It's been a long time!?
I didn't forgotten this story but well... When I began translating it from french, I began to change the story and then, I had to change the french version too. It was plainly boring and mostly frustrating. You have no idea how I long for this transition to be finished! Then, now that it's done, I had to take into account some things that people told me so I had to review the previous chapters... I'm done with the first chapter now, and I will be doing the others bit by bit. I hope the last part of this transition will be done quickly but I won't make any promises. Just know that I will never abandon this story.
Never did, never will!
Thank you all that did leave me a review, it was really ink for my quill.
Now, I'll let you enjoy this chapter.
Disclaimer: Not mine, not at all... But I am the one who's playing with them here.
We're in Griffindor ! Me and Georges. Of course, all of our family has gone there but still, I feared somewhat that I would be separated from my twin brother. We've never been apart before and I don't think I could have stood to be. And then, we have a lot of projects we've been planning – for ages! – on doing too. We have only one true motive: being known as the Hogwarts Greatest Pranksters Ever. Studies? Well, not on our top list. Mum had already promised us a good spanking with her wooden spoon if we get into trouble but it had never stopped us before and certainly won't stop us now that we're far away from her motherly wrath for most of the time! Percy has promised her to keep an eye on us, the bloody wanker, but me and Georges have the means to make his life hell. I can even say, without exaggerating, that it's one of our main goals in life. I do prefer Charlie. He, at least, understands us. He's a bit like Bill but funnier and that's saying something.
Oye! It's Georges who had elbowed me to get my attention which, logically, should be put upon my plate filled with delicious grilled chicken and tasty potatoes. Instead, he nudges me, not so subtly, to look at the teachers' table.
"See?" he whispers to me.
See what? I try to catch up with what he had seen but to no avail. We're gonna see the teachers often enough to not have to watch them during meal time, aren't we?
"He's speaking about Professor Snape's son, the man in dark robes", Charlie graciously explains.
"You didn't say Snape had a son before", I accuse him, frowning.
"That's because he adopted him this past summer", Charlie kindly enlightens me.
"You would have known if only you had paid attention to professor Dumbledore's speech as you should have", Percy lectures.
As the immature beings that we proudly are, me and Georges just look each other for a second before pulling our tongues to Percy who turns away, annoyed. We blow up laughing under Charlie's indulgent gaze. As our big brother bears Georges harassing him about the possibility for first years to get into the Quidditch team, I, for one, decide to see what Snape's son looks like. Finally, I spot him beside the man – professor Snape I guess – clothed all in black and with acidic eyes. He's so small and pale that one can barely see his head above the table. He doesn't look at anyone nor does he eat what's in his plate. There's not much inside it anyway and it doesn't look good, steamed stuff and all. His face is blank as if someone had erased all expression on it. It looks weird. Suddenly, I feel the hair on my arms rise as my eyes meet the dark and cold ones of Snape and I hurriedly look away. Charlie was right when he said that the potions professor wasn't one to be crossed. Even Percy said so and that's saying something from the teacher's pet. Still, I'm curious, it's one of my biggest qualities as it is and I get back looking.
Snape is saying something to him but the boy just keep staring silently at him. The professor sighs and gives him a vial of potions. He swallows it all at once. That is just plain cruel in my books. Potions always taste disgusting like old socks at best or prehistoric rotten vomit at worse. But it looks like it works as the boy is eating now. But he does so with manners as his elbows are under the table and he's sitting very straight on his chair. He eats slowly and properly, not like Ronniekin who tries to stuff as much food as possible in his mouth. With Georges, we still hadn't found how he does it without suffocating. And Merlin knows how much we had tried… He really looks delicate and small, the son of Snape. Suddenly, two very green and very intense eyes met mine before turning away. One thing I know is that he doesn't have the same eyes as Snape. I get back to my plate before asking Charlie:
"Hey, what's he gonna do, you know, the son of Snape, during classes? Is he gonna go with us?"
"No, he's only nine", Charlie explains to me. "Honorine, who's a prefect for Griffindor this year, told me that all of the prefects have been informed that one classroom, beside the potions' one in the dungeons, has been reserved for him and his tutor. And his name is Evan."
I like this name.
"Today, I would like to compare the differences in the use of runic/arithmantic systems with wanded spells", Strakowski explained in his usual stern and harsh tone, requiring the absolute attention of his student.
Fortunately, the main concerned didn't have any issue with that.
"Firstly, the magic used isn't the same. We don't know exactly which source of magic is used with runes and arithmancy, this is part of the Lost Arts that had been forgotten during the Dark Ages, between roughly 1000 BC and almost 1800 BC with the establishment of the Statute of Secrecy in 1792 because of the invention of the muggle repelling charms. Now, we are in a time where we are rediscovering these arts but there is so much knowledge that had been destroyed that we have to admit our great ignorance as of today. Our guess is that runes have magic on their own either due to their original creation or because of some rituals that we don't know anything about. Others think that they get their magic from our environment but no one has absolute certainty about it. As for the arithmancy, we just inherited the basics and synthetic meaning of numbers and all the rules we presently use are the results of a hard and meticulous work from many arithmancy guilds and societies in the two last centuries, when our people was finally left in peace."
The boy was taking neat notes on both of his notebooks. Strakowski could only guess that he would make research upon the Dark Ages later. He rather liked how the child was so curious and autonomous and made sure to encourage it. He went on:
"As for wanded magic, the answer is quite simple even if it uses arithmancy as well. As it is, the magic is directly extracted from our magical cores so its power depends of each people but also about the control they have on the spell. Now, it's obvious that runic magic is highly more powerful that the wanded one but still far less used, why is that, Evan?"
The boy seemed to contemplate his answer before quietly answering:
"I can see two main reasons as of yet. The first being that in order to use arithmancy and runes one needs to have a good knowledge and understanding of them which means long studies which must be pretty discouraging for the average witch and wizard. The second one is based on the same roots as the first which is that, in order to use your runes and arithmancy sequences, you need a long preparation ahead while wanded spells can be cast immediately, once they have be learnt. There's no waiting time. In a duel, unless you have time to prepare, you won't be able to use runes sequences", Evan simply explained.
"Very good, Evan", praised Strakowski before asking, noticing the displeased expression on his student's face: "What?"
"Isn't there a way to use runes in a duel? I mean… there are protective amulets and one can also put protective runes on clothes to shield their owner from minor jinxes and hexes so why wouldn't there be a way to use them differently, in a less static way?", Evan said, obviously frustrated.
The tutor nodded, understanding his student's frustration.
"Indeed, I won't deny that one can add runic and arithmancy sequences on inanimate objects but the same sequences only protect for a very specific kind of spells so one only need to use a rarer or a powerful spell to break the sequence. Furthermore, these sequences are all defensive and not offensive because of the preparation needed but also because it's difficult to lock one specific target which moves. So, we have two issues: firstly the limited capacity of all protection on removable devices, even on the most powerful ones, and then, because of the impossibility to properly strike back."
The child frowned, obviously unhappy with his tutor's conclusions before looking at him straight in his eyes, saying:
"I'll find a way."
There was no doubt, no hesitation in the boy's voice. How arrogant youngsters were nowadays, Strakowski thought, amused. He decided to indulge his student's whim and let him explore this path. After all, it only would motivate him to study harder, if it was possible.
"How do you suggest proceeding?" he questioned, curious.
"I guess the key point is in using the sequences in a dynamic and removable way so we could cast them very much like a wanded spell, the child said before thinking before turning pensive. No, in fact, the two points are the same. We need a removable support with sequences previously drawn that could be cast depending on the need by vocal command or maybe an activation spell… Now, we have to imagine… See, maybe the floo network could provide some information about vocal command or maybe… yes, an easily support that one could carry everywhere but how could we charge and cast multiple sequences on a moving target… Like a wand but without it being a wand or, maybe…", the child muttered, mostly for himself while putting notes and ideas on his notebook, the tutor now forgotten in regard of his new project.
Strakowski decided to let him try it.
Failure was also part of one's learning.
"You still have one hour to complete your pitiful attempt at brewing a Gibberishery potion", the Potions Master thundered.
We don't mind the Potion Master's tone. Me and Georges, we always loved experimenting with potions, you see. We weren't allowed of course but it had never deterred us, eh! Weird mixtures to dye Ronniekin in green or to confuse him into eating worms… It was fun! But now, we're at Hogwarts, it's serious business now! We have access to so many more things… well, "access" maybe isn't the right word. With Georges, we would very much like to "have a look" into Snape's cupboards, to "borrow" one or two little things that wouldn't be missed, well, not really. 'Cause, with Georges, we have found something that felt just like finding one founders' treasures, it's just great like that! It was under a poorly sealed stone below Georges bed. Forgot what he was doing there… Well, no matter. It's a notebook called "A Marauders' guide for all future pranksters". This thing is like the Pranksters' Saint Graal, the Jester's Bible…
It has been written by some crazy genius guys with very weird names: Prongs, Padfoot, Moony and one Wormtail. And the stuff there is just delightfully insane. Recipes for potions to make people sing rhymes instead of speaking, spells to change hairs into snakes or feathers or to make people believe they have boils all over their face. It's just dreamily great! With Georges, we just so want to try it! But… We won't just copy, you know. We want to create our own things too; we have so many ideas but… We don't have much money that's why we'd like to "borrow" some stuff, just to begin. Then, we'll find a way to earn some money. Otherwise, we could also go into the forbidden forest… Just the name is so cool! So many adventures are waiting for us there!
I focus on my potion. It's lemon yellow, just like it should be. I raise my head and me and Georges both smile. We understand each other with just a look. We think alike. A twin thing probably. So… Lee had heard from Harvey who had heard it from Coleen who had been said by Judith that Snape sometimes let students who had proved themselves in class use one of the labs in the dungeons to brew outside of class's time. And that, that would be so cool for our experiments! And rumors said that the most talented students can even serve themselves in the cupboards for the most common ingredients… If that don't work, we could still find an abandoned classroom but if we were to get caught… Well, for now, it's just our first class so we have to focus to impress our teacher.
Suddenly, a slight knock sounded on the door which probably led to Snape's office. The latter throws us a pure look of contempt, surely to encourage us not to look at what doesn't concern us but… well, we are Griffindor and… with Georges, we still keep an eye on our cauldron while watching discretely (at least, I think we were) what's going on. It's Snape's son who's entering the classroom with a small bag on his shoulder and a book almost as thick as he is against his chest. The professor guides him to a small desk beside his own. He sits down and we see his profile now. I didn't see yesterday but he has a long hair braid on his back. And he really is thin. Ronnie's twice as thick as he is. Snape casts a spell on him, I don't know what exactly. I look at Georges but he doesn't know as well.
Evan, if I recall well, sits obediently and gets out of his bag some kind of funny notebook and a thing way weirder, if possible. Is that something to write? He doesn't look at anyone; he just read his huge book with attention before taking notes with his funny not-quill on his funny notebook. It's so strange! A hand, soon followed by an arm and then the rest of a body covered in black clothes above which a pale face with narrowed eyes are on me and make me understand that I – maybe – didn't pay enough attention to my cauldron. I throw a look at it, relieved that it's still the right color. I know that trying to escape retaliation by focusing once more won't save me. Charlie had warned us enough.
"Tell us, Mr Weasley, what's so fascinating in the sight of one child studying?" he said softly but loud enough so I begin to sweat.
I can just swallow hard and stay still. Right now, it's better to forget my griffindor's trends for trouble and opting for self-preservation. That means to shut up and to suffer in silence.
"That's probably something you're not familiar with, Mr Weasley, if the sight of such a common thing seems so remarkable in your mind and fascinates you so much as to make you forget the point of your presence in this very classroom, making such presence a grotesque waste of my time, which I consider to be valuable" the dark professor rants.
I keep my head down.
"5 points from Griffindor, Mr Weasley. Please keep this dismal brain of yours on this lesson otherwise I will convert these points into detention", he icily finished.
The time left of the lesson happens to go in absolute silence. Once our potion is complete and in its vial, I leave it on the professor's desk before packing my things. When leaving, I met the apologetic eyes of Evan. I smile to him, making him sign that I'm fine. After all, it's not his fault. For a moment, it's like there's a shadow of a smile on his face but soon it disappears as he begins to read his book again. What's in it that's so captivating? I personally find that books that huge should be forbidden but that's my opinion. I join Georges outside. The weather is so good that would be criminal not to go outside and then, it's Friday and that was our last class. The last of our first week at Hogwarts. It deserves some kind of reward, doesn't it?
Something like a chocolate frog would do it, for example. Charlie, my suddenly favorite brother, should have some he could offload for his beloved little brothers, shouldn't he?
"Now I will talk about the structuring of wanded spells", Strakowski began. "They can be divided into two parts: incantation and wand movement. The latter is acting as a focus, concentrating the magic of its owner in a single point – as long as the target is known – allowing an accurate throw if you are good enough, and an economy of magic and therefore, a greater endurance. Now you must know that the incantation itself is a substitute for runes but less powerful and precise, this is also why there are a lot of variations of the same category of spell. Could you give me an example?"
"The levitation charms. If the object changes so does the incantation even as the wand movement stay the same, which is something I'm not sure I understand, Master", Evan asked, perplexed.
"It's quite simple, really. The wand movement is the translation of an arithmantic sequence in connection with the main purpose of the spell. Thus, the arithmantic sequence can focus on the desired effect, here the levitation, while the incantation focuses on which object, detailing the purpose of the spell. I will explain further."
Strakowki took a deep breath before beginning his explanation. It was vital that Evan understood exactly what was involved in every phase of the various magical processes they would address in their lessons. Strakowski was a staunch supporter that one could only really learn if they had a deep and intimate understanding of the subject before going into practice. It was tedious, often boring but necessary. And he had every intention to detail everything. He knew it was traditionally taught in the advanced stage of education, when the children were near graduation but he had always thought it was a mistake. After all, you do not throw a child into the water without having explained how to swim to him/her, right? Furthermore, young children didn't have preconceived notions about what was possible or not with magic when the adults did.
As such, the Master was convinced that trying to protect children from theories hard to understand wasn't the way you could give them the opportunity to push the boundaries. You needed to give them the tools to break the shackles of known magic. He had to admit that Evan was a fascinating experiment that way. The child was learning diligently and at an impressive speed, exceeding by far his expectations. He already foresaw that they would be done with studying the Nordic runes by Winter Solstice. If not before. Evan truly had a terrifying memory as long as he was interested. You just needed to know how to make it interesting enough to him. He had to probe his natural curiosity, to show him the usefulness of what he was learning. Most of all, he had to challenge him, to provoke and defy him. If you didn't, the boy was just… dissipated.
It was a difficult thing for him to stay sit down for long that's why Strakowski used to often ask him questions, to make him summarize a point of the lesson, to argue with him… It kept the boy's attention on alert which also allowed him to fix what he was learning in his long-term memory. Strakowski taught to Evan everything he considered that was in his ability to teach. He wanted to teach his pupil all of the known arithmantic and runic systems and see how the boy would work with them. He never explained everything, hoping and waiting for the child to find the missing keys he had deliberately left out. He gave little homework, letting the child apply his natural curiosity and he just made sure the boy had prepared their lessons. And, Merlin, how the child was curious. Of History, mainly, and of Runes and Arithmancy, of course. But also of legal and administrative procedures, laws and decrees. The child had asked him to borrow his own books on law, for "recreation". The boy was just weird like that and he sometimes wondered when the child had time to study all of that.
"As for spells, sequences are quite simple as we can split them in two groups: Movement and Action. Movement includes every transfiguration, conjuration and alchemy spells where one modify or change the inner structure of a subject, should it be an object, an animal or a human. Action is about all spells related to an external interaction between the subject of the spell with the one who casts it without any structural change. Here, we can distinguish spells related to offense, defense and service. However, it's not an absolute classification as a service spell can be used as offense or a conjuration as defense for example. It's just in order to give you a general idea."
The boy nodded.
"Now, about the incantation, the language usually used in Central and West Europa is Latin, even if most of the time, it's a derivative Latin rather than a literal Latin. Although Latin is the language the most widespread and that the magical community chose for their exchange of knowledge under first the rule of the romans then by tradition, the local population had tended to appropriate the language to themselves, changing the pronunciation because of their local dialect, some even keeping some words of their original language with some latin-assimilation and vice versa. For example, the service spell "Lumos" comes from the Latin "lumen" or "luminis" which means "light" and which lightens the end of the wand but the local dialect of its inventor changed it to "Lumos". Are you following?" the tutor asked to be sure the boy was still paying him attention. As the child was bent upon his notebook, frenetically writing on it, he went on:
"Now, let me confide a little secret to you."
Just like that, the boy immediately raised his head. There were some magical words with the child which worked better than any spell, the Master thought, amused.
"Truthfully, a spell incantation isn't really necessary."
The child eyes were greedy and insatiable.
"That's why it is possible to cast the spells wordlessly. The incantation is only a way to describe the effect you're searching for and, as you pronounce it, our brain visualize easily said effect, given more chance for the spell to be cast correctly. In fact, one could use another language and obtain the same effect. What do we deduct from that?" he concluded.
"I'd say…" tried Evan, thinking. "I'd say that the key to cast a spell properly is all about concentration and visualization of the spell itself."
"Absolutely, Evan. However, one doesn't speak about this small "detail" usually. One prefers to let the students learn first the incantations and their effects so they can learn from practical experience which should, theoretically, make the wordless casting easier. What do you think about it?"
"Well, if one concentrates on the words because they think that they are the key to cast the spell instead of the effect of said spell, they will face failure, won't they?"
"That's true but one often forget to explain this to their students because they think that, being familiar with the spell would make it obvious that words are only a crutch."
"And for the arithmantic sequence, Master?" Evan asked, definitively interested.
"In reality, we use generic forms to translate the arithmantic sequences. But we hadn't broached this subject yet" the tutor conceded before his student obvious confusion.
Strakowski then went to the blackboard and began drawing geometrical shapes: a circle, a triangle, a square and lines too. Horizontal, vertical and oblique. It ended with a symbol indicating their derivatives were also to be taken into account such as curved lines, semi-circle and alternative forms, such as rectangle, rhombus, arrow...
"Now, I'd like for you to use the other blackboard to note only the first main numbers in arithmancy and their prime elements", Strakowski ordered.
Evan swiftly stood up and began to write:
1 : Fire
2 : Air
3 : Duality of Mind
4 : Order
5 : Creation
6 : Water
7 : Chaos
8 : Life/Death
9 : Earth
The tutor nodded, satisfied.
"Good. Now, I want you to look at these numbers and split them in geometrical forms."
The boy immediately began by the number 1, identifying the vertical line and the oblique one immediately before thinking and adding the triangle and the semi-arrow. Strakowski was pleased and proud that Evan hadn't fallen in the easy trap. They had spend countless hours learning how to properly draw the numbers for this very motive even if he hadn't say it back then. He let the boy carry on before saying:
"By now you must understand how we move from an arithmantic sequence to a wand movement, mustn't you?" he questioned, amused at the facial expression the boy made. A mixture between amazement that such a great revelation could bring and self scolding to not have found it by himself.
And so many things he had yet to teach him…
"What are you doing?" Draco asked, sitting down beside Evan, under one of the big oaks of Malfoy Manor's park.
"Master Strakowski asked me to write an essay" Evan explained, grimacing.
Although it was rare, his Master sometimes ordered him to write "essays" of an undetermined length on a given subject. The exercise could seem pretty simple but the truth was far more different and frustrating for the boy. As it was, he had to compile all of the information he had been studying on this particular subject and put them in writing following a complicated pattern as imposed by his teacher. It means that he not only had to use all of the known information he had learnt including the proved facts and disputed points but in an argumentative way following a logical and factual reasoning while searching for arguments to sustain his theory. It was obviously tedious as if he wouldn't ever be done with said subject as he had to be as exhaustive as possible. After the first essay of this kind, he had decided to always prepare for such work to smooth his future work if such "essays" were to be given to him after they were done with the object of their lessons.
He disliked these "homeworks" because they were very time consuming and he had to focus on them which means he wouldn't have time for his others studies and it was frustrating. Then, he sometimes felt like this kind of work was useless as they were done with studying the subject. However, he could grudgingly acknowledge that it was definitively interesting. As fastidious as it was, it always made it learn new things, discover points they hadn't cover in class and he eagerly liked going to the library in the hope that he would impress his teacher with his arguments. The last point was a vault key for Evan. He was learning the power of the words, written or oral. He had always known this but never did he have the chance to be taught how to use them properly to his own ends. Strakowski made him perfect his method through essays and debates on class while Narcissa refined him to mix properly his manners with a domineering attitude by not only having the right argument but learning how to put it forward, when, while using posture, position, tone and the like in order to convince others, which was a very much new things to Evan who hadn't, until then, cared about others' opinions.
So, one could say that these essays offered Evan the opportunity to definitively fix the knowledge on his long-term memory, sharpen his skills and giving him all leeway about the way he wanted to broach his essay. It proved to him that his Master trusted him to work alone and to not slack on it. It was the first time that someone – anyone, really – paid attention to what he was doing or not doing. And, if his teacher were to be satisfied with his work then… then, he would talk about it to his father and the Potion Master always mentioned it to him, saying he was glad that Evan was doing well. It was enough to convince Evan to work harder just to hear those words from the mouth of his father. Of course, the Dark Man didn't say he was proud but it was almost there and Evan so much wanted to finally hear them that he would do anything until he was certain that, really, his father was happy to have him as a son. It was almost there, he reassured himself because, sometimes, he doubted but… his father was trying; so he just had to do his very best until then.
That was the reason why he was disappointed with himself as he was staring at his blank paper, not knowing what to write or what direction he should go next.
"Ah! I so understand what you mean" the blond sympathetically nodded. "I, myself, absolutely abhorred those. Sometimes it feels like my tutor tries to make my hand fall off from all this writing", he whined before asking: "What is it about? Maybe I can help you so we could then go to the Quidditch pitch!"
"I must answer this topic: "Nordic runic and arithmantic systems"", Evan distractedly explained, sighing before his blank notebook.
"I won't be of any help then" Draco replied, embarrassed. "I don't study those yet… It's far too advanced for me. I'm not as smart as you are" he bitterly admitted, looking away.
Hearing this, Evan raised himself up.
"Draco?" Evan softly called.
The Malfoy heir crossed the emerald eyes of his friend, ashamed of his jealousy but unable to stop himself from being envious. Evan grabbed his arm, smiling faintly.
"You do know that my father is the youngest Potion Master since the three last centuries, don't you?" He asked softly.
Draco nodded, not understanding where this was going.
"As such, I suppose it would be expected from his heir…. Or that, as a father, he would wish for his son to…follow in his footsteps and I did try, I really did" Evan painfully explained. "But I'm not interested nor do I have the talent to become a Potion Master. And I'm sure that my father is disappointed in me. He said he isn't but I'm certain that he's still not happy with me. So, you see, there's nothing to be jealous of there."
"You're wrong" Draco countered, shocked. "You do well in our potions lessons, and Uncle Severus won't mind if you prefer doing something else than potions. He's proud of you" he said assuredly.
"He never said it though and I can see how he is when you are working together on a potion. You both have a real knack for it and I can't help but feel a bit…excluded. I'm just not into potions so… You see what I mean, don't you?" Evan admitted quietly.
They stayed silent a few moments before Draco hesitantly confessed:
"I'm not interested in politics or economics you know."
At this, Evan raised his head, listening intently his friend.
"As the Malfoy heir, I'm expected to enter the political arena as soon as I will be old enough to do so, participating in official balls and meetings, managing the Estates with my father. I hate it" Draco sighed. "I just want to study potions and charms. I find it boring when father explains who our allies are and who aren't, who owes us favors and who we could try to blackmail. The political games are just plain boring to me. I know father thinks it's just because I'm still young but I can't see myself being a political master scheming as is my father. So, you see, I plainly understand what you mean but… there's something you're forgetting there."
"What is it?" Evan curiously asked disbelief obvious in his voice.
"Our parents love us no matter what we do, the trouble we get in or if we aren't what they expected us to be" Draco firmly said, convincingly. "Maybe I will disappoint my father but he can still hire people to help with the management of the Estates should he need to and I know he's happy when dealing with politics so he can wait for another Malfoy, maybe a grandson or someone else he could mentor like he does with you. I know that what matters the most is my being happy. So, you see, it doesn't matter if you aren't going to be the next youngest Potion Master, you're still very smart and you study all of this boring stuff and all. I know that's something he's certainly very proud of."
"He never said it to me though. That's why I'm working so hard, you know. I love runes and arithmancy but… I'm not the same as you are, Draco. My father adopted me out of duty, not because he really wanted me and I know that he's trying and I'm trying too, you know. I try to be like he would like me to be. I know he likes quietness so I'm as quiet as possible. I keep myself out of trouble and I obey him and I don't bother him with silly questions or asking him things because he gives me everything I need and I shouldn't even complain because he's been giving me all he can even when he's uncomfortable … What I mean is that I want him… I just would like to know if…if…"
Evan stopped there, unable to voice his deepest fear. He soon found himself in Draco's embrace. He stiffened at first before relaxing. It was Draco and Draco was his friend. He was safe. He could be trusted.
"Everything's gonna be okay, Evan" the blond whispered. "You'll see. Just give a bit of time to Uncle Severus, he's not the most expressive man but I know that he cares."
Evan began to smile, relishing in the warmth of his friend but still a bit uneasy, unconvinced.
"So… Are you going to let me study now?" He asked in order to lighten the mood.
Draco released him, a pout firmly in place even if he would never admit it. A Malfoy doesn't pout after all.
"You're a spoilsport, you know that?" He replied haughtily. "Still, one would think that someone as smart as you are would understand that a bit of fun would help you gain some new perspective for your thinking."
"Maybe you're right", he admitted before frowning. "Wait… A new perspective?"
"Yes, I'm always right", Draco beamed. "Now come one, I'd like to try a new dive and… Evan?"
But Evan wasn't listening anymore, lost in his thoughts, muttering to himself:
"An angle… a dimension? Surely it couldn't be that simple…. So obvious… But then, it's only logical when you think about it…"
"Evan?" Draco called again.
Evan raised his head and suddenly, beamed to his friend before hugging him tightly and declaring, enthusiast.
"You're a genius, Draco! A pure genius! How could I not see it before! You're the best friend ever!" Evan said while retrieving his notebook and pen from the grass before walking back quickly to the manor while scribbling and whispering frenetically all along, leaving a stunned blond behind him.
"Genius or not, it doesn't seem like I'm going to play Quidditch today" the blond sighed, annoyed.
"The weather is nice, Evan. Would you like to go outside with me?" I asked the boy.
It would be good to take advantage of the fine weather as it wouldn't last for long in the rude Scotland. I got a free half hour in my overbooked schedule. This week had been a nightmare to organize and I'm pretty tired. I didn't spend much time with Evan except for our morning walks outside and our meals in the Great Hall. He spent most of his time with his tutor and I did let him join my last classes of the day so he wouldn't be left alone after his tutor's departure. Until it was time for his violin work, so he would go back to our quarters to practice what I called in my mind "Musical torture". Merlin blessed all of the creators of silencing spells. Still, I feel a bit guilty for not having found time for him as I'd promised myself to do.
He smiles brightly to my meager offer, deepening my guilty feelings that a boy could be so overjoyed with something so common.
"To the lake outside or do you want to go to our secret garden?"
As I said the word "our", I knew what he would choose.
"Our garden, father. With the swings" he shyly answered.
"Then, lead the way."
I let him put away his book and his things in his room before letting him open the passage leading to the garden.
That's just wicked! With Georges, we were going to the lake but, on our way, I lost my balance and I gripped the first thing I could. It was the end of a spear. I believe it belongs to Strongcry the Howler and it opened a secret passageway. Bill and Charly did warn us that there were a lot of these things at Hogwarts but this one, we did find it all by ourselves! No need to talk about it, Georges has got the same sparkle in his eyes as I do. A passageway… it calls for exploration, by Griffindor's beard! It's narrow and dark. We grope along as we could. It's going up, I think. Finally, we reach a point where a little light was going through an arrow slit. My brother and I looked through it, to see where we are exactly and how good the view could be.
Far away, we can see the Forbidden Forest but beside that, there's nothing else interesting to see apart from the stone walls of the castle. Georges gasps and my eyes follow where he was looking. They widen. There is… a garden, just down there. A small garden with flowers, many flowers on its borders and grass in the center but that's definitively not the strangest thing there. There is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in the middle of the lawn, like a reversed wooden "U" letter with two ropes hanging down to it and which tied a wooden plank between them. I don't see what use that could have and Georges doesn't seem to know better. Suddenly, the door, which was the probable access to the garden, opens and I feel like I'm hallucinating.
I believe my eyes did try to escape to join my jaw on the floor as I didn't think it could be possible to surprise me to such an extent. This is Professor Snape which is entering the garden, followed by Evan and… I think I need to go to Pomfresh because there's no doubt now that I'm hallucinating. The most feared teacher of Hogwarts, the scathing tongue which makes Hufflepuffs first years cry their eyes out, make seventh years Ravenclaws feel stupid and ignorant is… playing with his son? Georges is as incredulous as I am. We look at the surrealist scene before us. Evan had sat down on the strange wood plank and the professor… what is he doing? He's gonna make him fall!
I refrain from yelling to warn him. The plank moves and raises in the air. Evan is facing us but I'm sure he can't see us where we are. Evan, the professor's son, is smiling. I was under the impression that he didn't know how to do it, just like his father seemed to only know to sneer, smirk or make you feel really really small. Snape pushes more and more and the plank, and Evan, rises in the sky. Then, the professor conjures himself a chair and sit down, looking at his son who's still smiling. Suddenly, I feel like an intruder, embarrassed to be there, spying such an intimate moment. Georges is still fascinated but I grab him to go on with our exploration. We go up once more.
"Did you see that?" Georges excitedly whispered. "Can you believe it? It's just… Can you really believe it? Wait until we tell Lee!"
"I don't know, Georges" I countered, ill at ease. "We weren't meant to see that."
"All the more reason! Can you imagine that: the greasy git, the overgrown bat of the dungeons, the Hufflepuffs own private nightmare was playing under the sun, surrounded by pretty flowers like… like… help me there!"
"Like any father?" I lightly suggest.
This seems to bring my brother down the earth, deflating him.
"Yeah… You're right… We don't talk about it to anyone, ok ?" he awkwardly offered.
"No and then… it would kill the myth, wouldn't it?" I maliciously added.
"So right you are, dear Gred!"
We laugh before I ask, more seriously – well, as serious as I can get anyway – my dear brother:
"So, my dear Forge, how do we get out of there?"
I've decided to teach outside today. Evan was far too distracted by the new project I allowed him to conduct to concentrate long enough on a lecture about the history of the flame-freezing charm. I guess I'm at fault there. I should have known that giving him the opportunity to create his first runic and arithmantic sequence was going to close up everything else from his mind. This boy is a mystery. He's a natural when it came down to arithmancy, something he claims come from the muggle "mathematics" whatever that could be. I must admit that I'm impressed by how easy he can progress with this approach. He showed me the basics but I must admit that it just doesn't make sense to me. Well, as long as it helps him and follow the arithmancy's rules…
The sun shines but the weather is cold and I regret having forgotten my hat in the classroom. I can't bear the cold anymore since the Katorga. I've been cold for so long there. Evan is easily cold too. He's so thin. I know his father takes care of that but he's still frail. I made sure he was warm enough before going out, with scarf and mittens. There are students out, attracted too by the last good days before the fall of the rough Scotland winter. They throw us curious glances but no one dares disturbing us. It's better that way. We go away from them, near the forbidden forest where we'll still find enough flora to keep us busy.
I was about to begin my lecture on trees and their runic symbolism when something fell near us. It's a fledgling, one of those who fail their first flight because they weren't ready and yet wanted to try. That and the fact that it was late in the season for delicately collects the little bird in his hands and look at me, his eyes pleading. I sigh and take a look to the little thing. It seems to have broken a wing, it's not going to fly anytime soon. It squeals loudly, it's obvious it's in pain and the face of Evan make me understand that I wasn't going to teach anything to my pupil until this feathered problem was taken care of. I sigh once more before hearing me say:
"We should go to the Groundskeeper, Hagrid. He should know a lot about how to care of injured animals, I guess."
Evan nods, a little smile playing in the corner of his lips. He keeps firmly but carefully the small bird against his chest, protecting it from the weather and from injuring farther itself in its blind panic. This is one of the few moments when I remember that, despite his obvious maturity and intelligence, Evan is still a child. An innocent one. My Elena was kind too, she was able to see beauty in the iced desert we lived in the Katorga. Then, they made her lost this sparkle in her eyes and she never smiled again. She died with the same eyes that Evan wore sometimes, when he lets his guard down. Too old, too hurt. For Evan, there's still hope so I will gladly indulge him. It's difficult to say no to him, he's a good kid. The hut is located between the lake and the forest. Once before the door, I raise a hand and knock. The groundskeeper is surprised by our arrival but doesn't hesitate to let us inside once I finished explaining why we've come.
He's not alone. There is something like tea and… is that rocks? Around the wooden table sat two identical red heads with large smiles on their faces. I nod to them, looking at my pupil who's suddenly shy. It doesn't seem to bother the two twins red haired boys who are sitting around the half-giant table. They grin and stare openly as they introduce themselves. I don't recall what name they gave; they will be Red 1 and Red 2 to me. Evan waves toward them too before focusing back on his protégé. Hagrid takes him delicately from Evan's arms and put it in, what I suppose to be, a shoe box with a litter made of cotton. For a man this big, his moves are quite precise as he put a plaster on the wing of the bird and feed him a bit of a healing potion. As Hagrid invites us to join, I don't have time to decline that Evan turns to me, asking:
"May I stay a bit with the bird, Master?" he politely asks his eyes bright with hope.
How do you say no to that? Still, I hesitate to leave him alone even if it would let me retrieve my hat from where I forgot it. Finally, Red 1 pushes it, saying:
"We can walk Evan back, sir" he confidently says as the other frenetically approves. "We know the dungeons very well, you know!"
I look to Evan. He bites his lower lips before nodding quietly. I decide to compromise:
"I'm going back to the castle to retrieve my hat. I will join you on the way to the library as it seems you can't concentrate much today."
The boy lowers his head, blushing. I add:
"You'll study for your project there."
Immediately, Evan nods enthusiastically while the red haired twins stare incredulously at him. I pay my farewell and leave. While closing the door, I hear one of them asks Evan:
"Is it true that your tutor is an escaped prisoner from Azkaban?"
I laugh all the way to the castle, scaring the students away.
After the departure of the impressing – and slightly scaring – tutor of Evan, me and Georges got closer from the box where was the injured bird, listening to Hagrid as he explained how the bird would have to stay at least for the next two weeks before being able to fly away. The bird seems calmer now, probably due to the calming draught Hagrid gave it. Evan carefully pets the small head of the bird. It's strange to see him so close. He's really pale and thin and small compared to Ronnie. Once Hagrid is finished with healing the bird as much as possible, we lead Evan back to the castle. He's so shy. It's difficult to get anything else than a nod or shook of his head. The few words he talks let us hear a small voice, filled with softness but intelligence too. It's obvious he's smart but he doesn't brag about it.
I did tell him so. He blushed.
Me and Georges joke all along the way, trying to have Evan going out of his shell. Still, we're careful, we don't want to scare him away. Finally, he begins to smile a bit, just a tiny smile but still… This is a new victory for the Extraordinary Pranksters Twins or E.P.T.! We talk about Griffindor, our jokes, how we want to be professional pranskters and all. He listens, really listen, even asking us questions as if he really is interested. No one ever took us seriously when we explained our project. It feels nice. I don't know how it went wrong. As we were walking through an empty corridor and then, three Ravenclaw students arrived and things just went wild. One of them, a blond boy with a cruel smile taunts Evan:
"So, this is Snape's brat?" he sniggers.
"He's as ugly as is his father, we should remedy to that. It would only be justice after all, to not impose such ugliness anymore" the one at the right cruelly said, sneering.
"Because of your stupid father, I won't be a Healer and Henry and Desmond won't be able to postulate to the aurors force. We're gonna make sure he understands that his actions have consequences" the third one, a bulky guy with short brownish hair, said.
They raise their wands. It's bad. I look at Georges who nods at me. We can't fight the three older students but maybe we can distract them long enough so Evan could flee. We rush at the Ravenclaw boys, while I yell to Evan to run. We are quickly pushed out of the way but it had indeed given time to Evan. He runs fast and is almost at the end of the corridor, just at the turn where are the stairs when the spells casts by our offenders reach him, pushing him through the empty space of the stairs. There's no cry, no sound. Just the silence. The Ravenclaws turn to us but they don't have time to do anything as they are bound with ropes. A group of students has intervened, led by Charlie. I'm relieved but the first thing I do is to go to Evan, Georges by my side.
Evan is down the stairs, unmoving.
His left leg is bent in an abnormal angle and there's blood around his head. More people come to stare at the scene, curious. Gratowski or Mistroski,- or whatever his name is - comes, followed by Snape who, when he recognizes his son on the floor, picks a sprint. He kneels beside Evan, casting what I suppose is a diagnosis spell. Madam Pomfrey arrives then too and begins to cast healing spell while Snape gives potions to Evan. Then, as Madam Pomfrey asks for Snape to leave Evan to her in the hospital wing, Snape categorically refused. Then he delicately takes Evan in his arms, making sure to not injure him further and begins to leave, the crowd respectfully parting to let them go. However, he turns a last time toward Charlie, asking in a chilly voice:
"Mr Weasley, would you be so kind as to make sure that those – he points the three Ravenclaw – reach the Headmaster's office safely and that Professor Flitwick is informed of the situation?"
Charlie solemnly nods. Snape turns back before stopping to add:
"Mr Wealsey? ... Make sure they wait for me."
After that, Charlie insists with Madam Pomfrey that we go to the infirmary. I don't refuse nor do I protest. I'm just… under shock I suppose. It's so… I can't make up my mind about what happened. Not really. I mean, they had a problem with Snape, not Evan, so why did they do that to Evan? Evan is nice and so frail, that's not fair that they would target him. He couldn't protect himself. I mean, Madam Pomfrey says that he just had a fractured leg and a slight commotion but it could have been worse. If he had fallen just a bit harder, he could have… he could have… died. I welcome the sleeping draught because I just want to stop thinking about what almost happened.
"They almost killed my son!" I said in a low tone that perfectly conveys my rage.
I don't remember the last time I've been so angry. I can feel my magic react, trying to reach for something, anything that could focus all of this ire that makes me shiver as I force my mind to keep it under control.
"I don't deny that what they did is bad but they are young, and angry… they made a mistake, something that they surely already regret…" the Headmaster begins.
"Of course, they regret it!" I exclaimed, furious. "They were caught!"
"Now, now, Severus" the Headmaster sternly states, "You mustn't let your personal involvement interfere here. They will be punished accordingly to the gravity of their act…"
"Expelled, Albus. Expelled" I countered icily. "They will be expelled if you really want to "punish" them accordingly to what they've done."
"Severus, my boy, you've been their age, you've been more than once in trouble for fighting in the corridors…"
"This is low, Albus. You know it was war and that I didn't have a choice back then. These three had it and they chose to be criminals" I exclaimed, indignant.
"Criminals, Severus? You're letting your anger talks there, Severus. I don't think they really thought of the possible consequences of their attack nor did they really want to hurt Evan. They are still young and they deserve to have a second chance to repair their mistake. I promise you that they will serve detentions for all of the duration of the year and they will be put on probation until graduation."
"No, Albus" I insist firmly. "You will expel them. Three sixth years against two first year and a wandless child doesn't deserve anything else than expulsion."
"Severus…"The Headmaster tries again, sighing.
But he couldn't continue as Filius, who had stayed silent until now, decides to speak up:
"I think Severus is right, Albus."
I feel a huge amount of surprise. Never once a member of the staff did take my side. Never.
"We cannot condone what they did Albus. With Severus reputation, it was bound to happen."
I growled but Filius calms me down, explaining:
"I don't say this is your fault, Severus. You have high standards for your students and this is something I respect but you must admit that you're not really liked because of that. If we don't put a stop to this kind of attack by making of them an example, it will just serve to put a huge target on Evan's back and we cannot do this to the child. He deserves to not live in fear of being attacked and Severus pointed something that you seem to have overlooked, Headmaster…"
"What is it, Filius?" Albus tiredly asked.
"Evan could have died. It was fortunate that he didn't but we can't forget that and I agree with Severus that we can't condone such violence inside this school."
"We could suspend them for a month, and put them under probation until graduation, with detentions for the rest of the year" Albus suggests as a last resort.
Filius nods but it's still not enough in my books.
"No. Expulsion. Period."
I will stick to that until I obtain what I want and what I want is justice. Not for myself but for Evan.
"Severus, you, more than any other, know that everyone deserves a second chance" he tries to guilty me.
It only makes me angrier, if possible.
"If they aren't expelled, Albus, you will have to face the press and subsequently furious parents who will want explanations in regards of the security Hogwarts provides to its students and, yes I will dare to, Albus!" I icily states, my voice no higher than a whisper but letting them clearly know how determined I am. "If they haven't left by tomorrow morning, Albus, then I will" I finish calmly.
"You would leave Hogwarts, your position and your slytherins?" Albus asks, shocked.
"Yes" I flatly confirmed.
The Headmaster sits down, defeated.
"I suppose I have no other choice then…"
As I go back to the dungeons, I don't feel like I won an important battle. Though I did obtain the expulsion, I know Albus will push for their enrollment to Durmstrang or Beauxbâtons and will make sure that their records won't be soiled with their deeds as it could have threatened their future careers. Furthermore, Filius did point something I didn't anticipate. I didn't think that the students' hatred towards me could extend to Evan. I did think about my former "associates" of course, and all of the adults that resent me or hates me because of my past but I didn't even imagine that something like that could happen at Hogwarts. I promised to Evan, and to myself, that I would protect him against everything and everyone but… it wasn't enough. Sure, I knew that something was going on because of the pendant but I was too late. From now on, Evan won't go anywhere without at least an adult with him.
I'm really not good at this parenting thing.
Deep inside, I feel like a failure to my promise.
Evan woke up a few hours later. He didn't say anything nor did he cry. I explained what happened after he fainted. He just lowered his head, his face closed. I did make it clear that it wasn't his fault and that the culprits had been expelled. I don't want him to feel guilty for something that was out of his control. I'm the first who intimately can know and understand how abused children tend to think that everything bad happening to them is their faults. I'm not at ease, I'm not sure if I did find the right words with Evan or if they affected him the way I hope they should. I'm, once again, at a loss. I don't know what Evan expects from me. A hug? Verbal reassurance?
Finally, I just told him to rest and to call for me should he need something. As I closed the door of Evan's room, I heard something that made me shiver:
"I hate them. I want them to pay."
I know of Evan's dark side. You cannot live the life he had without growing one. A bitter, angry and cruel dark side. This is not healthy but what can I do? I know what I did with mine and I don't want Evan to follow this path but what can I say? I know that the Evan I live with is a mask, behaving like a good boy to please me, I suppose. Underneath, there is a boy that have been hurt, that is angry and that didn't hesitate to cut his own wrists. He's very determined and focused and I know what he's thinking about: revenge. I know that he hate his attackers, not because of the fact they did attack him but because they made him feel weak, helpless. I don't know how to address this.
Maybe I should talk to a mind healer.
Classes had been cancelled until tomorrow. It seems that it did encourage the infamous Griffindor bravery as I found three of them, one Charlie Weasley and his two twin terrors of young brothers, in front of my door, asking for news of Evan. As the two red-haired twins did protect Evan to their own peril, I don't have much of a choice except to answer their query. Still, they will not be granted entrance to my quarters. This is the only place I'm students free and it won't be sacrificed lightly. They ask me how is Evan, one of the twin asks when they will be able to see him and I don't know what to say. I didn't know that Evan had made friends with some of the students here.
I didn't even think to ask. On our morning walks, we stay mostly silent. I found it comfortable but maybe Evan didn't dare to speak to me. When Charlie Weasley explains that they met the very same afternoon, I feel relieved even if I can't help but doubting the trust Evan has toward me. Once I promised to ask Evan to meet the twins when he will be recovered, the Weasley take their leave, letting me think about my relationship with Evan. It's still pretty young but still, I feel like I didn't do the right thing or take the good decisions. It's tiring to always worry but I can't give up now.
I made a promise, after all.
"And that's where I understood that each figure can be connected to a geometrical shape even if it was pretty much obvious that the flat ones don't relate all of their possibilities since we live in a multidimensional world. As such, by using dimensional geometrical shapes and linear equations in a complex system of pre-done calculations, we can put in place a network of interlinked runic systems related to the arithmantic pre-defined objective" the boy excitedly explained, proud to share what he had found with his master.
He went on:
"And the best point is that multidimensional shapes permit to create chains with other geometrical systems as long as the arithmantic sequences are compatible but, since the shapes are various, the possibilities are almost endless as long as the final geometrical shape reuniting all of the others systems stay true to the same main core equation that rule the others sequences."
Evan's enthusiasm dampens a bit as he stated, frowning:
"However, I still couldn't find how to fix the issue in regards of the inevitable fragmentation thus created; I can't seem to find a shape that could rationalize them."
There, the boy sighed before admitting:
"I must apologize, Master. I suppose I failed to meet your expectations."
After a moment, not hearing anything from his master, Evan did raise his head, apprehensive to his tutor reactions. He hadn't wanted to disappoint Master Strakowski. He really did search but couldn't find anything that could be used to fill the empty spaces and stabilize the global shape when the shapes didn't perfectly connect. However, his master's face was strange. There was no disappointment there but a strange emotion that shouldn't be there. Pride. Strakowski took many great breathes before saying, the voice thick:
"Evan… If what you explained to me works… By Veles' light, you have no idea! We only ever used sequences that have already been approved and the only experimentation done is by using the "try and try again" method. No one ever thought that a global way of processing the sequences could exist. And by using muggle mathematics!"
Evan, definitively alarmed, asked:
"What does it mean, Master?"
Strakowski laughed, his rough voice echoing in the classroom:
"It means that you are no longer my student, Evan" He raised an amused brow as his student face fell. "It means that you're going to be my apprentice, Evan and that you're so not going to get rid of me until you get your Mastery."
"Really?" Evan incredulously asked.
"I'll speak tomorrow with your father" Strakowski replied, as he calmed himself.
Evan let a small frown on his face. Maybe his father would be as proud as his master was…
"Now, would you be so kind as to explain to your old Master how you built these equations in an arithmantic sequence as it seems I will have to learn about these muggle…mathematics" Strakowski probed.
Evan began to detail the process of forming what would be called later as the "SAPAR" or the "Snape's Arithmantical Process Applied to Runes".
Albus approached the classroom, stopping before the door. He decided to listen for a moment before letting his presence be known. He had to admit being curious about the content of the boy's lessons. He couldn't make his mind about Severus' son. He could acknowledge that he hadn't been really welcoming to Severus' new parenthood responsibilities as he was his only spy in the Inner Circle. He had feared that Severus wouldn't want to assume his spy duties anymore because of that but he shouldn't have feared because it seemed that Severus hadn't even thought about it which greatly reassured him. The second reason which had made him hesitant regarding the adoption had been the danger it would put Evan under. As it was, due to Severus position, one could expect that the boy would be "asked" to receive the Dark Mark upon Voldemort's return but the Potion Master had explained to him that he had put securities in place should the need arise and he had no reason to doubt him.
Still, he meant to convince Severus to create a contact with the Weasley family. After all, Evan seemed to get along with the Weasley twins anyway so he was almost sure that he would get his way in the end. Then the boy would be welcomed in the family to protect him if Severus' plans were to be proved ineffective. Furthermore, he wanted to preserve the child from the wrong influences. Severus had always loved to learn and practice the Dark Arts, he never hid that fact but Dumbledore wouldn't let him promote this kind of education toward Evan, even if he was to use Severus guilty feelings to do so. Even if Evan's tutor had been a political prisoner and not a Death Eater, he still came from a country where Dark Arts were still commonly taught. Dumbledore disapproved of such courses and he very well meant to make it plainly known to said tutor.
He had spent the last decades to ban all practices and courses related to the Dark Arts in Hogwarts, even those which were deem "innocent". Letting a door half-open would only lead to it not being able to be closed. It had been a long fight but he had his famous reputation behind him to back him up in his difficult crusade. And so, he had obtained what he wanted as a result, bit by bit through the years. He wouldn't let the innocent minds of the children who were under his tutelage and guidance being perverted by this dangerous knowledge as it had been the case with Gellert and Tom. The library had been purged and all the related books put in the restricted section. The syllabus had been revised too. Dumbledore wanted for the students to enjoy their time at Hogwarts, to make friends and take their time to grow up and not being under the pressure of the strain of constant studies. As such the studies were now limited to the basics and core subjects. Students had time to learn more when they would have chosen their career after all.
That's why he was concerned by the busy schedule Severus put up for his son's studies. It was far much too loaded in his mind. Children were meant to play outside, to spend time with their friends and not stay locked up for hours to learn only Merlin knows what. Severus had just said that he would be taught everything that Evan would need in order to go to school when he would reach the age of eleven. He cast the sound amplification spell so he would hear everything that was going on in this classroom. Strakowski's voice rose, his strong accent rolling on the consonants and slightly changing the vowels' sound.
"Now, I would like for you to summarize your essay about the differences between magics."
Albus tensed and decided to interrupt. He knocked and entered without waiting the answer.
"Hello!" he cheerfully exclaimed. "I apologize for interrupting but I was curious to see how the lessons went. I hope I'm not intruding?"
The tutor only gestured him to sit down before ignoring him totally in order to fully report his attention on his student who just shrugged. Once he was settled, the lesson went on:
"I researched what kind of magic there was and I found many classifications, like blood magic, runic magic, ritual magic but the most prominent were about Light and Dark magic so I went to try to find a definition to understand what was put behind these notions. However, I couldn't find a neat, concise and immutable definition for them. In fact, what I found is that said definitions changed through time, depending of the context or who's in power."
"And what do you conclude?" the tutor asked.
Dumbledore was listening closely now.
"I think that the issue is related to the approach itself which categorize the spells as allowed or forbidden and which ones are to be classified as dark or light" the child quietly replied.
Hearing that, Albus felt that he had to put his two knuts in:
"If I may be allowed, I can explain this to Evan" he offered, without noticing the disapproving eyes of the tutor. "In fact, there are spells which are naturally dark by their own nature, because they either physically or mentally hurt their victims, so it is the duty of the Wizenmagot to ban them and punish their users."
"I'm sorry Headmaster but I can't agree with you on this point", Evan cut, frowning. "A Leviosa on the edge of a cliff or a locking legs spell when one is on top of stairs can kill or hurt as easily as other spells you think as dark but that are still allowed and considered light as of today" Evan firmly countered.
"Maybe" Dumbledore vaguely acknowledged. "However, the Unforgivables and others spells specifically used for the purpose of torture are to be banned from our society, don't you agree?" he asked, not liking the way the child's mind was working. He would have to talk to Severus about it.
"No, I don't", the child replied, non impressed. "The killing curse, for example, has been created to relieve the ill ones in the final stage of incurable diseases so they would have a dignified and peaceful end. The Apertum Pectus spell which open the thorax is classified as dark when it was meant for healers to operate before we were to know how to heal internal injuries without opening the patients. There is not, in my opinion, light, dark or good and bad magic, only the intentions of those who casts the spell and that's why classifying the spells is not relevant. The approach is wrong. It's the people, their intent and not the spells whom should be condoned" Evan concluded.
"You're still a bit young to form an educated opinion about such serious things" the headmaster reasoned. "This is a much more complicated thing that one young mind cannot grasp yet. When you'll be older, I'll explain everything in more detail if you're still interested that is" he graciously offered, trying to do some "damage control".
He couldn't let the child on this. He wouldn't let the child lost himself in the Dark Arts. He really will have to talk with Severus. He turned to the tutor, weighing his reaction. The man just shrugged, saying:
"I never interfere with Evan's opinion; I only try to make him research and questions the facts so he could form his own and I don't think it needs to wait being older to do so."
"Anyway, Evan is still quite young to broach such delicate subject, without the necessary experience and guidance (Strakowski frowned at this) to properly understand such a serious matter."
"You keep saying that I'm too young to understand but you still hadn't given me arguments to counter mines. Do you even have one?" Evan pointed.
"Evan, this classification is understood and accepted by most of the wizarding world" replied the headmaster. "As imperfect as it may be, it permits to gather people around common values in order to protect our world from a magic based upon ones suffering. As it is, the members of the Wizenmagot have to use their compassion to do what is right and bane this kind of magic. We could choose to punish the individuals instead but it would be an open door to chaos as the free use of these magic would lead to temptation and then addiction which cannot be controlled and thus, protect the citizens from them."
"So, it's the fear of a bad use and the problems that could eventually happen with addiction which leads you to ban these kinds of magic" Evan summarized, incredulous.
"It's a preventive measure. Nothing good goes out of the Dark Arts, Evan" the headmaster concluded, satisfied and convinced that the child had finally understood what was right and wrong. Dumbledore bid them farewells and went out. Once he was out, Strakowski turned over his student whom had a pensive expression on his face.
"What do you think, child?" he asked.
"I do think that as long as all decisions in the higher sphere of the magical world are done either out of fear, ignorance or personal interests, we won't evolve and change as we should. I find it sad and… kind of stupid."
"What do you think could make people change their attitude?" the tutor probed.
"Well, a massive campaign against blackmail and bribery would be an obvious start. Then, all that would be left would be education but that would be difficult to put in place as it would require teaching the young ones and the adults at the same time. It would be a huge task that would need support. One that anyone couldn't succeed in if alone."
"How would you proceed?" Strakowski curiously asked.
To keep his promise to Evan, Lucius had decided to organize regular visits to the Ministry so he could teach the boy how it was run. He would turn in all of the main services where he could make the young boy benefit of his experience and advices. To his regret, Draco had turn down his offer to come with them, choosing to stay at the Manor for his lessons with his tutor and, as he hated his lessons, it wasn't that difficult to understand that politics weren't his heir cup of tea, to his despair. He still hoped that it would change as Draco would grow older and that he would be able to transmit his knowledge to him. Severus had accepted to entrust Evan to him under the condition that his tutor would come with them. The man himself was creepy in his opinion but he was to admit that he was a good protector, watching Lucius every move and keeping an eye on Evan. As it was, Master Strakowski closely followed them, slightly behind so Lucius and Evan coup open the way, the oldest leading the youngest in the maze that was the Ministry while discoursing:
"Politics is all about one own personal sphere of influence. The last one depends of: a well known and preferably respected name, to be born in a good and old family but that's not all of it. I will take Dumbledore as an example. He is a half-blood whose family hadn't had a good reputation at the beginning what with the imprisonment of the father in Azkaban for having tortured some muggles."
Evan, who hadn't known this, took some more notes on his notebook, thoughtful.
"His father left them mostly knutless and so, one could have thought that he wouldn't go far with such a past but even I could admit that he did reverse the situation quite nicely. Firstly, he was a very bright student in Hogwarts which made him being noticed by the famous Nicolas Flamel who took him under his wing for around five years during which they achieved to find all of the twelve properties of dragon's blood, then he chose to become a transfiguration professor after gaining his mastery. However, he really did gain his politic power when he defeated Grindelwald – do you know who he is?" Lucius asked before going on as Evan nodded. "The Ministry decorated him with an Order of Merlin, first class. For a moment, he refused to go in politics even as he now then owned a seat and chose to go back to teaching but, even after five years, his popularity hadn't lowered so he began to go to the Wizenmagot sessions. People then would begin to go to him for advices, to make him support one a law, another one a decree; his choices leading the others in following them, due to their awe of him or because they are all a bunch of mindless people, I still do not know" Lucius regretfully sighed. "His late involvement made him look like a modest and wise person and so, he was elected as Chief Warlock only two years after he began to invest himself in politics. Many respected people supported him in presenting himself as Supreme Mugwump at the ICW and so he became a major figure in our world. A brilliant move if I ever saw one" Lucius concluded. "Do you understand what I mean?" the Malfoy patriarch asked.
"I think I do" Evan softly replied. "If a person is… talented enough and cunning enough to make the good connections at the right time, then it's possible for him or her to reach the higher circles of the society even as the original conditions were unfavorable isn't it?"
"Exactly, Evan" Lucius approved before moving on: "In order to build your own network of useful connections, you have many means in your hands. You could simply wait to be noticed by your talent alone – which require to be exceptionally gifted – or you could benefit from others' connections from people you're close with, during social events like a ball or you could… wait and watch. For example" he said, pointing to people away from them "what you could you say about those two?"
Lucius was surprised and shivered as Evan blanked his face, his face betraying nothing except for his eyes which were looking at the two people he had pointed with a calculating coldness so casual that it reminded him of a predator eying its prey. Like it was something natural. It certainly wasn't and one look to Evan's tutor showed him that he wasn't the only one affected. A child should never look like this. After a minute, Evan began to speak his voice dull and void of any emotion:
"They both work at the Ministry as they both wore the Ministry insignia upon their robes. He has an important office, maybe a secretary or under-secretary if the color and quality of his robe fabric says anything. He thinks highly of himself and likes to brag about his position because you can see all of his probably useless medals he's wearing on the front of his robe. Still it makes him feel important so he can flaunt his status to anyone who has to listen to him. He likes his power and uses it whenever he feels he can get away with it. He's quite old and far from being fit which explains how much he's sweating all over and is keeping his handkerchief in his hand. Actually, he uses his power on the young woman here. She seems quite young, she must have recently graduated and it's obvious it's her first job. Her clothes are of good quality but not the best, she probably bought them for work only and, in order to keep them fine as long as possible, she probably won't wear them outside of her work. It's obvious she hasn't got much money and treasures the few good things she has because her shoes are rather old and used and she bears cheap jewels. She also doesn't like the other man at all. Look how close he is and how she refrains herself from backing a few steps. He has a hold upon her. She either works for him or has the power to get her fired. See how he had just placed his hand on her arm? She's stopping herself from grimacing but doesn't try to free her arm from his grip. Look the way her free hand holds the pendant around her neck. That's something she's taking comfort from, something precious to her which help her in her resolve to not stop this man. It's obvious she can't afford to lose her job and he knows that or maybe he has something else to hold against her, I don't know. He won't stop from harassing her until he's got what he wants, probably some sexual favor. He likes to play this, it's probably not the first time he does so and as nothing ever stopped him before, he will do it again. Once he had what he wanted, he will get her fired or force her to resign so she will be knutless and totally humiliated and unable to plead her case as she'll felt at fault by degrading herself to accept his advances."
Then, Evan went back to his usual neutral expression before turning to Mr Malfoy who was both impressed and ill at ease by the clear and disturbing information the boy had gathered in so little time.
"I don't see anything else to say, M Malfoy, as I don't know either their names or personal history. Did I miss something?" the boy politely inquired, his eyes full of hidden glee.
He could only shake his head, only now realizing that he had been played – once again – by a nine years old boy who had the potential to be either a formidable ally or a fearsome enemy.
He didn't want to imagine what the boy had guessed from him.
In the end, there wasn't any other "incidents" with the Hogwarts' students. Evan always was either with himself or Strakowski. He also allowed him to see the Weasley terrors – they already made a reputation of troublemakers for themselves - as long as their brother Charlie was with them. Evan liked the twins, saying that they were funny. Still, they'd better keep their nose out of trouble in his classroom. They would come in their quarters (only the living-room, the bathroom and Evan's room) and stay with Evan after the end of their lessons every Tuesday and Friday evening. For Halloween, or rather Samhain, he did bring Evan to James and Lily's graves. Then, they went back to Hogwarts to perform a ritual advised by Narcissa to honor the dead's spirits. Nothing complicated. Just a fire in the hearth to realize the ritual with an offering and a prayer to the dead, gods and goddesses of magic.
He offered a roses' bouquet made of asphodels (meaning regrets from the past), everlasting flowers (eternal regrets), ivies (eternal love/friendship), periwinkles (sweets memories) with white lilies harvested in their private garden (purity, chaste love, nobility) in remembering of his late mother and of Lily of course. He wrote two letters with that. To his mother, he wrote « I forgive you ». To Lily, he could only think of one thing: "Forgive me". Evan had been educated to the secret language of the flowers by Narcissa so he could choose his bouquet all by himself. His was different with white anthuriums (shyness), artemisia (absence), belladonna (silence), bellflowers (gratefulness), honeysuckle (bond, faithfulness), chrysanthemums (to honor the dead), pink roses (happiness, tenderness) and hawthorn (cautious hope). He also had written a letter but Severus didn't ask what was inside.
It was personal after all.
They sang the traditional prayer and threw their offerings in the fire with their letters. Severus never did follow the old ways before so he was as much a beginner as Evan was but he could admit that he had found the experience… fascinating. He had felt like a shiver during the ritual and then, for around one hour after, nor he or Evan had felt like talking, just sitting on the sofa, facing the fire. It was the first time he didn't felt uncomfortable as Evan cuddled against him, being almost at peace, as if all of his walls had fallen. He had made the most of it as peace wasn't something he usually felt in his tormented life. He knew his snakes were doing the very same in the privacy of the dungeons, on their own way, some using apples, others incenses. No matter what was used as long as the fire accepted the prayer.
Still, the experience had gotten the father and the son closer.
Now that the Winter Solstice was approaching, Severus was thinking of a surprise for Evan's holidays. He already had informed his prefects of his absence. He would stay available in case of emergencies of course, the prefects had a knut spelled to call for him should the need ever arise. Now, he just had to inform his colleagues and Albus. The staff meeting was, as usual, a never-ending thing. Who showed the most promise? Who had scholar problems which required help and attention? Who had difficulty in settling? Who was a troublemaker? On the last point, the Weasley twins easily won by a big margin but he could acknowledge that they were rather creative and that their pranks weren't meant to hurt or humiliate the weak. Furthermore, they were… bearable students in his classroom.
And then… Evan liked them.
"Now, in regards of Christmas planning" Albus interrupted. "Pomona volunteered herself to stay with Severus for the holidays and…"
"I'm not staying this year, Albus" he stated, angry. "Thank you for asking."
"But Severus, you always stayed for the holidays before, there's no reason to change that" Albus countered, a hint of a reproach in his voice.
"That's true I always stayed before" he nodded. "However – he could see Albus' face go tense – as I let one of my colleagues escape their turn every year, I would like to be the one to do so for once" he calmly explained.
"Severus, my boy" – he cringed – "as you said yourself, you always did stay so you must understand that your colleagues have all already planned their holidays. It wouldn't be fair on them to force them to change their plans."
"But it would be fair on me? », he asked, fuming. « I have my own plans with Evan; you just had to ask before making the decisions without my consent. »
« Hogwarts' Christmas are wonderful, Severus" Albus serenely offered. "I'm quite sure that Evan will love the Great Hall decorating and he won't be alone as there are some students who will stay this year."
"No" he firmly stated.
Albus had to give in when Filius offered to stay.
These last months, the headmaster had taken an unhealthy interest in his personal affairs, including Evan. He supposed it was linked to Harry Potter golem's death. Albus had begun to push for answers about Evan: When was he born? Did he like Hogwarts? Why wouldn't he go and visit the Weasleys as he seems to get along with the twins? They had a son his age after all, they could make great friends… He even dared to express his disapprobation about what Strakowski was teaching his son. Severus did have a talk with said tutor about the headmaster's "visit". About the Dark Arts teaching, certainly. He didn't want Evan to learn the Dark Arts. Not yet, at least. He knew he was no example but he could acknowledge his youth mistakes. So he made it clear to Strakowski, who surprisingly agreed, saying that they would just brush the subject and only in theory so Evan would know what the Dark Arts were really about. He would personally teach him later, when he'll be older. Dark Arts were pretty much addictive and it was easier to succumb when one was too young and inexperienced. He knew that personally as his own addiction had blinded and led him to make bad choices with even worse consequences.
Like being branded. And to lose Lily.
He'll teach Evan the true Dark and Lost Arts but with all of the safeguards possible, like the purification rituals and protective totems. He would be careful. This was Lily's child, after all. It was a serious matter. But he still had time. He had talked about it with Evan, making sure that the boy understood that he wasn't to even think of trying alone and without proper guidance. As for the others topics Evan and his tutor were to study, there was nothing to worry about. History, the basics of defense, charms and transfiguration were taught to Draco too and it was only theory because there were no wands at work so he didn't understand Dumbledore's concern. Runes and arithmancy were a different matter altogether and a bit of a surprise to Severus but, if Evan was gifted in these subjects, he wouldn't discourage him just because he was younger than the usual students.
The Potion Master would have liked if Evan had been gifted in the art of potions but he studied and tried his best at least. He'll probably make a decent brewer, he supposed. He wasn't disappointed, it's just that… well, his mother was the one to initiate him to potions and it had been the one thing that he could share with her. It had been their thing, one that Tobias couldn't spoil. He didn't know what he could share with Evan, how to create some kind of bond with him like his mother did with him. He was not into runes or arithmancy. The parenting books all said it was important to spend quality time around a common activity that the both of them liked but… He didn't know what else to do. They walked, on the morning, but it wasn't exactly what he had in mind as a father-son bonding time.
He was at a loss. He was so busy and the few hours he had with Evan were just awkward. He wasn't a talking person and he didn't know what to say to a nine years old. He talked a bit of Evan's studies, of his friendships with Draco and the Evil Twins. He had talked a bit about Lily, as it was torturous for him to remember his mistakes but… What else was he supposed to say? He just didn't know. He didn't feel like a father, just a guardian at the most, he didn't seem to have the same close bond that parents formed naturally with their children. Was it him? Maybe he didn't have what was needed to be a father. Maybe he just wasn't father material. It was something that kept him awake some nights. He had promised he would try. Of course, he didn't expect some kind of miracle but a sense of progress would have been nice, some signs or anything, really.
He felt like a failure with Evan.
And he knew that the boy knew.
But he still wanted to try. He had promised to. That's why he wanted to do something special for their first Yule together. Something that would show the boy that he cared and paid attention. The boy had been learning the Russian language with his tutor with the help of the learning languages spell (or LelaS) and he would offer him to visit Russia with Strakowski as a guide. The man would show them the secrets alleys and shops that the ordinary tourist wouldn't know of. Then, he had made reservation for a little apartment that faced the Volga in St Petersburg. They would celebrate Yule there. Strakowski had declined, having the project to go to the graves of his family to honor them and respect the traditions of the Boudni vetcher (Бъдни вечер) and then the Koleda.
Now, there was the gifts issue. He could ask Narcissa but he knew he would feel guilty of not being able to know what the boy wanted. He could buy him a warm new scarf… No, too practical. Maybe, a book. Yes, that would do it but… what about? Runes? Fiction? History? He wouldn't know which one to choose that would interest Evan… No books then. A toy? A new mind game? A plushy thing? Well… Maybe he could overlook his guiltiness and ask Narcissa. It would be better than to disappoint Evan even if he should expect him to be happy with anything he would receive as it would be his first celebration after al. Still, he didn't want to get it wrong. He could compromise and ask for… Narcissa's advices as much it pained him to resort to this solution as he was sure she would overload him with catalogues, recommendations and other "motherly" tips.
He would do it.
But really, as a last resort..
"Hey, Evan ? Do you know about Harry Potter?" Draco asked, lazily lying on his bed.
"I've read the story, yes" Evan neutrally answered, a bit ill at ease.
"Do you think we will friends with him?" the blond went on, oblivious of his friend's discomfort.
"Why would you want to be his friend?" Evan countered, curious.
"Well… Everyone wants to be Harry Potter's friend. I mean, even if he's a half-blood, he still had defeated the greatest dark wizard since Grindelwald and he's the heir of the Potter lordship. It's an old house, the Potters" the blond tried to explain.
"He could be arrogant and stupid with a big head" the dark haired child retorted. "Would you want to be friend with someone like that?"
"My father said that it's important to have proper allies and you must admit that Potter has the fame and money to hold it. It would be bad to turn my back on him just because he could be an insufferable prat and… You know, I learnt that he was raised far away from the wizarding world, the poor boy and even if he's receiving lessons, it's just not the same. We could help him. I'm a Malfoy after all, I could offer him my hand for proper guidance in this world and your own experiences with the muggles could be proved advantageous there. We could be his two best friends!"
"You seemed to have thoroughly thought about it" Evan said, amused.
"Well…I've read everything about him, you know. I don't believe it all!" he hastily added as Evan raised a brow. "I'm not some fan or anything like that but… He's still a very powerful wizard and he had impressed everyone, even my father and… well" Draco stopped, embarrassed.
"How would you proceed to meet him?" Evan asked in order to put Draco at ease.
"Oh! He's the same age as we are and I thought that he would be in train for Hogwarts at the very same moment we will so I thought about searching for him and then… I prepared a little speech; do you want to hear it?" the blond excitedly offered.
Evan just nodded, infected by the contagious enthusiasm of the other. Draco left the bed to stand, a solemn (and a bit pratish, but Evan would never tell him) air on his face, clearing his throat:
"My name's Malfoy. Draco Malfoy" the blond drawled. "I've heard that the famous Harry Potter was coming to Hogwarts. You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there as people like us needs proper relations."
And then, the boy proudly held out his hand, satisfied with himself. Unable to contain himself any longer, Evan lost it and laughed. As Draco didn't join him, he threw a look at the blond whom seemed rather hurt, his lips pursed. It calmed Evan straight away. He went to reach for Draco's hand, making him sit on the floor before him.
"Was it so bad?" the blond asked, his voice small, his eyes on the floor. "I repeated it for a long time, you know, and I thought I respected all of the rules for a formal presentation. My family name first so he would know how important my family is, then I would acknowledge his own importance as the Boy-Who-Lived so he would know I considered him on an even footing and that even if he wasn't raised in our world it didn't matter as I offered him my help. Where did I go wrong?"
"Draco" Evan softly called. "It wasn't bad but in my opinion, you were trying too hard. We'll all be only eleven. Just be yourself, it will be enough."
"Myself?" the blond replied, uncertain.
Evan, affected by the usually hidden lack of confidence of his friend, took his hand and confessed:
"I won't lie to you, Draco. You know I won't. You're arrogant, selfish, sometimes cruel and mostly a prat but… I wouldn't want another one as my best friend."
"Really?" Draco wondered, incredulous.
"Really. Because I know that behind this mask of a spoiled brat there's someone I can rely on, with whom I can let it go and be myself because I know you will take care of me. I can confide in you and you don't judge me and think of me as weak. You don't mind sharing what you know with me and, even when you're jealous, you still are my best friend. You don't need a Harry Potter to show the world what a great wizard you are, Draco."
In the end, Evan was looking anywhere but toward Draco, embarrassed by his demonstration.
"I think you're a great friend too" the blond whispered, clutching tightly Evan's hand.
Evan raised his head, a small smile playing on his lips. He met Draco's eyes and they both stayed like that until Draco said, releasing the tension:
"It was sappy, wasn't it?" the Malfoy heir chuckled.
"That it was" Evan replied, relieved. "That it was."
"I think we need to do some manly thing to prove we haven't turned into some boring and sissy girls like Pansy so… Quidditch?" the blond proposed, standing.
"You're in!" the dark haired child suddenly exclaimed, running to the door.
"I'm not! You cheated! Evan! I'm not! Come back here!" the blond called, following his friend.
His best friend.
 Veles is a major Slavic supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld, associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth and trickery. As Strakowski is Russian, he uses Veles as the west European uses Merlin.
 Alright, I did cheat a bit, it's not a Russian tradition but a Bulgarian one… But, hey! It's my story, isn't it?
If I don't publish before next year, I wish you all a Happy Christmas and New year!
If you would be so kind as to leave a review, it would be a nice Christmas gift to me!
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