There were two of them in his generation, Dumbledore ran out of leads and things went straight down the drain.
So he was high-strung, what else could he be? Thrown into a world with expectations he neither knew, nor cared to know. As he sat pondering the strange turn his life had taken, Harry Potter understood that he would never really fit in here. Not really.
Thankfully, the last carriage at the back of the Hogwart's Express was entirely empty save himself and his beautiful white owl. He lazily kicked his feet as he stared at the brilliant sunshine staining the breathtaking English countryside a decidedly appealing mix of gold and green. An abusive home was all he thought he'd ever live with; average at school, low expectation for his future prospects what with the Dursleys only short of a hair's breadth from sending him off to a school he had never ever heard of. Maybe he should have been feeling elated that he wouldn't ever have to consider attending the place now that he'd been dragged from under their noses.
Maybe he should be happy that he would be away from the dratted prison for most of the year. Maybe he should, but for some reason, he wasn't, and he hardly knew why.
He looked up as the door to the compartment opened and a red-headed boy walked in. It was the dweeb he'd seen earlier with a smudge on his nose, who was so excited to meet the legendary Harry Potter. The mere thought of it rankled his stomach juices.
"Can I-can I sit here, please?" The boy said, tentatively. Harry shrugged noncommittally. Far be it from him to prevent the guy. A few minutes of silence rested between them as Harry lost interest and began to stare out the window once more.
"Y-you're Harry Potter, right? The Harry Potter?"
Ok, just maybe that wasn't the best of ideas.
"I don't have a 'the' before my name on my birth certificate as far as I know," he replied. The boy laughed nervously.
"Oh, neither do I, it's normal," he said. Harry stared.
"You're normal? Normal for wizards?" He said, incredulously.
"Err," he looked decidedly uncomfortable now. "I think-I think I am, actually."
Harry groaned. "So I'm going to be getting all these people staring at me and asking me my name when they all know already? Great."
The boy laughed again, this time very high-pitched.
"What?" Harry asked, the sudden proclamation dragging him from his day dreaming once again.
"My name," the boy said. "It's Ron Weasley."
"Oh," Harry replied. And that was that. They say first impressions are important, and Harry was beginning to realise just how true that actually is. Stretching languidly, he rose from his seat and pushed the compartment door open. Shutting it behind him, he breathed a sigh of relief after seeing the slightly startled look on Ron Weasley's face that he was leaving. Seriously, what was wrong with that boy? Even his evil aunt Petunia had taught him that staring was rude.
Harry lazily trudged down the surprisingly comfortably-sized passage between cars and decided that this must be something magic could do as well. He peered through each window as he passed, never long enough for people to realise that someone was looking in on them from outside. He saw older students laughing, hugging, hanging out with each other. He saw first years like himself huddled in on themselves with such childish innocence that he was almost sick. If he ever acted like that at home…
Urgh, he didn't even want to think about it.
He passed another carriage, this one with a group of what looked like first years, but acted differently. Maybe it was their brash overconfidence, maybe it was their arrogance, but Harry found himself opening their door for some reason. The group looked up in surprise, either on seeing someone entering their compartment, or that they didn't expect anyone to enter in the first place.
It was a strange sight indeed. There were five girls and five boys. And it looked like they all knew each other too. There was a blond boy sprawled over one of the side seats, two heavy set others seated in front of him. The blond had an odd gleam in his eyes though and Harry found himself ignoring him for the others. There were two girls sitting by themselves in a corner, as if making some sort of statement to the others, one with ever-so-slightly curly blonde hair and the other with straight black locks and very square glasses perched upon her nose. Puberty had been very kind to the former, he decided dryly as his eyes took in the rest. Another two boys were sitting with the other three girls, and Harry found his eyes going back to the original blond he'd first seen upon entering.
"Who're you then," the boy said, not unkindly Harry decided.
"Harry Potter," he deadpanned, waiting for their reaction. He was not disappointed.
All conversation stopped abruptly, every head not already looking, swivelling so fast it was like he'd just exploded in their midst. The boy jumped from his seat and walked up to him.
"I saw you in Diagon Alley. I was going to say hello, but you didn't stay long enough," the boy murmured.
Well now, that was a strange reaction.
"Err, ok. Well I suppose you made up for it now then," he said. Harry was slightly unnerved by the adroitly focused gaze he found himself under from the boy in front of him.
"Sorry, I was just passing through."
The boy stepped aside and Harry walked past to the next compartment, not looking back.
He didn't know it yet, but that was the first time he'd seen Daphne Greengrass and the blond boy was the least of his worries.
-later that year-
He was jumpy, he knew he was. Strange things were happening in the halls of this school and he wasn't sure how much more he could take. Taking down a troll at Halloween all by himself, and finding he had an…ah 'aptitude with offensive magic' was what Professor McGonagall had called it, had already rocked his boat. He wasn't sure just how much more his boat could rock. He was not an expert in watery business after all.
He knew he had few friends. Ron Weasley had given up after the first few times, he'd even been slightly frosty to Harry when he'd realised that Harry didn't really like him all that much. Not that he cared.
Of course, he just had to run into the damned monster on his way back from the loo. It was like one of Fred and George's jokes come alive.
And now he was racing down the hallway away from Quirrel and Snape before they realised someone had snooped on them. His ears caught a slight scuffling sound to his right, and he spun immediately, wand-raised, only to find a similar piece of wood shoved between his eyes.
"Harry Potter," she hissed, and Harry only just realised that it was indeed a girl. "What would one so high and mighty like you be doing out at this time of night?"
Harry's grip tightened on his wand. "Don't be daft. I don't have to explain myself to you."
The girl bristled in indignation and Harry thought he recognised her from somewhere. She was in his potion's class, though he couldn't say for certain. He'd seen her around the great hall at mealtimes too. She was a Slytherin, that was it. Apart from that he didn't know much about the girl that stood before him.
"I am not daft! Besides, you're not one to talk!"
"Well, I don't really know you so I'm not sure if you're daft or not," he stated calmly.
"My name is Daphne!" She snapped. Oooh, touchy subject it seemed.
"Could it possibly be that you have been called Daft because of your name in your childhood?" He smirked.
"Guess I'm right then," and he was smug at that.
No words issued from her mouth but her wand began to glow a pale crimson, ever-so-slightly. Which was absolutely remarkable for one so young, but Harry couldn't know that. His eyes drifted past her form to the pale arm clutched by her other hand, down that arm, noting the small pucker mark just past the elbow, to a small, peaky face, eyes closed, glasses askew on a freckled nose.
"What happened to her?" he asked.
"I said shut up!" Daphne roared, jabbing her wand against his forehead.
"That's Tracey Davis, isn't it? The one that Malfoy started on last week in potions," It was more a statement than a question.
"It's none of your business!" Daphne said angrily.
Harry squatted in front of her and stared at Tracey's arm. It looked like a needle had been pushed in, almost like how his arm looked after an inoculation at the doctor's…except, it was swollen badly, the veins surrounding the intravenous mark bulging behind pale white skin.
"Get away from her!" Daphne screamed. Harry startled badly, scuttling back and staring up at the blonde witch in shock.
"I was just seeing if she was ok! What's your problem?" He snarled.
"You, Potty, you're my problem! You stay away from me! Stay away from my friends!"
And with that, she stalked away, dragging poor Tracey along the floor behind her.
"Ugh, I hate, hate, hate that stupid, stuck-up PRICK!" She raged as she stomped up to a wall deep within the dungeons of the castle. Pointing her wand at the wall, with a muttered word, a section of brick and mortar exploded inwards, showering the first year girls' dorm-room with dirt. She ducked inside, throwing Tracey's body onto the bed beside her own.
"Stupid idiots and not knowing where they stand in society, HE CAN'T BE AS STRONG AS ME, DAMNIT!" She screeched, hands reaching up to tear at her hair.
"I've been training all my stupid life and he just comes around and makes a feather blow half the roof down AND YOU! Stupid Tracey! I told you not to touch that stuff, that you'd get addicted AND YOU STILL WENT AND DID IT! GAH! You're all dumb animals!"
She tore her cardigan from her frame and tossed it at the wall, her hairband soon to follow. Daphne moved around her bed, absently waving her wand at the wall to repair the damage she had just imparted in order to get in without going through the common room. No-one actually knew how she did it, without them knowing all these months since they'd started. They'd even asked the other three girls who had moved themselves out of the room shortly after the start of the year, but mysteriously, not one of them knew.
They all quoted the same reason for moving out too.
On the other bed, Tracey groaned pitifully.
"You just lay there like the fool you are! I warned you! I warned you so many times not to touch that stuff! We've all had it different, boohoo! Who cares if you're dad wants to arrange your marriage for you? I don't care! I've been fighting all my life for no reason, you don't have any room to complain, Tracey!"
But Tracey could only moan as the drugs worked their way out of her system under Daphne's diligent care. Her actions were totally contradictory to her words, and truly she didn't even know what she was angry at herself. It all came down to one thing.
"I hate you Harry Potter!" She screamed at the ceiling.
He'd thought he'd had it hard last year. But he was wrong, oh so wrong. Saving the Philosopher's Stone by throwing a man halfway through a stone wall was nothing on this year.
This year, he had some freaking monster to deal with that seemingly only he could hear. Not only that, but he had a suitably stupid Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Dafty Greengrass was still shooting him venomous looks whenever he was in the vicinity.
He didn't even know why!
And now he was brewing Polyjuice Potion out of an ancient book he'd stolen from the Restricted Section in order to sneak into the Slytherin Common Room and see if Malfoy knew anything about it. In a toilet. A girl's toilet. An 'out-of-use' girl's toilet to be exact.
Sighing as the potion finally turned pallid yellow, he shut Moste Potente Potions carefully to avoid cracking the old parchment anymore and stuffed it into his bag. Covering the simmering cauldron that now had to be left for two weeks before the last stage could be performed, he shouldered his way out of the cubicle just as another person did the same beside him in the next stall over.
Wands were very quickly drawn.
"What are you doing here, Spotty?" Daphne Greengrass snarled.
"Wow, is that the best you can do for an upgrade Dafty? One letter? That's amazing!" Harry mocked.
"How many times have I told you to shut that arrogant mouth of yours? This is a girl's bathroom, if you hadn't noticed. Or maybe you had. God knows, you're so cranky, you could pass for a girl at the best of times."
Harry simply stared at her, his wand still poking her in her ribs.
"Answer the question!" She hissed.
"Why?" he asked, genuinely confused. "What has it got to do with you?"
"It's got everything to do with me! I'm…I'm…"
She turned her back on him.
"You're what?" He asked.
"SHUT UP!" She roared, swinging back around, her wand right under his chin. "Forget I said anything! Now why are you here?"
Harry couldn't quite understand what was wrong with this girl. She was crazy, insane even. He was sure she was responsible for every single incident involving Neville Longbottom and Potion experiments gone awry, but he could never figure out just why she would have such a fixation with the boy's work. The only conclusion he came to was that she was experimenting with something herself, something illegal no doubt, and rather than get caught red-handed, she passed it off on someone who could so very easily become her scapegoat.
Maybe she was in here for the same reason he was; making an illegal potion to sort out this Heir of Slytherin business.
"You're brewing a potion, aren't you?" He enquired softly. He received his answer in the slight widening of eyes and tensing of shoulders. She shook off her shock quickly.
"So that's what you're doing in here," she said smugly. "And what potion would that be?"
"Probably just as illegal as yours," he said, his mouth twitching slightly. Daphne paused for a moment, and he was surprised to see amusement cross her features, before it vanished just as quickly.
"Don't get caught."
And with that, she swept around a sputtering puddle growing beneath a broken faucet's sink, and disappeared out the doorway.
He so did not understand that girl.
As always, her notes were written in code. Well, actually, more like triple code, but only she and her sender had to know that. Gazing around surreptitiously, she unfolded the square of paper, twisted her wand in a one-eighty arc, spat on the leaf, and slammed the point of her magical extension into the centre. The note flashed twice before releasing its garbled words upon its surface. Now to decode it.
The second step was a simple language enhancement charm. The problem with villains was that if they tried something simple to unlock a closely guarded secret, they always did it rationally. How to open a lock? Use a key, if not, try to pick it. How to decode a secret message? Use a simple translating spell. And so, Golding, the genius that he was, decided that they'd work it the other way round and use a common language enhancement charm. It was a simple spell that nearly every single student learnt in the first few weeks at Hogwarts to better their essays; a few mouthy synonyms here, a few missed punctuation marks there.
Golding reworked the spell to work as the second stage of decoding for their notes. The third stage was a simple muggle matching technique. Sure, muggles would easily spot it, but they'd never get to that stage in the first place without magic, and a wizard would be totally stumped by the third if he ever managed to get past the first.
Unlikely. That was DNA magic at its best.
Her eyes scoured the note quickly, before she burnt it, sprayed it with water and then tossed it out her window. Tracey was out and about, probably in the library, trying to get over her drug addiction, like that would ever happen, and this was not good news.
So the MSA had caught wind of what was going on in Hogwarts. Stood to reason they'd have her investigate. But this just hit to close to home. What about her family's allegiances? What about her own projects? Do these people never consider the most important factors for their agents?
Damn them, she thought. Now who's going to look after Neville tomorrow?
It was a lazy Sunday evening as clouds stole over a placid, clear sky, the moon waning as the hour drew long. Harry found himself running, running as fast as he could up the flights of steps to the top of the Astronomy Tower.
He'd learnt the hard way how Dafty's plans could go wrong so easily last year. Having found the Chamber of Secrets entirely by accident; an exploding cauldron full of Grade A, magical TNT, revealing a hole parallel to a pipe, a humongous pipe that travelled straight down into the bowels of the castle, he knew that he had to put a stop to her most recent endeavour before things spiralled out of control.
Honestly, Sirius Black and his death threats were pushed to the back of his mind when the silly girl decided to do whatever the hell she wanted. She was up to something, he didn't know what, but she was up to something secret.
She snuck around the castle too much. Her magic was too well-developed for even the strongest of graduates, her body too well kept. It was almost as if she were a hired assassin, and he would've believed it too, if people hadn't said the same thing about him. Harry had no friends in his year. He was the social outcast, his fame only a growing question mark of days bygone. The students didn't know why he was so powerful, neither did he, but they held him at a sort of awed distance; the guy you talked about behind his back in hushed whispers, but never felt you could ever approach.
Hell, Dafty was probably the closest thing he could call to a friend besides Malfoy, and did he hate that guy's guts.
Sprinting into the chamber at the top of the spire, he threw up a detecting charm, not sure what she was planning. He'd overheard her mumbling at breakfast and knew something was up. That added to the strange green flashes of light his classmates had been talking about, and the ghosts that had come back with no recollection of having just been up there…either it was Greengrass, or something as bad as his yearly nemesis come back to bite him in the butt.
He frowned as his spell came up jumbled. There was no head nor tail of what she had cast here. At least now he knew she had definitely cast something. Some kind of…detection spell mixed with something more offensive. Or was that defensive? Offensively defensive?
He was walking in circles, staring at the walls. She'd be here any minute now. Right on cue, the girl herself glided up the last step and recoiled at the sight of him.
"Why can't you ever mind your own business Spotty?" She ground out after a pregnant silence. Her face darkened noticeably, but she didn't raise her wand.
"Look, after last year, there's no way in hell I'm letting you try another one of your big projects," Harry said with conviction.
"What the hell would you know? Just because you killed a Basilisk doesn't mean you have the right to act like you own the place!" She sniped.
"Oh, and that's your right is it?" he growled. This time, her wand snapped up.
"Don't make me curse you, Spotty. You orphans think you have it so hard huh?"
Harry's blood began to boil. Where did she get off saying something like that? Before he realised it, his own wand was levelled at her head.
"You want to say that again, princess?" he whispered.
As he ducked the blood-red hex that was aimed at his head, he realised that maybe it was the wrong thing to say. How was he to know how many issues she had in her past for perfectly normal things? He was thrust from his thoughts when he was forced to leap into a barrel roll, a large chunk of stone barely missing his head.
"WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?" He screamed. "EVERY TIME, YOU JUST BLOW THE HELL UP!"
She didn't answer, her lips only thinned even further. Her face flushed, her wand tip glowing merrily, she threw spell after spell, ridiculously overpowered, his way. A flagstone exploded in his face, the bits freezing and then darting at him. The entire peak of the tower crashing down around him, the floor and walls shaking at their duel. Of course, he gave just as good as he got. She was forced into acrobatics to dodge his bludgeoning hexes. And by God, was she good at dodging; it was almost uncanny. Harry conjured as many iron balls the size of his head, reaching down, he placed his wand tip on the floor and pulled. The concrete groaned and shuddered before rising as if stuck to his wand, the floor tilting precariously and sending the heavy balls rolling in her direction.
It was to this sight that Peeves the Poltergeist rose halfway out of the floor, only stopping when his eyes, or lack thereof, registered just what was making the racket that had drawn him. Daphne was spread forward, one leg back, one leg forward, both hands gripping her wand above her head, glowing white tendrils of magic grasping all the iron balls and trailing chunks of what was one the ceiling and parts of the walls and floor, in a magnificent cloud of sparkling assortments stretching out behind her. Harry was still holding the floor. How the floor still held them both up was anyone's guess.
There was a very awkward moment in which Peeves lost all his usual bravado at the two before him.
"I-ah, I hope I'm not interrupting anything-"
"YOU ARE!" they both snapped. "-but Filchy's on his way."
At Daphne's swearing, and Harry immediately sending a wave through the floor in his direction, Peeves dived back through the stone to escape the two bonkers third years.
"This is ALL your fault Spotty!" She groused, dropping her weapons to the floor with audible cracks and thuds.
"Oh yeah? See, I don't see your logic in that. As far as I know, you're the one who's been planning stuff up in here for months and Obliviating people if they pass through while you're at it!" He retorted.
Daphne glared at him. "Why can't you ever mind your own business? Why are you so nosy?"
"I have to be! After you nearly killed me last year! Who knows what could happen if someone else gets caught in one of your stupid experiments!"
"I was saving your worthless life, you dimwit!" She snarled.
"I don't need an arrogant, pureblood supremacist like you to help me! I look after myself!" He screamed right back.
They both stilled as they heard heavy footfalls three, maybe four floors down. Without missing a beat, Harry strode out of the tower room, down the first flight of steps to a broom cupboard, flung the door open and hastily stuffed himself within its musty confines. It would have been a perfect hiding place for him, slight as he were, if Daphne hadn't pushed herself in behind him.
"What the heck do you think you're-"
"Be quiet!" She hissed, her wand digging into the top of his spine. "Work your illusions, mumma-boy, I know you can do them."
Trying very hard to ignore that his worst enemy was currently pressed against his back with her decidedly lethal wand poking his Central Nervous System, he gulped and spun his wand in a complex pattern of figures until a strange feeling overcame them. It was almost as if they were in water, the air swirling around them hypnotically, their limbs feeling heavy as if dragged down by a large weight.
"Don't say anything until he checks the place and walks away," she whispered, making him shiver as her breath tickled the nape of his neck. As he glanced back at her suspiciously, he was met with a look of awe on her face as her eyes darted around the cupboard, taking in his efforts.
"How…" she began but immediately broke off as the door was wrenched open, light spilling into the enclosed space. Argus Filch's ugly visage was shoved into the enclosure, his eyes spinning madly as he muttered intelligibly to himself.
"Not in here are they? Brooms and dust is it? We'll catch them yet, we will, oh yes we shall Mrs. Norris. They won't get away this time; that Potter and Greengrass. Blow up my office will they? We'll see about that…" he croaked, shutting the door with a bang and shuffling off in his unique way.
Daphne gave a great sigh of relief, her body losing a lot of its tension and unknowingly flopping onto the boy in front of her.
"That was close, too close. Good thing it wasn't Snape, or McGonagall though. They would've found the magical traces of the limiter…"
"What are you talking about?" Harry jabbed. She stiffened again, realising the situation. Reaching a hand past him, she pushed the door open and shoved him out, stepping out after his stumbling form and brushing her clothes down.
"Never you mind. How did you do such a powerful illusion? You've only just started your magical education three years ago, it shouldn't be possible for you," it was almost as if she couldn't see him. He was getting irritated now.
"How should I know how I do it? It's not like what I do is special with what you can do!" he retorted.
"Yes but I've had military training…" She said, before realising just what she'd spoken. Her wand snapped up.
"If you even try to Obliviate me, I swear to God I'm going to Hex you back to next Monday, Greengrass," He said dangerously.
"She considered him for a moment, not really doubting that he could actually do what he threatened to. At first, she'd been jealous that he was so powerful, on par with her even though she'd undergone MSA training since the age of four. She'd quickly began to understand that there was little point to worrying over it; he was a very real, and powerful adversary, one that she wasn't allowed to touch by order of her own administration, and so it was difficult for her to act appropriately around him.
It didn't help that he knew just the things to say, just the words to utter that would drag those haunted memories from the dregs of her concealed mind. It annoyed her to no end that he had such an ability over her; he never failed to make her angry in some way, sometimes so angry that she'd actually wish Golding would rescind his stupid orders and let her kill him.
"Fine," she said, lowering her wand. "But if I find that anyone, and I mean anyone knows my secret, I'm coming for you, Spotty."
"I'm just quaking in my boots Dafty," he mocked. She almost considered making him a bloody smear on the ground right then, but somehow reined her anger in.
"Not a word, I mean it," she growled. Harry shrugged.
"Not like I have anyone to tell anyway, well, besides you that is," he murmured. It gave her pause.
She shook her head and left the tower quickly, her steps silent, yet swift.
"And you didn't even tell me what this was all about in the first place," Harry groaned. What a waste.
The next morning, Hagrid would appear at the breakfast table sporting huge, puffy eyes at the loss of the entire Acromantula nest and most of the adults of just about every beast in the Forbidden Forest. For some unknown reason, only the babies of their respective species had been spared.
The problem with wizards, Gellert Grindlewald had decided, was that they either focused too much on something, or didn't focus at all. There was no in-between, no shade of grey when they acted. It was to be admired, to an extent, that one could be so assured of his moral standing, yet actions were always more complex then that.
As he sliced his arm for the millionth time, dripping the blood from the wounded appendage to the floor and smearing it into the cracks of the brickwork of the prison cell he had resided in the for that he-didn't-know-how-many years, he smiled wryly.
Take his example for instance; the guards of Nurmengard went to so much trouble hiring Goblins and Curse-Breakers – even himself – in order to erect the strongest protections known to man so that prisoners would never be able to break out. And it was true that each one of them, especially himself, had done the absolute best warding-work to be found in the modern world and yet none considered such a simple inherent fact of magic.
Magic flowed through blood…well, like blood itself. You can deprive someone of their wand, you can even coat a room in so many wards that they're barely able to get up and sit down upon the old, rickety steel frame of a bed provided, and yet you could never remove their blood, or the potency that it held, without killing them.
He never stopped to wonder or consider that he hadn't thought of it either, even though he had been commissioned to strengthen the prison in his time. But in the almost 50-or-so years he had been staying there, only one thing had mattered to him.
And five days later, when an obligatory ward check-up ended with the guards finding his entire cell blown right out of the side of the imposing building, only one thing was concluded from the following investigation into the escape of the Dark Lord Grindlewald from Prussia's Nurmengard Fortress-Prison: why had he wasted gallons of his own blood destroying the whole cell when he could have just…say, blown a hole big enough for his body to fit?
And that was a fact that would never be answered.
Daphne Greengrass slammed her dormitory door behind her as she strode purposefully to the centre of the Slytherin Common Room. She rarely ventured out of her dorm to the cold, dank chamber that usually held the vast majority of Slytherin students in attendance that year. Each visit was usually heralded by nervous glances and anxious whispering, not that she paid attention. The only person she'd ever leave her abode to find was her one and only friend, Tracey Davis. Then again, with the idiotic girl's drug-addiction and neurotic Schizophrenia, maybe she should be revoking that privilege one of these days.
The Common Room was empty today, of course it would be, what with the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament taking place outside on the grounds of the castle. Naturally, she was meant to be there too as Golding had ordered, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Her own interests took priority and Spotty could very well look after himself, couldn't he?
She sniffed disdainfully.
Within half an hour, she had the entire room drawn up using the runes she had been studying. Transference was perhaps not so much Runic Magic rather than Alchemy, but the only source of such information was Albus Dumbledore, and there was absolutely no way in hell she'd ever go to that old optimistic dunderhead.
With a flourish, she finished the last of her framework along the edges of stone vertices of the entire hall and strode to the focal point that would be the origin of her spell. Wiping her dripping hands atop her now stained white blouse, she gripped her wand, touched the tip to the floor and spun it clockwise with as much force as she could. There was no foolish wand-waving or spell-words to initiate the sequence of events, only the correct spark of energy to get the Runes working.
And work they did.
The very air began to warp and twist, resembling a shimmering vortex as the oxygen and hydrogen began to combine and liquefy into water. There was a flash of energy and she found herself putting up a bubblehead charm only just in time.
The entire room, floor-to-ceiling, was submerged in pure, viscous water. Sheaves of paper, no doubt someone's work left carelessly on a table, floated past her own suspended form.
Well that didn't work quite as well as she thought it would.
Swimming to the entrance, she swung the portrait hole open and stepped out quietly, her body making an odd, squelchy sucking noise as it separated from the deluge behind her. Sopping wet, drenched to the bone, she turned and regarded her handiwork; there was literally a wall of water separating the frigid dungeon halls and the equally cold interior of Slytherin's abode. She dipped her hand through and then quickly pulled it out, finding her hand clinging to rivulets of water as they were pulled free from the ocean within.
Hmm, she pondered, how do we reverse this now?
And it was to this site that each house was introduced to on return to their own holdings. How was she to know that there was an ancient charm linking the four common rooms together to purify the air?
Alas, they would never find the culprit, although she had a sinking suspicion that Dumbledore knew exactly who did it.
It was never well-known amongst the student population just how badly Harry Potter and Daphne Greengrass hated each other. In fact, if one were to ask, a passing classmate would easily point to Draco Malfoy as the Last of the Potters' greatest annoyance. People who saw them together for the brief flashes in public that would occur, only received the notion that they irritated the other, mild annoyance at best.
Similarly, hardly anyone knew that the two of them were on a completely different scale to theirs. The difference in power was so exorbitant that Harry found it hard to reign in during his daily study routine; his spells overpowering or working too well in the most spectacular of fashions. So when everything came to a head the morning after the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, nobody, not even Albus Dumbledore, could have expected it.
Harry was sat at the far end of the Gryffindor table as per usual, his eyes staring unseeingly up into the enchanted ceiling. His fellow Gryffindors gave him a wide berth, and Ron Weasley was continually sending dark looks his way for reasons he knew not.
And frankly, he didn't care.
Alastor Moody had recommended flying at the dragon in broad daylight, a Hungarian Horntail no less, as if he could ever win such a stunt. The air was a dragon's domain and he would have been roasted before getting half a foot over the polished wood his beloved Godfather had bought for him. So instead, he had resorted to Viktor Krum's tactic of shooting a Conjuntivitis Hex at the beast's eyes. How was he to know that it'd take half the bloody thing's head off?
He'd lost half of his points for killing his dragon, but at least he'd come out alive. Better yet, he had retrieved the Golden Egg and not had a single scratch upon his person; none of the other champions could claim that. But he was annoyed. Annoyed, irritated and very very tired.
After all the action of the previous day, he'd stumbled his way up to Gryffindor tower only to find his entire house standing outside, a couple of them sopping wet. He'd paused in confusion, unable to equate just where the water had come from this far up in the castle. That is, until he noticed that the portrait hole was open and a huge wall of water was staring, innocuously, right in the face.
He had not slept much. Add that to the fact that his last week had been hell on earth, trying to figure out just how bad he would screw up when facing a 40-foot tall, fire-breathing bird and manage to live through it, one could say he was rightly pissed. There could only be one culprit in this situation. There was only one person in the entire student body who had the guts to pull something so ludicrous in the name of experimentation.
He took one last, angry gulp of his Pumpkin Juice and stood up with conviction, ignoring another glare from Ronald. Striding towards the Slytherin table, he spied his target mumbling into a book with a perplexed expression on his face. His anger blossomed, hot and heavy within his stomach. He fingered his wand absently as he brazenly bridged the halfway point between the two halves of the hall. A few people had begun to notice his movement, and he felt eyes tracking him as he continued on his way.
Not that he cared. Greengrass was going to pay.
She didn't even notice when he stood right behind her hunched form and he paused for a moment, wondering what she was so fixated on.
"That can't be…water complex at 60 degrees…that's fine," she flipped a page. "To cancel, to cancel…funnel a wall of water? Too much, where would it go?"
If he needed any further confirmation of who was responsible for his drooping eyes and blurry mind, that was it. A split-second later, his wand tip was digging a trench in the suddenly stiff girl's back.
"You'd better have a damned good reason for that stunt you played last night Dafty," he growled low in his throat. Daphne glanced at his face out of the corner of her eye to find him literally incensed and almost frothing at the mouth.
"And what did I do last night? I didn't know you watch me while I sleep. That's a bit weird you know." And not once did her gaze come back to his, rather it swept the hall, taking in the reactions of others, looking for escape routes. He knew she was good, she'd said something about being taught how to act, and yet he'd waved it off as inconspicuous. But now, up close, he could see her analytical mind, her logistical planning and the smouldering embers of power behind those eyes he hated so much.
"Shut up and answer the question! Why the hell was I forced to spend an eighth night running without sleep because of your stupidity?"
She bristled with anger, her own ire quickly rising to match his. The imbecile thought he had a right to ask her questions? Her hand whipped out to bat his wand aside, but she only succeeded partially. He'd been anticipating her move and although she pushed his wand out from behind her, he clasped her wrist in a vicelike grip.
"I said answer the damn question, Greengrass!" He hissed.
"What makes you think you're entitled to anything I say, Spotty?" She retorted, the venom in her voice a warning before her strike.
"Because I just spent another stupid day without a bed right after killing the biggest dragon I've ever had the misfortune to meet!" He roared.
If they had been attracting attention before, the entire hall was watching them now. Even the headmaster, who was looking faintly amused for some reason, not that either of them noticed.
She shoved him back, pulling her own wand from the holster beneath her sleeve. As the two stood, once again beneath the ends of each other's wand, Daphne noticed Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall begin to move towards their position. Being right at the back of the hall was an advantage in this situation, it meant she'd have time to get a shot at him before they could intervene, and she didn't care how cheap that was.
Harry deserved it.
"Don't make me hex you Spotty. I'll reduce you to a snivelling piece of drivel if you weren't one already," she sniped. He frowned furiously and opened his mouth to retort but she had had enough. A bolt of silver energy slammed into him and threw him headlong across much of the expanse of the Great Hall, only to crash down in the middle of the Gryffindor table. She smirked. Revenge was oh so sweet.
But then he stood up, rivulets of jam and juice dripping from his chin and his eyes focused upon her from the distance he had been thrown. A shiver went down her spine at the utter loathing in those clear green eyes. As a girl, maybe she would have thought they were beautiful if she wasn't repeating a distracting mantra over and over within her mind.
Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!
She had little time to think as a glowing green ball tore from his wand and raced towards her, students flinging themselves out of the way and diving under tables and chairs to avoid the ensuing chaos. Some of the older students even went as far as to put up shield charms, not that it would help if either of their spells hit them. She had first-hand experience with that.
Her wooden bench exploded into splinters and chunks of roughly hewn wood. Bludgeoning Hex she identified. A dull gong resounded as another spell struck the metal pitcher of honey two places down and the whole table shook under the force, much of the remaining cutlery and food clattering to the ground.
But now Daphne was seriously irked. He hadn't hesitated to throw his wild magic around in a room full of people. People who could make her life hard for her if they found out who and what she really was. Of course, she didn't realise her hypocrisy as she built up her magic into a huge ocean of power within her body, a wand beginning to glow a startling emerald.
"HARRY POTTER YOU ABSOLUTELY IDIOTIC MORON!" She screeched.
And the fight was on. The table behind her rose up to crush her from behind but she transfigured it into a huge Kangaroo that leapt the distance between them in one huge bound only to be frozen and blasted into little pieces right back at her. But Daphne was already moving and she was nowhere near the shards as they embedded themselves to a quivering halt halfway into the wall. With a wave of her wand, the cutlery on the Gryffindor table rose up behind him and shot towards his person only to falter and freeze in mid-air before slowly turning round and round into a vortex of stainless steel and bone china. The mini-tornado swept towards her but she struck the floor which blossomed upwards like a flapping wing and slammed it right back at him.
Of course, it was that moment the professors chose to act and both Harry and Daphne found themselves bound to chairs at the centre of the hall with the livid visages of Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall shoved in their faces.
"Just what do you think you two are doing?" Professor McGonagall whispered dangerously. Her bottom lip was quivering in suppressed rage, her knuckles white as she clutched the two wands that were previously engaged against each other. Her eyes shone with a fiery anger and Daphne had a sinking suspicion that she wouldn't like what was to follow. She, of course, didn't bat an eyelash at the mildly disapproving look her own head of house shot her way.
"Detention, both of you, for the rest of the school year for this stunt you have pulled. You will be helping the house-elves to clean each and every plate that comes though this hall every day. Am. I. Under-stood?"
Neither of them answered, they were too busy glaring holes in the other.
"Get out of here. I don't want to see either of you out of your respective common rooms until tonight where you will meet me in front of the kitchens at 9PM. Leave. NOW!"
Harry could only nod and grudgingly shuffle out of the hall, his head held high and his back turned towards his nemesis. He'd get his own back eventually; Dafty had better watch out.
Harry couldn't quite believe the events of the past few hours, sitting up in a pristine four-poster bed in the hospital wing as he was. Winning the final task was a breeze, he'd just thrown whatever the hell he'd wanted at the bushes and creatures roaming around the maze; a particularly clever levitation charm literally clearing his path on many occasions and so what if that Sphinx was probably still hanging upside down screaming bloody murder?
What had come after was worse, far worse. He'd taken the cup, miles ahead of the other champions, only to be whisked away to a graveyard who knew where. He'd seen Wormtail a moment too late and had paid for it. Maybe Dafty was slightly right about his big head and sticking his nose where it wasn't wanted.
He shook his head irritably. It was not his fault, maybe he'd been distracted but that could be expected in the situation he had found himself in. Older and more experienced people would have frozen in a similar one and he took pride in the fact that he hadn't gone stiff with fear. Pettigrew had proceeded to enact a depraved potion involving blood, bones and what-have-you and now there was a monster walking around in the guise of a man. Of course, Voldemort couldn't quite believe his own eyes when Harry had sent his Death Eaters flying backwards and summoned the portkeyed Cup to get the hell out of there.
Choose your battles and live to fight another day.
It was to this sight that Daphne Greengrass stormed into the hospital wing, her hair frazzled and her features a rictus of anxiety. She wasted no time putting him on the spot, her wand the first thing pointed at him. They'd had a bad year as their enmity would go, and she was in no mood to trifle with the boy what with her future on the line.
"Yes?" Harry could only mutter exasperatedly. How many times did that make it this year alone that he'd been in this position?
"You will tell me everything that happened in the task, and you will also tell me what Barty Crouch said to you. You will tell me now," she said through gritted teeth.
"Why should I tell you anything when you've got your wand pointed at my face? That's not very good manners you know."
She visibly restrained herself from attacking him right there and then. Her entire job prospects were about to be destroyed because of him and he was only delaying the inevitable. It was her job to keep an eye on him, it was her job to sniff out the spy, and it had been her job to deal with Barty Crouch Junior. Not only had she failed, but this was the fourth time. Four years, four failures; Golding could only overlook so much. She had no life outside of what she did, the MSA had seen to that. She had nowhere else to go and she was grasping at straws.
She took a deep breath and lowered her wand.
And he did. He had no idea why he did, but he told her exactly what she wanted to know. Through all the hate, the grudging respect, the annoyance that she'd become and the irritation he had been feeling all night, he told her all that had happened to him. He would be surprised about just how much he'd said later on, leaving him short of breath as his monologue was completed.
"Damn," she whispered once he'd finished.
"Would you tell me what's going on?" Harry asked.
"No, now shut up. I need to think," she snapped. Harry stared at her indignantly.
"You can't just show up here, threaten me, get what you wanted and then not reciprocate! That's like…that's like taking candy from a baby!" He exclaimed.
"Good to know that you know exactly what you are compared to me Spotty. Now please shut up."
Harry huffed and decided to ignore her. She was such a snide person at times…most of the time, he corrected. He stared out of the window for a good five minutes only to be startled when she suddenly spoke up.
"Crap. I've done it this time. No way around it I guess," she murmured.
"What?" He asked in confusion.
"None of your business. Don't say a word of this discussion to anyone Spotty. Not one word," she snarled.
And with that, she swept out of the room, cloak tails fluttering around her, leaving a very bewildered and even further annoyed black-haired Gryffindor behind her.
"You're telling me that you blasted two dozen people across a half-kilometre expanse with a wave of your wand?" Sirius enquired incredulously.
"For the last time, yes I did!" His Godfather could only shake his head and stare vacantly into the seat next to him where they were sitting in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Harry had been forced by the Order of the Phoenix to move into a room in the Black family's house, even worse, Ronald was here. Not that he talked to him, mind you, even though Mrs. Weasley seemed fond of him for reasons he could not fathom. He'd never even met the woman before now.
"Well either you're a prodigy, or Voldemort did something to screw around with your head when you were a baby," he said finally.
"Oh haha, and I suppose you're going to make a 'serious' joke now?"
"Actually, that's a good idea! I was very ser-"
They both looked up as Dumbledore strode into the room from the adjoining corridor, his eyes glinting mischievously as he took in the two already there.
"Ah, Harry my boy. I take it you are enjoying your stay in the late Black family abode?" he said airily. Harry snorted softly.
"Yeah sure, only a thousand litres of dust and bad company to keep the blood pumping," he muttered.
"You saying I'm bad company?" Sirius squawked.
"No, you're part of the dusty bit, seriously," he snarked. Sirius let out a bark of laughter and gave him a one-armed hug.
"Ron's not that bad you know? His mum cooks some amazing food too," Sirius said.
"Indeed she does. Her treacle tart is a national delicacy. Now, I should hopefully not have to remind you and Ms. Greengrass that we want the castle in one piece this year. With Grindlewald's escape and Tom's rise, we all have enough to deal with won't you say?" Dumbledore said, his mouth twitching ever-so-slightly. Sirius perked up at the mention of Harry's nemesis but he ignored him.
"Tell that to her. It was her fault that the common rooms were flooded and it was her fault that the Astronomy Tower almost collapsed. Don't blame me for something I didn't do," Harry complained.
"Be that as it may," Dumbledore continued. "I must ask that you at least show a little restraint. Dark times are approaching Harry, dark times indeed. We must all take the little happiness that is available to us."
Harry scowled at the empty words as Dumbledore headed for the door. Happiness? His life was anything but. Sirius was the only bright point in the otherwise monotonous routine he had built since he was three years old and it was only going to get worse now that a serial killer was out for his blood once again. He'd happily live his life in obscurity if he could manage it, but Greengrass was like a bug always following him around and he had a strange love-hate relationship with the student body.
"Your problem is that you need more friends, Harry," Sirius said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "When I was your age and things hit the fan, James, Remus and Peter were always there for me."
"Look how that turned out," Harry muttered snidely. Sirius' features darkened considerably and he turned away, though he didn't remove his arm from his Godson's shoulders.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that," Harry apologised. "It's just things are all over the place right now and Ronald isn't making it any easier."
Sirius turned back and caught his eye and Harry was surprised to see them shining with unshed tears.
"I know Harry," he whispered, his arm tightening a little. "You can always take it out on Ron and show those amazing blasting skills."
The two of them burst into laughter as the tension disappeared between them.
The Greengrass home was a modest affair. A three-bedroom cul-de-sac near Wolverhampton, right at the edge of the motorway but not so close that you could hear the Muggle cars screaming along at close to a hundred miles an hour. It was a lovely patch of land, a medium-sized hillock of grass bordered by a white-thatched fence. The house itself was all red-brick and mortar, the windows were double-glazed and the back door led out to a garden that any child would be quick to use as his make-shift football pitch. The Greengrass matriarch, with two daughters, hadn't needed to worry about that, however, and so had taken the liberty of planting a colourful set of flowers at the edges.
But it was all a lie.
She could have been adopted for all she knew. Her family could all be heavily doped on memory charms with the amount of attention they gave her. It was not the most pleasant of places to be.
Her father was a salesman, in what, she couldn't answer. Her mother was a housewife, cooking and cleaning with joy that was either faked or implanted. Her sister…
Astoria Greengrass was probably the only realistic person besides herself, though even that was questionable. They went to the same school for most of the year, they even had bedrooms adjacent to each other, and yet they hardly ever spoke. Such was the family life Daphne had led for as long as she could remember. She supposed she was thankful that they neither knew, nor cared, about her occupation, but maybe if there were someone who would worry that she'd be killed in the line of duty, killed doing something she had never signed up for and had shed tears for her, maybe that would be nice too.
She shook her head slowly, rubbing her face wearily of the wet trails painting her cheekbones. Was it a hard life? No, not particularly. She had everything she could ever want; food on the table, clothes in abundance, money whenever she needed it. But the emotion just wasn't there, the love, the familial closeness that came with blood-related siblings and parents.
She snorted at her own naiveté. What would she know about love or a good family? She'd never had them, only her training and missions since she was a toddler.
All because of that stupid Golding. Why couldn't he just mind his own business and let her grow up normally? Like, like Harry did-
She shook her head violently this time. No, she hated him, she hated his life. She would never want to grow up like the stuck up punk he had become. Taking his power for granted, as if it was his God-given right to just appear on the scene with no prior knowledge and flaunt it around as if he had worked to get what he had. It infuriated her on a basic level so deep, she didn't even know where her anger started nor where it would end.
A discarded comb began to vibrate on the surface of her desk. She sniffed disdainfully before throwing up how many secrecy charms she could and then tapping the accessory with her wand.
"Agent 001, do you copy?" A harsh, guttural voice spoke from it. It wasn't his real voice, of course. Golding was too careful for that.
"You already know the answer to that Mr. Golding. Please don't waste my time, nor my intelligence," she replied rudely. This was the man who'd ruined her life. She'd never speak to him as if he were human if she had a choice.
"Still upset about that?" The voice rumbled. "Well, whatever. Dumbledore's making his move this year. I need you to be double vigilant while you're at Hogwart's. Is that understood?"
"Yes," she said, grudgingly.
"Good. I shouldn't have to emphasise just how important it is that Harry Potter does not die. The entire ICW is agreed on this. If you fail, I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to save this world from the Titans."
"They're not all bad," Daphne whispered.
"I know, at least, you're not. Yet. We've received word that there may be a Titan's council coming up. We may have to send you in if you receive an invitation."
The voice seemed to sigh for a moment before continuing.
"Look…Greengrass. I've told you a thousand times why we did what we did. It was either take you in, or leave you to the wolves. Not everyone has access to Dumbledore's blood wards."
Daphne looked at the floor. She knew he was right, she knew it deep down. But that didn't change the fact that her family wasn't really a family at all.
"Then why train me? Why not take whatever the hell you've put on my mum, dad and sister off?" she asked bitterly.
"You know we can't do that. It was either you grow up fast or you die. We make use of you too since we helped you out so much."
"Helped me?" She screamed. "You haven't helped me one bit! You're just using me!"
"Would you rather that, or the Titans coming after you and murdering your family? Wouldn't you rather them be alive than dead?"
"They're dead to me," she whispered.
"Anyway, this conversation is finished. Don't let me know you failed again."
And then the voice stopped. Daphne picked up the comb and examined it for a moment before throwing it as hard as she could at her bedroom wall. She collapsed onto her bed and stared at the ceiling, not really caring that she was crying again.
Did she really think that they'd be better off dead than the mockery of family life they had going? Surely it was enough that they were alive and well?
She drifted to sleep with that being her last thought, her tears left un-drying on her soft cheeks.
He was an absolutely insufferable, idiotic, moron. That was what she repeated as she sped down the hallway towards the Hall of Prophecies in the Department of Mysteries. All year he'd been taking the bait Umbridge had been throwing at him, his temper more apparent than ever before. And at the drop of a hat, he'd gone straight into a trap even though it was so blatantly set. How stupid could you get?
And now he was going to die, or someone around him. She knew the Order had mobilised; who the hell goes on his own to fight Tom-freaking-Riddle?
She was in a hurry and she was in no mood for formalities. With a flourishing wand, door was liberally thrown off their hinges and she ran, unhindered through the empty bowels of the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort had pulled some weird charm out of his butt to have the whole Ministry empty, but she needed to get to her objective and pull him the hell out before he killed himself.
Why was she always stuck doing the things she completely loathed?
With a tremendous bang, and a muffled scream, she tore into the Hall of Prophecies only to find the place in absolute disarray. Mist was hanging below the ceiling and glass was literally everywhere. Ten-to-one she knew who'd shot a grossly overpowered Reducto at the shelves. How much did he think one of those glass orbs was worth?
Sighing, she swept back to the entrance, stepping out only to see her target rapidly disappearing back towards the Atrium of the building, where she'd just come from. She'd had just about enough of this cat-an-mouse game and Spotty would so be getting a mouthful as soon as she caught up with him. It never crossed her mind that he might ask why she was following her around.
She crossed the hall at a quick gait, climbing stairs three at a time, her wand held firmly in her grip. She heard spell fire up ahead and someone shouted the Cruciatus Curse accompanied with a flash of light. She climbed higher and higher, wondering where the Order were, where Dumbledore was, and why she had been the only MSA agent dispatched when this was clearly a much larger operation that required greater numbers.
And finally, she stepped off into the Atrium once more, only to find Voldemort himself, staring down the length of his wand at the Boy-Who-Lived.
He can't die, damnit!
With a complex weave, a floating golden disk appeared between the two mortal enemies and Voldemort spun to face her, though his wand did not budge.
"Sorry Tom, can't have you killing Spotty over there. He's too important," she spat.
"You dare to point your wand at me, girl?" He returned.
She flipped her blonde tresses over her shoulder, eyeing the current Dark Lord warily.
"If you think I'm even remotely scared of you and your slit-eyed face, think again."
He sneered at her, as if mentally choosing the more difficult opponent and then swung his wand to bear on her.
Bad choice monkey-man. She mentally crowed.
He was blasted off his feet, for in his moment of indecision, he had forgotten about a very real, and dangerous enemy. Harry Potter was no-one to be trifled with, she knew that just as well as he knew her own strength. While Voldemort was left to scrape himself out of the three-metre gouge he'd been embedded into within the wall, she strode over to her classmate and glared down her nose at him.
"Do you have to make my life difficult for me Spotty?"
He rolled his eyes at her, though she could see some hidden grief within them. And all of a sudden, he looked far more weary than she had ever seen him before and a stirring of guilt and remorse rose in her chest.
It was squished quickly.
"What do you want, Greengrass?" He asked.
"I want you to stop messing everything up for me!" She retorted.
"And what have I got to do with you?"
"It's…complicated and you don't need to know anyway. For now, can you get back to Hogwart's…please?"
He was so startled that she'd actually said please that he missed the bone-breaker that Voldemort shot at him as he regained his footing. Daphne didn't, however, and batted the curse away as if it were a fly.
"How did you do that?" Harry asked.
"Shut up for a minute," she murmured, turning her attention back to the approaching Dark Lord.
"You are brave, girl, I give you that. But you are also foolish. You utilise your power as if you are the only one in this world with it," Voldemort began.
"It shall be your downfall. Yours and the boy's."
Harry was emotionally spent, and he couldn't bring himself to butt in on a fight he knew he would only get in the way. One-on-one, he could hold his own against either Daphne or Voldemort, but two-to-one?
He and Daphne had always been at each other's throats. It would be no wonder if they ended up killing each other mid-way through a duel if they were to fight together. So he sat it out, watched grimly as the only thing he could call a friend attacked and repelled a relentless assault of the darkest magic known to man. He knew she was on the back foot, rather than setting the pace, Daphne was only reacting to what was being thrown at her, yet Voldemort could not push his advantage any further, such was her prowess.
The atrium shook with the power thrown around the room. A dull gong echoed morbidly as the golden statues of Man, Elf and Centaur was struck with a blood-red bolt of light causing them to be reduced to nothing but gravel and dirt. He watched as Dumbledore arrived, splitting the two apart and expertly pushing her towards him and taking up the fight himself. And suddenly, Voldemort was gone and a burning white-hot lance of pain was racing through his scar as if someone had taken a seared knife and plunged it into his brain. In that moment, he was sure he would die, was already dying, until a slim, pale hand clutched his hair and pulled his head back roughly.
"Harry, you have to listen! Don't let him possess you!"
But it was too late, he knew that. He couldn't stop it, just like he couldn't will his heart to stop beating. It was almost as if his body were welcoming another part of himself come back.
Something damp hit him across the face, and he vaguely realised that her hand was sweating.
"Don't let him! You're stronger than that, you hear me Harry Potter? You've given as good as you've got whenever we've fought, you'd better not lose before I can kill you!"
He smiled. What a typically daft response. She wanted him to survive so that she could kill him later. Why-ever would he want that?
It seems, his magic did. With a mighty roar, a rippling wave of pure energy swept from his form, his whole body aglow and his hair standing on end as if he'd just been electrocuted. As suddenly as it had come, the pain was gone, and he felt himself collapsing only to be caught by the same hands that had just been striking him.
"Ms. Greengrass, take this portkey. Escaflowne is already there. I shall meet you in my office as soon as I have dealt with the Minister," Dumbledore said, his eyes fixed to approaching mass of bewildered Ministry employees, Cornelius Fudge at its head. She nodded, grasping both the proffered Galleon, and the deathly cold hand in her grip, the familiar sensation of a hook taking her navel swept them off their feet and the room dissolved.
They landed awkwardly, a mass of flying limbs. Daphne untangled herself quickly, stepping away and looking for the man she dreaded would be in the room. He was sitting regally, shining bowler hat matched with a pristinely ironed, white shirt and black-as-the-night jacket and bow-tie. His greying blond hair was only belied by the mutton-chop beard he had sprouting on either side of his chin, startlingly intelligent blue eyes peering over at her as if examining every minute atom within her body.
Escaflowne Golding, current head of the Magical Security Agency, and 17th member of the International Confederation of Wizards.
"Ah, Agent 001, please be seated. We must wait for Dumbledore."
As if he'd summoned the man, Dumbledore stepped into the room from his roaring fireplace, brushing his robes from the imaginary bits of ash that usually came with fire. It was a farce though, Floo powder dissolved the ash and heat before a user stepped in.
"Have a seat you two, Harry, Daphne," he echoed, gesturing to two, plush chairs in front of his desk.
She sat, wincing at the muscle aches from her physical exertion and she glanced to her right to see Harry collapsing into his chair, his ashen features fixed on the headmaster's face.
"First of all," Dumbledore said, scrubbing his face tiredly. "I wish to extend my condolences Harry. Sirius was a great man, and an even greater Godfather. I will not lie when I say I will miss him immensely."
Daphne started and glanced at the black-haired teen again, alarm rising within her. The boy had gone even paler, a stricken look overcoming his face. His Godfather had died and it was only now settling in.
"I have something I must tell you, a burden I never wished you would have to bear, but alas, in my old age, I neglected your right in order to secure my own peace of mind," and he proceeded to tell them all of the prophecy, the true reason for why Voldemort had killed James and Lily Potter and the reason he had been left with his despicable Muggle relatives. Some of it Daphne knew, most of it she didn't. Every further minute the headmaster spoke, the more shocked she became at how much he had held back from her classmate, and by the unflinching gaze of her own superior, how much had been hidden from her. When Dumbledore finished, Harry Potter looked absolutely livid. His face was purpling with rage, his fists clenched so tightly, she swore she could hear the bones cracking. Just as he opened his mouth to, no doubt, scream like a kicked puppy, Golding spoke up.
"There's one other thing actually. Now Daphne already knows, but I suspect you have not told the lad, have you Albus?"
The two old men exchanged a look and Golding continued, unflappable as always.
"I suspected that to be the case. You may have noticed, in the past five years, how your magic is substantially more powerful than those around you. You are not alone in your year group, as Ms. Greengrass here shares the same…abilities," he paused and peered at the boy expectantly before proceeding.
"You see lad, there are a certain group of…individuals who are born on a much higher standard of magical energy than the rest of us. The headmaster here, for instance, is one of those people, as is Tom Riddle. They can do things with magic that other cannot. They are called the Titans.
"This world is a dangerous and varied place, Mr. Potter. Strange creatures roam the lands, some seeking harmony, others destruction. But there is one undeniable proof we have come to learn in recent years; from each of our races, from each generation, there are one or two of these 'titans'."
He stood up, removing his bowler hat to reveal a fairly polished bowl of skin, bordered by similarly greying, blond hair, to which he took a hand and attempted to smooth futilely.
"At a young age, especially when the exhibitor begins to show signs of unusually powerful magic, a homing beacon is placed on his being for what we call the Council of Titans. In the late 14th Century, an assembly of like-minded individuals, beast and man alike, created this Council in order to track down and retrieve anyone or anything that could rival their power. It was a formidable task, and praise-worthy at its inception and yet with all great philosophies, it degenerated into what it has become today; each to his own agenda, many willing to seek and destroy these promising individuals before they become a threat to their own power.
"You and Daphne were very lucky. While you had blood wards erected over your home, an intriguing, ancient form of magic that very few were capable of let alone someone as unlikely as Lily Potter, but young Daphne here was taken in by my organisation and trained for her own protection."
Harry spoke up for the first time since he started, it seemed his anger had left him, and in its place, only a deflated balloon of teetering nerves and anxiety remained.
"And what-what organisation is this?"
"The MSA, Mr. Potter. The Magical Security Agency to which I am the current head. We mainly deal with external magical threats to the United Kingdom, but we were forced to overlook your case due to the threat the Titan's Council posed to your well-being, and by proxy, Daphne's as well."
"Then…then, she was only here to-protect me?" He asked incredulously.
"No, that's not quite how I would put it. Rather she was here to report on the trouble that would no doubt follow you around because of who and what you are. As I said, what interests us, are the threats to our country, not the petty problems of a teenaged boy."
Harry had not the energy to react to what he clearly perceived as an insult, but Escaflowne Golding ignored him.
"Since there is little point in continuing this observation, we shall be pulling my agent out of Hogwart's to where she can be better utilised," he said, pompously.
"I'm not so sure that is a wise course of action Esca," Dumbledore said.
"I never asked for your input headmaster. Each of us on the ICW have our own exploits, your school is no different. If you wish us not to interfere over here, don't try and interfere elsewhere."
Harry was beginning to dislike the man more and more as his true nature became apparent. He could now see why Daphne had turned out the way she had. Even Albus Dumbledore remained silent at that, his lips pressed into a thin line and a thunderous glint within his gaze. Yet he reined it in, and the two MSA agents stood to leave. Just as Golding was about to throw the Floo Powder held in his hand, Harry interrupted him.
"Golding, sir, are you a….are you a Titan too?" He asked quietly. The man rose an elegant eyebrow before glancing at the headmaster Harry had the feeling some ill will passed between them. He turned back to regard him before answering.
"Alas no, but there are others you must watch for," his eyes drilled a hole through him.
"Like Dracula for instance."
He turned and in a roar of flame he and Daphne were gone.
The stone gargoyle leapt aside as the wall split in two, revealing a spiralling staircase that began to move upwards as he stepped on it. A few moments later, he knocked on the ornate wooden door and was bid to enter. He twisted the door knob and step inside, the musty interior assaulting his senses with a vague sense of security as it always did.
The Headmaster sat behind his desk as always, hands steepled beneath his chin, a faraway gaze clouding his brilliant blue eyes. He looked up as Harry entered, a small smile flitting across his features at this sight of the boy, his hair sticking up randomly as it always did.
"Ah Harry, right on time as always. Good good," he said, unfolding his palms and gesturing to the plush chairs that always seemed to be arrayed in front of him. Harry declined the Lemon Drop bowl that was held out to him and preferred to stare listlessly at his Professor, waiting for what would inevitably be the start of another mentally intense lesson on the history of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
"I am afraid to say that we have exhausted my repository of memories Harry," Dumbledore spoke, glancing around the room languidly, like a sun-bathing serpent. "Alas, I have no further leads as to what he may be up to."
"What about Professor Slughorn, sir?"
Dumbledore sighed wearily.
"I don't know Harry. I was so sure that he had something more stored within his psyche, and yet he has given us the largest clue to Tom's seeming immortality. No, I think that drastic times require drastic measures."
"What do you mean, Professor?" Harry asked, genuinely confused at the sudden change of direction.
"I mean, Harry, that our current search has turned up little in the way of how we may act. We know that Voldemort made Horcruxes, the most likely number being seven, and yet we have no substantial evidence as to where or what they may be. As you know, my own search turned up dead early this summer."
Dumbledore stood from his seat and moved towards the small bookcase that seemed to be the only one actually used for its purpose. The rest were storing the strange contraptions that Dumbledore seemed to collect, whirring and sputtering all day long. He rummaged around within it before pulling a leather-bound tome from its depths with a muffled 'aha!'.
He reclaimed his seat, opening the book to a dog-eared page and pulling from within a folded map of some sort. He spread it across the table top and leaned over it, beckoning for Harry to do the same.
It was a map of the world, a very strange map of the world complete with glittering sapphire dots congregating in a seemingly random manner all over its expanse. Harry gazed at it in confusion, not sure what any of it meant.
"A simple device showing the highest concentration of magic across our world my boy. The brighter it shines, the far greater magical density attached to the place. Some countries have far more magic practitioners than other," he stated, pointing to Rome and Quebec. "And others house the most important magical buildings we have built over time," this time he pointed to Switzerland, which had become and almost totally cerulean blob under his finger.
"Switzerland, the home of the International Confederation of Wizards and coincidentally, the place where the Arubean Library is held. There is a history there that is timeless, but perhaps that is a story for another day."
Dumbledore traced his finger across the map causing red circles to suddenly dissolve into being in certain locations.
"And these are the places I have gleaned from those memories of where Tom spent any substantial amount of time during his travels through Europe after he left Hogwart's. The best course of action now, would be to retrace his steps and find out what he did and where he went. Perhaps that will lead us to what we are searching for."
Dumbledore folded the map once again and tucked it into his cloak. He regarded Harry carefully, his half-moon spectacles glinting mysteriously in the flickering torchlight.
"I must warn you Harry; what Escaflowne Golding said was nothing but the truth. The world is a dangerous place, and we are not alone with the power we share. There are Titans from almost all of the major sentient creatures that walk upon the leafy floors of the Earth. Golding mentioned Dracula, one of the most fearsome beings to still remain in our realm; a vampire with power to rival the best of us. There are also reports that Harold the first of Norway is still alive, a terrible werewolf who was once a gentle courtier but transformed into a vicious beast by the treachery of his own beloved wife.
"What I mean to say, Harry, is that we will be stepping into a world as old as time itself. We will meet people and creatures who would not hesitate to rip your heart out, pardon the pun, in a heartbeat, and we must be vigilant. I shall continue to teach as best I can, but remember that I too have responsibilities, and my presence in central and eastern Europe will not go unnoticed.
"I bid you go prepare for our journey at once, we shall leave by sundown today. Travel light, and travel fast my boy, we must not waste another minute."
And so saying, Harry nodded his consent, hurrying to the door and exiting with urgency in his step.
Dumbledore remained seated, fatigue overcoming him that one so young and unfortunate as Harry Potter would be dealt the same hand he had been. The life of a Titan, especially one who refused to give in to the darkness residing in his own heart, was not enviable. Dumbledore reached into his pocket and pulled out a sheaf of parchment that crinkled at his touch.
The Council of Titans summons you, Titan of aér Scotland. May our assembly once again be blessed with your presence.
TADA! Now this is just a concept, a plot bunny that has been assaulting my brain since reading a couple of stories in the HP section that hinted at something similar. I don't think anyone has quite taken it to the extent that this does and maybe someone will become motivated to continue such a plot line in future.
I'm not sure whether I shall continue this at all, it's just a test on my part, but let me know what you think anyway. If someone wants to copy the idea, or continue what I've started, just drop me a line eh?