Don't expect too much more of this :(

Thanks to AFC and goku90504 for the help.

"Up," said Harry.

The mat under him shuttered, a ripple rolling down its length, but didn't rise.

It was actually a tapestry taken from a wall nearby, but Harry chose to call it a mat anyway, since that was easier than trying to find a real mat.

Since he fully intended to put it back once he was finished with it, and he had no intention of carting a proper carpet from somewhere else when there were perfectly good ones already hanging around doing nothing important, he didn't see a problem with borrowing it for his experiments.

"Hmm. Up," he repeated forcefully, then he had to grab for the edges as it jerkily rose about two feet off the floor.

"Sweet," he laughed, once the panic passed.

All the time he spent reading about brooms before mutilating the old second-hand one to attach to Dudley's bike was really coming in handy, and Harry loved it when a single effort paid off more than once.

"Go," he ordered.

Obediently the enchanted tapestry began moving forward, picking up speed until it was travelling at a fast walk.

"Ha! Take that Gravity," said Harry, grinning as he flew down the long hallway he had selected for his first ride.

Brooms were cool and loads of fun, but the size of the mat meant it could be used to move around large loads, much like his garden wheelbarrow at the Dursleys, or hopefully, in place of it (eventually). It also gave him the option of lying down, which was always a bonus if a long trip was involved.

Plus, nobody told him he couldn't ride flying carpets around the castle, yet.

"Stop," he said, well please at having flown about two thirds of the hallway without incident – a very successful first test.

Predictably, the mat kept moving, and increased its speed.

"Oh, bollocks," said Harry. "Stop!"

The mat ignored him, of course, except to speed up more. Maybe he should have spent more time on the brakes of the bike after all.

With only a few metres of his flight path left, Harry threw himself off the mat, which promptly gave a sudden lurch of speed as his weight left it.

He tumbled to a halt and looked up just in time to see his former ride crash into the wall at the end of the hallway, crumpling and folding quickly and softly like the cloth it was.

"Curse you, Gravity," he swore quietly.

Picking up the tapestry, he used a sticking charm to hang it back up on the closest wall, which was not where it came from but was good enough. Harry watched the dizzy and battered inhabitants stagger off while swearing at him, and suddenly wondered if the reason Larry kept falling off the mat, even with sticking charms, had something to do with the high likelihood of crashing.


The worst part of Astronomy was having to stay up at night.

"Mr Potter, that is possibly the most damaged telescope I have ever seen. Are you sure you can view anything with it?" asked Professor Sinistra, who Harry privately referred to as Lefty.

"It works perfectly, Professor. Better than perfect in fact," he answered.

"But there are several holes along its length and it looks like it is bent in the middle," she said.

"Oh those. Yeah, I'll get around to patching them, one day," answered Harry. "They don't actually let any light in – they're more cosmetic than anything now that I sealed the inside with some charms."

"And the bend?"

"It's more of a dent really, and it doesn't make that much of a difference."

"Mr Potter, if you cannot afford a replacement telescope, the school-"

"No! I mean, thank you very much, but there really isn't any problem. Here, take a look for yourself," invited Harry, moving out of the way so that the teacher could use it.

Although doubtful, Professor Sinistra moved behind the scope and peered through. There was a moment before her eyes adjusted, and then her breath caught in her throat.

"My word, Mr Potter. What have you done? This is incredible."

The image was fantastic, much better than the small telescope should have been able to produce.

"Professor Flitwick help me with the charms a lot, but it has a sort of expanding charm on the big end to make the big lens-"

"The objective lens," interrupted the Professor, her eye still glued to the scope as she marvelled at the clarity and magnification.

"-yeah, that. Anyway, it basically makes it a lot bigger than it really is. It also has some charms on it to keep it perfectly clean and clear all the time, and there's some adjustable shrinking Runes a few sixth years helped me with on the tube to make it a lot longer on the inside than the outside. The little lens-"

"The eyepiece lens," she automatically corrected.

"-the eyepiece lens, has the same clean and clear charms plus a few others to flip the image and stuff like that, oh and I've also got a cushioning charm on that end, since the rubber bit is pretty worn out. The legs are a little bent because they've been transfigured to absorb vibration and movement, and I put weak sticking charms on the feet to help keep it in place."

"Well," said the Professor, reluctantly pulling away. "That is excellent work and your results make this old thing perform like a much larger and significantly more expensive scope. Why did you make these changes to such an old device to begin with, rather than the telescope you had last year?"

"It was all a bit experimental," explained Harry. "I didn't want to risk my good one, just in case something went wrong, so I used this second hand one I bought during the holidays."

Since it worked, he wasn't going to go to all the trouble of enchanting the better looking one now, but he figured it was best not to mention that to Lefty.

"Ah – that was probably very wise. I must say, even though it is not a standard school telescope, I cannot see any reason why you can't continue to use it. Well done, and five points to Hufflepuff, for an excellent understanding of how your telescopes work."

Smiling gratefully, Harry waited until the Professor walked away before utilising one of the features he knew would have gotten it banned.

"Point me Cygnus," whispered Harry.

Obediently the scope slowly swung around to aim directly towards the last object on the list he needed tonight. He had a good idea where to find it anyway, but this made things a lot easier, and faster, which meant he would be back in bed sooner.

Finally finished, he tried one more thing that had been bugging him ever since he got the seeking feature working.

"Point me Luna"

The scope moved, but instead of going where he expected, it once again pointed straight at one of Hogwarts many towers. It was always the same tower, when he tried it at night. During the day, it was apparently random.

"That's just so weird," he sighed, quite willing to have to find the moon on his own rather than try to figure out what was going wrong with the Point Me charm.

"Harry? What is this unholy contraption you've left sitting on the table?" asked the seventh year Hufflepuff assigned to help the lower years with their study if they needed it. It wasn't unusual for Potter to get help with anything and everything, but this new thing was strange, even for him.

It looked like a glass jar was trying to mate with a ceramic pot, using several knife blades, and it had a hand crank. There were items in Filch's notorious 'student discipline' collection that looked less threatening, and a great deal more understandable.

"Well you asked if I had anything else that might help with potions, right?" asked Harry. "This is meant to be a 'hand powered blender' and it is going to make your life a load easier when it comes to mashing up things like Flobberworms. Not to mention it's also awesome for making milkshakes and stuff, although you want to clean it out thoroughly before swapping from worms to ice-cream, if you know what I mean."

"Did you make it?" asked the prefect, eyeing the glass jar a bit warily.

Those knife blades looked sharp, and although the construction was not typically 'Potter' – that is to say, slapdash - there was a lot of spellotape holding it together. It looked like it may have exploded or ripped itself apart once or twice, or more.

"Yeah, sort of. Anyway, all you have to do is help me figure out how to use magic instead of hand cranking, and we are good to go!" smiled Harry.

It took them a good hour to get the details worked out, mostly because of a half a dozen or so other people trying to be helpful with suggestions and ideas, but eventually they had a functioning model. It immediately went to work churning out milkshakes from various ingredients purloined from the nearby castle kitchens by excited Muggleborns.

"Where do you get ideas for this kind of stuff from?" a fifth year asked Harry.

Harry hesitated, only recently having being made aware by Ron of a whole Ministry Department dedicated to making sure nobody 'mis-used' Muggle artefacts by enchanting them.

Trying to explain why there was a catalogue full of non-electrical devices to a modern Muggle was hard enough. Explaining it to a wizard would be an exercise in futility. Harry was just glad he had found the Lehman's Hardware guide his uncle had thrown out.

While Vernon thought the hand turned drills were a good laugh, Harry found some of the devices and tools in it inspiring. He had never heard of the Amish before, but he owed them one now.

"Er, it's a long story," deflected Harry to the fifth year. "Here, have another milkshake."

"Tell me again why I am going to an extra class," asked Harry, as Sue and Han dragged him towards the great hall.

Everybody was being a lot more accepting of him this year for some reason. Barely anybody bugged him about sleeping whenever he could, or about any of his slovenly ways, but the two girls were on a mission, and their insistence overrode Harry's resistance.

"It's not an extra class," explained Sue. "It's a duelling club. It'll be loads of fun."

"Hey, you know what else would be loads of fun? Sleeping. Sleeping is great fun. Let's go back to the dorm and I can show you," said Harry.

"Shush," said Han. "You sleep too much as it is."

"Don't worry, Harry," Sue added. "Nothing bad is going to happen. Professor Lockhart is just going to show us some basic duelling."

"It's not like anything can go wrong."

A cold shiver ran down Harry's spine that had nothing to do with the drafts in the castle.

"So being a Parsleytongue is bad then?" asked Harry.

They were back in the Hufflepuff common rooms after the disastrous duelling club, where Harry's sudden exposure as a Parselmouth became the hot topic of conversation in the castle.

"That's Parselmouth, unless you can talk to herbs, that is," said Han.


"No, that's the magical language of the postal system," said Han. "Parselmouth."

Sue giggled, but Harry didn't have a suitable come-back ready and so ignored them both.

"Whatever," he said dismissively. "And there is nobody out there who would pay me to translate for them or something?"

A career translating snake talk could be cool, so long as it paid well, which it should if the ability was as rare as everybody seemed to think it was. He could see that as an easy meal ticket for sure.

"No, Harry," said Ern. "It's the sign of a Dark Wizard. Slytherin himself was one and was called Serpent-tongue -"

"Not to his face, I bet," mumbled Harry.

"-but don't worry, Harry. Anybody who has ever met you couldn't think you Dark, mate."

"I just don't get why being able to talk to snakes is bad." he said.

"Because they are the symbol of evil," explained Ern.

"A snake? Evil? You have to be kidding me. I've only ever talked to two; one was a lazy bastard living a life of luxury in the zoo, and other thought Justin was a tree and wanted to climb him. How's that evil?"

"They just are," insisted J. "Even Muggles know that."

"Fine," said Harry, giving in.

Logic was never one of his strong points, and Wizard Logic defied most everybody anyway.

"So can I cast strange and powerful Parsleytongue magic then?" he asked. "Parsleymagic?"

"That's Parseltongue, and no. They're snakes. What makes you think there would be some sort of powerful magic in speaking Snake?"

"Well, it is a magical language…"

"No," said Sue. "Being able to speak it is magical. It's just a language, and doesn't give speakers any special powers any more than any other language. Otherwise we'd all be welcoming our Snake Overlords who'd rule over us with their super powerful snake spells."

"Well that's just silly," said Ern. "I mean they can't hold a wand, so of course they can't cast spells, can they?"

Half the room stopped to look at Ernie.

Wizard Logic indeed.

"Harry, you aren't using the House-elves as slave labour again, are you?" asked Hermione after Herbology one day.

Harry was pretty sure she had tried to ask him about it a few times during class, but he had refused to remove his earmuffs even after having successfully re-potted his baby Mandrake root without ever lifting it out of the soil, thus managing to basically ignore her, and everybody else, including the teacher.

He still wasn't sure why they were meant to go to all that trouble of pulling the ugly things out of their nice warm dirt beds in order to move them to a bigger pot when all they really had to do was cast the expanding charm on the existing pot and stuff more soil into it.

Of course, his charm still needed a lot more work. It left him with an odd shaped pot, but it did the job, even if it didn't get him the extra points Nev got for doing it right.

"No," he answered, deciding to ignore her inflammatory wording. "Why?"

"I overheard one of the professors mentioning that the elves seem to be missing some of their normal duties," she answered.

"And you automatically assumed it was because I was forcing them to do something for me?" said Harry, managing to sound rather put-out.

"Sorry," said Hermione bashfully.

"I should think so," said Harry. "You know I was only trying to help them out when they didn't have enough work on. Besides, I promised you I wasn't going make them do any 'income-generating' work anymore, and I gave them a share of the money I made. They didn't have a clue what to do with it mind you, so I had to make a few suggestions."

( Miles away, in a dingy little arcade, the proprietors were suddenly overwhelmed by an influx of customers; customers that didn't set off the door chimes and had appalling dress sense.

"Stupid modern fashion," grumbled one of the ancient 18 year olds manning the counter. "Looks like they raided a charity bin or a lost and found box for their kit."

"Yeah," agreed the second one. "And boy, are these kids ugly or what?"

"Harry Potter is being the greatest wizard ever!" exclaimed one elf excitedly as he shoved more of the coins Harry had given him into the machine.

Never ending quests collecting obscure artefacts from strange, impossible landscapes, and then using them to defeat evil things and rescue the princess or save the world - this was almost as good as work! )

"They are probably just taking some time off to do their own thing, or have found a really dirty room filled with hundreds of years worth of rubbish to clean up or something," said Harry.

"I guess so," said Hermione, not completely convinced.

One of the elves did mention Ron's sister was giving them a lot of extra work this year, although what she was doing with all that chicken blood and feathers he really didn't want to know, and he was not going to try to explain it to Hermione.

"So have you found out anything about Parsleytongue yet?" he asked.

Harry often found it easier to ask somebody to tell him what he needed to know rather than find it out himself, but Hermione made it so ridiculously easy he sometimes wondered if he was in real risk of losing the ability to research anything himself. In this case, he knew that he didn't even have to ask her to look, she would have automatically gone and done it.

"Yes," she answered, taking out a massive book from her enchanted bag.

He had given it to her as a present after once again feeling sick seeing the weight she used to carry around in her old non-magical one. It was a miracle the girl didn't have one arm that resembled a gorilla's heavy lifter.

"There is no mention of any such thing as Parselmagic," she said, opening up the book to one of several bookmarks in it.

The others probably indicated pages for him to read. Well, pages she probably vainly hoped he might read.

"Bugger. What about being able to speak to other animals? Can I talk to Dragons?"

"Dragon? Why would you think that?" she asked, looking rather surprised at the question.

"Wishful thinking? I mean, they're a kind of a snake, aren't they?"

"I wouldn't go saying that aloud around anybody - you'll get laughed at."

"Potter, where are your shoes?" asked the prefect on breakfast duty.

He was really only there to help the first years, but Potter's often blatant disregard for the House spirit was something they all paid attention to, if only for the laughs.

"I think something took them," said Harry. "My trunk keeps spewing everything out all over the place and today my shoes aren't in the pile."

"Nobody is going to believe your shoes have been stolen," said the prefect.

"Hey, it's not like I am the only one it's happening to," said Harry. "You go ask the Ravenclaw prefects about Moongirl, I mean Luna, I think that's her name – yeah Luna, anyway, you go ask them about Luna. Not only do her shoes go missing, but so do her books and clothes."

The prefect suspected Potter was up to something, but he knew his inner Hufflepuff would force him to investigate before reporting to Professor Sprout about Potter's latest 'quirk'.

And so did Harry.

"Harry. Hey, Harry. Come on, I know you aren't asleep. Everybody knows you can't sleep with a ghost in the same room. Harry! I want to hear you speak snake again. That was cool. I thought you were egging it on, at first, but when it looked like it was laughing I figured you were trying to stop it."

Slowly the messy black haired head rotated around 180 degrees to look at the person calling him.

"Mother of Morgana!" yelped Justin, seeing the expressionless face of Larry staring at him. "Er, sorry - I thought you were Harry."

The mannequin's head returned to the front of the class where professor Binns droned on, and Justin resolved to try to never disturb the freaky and quite unnatural looking thing ever again.

"How about other reptiles then? Like lizards? Can I speak to them?"

"Nope," said Hermione.


"I'm afraid not."


"Even if you could, would you want to?"

"Hmm. Well is there anything else I can talk to?"

"No. Wait - yes. Axolotls."



"Cool. Er, what the hell is an Axolotl?"

"It's sort of an amphibious cross between a lizard and a fish. A type of salamander that lives in water but can breathe air, I think. Here is a picture of a white one," she explained, holding open the large book and pointing to a colour drawing.

"Yuck. Damn that's ugly. Does it do anything special?" he asked hopefully.

"Nope," she said, smiling.

"Oh, this sucks!"

The second attempt at making a flying carpet went significantly better than the first.

"Incoming!" screamed Harry as his out of control ride shot through the corridors of the school.

Students of all ages yelped and leapt aside, allowing Harry to barrel past them.

In this case, 'better' mostly meant he was having more fun, not that the brakes were working or anything important like that, despite the extra weight included on this trial.

"Eeeeeeeep," screamed Sue, holding on tightly behind him.

And fun just needed to be shared with unsuspecting study partners, didn't it?

"So this Pensieve thing, it will let you watch another person's memory, like a movie?" asked Harry.

He still didn't think it was fair he got detention while Sue only got a warning, but then he knew he deserved it a lot more than she did - except at the end. No way should she have gotten away with that kind of swearing, no matter who her aunty was.

He should have taken Moongirl. She wouldn't have gotten angry. Catatonic maybe, but not angry.

"Oh it's much better than a picture theatre," explained Lockhart. "You actually get to move around inside the memory, viewing it from any angle you want. I've seen some pretty, er, interesting memories in one a good friend had, I can tell you!"

"Wicked," said Harry, bundling up the last of this week's letters as his detention came to a close.

"And you can use anybody's memories?" he asked.

"Yes, even a Muggle, but it takes a master Legilimencer to extract the memory intact."

"If I say, had somebody sit down and read a book, you could take lots of copies of the memory and sell them for people to watch over and over?"

"A charming idea, and one not without merit. Unfortunately, Pensieves are very rare and you would not have much of a market," said Lockhart, almost to himself. "Usually only the very rich have them, and they rather different memories they'd much prefer to view."

He paused for a moment, and appeared to be deep in thought.

"Bugger," said Harry.

"Of course, there are Prophecy Orbs," said Lockhart thoughtfully.

"The what now?" asked Harry.

"Wake up, Harry," said Sue, dropping a heavy pile of books onto the table next to where his head was resting on his arms. "The assignment report on the fifth Goblin rebellion won't write itself you know."

She refused to study with him alone anymore now, just in case he somehow again managed to convince her to take part in one of his experiments.

"Finn," said grunted Harry groggily, as he dropped his head back down.

"What do you mean you finished it?" asked Hermione, taking a seat directly across from him, her own stack of books far too high to be balancing without the liberal use of magic. "You hadn't even started it fifteen minutes ago."

Nobody bothered to ask how she could possibly have understood his mumbling. After all, she did spend more time with him than just about anybody, plus, her parents where dentists.

"Mout," said Harry, clumsily pushing a piece of parchment out from under his arm.

"Wore you out? In fifteen minutes? Let me see," she said, grabbing the page and holding it up to read.

"Well?" asked Sue when Hermione lowered the page, a mixed look of astonishment and disbelief on her face.

"It's just two words," she answered. "'We won'."

"Grruuffm," snored Harry happily.

"Okay, Hermione, what about being a Dark Lord? Since I can speak to snakes, maybe I can be a Dark Lord. I'd call myself Dark Lord Harry, or maybe Darry for short. Will I get access to special, wicked Dark powers or something if I do go over to the dark side?"


"How about an undead army of sycophants waiting for their master's call?"

"No, but I think making an army like that is part of a Dark Lord's job."

"Make them? Bugger that, but hang on, could the fear that I might just do that sort of thing make governments give me land and money to keep away?"

"Not unless you can actually threaten them with something, and you don't know how to raise an undead army, do you?"

"No, well, not yet. I don't suppose anybody is scared of an army of Axolotls?"

"Possibly people suffering from Scoliodentosaurophobia, but no."

"Damn. I'm just scared of the name. Well do I get automatic membership into a secret, sinister council who want to rule over everyone?"


"Hmm. How about something more mundane then, like a seat in the house of Lords, because I would be a Lord too?"

"That's the same as your last question."

"This still sucks."

Harry's second Halloween feast at Hogwarts was going splendidly.

The food was even more spectacular than the normal meals, the Great hall was decorated every bit as well as the previous year, and so far nobody had burst through the door to announce the presence of a monster in the dungeon.

Just then, the doors flew open and an out of breath seventh year burst into the room to yell excitedly about a monster being loose in the castle killing cats.

Harry sighed.

"Enemies of the heir beware," read Harry looking at the bloody writing on the wall.

It had been discovered a few weeks before, but Harry hadn't bothered to go out of his way to see it. He had in fact stubbornly refused to leave the feast on the night it was discovered until ordered back to his common rooms by the Headmaster.

Of course, he won five house points for not immediately running off to look at the scene of the crime, the way everybody else did, but that didn't take the sting of another ruined Halloween away.

Mr Filch had apparently wanted to clean the words off, but Professor Dumbledore insisted it stay in case it helped provide a clue somewhere further down the track.

Despite being there for weeks, People still stopped to read and gossip about it, and speculation about heir's identity was still rife too.

"It's not good form to be seen reviewing your handiwork, Potter," laughed Slick when he saw Harry reading the wall.

"Are you the heir?" asked another person Harry didn't know, or couldn't be bothered to remember more likely. "Is that why you can speak Parseltongue?"

"Don't be stupid," said an older Slytherin disgustedly. "The heir of Slytherin would never be in Hufflepuff."

"Hey!" objected one of J's mates. "He could be. It would be a hell of a lot sneakier than being in Slytherin."

Several people murmured apparent agreement.

"I could see him being a Ravenclaw, but not a 'Puff," said a different Slytherin Harry vaguely recognised from Quidditch. "He would more likely be a Gryfindork than a 'Puff. Slytherin would turn in his grave."

Before long, a full-blown argument was underway, with everybody trying to convince the others the heir was more likely to be in their house. Harry left before anybody tried to drag him further into the pointless debate.

The last thing he heard, as he walked away, was a fifth year 'Puff shout, "We can TOO murder in cold blood!"

"So, would the heir of Slytherin get special privileges or something?" asked Harry hopefully. "You, know, because he'd be like a founder of the school's last relative?"

"You would not be allowed to fly inside even if you were the heir of Slytherin, Mr Potter, which you are not," answered Professor Sprout, with a happy little smile.

"Oh come on! I so could be," protested Harry. "I speak Snake, you know?"

Her laughter did not bode well for his chances.

"Hey, Harry," called out a voice. "Got a moment?"

"What?" Harry said, turning around.

It was the Weasley twins, and they were wearing jumpers and beanies that had Snake patterns all over them.

"Just thought we'd say hello," said one.

"It's been ages since we talked to you," said the other.

Harry tried to reply, but all that came out was an angry sounding hiss.

"You do know he can't speak English when he is looking at a snake?" asked Han.

"Yes," agreed one twin, a huge smile on his face. "Yes we do."

Harry just hissed at them some more.

"Heya, Harry," said Ron. "Watchya up to?"

Harry grunted, not bothering to open his eyes.

Ron laughed.

"I thought so. Hey, did you know Malfoy is Slytherin's seeker? His dad bought a load of brooms to get him on the team. We reckon he's jealous of you getting on in your first year, even if it was only as a substitute."

Harry grunted again.

"Yeah, that's what I reckon. Hermione called him out on it and the git called her a mud-blood!"

Harry opened his eyes and sat up, which was a lot more reaction than Ron was expecting.

"I don't know if you know it, but that's one of the worst insults you can give someone," explained Ron quickly. "I got a bit upset and cursed the little bugger, not much mind you – just a slug belching hex, but it was really funny. So anyway, I got a detention for my trouble. Can you give me some pointers on what Lockhart makes you do?"

"Is Hermione, okay?" asked Harry.

"Er, yeah, I think. I mean I got him back for her," said Ron, starting to get a bit worried at the gleam in Harry's eyes.

"Yeah, well done. Anyway, Smiley? Don't worry about it. He'll likely just get you to read his fan mail – piece of cake."

Then Harry stood and walked off with a determined stride.

Behind him, Ron smiled.

"Hermione, Ron told me what happened with Draco," said Harry, sitting down next to where the girl was helping Nev with some of his homework.

Surprised at Harry's tone, Hermione took a moment to gather her thoughts.

"I'm okay," she said, surprisingly touched at his concern. "Thanks for coming to see me, but it was weeks ago and I am over it now."

"I know, but that's not good enough, so here," he said holding out a box. "I don't normally go for this sort of thing unless somebody really deserves it, like Greasy."

Completely caught off guard, Hermione was speechless, so instead of replying, she took the offered box and opened it up.

It was full of snitches.

"It really wasn't hard to find out when the Slytherin team was going to be using the pitch to practice," explained Harry. "All I had to do was ask Ceddy about the new Hufflepuff training schedule, which I've got no intention of showing up to anyway, and he went and on and on about how unfair it was for Slytherin to have booked the pitch at all the best times in order to train their new seeker. Slick doesn't seem to be doing too well, though, despite all the training."

Hermione started giggling and had to cover her mouth with a hand to keep it quiet.

"I don't get it," admitted Neville. "What's that got to do with the snitches?"

"He stole Draco's snitches," explained Hermione, forcing down the laughter long enough to explain. "Draco probably spends every practice searching for a snitch that isn't there because Harry captures it immediately after it is released."

Harry knew it didn't necessarily take a lot of effort to punish people, you just had to know the right place to strike. Luckily, the snitches still had a strange fascination for him and flocked to him whenever they could.

"No way is that twit going to catch a snitch while I am around," pronounced Harry with uncharacteristic determination.

"Merry Christmas, Harry. Thanks for the socks."

"Merry Christmas, and you're welcome."

"Merry Christmas, Harry. I love the socks - thanks."

"Yeah, Merry Christmas. Glad you liked them."

"Thanks for the socks, Harry. Have a Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas. You're welcome."

"Did you give everybody a pair of socks?" asked Sue after watching Harry accepting thanks all morning.

"I did give Hagrid a hurricane lantern I cleaned up and cast a permanent light spell on so he doesn't have to worry about it going out or stuff, but other than that, yeah, pretty much socks for everyone," laughed Harry. "It was certainly easier than trying to find individual presents."

Plus, getting 'To: you From: me' on the cards took no effort at all, thanks to the quill he had developed for Lockhart.

"Still," he said after acknowledging another thank you. "Next year I think I might give out fewer presents. This is too much like hard work!"

"Luna, did you cast a spell on Larry to make him watch Quidditch?" asked Harry.

"No," answered the seemingly ditsy girl. "I did teach him how to change his underpants though – they were getting a bit dirty."

"Cool, thanks – hang on, what?"

"Spiders, get your petrified spiders," yelled B1.

"Rock solid, guaranteed not to rot or bite," added B2.

"What this?" said Harry, stopping to examine the contents of the vendor trays hanging from around the Weasley twins' necks.

They were filled with spider statues of all shapes and sizes. Very realistic spider statues at that. The detail was nothing short of horribly fantastic.

"Spiders," said B1. "Incredibly life-like and perfect for putting in younger brother's beds, breakfasts, or other potentially devastating-to-the-psyche locations."

"Attach a chain to them and use as necklace," said B2 holding up a sparkling silver chain with a rather large and very ugly spider attached to the end.

"Encase in glass to make an attractive paper weight," said B1, lifting out an even larger specimen suspended inside a globe of clear glass that looked suspiciously like a witch's crystal ball.

"Jam a stick up its bum and poke people with 'em," said B2 swapping the necklace for a truly ugly spider-on-stick.

"A thousand and one uses, all for the low, low starting price of two knuts," they chorused together perfectly timed.

"You two are a pair of nuts," laughed Harry. "Where did you get them?"

"Been finding them all over the place," said B1, taking the money from a passing student and handing over a statue. "Only one here and one there, but all mostly near the windows for some reason."

They were doing quite a brisk trade.

"What, and you are just picking them up and selling them?" asked Harry. "Damn, that's a good plan - practically no work at all and all pure profit. Wish I had thought of it, although I bet if you asked the House-elves, they'd be able to collect them up for you."

( "Friese is feeling there is being more work at Hoggywarts, but Friese is only 33 levels from the Ultimate Challenge bonus level. Friese is sure the workies is still being there in a minutes."


"Hey, maybe you could leave cages of other stuff around to get petrified, like butterflies or frogs or something," suggested Harry. "They'd probably sell a bit better than these things."

B1 looked at B2 as B2 looked back, and then they both stepped forward to put a friendly arm around Harry's shoulders, gently guiding him down the hallway.

"Harry, could we interest you in a partnership?"

"Third time's the charm," thought Harry as he climbed aboard version three of his flying carpet.

This time he was using the mat from the bathroom in his dorm, since the occupants of the tapestries had learned from his previous endeavours and tended to go running and screaming whenever he got too close to them. They usually went running straight to a professor, too, damn dobbers.

Flit already had a long talk with Harry about the legalities of charming carpets to fly, as well as the spells he had devised for doing so, but Harry had pointed out he wasn't actually flying, just hovering, and he had yet to use an actual carpet.

The Professor was not moved.

Still, Harry felt he couldn't let little things like the law or house points get in the way of progress, so here he was again.

"Go," said Harry.

Immediately the mat jerked forward, but he was expecting that and made sure to hold on tight.

"Stop," he said, and the mat did, sliding to a halt in only a couple of feet.

"Wicked," he said excitedly.

And the mat obeyed as best it could.

"Mr Potter, your injuries are not anywhere significant enough to warrant an overnight stay in the infirmary, or any time out of your classes," said Flo, using her sternest voice despite the hint of a smile that kept curling the edge of her mouth. "Now be off with you."

"I bet you'd say different if it was Quidditch related," grumbled Harry, rubbing his behind that still felt sore despite the nurse's spell. "Stupid flying mat."

Privately, Madam Pomfrey wished all she had to deal with where bruised backsides and bumped heads, even if they were effectively self-inflicted.

"I must say, Harry, that little project of yours is getting you an awful lot of detentions, isn't it?" asked Smiley, as another detention drifted by.

"What, my hovering mat? Yeah, I suppose, but I'd likely end up getting them for something else anyway."

"You are a bit of a scamp, aren't you?" laughed Smiley. "Reminds me a lot of myself at your age."

"Right," said Harry, privately not able to imagine Smiley as being anything like him. He was more likely a stuck-up prig like Percy Weasley. "Anyway, how did you go finding out where we can get some Prophecy Orbs from?"

"Ah yes! Your read-out-loud book idea. Great news. The department of Mysteries gets them from several different companies both here and overseas. Apparently there is a huge market for them, so they are very cheap – only five sickles each!"

"Wow," said Harry. "I had no idea that many people made prophecies."

"Yes, supposedly so, but there is even better news. I have managed to buy a decent quantity for testing at a third of the current rate!"

"Really? Where did you get them?"

"From here, Hogwarts! Your very own Divination professor has a whole trunk full of them, completely unused for some reason, and she was willing to part with them at a much discounted rate."

"That's fantastic. So you'll be able to set up a decent selection to begin with then, and then use them to sell the idea to investors?"

"Yes, my boy, and you'll get three percent of the sales, just like I promised."

"Excellent," said Harry.

Some people might think Harry was being hopelessly taken advantage of, but he knew – three percent for doing absolutely nothing was much better than ten or even fifty percent for working on it.

Plus he would get his very own copy of every orb.

Too easy.

Despite having an idea of what was coming after Smiley kept dropping not so subtle hints all month, Harry was still caught out when he was eventually targeted.

"Oy, you! 'Arty Potter!" shouted a particularly grim-looking dwarf, elbowing people out of the way to get to Harry. "I've got a musical Valentine's day card for you. Come back here!"

Harry's Dudley-days were long behind him, but his instincts still served him well. In the blink of an eye, he was sprinting for the nearest corner, rapidly performing a by now familiar sequence of complex switching spells.

The dwarf rounded the corner in hot pursuit and grabbed a hold of his intended targeted only to reel back when it span around to face him.

"Blimming 'eck!" yelled the dwarf, falling onto his backside as he stumbled backwards.

Larry just stood there, perfectly still, blinking with unnatural regularity. Slowly the mannequin's mouth slipped open, getting wider and wider as if it was being force apart by something inside trying to get out, until it made a perfect 'O' shape.

"Sod this," said the dwarf scrambling to his feet. "'ere you go."

He threw the Valentine's day card at the floor in front of the creepy thing and bolted for the exit, tearing the fake cherub wings off his back as he ran.

Harry, several feet away and hidden under his cloak, breathed a sigh of relief.

"That was close."

Larry didn't say a thing.

Cedric and the rest of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team cornered Harry in the common room one day, and explained that they thought it was high time he paid his dues and took a turn at actually playing a game of Quidditch.

"It's important you show you really are a part of our team," said Apple.

"Once Cedric finishes seventh year, you'll be the seeker," added Ricky. "You should have at least one game before then."

"Bollocks," said Harry, his internal bullshit radar going off so loudly it was probably audible to other people. "Try again."

There was a lot of sideways glances before Cedric finally spoke up.

"Harry, we have no idea how you do it, but I've never caught the snitch as quick as you have," he admitted, looking slightly embarrassed. "None of us have ever seen anybody catch it that fast before."

Harry thought for a moment, since it was easier than waiting for them to get around to the point.

"You want to humiliate the other team by finishing really quickly?" he asked.

"No!" said Cedric, gaining a few startle glances from his teammates, who obviously felt at least a little bit felt differently. "Well, not really."

"What else then? Are you scared to be outside while this heir is running around or something?"

More sideways looks and embarrassed shuffling answered Harry. They were Hufflepuffs after all and not Gryffindors. Very few left the supposed safety of the common room for any reason other than classes and meals lately, and even then, it was usually in groups of four or more.

"Whatever," he said. "I suppose it can't be any worse than being forced to sing those bleeding songs from the stands."

"Good lad", said Cedric, patting Harry on the shoulder.

And so it was that Harry found himself nervously mounting his broom to take part in his very first Quidditch match.

No sooner did Spike let the Snitch go and blow the whistle, than Harry suddenly discovered the little golden ball's fascination with him had spread to at least one bludger.

"Blimey!" he cursed, ducking out of the way of the rogue Bludger for the third time.

He was flying like a maniac, trying to keep away from the barrelling ball of death, and very nearly crashed into the side of one of the stands. Flipping his broom vertically, he watched in muted horror as the bludger continued in a straight course towards the audience.

Panicked screams rose through the crowd as it realised what was happening, but then the bludger suddenly veered sideways and targeted an almost empty section containing only two occupants – a small redheaded girl, and boy with messy black hair and an unusual expression.

"Meep!' squealed the girl before ducking behind Larry.

Harry and the rest of crowd watched in morbid fascination as the bludger barrelled towards the apparently unaware Larry and the girl hiding behind him. As it reached them, there was a blur of movement, and then a loud 'crack' echoed out over the crowd, causing everybody to flinch.

When they looked again, Larry sat still facing forward, unmoved save for his arm fully extended out from his side, his hand clamped solidly over the crushed, weakly twitching bludger.

The nudging of the snitch against Harry's arm eventually got his attention and he reached out absently to grab it out of the air, thus ending one of the shortest and most unusual Quidditch games in Hogwarts History.

He was really going to have to have another talk with Moongirl very soon.