AN: Sorry about the long delay since the last chapter, I'm trying to complete my other story right now, and it's only a half dozen or so chapters of complete. Anyway, I have a question, how do you guys think Harry is going to react to the diary? This is before he knows the full story of course, like when canon Harry first writes in it. Will he compare it to the Tome of the Night Sky? The Book of Darkness? Or what? Also, do you think that ghosts could be turned into familiars?
Beta'd by: NIX'S WARDEN
Chapter 11 – Deathday Party
"Aha!" Harry cried out. "Finally, success!"
"What's a success?" Isis asked from behind him, sitting up on the bed. Harry himself had been sitting on the edge of the bed, fiddling away with some project or other, with his unicorn familiar curled up behind him. Loki had been flicking through a few books that he'd gotten from the library, noting down spells that he wanted to learn. Reinforce was snoozing on the other side of Isis, but one of her hands had snaked out and clamped down on Harry's wrist. Ever since Harry had started dying when she had unisoned with Loki, she had become rather... clingy, not that Harry really minded, he kind of liked being close to Reinforce.
"Huh? Oh, I've managed to successfully convert the analogue memories stored in my Tome of Shadows into binary data. The data will still need to be organised, sorted, and properly translated, but hey, it's a start." Harry shrugged his shoulders. "If I can do that, then I can cast any spell at all that's within the tome without the requirement of actually learning the spell, using my device to calculate the entire matrix in real time, removing the issues present with simply using a human caster."
"Good, now you can take a break and lavish some attention on me, unless you want me to give you some attention." Isis purred into Harry's ear. A slight shiver passed down Harry's spine at that, but he mostly ignored her attempts at seduction, though Isis thought she might be starting to get through to him.
"Keep it in your pants, you horny unicorn." Loki said, before his eyes flickered up and scanned over what Isis was currently wearing. "Well, keep it in what few clothes you're wearing at least." He snorted. What Isis was wearing, well, it could barely be classified as bra and panties, much less anything decent.
Thankfully, she wasn't dressed quite that revealingly when she was out of the room and in public, but whenever she was alone, with the only company being Harry, Reinforce, and Loki, her clothes would become something many pornos would think insufficient.
Isis, ever the mature one, stuck her tongue out at him.
Harry chuckled at her, before stretching out his arms and cracking his knuckles. This seemed to disturb Reinforce's snooze though. Harry gave off a yelp as he was pulled backwards and into Rein's arms, where she proceeded to snuggle him like he was some sort of teddy bear.
Isis sniggered at him, but lay down next to Harry, throwing one arm over him and Reinforce, as well as draping a leg over both of them. Loki just shook his head at the sight, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Harry was his master, his creator, and he was happy to see Harry happy, one might even say that Loki exists for the happiness and safety of Harry.
"Come on, Harry, Isis." Loki said to them. "It's Halloween tonight, and we are supposed to be going to that deathday party, are we not?" He pointed a finger at the three of them, muttering 'Minimus Levitas'. A small arc of electricity jumped from his finger and at the three of them, making Harry, Isis, and Reinforce all yelp and jump wide awake.
"I think we're all up now, Loki." Harry said. "But if you think that we won't get revenge for shocking us, well, you've got another thing coming." Isis and Reinforce nodded in sync at that, the pair of them narrowing their eyes at the raven familiar who was now wondering if shocking them had really been such a good idea.
Reinforce remained hidden away inside Harry as he, Isis, and Loki wandered past the Great Hall. The loud celebrations that could be heard coming from in there made Harry believe that he'd definitely made the right decision in avoiding it. There were actually several reasons for that.
First, and most personally for him, Halloween was the day that Voldemort had attacked Godric's Hollow, and it was the day that Harry tracked back as being the start of all of Harry's current issues. Secondly, Halloween was supposed to be a celebration of the dead, yet everyone in the Great Hall seemed intent on nothing more than gorging themselves on sweets and treats. There were other reasons, but they weren't important right then.
The three of them wandered straight past the open doors and down into the dungeons. The temperature started to drop rapidly, and Harry wondered whether that was a result of so many ghosts being in one place, or whether ghosts simply found low temperatures to be comfortable.
When Harry saw Sir Nicholas waiting outside one of the doors into one of the largest dungeons, Reinforce appeared at his side. She was wearing a very nice strapless, black dress. In fact, all three of them were dressed smartly, and all of them had warming charms on them as well to combat the freezing cold temperature.
"My dear friends," Nicholas greeted them, sweeping a hat off his head. "So glad you could come." He didn't sound it though, was the depressing tone of voice normal for a Deathday party? Harry, Loki, Isis, and Reinforce all returned the greeting, before entering the dungeon.
"My ears hurt." Isis muttered, and Loki nodded his head in agreement. Harry and Reinforce sympathised with them as well, what they were hearing was in in no way, shape, or form music. It sounded like someone dragging their fingers down a chalk board or something. In other words, it was very screechy.
Harry pointed his wands at them and muttered a spell under his breath. Seeing Isis take her hands away from her equine ears, and seeing the ears themselves twitch, Harry thinks his spell worked. It was similar to certain privacy spells, and sounds that originated a distance away became muffled, quietened.
"Can you hear me?" Harry asks.
"Yeah, I can hear you just fine, but that god awful 'music' is almost silent now." She says gratefully.
"I should have thought of that." Loki grumbled to himself, stealthy stuff was supposed to be his speciality, dammit, and privacy spells definitely counted as stealthy in his books.
"Shall we, I don't know, socialise?" Harry asks hesitantly. Looking around, all he sees are ghosts, and given the fact that they would have lived a long time ago, he wondered how ghost culture was structured. Obviously, things would have changed as time went by, but how would a decade old ghost and a millennia old ghost interact?
"Why don't we look for a ghost we can recognise to start with?" Reinforce suggested, which Harry quickly agreed to. Looking around, though, there weren't all that many ghosts that Harry and the others were particularly familiar with. The four house ghosts were the only ones that could be seen around Hogwarts with any regularity, any others came and went as they pleased.
Looking around, Harry's eyes quickly found the Fat Friar, the Hufflepuff house ghost, but he wasn't going to approach him. The Fat Friar was a friendly person, very friendly actually, but that continual cheer kind of unnerved Harry a bit, seeming rather unnatural.
The Grey Lady could be seen, standing by herself off to one side, and Harry considered approaching her for a chat. He remembered Sir Nicholas telling him that he would likely get along with her fairly well, but he decided against actually approaching her. The Grey Lady seemed to be sulking to herself, though she would have probably called it something else, so Harry left her to it.
Harry's eyes alighted on an area where not many ghosts seemed to be, and his curiosity got the better of him. Heading in that direction, he found the Bloody Baron. He was curious why even ghosts seemed to be avoiding him, but the baron did bear some rather unsettling-looking injuries. Seeing as Sir Nicholas spoke of him with respect in his voice, Harry decided to try and engage the Slytherin house ghost in conversation.
"Greetings, baron." Harry gave a small bow to said ghost once he was nearby. "If it pleases you, I would take this chance to converse with one such as yourself."
The Bloody Baron looked at Harry blankly for a moment, before he began to laugh. "Hehehe. Ah, it seems that a child of these times does have the bravery of a lion, though clad in the feathers of a raven. It has been many, many years since anyone has approached me, child, decades, if not centuries. Worry not, you need not try and speak in tongues of old, I understand modern English well enough."
"Thank you, baron, I'm not sure how well I could talk in an old-fashioned way, so that makes things easier for me at least." Harry replied. "As for speaking to you, it seemed like a good idea at the time, despite the... reputation you have amongst the students."
"Ah, yes, the 'Bloody Baron' they call me, and even those of my own house are afraid to approach and ask a question. They have reason to act like this, I suppose, I was a most unpleasant man in life, and even the first two centuries of my death. I have since 'mellowed out' I believe the phrase is, though I doubt Helena will ever forgive me." The baron told him.
"Helena?" Harry couldn't help but ask, wondering who he was referring to.
"Helena Ravenclaw of course, though she's called the 'Grey Lady' now." The baron explained. "She and I have not spoken to each other in almost five hundred years, I have given up trying to earn her forgiveness for my deed, and now must continue to exist as naught but a ghost."
Harry's brow scrunched in confusion. "I thought that the Ravenclaw line died out in the founders' era, as did the Gryffindor line."
"Aye, it did." The baron replied. "Rowena out-lived her daughter, and despite Godric's many dalliances and the amount of whores he bedded, he never had a single child. That, in hindsight, was probably for the best, the man would not have known the first thing about being a father. In fact, none of the founders were the parental sort."
"They weren't?" Harry asked, interested in the history of the school, and a side of the founders' that no book would have been able to, or possibly even willing to, tell him.
"Godric was a drunk and always fighting someone or other, challenging anything that moved and had muscle. That blade of his, the famous 'Sword of Gryffindor' was not his originally, and was taken from a goblin he defeated. I don't know how he had his name etched into the metal, but it was not there originally." The Bloody Baron had a distant look in his eyes, obviously thinking back to when the founders were still around.
"Rowena wasn't a good parent either, always having her nose in some book or other, or practising some new idea she'd gotten in her head. I swear, she nearly destroyed the castle at least twice a week, causing explosions when one of her ideas failed. Her hair always had the tips singed off, the smell of burnt flesh followed her everywhere, and her hands were always coated in burn remedy." He seemed to be getting into this, a small smile playing across his ghostly face.
"Helga didn't have much time for her own children." The baron shook his head. "She was always helping others, always. It was honestly a little scary how far she'd go for a stranger, but because she always put others before herself, there was quite a bit of strain between her and her spouse. The two eventually broke it off, and she only visited her offspring once or twice a year."
"As for Salazar, he was probably the best parent out of the lot of them." The baron's face broke into a grin. "That old man always said that 'children were the future' and we should take great care to bring out their best potential. True, he did have somewhat of an issue with those born of muggles, but that was more due to their lack of education, and their own reaction to magic than purely because of breeding. Why, Salazar's own wife was a muggleborn, but she had been a Duke's daughter, and was well-educated."
Harry listened on with interest, not just due to the subject matter, but how the Bloody Baron spoke. While learning of the history behind certain historical figures was certainly intriguing, Harry's mind was more focused on the ghost himself.
The way he spoke was rather odd. One would expect an old ghost to talk in an old-fashioned manner, and the Bloody Baron did so, to an extent at least, but he also spoke with a more modern bent to it, and he seemed to oscillate between the two forms of speech.
How were ghosts affected by things around them? One book that Harry had read had referred to them as 'echoes of a soul that had passed into the world beyond the veil', but that didn't really tell him much. Ghosts could, most of the time, only be seen by those with magic, though muggles could also do so in unusual, and mostly impossible to easily replicate, situations.
Could a ghost be turned into a familiar? Creation of a familiar involves extracting an animal's soul and infusing it into a magical body sustained by the mage's mana. Did ghosts have enough of a soul to count towards becoming a familiar? Or was the fact they were an 'echo' of a soul mean they wouldn't be enough?
Harry's eyes flickered between Isis and Loki at that thought. Both of them were still classified as familiars, though Reinforce could, at some point, change them into beings like the Wolkenritter had been. The primary difference between familiars and the Wolkenritter, was that as long as the Knight Program that had bound them to the tome still existed, they could be revived, even after death.
Reinforce had transferred the Program that originally bound the Wolkenritter to Hayate, but when she had encountered Harry, it seemed that particular system had been one of those that had regenerated. Reinforce was considering transferring this iteration of the Knight Program to Harry, so that when bound, Isis and Loki would last as long as Harry did, not dying permanently any earlier, and not living on after his death.
"That was quite enlightening, sir." Harry said to the Bloody Baron. "As I'm sure you've seen, the founders are near worshipped by the wizards and witches of today, and they are put on such high pedestals that most seem to forget that they were human."
"No need to call me sir, child, nor baron either. In life I was called Adam Eldridge, and I wouldn't be averse to you referring to me so, goodness knows that none alive know that name." The baron then smirked. "It is interesting to see you converse so easily with me, when you seem to have such troubles with your classmates."
Harry blinked in surprise at that, but the baron kept speaking. "Yes, I've seen it. You remain aloof of your peers, standing apart from them, yet your charisma still draws others towards you. You have your pride, and an unbending spine of steel, but you also show signs of compassion. You hoard knowledge to yourself, but you are not afraid of teaching others the basics of the magical arts."
"I hoard knowledge?" Harry asked curiously.
"Aye, young Harry, you do." The baron told him. "Ghosts do not need to remain visible as they travel, and many choose to while away their existences completely invisible to the living. I have seen you, and this one named 'Reinforce' together in the restricted section of our own library, reading through tomes that few seventh years, and few professors also, ever glance through."
"I don't hoard knowledge though, if people want to learn, then I will teach them." Harry frowned, his brow creasing in a way that Isis found very cute. Reinforce also smiled at the almost pout on Harry's face, and her mind began to wander to... other things.
"You misunderstand me." Adam shook his head. "Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that you gather knowledge to yourself. Personally, I'd still say you hoard it, as when you teach, you're not exactly giving it up, are you?" He chuckled. "You are almost like a dragon in that respect, a proud, noble, benevolent, yet somewhat indifferent dragon."
Harry paused at that. "A dragon?" he muttered under his breath, before focusing on his magic. A prickling sensation made him look down, and his eyes widened slightly as he saw a patch of black scales on his skin. The muscles of his arm also seemed to bulge slightly, and the nails on his hand were slightly longer and thicker.
"Thank you for that, baron, that truly was an eye-opener for me." Harry bowed his head towards the ghost.
"Not at all, young raven." Adam's eyes had also focused on the change of Harry's left arm. "I do believe that things around Hogwarts will be... rather interesting with you around, and I look forward to whatever refreshing changes you may bring. As an aside, you may wish to speak with Helena some time soon. I have heard that she has been rather confused as to why the entrance to the Raven's tower refers to you as a 'Mage Knight', and the two of you may find you have some common ground between you." With a final 'Good evening', The Bloody Baron and Harry's little group went in separate directions.
"Well that was interesting." Isis said. "But I can think of other things I'd rather be doing." She hugged Harry tightly from behind, and it just so happened that Harry was at about chest height of the tall former unicorn.
"Isis-" Harry began to sigh out.
"I mean, I don't often return to my unicorn form now." She continued, a sly smirk on her face letting them know that she knew that they knew she was originally implying. "Tell you what Harry, I'll let you ride me, what do you say? Only, no saddles, I'm not into that kind of thing."
Harry sighed and shook his head. "Sure, why not? One night this week, we can go out into the forest. There, you can transform and play around as much as you want. Come to think of it, Loki could also transform, and I could practise my animagus form, seeing as it seems I've unlocked at least the first stage of the actual transformation."
"Hmm, a dragon." Reinforce muttered to herself, recalling Harry's scaled and clawed arm. "Most certainly a powerful form, but I wonder what sort of dragon you would become. There are twelve known breeds of 'Wizarding' dragons, and the TSAB knows of around thirty different varieties. It's a shame that ones common to Ancient Belka have mostly died out."
"I'm rather curious what sort of advantages Harry will get from having a draconic form." Loki said. "Remember, Mcgonagall told us that those who actually achieve their animagus form can gain certain traits from it, ranging from improved eyesight, a longer lifespan, and more."
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "We'll have to see about what sort of dragon I am first, compile whatever information we can find on it, and then... hmm, experimentation would probably be our best bet after that, I think."
"Fufufu, I'd really like to get involved in some experiments." Isis slowly licked her lip in a sensuous manner, giving Harry a smouldering look as she squeezed him tighter in a hug.
"I'm twelve, Isis, far too young to be thinking of that sort of thing." Harry replied in a deadpan voice.
Isis pouted. "Unicorns are fully mature at seven, so you're old enough by my standards."
"I'm not a unicorn though." Harry shot back.
"I don't care about that." Isis stated, like it was all that mattered.
Loki piped up then. "Well, your animagus form is a dragon, and they become fully mature around two years old."
"I'm not a dragon either, Loki." Harry narrowed his eyes at a smirking raven familiar.
"I don't think she's going to care about that." His eyes then flickered to Reinforce, who, whether she realised it or not, was glaring at Isis, who was still draped over Harry's shoulders. "Also, when do books mature? You could say they are ready as soon as they are complete."
He nudged Harry with his elbow, 'accidentally' knocking him sideways into Reinforce, ending up with Harry pinning said Unison Device to the wall by accident. Harry looked up into Reinforces red eyes, and Reinforce looked down into his mismatched red and green eyes.
Strangely enough, both of them had a slight red tint to their cheeks, and neither of them broke their gaze away from the other. For a few blissful moments, it seemed like the 'music' produced by the orchestra faded away into silence, and the murmuring chatter of the ghosts quietened down as well. Reinforce began to lean down slightly, and Harry titled his head backwards a little when-
A hunting horn sounded, loudly.
The two of them jerked away from each other, their faces now red with embarrassment, as a dozen ghost horses burst through the wall, each of them with a ghostly rider on their backs. One thing to take note of about all twelve of the riders was that they were all headless.
Harry sighed, taking several steps back, ending up leaning against the wall next to Sir Nicholas who had been heading in their direction. He didn't know what had just come over him, had he really been about to kiss Reinforce? Had Reinforce really been about to kiss him?
He wouldn't find out now, as the 'moment' had been disrupted by what Harry presumed to be the Headless Hunt, if Sir Nicholas' mutterings were anything to go by. Harry looked them over and saw that they were all surprisingly cheerful, almost obnoxiously so. That was strange, he didn't think he'd yet seen a ghost that really showed happiness like this before, at least not to this level.
The other ghosts in the room were clapping at the Headless Hunt as they played around. Well, the baron wasn't, and nor was the Grey Lady. Peeves, it seemed, had just chased off Moaning Myrtle, and he was eyeing the hunt speculatively, as if considering how to prank them. Sir Nicholas wasn't clapping, and Harry couldn't blame him, they had just made a mess of his Deathday party after all.
The one who had the horn in his mouth, his head stuck under his armpit, leapt down from his horse, then raised his head high up, getting a laugh out of the crowd. He looked around, before his eyes came to rest on Nick. He began to wade through the crowd, before getting to Nicholas, and plopping his head back in place.
"Nick!" He roared at the top of his voice. "How are you doing? Head still hanging in there?"
He gave a loud laugh, and clapped Nicholas heavily on the shoulder, causing his head to fall off and onto his shoulder. Harry hid a wince at that, the action seemed incredibly disrespectful, and causing most of the ghosts present to laugh at Nicholas wasn't a very friendly thing to do. Honestly, he was liking this guy less and less as time went on, and he hadn't exactly known him very long yet. Glancing over, Harry saw that the rest of the Headless Hunt had started up a game similar to polo, but using one of the member's heads instead of a ball.
"Hello, Patrick." Nick replied to the ghost in front of him. Hmm, unless there was another Patrick amongst the Headless Hunt, this was their leader, Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore.
"Live 'uns!" Sir Patrick cried out, looking at Harry and his companions. The ghost gave an exaggerated gasp, jumping back in fake astonishment, which made his head fall off his shoulders. The crowd howled with laughter, though Harry just rolled his eyes. Nick caught Harry's reaction, and seemed to be... grateful for it? Happy? Relieved, maybe?
"Very amusing." Nick muttered darkly, glaring at the ghost's head on the floor.
"Don't mind Nick!" shouted up Patrick's head from the floor. "He's still upset we won't let him join the hunt, but I mean to say, look at the fellow! His head is still attached, can't be a Headless Horseman if you haven't lost your head!"
"Perhaps not." Harry inclined his head slightly. "Though I personally believe that Sir Nicholas' death to be the more worthy than yours. The cut on your neck is clean, done by a sharp blade in a single instant. Hmm, perhaps a guillotine? Yes, that looks about right for such a method of execution. On the other hand, Sir Nicholas' injury is extremely jagged and rough, meaning, hmm, how many attempts to sever his neck?"
"Forty-five times." Nick replied absently, quite surprised with how Harry was defending him.
"Forty-five times, he says. It took forty-five swings of an axe before Sir Nicholas lost the fight to stay alive. Can you say the same? Can you say that you endured what must have been crippling pain, as someone hacked away at your neck, repeatedly driving the blunt edge of a weapon into an open wound, causing just a little more damage each time?" Harry asked.
The room had gone a little quiet now, and their were several ghosts present who were looking at Harry and Nick with the distinct gleam of respect in their eyes. One, a knight who had an arrow lodged in his head, raised a ghostly glass of wine in Harry's direction, giving Harry an idea.
Looking around, Harry saw the table with the food laid out on it, as well as several goblets with juice in them. Harry summoned one towards himself, being careful not to spill the contents. He raised it into the air and spoke. "To Sir Nicholas on his Deathday, the toughest old bastard I have yet met!"
A cheer rose from the guests at the party, and Harry was pleased to see Nick standing tall and proud. He shot a grateful look at Harry, who inclined his head at him, before retreating away into the crowd with Reinforce, Isis, and Loki.
As Harry wandered amongst the ghosts, he got into several short conversations with a number of them. A lot of those that had died bloody and gory deaths praised him for standing up for Nick like he had. A number of them told him that, if ever he needed a little ghostly assistance from someone, then to call them and they would help.
Eventually, Harry surprisingly ended up stood next to the Grey Lady, Helena Ravenclaw. The stoic-looking ghost looked over Harry silently, before transferring her attention to Reinforce, then Loki and Isis. Her hands twitched at the sight of the last two, as if she wanted to examine them and understand what made them tick.
"Hello, miss, I don't believe we've been introduced. My name is Harry, and these are Reinforce, Loki, and Isis respectively." He indicated each in turn, beginning with the Unison Device, then moving on to the raven and unicorn familiars.
"I am known as the Grey Lady." She replied, her voice level and not betraying anything. "I am the resident House Ghost of Ravenclaw, and I have a question for you, young Mage Knight." She emphasised the last bit quite heavily, narrowing her eyes at him. "What are you?" She asked.
Harry blinked at her. "I'm a student here, in Ravenclaw, your own house."
"Do not play with me." Helena replied. "The entrance to Ravenclaw tower refers to you as a Mage Knight, not as a wizard, and I want to know why. It has never done anything like that before, except with Professors and the original Rowena Ravenclaw, so what makes you so special?"
Harry raised an eyebrow at her. "You know, I asked the door knocker pretty much that exact same question myself once, and even it couldn't give me a satisfactory answer. It said that it recognised me as a Mage Knight, even if it didn't know what a Mage Knight was itself, so my guess is that whatever form of identification magic the door knocker uses, it registered me as being a little different to normal."
Helena huffed. "You're hiding something. You're not lying to me, I'd know if you were, and everything you're telling me is truthful, but you are concealing things from me, hiding away your little secrets." She sighed and her posture slumped. "I don't like secrets, at least not those of others, I like to know things, to understand them. I want to dissect the two 'familiars' stood at your shoulders, see what is different about them, see why they are capable of what they are, find out how they were created and whether it is replicable."
"So you're like a cross between an avid scholar and a crazy, mad scientist?" Harry asked.
Helena pulled herself up to her full height, and looked somewhat proud of how Harry had labelled her. "Yes, I am." She told him simply. "I am proud of who and what I am, and that is a researcher, a seeker of knowledge. So, Harry Potter, will you divulge this secret to me?"
"Hmm... no." Harry said.
She didn't seem disappointed by his reply at all, surprisingly. Instead, she got a strange glint in her eyes, as she replied. "Well then, I will be watching you, and I will unravel the mystery around you, Harry Potter. You have a lot of secrets to hide, I'm sure, but I will uncover each and every one of them."
They bid farewell shortly after that, the Grey Lady's words weighing on Harry's mind. He glanced at Loki next to him, before sending a telepathic message. ~You and I are going to see what spells exist for detecting and warding off ghosts. The last thing I need right now is for her to uncover anything that I wish to remain hidden.~
~Understood.~ Loki replied.
Suddenly there was a flash of fire in front of them, and Fawkes appeared.
"Oh, hello there Fawkes." Harry said, taken off balance by the appearance of the phoenix.
Fawkes cuffed Reinforce around the head with a wing, knocking her towards Harry. Reinforce's eyes widened slightly as she got the intended message, disappearing inside Harry's body. Fawkes landed on Harry's shoulder, and before Harry could ask him what was going on, the door burst open, and Harry hit the floor, taking Isis and Loki with him, to dodge a spell that impacted the wall behind him.
"What the hell is going on here!?" He shouted, catching sight of the professors streaming in through the now open doorway.