Harry and Ginny walked to the Great Hall together later than they had the day before. As such there was a bigger crowd. Both did their best to ignore the stares. It hadn't been a rough night at least, though they had both woken up at 5 due to nightmares. Neither minded, and were actually quite happy that it took so long to be woken up by a nightmare. It was the best sleep they had had in a week. They then proceeded to talk for a few hours about various topics, mostly centering around first year classes, second year classes, and what Harry had found out from Professor McGonagall. Harry even got up the courage to ask what Ginny's mother thought of this, and the girl just shrugged.
"I don't know, she hasn't really written much beyond making sure I'm okay." She rolled her eyes. Harry understood she didn't feel like talking about it, and they moved on. They only stopped when Percy came down, greeted them politely, asked if they had slept well, and reminded them to get dressed after he noticed the pajamas. He nearly asked about nightmares but after the display yesterday, and considering both Ginny and Harry looked better that morning, he didn't.
Since they had such a late start in getting ready for breakfast (starting only after they realized that Percy had left the tower for that reason), they were down later than they intended. At least they beat Ron, but that wasn't a miracle really. He was always up late on weekends unless there was a quidditch match and even then it could be difficult to drag him out of bed. Until someone claimed the match started in 30 minutes and he barely had time for breakfast. The other Weasleys were already down of course, so Harry and Ginny glanced at each other and silently agreed to sit by Fred and George. Percy was nearby reading a book, but also keeping an eye on them. Considering how things played out the day previously, he had decided that maybe his approach to handling Ginny was all wrong. He'd also taken notice that Ron had been pushy about her health and had been part of the reason he was prank. Clearly, being pushy about it wasn't wanted, but he wasn't sure how to help her. She seemed perfectly okay with the twins yet the twins treated her completely normally. And so did Harry. He had a lot to think about, especially regarding his role in helping her recover. He after all didn't want her to think he didn't care.
Finally Hermione and Ron came down, and after noticing where they were sitting, hesitated. However, it wasn't like there were many other places open so they ended up sitting near Harry and Ginny. Ron was still fuming over the night before, but Hermione was thinking things over. She still felt like she was in the right, but maybe she'd handled it all wrong. Yes, that was it. The Hall quieted as mail arrived. An owl came crashing down on the table right in front of the group of Weasleys. They all stared at the howler. Ginny sunk a bit low in her seat, this would be embarrassing. Percy gulped and reached over to open it, it was addressed to all the Weasley children. To their surprise, it started off quiet, like she hadn't meant for it to be a howler originally. Howlers could be done in one of two ways. The first, and most common, was by buying Howler paper, but it could get expensive in a household like the Weasley's. So Molly Weasley used the second option. Writing the letter out on normal paper and then casting a series of spells that would do the same thing as the Howler paper. It wouldn't be the first time she started out writing a normal letter that turned into a howler. In fact, those were the worst, though it was the first time Ron had heard one since he came to Hogwarts.
"Ginny dear," her voice began gently. Ginny froze. Oh no. If she had started off intending to write a letter to Ginny... Despite the gentle tone of voice most of the Hall could hear it since silence fell the moment the Howler was spotted. "I hope you are recovering nicely after that horrible ordeal with the Chamber and that cursed diary. It's such a terrible tragedy that this marred your first year of Hogwarts when it should have been be amazing for you to join your brothers..." There was a pause while Ginny sunk even lower, as red as her hair. The other Weasley's held their breath.
"Speaking of your brothers..." The tone shifted and she began shouting. "Percival Ignatius Weasley!" Percy flinched. He'd never gotten a Howler before, ever. He started turning red as students began to whisper to their neighbors. " George Fabian Weasley! Fredrick Gideon Weasley! And especially you Ronald Bilius Weasley! How could you not notice something wrong with your little sister that whole time! 9 months at Hogwarts and none of you noticed! I've half a mind to ground you all for the whole summer! How could you abandon her like that! She's your sister, and the whole incident is entirely your fault! If you'd paid attention none of it would've happened!"
Ginny buried her face in her hands, mortified. Her brothers stared in horror at the pile of ashes. When Harry had asked what her mother thought of it all... she hadn't even thought this was a possibility. How could her mum do this to her? She... Ginny became aware of how her brothers were just as red as she was, and how embarrassed Percy must be getting his first Howler. Then she heard the whispers and fled.
Harry glared at the pile of ashes that was the howler. How could Mrs. Weasley do that to her own children? Especially Ginny. He looked around wildly for her and then groaned before jumping to his feet as she raced past him.
"Ginny, wait up!" he called as he followed.
Minerva McGonagall missed the spectacle at breakfast as she finished early in order to go speak to Poppy Pomfrey. She wanted to make sure she had time for everything that day. She had to talk to the healer, talk to one of the graduated muggleborn students, do paperwork and grade papers. As well as make sure she had ample time to talk to Remus if he flooed her (with the content of the letter she sent him, that was a distinct possibility though she wasn't sure of when he would choose to floo), and talk to Harry after dinner. Sometimes she hated having three roles in the school. Too many administrative duties, on top of teaching 7 years of a core subject, made her a poor head of house compared to Filius or Pomona, and they were overworked just as much when it came to the classes. She shook her head and continued to Poppy's office.
"Poppy, are you in?" She knocked on the door. There was a shuffling sound.
"Of course I am dear, is there a problem?" she questioned as she let Minerva into her office. The professor sighed.
"There might be, if my suspicions are correct. I believe I may have a case of abuse in my house," she began, but Poppy immediately jumped in.
"Harry Potter, correct?"
"How did you know?"
"I've been trying to get Dumbledore to listen since the first time I had Harry in here, but that old fool wouldn't listen."
Minerva sunk into a chair. Her fears were confirmed, the Dursleys really were the worst sort of people.
"But why are you here about it?"
"He came to me yesterday asking about how to deal with nightmares and what classes he should take next year. I took notice of the way he was acting and some of the things he said... and I started suspecting..." She took a deep breath and then looked at her colleague with determination. "Tell me everything."
"He's malnourished. It's stunted his growth for sure and may have even affected his eyes. I know James' sight was not nearly as bad as Harry's is. He has remarkable pain tolerance, and never makes much sound. He seems bewildered by how I act whenever I treat him. I know I get too overprotective sometimes when it comes to injuries, but he acts as if he's never been treated for even a scrape. He flinches at certain movements, and always seems fearful when I order him to drink potions, though thankfully that distrust is diminishing. The most worrisome of all, however... I've seen some of his scars... There's a few that seem out of place on a child, which means they may have used a belt or other tool to harm him. I haven't said anything to him because I know how abused students react to such discovery, and I wanted to be able to tell him he wouldn't go back there before I said anything. The assurance goes a long way to calming them down once someone knows the secret."
"I told Albus they wouldn't be good for him... And then I did nothing. I failed him..." Minerva held her head in her hands.
"And if we attempt to do something... I don't know what he would do. He insists that while Harry may be 'unhappy there' that Harry must go back to his family."
"And you've told him all the signs?" Minerva inquired. Poppy scoffed.
"He thinks that Harry is just making it up and that it's just minor disagreements... Even when I try to tell him that Harry never told me anything... 'how can you know if he hasn't told you?' The nerve of that man." She threw her hands up in exasperation.
"Then we can't do anything. He won't see what's in front of him, and anything we do to get Harry removed will get back to him..." Minerva pinched her nose tiredly. "That poor boy..."
"I've searched my mind for any other answer to this problem... But I haven't come up with any... and I can't believe I didn't think of coming to you with my concerns."
"Don't worry about it... I go with Albus so often that if I hadn't realized this on my own I might've deferred to his opinion, but now I can't let that sway me ever again, and I hope I haven't made any more dire mistakes besides letting him leave Harry there in the first place with those muggles." Her eyes lit up. "If the muggle authorities got involved and removed him from their custody Albus wouldn't be notified and could not do a thing about it."
"That... is a good idea, but how would we get the muggle authorities involved...? We don't have much time before school ends, and we have no evidence," the healer pointed out. The other sighed.
"We'll have to look further into it, and support Harry before he goes... hopefully it won't be too bad for him this summer, but with those muggles there's no telling."
"Very well... let me know how I can help. Now... is there anything else you need?" Poppy only asked to be sure, as she had been in the middle of checking her inventory and wanted to get back to it. Minerva started shaking her head, paused then nodded.
"Actually, when Harry came to me, he wanted to know if anything would help with nightmares, and mentioned that muggles have someone who will talk to people and help them get through their problems. At least, that is the impression he gave me. As such, I contacted Sophia Riley to ask her about it, and to see if she could help out," Minerva explained. Poppy smiled.
"She would know. One of the best students I ever taught, and I know she went to the muggle world for several years to do some muggle schooling in some area I've never heard of. She was quite passionate about it, though I can't quite recall what it was."
"Apparently, it is some field called 'psychology'. She wrote back last night to tell me that and that she would be available to visit at 10 to discuss it further, as she's between jobs currently," the animagus informed her friend. The other seemed thoughtful and hopeful.
"You know how I've been needing help here in the Hospital Wing but Albus refuses to even think about hiring someone else? She'd be perfect. She has all the qualifications needed, and more than I do, even. That way she'd be able to help out more easily. And since you're deputy headmistress, and her position is not a teaching position... you can hire her, and Albus can't do anything about it besides bring it before the Board of Govenors..."
"And they're not likely to complain," Minerva finished with a smirk. "Despite her muggleborn heritage. Even they have been thinking you could at least use an assistant if not a partner, and at this point they'd take anyone." Poppy nodded, smiling widely. "As such, we will come see you when we reach that portion of our meeting to work out the details of her position. I need to go prepare."
"I will see you then, Minerva."
Minerva McGonagall sat at her desk as she organized the fourth year transfiguration essays back into their houses. They always seemed to get mixed up when she graded them, which is why she always took out essays by years. When she first started teaching, the years would get totally mixed up and she'd have to refer back to her lesson plans in order to sort them out and figure out what years they were. She was rather frazzled at the time since she was new, but even now she kept up the habit of only having a year of essays out at once.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the fireplace flare green. She set aside the papers and pulled out one she had written out immediately after returning. She turned to the fireplace just in time to see Sophia step out. She smiled at her former student.
"Thank you for meeting me right away." She stood up and gestured to the chairs. "Would you like some tea?" The younger woman nodded.
"I couldn't resist the mystery of not knowing exactly what you need help with. And some tea would be lovely thank you." They sat down in the chairs. "So what is it that caused you to ask about psychology and needed my expertise rather than another teacher?" Minerva took a deep breath.
"This is strictly confidential. No one besides myself and Poppy know of this, and we'd like to keep it between us."
"I... I'm honored you think I can keep such a secret..."
"You'll do fine, and you enjoy helping others," the older woman assured her as their tea tray appeared. They each took a cup and prepared their tea to their liking.
"I can't stand the suspense!" she exclaimed after a moment of silence. Minerva chuckled as she set down her tea.
"That hasn't changed at least. Now... Yesterday morning, Harry Potter came to me asking about how to deal with the nightmares that he and his friend, Ginny Weasley are having... And he said something interesting. Apparently muggles have a profession dedicated to helping people get through problems, if I understood his explanation correctly." She looked to the other quizzically. "Do you know what he was talking about, you mentioned psychology?" Sophia nodded, a bit surprised at the context.
"Actually yes, it's what I decided to study at the university. I'd wanted to do the medical courses, to supplement my healer's training, but I took intro to psych my first year and changed my studies. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Muggles are always trying to figure out how people work and why some people react some ways to one thing but others don't. My plan once I decided to pursue a degree in one of the many fields of psychology was to introduce it to the wizarding world, but... well, it's a muggle thing. We don't need it." She rolled her eyes. "Anyways, one of the branches of psychology is dedicated to helping people get over any problems they may have. Severe phobia, anxiety, depression, even just mundane day to day life. And nightmares of course."
"Muggles never cease to amaze me," Minerva told her as she sipped at her tea. "Now, does that mean you can help Harry and Ginny?" Sophia nodded as she nibbled at a scone.
"Yes, it does, as I do have a license to be a therapist. However, I won't be able to share anything they share with me. Confidentiality and all that. Harry has to be close to 13 now, right?" she queried. The other nodded.
"Yes, at the end of July. Ginny, however, will become 12 in August," the animagus explained. Sophia nodded thoughtfully.
"Alright... for those ages, I can inform the parents and guardians of my sessions unless the child doesn't want me to, however, since this is the wizarding world, I can assume that Ginny's parents would not approve of this approach, since most wizarding families take the most dreadful approaches to such things. What about Harry?"
"His guardians are half the problem with him," Minerva answered flatly. "They are perfect examples of what purebloods believe muggles are." Sophia winced.
"So add abuse to the list for him..." She frowned. "Actually, you never did tell me why they are having these nightmares." Minerva sighed.
"For the most part, it is their stories to tell. However, I can tell you that Harry faced You-Know-"
"Really Professor? You still call him by that ridiculous name? If you can't call him by his real name, call him something boring, like Bob. Wait he's still alive? Oh wait wizarding world. That figures," Sophia babbled before blushing. Minerva smiled at her in amusement.
"Quite. Where was I? Oh yes, Harry faced... Bob last year after he pieced together clues about what was going on in the school. I regret that I had no clue he knew, and that I was unable to prevent him from doing so. He nearly died, and was part of the reason Professor Quirrel died, the other being the man was possessed by Bob." Minerva had to suppress the urge to laugh at how absurd it sounded replacing 'Voldemort' with 'Bob'. "Naturally, he'd have nightmares of that. This year... The Chamber of Secrets was opened. It started with Filch's cat being petrified and a message written in blood on the wall near the bathroom Moaning Myrtle haunted. Harry is a parselmouth, and the whole school found out. And everyone thought he was the heir. Eventually his own best friend was petrified. Albus was removed from the school, and Hagrid was arrested. Harry once again pieced everything together. It was a basilisk, so he and Ron took that fool Lockhart to the Chamber, but Lockhart tried to wipe their memories only to wipe his own. This resulted in Harry getting separated from Lockhart and Ron... he eventually found Ginny, and from what I understand, Tom Riddle used a diary to possess Ginny, and at that point, was using it to drain her life force so he could return to full strength. Harry defeated both the basilisk and him."
"No wonder they have nightmares..." Sophia breathed. "That would be terrifying. Wait who was Tom Riddle?" Minerva scowled.
"He was here at Hogwarts when I was, even was prefect and head boy... and he became..." she trailed off. The other woman understood immediately
"So the poor girl...?"
"Yes, she somehow managed to fight off his spirit for most of the school year."
"That certainly explains a lot. Maybe Tom fits him better than Bob," she suggested before focusing. "I want to help them... But I don't know how it would work. For one thing, I currently do not have a job as I left my muggle world job to try to be a healer and psychologist here, but it did not work. I do have part of my PhD completed but I took a break to determine what sort of path I want to follow... And since I have loans to repay with my courses, I can't really afford to have sessions without fees. And it also would be rather conspicuous for me to come here once a week or so for sessions with them, someone is bound to notice, and I doubt many people will approve." Sophia sighed. Minerva smirked, her mischievous side coming out.
"I spoke with Poppy this morning and mentioned I'd be seeing you later. Her request neatly solves those problems." The animagus set aside her tea and stood up. "She wants me to hire you as her assistant." The younger woman's eyes widened and she gasped as she gaped. Minerva smiled widely "So now we're going to go talk to her about ironing out your contract, if you accept of course." Sophia nodded numbly as she stood up to follow the professor through Hogwarts to the Hospital Wing.
She didn't really take in much along the way, she was still in shock. She had never considered Hogwarts as an option for a job. And she never thought that Madam Pomfrey would request her personally. She knew the Mediwitch had been impressed during their lessons her last three years of school at Hogwarts, but she didn't think she was that good. And now that the option was in front of her, she could see the appeal and upsides to taking the job, even without looking at the contract.
Sophia couldn't help but smile when she saw the Hospital Wing. She didn't much enjoy being stuck there because of injuries or illness, but otherwise it brought back many fond memories. Mostly of having lessons with Madam Pomfrey and some of the times she got to treat fellow students. She followed the older witch to the office, since there were no students in the wing. Minerva knocked once.
"Come in," Poppy called cheerfully. The two entered, the younger witch feeling a bit nervous about seeing her mentor for the first time in years.
"Hello Madam Pomfrey," she greeted. The healer stood up and hugged her tightly.
"Oh, I'm so glad to see you. Will you be my assistant?"
"I'd love to... but how would it work? And doesn't Professor Dumbledore do the hiring?" Sophia inquired curiously. Poppy scowled.
"He's been ignoring my requests for an assistant for years. Even with Hogwarts down to an all time low next year with 380 students total, that's quite a few students for me to look after 24/7 for 9 months."
"There's no reason to get him involved because of that. As deputy, I can hire any staff I wish so long as I do not attempt to hire teachers; only Dumbledore and the Board of Governors can do that. If Albus wishes to contest you accepting the position, he'll have to bring it to the Board, as the signed contract prohibits firing of staff members without consent of the deputy, the headmaster, and the Board. And even the Board will be happy to have you. They have been pushing Albus to hire an assistant for years, and at this point the fact that you're muggleborn won't affect their decision to leave you alone."
"And even if they didn't want you, they could always request that only I treat their children," Poppy added.
"I... See... Alright. I'll take the job. What's in the contract?"
"You will share duties with me, meaning that we will alternate who will be on call each night, which we can work out at a later date. Based on our own healing specialties we'll divide what sort injuries we deal with if they're worse than the usual. You can brew your own potions or submit a list of potions you need to Severus once you're settled in. There's two suites of rooms connected to the Hospital Wing, I have one, and you will have the other, as well as your own office. We also work as people students can come to if they need to talk, much like the Heads of Houses. Some students aren't comfortable going to their head of house. I mostly see Slytherins who don't feel comfortable going to Severus with problems, otherwise I get students who just want other opinions or to learn more about healing. You being here will allow me to hold a healing elective for 6th and 7th years next year," Poppy listed. "And there are other things we can discuss in further detail later."
"I... can handle that." Sophia responded slowly. "I might have to live here full time though, I can't afford to keep up an apartment the whole time I'm here."
"That can be arranged," Minerva assured her as she pulled out the contract. "Now, your pay will be 150 galleons a month for the first year, even when school is not in session as you'll be expected to stay or at least alternate with Poppy during Christmas and Easter break, and during the summer you'll be working on making sure our inventories are full, student records are in order, and finally, keeping up with your healer studies."
"We're not supposed to grow complacent, and that way our pay when students aren't in session can go to taking classes in our weak points, and overall improve. I occasionally use the money to take a few classes in the muggle world to keep up with their discoveries in order to help muggleborns feel more at ease, however I find them extremely difficult and you'll probably be more accustomed to them."
"150 galleons a month...?" Sophia asked, caught up in that one tidbit. She hadn't really caught much of the rest of what they said.
"Yes, and after your first year you will receive a 50 galleon pay raise. Poppy will be receiving a raise as well since she will be offering an elective. She's currently at 300 galleons a month."
"But... food and board..."
"Is why it's so low."
"Wow... all beginning healing positions are at no higher than 1,200 galleons a year... that's 100 galleons a month... And since I don't need to worry about costs for food... That's a lot more than I know what to do with right now..." Sophia rambled. "And if I can work out how to buy the things I need, and pay off some of my loans, I could still save up... But why do none of the professors ever seem to have that much money?"
"We like to keep our luxuries separate from our roles," Minerva responded dryly. "And there is another factor; Hogwarts doesn't always get enough funding whether from tuition or from the ministry or even donations. Most of the funds go to buying food and paying the staff as well as supplies for upkeep," she explained. "And often, it falls on the teachers to procure supplies they might need, as they have to write requests for what they need, and are often denied. Pomona and Severus are especially affected by this, having to buy plants and potion ingredients themselves rather than through the school." Sophia winced.
"That really explains a lot," she responded. "Any other details I should be aware of?"
"You can start today, and I hope you can meet with Harry and Ginny tomorrow," Minerva informed her. "We just need to agree on the contract, and have you sign it."
It took Harry a while but he finally calmed Ginny down. It helped that he promised her that they could talk to McGonagall about it after dinner and see if she could do anything about it. With that taken care of, they gathered their bags from Gryffindor Tower and retreated to the library. Ginny did still feel a bit upset, but with Harry's help, felt able to be somewhat sociable while working on homework.
Harry was trying to decide between working on transfiguration and history when the three Slytherins joined them. Ginny smiled weakly at them before focusing on her potions essay. Thankfully, none of the three Slytherins asked about the Howler from earlier, and it wasn't long before they were all working on essays in companionable silence, aside from a few questions asked and answered.
"Hello Ginny, I see the wrackspurts are leaving you alone," a dreamy voice startled them out of their concentration. They looked up to see a first year blonde Ravenclaw looking at Ginny yet somehow appearing like she wasn't quite there. Ginny smiled slightly at her.
"Hello Luna, I suppose they have," she responded. She had spent enough time with Luna growing up to understand that a lack of wrackspurts meant that she was thinking clearly. "Would you like to join us?" she offered, before pausing. "Oh, I'm sorry, this is Luna Lovegood, she lives near where I do," she introduced. "And Luna, this is Harry Potter, Blaise Zabini, Tracey Davis, and Daphne Greengrass." Luna smiled and sat down. The three Slytherins nodded to the strange girl before getting back to work.
"Thank you, nargles have infected my dormmates, and they seem unable to help me finish the potions essay," Luna commented airily. None of the second years knew how to respond to that, but they didn't mind having another first year around while they worked.
"Really?" Ginny asked, a bit concerned, as with Luna, that could have many meanings. One of which being that they excluded her and stole her things. Luna nodded unconcernedly.
"A heliopath lead me here and told me you could help me out instead."
"Of course I can help out."
The two first years started working on their potions essay together. Harry gave up trying to do his assignment by himself and tentatively requested to work with the three Slytherins on the history assignment. They stared at him in surprise before agreeing. The four got to work on it. With four of them looking up the information, it didn't take long to get the required two feet finished. They had just set the essays aside to dry when Neville approached them hesitantly.
"Hi," he greeted Harry timidly, looking around to see who else was at the library. There were a few other groups, but none seemed to have noticed them. Harry looked up.
"Hey Neville. What are you doing?" he queried. Neville shrugged.
"I was going to work on the potions assignment, it's the only one I don't have done yet. I'm so glad we don't have a test this year, I'd fail for sure." He sighed, thinking about how he'd be considered a disappointment if there were tests, he wouldn't do much better than the year before after all, and the disappointment and lectures he'd received... He'd rather not think of those.
"I'm not surprised, Longbottom," Daphne responded. He jumped and turned red upon noticing the three Slytherins.
"...Greengrass..." he stated slowly with a nod. Tracey poked Daphne in the shoulder.
"Be nice," she scolded. Neville half-smiled.
"Thanks, Davis." He hesitantly pulled up a chair and sat down between Harry and Blaise.
"Wait you know each other?" Harry asked in surprise. Ginny and Luna looked up from their work to observe the conversation. The Ravenclaw still smiling that disconcerting smile.
"While we don't associate in school because of our house affiliations, outside school we see each other occasionally," Daphne stated haughtily. Blaise and Tracey nodded. Luna merely tilted her head, while Ginny and Harry seemed utterly lost.
"We're expected to know our pureblood peers who still follow tradition," Neville spoke up helpfully. Ginny nodded slowly, much of her confusion fading; it was one of those pureblood things her family didn't follow.
"What tradition?" Harry questioned, frowning in his confusion. The three Slytherins looked at him like he was stupid. His face flushed.
"What tradition? Don't you pay attention, Potter?" Blaise snapped, a bit harshly than necessary. Harry flinched, but remained confused. Tracey frowned.
"Do you know anything about purebloods, Harry?" she queried softly. He shrugged.
"Just that many take pride in it, are rich, and some seem stuck up and hate muggleborns and muggles," he answered as simply as he could. All but Luna were staring at him now.
"...that explains a lot," Tracey murmured; the other two Slytherins were in shock.
"What are you talking about?" the black haired boy asked resignedly, though he felt frustrated and embarrassed.
"I'm sorry Harry, I thought you knew and were ignoring it like some families do, such as the Weasleys," Neville apologized, looking a bit ashamed.
"Harry..." Ginny began slowly. "Do you know anything about the Potter family?" she queried hopefully. He shook his head.
"Surely your godparents would have told you..." Daphne started, but stopped when he shook his head.
"I don't know about a godmother, but my godfather was Sirius Black." They all gaped at him. "I was raised by my mum's sister and her husband... I didn't even know about magic before I got my Hogwarts letter." It took a moment before someone even thought to explain.
"The Potters... your family, is one of the twelve Most Ancient and Most Noble houses currently. The Black, Longbottom, Greengrass, Prewitt, Abbot, Diggory, Wood, Jones, Midgen, McCormac, and Bones families are among the other eleven. There are a few Ancient houses, such as Dumbledore, but there's far more Noble houses, like Malfoy, Nott, Lestrange, Boot, and Smith. The Weasleys and Lovegoods are considered Clans, though the Weasleys used to be a Noble house. Those families without a title are just considered normal houses unless they get promoted to Clan, Ancient, or Noble. Clan usually needs at least four generations. Ancient is five hundred years or more, and Noble is done by vote, usually promoting respected houses. A few Most Ancient and Most Noble houses have been around since Hogwarts was built, or claim to be, and the only families more prestigious then those are the Founders and Merlin, though there haven't been confirmed heirs to either for two centuries," Blaise explained.
"And the only reason Draco Malfoy can get away with the things he does even around Most Ancient and Noble houses is because the Malfoy family holds the most power of all the Noble families, as well as at Hogwarts, we aren't expected to hold up to tradition since we're here most of the year and there's a lot we don't know yet. The earliest we might have to hold to tradition is sixteen, and then it depends on the family. Outside of school, when among other families of high standing, we're expected to uphold tradition," Daphne elaborated. "And there, we'll have our parents to make sure we correct any mistakes we make, and it's alright to make a mistake since we're under the age of 15, and still learning."
"Though some families hold to tradition even at home when not mingling," Neville added quietly.
"Wow... that's... that's a lot to take in..." Harry responded slowly. "My family is one of the most respected families out there?" They nodded. He was speechless. Ginny thought of a question.
"Can families get or lose the title of Most Ancient and Most Noble?" she enquired curiously.
"Yes," Daphne answered. "The Prince family lost Noble standing as it has no visible members left. There could be a descendent somewhere but a Noble family usually needs at least two generations. It retained the Ancient title because extinct families get to keep their dignity."
"Midgen, Wood, and Jones are the most recent addition to the Most Ancient and Most Noble houses," Blaise continued, "they attained that status in the last twenty years, with McCormac and Diggory only joining within the last century. They had Noble status already, and then reached Ancient status when their ancestors could be dated back five hundred years. For a while, they were considered Ancient and Noble houses, until a vote was held and their status raised. Interestingly, there are Noble Pureblood houses, but they're usually not ancient, though that's for many reasons such as migrating to England, and not being and English family for five hundred years. My family is a Noble family, not Ancient, because the first Zabini came from Italy after changing his name."
"That's a lot of information, and there's more where that came from isn't there?" Harry asked. They nodded. He sighed. "Why don't we form a study group so you can teach me what you can before summer?"
"Only if we can use the study group for homework, and it continues into the next year, if not over the summer when we can," Daphne countered. Neville, Harry, and Ginny stared at them in surprise before agreeing.
"I'm okay with that. As long as no one nags like Hermione does, I think I can handle a bit of studying with other people."
"I won't be left out because I'm a year behind, right?" Ginny queried worriedly. The others nodded.
"It might even help us remember the information by teaching you," Daphne commented thoughtfully.
"Well, we should have each of us second years figure out which subject we'll focus on to help the others out on, we all have our own strengths," Blaise stated. Neville looked down.
"I don't have any strengths..." he murmured quietly.
"Sure you do, Neville. You're a whizz at Herbology, so that can be your subject," Harry told him encouragingly. "I suppose I can take DADA and maybe charms." Daphne nodded.
"I can take potions," she stated.
"I have astronomy and transfiguration." Blaise didn't look up as he spoke; taking notes.
"Which leaves me with history," Tracey finished.
"What about next year with the electives?" Harry questioned thoughtfully. "I'm going to take Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy, and Ancient Runes."
"Me too," Neville admitted. "I was going to take divination, but I heard rumors that the teacher likes to predict students deaths and I didn't want to deal with it... then I didn't know if I could choose between Arithmancy and Ancient Runes so I chose both."
"I'm taking those three as well," Daphne stated calmly.
"Same here," Blaise stated. Tracey sighed.
"And I'm taking Muggle Studies, Ancient Runes, and Care of Magical Creatures. I might study on the side to take Arithmancy," she added.
"I guess we'll have to see where our strengths lie before we decide how to handle it then," Harry commented.
"Can we get back to homework?" Ginny blurted out impatiently. "I'm a bit stuck on this potions essay," she finished sheepishly when they turned to look at her.
Daphne moved to take a look at the essay. After a few moments of consideration, she gave them some rather helpful pointers on where to look and what Snape might be looking for. Then she sat down and sighed.
"Professor Snape really is a hopeless teacher. But there's nothing we can do about it, they had to have tried before."
"What if..." Harry started slowly as an idea formed. "What if we got people from every year, and possibly every house to write out reports of each lesson with him, with at least some of their classmates signing the report to state that it happened that way and then we presented it to Professor McGonagall?" The others looked at him excitedly bar Luna who merely seemed interested.
"That's brilliant! And if they ignore all the reports then... what can we do?" Daphne calmed down at that thought. Harry tilted his head in thought.
"Well, Professor McGonagall is strict but she's also fair, I think she'd come up with some way to help us out if they won't get rid of Snape... We just need to get everyone on board..."
"We should wait til the next school year to start it," Blaise spoke up. "We don't have much time left, and the fifth and seventh years still have their tests, and we're all reviewing so it's not a good example of classes. It also gives us more time to find people to write the reports."
"That also gives us more time to plan it out," Ginny mused thoughtfully. "We can figure out who can write out the reports, and make sure we can get at least one person per class. And maybe even write out a proposal..."
"Like we give him a chance to change. A probationary period where someone watches random classes and double checks his grading..." Daphne added.
"And if he can't meet the standards... he gets fired," Blaise finished, satisfied.
"The best part is even the board of governors can't deny he's doing more harm than good if we do it right." Harry was nearly cackling with glee.
"Now if only we could get rid of Binns..." Tracey sighed.
"Too bad... Though at least we can self study in his class unlike potions..."
"If we can get Snape removed or improved, we should move onto doing something about Binns... We could be missing some very important history lessons..." Harry commented slowly.
"Especially for those who grew up as muggles, or had parents who didn't teach history..." Neville added quietly.
"Then that's a topic we'll have to cover when we study together," Ginny remarked cheerfully as they returned to their work.
Ginny followed Harry to Professor McGonagall's office uncertainly. She didn't know what to expect, and was honestly surprised he was already bringing her along to meetings with 'Aunt Minerva'. She'd wanted to refuse but he was excited about the idea, and the way his eyes sparkled made it hard to refuse. They'd managed to get most of the homework done with their 'study group' and had also started on reviewing first year material in preparation for their later sessions. It had been surprisingly fun, three Gryffindors, three Slytherins, and one Ravenclaw. Even Neville got into it once they started talking about Herbology.
"Are you sure you want me along?" she queried quietly when they reached the door. He looked at her and smiled.
"Of course I'm sure. I wouldn't have said anything if I wanted it to be private. Besides, today I think I mostly want to talk about classes and how they've gone... as an excuse to complain about Snape of course," he added mischievously. She giggled.
"Okay, okay I guess that's not too private." she responded. Harry stopped and set his hand on her shoulder. She nearly jumped out of her skin in surprise and intense inward excitement. He stared at her seriously.
"With what we've been through at Hogwarts, I don't intend to keep many things private from you. You of all people deserve to know about Voldemort. You are also the first person I ever told about my nightmares. I trust you."
"I..." her words died as she tried to think of how to express how she felt. "Thank you," she finally said, a bit disappointed that was all she could manage. His words meant the world to her. Even after she was so stupid, he still trusted her.
He smiled brightly at her before knocking on the door. Harry was so much more than the Boy-Who-Lived, Ginny knew. While he was truly a hero who didn't know his own worth, he also was kind and gentle. He hated the attention, and just wanted to be normal. After the diary and the Chamber, Ginny did too. She already had been a bit of a loner garnering odd looks among the first years, and now that her mum had shouted their business for the whole Great Hall to hear, they had things to whisper about. It'd be nice to be normal, to fit in with her friends. Yet, at the same time, at least she had Harry.
The door opened, revealing a smiling Professor McGonagall.
"Ah, Harry, and Ginny, come in," she greeted them and ushered them in, rather pleased Harry had brought Ginny along this time. It'd make it easier to explain the circumstances with Sophia.
"Hi, er Aunt Minerva," Harry greeted, a bit hesitant. Ginny blinked in surprise, he had mentioned the new title, but still to see him use it and the professor smile at him like that...
"Hello Professor," she added shyly. The professor smiled at them both as she sat down with them in the comfortable chairs.
"How has the day been?" she enquired. Ginny shrugged, head down. Harry sighed. It'd taken him forever to cheer her up after that howler.
"The Weasleys got a howler this morning," he started, "and the whole thing started off with Mrs. Weasley checking in on Ginny, like she hadn't actually been planning to make a howler, how does that work anyways? And then she called out each of Ginny's brothers by name before scolding them... The whole school saw! Why would anyone want to humiliate their kid in front of so many people?"
"It really was horrible," his friend added, her confidence boosted by his anger. "Everyone knows that I had a miserable year and that she blames my brothers for not noticing. And even that a cursed diary was involved..." She hung her head and stared at her hands.
Minerva was stunned. She had seen her own fair share of howlers over the years but never anything like that. While it did get bothersome to hear the business of the students aired, usually it was nothing bad or nothing the student body didn't already know. However, based on the amount of anger she heard in Harry's voice, she wasn't sure that was the only problem.
"I shall have a word with Molly... though I see that there's more to it than just being upset she aired that in the Great Hall." She raised an eyebrow at Harry. He sighed and looked down.
"I've been bothered by it since the beginning of the school year," he admitted. "Being lectured is terrifying, so I guess it's a good punishment... but receiving in front of everyone... that's taking it too far. I've seen Ron on the receiving end of a lecture, and that howler was milder but he took it so much worse because of the way everyone here reacted," he explained.
"I shall have to look into how the mail system works here, and see if there isn't a way to keep the howlers back and deliver them personally and individually rather than what the current system allows. You are right, and I'm proud to see you thinking of the other students, especially with how some of them have treated you in the past." Harry blushed.
"Uh, thanks pro-um Aunt Minerva," he stammered. She smiled at him gently.
"I will also see about implementing a policy that if the crime is sever enough to warrant a letter to the parents, they will have the opportunity to come see their child in person to scold them."
"Why doesn't something like that exist?" Ginny asked curiously. "As much as the twins would hate it, mum would probably prefer it to the howlers..." The professor sighed and pinched her nose.
"I've never understood Albus' view that parents should not interfere with their children's schooling during the school year," she began, "he has always held a belief that the children do not need any outside influence other than what little occurs." They looked confused. She took a deep breath, trying to find a way to explain it better, as they're only children. Mature children to be fair, but still young. "I believe he thinks that children are here to learn and be children and therefore do not need their parents interfering. He's rather idealistic, and also I believe incorrect. He also fears what could come of parents visiting often and picking up on things they don't like. Such as what happened this year. He attempted to make sure the petrifications didn't get out, but failed to keep students from sending letters home about it."
"But why?" Harry questioned, very confused. "And is it really that bad of an idea...?" he added, thinking about the Dursleys.
"Let me put it this way," she started calmly. "If any of the victims of the basilisk had been halfblood or pureblood, their parents would not have been allowed to visit," she explained. "I fail to understand his reasoning, and it is one of the topics we argue about frequently. However, he has enough influence and power he can get his way, and as Hogwarts has rarely accommodated parents in the past, no one has questioned it."
"That's..." Harry gaped. He may not want the Dursleys to come visit him, but he recognized that many of his classmates would appreciate seeing their parents a little more often. And that parents have a right to be able to see their children. Ginny however was more articulate.
"So my parents... were only here, only allowed to be here, because I was possibly going to die, but not because Ron and I were missing?"
"Actually, I alerted them myself though Molly was already aware you were in danger thanks to that clock of hers. Albus did not return until after they had arrived, and could do nothing about it. He would've preferred of course that I didn't contact them until we were 'sure' that you and Ron were missing, and been missing for at least 24 hours. And he would've preferred in this situation that it was done after it was all over, and even then, he might not have wanted your parents to come unless you died."
"But... having mum there was something I needed..." Ginny whispered. "They... they did some mild scolding but overall... They still loved me... and I needed to know that..." She was close to tears. Harry awkwardly put his arm around her. Minerva smiled at them, pleased Harry had figured out Ginny needed comfort even if he wasn't sure how to go about it.
"Albus likes to believe he knows what's best for everyone. Sophia thinks he's off his rocker. Especially according to psychology. She's trying to convince me to change the class systems even." Minerva's lips quirked a small smile. Harry sat up straighter at that, looking a bit excited.
"Who is Sophia? Is she...?" he trailed off. Ginny looked between him and the professor in confusion.
"Her name is Sophia Riley and she is a fully trained healer. She also has taken classes in the muggle world and is certified in the field of psychology though I don't quite understand the system. But she will be able to treat you both. I've hired her as an assistant to Poppy, so no one will think twice about her being in the castle," she informed them. Ginny still seemed confused. Harry beamed.
"That's great!" He turned to Ginny. "Psychology is something the muggle has that deals with how people think, and people study it, and if a person takes the right tests they can help others overcome problems. That means she can help us with our nightmares!" He subsided a little. "Though... it'll be hard to talk about it with a stranger..."
"It is far better than nothing. I'm sure it will be just fine. She wants to meet with you tomorrow. Ginny, since your first class is at 9:50, you should meet her in the Hospital Wing at about 8:30, she said she'd like to be able to have hour long sessions. If you'd like you can eat breakfast there, and I can be there initially too," the professor offered. "And Harry, since your history class ends at 10:50, you should meet her immediately afterwards, and then you could opt to have lunch there or with the rest of the students."
"That... sounds good, thank you Aunt Minerva," he responded slowly, thinking it over.
"Y-yeah. Thanks professor..." Ginny was immensely nervous, but also willing to try if it would get rid of her nightmares. Only one week and she was ready for them to be gone. She wondered how Harry could stand it. The professor smiled at them.
"Sophia also mentioned that it's very likely she'll want to continue the sessions throughout the summer. Harry, I'll make arrangements for you, likely either a portkey, which is an item that will transport you to the destination if you're touching it, or the Knight Bus, which I'll give you further instruction for if that's the method of transportation we choose. Ginny, we'll just tell your mother that Poppy wants to do many check ups to make sure the dark magic didn't leave any side effects, and she doesn't want to call in anyone from St. Mungo's because it would call too much attention on you." Minerva was smirking, she did enjoy occasionally twisting the truth without lying. Ginny sighed in relief.
"Thank you," she answered with gratitude. "I was worried what Mum would think... She... might not like this method... But it will work, won't it?" she whispered timidly. Minerva patted her hand reassuringly but could not think of any words to comfort her. Harry just shrugged.
"I'm willing to try anything at this point... We're too young for even a small dose of dreamless sleep, and there's no magical remedy otherwise for nightmares. And they... the ones I have... the ones you probably have... they don't go away... and as time goes on... they just... can get worse... Sometimes better, but I don't think an occasional night free of nightmares really counts..." he struggled to come up with anything else to say. "I just... When I realized... I... You... um... We're... we... shouldn't have to deal with the nightmares we have. And since there was no magical solution... I tried to think muggle... and I remembered this. A lot of people, well I guess mostly just my uncle... and those in Little Whinging... think that it's a load of um crock but... It's worth a try, and it's really our only option other than hoping they'll go away on their own... and I haven't had any luck with that approach."
"Oh... then I guess I have no choice but to try, huh?" Ginny mumbled. "I will try and see if I think it's worth it. And it does sound like it could be helpful... but I don't think we'll really know until we do try." Harry nodded. She smiled weakly.
"Whether it works or not, remember that no matter what happens, you can always come to me," their professor inserted firmly.
"Thanks professor." Ginny managed another smile.
"Now how about some tea and dessert after that discussion?" the older witch suggested. They certainly deserved a treat and some help calming down.
They enjoyed the break, drinking tea and eating mostly in silence for a few minutes after the tray arrived. Minerva let them be silent so they could digest the idea of meeting Sophia. And to process the conversation as a whole. Before she could say anything after finishing her own tea, the fire flared green.
Harry and Ginny noticed immediately and jumped. Minerva turned to look, fighting a smile. The most likely person to be flooing her would be Remus. It seemed he did not just want to respond and wait for her own response. She had been beginning to wonder if he was going to write after all. The two students were tense, wondering who it would be. And how the person would react.
A shabbily dressed man stepped out. He had sandy blond hair, a few healing scars, and a desperate air about him. Yet his expression was wildly hopeful. He took a shaky breath as he shook out the dust, then he started walking to the chairs.
"Professor, I-" He stopped and froze. He gaped. "Harry...?" he whispered, sounding a bit choked up. He shook himself. "I'm sorry," he apologized as he backed up to go back through the floo. "I didn't know that you had students with you. I better-"
"Stay," she ordered. He froze. "Come join us. It is not a problem. This is Harry Potter, and Ginny Weasley. And this man is Remus Lupin." Harry sat up straight.
"Was he one of my dad's friends?" Harry asked eagerly. She smiled at him.
"Yes, he was."
Remus shifted uncertainly. Ginny gasped in surprise. Harry stood up and approached him uncertainly. He was glad he was here, but... He had never met him before.
"I haven't seen you since the week your parents died..." Remus breathed, stepping forward hesitantly. They stopped a few feet away from each other. Harry broke the silence.
"Um... where were you then...?" he inquired softly. He wanted to be angry, to rage about how he'd always wanted someone from his family to come rescue him from his Aunt and Uncle. He wanted to refuse the man the chance to get to know him. But... there was always the chance that there was a good reason for it all. Unknowing of Harry's inner turmoil, Remus sighed, inwardly beating himself up.
"Undercover trying to help win the war. We didn't have much hope at the time, and I was often away undercover. I didn't even get back in time for their funeral," he replied, grief in his tone despite the years that had passed.
"Oh... that makes sense... what about after?" Harry felt let down, but tried not to let it creep into his voice.
"The ministry would've done extensive checks to be sure I could take care of you... especially considering your status. And I wouldn't have passed."
"Why not? Why didn't you visit?" Harry asked, pleadingly with a hint of desperation. Remus sighed and hesitated.
"I didn't visit because not only did Dumbledore tell me not to and that I had to let you come to me once you turned 11, but your aunt wouldn't let me visit, not even to explain magic to you. As for not passing... Well... They generally don't allow werewolves near children." He waited a moment. Both children frowned before making the connection. Their eyes widened, but they didn't seem scared.
"Well, you'll have to tell us what being a werewolf is like," Harry commented, "but first I want to hear the rest." Ginny nodded in agreement. Remus stared at them, stunned. The last time he had a reaction like this was when James and Sirius had figured it out. Most people reacted with fear, yet these two preteens took it in a stride. He shook himself and reminded himself he had questions to answer.
"All werewolves are required to be registered but the records are sealed until needed. If I stepped forward requesting custody, that would be enough to allow them to see my records and find out that I am a werewolf. Sure, there are plenty of people who have figured it out over the years because of full moons. But the general public isn't aware somehow, and I wanted to keep it that way because it allows me to move more freely, especially around you."
"Okay... I guess that makes sense..." Harry sighed. "But it's not fair! You're only dangerous once a month and I'm sure you take proper precautions!"
"It's how the wizarding world works." Remus shrugged.
"Still not fair," Harry grumbled. "I could've been taken away from the Dursleys by someone who loved me if they weren't so stupid." Remus flinched.
"Dumbledore assured me you were being well cared for..." he trailed off as he looked at Minerva, who was shaking her head.
"He did the same with me. He was lying," she stated bluntly, "I don't know why he has made the decisions the way he has, but I'm not allowing it to continue."
"I'm so sorry Harry..." the werewolf whispered as he turned to Harry, head down as he felt shame for believing the headmaster had it all under control. "I hope someday you can forgive me."
"I already have." Remus jumped and stared at him in surprise. "You would've done something if you could've, and my aunt and uncle hate magic so they wouldn't allow you near me even if Dumbledore tried to force it... and I'd rather you safe from harm than being chased down for something you can't control." Harry moved closer hesitantly.
"I... thank you Harry..." The man had tears in his eyes, and seemed a bit choked up.
"Why don't you join us, and you and Harry can exchange stories?" the professor suggested, though she looked suspiciously bright-eyed herself.
Ginny agreed enthusiastically, happy about the idea, and wanting to support Harry in this. After all, he trusted her enough to bring her along.
They lost track of time and Harry and Ginny barely made it back to Gryffindor tower before curfew.
A/n I'm really sorry this took so long. But I finally finished it. There were parts that were fighting me, the Howler for one. I'm still not happy with how I worded it but I can't think of anything better. And this ending sucks, but I again can't think of anything better, so I have to leave it as is, if I want this chapter up sometime in the next week. Or month.
As for galleons, and other canon based facts, I'm trying to world build reasonably somewhat within canon, but the things I want to expand on or have a good understanding of so I can use it properly... well it's really difficult to research them. So I figure out what I need to, have some background, and leave it at that. If you think my conclusions are incorrect, please let me know. Politely without insults. And if you have an account, we can have a discussion about why you believe that and how I came to the conclusion I did. I'm not going to change my theories and headcanons and all easily. Unless it's a huge plot hole, at which point I'll either edit it or write in a scene later to explain it away and go back at some point when I remember to smooth it out so that it still fits the later scene without being so glaringly obvious a mistake.
Besides, I'd rather concrete criticism to admittedly pleasant ego stroking. I like knowing people enjoy my work, but I also want to know why and what people don't like, and what I can improve. Just don't be rude or insulting, and I'll be perfectly find with the criticism.
Also, I don't have much patiences for people asking for the next chapter, especially within the first week after posting. If you want to know the progress, check my profile. I'm working on remembering to update it once a week with where I am at on posting all of my fanfiction. I have several ongoing projects, as well as real life to deal with. I really wish I could easily just stay at home and write (disregarding writer's block), but in order to save up more easily, I recently got a second job. Hopefully, I can switch to the second job full time in a few months since that is an option, but unfortunately I'm too nice to leave my other job which lost three people within the last month.