Disclaimer: JKRowling owns Harry Potter! Unfortunately, I am not she, and don't make the big bucks. Nor do I make any money from this fic – it's written solely for my amusement, and yours.
A/N: Alright, first off, wow. Only two chapters, and 115 reviews already? Never expected such a great reaction to this story, but apparently y'all like it so far.
Secondly, still on the reviews, I loved all the feedback from you guys. Some of you hit things right on the nose, others are rather off from my actual planned course of the story, but it's great to see you guys already guessing future events and giving suggestions. I tried to reply to every review, but I may have missed some here or there.
Now, this chapter (ugh, RL has been a bitch, but I finally got this out): I've always been disappointed by the complete lack of even a look into an Ancient Runes class in the Harry Potter books, so we'll get our first look here at my take on that class. Probably Arithmancy next chapter. Anyway, have fun, read, and let me know what you think!
Chapter 3: Classes
The storm had blown itself out by the next morning, though the rattling of windows and howling of the wind had woken Harry several times. It was, however, better than the strange 'dreams' he'd been having during the summer that made his scar ache.
Dean and Seamus were already up and noisily getting ready for the day when Harry headed down to the showers, and they were gone from the dorms when he got back. Neville was close behind him in getting back from showering, and Ron had emerged from his bed and thrown on his uniform with his hair still bedraggled from sleep.
"Hey," Ron grunted blearily. "Breakfast?"
Harry grabbed his rucksack and nodded – apparently, Ron was forgoing a shower, as well as avoiding mentioning his behavior the previous day. "Yeah, Neville and I were just about to head down. Hermione's probably already waiting for us in the Common Room."
Sure enough, she was. She flashed them a smile, and then raised an eyebrow at Ron's appearance, but seemed to visibly hold her tongue – though Harry could almost hear what she'd refrained from saying: "Honestly Ronald, it's only our first day of classes and you're already sleeping in?"
They clambered down the steps of Gryffindor Tower and down to the main floor of the castle, to the Great Hall. Through the ceiling, Harry could see the sky was still overcast – steely gray clouds hanging low over the sky – though it was clear the storms were done with for the most part.
Ron's sleepiness disappeared at the breakfast table as he stacked bacon and eggs onto his plate, and soon enough he seemed back to normal, with none of the sulkiness of yesterday apparent. Hermione had her essays balanced on her knee – for her to edit for what was probably the fiftieth time – as she absently ate a piece of toast, glancing up from time to time when he or Ron said something to her. Down the table Harry could hear Fred, George, and Lee discussing various methods to beat the safeguards that would be put into place to enter the tournament – a number of them ones he'd heard Ron talking about the previous night.
Soon, during their meal, Professor McGonagall came around passing out their course schedules for this year, and nodded to Harry as she handed him his. Hermione eagerly put her essays back into her bag, and took her schedule and began to look it over.
"Today's not too bad, outside all morning – good thing the weather's cleared" Ron said, running his finger down the Monday column of his course schedule. "Herbology with the 'puffs this morning, and Care of Magical Creatures – Damn it, still with the Slytherins."
Harry was glancing at his own schedule, and picked out his new classes – one today and one on Wednesday – when he heard Ron groan mightily.
"Double Divination this afternoon," Ron said, shaking his head. "We'll be stuck in that stuffy old tower for hours."
"You should have given it up like me," Hermione said, as she buttered another piece of toast. "Then you could be doing something sensible, like Arithmancy."
Deciding now was the best time to announce it – whilst Ron was having one of his favorite meals of the day, which was sure to keep him in a somewhat decent mood – Harry spoke up. "I did drop it, actually."
Hermione glanced up, her surprise evident on her face, while Ron almost choked on a piece of bacon.
"What, mate?" Ron asked. "You mean I could've just dropped it and we could have had Monday and Wednesday afternoons off?"
Hermione scoffed. "No, Ron, you need to have at least two electives, and if you did that you would only have Care of Magical Creatures." She eyed Harry with interest. "What class did you pick up? I'm sure you'd have an easy time with Muggle Studies."
Harry shook his head. "No, I decided to take Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. I'm in the 3rd year class for those, so it looks like your Mondays and Wednesdays are the reverse of mine," he said.
Hermione's entire face lit up. "Oh Harry, really? I'm so happy to hear that, I'm sure you'll enjoy both of them. They're such useful things to learn, and if you need any help just ask me, I've got all my notes from last year up in my trunk."
Harry chuckled, having expected exactly that sort of exuberant response to the news from her. "Thanks, Hermione, I'll definitely be taking you up on that."
"Bloody hell, Harry, you dropped an easy class like Divination for two hard ones? I think you've been around Hermione too much and she's starting to rub off on you. We need to get you playing Quidditch fast before you start spending all your time in the library." Ron said, peering over at Harry's class schedule.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I just decided there were better ways to spend my time than sitting in that smoky tower and listening to Trelawney predict my death every class, and do something I could use when we get out of Hogwarts."
Hermione looked quite pleased at Harry's explanation, but Ron just shook his head in disbelief. "If you say so, mate." He scratched his head. "I reckon my dad might like it if I took Muggle Studies, but then I've already put a year into Divination and would be a year behind the other class. I'm sticking with Care and Divination – no reason to go making school harder than it needs to be."
A sudden rustling noise filled the hall and brought a distracting end to the conversation, as well over a hundred owls came streaming in through the open windows, and swooped down to the students below to drop off mail, newspapers, and packages. Harry was disappointed to not see Hedwig, but then again he had no idea where she'd had to fly to drop off his letter to Sirius.
An owl settled down next to Neville with a package – likely something he'd forgotten to pack. Harry glanced across the hall, and down the table from Malfoy who had received his usual package of sweets from home, he saw Daphne tying a letter to the leg of a Tawny Owl, leaving Harry with a smile on his face for the rest of breakfast.
They trudged across the vegetable patch – which had become sodden and mucky after last night's storms – until they reached Greenhouse Three for their first class of the school year – most of the Hufflepuffs were already there, including Susan who was talking to her blond-haired friend Hannah Abbot. He saw the pink-cheeked girl glance at him and then lean over and whisper something to Susan, leading both girls to giggle softly; he realized that Susan's giggle didn't grate on his nerves like Parvati's or Lavender's might.
Professor Sprout brought them over to an area of the greenhouse where some rather ugly looking plants were protruding vertically from the soil. They looked like large, thick black slugs, and it even seemed as if they were wriggling slightly. At the ends of each of the plants were what appeared to be liquid-filled pustules.
"Bubotubers," Professor Sprout announced as they gathered around the odd plants. "They are sorely in need of squeezing. Your assignments today will be to collect the pus-"
Seamus interrupted her, asking her to repeat what she'd said, and she proceeded to explain that the pus of the bubotuber was a valuable substance, though it often had bad reactions to skin, thus they needed to wear their dragonhide gloves for the rest of class.
Harry, Neville, Hermione, and Ron found a spot to sit around one of the patches of bubotuber plants as Sprout passed around bottles to the class. Susan settled in next to Harry, pulling her long red hair back into a ponytail, and she was joined by Hannah on her other side. She gave Harry a soft nudge with her elbow, and then slid on her dragonhide gloves, acting as if she hadn't done a thing.
Neville, who was on the other side of Harry, had already begun. He was quite good at Herbology so Harry kept an eye on him as he slowly squeezed the bubotuber, aiming it at one of the bottles. The next moment, the swelling pustule at the end popped, and shot out a thick yellow-green liquid that stank of petrol.
"That is just so wrong," said Susan, who had been watching Neville as well. She took a deep breath through her mouth looking slightly queasy as she reached out to grab one of the bubotubers in front of her. "Pus," she muttered. "Of all possible assignments after I ate a full breakfast."
Harry mumbled his agreement. It was a disgusting task, made even worse by the smell of the liquid, but it turned out slightly satisfying to squeeze out the disgusting pus – though imagining the plants crying out for mercy as he did so, certainly helped that. By the end of the lesson, they had collected several pints of the liquid, and no one had lost their breakfast – though the wan look on Susan's face suggested she had come close to doing so.
"You alright there, Susan?" Harry asked quietly as Sprout began to stopper the bottles.
Susan nodded gratefully as he took her bottle from her hand and passed it down to Neville who in turn gave it to Sprout. "I'll be alright, it's just - I get a little queasy around things like that for some reason. The smell made it even worse." She shuddered. "I hope that's it for bubotubers. If we have to do this next class…"
Harry grinned slightly, and let her lean on his shoulder to push herself up as she stood, before standing himself. "Well, unless these things regenerate their pus and skins quickly, we probably won't see them again for a while."
Susan glanced out over the now pus-less crop of bubotubers, and realized that indeed they had taken pus from all of them during the course of the class.
"This will make Madame Pomfrey happy," Professor Sprout said as she stoppered the last bottle, mentioning that bubotuber pus could be used as an effective treatment for more severe acne, though some students weren't aware and tried to take matters into their own hands.
"Poor Eloise Midgen," Hannah said in a hushed whisper next to Susan. "She tried cursing her acne off."
"What a silly girl," Sprout said, shaking her head. "Thankfully Madame Pomfrey fixed her nose right back onto her face."
The booming bell echoed across Hogwarts school grounds, signaling the end of their class. Susan – now regaining color as they left the greenhouse and got into the fresh outside air – followed the rest of the Hufflepuffs up the stone steps toward their Transfiguration class, pausing once to wave back at Harry as the Gryffindors headed down the sloping lawn toward their Care of Magical Creatures class with Hagrid.
Their morning was apparently the morning of ugly things, as not only did they have to deal with bubotubers (as well as Malfoy and his goons), Hagrid's 'magical creatures' for the class were ugly, pale, slimy lobster-looking things, covered in legs and smelling of rotting fish. Hagrid announced them to be Blast-Ended Skrewts – named after the sparks and propulsion that randomly shot out of the creatures and propelled them around – and informed them that their assignments for the near future were to raise the creatures, which were recently hatched.
He had unfortunately never raised any before, so their first class was spent trying to feed the creatures various things including eggs and frog livers, none of which they seemed to eat. By the end of the class, the creatures had not eaten a single piece of the various foods offered to them, and had caused quite a few burns to the hands of some of their fellow students.
"Well, at least the Skrewts are small," said Ron as they made their way back up to the castle for lunch after their class – the ground had dried slightly despite the sun being hidden mostly by the wispy grey clouds, making it a much more pleasant trip than the one they'd taken earlier in the morning.
"For now," Hermione said warily, "but once Hagrid finds out what they eat, I don't think they'll stay that way."
"As long as they don't grow as big as Fluffy, we should be alright," Harry said with a grin, referring to the enormous 3-headed Cerberus dog they'd faced in their first year, which Hagrid affectionately and very inaccurately named 'Fluffy'.
Ron paled slightly. "Imagine one of those things blasting around by their ends. You'd be dead the moment they landed on you!"
Lunch was over quick enough, and Hermione left a few minutes before the afternoon bell rang to get to her Arithmancy class, saying she needed to make one last edit to her summer essay.
At the bell, Ron gave a grudging 'goodbye' to Harry, and joined Dean and Seamus in their climb to Divination classroom at the top of the North Tower. Harry had to glance back at his course schedule to find his classroom – one on the 6th floor of the main part of the castle – and realized he'd never even paid attention to where Hermione went for her classes apart from the ones she took with him.
It took a few wrong turns and staircases for him to get to where he wanted to go, but he eventually reached the classroom. As he stepped in he noted it was large – not quite as big as the Defense classroom, but easily the size of their Charms classroom.
Charts covered with unfamiliar symbols hung from the walls, some covered with the symbols and others seeming to be translation charts for the symbols. A low countertop ran around the perimeter of the room and was covered with objects of all shapes and sizes, each carved with runic script. He saw some rock tablets in one of the corners of the room that looked as if they could have come from ancient megaliths like Stonehenge, and nearer to him he saw long pieces of wood similar to the piece he'd used on the train compartment just the previous day.
A number of the Third Year Ravenclaws were already in the room at seats, though it seemed he was the first Gryffindor to enter the room. Off to one side, away from the other girls, he caught sight of a familiar head of brown hair. Ignoring several stares and whispers from the Ravenclaws that were huddled together, he reached the front of the room, and sat next to Astoria, who gave a startled gasp before realizing who had sat down.
"H-Harry," she said, her hand rising to her chest. "You surprised me. Professor McGonagall let you join the class?"
When he nodded, she grinned widely. "Great!" She exclaimed, and then blushed heavily when she realized how quiet the room had gone.
"Y-you still want to be study partners?" She asked, after Harry looked across the room, causing everyone to look away quickly and start talking again.
"Of course," Harry said with a soft smile to the younger girl.
Astoria's grin returned, and then a look of realization passed over her face. "Oh, Daph told me if I saw you, she sent a letter to Mum this morning, about the Owl block on you." She glanced around the room, which had begun to fill with more Ravenclaws, and some of the Gryffindors that had entered the class. "Daph wouldn't say it, but I think Mum was sad that you never responded – she'll be really glad to get that letter."
Harry swallowed down a bit of guilt as he looked at Astoria's watery, hazel eyes. He knew there had been no way to know that sort of mail was being stopped, but his – and Ron's – attitude in the last few years had kept Daphne from ever approaching him. He swore once again that he would do his best to continue to start friendships with others outside of his house, and Astoria would be one of them.
He was about to respond to Astoria, when a soft, dreamy voice spoke up from his left.
"Would you mind if I sat next to you, Harry Potter?"
Harry glanced over, and found a Ravenclaw girl standing mere inches from him, leaving him to wonder how he hadn't heard her approach. Her straggly, dirty-blonde hair was nearly waist-length, and her protuberant grey eyes – framed above by faint blonde eyebrows – seemed to be both staring at him and at something behind him at the same time. He glanced down, taking in an odd Butterbeer cork necklace hanging from her neck, and saw one of her dainty hands resting on the chair beside him, each of her nails painted a different color, ranging from bright pink to neon green.
"Err, sure," Harry said.
"Oh, Harry," Astoria said from the other side of him, and he glanced back over to her as the odd blonde girl sat down on the other side of him. "This is my friend Luna Lovegood."
Harry looked once more to the blonde, who had set her rucksack on the table and pulled out several books before turning her dreamy gaze back to him. "Hello Luna," he said, holding out a hand. "It's nice to meet you, I'm…" he trailed off as he remembered her first words. "I guess you know who I am already."
Luna stared at his hand for several long moments before reaching out to shake it – her own hand was tiny, only slightly more than half the size of his own, and cool in his grasp. "Yes, Harry Potter, I know who you are. Most people do. It's nice to see you in our class, and even nicer to see that your Wrackspurt infestation has cleared up."
"Infestation?" Harry asked, perplexed.
She nodded confidently. "Wrackspurts. They're invisible. They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy, but it looks like your infestation has cleared up quite nicely."
Astoria gasped, her face going red again at her friend's comment. "Luna! That's not nice!"
Harry chuckled, and looked at Luna with new interest. He wasn't sure if she was serious – for all he knew she could be creature-obsessed like Hagrid, and there really was such a thing. Or she could just be having him on and being rather starkly honest about how he'd behaved the past few years, masking it in terms of a made-up creature. He wasn't sure which he preferred, but either way, she had a refreshingly odd personality that he was already beginning to like.
"I guess you're right then," Harry said with a wry grin. "My Whatsits have stopped fuzzing up my brain."
"Wrackspurts," Luna said again, this time sounding rather scarily like Hermione when she corrected Ron or him.
He heard a titter of laughter, and mocking whispers from across the room where a group of Ravenclaw girls sat. As he glanced back to where they were staring at Astoria, Luna, and himself, he nearly missed a hurt look flash across Luna's face at the whispers. Just as soon as it appeared, her face returned to its dreamy state, and she seemed to pointedly not turn around toward the laughing students.
Instead, she locked her protuberant eyes on the empty spot on the table in front of Harry. "Harry Potter, did you forget your books?"
"Please, just call me Harry," he said, and then nearly slapped his forehead as the rest of her words registered. He had planned to take Hermione up on her offer and to ask to borrow her books as well until he could send in an order through owl post for the books, but had completely forgotten about it at lunch.
"Erm, yeah sort of. I didn't know if I'd be able to get into this class, so I don't have any books. I was going to borrow from my friend Hermione until I could send a post order from Flourish and Blotts, but I forgot to ask her."
"No need to do that, Mr. Potter," a cheery female voice came from behind them down the aisle of the classroom. A woman who looked to be in her sixties strode up to the front of the room, a pair of silver eyeglasses catching the light of the room as she turned. Her greying brown hair was pinned up into a bun, and a kindly smile dominated her face, causing her cheeks to dimple noticeably. "I'm sure your table-mates would be willing to share for today, and I have some extra textbooks back in my office that I'd be willing to sell – it will save you that dreadfully high multi-book shipping charge that Flourish and Blotts has."
"Thank you, ma'am," Harry said.
Her smile widened. "I'm glad you have decided to take this course, I was disappointed not to see you in class last year." She looked out over the rest of the class. "As I'm sure you're aware from your class schedules, I am Professor Bathsheda Babbling. If you're not here for Ancient Runes, you're in the wrong classroom," she said with a chuckle.
"As I already know who Mr. Potter is, I'd like to get to know the rest of you as well, so we'll begin with our roll call," she took a parchment off her desk, and started to call names.
Harry glanced around the room as the others responded, and received an energetic wave from Colin Creevey from across the room when he spotted him. One noticeable absence from the Third Year Gryffindors – though he had to admit he only knew perhaps half of them in passing – was Ginny Weasley. It was a bit surprising, but after thinking about it he realized he didn't really know what her interests were – she may have found other classes to be more worth her while.
Once the last of the names were called, Professor Babbling rolled up the parchment and tossed it back to her desk. As he glanced down he realized he'd missed a bit of coordination between the girls on either side of him – Astoria had moved her Beginner's Guide To Ancient Runes book closer to him, and Luna had opened up her Rune Dictionary on the other side, so he could look at both of the required textbooks with little effort.
He whispered a soft "Thanks" to them as Professor Babbling moved over to the large blackboard on the wall, and pulled on a cord, gently bringing down a large chart that had been rolled up above. It was titled Runes And Other Magical Symbols Of The World, and was covered with hundreds of different symbols, each grouped together by the society that had used them, ranging from Norse to Incan to Japanese.
"The name of this class is not exactly accurate," Professor Babbling began. "We will certainly cover the ancient runes of past civilizations, but there is much more to the subject than just that – some civilizations never used runes, but instead other symbols or pictures that they imbued their magic into for various purposes."
She waved a hand at the chart. "As you can see, nearly every magical culture has used Runes and similar symbols. In fact, they are Old Magic, and were used many years before any Witch or Wizard ever created the first Staff or Wand. Runes have always been very versatile, and very powerful, even more powerful than a normal spell."
She nodded to a Ravenclaw, Thomas if Harry remembered correctly from the roll call, who sat across the aisle from them and had raised his hand.
"Why don't we use them more then? If they're that good, shouldn't this be a required course?" The boy asked.
Bathsheda chuckled. "Excellent question. If I had my way, it would be a required course, even though it would mean a lot more work for me in grading, but unfortunately I don't make coursework decisions – that's left to the Headmaster and the Hogwarts School Board."
She paused for a moment. "To answer your other question, Runes in the form that you can see here are not used as often in the present due to the fact that they can get very complicated, and the more complex runic arrays can be dangerous if even a single mistake in a rune is made. They can also take a long time to set up the same effect that you get from a few seconds of wandwork."
Babbling lifted a hand-sized stone tablet from her desk, and ran her finger over the runes. "They are still used in the creation of wards, however. Every ward is created through use of wardstones, which are covered with runes that set up the spell that they are meant to produce. Typically a ward will consist of an anchor stone, much like this, and will be connected to perimeter stones, which it provides magical power to, in order for them to create the ward itself."
She lowered her hand to tap the wand she'd placed on her desk. "Very few people know this, but everyone uses runes every day without even realizing it. When you enter school, the importance of wand movements is emphasized for new students. What those movements actually are, however, are strings of runes meshed together. You are essentially drawing runes with your magic as you move your wand, and because each rune has a different effect, that is the reason why every spell has its own unique wand movement. Because younger witches and wizards have much weaker magic, the wand movements create runes that help to concentrate the magic they do have, and work together with your wand and wand core in focusing it into a spell with the effects you want."
Harry raised his hand now, and she called on him. "But it's possible to do magic without those movements, or even without a wand, right? We've all seen the Headmaster do it at the Opening Feast before…"
Babbling shook her head slightly. "It's certainly possible – in your sixth year you learn how to do spells without speaking the incantation, and in seventh year you begin to learn how to do the spells without wand movement, though few master that. The Headmaster is certainly capable of some wandless magic, but I'm afraid most of what you see at the Opening Feast is a bit too complex even for him. It is actually the house elves that belong to Hogwarts that make your food and plates appear when he waves his hands."
Harry sat back in his seat, a bit disillusioned at hearing that, though he realized it made some sense. Remembering Hermione's outrage at house elves being owned, he was rather glad she wasn't in the class to hear that Hogwarts' meals were served – and likely cooked – by elves that belonged to the school. Knowing her, she'd go on a hunger strike.
"Now," Professor Babbling said, clapping her hands together. "During the first half of the year, we will be focused only on the drawing and memorizing of runes and their meanings. You may find it somewhat boring, but I promise you that if you get the basics down now, the next few years will be very fun."
Babbling passed out a several-page syllabus to each student, which scheduled out their reading and homework assignments for the fall term. "We will start this week by focusing on a set of runes created by Germanic tribes, known as the Elder Futhark Runes. They are the oldest actual Runic alphabet, though magical symbols were used back in Ancient Egypt – we'll cover those more complicated symbols in your next year. The Elder Futhark was later changed in Scandinavia into the Younger Futhark, and then by the Anglo-Saxons into the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, which would have been used by wizards like Merlin, and the Founders of this school. In fact, a few examples of their use of the runes still exist today on some of Hogwarts' anchor stones, should you someday have the fortune of viewing those."
"As you can see, there will be a lot of work the next few months, but if you look at it, you're essentially starting to learn several dozen new languages all at once. When you have a grasp on them, the work will become easier, and will be more about application rather than memorization." She held up one of the textbooks.
"Okay, to start off, let's turn in our Rune Dictionary to the Elder Futhark section, and begin to talk about the first rune, the fehu rune, which in the language of the time meant 'wealth' – or more literally, 'cattle' or 'sheep', the mobile wealth of people in those days. This rune is most often used for amplification of other runes, by providing a 'wealth' of power to others, amplifying the magic flowing through a runic array – muggleborns here might recognize it as similar to the devices on electric lines that changes the strength of the electricity. Transformers, I believe? When we get further into the course we'll see that runes can be reversed, and have the opposite effect, in this case decreasing magic flow."
"Now," she said, reaching out to her rune chart to tap a specific rune, which suddenly took over the full length of the chart while everything else faded into the background. "I'd like you all to practice inscribing this rune onto your papers – two dozen times should be a good start, for me to get an idea of who needs help, and with what."
Even though it was a Double class, taking up the afternoon, the class was over all too soon for Harry who had found himself beginning to quite enjoy it. Professor Babbling kept the class lively, pausing from time to time for anecdotes on each rune that they covered. She had an engaging style of teaching, and explained things in a simple way that he really liked. If only she could teach Potions!
They went over half of the Elder Futhark alphabet – 12 of 24 letters – and it had come almost naturally to him. Within one or two attempts on each rune he was drawing them almost flawlessly. Out of the class only Luna seemed to be matching him, though she had quietly informed him that her father regularly used runes and made rune puzzles in his paper, The Quibbler, so she knew many of the runic alphabets they were set to learn over the first few weeks.
Astoria had some difficulties in the drawing of the runes, so he and Luna spent their free time after perfecting their own, helping her out and giving her advice, while Professor Babbling moved around the room and helped some of the groups having the most trouble. He felt a shameful bit of glee that the group that had been laughing and whispering about Luna were the ones in the most need of help in the class thus far.
Just over the course of the class he realized he already viewed the quirky young blonde as a friend, and felt a bit of protectiveness well up in him, especially when she had to borrow a quill and ink from him due to hers going missing. She said something about creatures called Nargles stealing them, but he caught a glimpse of Astoria glaring back over her shoulder at some of her classmates, and suspected they had something to do with it. Given Astoria's reaction he guessed this sort of thing had happened their previous years. Bullies were one thing he had no tolerance for, having been bullied for years by his cousin and his cousin's friends, especially when they targeted those he viewed as his friends.
"Alright everyone," Professor Babbling spoke up as the bell rang to indicate the end of their class. "You have your homework – a short essay on the meanings of the runes you learned. I recommend you keep practicing with your rune-writing as well – there may just be a small quiz at the beginning of next class," she said with a wink. "Mr. Potter, if you're not busy, could you stay after class? I'd like to talk with you, and we need to see about getting you those coursebooks."
Harry nodded, and packed away his notes. "See you next class, Astoria," he said, and then turned to Luna, who was trying to hand him his spare quill and inkwell.
He shook his head, and reached down grab her hand and close it around the objects. "Keep them, Luna. I have plenty, and you'll need them tomorrow anyway. It was very nice to meet you – I hope you'll sit with us next class?"
Luna's face lit up, and she gave him a crooked smile. "You are a very good person, Harry Po-" she paused, her brows furrowing. "Harry, I mean. Thank you for the gift, I would love to sit with you and 'Stori again."
He returned her smile, and then let go of her hand, watching as she pulled that hand up to clutch the quill and inkwell almost reverently to her heart, and then pull her rucksack over the shoulder of her free arm.
"Bye Harry," Astoria said before she grabbed Luna's elbow and led her dreamy friend from the room, which was now nearly empty.
He turned back to find Bathsheda waiting for him, and when the last student filed from the room, she smiled warmly at him. "Come, Mr. Potter, let's talk in my office."
She led him out a side door he hadn't noticed, and then down the hall toward a staircase, talking as she went. "You looked like you were enjoying the class," she said conversationally.
Harry nodded. "I did – I think this might become my favorite class."
"Though I suppose getting out of Divination probably helps your perception?" She asked, and then chuckled when he blushed and stammered. "Don't worry, I took Divination when I went here, and you lasted about six months longer than I did. It's good for people that have that sort of gift, but most of us don't. Even back then, most students used it as an easy grade-buffer to get an easy extra OWL or NEWT. I couldn't stand it – I needed something that made me think, something that made sense, and that's how I ended up focusing on Ancient Runes."
Harry nodded hesitantly, not used to professors speaking so frankly about the merits – or lack thereof – of the classes of their colleagues. "It… I realized it wasn't going to help me in any careers I'm interested in, and…" He paused, and decided to be just as frank as she had been. "I was tired of stumbling through it and making things up in class."
She winked knowingly at him as they reached the bottom of the moving staircase and started walking along the fifth floor corridor. "I know exactly what you mean. If you don't mind me asking, what careers are you thinking about?"
"Well, mainly Curse-Breaking right now."
"Ah," she said, and slowed slightly. "I assume you spoke to Bill Weasley then?" At his nod, she continued. "Since you're friends with the Weasley family I figured that would have been the case. I thought of going into Curse-Breaking, but back in those days it was a man's career, and very few women were welcome. I hear that's changed now, something like forty-percent of 'Breakers are women."
They finally stopped in front of a nondescript door, which she opened. The candles around the room flickered to life as she entered, and he found himself in a room that looked quite similar to the classroom. There were once again runestones and other objects covering much of the open surfaces, charts and runic writings hanging on the wall – the only difference was that a full half of the walls were covered by ceiling high bookshelves stuffed full of books both old and new.
She walked over to a particular bookcase and reached up, running her finger along the bindings of a number of textbooks until she found the ones she was looking for. She pulled the two books from the shelf, and set them on her desk before inviting him to sit in one of the armchairs. Rather than going to the side of her desk where her rather comfortable-looking chair sat, she took the second armchair next to his, and turned it to face him.
He reached into his rucksack and began to rummage around for the small sack he kept his Wizarding money in. "How much?" he asked, hoping he had the right amount with him – Molly Weasley had shopped for them this summer so he had no idea what any of his books had cost, let alone what these ones would cost, and had no chance to pick up extra money at Gringotts.
Professor Babbling shook her head, and grabbed the books from her desk, an almost wistful look passing over her face as she ran her hand down the cover of Beginner's Guide To Ancient Runes. "Save your money, Mister Potter. I just mentioned it in class so as to not cause you any ill-will amongst your fellow students."
She nodded toward his rucksack. "You truly have a gift for Runes, and I'm glad to be able to teach you. I've only seen one other student who has taken to the subject so quickly, and if you're anything like her, I expect you'll be teaching me a few new things in the next few years."
"Who was the other student?" He thought of both Luna and Hermione for the moment but realized Bathsheda had spoken of her as student from the past, one who had been her student for years.
"Your mother," she said gently, causing his heart to skip a few beats at what she had just told him. "Lily Evans was a genius with Runes – it was like a second nature to her, and it seems like she passed some of that on to you. Had she lived longer, I'm convinced she would have been the youngest witch to ever get a Mastery in the subject, and become one of the most famous Runemasters to ever live." She smiled wryly at him. "She was my favorite student, and I admit I was disappointed not to see you in my class last year."
Harry took a deep breath. "My mum… what- what was she like?" He asked softly.
Bathsheda seemed to gaze into the corner of the room behind him in remembrance. "She was smart- or rather, simply brilliant. Your friend Ms. Granger reminds me of her, though your mother was much less focused on just books than your friend is. Lily had a very wicked sense of humor – I don't recall the specifics, but I remember in her last few years at school she was using runes and wards to teach your father and his friends a series of painful lessons, and I believe they never pranked her again once she was through with them."
Harry chuckled slightly at that – the infamous Marauders being put in their place by his mother. He made a mental note to ask Sirius exactly what she'd done to them to scare them off of pranking her.
"Looking back," Bathsheda continued, her expression turning mournful, "I think she was expecting that she might not live through the war. Our last meeting had a certain feeling of…. finality to it. She came to visit me shortly before they went into hiding, and gave me her textbooks which she had written in over the years, and some of her notes, for safekeeping. Said I could probably use them more than she could with what was going on."
Bathsheda lifted the books from her lap and handed them to Harry. "I think she would want you to have them. There are more, but like I said in class, this is a dangerous subject – I'll give them to you when I think you have enough knowledge on the subject to handle them, if that's alright?"
Harry nodded absently before he carefully took the books she had proffered, and reverently opened one of them. He could feel tears prick at the corner of his eyes when he saw little doodles in the front cover, and then feminine handwriting along the margins of the first few pages, complete with plenty of circling of text and arrows, showing her thought processes as she had gone through. He ran his finger along some of the writing. The whole experience was rather overwhelming and he felt at that moment as if the books were the only thing other than himself in the world. Likely only his mother – and of course Professor Babbling – had touched these pages, and it was the first real thing he'd ever had that was close to her. He had received the Marauder's Map and the Invisibility Cloak that his father used, but other than pictures of Lily Potter in Hagrid's picture book, he had nothing from her except for the faint – and rather grim – memories that came to the forefront when Dementors were near.
He felt a wry smile spread across his face when he realized that many of her notes had tiny dates underneath each, some ranging from when she'd likely first got the book, and others up until 1979. 'She definitely had a good bit in common with Hermione,' he thought to himself.
"Thank you," he said – his voice cracking slightly as he looked up to Bathsheda.
"You're welcome," she said, and leaned forward to rest a hand on his shoulder. "From what I've seen, both in class today, and during your last few years, your mother would be incredibly proud of you. And I think you have the same promise she showed."
Harry nodded quickly and stared down at the books once more, trying to get his emotions under control – it wouldn't do to start crying in front of a Professor – if Ron, or worse, Malfoy, found out somehow, he'd never hear the end of it.
Bathsheda seemed to understand that as well, and gave him a few long moments before she began to talk again. "Now, Minerva tells me you were hoping to finish this year, and work over the summer on Fourth Year material and take a placement test to get placed with your Fifth Year classmates."
Harry nodded, though felt a niggle of doubt at the idea. Not the studying – he was certain he could get the material down, especially if Hermione helped him with a study guide – but leaving behind his newfound friends. To get the apprenticeship that Bill had mentioned, however, that's how it would have to be.
"I'd like to get all of my OWLS in my fifth year," he said.
She nodded, and pursed her lips. "Every student is welcome to come to me for tutoring, and if you plan to do that, I'd recommend it, to make sure you learn as much as possible of the basics. I'm sure Ms. Granger would be willing to help you as well. And over the summer, feel free to Owl me if you have any questions – I'll be sure to give you the syllabus and the list of materials you will need beforehand."
She smiled again as his eyes were drawn back to the books once more. "That was all that I wanted to talk to you about, I'm sure you're getting hungry, and want to look through your mother's books, so I won't keep you."
Harry felt as if he had a spring in his step as he made his way down the staircases, taking most of the stairs two at a time as he bounded down toward the Great Hall. He didn't think there was anything that could top off the day he'd just had – an easy morning, a very enjoyable new class, a new friend, and now these books filled with his mother's notes.
As he reached the Entrance Hall, however, he was soon to find that there was something that would serve like frosting on top of his cake. In the center of the Entrance Hall was a very strange sight. There stood Professor Moody, using his wand to bounce an albino ferret through the air – ten feet or more, before it landed on the ground with a smack and then bounced upward once again. Its feet and tail were flailing as it gave off terrified squeaks while Moody said something about attacking people while their backs were turned.
Behind Moody, he could see Ron staring at the spectacle with a dazed grin on his face, and a dreamy look in his eyes that almost rivaled Luna's. Next to him, Hermione was equally transfixed, though her expression was more of horror, her hand clamped over her open mouth.
"Professor Moody!" Came a shocked voice just to Harry's left, and he looked over to see Professor McGonagall coming down the staircase next to him.
"Hello, Professor McGonagall," Moody said calmly as he made the ferret bounce once more, as if it were a common sight in the halls of Hogwarts.
"What are you doing?" she asked him, her eyes moving and head swiveling to watch as the ferret bounced even higher.
"Teaching," Moody said simply.
"Teachi- Moody, is that a student?" She shrieked, the books she'd been carrying now spilling out of her arms.
"Yep!" Moody replied, a hint of pride in his voice.
"No!" Professor McGonagall shouted, running down the stairs over her own books as she pulled out her wand.
A moment later, there was a loud snapping sound, and then a sight he would always remember. In place of the ferret, Draco Malfoy appeared, his hair all over the place and his eyes darting around in fear.
Harry dimly heard McGonagall scolding Moody for using transfiguration on a student, but few of the words made it over his own laughter, and that of the students that had watched the spectacle.
Finally Moody grabbed Malfoy's arm and marched him toward the dungeons, and a rather unhappy McGonagall flicked her wand to return her books to her before telling the students gathered there to go about their business.
When Harry met Ron and Hermione at the Gryffindor table, Ron was still in a daze. When Harry looked at him, Ron said "Don't talk to me."
"Why not?" Hermione asked, surprised.
"Because I need to fix that in my memory forever," he said, closing his eyes, a serene expression on his face. "Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret."
Both Harry and Hermione laughed, and Harry silently agreed with his friend – that was definitely a memory of a lifetime.
Ron remained much in his dreamlike state for the meal, only eating when Hermione put some of the beef casserole onto his plate.
Hermione explained how the situation had come about – Ron and Malfoy had gotten into an argument, ending with them insulting one another's mothers, and Malfoy tried to hex Ron with his back turned – Moody had been watching, and intervened, leading to that surreal scene.
While she was explaining, the twins had come near, and were practically singing Moody's praises after both having their lesson with him that afternoon and seeing him bounce ferret-Draco around. Unfortunately Fourth Years didn't have his class for several more days.
"So," Hermione said after she swallowed a mouthful of her casserole, Fred and George now back down the table with Lee, talking animatedly to Katie, Angelina, and Alicia. "How did you like Ancient Runes?"
Harry grinned. "It was brilliant. I should have listened to you last year and taken it then. Professor Babbling said I have a talent for it – and that my mum did too."
Hermione glanced up, surprised for a moment. "Hm, I guess she's old enough to have taught your mum – I hadn't thought of that before."
Harry's grin widened. "Apparently you're also one of her best students."
She flushed, and smacked him on the arm. "I'm alright, I wouldn't say the best, you flatterer."
He shook his head. "Professor Babbling said it, not me. She also gave me the books my mum used – I'll show them to you tonight in the Common Room. Apparently she was something of a genius with Runes, and there's a lot of notes she wrote in them."
Hermione's eyes gleamed, and she grabbed up a large forkful of her meal before giving him a look. "Well, don't just sit there, get eating!"
He shook his head, chuckling as he started to eat once more – now this perfect day was complete.
AN: Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the chapter (I simply had to end with the Amazing Bouncing Ferret). We saw a bit of Susan this chapter, but much of it was focused on Harry's new class, and meeting everyone's favorite blonde Ravenclaw. Next chapter, more of Susan and Padma, and likely we'll get to Harry's first Arithmancy class, and perhaps an answer or two about the owl ward.
See you guys next time!