Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 08

08

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“This world I like, we architects of life. A song, a sigh, developing words that linger. Through fields of green, through open eyes, this for us to see.”— Yes, It Can Happen


Several weeks later (and with appropriate visits to Privet Drive to keep up appearances) he and the elves emerged into a cavern so vast that he simply stood there gaping, drinking in the sight. Before him was a lake which glowed faintly orange, providing enough light to make out several islands off to his right, what looked to be a small city of sorts almost directly ahead of him at the other side of the cavern, and slightly to his left a small . . . mountain . . . of sorts, with more structures in evidence. Only the fact that he had improved his eyesight so drastically allowed him to understand what he was seeing. To be honest, he hadn’t the least clue where to start, though he did decide almost immediately that a separate map should be made. His present location was one of several possible entry points to the cavern so after getting his fill of the view he sat down to enjoy a meal while perusing the map.

“All right,” he eventually said. “One map we’ll keep on with right into that cavern, but I want a new one which covers only the tunnels we’ve come through. I don’t exactly expect to be invaded, but it absolutely will not hurt to have one that can be monitored just in case.”

The two elves nodded agreeably.

“We’ve yet to finish mapping the tunnels so let’s get to that. We may find more entrances based on what we already have visible.”

As it turned out there were five entrances into the cavern, each of them with a dock. The easternmost was very close to the smaller islands, while the one they originally found had the largest dock. Deciding to start smaller Harry had them enter via near the islands, only one of which boasted a substantial structure, with architecture like nothing he had ever before seen. He and the elves wandered through the buildings, making sure everything was mapped, then made a sweep of the other islands. One contained a park of some kind and another a mansion, perhaps.

The city along the northern wall was next—which turned out to be a multitude of almost identical areas, with some of the buildings carved straight out of the rock itself. Neighborhoods, probably, to hold the general populace. The most interesting thing he found in each (though certainly not the most bizarre) was a smallish room with pedestals, upon which were books. The books themselves, however, seemed to have nothing more in them than a moving photograph, but when he went to touch one Saen made a frightened squeaking sound which stayed his hand and caused him to turn and arch a brow at the little being.

“Saen is not sure what that would do to Master Harry. There is something very strange. That is not like a wizarding picture,” Saen said with a shake of his head, “no matter what it appears to be.”

Harry frowned. Given that these books were in every neighborhood he did not imagine they were harmful, but the elf was right to be cautious. The very way they were displayed suggested they were to be used somehow, but to what end was unfathomable. “Let’s keep on for the time being.”

There were four exits from the neighborhoods area as they discovered. Harry sighed and told the elves that another map would be required for those tunnels and that they would come back to them at a later date. That being so they moved on to explore the big island, though Harry called for a rest period the moment they got there. As the elves set up the tent and began to prepare a meal Harry fetched out another sphere and started to record a message.

He yawned when he was done, absently setting the sphere aside for later delivery. Aside from being tired this wholesale exploration was the kind of thing to both bore a person to tears from repetitiveness and leave them awed to the point of speechlessness. It was something that simply could not be appreciated except in person, so he knew that his message to Voldemort would not have the effect the place demanded. He was going to have to bring the man down here eventually, as even seeing images could not compare to being there in person.

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He was patiently waiting in his room at Privet Drive when his letter came. After glancing through it he set it aside on top of the Hogsmeade permission slip he’d had Petunia sign. His elves were busily mapping away in his absence and he was secure in the knowledge that they were bright enough to pop the hell away should they come upon anything which might endanger them.

His next task was going to be collecting every single book in that cavern. He had already purchased an untold amount of sticky notes to be used to note down where each book had come from. There was a building in that underground city which appeared to be a library (and indeed, it held many books with those odd moving pictures), but other buildings had plenty more, not to mention that one spectacular building. It was a marvel of architecture and ridiculously tall, too. Some of the areas were obviously upper class housing (with additional libraries), but others were of a lesser bent, and yet others contained what might once have been businesses.

But the most interesting thing of all, despite all the wonders to be seen in that cavern, was that his status as Master of Death afforded him the priceless gift of languages, just as Derek enjoyed. All those books—some of them had to have actual writing in them. They simply had to.

He glanced at his letter again and sighed. And then for good measure he rolled his eyes. Divination had been ruled out, straight off. Muggle Studies was a joke. Care of Magical Creatures was still asking for trouble, assuming Kettleburn still retired and Hagrid took over. That left Arithmancy and Ancient Runes (both of which he was already grounded in). Aside from the fact that they were required to take at least two electives, those two were at least interesting enough from his research of Before to bother signing up for. At least this time around his decision in this matter had not come about by using the brilliant strategy of being lazy and copying Ron’s choices.

On a side note, his body was now thirteen.

He would go meet his “friends” in a fortnight at Diagon Alley to shop for supplies and then return to the cavern to continue in his self-appointed task. He stuck the letter and permission slip into his trunk and shifted.

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You are never going to believe this,” came the excited voice of Potter. “I really think I’m onto something here. These people were capable of creating entire worlds! Can you imagine it? If I can get the hang of how this ‘special’ form of the language works. . . . Wow! Well, there is the small detail of needing the right materials and all that, but still. There may still be some around here, and if not, I’m pretty sure one of the books mentioned where to find what I’d need.

Then again, I have an enormous amount of worlds to check over—they called them Ages—without actually visiting yet, of course. That would be more than a little premature at this point. But even so, the very idea is fairly exciting. From what I can tell so far the upper class and guild sorts were very into having privately-owned family retreat Ages, like gardens and whatnot tailored to their specific desires.

The unwashed masses were able to visit public Ages, though I expect that only makes sense given they were living primarily in a cavern miles underground, and that’s discounting the fact that this place is strangely compelling and beautiful. I was able to find out that they were not native to this world so heaven only knows how many they exist on or where they came from, and there seems to have existed debate as to whether they were creating worlds or simply tapping into an infinite possible worlds by the methodology they used.

All strictly controlled, you understand. Eighteen guilds covered a number of things, including this creation process, another to ‘maintain’ them, and so on. Think of it like an apprentice system of sorts. Anyway, I’ll be sorting away for some time to see what’s available and if anything is an Earth parallel. Maybe I should acquire some protective gear for the future? You, too, since I expect you’d be coming along. It’s not like we can do anything definite until you ditch your host so he can do the boring professor work and you get to do interesting things with me.

Because really, I’m sure you understand that there’s no way I’m letting him in on this knowledge. Not without, say, an unbreakable vow. Unfortunately, while you’re attached to him you can’t be one of the participants and it’s possible you may get caught up in the bond itself, and it’s not like there’s anyone I’d trust to be a participant except you, so you see the problem here.

Anyway, right. I have a lot of work to do before the school year starts. As an aside, if you happened to be hanging around Diagon Alley on the fourteenth, say around ten in the morning, you might find yourself amused. But if you plan to be in the Leaky Cauldron I would suggest sitting near the entrance to the alley rather than muggle London or even the fireplace. And that reminds me, I really ought to check to see if that Philosopher’s Stone I stole is even real. I’m still having trouble believing that Flamel would be senile enough to let a child (in comparison to his alleged great age) guard it for him. Later.

He would have wondered that too had he not been so insanely focused back then. And rather desperate. He probably should thank Potter for snapping him back to reality with a healthy dose of rationality. Far, far into the future perhaps. But if that stone was real it would make getting a proper replacement body so much simpler. Even so, he would still have to deal with time on his hands if he was embodied and had no place to go during the school year, not until Potter was ready to pull a vanishing act, anyway.

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Quirrell was situated at a table near the back entrance when Harry arrived at the Leaky Cauldron. Voldemort watched as Potter glanced down the short hallway leading to the public loos before turning his attention to the fireplace, where a blonde girl had just tumbled out of the floo. The girl spotted Potter almost immediately and nearly skipped over to him, and the two were shortly joined by two boys. After a round of greetings the group headed for the gateway, Potter surreptitiously winking at the back of Quirrell’s head before passing out of sight.

He was wondering how long he would have to wait for the action of the day when his thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a plump red-haired matron and that Weasley girl from the hallway Potter had eyed. The girl swept her gaze over the interior of the main room, a somewhat anticipatory look on her face, then looked at her mother anxiously.

Quirrell cast an eavesdropping charm in time to hear the girl say, “You don’t think we missed him, do you?”

“Of course not, dear. Let’s go sit down and give it a bit more time. He did say ‘about ten’ so. . . .”

Voldemort eyed them curiously through the thin veil of Quirrell’s turban, wondering what was about to happen. Shrieks and screams from the muggle side of the building alerted him to a problem, but he kept Quirrell right where he was, even if it might seem a little suspicious that one of the patrons was incurious. Seconds later the front wall exploded inward in a hail of shattered stonework and dust as a large truck plowed through it and several tables, and came to a deafening halt when it slammed into the fireplace, utterly destroying it.

Then the screaming started inside, too.

Tom, the owner, came barreling out from behind the bar, clutching at his gleaming pate. Voldemort could not see the man’s face, but he could guess what emotions were displayed. It took a while for the screaming to stop and for the dust to settle, certainly long enough for aurors to show up. One of those carefully picked his way to the vehicle and wrenched open the door.

Inside was a rather burly man slumped over the wheel, but the strange aspect to anyone watching was the sound of snoring. The auror reached out and warily shook the man’s shoulder, causing the driver to snort and jerk awake suddenly.

“Eh? What—? Aw, hell,” the man almost whined. “That damn medication was supposed to fix my narcolepsy! I’m out of a job for sure now.”

The auror seemed not to know what to do under the circumstances, given the way he looked at his fellow aurors with confusion. He probably did not understand what the man was talking about.

Voldemort nudged Quirrell into getting up and approaching while he turned his focus to the reverse so he could see through the man’s eyes. “Forgive my intrusion,” Quirrell said hesitantly, “but I am familiar with the term this muggle used. Narcolepsy is a medical condition wherein the sufferer unavoidably falls asleep regardless of circumstances, making it very dangerous. If I’m understanding this right he dropped off while driving and was unable to avoid . . . well . . . this. It appears this was something on the order of a freakishly bizarre accident.”

The auror blinked stupidly, then looked back at the truck. Emblazoned along the side of the body in large, handsome letters was the word “Guinness”. Then he looked at the driver, who was muttering to himself.

A short time later the driver had been obliviated, the truck removed from the remains of the fireplace, and both had been dumped off somewhere in London. The aftermath of the accident was bad enough simply in terms of property damage, but then people realized there were two fatalities, both with red hair, and that was truly the only way to identify them as the bodies had been smashed to paste between unforgiving metal and stone.

It seemed as though the Weasley family was in for another bad year.

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Harry could feel the amusement coming from Voldemort. He and his companions had just exited Gringotts and become aware that something odd was going on down at the other end of the alley. “We should probably avoid that,” he suggested. “Well, unless anyone thinks that fangirling a celebrity is a fun idea.”

“Huh?” Neville said.

“Well I don’t know that’s what it is, but that commotion would make sense if someone like Gilderoy Lockhart was visiting the Leaky for whatever reason, don’t you think?”

“Oh. Yeah. What is fangirling?”

Kevin shook his head and glanced over his list again. “We can just shop from here down.”

“Sounds like a logical course of action,” Luna replied with no aura of weirdness.

On that note they happily enough began their shopping, debating whether blobfish were disgusting or just unfortunate. It was not until several hours later that they had worked their way to the Leaky Cauldron again and by then most signs of the accident had been cleared away and cleaned up. The people there, however, were still gossiping away in semi-hushed voices, cluing in his heretofore clueless friends about the recent tragedy.

Neville and Kevin looked stricken, but Luna had a very peculiar almost-smile on her face, something that made Harry extremely curious. But again, not yet so curious as to pry without her consent or knowledge. Still, he was starting to hope she would be one of those willing to join the exodus. A short time later he had said good-bye to his friends and returned to the cavern.

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So do you think if it’s possible, if we can offer to them an Age of their own, that the goblins would ratify a binding treaty to fairly administer banks at our new home?”

Quirrell’s head tilted slightly. Harry thought it was interesting and amusing that both Quirrell and Voldemort tilted the same way, based on their perspective, so if Quirrell’s head tilted to the right—Quirrell’s right—then it was the man doing it. Tilted to the left—Voldemort’s right—then it meant Voldemort had prompted the almost unconscious action.

I am going to presume that you speak of an Age for them so that this warring race would no longer have much cause to war against us, as a very ripe incentive to treat with us fairly.”

Never let it be said that Tom Riddle was stupid. “Well, in many instances, we’ve given them every reason to war. But yes, that was what I was thinking. Assuming this works out as I’d like it to I could provide them the means to access this planet as well, but that rather depends on whether it’s a subset of their race which goes or all of them. If they all came with us, from around the world, then they would have very little reason to ever return, after all.

Voldemort made an agreeable sound. “What of the stone you stole?”

Harry blinked at the abrupt change of subject. “It’s a fake. Given that I must assume it was simply another detail in an elaborate trap for you and that Flamel isn’t senile as he was made to appear. However, I am fairly confident I can figure out a way to create one for myself, though I’d rather not go into the details at this stage of our . . . relationship.” In point of fact he had every intention of rifling through Dumbledore’s mind to see if he knew where Flamel lived. And if he did it should be simple enough to shift there and ‘liberate’ the process straight from Flamel’s memories.

Is that what we’re calling it these days?”

We have to call it something,” he replied with an offhand shrug. “If I could provide a real one will you be able to use it to return to your own body? I assume that is why you wished to acquire it.

There is a ritual I can have done that, while it does not require the use of the stone, would be greatly enhanced by it. Unfortunately, as my own body was destroyed that night I have no choice but to create one anew. As such it would be more of a golem I would inhabit. Use of the stone, however, would make the body real, if that makes any sense.

Harry thought back to the previous timeline and the body Voldemort had ended up in, with its snake-like taint, and wondered if the man had been sterile among other things due to the manner of its construction and how it might be that it was merely a garment for a soul rather than a home. He could see, dimly, how the Elixir of Life might change things drastically. “Interesting,” he eventually said. “Would this ritual by any chance involve bone of the father, blood of the enemy, and flesh of the servant?”

Voldemort sighed faintly.

I’ll assume it is, then.” And then, wondering again about the results, he added, “Does the quality of the servant matter, and the blood of an enemy?”

“. . . I am not certain I understand the thrust of your question.”

Meaning, do you take on any of the qualities or characteristics of those involved? If you used a stupid person would that affect your intelligence? Or a coward? Someone with a disease? Or. . . ?”

Ah, I see now what you mean. The ritual is already adulterated to some extent by the inclusion of my father,” Voldemort said. “As to the other ingredients’, I confess to being unsure. That being so I expect I would be best served by choosing carefully.” He eyed Harry for a moment.

Harry, for his part, laughed at the look. “I don’t qualify. I am neither your enemy nor your servant. I do have some ideas as to who might work, though. It rather depends on when you plan to do the ritual.

Voldemort exhaled another slight sigh and said, “And just when did I do so the last time?”

Oh, you used an event during the next school year as a cover to abduct a student to fill the role of enemy,” Harry said casually. “I suppose you could use it again, though it would mean separating from your host this coming summer and spending almost an entire year in a construct. It would make a lot more sense to just regain your body this summer and consider using the event as a way to mess with people’s minds. But if you actually need that year because of some detail I missed, which, by the way, included a lot of snake venom—”

Stop,” Voldemort more or less ordered. “I know exactly what ritual you speak of and yes, it would be necessary because it takes more than a couple of months for the construct to be ready, never mind the potion involved. That does not mean I would have to suffer so for an entire year. I could certainly be back in my body well before the conclusion of the next school year. Probably by Yule break, actually, assuming I had competent assistance.”

Harry considered that and slowly grinned. “Oh, well, that opens up possibilities, now doesn’t it. I know of someone very much devoted to you who could provide that assistance. As for an enemy. . . . Well, I admit to thinking perhaps Dumbledore’s very paranoid associate, as it would greatly annoy and possibly inconvenience the man. But if you don’t like that idea I’m sure you can think of someone who will.

And this devoted assistant?”

Ah, I would prefer not to mention his name just yet. Though, now that I think about it, I can think of one other person who might suit as an enemy. It would be a sort of delicious irony, assuming I even understand the meaning of the word correctly.”

Voldemort frowned at him.

There’s no point in saying just yet since we have the rest of the school year to go. Perhaps in May? Then you could see about getting things ready for your separation from your host, and I would even be willing to collect the two people I refer to. It might cause a few waves when one of them goes missing, but I sincerely doubt it would be possible for anyone to track them down were I involved.”

You have such a high opinion of yourself,” Voldemort snarked.

Yes,” Harry admitted. “But I don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m infallible. Even the wisest, most intelligent being in the universe can and will make mistakes—not that I claim to be that being.”

It was not long after when Harry peeked into Dumbledore’s mind long enough to ascertain that the man had no idea where Flamel was, so he bent his pride enough to ask Derek. A quick trip under the cover of invisibility one fine evening was all it took to gather the information he wanted.

So, I know what to do,” he told Voldemort a few days later, “but I have to warn you it’s going to take nearly a year. I’ll have to leave the school every month for several hours in order to move things along, and that’s after I gather the required materials.”

Since you have already made it known that this will benefit me it behooves me to ask if there are any I could acquire for this endeavor.”

Harry smiled at the, in his opinion, horribly awkward wording. “It’s probably a good thing that a mere three people know how to make one since some of the ingredients are highly illegal. If the general public knew what Flamel had to do to create a Philosopher’s Stone they’d have lynched him.”

Voldemort eyed him curiously.

Someone obviously has a twisted sense of humor. One of the ingredients is the lifeblood of ten irredeemable humans. Magical ones, that is. Suppose that means we’ll have to be hunting for twisted, sick, and utterly remorseless criminals.” He paused for a moment in thought, then brightened. “I think Dolores Umbridge would do nicely as one of them. In any case, it’ll take one month per person used for this, so it should be ready for the summer if I start soon.

I can provide a location for it,” Voldemort said after a moment. “As this will benefit me greatly I should be involved. I can also provide some of the sacrifices from my minions, those who are, as you would put it, psychotic whackjobs, and unsuitable for exodus.

Excellent. Though I can manage the location personally. Right at this moment nobody is going to find it. But you’ll know once you’re reembodied. If nothing else, the stone can be used more for the Elixir of Life properties than anything else past that point.

Oh? You’d like to live forever, as well?

Harry paused, pursing his lips slightly. “I don’t think,” he said slowly, “that I need to worry about that. But it would be useful for you, and our developing partnership.

Voldemort frowned at him and declined to ask the obvious question.

It shouldn’t be a problem for me to start work on the stone as soon as we have the first sacrifice, and getting Umbridge won’t be an issue. That gives you time to decide which of your minions will be chosen. I’ll only have to visit once a month to move things along, and it shouldn’t be a problem to disappear off the school’s radar for long enough each time. If you can guarantee a victim each month for me to use I can get started almost immediately using Umbridge.

That will not be problematic. After Umbridge you can use Bella. She is no longer of any use to me as it stands.

He nodded, pleased with that offering. “I’ll just set up a room, fetch Umbridge, and get started, then.

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One of the places he had found in the underground city was something akin to an office. Oddly, there was no normal way to enter it, unless one counted the windows, and given the sheerness of the drop beneath he rather discounted that idea. It made him think, for some reason, of those strange books with the wizarding-style pictures. The only reason he could get into it at all was due to use of a telescope giving him a clear enough picture to apparate or shift to. All in all, it was certainly large enough for the creation of a Philosopher’s Stone.

After he set everything up he went hunting for Umbridge. His house-elves would see to things during his absence. She, as it turned out, was at her home (the address of which was found easily enough by scanning a few people at the ministry) listening to music while sitting on an overstuffed couch and eating bon-bons. He was disgusted to realize that her home was even more revolting in terms of cat paraphernalia and décor. There were a half dozen cats alone on the sofa with her, never mind the others wandering around.

It was at about that time that Harry realized he had never tried to shift anyone with him. Apparation at that distance was out of the question, and he rather thought it was much too far underground as well. With a faint shrug he sent a stunner at her and watched in satisfaction as Umbridge fell sideways into what looked to be an uncomfortable position. If he couldn’t shift with her he could always return and portkey her to the entrance, then levitate her the rest of the way while he flew.

He shifted; she went with him. Pleased, he dumped her into her place for her part in the ritual. A quick spell paralyzed her, so that even when the stunner wore off she would not be able to move about. The alchemical process involved in making a stone required that her blood slowly drain into the cauldron set up for as long as possible during that month. Thus he inserted a tap into a vein at her wrist and draped her hand over the edge.

A look off to the side showed that his elves had acquired plenty of blood replenishing potions, and he already knew they would keep her fed, hydrated, and clean—and probably silenced. “Right,” he muttered. She would feel the whole time that her life was slowly bleeding away, and despair. Only magic would keep her going, that and the house-elves. And when her time was up he would drain everything she had left . . . and move on to the next sacrifice.

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School was so incredibly boring. The ride in had been more of the usual and the opening feast was marked mostly by Harry’s continuing anger at seeing Dumbledore up there at the head table. Quirrell looked even more confident sitting up there, but that was hardly a surprise. He wondered if the man even enjoyed teaching, because he would be stuck in that position for some time. It would not matter after Harry left the school, whenever that might be, and it would be best that the curse’s hiatus end, giving the man one year more, at best, and assuming he even cared to continue. And should he behave himself after Voldemort stopped needing him as a host, it was entirely possible he would join the exodus.

Harry spent most of his time (when not occupied by friends, or classes—and he could practically sleepwalk through those) taking care of his in-progress Philosopher’s Stone and becoming absolutely certain of his command of this new language, named after the people in question: D’ni. The higher form of the language, used in the creation of Ages, was exacting and very specific, but he thought he might actually have a handle on just how those descriptive books were made. If nothing else it made it very clear to him what those strange books were in each of the neighborhoods: linking books.

A descriptive book “described” an Age—literally wrote it into existence—and could be used to actually link to said Age, but linking books were created as a way to still make that jump while leaving the original in safety. Multiple linking books could be made for the same Age, each transporting the user to a different location, so in a way they were rather like portkeys. Unlike portkeys, however, they could not be used to jump around within the same Age; they could only be activated from a different Age. The linking books also lacked the “guts” of the descriptive book for an Age, so that no one using one could tamper with the composition of the original.

‘It should be easy enough to explain the concept to Voldemort,’ he thought. ‘And if he’s as brilliant as everyone seems to think he shouldn’t have too much trouble learning both forms of the language. Maybe together we could work out how to “describe” this planet so as to create a duplicate? That’s assuming I can’t find the descriptive book for it. Derek did say they weren’t native. And let’s face it, it’d be a heck of a lot easier to do it that way than to create a duplicate Earth without benefit of magic and transport billions of humans.’

As things went Voldemort wasn’t so bad at picking things up, though it was a mite awkward given that Quirrell had to be involved, even if he was always facing away from the action. When Harry wasn’t present Voldemort had to take control of the body and suppress Quirrell’s consciousness. The less that man saw of any of it the better, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, Voldemort could not take potions to improve his learning rate and so forth, as he could not be affected in that manner, only his host.

In the meantime he had, at one point, ducked out long enough to lurk during a Wizengamot meeting, mainly to see exactly which persons on that august body it could better do without. That session produced a handful of people who could be used for the ritual, and offerings from Voldemort would round out the necessary number. And as much as he might have liked to use Fenrir Greyback, a ‘tainted’ wizard would not work. While he was there he also stopped by the Department of Mysteries and ‘liberated’ a few things which caught his interest.

For fun Harry had taken to amusing himself by attempting to drive Trelawney insane. The very first thing he did was sneak into the Divination classroom and plant a few bugs so he could keep track of what happened during class time. He planted more at the head table, for those infrequent times Trelawney decided her “inner eye” showed her joining the rest of the staff for meals. And accordingly, Harry’s first efforts in concert with listening in were fairly mild.

Trelawney had that awful habit of making random predictions and the fawning masses (such as Lavender and her ilk) were all too happy to shoehorn events into those predictions. After Trelawney made a rather vague prediction at poor Neville regarding clumsiness Harry ensured that Neville not only had a clumsy moment, but also ruined his wand beyond repair in doing so. ‘Take that, Augusta,’ he thought to himself. ‘Now you’ll have to get him a proper wand.’ A look at Neville’s dismay and upset made him feel a bit remorseful, but even with the confidence the boy had steadily been gaining from being sorted into Hufflepuff, his wand work was still sub-par. He deserved his own wand, not his father’s.