Those Less Worthy
Disclaimer: The evil ducky figurine sitting on my cork board owns Harry Potter.
Author's Note: Wow! That response was … completely overwhelming! Thank you so, so much, everyone! Over fifty reviews, we finally broke 200! And 250! I am impressed! And the good news is, the high from those got me going for a few days, writing out pages and pages of plot and information and twists and drama and … -happy sigh-. I have so much planned for this fanfiction. Makes me wonder why I quit it for a year. -smacks past self on head- You stupid, stupid person!
Unfortunately, I started University about a month ago. I do apologise for the two-month wait! I'm very busy! Although, as other first-year uni students (who aren't doing engineering) will probably agree, it's not that it's hard per say, just that it's very, very tiring.
Anyway, enjoy the next chapter, and I'll look forward to hearing from you amazing people again! (The title "Leaping Toadstools" is just my way of saying that this chapter jumps around a lot. Much of it is simply setting the scene or starting off new plot points to be developed later. I'm not happy with how much this chapter hops around.)
Previously on 'Those Less Worthy':
Dumbledore welcomes Harry to the castle. Harry finally mourns the loss of his friends and community.
Chapter Twelve: Leaping Toadstools
Long slim fingers curled around the neck of his goblet, bringing the rim to his bloodless lips. Sheets of slick hair obscured his ears and jaw, black silk robes hung from his thin shoulders, and an aristocratically hooked nose emphasised every sneer and look he cast over the hundreds of teeming students before him. It was lunch, and today sliced beef and roasted vegetables with bread and copious amounts of sauce seemed to be the menu.
Severus Snape sniffed in distain, and turned to the man beside him.
"If you're going to sit beside me, Black, the least you could do is offer some sort of intelligent conversation, if such a thing is within your capabilities."
Sirius Black smirked handsomely and fingered the sleeve of his luxurious robes casually - specifically, the sleeve which hid his dark ebony wand.
"Ah, Severus, but where would be fun be in that, when it's much more entertaining to watch you suffer in silence?" Sirius' eyes darkened in a silent challenge, and Severus stiffened. The tension between the two men was tangible, the hate between them legendary, and their tolerance of one another barely worth mentioning. It was no small secret that the two loathed each other – which was most likely why Headmaster Dumbledore insisted on seating them together every year, to no avail. "Although, there was one thing on my mind-"
"Quite the remarkable achievement-"
"I couldn't help but notice you were late to the compulsory staff meeting on Tuesday-"
"Why Albus insists on scheduling those meetings when he knows I have potions to concoct for the Hospital Wing-"
"Which just so happens," Sirius' voice rose over Severus', ignoring his snide interruptions, "to have coincided with that attack in Northern Ireland, over 400 dead, you wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you Severus?"
The Potions Master sneered at the Defence prodigy beside him.
"Why should I hold myself accountable to you, Black? I am my own man, and no one else's. I have potions, very delicate, which cannot be put off or hastened, or weeks of brewing would be left in disaster-"
"Oh, what a shame," Sirius muttered sarcastically.
"The least you could do, Black, is have the dignity to hold a pleasant conversation when we are seated before the children!" Severus snapped shortly, digging a utensil into his plate and glaring down any student that dared glance towards the sudden noise from the staff table. "Have the decency to act like an adult, now that you are technically classified as one!"
"Quite right, Severus," a crisp, prime voice agreed from Severus' other side. The two dark-haired men turned to see Minerva McGonnagal, her hair wound tightly as usual, frowning lightly at the two of them. They hadn't aged a day since they had been students themselves, she mused to herself. "All this disagreement isn't good for the students, we are to provide a stable and united example, not fight among ourselves! Have some decorum, the both of you!"
Sirius smirked playfully and shook his head, releasing his sleeve and taking a deep sip of wine from the glass before him. Severus ignored them both, and turned his eyes towards the quietest of the four long tables - Ravenclaw.
In particular, one small, auburn first year, with painfully emerald eyes and unusually feminine features. Andrew Potter.
His lips pursed.
"Oh, Sirius, did you hear?" McGonnagal spoke across Severus, who made no attempt at hiding his annoyance.
"Hm?" Sirius glanced up.
"Harry Potter, little Andrew's brother – he finally woke this morning."
"Did he now?" Sirius' voice was unusually thoughtful, his eyes sparkling a little as they, too, looked down on the oblivious Andrew Potter.
"Hm, Poppy's over checking up on him now."
Severus hid his sour look by lifting his goblet once more, effectively cutting off the conversation between the two. His eyes were unreadable as they stared down at the youngest of the Potter children.
Harry's eyes were red and enflamed, but finally dry as he emerged from his allocated room behind the smiling Poppy. His cheeks were flushed with embarrassment as he remembered not only his breakdown at the table, but his father carrying him, him throwing himself into James' arms when he was set on his bed, and finally falling into a light slumber as he cried himself into exhaustion despite having just woken.
Then his mother had panicked, thinking he was relapsing, and dragged the Healer from her empty Hospital Wing to check on him. Of course, nothing was wrong – well, aside from the obvious, that is. Poppy had apologised profusely at finding she had woken him not from a magical coma, but from natural slumber – but he had laughed it off, choosing instead to leave his bed on shaky legs and brave the big, new world.
Poppy smiled at the ruffled teen, taking her leave quickly after feeling the silent alert that informed her she had a patient waiting for her in her office.
Harry didn't notice when the Healer left; instead, he took a seat at the now empty dining table, tapping his fingers on the wood and dragging his eyes over the large, open room. His mother and father had retreated to their own room, "to talk" they had told him as they parted ways in the corridor. Jonas had been dragged off by Louise while Harry had been sleeping, and the other occupants – who he had yet to be formally introduced to, he realised – had retreated into their various sanctuaries for the afternoon.
His eyes snagged in their examinations, however, when he spotted a familiar form sitting in the window seat at the far end of the room.
Her dark head turned, smiling as the noticed her oldest brother awake and moving of his own accord.
"'Ry!" she called happily, hopping down from the cushioned seat and moving quickly to her brother's side as he stood carefully. "Are you sure you should be up? I mean, after …" They both blushed lightly as memories of Harry's breakdown flooded their minds.
"I'm fine," Harry assured her, silently congratulating himself when he didn't waver as he stepped closer. "What were you doing?"
"Doing?" Sarah looked at him in confusion for a long moment, before following his eyes to the window seat and smiling in realization. "Oh! I was looking at one of the classes down there. I think it has something to do with animals, they're out on the grounds. Wanna join me?"
Harry nodded eagerly, and picked his way across the room, mentally thanking Sarah for not commenting when he stumbled against one soft-backed couch momentarily.
Sarah resumed her place on the high cushions, with her legs tucked under her as she sat back on her heels and peered through the thick glass carefully. Harry mirrored her position beside her, and reached up with a lightly trembling hand to unlock a latch and swing the upper-half of the glass open. A light breeze teased them, bringing with it echoes of laughter and voices caught by the wind.
The two leaned forward, eyes scouring the grounds, just in time to see two very familiar forms leave the grand front door and make their way down a gravel path towards the forest.
"Jonas?" Harry commented, pleasantly surprised. His eyes locked onto the small form of his brother as he happily chattered with his Master and teacher. Harry's lips quirked into a half-smile. "He seems to be enjoying himself."
"Isn't he just," Sarah rolled her eyes, leaning away from the window a little and running her gaze over her eldest brother one last time. "He's taken to the castle like a fish to water – but I think we all know the real reason he loves it here so much." The two shared a teasing smirk. Jonas had never spent so much time with his Master in one day, that to have her full attention for weeks and weeks unending must've been a dream come true for the enthusiastic herbologist-in-training.
Harry looked back down to the scene below, only for his smile to freeze, and a frown to come over him.
"What's-?" Sarah followed his gaze, and her smile fell as well as she read the situation with a practised eye. "Oh. Oh, Jona'," she sighed in exasperation, leaning her forehead against the window, unable to tear her eyes away even if she wanted to. Harry's hand found hers, and they watched silently as the drama below them unfolded.
"-and then, if you would believe it, later that summer I came across the most peculiar thing – three plants of Alihosty, as clear as can be, nesting right beside, actually sharing the same bed as a herd of glumbumble! Alihosty being nature's enemy to the glumbumble, I naturally thought I must have been mistaken – I checked the leaves, of course, and the points were sickle-shaped in nature, and there's no mistaking a glumbumble when one see's one, I can assure you – so then-"
Jonas soaked in every word his Master spoke, laughing at the absurdity of the situation, groaning at the twists and dramas she revealed, nodding at every new scrap of invaluable information she imparted. He had never felt so complete as the day when he had met her, and learning had never been so easy. He had never struggled in school, per say, but then again he'd never really excelled either. He'd passed, but he'd never had the passion that, say, Andrew had for learning.
But then that day had come. He'd crouched down to tend to the sparse trees in the park, a shadow had loomed over him, he'd looked up, met her eyes – and suddenly, he had felt as if the world stretched before him. Suddenly, he wanted to know everything, and he knew that she - this woman dressed in browns and greens and streaked with dirt on her cheeks and fingernails - was the one to teach him.
He smiled happily at the memory, and stepped faster to catch up when he threatened to fall behind her rapid pace to the Forbidden Forest.
The path they were taking wound down the hill gently, and they were nearly halfway there when, in a comfortable lull of their conversation, Jonas' attention was caught by a booming voice to their right. He glanced over to see an enormously large man towering over a class of students that looked to be the same age as Jonas, a sea of black cloaks with red, yellow, blue or green adorning their lapels. The large man – their teacher – was showing something to them, a streeler by the looks of things. Jonas couldn't hold back his sneer as his eyes caught on the beautifully coloured shell of the giant African, garden-eating snail. Notorious for its venomous slime, streelers were loathed by herbologists everywhere, and Jonas had thanked his lucky stars time and time again that they were native only to certain plains in Africa.
Jonas' eyes were still fixed hatefully on the snail when one dark head – a snake gleaming on the emblem of his robes – turned to stare at him, then sneer distastefully.
"What are you looking at, peasant?" the boy's remarkably unpleasant voice cut his teacher off, and drew the attention of the class towards Jonas and his gentle Master. The two paused in their descent towards the forest, Louise glancing to Jonas with worry, before nudging him to continue walking.
But Jonas couldn't. His attention had been caught by the dark-haired boy, and even though he knew he shouldn't have, even though he knew that he knew better, he couldn't help retorting,
"Just some lame-ass rich-boy who doesn't know when to shut his dimwitted gob." Jonas winced the moment the insult passed his lips, and felt the stern glare of his Master against the back of his head. But it didn't matter that he regretted his statement; what mattered what that is had already been said. And as much as he wanted to, he simply could not take it back.
The boy's stare hardened, and he took a single step towards them.
"How dare you insult me, you pathetic, ignorant halfwit. I saw you looking at us with that hateful look in your eye, I suppose your parents were too poor to send you here, so instead all you can do is envy us, and mock us," the boy spat angrily. Jonas' eyes flitted to the golden Gryffindors (Dad had always told him how chivalrous Gryffindors were at protecting others from the Slytherins' spite) only to stare in shock when he saw that same angry … no, superior look on their pale faces, as on the faces of their green-robed counterparts.
"Envy you?" Jonas scoffed, forcing his eyes back to the red-faced boy who challenged him. "Why in the world would I envy you? When I have my Master to teach me all I could ever dream about, I'm not stuck in this wood and stone prison you call a classroom. I'm learning things you would die to know – for example-" Jonas picked a mid-sized leaf from his pocket, and held it between two fingers gingerly. "Do you, in all your wondrous glory as a Hogwarts student, know what this is?"
Stop, Jonas could feel his conscious whispering to him as he felt the cool green of the harmless beech leaf against this skin. This isn't worth it. Stop. You'll get in trouble. Stop.
But as much as he wanted to, he couldn't. The dark-haired boy with the wide nose and flat blue eyes had lit something inside him, some sort of loyalty and fierce protectiveness he hadn't known he'd possessed, and suddenly, all he could think was to defend himself, and his family, against those who threatened and mocked them.
The boy – Malcolm Baddock – glanced to the leaf, then to his side where his best friend and personal tap for information on obscure Herbology assignments, Graham Pritchard, stood. The short, brown-haired teen was staring at the leaf in confusion, alternating between the green of the plant, and the ominous look on the young Potter's face.
"Should I?" Baddock braved, challenging the other young teen's bravado. "Looks like just another leaf to me!"
Jonas laughed, and let the leaf slip through his fingers – only for the leaf to suspend itself mid-air, and waft gently towards the silently watching students as if propelled by a gust of stray wind.
"That only shows you little you truly know about … the darker side of herbologists, hm?" Jonas smiled in a sickly-pleasant way, smirking at the say the students cringed as the leaf wafted close to them, before settling at the feet of the pair of Slytherins at their forefront. Their eyes were glued to the leaf, as if expecting it to – well, they didn't know what they expected it to do, but they were wary of it none the less.
Baddock licked his lips, and glared up to where Jonas was standing beside his silently watching Master.
"As if I'd fall for something like that!" he laughed nervously, his pale face revealing his true emotion as he struggled not to step away from the pale green leaf. "You're lying, you filthy peasant! Lying!"
"Jonas!" a sharp voice finally spoke up. Jonas glanced over his shoulder, meeting the eyes of his calm Master and sagging slightly. "That. Is. Enough."
Jonas turned back to the students, looked briefly at the innocent leaf, then shot a quick wink at the quivering students as he pulled his second-hand wand from an inner pocket. He threw a simple spell at the feet of the pale Slytherins, smirking when they flinched as the leaf burnt suddenly. The ashes spread with a silent breath of wind, and Jonas could've sworn he saw the students hold their breath as they floated past them.
When the silent pair had finally made their way down to the forest not two minutes later, Louise turned to her abnormally quiet student and said shortly,
"You should not have done that, Jonas." But then her eyes smiled. "Next time, use screechsnap. Much more intimidating than beech leaves."
Jonas broke into a smile, and the two carried on into the forest, empty bags waiting to be filled with their harvest, eager to hunt rare plants only found in the unique magical climate of Hogwarts. The incident was soon pushed to the far rear of his mind, as he busied himself in the monotonous, but invigorating hard work that accompanied herbology at its finest.
But little did he know that this one moment, this one simple encounter, would have repercussions for days, if not weeks, to come.
Oblivious to the teenage drama unfolding outside the stone walls of the famous castle, Lily and James Potter – after separating from their finally conscious son – were seated side by side on their luxurious king-sized bed. Their linked hands were resting gently on the deep-blue duvet between them, and their eyes were fixed on a hanging tapestry before them depicting a peaceful country scene. Two cattle grazed by the tapestry's edge, and twice every hour a lone hawk would swoop in the upper right corner.
Lily's startlingly green eyes dropped to her lap, and James' thumb brushed over the back of her smooth hand in comfort.
"James … oh, honey, what are we going to do?" Lily voiced in a hushed, pained whisper. James sighed, releasing his wife's hand so that he could wrap his arm across her shoulders and pull her against him gently. He pressed a kiss to her deep auburn hair and sighed.
"We'll keep looking, Lil's," he said in a low, patient voice. "We'll keep looking, and hoping that maybe – maybe they've forgotten now? Maybe they've forgiven us, after everything that's … after everything that's happened."
Lily shook her head.
"They won't have, James, why put yourself through that if you know that in the end-"
"Because you, our children, this family? You're everything to me, Lily, and what kind of father would I be if I couldn't keep this family alive? If I couldn't look after you the way you deserve to be looked after, if I couldn't spoil and treat you the way you deserve to be spoiled and treated?" James rubbed Lily's shoulder slowly. "I know it's going to be hard … long … painful, but … Lily. I need a job. I need a job, and you know it. And the first place to look – as it is with anyone who has ever looked for employment in this wizarding economy – is the Ministry."
Lily released a shaky breath and moved so that she could embrace her husband lovingly.
"Alright," she whispered. "But James, please. Don't let them get to you, alright? If they say no – then leave. We can find some other place, like we did before, alright?"
The two remained there, simply holding each other, for a very, very long time.
That night, Harry met Jannen Perks.
Jannen was fresh out of Hogwarts, two years older than Harry, with curly red hair and light brown eyes. Her sister, Sally-Anne, was the same age as Harry, yet only in her fifth year of Hogwarts. Jannen was tall, slim and pale, with deep bags under her eyes from sleepless nights, and short-trimmed nails worn down from biting and worrying at them.
Harry was opposite her when the collective survivors of the devastation of Were sat down that evening for dinner.
"How was your time in the Forest today, Jonas?" Lily asked her second son as they pulled up closer to the table and began to eat the meal laid out by the elves.
"Fine. We found a knot of leaping toadstools a few minutes in. Couldn't catch any, though. But … other than that …" Jonas glanced at his parents nervously, but when they didn't appear to be angry or demanding, he assumed Louise hadn't told them about the incident on the castle grounds, and neglected to inform them of it. "Nothing much happened.'
Harry and Sarah shot worried looks at each other, but said nothing.
The tall, weary-looking man who sat at the opposite end of the table to the Potters glanced between Harry and James, before finally speaking up as idle conversation gradually dropped off.
"I don't believe we've been introduced," he said quietly, speaking directly to Harry. "Samson Bletchey. This little man beside me – who you met during lunch …" everyone who had been present then shuffled awkwardly, "-is my youngest, Tony."
Harry nodded to the two of them, the young boy – who so painfully reminded Harry of his vanished friends – ducking his head shyly and saying nothing.
"It's a plea … erm …." Harry wasn't sure "pleasure" was the right word to use in a situation such as this, so decided to use instead, "It's nice to meet you, Mr Bletchley … Tony." His eyes glanced at the willowy red-head opposite him, but said nothing.
Nonetheless, she soon introduced herself, her voice tame and raspy.
"Jannen. It's nice to see you alive, Harry."
"You know me?"
"I've … heard of you," Jannen kept her eyes on her untouched plate, her fork chasing beans and meat without taking any of it.
Harry's eyes lowered when he realized what she meant. It wasn't so much him she'd heard of – rather, the things he did … the things his magic did.
"Oh," was all he could think to say. And there really wasn't much else one could say to that, after all.
Jannen returned to her room up the stairs the moment Tony left his soft-cushioned chair.
Harry's eyes followed her briefly, before he quickly turned away and busied himself with stacking plates alongside his brother and sister.
"I'm worried about Andrew."
Sarah looked up from behind a library Runes book, watching as Jonas closed the door behind him and joined his only sister where she sat against the headboard of her twin sized bed.
Taking note of the unusually serious look on her brother's face, Sarah slipped her finger into the book to mark her page, and set the tome aside, giving Jonas her full and undivided attention.
"What do you mean?"
Jonas sat cross-legged, picking at the threads of the bedspread before finally sighing and turning to meet Sarah's eyes.
Sarah nodded slowly. "And?"
"Sarah … Andrew last visited us on Sunday." Jonas' voice was heavy with implication, and Sarah's eyes closed as she was finally forced to face the facts she had almost deliberately been avoiding the past almost-week.
"Maybe … he's been bus-"
"He's a first year!"
Sarah breathed deeply, leaning forward and refusing to meet Jonas' bright, determined eyes.
"Sarah … he knows that we're here, he knows that Harry's condition is, or was in danger … and by now, based on stories Dad told us of the gossip mill when he was as Hogwarts, he probably knows that Harry's conscious again."
"So why hasn't he seen us?"
"Jonas, I know-"
"No, Sarah, you don't know! He hasn't come, Sarah, he is refusing to see his oldest brother, his brother who has always looked out for him and always make sure that-"
"Dammit, Jonas, I know!" Sarah finally shouted, throwing her heavy hardcover book on her bedside table angrily and swivelling on her knees to face her brother head-on. "I know that Andrew has changed, I know that he doesn't think about us as much as he should, I know that … that Andrew probably has a new family now, a Hogwarts one, and …" Sarah sniffed, lowering herself back to the bed and scrubbing one eye with the back of her wrist. "Jonas, I just don't … want to think about it, okay? We always wanted this for him, we always wanted one of us to go here, to have the chance to, to be great … but we never really thought about what that would mean."
Jonas sighed and shuffled his way to the edge of the bed, swinging his feet to the ground and leaning forward over his knees.
"I just … he's our brother, y'know?" Jonas spoke slowly, making every word count. "If I had been the one to go to Hogwarts, I know I wouldn't have changed like he has. I would still care about Harry, and you, and Mum and Dad."
Sarah's eyes lit up in understanding, and she regarded her second eldest brother sadly.
"Jonas … this isn't your fault."
"But what if it is?" Jonas turned, staring hard at Sarah and clenching his fists against his legs. "What if I didn't try hard enough, or didn't talk to him enough, or teased him too much and it made him like – like this? What if-"
"Jonas … this is Andrew's choice," Sarah said quietly, retaking her book and opening it to the right page once more. "Just let him be. He'll come around. Trust me."
Jonas took one last look at her, before shaking his head, and leaving silently.
Sarah's eyes remained glued to the pages of her book. But she wasn't taking in a single word. Instead, she was thinking … remembering … and wishing, more than she had ever wished for anything before in her life, that what she had said would become true.
Commentary: Character Design
One or two people have commented on my character design, in particular of the Potter Siblings, so I've decided to dedicate a small commentary to how I decided on their personality, names, and so on.
First and foremost, their personality. I know that many writers draw from people around them, from people that they admire, or from characters they've read in other texts. I, however, drew Jonas, Sarah and Andrew from the Harry Potter series itself. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but there are four Potter Children; just as there are four Hogwarts houses. Harry is (or will be) the Gryffindor we all know and love. Andrew, the only one to be officially sorted, is a Ravenclaw. Sarah, with her tricks, blackmail and sneaky nature, is the Slytherin of the family. And Jonas, with his undying loyalty for his brothers and sister, is the Hufflepuff. The idea behind this was to demonstrate how well the four can work together and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. In the books, the four houses were always shown distinctively apart from one another, rarely interacting, and as very different people. In this family, I'm trying to show how wrong that idea is, and how the qualities seen in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin can be used together to great advantage.
Physically, all that needed to be done was mix and match Lily and James' appearances, and try not to have them all as carbon-copies of their parents. Harry; James' features, James' hair, Lily's eyes and body type. Jonas; mixed features, James' hair and eyes, James' body type. Sarah; Lily's features and eyes, James' hair (with Lily's length.) Andrew; Lily's hair, Lily's eyes, James' features.
And finally, the names. One problem I always find with creating original characters in the Harry Potter universe, is that the names one creates never quite fit in with the unique names JK has chosen. Even now, I'm still not satisfied entirely with the names I chose.
Jonas Christopher Potter – 'Jonas,' for the biblical story of the boy Jonah who was trapped in a whale's stomach for three days, and survived. I'm not sure why this story has stuck with me, but it was the first name that came to mind, so I kept it. The second name 'Christopher' is dedicated to my first brother, whose name is also Christopher.
Sarah Angela Potter – 'Sarah' for two reasons; first, it fits with the "normal" vibe the Potters seem to prefer in their children's' names; and secondly, after a childhood friend I always looked up to. 'Angela' is named after one of my closest friends, who I admire greatly for her intelligence and sadistic nature.
Andrew Mark Potter – 'Andrew' after a classmate of mine from my first year of high school, and 'Mark' for no other reason than I think it is a very manly name.
And finally, because someone commented that they'd forgotten the Potters' ages, I thought I'd add their dates of birth and current ages just for reference:
Harry James Potter; 1st August 1980; currently aged 16. (Yes, he really IS born in August, not July.)
Jonas Christopher Potter; 24th March 1983; currently aged 13.
Sarah Angela Potter; 3rd February 1984; currently aged 12.
Andrew Mark Potter; 15th June 1985; currently aged 11.
And the date as at the end of this chapter is Thursday 7th November 1996.