Harry slipped out from between Ginny and Luna, careful not to wake them. Flora, who was sprawled across his legs, woke up but simply grinned on seeing him, yawned and went back to sleep. He made sure to recover his shoes this time before slipping into the cabinet.
Dean stared at Harry as he stepped out into their dorm room, everyone else was still asleep as usual.
"What?" Harry asked. He figured Dean was used to seeing him come out of the cabinet by now, so staring was unusual.
"You have lipstick on and kiss marks all over your face," Dean told him.
"They insisted," Harry told him, glad he'd managed to avoid wearing eyeliner and blush.
"And the cornrows?"
Harry reached up and felt his hair finding it was in tightly braided rows. "I fell asleep first," he realized and used his wand to quickly set things to rights.
Dean opened his mouth, paused and then closed it again, deciding he didn't want to know.
"Probably happened when I was practicing my Occlumency," he offered. "Hard not to fall asleep sometimes doing that."
"What's Occlumency?" Dean asked before he could stop himself.
"The magical art of ordering one's mind," Harry explained. "You've watched Sherlock Holmes on the telly, yeah?"
"Sure, great show," Dean agreed.
"You know when he goes on about a mind palace?"
"Yeah?" Dan asked curiously.
"Well, since we're magical we can actually do that," Harry explained.
"Is that why you know so much?" Dean asked, eyes lighting up.
"Exactly," Harry agreed. "You can build a castle in your mind and sort all your memories so you can remember things better."
"What kind of spells does it take?" Dean asked eagerly.
"No spells, just pure magic," Harry assured him. "Takes ages to get really good, but spend half an hour a day before you go to bed putting things in order and you can learn things a lot faster."
"Why hasn't anyone told me this before?" Dean demanded.
"It's considered a grey art," Harry replied with a shrug, "so most magicals don't do it."
"A muggle memory technique is considered a grey art?" Dean asked confused.
"Yeah, see there is a grey discipline called Legilimency that lets you peak in people's heads and it defends against that, so since they are connected it's considered grey as well," Harry explained.
"Wizards are mind readers?" he asked nervously.
"It's a rare skill, being considered a lot more towards the dark end of the spectrum," Harry assured him, "and it's more seeing memories than hearing thoughts like in muggle stories."
"And Occlumency protects against it?" Dean asked urgently.
"That's what it was made for," Harry assured him.
"Teach me!" Dean demanded.
"Sure," Harry agreed. "You don't mention the cabinet or anything strange about me and I'll make sure you get it down."
"The first thing you have to learn is to clear your mind," Harry told him.
"Exactly," he agreed. "Clearing your mind allows you to feel when someone else tries to direct your thoughts to memories they want to see."
"So you can only defend yourself if you're meditating when they attack?" Dean asked with a frown.
"If you were a muggle, then yes," Harry agreed with a grin, "but you are a wizard, so your magic learns the trick and does it without you doing anything, you just have to get it down."
"That's handy," Dean said, relieved.
"These two muggle skills pretty much cover Occlumency," Harry explained. "It's believed that squibs going into the muggle world are who spread the knowledge of them, but it could easily have been a muggleborn who brought them in and magic just makes them more effective."
"So, practice clearing my mind so I can detect intruders and build a mind palace so I can remember things better," Dean summed up.
"Yep," Harry agreed. "Once you have those mastered, I'll show you how to direct people peeking to things they don't want to see or throw them out altogether. Most Legilimens require eye contact, so simply looking away when someone tries works for just about everything too."
"That's a relief," Dean said.
"Well, I'm off to shower," Harry said. "Later."
Dean waved him off and sat down on his bed, deciding to try and meditate right away.
Harry finished getting dressed after a nice long shower, making sure to remove any perfume or makeup the girls may have tagged him with, and made an attempt to tame his hair.
Tiny Voldemort appeared on his shoulder. "Nice work with the Dean boy, since you have put him in your debt he'll use the very skills that did so to protect your secrets. I couldn't have done a better job myself."
Harry ignored him and struggled to pull the comb out of his hair. Looking at the comb he saw it was now missing several tines. Running his fingers through his hair and examining the floor failed to reveal where they'd gone.
Tiny Snape appeared on his right shoulder. "The Weasley twins' donation of newly discovered brooms to replace the worn-out ones delayed flying class by a week, giving you the time you needed to train Draco. Are you sure you didn't plan this in advance?"
"You're in my head, you tell me," Harry replied, deciding not to look too closely into what his hair had done to the comb as at least one of the tines looked to have been bitten off.
"It just seems too coincidental," Snape said. "Your luck has never been this good. Well, without an equal amount of bad anyway."
"I'm not the Boy-Who-Lived," Harry replied cheerfully, "that means I'm no longer Fate's chew toy. I was planning on doing this during the weekend rather than in class, so things lining up this way is just a happy coincidence, nothing more."
"But nothing in your life is a happy coincidence," Voldemort argued. "Fate hates you more than it does me."
"Or at least gets it's jollies off of watching you suffer," Snape added.
Harry pushed the two back down into the depths of his mind; he didn't need the distraction as they had DADA followed by flying lessons where they were going to find out if his plan worked or not. He quickly finished up and headed downstairs.
"Ready for breakfast?" he asked the first years who were gathered in the common room.
"Lavender is still doing her hair," Pavarti said, "she'll be down in a minute."
"I guess that just leaves Ron," Harry said, expecting someone would have to go wake him up.
"Leaves Ron for what?" Ron asked.
Harry looked over in surprise as Ron was already dressed and waiting. He still wasn't used to the 'new' Ron who was a lot more motivated than the old one.
"We got time for a rematch?" Ron asked hopefully, holding up his chess set.
"Might as well," Pavarti said with a grin, eager to see if Harry could convince the black pieces to attack Ron again. It's not that she had anything against him, it was just that it had been the funniest chess game she'd ever seen.
"Sure, set em up," Harry said.
"Good," Ron said. "I got Percy to carve a runic shield on the board so the pieces can't attack me this time."
There was a disappointed groan from half the students present.
Harry simply nodded and took a seat across from Ron while going through his mind for another way to screw with things. "Okay men, gather around," he said leaning forward to whisper to them while pulling a handful of jellybeans from his pocket.
Ron was busy whispering to his own pieces, having seen how effective giving them a small speech to bolster their courage could be.
"The demon general is wise to what we pulled off last time, but have no fear, I've got a backup plan," Harry whispered.
"Tell us more My Lord," one of the bishops begged with an eager gleam to his eyes.
Harry set the jellybeans in front of the group and gestured with his right hand, the candy turning into a small pile of iron shields and maces. "We will crush our foes with superior weapons!"
The black pieces cheered and quickly passed out their new gear, hiding them behind their backs before they retook their places.
The students behind Harry's side of the board snickered and waited eagerly for the battle to come.
"Engorgio," Fred cast, causing the board and its pieces to triple in size.
"Thanks," Ron told his brother before turning back to his pieces. "Our fate is victory!" he told his pieces. "Are you with me?"
The white pieces cheered and took their spots, heads held high, sure of their win.
"Ready?" Harry asked Ron.
"Ready," Ron agreed. "Your move."
"Ready men?" Harry asked the foot-tall figures.
"Aye, my liege," The king said, "just say the word."
"Attack!" Harry called out.
The black pieces whipped out their iron weapons and shields and rushed across the board, dismembering the opposing pieces while Ron stared in shock.
"Mercy!" The White King yelped as he fell to his knees, throwing his crown on the board, his queen pinned down by The Black Queen in a choke hold.
"That has to be against the rules," Hermione said while trying not to giggle as the rest of the students laughed.
"It's going to take me forever to put them back together," Ron complained as a white pawn picked up an arm and tried to stick it back in place before realizing it wasn't his.
"I've not seen one rule against either mass attacks or improving my side's equipment," Harry told Hermione.
"Probably cause no one's ever been barmy enough to do it before," Ron said while the black pieces celebrated their victory by taking turns teabagging The White King who looked most put out.
"You go eat breakfast we'll fix the set," George told his younger brother.
"And arm them properly," Fred added, amused at seeing his brother lose but wanting to see them put on a level playing field again to see what Harry would come up with next.
Lavender came down the stairs. "What'd I miss?" she asked, wondering why everyone was laughing.
"Any problems?" Harry asked as the four house lead students gathered with their seconds, Draco having chosen Greengrass while Padma had chosen Goldstein.
"I have to provide extra tutoring for Goyle and Crabbe, but they are keeping acceptable grades," Draco offered.
"We have study groups for all of Hufflepuff," Bones said, "so no one falls behind, but the older students seem a bit shocked by how well we're doing."
"Not surprising," Hermione said, "our class is mostly scoring in the upper ten percent for every year I could find records in."
Harry grinned. Who knew that making it a point of pride and encouraging students their own age to work with them could have this great of an effect?
"None of my Ravens are having problems with their classwork," Patil said with a simple nod, as it came as a surprise to no one.
"No problems in Gryffindor as you know," Hermione told Harry.
"We are on track to be the best class in Hogwarts history," Harry said, noting the pride in their eye, "let's keep at it."
Everyone got up to rejoin their house tables, except Susan and Hannah who simply switched seats since the meeting had been held at their house table.
"Malfoy, a moment of your time," Harry said as something occurred to him, causing Draco and Daphne to pause, as well as Hermione who as Harry's second kept a close eye on everything.
"Have you considered teaching Crabbe and Goyle Occlumency?" Harry asked.
"I'm not sure they have the… capacity," Draco admitted.
"Occlumency doesn't require intelligence it requires magic and effort," Harry told him, "and they are both from proven family lines." He wasn't about to spout pureblood propaganda, but he had no problem appealing to their belief in it to manipulate them.
Draco slowly nodded. "I'll take it under advisement," he said formally, a thoughtful look on his face.
After they'd returned to their table Hermione asked, "Proven lines?"
"Purebloods put a lot of stock in blood purity," Harry said, making it up as he replied, "which causes them to look down on anyone not as 'pure', which causes some problems. Now, if I can get them thinking of it as proven and unproven instead..."
"Then they'll be more willing to accept people who have proven themselves to be skilled," Hermione quickly realized.
"Muggleborns already have to work hard to prove themselves," Harry said seeing how this could work in their favor, "this way they'll have something to show for it. Anyway, it's just an idea, it'll still take years to catch on even if things work out right."
"And what's Occlumency?" Hermione asked as Harry made himself a plate of food.
"A magical way to improve your mind," Harry replied. "Learn to meditate and create a mind palace, magic makes it insanely more effective," he quickly summed up.
"Why wasn't this in the muggleborn information packet?" she complained.
"Because it's considered a grey art," Harry replied. "No, there's really no real reason for it, now eat."
Hermione sighed and made herself a plate. "Some things about the magical world just don't make any sense."
Harry laughed. "You've seen the stupid laws that get passed in the muggle world, right?"
"Like what?" she asked.
"In Liverpool it's illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store. In the city of York, you can legally murder a Scotsman if he's carrying a bow and arrow, except on Sundays," Harry recited.
"You've got a point there," she conceded. "I guess politicians are the same in both worlds."
"I think ours are actually dumber," Harry said. "Ready for DADA?"
"Of course," she agreed with a smile, eager to show off to Harry since she couldn't show off to the teachers without taking valuable teaching time away from the other students.
Harry let her voice wash over him as she talked about her preparation for class and the instructional booklets she'd made and passed out to the rest of the first-year students between bites of food.
He made sure to give her agreeing nods as she spoke, knowing how much it meant to her to have her work appreciated.
"...and that's why dolphins wear slacks," she finished.
"Excellent work," Harry told her, "except that bit at the end you tossed in to see if I was listening."
Hermione blushed. "Sorry, just used to being tuned out after a while."
"I'm listening," Harry assured her, "I didn't feel the need to add anything because you covered it all perfectly."
"Ready for class?" Harry asked, already knowing the answer.
"Ready!" she exclaimed brightly and hopped to her feet.
Harry grinned. "Then off to class we go."
The rest of the first years quickly finished what they were eating and grabbed their bags.
Harry slid behind a suit of armor just off the entryway to the great hall and into a hidden passage. It was almost pitch black, so he wasn't surprised when Hermione grabbed his left hand.
He snapped his right hand out and his wand slipped into his palm. "Lumos!" Even with the small passage brightly lit, she kept hold of his hand so he decided to reassure her. "This leads straight to the hall outside the DADA classroom except on Sundays, when it leads to… I've never checked, actually."
"We can do that this weekend," Hermione suggested.
"Sounds good," Harry agreed as they reached a dead end and he tapped on it and whistled, causing the stone to ripple like water before he pulled her through it.
The entire Gryffindor class filed into the hall and then the wall rippled once more with Draco followed by the Slytherins.
Draco grinned. "You know all the shortcuts," he said with a shrug.
Harry laughed. "Very cunning of you," he complimented him before they'd all entered the classroom, and took their seats, Hermione and Daphne doing a headcount and making sure their respective houses had their study guides.
"We've got at least twenty minutes until the professor arrives," Draco noted.
"I hate the way he smells of garlic, it makes my nose itch," Lavender complained.
Tracy nodded. "It gives me a headache."
Harry considered teaching them the bubble head charm, but that was seventh year material. The fresh air charm might work, but he didn't think they had time to learn it. He smiled as he got the perfect idea. "When is a jinx not a jinx?" he asked.
Everyone just gave him confused looks.
"Is that a riddle?" Daphne asked.
"No," Harry said, "but I know a minor jinx that is easy to master and kills your sense of smell for a couple of hours. Anyone want to learn it?"
"Bless you, Potter," Tracy said. "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but will you please jinx me?"
"Sure, name your poison," Harry joked, getting a snicker from some of the students.
Tracy snorted. "The smell deadening one."
"It's barely even a jinx," Harry said. "Watch closely everyone." He leaned over and tapped her on her nose. "Boop."
"Boop?" Hermione asked in disbelief. "Boop is a spell?"
"Barely one," Harry said while Tracy felt her nose and smelled the air.
"My nose feels numb," Tracy said.
"That's how you know it's working." Harry assured her.
The students started jinxing each other.
"That was my eye," Dean complained.
"You weren't using it to smell anyways," Seamus replied.
"Aim is important," Hermione pointed out happily.
The students had all finished jinxing one another by the time Quirrell had arrived.
As Quirrell walked to the front of the class Harry felt a light probe from Voldemort and directed it to a false mindscape of himself playing fetch with a puppy in a meadow.
He saw a slight twitch from the back of Quirrell's head.
Tiny Voldemort appeared on Harry's left shoulder. "I do believe he saw through your little ruse," he commented dryly. "My other self rolling his eyes hard enough to be noticed through the turban is a bit of a giveaway."
Tiny Snape appeared on Harry's right shoulder. "I told you that scene was too unrealistic, you should have gone with my suggestion."
Tiny Voldemort turned to Snape. "I'm not sure plotting to poison your father is a typical first year thought."
"It was for me," Tiny Snape replied, "and if you'd known your father, I'm sure you'd have done the same."
"Alright, you have me there," Tiny Voldemort admitted.
Harry almost pushed them back down into his subconscious before deciding to leave them out, their running commentary would be a welcome distraction from Quirrell's poor teaching methods.
Typing by: fyrewolf5
TN: Now I'm curious and afraid to find out what is up with Harry's hair.