Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 06

31032014-10042014

06

They were back at the tent having a late snack, Dudley going on and on about the game. Even Harry felt like talking about it, but that was more due to Viktor’s incredible catch. He felt bad for his friend, his team having lost despite that catch, but at least the Bulgarians lost with some dignity. And luckily he had most of the action captured in his omnioculars, so he could always re-watch it later and at a slower speed.

He had, as he was watching the game, had occasion to turn far enough to capture James, Sirius, Remus, Edward, and who he assumed was Pascale up in the top box, but suspected given their clear absorption in the game they had not noticed him or the others, for which he could only be grateful. The walk back to their tent was almost as loud as the game had been, because like Dudley, the people simply could not stop talking about it.

“All right,” Lily said, interrupting Dudley’s continuing game-related babble, “I know you’re still very excited, but it’s time for bed. And that doesn’t mean you lie there in the dark and keep talking about it. I’ll come in and dose you with a sleeping potion if I catch you at it.”

Dudley scowled, opened his mouth to speak, evidently thought better of it and closed his mouth, and nodded instead before getting up and wandering off to his bed. Harry followed and ran through his usual night time routine, and was shortly asleep.

He awoke with a start to the sound of screaming, took a few moments to assure himself it was not some weird dream, and then leapt out of bed. As he dashed out to the common area he nearly ran his mother down. “Mum! What—?”

“There’s some kind of attack going on,” she said quickly. “I stuck my head out and it looks like Death Eaters! Hurry. Go get Dudley up and step outside. I’m going to pull stakes and portkey us all out of here. We are not sticking around for any heroics.”

He nodded and ducked back into the bedroom to get Dudley up as his mother, he assumed, went to get Petunia. Once outside his mother quickly used her wand to free the tent from the ground and roughly fold it, heedless of the poles still strung through and of the pegs she’d be leaving behind, and shoved it at Dudley to hold. “Everyone, touch the portkey!”

The moment they were home Lily dashed to the fireplace and called through to Tom, who apparated in moments later. “What is it?” he asked, appearing a bit disgruntled at being rousted from bed at such an hour.

Lily threw him an angry look before saying, “A Death Eater attack at the World Cup, that’s what. A whole bunch of them decked out in the usual raiment, torturing what looked to be the muggles who own the fields. We were woken by the screaming and used my emergency portkey to get out as fast as we could.”

Harry watched as the expression on Tom’s face became positively chilling in its angry intensity.

“Dudley, come along,” Petunia said. “Back to bed. I’ll give you a sleeping potion to make sure of it.”

“Aw, mum,” Dudley whined, grudgingly allowing himself to be led away.

“I have to assume you had nothing to do with that,” Lily continued. “You wouldn’t possibly be that stupid.”

“You assume correctly,” Tom said frigidly. “I will take care of it.”

Harry actually shivered at the sound of the man’s voice; he sounded altogether furious.

Tom did not bother with niceties such as thanking Lily for the warning and abruptly disapparated.

“Well,” his mother said, staring at the then empty space. “Do you want a potion for tonight?”

“No, it’s fine,” he assured her. He stepped up and kissed her cheek, then headed off to bed. The morning paper carried a story about the attack in the international section, including quotations from people who had been there, all of it sounding panicky. Harry could only assume that some of the less intelligent Death Eaters had gotten a bit tipsy and decided a round of muggle baiting was a glorious idea. He also assumed that once Tom figured out which ones had done it there would be rather a lot of pain being meted out for their stupidity, if not death.

Though, considering that Harry doubted Tom had bothered to clue in most of his Death Eaters about his return, he had to wonder exactly how the man was going to handle the situation. He didn’t find out until a week later; Tom had been mysteriously absent all that time, and Harry had been practicing his wizarding magic mostly alone, his mother occasionally wandering out to see how he was doing and trying to make suggestions.

The paper ran another story about happenings in dear old England, but this time it reported on a mysterious explosion that not only flattened an isolated and assumed abandoned house, but also the deaths of a number of pure-bloods. Strangely, no mention was made of any of them bearing the Dark Mark, which made Harry curious. Perhaps the explosion had burned the men so badly that any such markings were indistinguishable? Had the Dark Marks been removed before they were killed?

Tom obviously did not want the general public to know he had returned from his exile, though he had never outright stated so. In point of fact, Harry realized he had very little idea what the man did with his time, aside from that which he gave to Harry and his family.

The week after that the paper broke a story that floored Harry. Durmstrang had been attacked and even with magic it was going to take months to repair the damage. “What the hell are we supposed to do?” he asked of no one in particular.

His mother gave him a pointed look for the language and held out a hand for the paper. “Oh dear lord,” she said after a moment, still scanning the article. “And it doesn’t even say for sure who did it, though they’re blaming the Death Eaters.”

“Obviously untrue,” Harry said unnecessarily.

Dudley stumbled in, took one look at their faces, and said, “What’s wrong? What’s happened now?”

Lily explained quickly and added, “I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what comes next. I expect Tom is busy tracking down the details.”

All they received that day was a short note saying, “I’m looking into it.” A week later Tom finally showed up and led Harry and Lily out back again after getting Petunia to keep Dudley busy. “You will be getting a letter soon regarding the upcoming school year. Given that the Triwizard Tournament is being held this year Karkaroff negotiated with Dumbledore to set aside part of the castle for all Durmstrang students and teaching staff. I suppose you could have been sent to Beauxbatons, but they were never a large school to begin with and Hogwarts does have a great deal of unused space, both for sleeping quarters and classrooms.”

Harry wasn’t quite sure how to react to that, but his mother made her distaste clear by cursing under her breath. “That’s just fantastic. I hope to hell that none of them realize who you and Dudley are. What about the attack on the school—were you able to find anything out?”

“Some, yes. Despite what the papers had to say, the eyewitness I ‘questioned’ saw only a single unidentified person. If that is true, and based on the damage I saw, I imagine the culprit set explosives. Though why Durmstrang. . . . A person of the same ilk as Dumbledore would be unlikely to conceive such a thing, and someone of the Dark should have no reason to go after the school.”

“Someone with a grudge?” Lily hazarded.

Tom shrugged.

“At least it happened out of session so the kids weren’t endangered.” Lily suddenly made an odd, almost growling noise. “I just thought of something. Snape teaches at Hogwarts.”

Tom arched a brow in response, which did not help Harry’s confusion.

“Severus used to be my best friend. We knew each other before Hogwarts and he was the one to tell me I was a witch after witnessing some accidental magic I did.”

“Which would explain why he begged me to spare your life.”

Lily blinked slowly. “Did he really? Well, we were friends though most of school, despite me being Gryffindor and him Slytherin. But James and his friends were really mean to him and a lot of hatred built up. It was one of the reasons why I so disliked James for so long, his casual cruelty to other people with what he called ‘pranks’. Anyway, our friendship ended after OWLs. I came upon James and his cronies tormenting Severus again. I guess he was so mortified at what I witnessed it that he just lost it. He called me a mudblood when I tried to defend and help him.

“I was already having doubts by then simply because he was getting deeper and deeper with the pure-blood bigots, but I kept hoping he’d wise up. Nagging didn’t help, that’s for sure. I guess they just made him feel good about himself, puffing him up, making him feel important. Me being his exception just wasn’t good enough. Maybe I could have handled it better in the aftermath, but I’d only just turned sixteen and we’re all frequently a bit stupid at that age.

“The point is, I assume he still loathes James with all his being, and Sirius, and Remus. Probably Edward as well. I’m just worried he’ll actually notice Harry—because you do look unfortunately like your father, dear—and make the connection, and then find a way to cause an upset.”

Harry frowned. He had seen his brother and father just a few weeks ago and she was right, but to change his appearance now would confuse the heck out of his fellow Durmstrang students. And besides, even if Snape said nothing there were plenty of Hogwarts students who might notice the resemblance without any prompting and start asking questions. “This may be a royally stupid question, but . . . is it possible to Fidelius a person’s identity?”

Tom’s brows rose in understated surprise. “Exactly how do you mean?”

“Er, something along the lines of Harry Evans’s birth identity was Harry James Potter? And then at Hogwarts I maybe pretend to know very little English?”

“We could try, but that would not alter your looks in any way.”

“No, but it should prevent people from making that connection, despite the resemblance. They might just think maybe we were distantly related and it’s a quirk I share as many features. The ‘fact’ that I barely speak any English would be a point in my favor. James may assume, should it come to his notice, that someone a few generations back spawned the odd bastard child and that ‘branch’ ended up on the continent.”

“That’s pretty good thinking, Harry. Well done,” Lily complimented, causing Harry’s face to heat up in a kind of pleased embarrassment.

“I think,” Tom said slowly, “assuming something of that nature can be hidden, that the logic is sound. We’re not trying to hide that Harry Potter exists or existed, just that this boy, Harry Evans, could possibly be Harry Potter. People’s minds would shy away from the direct association.” Then he looked at Lily. “I do not recall. Did you change your son’s middle name?”

“Er, no, actually.”

Tom shook his head after a moment. “It should not be a problem to correct that first, then attempt the spell. I’ll do some research first, though. Changing the name properly, as done before, will update his paperwork, so do not concern yourself over that aspect.”

*

Harry had sat through the Fidelius attempt just moments ago, not that he remembered why he had. Lily then arched a brow at Tom and asked him a question. Even Harry was confused as to why she was asking such a silly thing. A moment later Lily said in a hushed voice, “The birth identity of Hadrian Wyn Evans is Harry James Potter.”

‘Oh!’ he thought. ‘Right. We borrowed mum’s father’s middle name for my new one. How very peculiar that was.’

Tom simply nodded. “I suppose you wish to tell your sister?”

Lily hesitated, making an abortive attempt at a shrug. “If I told her it’s not like anyone could get it out of her, but is it something she needs to know? I’m just not sure what kind of conflict it might set up in her mind, not knowing, since she would still know Harry is my son, her nephew, and that I was married to James at one point.”

“And you think the same would not happen to James, because it’s against odds he would even see you with Harry.”

“Right,” she said with a nod. “Oh, sure, maybe at the platform, but I could always wear a glamour or use polyjuice, or even ask that nice Viktor to keep an eye on the boys those times. Portkey in and out—er, wait, are they taking the train or. . . ?”

Tom nodded. “To my knowledge, yes, the train. It will be expanded to accommodate the additional influx of students. The staff will arrive at the school a week or two early to inspect things and settle in.” He looked at Harry. “There is every chance you will have to share a full dorm with your year mates instead of as you do now, but I trust that you can maintain privacy.”

“Of course,” he said. “But what about my training this year? You were going to set up a suite for me and that’s not possible now. Not at Durmstrang, anyway.”

“No, unfortunately. I could attempt to sneak into the castle and ward something, but I suspect that Dumbledore’s nerves are even more tense for the lack of anything of import these past few years. Now that some of my more idiotic minions have disgraced themselves, well, the old man will be even more alert. The warding of the castle itself may be drastically altered this summer and it is not a chance I wish to take.”

“All right,” he said in disappointment. Using the time turner was one thing, but sneaking out of the castle to use it, and then back in, was potentially problematic.

“I will have to think on it,” Tom eventually said. “There may be something I can do.” He left shortly thereafter and was not seen again for a week.

In the meantime the letters from Durmstrang came, explaining the extent of the damage and plans for the upcoming year. “ ‘We will make every possible effort to accommodate you as you usually are at Durmstrang’,” Harry read out loud, then looked at Dudley. “So we might get lucky and have it still be just us two in a room.”

“I really hope so,” Dudley said fervently. “I like the rest of the guys, but I don’t want to room with them if we can avoid it. Hm, this says we can portkey to the station or arrive there the muggle way, but preferably early so all of us can be situated in the extra cars before the Hogwarts student rush begins.”

Harry nodded. “I think that sounds fine. Though, thinking about it, I wouldn’t doubt the Hogwarts students’ curiosity on this. I expect they’re all getting letters, too, to inform them about the change, so we may get a number of people wandering through.”

“Mum,” Dudley called.

Petunia bustled in a minute later, an expression of inquiry on her face.

“Durmstrang sent our letters. May we go shopping soon, please?”

“I don’t see why not,” she said after a moment. “It’s not any different really than earlier years. So long as you have your emergency portkeys it’s fine with me. I’m sure my sister will agree.”

“Agree with what?” Lily shambled into the kitchen and fumbled around for a cup for morning tea. Their house-elf, only with them for a few short weeks so far and not quite linked up to knowing how to anticipate their needs, popped into view and presented the red-head with one, who received it gratefully. “Oh, thank you, Mary.”

“Mistress is welcome,” replied the diminutive creature before popping away again.

“The boys have their letters and would like to go shopping. I don’t have a problem with it. Do you?”

“Um, no. Tom gave us all those wristbands, so it should be fine.”

Harry glanced down at his wrist. Tom had designed and enchanted flattened lengths of silver, then secured them together, and Harry’s band was more complex than the others. One strip was a portkey to the house, another to Valdis’s room, and another to his room at Durmstrang. Four more strips were enchanted with Protean Charms so he could send and receive messages with his mother and Tom. Dudley’s band only had two portkeys and a set to communicate with his mother and aunt. Tom had used a variant of the Protean Charm for the Dark Marks, but he was hardly about to use enchanted tattoos on the Evans family, and this was the compromise he had come up with.

In addition to the bands, Tom had promised a little something more. He had been eyeing Harry’s boots at the time, which rather confused him. As it turned out, Tom had constructed a new set of boots, almost identical to the ones Harry already used, but with the semi-decorative metal pieces not in place. After Harry had enchanted the new set to match his original, Tom had enchanted the metal parts into additional portkeys, this time to Platform 9¾, a house in Hogsmeade, and a back-up portkey to the house. These were added back to the boots and Harry had been wearing them instead, getting them broken in and properly scuffed up so as not to appear brand new.

All of it, the bands and the portkeys on the boots, was blood-bonded to the owners so that no one else could make use of them. He had promised, for later on, to create something a little more encompassing for Harry given the likelihood of him never being able to apparate on his own. When he told Valdis about it she was torn between envy and thinking it was a bit too much. She had to travel everywhere with no convenient shortcuts, and that meant walking or running, riding a horse, or taking passage on a wagon or ship. Even so, she did agree that given the general nature of wizards it was not a bad idea.

“I wonder, at some point,” Tom had said musingly that day, “if I could come up with a way to use runic tattoos on you to draw in magic from your surroundings to augment your core. If so, you would be able to learn to apparate and possibly do higher level magics.”

“Or maybe I’ll take what I already learned from you and try to work it out myself so we’d have two minds exploring that possibility.”

“Mm, perhaps. But never for general consumption. The last thing we need is for someone of Dumbledore’s ilk to cotton on, assuming we could manage it, and make himself even more powerful. Your mother might like to help as well.”

And that was the end of that conversation for the time being, but it sat in the back of Harry’s mind as a project for what spare time he had.

“You want to go today?” Dudley asked, shaking his letter.

Harry blinked away from his thoughts and nodded. “Yeah, sure. And we can stock up on sweets we won’t be able to get there. Speaking of which—mum? Do you think we’ll be able to visit the village there near the castle?”

“Er. . . .” Lily blinked a few times and had more of her tea. “I can’t imagine why not. There isn’t anything about that in your letters?”

Petunia, on seeing that her sister was slightly more with it, slid a piece of parchment in front of her. “The letters we got—I assume yours is the same as mine—mentioned that specifically. We have permission slips to sign.”

“Oh, okay.” Lily smiled a bit muzzily. “I vaguely recall they were once a month, maybe every other month. It’s been a while. But you kids may or may not be held to the same schedule as the Hogwarts students. Still, it’ll be nice for you to have a place so close by to visit.”

It would, he thought. The most Durmstrang had was a small shop on the ground floor for the students, and it never seemed to have much of interest, just supplies they could buy on the spot instead of writing home for more. It was better than nothing, he supposed, just not very exciting.

He and Dudley set off a bit later on and got their shopping out of the way. It thankfully wasn’t much due to the way Durmstrang taught classes. The most he had needed to buy for new books had been the year previous when they began electives. Aside from that the books they had were intended for use up to through OWLs. Once he moved into NEWT preparation—for whichever classes he felt confident he could pass—he would have to purchase more. Subsequently, school shopping was more topping off consumables, stocking up on sweets, and replacing outgrown clothing.

When they returned Harry wrote a letter to Viktor, to see how he was taking the news. He wanted to ask if he would try for the tournament, but that was not a topic Harry felt comfortable discussing considering he wasn’t even supposed to know about it. The day he got a reply was the same day that Tom showed up with a trunk for Harry.

It was of a make that was obviously meant to stand on end, and once Tom began explaining its features it became clear why. “The more simplistic compartments contain drawers,” he said, opening one to demonstrate, “for your supplies, sweets, and so on. The next can hold the fruits of Herbology or Potions ingredients, and the next holds your personal library. The special compartment, however, appears to be a walk-in dressing room with storage for your clothes.”

After a pause Harry asked, “So what’s the catch?”

“Come inside and I will show you,” Tom invited, switching to the compartment in question and entering.

Harry followed and saw drawers for socks, underthings, t-shirts, and jumpers, bars with hangers for his robes, trousers, and button-up shirts, a full length mirror, a padded bench, and a rack for shoes, everything you might want in a dressing room. He knew there had to be something very special about the space, though, and consequently studied everything carefully, trying to figure it out.

Underfoot was a plush carpet, and the walls looked to be plasterboard (which he found surprising, as he would have expected wood panels) painted cream with thin blue vertical striping. He paused mentally and moved closer to the far wall to examine it more closely, and the mirror attached to it. The mirror was not, as he had assumed, placed on the wall, but rather it sat flush. “Is this a doorway of some kind?” he asked Tom’s reflection.

“Very good,” Tom replied, “and yes. But first you need to cut yourself and smear the mirror with your blood. We can do the externals a bit later. Once the blood has taken push the mirror on both sides at about mid-height.”

A minute later Harry was staring into another room entirely, this one of a decent size and fitted out as a practice room. The far wall had a door on the right and a frame on the left. Moving inside he saw that the frame led to a small kitchen and guessed offhand that the door led to a bedroom and bath. “I see. I can come here, turn back, work on my spells—of either kind—and return without anyone being the wiser, assuming I close the compartment to, er, preserve my modesty while I change clothes.”

“That was the idea.”

Harry turned to look back at Tom with a smile. “Thank you. And with this you won’t need to worry about Durmstrang next year. Brilliant.”

Back outside Tom led him through keying the warding and then showed him how it was intended to be moved. Rather like muggle luggage, actually, he thought, with a retractable handle at the top and wheels at the bottom back side. It could not much be reduced in size—only enough to make it easier to transport—but it was enchanted to limit the overall weight and to prevent the contents from shifting around in transit or if it was knocked about from the outside.

“I have one for your cousin as well, but not nearly so elaborate, as he does not need it.”

Harry blinked in surprise, then smiled. “Well, Aunt Petunia rather does like to try to keep things even, so I’m sure she’ll appreciate the gift almost as much as Dudley will. Have you found out anything more about the attack on Durmstrang?”

“No, and not for lack of trying. I haven’t the faintest idea yet who it could be or for what reason,” Tom said, frustration bleeding through his normally even tone.

“Um, well, if I think of anything that might help, avenues of research, things to scrutinize, I’ll let you know straight away. I admit I haven’t thought of anything yet. It just seems so random. I know a lot of people think Durmstrang is a ‘Dark’ school, but those who profess to follow the ‘Light’ don’t do that kind of thing. Well, not of Dumbledore’s sort, anyway. ‘Light’ people who injected a little something called logic and common sense might pick a few fights, but even then it doesn’t make much sense to me except for the part where it was done out of term.”

He went away with an interesting puzzle and no real idea as of yet which direction to strike out in; and while he rather doubted it, perhaps Dudley would have some ideas.

*

Tell me again why there’s a train? Harry asked his mother in an aside.

Lily, who looked a bit different than normal, looked over and said, Well, the accepted theory is that it gives the returning students a chance to get a lot of the ‘what I did this summer’ conversations out of the way, and the speculation about what’s to come for the year, who will be the new Defense professor, and so on. Basically, reconnecting after the holiday. And for the incoming students, a chance to make friends with other first years before they get shuffled off into houses and more or less trained to stick with their own.

And it has nothing to do with a society drowning in tradition? he asked, one brow raised in an eloquent gesture of sarcasm.

Naaah, his mother said. Couldn’t possibly be it. Mind you, the accepted theory does make a lot of sense—something you often don’t see in magical folk. But even then the kids are usually still quite hyper during the sorting and the feast.

Harry shrugged and eyed the gleaming scarlet train. Has it always been that colour?

It was when I was a student. So very Gryffindor, don’t you think?

So very prejudicial, you mean, he replied, noticing his mother made no attempt to deny it. I don’t see Viktor yet, he said, casually searching the platform.

He’ll be along soon enough, I’m sure.

He sighed faintly and looked around some more, absently noticing that his cousin was being fussed over by Petunia and looking mightily annoyed by it, being such a big strong man and all. A number of his year mates had turned up and were scoping out the carriages set aside for the Durmstrang students. This was, to most of them, quite a novelty given that they arrived at and left their school by portkey. Britain’s Hogwarts was remarkably out in the open compared to Durmstrang, and even Beauxbatons was a bit leery of being easily accessible.

He was pulled from his reverie by a set of fingers curling over his shoulder and a warm greeting from his mentor, causing a smile to appear.

Are you ready to board? Viktor asked.

Harry shivered lightly as Viktor removed his hand, his friend’s fingers brushing against his neck, and nodded.

Viktor, there you are,his mother said. Please say you’ll continue to keep an eye on the boys this year?

A somewhat odd and fleeting expression crossed Viktor’s face. Of course I will. And help them with any problems they may encounter while mentoring whoever they’re assigned to.He looked, momentarily, like he might say something more.

Thank you,she replied, aiming a grateful smile at Viktor. Well, I think we’re good to go, then. Harry, try to have a good year, and. . . .

Yeah, I know.