A.N.: Hello, everyone! I hope your lives have been going well. So...at the beginning of the summer-like, the last week of school-I had a slight problem. Between college preparations, financial straits, graduation preparation, writing this story, and multiple AP exams I should have studied harder for, I had a...well, I don't know if it qualifies as an anxiety attack, but I DO know that I felt like I was on the verge of throwing up for almost a solid week during finals. Procrastination has failed me yet again (bonus points for your house of choice if you know where that last line comes from). Your only other hint is "I am the very model of a modern major general."
Where to begin? Well, it's been awhile since I've reminded everyone that, no I don't own Harry Potter or the universe he lives in, so here I...wait, I did that just now. Nevermind. I know it's been a LONG time since I've updated, but life just...happened. But luckily, this time procrastination helped me: in an attempt to avoid being social, I tried to do everything else first, including finishing this chapter! I've been struck by inspiration in short bursts, allowing for about 1000 words to be written at a time, days or weeks apart; one such burst allowed me to avoid social interaction. My social insecurity has paid off yet again, making the score 4-183. So, it's making a comeback. I've been told it's best to look on the bright side.
I suppose I should talk about a couple of interesting reviews I got. As always, thanks go out to alix33. I still haven't heard back from the other beta; they may be dead, or otherwise occupied. A quick word to those who decide to leave reviews in languages other than English: I took three years of French, but barely remember any of them, and that's it. Other than that, I'm dependent on Google Translate.
Makarva: Luna's story is hinted at in this chapter, and will develop over time, don't worry.
Tatie1984: Sable's role will be revealed in time, but I don't want to rush anything. I won't say whether or not your guess is correct. Don't want to spoil any surprises.
tumshie: Yeah, it had a lot of canon material. I've had things going on in my life, and it was easier to alter parts of canon to fit my story than to write absolutely everything from scratch.
As another note, there was an anonymous iPod reader who said they got the impression that my story was inevitably heading towards a harem. I will say once more: I have no idea if that will be the case. If a harem does happen, the girls in it would have been good friends and allies anyway. And whether my story stays strictly Harry/Hermione or becomes a harem story, sex scenes will be mentioned, but not detailed, since I've found I can't really write them without it coming across as forced. Romance in this story will be awkward and rare and realistic, or as close as I can get it. Finally, whether you like it or not, my story will never read like "...AND THEN THEY BONED LIKE NO ONE HAD BONED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER!" Fanfics like that are good for some things, but very rarely for ongoing plot, which is what I'm aiming for.
On a completely unrelated note, I'm now playing Pathfinder! For the two or so people who care, I'm an Oracle of Pharasma.
With that out of the way, on with the chapter! Don't forget to leave a review afterwards!
Chapter 6: Historical Revelations
—September 8, 1992—
Hadrian Potter was preparing to face the day as he contemplated his current issues: Ginny still wasn't talking to him, his progress in wandless magic was grinding to a halt, and Several upper years were starting to get more suspicious of him. Getting fully dressed, he made his way out into the common room. Spotting Draco talking to Daphne and Tracy, he interjected himself into their conversation about the real-world use of Transfiguration.
"I realize there are charms that can do that, Draco," Daphne said, "But whenever the physical limitations of the object in question weren't up to the challenge you give them, it would draw on your magic until it had enough power to perform the task you've assigned it. If you just transfigured it, it would have the physical capabilities it needed, and wouldn't draw on your magic continually."
"Yeah," Tracy said in agreement with her friend "And what about things that can't really function as what you want them to? All the charms in the world won't make a chessboard into a fashionable hat."
"I could buy a fashionable hat—" Draco started to say.
"Or you could just Transfigure one out of the chessboard!" Daphne said loudly.
"I don't know too much about fashion," Hadrian interjected. "But I will say that Transfiguration makes it easier to hide the bodies." The three of them looked at him strangely. "It's like what you said before: sure, you could Disillusion it, but that would be a constant drain on your magic. Transfigure it, and it's a lot easier on you and a much more permanent solution."
"And just how did you discover that particular use of spells?" Tracy asked.
"Common sense," Harry replied. "It seems like a better, more efficient solution."
"No, I get that part," Tracy said. "But why were you thinking about that it the first place?"
"After all the political maneuvering we have to do to make it to the end of the week unscathed, you can't tell me that you haven't considered how much easier certain people would be to deal with if they were dead. Just look around this room and spot the people you could do without." The four (six) of them swiveled their heads briefly.
Daphne and Tracy gave each other a knowing glance. "You're right, Hadrian," Daphne said. "I can think of at least two people who I'd rather weren't here right now. Maybe even three." The subtle implication was not missed.
"Perhaps we can talk a bit more privately some other time, then," Harry said with a small smile. The girls smiled and nodded. "If you ladies will excuse me, I'm off to breakfast. You coming Draco?" He received a grunt in response. "Excellent." He set off for the Great Hall, his friend joining him.
As the four of them arrived at the Great Hall, they were immediately joined by Hermione, who had her nose stuck in their Transfiguration textbook in preparation for their first real class of the semester-the previous class had been mostly review to see what they'd retained over the summer. As she sat down with them at the Slytherin table (ignoring the glares she received from various people), she put away the book and started fetching herself some breakfast.
"So how are things this morning, Harry?" she asked as she picked out some scrambled eggs and toast. "Any progress in your project to report?"
"Not presently," he replied. "I've been hitting some snags, and have found myself unable to surpass my previous records of ability. I'm sure it will get better with time, but I think I've advanced as far as possible given where I stand at the moment."
"That's an awfully vague answer," she said teasingly as she poured herself some tea. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to keep people from finding out what your project is."
"You don't say," he said dryly as he began filling his own plate. "Whatever could possibly have given you that idea?"
As he spoke, he noticed that Ginny had entered the Hall. She looked at Harry, not realizing he had noticed her, before striding over to the other side of the table, sitting down several seats over on the other side. Pointedly ignoring him, she loaded up her plate with breakfast foods. She received several looks from the other Slytherins, as though they were sizing her up, but she didn't seem to notice. Ignoring them wouldn't help her very much, he thought.
"So how's your project coming?" Harry asked Hermione as he spread some strawberry jam on his toast.
"Not too much better than yours," she replied. "I've got the basics down, but some of the Arithmancy concepts are a bit difficult to understand."
"Only to be expected," he said. "From what I've read, Arithmancy paces similarly to the higher levels of mathematics-algebra, calculus, and trigonometry-except you also learn how to apply mathematical concepts to magic and spell creation. The reason it's difficult to understand is that the parts of our brains responsible for understanding those kinds of math don't develop until we're 15 or 16; that's why they only teach theory for the O.W.L.s, bringing in practical applications for the N.E.W.T. level students."
"Exactly," she replied. She looked at Harry, before glancing at Ginny. "Anything you want to—"
"Not right now, no," he replied, already noticing several eavesdroppers amongst his housemates. "Later, on the way to class." They continued their meal in relative silence, each busy making sure they had enough food in them to last until lunch.
With the peal of the bell, the mail arrived all at once; Harry idly wondered why as he scanned for Hedwig: did all the owls wait outside the windows until hearing the bell ringing? Curious. Spotting his winged familiar, who had no mail and was only stopping in for a snack, Harry returned to his food, only to hear a loud moan and some snickering. When he looked for the source, he saw that Ginny had received a Howler, which was starting to smoke. Harry noted that several Slytherins in particular were making a point to announce this fact as loudly as they could, so that the whole hall would pay attention.
Howlers were designed to be tamper-resistant: because of the miniscule protection runes carved into the edge of the paper, they could throw off most minor spells, although they would be ripped to shreds by some of the most powerful curses. Of course, most younger kids wouldn't know such spells, and the older students who did had usually received a Howler themselves at some point; apparently, schadenfreude was alive and well. Unfortunately for those students who were breathless with anticipation, it looked like they were going to suffocate: a quick spell by Harry turned the offending red letter into a mouse (after his natural power overrode the runes), which was promptly snatched up by Hedwig, who gave a muffled hoot in thanks before flying off through the open window. The silence that had anticipated the musical stylings of Molly Weasley was now silent due to what was probably a mixture of shock, surprise, and awe. Harry ignored the other stares and whispers of the other students, including Ginny, and returned his attention to his quickly cooling toast.
"And for the record, Draco," he said rather loudly before taking a sip of orange juice, "Charms couldn't have done that." The look on his friend's face was priceless, as were the ones of Daphne and Tracy. The hall spent the rest of breakfast speaking in hushed voices, mostly concerning Harry; the professors acted similarly, although Dumbledore could be seen at various points staring thoughtfully at the boy.
Soon enough, breakfast was over and it was time for class. This morning was Transfiguration with the Gryffs, who for the most part were already gone. The Silver Trio (and their two stooges) took an alternate path they'd found on the Marauder's Map. It took a bit more effort to get their than normal, having to go up and down multiple flights of stairs, but it was worth it to see the look on the other lions' faces when they realized they hadn't arrived first.
Transfiguration began normally: Professor McGonagall lectured them on the theoretical side of changing inanimate objects into creatures. As was usually the case, it was a matter of seeing the change in your mind and letting the magic flow. As usual, Harry was the first in the class to succeed, closely followed by Hermione. As usual, Draco struggled with the spell for a while, casting the spell correctly but screwing up the change in some way, until he finally got it right on his fourth or fifth attempt. As usual, the three of them helped the others master the spell, until most everyone had learned the spell properly. As usual, Ronald Weasley refused their help and was the only one not to have cast the spell correctly by the end of the class.
With some twenty minutes before class was scheduled to end, Professor McGonagall was called out of the room for disciplinary purposes: the Weasley twins had flooded a small section of the dungeons "by accident" during their potions class. Once she left, the massive class separated into groups and began talking amongst themselves.
"Hermione," Harry said, "The Howler this morning got me thinking: how have the Weasleys been reacting to Ginny's sorting? Have you overheard anything?"
Hermione, who had been reading ahead again, started and looked up. Her mind catching up to the conversation, she replied "Well, the twins have been loudly bemoaning the fact for the past week, going on about how their little sister has fallen to the dark side, but I don't think they're serious; they're being really over-the-top about it. I doubt anyone is really taking them seriously. Percy hasn't said much about it, although I imagine he's a bit more preoccupied with his prefect duties than anything else. You remember how he acted last year, and that was when he had O.W.L.s coming up." Harry did remember: most of the time, Percy followed the rules to the letter; he didn't abuse his authority, but he did seem to enjoy using it properly a bit more than was healthy. "And I'm sure you already know what Ron's opinion on the subject is."
"I'm sure her brothers are mostly happy for her," Draco said impatiently. "Now that that's cleared up, let's talk about something more important: the fraud." Harry groaned internally; he knew it was part of the plan, but Draco was trying to sell it too well, and this one issue was going to cause an actual rift between his friends if Hermione was brought up to speed. Lockhart's next lesson had gone much more smoothly: he had started with a short lecture on taking every opponent seriously, even seemingly harmless ones like Cornish pixies.
He then proceeded to tell stories of his youth, from impromptu duels to facing down creatures over the holidays. Whether these tales were true or not was inconsequential: they were filled with defensive theory and valid advice on how to behave during a fight or duel, and how to recognize certain dueling styles, although he didn't go into too much detail on those. Overall, Harry couldn't fault his teaching style or his knowledge, although there was still something about the man that seemed off. The bad news was that Draco still believed the man to be a fraud while Hermione believed in his skill and stories. He and Draco were using the man as a catalyst to drive a visible but false wedge between the his two friends, but if it actually drove a wedge between them, it would all be for nothing.
"He's not a fraud!" Hermione said sharply. "He used his first lesson to teach us no one is infallible, and that every opponent can be overcome."
"He lost a game of tug of war against a pixie!" Draco retorted.
"That's not the point!"
"It's entirely the point!"
"Ms. Granger, I would ask—"
"He's one of the most accomplished—"
"—couldn't cast his way out of—"
"Children!" Harry interrupted. They both glared at him. "I don't think Professor McGonagall likes being ignored," he said, pointing to the front of the room, where their teacher stood with her arms crossed. Hermione eeped, and Draco gulped nervously.
"Thank you, Lord Potter," the Professor ground out, her mind still on her student's behavior. He nodded his appreciation. "That will be 10 points each from Gryffindor and Slytherin. On that note, I think I need to separate you two, before you start fighting again. Mr. Malfoy, if you be so kind as to move to the other side of the room, so as not to cause another disturbance." Her tone made it clear that it wasn't actually a request. He gathered his stuff, catching Harry's eye. They both gave imperceptible nods, before Draco finally left the table. Satisfied, Professor McGonagall returned to her teaching.
"Oh dear," Hermione whispered. "I hope he's not too mad at me."
"I assure you he's not," Harry replied, his mind already moving on to their assignment.
—September 11, 1992—
Hadrian Potter was bored out of his mind: he was currently in History of Magic, his last class of the day, and Professor Binns was droning on, as usual, about Goblin Wars. All in all, though, the man knew his subject; he just couldn't make it very interesting. Harry thought he'd learned more just looking up things in his books as he went through the school year. That reminded him of his current dilemma, as well as a way to escape the boredom. He flipped to the index and wrote down "Pg 676; Vampyrs and Vampires: The Bloody Path". Flipping to the appropriate section, he began to read, blocking out Binns' droning.
Vampyrs and Vampires: The Bloody Path
The vampyrs, now commonly known as vampires, have existed in many different forms throughout the centuries. However, neither the variety of vampyrs nor their abilities are not our concern: where they come from is. First recorded observations of the vampyrs come from the writings of a powerful Slavic mage whose name has never been recorded: in his twilight years, he kept a journal, which mentions an encounter with an undead creature that seemed physically more capable than an Inferi. He made cursory observations of the creature after he killed it: it had pale skin, but oddly unearthly beauty. He noted that, during the fight, it had attempted to invade his mind and get him to present his neck. He hypothesized that the creature could be the result of breeding Inferi and Veela, but never sought out proof of his theory's veracity. We know today that vampyrs are a type of fae creature: a faerie born dead, but with a facsimile of life. Their speed, strength, source of sustenance, and various weaknesses are well-documented, although it is observed that some need not fear direct sunlight.
Sometime around the rise of Roman empire, and its spread into eastern Europe, vampyrs spread throughout the empire. Most of eastern Europe was already saturated with them, but western Europe had no prior experience with the creatures. The vampyrs infiltrated Roman society by infecting politicians and generals, who gained reputations as uncanny combatants of unmatched speed, strength, and ruthlessness or beguiling masters of silver-tongued persuasion; using the Roman's wide borders and their influence in the empire, the vampyrs spread themselves far and wide. During this time, a rivalry began between vampyrs and werewolves when a hungry vampyr hunted and killed Dusk, a descendant of Romulus. The first vampyrs to come to England left the Romans, moving on to the locals for sustenance.
During the height of the Roman empire, a new religion began to rise within its borders: Christianity, which started as an offshoot of Judaism that believed that a man named Jesus was the son of Jehovah taken human form. As this new religion did not oppose the plans of those in power, it was left to grow, rather than wiped out by the vampyrs. It has been hypothesized, but never tested or proven, that Jesus may have been a vampyr: many have pointed to his supposed "resurrection" as a vampyr making a show of his "death" and "rebirth". The only source of material discussing Jesus' travels and action after the resurrection either gloss over it, skipping to him disappearing from the Earth, while some tell more tales of healing and teaching. Whether there is any veracity in the claim that he was a vampyr has not been asked nor answered by any existing vampyr, and none have ever mentioned it even casually.
Despite their widespread population, these vampyrs still abided by the rules and laws of their homeland rulers, commonly known as the Code of Blood. This changed during the 4th century: the newest generation of vampyrs had grown comfortable living among humans and benefiting from the more advanced human society. The older blood didn't like associating with what they considered "prey", considering the infiltration of Rome to be a necessary evil and a means to an end: vampyrs with power over humans. The newest generation didn't wish to follow the Code of Blood in its reverence for the vampire lords; the Code required tribute be paid annually to the Sanguine Council, but any humans who went missing in Rome were always investigated, causing problems for the complacent vampyrs masquerading as humans of influence. This rift in the hidden "vampyr nation" caused the Roman empire to split in two when vampyrs high up in the Roman hierarchy disagreed on which side to take. The pieces became the Eastern and Western Roman Empire, respectively.
The Eastern Empire, where the older generation of vampyrs held sway, decided to abandon the Romans in support of their native countries, who took over, turning it into the Byzantine Empire. The Western Empire was controlled by vampyrs that were relatively new; they had little experience, and no wisdom or intelligence of their own. The mind that had made the Romans nigh unstoppable was no longer in contact with the Roman hierarchy; soon enough, various tribes of humans that had suffered under Roman oppression banded together and virtually wiped out the straw giant, taking over sections of the Roman empire for themselves. By this time, the Romans had already established a more stable position in England; interestingly, due to their isolation from the rest of Europe, as well as early decision to abandon the Romans in favor of the fresh local blood, the English vampyrs were more subservient to the old ways, and still sent tribute faithfully once a year to the Council of Blood.
While vampyrs flourished in eastern Europe, the vampyrs of western Europe were greatly diminished in number; furthermore, where they had spent their whole lives on top, they now had to hide on the outskirts of a society far less civilized than that of the Romans. Of the Western Empire, only the Catholic church had survived the fall of Rome. It was only due to the survival of the church that much knowledge gathered during this time survived the fall; monks kept records of scientific discoveries in their monasteries' libraries. They became more feral, less civilized; for the first time, they didn't necessarily have blood available whenever they needed it, and they had to learn how to hunt properly without getting caught-and all without the guidance of the older generations, who left them to their own devices, content with their Byzantine Empire; the Christian influence, and the knowledge they brought with them, was more than welcome in the Byzantine Empire, as it contained most of the knowledge of Rome from the point of view of the muggles. The vampires who had ruled Western Rome developed a pack mentality not unlike that of the werewolves, although the two groups still harbored many a grudge for wrongs both real and imagined.
Around this time, wizarding society had just recently separated from muggle society, leaving their non-magical counterparts undefended. This lead to a period of violence that even muggles remember as a particularly bloodthirsty part of their history: vampires, as the western ones were now called, so as to make a distinction, were less civilized than their eastern counterparts and perpetuated the stereotype of bloodthirsty vampire barely more than a feral beast, unable to control its thirst. Fortunately for the species, society was in no position to prepare an army just for hunting down these nighttime killers, as the various factions were too busy warring against one another to focus on such a small problem. English vampyrs took advantage of this new reputation: no longer were vampyrs thought to infiltrate society, and so no magicals thought they needed to check muggle leaders for bite marks or other obvious signs of vampirism any longer. The English vampyrs infiltrated English society, albeit much more slowly and cautiously than had the vampires of Rome. They still adhered to the Code of Blood, and abided by the old ways.
This changed after the turn of the millennia: the various factions of Europe had become more civilized, to the point that they weren't constantly fighting one another, and had the resources to hunt down vampires. Furthermore, the Catholic church had grown in size and power, and was slowly converting muggles all across Europe. The next hundred years were spent mounting the Crusades, where the church rounded up religiously motivated men and marched into the Middle East with the intent of conquering the Holy Land. On their way back through both halves of Europe, they stumbled on a vampire coven. It was wiped out, but now they knew who/what was responsible for murders that had been going on for centuries. A hunt began across all of Europe that nearly wiped out the species. It was only after intense negotiation between Merlin himself and several higher-ups in the church, including numerous Cardinals and, if rumor is correct, the Pope as well, before the magical side of the Crusades were ended.
After nearly two centuries of this brutal massacring, which resulted in several "dark creatures" going extinct, a truce was called after a meeting between the higher Catholic leadership, several magical leaders, and the last remaining vampyr lord. The magical governments would be responsible with keeping vampyrs and vampires from running rampant; so long as they did so, the church would not actively hunt down magic users. The last vampyr lord, one Vladimir Tepes I, was allowed a castle and a gargantuan plot of land in a remote part of Transylvania; this area would be warded against muggles, keeping them away without drawing notice. It is noted that particularly determined individuals are capable of penetrating the wards, and they were by no means capable of keeping Vlad in by force, but no ward is perfect. So long as he kept from massacring muggles, this area would be a vampyr sanctuary for all those willing to follow his lead. Before he could have this land, he would have to track down vampyr covens throughout Europe and either convince them to follow him, or destroy them. He gladly agreed, and is quoted as saying "True death is the only just punishment for their betrayal of kin and blood." His only issue was one of population.
When Vlad argued that no plot of land could house all of Europe's remaining vampyrs, it was eventually agreed that each country's magical government would be have laws allowing covens to operate within their borders. Vlad's only stipulation was that should the country's laws come into conflict with the Code of Blood, the Code would have precedence. Without this, he said, the covens would not follow him and would continue killing without regard. This stipulation was allowed, providing that each magical government would have someone who knew the Code in it's entirety. This caused some concern, as no non-vampyr had ever heard the Code before, while every vampyr had it drilled into them their entire unlife. After much thought, Vlad agreed, but the individuals had to swear an Unbreakable Vow to never divulge it except where it was necessary to keep his people from persecution.
A neutral third party was brought in to serve this purpose: known as the Order of Secrets, they were an introvertive group of paranoid magicals who investigated the higher mysteries of magic. Their oaths of secrecy were perfect for this deal, and they alone were told the Code. Each member who was told was sent to each country participating in this negotiation to work as part of their government. In return, each magical government would make a new branch devoted to research, which would be lead by the individual in question. Over time, these people were trusted with the government's secrets as well. Today, they are known, as the English version is called, as the Department of Mysteries. It is noted that only the Department head is a member of the Order of Secrets: most other department members are uninitiated and, quite possibly, unaware of the origin of their occupation.
As time went on, and England slowly grew in power, branching all over the world, the church used its waning influence to smuggle vampyrs to other parts of the world; the two most common places were the prison colony of Australia and the New World. In both of these places, vampyrs were affected by the local pagan magic in ways previously unseen: the natural magic native to those areas interacted with the vampyr's fae nature and altered the magical attributes of roughly 20% of the local vampyr population, taking away their vulnerability to natural sunlight. This is the first recorded existence of "daywalkers", as they've come to be known. Those bitten by these alternate vampyrs have a 50% chance of becoming daywalkers themselves. The daywalkers were viewed by the primitive natives as higher beings, servants of their bloody gods. This made subjugation of the natives all the easier.
Over the centuries, the vampyrs of the New World watched as what was once sacred, primal land was cut up and distributed amongst the corrupt European nobles and governments. They grew discontent with following the orders of the prejudiced English. The daywalkers of the New World, who were more adept at blending into human society than any generation before them, influenced several key figures in the English colonies. Two centuries of observing the natives fight the colonists gave them the tactical knowledge to challenge the English soldiers stationed. By fighting the few soldiers stationed in the colonies while instigating a war between the French and the English (not the most difficult task), and mixing themselves into the rebel ranks, they were able to gain enough victories for the English colonies to separate from the Empire, becoming their own country.
Vampyr influence in the newly minted United States of America originally tried to limit government control of the people by having some of their mortal pawns present the Articles of Confederation, which severely limited the government from, among other things, taxing the people. The muggles and magicals quickly discovered the fatal flaws of these articles and replaced them before irreparable damage was done to the economy, much to the consternation of the vampyrs.
Abruptly, the bell rang, shocking the class awake and Harry from his reading. Binns, having finished his spiel, dismissed them with a "Have a good afternoon." As they were making their way out of the classroom, Harry heard "Mr. Potter, if you could stay behind for a minute." Glancing back, Harry saw that Professor Binns was still floating at the front of the classroom, looking directly at him. he waved Draco ahead before turning back to the teacher.
"Did you need something, Professor?" he asked.
Professor Binns stared at him thoughtfully for a few seconds, long enough for the barest trace of apprehension to creep through his student, before he said "I've been teaching this class since Gellert Grindelwald was the Dark Lord of the time, Mr. Potter. I've been here long enough that many things I saw in my youth have become history. Being a historian rather past his prime—" Harry just barely suppressed a snort, seeing as the man was more like a bit past his expiration date. "—I've had the opportunity to observe the changes taking place in our world firsthand. It is unfortunate that our world has been heading in a rather depressing direction for some time now. History is being repressed, but in rather subtle ways."
"Most of the...politically inclined members of society would prefer if certain parts of history were repressed and forgotten. But they can't simply remove sections from historical documents without the older generations going into an uproar. Instead, those in charge of such things changed the requirements of graduation in magical educational facilities: of all the subjects taken in your first two years, only History of Magic can be failed without holding you back a year. The tests are then made to focus on the Goblin Wars, both to remind the younger generation of why such creatures shouldn't be trusted, and because the names and dates are so similar and numerous that only the most studious child could keep track of them all." Harry thought of Hermione and gave a small smirk.
"Don't smirk: it gives the impression that you're plotting; as a Slytherin, it's best to keep everything contained. It's almost worse than monologuing. Back on track, the end result of these machinations is that most students who pass through this classroom have little to no interest in the subject at all. It's not often I see a student reading ahead for any reason; a more likely explanation is that you wished to read up on a particular part of history. I won't ask, because the answer inevitably brings up even more questions. However, if you've an interest, there are some...questionable sources in the Restricted section that give a more in-depth analysis of certain events and time periods. If you are interested, I shall alert Madame Pince as to your interest in such tomes; due to obvious reasons, I cannot write you a note." The ghostly professor stared him down, his face an impassive mask. "Are you interested?" Hadrian thought a moment, then nodded. "Excellent. I bid you good day, Mr. Potter." With that abrupt dismissal, he floated through the blackboard without another word. Harry shook himself and made his way out of the classroom towards the Great Hall.
Entering the hall, he made his way towards the Slytherin table. As he seated himself next to Draco and began the usual meaningless chatter that filled their mealtimes, he noticed several whispered conversations and conspiratorial looks-even more than usual. As the meal came and went, and he continued glancing around the table, he noticed that very few of the dirty looks he saw were directed at himself, but rather at Ginny. The corners of his mouth twitched it what could be confused for a smile or a grimace. He found it rather amusing that several of the usual pureblood-supremacists among the upper years were once again getting their panties in a bunch over an unexpected sorting and, once again, had taken a few weeks to really realize that it had happened.
Dinner came and went, with no announcements from the Headmaster. As the crowd of snakes made their way towards the dungeon, with Professor Snape in the lead, Harry planned out his evening: first, he had to attend the house meeting. Assuming no unexpected business came up, he'd have time to go the library for the books Binns recommended before bed: he'd spent too many nights the past week without sleep, and had to get to bed tonight.
Finally arriving at their destination, the Potions Master spoke the password and ushered everyone inside. Everyone took their seats and the meeting began. It was announced that Quidditch trials were over: Harry was on as Reserve Seeker, and would've been Main Seeker if he hadn't pulled Flint aside and told him about the vision enhancements. After hearing his spiel, Flint agreed that it was for the best that he wasn't their Main, and actually had also signed a second Reserve for the position. Draco had netted the spot of Main Seeker: he wasn't quite at Harry's level of skill, but between his own talent for the game and the fact that his father had bought him the new Nimbus 2001, he made short work of the competition. His father had also gifted an additional six brooms to the Slytherin team, each one ideal for a particular position.
Professor Snape informed them that, at the end of this year, they would be choosing electives. Rather than waiting until the end of the year to remind them of this, he said, he preferred to give them a year to ask around, find out which classes suited their goals, which teachers they were compatible with, and so on. They had several options: Ancient Runes, which focused on carving runes of various alphabets into surfaces to bring about magical effects; Arithmancy, which included the study of the magical formulae behind spells and rituals, using their Astronomy moon and star charts to calculate the ideal time and location to perform rituals, and etc; Care of Magical Creatures gave them experience dealing with magical creatures in a controlled environment, almost like a more creature-focused DADA class; Divination allowed them to explore the more mystical magic of prediction and foresight, allowing them to extend their senses through space and time using the power of magic; finally, Muggle Studies focused on giving students experience with muggle technology and customs, allowing them to better blend in when they needed to interact with the non-magical population. Professor Snape warned them that the Divination professor tended to focus on extending senses through time, which was more difficult and, often, only possible if you had the magical knack for it: he strongly advised them to think it through before signing up for the class.
With the usual business out of the way, the meeting seemed close to its conclusion when a call went out for miscellaneous business. It was at this point that several upper year students stood up. One of them, a sixth year named Sebastian Kegworth, said "I propose that a House censure be placed on Ginevra Weasley. Do any support my proposition?"
"I second this motion," called out Miles Fleetwood, a friend of Sebastian's.
"Motion carried," Professor Snape called out. "Initial vote?"
Harry's absentmindedly raised his wand along with everyone else, casting the spell that would vote down this proposition. The score was displayed on the front of a podium that had raised out of the floor in front of the fireplace. As more and more people finished deliberating and cast their vote spell, his mind raced: the house censure was used on those that didn't fit in with their house; if voted out by popular majority (defined as ⅔ of the house or more) she would no longer be a Slytherin, and would have to live in a fifth house set aside for such outcasts. But why?
If the initial vote didn't gather even ⅓ of the house, it would be dropped. If it was any higher than ⅓ but not quite ⅔, it would go on trial: a call would go out for a prosecutor, who would argue in favor of censure; they would state their case, and then a defender would be called to argue against it. After the defense spoke their piece, the house would vote once more. This time, the outcome would be determined by straight popular vote: more than half, they're out; less than half, they're in.
The vote had come to a close: it hovered right around 50%. Trial time. Harry glanced around the room: Draco and his shadows seemed indifferent at first glance, but Harry knew his friend well enough to see he was a bit nervous about this. He spotted Ginny, who was trying to hide her fear. That was good: fear would signal weakness to her prosecutor and only encourage this behavior in others. A call went out for prosecutor; of course, Kegworth was the one who responded. He walked to the podium, puffing out his chest in a way that he probably thought was much more impressive than it actually was. Even after he arrived at the podium, he still paused for dramatic effect.
"My fellow Slytherins," he began, "I have proposed that Ginny Weasley is undeserving of being a Slytherin. She is completely unfit for this house: she comes from a line of blood traitors, she has no political experience, and she refuses to respect the authority of those of us in higher standing than her; each of these is a trait unwelcome in Slytherin house, and is grounds for expulsion from this noble house. Thank you."
"Awfully short speech," Harry thought, as several flunkies began clapping. "No evidence, vague claims without proof, and his argument is based more on blood loyalty than house loyalty." As the clapping slowly ceased, a call went out for a defender. To the surprise of no one, Harry volunteered to be Ginny's defender. She looked troubled, but did not object.
As he made his way to the podium, Kegworth started jeering. "Of course you would defend a hopeless case, Potter."
He stopped, turning his head towards the offender. "Firstly, in a formal setting such as this court, you will address me as Lord Potter, if at all. Secondly, among the various rules that govern the house censure is that if you speak out of turn, your case can be thrown out for failing to adhere to the traditions laid down by the founders. Now, unless you'd like to have wasted all of our time, I would suggest you hold your tongue." Not waiting for an answer, he continued to the podium. He noted that Kegworth had an incredulous look plastered on his face; Professor Snape, meanwhile, seemed almost pleased, although it was difficult to tell.
"Ambition. Ambition is the primary quality Lord Slytherin desired when he and the other founders split Hogwarts' students into four. He wanted students who were willing to go further to meet their goals, who were willing to make sacrifices so that their plans could come to fruition. He wanted students willing to become more than they were. His students went on to become leaders, politicians, and generals, powerful wizards all. He took the students who desired power, and showed them the path. But he couldn't make them take it: they had to decide to take it themselves. They had to possess the drive to follow their goals to their conclusion; they needed to be able to discern when a particular idea was slowly running itself into the ground, so that it could be abandoned before it ruined them. Ambition is the quality upon which our great house was founded."
Ginevra Weasley comes from a long line of warriors and healers. The power her ancestors wielded has been suppressed in recent generations by the actions taken during the Wizarding World War by the forces of Grindelwald. Several dark sympathizers here in Britain attempted to wipe out House Weasley to deprive England of its powerful warriors. It failed, leaving only a handful of Weasleys alive. Fate conspired against them, preventing females from being born to assume Ladyship of the House. In centuries past, a fair number of the matriarchs of the Weasley clan were sorted into Slytherin; all of them went on to bring great advances to the magical world. Each one had the opportunity to join the political elite, and each one proved their worth."
"As time has gone on, more members of Slytherin House have joined the Dark Lord of their day than any other house. This has shown their ambition: they saw a corrupt government abusing its people, and tried to do something about it; the Light defeated the Dark, and then fixed the government that had caused the issue in the first place, in order to ensure that such a thing could never happen again. Without us, the Wizarding world would still be stuck in the Middle ages. But change can only come so quickly: it's up to us to bring it about. However, others view us as evil for the actions our house has taken in the past; they believe us to be dark by nature, evil by nature. We seek the improvement of society as a whole, but if everyone opposes us, we can't accomplish that goal."
"But when some of their own join us, they stop to think. They look at us differently. And when the realize the necessary role we play in society's advance, we can begin improving our world again. Of all the Slytherins who have gained fame throughout the centuries, most have not gained it as supporters of evil, but as champions of the people. And now we once more have the opportunity: Ginevra Weasley is the first female Weasley born into her house in over fifty years. What better sorting could she have received? Now she can benefit from our experience, and we have an ally who can open the path to societal advance. Don't throw away this golden opportunity when we have so much to offer each other. Thank you."
As he left the podium, a large number of people began clapping, amongst all years at that. The younger years were the most exuberant, but that was expected. Several upper years were sulking. Professor Snape called for another vote, and this time it gather less than 30% approval. It was declared that Ginevra Weasley would remain in the house. As was custom, she could not be tried for censure again for the next month; this kept particularly hard-headed individuals from bringing up a case every week until they got the result they wanted. The meeting was called to a close, and the gathered crowd dispersed.
Disappointed that he wasn't going to be able to make to the library before it closed, Hadrian began to head for his room; he was stopped by Ginny. "Why did you do that?" she asked, her features set rather oddly.
He regarded her dispassionately, before replying "We're friends, aren't we?"
"Are we?" she countered. 'I thought the thing with—"
"Just because you don't like one of my friends doesn't mean I'll stop being your friend. Or hers, for that matter. I'd love to discuss this more in-depth, but I really need some sleep. If you'll excuse me?" he brushed past her, leaving her with her confusion. He wasn't trying to be rude, but the whole matter was rather ridiculous, at least in his opinion. Hopefully his machinations would work and the two of them would learn to at least tolerate each other but for now...
He hit the pillow and passed out, sound asleep.
-September 22, 1992-
The forest hummed with the usual sounds of wildlife; bugs buzzing through the air, wolves howling in the distance, centaurs and unicorns bounding through the nearby brush every once in awhile. Another common sound pierced the night: leaves crunching beneath boots. Such sounds marked the coming and going of Hadrian Potter and his vampiric friend, Sable Dracula. The young lord was on his way to a strange meeting. As he went, he contemplated the events of the past few weeks.
He'd managed to speak with Daphne and Tracy privately after one of the study group sessions; they'd started back up now that there was actual work to be done. After some thought, it was decided that there was no reason to forbid first years from joining. Word spread through the younger years like wildfire, and a few first years showed up to the next session. The two female Slytherins had been interested in forming a closer relationship with Harry; the three had parted as friends that evening, although they still weren't all that close: allies was as far as they went for now.
His speech had the desired effect of getting Ginny off the hook, as well as serving to rebuild their friendship: she had come to him the next day during lunch to apologize for her thoughtless reaction. She'd spent the week since that event looking up historical accounts involving vampires and had discovered a number of her assumptions about the species were incorrect. She had been willing to meet with Sable once more, although she still didn't feel too secure about her. In the end, she opted out of joining him this evening, which was good considering he didn't want to take her along anyway.
An unintended side effect of his defense was that he reminded several politically inclined idiots that Ginny was set to be the Head of an Ancient and Noble house, and had been hounding her since the meeting. It had started out as plain old sucking up, but had quickly turned into manipulation, and eventually into outright threats. That last tactic hadn't gone so well, as the arseholes in question hadn't realized Flitwick was standing behind them when they'd implied they would put her in the hospital wing unless she became their "friend". The points they'd lost and the detentions they'd received means they got no sympathy from their housemates.
In regards to the speech, it also resulted in a handful of Slytherin firsties joining Hermione's study group; it was good to see people of different ages and houses getting along, even if with some slight reluctance and caution. Hermione was over the moon about this: she was scheduling tutoring between older students and first years to get them all ahead of their classmates. They'd help their friends, who'd help their friends, and soon enough, the whole first year would be ahead of the years before them-or at least, that was the plan. How well it would go would depend on how accepting the firsties were of some of their own making friends outside their year and house and leaving them back in leaps and bounds academically.
According to Ginny, Luna had been receiving similar attention from both Ravenclaws and Slytherins for a while now. Both Ginny and Harry worried about the blonde girl: she was nice enough, but neither one of them considered her normal by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, while they considered Luna's eccentricities to be what made her interesting, most people would find her lectures on mostly undiscovered creatures to be off-putting, especially in Ravenclaw. You'd think they'd be more open to the possibilities, but apparently scientific curiosity was dead in the house of intelligence, with only a few individuals willing to pry apart the universe
Her personality was partly due to her mother's "disappearance", as she referred to it; her father had withdrawn into his work, leaving Luna to take care of herself with no company but her imagination. According to Ginny, she stayed away from the village and the Burrow because around too many people, she tended to get even worse than normal. Harry imagined that just sharing a room with someone was causing her to withdraw into herself; she didn't talk to many of her classmates in a manner they could stand, she was up at all hours of the night probably to avoid her roommates, and she'd even been avoiding the Great Hall at meals, preferring to go directly to the kitchens. Of course, he'd found most of that out after a quick search through the Marauder's Map on a number of occasions. But until speaking to Ginny about their mutual friend, the idea that she'd be so anti-social wasn't one he'd considered.
So he'd gone searching for the blonde girl one night, and he'd found her: she'd been skipping through the halls, humming to herself...
He'd been watching her path for a while, and could only conclude that she had no set destination: her meandering journey somehow avoided every patrolling prefect, every watchful teacher; even Filch could find the source of the tuneless song now undoubtedly stuck in his head.
As was usually the case, he had the cloak with him, although he hadn't put it on yet; he preferred keeping his eyes on the map, only whipping it out and putting it on when the best path crossed with someone else's. But he could be quite stealthy when he needed to be; a childhood spent hiding from his cousin had prepared him well for danger, training him to check around every corner for a hidden danger just in case. So it was quite a surprise when he finally found her-she whispered "Hello, Hadrian," just as he snuck up behind her. In his surprise, he stumbled a bit; by the time he'd righted himself, she'd turned to face him.
"Hello, Luna," he replied. "What brings you here?"
"My feet, I suppose," she answered, casting her gaze around the deserted hallway. "If you meant to ask why, it's because I couldn't sleep. Why are you here?"
"I was looking for you." He paused. "I heard certain individuals have been rather...insistent on being friends..." He left it hanging.
"A few people," she affirmed. "They've been asking the most intriguing questions. But why are you interested?"
"Well, I think we're friends-" he began, checking the map before he continued. "-and I heard they were bothering you and Ginny. I wanted to know if you thought they went too far because...friends help friends out."
She stared at him. "You wanted to know if they'd been pressuring me into being a political ally." No response. "I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine; people tend to underestimate me, thinking I'm weak-minded because of what they think of as ramblings and delusions. Don't look like that, you've thought it too, but you're more open than they are. I've heard the name they whisper behind my back: Loony Lovegood. They think me mad." She paused in thought. "Perhaps they're right, but that doesn't mean I won't take advantage of their assumptions."
He blinked at her owlishly. "You pay attention more than most people."
"Yes," she agreed. "As do you."
They walked in virtual silence, only the soft, tuneless humming filling. She led them down a few hallways, still seemingly at random. Finally, he asked her "How do you know which paths to avoid the professors and prefects?"
"I forget what they're called," she says. "But I remember their name sounds like an echo of itself. They are beings made of sound. They whisper in a language not widely known, or even heard of, but I learned it. I read one of my family's books, and the knowledge came to me. Now I hear them speaking to each other. They're virtually everywhere you know; Hogwarts is filled with them. They are drawn to the castle by the magic, and stay for the gossip. They hear things, and can't help but echo them. And when I hear them mention to grumpy man in the next hall, I find a way to go around."
"And your humming...is that how you talk to them?" he asked.
"She looked at him bemusedly. "I haven't been humming, Hadrian."
"If you say so," he replied. "Well Luna, I must be off. Places to be; you understand."
"I do. Before you go...I was hoping you would be willing to take part in a ritual?" He looked at her, his eyebrows rising. "Oh, nothing bad; the equinox is coming up, and I found a marvellous tree in the forest that would be perfect for the ceremony. You could even bring your forest friend, although I don't know how interested she'll be."
Which brought him back to the present: he and Sable were making their way through the forest towards their usual sanctuary in the meadow with the huge tree. Sable asked him about the request, and the girl, but he didn't have much to tell her, other than it was Luna being Luna. She asked if Hermione was asked. He admitted to asking her if she was interested, but she'd been so tired: between scheduling tutoring for the younger year, her own schoolwork, keeping him and Draco from "taking their fighting too far" (the ruse was working well, but they really needed to tell her soon), and her project, she was running herself ragged. She'd gone off to bed early this evening, leaving sometime during dinner. All he could do for her was wish her a good night before she was gone.
As they arrived, and Harry helped Sable past the meadow edge, he spotted two figures by the tree: one, recognizable by her silver-blonde hair, was Luna. The other was slightly taller than Harry, but only just. Once they got closer, he could see that it was Neville Longbottom; odd, but his presence was a comfort; after all, he wasn't sure what kind of ritual Luna had in mind, but Nevill wasn't likely to be involved in something as strange as he thought (feared) that Luna might try to involve him in.
Luna had a sack with her, presumably filled with materials necessary for the ritual. Seeing them, she stood. "Lord Potter. Progeny Dracula. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Scion Lovegood," Sable responded. She glanced at Neville. "I remember you. You're Scion Longbottom." He nodded.
"I have to say, I wasn't expecting to see you here, Hadrian," Neville said. "Mind you, I wasn't expecting to be here myself, but I was wanting to perform the ritual; I just didn't think a sufficient tree would be present. And this..."he glanced upwards at the towering tree, "...well, it's not anything I expected to find near Hogwarts. But then, we're here for the Equinox ritual I suppose."
"Quite," Luna replied. If we're all ready, let's begin."
The ritual carried on for nearly an hour, ending at the stroke of midnight. Along the way, many odd tasks were carried out to celebrate the waning autumn and the coming winter. Sable's involvement was rather lacking, but it didn't deter Luna. Indeed, it seemed as though the Ravenclaw had forgotten their presence: she didn't look at them often, and never for long, and although she spoke instructions clearly, the words had a feeling of ceremony to them, as if she would have said them that way even if noone else was present. When it was all finally over, she smiled and thanked them for their involvement before she left the meadow in the direction of the lake. Neville rushed to accompany her, as did Harry once he had bid goodbye to Sable.
On the journey back to the castle, Neville said "Dracula, huh?", shooting a glance at Harry.
Hadrian said "I'd like to say it surprised me, but after everything else, I've gotten good at taking things in stride. Although Luna sure threw me for a loop the other day."
"Yeah," Neville said with a chuckle, "She does that. How'd you meet her, anyway?"
"She lives close to the Weasley's. I was staying at their house over the summer-at least, for part of it. You?"
"Some political party Gran dragged me to. I wasn't too interested, and was trying to avoid people, and I came across Luna in some room off the main hallway reading a book. We talked for a while, and kept in contact. Mind you, this was before..." He cleared his throat. "Well. She didn't send very many letters after that, but now that she's at Hogwarts, I can talk to fairly often."
"I've seen you at Hermione's study group fairly often. Anything in particular you have trouble with, or is it just curiosity?"
"I've been struggling with most subjects, but the groups stuff has helped tremendously. Potions in particular has been rather difficult, especially since Professor Snape is kind of...intimidating."
"He can be," Harry acknowledged.
"I'm pretty good at Herbology, though. I've been trying to find a way to turn a familiarity with plants into some sort of brewing knowledge. It's going well enough: I've been scraping by, but I'd prefer something more substantial, if only to please my Gran. She's got rather...high standards."
By this time, they'd arrived at the side entrance closest to the lake. Luna slipped through and was out of sight by the time the two young men had passed through. They each gave the other their regards and went their separate ways. Harry made his way down into the dungeons, eventually reaching his room in the Slytherin dorms. He got to sleep fairly quickly: the ritual had been a bit draining, both physically and magically.
A circular chamber, perhaps a hundred meters in diameter, filled his field of vision. He was inside of it, on a wall some 15 meters off the ground, frozen in place, only able to change where his gaze was directed. He could see nothing; darkness filled the chamber, with ghostly shadows occasionally visible against the constant black backdrop. The only sources of light were the outline of a small door on the side of the chamber to his right and a column of bright light shining down onto a pedestal. The column of light was the purest light he'd ever seen, clearer than sunshine at high noon without a cloud in the sky. It seemed almost heavenly. It was odd that anything further than a meter from the light was too bathed in shadow to see.
Well, almost everything. The shadows flitting in and out of the darkness that engulfed them seemed rather detached; less so were what appeared to be two shadows clashing together. Only visible as dark greys against the unnaturally black darkness that filled this place, two shades were colliding rather violently, occasionally shooting gray at each other. A screeching, grating voice filled the chamber, like that of a man dying of thirst, or a dozen out-of-tune violins being played by drunkards. And yet, it sounded like words to him.
"You cannot defeat me, boy. I am too powerful, and too experienced. You are another test of my power, another soul sent along to train me into the most powerful-"
"Do you ever shut up?" another voice interrupted. "Always going on about your mission, and your perfection. From where I'm standing, unless your mission involves waiting for everyone on the planet to die so you can rule the world, then you're doing a bang-up job. If you're supposed to leave this room and actually accomplish something...honestly, your efforts can only be called pathetic."
"Arrogant child!" the first voice hissed. "Your hubris will be your downfall."
"Perhaps," came the reply. "But it will do you in first, if I have anything to say about it."
Hadrian jerked awake, his heart jackhammering away. Calming down, he noted that he'd only been asleep for a few hours. His mind troubled he returned to his slumber as best he could.
A.N.: Well, well, well. Another history lesson, some Slytherin intrigue and debate, odd rituals, and dreams. Before I leave, I'd like to make a request: the historical section of this chapter was thoroughly researched so that it lines up with actual events. That being said, I'm not perfect; if something not related to vampires threw you off as being historically inaccurate, please let me know. That kind of things bugs me. Other reviews are welcome too, of course: I love hearing from you guys. If everything goes according to plan, the next chapter should get us to Halloween. In the story, not in real life...hopefully. Thanks for tuning in; see you next time!