((A/N: My apologies to everyone for the length of time it took for this chapter to come out.
For those who wish to know, the majority of the problem is that I changed my writing process with this story. The new process, obviously, did not hold for very long before I collapsed under it. Let that be a lesson to all other writers: If you find a process that works well for you, don't change it on a major story. If you want to change your writing process, try on a small to medium sized story to make sure the new process really works for you.
So, the result is that I need to try to change back to my normal process. What that means to you, this story will probably always be slow to update. I'm sorry, but that seems to be the way it's working out. Fortunately, chapter 4 is already on its way, so it shouldn't take as long.
Unfortunately for me, I've had trouble communicating with one of my original betas, but hopefully, the story will stay fairly consistent in quality.
From last time:
1996-02-24: Lily decides Harry is mostly ready to come back. Things in England are getting bad enough it's time for Harry to return.
03-10: Lily tells Sirius, Remus, and Zoe (Sirius's wife) that she wants Harry to return to take his OWLs and then start school next year. Lily has Sirius talk to Dumbledore about conditions for Harry to return.
03-24: Lily finds out that Dumbledore agrees and they make plans.
06-05: Lily and Harry return to England, staying at Sirius's house on Grimmauld Place, where Harry meets his "honorary family". He also meets Alice & Frank Longbottom, finds out that Alice is his godmother, and the group goes to the Ministry and replaces the prophecy orb with a fake one so Voldemort can not get that information.
06-06: They set things up to stay there for the summer, and Harry beats Sirius in a duel.
06-07: Harry duels both Sirius and Remus, winning one and losing one.
Chapter 3: Prelude to War (Part 2)
(Sun, Jun 9)
Harry considered his new clothes as he packed the last of them in his new two compartment trunk. The English fashions were a little strange, but not too bad. He would not have chosen them, but his mother had asked him to wear the "local labels" as it were. While they had been careful to bring only their more "western" looking clothes, his mother still thought that was not good enough and had insisted upon new clothes. The rest of the week had been spent taking care of little details along with last minute revising for his OWLs and his regular training.
He enjoyed getting to know his two uncles and Aunt Zoe, but especially his uncles. The two men had jumped at the chance to help him with his fighting skills. Uncle Sirius had been the biggest surprise. After he had become -- well, more serious, Harry thought with a grin -- the man showed a well-above average skill as a dueler. Of course, Harry did not duel; he fought, which gave him an advantage over the man. Remus's actions showed an understanding of the distinction and gave Harry more trouble in practice. Harry had no doubt that Sirius would catch on soon.
Still, having new opponents gave Harry a new appreciation for how important his mother's training had been. Yet, they offered more than that. After each practice session, the two men would regale Harry with stories about his father, at least when his mother was not around. His mother's stories of his father were about the man she loved, and his uncles painted a picture of a very different personality. The mischievous nature and carefree attitude of a school-age James Potter began to take shape beside the roguish Sirius and reserved Remus. They were quite the characters, and Harry was happy to hear stories about his father first-hand.
Closing his trunk, Harry took it down to the living room. His mother was waiting for him with her trunk. His uncles and aunt were gathered behind Lily, talking softly as they waited to send Lily and Harry off. Harry had already given his good-bye to little James, who was now in bed.
Remus stepped forward and put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Harry, I've really enjoyed our time together this week. I can tell you've studied hard when we've talked. Stay calm and do your best on the exams. Don't stress out; they aren't as bad as everyone makes them out to be."
Lily glared at him. "Remus!"
"Oh hush, Lily. He has studied hard. There's really nothing more he can do now other than taking the exams and showing everyone how brilliant he is." The werewolf squeezed Harry's shoulder and gave him a slightly lopsided smile of encouragement.
"Thank you, Moony."
"Harry, lad," Sirius said, shouldering Remus aside with a playful push. "I know you'll do well, just like your dad did. You go and show 'em how good a Potter is, even if you aren't representing yourself as one."
"Sirius, enough," Lily said. "You know we're trying to hide him as long as possible."
Harry looked away and rolled his eyes. Why did they make this so much more difficult than it really was? He turned to his aunt, hoping for a little bit of sanity.
"Just do your best, Harry, and we'll all be proud of you," Zoe said, and Harry smiled. Aunt Zoe really was the calm in the Marauders' storm.
"Thank you, Aunt Zoe," he said.
"Now, don't forget," his mother reminded him, "everywhere you have to write your name for the tests and to all the teachers, you are Charles Evans." She pulled out her wand. "I can't believe I almost forgot this." She waved her wand and tapped it on his head. "There, you're now a redhead." She applied one other spell, too.
Harry turned and looked in a mirror on the wall, and sure enough, the top of his head and his eyebrows were now a dark red like his mothers'. Looking down, he noticed that even the fine hair on his arms had changed. In addition, all of his facial features looked rounder, including the shape of his head. Although each change was small, all of them together made him look quite different.
"I'll need to reapply that nightly, but that should do it for us," she told him smugly. "Oh, and always, always keep your Occlumency shield up as tightly as possible when in the presence of Albus Dumbledore. Or Severus Snape should you accidentally run into him. Neither one of them will hesitate to use Legilimency on you if they think it will be to their benefit."
"Even the Headmaster? He's supposed to be the good guy."
"He is, most of the time," Lily said. "But he will also bend the rules if he thinks it will serve the greater good. And, like everyone else, he has his own agenda. Never forget that, Charles. Everyone has an agenda, and theirs may conflict with ours."
He solemnly nodded and wondered if his mother's agenda conflicted with his, but he purposefully did not pursue that line of thinking at this time.
"Well, we're off," Lily said. "We'll see everyone in a little less than three weeks, and maybe even on the weekend. I'm not sure how the schedule will work out at the moment." The other three adults said their last good-byes.
"Charles, the destination is 'Hogwarts, Headmaster's Office'." She shrunk down both of their trunks, which they then stowed into their pockets. Leading Harry to the fireplace, she grabbed a large pinch of Floo Powder from the canister on the shelf and threw it in, calling out the destination and vanishing into the green flames a second later.
Harry took a deep breath, threw a pinch of Floor Powder and, in a clear voice, called out the same destination. Taking a deep breath to avoid the fine soot in the air, he stepped into the flames and started spinning through the network. He had used the Floo Network only a few times before, and he was not overly fond of it. Many fireplaces later, he was spit out into a large, circular, stone room that was filled with the most eclectic collection of bric-a-brac he had ever seen.
Dozens of portraits hung on the wall, their occupants sleeping, although Harry thought he caught one or two looking at him as he glanced about. Numerous bookcases sat against the walls, and a closed wardrobe was pushed into a back corner. A single, circular staircase twined upwards to a second floor. In the center of the room, near a large ornate desk covered with bizarre instruments, piles of parchment, and several open tomes, an elderly wizard stood waiting patiently, his long white beard falling down to his waistline. His blue eyes were easily visible, despite being behind half moon glasses which were perched precariously on a slightly crooked nose.
His rich purple robes were trimmed with silver and embroidered with stars and moons that shimmered in the candlelight. Although Harry had seen pictures of Albus Dumbledore, seeing him for the first time was not unsettling, but, perhaps, informative. This was a powerful and knowledgeable man.
"Lily!" the Headmaster said, opening his arms wide. Harry turned to see his mother walk over and give Dumbledore a quick loose hug, as he had seen her do before to people whom she had to hug but did not really want to. She beckoned him over.
"Albus, I'd like you to meet my son, Charles Evans."
Harry took the few steps over and held out his hand to the Headmaster. Dumbledore took his hand and firmly shook it.
"Mr Evans. Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My name is Albus Dumbledore, and I'm very happy to meet you -- very happy indeed."
"Headmaster," Harry intoned and nodded politely as he shook hands. Letting go, he turned towards his mother, who had sat on the couch furthest from the desk. He mentally smirked at that. It was so like her to try to control the situation. He noticed the sparkle in the old wizard's eyes, or maybe twinkle was the better word, as Dumbledore watched Lily sit away from his desk.
Taking a closer look at the room as he walked, a metal stand with a beautiful bird on it captured Harry's attention. The bird was the size of a goose and had brilliant gold and red feathers and black eyes. "A phoenix!" Harry exclaimed as he took the few steps to the bird's stand and held out his hand. The phoenix titled its head and then blinked and bumped Harry's hand. He gently stroked the bird on the side of the head, and it responded with a short trill. For a moment all the tension drained away from Harry and he felt as if everything were right in the world. A smile graced his lips as the phoenix rubbed his head against Harry's finger.
Professor Dumbledore chuckled. "Congratulations, Mr Evans. Fawkes likes you -- most unusual. He is usually quite reserved."
After a few more strokes of the soft feathers, Harry spoke to the bird in a soft croon, "You're a special one, and I hope I get to see you again." The bird gave one another short trill, which Harry took for agreement. With a smile, he turned and quickly walked over to sit next his mother.
Harry watched the old wizard fiddle with his tea set as he sat in a big leather chair. The Headmaster served the three of them.
"Lily, after I got over my shock -- and the certainty that young Sirius was trying to play a particularly cruel joke on me -- I was very glad to hear that you and young, uh, Mr Evans were still alive. But Sirius would not tell me why you waited so long to announce your good fortune or to return to England." He sat calmly, the perfect example of a grandfather figure, but Harry was not fooled. The question was quite pointed.
He watched his mother take a sip of her tea, quietly evaluating the situation he was sure. "You know as well as I do that Voldemort did not completely die that night. It was obvious from the Prophecy. Charles's safety was paramount, and I did the only thing I could."
For a minute, the Headmaster stared at her while he sipped his tea. "Lily, you had friends here. We would have helped you."
"I'm sorry, Albus, but in the crisis of the moment, I wasn't quite sure who was a friend and who wasn't. Surely you can see that. Look what happened with Frank and Alice. If they hadn't been out of the house that night, not even a month after we were attacked, well, who's to say how bad it might have been for them."
Dumbledore reached down and casually picked up a ginger biscuit. "Actually, that's a very good example. When Death Eaters came for them, we in the Order rallied around them and captured the four attackers. We would have done the same for you."
"You're purposefully overlooking my point, Albus. Death Eaters came for them even though Voldemort was bereft of a body. It was not safe here, even a month later. I was not going to take any more chances with Charles. We had already been attacked, and James had been killed!
"Look at what happened with Neville Longbottom at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Did you keep him safe then? Did you train him to deal with situations such as that?" When the Headmaster did not immediately respond, she waved it away with a gesture. "Besides, it's all water under the bridge, and no one can change what I've done."
The old wizard put his half eaten biscuit on his plate and took a sip of tea. This was like a chess match to Harry, each player carefully evaluating the other and making very calculated moves. What was unclear was whether Dumbledore was trying to make an impression on his mother, on Harry himself, or to simply make a statement -- or, perhaps, all three. Or maybe, Harry thought, taking a sip of his tea, the Headmaster was only interested in the few fragments of information each question uncovered.
"As you say, we cannot change the past. However, Charles has finally returned to England. Charles? Are you ready to take your OWLs?"
"Yes, sir." The fewer words the better, Harry thought, at least until he understood more about the Headmaster personally. As his mother had often warned him, others' eyes and observations are useful, but only his own were to be trusted.
"And which subjects would you like to be examined in?" The Headmaster's bright blue eyes held Harry's gaze, but, surprisingly, he felt no mental probe. That was odd, especially after all the repeated warnings he had received. But then, the Headmaster did have a full school year ahead of him to make his move.
"All of them, sir."
The Headmaster sat ever-so-slightly more upright. "All twelve?"
"Yes, sir. I've been instructed in all the subjects here, plus some others you do not teach." He was not sure why the Headmaster was so surprised; he knew what Harry had to do. Or at least Harry thought the Headmaster would know.
"Well, I expect it shall be most enlightening to see how well you perform." Dumbledore finished off his biscuit.
"I can only do my best, sir. The only question I have is what I'll be able to learn here in my last two years that I don't already know." Harry knew that sounded boastful, but it was his sole burning question aside from how to kill Tom Riddle. Although he trusted his mother's judgment, he could not remove the niggling doubt in his mind that Hogwarts would be a waste of time.
Lily nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, Albus, let's discuss the exams and his classes before we start everything tomorrow. There will be no problems with Charles using his alias to take the exams, correct?"
The Headmaster nodded. "Professor Marchbanks understands that there are special circumstances involved, and as a favor to me, she is allowing Mr Evans to use an alias as well as to sit the examinations privately during the evening."
"Thank you," Lily said with a slight nod.
"I believe that will protect Mr Evans's identity until late August. At that time, I will have to give his name to the Board of Governors to admit him since he is, in essence, a transfer student," Albus said.
"But…" Lily's brow furrowed in confusion. "But Charles should have had an invitation to Hogwarts. He only delayed his entry."
"And if Charles wanted to start in his first year here, it would be as you thought. However, he is potentially starting in his sixth year, thus he must be treated as a transfer student. Oh, speaking of which…" The Headmaster pulled out his wand and silently summoned a booklet from his desk, which he handed to the young man. "The Hogwarts' Handbook for Students. You'll be expected to follow the rules therein."
Harry accepted the small book and slipped it into a pocket. "Of course, Headmaster."
His mother, still frowning, continued on. "And the rest? The private training room, the tutoring, and his need to leave school twice a week?"
"I will set aside an unused classroom near his dorm for his use. As long as Mr Evans does not abuse the privilege, it is his to use. His leaving is a bit more problematic, but if he comes to my office or to Professor McGonagall's, he can use the Floo to travel to your house. He must be back for curfew at ten, however. I can't make too much of an exception for him."
Lily nodded. "That's sounds acceptable. And the tutoring in the three subjects?"
"Do you really believe it is required, Lily? The NEWT level classes can be quite difficult," Dumbledore said.
"I have been through them, Albus, and I know Charles's abilities. He will be quite bored in the NEWT level Defense, Charms, Transfiguration, and Potions classes. And because he needs to fulfill the prophecy, he needs extra one-on-one work in the first three."
The Headmaster leaned back and crossed his legs under his robes as he thought about it. Harry wondered what the old wizard was contemplating, but his face was inscrutable.
"Have you lined up the Defense Professor for the coming year yet? I understand that Frank Longbottom is not completely sure he will return." Lily looked at him and waited.
If Dumbledore was surprised at her knowledge, he did not show it, Harry thought. In all, Dumbledore appeared to be granting the concessions requested, but always with a small catch or modification. He answered part of a question while switching the focus before answering everything completely. Harry was finding his mother's caution to be well founded.
"No, I've yet to begin to look for one, since Frank is still here and he told me that he intends to return." Dumbledore weathered Lily's demanding glare better than most, but it was apparent that even he was not totally immune to it. "Very well, Lily. I shall get Frank, or whomever the Defense teacher is, Minerva, and Filius to tutor Mr Evans in advanced topics once a week."
"Thank you, Albus. However," the old man frowned slightly at the last word, "I'd also like you to commit to tutoring Charles in Defense if the Defense teacher is, in our opinions, not competent." As the Headmaster started to answer, Lily hurried on. "And before you say otherwise, I know that two of your last five Defense teachers have not been competent and that another one was a Death Eater. Or I could say that two have disappeared before the end of the year, and you had that Ministry floozy who tortured students. Although I heard that the Death Eater who masqueraded as Mad-Eye was reasonably competent."
A forced smile snuck its way through the long beard. "You are well informed, Lily. Very well, if the Defense teacher is not competent to teach Mr Evans to fight Death Eaters, I'll take up that tutoring position. In exchange, I must ask that both you and Mr Evans agree to keep these arrangements to yourself as much as is possible."
He looked to Harry. "Mr Evans, I know that eventually some of this will be found out, for people do tend to notice things here. However, please do your utmost to hide this for as long as possible. I know that your father had a very nice cloak to hide things. I would appreciate your discretion for these extra-curricular activities."
"Yes, sir. I understand," Harry said, although he did not need the reminder. His mother had been very clear about secrecy.
"In addition to your OWLs, Mr Evans, I must also request an hour of your time before you leave. You see, I have noticed there tends to be a deplorable lack of understanding in our world about -- well, the other world. Alas, the Board of Governors forced me to change my plans slightly, but as of this year, you must take a small entrance test to determine if you shall be required to take extra classes before you finish your studies here."
"What sort of test, Albus?" Lily asked.
"Oh, dear me, I did leave out the subject, please forgive me. The first is nothing more than twenty-five questions about the Muggle world and how it works. I wanted to attempt to remove some biases, and I judged that it would be easiest to start with the children."
Lily relaxed. "That will be no problem for Charles."
"I assume you've been living in the Muggle world, then?" Lily nodded. "Then I also believe he will not have a problem. There is a companion test for the Wizarding world. The Board decided in fairness that those not growing up in our world must take a 'Wizarding Studies' class if they cannot pass the test. While I had not planned on that, I do not disagree with the idea."
"I don't believe Charles will have any problem with that, either. I've done my best to educate him on how the Wizarding world works, along with many of its traditions -- as poor as many of them are," she stated a little forcefully, trying to make her opinion obvious.
Albus smiled and went on as if he had not heard Lily. "Perhaps an hour next weekend would do?" he asked Harry.
Harry glanced at his mother, who nodded. "That would be fine, Professor."
"Very good then. Is there anything else before I show you to your rooms?" Harry recognized the polite request to end the conversation, but his mother jumped on the offer.
"Yes, actually, I do have a few more things, Albus." His easy smile tightened and then fell at Lily's question. "Besides us, who else knows about the Prophecy?"
The old wizard's smile became a little more genuine, and Harry frowned. He had been worried about something else being asked, Harry realized. "As you probably remember, Frank and Alice Longbottom were also told. I'm unaware of anyone else."
"Charles knows the full prophecy," Lily said, "and I wouldn't be surprised if Frank has told Neville."
Dumbledore's eyebrows shot up. "Are you sure that was wise, Lily? Someone may be able to force it from Mr Evans, and that would be most unfortunate for all of us."
Harry wondered idly when he would have been told the Prophecy if it had been left up to the Headmaster. Did Dumbledore think him of him as a child?
"Since Charles is the one who will have to remove Voldemort from this plane of existence, I felt it was required for him to know," Lily argued. "But don't worry, he knows Occlumency and can keep his secrets."
"Really?" Dumbledore looked surprised and doubtful. "I hope that's sufficient to the task. What other questions did you have?"
"If we can track down Voldemort, do you really know how to kill him, or will we just suffer another return later?" Lily looked and sounded deadly serious as she asked, "Do you know how to kill him for good?"
Dumbledore sighed. "You ask a most difficult question. Did he boast or say anything to you the night you were attacked? Anything about what he had done to stay alive?"
"That will make things more difficult," Dumbledore said tightly, obviously disappointed at not getting more information.
Albus paused, and Harry wondered if they were going to get anything more out of him on this subject, but then the Headmaster continued.
"One of the things I've been doing for the past year is attempting to track down Tom's history, searching for clues as to why he did not die that fateful night."
"We have done the same as best we could. I've always assumed it was some form of Necromancy, as I heard he found that branch of magic interesting, as evidenced by his love of making Inferi," Lily said quietly. No matter how much time had passed or would pass, discussing that night brought painful memories out of their dark corners. "The splitting of his soul and tying part of it to another human so as to share the damage would be the most obvious thing to do, but the material I read only gave the theory and said it would be very difficult to do."
"That would be one way, but there are other options." The Headmaster leaned forward in his chair and observed Harry and Lily. Harry waited for the Headmaster to continue, but he remained silent.
"Albus," his mother said forcefully, "you must share what you know with those who are involved or all will be lost should something happen to you."
"Now Lily," Dumbledore started to chide her.
"Albus, I'm very serious. You are being arrogant if you think you have all the knowledge needed to solve this problem. Other people may be able to help create the winning strategy," Lily argued.
Dumbledore gazed at her intently as he considered her argument. As she said nothing else, Harry assumed it was merely a gaze and not a Legilimency attack, as he had been warned about. If it was a Legilimency attack, he was sure his mother would have said something.
"Very well, Lily," he finally told her. "I can't prove my suspicions, so we must be ready to change our thinking should other evidence come along. I believe Tom took a different path to immortality than your theory. One piece of evidence I recently uncovered came from one of your old teachers, Professor Slughorn."
Albus nodded with a faint smile. "As he was one of Tom's closest teachers, almost a mentor, he seemed like a good candidate for information. I will confess that I had to do something that was beneath me, but after I got him quite drunk with my best liquor, I was able to get a memory from him in which young Tom asked about making Horcruxes."
Lily's eyes bulged as the information slowly sank in. "Horcruxes? As in plural?"
"Yes," Dumbledore said very calmly, considering the subject. "A seven part split, to be exact." He paused and looked to Harry. "Perhaps I should explain what a Horcrux is, Mr Evans."
"No need, Professor," Harry told him with confidence. "They are an inanimate container to hold part of a person's soul after it is split, usually as a side effect from a murder. The idea is that if even part of your soul is anchored to something here on earth, then the rest cannot leave either. Of course, the part which was anchored to the body that was killed may have a hard time surviving and will need help to get a new body, but the part of the soul, and its main consciousness, would be able to persist."
The old wizard raised an eyebrow. "An excellent summary, Mr Evans. Can I assume that you've read The Hidden Dark Arts by Shulorn? Your description sounds very similar to the one found there."
"Yes, sir, I've read the entire book," Harry confirmed. "It was a difficult book to find, but my mother tracked a copy down a few years ago when we started our own research on Riddle."
Dumbledore grimaced slightly, and Harry assumed the old man did not like the fact that he had access to such an explicit book on the Dark Arts.
"While that is the standard definition, I have my reservations about it."
"Oh?" Lily sat up a little straighter, her attention riveted on the old man.
"Yes. My quibble is with the description of the container. I do not believe it must be inanimate. For example, I believe that his snake, Nagini, has lived somewhat longer than it should have and seems to be a little too intelligent."
Lily said nothing and then arched an eyebrow at Harry. Harry mentally sighed. She meant for him to continue the argument. Turning to face Dumbledore, he said, "I can not agree, Headmaster. If a living body were to be used as the container, that would be a disastrous choice, as the body replenishes itself over time. As the cells of the body die off, there would be nothing to hold the entrapped soul, so it would eventually -- evaporate -- for lack of a better word. The horcrux cannot be transferred to the new cells of the body without another attachment spell."
"Well argued, Mr Evans. But not all parts of the body renew themselves. While it is very hard to locate, I do see a mark on your forehead. What is under the skin there, Mr Evans?" The Headmaster's eyes seemed to twinkle more as he made his argument.
"Besides a thin layer of muscle, are you referring to the bone of my skull? While that is long-lived, even bone is still alive, especially the center part. Bone is also easily removed. In addition, you would have the problem of two souls in one body. That should not be possible in humans, except for very short durations. I know philosophers and biologists heavily debate this, but many believe animals to have simple souls -- it's what separates them from plants. If you believe this snake to be a Horcrux, I believe it would be safer to say that a very small object was made into a Horcrux and then forced down the Snake's throat so the object is carried with it. Or if the object was small enough, I suppose it could be embedded under the snake's skin so it could not be expelled from the body." Harry was curious what the Headmaster's reply would be. This was a topic he and his mother had debated in great detail a few years ago when they were doing their own research on Voldemort or Tom Riddle.
Dumbledore held up his hand. "We shall have to track down the snake and then see what we find. It will not fully answer the 'inanimate' portion of our discussion, but it will give us better insight." Harry nodded, acknowledging the Headmaster's point.
"What do you believe about me, Professor? Do you believe I'm a Horcrux? Because by your definition I could be, given the circumstances." Harry was really curious to see what the old man said, as Dumbledore certainly did not have all the facts.
After several long seconds, Dumbledore finally said, "It is an interesting question."
Harry's mother made a noise that almost sounded like a snort. "Really, Albus. Don't beat around the bush! Answer him." Then she gave the Headmaster a cunning smile. "You might even learn something."
Dumbledore allowed one eyebrow to rise. "If you insist, Lily." Turning to face Harry, he said, "One question first, if I may. Have you exhibited proficiency in any non-mainstream branches of magic -- any at all?"
"You will keep this knowledge to yourself?" Lily asked him pointedly.
Harry looked at his mother and saw a brief nod. "I am a Parseltongue," Harry said unemotionally.
"Really?" Dumbledore drawled slightly. "Then I would believe there is a very good possibility that you are an unintentional Horcrux."
It was all Harry could do not to laugh at the statement. "Why, Headmaster?"
The Headmaster shifted slightly in his seat, as if uncomfortable. "That ability is very strong in the Slytherin family line, which Tom Riddle is a decendant of, and I am not aware of it being strong in any other family. So you must have received that from him. Also, I assume you will tell me that Voldemort did not have time to cast the attachment spell to make the Horcrux the night he gave you the scar, and therefore you are not a Horcrux."
"Nevertheless, his soul had already been split due to the killing of your father, and it had not had time to reattach itself. Since you have that mark, I must assume he made some sort of magical connection with you such that when he died, the soul fragment would have followed that connection and embedded itself in you, also transferring his Parseltongue ability. As you can see, I disagree with you about the possibility of having two souls in a single body, especially when the second one is merely a fragment and is well contained in a magical pocket of some sort."
"Very interesting, Headmaster, but wouldn't I have had to be nearby when that happened?"
"Yes, Mr Evans. Theory holds that the recipient of a Horcrux ritual needs to be within about ten feet. Since you were in the same room, I believe that suffices."
Now Harry did smile. "Except that I wasn't there, sir. My mother has told me that she saw the Killing Curse bounce off of me and rebound towards Voldemort as she Portkeyed out with me, so neither of us was there when the spell actually hit him. Therefore, there was no live container for the fragment to embed itself in, as you put it. The fragment should have, ah, dissipated."
Dumbledore shifted in his seat again as he considered the new information. Harry waited to see what he had to say, as did his mother based on her expression.
"That's very interesting, Mr Evans. Very interesting indeed." The old wizard now smiled. "Yes, well argued, and that makes me feel much better about a few things. That is all assuming Voldemort used Horcruxes, which I have not been able to prove yet. I only know that he had an interest in them." He went silent again, obviously considering various ideas.
Lily lightly cleared her throat, slightly startling Dumbledore, who nodded at her to continue. "But it sounds as if you believe he split his soul so that he has six Horcruxes, plus one last part of his soul in his new body? Do you know what any of these Horcruxes are, or where they might be located?"
The old wizard pursed his lips together, obviously thinking very carefully.
"Albus!" she raised her voice severely. "I can tell you know, and as I said before, you need to share all of this information with myself and Charles. Keeping information this important from the people it affects most will only hurt them."
"Oh? And what have I withheld from you that needed to know?" Dumbledore asked. "I told you about the possibility of Horcruxes, the prophecy, and helped teach you the Fidelius charm to hide with years ago. What more could I have possibly told you?"
Harry thought his mother now looked like a cat that had finally cornered an elusive rat. "You know very well, Albus, that I asked you for the identity of anyone else who had heard the prophecy. Who was the one who took it to Voldemort? Who was the source of that leak?"
Harry watched as Dumbledore's eyes widened for just a brief second. This was the question the great wizard had not wanted to be asked. Harry leaned forward ever so slightly and listened and watched, hoping to gain some clue. He knew that Dumbledore would somehow obfuscate his answer.
Dumbledore smoothed out his robes and sank deeper into his leather chair before folding his hands in front of him and staring at Lily Potter. "Lily, as I told you then, that person's identity had to remain hidden to do us the most good. Telling you that identity would have done nothing except fuel your desire for revenge, and that would have been very dangerous for you. I had to protect both you and your husband."
"Then tell me now," she demanded. "Fifteen years have passed. I think I deserve to know who was an accomplice to the murder of my husband."
The Headmaster looked at her for a long moment. "I'm sorry, Lily. I truly am. But I can't do that, and I can say nothing more about it. Shall I show you to your quarters?"
Harry saw that his mother was plainly upset as she glared at the leader of the 'light side' before quickly standing to leave. He stood with his mother and finished looking around as they made their way towards the door, following Dumbledore.
They went down a curved stairway and past a gargoyle that moved back in front of the stairs when they were clear. The Headmaster turned right and led them through the halls. To Harry, the castle felt old, very old. The stonework was ancient, and there was a buzz of magic in the air. Portraits and paintings covered the walls, and the occupants smiled, waved, or gossiped as the strange group passed. It was very fascinating and a bit daunting. He would need a decent amount of time to learn the castle's secrets, and that made him wistful for the map of Hogwarts his uncles had told him about. Unfortunately, the caretaker had confiscated it decades ago. Harry idly wondered if the Map was still in the caretaker's office and if he could find it without being caught.
A few minutes later and down one floor, Dumbledore stopped at a door. "Lost wizard," he said, and Lily raised an eyebrow as the door opened. He smiled at them and walked in. "This is your room while you're here. There is a ward to keep the students out of this wing, but since Mr Evans is not an enrolled student, it will not affect him. I would advise you to stay out of sight if you want to keep your presence secret for as long as possible. The password for the room next door is 'OWL examinations'. A proctor will arrive every evening at half-past six to give the next examination. I believe the one tomorrow is for Charms."
"Albus, how do we get food?" Lily asked in an obviously controlled tone, her anger from a few minutes before now mostly suppressed.
"Oh yes," he smiled at her. "A house-elf will bring your meals to this room. If you'd like to leave on the weekend so you're not stuck in the room the entire time, you'll need to come to my office to use my Floo. I'll arrange an extra password there for you. Say 'Lily is back' and you can go up."
"Thank you, Headmaster. I appreciate your helping out in this way," she told him sincerely.
"You're welcome, Lily. And it has been good to see you again. Mr Evans, the same goes for you. Good-night." With the quick good-bye, the old man left.
After a check to make sure there were no portraits in the room, Lily cast a silencing spell on the door before she spoke in Japanese. "Well, Harry? What do you think?"
"I see what you mean, Mother. He's very smart but a bit eccentric," Harry responded in the same language.
She chuckled. "Yes, he is. Deep down, he's a good man, but his goals are not our goals, so be cautious of him, Harry."
"I will, Mum."
"So what are your observations, dear?" She seemed curious, and he suspected that she wanted to know if her conclusions matched his.
"You were right, he does seem to run a very defensive war. It's almost like he thinks everything will come to him, and he'll take care of it then."
"That's not a bad way to put it. What are your other observations and conclusions?"
"I was surprised that he was doing more than we thought he was, even though it's still not very aggressive. He's trying to educate the Purebloods about Muggles through his entrance exams and then mandatory Muggle Studies classes, and that's not what I expected."
She nodded. "I agree, that is nice to see, although it will take decades to bear fruit. Sadly, it may not be as effective as you think it will be, because I know who the Muggle Studies teacher is, and she's a Pureblood. So the young Purebloods will learn a little more about the Muggle world, but it will still be distorted and inadequate."
"How unfortunate," he said with a glum expression, but then he perked up as he remembered something else. "I was happy to hear that he's done research on why Voldemort did not die and gone further than we managed. With his research, we should have a better chance to determine what we may have to do to end the war."
"True," his mother agreed. "He's in a better position to find that out being in-country, and I'm glad he has. However, don't get lax on your research. Assuming he's correct about Horcruxes being the mechanism that Riddle used to stay alive, finding all the Horcruxes and destroying them will be incredibly difficult. I've never read anything about how to destroy one, and it's obvious that they will each be guarded with severe curses. I can only hope he did not take one of them and surround it with multiple layers of different protective materials and drop it in the middle of the ocean somewhere."
Harry shuddered. "We can only hope they are in places he has a connection to so we can find them. Again, assuming Horcruxes are the answer."
"You'll note he did not answer my question on whether he knows where any might be, right? We have to have better luck at finding them than I've had in finding out who took the prophecy to Voldemort. I can't believe he still won't tell me," Lily said.
"Mother?" Harry asked, waiting for her to look back at him after her outburst. "He might have a good reason." His mother looked at him and raised her eyebrow. "Operational security. One of your favorite topics? I know it's only a guess, but it may mean that person is still alive and doing something for the Headmaster."
Lily looked taken aback at the new thought. She leaned against the wall to think. "The list of people alive then and now who are involved is not very long, but I can't yet think of a way to reduce it. We'll both have to stay alert for more clues. Pay attention to who was active with Albus's plans then and now."
Harry nodded. "I got the impression that the Headmaster was not happy that I knew the entire prophecy."
"He wasn't," she confirmed.
"Other than what he told us, do you know why?" he asked.
"No, Harry. It's quite possible he gave us a complete answer, but then again, maybe not. He does like to dole out information slowly and only as he sees fit."
Harry snorted. "I agree with what you told him." His mother smiled at him. "That also makes me wonder when he would have told me if you hadn't. I mean, if something had happened to you, so you weren't there to raise me, and it would have been left to him to train me, when would he have told me about the prophecy? When would he have started to train me?" He considered what little he had heard that the Headmaster had done for Neville Longbottom, and Harry was glad he had his mother and her ideas.
His mother looked at him for a moment before she walked over and drew her son into a hug. "I don't know," she softly told him as she rubbed his back for a moment. "But don't you worry about it. I'll be here for you. You can depend on me. We'll get through this together."
Harry hugged her back tightly. "Thanks, Mother!" he told her in a fierce whisper.
With a last squeeze, she let him go. "Well, these rooms look the same, so you take the bedroom through that door, and I'll take this one. Good-night, son. I love you." She squeezed his shoulder and sent him on his way.
"I love you too," he told her with a smile. Going into his room, he found a bed, a dresser, a wardrobe, and a small private bathroom. All in all, Harry thought, it appeared to be a fairly comfortable place. However, he felt he would probably take the Headmaster up on his offer to leave on the weekend, if he could get his mother to agree. Even a room this nice would get really boring soon, particularly if he only had two rooms to go to.
He enlarged his trunk, quickly unpacked a few clothes, and got ready for bed. Slipping beneath the covers, he found the bed was quite comfortable. If the dorm beds were like this, it might be very nice here. As he went to sleep, he wondered what the other students were like. In the end, they would be what determined whether he was happy to be here or not.
(Mon, 10 Jun)
The next morning, Harry woke early, as was his habit. After he dressed, he went out into the main room. It was empty, which meant that his mother was either not up yet or was out. Either way, he was alone. The mischievous side of him that he rarely let out could not ignore this opportunity. Going back into his room, he pulled the Invisibility Cloak out of his trunk and put it on. Although his mother had given it to him for safety, over the last week his Uncle Sirius had often remarked on its usefulness for "other, more fun things."
As quietly as he could, he left the room and started walking around the castle. Given its size, and therefore the potential to get lost, he was careful to go slow and to make sure he always knew how to get back to his room. At the moment, the going was not too hard as the halls were deserted, so he did not have to hide to avoid getting trampled. He supposed that it being twenty before seven contributed to that.
He had made his way to the main foyer and was about to look into the Great Hall when he heard someone coming. Stepping to the side, next to a suit of armor decorating the area, he watched a slender girl with long red hair and pale skin with a few light freckles come walking into the foyer, humming to herself Based on her size, he guessed she was a year or maybe two years younger than he was.
When she reached the steps going down into what Harry thought was the dungeon, her casual demeanor disappeared and she glanced furtively about the hallway for several moments before relaxing. Apparently satisfied with her privacy, she pulled a phial out of her robes and sprinkled its contents all over the top several steps. She then Vanished the phial and walked towards the Great Hall.
Just outside of the entrance, she waved her wand at the doorway and muttered a spell. Although he could not hear her, he recognized the wand movements as some sort of environmental charm. Applied to the doorway like that, he knew people would feel something only for the brief moment when they walked through the doorway. She then proceeded to walk into the Great Hall.
Intrigued, Harry walked over toward the steps and carefully looked from a short distance away. If he had not seen her sprinkle the fine powder, he probably never would have noticed it. Turning, he walked into the Great Hall. A very faint warmth, like a warm breeze, briefly enveloped him as he passed through the doorway. He was impressed; if he had not seen her cast the spell, he doubted that he would have noticed, or he might have thought the feeling was his imagination.
Harry saw the girl sitting at the table to the far left under the red and gold banner, but what really grabbed his attention was the ceiling. It showed the bright morning sky in all of its glory. Not only was it magnificent to look at, much better than the book described, but Harry knew it was also a phenomenal piece of magic. He doubted his mother could recreate that, and he knew that she was exceptional at Charms. Rowena Ravenclaw had been truly inspired when she had done that work.
Standing to the side of the doors, Harry continued to look around, wondering about the girl's actions as he watched other students trickle in. He did not have to wait long to have his curiosity satisfied.
A pair of young girls, in their second or third year he would guess, walked into the Great Hall. As they passed through the door, flames engulfed their robes as if they had been doused in lamp oil and set alight. But Harry, standing only a few feet away, could feel no heat, so he did not think they were in any real danger.
The girls' eyes widened and then filled with terror. Like discordant banshees, they screeched in terror and began furiously beating at their robes. All heads jerked in their direction, and Harry grinned under the Invisibility Cloak as he watched them dance and flail around as they vainly sought to extinguish the flames. In their panic, neither girl noticed that the flames produced no smoke and that they were not getting burned. It was all an illusion, and an impressive one, Harry thought.
Three boys, all maybe a year older than the girls, came through the doorway and rushed to help their fellow students. As soon as they passed the threshold, their robes went up in flames, too. Panicking, they tore their robes off and tried to stomp the flames out, leaving one of them standing in only his pyjamas and trainers. Engrossed in their efforts, they were deaf to all the laughter coming from the fifty or so students who were at the tables. There were only a couple of teachers at the head table, and they sat immobile, agog at the sight.
Harry watched as several more students came in and passed the door with their robes intact. Then a few more after that, whose robes also sprouted flames. He finally realized that the 'burning' robes all had a green and silver patch on the breast bearing a snake in the shape of an "S".
By this time, the flames from the first victims had vanished, leaving their robes quite intact. Other than some damaged egos and pride, there were no injuries. Which, as far as Harry was concerned, was what made the prank quite funny. Interestingly, the redheaded girl who had done it had contained herself and not acted any differently than anyone else he had seen. Obviously, she was not new to this sort of thing.
As the excitement died down and people stopped streaming into the Great Hall, Harry decided he had better return to his quarters. A last look showed some of the older Slytherin students now sitting at their table and serving themselves breakfast while the illusion of flames leapt up their backs. With a smile, Harry turned and left. Careful to avoid running into any stragglers to the morning meal, he safely made it back to the sixth floor.
Walking into his suite of rooms caused a small problem. His mother was sitting and watching the door while she ate breakfast. Realizing he had few choices, as she would have already checked his bedroom and had surely seen the door open, he closed the door behind himself and pulled the cloak off.
"Did you have a nice jaunt this morning, Charles?" she asked in a pleasant tone.
He knew he was in for it now. It was always worse when she was calm at the beginning. To make it even worse, she was emphasizing his need to be hidden with his alias. He looked down at his feet. "I just wanted to explore the castle a little while there were few people about."
"You know you're supposed to stay in our quarters. Being seen at this time could be very dangerous for you -- for both of us. We're not ready for that yet."
"I'm sorry, Mother." He still had not looked up. He did not want to see her disappointment.
She sighed. "Come, sit down and eat, Charles."
He finally looked up and saw a sort of resigned look on her face. He took the other chair at the small table and started dishing food onto his plate.
After a couple of minutes of silence, his mother started talking to him again. "I understand your curiosity. Hogwarts is a very interesting place, and I doubt any of the students would recognize you. But -- some of the teachers might, and one in particular would be disastrous."
"Snape?" he ventured as he was between bites.
"Yes. Dumbledore says he's trustworthy, but Sirius and Remus still aren't sure, and neither am I. So no unnecessary risks for the next two and a half weeks while we're here. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Mother," he dutifully agreed. He did not like displeasing her.
She gave him a smile in acknowledgement of his apology and promise. "When you return in September, you'll have plenty of time for exploring -- although you'll need to be very careful when you do that. There are plenty of places for someone to hide and attack you when you aren't looking."
"I'll be careful, I promise."
Her smile grew a little bigger and her expression softened. "I know you will. I know I'm biased, but you are very good because you've paid attention to your training. In any fight that's even close to fair, I have every confidence that you'll win." Harry smiled back at her, his pride swelling in her praise. "Now, finish up there and we can go next door to look at your testing room and then do a little last minute revising for your Charms OWL tonight."
Harry nodded and went back to work on his mostly empty plate. He had no worries about doing well on his Charms OWL, but he wanted one last chance to improve his speed on a few charms.
At half six, Harry was sitting in the testing room waiting. His three-hour written exam and one hour practical would be starting as soon as the proctor showed up. He had barely finished that thought when the door opened to admit two old wizards and the oldest witch he had ever seen.
"Mr Charles Evans?"
"Yes, ma'am." He hoped his disguise held. His mother had warned him to be cautious, as these three testers had tested both his mother and his father.
"I'm Professor Griselda Marchbanks," she pointed to the right, "this is Professor Tiberius Ogden," then she pointed to the left, "and this is Professor Thaddeus Tofty. One or more of us will be giving you one OWL examination each weekday evening."
"I understand you want to take each of the twelve OWLS? That is a difficult and arduous task, young man." She fixed him with a pointed stare as she waited for his answer.
"Yes, ma'am. I have prepared for all twelve."
With a look that communicated that she thought his plan unwise, she turned to her left. "Professor Tofty? I believe tonight's examination is your responsibility, although I believe I will stay and observe, if you don't mind."
"No, not at all, Professor Marchbanks," the balding man with a squeaky voice replied. He pulled out his wand and a small box. With a wave but no incantation, he enlarged the box and set it on the table. Opening it, he pulled out a quill, a bottle of ink, and what looked to be a scroll that was at least three feet long. All were pushed in front of Harry.
Professors Marchbanks and Ogden stepped to the side of the room and sat down. The witch pulled out her wand and cast a privacy charm around them, which Harry assumed allowed them to hear what was happening in the room yet allowed them to talk without disrupting the test.
Lastly, Professor Tofty pulled an hourglass out of the box. "You have three hours to complete as much of the examination as you can. Should you finish ahead of time, I advise you to review your answers in the additional time, although you can hand it in early if you so wish." Turning the hourglass over, he calmly stated, "You may now begin."
Harry unrolled the test, grabbed the quill, dipped it into the ink, and started answering the first question. He tried to make his handwriting as neat as possible, but the time limit caused him to hurry and his letters scrawled more than he liked.
At the two-hour mark, he ended the answer to the last question with a flourish. He was quite happy with his answers to the eighty questions which filled the four feet of parchment. Sitting up straight and stretching, he saw the three professors appraising him. He assumed they were wondering if he was really finished or not. Deciding he had the time, as the hourglass was only about two-thirds empty, he took the next half hour to skim back over his answers. He did not change anything.
Laying his quill down, he rolled the parchment back up and held it out. "Professor Tofty, I have finished. May I take a short break before the practical?"
The balding wizard took the rolled parchment from him and put it back into the box. "Certainly, Mr Evans. As you can see, there are refreshments over on the other table, and a lavatory is through that door."
Harry did not bother to see where he was pointing, as he already knew the water closet was there. He stood and stretched before he headed over to get a glass of pumpkin juice. It was acceptable, but he could not figure out why everyone liked it so much, including his mother. It was what they got used to as children, he supposed. Harry much preferred apple juice.
While Harry sipped his juice, Professor Tofty pulled a number of items out of the box: an egg, a stick, a small doll, several rocks, some parchment, and a few other things. When the man had finished, he walked over to the other two professors and conferred with them behind the privacy screen. Harry wondered what they were discussing.
Draining his juice, he set the glass down and went to the loo. He knew he would not have another chance until after the practical was done.
Coming back out, he walked over to the table where he had taken his test and waited. A moment later, Professor Tofty joined him along with Professor Ogden.
"May I examine your wand please, Mr Evans?" Professor Tofty held out his hand as he patiently waited.
Harry handed his wand over and watched the man cast a spell on it, presumably to check for cheating of some sort. He cast another spell and a smoky image of a snake appeared above the wand for a few seconds before it disappeared.
The man raised an eyebrow. "Part of a basilisk for a core?"
"Yes, sir, an optic nerve of one actually." It was a moderately rare core, but not unheard of, or so he had been told.
Professor Tofty handed Harry his wand back. "Very well, Mr Evans. I have fifty tasks for you to perform. You are not allowed to take longer than one minute for any task. To speed this up a bit, Professor Ogden will be recording the results."
Harry nodded as he watched Professor Ogden pull out a watch. "I'm ready whenever you are, sir."
"Very well, Mr Evans." Professor Tofty picked up the egg and set it before Harry. "Please turn the egg shell blue with medium sized golden polka-dots."
"No specific size, just not one or two large ones, and not covered with real tiny ones?" Harry asked.
"That's right, Mr Evans. A general, medium size, say six to ten dots all over the egg."
Harry concentrated and then cast the color changing charm for blue, then a modified color changing charm which produced eight golden spots about half an inch in diameter all over the egg. Looking up at the professor, he saw a smile.
"Excellent, Mr Evans, and it took you a little less than ten seconds as well." Professor Tofty said. He slipped a small piece of parchment under the egg. "Now, please use a Severing Charm to slice this egg in half, and yes, it is hard-boiled, but do not cut the paper under it."
An interesting test for control, Harry thought. Taking a few seconds to concentrate, he cast the Severing charm on the middle of the egg.
Tofty picked up the two halves and looked inside. "The egg white is still white and not blue or gold, very good." He Vanished the egg parts. He then picked up the parchment and held it up between himself and Professor Ogden. It was easy to see that there was no cut or tear in the parchment. "Good control of your power." The parchment was set down and a one-foot stick was placed in from of Harry. "Mr Evans, please enlarge this stick to exactly twice its present length, which would make it two feet long."
Carefully visualizing the end result, Harry successfully enlarged the stick to the correct length. The next forty-seven tasks passed with successful results. Both men looked quite pleased. A glance at Professor Marchbanks showed her to have a very interested expression as she watched him.
"Congratulations, Mr Evans. You've finished the practical portion in slightly under half an hour. I'm not sure if that is a record or not, but I would say that it is a most outstanding display of Charms." Professor Tofty said, obviously very impressed.
"Thank you, Professor." Harry smiled and inclined his head politely. His mother had told him that good impressions were always useful.
Professor Tofty pulled out a cup and turned it over. Four small objects spilled onto the table. With a wave of his wand, the objects expanded back to their normal size. The smallest of them was about the size of a liter bottle. The next was about four times that size, so Harry assumed the first was a quart container and the second a gallon container. The third one was a large container that could probably hold five gallons, and the largest was a barrel.
"Mr Evans, this is for your permanent conjuration test," Professor Tofty started explaining. "Please fill each container with water in a single spell, conjuring the entire volume of water at the same time. After you have done each of them, I will seal them and we will see which ones still have water in them at the end of your OWLs. That will give us, and yourself, an understanding of how much you can permanently conjure."
"This is to help me know how much I can conjure and have it stay there and not hurt myself?"
"Yes, Mr Evans. As you know, not all conjured items are permanent, and everyone has their size restriction. As you should have been told in your class, it would be very … disastrous, shall we say, for you to conjure water, drink it, have your body use it, and then have it disappear later. Weaker wizards who over-extended themselves have been killed in this way."
"Yes, sir, we did cover that in class." Harry turned, and for each of the five containers, starting with the cup-sized one, he conjured the appropriate sized column of water in the containers. He stopped a little short of the top each time so that nothing would spill out.
"Very good, Mr Evans." Professor Tofty pulled out five lids and some yellow tape that looked like very wide Spell-O-Tape. After placing the correct lid on each container, he placed tape around the lid and then touched his wand to it. The tape shrunk and stuck tightly.
Harry could tell the seal was not coming off easily. He assumed it was to prevent tampering.
The proctor put his magical tape away. "As a bonus, Mr Evans, is there anything else you would like to show us for the practical?" A look of expectation graced the proctor's face.
"Any charm I want?" Harry queried.
"Any charm that won't hurt anyone here," Professor Tofty confirmed patiently.
Lifting his wand to hold it in front of him and concentrating, after a second, he conjured a miniature Quidditch stadium on the tabletop. It was about a meter in length with hoops at each end and stands on both sides.
Professor Tofty nodded. "Very nice! It seems very lifelike. Not as well done as an architectural model or anything, but still very accurate."
"If I may, Professor, this is just a prop to show you want I really wanted to do."
"Then by all means, please continue," the older man told him. The other two testers got up from their seats and came over to see better.
Harry quickly conjured fourteen tiny figurines on brooms. "There, that's the last of the prop. Now here's what I wanted to show you." Again, he paused and closed his eyes, carefully visualizing what he wanted to do. Without opening his eyes, he started casting the Animation charm, directing it around the small group of "toy players". As he finished the spell, he looked and was pleased to see that all the players were flying around the model stadium playing a mock game of Quidditch. They were not flying in rigid formations like the Muggle Air Force, but flew independently as if they were real players.
"Merlin's Beard!" Professor Tofty whispered intensely. Professor Ogden stared with an opened mouth. Professor Marchbanks just stared at him wide-eyed.
It was all Harry could do not to laugh and to keep his large grin down to something that might be called merely a small smile. He did not want to look too arrogant. He let the spell go for almost a minute before he canceled it, lest it start to repeat itself and seem less impressive. It had taken several months for him to learn to do that much.
Professor Tofty finally pulled himself together and cleared his throat, which seemed to release the other two from their amazement. "Thank you for that most interesting demonstration, Mr Evans. Professor Marchbanks will give you your Transfiguration OWL exam tomorrow evening, if you would like to know what you should study for."
"Thank you, Professor. I'll see you tomorrow evening at the same time." Without a word, he Vanished his model stadium, gave a nod as a small bow to the three adults, and left the testing room to return to his living quarters in the next suite.
Harry had barely finished closing the door behind him when he heard, "How do you think you did?"
He grinned at his mother, who was sitting in a chair near the fireplace. "Quite well, I suppose. Professor Tofty seemed to be very impressed with my practical work. I also found the written portion to be relatively easy."
"Very good." She smiled at him. "Don't stay up too late tonight. You'll need your rest. Relax for a few minutes before you turn in, and study for your next one tomorrow. You might also consider lifting the weights you brought with you."
"Yes, Mother," he dutifully answered her. As was his usual practice, he walked over and leaned down and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, which she returned.
"Good-night, Harry. Sleep well, my son," she whispered.
Harry's smile returned at her look of love. "Good-night, Mother. Sleep well, too." He turned and went to his room.
He considered pulling one of his manga out for some light reading, but instead he settled on pulling out Hogwarts: A History. He wanted to look up a few things about the castle.
Professors Tofty, Ogden, and Marchbanks watched the young man walk out of the room.
"Did you see that?! Each player moved independently, and they did not do the same thing over and over. And he did it in his fifth year!" Professor Ogden was beside himself in amazement.
"Simply magnificent!" Professor Tofty agreed. "That was certainly Outstanding work and worthy of several bonus points. I hope he did as well on the written portion." The man's respect for the student was obvious.
"Yes, he's a very gifted young man," Griselda Marchbanks thoughtfully agreed. He also reminded her of someone else, although she was having a difficult time coming up with the name, since she had seen so many students in her long lifetime.
As a young witch, she had tested Albus Dumbledore, who had been as gifted in Transfiguration. The next very gifted student she had tested had come nearly a century later -- one Tom Riddle, she finally remembered. She shuddered as she thought of him. Now, a third extremely gifted student in her lifetime? She wondered how would he affect things.
Marchbanks also wondered why Albus had made this arrangement. Oh, his request to test a transfer student who wanted to make sure he was capable without drawing attention to himself was reasonable enough, she supposed. But that coupled with his request to change the name on the test at the beginning of the school year, indicating that "Charles Evans" was an alias, made her wonder all the more what was going on. Nevertheless, she had promised the student anonymity at least until mid-August and had not mentioned anything to her two helpers.
Coming out of her thoughts, she looked at the two men who were still going on about the model Quidditch game, which she had to agree was spectacular. "Gentlemen? Shall we retire for the evening? Tomorrow will also be a long day."
The next evening, Griselda Marchbanks was again amazed, as were her two companions. They had not wanted to miss the show, even though they had not needed to be present. While this Mr Evans was not quite up to Dumbledore's, or even Minerva McGonagall's, prowess in Transfiguration when they were fifteen, this young man was still quite exceptional in Transfiguration, too.
The successive evenings were filled with Astronomy, followed by Divination. Friday evening would bring his Defense Against the Dark Arts exam. Professor Marchbanks was looking forward to that. Her gut feeling was that it would be very interesting to watch.
(Tue, 25 Jun)
When Harry returned to his room after his History of Magic OWL, his mother was in her usual chair staring into the flames of the small fire. Both of their trunks were standing in the middle of the room.
She looked up as he pushed the door closed behind him. "Did it go well?" she asked in Japanese, preferring it within their room. When Harry had asked why, she had told him she thought it was safer as she doubted anyone else in the castle spoke the language.
He smiled. "It was very easy." Even though that had been his standard answer for all twelve tests, it was the truth. Better still, she believed him.
"I'm very proud of you." He felt himself standing a fraction taller with his chest puffing out a little. He enjoyed hearing that from her. "Are you tired?"
"No, Mother. I won't be tired for several hours yet since we've been getting up later while we've been here. Are we going to go on the outing you mentioned?" He had gotten up even later this morning as his mother had been hinting at a little trip after he finished his last OWL.
"I believe we will." She gracefully rose, pulled out her wand, and shrunk their two trunks.
Harry bent down and picked them up, handing hers to her, while putting his trunk in his pocket.
"Thank you. It's time for us to return to the Headmaster's office. I believe you should wear your cloak."
Knowing the comment was not merely a suggestion, Harry reached into his robes and pulled the Invisibility Cloak out of an inside pocket. With a flourish, he wrapped it around himself.
"Very good, let's go." She led him out of the room, carefully surveying each hallway before they started walking down it. At one corner, they heard voices, so they flattened themselves against the wall. Harry was invisible, and his mother Disillusioned herself before standing very still. A pair of students walked by, and Harry reasoned that they were probably Prefects on patrol.
They did not encounter anyone else on their way to the Headmaster's office. His mother gave the password and they went up. Harry pulled the cloak off and put it away as Lily knocked on the door. A call of "Enter" beckoned them in.
The Headmaster greeted them. "Ah, Lily, it's good to see you again. Mr Evans, how were your examinations? Oh, where are my manners, sherbert lemon, anyone?" He held out his bowl of sweets.
"No thank you, Albus," Lily said. Harry shook his head as well. "Charles believes he did quite well on them."
"Excellent, I'm glad to hear that," Professor Dumbledore said with a smile. "I had an interesting conversation with Griselda on Sunday, and she indicated that Mr Evans was acquitting himself admirably in the practicals."
"Of course, he's my son," Lily said.
The man's beard twitched slightly, Harry assumed with amusement. "I have also graded Mr Evans's entrance tests on the Muggle and the Wizarding worlds and he has passed them both, so no extra classes are required for you, Mr Evans."
"Thank you, sir. That's a relief. Of course, they were quite easy. However, questions like 'Name two forms of transportation that Muggles use that Wizards do not,' may help to make sure the students understand the names of Muggle objects, but it does not help in understanding how Muggles think, which I believe to be more important."
The Headmaster nodded. "Well said, Mr Evans. Unfortunately, these questions are what we were given. Hopefully we can add the more -- pertinent questions -- over time." The twinkle in his eyes was most pronounced. That subject done, the Headmaster turned to his mother. "If you would do me one favor before you leave?"
"If I can," she acknowledged.
"It would be nice to see exactly who will be joining us this fall." At her look of confusion, he added, "He still has his glamour on."
"Oh." Pulling out her wand, Lily touched it to the top of his head, doing a soundless 'Finite'. Looking down, Harry saw the hair on the back of his hands change from red to black. He assumed the rest of his hair and his facial features had changed as well.
"Ah, yes. A spitting image of young James, with your eyes, Lily." He looked lost in a memory for a couple of seconds before he continued. "Well Mr Evans, I shall see you on the first of September. The Hogwarts Express leaves from Platform 9 ¾ at eleven in the morning. I have no doubt your mother can get you there."
"I do remember," Lily dryly commented.
"Your OWL results along with your course selection list for your sixth year should arrive by the first of August. Please return that as soon as you can. A book list will also be included. I believe I already have all of your other information from your enrollment form. I hope you've enjoyed your stay here, Mr Evans."
"Yes, sir. I look forward to coming back in the fall." And he did, honestly, want to come back. Training with his mother had been very useful, but he also craved getting to know other wizards and witches his own age. He did like Suki back home, but as the only other magical person his age, he had felt very limited in his ability to share the magical world.
"Splendid, Mr Evans, very splendid. I shall see you at the Welcoming Feast, then. Have a good summer, both of you," Dumbledore told them.
"Thank you, sir," Harry gave a slight bow.
"Yes, thank you for your help, Albus. Come, Charles. It's time to go." His mother led him over to the fireplace. After reapplying his glamours, she grabbed a large pinch of Floo Powder from the dish on the mantel. She tossed it in and said, "The Leaky Cauldron" just as she disappeared in the green flames. Harry followed her.
There were still a few patrons present at the Leaky Cauldron, but not many. Harry had barely stepped out of the fireplace in the famous pub, when his mother caught his arm, turned him towards the door to the street and they took their robes off as they walked, revealing their Muggle clothes. They draped their robes over an arm, much like one did an overcoat.
"The stores I want in Diagon Alley are probably closed by now, so we'll have to go to the Muggle equivalent. Besides, it will be far safer out here," she told him as they walked out the door and onto the sidewalk. Outside in the Muggle world, she led him down the street for a few blocks. There, she turned into a small ice cream shop.
"Congratulations on finishing your tests. I know we rarely get to go out and I also know how much you like ice cream, so pick out whatever you'd like. Afterward, we can visit a large bookstore I know that's near here and you can pick something out there as well," she told him with a smile. With an even bigger smile, Harry chose a traditional fudge sundae.
Half an hour later, they walked down the street to the bookstore, where Harry found a book on military history and combat tactics.
Their little time of fun over, they walked back outside and into an alleyway. There, his mother grabbed his arm and Apparated them to their summer home, number twelve Grimmauld Place. The rest of the summer would be dedicated to training.
(Sat, 6 Jul)
Harry and his mother Apparated to an alley she had scouted out earlier in the week. Before Harry had left Japan, O-Sensei had given him an address in London. They had both applied their Japanese glamours, returning to their far eastern disguises. Lily felt this was very important as O-Sensei might have mailed a letter of introduction and possibly a photo.
They walked around to the front of the row of shops and saw a simple sign that advertised Karate classes hanging over one of the doorways. There was nothing to make it stand out, but then Harry assumed that was done on purpose. A master of this sort did not need to advertise. His reputation was all that was needed. Most likely, the master sent most applicants home. Harry had an advantage, however, as he was a former student of O-Sensei.
Walking inside, they saw a room decorated like O-Sensei's dojo, so Harry immediately felt at home and bowed. There was a class in session at the moment, so the Potters respectfully knelt on the floor and watched. Harry noted that everyone in the class was Asian, and he was thankful for his mother's insistence on their old disguises. No one approached them, but the master had seen them, Harry was sure of that. They patiently waited, understanding that custom demanded this.
Harry studied the class. It was much like his lessons back home -- yet another source of comfort. The master was a man in his upper forties and in excellent condition based on his looks. He mostly walked around the class and made the occasional quiet comment to students as they warmed up under the eye of an older student. O-Sensei had said this man was one of his better students.
After nearly half an hour, the master walked over to them as an older student continued to lead the class in katas. The Potters both got to their feet and gave a small bow. The master returned it. In Japanese, he told them, "I am sorry, but my classes are full. If you would like to leave your name and a phone number, I will let you know when I have an opening."
Harry bowed again. "Sensei, O-Sensei sends his greetings to you." The man in front of him looked startled for a brief second. That reaction was a good sign and emboldened Harry. Reaching into his workout gi, he retrieved a letter that he handed over. The man took it and read it. While Harry knew what it contained -- O-Sensei said he would write him a letter of recommendation -- he was glad he had it now.
When the man finished reading the letter, he smiled. "How is O-Sensei?"
"He is doing well, although he does complain about 'his old bones'," Harry said.
Sensei smiled. "O-Sensei suggests putting you in my advanced class. Do you agree with his assessment of your skills?"
"O-Sensei is wise, but if I am to learn with you, I submit myself to your decision." Harry bowed at the end of his statement to show his submission.
The man gave the slightest of smiles. "Well spoken. Since you are dressed for it, join the class. I will assess you and decide at the end."
Harry dropped his bag on the floor and kicked off his shoes. He then took a couple of minutes to stretch and prepare himself. He bowed to the Sensei again before he walked onto the floor mat to join the class. The older student, who was about nineteen or twenty, briefly scowled at him, but he continued leading the class. As Harry picked a spot in the back and was about to join in doing the current kata, he glanced over and saw Sensei quietly talking to his mother. Taking a deep breath, he began the simple kata, using to the flowing movements to finish stretching.
By the time the katas were done, he was fully stretched and he had begun hearing his old master's voice instead of the assistant's. Sensei came over and started pairing up students to practice with each other. Harry had no problems with this and held his own against his assigned partner.
Near the end of the class time, Sensei stopped class and had everyone get into a large circle. He pointed to Harry and waved him in, and to another student about Harry's age. Harry had done this before. It was like a practice exam. He and the other student approached each other and bowed to the Sensei and to each other before they got into their stances. Sensei shouted "Hajime!" and Harry wasted no time. He stepped forward, faked a punch and snap kicked instead. It hit the other boy who had fallen for the fake. Harry did not pause and kept throwing techniques. Two hits later, the boy was on the ground. "Yame!" Harry stepped back and waited. The other boy was motioned out and a new one was motioned in.
Harry went through three more opponents, winning them all, but also collecting an injury on the left side of his face that was going to hurt and probably bruise later, not to mention the punishment his arms had taken blocking attacks. He was once again grateful for magical healing.
Finally, the oldest boy, the assistant, was motioned in. Harry took a deep breath to clear his thinking, but he stayed focused and showed no emotion -- no fear. He would do what he had to do. "Hajime!"
The two stared at each other for a second, evaluating each other and fighting in their own mind, much like ancient samurai. Seeing himself as victorious, Harry launched himself at his opponent.
This fight went longer than the other four combined. Several times the older boy almost had him, but Harry managed to move back and get an extra second to recover. The boy was relentless, but then that was how Harry thought of himself. After tightening his stomach and stepping into a kick to get closer, Harry grabbed the assistant's foot and twisted hard. The boy had over extended himself and had no leverage, so he fell. Harry moved as fast as he could, forcing the boy to fall when gravity did not act fast enough. The boy slammed into the mat. Harry pressed his knee into the small of the assistant's back as he cocked his left arm with the knife edge of his hand poised to strike the head or the neck.
Harry relaxed at the commands from the Sensei and stood, waiting for the boy. He slowly got up and faced Harry with a new respect in his eyes, and something else. Letting his burgeoning Legilimency skills flare for a moment on this Muggle, Harry felt a fierce determination to beat him the next time. Harry smiled slightly and bowed to his opponent and then to the teacher, as did the other boy.
"Class dismissed," the Sensei called. All of the students bowed to the Sensei as they left the mat. Some immediately walked out the front door while others walked into a back room. The master walked over to Harry.
"Sato-san, you did very well. Some of the moves you made were not Karate. Why?"
"Sensei," Harry said, hiding his apprehension. Some masters refused to teach those who studied other arts, but he needed to be truthful. "I desired to expand my view of the world. In addition to O-Sensei's teaching, I have also studied some Aikido."
"You should continue that if you can." Harry relaxed and smiled in his relief as the Sensei continued. "I have done the same and found it most helpful." Sensei looked at him for a moment, as if he was measuring him. "Have you studied any weapons?"
"A few. I prefer the staff or bo, as that form can be found in many places and can be used wherever you find them."
The master smiled. "Very practical. Any bladed weapons?"
"I have had an introduction only to knives."
The Sensei nodded, apparently neutral about knives. "Sato-san, get two staves from the wall." Harry watched Sensei start stretching before he turned around to get the weapons. He knew he was in for it now, but he had no choice.
After picking up two hardened bamboo staves, each a little shorter than himself, he saw his mother still watching him. She had a smile on her face, which he took as encouragement. A few of the students -- not the oldest one, Harry was relieved to see -- were standing at the side watching. They were about to get a show. He gave one of the staves to the master. They both used the bamboo to stretch in slightly different ways before bowing to one another. "Hajime," the master said softly.
The next five minutes were some of the most frustrating in Harry's life. It seemed like no matter what Harry did, he was blocked. When he had tried almost everything he knew, the master's staff started moving differently. Harry's emotional mask cracked as he realized the master had been playing a defensive role, and that he was now about to go on the offense.
Harry blocked as many strikes as he could, but just as many penetrated his defense, leaving him with even more sore spots that would turn into bruises. Once he got lucky and hit the master on the left shoulder, but he knew it was truly luck. Then again, his opponent was the master for a reason. The third time Harry was knocked back on his arse, the master softly said, "Yame." Harry stood and the master bowed, as did Harry.
"O-Sensei has taught you well." He handed the bamboo to Harry. "Return these and pick up a set of bo sticks for each of us."
Harry put the staves up and picked up four sticks about a half meter long each. He handed two to the teacher. Again they battled, and again the teacher was easily the better, although Harry felt he had fought a little better than with the staff.
"Return these and join me," Sensei said.
Harry walked over to put the bo sticks away, trying to stretch his overworked muscles. He had not had a workout like this since he left Japan nearly a month ago. The katas and the little sparring he did with his mother were not enough to keep him on edge. Turning around, he saw the master further down the wall. Harry hurried over.
"You have done well -- my student." He smiled at Harry, which caused Harry to smile as well. "I will see you Tuesday evenings at six-thirty and Saturdays at three." He bowed, so Harry bowed back to him.
"Thank you, Sensei. I am honored to receive your teaching." Harry bowed again as the teacher nodded and left for his office.
Letting his arms hang at his side, he returned to his mother. "You did it, didn't you?" she asked him excitedly. The smile on his face had probably given him away.
"I did," he told her with a sense of accomplishment. She hugged him tightly and all he could do was stand there with his arms still at his side and grunt. "Ow, be careful, Mum. I've got multiple bruises that need help."
She quickly let him go. "Sorry dear, the only red spot I see is the one on your jaw. Let's go home and I'll heal them and give you some bruise paste for the deeper ones, too. I probably shouldn't completely heal the one on your jaw, so they don't wonder about you." They walked out and back to the alley where they were alone. Removing their glamours, they Apparated home. An hour later, after a shower and some medical treatment, Harry felt almost normal except for his shoulders and a little soreness on his left jaw. He was going to have to add more exercises for his upper body.
((A/N: Harry is only barely an advanced student in his new karate class, or so it appears to those not trained under his original master. In Japan, he was merely an average student. In the Wizarding World, he will appear to be a master as magical people don't do this kind of physical activity (not even the Aurors), or really very little physical activity at all. He will not be some sort of "uber-Ninja", sorry to those who want that. :-) OTOH, skills are relative, so in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
A question for thought: What does the above mean when Harry goes to Hogwarts? Feel free to assume the characters there are close to canon.
Again, thanks to my helpers (in alpha order): JonathanAvery, moshpit, Reg, and Sovran.