Harry bit his lip as he successfully transferred his last bits of homework onto his parchment. He stretched his tired arms but swiftly pulled them down as Madam Pince raised her duster at him from a distance.
"Goodness, your writing is abysmal," Hermione Granger gave his homework a critical look over before turning back to her own work. They were sitting in the library under the cathedral like roof, trying to finish their charms homework.
"Thanks, Hermione. Without you my homework would've been a bit of a wreck," Harry said sincerely. He uprighted the inkpot his elbow had nearly toppled over. He was grateful his class fellow was too engrossed making her quill strokes perfect to realise the near disaster happening near her parchments.
"Group study is just the thing to keep us on track. I'd been shirking off my homework before you asked for help and I'd only got around to finishing my first draft. It's nearly three feet long! How am I supposed condense it to thirteen inches in - Oh bother," Hermione's penmanship failed on one line. She disappeared the ink stain with a causal wave of the wand and an incantation Harry wasn't familiar with.
"Wonder where's the rest of the gang? Haven't they got charms homework?" Harry craned his neck to take a peak. He thought he'd seen Neville earlier but hadn't caught sight of him since.
"Ello, ello," Ron walked a few moments later from behind them. He reeked of sweat and mud. "Budge up. My legs are still wobbly from the jelly legs jinx."
"They wouldn't be if you stopped jumping into every fight you encounter," Hermione sniffled. Harry noticed she slid in further on the bench giving the redhead adequate space.
"Ernie Macmillan's got a big gob," Ron munched on an apple in his hand. He was thwacked in the back of his head with Madame Pince's flying duster for having the gall to bring food into the library and the apple zoomed away from his hands, "Oye, Madam Pomfrey said I looked peaky!"
"I hope the rest of your friends were sensible enough to stay out of it," The frizzy haired girl mumbled into the desk. She had shrunk her shoulders hoping they weren't thrown out of the library. There was a loud noise from their left and presumably the librarian was now too distracted to discipline Ron.
"Infirmary wing. Somebody lost their head and started throwing jinxes everywhere. Dean's regrowing his teeth while Seamus is... Yeah, let's not discuss any further if you want to keep your breakfast in," The tall redhead made himself comfortable and slumped all over the desk.
"Ronald, keep your sleeve off my parchment! I refuse to submit an assignment with your blood on it," Hermione deftly pulled her parchment out from under the boy's long limbs.
"Easy, Granger. You don't have to be a damp squid all the time."
"M' not a damp squid just... Please. And have you finished the essay professor Flitwick assigned? Harry's nearly done," The girl asked, nosily.
"What essay?" Ron looked baffled, as if her words were an alien language.
"Don't look at me," And as if reading her new friend's mind Hermione laid down the law, "Harry don't even think about sharing your work."
"Tough luck, mate," The bespectacled boy shrugged and pulled his rolled up parchment closer.
"Blimey, how many inches?" The redhead scratched his nose.
"Were you really asleep during class? I knew I heard someone snoring no matter how much Lavender Brown disagreed. It's thirteen inches!" Hermione exclaimed. She looked incredulous and disturbed all at once, "Why are you at the library if you're not here to work."
"I came up here to spy on Neville. He's here in search of Susan bones. He's been thinking of introducing her to Trevor."
"Oh, that's bold," Harry interjected.
"Isn't it. Everyone's going to pull his leg when they hear of it," Ron announced as he pulled out his tatty book bag and used Charms coursebook. Hermione looked at him with disapproval but inched in closer till their shoulders touched. Her bleeding heart would not allow a fellow student to turn up with no homework.
"Where are you going you techy rat's fart?" Dan was immediately accosted by the leering face of Marcus Flint. He had been dreading coming out of his dormitory and had stayed in there for as long as humanly possible but all his caution failed.
"None of your business," Dan hissed grimly. He had assumed all the Slytherins would be at dinner and made the grave mistake of bring swayed by his grumbling stomach. In front of Dan stood three older Slytherin boys who were much taller and wider than the first year. Their wands were pointed at him.
"Told you this runt would come out of his hole sooner or later," Flint gave his companion a nudge. His beady grey eyes were back on his prize.
"We know what you did to Pucey," Miles Bletchley's toad like face contorted with hatred.
"Yeah, so?" Dan tried to put a show of false bravado, "You should've learnt the lesson from him. You don't want to mess with me."
"You little sod. I'll wring your neck and see you hanging from the balcony," Terrance Higgs threatened the younger boy and took a step closer.
Dan pulled out his wand from his sleeve ready to defend himself. He had no other choice. The Slytherin quidditch team was thicker than a pile of rocks and if he played his cards right he could outwit them.
"Not so fast, runt," Pucey's unexpected voice froze the young Slytherin. The older boy swooped from behind him and snatched the wand away before their victim could defend himself.
"Give it back," Dan hollered as he scrabbled for his wand. Two hands grabbed him from behind and the iron grip forced him on his knees.
"Lick my shoe, turd," Pucey intoned with a malicious grin adorning his face.
For a moment Dan considered the proposition. He was surrounded by four Slytherin upperclassmen who had fists the size of bricks. Who knew what they would do to him if he refused to comply. He pondered the matter but decided showing any weakness would not make the next seven years of Hogwarts easy on him.
"Not gonna lick your sodding shoe," Dan spat on his foot instead. His face was smashed into the ground for the defiance. The pain made the eleven year old hunch over but he bit his lip to keep from crying out.
"Is that so? Off to the dungeons with you," Marcus Flint exclaimed as if delighted that their captive hadn't given up that easily. A pair of hands pulled Dan up and frog marched him out of the common room.
"You won't get away with this. My gang's gonna be right at my back," Dan growled angrily. He could feel the cool slide of blood running down his nose. He wanted to touch his face to assess the damage but the iron grips on his arms prevented any movement.
"They'll be tucked in bed like good little boys if they know what's best for them. No one is going to help you out," Higgs chortled at his assumptions. He barked a Lumos with his free hand as the path towards the lowest dungeons became darker and darker.
Dan tried to struggle free but he was too puny to take on the older boys. Instead of letting himself free he got boxed in the ears by a meaty fist.
"Thought being the boy oo' lived made 'im invincible?" Pucey wondered to himself.
"He's just a runt with all bark and no bite," Flint dismissed. Dan gritted his teeth as all his talent was diminished in this fleeting moment.
"When I get my wand back..." The boy growled.
Flint just leered at him. He brought up Dan's holly wood wand to his face and with a snap broke his wand.
"Whoops, half blood's a bit clumsy isn't he," Bletchley chuckled as if he was being very clever.
"There you can have it. Now do your tricks!" Flint mocked as he stuffed the two broken pieces in Dan's robe pockets.
Dan was speechless as the four older boys howled with laughter. He stumbled as they stopped in front of a foreboding door. The door looked positively ancient with deep rooted carving and nails that stood out from the worn wood. The door creaked open and Dan was thrown in.
"Bloody Baron's going to gargle with your blood once he finds you," Pucey's hollered. The older boy slammed the little door opening shut leaving behind pitch darkness.
Harry woke up as the world lurched. A trickle of sweat ran down his face and he fought to keep himself quiet. All evening the feeling of dread had steadily risen in his chest. Even falling asleep had been difficult and the terrifying unseeing nightmare had woken him up moments later. He knew Dan was in trouble. Harry stuffed his wand in his back pocket, put on his flannel night goan and placed his feet in his squeaky new slippers.
Harry heard the mix of snores of varying pitches in his dorm and wondered how he would find Dan at this time of night. He decided to take on the important task on his on and clambered down the mahogany staircase that led to the common room. It was empty as expected. The fat lady was snoring in her painting as Harry eased out of the room in search of the Slytherin common room.
"As he swung the axe up in the air,
But oh the blunt blade!
No difference it made,
My head was still definitely there,'' The pearly, translucent ghost hummed to itself as it wafted through the corridors. Harry recognised the ghost he'd seen sitting on the Gryffindor table.
"Er, could you help me, Sir?" Harry asked after a moment's thought.
"What are you doing out of bed, Gryffindor?" The ghost asked although his tone was kind, "I don't think I've introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
"Er, that's very good. My name's Harry. Harry Potter and I'm looking for my brother," The boy finished lamely.
"Oh, oh, of course you would be looking for him outside your common room. Not that uncommon to see siblings in different houses. Even got a pair of twins in your year in the same predicament," The ghost replied with understanding.
"My brother Dan's in Slytherin and I don't know where he sleeps. If I could just talk to him," Harry mumbled trying to overcome the unnatural panic racing through his blood.
"I could take you to the Slytherin common room if you wish although I should inform a teacher you're out of bed... there's no excuse to be out of bed at this time of night," The ghost with the frilly neck piece warned Harry.
"Thank you, Sir Nicholas. I feel like he's in trouble. It's very urgent I get to him," The dark haired boy pleaded. The ghost urged that he be followed and they both briskly paced down the steps that led to the dungeons as the boy walked and the ghost floated.
"Would you happen to know who the bloody baron is?" Harry asked as his mind gathered a few words from the onslaught to his brain.
The ghost stilled as if the life had been taken from his beating heart once again, "Did you say your brother is with the Bloody baron? He's the Slytherin ghost."
"He doesn't stay in the Slytherin common rooms?" Harry asked Sir Nicholas.
"Not precisely. If we want to venture into the Baron's territory we must go down even further," The ghost uttered, looking even more grim. He led Harry down more steps mumbling about getting another teacher involved before they could get into trouble.
They were in the depths of the stone dungeons when a light in the corridor beckoned them forward. The sounds of people speaking to each other started getting louder and louder.
"Bet he's pissed his pants by the last trick," A beefy looking boy slapped his knee in delight. His three other companions wearing Slytherin outfits sat on the floor with a single wand given them light.
"What is the meaning of this, boys?" Sir Nicholas called out, outraged by the older boys rule breaking.
"Piss off, Nicky," The Slytherin quidditch captain taunted, making an ugly face.
"W-what did you call me?" Sir Nicholas was affronted by the lack of manners.
"Where is he?" Harry interjected before the discussion dissolved into name calling. The other boys had stood with their wands in their hands seeing the new arrivals.
"What's it to you firsty?" The grey eyes of the captain locked on the young first year. His face sneered as if asking for trouble.
"He's my brother. Give him back," Harry stated coolly. His eyes were on the wooden door the boys were guarding. By some unnatural power he just knew that his brother was just beyond that door.
"You gonna save him, pisspot?" Another boy sneered as if he couldn't believe the younger boy could challenge them.
"Yeah," Harry took a step further. He crossed his arms. He could see from the corner of his eyes the other boys were planning an ambush. The ghost floated through the Slytherins making them shiver but they were undeterred by any of the ghost's antics.
"I'll go get help. This is preposterous," Sir Nicholas exclaimed and floated away through the ceiling.
As soon the ghost disappeared one of the boys attacked Harry while he was fumbling with his wand. He had managed to pull it out of his pocket but was thwarted by the heavy boy who pushed him to the cold floor.
"Another half blood runt too stupid to keep his wand with him. Why do we even let them in the school," The Slytherin captain plucked the wand from Harry's grasp and threw it far away into the darkness. The corridor echoed with the sounds of wood rolling in stone.
Harry didn't need to think twice before he pushed the boy atop him on the side. He tried to remember his wrestling tricks and decided to go for the kill. Harry's knee rammed into the boy's groin making his assailant howl in pain.
"Get 'im," A sandy haired boy tried to pounce on Harry but the first year escaped through their grasp. Out of breath his back slammed against the door and he faced all four boys with a grim expression.
"You faffing firsty think you'll get out of here alive? Bloody Baron's going to use your bones for a toothpick," One upperclassmen threatened as he took a step forward.
"Only if he can catch me," Harry answered defiantly.
Suddenly the quidditch captain roared and attempted to throttle the Gryffindor by the neck but Harry pushed him away with a burst of uncontrolled magic. The older boy rolled over to the side until he hit the rough wall opposite them.
"What are you waiting for?" The fallen Slytherin roared to his friends who were a bit baffled by the entire situation.
"We can't do permanent damage, Flint! They're little kids. Snape'll slaughter us," One of the boys with brown eyes shifted nervous looks from their target back to their captain.
"Couldn't give a rat's arse," The captain said as he made the shaky ascent upright.
Another boy tried to drag Harry away from the door but this time the magic that sent the assailant across the corridor wasn't accidental. He landed on his arse with a solid thud.
"He doesn't have another wand, does he?" The tallest Slytherin asked, nervously. Harry just gave him the two finger salute with an unrepentant grin on his face.
"Oye, you little wanker!" The remaining two boys raced towards the Gryffindor but they couldn't even touch him. With a hasty wave of the hand Harry launched them in the air. They bounced on the low ceiling before landing face first on the tough, unyielding floor. Suddenly there was a sound of creaking metal in a distance and the Slytherins gaped at each other, terrified.
"It's Snape, it has to be," The tallest boy moaned as he raised himself off the floor gingerly.
Unconcerned by their woes Harry turned around and performed a simple Alohomora. He could feel his brother's thoughts more persistently the closer they were together. The door creaked open slowly and the shaft of light from the fallen wand landed squarely on Dan's tear streaked face. Behind him the gang of flustered Slytherins scrambled to their feet.
"You're not the Baron..." The young Slytherin squinted before realise whom the blurry figure belonged to, "Why are you here?"
"You called me," Harry said, out of breath, and extended his hand. The other boy gave it a look of consternation before stumbling up on his own, helping hand ignored.
"Not you. You're the last person I'd ever call," Dan muttered to himself as he quickly wiped his face on his robe sleeve.
"That's a shame cause I'm the only one who can hear you. Being a twin is weird as heck. Come on," Harry beckoned his brother out into the now empty corridor, "Need to find my wand."
"They broke mine," Dan answered morosely. He pulled out the pieces of holly and felt like he was on the verge of tears all over again. One end of the wand emitted useless red sparks.
"Oh, there's a spell for that," Harry muttered as he bent over to pick up his own. He spun around and with a clear voice said, "Reparo!"
"Shit, shit, shit, what have you done! You don't- you can't fix wands like that. They need a wand master... Oh bugger! Now, it's never going to work properly!" Dan squeaked as the wand in his hand mended itself. It shone in his hand as if he had just polished it with the wand cleaning set Remus Lupin had gifted him on his birthday.
Harry opened his mouth to retort but he was not given the opportunity by the new arrival. Snape stood at the end of the corridor wearing a grey night shirt and he looked livid, "What's the meaning off this tomfoolery?"
"Professor, I can explain," Dan's posture straightened as his hands fiddled with his newly repaired wand. The nervous energy the boy radiated was infectious.
"No, let me hear it from the other Potter. What is a Gryffindor doing in the dungeons?" Snape's obsidian eyes turned to Harry who lost all his earlier bravado. Could he be expelled for performing wandless magic he thought. A pinprick of headache bloomed in Harry's head giving him a slight bout of nausea.
"It was a bit of a kerfuffle, Professor," Dan spoke impatiently hoping he could steamroller all over his brother before he could tell him his account.
Harry could see a vein flickering horribly on
Snape's greasy temple as his attention was diverted on his Slytherin. Like a viper his eyes snaped on the brown haired twin and he hissed ominously, "Did. I. Give. You. Permission to speak,"
"I never gave you permission to get in my head but there you go ramming into my head," Harry mumbled to himself but the dark haired man had extra sharp ears. The pressure in his head subsided.
"The Slytherin quidditch captain locked him up in the room and was torturing him with jinxes. I just got him out," Harry explained while Dan shrunk away with embarrassment.
"And pray tell how did you just happen to be here at the right moment at the right place," Snape asked with his eyes glittering as he observed the Gryffindor.
"Sir Nicholas led me right here. You can ask him if you like," Harry crossed his arms indignantly although he slowed down as he tried to answer the question, "And I heard him... Err.. in my sleep. M-my brother. I could hear his voice. That happens a lot with twins, right, with magic and all?"
"No, it does not," Snape replied curtly giving no comfort.
"This will be my final warning to you Potter. If I ever catch you out of bed it will be your last day in Hogwarts," Snape murmured quietly.
"But your Quidditch team started it. Won't you catch them. I'm sure Dan knows their names," Harry protested the unfairness of it all.
"Does he?" Snape placed a venemous look at the Slytherin twin.
"No I don't. It was too dark to see property," Dan answered with a pointed look at Harry as if it was his twin was being unreasonable.
"Wha- what?" Harry spluttered at the farce playing out before him. His shoulders drooped as he gave up. Without his brother's testimony protesting any further was worthless.
"Lily Potter, we need to have a conversation that cannot wait till tomorrow," Snape barked into his floo. He had stayed awake the entire night. The sun was out but only barely yet he deemed it an appropriate hour to conduct floo calls.
"Severus? Is there an emergency? Did the potion fail?" Lily's bleary eyes blinked as they made an abrupt appearance. Her hair was covering half her face.
"None of that," The man dismissed her question, "Did you know the child you've been hiding from the rest of the world can do wandless magic?"
"Oh! Oh..." There was disappointment lingering in her voice. "Has there been an incident? Harry knows he's not allowed. It makes him unwell."
"Yes, yes, there has been an incident. It- It involved my house and some common rough housing. I am facing a barrage of complaints against him and am placed in a position not to my liking," The man pursed his lips in displeasure.
"I understand. I apologize, Severus. I will speak to him. You may also dole out any punishment you think is fair. It will not happen again," The woman closed her green eyes.
"Not even a week in and fighting in the corridors already. I had higher hopes but this one favours his father," Snape continued his rant.
"Don't make it sound like an insult," She sighed.
"Your pint sized celebrity is already showing an alarming lack of discipline and arrogance and-"
"Enough, you're being unfair. I've spent enough time with him to know you're being unnecessarily critical," Lily took a calming breath, "He's not had the advantages my husband and my other children have had in their lives. Don't make assumptions."
"What do you even mean?"
"He- he was raised by Petunia. That's all you need to know on the matter," Lily exhaled.
"Thank you for confiding in me," Snape uttered after a pregnant pause.
"You're my oldest friend," The woman replied with a watery smile.
She bid him farewell and Snape watched the flames burn softly and steadily. He could take a hundred points off the Gryffindor if he wanted to but he knew it was not fair. Taking points out of his own house was out of the question and so was pulling the team members out of the Quidditch team since this was his most successful team yet.
He had caught the assailant's images out off both the Potters as soon as he was able to although the Gryffindor proved to be a nuisance as usual. After forcibly tucking both boys to bed separately Snape had marched back to the Slytherin dungeons and created havoc the likes of which the Slytherins would whisper about till the end of the century.
Higgs, Bletchley, Pucey and Flint had babbled on about the magic the Gryffindor first year had performed on them as soon as he'd allowed them to speak. The tale grew wilder each time one of them recounted it again as if Potter had ridden in on a dragon to save his brother.
Snape had much to think about including the punishment he needed to dole out. He couldn't allow his Slytherins to walk away unscathed or else no one would be terrified of him any longer. He needed to protect his Potter from further persecution. He also needed to squash any rumours bound to develop from the incident for the other Potter.
The marks for the forgetfulness potion sat in the middle of the table while the concoction bubble under the mild flame and Snape had a moment of clarity. By the end of the breakfast the Slytherins would forget all the wandless flights of fancy they had concocted. They would simply remember they had failed to keep the boy who lived trapped and paid dearly for their transgression.
They has taken her wand! Her wand! What an affront, what an outrage! What was the wizarding society coming too! The woman wearing unmatched clothing thought miserably.
She limped across the ground not caring how many holes her shoes creating in the sleet covered grass. One of her heels was broken and she did not even have her wand to fix it.
Her fists shook with righteous anger. This was not the wizarding world she had toiled for all those years working thankless jobs for the minister of magic. Her loyalty had been discarded so easily.
She pulled off her broken shoe and threw it at the white peacock dancing in the terrible weather clearly spelled warm by the owners.
"I will have my due," The woman grinded her teeth together as she spoke. In a fit of fury she took off her other shoe as well but her aim was still abysmal.
She jumped over the hedge onto the gravel driveway and walked up to the grand manor house until she reached the front gate. Nothing happened as she stood and waited for a servant to greet her. After a pause she hit her pink umbrella furiously at the wooden door. The door suddenly slammed open.
"Good... Evening, Dolores?" Lucius Malfoy's eyes trailed down to her feet and then back to her unkempt clothes and hair.
"I have been treated abominably, Mr. Malfoy, by the ministry," Dolores spoke with a stiff upper lip.
"I can see that," The man gave her another surveying look, "I'm afraid I don't have as much clout at the ministry as I used-"
'I need your assistance of course but it has nothing to do with the ministry. I want vengeance only a death eater like you can give be me."
"I beg your pardon," The man spluttered, "I don't know what sort of wizard you take me for-
"Stop pussyfooting around, Lucius Malfoy. I know all your secrets. One word to Rita Skeeter and your days of ignominy will be back on the front page," Dolores warned the pale man.
"Are you threatening me?" The death eater's voice was high pitched in alarm.
"No, no, not at all," The woman replied congenially, but I know you show loyalty to him still. Take me to him. Tell him I have something he will be very interested in."
She picked vial out of her pink, dirt stained purse and displayed the words written on it tantalisingly.