accused. He was put in prison without a trial shortly after my parents died. I need to keep my emotions in check when people talk badly about him. I must remember that he is innocent and would never do anything to harm me. More information to come later. ~HJP

Harry absorbed that tidbit of information. He had a godfather who could not take him in after his parents died because the man was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And he didn’t have a trial. He wondered if there was any way to shed some light on his godfather’s situation in order to free him. Without more information, Harry would have to be patient.

He did ask Poppy if he had a godfather, but she replied, “I assume so, Mr. Potter, but I do know who it is. If you have one, I assume it is one of men your father was thick as thieves with during his time at Hogwarts. Pranksters the lot of them. So it was either Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, or Peter Pettigrew."

Harry was not allowed to eat anything on that Saturday, as he had to fast for the ritual. He was given his potions however. And then just as evening was setting, Morticia came to Harry’s bed carrying some white linen, a bucket of water and some wash cloths, and two potions. The most unusual aspect was that until now, Harry had only ever seen Morticia wear black. Today she was in a white linen robe and her feet were bare. He briefly noted that her toenails were painted the same color as her fingernails and her lips, blood red.

“Harry, it is time to prepare you for the ritual. I will give you the two potions, then I will bathe you. After the ritual, you have two more days of potions two finish up healing you. Well, two more days of potions from me that is. You have other medical issues that Madam Pomfrey needs to contend with.” She set her burdens down and handed Harry the first potion.

‘Ugh… that four color potion that tastes… crappy.’ Harry said to Stheno, then took the first potion.

“Remember, swish it around your mouth four times before you swallow it.” When Harry did as instructed, Morticia swapped vials with him. “This one will open up your magical pathways and allow us to excise the fragment within you. Take one swallow every ten seconds until the vial is empty.”

Harry looked at the vial in his hand. It looked… well, it looked like grape soda. And it looked like half a liter of liquid. This was going to take a while. Fortunately, it tasted like tart cherries with a twist of lemon. A definite improvement over too sweet or horrific tasting potions. So Harry spent the next twenty minutes taking six swallows a minute until the vial was empty. Afterwards he felt a bit drowsy, and yet full of energy at the same time.

“Very good, Harry. Now stand up, and let me disrobe and bathe you.” Harry stood up, and Morticia then quickly and efficiently removed his clothing leaving him bare to the occupants of the room, Morticia and Dilys. She then proceeded to bath him with the cold water. She was methodical and caring at the same time. Once again, Harry felt mothered. When Harry was clean, she used another cloth to dry him.

“Raise your arms over your head, Harry.” He complied and then she pulled the white linen robe over his head which covered everything from shoulders to elbows to knees. “Now we need to head down to the circle. The other three should be there already.”

When they arrived, indeed the other three were there and also wearing white robes. “Harry, you’re going to have stand for the next several hours or so. It is just now nine in the evening, and the first ritual will culminate at midnight. You have the easy job, all you have to do is stand there and remember to not leave the circle. I need to draw some blood for the rituals as well. This is likely to hurt.”

She picked up a small knife and drew it across his palm. And hurt it did, but after what Harry experience during his examination, this pain was barely worth having a reaction. After the blood dripped into a wooden chalice, Morticia staunched the bleeding in his hand. She handed him a vial and a stopper, and then picked up the chalice and left the circle.

“Remember Harry, place the stopper in the vial when the vial is full.”

Morticia then drew in the final parts of the circle with crushed salt, sealed it with some of her own blood, and took her spot at the south end of the circle. Hagrid was to the north, looking mighty odd to Harry in a white linen. Harry would never have guessed that Hagrid had hairy feet. McGonagall was standing to the west, and Pomfrey to the east, both looking strange to Harry as neither had their hair up in a bun. After turning in the circle to see everyone, Harry returned to facing Morticia in time to see her shake out her hair and let it drape in front of her shoulders.

“Let us begin. Oh goddess above and ancestors below…” Harry watched as the ritual took place. When the chant was done, Morticia flicked some blood from the chalice at Harry and the magic circle. Then everyone went around the circle in a slow procession one and a quarter turns counter-clockwise. When McGonagall was to the South, she then recited the incantation. When she was done, Morticia flicked some more blood at Harry and the circle, and the procession occurred again, and this time Hagrid performed the chant. And finally they turned one more time until Pomfrey was at the south and spoke her lines. They then repeated the cycle chanting and blood flicking.

With each recitation of the chant, Harry felt the pressure in his forehead behind his scar increase. It was as if each time they walked around the circle, a screw was tightening to apply more pressure to his head. By the time midnight rolled around, it was all Harry could do to remain standing and not vomit everywhere. That is when all four of them picked up small gongs and rang them. At that moment, Harry’s magic surged within him. It caused him to arch his back as he tilted his head to scream to the heavens. But no sound came out, just this whirlwind kaleidoscope of colors emitted from his body, and shot upwards into the sky, followed by wispy black smoke that poured out of his scar. The smoke briefly curled into the image of a man with a snake-like face that was contorted in pain. A painful wail was heard from the black, foul smoke as it was sucked into the vial that Morticia had prepared for Harry. The screaming stopped when Harry stoppered the vial to keep the smoke from escaping. Once free of the soul fragment, Harry’s magic surged once more bathing the participants in a soft eerie glow.

Morticia stopped Hagrid and the witches from moving with only a gesture of her hand. “We have one more ritual to complete before we break the circle. Harry has asked for a genealogical ritual to be performed. All that is required of everyone else is that they remain where they are. I will conduct the ritual using the remaining blood in the chalice.”

Mrs. Addams then pulled a couple of bolts of cloth (one black and the other red) and several spools of gold and silver thread and some needles from her carpet bag (the bag must have been bigger on the inside) which had been waiting down here for her when she was prepping Harry. She arranged the various materials and sprinkled them with the remains of Harry’s blood. Once that was done, she then turned to the circle and performed the ritual. It took all of five minutes for her to complete her portion of the ritual, and then the materials she set out moved and began to flow together. It took another two hours for the magic to stop manipulating the materials, when that was done, a large tapestry had been created.

“Poppy, please break the circle and tend to Harry,” instructed Morticia. She then snapped her fingers and the tapestry rolled itself up into a nice tight cylinder. She handed that off to Hagrid, and then went about cleaning up the supplies and the circle itself. Meanwhile Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall were tending to Harry. When Poppy completed casting her diagnostic spells, she reported, “Everything checks out. No more fragment to interfere with Harry’s magic, and the excessive drain to his magic has been rectified.”

“Excellent. We may now all return to the castle and examine Harry’s genealogy,” stated Morticia.

 

A Tree for the Ages


Harry noticed everything was very blurry. He thought his glasses must have gotten steamy or some sort of smudges on them. After he took them off, he discovered things weren’t as blurry as he expected. In fact, everything was just slightly blurry and his glasses were clean. As the others led Harry to the hospital wing, he quickly used his A.R.M. to look at his P.I.S.C.I.S. and decided to correct his vision to perfect with some better range clarity by spending some improvement points.

After arriving in the hospital wing, Hagrid had hung the tapestry on the wall, and commented “That is one mighty big tree.” He excused himself because he had to go take care of Fang and some of his other duties before trying to get some sleep.

Harry and the other witches examined his tree. The left half was black with the silver thread and held his father’s side of the tree and the right half was red with the gold thread and held his mother’s side of the tree. The tapestry was immense.

Morticia commented, “Not even the Addams tapestry goes back that many generations. Harry has an immense reserve of power for the ritual to have generated a tree of this size, even if you consider the residual magic from the previous ritual. And then to generate all the limbs and branches going back down for his cousins, it is a magnificent tree.”

“Mrs. Addams, is this acromantula silk, and actual gold and silver used as threading?” ask Minerva.

“Only the father’s side is acromantula silk, colored with dye made from dragon bile and crushed onyx, to make it a true black. The mother’s side is a sateen woven from Veela hair dyed with mermaid blood and crushed ruby to give it that wonderful lasting color of fresh blood. And the threads are indeed gold and silver with a core unicorn foal hair to keep it supple.”

For once, McGonagall’s unflappable nature was indeed flapped, and stood there looking stunned. Pomfrey blinked slowly several times, unable to form coherent thoughts for the moment.

“That sounds awfully expensive, Morticia.”

“Correct, Harry. No expense is too great for a cousin of mine. Oh, look. There are Gomez and I, and my children, Pugsley and Wednesday, and my Maman and Papa.” Tracing a finger back up the tree, “Hmm. It looks like you can trace your ancestry back to the time of the Egyptian Dynasties. If I am not mistaken, that name looks like one of the daughters of Khufu, and yes, there is the name of Khufu. How nice of the magic to write the names in their native hieroglyphs.”

Minerva stared at where Morticia was pointing, and said, “That’s not even the farthest back the tree goes. It looks like it goes back another thirty or so generations. I don’t even recognize the writing method used for some of them.” Harry noted some of them were written in what he assumed was the Divine Language. He also noted that the names would alternate between the Divine Language of snakes and the native tongue writing system for the individual in question, and English. No one seemed to notice that but him. He would have to ask Stheno or Morticia about that later.

“True. No wonder it took a little over two hours to create the tapestry. Most of the time they are created in under fifteen minutes. I’m happy that I brought as much cloth and thread as I did. This tapestry used all the cloth. I wonder if that is perhaps a limiting factor. Instead of the tapestry being limited by Harry’s magic, it might be that I didn’t bring enough materials.” She crossed her arms and tapped her foot as she thought about that.

“Why is it red and black, Morticia?”

“Well, I chose those colors based on the color of your parents hair to honor them. Admittedly, neither were a true black or a blood red in their hair color. Their hair was just the inspiration for the color scheme.”

“Where am I going to keep it safe? If I have to go back to my relatives, they would probably destroy it. And I don’t think it will fit inside my trunk.”

“Well, you have a couple of options, Harry. You could take it to Gringotts and store it for a small fee, if you don’t already have a vault for such things. Or you could entrust it to Gomez and myself until such time as you feel you are ready for it. It is your choice, but I would ask that you entrust it to us, so that I may examine and research your tree at my leisure. There are parts that I want to add to the Addams tapestry. Additionally, I can take the time to cast protective spells upon the tapestry to prevent damage.”

“Oh. I think that would work best. Could you transcribe it into a book while you are at it? That way I could look at my family tree as well, without having to drag the tapestry around.”

“That is an excellent idea.”

“Um, Morticia? Have you and the others had a chance to examine that vase that Gomez mentioned the other day?”

“Oh, yes. We did. Even Professor McGonagall had a peek, though it was not her area of expertise.”

“What did you discover?”

“Somehow, someone wishing you harm was able to get that vase smuggled into your house. I believe they used some sort of charm on your uncle’s sister in order to get her to deliver it as a gift. The vase had a charm on it to make sure your family wouldn’t dispose of it, as well as one to protect it from damage. Gomez has a talent for breaking the unbreakable. It was also cursed with dark magic that would have driven your family to kill you, and probably each other, if it hadn’t been for the blood wards on you and your house preventing that from happening.”

“Well, good riddance then.”

“Would you like to keep the vase shards?”

“No thank you.”

“May Gomez and I keep them?”

“Um… Alright. Why did you place the soul fragment within the vial?”

Morticia’s lips curled into a satisfied, slightly sadistic smile and bent to whisper in Harry’s ear, “Two reasons. The first is that your nemesis has created multiple fragments, and that vial will assist you in tracking them down with sympathetic rituals and charms, should you care to do so. The second was that I thought you might like a souvenir, however temporary, to play with. The torment one can inflict when they possess a piece of someone’s soul is quite terrifyingly delicious.”

 

Separation Anxiety


After a few hours of sleep, Harry was awoken in order to take more potions, some of which were from Morticia, who indicated they were to repair any damage and help stabilize his magic and soul in the aftermath of the ritual. The rest were from Madam Pomfrey, since the soul fragment and blood wards were no longer able to interfere with her treating the issues caused by malnutrition, negligence, and the last instance of accidental magic.

Harry was informed that Gomez and Morticia would be staying the week to monitor his recovery and provide the finishing potions. Harry was happy to hear that, in it gave him time to get to know his cousins better.

After breakfast, Gomez offered to help Harry with his meditation, and insisted on teaching Harry how to meditate while standing on his head. Gomez demonstrated by standing on his head and reading the paper upside down. Gomez also offered him an after breakfast cigar, which Harry politely declined. Gomez lit his cigar by will alone, and shortly after Gomez was dressed down by Madam Pomfrey for polluting her infirmary.

Morticia would discuss herbology and potion making with Harry, and said she’d send him a couple of books on the ‘proper’ way to prepare the ingredients, as well as how different potencies can be achieved by substituting alternative ingredients (like using extract of belladonna instead of thistle milk). This caused him to rethink his prior stance on herbology and the trait ‘Green Thumb’.

Gomez would discuss arithmancy, runes and magical theory with Harry. He was partial towards magics that made things go ‘boom’. Harry asked if he might visit their house before the start of term, or over the holidays. The Adams couple were overjoyed that he would consider it, but they had their hopes dashed. Madam Pomfrey would not be letting Harry out of her clutches until the school year started, and they were unsure they could get his guardian’s permission to let him come to America.

“But… The Dursleys would be happy to be rid of me, Morticia!”

“They weren’t the guardian to whom we were referring, Harry. The person who placed those blood wards had to have the permission of your magical guardian or they themselves are your magical guardian. It is a rather antiquated practice here in Britain that all wizarding children must have a full-fledged wizard or witch as their guardian regarding things magical. That includes who the child lives with, and where the child is allowed to travel, and who they might stay with for extended periods. Some sort of drivel pushed by the pure-blood political agenda, I assure you, as first-born magicals get no say in who is their magical guardian.”

“That’s so disappointing.”

“That’s the spirit!” Gomez chimed in happily.

Harry meditated on his bed in the lotus position after lunch. During which he had a conversation with Stheno about things he had felt were different within his magic, and she told him that the nature and flow of his magic was shifting because it was no longer affected adversely. Harry mentioned this to Gomez, who was performing a headstand and reading the Daily Prophet next to Harry’s bed. Gomez chewed on his unlit cigar a bit.

“Let’s consult Morticia. It is probably expected behavior, but one never knows for sure unless one asks!”

And it was indeed expected behavior. One that may well require Harry to find another wand. Given how hard it was for Harry to find his first wand, this news was exceedingly depressing to him. Which of course delighted the macabre couple. Harry really didn’t want to give up his wand for another, since it had felt so ‘right’ in his hand when he purchased it. He wanted to try it again, but was told that he still couldn’t perform any magic until the day after Morticia’s final potion had been ingested.

So, to pass the time, Harry spent time talking to Stheno, Gomez, Morticia, Hagrid, Hedwig and the painting of Dilys (and whoever came to visit her frame), as well as meditating and voraciously reading books from the library.

In talking with Stheno, it was she who asked, ‘Why have you stopped using the Divine Language when talking to me, mortal?’

‘I wasn’t aware I had. That reminds me of something I meant to talk to you about.’ Harry brought up his Parselmouth ability in the A.R.M. ‘Here it is. Parselmouth is no longer active. Previously it was both active and inactive as a hereditary trait. Why was that?’

‘My guess is that your uninvited guest was actually causing it to be active, but now that he is gone, the ability went back to being dormant.’

‘Well, let me fix that.’ And so Harry fixed the Parselmouth ability by reactivating it. He also noted that the hindered abilities Rune Adept and Born Charmer were no longer hindered. The first would give him an intuitive feel for Runes, and the second would make casting charms both easier and more adaptable. Looking at some of the other dormant traits, he decided to activate Intuitive Potioner, Blood Magus, Transcendental Transfiguration, and Soothing Healer. Intuitive Potioner and Transcendental Transfiguration seemed the most immediately useful, as well as useful for learning more advanced skills. Blood Magus sounded interesting, but he wasn’t sure if it would be useful with the Ministry Ban on blood magic. Soothing Healer looked like it might be useful if he ever learnt any healing spells. Maybe Madam Pomfrey would teach him some when he was older.

With his eidetic memory and speed reading (which Harry added another four increments to the reading boost, giving him a seventeen times reading speed), he was already reading through third and fourth year course books and able to recite the information verbatim. But with that he was gaining greater understanding of how the different disciplines of magic interconnected, because he was also reading outside of the required curriculum as well. And on top of that, he was trying to learn Greek from Stheno (late at night when he was alone and she could come out of the book), and French from Morticia, both of which he was absorbing rapidly due to being a polyglot. However, he also felt a sort of déjà vu sensation when trying to learn the written portion of the languages, as if he somehow already knew how to read them.

While he had found ways to claim books for his personal library, add protections against theft, and create a self-updating indexing book, he still hadn’t figured out how to make his library readable through just one book or his A.R.M. As he couldn’t use magic to claim his books, he supposed that is why the A.R.M. function was not working. He felt on the verge of a breakthrough, but it was annoyingly just out of reach.

When the week was up, Professor McGonagall came by to talk with Harry.

“Mr. Potter, given that your uncle has requested that you not return home before school starts, and Madam Pomfrey’s insistence that you need more supervised care, you will be staying at Hogwarts until the start of term. I will be taking you to King’s Cross Station to catch the Hogwarts Express with the other first years on the first of September. This is so you have a chance to interact with them, and the older students, before being sorted into houses, as we wish to encourage cross house friendships before the house rivalries, and, quite frankly, house prejudices of the older students, begin coloring your view of the other students.”

“Professor, will I be going back to Diagon Alley that same day to have Mr. Ollivander check my wand’s synergy with my magic?”

“About that. I had wanted one of the other professors, or Hagrid, to take you to Diagon Alley during the next two weeks, but they are all very busy with start of term preparations or on holiday before the term starts. I cannot ask the headmaster about this until next week when he returns, but he will be very busy himself during the final week before term starts. Even Madam Pomfrey is going to be very busy with stocking the infirmary, since caring for you has put a bit of a dent in her available time and supplies.”

“Given how my last visit went with the people in the Leaky Cauldron, I can understand why I shouldn’t go alone,” Harry said rather disappointedly. Then he had an idea, and looked back up hopefully. “What about Gomez and Morticia? Could they take me before they return home?”

Professor McGonagall’s years of practice at being unflappable nearly kept the horror that idea provoked from her face. Just a slight hint of it showed. “I had not considered that option. I shall have to ask and seek guarantees of your safe return.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

“One final item, Mr. Potter. You’re cleared to visit Hagrid at his hut, as long as you promise not to deviate from the most direct path between this bed, and Hagrid’s hut.”

“Oh, thank you! I promise to keep to the most direct route.”

“Then I shall inform Madame Pomfrey. You can owl Hagrid with the news.” With that, Professor McGonagall left the infirmary.

‘This is good, young mortal. Exercise will help stabilize your magic.’

‘Really? What kind of exercise would you suggest?’

‘Walking is a good start. Some daily calisthenics would help as well. I would suggest weapons training, but I do not know who would be a good teacher.’

‘Why weapons training?’

‘The flow of motion in the body used in weapons training helps with the flow of your magic.’

‘Would a martial art be as useful?’

‘I just suggested the martial arts.’

‘… I meant unarmed martial training, like boxing or judo.’

Stheno thought that over for a bit. ‘Yes, I believe the unarmed combat arts would be beneficial as well. Though I still do not know how to find you a good teacher.’

‘Maybe Gomez and Morticia might have some suggestions.’

A short while later, Professor McGonagall returned with Mrs. Addams. “Mr. Potter, Mr. and Mrs. Addams have graciously agreed to delay their return home to take you to Diagon Alley tomorrow. I expect you to be on your best behavior and listen to their directions while you are out of the castle.”

Harry nodded and Morticia continued, “We have agreed to the outing, and have permission to take you to lunch in London once our excursion to Diagon Alley is complete. Gomez and I will have you back in the castle in time for your evening meal.”

“I think I will need my vault key from Hagrid, so I can make sure I have enough money for a new wand.”

Morticia raised an eyebrow, “I think you should retrieve your key as well. We will be leaving just after breakfast, so dress appropriately.”

Harry wondered why Morticia seemed disapproving of Hagrid being in possession of his vault key, but thought he should ask about that tomorrow when he was out and about with her.

 

Fanged to Death


Harry had sent Hedwig with a message to Hagrid about having tea that afternoon, to which Hagrid responded that he’d be delighted, since it would be his last chance to talk to Harry before the start of term. So that afternoon, Harry came down to Hagrid’s hut and before he could reach the door, he was bowled over by an oversized, black, barking, slobbering boarhound. The dog was licking his face and ears when Hagrid appeared from around the back of the hut.

“What’s the matter, Fang? Oi! Get off o’ him Fang! That’s jus’ Harry, now let him get up.” Hagrid pulled Fang off of Harry with one hand, and pick Harry up with the other. “Don’ mind him, Harry. Fang’s jus’ excited ter meet new people.”

Harry tried to clean the slobber off of himself, but it just seemed to spread it around more. Hagrid invited him in, and put hot water in the pot, and some rock cakes on the table. After Harry sat down, Fang laid his head on Harry’s knee where Harry could absently scratch his ears.

Once tea was served, they had some general talk about Fang, the forbidden forest, the giant squid in the lake, and the weather. Harry then asked, “Hagrid, could I have my vault key? Due to the ritual, the quality and flow of my magic has changed, and I may need to get a new wand. I’m being taken to Diagon Alley tomorrow.”

“Huh. I hadn’ thought o’ that. I suppose it makes sense that yer magic would shift after summat’ like that. I don’ suppose it would do any harm.” Hagrid then searched through the many pockets of his coat for the key. “I was goin’ to give it to Dumbledore when he returned from his I.C.W. meetin’.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because Dumbledore had it in safe keepin’ ‘til yeh had need of it. Recovered it from yer parent’s home myself.” Hagrid found the key after emptying half the pockets of his coat and handed it over to Harry.

“What else did you recover from their house?”

“Besides you? Um, their bodies, their trunks, and any personal effects that I could find. Gave it all ter Dumbledore fer safe keepin’. He said he put it all in yer family vault. Yeh can access that when yer seventeen.”

“Oh.” Harry was dejected that he couldn’t access those things now. He would have liked to have a picture of his parents so he would know what they looked like. “Did my family vault have keys?”

Hagrid thought for bit, “Dunno. The Potter family is an old one. Not sure if the old ones have keys as such. Could be a high security vault as well. Dunno how one accesses those without a goblin.”

“You mean like the one you visited while we were at Gringotts?”

“Yeah… like that one.”

“Hey Hagrid, I read in the Daily Prophet that Gringotts had a break in the same day we were there. The goblins say that the vault in question was emptied earlier that day. Do you think it was the same one from your errand?”

Hagrid looked quite uncomfortable and wouldn’t look Harry in the eye. “Dunno. Have a rock cake and some more tea.” The rock cakes had to be liberally soaked in tea to become soft enough for Harry to eat them. They tasted just fine. They were just very hard to chew.

Before Harry finally left (with pockets filled with rock cakes) he was once again knocked down by Fang, who slobbered all over him before Hagrid could pull the dog off and send Harry on his way.

Chapter Text

A New Wand


As promised, after breakfast, the Addams couple took Harry shopping. They arrived at the Leaky Cauldron by floo travel. Gomez arrived first, with a graceful exit of a somersault, handspring and landing on his feet without a speck of ash upon him. Harry was ejected from the fireplace, bashing his knee on the grate, tumbling across the floor and coming to a stop in an upside down position against a bench, covered in soot. Morticia regally stepped out of the fireplace, as if the usual grime of floo travel wouldn’t consider besmirching her appearance and stood there looking at Harry with a raised eyebrow.

“Up we go, Harry!” Gomez grabbed Harry by his rope belt and effortlessly hauled him up to his feet.

“This will not do, Gomez. We shall have to outfit our cousin as befits his status as family. Unless he prefers the beggar fashion.”

“Quite right, Morticia.” Gomez was now using a brush he pulled from his pocket to clean all the soot and ash from Harry’s clothes. Despite his apparent rough handling, his touch was quite gentle and the cleaning quite thorough.

“We’ll have to attend to that first, then. London should have the appropriate haberdasher.” She placed a well-manicured nail against her lip. “Ah yes. Cousin Tweedle has a shop in Knightsbridge. He should do nicely, and we haven’t seen him since Pugsley’s eighth birthday.”

“Superb! Come now Harry, off to find a taxi.” And so the Gomez and Morticia led Harry out into London.

Harry was informed that he would have a completely filled wardrobe trunk (one that was top of the line with secret compartments, expanded space charms, could transform into and actual wardrobe, and high security locks and wards keyed to Harry) delivered by the end of the week. Harry was unsure if he was allowed to have two trunks, but thought he might be able to fit his school things and other trunk within the wardrobe trunk if it came down to it. He tried to get Gomez to agree let him pay for the purchases from his vault at Gringotts, but the Addams couple wouldn’t hear of it. Upon parting, Tweedle said, “Remember, Cousin Harry, if you need to exchange wizarding galleons for British pounds, or vice versa, come see me and I’ll give you the family discount on exchange rates.”

They returned to the Leaky Cauldron a couple of hours later, with Harry wearing a dark green pinstripe suit (to match his eyes) with shiny shoes and matching tie and bowler, carrying an umbrella. Once they passed through the wall (Harry remembered how to open the wall behind the pub), Harry asked, “Morticia, why did you seem displeased yesterday when I said Hagrid had my vault key?”

Harry noticed that people seemed to be staring at Morticia and Gomez rather than himself and his forehead.

“Ah. I wasn’t displeased with Hagrid, if that is what you are thinking. I was displeased that you didn’t have the key already. Many wizards are lax with their dealing with goblins, Harry. You must learn not to be. They do not look favorably upon a wizard that lends their vault keys to another. And you should have been given your trust key on your eleventh birthday at the latest. Make sure to keep it in your possession, and do not allow others to hold it from now on, unless that person is your spouse.”

“Ah. What else should I know about goblins?”

“Well,” Gomez replied, “you should give them a bow when they bow to you. You should only bow to them first if you are approaching them for a favor of some kind. Otherwise, don’t bow to them. Always treat them as equals. Most wizards, especially here in Britain, look down upon them. Remember that they are fierce warriors of cunning and honor. Just don’t assume that what humans consider honorable is the same as what a goblin considers honorable. Cara Bella, we have a book on goblin customs we could lend Harry, don’t we?”

“Oui, Mon Cher.”

“Tish, that’s French!” Gomez, with a mad look in his eye, immediately tossed away his cigar and started kissing Morticia’s nearest hand, working his way up her arm until he reached her elbow, where she stopped him imperiously with her other hand.

“Later, darling. We have a schedule to keep.”

Gomez restrained his passions with a brief shake of his body, and said, “Right. Onward to Gringotts!”

Once they reached the doors of the bank, and the guards bowed to them, and the witch and two wizards bowed back. If the guards were surprised to get such courtesy, their expressions did not show it. They entered through the open doors, and when they reached the teller Morticia spoke to him in Gobbledegook while Gomez translated for Harry. “She’s asking that you be given access to your vault. He’s asking if you have your key. That’s your cue to present your key.”

Harry presented his key, and goblin looked at it, giving a nod. “Now he’s saying all appears in order, and is summoning another goblin to take us to your vault.”

Harry was given a small wallet by Gomez to put his money in once they were down in the vault. “This will allow you to carry a fair sum without it jingling about or bulging your pockets. It also has separators to allow you to keep monies from different countries organized, and anti-theft charms. It’s an Addams’ specialty, made by Cousin Berthoud who lives in Austria.”

They quickly returned, and then Morticia had some more business to attend to with the goblins. “Come on Harry, this will take a bit. Morticia will catch up, so why don’t we find out what trouble we can get into?”

Gomez immediately walked the pair down into Knockturn Alley. The hags and other unsavory sorts recognized the threat represented by Gomez Addams either by instinct or body language, and left the pair well alone. “The thing you need to remember, Harry, is to have confidence when walking down alleyways. If you appear nervous or act like you don’t belong, people pick up on that. So, not matter what you do, act with confidence, even if you don’t feel confident. Oh, this looks like an interesting store.”

They walked into Borgin and Burke’s. Gomez took Harry around and discussed several of the items with him. Once the store clerk came to the counter, Gomez immediately started asking the prices of thing, and actually haggling the price up instead of down. He bought a cabinet, a cursed necklace, a hand of glory, several books, several knives, and few shrunken heads. “That one reminds me of Cousin Otis, except his head is still on his shoulders.” After arrangements for delivery were made, with Gomez promising to have his man come by in two days to pick things up, the pair left and headed back to Diagon Alley.

“Did you see that cabinet I just purchased? I saw one just like it in your school. I wonder if I can get the headmaster to part with it so I can have the set. They both have the same runic patterns, which is rather interesting, wouldn’t you say? Uncle Fester and Thing should get a kick out of the Hand of Glory. I think the necklace will fascinate the women in family, too. And well, knives are good for everyone and every occasion!”

Morticia arrived when they reached Diagon Alley. “Gomez, darling, would you fill Mama’s apothecary list? I’ll take Harry to get his wand examined.”

“Of course, querida mia. We’ll meet and that quaint pub, then head to lunch afterwards.”

The pair kissed briefly.

“Gomez, would you also get me a few blank books, please?”

“Of course, Harry!”

Harry and Morticia made their way to the wand maker while Gomez went the other direction.

“I’ve always wanted to meet an Ollivander. Their family is considered among the best wand makers in Europe, and the best in Britain,” commented Morticia as they entered the narrow shop as the doorbell tinkling as they did.

This time Harry wasn’t surprised when the old man seemed to appear from nowhere. Speaking in a soft voice, “Ah, Mr. Potter. Back so soon? You didn’t damage your wand, did you? And, who is this with you today? I am sure I haven’t sold her a wand.”

“Mr. Ollivander, this is my cousin, Mrs. Morticia Addams. She’s from America and is acting as my chaperone today. And my wand isn’t damaged. Morticia, this is Mr. Ollivander. I’m sorry, I don’t know your first name, sir.”

Ollivander’s wide, pale eyes shrewdly examined Mrs. Addams, as her dark blue ones shrewdly examined him in return. He eventually took her hand, and bent over her knuckles. “A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Addams. I am Garrick Ollivander, wand maker, at your service.”

“The pleasure is mine, Mr. Ollivander. I am the current matriarch of the Addams family.” Morticia gracefully curtseyed.

“Now that the introductions are out of the way, what brings you to my shop today?”

“Harry’s magic has undergone a fundamental change, and we need to make sure that his wand is still in resonance, or get him another that is.”

“Fundamental change? Quite unusual at his age, yes?” Ollivander was peering intently at Harry, which he still found disconcerting. “I presume you have your wand with you? May I examine it?”

Harry pulled the wand out of his inner jacket pocket and handed it to him. After a couple of minutes of looking at the wand, and back at Harry, he gave it back to Harry. “Give it a swish.” Harry did as requested, and the same red and gold sparks came out, but this time it was weaker than before.

“Yes, I see. Well, fortunately for you, phoenix feather wands bond to their owners, and will still work under such circumstances. However, it is now a poor match for you. We shall have to get you another wand then.” Ollivander seemed almost gleeful at the prospect. “I wonder if your changes will make you more or less difficult to find a matching wand. Wand arm out, Mr. Potter.” Ollivander set the measuring tape off and measuring Harry again. Harry suspected it wasn’t just measuring physical attributes as the man bustled about collecting some wands.

“I suspect more difficult,” said Morticia.

“Indeed. Let us hope so, as I do enjoy a challenge. That should be enough.” The measuring tape fell to the floor. He then set about pulling wands out of boxes and having Harry give them a swish, and half the time not even letting Harry do more than grasp the wand. It seemed they had gone through most of the wands in the store. “You are indeed a very tricky customer. Perhaps… Yes, I think that I must. A custom wand will have to be made.” Ollivander appeared over the moon at the prospect. “I shall have to reach out beyond the standard materials I think. I’ll need a week, or two at most.”

“That will be inconvenient for Harry. No one is available to bring him around before start of term to test the wands.”

“That isn’t a problem. I can visit Mr. Potter after shop hours to test out the wands. Where do you reside, Mr. Potter?”

“He’ll be staying at Hogwarts until start of term, under the care of Madam Pomfrey.”

“Well then, that explains the changes in his affinity. I’ll be seeing you in about a week, Mr. Potter with some wands for you to try out.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ollivander,” said Harry.

‘Mortal,’ Stheno whispered to Harry’s mind. ‘Remember to not become reliant on tools. No matter how useful the tool, it can be taken away or broken. Rely on yourself, foremost.’

 

A Fencing Lesson Extraordinaire


After meeting up at the Leaky Cauldron, Gomez and Morticia took Harry out to have lunch. “I hope you like Indian food, Harry. My man down in SoHo runs an Indian restaurant.”

“I’ve never had Indian food before. My uncle doesn’t like ‘foreign’ food.”

“Foreign he says? Indian food has been a staple of English cuisine for nearly three centuries! What an excellent and stubborn sense of traditionalism!” exclaimed Gomez, who apparently could find something ‘good’ about everyone.

Gomez greeted the owner like an old friend. The owner showed the party of three to a private dining room, and waited on them personally. The meal was superb as far as Harry was concerned. Gomez insisted on everything from the menu and some things that weren’t so that Harry could sample everything. Harry didn’t like everything, but most things he would gladly order again.

While they had dessert, Harry asked, “Do you know of anyone who can teach me martial combat?”

Gomez and Morticia looked at each other, and Gomez responded, “Why of course! Myself. What weapon would you like to learn to use?”

“Gomez, he might have meant unarmed combat.”

“Oh, right. Well in that case Uncle Fester would be best!”

“No, either or both would be good. It is my understanding that learning to move my body in such a way will help with the flow of my magic.”

Morticia raised an eyebrow. “That would be correct, Harry. You would need to practice daily for at least a year to truly see any benefit.”

“I can do that. However, if you are leaving tomorrow, you wouldn’t be able to teach me much.”

“Nonsense! I can teach you the basics and that is all you need for your purposes. Let’s start now!” Gomez had a maniacal gleam in his eye. “Grab your umbrella. Tish, may I borrow your parasol? Thank you, Cara Mia.” And with that, Gomez taught Harry the basic forms of fencing, and was amazed at how quickly Harry picked up the basics and could repeat the forms perfectly after just a few demonstrations. “He’s a natural, Tish!”

Morticia was watching the impromptu lesson very carefully, eyes narrowed with suspicion and curiosity. After Harry had the forms, Gomez immediately set to sparring with him, and there Harry had some difficulty, as he was quite adept at avoiding unarmed attacks thanks to Dudley, but weapons were a different kettle of fish. Morticia relaxed a bit upon seeing Harry’s amateur combat techniques, though he did learn quite quickly.

When two hours had passed, Morticia called a halt to the devastation being wrecked in the dining room. “We need to start heading back in order to get Harry back on time.” She started smartening up Harry after his exercise. She whispered, “Good, no serious bruising. I presume your book of poetry had something to do with your adroitness at learning?”

“Yes. While it could have made me a ‘master’ of the art, I felt it best to actually learn it the hard way. I just gave myself advantages in speeding up the learning process.”

“Very wise. Remember to practice for an hour a day the basic forms if you want to see any benefit from the exercise. I’m sure Gomez and I can arrange to teach you the more advanced techniques later.”

“Yes, I will.”


Have at Thee, Villains!


After Gomez paid for the meal, and subsequent destruction of the dining room, which the owner was not at all upset about, the three left the restaurant for a leisurely walk back to the Leaky Cauldron. The discussion was light, and involved several anecdotes regarding Uncle Fester’s and Grand Mama’s antics.

Along the way, Harry heard muffled screams. He ran off without a word in search of the source of the screams. Gomez said, “I wonder what he’s up to?”

“I believe he is investigating the screams.”

“Oh! Let’s follow and watch his fun. And make sure he doesn’t wind up dead.”

Harry arrived to see five thugs accosting three teen girls. They were in the process of feeling up the young ladies and getting ready to do more, when Harry shouted, “Unhand them, Varlets!”

The five thugs looked over at Harry, and started laughing. “Varlets? You think this is a play? Get lost kid or get hurt.”

“I said unhand them,” Harry said as he advanced with his umbrella in hand.

“Now why’d we do that?” questioned another thug.

“You heard us. Scram!”

“Oh, you’ll attack three unarmed girls, but one armed boy has you scared?” Harry taunted, brandishing his umbrella like he was taught, and wondering where the bravado was coming from.

“Tha’s it, yer dun fer.” The nearest thug advanced on Harry, and when he got in range, Harry stabbed him in the groin with the umbrella, flicked upwards hitting him in the chin, then thrust again into the thug’s navel, followed by a smack to the back of the head, causing the thug curl up in pain.

Harry then took the en garde position and said, “Who wants to play next?” Gomez and Morticia arrived at the end of the Alley in time to watch the mayhem unfold.

One of the thugs passed a girl to another so the second was holding two girls. That allowed two thugs came after Harry this time. Harry was only told how to handle multiple attackers, and wasn’t sure how to proceed, but remembered to hold the middle of the alley in order to keep from being flanked. One of the thugs had a bat, and the other a knife. Harry decided the one with reach needed to be dealt with first. He lunged and struck the wrist holding the bat and giving a twist with the umbrella disarmed the thug, and then concentrated on the knife wielder while the first thug held his wrist in shock.

Chaos then ensued as Harry used the bat wielder as a shield from the knife wielder and positioned himself to attack the two men holding the girls. He had noticed the Addams couple at the one end of the Alley behind him, and was trying to work his way behind the men holding the girls. He had almost succeeded when the one holding only one girl lashed out and kicked Harry, knocking him down. The two men free of girls pounced, but Harry’s brief training at being assaulted by Gomez allowed him to recover, and roll away and get back into an en garde position at the other end of the alley.

The two were more wary this time. Harry leapt up and bounced off the wall and onto the bin next to him where he then vaulted over the two combatants to the two thugs holding the girls. He thrust the point of his umbrella into the solar plexus of the man holding two girls, then stabbed the instep of the other. This caused them to let go of the girls, and when they did, Harry commanded, “Run!” Harry then rolled to the side and disarmed the knife wielder, at which point Gomez joined the fray while the girls ran to Morticia.

“Good man! It looked like so much fun I couldn’t just watch anymore!” Between Harry with his umbrella and Gomez with the abandoned bat, they were able to quickly route the thugs and had them running away dragging their downed companions with them. Harry straightened his suit which was torn and dirty in few places. As they walked back to Morticia, Gomez exclaimed, “Well done! We’ll get you battling ten to fifteen by yourself in no time, Harry!”

One of the girls, a teen of medium height with a slim build, long, brown, curly hair, brown eyes, a cute perky nose and dressed in a light pink summer dress, looked closely at Harry. “You! I know you! You live on Privet Drive in Little Whinging!”

Startled, Harry looked more closely at the girl and responded, “Yes. I do. I’ve seen you before. You live on Wisteria Walk.”

The teenager suddenly grabbed Harry in a hug and kissed his cheek. “Thank you!” Not to be outdone, the next girl grabbed him and kissed him on the lips. She was also of medium height, with modest curves, honey blond hair in a pixie cut, soft brown eyes, a pointed nose, and slightly pointed ears. She was wearing yellow shorts and a white short sleeved blouse. Harry heard a ding he recognized as coming from the book when he got kissed and was about to ask Stheno about it, when the third girl grabbed him, kissed him, and rudely shoved her tongue into his mouth. Harry heard another two dings as the older girl gave him a French kiss. He was unable to respond to the second kiss, as he was too surprised by the first kiss to properly register it. The third girl was taller (all of them were taller than Harry) and was a bit bottom heavy for her build, had shoulder length feathered black hair, hazel eyes, a smattering of freckles, and was wearing a plaid blouse and blue jean skirt.

The first girl pulled the third off of Harry. “Stop snogging him so he can breathe, Eddy!” She turned to Harry and said, “My name is Elizabeth Forest, this is Charisse Wright, and the one who was trying to clean your tonsils is Edith Billings. Please, call me Betty.”

“Call me Eddy. And call me Edith again, I’ll brain ya, ya tramp,” the third girl said to the first.

Betty said, “Not during introductions I won’t. And who’re you calling a tramp, slag?”

“Now, now, girls… no cat fighting in front of the hero,” said Charisse. “Please, call me Reesy.”

“Nice to meet you ladies. I’m Harry Potter. These are my cousins, Gomez Addams and his wife Morticia.”

“Are you going to Stonewall High this year, Harry? We’re starting our fourth year there.”

“Ah, no. I was supposed to start there, but I got a scholarship to school in Scotland, and term starts September First. I’m just down in London with my cousins to do some last minute shopping.”

“Aw. I was hoping we’d be in school together for a few years. Hey, we can always write to each other and see you next summer!” Betty pulled out a piece of paper and a pen from her purse, and wrote her name, address and phone number on it, only to have Reesy pull it out of her hands to do the same. Reesy then made Eddy do so as well before handing the paper to Harry.

Morticia, ever the voice of reason, “Ladies, it is getting a bit late. King’s Cross Station isn’t far. Would you like us to walk with you?”

The girls readily agreed, and spend time talking with Harry. Eddy asked, “I remember you now… don’t you usually dress like a homeless person in oversized ugly clothing?”

“Oh. I live with my aunt and uncle and those are my cousin Dudley’s old hand me downs. My cousins here bought me some nice clothing of my own.”

“Your cousin,” mused Reesy. “He’s the big, fat kid that goes around with four or five other kids bullying people?”

“Yes, that’s Dudley.”

“How much older than you is he?”

“About a month and a half.”

“And he’s that big? Is he going to be going to Stonewall High?” asked Betty worriedly.

“Ah, no. He’s going to Smeltings Academy.”

“Whew! I thought for sure we’d have to deal with him during school.”

Once they reached King’s cross station, each girl gave Harry another kiss on the lips (no tongue this time and Betty’s kiss game generated a chime), and promised to write him back if he wrote them first. After they were safely on the train, Harry was led back to the Leaky Cauldron.

“Querida, looks like we have another lady killer in the family!”

“Magnifique, Mon Cher.”

Gomez tossed away another cigar, “Tish, you spoke French!” Then he started kissing up her arm again. She didn’t stop him until he reached her shoulder.

Harry hoped they were talking about him figuratively.


Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow


After flooing back to the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, where Harry made spectacular slide across the floor, Morticia cleaned him up and repaired his suit. They returned to the hospital wing at the designated time for Harry to take some potions and get the once over from Madam Pomfrey who tutted about his bruises.

“The bruises are a result of some rough housing between Gomez and Harry. Nothing serious or we would have come directly back.”

“I see. So how did the wand assessment go?”

“His current wand is still functional, but only because of the phoenix core. Mr. Ollivander was delighted that he couldn’t find a wand in his shop that suited Harry now. So he’ll be creating a custom wand for Harry, which will require Mr. Ollivander to visit him in the evenings or the mornings to try out some new creations,” reported Morticia

“Really? From what I’ve heard, the last custom wand made by Ollivanders was made by Garrick’s father.”

“Indeed.”

Poppy brought dinner around and the Addams couple ate with Harry. After dinner, Morticia asked, “Is there anything you’d like to ask us before we leave, Harry?”

“If I can get my magical guardian to agree, can I visit you during the winter holidays, or over the summer?”

“Of course you can, Harry!” And Gomez gave him a hearty slap on the shoulder.

“Gomez, you said ‘your man’ would come buy and pick up your purchases. Is he the restaurant owner?”

“Hah! I know people all over the world, Harry. But this time I meant our butler, Lurch. We’ll ship him over here to collect the purchases and ship him back afterwards.”

“Do you have to floo to get from here to America?”

“No, the networks don’t connect across the ocean, and the U.S. administration refuses to service our house for some strange reason. We have to use a portkey. That’s an object that’s enchanted to move you from one specified destination to another.”

“Thanks for telling me how to address and post mail to America, and how to get wizarding mail to connect with non-wizarding mail system.”

“You are welcome. We’ll collect some books from our library and send them over with Lurch. Return them when you’re ready. Mama and Uncle Fester will be disappointed they didn’t get to meet you. The children will likewise be disappointed at not having another playmate. We will write to you, of course.”

“And I’ll send you a rapier to practice with,” added Gomez. He then whispered in Harry’s ear, “Remember to sandbag in class, excel on tests, and try to get expelled once a month. And explode a toilet or three.”

“I’ll write to you as well. I haven’t known you long, but I will miss you both.” To their surprise, Harry hugged them both, but they recovered quickly and hugged him back. Harry would miss them dearly.

Chapter Text

Or Borgin’s Very Bad Day


Mr. Borgin was reading the Daily Prophet and sipping a cup of tea at the store counter that morning. He enjoyed the morning shift in the store, because almost no one came into the store in the morning. He had just started one of Rita Skeeter’s articles when the bell on the door rang. He looked up from the paper to find a very large man (but not Hagrid’s too impossible to be inside large) entering the store. The man had a long face with a gray pallor, slightly darker gray hair, sunken blue eyes, chiseled cheekbones and jaw, a heavy brow, and a black, impeccably clean, butler’s uniform. The uniform was most out of place in Diagon Alley, even more so in Knockturn Alley. The large morose looking man stooped to get inside the store, and shambled his way over to the counter. Borgin set his cup down on the counter.

In a deep, resonant and gravelly voice, the large figure said, “Addams’ delivery.”

Borgin smiled a patently fake smile he used with all of his customers. “Yes, of course! I have it all packaged up and ready for you.” And with that, he pulled a large box from behind the counter that had ‘Addams’ scrawled across the top, and set it on the counter.

The butler looked at the package, and then back at Mr. Borgin. “Addams’ delivery.”

“Yes, it’s all right there in the box.”

The butler shook his head. “Addams’ delivery.”

“I’m telling you it’s all in the box, right there.”

Again, the butler shook his head and groaned. “Addams’ delivery.”

“Look, Mr. … What is your name?”

The butler groaned out “Lurch.”

“Right, Mr. Lurch, this is the package waiting to be delivered to one Gomez Addams.”

Lurch groaned, and shook his head. “Addams’ delivery,” and he pointed at the cabinet against the wall.

Mr. Borgin looked at the cabinet and back at the butler. He then pointed at the packaged on the counter. “The Addams’ delivery.”

Another head shake and pointing at a sapphire necklace in a case with a card that said ‘cursed’. “Addams’ delivery.”

“Mr. Lurch, I am telling you, this box here is what Mr. Addams paid for!”

Lurch looked at Mr. Borgin in manner of a teacher daring a student to lie to them again. The shop keeper nearly fainted from the look. Lurch ripped open the box, then very carefully removed the contents. Apparently none of the contents met with the butler’s approval. In the same groaning, resonant voice, he demanded, “Addams’ delivery. Now!”

“My dear fellow, you just placed it all over my counter.”

The butler closed his eyes, and groaning, and appeared to count to ten. He then took the empty box and headed over to the book shelf and started removing specific books.

“Here now! You can’t just help yourself to whatever you want!”

“Addams’ delivery.”

“What are you on about? In the name of Merlin would you stop that?”

“Addams’ delivery.”

“What are you? Some common goblin? Put that back on the shelf!”

Lurch looked askance at the man, groaned sorrowfully while shaking his head, then he continued picking out shrunken heads and other odds and ends.

“If you don’t stop, I’m calling for the Aurors!” And then to himself, “I can’t believe I just said that.”

“Addams’ delivery.”

“It’s like the fires is lit, but the cauldron’s empty. Stop that! I’m telling you the Addams’ purchases are on the counter!” Borgin tried to grab Lurch’s arm, and succeeded in doing so, but miserably failed at stopping, or even hindering the butler in his progress around the shop. Borgin let go of the arm he was ineffectually impeding, and drew his wand.

“I’m warning you, stop now or I’ll have to force you to stop.”

Lurch set the box down, and in a movement that was slow, yet inexorable, he grabbed Borgin by the back of the robes and lifted him off the ground. Borgin was so surprised to be physically assaulted that he forgot he had a wand and screamed, “Let me down you imbecile!”

Lurch shuffled across the room, and with a deft twist used the back of the man’s robes to hang him from the chandelier in the center of the room. As he let his hand drop from the man’s back he grabbed the wand from Borgin’s hand.

“Hey now, give that back! And get me down from here!” Borgin struggled to free himself. His flailing about started him to slowly spin.

Lurch laid the wand on the counter, then went back to filling the box with items from around the shop quickly and efficiently, despite how slow his shambling appeared to be. He included a hand of glory, a set of knives, and the cursed necklace as well. Borgin was still screaming invectives at him when he finally set the box upon the top of the cabinet he had pointed at earlier. Lifting the cabinet with ease, Lurch shuffled to Borgin, as he hung from the chandelier, and eloquently groaned out, “Addams’ delivery.” Lurch then shambled out of the store, stooping once more to use the door.

When the door closed, and the bell had finished ringing, another man appeared from the back room in sleepwear, holding his wand up and rubbing sleep from his eyes. “What’s the cause of all the racket?”

Borgin slumped in his robes, dangling from the chandelier, and groaned in a manner very much like the butler who just left, “The Addams’ delivery.”

Chapter Text

Did Someone Say Guacamole?


The next day, Harry asked Stheno about the dings he heard when he was kissed by the girls in London.

‘Ah, I wondered when you would ask. That was the indication of a milestone being achieved, and it comes with some static rewards. You get a small increase to your overall libido capacity, and a small increase to your libido gain rate. Some milestones vary the size of the increase, or even grant additional rewards. Though given what we have been learning of the game, calling some of them rewards is akin to calling pterippi dung a fruit.’

Afterwards he spent the rest of the morning looking up milestones and their static rewards. And was quite shocked and embarrassed by what he discovered. With is sheltered life, he had never heard of anything other masturbation, kissing, fondling and intercourse. He didn’t realize there were different ways to kiss, fondle, or have intercourse, or that oral or anal sex was even an option. He was quite confused by some of the other items on the list as well, such as frottage, or why anyone would want to use a girl’s breasts for sex. And then there were the fetishes.

By mid-afternoon, Harry was quite overwhelmed by the number of things two (or more) people/creatures could do with each other that were of a sexual nature. He was almost wishing he could erase the last few hours from his mind. The rest of the day, he was in such a daze that Madam Pomfrey ran some extra diagnostics on him. When she asked what was wrong, he just responded “People are weirder than I ever imagined.” He refused to expand upon that statement.

Wednesday morning, after a night of very weird dreams, Harry got a package delivered by two dozen owls who seemed exhausted when they arrived. Harry gave them all some water and some owl treats, and thanked them for their hard work, before they disappeared back out the window. The package was a box addressed to Harry in a handwriting he didn’t know, but looked like how a small child learning to write might print the address. Inside the large box were several books, a rapier, some games, a few odds and ends, and several homemade sweets, along with a note written with a masculine flair.

            Hello, Cousin Harry!

            We gathered up the books and items we said we would and packed them in the box. Grandmama and Wednesday added the cookies and fudge. They are grade-A Addams quality confections, so I’d advise having a bezoar on hand if you aren’t sure you can survive ingesting it. Almost dying is half the fun! We packed in a few other books and things we thought might be useful or entertaining for you. We sent the box over with Lurch so he could mail it to you when he was in London to pick up my purchases. Unfortunately, Lurch won’t be able to make the delivery in person, which disappointed him terribly. He was rather looking forward to meeting you.

            Keep the books as long as you need them. Everything else is yours (consider it a belated birthday gift). Enjoy the last bit of your summer holiday!

            Sincerely,

            Gomez and Morticia Adams

            P.S. The dynamite is from Pugsley and Uncle Fester. Keep the manual that they are sending with it.

Harry unpacked the box and moved the contents to his school trunk, being very careful with the dynamite, hoping one of the books he was loaned would tell him more about the explosives. The sweets and stuff he stored as well, figuring he’d need to acquire a bezoar, or learn to cast poison detection spells before he attempted to eat them. Or maybe he could leave them about Privet Drive, where his cousin Dudley could find them.

Over the next couple of days, Harry memorized the books Larcenous Legilimency: How to Steal Memories and Get Away with It by Lefty Loophole, Concealing Cognizance: Occlumency Exercises and Theory by Oxnard Blocker, The Poisoner’s Potion Ingredients by Serpentia Milken, and Horrific Herbology: Dangerous Plants for the Victorian Victory Garden by Herbania Turtledove. Harry left the rest of the books for reading at another time.

The rest of the week seemed to pass rather quickly, as Harry spend time practicing meditation, beginning occlumency, his fencing forms, and learning ancient Greek from Stheno, and finally getting used to his mage sight. With his mage sight, he could actually see the magic around the castle, and being able to see magic started to give him insight into how magic worked. Harry spent a fair bit of time observing the magic of Dilys Derwent’s painting while chatting with her. It was the painting that helped him understand how to link things together since Dilys’ portrait was able to move from one painting to another and back.

Since his cleansing, he noticed that some of the library maintenance techniques made much more sense to him, as he now had a nearly intuitive understanding of runes.

As he was now able to work magic without harming himself he had been practicing spells from The Standard Book of Spells, Grade One. He also set about creating a linked library. He had found a book on linking magic in the library, and with the other books on library management he was able to link his school books into a personal library. He set up one of the blank books Gomez had gotten him as a self-updating index. Then he was able to link his library to another one of his blank books, so he could read any book in his library through the blank book. It took him several tries to get it right, and his linking book was a little singed and slightly battered because of it, and it was completed by Saturday afternoon. The downside was that the scroll-note had been incorrect, and once he claimed his books they were not accessible through his A.R.M.

‘Thanks for the advice Stheno. It would have taken ages, otherwise. I think I’ll call this The Portable Athenaeum.’

‘You are welcome, young royal. Remember to keep practicing controlling the flow of your magic. In doing so, such tasks will become easier, and you will become skilled enough to do it without a wand. Or without overpowering your spells and singing your books.’

Harry spent the rest of Saturday afternoon testing the functionality of his Portable Athenaeum and his A.R.M. by looking up various items in school books. After dinner while he was meditating, Madam Pomfrey told Harry that he had a guest. Standing next to her was Garrick Ollivander with a travelling case. Madam Pomfrey left the two of them alone.

“Hello, Mr. Ollivander.”

“Good evening, Mr. Potter. I trust now is a good time to try out some wands?”

“Yes, sir.”

With that, Ollivander flipped up the case and unfolded the stand to set the case up like a table. He opened the case and looked at the contents thoughtfully. “Stand over there, please. Finding a match works best when the wizard is standing.”

Harry stood in the designated spot.

“We’ll start with this one, blood wood and salamander tongue, eight inches, rigid. Give it a swish.”

Harry gave it a swish, and in response the wand emitted a noxious smell.

“No, not that one.” Ollivander snatched it away from Harry. “Next, mesquite and niffler whisker, nine inches, springy.” A small puff of purple smoke resulted from the swish. “Not that one either I see. Purple heart and chimera mane, eleven inches, bendy.” A sound like a helium balloon with a leak came forth. “Let’s try sandalwood and thunderbird tail feather, nine and a half inches, whippy.” Nothing happened with that one.

“You are a most difficult customer, Mr. Potter.” They went through another fifteen wands not finding a match. “This is the last wand I brought with me, Mr. Potter. Avocado wood with an occamy comb feather, eleven inches, supple.”

Harry gave it a swish and the wand produced a shower of crimson, emerald, sapphire and ebony colored flower petals.

“Most interesting. Most interesting indeed. I look forward to seeing what you can accomplish with that wand, Mr. Potter. As I do not work with these materials normally, I am uncertain how they will behave. Please let me know how you get on with this wand. I am most curious to find out if my suspicions regarding its nature are correct. Keep the phoenix feather wand handy. It will still be useful to you, I believe.”

“How much for the wand, Mr. Ollivander?”

“I couldn’t charge you for this wand, Mr. Potter. It is experimental, and it would damage my reputation to sell such an untested wand combination. I would request that you inform me how you get along with the wand, and any peculiarities or distinctive behaviors you notice. Perhaps you could drop by my store when you are picking up your school supplies for next year and we can discuss it over tea?”

“I can agree to that. I’ll try to let you know the date ahead of time if I can.”

“I look forward to it, Mr. Potter. Anything else?”

“Do you have any way for me to carry my wands without damaging them? Carrying them in my pocket seems less than wise.”

“Yes, I have a variety of wand holsters and forearm sheaths available. Some have charms on them for different purposes.”

“Do you have any recommendations?”

“Belt holsters are rather popular and keep the wand from being entangled in robes, and the forearm sheath keeps your wand hidden from view, but can get caught on the cuffs of your robe. Because you have two wands, perhaps one of each?”

“Do you have a pair with anti-theft charms that can be used as either a forearm sheath or a belt holster?”

“I do indeed, and I have some with me. Those will be three galleons, eleven sickles and twelve knuts.”

Harry went to his trunk and retrieved the money to pay for the holsters.

After being paid, Olivander wished Harry a good evening, and cleaned up all the petals, packed up his wands, and collapsed the legs to his case.

As Ollivander was leaving, Stheno prompted Harry to ask, “Mr. Ollivander, what family of trees is the Avocado related?”

“The avocado is related to the persea family of trees. It also goes by Persea Americana.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ollivander.” And with that, Mr. Ollivander left the castle.

‘Stheno? Why was that question important?’

‘That question was important because trees of the same family often share similar magical traits. In Egypt, the persea tree was associated with love, lust, and beauty. The avocado may have similar traits.’

Harry pondered that, and how it might related to the Harem Game. After a while, he asked, ‘Have there been any other wizards that had to get a new wand after starting the game?’

‘Give me a moment.’ Stheno appeared to looking through a scroll. ‘Only five. And that was due to their wands being damaged. Two requested wands identical the ones they broke. One used a wand from their family armory, and the other two used wands from opponents they had conquered.’

‘So, no one has tried to match a wand to their magic after starting the game?’

‘Not that I can find. Are you perhaps wondering if that is why you now have a wand associated with love, lust and beauty?’

‘Yes. Does that give me an advantage? Or a disadvantage? If it makes things easier, will the game try to compensate and make things harder?’

‘We shall find out in due time, as the answers to those questions are unknown.’

Harry went to bed pondering those questions and others.

 

Changing Leopard Spots


Harry was looking in a mirror the following morning, staring at his hair and his scar.

‘Stheno, is there anything I can do with my hair to hide my scar? It’s always been this messy and wild.’

‘I am unsure, young mortal. Curse scars are notoriously difficult to conceal with magic and using your hair seems a viable option. You could focus your magic on your hair and try to will it to behave. Or you could look for a trait in the book that might help you with managing your hair.’

‘I am not sure I want to rely on the book for this, but it might be worth looking at the traits associated with my hair.’ He opened up the relevant sections of his PISCIS in his A.R.M. ‘Well, it appears to be a hereditary trait, rather than specific to me. I could spend points to change that, but I’m not sure that’s what I want, and it seems oddly expensive to change it. I just want bangs to hide my scar. I wonder what traits I could purchase to help manage my hair.’ Harry sat down and spent some time perusing the game. ‘Metamorphic Hair? That looks like what I want. What do you think, Stheno?’

‘While it will probably work well for you, the down side is that you will have to be very careful with your emotions. Strong emotions cause you to lose control of the color and shape of your hair. And it can take years to learn how to control.’

‘No… That won’t work then. I’ll be too nervous on the train and I don’t have years to learn control. I think I’ll just have to use my magic to make it behave by force of will.’

So Harry spent hours trying to get his hair to obey his magic. The only time he could remember that happening was after Aunt Petunia had shorn him with a pair of scissors, and he desperately wanted his hair back to avoid another reason for kids to laugh at him. And that was an instant sort of event. What he was looking for was something that would maintain itself for a week or so. A day would be a blessing, even. His hair was stubbornly refusing to bend to his will.

‘Young mortal? What about this trait? Tentacular Hair? From what I can see, it gives you complete control over your hair immediately, as if it were additional arms upon your body. The only down side I can see is you’d have to practice keeping it in position.’

Harry looked up the trait in question. ‘That seems like it might be more useful if I had waist length or longer hair. But just to control the hair I have it seems overkill. And it would probably prevent my hair from acting like hair in the wind or when it’s wet.’

‘There is that. Then how about this one: Coif of Confunding. This one allows you to have five set hair styles, and you can change between them at will.’

‘That… almost works. The problem I see is that I can’t get my hair to stay in the proper place long enough in order to set the style. It has to sit for thirty minutes before the trait can hold it.’

‘Well, you could always turn your hair into snakes. Then no one would be looking at your scar, they’d be too busy watching all the snakes.’

Harry snickered, then laughed hard enough to cause Madam Pomfrey to come and look in on him. “What do you find so funny, Mr. Potter?”

Harry gasped while answering. “I was just considering how… how to get my hair… to hide my scar… when I had the thought of changing my hair into… snakes like Medusa. … Then no one would look at my scar!” And he burst into further laughter. “Then… Then I thought about… about one of the snakes laying in a lightning shape over my scar… flicking his tongue out between my eyebrows… and hissing menacingly at anyone trying to look at my scar!” Madam Pomfrey shook her head with a bemused smile and returned to prepping her hospital wing for the influx of students.

Stheno was amused as well, but for different reasons. She just imagined him fighting with the snakes like he does his hair, trying to get them to do what he wanted while they kept doing what they wanted.

Harry eventually decided his best bet was to wear his bowler to the Hogwarts Express and while he was on the train. That should cover the scar nicely. Eventually everyone would know he was at school and hiding it would be pointless. All he really wanted was a chance to get to know people and for them to get to know him without his fame getting in the way.


 

Games Wizards Play


Harry spent the next day reading books on wizarding games that he had taken from the library. He found a few, some of them were quite ancient and still played (quidditch and wizarding chess), others relatively new (gob stones and exploding snap, and the American quodpot) and others ancient and no longer played. He also found rules and strategy guides among the books, and spend the day reading them all.

He was glad that the Addams’ package had included a full wizarding chess set, but he felt this must have been an Addams variant or just very old, despite looking quite new. Both black and white pieces had a Greek motif. The pawns were satyrs, the rooks were each a towering cyclops, the knights were centaurs, the bishops were nymphs (Stheno informed him they were maenads due to the bottle and grapes, rather than dryads, oreads or hydriades), the queen was Medusa, and the king was Prometheus. Harry would later learn that they only gave advice in Greek, and only responded to instructions in Greek, or the Divine Royal Language. Stheno commented that the queens were credible likenesses to Medusa wearing her ritual mask. She also mentioned that a chess set responding to the Divine Royal Language was very rare, even before she was in the book.

He spent a fair bit of time reading about quidditch, since he had hereditary traits that seemed geared towards the sport. He did find it fascinating, and figured he could try out for his house team to see if he was actually any good. On the other hand, if he was good, and made the team, wouldn’t that just make him even more the center of attention? He’d have to think on that, and consider if the positives outweighed the negatives.

He learned several traditional card games that could be played with a tarot deck (a particularly macabre version was thoughtfully provided by Morticia in his care package). He liked the progression of play described for Morgana’s Twist, but wondered if anyone would want to play with him, as it was one of the games that had fallen out of popularity according to a book on modern wizarding games. He did find some solitaire card games that he could play and played a few of them while reading about other games. Madam Pomfrey looked at him oddly, but she saw no reason to complain since he was staying in bed and being quiet.

By late afternoon, Harry feeling restless, so he walked down to Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid was just leaving with Fang, when Fang bounded over and knocked Harry down and licked his ears. Hagrid pulled Fang off of him and helped him up.

“Harry! What brings yeh by?”

“Well, Hagrid, I know you and the rest of the staff are busy prepping for the new term to begin, so I don’t really want to stop you from your work, but I was wondering, could Fang keep me company until dinner time?”

“I don’ see no harm in that. Jus’ stick ‘round the hut so we don’ get in trouble with Madam Pomfrey. That box there by the door has some of Fang’s toys in it.”

“Okay, Hagrid, and thanks!”

The gamekeeper strode off to take care of his duties, leaving Harry and Fang to entertain themselves. Harry struggled to lift the lid to the toy box, and found a Frisbee, a ball, a well gnawed stick, and a length of rope as well as some other odd bits. Harry pulled the rope out, noticing it was knotted in each end, and that it was about five feet long. As he was holding one end, wondering how this was a toy, Fang grabbed the other end with his mouth and started pulling. Harry, caught by surprise, ended face down in the grass being dragged across the ground by the exuberant boarhound.

They played tug of war, in which Harry always lost. He either was sod surfing or losing the rope. They played fetch with the ball, though Fang seemed disappointed that Harry couldn’t throw it as far as he would have liked. And Harry couldn’t throw the large stick very far either. The Frisbee worked much better for Harry once he got the hang of how to throw it, and Fang enjoyed chasing after it, and occasionally playing keep away from Harry.

When Hagrid returned, he sent Harry back up to the castle to get cleaned up for dinner. After dinner, Harry spent some time admiring his avocado and occamy comb feather wand, and comparing it to the holly and phoenix feather one. He liked the physical feel of both of them in his hand, and he could feel a pulse in the magic from both of them. The avocado did align with his magic the most comfortably, though he felt as if the holly wand was trying to synchronize with his magic in order to be as attuned as the avocado. It was a revelation to discover that his wands were competing for the title of ‘best suited’. He supposed that was what Ollivander meant by the wands choosing the wizard, and how the phoenix core would still work for him.

 

Peevishness!


Tuesday morning, found Harry writing letters. He was taught the basics of letter writing in primary school, but a book on etiquette gave him a better understanding of when and how he needed to write letters. So Harry wrote a letter to the Addams family, thanking them for their kind gifts, and that he would hold off on eating the sweets until he had a bezoar, or could have his cousin Dudley test them for him. He was just about to send the letter off with Hedwig, when he remembered the girls from his last trip to London. He decided he should write to them, too.

He wrote each of them a letter, and apologized for not writing to check on them sooner, as he had been quite busy. He tried to personalize each letter so that Betsy, Reesy and Eddy wouldn’t think he was just writing form letters if they compared notes. This was difficult as he really didn’t know the girls that well. He did his best to recall what he could about the girls from the times he was outside of the house on Privet Drive hiding (or running) from Dudley and his gang, as well as what he might have heard about them while they had been in the same primary school as Harry and Dudley. He also made sure to use the bits of conversation from their walk to King’s Cross Station.

That took up most of his day, as letter writing of this nature was not really something with which he had practice. Nor had he had a lot of practice expressing himself, and his handwriting wasn’t the best as he never really got to practice it outside of school. He resolved to find a calligraphy book or a book on handwriting in the library on his next visit. He decided to also write Mrs. Figg to see how she was getting along and if her broken leg had healed yet. Then he gave the letters to Hedwig for delivery, all addressed to the muggle addresses.

The following day, he got a visit from Professor McGonagall. “Mr. Potter, I wanted to make sure you understood the schedule for Sunday. After breakfast, at nine in the morning, we will go down to Hogsmeade and floo to the Leaky Cauldron. From there, I will walk you to King’s Cross Station, and instruct you on how to board Platform Nine and Three Quarters. You will be able to enter the platform at ten o’clock. After that, you’ll be on your own for boarding the train, and getting to know your fellow students prior to the start of term feast. Do you have any questions?”

“Will I have to take my trunk with me, or will it stay here?”

“That depends. Would you like to take your trunk with you to blend in more with the other students? Or would you prefer to just take a few items so you don’t have to struggle with getting the trunk on the train?”

“May I think about that, and let you know my decision on Sunday?”

“Of course.”

“Should I take Hedwig with me?”

“I will leave that decision to you and your owl.”

“Should I wear my school robes when we leave?”

“No. You should take them with you so you can change while on the train.”

“What will I do for lunch?”

“A lunch will be prepared for you by the kitchens, and I am sure Madam Pomfrey will supply you with any potions you might need to take with you. Also, there will be a witch with sweets supplied by Honey Dukes for purchase. Though I do suggest that you follow any dietary requirements set by Madam Pomfrey, and that you save some room for the feast.”

“I don’t have any other questions, Professor.”

“Very well, Mr. Potter. The Headmaster is in the school now, and though he is quite busy, he might make time to stop by and chat with you. Remember to be ready to leave by nine in the morning on Sunday. Have a good day.”

“Hedwig, would you like to travel on the train with me?” Harry hooted.

“I have never ridden by train. Some owls think it is too noisy. Others think it is fun. I shall have to ride it to determine how I feel.”

“Alright then. You might want to meet us at the Leaky Cauldron then. I recall that Madam Pomfrey mentioned that owls don’t do well with floo travel.”

“That’s because the floo doesn’t respond to our destination commands. And the spinning ruffles our feathers. And it is hard to get the soot out of our feathers as well.”

“That makes sense then.” Harry stroked her head and she nipped at his finger.

After some exercise and meditation, and practicing some spells, lunch rolled around. After lunch, Harry headed for the library with Argus Filch for the first time. Mr. Filch was an old man with sunken cheeks and bulbous eyes, hunched shoulders, a pasty face and wearing a brown coat, and was accompanied by a cat with dust colored fur, scrawny skeletal body, and yellow, bulging, lamp-like eyes.

            Note to self: Argus Filch, caretaker. Cat named Mrs. Norris. Possible familiar? I should remember to treat the cat with respect if it is his familiar. It is commonly thought that Mr. Filch cannot cast magic. Maybe he is bitter about it. Best to stay on his good side if I can, just don’t expect him to actually have a good side. I must remember to wipe my feet and not track in mud from outside. ~HJP

“So you’re Potter, are yeh?”

“Yes, sir. Is that your cat? What’s her name?”

“Yes, that’s my cat. Name is Mrs. Norris, isn’t it my sweet,” said Filch while looking down affectionately at the cat. The cat meowed and purred.

“She’s a lovely cat. It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Norris.” The cat eyed Harry suspiciously.

“Let’s get going. I haven’t got all day.”

“Yes, sir.” Harry picked up the books he was returning.

“Yeh get one hour and not a minute more to find your books, and you’re staying out of the restricted section.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry replied as they walked towards the library. That’s when they encountered the poltergeist. It was the first time Harry met Peeves.

“Ooh, what have we here? Is it an ickle firstie?” Peeves said as he appeared hanging upside down in front of Harry with his large bow tie spinning and his belled hat dangling down.

“Um, hello. My name is Harry. Who are you?”

“Who am I?! Who am I, you ask? Why I am…. Wait, who am I?” He took off his hat with one hand and used the other hand to scratch his head.

“Go away, Peeves,” commanded Filch angrily.

“That’s who I am! I am Peeves!” And then he swooped and pulled the rug out from under Harry’s feet sending him and his books tumbling down the hall. He grabbed Harry’s nose just as his tumbling came to a stop and yelled, “Got your conk!” Peeves then shot off down the hall cackling like mad, only to return when Harry had gotten to his feet, and started pelting Harry with water balloons. Fortunately for Harry, the fallen books weren’t close enough to get wet.

“Peeves! I’m going to tell the headmaster and get you ejected from the castle!” Yelled a wheezing filch. Mrs. Norris just hissed at the chaos demon disguised as a poltergeist.

“Ickle firstie in the castle!” Peeves yelled back. “He broke all my water balloons!” Peeves then stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry at Harry while shooting off down the hall backwards.

“Making a mess and school hasn’t started yet!” The man shouted in Peeves direction of escape. The man then looked at a drenched Harry.

“Right. Get back to the hospital and change your clothes.” He pointed back down the hallway where Harry had come from. “Now I’ve got another mess to clean up thanks to Peeves. Get on with yeh!” He shouted at Harry.

Shocked, Harry turned back to the hospital wing. He received another scroll-note.

            Note to self: Peeves the poltergeist. Oldest resident of the castle, been here since the school’s founding. Likes mayhem and chaos, and making sure students get into to trouble and are late for class. Only listens to the headmaster, and the ghost named the Bloody Baron. Can be distracted with suggestions of greater chaos, or impersonating the Baron. ~HJP

Harry thought about that, and wondered how his alter ego (as he started to think of the note writer) would even know those things.

After changing his clothes and explaining to Madam Pomfrey about meeting Peeves, he went to a broom closet to grab some cleaning supplies. After finding a mop, bucket and some towels, he went back to where he met Peeves and started helping Filch clean up the mess.

“What do you think you’re doing, Potter?”

“Cleaning up the mess, sir.”

“And why would you care?”

“I’ve been hearing how busy everyone is getting ready for the new term. Since it seems my presence in the castle gave Peeves an excuse to make a mess, I thought I’d help out by cleaning that mess up.”

“And where did you get the supplies?”

“Broom cupboard down the hall on towards the hospital wing.”

Filch continued to clean up the mess. “And how did you know about the broom closet? Been out of bed at night and snooping around, have you?”

“No, sir. I’ve been told I can visit Hagrid, as long as I take the shortest path to and from his hut. No one told me I couldn’t look into each of the doors along that path, so that’s what I did. That’s how I knew about the broom closet.”

“And how is it you know how to actually use what’s in the closet?”

“I live with mundane relatives. I did most of the chores at home. I didn’t know about magic until Hagrid came to deliver my Hogwarts letter.”

Filch grunted and worked beside Harry, occasionally muttering invectives regarding Peeves. After the floor, walls, and armor were dry, and bits of balloon were picked up from everywhere, the library books were piled neatly to the side. Harry helped Filch straighten out the carpet that had been pulled out from under him.

“Pick up those books and wait here. I’ll be back after putting the cleaning supplies away,” Mr. Filch commanded as he turned to take things back to the broom closet. Harry nodded and did as he was told. That seemed to be as close to a thank you as Harry would probably get. Maybe this Mr. Filch wasn’t so bad if you actually helped to keep the place clean voluntarily. And probably if you did it without magic.

By Thursday, Harry was starting to get nervous about meeting his fellow student for the first time. He reviewed the new quests available to him in the game book, but saw none that he particularly liked, or would have any way of completing in the time requirements until he was with his fellow students.

He exercised, meditated, and read some more books the Adams had lent to him, in particular Potion Ingredient Equivalencies and Variances by Ash Oakbridge, and Preparing Potions: Millions of Methods for Mutilating Magical Materials by Nigel Ninefingers (both of which were particularly large tomes), as well as a book on goblin customs and the goblin language. Then something occurred to him.

‘Stheno?’

‘Yes, young mortal?’

‘What kind of magic does the game use to make alterations to a player’s form? Or for that matter, apply any of the merits?’

‘There are many complex interacting charms, transfigurations, arithmancy and runic arrays, as well as some curses, hexes and jinxes (or their counters) applied. Additionally, there are some magics that have been lost to time.’

‘Do you know what the ones lost to time were?’

‘Yes, but I don’t have the… freedom to actually instruct you in the ones I know how to use. The lost magics I am aware of are Transmutation, Biomancy, and Eromancy.’

‘What’s the difference between them?’

‘Transmutation is the art of changing the intrinsic nature of something to something else. Like a lead brick into gold brick. Its shape and size hasn’t changed, but its nature has. Currently this can only be done through alchemy, primarily if a catalyst has been created. This only works on non-living objects.

‘Biomancy is similar to transmutation, but it only affects the animal kingdom. Biomancy can change a beings shape, but the real strength of Biomancy is that it can make changes hereditary, and make much more subtle changes, such as your Total Recall merit. One school of thought believed that lycanthropy was a curse wrought through Biomancy. Biomancy’s surviving bits have been preserved through healing spells and animagus transfiguration.

‘Eromancy is magic related to love, sex and reproduction. It is harder to summarize than the others as it can affect the physical, the emotional, and even the magical aspects of a person’s being. Duration varies and is affected by the power of the caster. The surviving bits of Eromancy are preserved through potions, primarily love and hate potions. All three are very advanced forms of magic, and very difficult to master.’

‘Which of those do you know how to use?’

‘I do not have the freedom to say, young mortal.’

Harry thought for a bit. ‘From what you have told me about yourself, what I recall about the descriptions of the other avatars, and the main focus of the game, I would say it’s Eromancy. And that all the avatars for the game share that knowledge.’

‘…’

‘I know you don’t have the freedom to tell me if I’m right. Much like I couldn’t answer Morticia’s questions. I hope I can find a way to free your mind fully.’

On Friday, Harry received a letter delivered by Hedwig during his breakfast. He fed her some of his bacon, and then read the letter which was written with a flowery flowing script.

            Dear Cousin Harry,

            You will no doubt be delighted (and possibly horrified) to learn that our little Wednesday will be attending Hogwarts. After hearing about you, she demanded to be allowed to start her schooling at Hogwarts instead of Ilvermorny or Castelobruxo. Some bribery, favors, and threats had to be traded to allow her to enroll, in addition to actually buying a house in merry old England. Apparently Hogwarts is not very fond of enrolling foreign students, but an Addams would do nothing less for one of their children.

            She had so wanted to go to Beaubatons, but alas, the scars from my attendance at that school of learning are far too fresh. Perhaps the memory will have faded enough that Wednesday’s grandchildren might attend my Alma Mater. No doubt we will cross paths on the First of September.

            Regarding schooling, Pugsley has finally succeeded in getting himself expelled from Ilvermorny during the summer session, which might have had something to do with their letter of recommendation that Wednesday study abroad. He is currently trying to transfer to Durmstrung for his third year. I believe he is attempting to get himself expelled from every major school before he has to graduate. Such lofty goals he has. Gomez is hoping that Pugsley will break his record, and end up being blacklisted from all schools before completing his sixth year.

            Having both of our children studying in Europe and away from home makes Gomez and I both proud, and heartbroken. Such sweet emotional torment is more than we could ask of our children. Uncle Fester and Lurch are beside themselves with despair. Grandmama is already planning Russian Roulette care packages, where you never know if the next piece of candy of fudge will try to kill you. It is a most delightful time here in the Addams household.

            While we have purchased a home in England for the purposes of getting Wednesday enrolled, we cannot bear to live in such a cheery abode. We most likely will only use it only as a place to stay when Gomez has business to attend to in England, or perhaps as someplace to stay during the holidays to be nearer you children. Grandmama is diligently planning how to redecorate the abode more toward our sensibilities. I believe gray paint, self-peeling wallpaper, poisons, fungi, and grave mold are being prepared. It is always good for Grandmama to have projects to occupy her.

            Sincerely and with affection,

            Morticia Addams

Harry was happy he’d get to meet Wednesday, and was curious as to why he’d be horrified to go to school with her, after he got on so well with Morticia and Gomez. But now he was even more nervous about the start of term than he had been before breakfast.

Shortly after that, with a sharp cracking sound, a black lacquered trunk with gold accents, and a stylized H. J. Potter over the lock with a crest Harry did not recognize below it, appeared at the foot of his bed alongside his school trunk. On top of it was a letter. When he opened the letter several sheets were inside as well as a key.

            Cousin Harry,

            This is your wardrobe trunk. Included in this letter are the instructions on how to use your trunk as well as set the protections so you aren’t harmed trying to access it. Follow them precisely.

            Since I know you don’t have a lot of experience with the Wizarding World, I thought I’d let you know about the delivery method. I use house elves to deliver trunks to my clients. House elves are a much more secure means of delivering packages than owls, especially heavy packages like this one. I believe Hogwarts has several house elves on staff, and one of them probably brought the trunk through the wards to deliver it.

            Remember me for all your sartorial (and currency exchanging) needs,

            Cousin Tweedle

The instruction to follow the instructions precisely didn’t help Harry feel less nervous. He controlled his nervousness by setting up his wardrobe trunk, exercising and meditating. He even played some wizarding chess with Stheno, which was interesting and educational. She taught him that chess was strategy. The players had to control as much of the board as possible while defending as many pieces as possible, and thinking five to ten moves ahead. Harry learned that he wasn’t all that good at strategy, but was encouraged by Stheno to learn it anyways. Madam Pomfrey was getting so used to Harry’s quirks that playing chess with himself, using what she thought was Greek to command the pieces, didn’t cause her any pause.

The Headmaster paid Harry a visit Saturday morning while Harry was meditating and practicing his Greek. He had borrowed a Greek language book from the library to explain how he was learning the language, and it was sitting open in front of him. Harry was verbally going through noun declensions when Dumbledore arrived at his bedside. Harry stopped, marked his place, and closed the book before he looked up at the headmaster. The man looked tall and thin, with silver hair and beard, both long enough to tuck into his belt, a very long, crooked nose, wearing brightly colored robes of orange with purple stars, a pointed wide brimmed hat, and half-moon glasses.

“Hello, Harry. I am Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. It is a pleasure to meet you. May I call you Harry?” Dumbledore sat down in the chair next to the bed.

“Hello, Albus. I am Harry Potter, soon to be student of Hogwarts. Yes, you may call me Harry as long as I can call you Albus.” Harry said with a slight mischievous smile.

Dumbledore chuckled. “I suppose I deserved that. Well, as long we are alone in an informal situation, I suppose that is acceptable. I understand you’ve had quite a bit of trial over the last month. How are you doing?”

“I feel much better thanks to Madam Pomfrey. She has been very accommodating despite how busy she has been.”

“Yes, it has been quite a busy time for all the staff. And Madam Pomfrey had to cut her summer holiday short. I’m sure you will get very tired of hearing this, but you look remarkably like your father, and your eyes are very like your mother’s.”

“So far, you and Hagrid are the only ones to have done so.”

“Professor McGonagall has informed me of the reasons for your stay here in the castle before the start of term. I would like to hear what happened from you, if you don’t mind?”

“Well, I think it starts when my letters started arriving a week before my birthday. My uncle was going spare trying to keep the letters from me. He seemed very upset that the letters were addressed to where I was living in the house, which initially was in the ‘cupboard under the stairs’.” The headmaster had a very slight frown at the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ statement. Harry continued, “They then moved me to my cousin’s second bedroom, so the letters were then addressed to me in the ‘smallest bedroom’. My uncle took everyone to a small hut out on a rock in the sea in an effort to escape the onslaught of letters.”

“Hagrid arrived with my letter just after midnight on my birthday. He had brought a birthday cake for me. I’d never had a birthday cake before, so when I discovered my cousin eating it, I had what I’ve been told is a burst of accidental magic, and caused him to sprout a pig’s tail. Later that morning, Hagrid took me shopping in Diagon Alley. When we were leaving, my scar hurt. It has done this a few times before, but it was rather strong that day.

“I suppose it took my uncle some time to get back to shore, as Hagrid and I had taken the only rowboat my uncle borrowed to get us to the shack on the island. It took them a few days to get back to their house. During that time I wrote Professor McGonagall about my cousin’s tail, and she responded with a time and day she would arrive with Madam Pomfrey to sort my cousin out. The day before she was supposed to arrive, my relatives still hadn’t come home. I was in my room that evening reading one of my books when my scar exploded with pain. A pain so great that I passed out.

“I awoke the next day, a few minutes before one o’clock in the afternoon, hanging in the air by my shirt as my uncle yelled at me and shook me. He was mad because of the devastation to the house. Not a single thing in the house, except my school trunk, appeared undamaged. As I was trying to explain that I didn’t know what happened, Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey arrived. I was able to convince my uncle it would be in his best interest to let them in and sort out Dudley. While she was there, Professor McGonagall fixed all the items in the house. I told her about what happened with my scar, she said it was obviously a burst of accidental magic, and that my scar was inflamed and had been bleeding. She and Madam Pomfrey got permission from my uncle to take me out of the house to take me here to deal with the issue of my scar hurting. My uncle said something along the lines of ‘take him with you and keep him forever’.”

“May I examine your scar, Harry?” Harry shrugged and lifted his bangs exposing his scar to clear view. Dumbledore leaned in until his nose was almost touching Harry’s as he looked at the scar through his glasses. “Extraordinary.” He then leaned back into the chair.

“What is, sir?”

“That your scar, while still present, is no longer showing any malignancy. I understand you had some guests over the last month.”

“Yes, sir. Madam Pomfrey had to call in a specialist from America. Turns out she is a distant cousin of my mother’s.” Dumbledore’s eyebrow raised slightly. “She and her husband were able to clear the problem with my scar, and with some blood wards, both of which were interfering with my health and magic, compounded by neglect from my relatives.”

“I see. I am glad that they were able to help you with your ailments. I am sorry about the neglect you received from your relatives.”

“Sir, you placed me with them, according to Hagrid. I assume that means you set up the blood wards. Why did you place me with my aunt and uncle?”

“They are your closest blood relatives, and the only surviving ones that I could find. And the blood wards would be stronger the closer in relation to you the relatives were. I had never imagined they would neglect you, or I would have kept a closer eye on you myself.”

“I… I’m not entirely sure it was completely their fault.”

“Why is that Harry?”

“Well, my new cousins discovered a vase that was inside the house that had a powerful curse on it. I was told that if it hadn’t been for my mother’s ward, and the blood wards, it would have driven my relatives to kill me years ago, and probably each other as well. They also said that it appeared someone had given it to my uncle’s sister to deliver it into the house.”

“That… is rather unexpected news. Was the vase removed?”

“Yes. They even offered to let me keep the shards if I wanted them. I declined, as it had to have been one of the ugliest vases in existence.”

Dumbledore smiled in his grandfatherly way. “Probably for the best that you didn’t keep them. I suppose your newfound cousins are why I have a foreign student attending Hogwarts?”

“If her name is Wednesday Addams, then yes.”

“It is indeed. I keep trying to expand the pool of potential students we draw from, but the board of governors and the ministry keep restricting me to the British Isles and Ireland. So I was quite happy to agree to her attendance, despite her family’s disastrous reputation. I’d welcome her brother too, but the board of governors have been quite clear that his expulsion from Ilvermorny denies him enrollment at Hogwarts.”

“I suspect that if he really wanted to attend, the board of governors could be convinced otherwise, sir.”

“I suspect you are right.” The pair shared a laugh.

A scroll-note unfurled itself in Harry’s vision.

            Note to self: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. I very much like this man, but he keeps too much close to his chest, and doesn’t explain his reasons for doing things when doing so would make things go much smoother for him. If I get a chance to ask him, I need to ask why Voldemort tried to kill me as a baby. I need to press him. If necessary, mention a prophecy. ~HJP

Things that Harry had been reading in the recent history books and old newspapers started to click together. “Sir, do you know why Voldemort killed my parents and tried to kill me?”

“Alas, I would rather not burden you with this information at your young age. Perhaps, when you are older.”

“I would rather be burdened now, than be surprised later, sir.”

“Harry, you really should have a normal childhood, and when you are older and more able to carry this weight, I will tell you.”

“Sir, in what way has my childhood, thus far, been normal? I’ve had my parents murdered, while a madman tried to kill me. My guardians kept telling me my parents died in a car crash while driving drunk. I’ve had at least one other madman try to murder me with a cursed vase. I’ve grown up knowing nothing of magic, never having a birthday celebrated until my eleventh last month, and that was with Hagrid. I’ve never gotten any clothes that my cousin Dudley hadn’t previously worn until Gomez and Morticia took me clothes shopping. I did all the chores for my relatives while my cousin was pampered and given everything he wanted. I spent most of my life living in the cupboard under the stairs until the first school letter arrived. I’ve had no friends, no playmates. I’ve been punished for excelling in school and doing better than my cousin, as well as for bursts of accidental magic. I didn’t even know until I started primary school that I had a name other than ‘boy’ or ‘freak’, nor did I know when my birthday was. Please forgive me if I say that it is quite a bit late for me to have a normal childhood.”

“And that is why I shouldn’t burden you with this. You need a chance to have a normal childhood while the chance remains.”

Harry whispered, “It’s because of a prophecy, isn’t it, sir?” Dumbledore looked a bit startled at that unexpected pronouncement. “It’s kind of obvious when you think about it. Why would Voldemort break pattern and target a specific baby. Not my parents, but me. The clues are there if you look for them. I don’t suppose you’ll tell me what’s in this prophecy? You do at least know of it, apparently. And if you’re wondering, I’ve been reading about Voldemort through the old Daily Prophets and books in the library, and talking to some of the paintings, and Hagrid when he had time.”

“I see you shall not be deterred. Then I shall tell you, but not today.” Dumbledore raised a staying hand. “This is not a secure enough place to discuss it. We can discuss it in my office after the start of term. Sometime before Halloween. Will that suffice?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well then, I have taken up enough of your time today, and I still have paperwork and duties to perform. It was a pleasure to meet you again, Harry.”

“As it was to meet you, Headmaster Albus,” Harry said with a hint of a smile. Dumbledore just chuckled as he left the room.

Later that day, Stheno asked Harry, ‘Young mortal, do you have any reason for keeping your hair short and not allowing it to grow out?’

‘Um. Not really. Just easier to maintain I guess, and it sort of irks my relatives like it is.’

‘Is irking your relatives your main goal? Or ease of maintenance?’

‘Not looking silly and irking my relatives I guess.’

‘Then how about growing out your hair to shoulder length or longer, and braiding it? If you braid it correctly, some of it should hang down and hide your scar.’

‘That... That’s actually an interesting idea, and the longer hair would really irk my relatives.’

‘There are charms for hair care, including, cutting, washing, brushing and braiding. Though you can also do that by hand if you are so inclined. There are jinxes and hexes that can cause hair growth as well.’

‘I suppose I can look into that. Maybe I can have Madam Pomfrey teach the spells to me?’

‘I am sure you could learn them on your own.’

‘Yes, but if I have her teach them to me, and maybe lengthen my hair, it might not look so suspicious to others.’

‘I see. The idea has merit.’

And with that, Harry waited for lunch to ask Madam Pomfrey about it.

“And why do you want longer hair, Mr. Potter?”

“I would like to have enough hair to plait, and hopefully hide my scar. Right now, anyone can see it, and it draws attention I’d rather avoid.”

“In this school, Mr. Potter, your name alone will do that.”

“I’d rather have only one aspect of my fame to deal with than two.”

“I will see what can be done then. You’ll have to wait until later though.”

“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.”


A Hairy Harry Situation


After dinner, Harry had both Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall attending to his request for more hair.

Madam Pomfrey spoke first. “Mr. Potter, you may not know this, but spells for hair care are actually rather different for women and men. While they do similar things, they are actually different spells. The reason for this is facial and body hair. Women have significantly less of both of those, so the spells need to account for the difference. I have a small manual I can lend you to assist you after today. It is not recommended that someone adjust the length of their hair too frequently. So, how long would you like your hair?”

“I’m not sure how long it needs to be, Professor.”

“I see. Then we will grow it out a few feet and see what we need to use, then we can cut it to the length you would like. Please stand.” Professor McGonagall poured a potion on Harry’s head and massaged it into his scalp. His head itched madly for a few seconds, then it felt heavy as he now had four feet of hair hanging down from his head, obscuring his vision. Madam Pomfrey then cast an untangling charm that caused his hair to lay down his back in unruly waves.

“Did you feel anything, Poppy? It looked like his hair was resisting the potion.”

“Yes. I’d say it’s the Potter side of his family there. Most of the men have had wild unmanageable dark hair.”

“Well, let’s see if we can convince it to behave itself long enough for us to plait it.” They used a dose of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion to tame his hair, then took to plaiting it manually in order to find the style that suited him best. After an hour, Harry was beginning to feel like a dress up doll without the dressing and undressing. After two hours, they seemed satisfied and produced a trifold standing mirror for Harry to look at himself with. He had to say he liked it, and he felt it suited him better than the short hair now that he didn’t have to wear glasses. They had artfully plaited his hair so the hair in front hung loosely, and by crossing his hair over the part in the front, they had found a way to hide his scar. It looked simple, but he felt it was probably more complex than it looked. Still, it looked like his hair was trying to escape the plait in back.

“It looks great. It does what I wanted it to do, which is hide my scar.”

“Now, how long do you want it? I suggest we cut the plait about halfway down the shoulder blades,” suggested Madam Pomfrey.

Harry thought about it for a bit. “Okay. That sounds like a good length.”

And the hair was cut and the excess vanished away. Professor McGonagall continued, “Now we will teach you how to plait it manually, before we teach you the charm. It is best to know how it works manually before you try to use the charm. Otherwise it won’t come out as well.”

And by eight in the evening, Harry could plait his hair on his own in about ten minutes. After that they proceeded to teach him the detangling charm, the brushing charm and the plaiting charm. After some practice and a couple of corrections, he was able to do them perfectly much to the surprise of the witches.

“You may practice those three charms Mr. Potter. Just remember, that using other charms and potions to change the length, can stress your hair and lead to hair problems later in life,” warned Madam Pomfrey. “You may find it easier to sleep with the plait in, or your hair loose, but that will be something you have to figure out on your own.”

After they left, Harry then practiced using his holly wand, then practiced those three charms until he could do them wandlessly. Wordlessly would come in time.

Chapter Text

Reunion and First Meetings

 

Professor McGonagall met Harry in the infirmary just after breakfast. Harry was dressed in his dark green pinstripe suit, and had just finished plaiting his hair manually and tying it off with a black ribbon. Before breakfast, with Madam Pomfrey as an escort, he had returned his borrowed library books, as he was sure he wouldn’t be allowed to take them out of the castle. He had Hedwig’s cage on top of his school trunk. He had packed a uniform and robes and his wizard’s hat, his tarot deck and his chess set, his lunch and potions, and the books he was lent by the Addamses in that chest. Everything else he owned packed in the black wardrobe trunk. He grabbed his fedora and turned around. “Good morning, Professor.”

Professor McGonagall was dressed in a mundane clothing, a dark green summer dress with a red jacket and green pumps wearing a lovely matching hat. Her long black hair was down and in a loose plait rather than its normally tight bun. She looked like she could fit into any crowd in London, and to Harry, the look didn’t suit her. It wasn’t that anything she was wearing was wrong. She looked impeccable. It was just to Harry, she looked out of place in mundane clothing. Of course, until now, he had only seen her in witch’s robes.

“Good morning, Mr. Potter. You are well turned out this morning. I must say, that with the longer hair and not wearing any glasses, your resemblance to your mother is even stronger. It’s unfortunate that your hair keeps trying to escape the plait. Are you ready to leave?”

Harry placed the fedora on his head. “Yes, professor.”

“I see you have two trunks. The dorms do not have room for two trunks. What do you intend to do?”

“Well, the black trunk is my wardrobe trunk that Gomez and Morticia bought for me. I’ve read through the instructions that came with it, and it has an enlarged space in several of the compartments. One of them is actually large enough for me to fit the other trunk inside. However, the wardrobe trunk will also transform into an actual wardrobe. So, either I can store my first trunk in the wardrobe, or I can replace any wardrobe I am assigned with my trunk. I could even do both.

“I think I will do both. According the Hogwarts: a History, the school has a way to make sure that the student trunks are moved to their assigned dormitories. If I leave one of the trunks here, will that be the case?”

“Yes, the house elves will see to it, once you are sorted.”

“Then I’ll set up my wardrobe trunk in to wardrobe form, and they can move it in place of the normal wardrobe. I’ll be taking the other trunk if that’s alright? I’ve only got some books, some games, and a school uniform in it.”

“Yes, that should suffice.”

McGonagall stuck the owl cage to the plainer school trunk, lightened it, and levitated it. “Come along, we don’t want to be late. When we get to Hogsmeade, I’ll floo with your trunk to the Leaky Cauldron, and you’ll follow. Travelling with luggage requires some practice. Remember to enunciate your destination clearly.”

The pair walked out of the castle and down into the village of Hogsmeade, where they made their way to the Three Broomsticks. McGonagall gave a friendly but perfunctory greeting to Madam Rosmerta as they made their way to the floo. With a well-practiced hand, she grabbed some floo powder, threw it into the fireplace and commanded, “Diagon Alley.” She stepped in with the trunk and whooshed away.

Harry, not caring for his previous experience with floo travel, nervously grabbed some floo powder and tossed it into the fire and said tensely, “Diagon Alley.” He stepped into the fireplace and disappeared with a whoosh.

He reappeared in the Leaky Cauldron with a pphhhbbbt instead of a whoosh, and was catapulted from the floo across the room to the far wall where he banged back first against the wall, and slid two feet down into a chair. His fedora was then spit out of the fireplace across the room to land upon his head, atilt and backwards.

McGonagall (and several patrons) just stared at him for a few moments before collecting herself, and walking over to Harry. Quietly she asked, “Are you alright, Mr. Potter?”

“A bit dizzy from somersaulting through the air, but otherwise I feel alright. I’m not sure if that exit is better or worse than skidding across the floor and ending upside down against a chair.”

“Better I would think, as you don’t have to dust yourself off as much as you would skidding across the floor. In addition, landing in a seated position upright on the chair is most assuredly more dignified.” She tidied them both up of any soot they had on them, which was minimal. “Allow me to correct your plait, and then we can be on our way.” She fixed his plait with a casual flick of her wand.

Hedwig was waiting for Harry in the pub, and they placed her inside her cage, and dropped a cage cover over it. After McGonagall conjured a trolley for the trunk, they left the Leaky Cauldron to walk over to King’s Cross station. They walked in silence until they arrived at the station. McGonagall checked the clock. “We’re a bit early. The train won’t arrive for another fifteen minutes. Let’s have some tea while we wait.”

Harry paid for the tea, over McGonagall’s protests, and they sat down at a table. “I am quite capable of purchasing tea, Mr. Potter.”

“I am aware of that, Professor. I just wanted to show you some of the gratitude I feel for towards you for helping me this summer. And this is a very small gesture of that gratitude.”

“You are a most unusual young man.”

“It must be true then, as Morticia, Madam Pomfrey and you all agree upon that point.”

“I see. I won’t be joining you on the platform, so you will have to make your way on your own once you are past the barrier. I’m sure you agree being escorted by a professor on the platform might cause you some undue attention, which you have been resolute about trying to avoid.”

“Yes, professor. I can make my way. I expect I will be meeting the Addams family as well, since they are dropping off their daughter.” After a bit of silence and tea sipping, Harry continued, “Professor, I was wondering if you could help clear up something I read on etiquette.”

“And what would that be, Mr. Potter?”

“I don’t know if the book was still accurate, but is it still appropriate to bow over a woman’s knuckles and kiss the air just above them when meeting them?”

Minerva chuckled. “Only for formal occasions and formal introductions. When you meet a woman for the first time and the introduction isn’t formal, then no. However, if you were to be formally introduced to the same woman later, it would be appropriate to perform that ritual greeting. And on formal introductions to men, a small bow is appropriate.”

“I see. And have we been formally introduced?”

“Not as of yet, and we will later today, but as it is a group introduction, it would be inappropriate for me to have all the male students perform that bow, and all the female students curtsy individually. So, not until you greet me individually on a formal occasion would you get to practice that ritual with me,” she said with a very slight smile upon her lips.

They finished their tea, and shortly after ten in the morning, Harry found himself crossing the barrier onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters at a trot. He was amazed when he crossed the barrier, but quickly remembered to clear the way so he wasn’t run over by the next trunk laden trolley to cross the barrier.

Harry had a scroll-note appear in his A.R.M.

            Note to self: If I am reading this, I have safely arrived on Platform Nine and Three Quarters. As I meet other people I will provide myself with further information as it is available.

            In general, bigotry runs rampant through the wizarding culture. Pure-bloods hating mundane-born, mundane-born despising pure-bloods, light versus dark, dark versus light, school house against school house. Would it be better to distance myself from such things, or embrace them? I don’t know. But I think in order to be myself, I should be careful of falling into the bigotry trap. Not all pure-bloods are blood-supremacists, not all light spells are good, not all dark spells are bad (and light and dark labels appear to be subjective rather than objective).

            I should not shun people because of first impressions. Sometimes they are just nervous and what their parents spout falls out of their mouths. Some of them are shy, and others are complete jerks. But I won’t necessarily know that by first impressions. I need to get to know them before making a decision. They are only children like I am, and may grow up to be fine adults. Or they might become wizarding versions of the Dursleys. Only time will truly tell. ~HJP

Harry dismissed the note, wondering about the advice and how he could have known that to write it to himself. Stheno never mentioned the notes, not even in passing, so he wondered if she even knows about them.

There weren’t a lot of students there yet, but Harry did see the Addams family, as Morticia and Gomez were immediately recognizable to him. There was a very tall grayish looking man in a butler’s uniform, an old stout bald man, an old hunched witch, a large chubby blond boy in a black and white striped t-shirt, and a girl with black hair in twin plaits wearing a black dress with white lace collar and trim.

Harry pushed his trolley to the group and Gomez noticed him first, and bounded over to Harry and effusively shook Harry’s hand. “Harry, old boy! Good to see you again. You look in fine health! Come meet the family.” Gomez dragged Harry over to the family. “Everyone, this is our cousin, Harry. Morticia, you remember of course.”

“Bon jour, Morticia, nice to see you again.” Harry removed his fedora as he greeted his cousin, and took her hand in his, only to kiss the air over her hand as this felt like a formal introduction to his relations. Morticia seemed pleased with the greeting.

“Good morning, Cousin Harry. I see you have changed your hair. It does suit you.” Morticia then kissed his cheek.

“This is Grandmama, my mother.” Gomez introduced the old crone with frizzy white hair, wearing a red paisley shawl over a black bombazine skirt, and fleece slippers.

“This is the new cousin, eh? Looks too thin to be good eatin’. We’ll need to fatten him up,” she cackled.

Harry took Grandmama’s hand and repeated the gesture he had performed with Morticia, “It is nice to meet you, too, Grandmama Addams. You look too tough and stringy to be very good eating. Maybe if you were tenderized and marinated for a year, it would be worth the effort.” Harry grinned at her. He had no idea where the confidence for the banter came from.

“Ooh, he’s cheeky! Definitely a cousin worth keeping.”

“And this is Morticia’s uncle, Fester.” Gomez introduced the bald, barrel shaped man with sunken eyes, wearing a black great coat.

“Did you like the dynamite Pugsley and I sent you? Blow anything up yet?” He shook Harry’s hand almost as effusively as Gomez. Harry gave him a slight bow as they shook hands.

“Er, Yes, I do like the dynamite, and no, I haven’t used it yet. I haven’t found something I want to use it on yet. I’m waiting until I find the right toilet. Nice to meet you, Fester.”

“That’s the spirit!” exclaimed Gomez. “This is my son, Pugsley.” Harry shook the hand of the fat blond boy with the unfortunate likeness to Dudley. He was leaner looking than Dudley, and being older he was taller, and had a strong grip. Fortunately, while he resembled Dudley, he didn’t resemble a pig in a wig.

“I’m sure you’ll find the right toilet, Harry. If you don’t, I suggest using it as a land mine in a street crossing after removing the street signs.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Pugsley. Nice to meet you.”

“This is our darling daughter, Wednesday.” Harry took the offered hand of the girl with the twin braids. In her other hand she carrying a small cage containing a huge hairy red tarantula.

Harry bowed over her hand and exercised his French, “Enchanté, cousin à moi.”

“Merci, cousin. This is my familiar, Homer.” She held up the cage with the spider.

“Hello, Homer.”

“And finally, we have Lurch, our butler.”

Harry looked way up at the butler, and shook the massive hand that swallowed his own. The butler looked down with his sunken blue eyes, and groaned.

“Dear Lurch, always such an eloquent speaker,” commented Morticia.

“Nice to meet you Lurch. I’m sorry I couldn’t meet with you on your earlier visit to London.”

Lurch groaned again and released Harry’s hand.

“Thing and Cousin Itt are holding down the fort back home, or they would have been here for the send-off as well,” stated Gomez.

“I’ll just have to greet them next time.” Harry went back to his trunk and lifted the covering on Hedwig’s cage, “Everyone, this is Hedwig, my familiar.”

“Ooh, an owl, I haven’t eaten owl in years,” said Grandmama. Harry was beginning to believe that Grandmama sorted everything into three categories: edible, potion ingredient, and inedible. He was unsure if those categories had any overlap, but he suspected they did.

Harry dropped the covering. “Thank you for lending me the books, Gomez. I can return them to you now, if you like. I’m done reading them.”

“So soon? Extraordinary! Give them to Wednesday. She can bring them home when she visits for the winter break.” Harry nodded his agreement.

“Keep them for a while yet, Harry. If we need any of them back before the end of the year, we’ll let you know,” said Morticia.

The Addams clan was garnering a lot of attention as the platform started to fill up with students and their families. Gomez commented that he loved the red train, and that he’d have to add a model of it to his collection.

They chatted for a bit longer, then Harry suggested that Wednesday and he go find a compartment before they all filled up. Lurch grabbed both the trunks off their trolleys (after Harry rescued Hedwig) and carried them up to the train. The butler’s size and demeanor caused the crowds of students and families to split like the Red Sea before Moses. He found them an empty compartment and tucked away their trunks. Wednesday gave Lurch a hug around the legs, and he awkwardly, yet gently patted her back. The girl immediately straightened herself as if embarrassed she had expressed such emotion in public.

After Lurch left, shambling along the corridor and off the train, Wednesday and Harry sat down facing each other next to the window. They looked out into the crowds to the opening created by people not wanting to walk too close to the Addams family. They waved their goodbyes, and had their goodbyes returned, and when Harry blinked, the family was gone from the platform.

An awkward silence enveloped the two for a few minutes. The compartment door opened by an older student, and closed immediately after Wednesday gave the interloper a look that should kill, leaving the two alone in the compartment again.

“So, Wednesday, why did you want to enroll at Hogwarts rather than a school closer to home?”

“To torment my parents, and to meet my cousin, and eventually torment him as well.”

“Really? I don’t particularly want to be tormented.”

“That is what makes it fun.”

“You’d get along with my cousin Dudley then.”

“Why?”

“He enjoys tormenting others, especially if they can’t or won’t fight back.”

“Then I would not get along with him at all.”

“Why is that?”

“What fun is there in tormenting something that can’t or won’t fight back? There is no challenge to it. No sense of danger. No element of reprisal.”

“Ah. You aren’t a bully then, just someone looking for an equal.”

“Very astute. Do you like fencing?”

“So far. Your father is a good teacher.”

“He is. He says you are a natural hand with a rapier. I shall have to test that.”

“As long as we don’t destroy the castle and fix whatever we break.”

“Of course. I have no desire to ruin my home for the next several years. At least until I graduate. Or get expelled.” She stared at him for a while. The silence almost became uncomfortable. “Why do you hide your scar?”

“Because it draws attention to me for something I wasn’t responsible for. Also, I’d rather people on the train get their first impression of me being me, rather than forming an opinion of me based on my fame. My name in and of itself will cause that. The scar is superfluous at this point, other than it identifies me without people needing to actually greet me.”

“I see. Then for the train ride, you are just Harry, and I am just Wednesday, and are last names don’t exist.”

“Thank you cousin, you are most understanding.”

“Of course. My family name has infamy and notoriety as well, so I will follow your example on this. It will be an interesting social experiment to see how they react when they discover our full names. My mother mentioned that you and she share several traits but would not elaborate. I presume it has something to do with the time she spent over here with you this summer?”

“You resent that I took your parents away from you for about two weeks, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“She couldn’t say more because of the vows of secrecy she had to take before coming to treat me. Because of my fame, the matron wanted to be very careful who knew about me and why I needed to be treated.”

“Did my father have to take those vows?”

“I presume he did, though I am not sure.”

“It would not matter if he did or didn’t. He would have been bound by them anyway.”

“Why is that?”

“My parents are soul mates,” Wednesday stated that as if that was all the explanation that was needed.

‘Stheno? What is a soul mate?’

‘A soul mate is someone who resonates with you and your magic right down to your soul. They don’t always get along, and like any relationship, you need to work to keep it strong and healthy. What the girl is referring to is that soul mates are the exception to secrecy vows. Anything one knows can be told to the other and vice versa. And any vow of secrecy one gives applies to the other whether they want it to or not. However, in order for those exceptions to take effect, the two must be aware that the other is their soul mate, and have formalized it with a bond.’

‘Thank you. Later you will need to tell me about how to identify a soul mate.’

‘I look forward to the conversation, royal mortal.’

“Well, Wednesday, I think the traits your mother was referring to are rather personal. However, for my cousin I think I can reveal a few. She told me we share a life of tragic experiences, a thirst for knowledge, desiring to find a place where we fit, and a sense of adventure. And Pterolocution.”

“Really? What were you treated for?”

“My incurable sense of decency.”

Wednesday crossed her arms. The door opened again, this time after a polite knock. “Excuse me, but might I join you? All the compartments are filling up fast,” said the girl at the door. She had red hair in a plait down her back and brown eyes. Her clothing was a nice blue summer dress. Wednesday glared at the interloper.

Harry quickly activated a quest through his A.R.M. to greet a girl his own age (which he had four hours to complete). “Of course. Let me assist you with your trunk.” The girl came in to the compartment and Harry went out to find an older, square jawed, witch with close cropped gray hair and a monocle, out in the hall.

“No need. I’ve got her trunk in hand,” she said in a voice full of authority. And she did, as she had one hand on the trunk and it was levitating. So Harry stepped out of the way and allowed the older witch to tuck the trunk away.

He entered behind, and held out his hand. “Hello, my name is Harry, and this is Wednesday.” Harry heard his A.R.M. chime.

The red head took his hand, “It’s nice to meet you. My name is Susan B…” she was interrupted by Harry.

“Sorry. No surnames allowed in this compartment, Susan. We want to get to know people before any opinions are formed based on family name.” He shook her hand and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“That is an innovative idea. I’m Amelia, Susan’s aunt,” said the older witch to Wednesday, as she had met Harry at Hogwarts. “Allow me to assist you in your endeavor.” She took out her wand and conjured a brightly colored plaque that you couldn’t miss as you entered the compartment saying ‘No surnames allowed. Given names only.’ She then turned back to the children. “First years, I presume?”

“Yes, madam,” responded Harry. And then he got two scroll-notes.

            Note to self: Susan Bones, Heir to the House of Bones. Half-blood. Lives with her mother and father. Mostly likely will be sorted into Hufflepuff. I should try to get to know her. She will be a competent witch and has a strong sense of duty. Her paternal aunt is Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. ~HJP

“A pleasure to meet you, Harry, Wednesday. Susan, behave yourself at school, and I’ll see you over winter break.”

“Yes, auntie.” With that, the older witch gave her niece a hug and kiss on the cheek before leaving. Before the door closed they heard a girl shriek, “Lee! Get that thing away from me!”

“Must be a spider.”

“Why do you say that, Wednesday?” asked Susan.

“Because girls mostly shriek like that in regards rodents, snakes and spiders. Of the three, only spiders are allowed on the train, so it must be a spider.”

“Sorry, but only cats, owls and toads are allowed, aren’t they?”

Wednesday said, “They made and exception this year. Meet Homer,” and held up the spider’s cage. Susan shrieked in surprise. “See?”

“Why do you have a spider?” asked the startled Susan.

“She’s my familiar.”

“You have a girl spider, as a familiar, named Homer,” repeated Susan.

“Yes.” Wednesday dared the other girl to find fault with her familiar with a single glare.

Changing targets, Susan asked, “Harry, what about you? Is that an owl cage?”

“Yes it is. Hedwig is currently taking a nap. I’ll introduce you to her later. Do you have a pet or familiar?”

“No, I don’t. I want a cat, but I haven’t found one that I like yet.”

“We have a cat named Kitty Kat. He’s adorable and fun to ride.” Susan (and Harry) goggled a bit at the idea that a cat would be big enough to ride.

Harry braved on, expecting something weird, after recalling something that Madam Pomfrey said. “What breed of cat do you have, Wednesday?”

“A panthera leo.”

“A what?” asked Susan.

“An African lion.”

Harry forestalled Susan’s obvious disbelief by asking, “How is your mother’s vulture? Zelda, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. Zelda is doing quite fine. Though I think Zelda is a bit distraught at not being able to deliver mail to me or my brother.”

“You are an American, aren’t you Wednesday?” asked Susan.

“Yes.”

Another knock on the door, and the door opened. The opener was about to speak when they noticed the sign and stared for a moment. He closed the door and went on his way.

“Just because you think your family name is that important is no reason to be rude,” lamented Susan.

“Who was that?” asked Wednesday.

“That was Ernest. He’s from one of the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ pureblood families. I’d mention his surname, but those are forbidden.” She smiled at the other two.

Wednesday asked, “That pureblood mania is still going strong over here, is it?”

“Yes it is. I don’t think he is one of them, but he seems to flout his family name about in order to impress people.”

“Ah. That would explain why the sign repelled him. Too bad for him that we have some of the most interesting surnames,” responded Harry.

“Do we?” asked Susan.

“Of course,” said Wednesday. “Otherwise, why would we hide them?” Susan and Harry laughed at that. Then the door opened again. There was a round-faced, short, chubby blond boy at the door. “Excuse me, has anyone seen a toad?”

Wednesday pointed on top of Susan’s trunk. “You mean that one?”

“Trevor!” The boy lunged at the toad only for it to hop back out into the hall and disappear.

Harry called after him, “When you catch the toad, come back and join us!”

No sooner than the door closed someone knocked on it, then it opened again. In the doorway stood a tall girl with long black hair, a heavy jutting jaw and a large square build wearing a black jumper and a brown dress, and a face that looked like it had an unfortunate meeting with a cricket bat. She took one look at the sign, shrugged, and dragged her trunk in. Wednesday helped her before Harry could, and between the two, they seemed to effortlessly wrangle the trunk into the corner.

“I’m Millicent.”

            Note to self: Millicent Bulstrode. Maybe a Pure-blood. Likely to be sorted into Slytherin. She has a mean left, and fights dirty. Rather quiet. Father is possibly a dark wizard and his family is probably pure-blood fanatics. I do not know if Millicent follows her family’s beliefs out of duty, or belief, or fear of reprisal from other pure-blood bigots. I should see if it is worth becoming her friend. ~HJP

Millicent squared away her cat carrier. Harry felt these notes from his alter ego was causing him to cheat the no surname rule. He stood extended his hand, and shook hers. “I’m Harry, this is Wednesday, and this is Susan.”

“Nice to meet you.” Her voice was deep for a girl and she towered over the other three by a head at least. She took his hand. “Why the no surname rule?” she asked.

“So we can get to know each other before being influenced by opinions related to surnames,” responded Harry.

She thought about it. “Makes sense I suppose. Though I suspect many of us will know the surnames of others because the community is rather tightly knit.”

“Maybe. But we can at least pretend for the time being. First year, too?”

Millicent’s response was interrupted when the door was opened by the blonde boy, who was dragging his trunk behind him and carrying his toad. He was followed by a girl with bushy brown hair, brown eyes, and rather large front teeth dragging a trunk behind her. They stowed their trunks with some difficulty and when they were done, Harry introduced himself. “Hello, welcome to the surnameless compartment. Leave your surnames at the door. I’m Harry, this lovely and intimidating lady is Wednesday, and this lovely and charming lady is Susan, and this lovely and warm lady is Millicent. We are all first years.” Harry got another chime for introducing himself to the girl. He held out his hand to the boy.

“Um. I’m Hermione, and this is Neville. We are first years as well.”

            Note to self: Hermione Granger, mundane born. Likely to be sorted into Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. Brilliant witch. I should make the effort to be her friend. She needs friends as her bossy know-it-all attitude drives the wizard raised and many of the mundane raised children away. The know-it-all behavior appears to be her way of covering up being nervous. Usually has her nose stuck in a book or can be found in the library. ~HJP

            Note to self: Neville Longbottom, Heir to House Longbottom. Pure-blood. Likely to be sorted into Gryffindor. A staunch friend and ally. Shy and insecure. I should befriend him as soon as possible. At some point I should find a way to help him get a wand suited to him. His father’s wand is not one that accepts anyone just because they are family. Great at herbology. Braver than he knows. ~HJP

Harry shook Hermione’s and Neville’s hand. Neville shyly shook everyone’s hand, and Hermione shook them confidently.

“Stay!” commanded Wednesday, and that startled everyone. When everyone looked at what she was looking at by the door, Neville leapt over and cried “Trevor!”

“Neville, you should keep your toad in a cage if you are worried about his wandering on his own” chided Wednesday.

“He normally isn’t this active.”

Wednesday took her tarantula out of the cage, causing Hermione and Neville to squeak, and handed the cage over to Neville. “The only reason Homer is in a cage is to keep her from accidently being sat on. Use that cage to keep Trevor from escaping again.”

“Um… if you’re sure…” Neville reluctantly accepted the cage and had to fight to get Trevor in the cage. After Trevor was inside, Neville relaxed a bit.

Once again, Harry had to explain the purpose of the sign, and Hermione thought it was a great idea. From outside the window they heard a boy yell, “Mum – geroff!”

And then the door opened again, and two very tall redheaded twins stuck their head inside. “Oh, look Fred, ickle firsties!”

“So I see, George. And look—”

“No surnames. How—”

“Interesting. However this—”

“Compartment is mostly—”

“Full. And we must have—”

“The wrong car, as our good—”

“Friend, Lee, isn’t here.”

“Ta-ta, ickle firsties,” said the boys in unison. During their back and forth monologue, they used their height to move some of the trunks around to make more room in the compartment and yet allow access to the trunks. Then they closed the door and went down the hall. A short time later, a woman outside hollered “Fred, George, are you there?”

“Coming, Mum!” they heard from the end of the car.

            Note to self: Fred and George Weasley. Pure-bloods without the bigotry. Twins and pranksters. In Gryffindor and play on the quidditch team. Very solid allies and friends. Smart and inventive. Never eat anything they offer me. It might turn me into a canary. ~HJP

Moments later, the door opened once more, and another set of twins were at the door. Both had dusky skin, dark eyes and long dark hair. One of the girl’s hair was in a plait, the other was in a loose pony tail. “Sorry for not knocking, we didn’t know it was occupied,” said the one with the plaited hair.

“Is there room for two more?” asked the other.

“Come on in, the more the merrier,” said Harry, and he and Neville helped the girls bring in their trunks. They were just about to do introductions when the door opened again, and a tall redhead asked, “Is there any room… Eek!” and he fell over backwards screaming like a girl, and the previous two red-headed twins were laughing.

The girl with the ponytail asked, “What’s his problem?” Harry pointed at Homer who was clinging to the window. “Oh!”

The laughing maniacs named Fred and George lifted up their gibbering sibling and said, “Sorry for the interruption—”

“Please return to what you were—”

“Or weren’t, doing.” And with that, they closed the door.

After a brief pause, Harry made the introductions. The girl with the pony tail said, “I am Padma.” The one with the plait said, “I am Parvati.” Padma said down next to Millicent and Parvati sat down next to Neville.

Wednesday wrote a note with a black marker on a notebook page saying, “All Full” and posted it on the outside of the door. Another girlish scream could be heard from down the corridor followed by more laughing.

“They do know how to torment their brother,” commented Wednesday.

            Note to self: Padma and Parvati Patil. Pure-Bloods, without the bigotry. Padma will likely sort into Ravenclaw, and Parvati will likely sort into Gryffindor. Both are very smart and brave, though I think Parvati likes girly things far more than Padma (talking about boys, fashion, boys, gossip, boys). Both are brilliant with potions, though Padma is more serious about it than Parvati. Parvati however has a better grasp of charms and a love of divination. If I treat them with respect, they should be good friends. ~HJP

The train left the station while the eight first years settled into their compartment. Harry had received several notes in his A.R.M. and he was rather contemplative for a while. The notes mentioned things about all the occupants and he was trying to assimilate that information in addition to watching the magic flowing within the train.


The Twist


After a bit of chit chat, Harry asked, “Any one up for some games? I understand it is a long ride to Hogwarts.”

Padma asked, “What sort of games did you have in mind?”

“Well, with eight of us, we could play Morgana’s Twist. I’ve a deck of cards. Has anyone played before?”

“I have,” replied Wednesday.

“As have I. My great-grandmother insists on playing it when she comes to visit,” added Millicent.

The others responded negatively.

“Let’s play double deck. Double deck is better for eight players,” suggested Wednesday.

Harry pulled his tarot deck out of his trunk and Wednesday pulled one out of her trunk, and both started shuffling while Millicent explained the rules to the others. Hermione was surprised it was played with a tarot deck rather than a set of mundane playing cards.

The game was very much like a cross between rummy and pinochle, but the major arcana is where the twist came in, as each major arcana was a trump card. Wednesday’s and Harry’s decks had the same card backing design, but the faces of the cards had different motifs. Wednesday’s was much more morbid and the colors were more muted.

Wednesday then shuffled the two decks together, and dealt. “The first three hands we will play without forfeits, so that everyone can get used to the game.”

“Forfeits? What kind of forfeits?” asked Hermione, her voice sounding slightly panicked.

Wednesday replied, “Usually truth or dare. Winner asks one of the losers a question. The questioned player can opt to not answer by accepting a dare.”

“We s-should set limits on the forfeits,” said Neville nervously.

“Such as?” Harry asked (and rather agreed with Neville given what he knew of Wednesday).

“Nothing that could cause harm. And nothing overly embarrassing, and no questions about family, since surnames are forbidden.”

“How about this,” suggest Padma, “In addition to Neville’s suggestion, everyone gets three passes. If they don’t like the question, and don’t like the dare, they can use one of their passes. If a question or dare is passed, it can’t be issued to anyone else. And dares that require the person to essentially answer the question are not allowed.”

Agreements to the suggestion were nearly unanimous. Wednesday said she thought the ideas took the fun out of the forfeits, but went along with the majority.

The first round winner, after three practice rounds, was Hermione. “Susan, what’s your favorite book?”

The Tales of Camelot and the Maidens of Magic.

Play continued until Padma won. “Wednesday, what is your favorite game?”

“The Death of Marie Antoinette.”

“The death of… that’s a game?” asked Neville.

“Yes. You choose a doll, and march them to the guillotine, read them the crimes they committed against the people of France, and then behead them.” Everyone but Harry gave Wednesday a strange look, until Padma dealt a new hand.

Hermione won the next one. “Neville, what is your favorite book?”

Herb Gardens, Magical and Mundane.

Wednesday won the next one. “Padma, who was your first victim?”

“Victim?”

“Victim.” Padma looked at her sister, and they appeared to have a silent twin conversation. Harry was interested to note that there was a trickle of magic that flowed between them.

“What kind of victim?”

“I didn’t specify.”

“Umm. Dare.”

“Hop on one foot fifteen times.” That was a bit tricky on a moving train, but after three tries, she completed the dare.

The next winner was Neville. “Harry, when’s your birthday?”

Harry appeared to ponder that, and replied, “I’ll take a dare.” Everyone wondered about that, but Wednesday wasn’t one of them.

“Um… Act like a hen for one minute,” said Neville. Hermione pulled out a watch. Harry proceeded to act like a chicken and clucked most convincingly. Using Pterolocution he was saying, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout…” Wednesday was stoically suppressing a laugh, which Harry took to mean she was also a Pterolocuter as well.

“Millicent, what’s your favorite school subject,” asked Susan, when she won the next hand.

“Charms.”

And play continued. Whenever Hermione won, she asked someone about their favorite book or book genre. Neville tried to find out birthdays or favorite plants, Millicent was rather inventive with her questions, getting most people to accept dares. And she was more inventive with her dares, like daring one of the twins to kiss Trevor, or Hermione to pet Homer. Wednesday forced the most people to use their passes. All in all, a good time was had for the next couple of hours. People broke out lunches and Harry had his potions which raised a couple of eyebrows. When the trolley witch came by, Harry bought a bit of everything share as he had never had anyone to share things with before. He also bought enough to have a supply of sweets through the year, as he had read that students under third year couldn’t go to Hogsmeade and visit Honeydukes.

Wednesday was fascinated by Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and Chocolate Frogs. Apparently they didn’t have anything like that in America. Millicent warned, “You’ll want to be careful with the beans. When they say every flavor, the mean every flavor.”

“That would have been a wonderful dare for forfeits. The loser having to eat three beans and identify the flavors,” said Wednesday.

“The identification is easy. The boxes are charmed to let you know exactly what the flavor is after you’ve tasted it.”

“Eww,” said Hermione. “Troll booger,” and delicately spit the remains out into a napkin. She then had a pumpkin pasty to remove the taste from her mouth.

Harry opened a Chocolate Frog only to have it hop into Hermione’s lap causing her to jump in surprise. Harry was looking at the card. Millicent asked, “Did you get Godric Gryffindor, or Circe? I’m need them for my collection.”

“No, I got Headmaster Dumbledore.” Harry was reading that Dumbledore was famous for defeating Grindelwald, discovering the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and for his work in Alchemy with Nicholas Flamel.

“Oh. I have about fifteen of him.”

Neville gave Harry his frog card of Herpo the Foul. “Here. You can use this to start your own collection. I already have Herpo.”

Hermione opened one and gave it to Millicent. “Here, I found a Circe.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to start your own collection? She’s on the rare side.”

“Positive. She’s all yours, Millicent.”

“Thank you!”

Harry was discovering that Susan had a rather dry wit. Millicent was actually quite the story teller and Neville, while rather shy, was knowledgeable about gardens and riddles. The twins were very smart, as was Hermione (who might qualify as scary smart). Hermione tended to quote books and be rather bossy. Wednesday had a macabre sense of humor and loved making people feel ill at ease, and had a commanding demeanor. Harry liked all of them.

The door opened, and on the other side of the threshold, was a pale blonde boy with aristocratic features, wearing finely tailored school robes. Harry remembered meeting him at Madam Malkin’s. He was flanked by two, large, dark haired boys who appeared to have maybe three brain cells to share between two of them. The blond pompously said, “I’m looking for Harry Potter. I understand he is on the train.” Looking around the room and seeing how well Harry was dressed, he addressed Harry. “I don’t recognize you. What family do you come from?”

Wednesday acerbically said without looking up from her chocolate frog card, “You’re either blind, or illiterate.”

“What did you say?”

“Do I need to add deaf to the list?”

“And who are you? You’re obviously an American,” the boy said disdainfully.

“Obviously. Still, you can’t or won’t read.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Turn your pointed face to your left. Bright purple lettering on a yellow background. Can’t miss it unless you are blind.”

“So?”

“Ah… Someone who doesn’t like rules. Or can’t read. You keep asking us our names like you expect them to mean something to you. Well, the only names you’ll get are first names in this compartment. So, either supply one, or get out.” During the entire exchange, Wednesday had a tone of voice that would freeze a heliopath and never once looked up from her chocolate frog card.

The boy narrowed his eyes at Wednesday, and said, “I will not forget this.”

As he turned to leave, Wednesday shot back at him, “Please do. It will be so much more fun to remind you of your idiocy.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Nope. Do you know who I am? Thought not. Too bad you didn’t tell use your first name, then you’d have half a clue.”

“You will pay for this.”

Wednesday flipped him a galleon without looking at him. “Will that suffice? Or do you need more?”

The boy caught the galleon, looked at it, and dropped it on the floor, leaving the compartment without another word.

A few minutes later, Millicent said, “I’d tell you who that was, but that would require me to violate the sanctity of the compartment.” They all snickered. Padma retrieved the galleon and returned it to Wednesday.

Susan said, “I can tell you who that was as well. A nasty ponce.” They laughed at that.

Harry got another scroll-note.

            Note to self: Draco Malfoy, Pure-blood and bigot. Ferret like face, thinks he is more important than god, and his parents spoil him. Favorite phrase, “Wait until my father hears of this.” May not be a bad person, but indoctrinated with pure-blood rhetoric. It would be best if I do not shun his clumsy attempt at friendship. That may not prevent him from becoming a rival, but it should avoid making him an enemy. His father is rather wealthy, politically influential, and on the Hogwarts’ Board of Governors. His father is also considered a dark wizard.

            Draco is almost always accompanied by the dimwit duo of Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. I would do well to not underestimate the danger those two represent. Even an idiot can kill someone. An idiot with magic just has more options. ~HJP

Why was his alter-ego providing him with all this information? It was more than a little unsettling, especially as he discovered how true it was, like with Neville and herbology. He was wondering if there was a way to turn that feature off.

Some other people popped into the compartment now and then, much more politely, and made first name introductions with the occupants. When the four hour time limit for his quest had passed, Harry had only introduced himself to fifteen girls for his quest. He would have had more successes, if the other girls hadn’t introduced him to the newcomers first.

Harry felt he was doing well on making his first set of friends.


The Loo


“We should get into our school robes,” said Hermione.

“Ok. Give Neville and me a chance to grab our uniforms and we’ll step out and go to the loo to change.”

“Aw. I was hoping to see naked boys for the first time,” complained Millicent.

“I’ll see what I can do to help you with that goal, Millicent,” commented Wednesday.

And things devolved from there, as Neville and Harry quickly made their escape. Once they were in the loo and changing, Neville asked, “Is it okay to ask your surname now?”

“Yes. Though I would appreciate if you kept it under your hat until it becomes public knowledge.”

“Oh? You’re that Harry?”

“If you mean the son of the Prince of Wales, then no.”

Neville nervously laughed. “No… I mean The Boy Who Lived.”

“Ah… that Harry. Then yes, I am Harry Potter. And please, never call me that again.”

“Oh… sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories. I’m Neville Longbottom.”

“It’s more the undeserved fame thing than the reminder about my parents.” Harry checked to make sure they were alone in the loo. “Again, this is something to keep quiet about please. I was raised by muggle relatives. I only learned about being a wizard on my birthday a month ago. I was… unprepared for the fame that event brought. If I could, I would shed the fame like a snake shedding his skin.”

“Oh. You said your birthday was a month ago? So was mine! Mine is the Thirtieth of July.”

“Ah, mine is the Thirty-First of July. Happy belated birthday, Neville.”

“Happy belated birthday, Harry.”

As they exited the loo, they encountered Draco Malfoy, without his bookends, heading into the loo. “You. You never answered my question.”

Harry responded. “You. You never asked it politely. That, and you and my cousin never gave me a chance to answer.”

Draco had to obviously reign in his temper a bit. “Right. My name is Draco Malfoy. And you are?” Draco extended his hand.

“My name is Harry Potter,” and Harry grasped the extended hand. Draco’s eyes drifted to Harry’s forehead. “And this is Neville Longbottom.”

“We’ve met,” said Neville.

“I suspected as much. No other compartment had admitted to meeting Harry Potter, though a few people said they had met a Harry, but didn’t know his last name.”

“I’m sorry about that misunderstanding. I just wanted a chance to get to know some people before they started making assumptions about me based on my name.”

“That… makes some sense actually. Well, I expect you may be at a loss to the societal aspects of the wizarding world, because no one has ever seen you in society. I can help you there, and introduce you to the best families.”

“I will accept your introductions.”

“Excellent. This way then, Potter.”

“Excuse me, Malfoy. I didn’t mean right now. We’re expected back in our compartment. And please, don’t let on that you found me out. I’d rather it be a surprise, as only you, Neville and my cousin are in on the secret.”

“Oh. Well, then after the start of term feast or at breakfast the next morning then?”

“That works for me. Oh, and please do be careful with my cousin. She can be very vindictive. Very.” Harry may not know Wednesday well, but even he could tell that was true.

“I’ll keep that in mind. By the way, who is she?”

“My cousin? Her name is Wednesday. She’d prefer to keep her surname a surprise.”

Harry noticed as he turned to away from him that Draco appeared to have an epiphany, and stiffened significantly. He might also have turned a shade or two paler than his already pale complexion. Harry remembered that Dumbledore said the school governors generally refused foreign students to the school, and wondered if maybe Mr. Malfoy might have mentioned something and Draco just made the connection.

 

Final Game


When they returned to the compartment, the girls were all dressed in their uniforms. Now that they were in their uniforms, some of the nervousness of being in a new school settled in.

Hermione asked, “What houses do you think we will be sorted into? I’m hoping for Gryffindor, as that’s the house Dumbledore was in during his schooling.” Millicent and Wednesday made a disapproving face at that comment.

Susan said, “I’m hoping for Hufflepuff, as that is where my auntie was sorted.” Wednesday rolled her eyes, and Millicent snorted.

Neville said, “I just hope I’m sorted. My family thought I might have been a squib until recently. They found out I had magic when my great-uncle was dangling me out the window by my ankles trying to get me to display magic. He was distracted when he was offered some lemon meringue and let go. I bounced instead of going splat, and that made my family very happy.”

“I’ll probably get Slytherin,” said Millicent. “My father and his parents and their parents were all in Slytherin.”

“Why would you be sorted into a house just because your parents were sorted there?” asked Hermione.

“It is something of a tradition in wizarding society to be sorted where your parents got sorted. There are some that don’t follow that tradition.”

“Is that the house you want, or the one you are resigned to entering?” asked Wednesday.

After a moment of thought, “I don’t know. If I get a different house, it will cause a trouble with the family. If I get into Slytherin, I don’t know if I’ll actually be happy there. There are a lot of students in the older years that I already know that are in that house, and I don’t like most of them.”

“I hope you get a house that suits you and you can be happy in,” said Harry.

“We don’t really have a preference,” said Padma indicating her sister and herself.

Wednesday added, “I’ve looked at the extolled virtues of each house, and I can’t say I prefer one over the other.”

“I’m not sure where I’ll be sorted either. I’ve done as Wednesday has, and looked at the various information available on the houses, but none of them strike me as being better or worse than the others,” was Harry’s opinion.

They continued to talk and joke around until the announcement that they would be arriving at the station in ten minutes.

“Alright, I have a final game.” Harry pulled out eight pieces of paper and some pencils. “Everyone write their first name across the top. Then write the first name of the other occupants on the page. Then write down what you think their surname to be. We will then hand the papers to the right, and that person will then look to see if the paper has their correct last name. If it does, then put a check beside it. If it does not, put an x beside it. Then pass it on to the next person until you get your paper back.”

They looked at him strangely, and then proceeded to follow his instructions. Harry noticed everyone guessed his name was Potter. When they got around to having their own papers back Harry asked, “Who has seven right answers?” He raised his hand but no one else did.

He continued, “Six right?” Neville raised his hand.

“Five right?” Millicent and Susan raised their hands.

“Four?” The twins raised their hand.

“Three?” Wednesday’s hand went up.

“Two?” Blushing, Hermione lifted her hand.

Hermione demanded, “How did you get all seven right? Did Neville tell you my surname when you went to the loo?”

“No, he didn’t. I looked at your trunks as you brought them in. I also know that you all guessed my last name correctly. Please keep that quiet until the sorting. Since you all saw my paper, you should know everyone’s last name now. While it is unlikely that we all be sorted into the same house, just the same, I hope we can remain friends.”

Hermione looked at him skeptically. Harry decided to do a round of formal introductions, including bowing over the ladies knuckles. Neville did the same once he realized the introductions were formal. Hermione blushed at the formal handshake and bow from both Neville and Harry.

His sentiment on friendship was echoed around the compartment.

Chapter Text

The Sorting Feast


After the train pulled to a stop, the conductor announced that everyone should leave their luggage on the train, as it would be brought up separately. Harry opened Hedwig’s cage, and introduced her to everyone before letting her fly out the compartment window. Wednesday scooped up Homer and placed the spider on her shoulder. Neville was undecided as to whether or not he should take Trevor, but he finally decided to leave Trevor in the cage with his trunk, with a promise to return the cage to Wednesday. Millicent checked on her black cat, Leopoldina, and left her in the travel cage for the time being.

As they exited the train, they could hear Hagrid calling out “Firs’ years! Firs’ years!” and waving his lantern. Hagrid who hadn’t seen Harry’s new hairstyle didn’t recognize him at first. Only after he appeared to have all the first years did he notice that Harry had changed his hair. He looked like he was about to say something, so Harry waved him off. Hagrid got the hint and guided the first years down a path different than all the other students.

They reached a dock with a bunch of boats. “Alrigh’ four ter a boat. Careful yeh don’ go overboard. The lake is quite chilly.” Harry ended up in a boat with Wednesday, Neville and Millicent. Susan, Hermione and the Patil twins occupied another boat. Once everyone was seated, Hagrid commanded “Forward!” And the boats pulled away from the dock like a bunch of ducklings following the mother duck. They got their first sight of the castle and Harry had to admit it was a pretty dramatic sight against the evening sky. Much more dramatic than walking up from the gate in the late afternoon.

“Watch yer heads,” said Hagrid as he ducked under the hanging ivy. When they arrived, and were off the boats, Hagrid said to Wednesday, “Yer spider alrigh’?” To which some of the girls and the tall red headed boy let out squeaks of fright.

After settling the first years back down (with Wednesday only having the people she shared a compartment with her nearby) and leading them up some wide stairs, Hagrid announced their arrival with a booming knock. The door opened and Professor McGonagall appeared.

“The firs’ years, Professor.”

“Thank you Hagrid, I’ll take them from here. I am Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress. Follow me.” She led them through the castle to an anteroom. She explained that the sorting would be happening shortly, and how it was important to their schooling. Harry wasn’t sure how splitting up the students was actually helpful, but he supposed there had to be some reason for it beyond what was in Hogwarts: a History.

Some ghosts passed through, talking about Peeves the Poltergeist, and Harry was in agreement that the chaotic cretin shouldn’t be allowed in the feast. Wednesday was interested when the ghosts flew through, but now she looked bored.

Harry put a reassuring hand on Hermione’s shoulder when she started panicking about all the spells she knew and thinking it wouldn’t be enough. She appreciated the gesture. “Breathe, Hermione. It’s not a test.”

“How would you know?”

“Logic. Not everyone will know everything. Some of us haven’t known we were wizards and witches until this summer. So whatever they do, has to be done to everyone, and it is only to sort the students.”

“That… Thanks.”

Harry wondered if his alter-ego was going to tell him where he would be sorted, or if it would be left as a surprise.

McGonagall returned and led the first years out into the great hall. Harry was impressed with the ceiling and the size of the hall, having never seen it during his stay in the castle. The hat on the stool started to sing, and Harry found it interesting that while the hat was splitting them apart, it seemed to be encouraging them to stay together. Harry overheard the tall red head say, “We just have to try on a hat? I’m going to kill Fred. He was going on about how we had to wrestle a troll.”

McGonagall started the roll call, “Abbott, Hannah!”

A girl with blond pigtails nervously stepped out of line and placed the hat on her head after sitting on the stool. After a moment or two, the hat shouted “Hufflepuff!”

The table with black and yellow accents erupted in cheers, as Hannah set the hat down and hurried over to the table.

McGonagall continued, “Addams, Wednesday!” A quiet mummer could be heard from isolated portions of each table. The tarantula on her shoulder generated louder mummers. Malfoy looked a bit queasy at having her surname confirmed. Wednesday gracefully sat on the stool and placed the hat on her head and waited.

And waited. The room was becoming abuzz now.

And still they waited. A full eight minutes passed before the hat shouted out “Hufflepuff!” She then sat that hat on the stool and did a fair imitation of her mother’s regal poise as she approached the table.

There were cheers from the table again, though some of them not as enthusiastic.

“Bones, Susan!”

Susan approached the hat with some trepidation, and placed it on her head. After a couple of moments, the hat declared, “Hufflepuff!”

The Hufflepuff table was cheering again. Someone was chanting “We got the first three! We got the first three!”

Someone from another table yelled back, “But you won’t get any more!”

The next two went to Ravenclaw amongst cheering at that table, the one after that to Gryffindor, who were even more vocal about their new member.

“Bulstrode, Millicent!”

Millicent confidently strode up to the stool and took the hat. A couple of minutes passed, and it looked like Millicent was arguing with the hat. Finally the hat shouted out “Slytherin!” As the Slytherin table burst out into cheers, Harry looked over to them and thought they looked like an unpleasant bunch, and had some understanding as to why Millicent might have had some doubts about being sorted there. He hoped she’d be okay in that house.

Two more sorted to Ravenclaw, followed by two to Slytherin, and then two more to Hufflepuff, with one more each to Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin before Professor McGonagall called out, “Granger, Hermione!”

Hermione approached the hat with determination and set it upon her head. The hat had taken about four and half minutes, and finally declared, “Gryffindor!”

The next four students went quickly to Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

“Longbottom, Neville!”

Neville worriedly approached the hat, nearly tripping twice. After nearly another four and half minutes, the hat declared, “Gryffindor!” Neville ran to his table, and then had to run back as he forgot to leave the hat on the stool.

Another Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were sorted, then it was Draco’s turn. The hat barely touched his head when it shouted out “Slytherin!” Draco walked over to the table with a self-important swagger.

Another Hufflepuff, a Gryffindor and two more Slytherins passed before McGonagall called, “Patil, Padma!”

She took the hat with aplomb, and after a few moments, the hat declared, “Ravenclaw!”

“Patil, Parvati!”

Her sister approached the hat, while the Ravenclaws seemed ready to snatch up a pair of twins, when the hat pronounced, “Gryffindor!” Apparently it was rare for twins to be sorted into different houses, if the reaction of the Ravenclaw table was any indication. The twins didn’t seem all that upset about the sorting though.

Another girl was sorted into Gryffindor, and then it was Harry’s turn. “Potter, Harry!” There was suddenly silence in the room as Harry approached the hat. Everyone seemed to be leaning forward, like they were trying to see his scar, and then a quiet murmur broke out before the hat covered his eyes.

“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Unusual for one so young to have a mind this well defended. Can you relax your mind a bit? Hmm?”

“Um… Who are you?” asked Harry.

“Weren’t you listening? I’m the Sorting Hat.”

“I get that’s what you are, but is that who you are?”

“Oh… I see! Your mother was the last person to ask who I am, young Potter. My name is Godric Helga Rowena Salazar Hat. The founders named me after themselves (alphabetically for fairness) and gave me the surname Hat. My nickname is ‘Sorting Hat’. Now, if you please, soften your mental defenses or we will be here all night.”

Harry tried to do as he was asked, trusting the game book to protect itself accordingly.

“How very strange. And difficult. Your mind appears older than you are, Mr. Potter. Why is that?”

“I don’t know,” responded Harry.

“Sorry, the question was rhetorical. Well, let’s see what we have to work with. Plenty of intellect to be sure, and a strong thirst for knowledge. With Ravenclaw you could sharpen your mind. Ambition and cunning, you have as well, and a thirst for power. Slytherin would help you advance. There is no shortage of bravery or strength of will, and you have a solid sense of justice. Gryffindor would hone those to a point. And you have a superb work ethic and loyalty to those you care for and a strong desire for family and friends. Hufflepuff would be advantageous there. Very difficult indeed. “

Harry waited patiently. The hat kept mulling the decision. “Where to put you? That’s the thing, isn’t it? Most difficult indeed. In Ravenclaw, you should find yourself intellectually challenged and forced to grow. You’d do well in Hufflepuff as you do not shirk from work and have a helpful nature. You have a strong desire to prove yourself, and the cunning to make it happen and survive the social pressures of Slytherin. You have plenty of bravery, and a willingness to throw yourself into danger for the sake of another, the very traits of a Gryffindor. Very challenging to find a home for you. Still, there is something very odd about your mind.”

“How is my mind odd?”

“Because it seems older than you are. You are eleven, right?”

“Yes, I’m eleven.”

“So that’s one oddity. Another oddity is your occlumency strength is beyond what most seventeen year olds can manage. Yet one more is that even with your defenses relaxed, it feels like there are parts of your mind hidden from me, yet it feels like there isn’t at the same time. Most unusual.”

“Oh. I take it I’m the first you’ve come across like this?”

“My, oh my. Yes! Even after one thousand years sorting students, every few years something new and interesting crops up.”

“Were my parents difficult to sort?”

“Hmm? Your parents? Your father was easy, much like the Potters before him. Nearly all of them went to Gryffindor, though a handful went to other houses. Your mother was a different story. She was like you, and could have gone to any house, though Hufflepuff would have been the weakest. You, however, have a strong case for all the houses. Let’s dig about a bit more and see what we can see, shall we?”

The hat mulled Harry’s situation for over seven minutes. Harry finally said, “How about Hufflepuff?”

“Why?”

“Because I have a cousin, and a new friend in that house. Of course I have three friends in Gryffindor, one in Slytherin and one in Ravenclaw as well.”

“If you have three in Gryffindor, wouldn’t you rather go there?”

“But my cousin is in Hufflepuff, and I’ve only just met her. I’d like to get to know her.”

“Hmpf. I need to determine where you would be best suited, not which house has the most people you already like, or where you will be most popular. You are still quite difficult to place.”

“I’ll be popular no matter that house I end up in because of my ‘fame’ for being the boy who lived.”

“That is a factor I am already considering. I have to balance how that affects your ability to thrive and achieve your potential. Do you have a house preference based on something other than who is already in the house?”

“No.”

The hat continued to argue with itself, and just shy of twelve minutes, the hat announced to the room, “Gryffindor!”

The Gryffindor table exploded in cheers with the two red-headed twins chanting “We got Potter! We got Potter!” Harry thanked Hat for its hard work, took off the hat and blinked going from the darkness to the candlelit hall. Harry thought that Malfoy and Bulstrode looked very disappointed. He set the hat on the stool and then walked over to the Gryffindor table. One of the students said, “It must be a momentous year! I don’t think any previous year has had two near hatstalls and two actual hatstalls. I think the last hatstall was a Ravenclaw from eight years ago!”

Someone else replied, “I think the one before that was some guy from Gryffindor who later earned the Order of Merlin in the last war.”

“Did you know Professor McGonagall was a hatstall?” said yet another Gryffindor as Harry made it down to an open seat. Harry took his seat next to Hermione, Nevil and Padma. The hat continued its sorting as McGonagall called out names. Tables cheered appropriately. “Ravenclaw!” “Hufflepuff!” “Slytherin!” “Hufflepuff!” “Gryffindor!”

All that was left were two boys. The brother of the twins Fred and George, and a not as tall black haired boy with dark skin. The red head stepped up next when McGonagall called out “Weasley, Ronald!”

The boy sat on the stool for a full minute before the Hat called out “Gryffindor!” Three tall red-head boys (Harry assumed the third was also a brother of Fred and George) seemed most enthusiastic. The final boy took his seat at a table after the hat hollered “Slytherin!”

McGonagall cleared the stool and hat from the room as Dumbledore stood up. He said a few strange words, and Ron Weasley said in a very impressed tone, “Completely mental he is.” When the speech was over, the feast appeared on the table. The flow of magic that brought the food was impressive to Harry, but it also confused him as it came from under the hall floor instead of from Dumbledore.

Once everyone had some food, the first years started introducing themselves to each other. The first one to be named a Gryffindor was Lavender Brown, a girl with blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a cute nose. Then came Seamus Finnigan, a boy with Sandy colored hair and light brown eyes and pale skin. Lily Moon, a girl with chestnut colored hair in a slanted bob cut so the back was short and the front was long, and green eyes was next. Sally-Anne Perks, a girl with whom an early puberty was being very generous to, and had honey blond hair in a plait, gray eyes, and a lightly freckled face introduced herself. A boy with black hair, brown eyes, and brown skin identified himself as Dean Thomas, and finally, Ronald (call me Ron) Weasley was last. He was very tall, nearly as tall as his twin brothers, with red hair and blue eyes. Harry got notes for all of them, except Lily Moon and Sally-Anne Perks. The one for Ron was noteworthy.

            Note to self: Ron Weasley, pure-blood. Youngest son of the Arthur and Molly Weasley. Not a blood-purist, but rather bigoted with regards to house. Insecure glory seeker. Feels that all his brothers have done everything already, so believes it will be impossible for him to get any recognition as anything other than ‘so and so’s brother’. As a result he tends to slack off on his studies, and if he doesn’t become friends with Hermione, he is likely to just barely get a passing grade. Pretty much only thinks of Quidditch and Wizard Chess, and is quite talented at the latter, and a fair keeper at the former. If he becomes my friend, he will have bouts of jealousy regarding my fame, or the attention I get that he thinks is due to my fame. If he doesn’t become my friend, then he will still be jealous, but it won’t hurt me as much since he won’t be a friend who should know better. Regardless, any romantic interests I develop will cause him jealousy as he will think the girl is just after me for my fame and wealth, or that my fame is the only reason I could gain the girl’s interest.

            Don’t trust his rat, Scabbers. I would be advised to not discuss or do anything secretive in the same room as the rat. ~HJP

What surprised Harry was that there were no notes for Sally-Anne or Lily. Harry dismissed Ron’s note and talked to the others through dinner. He glanced at the Hufflepuff table in time to make eye contact with Wednesday who was looking bored and murderous at the same time. Most of her table mates gave her a fair bit of room because of Homer who was perched on a goblet. Harry gave her a quick smile.

After the meal, as a professor with dark and greasy haired, sallow skin and hooked nose was looking darkly at Harry. While he was talking to Professor Quirrell, whom Harry had been introduced to by Hagrid on his school shopping trip, the vial containing the soul fragment vibrated against Harry’s chest. Harry didn’t know what to make of that, but he could detect some strange magical emanations from Professor Quirrell’s turban. He filed that information away for later.

After the food was cleared away, again by magic from the floor of the hall, Dumbledore stood up and made some announcements regarding the new school year. The one that caused people to whisper was the one banning people from the right hand corridor off the third floor, unless they wanted a ‘most painful death’. Everyone closed out the feast by singing the school song, which was a true cacophony of noise.

They were sent to off to bed. The elder brother of the Weasleys, was calling the first years to follow him and the other fifth year prefect to their dorms.

            Note to self: Percy Weasley, pure-blood. Serious, overly officious and self-absorbed. Prefect. Unlike the rest of the Weasley’s, probably should have been sorted in Slytherin for his ambition, but probably wasn’t because of his lack of guile. Most likely to believe anything the Ministry says directly or through the Daily Prophet, regardless of how improbable. Greatest ambition is to be a Head Boy, and later in life Minister of Magic. Will take the ministry’s side on everything, even against family. ~HJP

Along the way, they ran across Peeves, who dropped a bunch of walking sticks on Neville’s head before zooming away. Harry picked up the sticks and set them neatly in the corner, much to the amusement of the other first years, and Percy’s cajoling him to leave it for Mister Filch.

They were lead through the maze that is the castle to the end of a hall where a large portrait of a very large woman in a pink silk dress. Percy said, “This is the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, and you need the password to gain entrance. Do not share the password with other houses.”

“Password?” asked the fat lady in the painting imperiously.

“Caput Draconis,” responded Percy, to which the portrait swung outward towards them revealing a round hole in the wall. They all piled through the door into the Gryffindor common room. Percy directed the girls through one doorway up some spiral stairs to their dormitory, and the boys through another doorway and a spiral staircase to their dormitory.

Trudging up the stairs to the first dormitory, succinctly labeled ‘First Year Boys’, they entered to find each of their belongings sitting next to one of the five four-poster beds. Unlike the others, who were barely able to change into pajamas before falling asleep, Harry changed into his pajamas, and sat on his bed in the lotus position with the curtains closed, meditating.

Or attempting to meditate. Weasley was snoring rather loudly. So far, Harry had been mostly by himself, or with people who were being quiet, so meditation had been easy. This was a challenge. Stheno even raised that point with him, that learning to ignore distractions while meditating was a useful ability. So he worked at meditating while the snoring droned through the night. He eventually felt centered enough to go to sleep himself.

While everyone else was soundly asleep, he quietly sorted his things from the first trunk into the wardrobe, then stored the trunk itself within the wardrobe before going to bed and falling asleep. Due to the practice at meditating, falling asleep amidst the snores was much easier than it might have been otherwise.

 

The First Morning


Harry got up early, went down to the common room with his rapier, and did his morning exercise, after which he spent some time meditating. After meditation, Harry looked at his rewards and quests, found no quests to his liking. However, he did find a couple of merit rewards had become available from his introducing himself yesterday on the train. The rewards looked particularly useful for learning more complicated aspects of magic. So he selected Wandless Wonder and Verbal Vacancy, both of which he made hereditary. Wandless Wonder would facilitate learning to cast more advanced spells without a wand, and Verbal Vacancy would behave likewise for casting silently. He still had to put in the work for both talents to get the benefit, he just wouldn’t have to put in as much work to see results.

Harry then returned upstairs and performed his morning ablutions, and plaited his hair, tying it off with a black ribbon he’d been given for that purpose. He was getting dressed when the others started waking up, aside from Weasley, who at least had flipped over during the night and was no longer snoring.

“Morning, Harry,” said Neville sleepily.

“Good morning, Neville. Did you sleep alright?”

“Mostly. Woke up in the middle of the night from a dream where I was being chased by snarling dogs, only to find out that sound was Weasley snoring.”

“When you’re ready we can head down to breakfast together. Hopefully the first year girls will be ready as well. Oi! Weasley! Get up, you great lout!” Harry smacked the head board on Ron’s bed.

Ron woke with a start, “Geroff me, Fred!” In his struggle to get out of the clutches of his not present brother, he fell out of the bed in a tangle of bedsheets. “Ow!”

“Time to get up, or you’ll miss breakfast,” said Harry as he finished with his robes and started packing his school bag with quills, ink, parchment and his linked book from his wardrobe.

“I’m up, I’m up. Keep your hair on. Hey, is that a wizard chess set?” Said Ron as he was getting dressed.

“Yes.”

“Wicked. We should play a game this afternoon.”

“If our schedule permits. I’m not very good, though.”

“Just takes practice.”

Harry headed downstairs while the other boys were getting ready. Hermione and Lily were already in the common room, as Percy and another prefect made their way through the portrait hole.

“Hello Harry,” greeted Hermione. “Percy was just telling us that if the first years all wait here for a bit, another prefect will guide us down to the great hall for breakfast.”

“Morning, Hermione, Lily. The boys should be down shortly. Hermione, isn’t your book bag rather full?”

“Well, I don’t know what my class schedule is, and I want to be prepared.”

“I see. Good thing you got the extra sturdy variety of bag then. Just don’t hurt yourself, ok?”

“I’m fine. I’ve been carrying bags like this for years.”

“How are you this morning, Lily?”

“Intrigued. I was coming down the stair case when I saw you going up the other in you pajamas and carrying a sword. What were you doing?”

“Exercises. I was taught the basics to fencing over the summer, so I have to practice so I don’t forget what I learned. Helps me to wake up in the morning as well.”

“Maybe I’ll get up earlier to watch.”

“You are welcome to do so. Or join in if that is your wont.”

The other first years started drifting down. When all but two had gathered, a sixth year male prefect arrived. “Alright you lot. Ready to head to the great hall? Aren’t we missing two of you?”

Sally-Anne Perks spoke up, “Brown and Patil were still doing their hair when I came down.”

“Could one of you girls go hurry them along? We need to head down soon.”

Lily hopped up the stairs. From the stairwell could be heard, “Oi! Get a move on, or you’ll have to find your own way to breakfast!” Lily came back down the stairs and skipped over to the group.

“They’ll be along in a moment. They were just getting their school bags ready.” A minute later the two girls joined the rest and the prefect led them down to the great hall, pointing out the different landmarks in the castle to help them all find their back that evening, and down again the next morning.

When they arrived, so did the Hufflepuffs. Harry greeted Susan and Wednesday, the latter greeted him back with a stoic kiss to the cheek. Harry was about to ask how their night was when Malfoy strode over from the Slytherin table. “Ah, Potter, there you are. Let me introduce you to some people.”

Harry shrugged an apology to Wednesday and Susan, and said Malfoy, “Lead on.”

“Today, I’ll introduce you to some of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, and a few of my friends.”

“Just so I’m on the same page, the Sacred Twenty-Eight are all Pureblood families, right?”

“Not just Pureblood, but the Pureblood families in that they are all ancient and/or noble houses. All of them have seats on the Wizengamot. My family is one of them.” So, Malfoy actually started with Ernest Macmillan who was right there. “You already know Bones. Her aunt works for the Ministry as the Head of the D.M.L.E. Let’s start with Macmillan. His family owns a few stores in Diagon Alley, and brews butter beer. Macmillan? Meet Harry Potter. Potter, this is Ernest Macmillan.”

“Nice to meet you Potter,” said the blue eyed, blond of medium height for a first year.

“Same, Macmillan.”

Harry read and dismissed a scroll-note in his A.R.M. that informed him that Macmillan was rather prone to believing/starting rumors based in little or no facts, and lacked any real blood bigotry. He did, however, have a bit of a superiority complex because of being a pure-blood.

Malfoy then directed him towards Hannah Abbott. “Abbott. This is Harry Potter. Potter, this is Hannah Abbott. Her family is widely known for maintaining the post owls for people who can’t afford their own.” Malfoy said her name with a slight sneer that was not present with Macmillan, even though his distaste for Macmillan was clear to Harry.

“Miss Abbott. A pleasure.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter. I’ve heard a bit about you from Susan last night.”

“All bad, I hope. I do have a reputation I need to start and maintain.” Harry winked at her.

As Malfoy led Harry away, he read and dismissed another scroll-note informing him that Hannah was a half-blood, was not a blood bigot, and was likely friends with Susan Bones. It surprised him that Malfoy introduced him to a half-blood given his speech about the Sacred Twenty-Eight. Malfoy then directed him over to the Ravenclaw table, to a seventh year. “Selwyn’s family is rather wealthy and has significant influence in the Wizengamot, and two or three members working in the ministry as well as owning an apothecary in Diagon Alley. Selwyn, this is Harry Potter. Potter, this is Archibald Selwyn. He prefers to go by Archie.” The boy was short for a seventeen year-old, but was rather stoutly built, had brown hair, brown eyes, and a bulbous nose.

“Potter, Malfoy.” the boy said tersely.

“Selwyn, nice to make your acquaintance,” said Harry more politely. What interested Harry the most was that his A.R.M. did not display a scroll-note about Selwyn. So he filed that bit of information, or lack thereof, away for later consideration. He also noted that there was no dislike for the boy or his family apparent when introduced by Draco.

Malfoy then steered him over to the Slytherin table. “You’ve met Longbottom. His grandmother is a member of the Wizengamot. And you’ve met the Weasleys,” Draco openly sneered at their name. “Blood traitors, the lot of them. Best if you reduce your associations with them if you can. Being as they are all in Gryffindor with you is bad enough. And I believe you’ve met Bulstrode. Her father is an Auror, her grandfather is a member of the Wizengamot.” There again was the slight disapproval at Millicent’s name.

“Good morning, Millicent. Sleep well?”

“Good morning, Harry. Yes, I did, thank you.”

“So, on to Greengrass and Parkinson. Greengrass, Pansy, please meet Harry Potter. Potter, Daphne Greengrass and Pansy Parkinson. Both of their fathers are members of the Wizengamot.” Daphne was a slender girl with curly black hair down to her shoulders, blue eyes, pale skin and an aristocratic nose. Pansy was a girl with dark blonde hair in pigtails, brown eyes, a pug-face and olive complexion. Harry’s scroll-notes admonished him from getting romantically involved with Pansy, and if at all possible, to actively discourage such relations. In addition he was informed she was a pure-blood bigot. Not much was indicated about Daphne other than she was a pure-blood witch, rather reserved, and probably will be friends with Tracey Davis.

“A pleasure, Miss Greengrass, Miss Parkinson.” Harry bowed formally to each girl while taking their hands in turn.

“Mr. Potter, it is nice to make your acquaintance,” replied Daphne in formal tones.

“Hello, Potter. Why did you hide yourself on the train?” asked Parkinson, somewhat disdainfully.

“I wasn’t hiding, per se. I just wanted to have a chance to get to know some people before my name got in the way.”

“Oh,” she seemed disappointed in the answer, and looked like she disapproved. Daphne however appeared intrigued by the answer.

“On to my friends, Crabbe and Goyle. Monetarily influential families, their fathers are associates of my father, but otherwise their families are not noteworthy,” Draco whispered to Harry.

“Crabbe, Goyle, meet Harry Potter. Potter, these are Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, my friends.” Draco introduced the pair of walking gorillas. Harry did not receive scroll-notes for Crabbe and Goyle beyond the information provided in Malfoy’s earlier scroll-note. He also noted that so far, the only Slytherin he called by their given name was Pansy.

“Potter,” said Crabbe.

“Nice to meet you, Potter,” said Goyle.

“Crabbe, Goyle. Nice to meet you as well.”

Draco moved on down the table, “Another friend of mine is Theodore Nott, whose family is also in the Twenty-Eight.” Nott was a tall, weedy boy with a rabbit-like face, brown hair and hazel eyes. “Theo, this is Harry Potter. Potter, this is Theodore Nott.”

“Hello, Potter. Too bad about getting sorted into Gryffindor.”

“Hello, Nott. I don’t know. Seems like a nice enough house so far.”

“You’ll figure it out soon enough, I’m sure.”

“Well, then I hope that my being in Gryffindor won’t reflect too badly upon me in the future.”

Nott grunted and returned to his breakfast.

Further down the table towards the upper years. “This will be the last person of note I will be introducing you to today. Morning, Flint. Meet Harry Potter. Potter, this is Marcus Flint, captain of the Slytherin quidditch team. He’s a sixth year and plays the chaser position.” The boy in question was tall, relatively muscular with shifty grey eyes, large teeth, coarse black hair, and an appearance of someone with a troll as a distant ancestor, if the descriptions Harry read of trolls were accurate. Harry was sure the last bit was just his imagination.

“Potter,” he said flatly.

“Flint. Nice to make your acquaintance.”

Draco pulled Harry away from the tables to chat a bit in private. “So, those are the students from the pure-blood families of import within our social circles. After lunch I can introduce you to the other politically important families.”

“A lot fewer than twenty-eight families in those introductions, weren’t there?”

“Well, not all of the families have children our age, and four of them may be on the verge of disappearing. The Crouch family for instance, only has one wizard in the ministry, and his only son died in Azkaban, so it is likely he is the last of the line. Potentially the same for the Black family, as the last son of the family is also in Azkaban. Another one is the Gaunt family. It is rumored that there was a child born to the last known daughter, but if it’s a son and he’s alive, he hasn’t claimed the family name. Then there is the Lestrange family. Both sons are also in Azkaban serving life sentences and that may also be the end of their line.

“In the case of the Carrows, they have twin girls attending in next year. The Fawleys should have a boy attending in five years, and a girl in six. The Prewitts have a couple of girls attending in six and seven years and a couple of pregnancies that may yield a boy or two. The Avery clan doesn’t have any children as of yet, same with the Burke, Rosier, Rowle and Shacklebolt families. If the Ollivander family has any children of age for Hogwarts in the near future, I am unaware of it. The Shafiq family has sent their boys to Durmstrung and their girls to Beaubatons. I think the Slughorn family might have some five year olds, but I haven’t been introduced to them, so I am not sure. That leaves the Travers and Yaxley families. The youngest males in each are unmarried thus far.”

“You are quite knowledgeable about the families.”

“My father makes it his business to know all the important political families, and made sure I do as well. Most of them are cousins of one sort or another as well, so you get used to it. You are a cousin too, through the Black family. My mother is a Black, and I think her great aunt Dorea Black married a Potter.”

“Thank you for the introductions, Malfoy. I do appreciate it. I have one introduction I need to make for you, though. Come with me.” Harry led a slightly confused Malfoy to the Hufflepuff table.

“Good morning, cousin. May I introduce Draco Malfoy? Malfoy, this is my cousin from America, Wednesday Addams.”

Wednesday stood up and curtsied. “Good morning, Mr. Malfoy.” Her face was an expressionless mask, and her tone betrayed nothing.

Malfoy gave a discreet bow, “Good morning, Miss Addams. I apologize for my rudeness yesterday.”

“Accepted,” she said dismissively and seated herself again.

“I think we should get back to our own breakfasts while there is still food left.”

“Right. See you at lunch, Potter.

Harry returned to the Gryffindor table, and sat next to Neville and Hermione. Ron, from across the table, said around a mouthful of food, “What did that git want with you?”

Harry started loading his plate. “Not that it is any of your business, Malfoy was introducing me to people. He would have introduced me to you, but he figured correctly that I had already made your acquaintance.”

“Don’t get involved with Slytherins. Every wizard that’s gone bad came from Slytherin.”

Hermione countered, “But not every wizard in Slytherin has gone bad, have they? You can’t judge the whole house based on the actions of a few.”

“They’re all evil gits.”

Harry shook his head and turned his attention to Neville. “What do you think of Malfoy, Neville?”

“Well, he’s… arrogant. I think he would have been better suited for Gryffindor than me, as he really doesn’t seem afraid of anything.”

“Don’t worry, Neville. I’m sure that you are braver than Malfoy. After all, you got sorted into Gryffindor, he didn’t,” Harry said supportively. He then whispered to Neville something Stheno had told him during his stay in the hospital wing, “Remember, bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it’s being able to do the right thing despite being afraid.” Neville nodded and seemed to relax a bit.

Hermione said, “Well, I think it was nice of that boy to introduce you around. Do you think he might make introductions for the rest of us?”

“Not likely,” spat Ron.

“Why is that?” inquired Hermione.

“He’s from the blood supremacy crowd. They won’t talk to muggle-borns. Insult and scorn them, yes, but they won’t talk with them.”

Harry responded, “You’re a pure-blood, aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but my family doesn’t care if you’re a muggle-born or a half-blood or a pure-blood. We don’t buy into that blood supremacy rubbish.”

“Neither does mine,” said Neville. “Though now that I’m confirmed as not being a squib, my Gran has been saying she needs to find me a proper girl. While she isn’t prejudiced in her everyday dealings, I think she might be when it comes to me getting married.”

At that point, McGonagall came by handing out the class schedules.

 

Classes for the Masses


A quick comparison of schedules showed that all the first years in the house would be attending classes together. The only difference would be which other house was in attendance with them. Two class periods in the morning, and two in the afternoon, and one (Astronomy) at night. They had Herbology three times a week, History of Magic, Flying, and Potions (double session) once a week, Charms, Transfiguration, and Defense Against the Dark Arts twice a week.

“Looks like we have Herbology first with Hufflepuffs. That should be a good starting place for you, Neville,” said Harry.

“I’d rather get potions and flying out of the way rather than wait until the end of the week.”

“I’ve just peeked at some of the older years’ schedules. Some of them have class periods after dinner, or even on Saturday,” said Hermione.

“Urgh… After dinner or on Saturdays? What are we, house elves? It’s bad enough having Astronomy at midnight,” groaned Ron.

“Relax, that’s for when you’re older and have electives,” chided the prefect that showed them how to get to the Great Hall. A while later after everyone was done eating he spoke a bit louder, “Alright you lot, you’ve got enough time to go back to your rooms and get the books and supplies you need for the morning classes. Follow me.”

The prefect led all the first years back to the dorms. Most all of the students were doing the same as well. “You’ve got five minutes to sort yourselves out, and I’ll lead you to where the greenhouses are. Another prefect will be by after that to take you to your next class. We only do this for the first week, so pay attention to where you are going.”

Hermione was torn between keeping all her books in her bag, and running up to lighten her load, and finally decided to lighten her load a bit, by only keeping the day’s books on her person, and one other for some light reading. Harry went up to his room to make it look like he was getting his books ready like the others. He noticed the envious glance Ron cast at his wardrobe, and decided it would be in his best interest to make sure that Ron didn’t know that he had a second trunk, even if it was a standard trunk because it was new.

When everyone was gathered in the common room the Prefect took them to the greenhouse where they were having classes. The Hufflepuffs had arrived a bit before them, but that was because their house was closer. Wednesday, Susan, and Hannah came over to talk to Harry, Neville, and Hermione while they waited for Professor Sprout.

“What was that this morning, cousin?”

“That was Malfoy introducing me to the families of ‘social importance’. Since I already knew Susan, Neville, and Weasley, he just glossed over them. I felt I had to return the favor and introduce him to the only family I knew of ‘noteworthy importance’, didn’t I?”

Wednesday’s mask of indifference almost gave way to a pout. “Now I’ll just have to find another way to provoke the ponce into giving me reason to trounce him.”

“You need a reason?” asked Susan.

“No, I just want to have justification in case I’m caught.”

“Are you trying to get expelled on your first day,” teased Harry. Hermione looked aghast that someone would intentionally try to get expelled.

“Of course. It’s the Addams’ tradition. Do things to get expelled, but don’t get caught doing them.”

“Then how did Pugsley get expelled?” Harry wondered.

“He doesn’t care about the getting caught part. He feels that if you don’t get caught, you don’t get the credit for the endeavor.”

“Alright class, ears open, mouths closed. Today we are going to go over greenhouse safety to minimize Madam Pomfrey’s workload when you come in contact with the more dangerous plants,” announced Professor Sprout, a squat witch with gray, frizzy, flyaway hair covered by a patched hat, wearing clothes that seemed to already be covered with dirt, and a smile on her face.

            Note to self: Professor Pomona Sprout is a kind witch, but as a head of house and a professor takes the discipline and well-being of the students seriously. She is very protective of the students under her care. Hufflepuff is a house that is considered the house for those unsuited to other houses. I know this is not the truth, but it is a common misperception. I need to pay attention to her instructions as they will prove useful in remaining safe around magical plants. ~HJP

Harry thought that this scroll-note, while informative was ill-timed as he might have missed something regarding green-house safety had it had been longer in length.

At the end of the class two female prefects were waiting, one from Hufflepuff and the other from Gryffindor. The Gryffindor’s followed their prefect to their next class, History of Magic. This class they were sharing with the Ravenclaw first years. The teacher, a ghost of an ancient and shriveled old man, with small, thick glasses and a dry, reedy voice started the class almost before everyone seated. Binns started the class off without role, or even anything resembling a syllabus, and just took off with the facts. The dry, bland, facts presented in the most boring fashion possible. The ghost’s droning voice was a strong enough soporific to put some of the students to sleep and the majority into a blank stupor. Hermione, of course was scribbling notes as fast as she could. Padma was sitting on the other side of Harry, taking notes as well, but at a slower pace as she wasn’t trying to perform dictation.

Harry received a scroll-note about the professor.

            Note to self: Professor Cuthbert Binns was teaching History of Magic at Hogwarts when he died. Apparently he never noticed. He occasionally gets names related to events mixed up, so I need to double check with the assigned books or the library to make sure I’ve got the right answers memorized. Best to read ahead. Question is, how does a ghost who can’t interact with objects grade papers and tests? ~HJP

That was a good question. One that might bear looking into at some point. Harry was looking through the text using his linking book for the historical period in question, making notes on parchment where information wasn’t contained in or differed from the assigned book. Hermione glanced at his book, and then did a double-take before going back to furiously scribbling notes.

During the class, Harry played with his A.R.M. and discovered it had a mapping function that would allow him to map the castle as he visited the different sections. It showed up in the lower right corner of his vision as an overlay style min-map. He activated that so it would start mapping the castle as he was led around by the prefects to his different classes, as well as map his own explorations.

After History of Magic, another prefect guided them to the Great Hall for lunch. After Malfoy’s introductions to politically important families, Harry sat with the Hufflepuffs, much to everyone’s surprise (except the first years, who didn’t know any better), as that was apparently something that no one did. He was sitting next to Wednesday and Susan chatting when Hermione stalked up and sat across from Harry.

In a bossy whisper she said, “What gives, Harry? Your History of Magic text is the same book you used for Herbology, and it doesn’t match what the rest of us have for either class.”

Susan, Hannah and Wednesday looked curiously at Harry waiting his answer.

“Matched set. All my text books look the same. Got them used. The previous owner obviously transfigured them,” Harry lied.

“Oh. Okay, that makes sense.”

Only Wednesday looked like she wasn’t buying into that story. Perhaps she could see magic like her mother, or was very good at detecting prevarication. Neville joined them after a bit, and so did Padma and Parvati. Harry was surprised when Millicent didn’t join them, and thought he should look into that later.

A short time later, Pansy Parkinson came striding up to them. “Potter, you really have no sense of pride, do you? You should be at your house table, with your house mates. This just shows you have no sense of proper decorum.” And before anyone could reply she walked past them back to the Slytherin table.

“That’s two people on my hit list now,” said Wednesday.

“Hey now, ickle firsties!” said a red-head who popped up behind them.

“What this with mingling—” said his twin from the other side of the table.

“At another house’s table?”

“Inquiring minds want to know.” Fred waggled his eyebrows.

Harry sighed. “Is there a school rule that prevents us from sitting anywhere we want other than during feasts?”

Fred and George looked at each other from across the table. “You know —”

“We don’t think—”

“Anyone has ever thought—”

“About that before.”

Hermione chimed in, “There’s nothing in Hogwarts: A History about it either.”

“I think they’ve got us on this one, Fred.” George looked stumped.

“By George, I think so too, George.” Fred looked equally stumped. Then he brightened. “Let’s ask Professor McGonagall!”

As the Professor in question was just passing by, that statement caught her attention. She warily asked, “What is it you two want to know, Misters Weasley? And none of that twin speak.”

“Is there an official rule that prevents students from sitting anywhere they want during meals?” asked George.

She thought about that for a bit. “No, not that I recall. Due to house rivalries during the centuries, it has become tradition. I see no reason why you can’t sit wherever you want during breakfast or lunch. Though I must insist that you sit at the house table during evening meal and feasts. For feasts you are required to sit at the house tables, while the evening meal is, traditionally, for family and your house is your family while you are at school. Also, breakfast on the first day of classes you must sit at your house tables. That is so we can pass out the class schedules in a timely manner. Anything else, Misters Weasley?”

“No, Professor.” The twins said in unison, and then plopped themselves down at the Hufflepuff table next to the first years, much to the surprise and extreme wariness of the older Hufflepuffs.

“Now I think I understand Parkinson’s problem. We’re breaking with tradition. I guess in the upper social circles that just isn’t done,” Harry noted dryly.

“A bunch of stuffed robes, the lot of them,” said Fred.

“There’s a time and place for such things, and this is neither,” commented George. The twins then proceeded to regale the first years with the various pranks that had been pulled during the last year. Of course, they made sure to neither confirm nor deny their involvement in any of the pranks they described.

After lunch the first years were led to their Charms class, which they shared with the Hufflepuffs. Harry found himself sandwiched between Wednesday (with Susan next to her), and Hermione (with Neville on the other side) in their row of the horseshoe shaped auditorium style lecture room, with plenty of room in front of the lectern. Professor Flitwick, a shockingly small wizard with a shock of white hair, had had a pile of books to stand upon in order to see over his lectern. He took roll, and paused at Harry’s name, and his excitement was such that he slipped off the top book and tumbled behind the desk.

After class, Harry read the scroll-note that he received at the beginning of class.

            Note to self: Professor Filius Flitwick, Charms professor, professional dueling champion. Part-goblin? Pure-blood? I don’t know. Head of Ravenclaw. Very intelligent, kindly and caring professor. Eager to answer questions from students, especially insightful questions. Due to his small stature some students don’t take him very seriously. I would be making a grave mistake if I followed that line of thinking. Cares deeply about the student’s well-being. ~HJP

After that they had a free period, where the prefect showed them how to get to the hospital wing and the library and a couple of other locations of note before taking them back to the Gryffindor common room. The prefect explained they should all meet in the common room at dinner time, or they’d have to make their own way to dinner without someone to guide them. And if they missed dinner, it was their own fault.

Just as Neville, Hermione and Harry were trying to figure out what to do, Ron came up and interrupted, “Hey, Harry, get your wizard chess set and let’s play a few games!”

“I know your keen on chess, Weasley, but we were debating between visiting black lake, the owlery, or the library.”

“Weasley? We’re roommates. Call me Ron.”

“Fine, Ron. As I said, we were deciding on which bit of the castle to explore before dinner. Why don’t you come along? We can play after dinner.”

“My brothers say that the best thing to explore at Hogwarts is the Forbidden Forest.”

Hermione retorted, “Are these the same brothers that told you house sorting was done by wrestling trolls?”

“Er… Yes. So, probably another joke. I’d ask Percy, but his idea of fun is studying.”

“And what’s wrong with finding studying to be fun?” Hermione glared at Ron.

“Studying is boring. You’re doing nothing but sitting inside with your nose in a book. Wizarding chess and quidditch are fun! I wish they’d have let us bring our brooms.”

Hermione scoffed. “I’ll have you know…”

Harry interrupted, “If you two spend all afternoon arguing, we won’t do anything today. Neville, you choose where we explore today.”

“M-m-me?”

“Yes. You decide, then I’ll decide next time, then Hermione, then Ron, and then whoever else wants to come with us, then we’ll start the again with you.”

“I…,” and then in a quiet voice, “want to go to the library.”

Hermione looked triumphant. Ron looked aghast.

“I’ll join you next time, then.”

“Ron, I bet there are books on quidditch in the library. And you won’t know until you look,” suggested Harry.

“Er… That’s a good point, I guess, since I can’t play quidditch now. Are you sure you don’t want to play chess?”

“After dinner.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll go.”

“Why can’t you play quidditch this year?”

“First years aren’t allowed their own brooms, Harry.”

“So, Ron? The school has brooms, and there isn’t anything in the rules against first years trying out for the team,” responded Harry. Ron got a thoughtful look.

Harry then asked Parvati and Lavender Brown, a light skinned girl with blue eyes and curly blonde hair, if they wanted to join them. The pair agreed enthusiastically and the six of them headed off to the library.

Upon arrival, they were met by Wednesday, Susan, and Hannah. Wednesday greeted Harry with a kiss on the cheek and said, “Padma is already inside with a couple of other Ravenclaws.”

Hannah whispered to Susan, “Do you think they arranged this ahead of time?”

Susan responded with a whisper of her own, “When? She’s been with us all day.”

“It’s not nice to whisper about someone who can hear you,” said Wednesday flatly.

“So, how did you know that Harry would head for the library?” asked Hannah.

“I consulted the tarot.”

Hannah and Susan exchanged looks, so did Lavender and Parvati. Hermione looked dubious, and Neville and Ron looked confused.

“So that’s what you were doing with the tarot deck earlier? Fortune telling?” asked Hannah.

Wednesday just raised an eyebrow.

“Onward! The library of arcane knowledge awaits!” exclaimed Harry as he pointed to the library entrance and then led the group into the library. He then led Ron to the quidditch section, Hermione to the history section, and Neville to the Herbology section, Wednesday to the section about dark creatures, Susan and Hannah to the section regarding biographies, and then Lavender and Parvati to the romance section. Harry decided to head for the section on poetry, wondering what they had in Greek.

When the all arrived back at a table with one or two books (or in Hermione’s case, ten) that interested them, Hermione asked, “How are you so familiar with the school library, Harry?”

“Trade secret.”

“What trade, and why is it a secret?” Susan wanted to know.

“He could tell you, but then he’d have to kill you,” said Wednesday, darkly.

“W-what?”

“She’s joking, Susan, and so was I. But I’m not comfortable answering your question, which is why I gave the answer I did.”

“Oh, okay. Then I won’t pry further,” said Hermione. What was implied was a solid ‘for now’, and given her body language she really wanted to press the point now. They all spent the rest of the period reading, and quietly chatting. Harry used his book for cover to talk to Stheno.

‘Well Stheno, would you please tell me more about soul mates?’

‘Of course. Understand that soul mates are complicated. That is because, despite its reputation for people being a match made in heaven, soul mates don’t have to be romantic. As I said before, a soul mate is someone who resonates with you and your magic right down to your soul. Even for those mortals without magic, the same resonation is true.

‘Two men might find themselves to be soul mates, and only think of each other as brothers. A man and a women might find themselves in a platonic relationship and still be soul mates. The pair might be rivals, or they might be enemies by circumstance, or they could just be contentious with each other, or even hate each other. In the latter case, it is usually fear and ignorance of the relationship that drives the hate.

‘Additionally, soul mates aren’t just a single pair. It is possible for a person to have many soul mates. The problem is finding your soul mates when the population of the world is so vast can be difficult. However, most soul mates are located in proximity to each other for reasons that only the Moirai truly understand.’

‘The Moirai?’

‘The Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.’

‘Okay. So how would I identify a soul mate?’

‘One: A soul magic ritual, which I cannot teach you, and you probably cannot learn from this school. You might be able to learn it from Morticia Addams, but then again, you might not. Two: Learn to recognize the signs within yourself and others that indicate a resonance. That will take quite some time, even with your gifts of learning. This is the path anyone can learn. Three: If you are mainly concerned with romantic pairings, there is a spell from the Eromancy class of magic that would help you, but again I cannot teach you, and it is an art lost to mortals. Four: This is the easiest method, but I think perhaps the most misleading. There is a merit in the game that you can take that will help you identify soul mates. However, this is only a romantic soul mate, and it looks for a resonance that is compatible with the game as well.’

‘Okay, so I should probably avoid number four. Is there a fifth?’

‘Yes. I believe you could use a modified direction finding spell that would only work for your unique circumstance. That circumstance is your avocado wand. From my perusal of past players of the game, I believe the direction finding spell has been lost and will need to be reinvented.’

‘I see. At least I think I do. So, until I can figure out how to recreate the spell and modify it, I should probably concentrate on method two. Can you instruct me on what to look for?’

‘I can. Keep in mind that you will need to reach a better understanding of your own magic first for both methods two and five.’

‘You said something on the train about needing to formalize the bond?’

‘Yes. That requires some form of intimacy. Not necessarily romantic or sexual intimacy. It will be highly personal to both parties involved. There is a ritual that goes with this to magically formalize the bond, but even mundanes can formalize a bond, so magic isn’t required. The current iteration of the marriage ceremony performed by non-magical mortals is an example. The bond rarely forms as the people getting married are rarely soul mates.’

‘Does everyone have a soul mate?’

‘Everyone has at least one, though it is rare to only have one. The majority have several. Most people just can’t recognize them, and are confused with erroneous romantic notions about soul mates. The primary fallacy is that soul mates never argue and are always in sync. There are some soul mates that will meet that criteria, but most often they are not of a romantic variety. Another fallacy is that they both like all the same things. Again, when this occurs, it is rarely in a romantic relationship. All relationships take work and effort to maintain, and this is true of soul mates as well. Once a bond is formalized, it becomes easier to maintain, but the bonded pair still must work at maintaining it. When you take a relationship for granted, that is when it falls apart. It might take longer for soul mate relationships to fall apart, but they still do so when neglected. ‘

‘So, how do I go about recognizing my soul mates?’

‘You need to look for repeated signs…’ Stheno spent the next hour before dinner explaining the mundane process of determining a soul mate. When it was time to leave for the great hall, everyone checked out some books, and Hermione was limited to five, much to her disappointment.

At dinner, everyone sat at their house tables, as requested by Professor McGonagall. After dinner, Ron cornered Harry to play wizard chess. So Harry got his chess set from his wardrobe and brought it down to the common room. There was a table with an inset chessboard that Ron had commandeered, and ran up to get his chess set while Harry waited. When Ron returned, they flipped a knut to determine who would be white. Harry was intrigued that Ron’s beaten and battered set actually changed color from black to white so that he only needed sixteen pieces (though he had the full thirty-two). Ron on the other hand was envious of Harry’s brand new looking set with folding chess board case.

“That is an amazing chess set, and the pieces are quite unusual,” commented Ron.

“Thank you. It was a gift to me from my cousins in America. It is apparently a very old chess set, but one that didn’t get very much use. And it only responds to commands in Greek and only offers advice in Greek.” Harry decided to not mention the parseltongue ability.

“Really? Mine was handed down to me by my grandfather. It’s been in the family for ages and has been very well used.”

“Yours does something mine doesn’t. It changes colors depending up which side you are playing. I need the full set to be able to play both colors.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

They started playing. Ron’s pieces were not used to facing monsters so they argued with him initially about the wisdom of his placements. However, Ron handily beat Harry in three fast games. As it was obvious who the weaker player was, Ron’s pieces stopped complaining and Harry’s pieces kept arguing with him as they didn’t trust him yet. They continued to play for another hour, and Harry was improving so the games lasted longer, but he hadn’t won a game yet.

When bed time came around, Harry meditated in bed again that evening. Fortunately everyone’s wardrobe wasn’t the same, so no one really noticed that Harry’s wardrobe very different.

Chapter Text

Or The Grandfatherly Wizard Visits #4 Privet Drive


The morning of the first of September had been very busy for Petunia, as she had to make sure Dudley was all packed and ready for school, while Vernon made sure everything got loaded in the car so that he could take Dudley to Smeltings for his start of term. Petunia had been feeling not quite herself since the inspector’s visit, so she excused herself from going with Vernon and Dudley. Vernon was happy to have some male bonding time before dropping his son off for the next three months, and not having to drive Petunia home meant he only had to take half a day off of work.

The tea had just finished steeping when the doorbell rang. She set the teapot down and went to answer the door. She was quite shocked to find an elderly man in a purple suit some fifty years out of style, with very long silvery beard, equally long hair, long crooked nose, wearing half-moon glasses standing on her doorstep. She immediately knew he was a wizard, because nobody normal would ever wear such garish colors, and he matched the description of the Headmaster of that school her sister had attended.

Petunia was bitterly angry at this man’s appearance at her home, but also feeling too tired to berate him. “You. I don’t suppose telling you to go away would do any good? I thought not. Well, come in before the neighbors see you.”

She let him in, closed the door behind him. “I was just making some tea. Will this be a long discussion?”

“Possibly.”

“Fine. Tea?”

Dumbledore was not expecting this sort of welcome and was temporarily put of his stride.

“If it’s not an imposition.”

“Your presences in an imposition, not the tea. Have a seat.” She indicated a chair in the kitchen. She pulled down a second cup and saucer and a tray to bring things to the table. Then she sat down and started pouring the tea. “One lump, or two?”

“Two, please.”

“Cream?”

“Thank you, no.”

Petunia put two lumps of sugar in Dumbledore’s cup, and none in hers, as she preferred it unsweetened with a splash of cream. After her first sip, she asked, “So, to what do I owe the dubious honor of being visited by the great wizard, Albus Dumbledore?”

“A very long overdue talk. I have been remiss in checking in on Harry’s well-being it seems. I had made some assumptions that appear to have been wrong. And additionally, I came to check up on you in particular, and your family in general.”

Petunia scoffed. “I very much doubt you have any interest in me or my family, in any regards other than how they relate to my nephew.”

“I doubt I can convince you otherwise, but it is true. I have failed both Harry and you, and by extension, your family.”

“And how, exactly, did you fail me and my family other than burdening us with my nephew?”

“I am aware you are currently missing a vase.”

Petunia didn’t follow the non sequitur. “So?”

“If I had been checking up on you, rather than assume the charms and wards I set up when Harry was left here were sufficient, I would have found that the vase had been cursed and either removed the curse, or the vase from the premises.”

“Cursed?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Cursed. I have not had a chance to examine its remains, so I am relying on information provided by the man who did remove it.”

Petunia gasped, “That inspector was one of your kind!?”

“Was that the role he assumed? Yes, he was, and yet he wasn’t. Even amongst my kind, he is considered ‘odd’. As to the curse, it was designed to drive your family mad. Mad enough to kill Harry, and then each other. The only thing preventing that was the wards I installed and the protection Harry was provided by his mother’s sacrifice.”

Petunia’s face took on a pinched appearance. “I see.”

“Not entirely, I think. The vase was also charmed to make sure you wouldn’t get rid of it. It is my understanding that a wizard or wizards wishing Harry harm had somehow discovered that Marge was related to Harry through Vernon. She was made to deliver that vile thing into your house. I am sure that its presence is responsible for your exceedingly poor treatment of Harry, and your excessively permissive treatment of your son.”

“You dare to lecture me on how to raise my family?”

“It is not my intent to lecture, merely raise points that due to the influence of the vase may have escaped your attention. Or do you think it is normal to keep one’s nephew in the cupboard under the stairs? To punish him for doing well in school? To feed him, but deprive him at the same time? Can you not see how my lack of direct interaction is to blame?”

Petunia shook her head slightly, “Are you telling me, that you think all of that is your fault?”

“No. I am telling you that my overestimation of my own prowess has caused a situation where all that could occur. You see, as the blood relation to Harry, his protections extended to you in preventing yourself from being overly influenced by the curse. The fact that you did not stand up against your husband and son when they treated Harry poorly, and even participated in that treatment I lay at your feet.”

“Is that so?” Dumbledore nodded and sipped his tea. “Well, I blame you for bringing my nephew here in the first place. While I was initially sorry for his circumstance, I was not ready to be raising two boys. Especially one of your kind. How was I supposed to give him a ‘normal’ childhood, as your letter requested, when everything about him is abnormal?

“... And the worst part is that I know I treated him badly. I’ve known ever since that vase left this house. I’d already put together that something odd had occurred with vase. I see the evidence of my poor choices on the mantle where there are no photos of my nephew. Every time I pass the cupboard, or the door to the room that is now his, I feel the guilt. So much so that I am sleeping poorly and having nightmares about what could have happened if he had been a ‘normal’ child… or a squib I think they are called.

“I even feel guilty for spoiling my son so much. And now I can’t figure out how to undo the damage without creating a rift in my marriage. And while Vernon is over the moon that he might finally have gotten rid of my nephew for good, I am sure you are going to tell me he has to return here over the holidays. To a house where he never got to celebrate a holiday, or even his birthday.

“I never hated my nephew. I hated that he reminded me of my sister, my one time best friend, and how magic caused me to lose her. I never hated him, but I have no idea how to love him either.”

“I am sorry you’ve had to go through this, Petunia. And yes, I do have to tell you that Harry needs to reside here. However, he only needs to reside here for a couple of weeks each year to keep the protections in place. I would feel more comfortable for his safety if it were longer, but I suspect he, and your husband, will be disagreeable on that topic.”

“Is there anything else we need to discuss?”

“Nothing we need to discuss, but there is something I would like to discuss.”

Petunia sipped her tea for a bit before responding. “Might as well get it over with then. What do you want to discuss?”

“I find myself being rather cross with my board of governors and their insistence that only magicals be invited to the castle. So, I was wondering if you would care to visit, and see the castle sometime? Due to Harry’s medicinal treatments, it has come to light that your side of the family, through your mother, have magical relatives. Distant to be sure, and living in America. It has led me to consider the possibility that your sister wasn’t the only magical in your family, just the only one by the name of Evans with enough magic to cast spells.

“I believe that you, Petunia Dursley, are a squib, from a long line of squibs. Therefore the wards around the castle to repel non-magical people would not affect you. And I would like to fulfill your request, the one you made when you were younger. To see the school where your sister was going to learn magic.”

Chapter Text

How to Perplex a Potions Master


Harry’s education for the first week continued. The Gryffindors’ Transfiguration class was with the Ravenclaws. The first class Professor McGonagall set the tone for the course by starting with, “Any messing about in my class will result in you being asked to leave, and not return. You have been warned.” She then proceeded to turn her desk into a pig and back. Everyone was eager to turn their desks into pigs, but disappointed to learn that they wouldn’t be able to attempt it until their fifth year at least. Harry had paid very close attention to Professor McGonagall’s wand movements and magic flow when she did both transfigurations, and figured he might be able to do it a year or two sooner than she anticipated. Harry wound up sitting next to Hermione, with Padma and Mandy Brocklehurst at the table next to him. Mandy was a short girl with short chestnut hair and brown inquisitive eyes.

Harry was confused when he didn’t get a scroll-note for McGonagall. The only reasons he could think of was that his alter-ego had no information to provide (which seemed unlikely), or that the first meeting would trigger the event, but then he should have had a scroll-note on the day he left home with her and Madam Pomfrey. Perhaps it was because he didn’t have his A.R.M. active when he met them for the first time. Or maybe it was related to not getting one for Archie Selwyn and there was nothing interesting to say about the person. That seemed unlikely in the case of Professor McGonagall, or Madam Pomfrey.

When he first attended the Defense Against the Dark Arts, it seemed to be the class most everyone was looking forward to attending. Gryffindors were attending with the Hufflepuffs and Harry found himself bracketed by Wednesday and Hermione again, much to Ron’s disgruntlement. Ron, however, was not brave enough to challenge Wednesday’s withering glare. The class itself was a disappointment, as Professor Quirrell’s stuttering seemed to impede his progress and the ability of students to understand the material he was presenting. Additionally, the man appeared to be afraid of his own shadow, and the room smelled of garlic. His turban also had an odor that the Weasley twins would speculate also contained Garlic to ward of vampires.

Harry still noted something odd about the turban with his mage sight. He assumed that it was some sort of additional magical protection.

Wednesday was the least impressed by and also rather intrigued by the professor, though she wouldn’t say why. And once during his first class, the vial hanging around Harry’s neck vibrated. It caused Harry to wonder if the night of the welcoming feast whether or not it was Snape who caused the vibration.

Friday morning arrived, and in addition to his papers, Hedwig brought him a note from Hagrid asking Harry if he wanted to come to tea since Hagrid knew he had the afternoon free. Harry responded that he would be happy to have tea, and would bring some friends if was alright. He gave the response to Hedwig, who after a bit of bacon, took the missive to Hagrid.

“Ugh… Next we have double potions with the snakes,” complained Ron.

“They aren’t that bad, Ron,” said Harry

“Every one of them is an evil git.”

“And I suppose only an evil git would have one as a friend?”

“That’s right!”

“Well, Ron, I suppose you must now end our friendship, because you think I am an evil git.” Hermione and Neville were suppressing giggles.

“Why would I do that? Are you barking?”

“Because I have a Slytherin for a friend.”

“What… but…why… how…?”

“Which question do you want answered first, Ron?” Harry replied calmly. Hermione and Neville were failing to suppress the giggles now.

Two tall identical redheads appeared behind Ron. “Allow us to explain the finer points of etiquette to our brother berk.” They then lifted him by the elbows and frog marched him out of the great hall.

“Geroff me! I wasn’t done with breakfast!”

“That reminds me, I need to do something before class. I’ll be back in time for potions.” Harry grabbed his school bag and dashed off to the owlery, and wrote a note.

            Millicent,

            I and a few friends are having tea with Hagrid this afternoon. Meet us by the front entrance at three if you are interested in joining us. Bring a new friend or two if you like.

            Harry

Harry had hoped he had read the situation in the Slytherin house correctly from his few interactions with Nott and Malfoy. He felt that if he approached her directly, that might cause her issues within the house. He explained to Hedwig why he couldn’t use her to send the message when she arrived with Hagrid’s reply. She agreed, but wasn’t happy about it. So he chatted with her a bit until he had to run to meet up with the rest of the first years for their guided walk to potions.

Upon arriving at potions the two houses went into a lecture room in the dungeons, where in passing Millicent gave Harry a brief nod. The houses split with the Gryffindors on the right, and the Slytherins on the left. Millicent and Elizabeth Runcorn sat on the same row as Harry and Hermione, with Millicent being across the aisle from Harry.

They had just gotten settled when Professor Snape came stalking in with his black robes billowing as he did so. He was a tall, thin man with dark, piercing eyes reminiscent of tunnels, shoulder length oily, black hair, curling lip, a large, hooked nose and sallow complexion. What intrigued Harry was the lines of magic emanating from the professor’s left forearm. Harry didn’t have the luxury of examining the magic, unfortunately.

Snape’s voice was quiet, carried well, and definitely could command a room. “Wands away. There will be no foolish wand waving in this class.” He went on to tell them how he expected they would not appreciate potions, even if they were capable of learning from him. If they were capable, he could teach them to bottle fame, brew glory, or even stopper death. He then went down the roll call, and finally came to Harry.

“Ah, yes. Harry Potter. Our new – celebrity.” Many of the Slytherins and a couple of Gryffindors snickered. Notably Bulstrode, Greengrass, Davis, and Runcorn were not among those Slytherins.

When he finished the roll call, Professor Snape looked briefly at Harry, then began immediately with, “Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?” Hermione’s hand shot up in the air. Harry also raised his hand. Snape’s eyes narrowed, and he called out, “Weasley!”

“Um… I don’t know, Professor.”

“Potter!”

“You can find a bezoar in the stomach of any ruminant animal, but only the ones found inside goats can combat most poisons,” Harry calmly replied.

“What would I get if I added powdered root asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Snape’s eyes narrowed again when Hermione and Harry raised their hands. “Thomas!”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Tut-tut. Thought we wouldn’t open a book over the summer, did we? Potter!”

“Depending upon the ratio of asphodel, and what the wormwood was infused with, you can get varying effects. The standard recipe would create a sleeping potion known as ‘Draught of the Living Death’.” Snape looked at Harry curiously for a brief moment.

“What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?” Hermione, Harry and a tentative Neville raised their hands. Hermione was standing on her tip toes. Snape looked displeased. “Finnigan!”

“I don’t know, sir, but I think Hermione does, why don’t you try her?”

“Sit down,” Snape commanded Hermione. “Two points from Gryffindor for you cheek, Finnigan. Malfoy!”

“They are the same plant, also known as Aconite,” replied Draco.

“One point to Slytherin for a concise answer. Well? Why aren’t you all writing this down?” Everyone scrambled to write it down while the professor looked at Harry calculatingly. He went on to describe the syllabus and expected behavior within his laboratory which was next door and most classes would be held there. He also went over basic measuring techniques for liquids and solids, and what the difference between a dram and a fluid dram. Many times during the lecture he would give Harry a speculative look.

Harry received a scroll-note during the lecture that he ignored until the end of class.

            Note to self: Professor Severus Snape is a rather complex individual. From what I can gather he has several vows he is trying to uphold, and some of them may be conflicting in nature. It would be best if I didn’t antagonize the man, and showed him, as well as other professors, the respect they are due for being professors. Doing so will make things run smoother in the long run. Above all, Professor Snape really does care about all the children in school, even if he does not show it, and favors his house over the others. ~HJP


To Duel or not to Duel


That afternoon, Harry, who was joined by Hermione, Neville, Ron, Wednesday, Susan, and Hannah, went down the entrance hall where they met Millicent, Elizabeth, Tracy and Daphne. Introductions were made. Elizabeth had an olive complexion, wavy auburn hair, and brown eyes, and Tracey was a short girl with long blonde hair and green eyes. They all made their way down to Hagrid’s hut. Ron was disgruntled with having to share his free time with Slytherins. Wednesday kicked him in the shin before he put his foot in his mouth. She quietly pointed out to him that they were Harry’s guests, and if Ron didn’t like the guest list, he was free to leave.

Harry knocked on the door which was answered by Fang’s loud barking. “Back Fang! Back!” Hagrid opened the door with one hand and the other on the large boar hound’s collar. “Well, welcome. I wasn’ expectin’ quite so many. Take but a minute ter get more tea brewin’.” He let them in.

Fang knocked Ron down and started licking his face and ears. “Geroff me!”

“Don’ mind Fang. He’s jus’ excited to meet people.” Hagrid set up more chairs and stools around the table of his large one room hut and put another kettle in the fire to boil. It was rather crowded in the small hut with the number of guests. “Now, who d’we have fer tea today?”

Introductions were made all around again. Hagrid was very accommodating and delighted to have so many guests. Only Wednesday seemed to really enjoy the rock cakes, and asked if she could have the recipe. Hagrid was happy to oblige. Hagrid asked after everyone’s classes, and Ron stuck his foot in his mouth by complaining about Snape. This didn’t go over well with the Slytherin portion of the group, nor did it go over well with Wednesday. Hermione wasn’t impressed either, because she didn’t take well to someone bad-mouthing a teacher, regardless of the teacher’s competence.

Hagrid defended Professor Snape, to which Wednesday deadpanned, “He’s not bad, he’s just drawn that way.” Elizabeth Runcorn and Hermione were the only ones to actually get the joke. They didn’t bother to explain it other than to say it was a quote from a movie, then they had to explain movies.

When they left with pockets loaded down with rock cakes, Hagrid invited all of them to come back and visit anytime. Ron was in a hurry to get the dog slobber off of him and his robes, so he rushed back to the castle. Everyone saw his hair turn Slytherin green with silver streaks. They started looking at each other to see who did the deed. The Slytherin crew were trying desperately to keep from laughing. Harry knew who it was, because he sensed the flow of magic come from behind him, and the only one behind him was Wednesday.

Harry pulled Millicent to the side as they walked back. “How bad is it?”

“How bad is what?”

“The bullying in Slytherin? You were concerned on the train.”

“Oh. It’s not bad. Greengrass runs interference for us when Professor Snape isn’t present.”

“That bad, huh? Why?”

“Because they consider us half-bloods. Idiots, all of them. Only Elizabeth is the true half-blood. That’s the child of a wizard or witch and a muggle. My mother and Tracey’s father are muggle born. As full magicals in their own right, we aren’t half-bloods. The blood purists don’t make that distinction. You share that position with us since your mom was a muggle-born. The pure-bloods overlook your case because of your defeating You Know Who.”

“I see. Is Malfoy one of those doing the bullying?”

“No. He isn’t stopping it, but he isn’t participating either. It’s weird in a way, as he used to be one of the most vocal about me being a half-blood before school started.”

“Maybe he’s growing past that stage?”

“More likely he’s got something to think about, and I think it might be the boy I’m talking with.”

“Really? I can’t see how.”

“Yes you can. You just don’t want to admit it. You confuse him. You don’t act as he expects you to, you’re smart, you’re confident, and you act rather mature. And you are a bit barmy by wizarding standards.” She winked at him. “Also, by his pure-blood ideals, you are a half-blood, but because of your reputation, he has to tread lightly around you until he figures things out. That, and I think your cousin scares the hell out of him. Frankly, she scares me, too.”

“I think she’s scary, too. I haven’t figured out if that is due to her family’s reputation, or if she really is that scary,” Harry winked at Millicent. She giggled, which coming from her sounded rather pleasant, even if it was disconcertingly deep for an eleven year old girl.

Wednesday moved over and interrupted. “Cousin, we must assess your prowess tomorrow. Black lake, far side, an hour before lunch. Bring your weapon. We’ll see if my father was right.” She then moved off.

“What was that about, Harry?”

“It would seem I’ve been challenged to a duel.”

“You can’t duel. You could get expelled.”

“I don’t think there are any rules against dueling as long as the protocols are observed. And that you don’t do it in the corridors. This won’t be a duel with magic, Millicent, but a mundane one. With rapiers. Though I think it is more of a sparring match then a duel. With her, I’m not sure there is a difference. You can come watch if you want.”

“I might just do that.”

Ron was quite miffed during dinner when his hair was still green and silver. The twins thought it was fantastic, and wanted to know who hexed him. When they asked Harry, he said, “I like you both too much to lie to you. I didn’t see who cast the spell and no one has confessed to me that they cast it.” What the twins took from that statement he might never know. All Ron knew was that neither Madam Pomfrey nor Professor Flitwick could undo the hex. Harry suspected that it was more Ron’s attitude that might have prevented them from removing the hex. Professor Flitwick had a twinkle in his eye every time he looked at the Gryffindor table.

Malfoy didn’t help Ron’s mood when he came over with Crabbe and Goyle to ask, “Weasley, if you liked Slytherin so much, how did you get sorted into Gryffindor? Oh, right. Your family’s lack of ambition!”

“Better that than being from a family of evil cowards,” responded a red faced Ron.

A very angry looking Malfoy said, “You dare insult my family that way? I’ll take you on any time. Wizards duel, tonight. Wands only – no contact. Are you brave enough to face me?”

“Of course I am! Harry’s my second. Who’s yours?”

Malfoy looked over his shoulder at Crabbe and Goyle. “Crabbe. Midnight in the trophy room. That’s always unlocked.”

When Malfoy left, Harry asked, “What’s a wizard’s duel, and why did you assume I’d agree to be your second? What is a second anyways?”

Ron blushed with embarrassment. “Sorry about that. I got just blurted it out. A second is someone who takes over if the other dies.” Ron rushed onwards. “People only die in a proper wizard’s duel with real wizards. It shouldn’t be dangerous. Neither one of us would know any damaging spells. Best we’ll be able to do is throw sparks at each other.”

“That isn’t right,” commented Hermione. “The second’s role is to mediate between the principals with the other second, to try to settle the disagreement peaceably and avoid the duel, and if unsuccessful, arrange that the duel is as fair as possible.”

“Not in a wizard’s duel,” said Ron. Hermione frowned that her information might be wrong, but then, she hadn’t read up on wizard dueling practices.

“What if I don’t accept being your second?” asked Harry.

Ron paled, “I’m sorry I didn’t ask. Would you be my second?”

“I think it’s a trap if neither of you know enough spells to do more than throw sparks,” said Harry.

“But I’ve got to show up, or else he’ll claim I backed out and I am a coward.”

“Alright, I’ll go with you this once, but if you ever volunteer me again, I’ll decline.”

“Thanks mate.” They continued their dinner amongst snickers directed at Ron and his hair.

 

Three Heads Are Better Than One

 

“Half-past eleven. We’d better go, Harry.” They put on bathrobes and headed to the common room.

Harry noted that Neville wasn’t in his bed, and silently wondered why.

Hermione was waiting for them in the common room, wearing a pink robe. “You can’t go. You’ll get caught and get in trouble. It’s really very selfish of you.”

“It’s none of your business. Go back to bed,” said Ron. “Let’s go, Harry.”

“I almost told your brother. He’s a prefect. He’d put a stop to this.”

Ron pushed out the portrait hole, but Hermione wasn’t ready to give up. She hissed, “Don’t you care about Gryffindor? Do you only care about yourself? You’ll lose all the points I earned from Professor McGonagall yesterday. I don’t want Slytherin to win the house cup. Do you?”

“No, I don’t, but I don’t want to be branded a coward either. This a chance to put Malfoy in his place and I’m not going to miss it. Now go away,” Ron growled.

“Alright, but remember I told you so when you are on the train home tomorrow… Oh, no. Gertrude is gone from her portrait. That’s it, I’m going with you.”

“No, you aren’t. Wait for the Fat Lady to return.”

“I am not waiting around to be found by Mister Filch. And if we are found out, I can truthfully say I was trying to stop you.”

“Shush!” whispered Harry. He heard some sniffling coming from around the corner. Neville was curled up on the floor trying to sleep. He jerked awake when they approached.

“Thank goodness you found me! I couldn’t get in because I forgot the password.”

“Keep your voice down, Neville,” said Harry. “The password is ‘pig snout’ but you’re out of luck. Gertrude has gone wandering.”

“Look, we need to be somewhere. We’ll see you later,” said Ron.

“Wait! Don’t leave me,” cried Neville as he got to his feet. “I don’t want to stay here alone. The Bloody Baron’s been by thrice tonight already!”

Ron looked at his watch. “If either of you get us caught, I’ll never rest until I learn that curse Quirrell told us about and used it on the two of you.”

Harry motioned for Hermione drop it, and the four of them made their way to the Trophy room. They had just arrived a few moments before midnight. Malfoy and Crabbe weren’t there. So they waited.

A few minutes later, they heard Filch’s wheezing in the next room. “Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in the shadows.”

Harry urgently waved for the others to follow him out of the trophy room. They ran blindly down the corridors, hearing Filch coming after them. They came to a door and Ron tried to repeatedly open it. It was locked.

“Honestly!” whispered Hermione, who whipped her wand and unlocked the door with the incantation, “Alohamora!”

They dove into the room and closed the door behind them, with Ron locking it. They listened for any sign of Filch, who came by immediately after. Filch tested the lock a couple of times. They waited for Filch and Mrs. Norris to leave, and once they were gone, three of the four breathed a sigh of relief. Neville, however, started pawing at Harry’s bathrobe to get his attention.

In front of them was the largest black dog they had ever seen, easily taller than Ron at the shoulders, with three heads. The dog was waking up and starting to growl, which got the attention of Ron and Hermione, who squeaked. Hermione, Ron and Neville scrambled to try and leave the room.

Harry received a scroll-note.

            Note to self: In the forbidden hallway is a three-headed dog named Fluffy. The cerberus is susceptible to music and will fall asleep. ~HJP

Harry began to loudly hum a lullaby he remembered his aunt sing to Dudley. The cerberus calmed, and started to slowly drift off back to sleep, snarling occasionally, laying his head’s on his massive paws, one of which covered a trap door. Harry noted that this wasn’t a room, but a corridor. While humming, he tried to calm the other three down enough to allow them to quietly exit the door. Then they ran for it, back to their dormitory, narrowly avoiding an encounter with Peeves.

Since Gertrude was back in her painting, getting into the common room was a quick scramble. Once they were feeling safe, Ron said, “What are they thinking keeping a monster like that inside the school?!”

Neville said, shakily, “That was the off limits corridor on the third floor we were warned about at the welcoming feast.”

“It must be guarding something,” said Hermione.

“What? There was nothing in the room but us and that monstrous dog!”

“You don’t use your eyes much, do you, Ron? There was a trap door under its paw.” She then looked calculatingly at Harry, started to say something, then appeared to change topics. “Next time you want to go wandering at night, remember that besides getting caught, you could get killed. Or worse, expelled.” Then she stalked off to the girl’s dormitory.

“Mental. Absolutely mental that one,” commented Ron.

 

Black Lake Madness


The next morning, Harry was up early despite the late night adventure, practicing his forms when Lily Moon came down the stairs. She sleepily wiped her eyes and said, “It is Saturday, you know. Why are you up so early?”

“I need my exercise, and this is the best time to do it. Why are you up so early?”

“You invited me to watch.”

“So I did.”

Harry continued to practice. After his hour was up, he sat down in the lotus position, closed his eyes, and started to meditate.

“What are you doing now?”

“Meditating.”

“Why?”

“It helps me remain calm, and allows me to feel the flow of my magic.”

“The flow of your magic?” Lily asked curiously.

“Yes. I can teach you if you’d like? I’m not an expert, but I think I can help you get the fundamentals down.”

“Okay.”

Harry opened his eyes, then stepped her through the basics like Stheno had done for him. They finished about fifteen minutes later.

“It may be a while before you can feel the flow of your magic. You are just starting out, so try to meditate for ten to fifteen minutes each day. If you like, you can join me for mediation in the mornings.”

“I think I shall.”

“If that’s all, I am going to clean myself up and get dressed before breakfast.” Harry stood up, and helped Lily to her feet.

Later that morning, Harry approached Black Lake with Hermione and Neville, both of whom wondered what he was doing with a sword. They decided to watch when he told them. They were discreetly followed by pair of red headed twins who wondered what the three of them were up to.

When he arrived at the far side where Wednesday asked him to meet him, there was already a group of people. There was a Hufflepuff contingent of Wednesday herself, Susan, and Hannah. Padma was representing Ravenclaw, and accompanied by her sister Parvati from Gryffindor. Oddly, Parvati was not in the company of Lavender Brown and Padma was not with Mandy Brocklehurst. Then there was the Slytherin group of Millicent, with Daphne, Tracey, and Elizabeth. Quite the small crowd for a late Saturday morning.

“Word spreads fast,” Harry commented to Neville and Hermione.

Wednesday came up and greeted him with a kiss on the cheek as was her wont. Harry decided to return the favor for the first time and got a chime from his A.R.M. indicating a milestone had been reached.

“Morning, cousin. Lovely day for a sword fight.”

Wednesday replied, “It is far too bright and cheerful for my tastes. Are you ready to lose horribly?”

“Only if you are ready to have your expectations dashed,” said Harry with a wink. Harry thought he might be getting to understand the Addams mindset.

“How nice of you to say so,” said Wednesday as she unsheathed her rapier. The audience took their seats on a nearby outcropping of rock. Harry unsheathed his rapier as well, and took up an en garde stance.

“Best of five,” Wednesday said.

“Ready when –“started Harry, only to be cut off by the need to deflect Wednesday’s sudden lunge. He riposted, she parried, and back and forth it went, until Wednesday decided to step it up a notch.

“Warm up is over,” she said. She began to really rain blows down upon him, and he was keeping up, if barely. The pair started to use more and more of the terrain, mostly to Wednesday’s advantage due to her greater experience. Harry did his best to keep the fight away from the onlookers, while Wednesday seemed intent of driving the fight into their midst.

Harry came to the understanding that Wednesday fought dirty. Very dirty. More so than Gomez did. Thrice he had to scramble to keep from being unmanned by her low thrusts. Twice he found himself avoiding dirt she kicked in his face. Once she tried to poke out his eye with a finger.

After an hour and half, the score was three to two, in Wednesday’s favor. Both were slightly bruised, had minor cuts, and their clothing was slashed in multiple places from close calls. When they were sheathing their swords, Wednesday said, “Father was not mistaken. Keep practicing because next time I’ll try to kill you.”

“Blimey,” said Fred. “She wasn’t trying to kill him this time?”

 

Flying Lessons

 

The following week Harry was still surprised by the flock of owls that would arrive every morning to deliver mail. Harry was getting a copy of the Daily Prophet and the London Times delivered by Hedwig, who would nip him on the ear affectionately and have some toast (or bacon) and water before flying off to the owlery to sleep. Harry shared sections of both papers to those that were interested after he read them, and the mundane born wondered how he got his owl to deliver a muggle paper, while the magic born wonder why he bothered.

Wednesday morning had an owl delivering a small package to Neville.

“What’s that, Neville?” asked Hermione. Neville had just pulled a large marble sized glass ball that contained smoke from within the box.

“It’s a remembrall. You squeeze it and if it turns red… Oh, I’ve forgotten something.”

Malfoy and the twin gorillas came by at that moment, and Malfoy snatched the orb from Neville’s hand, where it lost its red color.

“Please return that to Neville, Malfoy,” Harry said in a pleasant conversational tone.

“Of course, I was just looking.” Looking a bit lost, he continued, “I apologize for not asking first, Longbottom.”

“No harm done, Malfoy. Thank you for returning it.” Neville took back the magical marble. With that, the Slytherin trio stalked off.

Harry got a scroll-note.

            Note to self: Neville is rather nervous around brooms. I suspect this might have something to do with having been dangled out a window by his ankles by his great uncle. He is prone to forgetting and losing things. The remembrall will most likely get lost during flying lessons and be a catalyst for my joining the house quidditch team as a first year. If I decide to avoid joining quidditch during the first year, I should do something to prevent Neville from losing the remembrall. ~HJP

Harry thought about that, and decided that he had enough notoriety without being on a quidditch team as a first year.

“Neville, are you prone to losing things for forgetting things?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Your grandmother thinking you need a remembrall is a clue. May I see your remembrall, and the twine from the package?”

“Alright.” Neville handed the items over to Harry. Harry then tied the twin around the remembrall to secure it into a necklace and handed it back to Neville.

“That should help you keep track of the remembrall.”

“Thank you, Harry.”

On Thursday afternoon, they had their first flying lessons. Madam Hooch was a witch with short spikey gray hair, and piercing yellow eyes, like a hawk. They shared this lesson with the Slytherins, and that seemed to make Neville even more nervous. And Hermione looked like she wasn’t sure about flying at all, as it wasn’t something you could really learn from a book, though she tried. Harry worked on calming their nerves while they waited for the instructor.

Malfoy was bragging about how he already knew how to fly, and he thought it would be a shame if he weren’t chosen as a seeker for the Slytherin team.

Madam Hooch arrived with a brisk walk and commanded, “Everyone line up to the left side of a broom.” Gryffindors took one row and Slytherins took the other. “Extend your right hand over the broom and say ‘up’ in a commanding tone.”

Only a handful of people got their broom to jump into their hand the first try. Malfoy, Bulstrode, Nott, Weasley, and Harry were those few. Hermione’s broom just rolled over, and Neville’s only quivered. Harry then coached Neville and Hermione while Malfoy took that cue and helped Crabbe and Goyle. Millicent was also helping two girls, Tracey Davis and Elizabeth Runcorn. Ron took a few more minutes to join in the assisting by talking to Dean and Seamus. Of the five to make it work on the first try, only Nott didn’t help his classmates. Madam Hooch strode up and down the lines giving advice to the others that were struggling.

Harry demonstrated with Hermione and Neville’s brooms, that it wasn’t a personality quirk on the part of the broom that made them difficult to command. Eventually both of them got the hang of it. Then Madam Hooch had everyone move so the broom was on their left side and command the broom to rise. The first five to make it work with the right hand got it to work on the first try with the left, in addition to Daphne Greengrass, Blaise Zabini, and Lily Moon. Some of the others had an easier time because they were left handed. It wasn’t quite the struggle for Neville or Hermione this time, either.

Once they had mastered that exercise, Madam Hooch demonstrated how to mount a broom and had them all do so, while she went around correcting their grip. Ron was amused that Draco had apparently been gripping his broom incorrectly all this time. They practiced mounting the brooms until Madam Hooch was satisfied that they had their grips and stances correct.

“Now everyone, I want you to push off gently, hover, and then return to the ground, just as I have demonstrated.”

Neville’s nervousness kicked in again, and he pushed off too hard, and his broom went out of control as Madam Hooch kept shouting instructions to him. He crashed into the side of the castle and fell to the ground with an awful snapping noise. Madam Hooch was on him in an instant.

“I said gently, boy. It looks like you’ve only got a broken arm. We’ll have to take you to Madam Pomfrey.” With a whimper Neville got to his feet with the instructor’s help. She then issued a threat that everyone should stay on the ground or risked getting expelled.

Nott and Malfoy took to bouncing up and hovering and dropping down again, and taunting Gryffindors, particularly Harry, to do the same. Harry wasn’t having any of it, and left his broom on the ground. Nott and Malfoy stopped after Parkinson chided them to not risk house points as she was sure Hooch would return shortly, and in fact she was right.

“Alright, that’s all we have time for today. Put the brooms away in the shed. Class dismissed,” announced Madam Hooch.

Chapter Text

The Awaited Conversation


With the end of October approaching, Harry had Stheno help him write out the poem Ode to Woman by Sappho with musical score for the lyre in the ancient Greek. He then translated it into English and sent both copies to Morticia for her birthday on the Twenty-Seventh of October.

Harry reviewed his quests, as he hadn’t performed October’s quest yet. None of the previous quests looked interesting (he didn’t have any interest in snogging a girl, he was only eleven). Some new ones appeared on his list, and he selected ‘kiss an older girl’ because he had an idea. At least a kiss could be chaste as he found out with Betty while he was in London. He’d have two hours to complete it.

Harry went to the library and found a girl sitting alone, doing some homework. He noticed she had a prefect badge, and was a Ravenclaw. She had ginger hair in a bun and brown eyes. He walked up to her and waited for her attention. She finished writing her paragraph and looked up. “Do you need some help?”

“Ah, no. I just noticed you here doing your homework and thought I would introduce myself to you. I’m Harry Potter.” Harry extended his hand, palm up.

She blinked a few times taking in the first year introducing himself. “It’s nice to meet you, Mister Potter. I’m Sharon Bleekley.” She reached out to take his hand. He bent over and brushed his lips against her knuckles. He heard a chime for completing a portion of the quest, indicating he could go and do the same multiple more times. This was embarrassing enough, so Harry decided to let time run out on the quest.

“A pleasure to meet you Miss Bleekley. I’ll let you get back to your classwork. Have a good day.”

“Have a good day, Mr. Potter.” Sharon shook her head and returned to her work muttering about how old-fashioned some customs were. Meanwhile, Harry searched the library for an interesting book to check out.

The Sunday before Halloween, along with his morning papers Hedwig brought him a letter.

“Morning Hedwig, did you have a good night?” asked Harry in English.

“Yes. Did you?” she hooted back.

“I did. Oh, I have a letter this morning.”

“It’s from the headmaster.” Hedwig nipped affectionately at his finger. “May I have some bacon?”

“Of course.” Harry fed her some bacon.

Hermione looked on, and finally commented, “No matter how often I see it, it’s like your holding an actual conversation with Hedwig.”

“That’s because I am.”

Hermione looked like she wanted to argue, but finally asked, “How?”

“I understand birds,” Harry said softly so that only Neville, Hermione, Wednesday, Susan and Padma could hear. “It isn’t a common ability, and it’s called pterolocution. With Hedwig and other magical birds they can understand English, or whatever language is native to their region. With normal birds I have to chirp at them to be understood.”

The others, aside from Wednesday, looked somewhat awed, and a little envious.

“I wonder if there are other abilities like that to speak to other animals,” said Hermione.

Wednesday replied, “There are. You have feline speakers, dog talkers, rodent murmurers, horse whisperers, cow bullies, parselmouths, and several others. And then there are those that have a limited form of the ability where they can only understand one breed amongst the group, like someone who can only talk to ravens.”

“I could understand all of those but the parselmouths. What animal do they speak with?” asked Hermione.

Susan answered, “Snakes. It’s a really rare ability. The most famous of those was Salazar Slytherin. I think only his family could speak with snakes.”

“That is incorrect,” commented Wednesday. “They are the only ones famous for it. There are parselmouths in India, and they are not related to Slytherin. I think there may be others in this country, but due to Slytherin’s reputation they do not want to admit it.”

“Were you always able to talk to birds, Harry?” asked Neville.

“No. It seems that getting Hedwig as a familiar was a catalyst of some sort. I’ve been able to understand birds since then.” Harry started handing out sections of newspapers. Wednesday had taken to having a New York Times delivered on Sundays, so when she was done she passed around the sections as well. Reading the business section she said, “Father will be most pleased. Amalgamated’s stocks have dropped to one third of their value last week.”

“Is he looking to buy their stocks, Wednesday?” inquired Hermione.

“No. He is looking to sell. I think he is waiting for it to reach one sixth the purchase value.”

Hermione tried to process why someone would want to sell stocks for a loss while Harry opened the letter. The letter was written in a narrow loopy style.

            Harry,

            I have the time to converse with you. Come to my office anytime today. The entrance is located on the third floor behind the gargoyle statue.

            I look forward to seeing you.

            Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster

            P.S. I really enjoy lemon drops.

Harry tucked that letter away, after reading it. As he was standing up, Wednesday said to him, “Next Saturday I will try and kill you, cousin. Be prepared.”

“I look forward to my untimely demise, dear cousin,” replied Harry with a half bow. “The same place?”

“Yes. Hopefully it will be a dreary day.”

“Then I will hope for a bright and cheerful one, so you will be miserable when you try to kill me.”

Harry left the table and went to the library for an hour or so, to complete his potions essay. Once he was done, he headed for the Headmaster’s tower. He arrived at the gargoyle and saw an enormous amount of magic around it, more than the magic around the Fat Lady’s painting, and surmised that he must need a password to get past the gargoyle.

“Lemon drops.”

The gargoyle stepped aside revealing a circular moving stone staircase. Harry stepped on to the staircase, and the stone steps moved him up towards the office. Once on the landing, he knocked on the door.

“Enter,” he heard from beyond the door. He entered the office and looked around. There are all sorts of strange little devices making funny little noises in the large circular room. The walls contained a large number of portraits, all of previous headmasters, most of which were dozing. Off to one side was a large fireplace with a large decorated mantle and a sitting area. In the middle of the room was a large claw footed desk with two comfortable chairs in front of it and a large comfortable chair behind it, currently occupied by Professor Dumbledore who was wearing orange robes with purple shooting stars. To one side was a bird stand with a brightly plumed bird that, from his reading about unfamiliar familiars, Harry assumed to be a phoenix. And on a shelf behind the headmaster sat Sorting Hat, the sorting hat.

“Hello, Headmaster. Is that a phoenix?”

“Hello, Harry, please, have a seat. Yes, his name is Fawkes.”

“Hello, Fawkes.”

“Hello young one,” trilled Fawkes.

“How are your studies progressing, Harry?”

“Well enough, sir.”

“How are you finding school life?”

“It’s much different than I expected. So far I seem to be getting on with a few people.”

“Good. I must apologize for my errors in judgement over the last decade. I had presumed much regarding my wards and that hiding you in the muggle world would protect you. As we have both learned over the summer, I should have been more diligent in my oversight of the situation.”

“That is understandable, Headmaster.”

“Professor is fine. I am sure you are anxious to continue the conversation we had before the start of term, so I will put aside the small talk for now. You wanted to know the prophecy. Yes, you surmised correctly that there was one. Are you sure you want to know? It is a pretty heavy burden.”

“Yes. I am sure.”

“I must test your mind. Voldemort only heard the prophecy second hand. I would prefer him to not hear it more directly and in its entirety. To that end, I must first test your mind. I will be using Legilimency which is a type of mind magic that will allow me to view your memories. We must teach you Occlumency to a sufficient degree that not even the most concerted effort by a skilled legilimens can pry it out of you. Once I am certain of the strength of your mental defenses, I will tell you the prophecy. Do you have any questions, Harry?”

“Just to clarify, you are going to use Legilimency to probe my mind to ensure that someone else using Legilimency cannot steal the secret of the prophecy by viewing my memories.”

“Correct. And if your defenses are insufficient, you will be tutored once a week until they are sufficient.”

“I understand.”

Dumbledore pointed his wand at Harry, and said, “Ready?” When Harry nodded, he continued with, “Legilimens.”

Harry felt a gentle pressure upon his mind, which increased slowly and insistently. The probing stopped. “Very good, Harry. Now I’m going to be less gentle. Legilimens.”

This time the pressure was immediately more noticeable and much more insistent. Instead of a gentle knocking on his mental defenses, this was more of an urgent banging.

‘Very good,’ tutored Stheno from within his mind. ‘You are doing well. Remember to remain calm. A skilled legilimens, will do their best to stir your emotions to make it easier to view your memories. Remain calm and focus on a specific memory. Something either innocuous, where you are by yourself, or something you think won’t give them any power over you, such as who you care about.’

Harry considered this, and decided the best memory would be of the night Morticia examined him. He couldn’t see how someone knowing he had a high pain tolerance would be an advantage over him.

Dumbledore stopped. “You are doing well so far. It seems you have a natural talent for Occlumency. This will make tutoring you much easier. However, I now must be much more forceful. I do apologize for any pain this may cause you. Legilimens!”

If the previous attempt was an impatient knocking, this was a forceful battering ram and it gained entrance into Harry’s mind very quickly. While surprised at the force of magic thrown at him, Harry focused on that agonizing memory, and pushed it at the probe. This had two unexpected effects. It caused Dumbledore to cry out in shock, and it activated Harry’s own natural legilimens talent. He entered Dumbledore’s memories, and saw a dirty room with a woman he recognized from the start of term feast. She was giving her qualifications for a job to Dumbledore. Just as her eyes glazed over he was thrown from the headmaster’s mind.

Harry blinked due to the disorientation and the headache caused by the sudden events. Dumbledore was also rubbing his temples.

“That was quite unexpected, Harry. It would seem you have a talent for Legilimency as well. It is surprising as these are traits neither of your parents possessed.” After a long pause, Dumbledore continued, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the prophecy. I will be arranging some tutoring for you in both Occlumency and Legilimency. You need to learn to control your talent so you don’t accidently enter another’s mind. Aside from being rude, it is considered a crime to enter the mind of someone who is unwilling.”

The headmaster poured some water, and handed Harry a glass. After both had rested a bit to clear their heads and consumed some water, Dumbledore rose and went to a cabinet. He brought out a large stone bowl with runes carved all around it. It had a strong magic laced through the runes from what Harry could see. “Harry, this is a pensieve. It allows one to view memories, either from oneself or from others. It is useful for helping one sort their thoughts.”

Dumbledore pointed his wand at his head and drew from his temple a long silvery thread, which he then placed within the pensieve. Harry looked at the soft shimmering silvery glow being emitted from the stone bowl. “All we do is touch the liquid and we will be able to view the memory.”

Harry stood up and reached out to touch the liquid at the same time as the headmaster. He felt a headlong rushing sensation as his perceptions were sucked into the bowl. Not unlike his brief foray into the headmaster’s mind. When they ‘landed’, Harry could see stairs to some rooms above a dingy and dirty bar lit only by some candles and the fireplace. Harry was behind Dumbledore who was climbing the stairs, and Harry was beside Dumbledore who motioned Harry to follow.

“You cannot interact with the memory, nor can we be heard by the people in it,” said the Dumbledore behind him. “To give you some background this memory is from May of 1980. We are in the Hog’s Head Inn in Hogsmeade and I am here to interview someone for the position of Professor of Divination. It is a post that had been made available the year before. I had been considering discontinuing the subject at that point.”

Memory Dumbledore knocked on the door to one of the rooms, and the door was opened by a thin witch wearing several gauzy shawls, a cloak, and bangles covered in sequin, many sparkling strings of beads, and several gaudy rings. She had hugely thick glasses that magnified her eyes to the point that she looked like a large glittering insect.

In an ethereal, soft voice she said, “Please, come in, Headmaster Dumbledore.”

Memory Dumbledore, real Dumbledore, and Harry entered the room. While memory Dumbledore made some polite small talk to the witch, real Dumbledore continued speaking to Harry.

“Harry, this is Professor Sybill Trelawney, or I should say, soon to be Professor Trelawney. She is the descendant of Cassandra Trelawney, a gifted seer. Make no mistake, Sybill is a powerful witch, and quite clever as she had been sorted into Ravenclaw during her time at Hogwarts.”

Harry noted that Sybill was trying to impress memory Dumbledore with her qualifications, but those sounded false to Harry. As memory Dumbledore was starting to stand up, Trelawney’s eyes glazed over as she entered a trance like state, and in a haunting deeper voice she said, “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…” At this point a kerfuffle outside the room could be heard where a voice was saying “What are you doing by that door? Get out of my inn this instant you pernicious swine!”

Trelawney continued oblivious to the commotion outside the room. “… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”

At that point Trelawney snapped out of her trance and asked in her usual ethereal voice, “What was I saying? Oh, yes, I do hope you will find me qualified to hire, Headmaster.”

The memory headmaster went on with actually hiring memory Trelawney.

The real headmaster said, “The interesting thing about prophecies is the seer never remembers what they said. And only those that can hear the seer know the prophecy. As far as I know, no seer speaks a prophecy without someone nearby to hear it. The Department of Mysteries has a way of capturing those prophecies without being present, and storing them in orbs that only those who the prophecy is about can actually handle.”

“Are there a lot of prophecies?”

“Quite a few. Perhaps thousands or more. Even after being fulfilled, the orbs remain, so there are hundreds of years of prophecies in that room. Something you should know, and it is why I have put so many extraneous events that occurred before and after the prophecy is that we cannot be overheard while we are in this memory.”

“Oh, so that’s why you showed me the memory rather than just telling me the prophecy.”

“Precisely. When the prophecy was made, the noise you heard outside the door was my brother, the owner of the Hog’s Head, throwing out Voldemort’s spy. Voldemort heard the first part of the prophecy through the spy, and there were two children who fit the profile of ‘being born at the end of July of parents who thrice defied him’.”

“Was the other child, Neville Longbottom?”

“Very astute, Harry. This prophecy is why Voldemort targeted you. He marked you as an equal, with the curse scar.”

“And the power he knows not?”

“This is speculation on my part, but I believe that is the power of love. Love is a mysterious thing. The Department of Mysteries even has a room dedicated to researching love.”

“Why do you think it is love, and not, for example, Merlin’s lost spell book?”

“Well, that comes from knowing Voldemort. I do not believe he understands love, and he may in fact be incapable of feeling love. And, I hope that you do understand love. My mistakes over the last ten years might have destroyed your capability to understand love.”

“I believe I do understand love, or at least its absence. Since we are here, what is a horcrux?”

Dumbledore’s eyes narrowed as they followed memory Dumbledore out of the Hog’s Head and back to the castle. “How are you acquainted with that term, Harry?”

“Morticia mentioned it in relation to my symptoms, Professor.”

“That is most unexpected.” The headmaster sighed deeply. “One must commit a heinous act in order to create a horcrux. The act splits your soul, allowing the caster to place part of their soul into a container, the horcrux. This will prevent their soul from passing on should they die, allowing them to be remain in the world, perhaps to be reborn under their terms. Depending upon how they died and the state of their body, it might be possible for them to repossess their recently deceased body.”

“That’s in line with what Morticia told me. She also told me that it was corrupted form of the rituals used by the pharaohs, the Crucible of Horus. And that instead of separating the Ba and Ka of one’s soul, it rent both the Ba and Ka together. This was caused by the ritualist using an innocent in a blood sacrifice, rather than sacrificing the innocence of a virgin. She had seen such damage to a soul before, so she knew what she was looking at when she examined the parasitic entity she removed. Additionally she felt that Voldemort may have made more than one.”

“That is informative, and disturbing. We will now have to try and find these horcruxes and discover how many he made.”

“I might be able to help with that, sir. Morticia captured the soul fragment for me when she removed it. She thought it might come in handy for me. Perhaps we can use that to determine how many he made and their locations?”

“That is excellent news, Harry. Would you let me have the fragment so I can research this?”

“I feel that would be the wrong thing to do, Professor. It isn’t that I don’t trust you, it’s that I feel that I should keep it near me as much as I can. I can’t really explain it better than that. I’d be happy to let you examine it in my presence though.”

“Thank you for your forthrightness in this matter. I would like to check you to see if this feeling is some sort of compulsion from an external source though.”

“I understand, sir. That would probably set both our minds at ease.”

“For our future discussions on this topic, we will be reviewing other memories, either of mine, or of yours if you wish, for security purposes. I must also ask that you not discuss the prophecy or horcruxes with anyone other than myself for the time being.”

“I can do that.”

“Good, it’s best that we return to the real world now.” And with that, Harry felt like his senses were rushing backwards, until he was back in the office where he stumbled a bit as he regained his balance.

“Please take your seat, Harry.” Dumbledore retrieved his memory and stuck it back in his head, then put the pensieve back inside the cabinet. After taking the other seat in front of the desk, he asked, “May I examine the fragment Harry?”

Harry pulled the necklace and the vial full of black smoke from around his neck and handed it to Dumbledore. The old wizard pointed his wand at the vial and murmured some incantations. Harry watched the flow of magic intently while this was happening. After several minutes, he handed the vial back to Harry.

“I’m going to cast some detection spells upon you Harry.” Harry watched the magic as the spells were cast. After a couple of minutes, the headmaster put his wand away. “Thank you, Harry. I was unable to detect any compulsions or other magics that might be influencing your decision making in regards to the vial or its contents. I think that is enough for tonight, as we both have a lot of things to think about. I’ll be in touch with you about the tutoring or further conversations. Understand, that it is unwise for us to meet too frequently. If you cause a few disturbances in front of Professors McGonagall or Flitwick, we might be able to arrange some ‘disciplinary consultations’.”

With that, Harry bid Professor Dumbledore a good day, and went to find some of his friends to fill out the rest of his Sunday.

 

Insert Troll Foot

 

Thursday, the morning of Halloween, Harry was feeling rather down.

‘You seem rather moody, young mortal. Is something bothering you?’

‘I am not fond of this holiday, Stheno. I was never allowed to celebrate it before. I should be looking forward to being able to participate in the festivities, but it is also the anniversary of my parents’ death. Add to that, I actually know why they died now.’

‘I see. Then perhaps you need to have a mourning ceremony to acknowledge their departure to the underworld, and express your grief?’ suggested Stheno.

‘Maybe. What’s involved in this ceremony?’

‘A quiet place, an altar, a candle, and yourself. A keepsake of your loved ones is optional, but often helpful. An offering for the departed is provided in the rituals I have participated in, to make sure they are provided for on their trip to Hades’ realm, along with two copper coins placed upon the eyes of the dead so they can pay their way across the river Styx. Since your parents are long gone, and you do not practice the chthonian rites, I think you can skip the offering and the coins. For you, it would be a personal ritual, rather than a religious one.

‘During the ritual, which should occur during the middle of the night, preferably on a new moon or this Halloween, you speak to your loved ones. Say whatever comes to mind. Be it your anger at their departure, or your loneliness. Tell them how you feel about them. Some of the literate would write what they felt and wanted to say, then sit in silence and use the candle to burn the writings so that the smoke would carry the words to the underworld. Usually you sit there until the candle burns itself out.’

‘I will think about it. Perhaps after the feast tonight.’

During charms class, Hermione was trying to help Ron with the levitation spell, while Harry was helping Neville. Sitting next to Harry was Wednesday who was looking bored while trying to help Susan with the spell. Down in front, Seamus caused his feather to burst into flames, nearly singing his eyebrows. Ron had finally had enough of Hermione’s helpful hints (or bossy tone) and blurted out, “If you’re so good, let’s see you do it!”

“Fine. Wingardium Leviosa!” With a swish and a flick, her feather was floating in the air and doing lazy controlled swoops.

“Well done Ms. Granger. Five points to Gryffindor!” Said Professor Flitwick.

Harry, Wednesday, Neville, Lily, and Susan were also able to perform the spell before the end of class. As they were leaving class, Harry could hear Ron complaining to Seamus and Dean, rather loudly, about Hermione. “She’s a nightmare. A bossy know-it-all bookworm. I’m surprised she has any friends at all, if they really are her friends.”

Hermione pushed past everyone and ran down the hall, tears streaming down her face.

Harry said rather lowly after coming up behind Ron, “She was doing her best to help you, and this is the gratitude you show? And she is my friend, and if you don’t apologize to her by the end of the day, I will do everything I can to make the rest of your year miserable.” Harry stalked off leaving Ron standing there looking like a fish out of water.

Harry and Neville spent the day looking for Hermione. It was unusual when she didn’t show up for flying lessons, as she didn’t skive off of classes, and didn’t tolerate that behavior in others. Harry checked with Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall, neither of whom had seen her. Professor McGonagall said that if she didn’t turn up by end of feast, she would have the professors go looking for Hermione.

Just after the feast started, Harry got a scroll-note:

            Note to self: If I am reading this, than it means someone (most likely Ron) was overly mean to Hermione and she is not at the feast. She is probably holed up in first floor girls’ lavatory, crying. There is a high chance that a mountain troll will be let loose in the castle during the feast, and Hermione will not be aware of it. When in doubt, drop a club on the troll’s head. ~HJP

Harry didn’t even wait for the troll to be announced. He left the hall, and then ran to the girls’ bathroom. When he arrived he knocked on the door.

“Hermione, are you in there? I’ve been looking for you all over the castle.”

A sobbing could be heard, but no response.

“This is Harry. Could you talk to me please? Don’t pay attention to Weasley’s words. I’m your friend, and so are Neville, Wednesday, Susan, the Patil twins, as well as Millicent. You made a fine group of friends on the train into school. Please, come out and talk to me. You’ll miss the feast otherwise.”

He could hear some hiccupping but nothing else. So he waited. And waited until he caught whiff of a foul odor reminiscent of Dudley’s old gym socks and an uncleaned public urinal. He looked around and saw coming down the corridor a massive twelve foot tall creature with short legs, long arms, lumpy body, a small bald head with a large nose, and granite gray skin. Dragging a large club behind it. Not knowing what else to do, he rushed inside the loo and locked the door behind him.

Hermione stuck her head outside of the stall to find out who had locked the door, and was about to berate Harry when Harry leapt over to her and covered her mouth with one hand. He whispered to her, “Troll, in the hallway. Shhh.”

She was about to say something when they heard a loud grunting sound outside the door. There was shuffling and something knocking into the door that startled Hermione into making a small squeak. All noise on the other side of the door stopped. The silence was for the next minute was maddening, and just when Harry was thinking it might be alright to relax, the door was ripped off its hinges and tossed across the hall.

The troll shuffled its way in to the room, and Harry decided to protect Hermione by making himself the target. He jumped out into the line of sight of the troll and shouted at it.

“Oy! Knucklehead! Over here!” And once the troll was looking at him, it started to swing its club towards him taking down the sinks along the wall and causing Hermione to shriek. Harry ducked under the club and ran to the troll and slid across the now wet tiles, and between the short legs. He came to a stop next to the wall by the open doorway, to see the troll bent over and looking between its legs at him. He would never be able to say what prompted him to do it, or why it seemed like a good idea, but he kicked the troll behind the knee. He didn’t think he hurt the troll, but he did seem to enrage it as the kick did cause the knee to buckle.

Harry ran into the hallway and continued to taunt the troll into leaving the bathroom. He wanted to put as much space between Hermione and the troll as possible. The troll followed him out into the hallway when Hermione screamed, “Run away, Harry!”

The troll then turned its attention back to the bathroom so Harry picked up a piece of door a hurled it at the troll, hitting it in the head. The troll turned itself towards him, and he yelled, “Shut up, Hermione, you keep drawing its attention! I’m trying to give you room to escape!”

Harry drew his avocado wand, not knowing what he would do with it. The troll started shuffling towards him dragging its club behind.

“Come and get me, you ugly git!” The troll swung the club sideways taking out a suit of armor and a couple of sconces putting a furrow in the wall. Harry ducked the club, but not soon enough and the club clipped him in the left shoulder sending him tumbling down the hall. The club would have done more than break his arm if it hasn’t lost so much energy digging that furrow in the wall.

Hermione once more screamed, “Harry, no! No!”

As Harry tried to stand up through the blinding pain of his arm, he saw the troll turn towards his friend. Hermione was still in the bathroom frozen in fear. Something welled up with in Harry, and he screamed, “Wingardium Leviosa!” With a swish and a flick of an avocado wand, the trolls club left the confused owner’s hand, and beat the troll on the head six or seven times before the troll collapsed. Harry lost consciousness with the sound of a freight train rushing in his ears.

 

Back in the Hospital Bed Again

 

Harry awoke to a familiar sight, the ceiling of the hospital ward. It was nighttime and his shoulder ached, but not badly. He saw that Hedwig was sitting on the window sill outside, and that Hermione was occupying the bed next to him. He had started to get out of bed to check on Hermione when Madam Pomfrey showed up wearing a dressing robe, obviously awoken by some charm to alert her when he awoke.

“I see you are awake, Mr. Potter. Please get back into bed.” She cast a few diagnostic spells upon him.

“How is Hermione?”

“Ms. Granger is physically fine. She has been given a Calming Draught and a Draught of Dreamless Sleep. She should sleep through the night. You on the other hand, have had a broken humerus, scapula, and clavicle on your left side, and two fractured ribs. You are quite lucky that is all that was broken. You also were near magical exhaustion. The bones were healed, but the bruising will take a while. I presume your shoulder is rather sore?”

“I have a mild ache in my shoulder from my elbow to my neck.”

“Get some sleep. If the pain is gone in the morning, I can release you to get some breakfast and go to classes.”

“Can you tell me what happened after I passed out?”

“I can only tell you what I’ve heard. Ms. Granger or Professor McGonagall would be able to give you a more accurate answer. What I was told was that Professors McGonagall, Snape and Quirrell arrived in time to see the troll and you collapse. Professor McGonagall went to calm Ms. Granger, and Professor Snape checked on you, while Professor Quirrell made sure the troll was unconscious. I understand that the headmaster arrived and helped Professor Quirrell remove the troll while Professors McGonagall and Snape brought Ms. Granger and yourself here. You’ve been unconscious for about five hours.”

“Do you know how the troll got in?”

“I have no idea. Apparently it was first discovered in the dungeons by Professor Quirrell. Enough with the questions. Please take the potion on your bedside for the pain, and get some sleep.”

“Yes, Madam.” Harry took the indicated potion, but not before checking that his wands and his vial were present in the bedside table drawer. He took out the necklace with the vial and put it around his neck, and put the avocado wand on top of the bedside cabinet and his holly wand under the pillow before going back to sleep. He wasn’t sure why, but he was feeling rather paranoid. It also looked like he’d have to do the ritual for mourning another time.

In the morning, Harry awoke to a stiff shoulder with a dull twinge. He sat up and tried to loosen up his shoulder, then began meditating. After an hour passed, Madam Pomfrey made her appearance to check on her charges.

“You are up early as usual, Mr. Potter. How is the shoulder?”

“Stiff, with a twinge during certain movements.”

“Then you shall be having breakfast here. I will most likely be able to release you for classes. Try not to overwork the shoulder today, or tomorrow if possible. Gentle stretching is the order of the day. And you aren’t allowed to use magic today nor tomorrow to give your magic a chance to recover from exhaustion. Since you only have potions today, you should be fine for classwork.”

“Yes, Madam.”

While Madam Pomfrey was checking on her other patients (there were a few beyond Hermione and himself), Harry returned to his meditative position, and began speaking with Stheno.

‘Stheno, can you fill me in on what happened last night to cause me to be magically exhausted?’

She seemed to be searching for something before she answered, ‘It appears I am allowed to do so. You didn’t just levitate the club, you levitated every piece of debris in the hallway and bathroom as well. You need to learn to control your emotions and your magic to prevent such excessive overflow from occurring in the future.’

‘That’s odd. I was sure I properly cast the spell on the club alone.’

‘You did, but there appears to have been other factors involved that you did not account for. You will need to figure out what those factors are in order to prevent future overflow.’

‘Do you know what those factors are?’

‘Yes, I do.’

‘And you cannot tell me, so I have to figure it out. Can you tell me anything that happened after I passed out?’

‘Actually, I can tell you what those factors are, but for you to learn to control your magic, it is best that you determine them for yourself.

‘As to what happened after you passed out, it was pretty much as the matron described. You collapsed, all the debris and the club fell to the ground as the teacher’s arrived. The girl was standing there somewhat shocked at your impressive display of magic, but was unharmed except for some minor cuts caused by debris sent flying by the troll smashing things earlier. Snape limped over to you, and no, I don’t know why he was limping, and McGonagall went to the girl. Quirrell arrived at that point and checked on the troll before sitting down on a piece of debris holding his chest and whimpering. McGonagall had just told Quirrell to get the troll out of the castle when the headmaster showed up at a run. He said he’d help Quirrell deal with the troll, while the other two saw to it that you and the girl were brought to the hospital ward.’

‘Thank you. I wonder why Professor Snape was limping. How did the troll get in, in the first place? Something seems quite off about that.’

Harry checked for quests, and not seeing any that he liked for the start of November, he went back to meditation. A short while later Hermione woke up. After getting her bearings and seeing as Harry was sitting in bed, she said, “Harry?” rather softly.

Without opening his eyes, he responded, “Yes, Hermione?”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. Just some lingering stiffness in the shoulder that should go away in a day or two. Are—“

Harry was interrupted by being suddenly hugged and having a bushy head of hair buried in his chest. Not knowing what else to do with a sobbing, hugging girl, he just put his arms around her and stroked her on her back. He received a chime noting he had made a milestone as well. Probably for getting his first hug from Hermione. He then finished his question, “Are you alright, Hermione?”

She answered, though it was muffled by his clothing, “Yes. I was so scared when the troll broke in, and then when it kept going after you, and especially scared when it actually hit you.” Then she mumbled, “Thank you for saving me.”

“I’m glad you are alright.”

They sat like that as Hermione cried, until she had cried herself out. Harry helped her back into her bed where she was soon back asleep. Harry returned to his meditation and observing his magical flow, as well as working on his occlumency.

Later, Madam Pomfrey brought them breakfast, and Hedwig brought them their mail. After breakfast and a final check by the matron, they were dismissed to go to their classes.

 

Potions, Potions


After being released from the hospital ward, Harry and Hermione went back to their rooms to retrieve their books for class. As they were walking towards the dungeons for their double potions, Neville and Lily caught up to them.

“Wait up, Harry!” called Neville. When he was closer, he said, “I hope you are feeling better. Just a word of warning about tomorrow, Wednesday looks to be very mad at you. I not sure what for, but I overheard her talking to Susan and she said, ‘I’ll kill him for sure since he left me out of the fun.’ I think she might be miffed that you didn’t invite her along to deal with the troll.”

“That sounds like Wednesday. I’ll have to be extra alert tomorrow then.”

Lily asked, “Are you doing well, Hermione?”

“Yes. I am still a bit jittery after last night, but I’m doing well enough. Madam Pomfrey thinks another good night of sleep will have me right as rain.”

“That’s good. Are you going to be doing your exercises tomorrow morning Harry?”

“Yes, Lily. I need to limber up if Wednesday is going to kill me.”

Neville looked curious, and Hermione asked, “What exercises do you do in the morning?”

“I go through the basic forms for fencing with a rapier, then I meditate.”

“Harry’s teaching me to meditate,” said Lily. “Harry, do you think you could teach me to fence?”

“Er… maybe? I’m not sure I’m qualified to teach, and I don’t have any extra rapiers, so we’d have to make do with an umbrella or a broom stick.”

“Can we join in?” asked Neville.

“Why not? The more the merrier I suppose, but let’s start that on Monday. You’ll need to get up a couple of hours earlier, too.”

At the end of potions class, Professor Snape said, “Potter, I need a word with you about your potions.”

Pansy snickered and whispered loudly to Draco, “I guess his potion work isn’t up to snuff after all.”

Nott laughed while Crabbe and Goyle smirked. Malfoy merely looked thoughtful, rather than agreeing openly. Despite Professor Snape being overly harsh on the Gryffindor’s, including Harry, Harry had never turned in anything other than what appeared to be a perfect potion.

After everyone had left the class, Harry approached the professor’s desk. “You wanted to see me, Professor?”

“Yes, Potter. First, where have you learned your potion work?”

“Are you aware that I spent a month in the hospital ward prior to the start of term?”

“Yes. I am.”

“Well, I had access to the library, and after meeting my cousins from America, they lent me a couple of their potions books as well.”

“What books did they lend you?”

“They called the three of them ‘beginner’s books’. They lent me The Poisoner’s Guide to Potion Ingredients by Serpentia Milken, Potion Ingredient Equivalencies and Variances by Ash Oakbridge, and Preparing Potions: Millions of Methods for Mutilating Magical Materials by Nigel Ninefinger.”

Professor Snape looked intrigued and a bit startled at the titles. “How much of those books have you read?”

“All of them in their entirety, Professor. I have also completely read our text book, Magical Drafts and Potions, and from the library, the Book of Potions by Zygmunt Budge, Infallible Infusions by Numera Solute and Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage.”

“Have you now? That is quite the reading list. I am going to quiz you a bit on your understanding of what you have read.” Snape then asked some very advanced questions, and Harry responded with the appropriate and detailed answers.

“I would like to borrow the book by Nigel Ninefinger and the one by Ash Oakbridge.”

“I’ll ask my cousin if it is okay to lend you those books. They may require assurances that the books are returned.”

“Indeed. Then on to what I need to talk to you about. Your abilities are rather advanced for your year. So you will be meeting with me once a week for an advanced potion class in addition to your normal classwork. I will also be assigning you extra work on the essays required for your normal class. You will meet with me every Monday evening after dinner. Expect to be with me for three to four hours each evening. Do not be late.”

Harry wondered why he might be getting the extra attention when the professor was so hard on him during classes. In fact the man appeared to actively dislike him.

“Yes, Professor. Thank you, Professor. Also, I hope your leg feels better soon.” Harry had noticed that the professor limped slightly today.

Snape responded tersely, “You are dismissed, Potter.”

Harry left to find Hermione, Neville and Lily waiting for him.

“What did the professor want?” asked Hermione.

“I have to take extra potions lessons.”

“That’s absurd. Your potions are perfect. You don’t have to take remedial lessons.”

“I never said the lessons would be remedial, Hermione. Just that I have to take additional lessons.”

“Oh… I wish I could take those lessons with you.”

“So do I,” added Lily.

“I probably need the remedial lessons.”

“Nonsense, Neville. You just need to be more confident. Your knowledge of Herbology should make it easier for you when dealing with non-animal ingredients. Hermione and I are already helping you with your potions homework, so you should be fine.”

“Sounds like it would be more beneficial to study with you than Parvati and Lavender,” complained Lily.

“Why don’t you join us in the library when we study? We meet with several other students for study sessions after dinner.”

“Thanks, Hermione, I think I will.”

“That reminds me, I won’t be available for Monday study sessions as that is when I have my extra lessons.”

“Oh, that’s a shame, Harry. I’ll copy my notes for you,” offered Hermione.

“That’s alright. I can muddle by without the notes. I may ask you some questions though.”

They arrived at the great hall for lunch where Harry greeted Wednesday in the usual fashion with an exchange of kisses to the cheek. Followed by a judo throw that had him flat on his back.

“I am going to kill you, cousin.”

“I expect nothing less. By the way, Professor Snape wanted to borrow a couple of the book your parents lent me, but I need permission to loan them. Should I ask your parents, or you?” Harry asked from the ground.

“Which books?” Harry told her which books. “That should be fine as long as I get them back by the end of the school term, or when I am expelled. Whichever comes first.”

Harry got up from the floor. “Thanks. I will let him know.”

Hermione excitedly asked, “May I read the books Harry was lent?”

“I don’t see why not. Just return them to Harry when you are done. I’ve read all those books anyway.”

“Neville might like to read the herbology book,” stated Harry.

“As long as it’s Neville, and he follows the same conditions, that is acceptable.”

 

Deadly Damsel


Saturday morning found Harry facing Wednesday with bared blades. The same crowd was present as before, but this time they got Susan to give them the starting count.

“Three, two, one, fight!”

Wednesday was moving on ‘one’ when Harry expected her to move on ‘three’, so he was ready to parry her unmanning lunge. She was particularly vicious and underhanded in her fight, using the sun off her blade to blind Harry, kicking at his knees, attempting to slice off his ears, throwing elbows to the solar plexus, and the occasional judo throw.

The throws were almost the end of Harry as they always took him by surprise and caused the wind to be knocked out of him. He was going to have to learn how to defend against Judo in the near future, or his life might be a very short one. As it was, he barely rolled out of the way of a stab to the eyes, and slice to the wrist of his dominant hand, and a stab to his left foot when he was prone.

“I’d hate to see them duel with spells. Wednesday is merciless,” observed Padma.

“It might be fun to see them duel, as long as there were protections between us and them. Wednesday seems to think this is an audience participation event,” noted Millicent.

“I’m glad Potter is aware of that and keeps drawing her away,” commented Daphne.

When they had finished, it was four to one, in favor or Wednesday. “You need improvement, cousin. Otherwise you won’t survive long.”

Wednesday had some cuts to her clothes and come grass stains. Harry was bleeding from some minor cuts and rather bruised from the throws. “Obviously, cousin. Care to share any pointers?”

“You don’t think creatively enough. You rely too much on the basics and fair play.”

“Thank you for your words of wisdom.”

Fred and George looked even more awestruck with the fight than the others. Harry wondered if they might be a bit smitten with his cousin.

Later that day, Harry was reviewing his quests when he noticed that his I.P.s had increased by a significant number. This confused him as he hadn’t completed any quests. He eventually tracked down most of the increases to Hermione. Her hug had been the fifth one he had received and worth some extra points. Apparently saving Hermione was worth a significant milestone and he was unconscious at the time he received it. And Hermione had reached a threshold level on the relationship matrix that prompted another milestone reward.

However, there was still a chunk he couldn’t account for, and neither could Stheno, as well as an increase in his lust gain rate and a minimum lust level being applied. That meant his lust would never drop below that minimum level. That was disturbing to him. He would get to the bottom of it eventually, and would now have to look for rewards that reduced the minimum lust.

Chapter Text

Occlumency Test


Monday morning, Harry was greeted by Lily, and a sleepy Hermione and a sleepy Neville. Harry had moved one of the large tables aside to make room for four people, and provided them all with wooden rods about the length of a rapier.

He started them off with some limbering up exercises, then he showed them the basic forms, doing his best to correct stances, postures and grips. For basic instruction, his game reward talents were actually quite helpful. He then slowly led them through the basic drills, having them adjust their form appropriately as he went. He was sure none of them would appreciate the unconventional but effective way that Mr. Addams had instructed him. He was also sure that he would be unable to teach that way as well. By the time they were done, everyone but Harry was a little sweaty. Neville was even panting, as he was unused to that level of exertion.

Harry then led them through meditation exercises. He again corrected postures when they started, and when done, encouraged them to practice for five to fifteen minutes twice a day.

That evening after dinner, he joined the potions professor in the dungeon. Harry was assigned a third year potion to brew, and told to use the school stores for anything that he didn’t have in his school supplies. Harry worked silently as Professor Snape secured the room. Harry recognized some of the magic the professor was using, but not all of it, and he wasn’t able to observe the flow of magic as he couldn’t give it his full attention.

Two hours later, Harry had completed the potion and cleaned up his work station. Snape examined the potion carefully. When he seemed satisfied, he turned to Harry and began to speak.

“Potter, while the advanced classwork is something you can benefit from, it is not my habit to take on the extra work. In this case, a plausible ruse was necessary to comply with the headmaster’s request that I teach you Occlumency, and how to control your Legilimency. The latter will be much more difficult as I am not inclined to weaken my Occlumency barriers and let an amateur attempt to rummage around in my memories.

“I am also sure you noticed that I secured the room. We will not discuss anything related to Occlumency or Legilimency until we are in a secured location. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Before I can begin to teach you, I must verify for myself you current level of Occlumency. I will not be gentle. Prepare yourself. Legilimens!”

Harry felt the initial probe batter at his mind, and then concentrated on the memory of his examination with Morticia like he had for Dumbledore. When the probe broke through, it ran into the focused upon memory, while Harry tried to push the probe out of his mind. Harry was unsuccessful at pushing away the probe, but he was able to force the painful memory to the forefront whenever the probe tried to go for another memory. Eventually the probe stopped.

“What was that memory you kept forcing at me?”

“It was the examination I had to go through while I was in the hospital wing before start of term.”

“Madam Pomfrey did that to you?” Snape sounded dubious.

“No. A specialist had to be brought in, and they performed the examination. Madam Pomfrey was informed of the necessity before the examination was made.”

“I see. So now that I know what I have to work with, we will spend the rest of the hour discussing theory and exercises. Next week I will spend an entire hour trying to rummage through your memories.”

At the end of the session, Harry thanked Professor Snape for the extra effort that the professor was going through on his behalf. He also handed the professor the two books from the Addams’ library, with the stipulations Wednesday had provided for borrowing them.

 

Quidditch Anyone?

One Thursday, late in November, dinner featured turkey. Along with mashed potatoes and gravy, and some cranberry sauce. And added to the usually pudding selections, pumpkin pie.

Hermione took some of the breast meat. “We don’t often get turkey for dinner.”

“It’s an American thing. They have turkey for holidays where we might normally have goose. I think my cousin may have threatened the cooks if they didn’t serve it.”

“Why is that?” asked Neville.

“I believe today is a holiday in America. Thanksgiving, I think,” replied Harry.

“Oh. That must have been some threat to get the kitchens to prepare turkey.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me, Neville, to learn that her family shipped the turkey over just for her.”

“It is quite delicious, actually,” commented Hermione between bites.

“I think that Wednesday may have already cleaned one bird by herself.” Neville was right, and she was starting in on her second bird. In fact, it seemed that Wednesday was intent on gorging herself.

When the meal was done, Wednesday let out a particularly loud and satisfied belch, surprising nearly everyone in the great hall. She refused to excuse herself, because it is not in the Addams’ nature nor etiquette to do so.

Later that evening, Harry selected a quest, since it was approaching the end of November, this was to kiss three girls he hadn’t kissed before in the next twelve hours, so that evening after study group in the library was complete, he kissed his cousin on the cheek good night, and kissed Susan and Hannah on the cheek to their surprise and delight, for which he got two chimes, then he kissed Padma, Mandy, Millicent, Elizabeth, as well as Lilly, and Hermione. Harry heard chimes for each of them, and due to their gossipy nature, was glad that Parvati and Lavender hadn’t joined them in the library that evening.

Neville was unsure what to make of that and hoped he wasn’t next.

That weekend Harry attended his first ever quidditch game. It was exciting to watch, and he thought that maybe he should try out for the Gryffindor team next year. Apparently their seeker this year was rubbish according to Ron. Ron had tried out for the team, but didn’t make it this year as he wasn’t seeker material.

Harry was sitting between Hermione and Wednesday, with Neville and Ron beside Hermione and Susan and Hannah next to Wednesday. Hagrid joined them after twenty minutes, saying it wasn’t the same watching from his hut as it was with a crowd. An hour and twenty minutes in, a bludger was hit by one of the Gryffindor beaters (either Fred or George, Harry couldn’t tell at this distance), and the bludger pelted towards a Slytherin chaser only to for the bludger to swerve and miss and continue onwards… straight at Harry. Harry was able to jump out of the way just in time for the bludger to destroy the portion of the bench he had just been seated on. Madam Hooch called for play to stop while the bludger quivered and freed itself only to shoot into the air, and head back for Harry. George flew in and hit the ball back out towards the quidditch pitch, apparently aiming for a Slytherin player, when the ball performed a U-turn and sped back towards Harry. George was joined by Fred who were now beating the ball in turns to keep it out of the stands while Madam Hooch was trying to secure the rogue bludger. At that point the second bludger headed straight for Harry. This one, Hagrid grabbed in one of his large hands and held onto it tightly.

“Gallopin’ Gargoyles, I’ve never seen a bludger act like this before,” said Hagrid.

“Hagrid, I’m heading out of the stands. They seem to be coming after me, and I don’t want to endanger the other students.”

“No, stay where you are. Weasley! Let the bludger through!” Hagrid then caught the second bludger before it hit Harry, but not before Harry spied Snape staring at the bludger and muttering.

“Thank you, Hagrid,” said Madam Hooch as she flew up the game keeper. “Please open your hands enough for me to examine the bludgers.” She took out her wand and began casting spells upon them. When she was done, she repaired Harry’s seat and said, “I can see nothing wrong with them now. Toss them out and we’ll let play resume for now. If they act up again, we’ll have to cancel the match.”

Hagrid gave them both a good strong toss, towards the middle of the field. Harry was now watching the bludgers closely and inspecting their magic, trying to figure them out, as Ron commented, “I’ve never heard of a bludger attacking the spectators before.”

In the end, Slytherin creamed Gryffindor.

Harry wondered why the bludgers had targeted him. And why was Snape apparently casting a curse on the bludger… or was it a counter-curse?

The next day, Harry overheard Quirrell whimpering in an empty classroom, “Please, no. I’ll get the information, I’ll find it. I won’t fail again!”

He rushed forward to the door just to have Quirrell run out the door in front of him. There was a door open on the other side of the classroom which caused Harry to wonder who had just been threatening the meek professor. Adding to the mystery was that his vial had vibrated.

 

Christmas at the Castle


Harry was rather upset when his request to spend Christmas Holiday with the Addams clan was denied. He wondered why his uncle was being so vindictive about it.

All he knew was he was not welcome back at the Dursleys’ during the holidays, and he wasn’t allowed to go where he was welcome. So he set about trying to distract himself with purchasing gifts by mail order. He wasn’t on the best terms with Ron, especially because of Ron’s envious and judgmental nature. Since he was a Chudley Cannons fan, Harry purchased him a Chudley Cannons robe and a Chudley Cannons trivia book.

He decided to get the Weasley twins some pranks from an American catalog that Wednesday had given him. She had complained that the pranks weren’t deadly enough to be of interest to her.

He had found that Flourish and Blott’s had mail order, and he obtained Healing at Home with Herbs by Phyllida Spore to give to Neville. Harry also got an actual neck chain with mounting for Neville to carry his remembrall, instead of that makeshift twine one he made.

Harry got a few blank books and a copy of Library Legerdemain and Bibliotheca Bewitchment for Hermione, so that he could create a linking book for her like his own.

He bought a book on rare creatures for Hagrid.

Flourish and Blott’s was able to obtain for him from a mundane bookstore Le Morte d’Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table, which he gave to Susan.

For the Patil twins he got them art supplies, when he overheard Parvati complaining that she and her sister had used up their supply of them.

For Millicent, he was stumped as he couldn’t find a book on charms he wanted to give her, and eventually got her book titled Cats Through the Ages as well as a cat grooming kit and some chocolate frogs.

For Wednesday he got a collection of dolls designed after the most infamous female rulers, including Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary), Queen Ranavalona I (the Mad Monarch), and Agrippina the Younger. He hoped that Wednesday would appreciate the gift, and not immediately behead the lot.

For Morticia, he had Stheno help him write out Sappho’s The Crones’ Lament in the original Greek. For the rest of the Addams clan, he got a model of the Hogwarts train engine for Gomez, a mundane book on the history of fire arms for Fester, a set of cat themed ladles for Grandmama, a set of Dr. Filibuster’s Wet-Start No-Heat Fireworks and a few sets of dung bombs for Pugsley, and self-powered feather duster for Lurch.

For the rest of his acquaintances, he gave them greeting cards for the season. None of the cards specifically wished anyone a Happy Christmas, as he didn’t know if they celebrated Christmas, or Hanukkah or one of the pagan holidays he had heard of. He got greeting cards for his friends too, to attach to their gifts, but the ones for Fred and George he charmed to turn one’s hair neon red, and the other’s neon green. Their hair would even glow in the dark. The charm was linked so that when they touched them again, the colors would change so red became green and green became red. It wouldn’t matter which one touched the cards, the change would occur. And he charmed it to only affect Fred and George. The color change itself would last a couple of hours, or until they touched the cards again. He had found the charms needed in the library earlier in the year.

He also got cards for his teachers, the school matron, the headmaster, and the castle caretaker. He made sure the ones for Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey were especially nice given how much effort they took to take care of him over the last month of summer.

He had to create his own card for the Addams family. In it he wished them ‘a cold, wet, miserable, overcast holiday with lots of nasty surprises’.

For his three friends in Little Whinging, he wrote them letters and tucked them into Christmas cards, apologizing for not writing more often. He also sent them some cauldron cakes, that besides their odd shape and ‘weird’ flavors (like ‘eye of newt’, which to Harry tasted like wintergreen), were rather ordinary. He even checked with Madam Pomfrey to make sure they were safe for non-magicals to eat.

The next Quidditch match between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw was likewise well attended, with Harry again sandwiched (or sandwitched as he was beginning to think of it) between Wednesday and Hermione, with Padma next to Hermione and Parvati next to her sister, and Neville, Susan and Hannah next to Wednesday. Even the Headmaster was in attendance, but Professor Snape was absent.

Perhaps because of the headmaster’s attendance, or perhaps it was because of Snape’s absence, the game was uneventful from an abnormal standpoint. Ravenclaw edged out Hufflepuff for the win, with the Ravenclaw catching the snitch in time to win by only ten points.

The following Friday, after a particularly grueling day of potions, which was the day before the winter holidays began, Harry, Neville, Hermione, Lily and Ron found their way blocked by a fir tree in the middle of the hall, with a pair of big furry boots at its base. The tree looked like it might have been uprooted.

“Need any help, Hagrid?” called Harry from his side of the tree.

“Nah, jus’ clear the path ter the great hall.”

“Hey, what’s the hold up?” Said Nott as he, Malfoy, Parkinson, Crabbe and Goyle came up behind. “Get that tree out of the way, it’s blocking the hall.”

“We need to move aside so that Hagrid can move the tree,” said Ron, as the Gryffindors moved to one side of the hallway.

“Practicing how to treat your betters, Weasley?” sneered Draco. “You should do that more often. Move that tree to the side and let us by.”

“Even if I was practicing that, Malfoy, it would never be for you,” responded Ron as he stepped back into the middle of the hall.

A restraining hand by Nott was placed on Malfoy’s arm. “It would be more dignified for us to choose another route or step to the side. The help has blocked the hall to our inconvenience, but belaboring the point doesn’t make matters better. If we continue forward, we will still have to squeeze by to one side to get past the tree anyway. Best to let Weasley practice being a groundskeeper as it is probably the best job he can hope for.”

“Why you—”

Harry, Hermione and Neville grabbed a red-faced Ron as he was about to lunge at Nott.

“What’s going on here?” queried a perturbed Professor Snape as he rounded a corner.

Nott responded, “Weasley was about to use physical violence upon our persons when his dorm mates stopped him.”

“He was provoked, Professor,” said Hagrid.

“Be that as it may, five points from Gryffindor, Weasley, for causing your dorm mates trouble and keeping the hallway blocked with your shenanigans.”

The Slytherins turned and went back the way they came.

“Yeh lot head for the great hall, that way I don’ trample yeh. I reckon yeh’ll like what’s being done to it.”

They all headed for the Great Hall, and true to his word, the hall was being decked out quite well. Flitwick and Sinistra were decorating a tree, and McGonagall was transfiguring things into holly wreaths to hang on the walls. Hagrid placed the tree into a large pot in the last empty corner of the hall that Professor Sprout then started fussing over.

“Hagrid,” Harry asked, “Why are you putting the trees in pots with their roots intact, rather than cutting the roots off and placing the tree in a tree stand?”

“Is that how muggles do it? Huh. Well, I know some family’s use the tree afterwar’s fer fire wood, but fer us, the centaurs appreciate havin’ the trees returned ter the forest, even if the trees get a bit stressed from bein’ transplanted like this. Best ter stay on the good side of the centaurs whenever yeh can.”

After lunch, Harry found out that the Weasleys, and Millicent would be staying over the holidays in the castle when Professor McGonagall came around to verify who had signed up to stay.

Parkinson made a comment to Malfoy in passing about it being no wonder that Harry lacked social graces as he didn’t have a proper family to return to that could teach them to him. Harry wondered if making snide and cruel remarks was what passed for social graces in pureblood society.

The last day of school before the students departed for the holidays, Harry selected a quest for December, which was to give gifts to girls, and since it expired after Christmas, it made Harry happy he had already prepared some gifts. Harry was going to hand the gifts off to people before they left for home, but Millicent tipped him off that the house elves would take care of that on Christmas Eve. All he had to do with leave them on top of his trunk that evening.

The few days leading up to Christmas after everyone left, Harry spent playing games and studying. Ron wondered why he bothered studying during the holiday, and couldn’t stand that Harry spend time with Millicent.

“Why do you hang around that snake, Harry?”

“Because she’s nice, I like her, and she’s my friend.”

“All Slytherins are evil. You shouldn’t be around them.”

“Really? Why shouldn’t I be around Slytherins?”

“Because if you put your trust in one, they’ll betray you. They can’t be trusted. And it looks bad for you to be seen with them.”

Harry blinked. “And why is it bad to be seen with them?”

“Because people might think you’re turning evil by consorting with those fanatics.”

“And why are you calling them fanatics?” Harry was beginning to see a pattern of unassailable belief that no logic would penetrate.

“Their parents are Death Eaters! They think purity of blood allows them to do whatever they want to whomever they want. And look what they did to my hair at the beginning of the year! And how nasty they are to me!”

“Ron, did it ever occur to you that they might be nasty to you because you are nasty to them? And I know who turned your hair green, and it wasn’t a Slytherin.”

“Who was it then? I want to hex them back!”

“Which is why I won’t tell you. All I’ll say is that it wasn’t me, though the way you treat some of my friends, I wish I had done it. I won’t have others choosing my friends for me, Ron.”

At which Ron stormed off in a huff, and was replaced by Fred and George. George asked, “Is Ickle Ronnikins being a right git again?”

“Yes, he is, George.”

“How do you do that?” asked Fred.

“Do what?”

“Tell us apart. Even our mum and dad have trouble,” lamented George.

“Dunno. It’s nothing I can outright say, like this freckle is larger on one of you than the other, or something like that. I just sort of feel it, I guess.”

They looked at him shrewdly for a few moments and then each other, and let the matter drop. George asked, “So why don’t you hate all Slytherins like our little brother does?”

“Why should I? Most of them haven’t done anything to me.”

“Most of their parents were accused of being death eaters.”

“So? Sins of the father and all that rot? I’m not about to blame the children for what their parents did. I will judge them by their own actions. I noticed the two of you only target bullies with your more humiliating pranks. When it comes to the mild fun pranks, anyone is fair game. It just seems that most of the bullies are in Slytherin. But only about four in ten Slytherins appear to be bullies.”

“He is very astute, isn’t he, dear brother?”

“Why yes he is, dear brother. Say, Harry, how about playing some Morgana’s Twist with us? We hear you’re pretty good at that antiquated game.”

“Sure thing, Fred. I’ll ask Millicent to join us and go get my deck. By the way, why did you want to play Morgana’s Twist?”

“Because Ron hates that game. Aunt Muriel makes him play it with her whenever she visits. When he gets bored being angry, which will be soon, he’ll come looking to play chess or exploding snap,” responded George.

“Those are the only two games he likes to play, and you’ve been spoiling him,” said Fred as he waggled a finger at Harry. Harry laughed and went to ask Millicent to join them and then went to get his deck. He also came back with two boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans that were left over from his train ride into school.

They played for the rest of the afternoon, using the beans as forfeits for the one with the worst hand. The loser had to eat five of them. Not just taste, but actually eat, and then state what flavor they were. Millicent almost never had the worst hand, and the twins started to tease her about cheating, or having marked Harry’s cards. She took it in good fun, claiming “Of course I’m cheating. I’m a Slytherin.” And everyone would eat one of the beans every now and then even though they didn’t lose.

When Ron did show up as his brother’s predicted, he was upset to see not only Harry sitting with Millicent, but his two brother’s as well, and they were playing the most dreaded of all games. After the argument with Harry earlier, he held his tongue and walked off sulking.

Harry saw this from his seat and said, “Wednesday would be so proud. The only thing that would have made her prouder was if you had somehow produced a spider.”

The twins snickered.

Since there were so few students staying for the holidays, only one table was available for meals, and Harry sat with Millicent that evening.

“Millicent, why are you staying at the castle for the holidays?”

“My father is out of the country doing ministry work, and my mother is off visiting her muggle relatives. I’m not allowed to visit them, and my mother only visits them when father is out of town.”

“That’s sad. Why can’t you stay with your father’s relatives?” Millicent looked pained at the question. Harry rushed on, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want too.”

“It’s fine. Most of them are dead from the war, in Azkaban, or don’t want anything to do with a half-blood, and would probably do something horrible to me. My father won’t let me be alone with any of them.”

“I see. Why aren’t you allowed to visit your muggle relatives?”

“An instance of severe accidental magic. I might be able to visit them in a year or two when my parents are convinced I have control of my magic. Why aren’t you visiting your relatives?”

Harry made a sour face, “My uncle is being a blighter. My aunt and uncle are mundane and hate anything that isn’t ‘normal’ and wizards are about as far from ‘normal’ as you can get. And because of that, he refused to allow me to visit with my cousins in America. They also never give me gifts, and everything I owned prior to school was cast-offs from my cousin. So, really my only option is to stay at the castle, not that I mind. Loads better than staying with my aunt and uncle for the holidays.”

“And I thought I had it bad. How are you so nice after living in an environment so filled with hate?”

Harry thought that was a good question. He chewed on some food and gave it some thought before answering. “I don’t know. I guess, I just want to treat people the way I want to be treated. If I treated everyone like they were out to get me, or hated people for being different like my relatives do, or just took my anger at the way I was treated out on those around me, I think that would be a rather sad existence.”

“That describes most of Slytherin House,” Millicent joked.

“I know. Which is why I try not to let Parkinson get to me. The rest seem to … keep their distance.”

“It has to do with internal house politics. Malfoy is undecided how to interact with you, and since his family is one of the most prominent in social and political circles, the rest are taking their cue from him. Parkinson, and a few others like her, don’t seem to care about incurring the wrath of a Malfoy. Admittedly, Draco can do little on his own right now, but if his father feels that family is being slighted, he could make things very difficult for the other students’ parents, which in turn would make the students miserable. Additionally, Greengrass is undecided as well, but leaning towards the favorable.”

“How is the bullying of half-bloods so far this year?”

“Well, I shouldn’t be discussing this with someone not in my house. I told you that Greengrass was running interference for us, right? Well, she’s collected some of the older half-bloods under her aegis. The Greengrass family is almost as wealthy and politically powerful as the Malfoy family, so for the same political reasons, they can’t openly bully half-bloods, and Professor Snape makes his displeasure known when he catches wind of bullying within the house.”

They continued to chat about this and that. Harry learned that Millicent had been unsure she could withstand the pressure within the Slytherin House to avoid having to bully students outside of their house. Her being friends with Harry and Daphne has made that easier for her.

Christmas rolled around, and Harry left his gifts out by the end of his bed that evening. The next morning he awoke at his usual time for exercise and noted that his pile had changed overnight and all the gifts he was giving had been taken away. He continued with his normal routine and showered and dressed before he roused Ron with a kick to the footboard of Ron’s bed and a loud “Oi! Happy Christmas!”

Ron jolted awake, and tumbled out of bed in a tangle of bed sheets with a muffled yell of “Geroff me, George!” When he got upright, he said, “Presents!” and proceed to throw on his bath robe.

“What’s the matter Harry?” asked Ron after getting dressed. He had started sorting his presents.

“I’ve never gotten presents before, so I’m a bit overwhelmed.” Harry was pulling his presents onto the bed before he started opening them. He opened them very carefully to save the paper.

“What? That’s absurd.”

“Absurd, but true.”

“You’re relatives are a real piece of work. Oh no.”

“What’s the matter?”

Ron held up a hand knitted maroon jumper. “My mum makes these every year, and mine is always maroon. And I hate maroon.”

“What’s all the noise about?” said Fred, who came in with George, both of whom were wearing blue jumpers with yellow letters and shockingly colored hair. Fred’s jumper had a yellow ‘F’ and his hair was neon red, and George’s jumper had a yellow ‘G’ and his hair was neon green. “Ah, presents! I see you got your jumper, ickle Ronnikins.”

“Put it on, they’re nice and warm. At least yours doesn’t have a letter on it, Ron. It’s not like mum thinks you can’t remember your own name. We know our names are Gred and Forge,” commented George.”

“What’s with the commotion?” asked Percy in a stuffy manner.

“Oh, you got your jumper too?” inquired George. Fred and George, despite Percy’s protestations, took his jumper and pulled it over him, pinning his arms to the side.

“You’re not eating with the Prefects today. You’re eating with your family,” commanded Fred.

“Get your presents open and join us for breakfast. Don’t make us drag you downstairs too, Ron.”

“Okay, George, I get it.”

“Honestly, can’t you tell I’m Gred?”

After Fred, George and Percy left, Harry and Ron continued opening presents.

Harry got a scroll-note while in the process of opening presents.

            Note to self: There is a gift here that is light weight and wrapped in plain paper. It is something I should only open when I am by myself, or with people I absolutely trust. The card won’t say it, but it is from the headmaster. ~HJP

Harry found the object in question and shoved it under his pillow to open later. For the rest of his presents, he got a hand carved flute from Hagrid that sounded like an owl. From Hermione he got a box of chocolate frogs, since he was collecting the cards. Susan sent him an English-German dictionary, which he appreciated. The Patil twins got him a boar bristle hair brush, where the handle was shaped like a lion, for his long hair and a variety of ribbons for him to use to tie off his plait. They also got him a bottle of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion for his unruly hair. Millicent got him two matching tarot decks with a note ‘for when you want to play double deck Morgana’s Twist’. The motif of the decks was dragons, and they were very well drawn. Neville got him two books, Transfiguration for Fun and Profit, and A Layman’s Guide to Herbology.

Wednesday and the rest of the Addams’ family got him a book as well, Moste Potente Potions by Phineas Bourne. They also sent him some confections and other knick-knacks, as well as a poisoner’s kit.

He also got two cards from his aunt and uncle. That was strange. His aunt actually sent him a greeting card with photo inside of his mother and herself as children. He was unaware that his aunt had any photos of his mother. The note inside the greeting card was probably most surprising of all.

            Harry,

            I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas at school. I really don’t have any idea what to get you for a present, so I thought a photo of your mother might be something you’d enjoy. I don’t have any photos of her when she attending your school or older.

            Happy Christmas,

            Aunt Petunia

The second was more in line with what he was expecting.

            I hope your holiday is miserable at that freak school. Don’t bother coming back. Ever. And you aren’t getting permission for anything.

            Don’t spend it all in one place.

            Vernon

And inside that note was taped a fifty pence piece.

Really, Harry had no idea of what to make of it. If Petunia had signed the second note, it would have been expected. Apparently she decided to write another note rather than sign the one with Vernon’s vitriol, and it confused him greatly.

 

Midnight Meanderings


After a lovely Christmas breakfast, Harry played outside having a snowball fight with the four Weasley’s, Millicent, and couple of the other students that stayed in the castle for the holidays. Dinner was leftovers from breakfast, which was also a treat for Harry on the holiday, as he never got to have a feast on Christmas nor any of the leftovers before. At the Dursleys’, he usually had gruel for breakfast and a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch on the holidays.

After Ron had gone to sleep, Harry took out his last present and went down to the common room to open it, since the room was empty. Inside he found a gray shimmering silky material that was so light it was like it had been made of air. As he unfolded the material to see that it was a cloak of some kind, a note fell out and to the floor. Harry picked it up and read the narrow loopy writing.

            Your father left this in my possession before he died. It was time it was returned to you.

            Use it well.

            A Very Merry Christmas to you

Harry recognized the writing as the headmaster’s from the previous note he received. Harry tried on the cloak, and noticed that he couldn’t see his lower body any more. He rushed upstairs to the bathroom to look in a mirror to find only his floating head reflected back at him. When he raised the hood, nothing of him remained visible.

“Ah, an invisibility cloak! That explains the ‘use it well’ part of the note,” Harry commented to himself.

‘Happy Christmas, Stheno.’

‘Yes, Happy Christmas,’ Stheno replied dryly.

‘What would the ancient Greeks be celebrating?’ asked Harry after noting her tone of response.

‘Kronia, the festival of Kronos, unless you were in Athens. Athenians celebrated Kronia in what you think of as early August. They called the winter solstice holiday by Thlipse tes Demetras, or ‘Demeter’s Sorrow’. They always had to do things backwards.’

She went on to describe the festivities of Kronia being very similar to those of Christmas in regards to gift giving, though the gifts tended to be gag gifts. Slaves were allowed to be raucous and free of work. Gambling and other games of chance were the prevailing entertainment and feasts were held.

After Stheno’s lecture was over, Harry thought to her, ‘Happy belated Kronia, Stheno.’

Her response was more enthusiastic this time, ‘Happy belated Kronia, royal mortal.’

With that out of the way, Harry decided to start his explorations before Christmas day ended, even if that end was only a half hour away. He left through the portrait hole, and as the Gertrude wasn’t present, she wasn’t disturbed. It was interesting walking around with the cloak, as it felt like he was wearing nothing really. He could feel it rub against his hands and face, but it was so silky and light, it was barely noticeable. He wandered the castle and decided to investigate the library to see if there was any way to link it to a blank book. His alter-ego seemed to think it was possible, but currently he only knew how to link books he owned. Public books might be a different cauldron of silverfish.

He cast a Lumos spell and was investigating the different corners of the library, along the walls, ceiling (high though it might be), floors and bookcases for the flow of magic. He even looked at everything but the books in the restricted section. He felt he might be onto something when he heard a familiar wheezing sound enter the library.

“Where is the student, my sweet?”

Harry immediately extinguished the light from his wand. He had forgotten that invisible didn’t mean he didn’t have a scent, or make sounds. He quietly shuffled around the bookcases away from Filch’s Lantern, and out into the halls, and started to quickly walk away, and when far enough from the library, run.

He was surprised when he heard Filch talking to Snape nearby, and figured that there must have been a shortcut to get here. The hallway was too narrow for him to avoid bumping into either of the men, so he looked for an open doorway.

He found one, and tried to squeeze through it without moving the door, and was just on the other side and behind the door when the two men walked by talking about a student that might have been in the restricted section.

When Harry felt they had been gone long enough not to hear him moving around, he started looking around the room, and though it looked like a disused classroom, his mage sight immediately identified the mirror in the room as magical. The frame had engraved around it a lot of symbols and the words Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. This was a very strong magical device, and Harry approached it carefully. He slowly stepped before it, expecting to not see his reflection because of the cloak, but instead he saw himself wearing his bathrobe and night clothes with a crowd of people behind him, including the Addams family (and including cousin Tweedle). He recognized one woman as an older version of the girl in the picture his Aunt had given him. He looked behind himself and reached out a hand to figure out if there was anything really behind him. There was nothing. Harry removed the cloak, and the mirror did not change, other than to show him holding the cloak now.

The people in the mirror were smiling at him, but the ones who were not an Addams seemed to be sad as well. Then Harry noticed that Stheno and another gorgon were in the background, too. Harry thought about the engraving might mean, when he realized it was written to be read in a mirror and broken up oddly. He whispered to himself, “I show not your face but your heart’s desire…”

‘Be careful mortal. That is a very ancient mirror, even if the frame is relatively recent.’

With that warning, Harry tore his eyes away from the mirror and walked to the side. He thought about what it meant about his heart’s desire.

‘Stheno, if that mirror truly shows my heart’s desire, my greatest desire must be for a large loving family. It showed me the family I have as well as the family I’ve always wanted. It didn’t show a wife or children, so I suppose I don’t desire those right now. It showed my mother and father, and I think their parents and a few others who are presumably all dead as they looked sad. The Addamses were there, and looking happy, and so were you, and I would guess your sister. My aunt, uncle and cousin Dudley were nowhere in the reflection.’

‘You saw me, and my sister, in the mirror?’ asked a shocked Stheno.

‘Yes. I guess that means I think of you as my family and I want you reunited with your sister. I want to look in the mirror again, but I think that is the danger you warned me about. Since it show’s me what I want most, I think I can get trapped into staring at it for long periods of time. I feel like the most important thing right now is to go back and look at the mirror.’

‘It is good that you realize this, royal mortal. Meditation may help you, but it is best if you do not visit the mirror again.’

Harry donned the invisibility cloak again, and returned to Gryffindor Tower to meditate. He meditated in his bed until morning, even so long as to skip his normal exercises. When he no longer felt the pull of the mirror, he stopped meditating and realized it was time to get dressed and start his day.

After breakfast, he asked Millicent to join him for a walk outside in the snow. They thanked each other for their Christmas gift, and he told her about the mirror, without mentioning the cloak.

“I’d like to see the mirror to see what my heart’s desire is.”

“It’s very dangerous Millicent. I had to spend six hours meditating last night on what I saw until I no longer felt the need to go gaze in the mirror. Do you know how to meditate?”

“A bit. Sounds like I should practice more.”

“You should. It actually helps you get in touch with the flow of your magic which can help you with your spell casting. It is also the beginning point for basic Occlumency and organizing your thoughts and improving your memory.”

“What’s Occlumency?”

“It’s a form of mental magic, allowing you to strengthen your mental defenses and organize your memories and knowledge. I’ll ask Wednesday if you can borrow the book her family lent me.”

“It’s probably best if I don’t borrow books. I’m not sure I could keep it safe in my house.”

“How about I loan it to you in the library, and when we leave, you hand it back. That way you don’t have to worry about keeping it safe.”

“That would be great. Can we give try that today?”

“Of course we can. Remember to wipe your feet as we enter the castle.”

“Why do you remind us to wipe our feet every time?”

“To stay on Filch’s good side, presuming he has one. He’s always complaining about how the students keep making messes but never clean them up.”

“Don’t the house elves take care of that?”

“I think they take care of the dorms. Everything else seems to be handled by detentions and Mr. Filch. Perhaps the elves take care of the in use classrooms as well, as I haven’t heard of any students having to clean those.”

“I see. I still want to see it. Can you meet me tonight and take me to it?”

“Alright. We’ll meet at ten tonight, by the kitchens?”

“Okay.”

Harry went to get the book Concealing Cognizance: Occlumency Exercises and Theory for Millicent and then met her in the Library. After handing her the book, he went and grabbed ten random books off the shelves and returned the table.

He was examining the books with his mage sight and some detections spells (that he had learned to use on the paintings) to see if they had anything magical that identified them as Hogwarts Library books when Ron found him. Ron made a slight gagging sound upon finding Millicent there as well. “Hey, Harry. Want to play some chess?”

“Thank you, Ron, but I’m studying right now. You can join us if you wish.”

“Er… I’ll pass. We can play chess when you are done, right?” Ron’s aversion to studying was such that he never noticed what books Harry had beside him. If he had, he’d have wondered if Harry was really studying.

“Sure. After dinner sound alright?”

“Great. See you then, mate.”

Harry spent the rest of the day with Millicent in the library. She was making notes about the theory and exercises and occasionally asking Harry for clarification. Harry meanwhile was studying the books for magical signatures, and felt he was getting close to what he wanted to know. It was so very, very close, yet it was eluding him all the same.

At dinner time, Millicent was reluctant to return the book to Harry, but realized she had the rest of the holidays to read the book, so she decided this evening she would practice the exercises about which she had taken notes.

After dinner, Harry was trounced by Ron several times at wizard chess, even with (or despite) help from Percy, Fred and George. Harry then had to wait until quarter of ten to sneak out to meet Millicent. He took his invisibility cloak with him, but it was stashed in his bath robe pocket. He arrived at the meeting point a few minutes ahead of Millicent.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Harry.

“Positive.”

“Alright, I’ll lead the way. Make sure to stop when I stop, and tug on my robe if you think I need to stop. Let’s do our best not to make any sound until we get to the mirror.”

“Okay.”

Harry led her up several flights of stairs to the hallway with the disused classroom. Harry was sure that the suit of armor next to the door was on the other side of the doorway last night, so maybe the rumors about the suits moving around the castle were true. The door was still ajar, so Harry opened it slowly to keep it from squeaking, then slowly closed it behind them. Millicent was already approaching the mirror.

Harry refused to give into the desire to look in the mirror again, so he stood beside it in order to see Millicent’s reaction and watch how the magic of the mirror worked. Her reaction was a cross between joy and sadness at the same time, and Harry let her look for a quarter of an hour before dragging her away.

“What are you doing? I’ve only been looking for a minute,” scolded Millicent.

“You’ve been at it for over fifteen minutes. Tell me what you saw, please.”

“Well, I saw myself, and my parents, they were smiling. They almost never smile. And I saw my other relatives looking happy standing behind my mother, and some of the relatives I know on my father’s side standing behind him, all looking happy. And behind my father I saw some relatives I had only seen in paintings or photographs, smiling yet looking sad.”

Harry was stunned that her heart’s desire was so close to his own. He managed to grab her arm as she turned back to the mirror.

“It’s dangerous, Millicent. You’ve had a look. You may not have realized it yet, but our desires are the same. We both wish we had happy, loving families.”

“Let me go, I want to look some more!”

Harry leapt in front of her. “I can’t let you do that. You’ll get lost in it otherwise.”

“That is a very perceptive assertion, Mr. Potter,” said a familiar old voice.

Millicent spun around and started turning white as a sheet. “I’m sorry, Professor,” responded Harry. “I was sure the room was empty when we came in.”

“It’s amazing what one can miss when worried about a friend. You’ve divined the secret to the Mirror of Erised I see. That is very good. However, for Miss Bulstrode’s and your safety, I think I shall have to move the mirror to a more secure location. Best if you return to your beds before Mr. Filch makes his rounds.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

Millicent blurted out, “What do you see in the mirror, Headmaster?”

“I see myself receiving a pair of warm wool socks.”

“Socks?” asked a shocked Millicent.

“Yes, Miss Bulstrode. Socks. Everyone insists on giving me books. No one ever thinks to give me socks. Now, back to bed. Off you trot.”

Harry thought it might have been a bit too personal to ask the headmaster what he saw in the mirror. He led Millicent back down to the kitchens.

“Are you okay? Do you want me to walk you to your house door?”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll head to my house, you head to yours.”

On impulse Harry hugged Millicent. “Sweet dreams, Millicent. See you tomorrow at breakfast.” He then headed back up to the dorms and straight to bed, as he only meditated last night, and didn’t get any sleep.

The next morning Harry asked, ‘Stheno, is it likely that Millicent is my soul mate?’

‘Why do you think so?’

‘Well, we do seem to get along pretty well, but really it’s the fact that we both have the same, or very similar, heart’s desire.’

‘Yes, it is likely. Very likely. Without a ritual or spell to confirm it, you’ll have to continue to be observant.’

‘Thank you, I will.’

That afternoon, to get Millicent’s mind of the mirror, he took her down to Hagrid’s hut for a visit. Hagrid was happy for the company, and Fang was overjoyed to have someone to lick (namely Harry). Eventually Harry brought up the question he had been meaning to ask for a while.

“Hagrid, why is there a cerberus inside the castle?”

“How do yeh know about Fluffy?”

Millicent blinked, “Fluffy?”

“Yeah, I named him Fluffy. Got him off a Greek chappie last summer. How do yeh know about him?”

“Wandered into the corridor by accident during one of my night time strolls,” Harry responded enigmatically.

“Yeh shouldn’ go wanderin’ round the school at night, Harry.”

“So, why is Fluffy in the castle? Has it got something to do with the trap door in the hallway?”

“Tis no business of yers what Fluffy’s guarding. That’s between the headmaster and Nicholas Flamel.”

“Who’s Nicholas Flamel?” asked Millicent.

“I shoudn’ have said that.” Changing the subject and not looking either of them in the eye, he asked, “More rock cake?”

But Harry knew who Nicholas Flamel was. Or at least where he’d seen the name before. It was on his chocolate frog card of Albus Dumbledore and that he was Dumbledore’s partner in Alchemy. He’d have to dig in the library for famous alchemists later.

Harry had a nightmare about his parents and other family members disappearing in a flash of green light along with a high pitched laugh. He talked to Stheno about it, and she concluded that it was most likely a memory from his parent’s deaths being incorporated into his mind’s efforts to deal with the after effects viewing the Mirror of Erised.

Over the next couple of days, Harry looked through the library for a book on famous alchemists, and eventually found one. It told him about Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle, and that he was using the Philosopher’s Stone to stay alive, and that he was the only known maker of the stone. Harry deduced that Fluffy must be guarding the stone. He also gathered that Hagrid must have picked up the stone while he took Harry to Gringotts, and that the person who broke into Gringotts that same day was looking for the stone.

The question became, who was looking for the stone?

After breakfast on January fourth, the day before students were to return for the start of term, Harry was playing wizard’s chess with Millicent, and still losing. She was kind enough to do an after action analysis to help Harry understand why he was losing. Ron came over and looked miffed.

“Harry, mate, come play chess with me.”

“I’m played out, Ron. Why don’t you ask Millicent to play? She’s better than I am, so might be more of a challenge for you.”

“I guess I’ll go ask Fred or George.”

“What’s the matter Weasley? Afraid you’ll lose to a girl?” inquired Millicent in her deep voice, though it was pitched high for her.

“What!?”

“I asked if you did not want to play against me because you are afraid you would lose to a girl.”

Ron narrowed his eyes and looked at Millicent. “Fine, set them up.”

Harry saw Fred and George, still sporting neon red and green hair, enter the hall and waved them over. They looked at each other in surprise when they saw their brother playing chess with the Slytherin girl. They sat down on either side of the table on the other side of the board from Harry to watch. The game took a while, and in the end, the game was a draw.

Ron was obviously upset at the draw, Millicent looked pleased, while Fred and George looked disappointed.

“Well, ickle Ronnikins—“started George.

“You’ve met your match—“

“In a Slytherin—“

“And a girl to boot. Oh, and Harry,”

“We love what you’ve done to our hair. Well done,” said George, pointing to his neon green hair.

“Next Christmas—“

“Or maybe your birthday—“

“Or maybe sooner—“

“We’ll return the favor,” completed both twins as they smiled with maniacal glee.

“I look forward to the surprise,” deadpanned Harry. The twins strutted out of the hall, arm in arm.

Ron broke out of his angry funk and looked at Harry with some awe, “That was you, mate? I thought it was Lee or someone else. It’s the first time I’d been able to tell them apart with certainty, because they keep swapping jumpers.”

Harry just shrugged. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because the hair color swaps from time to time.”

“No wonder they’ve been so pleased this holiday. That was probably the best gift they could have gotten. Another method to confuse people as to which one is which.”

“I’m glad they liked it. I suppose the novelty will wear off in a week or so. I don’t think my spell work will last much beyond that.”

“That’s impressive, Harry. That seems like something beyond first year work,” commented Millicent.

Harry shrugged again. “I found a book on pranks. It has been rather informative.”

“Can I see that book, mate? I need to return some favors to my brothers.” Ron looked pleadingly.

“I don’t have it, I stumbled across it in the library, and when I was done reading it, the book disappeared. I don’t know where it went. It may be hiding elsewhere in the library somewhere. The title was Jokes and Giggles to Impress Your Friends and Horrify Enemies by Ima Prank.”

“I’ll go look for that book then.” Ron scooped up his chess pieces and hurried off in the direction of the Library.

After he left, Harry broke out in giggles. Millicent looked mystified. “What’s so funny?”

“If there is such a book in the library, I’d be most surprised. It was my way to prank Ron into spending more time in the library. Maybe I’ll put a title on the cover of a blank book and hide it in the library for him to find.”

Millicent burst out laughing. Later that day, Harry did just that, and hid it in the history section of the library, after marking it as part of the school’s library using what he had learned about how Hogwarts maintained its library.

That evening, Fred and George approached Harry and Fred asked, “Harry, do you know why our lazy library shy brother is spending the day in the library? A place he wouldn’t spend time unless his arm was twisted.”

“Yes.”

“Will you enlighten us?” asked George.

“I told him I got the idea for how to prank your hair from a book that I found in the library called Jokes and Giggles to Impress Your Friends and Horrify Enemies by Ima Prank. When he asked to borrow the book, I told him it disappeared as soon as I finished reading it, and it was probably hiding in the library some place.”

Dawning arrived upon the twins faces.

“I then put that title on the cover and spine of a blank book and hid it in the history section of the library.” Harry grinned as the twins started laughing.

“We’ve got to be careful with this one, Forge.”

“Right you are, Gred. He’s going to give us a run for our money.”

“Any bets as to if he’ll find it?” asked Fred.

Harry replied, “I suspect he’ll give up after a day or two, if he lasts that long, before he finds it.”

“Aww, that was the one I was going to take,” replied George.

Fred said, “Two knuts says he asks Madam Pince and is told the book doesn’t exist.”

“Two knuts says he doesn’t ask anyone and gives up in three days or less,” bet Harry.

George put in, “Two knuts says he asks a student to help him find it (not one of us, of course), and still doesn’t find the book.”

“If none of those scenarios play out, we all keep our knuts,” finished Fred.

“Deal,” said all three.

That evening, Harry went to Professor McGonagall to make a request. He knocked on her office door.

“Come in,” she replied curtly in her Scottish accent.

Harry entered the room and the professor looked up from her papers. “What can I do for you, Mr. Potter?”

“I was wondering if there was an empty classroom that I could use in the early mornings to teach my fellow classmates some physical and mental exercises.”

“What exercises specifically, and what times were you thinking?”

“I was thinking five in the morning until six-thirty or seven. The exercises would be fencing and meditation.”

“Why fencing and meditation?”

“I’ve learned that exercise, specifically a martial art of some kind with repetitive forms that require concentration, helps one to identify and feel their flow of magic. Meditation afterwards helps to further identify and feel the flow of magic within oneself, as well as help calming emotions that can lead to accidental magic.”

“And why fencing in particular, rather than another art?”

“Well, first, it is the only one I know right now. Second, it is possibly the only martial art that I think would be acceptable to most wizards and witches, as it can be used for dueling, even if dueling is traditionally done with magic among wizards.”

“And will the students be using actual swords as you and Miss Addams do?”

“Um…,” Harry was unaware that the Professor knew about that. “No. I was thinking wooden practice swords if any exist in the school, or dulled ones that can’t cut. My initial thought was to use broom handles.”

“I see. I shall confer with the headmaster, and if he agrees, I will see what arrangements can be made. Most likely we will have to consult with Madam Pomfrey as well, as it sounds like injuries could be likely.”

“I understand. Thank you, Professor.”

“Have a good evening, Mr. Potter.”

Harry left feeling better now that he was able to invite his friends from other houses to join him.

That night was a new moon, and Harry was torn between doing the ritual of mourning that night, or waiting until next Halloween. Ultimately he decided on both. So he took a small candle, and his cloak, and left the common room at half past eleven. He went to a nearby classroom and closed the door. He placed the candle on a desk and waited for midnight. At that time he lit the candle and sitting in the lotus position, started talking to his parents.

“Mum, Dad, I miss you. I wish you hadn’t died and could have raised me. I used to wonder why you didn’t appoint a god-father or god-mother to take me in after you died. I suspect my god-mother is dead, and I’ve been told my god-father is in prison and couldn’t take me in. It would have been so much better if you had lived. There are things I don’t know about my family because Aunt Petunia doesn’t know anything about your family, Dad, and really won’t discuss her family, especially you, Mum.

“Though… that might be changing since my treatments this summer. She sent me a picture of her and Mum from before Mum’s Hogwarts’ days. I really don’t know what to do with this change of behavior. I wish I had someone to ask that knew Aunt Petunia and knew about magic. At least Uncle Vernon is staying true to his course.

“I really want to know about the Evans and Potter parts of my family. Since I have learned I have magical relatives in America that has helped me feel more at home in the wizarding world. I really appreciate that they accept me for me just because I’m related to them. They seem to have no expectations about me based on my fame for surviving your deaths, nor any expectations at all, other than for me to be me.

“Thank you for saving me as a child. I just wish you hadn’t had to die to protect me. I love you, and wish I had gotten to know you beyond a few fragmented memories I’ve been starting to recover.”

Harry remained in silent contemplation until the candle burned out a half-hour later. He then scraped the wax off the desk and binned it, then returned to Gryffindor Tower.

The next morning after breakfast, Harry noted that Ron was off to the library. He decided to follow and look some more at the magic surrounding the library. Ron asked him where he found the book originally, and Harry replied that he found it in the arithmancy section. Just naming the section nearly made Ron’s eyes glaze over. Ron headed off to the arithmancy section, while Harry wandered over to the restricted section.

He was alternately looking into the restricted section and the unrestricted sections trying to grasp that elusive concept that would answer his question about linking a book to the library. Madam Pince found him there, and asked, “What are you doing, Mr. Potter?”

“I am admiring the stone and wood work of the library. Did you know you can tell what sections were expanded by someone who had a sense of aesthetics, and those expanded by someone who only cared about functionality? And by the style, which sections were expanded when?”

She pointed a feather duster at him, and said, “Be that as it may, do it in some other part of the library.” So Harry obeyed and did his investigation of the restricted section from farther away.

After lunch, Harry returned to the library with Millicent. Once again, he loaned her the occlumency book. Ron turned up sometime later to begin scouring the library again. Harry went back to reading advanced books on linking charms and examining the books themselves. About an hour before dinner, Hermione showed up in the library, and gave Harry a big hug. She said quietly, “Thanks for the books. I love them.”

Harry hugged her back. “Thanks for the frogs. I’m looking forward to seeing which cards I get and how far I can make the frogs leap. And the books is only half your present. We’ll need some time to complete the other half.”

Ron interrupted them. “Hey, Hermione. Do you think you could help me find a book?”

She looked surprised that Ron was in the library looking for a book. “What book?”

“A book called something like Jokes and Giggles for Friends and Enemies.”

“Who’s the author?”

“Um…. Ima Prank.”

Hermione goggled at Ron. “That can’t be a real book.”

“It is! Harry’s seen it.”

Hermione turned to Harry with a suspicious glare. “It’s true. I have seen a book in the library titled Jokes and Giggles to Impress Your Friends and Horrify Enemies by Ima Prank.”

“Right.” Hermione said, and immediately went to Madam Pince. Ten minutes later, after leaving the humor section of the library, Hermione returned with a book and handed to Ron.

“Thanks Hermione!” Ron rushed over to Madam Pince to check out the book, the hurried out of the library.

“Did you know that book was blank?” Hermione asked Harry.

“Yes. I’m surprised Madam Pince found it so quickly, though.”

“She said she found it misfiled yesterday and filed it correctly.”

“Ahh.”

“There’s something you aren’t telling me,” accused Hermione.

“Yes. Be patient, you’ll understand later.”

The welcoming feast went well, and Harry greeted all his friends that had returned from going home for the holidays. Wednesday thought his gift was very appropriate, and told him the rest of the family really appreciated their gifts as well. The rest of his friends also thanked him for his gifts and he thanked them for theirs.

About an hour after the feast, Ron threw the book on the table in front of him. “Absolute rubbish.”

“What is, Ron?” queried Harry, getting the attention of the neon haired Fred and George.

“That book. Not a word in it. Is that the same book you read?”

Harry picked it up, and flipped through it. “Yes. But what do you mean there isn’t a word in it? This book is full of words.”

“No it isn’t. It’s blank.”

“I disagree.” Harry flipped to the first page, “Dedicated to my friends, the masters of anarchy.”

Harry turned a page, “Foreword. Beware when using the pranks within this book and consider the target carefully and the venue with which the prank takes place. You do not want to cause undue embarrassment to the target, or do something that humiliates them publically if they are a public official. The repercussions from such an act should you be found to be the perpetrator could be disastrous. You merely need to look at my cousin, Bellow Thibault for an example of taking it too far.”

George grabbed the book and started flipping pages. Somewhere in the middle of the book he stopped with Fred looking over his shoulder.

“Aha!” started George.

“So that’s how—“

“This scurrilous dog—“indicating Harry.

“Assaulted our persons—“

“And disordered our luscious locks.”

In unison they said, “You will pay for this, Potter.” They then tossed the book back to Ron.

Ron opened the book again, flipped pages and turned it every which way, and said, “You three are barmy. The book is blank.”

Hermione grabbed the book and looked at it. “I only see a blank book.”

Lee Jordon joined the fun and picked the book out of Hermione’s hands, examined it for a bit and said, “Ooh, that’s a good one. ‘How to Color a Face to Match Emotions.’ Look out Fred and George, I’m going to use that one on you!” He then handed the book back to Hermione. She stared daggers at Harry.

Ron grabbed the book again. After looking at it a bit, he said, “Right, pull the other one. It has bells on.”

“Perhaps, dear brother,” said Fred, “the reader must have a superior sense of humor and a predilection for pranks to be able to read the book. However did you find such a gem?”

“Harry told me the title. Hermione found it for me by asking Madam Pince. I spent two days looking, and she found it in ten minutes,” Ron said huffily, grabbed the book and departed upstairs. “I’m returning this to the library first thing in the morning.”

Harry pulled out two knuts, looked at Fred and George then inclined his head to Hermione. They nodded and the three of them gave two knuts each to Hermione.

“What’s this for?”

“We lost our bet,” said George.

“But I didn’t bet.”

“We know. We just felt that you deserved the win for outsmarting us,” said Fred.

“So you were pranking Ron?”

“Yes,” responded Harry. “I created the book and put it in the library. I didn’t expect Madam Pince to find it and move it somewhere else.”

“Why would you do that to your friend and brother?”

“Why wouldn’t we?” said Fred. “We got him to spend two days in the library, a place he tries to avoid nearly as much as homework.”

“Were you in on this too, Jordan?” asked Hermione.

“Nope. I just thought it fun to play along with the twins,” said Jordan with a wide smile.

“It served another greater purpose as well, Hermione.” She looked back at Harry expectantly. “It kept him from insulting my non-Gryffindor friends and from asking me to play chess with him every five minutes when I wasn’t playing chess with him.” Hermione snorted. “And he did actually look in the Arithmancy section.”

“He did? How do you know?” asked Lee Jordan.

“Because he asked me where I first saw the book and I said that section. I figured that would be the last place he’d look. Too bad Madam Pince moved it. I hid it in the second to last section I thought he’d look.”

“What section was that?” asked Hermione.

“History.”

Chapter Text

Fencing Club


Monday evening Harry met with Professor Snape for his extra potions class, and handed in his extra potions essay.

“Today, Potter, you are going to be brewing a Swelling Solution while I attempt to invade your mind at different points during the process.”

“Yes Professor.” Harry knew it was a first year potion that he had already made earlier in the year, so this was more a test of his ability to brew under duress while defending his mind. This would force him to try and keep two distinct trains of thought going at the same time. And he suspected it would be rather taxing on his mental endurance.

Harry was right, it was taxing. At some points he failed to keep Snape out of his memories, but he was able fight back and minimize the intrusion. He also, barely, succeeded in completing his potion. It would probably rate a dreadful, or poor grade at best, but he did complete it without any accidents. And he had a massive headache.

“Unacceptable, Potter. We will be doing this every Monday with different potions until you can brew a potion to the standards I expect from you.”

“Yes, Professor,” said Harry, wearily. After being dismissed, he headed to Madam Pomfrey for a headache reliever. He suspected he might need them every Monday night for a while. He sometimes wondered how the man ever got a teaching position, as he really didn’t appear to teach, so much as run classes like a dictator. On the other hand, the students raised in the wizarding world seemed to fair much better in class. Perhaps there were some basics taught to them before school that the Professor expected everyone to know. And Harry had a leg up on that compared to other mundane raised (and many of the wizard raised) because of the books provided by Gomez and Morticia.

The second day after the start of term Professor McGonagall pulled Harry aside after lunch. “Come with me, Mr. Potter.”

She led him to the door of an unused classroom that Peeves was currently trying to stuff the lock full of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans that had been chewed into a paste.

“Peeves. Leave now, or I’ll report you to the headmaster.”

Peeves turned himself upside down, then proceeded to laugh and propel himself down the hallway by means of flatulence, where each emission of gas had a completely different smell, much like the beans he had been using each had a different flavor.

“Scourgify,” McGonagall pointed her wand at the lock. “Ventus,” she said as she pointed her wand down the hall after Peeves. She then opened the door and led Harry into the room. “Depulso,” she waved her wand around the room and all the furniture stacked itself against the back wall.

“Will this room suffice for your morning exercises?” she asked Harry.

“I think it will do nicely. Thank you.” It was a closer to Gryffindor than the other houses, so he’d have to take that into account for letting people get back to their dorms in time to change and get ready for breakfast.

“This is to officially be a fencing club. As such, it will be open to any student from any house and have a staff member as an advisor. Your staff advisor, Professor Sinistra will be arriving shortly.”

“I was already planning to invite other students, since the room would be accessible to them.”

“Very good, Mr. Potter.”

The door opened into the room entered Professor Sinistra, a tall witch (even taller than McGonagall) with dark hair, eyes, and skin, with prominent cheekbones and a sharp nose. Her robes and hat were olive colored and her hat was decorated with astrological signs.

In a melodic voice she said, “Good afternoon, Minerva.”

“Good afternoon to you too, Aurora. I know you’re not usually up at this hour, so I do appreciate your joining us.”

“Mr. Potter, due to my astronomy classes being held at night, I often wake before dinner, and then go to bed after breakfast. This makes me best suited for overseeing your morning activities. Practice swords will be provided by the headmaster on Friday morning. How many days a week do you intend to hold your meetings?”

“Optimally, every day. I suspect that won’t work in practice, as I am sure you are not available, nor would you want to be available every day of the school year. I am also sure many of the students won’t be daily either.”

“Why daily, rather than Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example?”

“The benefits of the exercise and meditation are much greater with daily practice. That is my regimen at least. I am hoping I can talk my cousin into helping lead the classes as she is more experienced in fencing than I am.”

“I see. You are correct. I do not particularly want supervise seven days a week. I will talk this over with some of the other teachers to see if one or more of them might be able to cover the days I cannot. Until such time, would you accept Tuesday through Friday mornings for the time being?”

“That’s fine. If you would prefer fewer days, I’m okay with that too. I just wanted a room that was more spacious than our common room for people to move about, and then ensure that there was sufficient quiet for meditation afterwards.”

“Are the swords necessary for the exercises?” inquired McGonagall.

“Yes, Professor. I can make do for a week without them though, by working on stretching and some basic strengthening exercises.”

“Since the headmaster will have them available on Friday that should be good enough to get you started. The swords are to be kept in a locked trunk outside of club meetings, and this room will remain locked outside of club meetings as well,” said Sinistra.

“Yes, Professor. Will the room be available daily provided an advisor is available?”

“Yes. Any other questions or things I need to know?”

“No, Professor.”

“Then I shall meet you here tomorrow morning at five o’clock.”

“I’ll makes sure the other heads of houses are informed of the new club and times,” said McGonagall.

With that, the three of them left the classroom. Harry went to find his friends and let them know about the change of venue and the official status as a club, and to make sure his friends in other houses were invited to attend as well as to explain the benefits of the club to their magical studies.

The next morning, Harry arrived at the classroom at five minutes before five in the morning looking rested and awake, where some of his dorm mates were looking rather tired from having gotten up two hours earlier than they were accustomed (some of them weren’t morning people). He was accompanied by Hermione, Neville, Lily, Parvati, and the twins, as well as Lee Jordan, the three Gryffindor chasers and three other girls (two sixth years and a seventh year). Ron had been invited, but couldn’t be bothered to wake up that early, and neither could Lavender. Wednesday was waiting for them with Susan and Hannah, and a few other Hufflepuffs. Wednesday and Harry exchanged greetings with a kiss on the cheek.

Professor Sinistra arrived promptly to open the door and allow everyone inside. Shortly after they entered the room, Padma and Mandy arrived with a couple of Ravenclaw fourth years. After that came the surprise to Harry, as Millicent arrived with Elizabeth, Tracey and Daphne, and a sixth year Slytherin girl prefect. He really only expected Millicent.

“Morning, Harry,” said a yawning George. “Fred and I won’t be able to make it every day due to quidditch practice, but the days we can, we will.” Fred nodded his agreement.

“That’s quite alright. This isn’t for everyone, and I realize that many of you will have conflicting interests, or have a late night class that prevents you from coming the next morning. Unlike quidditch practice, attendance won’t be mandatory.

“Wednesday here will assist me with the class. She is a much more experienced fencer than I. To that end, some ground rules. If either Wednesday, Professor Sinistra, who is our advisor, or myself tell you to freeze, immediately stop what you are doing. That means everyone. Also, there will be no horsing around, as later when we are using swords that could result in grievous injury. Any misconduct will have you expelled from the club. Does everyone understand those rules?”

Harry got sleepy nods and some yawning verbal assents.

“Good. Now we are going to start off with some warm up and stretching exercises, then basic foot work. After that, we’ll do some meditation.”

The class was very rough around the edges, but it was a start. Harry had to wake a couple of people who fell asleep during meditation at the end of class. He encouraged people to try and practice the meditation at least once more that day and every day for five to ten minutes.

 

Niggles and Nags


Something was rattling around the back of Harry’s mind, but he couldn’t place it immediately. It wasn’t related to his work on linking to the library, it was something else. To keep himself occupied until that thought made it to the forefront of his mind, he helped Hermione create her own library. He then showed her how to make a linking book like his. They created the linking book in an unused classroom at odd times and only for an hour at a time to keep others from learning what they were doing. However, it seemed the Weasley twins somehow found out they were alone at times, and started teasing them about it, but not in front of anyone else.

After about fourteen hours of cumulative effort, the book was finished, and Hermione could make her own linking books in the future. She was very happy with the gift and hugged him tightly. Harry heard a milestone chime occur. Upon investigation, Hermione had reached a threshold in the relationship matrix.

“So, Hermione, I’m sorry I lied about all my books being transfigured to look the same. I was using my own personal Portable Athenaeum. It was just easier than carrying around multiple books, and with the anti-theft charms, I really didn’t have to worry about losing it, either. I just didn’t want everyone bugging me for one. If I figure out how to make it look like the book you are reading, I’ll let you know and we can add that feature to the book.”

“I understand, Harry. Thank you so much! I will still have to carry around the library books I borrow, but this will allow me to carry one or two more of those.”

“I’ve got something else to tell you, but I really want to tell Wednesday at the same time so she doesn’t feel slighted. I sort of want to tell some other friends, but it doesn’t quite feel like the right time to do it.”

“Is it something else you lied about?”

“No, just one of the things I told you I wasn’t comfortable discussing at the time you asked.”

“Oh, okay. Just let me know when.”

“There is one more feature of the linking book you might want to be aware of…”

“What is that?”

“If you link blank books into your library, when you call them up to your linking book you can write in them. It won’t damage the linking book. Useful thing if you like to keep a journal.”

“That is useful! Now I understand why you got me more than one blank book.”

“Yeah, that and to have extras in case we didn’t get your linking book correct the first time. Mine’s a little singed if you hadn’t noticed.” Harry smiled at her.

She gave him another hug and stowed her linking book into her book bag and strode off to find a quiet corner in the library to experiment with it.

A couple of days later, Harry was in the library studying with others, when he saw Hagrid enter the library looking a bit shifty. After a bit Hagrid left, looking even more shifty, and Harry wondered why he was in the dragon section of the library. He exchanged a look with Hermione and shrugged.

Later on the way back to the tower, Hermione asked, “What do you think Hagrid was doing in the library?”

“Besides looking around furtively?”

She glared at him.

“All I know is that he appeared to have gotten a book from the dragon portion of the magical creature section of the library. I vaguely recall him saying that he wished he had a dragon. You know Hagrid, the more dangerous the creature, the more interesting it is.”

“Right, but it’s suspicious because of how he was acting.”

“I agree, so we’ll have to ask him about it next time we visit.”

The next day that nagging feeling finally came to the forefront of his mind. He was wondering why his vial was vibrating at odd times. So he decided to ask someone, mainly the only expert he knew.

            Dear Morticia,

            I am glad to hear everyone liked their gifts. I especially liked mine, thank you.

            I have been having some interesting issues with the vial you gave me. It vibrates at times. If it vibrated consistently around certain people or objects, I would think it was another fragment. But there is no real consistency to it. At times it vibrates around a certain person, but not every time I am around that person. At other times it seems to vibrate without rhyme or reason. Twice it has vibrated when I was alone in my dorm room.

            Can you help me unravel this riddle?

            Love,

            Harry

After addressing it for overseas delivery, Harry took the letter to the owlery to give to Hedwig.

There was something else odd Harry noted recently. Professor Snape seemed to be closely watching either Harry, or Professor Quirrell. It was something Harry would have to keep tabs on in the future.

One day after herbology class, Harry, Wednesday, Hermione and Millicent went to visit Hagrid. When they knocked at the door, Fang barked happily, but Hagrid said through the door, “Who is it?” Which was unusual, as he would normally just open the door.

“It’s Wednesday, Hermione, Millicent, and me, Hagrid.”

“Jus’ a minute.” Some noise was heard behind the door before it opened. “Come in. It will be a bit before tea is ready.”

Hagrid blocked the fire with his body, setting a kettle in the fire to boil and sat down facing the others.

Hermione commented, “Why is it so hot in here Hagrid?”

“Is it hot? I hadn’t noticed,” he said while wiping his brow.

As Hagrid was obviously being evasive, Harry changed the topic. “How’s Fluffy doing?”

“I think he’s gettin’ a bit bored with bein’ cooped up, but otherwise he’s doin’ alright.”

“What is Fluffy?” asked Wednesday.

“Er, he’s my dog. My other dog,” clarified Hagrid when Wednesday looked at Fang. “How’s classes?”

“Well, Binns has got to be the most boring teacher in the history of teaching,” complained Millicent.

Hermione said, “I really like all my classes, though it would be better if Professor Snape was a bit fairer when handing out demerits.”

Wednesday added, “Professor Quirrell is charming, but possessed.”

“Balderdash. What makes you think he’s possessed?”

“He looks just like my cousin Germaine. She’s been possessed by the ghost of Colonel Beauregard Lee for years.”

“And no one has freed her?” asked Hermione.

“Why? She says it’s quite entertaining to randomly float and speak in a masculine voice with a southern accent.”

“Isn’t possession bad for the health of the host?” countered Hermione

“Not for an Addams.”

Hagrid stood to get the water out of the fireplace for tea, revealing that something else was in the fire.

“What’s that, Hagrid?” asked Harry, looking at the black ovoid object in the fire.

“Nuthin’,” replied Hagrid.

Millicent asked, “Is that… is that a dragon egg?”

“What!?” Hermione exclaimed.

“Where did you get it, Hagrid?” asked Harry

Hagrid sheepishly poured the tea. “I won it from a stranger down in the Hog’s Head the other night.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. This one’s a Norwegian Ridgeback egg.” Hagrid said happily.

Wednesday’s eyes were gleaming with delight at the news there was a dragon.

“You know it’s illegal to breed dragons, Hagrid?” said Millicent.

“Well, I’m not breedin’ ‘em, I’m jus’ raisin’ the one. I even got a book from the library ter tell me how ter hatch it.” He held up a book titled Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit.

“It’s not just breeding that is illegal, Hagrid. It’s owning a dragon as well,” continued Millicent.

“They’re just misunderstood. If folks had a proper understanding of magic creatures, they wouldn’t be afraid of them.”

“What are you going to do with the dragon, Hagrid?” asked Wednesday, eyes still gleaming.

“Well, raise it of course.”

“After that,” insisted Wednesday. “Are you going to dismember it for ingredients? Chain it to the front gates as a guard? Set it loose during a quidditch match to make the game more interesting? If I had a dragon, I’d feed my brother to it.”

“Wha… No… Are yeh mad?” responded Hagrid.

“The jury is out on that,” answered Harry. “The question is, are you mad, Hagrid? You want to raise a fire breathing dragon, in a small one room hut. Made of wood.”

“So?”

Millicent, Hermione and Harry shared a look. Wednesday went back to suggesting even more gruesome things to be done with the dragon once it reached adulthood.

After some more dragon talk, a couple of rock cakes each, and some tea, the four left Hagrid to head back to the castle. Wednesday was skipping ahead. She never skipped. That worried Harry.

Hermione said to Harry and Millicent, “Hagrid is a gentle soul, but he has no idea of scope. I think his large size prevents him from seeing how dangerous it is.”

“I think he’s blinded by having his dreams come true,” said Harry.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Millicent, Hagrid told me when he took me to Diagon Alley that he always wanted a dragon. Now he has one.”

Hermione frowned. “That seems… suspicious.”

“Yes, it does,” agreed Harry.

 

The Big Bang


Looking through his quests, Harry decided on a quest to ‘surprise someone’. He’d only have an hour to complete the quest if it were accepted. The I.P.s were a good reward and it opened up some rewards he thought might be useful in the future. He figured he might be able to surprise the entire school at once using the dynamite he was given, so he read the manual given to him by Uncle Fester. The notes indicated how to create a small explosion, and if it were buried, a small divot.

He donned his invisibility cloak, and snuck out of the castle and down to the quidditch pitch. In the center of the pitch, he cut away some of the sod, then used an auger charm he found in the library to drill a hole about fifteen feet deep. He set the timer (and old mechanical alarm clock) to detonate a half hour after the start of the Gryffindor-Slytherin match. Using a levitation charm to gently place the explosives in the bottom of the hole, he then filled the hole with the leftover dirt and then put the sod back into place. Harry then crept back into the castle and went to bed.

Later that day, he was once again sandwiched between Hermione and Wednesday in the quidditch stands, and surrounded by his other friends. Madam Hooch started the game and the players were off and flying. Harry started his quest, which would give him the hour to surprise someone (hopefully the whole school). He then waited nervously.

The game was just getting heated up when the explosion occurred. The blast was big enough that clods of earth rained down on the spectators in their elevated seating. The blast was so big it even took Harry by surprise, and he was expecting it. A fifteen foot crater was left in the center of the pitch. Harry didn’t hear any chimes indicating the quest success for the surprise, and wondered why.

Madam Hooch called for the game to halt while she assessed the players. As there were no injuries beyond some scratches and the players being shaken up, she called for play to resume. Apparently bombs going off during the game is not enough reason to cancel a quidditch match. It was just serendipity that two of the Slytherin chasers and their seeker were closest to the blast and most affected by it. That was enough to tip the scales in Gryffindor’s favor and allowed their ‘rubbish’ seeker to actually catch the snitch (on his fourteenth try). Slytherin’s seeker kept missing the snitch as his balance was still wobbly from being so close to the bomb’s epicenter.

During the evening, the blast was all most of the students were talking about, though the Gryffindor’s were in high spirits for having won. Wednesday caught Harry’s eye from the Hufflepuff table and glared at him. Proudly. Harry wondered how she glared at him with pride as he hadn’t thought that possible.

The Weasley twins were excited, and wondering who set off the Bombarda Maxima during the game as they thought it was brilliant. Percy and Ron were aghast about the explosion. Percy couldn’t imagine someone had broken the school rules in that magnitude, and Ron couldn’t believe someone had defiled the sanctity of the quidditch pitch. Hermione and Neville were still in shock about it, and Harry was having some mixed feelings over the event.

Uncle Fester’s notes had indicated a small explosion and a small divot. If that was a small explosion and the crater was a small divot, Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to know what a large one constituted.

After everyone went to bed, Harry opened his game book and asked Stheno to summon Justitia so he could argue against the quest failure. Justitia and Steno appeared on opposite pages of his open book. Due to the charms in place by the book, he wasn’t worried about being overheard.

‘Justitia hears the plea of the plaintiff. What matter is brought before the Avatar of Justice by Harry James Potter, player number one thousand?’

‘I have a challenge to the decision of ‘failure’ for the last quest I undertook.’

‘Plaintiff is entering a challenge to a rules decision by the game. Plaintiff asserts the ruling of ‘failure’ is incorrect. Decision of the game is that the player did not surprise anyone during the hour time frame for the quest. Plaintiff, state your contention.’

‘Justitia, last night I set up an explosion to occur today a half hour after the quidditch game started. I activated the quest when the game started, and the explosion that surprised most, if not all of the student body occurred half way through the time limit for the quest. Nothing I read in the quest said that I had to set up the surprise during the one hour time limit. Thus ends my argument.’

‘Plaintiff is asserting that quest was completed using a creative interpretation of the rules. Please wait while the records of the matter are reviewed.’ Justitia closed her eyes, and was silent. A few minutes passed by before she opened her eyes. ‘Judgement has been reached. Decision is in favor of the plaintiff. Assessing records to determine reward.’

Harry waited some more. After a while, Justitia announced, ‘Assessment completed.’ A long series of dings occurred before Justitia continued. ‘Are there any other matters to be brought forward for adjudication?’

‘Not at this time, Justitia. Thank you for your time, and have a pleasant night.’

‘Thus ends the plea for adjudication.’ Justitia announced as she faded from view. When the chimes finally stopped, Harry heard the gong indicating successful completion of the quest.

‘Well done, royal mortal,’ said Stheno. ‘I was wondering if you had planned to challenge that ruling or if you were going accept it.’

‘Thank you, Stheno. After going through that much effort to set it up, I had to challenge it.’

‘Indeed.’

The next day Wednesday caught him alone and said, “Nice job with the quidditch game.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know what dynamite sounds and smells like when it explodes. And I know you and I are the only ones with dynamite in the school. I’d say you used all the sticks that Pugsley and Uncle Fester sent you in that blast.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement in, or any knowledge of, yesterday’s events,” Harry said with more confidence than he felt.

“The family will be so very pleased. Now I have to find a way to one-up you.”

“You don’t really have to do that. Besides, the Weasley twins are trying to figure out how to do that themselves.”

“Oh no. This is a matter of family pride. As the elder relative, I must accept the challenge.”

“Just don’t kill or maim anyone.”

“No promises.”

Harry shook his head and walked off.

Chapter Text

Tables are Turned

 

The next weekend, at breakfast the morning before the Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw quidditch match, there were several simultaneous explosions, and every house table split down the center lengthwise, and lost their table legs causing the table tops to collapse inwards and all the plates and food to crash to the floor. The silence that followed was deafening.

The red-headed twins, holding spoons containing porridge, looked at each other, then down to Harry. Harry shrugged and shook his head to indicate he had no idea either. They then ate their spoonful of porridge.

The same had happened at the head table. Snape and McGonagall looked furious, while the rest of the teachers looked surprised. The headmaster looked amused while holding a forkful of sausage.

The headmaster stood up and cast a spell at his throat. “Sonorus” was quietly heard followed by the enhanced voice of Professor Dumbledore, which was necessary to cut through the shocked stupor of most of the students. “If all the students would carefully stand away from the tables, and if any of you are injured, please move to the entrance of the hall so that you can go see Madam Pomfrey.” All of the students did as requested, and none of them moved to the entrance of the hall. Harry noticed that across the table from him, Wednesday had a barely perceptible smirk, and figured she had something to do with what had happened.

When all the students had stood clear of the tables, Dumbledore silently waived his wand, and all the tables mended themselves, and all the dishes and food disappeared from the floor to be replaced on the newly repaired tables. Harry noticed that while the headmaster was responsible for fixing the tables, the magic for the dishes and food came from the floor, indicating the house elves in the kitchen were taking care of that.

“Now that everyone is wide awake, I suggest we tuck in to finish breakfast.” The headmaster pointed his wand to his throat and whispered, “Quietus,” then resumed his seat. People started to hypothesize who was responsible for the prank, and the front runners were ‘the twins’ (who denied such allegations, but then they always did), followed by ‘the bastard who defiled the quidditch pitch’, followed by Peeves, even though Peeves was banned from the great hall.

The owls arrived and Hedwig brought Harry a couple of pieces of mail. One from one of his muggle acquaintances, and another from overseas.

“Morning Harry,” chirped Hedwig.

“Morning Hedwig,” he responded to her chirping as he removed the letters. “Nice morning? Want some bacon?”

“Please. It’s always interesting down at the people post exchange. Fourteen owls from Dover had to carry one package in for overseas delivery.” Hedwig then dipped her beak for some water and grabbed a piece of bacon.

“Fourteen from Dover? That must have been quite the package.”

Hermione looked on with interest.

“Why do you keep pretending to talk to the owl, Harry?” asked Ron.

“Who’s pretending?” answered Harry.

“Mate, your acting like you are having a conversation with an owl.”

Harry raised his eyebrow, “So?” Hermione glared at Ron. Wednesday and Padma who joined them that morning were also watching the conversation. Wednesday looked like she was waiting for an excuse to hex Ron.

“You actually believe you’re having talking with Hedwig?”

Harry resisted rolling his eyes. “I know I’m having a conversation with Hedwig. The fact that you don’t speak owl is not my problem. You talk to your rat.”

“Yeah, but I don’t act like Scabbers answers me.”

“Because you don’t speak rat, either.”

“Mate, you’re barmy.”

“I suppose so. I keep playing chess with you despite all evidence that it’s a fruitless endeavor.”

“But you’re getting better, Harry,” interjected Neville.

“True, but I’m not anywhere near his level. Millicent though, she can hold her own against Ron.”

The others at the table gaped at the idea that Ron would play chess with a Slytherin voluntarily.

“How did that come about?” asked Padma.

“Over the holiday break. I just finished losing to Millicent three games in a row, when Ron came up to ask me to play. I had reached my losing quota for the day, so I suggested he play Millicent. Ron was reticent, but eventually agreed to play. The game resulted in a draw.”

Ron was looking a bit peeved at the memory.

“Congratulations, Ron! You found someone who can challenge you,” commented Hermione.

“But she’s an evil slimy snake. She probably cheated.”

“Ron, snakes aren’t slimy because they are reptiles, not amphibians. And assuming she cheated because she’s a Slytherin is insulting,” lectured Hermione.

Ron glared at Hermione and was about to say something when Harry interrupted. “So true. Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to speak to a snake though? I wonder what things they have to say from their ankle high viewpoint.”

Ron went from glaring at Hermione to staring at Harry like Harry had just turned into a Professor asking for homework Ron hadn’t finished. “Mate, you don’t want to be a Parselmouth. Everyone would think you were evil.”

“Why is that?” asked Harry, already knowing the answer.

“Because all the worst wizards have been parselmouths. Slytherin and You-Know-Who were parselmouths.”

“I see. Well, it wouldn’t change their perceptions then, as I’m supposedly evil for hanging out with Slytherins.” Harry turned back to his breakfast. He didn’t want to have another argument with Ron spouting the gospel according to Molly Weasley. One day that boy might learn to think for himself. The twins had let Harry in on where Ron’s prejudices came from.

Hedwig told Harry, “Don’t worry about him. He’s obviously a few talons short of a claw.” That made Harry giggle. Wednesday appeared to be suppressing a giggle herself.

“What are you giggling about, mate?”

“Nothing, Ron. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Harry waited until he was alone before reading his letters. The first was from Eddy back in Little Whinging.

            Dear Harry,

            I hope everything is alright with you. I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Betty. She’s gone and fell for a right wanker, and won’t listen to her friends about it. Reesy wisely kept her mouth shut, but is just as worried as I am. The boy has a reputation for dating girls then dumping them once he’s gotten into their knickers.

            He seems to be trying to isolate her from Reesy and me, which is rather frustrating as well, as she’s our friend. She seems to believe she can ‘reform him’. I just hope she doesn’t end up hurt.

            What do you think I should do?

            Thanks for being a sounding board.

            Sincerely,

            Eddy

Harry was unsure how to answer that, and thought he might have to bounce the question off of a couple of girls with muggle experience. He was afraid Wednesday’s vote might be rather violent, so discounted asking her. Hermione was an option, but like him she didn’t have any dating experience. Maybe one of the older girls, like Angelina Johnson.

Harry opened his second letter.

            Dearest Harry,

            With regards to your vial vibrating, you are correct to interpret how it would interact with certain objects.

            I have discerned who the individual in question is from correspondence with my darling daughter. Be very careful around that individual. I believe they are possessed by the remnant related to the vial. All indicators so far lead me to believe it is a willing possession, which makes the individual even more dangerous. The intermittent vibration is probably due to warding and spells to hide the malignancy. How wonderful for you to have such danger during your first year at school!

            As to why it might be vibrating at other times, I would hypothesize that is due to bouts strong emotions on the part of the possessing entity. Probably anger.

            There are no spells or rituals, beyond the protection you already have, to make your survival more assured. I’m not sure you’d want them either if they existed, as that would just make the entire situation banal.

            Love,

            Morticia

That information did not fill Harry with any confidence as it confirmed his worst fears. It did answer the question as to who was after the Philosopher’s Stone, and why. But what could he do about it? Harry spent several minutes rereading the letter.

He’d have to talk to the headmaster, but that would require a suitable provocation that he was caught at in order to be sent to the headmaster’s office. What could he do to get sent there, rather than just sent to Professor McGonagall?

 

Out of the Shell and into the Fire


Sunday afternoon, Harry got a letter from Hagrid, containing two words: It’s hatching! So Harry informed Wednesday, Millicent, and Hermione about the event. He had to catch Millicent alone to inform her though. The quartet arrived at Hagrid’s hut in time to see the baby dragon emerge from its black shell. Because of its wings being wet and uncoordinated, the infant dragon bore a striking resemblance to a weather mangled umbrella. Being in the fireplace quickly solved the wet appearance, but not the coordination issue.

“Isn’t he beautiful,” said Hagrid as the dragon coughed and small sparks flew from its mouth. Hagrid reached out to stroke the head of the dragon, who snapped at the man’s fingers.

Millicent asked, “Hagrid, how do you know he’s a he and not a she?”

“Eh… I guess I don’ know. When they’re older you can tell because the females are more aggressive and vicious than the males.”

“We could sex it,” suggested Wednesday.

“We could what?” responded Hermione.

“Sex it. Determine its gender through examination.”

“Do yeh know how?” a very interested Hagrid asked.

“Yes. But the dragon will need to be older. Three to four times its current size.”

“How fast do they grow, Hagrid?” asked Hermione.

“Fairly fast, as they generally mature in a span of two to three years.”

“How big will it be when it’s mature, Hagrid?”

“Oh, forty ter fifty feet in length.”

“Hagrid! That as big as your hut!” exclaimed Hermione.

“I know!” Hagrid beamed.

“I think you’re missing Hermione’s point, Hagrid,” said Harry. “There’d be no room for you or Fang. Speaking of Fang, won’t the dragon try to eat him when it gets bigger?”

“Eh… I suppose yeh’re right, that it is a bit impractical to keep a dragon in my hut.” Hagrid looked sad admitting that. Then Hagrid’s featured became pale.

“What’s wrong Hagrid?” asked Hermione.

“There was a kid at the window. Lookin’ through the gap in the curtains.”

Harry rushed to the door and looked outside to see a figure running back up the castle. There was no mistaking that person as anyone other than Pansy Parkinson.

For the next week, Pansy had a disturbing smirk.

At the end of that week, the dragon had reached three times its size and Wednesday was coaching Hagrid on how to sex the dragon.

“First, lay the dragon across the table on its back. I’ll hold its head to keep it still.”

Hagrid placed the dragon on the table as asked and Wednesday held the dragon’s head so its snout was pointed at the ceiling. The dragon was unhappy and kept snorting flames up into the air.

“Now, spread its tiny legs,” which weren’t all that tiny on a three and a half foot reptile, “and gently grab the base of the tale with the same hand between the thumb and forefinger. With the other hand, grab the tail about halfway down, and gently run your thumb up the underside of the tail. Be very gentle as you don’t want to injure the dragon. You should be able to feel something almost immediately if it’s a male. Stroke right up to the cloaca opening. This may cause the dragon to excrete waste, so be careful about getting your face too close.”

Hagrid did just that. “Really didn’ feel any changes until I got ter the end.”

“The dragon is a female then. If it had been male, you’d have exposed the hemipenes. Given the size of adult dragons, the difficulty in separating the young dragon from the mother, and that you need two people to keep a young dragon in place, you can see why it might be difficult to sex dragons by this method.”

“How do you know how to sex a dragon, Wednesday?” asked Hermione.

“Practice and it is the same method used on non-magical reptiles.”

“A girl dragon, huh? So I’ll call her Norberta.” Hagrid righted the dragon who was not happy. “Where’s mummy, Norberta? Where’s mummy?” The dragon sneezed and belched a bit of fire.

Hermione implored, “Sexing and naming the dragon aside, you need to find a way to get rid of the dragon before Parkinson can do something, Hagrid.”

“She’s vicious and her family is nearly as connected as Malfoy’s,” commented Millicent.

“I know. But I don’ know what ter do. I can’ jus’ free her. She’s too small ter care fer herself.”

Harry had an idea. “Hagrid, you know the Weasleys, right?”

“Yeh.”

“Do you know Charlie Weasley?”

“I remember him. Good lad. Really into Care of Magical Creatures.”

“I remember Fred telling me that his mother, father and sister went to Romania to visit his brother Charlie over the holidays. He works on a dragon preserve. You could ask him if they have room for Norberta.”

Hagrid brightened. “And she’d be with other dragons. That’s a right good idea. Can I borrow Hedwig?”

“Sure, Hagrid.”

Harry was happy to have that problem on its way to a solution. The other side of that coin was how to keep Parkinson thinking she had Hagrid where she wanted him, and not expediting her plans (beyond teasing Harry and friends about her knowledge).


Into the Lion’s Den


Harry finally caught up with Angelina Johnson in the common room when she wasn’t surrounded by her friends. Harry stood before her, where she was seated on a couch and asked, “Johnson, can I ask you for some advice?”

Angelina looked surprised. “That depends Potter. Can you call me Angelina? I can’t promise I’ll be able to advise you until you ask the question though.”

“Sure, Angelina. Please call me, Harry.”

“Have a seat, Harry.” She patted the seat next to her. Harry sat down, and pulled out the letter from his mundane friend, Eddy.

“I have some friends back where I grew up, who are about your age. One of them asked me for some advice, but I have no experience with dating, or with friends who are dating. I was hoping you might be able to offer some insight.” Harry handed her the letter.

After reading the letter, Angelina asked, “What’s your reaction to it?”

“Well, I want to go confront the guy and say ‘if you hurt my friend, you’ll regret it’. But that won’t help, and I suspect that Eddy said something along those lines.” Angelina nodded and motioned for him to continue. “I guess I’d advise her to stay available to help her friend recover when she eventually gets hurt. I don’t want Betty to get hurt as she’s my friend too, but now that I’ve gotten this letter I am worried because she hasn’t written me either.”

“Well, Harry, I wouldn’t be too worried about the letter writing. That tends to fall by the way side when someone falls in love, or at least until the newness of dating wears off. This guy’s reputation isn’t all that good, though. And my mom tells me that I shouldn’t look for a guy that needs to be changed, because that’s impossible. One that might need some training up is a different matter, as long as you get them before they get set in their ways. And she told me that guys will promise a girl the sun, the moon, and the stars, just to get inside their knickers, and then forget those promises once they’ve gotten what they want. I’m not saying that’s how every boy acts, just how my mom explained how to identify the ones to stay away from.”

“So, what do I tell, Eddy?”

“Well, that is ultimately up to you, but I’d suggest she apologize to her friend, and emphasize that she is there for her friend if she is ever needed. Beyond that, she’ll probably have to wing it. I don’t know this Betty or the boy she’s involved with enough to give more specific advice.”

“Thanks, Angelina. I think that’s very helpful.”

“You’re welcome. Say, did you actually prank the twin’s brother with a fake book?”

“I can neither confirm, nor deny such allegations,” responded Harry.

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’. If it helps, the first year the twins were here, they also had that anti-Slytherin mindset. They grew out of it, so there is hope for their brother. Of course, all of them are sly, cheating bastards when it comes to quidditch.” She smiled at Harry, who laughed.

“Of, course. Only when it comes to quidditch. Thanks again, Angelina.”

“Anytime, Harry.”

Harry went over to a table and wrote a response to Eddy.

            Dear Eddy,

            I don’t have any experience with dating, or having friends who date, so I asked one of the older girls here at school for their thoughts on the matter. She was of the mind that your best course of action (with her limited knowledge of the players) was to ‘apologize to your friend, and stress that you would be there if she needed anything’. I think that is good, generic advice.

            She also told me that her mother told her to ‘avoid dating boys that need to be changed, because that is impossible.’ And she added that ‘boys will promise everything to get into a girls knickers, and once there, deliver nothing,’ as a way to identify boys to avoid dating. Not every boy will act like that, but it sounds like the boy Betty is dating does based on his reputation.

            As for the isolating, I don’t know how to advise you. That seems like he is trying to control her in some fashion, or at least limit her options. Perhaps you should ask Betty if this guy needs ‘changing’ or just a bit of ‘training up’. I suspect if he just needs to have his manners polished he’s in the training up category. If he needs to stop having several pints a night, that might be in the impossible to change category.

            Your friend,

            Harry

Harry sent that letter to Eddy with a school owl as Hedwig had not returned with Charlie Weasley’s response yet.

Harry went on to research aspects of the game through his A.R.M. And after two hours he finally determined where that unaccounted for boost of I.P.s back on Halloween came from. He had ‘demonstrated great skill and bravery in defeating a monster distressing a damsel, developing a bond’. Further research brought to light that the bond was also called a life debt.

‘Stheno, what’s a life debt?’

‘A life debt is difficult to explain without explaining how it is created. You should be aware that it is even more complex than soul mates.

‘Between magicals, a life debt is a magical bond created when one saves the life of another. This is not something that can be created by subterfuge, such as arranging a situation where someone needs saving, then saving them. If someone attempts to save someone else with the expectation of creating a life debt, that weakens the bond, if it forms at all.

‘Such a bond can be created between enemies, regardless of whether or not the parties involved want it or not. It is magically binding. And the indebted can make the repayment without knowing, or even do so unwillingly. Once paid, the bond changes.

‘Fairy tales and legends exist where the hero saves the princess, and is later rewarded by the king. These tales are echoes of the wizarding life debts. The king is trying to either keep his daughter from wedding the hero, so rewards him with gold and land, or cannot pay the debt (or maybe not find an otherwise suitable match for the princess) and offers the girl’s hand in marriage.

‘In some lands where a bypasser saves someone they don’t know, the person saved dedicates themselves to being the rescuer’s servant hoping to pay the debt off through work, or to be near enough to save the other person’s life should the opportunity arise.

‘A life debt itself is a bond, one that can transcend death. In ancient times, people did not want to go to the afterlife with such a bond in existence, as they did not want to burden their successors with such a debt. Usually if the debt is not paid and the indebted dies, the eldest child takes on the onus of the debt. If the owner of the debt dies before it the debt is settled, the indebted then owes the eldest child of the deceased.

‘As the debt is a magical bond, eventually it will be repaid, even if magic has to force the indebted to pay it. The real problems occur if the last of the family that is owed the debt dies. Which is why when the debt is acknowledged, families go to great lengths to pay the debt. If there is no one for the indebted to balance the debt with, a magical backlash usually occurs. The severity of the backlash is proportional to the debt owed.

‘Additionally, the pair cannot kill or even maim each other while the debt exists, so it can be quite frustrating for mortal enemies.

‘What many people do not understand is that the bond still exists after the debt is even. While the prohibitions against harming each other go away, the bond itself remains with the pair that balanced the debt. The pair are connected in a way that is similar to an acknowledged soul bond, without the benefits.’

‘Well, bugger,’ Harry said apathetically.

‘Is there a problem, royal mortal?’

‘Apparently I have earned a life debt from Hermione when I saved her from the troll. And now I need to worry about balancing it out. That bunch of I.P.s we couldn’t account for back at Halloween was because of the life debt. The question is, does that count as ‘compensation’ for the life debt?’

‘No. That is a milestone within the game. While it may be a reward for you, it didn’t come from Hermione or her family, so the debt still remains.’

‘Bugger, again. I guess I have to find a way to break it to her.’

‘You might start by researching life debts in your library, then you can point her to the books.’

‘That’s a good suggestion. Are there any spells to help determine the current balance and what would constitute fair payment?’

‘Yes. However, they are in the soul and blood categories of magic.’

‘Yet something else to ask Morticia about. Thank you, Stheno.’

 

Valentine’s Surprise


Harry took a quest that appeared holiday related. The mid-February holiday was in a couple of days and with a brief discussion with Stheno, Harry learned that there was an equivalent Greek holiday named the Festival of Eros. She also explained that later traditions placed him as the son of Aphrodite, because she had a son named Eros (and named Cupid by the Romans), but the elder Eros was one of the primordial gods birthed from Chaos. It was an attempt, somewhat successful, to wrest power from the elder Eros, by the Olympians. In turn, the Christians attempted a similar trick by naming the holiday after Saint Valentine.

So, the quest he took was Celebrate Eros. He arranged for his friends (and then some) to receive cards and chocolates by owl on the fourteenth, and in the cards was written “May the spirit of Eros fill you with joy,” with no mention of Valentine.

Harry felt upstaged on that very day, because during breakfast before the owl’s arrived, the Weasley twins struck. With a loud bang, then a fanfare of trumpets announcing a proclamation, fiery words started filling the air in front of the entrance to the great hall.

            To the ladies of Hogwarts,
            All of whom are most divine,
            We salute you with some poetry,
            While on this morn you dine.

            From the youngest to the oldest,
            Be you ghost or living fine,
            We bring you wishes of joy,
            On this day of Valentine.

            With sincere delight and appreciation,
            We beseech you with word and rhyme,
            To take under serious consideration,
            Our plea to you at this moment in the time.

            May you receive many fond notes,
            From whom you might make thine,
            But from us, your morning poets,
            We humbly request, won’t you be mine?

Initially silence reigned. Then the tittering started, and some applause and laughter as well. It was an event to be talked about throughout the day, with speculations on who performed the display. The owls filtered in with the mail and Valentine’s cards and the morning returned to moderate normalcy.

In order to complete the quest, Harry had to kiss the recipients of his cards. On the lips. With Wednesday it was easy, as they had been exchanging kisses on the cheek most of the year. For the others, (Susan, Hannah, Padma, Parvati, Lavender, Lily, Millicent, Daphne, Tracy, Elizabeth, Hermione, and Mandy) it was somewhat awkward, and Harry tried very hard to provide those kisses to the others out of the public eye. He was mostly successful, but the ones with Hermione, Padma and Susan started some rumors.

Just before lunchtime, Pansy Parkinson walked into the great hall when people started snickering. She looked confused, as she hadn’t seemed to notice that her usually dirty blonde pigtails were in a Gryffindor red and gold beehive. She sat down at the table and started to eat. Wednesday walked in with Susan and Hannah, and it looked like Hannah might have been crying. Just after those three sat down, Pansy shrieked, holding her hair in her hands, and fled the great hall to gales of laughter from the other tables and a few snickers from the Slytherin table.

Harry saw that Wednesday had a self-satisfied look of disinterest in the commotion around her.

It took three days for Pansy’s hair to return to normal, which meant her hair was still Gryffindor colored for the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw quidditch match. She spent those days wearing a witch’s hat.

 

Midnight Escapade


Hedwig finally arrived with Charlie’s response, and according the Hagrid, they had to wait for the new moon, when it would be darkest. They would need to take the crate to the highest tower in Hogwarts so Charlie’s friends could make the extraction unobserved. Fortunately, the highest tower was in the astronomy tower’s blind spot. That spot in the night’s sky that didn’t hold any interesting constellations or planetary bodies. As long as the brooms approached from that direction, no one would be the wiser.

In the meantime, Harry was waiting for the other shoe to drop with Pansy. She did not appear to have done anything with the information regarding Hagrid having a dragon. Other than lording it over Harry and his friends that she knew ‘their secret’. Harry suspected she had told someone, and was just waiting for the things she set in motion to come to a head.

Harry was also using his library time to look up life debts. There was scant more information in there than what Stheno had told him. He suspected the information he wanted would probably be in the restricted section.

Harry, Hermione, Millicent and Wednesday decided that Harry and Wednesday would transport the dragon to the tower, while Millicent kept an eye on Pansy, and Hermione worked out the shortest route to the tallest tower. Harry was able to assist Hermione when he stumbled across a secret passage that led from the main hall to the fifth floor. Wednesday assisted her as well by pointing out another couple of secret passages that she had seen upper year students use. Though if that many students used it, the prefects and teachers might patrol it at night as well.

Hermione walked Harry through the shortest path one day, and Harry made sure his mapping function in his A.R.M. was able to mark the route.

As they were walking back to the Gryffindor common room, Harry said, “Hermione, I think there is a book you need to read in the library titled Magical Bonds for Magical People by Titus Bounder.”

“That sounds interesting. Why do you think I need to read it?”

“I think we may have created a magical bond and I want your opinion on whether we did or not. And if we did, what we should do about it.”

“What kind of bond do you think we created?”

“I’d rather you discover that for yourself in order to see if you come to the same conclusion I did.”

“Okay. I’ll look it up later today.”

“Thanks, Hermione.”

The night of the new moon, Harry met Wednesday by the kitchens. They snuck out of the castle unnoticed and made their way down to Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid had Norberta already crated with a bucket of brandy, a pile of dead rats, and a teddy bear. As Hagrid was crying his good-byes to Norberta, Harry was sure he heard the teddy bears violent demise. When Hagrid asked how they were going to get to the highest tower unseen, Harry revealed his invisibility cloak. Wednesday seemed to think that was cheating. An Addams always appreciates cheating, even when they didn’t indulge in it themselves.

They made their way to the tower without incident, aside from Peeves blocking the way for several minutes as he stuffed a keyhole full of wet paper. Charlie’s friends seemed an okay lot, arriving on time, and quickly stringing up a support system for Norberta’s crate between their four broomsticks. Harry and Wednesday watched Norberta fly off away from the castle and over the Forbidden Forest, though by the time the brooms reached the forest, there wasn’t much they could see.

After dropping Wednesday off at her common room, Harry spied Professor McGonagall making her rounds of the castle. He thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get sent to the Headmaster’s office, but he really needed to do something that would warrant that level of intervention. After a few minutes, Harry had an idea, and he hoped it would work.

He made his way to a point ahead of her on her patrol, and removed his cloak stuffing it in his pocket. He then took out his wand and started charming the walls with a limerick relating the Headmaster to an old goat, and had moved down the hall to start a second one describing Peeves as a portable toilet. He had finished the third bawdy one that was based on one of Sappho’s odes when McGonagall caught up with him. He was asking the wall whether or not he should pour.

“Mr. Potter! What in Merlin’s name do you think you are doing?”

“I’m pouring tea for the Queen of England, Lady McGee. Would you care for a cuppa?”

McGonagall was momentarily at a loss of words when she heard that response. She recovered well. “It looks to me like you are defacing the castle.”

“Am I? I am pretty sure I’m pouring tea. I’m a little teapot, short and stout—“

“That’s quite enough Mr. Potter.”

“As you say, milady. Would you care for this dance?” Harry started to clumsily dance with an invisible partner. “I’m sorry for stepping on your toes. It’s my first dance.”

McGonagall looked at Harry as he started to recite Sappho’s Ode to Woman in Greek while dancing. She sighed. “Finite Incantatem.”

When that didn’t work, she said, “Come along, Mr. Potter. It seems I need to get you to Madam Pomfrey. After that, we’ll discuss your detention.” She grabbed him by an arm and led him away as he continued to recite the poem. She dispelled his third limerick from the wall, and led him off to the infirmary.

Harry continued to act in a confused and imbecilic manner while Madam Pomfrey examined Harry and tried to dispel a confundus charm. After an hour, she finally just silenced him and hexed him to the bed. She then went and called for the headmaster.

Dumbledore arrived and Madam Pomfrey explained that Harry was acting as if he was hit with a powerful confundus, but her scans were negative for any sort of spell work. She also couldn’t find any potions in his system, nor could she find any other symptoms of any disease that might make him behave this way. She was thinking she might have to ship him off to St. Mungo’s.

“Poppy, do you mind if I see if I can find any spell work that might be affecting him? Perhaps the spell has been concealed from the standard detections spells?”

“Very well, Albus. I hope you’re right, because I would hate to see him at St. Mungo’s after the effort we went through this summer to keep him out of St. Mungo’s.”

“Indeed.”

Dumbledore removed the silencing spell and the hex binding him to the bed. Harry leapt out of the bed and knelt before Dumbledore. He winked at the headmaster and said, “It is a great honor, your Majesty to be knighted Sir Lemon Drop. I await your commands.”

Dumbledore cast some silent detection spells. Then he pretended to cast a spell with the incantation “Finite Incantatem Populus Vox” and winked at Harry.

Harry stood up and looked confused. “Headmaster, Madam Pomfrey, what am I doing in the infirmary?”

“Well, Harry,” said Dumbledore, “You appear to have been the victim of a prank. If Madam Pomfrey doesn’t mind, I think I’ll take you to my office so we can attempt to discover who pranked you. Then I will be returning you to the infirmary so Madam Pomfrey can be sure there aren’t any after effects.”

“If you insist, Albus. But make sure to bring him back here straight away.”

“Of course, Poppy.”

Once they were in the headmaster’s office, Harry said, “I really appreciate your freeing me from that prank.”

Dumbledore was spelling up wards and protections as he responded, “Yes, well it wouldn’t do to have a student go to St. Mungo’s unnecessarily. Do you know who pranked you?”

“I am not sure. My last clear memory was sitting in the great hall for dinner.”

“Perhaps you would share that memory with me? Together we might be able to see who the culprit was.”

“Of course, Professor. How do I do that?”

“Concentrate on the memory, and I will touch my wand to your temple and draw it out. Make sure to concentrate on the start and the finish of the memory as well. Let me know when you are ready.”

Harry concentrated on the memory he wanted to share while Dumbledore got the pensieve ready.

“Okay, I’ve got it,” said Harry.

Dumbledore drew the memory from Harry’s mind and dropped it into the pensieve, then took a seat next to Harry.

“Are you ready to view it Harry?”

“Yes, Professor.”

The both touched the silvery liquid in the rune carved stone bowl. After being drawn into the memory, they orientated themselves to see memory Harry opening a letter while he was alone. They read the letter over his shoulder. It was the letter he had received from Morticia relating to the vibrating of the vial with Voldemort’s soul fragment.

Dumbledore commented first. “That is distressing news.”

“Yes. And the person in question is Professor Quirrell.”

“Quirinus? Are you sure?”

“Reasonably. And he is after the Philosopher’s Stone.”

“And why would you think that?”

Real Harry sighed. He had deliberately sat holding the letter for twenty minutes so that they would have time for this discussion. He had just needed the excuse to see Dumbledore to have the discussion.

“Well sir, rather than giving you the information in the order I picked it up, I’ll just lay out what I know. On the day that I went to Diagon Alley with Hagrid, we met Professor Quirrell in the Leaky Cauldron. When we went to the bank, Hagrid emptied a vault of one small package. Later that day, on my way home, my scar hurt, which Morticia has surmised to mean Voldemort feeling an extreme emotion, probably anger. The Daily Prophet had several articles regarding the break-in at Gringotts, into a vault that had been emptied earlier that same day.

“I discovered Fluffy, and asked Hagrid about it. He let slip that whatever Fluffy was guarding was between you and Nicholas Flamel. I had read off the back of a chocolate frog card that you and Nicholas Flamel were partners in alchemy. After some research in the library, I was able to determine that the object was the Philosopher’s Stone.

“A little while later I overheard Professor Quirrell in a classroom begging someone to forgive him and that he wouldn’t fail next time. He rushed out the door I was near, and since the room had another exit that was open, I had incorrectly surmised at the time, that the person threatening him left by the other door. I now believe that Voldemort was threatening him.

“Then there is the issue with the rogue bludgers. I saw Professor Snape maintaining eye contact with the bludgers and muttering. He appeared to be casting either the curse, or the counter-curse. I was unable to see Professor Quirrell, but I understand he was attending the game as well.

“There has been another strange occurrence, of which you may or may not be aware. Hagrid got a dragon’s egg about seven weeks ago. He hatched it, and raised it until tonight. We, Wednesday, Millicent, Hermione and myself, convinced Hagrid to write Charlie Weasley about getting the dragon relocated to the Romanian dragon preserve where Charlie works. Wednesday and I delivered Norberta, the name of the dragon, to Charlie’s friends tonight atop the tallest tower.

“On the way back to my common room I saw Professor McGonagall and was inspired on how to get some time to talk to you.”

“That is an excellent bit of detective work, Harry. And rather distressing to know that you’ve discovered all this on your own as it was supposed to be a secret.” Dumbledore smiled at Harry. “An ingenious bit of play acting to arrange our late night meeting, by the way.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry for having disturbed you so late.”

“Think nothing of it.”

“Sir, there’s something else bothering me about the dragon. Hagrid told us he won the egg from someone down at the Hog’s Head who wore a cloak with their hood up. And Hagrid had mentioned to me that he had always wanted a dragon when we were in Diagon Alley. That seems like a strange coincidence. I like Hagrid and all, but he doesn’t have a suspicious bone in his body. The question is, what did the guy with the egg want from Hagrid?”

“That is a very astute observation, Harry. I shall have to ask Hagrid about that incident. Worry not, Hagrid’s not in trouble for the dragon, as I have no evidence that the dragon was here.”

“Pansy Parkinson knew about the dragon, she saw it through the window. I suspect she might have told someone in an effort to get Hagrid sacked. She hasn’t been subtle about her dislike of Hagrid.”

“That explains something I heard from a friend of mine at the ministry. Well, without a dragon, they have no evidence to force me to sack Hagrid. Would you do me a favor, Harry?”

“What’s that, sir?”

“Ask Mrs. Addams if she knows of a way to trap a possessing soul fragment from a willing host. Or more precisely, someone who would be unwilling to submit to a ritual cleansing.”

“I can do that.”

“Excellent. Do you have anything else to discuss?”

“Not at this time, Professor.”

“Very well then, I think we should return to the world and have a cup a tea. Then we have to get you back to Madam Pomfrey. Appearances must be kept.”

Chapter Text

How I Met Your Mother

 

Pansy had told someone.

A couple of days after the dragon left some ministry officials came by to investigate rumors of a dragon at the school. They found no evidence of a dragon. It seemed Hagrid’s hut has been ‘renovated’ recently. That put Pansy in a foul mood.

After double potions, Harry, Wednesday, Hermione and Millicent made a trip out to Hagrid’s hut to see the supposed renovations that the rumor mill was talking about.

“It’s nice of yeh ter visit. Come in, have some tea and rock cake. Back Fang!” Hagrid invited them in and Fang immediately put his head in Harry’s lap once Harry was seated. The hut had an extra room and was somewhat larger now, and looked brand new.

“Your hut is looking better than last we saw it,” said Wednesday.

“Well, day after Norberta left, the Headmaster came ter visit me. Said that if I didn’ mind, he would help improve my hut. Timely, too. Just yesterday there were some Ministry officials nosing around looking fer signs of a dragon.”

“I’m sure it was just a coincidence,” said Harry. After some more small talk about how classes where going, Harry stood up and looked out the window. When he sat back down, he said, “I’ve got something I want to tell you guys. Hagrid is already aware of it, as he was here this summer.”

“Would it have to do with why Mother was here?” asked Wednesday.

“Yes it would. I trust you three,” he indicated the girls, “enough to share this secret. And it is a secret. No discussing this where other can hear, and please be circumspect even then.”

The girls agreed.

“One of the reasons I trust you is I believe the three of you are my soul mates. Don’t give me that look Hermione. Despite common belief, soul mates are not always romantic. In fact the majority of them aren’t. Not that the library was much help in researching this. I suspect the more informative books are in the restricted section.”

“Then why are you so sure about us being soul mates with you?” queried Hermione.

“That’s one my secrets I cannot reveal yet. Suffice to say, I have a source outside of the school library.”

All three girls scrutinized Harry.

Millicent asked, “That is obviously not the secret you are planning to share right now.”

“Correct. My home life is not the best. I’ve told you that I was raised by muggle relatives. They hate anything not ‘normal’ and magic is about as far from normal as you can get. And they knew I came from a magical family, but told me nothing about it. The first I heard about magic was when Hagrid came to deliver my Hogwarts letter on my birthday. My uncle had been trying to avoid those letters and keep me from reading them for the previous week. We ended up in a hut on a rock out at sea.”

“That’s horrible,” lamented Hermione.

“That isn’t so bad. On my birthday, Hagrid came and collected me out on that rock and took me to Diagon Alley to get my supplies for school. I got home the same day. But it took them a few days to get back home, so I was on my own then. Everyone knows how I got my scar, but what no one knows was it was hiding something malignant.” Hermione and Millicent gasped. Wednesday was wearing a mask of indifference.

“The night before my relatives came home, I experienced a burst of accidental magic, and at the same time I had excruciating pain in my scar. I passed out and was awoken by my furious uncle as my burst of magic had destroyed nearly every object in the house.

“There was another burst of accidental magic on my birthday as well. Hagrid had brought me my first ever birthday cake. When I saw my cousin eating it, that burst of magic gave him a pig’s tail.”

“Now, Harry, that wasn’t—“

“Hagrid, please, don’t interrupt. This is hard enough. I had contacted Professor McGonagall about it, and asked for help. She brought Madam Pomfrey with her, and they arrived a few minutes after I had been awoken by my uncle. It took some convincing to get my uncle to allow them to help my cousin and fix the damage I had caused. When I told the professor what had happened, she noticed my scar was inflamed and had been bleeding. She discussed it with my uncle and Madam Pomfrey, and it was decided I had to come to Hogwarts for treatment. My uncle was delighted to be rid of me a month early.”

“Why didn’t they take you to St. Mungo’s, Harry?” asked Millicent.

“Because of my fame, and that there are still those out there who followed Voldemort,” Millicent and Hagrid flinched, “that might want to do me harm. They wanted to limit my exposure and control who had access. That’s where Wednesday’s mum comes into the story. They needed someone who was knowledgeable regarding blood and soul magic, but neutral when it came to the last war. And because blood and soul magic are considered dark, and has been made illegal by the Ministry of Magic, they had to go outside of the country for help.

“The reason knowledge of blood magic was needed was someone had set up some blood wards to protect me, but had made some mistakes and it was putting an excessive drain on my magic. The reason for the soul magic was when Vol— er, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, tried to kill me, the rebound of the curse broke off a piece of his soul and that lodged in my scar. It had been trying to possess me for ten years.”

Hermione and Millicent looked aghast, and Wednesday appeared pleased.

“So, Morticia, that’s Wednesday’s mum, and Gomez, her dad, came from America to assist in my healing. Hagrid helped with the ritual to cleanse me of the fragment, and Gomez corrected the blood wards. A side effect was that my eyesight was corrected and I no longer needed glasses. It was also discovered that I’m related to Morticia on my mother’s side.”

“We always enjoy finding new relatives,” said Wednesday.

“Harry, why didn’t the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad respond to your bursts of accidental magic?”

“Well, Millicent, that has to do with some wards placed around my relatives’ home or the incorrectly applied blood wards. They prevented the Ministry from detecting accidental magic. That may have been intentional to keep me safe.”

“So that’s why you were familiar with the library when we arrived at school.”

“Right in one, Hermione. While I was recuperating, I was given access to the school library. You can only read your school books so many times before you get bored.”

“Does that relate to the potions you were taking at meals up until Christmas?” asked Millicent.

“Yes. My relatives… they didn’t feed me well. So there was quite a bit of malnourishment that needed to be remedied. I’m off the potions now, so that’s good.”

“You can’t go back there,” Millicent pronounced. Wednesday and Hermione nodded in agreement.

“I have to, in order to charge the blood wards. I don’t have to stay the entire summer, but I do have to go back. For how long is a discussion I need to have with my magical guardian.”

Wednesday stated, “There’s more you aren’t telling us.”

“Yes, but I’m not ready to share those secrets yet.”

The girls were unhappy he was keeping secrets, but were satisfied in that he was sharing what he felt comfortable sharing.

That evening, Harry wrote a letter to Morticia asking if she knew of any rituals for removing (and capturing) a possessing entity from a host that would be hostile towards having the entity removed.


Magical Bonds and Bindings


The next Tuesday, Hermione took Harry to an empty classroom for a private conversation.

“Harry, I’ve read the book you’ve asked me too, and a couple of others besides, and I believe I owe you a life debt. I also concede that we might be soul mates, but there isn’t enough information in the library to confirm that assertion.”

Harry heard a chime for a milestone, and with a quick use of his A.R.M. determined it was for the informal acknowledgement of a life debt. After that brief pause, Harry continued, “The more informative books are probably in the restricted section. Thanks, Hermione. I was hoping I was wrong about the life debt.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Well, we’ve acknowledged it, but I don’t know if we need to do more to make that a magical acknowledgement. I’ll see if Morticia has any suggestions. She has knowledge of magics that have been outlawed by the Ministry of Magic. Perhaps there is a way to confirm the existence of the bond through magic.”

“That sounds reasonable. How did you come across that book?”

“I was looking for information on soul mates. That book seems to be the most accurate about magical bonds, but it still has romanticized the concept of soulmates as being lovers. My other source’s information says that romantic soul mates are less frequent than other types, though they tend to be the most celebrated bond.”

“Is your source a book I could read, Harry?”

“No.”

“Then you’ll have to write a book about it so it can be added to the library,” Hermione teased.

“I’d have to use a pseudonym, like ‘Ima Lovesick’.”

Hermione groaned. “You’ll have to come up with a better one than that.”

“I wonder what it takes to get published among wizards. I’d hate for there to be only one book if I went through the effort to write one.”

“I think it just takes money to have someone print it. More money if you want it to be enchanted like some of the books. Of course, just having one book would make it a collector’s item.”

“With a readership of one. Not very useful for dissemination knowledge.”

“That’s true. Why do you think that Wednesday, Millicent and I are your soul mates?”

“An accumulation of little things. I guess for you and I, it would be things like our love of reading, our desire to learn all we can about magic and a host of other things like our perpetually untamable hair.”

“Your hair is tamer than mine.”

“I have to plait it around twenty times a day, Hermione, unless I use a potion, which I did on the Hogwarts Express. I’m not exaggerating. It’s constantly trying to unplait itself into a wild tangle. And when my hair was short? Nothing could be done with it.”

“I only see you re-plait it twice a day.”

“Those are probably the only times I do it by hand, rather than magic.”

“You can plait your hair with magic? You’ll have to teach me.”

“I’ll see if I can borrow a book on it for you Hermione. What I remember is that the spells for men and women are different, as they have to be adjusted for the differences in body and facial hair. Maybe there is a copy in the library.”

They left for class, continuing to discuss hair care along the way.

After dinner, Harry wrote another letter to Morticia requesting information about how to confirm life debts and soul bonds, and what is kinds of things or acts could be used to pay off life debts.

At breakfast the following morning, Wednesday issued another challenge to test Harry’s fencing skills the following Sunday since there was a quidditch match on Saturday. Their fencing club had grown a fair bit as well, though the Slytherin contingent was the smallest. Even Professor Sinistra had joined doing the exercises and meditation.


Responses and Reactions


The usual crowd followed Harry and Wednesday to Black Lake for the entertainment of seeing Harry fight for his life against his cousin. This time Wednesday started her attack at “Ready”.

Once again, Harry was doing his best to keep the fight away from the crowd while remaining unperforated. The onlookers oohed and aahed during the fight at some of the acrobatic movements Wednesday included and forced Harry to perform to avoid death and dismemberment. The fights ended with Harry sweating and panting, and Wednesday looking unperturbed, both with minor cuts and abrasions. Harry won two of the five, and it was time to grab some lunch.

“Harry, why do you two fight all over the place like that? I thought fencing was just back and forth, back and forth in a straight line?” asked Hannah.

“That is fencing as a sport, Hannah. Like the sport of wizard dueling, there are rules and a confined area to make it fair and safe. We are having actual combat where you maneuver for the best tactical advantage. And the dodging and weaving and running are all useful in spell combat. That’s why we have you jump around during training in fencing club, rather than just move forward and back.”

“Oh, I see. When will we get to fight each other in the club?”

“Wednesday and I were thinking after exams before we go home for the summer holidays.”

“Will we wear protective gear?”

“No. But we are going to ask Madam Pomfrey to be available, just in case.”

“Oh.” Hannah seemed a little unenthused by the prospect of potential injury.

Monday morning, Hedwig delivered a package and a letter from Morticia. The letter was a quick note detailing where to find the information Harry was asking about in the two books, as well as some family news, about relatives Harry had never met (specifically her sister Ophelia, Cousin Itt, and Thing). Harry decided to open the package of books away from the breakfast table to reduce the chances of Hermione asking to borrow them.

During his free period on Monday, Harry read the book on possessions and exorcisms. When he was done reading (and memorizing) he packaged the book up with a note about the relevant sections, and that he would need to return it to the owner. He used a school owl, much to Hedwig’s disgruntlement, to mail it to Dumbledore.

That evening he had a grueling occlumency session with Professor Snape. His ability to keep Snape out of his mind while brewing a potion was much better, but it was very tiring.

Snape drawled, “Start working on your mental endurance, Potter. So far you can hold out for nearly three hours. You will need to be able to hold out for twenty or more hours. Start keeping two separate lines of thought running at the same time. Your classes, homework, and your daily interactions will be one line. The second line will need to be something else, like reciting Preparing Potions: Millions of Methods for Mutilating Magical Materials. Do not concentrate on that memory of your examination by Mrs. Addams. Use that to throw people out of your mind, like you have been during your training. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Practice your meditation. Being able to clear your mind at a moment’s notice is helpful. Practice this through the summer holiday. If you can demonstrate proficiency to the standards I seek, which is doubtful, you will start on legilimency next year.”

“Yes, sir.”

Professor Snape’s condescending demeanor was difficult for Harry to deal with at the best of times, even more so when he had a strong headache from training. He wanted to know why the man seemed to really hate Gryffindors (and occasionally Harry more than the others), or if there was a way to impress Snape to the point that he wouldn’t take it out on him during occlumency training. Harry made a trip by the infirmary for his weekly headache remedy before returning to Gryffindor Tower.

The next day Harry started reading the book Morticia had given him relating to life debts and bonds. The book had several methods for confirming the existence of life debts, as well as beginner’s information on soul magic.

‘Royal mortal, those spells will be useful to you if you intend to use magic to confirm if someone is a soul mate, though they are more geared toward finding if two people other than the caster are soul mates.’

‘That’s good to know, Stheno. Thank you. Do they need to be modified to work? Or are these just the building blocks for what I need to know?’

‘A bit of both. Most soul magic doesn’t target the caster’s soul, even if only for diagnostic purposes. There is this pernicious idea that it is extremely bad for the user of soul magic to use their own soul. With certain rituals, that is true, just like it is bad to use your own blood for certain rituals. It is always advisable to take care when using your own body, magic, or soul in casting magic. Detection spells are benign enough that even if you miscast the spell you cannot harm yourself.’

‘I may have to ask for another book on this topic later.’

As Harry finished the book, he received a chime indicating a milestone had been reached. He pulled up the milestone information on his A.R.M. It took him a while to find it, which made him happy for the chimes created by the A.R.M. as he probably would never have known to look otherwise.

He had made a milestone in learning magic that could be used to subjugate someone. That seemed ominous to him, as well as the minor gain in minimum lust levels. It did however open up some new rewards, one of which he got a scroll-note for.

            Note to self: If I am reading this, then I have accessed a reward that will allow me to free up even more of my avatar’s personality and mind. I strongly advise myself to take this reward and make it permanent. It is an oddly cheap reward for the benefits it grants. One more reward and the Avatar’s personality will no longer be bound by rules of the game. ~HJP

Harry was a bit surprised as he hadn’t seen a scroll-note for a while. Though the reward was one he was happy to see open up, he was more perturbed by the milestone.

‘Stheno, what spell did I just learn that would allow me to subjugate others?’

‘I am not aware of any spells in the book you just read that would do that. This will take some time to study.’

‘Until we find it, I can’t use any of them, as I don’t want to accidently subjugate someone. How about the reward Avatar’s Grace that just opened up with that milestone?’

Steno called up a scroll to read and was silent for a few minutes. ‘If this is what you want to spend your I.P.s on, I will not gainsay you.’

‘Is it something you want, Stheno?’

‘… Yes.’

Harry then spent the points and made it permanent. Stheno became unmoving for a minute or two, which was disturbing to Harry as she was always moving in his A.R.M. He confirmed his A.R.M. was still functioning correctly and hoped that the applied bonus didn’t just break Stheno. While he was waiting he applied (and made it hereditary) another reward that had just come available, Cool as a Cucumber, which would allow him to resist the urges of lust as well assist him with keeping his emotions in check. When Stheno started moving again, Harry let out a sigh of relief.

‘That was quite… painful, actually. I was unaware I could sense pain in this state of being.’

‘I’m sorry I hurt you, Stheno,’ Harry said contritely.

‘It is not your fault, young Harry. Nothing indicated it would be painful. Perhaps it is a side effect of the bonds being released.’

‘Perhaps. Still, I do not wish to cause you pain.’

‘I know.’

‘Hang on… did you just call me ‘young Harry’?’

‘… Yes. That would appear to also be a side effect of the loosening bonds. Previously I could not be that familiar with you. Also, you are earning my respect.

‘Another side effect of breaking more of the bonds is that I can see things a bit differently now. The bonds prevented me from speaking about the milestone as that would be against the game. This A.R.M. is rather ingenious in that it is alerting you to things that the game would try and hide from you. The spell that can be used to subjugate others is Anima Pressura. The spell is used to ‘test’ aspects of a soul, but if misused, can cause the tested soul to succumb to the effects of the test. I would avoid that spell until you are a much better spell caster.’

‘Thank you, that makes me feel better. At least I have other options when dealing with the life debt. I’ll have to ask how to modify these spells so that they will work with me being caster and subject. Or wait until I can get Morticia to cast them.’

‘That would be wise. Though, I think with my more abundant freedom I might be able to help. However, the Avatar’s Grace reward indicates there is one more level towards freeing me, and I would be hesitant to follow my advice in spell modification until such time as the fourth reward is applied.’

‘I hate to have to agree, because you haven’t steered me wrong yet.’

‘That we know of…’

‘Well, if you think of anything in hindsight, let me know so we can work to fix it.’

Harry wrote another letter to Morticia, asking about how to safely modify the spells so that he could be the subject, or one of the subjects of a spell cast by him.

Harry arrived in the owlery only to find the headmaster tying some letters to several owls.

“Hello, Professor. Nice day for sending mail?”

“Hello, Harry. It seems every day is a day for sending mail. I see you have some to send off as well?”

“Yes, I do. Though I do come up here occasionally just to visit with the owls.” Harry petted Hedwig awake and gave her the letter. “People post exchange, Hedwig. Overseas, Morticia Addams.”

Hedwig bobbed her head and nibbled on his finger before taking wing.

The headmaster had been telling the owls where to go, “Minister Fudge, Elphias Doge, Wizengamot Secretary, and Board of Governors, and this student.” To the last owl, he said, “Deliver this one in thirty minutes.”

The owl responded disgruntledly in hoots and squawks, “Why wait? He’s right here!!”

“Now, now. Just wait for thirty minutes please.” Harry didn’t think that the headmaster was a pterolocuter, so maybe he was just responding to the owl’s body language.

The owl continued to complain, but quieted down.

“Have a good day, Harry.” Dumbledore turned and exited the owlery. Harry turned to the last of the Headmaster’s owls.

“That’s for me, isn’t it?” Harry hooted at the owl.

“Yes,” the owl hooted back, “but I can’t give it to you now.”

“I understand. I’ll see you later then.”

Chapter Text

Or The Hufflepuffs’ Very Strange Day

 

The cabinet creaked open. A right hand peeked out from within the cabinet to make sure the coast was clear. It then dropped onto the floor and scampered down the hall looking like a bizarre rendition of a hermit crab with the elegantly carved box at its wrist joint from which the hand was emerging.

The hand knew where it needed to go. It always knew, just like a mail owl knew where it needed to go to deliver a message. It scuttled down the stone hallways unnoticed, slid down bannisters to navigate stairs, and eventually arrived at a door it couldn’t pass on its own. So it found a barrel behind which to hide and wait.

Eventually someone opened the door as they left the room beyond, and the hand raced inside before the door closed. It then crawled up a couch and walked across the back until it reached and end table next to its target – a girl in Hufflepuff robes with black hair in twin plaits and dark blue eyes, who was reading with a tarantula sitting on her head – where it set itself down and slid inside the box. After a few minutes of being ignored, the hand opened the box and just rested on the outside while its arm disappeared into the box. After a few more minutes the hand started snapping its fingers.

The girl next to the box turned, as did several other students.

“Oh, hello, Thing. I did not expect to see you here,” said the girl. Several other students let out startled shrieks.

The hand disappeared into the box and pulled out a deck of cards and waved them around questioningly.

“Aww, you’ve been lonely without Pugsley or I to keep you company. Sure, I will play a game or two.” She took the deck and started shuffling.

“Wednesday,” asked a boy with a pageboy cut of blond hair and blue eyes, “what is that thing?”

“Exactly that, Ernest.” She called him Ernest to annoy him, as he preferred Ernie. She dealt the cards to herself and Thing.

“Exactly, what?”

“Just what you said.”

“But you didn’t answer the question!”

“Yes I did, Ernest.”

“So, it’s an Exactly That?”

“No, this is Thing.”

“But what is it?” Asked Hannah Abbott, a girl with blond hair in pigtails and brown eyes, who was still tucked as far as she could get from the box and remain seated in the overstuffed chair on the other side of the end table.

“Thing is Thing.”

“So, is Thing its name?” asked Susan Bones, a hazel eyed girl with plaited red hair.

“Yes,” replied Wednesday as she started dealing.

“So what is Thing?” tried Ernie again.

“Thing is Thing. Thing has been in the family for as long as I can remember.”

“You don’t know what it is, do you?” accused Ernie.

“I told you, Ernest, Thing is Thing.”

Hannah interrupted, “So, you’re saying Thing is a Thing named Thing.”

“Exactly.”

“That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Sure it does, Ernie,” said Susan. “It’s just the same as naming a cat, Cat, or a dog, Dog. It’s tautological actually.”

“What does that even mean, Bones?”

“Ask Justin. He can define it better than I can.”

“Ask me what?” asked Justin from across the room, as he shook himself out of staring at Thing who was now playing Gin Rummy with Wednesday.

Ernest tried to ask, “What is taugo—, taulot—“

“Tautological,” supplied Susan.

“Yeah, what does that mean?”

“It’s a noun that mean a needless repetition of an idea, especially in words other than those in context that impart no additional clearness. An example is ‘look at the canine dog’. Canine already implies dog and vice versa, so the repetition is unnecessary, where ‘look at the Shetland dog’ actually supplies information as to the type of dog, while dog differentiates it from a Shetland pony,” replied Justin, the boy with brown eyes and curly brown hair.

“How did you not get into Ravenclaw again?” queried Ernie.

“The same way you didn’t get into Gryffindor,” replied Justin.

Thing sat down several cards with a flourish and thumped the table.

“Gin for you Thing. Your deal.” Thing scooped up the cards and shuffled them very deftly for only have one hand. Wednesday marked the score and Thing started dealing.

“How does Thing see?” asked Kevin, a boy with gray eyes and wavy auburn hair.

“How do you see?” replied Wednesday.

“With eyes, but Thing doesn’t have any eyes.”

“I’m sure he must have eyes. Just because we can’t see Thing’s eyes, doesn’t mean the eyes aren’t there,” Wednesday calmly stated.

“Is it a d-disembodied hand? Is it d-dead?” asked a boy with brown hair and eyes.

“Of course Thing isn’t dead, Hopkins,” replied Wednesday. “Thing is warm and has a pulse. You can clearly see the forearm, so Thing is not a disembodied hand. Thing even has an elbow. I’ve never seen a shoulder, so Thing might be a disembodied arm.”

That didn’t seem to make anyone calmer about Thing.

“H-how d-did Thing g-get here?” asked a girl with short curly sandy colored hair and brown eyes.

“Good question, Megan. Thing, how did you get here?”

Thing set down his cards and responded to Wednesday with a series of hand gestures.

“Was that s-sign language?” asked Megan nervously, clearly afraid of Thing. “I only got ‘cabinet’ out of that.”

“Hmm, yes, it is sign language, and manual alphabet, and some custom gestures to make up for that fact that Thing is only one hand. Gin. My deal.”

Thing slumped in defeat. A fifth year prefect with mousy brown hair and brown eyes walked into the common room just as Thing started gathering the cards that Wednesday dealt. It took a moment for her process what she was seeing before she let out a little shriek.

“What is that thing?!” the prefect demanded.

“Exactly that,” responded Wednesday.

Chapter Text

Clandestine Meeting

 

Harry’s letter from Dumbledore requested that he meet the headmaster after curfew. Harry snuck through the halls wearing his invisibility cloak and avoiding the prefect patrols. He approached the gargoyle guarding the headmaster’s office before speaking the password, “Peppermint Rock.”

Once he was past the gargoyle, he folded his invisibility cloak and placed it in his pocket. When he arrived at the top of the moving stairs, he heard, “Enter” before he knocked.

“Hello, Professor. I’m not too late, am I?”

“No, Harry, you are not.” Dumbledore made a few gestures around the room and said, “Ready to watch a memory?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Excellent.” They both touched the silvery liquid in the pensieve.

When both of them were re-oriented, Harry saw that they were in a meadow, watching Memory Dumbledore just looking about the scenery.

“Where is this, Professor?”

“Ah, this is a meadow in the Alps during mid-summer of nineteen sixty-seven. Quite beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” Harry took in the view.

“How are your classes, Harry?”

“They are quite interesting. I think I am doing well. I really wish we could take electives next year.”

“And Occlumency training?”

“Professor Snape has indicated that I might be ready to start Legilimency training at the beginning of next year. I find the training exhausting, and headache inducing. Trying to keep two trains of thought is proving rather taxing on its own, and I can only do it nearly three straight hours in a day right now.”

“That’s to be expected. I suppose I should discuss why I asked you for the visit. I will be returning Mrs. Addams book to you tonight. I have incorporated what I can into defending the stone. Please give her my thanks for lending me the book.”

“I will, Professor. Did you include a way to trap the soul? Or just exorcise it from the professor’s body?”

“If I’ve done things correctly, the soul possessing Professor Quirrell should be exorcised and trapped within a container like your vial. And Professor Quirrell should also be trapped in a levitation field. I would like to examine your vial again before you leave to make sure I have properly created the container.”

“Of course, Professor.”

“Anything else you’d like to discuss, Harry?”

“What happens to a disembodied soul like Voldemort’s if all the horcruxes are destroyed?”

“That is a good question, Harry. Since he is already here, I don’t think he will just dissipate. We’ll need to exorcise him. Or more specifically, you’ll need to exorcise him in order to fulfill the prophecy.”

“That sounds more pleasant than killing him if he were to get loose and acquires a body of his own.”

“I am sure it does.”

“Couldn’t we exorcise him now, and then just get rid of the horcruxes?”

“With the anchors in place, all exorcising him will do is release him from whomever he is possessing. It won’t send his soul on to the next great adventure.”

“Next great adventure, Professor?”

“To the organized mind, death is just the next great adventure.”

“Then I guess Voldemort must have had the most disorganized mind in history.”

Real Dumbledore laughed heartily. “I suppose there is some truth in that statement. He wouldn’t agree, of course.”

After a couple of minutes of silence, Harry asked, “Is there anything I can do to help, Professor?”

“No, Harry, there isn’t. At least, not at this time. I have been waffling between letting you have a confrontation with him, but I think it is best to avoid that. You’ve done quite enough already in helping to protect the Stone from him and Professor Quirrell. We are not at the point where you need to confront him, and for safety’s sake you should not confront him.”

“What will happen to Professor Quirrell?”

“That depends upon whether or not this is a willing or unwilling possession.”

“Sorry, I meant what happens to him when Voldemort is forced out?”

“Ah. As I understand it, he will be rendered unconscious during the expulsion of Voldemort.”

“Thank you, Professor. I don’t have any further questions.”

With that, they returned to the real world. Harry handed over his vial to Dumbledore for examination. The aged wizard ran several diagnostic spells over the vessel, and Harry focused on the magic the headmaster was using.

After a few minutes of spell casting, Dumbledore said, “It appears everything is in order. Thank you, Harry. And thank Mrs. Addams for lending the book.” The headmaster returned the book to Harry.

“You are welcome, sir. And I will.”

“It is late, and you have classes tomorrow, so you best be on your way.”

“Have a good night, Professor Albus.” Harry grinned at the headmaster.

“You, too, Harry,” Dumbledore said with a smile.


Madness


The almost private kisses with Hermione, Susan and Padma from Valentine’s Day were still circulating the rumor mill, being totally blown out of proportion as happens with rumors. The most lascivious of them had Harry three-timing the witches, extorting favors from them through blackmail and threats, and where he was doing unspeakable things to the poor little witches. No one considered that the subjects of the rumor were only first years, and most likely still hadn’t reached puberty (though Susan appeared to be starting puberty if her burgeoning curves were any indication).

The girls assured Harry they were okay with the rumors, even the ones that labeled them promiscuous slatterns, because Harry was their friend. They were rather upset about the rumors painting Harry as an evil molester, but they figured that like all rumors these would die down eventually. The girls decided to twist the rumors a bit, by publicly hugging Harry and kissing his cheek right after lunch one day, much to Harry’s chagrin. He even got a ding through his A.R.M. from both Padma and Susan each, indicating he reached a new relationship milestone with each girl.

Hermione was starting to drive herself to distraction, and her friends with her, with her revising schedules for end of year exams, which were two and a half months away. So, her friends took turns occasionally hugging her until she relaxed, and assured her that everyone would revise, and there was no need to panic.

When it was Harry’s turn, he pulled her out of her seat and hugged her tightly, humming a tune and gently rocking on his feet. When she finally started to breathe again, he said, “Hermione, you’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine. You need to give yourself some down time in your schedule for something fun. Like just sitting around conversing with your friends, or reading a romance novel.” He grinned with he suggested the romance novel.

She lightly slapped his arm. “Romance novel? Are you mad? Why would I read that drivel?”

“I don’t know. I just suggested it because Parvati and Lavender read them from time to time. And your idea of ‘light reading’ is the heaviest tome in the library,” he teased.

She tried to protest that, and he put a finger to her lips to hush her. “It was an ironic hyperbolic pun, Hermione.

“If you won’t sit and engage in small talk, at least try to read a book of fiction, or poetry. Something that is not history, or magical theory, or spell related. Schedule it in your revising for two or three times a week. And remember to schedule study breaks as well, or you will drive us all mad.” He smiled at her wryly.

With a huff, she relented. “Okay Harry, maybe I’ll even schedule time for some exploding snap, or,” she shuddered exaggeratedly, “chess with Ron.”

Harry laughed and returned to studying while Hermione adjusted her color coded revising schedule.

Harry even studied with Ron, encouraging him by playing chess at the same time, dictating that a move by either Harry or Ron could only be made when Ron got a correct answer during the review.

“What’s another name for aconite?”

“Er…, Belladonna?”

“Wrong.”

“Wait! Its wolfsbane.”

“Correct. Your move”

“Why do we only alternate turns when I get a correct answer? Shouldn’t we have turns when you get a correct answer?”

“Well, that might make sense…. If I were also in danger of getting a Troll on my potions exam.”

“Guh, don’t remind me.”

“If I don’t remind you, you’d only play chess rather than study.”

“But exams are ages away. Granger’s infected you with her mania, mate.”

“Hardly. If that were true, I wouldn’t be spending time helping you. I’d be pulling my hair out trying to review every little thing seventeen times before the exams. I’ve talked her down to twelve times, giving me time to help you. Now stop stalling and ask me a question.”

“Alright, alright. Keep your hair on, mate.”

For the end of March, Harry accepted a quest to tickle a girl. Ultimately he failed to do that, because he just never felt like there was a good time to follow through with tickling a girl. He also didn’t feel he had that kind of relationship with anyone but Wednesday, and Harry liked all his limbs attached.

On April first, just after waking, Harry got two scroll-notes from his alter ego.

            Note to self: I realize this is April First, but this is not a joke. I need to learn how to remove dark curses from a basilisk, and how to make a basilisk a familiar. Otherwise, by the end of next year I will be forced to risk my life in order to kill the ancient snake. I don’t want to do that.

            The basilisk was Slytherin’s familiar. When Voldemort came to school, he corrupted the broken familiar bond and forced the snake to do his bidding without making the snake his familiar. This corruption needs to be cleansed. I may need to ask Hagrid how to adopt someone else’s familiar, as I don’t know how to do that.

            The book I will need is called Enforcing Your Will Upon Ancient Creatures. No author is stated within the book. The book will detail how the basilisk was cursed. Hopefully it will have the counter-curse. Unfortunately it is located in the restricted section of the library (section F, bookshelf eleven, third shelf from the bottom). The sooner I can get this book, the better. I’ll have more information for myself after I’ve read the book.

            And I need to be wary of the Weasley twins today, as they take the first of April as a mandate to cause chaos. Come to think about it, so does Peeves. ~HJP

            Note to self: Next chance I get to speak with the headmaster, I should ask about my godfather, and find a way to point out he hasn’t had a trial without raising suspicions as to how I know this. Perhaps I can then get my godfather free of prison before the start of next year.

Harry wondered, again, how his alter ego knew all this.

Now, in addition to classes, study groups for exams, the normal homework study groups, occlumency lessons, and fencing club, Harry now had to move up his research project on how to create a linking book for the library of Hogwarts.

As predicted, the twins did cause chaos. Dung bombs in the hallways, fireworks in the great hall, disembodied laughter in the classrooms when keywords were spoken, like ‘charm’, ‘spell’ and ‘potion’. The twins even got to Harry despite his watchfulness. He sensed the magic take effect, but was unable to stop it or dodge out of the way. His hair started out pink at breakfast, and every half hour it changed shades to another garish pastel color. Harry didn’t mind. He just told people he was a metamorphmagus in training.

In addition to the dung bombs, the hallways were hazardous because of Peeves throwing paint balloons at students, pulling carpets out from under them, and dropping walking sticks upon their heads. Peeves even got the suits of armor to block well-travelled hallways and the doors to bathrooms. No one saw the armor move, though, and they were always found blocking something, even the great hall for lunch.

Harry spent some time during the day helping the caretaker clean up the paint and straighten the rugs. Everyone wondered what he did to earn detention and thought maybe he helped the twins and got caught. Everyone knew the Weasley twins were behind the pranks, but no one could prove it. Even Wednesday was impressed with the spooky laughter in the classrooms.

The really impressive prank was just before dinner when both Ron and Draco where found stuck, unconscious, hanging from the doors outside the medical wing. Both had the opposite houses colors painted on their faces. Neither knew how they got there, and no one had seen it happen. When people started arriving through the entrance to the great hall, many started to have their faces colored. Three quarters of the Slytherins ended up wearing house colors other than their own. And several other people from other houses sat down to dinner wearing colors other than those of their own house (mostly Slytherin). The truly observant would note that the ones with their faces painted were the ones who had earlier that day denigrated the house whose colors they were wearing. Madam Pomfrey just told them to wait until it wore off. The Weasley twins were blamed, despite one of them wearing Ravenclaw colors and the other wearing Hufflepuff. Harry suspected the prank was actually Wednesday’s, given how she was scrupulously indifferent to the entire affair.

Since Gomez’s birthday was in April, Harry sent the poem Morticia had requested in the original Greek. He also got the Weasley twins to help him charm the birthday card to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a funeral dirge.

Halfway through the month of April, Harry had an epiphany regarding the library, and realized the linking charms on his Portable Athenaeum were tied into the wards of his personal library. He had misunderstood the theory and thought he was tying the runes and charms to the ownership seal, which is why he destroyed a couple of books in his first attempts. Now he just needed to examine the wards in the library more thoroughly. That required going out in the middle of the night with the invisibility cloak.

He considered just sneaking into the library and taking Enforcing Your Will Upon Ancient Creatures out of the restricted section, but then realized he would find it difficult to actually examine the book at his leisure, and during the summer, as he expected he would not be able to remove the book from Hogwarts without special permission.

Harry was quite tired for next week as he spent half the night in the library each night looking at the wards. The ones in the restricted section were the trickiest and somewhat different from the rest of the library. While examining the restricted section, Harry was almost caught twice by Filch. The effort paid off, as Harry had now figured out how the wards were structured. However, he would have to tweak his previous charms and runes in order to adapt a new linking book from his library to tie to the wards in the school library. He’d also have to tell Hermione about the correction in his theory for the linking book. Tying to the ownership seal was important, but the ward structure needed to be considered as well. Additionally, this let him add a locating function to his book, which told him where to find the current copies of the book he was trying to read.

The following week saw Harry testing his new Hogwarts’ Portable Athenaeum. He did so by looking up books he hadn’t read, then going to find those books to verify his links were working correctly. He even tweaked the charms on his personal Portable Athenaeum with what he learned by making the new one. This allowed his original book to actually access the new book, since the new book was part of his library now.

He was disappointed that he still wasn’t able to link books to his A.R.M. Supposedly just claiming the books should have made that possible, but it wasn’t working. He’d have to research the A.R.M. requirements during the summer to see if there was something specific he was supposed to do and had missed.

When he told Hermione how to update her own book, and explained how to correct his previously flawed theory, Hermione replied, “I thought something seemed off about the process. This is terribly advanced theory, Harry.”

“Is it?”

“Yes! But how do you know this? You are only a first year, and had at most a month’s head start over me. This is fourth and fifth year theory. Maybe even sixth year!”

“I’ve been reading a lot about runes, basic warding and charms. Some of it is just researching the theory behind the library creation and maintenance spells in Library Legerdemain and Bibliotheca Bewitchment. Don’t look at me like that. Your reading preferences grant you a greater breadth of understanding of what we are learning. My reading is much narrower and focused allowing me to understand some of the more advanced stuff in certain areas.

“Besides, I cheat. I read faster than you do.” Harry winked.

Hermione harrumphed, but accepted Harry’s explanation.

At the end of the month, Harry accepted a quest to ‘feel up’ a girl, which was the most benign one he got for the month of April, and failed that one as well. He didn’t want to make anyone mad at him. He didn’t think any of his relationships were the kind where he could casually grope a girl and not get hexed into oblivion.


Suspicions


By May, the rumor mill had forgotten about Harry and the girls for which Harry was very thankful. The speculative looks he had been getting from some of the upper year girls were rather disturbing. Especially the Slytherin girls.

There was a rather interesting quest that showed up, where Harry had to improve a relationship. He looked through the information he had in his Relationship Matrix, and he had matrices for Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, Padma and Parvati Patil, Lavender Brown, Lily Moon, Millicent Bulstrode, Daphne Greengrass, Tracy Davis, Elizabeth Runcorn, Mandy Brocklehurst, Hermione Granger, and Wednesday Addams. The one that looked easiest to increase to a new stage was Millicent’s, so he accepted the quest and had a week to improve her relationship status.

He had also noted several girls in the matrix with whom he had never spent time interacting. It confused him until he realized they were all infatuated with him, which made them available in matrix despite there being no intimate contact.

‘Stheno? What’s the best way to improve my relationship with a girl?’

‘Well, mortal Harry, that varies from girl to girl. However, spending time getting to know a girl’s likes and dislikes usually works with all females. Everyone likes to be treated like they matter, rather than be treated like a pawn, or object.’

‘I see. I think I already knew that, but it helped to have someone else’s opinion. I was hoping there was some super-secret way that males are never told about that would help, though,’ Harry said teasingly.

‘If I told you such a thing, I would be breaking the code of female solidarity by telling it to you. I’d be unable to respect myself. Nor you.’

‘Does that mean there is a way?’ Stheno’s image smirked at him in his A.R.M. display. ‘I’m going to assume you are pulling my leg. That way I won’t go off the deep end and become barmier than I already am.’

‘That’s probably for the best.’

Harry spent the next week taking time getting to know Millicent better. He discovered she liked to cook, arrange flowers, play quidditch as a keeper (though she suspected that the current Slytherin attitudes wouldn’t allow girls to play on their team), and liked to read romance novels. She was enjoying potions and charms, but was struggling with transfiguration, which Harry offered to tutor her for exams outside of study groups.

After the second transfiguration tutoring session, Harry got a chime indicating that Millicent’s relationship had entered a new stage, and another chime indicating he had completed the objective of the quest. Harry thought about trying to improve his relationship with another girl since he had time left on the quest. Then he realized that with studying for exams, fencing club, study groups, and classes, he didn’t have much time available during the last three days of the quest to do that. He’d have to hope that another relationship got better without any extra effort on his part. He spent the rest of that week focusing on Millicent to boost her rating past the threshold.

Wednesday tried to kill Harry the Sunday before exams started with their usual Black Lake duel. She was really going at it and Harry was only able to pull of one win out of the five. It appeared that Wednesday needed an outlet for the stress of the upcoming exams and chose Harry to be that outlet.

During the exams everyone was stressed. Harry took to relieving his stress by massaging the girls’ shoulders. He found it relaxing in that he was focused on something completely unrelated to exams, or chess, which always felt like an exam for him when playing Ron. Hermione seemed to stress herself out more by reviewing ever question on the exam she just completed, while studying for the next, but really the reviewing was just her way of assuring herself and was relaxing to her in its own way.

Wednesday’s way of relaxing was through violence. She got caught in one of Fred and George’s more elaborate pranks, and chased them all through the castle and over the castle's grounds with a kitchen knife. Threatening to remove body parts. Slowly. She would also effortlessly put Harry, or Fred and George if they got close enough, onto the ground with well-timed judo throws. The other Hufflepuffs and most other first year students quickly gave her a wide berth. Oddly, she never got caught by a prefect or a professor.

Soon, exams were over, and everyone could breathe a sigh of relief, except for Hermione, who would be on pins and needles until she got her exam results. Harry was outside by the lake with Wednesday, Hermione, Neville, Millicent, Susan, Hannah, Lily and Padma as the Weasley twins and Lee Jordan were splashing around and tickling the tentacles of the giant squid.

“Relax, Hermione. Getting yourself all twisted with worry about your exam results won’t make them arrive any faster, nor will it cause them to become better than you’ve already done. Practice your meditation,” Harry chided her while rubbing her shoulders as they sat under a tree.

“He’s right, Hermione,” said Padma, “We should all use this opportunity to practice our meditation.”

And so they did, until Tracy walked up to them and asked, “Has anyone seen Daphne?”

Harry responded, “I don’t think so. Why?”

“Well, she’s been acting weird since last night. We were supposed to get together this afternoon but she didn’t show up.”

“Acting weird in what way?”

“Little things. Her responses seem a little slow at times, like she’s preoccupied. She doesn’t laugh at my jokes, and she didn’t show up for lunch.”

“She’s probably coming down from the stress of exams. Have you check the hospital wing?” asked Susan.

“I have, and she hasn’t been there. No one I’ve asked remembers seeing her since breakfast.”

“Did she say anything at breakfast?” asked Harry.

“I reminded her of our plans and she said she was going to be there. She then mentioned she had to see a professor about the exams.”

“Which professor?” asked Wednesday.

“She didn’t say. I’ve asked Professors McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, Sprout and Sinistra and they haven’t seen her.”

“What about the headmaster or Professors Quirrell or Binns?” inquired Harry.

“According to Professor McGonagall, the Headmaster left for the Ministry just after lunch, and I haven’t been able to find Professors Quirrell or Binns.”

Alarm bells were sounding in Harry’s head. Quirrell and Daphne were missing, and the Headmaster was out of the castle.

“Perhaps she’s in the greenhouses? I’ll help you go look,” said Neville.

“I’ll help too. Have you checked the Library?” asked Padma. Hannah shook her head negatively.

“Let’s all go look for her. If you can’t find her by dinner, you should probably tell Professor Snape,” Harry said as he stood up from behind Hermione. “Well split up. Susan, you and Hannah go to the quidditch pitch and check the rest of the grounds. Padma and Lily, see about checking the library and classrooms. Neville, you go with Tracy to search the greenhouses and after that the ground floor of the castle. Wednesday and Millicent, you search the dungeons. Hermione and I will search the rest of the towers. We’ll meet back in the great hall at dinner,” directed Harry.

Harry held back Wednesday, Millicent and Hermione. When the four of them were alone, he said, “Something is off about this. I haven’t told anyone but Professor Dumbledore, and I know that Wednesday has figured out part of this, but Quirrell’s possessed by what’s left of Voldemort.”

Millicent and Hermione gasped and shuddered. “But why hasn’t Dumbledore done anything about it?”

“Well, Millicent, that’s because he figures it’s best to know where he is and what he’s up to rather than letting him roam unchecked. He’s here in the castle to get the Philosopher’s Stone. You know what that is?”

Millicent and Hermione shook their heads. Wednesday answered, “It’s an alchemical creation that creates the elixir of life and converts metals to gold.”

“Right. And Voldemort wants it so he can return to life. There are lots of traps keeping the stone safe, but I have a feeling that Quirrell is going to try for the stone tonight. And I think he’s taking Daphne with him to overcome the last trap.”

“And you know about the last trap,” Hermione accused.

“Yes. It was Morticia that suggested the particulars. I don’t think any of the other teachers know Quirrell is possessed, except for maybe Professor Snape. But then he may not know about the possession, and just suspects Quirrell is trying to steal the stone.”

“We should tell the teachers!”

“Why would they believe us?” Harry asked Hermione.

She blinked at him, “Why wouldn’t they?”

Harry started ticking off fingers, “One, we aren’t supposed to know about the stone. Two, no one knows I’ve been working with Professor Dumbledore on that last trap. Three, the staff have contributed to the security measures around the stone, so have no reason to believe that Quirrell is going after the stone. Except for Professor Snape who already suspects Quirrell. Four, everyone believes Voldemort died when he attempted to kill me, so why would they believe Quirrell is possessed by the evil git?”

“We’ve got to try!”

“Alright, Hermione. Let’s go talk to Professor McGonagall.”

They trooped up to the castle and marched to the professor’s office. Only to find she wasn’t in her office. They tried Snape’s office to find he wasn’t available either. They then tired Flitwick and Sprout and none of them were to be found.

“This is weird,” said Hermione.

“Think they might all be in a meeting?” asked Millicent.

“Probably. Does anyone know where the staff room is located?” asked Wednesday.

No one knew. “Well, nothing to do for it but wait for when they show up to dinner. Meanwhile we’ll search like we planned,” Harry instructed.

By dinner, they were only able to search about a quarter of the castle and were unable to find Daphne. Millicent and Wednesday met Harry and Hermione outside the great hall, waiting for the others.

“I don’t like this. The four of us will meet an hour after curfew by the kitchens tonight. Even if we find Daphne or convince a teacher, let’s meet to just make sure for ourselves. Millicent, since you dorm with Daphne, make sure to follow her if she shows up for dinner. You’re the only one that can enter the Slytherin dorms if she goes in there.”

A few minutes later the other searchers arrived and they headed into the great hall. All of the teachers were seated at the head table, except for Dumbledore. About ten minutes after dinner started, Daphne arrived and sat at the Slytherin table next to Tracy. The meal progressed normally.

After the meal, Harry and Hermione approached the head table to talk with Professor McGonagall.

“Professor, might we have a few minutes of your time?” requested Harry. “We need to discuss something of a delicate nature with you.”

McGonagall arched an eyebrow. “I see. Then shall we head to my office?” She led them through the castle to her office, and conjured a couple of chairs for them before sitting down in the chair behind her desk.

“What can I do for you, Mister Potter, Miss Granger?”

“We know about the Philosopher’s stone,” replied Hermione.

McGonagall appeared shocked at this revelation and before she could recover, Harry chimed in. “We believe someone is going to attempt to steal it tonight, since Professor Dumbledore is out of the castle.”

“How you two know of the stone, is beyond imagining as it is supposed to be a secret. I assure you it is quite well protected and you need not worry about someone trying to steal it.”

“We think most, if not all, of the obstacles have been compromised, Professor,” said Harry.

“And why would you think that?”

“Because I think the culprit has found a way to defeat the last obstacle.”

“And why do you believe that? Who do you think is the culprit?”

“Professor Quirrell,” Hermione said.

“Preposterous.”

“He’s possessed by Voldemort.” McGonagall flinched. Harry brought out his vial. “This has been vibrating on and off all year. Often in Professor Quirrell’s presence. I contacted Morticia about it, and she confirmed that this was most likely the case. Professor Dumbledore agrees with this assessment. Also, we believe that Professor Snape suspects Quirrell of wanting the steal the stone, but we don’t know if he is aware of the possession or not.”

To say the professor was gobsmacked would be an understatement.

“As to why we believe he has found a way around the last obstacle is that Professor Dumbledore has added a way to remove and trap Voldemort’s spirit. However, no one has seen Professor Binns for a while, and Daphne Greengrass has been acting a bit oddly today.”

“That seems rather tenuous at best. Professor Binns is usually indisposed after exams with grading.”

“I’ve been wondering about that. How does a ghost who can’t interact with physical objects grade exams?” inquired Harry.

“He has help, of course.”

“Ah.”

“Well, you’ve made some serious accusations. I will look into them, and see about setting up some additional security.”

“Thank you, Professor,” said Hermione as they stood up and left the office. They went to the owlery to send Hedwig with a message to Dumbledore regarding their suspicions.


Best Laid Plans


After curfew, Harry and Hermione snuck out of Gryffindor tower under his invisibility cloak. They met Wednesday by the kitchens, and she was eating some fruit pie with her rapier strapped to her waist. They waited for Millicent to show, and the hid under Harry’s cloak as two prefect patrols passed them. Finally Millicent came running down the corridor.

“Daphne left the dungeons. I followed as closely as I dared and she headed for the third floor corridor. We better hurry if we want to find out what’s happening.”

It was a tight fit under the cloak as they moved along to the third floor. When they got there they saw that both McGonagall and Snape were lying unconscious on the floor, looking rather ill, and the doorway to Fluffy was open.

Harry stuffed his cloak inside his robes. “Come one, we need to get them to the hospital wing then hurry back here to prevent the theft of the stone.”

Harry and Hermione carried McGonagall, while Wednesday and Millicent carried Snape to the Hospital wing. They placed them on empty beds and woke Madam Pomfrey to let her know. They left before they could be admonished for being out after curfew by the matron.

When they returned to the opened doorway, they crept inside to find Fluffy snoozing while a harp on the ground played music.

“Why is there a harp playing here,” queried Millicent.

“Because music puts Fluffy to sleep,” answered Harry.

They were about to open the trap door when the music stopped. Fluffy started to growl and snort as he awoke. Wednesday started softly singing, surprising everyone with her melodic voice.

“Right. I’ll go first, if everything’s fine, I’ll signal you to follow. Wednesday goes last, obviously,” instructed Harry.

Harry looked down the deep dark shaft and then jumped. He landed with a soft thump. He called up that it was a soft landing. Millicent came next, followed by Hermione who quickly slid off the soft material. The singing stopped and the growling started before Wednesday landed next to Harry.

“Lumos,” incanted Hermione.

“How fortunate. We get to play with a Devil’s Snare,” commented Wednesday, who started struggling.

“Don’t struggle! It will just constrict faster,” pointed out Millicent.

“Devil’s Snare… Devil’s Snare… It likes cold and damp... retreats from heat and light!”

“Great, Hermione. How about some fire?”

“There isn’t any wood!” exclaimed a panicking Hermione.

“Hermione! You have a wand! Use it!” urged Millicent.

“Oh! Right.” Flushing with embarrassment Hermione cast her spell for blue bell flames, driving back the dangerous plant.

“Drat. I was having fun,” complained Wednesday.

“Sorry, Wednesday,” consoled Harry, “but we are in a bit of a hurry.”

They left and followed a downward sloping hallway. It was damp and cold and vaguely reminded Harry of Gringotts. He hoped there weren’t any dragons down here. A sound of fluttering and clinking eventually reached their ears.

“Shh. Do you hear that?” asked Hermione.

The others nodded, and they approached cautiously. The hall opened up into a brightly lit chamber full of what looked like glittering birds flying around the room near the ceiling.

“Do you think they’ll attack?” asked Millicent.

“One way to find out.” Harry dashed across the room with one arm protecting his face. He reached the other door without being attacked. The door, however was locked. The others crossed the chamber to help with opening the door, but no such luck. The door was resistant to Hermione’s unlocking charm, and Wednesday’s attempts to pick the lock.

The glittering birds caught Harry’s attention again.

“Keys! Flying keys! One of those must open the door. And there are brooms here so we’ll have to fly and catch it.”

“Good work, Harry,” said Millicent. “Might be an old fashioned silver key to match the lock.”

When Harry mounted a broom, the keys started darting and diving all over and a greatly increased speed. Harry urged everyone to get on a broom. Once they were all airborne, they started searching for the key. Finally Harry spotted it.

“There it is,” he said pointing at it. “No, that one there, with the blue wings. One of the wings looks a bit crumpled.” He tried chasing it, but it kept diving out of his way, pulling feints that would cause him to nearly crash into the walls.

“Harry, you go for the key, while Millicent and I flank it from above, and Hermione blocks it from below.”

“Right,” Harry replied to Wednesday. After several attempts getting coordinated, Harry finally caught the key.

“You’re an amazing flyer, Harry. You should try out for quidditch. You would make a good seeker.”

“Thanks, Millicent.” Harry handed the key to Hermione who opened the door. The hallway beyond was dark, so with lighted wands they continued forward.

The next chamber was quite dark until they were all in the room, then bright lights lit the room. The room contained statues made of either white or black stone.

“It’s a chess set,” said Wednesday.

Millicent went up to the black queen and asked, “In order to pass, do we need to play to cross the room?”

The black queen nodded.

“Do we need to take the places of pieces on the board?”

The black queen nodded again.

Millicent stood deep in thought. After a while she said, “We need to be careful with this, as I don’t know how good my opponent will be. If we all want to cross, we need to be pieces, which means each person will be at risk. Does anyone want to go back now?”

No one did. “Then, Harry, take the place of the king. Wednesday, take the queen’s bishop, Hermione, take the king’s castle, and I’ll take the king’s knight.” The specified pieces moved off the board, with the king leaving the throne on the board and his crown on the thrown for Harry to occupy, and the knight leaving the horse for Millicent to mount. “Now we wait for white to make the first move.”

Harry thought there had to be a password to get past this obstacle, but none of them knew it.

Millicent directed the game masterfully. Near the end though, something had to give, and she was spending a lot of time in thought.

“You have to, Millicent. It’s the only way.”

“Only way to what, Wednesday?” asked Harry.

“To win. She needs to be captured in order for the game to be won.”

“No! You can’t, Millicent! White has been viciously attacking black. You could be killed!” cried Hermione.

“Don’t move!” commanded Millicent, as Hermione started to move out of her square. “She’s right, it’s the only way. After I move and draw the queen out of position and get captured, Hermione, you need to move five squares forward to check the black King. Then after the black king moves, Wednesday needs to move three squares diagonally right for check mate.”

“Be careful, Millicent.”

“I will, Harry.”

Millicent moved, to check the white king, and then the white queen slid across the board entering Millicent’s square, where the queen’s mace swung down towards Millicent. Hermione screamed and covered her face. Millicent jumped from the horse just in time to avoid taking a direct hit in the head, and threw up her arms to protect her head. The mace clipped her in the temple instead and she fell to the ground unconscious. The white queen then drug Millicent and the stone horse off the board and returned to her place.

Hermione was softly crying when Wednesday said, “Hermione, you need to move now. Otherwise her sacrifice was in vain.”

Hermione shuffled forward to check the white king. The king moved aside, only for Wednesday to follow up for checkmate. The white king set his crown on the ground.

The three rushed to Millicent’s side, and noticed the nasty gash at the side of her head. Hermione ripped off a the sleeve to Millicent’s shirt and made a make shift bandage to staunch the bleeding.

“Help me pick her up,” said Wednesday. “We can’t leave her here alone.”

Harry assisted Wednesday, and they both draped one of Millicent’s arms over their shoulders and drug the tall girl along with them. As they walked down the hallway, a horrid smell reached their noses. The closer they got to the next chamber, the worse the horrible stench became. They were almost gagging by the time they reached the chamber to see a troll with a bleeding lump on its head starting to stand up.

“Hermione, take my place. Well never cross the chamber in time without someone to distract the troll,” commanded Wednesday. “This is going to be fun.”

Hermione took over dragging Millicent along when Wednesday leapt forward drawing her rapier. “Hello, tall, dark and ugly. Time for you to learn how to dance.”

Wednesday darted in and out poking the troll with her rapier, stabbing it’s very tough hide with the very sharp point. She was causing enough pain to keep the troll from grabbing its club.

“I think that one is bigger than the one we fought on Halloween.”

“You fought, Harry. I didn’t contribute anything to its defeat.”

“Sure you did. You kept distracting it, too. Now let’s see if we can quietly cross the room without attracting its attention.”

Once they got across the room and through the next door, Harry called out over the din of the roaring troll, “We’re across! You can stop playing with the troll now!”

“Keep going! This is going to take a while,” Wednesday hollered back.

“We’re just going to leave her?” asked Hermione.

“Yes. She said she had it in hand, and I trust her to know her limits. She is an Addams. I doubt something like a mountain troll can kill her. Besides, she’s having fun, and I know better than to get between Wednesday and fun.”

They moved down the hall to then next room when upon entering, flames erupted from the doorway going back and the doorway going forward. The flames were not normal, as the ones behind them were purple, and the ones ahead were black. The room had a long table in it with seven bottles of varying sizes and shapes. Harry set Millicent down gently against the wall.

“This must be Snape’s,” Harry commented.

“It’s brilliant. It’s a logic problem. Something many wizards seem to have issues with is logic. Give me a moment to read through the clue.”

Harry was thinking that the last room had to be Dumbledore’s. Hopefully the trap worked, but he doubted it, since Quirrell brought Daphne along.

“I’ve got it! The smallest one allows you to move forward, the rounded one on the right lets you go back.”

“There’s only enough left for one of us to go forward, Hermione. You take the one to go back and give some to Millicent. Drag her back and wait for Wednesday. Use the invisibility cloak to hide. Then take Millicent to the hospital wing.”

“Harry, You-Know-Who is in there!”

“I know. I got lucky once, maybe I’ll get lucky again. I just need to hold out until Dumbledore arrives. I know I’m not match for him.”

Hermione trembled, then lunged at him and embracing him in a tight hug. “You’re a great wizard, Harry.”

“Not as good as you.”

“No, you’re better than me. You are actually capable of working with advanced magic.”

“You drink first, Hermione.”

Hermione did so, and Harry helped her get Millicent to drink, then assisted getting Millicent as far to the doorway as he could. He watched Hermione drag his friend through the purple flames.

Turning back to the table, he took the small bottle and drank it down. It felt like ice was pouring through his veins. He walked forward through the black fire, hoping to find Voldemort trapped but suspecting otherwise.

Chapter Text

The Face of Evil

 

Harry stepped into the chamber, to see the turbaned Quirrell examining the Mirror of Erised and muttering to himself. Behind the mirror was a softly glowing white light that must be coming from the spirit container that was meant to house Voldemort’s soul. Trapped, suspended in the center of the room was Daphne, hovering in a horizontal position, looking deathly pale. Harry couldn’t stop himself from blurting out “Daphne!”

Quirrell spun around. “Ah, Potter. I wondered if I would see you down here.”

“What have you done to Daphne?”

“Oh, I would be less concerned about her, and more concerned about yourself.” With a snap of Quirrell’s fingers, Harry felt ropes that appeared out of nowhere wrap themselves tightly around him. “Now be quiet, I need to concentrate.” With that, he turned around to continue examining the mirror.

“How did you come to host Voldemort?”

Quirrell flinched. “Do not speak the Dark Lord’s name, Potter! As to how, I traveled over the summer when I stumbled across him. I was naïve with foolish ideas of good and evil. My master has since taught me there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”

“I see the stuttering was an act.”

“Of course. Who would suspect a p-p-poor st-stuttering p-professor? Now be quiet.” Quirrell continued to examine the mirror. “The stone must be in the mirror… do I break the mirror?”

Harry started looking at the magic in the room, and realized that the mirror was different than the last time he saw it. The new magic must be the stone’s. He started to shuffle over, in order to see into the mirror. Right now his greatest desire was to save Daphne.

“I see myself making gold and elixir from the stone, but how do I get it? Master, help me!”

From Quirrell, Harry heard another, hollow, raspy voice say, “Use the boy…” and felt the vial around his neck vibrate.

“Potter, come here!” Quirrell clapped his hands and the ropes around him fell away into nothingness. Harry walked towards the mirror, very afraid.

“Tell me what you see.”

Harry looked into the mirror, and saw himself, pale and scared. Then he saw his reflection mouth some words, in what Harry thought to be Greek, grab the spirit container, and open it. When the white mist came out of the jar, his reflection inhaled it, then went over to Daphne and mouthed a few more words in Greek before kissing Daphne. Harry saw life return to Daphne in the mirror.

“Well?! What do you see?! Tell me, or I’ll kill the girl.” insisted Quirrell.

Harry did his best to remember his Occlumency, and said, “I see myself giving the stone to you. And then you leaving the chamber.”

“Bah! Get out of the way.” Harry stumbled towards the back of the mirror.

The other voice said, “He lies…” Harry was already gotten behind the mirror to the container, and in Greek said, “Open and release your prisoner.”

He inhaled the white vapor as it exited the jar. Quirrell came around the mirror. “Come back here—what are you doing?”

Harry then lurched at Daphne, whispered more Greek, “Receive your spirit, and release the stranger.” He then kissed Daphne and felt the mist leave his body. Daphne took a deep, shuddering breath, before exhaling. Her exhale had a silvery mist emanating from it. Daphne then floated to the floor as the form of Professor Binns took shape out of the silvery mist.

“Tell me what you saw, Potter!” Quirrell was pointing his wand at Daphne now.

“I saw how to revive Daphne!”

“Pathetic. Now we will look in the mirror again, and you will tell me what you see!” Quirrell pointed his wand at Harry directing him to the front of the mirror. Harry really wanted to keep the stone away from Quirrell. And Harry saw Quirrell breaking the mirror, then crying in anguish.

Harry steeled himself again, pushing a different stream of thought to the forefront and said in a defeated voice, “I see myself breaking the mirror, picking up the stone, and giving it to you.”

“I see.”

“He lies again…,” said the raspy voice. “Let me… speak to him...”

“M-Master, you are not strong enough.”

“I am strong enough… for this.”

Binns floated through the ceiling while Quirrell started unwrapping his turban. When the turban was undone and on the floor, he turned around showing Harry another face. A face that was white and scaly, with red eyes and slits for nostrils. Harry wanted to scream, but could not find his voice. However, Daphne, who had regained consciousness, did scream before promptly passing out on the floor.

“Harry Potter… So nice to meet you. Do you see… what I’ve become? Smoke and shadow… unless I have… a host to support me. Quirrell has been… drinking unicorn blood… to sustain my strength. I did not die. I cannot die. I will come… back to power. There is no reason for you to die… save yourself and join me… just tell me what… you saw in the mirror.”

“No! I will not help you!”

“I admire bravery. I loathe the foolish. Do not be foolish… like your parents. They died begging for mercy…”

“They did not!”

“How touching… Your parents were brave, and foolish. Your father died first… he fought courageously. Your mother… needn’t have died, if she… had stopped protecting you. Now, assist Quirrell… or watch the girl die.”

“No! Because you’ll kill us anyway!”

“Then die…”

Quirrell turned to point his wand at Daphne. “Avada—“

Harry jumped at Quirrell, grabbing the man’s wand hand and Voldemort’s face. Quirrell’s spell was interrupted by his screaming in agony. Voldemort screamed through the agony “Kill them! Kill them!”

Pain was building in Harrys hands, and the vial around his neck was vibrating so hard he thought it would break. Harry held on, keeping the wand from pointing at Daphne, while Quirrell’s flesh continued to blister. Eventually the pain for Harry was overwhelming. He remained conscious enough to see the smoke and shadows of Voldemort leave Quirrell’s body before he collapsed into unconsciousness.


Once Again In the Infirmary


Harry awoke with a gasp and tried to sit upright, but lacked the strength to do so.

“Best to remain laying down, Harry,” said the familiar voice of Dumbledore.

“But sir, the stone—“

“The stone is safe. Please relax before Madam Pomfrey throws me out.”

Harry looked around and realized he was in the hospital wing again. He noticed the side table beside him was stacked high with candy.

“Tokens from your friends and admirers,” said Dumbledore. “What happened between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret, so naturally, the whole castle knows. I understand that Misters Fred and George Weasley tried to send you a toilet seat. They obviously thought it would amuse you. I believe Madam Pomfrey felt it might not be very hygienic, and confiscated it.”

“How are Daphne and Millicent?”

“Miss Bulstrode has recovered and been released. Miss Greengrass is still resting and is asleep right now, under the effects of a dreamless sleep potion.”

“And Wednesday and Hermione?”

“They are well.”

“And Professors McGonagall and Snape? What did Professor Quirrell do to them?”

“They are also well, and were released yesterday. He cursed them so that a simple enervation spell wouldn’t be sufficient to rouse them. How do you feel, Harry?”

“Like a lorry ran me down. How long have I been out?”

“Three days. You were magically exhausted.”

“What happened to Voldemort?”

“He has left the area, having returned to his wraith form.”

“And Professor Quirrell?”

“Alas, he has succumbed to his wounds. I am sorry to say I was not able to get him to the infirmary in time to save him. It is probably a blessing, as I understand there was evidence that he drank unicorn’s blood. Death may be more merciful than living with that curse.”

“Did Hedwig find you?”

“No, we must have passed each other. I realized while I was in London, that the place I needed to be was here.”

“When did you arrive, sir?”

“In time to pull you off Quirinus before you did yourself physical harm. I was afraid I might have been too late.”

“What about the stone? Why couldn’t Voldemort get it out of the mirror?”

“Ah. Of that little trick, I’m quite proud. One of my more clever ideas, and between you and me, that is saying something. Only those that wanted to find the stone—find it but not use it—would be able to take the stone from the mirror.”

“That explains why I saw Quirrell breaking the mirror then howling in agony. I desperately wanted to keep Voldemort from getting the stone. I wasn’t trying to find it. How is Professor Binns?”

“He is as well as a ghost can be. What can you tell me about what happened?”

“Well, when I heard that both Daphne and Professor Binns couldn’t be located for most of a day, and that Daphne had been acting odd, I surmised that Voldemort had somehow discovered the spirit trap, and forced Binns to possess Daphne. When Millicent told me that Daphne had left for the third floor I knew that he must have found a way to control Daphne and was going to use her and Professor Binns to spring your trap.

“When I got to the final chamber, Daphne was floating and looking very pale, and the spirit jar was glowing white. The first time Quirrell had me look in the mirror, the mirror showed me reviving Daphne. When I got the chance, I did just that. I inhaled the mist from the spirit jar, in Greek commanded her body to accept her spirit and release Binns. Then I kissed her, and her spirit left me and went into her, and Professor Binns spirit escaped.

“When Quirrell tried to kill Daphne, I jumped on him to disrupt his aim. I didn’t let go, and then I passed out. You know the rest.”

“Thank you, Harry. I don’t think Miss Greengrass’ soul was supposed to end up in the spirit jar, but the intent was for Professor Binns as the possessing entity to end up in it. I supposed the forced nature of the possession and whatever else Voldemort did to Daphne is responsible. You saved her life, as I doubt a ghost could have kept her body alive for long.”

“Sir, what’s going to happen to the Stone now?”

“I’ve talked it over with Nicolas, and it has been destroyed. The Flamels have enough elixir to put their affairs in order.”

“That’s horrible.”

“It might seem that way to you, but for Nicolas and Perenelle, it will be like going to sleep after a very long day. Remember, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. Now, enough questions. I suggest you make a start on these sweets. Ah! Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit flavored one, and I’m afraid since then I’ve rather lost my liking for them. But I think I’ll be safe with a nice toffee, don’t you?”

He smiled and pulled a golden-brown bean from the box and popped it in his mouth. Then he choked and said, “Alas! Ear wax.”

After the Headmaster left, Harry convinced Madam Pomfrey to allow Hermione, Wednesday and Millicent to visit for a few minutes. They quietly discussed what had happened in the absences of the others, with the upcoming deaths of the Flamels being lamented. Wednesday’s lament was that it wouldn’t be a surprise to the ancient couple. At his behest, they took some of his enormous amount of candies as they left.

Harry noticed Hedwig outside the window, and waved at her. She hooted back a greeting. Harry then meditated a bit before going back to sleep.

After a good night’s sleep, Harry was feeling almost good as new. He was reviewing his I.P.s when he noticed a rather large discrepancy.

‘Stheno, did I achieve any milestones when I was unconscious?’

‘Yes, Harry, you did. Five to be exact. Rescuing a second damsel, receiving another life debt, defeating a wizard, defeating a dark lord, and saving a ghost.’

Harry groaned. ‘Wonderful. I wonder what that’s done to my rate of lust gain. Wait. Saving a ghost? Ghosts can be saved?’

‘Yes. A ghost who is unwillingly possessing someone is in danger of dissipating. And I believe that ghost – Binns was it? – stayed where he was in order to keep the young woman alive for as long as possible.’

‘So how did I get a life debt if a ghost was helping to keep her alive?’

‘Only the living can gain a life debt, mortal Harry. He needed to be rescued as well. Had he been living, you would have gained two life debts.’

Harry dug into the rewards. Much like with Hermione, there was a raise to his minimum lust, and an increase in his lust gain for the life debt. The defeat of a wizard had some gain in I.P.s, as well as a fractional boost to magical power, and a boost to lust gain. The defeat of a dark lord was a significant gain in I.P.s, another raise in his minimum lust, another raise in his lust gain, and another boost to his magical power. It also opened up some rewards that were unique to the milestone, and Harry would need to dig through them later to determine if he wanted any of them. Only one of them was time sensitive. For saving the ghost, he got a few I.P.s and a unique static reward applied called ‘Ghost Lover’.

Ghost Lover would allow him to take a single ghost as a member of his harem, and allow him to physically interact with said ghost at certain times of the year. Apparently it could be taken multiple times, but it was quite expensive. He would have to determine which ghost, if any, to attach to the reward. On the off chance he decided to do so in the future, Harry made the reward permanent.

The time sensitive one, Harry investigated immediately as he only had another twelve hours to accept it before it was locked. It was called ‘Ritual Adept’ and it would give him an instinctive feel for rituals, make mastering rituals easier, make the rituals more powerful, and allow him to adjust his rituals on the fly. Harry didn’t know if he’d ever learn ritual magic, but having been part of one ritual, and the fact that it made mastering them easier, he decided to take the reward and make it permanent and hereditary.

Harry was told by Madam Pomfrey that he could attend the end of year feast, but was on bed rest until then. During the day, Hagrid came in to visit him and burst into tears blaming himself for Quirrell getting past Fluffy and nearly getting Harry and Daphne killed.

Harry assured him it wasn’t his fault since it was Voldemort, who would have found a way around Fluffy eventually. Harry also asked as side note if Hagrid knew how to adopt a familiar where the owner died. Hagrid said that he didn’t know as most familiars never bond with a second wizard. He did have some ideas where to look though, and would do so over the summer.

Hagrid then gave Harry a present of a photo album of his parents before leaving. Harry insisted that Hagrid take some chocolate with him when he left, and then spent the rest of the afternoon looking through the leather bound album.

Just before Madam Pomfrey released Harry and Daphne, Daphne got out of bed and approached him. She was nervously twisting a strand of her long curly black hair.

“Harry?”

Harry looked up from the photo album. “Yes, Daphne?”

“Thank you for saving me.” Suddenly she leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. She stood back up blushing and returned to her bed.

“You’re welcome.”

Harry got a chime from his A.R.M. The kiss signified his relationship with Daphne had entered a new stage.

After being released by Madam Pomfrey, Harry walked into the great hall to see the walls decorated in Slytherin colors, with the students at the Slytherin table looking quite smug. All conversation stopped when he arrived, and after a few minutes of silence, conversation started bubbling up all over the hall. As Harry took his seat, some people around the hall were standing up to get a better look at him. Fortunately the headmaster arrived moments later.

“Another year gone! And what a year it has been. And I must trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into the delicious feast. Hopefully, your heads are a little fuller than when you arrived, and you have the holidays to empty them a bit before the next year.

“And we have the house cup to award,” at this the Slytherin table clapped and pounded. “Yes, yes, well done Slytherin. However we have a few last minute points to award.” This caused the Slytherins to look uneasy.

“In fourth place we have Hufflepuff with three hundred ninety-seven points. In third, Gryffindor with four hundred twelve points. In second place, Ravenclaw with four hundred twenty-six points. And in first we have Slytherin, with four-hundred seventy-two points.

“First – to Wednesday Addams, for loyalty to the cause and besting a troll single-handedly, I award sixty points to Hufflepuff House.” The Hufflepuffs cheered and would have hugged Wednesday, except they knew she’s react violently to such invasion of her personal space.

“Second – to Millicent Bulstrode, for the best played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Slytherin House fifty points.” The Slytherin table erupted in cheers.

“Third – to Hermione Granger, for the use of cool logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor House fifty points.” Hermione buried her face in her arms. Harry suspected she had just burst into tears. Gryffindors were beside themselves.

“And finally, to Harry Potter, for pure nerve, outstanding courage and a perspicacity beyond his years, sixty points.”

As the hourglasses adjusted themselves the rankings change to Ravenclaw in last place with four hundred-twenty six, Hufflepuff with four-hundred forty-seven, and tied for first, Gryffindor and Slytherin with five hundred twenty-two each. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor tables were loudly cheering the tie for first.

“It has been quite some time since we’ve had a tied score for the House Cup. So, as tradition dictates, we will have a quiz-contest. Gryffindor and Slytherin Houses will select three participants for each year, for a total of twenty one contestants. The quiz will start with one person each from the seventh year. The first to ring the bell gets to answer. If they answer incorrectly, the other contestant gets to answer. Each correct answer grants one point to the House. Each professor will take a turn posing a question. Since our Defense teacher is indisposed, I will be asking questions in his place. When your selections are made, contestants from Gryffindor will line up on my right, and contestants from Slytherin will line up on my left. Line up seventh years first, descending in years. You have ten minutes to make your selections.”

The noise level rose significantly as people were chosen for each house. Percy, Fred and George were chosen for their years, along with Angelina Johnson. For the first years it was Hermione, Harry, and Lily Moon. For the Slytherin first years it was Draco, Pansy, and Daphne. Harry wondered if they were chosen for their grades, or their ranking in the Slytherin hierarchy.

Once everyone was settled, the professors started asking questions. “What is the color of the pedipalps in the female acromantula,” or “What are the ingredients for Felix Felicis potion,” or “Where would you find the star Vega on the Vernal Equinox” were just a few of the questions asked to the upper years.

When it came to the first years, the score was seven for Gryffindor and eight for Slytherin, with three questions where no one answered correctly. Harry was up next, and so was Draco.

McGonagall asked the question, “What is the name of the person who defined the Law of Elemental Transfiguration?”

Malfoy rung in before McGonagall had finished the question, which appeared to be the Slytherin tactic. He responded “Hester Gamp.”

“Incorrect, Mister Malfoy. Mister Potter?”

“Hesper Gamp.”

“Correct. One point to Gryffindor.” Draco looked peeved that he missed the answer by one consonant. The score was now eight to eight.

Hermione and Pansy were up next. Their question was asked by Professor Sprout. “What is the first rule of Greenhouse Safety?”

Hermione rang the bell before Pansy. “Always wear the appropriate protective clothing.”

“Correct.” Now the score was nine to eight, and it was Lily’s and Daphne’s turn. The last question, which could result in a tie, or a Gryffindor win.

It was Dumbledore’s turn to pose a question. “What specific environmental conditions are the primary habitats for Grindylows?”

Daphne rang in first and guessed, “Fresh water.”

“Miss Moon?”

“Underwater caves?”

“Neither answer is correct. The correct answer is kelp beds.”

Gryffindor exploded in noise as they had one the House Cup by one point. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff cheered as well. It had been a few years since a house other than Slytherin won the house cup. Snape congratulated McGonagall with a handshake and a tight smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

“It seems a change in decorations is in order,” announced Dumbledore. He clapped his hands twice, and the colors instantly changed from green and silver to red and gold, and food appeared on the tables.

Harry thought this might be the best day of the entire year.


Home Again, Home Again…


The next day exam results were handed out at breakfast. Harry did extremely well, only to come in second behind Hermione by a slim margin. His practicals were better, but her written exams were better (one hundred twelve percent on Charms!) so she edged him out. While Harry might read faster, Hermione wrote faster and therefore could impart more information in a limited amount of time.

In addition to exam results was a letter reminding the students that magic was forbidden during the holidays. Fred and George had hoped the teachers might forget those pesky reminders this year.

Hedwig delivered a message to Harry from the headmaster during breakfast. Harry chatted with her a bit before letting her know that he would meet her back at the Dursley’s.

Harry arrived in the headmaster’s office after breakfast.

“Hello, Harry, come in.”

“Hello, Professor Albus,” Harry said with a cheeky smile, to which Dumbledore chuckled. “And hello, Fawkes.”

Fawkes trilled back, “Hello, youngling.”

“You wanted to see me sir?”

“Yes, it is about your living arrangements for the summer. Because of the blood wards, you must return to the Dursleys.”

“I know, sir. But I don’t have to stay there the entire summer. I would like to visit my cousins and some of my friends during the holidays.”

“I see. Well, that shouldn’t be a problem as your cousins have bought a house here in England, and to my understanding have moved into the premises for the summer. I feel much better allowing you to visit them if you don’t have to leave the country.”

“Ah, so you are my magical guardian.”

“Did I not tell you about that? I am sorry if I failed to mention it.”

“I suspected, but didn’t know. I understand from Morticia that I really only need to spend a day or two with the Dursleys in order to charge the wards.”

“About that, I would feel better if it were six weeks.”

“I’m afraid I will have to disagree with you. The Dursleys do not want me there, and I would rather not be there any longer than necessary.”

“You may find that is no longer true, Harry, and I would like for you to give your family a chance.”

“Sir, they are my relatives, not my family. I was never family to them, and they haven’t been family in my mind since I was six, and I realized that other children weren’t treated as I was by their families.”

“I must apologize again for not checking up on you more often. But without the vase, and with the blood wards corrected, I am certain you will find things have changed.”

“Four days.”

“Four days?”

“I’ll give them twice as long as it will take to charge the wards.”

“I must insist it is longer than that, Harry. Would you accept four weeks?”

“One week. That’s more of a chance than they deserve, Professor.”

“Really, Harry? I have been in contact with your aunt since the vase was removed. She is struggling to reconcile the behavior of her family and herself. I believe it is necessary that they be given time to adjust and find a new balance in your relationship.”

“Then why haven’t they written me any letters during the year, aside from a note during Christmas?”

“As I said, they are struggling. It is also the first year you have been away, and you haven’t written them any letters, either. Or am I misinformed?”

“I’m not staying there that long. I refuse to be made to slave around the house doing chores all day.”

“I’m sure it won’t come to that, Harry. How about three weeks?”

“Two weeks. If it goes alright, I’ll consider staying longer next summer.”

Dumbledore sighed. “A fortnight, then. And please give them a fair chance. Changing your ways after ten years can be difficult.”

“Alright, I will. One other thing, Professor. Is there a ward preventing me from receiving mail?”

“Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Well, if I am famous, shouldn’t I have been getting mail from people? And wouldn’t friends of my parents have been sending me Christmas or birthday cards? How will my friends be able to send me letters through the summer?”

“Ah, I see your point. Once you accepted your school letter, those you consider friends will have their mail delivered directly. That Addams family is an example. Those using a school owl, will be delivered to you. Otherwise your owl has to bring you the mail. The other exception will be some Ministry and other official correspondence.”

“What happened to all the mail that wasn’t delivered?”

“Well, either the owls refused to deliver it, or it was eventually returned with the owl. To your parent’s friends, I had sent out notifications that all mail was being returned for your protection. All official communication, such as letters from Gringotts, or the Ministry, came to me as your magical guardian.”

“When will the ward be lifted?”

“Ideally, when you have graduated Hogwarts, and then we will discuss if you wish to continue warding against unsolicited mail. Anything else?”

“Yes, Professor. Do you know if I had godparents?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Who were they?”

“You have a godmother named Alice Longbottom, who was a very close friend to your mother. And a godfather named Sirius Black who was like a brother to your father.”

“Why couldn’t they take me in after my parents died?”

“This is quite a painful subject. Are you sure you want to hear it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well then. To start with, the reason Alice Longbottom couldn’t take you in is the same reason that Neville lives with his grandmother. Those circumstances are not mine to tell. I ask that you do not pester Neville about them either. As to Sirius Black, he betrayed the hiding location of your parents to Voldemort, then tracked down another friend of his, Peter Pettigrew. He killed Peter and twelve muggles who were in the vicinity. He’s been in Azkaban since.”

“I’ve read about Sirius Black, Professor.”

“You have?” asked a surprised Dumbledore.

“Yes. Since I found out about the prophecy, I’ve been reading old Daily Prophets regarding the time before and after my parents death. The one thing that struck me odd about Sirius Black was he was the only Death Eater whose trial was never mentioned in the paper. All the other suspected and guilty Death Eaters had their trials publicized. Was there some secret court for his conviction?”

Dumbledore looked thoughtful. “There shouldn’t have been a reason for a secret session. I was dealing with I.C.W. affairs when that trail should have taken place. Now that you mention it, I only heard he was convicted. Usually there would have been gossip about what came out during the trial, or how the accused responded to questioning. I don’t remember anything like that happening.”

“Could I see a transcript of the trial, sir? It would probably help me find some closure with my parent’s deaths.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Harry.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Have a good holiday break, Harry. Remember to give your relatives a chance.”

“You too, Professor, and I will.”

By ten o’clock, all the wardrobes were emptied and trunks were packed and delivered to the train. The first years were met by Hagrid and taken to the fleet of boats for the ride back across the lake to the station.

By eleven o’clock, all the students were on board and the train left the station. Harry, Wednesday, Hermione, Neville, Lily, Daphne, Tracy and Millicent shared a compartment. The Patil twins, the Weasley twins, Susan, Hannah, Ron, Lavender, and a few others came by to chat for a bit, and promise to exchange mail through the summer. Harry never had so many people interested in being his friends before, and so it was somewhat overwhelming.

He exchanged phone numbers with those in the compartment, but Neville and Daphne didn’t have phones nor knew what they were. Harry made sure everyone knew how to get mail through to muggle addresses without an owl going all the way to the destination. Somewhat slower, but less likely to draw notice when communicating with those that lived in mundane neighborhoods. Apparently this was not common knowledge among wizards and witches. And the reverse was true, as there was a special way of addressing mundane mail to a magical address. He also let them know that he was only staying with the Dursleys for two weeks.

Neville and Harry discussed sharing a birthday party, and decided that if his grandmother was amenable, that the joint birthday party would be held on the thirtieth at Neville’s home. They then agreed on who to invite, pending approval of Madam Longbottom.

After exiting the train with their trunks, and having several people say, “Have a good summer, Potter,” and “See you in September, Harry,” he made his way with Wednesday to meet her family.

“Mother, Father. It is good to see you again,” said Wednesday cordially, while giving her parents a hug.

“Cousin Harry, so good to see you!” exclaimed Gomez. “Will you be allowed to visit us this summer? We’ve got a house in Surrey! You’ll visit, won’t you?”

“Hello, Gomez, Morticia. That’s great! My relatives live in Surrey. I’ve only got to be with them for two weeks this holiday. If I could, I’d like to stay with you until school starts up again.”

“We’d be delighted, wouldn’t we ‘Tish?”

“Yes, we would. We’ll pick you up in two weeks at noon.”

“Thank you. I’d better go and meet them.”

“Well go out with you and formally meet them as well.”

They left through the gateway, in small groups in order to avoid the attention of the non-magicals in the station. Harry first came across the Weasleys.

“Mum, there he is. I can see—“

“Hush, Ginny. And it’s rude to point.”

“Hello. Are you Mrs. Weasley?”

“Yes dear. How are you?”

“I’m Harry Potter, and I'm well, thank you. I see you are waiting on your sons.”

“Yes, we are.”

“Well, I see my relatives over there, so I shouldn’t keep you. I did want to let you know that Neville Longbottom and I are planning a joint birthday party, and plan on inviting Fred, George and Ron. And we can probably squeeze in room for Ginny,” Harry said with a wink. “We need to get Madam Longbottom’s approval of course, so nothing is final yet. I just thought I’d let you know.”

“Why, thank you, Mister Potter.”

“Have a good day, Mrs. Weasley.”

The Addamses caught up to Harry and approached the Dursleys. Vernon looked put out, Petunia looked pensive, and Dudley looked scared.

“Are you ready, boy?”

“Almost, Uncle Vernon. I’d like you to meet my cousins from America, Gomez, Morticia, and Wednesday Addams. Gomez, Morticia, and Wednesday, please meet my Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and my cousin Dudley.”

Gomez hopped over to Vernon, and pumped his hand. “Glad to meet another cousin, old boy! Have a cigar,” he said effervescently, stuffing the cigar in Vernon’s coat pocket.

Morticia glided over to Petunia, who was staring aghast with recognition at Gomez. “Hello, Petunia, please, call me Morticia. Thank you for letting us spend the summer with Harry. We’ll come by and pick him up in two weeks.”

“Two weeks?”

“Yes. We want to get to know him. We welcome you and your family as well if you wish to visit. We’d like to get to know you better, too.”

“Um, I’ll have to discuss it with Vernon.”

Wednesday approached Dudley, and said, “Hello, cousin.”

Dudley looked panicked, but said, “Hello. You aren’t my cousin though.”

“I assure you I am. Distantly related, but still related.”

“I’m very sorry,” Vernon said loudly, “But we must be going. We have a tight schedule to keep.”

“Alas, we only just started talking. We’ll have to have you over for supper someday soon,” said Gomez.

“Come along, boy. Don’t dawdle.”

“Bye cousins,” said Harry and he waved at them.

A large black car, of a style from the nineteen forties, being driven by Lurch pulled up to the Addams family as the Dursleys and Harry left.

On the way back to Number Four, Privet Drive, Harry was idly looking through information in his A.R.M. while ignoring the mutterings of Uncle Vernon.

‘Stheno?’ Harry asked with a shaky mental voice.

‘Yes, royal mortal?’

‘Why does my Player Identifying Information state my age as eleven and forty-one?’


End

Chapter Text

Harry Potter’s P.I.I. & P.I.S.C.I.S. End of Year One


Player Identifying Information (P.I.I.)

Player number: 1000

            Bonus for being Player 1000: 5 times the standard I.P. rewards and 100 times the starting I.P.s and 21 (instead of 10) rewards to choose from at the end of the tutorial.

Application Date of Player Creation: July 31st, 1991, 7:13 p.m.
Player Name: Harry James Potter
Known Titles: Heir of House Potter
Aliases: Boy; Freak; Weirdo
Appellations: The Boy Who Lived; Savior of the Wizarding World; Defeater of He Who Must Not Be Named; Vanquisher of the Dark Lord; The Chosen One; The Criminally Insane Relative of the Dursleys
Age: Eleven years, ten months, fourteen days / Forty-One years, eleven months, twenty-six days
Father’s Name: James Potter (Deceased)
Mother’s Name: Lily Potter (Nee Evans) (Deceased)

            Current Residence:
            #4 Privet Drive
            Smallest Bedroom
            Little Whinging,
            Surrey, U.K.

Current Guardians:

            Vernon Dursley, Uncle through marriage (non-magical), age 36
            Petunia Dursley, Aunt through maternal blood line (minimal magic potential), age 34

Astrological Data:

            Sun: Leo – 24 degrees, 8 minutes
            Moon: Pisces – 28 degrees, 15 minutes
            Mercury: Cancer – 19 degrees, 32 minutes
            Venus: Gemini – 25 degrees, 32 minutes
            Mars: Libra – 12 degrees, 01 minute
            Jupiter: Virgo – 11 degrees, 32 minutes
            Saturn: Virgo – 24 degrees, 0 minutes
            Uranus: Scorpio – 21 degrees, 29 minutes
            Neptune: Sagittarius – 20 degrees, 9 minutes, retrograde

Distinguishing Features:

            Perpetually Messy Hair
            Runic Curse Scar:

                      Location: Forehead
                      Shape: Bolt of Lightning
                      Rune name: Sowilo or Sigil

            Current Familiars:

                      First Familiar:

                                Name: Hedwig
                                Species: Owl, Snowy, Magical
                                Gender: Female
                                Numerical Age: 1 years, ten months, fourteen days
                                Maturity: Post-pubescence
                                Age of Familiar Bond: ten months, fourteen days
                                Depth of Familiar Bond: Empathic
                                Notes: Exceptionally Intelligent; Bond Completed, level three.

             

            P.I.S.C.U.S. (Physical Indices, Skills Codex, Intrinsic Summary)

            Physical Indices

            P.I. Ratings: (F) = Feeble, (P) = Poor, (T) = Typical, (G) = Good, (E) = Excellent, (R) = Remarkable, (I) = Incredible, (A) = Amazing, (M) = Monstrous

            Strength: T (unaltered)
            Dexterity: R (unaltered)
            Agility: R (unaltered)
            Constitution: R (unaltered)
            Endurance: E (unaltered)
            Intelligence: R (unaltered)
            Willpower: I (unaltered)
            Presence: G (unaltered)
            Libido: E (altered by rewards from quests and intrinsic summary)
            Magical Strength: R (altered by I.P.s and rewards from quests)

            Eyesight: 20/10 (altered by I.P. expenditure from 20/25)
            Running: E

             

            Skills Codex

            [Many skills, most not listed. No skills bought or increased with I.P.s.]
            S.C. Ratings: (0) = Zero, (F) = Feeble, (P) = Poor, (T) = Typical, (G) = Good, (E) = Excellent, (R) = Remarkable, (I) = Incredible, (A) = Amazing, (M) = Monstrous

            Flying: I

            Alchemy: 0 (no knowledge)
            Arithmancy: T (3th Year of study)
            Ancient Runes: T (3th Year of study)
            Astronomy: P (2nd Year of study)
            Blood Magic: F minus (Much less than a year)
            Biomancy: 0 (no knowledge)
            Care of Magical Creatures: T (2nd year of study)
            Charms: E (5th year of study)
            Divination: 0 (no knowledge)
            Eromancy: 0 (no knowledge)
            Healing: 0 (no knowledge)
            Herbology: P (2nd year of study)
            Legilimency: P (2nd year of study)
            Necromancy: 0 (no knowledge)
            Occlumency: R (6th year of study)
            Potions: E (5th year of study)
            Ritual Magic: F minus (Much less than a year)
            Soul Magic: F (1st year of study)
            Transfiguration: T (3rd year of study)
            Transmutation: 0 (no knowledge)
            Wand Lore: F minus (Much less than a year)

            Lust Resistance: E


            Intrinsic Summary:

            Notation: (A) = Applied, (P) = Permanent, (H) = Hereditary, (I) = Intrinsic (born with, not a reward, though it may be enhanced through I.P.s) (D) = Dormant

            A.R.M.ed and Dangerous (Alternative Referencing Mode) – (A, P): An extension of the game, allowing the player to access the game through the equivalent of a Heads Up Display where the avatar is in the left peripheral vision, scroll notes come across the top of the vision, and mini-map is in the lower right of his vision, and any book reading is in the center of his visual field. If the player can find a way to link books to the A.R.M. magic, the A.R.M. will act like a Portable Athenaeum.
            Advise Me Truly – (A, P): Allows the avatar Stheno some mental freedom. This allows the Avatar to offer advice favorable to the player instead of neutral advice or advice that is favorable to the game, but appears favorable to the player. It would also allow the avatar guide to inform the player of any pitfalls as they saw them, which they are supposedly prevented from doing otherwise.
            Avatar’s Grace – (A, P): Allows the avatar Stheno a greater amount of mental freedom than Advise Me Truly. Opinions can be offered unsolicited by the Avatar. More active guidance can occur.
            Blood Magus – (I, H) (A): Was dormant, now activated. Allows the player to learn blood magic more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Born Charmer – (I, H): Allows the player to learn Charms more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Cool as a Cucumber – (A, H): Allows the player to resist the urges of lust as well assist him with keeping his emotions in check.
            Dark Defender – (I, H): Allows the player to learn Defense against the Dark Arts, and defensive magic more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Fast Learner – (A, H): Helps the player quickly understand what he reads and learns, and facilitates making connections to other information easier.
            Ghost Lover (x5) – (A, P x1): Allows the player to take a single ghost as a member of his harem, and allows him to physically interact with said ghost at certain times of the year. Can be taken five times. Currently only one ghost can be added to the harem.
            Gifted Kinesthetic – (A, P): Allow the player to be able to learn and remember how to make exacting movements with his body with just observation and only two or three rote repetitions.
            Hardy - (A, H): Makes it easier for the player to resist illnesses and minor poisons, and allow him to recover from such more readily. International Man of Mystery – (A, P): A complex reward. Provides an air of mystery and danger about the player, which is somewhat repelling to young women, but attractive to older women. Can attract Femme Fatales. Makes it easier to deflect blame or blend into a crowd to escape. Those predisposed to disliking the plyer may fear and hate the player. Minimizes undue attention, including that caused by fame. Rumors will take on a surreal quality as people try to guess about the player. Strangers can forget passing interactions with the player. Makes seducing older women easier. Can also cloud the perceptions of others regarding the harem.
            Intuitive Potioner – (I, H) (A): Was dormant, now activated. Allows the player to learn brewing of potions and understand ingredients more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Libidinous - (A, H): Gives the player’s libido a greater capacity for growth of his psychic energy. Libido is ‘the energy that is created by the process of living, derived from both striving and desiring, and has to do with all that may be comprised under the concept of love.’ Lust on the other hand was more of desire for something, sometimes and overwhelming desire, and not necessarily of a carnal nature. Lust Born – (A, P): Gives the player better resistance to the drives of lust, slow down the generation of lust, as well as better control over his actions during periods of being ‘lust drunk’. Mage Sight – (A, H): Provides the player with a visual representation of ambient, active, and passive magic.
            Multiple Familiars (+5) – (A, P +3): Allows the player to have more than one familiar (up to six total). The player currently has added three more familiars slots, for a total of four (including Hedwig).
            Natural Flyer – (I, H): Grants the player an intuitive understanding of three dimensional movement and makes broom flying seem like second nature.
            Natural Legilimens – (A, P): Gives the player some low level legilimency without learning the actual skill, and make learning the skill easier as well.
            Natural Occlumens – (A, H): Helps the player organize what he experienced and learned, give him some protection form a legilimens, and make it much easier to learn actual occlumency.
            Parselmouth (2) – (I, H) (Level 2) (A): Was dormant, now activated. Allows speech with snakes, if one concentrates on a snake at the first level. At the second level, one does not need to focus on a snake, and may not realize they are speaking the snake tongue when talking to snakes.
            Polyglot - (A, H): Allows the player to more readily absorb more languages. Pterolocution – (A, H): Allows the player to understand and speak with birds. Magical birds will recognize and understand the player’s native tongue.
            Resilient Mind – (A, H): Helps the player resist mind affecting magics like obliviation, and the Imperious Curse, as well as torture.
            Ritual Adept – (A, H): Allows the player to learn rituals and ritual magics more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject. Also allows the user to more easily adjust a ritual on the fly.
            Rune Adept – (I, H): Allows the player to learn runes, and runic magic more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Soothing Healer – (I, H) (A): Was dormant, now activated. Allows the player to learn healing magic more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Speed Read Enhancer (x23 (by primes)) – (A, P x17): If the average person can read 20 pages in 10 minutes with 100 percent retention, the player can read 340 pages in 10 minutes with 100 percent retention. Times 23 is the maximum multiple.
            Total Recall (2) – (A, P, 2): The first level improves memory making recall of studied items nearly perfect. With the second level, recall of all events witnessed are nearly perfect (which could be a drawback as well).
            Transcendental Transfiguration – (I, H) (A): Was dormant, now activated. Allows the player to learn transfiguration more easily, as well as providing some intuitive understanding of the subject.
            Verbal Vacancy - (A, H): Provides an affinity for casting spells wordlessly, making it easier to learn how to do so.
            Wandless Wonder - (A, H): Provides an affinity for casting spells without a wand, making it easier to learn how to do so.


            Author's Note:

            10 Dec 2018 -- Added Hardy, Libidinous, Lust Born and Polyglot to the I.S. section. They had been missed by me in my review before adding this chapter.

            26 Dec 2018 -- Modified formatting.

            09 May 2019 -- Minor grammatical and spelling corrections to all chapters