A/N: In reference to Harry's discussion with Hermione over the German language, I am well aware of the fact that English is incredibly difficult to learn, and this is one of the reasons I have been given for that. I am not sure, however, if that example is specific to German, or if it pertains to the language at all. I also find I don't care. Even if I am proven wrong, I'm not going to change it. Terribly sorry.
I do know, however, that German and English are derived from the same Proto-Language, and thus their more basic words are typically cognates – the first few numbers, things pertaining to the family or early farm life. Adjectives, though, are tricky things in any language, and English has a myriad of the little buggers, thanks in part to Shakespeare.
In case you haven't noticed, the titles of the chapters are all names that someone calls Harry in that chapter. It's not really relevant except to give me some idea what sort of thing to include. If anyone has suggestions, please don't hesitate to tell me in a review. I don't need any help with Snape, though, I'm finding it surprisingly easy to write him relatively in character. He's such a wonderfully snarky git.
While I've (hopefully) got the attention of a few of you, I'd like to note that this truly is an AU. Overall, many events in the books will occur exactly the same in my (potential) series. The order might be shifted slightly, but the perspective, dialogue, character placement, and general character development will probably possess the major changes.
Also, this chapter might be a little shorter than the rest because I want to put Double Potions in a separate one, though "Baby Griffins" corresponds to "The Potions Master" in book one. Furthermore, I drew up a rough class schedule (took about four tries) using some inferences from the book, and described the classes as similarly as possible to JKR while using my own words and keeping Harry in my fanon characterization.
Not that anyone but my beta probably read this, but: Enjoy.
"Better get used to earlier days, baby griffins," an older Gryffindor girl chided the first years, who were yawning and stretching on their way to the Great Hall. Harry had woken up at dawn to go exploring, and was just returning as everyone else was leaving.
"Harry, mate, what were you doin' outside?" Ron asked, befuddled by sleep.
"Didn't want to be caught lost in a place this big," Harry explained. "Goodness, but this is a large castle. I think I figured out a shortcut to the Great Hall, though."
Neville and Ron both seemed to think that finding their own way to breakfast would be a daunting task, and agreed to come along.
He had indeed found a shortcut, and the sixth year who had called him a baby griffin was quite surprised that he had arrived before her. Breakfast was also too heavy for his liking, though he did enjoy most of the pastries – even if they were filled with sugar. Professor McGonagall passed out schedules to the Gryffindors.
"Ugh, double Potions with Slytherins," moaned Ron. "They'll be dreadful. And Potions is taught by Snape, I've heard all about him from my brothers. Just like that greasy git to teach a slimy subject."
Harry frowned. "The books he assigned were quite interesting, I thought, though the German translation left something to be desired, even if there was less esoteric jargon. I'll never understand the English need for more synonyms than one has true use for."
"I don't think I'll dignify that remark with a retort," Hermione informed him. "But clearly you've not read Shakespeare."
"Who?" Ron asked cluelessly. Both Harry and Hermione rolled their eyes.
"I must point out that you have dignified my remark with a retort by orally refusing to do so. Naturally I've read the Bard, and I do enjoy his works. But it's daft to have so many words for the same condition, even nuances of that condition. And that's not including the phrases which mean the same thing, and words borrowed from other languages which also mean the same thing. Much less plants, animals, and minerals with five English names, discounting the names in other languages."
Hermione scowled further.
"What I meant was that, in German, there are only so many words to define each condition, so you aren't perpetually looking things up."(1)
The Muggle-Born witch seemed to consider this, but Harry's attention had already turned back to his schedule. Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, History of Magic, and Astronomy all sounded like interesting enough classes. Ron was positively bemoaning finishing the week off with Double Potions with the Slytherins, however.
His schedule came out something like this –
Monday: Herbology and History of Magic
Tuesday: Charms and Herbology
Wednesday: Charms and Herbology, with Astronomy at midnight
Thursday: Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts
Friday: Double Potions, with the afternoon off.
Herbology was taught in the greenhouses behind the school, and the dumpy little Professor Sprout was quite kindly to them. Harry, having lived in an undeveloped forest for as long as he could remember, won more points for Gryffindor in that class than the other first-year students' combined points for the rest of the day.
After lunch, the first years dragged themselves to History of Magic – Harry and Ron had already heard of the legendary boredom in store for them. Binns was a geriatric ghost, who had died in his sleep during the early nineteen hundreds, and never seemed to realize that he was no longer corporeal, preferring to simply continue teaching the same boring syllabi. Harry's already notoriously bad attention span barely let him listen for two minutes about Uric the Oddball before he completely zoned out.
Professor Flitwick, a tiny little fellow Harry thought might be half-goblin, toppled over when he read Harry's name on the register, squeaking excitedly. His starting lecture was highly animated and enthusiastic, making all the first years smile.
Wednesday at midnight, everyone trudged up to the astronomy tower to peer through their telescopes and memorize planet names and movements, and so forth. Harry was keenly interested in that class, as the night sky was a highly favored way for elves to divine the future, alongside casting and elemental scrying. He paid particular attention to the English names of the few constellations that he had learned the German names for.
Thursday started out with Professor McGonagall, the severe-looking Transfiguration teacher. As strict as she was clever, her class began with a speech filled in warnings that Harry wasn't sure he could accurately describe as a lecture. Mostly she scared them off horseplay in her presence before turning her desk into a pig and back in mere seconds.
Harry could perform complex transfigurations through elf-mage-craft with ease, but with a focusing tool, his power acted differently. Instead of a broad flow that accomplished several things at once, he had a thin stream of magic he needed to apply to each detail one at a time. It took him a few tries to master the technique, since he was working largely with advanced magical theory and trying to temporarily forget everything he'd ever learned about magic at the age of eleven, but he felt highly accomplished when Professor McGonagall showed off his needle along with Hermione Granger's. Hers was silver and pointy, but his (duller and looking like dirty silver, with its lackluster sheen) had the added detail of a small, slim loop for thread, though it still clattered like wood instead of ringing like silver, as Hermione's did.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was the latter Thursday class, and turned out to be something of a joke. The room reeked of garlic (allegedly to ward off a Romanian vampire Quirrel had crossed), the teacher made sideways mention of brave deeds but never went into explicit detail, and as for Professor Quirrel's manner of dress, the Weasley twins insisted that its own lingering stench of garlic was meant to protect Quirrel wherever he went.
On Friday morning, a veritable flock of doves arrived, easily dodging the hungry-looking owls, and neatly stacking his mail. Seventeen letters, he counted with a grin, all written in German so he wouldn't feel too inundated by British wizarding culture. He pulled the first off the stack, from Helmuth.
The older elf-prince congratulated him on being Sorted into Tigerlilie's House, and asked if he liked his room. Harry reminded himself to thank his brother.
His grandparents sent a lengthy epistle detailing the latest whimsy of the marvelous Maud, who was fully acknowledging her desire to "court" Gerard, and had gone about it in a rather noisy and explosive way, as was her wont. They mentioned that the humans of Avon had not turned a greedy eye to their woods again recently, and they weren't expecting any more infringement on their privacy in the near future.
The King and Queen formally requested the right of visitation to their Grandson and Heir on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox of Headmaster Albus Wulfric Pervival Dumbledore. Harry figured this to be the translated statement they requested of Dumbledore, who had a dove perched on his pumpkin juice.
Maud sent him a letter also, briefly outlining her plan to woo Gerard and asking for suggestions and Princely Support. He had both, and would tell her as much in his reply, hopefully with consultation from the Weasley twins.
As for the Commander of the Guard himself, Gerard's letter was longer than Maud's, but still fairly brief.
I know you're probably busy with your schoolwork already, and I hope Hogwarts is treating you well. Most of all, I hope you are safe, and wish I could be there to reassure myself of that fact.
Your sister is driving me mental, however. I take back what I said – she is a harpy, no doubt about it. I'm unsure how I feel about her reflexive use of 'craft when she's in trouble, considering the way Rogue Elves love to bind us in cold iron and laugh when we nearly kill ourselves trying to magic out. That's not the only time 'craft does more harm than help. Parts of the world are magically null, and using magic there once will drain your reserves to nothing. Twice could kill you.
Sometimes, though, magic is the only answer, and I appreciate that. I just wish Maud wouldn't rub it in my face whenever that was true. If I didn't like her, she wouldn't be my second in command – hell, she wouldn't even be in the Guard. I'd like to think I'm not biased, but it's the truth.
You, at least, are subtle in your use of magic. I always enjoyed your outlook on instant transportation – I remember when you were just a toddler, and disappeared from the palace when we were trying to get you in a bath, and reappeared about five kilometers off. It took ages to find you because you wouldn't make a sound teleporting, and you always had sharp hearing for a Halfling. Of course Their Majesties only asked why you had not chosen to have a noise accompany your entrance and exit, you replied it did not befit a prince to bang or pop or boom or poof like the rest of the royal family does. It was not regal or terribly practical, you said, to announce one's presence with a singular, loud noise and draw attention to oneself.
Even at the tender age of two, you were thinking about court intrigue and practicalities and proprieties. Even the ever-severe Jägar, or Johann didn't become so princely until four or five. I wonder if you grew up too fast because you were the crown's last chance for an heir, or if it was due to Tigerlilie's death.
In any case, your sister is mad as a hatter, and something must be done. By the way, I'll be accompanying your grandparents to the school, as will Jägar. The meeting with Dumbledore will be deathly boring, and I'll probably end up talking to our little house-dwelling-cousins about your security. If there are any potential openings on the staff, I might plant one of my guards. Of course I'd rather come myself, but the rest of the family needs protecting too.
Harry smiled to himself. "That's Gerard," he muttered aloud. "Overprotective, as usual."
Don't forget your manners around your grandparents. They'll be disguised as older for their attendance of the "Halloween" feast, but no amount of disguise will stop your Oma from bending you over her knee in the middle of the dining hall. Don't give her any reason to; I doubt she wants to embarrass you like that any more than you want to be embarrassed. Don't swear, use the wrong fork, forget to smile politely, bow, whatever.
It's possible they will be announced as themselves or someone equally royal, and not as relatives of yours. It depends on the status of the school's security, and whether or not all involved are comfortable with the arrangement.
Be careful until then, eh, Henrik?
Capt. of the Royal Guard
P.S. I sent a Taube or four of Johann's with a gift for you. It will arrive later; Helmuth tells me that this will arrive in the morning, and I don't want everyone to see. Open it in the privacy of your room, I don't think they're entirely permitted, but I figured you could probably use some of it if in the little predicament presented by cold iron. Carrying them everywhere concealed would likely be a good idea.
Now that's just paranoia, frowned Harry. Wonder if it's daggers, throwing knives, or lock-picks?
"That's a pretty long letter, mate. My mum just tells me to shower regularly and that rot."
Harry smiled amusedly at Ron.
"Who's it from, anyway?"
"A kind of…uncle. A very dear friend of the family, at least."
"You've got an odd family. Your aunts are sisters, uncles are brothers, and people with no blood relation are uncles?"
Harry snorted. "Wait until you meet my grandparents. Actually, until you meet any of my family."
"Yeah, well, I guess I haven't much to talk about, what with five wizard brothers and a little sister with such a mean hand for hexes. Gets it from Mum's side, my uncles were Fabian and Gideon Prewett – Aurors in the last war. Mum was never the same after they died, Dad says, named Fred n' George after 'em…sorta."
Noting it was getting late, Harry put away the unopened letters to read later, and folded and secreted away Gerard's and his family mail. He started on his way to the dungeons, leaving Ron to finish his meal.
On his way, he mulled over how deeply he was dreading this class. Professor Snape had given him a glare of pure dislike, which was something only that Muggle-Mortal businessman had ever done before. Harry was mentally and emotionally prepared for every political and social unkindness, but the inherently unjust relationship between teacher and pupil would require all his tender balance and a well-maintained wall of faultless brilliance and politeness.
Furthermore, he planned to sit as far away from Draco Malfoy and his cronies as possible. The boy was highly unpleasant for someone supposedly brought up in proper wizarding society, and Harry found Ron's rude table manners and tactless blunt honesty preferable to smirks, sneers, and backstabbing bad faith.
As for Dumb and Dumber, the two mountains of muscle had just enough grey matter to coordinate motion, breathe, eat, sleep, and grunt. Anything beyond that was subsequently beyond them. Not the type Harry would associate with, even as bodyguards or lackeys. Of course, he'd never had need for lackeys, and had always had professional bodyguards – such as Gerard.
And no one, in Harry's mind, could hope to compare to Gerard.
He looked at his watch and scowled at the realization that he had gotten all the way to the class's door while his mind had wandered. He had meant to dawdled a bit and come in five minutes till class, but he was more than a quarter of an hour early for the bell. "Nothing else for it," he muttered, opening the door and choosing a seat to the opposite of the door but near the front. By now, Harry understood the layout of the typical Hogwarts classroom and the impression given by each seat.
Close to the door: wants to be out of there as soon as possible.
Back of the class: goof off.
Right in front of the teacher's desk: used to being an intellectual favorite, regards teachers as equal; know-it-all. (Hermione frequently chose those seats.)
Just adjacent to the know-it-all: teacher's pet, eager to do errands and skip class or lord the status over friends and rivals.
By the walls: sleeper.
Center: moderate, able to be molded into the category of "learner" if the student isn't there already.
But Harry's seat would present the perfect impression: wants to be able to hear, but not be singled out for attention. It wasn't close to a wall, so he couldn't lean against one to doze off, and he was near to what he assumed was the supply closet, and thus, always pleased to brew.
While he meditated on this, he brushed up on his Magical Herbs and Fungi, taking a few notes on parchment, including a reminder to write his family and Gerard (written in German.)
He didn't even realize he'd been reading the German copy, or that everyone had filed into the room, until a wand pricked the spine of his book.
"You will read, write, and speak only in English in my class."
"Yes, sir," Harry replied neutrally. He switched the book for his English copy and lightly placed it on his desk, getting fresh parchment.
(1) My beta tells me this is wrong. Apparently, German has just as many synonyms and similarly defined words. Shrug Getting rid of it spoils some character development, and I'm too lazy to rework it to argue about something else.