"...And then, Dad showed me this HUGE preserve, where he kept the plants and animals he made for his personal potions..."
Matt was rambling about his summer. Harry knew that Matt spent the summers half with his father, and half in a muggle summer school. Harry knew that the Muggle world had plenty to offer, so he could see the sense in sending him there. He himself wouldn't mind going to one, if he didn't know his parents would never go for the idea.
Besides, he was emancipated now, a legal adult in the eyes of the wizarding world. Since he was not of age, he still had to stay under the same roof as his parents, and they still held some power over him, since he was still a Potter. But he was in a sort of distant branch, now. A Potter, but not of the main family.
Harry was rather peeved that he had missed out on the Quiddich World Cup, but later was pleased as he missed a huge Death Eater attack that left the Wizarding World reeling with shock. Dumbledore showed up at the Potter Manor a lot more frequently, then, for Henry's special training.
So basically, out of the public eye. Just as Dumbledore had intended. So as soon as he turned seventeen, he would be utterly free of them.
It was a debt on Harry. One he intended to right as soon as possible. He had no intention of ending up like Snape, shackled to the Headmaster.
"I read Slytherin's diary." Harry cut in, hoping to stop Matt's blather. It worked.
"Really?" Matt asked curiously. "I thought that it wouldn't come off the pedestal."
"It wouldn't. There were a few scorch marks where Voldy tried to blast it off. It didn't have any charms against copying spells, though." Harry admitted. "It was quite...interesting."
"Do tell." Matt prompted.
"All sorts of insights into his personal life. Did you know he was involved in a scandalous affair with Ravenclaw?" Matt adapted a gobsmacked expression, something Harry chuckled at. "Yep. She knew about the Chamber the entire time. Even helped him build the library."
"Huh. Anything useful? Like how to open the third floor?"
Of the three floors of the library, the first two had been easily accessable. But the third, and final, also Slytherin's sleeping quarters, had remained stubbornly shut and locked when Harry had tried to open it. Harry had tried a number of unlocking spells, but naturally, had come up dry.
"A riddle. Lady Ravenclaw had a hand in that, as well, as he wrote that he put his most secret and precious tomes up there. I bet ol' Tommy boy threw a fit when he couldn't get up there." Harry joked. Matt sat up straighter.
"I'm pretty good with riddles. Lay it on me." Harry shrugged, and recited it.
" I quote, A saying of women and emotions, of which truer words were never spoken. Almost like a analogy of my own life with my Rowena, and how it ended." Matt adopted a pensive expression, his brow furrowed.
"He broke up with her?" Matt questioned.
"Apparently, yes, their relationship got rocky, and his writings got a little hazy later on in the diary. He started his pureblood regime, and she disapproved. Basically, he got fed up and left."
"So the legendary break up of the most famous quartet in magical Europe was because of a lover's spat?" Matt grinned.
"Possibly, but I doubt it. There's probably something deeper." Harry mused.
"Whatever. You're definitely letting me have a gander at that library, though." Matt warned, pushing a finger at him. Harry let out a exhasperated sigh.
"Yes, yes, I already told you I would, quit bitching, you're acting like a-"
The door to the compartment opened, admitting Luna, with her arms full of sweets from the cart, forever setting a Mystery of what Harry thought Matt was acting like at that moment.
"They've got a much larger selection this year." Luna announced brightly, dumping them all on the seat. They quickly pounced upon the sweets.
Hey, they may have been mature for their age, but that didn't mean they were kids sometimes too.
"...And now, I would like to welcome you to another year at our beloved Hogwarts." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled up a storm. "First, let us welcome back Harry Potter to our student body, who has undergone a miraculous recovery from the incident two years ago."
Harry grimaced at the assortment of clapping.
"I do have several important announcements. For one, I have managed to acquire a very famous Auror's help for our intruction in Defense Against The Dark Arts. Some of you may already know him. Please welcome Alastor Moody."
Harry chuckled as the door to the Hall banged open, admitting the grizzled and scarred war veteran, who's magical blue eye swiveled and swerved, causing many students to shiver and shrink back in their seats. No doubt, some of them had heard the tales of the legendry 'Mad-Eye' Moody, and his eccentric qualities. The clicking of his pegged leg ceased as he took a seat.
Dumbledore raised a hand, and the fearful murmurs in the hall ceased immidiately. Harry could instantly recognize the mild blanket compulsion charm the Headmaster had utilized, from the flaring of his aura, easily recognized by Harry's second sight. He found that he could nearly know what spells were coming before they came, if they were familiar enough, like a Stunner or Disarmer.
"I would also like to inform you that there will be no Inner-House? Quiddich Cup being held this year." Instantly, protests rose up. Harry was a bit taken aback. Quiddich was the main source of relieving tension and testoterone in the school. Dumbledore had to know taking it away would be detrimental to his 'peaceful' mindset.
Unless there was something else replacing it. Harry's eyes narrowed as Dumbledore spoke his next words.
"Instead, I have the great pleasure of informing you that I have managed to convince the Minister to reinstate a very old, very honored tradition." Harry repressed a snort. Trust Dumbledore to make sure no one forgot his power. "This year, in lieu of the Quiddich Cup, we will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament, right here at Hogwarts."
"YOU'RE JOKING!" Fred Weasley exclaimed loudly, upsetting several students around him. Dumbledore smiled slightly.
" I most certainly am not, Mr Weasley, though I did hear a excellent one about a hag, a leprechaun and a troll who walk into a bar..." McGonnagal? cleared her throat loudly. Dumbledore ceased his brief moment of senility and continued. "Right. To those who do not know what it entails, the Triwizard Tournament..."
Harry tuned him out as Dumbledore explained the guidelines and such. He had read about this event in Hogwarts: A History, as the footnote had caught his eye. A magical tournament that brought several schools together sounded like a good way to meet new people and forge alliances.
"Beauxbatons and Durmstrang shall be arriving soon, and I expect you to all be on your best behavior and treat them with the utmost respect, seeing as they will essentially be ambassadors for their respective magical nations. Now, without further ado, let the feast begin!"
The General hubbub of talk and chatter filled the hall, undoubtably about the upcoming tournament.
Harry turned, and tried very hard not to groan as he saw the eager look on Matt's face. It didn't work.
"You can't be seriously considering entering that tournament. Matt, it's a death trap!" The grin did not fade in the slightest.
"Who cares? Think what you could do with all that money, Harry! I could start my own buisness!" Harry rolled his eyes.
"I'm sorry, you seem to have overlooked something. Oh wait, I know. Your dad is freaking loaded! You're already set for life!" To his suprise, Matt shook his head.
"Nope. There's a Cooke family tradition. Make your own fortune. A Cooke doesn't inherit anything but the knowledge he learns. I get a monthly stipend to buy my own food and clothes, and if I spend it all, I go hungry, except for nutrient potions. When Dad kicks it, all that wealth will go to a charity selected randomly on a list."
Harry frowned. "That sounds...harsh." Matt shook his head.
"Nah, it's not that bad. He doesn't beat me or neglect me or anything. It teaches me how to be self sufficient. Teaches me how to spend money. If I win that prize, I'll be one step closer to realizing the family goal; start a buisness, make money." Matt winced. "Ooh, speaking of Dad. He found out I was a Animagus."
Now it was Harry's turn to be alarmed. "What? How?"
Matt grinned sheepishly. "Walked in on me midtransformation. He really shit a chicken, let me tell you. I didn't tell him about you, but he still made me register myself. Damned laws and crap."
Harry subsided, then his curiosity was piqued. "So you know what you are, now?"
Matt perked up. "Oh, yeah! I'll show you later, after we stop by that library." Harry chuckled.
"I doubt you'll want to leave once you get in there, Matt. You'll be like a child in a candy shop." Matt glared.
"Hey! I can SO control myself."
"HOLY SHIT!" Matt screamed.
Harry stood somewhat off to the side, as Matt let his jaw flap, waving his arms for effect. Harry smirked slightly.
"Indeed. How very eloquent of you, Mr. Cooke." Harry intoned. Matt was too shocked to be angry.
"I didn...I-..." Matt tried and failed to form coherent words to describe the wealth of knowledge in front of him. He settled for simple. "Bi-i-i-i-ii-i-i-ii-ig!" Matt pointed emphatically. Very simple.
Harry sighed. "Am I going to have to hold your hand through this?" Matt finally gathered himself to glare back at him.
"Hey! You've got to admit, this is fucking worth a little amazement." Matt gestured at the large library with a sweeping hand gesture.
"Well, I didn't scream like a bitch when I saw it." Harry informed him tartly. Matt bounded up the stairs, laughing the whole way, completely ignoring Harry's presence.
"I am gonna be rich, IIIIiiie aaam gonna be R.I.C.H!" Matt sang exultantly as he bounded from tome to tome.
Harry followed at a more demure pace, knowing he'd have as much time as he wanted to peruse this treasure chest of forbidden and lost knowledge.
When he finally reached the final step, he found Matt practically in two places as once as he started yanking books off of their shelves, babbling the whole time.
"Christ, this is a handwritten draft of the original Malleus Maleficium! Harry, do you have any idea what a Witch's Hammer original manuscript would go for at a mueseam?" Matt turned his gaze upwards. "Thank you God, thank yooooooou!"
"You'll be doing no such thing of course, since they would ask where you got it..." Harry was once again ignored in favor of another book.
"Oh, gods above, a Alchemica Vitas volume, there are only a hundred of these in existance, do you know that, Harry?" Matt dashed to another stack, spotting another title that caught his eye
"Matt, if you don't stop jumping around like a fucking rabbit on crack, I'm going to hex you into a fucking pile of anal seepage." Harry snapped.
To his suprise, Matt simply sent him a saucy grin.
"Naughty, naughty, Harry, if you do that, who's going to tell you the answer to Slytherin's riddle?" Harry's eyes visibly widened.
"You already figured it out?" Harry asked incredulously. Matt smiled.
"Maaaaybe." A vein in Harry's eyebrow twitched.
"Matt, I swear to God..." Matt held up a hand.
"I want unrestricted access to this place, and my pick of any ten of the treasures I find here to be mine." He announced.
The first one wasn't anything; Harry had already planned on allowing that. The second, though..."Unrestricted access and any five of the books you find here, with copies for me." Harry returned.
"Access and seven books and two non-books, with copies." Matt wheedled.
"Access and six books and one non book, with copies. And I reserve the right to deny you two of them." Harry stated flatly. "Take it or get the fuck out."
"Fine." Matt retorted. "But I get to make my own copies, for myself." Harry nodded in acceptance.
Matt climbed the steps of the winding central stairwell until he was about a inch away from knocking his head on the locked passage to Slytherin's Secret Quarters.
He daintily let his head rest against the hard stone, before opening his mouth.
"Heaven hath no power like love turned to hate, nor Hell a fury like that of a women scorned." He recited easily. He smiled cheekily at Harry, who glared.
"Matt, are you kidding me? There's no way that Salazar fucking Slyth-"
Harry was cut off by a deep rumbling as the stone door ground open slowly, leaving Matt whistling and leaning on the wall next to it. Still wearing that infuriating grin.
"Oh, fine." Harry snapped impatiently. "You were right, and for one moment in this realm of being, actually right where I was wrong. Now put away that smile or I will put it away for you."
Matt suprisingly heeded his word, schooling his face to stillness. Harry acsended the staircase, and they both entered the final floor of Slytherin's secret library.
Suprisingly, this floor was barely a library at all. It was a bedroom.
A large king sized green and silver bed lay against the wall, undisturbed for what was no doubt centuries of misuse. The entire room was circular, and many glass cases were aligned against the wall, and hung on them. Trophies, swords, strange knicknacks Harry had no name for yet was sure were important and rare. There was a single bookcase in the room, so tall it reached the cieling.
In the middle of the room, a large circular table stood, just like on the second floor, although much scaled down, or course. Across from the bed, a delicate metal frame supported what could have easily been a hundred wine bottles, most probably the finest vintage.
But it was when you looked up that it really took the cake.
A large, bone white skeleton hung from the cieling. It was a dead hydra, one of the most rare and dangerous monsters around, which spoke levels about the power and skill Slytherin must have commanded. Each of the heads was fitted with a curved metal rod. The necks arched down and opened, holding human skulls delicately in each pristine jaw. The skulls were open, each holding a large, green inflagration of Ever-Burning? Fire.
Harry sighed and didn't look behind him. He didn't need to. "I can tell you're about to soil yourself, so go ahead and let it out."
"YEEEEEEEES! YESYESYEYSYES!" Matt screamed. He panted a few times, before schooling his features. "I'm done. Let's look at his 'rarest knowledge and tomes'. "
Harry nodded, and they both headed over to the single bookshelf in the room, pulling out titles that interested them.
"Hmm, Magical Dolours, by Salazar Slytherin. That oughta be good..." Harry muttered.
Nearby, Matt let out a triumphant whoop. Harry turned.
"a Enchanting the Soul!" Harry winced at the volume. Then he realized what Matt just said.
"Seriously!" Harry asked.
Enchanting the Soul was one of the supposed seven volumes in a series that detailed how to enchant objects. Sounds boring?
Not a chance.
Enchanting was a very tricky process, right up there with Alchemy on the lists of most difficult professions. You needed Arithmacy, Wards Training, Ancient Runes, a almost complete knowledge of magical creatures, and Potions. And that was just for enchanting within the rules.
Enchanting a object required three steps; Aquire a magical core, draw out a enchanting array to detail what effect exactly you wanted to graft onto a object, and then bind it to the object.
Problem Number One: Magical cores were very expensive, and hard to come by. Plus, each enchanting realm needed a very specific core to gain the effect you wanted.
Problem Number Two: Enchanting arrays were hard. As in crazy hard. As in, training from birth hard. And if you made one itsy bitsy mistake in the runes, or smudged a line, or just breathed too hard on one particular piece of ink, you could end up with a ring that crushes your organs and then makes them sprout little tiny wings and fly out your ass, instead of just a little ring that wards off the sniffles.
Problem number Three: There was no way to experiment.
Each enchanting array that was legalized by the Ministry had been repeated, a hundred times each, to prove that nothing other than what they thought happened happened. And the only way to experiment was to try out your wild-card enchantments on humans, since they often had completely different affects on animals. And that was a big no-no, since anything could happen. And that meant anything.
Enchanting the Soul was not so much a book as much as a dictionary. It would map out a array, tell you what it did, tell you what core you needed, then give you a big warning at the start of each page.
The upsides? It made you insanely rich.
Enchantments weren't like charms; They stayed with a object forever. Charms would fade over time, or need to be renewed, or be dispelled. Enchantments didn't. You were literally grafting a living magical core to a inanimate object. Sure, it drained your magic while it was in affect. But it always worked and never failed, unless destroyed. Never.
Rings to ward off sickness, necklaces and cloaks of invisibility, hell, the sword of Gryffindor was a enchanting wonder. Enchanters made oodles of money.
But they were forced to stay within the bounds of the already known arrays. If you have a death wish but still want to contribute to society in some way with your death, fuck the Army, take a array and then change a few lines. You'll die sooner or later. Pinky swear.
Only three volumes of Enchanting the Soul had ever been recovered. No author ever was mentioned, only that three more books were available and the seventh was in production. Some people thought it was the Atlanteans, or Merlin himself, who had wrote the books.
"Which Volume?" Harry snapped.
Matt quickly tugged on the book. It was huge. It was as thick as Harry's shoulders. Matt tumbled to the floor, book on his stomach.
He quickly opened the cover.
Then, Matt fainted. Harry quickly hurried over, admonishing him.
"Come on, you pansy, it can't be that..."
Then, words failed him as he looked upon the books neatly gold embroidered title.
The Compleat Works;
Enchanting the Soul, Volumes One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven.
By Azarath Omnisluctus
"MINE!" Matt had shouted, as soon as he awoke.
"Fine. I don't have the patience or the time for enchanting." Harry returned boredly. Matt, meanwhile, was caressing the cover.
"Yes...who's going to make Matt lots of money...you are! You are!" Matt giggled slightly insanely as he ran one hand across the worn leather. "My precious..."
"Sure..that's not creepy at all..." Harry deadpanned. "But isn't enchanting pretty dangerous?" Matt shook his head quickly.
"Not for me. Harry, don't you see? I already have most of what I need. The Potions and magical creatures knowledge, those are almost instinctual, I could probably get a mastery in those if I really felt like getting that kind of attention. I'm taking some advanced classes on Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. All I really need is some Wards training, and I'm good to go."
Matt was excited, this Harry could tell, so decided to play along a little bit.
"I know a few simple wards, like privacy and a few traps, but not much..." Matt snorted.
"Harry, we're not talking regular wards here. We're talking extreme damage control wards, magical containment wards...Most of the more complex ones need customized wards, just to mold the magical core into the object and design what it'll do." Matt frowned. "And the only Wards Master close enough to ask would be Dumbledore, and bang goes that idea, you know..."
"Slytherin's bound to have some books on Wards down there somewhere." Harry took out his wand. "Serpensortia!"
A long black cobra shot out of his wand. It landed with a thump, before curling around to stare at Harry.
"What is your bidding, my masssster?" It hissed.
"Look for any book with these," Harry quickly drew the word WARDS in the air with his wand. "Words on them."
The cobra slithered down the stairs quickly. Matt looked on in interest.
"Hey, that's pretty smart..." Harry rolled his eyes.
"Duh, I'm the one who thought of it." Matt was preoccupied with withdrawing his wand, however.
A red finch leapt out of Matt's wand. It fluttered quickly around his head, while he chittered to it in Aeritongue. He quickly summoned four more finches, and they flew down the stairs.
At Harry's questioning gaze, he answered. "A single finch can't carry a huge book." Harry nodded.
In short order, they summoned a taskforce of snakes and birds to go looking for Wards books. They began getting results soon, snakes slithering in in duos, carrying books on their backs, since Harry had incinerated the first one who came back using it's fangs in the book, and groups of a dozen finches often supporting a single book.
Matt began eagerly opening volumes, spreading them out in fanlike fashion. He looked perfectly ready to spend the night there. Harry cleared his throat.
"Before you get immersed," Matt looked up, a somewhat annoyed look on his face. "Didn't you say something about a Animagus form, and showing me it?" Harry finished.
A wolflike grin sprung to life on Matt's face.
"Why are we up on the Astronomy Tower again, Harry?" Luna asked, rubbing her arms to keep the chill away. She had been rooted out of bed just for this occasion.
"Matt said something about needing the room." Harry muttered, quickly taking off his robe and handing it to her, leaving himself in his T-shirt and boxers. She shot him a grateful look and donned the second robe.
"And now, without further ado, the moment you have all been waiting for!" Matt yelled, spreading his arms wide.
"Attention-whore..." Harry muttered, unheard by Matt as he suddenly crouched.
Matt's form suddenly shot up, feathers erupting from his robes, beak coming out of his face like a sharp hook, talons and wings replacing his limbs. His avian form grew and grew until he towered above them, nearly twice as tall as Hagrid.
His sharp yellow eyes peered at them intently. Harry felt a distinct shrinking feeling as that odd intimidation factor that emanted from Matt's gaze worked it's toll on him.
The towering eagle gave a sharp cry, spreading it's wings and flapping them once, for effect. Harry and Luna were suddenly buffeted by a hard curtain of air, that had their hair and clothes whipping around them.
Then, Matt changed back, leaving him panting a bit on his knees.
"Skumring Eagle. One of the largest birds around. Only live in cold climates. Eyes can paralze. Used to immobilize prey." Matt panted out, between gasps for air. He gulped down a large breath. "It's still pretty tiring for me to do a instant transformation like that. It's better if I can do a slower morph."
"Impressive." Harry admitted.
They spent the next few weeks just cruising.
Matt excluded, of course. He was whipped into a frenzy.
Nearly every day, he had a new letter to send out on his falcon, and nearly every day, he recieved a new parcel.
Unicorn hairs, dragon heartstrings, the occasional phoenix feather. He grabbed both the eyes of the basilisk in the Chamber, and a good deal of it's scales. Luna was nice enough to sew the basilisk skin into a full suit. And repair it when there were blast holes blown into it.
Magical cores. They were to real problem in Matt's little projects. They were draining his bank account at a prodigious rate, or so he told Harry. Apart from his monthly stipend, he made some money off to the side, selling potions to the student populace, mostly on Hogsmeade weekends. It had started last year, while Harry was in a coma. It was suprising how many contraceptive and stamina potions were needed.
Matt did not have a official buisness, no. People just knew, if your girlfriend or boyfriend was pressuring you to take the next step, or if you were just a couple of horny teenagers who wanted to fuck like rabbits, Matt was the man to go for a liquid condom. For a few Galleons, you were set to screw till the sun rose. Harry was truly suprised at the ingenuity of preying on a hormonal buying force such as the Hogwarts populace.
Also, he told Harry, he made a couple of pounds in the summer at his Muggle school, singing in a band. His bandmates were all either Squibs or just other wizards.
But magical cores were expensive. Really expensive. Unicorn hairs could easily cost two Galleons per hair. Phoenix feathers were never less than ten.
Harry had no doubt that Matt was good enough to actually learn enchanting. So that's why he wasn't extremely suprised when Matt presented him with a ring, nearly a week after he started learning.
It was a simple band, polished steel. It conjured a shield around just your hand, a localized block. They were almost disgustingly common around duelling rings, used to block or swat spells out of the way. They were referred to as 'Dueler's Shields'. Often, you weren't considered a real duellist until you got one.
Harry probably could have bought one, for around twenty Galleons. He had enough money.
But the fact that it was Matt that made it stopped him from selling it somehting frivilous, his very first venture into the world of enchanting.
"When you're a old bastard, sitting in front of your fire with your kids, you can show them this, and tell them it was Matt the Magnificent's very first creation!" Matt enthused.
Harry proceded to turn his ears in to kumquats, with a very amusing spell learned from Luna.
Matt had bought a huge magical easal, that wiped itself clean on command. Harry thought it was a very retarded thing to waste ten Galleons on, until he saw how insanely complex the array was for just that simple Dueler's shield.
It started with just a circular line of runes, like a figure eight. It was about four feet long. The item to be enchanted went in one circle, and the core in the other.
Harry had scoffed.
Then, Matt had added another, circular ring around the figure eight.
Then, he had spiderwebbed runes in between the rings, in complex patterns, like lace and thread in clothing. He had continued doing this until it looked like a mess of runic shapes, like a stained glass window of lines of runes. Harry's second sight could see each one as a different color, making it look like each line was written with a glow in the dark crayon.
Then, Matt sat there for roughly five minutes, rattling off wards around the array, some Harry knew, most Harry didn't. Harry watched as the wards cast themselves in a dome-like shape around the array, until they were so completely overlapping that it looked like a rainbow shit all over it.
Matt then pointed his wand at the array, and muttered, "Iungo, iunxi, iunctum," Usually followed by a different word each time.
Then the whole array lit up like a damn flashlight, nearly blinding Harry's second sight for around a minute, and Matt was on his knees, sweat rolling down his face, clutching his prize with a weary grin of triumph.
Which was when Harry curtly stopped his scoffing.
Sure, Harry was a virtual spellbook on legs. He could also whip up new spells in a single night, should he feel the inclination. Strictly speaking, you needed a Spell-Creation? liscense from the Ministry to do this, but Harry was not old enough, and didn't feel like waiting three more years to get one.
But this, this was complex. Harry was impressed. Really impressed. Not that he'd ever tell Matt that, of course. Harry felt almost inadequete.
Harry's competitive spirit, usually quite dormant and subdued by the simple common sense that bringing attention to yourself by owning everyone around you like fresh noobs would bring unneccesary attention, was whipped into motion by those limiters being released. Matt already knew about Harry's hidden intelligence, and therefore, could be trusted keeping it a secret.
So nearly each night, each boy would confront the other with the sign of their toils, Harry, usually a new spell, Matt, another enchanted object created. Matt would grab a phoenix feather and bracelet and create a fire-shield, that supposedly would defend against all forms of fire, and Harry would test it by blasting it with different forms of dragonfire right out of his wand, in concentrated streams, in large conflagratory blasts, to test it's all around effectiveness.
The fact that the whole hall of the Chamber of Secrets was covered in scorch marks, projectiles stuck into walls, and everything else under the sun was a testamount to this.
Harry particularly liked nailing first years who weren't expecting it with his joke spell that shot piss at the concentrated velocity of a firehose, then, quickly disillusioning himself, so they were left dripping with urine in the middle of halls.
It seemed like a bliss that would never end.
Then, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrived. And the shit hit the fan.