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The Wand, The Cloak, The Stone

Chapter Text

The Muggle alarm clock sitting on his night-stand went off, rousing Harry from his slumber. Sitting up and rubbing his eyes, he cast his eyes around his bedroom, before picking up his spectacles and putting them on.

He sometimes felt like he was still dreaming, and that he’d wake up any day in the dark cupboard of his past. But the same Muggle rock band posters adorned his walls, wixen and Muggle books on his bookshelf, with his small collection of vinyl records tucked neatly on the far side of the shelving, and his Firehook Mk.2 perched in the corner– comfortable reminders that it wasn’t all just a very pleasant dream.

Casting aside his blanket and slipping on his favourite pair of slippers, he made his way downstairs. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, he could hear the gentle sizzle of breakfast in the kitchen. In the sitting room, ‘Mum’ was reading a book quietly, before she peered up at him. Due to the clear linguistic issues of calling them both Mum or Mother, nicknames had been made.

Minerva was very specifically the most maternal of his two guardians, insisting on adopting the mother moniker as soon as Harry felt comfortable addressing her that way (she certainly did not want to step on the toes of one of her favourite students, even posthumously), while Rolanda simply didn’t care if he came up with a cute name for her, instead insisting that she didn’t want Harry to be afraid to tell her anything. She ended up becoming Lala to Harry, a cutesy name that gave Rolanda an immense amount of embarrassment.

“Good morning, Harry. Happy birthday,” Minerva said with a smile. “I can’t believe you’re turning eleven this year! Goodness, and to think I remember Lily’s first day of Hogwarts… I wish both James and Lily were here to see what a sweet young man you’ve become.”

“Oh, Mum,” Harry said, smiling. “Where’s Lala?”

“She said she had some errands to run this morning–for what I’ve not the slightest. Once she returns, we’ll open your presents, as well as your Hogwarts letter, but I promised Rollie I’d wait before we did that. In the meantime, breakfast!”

Harry’s birthday breakfast was always something traditionally Scottish, and always heart-stopping. Minerva was rather health-conscious and often didn’t allow heavy foods in her household during the summer, mostly due to the rich diet all three of them lived on at Hogwarts during the remaining months of the year.

After the heavy celebratory breakfast was consumed, Harry returned to his bedroom to read for a little bit before Lala returned from her errands. While he did have some wixen books adorning his shelf, he decided the comfort of one of his novels would give him the kind of comfort and relaxation on such an energetic day. He certainly felt like he was going to vibrate a hole in the floor from how excited he was.

But reading about the skillful Matilda Wormwood and her own control of magic did very little to assuage Harry’s happy jitters.

A couple hours later, Minerva appeared in his doorway to announce that Rolanda had returned, and so he rushed downstairs, where the silver-haired flying instructor was setting some bags down, dusting her hands.

“Lala!” Harry chirped, jumping down the last couple steps onto the ground, floating his way down. He bolted over and hugged her, causing the woman to chuckle loudly and ruffle his hair.

“Well, hello to you, little one. How are you?”

“Even better now that you’re home! Now come on, I wanna read my Hogwarts letter!” He said, pulling his other guardian’s hand towards the couch.

“Alright, alright, my, you’re full of energy this morning,” Rolanda said, amused.

“It’s Hogwarts, Lala!” Harry said, grinning ear to ear.

The family made their way to the couch, before Minerva went to retrieve Harry’s letter from the mail slot. Harry had been very patiently waiting for his Hogwarts letter– the muggleborns got theirs an indeterminate number of days or weeks in advance due to the fact that Minerva typically needed to be on hand to explain the concepts of magic and assuage the concerns of Muggle parents who were shocked or dismayed to learn their children were, in fact, wixen.

Presenting the letter to Harry, Harry peered at the glossy, green ink on the envelope.

Mr. Harry James Potter,

First Bedroom at the Top of the Stairs on the Right

McGonagall-Hooch Cottage

Wulver’s Hollow

Scotland

Flipping the letter over, he peered at the wax seal bearing the coat of arms of Hogwarts. Decorated with a snake, badger, lion and a raven; the motto “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus” was etched deep into the wax. Harry smiled and gently peeled the seal up, opening the letter. Pulling the paper out, he was going to read it, but quickly forked it over to Minerva, covering his face.

“Too excited to read it? No problem, Harry,” Minerva said with a smile.

“Dear Mr. Potter,” She said, intentionally laying her brogue thickly to give an air of importance. “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. The term begins on the first of September; we await your owl no later than the thirty-first of July. Yours sincerely, Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress. Of course, you’re already sorted out where the response is concerned.”

She handed the papers back to Harry, who peered at the lists with interest. After reading it all the way through, he smiled. “I’ve got a couple of these books already!”

“Yes, you do, I most certainly would not have any son of mine going into Hogwarts without some rudimentary knowledge of Transfiguration, even if it is just understanding what it is. I am sure you’ll enjoy your time at Hogwarts much as nearly every student does,” Minerva said, a smile crossing her face. “Though, Harry, I must tell you–while we’re at Hogwarts, you must learn to divide the times when I am your mother, and the times when I am your teacher, do you understand?”

“Of course, Mum,”

“If you end up in Gryffindor, well… We’ll have to figure that out when we get to it, I suppose,” Minerva shrugged.

“But enough of the negativity,” Rolanda said loudly, standing up. “We’ve gotta dash and take Harry to get the things he needs, of course!”

“Ah, yes, how silly of me– of course!” Minerva said, a pleased expression on her face.

One of the conditions imposed upon Harry’s adoption, was that he be kept away from major centres of wixen communities for the time being. While Wulver’s Hollow was fine, given the small nature of the hamlet, he had largely been kept away from Diagon Alley and the bustling heart of wixen London that accompanied it. However, today was the day that would change. Unlike the pureblood assortments who would go shopping for school supplies in full robes, the fact was that it was still the middle of summer, even in the Highlands of Scotland.

The day prior had seen the hottest day of the year in London, with the Muggle Met Office reporting temperatures as high as 28. While today was slightly cooler at 24, it was still far too warm to bustle around the packed Diagon Alley in fur-lined robes; those kind of things were best suited for the biting Scottish winters.

And so it was that Harry and his mothers travelled by floo from their hearth to the Leaky Cauldron, wearing their normal muggle faire. They didn’t exactly stick out, the pub was full of numerous half-blood and muggleborn parents and children milling about, including the normal set of visitors who spent their days deep in the well of fire-whiskey, unable to crawl out. Making their way towards the entrance to Diagon Alley, the barkeep beamed with recognition at Minerva.

“Oh, pleasure to see ya, Professor McGonagall. What brings ya here this morn’?”

“Taking my young charge here shopping for his Hogwarts supplies, Tom.” Minerva said, beaming.

Tom’s eyes darted to the obvious annoying thing on Harry’s forehead. “Bless my soul,” Tom breathed.

“Yes,” Minerva interrupted. “We’re trying to not cause a spectacle Tom, if you would mind keeping your mouth closed, of course.”

“Naturally, Professor. Blimey, uh, it sure is a pleasure to meet ya, Harry. Never thought I’d get such an opportunity,” He extended a hand to Harry, who took it quietly and gave him a nod.

Making their way into Diagon Alley after Rolanda took point on opening it up, Harry looked at his two parents.

“Why was he so surprised to see me?”

“Ah, well, Harry, we’ve been keeping a few things from you over the years, mostly to keep you safe from prying eyes. I promise we’ll explain everything once we’re back home, but for now, we’ve got much to do.”

The first stop of the shopping trip was not to the ice cream parlour, bookstore, wand shop or robe shop, but instead to Gringotts. The large, warped building stood like Colossus over the central corridor of Diagon Alley, the unique, yet bizarre architecture being the centre focus. It didn’t help that wizards were pouring in and out of the building like clockwork. As they approached, Minerva explained.

“Gringotts is the central bank for wixen in Britain; the goblins who run this institution hold our wealth for us in vaults, at varying degrees of security,” She said, with a smile. As they entered the foyer of the bank, Minerva dug around her pants pocket before pulling out a small set of brass keys. Approaching the first open teller available, the hook-nosed goblin peered down at them.

“May I help you?” He asked, his voice low and gravelly.

“Harry Potter would like to make a withdrawal,” Minerva replied crisply, setting one of the brass keys on the table. The goblin peered at it and nodded. “Of course, Deputy Headmistress. Right this way,” The goblin hopped down from his perch, and escorted them into a narrow hallway, before emerging on the other side in a mineshaft. A large, very tall man was standing nearby with another goblin.

“Professor McGonagall?” The man said, surprised. “And Madame Hooch!”

The two women turned and broke out into large grins. Minerva walked forward and hugged the man. “Rubeus, such a pleasure to see you again. What brings you all the way to Gringotts?”

“Ah, Hogwarts business for Professor Dumbledore, can’t speak much more about it,”

Minerva nodded. “Ah yes, Professor Dumbledore and I have already had this conversation,” She said, shaking her head. “Well, I’ll leave you to your work, Rubeus,”

“It was good to see you, Professor,” Rubeus said with a smile before he caught sight of Harry peering up at him from Rolanda’s side.

“Blimey! This ain’t Harry Potter, now is it? You’re a bit smaller than I imagined, but I haven’t seen ye since ye were a wee tyke!”

“Indeed,” Minerva said with a smile. “Isn’t he a wonderful young man?”

Harry flushed some and hid further behind Rolanda.

“Shy one, isn’t he? No matter, Harry, come see me at my shack for tea when the year starts up, I’m sure yer mum won’t mind too much,” He said, smiling broadly.

He climbed into the large mine cart that had arrived, and with his goblin minder, disappeared into the depths of Gringotts. Another mine cart arrived.

“Step forward,” the goblin said, as they loaded into the cart. Making sure they were secured, he nodded. “Hold on tight, please,” the goblin said, and with a flip of a switch, the cart shot off like a bullet into the depths of the mine.

They winded down the track before they came to a halt some minutes later.

“Vault 687,” The goblin proclaimed. Stepping out of the cart, he handed the lamp to Rolanda and accepted the brass key from Minerva. Wiggling with the lock and then the door, it slowly opened to reveal a small mountain of gold coins.

Minerva said, “Harry, this is your trust vault, left by James and Lily before their untimely passing. The contents within belong to you, but they’re under trustee to ensure that you don’t go and spend it all.”

“I’d never be able to spend all this, I don’t even want to know how much is in there,” Harry said, marvelling at the assembled wealth.

“We’ll withdraw enough for your supplies and then some pocket money, but other than that, the remainder will become yours when you turn seventeen,” Minerva said, before handing her charge a black velvet coin purse. “Go ahead and grab a couple handfuls, that should be plenty.”

Taking a couple handfuls of coins, Harry and his guardians departed the bank with heavier pockets than they arrived. Stepping back out into the chaos of Diagon Alley, they decided their first trip should be to the robe shop.

Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occassions was a delightfully designed place. High-hanging lights and over a dozen mirrors, Harry peered around, taking in the new environment. There were numerous displays showing off fanciful wizard’s robes, along with Hogwarts uniforms, indicating the finest quality design in all of Britain–not that there was much in the way of competition. Harry simply stared at some of the mannequins before he noticed the older, stocky woman standing by a doorway heading into the interior of the building.

“Ah, another first year. Well, come on, jump up on the platform then and we’ll get you all taken care of, dear,” Madame Malkin said with a warm smile.

Harry jumped up onto the small platform and magical instruments floated towards him, taking measurements of seam, inseam, along with other things. Madame Malkin peered at the piece of parchment that a quill, occasionally murmuring to herself as she whisked into the back for more fabrics. As she waited for all the measurements and sizing to complete, she engaged herself deep in a conversation with Minerva and Rolanda in the far side of the room, leaving Harry alone on the platform.

Harry soon departed the store, having a whole bunch of new robes and a school uniform, complete with the pre-sorting grey accents that would magically turn the right shade of colour as soon as he was sorted into his new house.

They moved next door to Amanuensis Quills to acquire an assortment of standard, school-ready quills. Harry found a couple extra ones that he thought were interesting, for his own personal use when he wasn’t in classes or tests. Passing down the alley to Potage’s Cauldron Shop, Harry passed by Quality Quidditch Supplies.

Quidditch had been a quick “love” for him, given the manner in which Rolanda and Minerva seemed to adore the sport. He’d been flying brooms since he was old enough to mount them, and believed himself quite adept. Mounted in the window was the brand new Nimbus 2000, a shiny broom that had been touted well in Quidditch magazines for the better part of the year.

“Lala, look!” Harry said, staring deeply at the Nimbus. “The new Nimbus 2000!”

“Oh, wow, did they finally release the bloody thing?” Rolanda said, looking at the broom through the window. “I doubt it can beat the top speed of my Starstreaker, they don’t make Quidditch brooms like they used to, the spellwork is much sloppier.”

“I can’t believe that they don’t let first years play Quidditch…” Harry said, frowning.

“I know, love, but think about it – when tryouts come up your second year, you’ll be crack top of the talent pool. I doubt many children have as much exposure to the sport as you do,” Rolanda said, gently patting her ward on the back. “Now come along, Minnie’ll be cross if we fall behind.”

After acquiring his standard sized pewter cauldron, and then jaunting across the alley to get his supplies from the Apothecary, the “main act” was of course, Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

The building that housed it was gnarled, and looked the most ancient out of all the shops in Diagon Alley– except for perhaps Gringotts. Harry and his mothers entered the front door of the shop, setting off a tingling bell from seemingly nowhere. The air inside felt stale, but heavy with powerful magic. A man emerged from the shop’s interior, and settled on Harry with a smile.

“Ah, Mister Potter. I’d wondered when I’d be seeing you– it seems like it was just yesterday your parents were in here buying their first wands. Ten-and-one-quarter inches long, made of willow with a unicorn tail hair core; that was your mother’s. As for your father, mmm,” the old man recollected fondly. “Eleven inches long, pliable, excellent for transfiguration, made of very fine mahogany.”

He smiled. “I’ve been waiting to take a shot at finding your natural pair. Now, step up, my lad, let’s see what you’ve got,” he said, his grin widening.

Harry stepped forward, and Ollivander nodded.

“Now,” Ollivander said, “What’s your dominant arm? Are you a left-handed sort, or a right-handed sort?”

“Left, sir,” Harry said, extending his left arm out for the old man to look at. The old man gently took the boy’s wrist and turned his hand over and peered at it for a moment before dashing into the back of the store. He emerged with a set of wands, each one didn’t give a whole lot of gumption, except for a slight warm tingle up his left arm which faded as quickly as it arrived.

Wand after wand was discarded, with Ollivander tutting and looking increasingly frustrated with each failed result.

Finally, Ollivander looked at Harry carefully before walking to the back of the shop and returning with another wand, this one not in a small cardboard box, but instead in a much finer one.

“Eleven inches; holly; phoenix feather core,” Ollivander recited.

Harry gently picked up the wand, and felt a brief sizzle of warmth, before the wand exploded, sending small fragments of holly around the room. Everyone was staring, dumbstruck.

“Erm, is this normal, Garrick?” Minerva asked, staring at the spot where the wand had once been in Harry’s hands.

“Curious,” Ollivander murmured. “I thought that wand would be a perfect fit… I must say I am at a loss for words, I have never seen that happen before in all the years I’ve been making wands…”

A frown settled on his face and he rubbed his chin appreciatively.

“Let’s try some other wands then,” Ollivander proclaimed, before disappearing into his stock.

Another salvo of wands all failed of varying degrees–some either didn’t meet the expectation of Ollivander, or exploded like the holly wand did. After another six wands, Ollivander shook his head and sat down at his counter.

“I am at a loss, Mister Potter. You seem to be defying expectations in that I do not believe I have a single wand that can work with you,” He said, apologetically.

“What are you saying, Garrick?” Minerva said quietly.

“There is no wand in my keep that Mister Potter would be able to use with any level of expertise. Every wand we try has ultimately refused to allow Potter to take mastery. I will require some investigation into this strangeness before I can try to make him another wand.”

“But, how will he do anything at Hogwarts without one?” Rolanda asked, folding her arms.

“None of my wands will do him much good anyway. The first spell he does could cause serious harm to himself and others. I will not sell him a wand. Good day.” Ollivander said, before returning to the back of his shop.

As he sat down at his workbench, he could hear the sound of a child crying. Frowning deeply, he reached up for a book on his mantle, and began to read. He had never been defeated by a child’s magic before! He was Garrick Ollivander, and he would find out the truth!

Or die trying.

Back in Diagon Alley, the morose, crying eleven year old had been taken to Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, and had got a free parfait from the proprietor, while the two older women attempted to console their adoptive son.

“We’ll talk to Professor Dumbledore, and see what we can be done, Harry,” Minerva said, trying to reassure her child. “There must be some explanation for all this madness.”

“Maybe I’m not a wizard after all,” Harry said glumly, stabbing his ice cream.

“Nonsense,” Minerva said. “You’re not a squib, Harry. We will talk to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can sort this entire affair out.”

A trip to Flourish and Blotts was almost as bad as taking a Muggle of comparable age to Harry into a candy store. Harry bounced around shelf to shelf looking at various books. Ultimately, beyond the simple basic materials he’d gotten for school, Minerva had gotten him Intermediate Transfiguration, with the sole promise he not try any of the practical spells inside without her supervision. The last thing she wanted was for her son to be grievously injured or maimed by a botched transfiguration accident. Harry had some exposure to A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration, but had only seen theoretical things, not practicals.

He had gone further and acquired many other books that struck his fancy, racking up quite a large number that he would have to store somewhere.

After purchasing a sizable trunk with folding compartments to store Harry’s new collection of books, they left Flourish and Blotts significantly lighter in coinage. Their final stop of the day was Magical Menagerie, with the intent of buying Harry a new companion. An owl, a cat or a frog were what was permitted on Hogwarts’ grounds, with some exceptions being made relative to family history and familiars. As they walked the lines of animals, Minerva briefly recalled one of the Weasley boys getting her permission to keep a rat. Grubby little thing with a missing toe, she shook her head in remembrance.

Harry on the other hand, was trying to find a new companion, but nothing was immediately jumping out at him. The owls were all very bland looking, all some degree of grey or brown. Harry had inquired about something unique in the owlery section, but the shopkeep simply shook her head.

“Unfortunately, my lad, someone adopted the snowy owl we ’ad. We don’t get breeds like that in very of’n, they’re quite rare in Britain.”

Harry felt that an owl would be useful for sending letters, but… He could just use the Hogwarts Owlery, or even use one of his mothers’ owls.

Dismissing frogs outright– he actually hated frogs, he moved into the feline section. Immediately, one of the animals caught his eye. A bright orange cat with a face that looked like it had run into the wall longways, was eyeing him patiently. The penetrating eyes were very familiar to Harry, but he wasn’t sure where.

Approaching the orange cat, he peered at it very carefully before calling back the shopkeep.

The woman peered at the cat and said, “Oi, that one? He’s been here ages, surprised he hasn’t joined the choir invisible just yet. Most cats don’t last nearly as long as that one’s been ’ere unless they’re part-kneazle. Smart little buggers, like that one.”

“Hmm,” Harry said. “How much do you want for him?”

“Him? Shoot, I’ll give ’er to ya for a bargain, just to get that blasted thing out of my shop,” The woman said, before turning to one of her aides. “Oi, c’m over here and help me get this bloody thing out.”

The aide came over, and the shopkeeper went to open the cage. As soon as she did, the orange cat bounced out of it, and straight into Harry’s arms. As soon as they made contact with each other, the cat was purring a thousand miles an hour, rubbing his head against Harry’s chest with affection.

“Blimey, he likes you,” The woman breathed. “He’s never that friendly to strangers.”

“How long as he been here?” Harry asked, gently scratching the cat’s head.

“Oh… I dunno, ‘bout a decade? S’me tall feller brought ’im in to be adopted, said the original owner wouldn’t be needin’ ’im no more.” She said with a shrug.

“I see,” Harry said before shrugging. “I’ll take him anyway.”

After a quick transaction and a bidding of adieu, Harry was now the proud owner of a new, bright orange half-kneazle. The cat was content as could be in Harry’s possession, eventually quieting down and pensively looking around at the world outside from his new master’s arms.

Minerva and Rolanda, for their part, were surprised at Harry’s choice, but were quite surprised at how friendly and inviting the cat was towards Harry. The cat briefly bristled at his exposure to new people, keeping true to the shopkeeper’s claim that the cat was suspicious of new people, but was quick to offer a reconciliation headbutt to the two women.

And so, after a long day of shopping and acquiring school supplies and the like, Harry, his mothers, and his new companion returned home to Wulver’s Hollow, with eager anticipation of the school term ahead.

Chapter Text

Albus Dumbledore, a mighty wizard of renown, was a slave to bureaucracy. As Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Headmaster of Hogwarts, and a close advisor to the newly inaugurated Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, Albus spent much of his free time buried in a pile of paperwork.

Not that he minded–it kept his mind off more unhappy and morose kinds of things.

But a little bit of monotony breaking was a good change of pace. A gray owl, one he recognized as belonging to his Deputy Headmistress, floated in through the window, dropping a sheet of parchment paper on his desk. Opening the parchment, he began to read the letter. His serene smile faded into a frown, and his face betrayed his concern more and more as he got deeper into the letter.

After finishing, he folded the letter up and glanced at his phoenix companion.

“It seems Mister Potter shall provide us many surprises, my old friend,” He said, before sorting his papers and making his way to his fireplace. Taking a handful of floo powder, he whisked himself off to his destination, and emerged almost instantly on the other side, emerging from the hearth of the Scottish cottage Minerva called her home.

Harry was laying down, covered in a blanket, across Minerva’s lap. Minerva and Rolanda both looked absolutely devastated, and deeply concerned. Peering up at Albus, he could see it even more clearly than ever.

“Minerva, tell me what happened,” He said quietly, sitting down in the armchair next to her.

“Well, Albus, we went to Diagon Alley to get Harry his supplies for his first year, and when we went to Ollivander’s, he was spending time trying to find Harry a wand… and… none of them worked.”

“None of them?” Dumbledore asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No,” Rolanda said, taking up the story. “There was one that exploded, actually. It was made of holly and had a phoenix feather core.”

“Phoenix feather… interesting,” Albus said, keeping his cards close to his chest and revealing nothing of substance to his deputy and flying instructor.

“Ultimately, Garrick said there was no wand he had in his possession that would work for Harry… and so poor Harry doesn’t have a wand.”

“Oh dear,” Dumbledore murmured, peering down at the resting boy. “I will attempt to find a solution, hopefully before the start of the term.”

“What if we don’t?” Minerva asked quietly.

“We will simply have to figure something out. I know for fact the boy is not a squib. He deserves to attend Hogwarts like any other child his age. Excuse me while I begin looking into this,” Albus said, rising to his feet again. Bidding Minerva and Rolanda farewell, Albus returned through the floo to his office.

Standing quietly in his office, he felt a strange queasiness in his stomach. He turned to Fawkes, and looked at the bird pensively. Silently, in his head, he asked it an unspoken question. The bird hopped off it’s perch, and took off from the window.

Albus silently prayed to whatever deity was out there that his hypothesis was totally and utterly incorrect. In the mean time, he would try to see if he could at least mitigate the problems such a thing would cause.

Minerva and Rolanda had decided that for Harry’s benefit if nothing else, a little time away from Britain would do him some good. But beyond simply getting the young kid’s mind off the whole wand debacle, they wanted to connect Harry to some of his ancestry.

Unfortunately, due to Lily's status as a 'muggleborn' and her relative anonymity as far as the wizarding world was concerned beyond being one of "the Potters", finding data about her heritage was difficult. Despite this, Minerva and Rolanda made arrangements with the Central Portkey Authority, and set off with their son for the ancient Yematai capital, Kyoto.

Their time in the ancient capital was spent absorbing the sights, visiting historical places and seeing the splendor of nature. It was during this that Minerva had a realization.

“It must be very lonely for Harry to grow up being… the only person who looks like him he knows,” Minerva said one night while Harry was crashed between them, drooling all over the pillow.

“How did his mother cope?” Rolanda asked, rubbing the back of her neck.

“Well, I don't rightly know," Minerva admitted. "She threw herself into schoolwork I guess, and made friends with other outcasts. She and Severus were very close friends for some time before they had a falling out, and she started dating James Potter. I don’t think Lily really… felt bad about being out of touch with her ancestry.”

“Alright,” Albus said, hands folded behind his back. “I have been talking with Mr. Ollivander about a solution we could throw together to help you, Harry.”

“Indeed, this wand you see before you is ten inches long, rigorous, and is fashioned from the limbs of a rowan tree, and a thestral hair core.”

Harry eyed the rowan wand sitting on the small table with cautious eye.

“Is it going to blow up on me, sir?” Harry asked quietly. Albus gave a shrug in response.

“No way of knowing, unfortunately, my boy. You’ll have to try and see. If we get a good response from it, perhaps we can try a few spells to see if it’s going to be any good for you,” Albus said, pensively eyeing Harry.

Harry gently picked up the wand in his dominant hand (left), and felt a warm tingle. The wand tip glowed briefly, but the light went out nearly as quick as it had lit.

“Hmm, curious,” Ollivander said. “That was the best response any wand we’ve tried has gotten yet…” The old man narrowed his eyes at Albus. “Is there a particular reason you chose rowan, Headmaster?”

“No,” Albus said, his eyes sparkling. “Alright, Harry. I’m going to show you a very simple charm, you’ll learn it your first day in Charms class.”

Albus walked over to a shelf and plucked a couple small things off it, and set them back down on the table in front of Harry. A silver pencil cup and a small quill.

“I want you to follow my lead, and watch what I do,” Albus said. He swished his wand left to right, and flicked sharply down. “Do you see the pattern I am following with my wand? Swish, and then flick.”

Harry echoed the movements as precisely as he could. Albus gave a nod and smiled.

“Now, the incantation as you perform the movements. Wingardium Leviosa.”

As Albus said it, the silver pencil cup began to lift off the table, floating a good several inches before Albus flicked his wand again, and the cup clattered to the table.

“Now you have a go,” He said, fondly.

Harry stared at the quill on the table, and took a deep breath.

Windgardium Leviosa,” Harry breathed.

The quill twitched, but did nothing. Harry looked disappointed, and frowned deeply.

“Try again,” Albus suggested.

Harry repeated the incantation again, and the quill this time twitched and moved an inch up the table. Frustration seeping in, Harry kept trying, becoming increasingly frustrated with each pass over.

The sixth time Harry attempted the spell, the quill violently rocketed into the air, stabbing through the stone ceiling of the Headmaster’s chamber.

Albus looked up at the quill now embedded in his ceiling and gave an amused chuckle. “It seems to me, Harry, though you will have difficulty with spellcasting, you are still very much a wizard. A strong one, once you learn your way.”

“But taking nine tries to do basic magic…” Harry began to speak, before trailing off.

“Diligence and patience will be a virtue for you, then,” Albus said firmly. “Should you have any issues, Harry, you are more than welcome to come see me… but I imagine you will do just fine, when it comes down to it,”

Harry wanted to object and argue more with the old Professor, but he knew better. He simply nodded.

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, trying to not let his disappointment bleed into his voice.

Harry had never been to King’s Cross before, but if the magical side was any indication, the muggle side was likely very beautiful. The platform for the Hogwarts Express was well-lit and was, for now, relatively quiet.

He had gone to the platform via Floo, using one of the dozens of hearths connected to the floo network. Minerva had explained that their early departure was to beat the lines, as once students started arriving on the platform, it would be nearly impossible to get through via Floo due to congestion.

After the train had arrived, Minerva and Rolanda had given Harry hugs and kisses, helped him onto the train, and then bid farewell so they could get to the school to make sure everything was set up for the Start of Term feast. Harry decided to focus on reading instead of the crowds of people boarding the train, he was so involved in the trials and tribulations of Lord of the Rings that he nearly missed the presence standing in his doorway.

Glancing up from his book, he saw a girl standing there. Her hair looked as if it had never (or couldn’t ever) come into contact with a hair brush. She had slightly large front teeth, but had a very elegant air about her.

“Do you mind if I sit in here?”

“Yeah, sure,” Harry said, gesturing for her to sit on the bench seating. She sat down on the offered seat and said, “I’m Hermione Granger, and you are?”

“Harry Potter,” Harry replied. Hermione’s eyes widened with surprise, eliciting a grimace from Harry.

“Do you know that you’re in multiple books–” Hermione began to speak, but Harry cut her off.

“Yeah, Modern History of Magic, The Great Wizarding War: A to Z, The Rise of Fall of the Dark Lord, Harry Potter: The Boy-Who-Lived… the list continues, unfortunately,” Harry said, shaking his head. “A lot of that’s fake, though.”

“I can only imagine,” Hermione said, rubbing her cheek awkwardly. “I don’t mean to bring that up, I’m sorry–”

“Don’t apologize, ’sfine,” Harry said. “But instead of talking about that, why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself, Hermione Granger?”

Oh! Well, my parents are both non-magic, but I’ve known that I’m a witch since I read Matilda, one of my favourite books–”

“You’ve read Matilda too? It’s one of my favourites as well,” Harry said fondly. “The girl who escapes troublesome relatives and lives happily ever after, such a good story.”

Harry and Hermione spent the first small part of the trip eagerly discussing their shared favourite, with the conversation eventually foraying back into their background. Harry learned a bit more about Hermione’s experiences as a Muggleborn and how she positively relished in the idea of doing magic, while Harry talked to varying degrees of about his childhood as well.

When Hermione discovered his mother was the Deputy Headmistress, and that he’d been to Hogwarts before, he was bombarded with a dozen or so questions all about what it was like there. Harry smiled and eluded most of the questions, saying that the surprise itself was worth not knowing much.

“I’ve read Hogwarts, A History, but there’s parts missing. It explains what the four houses are, but doesn’t give much information…” Hermione said, frowning.

“I can answer that question at least, mostly,” Harry said. “I’ve never seen the sorting ceremony, Mum and Lala never let me go, but I do know a little bit about the four houses.”

He took a deep breath and began to explain Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff to an enamoured Hermione, describing some of the general traits associated with each house, and where their common room was.

“What house do you think you’ll get?” Hermione asked. Harry shrugged.

“I don’t have a particular preference. All of my parents were Gryffindor, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to other houses.”

Hermione and Harry had a generally quiet and enjoyable train ride, nothing bothered them or interrupted their conspiratorial conversation, except for the lady who sold sweets from her trolley for the students. They’d shared a box of Bernie Bott’s beans, and had gotten grossed out once or twice (Hermione had gotten bogeys and toffee; Harry had gotten cherry cola and earwax).

Hogsmeade was quiet and still, as could be expected at such a late hour. Harry had been into town once or twice in his youth, accompanying Lala to Honeyduke’s, the sweet shop in town. A very fond memory, Harry reasoned to himself. As they disembarked, the large figure of Rubeus Hagrid, the man Harry had met at Gringotts, stood above them.

“Firs’ years! Firs’ years this way!”

Harry and the other first years found themselves being loaded onto small wood boats to float across the large lake towards the castle. Hermione and Harry had ended up on the same boat as Hagrid, leading the horde of students.

“I bet you lot’re excited,” Hagrid said as they set off into the murky waters.

“Oh, yes, quite excited,” Hermione said with a smile. “Is it really as tremendous as they say it is?”

“Hogwarts? Oh, yeh, absolutely. And it’s run by the finest headmaster in the history of the school–Albus Dumbledore! Perhaps the finest wizard of our time, really.”

As he said it, the castle finally came into view, and Harry smiled at Hermione’s shocked expression. The moonlight was illuminating the castle, which had every window lit up. Torches lit the bridge that ran across the lake back to the shore, where carriages belonging to the older students were filing across, lead by strange bony animals.

“Hey, Hagrid,” Harry asked quietly. “What are those things pulling the carriages?”

Hagrid nearly fell off the boat and looked at Harry in alarm. “Ye can see those things?”

“What things, Hagrid?” Hermione said, wrinkling her nose. “The carriages have nothing pulling them.”

Hagrid sighed and said, “Unfortunately not, Hermione. Those carriages are pulled by thestrals, winged horse-like beasts. It’s said they look downright skeletal, like ye pulled all the skin off ’er real horse.”

“Ew,” Hermione said, looking green.

“But ultimately, they’re invisible to anybody who uh… hasn’t witnessed death. I guess it isn’t surprising ye can see them, Harry… I just didn’t really anticipate it,” the older man admitted, rubbing his neck.

“Are they dangerous?” Harry asked.

“Oh, blimey, yeah, if you don’t know how to handle ‘em. Ministry’s slapped a hard rating on them, quadruple-X. Means only licensed handlers can get permits for takin’ care or raisin’ ‘em. You’re lookin’ at one of the only in Britain who can, in fact.”

There was a quiet lull in the conversation, as so to avoid more grim topics. Eventually, their boats arrived at the shoreline, where a stone path would lead them up to the castle entrance. They were met at the shoreline by Minerva, who was holding a lantern and giving a stoic expression–one Harry had seen in the few times she’d been cross with him. Silently turning, she lead the array of first years up to the doors of the castle, and into the foyer of the building. Standing before the door to the Great Hall, and telling them to form a line, she waited patiently before beginning her speech.

“Welcome to Hogwarts. In a few moments, you’ll pass through these doors and be sorted into the house in which you will spend the next seven years. These houses are Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Slytherin. Understand that the house will be like your family. You will celebrate victory together, and commiserate loss together. Following the rules and undertaking achievements will gain you points; misbehaviour will lose you points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will win the House Cup. Now, wait here,” She said, before disappearing into the Great Hall.

Harry felt a great deal of weight, and he was sure the other students did as well, as everyone had dropped to a low murmur. After a few minutes, Minerva returned and gave the students a nod.

“Follow me, please.”

The students filed into the Great Hall; where the students were all chatting excitedly and watching the crop of first years approach the front with trepidation. At the front of the hall, with the department heads watching carefully, Minerva stood in front of a stool, holding a large, floppy wixen hat in her hand.

“When I call your name, you will step forward, and I will place the Sorting Hat on your head. Very simple procedure,” She explained. There was a murmur among the first years, with Harry hearing somebody moaning about his brothers’ lying to him. Harry gave an internal chuckle at how easily it seemed everyone was in on the joke.

They were called in seemingly first name alphabetical order. Eventually, after blowing past some names such as Alice Ford, Anthony Goldstein, Amanda Brocklehurst, so on and so forth, Harry was beginning to feel a bit nauseous.

“Harry Potter,” Minerva said, a glint of pride in her eyes as her charge approached the stool. Sitting down on it carefully, the hat was settled onto his head, and the voice spoke to him in his head.

Ah, Mister Potter! I wondered when I’d be finally seeing you. Much potential in your soul, you fit each of the four houses quite well, but where will you serve the most benefit, that is the question… mmm…

Well,” Harry replied silently. “Personally, I don’t really have a specific preference. I know my parents were all Gryffindors, but…

Indeed. Gryffindor would suit you well, yes, but I don’t feel it will… provide you the potential to do such weighty work. You are brave, yes, but you have more traits than that in your soul.

Such as?” Harry asked.

You’re an incredibly inquisitive young man. I can see your brain already plugging away and trying to figure out how it is I can talk to you when I am simply a hat… this would be a great fit for Ravenclaw, however…

However?” Harry said internally, amused.

Consider this: Slytherin has a reputation, both perhaps earned and not earned, of being the house of blood supremacy. This isn’t helped by the bias that has settled among Hogwarts’ student body that Slytherins almost always turn evil. History has had it’s fair share of evil Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors…” The hat said sagely.

What benefit would it be for me to end up in Slytherin?

Your role in the modern history of wizards… you could be the instrument of change for that bias. No man, woman, girl or boy could say that Harry Potter, the boy who conquered Voldemort, is a dark wizard.

I doubt that’s true,” Harry retorted, and raucous laughter filled his head.

Perhaps not, but wouldn’t it be something?” The hat asked, voice carrying amusement and wonder.

Harry didn’t say anything, but the hat could tell he had taken his words into consideration. “I respect your decision, Sorting Hat,” Harry said silently.

You are a fascinating young man, Mister Harry Potter. Please do visit me sometime in the Headmaster’s office. It gets very boring there during the year.” The Hat said to him internally, before shouting at the top of his voice.

“SLYTHERIN!”

The entire Great Hall was silent, with Harry suddenly becoming aware that it had been more than sixteen minutes since he had sat down on the chair. A few moments of continued dead silence passed, before Slytherin erupted into cheers. Some of the other houses seemed like they had swallowed a lemon.

Harry, on the other hand, felt satisfied that the sorting had been resolved. His uniform, as he sat down, slowly changed, the gray flares on it slowly changing to green and silver. As Harry sat down at a vacant seat, he eyed Minerva carefully. She gave him a tight nod, before turning back to dealing with the ceremony.

“Hermione Granger,” Minerva said. The brunette approached the chair and sat down on it quietly. As time passed and no resolution was reached, another set of murmurs broke out across the table.

“You know, Potter, this isn’t usual– there’s usually no more than one hat-stall every fifty years,” The girl to the left of Harry said in a low whisper. “I’m Gemma, by the way. I’m one of your prefects.”

“Nice to meet you, Gemma,” Harry said with a low smile.

“I’m surprised you ended up here, we’re not exactly the most reputable house in the school,” Gemma mused, and Harry shrugged in response.

“I’m not one to believe in myths and rumours. I get enough of that about my birth parents and the like. I’m sure we’ll all get along well enough–”

“SLYTHERIN!” The hat declared after several minutes of silence. Hermione hopped off the stool and made her way to the Slytherin table among smatterings of applause, and sat next to Harry.

The remainder of the first years sorted into each house was much quicker than Harry and Hermione, with most of them being sorted in a matter of less than a minute or two. There were a couple “hesitations”, such as with Neville Longbottom, who ended up in Gryffindor. After the sorting was completed, Harry watched his mother take her position at the staff table, while Professor Dumbledore stood up and made his way to the podium.

“I welcome everyone to another year at Hogwarts. Before we begin our feast, a couple small announcements. As always, students are reminded that the Forbidden Forest is a dangerous place, and students are strongly advised to stay out if they wish to retain their limbs. As well, the third floor corridor on the right-hand side, is out of bounds to anyone who does not wish to die a most violent death. With that, enjoy!”

He waved his hands, and the tables filled with food, which Harry and his new housemates dug into with gusto. After the initial burst of food consumption, Harry looked up at the assembled staff table. A sizable number of professors were chatting quietly, including Professor Snape. He squinted his eyes at the man wearing a turban sitting to Snape’s left, and realized it was Professor Quirrell.

He’d only seen the man a few times or so during his youth, but he looked… different than he used to. He was far more gaunt than before, and now wore an honestly gaudy looking purple turban. Harry idly wondered if his time in Albania had been good or bad for his sanity.

A sharp pain crossed his scar, and Harry clapped a hand to it, massaging it to alleviate the pain. That was a new sensation, and it broke his curiosity of peering up at the assembled mass of teachers; he turned his attentions to the brunette to his right.

“I’m glad we got sorted into the same house, Hermione,” Harry said with a smile.

“Me too, Harry,” Hermione said, giving him an equally happy smile.

As the feast came to an end and the Slytherin students began to break up, Harry and Hermione followed Gemma and the crowd down towards the Slytherin dungeons. As they arrived at the large stone door with a snake carved into it, Gemma came to a stop and dug a small sheet of parchment out of her robe pocket.

Gloria,” she said in a low, almost reverent tone.

The stone façade disintegrated, allowing the horde of Slytherins into their common room. Harry marvelled at the beauty– it was very cold down at the bottom, but not terribly so. The entire room was beautifully lit between the beautiful silver lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and the large glass windows that peered out into the lake they had crossed earlier. The floor was made of a soft, plush green carpet, and the walls were decorated in medieval tapestry and wood panelling, giving the room a very refined, yet still cosy design.

After a brief introduction from the Head Boy and Girl, they were split up into their new dormitory rooms. Harry found himself sharing a room with three boys– Theodore Nott, Draco Malfoy, and Blaise Zabini. Harry noticed that Crookshanks had already been let out of his carrier, and was silently snoozing on Harry’s new bed, gently batting his paws at some imaginary thing, probably a rat or something.

The next person to make their way up was a tall, curly haired boy that stood at least a good head above Harry. He was thin and seemed very fidgety and nervous.

“Hello, I’m Harry,” Harry decided to break the ice, extending a hand. “Nice to meet you,”

“Uh,” The boy said, before taking his hand. “Nott. Uh, Theodore Nott.”

The two boys turned to unpacking their trunks, resolutely quiet. The silence was broken when an dark-skinned boy entered the room, and dove onto his bed.

“Oi,” the boy muttered into his sheets. “Too long of a bloody train ride.”

Harry laughed some, before digging a chocolate frog out of his pocket. “Here,” He offered.

The boy sat up and glanced at Harry, and took the offered frog. Taking a bite out of the head, he swallowed before speaking.

“You’re Harry Potter, aren’t you?” He asked.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Harry said.

“Blaise Zabini, nice to meet you,” He said, smiling.

“Ah, Roman?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, Scottish?”

“Kinda sorta. I’m technically not Scottish, obviously, but I was raised in Scotland from age six and up,” Harry said, shrugging.

“I get what you mean, Potter, my family comes from Tripolitania, but I grew up in Antium with my mother and her numerous husbands.” Blaise said and buried his head back in the sheets, clearly in disgust at the thought. Harry decided not to press him any further about what he was grumbling about.

Eventually, Harry came to meet his third roommate. Draco Malfoy entered the room with a sort of aristocratic sense of self-importance that Harry immediately raised an eyebrow. Draco scanned the room before making eye contact with Harry. Approaching him, he stuck out his hand.

“Draco Malfoy,” He said.

Harry accepted his handshake, before clearing his throat.

“Harry Potter, pleasure to meet you.” Harry said.

There was an awkward silence before Draco said, “Glad to see you’re among the right sort, Harry.”

“Oh, Merlin’s arse, please don’t start up with that again, Draco,” Theodore said from his bed. “We don’t need to have a philosophical debate about blood purity the first day of school.”

“Potter,” Theodore spoke. “Just ignore this ponce, he’ll go on and on and talk your ear off about how important blood purity is, as if he hasn’t got any half-bloods in his lineage anyway.”

“Ah,” Harry said with a snort. “You know I’m a half-blood, right?”

“Yeah, everyone knows that. Your, uh, birth mother– she’s Muggleborn,” Theodore said while taking his boots off. “Good thing my old man ain’t here, he’d go on a two hour rant about Muggleborns.”

Draco glared at Theodore and said, “I don’t have a problem with half-bloods, they at least have some pedigree–”

There was a knock at the door, and the door opened on it’s own. On the other side, Severus Snape stood in the doorway, his hands folded behind his back.

“Mister Potter,” He said in a low voice. “If I may borrow you for a few minutes?”

“Oh, aye, Professor.” Harry said, making sure his stuff was secure before stepping out of the door. The Professor turned and looked at the remaining three boys in the room before nodding to them.

“Gentlemen,” He said, before following Harry out the door.

Harry soon found himself in accompaniment of Hermione and Professor Snape as they made their way down further into the dungeons to the Professor’s office. The office itself was familiar to Harry, he’d spent some days of his youth in there, accompanied with reading material while Snape babysat him for his mothers.

“I’ve called you both here because it is typical I give a… speech, or a talk to incoming half-bloods and Muggleborns who are sorted into Slytherin House,” He said, sitting at his desk and gesturing for the two to sit as well.

“Slytherin is not the house of evil wixen, as many would have you believe. While the majority of the Dark Lord’s forces did indeed come from Slytherin, every house is capable of evil in their own right,” Snape continued, folding his hands on his desk.

“In the years since the Dark Lord’s defeat, Slytherin has had some progress in defeating the idle bigotry that exists in our House, but we still have some students who are… not as open minded as we would expect. So, I customarily give a warning about those few… and make sure you know my office is open should you encounter any issues. Particularly with Mister Malfoy… understood?”

“Yes, sir,” the two students said deferentially. Professor Snape nodded, and gave a slight, quirked smile; though it looked more like a pained sneer. He picked up a sheet of parchment on his desk and quickly penned something with a quill, and signed his name.

He handed the paper over and said, “This will let you return to your dormitory without trouble, should you be stopped by Mister Filch or a Prefect.”

As Harry and Hermione left, Snape didn’t say much more, and simply sat there in thought, a smile that seemed a little more genuine crossed his face.

Chapter Text

The very next morning was the start of the term. Waking up early from his pleasant rest, Harry trundled off to the dormitory bathroom to clean himself up, and change into his school uniform. As soon as he’d checked himself over to make sure he didn’t look off, he went downstairs to the Great Hall for breakfast.

While he was eating, he was joined by Hermione, then Theodore, then Blaise, and then finally Draco; clearly in the order of enthusiasm and how much they wanted to preen before classes, with Hermione simply cleaning herself up, but with Draco clearly having used some charms or product to make sure his hair looked good and slicked back.

Once Professor Snape had arrived and spoken at arm’s length with some of the other professors in the room (including Minerva), Snape began to give out schedules for the year. He was very brusque about it, and very methodical.

The schedule indicated most of the classes through the year would be done with Gryffindors, with the occasional Hufflepuff-Slytherin class.

For the first few days, murmurs from the student body seemed to follow Harry around from the moment he left the dormitory, he tuned them out where he could, but sometimes people were really obvious and really obnoxious about it. Harry had, in his youth, come to get a better understanding of the best ways to navigate the changing hallways and staircases of Hogwarts. This provided him a very convenient way to avoid Filch (whom Harry detested, mind you).

The first days of classes were mostly a breeze, with very little application of wandlore. It was primarily spent with the teachers explaining the expectation of conduct in their classroom, and generally getting an idea on what they could expect over the term. The Charms professor, Flitwick, had been mostly star-struck by Harry’s presence, and it wasn’t much of an “open secret” that he had been somewhat cross that the Sorting Hat had placed Harry in Slytherin.

History of Magic was one of those courses that everyone sort of tuned out– Professor Binns was an ancient ghost of a teacher that had simply never woken up after falling asleep by the fire, and Dumbledore seemed to have not considered it a necessity to fire him. To make matters worse, Binns seemed to have an affinity for goblins, and so most of the class content would comprise of minutae on the Goblin Wars and Rebellions.

Harry looked forward to Herbology and Astronomy as neither one required wands to be practically applied, and enjoyed his first midnight class with Professor Sinistra. She took the class through their star charts and regaled the young first years with the tales of what the constellations meant and did in both wixen history and their relationship to magic.

Harry’s first Transfiguration was exciting as well– even if he was not looking forward to when he would eventually be expected to use a wand. He had been barely able to suppress his giggles when students arrived in Minerva’s classroom bewildered at the tabby cat perched on the professor’s desk. After most of the students had arrived, Professor McGonagall leapt from her desk and reassumed her human form, stunning most of Harry’s classmates who had never seen an Animagus before.

She went into a brief explanation about taking Transfiguration deathly seriously and not playing a fool in her classroom. She ordered them to copy down some rules of the classroom, and then turned back into the tabby cat, taking up her pensive position at her desk. It happened to be quite fortunate that she could ambush two Gryffindors, the Ron boy and one of his friends. The two were outright stunned that Professor McGonagall could change forms like that, much to the amusement of their classmates.

Defence Against the Dark Arts was a class that Harry very specifically did not enjoy. The smell of garlic (ew), Harry having to deal with awful migraines afterwards, and the dragging content of Quirrell’s explanations about his interactions with creatures (that nobody believed, mind you).

On Friday, Harry found himself facing a ‘double’ Potions period with the Gryffindors. Professor Snape had seemed to be near to the point of apoplexy at any mention of the Gryffindor house, and Harry could only shudder in fear at the idea of what kind of nonsense would go on during that period.

Just then, an owl swooped down and plopped a note down on top of Harry’s porridge. Wiping the envelope clean, he popped it open and read it.

“Who sent you a letter, Harry?” Hermione asked as she sat down at the table.

“Ah, my mother… she wants me to come to her office for tea at four o’clock.”

“Professor McGonagall?”

“Aye, she is my mother after all,” Harry said, amused. “I guess she wants to make sure my first week hasn’t been too bad, and maybe grill me about why I got sorted in Slytherin.”

Hermione let out a quiet giggle, and shook her head.

The Potions dungeon always seemed to be stiflingly hot and unpleasant. Harry had never liked spending much time down here, but he had always behaved himself around Snape. The man was unnerving and sometimes very threatening, even when he was just minding his own business. While he knew Professor Snape didn’t hate him, even being a Slytherin didn’t seem to be doing Harry many favors.

Though, Snape certainly didn’t treat Harry any worse than anyone else, simply rolling over his name and not hesitating one inch. Once he finished the register, he looked at the assembled First Years critically. He built up the dramatics by launching into his long-winded explanations of what he expected from Potions students. Harry had heard this speech a couple times when he had been saddled with Professor Snape during his first year Potions classes.

After the Professor had finished his spiel, a brief moment of silence lingered before Professor Snape snapped at the bait to grill his newest students, one in particular.

“Potter!” Snape barked suddenly. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

“Er,” Harry said, before snapping his fingers. “Aye, it’d be the Draught of Living Death, would it not, sir?”

“Good,” Snape said cooly, before rounding on a Gryffindor.

“Longbottom! Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”

“Er,” Neville stammered, clearly lost. “I d-don’t know, sir.”

“Did you not think to open a book before coming in today, Longbottom?” Snape said with a sneer before sweeping down the aisles again. There were smatterings of snickering from the Slytherins, particularly Draco Malfoy and his cohort of brutes. Another moment of silence passed before Snape whipped around again.

“Weasley!” He barked.

Ron went rigid, and Harry could see the red-head sweating.

“What’s the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

Ron swallowed heavily, before speaking. “Err, aren’t they the same thing, Professor? They’re both… aconite, right?”

“Indeed, Mister Weasley. As Mister Potter pointed out, asphodel and wormwood will create the Draught of Living Death; A bezoar, Mister Longbottom, is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat that will save you from most poisons… and Mister Weasley is correct, those two plants are the same, aconite,” Snape said, peering around the classroom. “Well,” He said, annoyance in his voice clear, “why aren’t you copying this all down?”

Things continued at a similarly ruinous pace, Snape had split the class up into pairs, with Harry unfortunately ending up partnered with Draco. They were set to mix a simple potion that would cure boils. He swept around the classroom, giving criticisms to practically everyone, save for Harry and Draco, whom seemed to be quickly falling into place as his favorites. While in the middle of giving some even-leveled praise to the two for the way they were boiling their slugs, the sound of hissing and acrid green smoke filling the room alerted his attention.

Neville had managed to melt through Seamus’ cauldron and the potion had seeped all over the stone floor, burning holes in people’s shoes. Neville, on the other hand, had gotten some of the ill-prepared potion all over himself, and was now breaking out into angry red boils.

“Idiot boy! Did you add the porcupine quills before removing the cauldron from the fire?” Snape raged at Neville, who was whimpering as boils continued to pop up on his body, the newest one taking shape on the boy’s nose.

Snape whipped around to look at Harry. “Take him up to the hospital wing, Potter,” He said, before turning back to Seamus. “And one point from Gryffindor for such irresponsible lab safety.”

Harry stood up and made his way to Neville. “Come on, Neville. Let’s get you to the hospital,”

As they made their way up towards the Hospital Wing. Harry sighed.

“I’m sorry about Professor Snape. I know nobody in Slytherin is going to apologize to you for the way he treated you, but I’d rather just say… sorry,” Harry said.

“It’s okay, Harry, I know it isn’t your fault,” Neville said quietly in a strained voice.

“Right, but if you need any help with Potions, let me know. I can at least do that, if nothing else…”

He passed Neville off to Madam Pomfrey, who began to fret and fuss over the boy. Harry returned to the Potions dungeon to gather his things. The class had dismissed since then, and Snape was sitting at his desk, gathering his belongings.

“Your bag is right here, Potter,” Snape said, setting Harry’s bag on his desk.

“Thank you, Professor,” Harry said with a quiet smile, accepting his bag. “Say, Professor, do you think next time I could be partnered with Neville?”

“Why would you want that, Potter? I’d rather not have to explain myself to your mother that I let her son get maimed by a botched potion.”

“Perhaps I could help Neville improve, rather than just spinning his wheels and getting sent to the hospital wing every week,” Harry offered.

“Mm, fine. I can make some adjustments to the arrangements. You’re dismissed, Potter.”

Harry left the dungeons behind, feeling reasonably confident about the whole thing. He made his way up to the Deputy Headmistress’ office. Giving the password to the statue guarding the door, he knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Minerva’s voice came through the door.

“It’s me, Mum. Harry.”

“Ah! Come on in, dear!” She shouted back. Harry opened the door, and Minerva looked up from her desk.

“Goodness, is it four already? Come in, come in, have a seat. I was just going over Severus’ incident report from earlier. Did you take Mister Longbottom to the Hospital Wing?”

“Aye, mum, felt bad for the poor bloke. He was in a wrong way when Professor Snape rounded on him. I actually asked the Professor if I could be his partner from now on,”

“Noble deed, my son. Now, tell me how your first week has gone other than Severus’ little potions theatrics.”

“Not terribly, haven’t had a chance to see Lala yet, I’ve got Flying with her next week, but everything else has gone well. I’m nervous about Charms and Transfiguration with this wand, but perhaps I can muster through and not get done in by irritable magic.”

“I have confidence in you, Harry. Though I am certainly surprised at the house you were sorted into.”

“Aye, as am I. Didn’t think I’d end up in Slytherin. The Hat was pretty insistent on it, though. Said I had some traits of that house, and that I’d be a good way to break down the bias against Slytherins. Personally, the house I ended up in didn’t matter nearly as much.”

“Hmm, I guess it’s for the best you aren’t in Gryffindor anyway. I’d have to bring another professor in to be your liaison for school matters.”

The following day, a Saturday, was the first flying lesson of the year. Slytherin and Gryffindor would end up sharing the experience together, and Harry was feeling a little mixed about the whole thing. He certainly had the necessary experience to cruise through the class, but he worried about the animosity between Gryffindor and Slytherin throwing a spanner into the works.

Of course, as they were getting ready to head down, Professor Snape stopped Harry at the door.

“Mister Potter,” Professor Snape said cooly. “You won’t be needing to head down to the flying lesson.”

“Why not, sir?” Harry asked, bewildered.

“Your mother is, after all, the Flying instructor. She has assured us that you are… quite able in the realm of flying. I promised I would do my best to judge this to see if you are at the standard we would require of a first year student… so, we shall go to the Quidditch pitch.”

“I see,” Harry said quietly. “Of course, Professor. Of course.”

Harry and Professor Snape made their way down the winding path to the large Quidditch pitch at the far-end of the school, while the other first years were corralled by Lala into the quad where they would practice things like mounting their broom. That firmly put behind him, he stepped onto the large pitch, where Professor Snape eyed him critically.

“Go on, then,” Professor Snape said with a grumble.

Harry approached the side of the loaner broom from the school, and stuck his hand out.

“Up.”

The broom smacked firmly into his hand, and Harry then mounted it, kicking off with both his feet. He hovered gently off the ground, only a couple feet.

Professor Snape’s eyes glistened with interest and he said, “Potter, I want you to fly a lap around this pitch. Do you think you can do that without falling off your broom?”

“Aye, Professor,” Harry said before plunging the broom down and speeding off to the far-end of the pitch. He then performed a high-speed lap around the track, moving with the grace of a child who had spent much of his formative years around broomsticks and Quidditch. He idly wondered if boys like Draco or Theodore would have an easier or harder time with it all than him.

“It is quite a shame they do not permit first years on the Quidditch teams. Potter, you pass with flying colors. Once you’ve made it to second year, Potter, please do come see me when Quidditch tryouts open up,” Professor Snape said as Harry disembarked from his loaner broom.

“Professor?”

“We’re always looking for talent to keep our Quidditch House Cup from falling into Gryffindor’s grubby hands.”

“Ah, that’s right. Mum always goes on about how you’ve won every Inter-House Quidditch Cup since she adopted me.”

“In no small part due to my emphasis on discipline and only recruiting promising young Slytherins into the team, I take Quidditch just as seriously as I do Potionwork, Mister Potter.”

“That is to say, very seriously then, Professor. Serious as a shark attack.” Harry said, a smile crossing his face.

“Indeed,” Professor Snape said, a slightly amused grimace crossing his face in response.

As Professor Snape and Harry made their way back up to the castle, the sight of a red-faced Professor McGonagall holding a squrming Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley was their welcoming committee.

“Professor McGonagall,” Professor Snape said, his cool exterior reasserting itself. “What seems to be the problem with Mister Malfoy?”

Professor McGonagall held up a tiny glass orb–Harry recognized it as a Remembrall, he’d seen those in the Daily Prophet once or twice in advertisements.

“Mister Longbottom injured himself when he lost control of his broom. Madame Hooch took him up to the hospital wing, but I witnessed Mister Malfoy here,” She gestured to the boy in her grasp. “Getting into a fight with Mister Weasley after stealing Mister Longbottom’s Remembrall off the ground.”

“I see,” Professor Snape said, glaring at Malfoy. “Perhaps, Professor McGonagall, we may come to an arrangement to prevent allegations of unfairness?”

“I’m listening, Severus,” She said crisply, causing Harry to wince slightly. The tone in her voice was the same one she often used when she was thoroughly displeased. Minerva was a strict disciplinarian, but not in the sense that she was violent. She just loved loud, nearly screaming lectures. Harry had gotten a couple of those in his youth, and didn’t wish for any child to get one of those at Hogwarts.

“Perhaps I can arrange for Mister Weasley’s detention, and you Mister Malfoy? It would be only fair,” Professor Snape said, raising his eyebrow to a fine arch.

Professor McGonagall nodded slowly. “That seems fair, Professor.”

“Good,” Professor Snape said, before turning to Harry. “Mister Potter, I trust you will be able to make your way to the next place you have to be, while I take care of Mister Weasley here.”

“Of course, sir,” Harry said, deferentially. After the red-headed Weasley boy was handed over to Professor Snape, both Minerva and Professor Snape disappeared in their respective directions to their offices. Harry scratched the back of his head, unsure as to what had just happened.

“A detention in the Forbidden Forest!” Draco loudly complained.

“It’s your fault for being a git and getting into a fist fight with the Weasel, Draco,” Blaise said boredly as he flipped through his Potions textbook.

“Oh, but what did the Weasle get, he got cleaning the Potions dungeon.”

“You saw the mess Longbottom left behind the last time he made a potion,” Harry said idly. “Do you really want to clean up after him?”

“No,” Draco said, grudgingly. “My father will hear about this, though. How dare they send me into the Forbidden Forest with that oaf Hagrid.”

“Oi,” Harry said. “Hagrid isn’t an oaf. The fact that man can manage a herd of thestrals should tell you all you need to know.”

“Thestrals?” Theodore asked as he perked up, looking at Harry. “You mean to tell me Hogwarts has thestrals?”

“Aye, I saw them before the sorting. They’re the beasts that pull the carriages for the upper year students, apparently only people who’ve seen death can actually see the things. They look like gaunt, pale horses with their skin stretched as thin as it’ll go over their skeletons.”

“Besides,” Harry said, shaking his head. “Sending students into the Forbidden Forest under supervision isn’t exactly a new punishment invented for you, Draco. I’m sure your old man has gone in there a few times for a detention.”

Draco simply gave an indignant huff in response.

Harry’s life proceeded rather boringly for some time afterwards. He’d continued to struggle in his practical magic courses, having taken longer than everyone else in both Transfiguration and Charms to do some of the first spell-work of the term. On the upside of things, he was excelling in other courses instead. Even though he was largely set up with Neville ‘Sans Confidence’ Longbottom, he’d managed to get Neville to the point where he could make it through class without having a nutty, which was doing loads to improve his new friend’s confidence and ability to do things without putting himself down.

Professor Snape even seemed pleased at the times he’d come over to critique their work. One class a couple weeks into the term, Professor Snape had donned a rare smile and spoke loudly. “Excellent work, Mister Potter, Mister Longbottom. Two points for each of you,”

This had earned the ire of Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy– Harry could often hear Ron belly-aching to his twin brothers or to his pals in some grand fit of jealousy; whereas Draco was simply beginning to shape up to be Harry’s arch-rival in success. Hermione was up there as well, but she largely didn’t concern herself with socializing, spending most of her time corralled away in the library if she wasn’t in classes or in the Common Room.

Neville had become Harry’s closest ally in Herbology as well, with him helping Harry with a few problems he had with understanding the specifics of the course. It was a very good exchange, and the two became fast friends, transcending the animosity between the two houses.

For now, things were just fine.

Chapter Text

Halloween morning was almost delightful. The lovely smell of baking pumpkin was wafting down every corridor. Even though today was the anniversary of his parents’ death (a fact which he had discovered a few years prior), he was in good spirits as he made his way to his first class for the day.

Charms with Professor Flitwick was a class Harry struggled in, but after a brief conversation between the Professor and Headmaster, Harry was given more than ample time to focus on his spellcasting. In a class with Slytherin and Gryffindor (again), Harry had been partnered up with Neville again. After receiving their instruction from the Professor, Harry had allowed Neville to go first in his attempts, which the young man found to be quite difficult, and Harry’s wand had simply refused to do much of anything to the feather at first.

It should be easy, Harry reasoned, he’d done it before with Headmaster Dumbledore.

While he was trying to work it out, he heard Hermione bickering with Ron Weasley. He idly wondered if Professor Flitwick was of sound mind, putting those two together. They absolutely did not like each other, and while the few times Harry and Ron had come into contact, they had been relatively civil, Ron clearly had no patience.

After Hermione had inadvertently shown him up by correcting his diction and enunciation–(Harry had to admit, Ron carried a pretty thick Devon accent as much as he had a thick Scottish accent)–Ron’s face had been tomato red, and once the class had ended, he had stormed out with Seamus Finnigan and Neville in tow.

The rest of the day went alright, they didn’t see much of the Weasley boy after that incident in Charms. Harry had felt concerned about if he was going to be okay or not, Hermione certainly didn’t. As the evening fell and classes ended, they went to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast.

After everyone was seated, a thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceilings, causing the tables to rattle violently. On the solid golden plates that lined the tables, the feast appeared in all it’s hot, steaming splendor.

Harry dug into the feast, grinning madly. As he ate, he somehow ended up in a heated debate with Draco about which professional Quidditch team was best. This spirited debate came to an end when the doors of the Great Hall were flung open, Professor Quirrell sprinting into the hall with terror on his face.

“Troll! In the dungeon! Troll!” He came to a stop before Dumbledore. “Just thought you should know,” He murmured before collapsing face-first onto the ground.

There was an uproar of terror from the students, including Harry and Draco, before Dumbledore’s roaring voice asserted itself over the din.

“Silence!” The elderly headmaster commanded, before looking firm and disgruntled. “Prefects, lead your houses back to the dormitories immediately! Faculty, come with me.”

Gemma began to cordon the Slytherins back to their dorms, but Hermione stopped, a horrified expression on her face.

“Hermione?” Harry asked.

“They’re taking us down into the dungeons… when there’s a troll on the loose. What kind of idiotic idea is that?”

“I suppose you’re right, but we can’t just lounge about out here, what if the troll shows up?” Harry said, grimacing.

Harry heard a noise and realized it was someone being loud and obnoxious in the boys’ lavatory nearby.

“Do you hear that, Hermione?” He asked.

Hermione looked towards the lavatory and nodded. “It sounds like there’s someone in the boys’ toilet ranting, you don’t think…”

Harry shook his head. “Fancy saving a Gryffindor?”

Hermione let out a laugh. “Alright, Potter. Let’s see if you’re actually Slytherin or not. Do you plan on just charging in, guns blazing?” She asked.

“No, no. That’s not my idea at all,” Harry said. “I don’t want to confront the thing, my wand is almost completely useless.”

They began walking down the corridor towards the toilets. The first thing they noticed was Professor Quirrell. He seemed to be proceeding in exactly the opposite direction of the dungeons in which the trolls were supposedly let loose. Harry opened his mouth to shout after the Professor, but stopped, as he watched the troll enter the boys’ toilet.

“What are we going to do, Harry?” Hermione asked, clearly terrified.

“Bloody hell,” Harry said quietly. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

Harry took off in a full sprint towards the boys’ bathroom, drawing his wand.

“Harry, no!” Hermione screamed, chasing after him.

Harry burst through the door, glaring at the troll. He had already eviscerated the stalls, and Harry could only barely see Ron’s ginger hair and writhing body from underneath the splintered wood. Harry took a deep breath and moved his wand as Hermione came charging into the room.

Wingardium Leviosa!”

Something actually happened, though perhaps not what Harry had intended. Harry swore he could feel his wand hiccup, and instead of levitating the troll’s club, it exploded. The troll screamed in pain, as now dozens of pieces of flaming hot wood were now embedded into his skin. The troll was also now missing an ear and an eyeball, as the explosion had also removed a small chunk of his face.

He tumbled backwards, before falling over, slamming his head into the hard stone walls, and collapsing unconscious.

There was now a silence.

“Wow,” Hermione muttered. Just then, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape and Professor Dumbledore appeared in the doorway.

“H-Harry? Miss Granger? What are you both doing here! Explain yourselves, immediately!” Professor McGonagall cried, her voice wavering.

Hermione breathed. “It’s my fault, Professor. I… stopped Harry as we were heading down into the common room because the troll was loose in the dungeons, I didn’t think it was very wise to file down there with a troll running about. Then, we heard Ron ranting in here,” She gestured to the boy underneath the pile of broken stalls. “and we wanted to help him get out of here. We didn’t realize the troll was coming straight for him.”

“And how did you… dispatch of the troll?” Professor Dumbledore asked, glancing down at the gore that was on the floor and walls.

“I tried to cast the levitation charm… my… wand hiccuped, I guess, and the troll’s club exploded.”

Harry… James… Potter…” Minerva growled in a very low voice. “How could you do something so foolish, risking your life against a fully grown mountain troll!”

Harry lowered his head. “Sorry, Mum.”

Minerva wrapped her son in a hug, and Harry could feel her trembling. Suddenly, he felt very bad about his heroics. “I’m still proud of you, regardless.”

“Indeed,” Snape said cooly. “If I may, twenty points to Slytherin… perhaps for sheer dumb luck if nothing else.”

“Indeed,” Professor Dumbledore said. “Mister Potter, would you mind following me? Professor Snape, please escort Miss Granger back to her common room, and Minerva, if you could please take Mister Weasley up to the hospital wing.”

“Headmaster?” Snape asked an unspoken question.

“Just her common room, Severus.” Dumbledore said.

Harry followed Professor Dumbledore back to his office quietly, his head low.

As they climbed the steps, Professor Dumbledore gestured to the chair across from his desk. “Please, take a seat, Harry.”

Harry sat down and Dumbledore sat across from him.

“A very… foolish, yet brave thing you did today. Not many eleven year olds can take on a fully grown mountain troll, and live to tell the tale.”

“Mum was saying that,” Harry said with a sigh. “If you’re going to expel me-”

“My dear boy, why would I expel you? As far as I can tell, you did this school and your friends quite a service. But that is not why I have brought you here. As you know, and as we have discussed in the past, you have yet to be able to pair with a wand that will obey you.”

“Yes,” Harry said quietly. “Have you found anything?”

“To some extent,” Dumbledore said with a dry laugh. “Tell me, young Harry, have you ever read the Tales of Beedle the Bard?”

“Oh, yeah! Mum’s read that to me loads of times!”

“Then I assume, you are familiar with the Tale of the Three Brothers?”

“Oh, aye,” Harry said with a nod. “Three brothers attempted to cross a perilous river at twilight, and because they were wixen, they were able to defy death by summoning a bridge to cross it. Death was upset that he had been bested, and offered the three brothers something as a parting gift. One brother chose a stone to revive long lost love, one brother chose a wand that could be unconquerable, and the third brother chose a cloak to hide from Death and his enemies.”

“Indeed,” Dumbledore said, gently peering at Harry with his twinkling eyes. “Perhaps you are a bit young to know the knowledge I will share with you, but I fear you may need to understand your position in all of the game of chess we are involved in sooner, rather than later.”

“Sir?” Harry asked.

“The story goes deeper than just a children’s tale. There were indeed, three brothers, Ignotus, Antioch, and Cadmus. Wether they truly tricked Death, or were simply geniuses in their own right, is a matter for debate, however…” Dumbledore said with a sniff. “Cadmus, who received a stone of resurrection in order to bring back the woman he loved, found life with his beloved unfulfilling. She longed to return to the afterlife, and ultimately, Cadmus followed, and Death claimed him as his own.”

“And then there was Ignotus, a man who, in all of his righteous wisdom, lived a very long and happy life, free and true to himself and his family, and never imbibed in greed and power-lust. He fashioned for himself an invisibility cloak that would last forever, and it has passed from father to son for generations, in fact,”

Dumbledore stood up and walked over to a wooden box on a nearby shelf, and picked it up, before walking back over to his desk. Setting the box on the table, he tapped his wand to it once, before the box opened. He lifted up a silky, black-but-kinda-silvery cloak, and placed it on the table.

“Ignotus Peverell’s descendants lived for many generations, though their names and faces have certainly changed. The last descendant of Ignotus to bear this cloak perished before he could pass it to his son.”

Dumbledore gently extended the folded up cloak to Harry.

“Sir?” Harry blinked in shock.

“Your father left this in my possession shortly before he died, and I figured tonight was perhaps the best time for me to return what is rightfully yours.”

“T-Thank you, sir,” Harry murmured, gently rubbing the fabric between his fingers.

“But there is more, young Harry, more that I wish I did not have to share with you, but in the interest of sparing you the psychological torment of your magic failing you, it is perhaps best we had this conversation now, rather than later.”

“The third brother, Antioch. He was a combative man, believing in force of will, and strength of violence. He fashioned for himself a wand of unimaginable power, made of an elder tree– this wand as we know it, has become known as the Elder Wand. This wand is very dangerous, and… can lead to unfortunate happenings.”

“Why-”

“Allow me to finish, young Harry, and then I shall answer any question you may have, alright?” Professor Dumbledore said, before nodding.

“The Elder Wand has changed hands many times since Antioch was so violently cut down in the dead of night. But, ultimately, oh, about fifty years ago, the wand ended up in the hands of an old friend of mine. He instilled terror and fear among men, and ultimately, he and I got into a duel, a great one that ended it all… and in the process, I won the loyalty of the wand.”

“So you’re the one who has the Elder Wand?” Harry interrupted again.

“Alas, no,” Professor Dumbledore said, sighing. “You see, as many years passed, I became sedentary, and comfortable in my mastery of such a wand. I was challenged to a duel by Voldemort, the very same man who gave you that scar, and I, unfortunately, lost.”

“You lost?” Harry asked, bewildered.

“It was not my finest day,” Dumbledore said, his eyes betraying nothing other than a deep seated regret behind his eyes. “But ultimately, Voldemort won mastery of the Elder Wand, and with it, he believed he would conquer everything. Ultimately, this night ten years ago, he darkened the doorstep of your parents’ home, and killed them in cold blood, but…”

“He couldn’t kill me, or failed.”

“Indeed, for some reason, you survived the killing curse. Voldemort’s body was destroyed, and the wand disappeared, no doubt stolen from his corpse. At first, I believed that the wand’s power had been finally broken and there could be no master… but I was wrong.”

Dumbledore took a deep breath and sighed. “You are the rightful master of the Elder Wand, Harry.”

“Me?!” Harry’s eyes bulged. “What’dya mean, me!?”

“Magic is a very fickle thing, my boy. Your survival of the killing curse, and Voldemort’s own undoing by his spell rebounding, ultimately meant that you had won the loyalty of the Elder Wand. Where ever on Earth it should be, it is yours. I have a feeling it will reunite with us eventually.”

“Is this why I can’t really perform magic?” Harry asked, scratching his head.

“Indeed. If you notice, your wand is made of rowan, Harry. Rowan wands tend to be more compatible than not with people who bear elder wands.”

Harry glanced at his wand, and back up at the Headmaster.

“I understand, Harry, that you have been given a waiver for Flying classes by Professor Snape. I should like it if you could come up here during that class period. If you should ever hope to possess the Elder Wand some day, and not be utterly corrupted by it, perhaps it is time I mentor you in some things that may come to help you.”

The following morning, Harry went up to the hospital wing to see how Ron was doing. After being cleared to enter by Madame Pomfrey (she was always very nice to Harry and fussed about him making sure he was eating enough), he walked down to Ron’s bed.

Ron was in the company of some others. Seamus Finnigan, Neville Longbottom, as well as a whole cacophony of redheads. Harry blinked.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I just came to see how Ron was doing,” Harry said.

“I can’t thank you enough, Harry, for saving this knob’s life. I told him not to go off moping like a girl,” Seamus said, grinning.

“Mum, Dad, this is Harry Potter. He saved Ron’s life,” Fred said. “Seriously, thanks for saving him.”

“It’s not a big deal, everyone. It’s common human decency. Here, Ron, I brought you some Bernie Botts’ Beans.”

“Cor,” Ron said with a grin, accepting the gift from Harry.

Harry spent the next while being thanked and being treated to Devon hospitality by the Weasley family, including Molly and Arthur, the parents. Harry had discovered that his biological parents had been close friends of the Weasleys, and that he’d actually visited their home once before with Minerva after Fred and George had gotten into trouble.

Harry didn’t remember either event, but his memories before 8 years old were spotty at best. After graciously accepting an invitation to visit The Burrow (their home, he guessed) at any time, Harry left to go to class with a wave to Ron.

Ron became the second “friend” Harry had in Gryffindor, strengthening the hopefulness Harry had in mending the irreconcilable rift between the two houses.

Something Harry noticed, not long after, was the fact that Snape seemed to walk around with a strange gait, as if he was almost constantly in pain.

Once November had finally arrived, the weather began to turn cold. Harry adored the cold. Fond memories of bundling up by the hearth with Mum and Lala, playing in the heavy snowbanks, and sledding down the hills with some of the kids in the village. As well, Quidditch season began.

The first game of the year for Slytherin was against Gryffindor, a typical grudge match, so the stands were packed with students. As could be expected, most of the stands were bathed in red-and-gold colors, students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were almost unanimously united in keeping Slytherin from winning the match.

The match itself was accompanied with a hilarious commentary by Lee Jordan, another Gryffindor, and a close friend of Fred and George Weasley. His commentary often got him the scorn and consternation of Harry’s mother, but it was worth a good laugh.

Harry frowned at Slytherin’s rather aggressive style of play. Several times they’d committed rather ludacris fouls that did more to set the field up for Gryffindor than Slytherin. He idly wondered if Marcus Flint was actually intending on winning the game, or if he was just interested in landing his entire team in the hospital wing.

With no distractions, Gryffindor rallied hard, and Marcus Flint himself ended up out of the game after taking a nasty bludger to the leg. No foul of course, it was his fault because he’d gone after the Gryffindor Seeker, some third year bloke named Johnson, with much malice.

Ultimately, the game ended in a Gryffindor victory, a rather broad 180 to 20. As they filed out of the pitch, Harry was in a rather cross mood.

“Is the captain of the team an idiot, or is he just trying to look like one?”

“What do you mean, Potter?” Draco said, raising an eyebrow.

“You’ve played Quidditch before, or at least watched it, right Draco?”

“Of course, Father took me to the World Cup last year, courtesy of the Minister’s office.”

“Then tell me with a straight face that Slytherin’s strategy of literally bludgeoning every single person in sight is a winning one.”

“We have had the Quidditch Cup for the last five years, Potter. Just because you’re a protégé doesn’t mean you can be the ultimate authority on tactics,” Pansy Parkinson said, her face sour.

“By sheer luck or mass tactics, and nothing else. Gryffindor didn’t exactly roll over and let us run the table; and I’m not claiming I’d do a better job, I’m just saying that the Captain should do a better job.”

Harry’s comments warmed him to some people in Slytherin who agreed, including members of the Quidditch team itself… though certainly not to Marcus Flint, who on a couple of occasions tried to hex Harry. One time, as he was getting ready to strike, it had been in the hallway with Professor Snape nearby. Snape had quickly stunned the boy and dragged him off to his office.

The second time was without any teachers around, but Harry’s wand hiccuped again, causing Flint’s robe to spark on fire with a bright green flame. After those two attempts, Flint largely left Harry alone, simply ignoring him or calling him a “nosy little first year”.

Harry idly wondered if that would hurt his chances at making the team next year.

“Harry,” Dumbledore began with a quiet murmur. “If you should wish to truly master the Elder Wand some day, as it is your right, you must learn the necessary skills to make the most of your magic, and as well, block out some of the more negative aspects of magic that will attempt to lure you into a false sense of being.”

“Sir?”

“There are techniques used by wizards of great repute and skill, including myself, Professor Snape, and Voldemort, that allow for them to read your mind and know your most intimate thoughts. The art of closing your mind to invasion is called Occlumency, the art of invading another person’s mind is Legilimency. We shall, through our lessons together, begin to build for you the basic tenements of these skills so that when the time is right, you will be able to resist Voldemort and any negative forces that seek to impose on you.” Dumbledore explained carefully.

“Is the Elder Wand really that dangerous?” Harry asked quietly.

“It can be, if one does not have the humility and grace to handle it. Something I am sure you are capable of, Harry.”

It wasn’t long after the lessons began, that Harry had his first encounter with something that didn’t quite sit right with him.

Harry had always dealt with migraines after DADA classes, but he simply assumed it was just something having to do with the overwhelming scent of garlic and death that lingered in Quirrell’s class. Today was different; his sensitivity to it was much worse, and it felt like his scar was going to burst open and spew fire it hurt so badly.

He had them practicing wand movements for basic spells, and when Quirrell had come over to judge his wand movements, Harry’s headache continued to worsen to the point where he was standing as stiff as a board, and the last thing Harry remembered was the Professor mentioning that he needed to tighten up his stance.

When he awoke again, he found himself in the hospital wing, gauze wrapped around his head. A couple of concerned individuals were peering at him, though without his eyeglasses they were simply colourful blurs.

Though, given the dominant colour of each blob, he could reason quite well who was whom. The dark, black blob to his left was most likely Professor Snape, given the man’s overwhelming adoration of the colour black– the blue and white one to his right was likely Professor Dumbledore.

When his eyeglasses were plopped back onto his nose and he could see again, he was pleased to know he’d gotten it wholly right.

“Mister Potter, we’re very glad to see you’re alright,” Snape said with a wheeze. Harry doubed he’d ever seen Snape so frightened and worried ever.

“Indeed, you gave us all quite a fright,” Dumbledore said, his blue eyes sparkling with concern.

“W-What happened?” Harry asked, rubbing the area where his head was currently gauzed up.

“That is something we’d like to ask you, Mister Potter,” Snape said, his voice quiet and low. “Madame Pomfrey says you were left here by Professor Quirrell, and you were bleeding profusely from your scar… to the point where she had great difficulty closing the wound with normal magic.”

“I don’t remember much, sir. I remember practicing the wand movements for the Body-Bind curse, and I remember Quirrell approaching me to critique my stance, he placed his hand on me, and then I woke up here.”

Harry got very little out of the two professors, and they soon adjourned from his room, with Dumbledore giving advice to Harry to continue practicing the meditation methods they had discussed, and that he would return soon. Harry had managed to fall asleep soon afterwards.

The dream he had was most unpleasant. He could not see anything, but he could hear the sickening hissing voice of a man commanding his displeasure to a man who only referred to him as “Master”. The hissing voice was clearly displeased about something, and Harry didn’t have to be an investigative journalist or a police officer to know that the voice belonged to the man who had murdered his parents – Voldemort.

He had his own assumptions as to whom the pleading and begging voice was, and he felt his suspicions were firmly validated the next day when Quirrell had come to visit him. Quirrell’s presence had triggered not only a migraine, but a burning sensation in his scar. He had also, strangely, noted that Quirrell’s hands were wrapped in gauze, as if something had happened to them.

Harry wasn’t a bloody moron. He could add numbers together and come to the conclusion that two plus two was four.

When he was finally discharged from the hospital, he made quickly for Professor Snape’s office. Knocking on the door quickly, he waited before the door opened, and Snape looked at him.

“Yes, Potter?”

“Professor- I think something dark is attached, or something, to Professor Quirrell.”

Snape blinked, slapped his hand on Harry’s mouth, and pulled him into his office. He closed the door quickly and waved his wand, casting a number of spells Harry didn’t recognize. He aggressively pointed at a chair by his desk.

“Sit, Potter.”

Harry sat down and Snape folded his arms and looked at him carefully.

“Explain yourself.”

“Sir, every time I come within five feet of Professor Quirrell, come into physical contact with him, or otherwise make eye contact with him, it feels like my scar is going to burst open and a million bees are going to come flying out of there. Also, I had a dream last night, where this… voice, a disembodied hissing voice, was commanding its displeasure at someone who was pleading for mercy.”

“And you think this means Quirrell is… trafficking in dark arts?”

“I don’t know, sir, I think there is something attached to him… whatever it is, they’re stuck together.”

“You have a habit of being quite nosy into affairs you shouldn’t concern yourself with, Potter,” Snape mumbled, before making his way to the hearth. He threw something into the fire and shoved his head into the hearth. A few moments passed before he withdrew himself and glared at Harry.

“Professor Dumbledore will be joining us momentarily.”

And Dumbledore did, in his full grace. However, his soft, sparkling smile soon faded into a cold contemplative look as Harry went through his explanations. Dumbledore nodded and stroked his beard.

“Then there is great danger.”

“The boy is annoyingly clever, Albus. Nosing about in business he shouldn’t bother with.”

“My question is,” Harry murmured, “is why Professor Quirrell would traffic in dark arts when he seems so meek and timid.”

Dumbledore let out a great sigh, and seemed to sag a bit.

“Humans are complex creatures, and there was once a great Muggle philosopher who spoke volumes about the duality of man,” Dumbledore said with a contemplative look on his face. “The ability for a person to do great good, great evil, or all sorts of things in the middle. There is many questions to answer, Harry, but you must be cautious with how curious and inquisitive you are towards subjects of great sensitivity.”

“But sir-”

“I understand, it isn’t a hard conclusion to reach, and I agree. There is something deeply suspicious going on here, and I have had to be very specific about which steps I take as a result.”

“Severus,” Dumbledore wheezed. “Is there a way we could have Mister Potter escape his DADA lessons with Professor Quirrell? Perhaps it is time Mister Potter gets… advanced lessons.”

Snape nodded stiffly, before turning to address Harry.

“Potter, you will report here during your DADA period. If anybody asks, you are… receiving special instruction to accommodate your wand issues. You need not explain yourself to anyone, except perhaps your mother, but I shall take care of that myself,” Snape said, a smirk on his face.

Harry nodded once, looked at Snape. “But sir, if my wand barely works, how can I expect to be able to perform advanced spells?”

Snape looked to Professor Dumbledore for advice, and Dumbledore gave a sage nod. “Things will work out somehow. You shall simply have to try as hard as you can, Harry. For that is all we can do right now. In time, I think, your true wand will present itself to you. If there is one thing I can say about the Elder Wand, it does not like to be divorced from its true master for long. It grows restless, angry, and bitter.”

The new schedule for Harry had set was… of mixed popularity in his social circles. Neville and Ron had copped quite quickly to the real reasons, and had been both understanding and supportive, even if Ron was mortified at the idea of Harry being around Professor Snape longer than was necessary. The redhead seemed to have it lodged in his brain that Snape was up to no good, or at the very least, had malicious intent behind nearly everything he did. Maybe where Gryffindors were concerned, that much was true… but Slytherin, perhaps not.

On the Slytherin side of things, well… it was a mixed bag. Draco had given Harry a deeply concerned look, one that asked more questions than the tight-lipped blond cared to ask in a forward manner, but some others hadn’t been nearly as supportive. Harry had noticed Hermione was not being nearly as friendly and warm to him as she usually was– avoiding him in the halls, ignoring him at breakfast and lunch.

Things came to a head one afternoon a week later, when Harry had come into the Great Hall to find Hermione and Draco in a debate.

“…-sn’t fair that he is getting special instruction from the Headmaster and Professor Snape while the rest of us have to toil away at the pre-existing lesson plan!” Hermione was angrily grating out towards Draco, who simply gave her an expression of disbelief.

“In case you didn’t realize it, Harry isn’t exactly like the rest of us, is he? He’s got a bunch of problems he’s looking at, and if Professor Snape and the Headmaster think it’s best he receive special instruction, then who are we to complain about it?” Draco questioned.

“It’s not fair!” Hermione protested.

“Life’s not fair, you insufferable little mudblood,” Malfoy had loudly muttered under his breath, causing a very still silence to settle over the Slytherin table. Harry had, on sheer instinct, drawn his wand on Draco and had it aimed directly in his face.

“You don’t call her that,” Harry said cooly towards his friend. “Apologize.”

“Put your wand away, Mister Potter, before I make you put it away,” Snape’s voice came as the Professor descended from the staff table.

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, stowing his wand away.

“Twenty points from Slytherin for drawing your wand on another student,” Snape said. There were murmurs of displeasure down the Slytherin table.

“He called her a mudblood, sir,” Harry said.

Snape glared at Malfoy and straightened up. “I see.”

“Mister Malfoy,” Snape drawled slowly. “I thought you and I had a discussion at the start of term about such crass and offensive language. Detention, and another twenty points from Slytherin.”

Another round of disgruntled mumbling came rumbling from the Slytherin table.

“Shut up,” Snape said briskly. “This is none of your concern. Perhaps if the rest of you were more willing to make sure your fellow housemates weren’t casually tossing around slurs like they’re ill-gotten Sickles, you wouldn’t have just lost forty points. I expect better from my Slytherins. Is that understood?”

There were smatterings of understanding from the students, and Snape returned to his perch. Harry’s appetite was thoroughly destroyed, and he glared at the two before turning on heel and leaving the Great Hall altogether.

Today’s first block period was, unfortunately, DADA, so he made his way directly to Snape’s office and hung outside the door, grumbling about Hermione and Draco. Snape showed up about twenty minutes later, and said nothing as he let Harry into the office.

“I’m sorry, Professor, for earlier,” Harry said after Snape had closed the door.

“Acknowledged, Potter. Now let’s begin, hopefully that coward Quirrell hasn’t completely spoiled your appetite for proper Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Snape said with an authoritative sweep of his cloak.

“Now, any Professor with no experience in either the Dark Arts or the defense against them thereof, would tell you to open your book and read nonsense chapters. Where Potions would require your absolute adherence to the instructions as given with some variations… DADA is a practical application of wandlore, not nearly as much a theoretical one, as much as the Ministry and textbook writers try to tell you it is,” Snape explained, twirling his wand in his hand.

“Potter, I will take you through some of the first year jinxes and hexes, and I want to see what mastery I’m working with here. I should hope your wand isn’t too much of a hassle to deal with this simple task.”

The first task was simple– lumos. The wand-lighting spell, something very basic, Snape explained, it could be done by a first year with barely a functional set of limbs, let alone someone who was as “annoyingly clever” as Harry.

It had taken a couple tries to cast it and control the power of the spell, but the third attempt had Harry finally have a solid glowing wand.

They seemed to settle into a rhythm this way over the weeks, the concern of a certain turbaned professor hanging over their heads.

Chapter Text

Albus was once again pacing back and forth in his office, his typical characteristic jovial and serene expression gone in favor of a look that many people hadn’t seen in close to fifty years by this point. The paternal headmaster who always seemed to be there to comfort his students and staff in a time of crisis, replaced by the ill-tempered and sometimes ill-intended Gryffindor who had nearly gone over the edge into the abyss.

He hated what was happening. That bloody duel of his, nigh twenty years ago. He was arrogant, foolish even, and had taken a right shot at ending the menace of Lord Voldemort before it could begin, and had lost the loyalty of his wand, sent a child to live in a home without love, and was close to hexing himself for nearly setting the stage up for a repeat of event dyed in even worse blood.

Memories flashed to the sullen, withdrawn child in the orphanage. And then again to the sullen, withdrawn child in his office, covered in bruises and welts. Grindelwald’s reign of terror had burned the first half of the twentieth century alive; Voldemort’s reign had burnt most of the second half… and if things had gone much worse, if Minerva hadn’t intervened, if things continued on the path they were on then, Harry Potter’s reign of terror would burn the twenty-first century.

Albus took a deep breath and looked at Fawkes for answers. The phoenix simply trilled at him, causing the Headmaster to laugh quietly.

“You are right, Fawkes. I should have faith in Harry.”

Christmas was always a special time for Harry. By the time the frosty chill of mid-December settled in, Hogwarts was greeted with several feet of snow that buried the grounds in it’s slushy white embrace. The Black Lake had frozen solid, and everyone’s favorite Gryffindor troublemakers had gotten detentions for bouncing enchanted snowballs off the back of Professor Quirrell’s turban, much to the annoyance of said professor, who looked like he was going to have a case of apoplexy after the fact.

While the Slytherin common room and dorms, despite their placement in perhaps the coldest part of campus, was warm and toasty due to the hearth and enchantments placed upon the rooms, the dungeon corridors and classrooms were bitter cold. Potions was challenging as could be, given how numb everyone’s hands were through out the process.

The topic of “staying or going home” for Christmas was often thrown around. Harry wasn’t actually sure what he would be doing– his mothers were faculty, and if they decided that it wasn’t worth the couple hour trek from Hogsmeade to Wulver’s Hollow, then he’d spend his Christmas here at Hogwarts.

“Mister Potter,” Minerva had said one Transfiguration lesson. “Stay afterwards, if you wouldn’t mind,”

Harry did, and patiently waited for the last Ravenclaw to leave before his mother rose from her desk and folded her hands behind her back. “Harry, you’re not in trouble, so don’t worry. Lala and I have been discussing on if we want to stay here for Christmas or not.”

“It actually is okay with me either way,” Harry said, smiling. “I know we always spend Christmas at Wulver’s Hollow, but I’m okay with staying here too.”

“Then it’s settled, we’ll spend Christmas here,” Minerva said with a smile, hugging her son. “Now, run along, my lad.”

The remaining days of the term went by quickly. Harry had watched Hagrid put up the large tree in the Great Hall, and had found out that Ron and his brothers were staying behind as his parents were going to Dacia to see his brother Charlie. Harry soon found out, not long after, that he was the only Slytherin student staying behind for the holidays.

During the holidays, Harry actually spent quite a lot of time around Ron and his brothers, including in the Gryffindor common room where they spent quite a bit of time annoying each other and getting into loud debates over things like Quidditch. Harry and Ron frequently locked each other in a game of wizards’ chess, with Ron almost always narrowly beating Harry out, much to Harry’s consternation.

Harry was still worried about his relationship with Draco and Hermione, which hadn’t mended much since he’d blown up at both of them in the Great Hall. Draco had been less flippant, but had taken to simply ignoring Harry’s existence, or looking past him. They’d left for the holidays without saying as much as a goodbye, or acknowledging they’d see him after the holiday. It left him feeling very hurt and confused, but fortunately, he had found good company in Ron and Neville.

But even more so, Neville was doing his own bit to help Harry expand the social horizon he had.

Over the holiday he got to interact with some Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, he spent time in the Herbology greenhouse (where Neville was rapidly shaping up to be Professor Sprout’s favorite student, much to Hermione’s chagrin and dismay), and learned a bit about some of the Muggle flowers and plants Neville had been growing in the greenhouse as an extra credit project with Professor Sprout’s help.

Harry had come up from the greenhouses covered in soil and dirt, laughing and chatting with Neville. A sight that, for Minerva, was worth its’ weight in Galleons. She resolved to commit that memory to a Pensieve for Rollie to get a nice look at.

Hannah Abbott, a Hufflepuff that he remembered from the Sorting Ceremony, had shown Harry around the kitchens. Harry had learned that she had a very strong interest in cooking, and was actually learning some of the methods of both magic and non-magic cooking from the house elves, who he was introduced to. The leader of the kitchen elves was a wrinkled, grey elf named Tarlok.

Tarlok had taken Harry on a tour, and the number of elves he knew that day had gone from none to many, as each house elf seemed very eager to meet the much drummed up ‘Boy-Who-Lived’, it seems the mythos wasn’t just limited to humans.

One afternoon during the break, Harry was coming back from the greenhouse and as he turned a corner to head to the Slytherin dorms, he was stopped by someone.

“Harry Potter!” The girl said with a smile. Harry blinked and stopped.

“I’m Cho Chang,” She introduced herself. “My name’s not actually Cho, that’s just a nickname because people can’t pronounce my actual name,” She explained, smiling. She had a Scottish brogue not unlike Harry, which contravened the usual expectation of someone of Asian descent. “I’ve been tryin’ to find the time to finally meet you.”

“Um, hello,” Harry said, accepting a handshake from Cho. “Why, exactly?”

“I figure you must feel like the rest of us,” She explained quietly. “Not really feeling like you’re fitting into the mould, kinda disconnected from things, not really sharing the same experiences.”

Harry blinked and realization hit him. “Oh! I mean, I guess, sorta yeah. Some days it’s a little weird to be basically the only Asian guy in Slytherin. At least I’ve got Blaise around to make it feel a little less like I’m sticking out.”

Cho nodded in understanding. “It was like that for me too my first year,” She said with a smile. “But other than the Patil twins, me, and you… there’s no other Asian students at Hogwarts. I’ve been thinking maybe we could, you know, be each other’s friend.”

Harry tapped a finger to his chin in thought. “Why not?” He said, grinning ear to ear.

“Pure barry,” Cho said. “I’ll see you later, Harry.”

Harry continued heading down to his dorm, and smiled to himself. A productive day to develop his social relationships, indeed. The following day, he spoke more to Cho, who talked a bit about her childhood.

She was a half-blood, her father was a wizard from Kowloon in the Huang Empire, and her mother was a Muggle Scotswoman, and that she grew up in Dunfermline. She went on about her childhood, frequently visiting Kowloon with her father and learning Mandarin and Khitan from her grandmother. Harry didn’t quite have anything comparative, and specified he wasn’t sure of his ancestry.

His mothers, he explained, seemed to know, as he went to Yamato just this last summer. So, he wagered, he was Yematai. Cho nodded and asked him if he knew any Yematai, and he shook his head.

“You should consider putting out an owl order for some books on Yematai language. I can’t help you completely with it, but when you get to the kanji I’m more than sure I can give you some help.”

“I’m not sure if I have the time to learn Yematai,” Harry admitted. “Between all the classes and stuff…”

“It isn’t easy,” She admitted. “But you’re a smart boy, I wager you can handle it. But whenever you feel ready and capable, I’d recommend grabbing books for it.”

“Hermione would tell me much the same thing,” Harry said, amused.

Harry was wholly unable to sleep on Christmas Eve. He spent the night alone in his dorm, fussing with his wand.

Lumos,” He would command, sometimes a couple of times before it would work. “Nox,” he would then command, extinguishing the light. It carried on like that for most of the night, Harry doing not much else other than thinking about all sorts of things. His friends, his family, his wand; he never felt anxiety to such a strong degree before, and he had to admit he wasn’t fond of it.

After a frustrating few hours of playing with his wand, Harry decided to go for a walk, and stepped out into the halls of Hogwarts, his Invisibility Cloak wrapped around him securely. At first having no goals in general, Harry’s mind began to float back to Quirrell. What sort of dark thing could be attached to him? Furthermore, what more could he find about the Deathly Hallows? The young Slytherin convinced himself that the Restricted Section had to have something of use on the subject, and made his way up to the library. Slipping through the door undetected, Harry lit his wand after two tries, and made his way to the locked gate of the Restricted Section.

The lock itself wasn’t too daunting– Harry had to remember the spell that took care of locks.

Alohomora,” Harry murmured, and his wand, for one moment, obeyed him. He gently pushed the gate open and stepped in, and began to cast his wandlight around at the various books, observing their subject names. Nothing stood out to him as something that would help him with Quirrell’s peculiarity, Harry instead looked for subjects on the Deathly Hallows. He came across a book that detailed some of the history of the Elder Wand, and gently removed it from the shelf, and tucked it under his arm. He spied another book, primarily dealing in “dark spirits”. Grabbing it and prying it open to check it, the book let out a blood-curdling scream, forcing Harry to pitch it to the ground, and extinguish his light.

Narrowly escaping capture by Filch and Mrs. Norris, Harry made his way down the library corridor, and hid in an abandoned classroom. Making sure the door was firmly closed behind him, Harry took off his cloak and looked around the room. The classroom looked as if it hadn’t been used in well over a century. At the far end of the room, a mirror was set up. It was very ornate, and looked even older than the room itself. Approaching it cautiously, Harry set his book down on the floor and peered into it.

On the other end, making him go ashen and stammer, was Lily and James Potter. Harry had never actually seen them before in his life, and he felt a tightness in his chest, just looking at them. But, something deep inside of him knew that they were indeed the people he thought they were.

“Mum? Dad?” He quietly whispered, placing his hand on the mirror. The two ghostly images smiled back. James was tall and dark-haired, with a confident smile. Lily was nearly as tall as James, but with long red hair that made Harry idly wonder if they were related to the Weasleys somehow; but he knew the chances of that were quite slim, as she was very clearly nowhere near the same ethnicity as Ron and his family were.

Harry inspected himself closer. It was him, certainly, but he looked softer, less shy… he moved even closer the mirror and–

A surge of anger and fear tore through him. The little voice in his head he attributed to Hermione and Draco began to scream at him that he was in mortal peril. The danger of being lured into things by dark magic was a very real threat, and here he was, being suckered. He ripped his hand away from the glass, and forced himself to turn away from his own reflection, and took several deep breaths.

“This isn’t real. They aren’t real. There is nobody here but me,” Harry said as he berated himself for being so careless.

“No, I am afraid it isn’t, Harry,” A male voice said, causing Harry to nearly leap out of his skin and spin around, wand brandished towards the source of the voice.

Professor Dumbledore approached him from the door, his hands raised in surrender. “I mean you no harm, my child. I apologize for sneaking up on you like that.”

“Professor,” Harry wheezed, before stowing his wand away. “What is this?”

“Ah, well, that, my dear Harry, is the Mirror of Erised.”

“Desire,” Harry said, mist forming around his eyes as he resisted the urge to meet his parents eyes again. “It shows you what you want most in the whole world.”

“Indeed,” Dumbledore said sadly. “So many men of good heart and good faith have wasted their years away in front of the mirror, promising things that can never be.”

“My parents, my family, and… me.” Harry said, feeling only slightly bitter.

Albus nodded quietly, and stepped next to Harry. “The things which we have lost and desire to see returned to us are, more often than not, what we see in this mirror. Unresolved feelings, things we never knew we had until they were gone, so on. The happiest man in the world, happiest boy in the world, could look into the mirror and see nothing but his own reflection. It is truly what shines a light on our psyche, and what we want on the inside, even if we don’t realize it yet.”

“What do you see in the mirror, sir?” Harry said, very quietly.

Albus sighed, and Harry swore he could see every year of the Headmaster’s one-hundred and ten years written on his face. A man who had seen several wars, countless students suffer and die for stupid things.

“I see… my greatest regret,” Albus said with a sad look at Harry. “Someday, Harry, perhaps I will feel up to speak about that. I will be moving the Mirror, and I would ask you not go looking for it again. It does not do to dwell on the past.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, glumly.

“But, in the meantime,” Albus pulled his wand out. “Tempus,” He said quietly, and looked at the golden-coloured clock that emerged from his wand.

“Happy Christmas, Harry,” Albus said fondly, smiling warmly again. “It is very late, but I don’t think I can sleep much either. Would you like some hot chocolate and biscuits? Perhaps we can think of fonder memories together.”

“I’d like that, sir,” Harry said, as the two left the room behind, and with it, turned their backs on the Mirror of Erised.

The morning came much quicker than Harry would have liked. He felt like he was coming up from a pool or lake and was beyond exhausted after getting maybe a grand total of two or three hours. He slipped his glasses back on and noticed a small glass vial sitting on his bedside table. It was full of a bubbling red liquid, similar to some of the fruit-flavoured sodas he’d seen in Muggle shops. Pulling the tag off the vial, he looked at the note.

“Drink this, it will help with exhaustion.”

Harry uncorked the vial and downed the contents. The “tiredness” evaporated almost instantly, and Harry felt like he could run a marathon or something. Clambering out of bed, he cleaned himself, dressed, and made his way to the Great Hall. His mothers, Dumbledore, Snape, and a few students were beginning to straggle in for breakfast. He sat down next to Neville at the Gryffindor table, and looked towards the staff table.

Dumbledore raised his goblet to him and gave him a nod, before taking a drink. Harry smiled and nodded back, before turning to the breakfast spread in front of him.

“Neville, how’d you sleep?” Harry asked, buttering some toast.

“Fine, I suppose. Bizarre dreams,” Neville said, shrugging.

“I told you not to eat all that junk before you went to bed, Neville,” Percy Weasley said, sitting down at the table.

“Shove off, Perce,” Ron said between a mouthful of toast. “Not everyone enjoys being a wet blanket like you.”

Percy glared at Ron, before shaking his head.

After a certainly energetic breakfast, Harry and Professor Snape were practically forced to go to the Gryffindor common room to share Christmas presents. McGonagall summoned a small block from her robe pocket and transfigured it into a sack of presents that were meant for Harry. Unloading them, Harry realized that he’d gotten quite a few from all sorts of people.

The first present was from Mrs. Weasley. When the maroon-coloured wrapping paper became visible in Minerva’s hand, Ron had went ashen. Inside the box was a silver and green jumper specifically made for Harry, along with a plate of home-made fudge. The jumper itself was enchanted, Harry had noticed, made to smell like sandalwood. He pulled it on and grinning at Ron’s mortified look. Fred and George came around and forced Ron to put his on, much to the youngest Weasley boy’s chagrin.

From Lala, Harry had recieved a detailed book on Quidditch strategy, extracting from him a promise to definitely go out for the team next year. Snape looked smug and satisfied at Lala’s gift, and Harry would swear that afternoon that he saw his mother hexing Snape for his smugness.

There were some other gifts, Neville had gotten him a small potted plant that could thrive in the Slytherin dorm’s poor natural lighting, Hermione had made sure to leave him some Muggle books she’d gotten and wanted to pass on to someone else.

Harry was very happy, and had an absolute blast spending the day with so many people. Even Snape seemed to cop to the Christmas spirit, as he made a few dry jokes here or there– though he still tormented poor Neville and Ron by intimidating the absolute spit out of them at times.

The lack of something from Draco slightly disappointed Harry, and that evening as he sat alone in his dorm, he idly wondered if Draco was doing okay, or not. He didn’t like the lingering feelings of unresolved problems, and vowed to himself to not let that kind of stuff happen again– not if he could help it.

The final days before the term started up again, students began to pour back into Hogwarts in droves, including Hermione and Draco. They were quite surprised to see how large of a friend group Harry had cultivated over the holiday, and how transient it seemed to cross the house lines. At breakfast, Harry was sitting at the Hufflepuff table, engaged in a tight game of wizards’ chess against Cedric Diggory, with Hannah Abbott watching and giving Cedric pointers, and Ron Weasley doing the same for Harry.

Neville Longbottom was engaged in a conversation with Cho Chang, talking about a potted plant that had curled around Neville’s finger, and the girl seemed to be taking in information about the particular breed of plant.

The Patil twins were there as well, as was Penelope Clearwater, who was patting her eyes at Percy Weasley, trying to flirt with the oblivious nerd that Percy was.

Once the term started, Harry went about his business and seemed content to not say much in the way of anything to his two friends, conversing with Neville and giving him pointers in Potions, being sequestered for his DADA lessons with Snape, and his study period lessons with Dumbledore. Finally, a few weeks after the term had started, Draco and Hermione cornered Harry in the common room while he was doing his Transfiguration homework.

“Alright, Harry! This has gone on for too long! You’ve been giving us the cold shoulder for weeks!” Hermione exclaimed. Harry looked up from his parchment and set the quill down.

“Right, it’s just been a very busy time. Lots of things going on at once, I’d figured once you were ready to talk, we could,” He said. “But,” He continued. “You both did and said very hurtful things. I’ve talked about this a bunch of times, and talked it through. Do you two think I want whatever’s coming to me? That I chose to be who I am? Because I didn’t. Professor Snape and Professor Dumbledore are trying to help me so that whenever Voldemort returns,” Harry said despite the clear cringe from both his friends, “I’ll be able to fight him.”

“When he returns? Is it that certain?” Hermione asked.

Draco rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I’d certainly say so,” He murmured. “Father wasn’t the most loyal follower of the Dark Lord, but I can see it in his eyes whenever he talks about the war. Wistfulness, desire, and a certain something else… shame, I’m guessing.”

“So two professors are training Harry to be a soldier?” Hermione asked, incredulously. “He’s a child! We’re just children! How is this fair to Harry?”

“Harry is ordained by destiny,” Draco murmured quietly. “Harry was destined to fight the Dark Lord the minute wangface put a scar on his forehead.” Draco said, gesturing to Harry’s scar.

“So they’re just trying to make sure I won’t be killed or harmed by the situation,” Harry said with finality. “It isn’t because I’m better, or special.”

Hermione sighed, and sat next to Harry. “I’m sorry that I overreacted,” She said, looking at her friend.

“I forgive you,” Harry said with a smile.

Harry glanced at Draco expectantly, and Draco’s face reddened slightly.

“And I’m sorry, Hermione, for calling you… that. I won’t do it again.”

“Good,” Harry said. “Because I know how you’d handle in a fist fight. I’d lay you out.”

Draco started laughing, and Harry gave him a two-fingered salute for his trouble, but was smiling the entire time.

And so it was that the trio was reunited and friends again, though their curiosity got the best of them and they pried for information about Harry’s new, much larger social circle, and the young man was very happy to regale them the tale of the Christmas holiday, and all the new people he made friends with.

As the exam season approached, Harry engrossed himself in his studies. Each subject had it’s own sort of difficulty level, and some of the professors were more relentless than others. Professor Snape had given him a quite sizable DADA exam study guide, and informed him that his exam would cover more than just the most basic first year content, and would cover a substantial portion of second year DADA–this was on top of his already rigorous Potions exam prep that caused several third-years to end up in the Hospital Ward with anxiety attacks.

Professor Sinistra had been doing her own study guide, but she had brought in a friend of hers to assist students with tutoring on their star charts. He certainly seemed to fit the “mould” of a wizard, having big, puffy curly black hair and a wry, strained smile. Harry came to figure out the man’s name was Brian, but he was still an affable person. Though his time at Hogwarts was very brief, he spent three weeks helping with tutoring for the coming exams, and then left. Harry felt a very strong sense of familiarity to the man, and wondered where he’d seen him before.

But there was no time to play investigative journalist– Hermione would kill him he didn’t make sure he was studied up for his exams! For that matter, everyone in his social circle seemed to expect him to do his best. It was nice to know that people thought that highly of him. Neville, Hannah and even Professor Sprout had all collectively threatened to read him the Riot Act if he didn’t absolutely eviscerate his Herbology final.

Ultimately, he anticipated that he’d fall short in Transfiguration and Charms, but exceed in the fields that didn’t require mastery of wand movements and spellcasting. But he was reasonably confident that he’d do just fine.

Harry had grown up in a wizarding household, but not a pureblood household, and such distinctions were important. Harry’s mum was the daughter of a Arianist preacher, and Lala had come from a batch of French Chalcedonians, and so he’d spent his childhood celebrating Easter Sunday, as could be expected.

He was still surprised about the fact that Easter Holiday was an actual thing at Hogwarts. Though it perhaps just seemed a sop to those wixen at Hogwarts who followed Christianity, as teachers still loaded them up with homework over the holiday in anticipation of exams coming up.

Hermione had nearly driven Harry spare talking about the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, or practicing wand movements. Harry spent a lot of time in the library with Draco and his small clique of first years in an attempt to at least assuage Hermione’s brain from blowing a gasket at going so fast.

Harry had been eyeball deep in a book on magical herbs and plants, looking up the properties of Dittany, and had caught sight of Hagrid digging around one of the shelves for a book.

“Hagrid? What’s got you up here?” Harry asked the half-giant as he lumbered to leave the room.

“Ah, Harry! Erm, just doin’ a bit of research on some creatures. Say, why don’t you come down to my hut this evening for some tea? I haven’t seen hardly any of ya this year.”

Harry nodded. “Alright,” He said. “I’d love to, can I bring some friends?”

“Not many, Harry, not enough room you know.”

“Of course,” Harry said, smiling.

Harry had headed down to Hagrid’s hut as the sun began to dip behind the horizon, with Draco, Hermione and Ron in tow. Ron had insisted on coming along, as he knew that Hagrid tended to get himself into some crazy business when it came to creatures. Hagrid had quickly ushered them in with celerity, and eyed Draco warily.

“Whatever it is,” Draco said, deadpanned. “I won’t tell my father, Hagrid.”

“Right, look,” Hagrid said, nodding and walking over to his fireplace. In the fireplace, nestled in a tin pot, was a black, scaled egg.

“Bloody hell,” Ron said. “Is that a dragon egg?”

“Hagrid, those are illegal! How did you get it?” Harry asked, looking at the half-giant.

“Won it, in a game of cards last night in the village. Some stranger wanted to get rid of it, and seemed glad to have finally lost,” Hagrid said proudly.

“And what do you plan on doing once it’s hatched, Hagrid? You couldn’t possibly hope to keep it in here?” Draco asked, raising an eyebrow. “You do realize dragons get very large, right?”

“Aye, aye, I know that! Erm, well, I’ve got it under control, got a bunch of books that help with the hatching dragons.”

“Hagrid, you live in a wooden house,” Hermione said, furrowing her brow.

Hagrid didn’t seem to really take that into consideration, and simply allowed the egg to continue to incubate in his hut. A couple weeks passed before Hagrid had once again summoned the four of them down to the hut. They had nearly skipped Herbology, but Hermione and Draco had both slapped Ron and Harry around to get to class.

But they, as soon as class had ended, made their way down to Hagrid’s hut.

After some waiting and baited breath, the egg finally hatched, and Harry observed the small baby dragon. It looked like a crumpled, black umbrella had mated with a lizard. The wings were much larger than the body, and it had bulging orange eyes. It was mewling like a newborn, fussing around looking for it’s mother.

Hagrid reached out to pet it, and the dragon nipped at his finger, before rubbing his head up against it.

“Look, he knows his mummy!” Hagrid said, proudly.

“Hagrid,” Hermione said, cautiously, glancing at the baby dragon. “How fast do Norse Ridgebacks grow, exactly?”

“I don’t know,” Hagrid said. The unfortunate implications of a rapidly growing dragon on Hogwarts property did not sit well with any of the three Slytherins, or the Gryffindor, who was busy fawning over the baby dragon.

The following Thursday, when Harry went up to Dumbledore’s office for his study session with the Headmaster, he felt a little concerned over Hagrid’s near dereliction of his gamekeeper duties in favor of harboring a dragon that was rapidly growing larger by the day.

“Harry, you seemed troubled,” Dumbledore said, his eyes sparkling. “Are you concerned about Rubeus?”

“How’d you-” Harry went to ask before stopping, folding his arms. “Occlumency.”

Dumbledore gave an amused smile and nodded. “Unfortunately, my child, you read like a book that has been left open.”

“Yes, sir, but you could at least ask before you read my mind.”

Dumbledore nodded. “But then, how would I keep abreast of developments in my school?” The headmaster said, smiling.

“But yes,” Harry said. “Hagrid got a dragon from someone. I’m kinda worried about a couple things, now that I think about it. He’s attached to the dragon so much he’s calling it Norbert, and it’s going to get larger and larger before it’s too large to fit in his hut.”

Dumbledore smiled serenly. “You are a problem-solver, Harry. Far be it from me to tell Rubeus he cannot do certain things… consider it a challenge from me, to solve this problem.”

“You can’t be straightforward, can you, Professor?”

“No.” Dumbledore said with finality, giving Harry a grin. “Now, let us begin our lesson for today…”

The following week complicated matters further.

Harry had convinced Ron to reach out to his brother Charlie (who was raising dragons in Dacia, of course) to take Norbert away, so that nobody would be harmed by it, and Harry’s ominous warning about someone being hurt seemed to be confirmed the following day.

While Ron was on his duty to help Hagrid feed Norbert (who was now over three times larger than he was when he’d hatched), Norbert had bitten Ron’s quill hand. The following morning, Ron had shown up at breakfast with a swollen hand wrapped in gauze, that was green and purple.

Harry had threatened him with bodily harm unless he went up to the hospital wing to talk to Madam Pomfrey. When they went up later to talk to him, Ron relayed that she had grilled him about what actually bit him as the antidote would depend on it.

“You didn’t tell her, did you?” Hermione had asked.

“Healers are bound by their oath to not reveal any pertinent details about their patients. Healer’s Compact of 1883,” Ron said, rubbing his hand. “Burns like hell,” He murmured.

Hermione looked at him like he’d grown a second head.

“She’s not going to rat us out?” Harry asked.

“Nah, though she did have some choice words for me, and says she’s going to bludgeon Hagrid within an inch of his life next time she seems him,” Ron said, letting out a dry chuckle.

The day they had agreed upon was full of it’s own complications–it was a dark and cloudy night, and they (being Draco and Harry underneath the invisibility cloak) were late in arriving at Hagrid’s hut due to Peeves blocking their way.

But they’d arrived, and Hagrid was ready, a large crate prepared. The crate itself was rattling loudly, and Hagrid was beside himself with grief.

Draco and Harry had slipped the crate under the invisibility cloak, and made their way back up to the school, to the Astronomy tower.

The quiet hallway was eerie as they made their way up, giving a strong sense of foreboding.

Once they’d arrived, they waited patiently in the tower until four broomsticks swept down from the sky. Charlie’s friends were a very cheery lot, and took the dragon graciously from them, and put him into a harness that would suspend him between the four of them.

And with a swoop, the four left with Norbert in tow. Harry and Draco sighed and wiped the sweat from their foreheads, taking in a deep breath of the night air. They stood there for a moment, before the sound of someone thudding up the stairs alerted the two boys.

They slipped the invisibility cloak back on, and waited patiently. The door loudly swung open, and Argus Filch peered around in annoyance.

“I swore I heard somethin,” He growled.

Harry and Draco slipped around Filch, and made their way downstairs as quickly and quietly as possible, and fled to the dungeons. They saw Dumbledore along the way, who was pacing the corridors for no earthly reason. Harry swore Dumbledore looked straight at him, nodded once, and turned a corner.

They managed to make it back to the boys dormitory without being caught, much to their satisfaction and relief. Harry could only imagine the infamy if he’d cost Slytherin more points. Forget the students, Snape would never forgive him.

He shuddered as he slipped into bed.

Chapter Text

The exam season was upon them, and Harry was having a rough go of things. Since early May, he’d begun to experience pain in his scar that made it nearly impossible to function. Despite being confined to the hospital ward twice, being given potions to take every day, and every diagnostic bother in the world, he was still suffering with the pain.

After a particularly painful jaunt, Dumbledore, with clear concern and worry lined in his eyes, had told Harry to take the remaining day off, and get some sleep.

“Harry,” Dumbledore had said, drawing the youth’s attention back to him. Harry turned and noticed the nuance. He wasn’t talking to Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster; he was once again talking to Albus Dumbledore, the “greatest wizard since Merlin”. He was drawn up to his full height, and his normally sparkling eyes were cold and steeled.

“I am leaving, today, for the Ministry. I have been summoned to discuss matters with the Head of the DMLE. Please be wary of danger to come, my boy.”

Harry felt a tightness in his chest as he silently nodded. Dumbledore folded his arms behind him, and gave a quiet nod. Harry went to the Slytherin dorms, and immediately went to bed, curling up and rubbing his scar in frustration.

Harry was startled awake by another nightmare, this time of dark shadows chasing after him. It was dark, and he could hear Blaise snoring to his right. A moment of serenity passed, and a chill went up his spine as he slowly realized there was somebody in the room with him. He squinted his eyes and realized it was the blurry shape of Professor Quirrell.

“Professor? What are you doing in here?”

It was the last thing Harry said before Quirrell raised his wand.

“Hm. Imperio,” Quirrell commanded.

Harry suddenly felt a numbness spread across his body, and began to suddenly move without intending to. Attempts at resistance didn’t seem to work very well, as he was unable to stop himself from getting dressed and following Quirrell closely behind. They made frequent stops to check the hallways. At one point, Quirrell had cast a stunner spell at both Filch and Mrs. Norris, before proceeding up to the third floor corridor.

After reaching a wooden door, Harry followed Quirrell close behind as he authoritatively summoned a harp and soothed the large cerberus that was guarding a wooden trapdoor. After opening it, Quirrell poked Harry in the back with his wand.

“Jump down there first, Potter.”

Harry had no choice but to comply, and leapt into the darkness, landing in a writhing mass of something.

“Alive?” Quirrell’s impatient voice called back.

“Yes.” Harry said unwillingly.

“Good,” He said, before leaping down and landing in the same writhing mass. Quirrell whipped his wand up and created a large, bright light which caused the writhing mass to begin to shrink and recede. Harry identified it as Devil’s Snare, a plant he’d read about in his Herbology book, one that was hostile to sunlight.

They landed on the ground, and Quirrell pointed for Harry to proceed to the next room. The room was full of keys that were whizzing around like little flies. A broom was nestled in the nearby corner. Quirrell frowned, “Accio key!” He said authoritatively.

A key zipped by and slammed into Quirrell’s hand, sending his wand spilling from his possession. It was quite unfortunate that the wand soon rolled into a nearby drainage grate, with the wand loudly clattering it’s way down into the lower dungeons.

Quirrell looked stunned, and Harry felt both control return to his limbs, and a sharp pain in his scar. However, he soon felt Quirrell’s hand grab the wand that was sticking out of Harry’s pocket.

Imperio,” Quirrell repeated a second time, though Harry noticed that this time the numb feeling did not happen. However, Quirrell still had a wand, so Harry quickly reasoned the best idea was to just play along.

Quirrell ordered him to track down the key, and so Harry did, with Quirrell tracking him the entire time. After managing to grab the golden key, Harry landed the broom and Quirrell forced him into the next room at wandpoint. The following room was clearly Professor Snape’s, given it involved potions and dramatic poetry.

A long-winded riddle that went on for quite too long, which was set to obfuscate whoever was trying to get access to whatever it was that laid beyond the door. Quirrell, who seemed to have a pretty good grasp on the logic (or had already figured it out earlier), picked up a potion and forced Harry to drink it, before drinking it once it refilled himself. As the two proceeded together into the final door, they found themselves in a small room, with a large mirror.

“Do you know why I brought you down here, Potter? It is easy for me to simply get here on my own, but the Stone… perhaps you are the solution to my problem. If not, well,” He let out a dry chuckle. “Easily contained. A small Obliviate and you’re back to your bed before you even realize you’ve been had, boy.”

“Go stand in front of the mirror, boy,” He coldly commanded, gesturing with the wand.

Harry made his way to the front of the mirror and peered into it. Harry wasn’t sure what the mirror was, but the inscription at the top was certainly interesting.

“What do you see?” Quirrell commanded.

The reflective image of Harry put a finger to their lips, before reaching into their pocket and pulling out a ruby red stone. They winked and then slipped it back into their pocket. As they did this, Harry felt a sudden weight in his right pocket, but didn’t move a hand towards it in fear of it being noticed.

“What do you see, boy?” Quirrell commanded a second time.

“I don’t see anything, sir,” Harry said, maintaining the same monotone voice.

“LIAR!” Quirrell shouted. “CRUCIO!”

A cry of pain rang out, but it came from the person behind Harry, rather than Harry. Quirrell fell to the ground and Harry’s wand clattered out of his hand. Harry picked up his wand and backed away from the professor.

Quirrell struggled to his feet, his breath ragged. “Oh, please, Potter. Your wand is useless as could be. It can’t even perform basic spells, how could you ever possibly hope to defeat me?”

“I don’t need to, sir,” Harry said. “I don’t need to at all.”

Quirrell, in something Harry felt belonged in a Muggle horror film, flew across the room and attempted to wrench Harry’s wand out of his possession. Harry grabbed Quirrell’s wrist as it made for Harry’s wand, and Quirrell began to scream in pain as the skin around where Harry was touching began to turn gray and ashen.

Harry withdrew his hand and clambered to his feet, and tried to make a run for it. As he approached the door to exit the chamber, green flames shot up in front of him, causing Harry to stop and face down Quirrell. Harry raised his wand and aimed it at Quirrell.

“Flipendo!” Harry shouted, performing the necessary wand movements. The now familiar hiccup surged through Harry and he saw the tip of his wand tip flicker red and orange. A stream of flames shot out of it, and Quirrell, who was in the middle of charging Harry once again, was caught in the face.

Harry felt sheer horror as he watched Quirrell become incinerated by his magic. The fire stream continued, slamming into the Mirror, shattering the glass into many pieces. The fire stream stopped, but the fire continued to consume the room.

Harry watched as a dark smoke began to lift from Quirrell’s body, and it turned on Harry and passed through him. Harry felt very cold, and fell to the ground, unconscious.

The first thing he noticed was that it was too bloody bright for him, like someone had put the sun right up against his face. As the light sensitivity faded, Harry was once again confronted with blurry people. Once again, his glasses landed on his face, and he came to look at Professor Dumbledore.

“My dear boy,” Dumbledore gave a quiet smile. “Good afternoon,”

“Sir!” Harry blinked in recognition, before rubbing his scar. “Where am I?”

“The Hospital Wing, of course,” Dumbledore said fondly, before gently puffing on his pipe. “You did well, Harry. Very well, indeed. I have never seen such resistant Fiendfyre in many years.”

“What’s Fiendfyre?”

“That is the spell you cast which defeated Voldemort’s bid at resurrection, my boy,” Dumbledore said with a wry chuckle.

“How long have I been out?”

“Oh… only a couple days, in fact. There are many people who will be quite pleased you are finally awake and well again. I’m very proud of you, Harry, you did fantastically… but I promise, I shall not repeat such errors in my judgement.”

“Sir, what exactly went on there? What was the… thing Quirrell was trying to get?”

“That, my young man, was the Philosopher’s Stone,” A new voice said. Harry peered over at the door, where a man who looked positively more ancient than Dumbledore strolled into the room, smiling.

“Nicolas,” Dumbledore breathed. “What a surprise, I didn’t expect you to visit.”

“I feel I should only thank the young man who saved us all a large headache,” Nicolas Flamel said with a smile. “Thank you, Mister Potter. For your help.”

“Indeed, we were fearful you wouldn’t wake up, Harry. But, the stone has been destroyed, and with it, another tool of misery has been removed from the public circulation.”

“Philosopher’s Stone… you mean that thing used in alchemy? Sir, doesn’t this mean that…”

“Yes, I will die, eventually,” Nicolas said with a wry chuckle. “As for how long, I am not sure. Perhaps it will be tomorrow, perhaps in a year, or maybe another twenty. That is the wondrous thing about mortality, something I wish I had learned long ago.”

Harry had more questions to ask Dumbledore, which the old man tried to answer as truthfully and best as he could. Questions about why Quirrell and Voldemort couldn’t physically touch him, why Voldemort had wanted the stone in the first place, and why Harry was able to retrieve the stone from the Mirror.

Dumbledore took a deep breath. “As for the stone… well, the spell I cast upon that Mirror, and the stone itself, was that only a person who had no intent of using the stone could retrieve it from the mirror; so that only those of noble intent could foil those with ill-intent, and it seems to have worked out quite nicely.”

Dumbledore and Flamel rose to leave, but not before helping themselves to one of the Bernie Botts’ beans sitting on the edge of Harry’s bed.

“Mister Weasley’s compliments, something about repaying you for a gift you gave him after the troll attack,” Dumbledore said, before picking one out. “I must profess, I used to have a taste for these, but after… a vomit-flavored one many years ago, I lost my appetite for them,”

Flamel helped himself to one and, after chewing it, grinned. “Cherry cola, what about you, Albus?”

“Alas,” Dumbledore said, his face sour. “Earwax.”

Harry was discharged the following day, having been denied access to his friends in the meantime. Upon his return to the Great Hall, his bones had nearly been crushed by Hermione who had wrapped him in a massive hug. Naturally, the story of what had happened in the third floor corridor had spread far and wide across the school.

He didn’t hold much long of a pity party before buckling down for exams the week following. Harry didn’t know if it was the latent magic or just the unfortunate early summer weather, but every room save for Snape’s was boiling hot, and was full of students who were decidedly uneager for exams– except for Hermione.

The first exam was Charms– Professor Flitwick called them into his office one by one to see if they could make a pineapple do a tap-dance across his desk. Hermione seemed very pleased when she emerged from the classroom, and Harry bit his lip and hoped his wand would behave itself. He got partial marks in Charms for the fact that he did get his pineapple to dance across the table, but unfortunately it didn’t tap-dance, it pogo-danced across the desk.

The second exam was Transfiguration, and unfortunately, Harry’s exam was monitored by an official from the Ministry. The nameless bureaucrat would observe and give marks or not depending on his performance. Harry’s mother seemed put off, but resigned. The goal was to turn a mouse into a snuffbox– points for decorative effort, points taken away for keeping whiskers around.

By some miracle, or grace of God, or what have you– Harry’s wand complied in a rare moment of peace, and transfigured the mouse into an ornate snuffbox decorated with little snitches. The proctor gave him full marks, and Harry felt incredibly pleased by the concept.

They did exams for Magical Theory, History of Magic, and Astronomy on parchment, and used freshly made Anti-Cheating Quills to ensure no violation of school rules by each student.

The final exam for Harry, held after the standard DADA exam was performed (which was a written exam only this year due to the Professor’s untimely demise). His DADA exam was performed privately before Professor Snape and Professor Dumbledore. Harry’s wand seemed more loyal as it was slightly easier to cast spells now that he knew the difficulty scale.

He had gotten acceptable marks on his DADA exam, which was good considering that he was taking an exam that combined first and second year materials.

After exams, Harry had gone down to see how Hagrid was doing. The half-giant was still beside himself.

“All my ruddy fault,” Hagrid said, nearly sobbing. “I told the bloody git how to get past Fluffy, I told him! I didn’t know that- you could’ve died! Just for a dragon egg! I’ll never drink again, I should be sent out to live as a Muggle!”

“Hagrid!” Harry said, grabbing what he could of the large man’s hand. “He’d have found out somehow. This is Voldemort we’re talking about, after all.”

“You could have died!” Hagrid said, borderline sobbing. “And don’t say his name!”

“VOLDEMORT!” Harry bellowed. A clay pot with a plant in it flew off Hagrid’s table and shattered on the ground. Hagrid seemed shocked and had stopped blubbering completely. “I’ve met the bastard, and I’m going to call him by his name. Fear in the name only amplifies fear in the person. Now, please, cheer up. We’ve saved the day, the stone is gone, and all sorts of other things,”

Harry dug around his pockets and procured a small package. “Here, have a chocolate frog. I’ve got more of them now than I care to count.”

Hagrid wiped his nose and accepted the gift. He set it on the table and snapped his fingers.

“That reminds me, I’ve… I’ve got a present for you,”

Harry ended up with a thick, leatherbound book in his hands. He gently opened and gasped. It was a book full of pictures of his birth parents.

“Sent owls off to all your parents’ old school friends, asking for photos. Knew it’d be hard for you to have any, what first livin’ with those Muggles, and then being adopted by Professor McGonagall.” Hagrid said with a nod.

“I love it,” Harry said quietly. “Thank you, Hagrid.”

That evening, Harry went to the End of Year feast, and found the entire Great Hall decorated in Gryffindor’s red and gold. Dumbledore had discussed with him the idea of publicly praising his service to the school, but Harry had demured, saying he didn’t want to take the cup away from Gryffindor for that reason– they deserved it.

That didn’t stop him from getting roped into a PR event where he was awarded with “Special Services to the School” in front of a Daily Prophet photographer and Lucius Malfoy, who was head of the Governor’s Board. Harry had felt quite sour after that, but had lived with it.

Seated at the Slytherin table next to Draco and Hermione, Harry let out a deep sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He was glad it was all done.

“What a year that has come and past,” Dumbledore said with a grand smile. “And I must trouble you now with the ramblings and trivial pursuits of an old man before we sink our teeth into a delicious feast. I hope that your brains, full and bursting with knowledge of the year shall retain those ideas, and return next year, eager for more.”

“Now,” Dumbledore said. “It is time for the House Cup, of course. In fourth place, Hufflepuff, with three-hundred and fifty-two points; Ravenclaw in third, with four-hundred and twenty-six; Slytherin in second, with four-hundred and seventy-two points… and finally, in first place, Gryffindor, with four-hundred and eighty points.”

A raucious cheer came up from the Gryffindor table, and Harry could see Neville and Ron making a bunch of loud noise and cheering.

Harry grabbed his goblet and raised a toast to them. Neville caught eye and nudged Ron. Ron picked up his goblet and did the same to Harry.

Dumbledore seemed to pick up on the gesture, and raised his own goblet.

“But despite this, remember we are all one family in ourselves. So let us raise a glass in remembrance of that fact. To family!”

A rumbling noise shook the room, and the great array of food appeared before them, and the students dug in with gusto.

The first year exam results were finally posted, and Harry had been interested to see where he’d come in. He’d nearly had a stroke when he saw his placement.

At the very top, to the surprise of literally nobody in first year, was Hermione Granger, who had gotten near to perfect marks in everything.

But right there, in number two, was his name. HARRY POTTER was written in a glittering green ink in the very familiar handwriting of his mother. He felt a welling of pride in his chest, and noticed Draco as a close third.

Neville had done well too, his mediocre (but not abysmal) Potions grade was kept from being an albatross around his neck due to his perfect grade in Herbology– Ron was rounded quite well, and had done acceptably in all classes.

And just like that, the year came to an end. Their trunks and wardrobes were packed away, and sent to the trains. Hagrid escorted the first years back across the water on boats, and helped them load up into the Hogwarts Express.

With a change back into Muggle attire, or whatever casualwear they liked, the students of Hogwarts returned to London’s King Cross stations in droves.

As they disembarked from the train, Professor- no, his mother was waiting, with Rolanda standing to her left, both of them smiling ear to ear. When they weren’t in school, his mothers looked totally different– gone was her long, conservative robe, and in its place was a collared blouse and a pair of blue jeans.

Harry ran and embraced his mothers in a hug, and grinned at them and his friends.

On the platform, he was introduced to Neville’s grandmother, who seemed shocked that her grandson was friends with Harry Potter. She seemed very taken in, and beamed ear to ear at her grandson, which Neville seemed to like.

Draco’s parents were a mixed bag of cordiality. Lucius was his typical cold and remote self, but Narcissa was very friendly, and had asked him at arm’s length about his time in Slytherin and if he enjoyed it. She mentioned that Draco constantly wrote about him, and seemed to enjoy having him around as a friend. That pleased Harry quite alot, and he said he couldn’t imagine not being Draco’s friend.

Narcissa seemed to be relieved slightly by that, and Harry wasn’t sure why.

He also met Hermione’s parents as well, which was nice, as since they were Muggles, they had no idea who he was. They treated him like just some kid, and he was forever thankful for that one. They seemed to approve of Hermione’s choice of friend.

And of course, the Weasley family was there, and Molly had caught Minerva in a mile-long conversation, the two loudly laughing and enjoying each other’s presence. Once the platform had cleared out some, Minerva and her wife collected their charge, and made their way to the Floo gates.

“I’m very proud of you, Harry,” Minerva said once they were out of earshot, kneeling down in front of her son. “Both with your grades, and your bravery,” She gently tucked his hair behind his ear. “You’re certainly your father’s son.”

Harry smiled, and hugged her. “Thank you.”

And with that, the trio (and Crookshanks) returned to Wulver’s Hollow.