Harry sighed as he slowly walked through well-travelled Hogwarts corridor. Much to his chagrin, he was currently on his way to the headmaster's office. He guessed he probably should have expected it, but he really had believed that he would manage to get farther than breakfast of the first day before being summoned by the old man.
And yet that's exactly where he was headed.
The Slytherin table was alive with the younger years talking quietly about the events of that morning, but Harry noticed that none of the conversations were loud enough to escape the table. When the older students in Slytherin came into the Great Hall several minutes after, murmurs sprang up from the other houses from people who saw this circumstance as different. Harry also noticed that the younger years of Slytherin quieted down immediately when they saw the upperclassmen enter the hall..
Harry had quietly sat down and begun eating when Snape had approached the group. He strode down the aisle with a scowl, and he spoke only when he stopped directly behind Harry, "Mr. Flamel, the Headmaster requests your presence in his office, the password is 'Liquorice Comfits.'"
Snape didn't wait for an acknowledgement. He merely strode off after the message had been delivered.
Harry had glanced up at where the headmaster sat during mealtimes, and found that the old man had already finished his breakfast and departed the hall. Harry couldn't resist the small sigh that escaped his lips.
Draco eyes had widened a bit upon his head of house's announcement and he took up his schedule mechanically. Harry mentally cursed when he saw that Draco couldn't keep a worried expression off of his face.
He looked up and saw that Draco had noticed his gaze, and quietly offered, "Do you want me to show you the way to the headmaster's office?"
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he shrugged a little bit and stood up, "That's not necessary, Draco. I'm sure I can find my way since there are portraits everywhere that can direct me on my way. I assume I'll see you in class shortly."
Draco watched him go with a worried expression on his face, before he quickly schooled his features. While Harry was wondering if he could make it through the conversation without attacking Dumbledore. If Dumbledore attempted to read his mind, Harry feared that a fight was inevitable. Idly, Harry wondered who might win the battle.
He had never actually crossed wands with the Dumbledore of his old world. Sometimes he wondered if the old man had actually passed on any magical knowledge or skills his twilight years. The entire wizarding world seemed to hold the old man's skills in worship or fear depending on one's alignment. But Harry bet that nearly every person that passed through Hogwarts in Harry's time saw the man personally cast less than a half dozen total spells the entire time they attended the school.
Harry had seen Dumbledore fight only once. During his fifth year at the Ministry, and Harry had to admit that Dumbledore was beyond skilled with a wand during those few minutes he had seen him fight. Harry could barely follow the magics that had flown back and forth between Dumbledore and Voldemort. Harry wondered what he might make of that battle now with his years of experience.
Given his perspective of that battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort, Harry would agree that Dumbledore was probably more skilled than Harry currently was, Harry tended to be more creative with his admittedly limited repertoire of spells. Though Harry believed he was probably more magically powerful.
However Harry figured, if a confrontation truly did occur, then surprise would remain on his side. He just prayed they made it through a conversation without it resulting to violence.
As Harry approached the stone gargoyle, he paused for just a moment to take a deep breath before speaking the password. "Liquorice Comfits"
The gargoyle immediately began to spin around as it moved up, a staircase revealing itself as the stone shifted. Harry stepped forward and allowed the stairs to take him upward.
When Harry stepped into the office, he looked around curiously. It was slightly jarring to him that this office was almost a perfect match for the one Harry remembered in his world. It was a very large circular room. Little noises filled the air at odd intervals from a number of silver instruments, and the walls were covered with familiar portraits of all of the previous headmasters and headmistresses. Harry idly wondered once again if the portraits slept by default or if they had mastered sitting in such poses while silently observing visitors..
In front of him was the huge ornate wooden desk, with parchment scattered across the top. Harry surmised there were more than a few open books underneath some of the parchment, but only one on the corner of the desk was visible.
Behind the desk was an enormous bookshelf, and on one of the bookshelves sat the Sorting Hat. Harry was surprised to see that the hat shifted it's tip slightly as he moved through the room, as it was apparently tracking his progress across its home..
Harry heard a soft trilling and turned to the window to see Fawkes staring at him. Harry was relieved to see that the bird looked fit, even if it was somewhat undersized. He didn't want his slightest touch to kick off a brand new burning day.
Meanwhile, the phoenix looked at Harry intently with a cocked head. Harry wasn't certain but he thought he could read surprise in the phoenix's eyes before it trilled again, this time in a highly pleased greeting.
Harry was just about to give into temptation to go stroke Fawkes' feathers when Dumbledore's voice came from a side entrance to the room. "Ah, Mr. Flamel. So glad you could join me."
Harry tensed up for just a moment as he turned around to face Dumbledore. Dumbledore had already moved toward his desk. "I see you have met Fawkes."
Harry nodded and spoke, while being careful to keep his tone respectful, "He's quite gorgeous sir."
Dumbledore nodded as he settled down into his large ornate chair on his side of the desk. His fond gaze went to the phoenix residing on his stand "Yes, he had a burning day about a month ago, so he is quite young at the moment. He seems pleased to meet you." As if emphasizing the headmaster's word, the phoenix gave a loud trill of pleasure.
Harry bowed his head respectfully to the phoenix. "I'm very pleased to meet you as well, Fawkes."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows as he steepled his fingers in front of him. "Fawkes has been my companion for a great many years. Hopefully, he will remain so for a great many years to come." Dumbledore seemed pleased at the greeting Harry gave to the bird as well as Fawkes reaction to Harry.
Harry just nodded, not quite sure what to say in reply to that, before he braced himself and turned his eyes from the phoenix to look at Dumbledore. Harry's expression was carefully blank and he was being certain to guard his emotions. Despite Harry's tenseness, he had not felt any probe with legilimency.
Dumbledore was merely looking at him with a curious expression on his face. After a few moments of silence, Dumbledore gestured to the ever present candy dish on his desk, "Lemon drop?"
Harry resisted the urge to gag. He had tried them once and vowed never to do so again. It wasn't until later that he had heard the Weasley twins of his world, speak about how they suspected the headmaster's sweets were probably laced with a combination of truth serum and calming draught.
Harry was impressed that he manage to keep the disgust off his face and just shook his head carefully, "I'm not a big fan of them. Thank you, though, for the offer."
Dumbledore shrugged, seemingly unbothered by Harry's refusal. He took one of the candies from the bowl and popped it into his mouth with relish. "I must admit that I am rather partial to them, but not everyone seems to share my fondness. Perenelle, in particular, did not seem to enjoy the taste."
Harry's mouth twisted up slightly, in approximation of a smirk. Clearly the Weasley twins got that one wrong. He was a bit relieved seeing Dumbledore take one of his own candies. "I don't think she likes foods that are quite as sweet or tart as lemon drops might be."
Dumbledore nodded seriously. "Yes. I recall that she preferred her own baked snacks to anything that I found at any candy store."
Harry nodded, "She prefers her own food. She has mentioned that you were not that big a fan of her cooking."
Dumbledore heaved a sigh, and a light chuckle escaped his throat, "I commented one time that something was a bit bland for my tastes and she has never let me live it down." He shook his head slowly before fixing Harry with a firm gaze. "I'm sure you're wondering why it was I asked to meet with you."
Harry shrugged, and kept his face blank, a multitude of possibilities running through his head, "The thought had crossed my mind."
Dumbledore nodded sagely in response to Harry's reply. "Well, Mr. Flamel. I was wondering if you would mind me asking you a few questions."
Harry managed to keep from letting out a noticeable sigh, as much as he personally detested the Dumbledore from his universe, Harry wasn't yet sure if this Dumbledore was any different than the manipulative saboteur from his world. Harry figured that Dumbledore was interested in one of two things. Either the old man had singled him out as possibly the only culprit for the morning ward fiasco in the Slytherin dorm, or Dumbledore was going to poke and prod at the Flamels.
Harry managed a polite if somewhat cool smile, "Of course, Headmaster. What are you curious about?" Harry was very careful to make no promise to answer any of the questions.
Dumbledore's sharp eyes regarded Harry thoughtfully for several long moments before he nodded to himself, "Well, first I was hoping you might tell me how long you have been living with the Flamels."
Harry's eyes widened very briefly in surprise before he managed to return to his polite, and blank mask. "What makes you ask a question like that Headmaster?" Harry managed to interject enough surprise into his tone to keep it believable.
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair a little bit with a polite, but clearly pleased, smile on his face. "Several things. First, I am very old friends with the Flamels, and I was relatively certain that they would have told me if they had any children. Nicholas would have been particularly exuberant I expect. As such, I expect that they adopted you at some point. So you can understand my natural curiosity."
Harry was inwardly cursing. Perenelle had suspected that Dumbledore would see through their story. Despite the fact Nicholas had grudgingly agreed with her, none of them had expected it to happen quite so quickly. Harry's hand twitched slightly, wanting to snap out his wand already, but he felt that any attempt to obliviate Albus Dumbledore was destined for failure.
"I have lived with the Flamel's for a while." Harry said, he was off balance and took a breath to steady himself, without giving too much information to Dumbledore Harry's entire body was tensed up as he watched Dumbledore warily.
This was where he wanted to be careful. He didn't want to get caught in a lie to the Headmaster, so he kept his answers vague. He had, after all, had years of experience watching Dumbledore's way of speaking; to lie to someone's face and yet tell the truth at the exact same time.
Dumbledore however nodded thoughtfully at Harry's non-answer. Dumbledore's voice was musing, "I am rather surprised I must admit. I had no idea the Flamel's adopted someone. I can't see them adopting a non-magical child. I suppose it's possible that you are a muggleborn, if they had taken in someone from a muggle orphanage. I expect that, if they did so, it was probable that their attention might have been drawn by a case of accidental magic or something of that nature. But I try and keep an eye on any mentions of weird occurrences around orphanages in the muggle papers. So I'm uncertain where they might have heard about it." Dumbledore's tone was half musing and half questioning as he looked at Harry.
Harry frowned and shrugged slowly. He was well aware that this was a tactic Dumbledore sometimes used. Making comments that would lead to a conversation and him giving up more information than he expected, before he realized it. "I've never been in an orphanage if that was what you wanted to know. I didn't quite catch an actual question in what you just said."
Dumbledore frowned thoughtfully and he steepled his fingers while he observed Harry intently, "Your accent tells me that you're from England. Your age gives me a relative idea as to when you were born. The Death Eaters killed off a lot of families, muggle, pureblood, and everything in between. Most of them were families I knew personally. There were a number of orphans after the last war with Voldemort. I know and ensured that all of them went to members of their extended families. As a matter of fact, I can't recall any out of family adoptions. So, since I'm relatively certain you're not muggleborn, I'm rather curious as to where you came from, not to put too fine a point on it."
Harry couldn't help a quick scowl that flickered across his face, nor could he help the sarcastic comment that slipped out. "Of course. Orphans going to extended families is always the best thing for them. Even if that family isn't fit to raise dandelions or goldfish, much less children." Harry quickly gained control of himself and once more cursed his own loss of control.
Dumbledore's eyebrows raised at that, and he regarded Harry thoughtfully. "I'm afraid you have me at a loss, would you care to elaborate?" There was a great deal of bitterness in Harry's tone.
Harry sighed a bit and tilted his head as he considered. He could point blank refuse to answer the man's questions. But that would just make Dumbledore more determined and suspicious. Harry was also relatively sure that Dumbledore was able to tell when he was prevaricating, and being caught in a lie would probably be worse than outright denial. Besides, one thing he had learned from Dumbledore was that sometimes general truths could be used to lead people toward desired conclusions, which were no where close to reality.
Finally, when Harry spoke, his tone was polite but carefully controlled. "I was orphaned when I was very young. I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle, who… did not approve of magic. At all. Denied it's very existence to me for years and… punished me for any bursts of accidental magic, which was something that happened with some regularity. Needless to say, my experience was less than… pleasant while growing up with them."
Harry kept his voice level and careful. He felt there was no further need to go into his home life or provide details of the outright abuse he suffered at the hands of his relatives.
A look of surprise and sorrow crossed Dumbledore's face as Harry related the story, though it was quickly calmed as he observed the boy in front of him. He read between the lines of Harry's statement and could almost shout that there was abuse involved.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, lithely. "Nicholas and Perenelle found me and were kind enough to take me in. They were kind enough to do what they could to make sure I was healthy, and passed on what knowledge they felt they could. Later, they made the decision to adopt me as an heir." Harry kept his voice calm and bland as he spoke, and was very proud of his composure, as he observed the old man's reaction
Dumbledore's brows furrowed at Harry's explanation, as he tilted his head thoughtfully, nodding slowly. "Do you mind me asking what your family name was before you took the Flame's last name?"
Harry smiled a little bit, though it was a brittle smile "I prefer to keep that to myself. I am here as Ares Flamel, that is all that matters to me."
Dumbledore frowned, "You have no interest in your family's history? I am sure it could be procured for you, so you would at least know all of your roots."
Harry's face turned into an outright scowl, and he suddenly had no desire whatsover to continue playing the old man's game. "Headmaster, I grew up for the first several years of my life thinking my name was "Freak". Unless that is a venerated wizarding name, I ask that you drop this line of questioning."
Dumbledore's eyes widened at Harry's statement, and the slight surge of magic he could feel the boy give off as his anger rose. Dumbledore made no move to keep the shock off of his face.
It was several seconds before the man gathered his thoughts and nodded his acquiescence to Harry's demand. "Very well. My apologies for prying, I did not mean to press on an uncomfortable topic. What of the Flamels? Why did they chose to send you here for school all of a sudden? Any particular reason why this year?"
Harry hesitated a moment, "You heard what Nicholas told you. I believed he said that it was to interact with students my own age."
Dumbledore nodded again, and stroked his beard thoughtfully. "I had simply wondered if there might be other reasons as well."
Harry frowned a little bit. He knew Dumbledore was fishing. Thus far, Harry had made nothing but true statements, but Harry knew that if he kept up answering questions at the headmaster's discretion, Dumbledore might be able to catch him in a lie. So instead he decided to rock the Headmaster's composure a little bit.
He immediately switched to an extremely aloof manner, and spoke airily to the question posed to him, "Well, I can't actually say for certain why they chose this particular school. I'm not sure that they had all that high of an opinion of Hogwarts given what happened to what they last entrusted to your care."
Dumbledore flinched slightly at that, but then he nodded his head. "I admit that I am entirely at fault for the destruction of Nicholas' stone."
Harry shrugged a little bit, his tone was apathetic, "Well, wise people are known to say that admitting one's mistakes are certainly a good place to start." Harry certainly wasn't going to provide excuses or forgiveness for the headmaster.
Dumbledore frowned at Harry's response as much for the apathy as he was for the unforgiving tone. "Forgive me, if you don't mind me commenting… I'm surprised that you seem rather unconcerned with the loss of the stone."
Harry frowned for a moment. Perenelle and Nicholas had argued over this point with Harry as a spectator. He had found it rather curious to watch their interactions. For all of Nicholas enjoyment of pranks, he was friends with Dumbledore and was of the opinion they should provide a reason for their continued existence. Perenelle on the other hand was all for heaping guilt on Dumbledore and poking his foibles.
After much back and forth Nicholas had won the argument and they had come up with an agreement on what to tell Dumbledore. Perenelle had pouted for nearly the entire evening after the discussion. An action Harry found amusing. Someone of her age pouting like a child. However when he had been prepared to make a comment about it, a warning look from Nicholas had kept him from saying anything.
Pernelle had been somewhat mollified in the end though. Their goal was to keep Dumbledore from trying to examine Harry himself too closely. Instead they wanted him chasing dead ends by chasing Harry's history. The route they decided to take with their story would still be utterly truthful, and at the same time probably knock Dumbledore for another loop. Something she took an almost vicious delight in doing.
Harry allowed a placid smile to replace the frown on his face. "I'm not sure why I should get overly worked up about it, Headmaster. A Philosopher's Stone takes over a decade to successful transmute. While the work is time consuming and slow, it's not overly taxing."
Dumbledore was frowning, and regarding Harry with concern in his eyes. "Yes, I'm well aware of how long the process takes. Nicholas explained to me the time requirements at one point. However, even if he's passed the secret on to you, the passing of the Flamels will be a great loss." There was a combination of anger at Harry's seeming dismissal of the death's of the Flamels, as well as some curiosity laced into the tone.
Harry knew that the Headmaster was fishing for information to see if Harry had been told how to make the Philosopher's stone, and he could also hear the unspoken rebuke in the Headmaster's tone, but Harry's response was very calm and calculated. "Their passing? I assure you, they are in fine health."
"Yes, Nicholas said he had enough Elixir to get his affairs in order. However that is not an infinite supply." Dumbledore responded with a frown on his face.
Harry figured he knew the reason behind the frown. He had completely dodged around Dumbledore's unspoken question on the creation of a Philosopher's Stone. That was likely not the behavior he expected of a teenager. Dumbledore had probably expected some level of pride or boasting of the knowledge. Or perhaps he expected denial, instead Harry had completely avoided the topic. Something her was relatively sure had thrown Dumbledore off.
"Of course it isn't infinite. Why would it be? When they run out, they'll just make some more as they always have done."
Harry kept his voice and words polite, and added a slight bit of puzzlement to his tone. Harry was well aware that he was intentionally baiting the headmaster. Whether or not the Dumbledore of this world was the same as the one on his world was irrelevant. However, Harry was equally as aware that he was probably enjoying the twisting of Dumbledore's beard a little bit too much.
Dumbledore frowned, this time when he spoke, it was as if he were speaking to an absurdly slow student who was failing to grasp an incredibly basic concept in class. "But the Philosopher's stone was destroyed… ergo he can't make any more."
There was an amused smile on Harry's face as he tilted his head to regard the headmaster. "Do you honestly think they only had the one? Especially if it was so important to their survival?" Harry was careful to phrase his comment as a question.
Dumbledore sat forward a bit, his eyes wide as he stared at Harry. His voice came out a combination of hoarse and shocked. "He told me he only ever had the one. That he never felt the need to make more than one."
Harry smirked a little bit, "One of the best ways to hide something is if no one knows it exists in the first place."
Dumbledore frowned, all geniality gone from his expression, "Nicholas and I have been friends for almost a century. Why wouldn't he share this information with me?"
Harry narrowed his eyes at Dumbledore, managing to keep his own anger in check. He recognized that at the moment, he was angry at the question from someone who was so like his own Dumbledore. "He was friends enough with you to lend you a stone of incredible power. I would say that, in and of itself, should be a fair testament that your friendship is significant. We will completely ignore what you did with that trust for the time being. However, let's explore how well you value your friendship with the Nicholas. Do you share all of your secrets with Nicholas?"
Dumbledore frowned a little bit at the slight twist in Harry's statement, "What do you mean? Who has been saying that I have been keeping secrets?"
Harry shrugged a little bit, making sure to keep his tone calm, though his hand twitched slightly ready to bring his wand to bear should the conversation devolve. "Every person, alive or dead has secrets, Headmaster. Some secrets can be benign and harmless, while others can be malignant and dangerous. It's simply human nature to have them."
Dumbledore nodded a little bit, his expression turning contemplative for a few moments at Harry's words. "I will concede that point. But I think this is a rather large secret that Nicholas didn't tell me, and could very well be relevant to current events. That's what makes it important. He didn't share a relevant secret with me."
Harry's eyes narrowed, all hints of a smile gone from his face. "I repeat my earlier question. Do you share all pertinent secrets with Nicholas?" Despite the question there was no mistaking the accusation in his tone.
Dumbledore frowned a little at the sudden animosity, and a guarded expression crossed his face. "I'm not sure what secrets you're referring to."
Harry met Dumbledore's eyes in a challenging stare. Harry knew that if the discussion was going to go sour that this would be the moment it would do so. His body was tense as he replied. "Oh, the fact that you brought the Stone to Hogwarts, a school filled with children, as a bait for a trap for a Dark Lord most people believe dead. Or, we could discuss the fact that you hid it behind a set of traps that I could have navigated as an attentive first year student?"
Dumbledore paled and his eyes fixed on Harry intently. "How did you know all of that, Mr. Flamel?"
Harry met Dumbledore's eyes for several long seconds and was surprised that the Headmaster made no attempt to read his mind. Covering his shock, Harry smiled in amusement once more, though there was nothing funny about tone. His hand twitched slightly at his side ready to flick a wand out and respond to the slightest hint of aggressiveness. "You practically announced its presence to the entire school. I know alot of things. So do Nicholas and Perenelle."
Dumbledore regarded Harry for several long seconds before slumping in his chair slightly. "Yes. I suppose they would. It was not one of my better ideas, I will confess. I do owe them quite the apology."
That statement, more than anything, threw Harry off his stride. There was no protest or attempted justification, no defense of his actions. Instead guilt visibly crossed his face. However, the problem was that Harry couldn't tell whether the emotion was genuine or feigned. Harry didn't say anything, merely tilted his head and observed the Headmaster.
Dumbledore seemed lost in his own thoughts for several long moments. "You must understand, Mr. Flamel. I was trying to do what I thought was best. But I am not perfect. I make bad decisions. I admit that that was one of them. Something that was pointed out to me several times, both before and after the fact."
For one moment Dumbledore looked incredibly old as he sagged in his chair before he seemed to straighten again. "I am curious about one more thing. How do the Flamels know that Voldemort is not dead?"
Harry narrowed his eyes, "Professor, Voldemort is one of the most evil Dark Lord's in history. Nicholas and Perenelle have both been around for quite some time and are not as easily lulled into a sense of safety as the sheep of the wizarding world. They know not to just assume someone like a Dark Lord is dead."
Dumbledore seemed slightly taken aback. Harry wasn't certain whether it was by the venom in his voice, or simply his opinion about not only Voldemort but of the wizarding world.
Dumbledore didn't comment on it, he schooled his features and merely nodded, "Perhaps I should approach Nicholas and apologize."
Harry shrugged a little bit. "That is your prerogative sir. However, if there was nothing else, I believe I have class shortly." Harry stood up from his chair.
Dumbledore looked up, lost in his musing thoughts for a moment before nodding. "Of course." He waved Harry toward his door.
Harry turned and walked towards the door, his posture was stiff, and he was ready to move at the slightest hint that Dumbledore was standing or moving to use his wand. He reached the staircase and was stopped right at the top of the room.
"Oh, and Mr. Flamel?" Dumbledore's voice called out congenially.
Harry braced himself and turned around to regard Dumbledore cautiously.
"I do have one final question." Dumbledore regarded him with intense eyes.
"Yes, Headmaster?" Harry replied.
"Are we likely to have any more… issues like the ones we had this morning in your house?" Dumbledore inquired lightly, but with an edge of warning in his voice.
Harry narrowed his own eyes slightly and then affected a bland expression, "I'm not sure I know, Professor. This is only my first day at this institution, after all. I don't know what is considered normal for a school day here… though I did get the impression the events of this morning were quite unusual."
A genuine scowl crossed Dumbledore's face briefly, "It is certainly not normal. I daresay that I wonder if I'm about to receive a large amount of complaints from parents. The students shouldn't have to worry about being trapped in their own dorms." His last comment was a slight remonstration
The expression on Harry's face didn't change, but his tone grew quite cold, "I agree completely, Headmaster. Students should be able to feel safe in their House, and in the school in general, for that matter. If people don't feel safe inside this school, that is a reflection upon the failures of its leadership."
Harry's face suddenly morphed into a look of perfect innocence, and his voice grew whimsical, "Of course, if you are concerned that you are receiving complaints from the parents of students that were nearly attacked in their rooms, I'm sure it wouldn't be any bother to involve the DMLE if further 'attacks' upon your charges continued. They could investigate all sorts of complaints, if you wish, while they were here."
Dumbledore's eyes narrowed but he couldn't rebut that comment. Harry could tell that he had struck a nerve when he twisted the Headmaster's words back onto him.
The Headmaster let the silence hang for several moments before he finally nodded slowly in response, "I believe it is time for classes to start for the day. If I recall correctly, Slytherin Fourth Years have transfiguration, with Professor McGonagall."
Harry nodded in acknowledgement and then turned and descended the staircase.
Neither Harry, nor Dumbledore was aware that each had a frown on their face as they reflected on the conversation. Harry's was from the similarities of this world's Dumbledore to his own, even if Harry was honest enough to admit he couldn't ascribe motive to the Headmaster yet.
The frown on Dumbledore's face was because he remembered the last time he had a seen a dark haired Slytherin with that air of confidence, bordering on arrogance at the same time Dumbledore couldn't help wondering at the true parentage of Ares Flamel.
Harry walked into Professor McGonagall's classroom shortly after the class had started. McGonagall was already giving her standard start of term lecture when he opened the door.
Harry was distracted at the time, deep in thought about the interaction with Dumbledore that he had just experienced.
In some ways the discussion had gone exactly like the Flamels had predicted.
Nicholas had been correct in stating that Dumbledore would likely apologize for the Stone, but he hadn't believed that Dumbledore would admit to being wrong or to everything he had done without being confronted.
Perenelle had been the one to urge Harry to confront Dumbledore about having the Stone in the school of children, using it as bait without their knowledge, and protecting it with such feeble protections. Harry had verbally wondered why they ought to do that.
He had then discovered that Nicholas wasn't the only one who could grin like a prankster. Perenelle's expression had topped even her husband's when she had told him that it would drive Dumbledore crazy, when he not only had to wonder about how much they Flamels knew but, most importantly, how they knew what they knew.
Harry had gone to the meeting with Dumbledore fully prepared for a fight. He had expected Dumbledore to use legilimency on him.
It threw Harry off that Dumbledore hadn't done it at all. Even when Harry hadn't expanded on answers he'd given. Harry was also very careful never to tell an actual lie, responding with questions or misdirections. And if it felt a little good to twist Dumbledore's beard…. well.. that was purely a side effect.
What they hadn't expected was for Dumbledore to be so interested in Harry's familial background. Both Nicholas and Perenelle had said that Dumbledore might mention it but nothing more than that. However Dumbledore had pried and poked, clearly wanting to know more about Harry, and definitely trying to get his family name.
Harry once more hadn't lied, he'd given the headmaster honest answers, even if it would serve the old man no good in tracking Harry's family name down.
Harry was pulled abruptly from his thoughts by two things. The first of which was McGonagall's voice directed at him. She had stopped her lecture to fix Harry with a glare. "So glad you decided to join us, Mr. Flamel. Five points from Slytherin."
People did not underestimate Minerva McGonagall. Not on purpose. Everyone knew what to expect of her, the teacher of Transfiguration in Hogwarts, Head of Gryffindor House, and Deputy Headmistress; the right hand of Albus Dumbledore in managing the school. She was also known as fair in discipline, in that she tended to treat all houses evenly. If anything, she tended to be harder on her own house than the three others.
Professor McGonagall received a special kind of respect from the people familiar with this unspoken fact, mostly purebloods and halfbloods. Those raised in the muggle world simply respected her strict teaching demeanor.
Harry froze for several seconds, but only heard McGonagall's address in the periphery. He had felt his magic surge inside him the moment he had stepped in the classroom. Welling up inside him in a demand for release. It caught him off guard because the surges had only been happening since he arrived on this world, and only when he got angry. This was different. Harry didn't know how to describe it. He took a few seconds to take a deep breath and tamp down on his magic. Harry wondered if he was getting better at controlling the surges, or just more experienced.
When he had discussed this phenomenon, Perenelle had said it was probably the volatility of his magic and would remain so until it was balanced, but she had also said that they had never encountered someone who'd been magically reverted to so young an age before, so it could simply be his magic as it matured and grew. Left unspoken by all was that he would soon be faced with a second round of maturation with his magic, and no one knew what sort of consequences this might bring.
When Harry had stated that he never remembered his magic acting like that in his old world. Perenelle had told him that it probably had, he just wasn't really aware of it. Because he had been older she thought that he was simply more knowledgeable and thus more aware of his magic. When she had asked if he had ever performed magic in his old world, that came across as surprisingly powerful when compared to other things he had done. When he had to confess that occasionally he had. She had nodded and said that was normal.
If it was just his maturing magic, she said, his powers would smooth out and the surges would eventually decrease in size and frequency. If it was his magic being volatile and unstable, then she told Harry that it would likely slowly get worse and he would have to find a balance or eventually it would likely kill him or just completely burn him out magically, leaving him a squib and possibly a mindless shell.
Harry had asked how long it would take to know either way, and Perenelle had told him, if it was maturity then it would be smoother somewhere between two to four lunar cycles. That hadn't sounded so bad. He was controlling it fairly well and just needed to make sure he continued.
When she had told him the other option meant he had to find a balance probably within five years or so, Harry had just rolled his eyes.
Five years was plenty of time. By that point he'd have either been successful, or failed again. Either way, Harry knew he would be dead before he had to worry about his own magic killing or squibing him.
His hesitation apparently hadn't gone unnoticed by McGonagall, as she added in an even more severe voice, "If you cannot find a seat immediately, perhaps I should transfigure you into a map to help you? If that doesn't work there will certainly be plenty of seats in detention for you to find."
Harry wondered if she had taken his comments about the school the previous day personally. He frowned as he brought himself to the moment, "My apologies for being late, Professor McGonagall. However, little that I actually care about them, the deduction of points is unwarranted. You can blame the Headmaster for my tardiness, as he decided it was necessary to meet with me immediately after breakfast this morning. While I doubt you can deduct points from him, perhaps a detention where you can discuss his poor scheduling decisions would be appropriate."
"And from my understanding, transfiguration is never used as a punishment at Hogwarts." Harry added after a moment's pause. He knew he was cheating a little bit, throwing Mcgonagall's own words to the Moody of his world back at her. However she had used a similar threat on him during his first day at the the school when he'd been late for class.
McGonagall blinked in shock at his response and after visibly getting over her surprise she fixed him with a stern-faced glare.
The class was absolutely silent in shock as well. Most students had their mouths open in surprise as their eyes darted back and forth between the formidable deputy headmistress and the impudent fourth year.
Harry met her eyes for several long seconds, before he ultimately resisted his urge to roll his eyes and then took several slow, methodical steps towards desks near the front of the room. He slid without hesitation into a seat next to Malfoy, who was biting the inside of his cheek to keep amusement off of his face.
McGonagall stared at Harry for several seconds as he once again met her eyes from his seat. It was several seconds later before she shook herself slightly and turned to the rest of the class to pick up the threads of her speech about attentiveness and foolishness.
Harry had a polite expression on his face but had to shake himself from a memory. The previous moment had been far too reminiscent of the first time he had attended this class when he had stumbled in late. That time it had been as an excited if timid first year, with a friend who tended to speak before he thought. At least she hadn't threatened to turn him into a map or pocketwatch.
He shook himself out of his memories, Draco had caught his eye, and had his eyebrow raised to look at Harry, the question about the meeting with Dumbledore clear on his face. Harry shrugged lithely and Draco nodded slightly, turning his attention back to the professor.
Harry kept a polite expression on his face, but he wasn't really paying attention to anything McGonagall said. He was inwardly making a list of things he wanted to accomplish and all the little things he needed to do. Chief among his thoughts was everything he needed to manage to handle Azkaban. He had planned to free Regulus unless there was some overwhelming reason not to.
The letter from the Flamels hadn't cleared anything up, rather it merely added details to a muddy picture. On one hand the man was a marked Death Eater, who actually had a trial and hadn't said anything in his defense, instead had simply shown his dark mark, showing that he was sane, or at least coherent. On the other hand, the note that was in the fake Horcrux in the cave showed that he had betrayed the Dark Lord. Harry was sure if Regulus had told someone that Regulus would probably be free. Especially with his brother still out and free. There was something Harry was missing, and that bothered him to no end.
Harry was brought out of his internal thoughts when several items were floated onto the desk in front of every student, including a curled up hedgehog.
McGonagall began to explain to the class, "This is a review of the materials you should have mastered last year. Some of you will no doubt have to review your past lessons since things only get more difficult from here."
She paused and gestured to a chalkboard where directions shimmered into view. "You will each complete these transfigurations. Anyone unable to complete any one of them in their entirety will have 18 inches of parchment on how to do it correctly… for each transfiguration you are unable to complete."
Harry glanced at the list that had shimmered into view on the board. He always thought that was impressive magic, since it was something that both Snape and McGonagall did. That was until Flitwick had confided in him that all they were doing was writing things out in advance and then disillusioning the writing.
Harry frowned and went over the list. It wasn't overly complicated.
Harry wasn't a transfiguration specialist by any means. He had always been above average in the class, but not spectacularly so. However, he also had a few years of classroom experience in transfiguration and he had spent several more years on the run and had needed to learn how to transfigure things on a regular basis when he found himself running in short supply of different items. He had also learned how to transfigure walls in front of himself from the materials in the ground around him on the rare occasions he did so.
This was third year material.
Harry sighed as he heard the students around him pulling out their wands and murmurs begin to surround him. He saw McGonagall begin to walk the room looking at different people's attempts. Most people were digging out their books or scooting their chairs closer so several students could share a book, since not everyone decided to bring their third year text. They clustered together as they looked up the incantations.
Harry shook his head slightly, and his wand slid into his hand with a flick of his wrist. He glanced over to see Draco try and mimic the movement only to fumble with the sudden presence of his own wand in his hand.
Harry glanced down at the items and with a slight furrow of his brow he flicked his wand several times, without saying a thing. He felt his magic humming within him, wanting to get out with every cast, but Harry concentrated as much on control as he did actually casting the spell. He didn't want to accidentally blow up the table or the things they had been given to transform.
McGonagall's eyebrows rose, first in surprise at the sight of a fourth year with a wrist holster for their wand, then further as she noticed Draco Malfoy with the same thing. His fumbling as he got his wand from the holster caught her attention so she had a perfect line of sight as she watched the new Slytherin student change every single object into the items requested on the board. Without moving his mouth.
This was more than a little surprising to her and she made her way over toward the desk where Flamel and Malfoy sat. Her step hitched momentarily when she saw Malfoy completing his final item as well, though she also noticed his mouth moving a little.
Harry looked up when he saw McGonagall step in front of his desk, he watched her expression as she examined the tortoise which had originally been a teapot, the pincushion which had been a hedgehog, the rabbit which had been a pillow, and the pillow which was originally a plain stone.
Draco Malfoy beside him had done the same thing, though where Harry's pillow was plain white, Draco's was more ornate with a large D embroidered in the center of it.
She glanced up and was surprised. Flamel's expression was a combination of apathetic and bored, a look that the Malfoy scion was trying to copy, though his pride in his more ornate transfiguration ruined it for him. Despite that, It was a far cry from the arrogant and boastful look she would have expected from such a clear display of skill.
She looked at them both for several long seconds. "Very well done. Ten points apiece to Slytherin. You've completed the assignment and have no homework." McGonagall stated simply before looking around at her other students. She frowned and moved away as she noted an issue at one of the other tables.
Harry and Draco nodded and waited until she left before Draco leaned over and whispered, "So what did the old man want to talk to you about?"
Harry shook his head slightly, "Mostly wanted to welcome me to the school, nothing exciting. We can talk about it later if you want." He said, hoping Draco would pick on the not to subtle hint, Draco nodded and sat back.
Harry was about to take the opportunity to look around and really see his class members for the first time. He was sitting near the front with Draco, so he hadn't had time to examine his surroundings. However a commotion behind them drew his attention.
He found himself staring like everyone else at a table with two girls, one of them absolutely familiar to him.
Harry's breath caught in his throat for an instant that seemed to stretch. He knew he'd have to face it eventually. But he'd done his best to merely not think about it and hope to avoid it as long as possible. But here in this moment he was unable to deny it.
Hermione was alive. She was sitting less than twenty feet from him. She was obviously younger than he remembered. And she didn't have the stress or worry lines on her face. Nor the burn scar on her cheek that she'd acquired a few months before she died. He knew she wasn't his Hermione. But, for just a moment he felt a smile tugging at his lips. This wasn't his best friend. She was wearing Ravenclaw colors. She didn't know him. But… she was alive.
Though at the moment a surprised and confused expression was on her face as she looked completely engrossed at the other girl sharing her table.
He jerked slightly and realized that he was staring, grateful her attention was elsewhere, with a force of will he shifted his gaze over to look at the person Hermione was sharing a desk with. And the one who everyone else in the class was staring at as well.
It was a girl with long dark black hair who was focused intently on the transfigurations before her, and she was midway through a transfiguration, but Harry could instantly see what had garnered everyone's attention. Her wand was giving off green sparks. Harry started slightly when he realized that her wand was identical to his own holly wand, and internally he was willing to bet hers had the same phoenix feather core.
However Harry didn't think that was the reason her wand was sparking, after all he had just used that same wand and done it without any of the visual effects.
It only took another moment to realize he could feel the magic in the air and that the dark haired girl's magic was practically filling the room, even if it wasn't visible, and she was struggling to control it. A feeling he had become used to over the past few days.
She finished putting the final touches on the rock to pillow transfiguration, and then sat back with a deep breath. And then, despite all the stares in the room being on her, the girl looked up as if directed and met Harry's eyes.
Harry felt a jolt go through him as he found himself staring into a pair of bright emerald eyes. He was not sure what he expected when he found out of Iris' existence in this world. He had half assumed his counterpart would either be a female version of himself, or maybe a miniature version of his… her mother. The black hair put that last thought out of the window. But it was her other features that made it clear they were different, her bone structure was different, her face more full and while she also appeared to have inherited her mother's eyes, she didn't appear to have inherited the father's need for glasses.
Harry hadn't figured out why when he showed up in this world everything that occurred after fourth year seemed to be erased but his need for glasses had not returned. It was one of those things he wasn't going to question. With all the rotten luck in his life he figured occasionally he was due for some good luck.
The stare probably went on for longer than he intended, and longer than he had stared at Hermione but he wasn't sure. However neither of them seemed to look away.
It was McGonagall who broke the connection, "Miss Potter, what was that?"
Iris broke the gaze with the new student she had locked onto with a surprising amount of internal reluctance. She shook her head a bit looking down at the transfigurations. "I'm… not sure, Professor."
A puzzled tone filling her voice. Well aware of her best friend's concern she offered Hermione a reassuring smile before she glanced up to where Ares Flamel sat, and found herself disappointed to find his back turned to her and him engaged in a conversation with Malfoy.
It was a nudge from Draco that brought Harry out of his own stare which had continued after McGonagall had misdirected Iris' attention and Draco's intervention caused him to turn away, blinking several times.
Draco gave him an inscrutable look before he let it pass without comment, instead he spoke obliquely. "Any change in tonight's… castle tour?"
Harry barely resisted the urge to groan as he pushed aside thoughts of his green-eyed counterpart. He really needed to teach Draco how to be more circumspect. While he seemed to be okay at keeping a secret, at the moment Draco seemed incapable of hiding the fact that he had a secret to keep.
Thankfully class ended soon after with McGonagall reminding her students that any person not completing a task owed her 18 inches of parchment for every one they failed.
Harry and Draco were near the front of the class so they were the last to leave when McGonagall spoke up. "Mr. Flamel, a moment of your time please."
Harry sighed and turned back, and Draco murmured, "I'll wait for you in the hall."
Professor McGonagall waited until Draco left the room, before she flicked the door to the classroom gently shut with her wand.
Harry's hand twitched but he managed to keep his face impassive. He did not expect McGonagall to attack him.
She regarded him stiffly for several long seconds before speaking. "I must say I was rather impressed with your transfiguration performance today. I noticed you didn't have to look up the spells, and didn't even say the spells."
Harry shrugged a little bit, keeping his tone bland. "Headmaster Dumbledore was told that I was rather advanced for my age, but as I was enrolled to socialize, felt it would be better if i stayed with those of my same age."
McGonagall frowned thoughtfully, "I may have to find some work that challenges you none the less." When Harry nodded politely but didn't otherwise respond, McGonagall continued, "I was however less than impressed with the attitude you came into class with. Especially challenging me in front of the other students in that manner."
Harry narrowed his eyes slightly, but kept his tone polite. "I meant no disrespect. However you made no effort to determine why I was late."
McGonagall nodded her head in acknowledgement of Harry's point. "You're right. You have my apologies, Mr. Flamel. I just ask that you try not to make a habit of it." McGonagall replied with a sigh. It had the sound of something said to people on a regular basis with the uncertainty of whether or not the advice would be taken to heart.
Harry nodded, "I will do my best to be on time. Though I should go. I don't want to be late to another class and repeat this whole conversation again with another Professor. I'd hate for that to get round that I was a slow learner and had to have everything repeated." He said the last part with an amused half smile on his face.
McGonagall nodded sternly as Harry turned and departed. It was only after Harry left that she allowed an amused smile to cross her face.
Iris and Hermione left transfiguration at a slower pace than their classmates, and once the others were out of hearing range of anyone Hermione spoke up, her tone filled with concern. "Are you okay?"
Iris glanced behind them as they turned the corner to see Malfoy still waiting outside the transfiguration room, not having paid them any attention as they left. Iris frowned before she shook her head slightly. "I'm not sure."
"What happened?" Hermione inquired as she eyed her friend with concern.
Iris shrugged a little bit. "I don't know. It was like… all of a sudden I was struggling with the transfigurations."
Hermione continued to stare down her friend, but now there was no mistaking the concern in her voice, "You know those as well as I do, they shouldn't have been too difficult."
Iris shook her head, "It wasn't… I don't know. It wasn't remembering those spells that was hard. It felt like I was struggling to keep from transfiguring not only the objects but the table they were on and other people in the room as well."
Hermione frowned in confusion, so Iris continued. "You saw how my wand sparked. It felt like it was a struggle to keep from doing more." Iris shrugged her shoulders slightly, frustration evident as she slumped slightly. "I don't know how else to explain it."
"Should we tell your mom or Professor Flitwick?" Hermione asked.
Iris shook her head, "No, it was probably nothing."
Hermione glanced at Iris as she lapsed into silence but followed her friend's decision.
Iris was silent as they made way toward their History class before she spoke up. "So what did you think of Flamel?"
Hermione narrowed her eyes and scoffed slightly. "I can't believe how rude he was to Professor McGonagall."
Iris bit her lip to smother a chuckle of amusement at Hermione's response. Hermione was always incredibly sensitive about respecting professors. She wasn't fanatical about it, especially after their experiences with bad professors during their first two years. But Hermione still could get irritated with disrespect to a good professor. "I meant aside from that."
Hermione shrugged, "Nothing really at all. He's in Slytherin, and Malfoy already seems to have ingratiated himself with him. Anyone who get's on with Malfoy like that is bound to be bad news."
Iris nodded and then frowned a little bit. "Speaking of… Draco's… acting weird, I think."
Hermione frowned at Iris, "How do you know that? We've barely seen him and he's not said anything to us."
Iris nodded and gave Hermione a look, "Exactly. How many train rides have we gone without him visiting with his standard set of comments? Then today in class. No comment when my wand sparked. Nothing."
Hermione frowned and nodded. "That is very odd."
She was forced to agree. Draco's train visits were almost religious, and he barely seemed to acknowledge them in class. She made a mental note to keep an eye on him. "C'mon we're gonna be late for history."
Iris couldn't restrain a roll of her eyes. Both she and Hermione knew the class was little more than a glorified reading period or nap time. The rumor among the students was that, the Weasley twins, a pair of fifth year Gryffindors, had gone beyond bringing pillows to class and had started transfiguring their chairs into full hammocks.
She fell into step beside Hermione, but her mind was still on the pair of emerald eyes that had so caught her eyes. Iris couldn't stop thinking about how eerie those emerald eyes she found herself staring at were. On one hand the eyes were hauntingly familiar, Iris knew they startlingly similar to her own. But at the same time, they struck her as old eyes. Iris couldn't help but think that the eyes were colder and duller, or less vibrant. Iris couldn't put her finger on it but she got the overwhelming feeling of hurt and weariness.
Harry exited the transfiguration room to find Draco waiting for him.
Draco lifted a curious eyebrow at Harry, before shifting to head down the hallway. "Did you manage to get out of there without detention?"
Harry nodded as Draco shifted to fall into step with him, "Yes, she just wanted to talk a moment. You didn't have to wait for me."
Draco chuckled, "Actually I did, you didn't get your schedule before you left for your Dumbledore meeting." He just lifted an expectant eyebrow at Harry.
Harry frowned, "No big deal. He had questions about me and the Flamels. I gave him the information I thought he needed to know. Which wasn't much." Harry couldn't keep a small smile off his face. Once again he couldn't help the bit of amusement that the shoe was on the other foot.
Draco regarded him thoughtfully for several seconds before nodded and handing him a bit of parchment. "Here's your schedule. Pretty much everything I have, except you have Runes where I have Care of magical creatures."
"What's next?" Harry asked as he took the parchment and glanced at it, nodding a bit. He had decided to take runes, though Harry was relatively certain there was very little he would learn in any level of that class at Hogwarts. He just wasn't going near divination, and while he had always been close with Hagrid, the classes were less than helpful in the long run.
"History." Draco responded with an expression of disgust.
Harry's brow furrowed at that response, "With Binns?"
Draco nodded with a heavy sigh of sarcasm, "In all his ghostly splendor."
Harry stopped, mid-stride, "Is he the same as I'd remember?"
Draco frowned and nodded, "Goblin rebellions and uprisings? In a monotone that puts you to sleep? Yeah, pretty much as boring as you remember. If not worse, because you'll be sitting through it a second time."
Harry frowned and nodded,"Right then." then he spun on his heel and headed off in a different direction.
Draco frowned and then quickly stepped to catch up with Harry and fall in beside him. "Where are you going?"
Harry frowned, "I'm too old for a scheduled nap time, and I don't care to waste time listening to Binn. I have some of those things that we talked about earlier to get finished. First among those is to make sure we can get into the Chamber."
Draco nodded slowly, "Well, I doubt Binns will miss us anyway. We'd hardly be the first people to skive off his class." He shrugged and followed Harry through the castle.
Harry shrugged, "I doubt I'll be attending History at all. There's other classes I'd skip if I thought I could get away with it. But I'll have to be satisfied with the ones I can skip."
"Which ones would you blow off?" Draco asked curiously.
Harry frowned and shrugged, "All of them probably. Since I highly doubt any of them are going to teach me anything earth shaking. I'm only here because events are centered on Hogwarts, and while events are similar to our world that is going to rapidly change as I change things. However, I was thinking specifically of Herbology and Potions. Bloody useless classes."
"Potions aren't useless!" Draco interjected, with a combination of shock and indignation.
Harry kept walking but turned to Draco with a raised eyebrow. "I didn't say potions were useless." Draco opened his mouth to argue that statement and Harry cut him off. "I said that potions class is useless."
Draco scowled, "Snape is one of the premier Potions Masters in the world."
Harry nodded, "Of course he is. However, he's a shite teacher. 'Instructions are on the board. You have two hours.' is not teaching. Especially when you then sweep around trying to intimidate people into making mistakes, while simultaneously letting the Slytherin's get away with everything up to and including attempted murder, or at least the reckless endangerment of other students."
He walked for a few more moments, then said, "On top of that, at least on our world, he was a petty and immature bully who never got over an old grudge with my father over the fact that James Potter was fucking Lily Evans."
Harry had gotten fair at potions out of necessity, but it had never had anything to do with Snape's instruction. It had been pretty much a combination of Neville's knowledge of herbology and constant repetition from Hermione as they made his large stock of potions, before they died, and then a little bit of learning on his own by trial and error.
Draco frowned, "Well… he's not… quite like that on this world. He doesn't tolerate any sort of pranks or screwing around from anyone. And he gives a bit more instruction than that." His tone was anything but a ringing endorsement.
Harry snorted in response. "I'll believe it when I see it."
Draco didn't say anything to that comment and instead continued, "Yeah, I don't think Professor Snape would allow you to just blow off his class."
Harry shrugged, "I know. I figure if I skip those classes then Sprout and Snape will assign me detention. But if this Snape is anything like the last, I doubt he takes points off of Slytherin for it though."
Draco hesitated and just shook his head, not bothering to say anything else as Harry walked purposefully through the castle. They passed several groups of students, and Draco saw many of them make whispered comments or stare at the two of them.
Harry was completely immune to the stares and attentions. He had dealt with them all his life. This wasn't any better or worse than he normally dealt with. Harry lead them to down to the second floor of the castle and as they got off the stairs, just before they began to shift.
When they reached the landing, Draco finally spoke up. "Where are we going P-?" He cut himself off before saying anything further.
Harry turned his head, an annoyed look flickered across his face at Draco almost slipping up again. He elected not to say anything since the expression on Draco's face seemed to do enough for both of them. Instead he just shook his head as he guided them down a corridor with no portraits.
"We're here." Harry said without preamble before pushing into door in front of him.
Draco's expression was confused, "This is the girl's bathroom…"
Harry nodded, "It's also the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets."
Draco blinked. "You're… joking."
Harry just shook his head, frowning as he looked around, in front of him there was the familiar ornate and pillared sink. He was tempted to get out his wand, but instead he focused on the stalls in the bathroom.
"Myrtle?" Harry called out.
There was silence for several seconds before a scowling and translucent face poked it's head through one of the stall doors. "What? You look a little old for first years, and it's only the first day. Usually it takes a week or so before people will stop by to mock 'Moaning Myrtle'!"
Draco opened his mouth to make a comment but a brief glare from Harry shut him up. Harry turned his head and full attention to the ghost as he shook his head and held up his hands in a placating manner. "We're not here to mock you or make fun of you in any way. I promise."
Myrtle floated out through the door of the stall, a suspicious look still fixed firmly on her face. "What do you want then?"
Harry could tell Draco wanted to make several comments but was merely keeping silent, for which he was grateful, knowing the smallest thing could set Myrtle off.
"I'd actually like your help with something," Harry said conversationally, keeping his eyes fixed on Myrtle's to convey his sincerity. He felt Draco start beside him again, so he kicked the other boy's shin without looking, his expression not changing in the slightest.
"My help?" Myrtle exclaimed dramatically. "Who could possibly want Moaning Myrtle's help? If you think I'm going to wail at one of your classmates as a prank, think again!"
Despite her theatrics, Harry knew that Myrtle was actually paying close attention to him, so he kept his annoyance off his face. He was honestly asking Myrtle for her help, so he didn't have to fake his expression.
"No," Harry stated simply. "I wouldn't ask you to do something like that."
A puzzled look crossed Myrtle's face, but with the obvious things people ask her for off the table she could not disguise her interest in what Harry might have in mind.
Harry nodded earnestly and then a conspiratorial look crossed his face, and he made a point of taking out his wand and casting a silencing spell at the entrance door to the bathroom, and then added a repelling charm just to be safe. Then Harry made a show of checking all of the stalls to make sure no one was in the bathroom, though he knew from experience that no one ever came in here. Once he was satisfied, he turned back to to look at Myrtle. "I was wondering how good you were at keeping secrets."
Myrtle looked intrigued at this, "I can keep secrets."
Harry nodded agreeably, before a conspiratorial look crossed his face again. "You know about the secret entrance in here?"
Myrtle looked startled for a moment before an exaggerated look of sneakiness crossed her face. "I know all about it. It's why I died!"
Harry nodded in agreement. "That's what I heard. And since then, you've been here, occasionally pestered by people who want you to haunt others as a prank." Harry managed to inject disgust for other people into his tone.
Myrtle looked thoughtful as if considering that, but didn't seem to come to a conclusion., instead returned to looking at Harry suspiciously. "You haven't said what you want from me."
Harry nodded, "I was actually hoping for two things. First I was hoping you'd keep an eye on anyone else who might try to use the secret entrance in your bathroom."
Myrtle looked surprised, "My bathroom?"
Harry nodded politely, "Of course, this is your bathroom. Who better to know the coming and goings?"
A frown crossed Myrtle's face as she spent several moments considering that statement, before a pleased smile crossed her face at the idea of the bathroom being hers, before a suspicious look crossed her face again"Even if it is my bathroom I don't control the secret entrance. Are you going to try to open it and hurt people?"
An affronted expression crossed Harry's face, "Of course not. I would open it and make sure that no other monsters came through!" When he saw he had her entire attention. Harry continued. "I was hoping that if we made sure that there are no more monsters down there that you would not tell anyone we were using it."
Myrtle looked surprised at that statement, "Iris Potter already killed the monster! That's what the Headmaster said when he came by a few days after she went down! Before he cast some spells on the sink." Her tone sounded accusing that Harry was trying to deceive her.
Harry shook his head, "Well I'm sure Miss Potter did get the beast that got you... But did they check and make sure there weren't any more monsters down there?"
Myrtle looked startled at that and a bit frightened, as if another beast might somehow be worse for her than dying. She looked around nervously, "You think there are more down there?"
Harry shrugged and then belatedly remembered to put on an expression of concern,, "I don't know but... did Dumbledore actually go down into the Chamber and check?" Harry was gambling here, but figured it was worth the risk.
Myrtle looked surprised and concerned. "No... he cast some spells and told me Iris Potter killed the beast. But he didn't go down..."
Harry frowned and nodded, "Exactly. So I'll give you my oath to make sure there is going to be no danger from other monsters that may be down there, if you'll give me your oath to keep our secret and let us know of anyone else who may come in here for any other reason beyond the normal."
Myrtle looked thoughtful at that before she nodded slowly "Okay! You have a deal!" She looked at Harry seriously.
Harry wasn't sure whether it was his argument or simply him expressing interest in her that made Myrtle respond positively. Truth be told he didn't much care. "I give you my oath to make sure there is no direct danger to you from monsters within that Chamber of Secrets." Harry made sure to make his oath specific. No one had ever accused Myrtle of being a genius.
Myrtle straightened a bit and was almost eager as she replied, "Then i give you my oath to keep your secrets and keep guard over the bathroom!"
There was a slight shimmer in her form but no other effect. However Harry nodded solemnly at her before he turned back to the area of the sink.
Draco just looked back and forth between he and Myrtle with a bemused expression on his face, though he chose not to say anything. A warning glance from Harry told him that he had chosen wisely.
Harry pulled out his wand and began to cast diagnostic spells at the sink. It took him less than 20 seconds to discover that Dumbledore had indeed cast wards on the sink. "Interesting," he murmured quietly.
Draco frowned, "What is it?"
"Dumbledore has linked three wards to the sink." Harry responded thoughtfully after a full minute and a half of diagnostic spells.
Draco frowned, "Based on what I saw this morning, you're good with wards, What's the big deal? Did he do something complicated or obscure? I mean he is Dumbledore."
Harry frowned and shook his head, "Not at all. it's actually rather simple. It's the nature of them that makes things difficult." Harry saw Draco's puzzled expression so he continued, "With wards, generally you set them up to have a specific response to a specific action. Like the way Gringotts wards it's vaults. You try and break in, and the ward tries to suck you into the vault, leaving you unable to escape."
"Yes but you said you broke into several Gringotts vaults." Draco countered.
Harry nodded a little bit, still eyeing the sink thoughtfully. "Yes, but that's my point. Those are more… passive ward schemes. Or rather than saying passive, I'll say they are responsive ward schemes, rather than alert wards. Alert wards send an alert off to a predetermined place or person. This is a combination of two alert wards and a responsive ward scheme."
Draco just nodded blankly, wards were never his thing, though he was doing his best to follow along.
Seeing Draco's blank look, Harry expanded. "Think of it as a tripwire." Draco's face remained blank and Harry sighed to himself and rolled his eyes..
Harry's voice was musing now as he considered the challenge, "The difficult thing is that one ward is designed to send an alert somewhere if the entrance is opened. The second is set to go off if anyone tries to dismantle, bypass or break the first ward. The last ward is set to go off if either of the first two wards are tripped, a kind of area stunning spell. Dumbledore was probably concerned Voldemort would try and get back in the Chamber."
Harry's voice continued thoughtfully, "I'm going to guess Dumbledore tried to seal the Chamber closed and the Chamber's magic wouldn't let him. So he settled for the next best thing. I'm betting these alert wards are tied to something in his office."
"So, we can't get in without Dumbledore knowing it's been opened?" Draco summarized.
Harry shook his head slowly, "No, but, as with most wards, they have a flaw. You just have to know how to work around them. I just can't dismantle the wards. I'll even admit that the warding is rather good. However, there's a simple solution… I have to move the wards and tie them into something else." Harry looked around the bathroom for something convenient.
His eyes fell on a small square window high on the wall. It was one among several stained glass windows in the bathroom. Unlikely to be reached by anyone but Hagrid. Harry quickly cast an impenetrable spell on the window so someone wouldn't accidently break it. While Harry didn't know if it opened, he also cast a strong locking spell on it just to be safe.
Draco frowned, "It sounds… too easy. If he was concerned about Voldemort getting back in, I'd think it would be a lot more difficult. And a stunning spell stopping the Dark Lord? I kind of doubt it."
Harry nodded a little bit, "I think it might be more to stop any student, and possibly anyone else the Dark Lord might be with. Dumbledore couldn't do much more given the massive amount of wards overlaying the entrance. So he came up with his best."
Draco scoffed slightly, "It still sounds too easy."
Harry frowned a little bit, "I'm making it sound easier than it is. To move a ward scheme is very delicate work and takes a lot of concentration and skill. Even the slightest slip up can cause the wards to go off… if you're lucky."
Draco frowned, "What happens if you're not lucky?"
Harry shrugged, "The entire ward scheme could blow up in your face and destroy part of this bathroom." He restrained a smirk at Draco's pale face suddenly getting paler, but he didn't say anything as he focused on the sink.
Then Harry very carefully, using his wand to direct and his hand to help guide the magic, removed the three wards in unison from the sink. Making sure he didn't activate any of them was a bit more challenging than he'd let on, but nothing he hadn't done before. He moved them across the room and then reattached them to the window he had charmed unbreakable and then locked for good measure.
Draco watched in amazement, mouth open. Harry's eyes didn't glow but they seemed to gleam in the light as he used a combination of wand and hand movements. It almost looked like Harry was conducting a symphony. Draco saw what appeared to be two blue and one red glowing intertwined lines appear to come away from the sink and then move up to a window on the wall. where they seemed to shimmer and then solidify before they disappeared from his sight.
Heedless of Draco's expression, Harry nodded in satisfaction before casting several more diagnostic charms at the sink. Once he was certain there was no other wards or alerts on the sink, he softly hissed "Open."
Draco jerked slightly as heard the parseltongue before he was hit with yet another shock as the sink began to move.
Harry watched in satisfaction as the sinks moved just as they had back on his world. Opening up to a dark hole.
Draco couldn't resist moving forward tentatively and peering downward, seeing nothing in the darkness. "We need to jump in a bloody pipe?" He asked as he looked back at Harry in disbelief.
Harry shrugged, "That's how I got down last time."
Draco peered down the hole again, doubt creeping into his voice. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"Mostly." Harry replied dryly.
"Mostleeeeeeeeeeeee?!" The parrotted word had started out questioningly from Draco but then had stretched into a girlish shriek as Harry gave him a firm push into the hole.
Harry listened as Draco finally came to a stop. When he heard a sound of disgust he could tell that Draco had made it to the bottom. His followup declaration of "I hate you Potter." confirmed that Draco was still in one piece.
Harry hesitated, taking a moment to strengthen the repelling ward on the bathroom door. Then, a thought occurred to him. Harry hissed out the word "Stairs" and then "Open Stairs". He looked around, when nothing happened he shrugged his shoulders and then hopped into the hole as well.
When Harry came sliding out of the pipe at the bottom he stumbled as he came to his feet.
Harry had barely steadied himself when he found Draco glaring at him angrily. "Don't ever do that to me again!" Draco snarled, his expensive robes stained and rumpled, and his normally perfectly coiffed hair askew and grimy.
Harry just met Draco's eyes. Normally he wouldn't put up with Draco telling him what he could and couldn't do, but his amusement more than made up for it this time, though he didn't show it on his face. "Keep forgetting not to call me 'Potter', and maybe I'll leave you down here."
Draco rolled his eyes, "That time was on purpose. You pushed me down a bloody hole. Though I have to admit, calling you Flamel feels weird."
Harry shrugged a little bit as he looked around. It was relatively dark, but he could see surprisingly well in the area.
Draco fell into step behind him looking around, and then looking askance at the huge basilisk skin that had been shed. "So Iris Potter really killed the beast in Slytherin's Chamber?"
Harry shrugged a little bit, "I did on our world, events seem to have happened similarly enough here, so the basilisk is… probably dead."
"Probably dead?" Draco echoed, his voice cracking a bit.
Harry didn't respond to Draco's question and barely spared the skin a glance, and instead looked around and muttered to himself, "Huh, no cave in."
Draco frowned and looked at the ceiling. "Cave in? What cave in?"
Harry frowned looking back absently as he continued. "When Ron Weasley and I came down here on our world. We brought Lockhart down with us."
"That ponce actually went somewhere dangerous?" Draco scoffed.
"Well… Ron and I sorta forced him down here at wandpoint. We figured if we were going to die, we would at least push him in front to buy us time to escape," Harry replied. "Then the git managed to get ahold of Ron's broken wand that was held together with spello-tape… and tried to obliviate us. Only it backfired and wiped his mind. Cave in happened at the same time due to the backlash."
Draco snickered softly at that, "I don't know what happened to him here. He was just gone at the end of the year and I don't think anyone has heard anything since."
Harry nodded but didn't reply they came to a black circular door. Harry hissed out "Open" in parseltongue and watched impassively as the door animated, a snake slithering around the outside as the locks pulled back and the door swung open, to reveal pitch darkness.
Harry stepped inside followed by Draco, the instant he passed the threshold of the room, torches flared to life along the walls behind large snakes with wide open mouths.
Harry saw the familiar face of Slytherin, as well as the huge form of the snake lying dead near the end of the walkway. The snake itself seemed very well preserved.
Draco managed to keep from gasping as he saw the snake, but couldn't keep from swallowing loudly. "Merlin's balls. It's huge."
Harry frowned as he glanced up at the snake absently, it seemed about the size of the one he killed in his world, so he didn't bother to reply. Instead he focused on slowly examining the room, ignoring the snake as he closely looked at large face of Salazar Slytherin.
"How the hell did she kill him? Basilisks are nearly immune to spells, especially as they age. This one has to be centuries old, and she was only thirteen!" Draco exclaimed as he got close to the basilisk, eyes running over the beast slowly in amazement.
Harry moved over and ran his eyes over the Basilisk, crouching slightly to see in the mouth before pointing at the roof of the mouth. "Looks like she probably did it the same way I did. Stabbing the Sword of Gryffindor's through the roof of the mouth…"
Harry's voice trailed off as he turned thoughtful and then his expression turned startled as he realized the possible implications. Harry realized that Iris had almost certainly been bitten, and if she was still alive what that meant. He made a mental note to send a letter to the Flamel's to explain.
"Do you know how much potions ingredients you could harvest from this thing?" Draco asked curiously, though before Harry could answer the question Draco switched tracks. "If the Basilisk was free and roaming around for years, how come it didn't kill students?"
Harry glanced up from his distracted thoughts to look at Draco, "I assume because it usually couldn't get out of the statue." Harry said pointing at the giant face that sat no more than 10 yards from them.
"Out of the statue?" Draco asked blankly as he looked up from his inspection of the dead basilisk to the statue in front of them with a perplexed expression.
"Yes, Voldemort summoned the snake from Slytherin's mouth." Harry replied, to cut Draco off from asking, he turned to the giant face and hissed out "Open".
Harry sighed and then, after he had searched his memory for what the ghostly version of a young Tom Marvolo Riddle had said and tried again, "Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four!"
"Arrogant sod." Harry muttered as the sound of grating stone filled the chamber while Slytherin's mouth slowly began to open.
Harry had turned to say something to Draco, before suddenly spinning back around to face the statue. He clearly heard the sound of hissing from the mouth of the statue.
"Malfoy! Get behind me and close your eyes!" Harry snapped out, wand already in his hand, and his gaze directed toward the ground, ready to clench his eyes shut at the first sign of movement.
Draco was already looking at Harry, already scampering behind him as he slipped his wand into his hand, though he couldn't do anything more than point it in the general direction of the statue.
Harry noted that Draco was trembling slightly, but that he had followed direction well.
Harry hadn't had a chance to reply, though he kept his eyes on the ground, as he hissed out, "We're not here to hurt you." His mind was already considering whether or not just to flame out of the Chamber. But he didn't want to just leave a new threat free to roam the castle. His thoughts were brought to a halt by the reply.
His thoughts were brought to a screeching halt by the snake's clearly ecstatic greeting.
"Mommy!" came the hissed voice.
It had taken Harry several hours to converse with the snake which he quickly determined was a basilisk, before he felt comfortable leaving. The snake was young, though once Harry determined it's gaze would only kill intentionally, protected by a second eyelid, Harry had risked looking at the snake. He discovered it was a small snake in comparison to the dead one laying in the Chamber, measuring at a little over 10 feet.
It was obviously a young Basilisk, with only a grasp of instincts rather than any true knowledge. He kept referring to Harry as "Mommy." Any attempt to change that was just met with confusion and a resolute but happy "mommy is mommy!". He couldn't get the damn snake to call him anything else no matter what he tried.
When Harry had pointed out that he was a human, the young basilisk sounded confused and said he smelled just like a snake. Harry wondered if the basilisk was just a young one and therefore relatively ignorant and naive, or if the snake was just dumb.
Harry gave it 50/50 odds.
When Draco had asked what they were saying to one another, he had burst out into helpless laughter when Harry told him that he was trying to convince the basilisk not to call him Mommy.
That laughter had ended abruptly when Harry added that he was also trying to make sure that the basilisk knew that Draco wasn't food.
Harry had asked several questions of the Basilisk but was frustrated by the corresponding answers. The basilisk knew nothing about the Chamber or even Hogwarts as a whole, nor did it know anything about the dead basilisk that even now lay in the Chamber. Moreover it didn't seem to care about the dead snake.
Draco, however, was examining the dead snake from multiple angles and muttering about harvesting it and making a killing.
Harry had gotten caught up in the frustratingly slow conversation before Draco hesitantly reminded him that they had missed lunch and needed to go if they were going to make Herbology. Harry almost dismissed the idea but realized that if he ended up with detention it would take up more time in the evening.
Harry had sighed and ordered the snake back into the statue, and it obeyed, despite complaints that it was hungry. Harry promised it that he would bring it food in the near future before retracing their steps to the entrance. He had intended to explore the Chamber of Secrets, and though he had found a baby basilisk, they hadn't had time to explore farther. Harry had been hoping to find any other entrances or exits to the Chamber. He point blank refused to believe that there was only one.
Unfortunately this time when Harry and Draco went to exit, they didn't have Fawkes to show up and carry them out. Instead, after a few moments of consideration Harry made Draco climb back in the pipe they came down in, over Draco's objections. Then, when Draco's view of Harry was obstructed, Harry flamed back to Myrtle's bathroom, and simply summoned Draco back up the pipe.
Draco's girlish scream was every bit as satisfying to Harry when it came in reverse.
Herbology was completely unremarkable, Harry payed just enough attention to make sure that none of the plants they were working with were going to try and bite his face off, or drench him in toxic goo. Which they didn't. Draco had been sure that they both had used scourgify on themselves after exiting the Chamber, all the wall grumbling about Harry's sense of humor.
Harry mentioned how much he disliked someone whining like a little baby and the grumbling had stopped.
They had Herbology with the Hufflepuff's and he noted that familiar faces such as Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, Justin Finn Fletchley and Ernie Macmillan were all in Hufflepuff in this world. Though they very much seemed to refrain from interacting with the Slytherin's for any length of time. Not that Harry really blamed them overly much.
He was however distracted by two things. First, Daphne Greengrass, the girl who had shared the carriage with him from Hogsmeade Station to the school had sidled up next to him very briefly, and asked to speak to him alone after Herbology and before dinner.
Draco had narrowed his eyes suspiciously but hadn't said anything. Harry allowed his curiosity to get the better of him, and had nodded in agreement. Daphne had merely nodded and then strode away and proceeded to completely ignore him for the rest of class, partnering with Tracey Davis who seemed to murmur nearly non-stop at Daphne. She only seemed to pause when Professor Sprout was close enough to overhear anything said.
Secondly, Blaise Zabini had asked where they were during history. Harry had replied that he had heard stories of how bad the ghost teaching history was and had no interest in subjecting himself to Binns. Draco had just nodded, with a bit of a grin on his face.
Harry reminded himself to get a letter from the Flamel's to make it clear that he wasn't required to attend such a useless history course.
After class, Harry and Draco had left with the class, though this time they were bookended by Crabbe and Goyle who seemed to have gotten past the confusion that set in when Malfoy suddenly befriended someone else. Their solution was simple. They merely continued to stand around and look intimidating. They could do that nearly as easily around two people as they could around one.
The pair didn't talk as they headed inside and made their way to the dungeons. They passed a few other years of Slytherins headed towards the Great Hall for dinner.
Harry saw Daphne glance back at him and catch his eye. She inclined her head slightly as she broke off and headed into a room he hadn't payed attention to before when he had last attended Hogwarts.
Harry raised an eyebrow when he noted that while others saw her break off, no one said anything. Harry shrugged and began to break off to follow, only to stop when Draco grabbed his arm. Harry paused to look at him with a raised eyebrow.
Draco met his eyes seriously, his voice low enough for only Harry to hear, he murmured. "Be cautious. She's incredibly perceptive. She's a pureblood so she has plenty of reasons to approach you. She's ambitious but a bit more unrestrained in how she may chose her actions since her mother gives her that freedom. I highly doubt she wants to ambush you though."
Harry just raised an eyebrow in response. Draco wasn't telling him anything that seemed to warrant this level of concern. And while he was trying to keep away from feeling or sounding arrogant, Harry had serious doubts about her able to hurt him unless she caught him utterly off guard.
Draco frowned, realizing he wasn't getting his point across, then his eyes narrowed. "Be careful with her. She'll hear much more from the words you speak than what you intend, so don't give away more than absolutely necessary. If its possible to infer something you don't want known from what you say, there's a damn good chance she will."
Harry nodded slowly and then shrugged again, "I'm sure I'll manage just fine." He headed through the door that she had just gone.
He entered the door to find Daphne alone in the middle of the room. She stood like a statue with an unreadable expression on her face as he entered the room. Harry glanced around noting, that they seemed to be in one of the numerous empty or abandoned classrooms in the school. There was a handful of desks along one of the walls and Harry could see in occasional places where the stone had darkened from spells. Harry assumed that it was from people practicing.
His perusal brought his gaze back to meet the dark blue eyes of Daphne Greengrass who was watched him silently.
After a full minute's hesitation she seemed to lose patience and slid her wand out of her robes. Harry tensed slightly as one of his own wands left his holster. If she so much as twitched her wand towards him, she would be silenced, stunned, bound, petrified, and hanging upside down from the ceiling before she finished any incantation.
Instead all she did was she cast several silencing spells on the door. If she saw his change in posture when she drew her wand, she never acknowledged it. Once she was finished, she focused her gaze upon Harry again, though this time her gaze was thoughtful and speculative.
After nearly a minute of meeting her gaze evenly Harry finally spoke, "You asked to talk to me, Miss Greengrass. If all you wanted to do was stare at me, I have other things to occupy my time than to stare back."
Daphne frowned a bit at the bluntness of the comment, though it was to be expected as she had not yet spoken and had requested the meeting. She had thought out several different ways to start this conversation, and different ways in which the conversation could play out. All of her strategies would ultimately lead to the same end goal, but Harry's bluntness seemed to throw her off.
"I know you were the one who cast those wards this morning," she said, and instantly struggled to keep the grimace from her face. Whatever plans she had initially made to confront him, paint him in a corner with inconsistencies, and bargain for his aid had just been completely ruined by the blunt way she herself had shown what knowledge she currently possessed. However his unnerving directness had her on her heels.
"Oh?" Harry said in a disinterested tone. "What brought you to a conclusion like that?" Harry kept his expression bland, but was wondering what the point of announcing it like that might be.
Daphne frowned and seemed to gather herself. Her aloof expression returned as she studied Harry for several moments before she replied. "Several things. Firstly, your own room was untouched."
Harry shrugged a little bit, while he once more examined the walls of the classroom with more interest, before his attention returned to her. When he finally spoke, his voice had a tinge of surprise and disbelief in his words, "You know the exact circumstances behind my own room's lack of visitation last night? They may have simply not have had the chance. Their night's activities seemed to have been disrupted last night. That is certainly not evidence that I was behind the wards cast last night."
Daphne frowned, and leaned back against a desk. She slowly crossed her legs and simultaneously arched her back and chest forward as she spoke, her movements were calculated to get his physical interest, and to distract him. Distracted people gave away more than they intended.
After several moments she replied, "I hear things. You did not make friends last night with Bole. He doesn't appreciate it when people talk back to him."
Harry snorted dismissively. Bole wasn't even on his radar in the last world, and from what he'd seen so far, the 7th year was all talk in this world. "I don't see how you think that means that I was responsible for this morning's… entertainment."
Daphne's piercing eyes remained on his, though she was somewhat disconcerted to note that his eyes never left hers, despite her provocative pose, "You challenged him. You have a name that has every pureblood and any halfway decent student of history turning their heads to keep one eye upon you. He and his friends wanted to take you down a few pegs and teach you your place in the hierarchy."
A flicker of amusement at that thought crossed Harry's face. The idea of a seventh year trying to teach him "his place" after he'd spent years doing all he could to enrage a Dark Lord who held a grudge, and had no sense of humor. The games schoolchildren played to inflate their egos were of no consequence to him.
"Then why didn't they come after me last night?" His reply was clearly amused.
A brief look of puzzlement crossed Daphne's face as she frowned, "I heard them say they couldn't find your room." The look blossomed to confusion as she concentrated. "I.. can't seem to remember where your room was, though… I thought…" Her voice trailed off and she grasped on to her original thoughts.
Harry couldn't help the smirk that crossed his face now. He had seen the fidelius charm at work many times and could always tell when someone tried to remember a bit of information that they once knew but could no longer recall.
Daphne's eyes narrowed at the expression that crossed Harry's face, though she misunderstood what the smirk was directed at, "You think it's funny? This is Slytherin. Bole and his cronies will come after you as a group sooner or later. Even being a friend of Malfoy will only keep them from going too far."
Harry blinked and stared in surprise at her. His surprise lasted just a second before he chuckled softly. He had tried to stop it, but he just couldn't help it. A very small chuckle of honest amusement. A feeling he hadn't felt in far too long.
His response did not seem to please Daphne, if the way her surprised expression melted into one of anger was anything to go by. "You do! This... this is a joke to you! You think your connections with Malfoy will protect you from them!"
Harry couldn't stop the snort of laughter again, but he regained his control, though amusement was still spread upon his face. "You think I sought out Malfoy and allied with him for my protection? Maybe you should ask Draco about that."
Daphne scowled a little bit, and flippantly responded, "Draco is easy to figure out. He wants to be top of the hierarchy, and only allowed you to flock to his side to increase his own perceived standing. But, in reality, he is a pale shadow of his father, and his father was happy to serve at someone's feet. The son of Lucius Malfoy is all talk. You will not rule this House with Draco as your only ally."
Amusement once more crossed Harry's face. He couldn't deny the truth of what Daphne had just said. it was fairly accurate. Of course that was before Draco died. There was also the minor detail that he couldn't care less who ruled the teenaged hierarchy of Slytherin house.
"People can surprise you with their intentions, Miss Greengrass. However, while this is potentially intriguing to watch you freely give your opinions on your housemates, its ultimately not very interesting as I'm more than capable of forming my own opinions. You still haven't answered either of my questions. What do you want, and why would you think I had anything to do with the wards?"
His eyes never left hers, and kept his expression bland, showing only mild interest in her statement, he chanced a brief connection with legilimency. Harry wasn't being arrogant when he felt that he was probably one of the best legilimens in the world. Harry had discovered the hard way, brute force interrogations weren't always successful. Especially if someone broke someone's mind before finding important information.
He kept his touch feather light and subtle. He could see she had occlumency training, and had no interest in her realizing what he was doing. He couldn't chance a deep connection and read her thoughts, but he could get an impression of her emotions and tell whether or not she was lying.
Daphne's eyes narrowed at Harry's reply, "I saw your face when the professors struggled with the wards. I saw your expression when that singing voice made itself known. I saw Malfoy look at you when the sixth and seventh years came screaming out of the hallway. Finally, I saw your smirk... the pride you held in your own work. It was pretty much like the one you've got now."
He didn't bother denying the smirk, and responded in the same partially amused voice, "I do believe quite a few people were barely controlling their smiles while watching the top members of the so-called "hierarchy" of the house flounder around like children. I don't see how that makes me the culprit, or even the prime suspect. I'm sure the professors would punish me if I was. If they had any proof… or if I was stupid enough to admit to it being me."
Daphne's eyes were narrowed, once again thrown off by Harry's manner. She seemed to slump slightly in acquiescence. "Fine." The word came out from gritted teeth before she smoothed her expression out.
She took a moment to gather her internal composure, "You're right of course. No one would admit to doing anything. Let's say... hypothetically, you were aware of someone in the Slytherin dorms who could ward and protect rooms well enough to stump the teachers and trap all of the upper years, keeping students safe in their rooms. Hypothetically, if someone wanted protection for their younger sister, a third year Slytherin, what compensation do you believe this Wardmaster would accept for his time and efforts?"
The amused look slid off Harry's face. He didn't actually know much about Daphne Greengrass, but he did vaguely recall that she had a younger sister. He couldn't even remember her name, though he thought she might have been a Ravenclaw in his old world.
"That's what this conversation was about? You couldn't ask that right off the bat? Rather than playing 'hypothetical' games or accusing me of assaulting our… noble peers?" Harry couldn't keep the sneer out of his voice at the word 'noble'. He still had a hard time as classifying the majority of them as anything other than 'future corpses'.
Daphne couldn't stop a snort that escaped her when Harry so effortly denigrated her fellow Slytherins. She looked astonished at her break in composure before regaining it quickly.
"So if you can protect your own room, why can't you protect your sister's room?" When he saw her start to speak he quickly added, "Hypothetically speaking, of course." Harry rolled his eyes as he tacked on that statement and spoke as if talking to a child.
With that comment, Daphne gave up all attempts at an act, "Two reasons. Tracey Davis and I have deliberately shared a room for years. Having two wands in one room is very helpful, though it's been the cause for more than one rumor in Slytherin. And I'm much better with a wand than my sister. I always have been, and on the occasions when someone has made it through our wards, I've made them regret it. It usually means we sleep in shifts anytime we're worried, like the beginning of the year."
Daphne seemed to suddenly stand taller, "I am the Heiress of our House. I have been trained both to protect our line's reputation and our station. My sister has not needed such skills before now, and her focus has been upon much more subtle arts such as her love of potions. Not only that, but my sister never should have been sorted into Slytherin in the first place. She doesn't have the disposition for Slytherin amusements of betrayal and backstabbing." Daphne replied, as she had completely dropped speaking in hypotheticals and met Harry's eyes.
Harry frowned thoughtfully and quietly asked, "Why was she sorted to Slytherin then?"
Daphne shrugged a little bit, "My mother, and myself were both here and she wanted to follow in our footsteps despite me telling her she should go elsewhere." Daphne looked down a moment and then looked up, anger flashing in her own eyes briefly.
"I found when I tried to protect her during her first year the prefects can stop us from going into the rooms of the younger years at night. Bunch of bloody hypocrites. Now she's a third year, and they're likely to be far less restrained with their 'fun'. I've already heard comments that she's attracted the eye of more than one seventh year. I've probably made it worse by rendering myself untouchable. They'll go after her to get back … at… me..." Daphne trailed off and blinked in surprise at the sight before her.
Harry's expression had lost all traces of humor as she explained her point. It was replaced by something… else. Harry hadn't outright disbelieved Draco the night before, but this just hammered the point home. His eyes bored into Daphne's for several long seconds, and he was reading nothing but truth in her statements, before he replied stiffly. "I'll take care of it "
Daphne blinked in surprise again, trying to shrug off the inexplicable fear that had risen in her at his sudden shift in demeanor. "This time you didn't answer my question. What would you demand in return? There's nothing more important to me than my sister's safety," she forced out, ignoring years of conditioning to not reveal weakness. "Absolutely nothing," she repeated forcefully, "If you can protect my sister, I will give you anything in my power." the promise and near blatant invitation in her voice clear.
Harry frowned. He may not be all that adept at social cues, especially given his general sense of apathy but he was not so oblivious that he missed what she was willing to offer.
The fact that she was willing to go so far told him all he needed to about how desperately she viewed the situation. Well, either that or she was just used to whoring to get what she needed. Harry got the gut impression that it was far more desperation.
Harry shook his head, "I'm not interested in compensation, Miss Greengrass. I have no need of compensation. I will take care of it so she'll be protected beginning this evening."
Harry didn't wait for a reply, he spun on his heel and walked to the door, his wand was in his hand, and he waved it briefly at the door before exiting the room without saying another word, slamming the door behind him harder than he had intended.
Daphne watched the door loudly close behind him. She had been ready to tell Ares that one of the spells she had cast had sealed the door, but either she had miscast it, or he had dispelled it with an ease she had never encountered before.
It wasn't until the distant footfalls of Ares's confident steps had faded to silence that she let out the deep breath she had been holding. There had been something… dangerous in Ares' face in those final moments before his departure.
His eyes and expression had gone completely still. Daphne had barely managed to resist the urge to back away from the suddenly murderous intent that was so thinly veiled by his icy countenance. The idea that he was named after the ancient God of War didn't seem so arrogant at the moment.
Overall, the conversation had not gone at all like she had expected it to. She had expected to use her knowledge of Ares being the one to cast the wards, to improve her bargaining position in order to get what she wanted. She had assumed that Ares wouldn't want the rest of Slytherin to possess the knowledge of who had embarrassed them, and that information could somehow be held over his head to maneuver him into the position where he would agree to ward her sister's room.
Daphne had expected that she would have to give some sort of favor after some back and forth negotiation. Given his apparent association with Draco Malfoy, Daphne had expected those negotiations to have been less than pleasant no matter what sort of bargaining chips she brought to the table. She had been willing to go even farther and reveal what she had overheard of his conversation the night before. It was far more blunt than she was used to, but she was determined to protect her sister.
Ares Flamel, however, had acted nothing like expectations. He had seemed amused at some of the common sense things she had mentioned. In fact, his utter contempt for the members of Slytherin house and their traditions was visible for anyone to see. The kind of person he was underneath the multiple masks he donned was beyond her capacity to even identify, much less understand. He was either an idiot with no sense of self-preservation, an ignorant child who had no previous exposure to the sharks of pureblood politics, or he was something else..
The rejection of a future favor was also something that Daphne could not wrap her mind around. That was the barter and trade for many of the purebloods in Slytherin, trading actions for future favors. The more desperate you were in the present the larger the favors could end up being.
Daphne had been willing to trade any sort of favors, even going so far as to be flirtatious to encourage his cooperation through physical means. She had even been willing to sleep with him if he protected her sister. She wouldn't have been enthusiastic, but she would have done it.
Ares Flamel had completely dismissed any sort of payment out of hand. As if the idea of her being in his debt didn't matter at all to him. That, plus his warding of the first year rooms suggested that Ares Flamel had a hero complex. Putting himself at risk to protect others, was practically textbook definition of hero complex.
With anyone else, Daphne would have said that made him easy to manipulate in the future. However she had seen his attitude as they talked. He seemed to truly believe that he was in no danger. She would have called that arrogance and foolishness… practically Gryffindorish. Except…. the expression on his face just before he left.
Daphne had been reading people all her life. She considered it something she was particularly good at. And in that moment Ares Flamel radiated with rage. Her senses were practically screaming at her and telling her she was in the presence of quite literally the most dangerous individual Daphne had ever encountered...
...and he was only 15 years old.
To make matters worse, Daphne couldn't even say for sure that her physical traits had made any sort of impact on him. Granted, she had barely tapped that particular angle during the conversation, and she certainly didn't want to whore herself out though if given no other choice she would have for the sake of her sister. But to have her subtle wiles be completely ignored was a rather massive blow to her pride.
She glanced down at her maturing body, and scowled at the idea that it wasn't enough to at least impress the newcomer. Especially after so many others among her house had attempted to claim it in the past. However, the Flamels had French roots and the French were known to be less conservative. Maybe he was accustomed to that culture, and her current outfit wasn't risque enough to attract his attention?
She could read between the lines and easily saw that she had guessed dead-wrong about Flamel aligning with Malfoy for protection. But she couldn't figure out what other reason the two might be allied over. The Flamel's didn't need wealth, that was for certain, and while they never took part in government, they could, if they chose to, still wield an impressive array of legal and political power.
Malfoy was another conundrum. Daphne was certainly not the only one to notice that Malfoy had changed this since the end of the prior school year. None of the others seemed to have noticed that the constant bragging and grandstanding, not to mention claims of his family's importance, which had previously been the majority of Draco's conversations in the past few years, had utterly vanished.
That was just the surface changes though. Now, he seemed to be following Ares Flamel around, and Daphne hadn't missed his performance in transfiguration. While Draco was never incompetent or slow, he had never displayed proficiency that was so far ahead of his peers like he had in transfiguration that morning.
However, what was most telling to Daphne was the conversation she had overheard the evening before, though for the life of her she couldn't seem to remember where it had occurred. She had remembered being surprised that she could overhear, that no one had cast silencing wards and she hadn't wasted the chance. She just wished she could remember where she heard the conversation.
What she had heard absolutely stunned her. They had talked about Voldemort not only as if they knew he wasn't dead and was going to be making a comeback. That had shaken Daphne to the core. More than that, Ares had Draco Malfoy talking about defying He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Daphne had assumed that he was just like his father and would be looking to lick the boots of anyone who allowed him to act upon his unhidden bigotry.
She had heard Draco telling Ares about the tradition of Slytherin house and had wondered if he would manage to make it through the night without a trip to the hostpial wing. She had actually doubted it at the time. Especially as Draco hadn't said anything to the older students about Ares being under his protection. Daphne had thought Draco a fool for believing that simple association would protect Ares, especially after he had deliberately antagonized Lucian Bole.
However, Daphne hadn't expected for it to be the older Slytherins who would end up needing help. Yet, that morning, they had not only been caught, but humiliated. She wondered if Ares knew that while the older Slytherins might be slow, but not that slow. When the sixth and seventh year Slytherins found out who humiliated them, Daphne had no doubt there would be a infirmary trip involved.
They would no doubt eventually figure out it was him. She wondered what he would do when that happened. However, she had a growing suspicion that there would be multiple infirmary trips involved.
Now, Daphne just wasn't sure who would end up in the infirmary.
She knew Ares and Malfoy were looking for a teacher, one that could teach them far more than they could learn at school. And they had disappeared during History class today. Though she had no idea where. She idly wondered whether Binn's ghost would report it, or whether it would start a precedent and other people would just start skiving off that class completely as well.
It was obvious that there now important events occurring in their world which she and everyone else she knew were completely oblivious to. It was also obvious that Ares Flamel and Draco Malfoy were determined to be in the thick of it. Daphne needed to know more and she was determined to do so… after making sure her sister would be safe.
She stood up from the desk she had leaned against and prepared to leave the classroom. The soreness of her back made her realize she still had still been sitting with her chest pressed forward slightly to attract Ares attention and throw him off guard. She glanced down at her bustline for a few moments. Daphne considered herself well endowed, especially for her frame, and had use her physical attractiveness on multiple occasions to twist and manipulate people, or even just put them off balance. It was second nature to her.
However for the first time she could recall her attempt had utterly failed. After a second, she snarled in frustration at how easily Ares Flamel seemed to frustrate her. He was a conundrum and she was determined to figure him out, as she left the room as quickly as she could.
Harry caught Draco briefly as he re-entered the Slytherin's house. Draco was waiting in the common room, looking clean from his shower.
Draco saw Harry come in alone and frowned, looking around before murmuring quietly, "You didn't… kill her did you?" His tone indicated that he didn't really think Harry had done so, but that he couldn't help asking the question.
Harry shook his head and snorted, wondering just how easily Draco felt him capable of killing someone, especially so casually, then he realized the idea that Draco felt he might be capable of such casual homicide didn't really bother him. "Not at all. Why don't you go ahead to dinner? I'll catch up with you."
Draco frowned and looked at Harry's flat expression. "Have… plans for tonight changed?"
Harry glanced around, frowning a moment at Draco saying something in a public setting. However the common room was nearly empty and the last stragglers seemed to be heading out after washing up. Harry shook his head with a sigh. "No they haven't. Go on. I want to do a few things, and then I'll catch up."
Draco hesitated a moment longer and then nodded before gesturing to Crabbe and Goyle who were looking longingly at the common room entrance, clearly eager to get to dinner. They eagerly fell into step behind Draco. Harry wondered at how utterly they followed Draco, before he shook his head.
On Harry's world, Goyle had held Harry and several friends at wand point just before the Fall of Hogwarts. Goyle had been determined to drag them before Voldemort. Instead of stunning them and floating them he had tried to march them there while he walked backwards, keeping them under his wand. He made it a grand total of three steps... before he stepped backward on to empty air as the stairways of Hogwarts shifted behind him. He had fallen seven floors to his death.
This of course was before Harry started killing all death eaters on general principle.
Harry watched Draco depart before he headed towards his room. Once he was certain he was out of sight of anyone, he disillusioned himself, determined to work quickly.
At least he was in no danger of getting rusty from lack of practice.
Harry managed to finish his tasks quicker than anticipated. It wasn't as hard as he expected with people around. A simple disillusioning spell, and the general darkness of the dungeon sleeping area made staying hidden relatively easy. None of the ward schemes he encountered gave him more than a minute of challenge. Most of them he simply took down and replaced in quick sure movements, but a couple of them were creative enough or solid enough that he merely added layers on top of what was already established.
He met up with Draco nearly two hours later as Draco left the Great Hall with Crabbe and Goyle as shadows behind him, both carrying food as they followed.
He had passed Daphne as he exited the Slytherin common room, and had barely broken stride long enough to murmur, "Your sister's room is protected as well as all the others, third year and below. Along with yours and a few others in fourth year, too. You won't stand out this way. Sleep well." He didn't stay for an acknowledgement, just kept walked down the corridor.
He was oblivious to the stunned expression on Daphne's face, and equally unaware of how her gaze followed him down the corridor.
Draco took one look at Harry's expression before dismissing Crabbe and Goyle to fall into step next to Harry. When Crabbe and Goyle stood there looking confused, Draco rolled his eyes and told them to head on back to the common room. The two large boys grunted acknowledgement before obeying.
"You know Crabbe and Goyle tend to eat until the food disappears, and you still didn't make dinner." Draco said with a chuckle watching them leave.
Harry nodded a little bit but didn't reply, and was glad that Draco didn't bring anything else up in the corridor where people and portraits left nowhere to talk privately.
They made a quick detour to the kitchens, where Draco watched quietly as Harry asked the house elves for a small dinner, and if they could pack half a dozen meals for a picnic.
Draco made no comments as the house elves excitedly provided a large dinner meal, and then packed enough food into a picnic basket for 15 people. His eyes widened in surprise when Harry knelt down and thanked the house elf that gave him the basket. The thanks set off a wave of excitement through the house elves who all suddenly scampered away to become busy with something.
Harry didn't say anything as they left, shrinking the large basket to more easily carry it and headed off through the castle. It was in one of the corridors that Draco finally said something about the spectacle he had just seen. "Why did you do that?"
Harry glanced at Draco for a moment as they walked through the castle moving through the second floor "Have you ever heard the phrase 'You catch more flies with honey than vinegar'?" Harry asked curiously.
Draco frowned, this time completely befuddled, "Why would you want to catch flies? What does that have to do with house elves?"
Harry sighed and shook his head, "Nevermind. I treat house elves well because they're thinking and feeling beings just like us. I treat them that way because that's what they deserve."
Draco frowned, clearly trying to work through what Harry had said. He was trying to understand, it was so different from what he had ever seen.
Harry however was ambivalent to Draco's internal confusion, instead was looking around at paintings. When he found the one he was looking for he turned to the nearest classroom, pulling Draco inside after him. This classroom had clearly not been used for some time, since it was nothing more than a blank area. Draco was a bit startled, but said nothing until Harry had cast several silencing spells and sealing spells around the room.
"What are we doing here?" Draco asked.
"Closest room to a secret passage that exits Hogwarts. I had hoped to explore the chamber of secrets more completely today, because I'm sure there's a secret exit there as well, but we got side tracked." Harry replied, already pulling his trunk necklace over his head and setting it down to enlarge it.
Draco hesitated and then nodded slowly, "Do I need to bring anything?"
Harry glanced over at him with a dismissive roll of his eyes. "Not unless you happen to have a set of dragonhide or basilisk hide armor stored away in your trunk." When Draco shook his head, Harry nodded. "Right. I thought not."
Harry took the time to open his trunk and shifted to the appropriate lock to open the correct compartment. Then he glanced over at Malfoy and sighed, before he climbed into the trunk, digging deeply as he moved clothing around until he found what he was looking for. He scrambled back out of the trunk and tossed a pile of clothing and a pair of boots to Draco. "Put that on."
Draco frowned shaking out the pile of fabric that he had just been tossed. "Is this dragonhide?"
Harry was already half back in the trunk as he called out absently. "Yeah. It's pretty damn tough."
There was the sound of rustling fabric both inside and outside of the trunk before Draco replied, "Are you expecting to get into a fight or something tonight?"
Harry's snort was loud enough to carry from the trunk. "I always expect it. It's how my luck works. Murphy's law, the Harry addendum. It's part of why I'm letting you come tonight."
"Why is that?" Draco didn't say anything to the Murphy's law comment, he didn't know what Murphy's law was, but instead concentrated on dressing.
Harry huffed, "I don't know anything about your abilities or lack thereof. I hope that I don't need you at all tonight, but better be prepared for contingencies… as long as you know to apparate the hell out if I tell you or at the first sign of trouble. I'm letting you come just in case… and because you asked."
"What does that have to do with anything?" He felt Harry was being paranoid, but he wasn't going to object to extra protection. He had no interest in dying again.
"I spent enough of my life being 'protected' because someone else felt I wasn't ready and that they were more capable than I was. I won't do it to someone else… unless you really irritate me." Harry said with finality, ending the conversation.
Harry was still out of sight inside the trunk when Draco had the top and the pants settled. He looked down to see that he was in a brand new dragonhide suit. He was in the process of trying on the boots when Harry called out, "How does it fit?"
"A bit loose but it fits okay. The hips are too wide and the chest too big, but only a little and I can manage. The boots are another matter though. They're too big for me to walk very well in. " Draco responded.
There was a sigh from Harry, "Damn Malfoy… how bloody small are your feet? Give them back and try these boots instead."
Draco pulled the boots off and then tossed them into the trunk, he was rewarded a moment later by Harry's irritated voice. "Damnit Malfoy!"
Draco snickered softly, "Revenge for the Chamber this morning." He called out to Harry.
His amusement was cut short when two more boots rocketed out of the trunk. One of them sailed cleanly over his head, but the other hit him squarely in the forehead.
"Ow! Damnit… Flamel!" he muttered as he rubbed the skin of his forehead before he bent down to grab the smaller boots.
Harry climbed out of the trunk carrying a pair of cloaks, and dressed in his own armor. In contrast to the armor Draco wore, Harry's armor was grey and looked worn. Here and there were splotches of discoloration where the armor was patched over haphazardly with newer pieces of skin.
Draco glanced up and a puzzled look crossed his face. "Why did you give me the armor that looks new?"
Harry shook his head wryly and chuckled, "The armor I'm wearing was initially made for me, though I've had to patch it a few places this week and Perenelle helped me size it to fit my younger, not to mention non-crippled, frame."
Draco nodded, "Oh, so what… is this your spare armor or something?" he asked as he tugged lightly at the loose armor on his chest.
Harry shook his head with a small smirk on his face, "No, that was some backup armor which was made for a friend of mine."
Draco frowned as he considered that statement. "Oh… so who did it belong to? Longbottom? One of the Weasleys? No wonder it's loose on me." he asked as he flexed his arms, visibly imagining a male posing heroically in the armor.
Harry shook his head, "No, it was a spare set made for Hermione when she was nineteen."
There was a pause as Draco digested that, "... Granger? I'm wearing armor made for a bloody woman?" his voice was a combination of disbelief and scandalized.
"Well… you did say it was loose in the chest and the hips. You are kind of a runt compared to her when that was made," Harry replied blandly. After a pause he continued, "Though apparently her boots were too big for you. Luckily Ginny's seem to fit you okay." The irony of a Malfoy wearing a female Weasley's hand-me-downs had Harry fighting down a shit-eating grin.
There was a choking sound for several seconds, and Harry appreciated how red Draco's face turned before he cut off any further reply when he announced grimly, "Darkness is already falling and I want to get moving as quickly as possible. I've never actually broken in to Azkaban before. I'm not sure what sort of wards or other issues we'll be facing."
Draco put aside his distraction and nodded slowly, attempting to match Harry's serious expression. "So… what exactly is the plan? Do you care to enlighten me?"
Harry nodded slowly, "I try to keep my plans simple. We'll exit the castle through the secret passage. Apparate to the coast, together. Assuming you've got the power to apparate that far, and you've tandem apparated before; not just side-alonged. I really don't feel like trying to track you down because you apparated yourself to some random coastline, or reattaching a limb because you've splinched yourself."
Draco nodded, "I have tandem apparated before, and I shouldn't have any problem reaching the coast."
Harry nodded, "From there, my plan is to get to the island and then try and find Regulus' cell. It's not like they offer maps to prisoner's cells. If that doesn't work, I'll line of sight apparate to the island. Track down his cell. Get him out of there and flame us both back to you."
Draco frowned, "What will I be doing during all this?"
Harry paused a moment and then shrugged, "Guarding the picnic basket?"
Draco scowled, but Harry cut off any protest. "Look Malfoy, I've gotten out of the habit of endangering others on this sort of thing. I've got out of the habit of working with people, and I'm definitely not used to working with you. You insisted on coming, and against my better judgement I'm letting you. I won't always make you sit on a sideline like this, but for now, that's how it is. I don't have time to figure out what you can or can't do."
Draco frowned, "Why are we in such a hurry?"
Harry hesitated and frowned, "You saw the letter. I've been trying to deal with the information I have as quickly as possible. Before it becomes useless. The longer we're here the more dissimilar things are. I don't know if our Voldemort is here or not. If he is, any similarities to our world will disappear rapidly."
Draco turned that over in his head and then nodded slowly. "Okay." He wasn't pleased about the idea, and it showed, but he also wasn't going to argue and risk being left behind. He was determined to be part of it. He had no desire to die kneeling and kissing the robes of Voldemort.
As a last touch, Harry tossed Draco one of two grey cloaks. "When we're out there, wear that at all times and don't take your hood down. It's charmed so that only the wearer can pull it off without some painstaking charms. It will obscure your identity and modify your voice when you talk."
Draco nodded nervously and held up the cloak speculatively, "Granger's?"
Harry shoot his head. "No, Ginny's. I don't know if anyone's told you this before or not, but you're a bit on the small side."
Draco rolled his eyes, "We're teenagers again, Flamel. Besides, you're one to talk."
Harry shrugged at the riposte, "I'd offer to let you have Ron's. He managed to badger Hermione to weave a charm in that would make his eyes glow different colors when he wanted. I never spent much time copying the charm work. But the cloaks are magic resistant, and you'd practically swim in a cloak made for Ron at 19."
Harry glanced at Draco with a critical eye and then sighed, "Please tell me you didn't put the armor on over your wand holster." When Draco's only reply was embarrassed silence, Harry rolled his eyes, "Your wand might be a bit important tonight."
They waited another half hour as the last bit of dusk faded away, before Harry decided it was dark enough to proceed. Harry cast a disillusionment charm on himself, followed by several other concealment spells. Draco also disillusioned himself, though Harry was slightly annoyed to note that it was all he did. Harry gave his companions a few more layers of protections, making a mental note to teach the blond how to protect more than just his visual presence.
They made it to the painting and Harry reached out and lightly patted a dog that was in the painting. The painting shuddered slightly and swung away from the wall like a door. Draco gave a start of surprise, but Harry ignored him. He knew Hogwarts like the back of his hand, possibly better than even the house elves. This Hogwarts seemed to be exactly the same as the one he remembered, at least structurally.
Harry was slightly surprised to find that the passage was thick with dust and spider webs, judging by the amount, it hadn't been used in a long time. Harry's suspicious nature came out and he flicked his wand into his hand, using several diagnostic spells on the area to make sure the area wasn't an illusion, boobytrapped, or in some way monitored.
When the spells came back negative, Harry grabbed the air where he could hear Draco breathing, and pulled him forward by what he believed was a shoulder into the secret passage. He lead Draco downward until the passage leveled off for a bit and then rose once more, until they came to a stone wall.
Harry held out his wand and flicked it without a word, a small spray of water came out. When the water hit the wall, the stone rumbled a little quietly and slowly the big blocks shifted to the side creating a man size opening. Harry ignored Draco's exclamation of surprise and exited the passage.
Looking around, Harry was satisfied to see them in the same spot he remembered. Outside of the walls and Hogwart's main gates. He looked toward the main gates and saw the outline of the Beauxbaton's carriage in the night air, and the Durmstrang ship as it sat in the Black Lake.
Harry pulled Draco away, moving toward the Forbidden Forest and along the outline of the trees. Draco didn't protest, and Harry said nothing until several minutes later when he felt them pass through Hogwarts' wards. Once through, Harry pulled Draco into the edge of the forest, and canceled first his own, and then Draco's disillusion spells.
"How did you know about that? How did you get the exit to open?" Draco half asked, half demanded. He had been surprised by the secret passage, even more so by the exit, so near the main gate of Hogwarts.
Harry chuckled mirthlessly. "I learned this place inside and out during my time here. You'd be amazed the things I know about Hogwarts. As for the exit, you have to cast a water spell on that specific stone for it to open up. Regular water won't do it, and if you cast the water on the wrong stone, it locks up for hours."
Draco was about to comment on the bitterness in Harry's tone, but Harry shook his head, which cut off any more discussion along those lines. "Are you ready to tandem apparate? I ought to be able to get us damn near the coast.
Draco nodded, "Whenever you're ready."
Harry nodded, and without saying anything else, he disappeared with a soft "crack," followed so closely by a second "crack" that it was impossible to tell there were two sounds.
Harry and Draco arrived near simultaneously with soft cracks. They found themselves on a rocky coast looking out at the North Sea. Harry looked around cautiously, for any sign that they were heard. When the area remained clear, Harry looked down the coast, in the distance he could see a small house with a boat.
Harry was well aware that there were likely two Aurors on duty in the guardhouse. They were there to guard the ferry to and from Azkaban. The only way to get to the island by sea was to take the ferry, which had been enchanted to make it through the wards. The wards also destroyed any broomstick attempting to approach the island. The ministry on his world had been particularly proud of that little ward.
Harry looked over at Draco, "Okay, unless someone comes out here, don't go anywhere and don't cast any magic. When I come back, be ready to apparate. I will probably have Regulus with me, but until I talk to him, I won't be sure." Harry pointed down the shore, "Aurors, so don't go doing anything stupid."
Draco looked where Harry had pointed and nodded and then whispered quietly, "How are you going to find Regulus in all of the prison? It's not like they give out maps."
Harry chuckled a little bit, "I'm very familiar with the layout of Azkaban… at least the Azkaban of our world."
Draco frowned in confusion, "How's that?"
Harry shrugged as he looked out at the sea, it was relatively calm at the moment but the waves were starting to rise, and he could see the initial signs of an oncoming storm. "I spent a few months there."
Draco blinked in surprise and then frowned, "When?"
"I came out on the worse end of a confrontation and needed someplace to hide from Voldemort, and figured that was one place he'd never think to look for me. I had nothing better to do, so I explored that place from top to bottom, and there was no one in it but me." Harry shook his head slightly, freeing himself from the thoughts.
Draco just stared at Harry for several moments before he also seemed to shake himself out of his surprise. "How are you going to get to the island?"
Harry rolled his eyes a moment, briefly irritated with Malfoy. He almost gave into temptation and told him to go back. However he had long ago learned that it was better to have at least some some of backup. The fact that Draco Malfoy barely qualified in Harry's opinion, was something he was trying not to dwell on.
Harry stepped back and then closed his eyes in concentration. This was option number one. His next option was to flame directly to the island, but he worried that might draw more attention than he wanted. For a minute nothing happened. And Harry was just about to give up when he felt it.
Slowly his body started to shrink, his features began to shift. Harry hid a grimace, he could feel his body resisting the change. It was like pushing his entire body against a tide. It was like his body had no clue what to do while his mind did. Harry realized that that might be more true than he cared to admit.
However, for some reason it always took him time to shift into his phoenix form, not that he had a lot of practice. This transformation hurt. His body shifting and compacting into the form was similar to the sensation of scraping his body along a gravel road, and he had no idea why. Harry was nothing if not stubborn though, and nearly three minutes after he began, he finished his transformation.
Draco couldn't help a soft gasp of shock. Before him was a large bird, nearly waist high, and completely pitch black. Draco had a hard time discerning the complete form in the night air. When he recognized the bird, he let out a sigh, though he kept his voice down and tried to sound exasperated, the surprise still filtered through. "Why am I not surprised?"
Harry took a breath, taking several moments to recover from that transformation. It wasn't the worst pain he ever felt, but it wasn't pleasant by any means. Stretching his wings he made sure to gain his balance and then with a strong thrust he pushed himself in the air. It took several beats of his wings before he could orient himself out to sea. As he flew over the water below for the first time it wasn't incredibly disorienting for him. He was still seeing in depth.
He shook his mind from those thoughts and concentrated on the mission ahead. Several minutes out to sea and he could already feel the drop in temperatures from the dementors. He could feel the pressure of a ward pass over him as it tried to force him down. It took several beats of Harry's wings to force him through the owl repulsing ward, and for just a moment he felt he would be physically ill. Harry had to admit he was impressed with the strength of the ward. However it wasn't built to hold back a phoenix.
As he came in sight of the large triangular pillar that rose out of the ocean. As it came into view he saw the familiar dark figures floating in the air around the prison, as well as the accompanying drop in air temperature.
Harry flew on, ignoring the presence of the dementors as he approached the island. As he approached the familiar island, Harry shifted his flight to fly towards the base of the prison. Initially he intended to fly and check the windows, but that would take awhile, since he had no idea what Regulus actually looked like. Harry knew he could figure it out by process of elimination, but decided to try a quicker way.
Harry flew toward a corner of the prison where he remembered finding the remains of an office in the Azkaban of his world. Of course he had also found the skeletal remains of someone crucified to the wall, with the word "Warden" carved into wall over it's head. Of course whoever it was, had been killed at least 2 years before he'd been there.
Harry had taken the body down and burned it's remains. Though it was far from the only body found during his time inhabiting the prison.
Harry found himself outside a small window, peering inside. He could see the dark office, though it was far more in one piece than it had been in his old world. Harry was pressing his face against the glass and was just about to flame into office when the window snapped open inwards. The unexpected movement caught Harry by surprise and he went tumbling in with a surprised and undignified squawk.
Harry fell onto another desk that was beneath the window where he gathered himself with a shake of his head. Once he regained his bearings, Harry stilled completely, prepared to flame outside in an instant should he hear any response to the sudden noise. After a full minute when there had been no response to the noise, Harry shifted back into his human form slowly, with a grunt as his muscles shifted back. It didn't feel any better shifting back and it took him almost two minutes to resume his human form.
After making sure all his body parts were in their appropriate places, Harry quickly took stock of the office, it was rather bare. Harry guessed that even the lower part of the prison, where dementors patrolled less frequently still wasn't an ideal place for an office. He could sense the presence of the dementors, though the sense was somewhat muted, telling him there was quite a bit of distance between him and the nearest dementor. Not that he was worried about the effects at the moment.
It was obvious that whoever the warden was, didn't spend much time in here. However there was a small stack of papers on the desk, but it was on the wall beside the window that he found what he was looking for.
A blueprint of the entire prison with names attached to each room hung there.
"Well… I'll be damned… there is a map after all." Harry murmured to himself as he checked closely to make sure he had a pretty good idea of where Regulus was. Of course he was kept in the higher area of the prison. "High Security" was a bit of a misnomer since all of the cells were the same. High security just meant more dementor patrols which mean their effects were stronger. Almost all of the high profile and unrepentant death eaters seemed to be in that area. The Lestranges, Rookwood, and Nott were all in the same cluster.
He turned to the window and prepared to shift back into his phoenix form when a small chest at his feet caught his eye.
Curiosity getting the better of him, Harry took out his wand and cast several detection spells on the chest, before hitting it with a simple unlocking charm. The chest popped right open and Harry's eyes widened.
Inside the chest were a large pile of wands, including at least one he recognized. The crooked wand of Bellatrix was very distinctive, especially once one considered how many times he had seen this wand pointed at him. Each one had a little tag on a string wrapped around the handle. Rather than waste time sorting through the pile of wands, he cast another diagnostic for any tracking spells before he quickly pulled a pouch off his belt and summoned the whole lot, easily over 100 wands, probably closer to 200, right into the pouch that had been charmed to carry a large amount of things.
Harry chuckled a little bit, shutting the trunk and then casting a quick obscuring spell, one that would remove all traces of any spell signature they could pick up within a few minutes. He cursed himself for sloppiness before he belatedly cast a similar charm on himself, that would obscure anything he cast for the next 12 hours or so.
After one last glance around the office Harry shifted slowly back into his phoenix form. He consciously tried to make the shift happen more quickly, to no avail. It still took him over two minutes to shift into that form. However it didn't feel quite as much resistance to his body making the actual change as he did the first time, but it didn't make it feel any better or make it move any faster.
Once the change was complete he rested on the windowsill and then awkwardly turned around to pull the window shut. Harry was certain the theft would eventually be discovered, but there was no need for them to know how he got in.
Harry slowly took flight again and ascended around the large building in a spiral, an action that presented a bit more of a challenge because it had begun to rain steadily.
As he neared the uppermost level, Harry directed his flight toward a specific window. Of course the term window was a misnomer. It was a narrow square cut into the wall, without any glass whatsoever, it was not even wide enough for a person's head to pass through.
Harry landed on the small ledge, and peered inside. He could see a couple of lumps on the floor, but nothing that he would have described of as human sized or shaped. Once he confirmed he was in the right cell, with a bit of work Harry forced himself through the narrow opening.
Once inside Harry settled to the ground of the cell, and looked around the bare room. There was some straw and a small mat, underneath which there seemed to be a small huddled lump. Though Harry thought it was nowhere big enough to be a human. Still a glance at the tray nearby showed that someone had been here to eat the small amount of food served to the prisoners.
Harry shifted back into his human form with a grimace from the stretching and pulling sensation, once more, but he knew he would probably be sore tomorrow. However, he managed to keep quiet until he was fully human again, and had a wand safely in his hand. Once he did, he finally spoke "Regulus Black?"
There was a start from underneath the small mat and then Harry blinked in surprised when he saw a small canine head poke it's head out to regard him in what Harry could only describe as shock.
It took Harry several seconds to process before he chuckled a little bit, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You might as well come out and shift."
The canine seemed to still be regarding him in shock and it took almost a full minute to begin to shift.
Harry had just about been ready to hit him with a spell and drag him out. He was surprised as he saw the full animal form before it began to shift, he wasn't entirely sure but he thought it might be a fox. If a fox was filthy and mangy to the point of near unrecognizability with its matted hair and dark grimy fur.
When the transformation back to human was complete, Harry got another shock, as he found himself staring into a familiar face. There were very subtle differences, but Regulus looked so much like the Sirius from his world that Harry found himself staring a moment before finding his voice. "Impressive, using an animagus form so the dementors won't affect you as badly."
"Who are you and how did you get in here?" His voice halting and raspy, clearly from disuse. He regarded Harry suspiciously. Regulus was clearly wary of his visitor as he stayed backed into the corner.
Harry frowned and kept his distance as he regarded Regulus cautiously. "I'm a friend." He said, though Harry was aware that his tone probably inspired little confidence.
Regulus snorted, though it came out as more of a cough. "I don't have friends."
Harry met Regulus' grey eyes as he nodded in acknowledgement, "Okay, then let's say I'm a possible ally."
Regulus regarded him without changing expression. "You didn't answer either of my questions."
Harry frowned at Regulus' lack of response, then answered one of his questions cheekily "I came in through the window."
Regulus blinked and glanced up at the window, high enough up on the wall he'd have to jump to grip the bottom of the frame to pull himself up. Regulus turned his attention back to Harry rather than question the statement that seemed more than a little off, "You still haven't told me who you are and take off the hood so I can see your face."
Harry frowned a moment and then pulled the hood off of his head, with a quick tug. "I told you I'm a friend."
Regulus stared at Harry in surprise, "You're just a kid! How the hell did you even get here?" Clearly Harry's appearance had him repeating his question's at this sudden unexpected intrusion into his cell.
Harry blinked in surprise, he had briefly forgotten his current appearance, and a bit of irritation surfaced, "Right, because things are always as they seem in the magical world. And of course breaking into Azkaban is considered a great way to practice for your OWL practical."
Regulus narrowed his eyes, but he certainly couldn't argue that point, sarcastically delivered as it was. "Still doesn't tell me who you are."
Harry rolled his eyes, "My name is Harry. Not that that really tells you anything."
Regulus frowned a little bit, there was something a little familiar about the person in front of him, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Regulus did recognize that Harry was right, "Okay, then why are you here?"
Harry glanced at Regulus expression and decided to be honest. If worst came to worst Harry could always obliviate Regulus. He didn't like obliviation as a general rule, but had long ago come to terms with doing things he might be slightly averse to.
"I need some information." Harry said bluntly.
Regulus shook his head, "I'm not sure what sort of information I could possibly have for you. I haven't seen a paper for years, nor heard more than a few bits of conversation from occasional prison inspections from aurors."
Harry shook his head, "Not information like that." After nothing but silence met him as Regulus regarded him suspiciously, he decided to ask straight forward.
"I need information on this." Harry reached into his pocket with his free hand and pulled out the necklace that he and Nicholas had removed from the underground cavern.
Regulus stared at the necklace in Harry's hand, before he spoke stiffly, his expression far more wary now "How did you get that?"
Harry tilted his head, narrowing his eyes slightly, "From an underground cavern in the middle of a lake. You left it there. You are 'RAB,' correct?"
Regulus stared at Harry without response. His grey eyes boring into Harry's. Harry was about to say something when Regulus suddenly darted forward, clearly intending to attack Harry.
Regulus made it exactly three steps before he was petrified midstride, an expression of anger on his face.
Harry narrowed his eyes in anger at the assault. Regulus wouldn't have made it past the first step, but Harry's first cast had produced no result. When nothing happened Harry had instantly realized his mistake. There must have been at least a standard magic suppressing ward on the cell.
Probably an extra strong one, given the prison. A problem for most people, and given half an hour, Harry was sure he could have dismantled the ward.
Instead he went for the easy route and simply poured more magic into his subsequent cast, overpowering the strength of the ward.
Harry glared at the frozen Regulus in front of him, the only part of Regulus that was able to move was his eyes as he blinked in impotent fury.
"Okay, I wanted to do this the easy way. But you've given me no choice." Harry narrowed his eyes further as he met Regulus eyes. Without a word or a movement he dived into Regulus mind using using a legilimency probe.
Harry found himself in Regulus' mind and he pierced through a set of pitiful occlumency shields. Harry was certain that he likely had better mind protection before he'd ever heard of the wizarding world. And that was with a connection to a psychotic soul piece connected to his mind.
Harry could tell that Regulus was attempting to resist the probe of his mind but Harry barely felt the slightest push back. He had truthfully felt light breezes to be more forceful than any resistance than Regulus was able to muster.
Harry plunged through Regulus mind, nearly unimpeded as he began to search for relevant information. Harry frowned as he delved deeper into Regulus mind.
He searched for a memory of Regulus with the locket. He saw Regulus casting spells at the locket and getting frustrated. Harry could tell that Regulus was clearly trying to destroy the locket.
Harry frowned, as he continued looking through Regulus' memories.
Harry saw Regulus give the locket to Kreacher, with instructions to hide and only to come if he was summoned by Regulus himself, or asked directly by the head of the Black family. Then he told Kreacher that in event of Regulus dying he was to take it to Sirius with a letter.
Harry saw Regulus searching the Black library for ways to destroy the horcrux.
He saw Regulus' trial, where he didn't say anything in his defense, and had shown his dark mark almost defiantly.
Harry felt confusion. If Regulus was trying to destroy the Dark Lord, why would he go to Azkaban as a loyal follower? As if asking the question brought the answer out Harry found the answer and pulled out of Regulus mind sharply.
"You have got to be fucking kidding me." Harry half said, half demanded.
Regulus of course remained absolutely frozen, though there was pure rage in his expression.
Harry waved his wand, and with a push of his magic, released Regulus' head from it's frozen state. The rest of his body still remained petrified..
The moment Regulus could speak he snarled at Harry. "So you know the truth. Do your worst. The Dark Lord may have sent you to his dirty work, but you can tell him that his 'lifeline' is out of his grasp."
Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose, barely listening to Regulus diatribe, so his reply just brought confusion to Regulus. "I swear, the stupidity of wizards never ceases to amaze me. You'd think eventually they'd get to the point that they're incapable of shocking me with their sheer idiocy. But every time I think I've gotten to the very rock bottom… wizards pull out some shovels and some blasting curses and begin to dig." Harry sighed, "Well, they're consistent if nothing else."
Regulus frowned at Harry's description, the confusion was still on his face, though he attempted to keep his pride, as he replied. "You can kill me, but its not going to get your master his soul piece back."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Okay. Let's get a few things straight. First of all, I don't serve Voldemort. I intend to see him destroyed. That's why I'm here."
"How can I trust you?" Regulus demanded.
Harry visibly sighed, "And there's that wizarding stupidity again." He ran a hand over his face. "Let's review shall we? You're frozen and helpless. I can get any information I wanted at any point from your mind. Oh… and I haven't killed you."
Regulus couldn't say anything in reply to that statement.
"So in the interests of curing your particular case of wizard stupidity. Why don't we start with why you're here?" Harry half stated, half asked.
Regulus tilted his head, "You saw my memories. I know there was nothing I could do to stop you. What more do you want me to say?"
Harry frowned and gestured, "Well, how about the fact that you're here in Azkaban, despite the fact that you worked against Voldemort, had a trial, and had a chance to plead your case."
Regulus scowled, "What was I supposed to do? Spew out the Dark Lord's secret in full court? I wouldn't even have made it out of the courtroom."
"And you didn't try and tell anyone privately?" Harry demanded through narrowed eyes.
"Who was I supposed to tell? Dumbledore? He was half the reason I joined the Dark Lord in the first place." Regulus spat out.
Harry raised an eyebrow at that, that was one thing he hadn't heard before, "What do you mean?"
Regulus scowled, "I didn't agree with everything he did. But at least Voldemort was a force for change. Of course that was before he went completely round the twist…" Regulus trailed off.
Regulus seemed to refocus on Harry, "Dumbledore has his fingers in everything in the magical world. He has no respect for bloodlines or family traditions, yet he makes no true overtures to the liberals who want more rights for mudbloods. Because he doesn't want any change in our society. It threatens his view of this perfect world. He dumbs down education to the lowest common denominator. Merlin forbid someone explore something he doesn't approve of, throwing around the label 'dark arts'. If it's not approved by Albus bloody Dumbledore that automatically makes it evil. "
Harry ignored Regulus' casual slur, and instead snorted in a bit of amusement, and shook his head, "Fair point. I'm not exactly a card carrying member of the Dumbledore fanclub either, but surely you had other options."
Regulus frowned and challenged, "Like who? Name one person."
Harry tilted his head and frowned, "If memory serves you had a brother who wasn't a follower of the Dark Lord."
This time it was Regulus who snorted. "My brother… I don't think he worships the altar of Dumbledore, he's too contrary to do that. But he is friends with too many people who follow the old man like he was a god. Though he was my last failsafe for Kreacher. Besides, Dumbledore's followers had at least one traitor and probably more, so anything told to that group would instantly get back to Voldemort's followers."
Harry nodded slowly, "And your decision to go to Azkaban?"
Regulus looked around at the blocks of his cell, "You saw my occlumency barriers... or lack thereof. Anyone with even a modicum of skill in legilimency could pick that from my brain. That's why I killed the wizard that I did. He had picked out my thoughts. No one could know I turned traitor, especially not before I found a way to destroy the locket."
Harry frowned, and rolled his eyes. "You decided to hide in the hell that is Azkaban because you couldn't make decent occlumency shields? Wizards and their stupid plans."
Regulus frowned and sounded defensive, "You need someone to enter your mind to help you build those barriers. I couldn't trust anyone entering my mind once I discovered what the Dark Lord was up to and that I was going to stop him. At least not until i destroyed his foul creation."
"Why didn't you hit it with fiendfyre?" Harry asked curiously.
Regulus rolled his eyes, "That was one of the first things I tried. Nearly burnt down part of a forest trying. Somehow Voldemort made it resistant to fiendfyre, and that's the most powerful destructive spell I know of.."
Harry frowned and tilted his head, "Okay… that's new. Fiendfyre worked on his other ones…"
Regulus blinked in surprise, "What do you mean 'his other ones'? What other ones?"
Harry shook his head slightly, "What? A wizard as paranoid and arrogant as Voldemort, do you honestly think that he would be content with just one protection on his continued existence?"
Regulus sucked in a sharp breath, "He made more than one? Merlin…"
"I know of at least two others that he's made. Though one has already been destroyed." Harry replied honestly.
Regulus looked up sharply, "Destroyed?! How?" The expression on Regulus face was almost desperate. It was clear that this answer, above all, was one that he needed to know.
Harry nodded, "Basilisk venom."
Regulus frowned, "I… never thought of that. Of course basilisks are so rare that getting venom is a nearly impossible task."
Harry chuckled softly, "I am fairly certain I can get my hands on some."
Regulus frowned a little, and seemed to ponder his words before he blurted out, "Are those the only reasons you've broken into Azkaban? To mind-rape me and find out why I allowed myself to be captured?"
"Keep it up and I'm not going to get you out of here." Harry replied with a note of annoyance in his voice, though he couldn't blame Regulus for the anger. He didn't like violating a person's mind in such depth, and he had done it so casually.
Regulus scowled, "I'm in here for a reason."
"A bloody stupid reason." Harry shot back. "You've got access to one of the Dark Lord's horcruxes, and I don't feel like going after Sirius and forcing him call Kreacher for it. We'll get it and destroy it."
"Oh and what happens after you take me out of here? They start a giant manhunt. My cousin is the only one to ever escape Azkaban and I have no idea how she did it. The aurors questioned me about it. One day she blew apart the wall between her and the ocean." Regulus replied.
Harry nodded, "You go into hiding where no one can find you."
"Where am I going to hide that is warded strongly enough to prevent all forms of tracking? And that I won't be turned in as a fugitive?" Regulus demanded.
Harry grinned, "That I've already thought of. We're going to hide you somewhere they'll never be able to find you."
"Not that I want to stay here, this place is a hell hole after all. But how can you be sure that they won't be able to find me?" Regulus asked cautiously.
Harry chuckled softly but his voice held an edge, "I know somewhere to take you that right now only two, maybe three people can get into, and I intend to restrict that to one person very shortly."
Regulus shook his head slowly, "While that might seem like an excellent solution… my dark mark has been darkening slowly for the past few months. If the Dark Lord manages to return, I can still be summoned through all but the very strongest of wards, wards like the ones Azkaban has. He will definitely do so if I don't go to his side."
Harry shook his head, "What I have in mind is under some of the safest wards imaginable. More powerful than even Azkaban's wards. And besides, if he comes back, you know assaulting Azkaban will be near the top of his priority list, so it's not like you're safe here." Harry resisted the urge to rub his temples, how many people would argue to stay in this hell on earth.
Regulus nodded slowly, as he considered Harry's words. "If you can do that, and help me destroy that locket, I will be in your debt. Though… I'd appreciate it if you could unpetrify me first."
Harry nodded and with a wave of his wand, unfroze the rest of Regulus body, which fell to the ground in a heap. "Now… to get you out of here." Harry stepped forward to help Regulus to his feet.
He was preparing to flame them both out of there. Harry knew he could probably overpower the anti-apparition wards around the prison, though there were more powerful than the ones at the world cup, by a level of magnitude. But Harry thought if he did that, the ward might take a bit to come back to full power, and other convicts could apparate out.
He was just about to gather his concentration to flame, and was considering the outcry that would occur when another convict escaped from Azkaban as an idea struck him. He immediately tried to discard it, but couldn't help the small grin that crossed his face as the idea refused to go away.
He turned to the door of the cell and cast several diagnostics on it, to figure out exactly what wards were on the door. He frowned, the wards would take quite a bit to take down completely. Of course any above average wizard with a wand could probably blow the door out, but that would ruin his newly conceived plan.
"I could just get you right out of here with no muss and fuss… but how would you like to cause some old… friends of yours some trouble?" The grin that crossed Harry's face was almost maniacal.
Regulus frowned speculatively, the look on Harry's face making him cautious, but he slowly nodded his head before Harry began to explain what he wanted.
Gregor Hamish was serving five years in Azkaban because of a crime he stupidly committed shortly after exiting school. He was lucky, if one could be called that, to be imprisoned in one of the lower levels of the fortress prison. The lack of a continued Dementor presence meant that he had kept his mind relatively intact during his stay, for which he was through three years of his five year sentence. He knew it could be worse except for the extreme boredom that encompassed his day to day life.
On this particular night, Gregor woke up from a restless sleep, to hear raised and excited voices coming from the hallway that led past his cells.
He opened his eyes and peered through the cell bars, and saw a pale man with a scraggly unkempt hair and beard, being led by Minister Cornelius Fudge of all people. Green bowler hat and all. Though oddly the Minister didn't have any other of his retinue that he brought for his yearly visits.
"I cannot thank you enough for this, Minister!" the dark haired man was practically shouting so every person in the cell block could hear.
"Oh, nonsense m'boy." the Minister responded in an irritating nasally voice. He practically strutted through the hallway with a wide smile on his face.
How such a man could achieve a position of power was beyond Gregor's knowledge.
"Who is responsible for this?" asked the unknown man.
The minister coughed, and it was easy to see he was uncomfortable with the question., "Ah. Yes well you see... My good friend Lucius was concerned about the cousin of his wife. He paid quite well for me to get you out of this place! He was most insistent. Of course, Lucius Malfoy is a very good friend, I am only too happy to help!"
The Minister paused and then chuckled "He paid me good galleons like he always does when he wants me to get something done for him. He knows the value of friends in high places!" Fudge continued arrogantly.
"It's amazing how simple it is for a man in my position to get things done." he paused slightly and looked abashed and tacked on somewhat lamely, "Of course you are innocent of the crimes we convicted you of!"
"I'll have to be sure to thank Malfoy in person very soon. Perhaps a visit to his manor is in order," the prisoner chuckled, his voice filled with amusement.
Gregor and several other prisoners in the low security cells all watched in shock, and no small amount of jealousy as Fudge essentially admitted to taking a bribe from Lucius Malfoy to set whoever that man was free.
Two days later, when the escape of Regulus Black was reported, nearly every prisoner in the section gleefully told the investigating Auror teams exactly what they had heard as the duo walked by their cells. That they were eager to do so under veritaserum only made things better.
Once they got out of earshot of the cells and passed toward the warden's office. Harry, glamoured to look like Cornelius Fudge, whispered, "That was brilliant."
Regulus gave Harry a smile, though it was a tired one. Even walking and keeping up an excited energetic front for such a short period of time had left him hovering on the verge of collapse.
When Harry entered the warden's office, he felt it start to get colder, signalling the presence of a dementor in the close vicinity. He felt Regulus tremble beside him. The man was clearly exhausted, and in horrible physical shape. The effects of dementors didn't help Regulus at all.
Taking a breath, Harry gripped Regulus shoulder and flamed the both of them to the outcropping of rocks he had left Draco hiding at.
Draco jumped slightly when he saw the flames and then gasped when he saw Cornelius Fudge and a scraggly man who was being supported by Fudge to keep from collapsing.
"What the hell?" Draco exclaimed in shock his wand pointing at the new arrivals cautiously.
Regulus fell to his knees next to Harry. "That… actually wasn't a horrible way to travel." he muttered half in disbelief and half in wonder.
"Huh?" Harry blinked at the caution in Draco's voice before he realized what the issue was. With a wave of his wand he dispelled the glamour on himself.
"Malfoy, it's me, you twit," growled Harry. "Were you expecting someone else?" Harry was bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees to catch his breath.
Harry had his eyes closed for a few moments while he shook off the drained feeling. Flaming from one place to another with someone else in tow was tiring. Far more than apparition. Flaming himself wasn't a problem. That wasn't a significant drain on him. However he had now flame transported Regulus twice, in a short span of time. Once from inside the cell to just outside the lower security area, and once from the warden's office to here.
"No, I just didn't expect to have Minister Fudge pop out of nowhere." Draco responded dryly, moving forward to help Harry who quickly waved him off.
Regulus was frowning as he looked up at Draco's form, his eyes suspicious, though he couldn't see Draco's face because of the cloak. "Malfoy?! Lucius Malfoy? You said you were an enemy of the Dark Lord! Malfoy's practically has the title of 'chief bootlicker' for Voldemort!"
Draco shook his head, and after a gesture from Harry took the hood off of his face. "Not Lucius. That's my father. I'm Draco Malfoy. And we don't serve the Dark Lord."
Regulus scowled as he looked up at Draco's revealed face, once more surprised at the youth, "How can I trust you? Even if your lackey got me out of Azkaban?"
Draco coughed and looked surprised at the lackey comment but it was Harry who replied as he stood up. "Well, like I said, we could have just killed you instead of getting you out. But if it will make you feel better…" Harry held his wand out, "I swear on my magic my goal is to kill Voldemort once and for all."
There were a small surge of light that gathered around Harry. Then he cast a quick charm above their heads to keep the drizzle of water that had just began to come down off of them.
Regulus looked mollified by Harry's use of the oath, as he stopped cringing away from the two of them.
Draco spoke up, "And he's not my lackey."
Harry snorted, "Damn straight. Malfoy is my lackey." Draco looked affronted at this and opened his mouth to comment but Harry continued blithely.
"Anyway, down to business," said Harry. "First thing is first. Regulus, can you please call Kreacher here?"
Regulus nodded after a moment's hesitation and another glance at Malfoy. Harry could still see there was some distrust there, but for better or worse, he was now committed to this path. "Kreacher?"
There was a few seconds pause and then with a small snap the familiar elderly curmudgeon of an elf appeared, a puzzled expression on his face until his eyes fell on Regulus and his eyes morphed into surprise "Master Regulus?!"
Instantly, Kreacher moved forward to grip the ragged and threadbare cloth covering Regulus' shoulder, as if confirming it was really him. "Master! Master! You've summoned Kreacher!"
Harry could honestly say he had never seen the thing look any happier. Actually, it was rather eerie how much Kreacher reminded Harry of Dobby of his old world and Dobby's attitude toward Harry.
Harry was happy to see that, however jaded Regulus was, he leaned forward and hugged the filthy old Elf who was literally bouncing on his toes. "It's good to see you, Kreacher."
Kreacher returned the hug still bouncing with excitement. "Kreacher was so worried for Master Regulus! Beings locked inside nasty prison! Kreacher could not even bring Master food! Master is free? Master is… okay?" Kreacher suddenly looked at both Harry and Draco suspiciously as if they might attack Regulus at any moment.
Regulus shook his head, drawing Kreacher's attention back to him. "I am out of prison, they helped me. Do you still have the necklace? Is it secret? Is it safe?" Regulus' voice took on a note of concern and urgency.
The house elf nodded enthusiastically, of course that meant his entire body bobbed up and down with the movement. "Yes, Yes. Kreacher has done as Master Regulus asks! Kreacher protected it from everyone. Kreacher not talk to anyone about it. The 'Mistake' never asks for Kreacher at all."
"The 'Mistake'?" Harry couldn't stop himself from asking.
Regulus looked half amused, and half abashed, "That's what my mother referred to my older brother as after he was sorted into Gryffindor. Kreacher took a liking to the name."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "Based on what I know of your mother, I am unsurprised. Though I'm certain Kreacher would have stopped using it if you asked him to."
Regulus shrugged with an innocent expression, "Keeps slipping my mind." He replied blandly, though the effect was lost somewhat as he swayed slightly with exhaustion.
Harry smirked and shook his head. Sirius had never told Harry much about his brother, beyond a similarity in looks, which Harry could see Sirius had massively underplayed. He had mentioned that Regulus adhered to his family's belief in blood purity and traditions, and been a follower of Voldemort. He had never mentioned his brother having an animagus form, nor a sense of humor that was eerily similar.
Harry wondered if that was an effect of Azkaban, or if Sirius just wanted to distance himself from anything related to his family. Harry shook his head of those thoughts and then cleared his throat with a glance at Kreacher.
Regulus took his cue and nodded slightly. "Kreacher, please bring the locket here. My friend here is going to destroy it along with other things like it for me."
Before he popped away, Kreacher gave an inscrutable glance at Harry, then he vanished silently with a snap of his fingers. Seconds later, the Elf returned, with the all too familiar heavy gold locket with a serpentine S done in emeralds.
Harry waved a wand over it, tossing a quick diagnostic spell at the locket, though he could practically feel it's darkness without touching it. When the locket gleamed black for a moment Harry knew it was the right one. He held out his hand, though Kreacher didn't drop it in right away, instead looking to Regulus.
Regulus spoke quietly, "Please give it to him, Kreacher. He'll take care of it."
Kreacher handed the Horcrux to Harry, and Harry felt a shiver go up his spine. He could immediately feel the presence of the vile thing bound to the ancient piece of jewelry. He was far more sensitive to magic now, something that had come as he aged, and it wasn't difficult at all to sense something as putrid as this.
Harry nodded to himself and then conjured a small box to drop the locket into, snapping it shut and then sealing it with a spell.
Regulus watched the process with a bit of wariness in his expression. "What are you doing with it?"
Harry glanced down at the box in his hand. "I'm going to hide this in a secure location. The same place I've got another of these foul things hidden."
"Why not destroy it now?" Regulus asked with his eyes narrowed suspiciously.
Harry shook his head, "Part of the Voldemort's soul is in these items. If they are destroyed any one of the destructions could alert the him that his failsafes are being destroyed. I don't want to tip my hand sooner than I have to. The faster he knows, the faster he can react to what I'm doing."
"The other item you have… you know it's secure?" Regulus asked.
Harry nodded, "He won't begin to know where to look. I promise. I just want to keep it hidden while I try and figure out where the others are."
Regulus nodded reluctantly and took a deep breath, somewhat shakily "What noww?" his words dragging out a little bit, as he blinked a bit struggling to stay conscious.
Harry frowned and gave Regulus an appraising once-over. "Now we get you to a safe place."
Harry had intended to apparate the two of them back to the edge of Hogwarts. But it had become increasingly clear that Regulus was extremely weak from his time in captivity. Now that the adrenaline was off, he looked like he was going to pass out at any moment. Harry made a decision quickly.
"Draco, I don't want them able to trace apparition from anywhere in this area directly back to Hogwarts. Can you apparate half a dozen times to different places before you go back?" Harry asked.
Draco frowned and then nodded, "I can do that."
Harry hesitated and then grinned slightly, "If you can apparate near your home but outside your wards so you don't trip them as your first stop that would be even better."
Draco had a confused expression cross his face before an expression of understanding followed. "If they do manage to trace an apparition residue so far ahead, that might cause my father some trouble."
Harry chuckled a little bit, "Even more if they interview the prisoners." Seeing Draco's confused expression Harry waved him off. "I'll explain later. Get to the entrance to the secret passage we used. I'm going to secure this, and then meet you there with Regulus."
Draco nodded and was about to leave when Regulus interrupted.
"Hogwarts? You're going to Hogwarts? Are you crazy? You break me out of Azkaban and expect me to ssurvive anywhere close to Dummledore?" Regulus demanded.
Harry frowned a little bit, Regulus was starting to slur his words more as he spoke, a sure sign of exhaustion. Harry nodded a little bit, "I promise we'll have you hidden in a place that Dumbledore can't get."
"Noo, I won't let you take me to him" Regulus was slurring his words more now and his eyes were becoming unfocused, a few seconds later he collapsed to the ground unconscious.
"Master!" Kreacher called shaking Regulus' insensate form frantically.
Harry kneeled down, waving his wand over Regulus casting a quick diagnostic before speaking soothingly, "It's okay Kreacher. He's exhausted and worn down from his time in prison. He needs a long rest. We're going to take him some place he'll be safe."
"Kreacher go with Master?" The elf half asked, half demanded.
Harry tilted his head considering "You can go with Regulus if you swear not to contact anyone but myself and Master Regulus until we have Master Regulus better and I say it's okay."
Kreacher nodded quickly in agreement, "Kreacher won't contact anyone! Master Regulus tells him not to years ago and he didn't!" The elf stated proudly before turning back to his master.
Harry looked around once more for any sign of danger or activity on the rocky outcrop of the shore, once he was satisfied that there was nothing he turned to Draco "Okay, I'm going to take this back. Draco go ahead and apparate back. Kreacher, you stay with Regulus. If anyone comes you take him somewhere safe and then come find me. Otherwise just stand guard."
Kreacher nodded emphatically, while Draco cast a frown at him, before Draco shrugged and turned, disappearing with a soft crack.
Harry sighed, hoping Draco remembered to disillusion himself when he got back to Hogwarts, and then disappeared in a flash of flame.
Harry reappeared in the foyer of the Flamel's house.
A few seconds later, Nicholas poked his head out of the study. He had been up doing some reading and was alerted when Harry flamed politely into the entrance way of the house. He grinned as he greeted Harry politely. "Harry, welcome back. I wondered if we might see you tonight."
Harry nodded and held up the box he had conjured. "I broke into Azkaban and got what I was looking for."
Perenelle chose that moment to join them. "What did you do with the prisoner?" she asked curiously.
"At the moment?" Harry asked. "He's on one of the cliffs about five miles from the prison and overlooking the Auror transport station for the ferry that takes the prisoners to and from Azkaban."
Perenelle rolled her eyes at the avoidance of the question, "And? Where will the boy be taken next?"
Harry chuckled a little bit at Perenelle's habit of calling nearly everyone besides Harry himself "boy". She had taken Harry's demand of Nicholas to heart and had never slipped in calling Harry that, and Nicholas had only done so once or twice. "The only place which I can keep him close and keep him perfectly safe. Hogwarts."
She raised her eyebrows, "How are you going to do that with Dumbledore there?"
Harry smirked a little bit "The Chamber of Secrets."
Her eyes widened at that statement and then narrowed in thought as she considered it. She sat down in a nearby chair, and leaned back, completely lost in thought, "You must be cautious. Have you studied the wards in the Chamber?"
Harry nodded a little bit, "Yes but only preliminary. The wards in the Chamber are not part of Hogwarts' wards. They operate completely independently of the rest of the wards. The Headmaster tacked on some alert wards to the bathroom entrance. I moved them to a window."
Perenelle nodded, "That's a good step... but there's no telling what truly is down there."
Harry snorted and nodded, "Yeah we discovered that today."
Nicholas made his way over to the seat next to Perenelle as she sat forward at that statement, "What do you mean?"
Harry frowned, "I wanted to examine the Chamber, and discovered that Iris apparently did kill the basilisk there. It's there and very dead. So is another one. A very alive and apparently very young one."
Nicholas frowned, "Did you kill it?"
Harry shook his head, and actually look abashed for a moment, running a hand through his hair. "Uh… no. It sorta… thinks I'm its mother."
There was silence for several seconds before Nicholas started to chuckle, a chuckle that turned into a full blown laugh.
Harry huffed in faux irritation, "Go ahead, laugh it up. You try explaining to a 10 foot long baby snake that your name isn't 'Mommy' and that he can't eat people."
Nicholas just laughed harder, and even Perenelle was laughing at the mental image, though she calmed herself first. "It didn't try and attack you?"
Harry shook his head, "It said that I smell like a snake."
Perenelle frowned a little bit and then nodded slowly, as she considered it "Probably the venom in your body. It didn't kill you but it's saturated your body. So I'm unsurprised that snakes think so. I admit I can't say I'm exactly surprised that Salazar left some safety precautions in his little hideaway."
Harry nodded a little bit and then looked thoughtful, "You know, that reminds me. I need to talk to you about what happened with the Sorting Hat. But I don't want to leave Regulus there alone too long. I have to flame him to Hogwarts and get him in the Chamber."
Pernelle frowned and then nodded, "Okay, just remember. I don't know what kind of wards or anything else is down there. Nicholas and I were never able to find Salazar's chamber. He probably got a kick out of it. He was very noble when it came to honor and history has treated him far worse than he deserved, but he had a streak of mischievousness in him. Possibly bigger than my husbands, only it was...a somewhat… perverted sense of humor. Who knows what that pervert probably had hidden under the castle. I always thought the 'Chamber of Secrets' was probably a bad name for a brothel anyways."
Harry resisted the urge to laugh at her casual appraisal of historical figures, and prepared to leave, when Perenelle caught his attention with a final comment. "Just be careful. I never explored the Chamber so I don't know anything about the wards, anything that might alert the Headmaster if it's put to extended use, though I confess I doubt it, Salazar probably meant it to be an absolute secret and he was one of my best ward students. So just be cautious."
"And you can't just leave the boy down there with a week's worth of meals and forget about him in between," added Nicholas. "You do have plans for amenities, and things to keep him entertained with, yes?"
Harry frowned. "Probably to get him healthy and caught up on current events first. Then we'll go from there. I figure the fallout when they realize he's gone will make sure that we have to keep our heads down. Though…" Harry paused and grinned at Nicholas, "I think you'll enjoy it."
Nicholas frowned, "What do you mean?"
Harry just smirked and pointed at the conjured box he placed on the end table. "Put that with the goblet would you?" Before he disappeared in a flash of flame.
Harry flamed back to the outcropping of rock and found Regulus right where he had left them. Harry crouched down over the still unconscious Regulus. He turned to Kreacher who hadn't moved away from his master. "Kreacher, can you get to Draco at Hogwarts?"
Kreacher scowled and glanced at Regulus and then nodded. "Kreacher can get to Hogwarts."
Harry nodded, "Go on then, I'll join you with Regulus shortly." Kreacher gave one more look at Regulus and then glared at Harry for a moment, a glare that dissolved into a puzzled frown before he disappeared with a soft snap.
Harry had been tempted to apparate or have the elf teleport Regulus to Hogwarts. But given the shape he was in, Harry felt that Regulus might be hurt when they tried to travel that way, neither was a particularly gentle way to travel.
Flame travel was far more comfortable but when Harry traveled with someone it was far more taxing. It wasn't magically exhausting, but it was physically draining. When he was by himself, it was as easy as breathing, he could flame pretty much non-stop. However, when someone else weighed him down, Harry emerged feeling like he'd run a marathon. Harry was already winded and knew this would probably exhaust him but didn't see a way around it.
For just a moment he was tempted to enervate Regulus and get him to change to his animagus form. Harry paused a moment and snorted at that internally. For as much as the Sirius Harry remembered seemed to dismiss his brother, Harry couldn't help but be amused at some of the very stark and striking similarities between the two.
Harry took out his wand and disillusioned Regulus with a quick wave of his wand. Another odd quirk of flame travel they had discovered through trial and error. While Flame travel didn't dispel glamours, it did cancel out the effect of a disillusion spell on the person who flamed, but not on anyone else. Yet more quirks that he had always wondered about but never got around to trying to figure out.
Then Harry stunned him for good measure, so that he wouldn't wake up and panic and cause problems. Harry leaned down and awkwardly picked Regulus up. He tried holding Regulus bridal style, and couldn't balance the older man, and ended up dropping him twice.
Harry would have transfigured Regulus into a small animal to make the trip easier on himself, but given Regulus' state, Harry wasn't excited about the idea of inflicting that sort of change on Regulus' weakened body.
Thankful for the foresight to stun Regulus, Harry finally just tossed Regulus over his shoulder, thankful that Regulus didn't weigh much after a long stay in Azkaban. After one last look around, ensuring that they hadn't left anything behind, Harry disappeared in flame once more.
Harry appeared in flame at the edge of the wall of Hogwarts. He immediately staggered forward and caught the nearest tree to keep himself from falling over gasping for deep breaths of air. Harry's vision swam for a minute and Harry thought he might lose consciousness completely. His entire body felt like he had gone a dozen rounds with a bludger.
Harry had been tempted to try and flame right into the chamber, but given how many times he had flamed with Regulus this evening, he didn't want to tempt fate and risk ending up half lodged in a wall, especially when he hadn't had a chance to examine all the wards of that place..
He managed to focus long enough to look up and see that he had reappeared close to their initial departure point. Just at the edge of the forest between the lake and the castle. Harry began to stagger toward the secret entrance. The dark of the night would keep him relatively safe and at the moment the only battle Harry was capable of fighting was the one to retain consciousness.
Harry did his best to keep upright and keep from tripping on random roots as he walked along the edge of the forest. He kept moving as dark spots fought for dominance in his vision.
In his hurry, he was completely unaware that he was now being followed as he carried the invisible weight of Regulus along the edge of the forest. Harry was more concerned with getting to the secret passage and not passing out from exhaustion.
He finally arrived at the entrance and, before he said anything, the passage opened up. Draco poked his head out and saw Harry. "Where's Black?" Draco quietly demanded, looking puzzled.
"Disillusioned," Harry muttered in reply as he shifted his shoulder slightly for emphasis as he stumbled forward.
Harry didn't think he would ever be grateful to see Draco in his entire life. But for the briefest of moments he was as he staggered into the passage.
Draco didn't say anything but quickly shut the passage behind Harry. Harry's entire body was drenched with sweat and his eyes were glassy and unfocused as he still breathed deeply, as if he had just played a particularly exhausting game of quidditch.
"Kreacher…" Harry stated after Draco had shut the door, his own voice sounding empty and vacant to his own ears.
"Kreacher here! Master is okay?" Kreacher demanded insistently.
"Yes. Catch us." Harry said as he finally lost the battle to remain conscious. His eyes rolled up in his head and he toppled forward.
Fleur walked back toward the entrance gates, completely lost in thought. She had gone for a walk in the evening, along the edge of the lake. She felt unsettled and waved off offers from Aimee to join her on her walk. She had also managed to avoid one of her classmates who was one of her more stubborn suitors. It was late enough that Madame Maxine had raised her eyebrows when Fleur had departed the carriage, though the she had ultimately held her tongue.
Madame Maxine was relatively relaxed with her older students about their comings and goings. Beauxbatons trusted them to know when to come and go, and when to go to bed. Those privileges worked on an individual basis. If someone abused them by going out and then made a habit of missing class or their work suffered, or they got into trouble, then they lost those privileges.
Fleur had spent the time since she had departed the carriage circling the lake. Her mind had been unsettled ever since the World Cup. The physical effects from the cruciatus exposure were no longer present, but the mental after effects were still very much affected her. Fleur vividly remembered the agony of the curse as it coursed through her body.
The only thing that Fleur was relieved by was the fact that her little sister hadn't been on the receiving end of the spell. Gabrielle was still upset by what she had witnessed while Fleur had protected her. Her younger sister was plagued with worries for Fleur's health and safety, and now almost compulsively checked up on Fleur regularly.
Another downside of their mutual experience was that Gabrielle had been plagued by nightmares every night for the past week. Fortunately, she had actually slept through the night for the first time two evenings prior. However, Fleur suspected that was from sheer exhaustion on her sister's part.
Fleur and her mother were both keeping an eye on the young girl and took turns comforting her when she woke up from the nightmares. Fleur had not admitted that she had her own problems with sleeping and nightmares, though they were getting better.
Her mother had been supportive and let Fleur know that she was around if Fleur needed, but gave her daughter the respect to sort out her own feelings and thoughts.
However, it was more than the nightmares that bothered her. She had been utterly at the mercy of the Death Eaters who tortured her for sheer amusement. Fleur hated that fact. If not for the surprising intervention of the extremely powerful stranger, then Fleur was certain she and her sister would have been raped and left for dead.
Fleur huffed in irritation. Once more her thoughts had turned to the events of that night and the stranger with eyes of green fire. Focusing on him helped alleviate the fear and inadequacy that often boiled up within her when memories of that night began to overwhelm her. She couldn't get the sense of his magic out of her mind. Nor could she shake the feeling that whoever it was had been close by recently.
Fleur was pulled from her thoughts by the distinctive "crack" of an an apparition nearby. Her hyper-vigilant state had her pulling her waned into her hand and moving to the nearest bit of cover, which was a tree along the edge of the water and forest.
She searched for the sound and frowned as she saw the arrogant blond that she had encountered earlier in the day. He had appeared ahead in the forest and was looking side to side furtively before he moved toward the gate of Hogwarts.
Fleur frowned, wondering if he had snuck out of the grounds without permission. He certainly seemed to be in a hurry. Acting on her curiosity, Fleur followed him toward the school, she kept close to the edge of the forest and watched. She was puzzled as she saw him avoid the main gates to the Hogwart's grounds and instead move to the side of the castle wall. Her eyes widened as he cast a spell on the wall, and the stones seemed to separate from the wall, opening.
Fleur frowned, though she made no move to get closer. She continued to look around, and only chanced to look in the direction of the Forbidden Forest when, at the very edge of the ominous trees, she saw a burst of flames. Fleur's eyes widened in shock as she saw a dark haired figured stumble forward into a tree.
The dark haired figure braced himself against the tree before he began to stagger toward the same direction the blonde had taken. Fleur watched with wide eyes as the figure stumbled and staggered toward the wall where the blond had gone. Twice, Fleur was tempted to call out and ask if the figure needed helped. He was moving, and he seemed injured. He turned his head at one point and Fleur got a look at a profile of his face.
On one hand, seeing his face was a shock to Fleur and her jaw dropped even as she instinctively shrunk a bit into the shadows. On the other, after seeing the blond from earlier, she was slightly less surprised by his companion.
Fleur continued to watch with wide eyes as the arrogant blonde poked his head and half pulled Ares into the passage. Fleur shrank back behind a tree when Draco looked around the area before the passage shut and seemed to seal against the wall.
Fleur could only stand and stare at the now blank wall from her hiding space within the trees.
She could do nothing but stare as her mind burst with a sudden cascade of understanding.
Ares Flamel. He had just appeared in a burst of flame. Something her father thought might be an illusion while a ministry charmed port-key whisked him away. But she had just seen him appear in fire.
She reviewed her memory deliberately as some of the pieces fell into place. She still didn't have the complete picture. But she knew one thing.
Somehow, Ares Flamel had been the one who saved her at the World Cup.
It was no wonder they hadn't been able to find him. They were looking for an older, experienced wizard. Her father had guessed that the wizard had to have been at least forty given his combination of spell control, power and obvious experience. Her father was splitting his time using any and all of his connections to scour the globe for any reports of anyone skilled enough to have been the one who had saved her and her sister. At the same time he was fighting an impossible battle to try and figure out the identities of all of the attackers that night.
He was meeting with no success in the search for the one who saved them, and middling success on suspects of people who might be involved. Not that the British Ministry was willing to touch them anyway.
Someone who was young enough to be in school hadn't even entered into any sort of consideration because there were almost no prodigies with the sort of power displayed, but absolutely none with the power, control and experience.
And yet despite his youth, Fleur guessed he was possibly even a little younger than herself, Fleur was certain she had just discovered his identity.
He had saved her, and then had talked to her that very morning. She knew to have irrefutable proof she'd have to get close to him when he was using his magic again to be sure that his presence was the one she had felt at the world cup. But as she recalled that morning another thought struck her.
"Miss Delacour." That is what he had called her that morning. Her friend hadn't supplied her last name, but Fleur hadn't spared a thought for the young man knowing her last name. She had made an entrance the night before with her school and it was entirely possible that a student had heard her name or had asked around.
No, it was the way he said her name. An odd combination of respect and concern. And as she tried to examine and reconcile the two memories, Fleur was relatively sure that the voices were the same. Confident, reassuring, caring and resolute all rolled into one. But even as she felt that some pieces were falling into place, in some ways it seemed to confuse the larger picture.
How did he already know her name at the Quidditch World Cup? The Flamels haven't been public figures in a social or political manner since before either of her parents were born. She was sure that this morning was the first time she had ever spoken to Ares Flamel. How did Ares even know who she was at the World Cup?
Her eyes narrowed slowly as she stared at the still blank wall. She had spoken to him that very morning. He had completely ignored the power of her allure. Something that still left her stunned. What was more is that he had spoken to her as he might any stranger or very mild acquaintance, almost as if the act of saving her life was nothing.
That it meant nothing.
Fleur scowled. She needed time to process her thoughts and see the whole picture, but she was certain of one thing. No one was allowed to dismiss her as nothing.
*coughs from the Director's chair* So, I do apologize for breaking my promise. We haven't quite cast some of the adult roles in this. We do however have two castings to announce.
Regulus Black will be played by... Gary Oldman. Yes... yes I know He plays Sirius. He is going to play that role as well. Well given the remarkable similarities I've described, he fits both roles. A little blue screen technology and it'll be fine. If Lindsay Lohan can pull it off (before she went insane) an actor of Oldman's caliber can.
Professor Binns will be played by Ben Stein. Not that he'll have a major role. Or may not even appear at all. But I can totally picture him. Dry and droning voice.
"Bueller... Bueller... Bueller".
"Flamel... Flamel... Flamel..."
1) For those of you about to jump on me about a slow moving story. Save yourself the time and don't. Same with those of you who are going to complain about Draco's presence. To you.. I just say enjoy his subtle abuse and stop whining.
2) I write SLOW stories. It's the way it works because i like exploring people's minds and emotions. It's part of why I enjoy it. In my other story it took 20 chapters before the main romance actually had a conversation of any sort. So. yes I probably repeat myself and pound character development into the ground. Don't like it? Too bad. write your own damn story! O_O
3) You got to see some Daphne this chapter. Yes I went a bit fanon with her. Get over it. (Are you seeing a theme here?)
4) BIG HUGE thanks go out to two people for this chapter.
Plums- Who has agreed to co-author this with me. And who is responsible for alot of the movement in this chapter. (Trust me i was going alot slower before he prodded me.) He also helped me structure the story, not to mention wrote part of sections, and rewrote other sections.
Normally he'd get his own author's notes. But I asked him for some and I got some conversations about his love for turtles, nothing, and foursomes... or threesomes in trucks. It was a little hard to tell. But he meant well. And was freaking awesome.
Formulaic- For helping me at little bumps in the road with writing, as well as directing thoughts and ideas when I was writing blocked.
Both of them deserve an award for patience in dealing with me in general!
5) Because of final papers and such i was a bit crazy X_X this end of semester, (two 25-30 page papers, plus presentations to go with them, on top of another 10 page paper and poster presentation) so i've not even looked at all the suggestions for pairings or actors. so don't feel bad if I haven't said anything to you.
Please read and review as always!
Last Updated 10/10/14