Chapter 7: Inheritance and the Carriage Ride
"Are you bloody serious?" Draco gaped at Severus as the boy blinked in total shock. "Sev, I thought your father was a muggle, and your mother a pure blooded witch."
Severus sat down woodenly, despite sinking down a few inches on the fluffy cushions of the carriage. "I didn't know. Honestly, my mother wasn't the most informative of witches. For all I know, she could very well have had Riqis (Ree-keyz) Elf blood in her."
Gabriel (Harry) wasn't sure what to think. Back in his previous life some creatures were deemed as higher up in the food chain than wizards, like the Veelas, but there were many others that were not so lucky. Werewolves, Vampires, even the Centaurs were considered to be either feared or looked down upon. Though Gabriel never had those sorts of prejudices, having Lupin as a surrogate uncle for a time, and having a Veela married to Bill Weasley, etc, he wasn't sure how he felt at the moment.
Finally, Gabriel shook himself out of his own shocked state and settled for reaching over to rub Sev on the back. The idea of having a Riqis Elf as a soulmate would definitely something to get used to, but that was ok. Again, he lamented on the fact that he should have been more like Hermione in the Care of Magical Creatures classes. She probably would have already known the pros and cons to Riqis Elves like the back of her hand.
As Gabriel felt Severus whoosh out a deep, tense breath he had been holding, he came to the conclusion that he needed to be there for his soulmate, regardless of the various hurdles they would undoubtedly face in the upcoming years. "Don't take it so hard, Sev. I mean, being a Riqis Elf can't be that bad, right?"
Lucius snorted but then he nodded, "Gabriel is right, Sev. Being a Riqis Elf is nothing to be ashamed of. Let's face it, if one of our dorm mates decides to be the prankster, you could always deter their unsavory intentions from us by showing pearly white fangs and glowing red eyes."
"Lucius, stop being such a prat." Draco admonished before he ruffled Severus' hair and stated dryly, "Don't listen to him, he's just being a jealous twat. Plus, how do we know what you might look like? Not much is known about Riqis elves, besides the fact that they love the night and are very loyal to whom they hold dear."
Severus blinked a few times before he looked over at Gabriel, who now had flaming red hair sticking up all over the place. "There you see? All of us are odd, am I right?" Gabriel pointed to his hair. "If I can be a Metamorphmagus like my mother, and the Malfoy twins can be Veelas like their father, then you fit right in, don't you?"
"I guess so." Severus didn't sound convinced, so Gabriel thought for a moment and then said with a lisp, "If it makes you feel any better, I can be the one to scare anyone off with some fangs, even if we find out you will inherit that sort of trait."
Gabriel grinned, showing pearly white fangs, of which the Malfoy twins stared at him in shock. Lucius finally grumbled to Draco, "Too bad we don't have our fangs, scales, or wings yet."
"Sometimes I hate being just a Veela. It wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have thrall problems." Draco whinged before he brightened, "Hey, didn't the Professor state that we would have until this weekend to decide whether or not we wanted our inheritances now or at maturity?"
"That's rich, a Malfoy talking about being mature." Severus snorted, feeling a bit better.
The twins in turn stuck out their tongues at him. Out of the four boys, only Gabriel had decided to get that pesky creature inheritance out of the way and go with the flow. So, the potions professor had made him down a potion to speed up the process. Granted, there might be a few days where he wouldn't be able to control his abilities, but at least he wouldn't have to worry about it during his magical inheritance at the age of sixteen.
Wizards and Witches, with or without creature blood came into their magical inheritances at sixteen or seventeen, depending on how powerful their magical cores were. Since Gabriel already had experienced it once in his past life, he figured that it wouldn't be much different in this world. In truth, Gabriel knew that this thought process was making him a bit naïve but he had enough on his plate right now, than to worry about inheritances, especially magical ones.
In truth, Gabriel had been shocked to find out that Metamorphmagi were considered creatures, since they could shift into any form they so choose, including animals once they trained up on their abilities. They were also known as shifters because of this rare talent. Also, the more magic inside of the Metamorphmagus, the wider a range of animals or magical creatures they could morph into for a while. And though they were deemed not as dangerous as other darker creatures, they also had to register with the Ministry of Magic once they turned seventeen.
However, not much was known about Riqis Elves, like Draco pointed out. Gabriel had never even heard of one before now. Even the potions professor had been shocked at the fact that there was one now going to be attending Durmstrang. He had even commented that the last Riqis Elf to grace the footsteps of the school was Aegis Wyvernspire, one of the last remaining descendants of Aidan Wyvernspire, one of the creators of Durmstrang, and also the very first House-Maker.
"Cheer up, Sev." Gabriel said softly as the last person got on board their Carriage. As the large Komodo dragons started tugging the loaded Carriage up the steep sloping road, Gabriel added, "Besides, I think you would make an adorable-" At Severus' glower, Gabriel amended, "I mean fierce, definitely FIERCE, Riqis Elf."
"Gabriel, you have no idea what a Riqis Elf even looks like. Not that any of us do." Severus rumbled moodily before he sighed and rested his head back on the cushioned headrest of his seat. "I will have a bunch of research to do once we all get settled in."
Gabriel sighed and figured it would best not to argue at this point. The twins started coming up with creative names for one another to amuse themselves and Gabriel closed his eyes, enjoying the mindless banter. He was almost completely zonked out when Severus added softly, but fondly, "Besides, didn't I tell you flattery will get you nowhere?"
Gabriel grinned at that, relaxing even more.
Severus nudged Gabriel awake an hour later, figuring now would be a good time to start thinking on those questions Professor Baskrok had mentioned. The other boy yawned and rubbed his eyes tiredly, trying to ignore the fact that he honestly couldn't care less which house he might be put in, just as long as Severus was in it, and that there was a nice hot bath waiting for him. A soft bed would be splendid as well. As he looked at his companions, he figured they all looked about as tired as he felt.
"You know, Sev, now that I think about it, doesn't Durmstrang have a huge library?" Gabriel asked, taking a moment to look at their surroundings.
The large Komodo dragons were moving a bit faster now that the road had leveled off a bit. It was still cold out, though their seats were fluffy and warm. The air was crisp but not so much that it made one's nose hairs freeze. There were several trees atop the plateau, great pines that tried to reach the sky. There wasn't snow on the ground, though Gabriel had an inkling that that would change in a few days or so. With England and Scotland on a rare early season cold snap, the same system was bound to reach Norway if it panned out right. Even if that particular system didn't touch Durmstrang and its surrounding areas, more storms were likely to come as Fall started its descent.
Severus smiled a little, and answered him, "Yes, it's actually supposed to be one of the biggest wizarding school libraries in the world."
"Well, then, I am sure that we will find as much resources available as possible on Riqis Elves." Gabriel pointed out, and nodded to the twins, who were making silly faces at one another, rather than paying attention, "As well as Veelas and Metamorphmagi."
"Even if we do find out all there is to know about Veelas, the twins are probably mutations of some sort from the way they act." Severus wrinkled his nose.
"Don't think I didn't hear that, Sev." Lucius warned with a small scowl.
"Sev's just getting you back for being an utter snot earlier." Gabriel snorted.
Draco let out a laugh as Lucius scowled even more. "Liven up, Lucius! If you keep on being cross, then you'll give yourself wrinkles! Not that I care, everyone knows I am the cute twin."
In answer to that jab, Lucius calmly elbowed Draco in the side and then snickered when his twin mock cried out in agony. "Cute? How about bloody obnoxious." Severus muttered, and Gabriel had to laugh at that.
"Demented creatures, to be sure." Gabriel said with a small smile.
"Totally demented." Severus agreed.
"That's why you think we are brilliant." Lucius pointed out, wrapping an arm around his twin with a shit eating grin.
Severus rolled his eyes, "If you say so."
By the time they finally got to the castle, which turned out to look more like a huge fortress with thousands of hidden corridors to make Bram Stoker's Dracula envious, the boys were about ready to hop out of the carriage, just to get some feeling into their tired limbs. Large, black stone towers were ornamented with thick frosty red banners displaying Durmstrang Institute's Coat of Arms, a double-headed gold eagle sitting in front of a light green shield. Despite looking absolutely dark and terrifying, the castle itself was smaller in height than the Hogwarts castle.
Since it was still daylight, the boys and the rest of their new class mates of their group had no trouble finding where they needed to go. Gabriel still really didn't have a set idea of how he would answer the questions going to be asked during the sorting, but he did know one thing at least. He knew that Severus wanted to be in Wyvernspire, which studied the Dark Arts.
As everyone filed along the path through the front gates of Durmstrang, Gabriel took a long moment to decide on what to say. He did know that if Voldemort ever decided to pop up again, that he would need to know more about the dark arts anyways, so he figured he knew the answer to the first question. He would have to phrase it differently than just saying 'some psycho lunatic dark wizard is after my arse, so I need to learn how to defeat him before he kills everyone I care about', but that was essentially the answer to the first question. Oh yea, and the need to protect his soul mate so he won't die from the same stupid wizard's lust and greed. That was another thing. As for his greatest strength, that was a bit of a challenge to think about. He knew he was a strong wizard, but most days his luck was with him or friends were helping him, so what really was an actual strength that he had? Somehow he didn't think 'good at Quidditch' would work as a fine answer. Greatest weakness, that was a bit easier to define. Knowledge was his greatest weakness, and probably due to fifty percent his own fault for not being inclined to study, and fifty percent others not wanting to bother him while he was still a 'child'; though that last part was mainly an excuse to make him feel better.
No matter how he answered those questions, he knew for a fact that he had to pull his own head out of his arse and actually study for once in his life. And unlike in Hogwarts, where student questions usually weren't given the whole answer, and therefore made things more complicated, especially to a wizard that for the first eleven years of his life only thought he was an unfortunate skinny, bruised and neglected muggle boy, in Durmstrang the teachers seemed to be inclined on telling all of the truth, even if that truth was brutal.
Also, unlike Hogwarts, where students were required to change into their robes before the sorting ceremony, Durmstrang new students didn't get that pleasure until after the ceremony, when they found out their house. Though it was customary for Durmstrang students to wear a red set of robes, their outer robes usually took on the color of their house. These particular robes were spelled to not only withstand the harsh climate outdoors, but also against wear and tear, potion fumes, and some unfriendly spells. For Wyvernspire, outer robes were jet black with soft black fur lined edges. Argostar had navy blue outer robes lined with steel grey velvet edges. Blitemit had forest green outer robes lined with dark brown silk, and Caragonas in turn, had dark silver outer robes lined with ivory wool.
The boys took all this in as they lined up to be sorted. Gabriel spotted each house's Banner symbols, noting that each had their own type of animal mascot, much like Hogwarts. Wyvernspire had a large black winged serpent holding a bone ridged scythe, Argostar had a white wolf holding a crescent moon staff, Blitemit had a bronze colored ram holding a green arrow, and Caragonas had an ivory colored Thestral holding a grey orb.
The four houses were situated in long rows, in the main hall, though the staff table except for head of houses was set in a single row at the back of it. Each head of house was put at a small oval shaped table by themselves not far from their students, but far enough away that they could survey those pupils to deter mischief. Astonishingly enough, there were also guards of a sort stationed at each entrance to the hall.
It made Gabriel feel a bit safer, knowing that at least some schools had the brains to have more protection instilled instead of thinking that the castle itself would protect against all harm. Most of the older years were now sitting at their tables with the rest of their houses, happily chatting about this or that. And though Gabriel knew from his previous life that Durmstrang accepted girls as well as boys, he was still amazed to see how many were there. He had to stop himself from trying to see if Hermione was in the crowds of older years.
The main hall itself was lit by magical torches, though they were lit at a minimum, since it was still light out. It gave a soft glow to the hall, though from what Gabriel had heard from Severus, was that the torch light didn't get much better than that, and all students had to deal with using torches for only magical purposes, not much else. If they studied after dark, they did by either candle light or by the light of their own wands. Fireplaces or hearths usually were scarce in Durmstrang, so one of the first charms in their first day of class would probably how to do a warming one, Gabriel figured.
Gabriel took a look at the professors, noting that each one had an air of pride and dignity one would expect from being under a Headmaster as strict and almost violent in nature as Igor Kakaroff. The man himself looked less haggard than in Gabriel's previous life. In fact, the man looked pleasant enough, if not still stern and strict. As the man stood, the houses immediately ceased their chattering, and after a small silence, the Headmaster spoke.
"Welcome to the Durmstrang Institute. By now, you will have already have learned of our questions that will undoubtedly serve to put you into your houses. But be careful of your choices. Though we do not expect our students here to stay in one house for the rest of your academic careers, we do expect you not be careless in your thoughts and responses here today. Each house, no matter which you decide to go with, will not accept anything less than the best that you can be."
He then smiled a bit. "There will be no rule breaking of any kind. There are no second chances. There are mistakes yes, I agree that students learn from their mistakes. However, a student who steps over the line with as simple as the rules are, since there are… what… three? They will be sent packing, no matter what. These rules are very simple, yes, and that is why we do not accept the breaking of these. One, no student shall bully another, no matter if they are of creature blood, or just of wizard blood. Pranks are well and good, but there is a fair line between honest pranking and bullying. Second, no student shall sluff off on their studies. There is no excuse for lagging behind. If you are having trouble with a subject, talk to your professor. They are here to help guide you, but they can only help you, if you ask for it. Once your grades slip, no matter how good the excuse is, it will be not acceptable. Rule number three, respect each other. In the world there are too many schools that do not teach respect. How can one learn anything if they are not honest, loyal, and respectful? Even in pranking there is a certain level of respect used. Respect not only your elders, but of your fellow students, even the younger ones. One earns respect yes, but if you start out respecting others, soon you will be respected in your own right."
He then paused, making sure that each rule sunk into not only his new students, but also watching it settle back into his older students as they prepared themselves for their own studies and goals. After a moment, he said, "Let the sorting begin."
All four head of houses stood and made their way to the center of the room where the new students were lined up. Each one had a small bag, of which each student, once sorted, would get their outer robes from. Gabriel had a moment to look the wizards and witches over before the sorting actually started. The head of house for Wyvernspire looked wicked enough, having yellow feline eyes, but pitch black skin. He was dressed immaculately in his black teacher robes, and there was a thick gold choker ring around his neck with a fire red ruby in the center in the shape of a spider. There were two ivory horns on top of his head, and a black tail was sticking out from underneath his robes. He also had a black goatee on his chin, and his hair was also black, though the tips were spiked and colored red. Gabriel was caught staring and the head of house smiled a wicked full white fanged grin.
"Well, not that I am surprised, but really, an Incubus for a head of house?" Draco whispered quietly.
"You sure he's an Incubus? Where are his wings?" Severus hissed back.
"Sh… if he is an Incubus, he will hear you." Lucius admonished.
Gabriel yanked his gaze away from the rather saucy Professor and looked at the other head of houses.
The head of house for Argostar was a tall pale witch that had long silver hair and bright blue eyes. Also dressed in black teacher robes, the witch was not as tall as the other head of houses, but that did not make her look any less formidable. Though her face was ageless and kind, her blue eyes pierced through every future student carefully, as if seeing into their souls. The only jewelry she wore was a silver moon pendant necklace. If Gabriel hadn't already understood that this witch was the head of house for Argostar, he probably would have mistaken her for the head of house of Caragonas.
However, said head of house of Caragonas could have been a twin sister of the head of house for Argostar. She was taller than the other professor, but only by a few inches. Long, silver hair with a trace of platinum blonde in the tresses were coiled up in a perfectly immaculate bun with a thick black comb in the shape of a bat securing it atop her head. Her teaching robes matched the other head of houses' , and her skin tone and bright blue eyes matched that of the Argostar head of house.
Those two had to be sisters at least, if not twins. Gabriel mused to himself.
The final head of house was of Blitemit was a tall brawny olive skinned Gargoyle, his black wings carefully placed at his back to ensure security, even though the rest of his stance looked relaxed. Small pointed fangs rested against a thick lower lip as he surveyed the future students with almond colored eyes. The teaching robes he wore were strategically magically slit in the back for his wings, and he had several gold bangles gracing his wrists and ankles.
Bringing his attention back to the 'sorting' at hand, Gabriel watched with baited breath as another professor, one that looked thin, but not overly so, walked up to the front of the future students. It didn't take much to decipher that this professor was in fact a vampire. His pale skin was almost eerily translucent, and his face was too beautiful to be real. The red glowing eyes cemented the reasoning in Gabriel's mind.
With a soft huff, the professor pulled out a long scroll, and red off the first name.
As each student haltingly, nervously, or hesitantly answered their questions, they were sorted and allowed to go pick up their outer robes, get a pat on the back from their new head of house and was able to join their housemates. When it came to Gabriel's turn he honestly felt like bolting out the door and never coming back. Still, when Severus took his hand and gave it a small reassuring squeeze before letting it go, Gabriel found his resolve and answered truthfully.
"Gabriel Magnus Asher-Malfoy, what do you want to learn most at Durmstrang?" The vampire professor asked.
Gabriel answered and was surprised his voice did not shake, "I want to learn anything I can about the dark arts to make sure everyone I hold dear is protected."
The vampire narrowed his eyes thoughtfully at the wiser than usual first year. How curious that one so young would have so much determination within him. Still, it was not for him to question the boy further in this matter. He was not a head of house, and therefore that duty did not lie with him. Still, it would be good to keep an eye on the boy, just to stave off curiosity, if nothing else.
"What do you believe is your greatest strength?" The professor continued on to the second question.
"The ability to endure pain." Gabriel blinked. Why in the hell had he blurted that out? That totally hadn't been what he'd meant to say, so he added, "and the ability to prevail, even under the harshest circumstances."
The vampire's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. Very interesting. The boy was way more mature than most he'd come in contact with. Then again, from the rumors he had heard about the boy's abusive home life from Kakeroff, it made sense that the boy had seen and felt way too much hardship in his young life.
"What do you believe is your greatest weakness?" The professor voiced the last question, even more curious than before.
Gabriel forced himself not to say what he truly believed – that he was weak and couldn't keep his soulmate safe, or anyone safe for that matter. Instead he said somewhat truthfully, "I am so used to dealing with everything on my own. It's hard for me to ask for help when I truly need it the most. In truth, I really don't know how to ask for help."
The professor nodded and shrugged, "We all feel that way at times, Mr. Asher-Malfoy. I am sure that your head of house Professor Max Cambion of Wyvernspire will help you reach your goals. Study hard and you will prevail. Go and join your housemates."
Gabriel let out a sigh of relief, and after giving Severus a small reassuring smile, he headed over to his head of house to collect his outer robes. The Incubus flashed him a somewhat happy smile, though there was a bit of wickedness in the grin as he waggled his eyebrows at the boy, "Welcome to the dark world, newbie."
Gabriel snorted at the Incubus' attempt to unnerve him and shrugged, "No matter how dark it is, it's lighter than where I grew up."
"If you say so." Cambion winked at the boy before letting him grab his new outer robes.
Gabriel plonked his tired ass down a few spaces away from the older students, though they didn't seem to mind. They flashed him some curious glances and a few friendly, if not mischievous smiles before turning their attention back to the sorting.
When Lucius and Draco got sorted into Wyvernspire, Gabriel was relieved, though their answers to those questions hadn't been so loaded. The twins made sure to sit across him so that there was a spot next to Gabriel they could let Severus have.
"You sure Severus will be sorted here?" Gabriel asked Lucius, figuring now that the boy had relaxed after the sorting that it was ok to talk to him without the risk of being barked at.
The other boy narrowed his eyes at Gabriel for a second before he relented and sighed. "Yes, he'll be sorted here. If one thing that Severus is good at, is being very persuasive in what he wants."
When it was Severus' turn to be sorted, the boy pretty much said the same exact thing as Gabriel, although he made sure to carefully word everything differently. Gabriel nearly snorted up his mug of hot cider when Severus nearly dislodged him from the table in his haste to sit down.
"Honestly, you had to regurgitate everything Gabriel said?" Draco teased the other boy as Severus finally righted himself.
The other boy sneered at him and pointedly defended himself, "He stole my words. I don't know how he can read minds, but I swear Gabriel knew what I was going to say, so I had to improvise."
"And you did pretty well, though you give me too much credit. I honestly can't read minds." Gabriel shrugged, pouring the other boy a mug of hot cider. Apparently pumpkin juice wasn't really a thing at Durmstrang.
Still, hot cider was amazing, and he couldn't help but hum happily as he sipped the hot drink, letting it warm him from the inside out. He watched as Severus warmed his hands on the mug, a look of relieved bliss on his face. Gabriel rather liked the look on him.
Severus caught Gabriel's gaze and flushed a bit before muttering, "Could have fooled me."