Harry Potter, Geek of Magic
Harry Potter sat in the Gryffindor common room, changing a needle back and forth.
Silver, to wood. Wood, to silver. Needle to matchstick to needle to matchstick to needle. He sipped water to refresh a throat dry from whispering the incantation again and again.
Though nothing next to what he'd seen professors do, it was unspeakably cool, and he was the one doing it.
Not very useful though, unless he had a match and needed a needle, and had a needle—a silver needle, at that—and needed to start a fire.
Needle to toothpick. That should be easy, except he didn't know the incantation, and he could probably find it in his book somewhere, it had pages and pages of lists, but he didn't have the patience.
The general incantation for turning an inanimate object into a different one was inanimata reformandam, and while it was supposedly much harder to use a general incantation, it sounded easier than going through the book looking for the specific incantation and then having to memorize it.
To use a general incantation, you had to really know what you wanted.
Harry wanted a toothpick.
On the fourth try, he got one. It was splintery, discolored and not sharp enough, but that was mended with a few more attempts.
Harry picked a corn kernel out of his teeth. From lunch.
Toothpick to silver needle to matchstick, using only inanimata reformandam all the while. The shapes of the match and toothpick were so close he didn't need to alter his wand movement at all.
He tried changing it into an iron needle, but only got a failed partial transformation to silver.
Harry opened his transfiguration textbook. Visualization was only half of it. Wand movements mattered, and more reading than he wanted to do indicated that iron was one of the harder metals to transfigure, and adding carbon to it to make steel just made it harder.
Copper was much easier. Barely harder than silver. Make the turn of the wand a little broader, use a softer flick, visualize the copper, imagining what it was. A few tries and he had a copper needle. Copper to wood. Wood to copper. Copper to wood to copper to wood to silver to wood to silver to copper to wood.
He could feel the magic coming down his arm and sloshing through his wand, and you were supposed to be able to feel how the sloshing in the wand for one spell was different than for the other, and he thought he could, but it was so slight, and his magic so roughly felt, that he might have been imagining it.
No matter. Copper needle to tin needle, to wooden matchstick.
Speaking of which. He scraped the head of the match against the rough stone of the fireplace, and the match lit. He turned it upside down, the fire climbing up, and let it fall upon the hearth when his fingers got too hot.
He didn't even know what the red stuff at the tip of the matchstick was, and it had still worked.
He'd taken the matchstick from class, so maybe it had been a matchstick from the start, and remembered how to be one. He took a twig from his bag—he'd scooped up a few on his way to the dorm-broke off a third so it would be likesized, and tried turning that into a matchstick.
That didn't work, and after the briefest possible consultation with his textbook, he decided the problem was that twigs were unworked wood, and after a few more minutes of skimming, came to a conclusion about how the wand movement ought to change.
The twig lit on fire. Harry put it out by dropping his textbook on it. There was some point to leather covers after all.
Harry spent a little longer skimming what the book had to say about what wand movements to use for what properties, and he ended up with an ugly, knobby matchstick.
Changing it back to a twig was easy-it wanted to be a twig anyway. Twig to matchstick to twig to matchstick, doing it a little better each time, adjusting the wand movements by feel, a process that reminded him of the time he'd tried riding Dudley's skateboard.
Ron tugged his shoulder, "Harry, it's time for dinner."
"Okay. Have fun."
"I'll be down later. Start without me."
Ron grumbled, but his stomach rumbled, and he left, the common room emptying.
Harry managed a matchstick he was happy with, scraped it against the rough stone of the fireplace, and the match lit.
He dropped it on the hearth next to the other, watching it burn.
Harry hadn't exactly read his textbooks, but he'd paid attention during the lecture, and Professor McGonagall had explained that in magic, objects weren't defined by what they were made of so much as by their relationships to other objects. Matchsticks were used to start fires. Playing with them was fun, but you weren't supposed to. The stuff at the end had a smell that to him was part of the smell of fire, and though he'd heard or read that they smelled like rotten eggs, he didn't know what rotten eggs smelled like.
That was enough. That was what magic wanted to know, not the list of chemicals a chemist would produce. Even for wizard-raised children, it was hard to accept the fundamental non-materialism of magic, but Harry was nothing if not flexible.
"Cool," said Harry, and drew another twig from his bag. He ran through different metals, managing iron eventually, though it took a lot out of him
He gave gold a try, and it was as impossible as his textbook said.
He didn't even notice the other Gryffindors came back in from dinner.
Ron tugged his shoulder again. "Harry. Harry. Harry."
Harry looked up.
"You missed dinner."
Harry shrugged. "Time flies when you're having fun." Uncle Vernon often said that while locking Harry in the cupboard. "I really have to pee."
Harry jogged for the loo. He'd been aware of the need for a while, but it had felt very distant till Ron had gotten his attention. That had felt like very much like waking up.
Comfortable once more, he returned to the table he'd been at. He'd sat down to experiment around three in the afternoon, and it was, what, seven-thirty now, and he hadn't done any of his homework. When was it due anyway? He should find that out.
The twig was busy being a piece of copper wire. He bent it, transfigured it into a twig, had a bent twig, turned it back into a wire, worked it around with his hands into curlicues and knots, and turned it back into a twig.
The twig was thicker and shorter than the wire, and all those little twists and curlicues couldn't work. Luckily, rather than breaking into little pieces, the twig had fused into itself. He turned it silver, thought it looked pretty cool, set it aside, and took out another twig.
He tried to turn it into a bent wire from the get go, but it broke. He checked the book, and it had too much to say about shape for him to consider wading through. Better to just ask someone.
He hardly knew anything about the bushy-haired girl, except she answered all the questions in class, she'd transformed her matchstick even sooner than he had, she was always reading, and Ron thought she was really annoying.
Harry was used to Dudley Dursley. Next to that, Hermione was great.
She looked up from her book and smiled with just her lips, in a way that suggested she wasn't sure how to smile and worried that she wasn't doing it right.
Harry didn't notice. He hadn't yet reached the point of worrying about how to smile. He motioned her over and said, "I want to transform this twig so it has a different shape. I can make it a little thinner or longer or whatnot easily enough, but anything more is causing me problems."
Hermione said, "Obviously. We haven't learned that yet."
"Yeah, you know how to do it? It's in the book, right?"
"You can't experiment on your own. It's dangerous."
Harry gave her a rundown of what he'd been doing for the past few hours, Hermione growing increasingly upset as he went along. "That's not allowed. You'll get in trouble. What if someone saw?"
Harry thought lots of people had probably seen, but none had cared.
"And there's no way the match really worked."
Harry made another one and showed her that it really worked. Hermione began to mutter. "You don't understand it. I don't understand it. Horrible things could happen. Didn't you hear McGonagall talking about safety?"
"A little. At the time, I was thinking about elves, mostly. Ron says there's something called house-elves, but Ron says they don't do archery-they don't sound at all like elves from books except they have weird magic and pointy ears. Apparently, there's a lot at Hogwarts, but I haven't seen any yet."
He rifled through the book again, saw a sentence about how shaping ought to be a separate movement from changing the material, so he tried that based totally on intuition, but all that happened was his fingers got a little warm where he held his wand.
"I'll call a prefect if you don't stop."
Harry paused. "Would the prefect help?"
Hermione drew herself up. "They'd make you stop. They'd take points. You're not supposed to be doing this. It's against the rules."
Living with the Dursleys, Harry had learned that whatever he did might or might not be against the rules, depending on his relatives' mood. He did avoid doing anything that would put them in a bad mood, but he accepted the state of having broken the rules as an unfortunate but uncontrollable phenomenon, like bad weather.
Harry said, "Thanks, I'll keep it secret." He needed a private space, just his own. A cupboard maybe.
"No," said Hermione, horrified. "That's even worse. You'll hurt yourself. If you were going to break the rules, you'd be better off doing it in the common room, so people could help you. But you shouldn't break the rules."
"Okay, I won't break the rules," said Harry. He wasn't exactly lying. It was just that he was used to expressing agreement whenever anyone said forcefully. Aunt Petunia called it being respectful.
He waited for Hermione to leave, but she didn't seem minded to, so after a bit he returned to his spell casting.
"Hey, you said you wouldn't."
"And for a minute, I didn't."
Hermione crossed her arms and hmmpped. "I really will get a prefect if you don't stop."
Harry blinked. He didn't understand this girl. She was telling him what to do, but she wasn't yelling at him or cuffing him on the back of his head or anything. Harry said, "I don't care what the others say, I think you're very nice."
Hermione's facial muscles warred between pleasure and upset, settling finally on exasperation. She said, "You are a very strange boy, Harry Potter." And though she didn't help him, she didn't fetch a prefect either.
After a few days of Hermione steadfastly refusing to tell him whatever he wanted to know, Harry concluded that he was going to actually have to read his Transfiguration textbook. Or most if it, at least. The better chapters, anyway.
He was doing just that when Snape walked into the potions classroom and took five points from Gryffindor as punishment for reading a book from a different class without his table set up properly.
He read to the end of his sentence and put the book away.
The day's potion was another one for curing acne. According to Hermione, personal hygiene was a major part of first-year potions curriculum. He took her word for it. Harry's understanding of potions class was that you looked at the directions on the board and tried not to make too much of a hash of it.
Chopping nettles. Righto. He'd gotten plenty of practice chopping with the Dursleys, but it was boring. Harry had a better idea.
He took out his wand, took a guess as to what the wand movements ought to be, and visualized the desired result.
For a wonder, it worked right on the first try, and all the leaves were perfectly cut, though he wasn't sure why they'd been cut diagonally.
He put his wand away and picked up the cutting board so he could shovel them into the cauldron.
From across the classroom Professor Snape said, "Potter, if you're attempting to kill yourself, choose less flamboyant means."
"Do NOT put transfigured ingredients into a potion."
"I only cut them," Harry said.
"No, you transfigured a single piece into cut pieces. If you're desperate to find out how that differs, use an abandoned classroom and observe your potion from a safe distance. 15 points from Gryffindor."
Harry felt only brief annoyance at the loss of points. He wasn't sure how the point system worked or what it was for. It had been explained in his vicinity a number of times, but he hadn't paid attention to it yet.
He was more concerned with how transfiguring the nettle into cut pieces could change the characteristics of the nettle. Did they become new and imperfect pieces, just as if he'd transformed paper into cut nettles? Did it interrupt some magical property of the nettles that depended on not being interfered with magically? Did it-"
"Pay attention, Potter. Five points from Gryffindor." With a flick of his wand, Snape removed the transfigured nettle pieces from Harry's table and give him a pile of leaves in their place.
Harry cut them with a knife. Perhaps transfiguring them into a form made them reluctant to lose that form as they stewed in the potion? Or the opposite. Given that transfigured objects tended to revert, might they recombine into a single piece while stewing?
"Potter, I said to pay attention. Five more points from Gryffindor."
Harry paid more attention to cutting the leaves. But not complete attention. If the spell continued to be on the leaves, then you were basically adding a spell to a potion, and that... could be pretty interesting, actually.
Harry used the levitation charm to drop the leaves in the bubbling potion, then shut the door and watched through the window next to it: the window was why he'd chosen the classroom.
A boom and a flash of purple light, the potion exploded across the room, the cauldron turning into a plant.
Harry shouted, laughed, and ran straight into Filch.
Professor Snape steepled his fingers, observing the two annoyances occupying his office.
Filch said, "He claims he was following your instructions."
Professor Snape said, "Technically, he was, though it seems the boy can't distinguish between sarcasm and instructions."
Harry said, "I think the cauldron turned into a nettle plant."
"It's likely turned back into a cauldron by now. 10 points from Gryffindor."
Harry said, "Sir, if I transfigured a brick into an ingredient, would the stolidness of the brick moderate the ingredient's interaction with other ingredients?"
Professor Snape said, "It would explode in your face. The ingredient would be lacking properties." A bad idea, but surprisingly not completely without some suggestion of insight. "Potter, what's the difference between wolfsbane and monkshood?"
"I asked you this on the first day."
"I wasn't paying attention," said Harry Potter.
Professor Snape rubbed his temples. The brat was loud, disruptive, and had no respect for the rules. James Potter reborn, if James Potter were daft. "Detention, Potter."
"5 points from Gryffindor."
Harry had mostly paid attention to the transfiguration lecture, but then McGonagall had started doing maths up on the board, pre-algebra, about what they'd started working on at the end of his muggle school year, and Harry had tuned out, suddenly unsure if transfiguration was really for him.
The agenda stated that the day's practical exercise was turning a string into a wire, so he pulled a thread off the frayed muggle clothing he wore beneath his robes, sized it up, and turned it into a thin copper wire.
Professor McGonagall said, "Potter. Pay attention, and do not perform magic without my leave. 5 points from Gryffindor."
Harry sighed, put his wand away, stared at the board with unfocused eyes, and fiddled with the copper wire.
It was bright orange currently. Later in class, he'd try producing one with a green patina. Speaking of which, would transfigured copper develop a patina? Would transfigured iron rust? It ought to, shouldn't it, except when you transfigured something, you thought of the properties it ought to have, and those could be almost charms, so might transfigured iron that he'd imagined as rustless be very much like iron that had been charmed to not rust?
To answer any of those questions, he'd have to manage a permanent transformation. Everything he'd made so far had reverted after a few hours, and he didn't understand any of what his book said about it except the 'more power' part.
Stumped by that, Harry drifted into daydreams about saving the school from a giant monster—despite Harry being pre-pubescent, a third-year girl whose clothing kept getting ripped off was deeply involved—and Harry didn't bring his attention back to the class until the lecture had ended and it was time to turn stuff into other stuff.
All the strings appeared on the desks with a wave of McGonagall's wand. McGonagall demonstrated, using the specific incantation, and the students set to it, struggling.
Harry had already done all the struggling, in the common room while Hermione told him to stop being foolish, so he used the general incantation, quickly turning his string into another copper wire, then back into a string. Visualization alone wasn't enough to develop the patina. Hmm. Age plus air. He checked one of the charts in the book, tried a few adjustments to his wand movements, and after a few tries, had a copper wire with a patina.
He thought the changed movement was less important than adding to his visualization an idea of what a patina was.
McGonagall was on the other side of the classroom, helping Hufflepuffs. He put his book on the edge of his desk to provide cover, and turned the wire into iron wire. It snapped into three pieces when he bent it.
He performed the untransfiguration, but that only left him with three pieces of string.
He tried the untransfiguration again, focusing on the three pieces of string becoming a single string, as they'd been at the start.
Small purple flames rose from each of the pieces. Harry jerked back. He'd lost part of his left eyebrow the other day and was growing cautious. He automatically dropped his transfiguration book on the burning string. The scorch marks were accumulating; he needed to learn a charm for putting out fires.
Professor McGonagall appeared behind him. "Potter, two points from Gryffindor. What have I said about attempting what I haven't demonstrated?"
"Don't do it?" Harry guessed.
"Indeed. I appreciate that you're reading ahead, but if you continue to insist on trying what I haven't demonstrated, you will be removed from this classroom and not invited back."
Her voice was stern, but Harry didn't think she sounded too upset.
"But I'm watching, so show me." She dropped a string on his desk.
"Inanimata reformandam," Harry cast, turning the string into a copper wire. Again, into a copper wire with patina.
"The general incantation?" said McGonagall.
Harry shrugged. "Remembering specific incantations seems like a pain."
With McGonagall's permission, he cast reverto, returning wire to a string. That the spell worked didn't please him. It meant that the wire had remembered being a string, and would've returned to being one on its own eventually.
Though also, the fact that it had worked... Harry said, "That which is broken cannot be unbroken?"
McGonagall raised an eyebrow. "Very good. But it can be remade as a whole." She nodded, so he transfigured it into iron wire, broke it into pieces, then, rather than untransfiguring, transfigured the pieces into a whole iron wire.
"Well done," said Professor McGonagall. "What you just did is very similar to the Mending Charm, which you'll start on in charms soon enough. Now, rather than experimenting further, do you feel the flow of the magic moving through your wand?"
"Try to create the same flow while minimizing your wand movement. If you've truly mastered a spell, you can perform it with a tap or a flick." Not that a first-year could actually manage that without gargantuan effort. But it should keep the boy productively occupied until class ended.
Harry tried, but couldn't even really begin to figure out how to get the magic sloshing without moving the wand. Worse than frustrating, it was boring, so after McGonagall had gone to the other side of the classroom, he took a small stick out of his bag.
Suppose he transfigured the stick into a hunk of ice, then the hunk of ice began to melt. Would untransfiguration turn the water back into a stick, or into a layer of melted wood, or set the water on fire, or what?
He looked through the book and found the movement for water and the movement for solids. The cross-reference even had the movement for ice, and also a lot of stuff about heat and where it went that didn't seem worth reading.
"Inanimata reformandam." Didn't work. "Inanimata reformandam. Inanimata reformandam." One the third try, he got a fist sized hunk of ice with pieces of wood scattered through it, and a rush of heat. A bang, a burst of fire, and McGonagall yelled, "Harry Potter!"
Harry sat on the edge of the hospital bed, looking into a mirror. Madam Pomfrey had fixed the burns easily enough, but she'd declined to restore his eyebrows. They matched though, so that was fine.
Professor McGonagall's shouting had been very informative. He'd hadn't thought to account for the heat, and that'd been made worse by his making the ice as cold as he could instead of just cold enough.
He was a little nervous though, about her threat to ban him from the class. The Dursleys had threatened to kick him out all the time, but something about McGonagall made him think she might actually be serious.
She had given him two weeks of detention and hadn't seemed pleased when he'd told her she'd have to coordinate with Professor Snape, but the Hospital Wing was cool, so it wasn't all bad.
Madam Pomfrey said, "Those potions I gave you after the physical seem to have dealt with the nutrition issues nicely."
Harry nodded absently while Madam Pomfrey muttered about muggle diets and junk food. Most of healing magic seemed to be done with wands and potions, but there was an object on the desk like a bunch of tiny frisbees with horns.
"No touching, Potter."
He drew his hand back.
Harry said, "Do you have something I can clean my glasses with?"
Madam Pomfrey frowned, then slapped herself on the forehead. "I can't seem to keep it in my head that you're basically muggle-born. Potter, do you wear those glasses just because you can't see properly without them?"
Harry nodded. That's what glasses were for. Weren't they? Harry said, "A lot of the Professors wear glasses."
"It is often useful to have a charms receptacle directly in front of one's eyes. Besides which, poor vision due to aging is a different matter from poor vision due simply to a slight deformation of the eyes."
Harry said, "Because aging is breaking, and what is broken cannot be unbroken?"
Madam Pomfrey looked surprised. "That is the core of the problem."
"So you could correct my eyes, and, say, for an older person, you could correct problems that weren't age, maybe even age-related problems, but eyesight failing just because you're getting older and things don't work well, not because of any mechanical failure, you can't fix?"
"We can ameliorate it very extensively—wizarding lifespans are over twice that of muggles—but age catches us all."
She looked at his eyes, cast three spells on them, and gave him a potion. For a wonder, it tasted good. Somewhat like strawberries and sweet potatoes.
"You'll find your vision improved in the morning. Anything else, Mr. Potter."
Harry looked in the mirror again, thinking about what she'd said about charms receptacles on one's body. "Could I get my ears pierced?"
Harry's clothing sucked. He was aware of this, and did not care. So it'd taken a while before it'd occurred to him that transfiguring his clothing to fit might be fun.
He'd also changed the color. Harry liked color. Bright neon blue! Bright neon green! Bright neon yellow! Went with the earrings.
Not bright neon red. He didn't like many reds besides blood red and maroon. Purple was polarized-some was great, some was bad. Almost all hues were good, but only in darker shades. A lot of purple that was brighter and slightly pink, wasn't horrible, though the texture mattered. Powdery was bad, but-
"Harry, stop. You've covered your hands in ink and now you're casting color charms on the ink? No. That's not what you're doing. You're transfiguring it, aren't you? That's dangerous, Harry, it's right on your skin, you could transfigure yourself by accident."
Harry shrugged at Hermione. He wouldn't mind being purple. So long as it was a darker shade.
"Potter!" said Professor McGonagall, and Harry stopped. He curled his hands into fists so she couldn't see his palms.
"Let me see your hands, Potter."
He showed her the backs of them.
McGonagall sighed. "Your palms, Potter."
"Why do you want to see my palms? This isn't divination. We don't start that until third-year, and you said-"
Harry showed her his palms.
She glared at them, whisked her wand through the air, and the purple ink vanished.
"You're trying to transfigure the coloring agents into something that produces the desired wavelengths of light by working backward from the desired wavelength?"
"Exactly. It's hard because I don't have enough reference materials."
"Detention," said McGonagall.
"You'll have to schedule it with Professors Snape and Flitwick."
"Not Professor Sprout?"
McGonagall nodded gravely and looked at his work. Most of the students were still trying to turn a soup spoon into a stirring stick-Potter had done that rather casually within seconds of the activity being explained, then he'd played around for a few minutes with different types of soup spoons and stirring sticks, and had little more to learn from the exercise.
Really, she should make him do some math, but she'd been teaching long enough to know that what Potter needed was to get to the point where the necessity of the math would become apparent to him.
She summoned a color chart from her desk. Dye, not paint. "Rather than ink on your hands, you might experiment with clothing."
Harry nodded and took off his robe to experiment on, revealing the painfully bright muggle clothing he had on beneath.
A Hufflepuff made a joke about never having seen a rainbow sun before.
Professor McGonagall looked at the clothing as Harry altered his robes into something Albus Dumbledore might call garish.
She held him behind after class (which was routine, really) and once all the other students had left, said, "Mr. Potter, you're wearing transfigured clothing?"
"What is it transfigured from?"
"Clothing," said Harry.
"I imagine you outgrew your old clothing, so you made it larger. That's dangerous."
Harry explained that the clothing was actually much too big for him, hand-me-downs from his cousin, and McGonagall asked to see one.
For whatever reason, she didn't seem pleased when Harry took off his shirt and gave it to her.
"Put your robe back on," said Professor McGonagall, returning it to its original color.
McGonagall laid out his shirt and muttered over it. In short order she'd discovered what she wanted, and the original shirt, in its stained and tattered glory, lay before them.
"I see why you wanted to transfigure it. But wearing objects in danger of reverting is dangerous. In order to transfigure them properly..."
It was concerning, the way Harry Potter cackled.
He'd laid out beat up old clothes on the Quidditch pitch, covered them with grass from the Quidditch pitch, and other plant materials from other places, and was transfiguring them. And cackling.
It was the second time he'd done so, and the Hufflepuff Quidditch team was slightly unnerved. There was also the fact that Professor McGonagall was in the stands, possibly spying for Gryffindor.
Harry flounced around beneath them, casting spells on the clothing. After nearly an hour of that, he grabbed a pair of underwear, and put them on beneath his robe. Then a pair of pants. Then he took off his robe on put on a shirt.
Cedric Diggory, third-year reserve, shook his head at the barmy Boy-Who-Lived.
The staff meeting revolved around a discussion of the first-years, and they'd finally reached P. The letter they'd all been waiting for.
Dumbledore said, "And how is Mr. Potter?"
Sinistra said. "He's given to spurts of overly rambunctious behavior but is overall a quiet boy; he seems largely unaware of the attention paid him. He did poorly on the assessment test and has been inconsistent with his homework, but he has paid moderate attention and his quiz marks are acceptable. Always hanging around with Ronald Weasley."
Professor Sprout's report was nearly identical. Professors Flitwick and Quirrell said much the same, adding only that he displayed a flair for spellcasting, though not a truly remarkable one.
They all mentioned detentions. Nothing malicious. He just didn't seem to understand the concept of rules.
Professor Dumbledore said, "Mr. Potter is the youngest of the first-years. Handicap your evaluations of him accordingly."
Professor Snape snorted. "Reasonably talented with a wand Potter may or may not be, but he lacks both the intelligence and the will to live up to his fame. His potions work is abysmal. I've yet to see him pay complete attention for a single instant. His homework makes clear that he only skims the assigned text, rather than reading it, and he'd best gain some idea of what a comma is if he ever wants to get better than a Poor on a composition."
Professor McGonagall said, "That may be, but in my class he's a bloody little genius."
The room was silent. Snape gaped. McGonagall describing a student as a genius was even more startling than her describing said genius as 'bloody.'
Professor McGonagall said, "And an absolute terror of course. He completes the exercise in an instant, then spends the rest of the class asking himself, 'What happens if I do this?' Which wouldn't be so bad except he immediately goes and does it. He has an advanced if unsophisticated understanding of theory, and a legitimate feel for it what's more, but getting him to think about a planned course of action for more than five seconds is a problem. So far he's avoided any lengthy stays in the hospital wing, but it's been a near thing. Miss Granger seems put out at not being the best, but all the points she earns keeping him alive make up for it."
The silence was even more profound, broken at last by Dumbledore's cough. "Genius, you say?"
"He transfigured his whole muggle wardrobe, and he even did it properly the third time around. Elegant, carefully controlled permanent transfiguration. From a first-year. After a month and a half of schooling. Overlarge cotton rags into perfectly fit silk. He used cut grass for the refreshing, and pebbles for the buttons. Beautiful buttons. And a muggle contraption called a zipper, which I profess to have been impressed by. And the clothing has even accepted anti-tearing and anti-ripping charms."
The silence had grown even deeper. Her colleagues' expressions were nearly skeptical. That would be an Outstanding class project from a third-year. Impressive from a fourth-year, even.
"Yes," said Professor McGonagall, answering their unspoken questions. "I watched him cast the spells. It wasn't someone else. Professor Flitwick, I believe he came to you about the charms?"
The little man nodded. "He said it was for his muggle-clothing. If I'd known he wanted to cast charms on transfigured clothing, I would've given him another detention, not a demonstration."
Professor McGonagall said, "The transfiguration was more than good enough. Filius, has he asked you about animation yet? He's promised to hold off on conjuration and unliving to living transfiguration transformation until I say he's ready, and I'm using animation to keep him occupied in the interim."
Professor Flitwick said, "Not as yet."
"I'm not surprised. Charms frustrates him. He doesn't like how you have to use a different incantation to cast different spells, and he can't guess it. But eventually..."
Professor Flitwick nodded. Animation was the broadest bridge linking transfiguration and charms. You couldn't properly master it without looking at it from both ends.
Then something odd about what she'd said struck Flitwick. "It's not as if there aren't specific incantations in transfiguration."
Professor McGonagall's answering smile was dry. "His greatest flaw, other than a death wish, a distaste for math, and the poor spelling and grammar Severus noted, is his unwillingness to attempt to remember specific incantations. He uses it once at most, to get a feel for the spell, then never uses it again. After that, general incantations with whatever systematic mods he thinks ought to work."
The other Professors were processing that, but Professor Dumbledore wore a very broad smile, looking twenty years younger. "Excellent. Any other unexpected talents?"
"Well," said Madam Hooch, who was normally more of a resource than a participant during staff meetings, "He's damn good on a broom."
Dumbledore absent nod communicated that while this was indeed nice, and even worth mentioning, it wasn't exactly critical. He was more concerned with the reported initial state of Harry's muggle clothes, particularly combined with Pomfrey's report of mild poor nutrition—he'd talk to McGonagall about that later-and with the reports from other Professors indicating Potter was only really friendly with one other student, Ronald Weasley.
"Minerva, didn't you say that he was Miss Granger's only friend?"
"I said that he's the closest she has to one, not that they're close.
"Nurture the seed then."
The staff nodded, except Snape, who sneered. At Hogwarts, as at many schools, socially isolated students had a mysterious tendency to wind up paired with those the teachers thought they might make friends with.
Dumbledore moved on to the next student. "Pram, Mary."
Yay! I've figured out how to make em-dashes again. For some time, my previous method of using two hyphens has not been working. But alt 0151 does the trick.
I feel zero responsibility to update this thing. No larger pretensions to plot, just pure lolz.
I really, really need to update Polymagus. I've let my own indecision about how to handle the Chamber of Secrets stop me.
Monstrosity, by JLL, available on Amazon for just 99 cents. There's a story I wrote that's actually complete.