Title: Survival of the Fittest
Author: Marcielle's Musings
A/N: In a recent review by XxLockexX it was pointed out that I may not have explained things in Slytherin's book as well as I should have.
He/She said: There is a glaring inconsistency in this chapter (chapter 11) that I'm not sure you have realized. Hogwarts and its founders have been dead centuries before the discovery of the Americas. Unless Slytherin is, y'know, immortal, he could have never have know of the Aztecs (a civilization founded three centuries after his birth).
As for your comment about the inconsistency - While the muggles may not have 'discovered' the Americas until the late 14 hundreds I am going along the line that there were European wizards who went across with the early Norse colonisation of the Americas (Leif Eriksson, who landed in North America (Newfoundland, Canada) around the year 900 c.e. - 1000 c.e.). Also there were wizards and witches amongst the Native people of the Americas.
Through wizarding means of travel Slytherin could easily either have gone with these Norse travellers or known someone who had. I personally like the idea of he, himself, going and meeting the Native cultures of the Americas and learning some of their traditions after he left Hogwarts. At this time the Muggle Aztec culture would have been in its very early stages however I believe that the Wizarding side would have been more advanced and more established.
"You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago - the precise date is uncertain - by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution."
- Professor Binns
I loved Miranda Flairgold's A Second Chance at Life (the first in the trilogy) which inspired this mix of history and magic. If you haven't read this trilogy – GO DO IT! It is beyond amazing. The start is a little rough and slightly cliché but it gets SO much better.
I hope this answers any questions and inconsistencies you may have noticed. Message me if you have any more.
Previously In Survival of the Fittest:
"Very well, very well... cleared of all charges," growled Fudge.
Harry sat blank-faced in a strong mixture of shock and relief. He had been cleared of all charges!
"Congratulations, Harry" Lord Charles said with a grin and a slap on the back, "Couldn't have hoped for a better result, eh?"
"Yeah," Harry croaked as he choked down a sob of relief.
Seeing Harry struggling to maintain his composure, Charles shuffled forward and took hold of his client's shoulders. "Alright, it's been a long morning for everyone," Charles said with a nod to the rest of the legal team and Harry. "Abigail, if you could take Master Snarklaw back to Gringotts? And Henry, if you could accompany Mrs. Dursley back to her home?"
"Certainly," they both replied.
"Now, let's get you home to Baird," Charles said down to Harry with a smile.
Chapter 16: Home Again, Home Again
"Crap," Alexander cursed as they stepped though the Courtroom doors.
Harry and Lord Charles looked over at Alexander with confusion.
"What is it, Alex?" Harry asked.
"Dumbledore," Alexander answered with a nod over at a nearby shadowed alcove which Professor Dumbledore was emerging from.
Another witch and wizard walked down the hall to stand on either side of Dumbledore, blocking their exit. 'Crap' was an understatement. Harry just wanted to get home to Baird's place and take a nap... Was that too much to ask? He didn't want to have to deal with Dumbledore's incessant need to stick his big nose into every single bit of Harry's business.
"Alexander, get Harry back to Baird's. I'll deal with Dumbledore and his minions," Lord Charles whispered to both Harry and Alex.
"Got it. Come on Harry," said Alex as he grabbed Harry's wrist and began guiding him around Charles and past Dumbledore, the witch and the wizard who had moved to flank the headmaster on either side.
However, the wizard on Dumbledore's right moved to intercept them and prevent their exit but Lord Charles quickly sidestepped and prevented the tall wizard from reaching out and grabbing Harry's other arm.
"I must insist you move out of the way, Lord Charles," said Dumbledore in a congenial manner; his eyes twinkling away, "It is not safe for Harry to be out and about in such unpleasant times. I must insist that he comes with me and my associates to a safe house where he can be protected."
"I assure you, Harry will be perfectly safe with Alexander and I, Headmaster Dumbledore, and you need not worry about Harry's living arrangements," Lord Charles replied with a small smirk, "Harry's guardianship has been removed from those horrible abusive and neglectful Muggles that you placed him with and has been transferred to a much more suitable guardian,"
The two wizards and the witch's eyes widened.
"What? Abuse? What is he talking about?" the witch with bright bubblegum pink hair asked Dumbledore.
Dumbledore ignored the witch's question and instead continued speaking with Charles, "I had not heard of the Dursley's guardianship of Harry being removed... And surly you are mistaken, Lord Charles. Harry's relatives never abused him. I'm sure Harry has merely exaggerated his living conditions and his relative's dislike of the magical world. Dislike does not constitute abuse."
"No, but neglect and mistreatment does," Lord Charles growled back at Dumbledore, "Additionally, there was a reason you were not informed of Harry's change of guardianship. You are neither my client's guardian nor his magical guardian; only his headmaster. You are therefore not required to be informed of such a change. It does not matter anyway. Mr and Mrs. Dursley happily signed over their guardianship of my client when threatened with charges of abuse and Mrs. Dursley was happy to attend Harry's trial and act as a witness as long as they 'never had to see the freak or any of his kind ever again'. Now, does that sound like loving and caring relatives to you, Headmaster Dumbledore?"
Lord Charles didn't give Dumbledore a chance to respond, "I didn't think so. Now if you would kindly get out of our way, I must be returning Harry to his new guardian. I'm sure he's very concerned with how the hearing went. Good Day, Professor Dumbledore, Auror Kingsley, and Auror Tonks."
Lord Charles shot the three slight nods of the head, indicating his acknowledgement but nothing more, and guided Harry and Alexander past the three. They turned the corner, heading towards the elevators, when Harry bumped into someone.
"So sorry, I didn't see you there..." Harry said as he dusted himself off before he got a good look at the person who had bumped into.
It was Lucius Malfoy.
Lucius' cold gray eyes narrowed and fixed upon Harry's face, "Well, well, well... If it isn't Patronus Potter. I heard that your hearing was today."
Harry felt slightly out of breath. The last time he had seen those cold grey eyes they were peaking out through the slit's in a Death Eater's hood as Lucius and his fellow Death Eaters jeered while Voldemort tortured him in the graveyard where Tom Riddle Senior was buried and his son was resurrected.
He could not believe that Lucius Malfoy dared to look him in the eye, let alone come to the Ministry of Magic, when Harry had warned Fudge only a few weeks ago that Malfoy Sr. was a Death Eater. It just goes to show just how much gold the Malfoy Family had lined Fudge's pockets with but also how adamant Fudge was in disregarding every word that came out of Harry's mouth; warning or not.
Well, Harry was done warning people who wouldn't listen. They would just have to find out for themselves when they are stabbed in the back by the very Death Eaters Harry had warned them about in the first place.
"I was just speaking to the Minister, not a moment ago, and he told me about your lucky escape, Potter," Mr. Malfoy drawled, "Quite astonishing, the way you continue to wriggle out of tight spots... Very snakelike, in fact... Well I suppose we shouldn't be surprised what with you claiming to be the Slytherin heir..."
Harry smirked up at Lucius and then shrugged. "What can I sssay? It runsss in the family," Harry hissed in Lucius' face, causing the man to jump back, startled.
Harry grinned at Lucius' wide eyed stare, "Well, if that's all, Mr. Malfoy? We best get going. I apologise for running into you like that; very rude of me. Oh, and say hello to Tom for me would you?"
With that, Harry brushed past a rather star-struck looking Mr. Malfoy and continued down the hallway towards the elevators, Lord Charles and Alex following behind him.
When the elevator doors closed Lord Charles pulled out his wand and cast a privacy ward around the three of them before turning and giving Harry a rather narrow look, "You never told us you were on such friendly terms with Lucius Malfoy. And what was that you hissed in his face? Was that Parseltongue?"
"Yes it was," Harry replied, his face blank. They may be his lawyers and are therefore required by both magic itself and the law to hold his secrets in confidence, but he is still entitled to keep some secrets. And it wasn't as if him being a Parselmouth was much of a secret anyway... Harry had thought everyone would know, what with his gift being exposed in his second year at Hogwarts.
"And you never told me that my change of guardianship had been approved," Harry continued with a raised eyebrow over at Lord Charles at the elevator began to ascend.
"It was going to be a surprise for tonight," Alex said as he leaned back against the railing that ran around the edge of the elevators, "A sort of congratulations present from the four of us."
"Level eight: Atrium" the same, calm female voice unknowing interrupted as the chains that pulled the elevator rattled to a stop and the elevator doors slid open.
The Atrium was almost completely deserted. Eric the idiotic security man from earlier was hidden behind his Daily Prophet again. Lord Charles and Alex were just walking past the golden fountain when Harry remembered.
"Wait," Harry said, causing his companions to pause and turn to look back at him, "Does the money in the fountain really go to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries?"
"I believe so," answered Lord Charles.
"If it doesn't get pinched first," Alex scoffed under his breath.
"True," Lord Charles said with sad smile, "There aren't any thieving and anti-burglary charms placed on the fountain to prevent any witch or wizard from just reaching in and taking the money for themselves. If you would like to make a donation to St. Mungo's I would suggest you take the normal route. Donations are usually done through Gringotts. If you donate above a certain amount, I believe it's 50 Galleons this year, your family name goes on a plaque in St. Mungo's. I'm sure Geldreth would be happy to help you."
"Alright, I'll do that then."
"We're back!" Harry shouted as he stepped out of the fireplace, "Baird? Hmm... must be down in the shop."
Harry moved out of the way so Lord Charles and Alex could come through safely, and flopped down on the couch. He knew the action that would normally get him chastised by Baird, wouldn't rumple his robes thanks to the nifty charm put on his robes by... Oh, what was his name?... Daemarcus, that's it! The charm Daemarcus had used on his apprentice robes.
A piece of Harry's now long hair, fell from behind his ear and dangled down in front of his nose. Harry blew on the piece of hair absentmindedly as it tickled his nose.
Focusing on changing his hair back to the chestnut coloured spikes he had adopted for his disguise as Evan Thomas, Harry's scalp began to tingle and the piece of hair that had been hanging in front of his nose began to rapidly shrink and change into what he hoped were short, light brown spikes.
"Accio mirror," Harry said as he held his hand out in front of him and visualised the small hand-held mirror he had transfigured to help him with his morphs. Once, when he had been practicing and hadn't used a mirror he had ended up with rainbow streaked hair like the tails on those Muggle unicorn plushies. Baird had gotten a right old laugh out of that and from then on Harry had always used a mirror to check his morph.
The small mirror zoomed out of his bedroom and into his hand with a small 'thwack' and Harry checked that his hair had actually morphed the way he wanted it to this time. Sometimes he felt as if his magic just liked screwing with him sometimes. It always worked perfectly if he was in danger or worried about something but if he was relaxed his magic was much more likely to play up.
With a blink, Harry stared into his reflection's eyes and his emerald green eyes began morphing into Evan's soft blue before focusing on moving his scar.
Harry had tried numerous times to try and remove his infernal scar but it had never worked. In the end Baird had suggested just moving it slightly upwards so that it was on his scalp. He now had a lightning bolt part where the scar was and no one had noticed. It was brilliant not to have people stare at his stupid scar anymore.
Just as Harry sent the small handheld mirror zooming back to his room, the flames in the grate whooshed green and Lord Charles stepped out of the fireplace.
"Where's Baird?" Lord Charles asked as he stepped through the Floo, "I would have expected him to be here to at least congratulate you on your victory at the hearing."
When he finally glanced over at Harry, his eyes widened minutely at the change in appearance, "Well that was a quick change," he said as he gestured to Harry's head "I was only a few seconds behind you to give you time to clear the Floo."
"Thanks," Harry grinned up at Lord Charles, "I've been practicing. Still need a mirror to check the morphs worked properly though," Harry shrugged. "And Baird's probably still down in the shop. The wards will have notified him of our arrival, though. So he should be up soon," Harry replied as Alex stepped through the Floo, this time stepping completely over the hearth rug.
Harry smirked at Alex and looked between him and the hearth rug with a grin, "Learnt your lesson last time, did you? Not afraid of a poor little rug are you?"
With a laugh, Alex replied "Yes," he said with a fake solemnity, "I have learned my lesson. The furniture within this apartment has been charmed by Baird to kill intruders and for some reason the apartment sees me as an intruder. Last time I was here I swear my chair bit me!"
"Awww poor wittle Awex," Harry mocked the only slightly older man with an expression of over-exaggerated concern, "Did the big mean chair bite your little bottom?"
Lord Charles let out a booming laugh, "You two are as bad as Baird and I used to be!"
"Why thank you," Harry bowed with an exaggerated flourish from his lounged position on the couch.
This only caused more laughter from both of his companions.
"Here, both of you sit down and I'll fetch us some tea while we wait for Baird to be done down in the shop," said Harry as he got up from the couch and walked over to the kitchen / dining side of the living room.
With a flick of his wrist the teapot, teacups, and tea tray came floating out of the cupboard above and to the right of the stove, and floated gracefully down to the kitchen table where they arranged themselves neatly upon the tea tray.
"Wow," said Alex as he walked over to lean against the kitchen table and gestured to the tea set, "You must be bloody powerful. I mean we knew you could do wandless magic, what with you catching me when we first met, but this level of control is amazing. You're the heir of the houses of Gryffindor, Slytherin and Potter, a Parselmouth who is also a partial Metamorphmagus and who can do Wandless Magic. What other secrets have you got hidden up your sleeves?"
Harry only shrugged in reply. Sure he was grateful to the legal team for all of their help the past week with both the Hearing and having the Dursley's removed as his guardians, but he didn't like that they knew almost all of his secrets. He knew they were under both a client confidentiality oath and an unbreakable vow not to reveal any of his personal information but he had only known them for a little under a week. He liked them all well enough but he wasn't comfortable sharing even more information. What few secrets he had left would be held close to his chest.
When the water from the kettle was boiled, Harry used wandless magic to lift if from the stove and pour the boiling hot water into the teapot. He ignored the stares from both Lord Charles and Alex. It wasn't as if he wasn't used to people staring at him. They would either get used to him using wandless magic or they wouldn't.
"Ah," said Baird as he came to the top of the staircase and looked around the room, "Where are Henry and Abigail?"
"Abigail was taking Geldreth back to Gringotts and Henry was taking Mrs. Dursley back to Privet Drive," Lord Charles answered as he looked up at Baird from the couch.
"Well from the fact that Evan isn't moping himself into a puddle of teenage angst all over the floor, I'm assuming the hearing went well," Baird said to Lord Charles with a brief smirk over at Harry or was it Evan now? It got a bit confusing sometimes but he supposed that both were his names...
While in this morph he would be Evan and while looking like Harry Potter he would be Harry.
"Hey," Evan protested, "I do not mope!"
"Yes you do," the other three replied almost perfectly in sync.
Evan scowled and then pouted.
The room burst out in laughter.
In the end, Abigail ended up suggesting a nice muggle cafe down near the river, once she and Anderson returned from escorting Geldreth and Aunt Petunia from the Ministry. However, it wasn't until the celebratory lunch was over and Baird had apparated them both back to Diagon Alley that Baird sprung his surprise gift on him.
Baird had apparated Evan back to Diagon Alley from the alleyway a few blocks from the cafe where they had had lunch with the legal team but instead of going back inside Obscurus Books, Baird pulled out his wand and silently transfigured the muggle suit he had worn to the restaurant back into his customary dark blue robes and walked past the shop and into the alleyway next to it; Knockturn Alley.
Evan's eyes widened slightly before looking hesitantly between Baird's disappearing form and the front door of the shop before he too transfigured his suit jacket back into the emerald green apprenticeship robes he had worn to the hearing and quickly followed after Baird. He wasn't eager to have a repeat performance of his previous adventure into the infamous Alley. The hag that tried to sell him human fingernails last time he was here gave him the heebie-jeebies. Thankfully she was nowhere in sight this time.
"Why are we coming down here?" Evan whispered once he caught up to Baird.
"Two reasons," Baird replied without even glancing at Evan, "One; to get you a congratulations present and two; to pick up the book I ordered."
"You don't have to get me anything!" Evan exclaimed as they passed a shop called Zoe's Poisonous Candles which had a glowing display of brightly coloured candles glittering in the window and playfully ominous multi-coloured smoke that furled out from underneath the front door. "You already refused to let me pay for the legal team, agreed to let me become your apprentice and took over my guardianship from the Dursleys. You have already done so much for me. Really, you don't need to get me anything."
"Don't think I'm getting nothing out of our arrangement," Baird scoffed "I get to be the benefit of a competent apprentice who is willing to learn, is blessed with phenomenal magical gifts and talents and who powerful to boot. I also get a permanent slave for the summer holidays–
Evan barked out a laugh
"I mean shop assistant," Baird amended "and all I have to do is pay a few measly legal fees, and provide you with a room in my apartment and food. Additionally, this will not be some useless present. I plan on buying you something that will help you continue with your training for your apprenticeship while you are at Hogwarts."
"Oh," Evan mumbled as he silently followed behind Baird. He didn't know how to respond to that. When Baird worded it that way it seemed like they were both getting a lot out of this agreement. However, Evan couldn't help but feel like he was getting a lot more out of it than Baird. Perhaps Baird had other reasons for doing all this for him.
Evan looked over at Baird contemplatively as they strolled down the dimly lit alley. Most of the shops were closed what with it being late afternoon still. There was a reason that it was called Knockturn Alley after all.
Evan had been shocked when Baird had first told him about what Knockturn Alley was really like. To be honest it reminded Evan a lot of what a muggle Red-Light District was like. Most of the shops opened at night and catered to a... different sort of clientele than Diagon Alley. Unfortunately most darks arts shops had been forced to move down into Knockturn after the fall of Grindelwald when there was extreme prejudice and bigotry towards witches and wizards who studied what was classified by the Ministry of Magic as 'dark magic'.
Baird and Evan walked past a small pub called The Poisoned Apple where Evan could see the owner beginning to set out the chairs for the Twilight rush.
"Ah, here we are."
Evan looked up. Baird had led him to a small unassuming shop on the corner of one of the even smaller lanes that branched of Knockturn Alley. The windows were a gloomy frosted glass that would barely let in any light even if the deep purple curtains that covered them were drawn back. Not that it would have made much of a difference to a business in Knockturn Alley which only opened shop at dusk and closed at dawn. The small sign next to the door read 'Morpheus' nothing else. There was no indication as to what the small gloomy shop sold.
"And what is 'here' exactly?" Evan asked.
"You'll see soon enough," Baird replied before knocking on the front door of the shop. There was a rustle in the purple curtains that covered the shop-front windows and then the door was opened by a middle-aged blonde witch in deep purple robes with a gold trim.
"You're early," the witch huffed as she pulled the door further open and ushered them through. "I haven't even started opening up the shop."
Baird ignored the witch's scowl "I knew you would be awake and most likely in the shop tending to your 'beauties'"
The woman's scowl became even more pronounced, before she glanced over at Evan. "This your new apprentice, then?" the witch asked with a raised eyebrow over at Baird. "I thought you'd never get one. You've turned down every person who asked to date – even me."
"And are you not better off because of it? If I had taken you on as my apprentice, you never would have apprenticed under Morpheus and discovered your talent with magical creatures."
"True enough. Alright, come with me..."
"Evan," supplied Evan as the witch glanced over at him.
"Alright then, Evan. Follow me and I'll show you the beauty that Baird had me order for him from a trader in the Amazon," the witch said as Evan and Baird followed her behind the counter into a room lined with different size cages, tanks and what looked like portable eco-systems.
"She cost a pretty penny but she's damn worth it if you know how to handle her. You do know how to handle magical snakes don't you?" the witch continued.
Evan could only nod as he took in all the different kinds of magical creatures that lined the walls. Evan could only recognise a few of them but all of the creatures looked as if they had complete habitats magically encased in each tank or cage.
The witch smirked at Evan's silence, "Gorgeous isn't it? Much better than that hole – the Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley. Just stuff the animals in cages, in there. No respect for the creatures themselves or whatever environments they need. All the cages or tanks here are spelled to replicate the particular species natural habitat. The flora and water is also imported from the natural habitats of the creatures and the tanks are temperature regulated."
Evan nodded along with the witch's explanation. He could feel the magical wards around each of the tanks and cages as the group weaved their way through them. Eventually they stopped near the back of the room in front of a glass tank. The tank was a similar size to the one the boa constrictor Evan had seen at the zoo when he was ten. The sides of the tank were covered in a light mist but through the mist Evan could see bright green leaves and foliage.
"I know you nodded earlier," the witch said, "but I really do need to know if you know how to take care of magical snakes. I won't sell her to you if you don't, even if you may be Baird's apprentice."
"Evan is a parselmouth, Cassandra," Baird quipped. "Learning how to take care of magical snakes is going to be part of his apprenticeship. Although, I would appreciate you tutoring him in the temperature regulating wards and habitat imitation wards you use."
Cassandra's eyes widened and her head whipped over to stare at Evan before glancing back at Baird, "A parselmouth, you say? Hmmm, not many parselmouths in England. I can only think of four in the past 100 years. Parselmouths usually stay out of Europe. There's just too much prejudice against them due to Slytherin's reputation. Plus, the climate's not exactly ideal for snakes."
Before Evan could ask who the other parselmouths where, Baird spoke up, "Well Evan was apprenticed to a friend of mine over in the Republic of Chile who died recently."
"And you took over his apprenticeship? Just like that?!"
"I had already met Evan on a previous occasion and he was doing amazingly well in his apprenticeship to my friend and when I heard of his death I immediately asked Evan if he would like to continue his apprenticeship with me. He said yes. Evan's family already lived in Surrey so it has given him more opportunity to see them as well as complete his apprenticeship."
"And your previous master never trained you in Parselmagic? That's strange. The Republic of Chile is the perfect climate for a variety of magical serpents," Cassandra said. "Oh, well at least Baird will make sure you know what you need to. He's not one to conform to any type of prejudice."
Evan smiled, "Baird has been very good to me. He's a right git in the mornings but I've learnt a lot, living with him."
Cassandra laughed as Baird swatted at the back of Evan's head. Evan ducked under the playful swing and grinned, "What? It's true! Every morning at the crack of dawn, without fail, he's banging on my bedroom door telling me 'Get up and get studying! No lazing around for you this morning! Up! Now!'"
Cassandra continued to laugh and Baird gave a reluctant grin.
"You've got your hands full with this imp, Baird" Cassandra grinned. Pulling out her wand, Cassandra muttered a spell and the mist that covered the glass of the tank disappeared. "Now, Evan, let's see some parseltongue. Try and call the snake within this tank forward so we can see her."
"Ok," Evan stepped forward and eyed the tank. He couldn't see any snake but that didn't mean one wasn't there. The only problem; Harry had never spoken parseltongue without actually looking at a snake. Hopefully he wouldn't make a fool of himself.
"Hello? Um... the witch sssaysss that there is a sssnake in thisss tank." Evan said to the tank. He wasn't sure but he thought he had spoken in parseltongue.
"There isss a ssspeaker here?" a rather effeminate voice said from inside the tank.
Evan glanced at the tank but he still couldn't see the snake. It must be hidden amongst the foliage, "Yesss, I am a ssspeaker. My name isss Harry but I go by Evan while I look like thisss. Could you pleassse come forward ssso we can sssee you?"
"Cssertainly, Ssspeaker." The voice said before a rustling of the leaves in front of Harry's face could be seen. Then Evan gasped. In front of him was a serpent that resembled one mentioned in Salazar Slytherin's book; a feathered serpent.
Evan whipped his head around to look at Cassandra. "Is this a Quetzalcoatl?" Evan asked excitedly.
"I'm impressed you know the breed but considering where you did the first year of your apprenticeship it is not that surprising. This breed is quite a popular breed among Parselmouths in South America," Cassandra replied.
"She's beautiful," Evan whispered in awe as more of the feathered serpent was revealed. The female Quetzalcoatl looked similar to a banana snake in shape but was covered in a variety of different coloured green feathers.
"I thought Quetzalcoatl were a lot bigger though and had predominantly red, blue and gold coloured feathers not green." Evan said as he tore his gaze away from the tank to look at Cassandra.
"You would be right, Evan. However it is the male Quetzalcoatl who have the traditional red, blue and gold plumage while the females have a green plumage which, as you can tell, blends in with their natural habitat. Quetzalcoatl typically grow up to 60 feet in length this little girl is only a hatchling, hence her size. Six feet long is normal for a Quetzalcoatl hatchling of two days old. She will grow quite quickly, but for her first year she will remain six feet long before going through a rapid growth period where she will shed five times and grow to twenty feet long."
"Wow, ok. She only hatched two days ago?" Evan asked.
"Yes, I had her egg shipped to me a week ago from a Parselmouth acquaintance of mine when Baird placed the order. She hatched here two days ago," Cassandra said with a fond smile at the young serpent.
Evan turned back to the tank, "Hello young one, do you have a name?"
The young Quetzalcoatl focused on Evan, "What isss a name, Ssspeaker?"
"A name isss a word to dissscern onessself from othersss. For example, my name isss Harry Jamesss Potter but I go by Evan Thomasss while I have brown hair and blue eyesss." Evan explained as he pointed to his hair and eyes for clarification.
"I'm confusssed. What is a Hairy Jamsss Potter and an Ovan Tomasss? And what do you mean by your appearancsse changing?" the snake asked as her head tiled to the side.
Evan burst out laughing, "No, hatchling, my names are Harry James Potter and Evan Thomas. My outward appearancsse changesss just like your feathers change colour in different light. Like you, it helps me blend into my environment without drawing attention to myself."
"Ssspeaker isss sssmart. Ssspeaker is sssafe from preditorsss when he blendsss in essspecially because Ssspeaker isss ssso sssmall," the hatchling nodded looking proud of herself.
"Thank you," Evan said, taking the complement for what it was, "But I'm not that ssshort. I'm almossst normal height for sssomeone my age."
"You are sssmaller than me and I am only a hatchling."
"True," Evan hissed back before grinning back at Cassandra and Baird, "She's perfect."
Cassandra smiled, "I'm assuming you get along well?"
"I'm glad," Baird spoke up, "because she's going to be your companion for the rest of your life. Quetzalcoatl can live up to 350 years. Now, Cassandra, would it be alright for Evan to stay here this evening so you can teach him the charms and wards for the hatchling's tank and her dietary requirements?"
"Sure, but I also have a shop to run, Baird," Cassandra scowled at Baird.
"I don't want to be any trouble," Evan interjected.
"Oh, you're not," Cassandra waved. "We just might be interrupted a few times by customers. Depending on how long it takes you to learn the wards, charms and etcetera, you should probably be out of here by eleven."
"Ok then, I'll leave the imp in your very capable hands, Cassandra." Baird said as he turned and began to walk towards the front of the store room. "Oh, and don't forget to feed him!"
With that Baird was gone, walking through the door into the main part of the shop. The sound of a tinkling bell signalled his exit from the shop.
"I think I'm lucky,"
Evan looked over at Cassandra inquiringly.
"If Baird had taken me on as his apprentice I probably would have murdered the old bat in his sleep. He's worse than Ollivander and that's saying something." Cassandra smirked.
"I think they might be related," Evan chuckled.
"You're probably right," Cassandra wirily considered with a smirk. "Ok, enough chatter. Let's see how fast you learn new spells and such."
The evening went reasonably well. Cassandra was almost impossible to please when it came to the temperature regulating charms and habitat wards. If he didn't cast them absolutely perfect she would make him remove the charm and try again. At least by the end of the evening Evan was perfect at them. Cassandra expected nothing less.
They had been interrupted a few times by customers entering the shop to purchase supplies for their pets and familiars but when seven had finally rolled around, Cassandra had closed up the shop temporarily so they could go out for dinner.
They ended up eating at the pub Evan had seen on the way down to Cassandra's shop, The Poisoned Apple which made Evan laugh at the reference to the Muggle fairy tale.
Cassandra had asked during dinner what had caused Evan to laugh so he had told her which resulted in Evan learning that Snow White wasn't just a Muggle tale, it was a wizarding tale as well. Snow White was actually a half fey witch born into a light family and when her father had remarried after Snow White's mother died, he married a dark witch. From there the traditional story that Harry knew was much the same except for the fact that it was Goblins that Snow White found not dwarfs.
Once their meal was finished, Evan and Cassandra headed back to her shop where Evan practiced the charms until Cassandra was finally satisfied.
"I'm impressed," Cassandra said once Evan finally mastered the environment ward.
"Thanks," Evan replied as he gave a sweaty grin. The environment ward he had created in a circle around him mimicked the environment that Quetzalcoatl favoured. It was hot sticky and humid inside the ward which was making Evan sweat like crazy.
Dispelling the ward, Evan cast Scorgify on himself and grinned at Cassandra. He was really pleased that he had managed to get the charms down.
"I can see why Baird took you on as his apprentice. It took me months to finally get those charms down while I was apprenticed to Morpheus and it only took you a few hours of hard study," Cassandra said as she passed Evan a bag she had prepared earlier with all the supplies he would need for taking care of his new familiar.
Evan was gob-smacked. He thought he was taking too long learning the charms. If it had taken Cassandra, who was a brilliant witch, months to learn those charms why did Baird say that he could learn them in one evening?!
"I was joking when I said you would be done by eleven," Cassandra admitted at the star-struck look on Evan's face, "but it looks like Baird knows you better than you think he does."
Evan nodded bemusedly.
"You could probably take the hatchling now. All the supplies you will need are in the bag," Cassandra continued with a gesture to the bag she had passed Evan as they walked down the aisles of cages and tanks in Morpheus' back room until they stopped in front of the tank which currently contained Evan's baby Quetzalcoatl.
Evan stepped forward and cast the spells which unsealed the glass on one side of the tank and dispel the environment sustaining wards.
"Ssspeaker?" Evan heard once the glass tank was opened.
"Hello again darling. Would you like to come live with me and be my companion?" Evan asked as the hatchling's head peaked out of the leaves nearest Evan's face.
A light pink tongue flicked out of the Quetzalcoatl's mouth and tested the air. She was scenting Evan.
"Yesss, I think I would like that. Will there be birdiesss, reptilesss and mousssiesss for me to sssnack on?" the baby Quetzalcoatl asked with an adorable tilt of her head.
Evan laughed, "Yesss, my darling. However, there will be a sssnowy owl named Hedwig who will join usss sssometime in the future. You are not allowed to eat her."
"I will not if that isss what you asssk, Ssspeaker,"
"What have I sssaid about calling me Harry or Evan?" Evan replied.
"I will not call you Hairy even if that isss what you are. I will call you Evan if that isss what you wisssh." The hatchling responded as she climbed up the arm Evan had lifted up for her until she was resting comfortably on Evan's shoulders like a living green feather boa.
Exactly like a living green feather boa, Evan thought with a grin.
"Evan is fine with me. Now it is you who need a name, my darling. How does Cihuacoatl sound?"
The hatchling's tongue flicked out again as if she was tasting the name, "Cihuacoatl? I like it what does it mean?"
Evan smiled and scratched her gently under her jaw, "I thought you would like it. I read it in a book written by Sssalazar Ssslytherin called 'A History of Parssseltongue'. It means 'sssnake woman'. Cihuacoatl was an Aztec goddesss of motherhood and fertility who, with the help of Quetzalcoatl, the sun god, created the human race by grinding up the bonesss of the previousss agesss in her coilsss."
"Ooo, I like it even more now. You are a good companion to name me after a goddesss. I will keep it." The newly named Cihuacoatl hissed in pleasure.
"I'm glad you like it. A magical ssserpent asss beautiful ass you should have a name jussst asss fitting. Cihuacoatl sssuitsss you, my dear." Evan hissed back.
Evan, with Cihuacoatl wrapped gently around his shoulders and neck, turned to face Cassandra.
"You two look wonderful together," Cassandra commented "If you had green eyes you would look even more fetching against her feathers, Evan. Did you decide on a name?"
"Yeah, Cihuacoatl, after the Aztec goddess" Evan said while inwardly smirking at the irony of that statement - He does have green eyes.
Cihuacoatl's tongue flicked against Evan's cheek, "What isss ssso amusssing, Evan?"
"Cassssandra, the woman in front of usss, sssaid that we look wonderful together and that if I had green eyesss like your feathersss we would look even more ssstunning. What I found amusssing is that I do have green eyesss that match your feathersss, coincidently." Evan hissed quickly to his companion as Cassandra watched on with a smile.
Cihuacoatl's head moved from her place against his neck to hover in front of his face.
"What are you doing, Cihuacoatl?" Evan asked bemusedly.
"You lied. Your eyesss do not match my feathersss. Why did you lie?" Cihuacoatl hissed agitatedly in his face.
Evan smiled and gently bumped his nose against Cihuacoatl's "I did not lie, my sweet. I do have green eyesss that match your feathersss. They are jussst hidden at the moment ssso that I do not draw attention to myssself. Do you remember what I sssaid about camouflage and blending in?"
"Yesss... You are blending in now?" Cihuacoatl asked, "Why? Do you not trussst the woman? Ssshould I crusssh her in my coilsss? Isss she a danger to usss?"
"Husssh, Cihuacoatl," Evan placated, "Ssshe is not a danger to usss. I jussst do not wisssh to alert her to who I truly am. It is like how you will remain hidden while hunting until it is time to ssstrike."
"Ssso ssshe isss pray?"
Evan laughed, "No, I sssimply do not wisssh to alert her to what I really look like."
"Alright," Cihuacoatl acquiesced, "but you will have to ssshow me your true eyess when we reach your nessst."
"Asss you wisssh," Evan readily agreed before finally speaking to Cassandra who had watched the conversation with avid interest. Evan could tell she enjoyed watching them converse. It was obvious, as well, that Cassandra wished she too had the ability to speak parseltongue. Then she would be able to speak to her other serpents. "Thank you for all of your help this evening."
"You are quite welcome. I was happy to be able to teach you something. You are a good student. You learn quickly and take criticism well. I think you will do really well as Baird's apprentice."
"Thank you," Evan replied to the compliments with a traditional student to mentor bow, "I would be honored to learn more from you another time if you are willing to teach me. There is still much I still have to learn about Magical and Non-Magical Creatures for my apprenticeship to Baird."
Cassandra gave a short bow in acknowledgement before looking Evan in the eye, "As I said, you're a good student. If Baird says it's ok, I am happy to teach you all I know about Magical and Non-Magical Creatures."
"Really?" Evan asked. He was shocked that Cassandra would be willing to teach him for nothing. She wasn't getting paid to teach him all of those spells, charms and wards this evening either... But to be willing to do it again... "If you really mean that, I will see if it is possible to teach you some parseltongue, in exchange. It should make conversing with the serpents you have in here much easier."
Cassandra gaped at him, "You think it's possible for parseltongue to be taught?"
"Why not," Evan shrugged, "It's really just another language. You wouldn't have instinctive knowledge of it like a parselmouth does but I'm sure it can be taught. You would just have to learn the differences between words."
"If you truly think it can be taught and Baird agrees then I will be happy to teach you," Cassandra grinned.
"I'll ask him tonight then," Evan grinned back before opening the front door of the shop, "It was nice meeting you, Cassandra, no matter what Baird decides."
"Off with you, imp," Cassandra smirked as Evan walked out the door, "And you best take good care of Cihuacoatl, you hear me!"
"I will," Evan shouted back with a wave before heading back down Knockturn Alley.
Today had been a good day.
A/N: I hope you all liked that chapter!
Evan/Harry had had a very busy day what with waking up early to go to his hearing, having to face down Fudge, Umbridge, Dumbledore and Lucius. But he also had his guardianship removed from the Dursleys and moved to Baird, had lunch with the legal team and then went down to Knockturn Alley with Baird and met Cassandra and Cihuacoatl!
All in one day. Evan/Harry must be very tired. I would be.
I have some big plans for Evan coming up. I would love to hear what you all think of this newest chapter.