Hey friends and fans, Kairomaru is here with another chapter of Arch Mage, the Path of Magic! Harry begins teaching the girls 'Simplicity', a method of Spellcrafting that removes all the excess and simplifies the process into near-universal spells. Or as Harry calls them: "Good spellcraft." Kek! Will this be enough to keep the prodigious Spellcrafter from wandering off to who knows where? Also, whatever happened after Quirrel's death in first year? What became of Voldemort's shade?

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Chapter 24 – Simplicity, Interests, and Shadows

In the old classroom that Harry had taken over for the lessons with the girls, the four girls were currently going through another lesson in what Harry dubbed 'simplicity'.

"Okay, so I don't need the wand movements or the incantation?" Astoria looked between Harry and her wand a couple of times.

Harry chuckled at the adorable confusion on the First Year's face. "Technically speaking, no one does. They're mnemonic patterns to help you remember, focus, and then achieve the spell that you're trying to cast." Harry explained to Astoria with an easy smile. "But they teach silent casting starting in Sixth and Seventh Year here at Hogwarts, and some even learn point casting before they graduate. Once you really know a spell, you'll find it as easy to cast as simply wanting to."

"True enough…" Daphne had to agree. Her own experience with the Flagrante Curse, taught to her by her mother for self-defense, had eventually led her to be able to cast it silently and with barely any wand movement.

"But you take that even further, Harry." Hermione said, looking at the tip of her wand with a focused expression. "Your 'simplicity' makes a single, near-universal, spell for a specific Branch of Magic that's capable of a whole host of tasks."

"Yep." Harry nodded to her with a grin. "There's no need to make a hundred spells, each doing the same thing, but with slightly different conditions and limitations. All you really need is a single spell that can do it all."

Daphne shook her head at Harry with a small grin. "Only you, Harry, would make that sound so simple."

"Isn't it that simple?" Harry cocked his head to the side with a raised eyebrow.

"Is it?" Luna asked with an equally curious look.

"I think so." Harry grinned at Luna, seeing that she had the tip of her wand lit up with a Lumos Charm and hadn't used the incantation for it.

Hermione grimaced at her lack of progress. "I don't think it's that simple at all."

"Hmm…" Harry adopted a thinking expression for a moment. "Alright," He snapped his fingers as an idea came to him. "Hermione, what's two plus two?"

"Four." Hermione answered automatically.

"What about two times two?" Harry questioned her again.

"Four." Hermione looked at Harry oddly.

"So the answer is the same, even if you used a different operation to get to it, yes?" Harry led her towards what he wanted her to understand.

"Yes, that's obvious, it's just basic math." Hermione wasn't making the connection to spellwork from the sudden questions.

"So one plus one plus one plus one is still four, right?" Harry tried not to let his amusement show, knowing that it would mildly annoy his best friend.

Hermione nodded to Harry. "It is…obviously."

"Okay then, so if Intent plus Focus plus Wand Movement plus Incantation equals Spell…what can you simplify?" Harry posed the question to her in the logic of mathematics.

"Well…since silent casting and point casting are possible…you'd remove the wand movements and the incantation…so would it be intent multiplied by focus?" Hermione asked after a moment to think about the 'equation' that Harry had created.

"Why don't you find out?" Harry motioned to her wand with a grin.

Hermione took a deep breath and focused on what she wanted, the Lumos Charm. She focused as hard as she could, thinking about every time that she'd ever used the spell. She drove her intent to make light into her focus and nearly blinded herself when a large ball of light appeared on the tip of her wand. "Ah!" The light went out from the lack of focus. Hermione rubbed at her eyes for a moment and then looked at her wand again. "I…I did it…"

"Uh huh." Harry nodded to her with a smile.

"Congratulations, Hermione." Luna clapped for her friend.

Daphne politely applauded as well. "Well, now I have to get this right next, otherwise I'm going to lose respect as the big sister." She looked over at Astoria (clapping beside Luna) with a grin.

"I'm gonna win!" Astoria giggled and went back to focusing on the Lumos Charm, trying to make the spell appear through only intent and focus, rather than the four steps that they were taught in the beginning weeks of Hogwarts.

Hermione, eager to reproduce her results, repeated the new process of amplifying her intent with her tremendous focus. Another Lumos appeared at the tip of her wand, this time smaller and not as blindingly bright. "I did it!" Hermione beamed at her success, bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement and acting her age.

"You've taken the first step into simplicity, Hermione." Harry praised her with a chuckle. "From here, you'll need to determine your own Interpretation of Magic, and progress with it."

"Yes!" Hermione smiled brightly at Harry before throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly.

Harry returned the hug with a smile and counted down in his head. 'Three… Two… One…' Hermione stepped back with a red face from her impulsive hug.

"Sorry, Harry, I was just…" Hermione tried to apologize, only to be cut off when Harry pulled her into a hug.

"No worries, Hermione." Harry squeezed her once before letting her go.

Daphne playfully rolled her eyes at the two of them. "Where's my hug?"

Harry looked at her with a grin. "I don't remember you succeeding yet."

"Prat." Daphne stuck her tongue out at Harry for a moment, something she'd picked up from Tracy, before refocusing on the task at hand.

Luna sat next to Harry as she repeatedly made a Lumos appear on the tip of her wand, before making it go out, only to bring it back. "This is easier than the first lesson." She grinned at her big brother.

"Maybe I was a bit overzealous with the first one." Harry admitted with a laugh. "Trying to teach the concept of universal inanimate to inanimate permanent Transfiguration might've been a bit much."

"You think so?" Luna asked with a bubbly laugh.

To Harry it wasn't that complex. It was merely using the Principle of Identity, deriving the Aspect of Naming, to then get the Effect of changing the name, and therefore the Identity, of an inanimate object. That would permanently change it into the new object, just like he'd done with the leaf that he'd turned into metal and then into a knife, before finally turning it into water.

"Whoa!" Daphne exclaimed, getting Harry's attention, along with the large Lumos Charm that went out a second later. "My eyes!" The ravenette closed her eyes and shook her head, still seeing spots even behind her eyelids.

"Congratulations, Daphne." Hermione smiled at her friend's success.

Daphne kept her eyes closed, trying to make the spots go away. "Nearly blinded myself."

"That'll happen if you look directly into a bright light." Harry informed her with a cheeky grin.

"Ha…ha…ha…" Daphne's fake laugh couldn't have held more sarcasm if she tried.

Harry wrapped Daphne in a hug with a chuckle. "Good job, Daphne."

"H-Harry!" Daphne sputtered and her eyes flew open in surprise from the hug.

"What? You said you wanted a hug earlier." Harry snickered at the flushed girl.

"Don't make me hex you, Mister." Daphne glared at Harry the best she could with small spots still dancing in her vision.

Harry let her go with a laugh and Daphne turned to look in the opposite direction so no one could see her blushing cheeks. While turned away and getting herself composed, Daphne began to practice on using Lumos like she'd done before, silent and point casted.

"Aww…I lost." Astoria pouted at Daphne succeeding before her.

"It's not a race, Astoria." Harry reassured the youngest girl with a smile. "You'll get it if you keep practicing." He patted her head and Astoria perked up a bit, smiling up at her surrogate big brother.

-Monday, October 11th-

Hermione, Daphne, Astoria, Tracy, Luna, and Harry were all in the library after classes, planning to get some newly assigned homework done, or just study their own interests. Tracy and Astoria were going over one of the First Year's assignments, while Hermione and Luna were doing the same with Luna's current essay. Harry was looking through a small stack of tomes, all of them regarding either Potions or Herbology. Daphne, meanwhile, had a book in front of her that she was reading and occasionally taking notes from.

"Healing Magic, huh?" Harry spoke after putting aside one of the books he was looking through and noticing the book that Daphne had in front of her.

Daphne looked up from the book and gave Harry a small smile. "Yeah. I think I want to give being a Healer a try after graduation." She still remembered how amazing it had felt to have Harry remove the Blood Malediction from her, healing her of the blood curse. "I think I want to help people…like you did for me, Harry."

Harry returned the smile. "That's a wonderful thing, Daphne."

"Healer Greengrass, huh?" Tracy smiled at her best friend. "Would I get a discount for treatments?"

"Nah, I'd charge you double." Daphne laughed at Tracy's stunned face.

"Hey!" Tracy playfully bumped Daphne with her shoulder, laughing along with her.

Hermione shook her head at the pair with a small smile. "It's not a bad idea to think about what you might want to do after graduation. But you two should be quieter before Madam Pince comes over here." She glanced towards the front of the large Hogwarts Library, still seeing Madam Pince there, but knowing the librarian would come over if the noise got too loud.

Daphne and Tracy both looked over to the front of the library as well as they quieted down. The two returned to what they'd been doing previously, Tracy helping Astoria while Daphne continued her reading and note-taking.

"Healing Magic is pretty interesting." Daphne mused aloud after reading another page. "You can really help people with it, but if you use it wrong or aren't good at it, you could end up causing the person more harm. It's almost like a balancing act."

"It's the same way with Non-Magical Medicine." Hermione said, knowing a bit about the subject thanks to both of her parents being Dentists. Daphne looked up at that and then quickly noted it down on her parchment.

'I'll look into Muggle medicine later too.' Daphne made the mental note along with the physical one. It couldn't hurt to learn and might even lead to a breakthrough in her own newfound goal of becoming a Healer.

Harry smiled to himself as he read from the book that he'd just flipped open. 'Getting there, Daphne. But you still have a step or two before you figure it out, I'd say.' The Spellcrafter thought to himself, pleased by the progress that his friends were making on their own paths to exploring Magic. Harry flipped a page and read the chapter title with a small grin.

Magical Plants – Pollination and Seed Improvement

-Tuesday, October 12th ~ Hogwarts Greenhouse-

"Coming along nicely, aren't you?" Harry smiled happily at seeing his six chosen cultivars growing so well in their pots. To his eyes, they looked vibrant and healthy, indicating that they were receiving plenty of nutrition and water, and had the right soil chemistry. To his Mage Sight spell, he saw the developing magic within the plants as they grew, each of them growing at a steady pace and building up magic in the parts of the plant that would be used in Potions. "It'll be time to pollinate you, soon enough. Then we'll put the new information I looked up to use and make sure your seeds are as good as possible."

The greenhouse door opened and Neville walked in with a small bag in his hands. "Afternoon, Harry." He smiled at seeing his friend.

"Afternoon, Nev." Harry returned the greeting with a smile of his own. "What's that you've got there?" He nodded towards the bag.

"Ah, my great-aunt, Enid, sent me some special fertilizer made with Re'em manure." Neville set the small bag on the table next to his own plant. The stalk that was constantly swaying back and forth at a slow pace now had three small branches on it, each with four green leaves. "It's expensive fertilizer, but it should get my Electroginkgo biloba to grow really well."

"I had wondered what that little dancing stalk was." Harry grinned at the swaying stalk.

"Most just call them Thunder Ginkgo. They're native to East Asia, like their non-Magical cousins, but if you take care of them well, you can make a strong extract from their leaves that's a great potion ingredient." Neville explained with a longing look at the swaying stalk. "Supposedly it's been used in various treatments in the East for years, everything from heart and blood conditions, to eye conditions, and even brain injuries and diseases."

"Where do the 'electro' and 'thunder' parts come in?" Harry asked as he turned away from his own pots to look at Neville fully.

"Oh, they can survive getting struck by lightning, and if they're under attack, they can shock whatever is attacking them, kind of like an electric eel." Neville explained with a small smile.

"Is it safe to grow it here?" Harry asked with a chuckle, knowing that several accidents happened in the various year-levels of Professor Sprout's class.

Neville nodded to Harry as he opened the bag of Re'em fertilizer. "It'll be fine, Professor Sprout is taking precautions to make sure no plants owned by a student are disturbed." He began filling a new planter (larger than the current pot the tiny sapling was in) with a mixture of fresh soil and the fertilizer.

Harry got the impression that Neville was trying to grow the exotic and potentially dangerous tree for a specific reason. His friend hadn't brought it up though, and Harry wasn't one to pry into the personal lives of others for no reason. But Neville seemed happy to be raising the sapling and Harry smiled at his buddy's back before turning back to his own pots. He had preparations to make for pollination and the seed extraction that would follow a bit later.

'Herbology is kind of relaxing though.' Harry thought as he prepared his cultivars for pollination. It was one reason that he had an interest in it and something that Andromeda had introduced him to when he was young.

-Beauxbatons Academy-

The Palace of Beauxbatons was a beautiful chateau surrounded by majestic gardens and fountains magically created out of the surrounding mountains. The school looked very impressive despite having stood for over seven hundred years. It being taken care of inside and out to maintain the beauty of the building and grounds, something that Magical France took some pride in for their Magic Academy. Order and cleanliness were valued at the school, so creatures and things that would disrupt them were warded against or repelled immediately upon discovery.

On this particular October day, one student could be found outside the well-maintained grounds and gardens of the school. Far away from the palace, the gardens, but most importantly, the other students and teachers, sat Fleur Delacour.

The Veela teen had her legs crossed and would appear to be meditating to an onlooker. That wasn't quite the case, but also wasn't too far off, either. As Fleur breathed in slowly, everything seemed perfectly normal. When she exhaled just as slowly, however, things changed.

FWOOSH

A ring of flames erupted into existence around Fleur, the orange-red flames with the purple tint to them, marking them as Veela fire, swirled around Fleur in a perfect circle roughly three meters in diameter. As she inhaled again, the Veela fire vanished, leaving only a perfectly circular scorch mark on the ground.

"Hah…" Fleur exhaled slowly once more, the ring of Veela fire bursting back into existence to burn around her. "Merde…" She sighed, seeing the circle of flames around her. Ever since her Magic had recovered from her Duel with Harry near the end of the summer, Fleur's magical power had grown a great deal. It was such that if she wasn't careful in her control, she could overpower a spell or briefly let out a burst of her Veela fire. "What did you do to me, Harry?" She wondered, her mind once more going back to that day.

Her body shivered in phantom pleasure and she shook her head to stop reliving the feelings and sensations of bathing in Primal Fire. Fleur still vividly recalled reaching her peak more powerfully than she ever had before, or since, that day and it made her more primal Veela nature flare up a little just recalling it. Thankfully, she'd long since mastered her Veela-born gifts, and hadn't had a partial, or Magic forbid, full transformation into the more avian form that her people used in defense of their lives. That would be so embarrassing for a young woman of her age to do, and she knew the other Veela within the school would tease her about it for years afterwards if it happened.

Fleur once more calmed herself and the burning circle of Veela fire vanished. 'It had to be the Primal Fire.' She thought to herself as she controlled her Magic and focused on it to the exclusion of all else. 'The Flame of Creation is spoken of in Veela history and folklore as the source of our people and our Magic. Perhaps bathing in it truly does impart more magical power to a Veela?' Fleur had only the history and tales of the Veela to really go on since most Witches and Wizards couldn't conjure Primal Fire to begin with outside of a lengthy ritual. Harry's letter in response to her revealing the growth of her Magic had said that he'd look into what he could, and the follow up letter she'd received the day before she'd returned to Beauxbatons had been filled with Harry's hypotheses about how Primal Fire interacted with Veela and other fire-aligned beings.

"Could it truly be an essence of fire that I felt within me after our Duel?" Fleur murmured to herself as she stood up and called forth her flames to her right hand. With some focus, the flames shaped themselves into a crude imitation of a bow. Fleur touched the flames and pulled them back, drawing out an 'arrow' of fire. With a thought, she let go of the arrow and it maintained its shape as it flew through the air for dozens of meters before dispersing into nothing. "Having to work so hard on control isn't something I ever had to do before." Fleur sighed as she made another fire arrow on her flaming bow and fired it into the open air, burning off a bit more of her excess Magic, while also slowly refining her control over her greater magical power.

If the Primal Fire was responsible for her sudden boost, it was a great discovery that could help the Veela people as a whole, grow stronger. However, if the drawback was such a disparity in their control over their Magic, then it wasn't something that she could recommend wholeheartedly for everyone. Just like Witches and Wizards, Veela were born with Magic and it grew stronger as they got older and started using it. Control was learned from a young age and in school they were taught spells so that they could use their Magic safely and responsibly. A lack of control over one's Magic was usually unheard of outside of contracting a Magical illness of some kind.

"Yet here I am, working on control like a child." Fleur let out a long breath as she fired another fire arrow. She'd never really done archery before, but this seemed like a good way to both burn off some excess energy and refine her control until it was as good as it had been before her Duel with Harry. "It's certainly better than just throwing flames everywhere until I'm back at an equilibrium." It was doubly important for today, since their Dueling Club was meeting after dinner. Fleur didn't want to overpower a spell and severely injure someone…or worse.

-Hogwarts ~ Halloween-

"This is amazing!" Astoria marveled at all of the decorations in the Great Hall as the students entered for lunch. The decorations had only started to be put up after breakfast, but now they were fully set up for the holiday.

A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkins stutter. Hagrid had grown massive pumpkins and carved them into Jack-O'-Lanterns that could probably have three grown men sit in them comfortably. There were many bowls of candy of all types on the four House tables. A group of animated fake skeletons were dancing about in the four corners of the hall, and there was even music in the air, though no one could quite tell where it was coming from.

"This is Halloween at Hogwarts." Daphne laughed and squeezed her little sister into a side-hug.

"They even darkened the windows and the ceiling early." Tracy pointed out the darker state of the Great Hall, even though it was close to noon.

Luna giggled as a flock of bats passed over their heads. "I love Halloween!"

"I bet the Headmaster had to darken the ceiling. I don't think others can control it." Hermione mused as they made their way towards the Ravenclaw table.

Harry laughed before he blew out one of the candles inside a Jack-O'-Lantern and then Charmed the smoke into the shape of 'ghosts' from Non-Magical fiction. The smoky apparitions flew about the Great Hall, making other students point at them in surprise. The candle within the Jack-O'-Lantern relit itself a second later as Harry, Luna, and Hermione sat down and started making their plates for lunch.

-Albania, October 31st, Evening-

In a small shack hidden from view through Magical means, a rather unscrupulous Wizard was gasping and convulsing on the floor. The light of the full moon in the sky was shining through the window as he writhed about with a wispy, black vapor surrounding his body. After a minute or so, the Wizard's body went still and didn't move for a long moment.

"Uuuhaaahh!" The Wizard inhaled strongly, as if starved for breath as he sat up suddenly. "Hah…hah…" The ragged breathing slowly returned to a normal rhythm as the Wizard raised his hands before clenching and unclenching them a few times. "It took much more effort…but this time I've taken complete control." The man's voice was odd, as if two people were speaking simultaneously. The Wizard looked up at the full moon, revealing cold red eyes that had previously been brown. "Lord Voldemort will not die so easily, Dumbledore!"

He still seethed with hatred and rage from the memory of falling for Dumbledore's trap with the Philosopher's Stone. Quirrel had been useful enough, being tempted with promises of power and recognition. Possessing the Professor had hidden Voldemort from even Dumbledore's eyes. Having times of full control over Quirrel's body had been helpful, but the man had to be given control more often than not. Quirrel had become completely loyal (and controlled) once Voldemort had possessed him, which made him obey the Dark Lord's orders in his attempt to gain possession of the Philosopher's Stone. The traps and protections that Dumbledore had placed to guard the Stone were almost laughably easy, aside from the Cerberus and that damned mirror!

"Damn him…" Voldemort raged as he stood up in his new host's body. "By killing Quirrel, he was able to banish me in my weakened state." He still felt the pain of the spell that ended Quirrel's life. Then recalled the spells that Dumbledore had tried to weave around him in an effort to exorcise him. It was pain like none other, even the Cruciatus couldn't quite compare to the feeling of having your spirit and soul seeming to fade away into nothingness. "But I managed to escape." He growled at being forced to run, but he'd been barely more than smoke and vapor by that point.

Now, over a year later, he had finally recovered enough to tempt another unscrupulous Wizard into helping him. He'd had to body hop among vermin and snakes over and over again to regain his strength and Magic. This Wizard hadn't been anything impressive in the slightest, probably a barely graduate of one of the Wizarding schools, or perhaps even a dropout, but that had suited Voldemort all the better in his weakened state. It had let him do a full possession of the man and now he had a body that he could work with…at least for a while before it fell apart from the possession. He could hold that off for a time with food and potions, but it was practically 'dead' the moment that Voldemort took over. It was a countdown that Voldemort hated, feeling as if a sword was poised over his neck that drew closer every minute, but he still needed to recover more.

"There are people to contact and plans to be made." Voldemort let out a hiss, the dual voice would fade away soon as he 'settled' into this body. So, until that happened, he pulled the Wizard's wand from the pocket of his cloak. "It's time to acquire what I need for right now." Robbery was nothing new to Voldemort after all. Potions, food, water, and money for his trip back to Britain. He couldn't use much Magic in this state, and he didn't want to draw any attention to himself anyway, so he'd make the trip back in the shadows, taking whatever he needed from whoever crossed his path. "Just you wait, Dumbledore..." The dark hissing growl that escaped the man's mouth wasn't human. His rage and hatred for his old Professor aside, he still knew just who he needed to eliminate to secure his place as the Greatest Wizard to ever live. "Harry Potter…"

Despite seeing what the boy could do through Quirrel's eyes, he would never admit that the young boy was far stronger than he'd been at the same age. But what could be expected from the one prophesized to defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort? There were many things that could be done to deal with the boy. But the twisted part of Voldemort, the side-effect of performing so many Dark Rituals and mutilating his soul repeatedly with his Horcruxes, wanted to end the boy himself, by his own hands.

"Ending him will make all understand that Lord Voldemort is truly the Greatest Wizard. They will learn to fall in line or die!" The Dark Lord gathered up what was of value and use within the shack before he opened the only door. "This time…there will be no prophecy to save them…and no mother to die for you, Harry Potter!" With a flutter of the simple traveling cloak, the door was closed and the Dark Lord vanished into the blackness of the night, heading back to his homeland.

-End Chapter-

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Harry is teaching the girls well enough, so far. Guiding them to answers when they need help, and encouraging them on their own paths to exploring Magic. All of them have taken their first steps on the path of 'simplicity' and now have to realize their own Interpretation of Magic.

Maybe then someone will finally figure out their own 'right question'? lol

Daphne wants to be a Healer after her experience with the Blood Malediction and Harry saving her and her family!

Neville is growing a potentially dangerous and exotic Magical Tree for a specific purpose. I think WE all know what it is, but Harry isn't one to pry into another's personal life without good reason.

And, of course, Voldemort can't just stay dead like everyone wants him to!

The Dark Lord has possessed another Wizard, much like he did to Quirrel in First Year. He's still greatly weakened, but he can act independently this time, meaning that he can set his own plans into motion!

How long before the two prophesized enemies meet again?

Keep reading to find out!

Until I get your reviews, later!