The Potter Politics
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoats Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.
The Potions Professor
The door of the Potions classroom in the dungeons banged open and a heavy set man wearing a rather tight vest entered, striding rapidly towards the podium in front of the class of first year Slytherins and Gryffindors.
Harry observed his Head of House, Horace Slughorn as the man turned around to face them on top of the small podium. Honestly, Harry thought that his Head of House looked a bit like a walrus, with his effusive features, wispy hair, short moustache and enormous body.
"Welcome to first year potions." The professor addressed the classroom, opening his arms wide in a gesture of his words. "Every one of you here has by now seen some of the many wonders and glamour's of Hogwarts. You have probably been enamoured by the sheer power and complexity of the subjects that you have seen so far. Transfiguration, where you can change one element to another with just a flick of your wand; Charms, where you can enchant anything you wish," Professor Slughorn continued enthusiastically, while looking at each student in the eye at least once. When he came to Harry sitting near the very end of the Slytherin rows, he gave him a small wink. "Defence Against the Dark Arts, where you learn to combat and defend yourself against the malevolent forces that stalk our land, well that's the official line, most of you only learn how to jinx and hex your friends and adversaries."
Laughter broke out among students at this, most prominently among the Gryffindors. None of the first years yet had a Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson and most were eager to begin. Harry himself had heard rumours from fellow students that the defence professor, Severus Snape was an extremely capable wizard and very knowledgeable about the Dark Arts, though he was supposed to be extremely short tempered and very over-bearing on anyone not from Slytherin.
Harry looked back at Slughorn as he heard the man resume. "As such most of you would wonder about the need for brewing potions. Do not listen to those who would say that Potions are only for those that cannot achieve true magic with wands. Indeed, Potions is not quite like the magic you've seen yet. Oh no, no they are not. They are more powerful and more subtle than any magic that you can fathom do with your wand."
The man stopped slightly giving the class a moment to take in what he had said. Harry found the man quite amiable. He wasn't as strict as McGonagall had been in her very first class and neither as casual as Flitwick either. Yet, he still had the ability to simply capture his audience's minds.
"As such it is my fervent hope that you will strive hard to become at the very least decent brewers and will try to achieve at least an Acceptable when you sit for your O.W.L's."
Owls, thought Harry confused. What did he mean sit on owls?
Wizards were rather strange, he had found that, but he didn't know if they were as strange as being required to sit on owls. Harry had no doubt that his owl, Hedwig would rather mind that. He snorted at the weird mental thought. Most likely, Harry assumed it was just another term he hadn't heard of.
From his satchel, Harry picked out a thin notebook with coloured pages that had once belonged to Dudley. He flicked through the first few pages filled with untidy scrawling of terms and phrases that he had heard in the Wizarding world, since, his inception in it a few months back when Hagrid had come. As he turned a few more pages, he realised just how many things there was that he didn't even have a cursory knowledge of. He had almost finished a quarter of the notebook in just a week that he had been in Hogwarts. He scribbled down untidily the word Owls with question marks in front of it.
He planned to go to the library to search out the meaning of the terms. It might have been easier and less tedious to just ask some of his fellow students. But Harry rather liked the feeling of doing it on his own. More importantly, he was rather embarrassed to ask his dorm-mates about things that were probably considered elementary knowledge in the Wizarding world, especially when he himself was apparently so famous that just about every one that he had met so far knew about him and his story.
Harry put the notebook back into his satchel and turned towards the teacher who was writing something on the blackboard. Well, exactly the writing was appearing by itself on the board; the professor just made a few swishes of his wand every now and then.
"All right," the professor turned towards them, "if I know my colleagues, just about none of you have actually begun to use magic in your classes just yet. Only learning the theory drivel that they are feeding you at this point." The professor looked on questioningly and most of the student mumbled a positive. "Well," the man continued, "we will eschew that procedure and start with some practical application of what you're going to learn in my class."
The entire class sat up straight at those words. None of them had been yet allowed to do magic in the class and only been told that it could be dangerous for those who didn't even know the theory. So, they were given lectures on how magic was done and performed while being unable to do so. And suddenly there was a Professor who was willing to allow them to do something real.
"You will find the instructions on the board. Your goal is to make a working Boil Cure Potion. I definitely do not expect a perfect potion, but what I need to see is your dedication, skill and concentration."
"You may begin." Harry turned to note down the ingredients from the blackboard to his copy when the professor's voice again sounded. "Did I mention that there was a reward?" If anything, everyone turned to look at the Professor with curiosity and anticipation. "Oh yes," the Professor smiled, "there is a reward. The person who submits the best potion will get this." He fished out a bottle of dark white potion from the pockets of his coat. "This is a Reminiscence Retention Draught that will help you remember anything you read for a week."
"Now, now, remember, memory draughts are not to be used in exams. Do not try it either. Since, you will most definitely get caught. Also, to whosoever, wins this potion," he said, shaking the vial in front of the class, "take it within a week itself. Memory draughts have a low shelf life and turn practically useless after a few weeks." He gestured with his hand for the class to begin and put the phial on his table, in full view of everyone.
Harry looked at the vial of potion greedily. This could really help him out. He would remember everything that he would read for a week. That was great. No longer would he feel so hopelessly behind everyone.
Harry quickly took note of the ingredients needed and walked over to the student's cupboard and waited in line behind the students who were gathering their stuff. The girl in front of him, with lots of bushy hair was muttering something under her breath. Feeling curious, Harry tried to catch her words, only to realise she was muttering the recipe of the potion verbatim. Harry turned to look at the blackboard and saw the score of long lines that precisely described each of the different steps of the potion, and then looked back at the girl in front of her.
She had memorised that in a few minutes. Wow!
His chances of winning the potion were becoming shorter. He looked back at the blackboard and squinted to read the lines and started memorising them himself. He had only read through the first two lines when a girl behind him tapped his shoulder. He looked back a bit irritably only to see her nod in front of him. Harry turned around and saw to his dismay that the people in front of him were done picking their ingredients. He hastily stepped towards the cupboard and took the ingredients required and hurried over to his seat.
With precise hand movements, Harry shaved off the porcupine quills, as his Boil Cure Potion beside him bubbled a thin, light whitish colour. Harry gave his potion another look out of the corner of his eye and huffed. The potion should have turned a light grey by now after the addition of the stewed snake fangs, and probably a bit denser too. He had followed the steps correctly, yet it was not as it should have been. He turned off the flame that was heating the potion and dropped the clean porcupine quills into it, which turned it into a dirty white, instead of the off-white it was supposed to be.
Harry took a few steps back from the rising vapours of the potion and allowed it simmer for a while as the instructions demanded. He turned and looked around at the class at large. Most people had their sweating faces bent over their cauldrons. From the looks of it, his potion was far from the worst in the class. Harry gave a sigh of relief at that. Actually, only a few students had achieved a better result than him, the bushy haired girl's potion had turned a proper light grey, though it still did not have that off-white shade to it that was mentioned in the instructions.
Harry noticed the professor had gotten up from his chair and was making rounds of the class. He would stop by to peek into someone's potion and mutter something to the student. Harry saw the man speaking lowly to a slightly pudgy looking Gryffindor, who looked extremely nervous. Harry assumed his potion was the reason for that. It had turned a dark green instead of the various shades of white that his fellow classmates had produced and was giving of copious amount of acidic smoke. The professor muttered something and the boy turned to look at Slughorn with an expression that hinted that he had just been rescued from some grievous danger.
Harry turned back to his potion and increased the flame and got back to working on it.
"Very good, Harry. Very good." Harry gave a slight jump and turned to look behind him, his heart thumping in his chest at the sudden voice. Professor Slughorn was standing right behind him and was peeking into his potion. Harry's Head of House continued, "Easily one of the finest attempts in the class. But then again, I shouldn't be surprised considering what a Potions prodigy your mother was." He nodded to himself as if it confirmed something and turned his head up to look at Harry.
Harry on the other hand was pretty much shocked. His Head of the House knew his mother. It was possible of course; Hagrid had told him that his parents had gone to school here. So it was likely that there would be those who would remember them. Harry felt a surge of pride as he fully registered the Professor's words. His mother had been good at Potions and he was good at it too, according to his teacher. Harry found himself smiling slightly at that.
"Stay behind after the class, will you Harry?" The professor muttered before moving onto another student's cauldron.
Harry blinked at the strange demand. Crossing his fingers, he hoped he was not in some kind of trouble. Watching that the professor was already busy with checking someone else's work, Harry got back to finishing his potion.
"All right, time's up. Fill up a vial with your potion, label it with your name and leave it on my desk." The professor announced to the class.
The students got busy doing as they were bid to do. Harry neatly labeled his potion vial and left it at the teacher's desk.
Slughorn sat down at his desk and started checking all the vials. The rest of the class waited with bated breath to find out who had won the potion. Harry was sure that he would not win. While his attempt may have been good, it was far from the best in the class.
"The clear winner," Slughorn said, picking up a phial of proper off-white coloured potion. Harry's heart sank. Yes, he hadn't expected to win, but still. "And the winner is ... Mr. Blaise Zabini. Come here, Mr. Zabini."
A dark looking Slytherin kid slid out from his table and walked towards the Professor with a proud smile on his face. "Well done, m'boy. Well done." Slughorn said, thumping Zabini's back.
"Here is your rightfully earned potion." Blaise pocketed the Reminiscence Retention Draught with a smirk and walked back to his set.
"Well, that's all for today. In the next class, we'll discuss this potion and some of the rules governing the art of potion making."
With that the class dispersed. Harry remained behind and watched the rest of the class slowly shuffle out of the classroom.
Soon the only people left were Harry and Slughorn. Harry slowly approached the Professor, who was flicking through some notes on his desk.
"Um ... Sir, you asked for me?" Harry queried in a small voice. He was getting rather apprehensive with the lone one-to-one with his Head of House.
Slughorn looked up from his papers and gave Harry a large smile. "Oh! Yes, yes."
"No need to be afraid Mr. Potter, you are not in any trouble. If anything, your potion was quite exemplary for someone who has not had much knowledge about magic," he said effusively.
"Err ... Thank you, sir," Harry replied politely.
"Now, of course, you're wondering, why I asked you to stay behind?" Slughorn did not bother for an answer before continuing, "Well, you see Harry, I've a small get together tomorrow evening and I would like you to join me. I've heard of the rather curious nature of your upbringing, growing up with Muggles and then suddenly finding about your heritage. It can be a large shock for even a common Muggle-born. But Harry, you are the Boy-Who-Lived, and I'm sure that it has been quite difficult for you to adjust to your new surroundings and the culture, especially with all the hype surrounding your return. Getting to know your fellow wizards and witches Harry will help you adjust better."
"Now, now, there is no need to be nervous, m'boy. It is just a common get together. You will even find some your own classmates there. Why Mr. Zabini and Mr. Malfoy are coming. You need not worry, you will find yourself right at home."
Slughorn looked at Harry smilingly, waiting for an answer. Harry did not really know what to say. He was sure he could not refuse, not that he wanted to either.
"I would be honoured to come, sir." Harry said with extreme politeness. If the Dursley's had done one thing, it was that they had drilled into Harry's head about proper etiquette while talking to his apparent betters.
"Excellent, excellent. Hope to see you tomorrow then, Harry." Slughorn gave a large smile towards the young boy.
Harry noticing the dismissal turned around and started walking. He had not even taken two steps, before an idea formed in his head.
He turned back towards his Professor, who had gone back to his notes and slowly asked, "Um ... Sir, I ... eh ..." Harry hesitated.
Slughorn immediately glanced up from his papers and said, "Have something on your mind, m'boy. Don't be afraid ... ask away."
"Sir, I was wondering if you knew my parent's well," Harry asked in one breath before he lost his nerves.
"Ah, Lily Evans and James Potter." Slughorn sighed and leaned back on his chair, suddenly appearing very tired. "Yes, Harry, I knew them. I knew them well enough," he said softly.
"It's just that I don't know them," Harry said badly. And then paused, before saying slowly in a weak voice, "I mean I know their name and how they died. And Hagrid told me they were Gryffindors. But I don't know anything else. I don't know what they were like and not even what they looked like," Harry finished.
"I was just wondering sir, if it's not too much of a trouble, could you tell me a bit about them," Harry asked apprehensively. "Of course, I'd understand if you are too busy. I just thought that I should ask," Harry finished in a small voice.
Slughorn opened his eyes and looked at Harry with a strange emotion that Harry couldn't quite discern. "Not at all, m'boy. Why don't you do one thing? You are coming to the get together tomorrow, aren't you? Stay behind, after everyone's done and let me see if I can't tell you some funny anecdote of your parent's school life."
"Thank you, sir," said Harry gratefully and turned to leave. He had grabbed his slung bag and was about to walk out of the classroom when Slughorn's voice interrupted him.
"She was one of my favourites, you know." Harry turned back to look at his Professor. Slughorn was staring ahead of him, a distant look in his eyes, as if lost in the memories of the past.
"Vivacious, she was. Lily Evans," he spoke the name with a soft sigh. "Very beautiful and very lively. She was full of life. You know, she could put a smile on my face every time I saw her. Anyone who has ever met her couldn't help but fall in love with her. She was that kind of person."
Slughorn jerked his head, as if trying to clear his head of painful thoughts.
"Your father on the other hand was quite the hellion. Brilliant mind and exceptional talent, he had a penchant for creating mayhem wherever he went. But he was loved too. His funny antics, you could not help but laugh, no matter how angry you're at him for making an explosive potion instead of the Draught of Peace." Slughorn shook his head slightly, a soft smile touching his lips. "I can't really say that I knew James as well as I did Lily. But he was a brilliant boy, very talented. Probably one of the more skilled students to have walked the halls of Hogwarts ... even if he was turning those very halls into marshes," he finished with a laugh.
He looked at Harry, as if noticing for the first time that he was still there. "Oh dear, you'll be late for your next class. Here, I'll write you a note." He quickly scribbled something on a paper. Harry moved to pick it up but Slughorn gave a tiny flick of his wrist and the note flew into the air turning into a small paper-bird before coming to rest on Harry's open hand.
"Off you go now, Harry. I'll see you tomorrow night."
Harry quickly shuffled out of the classroom, thinking about all the things his Head of House had told him about his parents.
A.N: This is a new AU story that I am writing. It will feature a politically aware Harry, who will use his political might to defeat his enemies and gain power.
Instead of a thorough step-by-step development of the story, I will be telling most of the story in snippets. It will be sequential, but I will be jumping to the major plot points.
Acknowledgments: Credit goes to Aekiel, who first came up with the basic theme of the story.