Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 03

03

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“Trust is just as rare as devotion, forgive us our cynical thoughts.” — Rush, Emotion Detector


He arrived at the station about twenty minutes before the hour, in plenty of time to board the train and find a compartment. The encounter with the Weasleys—another instance of meddling, in his opinion, though he suspected it was a spur of the moment thing on Molly’s part—was thereby avoided. Thus he had an excellent view as the Weasley family tumbled through the portal and onto the platform with barely enough time for any of the children to get on the train. Ginny was there, her eyes hopeful as she swept her gaze around at all the people and skimmed the windows on her side of the train; they passed right over him without hesitation. He smirked and opened the window all the way to let in some air.

It was not all that much later when Ron slunk into the compartment with a line from memory. “Anyone sitting there?” he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Harry. “Everywhere else is full.”

Harry shrugged and gestured, eyes wandering to the window as the boy sat down. It would be a while before the cart lady arrived, but he was sure he could bear the wait, having eaten well for breakfast. Ron did not recognize him in the least, and it did factor in that he had not been given help by the twins, so they had never seen the scar. And even then, it was so faint they may not have noticed it anyway given the opportunity.

“I’m Ron, by the way. Ron Weasley.”

Harry looked over and nodded. “Harry. First year?”

“Yeah. I’m not entirely looking forward to Hogwarts. I mean, I want to learn magic and all, but I’ll have three older brothers there.”

“It might have been nice to have three brothers,” Harry said wistfully, not that he had ever once considered the idea.

“Five,” said Ron a bit morosely. “I’m the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I’ve got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left—Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of quidditch. Now Percy’s a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they’re really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand, and Percy’s old rat.” He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat grey rat, which was asleep. “His name’s Scabbers and he’s useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an owl from my dad for being made prefect, but they couldn’t aff—I mean, I got Scabbers instead.” Ron’s ears went pink. He seemed to think he’d said too much, because he began staring out the window.

‘Funny how he says the same things,’ he mused. ‘Maybe he wants anyone and everyone to feel sorry for him for some reason, like he’s entitled to it. Then again, he always did want so much without ever thinking he needed to work for it.’ When Ron remained silent he pulled a book out of his pocket and began to read.

Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, “Anything off the cart, dears?”

He immediately got up and purchased a selection of sweets, most of which would go into his school trunk. Ron’s ears went pink again and he muttered something about sandwiches, which Harry ignored. Back in the compartment he pulled his trunk out from under his seat and put most of the sweets away, as well as pulling out the lunch he had prepared for himself.

Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it; there were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, “She always forgets I don’t like corned beef.”

From his new perspective Harry could almost see some of why Ron had turned into such a twat. His own mother had wanted a girl—finally realized in Ginny—so yet another boy was probably far down on her list. To not remember such a simple detail, and about a boy who would eat just about anything, was bordering on cruel. “I’d be happy to share some of my sweets after we’re done eating,” he said. After all, Ron may not like corned beef, but it was food, and to someone who had originally grown up eating next to nothing it made Ron seem like a bit of a drama queen. He had not really noticed before, not with being so eager to be kind to someone, hoping for kindness in return.

They had only just tucked away the wrappers of their sandwiches when a knock came at the door, followed by it being slid open. Neville was there accompanied by Hermione. “Has anyone seen a toad?” she asked imperiously. “Neville’s lost one.”

Harry handed a chocolate frog over to Ron and replied, “Sorry, but neither of us has. You’re welcome to join us if you like. I’m Harry and this is Ron.”

Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but snapped it quickly shut. Ron had just unwrapped his frog when it jumped and landed right at the edge of the window. Ron let out a pained cry and got up quickly, took one step forward, and tripped over the edge of his trunk, which he had not properly stowed. Harry watched with interest as Ron fell headlong through the window, his body tipping so his legs rose into the air, his feet shattering the upper glass, and then went entirely though, smashing straight into a tree they were just passing.

He was on his feet in the next moment, his eyes glued to the impaled Ron Weasley for the scant seconds he was still in view. He then slowly turned to Neville and Hermione; she was chalk white and Neville had apparently passed out. “He—Weasley told me he has three brothers on the train. I think—”

Hermione nodded faintly and whirled, dashing off down the corridor. Harry paused long enough to heft Neville onto a seat and prop him against the wall, then stepped out as well, but not before a quick, malicious smile flitted in and out of view. He didn’t even get a foot down the corridor when Hermione rushed back, so he quickly returned.

“I found one of his brothers—a prefect—he’s gone to get the train stopped,” she said really fast. “We’re supposed to stay right here and wait.”

He nodded and resumed his seat, studiously keeping his eyes averted from the window. Hermione took a seat on the same side, but all the way over, and folded her hands neatly in her lap. They stayed that way for all of ten seconds before she began to wring them fretfully.

The train jolted when the brakes were applied, the few remaining sweets he had out sliding onto the floor. Neither of them made a move to do anything about it. And while they were waiting he had to wonder about Pettigrew. He would not have died, so he probably took the opportunity to simply leave. If he wanted to stay with the Weasley family as a cover, though, he would probably turn up and be taken back. Harry imagined the rat being given to Ginny as a Hogwarts pet and had to bite back another smile.

Eventually a sickly-looking Percy appeared. “I don’t want you to speak of this just yet,” he told them. “I’m sure you’ll be questioned when we arrive at Hogwarts. I called for a meeting of the prefects so they can help keep order while the train is stopped. If you need anything I’ll be two compartments up toward the engine.”

Hermione nodded and Percy left, and Harry resumed reading his book. Neville finally woke up a few minutes later and was immediately filled in by Hermione. Silence reigned again for the remainder of their time on the train. When they did begin to slow during the approach to Hogsmeade Harry stowed his book and pulled a set of robes from his school trunk to slip on.

Percy came to fetch them, reminding them to leave their trunks, and guided them outside. Instead of being taken to the boats Percy led them to the first carriage and gestured them inside. It took off as soon as they were seated and shortly thereafter they were at the castle and being met by McGonagall.

She led them to just outside a small antechamber. “Mr Weasley, I ask that you intercept your brothers before they make it to the Great Hall and bring them here.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Percy said dully, then turned and walked quickly away.

McGonagall had just opened her mouth to speak when Dumbledore appeared, so instead she nodded quickly and went off to meet the rest of the first years. Dumbledore gave them a sad look and said, “I am Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of this school. I know this must be difficult, but will one of you please inform me of the events on the train?”

Neville went a bit green and looked at his feet, though Hermione stepped forward and quietly and quickly explained what she had witnessed. Neville and Harry nodded through her recitation, neither of them having anything to add to it.

“Such a tragedy,” Dumbledore said with a shake of his head, then half-turned when approaching footsteps sounded. “Ah, Messrs Weasley. If you would please wait in this antechamber.” He closed the door after them and pointed, saying, “You three can meet the rest of your year mates over there. I ask that you not speak of this to anyone else just yet. The family should know first.”

Harry nodded and walked away. ‘One down.’

Neville and Hermione stayed near him, but that quickly became a moot issue when McGonagall popped up and herded them all into the Great Hall. Harry kept a surreptitious eye on Snape once names began to be called, though his attention was drawn away briefly when the sorting hat called out Hufflepuff for Neville. ‘Huh, guess watching Ron bite it drove home to this Neville that he’s nowhere near brave. I wonder if that means Snape will be less antagonistic toward him now that he’s not a Gryffindor. And I bet Sprout is a better head of house than McGonagall ever was.’

When his turn came he was eyeing Snape again, and managed to see the minute signs of shock ghost across the man’s face. Harry kept his own blank as walked steadily to the stool and ignored the comments of the students. He was far more interested in Dumbledore’s eyes widening slightly, and how McGonagall’s face puckered up for a split second, probably in chagrin at not having recognized him. Mrs Figg—assuming she ever reported anything of substance anyway—most likely had not mentioned the change since she saw it happening so gradually, and did not think it of any importance.

The hat slipped over his head and there was a distinct pause before he heard its voice in his head. ‘Interesting. You remind me of another boy—from quite some time ago. You’re almost blindingly ambitious and most certainly cunning. But you don’t exactly have a thirst to prove yourself, which is odd.’

‘I would like Ravenclaw, please. Ambition is of little use without the knowledge to back it up. And why should I prove myself to anyone? I know exactly who I am. Anyone who needs me to prove something obviously has issues. Speaking of which, what do you see when you sort people?’

The hat paused again, possibly in surprise. ‘I don’t see memories. I see choices, inclinations, and character traits. I can see that you would be a bad fit for Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. You plan too much and you give loyalty on an individual basis. You can work hard, but that’s not enough. Since it’s down to the other two, well, why not?’ “Ravenclaw!”

Harry removed the hat and handed it to McGonagall, and as he turned let his eyes linger for an extra second on Snape again. The man seemed conflicted. From his seat at the Ravenclaw table (on the side where he could most easily see Snape and Quirrell, even if not the remainder of the sorting) he watched the rest of the sorting—or appeared to, anyway—and noted with interest that the hat did not stop at having sorted himself and Neville into houses different from their first. Zacharias Smith, previously of Hufflepuff, ended up in Gryffindor, as did a Quincy Rivers, not that he even remembered him. ‘Must have been from Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. I guess the hat decided to even out the houses a bit.’ He dutifully turned his attention to the head table after McGonagall whisked the hat and stool away.

Dumbledore got to his feet and was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there. “Welcome!” he said. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!” Dumbledore sat back down to applause and cheering, and Harry immediately looked away.

The second the food appeared he was loading up a plate with roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, and rather a lot of brown gravy. As he was taking his first bite he wondered idly if Neville’s toad had turned up, and if either he or Hermione were even able to eat.

A girl five seats down spoke up once the first years had all begun eating. “Hello, I’m Penelope Clearwater, one of the fifth year prefects for Ravenclaw. After the feast I’ll be one of the people leading you to our common room and dormitories. Jack Knightley, the other fifth year prefect, is sitting across from me. You’ll meet the others later. If you have any questions I ask that you hold them for now; they’ll be addressed in the common room.” With that she returned to her meal.

Harry was mildly surprised that his fellow first years did not immediately barrage him with questions about himself. They did start talking amongst themselves, so perhaps it was more that they were waiting to see what he would do. And he was perfectly happy never to go out of his way to make friends—they would probably consider him a stuck-up wanker.

When they did end up in the Ravenclaw common room—and who was foolish enough to have riddles as the password without realizing that people in other houses could, in fact, be intelligent or clever enough to solve them?—they were introduced to the other prefects, then told that through the door opposite the entrance were the dorms, to the left for the boys, to the right for the girls. Knightley said something Harry found very interesting, though, which finally made something click in his mind.

“We’re all Ravenclaws here, which means we’re all intelligent, so you don’t need to go out of your way to prove this to anyone. Yes, pay close attention to your work, practice, and research for your papers—be proud of what you learn and accomplish—but don’t insult people in other houses by showing them up constantly and rubbing their noses in it. A schedule will go up soon on the board”—he pointed—“showing times available for tutoring if you’re having any difficulties mastering something. And since we do have classes tomorrow I suggest you all settle in and get some rest.”

Harry followed the other boys to their dormitory and absently began unpacking his trunk, transferring his school books to the feather-light, extended backpack he had purchased. Hermione went to Gryffindor not so much because she was brave, he decided, but because her need to shove her intelligence in everyone’s faces and be admired for it far outweighed any Ravenclaw attributes. It was probably the basic insecurity of a muggle-born coming into play along with any childhood traumas, but her bravery surely did not hurt.

The room itself looked much like the ones in Gryffindor aside from the colour scheme and he was mildly disappointed that there was not more privacy. Maybe the upper years got individual rooms due to OWLs and NEWTs? He was distracted when he realized the other boys were all shooting him looks, so he sat down on the edge of his bed. “Hi,” he said. “I’m afraid I’ve been rather preoccupied with something, so I didn’t really catch your names. I’m Harry Potter.”

After the others introduced themselves Kevin Entwhistle asked, “While I have read some books with you in them I realize that they can’t possibly be the whole truth. I have many questions, but what I’m most interested to know is if it’s correct that you grew up in the muggle world.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, I did. I only learned about magic—” ‘—the first time—’ “—when I received my letter. My aunt . . . doesn’t care for magic, so she was unwilling to say anything before then. This is all a bit strange and I’m going to miss having access to the newspapers. I wonder if there’s a way to still have them delivered.” He paused, then said, “Er, to get this out of the way, my father was pure-blood and my mother muggle-born. I don’t really remember what happened that night except for the occasional odd nightmare about green light and some voices. I’ve read those books, too, and I find it interesting that they place all the honor on me and forget my mother’s sacrifice. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she’d done something to try to ensure my survival. I’m also not looking forward to Halloween.”

They looked confused for a few moments before the obvious answer widened their eyes.

“Something happened on the train I’ve been asked not to talk about yet. I think it might come out tomorrow, though.”

Michael’s eyes narrowed and he exchanged a look with Anthony. “I believe we know what you refer to. We won’t say anything,” he promised, then wandered over to his bed, Anthony following him to the next one over.

Kevin and Terry also drifted away, so Harry breathed a silent sigh and gathered up his night clothes. A nice hot shower would feel good, and then he could relax in bed and think about the upcoming year.

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It was headline news in the Daily Prophet. The paper was shared between those with subscriptions and those without, and soon everyone knew that Ron Weasley had died in a freakishly bizarre chocolate frog-related accident while on his way to Hogwarts. Percy, Fred, and George were missing from the Gryffindor table, unsurprisingly, and Draco Malfoy was smirking with glee.

Dumbledore stood up and called for attention. “Students, when the Weasley brothers return do not overwhelm them with questions. A quiet word will be enough, or perhaps a letter of sympathy to the family. What happened was tragic, I agree, but please do show courtesy in their time of grief.”

Harry scoffed internally; as if someone like Malfoy would be so kind. He was about halfway done eating when Flitwick handed out the schedules. Why they didn’t hand them out in the common rooms the first night—it’s not as though the first year schedules needed names on them, and sixth years could be handled at the same time. Penelope spoke up again, this time to say, “One of us will be guiding you first years to your classes this week. After that you’ll be on your own, though there is a map of sorts on the board in the common room you can refer to.” She glanced at Terry’s schedule and nodded. “Well, you guys are lucky. Be in the entrance hall by 3.30 and I’ll show you how to get to Herbology. The library is on the fourth floor if you want to do a little exploring. It’s not far from the main staircase and clearly labeled.”

Harry decided to take the free time that day to do a little checking up on the Potions text book again, having thought back to memories of old and the questions Snape had thrown at him, though at least he would not have to see the man in class until Thursday. The answers were there, but one had to read the whole thing to know them, assuming they had not already learned prior to Hogwarts. If nothing else, spending time in the library meant he could finally get his head wrapped around how it was organized. It wasn’t as though he had bothered previously, not with Hermione so eager to find everything and provide what was needed—for her to be needed.

While he was up there wandering around he spared some thought for the ghosts. Should he do something about them now, or wait until they would actually be able to do him some service? Dumbledore probably did have eyes on him, even after the mirror incident over Christmas break, but that was more likely to be the portraits. Unfortunately, ghosts did not make such great spies given that they could still be seen. . . . Well, perhaps there were ways around that if necessary.

By the time Thursday rolled around Harry had gotten more than a few strange looks from people like Snape, McGonagall, and Dumbledore. They were escorted to the Potions classroom and ushered in, and Harry took a seat next to Kevin on the “Ravenclaw” side of the room. He considered sitting with Neville, then remembered just how intimidated the poor boy got around Snape and decided it was safer not to. Perhaps Neville’s fellow Hufflepuffs could help his confidence far faster than the Gryffindors had (which is to say, not at all for years).

Snape billowed in and came to a stop behind his desk, his eyes sweeping over the students and pausing briefly on Harry. He thought for a moment the change in his appearance had completely thrown the man off, but then Snape said softly, “Ah, yes. Harry Potter. Our new—celebrity,” before giving the speech Harry remembered about the “subtle science and exact art of potion-making”. He did not, however, snap questions at Harry, which was surprising. Perhaps Snape figured a Ravenclaw Harry would have read ahead. Snape did take off points for the most ridiculous of things, though, causing his house mates to look askance at the professor. At least Harry wasn’t sharing the class with Slytherins, with their sycophantic sniggering and sabotage attempts.

In the weeks which followed Snape seemed to have reconciled himself somewhat to Harry and became nastier, which eventually caused Knightley to confront him in the common room with a complaint. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but you’re losing too many points from Snape. He’s never had a problem with Ravenclaws before, so. . . .” The implication that Harry was provoking the man was left unsaid.

Harry arched a brow at Jack and, after a pregnant pause, said, “Oh, so now you give a damn? From what I’ve heard Snape has always favored Slytherin and loves to take points off Hufflepuff and Gryffindor for things like breathing too loudly. But you never cared until it affected Ravenclaw? It’s not my fault the man has it in for me. Ask any of the other first years and they’ll tell you I’ve done nothing. Do not lay this on my shoulders when I’m not at fault. Maybe you should complain about the source instead of trying to shame the target. And why on earth would you say anything without first getting both sides of the story?”

The first years close enough to overhear were all nodding their heads and Knightley was forced to backpedal, saying, “Er—sorry. You’re right, I didn’t get all the information first.”

After Knightley retreated Harry turned to his fellow first years. “Thank you.”

He was somewhat disgusted weeks later when nothing more seemed to have come of it. Had Knightley brought the issue up with Flitwick? Or had he just dropped the subject? But then, he himself had not said anything to their head of house, so could he really pass judgment? Odds were that students in previous years had complained and the matter was swept under the carpet by Dumbledore. He had not complained last time around, either, at least not to anyone with the power to do something about it. Having come to that realization before he became too righteously indignant he dismissed the matter entirely, knowing that the less he reacted the more annoyed Snape would become, and look the worse for it.

An encroaching Halloween reminded him to swing by the third floor corridor and check for alert wards very early one morning, then key in an exception for himself. He also set a few wards of his own, knowing that doing so with the Elder Wand meant they would not be noticed. It was a simple enough matter to shift to the final room. The mirror was standing there innocently, and Harry checked it thoroughly for non-integral magic. It, too, had an alert on it, keyed to someone managing to remove the stone. He still had no idea why Flamel would have given the stone to Dumbledore to guard when Dumbledore was a child in comparison to Flamel’s great age. Maybe the ancient man was senile? After all, it was not as though witches and wizards were immune to that sort of thing.

It was a simple enough matter to bypass the ward and retrieve the stone; one simply needed the right mind set. The stone went into his storage trunk, and Harry now had a way to mint gold if he wished. He could not make actual galleons—only the goblins could do that with any authenticity—but he could make ingots to be sold in the muggle world. All he should need to do was borrow the identity of various persons in the business and use a little more magic to ensure he got cash payment.

When Halloween rolled around Harry went about his day as usual, but skipped the feast that night. He assumed that anyone with half a brain would connect his action with it being the anniversary of his parents’ deaths. He disappeared into his dorm and set about reading—ancient runes, in case anyone should happen to look in on him. And he had a small selection of goodies he had picked up from the kitchens, though going in there was always a bit of a trial, what with how the house-elves frequently acted. It was not until he was startled away from his book by Flitwick that Harry remembered to wonder if things had gone much the same as before.

“Oh, there you are, quite safe,” the diminutive professor said cheerily.

Harry crinkled his brow.

“We had a bit of excitement this evening. Someone caused the rapid growth of innumerable resurrection ferns in the entrance hall and many of the corridors, so students leaving the feast. . . .” Flitwick looked slightly bemused for a moment. “Well, you can imagine the chaos that caused. In any case, there is food in the common room if you’re hungry and breakfast will also be served there. Due to the fuss classes have been canceled for tomorrow.” Flitwick favored him with another smile and left.

Harry was feeling more than a little bemused himself at that information. Oh, not that Flitwick had been so forthcoming, as that Harry rather expected from him, though he did think McGonagall, Sprout, and Snape would likely only have checked to see that he was still breathing. But—? Where was the troll? Resurrection ferns? ‘Derek?’

‘Resurrection ferns show, to those in range, illusions of their dead. The tone of the experience has much to do with a person’s own feelings about the involved deceased, so the results can range from bittersweet to downright nightmarish. The staff has had quite a time getting the students back to their dormitories as so many of them keep breaking down.’

After a few seconds of thought he replied, ‘I see at least that much is the same. Instead of keeping everyone safely in the Great Hall while it was cleaned up they sent them all back, forcing them to run the gauntlet. Honestly. Still, I wonder what made Tom change tactics.’

Kevin looked in at that point, turning his mind to other things.

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He was jolted out of sleep some time after midnight by his ward going off and quickly slipped out of bed. Sleeping charms on his room mates ensured they would not wake up and notice he was missing, and Harry shifted down to a spot just out of sight of the final room to wait for Voldemort. It was about ten minutes later when Quirrell hastened by. Harry waited for several minutes, long enough for Voldemort to become frustrated, then dropped his invisibility and sauntered in. Quirrell was staring at the mirror in perplexity while muttering to himself. Given that it was the only thing in the room that made a certain kind of sense.

“It’s not there,” he said softly, and smirked when Quirrell whirled around to face him.

“How—?” Quirrell sneered. “What do you know, boy? It matters not—I’m going to kill you tonight.” He snapped his fingers and ropes sprang out of thin air, but Harry smoothly stepped out of the way.

“No, I don’t think you will,” he said confidently. “And I told you, it’s not there. This is nothing more than a trap. I have to assume you were smart enough to notice the wards and slid by or disabled them. Dumbledore, for all his supposed brilliance, is a little too sure of himself after all. I mean really. A group of determined first years could get through the rooms and end up here. Do you really think it was anything more than to introduce a delay and give him time to arrive like some white knight to save the day by capturing Voldemort? And the mirror—another delay, while you stand there trying to fathom its riddle.”

“How dare you speak that name,” Quirrell spat, then paused at the sound of a faint whispering sound. The professor started to turn away, back toward the mirror—a precursor to a move that telegraphed itself loudly—then pivoted and snapped off a killing curse with deadly aim.

Harry arched a brow at the man as the green light smashed into him—and did nothing. Inside he was breathing a deep sigh of relief. He believed Derek, but additional confirmation was always nice. “Does poor Quirrell know that forcing him to drink unicorn blood has doomed him? Or did you not bother with that yet?” he hissed. “Maybe you should reassess your goals and priorities—and your beliefs. Maybe I’m not at all what you expected, hm?” He sent a deceptively innocent smile Quirrell’s way, then dashed out of the room, shifting back to the dorm the moment he was out of sight. Let Voldemort make of that what he would; Harry was certainly interested in the outcome.