Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 05

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05

Harry was pleased that their “defense” class—more aptly named Offensive and Defensive Magic—started out with a clear message that just about anything could be used as such, though they would be learning the traditional spells and tactics. Perhaps they would get the other stuff as extra credit work, assuming they did that sort of thing at Durmstrang. He was struck again by his professor’s opening statements in Charms class, then Transfiguration. Each class involving wand work began with an overview that made it very clear what constituted a type of spell, though the definition was understandably a bit fuzzy for offense and defense.

Yes, they were learning the theory behind each spell they were to perform, but there was also always a discussion about how a spell could be improperly used. Viktor was correct about how their teachers expected them to do more than rote memorization; they wanted critical thinking. It was a wonder that Durmstrang had such a reputation for teaching the Dark Arts; apparently anyone who did not follow the model of general British-European thinking was to be feared and slandered and possibly even outlawed. Perhaps it had something to do with Merlin, regardless of what the man had actually been like. His home country did have rather a bit in the way of “British is Best” mentality.

After all, Merlin might be part of the British mythos from a thousand years or so back, and his legend overshadowed quite a lot of what came before—certainly for the Britons—enough that many blithely brushed away the fact that there had been witches and wizards in places like Egypt thousands of years earlier, but unless Merlin was secretly an alien with untold powers (none of which the current populace seemed to be capable of) and had literally created the “modern” forms of magic. . . .

Harry rolled his eyes at the thought and set to work on his homework load for the evening. Viktor was once again with them to lend a helping hand if necessary, answering questions with a rather absentminded air.

“I’m having trouble with this one,” Dudley said, sounding a bit frustrated. “I’m supposed to find three ways to misuse Lumos, but I can only think of two.”

“And those are?” Viktor asked.

“Er, to blind someone, possibly permanently, and to aid in depriving someone of sleep.”

Viktor nodded approvingly. “Those are good responses. Were you aware that there are people who are allergic to sunlight or are afraid of it?”

Harry paused at that; although his homework targeted different charms, something in the memories he had gained from Tom spoke up. “Heliophobia?”

Viktor nodded again.

“Okay,” said Dudley. “So you could, in theory, torture either one of those with the charm. Thanks.”

Harry finished off his own Charms work and moved onto Transfiguration. And that, unlike Charms, had started off with a long overview of the course all the way through seventh year. They were given to understand that they would start small, transfiguring between similar items, until much later on they could transfigure just about anything to anything else with far fewer restrictions. Professor Klein had likened it to flexing a muscle, both of casting and knowledge.

To Harry that only made sense given the lectures Valdis had subjected him to topic of gaining proficiency in schools of magicka. The more you used a spell—Ice Spike from Destruction, for example—the more you became attuned to Destruction spells overall and how it felt and what you were thinking, though gains in experience lessened over time unless you learned and began using a higher level spell in that same school. The spells would become stronger and more efficient with practice.

He could understand, with that example as a guide, how it made some kind of sense that they had finally begun practical lessons by trying to transfigure between a matchstick and a toothpick. The same material, similar sizes, with a difference in shape and the relatively minor obstacle of the coating at the end of a friction match. Later lessons would incorporate the same basic concepts in a slightly different manner, such as a hedgehog to a pincushion based on relative size, spikiness (though the “spikes” for a pincushion were obviously separate), and so on. Once you gained proficiency, things were a bit less restrictive. It was the concepts you were trying to etch into your mind, the mindset, and the feeling of doing it.

His homework asked for misuses of Transfiguration in a general way, as opposed to the more specific examples for Charms. That being so, Harry put down ideas such as transfiguring an item into a copy of something else so you could steal the original, leave the copy, and leave no one the wiser until the spell wore off, or muggle baiting by doing something like transfiguring some minor part in the engine of someone’s car to cause it to fail to work or even possibly ruins other parts or catch fire, depending on what you did. Even he had heard of the old sugar in the petrol tank “prank”.

A part of him wondered how many students took these lessons and examples as a way to go right ahead and misuse magic, but Durmstrang did seem to be trying to bash its students over the head with the concepts of ethics and intent, so. . . .

“I heard you’re on the quidditch team,” Dudley said conversationally, still busy writing away.

“Since my first year.”

“That’s different from how Hogwarts does it, then,” Harry said. “I understand you can’t try out until your second year and their teams are based on their houses. How does it work here? Because I’ve not seen anything yet about it on the notice boards.”

“Anyone wishing to try for a spot on one of the teams must first show they can actually fly a broom, so for some students that means learning to use one. Not everyone who has the inclination has had the opportunity. So, that is first, and once it is done there is a general tryout for positions, with members of the teams watching. How well or badly a team did in the matches the previous year determines who gets first pick of the students trying out.”

“Oh, oh!” Dudley said. “I get it. It’s like draft picks for muggle sports teams. Worst goes first to pick, then up to best, and back to worst and around until they have everyone they want. And then the teams can arrange for trades.”

Viktor looked slightly puzzled by the wording, but still nodded. “Yes. As for the teams themselves there are four, which works out to six matches per school year. Any student can be picked, but first and second years are usually reserves unless they show phenomenal talent. But since reserves make up a secondary team they get plenty of experience during practices.”

“And how often do those happen?” Dudley persisted.

“Full practices are Saturday and Sunday in a block of two to four hours, so two teams have Saturday, one morning and one afternoon, and the other two on Sunday. Additional practices are during the week, but only one per team and only for two hours. This is a school so learning comes first, not sport. Games are done in sets of two and take the place of a full practice day.”

“So, the teams playing might play on Saturday and the other two practice Sunday, so they aren’t having both a practice and a game the same weekend,” Harry guessed.

“Correct. The notices should go up soon.”

Dudley still had that look in his eye, making Harry think his cousin wanted to try out. “Which team are you on?” his cousin asked.

“Falk. The others are Adler, Szarka, and Utkin.” On noticing the politely confused looks he was getting Viktor added, “Named after the original captains, back when the school was established and the teams formed.”

“Ah,” Harry mumbled. He wondered, given that Viktor was not exactly what anyone would call handsome yet still seemed to have plenty of girls giggling around him, if Dudley thought playing quidditch would increase his own chances of being a babe magnet later on. Then again, they were only eleven and maybe Dudley hadn’t had any thoughts like that yet. Perhaps he just wanted to look “cool” and have the admiration of his peers. There was a paucity of sport options in the wizarding world, after all, and Europeans did not go in for quodpot.

That night, as he was lying there trying to get to sleep, he was surprised to realize his thoughts were wandering in the direction of his brother. According to his mother Edward was arrogant and too much like his father at that age, so Harry expected he would not get along with his only sibling. Yet he wondered how Edward was doing at Hogwarts. Did he have real friends, or just hangers-on? Was he doing all right in his classes and with his professors? Was he already making enemies?

*

He was going to have to have a long talk with Tom once they got home. It was the end of their third year and Harry was already packed. He was overseeing to make sure Dudley had found all of his things to put in his trunk. It was amazing how things could get misplaced in a room the size of theirs. One would think there were secret cubbies everywhere and nasty-minded little non-garden gnomes hiding things in peculiar places the way Harry was frequently amazed at where belongings turned up. By the time they had found every last item and were ready to go it was an hour past when they should have left, which meant (more than likely) that their mothers might start yelling about how they did worry.

And they did, but Harry was wise enough (or was that devious enough) to let Dudley shoulder the blame. It had mostly been his fault anyway. His mother and aunt eventually wound down and then the hugs were given out, trunks were shuffled off to bedrooms and opened so that their clothing could be removed and diverted to the laundry area, and then everyone sat down for some tea and nibbles and a nice long chat.

It was later on, after Tom arrived, that Harry managed to get him and his mother off away from Petunia and Dudley. They were seated outside near the archery area when Harry began to explain, with some embarrassment, the problem he was noticing. “It’s not coming as easily as it used to,” he said, “the wizarding magic. I could do everything they taught this year, but I’m having to work harder than Dudley does at it.”

Tom arched a considering brow as his mother frowned.

“Paarthurnax said I was different, I remember, but I admit I was hoping it was just the wand movements.”

“And yet you have had no issues thus far with the aetherial spells.”

Harry nodded at Tom. “Right. With enough practice, anyway. Valdis did say it took a lot of practice to gain proficiency, because practice and understanding and feeling were all part of it. I’ve been applying that to the wizarding magic, too, but it’s not quite the same thing, though it is helping.”

Tom eyed Lily for a moment. “There is a test we can do. . . .”

“That you didn’t bother to mention until now because. . . ?” she said, with just a touch of acid in her voice.

“Because unless Harry experienced any difficulties there was no particular point. In some ways that would be like shoving a book detailing diseases and other medical conditions at a hypochondriac and expecting them to not panic over the several dozen issues they suddenly think they have. However, now that Harry has recognized that something is, indeed, amiss, the test I refer to may explain or rule out one possible cause.”

Harry rather thought his mother did not look entirely satisfied by that answer, an impression only compounded when she drawled, “Right.”

Tom looked frustrated and on the verge of rolling his eyes. “Let me put it this way. We all already knew that something was off, but had no real idea what. We’ve never particularly discussed it, either, and for good reason. There was no point in putting ideas into Harry’s head,” he practically hissed. “There was no point in throwing out speculative ideas and leading him, however inadvertently, toward falsehood and the possibility of a self-imposed restriction.”

Harry blinked, then said, “Oh, I see. Like how you only heard part of a prophecy and jumped to conclusions and—”

“Yes, Harry,” Tom said a bit sharply.

“All right,” Lily said slowly, “I see your point. And if I’d spent too much time thinking about it I might have done or said something to—whatever.” She fluttered a hand around.

“Precisely.”

“So this test?”

“Is up to Harry. It would show us his mean core strength. Wizards replenish spent magic in part from our environment, and the size of that core helps determine what level of spell casting we can aspire to. Aetherial spells rely entirely on an outside source—the stars if we are to believe what Valdis has told us, as conduits to our plane of existence from the aetherial one. Assuming this to be correct, a wizard is limited by what he was born with, but can make up some of any ‘deficiency’ by knowledge, training, and finesse.

“There is also the issue of puberty, and Harry has already gone through the worst of the initial surge. The next change, as you know, comes at around sixteen for females and seventeen for males, but we have several more years yet for that. So this test would give us some idea of what’s going on, though it is mildly unfortunate we do not have the results from before.”

“And there was no reason to before, because everyone thought he was a squib,” Lily said sadly. “I wonder by what process the system works at Hogwarts. I know that children who express magic in the UK are added to the book, but. . . .”

“Born with, incidents of accidental magic (or thought to be accidental), and being present in the country at the time the letters are set to go out,” Tom replied. “In other words, getting in the book initially is not enough to guarantee a letter, not unless a child has been specifically tagged. As an example, a child like Edward Potter would have been tagged due to his presumed importance, in part so that should he be, say, kidnapped and removed to a different country, a letter could still be generated and give officials a clue as to where the child is. In theory, anyway. I’ve no doubt there are ways to fool the Book of Souls.”

“So a child born here, with magic, would probably not get an invitation if their family had moved to another country prior to that point,” Harry said, looking to Tom for confirmation.

“Correct. It would be assumed they would be invited by a school in their current location.”

Harry eyed the man suspiciously. “So did you actually do anything to the book after we moved here? Because based on what you just said you wouldn’t have needed to.”

Tom gifted him with a rare smile. “It was not a necessity, but I did anyway, just to be certain.”

“Right. So about this test?” Lily prodded.

“Give me a little time to gather the requirements and we can do so,” he replied, his gaze switching to Harry, who nodded.

*

He felt a lot like crying—or part of him did. Part of him was desperate to sob and wail like a heartbroken animal. His natural reserve forbade that. His intellect pointed out quite ruthlessly that there was no point blubbering over the results, especially when hard work would mitigate some of the problem, and he was blessed (or cursed?) with the ability to not only use aetherial spells, a form of magic he could not be disarmed of, but also magic in the form of the draconic language. He was also receiving an education in more mundane skills, something that most people in the wizarding world avoided unless it was, perhaps, the noble art of fencing.

‘So,’ he told himself briskly, ‘I will just have to work that much harder at it. I’m already doing something similar for aetherial spells and I’ll keep applying that methodology to the wizarding ones. I’m sure if I ask Tom he will agree to help me.’ On that note he straightened his back, lifted his chin, and walked off to find the man and present his request.

“Of course,” Tom said straight away. “Anything else would be foolish. I’m sure you understand that it will mean an exhausting amount of effort, more so than just taking up the majority of your summer. If your mother approves we can both simplify and complicate things with regard to the amount of time you will need to allocate to this undertaking.”

Harry almost nodded immediately, but instead sat back to actually think about what Tom had just said. He was hinting at something, obviously, and his gaze drifted off to the right as he rifled through his mind’s ‘database’ to figure out what the man could mean. Eventually he looked up. “A time turner?”

Tom graced him with a pleased smile. “Yes. One constructed to do more than just a few hours. If you truly wish to push the limits of your wizarding magic you will need enough time to practice your control and finesse for each spell you already know, spells that will be taught in upcoming years, and to also have time to rest from these exertions.”

“So, in theory, I could spend a day at school and a duplicated day here, or in a special area of the school.”

“I think spending duplicated days here would probably be excessive. However, it would make sense for the weekends, at the least. If this goes the way I think it will, based on your mean core strength, you will need to start learning spells well ahead of when they would be taught. I can get that list from Karkaroff. You and I can go over a selection each weekend, here, and the rest of the week you can practice at the school. I will have to ‘visit’ during this break to select or create a suite of rooms for you there, ward it, and make sure it is adequately provisioned.” Tom paused, his eyes narrowing slightly. “I think, also, a house-elf would be wise, in the event that something untoward should occur.”

“That sounds reasonable,” he said slowly. There was a reason why children were not supposed to practice their spells without supervision, so the addition of a house-elf to alert Tom to a need for intervention made sense.

“I will speak to your mother, then. On to other things,” Tom said briskly. “I suppose you and your cousin would like to attend the Quidditch World Cup.”

Harry laughed. “Dudley might well faint from sheer excitement. I think it’s an all right game, though I expect that professionals would put on a better show than student players.”

“You will be pleased to know I have already arranged for tickets. I have heard far too much from the ladies about your cousin’s excess of admiration for the sport. I could have obtained top box seats, but decided that might prove to be troublesome in the event that your estranged father and his cronies, not to mention your brother, would be seated there. Even so, you have four tickets in a very good location, a private box not far off center.”

“On the Bulgarian side, one assumes,” he said teasingly.

“Yes, of course.” Tom arched a tolerant brow at him. “Heaven forfend you should sit closer to the Irish goals. Krum might well crash into the stands in protest.”

Harry snickered, then sobered. “It’s a bit sad. It’s his last year and I’m going to miss him. He’s been a good mentor to us, even with all this quidditch stuff going on. I know he’s good and all, but I still have trouble believing he was picked for his country’s team.” The look on Tom’s face in response made him very suspicious. “What do you know that I don’t?”

“Ah, according to my sources, something that has not happened in hundreds of years. Specifically, the Triwizard Tournament.”

Harry searched his acquired memories. “Because of the death toll, right. They’re having one this coming year? And you think Viktor might decide to try?”

“Well, even though this is his NEWT year, he does have what looks to be a promising career already. He can probably afford to not be as diligent as usual in his schoolwork. And, should he decide to enter, he would be at Hogwarts for the year, not Durmstrang, as the tournament is being held there.”

“Ugh!” he replied inelegantly, not at all pleased about the idea that he might not have his mentor any longer. True, he and/or Dudley would probably be mentoring this year, but he had become very fond of Viktor and admired him a fair amount. “How does that work? Do some of our professors go to teach them on-site, or do the students who go have to integrate into the Hogwarts classes?”

“It is my understanding that a selection of the more widely-educated professors will accompany the contingent of students who wish to make the attempt and continue their education without having to rely on the substandard teaching at Hogwarts. You know very well by now the differences.”

He made a face. Yes, he did know, based on a comparison of Tom’s memories of Hogwarts against his own at Durmstrang. “And I suppose we’re not supposed to find out until after we get to school. When would they be leaving to go to Hogwarts?”

“Right before Samhain, and they will be staying until the end of the year.”

Harry sighed and nodded. He would just have to take the example Viktor had shown them and use it when he mentored whomever he was assigned to. He just hoped he didn’t get anyone too jumpy or excitable. Maybe they took personality into account? But then how would they know the personalities of the incoming students? Harry shrugged a little and said, “So, okay, you’ll talk to mum?”

“Indeed,” came the ready response, and then Tom took his leave.

Tom returned a few hours later to explain how things would work and that he would see him the next day, so Harry spent the rest of his day generally being lazy. After breakfast he joined Tom out back in the practice area—the entire property was heavily warded, so it was not as though anyone would notice—and sat down.

“The simplest explanation of how this will work is to say we’ll start from the beginning, from first year spells, and you will improve your casting of them. Not in sheer power, obviously, but your control,” Tom explained. “The more control you have, the greater your finesse, the fewer visible signs there will be that a spell is even being cast.” Tom turned slightly and cast something at the nearest target.

Harry watched intently and realized that all he could discern was a ripple in the air. Whatever Tom had cast—he could not tell because the target showed no visible reaction—could not be determined by the passage of magic itself, because there was no colour to give him a hint. “And that’s control.”

“Yes. Consider the light usually given off by a spell to be waste, or leakage. It’s not like your aetherial spells, which are always going to be colourful. A wizarding spell you have taken the time to master is almost invisible. A side effect of that mastery is a stronger spell for the same amount of effort. You may never be able to cast higher level spells, such as the Patronus, the Fidelius, or even the Unforgivables, but with hard work you can make the absolute most of what you are capable of casting. Creativity also plays a part in this.”

“Like how they always want examples at Durmstrang about how spells can be misused, which can be further twisted into how to use spells against their stated purpose.”

“Such as?” Tom challenged.

“Um . . . you could use the summoning charm to try for someone’s eyeballs. A drought charm might be capable of dehydrating a person to the point that they start throwing up. Assuming the location is right a tickling charm could kill someone by falling, or if strong enough it could cause them to pass out. A stretching jinx—”

“You obviously have the idea,” Tom interrupted. “So, make a list, pick a spell, and start practicing.”

He nodded and got up, ready to get a notebook and pencil, then paused. “So,” he said teasingly, “does this mean you never mastered the killing curse?”

*

Harry stood up properly from his landing crouch and looked around as Dudley scrambled up to help his mother to her feet. To the side were two tired and grumpy-looking wizards, both dressed as muggles, though very inexpertly. One wore a tweed suit with thigh-length galoshes and his colleague a kilt and a poncho. They very obviously failed at understanding muggle fashion.

Lily picked up the portkey and handed it over to the kilted wizard, who threw it into a large box of used portkeys beside him; Harry could see an old newspaper, an empty drinks can, and a punctured football. “Good morning,” she said in English.

“Morning,” replied the kilted wizard. “Let me find your campsite. Evans . . . Evans. . . .” he said as he consulted his parchment list. “About a quarter of a mile’s walk over there, first field you come to. Site manager’s called Mr Roberts.”

Lily smiled and thanked him, then began to usher her sister along, clearly expecting the boys to follow as the two women set off across the deserted moor, unable to make out much through the mist. After about twenty minutes a small stone cottage next to a gate swam into view. Beyond it, Harry could just make out the ghostly shapes of hundreds and hundreds of tents, rising up the gentle slope of a large field toward a dark wood on the horizon.

His mother gestured for them to wait and approached the cottage, to speak with a man standing in the doorway. Given the way he was dressed Harry knew this must be the only real muggle in the area. A minute or so later, after Lily had received a map of the campsite with their space marked and paid for the use of said space, they continued their walk.

They trudged up the misty field between long rows of tents. Most looked almost ordinary; their owners had clearly tried to make them as muggle-like as possible, but had slipped up by adding chimneys, or bellpulls, or weather vanes. However, here and there was a tent so obviously magical that Harry could hardly be surprised if Mr Roberts kept getting suspicious and required regular obliviations. Halfway up the field stood an extravagant confection of striped silk like a miniature palace, with several live peacocks tethered at the entrance. A little farther on they passed a tent that had three floors and several turrets; and a short way beyond that was a tent that had a front garden attached, complete with birdbath, sundial, and fountain.

“Why am I not surprised,” Lily said wearily. “No damn common sense, the lot of them. Sometimes I think magic rots the brain.”

Petunia let out a sound suspiciously like a snort and quickly covered her mouth.

They found their spot not long after, marked by a small sign hammered into the ground. Lily quickly set about getting the tent out, a very plain affair outwardly, but fine enough inside he knew. Dudley and Harry jumped in to help with the poles and pegs and they were shortly inside and putting their overnight bags down by their beds.

“Hm, there’s a well marked here,” Lily said, scanning the map. “Good thing I brought bottled water, right? Still, we aren’t all that far from the stadium. It’s just through those woods, so we won’t have far to walk.”

“Not until dusk, though, right?” Dudley said. “May Harry and I go look around?”

Lily and Petunia exchanged a look. “You know the rules,” Lily said.

“At the first sign of trouble return immediately,” Dudley recited, sounding a tiny bit exasperated.

“Uh huh.” Lily sounded unimpressed by the attitude. “Be back for lunch. And here,” she said, taking a moment to duplicate the map, “take this just in case.”

Outside they walked around a bit aimlessly, seeing many odd sights. Three African wizards sat in serious conversation, all of them wearing long white robes and roasting what looked like a rabbit on a bright purple fire, while a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents that read: The Salem Witches’ Institute.

Another patch of tents were all covered with a thick growth of shamrocks, so that it looked as though small, oddly shaped hillocks had sprouted out of the earth. Farther on was a large patch of tents where the Bulgarian flag—white, green, and red—was fluttering in the breeze. The tents here had not been bedecked with plant life, but each and every one of them had the same poster attached to it, a poster of a very surly face with heavy black eyebrows. The picture was, of course, moving, but all it did was blink and scowl.

Dudley pointed and laughed. “Proof he really does hate having his picture taken.”

“Well—”

“Krum!” said a nearby voice. “Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian seeker!”

Harry turned and looked, spying a red-haired boy about their age, a brown-haired boy, and . . . Edward. He nearly groaned in dismay. It wasn’t that he hated his brother—he didn’t personally know him well enough to hate him—but the last thing he wanted to do was run into him. Edward was so self-absorbed that he might not recognize his own brother, but Harry would prefer not to take that chance. He grabbed Dudley’s arm and motioned for silence, then pulled him away from any possible confrontation.

“What was all that about?” Dudley asked quietly once they were far enough away that Harry had released him.

“My brother,” he replied in German. “I don’t even know if he remembers me, but if he’s around here, that means James is, too. Let’s be careful, all right? I mean, my father might not even recognize me, but he will recognize mother, so I’ll be sure to tell her. Chances are, with so many witches and wizards here, we won’t run into him, but she should know. And your mother doesn’t like him, either.”

Dudley nodded and replied in kind. “All right. We’ll keep an eye out on the way back.”

Lily sighed when they told her. “I hope you’re right and we don’t bump into him.” She blinked and looked a bit annoyed with herself. “I didn’t tell you, did I. Your father got remarried to some French witch he met at a ministry function.”

“Didn’t take him long, either,” Petunia said snidely.

Dudley looked surprised, but Harry shook his head and said, “I know, it was in one of the papers. The society section. Pascale Maçon. She’s very, well, French.”

Petunia got a pinched look on her face and turned away, saying, “Lunch, boys. Go wash up.”