A young pale skinned boy, thin and lanky with dark messy hair, badly repaired glasses and a lost look on his face sits quietly in the dark. His green eyes seem to flash as he spots a spider crawling around the barely lit confines of his cupboard under the stairs. He doesn't mind spiders though; they're amongst his only friends in the dark.
He reaches down and gently sets the spider on his palm. "You're just like me", he says softly, "safe in the dark, but in danger as soon as the light hits you." He sets the spider down, carefully, and sadly watches it scurry away. Moments later, he falls into a doze.
A beautiful redhead with enchanting green eyes lets out a horrified scream. A flash of green light cuts through the air, followed by high, cold, maniacal laughter as the woman's body hits the ground. Then, a pair of glowing red eyes replaces the green of the fallen woman, followed by another flash of green light.
Harry shot straight up, panting and dripping cold sweat. 'Another nightmare', he thought. He stretched his shoulders and rolled the stiffness out of his neck, slowly allowing his eyes to adjust to the dim light of his cupboard. After a few moments, he arose with a sigh, cramming his glasses onto his face as he opened the door to his little hidey-hole. He grudgingly trudged towards the kitchen to make 'ikkle Duddikins' special birthday breakfast. '..Stupid fat whale should be given a special diet, not special meals. Fat tub o' lard..' he thought venomously, as he started the bacon, eggs, kippers, and pancakes. Shortly after, Aunt Petunia walked into the kitchen.
"Freak!" she called, her voice shrill, cutting through Harry's bleary morning.
"Freak! You'd better not ruin my precious Dudley's birthday, or you'll wish you'd died along with your freakish parents." She spat, beady eyes glaring holes into the back of Harry's skull.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia" Harry replied in a sullen seconds later, the stairs creaked and groaned, announcing the arrival of Harry's morbidly obese male relatives. Whale Sr.: Uncle Vernon, and Whale Jr.: Dudley.
"Boy! You'd best have that breakfast done and Dudley's presents out!" Vernon shouted, his face nearing its familiar shade of waddled to a chair in the kitchen, fat jiggling with each step, and plonked himself down with a grunt.
"Mummy! Why does the freak have to come today?" he whined. His greedy eyes darted around as he swiftly counted the pile of presents on the table.
"Thirty seven?!" he yelled. "Why's there only thirty-seven presents! I had thirty-six last year!"
Petunia, ever the doting mother, sensed the oncoming tantrum, and in an effort to circumvent it, replied, in a sickeningly sweet, loving voice: "Duddikins, we'll stop on the way to the zoo and get you two more presents. How's that sound pumpkin?" She bustled around the table and draped herself over her small mountain of a child in a very odd approximation of a hug. "The freak" she said, pausing to emphasize the word, "has to come because old Mrs. Figg is going to visit her son."
'Yeah, visiting her son. Wonder whose brilliant suggestion that was? Good going Harry, you get to visit the snakes at the Zoo' Harry thought, congratulating himself silently.
The year prior, Harry had discovered one of the many reasons his relatives considered him a freak. While planting Aunt Petunia's rose bushes that summer, Harry had heard a quiet voice complaining that there were not enough mice around. Looking around he only spotted a small, smooth snake.
The small grey snake then looked directly at Harry and hissed, "Ssstupid humansss alwaysss ssstaring or trying to kill ussss." Harry, in a moment of shock, stumbled back and replied, unknowingly hissing; "I really mussst be a freak. I ssswear that sssnake wasss jussst talking to me."
The snake's eyes flashed once. "Ahh, you ssspeak the noble tongue! Not a freak, but a wizard, I believe. I am called Ssslither, hatchling." The newly named Slither, replied.
"Wizard?" Harry asked; curiosity dancing in his eyes.
Harry and Slither continued their conversations for a year. In that time, Harry came to value the small creature's companionship and more importantly, his conversations with the snake. That summer, Harry gleaned all of Slither's knowledge of the Wizarding World, and was promptly informed of his technically useless status as the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. Unfortunately for them both, Aunt Petunia caught the snake in the garden and killed him in a fit of panic. 'Stupid horse-faced bint', he thought bitterly is they drove the zoo. In losing Slither, he'd lost his only friend.
Having arrived at the zoo, they meandered through the multitude of exhibits. Finally, they made it to the reptile house after two hours of Dudley's incessant whining about boring animals. Spotting a King Cobra sleeping, Dudley ran up to the hooded serpent's glass enclosure, and slammed his hammy fists on the glass, waking the snake from its sleep, before waddling to the next window.
"Sssorry about my idiot cousssin," Harry hissed to the snake.
"Quite alright. Unfortunately it happensss all the time, young ssspeaker," the cobra replied in a feminine voice.
"My name isss Harry. What isss yoursss ssserpent?" he asked.
"I wasss called Aiolosss by my mother before I wasss taken."
"I wasss brought here from India, a year or two ago" Aiolos paused and chuckled a snakey, hissing laugh "At leassst I managed to bite the sssucker who got me."
"Sssorry to hear that. I know what itsss like to be held captive."
"Ssspeaker Harry, could I asssk you a favour?" the snake asked, softly.
"Of courssse you can, Aiolosss; what isss it?"
"I would like to leave thisss place" she said. As Aiolos said this, Harry was knocked to the ground by Dudley who had abruptly thrust his face against the glass to see the cobra that had stood up while talking to, glared, and focused his anger and the barest hints of magic he could feel within himself, and then smirked gleefully as he saw the effects.
"AHH!" Dudley screamed, as the glass separating him from the hooded serpent vanished, and he fell in, flailing as he drew the attention of everyone in sight.
With a grateful nod to Harry, Aiolos slithered out. As she did, Harry whispered, "Quick! Coil around me and I'll get you out of here!"
A crowd had gathered as Dudley, now trapped in Aiolos' former enclosure, began to hammer and wail against the glass that had replaced itself just as quickly as it had vanished. When a sobbing, splotchy-faced Dudley had finally been returned to his equally distraught and splotchy-faced mother, the four of them rushed to the car. All the while, Harry received glares and hissed insults from his Aunt and Uncle.
"You're going to get it when we get home freak," Uncle Vernon snarled at Harry.
Harry, thinking of what had happened to Slither, hissed quietly "Aiolosss, you had better take your chance now if you want to live."
"I think I will ssstay with you hatchling, if I may."
"Of courssse, but thisss won't be pleasssant." He hissed sullenly, sure that his cruel relatives would take his newest friend away, the same as they had with Slither.
"We will sssee, hatchling. Worry not." She hissed reassuringly.
Upon their arrival at number 4 Privet Drive, Harry prepared himself for the beating of his life. Not bothering to cower or hide, he morosely stood his ground as his purple-faced, furious Uncle cocked a fat, chunky fist back to strike him.
Just as Vernon was about to hit him, Aiolos rose up from around Harry's waist, and hissed menacingly at the Dursleys. All of a sudden, Vernon's fury and bravery faded quickly in the face of Aiolos' long, glistening fangs and forked tongue.
As Vernon stopped dead in his tracks, Harry looked down to the cobra around his waist, then up to his relatives' stunned faces and back down to the snake once more. Struck by an idea, a smirk that could only be described as evil, slowly worked its way across his face.
Harry looked square into his Uncle's eyes, and chuckled. "I think things are going to change around here, Uncle." Not taking his eyes off of the pale, normally ruddy, fat man in front of him, he hissed to his newfound friend.
"Thanksss Aiolosss. Asss a Wizard, I believe I am allowed a familiar. Would you be interesssted?"
With a bob of her hooded head, Aiolos flicked her forked tongue out in amusement. "It would be my honour, hatchling." She hissed back.
The Dursley family could only watch in terror, quivering at the hissed conversation between the black haired boy and his new serpentine companion.
"Now Uncle, if you hadn't guessed yet, I've managed to find out about magic - something you clearly thought you could hide from me without a problem." He paused, and flashed a cocky grin, "Here's how things are going to work from now on."
He began pacing in front of them while listing his conditions, ticking each one off on his fingers. "I'm going to be staying in the guest room, and will receive a fair share of the food. The only chores I'll be doing will be cooking and garden-work, since I actually find those enjoyable. There will be no more hitting, no more yelling, and no more insults, because I really doubt my new friend here will appreciate that" he said, pausing as he indicated the cobra around his waist.
He stopped his pacing, and continued; "I will also be getting new clothing, and if you have a problem with anything I just listed, then just remember that Aiolos is a king cobra, and that her venom is fatal. She's also not fully grown, as she's only a meter and a half long. I think I remember hearing that cobras can grow up to five and a half meters long. And, y'know that little conversation she and I just had?" he asked rhetorically, with a mad grin on his face, before launching back into his tirade "She called me her hatchling. Meaning she'd kill you to protect me without even a second thought. Now if you lot will excuse me, I need to get comfortable in my new room."
After a month of scaring the Dursleys and eating right, coupled with daily runs and push ups, Harry was finally starting to look his age. He no longer looked like a scrawny, depressed, underfed, eight-year-old boy, and was now starting to look more like an eleven-year-old who exercised regularly and lived a healthy lifestyle. With Aiolos' help, he'd also managed to convince (or coerce, depending on your perspective) his Aunt to purchase him several sets of contact lenses, which allowed his brilliant emerald eyes to shine.
He had grown his normally unruly hair out past his shoulders, which had the surprising bonus of taming it while also conveniently covering his scar. He'd also managed a full wardrobe overhaul, with everything from shorts and undershirts, to jeans, tee-shirts and even some dressy clothing. Looking at his calendar, he cracked a grin. 'Finally!' he thought 'I get my letter today! Happy Birthday to me!'
Harry turned towards his snake and asked; "Aiolosss, do you want to come to Diagon Alley with me today?"
"I would love to youngling. Anything to get away from thisss pack of ssswine we live with."
Moments later, a tawny owl flew in through Harry's open window, dropped an envelope on his bed, and hooted twice, as if waiting for him to open the letter. Harry smiled again, and turned his attention to the letter on his bed. Opening the envelope, he unfolded the parchment before him.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY LIST OF SUPPLIES
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags.
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS
ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK
Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions
Taking out a pen, he wrote a quick reply saying that he would be attending and gave it back to the owl. Harry, now armed with his letter, dressed swiftly. He decided on a white tank top, a black button-down shirt with silver buttons, black slacks and his favorite pair of black steel–toed boots. He shook his hair out of his eyes, and pulled a few locks to the side, to cover his scar.
Curiously; Aiolos, after having bonded with Harry through the Wizard-Familiar pact, gained some magical properties. With a satisfied hiss, she slithered up his body and sunk into his skin, appearing as a tattoo that coiled around his shoulders and right arm. He slowly descended down the stairs, reveling in what would soon be a great deal of newfound freedom for both he and his familiar.
Upon reaching the kitchen, he addressed his uncle; "I've received my Hogwarts letter and need to go to Diagon Alley today." He smirked, as all colour seemed to leave his Uncle's normally ruddy face. "You can drop me off there; I'll find my own way back." He said, with a mirthless smile.
Uncle Vernon managed a barely polite, "Fine, let's go now and get this rubbish over with."
Uncle Vernon pulled up to Charing Cross Road, and with a wordless wave of dismissal, Harry let himself out of the car. He grinned widely and absorbed his first glimpse of Magical London. What appeared to be a broken down shop front to muggles was actually a cheery, brightly lit pub filled to the brim with wizards and witches. This; was the Leaky Cauldron – the most commonly used entrance to Diagon Alley.
Opening the door of the pub, Harry carefully brushed his hair over his forehead, ensuring that his scar was covered. Keeping his head down, he headed straight to the back of the pub, out into the chilly courtyard, and managed to catch someone tapping on the back wall with a wand. As the other wizard walked through, he waited a few seconds, then swiftly darted through the magically moved bricks just in time, and turned to watch the bricks rapidly shift back into place.
In his head he heard Aiolos say, "You ssshould head to their bank firssst", and nodded in agreement. As he made his way to Gringotts, he managed to keep his face neutral, not wanting to look out of place. But on the inside, as only he and Aiolos could tell, he was jubilant and gleeful at the thought of being back amongst his he made his way into the bank, he almost stopped dead in surprise at the sight of the Goblin warrior guards.
"Goblinsss", Aiolos hissed, "ssshow ressspect and dignity to them while not ssshowing fear or intimidation and they will do the sssame."Harry straightened up and schooled his features once more before walking to the first open teller he saw.
"What do you want," the Goblin barked out.
"My name is Harry Potter and I was told by a friend that there may be some money here, in my name, Sir." Harry managed calmly.
"What do you mean 'may', Mr. Potter, where is your key?" the goblin asked a bit more politely.
"I mean exactly what I said and I have never received a key."
"I think you need to speak to the manager, Ragnok. Follow me." The goblin got down from his perch and motioned for Harry to follow him. They walked down many halls for several minutes and eventually stopped in front of two enormous gold doors. The doors were ornately decorated, with embossed designs and symbols, and the seal of Gringotts prominently featured in the middle. A pair of fierce looking, armored, spear-wielding Goblins stood in front of the doors.
The Goblin teller walked forward as the guards pulled their weapons away, knocked then stepped back. Thirty seconds later a voice called out "Enter!" and the doors creaked open. They walked in to the enormous office where a Goblin, presumably Ragnok, sat behind a magnificent desk. The goblin moved forward and spoke to Ragnok in a strange language Aiolos called Gobbledygook and then left.
"Mr. Potter, it seems some grave mistakes have been made," Ragnok spoke.
"What mistakes sir, and please call me Harry."
"Then call me Ragnok, Harry." Ragnok sighed and appeared to be lost in thought for a moment. "As it stands, you are a young wizard about to start his schooling career. You, however, do not have your vault key, and are very clearly unaware of the will left to you by your parents. Both of these things should have been bestowed upon you by your magical guardian" said the Goblin, eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion.
"I didn't even know magic was real until recently!" Harry exclaimed, partly surprised, partly irritated at the thought that all of this had been intentionally kept from him for so long, by some mysterious and unknown individual. "Please Ragnok, tell me who my magical guardian is, and if possible, I'd like to hear my parents' will." Harry replied urgently.
"Your magical guardian was Albus Dumbledore" Ragnok replied. 'But that's not going to be true for very much longer' he thought, before continuing; "We can have the will read immediately, after which you will be given a new key, following the requisite blood tests."
"Thank you Ragnok, and what did you mean by was?"
"Since you are the last and only heir of a Noble and Ancient House, you are granted emancipation on your eleventh birthday." Ragnok paused to take in the Harry's surprised look, before smiling a toothy grin. "Though you are not yet 17, your emancipation grants you exemption from the Underage Magic Decree, and as soon as you place that ring upon your finger, the Trace will be lifted from you."
Harry's mind was a blur as he processed the information that was just revealed to him. Thoughts racing, and emotions at an all-time high, he grinned. "Ragnok, sir, that's probably the best news I've heard since I received my letter. What do I need to do for the blood test?" Ragnok, in response, pulled out a blank piece of parchment and a silver dagger with symbols carved into the hilt.
"You will need to prick your finger and let three drops fall onto the parchment, please."
Harry took the dagger, and very lightly pricked his finger over the parchment. He let three drops fall, slowly, and blinked in surprise as the cut sealed itself.
The parchment flashed with a magical light, and the blood rapidly swirled and formed writing.
Hardwin 'Harry' James Potter: July 31, 1980 –
Son of Lily Potter (nee Evans): January 30, 1960-October 31, 1981
And James Ignotus Potter: March 27, 1960-October 31, 1981
"My name's Hardwin James.." Harry mumbled, having never known that.
Ragnok looked at the parchment, nodded his head and waved his hand. A burnished wooden box appeared upon his desk with a small bundle of documents. Ragnok open the box, revealing a red, velvet cushioned interior, and turned it towards Harry. Nestled within their own specific indents were two keys and a signet first key looked old, and seemed to be the typical iron skeleton key. The second key was similar to the first key, but was a larger, shimmering gold with a ruby on the end of the key's ring.
Finally, Harry took in the signet ring, his eyes widened in shock. It was a large, masterfully worked gold and ruby piece, featuring a wide gold band with inlaid ruby vines on the shoulders. Nestled within the vines on the left was a phoenix with unfurled wings, and similarly, on the right, a griffin on its hind legs, with a sword clasped in its front talons. The center stone was a shimmering ruby, cut in the old European style with a 'P' carved into the topmost facet of the gem, and then filled with gold filigree. Harry's eyes shone with delight as he studied the details of the ring, recognizing the mythical beasts from a book he'd read at the library.
Ragnok spoke, "The smaller key is to your trust vault, the gold key with the ruby is for the Potter Family Vault, and the Potter Family signet ring is to be worn by the House's Lord, which in this case is you, Harry. Traditionally, signet rings are worn on an individual's non-dominant hand, on the smallest finger."
"I wish to be known as Hardwin now." The newly named Hardwin said after a moment of thought. "Harry has some bad connotations for me," he said as he picked up the keys and placed the ring on his left pinky finger. The ring flashed and resized to fit him.
"That's fine, Hardwin. Should you wish to conceal the ring, simply will it to do so."
"Now on to your parents' will," continued Ragnok as he unfolded the documents and began to read them aloud.
I, James Ignotus Potter and I, Lily Evans Potter being of sound mind and body declare this to be our final will and testament, all others being void.
Harry if you're hearing this we have not survived to see your second birthday. Voldemort has finally found and killed us. Make no mistake; he is a murderer and an evil man. Voldemort has come after us for a specific reason; one both your mum and I think is worthless. There was a prophecy made before you were born, that gave Voldemort the idea that you would be the cause of his eventual death. Voldemort was only given a part of the prophecy by one of his followers, but never heard the full version, and he has become obsessed with killing you. We have left Potter Manor and gone into hiding at our family's cottage in Godric's Hollow, in order to ensure that the Manor is left in one piece for you. Godric's Hollow is hidden under the Fidelius Charm, and we've used one of my friends, Peter Pettigrew, as the secret keeper. If it turns out we're dead, he's the one who betrayed us to Voldemort. I love you son and leave everything your mom and I own to you. Stay safe and prank as many people as you can. Hardwin my beautiful green eyed baby, I love you and wish I could be there to see you grow up. You're already doing magic; there's nothing accidental about it, talking and walking, and I'm pretty sure you already understand more than any other one year old. I have no doubt that you will be able to beat Voldemort. Study hard and learn all you can, but don't forget to live your life and enjoy the things that come with it. I love you, and I am proud of you no matter what.
James Potter and Lily Potter
Hardwin sat silently, looking perfectly composed except for the tears running down his face. Ragnok allowed him time to let everything sink in. "Hardwin, this is a list of everything left to you." Hardwin took the documents and looked them over, his only though being; 'Holy shite'.
Potter Manor (signet ring works as portkey)
5 house elves
2.5 million galleons
10 million galleons worth in jewels, books, weapons, misc. items
Harry managed to stutter out a 'wow', receiving a chuckle from Ragnok. "Your Trust Vault contains 250,000 galleons for your use while at school. You are allowed to take books and weapons out of the Potter Family Vault but you are not allowed to take any money out until you are fifteen. Any questions?"
"It says my signet ring is a portkey, what's a portkey?"
"It is a transportation device, if you say 'Home to Potter Manor' it will take you to Potter Manor," Ragnok said with an unexplained grin. "Would you like to go to your vaults now, Hardwin?"
"Yes, please, and thank you for all your help."
They arrived at the Potter Vault after an incredibly exhilarating cart ride for Hardwin. He and Ragnok exited the cart and walked down the shaft to the entrance which, to Hardwin's surprise, was guarded by a real live dragon. A Chinese Fireball, according to Ragnok.
"He will not harm you, as you are of the Potter lineage, and are Lord of the House. Take your key and lay it flat in your palm then press it against the entrance to open it," said the goblin as Hardwin looked at the entrance in awe.
Spanning the entire three meters of the door was the Potter coat of arms. It featured a large red and gold kite shield separated into four quadrants. In the top left quadrant there was a phoenix with its wings spread, and the bottom right quadrant there was a griffin standing on its hind legs with a long sword clasped in its right forepaw. The other two quadrants of the shield featured alternating red and gold diagonal stripes. Above the shield was a painted scroll that read 'The Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter' and below the shield there was another, larger scroll with the family motto, 'Fortune Favors the Bold'.
As the vault opened, Hardwin's jaw dropped at the massive cavern filled with gold, books, weapons, artifacts, rare ingredients and other strange items that greeted his eyes. It would have taken him days of exploring to go through each and every item left to him by his family.
The first thing Hardwin did was find a trunk. After which he immediately rushed around the vault, and began filling it with books on the wizarding world, etiquette, Hogwarts-A History, charms, defensive and offensive magic, transfiguration, potions, runes, and a book on his family's history. Ragnok, seeing exactly how much had been tossed into the trunk, waved his hand - shrinking it and putting a featherweight charm on it.
"Just tap it three times when you want to resize it. Now, there's a pair of letters here, and they seem to be addressed specifically to you." He said as he walked over to a small table with a pair of envelopes on it.
Hardwin walked over and saw two envelopes; both with his name on them. One of them bore a scrawled out 'To be opened after Hardwin James Potter's fifteenth birthday.' He placed that envelope back on the table and opened the other, smaller envelope, which contained a letter and a document titled 'Marriage Contract'.
Harry, startled, looked up at Ragnok, blinking rapidly. "M-m-marriage contract? W-w-w-what's a marriage contract and why do I have one?" Harry stuttered.
"If I may," Ragnok said, holding out his hand. Harry turned over the document.
"Ah, this is a contract of marriage between yourself and one Daphne Greengrass, signed by both sets of parents, and it states that you are to be married on either her fifteenth birthday, or yours – whichever falls later in the year." Ragnok paused and pointed to the letter accompanying the contract. "Perhaps you should read that letter. It may explain your parents' motives."
Hardwin ripped open the envelope and read:
I know you're probably very confused right now, but I did have my reasons for agreeing to this.
Evelyn Warren was a classmate and very good friend of mine from Slytherin House, and was a 'pure-blood' – one of the tolerable ones, at the very least. The Warrens, while in good standing, are not a very affluent family and are a few generations younger than most of the original families. Her parents had set up a marriage contract between her and the heir to the Greengrass family, Xavier Greengrass.
The Greengrasses, like the Warrens, are a pureblood family; but are one of the original 28 magical families in Britain. They are a rich and powerful family, almost as influential as the Potters, who were descendants of the Peverells of old. While both Xavier and Evelyn were in Slytherin, even your father, an ardent Gryffindor, got along with them.
(The rivalry between the Houses is ridiculous; don't buy into it unless you're on the Quidditch pitch.)
When the War came, they and their families remained neutral. However, as they were both remarkably talented individuals, they received a great deal of pressure from both Dumbledore and Voldemort's supporters. In order to allay this pressure and suspicion from either side, they asked us for this contract, to subtly prove their allegiance to the Light, while still maintaining their neutrality.
Since Eve and I were good friends, and your father and Xavier had known one another since childhood; we agreed.
All four of us have just signed this, and are about to go into hiding, so we're not sure when this will be revealed to you. Even though you're both just toddlers, you already seem to get along when you're together. Knowing Evelyn as well as I do, I'm confident the pair of you will have a strong and healthy relationship.
And if she's anything like either of her parents; she'll be hot! Ignore your father.
Mum and Dad.
'Well…shite' Hardwin thought. Pushing the contract from his mind, he continued looking and found his father's old school trunk. It was a large, handsome creation made of black dragon hide with gold finishings, with three compartments that could be magically expanded to fit as much as the user needed. At the bottom of one, there was a book on something called 'Animagi', along with some handwritten notes. Hardwin swiftly transferred all of the contents of the previous trunk into his father's old trunk, which, to him, seemed like the better option. They then left the family vault to visit his trust vault. Hardwin gathered a sizeable amount of gold that Ragnok said would buy him the best and put it in a bottomless, weightless money bag. After exchanging pleasantries with Ragnok, and thanking him for his help and assistance, Hardwin left Gringotts, and stepped out into the bustling, busy street. Looking down at his extensive shopping list, he decided that he might as well get the tedious bit out of the way.
And so, the first stop he decided on was Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Upon opening the door, he was greeted by a jam-packed interior, filled with young students, some his age, some older. Deciding he'd rather not deal with the crowd, he went next door to Flourish & Bott's bookstore.
He quietly moved around the store, picking up all the required textbooks, and tried his luck at finding a text on parseltongue, but found no mention except for a book titled 'The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts'. He went on to get his quills, ink, parchment, cauldron, and potion ingredients at several other stores in the Alley.
Though he already had a familiar, Hardwin also had his heart set on another pet; an owl. After a heated internal debate with Aiolos, which resulted in Aiolos promising that she'd not devour the owl, he made his way over to Eeylops Owl Emporium to purchase a bird. As soon as he walked into the store, a beautiful snowy owl flew up and landed on his shoulder, cooing softly.
"That one's been a right pain, bitin' everyone who comes near 'er," the man behind the counter said.
Hardwin grinned, "I'll take her." He purchased a cage and treats and placed them in his trunk, and then re-shrunk it with three taps of his finger. Heading out of the store he saw the entrance to Knockturn Alley – and, being the curious boy that he was – decided to have a look around.
"Hedwig", he said, pausing, "Fly to Potter Manor, I will find you there later." He said to his new owl. The beautiful bird's eyes flashed with a magical glow, as she attuned herself to her new master's magic, and flew off with a soft hoot.
As he made his first steps into Knockturn Alley, he noticed a store called Twilfit & Tattings, which, to his delight, was a clothing store. 'An empty clothing store,' he noted with a grin.
"What're you after, boy?" the shop owner said with a noncommittal nod to Hardwin.
Eyes narrowed at the disrespect, and the use of the word 'Boy' that his dear Uncle Vernon had been so fond of, Hardwin moved his hair to show his scar and willed his signet ring to show. He slowly raised his gaze and made eye contact with the woman.
"A little respect would be nice," he said in a clipped, slightly haughty tone. The shop owner's eyes popped in surprise, and she hastened to correct her mistake.
"S-s-so s-s-sorry, my Lord!" She stammered, flustered. "I am Madam Twilfit. How may I help you?"
"I need my Hogwarts robes, two winter cloaks; one with silver fastenings and one with gold, a set of dark, forest green dress robes and traditional black dress robes with the Potter crest on both, a pair of black dragon hide boots, 5 dress shirts in white, 5 in black, and two in dark green, 5 pairs of black slacks, and 3 plain black robes with the Potter crest on them, all in the finest materials you have," Hardwin replied in a calm, measured tone.
"Allow me a few moments to get your measurements, milord – and then I'll need an hour to get everything ready. Would you like any charms placed on the garments?"
Hardwin consented to be measured and while that was going on he replied, "What charms do you offer?"
Madam Twilfit ran him a quick list of charms, and he gave it a few seconds of thought before replying "Growing charms on the boots and slacks, and heating charms on the cloaks, Madam. I'll stop back in an hour."
As he exited the shop, Aiolos reappeared out of his skin and coiled around his shoulders and arm. A 2.1 meter long cobra was an instant deterrent of some of the shadier characters lurking in the Alley. As he walked, his eye was caught by a seemingly dark and dingy shop called 'Borgin & Burkes'.
'Not to stereotype, but they look like they could have some books on parseltongue. I think I'll check there.' He thought. He approached the store's front door, and made his way inside.
"Good afternoon. Do you have a book section?" Hardwin asked, as he approached the counter. The man behind the counter did not seem at all shocked to see a boy with a snake enter the shop.
"Yes, my lord. Follow me."
"Borgin, my Lord, Henry Borgin." Replied Mr. Borgin as he swiftly walked Harry to the back room. Harry looked through the books and found two that seemed to change in front of his eyes. The writing went from squiggles to words in seconds.
They were both very old looking, almost as if they would fall apart at the slightest touch. Hardwin, to his pleasant surprise, noted that both the tomes were written by Salazar Slytherin himself. Obviously, Henry Borgin wouldn't know this, as the writing simply looked like squiggles and odd symbols, clearly disguised by an enchantment spoken in Parseltongue.
"They sssmell of parssselmagic, hatchling," Aiolos hissed.
"I take it that isss a good thing," he hissed back.
"You can read those?" Mr. Borgin asked with a raised brow. Harry nodded in reply before looking at Mr. Borgin with a questioning look.
Borgin, detecting the unasked question, said in reply; "A hundred galleons for the pair, and, if you'd take my advice, milord, it would be best for you to avoid speaking parseltongue around others. It tends to give most of our folk the wrong impression."
Hardwin took the books and laid out 110 galleons saying, "Thanks for the advice. Now, I'm looking into getting my wand; is Ollivander's the only place to get wands?"
"No sir, there is a shop down the alley called Wandcrafters." Said the older man.
"Thank you, Mr. Borgin. Good day."
Hardwin walked into the Wandcrafters and was greeted by a grandfatherly man who introduced himself simply as Hephaestus.
Looking around, Hardwin saw hundreds upon hundreds of wooden blocks, a myriad of objects in jars, several rare and precious jewels and metals, and other magical substances that he didn't even know how to begin describing. Hardwin moved to introduce himself, still with Aiolos coiled around him.
"Lord Hardwin Potter." He said.
"Ah, the Boy-Who-Lived, would have figured you for Ollivander's; even the Malfoy's go there" replied Hephaestus.
"I can finally afford the best, and I really don't intend for anyone to stop me." He narrowed his eyes and locked his gaze onto Hephaestus'. "I would prefer it if you did not refer to me as the Boy-who-Lived." He bit out, the comment having struck an unknown nerve.
"I meant no disrespect, my lord. I was merely making observation that most magical folk, even those that frequent this Alley, go to Ollivander's," Hephaestus said in a calm and easy tone.
Hardwin schooled himself and softened his gaze "I apologize. Your comment about that night simply sat poorly with me."
Hephaestus nodded in acceptance and said "Well, you came here looking for a wand. Let's get you started. First-things-first, I'll need to take some measurements."
While his arm was being measured, Hardwin asked, "Out of curiosity, are there any notable clients who come to your shop?"
Hephaestus mused for a few seconds, "Hmm, a few of the older magical families, most notably the Greengrasses." Hardwin nodded. At the mention of the Greengrass family, his thoughts turned to his bride-to-be, which dried out his mouth rather quickly, as he tried to gulp.
"Now, Mr. Potter, I'll need you to run your hand over the tiny wood samples I have here on the table" at this, he gestured to the slivers of wood he had set in rows. "There are dozens, yes, but you'll need to go over every single one, and then let me know which one gives you the greatest feeling of warmth." Hardwin walked over and began.
Most of the wood slivers gave off no feeling at all. Some felt icy cold, some felt chaotic and hostile, a few gave him pleasant, bright feelings, but none of the warmth that Hephaestus mentioned, so he continued as requested. As he reached the final three samples, the second and third last samples gave him the most warmth he had ever felt in his life.
It was a pleasant warmth, not unbearably hot, but just comforting, almost like the sun was smiling upon his palm. He looked at the last sample, reluctantly placing his palm upon it; but was promptly rewarded with a shock. He quickly went back to the other two samples, and picked them both up. One sliver was a stark white, almost like ivory, and the other was a rich brownish red. He picked them up again, reveling in the warmth laid upon his hands.
"I got the same feeling from both, is two okay?" Hardwin asked
"Unusual… but, yes, it is okay. The white is wood from a Holly tree and the other is wood from a Dogwood tree. Those woods are a very odd, very intriguing combination when combined. Dogwood tends to make for very playful, mischievous wands, capable of some very visually appealing spellwork, but are excellent for finesse and charm work. On the other hand, Holly wands are uniquely suited to protection, defense and combat magic's of all sorts; however, they tend to be very stubborn and can fluctuate in power depending upon the wand core." Hephaestus replied. "Speaking of which, you'll need to repeat the process with my selection of cores" he gestured to myriad of jars and containers with a smirk, "same process as before." With a wave of his own wand, all the lids and tops of the containers opened themselves, and vanished.
Hardwin walked over with an amused sigh, and began to run hands over the tops. He heard distantly, "It is okay to have more than one core as well. Multiple cores with multiple woods tend to make for some very interesting and powerful wands". By the end of the process, Hardwin felt warmth from a shimmering red and gold feather and a string of red tissue.
"A phoenix feather and the heart string of a griffin." Hephaestus said with a laugh. "You're not going to be an easy customer to craft for." The elder wizard suddenly looked at the cobra coiled around Hardwin, and his eyes took on an intrigued glint. "That snake is beautiful. Is it your familiar?" he asked. A hissing from the snake was heard. Laughing, Hardwin said, "She thanks you for the compliment. Her name is Aiolos, and yes, she is my familiar."
"You're a parselmouth." Hephaestus said, as though stating a fact.
"Yes, is there problem with that?" Hardwin asked, slightly weary.
At this, Hephaestus cracked a grin. "Not at all. Just makes me want to ask you even more, if you'd allow me to take some venom from her to add to your wand cores."
Looking to Aiolos, who nodded her head yes, Hardwin replied, "Sure."
Hephaestus motioned for Aiolos to open her mouth, which she did. He raised his wand and swirled it around one of her fangs, holding a tiny crystal phial right beneath the fang's tip. He slowly coaxed several drops of venom out before cutting off the flow of magic and stoppering the phial.
"Excellent. Your wand will be an interesting one, Hardwin, but I'll make sure it is one to be proud of, even with all the complicated ingredients. I'll need some time to prepare the ingredients, but if you wish to wait, you may."
"Actually, I've got a few items that need to be picked up from Twilfit & Tattings. I'll head over there, and then I'll come back." Hardwin said as he started towards the door.
He paused for a moment, lost in thought, and then turned back to Hephaestus with a thoughtful look on his face. "Could I watch you make the wand, sir?"
Hephaestus stared at Hardwin for a long moment as if studying him and simply replied, "Yes, I'll wait until you get back." Hardwin walked out, a content grin upon his face. Aiolos sunk back into his skin as he walked through the doors of Twilfit & Tattings.
Upon noticing him, Madam Twilfit smiled and said, "Your order is ready, my Lord. That will be 250 galleons."
Hardwin handed over the galleons plus an extra ten galleons as gratuity. Nodding his thanks, Hardwin pulled out his trunk, which held the rest of his supplies, tapped it to un-shrink it and added his clothes to it, re-shrinking it as he left the store.
He walked back to Hephaestus' shop, and entered, Aiolos reappearing on his shoulders as he walked through the doors.
"Mr. Potter, welcome back", said the wandmaker. He turned on his heel and walked to the back room of the shop, with Hardwin in tow. Hardwin took a seat, out of the wandmaker's way, but still in a position to watch the crafting of his wand.
Hephaestus laid out all the materials that would be used to craft Hardwin's wand on a work table, and turned to explain the meaning of the woods to his customer.
"Now then, Hardwin, listen carefully, as I'll be explaining the significance of your ingredients" said the elder wizard as he cleared his throat.
"Holly and Phoenix-feather are notoriously difficult to combine together in a wand." He continued.
"Adding dogwood makes the crafting process even more delicate and difficult – because of the quirkiness of the wood." He paused, ensuring that Hardwin was still following.
"Now, the added power from the Griffin heartstring may unbalance the wand and could result in a dangerously overpowered piece. Fortunately for you, your serpent's venom should provide stability between the two cores; and will fuse the heartstring and the feather, binding them together with yours and Aiolos' magic." At this, Hardwin cracked a small, involuntary grin. Obviously, any eleven-year-old would be excited at the prospect of a powerful tool of any sort in their hands.
Still, Hephaestus continued on; "This, with the two woods, despite their very unique temperaments and characteristics should make for a singularly magnificent and uniquely powerful wand. Your wand won't be able to be won by force, and will be capable of some of the most dazzling spellwork ever wrought by one of my creations. Dogwood wands tend to have a flair for the dramatic, and holly wands tend to seek owners meant for great things. With the combined properties of the woods and cores, your wand will be excellently suited to charm work, wards, glamour's, enchantments and spellwork requiring a great deal of finesse. Additionally, your wand will take to combat and defensive magic's easier than most others, all in all, I expect this will be one of my finest, but most difficult works."
With the explanation out of the way, Hephaestus turned to the workbench and began his craft. Hephaestus' first step was to fuse the cores of Hardwin's wand. He donned a pair of dragon hide work gloves and opened the jar containing the griffin heartstring. As he withdrew the heartstring, he simultaneously opened the container of the phoenix tail feather, and brought the two substances together. With nimble fingers, and the whispered words of some unknown spell, he wound the griffin heartstring around the phoenix tail feather carefully but swiftly. He gently laid the two combined substances on a piece of cloth, and carefully unstopped the phial of Aiolos' venom. He resumed his whispering, as he poured the venom out along the feather-heartstring, which absorbed the venom with a bright flash of red magic. What used to be a wet mess of venom, heartstring and feather, had fused together to become a feather with a shaft the same black color of Aiolos' venom, and interwoven gold and red barbs, barbules and barbicels, altogether creating a very strange, gold, red and black piece of beauty. Having fused the cores, Hephaestus carefully wrapped the newly created Phoenix-Griffin-Cobra feather in the silken cloth, and turned his attention to the wood.
The next part of the process was what astounded Hardwin. Hephaestus took the two blocks of wood, Holly and Dogwood, and laid them side by side. He swiftly removed the feather from its silk casing and placed it on top of the block of Holly, and then placed the block of Dogwood on top of the feather, creating an odd wooden sandwich. Hephaestus then drew his own wand and tapped the blocks three times each. A flare of magical light erupted, and the woods slowly began to fuse together with the feather between them. As the woods merged, Hephaestus began to compress and mold them with his hands, almost as if the woods had become soft. Slowly but surely, he shaped and caressed and tweaked until, in his hands, he held a long, slender object.
Hephaestus gazed down at his work with a smile. The combination of materials had truly resulted in a beautiful piece. The Holly had become the main wood of the wand, resulting in an eleven inch long, tapered, brilliant white wand, with the reddish brown swirls of dogwood creating a vine-like pattern that ran from the base of the wand, to the tip, all the way around. The red vines were ever so faintly outlined in black, which pointed to the influence of Aiolos' venom on the wand. Hephaestus turned and held his hands out, the wand carefully laid across his palms.
Hardwin, mouth dry in awe, stepped forward shakily and picked up the wand by the base. The second he did, he felt a blazing warmth rush through his system, as his magic forged a connection with the masterfully crafted wand in his hands. He gave it an experimental wave, and a stream of flames and sparks elegantly wafted from the tip.
Stunned, Hardwin looked down at the wand in his hand, then back up at Hephaestus, multiple times. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but no words came out. Hephaestus chuckled, reading his newest customer's thoughts. "You're welcome. Now that'll be 100 galleons."
Hardwin handed the man a bag of coins filled with 155 galleons, "Thank you for letting me watch, sir."
With that, Hardwin left the shop and exited Knockturn alley. He looked down at his ring and shrugged. "Home to Potter Manor" he said in a clear, confident voice. Seconds later he vanished as the portkey whisked him away.
Hardwin tumbled across a red and white marble floor. "Well that wasss pleasssant," Aiolos hissed sarcastically. Hardwin shook his head rapidly to jolt his brain back into a wakeful state, and slowly began to regain his bearings.
As he gazed around, jaw slack, he realized he was sitting in an entrance hall that was as large as the Dursleys' entire ground floor. The hall had two massive oak doors that presumably opened up to the inside of the manor. In the middle of the hall, on floor, was the Potter family crest done in gold, about 10 feet in diameter. The rest of the hall was done in a deep scarlet red marble with ivory white veins.
As he shakily rose to his feet, Hardwin heard a *pop* and was greeted by a strange looking creature, roughly the same size as the goblins, but much thinner. The creature was thin, but looked healthy, with long floppy ears, and tennis ball sized green eyes, and wore nothing but a red toga with the Potter crest on it.
"Young Master Hardwin! You's have returned!" the creature said in a deep male voice. "I am Nips, the Head Potter elf" the strange creature finished, bowing deeply.
"Elf?" Hardwin asked.
"House elf, master, we's is serving wizarding families, Master."
"Okay. Firstly, just call me Hardwin, none of this Master business. And. I'm returning?" he said, slightly confused.
"Yes mas - Hardwin, you lived here when you was just a baby, with Master James and Mistress Lily, before you's all disappeared." The elf said animatedly. "Now that you is back, we can serve the family again. We's kept everything the same!"
"So, you serve the Potter family?"
"Yes sir. I is serving Master James and Master Charlus, and now you. Mistress Lily never let us call her mistress either, you's just like her, makin' us bad elves."
Flustered, and not wanting to be called 'master', Hardwin searched his brain for a solution to the obvious problem of his new status in the house. "Would 'Sir' work? I really don't want to be anybody's master."
"Yes Sir!" said the elf. "Now would Sir Hardwin like a tour?"
With a push of magic, Nips moved the large oaken doors, which opened with a deep bass creak. The doors led to a beautiful and warmly lit foyer, with a sitting room on either side. One; more formally decorated, for entertaining guests, and a second, with a cozier feel, for family.
The first floor of the manor, apart from the entrance hall, foyer and sitting rooms, contained a cavernous kitchen, with a room for the family to eat, a library that started on the first floor, and stretched all the way up to the second floor, an ornately decorated dining room, a full-sized ball room, a study and a large atrium that opened to the land at the back of the property.
The plot of land at the back of the manor was several acres across. There was a pool made to look like a lake, a full-sized Quidditch pitch, stables, and a 50 acre forest that held trails for the horses. Those trails, and the horses themselves, were under the care of another elf, Dips.
Hardwin and Nips re-entered the Manor, and ascended to the second floor. The stairs led to a cozy looking sitting room. One door opened up to a small hallway which led to the master bedroom, which was furnished with cherry wood flooring and furniture. A king sized bed was the focus of the room, pushed against a wall. Keeping in theme with the rest of the house, the bed had scarlet covers and curtains, with the curtains tied back with thick golden tasseled ropes.
The rest of the room was just as ornate; above the headboard of the bed was the Potter family crest and motto done in gold. The room was decorated with crystal lamps, two intricately carved bookcases, and a marble fireplace with a cherry wood mantle. Off to the side, a set of double doors opened into a dressing room with two closets still stuffed full of his parents' clothing.
Further into this room, a final door opened up to the master bath which housed a large pool-like tub, and a simply massive shower. The countertops and appliances were all done in black marble with gold fixtures and crystal faucets.
Aside from the master bedroom, the second floor held four bedrooms for family, and the second floor of the library. The third floor had a gym, a dueling pit with weapons lining the wall, and above the master bedroom, a nursery that looked like baby Hardwin had only just left yesterday. The nursery had stairs connecting it to the master bedroom directly. There were also two guest bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Finally, they descended to the basement; featuring a fully stocked potions lab, an entertainment room with a billiards table, several shelves of board games and card games, and a well-stocked, fully furnished wet-bar. The basement also housed two guest rooms and the elves living quarters.
The Manor tour took nearly 5 hours of in-depth exploration, and by the time Nips and Hardwin finished, he was completely worn out.
"Nips", he said wearily, "I'm famished. How does cooking work, for house elves?" he asked.
With a cheery grin and a wink, the elf chuckled. "You shall see, Hardwin Sir, you shall see!"
Dinner was lovingly and masterfully cooked by Mips, the official cook of the Potter family. Mips had whipped up a simple, but wonderfully nutritious affair. Hardwin retired to his chambers and fell into a deep sleep, shortly after eating.
Hardwin woke up and took a minute to realize he was no longer in the hell known as number 4, Privet Drive. He broke out into a huge smile as he took in the sunshine streaming in through the windows, the soft, plush covers of his new bed, and the general sense of relaxation and peace that came with having his own space, his own place, his own property.
"I'm going to hunt," Aiolos hissed and slithered out of the room.
He heard a low hooting noise, and noticed Hedwig perched upon a tall, golden owl-post near the window of the room. He waved and smiled in greeting, before deciding freshen himself up.
After a standard morning routine, Hardwin dressed and walked down to the kitchen for breakfast. Mips had organised a wonderful breakfast spread, and had laid out an array of dishes on the table, by the time Hardwin had arrived. Eggs done in multiple styles, bacon, sausage, toast, French toast, pancakes, waffles, fresh milk and orange juice, and plate upon plate of freshly cut fruit. Hardwin sat down and thanked Mips in a quiet, subdued tone. At this, Mips walked away, muttering "sir looks too skinny, Mips will fix."
Hardwin chuckled, shook his head and smiled. 'Someone cares', he thought. He ate his fill of the wonderful spread, and after nearly 2 hours of gorging, Hardwin felt stuffed for the first time he could remember.
He went to the library next and found some books on letter etiquette, marriage contracts, and a diary written by the former Potter family heads. He headed to the study, planning on writing a letter. Harry read the book on letter etiquette in under a half hour then practiced writing with the quill for an hour.
After several drafts, and more than a few scratched out attempts at clean, legible, respectful writing that appropriately conveyed his message, he ended up with a finished product that read:
I have recently been reintroduced to the wizarding world after an absence of ten years. I had been living with my aunt and uncle but am currently at Potter Manor. I found out about the contract when I visited my vault. I would like to meet with you and your family before school starts.
Lord Hardwin James Potter
As the Greengrass family was sitting down to eat a white snowy owl none of them had ever seen before swooped down and stuck its leg out to Lord Greengrass. The owl, now relieved of her duty, flew over to the eldest daughter and perched on the girl's shoulder, rubbing her head against the girl's cheek. The girl giggled and gave the owl some bacon.
"What a beautiful owl, Xavier what does the letter say?" Lady Greengrass spoke, smiling at her daughter's new avian friend.
"It's from Lord Potter, my dear, and he would like to meet with us before the school season starts," Xavier spoke evenly. Three gasps echoed in stereo as the three females in the room reacted simultaneously, as everyone there knew about the contract. Evelyn Greengrass shot up from her chair, raced over and snatched the letter from her husband's hand.
Daphne, now petting the owl on her shoulder, spoke quietly, almost to herself, "I wonder why he hasn't met with us before now?"
"Damn Dumbledore to the bloody depths of hell," Evelyn spoke harshly. "He hasn't contacted us because Dumbledore placed the poor boy with Lily's sister who despises all things magical, and her husband's probably worse. And it says that he's just been reintroduced to wizarding society."
"Well, we have a month before Hogwarts"; Xavier spoke, "how about we meet on Friday. This way it leaves time for you two to become better acquainted before school."
"That's fine with me, mum?" Daphne said, turning to her mother.
"That's fine with me also, darling. Daphne, sweetheart, you need to be prepared to meet someone completely different from everything you've heard. I'm not sure how far Petunia would take her hatred of magic." Daphne nodded her head to show she was listening and the Greengrass family went back to their breakfast, while Lord Greengrass sent his reply.
Hardwin spent the rest of the week preparing for the upcoming meeting with his future family. He studied as much about wizarding etiquette and the social customs of the wizarding elite, as was humanly possible in the timespan he had. He continued with his daily workouts that he started at the Dursleys and started reading up on some of the spells in his textbooks.
When the blinding rays of the Friday morning sun broke through his window, Hardwin awoke. He was promptly attacked by a mess of feelings. He felt nervous, but prepared, calm, but jittery.
Since he knew he had a few hours to get ready, as he was going to the Greengrass home at noon, he took his time in freshening up and dressing. After his shower he contemplated his clothing options, wanting to impress his in-laws-to-be, while not coming off as rigid and overly formal. He ultimately decided on formal black slacks, his dragon hide boots, a silk green shirt, and willed his signet ring to show.
As he dressed, the tell-tale growls of an empty stomach hit him. 'Well, time to see what Mips has cooked up this morning' he thought to himself with a little grin. He leisurely walked down to the kitchen, and was greeted by a piping hot plate of his favorites, as Mips had, by now, discerned. He sat down and invited Mips to join him for a few moments.
"Mips, do you know anything about the Greengrasses?" Hardwin asked quietly.
"A li'l sir, they was here 'fore Mas'er James and Mis'ress Lily left. They were nice to us elves," Mips said before popping away. Hardwin got up and walked out to the back yard and called for Dips.
"Have you seen Aiolos?"
"Yes sir, she's being at the stables, sir.
"Thank you," and with that Hardwin head towards the stables to find his wayward familiar. He found Aiolos slithering around inside the wooden structure.
"Aiolosss are you going to come with me to the Greengrasss essstate?" he hissed.
"Yesss, jussst in cassse," Aiolos hissed and wound her way up to Hardwin's shoulders.
"What have you been doing out here?" He asked while walking towards the house.
"Hunting." She hissed in response. "The food optionsss here are far healthier and more entertaining prey than I expected."
He took out the portkey that came with the letter when he got to the entrance hall and hissed,"You ssshould sssink in to my ssskin. It may be more pleasssant for you" Hardwin waited for Aiolos to do so before saying, "Greengrass Estate."
The first thing Hardwin noticed upon arrival was that he was still standing. The next things he took in were the four people looking at him. The gentleman was easily 6 feet tall, had dark brown, almost black hair, and stormy gray eyes. He was imposing and from the looks of it, very strong. He introduced himself as Xavier Greengrass.
The woman next to Xavier was, in Hardwin's eyes, incredibly beautiful. She stood about 5'5, had satin blond hair, bright blue eyes, a large bust, and introduced herself as Evelyn Greengrass.
Hardwin shook hands with Xavier and bent over to kiss Evelyn's hand. Evelyn then moved and put her hand on her eldest daughter's shoulder and said,
"Hardwin, this is our daughter Daphne, your betrothed." Hardwin stepped up and kissed her hand smoothly saying, "It is a pleasure to meet you, my beautiful lady." Daphne, who took after her mother, was a cute, petit blonde. She had blond hair that was a bit darker than her mothers and magnificent icy blue eyes that looked to be a mixture of her parents. She was, in a word, perfect, and Hardwin couldn't keep his eyes off her.
He was no longer the skinny, malnourished boy from number 4 Privet Drive. He was now the spitting image of a young Noble Lord. He had grown quiet a lot thanks to his recent exposure to magic, proper food, and exercising. He was now a bit taller than your average eleven year old, his brilliant emerald eyes showing bright with the contacts, his hair having been grown out was tamer and pulled back into a stylish tail, and you could see the hint of muscles behind his silk shirt. Daphne's reply to Hardwin was to blush and say, "A pleasure to meet you also, Lord Potter."
"Please, call me Hardwin."
"Hardwin," Daphne repeated, with a smile, and introduced her younger sister Astoria, who was a shy but cute little ten year-old, in Hardwin's opinion, and he thought wistfully 'I wish I'd had a sibling, instead of Dudley.'
"Well, Hardwin, now that you're here, why don't we settle down for lunch?" Xavier said as he led everyone to the dining room. They took their seats, with Xavier and Evelyn at the heads of the small table, with Daphne and Astoria opposite Hardwin.
'I think you're drooling,' Hardwin heard Aiolos' hissing laughter in his head and only then did he realize he had still been staring at Daphne the entire time. It was fairly obvious as to why. Beyond her good looks, while at Privet Drive, a girl like Daphne wouldn't be caught dead with him.
As the first part of the meal was served Evelyn smiled, thinking of Lily, as Hardwin thanked the house elf serving him. "So do you mind being called Harry, as that seems to be what the wizarding world knows you as, or do you just prefer Hardwin," Evelyn asked.
He looked down as he spoke, "Harry, has some bad memories attached to it for me." He said hesitantly. Evelyn, seeing Hardwin's downcast look, realized that she was right about Petunia holding a grudge, but decided to wait until the meal was over to ask and cast a pointed look to her husband.
Xavier got the message and started a new topic, "You said you had just been reintroduced to our world? I'm sure it's been a fascinating and slightly overwhelming time." He said with a smile. "Is there anything in particular that you're interested in so far?"
He looked thoughtful before answering, "Well, I was really fascinated by wand crafting. I visited Hephaestus, in Knockturn Alley, for my wand, and he actually let me watch the whole process." He smiled, at the memory. "Right now I'd like to learn more about potions and charms though. The Potter library has only a few potions related books, unfortunately."
"You're like your mother. Her favorites were potions and charms also. She was a genius with charms," Evelyn told him. Xavier added, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was her who added the potion books to your family's library. The Potters have, historically, been recognized for their talent in battle magic, transfiguration, and wards, with a couple rune and charm experts thrown in."
Hardwin smiled brightly at hearing about his family, almost causing Daphne to swoon at how cute he looked. He turned to her and asked, "Do you have any favorites so far?"
She smiled at him and said, "Herbology, runes, and potions in that order - although we won't get to study runes until third year at Hogwarts."
"We'll just have to look into them on our own then" Hardwin said, smiling at the happy look on Daphne's face.
The meal was winding down so Evelyn asked the million dollar question, "Hardwin, love, could you tell us about your home life with your aunt?"
He looked at her for almost two minutes as if looking into her soul and asked, "Are you sure you wanna know?" Everyone around the table just nodded their heads. He sighed, "Very well. Since you are my future family. But I would appreciate it if it wouldn't leave this room."
"Of course," Evelyn replied.
"Well, to start off I will never consider that place my home, so please don't call it that." With that statement, the blood wards at number 4 Privet Drive failed. At that moment, Dumbledore was out of his office and would not find out until it was too late.
"My 'relatives' despised me from the beginning for a reason I only just found out; magic. I lived in a cupboard for most of my time there. I was often beaten and starved, especially if I did anything better than my cousin. I was basically forced to be their house elf. They told me that my parents died in a car crash because they were both drunk, and said that the crash was how I got my scar. Until I started primary school, I thought my name was 'freak', only when my teacher called me 'Harry' did I find out it was not. Do I need to go on?" Hardwin asked, with his eyes cast downwards, upset and ashamed at what he had let happen to himself.
Evelyn gave a quiet "No" before getting up and coming over to his side and hugging him. At first Hardwin stiffened, but relaxed when he remembered who was touching him. Evelyn spoke after a minute, "Hardwin darling, you were only a child. You are not to blame for any of what happened to you, so don't you dare, for a single second, continue to think that way. The Dursleys are monsters, and are certainly going to regret their treatment of you if I have anything to say about it." at this Xavier agreed loudly.
Hardwin looked up to see Xavier looking livid and Daphne crying silently. Although he knew he shouldn't be, he was amazed that anybody cared. "Now, you, my dear, are welcome here at any time." Evelyn continued. "Why don't we have dessert? I'm sure that will brighten everyone's spirits – after, Daphne can show you around the estate."
Daphne stood from the table, "let's start outside," she said to him. He joined her at the door and together they walked outside. Daphne led Hardwin past a swimming pool, which she said her mother talked her father into adding, and to a large garden. Daphne stopped and turned to Hardwin. Taking his hand she looked deep into his eyes and said, "I'm sorry." Hardwin understood from her look that she was talking about the Dursleys and nodded his head. Daphne, still holding his hand, gestured toward the garden, "my father and I have been working in this garden ever since I can remember. It's one of my favorite places to be."
He smiled at her, and she continued. Pointing to a few big buildings Hardwin recognized as greenhouses she said, "Most of my family's business comes from our Herbology work. We grow potions ingredients, regular herbs and spices, and dozens and dozens of forms of magical and non-magical plants, flowers, trees and shrubs, among other things. Each one of the greenhouses has a specific environment that caters to the plants in it. The Greengrasses have always had an affinity for Herbology."
"The Potters, from what I've read in the family library, specialized in wards and made some of the best magical weapons early on. One of the books says the first Potter to be a weapons smith learned from a High Elf before they disappeared." Hardwin said with a grin. Daphne looked awed at this, "I knew the Potters were an old family," she exclaimed, "but not that old!"
After exploring the grounds a little more Daphne took Hardwin over to their stables to meet her horse. "Her name is Artemis, I've had her since I was 8," Daphne said, and walked over to pet a chestnut brown horse in one of the stalls.
"I've got a full stable of horses at the manor, but I don't know how to ride," Hardwin replied.
Daphne smiled at him shyly, "I can teach you if you'd like."
Hardwin smiled back charmingly, "That'd be terrific."
Daphne led Hardwin back into the house and proceeded to show him around. Hardwin noticed it was laid out very similarly to Potter Manor but without the all of the muggle additions his mother had made. They came to a stop at Daphne's room. The room was a done in soothing blue tones and the furniture and floors were all made of mahogany. Most of her floor was covered in a huge creamy-golden colored rug; the bed had gold and blue satin sheets, and had drapes around the bed that were currently tied back. On the bed lay a black and silver flecked kneazle kitten with a lion-like tail, white paws and a white mark on its head that looked almost like a crown. Upon seeing Daphne the tiny cat stretched, letting out a cheerful meow. Daphne smiled brightly at the kitten walked over, and picked it up, "this, is Queen, mum and dad got her for me as a Hogwarts present," Daphne said, sitting down on a cream colored settee.
Hardwin walked over and scratched Queen behind the ears, soliciting a purr from the little kitten, "fitting name," he spoke as he sat down.
"I thought so too" she laughed.
"So what's your favorite color," Hardwin asked.
Daphne quirked her eyebrow, answering, "blue and green. And yours?"
They went back and forth asking and answering questions, getting to know each other over the span of an hour. They quickly discovered that they had many things in common. Both of them preferred small groups of people over large groups, and they both enjoyed music. Hardwin, having heard some of the records his parents had kept, stated outright that wizarding music had nothing on muggle music. They then moved on to the topic of Hogwarts, with Hardwin asking the bulk of the questions.
"So what's this about Houses? I read about them in Hogwarts a History, but the book just said that there was one for each founder, and then talked about what the founders valued."
Daphne searched her mind for what little information she had on the subject "Well" she said, biting her lip in an oddly cute manner, as she searched her thoughts, "they keep the sorting methods a secret. It's kind of like a rite of passage, so even our parents have to keep it a secret." She said with a tiny grin. "However" she continued, "unless you talk to purist Gryffindors, the house you're sorted into doesn't really matter. Daddy once told me that a former headmaster said "we sort them when they're eleven because if we waited any longer, they'd all go to Slytherin.'"
"That's what I was wondering about! It seems as though they sort you based on one trait, even though most people have a mixture!"
"It is rather outdated, but it's tradition. You'll find wizards do a lot of rather questionable things, all because of tradition."
"What house do you think you'll be in," Hardwin asked Daphne.
"I'm not sure." She said with a smile. "My parents haven't really said they want me to be in any specific house, but I feel like I'm probably going to be in Ravenclaw or Slytherin. You?"
"I dunno, really. I think I'd fit into any of them, but I guess Slytherin might be my destination."
Their conversation was cut short by a loud pop, as one of the Greengrass house elves appeared.
"Mistress Daphne and Master Hardwin, dinner is being ready," said the elf.
"Thank you Toby," Daphne replied. "Come on! Dinner will be in the dining room." She said to her newfound friend, and future husband. After a wonderful dinner that was full of laughter and more time spent on getting to know everyone, Hardwin said his goodbyes. Tomorrow he was coming back for a flying session.
Hardwin spent the weeks before Hogwarts with either Daphne or her whole family. For Hardwin, it was probably the most enjoyable stretch of time in all of his young life. As September neared, Daphne and Hardwin reviewed their textbooks for the upcoming year. In the final weeks of summer, the Greengrasses had taught Hardwin how to swim, play quidditch, and ride horses. Hardwin, in turn, showed them how to fly on his hippogriffs and play billiards. They would play mini quidditch games on his pitch and he showed them some of the magical creatures that he'd discovered in the Potter family's forest.
In the short few weeks, Hardwin and Daphne had become almost inseparable when together. They would talk, study, or just sit together quietly. Astoria had become like a little sister to Hardwin; he became incredibly protective of her in a short time. Daphne's parents treated him enormously better than his aunt and uncle ever did, and he hoped that if his parents were alive, they would be like Daphne's.
A few days before they were scheduled to leave for Hogwarts, Hardwin and Daphne were riding horses on some of the Potter trails. They came to stop at a meadow that was full of wildflowers and had a small stream running through it. They dismounted and lay down in the grass next to each other. Hardwin propped himself up on his elbow and looked at Daphne for a minute before saying, "I need to tell you something Daph, a couple things actually."
"Alright," Daphne replied, taking Hardwin's hand.
"In my mum and dad's will they explained why my family was targeted. There was a prophecy made that said I would be able to defeat Voldemort." Daphne didn't flinch at the name but sat with a pensive expression. "In the letter, my mum seemed to think that he would be back."
Daphne sat quietly for a minute before replying, "That means we're going to have to train then." Hardwin smiled brightly at her before growing worried again.
"I-i-i'm a parselmouth." He stammered out. And with that, Hardwin called on Aiolos. The serpent rose from her tattoo form and slithered out of Hardwin's sleeve, prompting Daphne to gasp in surprise.
"Don't worry, she likes you." Hardwin said.
Aiolos hissed, "pleasssure to meet you."
"She said it's nice to meet you."
Daphne nodded and said, "Nice to meet you too" as Aiolos slithered up her arm and on to her shoulders. "Ssshe isss not afraid, jussst a little nervousss. I like her." Aiolos hissed. Hardwin smiled and told Daphne.
"Hardwin, you do realize I couldn't care less about you being a parselmouth, right? Remember, both my parents were in Slytherin."
"I was told to be careful of whom I let know," Hardwin replied.
"Whoever told you that was wise, but, just not around me or my family," Daphne said smiling.
"Let's head back." Hardwin said with a relieved smile.
Hardwin arrived at the train station with Daphne's family at 10 o'clock. Daphne's parents had decided that it would be a good idea for their daughter and future son-in-law to have some time to get settled into a compartment before leaving, and didn't want to leave anything to the last minute. After they arrived at the station, Xavier brought their trunks on board and placed them in the luggage compartment for them. Hugs and warm goodbyes were exchanged all around, which meant more to Hardwin than any of his newfound family knew.
After they were settled, the pair sat together in a comfortable silence, which was happily interrupted by a childhood friend of Daphne's.
Their compartment door burst open, revealing a pretty, jade-eyed brunette, around Daphne's size, who bounced in with a cheerful grin.
"Tracey!" Daphne squealed. "I missed you so much!"
"I missed you too," the newly named Tracy replied. "Who's this?'
"Oh, sorry, Tracey, meet Hardwin Potter, Hardwin meet Tracey Davis - my best friend."
Hardwin stood and bowed to Tracey say, "pleased to meet you."
"Likewise, Potter - as in Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Lived."
"Unfortunately." He said "and please, just call me Hardwin,"
"Tracey, Hardwin is my betrothed, the one whose family my parents have a marriage contract with," Daphne said.
"Ahhh, so this is the mystery fiancé," Tracey said smirking.
"So how was Greece," Daphne asked, then turned to Hardwin and said, "Tracey and her family spent the summer in Greece, which is why you two haven't met yet." Hardwin nodded to show his response.
The girls talked about Greece for about fifteen minutes before the compartment door slid open again. Standing in the door was a tall boy of eleven who looked to be Italian. He had dark hair, eyes and skin. "Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked.
Hardwin replied, "Sure, I'm Hardwin Potter."
"Blaise Zabini," the boy replied.
"This is Daphne Greengrass, and Tracy Davis," Hardwin said gesturing to each of the girls. After the pleasantries were exchanged, Blaise sat down and spoke, "the train should be leaving soon."
The train ride was spent getting to know Blaise and Tracey. Blaise came from a pureblood family, but was raised by his mother, who'd had seven husbands, all of whom died mysteriously. Blaise seemed a bit touchy on the subject. His mother though had raised him with all the grace and training given to other purebloods, and they also learned that his family was neutral during the war. Blaise seemed to be totally indifferent of status, having ventured into the muggle world with his mother, having occasionally experienced their prejudice.
Tracey was a half-blood whose father was from a minor pureblood house. The Davis family had only been around for about 150 years. Her father, Marius Davis, owned a profitable wizard antiques shop in Knockturn Alley. Davis Antiques was at the entrance of the Alley so more people, even those strictly aligned with the 'Light", would stop there. The shop was opened by her great grandfather, and the Davis family was quite adept at curse breaking and were widely considered to be expert historians. Tracey's mother, Addison, was muggle-born and her father was a Baron in the muggle world. Tracey's mother and Daphne's mother had been best friends since they met on the train to Hogwarts their first year.
The train ride was spent playing exploding snap and poker. Hardwin knew how to play poker, as his uncle frequently watched it on the tele. He taught the other three how to play and they had a couple of friendly games. They were interrupted once by a blond haired little boy with a pointed nose, who tried and failed to look older than he was by slicking back his hair. On either side of him were two thuggish looking boys who just stood there silently.
"I heard Harry Potter the-boy-who-lived was on the train - is he in here?" the blond haired boy snapped out. Hardwin tensed in his seat, which Daphne noticed, "Malfoy, why don't you try not acting like your arrogant death-eater of a father and ask nicely, and then maybe we'll consider answering," Daphne hissed out, "and while you're at it, lose the goons."
Malfoy reddened and was about to storm out when Hardwin spoke up, "Malfoy, before you act as though you own the world, you should learn a little something about your family," he pulled out an old, worn looking book and tossed it to the blonde boy before shutting the door on them.
"What was that?" Daphne asked.
"A family book I thought might come in use. I already read it, and that was just a copy. I'll show you the actual book later," Hardwin whispered to her.
"We should change; we're almost there." said Tracy. The boys left the compartment to change while the girls changed in the compartment. Apparently while the boys were out, a bossy, bushy-haired girl had come by looking for a toad.
The train came to a stop and they were told to leave their belongings on the train. Hardwin turned to Hedwig, "Hey girl, do you want to be let out," he asked. The owl nodded her head so Hardwin opened the window and her cage and let her out.
"Smart owl," Blaise commented. Hardwin just smirked and nodded, "let's go."
All four departed the train and made their way over to a huge man named Hagrid, who called "Firs' years! This way! Four to a boat!"
Once all the first years had been accounted for, and had boarded the tiny boats, they set off across the loch, towards the castle.
As they rounded the bend of the massive loch, and got their first look at Hogwarts, they all gasped. Hardwin was happy to be in a place that was so close to his parents' memories, and clasped Daphne's hand. Daphne just squeezed his hand, seeming to know what he needed.
Hagrid led them to the entrance hall where they were met by professor McGonagall. "Ere' ya go professor, the firs' years'.
"Thank you, Hagrid. I am Professor McGonagall. You will be sorted into one of four houses; they are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. While you are at Hogwarts, your house will be your family. Now wait here while I see if they're ready for you." As the four were waiting, they observed their fellow first years. They saw Malfoy reading the book Hardwin gave him, a red-headed boy franticly trying to get dirt off his nose, and the bossy girl from before talking to a few frightened looking girls about something she read in Hogwarts, A History. Then, somebody screamed, and they all turned and saw four ghosts gliding into the room; two seemed to be arguing. Daphne whispered to Hardwin, "These four ghosts belong to each of the houses, my mum said they did this in her first year too."
"Dumbledore probably wants to show off and make an impression on the muggle-borns," Hardwin whispered back.
Just then, Professor McGonagall came back into the room, "It's time." They were led into the great hall, where the rest of the students of Hogwarts were gathered at four massive tables, each with a banner over top. There was a high table at the far end of the hall, on a marble dais, where the professors sat. In front of the High table sat a stool with a hat on it, which, upon noticing the first years' entrance, promptly burst into song.
Oh you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!
After the song professor McGonagall unrolled a parchment and began calling names. "Hannah Abbott" went first and was sorted quickly into Hufflepuff, followed by Susan Bones who also went into Hufflepuff. Hardwin watched as first Tracey, and then Daphne were both sorted into Slytherin. Hardwin saw Malfoy close the book given to him with a thoughtful look and take his turn at the stool, the hat shouted Slytherin about 30 seconds after being on his head.
"Potter, Harry." Hardwin sighed and walked up to the stool while the students broke out into awed whispers. As Hardwin came to the stool he turned and faced professor McGonagall and spoke loudly enough to be heard by most, "please call me Hardwin, ma'am." Hardwin sat down ignoring everyone else and placed the hat on his head. At the Slytherin table Daphne noticed the look of surprise come over Dumbledore when Hardwin announced his full name. She filed it away to tell him later.
"Ah Mister Potter, you've been on a lot of minds tonight." said the hat.
"You're in my head? I hope it's all been good."
"Some good, some awe." At that, Hardwin sighed while Daphne wondered what was taking so long.
"Now where to put you… You're as brave as any Gryffindor, loyal to those you consider friends. Hmmm, you have a thirst for knowledge but it's motivated by the, ah! Good! You know of it - prophecy, but more than anything, you have a thirst to prove yourself worthy of your family and to your betrothed. I know where to put you, but first, a word of caution; be wary of Albus - he no longer thinks clearly and believes he is absolute. Now do well in - "SLYTHERIN," the hat shouted, for the whole hall to hear.
Hardwin got up off the stool, handing the hat to a shocked looking McGonagall. The first to clap was Daphne, followed swiftly by Tracey and Blaise. They were soon joined by a professor with greasy looking hair and then the whole school began to clap. Hardwin took his place next to Daphne with Tracey across from them. The sorting ended with Blaise being sorted into Slytherin. Dumbledore stood, welcoming the students. At that point, Hardwin tuned out, and after some rather inane babble, food appeared on the tables.
As they began eating, Blaise commented; "A Potter in Slytherin? They probably think that hell just froze over."
Hardwin looked at Blaise with a wry grin and said, "People shouldn't assume things. Besides - how much does it really matter what House you're in? The hat chose your most prevalent trait, but really, everyone has every trait. It's about the degree to which that trait is present – no?" Some of the older students nearby nodded their heads and flashed small approving grins when they heard Hardwin's mini speech, while others, including some Ravenclaws who'd overheard, looked thoughtful. Daphne smiled proudly and clasped his hand, prompting Hardwin to blush lightly.
An older boy a little ways down the table stood up and offered Hardwin his hand, "Aaron Vaisey - it would be fantastic if people from the other houses realized that."
Hardwin stood and shook his hand, "Hardwin Potter,"
"So Daph, this is your mysterious betrothed. Pleasure to meet you mate." Vaisey said to both Hardwin and Daphne with a smirk.
"Yes, now shut up and eat," Daphne replied teasingly while Vaisey smirked.
"Aaron is my cousin, his mum is my dad's sister," Daphne explained to Hardwin. As the meal ended, Dumbledore stood and said "To all students old and new, the Forbidden Forest is, of course, forbidden," he looked pointedly at two red headed twins sitting at the Gryffindor table, "and the third floor corridor is forbidden this year to all those who do not wish to die a horrible death, now, goodnight."
"Ah – a horrible death. The hat was right. He is losing it," Hardwin whispered to Daphne as they followed their prefect, Marcus Flint, to the Slytherin dorms.
"I'll tell you later."
They reached the entrance to the Slytherin common room about five minutes later, with the prefects stopping a few times to point out some key passages. They came to a stop in front of a wall that had the outline of the Slytherin crest was carved into the wall. The prefect spoke "umbra" and the wall melted away to reveal the entrance to the Slytherin common room.
The common room was rather low; only about ten feet high, but it was large, almost as large as Potter Manor's entire front hall. The room was done in green, silver, and black colors with the furniture done in ebony wood, in a Victorian-esque style. The floor and walls were stone like the rest of the castle, but half way through the room, on either side, were two enormous fireplaces done in green marble, with tapestries adorned with the Slytherin crest on either side. Between the fireplaces were eight large couches interspersed with comfortable looking armchairs. All around the room were tables that had green marble for tops, and chairs around them that looked to be set up for either studying or just sitting around. Spaced out on either side of the walls were seven doors, each marked with a year. There were windows that were charmed to show the sky, and one large 'port' hole, that revealed that the Slytherin common room, was at least partially beneath the Great Lake.
One of the older prefects took over the duties for the night, "I'm Fitzroy Rosier, your seventh year prefect, now get into lines - first years in front, seventh in back, prefects on the ends."
They lined up in straight lines, with Daphne standing to Hardwin's right and Blaise on his left. To Daphne's right was Tracey, followed by the rest of the first years.
Within a few seconds of having the whole group lined up, a man with black robes, eyes, and black greasy hair came in. All talking ceased instantly.
"Good Evening, for those of you in second year and above; welcome back. To all first years, welcome to Slytherin house." He said, in a high, but silky voice. He looked into each of the first year's eyes he continued, "I will not lie to you. Now that you've been sorted into Slytherin - the majority of the school will paint you as a dark witch or wizard potentiate. Because of this, I will, at times, show Slytherin favor over the other houses - particularly Gryffindor. But make no mistake, I will punish you if you deserve it – indiscriminately. Now we have one rule here in Slytherin - Stick together. First through third years make sure you are in a group whenever you leave. For the first few days, an older student will be escorting first years to their classes. I will be meeting with all individuals one on one throughout the first week of school. I've appointed Fitzroy and Hayden as head boy and girl within Slytherin - they have authority second only to mine. Now I'll turn the rest of this meeting over to them to instruct the first years. Goodnight." And with that he departed.
Fitzroy and a red-headed girl motioned the first years over to the couches in the middle of the room. When they'd taken a seat, the redhead started by saying "Hi all; I'm Hayden Lennox, and I welcome you to Slytherin. Now like Professor Snape said, one of the older students will escort you around the castle until you get the hang of things around here." Fitzroy then started talking, "And if you have a problem with another Slytherin, you deal with it in the house not outside. Boys dorms are on the right side, girls are on the left."
When the meeting was over Daphne, Hardwin, Blaise, and Tracey continued to talk and at one point, they were joined by Aaron who came over to talk about quidditch for a little while. When most people had gone to bed, Hardwin and Daphne moved to a secluded corner table. "So what was that about the Hat," Daphne asked.
"It said to be careful of Dumbledore, that he was planning something and that he thinks he's absolute."
"When you told McGonagall about your full name, Dumbledore looked surprised," Daphne commented.
"I don't think he planned on telling me anything. The hat mentioned it was good that I already knew about the prophecy. "They sat in silence for a few moments before Daphne caught a glimpse of the clock.
"Shoot. It's almost twelve!" Daphne commented.
"Goodnight Daph," Hardwin said.
"Night Harry," Daphne replied, giving Hardwin a kiss on the cheek.
Hardwin, blushing cherry red, went through the first year door and entered a hallway with three more doors. On each door were two of the first year boy's names. Hardwin was placed with Blaise, while Draco was with a boy named Theodore Nott who Hardwin had yet to talk to, and Crabbe and Goyle were placed in the same room. Hardwin entered his room to find Blaise sound asleep.
The dorm was decorated in the same style as the common room, only the green was a darker forest green. The room had a small fireplace for winter, as the dungeons obviously got pretty chilly. The room had two large desks for studying as well as two closets. The bed was a four poster bed, similar to the one in the master bedroom at Potter Manor, only slightly smaller in this case. The hangings were green, with the silver Slytherin serpent imposed upon them. Finally, Hardwin opened the closet on his side and found his clothes had already been hung, folded or otherwise stored neatly. He opened one last door and found a bathroom decorated in the Slytherin motif. Hardwin was all for house pride, but there was such a thing as excessive. He changed and went to sleep.
The first week of school was uneventful. Things progressed rather slowly, and the first year Slytherins were escorted to their classes, the library and the Great Hall by Marcus Flint the 5th year prefect. Flint pointed out only a few things about the castle, but was extremely knowledgeable regarding every major Quidditch event that'd happened at the Hogwarts within the past decade.
For Harry's part, he and Daphne were slightly bored, as most of the teachers classes consisted of opening speeches and basics that he and Daphne had already been over.
In their first potions class with the Gryffindors, Professor Snape decided to test the class. It wouldn't have been so bad had any of the Gryffindors thought to read ahead – and so – Snape started like every teacher. After roll call, he began a perfectly rehearsed speech that, according to the older Slytherins, he recited for the first years, every single year. Unfortunately - this where things got dicey. As he was giving his speech, some of the Gryffindors decided to strike up their own conversation. Snape, with carefully controlled ire in voice, pinpointed one of the whispering culprits.
"Mr. Weasley! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
A red headed boy sitting at the back of the room turned nearly as red as his hair as he sunk into his chair. "I dunno," he mumbled.
"Speak clearly, Mr. Weasley. I believe you meant to say 'I don't know 'sir'. Mr. Malfoy, same question."
"The Draught of Living Death, sir," came the answer from the blond boy sitting in front of Hardwin.
"Mr. Finnegan, where would I find a bezoar?"
The Irish boy sitting next to Weasley cracked a grin, and smartly replied, "In your cupboard, sir." The Gryffindors laughed while the Slytherins winced. Snape didn't take kindly to cheek.
"Five points from Gryffindor, for your impertinence. Mr. Potter?"
"In the stomach of a goat, sir," Hardwin replied respectfully.
"It seems Gryffindor is 0 for 2. Mr. Longbottom - what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
"I-i-it's the same, sir," a boy with brown hair towards the back of the class managed to squeak out."
"Well it seems there is hope for Gryffindor after all," professor Snape said silkily, "five points to Slytherin for correct answers." Weasley and Finnegan glared at Neville then at the Slytherins. "Directions are on the board, begin." The potion Snape assigned was a rather easy Boil Cure potion. Many of the Slytherins opened their books to the recipe, while most of the Gryffs just used the board.
Hardwin finished his potion swiftly and accurately, and had bottled it and was just waiting for class to end when he heard a loud hissing. Turning, he shouted to Neville and the boy next to him, "Longbottom! Get down!" Neville, shocked by the yelling, pulled Dean Thomas down with him just as the hissing and smoking potion of Ron Weasley boiled over and started melting everything it touched, including Seamus's dismal looking cauldron.
Snape came storming out of his backroom and vanished the two ruined potions shouting, "Finnegan, take Weasley to the hospital wing. You both received zero's for today." He clicked his teeth in irritation before muttering "Worthless dunderheads," as he began his rounds of the classroom, commenting on potions. Out of the Gryffindors only Neville and Thomas got by without a scathing comment. On the Slytherin side, most got a nod as well as a 'good.' Crabbe and Goyle, both received sneers, while Hardwin received 5 points, for a perfect potion. The only other eventful thing in the first week of classes was the bossy, bushy haired girl from the train, a Ravenclaw named Hermione Granger, who would wave frantically until called upon or pout when she wasn't called on. It was rather annoying, but they only had Charms and Astronomy with the Ravenclaws.
After an uneventful week of classes, the Great Hall was buzzing early on Saturday morning. It was an exciting time for the first year Gryffindors and Slytherins, as after breakfast, they had their first official flying lesson.
Daphne, Blaise, Tracey, and Hardwin ate together, chatting about the week, and were approached by Draco. "Hardwin, here's your book. Thank you for lending it to me. It was.. Most interesting." he said.
"Thank you for taking care of it," Hardwin replied with a nod to Draco.
"What's with the book mate?" Blaise asked.
"It's a family journal about the Potter family's allies, and the status between us and our allies at any given time." Hardwin told them.
As breakfast ended, Flint came and collected them early to show them the best school brooms and give them a few tips before the lesson.
When they got to the pitch there were brooms in two rows across from each other. Most of the brooms looked pretty bad. Some were old, and in bad repair. Twigs stuck out at every odd angle and direction, and some of the shafts were even bent as though they'd been purposefully pushed to a breaking point.
Flint lined up at the brooms he thought were best and showed them how to grip the broom right, although most knew how. He then swiftly left the field when he saw Madam Hooch approaching.
Five minutes later, the Gryffindors trailed in and lined up at the rest of the brooms. The flying lesson went well until Neville lost control and fell from his broom, breaking his wrist. Hardwin slipped over and pocketed Neville's remembrall before anyone noticed. Weasley and Finnegan were making fun of Neville while the Slytherins just shook their heads in exasperation, waiting for Madam Hooch to return.
After the lesson, Hardwin, Daphne, Tracey and Blaise made their way back to the Great Hall for lunch. "Daph, what do you knows about the Longbottoms?" Hardwin asked.
"They're an old pure-blood family that is traditionally light sided. Neville's grand mum is about as proper as you can get. His parents opposed Voldemort and shortly after the war ended, Neville's parents were found and attacked by Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, and Barty Crouch junior. They were tortured into insanity." She said sadly. "Why do you ask?"
"In my family's library there are journals written by every head of the family. My father's journal just so happened to mention the Longbottoms as close friends and allies of my family. He spoke a lot about Neville's parents having worked together with him in the Auror Corps. I wanted to visit him and return this," he said holding up the remembrall.
"We can go after lunch. Blaise and I will wait for you outside. I think four Slytherins would be more than that poor boy can handle," Tracey said, smirking a little.
Daphne and Hardwin walked into the hospital wing and saw Neville in one of the far beds. They walked over and Neville got visibly nervous. Hardwin held up his hands and pulled out the remembrall and set it on the bedside table, "I wanted to return this mate. It dropped when you fell. Hope your wrist heals up soon."
Neville nodded in thanks and Hardwin held his hand out, "I'm Hardwin Potter and this is my betrothed Daphne Greengrass. I wanted to be formally introduced, as, in my father's journal; your dad was mentioned as someone my father respected, and called a friend. I'm sorry for what happened to them."
"Thank you, I-I'm Neville Longbottom," he said, shaking Hardwin's hand. "Nice to see you again Daphne." Madam Pomfrey then bustled in and shooed them out, stating her patient needed rest. They met Blaise and Tracey outside and headed to the library.
On the way back to the Dungeons the three first years left Hardwin outside Professor Snape's office for his meeting with their Head of House.
"Calm yourssself, hatchling" Aiolos hissed from under his shirt, "He will not harm you."
"I'm not worried about him harming me. That much isss for sssure. I jussst don't want to have to deal with any quessstionsss about them." he hissed back quietly.
"He will underssstand," Aiolos hissed with finality, almost like a mother chiding her child.
Harry nodded to himself and then knocked on the door. He waited for about 30 seconds before the door opened, revealing Professor Snape who motioned him in. The professor walked to his desk and took a seat, then gestured for Hardwin to do the same. They sat, across from one another. It seemed as though Snape was studying Hardwin. Studying his face, studying his eyes; silently forming an opinion.
Finally, Snape broached the silence. "Mr. Potter, I must say that you are a surprise." Hardwin simply nodded in reply.
"I use these meetings to get to know my students better, and to tell them what I expect of them. As Slytherins, you are all expected to follow my rules, or should you feel that you do not wish to comply with a specific rule, I expect you to at least avoid being caught. After all; you're meant to be cunning. You should be aware that I do not believe in coddling my students. That being said, if you need help, I expect you to come to me, or an older peer, and ask. Part of your success in Slytherin will come from your grades and in-class performance – just keep in mind that cunning and ambition are nothing without the intelligence and skill to back them up."
While Snape spoke, Hardwin rapidly soaked in the information being delivered to him, nodding and smirking in the appropriate places.
"Now; I've tried making contact with your relatives." Snape continued, though the word 'relatives' was spoken as though it were a poison being spat out. "Their only reply was that you 'were no longer their problem, and had taken up residence elsewhere.' I am quite curious as to where this 'elsewhere' is." Snape said in a questioning tone.
Hardwin flinched at the mention of his relatives and looked to his feet as he spoke, "I live at my family's estate, sir." Snape, seeing Hardwin's reluctance and involuntary twitch, decided not to press him for details yet. His instincts were telling him that young Mr. Potter would require a patient hand.
"That's all well and good, Mr. Potter – but in the event of an emergency, who should I be contacting?" he said with a raised eyebrow.
At this, Hardwin blushed lightly and mumbled "Er, D-Daphne's parents. Sir."
Snape nodded and dismissed Hardwin, and the young boy got up and turned to leave. When he reached the door, Snape spoke again, "Mr. Potter, your mother was a close friend of mine during our Hogwarts days. As far as I can tell, you are certainly your mother's son. My door is always open to you, should you need it." Hardwin nodded and left for the common room.
"Daph - why don't you go to the feast?" Hardwin said in exasperation.
"Harry, we've been over this. I'm not. Going. Without you." Daphne replied, slightly frustrated.
"I.. I just don't want you to miss your first Holiday feast because of me," Harry said softly while looking down. There were often times when Daphne and he were alone, that Harry's lack of self-confidence would show itself.
"Oh Harry, you finally know that your parents loved you and you want to respect the day they died, I understand that completely – but you, are my betrothed and more importantly my best friend. I'm staying with you. Now, let's go out to the common room." She said with a hint of a smirk. "Tracey and I need your help with our charms assignment." They left Harry's dorm and walked to a far corner where Tracey, Blaise, and Theodore Nott were working on some assignments.
"Harry! Where have you been - this damn charm is driving me nuts!" Tracey said in frustration as Daphne and Hardwin sat down.
"Let me see you try it." He said with a small smile.
Tracey cast "Wingardium Leviosa", at a candle, and managed to shakily levitate it an inch before it fell back upon the table.
"Take a few deep breaths" he said calmingly. "The charm's not going to work if you're frustrated. Good. Now, loosen your grip on your wand - you're suffocating your movements that way." She did as he said and then quirked an eyebrow at him, as if waiting for further instruction.
"If you loosen up a little" he continued, "you'll get a bit more fluidity with your wand movements. Good. Now, concentrate on where you want the candle to go - not where it is."
Tracey did as she was told and managed to make the candle float in a circle around her. She squealed and jumped up and hugged him, "thank you thank you thank you!"
Some of the older Slytherins just shook their heads amusedly at the display. Hardwin had become popular in his house in the past two months at Hogwarts. Since the start of term, he had earned a fair amount of house points and impressed the older Slytherins with his behavior – and in return, most of them had earned his respect as well. It had taken some time, but most of the house (and Neville) had started calling him Harry – and he learned to like his nickname since it wasn't being bandied about as a curse.
Hardwin and his group of friends sat and chatted, worked or practiced spells for a while, before they checked their clocks. A good majority of the house got up to leave for the feast, with the first years, except for Harry and Daphne, lined up in front of the door.
"Hey - you two coming?" Theo asked.
"I don't feel much like celebrating. Thanks for asking though." He replied. Theo, Draco and Millicent nodded at his answer.
"Blaise and I will stay with you guys" Tracey said. "Maybe we'll finally teach Harry how to not suck at chess" Tracey said with a teasing smirk, looking at Blaise, who nodded his acceptance.
"You guys go on," Blaise said.
The three other first years lined up with Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle who still disliked Harry – their parents influence clearly ran strong in them.
"So, do your families still teach you about the actual Holiday, aside from muggle tradition?" Harry asked his friends.
Tracey looked up from the chess match that Blaise had just won, "None of the families - no matter how "pure" they are - hardly ever celebrate it the old way. They've either forgotten, like the muggle way better, after all, it's free candy - what kid wouldn't? Or just don't realize what it's actually for." She said, before taking a deep breath and launching into an explanation of the holiday's history.
"Like most holidays from back in the days of yore, Halloween was supposed to represent a changing of the seasons and the precursor to harvest time. It marks the end and the beginning of an eternal cycle. It's a Celtic holiday, the biggest and most important for them, and was originally called Samhain and was believed to be the day when the veil between the living world and the afterworld thins. Spirits were said to be able to cross between the worlds with the greatest ease on that Eve. The Celts would gather to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables and light bonfires to guide the dead and keep them on their paths, away from the living. Then early Christians changed it to have something to do with Christ and then it developed from there into candy and costumes."
"Maybe Dumbles should have you teach our history class," Harry snickered and Tracey blushed, "seriously though - that was more informative than anything Binns has taught us so far."
"Well I wasn't kidding when I said my family was a bunc… *BANG BANG* what was that," Tracey finished uneasily as the loud banging continued.
"It's probably the Weasley twins pranking the common room," Blaise stated dryly.
"Well then maybe we should turn the tables on them," Harry said with an evil smirk and started towards the door with the others in tow. They walked down the hall following the banging and turned the corner and stopped dead.
A unified "Oh Shite" was heard from all four preteens.
Meanwhile in the Great Hall, the Halloween feast was in full swing. True to form, Hogwarts' resident potion master gazed down at the house tables, with distaste. His gaze was drawn to the doors as they were thrown open.
"TROLL, TROLL in the Dungeons, thought you ought to know!" Professor Quirrell yelled, running into the Great Hall. He then promptly passed out. Snape fumed as the other Professor past out forwards, Snape's eyes settled on Dumbledore in anger. He had warned the Headmaster about Quirrell.
"SILENCE," Dumbledore shouted then continued when it was quiet. "Prefects, escort your Houses to their dorms. Professors - with me!" With that, order was restored. Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw made their way to their dormitories. The Slytherins gathered in the entrance hall of the Great Hall.
"Damn it, doesn't he realize our common room is in the bloody dungeons?" Fitzroy Roiser said to the gathered Slytherin prefects.
"Um Flint," Theodore Nott step forward hesitantly, "Harry, Daphne, Tracey, and Blaise, are in the dungeons."
"Shit," all the prefects said collectively. "We're just going to have to stay here until Professor Snape gets back," Hayden spoke up, "hopefully those four will stay in the common room."
Harry and the others came face to face with a mountain troll. The troll noticed them, and snorted vilely before swinging its club-wielding arm back.
Harry, his sense for danger keen, shouted, "DUCK!"
The four scattered away from the troll in different directions, and thankfully, managed to avoid the club. All they heard was a deafening crash as the head of the club impacted the ground, creating a small crater and sending chips of stone in every direction. The troll, miffed that it had missed, focused on the one who'd made the most noise, and with more speed than anyone would have thought normal, swung the club towards Harry.
Thankfully, Harry's honed reflexes from 'Harry Hunting' got him out of the way fast enough. This time, the troll's club impacted the side of the wall, sending more fragments of stone flying. One nicked Blaise's face, and sent him to the ground leaving him unconscious, with a wicked gash on his cheek.
"Oh no, BLAISE!" Tracey shouted, prompting the troll to seek out the noise.
"Any ideas?" Daphne called out to Harry from behind the troll.
Harry jumped towards Tracey, pushing her out of the way of the club. "Maybe!" he shouted – "Aiolosss" he hissed. Aiolos rose from Harry's skin, "Yesss hatchling?"
"Can your venom kill a troll?" Harry hissed, shocking Tracey. "Posssssibly" was the snake's reply.
Aiolos, with all of the natural speed endowed to her species, shot towards the troll in a blur. She coiled around its leg, and slithered her way up to its neck, then bit down, pumping her magically enhanced venom into its toughened hide.
The troll roared in anger, having felt the bite, and shook Aiolos off.
The beast shook its head from side to side to regain its bearings and went for another swing at the hiding Daphne, "Daphne, move!" Harry shouted. She screamed in fright, but swiftly moved to Harry's side when the troll swung. The troll swung his club but spun around on the follow through, having been disoriented by Aiolos' bite. It stumbled around the corridor trying to regain his senses.
"Aiolos' venom isn't working fast enough," Daphne said hurriedly as the troll managed to zero in on the two first years in the middle of the hall.
Harry drew his wand up and shouted, "DEFODIO!" The grayish spell shot from Harry's wand and impacted the troll's chest, gouging a hole straight through it. The troll didn't even blink, before falling to the ground.
Harry slumped against the wall as Professors' Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick, came around the corner with Quirrell and Snape a little ways behind. The professors looked to the dead troll, then to the four first years.
Dumbledore took the lead, "Professor Flitwick, please take Mr. Zabini and Miss Davis to the hospital wing." He then looked to Daphne and Harry, Harry was hugging Daphne whispering in her ear as she curled herself into his chest, and Aiolos was curled protectively around their shoulders.
"Would you like to explain what happened here?" Dumbledore asked.
At Dumbledore's voice, Daphne straightened up and turned around with a blank visage while Harry spoke, "We were in the common room when we heard banging. We thought it might've been Fred and George Weasley trying to prank the common room, but when we came out we were faced with the troll. It basically just tried to kill us all. Thankfully, Aiolos bit it, and I hit it with a spell."
"And what spell did you cast, Mr. Potter?"
"The gouging spell." Harry's response was met with varying reactions from the assembled professors. Dumbledore looked surprised but quickly schooled his features; McGonagall gasped and looked horrified, while Snape looked on with a bit of pride.
"You thought that spell appropriate?" Dumbledore asked while frowning, showing his disapproval.
"That monster had already injured Blaise. Not only that, but it was tearing up the walls and floor, and obviously it could still do damage to Tracey, myself, my best friend and my familiar. We were all still in danger, so yes, sir, I did", Harry replied sharply.
McGonagall apparently took offense to his tone and said, "Watch your tone, Mr. Potter. Why were you not at the feast like you were supposed to be?"
"Considering what this holiday means to him, I think that would be obvious," Daphne answered sardonically.
"Miss Greengrass," Professor Snape said, with a hint of warning in his tone.
"My apologies professor," Daphne spoke softly.
"And the snake, Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore asked.
"As I mentioned, Aiolos is my familiar. As such she is allowed in Hogwarts as stated in the rules."
"Very well then", was Dumbledore's reply. With that, the remains of the troll were vanished magically, and the Professors, save for Snape, left.
"Shall we go back to the common room?" Snape said, gesturing towards the end of the hall. They walked to the common room in silence. When they entered, Professor Snape looked to the snake pointedly. Harry glanced at Daphne who nodded her head.
"I'm a parseltongue. Aiolos bonded with me when I rescued her from the zoo." He said softly.
Professor Snape had faraway look in eyes before he nodded, "It is good you kept this secret. Where did you learn the gouging spell?" he asked.
"From my family's library, when I visited Gringotts they gave me a portkey to the family manor," Harry clarified.
"Very well, I think you've earned fifteen points to Slytherin for defending your peers. The others shall be returning shortly, goodnight."
Most of Slytherin had heard the real story of what happened; the rest of the houses heard Dumbledore's abbreviated version in which he said the troll had been subdued and Harry and his friends were involved. After finding out Harry was a parseltongue, all of Slytherin held a newfound respect for him, even those who firmly believed in the Dark Lord.
Harry and some of the other first year snakes had managed to get Marcus Flint to take them flying on the weekend. Harry, Blaise, and Draco were racing each other, while Millicent, Theo, Daphne, and Tracey were passing a quaffle. Daphne and Theo seemed to have more skill while the other two were just having fun being in the air. Blaise eventually went over to toss the quaffle while Draco and Harry continued to race, adding in some moves and tricks to their flight.
Flint who had been watching the races intently, decided to release a golden snitch, as a test. "Potter, Malfoy, I'm going to release a snitch - catch it!" Draco and Harry nodded and lined up into position, waiting for Flint to release the snitch.
The golden ball shot up and took off faster than they could see. Harry flew up higher and began to circle the pitch, Draco doing the same in the opposite direction. Harry spotted the little golden ball near the visitor side's hoops and took off after it. Draco followed after Harry, but when they got close the ball zoomed down.
Harry went into his dive with Draco right behind him. The pair hurtled through the air like falcons chasing each other on a hunt. As they neared the ground, Draco pulled up, fearing a crash, and was barely able to do so on the ancient school broom.
Harry, however, kept going and with four feet left, he lashed out and grabbed the tiny golden ball. As soon as he grabbed it, he started to pull up; his feet skimmed the grass while the rickety old broom shook in protest. The onlookers watched on bated breath as they saw the intense shaking and quivering of the broom. Finally, Harry somehow managed to regain control, and shot back up into the sky about five feet before coming back down to land.
Harry held up the snitch victoriously while his friends cheered, Draco offered him a slight grin and a high five, complementing him on his catch.
Of course, not everyone was impressed with him. Daphne, who'd been scared to her core as soon as she saw the two boys enter their dives, ran over and slapped him upside the back of his head, "Hardwin James Potter what the bloody hell is wrong with you! These aren't like our brooms you…" she was, mercifully so (for Harry), cut off.
Flint broke in, "That, was bloody brilliant Potter."
The next thing Harry knew, he was in Professor Snape's office with Flint standing next to him trying to convince Snape to allow Harry to play seeker. "Sir he's amazing, the catch was insane, and Higgs did mention he wants to focus on his OWLS this year."
"Let me see the memory of his catch," Snape said, bringing out a bowl with some runes carved on it that Harry recognized as the Norse runes for memory, from a book Daph had.
Seeing Harry's look Snape explained, "This, is a pensieve; it stores and replays memories." Harry nodded.
Snape watched the memory, and when he came out his face betrayed nothing. "First off, as Miss Greengrass said, never, ever attempt that, on a school broom – ever again. Understood?" Snape said harshly.
Harry surprised by his tone quickly replied, "Yes sir," like an army recruit would.
"Now also from what Miss Greengrass said, you have your own broom, yes?" Harry nodded.
"Then you should probably send for it, I will talk to the Headmaster, Flint; get him ready for the game at the end of the month." Flint nodded with a wicked smirk as he and Harry left.
"Alright Potter I don't want Gryffindor to know you're our seeker 'til the match, so get the other first years to come with you to the practices and don't dress in Quidditch robes either. Practices are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 3 to 5:30." Harry nodded. After arriving at the common room, Flint gathered the first years up and told them the plan. All the ones who were flying today agreed to be there if they could.
Before joining the others who'd already gone to bed, Daphne and Harry chatted in the corner as they did every night.
"So did Snape say how he was going to convince Dumbledore?" Daphne asked Harry.
"No, he just mentioned that I should get my broom sent here, should I use my 2000 or an older broom?"
Daphne looked thoughtful for a minute before answering; "You can use my broom for practice in case anyone finds out, and save your nimbus 2000 as one last surprise."
Harry nodded and called, "Nips"
With a pop, Nips appeared. "Sirs, is calling Nips?"
"Will you please bring me my Nimbus 2000 along with Daphne's Comet Two Sixty?"
"Of course Harry Sir, right away." He popped back a moment later with both brooms.
Harry looked wistfully at his Nimbus 2000 and turned to Daphne, "we've got to get you a better broom."
"It's just fine, and more importantly not nearly as good as your Nimbus, not that you need it," Daphne replied with a bemused grin.
"Snape also wants me to come in for private lessons in potions," Harry said, still looking at his broom.
"You're not marrying your broom, Potter, so look up," Harry looked up and smiled sheepishly at Daphne, who was scowling at him in mock-anger.
"Sorry." He said with a nervous chuckle.
"Why extra lessons? You're the best in our year for potions." She said with a proud smile.
"He said it was for more advanced potions and possibly working with him on new potions altogether."
"Harry, that's wonderful!" Daphne said with a smile. "I'm so proud of you! Now, it's getting late. We should probably head to bed. I could sit here and talk with you all night, but we have classes in the morning. Goodnight!" she said, after hugging him tightly, before walking off to the girl's dorms.
Time sped by and finally the day of the first Quidditch match of the year had arrived. Harry met the rest of the team down in the locker room and pulled out his shrunken Nimbus 2000, tapping it with his wand to resize it. Flint, Adrian Pucey, and Beau Montague eyed the broom hungrily.
"Potter! Why didn't you bring this beauty out before?" Flint asked incredulously.
Adrian quickly chimed in with an "and how'd you get it in the first place?"
Harry with a smirk answered, "Daph and I decided that it'd be smarter for me to use her broom for practices, in case anyone found out. And since Wood's been suspicious about Higgs having missed two practices so close to the game, our plan was put to use. I got the Nimbus 2000 when Daphne's dad suggested it after he took me flying for the first time this summer. All I had was my dad's old broom."
"Yeah, even though your dad was a Gryffindor he was legendary on the pitch," Flint exclaimed. There were very few students at Hogwarts who were more obsessed with Quidditch than Marcus Flint. He knew all of the school records, and all of the current record-holders. "Now let's kick some lion ass!"
The Slytherin team flew out on the pitch, earning gasps from the crowd and players alike. The players were envious and impressed with Harry's Nimbus, and the crowd, with the fact that Harry was only in his first year.
The game began with Slytherin scoring the first goal off of a beautiful breakaway. Flint had managed to dodge Gryffindor's chasers and whipped the quaffle right past Oliver Wood's outstretched arms. Like always Slytherin played hard, but to the surprise of most of the school, they weren't blatantly cheating. Harry managed to break up his fair share of Gryffindor's chaser plays while he was circling the pitch.
After nearly an hour of play, Harry got bored and decided to pull a mess with Gryffindor's seeker. As he saw the other boy approach on his broom, Harry broke into a dive, and maxed out his brooms acceleration. Towler, Gryffindor's seeker, was on a Comet Two Sixty and was just barely able to keep up. Thinking Harry was blocking the snitch, Towler kept after him until they were only 4 feet above the ground.
Harry, with a smirk, pulled right up out of the dive and sharply shot back up into the air. Towler, on a slower broom, was unable to react fast enough and plowed into the ground, with the broom and the player going in separate directions. A classic Wronski Feint – pulled off to perfection. Harry back at the top of the pitch, found himself shockingly unable to take advantage of Towler's absence.
His insides lurched as his broom began to buck forwards and backwards. Harry gripped the broom as tightly as he could while the broom jerked. Then with one almighty jerk forwards, Harry was pitched forward over the handle. Harry dangled from his broom above the Quidditch pitch, his fingers clamped on with all their might.
Flint, worried for his new star's safety, flew over to Derrick Bole, one of Slytherin's beaters.
"Derrick!" he said "Circle around under him, if he falls, you'll need to catch him mate!" he continued while pantomiming a circling motion. Bole nodded and flew off, hovering in a circle a few feet below Harry, ready and waiting to catch him.
Fortunately for the Slytherins, their precautions were unnecessary – Harry's brooms antics stopped as suddenly as they'd started, and Harry flung himself up back onto his broom.
Daphne was next to Tracey and Blaise in the stands when Harry's broom started malfunctioning. With a soft gasp of fear and worry, Daphne gripped Tracey's hand tighter then she would've ever thought possible. Aiolos, who had elected to stay with Daphne during the game, sensed her fear and coiled a bit tighter in comfort around Daphne's chest.
"Someone's jinxing the broom, the Nimbus 2000 wouldn't malfunction like that," Blaise whispered. Tracey focused her omnioculars on the stands, starting with the teachers, "Snape's not blinking and he looks like he's whispering," she said.
"Check the others for eye contact it can't be Snape," Daphne replied.
The three preteens scanned the crowd with focused eyes, before Tracey whisper-shouted "Quirrell!" and with that, Blaise took off for the teacher's box.
It took him about a minute at a dead sprint to reach it. Coming under the bleachers, Blaise saw a flask on the hip of a visiting parent and nicked it. He poured the alcohol on Quirrell's cloak then pointed his wand at it and whispered, "Incendio."
The flames burst up and crackled merrily, igniting off of the alcohol and breaking Quirrell's line of sight who looked to the flames, realizing he was on fire. Blaise disappeared quickly before anyone noticed him, and by the time he got back to Daphne and Tracey, Harry had caught the snitch.
Harry swung himself back up on the broom and breathed deeply, getting his bearings back. Harry looked to Bole in thanks, and saw the snitch across the pitch. Harry took off after it at a breakneck pace, followed closely by Towler who'd managed to finally regain his bearings and climb back into the air.
The snitch dipped, cut and wove, shooting downwards, and finally flew in a straight line, a few feet off the ground. Harry, mind racing, slowly got up into a crouch on his broom, and gradually stood, stretching out his arm as he did. He barely managed to get a finger on it, but that was enough to throw the ball off its flight pattern, and he quickly snagged it.
Unfortunately, the movement sent him too far forward, and his broom dipped into the grass, throwing him clear of it. Fortunately, years of 'Harry Hunting' was put to great use as he tucked into a roll, avoiding injury and came up with the snitch in his hand, and a broad grin on his face.
After the match, the friends had all gathered in the common room to celebrate their house team's was laughing in a corner, surrounded by his closest friends. "So wait, you stole a flask, poured it out on the git's cloak, then lit him on fire with it? Oh what I would've given to have seen the look on his face." He said between laughs. Blaise was chuckling but upon seeing Daphne's expression both he and Harry cut their laughter.
"So why would Quirrell try to kill me?" Harry asked.
Daphne looked pensive and then threw out in a whisper, "Voldemort?"
"Maybe, but I don't think so. Quirrell isn't a pureblood and used to be the muggle studies teacher. He doesn't seem like the type to have followed Voldemort so loyally" Tracey replied. Blaise looked thoughtful for a moment before spotting Vaisey and called out to him.
"What can I do for you four?" Aaron asked as he came over.
"Quirrell used to teach muggle studies right?" Blaise asked. Vaisey nodded his head yes in response.
"How has been employed this long with that stutter and fainting problem?" Tracey asked incredulously.
Vaisey laughed, "Well he never used to be like that. He was actually supposed to be quite the Ravenclaw, but after he took a sabbatical he changed. Something about a bad encounter with a vampire clan in Albania, I think." They all nodded and chuckled a little at the thought of stuttering Professor Quirrell anywhere near a vampire, let alone a whole clan of them.
Awhile after most of the room had cleared out and gone to bed, Daphne and Harry were lying next to each other on the couch; talking about everything and nothing. Daphne sat up and stared at Harry, "Quirrell worries me. First the troll and now the broom incident?" she paused and shook her head. "Harry - what if he really wants you dead?"
Harry looked deep into his betrothed's icy blue eyes, and thought for a few seconds. "How about I ask Aiolos to watch him and see what she finds out?" He asked her, receiving a nod in response.
"But anything else and I think we should tell Professor Snape." She said, still with a hint of anxiety in her tone. Harry agreed and hugged Daphne goodnight.
Two weeks later, Aiolos was still keeping tabs on Quirrell. Besides the man spending time in the Restricted Section of the library and generally acting weird, nothing else had happened.
Daphne, Tracey, Blaise and Harry were on their way to the library when the staircase they were on moved, dumping them off at a door they had yet to come across. Shrugging at each other they opened it to find a dark corridor.
"Damn it all!" They heard from the end and started to see the pillars light up.
"That sounded like Quirrell," Blaise said.
"Um guys we're in the third floor corridor", Tracey whispered. The group shared worried looks and tensed up, almost simultaneously.
"Come on, behind here!" Harry whispered and pointed to some pillars near the door, masked in shadows. Sure enough, they saw Quirrell pass by mumbling to himself. He pushed the doors open and slammed them shut once he'd crossed through.
Aiolos, sensing Harry, slithered up to him in the shadows and hissed, "you need to sssee thisss." And with that she slithered down the hall. Harry motioned for his friends to follow.
"Aiolos said there's something we should see. C'mon." he said as he followed his familiar. They got to the end of the hall but were stopped by an absolutely massive door.
Daphne took out her wand and spoke, "Alohomora."
The door unlocked but Aiolos spoke, "ssslowly open the door, do not go all the way in." she said before slithering up Harry and melding with his skin, resuming her tattoo form.
Harry explained to the group what she said then stuck just his head in to take a quick peek. Not even a second later, he pulled his head out and abruptly slammed the door, "Lock it, lock it, lock it, now!" he yelled in panic.
Not even bothering to question him, Tracey whipped her wand out and tapped the door - "Claustro!" she intoned, and in the nick of time. Just as the door locked, something slammed into the door from the other side, and the four youngsters heard snarling, scratching and slobbering.
"Okay. We're leaving, now. Time to go." Harry said hurriedly as he took Daphne's hand and started to run out of the corridor with Tracey and Blaise following.
When they were once again in the common room Harry hissed at Aiolos, "That wasssn't funny."
Aiolos made a sound like she was laughing then rose off of her wizard's skin and slithered over to lay by the fireplace, scaring Pansy Parkinson in the process. Pansy shrieked and made to swat at Aiolos, but stopped when Daphne said "Parkinson are you really that stupid? She's a king cobra, she's poisonous, and she already doesn't like you."
Harry looked over and started laughing when Aiolos let her hood flare menacingly, "Now that'sss funny," he hissed to her.
"Alright Harry, talk. What the hell was that?" Blaise said when they'd all gathered around what had become 'their' table, in the corner of the common room.
"A giant three-headed dog," Harry deadpanned. Tracey started laughing but stopped once she saw he was serious. "And it was standing on a trap door." The scarred boy continued.
Tracey and Blaise both had stunned looks on their faces, while Daphne was able to ask, with a tone of absolute venomous incredulity, "who in their right bloody mind, allows a Cerberus anywhere near a school!?"
"Clearly Dumbledore thought it'd be a good idea." Harry said with disbelief. "After all he closed that corridor down this year, so he obviously knows about it," he finished.
"Well now we know to avoid the damn corridor at all costs," Blaise said with finality.
"Daph, I think we should mention the dog to your parents," Harry whispered, not wanting to wake Tracey or Blaise who had fallen asleep across from them in the compartment. Today they were on the train heading home for the holidays, or in Harry's case, to the Greengrasses. At Daphne's look, Harry continued, "I just have a bad feeling about it. Maybe they'll be able to shed some insight on Dumbledore's thinking."
"Sure, just remember my parents are perfectly sane; whereas Dumbledore? Not so perfect." She said with a giggle. They shared a laugh over her comment before she pulled out a chess set, saying "come on you; let's work on your chess skills." Harry groaned but complied.
Daphne and Harry waved goodbye to Tracey and Blaise as they met up with the Greengrass family. "Daughter," Xavier spoke with affection while hugging her before her mother claimed her.
"Harry!" Astoria shouted as she leapt at him in an exuberant approximation of a flying tackle and a hug. Laughing, Harry hugged her and flipped her around to his back, where she reached over to give her sister a hug.
"I guess this means you're happy to see me," Harry smirked as he looked back to Astoria who giggled.
Xavier grabbed Harry and Daphne's trunks, shrunk them down and placed them in his pocket. "Ready to go home?" Evelyn asked in a sweet, motherly tone, placing a hand on both Daphne and Harry's shoulders. Both children nodded while Harry smiled at the thought of spending the coming weeks with his new family. Once they'd apparated to the Greengrass' home Xavier spoke, "Harry you'll be across from Daphne while staying here."
Harry woke to someone jumping on his bed. "Haaaarrrryyyy, wake up its Christmas," Astoria sang.
Harry jumped up tackled her and started tickling her while Daphne laughed from the doorway, "come on you two, mum and daddy are waiting." She said.
Astoria jumped up and ran out of Harry's room. Harry put on a pair of Slytherin green pajama pants and a black shirt to go over his wife beater. "Merry Christmas Daph," he said, giving her a huge hug and a light peck on the cheek. "Merry Christmas Harry, let's go downstairs," Daph replied.
"Morning dear, enjoy the wakeup call?" Evelyn called out amusedly as they came down the stairs.
"I've definitely had worse ones," Harry replied laughing, not noticing how Xavier and Evelyn's faces darkened and Daphne's became worried.
"Well come on we've got presents," Xavier spoke, tossing a present to Harry, "this one's from Tracey." Harry opened it to find a book written in what at first appeared to be squiggles, but then formed the words, 'Parseltongue' by Salazar Slytherin.
"Holy Shite!" he exclaimed. Harry grabbed for the card on the ground and read, 'This has been in the shop for a long, long time and nobody could read it. When I saw it at the beginning of the week it made me think of what Parseltongue would look like if it were written down. I hope it works for you, Merry Christmas, Tracey.'
"What is it?" came from all around him. "It's a book written in parseltongue by Salazar Slytherin," Harry said in an awed tone.
Harry received a cornicello from Blaise. 'How very Italian of him' Harry thought amusedly. In Italy, a cornicello was an amulet that was said to shield the wearer from the evil eye. The one Harry received was fashioned from the very tip of a Graphorn's golden horn, and was attached to a thin, masterfully wrought silver chain.
From the elder Greengrass's he was given a first edition copy of 'Moste Potente Potions' and few sets of his favourite styles of muggle clothing. From Astoria he received sugar quills, Honeyduke's Chocolate, and some wizarding fireworks.
Finally, he reached Daphne's gift to him. It was quite nicely wrapped, and was in a small red velvet box. When he slipped the latch open a golden snitch shot out, prompting him to instinctively lash out and grab it. As he examined the snitch, he realized it was professional level snitch with his name engraved on it. He was surprised when it opened, until Daphne explained all snitch's open for those who first touch it.
Inside the snitch, there was a heart made from a blue diamond set in a silver chain. Harry got up and hugged her and kissed her on the cheek with tears in his eyes. "Hardwin, we have one more gift to give you before we continue with the rest of the gifts," Xavier said, giving him folder marked with a Gringotts seal and the Ministry's seal.
Harry took the folder and looked at them questioningly before opening. The top form read 'Guardianship' across the top in bold. Harry looked at them with a look of disbelief. "Yes, Harry, we've been granted guardianship over you, if you wish it to be so" Evelyn spoke softly, "nothing will have to change except that the Dursleys no longer have any say in what you do, nor will Dumbledore."
"Th-thank you," he said, tears still fresh in his eyes from Daphne's gift. Harry stood up and hugged Evelyn, much to her surprise. "Harry darling, you can come to us with anything you need, or even just to talk, whenever you like" Evelyn whispered to him as he hugged her.
The Greengrasses opened Harry's presents to them next. Xavier received a rare book on Herbology written by Helga Hufflepuff that Harry had found in the Potter library, Evelyn received a diamond serpent brooch with amethyst eyes from the Potter vault, Astoria an ocicat kitten that was a beautiful ebony, with silver spots, and Daphne was given a Datejust Royal Black Rolex watch, with her initials; 'DLGP', engraved on the back. In addition, as a gift to the whole family, he'd brought a Pensieve, which were very rare magical artifacts, from the Potter Family Vault.
A week into Christmas break, Harry and Daphne were sitting in front of Xavier and Evelyn in Xavier's study.
"So what did you want to talk to us about," Xavier said realizing both kids seemed to be tense.
Harry glanced at Daphne who nodded, "Some things have been happening at school." the boy started. "Dumbledore gave us all a warning in September to stay away from the third floor corridor, or else risk a painful death. We also fought off and killed a troll that was let in during the Halloween feast."
Daphne picked up next with, "then during Harry's first Quidditch match, his broom was jinxed, almost killing him and we're pretty sure it was Professor Quirrell."
Harry picked the story back up, "and then we set Aiolos after him and found him sneaking into the third floor corridor where there's a Cerberus guarding a trap door."
Xavier sat pensive as Evelyn fumed, "What the hell is wrong with that delusional old coot!" Xavier stood and placed a hand on Evelyn's shoulder to calm her a bit then walked to the floo and called out, "Severus Snape," Professor Snape's head appeared in the floo, "Xavier, it's been quite some time. To what do I owe this pleasant surprise?"
"Severus, if you're free, please floo over. I believe we have a problem that involves my new ward, and your current employer." Severus nodded noting Xavier's tone, and came through.
"Evelyn, Mr. Potter, Ms. Greengrass," Snape nodded.
Xavier gestured to the last open seat which Severus took. "Considering my daughter and my son-in-law-to-be are in danger, let's skip the formalities," Xavier started. "I know most see you as Dumbledore's man, but I know your loyalty lies first with Lily, with anyone else secondary, and therefore, should also lie with Harry over the old bastard. Now in the interest of time and with Harry's permission I'd like to show you his memories of before he received his letter."
Harry nodded and Xavier pulled out the pensieve that Harry had gifted the family, and placed the memories in it. When Snape came out, he was even paler than normal and had a murderously angry mask etched on his face. "Does Dumbledore know?" he gritted out.
Harry nodded, "He was my former magical guardian. Only, he doesn't know that he's former."
Xavier spoke next, "it appears to me that he has either grown senile, or is trying to test Hardwin or get him killed, none of which we will stand for." Harry smiled at this and ducked his head in pleased embarrassment, only Daphne caught it and gripped his hand.
"Now, the children have told me that Hardwin has been in mortal danger three times this year; the troll, his first match, and the Cerberus."
"During the Quidditch match, I was using a counter curse. I suspect that it was Quirrell who was trying to jinx him. The troll was announced, also by Quirrell, but I am most curious as to how they know of the Cerberus," Snape said silkily.
"Hardwin set his familiar on Quirrell after they suspected him of the broom jinx," Xavier broke off looking towards the two children.
"He wasn't breaking eye contact and Harry always feels weird around him," Daphne spoke up, and then Harry continued, "Daphne, Tracey, Blaise and I got caught on one of those moving staircases on our way to the Library. It just so happened to switch, and took us right to the bloody corridor that Dumbledore mentioned in September." He said, almost bitterly. "Blaise suggested we check it out, so we walked in. We heard Quirrell cursing about something, and hid behind some pillars, good thing too, because he stormed out right after."
This time, Daphne picked up the story. "Aiolos had been following him already, so she mentioned to Harry that she'd found something in the door up ahead, she told us to follow her, and we did. Apparently, she thought it'd be funny to tell Harry to open the door without telling him what was behind it, because he was the one who looked in first, and apparently there was a Cerberus standing guard over some trap door that nearly clawed Harry's head off before we got the door closed in time."
"Something needs to be done about whatever crazy scheme Albus is trying to come up with now," Evelyn said, her tone brooking no disagreement. "Severus, can you take over Harry and Daphne's defense lessons for the rest of the year - tell Dumbledore they both have a problem with garlic, or something?" she asked.
"Of course Evelyn, that's not a problem" he said respectfully. "As for Quirrell, Mr. Potter, can your familiar keep following him?" Snape continued, receiving a nod from Harry in response.
"If he goes to the third floor corridor again come and find me. I will keep Dumbledore away from Harry for the rest of the year; it should be relatively easy, given my connection to Lily and being his Head of House." The potions master said with a hint of a smirk.
"Thank you Severus," the said elder Greengrasses, with a quiet 'thank you' following from the children. As Severus was about to floo back to Hogwarts he nodded and spoke to Harry, "your mother was a dear friend, Mr. Potter. I owe her quite a lot" and with that, he left.
So this has been edited and any mistakes were added by me. Thanks to HunterAzrael who's also doing the editing for my other story. To all of you waiting for the next chapter of Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, it might be a little while my brother passed away a little over a week ago.
A/N #2 Made some changes the biggest is Harry's name. With the newer genealogy I wanted to change it to Hardwin. I will be starting to edit the rest of the chapters now and updating them as I go, so somethings might not be consistent for awhile