Warnings and Disclaimers: I hereby dedicate this chapter to OptimisticChic! Oh, and watch out for the mythology lecture in the last bit.
Great Britain, 1991 A.D.
Harry could never have made friends with Draco Malfoy. Because of his obvious riches, and the equally obvious way he had been raised to them, the blond boy had an air, almost a fugue about him of arrogance and better-than-thou. It exuded from his pores and the brash tilt to his chin, from the silky clothes he wore, and from the sneer he gave the Madam who ran the clothing shop.
No, Harry could never be friends, if that was the correct term, with someone who dared to think they were above him. He'd had enough of that from the Dursleys, who expressed it rather poorly in comparison but thought so nonetheless; Harry knew deep in his heart of hearts that he was better than they were, and he rather thought he was better than this little ponce as well. Even in his overlarge hand-me-downs and broken glasses. It was just a feeling, really, but it was one he couldn't ignore.
Not to say that Harry would spurn the boy, and make an enemy of him. If that arrogance were to vanish, Draco Malfoy would have made a perfectly suitable, even desirable friend. Money talked, after all, and in the hands of friends and allies it spoke well of you indeed. Until then, though, Harry would keep his distance.
Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger didn't think they were above him.
Ron was all too aware of Harry's scar, and the understated (or even unstated) wealth of his friend, but seemed grateful not to have that wealth thrown in his face. Harry wished he could have bought some new clothing for himself besides robes, but now he was glad that he'd still been wearing the hand-me-downs on the train to Hogwarts. Ron might have resented him otherwise, and with three of the boy's older brothers still attending the school, that could have made things unpleasant for Harry.
Hermione was a Muggleborn in a school full of witches and wizards. Intellectually, she had accepted that she was a witch, and her work in classes, all of her classes, was without parallel. But even to the most open mind, it takes time to accept such a radical change, and most of the students around her had grown up knowing exactly what they were and what it meant to the world. Deep within, she still felt out of place, and so she strove to both excel and to fit in, which were in practice mutually exclusive concepts. Harry knew what a shock finding out about magic was, and sympathized, but he had always known that he was strange. Continuing to not fit the norm was no hardship for him. And, while Hermione could act superior at times when she nagged him to do his work, he knew that she didn't truly believe herself to be superior, and so she was his friend.
The humble pureblood, the brilliant Muggleborn, and the Boy-Who-Lived. Together, they formed a trio that, in the near future, he could see ruling Gryffindor House. If they wanted to, that was. Harry didn't have any plans or desires in that direction, but the option and the power was there if he ever decided that he did. And after living powerless with the Dursleys, that option was a security blanket that kept him calm and far more pleasant than he had ever been in Little Whinging.
It was especially nice because Gryffindor House was, in many ways, the leading house at Hogwarts. Slytherin had the ambition, Ravenclaw had the smarts, and Hufflepuff had the dedication, but Gryffindor had the flash. Gryffindor was where the Wizarding World first looked for its heroes and its leaders. Harry was glad he'd been able to convince the Sorting Hat to place him there, instead of in Slytherin, though he thought the Hat might be mad at him for it. He would have inevitably come into conflict with the most influential purebloods in the school, simply on the basis of his halfblooded status. As a Gryffindor, of course, he was still in conflict with some of those purebloods, but at least now it wasn't personal.
Later on, he rather thought that might be important.
Harry didn't hate Professor Snape. Not the way that his fellow students thought, anyway. The verbal abuse didn't bother someone used to the Dursleys, and the points taken were annoying, but not important in themselves. Harry hated the professor's ignorance. It was obvious that Snape respected power. Harry knew he had power, or would, and he hated that the professor didn't see it, didn't acknowledge even the possibility that it was there.
He didn't want the professor to like him, but someday, whether Snape wanted to or not, he would respect Harry. Harry just wondered if, and how much, he would have to make the professor hurt before that would happen.
It hurt. Oh, but it hurt. It felt like someone had taken a saw, perhaps a rusty one, and was slowly cutting his head vertically in two, following a path right between his eyes. Harry wasn't sure how he wasn't screaming- maybe it was the teeth-baring rictus of pain that kept his jaw locked and any sound behind those teeth.
The pain was worth it, though, because Professor Quirrell was doing enough screaming for the both of them. His skin bubbled around the fingers Harry had wrapped around his face, and the boy thought he could feel bone through the burns on Quirrell's hands, which had seized his wrists to try and pry them away. The face on the back of the professor's head was screaming now, too, though that might have been in anger.
It was a detached part of Harry's mind that was noticing these things. The same part of his mind that had noticed the Philosopher's Stone lying on the stone step behind him, temporarily forgotten. That noticed cracks spider-webbing their way across the Mirror of Erised on the other side of the room. That noticed a new emotion bubbling its way up from deep inside his chest.
After nearly a year of classes, Professor Quirrell taught Harry Potter his most important lesson that night. Quirrell had declared himself Harry's enemy, through no provocation on the boy's part. Now Harry was killing him, or at least seriously maiming him, and he could feel no guilt about that. Indeed, the grimace on his face was formed as much from another feeling, as it was from pain. Had Ron or Hermione, or Professor Dumbledore, been there to see it, they would never have looked at him the same way again.
Quirrell taught Harry to exult in the destruction of his enemies. It was a lesson that Harry never forgot.
Colorado Springs, U.S.A, February 2000 A.D.
Daniel was drunk.
Well, maybe not drunk, Jack conceded as he watched the archaeologist stare into the fire, but he was definitely past tipsy. Which was both good and bad. Good, in that Jack had gotten him to drink enough to get to that point. Bad, in that he'd really been hoping to get Daniel shit-faced drunk so that Daniel would have a nice little meltdown in a nice safe place, instead of exploding messily at some later date. Jack was tired of watching his friend draw deeper and deeper into himself, refusing to let anyone see how much he had to be hurting.
For God's sake, Daniel had had to give up his son. And, as far as Jack could tell, he hadn't spoken to a single person about it in the week since. He wasn't sure if he was the one that Daniel ought to be talking to- God knew their friendship still hadn't really recovered from that damned undercover op with the NID- but Jack didn't think there was anyone else. He had to try.
"Something in there interesting, Daniel?" he asked abruptly, shattering the silence that had built.
He expected the other man to jump, but apparently Daniel was lubricated enough that a few seconds passed before he blinked and seemed to notice that Jack had said anything. "Not particularly, Jack," he murmured, still not taking his eyes from the flames. "Just pondering the differences between accepted mythology and reality. Or maybe the historical distortion of myths and legends."
That pulled Jack up short as neatly as a leash would have. He didn't much care for the touchy-feely stuff, but he'd have been willing to grin and bear it for his best friend's sake. An anthropological lecture was an entirely different matter. He heard plenty of those during working hours. But at least Danny was finally talking…
"What do you mean?" And no, asking that was nothing like pulling teeth.
Daniel's brow was furrowed, and he was rolling the slowly-warming beer bottle between his palms. And he still hadn't looked at Jack. Instead his eyes skittered over the room. "I spent years studying the Egyptian myths, Jack. Hell, I even grew up listening to them. I know all the versions, all the variations that each has, and then we started going through the Stargate and I got to see them in action. Some of them were the same, and that's helped us. But some of them were so very different that I can't understand how history got it so wrong." He gestured absently. "Even with five or six thousand years between then and now."
Well, discussing the Goa'uld was definitely a step in the right direction… "A cover-up, maybe?" the colonel suggested, leaning back into the couch. "We've already seen how much the snakes'll lie to save face."
Daniel nodded, finally turning and moving over to the other end of the couch. "I could see that in a lot of cases, but most of them seem to be pretty proud of their lineage. Why would one want to change that?"
"You're thinking of a specific one, then." Jack reached over and grabbed Daniel's warm beer, receiving no protest, and headed off to the kitchen. "Which one is it?" he called over his shoulder, fetching two fresh beers from the fridge and popping their caps on the edge of the counter. One of Daniel's lectures had to be easier to listen to when you weren't sober, right?
"Heru-ur is the offspring of Ra and Hathor, according to Teal'c. Which is strange, because Heru-ur is just another name for the god Horus, and while there is an argument that Horus was birthed by Hathor, most of our legends claim him as the son of Isis and Osiris." Jack had to practically shove a cold one into Daniel's chest to get him to claim it. Whatever attractions lay in getting plastered for the man had been easily overcome by an archaeological puzzle. "And occasionally married to Hathor, come to that."
Jack shrugged, settling down again. "Guess that would kind of prevent the whole 'son of Hathor' thing, wouldn't it?"
For the first time in what felt like hours, Daniel looked directly at Jack. And he looked… amused? "These are the Egyptian gods we're talking about here, Jack. It wouldn't prevent anything of the sort."
Ugh. He really, really hadn't needed to know that. The colonel made sure his look in return said so quite clearly, and Daniel had the gall to smirk at him from behind his beer.
Well, if the geek was going to play it like that, Jack was going to not listen. He slipped into the daze he usually spent briefings in, one that let him pick up on only the important bits without having to actually pay attention. It could have been an hour later that he came out of it with the realization that Daniel had finally stopped talking, and was now staring into the fire again from his seat on the couch. And frowning.
…Nah, twenty minutes at most, Jack corrected, checking the level of the beer in his hand. He was a pretty steady drinker.
"What's got you so quiet?" he asked, taking another swig.
Daniel shrugged a shoulder. "Just… you know me. Just another one of my whacky ideas with little to no basis in reality."
Jack snorted. "What, like the pyramids being built by aliens? Some wild, whacky theory that one turned out to be." Daniel shot him something that came very close to a real smile, and emboldened by his success, Jack sat up. "So, hit me. What's this one about?"
"Well, it's…" Daniel took a moment to gather his thoughts. "The Heru-ur we know doesn't fit with what we would seem to know about Horus. But, in Ancient Egypt, what we refer to as Horus today was actually a multitude of gods that eventually merged into Horus. That happens with a lot of pantheons, actually, as time goes by- the Romans adopted several of the Greek gods and renamed them, and so on. But even with the so-called 'modern' Horus, historians will often divide him into two aspects, referred to as 'Horus the Younger' and 'Horus the Elder'."
Another potential snake. Wonderful. "If there's two, which one is the Goa'uld we've met, then?"
Daniel abandoned his beer on the coffee table as he rose, this time to pace as he gestured. "Well, 'Heru-ur' most directly translates to 'Horus the Great', which is almost without fail associated with Horus the Elder. The Elder is more often the Sun God, though not to be confused with Ra, and is a god of war and victory as well."
Jack nodded. "That sounds like the kind of god a Goa'uld would claim to be."
"Yes, it's fairly typical of their propaganda, isn't it? And given how different the mythos is around Horus the Younger, I'm not sure that one was a Goa'uld at all. Tok'ra, maybe. I'll have to ask General Carter the next time we see him. Or maybe Teal'c will know…" Daniel paused again in front of the fireplace, frowning at the wall.
Jack couldn't help but to look skeptical. "What, he was… nice?" Even if they were the "good guys" in comparison to the Goa'uld, the Tok'ra were still pretty obnoxious bastards.
Daniel apparently didn't notice his disbelief, as he nodded his head, turning back to Jack. "Well, yes. Horus the Younger, or the Child. Heru-p-khart, falcon-the-child or the child-on-high. Or sometimes he was Neferhor, the 'Good Horus'. He was represented as a youth with dark hair, usually wearing the two crowns of Egypt. He was the dawn, the rising sun, and today is considered the original form of Horus." The archaeologist grinned at Jack. "One of his specific incarnations was as the god Shed, which was recorded during the Amarna period. Have I ever mentioned the Amarna period to you, Jack? It has to be the strangest period of Egyptian history. I mean, between Akenaten essentially rewriting the official religion of Egypt, and the abrupt change in art styles until they were hardly related to the previous ones-"
"Ah! Daniel, you're getting off-topic," Jack warned. From the grin still lingering on his friend's face, the beers were finally kicking all the way in. "Sit. Stay. You were talking about the guy named after the place you stick your gardening tools."
For once Daniel did as ordered, though he scowled at Jack as he did. "Don't say that, Jack. You'd like Shed. His name meant 'illuminated', and he was a savior god. He embodied the very concept of salvation. Art usually shows him slaying lions, crocodiles and snakes."
Jack necked back the last of his beer, and after a moment, decided against getting another one. From the look of things, the guy was just getting to the point of alcohol-induced sleepiness, and he'd much rather Daniel was able to make it to the guest room under his own power. Heh. Lightweight. "Okay, so maybe the kid's not so bad. I can't say I care too much for the older one, though."
Daniel nodded. "Me either." He frowned down at his hands. "I'd much rather he be the Younger."
It wasn't obvious, but there was a definite feeling to the air that the conversation had jumped tracks, ever so slightly. "What do you mean?" Jack asked. He who?
Minutes passed before there was a reply. Jack had been about ready to concede victory and usher them both off to bed, and almost jumped when Daniel finally spoke. "Horus had another name, you know. Harcesis."
Jack stared at him, at last understanding what had prompted the entire conversation to begin with. "…Yeah. I hope he turns out to be the Younger, too."
Neither said another word as Jack helped his friend to bed.
A/N: First, as stated at the top, this chapter is dedicated to OptimisticChic, whose review managed to inspire the HP muse into knocking out the first part of this chapter in the course of about two hours. Then, of course, Jack and Daniel decided to balk at the gate.
I've taken some serious liberties with Egyptian mythology, here. Most of the basic facts are correct, and even some of the relationships. I played connect-the-dots in ways that they don't really go, however. Oh, and the Amarna period truly is strange. Take a look at the artwork from it, and ask yourself what it reminds you of. Which may or may not be a spoiler, we'll see. Either way, though, the second part of this chapter is intended as a very important lead-in to Harry's future. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on it, dear readers.
Not-a-story-note-but-important: Something is up with my review/pm reply system. Most of the time I get error messages when I try to reply to folks. So to those who have sent pms, yes, I got them but was unable to reply. I've only had one pm come back to me confirming a successful reply, in fact.
28 October 2009