Harry Potter and The Alchemist's Apprentice
Chapter One: Lost and Found Again
"In here, Hermione, hurry!" Harry yelled to his friend in the ghostly silence of the Department's halls. He and Neville had found the relatively deserted room, and it would make for a bit of a stronghold, for now. Inside the only artifact of note was an enormous hourglass filled with sand; it was decorated similarly to the Time-Turner that Hermione possessed back in Third Year.
"Colloportus!" Hermione said quickly as she came inside, sealing the door. "Harry, are you alright? Goodness I've been terrified – where are the others?"
"I don't know, Hermione, Neville's the only one who's kept up with me. Nice wand work, by the way, Neville." He said, smiling at the shy boy. Neville blushed a bit with the praise; their moment of respite was soon interrupted, however, and the three teens jumped as they heard voices.
"In here, the blasted door's jammed! Alohomora!" The voice of Lucius Malfoy was easy for Harry to identify; several other mutters were audible, but he couldn't tell who they belonged to. He hid the prophecy up his robe before pointing his wand at where his attackers were sure to emerge from. None of the three, however, were expecting the door to explode inward, knocking them all to their feet. Five Death Eaters rushed into the room, easily tying up Hermione and Neville while they were knocked down. Harry, however, managed to evade their spell with a quick sideways roll. Being forced to evade Dudley had never before been convenient to Harry, but this summer he'd thank his cousin for all the bullying that had made him as agile as he was.
"There you are, wee bitty Potter!" Came Bellatrix's insane cackle of laughter. "Come play! Crucio!" Harry immediately ducked her spell and returned a "Stupefy!" that whizzed by her ear.
"You have no chance of escape now, Potter! Hand over the prophecy!" Malfoy demanded. Bellatrix glared at him as he took command of the room. Apparently there were dominance issues amongst the Death Eaters; Harry smirked to himself.
"I handed it off to one of the others, and who knows where they might have gotten to. Sorry, looks like you're out of luck, Malfoy. I bet your Master will be mightily displeased with you…or would he blame dear Bellatrix? Which of you is in charge, anyway?" Malfoy's face darkened noticeably.
"I'm in charge, little Potty! And I think you're lying!" She lazily waved her wand in his direction and he flew backwards, towards the giant hourglass. Just before he impacted it she heard Bellatrix scream, "Kill him now, all together!" After he slammed into the hourglass, the sand whirling all around him, he saw three cloaked Death Eaters along with Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange yell in unison, "Avada Kedavra!" before pain such as he'd never felt tore through every nerve of his body, as though he was under the Cruciatus Curse from Voldemort himself. It was a ripping sensation, he realized, and he thought that it must've been his soul torn from his body. He expected to know no more after the blinding green light.
Harry, however, immediately found himself flat on his back staring up at a rainy sky.
'Ugh…why does my whole body ache so much if I'm dead? And why is it bloody raining? This afterlife is pretty bloody overrated, so far…' He thought angrily as he fought his protesting muscles to get up. He was still in his school robe, he noticed, and still holding his wand. His glasses were still on his face, if slightly askew. The prophecy was still there as a lump against his chest; other than the pain, he didn't feel all that much different from when he had when he had been alive.
"I say, old chap, are you alright? I didn't even notice you there a moment ago!" A man loomed in Harry's field of vision who held a cane – similar to Dudley's Smeltings stick – and wore a top hat along with a fancy shirt and formal coat. Harry looked at him somewhat oddly. 'Ah well, I guess dead people in an afterlife don't change their taste in clothes, after all…' He thought.
"Er…yeah, I'm fine. Just fell, I guess. D'you mind telling me where I am?" He accepted the stranger's hand to work himself to a standing position.
"Must've whacked your head there, boy! You're in London! Don't tell me you've forgotten jolly old England too!" The stranger said with great mirth. "You, my boy, need a bit of a drink to get yourself back together! Just down the road there are quite a few pubs, I'd recommend one of those!" The stranger left Harry then, laughing a bit to himself.
Truly, this place Harry ended up made little sense at all – the streets were full not of cars like Harry expected, but instead carriages pulled by horses; an occasional car could be seen, but they were of an ancient and rather silly looking design. Harry remembered a museum trip at school one year where he'd seen something similar. Thankfully, he'd emerged in a part of London that he now recognized, despite only having visited here once. The row of pubs that the man pointed to had one in particular that held some significance for Harry – the Leaky Cauldron, entrance to London's secret wizarding population's shops. Harry decided to head that way, since at least he wouldn't be as out of place in his robes.
He smiled as he entered the familiarly dingy pub, but was quite surprised to see someone other than Tom – with his mostly toothless grin – behind the bar.
"Morning, lad! Welcome to the Leaky Cauldron! My name's Sam, can I get ya a pint? Mebbe some gin?" Harry was fairly amazed at the total disregard for drinking age laws that these people seemed to have. Within the pub itself, which was much busier than Harry remembered it ever being when he'd been alive, there were families there with even young children too young to attend Hogwarts with small glasses of beer in front of them. Of course, there was no reason to enforce laws when everyone was dead. It seemed a bit of a queer experience, being dead; Harry wondered why he didn't feel much stranger, but it seemed that everyone else had gone quite crazy. Perhaps it happened over time.
"No thanks, Sam. Just heading to the Alley." He said conversationally with a bit of a grin – it was odd, being in the Wizarding World and not having everyone point like a baboon at his scar.
"Alrighty then, you have yourself a nice time, lad!" Harry tapped the appropriate brick and the entrance appeared just as he'd remembered; the boisterous Diagon Alley seemed to be unchanged from his first visit – mounds of cauldrons of all kinds, with various sales and specials advertised in the windows of all the shops. Quick glances at the prices, however, made him glance closer. Dragon liver for 2 sickles an ounce! That was unbelievable! Harry quickly checked to make sure that an enormous dragon had not, in fact, dropped onto the Apothecary's shop, causing the low price.
Several other discontinuities became apparent to Harry as he made his way around, however. Just where was Madam Malkin's robe shop? All he saw was the pretentious robe shop of Twillfit and Tatting's. Only people like Malfoy shopped there, after all. And Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, where Harry'd gotten treats almost every day during his stint here before his third year. After all, he'd gotten to know the Alley quite well in that time, and so the slight differences were a bit aggravating. Fred and George's shop was also missing; though he'd never seen it, he'd heard that they had bought a vacant property and were either currently remodeling or recently opening their marvelous joke shop.
Ollivander's and Florish & Blott's hadn't changed much, Harry noted as he passed them by, but then Ollivander's, at least, had been around for over 2000 years, so that was somewhat expected. Nor had Gringott's changed in the Land of the Dead, as Harry was beginning to think of this place as. Harry entered the familiar branch and was surprised to see a long line of wizards and witches. Apparently even the dead needed galleons, he was surprised to see.
"Either get in line or leave, sir, no loitering." A burly security goblin said to Harry with a glare. Harry, who had no real need for money yet – he thought, at least – turned around to leave but ended up turning around right into another customer, who he fought to catch as he realized it was a fairly elderly gentleman. At least six goblins also leapt to the aid of the man, they'd certainly never shown Harry such respect, he thought somewhat contemptuously as they ensured the man's wellbeing.
"Oh, I'm fine, just fine, I say. Yes, yes, I won't be moving my money elsewheres, I'm quite certain! Now then, I'll just go about my business!" He said, brushing his robes off. He held a cane in one hand, but didn't seem to rely on it much to walk. He was a smallish man with a very wrinkled face and a short but busy beard and moustache.
"Er, sorry about that, I didn't really look where I was going." Harry said in a muttered apology.
"Quite alright, young man, quite alright! I just didn't really expect anyone to leave without getting a few galleons out first; its why most people come here, after all." He said with a rather silly grin. The man was like an older, taller Professor Flitwick, with as cheerful as he seemed to be.
"Er, right. I guess I'm just a bit new here, so I'm sorta checking things out. Sorry to knock you over." The man had an interested look in his eye.
"New, are you? A bit old to be starting Hogwarts and a bit young to have finished…tell you what, lad, as a bit of an introduction to the area, why don't you come over to my manor for supper with myself and my lovely wife. I'm sure I'll enjoy your stories of your travels." He said with a grin.
"Uh…I'm flattered and all that, but I don't usually –" Harry was cut off by a goblin's exclamation of, "You would turn down an invitation by the great Nicolas Flamel! You foolish human!" Harry's eyes went as big as saucers when he realized just who the diminutive old man was. It was one thing to be in a world of nameless dead people, but this one he'd inadvertently caused the death of! Perhaps he should look up Cedric too, while he was around…might get to meet some Weasley relatives too, as the Diggory's lived near them.
"Oh…Mr. Flamel? I…well, I guess a supper couldn't hurt." He said haltingly. It was the least he could do after causing his death after 658 years.
"Excellent, my boy! Perenelle will be delighted – it's been years since we took in our last orphan, and the old manor could do with some younger blood running through it! Let me just conclude my business here with these fine goblinfolk, and I'll take you right away there." Mr. Flamel walked away surrounded by five of the goblins that had previously surrounded him. Two remained, whose sole job, it seemed, was to glare at Harry in an unfriendly manner.
"So, how long have you two been dead? I just got here a moment ago, myself. Arrived in the streets of London and came in through the Leaky Cauldron. So is the currency the same for dead people? I was kinda curious as to why everyone still used a bank, but I guess dead people want some things too, right? Otherwise this place might get a little boring." The goblins' expressions didn't change as Harry continued questioning them about this afterlife he'd apparently found himself in. They kept scowls on their faces that, with their pointy goblin teeth, made it look as though they were wolverines staring down Harry.
Finally, Flamel returned with his goblin escort that parted the crowd for the ancient man. "Ah, my young guest! Still here I see, despite the best efforts of those good goblins behind you! Well, let us head out, shall we? I shall Side-Along Apparate with you to my home. Just take my arm, there." He held out an arm that Harry grasped before he felt as though his entire body was compressed into a tube, squeezed impossibly more than he could ever imagine. Then, just as quickly, the sensation ended and instead of the inside of Gringott's, Harry was overlooking a lush valley replete with rolling hills and a lightly forested area slightly to his left. In front of him was a stately English manor with a bit of smoke coming from the chimney.
"Well, I think our little walk will give us a lovely chance to get to know each other a little better. After all, my wife Perenelle would be most upset if I couldn't properly introduce her to my guest, I believe. We can begin, I think, with names. I am Nicolas Flamel." Mr. Flamel extended his hand with a grin.
"Harry Potter." Harry said as he accepted it and shook hands with the legendary alchemist.
"A pleasure, Harry, and good to finally meet you formally. Now, unless I am much mistaken you have me at an advantage in that you have heard of me; your reaction inside Gringott's informed me of that much. So, to spare you a long – and I assure you, it is very long – story of my life, I am an alchemist, which is a rather pretentious old title and occupation. For the most part, these days I stay mostly at home, keeping to myself and only intruding on the world when requested by some of the friends I've made. So tell me a bit about yourself, Mr. Potter." Nicolas said amicably. 'Dumbledore must never have told him about my role in the destruction of his stone,' Harry thought to himself, growing disappointed that he felt he'd need to do so.
"Well, Mr. Flamel, I…I just wanted to apologize, first." Harry began.
"For knocking into me in Gringott's? Forget it, my dear boy, I've taken worse hits in the past and I'm sure I will again. 'Twas nothing." Flamel said, shaking off the apology.
"No, not for that…I'm kinda the one responsible for you being here." Flamel had a very questioning look on his face, as though he didn't understand, so Harry continued. "I mean, I didn't destroy the Stone or anything, but I was involved with the fight against Voldemort and so that's the reason that Dumbledore had to destroy it and why you and your wife are both dead now. Not that being dead seems to be so bad, I mean…truthfully its just like living, only with old people, I guess. I just wanted to say that, so if you want to rescind your invitation for supper, I understand completely." As Harry finished, the look of Flamel's face didn't seem to gain understanding, until he finally shook his head.
"I think, Harry, that you will be a most fascinating houseguest. Come, Perenelle awaits us." Flamel opened the door to his manor and called out, "Perenelle, dear, I have brought us a companion for supper!" A woman who held her years slightly better than Nicolas seemed to swept into the room, wearing an elegant dress similar in fashion to many that he'd seen while traversing London's streets.
"Hello, Nicolas dear. And just who is this strapping young man?" She said, smiling at Harry warmly. She was rather thin but not terribly so, with a ready smile very much like Mr. Flamel's that made Harry seem more welcome than he'd been in any place besides possibly Hogwarts.
"This, my dear," Nicolas said with a quick peck on Perenelle's cheek, "Is Harry Potter, who I met in Gringott's today. I think he will prove to be an interesting guest for us." Nicolas said cryptically.
"A Potter? Oh, lovely, my dear. Nicolas and I have known several Potters now, a lovely family, really. Nicolas, why don't you show our guest to the parlor while I tell Doris to finish up supper for us, then we can go to the dining room." Flamel led Harry over to a beautiful and very formal parlor; Aunt Petunia had always dreamed of a parlor like this to entertain guests, but Vernon had never had all that many important business associates to entertain, so their parlor didn't need to be nearly as exquisite, seeing use only rarely. Nicolas gestured to some type of recording quill with his wand, which sprung into action as he began another conversation with Harry.
"So, Mr. Potter, tell me again that story of how you are responsible for my death." He began pleasantly.
"Oh, right, I'm sure the details are missing…I guess I just figured you would've been told. Well, Dumbledore hid the Stone since Voldemort was after it so that he could get his body back. The defenses, however, were not adequate and he made his way to where it was kept. He was about to get ahold of it when I got there, bypassing the defenses myself, and we fought for awhile. I eventually got the stone out of the mirror and Dumbledore drove Voldemort away, but then he talked to you and you agreed that the Stone would be better off destroyed, so that you and your wife died. That was…four years ago, now. Back in the spring of '92." Harry explained. Nicolas looked quite pensive for a moment, then spoke.
"You'll forgive me if that sounds somewhat unreasonable to me, Harry. However, I must admit that I do not know a Dumbledore, I am equally unfamiliar with this Voldemort, my Stone is quite safe, and I assure you, Perenelle and I are quite alive, just as we have been for all of these past five hundred fifty years." Nicolas said. Harry's mouth dropped as he realized what Nicolas was implying. Harry was still alive, somehow!
"Now, Harry, let us begin with the assumption you made that I believe has altered your understanding of what is going on. I believe you think yourself to be deceased?" Harry nodded dumbly.
"Yes…I was hit by five Killing Curses. But…I suppose I've survived it before, when I was just a baby…" Harry said as he attempted to rationalize the situation before Flamel interrupted him.
"Another story I look forward to hearing at some point, I assure you. However, let us keep on track. Tell me about when you were hit by these curses. Surely it isn't commonplace where you are from to be attacked like that at such a young age…" Nicolas said, looking troubled.
"Oh, no. Well, for me it isn't that uncommon, really, but mostly it isn't. I was in the Department of Mysteries trying to save my godfather, but it turns out it was a trick by Voldemort – he's a Dark Lord, I guess I should say that, who's been after me since I was born – and his followers ended up chasing me through the other rooms in the Department of Mysteries. Three of us ended up in a room with a big hourglass in it, when a bunch of Death Eaters burst in. I think there were five or six of them. They had my friends tied down, but hit me with a curse that sent me flying into the hourglass, breaking it. The sand was still flying all around me when they all shot the Killing Curse at me. That's why I thought I was dead – I woke up in the streets of London and walked to the Leaky Cauldron to Diagon Alley and met you in Gringott's." Harry finally finished. Nicolas nodded thoughtfully at appropriate times and seemed to be deep in thought when Harry finished.
"I see, Harry. That is a very interesting tale, and one that I cannot help but believe, as so many elements of truth are involved and interweaved with such wild fantasy that it would be difficult to make up. I have a suspicion that I'd like to test and, should I prove right, it should surprise you. The year, Harry, is 1895, and it is early September. What was the last date you knew?" Nicolas questioned carefully.
"It was June, just after O.W.L.s, 1996." Harry said slowly, awe apparent in his voice.
"I see. It is as I suspected then, the wild magical energies in the sands of time were somehow charged with energy from the Killing Curses shot at you; their only method of discharging that energy involved sending you back in time, apparently just under 101 years in the past." Nicolas said calmly.
"What!? A hundred years in the past? That's crazy…this is a joke, right? I'm really dead, we're all dead, and dead spirits just like to play games?" Harry said somewhat hysterically.
"I'm afraid not, Harry. I am sorry." Nicolas said, apparently understanding Harry's reluctance to accept his situation.
"How do I get back? I need to save my friends – they're trapped with the Death Eaters. Do you know how to get me back home?" Harry asked hopefully. Nicolas smiled sadly before shaking his head.
"Alas, Harry, I do not. Normal Time-Turner use is for a few hours at a time, at most, and they are not meant to grant trips to the future. Your use, however, was far from normal, so there may be unpredictable effects, I am not sure." Nicolas said somewhat sadly to the boy.
"So that's it, then? I'm stuck in the past, while my friends are killed by Death Eaters in the middle of the Ministry of Magic?" Harry said, growing noticeably angrier. Nicolas merely regarded him calmly and a little curiously as he did so.
"Neither you nor I have any idea what happens to your friends, Harry, so you mustn't go making assumptions." The old man replied, still infuriatingly calm to a frustrated Harry.
"Well I guess we don't know much, do we? Where's Dumbledore, he always knows what to do!" Harry said, still irate.
"I believe I mentioned that unfortunately I have not met the acquaintance of anyone by the name of Dumbledore. Perhaps if you describe him, I might be of more assistance." Nicolas said; apparently the patience of a 600 year old knew few bounds.
"He's the greatest wizard of my time…he's ancient, really powerful, defeated Dark Lords – Voldemort was even scared of him. He's the Hogwarts Headmaster in my time. He's brilliant, too, and always knows everything. Um…Madam Marchbanks tested him for O.W.L.s and said that he was the most brilliant student she'd ever examined – maybe I could ask her." Harry said, thinking to himself everything he knew about Dumbledore, which was surprisingly little, considering Harry considered the man his mentor.
"You know, I have not been totally out of touch with Hogwarts these past years, and for some reason I believe that some of the teachers have spoken of a boy named Dumbledore who is considered something of a prodigy…Perenelle keeps up more with the teachers than I do, recently, perhaps she'd recall. Perenelle, dear! Do you recall the name of that prodigy at Hogwarts?" He called out the last part to Perenelle in the kitchen. Harry was confident, now. Dumbledore must have already accepted a teaching position or something, and would soon be Headmaster.
"Oh yes, Nicolas. My, my…Phineas was talking about him – most brilliant Transfiguration student he'd ever seen, and the boy was a Gryffindor! What was his name? Allert? Alan?" Perenelle said, wiping her hands on her apron as she stepped into the door frame.
"Albus?" Harry said eagerly, a light in his eyes.
"Albus! That's it, Albus Dumbledore! Everyone says the boy will go places. I hear that his little brother just started also, but haven't heard if he's brilliant as well. I suppose Albus would be a third or fourth year now – goodness how children grow these days!" She said as she returned to preparing supper. Harry's face fell and realization hit him like a punch from Dudley – he was alone. There was no brilliant mentor to swoop in and save him like Dumbledore had so frequently. Merlin, Dumbledore was younger than Harry was! He hadn't even impressed Madam Marchbanks with his O.W.L.s yet; he was just a brilliant young kid.
"Well," Harry said somewhat sourly, "I guess Dumbledore won't be much help, will he? Maybe if I come back in fifty years…"
"I'm sorry, Harry. I know this must be difficult for you, with legendary heroes like this Dumbledore being nothing but talented students, it seems." Nicolas seemed to change from serious to grinning in but a moment and concluded, "one thing I am sure of, however, is that knowledge of the future is a very dangerous thing, Harry. Extremely dangerous, particularly knowledge of one's own fate. That is why I shall not know what you told me of my own death. In fact, all I will know about you is that you are a time traveler from the future. Perenelle will be happy to Obliviate me of the particulars of what we have discussed regarding my future, and I ask that you please do not tell me any more specifics of the future. Nor should you tell anyone else even of your unique story, tempting as it may be. It is a unique burden for you to carry, Harry, but such is life." Perenelle took this opportunity to make her presence known as she carried out Nicolas' request of her, removing the story that Harry told him about his own death.
"Perenelle, my dear, let me fill you in. Harry is a resident time traveler, interestingly enough, and I must insist that he stay with us, at least temporarily. Harry, how does that deal sound?" Harry smiled weakly – this was all so much to absorb, after all, but nodded.
"Er, thanks. I don't really know what I'm going to do, so I appreciate the time to think about it."
"Do? Why dear, you must go to Hogwarts! After all, term only started a few days ago, I'm sure they'll excuse your absence to those first few classes. An education is very important, Harry!" Perenelle said sweetly to him. Nicolas nodded slightly.
"I agree, Harry, Hogwarts should be your ultimate destination. However, we do have a bit of a problem with that. O.W.L.s." Harry smiled then.
"I did alright on the tests, I think, so it shouldn't be a problem."
"You did not receive your results, Harry." Nicolas explained as though it should be obvious.
"Er, not yet…I imagine that they would have come in the summer." Nicolas nodded.
"Yes, that's correct. However, those results are required to enroll in N.E.W.T. level classes – your sixth year classes that you should be beginning. Therefore you cannot attend Hogwarts this year with classmates your own age. The O.W.L.s are administered once a year in June, so we will have to wait until next June for you to take those tests." Nicolas explained to Harry, who seemed quite disappointed.
"So I'll have to retake my fifth year?" Harry said in a whiny tone that seemed permanently a part of his voice this past year.
"That is one option. Another is that you could accept a generous offer from myself for private instruction in a quasi-apprenticeship from now until you are able to take the O.W.L.s, and then rejoin Hogwarts for N.E.W.T. instruction next September. Alternatively, you could strike out on your own – many students have only O.W.L.-level instruction, and I think you might be able to support yourself out on your own, though it would be difficult." Nicolas said; Harry, however, was stuck on the second option.
"You'd teach me? Brilliant, that sounds really great!" Harry said, excited – who knew how much could the ancient sorcerer teach him in a private setting.
"Indeed, with your unique background I think that might be the best option. Besides, I've not taken a real apprentice for years now, nor have we even taken in orphans. Though I think perhaps that should change. After all, to those whom much has been given, much is to be expected." Nicolas said wryly with a glance at Perenelle, who seemed to light up as she smiled.
"I do think you'll be a good influence on this old man, Harry. I've been trying to convince him for years now to take in a few more orphans, and here you come and he's convinced!" She swept him up in a hug, "Welcome to our home, dear. Now, let us all eat a proper supper, as a fine start to this little apprenticeship of yours." She said as she ushered them to the kitchen, where lay a fine spread or crusted honeyed ham that Harry eagerly devoured – it had been some time since his last meal at Hogwarts.
The rest of that night consisted of the logistics of his residence being fleshed out. House elves measured him and asked probing questions that he nervously answered; they seemed to him to have no correlation nor bearing on anything in particular, but the elves then led him to a room that, he admitted, was gorgeous and perfect with every amenity he could hope for. A four poster bed reminiscent of his own at Gryffindor tower, this one with sheets of stately blue that matched the other décor of the room. The room was fairly large, just a bit larger than Dudley's room at Privet Drive, and held a wardrobe, dresser, and a beautiful rug between them and his bed. One door led to his private bathroom, and the other an enormous private workshop – he supposed Flamel, Master Flamel now, would explain its use later.
Harry reached into the school robe he wore and took out one of most precious items with him, one of the few things he'd taken with him to past – the prophecy that Voldemort wanted so badly. Should he hear it? As Master Flamel had said, knowledge of the future is a dangerous thing; Harry's entire life had presumably been altered by this prophecy, if it was truly about he and Voldemort. Undecided, Harry put the orb on a shelf of his dresser for now. Harry finally said goodnight to the Flamels and retired for the evening, slightly more confident now that things weren't terribly wrong than he had been when he discovered himself on the streets of London.
"Good morning, Harry!" Harry opened his eyes to find a few slivers of sunlight creeping into his room through the shades. Nicolas Flamel was seated in a rocking chair in his room, smiling like the old alchemist seemed wont to do.
"Morning." Harry responded sleepily as he got out of bed and went to the wardrobe to put on something slightly more presentable than his pajamas.
"The elves have some breakfast ready for us, Harry. It is a big day, after all – the first of your apprenticeship! How exciting for you. I recall my own apprenticeship, the first one, mind you, years and years ago after I finished my O.W.L.s – that is the traditional time to begin an apprenticeship, of course – and the fond memories that have lasted until today that resulted from it. Now, you won't strictly be studying Alchemy while you're with me, Harry. Perhaps if you are interested we can slip some in, but instead I believe that we should study the traditional Hogwarts curriculum and ensure that you pass your O.W.L.s before limiting ourselves to Alchemy, if it can be called limiting." Flamel said as he and Harry walked to the dining room for breakfast.
"Er…I know a bit about alchemy, from school and all, but what exactly is it? I mean, besides making a stone so that you'll live forever." Harry asked tentatively.
"Alchemy has a long and glorious history. Truthfully, one can study nearly anything under the veil of alchemy, but I suppose that a proper, all encompassing definition would be that alchemy is the scientific study of things. So it is not, for instance, merely concerned with the creation of the Stone, though that occupied the thoughts of many obsessive alchemists through the years. We create many things, often magical artifacts, all sorts of potions," Harry's face dropped at this, "sometimes new spells…in that sense, studying Alchemy would be expanding your available topics beyond traditional Hogwarts work, rather than limiting it. In any case, we'll be reviewing Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Herbology, Runes, Arithmancy, some Magical Creatures, some Astronomy, some Magical History, a bit of Divination…perhaps even some Muggle Studies. Don't look so forlorn, there, Harry! After all, most of this will be enjoyable, practical work involving a multi-disciplinary approach. Besides, you already learned it all before, right?" Harry had a feeling that Hermione may have been inordinately excited by all of this, but it just sounded like a load of work to him. Thoughts of Hermione and his friends brought a pang of sadness to Harry when he realized he would never see them again. Breakfast was a typical English breakfast, with bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, and toast with orange juice; Harry noted the house elf Perenelle referred to as Doris ensured that he was getting quite enough of everything, and he swore once or twice that more eggs seemed to appear on his plate of their own volition.
"Now, Harry, we can head to one of the basement workshops where we can begin a survey of your knowledge." Nicolas smiled lightly – reflecting back on it, Harry thought it rather cruel in nature, but it could have been his own mind – before leading Harry downstairs. Nicolas then put the boy through his paces, forcing him to go through nearly the entire repertoire of spells taught at Hogwarts starting with Charms spells. Object manipulation, from a simple levitating spell to summoning and banishing spells, was focused on heavily, as were color changing charms, freezing charms, the spell to stop falling that Dumbledore used in Harry's second year that he barely remembered existed, silencing charms, unbreakable charms that Harry remembered well from Quidditch, and the Bubble Head charm, which Harry knew of and Flamel gave the instruction for. Transfiguration was next on Flamel's list, it seemed, as he was required to transfigure all manner of creatures small and slightly larger into a plethora of objects for the observing old man, not to mention Vanishing them all after he finished, which was the hardest part at first, but became noticeably easier at the end after all the practice. Flamel's favorite seemed to be the sequence at the end.
"Change this owl into a pair of swim trunks for me." Harry complied quickly, this was fairly simple. "My, how boring they've become in the future! Not to mention I wouldn't dare be clad in such a small pair of bathing trunks." The old man quickly modified the "future" swimsuit into one that suited him better. It was nearly twice the material of Harry's, but featured a flowery pattern, unlike the simple grey of Harry's pair. "Use a switching spell to switch the trunks and my robe." Harry handily left the wrinkled old man wearing the flowered swim trunks. "This sapling into a beach chair, next," he said as he conjured up a sapling. "Alright, now this mouse into a mint julep." Harry's mint julep must not have tasted quite right - likely because he'd never tried one before, nor had any idea what was in one - since Flamel had to alter it with his own wand before laying comfortably on the beach chair and grinning at an exhausted Harry.
"Defense next," he instructed with a smirk.
By the end of the day, Harry collapsed into bed from exhaustion. His defense repertoire went well, Flamel seemed to think, but the old man took copious notes on everything Harry did that day, and seemed to take even more during the Defense run-through, which Harry believed he excelled at. Following the Defense testing, Flamel brought out supplies for various Divination methods and told Harry to practice on one of the House Elves, Squeazy; after various interpretations, which Harry thought entirely too broad and vague, Flamel informed Harry that after Squeazy recovered from the fall from the stairs she was likely to suffer in the next week, she would be his personal elf. The elf seemed more than slightly terrified of this development.
The next morning, Harry awoke to a shaking bed – he supposed that was Flamel's form of an alarm clock – and a note on his door.
I am otherwise occupied for the entirety of today, but I do have a list of chores for you attached. Feel free to complete them and then enjoy the rest of the day! Further instructions for cleaning the stables and collecting herbs from the greenhouse are found outside those locations.
Clean the stables.
Collect herbs from Greenhouse.
Check on my brewing potions (must be completed at around 10 am, then come back at 2 pm).
Take the Peugeot out to Muggle Salcombe, the nearest town, and collect the following groceries. The house elves occasionally attract more attention than we like.
After breakfast, Harry decided to tackle the stables first; he had a few hours before needing to check on the potions, so he figured that caring for Flamel's horses would be a simple matter. Doris the house elf, the chef amongst them, directed him to the stables outside, where they promptly took his breath away. This was no mere barn with horses – though there were three beautiful riding horses. Instead, sections of the "stables" were more like tall roosts, where resided what must have been griffins, though Harry had never seen them before.
He entered the stables, then, taking note of the long list of animals and their care that Flamel had delineated on the instructions. Every animal needed some new type of care, it seemed. The horses needed to be watered and brushed, as did the Pegasi and the Abraxans (who only drank single malt whiskey, Harry remembered), griffins needed their claws trimmed and given fresh meat; hippogriffs, too, needed claw trimming, though they grazed with the horses and cows. The sheep and goats out grazing also needed to be brushed per Nicolas' instructions. Pig slop needed to be put in the trough for the pigs, as well as their water changed. Chickens in their coop needed fresh scratch to feed them, and various types of exotic birds, both magical and mundane, needed their enormous cages cleaned and food replaced. It all seemed a daunting task to Harry, until a postscript from Flamel reminded him.
P.S. You are a wizard, Harry. Be sure you use some magic.
After that, Harry charmed the dozens of brushes Flamel kept to brush those animals, went about Vanishing the waste; along with a few well-placed Scouring charms, it went a long way. A water-producing charm that Flamel taught him the previous day refilled the troughs – and allowed Harry to quickly refine his casting technique so that it was more of a stream than a spurt like it had been – and a refilling charm kept the pig slop full. Each Abraxan took almost a full barrel of whiskey to satiate, which Harry levitated easily and set before them. An old broomstick, which seemed impossibly pokey to Harry, used to his Firebolt, allowed him to fly up to the griffins' roost and carefully trim their claws with a Severing charm after throwing them pieces of meat to keep their razor sharp beaks occupied. He did enjoy the griffin cubs, who growled ferociously at the intruder. All in all, it was more informative than most of his Magical Creatures classes had been, even when Hagrid occasionally risked their lives on dangerous creatures like Flamel seemed to do.
After countless spells to clean and care for the animals, it was finally time for him to check on the potions, which turned out to be another daunting task. Each of the many brewing potions – Harry counted 10 simultaneously – seemed to have a different set of steps needed; Flamel indicated on his meticulous instructions for each just how and why Harry needed to do something. These were not the often elementary instructions from his Potions classes, either, but complex stirring patterns, often incorporated with sprinkling in a certain amount of an ingredient in throughout the stir. Harry went through the myriad instructions carefully, not wanting to disturb his Masters' work. Also, Flamel clearly indicated just how destructive the errors Harry might make could be, so he expected that a bit of caution was a good thing in this instance.
The final potion, however, was the most interesting to him, as Flamel called for Harry to drop exactly five drops of his own blood into the potion. Harry had heard of dragon's blood as a potions ingredient, though he'd never used it, but human blood had only ever been used once in front of Harry, and he sincerely hoped that a ritual similar to Voldemort's resurrection was not happening any time soon. Trusting the seemingly kindly old man, however, and reminding himself to inquire about the potion, Harry warily completed the instructions for that potion, which seemed even more intricately complex than the others. After an hour and a half of potion-making, Harry was finally finished and ready to move on to the next task set to him before he was waylaid by Doris the house elf.
"Master Harry must take time for dinner, now." She said, hands on her hips as though daring him to object. Flamel obviously treated his elves well enough that they had gained some type of authority over humans; perhaps it was only because he was an apprentice that they, too, felt comfortable ordering him around. He took only fifteen minutes to eat, since he needed to work in the greenhouse before another round of potions tending.
Going into the greenhouse, he saw that it was about the size of one of Hogwarts' four. This one, however, had plants that he recognized as coming from the most dangerous of the Hogwarts' greenhouses right alongside harmless muggle species. Squeezing bubotuber pus with the dragonhide gloves reminded him of his time preparing for the Triwizard Tournament, though this time it seemed a bit of a growth spurt was a good thing – he was definitely able to squeeze more pus out of the black, slug-like creatures than he had in his fourth year. Unlike in his O.W.L. practical, he avoided a bite from the Fanged Geranium that Flamel kept as he added some dragon dung to the surrounding dirt. He remembered the Screechsnap plant from this past year's Herbology class, and was careful to avoid over-fertilizing the semi-sentient plant.
He was less successful avoiding the stinksap released from his clumsy handling of the Mimbulus mimbletonia that sprayed all over his shirt and left arm. After he looked up a "Tergeo" spell in one of Flamel's handy spellbooks strewn throughout the manor, he managed to siphon off the smelly sap, which numerous Scourgify spells failed to entirely remove. A narrow escape from the Venomous Tentacula rounded out his trip to the greenhouses, so it was a Harry in less than entirely bright spirits that stormed into the manor house down to finish the next round of Potions steps.
Another two hours of mixing, stirring, and adding pinches of this and that to boiling cauldrons – not to mention adjusting the heat on each of those cauldrons – and Harry emerged from the sublevel of the manor to find Nicolas and Perenelle returned from their day out.
"Ah, Harry, I see you were working on the Potions ingredients just as I asked. Wonderful. How was your spare time today?" Harry made an incredulous face.
"Spare time? When was I supposed to have that?" He asked the old man. Nicolas merely smiled at him.
"Well, I didn't imagine the animals took all that much time. You awoke at six this morning, so if you finished that by seven, maybe eight at the latest, and then went to work in the greenhouses, you would have completed the first round of potions, took dinner afterwards, no doubt…then a quick grocery trip into town and back here to finish the potions and I daresay you'd have had at least an hour just now, one or two in the morning, and another one at least this afternoon. So four hours of free time to relax." Harry grew slightly agitated at the man's unflappable chipper attitude.
"Bloody hell! Working in the barn took me all morning until I had to run back and work on those blasted potions. I had no idea how to do most of those instructions, so that took me about two hours. The house elves force fed me a quick meal and then I had to go to work in the greenhouses – I guess that wasn't terrible, even if I did get covered in stinksap and have to look up a spell to remove it – and then I came back and just finished the second batch of potion-making. I haven't even run into town…I figured from your note that you'd have been gone until late this evening, and I might get that time to relax!" Harry said in a raised voice. Nicolas shook his head at the boy's tone; before Harry knew what was happening, what must have been a large barrel of water dropped on his head, drenching him in icy water.
"Ah! What the hell!" He shouted angrily. Nicolas raised an eyebrow.
"Young man, perhaps that type of disrespectful tone and language are commonplace in the future – frankly I don't know and don't care to. However as your current Master, you will always treat me with the utmost respect. You will also not use that type of language, and certainly not in front of Perenelle. Now, since this was your first offense, I think that little soaking is sufficient punishment, along with your sincerest of apologies and a guarantee against future behavior." Harry, still dripping, forced himself to calm down – after all, Nicolas had been nothing but extraordinary charitable towards him, and didn't deserve Harry's anger at himself.
"I am sorry, Master Flamel. I was frustrated at how long it took me to perform the tasks you set me in comparison to what you seemed to expect, along with some unfortunate happenstances in the greenhouse that left me in a stormy mood. I shan't behave nor talk like that again." Harry said contritely.
"Excellent. Your frustration was, perhaps, somewhat well-founded; after all, I just left you to mostly figure things out on your own, and that can be difficult to one used to a Hogwarts-type instruction. And if you can so quickly bury your anger, perhaps you might not be hopeless at Occlumency, and we can add that to our list of topics in which you need instruction." Nicolas said, his smile returning.
"My last Occlumency instructor didn't seem to think I'd ever accomplish it…" Harry said with a bit of a snort.
"Oh, you've had prior instruction? Marvelous. I'm sure you'll find me a more able teacher than your previous instructor, meaning no disrespect to him, of course. In either case, why don't you take that quick grocery trip into town while I inspect your work for the day?" Nicolas said, leaving Harry dripping. He remembered learning a Drought charm before the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, and managed to leave himself only slightly damp before setting out in Flamel's automobile, one of the original Peugeot models, Harry thought, down the road to Salcombe, the muggle town. A few groceries later – certainly much less than the weekly Dursley trip required – and he was back on the road, once more sporting goggles that he certainly thought made him look rather ridiculous, but were required in the open vehicle. He put the bags away, quickly figuring out where things went in the kitchen with the help of the house elves, and met Flamel in the family room of the manor.
"Harry, you did a fine job on your tasks today; it is good that you can demonstrate some independent thought and accomplish tasks like that – all too often that is lacking in those who have a Hogwarts education. Let's begin in the basement, shall we?" Harry followed Nicolas down the stairs, where Nicolas began a thorough critique of Harry's work; actually, he made Harry critique his own work and corrected him when he was slightly incorrect.
"Yes, Harry, that is essentially correct; you needed to add that powder as you finished each turn of that stirring pattern for maximum efficacy. Now, we'll just label that as 'Needs 1.5x dose', and we should be all set." The only potion he'd gotten entirely right, much to the pleasure of Flamel, was the difficult potion on the end that required his blood.
"Ah yes…a tricky little recipe, isn't it? Well, that one actually is special, and since you did so well on it, go ahead and drink it up." Harry looked skeptical, but drank down the potion as instructed. It was just as disgusting as every potion he'd ever drank, predictably.
"And that, Harry, is the first potion among these that most would consider an alchemical elixir. Your homework assignment is to take that recipe and figure out the effects of the potion – I think it will be a most suitable little project for you. Now, let's move on to the stables."
Harry had done a fine job on most of the animals – Flamel was even impressed at how well the griffins and hippogriffs seemed to take to him – but Harry did fail to perform several tasks that Flamel thought were rather crucial.
"Yes, Harry, cows and goats can be milked frequently; we usually use a twice a day milking schedule. The sheep should also be sheared once a day, because that wool is quite valuable."
"But they don't regrow wool that quickly!" Harry said as though Flamel were mistaken.
"You know, Harry, there is this wonderful little thing called magic…" Harry felt rather dumb as Flamel continued, "and a simple hair growth charm means that we could theoretically have a constant supply. I like to keep it to once a day, though. Now, those Abraxans look well-fed, and I can smell that you used the proper whiskey for them, they're quite particular about it…" The old man continued to go through Harry's every action in the barn, and in general was quite pleased with his performance. He also approved Harry's use of the charmed brushes; he said that with enough practice, Harry should be able to charm all of them simultaneously so that it takes much less time than it had previously. The two then headed to the greenhouses. This work was the most familiar to Harry, and so it only took a few cursory glances around for Flamel to declare it acceptable and they retired back to the house.
"All in all, a fine job, as I said previously, Harry. However, we do have to do something about those cows being milked regularly. Any ideas?" Flamel asked conversationally before supper was to be served.
"Er…can we ask an elf to do it? Otherwise you'd need hands or something…" Harry began slowly.
"If you are a pureblood with no knowledge of alchemy, then possibly your solution works. However, you are soon to be neither. The solution is that we will create a magical item that we enchant to perform that job for us. To that end, you will need some books for research purposes." Several books zoomed across the room at Flamel's casual, and silent, wand wave – Harry was very interested in how casually he performed his magic – and he handed them to Harry to peruse.
"So, Harry, what tasks do we need this object to perform; be sure to be specific." Flamel conjured up a pen and parchment for Harry to write on, and so he began, "We need it to milk the cow. So…a massaging charm of some kind. Um…we need it to do it automatically twice a day – every twelve hours?" At Flamel's nod, he continued, "and then it needs to put the milk where we want it." Flamel smiled.
"That's correct, Harry. So, here's your first little introduction to runes, then. We need a rune to tie that massaging charm to – I'll go ahead and recommend Jera, the rune of good harvest, for that as appropriate. To power that we'll need two power runes set up in a series, not in parallel, so that the first charge of the day draws from the first power rune, and the second one draws from the second power rune. Those will recharge daily. Your Vanishing charm is a good idea, we can vanish the milk immediately to a tank; I'd recommend a rune that perhaps deals with transportation for that; link that with a bit more potent of a power rune to keep it constantly going. Finally, we'll throw in a charm for comfort…link that with the Vanishing charm power rune and we're all set. It's as simple as that, Harry, a magical object for you to craft. I'd recommend using some basic reshaping transfiguration to make it the proper shape and all…the spell is here in this old book on blacksmithing." Another book came flying from the library to sit on Harry's pile and Flamel smiled at him, "Well, between your little potions research and this, I think you have enough to occupy you for tonight! Come on to supper, Harry, I believe Perenelle prepared a lovely French desert for us – she does tend to spoil my apprentices…"
Harry's schedule that day was fairly indicative of the rest of the week, in fact. Each morning he'd be shaken awake, then head for the stables after breakfast to perform those similar tasks set to him by Flamel; just as Flamel said, the practice with charming quickly meant that he was setting first a dozen and then the entire brush collection to work simultaneously. The sheep were quickly sheared and then their wool regrown, the griffins trimmed when they needed it – which was quite a bit more often than the griffins thought necessary, judging by their fussiness – the Abraxans given their whiskey and the chickens their scratch mostly through magic – Harry could now merely Vanish the feed to the proper stalls after some practice that led to more than a few messes. His time in the stables cut down to only a single hour, and most of that spent in the griffin aerie, he similarly was speeding through the greenhouses by the end of the week. The plants were trimmed for replacement potions ingredients when appropriate, but mostly it was just picking the few weeds hardy enough to survive close proximity to the Venomous Tentacula, which greatly enjoyed not only sneaking around the greenhouse dirt to attack any wayward bugs, but stealthily attacking the unsuspecting weeds for its own nourishment. Flamel's specimen seemed to have the attitude of the Weasley twins in mischievousness.
Flamel was mostly around the week for more explicit potions instructions downstairs. Unlike how Harry was taught in Snape's class, Flamel carefully used magic to charm stirring rods into the impossibly intricate patterns needed for his potions; Flamel showed Harry how to safely do so, but Harry was still unable to create a pattern more complex than one counterclockwise stir for every three clockwise stirs. Flamel led Harry through each of the many potions he brewed each day, and Harry found himself a surprisingly gifted student; he blamed Snape's poor instruction on never realizing this before. Flamel's many potions, such as the Draught of Living Death and the O.W.L. level Draught of Peace – both donated to St. Mungo's daily – made Harry far more familiar with the potions than Snape's lessons, and were supplemented by Flamel's constant chatter about the importance of hellebore leaves in the Draught of Peace while the more potent root powder was crucial to an Elixir of Invisibility, a potion beyond N.E.W.T. levels that Flamel said Harry would be brewing by the Yule holidays.
His two projects were also coming along; the cow milking device only took him most of the first night and following day to get a prototype together. A bit of advice from Flamel and a correction of one rune, copied copiously from the texts Flamel had Summoned, and They fit the second attempt on the cow with success. He made three more devices for the other cows the following day – it was much easier once he knew what he was doing from the first prototype and had mastered the shaping spells, so it went quickly. The potion, however, was the trickiest assignment. The ingredients were many and varied, and the instructions far more complicated than even the N.E.W.T. level Draught of Living Death, which was far beyond anything Harry had brewed at Hogwarts. Use of Flamel's well-stocked library, particularly the section on blood alchemy that detailed use of such a small amount of blood in a potion (whose effect, Harry learned, was to increase potency and extend the duration of effects to permanency when the potion was used by that wizard), led him to believe that the potion was somewhat related to a Strengthening Solution, which was an O.W.L. level potion that Harry messed up terribly the previous year in class. He was still deducing the exact effects of the potion, however, when Flamel had a surprise in store for him at the end of the week.
"Yes, young Elwood, that is correct, we can all do special things." Harry heard as Flamel came in; Harry had been in the library all evening researching the possible effects of falcon retinal fluid that was a very rare ingredient in the potion. "Yes, with that wand I bought you, you can do magic just as you witnessed me perform, I promise. Harry! Do come out of that library, Harry, I have someone for you to meet!" Flamel said, calling into the library. Harry put aside the book and rubbed his eyes slightly before heading towards the Alchemist. Beside the old man was a young boy not old enough for Hogwarts, possibly around eight or nine.
"Harry, this is Elwood Windsor, a new ward of the manor. Elwood, this is Harry, we took him in a week ago and he'll be showing you some of the new magic you'll be learning." Harry's eyebrow raised slightly at this, but he didn't object; after all, he had enjoyed teaching the D.A.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Harry," Elwood said, obviously trying his hardest to be polite. Harry shook the offered hand and replied, "Likewise, Elwood."
"Now, Elwood, why don't you hurry along to Perenelle while I talk with Harry. There you go, lad." Nicolas watched the boy leave with a grin, "Ah, the antics of children. You'll never find something greater than the pleasure of watching them grow – I know I haven't in all my years. Now, I believe we must speak about duties for you and Elwood. Perenelle will begin his instruction in basic little charms, and he'll help her out in the greenhouse – Perenelle loves gardening, so that is fine. However, you will still be responsible for the more dangerous plants, such as the Tentacula and the Fanged Geraniums, the Mandrakes. I'd also like you to instruct Elwood in the care of some of the animals; perhaps refilling charms for the pig slop and water troughs, some cleaning charms on the stalls, that kind of thing. You'll still be charming all of the brushes each morning and trimming the griffins; the somewhat dangerous tasks he'll take over eventually, I think, but we'll see how it goes. Once he becomes comfortable with everything and doesn't need your supervision, probably next week or so, then you'll spend some of your time at the Reserve tending those animals." Flamel said easily.
"What's the Reserve?" Harry asked questioningly – he'd never seen it on the property before. Flamel just smiled in response, and told him to continue his potions work.
"Alright, Elwood, try that levitation spell again. Don't forget to flick your wand this time." Harry said for the umpteenth time to the little boy. He'd forgotten how long it had taken his classmates to master even that simple spell all those years ago. The boy was doing well, for the most part, though. He had particularly taken to the creatures he'd formerly believed mythical, and was constantly following Harry to see the Abraxans or pegasi, begging Harry to fly the boy up to see the griffin cubs, which he affectionately named Ripper and Claws, and watching the magical birds in their cages. Finally, Elwood got the Levitation spell correct and Harry watched approvingly as the Abraxan whiskey barrel was put into the cage properly under Elwood's own power.
"Very good. Don't forget to clean out the cage while they're drinking it." Harry said. With a glance outside, Harry cancelled the charmed brushes and a muttered "Accio" had them all zooming towards their bucket in front of him as he made his way towards the potions laboratory.
It had been a week since Elwood arrived, and the boy had taken eagerly to the chores that were once Harry's responsibility, leaving Harry with more time for Flamel to assign projects and research topics. He'd finally figured out the effects of Flamel's mysterious blood potion when its effects on him became more apparent. It acted as a bit of a Strengthening Solution, Engorgement Potion, Wit-Sharpening Potion, and even made his eyesight razor sharp. Before he deciphered the effects, Flamel had been correcting his glasses at night so that he failed to notice, but after he turned in the project, Flamel informed him about all of the effects. Apparently it was very commonplace in ages past for Muggleborn wizards to have health deficits due to poor nutrition in childhood, while wizards usually had more than enough food thanks to replicating charms and refilling charms, so an alchemist ancient even to Nicolas designed the recipe to correct the deficit. Nicolas had improved the potion significantly as his Masterpiece in Alchemy, and so it was that Harry found himself no longer struggling as much to hold the griffins still while he clipped their claws, and he'd even had to lengthen the robes he'd gotten a bit before the house elves provided a new wardrobe for him. It wasn't a significant change – he was still shorter than Ron and he was by no means stronger than a muggle bodybuilder like Dudley had used to pretend to be – but it was noticeable to Harry himself.
After that project was finished, Harry began magically modifying the stables with runic designs like he had the cow milking devices on Flamel's instructions – the large stalls all had permanent cleaning charms on them, the water troughs refilled and were constantly cleaned, and the pig sty, despite the pigs' best efforts, was fairly immaculate. That last bit had been Harry's most recent, and difficult, challenge. It required three cleaning runes and six total power runes to keep up with the pigs' mess, and Harry's hand was rather sore from all the carving with the hammer and chisel by the end of that session. He was, however, particularly proficient in carving power runes now, much less simply drawing them on a page like was usual in the Hogwarts Ancient Runes class. Arithmancy was the only class that he had yet to make significant breakthroughs under Flamel's instruction; Harry was not yet to a point where he could do any projects involving the complicated topic, and that seemed to be how he learned best so far during his apprenticeship. Despite the slow progress, however, Flamel kept him busy with assignments that required him to page through the basic Arithmancy book he'd been provided with and calculate the required formulas.
Another important skill that Flamel had began teaching Harry the previous day was Apparition, which Flamel assured Harry was crucial to continuing his apprenticeship duties, though he wouldn't quite reveal just why. Flamel believed that the Ministry method was fairly ridiculous, and explained it to Harry in simpler terms.
"You focus on the destination, imagine yourself there. Then, you will your atoms to be there in a somewhat forceful manner. You'll get the hang of it, just focus." He had said simply, leaving Harry to stubbornly will himself across the yard. Harry remembered that he had once ended up atop the roof at primary school when being chased by Dudley, and tried to recreate that happening as he finally began to Apparate across the grounds of the manor with loud 'crack's. Nicolas seemed pleased that Harry had yet to splinch himself – it was the sign of a determined mind, apparently, and another sign that boded well for future Occlumency lesson success.
"Elwood looks to be doing a fine job at the stables, Harry." Flamel said as Harry returned from the younger boy's recent success with the Levitation charm. Harry looked up from the potion he'd been completing for St. Mungo's – apparently they had a rash of injuries lately and needed a large supply of Blood Replenishing Potions; Harry remembered how crucial that potion had been to save Mr. Weasley the past year, so he tried particularly hard to get it right. This was his fourth potion, and each of the first three had been acceptable for Flamel and the hospital, so he was beginning to be much more confident in these particular instructions.
"Yeah, he got the Levitation charm working today and managed to feed the Abraxans their whiskey. He's doing pretty well, a lot better than I thought was possible for such a young kid." Harry said honestly. And it was true, too, since he'd certainly not been at that level even after a week's instruction at Hogwarts.
"One of the benefits of being around capable adult wizards, I think. In either case, it is time to expand your duties, I believe. I mentioned working at the Reserve last week? Come along, I'll Side-Along Apparate you this first time so you know where it is." Nicolas and Harry popped away quietly and emerged in a picturesque virgin forest roped off by three slender golden chains that apparently acted as fencing.