Harry Potter and the Pure-Blooded Phantasm
Following a summer interning at the Office of the Aurors, James Potter has decided to start to take his life more seriously. He accepts the position of Head Boy at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he sets his sights on the Head Girl, an elusive and intelligent student.
However, everything is not candy and rainbows. Dark forces are stirring, and it appears that the world will once again be relying on Harry Potter to save the day; will our lovable Head of the Aurors be up to the task?
Yes, this fic will share some scenes with my first one. That's because this story is a more organized collection of many of the ideas that made "The Tournament and the Phoenix" what it was when I started writing last summer. Any recurring content has been completely rewritten; I tend to think it's going to be a bit better this time around, but I'll let you be the judge of that. Many of the characters from TTatP will be a lot different that they were before, mostly because I want to try to develop them throughout the course of this story. Lastly, I should mention that this fic will be slighty darker than TTatP; the bad guys are a lot less talk and a lot more action, and as a result of that Harry is receiving an equal share of the PoV. It is his job to catch them, after all.
I'll try to update this as often as I can, which still won't be as often as I would like; at this point, I'm hoping that you'll see posts from me every few weeks or so. So, without further adieu, I present to you the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Pure-Blooded Phantasm!
As always, I'm totally not JKR. Cheers!
Chapter One: The Portrait of Draco Malfoy
A sharp, harsh crack echoed down a narrow, moonlit lane. Seemingly out of nowhere, a man appeared; he was alone, and despite the fact that he was fairly short and extremely thin, he still managed to cut a rather intimidating figure. Straightening himself up, he calmly brushed a bit of dust off of his shoulder, and he then began to make his way down the stone path upon which he had so suddenly appeared. His elegant black robes billowed behind him and his boots clacked in a fast but steady rhythm as he began to move further down the lane. A soft breeze rustled the leaves on several nearby, overhanging trees, and the man quickened his pace down the eerily empty path; his eyes flickered back and forth cautiously as he made his way down the road.
This particular lane was bordered on the left by a wild, untamed field of brambles; on the right, a similarly wild set of tall hedges reached toward the dark night sky. The man continued to move methodically down this path until he eventually turned to his right and moved down a wide driveway. The high hedges continued down this driveway, which was flanked by very impressive wrought-iron gates. The man stopped at these gates, as though he were waiting for something; after several long moments, the gates gave a loud and protesting creak, and then they swung open seemingly on their own accord. The man purposefully moved through them, the breeze once again blowing through the hedges, this time messing up the man’s impeccably groomed black hair. As he made to smooth his hair back down into its normal style, a gentle pulse passed over the man; he had just passed through the first set of wards surrounding the handsome manor house that sat at the end of the path.
A sudden rustling sound to his right shocked the man out of his rather nonchalant walk down the driveway. The man’s reflexes were razor sharp, and he swiftly drew his wand, ready to defend himself; he almost laughed as a rather pretentious white peacock emerged from the hedges. The bird, which looked rather thin, ignored the man and began to strut down the path, pecking at the ground occasionally as it went.
“Avada Kedavra,” the man said quietly. The peacock flopped over, dead, and the man let out a harsh, amused laugh, which was punctuated by a persistent cough that shook the man’s small frame. Catching his breath, the man cursed quietly, and then he resumed his walk toward the house. The crunching sound of his boots on the gravel was from then on only interrupted by the sound of water falling in a fountain somewhere beyond the hedge line.
As the man reached the heavy front doors of the manor, he felt yet another pulse of magic pass over him, this one more pronounced and much more impressive than the last; he had evidently reached a second set of stronger wards. The man reached for the large, bronze knocker on the door; smiling to himself, he lifted the knocker and used it. Immediately upon doing so, the doors to the manor opened of their own accord, silently offering the man passage into an extremely impressive, though slightly dilapidated, entrance hall.
The hallway was large and dimly lit; the man felt, personally, that there had been more light on the lane itself than there was in this ancient abode. Magnificent carpet covered most of the stone floor, though it was worn in places, and the furnishments were significantly less grand than the man had been expecting; this was clearly a house than had seen better days. A thin layer of dust covered nearly every surface in the hall, and most of the pale figures featured in the multitude of paintings covering the walls had forlorn looks upon their faces.
As the man moved into the hall, the pale figures in the paintings began to alert each other to his presence. Quietly, they followed him with their eyes, monitoring his procession through the manor. The paintings were clearly trying to unnerve him; as one, they scowled down at him, wearing haughty and disdainful expressions. At the end of the hall stood an impressive wooden door, fitted yet again with bronze; the man took a deep breath, stifling his cough, and then opened the door.
The drawing room was rather like the rest of the manor; while it had obviously been grand at one time, it was clear that it had not received any sort of proper upkeep for several years. A magical fire lit the room, throwing shadows across the walls with its bright, blue flames. The fire was lit beneath a very fine marble mantelpiece surmounted by a gilded mirror, which was thoroughly scratched and filthy.
Inside of the room sat three people, all of whom were silently waiting around a large wooden table; the table itself had large burns and gouges crisscrossing it, as if a duel had taken place on its surface. Two of the seated men looked very similar, physically, though they were clearly not very close in age; a father and his son, most likely. With them was a woman who had probably been very pretty at one time, but who was now showing the unmistakable signs of her age. The newcomer cleared his throat loudly, and as one the pale faces turned to him. The younger of the two men appeared to be dazed and distant, but the older of the two seemed to be right at home in this cold environment.
“Lucius,” the interloper said quietly, in a hoarse voice, “I can only assume that you were successful?”
“Of course,” the older of the two pale faced men scoffed. “My son is ready whenever you are, Basil.”
The younger of the two pale men was silently seated at the table, his eyes frantically scanning the room, but his body not moving a muscle. The woman, Lucius’ wife Narcissa, was seated next to Draco; she too appeared to be nervous. Basil let his gaze fall critically upon Draco for a moment, and he observed him closely, cocking his head to the side thoughtfully. A few long minutes passed before he said anything further.
“The imperius curse, then,” Basil said quietly. “The master was rather hoping he would join us willingly. After all, he will be receiving a great gift. One that is integral to our plans going forward.”
A bead of sweat formed on Lucius’ brow, but he retained his composure. “Draco could not be made to see the truth,” he said in his usual acerbic tone. “As you know, his mind has been corrupted by his blood-traitor wife and his young son. It won’t matter soon, anyway, Basil. You know that.”
Basil inclined his head in agreement, the firelight throwing his face into sharp relief. Had Lucius been a more timid man, he would surely have recoiled upon seeing the evil glint in the man’s dark eyes. As it was, Lucius had seen a similar glint in the eyes of the Dark Lord himself; compared to that, Basil Lestrade was no scarier than a child.
“Well, shall we get started, then?” Basil reached into his cloak and withdrew a pouch from his inner pocket. He opened it and withdrew from it a delicate silver instrument, one which was significantly larger than the pouch itself had been. He then proceeded to draw out another instrument, this one different from the first, and he set them side by side on the drawing room table. “I will need you to bring me the painting, Lucius. It is imperative that we have it at hand when we begin the spellwork.”
Lucius rose from the table and strode over to the mantel above the fireplace. He drew his wand and tapped the dusty mirror three times in rapid succession, then watched with satisfaction as it shifted from its previous place on the wall and rose to hover several feel over the table, suspended in the air solely by magic. Behind the mirror was a slight recession in the marble mantle; in this hiding place was a painting. This painting was set into a frame plated in gold, and it seemed to hum powerfully with a magic that was at once both terrifying and alluring.
“I see that Dorian was able to do the job, then. Magnificent,” Basil said conversationally as he gazed upon the painting. “Sometimes, magic this dark has a certain beauty to it. It’s simply enchanting.”
Draco Malfoy’s haunted eyes seemed to widen with shock and confusion when they landed on the painting, which was a rather intimidating portrait of he himself. He was posed regally, rather like nobility, though for some reason he found that the painting was terribly unsettling to look upon. He tried, yet again, to break the bonds of his father’s curse; yet again, he was unsuccessful.
“I agree,” Lucius intoned simply as he levitated the painting down onto the table in front of Basil. “Draco simply could not comprehend the magnitude of the gift that he was being offered. Immortality itself is at his grasp, and yet still he fights us.”
“Regardless,” Basil replied, “it matters not. There is a storm coming; we have been ignored for far, far too long. Draco will be honored in our new world, regardless of whether or not he wishes to be. He is the instrument of our victory.”
“And he will survive to see it,” a soft feminine voice chimed in. For the first time, Narcissa Malfoy spoke. “You are quite certain that this will work? Even if Astoria is sacrificed, Draco and Scorpius will live?”
“I can speak not for Scorpius,” Basil said, clearing his throat and coughing lightly before continuing. “He will need to make his own choice on this matter. Draco will become a weapon, one which will inspire fear into all of our enemies. Should Scorpius be willing to side with his father, he will also find glory.”
Narcissa nodded. “Then it is worth it. Nothing will be able to stop what is coming, not even Harry Potter and his aurors. The best thing for this family is to be kept safe, especially if it can do so in the process of nobly serving the ideals that it has long stood for.” Lucius caught her eye and nodded gravely. This was a discussion that they had entertained before.
“Everything is ready, Basil. We can begin.”
“Excellent,” Basil said. “I will need your help with the separation, as you know. You must be the one to cast the spell. Dare I remind you, though, that if you are not extremely precise, we will simply transform the painting into a Horcrux? That is not what we desire.”
Lucius nodded gravely, and he rose from his seat at the head of the damaged table to draw his wand on his only son. Basil also drew his wand, and he trained it on the painting. “Begin,” Basil said.
Lucius locked eyes with his son, and seeing the fear in them, he hesitated slightly. However, he knew that this course of action would be for the best; he was not about to let Draco be killed, and that was exactly what would have happened had he not volunteered him for this mission.
“Avada Kedavra” Lucius said softly, and he watched as the green light shot toward Draco, filling the room with a sickening glow. At the last possible moment, the light redirected itself into one of the silver machines that Basil had placed upon the table; it was attracted to the device rather like a magnet pulls in metal. The device shook violently for a few moments, as if it were about to break, but then it settled down and began to hum softly.
“Excellent, excellent,” Basil said, monitoring a second silver device that he had placed alongside the first. He then turned toward Draco and waved his wand. A brilliant silver light shot from the tip, then divided into three distinct clouds. One covered Draco, one the painting, and the other the silver device which had absorbed the killing curse. As the clouds settled, they were replaced by a brilliant flash of light, which was followed by a shockwave that knocked both Lucius and Basil to the ground; the table splintered under the force of the blast, and Narcissa could be heard whimpering softly through a cloud of thick, white smoke.
Several moments passed. Lucius was the first to gingerly rise to his feet, his eyes traveling to the painting of his son that now set upon the table. It had come to life, in a manner of speaking; the Draco in the painting now reflected the Draco standing silently in the middle of the drawing room, right down to the thinning hair, the age lines and the sad grey eyes. The Draco in the painting looked at Lucius with an expression that was both innocent and scared, and it tore at his cold heart. What had he done?
“Did it work?” Narcissa asked from the far end of the room.
“I believe so,” Basil replied in his hoarse voice, clearing his throat yet again. He made his way over to the second of the two silver machines, and he began to fiddle with the various knobs that adorned it. The instrument began to make rhythmic clinking noises, and a puff of green smoke emerged from it. This puff was followed by several others, and they converged upon each other to form a single, green snake. The snake squirmed for a moment before dissipating, and Basil breathed a sigh of relief.
“It would appear that his essence has not been divided. However, we need to be sure that it now rests in the painting,” Basil said. He drew his wand and aimed it at Draco. “Sectumsempra!”
Draco’s arm tore open, and blood splashed down on the table; both Lucius and Narcissa screamed protests loudly, and began to move toward Basil. However, just as quickly as Draco’s arm had split open, it sealed shut. The Draco in the painting, however, became horrified as his own arm began to bleed; his innocent expression turned to Lucius with betrayal joining the tears in his eyes.
“Magnificent,” Basil said under his breath. “Simply magnificent. Avada Kedavra!”
The killing curse splashed over Draco, but his body did not hit the floor. Rather, once again, the Draco in the painting appeared to suffer the wounds; this time, blood began to pour freely from the visible orifices of his body, and Lucius let out a terrifying snarl upon seeing this; however, Draco’s body, present in the drawing room, suffered no visible signs of damage.
“The master is going to be very, very pleased,” Basil said calmly. “This little project is exactly what we’ve needed. Thank you for your cooperation, Lucius, Narcissa. I daresay that you’re no longer needed.”
Basil spun quickly, turning his wand on the painting rather than on Draco himself. “Imperio,” he said calmly, and he watched with satisfaction as the real Draco turned to look at him with the same haunted eyes with which he had previously looked at Lucius. “Kill them, please. Kill your parents.”
Lucius moved to shield Narcissa, knowing then that they had both been badly tricked, having heavily underestimated this new threat, and hoping against hope that Draco could break the curse and refuse to obey. However, when Draco turned to him, he knew that hope was folly; there was simply no fight present in Draco’s eyes. The green light of the killing curse was the last thing that Lucius and Narcissa would ever see, and their bodies hit the floor nearly simultaneously with a pair of dull thuds. The tortured visage of Draco that was present in the painting was clearly suffering; his features seemed to blur and burn, his face becoming uglier; less human, in a way. Upon seeing this, Basil Lestrade’s features twisted into an amused sort of smile. He casually shrunk the painting, packed up his various instruments, and placed all of these things into his pouch, which he returned to the inside pocket of his robes.
“Come, Draco,” the dark haired man said simply. “It is high time that I introduce our new weapon to the hand that will wield it. Incendio.”
The drawing room erupted into flames behind Basil, who gripped Draco tightly by the arm and disapparated into the night, the wards around the manor breaking as it was left behind them to burn.
Hundreds of miles away, seated at his cluttered desk in the Ministry of Magic, was Harry Potter. Harry was working late, reading through his son James’ final assignment of the summer. James had interned at the Office of the Aurors during the break between his sixth and his seventh years at Hogwarts, the latter of which he had just started earlier in the day today. Had someone told Harry seven years ago that his quirky eldest son would have not only made Quidditch Captain, but Head Boy as well, Harry would have recommended that they take more care to avoid the Confundus Charm; however, having worked quite closely with him throughout the last few months, he had found himself to be deeply impressed. He had even started hoping that James would choose to become an auror when he graduated. It wasn’t particularly common for the winner of the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting to be your eldest son, after all.
A sharp knock sounding on the flimsy wooden door to Harry’s office stirred him from his thoughts. “Come in,” Harry said, as he carefully set aside James’ work. A frantic Terry Boot burst through the door, his wand in his hand and a nervous look on his face.
“Harry, thank goodness you’re still here. We’ve had alarms going off like mad for the last fifteen minutes; we’re getting reports that at least five unforgivables have been cast at the old Malfoy Manor within the last hour!”
“Damn,” Harry said, surprised. As far as he was aware, no one had lived in the Manor in ages, the Malfoys having preferred not to live in the same house that they had been forced to share with Lord Voldemort for close to a year. “Has anyone been sent out to investigate yet?”
“We’re sending out a team of hit wizards now, but I knew you would want to know before they left. This sounds like it could turn out to be pretty a pretty serious case.”
Harry thanked Terry and told him that he would make his way to the Manor to help back up the hit wizards shortly. After Boot had left his office, Harry opened up one of the drawers in his desk and pulled out an old mirror that was not much larger than his hands. “Ginny Potter,” he breathed into the shining surface. Seconds later, his wife’s worried face appeared in the glass.
“Harry?” Ginny’s concerned voice echoed from the mirror. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Harry admitted, “but we’re getting all kinds of alerts coming in from the old Malfoy Manor, and I wanted to tell you that I’m almost definitely going to be late tonight. Don’t wait up.”
“You know by now that I will anyway. But please be careful, Harry. I need you in one piece to help me clean the garage out tomorrow, as you well know.”
Harry smiled softly at his wife, who was smiling back at him. “I’ll be fine, Gin. I always am. I love you!”
“I love you too, Harry. Go get ‘em,” Ginny’s image said; then she disappeared from the mirror. Harry replaced the mirror in his desk drawer, along with the assignment he had been grading for James, and he locked them in there together. Harry then stood up, grabbed his wand and traveling cloak, and made his way to the Atrium; he planned to follow the hit wizards out to Malfoy Manor from there. On his way out of the office he sent a patronus to Ron, who would definitely not want to miss whatever this was turning into. Harry had a feeling that he would need him.
Upon his arrival at the Manor, Harry saw that the old house had been engulfed in flames; smoke was pouring from the broken, diamond paned windows. Peacocks were frantically running from the grounds out onto the lane, and Harry couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that he had a very, very bad feeling about this.
Approximately five hours earlier:
James Potter was not one to take authority particularly seriously in most situations. As evidence of this, he could presently be found asleep in the Prefect’s Compartment of the Hogwarts Express, with his hands behind his head, his feet kicked up on the seat opposite his own, and his eyes closed tightly; a light snore could even be heard escaping his mouth. Prefects arriving for their first meeting of the school year had been quietly assembling around him, and most had been very careful not to wake him up. James had a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker; it was pretty widely recognized that he was exceptionally talented, magically, but he was far more infamous for his pranking than for any of his academic achievements. None of the prefects had any desire to somehow get on his bad side.
As the compartment began to fill, several of the prefects decided to simply sit down and stare at James with curious looks on their faces; others, namely those who felt that taking a nap in the prefect’s car was incredibly disrespectful, simply looked angry. All of assembled students were asking themselves and each other the same question: Why was James Potter here? Most of them, particularly the seventh years, had given him at least one detention at some point; there was a rumor going around that James was even closing in on first place on the all-time-most–detentions-ever list. This compartment should be the last place that you would find him.
One of the aforementioned seventh years, a particularly handsome blond boy named Jake Smith, was one of those who were quietly seething in anger. His freshly ironed robes, accented regally by the Ravenclaw blue and bronze, looked like they would be the perfect landing place for a Head Boy’s badge; however, none was present. When James gave a particularly loud snore, it was Smith who decided that he had finally had enough. He shook James roughly, not bothering to be particularly gentle while trying to wake him up.
“Holy hell!” James exclaimed, nearly falling from his seat in shock. “What’s going on? Are we under attack?”
Smith ignored James’ comments, choosing instead to glare at him harshly. "Why are you in our compartment, Potter? Shouldn't you be setting off fireworks or terrorizing first years?"
James blinked a few times as he gained his bearings, and then he grinned at Smith. He yawned loudly, exposing his teeth, and then he adopted a quizzical expression, as though he were genuinely confused.
"I don't think I've ever 'terrorized' any first years, honestly. I generally like the little buggers. Unless, of course, you count that joke I pulled on some of them with the Skiving Snackboxes in my fourth year. Which you really shouldn't, in fairness, because it’s been an awfully long time since that happened."
The Ravenclaw gave James a look that clearly said he didn't find James's comment funny. "Evidently, you don't remember giving every single member of Slytherin house a pumpkin to wear on their heads at the Halloween Feast two years ago. Against their will. That could easily be considered terrorizing."
"That could also easily be considered funny," James said, a nostalgic smile on his face. "But, unfortunately, I’m no longer at my leisure to continue to make others laugh. I’m afraid I’m about to become rather dull, actually."
Smith looked at James with an expression that mingled doubt and confusion with outright dislike. "What are you talking about, Potter?"
James reached into the inside pocket of his robes and pulled out a shiny Head Boy’s badge, and then he pinned it next to the Quidditch Captain's badge on his chest; all the while, he kept a goofy smile on his face. Smith nearly fell over backwards in surprise, and all of the prefects started to whisper loudly to each other in surprise.
“Is that real?” A mousy haired boy asked James, his mouth open in surprise.
“No way, he’s faked it,” an auburn haired girl replied.
“He must have stolen it from the real Head Boy,” a large girl said with conviction.
In a far corner of the compartment, a messy haired boy was shaking with suppressed laughter, his green eyes glinting with mirth. A bushy haired girl stared disapprovingly at him, though she couldn’t keep the smile from forming on her face as she watched James smile gormlessly at the gathered prefects. For practically being a genius, her cousin was one of the stupidest and most immature people Rose Weasley had ever met.
"You?” Jake Smith finally sputtered. “They made you Head Boy? What were they thinking?! Is this some kind of joke? I know it is. It has to be!"
James smiled, closed his eyes, and re-assumed his sleeping pose. Everyone in the compartment sat in stunned silence, aside from Albus Potter, who now had tears of suppressed laughter running down his thin face. Jake Smith continued to gape in disbelief.
“How did this clown get Head Boy over me?” He quietly asked the now nearly full compartment. “He’s completely useless.” Silence greeted Smith’s question, though a clear snort could be heard coming from James’ direction.
As the compartment door opened yet again, James lazily opened one eye, and upon seeing who stood in the doorway, he quickly tried to sweep his untidy black hair out of his eyes and sit up correctly in his seat. He once again nearly fell out of it. Casey Adler, who was extremely attractive, in James's opinion, closed the door behind her, a frown on her face, and a Head Girl's badge gleaming on the front of her robes.
"James, why are you in the Head's Compartment?"
At this, James proudly pointed to the badge on his chest, and his smile reformed on his face. He then took the badge off of his robes and tossed it to her. She caught it deftly and began to examine it. If James were to be completely honest, he wasn’t totally sure why he had been chosen as Head Boy; in fairness, he was at the top of his class, academically, but he had never displayed even a shred of the pompousness that he always associated with the position.
“Seriously? I don’t even know what to say. Is this thing a fake?” Casey asked, turning the badge over in her hands once more before tossing it back to James, who caught it and fastened it carefully to his robes once again.
“Trust me, we were surprised too,” Albus chimed in from the corner. “I thought mum was going to have a heart attack, and that’s nothing compared to the way that our grandma responded.”
“Honestly, we all thought it was a joke as well,” Rose added. “My mum even thought that Uncle Harry was in on it. But it’s the real thing.”
“Well, this isn’t really what I expected to walk in to,” Casey admitted frankly, her right hand absentmindedly brushing a strand of her short black hair back behind her ear. “I can’t help but feel like you’re going to be the worst Head Boy of all time, to be honest.”
“Voldemort was Head Boy,” James said, clearly struggling to keep a straight face. “So I’ll probably be the second worst. Maybe even the third, because I’m pretty sure that my Uncle Percy was Head Boy, and he might just be the biggest twit I’ve ever met.”
Albus finally lost it at that point, unable to contain his laughter. At the sight of Albus Potter laughing so openly at James, many of the other prefects finally began to relax, and even Casey’s mouth twitched upward into a brief smile. Only Jake Smith seemed to still be upset, and he knew better than to continue to complain when his peers appeared to have accepted James into their ranks.
“Alright, you lot,” James said, standing up and taking a quick bow. “As you may have noticed, Hogwarts School has seen fit to name me the Head Boy this year. I have no idea what I’m doing, so for now I’m just going to sit back and let our Head Girl run the meeting. Thank you.” At that, James sat down, and he then looked at Casey expectantly.
“You’re completely useless, James,” she said, standing up to take his place. “As James said, he’s your Head Boy for this year. I’ll be the Head Girl, obviously. Any concerns that you have can be brought up with us at any time, and we’ll be patrolling the corridors every night with you throughout the term. You, as prefects, are charged with enforcing some measure of discipline throughout the school year; as many of you know, this includes the power to take and give points, along with the ability to give detentions. Use this power responsibly. We will also serve as a liaison between the students and the Headmaster, along with our traditional duty of representing the student body at any official functions in which it is deemed student representation is necessary. We’ll begin this year by patrolling the train in pairs.”
Once James had realized that Casey had finished talking, he stood up and walked over to stand next to her, a stack of papers in his hands.
“Right, so I have the list of pairing assignments here. After reading them, I have come to the conclusion that some of the pairings were idiotic, and that it would be a lot more fun if we patrolled with different people. So, I took the liberty of changing them up a bit.”
“You aren’t really supposed to do that, you know. Longbottom makes those pairings up himself,” Casey corrected James promptly.
“I don’t really care, honestly,” James replied somewhat whimsically. “Longbottom and I get along great; I even babysit his kids sometimes over the holidays. I don’t think he’ll mind.”
“All the same,” Casey replied, “I think I should take a look at what you've changed. I feel like you’ve probably just put the Gryffindors and the Slytherins together, trying to cause drama.”
James was significantly taller than Casey, and his twinkling blue eyes locked on to Casey's grey for just a moment before Casey took the list from James, looked away, and sat down to go over it with him. It didn't take the pair long to sort out where everyone actually needed to go, (it turned out that James had indeed placed mostly Gryffindors with Slytherins, much to Casey’s chagrin) and they then began to hand out assignments to the prefects, some of them still snickering over the exchange between their Head Boy and Girl, and some of them still totally in shock over the morning’s events.
The last pair of prefects to receive their assignments had deliberately waited to be the last ones in line.
"Hey Al,” James said happily. “I imagine that you were able to enjoy the meeting?”
Albus Potter was a sixth year prefect, and he could recall the lengthy meeting he had been forced to sit through last year. Compared to that, having James as Head Boy was a little bit like Albus pictured it would be to find out that Santa Claus was real. He would never admit that, though. He straightened his green and silver tie absentmindedly before replying “I’d give you an eight out of ten. I’ve seen funnier, honestly. Smith’s reaction was priceless though, I must admit that. And your Voldemort joke was pure gold; Scorpius is going to love that one when I tell him.”
“Uncle Percy isn’t honestly that bad though, James,” Rose chimed in. “He certainly wasn’t the second-worst Head Boy of all time. I can think of at least ten others who are significantly more deserving of that title.” Rose’s intelligent brown eyes were glaring at James reproachfully, but he refused to give in to them.
“I still say he’s a twit.”
“Speaking of the worst Head Boys of all time though,” Albus continued, “I still can't believe they gave you the job," Albus said this with a quick sideways glance at Rose, who now looked like she might be close to laughter again. "I'd have thought they would prefer to leave the position empty if the only other option was to pick you..."
James adopted the saddest facial expression that he could, but he didn't do a good job at completely hiding his smile, and when the two brothers locked eyes neither of them could help but to share a quick laugh. Casey watched the family banter with an amused grin on her face; if nothing else, she thought to herself, perhaps James Potter could keep her laughing throughout this school year.
"Right. So you're going to be patrolling the back end of the train, Al. The last three cars are all yours," James said in what he believed could pass for an official tone.
"What about me," Rose interjected, "What am I going to be doing?"
"You can help Albus," Casey replied. "James asked if you two could be paired together for patrols this year, in the interest of inter-house cooperation, and since you’re actually friends I can’t really complain.”
Rose flashed James a grateful smile; she hadn't liked her Ravenclaw counterpart the previous year (and, in Rose’s opinion, if anyone was going to give Voldemort a challenge for the Worst Head Boy of all Time award, it would be him, next year). Albus and she exited the car together, happily chatting about James’ antics during the meeting. This left James and Casey alone in the compartment.
"So," Casey said awkwardly, "that about does it. I think we're supposed to meet with the Headmaster after the feast, but we're done for now."
"Yes, I suppose we are," James said, still chuckling lightly over Albus’ cheek. "That wasn't so bad, was it?”
"Not really, no. But I’ve got people to see, so I’ll see you later, James," she said before leaving the compartment quite quickly, though she did flash him a friendly smile on her way out.
James sat back down where he had been sleeping earlier, vaguely thinking about resuming his nap. However, James realized guiltily that he hadn't spoken to his friends at all since he'd boarded the Hogwarts Express. He pulled himself back to his feet, and then he started to wander down the train, trying to find them. After being stopped and congratulated at least ten different times by people he didn’t even really know, James spotted the boys he was looking for just few cars from the front of the train. As he slid the door open he couldn't help but notice that they seemed to get quiet when he walked in.
"Talking about me, were you? Better tell the truth, I can take points away now when you’re lying to me," James said as he closed the compartment door.
Patrick Blishwick, James' best friend, flashed a million dollar smile and asked, "James, would we lie to you? Of course you were our topic of conversation, your Headship. We would never dream of deceiving you!" Patrick was exceedingly handsome, with his long blond hair and sharp green eyes, and he knew how to turn on the charm. James moved to send a quick hex at Patrick, and Patrick blocked it with a wave of his wand before returning fire. James hopped out of the way and moved to a seat by the window, smirking widely at the odd greeting he had exchanged with his friend.
"We were talking about you and Ms. Adler," Phil Claydon interjected, smirking mischievously and completely ignoring James and Patrick’s miniature duel. Phil was shorter and rounder than the other two boys. He was smart though, and exceptionally good at History of Magic: a subject none of the other Gryffindor boys were bothering to take at the NEWT level.
"Well, I almost used my middle name in a pun again, you know, serious and Sirius, but I stopped myself. I didn’t figure that she would think it was very funny," James began, and almost as if he were on cue Phil let out an extremely exaggerated coughing fit that sounded a lot like "Nobody ever does!"
James ignored him. "But, and this is very important, I don't think I said anything that really hurt my chances, either with her personally or with the other prefects professionally. I acted almost like a mature and well-adjusted adult!”
Patrick laughed loudly, and his gaze drifted out into the corridor as a couple of Hufflepuff sixth years walked by; they blushed furiously when they saw he was looking at them. "James, next to me you're the biggest prat in this school. You may need to drop the idiot act completely if you want this to work. It’s going to take a lot more than acting ‘almost like a mature and well-adjusted adult’ to win her over. Or to get the other prefects to take you seriously, for that matter.”
"I know,” James said quietly, “but I want to try just acting a bit less stupid at first. It isn’t nearly as fun, really, but I'm trying to tone some of my rudeness down a bit. I think it’s working! Besides, there might be a shred of truth to the accusation that I'm a little bit arrogant as well," he continued with a sheepish grin. “Working with my dad this summer was really eye-opening.”
The three young men laughed and talked together throughout the afternoon. Patrick left the compartment with one of the flirtatious Hufflepuff girls after a few hours of this, and though he invited James to come with him, "She has a friend!", James chose to stay with Phil and catch up. As night began to fall, the lights of the castle came into view through the windows of the train, and James felt a pang of sadness when he saw them off in the distance. This would be the last time that he would ride the scarlet train to Hogwarts to start a new school year, he thought to himself. The thought was bittersweet.
Little did James know that hundreds of miles away, his father and uncle were sifting through the freshly burnt wreckage of Malfoy Manor, trying desperately to piece together exactly what had happened there. It would be morning before a fresh team of hit wizards would discover the badly disfigured bodies of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy.
I would very much appreciate a couple of a reviews, if you would be so kind as to take the time to leave them. The link is here:
"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure!"
Last edited by Mike1732; June 18th, 2012 at 4:24 am. Reason: Revised my authors note
Re: Harry Potter and the Pure-Blooded Phantasm
As a quick disclaimer, I am not JKR. Though, in fairness, that much should be pretty clear. Also, I got this second post out a bit faster than I thought I would. So hooray for that.
Chapter Two: A Tournament and a Breakfast
James fastened his thick traveling cloak around his neck and locked his trunk shut tightly as he felt the Hogwarts Express come to a jerky halt at its home platform.
“I guess we should probably get going,” Phil said. “We don’t want to end up sharing our carriage with a couple of squealing second year girls again.”
“Too right you are,” James replied as the pair made their way off of the train and onto the familiar grounds of Hogsmeade station. A cool breeze picked up and swirled around the platform, causing the warm September air to feel chillier than it actually was; it forcefully blew James’ hair around in a way that made it appear to be even more comically untidy than normal, and his long cloak flapped at his heels. “I think it’s going to rain soon,” James said offhandedly.
“What makes you say that?” Phil asked curiously. “It’s been dry all day.”
“Just a feeling,” James answered. The raven-haired Head Boy stopped to gently pat the thestral pulling Phil’s and his carriage (to the confused looks of many onlookers) before he climbed in alongside the shorter youth.
“It always creeps me out when you do that,” Phil shuddered. “They’re supposed to be terribly scary to look at. Bad luck, too.”
“They aren’t really bad luck. It’s the whole death thing that throws people off. Mind you, it was pretty terrible watching my Great Auntie Muriel die, even at her age.”
“That it was,” Patrick added vaguely as he lithely climbed into the carriage and sat down beside Phil. “One minute she’d been criticizing your mum’s cooking, and the next minute she’d had a heart attack and was dead at the dinner table. What a terrible weekend to come and visit you. I’ll never forget that.”
The carriage lurched and began moving toward Hogwarts castle not long after Patrick had entered it, and a slight drizzle had begun to fall from the darkened sky by the time they’d reached the ancient stone structure.
“How’d you know it was going to rain?” Phil asked James curiously as the trio made their way up the steps that led to the Entrance Hall.
“I could just tell,” James answered as he tightened his cloak around his neck. “Turns out I have a bit of a sixth sense for it. I haven’t guessed wrong one time this summer, even when the weathermen disagreed; Lily thinks I’m turning into a seer. Personally, I think it has something to do with my animagus lessons. McGonagall said that I could start to experience some bizarre side effects if my transformation were to be a magical creature.”
“Great,” Patrick added jokingly, “just one more thing that makes you about twice as odd as most of the other people I know. At least you’re never boring.”
The three friends entered the Great Hall just as a terrific flash of lightening lit up the night sky, and they maneuvered over to the far end of the Gryffindor table and sat down together as a loud accompanying blast of thunder echoed behind it.
“Who’s that guy in Professor Slughorn’s seat?” Patrick asked as his sharp green eyes swept the staff table, looking for changes. “And where’s Professor Diggle?”
“Diggle retired, I think,” Phil answered him. “I overheard Professor Longbottom saying something about it at the end of last term. It makes sense, when you think about it, considering that Diggle was older than dirt.”
“Sluggy retired as well,” James said. “My Dad somehow got conned into going to his birthday party over the summer, and he said that old Sluggy had turned something like a hundred and ten. So, really, you can’t be too surprised he’s finally given up teaching. No more Slug Club meetings, thank Merlin.”
As Patrick and Phil continued to chat about old professors, James watched silently as the rest of the student body filed in and sat down at each of the four house tables; he caught his little sister Lily’s eye when she walked in with his cousin Hugo and some other fourth years whose faces he recognized but whose names he didn’t know. He saw Albus wave cheerily at him from the Slytherin table while Scorpius Malfoy brooded beside him. James didn’t really know Scorpius particularly well, but he always seemed to be in deep thought about something or other; he was a very serious bloke, most of the time.
James’ musings were interrupted by the arrival of the first years; they all looked pale and nervous as they shuffled into the Great Hall to be sorted. They were led by a tall man with a kind face and a dirty old hat, which he held gingerly in his hands; Professor Longbottom proceeded to set the hat down on a single stool that was placed in front of the staff table. He flashed the first years a kind and encouraging smile as the hat stretched out and opened its mouth to sing; James leaned forward eagerly, as he always enjoyed the sorting hat’s songs.
In times long past, when I was newly woven
A great evil threated this very hall
Against this evil, the founders were outspoken
And against those four, it could not help but fall
Griffindor, the bravest of the lot
Swung his sword, defending this very plot
Cunning Slytherin was not to be outdone
Before the battle was fought, he’d made sure they’d already won
Ravenclaw, smartest of the founders, played her part
As did loyal Hufflepuff, who supplied the group with heart
These four heroes, friends to the end
Could never foresee the coming rend
For together, they stood tall
But separated, and alone, they would fall.
Now I must sort you into Houses Four
Though I do it with a heavy heart
As long as you treat each other with intentions so poor
Evil will always be ready to take you apart
Together, united, beware the coming days
And especially beware fear’s clouding haze.
That said, now I am ready, once again
So place me upon your heads, and let the sorting begin.
“You suppose that the sorting hat got bored this past summer and decided to write us that?” Patrick asked a mostly silent Gryffindor table with a nervous smile.
“I’ve never known that hat to give out warnings like that,” James replied, mulling over what the hat had said.
“It’s happened several times before, actually,” Phil said smartly. “The last time that the hat was worried enough to give out a warning, though, was when Voldemort was still around. I’m not sure if I should be nervous or not.”
“In the end, it’s just a hat,” Patrick said confidently, his smile becoming more genuine by the second. “It can’t really know too much. I'll even bet that this is that old thing’s idea of a joke.”
“I didn’t find it particularly funny,” James said, “but then, I don’t really find my Uncle Charlie very funny either, and loads of people think he’s a laugh. Maybe I just have an odd sense of humor.”
After the sorting had been completed, (with “Zidane, Allison!” becoming a Slytherin), food appeared on the long house tables; James began to pile food onto his plate indiscriminately. “I’m starving,” James said, as he continued to add a little bit of everything to his already overflowing plate.
“You’re a pig, James, you do know that,” Patrick commented as he neatly added a bit more food to his plate, which had perfectly balanced and organized portions spread out on it. “It’s a little bit disgusting.”
“It’s the Weasley in me,” James said through a mouthful of chicken. “Mum’s always said that Weasley men are tall, and have blue eyes and big appetites. It’s just genetic.”
“It’s not cool, James. Not cool,” Phil added, though he was piling nearly as much food onto his plate as James was. “Pat’s right; you could stand to learn some manners.”
"Oh, you'll pay for that comment, you hypocrite," James said with a playful glint in his eye.
James flicked his wand from under the table, and the food that Phil had piled onto his plate began to attack him; in particular, a vicious pair of chicken legs were having great success by whacking him repeatedly in the face. Patrick began to roar with laughter, and James soon joined in; the two friends had tears streaming down their faces as they watched Phil duck for cover under the table to avoid a glob of mashed potatoes that had been trying to assist the chicken legs in their assault.
"Whoops," James said suddenly, though his laughter. "I didn't mean to do that. I'd forgotten for a moment that I'd agreed not to pull any more pranks."
He waved his wand again and Phil's food settled back down neatly onto his plate. Phil himself reemerged from under the table a moment later, grumbling. James didn't have time to dodge the slice of ham that was lobbed at him in retaliation a moment later.
From several seats down the table, Casey Adler had watched this entire scene unfold. "Second worst Head Boy of all time: possibly," she muttered under her breath, though she was smirking in amusement at the display.
Once all of the students had finished their meals, Professor Flitwick stood and clapped his hands; the old man smiled broadly as he began to give out the start of term notices.
“Speaking of old Professors,” Patrick whispered to James, “How do you figure it is that Flitwick is still teaching? He’s got to be about a hundred and fifty.”
“People reckon that he’s part elf,” James whispered back. “They age really, really slowly. That’s probably part of it. Now be quiet, I want to find out who the new professors are.”
James turned his attention back up to Flitwick, who was speaking quite excitedly in his high-pitched tones.
“-have to say that all products from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes are banned from the school, and when I say all of them, yes, that includes any that are released during the upcoming school year. Secondly, Ms. Filch has asked me to direct your attention to the list fastened to the door of her office. I am told that this list encompasses every item her father banned, along with several new offenders she has targeted on her own. I urge you to take a look at it, so that you will not accidentally be caught with any of the disallowed items."
Flitwick smiled at that and cleared his throat, pausing momentarily. “We have two new additions to the staff this year, and I have faith that they will both be excellent new additions to our faculty. First, taking up the position of Transfiguration Professor will be Professor Ren Rhigred. Professor Rhigred comes to us from the highly regarded Salem Academy, and I hope that you will all show him respect and kindness as he adjusts to a new country and a new school.”
With a small wave and a grimace, the new professor acknowledged the smattering of applause he was receiving. Professor Rhigred was a very tall, very thin man. His limbs looked awkwardly long on his body, and he reminded James vaguely of a spider; his odd appearance was completed by a mop of shaggy, auburn hair (which was flecked liberally with grey) and a pale complexion. James hoped that he was a capable teacher; Transfiguration was his favorite subject, and he had very much enjoyed his classes with Professor Diggle.
“Secondly,” Professor Flitwick said, “I would like to introduce our new Potions Master: Professor Zeno Oribasius. Professor Oribasius is an expert in his field, and I have complete confidence that he will do a splendid job teaching his craft here at Hogwarts.”
Professor Oribasius gave a genuine, warm smile as the students erupted into applause. His handsome features seemed to light up as he gazed out upon the hall, and James heard more than one girl sigh longingly. The professor couldn’t have been more than thirty, James figured, and he definitely fit the billing of ‘tall, dark, and handsome.’
“I don’t like him,” Patrick said offhandedly. “He looks like he should be a model or something, and people that attractive should never be trusted.”
Phil snorted into his plate. “That’s rich, coming from you.”
"His name is stupid, too," Patrick shot back. "Zeno sounds like something I would name a cat. A cat from outer space."
Flitwick clapped his hands together yet again, and the hall quieted down.
"Additionally, I fear that I must give you all some very bad news. The inter-house Quidditch Cup will not be held this year."
James stood up, his silverware clattering against the table, looking angrily at Flitwick. He was meant to be Quidditch Captain! The headmaster noticed, and chuckled lightly. "Mr. Potter, I do apologize, but I think you should hear the rest of what I'm going to say before you attempt to jinx me. I wouldn't cancel Quidditch if I didn't have something equally good to replace it with." James sat down, still angry and feeling a little embarrassed: so much for acting more mature. That was twice in one meal he'd failed at it pretty miserably. He glanced over at Phil, who was smirking at his outburst.
"The reason we are doing this is to try, once again, to reinstate the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts.”
“Bloody hell! My life is complete,” Patrick exclaimed, loudly.
“Language, Mr. Blishwick,” Professor Flitwick admonished lightly before continuing.
“Now, judging by that outburst I think it’s safe to assume that most of you are familiar with the tournament, but for those who are not, I will give a quick introduction. The Triwizard Tournament was established some seven hundred years ago as a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of magic: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. A champion will be selected from each of these three schools to compete in three magical tasks against one another; the winner will receive the Triwizard Cup. Now, this tournament is an excellent way for you all to meet students of different nationalities, and should it go well, our ministries have agreed to return the tournament to its previous rotation of one tournament every five years. Students who are of age may apply in October, to an impartial judge, to determine our school champion. The representatives from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons will be arriving in a few weeks, and the champions will be officially selected during the Halloween feast."
"What do you think?" Patrick asked James enthusiastically, the grin practically splitting his face. "I bet it would be awesome to be a champion! One of us would get it, for sure. Who else?"
James looked thoughtful, and a small smile was forming on his face. "I'm not sure if it's for me, but it would be cool to be champion for Hogwarts. My dad was champion, back when he was in school; though, I don’t suppose he really enjoyed it very much, being that he was only fourteen and he ended up tied to a tombstone watching Lord Voldemort kill the other Hogwarts champion."
“You,” Phil chimed in, “Are seriously ruining this wonderful moment. I think it sounds brilliant. We’re going for it.”
After everyone had finished discussing the news and eating dessert, the prefects called for the first years, in order to show them the way to their new dormitories. James watched Albus gathering up all of the little Slytherins, and when Albus noticed him staring he gave him a quick thumbs up. James made sure all of his other prefects were doing what they were supposed to be doing, and then he started to walk the familiar steps to Gryffindor tower, listening to Patrick and Phil talking enthusiastically about the Triwizard Tournament. He was almost to the portrait hole when he heard a familiar female voice call his name from the bottom of the staircase behind him; he realized who it was immediately, and he told his friends to go on without him while he waited for a moment at the top of the stairs.
"James," Lily’s voice yelled. "Wait up!"
James' youngest sibling was a fiery redhead who resembled her mother as much as Albus resembled his father. She hurried up to the top of the staircase and came to a stop directly in front of him. "Hey. So, Hugo and I were wondering: are you going to enter the Tournament?”
"I'm not really sure yet, Lils," James answered slowly. "I'm definitely thinking about it. "
"You should do it! It would be a lot easier to cheer for you than for somebody I don't like; besides, Dad did it, didn't he?”
James looked down at his sister, who was smiling up at him with a hopeful expression. James, as the oldest of three children, had always been something of a hero to his younger siblings; this was true despite the fact that he spent most of his time at home playfully picking on them. James knew that the Potters probably gave each other more trouble than their parents would have liked to see, but there was a lot of love between them.
"Yeah, I'll probably do it," James finally said. In fairness, he didn't really feel like he'd needed a lot of convincing. "Should be fun, right?"
"Yes! James, that's great! I need to go and tell my friends!" With that, Lily scurried off to go tell Hugo Weasley and the rest of the Gryffindor fourth years that the infamous James Potter had decided to enter the Triwizard Tournament.
The discovery of the bodies of Lucius and Narcissa had transformed the case of Malfoy Manor overnight. Now that he was dealing with a confirmed homicide, Harry had been able to bring in his senior aurors to replace the hit wizards; he wanted to get to the bottom of this, and quickly. There were still several wizards combing the wreckage of the manor for any sign of what had transpired the previous evening; from the looks of things, there had been several unforgivables cast before the fire had started, which made things considerably more difficult to piece together.
Currently, Harry could be found eating a breakfast of bacon and eggs at a small muggle diner located a few miles down the lane from the still-smoldering ruins of the manor house. The diner was decidedly old-fashioned, and the walls were papered in a floral pattern that reminded Harry strongly of his Aunt Petunia’s kitchen; not really Harry’s favorite style, but then, he wasn’t really in a very picky mood this morning either. He had been accompanied to the diner by Ron Weasley, who had arrived at Malfoy Manor not ten minutes after Harry himself had the previous evening. They had both pulled an all-nighter, investigating the crime scene and working to compile what little evidence they could into a workable case file. Currently, the contents of this file were spread out all over the table in which the pair was eating; its various components were charmed to look like business documents to ordinary muggles, and a very light Confundus Charm from Ron ensured that their waitress would not clearly remember her two oddly dressed customers. Both Harry and Ron were diligently nursing large cups of coffee, reviewing the information that the night’s work had produced.
“According to Creevey’s preliminary autopsy report,” Harry said, “the Malfoys were actually killed before the fire started. So this was no accident; it was definitely murder, probably caused by the Avada Kedavra, given the amount of residual dark magic found on the bodies.”
“Glad this has turned out to be such an easy case; I can’t wait to get a list of suspects started for it,” Ron said sarcastically. “Lucius was such a nice old man that I can’t see why anyone would want to kill him.”
"That does complicate things,” Harry agreed tiredly. He ran a hand through his untidy black hair, which was just barely beginning to allow some light strands of grey to show, before continuing. “I can’t think of anybody who liked Narcissa either, aside from maybe Andy Tonks. I think you’re right; this is really going to be a rough investigation. I would be willing to bet that half of wizarding Britain had a reasonable motive to off those two.”
“Something about this just doesn’t make sense,” Ron said in a frustrated tone. He jabbed his fork forcefully at his breakfast as he spoke. “Just when I’d started to think that the Malfoys were finally done with the ‘I’m-a-pureblood-and-therefore-enjoy-casting-unforgivable-curses’ lifestyle, they go and get themselves killed like this. I can’t shake the feeling that there must be something more complicated going on behind the scenes here than some loon’s grudge against Lucius.”
“Neither can I,” Harry replied gravely. “Especially given the fact that the wards on the manor don’t appear to have broken until after the fire was started; that would imply that the killer knew the Malfoys, and also that they didn’t think he was dangerous enough to keep him out of their home. Have we had any luck locating Draco or Astoria yet?”
“Not yet,” Ron said. He paused to sort through a few disorganized pieces of parchment on the table before speaking again. “According to Boot’s notes, the cottage that they’ve been living in looks empty, and all we know for sure is that Astoria was in London to drop Scorpius off at the platform yesterday. Nobody has seen her since.”
“That doesn’t really make them look totally innocent, does it?” Harry asked thoughtfully. “However, the fact that they aren’t at home doesn’t really tell us anything conclusive. Draco has always been a coward, when push comes to shove; if something big were about to happen, I imagine he would get himself into hiding as quickly as he could.”
“Do you think we should question Scorpius?” Ron asked. “If they are hiding, there’s a chance he knows where. Or maybe how to get in touch with them.”
“I was actually going to head up to Hogwarts later today to do that myself. Al is friends with Scorpius, and I want to make sure he’s treated fairly. There are a lot of aurors who still hold a pretty deep grudge against the Malfoy family."
“Fair point,” Ron conceded. “You’ll need to get some sleep before you go, though. You look like the walking dead right now; you’ll probably scare the first years if you show up looking like that.”
Harry allowed himself to laugh at Ron’s poor attempt at humor, and Ron grinned in return. He left a sizable tip on the table with the money to pay his check, gathered up all of the case files with a wave of his wand, and then he and Ron rose to leave. They had barely made it out of the diner before they’d realized that something was very wrong; they both sensed a strong pulse of magic pass over the small muggle village, and it made the little hairs on their arms and necks prickle and stand on end.
“Do you feel that?” Ron asked Harry in a tense voice. “I think it’s an anti-apparition ward. “
“It is,” Harry said quietly. “Get your wand out and stay close. Something’s coming.”
Feedback is always nice.
"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure!"
Last edited by Mike1732; May 28th, 2012 at 6:24 am.
Re: Harry Potter and the Pure-Blooded Phantasm
I'm not JKR. I'm just a college kid with a serious Harry Potter obsession.
Chapter Three: The Great Flaming Pillow (Featuring Nundu on the Drums)
The Gryffindor Common Room was a comfortable space filled with squashy armchairs, sturdy tables, and brilliant scarlet tapestries. At the moment, however, a group of extremely excited first years were disturbing any kind of peace that the room normally provided for its residents; several of them were running about with pillows, engaging in an impromptu muggle-style pillow fight with each other. A few of the more creative children were also shooting sparks at each other with their wands. It made for a rather chaotic scene.
“What’s their problem?” Phil asked grumpily as a pillow soared over his head. “You’d think they’d at least try to be a little bit quieter. It's their first night here, after all. Shouldn't they all be homesick or something?”
“They’re just excited,” Patrick said with a grin. “They’ve probably never been away from home for any length of time before. Some of them probably only recently found out that they were magical.”
“Wouldn’t that be weird?” James chimed in from his seat right by the fire. He had the book Transfiguration for the Broad Minded propped open on his lap, and he was casually browsing through it. “To not know that you were magical, I mean. Accidental magic would be really awkward to explain if you didn’t know you were a wizard.”
“Too true,” Patrick muttered. “I’ll have you know that I vanished my teacher’s chalk more than once in elementary school. She never could figure out it; barmy old woman thought that one of the other teachers was an amateur magician and was using mirrors and other illusions to do it.”
“I always forget that you were raised with muggles,” Phil chimed in. “Not that that’s a bad thing. Just weird to think about.”
Suddenly, one of the pillows that had been soaring through the air was hit by some stray sparks from a wand, causing it to burst into flames. Time slowed down as every eye in the common room turned to follow the glorious flaming pillow, and, almost predictably, it landed at Phil’s feet and lit his robes on fire.
“I'm on fire!” Phil exclaimed as he stood up and began stamping on his robes furiously. James and Patrick both erupted into laughter as they watched Phil struggle (Phil was notorious for having bad luck, but he was generally a good sport about it); several people began screaming, however, and one third year fainted in shock. Eventually, James decided to take pity on Phil, and he cast a quick Aguamenti Charm to douse the flames. Following this display, the room quieted quickly; many people were nervously awaiting the punishment that would almost certainly be handed down to the oblivious first years. The only sound that could be heard was the crackling of the fireplace and Phil’s muttered curses.
“So, you probably shouldn’t have used sparks in your pillowfight,” James said slowly as he turned to face the very nervous first years. He casually plucked a feather out of the air (one that must have come from the pillows) before continuing. “Fire isn’t cool, guys; at least not in the Common Room. I’m not going to punish you, because I think that would be just a little lame to do on your first night here, but I am going to ask you not to play that game anymore. Do we have a deal?”
The small group nodded as one, many of them with grateful looks on their faces. “It was funny,” Patrick added from his seat on the other side of the room. "So I approve!" He winked roguishly at the first years, which caused several of them to blush. Almost immediately, Phil smacked him on the back of the head; this action caused many in the common room to begin laughing, and with that, the tension had broken. Each of the students returned to what they had been doing previously (with the exception of the now rather subdued first years, who had begun doing more sensible things, such as playing chess).
Several hours later, James stood up and stretched, yawning loudly. “I’ve gotta go, guys. I’m supposed to meet with Flitwick and Adler here soon.”
“Have fun, your Headship!” Patrick and Phil both yelled after him as James stepped out of the portrait hole. "Don't do anything that we wouldn't do!"
James met up with Casey on his way up to the Headmaster’s office; evidently, she had been in the library throughout the entire “flaming pillow” incident. James wasn’t really sure why she had already been spending so much time in the library, given that classes hadn’t even started yet, but he wasn’t one to judge; he’d already read all of the seventh year texts, after all.
The hallways were eerily dark, given the relative lateness of the hour; the only noise that could be heard were the soft sounds of Casey’s trainers and the slightly harder sounds of James’ boots as they walked down the corridor. The Heads were to be doing their patrols last, starting at midnight, and Flitwick had asked the pair to meet him up in his office before they started.
It didn’t take long for the two students to reach an ugly stone gargoyle. “Unity,” Casey said confidently, and the gargoyle nodded and lept aside, granting permission for the two students to enter. They stepped casually onto the stone staircase, which slowly revolved and carried them to Flitwick’s office. As they neared the top of the staircase, they heard many voices talking in heated tones just beyond the door to Flitwick's office.
“I’ve never been in here before,” Casey said in a hushed tone. “I’m a little bit excited to see it. It sounds like he might already be in a meeting or something though.”
“I’ve seen it a few times,” James said. “And I’m pretty sure that he isn’t. The paintings like to talk, they just don’t like to talk to people that aren’t the Headmaster.”
“Of course you’ve seen it,” Casey muttered as she knocked sharply on the door. The voices all seemed to quiet down upon the sound, and Flitwick’s high voice responded to it with a call of “Enter, Mr. Potter and Ms. Adler.”
The two students made their way into Flitwick’s office in unison, each being offered a hard wooden chair to sit in. James waved his wand and transfigured his into a rather comfortable armchair; Casey sighed and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "show off" as he took his seat, which made Flitwick chuckle lightly.
The Headmaster’s office was nicely furnished with oak furniture, and the various curtains and tapestries adorning the walls were a deep, navy blue. Additionally, the office was lined with many shelves of books, most of them detailing obscure and ancient charms; charms had never really been James’ thing, but Patrick was into them, so they had devised a way to look through a few of the books one time in their fourth year. Phil still joked occasionally about the plethora of detentions that they had been made to serve for that little escapade. Just thinking of that brought a smile to James' face.
“Good evening. I trust that your first night back has been enjoyable?”
“Well, sir, I watched Phil Claydon get lit on fire by a few first years during a pillow fight, but other than that, yeah, it’s been pretty good.”
Flitwick raised an eyebrow at James and looked to Casey, who simply shrugged. “I was in the library, Headmaster. I don’t have a clue what he's talking about.”
Flitwick chuckled lightly, and then straightened up in his chair slightly. "Yes, well, be that as it may, that is neither here nor there. I trust that no one sustained any lasting injuries. For the first few weeks of term, you'll only have one job as Head Boy and Head Girl, so I'll expect you both to do it well. Every evening, you'll join some of the prefects in making rounds of the castle, to make sure we don't have any new students lost and unable to get to their common rooms," said the diminutive Headmaster. "I suppose you'll also need to be on the lookout for older students who are determined to break curfew, because we always seem to have a fair amount of rule-breakers determined to do just that. I know that this may seem like a fairly simple job, but it is one that needs to be taken seriously. If the prefects encounter any problems, they'll be coming to you for guidance."
James sat with his arms crossed and what he hoped was a serious expression on his face. He didn’t do a serious face very often though, so he wasn’t really sure if he was pulling it off. The fact that he was sitting in a bright purple armchair probably didn't help matters. Next to him, Casey smiled at Headmaster Flitwick, and gave him a nod to show that she understood. "I'll do my best, Headmaster."
"Yeah, me too," said James, in a business-like tone. “I’m relatively certain that nobody is better at sneaking around the corridors than I am, so it shouldn’t be too hard to catch the little blighters.”
"Very well,” Flitwick said with a wide smile on his face. “I know you'll both be great, but if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask for it! I'll contact you when I need you, and the password to my office will stay the same for at least the next month or so." With that, the short Headmaster dismissed the Heads, leaving James and Casey to their duties.
Once they had left the room, Flitwick burst into laughter. “Albus, you were absolutely right! Potter is going to be great fun to work with this year, I can already tell.”
The portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiled serenely down at the current Headmaster, a twinkle in his eye. Next to him, a sallow faced man scowled down at Flitwick. Even as a portrait, Severus Snape wasn’t particularly fond of the Potters.
The quaint village of Little Slighton was located only ten miles from Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. Malfoy Manor had long intrigued visitors who came through Little Slighton, as it stood out like a sore thumb when set against the rather drab houses that otherwise surrounded the small village. Local muggles, however, would generally warn travelers to stay away from the imposing building; townsfolk had reported hearing ‘strange’ things from the haughty residents of the manor house, and they tended to leave it alone as much as possible. It seemed almost unnatural, in a way, and the muggles knew enough about the Malfoys to know that they didn’t want to know any more than they already did.
However, the residents of Little Slighton were not so lucky as to avoid trouble of this "unnatural" variety on an eerily cold morning in early September. The day had started normally enough for one particular muggle, who went by the name of Eric Strome; he ate a balanced breakfast, he kissed his wife goodbye, and he pulled his very average car out onto the road, preparing to make the drive to Salisbury, where he worked in an office building. As Eric maneuvered his old Volkswagen through town, he couldn’t help but shiver slightly in the unusually cool September air. A heavy fog had descended on Little Slighton sometime during the night, and it was making it difficult to see very far down the road. Eric turned his wipers and fog lights on, but it didn't do him much good.
Seemingly out of nowhere, an extremely large cat jumped into the road in front of Eric’s car; he swerved to avoid the collision, but he lost control of his vehicle, and he flipped the car over several times; the cat, which looked rather like a particularly enormous leopard, turned to investigate what had happened. The cat flinched slightly as the car burst into flames; the angry reds and yellows from the fire stood out sharply against the drab grey of the fog surrounding it, and they were reflected in the eyes of the creature. It was large; larger than any other cat that Eric had ever seen; and it had harsh, sharp teeth that were coated in a disgusting slime that looked rather like poison; if it could smirk, it would have done so as it watched the old Volkswagen explode violently, thus ending the life of Eric Strome.
“Harry, did you hear that?” Ron asked quietly. “It sounded like an explosion. Not to mention that it's getting cold... too cold, really. And this fog, it's come out of nowhere. I have an awful feeling about this.”
“It almost feels like there are Dementors near here,” Harry agreed. “But we haven’t seen any sign of them in years. Come on; let’s go see what that explosion was. Make sure to throw up a Disillusionment Charm; I want to go unnoticed, if possible.”
Harry and Ron crept slowly through the village, taking special care to be as silent as possible as they made their way over the deserted streets and alleyways. The unnatural thickness of the fog caused some distortions in the magic surrounding the to the two disillusioned aurors, which slightly negated the effectiveness of their camouflage. As they turned a corner, they came upon a gruesome sight; a young woman, perhaps a few years older than Lily or Rose, was lying face down in an alley. She looked as though she had been gutted by a large animal of some kind, and her blood was pooling around her. It was not a pretty sight.
“Hell,” Ron said softly, “Bloody hell. Harry, what did this?”
“I’m not sure,” Harry responded in a measured tone. He knelt down next to the body and pressed his fingers against the woman's neck, feeling for a pulse. “She’s definitely dead, but she hasn’t been for long. Her body is still warm.”
“It had to be something big to do this kind of damage. Nundu, maybe. Or a Manticore, or a Quintaped, or something like that. I can't think of anything small that it could be, if it's magical.”
“We need to get out of here,” Harry said quietly. “And come back with reinforcements. If it was any of those creatures that you just named, we’re pretty well screwed. I have my cloak with me; I want to try to move under it for now, because this fog is really mucking up our Disillusionment.”
Harry and Ron crept slowly toward the edge of town under Harry’s invisibility cloak, taking the same care to be as quiet and stealthy as possible as they had before. As they reached what felt like the edge of the wards, they looked back on Little Slighton. The pair were near the top of a hill, and they had a fair vantage point to look out over the small village.
“Look, Harry,” Ron said quietly. “It’s there, between those two houses.”
Harry shifted his eyes in the direction that Ron was pointing, and he stifled a groan as he saw the large cat prowling silently down an alley, likely looking for more victims.
“Nundu,” Harry confirmed. “We don’t have a chance against that by ourselves. Our best hope is to contain it, for now, until we can get help.”
“The muggles. They won’t be able to get out,” Ron said seriously. “Is there anything we can do for them?”
“If I could, I would go down there and rescue them all myself. I want to,” Harry said, as he tightened his grip on his wand. “But it would be suicide for us. Whoever lured this thing here knew what they were doing. They knew we were here, and I can't help but think they're not going to leave us alone while we try to save this village.”
“Damn it,” Ron said softly. “I want to catch these guys, Harry. This isn’t fair.”
“I think it’s a safe assumption that whoever murdered the Malfoys is also responsible for this,” Harry said. “And we will catch them. I promise you that.”
Suddenly, the air around the two aurors dropped several degrees. Harry heard screaming; it was soft, at first, but then it began to sharply increase in volume. They were familiar screams, but he hadn’t heard them in close to twenty years; he was hearing his mother get murdered by Lord Voldemort, and it wasn’t pleasant.
“Expecto Patronum!” Harry yelled, and a great silver stag burst from the end of his wand, standing regally against the rising tide of darkness descending from the heavens. Immediately, the fog near Harry and Ron began to part, and Ron’s terrier quickly joined Harry’s stag in silencing the screams. The sky was suddenly filled with the unholy screeching of dementors as they fought to escape the combined power of the two Patronus Charms. The Nundu noticed this new development, and it turned to focus on the hill that the two wizards were standing on with a viscous snarl; Harry quickly conjured up the strongest walls he could around the Nundu. Great stone constructions slammed down into the earth, and Harry knew that they would hold, at least for a while.
"We have to go, now. I'm not sure how long that's going to hold that Nundu, and I'm not sure how long the Dementors are going to stay away either. We need as many of my aurors as we can get, as soon as we can get them."
Harry and Ron broke into a fast run; they breached the edge of the wards and disapparated on the spot, hoping that the cat had truly been captured, if only temporarily. They both knew that they were going to need a seriously talented team to get this situation under control.
A tall, thin man looked out over the scene with an evil sneer. It was true that Harry Potter was a skilled wizard, but he was only one man, and he was definitely not invincible. He quickly brought Potter’s walls down, freeing the Nundu, and settled into position; it would be hours before the aurors could mount a team strong enough to deal with the creature, and by that time he would have more than enough bodies to satisfy his master. It truly was magical to watch a creature as lethal as the Nundu stalk such weak prey; beautiful, in a way.
James and Casey set off down a fifth floor corridor, silence falling between them. Casey had done these patrols before, as a prefect, but since James had never been a prefect it was a totally new experience for him. He was burning with the desire to bombard Casey with questions, but he was trying to seem official and in control. He settled for asking a question not related to their duties, to break the ice.
"What do you think about the Triwizard Tournament?" James asked, trying to make small talk.
"I don't doubt that it'll be fun to watch," said Casey casually. “However, it does seem like it's going to be fairly dangerous for the champions.”
"I suppose that's true; I think it sounds fun anyway, though. Have you thought about entering at all?"
"James, this year is the most important year we spend at Hogwarts. With our Head duties, and our NEWTS, and our classwork, there just isn't time for me to consider entering. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t."
James was already pretty sure that he was going to pass most of his NEWTS without too much effort, but he knew better than to say so. He had spent his summer working with his dad, and that alone meant that James had logged more time than most of his classmates practicing Defense Against the Dark Arts. He had always been good at Transfiguration; it was something that came naturally to him, and he enjoyed researching and learning about the subject. He was pretty sure that none of his classmates knew that he occasionally wrote theoretical articles for Transfiguration Today, and only Patrick and Phil knew that he had done some apprenticing under Minerva McGonagall, who was largely recognized as the best Transfigurations Master alive in modern Britain. James knew that he was a pretty colossal nerd; however, he did his best to hide that. He had always preferred the attention that Quidditch stars received to the relative shunning that nerds generally did.
"I dunno, I think our coursework should be fairly manageable. I mean, as far as that goes the only thing I'm worried about is Herbology, which is pants anyway. Not to mention that if our Head’s duties turn out to just be these little dates, then I can't complain. I think I might enter; Lily wants me to. My little sister, you know."
"Of course you will," said Casey, who was smiling now as she talked, "James Potter would never miss an opportunity to inflate his own ego. Also, just so we’re clear, this isn't a date. I'm not here by choice, you know."
James smirked at that, but continued walking, completely unfazed. "It would just be really cool, you know? Being Hogwarts champion. I wonder who all will enter?"
"Well, I'm pretty sure my friend Samantha Knighton is, and Katie Tremlett said that she might," Casey said. "I've also heard rumors about that Ravenclaw prefect, Jake Smith. And of course you and Blishwick will, which means that Claydon probably will as well, just to make sure that he fits in-"
A sudden crash interrupted the conversation before it could continue any further. James and Casey turned the next corner slowly, wands out, in order to see what had caused the noise; however, the corridor appeared to be empty, save for a suit of armor that had toppled over. James moved forward with a smile on his face, heading straight for the tapestry (which pictured a witch and her cat) that hung on the far wall.
"What was that? Was it one of the ghosts? Peeves, maybe? There's nobody here..."
The words had barely left Casey's mouth when she jumped in surprise. James had reached behind the tapestry and pulled out a boy with long brown hair and a haughty face, probably no older than a third or fourth year.
"What's your name?" James asked this question as casually as he would have if he had just met the boy at dinner; he didn't see any reason to get too upset, really.
"Sean... Sean Stevens" the boy stammered. "I was lost…"
"Lost?" James asked with a frown. "You certainly don't look lost to me. Which House are you in? And which year are you?"
Casey looked on with a bemused expression on her face. James could tell she was watching to see how he handled this situation, and he was determined to do it right. Or at least as right as he could, seeing as he had never really disciplined anybody before. Actually, James didn’t even like discipline. It wasn’t really his thing.
"I'm a fourth year, Slytherin." The boy looked ashamed for being caught out at night, and James felt a bit sorry for him.
"Well, let me tell you something, Sean Stevens. Tonight is your lucky night. I'm not going to punish you, as long as you go back to your common room, right now, and you don't let me catch you again.”
"Right, yes sir, that's what I'll do."
And with that, James let the boy go, and he watched him head in the general direction of the dungeons. Then, he smiled at Casey, and motioned to a nearby stone bench.
"I'm not going to sit with you, James. We're supposed to be patrolling, and I've already told you that these patrols don't count as dates."
“Yeah, whatever,” James said offhandedly as he transfigured the stone bench into a plush couch. “Just don’t tell anybody about what I’m going to do next. I’m not entirely sure that it’s legal, and I don’t really want to have to try to replicate it. My charms work is a bit shoddy, honestly, and I’d hate to have to ask Blishwick for help.”
"Can't you just sit on a regular bench?" Casey asked in a slightly exasperated tone. "And you can't use magic in the corridors, so technically I should be docking points from you right now. You're incorrigible."
James ignored Casey and pulled a piece of parchment out from the inner pocket of his robes. He muttered a few magic words, and then he watched as Hogwarts castle appeared on the Marauder's Map. Casey, finding herself curious, sat down beside him; she stared at the map for a full minute before she said anything.
"Potter, where did you get this? It's fantastic!"
"It was my Dad’s, actually. I nicked it from his desk drawer before my fourth year. Anyway, I didn't get this out for fun. I wanted to watch our new friend Sean."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the dot labeled Sean Stevens. At first, it seemed as though he was returning to his common room, but after he got close to the dungeons he turned away and resumed his nighttime wandering. James found this highly amusing, but Casey did not.
"We should go get him. It's our responsibility," Casey said with an annoyed frown.
"Alright, alright," James said with a sigh. "Poor kid can't say I didn't give him a chance though."
The pair stood up, and with a wave of his wand James returned the stone bench to its original state.
"You know James, you're a lot of things, but I have to admit that you do transfigure a very comfortable couch," Casey said grudgingly.
James only smirked in response.
The sharp sound of apparition echoed through the empty streets of Little Slighton. The aurors had needed approximately three hours to gather the manpower necessary to engage a Nundu, and it was an impressive group that appeared in the Little Slighton’s empty streets. The village was completely devastated; buildings were destroyed, small fires were blazing in the streets, and blood stained many of the windows and sidewalks that had previously been clean. As the aurors picked through the wreckage, several things became clear. First, the Nundu was no longer running wild within the town; either it had demolished Harry's walls and escaped, or someone had set it free. Secondly, there were no bodies anywhere in the village. It had been completely emptied of its nearly five thousand residents, to the point where hardly a trace of them remained. And, lastly, the Dementors had vanished, which would indicate that someone or something was controlling them.
This case was spiraling out of control quickly, and Harry Potter ran a hand through his hair in frustration. He was tired, angry, and feeling like he had been played.
I would like to take a second to thank ccollinsmith for being the first to review this story! In the immortal words of Albus Dumbledore, it would be "optimistic to the point of foolishness" to expect a lot of reviews for a story published this long after the series has ended. However, I really do appreciate any input at all from my readers, and I encourage you to leave comments in the feedback thread. The link is below!
"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure!"
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|