Hi, everybody, I've just finished this new story, which I'll post as a two-shot. I've been pondering about a lot of stories where Harry gets some kind of wake-up call in his later years at Hogwarts. Now I thought, what if he got it early into his first year? What if he did something normal, like simply asking for help from his classmates and teachers? Well, this little story is the result.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and only play in JKR's sandbox.
Summary: Harry overhears a conversation between two of his teachers early into the first year at Hogwarts. What he hears makes him ponder about how he's going about his school work. He decides to take action and make his parents proud of his performance. Just how will that little change influence the events taking place at the school?
Darkness had fallen outside and the way clouds were assembling over the mountains promised rain during the night. Harry was on the way back to Gryffindor Tower. He had just finished Quidditch training and really wanted to take a long, hot shower. It had been quite cold on his broom and Oliver was a slave driver when it concerned Quidditch drills. The only positive thing was that the rain that seemed to be coming hadn't decided to start while the Gryffindor team had still been training.
When he turned around the corner to take the next set of stairs upstairs, sometimes he cursed the fact that the Gryffindor common room was on the seventh floor, even if he loved the view from any of the windows over the large grounds, he heard two people talking in low voices. Or at least it seemed to be like that, as he was quite a bit away from them. When he got closer, he recognised them as Professors McGonagall and Flitwick.
"So again your new students can't really compete with the top of the year," Flitwick said with a somewhat disappointed voice.
"Sadly yes. And I had so much hope for Miss Granger and Mr Potter when the year started. Miss Granger seemed to be so well-prepared and from how intelligent James and Lily were, I thought their son would have similar traits. Especially Lily couldn't wait to learn anything about magic. But Potter simply doesn't put the effort into this classes. I know that he's quite bright, but for some reason he appears to not want to do too well in his classes. I have seen the first grades of all our colleagues and it really pains me that nearly all my Gryffindors rank lower than the other houses," Professor McGonagall admitted sadly.
"Could it be that Mr Potter looks too much towards Mr Weasley? I had the impression that he didn't want to anger him by doing better in class," Flitwick asked.
Harry pondered about that. Did he really do that? Well, in primary school he had had to hide his intelligence to not have Dudley beat him up even more than he already did. Not to mention that Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon always yelled at him if he did better than Dudley.
"It might be. But if he continues like that, he'll never manage to be seen as more than the Boy-Who-Lived. You know how people are. They look for the most outstanding characteristics and if there aren't any, they'll make them up. I can understand that he had trouble finding into life here, thanks to his relatives never telling him anything about the wizarding world, but I would think he of all muggle-raised people would have read the introductory books closely," McGonagall huffed.
'Which introductory books?' Harry thought. 'I never got any kind of books like that, only the school books. Perhaps Dean can help, he's muggleborn after all.'
Harry was determined to find out if there were that kind of books that muggleborns got, but he didn't, because everybody expected him to know everything about the wizarding world for some stupid reason.
"Yes, he should have. Professor Dumbledore would have told him to read them before coming here," Flitwick agreed.
'When would I have spoken to Professor Dumbledore? Hagrid took me shopping,' Harry wondered.
"I just hope that some of my Gryffindors will come around soon. I mean, I can take that your students are at the top of the year ranking, you lead the house for the smart students after all, Filius, but having all the Hufflepuffs and the smarter Slytherins overtaking my students really hurts," McGonagall said.
'Wait a moment, didn't Hermione do especially well in our classes? I mean she was the first one to at least do something to her match first class. And she said she had been able to do some easier spells on the train,' Harry was confused. 'And wasn't Hermione at the top of the list that was posted at the Gryffindor notice board?'
He was determined to find that part out now. And perhaps he really should put more effort into his work. He really didn't want to disappoint his head of house like that. She had after all allowed him to join the Quidditch team and even given him his broom. The least he could do was doing better in class and try to overtake a few others in the overall ranking.
Harry looked at the notice board and his suspicion was confirmed. In the ranking at the end of the first two months Hermione was at the top of the list for the Gryffindor first years. But there was no mention of where they were in the overall ranking of their year. His next stop was Dean, who sat on his bed, laughing about something Seamus had told him.
"Hey, Dean, I have a question that I thought you might be able to answer," Harry asked when he stored his Nimbus 2000 in his trunk.
"Sure, Harry, what do you want to know?" Dean asked.
"I overheard some teachers talk about an introductory book for muggleborns. Does that really exist?" Harry asked.
"Yes. Actually there are three, but Professor McGonagall gave me a copy of the most important one when she visited me and my family to tell me that I was a wizard. I was told the titles of the other two, but I don't have them. I asked at Flourish & Blott's what additional information they had and mostly it was about the kinds of jobs in the wizarding world, which will probably useful when it's time to decide that part, and the other on magical households. I decided that I could get that one later as well, as I'll live with my parents till graduation anyway, so if I want to take a wizarding flat that would be when I need that knowledge," Dean informed Harry. "Professor McGonagall then arranged a date to take us to Diagon Alley for school shopping and told me to read as much of the book as I could before that, as it would help a lot in understanding the wizarding world. She also told me that it was expected that muggleborns put in the effort to fit into the wizarding world better," Dean answered.
"Do you by any chance have that book with you? I didn't get one when Hagrid took me school shopping. Probably he wasn't aware that I would need one as I'm not muggleborn. Even if I know as much as any muggleborn new to the wizarding world would," Harry said, surprising Seamus.
"Wait, so you had no idea you were a wizard before you got your letter?" He asked shocked.
"No, my aunt and uncle hate magic and always told me it didn't exist. They even tried to prevent me coming to Hogwarts by not allowing me to read my letter. Then Uncle Vernon even tried to outrun the letters, but on my birthday Hagrid came and told me everything and took me school shopping," Harry said.
"No wonder that you have so much trouble in class!" Dean exclaimed. "Sure, I have the book with me."
"Uh, what should I know that helps in class?" Harry asked having a bad feeling.
"In the book there are some really important exercises to have an easier time to use your magic correctly. Not to mention that I would be a disaster in Potions if I hadn't read the basic techniques for brewing. It's not really a lot, but without them you would be completely lost," Dean said.
"Great and no teacher thought to tell me before now. Can I borrow your book until I can order my own?" Harry asked. "And if I think about it, the last two would probably be something I should also read as people always think that I should know everything."
"Of course, Harry," Dean said and looked for the book in his trunk.
"Uhm, this might be a personal question, Harry, but as I understand your relatives don't like you having magic. Is that the reason why the only clothes that seem to fit you are the school uniforms?" Seamus asked carefully.
"Yes," Harry confirmed sighing. "They couldn't be bothered to get me anything that fit. The clothes I have were all Dudley's, my cousin, at one point and he is on his way to become as large as a baby killer whale."
"Really, that's bad. If you want, you could owl order some fitting ones. I know that Parvati and Lavender have a catalogue for clothes. I know that I overheard some older students mocking your clothes behind your back," Seamus suggested.
"That's possible? I would really like some new clothes. But how would I be able to pay the bill? My money is at Gringotts and I only have some spending money with me," Harry asked.
"You can authorize the goblins to transfer the amount of the bill by sending them a letter and a copy of the bill. You just need to fill out the order form with what you want and how many of each and then give them your personal information. That contains your name and birthday and where the things you order should be delivered. My Mam uses that service quite a lot. She says that the companies shrink the items you order down to fit into a package that one or two owls can carry easily and then send them off," Seamus explained.
"That's neat. I'll ask Parvati at dinner. Thanks, Seamus," Harry said gratefully.
"No problem, Harry," Seamus replied.
"Hah, found it!" Dean cried out triumphantly. "Here you are, Harry." He handed Harry a green book that seemed to have about a hundred and fifty pages.
On the cover he saw the title and some pictures from Diagon Alley.
"Thanks, Dean. I'll give it back as soon as I have my own copy. Do you know where I can get an owl order form for Flourish & Blott's?" Harry asked.
"They should lie out in the common room," Dean answered.
Harry nodded, but wondered why nobody had told them this when they arrived.
Harry needed three days to get through the book as he used every free minute that he had to get through the information he should have been given before even starting at Hogwarts. He was really angry that he hadn't known all of the important things that were mentioned. This would have been really useful in class. Not to mention that he now had to make a trip to the hospital wing to get his inoculations against the most common wizarding diseases. He surprised Madam Pomfrey when he asked if she could take care that he got them all and when asked why he didn't go to St. Mungo's before school started, he truthfully said that he hadn't known that he needed to do that because Hagrid forgot to give him the introductory book for muggleborns.
She then took care of him having all shots and also gave him the basic physical exam that all first-years also had to have done. She wasn't impressed with his physical condition. There were some problems with nutrients, but thankfully it wasn't too bad. Aunt Petunia had never really starved Harry, but he didn't get to eat as much as he would have liked and there were periods when he went hungry after a case of accidental magic, now he knew what it was, or when Dudley had accused him of doing something wrong, normally to hide his own wrongdoings. That had caused him to be a bit too small and underweight for his age. His eyes also needed some treatment as having to stay in the small and most often dark cupboard hadn't done them any favours. She told him that she would have to arrange a visit with an optician as his prescription was wrong for his eyes, which only harmed them more. Otherwise she gave him a potion to increase his appetite so that he would eat more at meals to make up for the height and weight problems.
With a bit of time and good food he should catch up to the others in his year easily. Harry was happy to hear that, even if the potion didn't taste nice. She told him to come to her once every two weeks to get a new dose of the potion. She would check his progress once a month to see if that was all that needed to be done. Harry nodded and promised to do that.
After finishing with the introductory book, he started taking up some suggestions on how to better keep up in class. The book suggested, as muggleborns didn't have an easy understanding of how magic worked, compared to wizarding raised children that grew up around magic, that you read the next two chapters of your books before the classes. It would help you get the concepts that the teachers talked about better and would let you have more success. Another tip was to make small cards for any kind of potions ingredient you used in class and write down the main properties and what effect each method of preparation would have for it. Over time you would get a big card box, but it made learning Potions much easier next to Herbology and in some parts Care of Magical Creatures.
Next to that you should practice the beginner spells that you learned until they came to you naturally to get a better feeling for the flow of your magic. So, to the ire of Ron, who didn't understand why Harry had suddenly turned into a bookworm, Harry started doing just that. And once he got into the habit of reading, his reading speed increased as well. The practicing was no problem, that was fun and now that he knew why he should practice the spells he had already learned, he made a habit of writing them down and then performing them one after another until he could do them ten times of ten. He also asked where he could get a card box like the book had recommended and in the end Angelina promised to get him one when she went to Hogsmeade the next time as he wasn't allowed to visit the village yet.
Harry's book and clothes orders arrived two days apart about a week after he had sent the requests out with Hedwig. He looked at the total amounts on the bills and thought it wasn't that much. Dean had told Harry that while the exchange rates from pounds to galleons and the other way round were a bit skewed up, you could say that you got about the same amount of things for one galleon as for fifty pounds. He had to pay two sickles for each of the books and four galleons for his new clothes. He had ordered four basic sets of trousers and shirts, all with added convenience charms like auto temperature and tear protection, some sets of underwear and socks and some everyday robes on advice of Parvati and Lavender who had proven to have a good sense of fashion. Harry was glad that the two girls had helped him out choosing new clothes as he had honestly been lost on what to get except for the basics.
So from there on he finally didn't have to wear Dudley's old clothes anymore. The only class where he used one of Dudley's old shirts over his normal clothes was Herbology, as in that class you easily got dirty.
Next to better preparing for classes, he set two hours each day aside for doing his homework. It depended on when he had Quidditch training, but after asking the three chasers how they organised getting their homework done while playing, he had some good ideas on how to work. Angelina and Alicia's suggestions were especially useful as they had two or three more classes that they took than he did with electives being started in third year. Angelina told him to prioritize his homework assignments by days. For example if you got a Transfiguration essay on Monday that was due on Friday, you should start looking up information on Wednesday at the latest. That way you got it done on time and well enough to satisfy your teachers. And normally you got one bigger assignment per class in one week next to practicing spells that you learned in class while you were in first year. So with that method you could easily get all of it done while still having enough free time.
"Why are you studying again, Harry? Come on, let's play chess," Ron whined.
"Ron, I have told you that I want to get my homework done and have the weekend free," Harry sighed. "While Oliver has thankfully conceded that with the snow Quidditch training outside wouldn't work out well, he has somehow found out about how muggle sports teams train and he got an empty classroom for our team to work on things that can be trained without a broom. Which means he'll have all of us do physical exercises on the weekend. I know that with that I'll probably be too sore to concentrate on homework."
"But we have more than enough time to get everything done," Ron tried again.
"Ron, I think it's a good thing that Harry wants to get his homework done early on. Why don't you join us until he's done and play chess afterwards?" Hermione suggested.
"No, I don't want to do homework now. I want to play chess," Ron complained.
Harry thought he sounded like a toddler that was denied sweets.
"Then ask somebody who's not doing his homework," Hermione snapped. "Why not Neville? He's simply watching Dean and Seamus."
"Hmph," Ron said, but walked over to ask Neville to play.
"Honestly. What's wrong with him?" Hermione complained.
"I don't know," Harry answered and turned his eyes back onto his Herbology book.
Harry got a real surprise when the next ranking of their year appeared on the board in the common room the week before the Christmas break started. He had climbed from being sixth of their year in Gryffindor to being tied for first with Hermione. That was at least some improvement. He just wondered where he was overall in his year. Perhaps he could ask Professor McGonagall. He told Hermione and Ron that he was going to see their head of house and before Ron could ask too many questions about the reason, he was out of the common room. It didn't take long until he had reached Professor McGonagall's office. He knocked and was called inside.
"Mr Potter, what can I do for you?" McGonagall asked surprised.
"I wondered if you could answer some questions that I had, Professor," Harry answered.
"I'll do my best, Mr Potter. Please take a seat," She pointed at an armchair in corner where two other armchairs were next to a table.
"Thank you, Professor," Harry replied and sat down in the comfortable armchair.
"Would you like some tea?" She asked.
"Yes, please," Harry agreed.
She conjured a tea set and put a cup in front of him.
"How do you take it?" She wanted to know.
"Just half a spoon of sugar please," Harry answered and took the cup after she was finished.
When McGonagall had her tea ready, she looked at him expectantly.
"So what kind of questions did you have, Mr Potter?"
"Well, first I wondered about the class rankings that were posted again today. I noticed that there wasn't any information how we did compared to the other houses. Just Gryffindor. I found out at the beginning of November that I didn't get the introductory book for muggleborns and Dean loaned me his copy that you gave him during the visit he got until I got my own. After I read the book, classes became a lot easier for me. I also remembered how Hagrid told me that my Mum and Dad were headboy and headgirl in their time here, when he took me school shopping in Diagon Alley and you only get that position if you have really good grades. I don't want to disappoint them, so I tried doing better in class," Harry explained.
"I see," She said and pursed her lips. Then she smiled. "I noticed that you improved from November on, but I didn't know that you had had such a disadvantage in the beginning. I was of the opinion that Professor Dumbledore had taken you to introduce you to the wizarding world. Well, we indeed only post the rankings within the houses as most students aren't too concerned about their overall standing in the year. Especially the younger years normally only care for passing their classes properly. I guess you would like to know your overall ranking as you asked?"
"That would be great," Harry confirmed.
Professor McGonagall walked over to a filing cabinet and pulled out a normal looking brown file.
"This is your student file. Each teacher informs the head of the student's house once a month about the overall grades the students reached in class. The heads of houses have the responsibility to tell the students in their house if they are failing their classes and if there is a serious problem with the students simply not getting the material tutoring can be arranged. Next to that I got the examination report from Madam Pomfrey about your visit with her. The other students had the healers at St. Mungo's forward them. Next to your grades the file also contains reports on disciplinary actions that were given out," She explained.
"Okay, that makes sense," Harry agreed.
"Now, during the first ranking after two months you were ranked thirty second of the year. Which makes a lot more sense now that I know that you didn't have the book. For the last ranking you reached nineteenth of your year, sharing the spot with Miss Granger," She informed him. "I was very pleased to see a real improvement in your grades. Where you were previously simply passing your classes, now you normally get above average grades with really good ones in Charms and Transfiguration."
Harry nodded, that was good to know.
"How comes that Hermione isn't better than that? I would have thought that she would rank higher? I mean, she always puts so much effort into her work," Harry asked, honestly curious about that part.
If he, by simply doing a bit more, managed to climb thirteen ranks, why didn't she do better with all the work she did?
"Well, Miss Granger has a very impressive amount of information that she learned by heart, but in some classes that's not enough. You need to understand the material and express it in your own words. Not to mention that after an orientation period of three months the teachers expect that the students learn how to structure their essays to the point. Miss Granger, despite many comments on her essays to keep to the assigned length of the essay, hasn't understood that it will influence her grades negatively. That's why she isn't ranked higher," Professor McGonagall answered. "Next to that we don't only take into account that a student can perform a spell, we also watch how well the student does the spell. In the beginning it is enough to simply get the effect you are looking for, but after the first three months we want to see a beginning feeling for your magic. The earlier you learn to feel if a spell is working correctly, the easier you'll have it later on. Silent casting, which means using spells without the incantations, is taught from sixth year on to the NEWT students. If you don't have that feeling for your magic and can use it instinctually, you won't ever learn silent casting."
That was interesting to know. And it made sense to him. You had to build up basic knowledge and skills in any kind of sports too for example. You couldn't start running one day and expect to be able to run a full marathon.
"Okay, what would I need to do to improve my ranking more? While I'm happy that I already managed to climb higher, I would like to be better. I always hear that my parents were so great at school that I feel I should be able to at least get into the top ten," Harry said.
"Well, the two classes that drag your grades down most are Potions and History of Magic. And while I know that many Gryffindors have trouble in Professor Snape's classes, his grades are always completely fair. No teacher can give a student better or worse grades than their work is worth. It is a rule of the school and part of the teacher's contract. The penalties to not grade fairly are too severe for any teacher to risk that," McGonagall pointed out.
"The only thing a teacher can do is setting a high standard for all students, which Professor Snape does. But his subject is more dangerous than for example Charms, as it is more difficult to undo consequences of accidents. Therefore he has the right to grade harsher. The one thing required is that he does that with all students. If you really want to improve, you should look up books on ingredient preparation and reasons for the use of certain brewing methods. As the Christmas break is starting next week, you can probably find the information you need then. Madam Pince will be able to point you to the books that are the most helpful in that regard."
"Thank you, I'll try that. Another thing I wondered about, is there a way to prevent my relatives from taking away my school things when I return there next summer?" Harry asked.
"Why would they do that?" She asked shocked.
"They hate magic and call it freakish. Last summer they were too scared of what I could do to them now that I knew about magic to try anything. They'll think that if I don't have my things they'll be safer. And I'm really not strong enough to make Uncle Vernon see reason that I need to do homework or anything," Harry answered honestly.
"That's indeed a problem. I knew that they were the worst sort of muggles after watching them before you were placed with them, but I wasn't informed of any problems when I asked about your condition over the years," McGonagall informed him.
"You asked about me? And you watched them?" Harry exclaimed surprised.
She gave him a small sad smile.
"Indeed I did. Your parents were some of my favourite students and I kept in contact with them after they graduated. Your father especially was a one of a kind prodigy in Transfiguration. He had a natural talent for it like you seem to have for flying. So when I heard about the rumours of your parents dying and you surviving the attack on your home, I was of course worried and didn't know if the rumours had it right or not. There were too many ridiculous stories flying around to be sure what was true and what not. From Madam Pomfrey, who had treated your injuries after the attack, you had some cuts and bruises from when the room was destroyed by the backfiring killing curse, I had heard that Professor Dumbledore planned to leave you with your maternal relatives. I went there early in the morning, as classes had been cancelled for a week, as nobody could keep the students concentrated on their studies. Not to mention that many teachers were also too happy that the threat of Voldemort was gone," She added with a small smile.
"I thought going there early on was my best option, as I didn't know when exactly Professor Dumbledore planned leaving your there. I really wasn't impressed with the family. The son was allowed to get away with anything, even kicking his mother, the father was overweight to the extreme and the mother nasty and backstabbing. Not to mention she looked down on the babies of other families when she was at the playground with her son," McGonagall described. "I argued against the plans of the headmaster, but he insisted that it would be best for you if you grew up away from your fame, which you wouldn't be able to understand as a small child. I conceded to that point and as your aunt was your mother's sister, I thought that over time she would probably be able to care for you. Lily was a wonderful person, always kind and helpful, even if she could have a nasty temperament. In her younger years here at Hogwarts that mainly happened when your father and his friends played another prank on somebody. Your father needed to grow up a bit before she started to like him."
"Wow, I never knew that. Aunt Petunia never talks about Mum and I'm not allowed to ask questions," Harry said in wonder about finding out more about his parents.
McGonagall hid a frown. No wonder that the boy needed time to get used to things. If he had always been forbidden to ask questions, he would first need to feel safe enough to ask.
"I'll see to it that your trunk and your owl cage are warded before you return home, Mr Potter. There are ways to keep anybody not keyed into wards from taking the things protected by them away," She promised.
"Thank you, Professor, that's great. Another question I had was how I could travel easiest when I'm staying in the muggle world. I mean, I couldn't really pay for anything as I only have wizarding currency and not muggle currency," Harry said. "Last time Hagrid paid for my train tickets, but when I need more supplies, it'll be difficult to get to Diagon Alley."
"You did read the passage about the floo system in your introductory book, correct?" She asked.
"Yes, I did. It sounds like a neat way to get from one point to another, but Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon will never agree to let a connection be installed at their house," Harry said confused.
"I realise that and it's also not allowed to connect muggle houses to the network. But there is a squib that lives in your neighbourhood. Her name is Arabella Figg and she's an old acquaintance of mine. If I asked her to allow you to use her floo access, that would solve the problem," McGonagall explained.
"Huh, Mrs Figg knows about the magical world?" Harry asked surprised.
"You know her?" McGonagall now asked in surprise.
"Yes, she babysat me when the Dursleys went on trips or on vacation. While I liked her house better than Number 4, it always reeked of cabbage and she insisted on showing me the pictures of all of her cats," Harry grumbled a bit. "Uh, what's a squib?"
"A squib is a person with two magical parents who can't use magic himself. Basically it's the opposite of a muggleborn," McGonagall explained.
"How does that happen?" Harry asked. "I thought if your parents were magical you would be as well."
"Nobody really knows. Some dunderheads have theories that muggleborns stole the magic from squibs, but that's really ridiculous. Those people are bigots that simply look for reasons to deny muggleborns the right to learn magic like all other witches and wizards. The more likely possibility is that squibs that went to live in the muggle world had families and that in their descendants the combination of traits coincidentally resulted in a witch or wizard being born. Nobody really traces squib lines down, so it is a distinct possibility. I personally think that thanks to many people marrying people that were too closely related to them, because they wanted to keep their lines pure, they weakened their bloodlines and magic retaliated by making their children squibs," She pointed out.
"Like marrying your cousin?" Harry asked with a horrified expression on his face.
"Yes. Some were crazy enough to marry first or second cousins. One family that is extinct now even forced siblings to marry. The Gaunts never had much sense. The last two children, Morfin and Merope I think they were called, were very weak magically and didn't get letters to Hogwarts. I only know because an uncle of mine needed to go there as a member of the law enforcement patrol in a case of muggle baiting and injuring," She told him. "The son was sent to Azkaban for life later on for murdering a muggle family that lived in the village. The father died shortly after being released from Azkaban and nobody really knew what happened to the daughter except that the goblins one day declared the Gaunt line extinct in the male line with nobody living with the surname Gaunt."
Harry swore he would never marry a close relative. That was simply wrong.
"Okay, I think that would help with the travelling. And if I can take my trunk with me through the floo I can simply walk to the station for the school train. Charing Cross Road isn't too far away from King's Cross station." Harry pondered.
"Or you could simply use the floo to one of the secluded floo points around King's Cross station. Most people in the wizarding world either apparate or use the floo to get to the station. While we couldn't manage to get enough fireplaces onto the platform, the Ministry managed to buy an old building directly next to the station and set up about thirty fireplaces with floo connection there," She told Harry.
"Oh, that's much better, you're right. So you would only need to pass through the station without the muggles being too suspicious," He realised.
"Correct. Many prefer using the floo as apparating needs skill and side-along apparition is more difficult than normal apparition. You'll learn how to do that in your sixth year and can take the test when you're seventeen. As your birthday is at the end of July, you would have to go to the Ministry in London for your test contrary to others in your year that can attempt to get their licence at the end of sixth year in the course that the Ministry offers each year," She explained.
Harry nodded, mentally making a note to look up what apparition was exactly. He finished his tea and thanked McGonagall for the information and the tea and then returned to his common room.
Harry followed Professor McGonagall's advice and asked Madam Pince on books for understanding Potions better and got three titles that held the information he needed as a first-year. She told him that there was a compendium of all ingredients reactions that he should get if he wanted to take the class up to NEWTs as it held all the information he could want. Another advantage was that it also held the information on the currently known ingredients and their effect in potions. The Hogwarts library had that compendium in the restricted section as it was too expensive to be allowed outside of the library. It was a self-updating copy and those always cost three times as much as the normal copies.
Harry for now took the books that would get him through first and second year Potions and made a note of the compendium's title to get his own copy sometime later. He started reading the first book on ingredient reactions and was surprised to find out that the preparation method influenced the effect that an ingredient had on a potion. While the main property would stay the same, for example if an ingredient generally had numbing effects that wouldn't change from the preparation method, but it could happen that if you diced an ingredient it would need to be boiled without stirring and if you crushed it you had to lower the heat and stir for five minutes. Potions really was complicated.
For History of Magic Harry decided that he could never stay awake in the class, so he asked Madam Pomfrey for earplugs, supposedly to sleep easier while Ron snored. After all, the silencing charm was only taught in fourth year. He got them, but was warned to not use them in any other class than History with a wink. Seemingly other students had had the same idea as him.
Harry was busy reading through his notes on History. As the method with the cards had worked so well for Potions and Herbology, as the ingredients simply were often the same as the plants they covered in Herbology and he had decided that if he made the cards from the beginning he could save time when the plants came up as ingredients later on, he had set up cards for major events in History. His History box wasn't sorted by the letter the ingredient started with, but by years. Binns sadly only concentrated on the goblin rebellions and perhaps let them do essays on other events for homework. So now that Harry had decided to set up cards again, he read through his history book and wrote down the year in the upper left corner of each card, which was only half the width of the card and served as a register.
He knew that there were gaps in what he knew so far, but he was getting to the point where he wanted to be. He used the starting dates of the goblin rebellions to sort them and simply noted the length, the reasons they took place, the major players on both sides and the results on the card. Then several important laws that were passed like the Stature of Secrecy, the ban on cross species breeding, the Grindelwald war and so on. Harry decided that History of Magic could be quite fascinating if you didn't have to listen to Binns.
He had also tried to tell Hermione that she needed to keep to the assigned length of her essays more, stating that there had to be reasons why the teachers always wrote that under her too long ones. But she proved to be stubborn and said that no teacher would truly care if she put more correct information into her essays. After a few tries Harry gave up on that part. He didn't want her to get a bad wake-up call at the end of the year, but she didn't believe him that it would be marked down. And she pointed out that the teachers would inform her if she wasn't doing well in her classes. Harry only hoped that in the end she wouldn't be too disappointed.
Harry was worried about the information that there was a Philosopher's Stone hidden at Hogwarts. Why in the world would anybody bring such an artefact to Hogwarts when there had been attempts to steal it from Gringotts? At least now he knew what Fluffy was guarding. Ron was prattling on about what he could buy from the gold that a Philosopher's Stone would give him. Harry meanwhile had to concentrate on the next Quidditch match. The news that Snape was refereeing wasn't good news as he was sure to not only be biased against Gryffindor, but he also feared about him trying to curse his broom again or doing something else.
While in class Harry was now doing a lot better, as he understood why he needed to do certain things, Snape was still horrible to him. He listened to Ron and Hermione's suggestions of how to avoid the match.
"No, I won't refuse to play. First that would be giving in to Snape's games and second Gryffindor has no reserve seeker. If I don't play, the team can't play at all, which would let Hufflepuff win automatically," Harry declared.
"But what if he curses your broom again?" Ron asked.
"I doubt he will be able to do that after what happened in the first match. The other teachers will prevent it. I told Madam Hooch what happened the day after the match as I wanted to know what I could do to prevent it," Harry said.
"And, did she have an idea?" Hermione asked eagerly.
"No, but she promised to watch out for any signs of foul play more closely for the next matches. Next to that the ground of the Quidditch pitch got layered with cushioning charms. So even if I fell I would at most break a bone now. Normally, if I manage to simply avoid landing on my head, I should be okay," Harry told them.
"That's a relief," Hermione said, but gave Ron a significant look which meant that she planned something else.
Harry was immensely relieved when Alicia told him that Dumbledore was also among the people watching the match. He wouldn't have to worry about sabotage against him now. He could simply play the best he could. He would follow Oliver's instructions and make sure to catch the snitch as soon as possible. They walked out onto the pitch and the captains of both teams shook hands. Once they were in the air it was clear that Snape wouldn't referee fairly and decided many times against Gryffindor. Harry concentrated on spotting the snitch to end this before Snape could unfairly give Hufflepuff enough points to win despite him finding the snitch.
Then he saw the small golden ball a bit under Snape. He shot down past his most hated teacher and followed the snitch before anybody could really work out what he was doing. Thankfully this snitch seemed to be as surprised as the spectators as it didn't put up much of a fight. Harry quickly closed his hand around it and held it up high over his head. The end result was 160 to 20 for Gryffindor. The match hadn't even lasted five minutes and had to be some record.
"I see you have found a good way to deal with what the mirror showed you… keeping busy, excellent," Harry heard Dumbledores amused voice next to him.
Harry knew that this was about him finding the Mirror of Erised over the Christmas break. The pictures it had shown him had caused him nightmares and he had only found some release in working hard on the Quidditch team and working till late into the night on his schoolwork so that he was too tired to dream much.
So, that was the first chapter, the second and final one will come out next weekend. Till then.