AN: This chapter was supposed to be far longer than it is, but with my lack of updates, my busy schedule, and my sudden and all consuming bout of procrastination I figured it best to post something. I find it hard to work on this story when each chapter gets less and less reviews... I'd like to thank Joe Lawyer for beta'ing even though he's been as busy as I am lately.
Daggers held loosely in hand, his foci entwined tightly between his fingers and around the violet-shaded skin of his forearm, Harry glared intently at the ancient man across from him. His normally pristine clothing was ripped and singed, showing off more of his abnormally colored skin, and the freshly bleeding cuts and midnight-shaded bruises he had acquired since entering the room hours before.
Standing across from the white-haired youth, a wand in one hand a rapier in the other was none other than his surrogate grandfather, Gellert Grindelwald.
Harry focused his enhanced sight entirely on the man before him, watching for the smallest of tells that would give away any holes in the man's seemingly nonexistent defense. And yet, even though he was giving the only other soul in the room his full attention, his new senses were serving to be as much of a distraction as they were a help.
The way the early morning light streamed through the glassless windows catching the dust motes as they swam through the air, drew the eye like a moth to a flame. The pounding of not only his own heartbeat, but that of the man in front of him, both strong and steady, beating within the span of a hummingbird's wings of each other. And the smell... The smell was by far the worst and most distracting. The dry, stale scent of dust mixed with that of the pipe smoke that clung to Gellert, rat feces hidden in the corners of the room and in the desks that had been pushed against the walls and out of the way, and for some strange reason lemon flavored sweets, all combined in a nauseating and head throbbing smell that made him wish he didn't feel the need to become accustomed to his new senses.
"Mind telling me why it is that even now, when my speed far surpasses your own, I'm still unable to land a hit on you?" Despite the state he was in, the young boy's normal tone and demeanor hadn't slipped in the slightest. "In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd say I've gotten worse in terms of my fighting ability since the awakening ceremony." He gazed inquisitively into aquamarine eyes of his teacher, steeling himself from tracking the millions upon millions of dust motes dancing through the air between them.
"Perhaps you're not as good as you previously thought," Gellert lightly suggested, gazing down the length of his rapier with an appraising eye. Turning his focus from his weapon of choice, excluding the times when his wand was available to him, he was rewarded with a dry, knowing look from his apprentice/grandson.
"I prefer dueling with a wand opposed to that of hand-to-hand combat, or the use of styles that require a weapon, such as knives, clubs, swords," here Gellert held his rapier up in a loose grip, "and the like. As such, I'm not as versed in their use as I should be. When forced to rely on such methods in combat my prowess is severely hampered. To the point that I, a man who is acutely aware that there are few in this world who can pose a challenge for me when I hold a wand, am weakened to the point that many an individual with power far weaker than my own, could easily best me."
Harry arched a snow-colored eyebrow at his teacher. "If you wouldn't mind, a translation would be greatly appreciated?"
"What I'm saying is that you're not getting worse; I'm increasing the level of our spars by introducing the use of magic. When I first used spells during your training I barely used any magic at all, just enough so you could become accustomed to its presence in battle, but since your awakening I've upped the number of incantations I use," Gellert admitted. "Had I continued to fight without my foci, or continued to use the same level of magic as I did just before you came to Hogwarts, then yes, you would have landed a blow on my person by now."
"Would I be correct in guessing that you're never going to let me hit you?" Harry questioned impassively, his stance never faltering.
"If I simply let you hit me, you'd gain nothing from this, making all the time I've spent training you a waste." The tip of his blade pointed directly between Harry's eyes, his wand clapped loosely at his side but still managing to point it at his student, Gellert let his eyes flash with power for the briefest of seconds. "And my time is not to be wasted."
Seeing the unspoken sign, Harry charged forward, his wrists held atop one another and in front of him, the tips of his blades touching. Focusing with all the might he could muster and still keep his awareness of his surroundings, he pulled at the shadows behind Gellert. Though they didn't respond as quickly as they would have had he been focused solely on them, the shadows at the back of the room did answer his call, sluggishly slinking their way across the stone floor toward the unsuspecting man.
Gellert watched his student charge at impressive speeds, a look of disinterest gracing his aged, but handsome features. Raising his wand he shot a large, albeit slow moving, ball of white-hot fire at the boy.
Wincing at the heat rolling his way, Harry put on an extra boost of speed showing no sign of dodging, bringing him closer to the deadly fire faster. At the last second when Gellert expected his pupil to dash around the ball of element, Harry pushed himself backwards falling to his side, letting his momentum slide him painfully across the dust coated floor and under the intense sphere of fire.
Clearing the fire, his face and the exposed skin of his torso feeling sore and tight from his close proximity to the man's attack, Harry rolled to the side just as Gellert slashed downward with a whip of fire, cracking the stone floor where it hit. Pointing the hand that held both a dagger and foci at the teacher's desk in the corner of the room, Harry levitated it up and at Gellert.
Catching sight of the desk from the corner of his eye, Gellert slashed downward with the whip once more, knowing that while the levitation speed was both impressive and fast, it was not fast enough to catch him. His bluish-green eyes tightened when he felt the element flowing from his wand catch his grandson in the shoulder, tearing into his tattered shirt and flesh.
Just as the boy screamed out in pain, Gellert made to dodge the desk hurtling towards him, knowing he would be out of the object's trajectory by only inches, when he suddenly and unexpectedly found himself unable to move his feet. Acting on instincts that he had acquired early on in life, he directed his wand at the desk that was only seconds away from colliding with him, banishing it out of the air without looking at it.
The threat of the desk taken care of, Gellert looked to his feet to see them and slowly the rest of his legs being ensnared in the same inky-black shadows that James had been so well known for. Having dueled with the deceased Potter many times before his death, he knew casting a simple light-spell wouldn't rid him of the black tendrils.
Shooting a cutting curse, that was both over powered and on the darker end of the light-dark spectrum, at the shadows, Gellert was able to free himself. Kicking off the last remains of the darkness that was clinging to him, he glanced up to find Harry no longer lying on the floor. Turning quickly, he spotted his young student charging at him from behind, his blades poised, ready to strike a fatal blow. It was as he raised his wand to fire off a stronger sister-spell of the Aguamenti charm that he saw the boy's left hand flash out throwing his dagger toward him.
Shaking his head in disappointment - he had warned the boy against throwing away his weapons on more than one occasion - Gellert prepared to knock the dagger out of the air with his rapier, but lost track of the projectile and everything else when a searing-white light filled the entire room, blinding and disorienting the veteran wizard.
His eyes stinging and burning, and knowing the dagger was still coming his way, he quickly erected a shield and fired off a wide-area stunner.
When his eyes cleared and he could once again see, he was greeted by the sight of his pupil lying on the ground unconscious, his daggers lying on either side of him.
Shaking his head at the sight, Gellert cursed himself. 'I take him too lightly, and just about let him get that 'hit' he wants so badly.'
"Was it really necessary to stun me?"
"I could have fired another wave of flame at you instead," Gellert said with a noticeable lack of sympathy in his tone.
"Knowing you that's exactly the type of thing you'd do just to teach me a lesson." Harry replied dryly. Paying the aching in his limbs, and the rest of his body that hurt just as much no mind, he rose to his feet, gingerly tensing and testing for anything more serious than the brutal blow he had received to the shoulder. "I'm not going to Poppy again. Twice in a week was pushing it, if I go back to her before Christmas of next year she's liable to chain me to her desk."
Crossing the small distance between the two of them, Harry positioned his burnt throbbing shoulder out to the older man. "The adrenaline is wearing off, I'm starting to feel it more-and-more."
"Hold still or I may just end up injuring you more than I help you." Running his long elder-wood wand over the wound, Gellert nodded to himself calling out for an elf that showed up right away. "When did you discover a way to use your light in such a manner?" he questioned after sending the house-elf off to acquire the potions he was to need.
Harry started to answer, but stopped and gritted his teeth when a stab of pain shot through his arm. Gellert had just cast a spell that felt like many fingers being jabbed repeatedly into the wound. Glaring down at his shoulder Harry found the exposed, nasty looking injury to be encompassed in a dark yellow haze.
"The first night I stayed in the boys' dormitory I awoke sometime after midnight and couldn't fall back to sleep. It didn't help any that I had figured out upon waking that my vision at night is as good as it is during the day." Gellert nodded to this, he had expected as much, not that Harry had noticed his grandfather's knowing look, as he was far too distracted by the nagging, sharp bursts of pain shooting through his shoulder. "With nothing else to do, I figured I'd pass the time by trying to get a better control over my light and shadows." He became silent when the elf returned with a silver tray and a number of vials full of potions atop it.
After making Harry drink the last and by far the worst tasting potions, Gellert started tracing the edges of the burn with his wand. "Continue."
"Well, I tried calling on my light, but it didn't come as easily as it normally does. Admittedly, calling out to my elements is never easy, but this time no matter how hard I pulled at my light it wouldn't come. It wasn't until then that I realized I was in a room full of darkness, so I figured that I'd have to try harder than normal to make it appear."
"Your father used to say that while he could call out his shadows in a room that held none, it was far harder for him to do so than when there were plenty abound." Gellert informed him, as he started knitting the wound closed.
Harry hissed, the pain in shoulder had become worse since Gellert had started working on it and had the boy wondering if his grandfather wasn't enjoying his discomfort on some level. "Yeah well, I figured the same about my light," he replied, his tone a mixture of pain and amusement. "I started focusing with all my might on calling it to me, when suddenly the entire dorm room was filled with the same light I used against you in our spar." Here he stopped speaking, letting his laughter overtake him despite the pain he was experiencing in his shoulder.
"There, you're done." Gellert pulled away from where the wound had once been to reveal an angry red mark in its place. "Now please do tell, what is so funny?"
His laughter dying down to a soft chuckle, Harry inspected the area while he spoke. "The light startled all of my dorm mates awake. I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of scaring a spider-demon, a part leprechaun, a ginger with arachnophobia, and a boy who's as new to the world of magic as I am, all at once, but if you ever do, do it!"
"I'm surprised that you're still here to tell the tale." Reaching into his suit he pulled out a final potion vial. "Drink this and the pain should subside until it dies away completely."
"After everything had calmed down, and I explained my mess up to them, everyone thought it was pretty funny. Especially Seamus, but then again that may have been his leprechaun half making him see the situation as if it were a prank." Pulling the cork out of the vial, Harry quickly downed the potion ignoring the taste as best he could.
"So one of your roommates is afraid of the Longbottom heir?" Gellert questioned, interested in how his first week of school had been. Other than when he called on him during his class, he had been unable to speak with his grandson since his last visit to the infirmary.
"Yeah, the youngest Weasley, Ron. He gets the shakes anytime Neville speaks to him. We asked why he was so afraid, but all we ever get in return is something about his 'teddy'." As the pain dulled to a slight throb, Harry started rolling his shoulder experimentally. "Thanks."
It was an hour later that Harry and Gellert, who had continued to talk up to now, found themselves about to be late for their first classes of the day. Harry dashed out the room not wanting to be late for potions, knowing he had to get all the way to his dorm, get changed, and then make it all the way back down to the dungeons where his first double period with professor Snape was to take place.
Gellert followed his grandson at a leisurely pace, unconcerned about being on time since he was the professor. Just as he was about to leave the unused room they had adopted for his grandson's training, he found his way blocked by Harry, who had returned for some unknown reason.
"I was hoping you could answer a question for me." Harry asked, bouncing lightly as he knew he was wasting time that could have been used to get ready.
"You may, whether or not I'll answer is a different matter altogether."
"What is it that Albus is hiding on the third floor?"
"I'm not late. I'm not late. I'm not late." His continued mantra was Harry's only companion as he raced through the twists and turns of the dungeons in search of the potions lab.
After getting what he dubbed a 'half-assed answer' from Gellert about what it was that Albus was hiding, Harry had made his way up four floors to the Gryffindor tower only to find a deserted common room. Knowing the chances of his dorm mates still being in their dorm at this time was low, he ran upstairs to find it as empty as he had expected.
'I do well all week by being on time to all my classes, then I just have to go and be late to the final one of the week!' he thought as he rounded a corner, his chant still spilling from his lips.
"I'm not lat-" His mantra died on his tongue when he saw that he was in fact not late. Unnoticed by those gathered Harry came to a sliding stop, taking in the scene before him.
On one side of the dungeon hallway stood the Gryffindors all of which looked angry, none more so than the resident redhead of the male first years' dorm. Standing just across from the furious pride were the Slytherins. Where the Gryffindors looked angry most of the snakes looked on with obvious boredom or disapproval. However, not all of the Slytherins were reacting in such a manner. A small gathering of boys, two of which were Theodore Nott and Draco, were smirking superiorly at Ron which only served to enrage the redhead further.
Just when Harry was about to announce his arrival and try to figure out what it was that had put his friends so on edge, the door to the potions lab swung open. After a second in which no one moved, and more than one of them pondered on who had open the door, a soft commanding voice called through the open doorway startling half of the first years.
"There will be no petty inter-house squabbling while attending my lessons, or I will be forced to end them for you. Now then, please enter my classroom prepared to learn." As the bodiless voice ghosted over them the tension in the angry Gryffindors' shoulders and the antagonistic way the four Slytherin boys held themselves faded away.
Still unaware that their missing friend was standing behind them, the Gryffindors made their way into the potions lab, Ron throwing a dirty look over his shoulder at Theodore as he went, the Slytherins following closely behind.
With light steps carrying him across the threshold Harry was the final student to enter the potions classroom. Glancing around the room he found the only table not completely occupied, to be one that held three girls wearing Slytherin colors, one of which he had met before.
Walking up to the three, all of whom were watching the same hooked nosed man that had nodded to Harry the night of the awakening, he set his things down not bothering to look who it was he had sit next to, instead he followed the girls' lead and turned his focus on the professor.
"Potions is a very deadly, precise art." The sallow skinned man announced, drawing the attention of those who had yet to look his way. "If used correctly anything is within the realm of possibility, if you have the know-how and the will to dedicate yourself to learning the secrets hidden within your cauldron. If disrespected and treated like a knut shop bake sale, then you may doom yourself and those next to you to an early grave... or worse." The man turned his coal-colored eyes on all of them in an attempt to show them how serious he was.
"My name is Professor Severus Snape, and I will be your potions instructor for the next seven years. Leading you through the immensely rewarding, yet frequently underappreciated world of potions making. Together we will succeed, and at times we will fail... By the time I am done with this class, every soul in this room will be able to brew the most difficult of potions with ease."
From his spot in the back of the room, Harry could see that most of the class had slightly awed looks about them as they gazed wide-eyed at the potions master. Lily and Hermione, both of whom were seated at the front of the room paying the man rapt attention, along with Parvati, a pretty dark skinned elemental demon, and Lavender Brown, looked close to slipping off the edges of their seats as they leaned forward, neither wanting to miss a single iota of knowledge.
Over the past week he had developed friendships with all of the first year Gryffindors, though none were stronger than the quickly growing bond between Lily, Hermione and himself. After becoming accustomed to Lily's sudden affection for him, a part of her he now knew would always be a part of their friendship, and stopping Hermione's recurring attempts to distance herself from not only him and Lily, but everyone around her, he had learned both girls shared a deep passion for learning that Harry was happy to see he wasn't alone in possessing.
'Those two have to be related somehow,' Harry mused lightly, chuckling internally as he fixed his attention back on the potions master.
"If you would please take out your books and the extra parchment that was required for my class," Professor Snape ordered softly, as he strolled around the room watching his students. "There will be times when I will deviate from the course manuals to teach you my own preferred, and often self-discovered, methods. When I do so I will inform you, and you will be expected to take notes."
"I have spent over thirty years of my life dedicated to learning the secrets of potion making. Discovering the ins-and-outs of a simmering cauldron, the ways to save a life with an only few key ingredients, and how to end the same life with less." The intense passion in the ponytail wearing man's voice as he spoke of the field of magic he had studied all his life was infectious to the first years, creating a smaller, and yet still similar, burn to learn the art of potion making themselves. "As such, there are things I know that others only wished they did. I intend to pass on as much of this knowledge to you and your peers as I possibly can. There will be much for you to take in over the course of your first year and the six that will follow it - putting it all to parchment will serve to help you better memorize all I have to impart."
Coming to a stop at the front of the room and his pupils, his long black robes billowing softly around him in a nonexistent breeze, the professor fixed them with a critical eye taking the time to look at them all individually before he continued speaking. "Now then, let us begin...
After explaining the importance of getting the heat of your cauldron's flame just right, and the properties of the ingredients they would be using during their current class and the best way to utilize them to their full potential, Professor Snape set them off on working on their first potion as his students.
Harry had just returned from the supply closet with the needed porcupine quills and snake fangs for boil cure they were attempting, when across from him the same girl he had met before arrived with her own supplies.
"How have you been James?" Lily Moon asked sounding bored, her blue, red, white, and yellow tipped hair swaying softly around her shoulders.
The Potter and Bones heir winced, when he had taken a seat with the group of Slytherin females, he had failed to remember that during his first encounter with Lily at Madam Malkin Robes, that he had told her and Sue Li that his name was James.
"Yeah, about that-" Harry was cut off before he could finish by the arrival of the girl that had been sitting next to Lily when he had first sat down with them.
"Blaise, I'd like for you to meet James." Lily skillfully crushed her snake fangs, with a slightly smug smirk on her lips.
Chuckling, Harry raised his eyes from the flame of his cauldron, catching those of the girl named Blaise. Her shiny brown hair hung just above her shoulders, accenting her darker than average tanned skin and piercing, pride filled icy-blue eyes that reminded him of a husky's. Instinctual, he knew right away that the attractive girl before him was a proud, strong creature, who wouldn't take any form of disrespect.
Blaise trailed her eyes over the purple skinned, special eyed youth without showing any sign of approval or disapproval. Had Harry been expecting any form of response he would have been left sorely wanting. Continuing her lack of any emotion, outside her obvious and unmistakable abundance of pride, she turned her attention to starting her cauldron fire, looking as if she hadn't just been introduced to him.
Harry arched a questioning eyebrow at Lily, whom he was surprised to see looking a bit disappointed by the girl's lack of response.
"What, no cutting remarks? No 'filthy mutt' comments? Not even a little bit about how you're a 'pure-blooded alpha female' and that you refuse to be disrespected?" From the way Lily spoke it was quite clear that not only had she heard Blaise say such things in the past, but that she had been expecting her to react in much the same way now.
"I'd suggest you focus on your work, mutt." Blaise said in a soft, cutting voice. "And you can stop trying to drag me into your little games. If you want someone insulted, do it yourself!" Harry watched, wide eyed, as Lily's soft brown eyes started flashing through the same colors that the tips of her hair were dyed. Blue flashed into red, red melted into white, white shifted into yellow, and yellow blazed back into blue before the cycle started again, each circulation going faster than the one before it until her eyes were nothing more than a blur of colors.
"Watch it, bitch!" she hissed in a smokey, venom filled voice. Raising her small hand, Lily gave each of her fingers the lightest of twitches, surprising Harry further when they burst into flames the same color as the tips of her hair, and now eyes. "It's true, my mama and papa may be of different flame races, but both are purebloods of their respective races, and much like our purple-skinned friend here, that makes me so much more than your average magical species!" Glaring heatedly at Blaise, who acted as if she hadn't heard a word that had been said to her, Lily placed her hand under her cauldron starting its flame without removing her eyes from her agitator.
"Wow," Harry chuckled, drawing the color-shifting eyes of Lily, and a slight tensing of Blaise's shoulders that let him know she was paying him attention. "Both of my table mates are badasses and a bit testy. I wonder how much of a joy our fourth is going to be."
Harry had expected any number of responses from the duo of pretty Slytherins across from him, anger at being called 'testy', laughter at his 'badass' comment, and even indifference to it all from Blaise, but the looks the two sent him made it feel as if he had missed a step going down a flight of stairs.
Both shock and fear filled the eyes of Lily, as she glanced around them, her head jerking wildly in all directions looking for the still unidentified (to Harry) student. Whereas Lily searched for their fourth and final table mate, Blaise fixed Harry with icy-blue eyes swimming with emotion that he failed to decipher.
"Careful," Blaise whispered, her eyes never leaving his. "It would be the epitome of stupidity to anger B-" Before the husky-eyed girl could finish speaking the fourth member of their party arrived at their table, drawing the attention of all its occupants onto her person.
The figure before Harry was as stunning as any of the girls that he had found himself enjoying the company of as of late. Her long, wavy, raven-shaded locks hung to her hips, framing her iridescent-violent eyes and her alabaster, aristocratic features.
Realizing he was rudely staring at the new arrival, Harry gave her a small, welcoming wave. "Hello, my name is Harry Po-" His greeting died on his lips the second his eyes met hers. Staring back at him were iridescent violet-orbs filled with a twisted and dangerous mirth so intense he was forced to stop himself from flinching away from the girl's gaze.
"Harry Potter," she supplied in a voice reminiscent of silver bells ringing on a frosty winter night. "I know who you are." Her tone mysterious, she fixed him with a smile that sent chills down his spine.
"Allow me to introduce myself." Holding out her hand, the back raised as if she were waiting for Harry to place a kiss upon it. Not seeing a way out of the gesture without being rude, Harry took her hand in his, brushing his lips lightly against her soft, creamy white skin.
"I," Harry glanced up meeting her eyes, "am Bellatrix Lestrange, heiress and future head of the Ancient and Noble House of Lestrange..." Leaning up, so that their foreheads were touching in a way that could only be described as 'intimate', Bellatrix tightened her grip painfully on Harry's hand. "And the one whom will bring about the end of both the Bones and Potter lines!"
AN: So yup, Bellatrix is the daughter of her husband in canon. Didn't see that coming, did ya? As I hinted at above, more reviews equals faster and more frequent updates. Till next time!