Warnings and Disclaimers: Warnings for story necromancy and hooky corrupted Latin phrases.
Professor McGonagall brought Harry his class schedule the next morning, just as he was finishing up the breakfast tray Madam Pomfrey had set in front of him earlier with a stern admonition to eat it all. Apparently Harry was just a little too thin to suit the mediwitch.
"Good morning, Mr. Potter," the professor greeted him with a friendly nod, taking a seat by his bedside. "I trust you are feeling better?"
Harry set his fork down on the empty plate. "Yes, ma'am," he answered quietly. "I'm sorry if I was a bother yesterday-"
She snorted, startling him into a little jump of surprise. "Don't be ridiculous, Mr. Potter. What happened wasn't your fault. We should have expected something of the sort, this being the first time you've been truly visible in the wizarding world since you defeated You-Know-Who. We never did catch all of his followers."
The boy shivered, staring down at his plate. Last night was finally starting to sink in. He'd nearly died. Heck, according to Madam Pomfrey he had died, temporarily. And someone had actually tried, wanted to kill him…
And if he was reading his professor's words right, they would probably try again.
"Now then," Professor McGonagall said matter-of-factly, bringing him out of his musings with a jerk. She handed him a slip of paper that he took with a mute nod of thanks, and then reached into her pocket. "I took the liberty of obtaining the books you'll need today, as well as some clothing, since you will not have time to visit Gryffindor Tower if you intend to make all your classes on time."
Harry blinked at her as she enlarged the bag in her hand with a tap of her wand. "I- thank you, ma'am," he said after a moment. "I'd, um, better get changed, then."
Unnoticed in the doorway until she coughed, surprising both of them, Madam Pomfrey gestured towards the back of the Hospital Wing. "There's a bathroom you can use back there," she told him. "Don't forget to wash up a bit. And for Merlin's sake, comb your hair!"
Blushing, Harry pulled his clothes from the bag and nearly ran for the bathroom.
When he came back out, Professor McGonagall was still waiting. The boy set his stale clothes (cleaned by magic after his unwilling dump into the lake) on the bed and gave her a questioning look. "I will escort you to your first class," she answered. "And a prefect will be waiting for you when it finishes to escort you to the next."
Harry stared at her, astonished, and her face took on a grim cast. "I'm afraid that until whoever attacked you is caught, you mustn't go anywhere alone, even here in the castle. Your unknown assailant has proven quite handily that he, or she, can reach you even in Hogwarts' halls."
"Oh," Harry said quietly, suddenly very sorry he'd even indirectly asked.
Filius Flitwick looked up as he heard a brusque knock on his classroom door, and then took a glance at the clock. How odd… Normally the students didn't show up nearly this early. And this was a first-year class, to boot! He imagined most of them wouldn't stop getting lost on their way around the castle for another week or so.
Sighing as the knock was repeated, the little professor jumped down off his chair, eschewing the steps that led up to it. "Come in, come in, already!" he called out, pushing his spectacles further up on his nose. Really, it wasn't like the door was locked or anything…
To his surprise, it was Minerva who opened the door, standing straight and stern in her deep blue robes. "Good morning, Filius," she said with a nod before he could even open his mouth. "I'm just here to deliver Mr. Potter. You recall the meeting last night?"
Filius nodded as he peered at the shadow hovering nearly hidden behind her robes, comprehension dawning in the wake of her words. Oh, yes, he remembered the meeting. Albus had called it to order after the Welcoming Feast, informing all the teachers of the day's events, and together they'd decided what to do about the security of the Boy-Who-Lived. Amelia Bones, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, had attended, and offered a squad of Aurors to patrol the school, but the Headmaster had refused, saying he didn't want to disrupt the school any more than necessary.
Oddly enough, it was Severus and Minerva who had banded together to protest this, insisting that someone needed to keep a closer eye on the boy, though Severus had done so with a deep sneer etched into his features. After more than an hour of arguing and suggesting mostly implausible solutions, they'd hit upon this plan as the only acceptable compromise. "I'm to expect young Sullivan to pick him up, then?"
The Head of Gryffindor nodded. "And you're not to let him go until Mr. Sullivan arrives," she reminded him, rather unnecessarily. She turned her head to look at her student, gesturing him forward into the light.
Potter was shorter than Filius had expected him to be, very nearly equal to his own height. He looked rather skinny as well, though it was hard to tell through the afghan wrapped around his shoulders. "Are you all right, lad?" the Charms professor asked, eyeing the wrap curiously.
Startlingly green eyes flicked up to blinked owlishly at him. "I- yes, sir. It's just… cold."
"Ah, I see." Filius completely understood. He, too, often found the castle too chilly for his liking. "Thank you, Minerva, but I think we can handle things from here," he told his colleague, knowing she was itching to get to her classroom and get things ready for her first class of the day.
Minerva nodded with a thin smile of appreciation. "I suppose so. Have a good day, Mr. Potter," she said, turning to leave. "Do try to keep breathing, and I'll see you in class tomorrow."
The boy watched her go out, suddenly looking very lost, and Filius felt a surge of sympathy for the obviously shy boy. He really wasn't at all like the professor had expected such a famous person to be… "Well then, Mr. Potter, why don't you take a seat?" he suggested, waving towards the rows of desks. "It will be a few minutes until the rest of your fellow students show up. And since you seem to have the same dislike for the cold that I do, why don't I start showing you the Warming Charm? It's a little advanced, but it really does make life easier in this drafty place."
Potter seemed to relax a little at Filius' warm, encouraging smile, and took a cautious seat in the seat nearest the door. "…Alright," he agreed, pulling out his wand.
The professor beamed happily. "First, as with any charm, you must learn the proper motion. For this particular spell, it's a short, stabbing motion, not unlike as though you were pointing at it with your finger. Then, you keep your wand pointed until the object you're casting on reaches the temperature you want. Well?" he asked as the boy made no move.
"Oh." Potter glanced around for something to aim at, finally choosing one of the extra course books Filius always kept around just in case, and which was currently lying on his desk. He jabbed with his wand in its direction as the little professor watched.
"You've nearly got it, lad, but not quite so much jab, if you please. Too much force, and you're liable to set whatever you're aimed at on fire rather than just warm it up," Filius commented, remembering some of the classes of the previous years. He'd lost track of how many times he'd had to go to Poppy for Hair Regrower over the decades he'd been teaching at Hogwarts.
"Oh," the boy said again, looking abashed. He motioned with his wand again, this time getting the move close enough to perfect as to make no-nevermind until he could get in some real practice.
"Excellent!" Filius praised, clapping his hands with delight. He remembered Lily Evans from when she'd attended the school, and from a few occasions after she graduated. He might have had students more gifted at Charms than the dedicated redhead, but they were few and far between indeed. If her son had even half her talent, as he seemed to, then it would be a delight to teach him. "Now then. The incantation to the Warming Charm is Fervacio Crescum, with the emphasis on the 'va' and the 'cres'. Say it with me."
Together, they repeated the incantation a dozen times or so, until the professor nodded in satisfaction. "That should do. We should still have a little time, so why don't you try it for real?" He brought the book over to Potter's desk and laid a careful finger on its corner.
The boy took a deep breath and stabbed with his wand, saying the incantation at the same time. Filius continued to test the book's temperature for another few seconds or so, before he realized nothing had happened. "How peculiar," he said, frowning in puzzlement. "Even if you cast that wrongly, there should have been some reaction…"
Potter was frowning as well, though at his wand rather than the empty air. "That… felt weird," he said hesitantly.
Potter started inspecting the wand, turning it over and over in his fingers as though he expected to find a scratch in the wood. "It felt… dead. Like I was just waving a regular stick. It didn't feel that way at all at Ollivanders."
Filius frowned again. That truly was strange. And worrying. To have a wand suddenly go dead couldn't be a good thing. "Perhaps if you gave it a wave?" he suggested.
The boy obeyed, waving the wand through the air a couple of times. On the first pass, nothing happened, but on the second there was a sudden burst of white and gold sparks that vanished before hitting the ground. "Ah! There, you see? Nothing to worry about," the professor said brightly, before noticing the frown hadn't left his student's face. "Now what is it?"
"At Ollivanders, the sparks were red and gold," Potter answered quietly, as at last other students began to trickle in, in ones and twos.
Forced to deal with the new arrivals, Filius pushed the puzzle to the back of his mind to be pondered later. After all, the boy's wand was working now.
How important could it be?
A/N: Wow. That came out amazingly easy, considering I haven't worked on this story since… October of 2005. Not quite a year. Though part of that ease might have been the two hours or so I spent brainstorming on this with my heart-sister tonight… And may I mention how truly a pain it is to figure out a class schedule from JKR's rare hints?
Error fixed: Thanks to Kittyhawk and Tati1 for catching that. I really need to stop late-night writing...
Hugs to all the people who were still looking out for an update on this thing.
4 September 2006