ACK! I'M LATE! I had this mostly written, but it was all scattered because NaNoWriMo does not lend itself well to regulating your stream of consciousness. I got it pieced together in what I hope is a coherent order. It has a lot of bridge-building and foundation setting in it.
Thank you to MischiefManaged33 for betaing this for me and catching the mistakes I left behind! Anything that you may find is of my own fault.
A quick reply to someone who had something I believe was really important, but I couldn't reply to them directly:
Aki: Thank you so much for the constructive criticism! I wish I could reply directly but I'll have to stick it here. I really appreciated it, you pointed out some things I hadn't paid as much attention to as I should have. I think I have a few bits that speak to some of it, but it is something I should pay more attention to. It's really helpful to have it pointed out! Thank you. Jack and Rose especially, I always tell myself I'll have more for them in the story, but I somehow miss it when I go to put the chapter together...I need to keep it in mind more. Harry and the Professors are going to be a process where I need to find the right balance. I'm still working on it, but you have some good points. I do think it's a bit of Harry expecting to always be able to have his say, and struggling to work in a situation where he's surrounding by others who aren't used to it. But he is a little too confrontational. I'm hoping I'll find a good balance for him.
I appreciate everything you've pointed out. It's really helpful to see it from someone else's point of view. I'll work hard on making what I want work right.
And now, ON WITH THE STORY!
~~~In Which this is a Beginning~~~
Monday passed with as little fanfare as possible. Harry knew the professors were more than a bit upset at their disappearing act. Dinner arrived with the news of the Inter-House common room, located near the Library in a relatively unused section of the castle. It was decorated in muted shades of the House colors and boasted half a dozen couches and twice that many armchairs, with desks lining the walls beside bookshelves and supply shelves.
The inter-house common room was not popular at first, except for the six students it was, honestly, designed for. When the announcement had been made about the room and its purpose, Harry had immediately decided that they would meet there, rather than in the common rooms, when they weren't in the Library.
The audible sigh of relief from every single House did not go unnoticed by the staff, though Harry seemed quite oblivious to it.
The four Heads of House were keeping a close eye on the five students who had gone missing for a weekend, searching for anything that might tell them what had occurred. Harry was watched by all as it was, but the five who had become his companions hadn't been as scrutinized before their disappearing act.
It was clear something had happened that weekend.
Neville had certainly changed, gaining some measure of confidence and more magical aptitude than McGonagall thought possible for a single weekend. But other than that obvious rise in power, there wasn't anything obvious.
The six certainly stuck together far tighter than before, and they were a near impenetrable wall of incomprehensibility for every other student. Draco Malfoy paled whenever he looked over at Harry, having retreated to the safety of his House's common room in his free time and sitting as far from the boy as possible when in class.
The rest of the school had started regarding the group with wary respect and, depending on House, awe, jealousy, confusion, or loathing.
While the five who were not Harry were somewhat uncomfortable as the center of attention, it was easier to just ignore it than to give in, and Harry made ignoring it much easier.
Harry, however, had something more worrying to handle. He hadn't yet talked to his dad about the man he had found in his magic and had imprisoned in his mind. He also hadn't stopped by to see if the man was awake, despite several days having passed since the entire fainting incident.
So that evening, when he normally would have been in Astronomy, he retreated to his meditation chamber within the Tardis and, with Pashti curled up in his lap, took off his necklace and sunk into his mind.
The familiar corridors were there, reassuring in their solidity and comfort. He passed them by, heading towards the section he was still debating about warding off. It would have to wait until he had talked to the man. He wasn't sure how someone else took up residence inside his magic, but he intended to find out.
He stood in front of the door, steeling himself, the looked through the window.
The man was definitely awake now, sitting in the armchair Harry had provided for him, contemplating something out the window Harry had installed.
"Hello," he called.
The man jumped, startled, before turning to look at him. He was older, physically, than his father, Rose, and Uncle Jack. His hair was going grey at the temples and his skin was acquiring the wrinkles that human aging left as a reminder of time's passage. His eyes were a vivid blue, not dulled by the age that lined his face. "There is someone else here?"
"Yeah, well, you are in my mind, I would expect me to also be here," Harry replied, curbing a chuckle.
"Your mind? I am not in prison?" Those piercing blue eyes were sharp, and Harry felt himself fidget slightly.
"You don't know where you are?"
"I assumed I was in prison, though not one I have ever seen before, nor one so lacking in guards. But that is obviously a falsehood." There was a long pause. "I did not expect to be in a mind. Tell me, what is your name?"
"I'm Harry. And can't I have the name of the person who has somehow intruded upon my mind?"
Silence, then, "I'm Tom Riddle, Harry. You sound very young."
Harry wrinkled his nose. "Age isn't really important here, considering it is my mind you're locked into. You weren't originally in my mind, though. You were in my magic. I had to remove you before you leeched too much of my magic away."
"I'm sorry, but I swear you just said you moved me from your magic to your mind," Tom said, bewilderment in his voice. "I wasn't aware such a thing was possible."
"Well, I've found with an adequate amount of will, there is very little that is impossible. And I've got plenty of that laying around for the use. Besides, my magical core is quite large. I'm sure that's why you actually appeared as you do, rather than shrunken or malformed. You absorbed enough of my magic to make up for the fact that you are only a small piece of someone else's magic. As to what you were doing latched onto my magic, I have no idea." Harry paused for a moment. "I was hoping you could answer that question."
Tom was quiet, staring at the door he couldn't see through. "What is your name again, child?"
"Harry. I'm the Doctor's son, if that helps any," Harry offered, because sometimes it did.
"No, no, that's not right. I don't know any doctors. That's a muggle term. Are you muggleborn?"
"First generation you mean? No, I'm not. Both of my parents were magical."
There was a sharp intake of breath. "Were?"
Harry shrugged. "Yeah. I mean, I'm not, strictly speaking, dad's biological son, or not completely, but my birth parents were both magical. And my dad's name is the Doctor. It's not a title, or well, it is, but not in the same sense as the non-magical 'doctor'."
"You do know you ramble quite more than is strictly necessary, right?"
"Family trait!" Harry said cheerfully. "So, Tom Riddle, want to tell me what you might have been doing inside my magic? Because you haven't quite gotten around to explaining that bit."
A long sigh, then Tom settled back into the armchair. "I can only speculate, as this is not a situation I expected, nor do I think I can recall just exactly what happened to bring me here. There are holes in my memory, holes I can't really explain adequately." Harry watched Tom tap against the chair. "I suppose you can think of me as part of a soul, mistakenly removed and having latched onto the closest magical supply to support myself."
Harry tilted his head. "A piece of someone's soul? Isn't that fairly unstable magic? I mean, a soul isn't something to play around with, and I imagine ripping a soul would be detrimental to the health of the original soul. With less and less of the soul existing within the body of the original, there would be drastic personality changes and moments of instability and a lack of concrete planning."
Tom gave the door a long, considering look. "You are far more intelligent than a child your age should be, judging by your voice. Unless I am dealing with a child vampire, or something similar."
Harry laughed, feeling the amusement spread through him like quickfire. "I am no vampire, or any other immortal creature. I leave that sort of stuff to Rose and Uncle Jack. They're better at handling it than I ever would be."
Tom seemed to take this in. "You are strange," he finally replied.
"If I had a star for everytime someone told me that, I would have my own personal galaxy at this rate," Harry mused. "But really, I don't think the person who tore their soul apart gets to judge me for weirdness."
"I can't place who you are. I feel like I should know you, somehow, but I don't and it's frankly a little frustrating." Tom glared at the door he couldn't see through, though he was aware that he could be seen.
There was a pause, then the door seemed to shimmer, warp, and turn into a startlingly clear version of itself.
A child stood on the other side, no more than a first or second year Hogwarts student. He wasn't dressed in robes and wore no House insignia. His eyes were a shocking green, brighter than even the Killing Curse he favored for its swiftness. His hair, inky black, curled slightly at the ends and was longer than Tom thought boys should keep their hair. His skin was tan, almost bordering on having spent far too long in the sun, and pulled tight over a small frame. His face was all cheekbones and jawline, and Tom thought he would grow up well.
And there was a nagging familiarity in that face, those eyes, that he wasn't able to place right away. Something he should know...
"If you stare at me any longer, you might actually burn a hole through the door," Harry joked, and Tom was dragged out of his thoughts.
"Boy, who were your birth parents?" he snapped.
An eyebrow rose, and Harry crossed his arms. "Why is it so important? I mean, I don't actually remember them, I was too young to have concrete memories. All I have are scattered bits of their voices and a couple memories tainted by having been just over a year when they were killed. And actually having a loving, if danger-attracting, parent means I didn't exactly dwell on their loss. I was too young to really understand at the time what happened."
Tom hissed. This child, telling so much and nothing at all. It was frustrating, not even his most subversive followers had been so meandering with their words. "Because, child, I might be able to tell you how I got here," he grated out.
Immediately Harry's face cleared and he grinned. "Ah, well, you know, if you had actually said that, I would have been more willing to answer the question. Being snappy and impatient is a really good way to never get anything you want done, or at least not done properly." Harry grinned. "My mum was Lily, and my dad was James. They were killed when I was a year and several months old."
Tom tried to silence the growl that demanded their last names. Harry hadn't even given his last name, he might not know it, but he had to know, because he had his suspicions. "What is your last name?" he asked, trying to keep his tone even. Being a prisoner made one reconsider their stance on blatant rudeness.
The utter confusion on Harry's face was a shock. "Last name? I don't have one...are you referring to that weird tradition when a child receives part of their name from one of their parents? Since Uncle Jack is Jack Harkness, he said his name was passed down his mother's line, though Rose says hers is from her fathers. Is there a consensus on who gets to give the child their last name? Does the last name actually hold any meaning? I mean, being the child of someone is rather enough, wouldn't you think? Why put a label on them claiming them? They're gonna grow up into their own person at some point, you know."
Tom swore he had never heard someone ramble quite so much. "Yes, I am referring to that long-held and closely valued tradition of giving a child their father's name, usually," he said, finally finding a lull in the boy's speech to get a word in edgewise.
Harry nodded. "I thought as much. Well, dad says my birth mum was Lily Evans and my birth dad was James Potter. Probably why everyone wants to call me a potter. I'm not a potter. I don't do plants, and I think by now I've made my skill in herbology abundantly clear to everyone. Why anyone would even consider calling me a potter after those disastrous herbology lessons, I have no idea."
There was a buzzing ring of silence around him, Tom thought. Something blocking out the noise, the overwhelming ring of silence pushing anything not it beyond his attention.
He was stuck in the mind of Harry Potter.
The child he had tried to kill.
The Prophecy Child.
How could this have happened? How could he have created a horcrux and placed it inside the body of a barely toddler? What in the seven hells had gone wrong that night? And why could he not remember?
"Oh please don't tell me there's a prophecy here too," he heard break through his self-imposed wall of silence. "Please. Please please please don't tell me that there's a prophecy. Because I really can't take another one of those interfering in my life. They're inconvenient and frustrating and when made by magical folk really hard to circumvent. And I do my best to circumvent them."
He whipped around, staring open-mouthed at the child complaining beyond his prison. He wasn't sure when he got his feet under him, when he approached the door to stare down at the boy, but he was there, looking down at his doom, complaining about the very thing that led to this entire situation.
"You hate prophecies?" he managed to ask, somehow forgetting all the other questions that had swirled around his mind when he heard Harry complain, wondering briefly if he had spoken everything out loud.
Those too-green eyes looked up at him, frustration clear in their depths. "I loathe them. They're more trouble than they're worth and they rarely have any clarity to them. It's guesswork and hoping that you've worked out the right meaning. And then there's those prophecies that are self-fulfilling. They're almost more like warnings than prophecies. Really, they only become prophecies if one party acts on the information contained. And they're the worse, because they really shouldn't have been labeled prophecies in the first place."
Tom stared at the boy, Harry. "What's the difference between a prophecy and a self-fulfilling prophecy?" he demanded.
Harry sighed, rubbing his head. "You're more trouble than you're worth if you acted on a self-fulfilling prophecy and dragged me into it. I had no say, I was a baby, and yet you go and drag an infant into the worst thing to come out of magic since magical humans, mostly, decided they only needed one kind of focus and literally cut your power in half." Harry massaged his temples. "Self-fulfilling prophecies are usually given by a seer, someone with connections to the Lay Lines that tend to be stronger than others, and usually a magical tie that centers around the Occipital Lobe and the Lateral Frontal Pole, enough so that the latter is actually double the size of those found in the normal human brain. A seer who gives True Prophecy gives something with specific events, something that can be planned for, usually. Or if the seer is particularly inclined to flowery vocabulary there might be too much poetry to be sure until after the event has passed.
"A self-fulfilling prophecy, on the other hand, comes more as a kind of heralding of something, or a warning. Where True Prophecy gives the event, good or bad, without options, self-fulfilling prophecy comes with some kind of option or warning." Harry looked at Tom Riddle. "I'm betting you heard the latter."
Tom Riddle might have been looking down at his captor, but he felt like the boy was enormous. The amount of knowledge that just spilled out of his lips was...he wasn't sure it was possible, to be honest. "I am unsure," he finally admitted. "I was only told half the prophecy, as my spy was discovered before they heard the whole thing."
Tom swore the child was looking like he wanted to reach through the door and strangle him. He actually felt a bit threatened. "So you decided to, what, try and kill a toddler because of half of what was probably a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't think I've ever heard of something so ludicrous, and I grew up on the Tardis," Harry growled. "You must have ripped your soul into tiny bits to do something so foolish. That's the only thing I can think to have happened."
"It was given by a known descendant of a famous line of seers," Tom said, feeling the need to defend his choices.
"Which is foolish. Relying on a line of seers. Like that actually works. Seeing might be hereditary, but not every single generation inherits it. In fact, it would be a bit odd for successive family members to inherit the Sight. It's more common for it to skip a couple generations." Harry groaned, rubbed his head. "Dad's gonna be so pleased to hear about this. I hate prophecies, and he hates them more than I do. And you, you are a problem we're going to have to deal with. Now that you aren't in my magic, I don't have headaches whenever I'm near Quirrell, so I solved the initial problem. But you just dumped a whole other problem on me. How am I supposed to handle a soul piece and look into this incomplete prophecy and work with my friends on their magical cores and get my homework done and work on the roller coaster?" Harry glared at Tom. "You have really shitty timing, I hope you know that."
Tom felt mildly insulted. "I've been here for years and now I have bad timing?" he said, affronted. "Shouldn't you have handled this before?"
"I didn't even know you were here until two weeks ago. You've never been a problem before, but then Quirrell started making my head hurt, and my focus told me it was because of you, and then I drained my magic quite significantly and you got a firmer foothold into it, and then I had to do something about you, so really, I didn't intend for this to happen either," Harry told him. "And now I have to leave. If you want something to do, I put some of my favorite fantasy books on the shelves. You're unlikely to get into trouble with those, at least." Harry gestured towards the formerly empty bookshelves, now with several shelves covered in books. "I'll be back later Tom."
Then Harry pulled himself out of his mind and back into the real Tardis, petting Pashti absently.
"Dad's not going to be happy," he finally said.
Pashti just nuzzled up against him.
~~~~In which This is a Scene Change~~~
Not happy was an understatement.
"You have a WHAT in your mind?" the Doctor nearly shouted, eyes wide in horror.
"A piece of someone's soul. Their name's Tom Riddle, if that helps. And apparently, they acted on some kind of prophecy, though he doesn't know if it was self-fulfilling or not. I would bet on the former. I mean, why else attack a child?"
The Doctor rubbed his temples. "Tell me from the beginning. You're starting somewhere near the middle of this. So, once again, your focus narrowed down the problem you were having with Quirrell."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, and they figured out it was something leeching off my magic, and after that scuffle with the Brun, it was able to get a firmer foothold. So they needed me to handle it. I moved it from my magic to my mind, cause I could actually section it off there, and it turned from a black sphere to a person. But I didn't have time to talk with them until today. They said their name's Tom Riddle and that I'm some sort of Prophecy Child, though I don't know if they intended to say that last bit out loud." Harry put his hands on his hips, the air of affront all over him. "Tom acted on a prophecy that wasn't even complete and was most likely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because it has to be one of those."
The Doctor closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. "So a piece of someone's soul was latched onto your magic, and you moved it into your mind, because that was a better idea?" he clarified. He was really trying to avoid the prophecy and everything that word implied when it came to Harry.
"Well, it was either that or let it continue to leech off my magic. And my head hasn't hurt since I moved it, not even when Quirrell stares right at me." Harry's smile was small. "I mean, not the best solution, but I don't mind the results."
"What did the soul piece look like when it appeared as a person?" the Doctor asked, holding back a sigh.
"Physically older than you, bright blue eyes, pale skin begging for more time in the sun, male in form, to my eyes at least, seeing as there weren't any human-norm female appendages. And the name Tom is generally male on Earth, right?" Harry cocked his head at his dad.
"Usually yes. So, an older human male, blue eyes, pale skin, and...dark hair? Light hair?"
"Dark, going gray," Harry said.
The Doctor jotted it down. "Anything else relevant?"
Harry paused. "Well, until I told Tom James' and Lily's last names, everything was more or less fine, but the moment I said anything, Tom's face got even paler. Like, are you okay, do you need to go outside? pale." Harry shook his head. "I just don't get the last name thing, but whatever. And that's when he said I was a prophecy child." Harry screwed up his face in disgust.
The Doctor sighed. "We're going to have to sit down with you one day and explain traditions of the culture you were born into," the Doctor said, trying to suppress a smile. "I don't think I did enough work with you on that."
"Why? I mean, it's not like I'm actually going to live here or something," Harry said.
"Yes, but understanding traditions also helps you understand why some things are the way they are, and the best way to go about fixing them," the Doctor pointed out.
Harry groaned. "Why do you have to be so logical?" he muttered.
"Because otherwise, you run roughshod over everyone and everything around you," his dad said, quite reasonably. "Now, I'm going to look into soul pieces and any information this planet and time might have on them before I go searching through other planets and times. You blockade that section of your mind quite thoroughly. I don't need anything leaking out from that soul piece into you, understand?"
Harry gulped and nodded. "I'll be thorough," he promised. "And about that prophecy…"
The Doctor sighed. "I'll look into it, Harry. I have my suspicions. Just give me some time. Now, remember. Ward that section of your mind well, and make sure this Tom is cut off from your magic."
"I'll make sure, promise."
"Good. Now, it's late and you have class tomorrow morning and some research of your own, I suspect. Transfiguration or something of the sort, right?"
"Yep! I wanted to check some of the limits of transfiguration, what you can and can't do with certain spells, the like."
"Don't blow up anything important, do your experimenting away from my labs, okay?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "I know, I know. I'll probably use the common room the headmaster set up."
"Good. Now, bed."
~~~In Which This is a Scene Change~~~~
Tom Riddle was contemplative. It was not a state he was familiar with, not in recent memory. But somehow, being in close proximity to, of all people Harry Potter, was enough to return some measure of his mental processes that he can recall having vanished. Was it really the fact that he had absorbed the boy's magic? Leeched off it? How was that even possible? A Horcrux should have been shielded against influence by the host, in the case of a living thing being used as a container. It shouldn't have been able to mix with Harry Potter's magical core. That was a recipe for disaster, where the Horcrux could either be subsumed and absorbed into the host, or destroyed, or even, if the host wasn't mentally or magically strong enough, to take over.
But what Harry Potter had done, moving him from his magical core (where he shouldn't have been, Merlin's balls), to his mindscape, was not something that should have even been possible. There was a reason they were two separate entities, mental and magical. To intermix could be disastrous.
Not that anything about the Potter boy was remotely normal. His intelligence, for one, astounded him. A grown adult lauded as a genius, stunned by the brilliance of an eleven-year-old (if he was eleven). He was confident, holding himself far more surely than any child had the right to. And he was unafraid to state his opinions loudly and pointedly.
It was the oddest thing Tom Riddle had encountered. And now that he was stuck here, unable to leave, he would have to contend with the boy more often.
He had tried to leave, prodded at the door (a solid layer of something hard and opaque, a stone of some kind? He wasn't sure) but it was fused with the walls, as if it just happened to be a clear section of them.
The windows too were the same, not actually set against anything, just parts of the wall that weren't...wall colored.
The furniture he had been provided was comfortable, but also part of the floor. It wasn't movable. In fact, the only things he could move were books, pens, papers, and any small, miscellaneous object that was laying around, and the single chair in front of the desk.
He had perused the books, topics ranging from the Universe to the biology of Earth Animals to Magic's Origins. He had expected them to be blank or poor summaries of the original, as books in a mental landscape were just memories of the original, but he was surprised to find them intact, nearly complete in their information, aside from what seemed to be a few fuzzy pictures that must not have stuck as well.
Tom wondered what kind of child had read all these books, and just how he remembered them. He was no more than twelve, no more than a second year, but to have accumulated this amount of knowledge was astonishing.
He had the book on the Origins of Magic open when his captor made himself known.
"Hey Tom, glad to see my books being put to good use," he said, grinning.
Tom raised an eyebrow. "Your books?" he queried.
"Yep. I wrote at least a quarter of those. It's easier to store memories of a book when you wrote it, you know," he said, shrugging.
Tom wasn't sure if Harry was joking or not. He decided to ignore that fact for the moment. There were more pressing things to deal with. "Are you planning on keeping me in here forever?" he said, sounding mildly insulted by the thought of it.
"Well, until I know for sure why I have a piece of your soul in my head, one that seems far more intact now than it was when it was put here, you're going to be my permanent guest. Though now you get a bit more freedom, I suppose. Being a sphere of pure power that feeds off of magic has got to be rather boring, you know."
"Being stuck in a room is also rather boring," Tom pointed out.
"Well, you could just change the windows. I mean, they're not pointing at anything specific. But I did add my memories of movies I watched to them, so you could watch movies for a bit. It'll run out at some point, but they're good movies," Harry said.
"I'm beginning to think you're a bit insane," Tom said dryly.
"Only now?" Harry grinned. "That's a record. Usually that's the first thing out of someone's mouth when they meet me."
"I wonder why."
"Oh, I was meaning to ask, why exactly were you attacking a helpless baby, and what exactly made you stop? I mean, I wasn't a threat at barely a year old," Harry asked. "What kind of prophecy endangers a child?"
"Your parents were the main problem, and you had been prophesized to defeat me. I might have been more than just a bit unstable by the end," Tom mused. "I must have also become a bit more honest," he muttered.
Harry laughed. "You don't know as much about the mental realm as you think. It operates by the creator's rules, and my first and absolute rule is honesty. You can choose not to say something, but if you say anything, it must be truth. Most of the time that's just for me, so I can't lie to myself about something important when I'm having troubles, but it also applies to any other minds inside my mental palace." He spun in a circle, gesturing around him. "I don't get to test it with others all too often. Dad's not fond of 'invading my mind' as he puts it, and Rose and Uncle Jack can't do mental magics. So it's only the occasional crazy megalomaniac with some measure of mental skills or magic that manage it. I'm glad to see it's a long term thing as well."
Tom couldn't stop the shock from engulfing him. "You can do that?" he breathed.
"Of course," Harry said, looking perplexed. "It's your mind, your rules. Why else would it be yours? A bit of magic and force of will, and you can do just about anything. I should know, I've done quite a lot of things people keep saying I shouldn't be able to do." Harry shrugged, like he hadn't just shattered Tom's entire view of occlumency.
"Have you ever done any research on Occlumency?" he asked, trying to keep the shock from his tone.
"I've been told I should look into it, but I rely on techniques developed for primarily human brain types, though I work in some of my dad's techniques cause I can, and a few more esoteric ones that allow me more control over what I want to do. Human mind techniques deal more with memory and recall, I needed far more finesse." Harry bounced on his feet. "Something I'm going to put in place with you. I need to make sure your influence can't spread beyond this sealed off portion of my mind. I'm taking extra precautions as I don't know what kind of effects you could have, consciously or not, while you're here and I would rather not find out the hard way. So until I can figure out a way to get you out, I'm upping the security on this section of my mind. It'll be a bit suffocating, possibly. I'm not sure, you'll have to tell me, but it's necessary. I'd apologize, but you were the one who put a piece of your soul in me, so," he shrugged.
Tom frowned. "It was not intentional, I assure you. Otherwise this could never have happened. A Horcrux should not have mixed with a magical core. There are devastating consequences if something goes wrong, so I never bothered trying it. Safeguards must be in place if using a live host for a horcrux, and I obviously didn't bother when I made...well, me," he gestured at himself.
"So you're called a Horcrux...that's good to know. A place to start research," Harry mused. "Well, no matter what you did, it wouldn't have been any good. My magical core is much too big for you to have placed it somewhere else."
"I would ask, but the explanation is going to be something I don't believe and then I'm going to have to ask you to stop speaking, so I'll just avoid it all together." Tom waved a hand. "Do what you must. Oh, and if I was reacting to someone else's presence enough to cause you pain, I would suggest that as a starting place for figuring out how to get rid of me," he said offhandedly.
"Thanks! I'll be back later." Then Harry faded from existence, and Tom felt something pressing down all around him. As if he were in a sauna, the heat oppressive by its very presence. But there was no heat, just the pressure.
He could get used to it, he supposed.
He was also going to figure out what kinds of movies Harry Potter had stored away in his mind.
~~~~In which this is a scene break~~~~
They were in Potions, and Snape looked like he wanted to upturn Harry's cauldron on him. Probably would have, if they weren't dealing with potentially explosive ingredients today.
The rest of the class had literally taken shelter behind their desks and the professor and the student who refused to back down glared at each other.
"You cannot start adding whatever you feel like adding as if this were cooking and your cauldron a pot of water!" Snape shouted. "This is against every law of basic common sense and potioneer's rule guidebook!"
"Then you should maybe consult your precious guidebook and see how new potions were made," Harry said, face hard. "You can't deny that I have created the asked for potion every single time."
"Yes, but those were potions that were relatively harmless, with the worst outcome possibly being a skin rash for whomever happened to get splashed! This potion could explode if handled poorly!"
"If you were so concerned with how I made potions, why only intervene now, after I've shown you that I'm able to handle myself?" Harry retorted. "You let me have free reign for weeks over what I wanted to do, but you stepping in only now, after I've proved myself several times over?"
"Because this is a matter of you possibly blowing yourself and your classmates up if you mess up! Magical Scorpion Tails and Fire Salamander blood are highly reactive and corrosive ingredients if not handled properly!" Snape felt himself coming apart.
Harry had walked into class with the Slytherins and Gryffindors, automatically pairing with Neville Longbottom, whose grades were steadily improving. Snape had started the lecture out reminding everyone that they were handling dangerous ingredients today and that if there was one instance of dunderheaded foolishness, it was detention for a week.
Then Harry had pulled out that damn box of his and started taking out ingredients, one by one, for the potion set out for the day, one designed to invigorate skin growth.
He felt the horror creep over him as Harry pulled out ingredients that were far more dangerous than the ones he had set the class to work with. Fire Salamander Blood! Where had he even gotten that stuff? It wasn't available to anyone below Potions Apprentice for a reason!
Harry huffed. "Yes, it's dangerous, but only if you're stupid about handling it, and you have had weeks to make sure I'm not stupid when handling materials." He glared at the Potion's Master. "You're making entirely too big a fuss about this."
Snape felt the urge to strangle the boy take over him and he had to clench his fists by his sides to stop himself. "You are eleven years old and handling things masters barely deem their apprentices able to handle! I don't know where you got a hold of it or why your father even allowed you to have the stuff, but I cannot allow you to use it in my classroom! Use the materials every other student here will be using!" He glared Harry down, not giving an inch.
There was silence, a tense, snapping silence filled with an increase in magical pressure.
Finally, Harry sighed. "Fine, since you seem to be having such an issue with it, I'll figure out how to do it without the Fire Salamander blood. Though really, you are overreacting." Harry picked up the vial containing the burning red liquid and slid it back into his box.
"I am hardly overreacting when your choice of ingredient could literally destroy half the classroom," Snape sniped back. "And I will be providing you with a list of all ingredients I refuse to allow anyone not in my NEWT classes to handle, and I expect you to stick to the list. If you can't I will find a way to make detention for a month stick, even if I have to drag you to your father and explain the situation to him. I'm sure he'll be less than impressed that you put your classmates in danger just because you didn't feel like working with a recipe."
Harry barely resisted paling. His dad would certainly be more than just upset. "I wasn't going to screw the potion up," he muttered.
"It's not the intention, but Fire Salamander's Blood is on the restricted list for a reason." Snape was feeling the tension die down as Harry pulled out a less dangerous substance. "You'll get the list by the beginning of your next class with me." He looked around, eyebrow raised at the sight of the entire class hiding behind the furthest desks. "We don't have all day to do this potion, get to work."
The students scrambled to obey as Harry started directing Neville to prepare the ingredients.
There were whispers floating around the class.
"You know, your reputation as that weird kid with authority issues has just been upgraded to scary kid who doesn't know the meaning of authority," Blaise whispered to Harry. "What possessed you to argue with Professor Snape like that? You two had been getting along pretty well the last couple weeks." Pretty well was relative, as Snape decided that the better part of valor was ignoring Harry as best he could when his attempts to intimidate him had failed.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I don't usually work with a partner, or anyone else. It didn't seem unreasonable to me to use Fire Salamander Blood in the potion, as it provides the quickest way to remove dead skin cells, and the cleanest, in my opinion. Professor Snape may act like he hates the lot of you, but he doesn't want accidents to happen, and apparently my ingredient choice was more likely explode the classroom than it was to work effectively." He privately thought he could have gotten it to work, but Snape looked like he might just explode so Harry conceded the point. He could figure out another way.
"You and Professor Snape don't really get along, do you?" Hermione asked. "I mean, he lets you do what you want, but he also glares at you whenever you get the potion right."
"He's not used to people who can actually think their way around a potions set. I like it, it's relaxing and an easy way to test my recall ability." Harry shrugged.
The class finished with only one student (a Slytherin girl) splashing some on her arm. The boils that sprung up were painful, and Snape glared her out into the hallway with a friend to go to the Hospital Wing.
~~~~In Which This is a Scene Change~~~~
Harry had taken over part of the inter-house common room and erected barriers that kept out onlookers. Within, puffs of smoke, what was assumed to be cursing in several different languages, and occasional fits of laughter, emerged.
No one was really brave enough to go see what Harry was up to.
But when he showed up to Transfiguration, the Slytherin/Gryffindor class, because, in McGonagall's mind that class was doomed to be the worst class in her entire history of teaching at Hogwarts, it was with a smirk and a glint.
"Professor," he started out, before she had even begun her lecture.
McGonagall turned to him with trepidation. "Yes, Harry," she said, a note of warriness in her voice.
"I've figured out why exactly you seem to think that spells can only do certain things. Or why you say some things can't be done with transfiguration."
"I'm really thinking I shouldn't ask, but since you have brought the subject up and I suspect you won't drop it, please explain." She was really regretting that phrase the moment Harry's eyes gleamed.
"So, we talked before about how intent is the most important part of a spell, right? How wanting the spell to do what you ask of it is the most important part of casting a spell. There should be a connection between the words you speak, the movements you make, and the thoughts you have, to make a spell work. You can leave out the words or the movements if you have enough sheer power, but it's easier with both. They create a kind of pattern your magic follows, so that once you've laid the groundwork with a spell, casting it successfully and managing to produce the desired result, the pattern is reinforced, so you can start casting it automatically, without needing the same intention. So your magic falls into a pattern. Your expectations for the spell create the end result because that is how a pattern works. You have traced over those paths so many times that it's become ingrained. Straying from that path is nearly impossible, because it requires a new kind of intention. Like carving a new path for a river. Sure, a bit of the water will flow that way, but most of it won't because that's not the way it's been going for ages. If you work at it, though, you can. You can change the way the river flows."
McGonagall tried to process what Harry was saying, his gestures grand, his eyes alight in passion. It made some sense, if she thought about it. But it also implied a fundamental flaw in how she learned magic, in how she believed magic worked.
Which didn't sit well with her. "So you're saying that with intention, you can change the desired outcome of a spell? I highly doubt you could use the spell to transform a matchstick into a needle to change the matchstick into a mouse," she said pointedly.
Harry waved his hands. "I don't mean that at all, though you could, but I don't recommend it, as it would more likely burn out your magical pathways than it would work. What I mean is, a small deviation, creating a throwing needle instead of a sewing needle, or something else similar, something that has the same general shape or function as the original outcome, would be possible. You do remember Scribblifors, yes?"
She nodded. "You created an ink pen rather than a feathered quill."
"Yes. Both have the same function, to write. They're both similar in shape, long and narrow. So it isn't hard to change the intention."
"You mentioned something about how this handles things people think can't be done with transfiguration," McGonagall pointed out.
"Yes, yes, some of your Laws that can't be done. The food one is sort of amusing. I did manage to get a piece of fruit, but it was rather poisonous, so I don't count it as success. I'm sure I'll figure something out about that, though. But the other ones."
McGonagall tried to keep her face stern. "Gamp's Laws are not to be played about with, young man. They are in place for a reason. The food one may seem trivial, but raising the dead or creating money are not things to be trifled with." McGonagall was seriously considering how much Fire Whiskey she needed to order at this point. Harry was fraying her nerves.
"He set up barriers in the shared common room, Professor," Padma pointed out. "None of us could get past them."
McGonagall gave her a long look. Padma shuffled in her seat but remained firm. "Be that as it may, what possessed you to fiddle with laws of Elemental Transfiguration? Those are not things to be played with! And you failed to inform me about these experiments!"
Harry raised a hand in supplication. "I didn't touch the one about raising the dead, I'm not that foolhardy. Besides, dad would certainly take me apart molecule by molecule if he found out I was messing with stuff like that. And I didn't have anyone recently cursed with dark magic, or anyone cursed at all, to touch that one, but the others were fair game."
McGonagall held back the groan that she really wanted to express. This child, this eleven-year-old, who was definitively not eleven mentally, had played around with fundamental laws of magic, in the castle, and no one thought to inform her, or even tell a teacher. "This is not what I wanted to hear. And this class is not the time to discuss it. We will bring it up later, when I'm sure you can't corrupt your classmates."
Harry crossed his arms, frowning. "Why?"
"Because, you are talking about not just magic deemed impossible by the general public, but magic that is dangerous to fiddle around with. And it's almost December, and I am not about to send students home with any ideas on how they could possibly blow themselves up over the holidays. So, Harry, we will discuss this later. And your apparent inability to find a responsible adult when you decide to experiment with dangerous magic." McGonagall felt her hold on her temper slip, and she tightened it.
Harry was practically oblivious to his impact on others. She wondered, at first, if he was deliberately dragging his friends into mess after mess after chaotic situation after disaster zone. But he wasn't she now realized. He had no clue that it was him, his sheer force of personality, that attracted his friends to him, that made them do insane things.
Just earlier this week, she caught Padma Patil and Blaise Zabini, during the class Harry was not part of, experimenting with the spell they had been set. They had reasoned that, since Harry managed it, they should be just fine. And she honestly couldn't say if that was true or not, but it was only after their triumphant shout from across the room, followed nearly immediately by a burst of smoke that turned both of them coal black, that she realized what they had been doing.
They had been given the task of transfiguring a smaller object, in this case a rod of wood, into something larger, though still made of wood.
In their thinking, they had turned the little piece of wood into a wood burning stove, complete with flames, chimney, and heat. It was impressive, utilizing more creativity than she had thought eleven-year-olds possessed.
The following billow of smoke as the flames consumed all the wood at once, subsequently extinguishing itself in a puff of black dust, was amusing.
But that relatively harmless transfiguration could soon turn far more dangerous once they moved onto more advanced subjects.
And Harry was there, waiting to usher his friends into those subjects with a cheery grin and the words that nothing was impossible if you used enough magic and intention.
And it would end up with one of them hurting themselves, and Harry was entirely oblivious to it.
She clenched her jaw, unclenched it, sighed, heaved a breath, then looked at the boy she was finding less and less of Lily and James in. "Harry, we will be having a long talk, alone, when class is over. There are several things you need to be made aware of, and right now is not the time. Stay after class. Mr. Zabini, Ms. Patil, your presence won't be necessary. You can wait in the hallway for him."
Harry gave her a baffled look, clearly lost for words. Her attitude shift had thrown him for a loop, and she was grateful for the little things. She would take all she could get.
Class ended with Harry having turned the teacup they had been given into an extravagant box meant to hold who knows what, and his friends had managed similar odd feats.
She was glad no one had fainted, blown anything up, or otherwise caused harm to anyone else.
"Alright, Professor, I'm here," Harry said, curiosity in his eyes.
McGonagall took a deep breath. "You are dangerous, Harry," she said, cutting to the point.
"Dangerous. Not just to yourself, but to your friends. You encourage feats of magic that are beyond most adults, and you make it seem easy. As if breathing were more of a challenge."
Harry looked baffled. "I'm confused. You're saying my ability to do magic easily is dangerous to my friends?"
"I'm saying you encourage them to do things beyond their scope. You push the boundaries of fundamental transfiguration, and they don't even know those fundamentals."
"I don't either," Harry pointed out. "And I do just fine."
McGonagall's face was stern, "You have an abnormal amount of magic at your disposal. More than your friends could hope to have. And you have more control over your magic than most adults I've met."
Harry frowned. "Why is that a problem?"
"Because, Harry, magic takes time to mature. It isn't something that comes fully formed and ready to use. It matures with the user. Magic is influenced by the life of the user. The more danger, the more honed the magic is, responding quickly to spells. This is seen in fighters and duelists. But I see those same reactions in you, an eleven-year-old, who has no business having so much magic or such reaction times. Your magic is nearly instantaneous. And you encourage your friends with the same ideas you apply to your magic." McGonagall was trying to press the importance of this.
"But...I don't. I don't press anything. If they ask for help, I give them advice. I encourage them to use their magic, but that's no different from what you lot are doing."
"You encourage them by giving them impossible tasks. Or seemingly impossible tasks!" McGonagall said, leashing her frustration.
Harry shook his head. "It's only impossible because you've only learned that way. Magic isn't something that is ever so specific as to function one way."
"I have been seeing that the longer you are in my classes, but your magical control is astounding and your intelligence is frightening. And your lack of awareness in regards to danger scares me. Because with your power and your intelligence, not being able to distinguish what is or isn't dangerous to your friends and yourself is a prospect I do not see ending well."
Harry paused, frowning. "I don't get what you mean. We're in a school. A place of learning, exploring, experimenting. Something I've been doing all my life, but here it's for magic. Dad doesn't let me explore magic on the Tardis, I broke too many things before, but here I can! And I know safety protocols. I take precautions."
"The entire point is, Harry, that you lead by example. Your existence is encouragement enough for your friends to start poking at magic in ways that are dangerous."
"And you suggest I fix this how? I can't change who I am. And they know the dangers of messing about with magic...or they should. I learned the hard way once. There is a reason language is integral to how a spell is presented. And there is a reason I know that." Harry's face darkened for a moment.
"You may have learned about those dangers, Harry, but your friends have just started their magical education. They are just now starting on things you seem to have mastered long before now." McGonagall's eyes were hard, unyielding.
"Don't you all teach them those dangers? I mean, just tossing a bunch of eleven-year-olds with magic wands at spells seems counterproductive."
"We can teach them, but many disregard them until they have had an experience that shows just how important they are. A situation you must have already faced, as you have said."
Harry grimaced. "Yes, well, I was stupid and young. I'm much less so now."
"You have shown none of that knowledge in my class. Instead, you blatantly ignore the laws of transfiguration and just...do what you want. The spell today, for instance, was intended to create a box. The focus of the spell was the size. I intended for you to make a box larger than the material provided would create without magic. You went and decided to fashion something extravagant, designed by deft hands and intricate patterns with materials not made of wood. And then you turned and taught your friends how to do the same thing. Do you know how much magic it takes to focus a spell like that so precisely?"
"Yes, I am aware. And I know how to focus my intention properly so that I can use my magic to the best possible degree."
McGonagall nodded. "And do your friends know it? And were you planning on teaching it to them before they burn out their magical pathways when they try something beyond their level?"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "How little magic do you think they have? Neville's got a tremendous amount of magic, and Hermione's is all bubbling underneath the surface. Padma's is cool power, Blaise is all sharp edges and opaque, and Susan's is bright and bouncy, for lack of a better term. They have such potential, but they have to be pushed. Just letting them stay at the status quo would be a disservice."
McGonagall growled in frustration. "One of your friends is going to get hurt, and then you'll have to confront how dangerous your methods are," she said, voice low.
"My friends are fine. They don't really do anything overmuch to push their magic."
"Just...take more precautions when you push your friends. I would hate to see them succumb to burnout. They are talented and eager to learn. And your obliviousness to danger is guiding them faster down a path I never intended first years to walk." She sighed. "As for the borderline illegal messing about you've done with Gamp's Laws, come see me this weekend. I want to see exactly what you've done and how you are doing it. I have a class in just a few moments otherwise I would have you show me now."
~~~~In Which this is a Scene Change~~~~
It was Saturday, and the sextet were currently all split up, though more by circumstance than choice.
Hermione and Padma huddled in a corner of the Inter-House common room, voices low. "What did you do exactly?" Padma asked.
"I just sort of...searched. I mean, not in a physical sense. Like, thinking of every part of my body. Just a bit at a time, mentally thinking about each spot, until I could feel a tingle. It was all...fuzzy. Like...like a really shaggy carpet. But more bubbly."
"Alright. Easier to close my eyes, I guess."
"It helped me," Hermione offered.
Padma shut her eyes, trying to contemplate how to go about...thinking around one's body.
She decided to start at her toes. Just think about your toes she thought to herself. Your toes...feet...ankles...calves...knees...thighs...hips...waist...stoma...what is that?
"That would be your core," Padma heard Hermione say. "Oh...sorry. You...you said that out loud."
Padma waved a hand at her, silence.
That feeling was...fuzzy. Really fuzzy. How could she have ever missed this? It was like that sensation when her hand or foot just decided to not work. Blankness.
"What now?" Padma asked, keeping her voice soft.
"I'm...not sure. I've only just found it myself," Hermione said. "But...I've poked at mine. It's sort of...reacted. Like, sent out more magic. And I felt more energized."
Padma hesitantly sent her thoughts towards the fuzzy feeling, thinking of poking it, then feeling it react.
Her limbs vibrated and her eyes shot open. "That...that is weird." She had to check to make sure her hair wasn't standing on end.
"But magic is almost...easier after you poke at it. Like, it doesn't take nearly as much effort to do a spell, even a new spell!" Hermione's eyes lit up. "That must be why Harry never has any issues with spells. He said his core was not bound, so he must feel like that all the time!"
"How could he exist like that? I feel like I rubbed my feet on the carpet then touched the door handle. Except it doesn't hurt, it just feels all...shakey."
Hermione grinned. "Non-magicals have electricity, that might be what you're thinking of. It reminded me of that time we played around with electro-magnets in science and I touched something I shouldn't have and I zapped myself, except it doesn't hurt, it's just that strange, shocky sensation."
"Exactly." Padma frowned. "So, is it safe to poke at it?"
"Well, Harry's doing just fine. I mean, he does better than anyone else in class every single time we practice a new spell. It must do some good."
"So...wanna try it again, then cast a spell?" Padma grinned at Hermione as she waiting for the answer.
It was the same grin, reflected back, that told her Hermione was more than up for this challenge.
The two girls closed their eyes, reaching for the fuzzy spots they had determined their cores were located at, and prodded at them.
A moment and a levitation spell later, they stared in astonishment at the hole in the ceiling.
"But...I was only levitating a pen," Padma said faintly.
"I was going for a book, but...neither of those things should have punched a hole into the ceiling. That's stone!"
The two girls stared at each other. "So...magic's easier," Padma confirmed.
"But we can't control the spell," Hermione countered.
"I'm sure with practice we could/"
They shared another smile. "Well, let's get practicing!"
~~In Which this is a POV change~~
Neville was having his own issue, sitting in the Gryffindor common room trying to get himself under control.
Under his skin it felt like there were small insects crawling everywhere, a sensation that made him want to itch and scratch until it was gone. But he had tried that, and it had yielded nothing but blood and scabs.
So he huddled by the fire. It must be his magic. He had been overpowering even the simplest spells, spells he knew by heart. He had transfigured a fork into a two-foot-long ball point pen, much to professor McGonagall's chagrin.
He had turned not just his teacup but every other teacup around him for five tables a solid green with faint yellow outlines of falling leaves. And Professor Flitwick had been unable to remove the spell.
He dreaded what could happen in Potions if it required magical preparation, as he would be less that useful in handling the materials.
The book on the armchair rattled, and he grabbed for it before it floated upwards, where he would never get it back.
There was something wrong with his magic, he just didn't know what, and he didn't know who to talk to about it.
~~~~In Which This is a POV Change~~~~
Blaise was doing his best to avoid his House common room. He had been less than welcome in recent weeks. There hadn't been any direct confrontations, but it wasn't hard to see the rest of the Slytherins pushing him out of the social circle he had never really belonged to in the first place.
He went to bed as late as he possibly could and spent all his time out of this House common room. It wasn't hard to manage, his friends had something going on at all times.
Except right now, Harry was with Professor McGonagall, being dressed down for messing with magic so far beyond what he should have been messing with that McGonagall was furious.
Padma and Hermione were wrapped up in experimenting with something relating to their cores, having promised them that they would share when they figured out what should be done.
Neville had vanished after lunch, his face nearly as nervous as it was when Harry had Herbology.
And Susan had been called into a meeting with her Head of House, leaving Blaise on his own. And he needed something from his trunk. So he had to venture into the Slytherin Common room while other Slytherins were there.
"Zabini, you decided to show your face here instead of sneaking back in like a mouse," he heard Flint drawl from across the room. "Where's your mudblood and squib friends? Did you finally decide to ditch them and rejoin us?"
Blaise reigned in his temper. "I'm not staying, Flint. I don't want to be here any more than you want me here."
Flint sneered at him. "You're mouthy for a first year. What, you actually use that Inter-House common room?"
"My friends are in different Houses. It makes meeting easier to organize." Actually, the devices Harry had handed out made it absurdly easy to get a hold of any one of his friends.
He should probably call Neville, see if there was something wrong.
"So you sneak back in like a coward. Can't bear to confront the rest of us, traitor."
Blaise scowled. "It's not against any rules to have friends from other Houses." He wanted to lash out at the smirks on those Slytherins in the Common Room.
"Your...friends...are blood traitors, mudbloods, and squibs. You're an Old Pure Blood. How can you even associate with them?"
"Because they're nice. They're fun and smart and they don't care about anyone's family history back who knows how many generations. It's a nice change from this...this atmosphere of one-upping and backstabbing your neighbor." Blaise glared around at the room. His could feel the magic he was becoming far more familiar with roiling under his skin.
His family had a dark history. His mother was from a line that played on the dark side of grey, messing with magics even dark families found distasteful. Killing your spouse for a magical boost and extended longevity, even if it was done "with consent of the spouse". Part of his mother's nuptial papers had a clause, written in Old Latin, spelling out the spell and the details. He had found out once while searching for the order form for the pet shop.
Point being, he grew up around backstabbing and betrayal. He knew what forms it took, the vanity his mother swam in, the lack of regard for life she had. The desire for more power, more beauty, more youth. And he found it all again in Slytherin. His ambition to be better than his mother had stuck him in the environment that had formed her.
"Watch your mouth, Zabini. Your mother's protection doesn't extend to Hogwarts," Flint warned, voice low. "Who'd believe a firstie saying their own House members cursed them?" He said it with a sardonic lilt to his voice.
"Harry would," Blaise replied. "Hermione, Padma, Neville, Susan, the Doctor, Professor Rose, Professor Jack. They'd all believe me, if you could even land a curse."
Flint's face twisted. "You're arrogant, Zabini."
"Not so arrogant that I can't see how your entire point hinges upon me being even the slightest bit unhappy with my position. I like my friends. I like their company. I don't like you, or this common room. If your goal was to try and isolate me, make me feel alone, you've failed." Blaise grinned, and then had to twist out of the way of a purple curse Flint had sent at him. "That wasn't nice." All that practice dodging paintballs paid off, he thought.
"Stay...still...Zabini!" Flint cursed.
"I don't know what that spell does, do you really think I'd stay still? Besides, I only came to get a book and some paper to get homework done."
Blaise ducked behind a couch. "Don't you think the spells are a bit much? I mean, really. I'm a first year, and here you are casting curses at me."
He could hear the mutters from the other Slytherins.
"He's just a brat, Flint. Leave him alone."
"He's not worth the trouble."
"Just ignore him, Flint. He's not worth it."
Blaise felt his chest tighten a bit. He had friends, he had good friends, but being relegated as insignificant by his House was harsh to take.
"Get your stuff and leave. And if you show up with one of your little friends again, we won't be so kind." Flint's face was a storm of anger when Blaise poked his head out from the couch.
"I'd like to hear you say that to Harry," he replied, being entirely truthful. "I mean, he would probably love an opportunity to inform you of how insignificant your entire worldview is." The thing was, Blaise wasn't sure he wasn't telling the truth. Harry was much too hard to get a good grasp on.
Still, it was enough to twist Flint's face up and have him growling. "Get your crap and get out Zabini."
Blaise did exactly that. He was only willing to push his luck so far. Sure, he friends would stand up for him, but he would have to make it out of the common room to even tell his friends something was wrong, or get a call out and hope someone answered. Better to just leave. He didn't want to be there in the first place.
~~~~This is a POV Change~~~~
Susan Bones sat in her Head of House's office, legs slowly swinging. "You wanted to see me, Professor Sprout?"
"I did indeed, Ms. Bones. I am sending letters home to parents this evening, and I have realized that I am not entirely sure what to send to your aunt. Vanishing as you did this past weekend, your remarkable improvement in classes but lack of interaction with your Housemates...I am finding myself at a loss of words. I am unsure what to report to your aunt."
Susan tried to find the words to tell her Head of House that nothing was wrong. But she could tell how it would seem like it. She sighed. "I'm doing fine, Professor Sprout. My friends are fun, I'm doing much better in class now, and I'm really enjoying my time here."
Sprout contained a heavy sigh. "It isn't that you're doing well in your classes, Ms. Bones, but that you seem to have alienated yourself from your former friends. Your housemates are confused, and find it odd that a first year Badger is friends with members from each House." Those were probably not the right words, Sprout thought, as Susan's face turned dark.
"Why does it matter what House my friends are from? We do homework together, study, have adventures, it's fun and interesting and I've learned more in the past few weeks than I ever have before!" Susan was keeping her cool as best as possible.
"I will make sure to convey your happiness to your aunt. But I am also sending my concerns, you understand." Sprout looked at the first year, stubbornly insistent in her position, and sighed. There had been inter-House friendships before, it wasn't unusual for Houses to mingle, but to the extent to that they shut out their own House? It was concerning every other Head of House as well.
The only explanation seemed to be Harry, who had started shaking things up to an extent the Hogwarts staff were distinctly uncomfortable with.
"If that's all? I wanted to see what Hermione and Padma were up to! They said they had something exciting and I don't wanna miss it." Susan was practically vibrating in her seat.
"That's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more to talk with you about when your Aunt's reply comes through." Sprout dismissed the young girl, before sighing over the parchment and quill she had pulled out for the letter she was struggling to write.
~~~In Which the Scene Changes~~~~
Harry stood in front of Professor McGonagall and the several items he had transfigured in odd ways in front of him.
McGonagall, for her part, was just trying to contain every stray emotion running through her.
This child waltzes into Hogwarts, refuses to follow dress code, argues with any professor about any topic, and then goes and performs magic not just above first-year level but beyond the reach of most magic users in general.
And he does it with this look of 'Well, of course I did it, that's what was supposed to happen. Can't you do it too?' as if he didn't realize how impossible he was. And she can't tell him that, because as much as it irritates her to see her own student surpassing any and every expectation she ever had, breaking laws of magic and generally being the most frustrating student she had ever taught, the world needed people like him, people who could do the impossible then expect you to do it as well.
Because those people motivated others, made others better, made them strive for more, because it was expected of them, because someone as charismatic and intelligent and obviously talented as they wanted them to do better, to be better.
It was why she had let James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew continue studying the Animagus after she had figured out what they were doing. James and Sirius were some of the most charismatic students she had seen walk the halls, second only to the man who would become the Dark Lord. They would do great things, would have done great things, if their lives had not been so tragically halted, one by death and the other by prison for that death.
She could make it up to James with his son, with this child who was technically James Potter's heir, who was so much more than any one of them could have imagined.
But she wasn't just going to let him have free reign. He was still far too inexperienced to be let loose on whatever he felt like, without someone to hold him accountable. So that's what she would be.
"Alright, tell me again how you've managed to use a spell I know was designed to turn a piece of wood, clay, or metal into a simple sculpture to create teacups, pens, and vases," she said, more than a bit dry.
Harry grinned. "It's all about your desire. Sculptures are basically art, and art is what you make of it, you know. You have this idea that art has to be fixed, has to be something that is on display for others to see and admire. But art is about your impressions of it. Houses are just art pieces we live in. Cups are pieces of art we drink out of. Pens are functional art. Vases are traditional art. So long as your intention is to create art, you can control the shape that art takes."
McGonagall turned that over in her mind. It made sense, in a fundamental way. It was a lot more mental than she had expected, this idea that you had to intend for something to be art to create it, but it opened up the world to the idea that you could simply think that anything was a piece of art, and create it that way. "So it's all mental," she said.
"Exactly! That's what I've been trying to tell you! Your idea of art influences what you create with this spell. Change the idea, you change the outcome of the spell.
"So, essentially, you could do just about anything you wanted with this spell, so long as you think of it as art?" she asked.
Harry frowned. "I'm sure if you have enough strength of mind and magic, you could, but a lot of your ideas of art and what it is come from your culture. So it would be hard to transfigure, say, a live animal with this spell, because your cultural background doesn't consider it art. And if you managed it, the animal wouldn't act normally, I'm sure. It would become living art."
"Then what is the solution?"
"Well, that is why we have many spells and not just one," Harry said. "Spells work off of intention and focus. It's easier to create a new spell for something than try and change an already established spell."
McGonagall groaned. "Only you would consider spell crafting to be easier," she muttered. "Then again, you shouldn't able to change the intention of a spell either, and yet you have."
Harry grinned. "That's what I'm here for."
The Transfiguration professor rubbed at her temples. She could feel the headache coming on. "Now how have you applied this...thinking to breaking the fundamental laws of transfiguration?" she asked, wondering if she wanted to know the answer.
She could see the eagerness in his eyes, the wild light they lit up with that she was beginning to associate with an explanation she would only partially understand at first.
"So, the money one was simple." She couldn't see how. "Money is, in essence, a representative of what cultures value, exchanged for goods and services. Britain's wizarding world actually uses valuable metals, gold and silver and bronze, rather than a representative of it like most cultures do. Transfiguring gold isn't actually that hard, it's just a shift in an object's chemical composition, changing the atoms in an item. If you know the chemical make-up of gold or silver or bronze, it isn't all that difficult." McGonagall held back the mild gaping she wanted to do at his words.
"So you've managed it?" she asked.
Harry grimaced. "Only in small quantities. Even if I start with something larger, the process shrinks the resulting transfiguration into 5% of what I started with. So yeah, I can do it, but it's not very efficient in the long run."
McGonagall held onto that bit of knowledge with tight hands. At least Harry couldn't do everything. "What other laws of magic have you broken?" she asked, resignation in her voice.
"Not sure. Never looked them up. I think laws of something like magic are ultimately pointless. I mean, sure, yeah, don't be an idiot and hurt yourself or others, but why not try and stretch what you can do with magic? I mean, if I try hard enough, and have enough intention and focus, I can do more or less what I want, though it's incredibly draining because there is no prior spell or path I can direct my magic down. When you use a spell, magic is channeled into a small stream, easier to work with and you use less magic overall. But when you don't know a spell and have to cast something without focus or direction, you literally send a wave of magic at it, with intention, and hope you've done the job right." Harry looked pensive. "If you could find a way of controlling the flow of unfocused magic, you would be nearly unstoppable. Pure will and intention, directed out at your thought. That would be something."
McGonagall fervently hoped Harry would never figure out how to do such a thing. She didn't think she could handle Harry with any more power than he already had, much less an unlimited supply of it, directed at thought and intent without a focus. "That is highly dangerous. Magic used in such a way has been known to drive a wizard or witch mad." That was true, more or less. Wandless magic was no easy feat to master. She could only do a few simple spells that she was extremely familiar with. Flitwick was much more proficient at it, as was Dumbledore.
But Harry looked pensive, rather than excited. "I'm aware. We use foci for a reason, you know. They're there to provide direction and focus for our magic, and without it, magic is highly destructive and volatile. Yes, you can use it to help and create and grow, but it's more likely to be used to destroy and tear and rend when used without a focus like a wand."
Harry could, once again, surprise her with his maturity.
"Well, in class I would like you to focus on the lesson. Expand it however you want, but no experimental transfiguration during lessons. If you want to play around with that sort of magic, please come find me on a weekend. I would be much more willing to let you experiment if I could actually see and make sure you weren't hurting yourself." She sincerely hoped he would find her. Aside from making sure he didn't blow himself up, she wanted to see what kind of process he went through to alter a spell. "Also, class time is not the time for you to refute everything I say when you think I'm wrong. It's disruptive at best and harmful to your fellow students at worse. If you have an issue with something I say, take a note of it and we can discuss it after class has ended. I'm tired of turning lessons with you into half an hour of debate."
"But what if what you're saying isn't right?" Harry said, a tinge of complaint in his voice.
"The middle of class is not the proper time to discuss it. If you can bring it to me, logically and without heated emotion, I'll consider it and we can discuss your ideas. You're smart, I know you're smart, everyone in your classes knows it, you don't have to show us every time you disagree with something. If your idea has merit, I'll bring it up in future lessons." McGonagall gave him a long stare. "Do we have an accord?"
"Well, I can try. I mean, I'll do my best." Harry could hear his dad reminding him of his tendency to walk all over people and how he needed to not be so overwhelming.
"Then off you go. I'm sure you have a group of friends to wrangle before they get too bored." She waved Harry off.
Only to call him right back in as a ripple of magic overtook the castle, making her gasp and clutch at her chest.
~~~In Which This is a Scene Break~~~
Neville squirmed in the armchair before the fire. Something was definitely wrong with his magic.
He had cast a spell, levitation, and the book had gone through the ceiling. The stone ceiling. And the ceiling beyond that one.
And now he could feel the rolling, churning, bubbling of his magic pushing back at him, at the edges of his skin, trying to break out.
He was too hot, too cold, too everything all at once, and he didn't know what to do, who to tell.
He should have told Harry, the moment this started happening, but he didn't know how to bring it up, didn't want to be a bother. It was his fault, having left the Tardis when he shouldn't have. He had done something to his magic while trapped in that illusion, and he should figure out how to fix it on his own.
But it wasn't working, nothing was working, and it was getting worse.
He reached for the com device Harry had given him, given them all, fingers searching for the buttons that would call Harry, the Doctor, his friends, anyone.
The world pressed in around him, and he squeezed his eyes shut.
"Hey, you okay mate?" It was a distant voice, one he could almost place.
"You don't look so good."
"Should we call Madam Pomphrey?"
It was the twins, Fred and George Weasley. He could tell by the voices now. The same lilting accent, just in slightly different pitches.
Their magic tasted like lemons and oranges. How did he know that?
He groaned. His magic was rushing around him, swirling through his body.
"You really don't look okay."
"We're gonna go get Madam Pomphrey."
"Don't move, okay?"
Neville didn't think he could move, not really. He felt glued to his seat.
The twins' footsteps had barely faded when his magic burst from him, rushing outwards, escaping from the body it had been trapped within, and Neville surged upwards.
His magic...his magic was...expanding. He could feel briefly every soul it came into contact with. Just a momentary feeling, but it was unreal.
Everything was magic in this castle. Everything, except the Doctor, except Professor Rose. Professor Jack, the Tardis. They were something...something else. Something golden and strange.
He couldn't dwell on it. He was levitating in the common room, hovering over the chair he had sequestered himself in. He could hear the other Gryffindors clustering around him, whispering, eyes wide, pointing. Someone went for Professor McGonagall, someone else went for Headmaster Dumbledore, and a third went for Madam Pomphrey.
Neville wished he could tell them that the twins already went to the infirmary, but he couldn't speak.
He couldn't do anything, except wait for his magic to stop...stop everything. Stop expanding through the castle, stop touching and feeling every magical thing it came across, stop overloading his mind with that information.
There was a snap, and he fell back to the armchair in an ungainly sprawl.
His limbs were weak noodles. His face slack. His body limp. He couldn't even open his eyes.
"Mr. Longbottom! Mr. Longbottom! What is going on here?" That was Professor McGonagall's voice.
He tried to speak, to tell them that it was alright now, but he couldn't move his lips.
"If I may, Professor." That was Harry. Neville felt his magic sing at him. Harry was here. "I might be able to help figure out what happened here."
"Don't do anything dangerous," McGonagall snapped, and Neville wanted to laugh, tell her that Harry didn't know the meaning of not doing something dangerous, that his entire life was full of it, even though he didn't know how he knew that.
Neville felt Harry get closer, put his hand on Neville's arm, and a flood of...of something filled him. A cool refreshing wave of power, it tasted like mint, filled his body. He would have shuddered if he could have.
"What are you doing?!" That was the shrill voice of Professor McGonagall again, and Neville wanted to tell her that Harry was helping, that he was collecting the scattered fragments of his magic and piecing them back together, that it was helping.
But he couldn't speak.
Harry, however, could. "Neville's shattered his core. I feared something like this might happen, but I didn't realize how soon it would happen. I'm trying to piece some of it back together."
There was an audible gasp around the room. "Shattered?" It was whispered, a soft voice, young. Neville didn't know who it was.
"How did he shatter his core? How could that even be possible?" McGonagall snapped.
"He was in a stressful situation a few weeks ago. I didn't expect it to get so bad so fast. He must have been hiding it from us." He could hear the disapproval in Harry's voice. He would have to explain, explain why he didn't tell anyone what was going on.
But right now, he was sinking further into the comfort of Harry's magic, the refreshing wave of freshness, filling him, pulling him back together. He could feel the scattered pieces of himself start to regain a semblance of their former shape.
Neville was slack and loose, unmoving and floppy. He thought he should be moving, but it seemed like too much trouble. Not when Harry was there, that cool magic slipping through him and gathering the scattered pieces and putting them together.
"What exactly happened here?" Professor McGonagall's voices demanded.
Harry sighed. "I underestimated how much of Neville's magic was locked away and just how damaging releasing it all at once would be. And Neville here didn't tell anyone he was having problems, very obvious problems we could have helped with if he hadn't hidden them."
Neville thought he should be a little more recalcitrant but honestly he was too relaxed to care much. He just made a slight noise of amusement at Harry.
"What could he have possibly done to do that?"
Neville could hear the hesitation in Harry's voice. He wanted to say it was alright, that whatever Harry was worried about wasn't that important, except it was, it was deadly important and he didn't know how he knew that.
He didn't know how he knew a lot of things, but somehow he knew them.
His body tingled faintly, his magic starting to gather back where his core should be.
"What exactly happened here?" Came the shrill voice of Madam Pomphrey.
"Neville Longbottom has done something to his magic. It sent out a wave not twenty minutes ago and the boy hasn't moved since I arrived." Professor McGonagall.
"What is Mr. Harry doing? Why can I sense the magic from down the hallway?"
"Probably because Neville has no more barriers between his magic and the world. I'm trying to give him some artificial ones until his magic can rebuild the walls that protect it." Harry sounded as in control as always, and if Neville wasn't so closely bound to his magic, he wouldn't have heard the frustration and fear in his voice (or was it his magic? He's not quite sure anymore).
Neville wondered if the shocked gasps would stop today.
He didn't have high hopes about that.
~~~In which this is an Ending~~~
Hey everyone! Sorry this is so late once again! A lot of this was from NaNoWriMo this year, and a daily writing session I'm working on keeping up with, but I ended up just stuck trying to piece this chapter together. I needed several things to happen to lead to the next big bit of the story, and I needed teacher and Harry to have confrontations that didn't work out in Harry's favor, and I needed a bridge for another part of the story, and it all just...didn't want to work out well at first.
Good news is, I have a much much clearer idea of what's happening next, and an even clearer idea of the next chapter. So there's that?
In any case, THANK YOU ALL OF YOU FOR ALL THE KIND REVIEWS! I really do love reading them and hearing from you.
It's winter break now for me, but that doesn't actually mean I get an abundance of free time (well, it technically does but not really). I'm going on a solo vacation tour of Japan because I'm tired of being stuck in Inaka Japan, so Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, here I come! I'll still be writing because I'm gonna be crashing at internet cafes because they're cheap and easy. So I'll have an update up around….January 8th. Well, that's what it says in my planner, but that's also the day I plan to get back from vacation, so it might move to January 9th.
Thank you thank you thank you everyone for all the reviews, favorites, alerts, follows, kudos!