During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...
I I I
I'm not going to let myself be dragged into arguments with those who've listened to revisionists try to debunk history. The subject is infinite. I could carefully outline my facts in an argument as long as the rest of this story is already, and it would be wasted time and effort. They are not going to convince me, nor am I going to convince them.
But yes, I do commit the heresy of stating that the primary purpose of TV shows is to provide entertainment - NOT empirical evidence! And if you can't make that distinction, then I don't want to bother arguing with you.
So as easy, even as fun, as it would be to point out how FARCICAL some of those 'tests' and arguments they rely on would be, I will forebear. Ultimately it boils down to they want to believe what the boob tube has told them, or a teacher who has his own agenda (and it is quite fashionable now in academic circles to pretend that history began with the founding of the UN, and anyone before then was incapable of telling the truth), and I'm happy to let them.
I I I
Snape cackled in glee.
Creatures such as him did not feel true happiness. Still, as far as vindictive pleasures went, this was as high as a demented human being could go.
Snape could nurse a grudge for ages. Indeed, he never forgave anyone the slightest hint of any snub against him. His grudge list was long, and extended to cover most members of society to one degree or another. But out of those, one had always stood above all.
Finally! He had the son of his schoolyard nemesis totally and wholly within his power! Ages ago embarrassments, disappointments, and, yes, jealousies could now be avenged!
He didn't know how it happened, but he wasn't going to argue with how the Headmaster had arranged it. It was enough that he could destroy now the son of the man who had ruined Snape's attempts to set himself up as his own dark lord, and not just a simpering toady of the current one.
Now, however, he could exact his revenge on the only remaining relative of the man to deny him the power and position that was rightfully his!
Being a follower of Lord Voldemort had never been his ambition. That had been a distant second place to the real goal. He'd always intended to be Lord Voldemort's rival, and eventually take over, consuming the lesser lord's followers into his own. But to do that Snape had needed the undiluted respect and admiration of Slytherin House from the very start, and one man had denied him that chance, standing up to the 'schoolyard bully' Snape and striking back in the most humiliating ways.
That humiliation had cost Snape his eventual dark lordship by taking away the very respect and admiration he'd needed, and Snape had nursed a seething hatred of the man ever since.
James Potter. Nothing was too cruel to inflict on him, or, by extension, his only living son. Snape cracked open a tooth and inserted a needle into the join, directly down into the nerve of his victim. That, by itself, would be bad enough, but the needle was coated with a potent toxin that would amplify the experience to an excruciating degree.
Snape had never learned to forgive. No, but he'd become expert on inflicting pain. First in his experiences as a Death Eater, then through muggleborn testing here at Hogwarts. Oh yes, he could cause unimaginable agony in any number of frightfully horrific ways, and having dreamed of this chance for ages, he'd determined to use them all, in public, on the son of his enemy!
Slytherin House, gathered by his command for this event, blanched and many of the weak fools lost the contents of their stomachs. Never mind, it would harden them up for later service; and the prefects would keep them in order, even if they had to paralyze many of the lower years. Paralyzed was better than stunners, as that way they could still witness his everlasting triumph!
Snape had studied pain for ages. He did not have the innate genius of Bella, but he had a certain methodical workmanship that was in its own way more frightening; and in this case his vindictive glee inspired him to new and greater heights of inventiveness as he used knives, potion tools, a massive variety of dark curses, acids, disfiguring spells, and more to destroy every last hint of humanity in the object of his obsession!
The screaming had torn Draco's throat ragged and bloody long ago.
Snape never even considered that he might be under a Confundus charm to mistake the son of his greatest ally with that of his greatest enemy(both deceased), as he used every means at his disposal to prolong the suffering and urge every last ounce of agony out of the target of his aggressions. As far as he was concerned, this was the chance he'd always wanted, and he was wringing it for all the humiliation and torment his target could suffer!
Slytherin House blanched, barfed and fainted (only to be revived by prefects) as Severus Snape reveled in the greatest degree of bloody cruelty his mind could muster on the body of what was formerly his favorite student in the privacy of their common room.
The best thing was, Dumbledore was so busy he'd canceled classes for the day, and would not think to Obliviate this experience from their minds as Draco got both mind and body destroyed by their own Head of House.
I I I
Gilderoy Lockhart was many things, most of them bad. However he had recently been turned around by one boy: Harry Potter, and now his life was going through some rather remarkable changes. A drive to learn was one, but a desire to help others and truly be the hero he'd so often portrayed himself as was stronger. Luckily, the two coincided.
The newly installed drive to work hard was making all that change possible.
After Harry had rebuilt his mind he'd left a Time Turner with him for training, and charged him to keep its use secret. Those orders had been followed, and Gilderoy had high hopes that, with the aid of his tutors and his new drive to work hard, he might someday soon be able to call himself as competent at magic in general as an average third year; although it was probably going to take him a good six months of solid work to do it, two using the Time Turner.
Another year of solid work and he'd probably be able to sit for his OWLS with reasonable competency. The work to catch up took longer as the material grew more complicated. It would probably take another two years after that before he could reasonably expect to conquer his NEWT level material, to say nothing of the heroic levels he'd portrayed himself as having; and ultimately would have to reach in truth in order to achieve his goals.
That would take another twenty years, at least.
Obviously, he would not be taking the tests again, that was just a handy judge of where his skills should be: competent to handle this, competent to handle that, and so on. He'd cheated on those tests the first time around, gotten the good grades required for a Ministry job (and learned that most who had Ministry jobs had also cheated for their grades). But this time his goal was to actually learn the material, and he was taking hard courses now to prepare him for a far more arduous role: A leader in society instead of fluff.
So the Time Turner was absolutely vital, as they did not have twenty three or twenty four years to wait. Even eight was probably too long. The war was going on now, and they already had him pursuing a leadership role.
They'd been forced to. Gilderoy's fan club provided them the only source of followers loyal to their cause rather than someone else's.
But, naturally, as the gap between where his skills actually were and where they needed to be (and where he'd always boasted they'd been) decreased, the task of keeping his fraud secret got easier and the less he had to fake. The more genuine he could be, the more he could accomplish, and the better off their side would be in the upcoming conflicts.
Of course, any time they could shave off that would be of great benefit to them and their cause; because it was not only Gilderoy that had to be trained to a higher standard, but all of their new corps of followers as well.
Toward that end the man was looking into a shortcut that Miss Granger had proposed and Harry had seconded: Magically compulsive books.
Gilderoy did not know where they'd come by a magical printing press. Truth be told, he did not care to know. While there was a vague chance they'd built it, as the Lovegoods had already done that once and they had the newest one of that family in their little club, it was far more likely they'd acquired it by some illegal measures. But what he didn't know he couldn't admit to, even under truth serum.
Two things made him strongly suspect they'd stolen the machine. The first was their moving it out to the newly acquired Dog Patch, the vineyard owned by their recently escaped friend in southern France (and how did he know they'd moved it there? Simple. Gilderoy himself had carried the shrunken press to that location in his pockets).
Any printing press in England was as good as a gold mine, there were so few legal ones in use there. Moving it out made no sense, unless they ran the risk of running afoul of the anti-illegal-printing-press wards over the country (better maintained than the Underage Magic Detection charms). They could also be trying to get it away from Dumbledore's influence, so it was not guaranteed illegal, just likely.
The other reason was the press itself was so laden with compulsive magics to layer over whatever it printed that... Well, in the first place he didn't believe three teens, no matter how talented, could create such a web of compulsive magics; and in the second it matched rather closely what the international press was screaming about the Daily Prophet had been doing.
Still, even though he suspected they'd stolen it, he didn't know for certain, and was happy to keep it that way.
Now he was going to take advantage of his vacation in southern France to try out printing a few books using that wonderful press. Gilderoy himself was, he admitted with no small degree of pride, something of an expert on memory charms, and that came with a certain awareness of how a mind works. He was hoping to become a legilimencer someday. But for now he was highly qualified for studying the reaction of the minds of a few of his followers to reading The Standard Book of Spells, Grade One, printed on that compulsive press. Studying, with an aim toward enhancing the effects for a better learning experience, even if that was only printing a few extra lines here or there for clarification.
Just because Gilderoy himself was incompetent, didn't mean he didn't know people who weren't highly skilled in their fields. Indeed, most of his tutors were very highly qualified individuals, and all of them could recommend good books. If this press could be used as Miss Granger thought it might, then they could print out sets of textbooks that a person could read in a week or two that would catapult them much further along the road to competency.
Gilderoy himself could use such a boost, and knew most of his fans could too.
Actually, there they had much potential advantage waiting around, as Frank and Alice Longbottom were co-conspirators in this little project, and as aurors had access to those training manuals.
Further, he didn't know how (and was determined never to ask), but Harry had somehow obtained a copy of the secret Death Eater training tome.
They had even told him some of the history, including the Dark Slytherin's original name. Back in the day Tom Riddle had been forming the group that would eventually become the Death Eaters, he'd been able to train those in it personally. As the group grew that became impossible. Still, he needed those people to be deadly, and couldn't count on their ordinary education to provide the necessary skills. So he'd written up little leaflets and pamphlets holding the core of what he felt was required for his little cadre, and many of those he'd personally taught had added to it things that he'd instructed them in.
The later Death Eaters could afford to simply ride on the fear they caused, counting on that to render their prey helpless animals before them. But the first few, before they were even called Death Eaters, had to have a truly remarkable amount of skill in order to achieve that fear in the first place, and partially it was this training that gave them that edge. Only partially, because the first few followers of Tom Riddle had contained some already remarkably skilled individuals.
A successes piled on, Tom had soon lost interest in giving his followers extra training; and after their initial rush of victories new recruits were taught the Unforgivables as most of what they'd needed to know.
But those taught just to use the Unforgivables were nothing on those few who had been taught personally by the Dark Lord. Nor were they anything on those who'd read those leaflets authored by him. The core Death Eaters, all members of the Inner Circle, had always been members of those two groups, either those taught by the dark lord personally, or by reading his notes. So, the ambitious lot that they were, soon they were clambering for copies.
But, ambition in House Slytherin means not only clawing your own way up to top of the ladder of influence and power, it means spiking your rivals so their success did not distract attention from one's own. Those who had incomplete copies of those training pamphlets did nothing to share them, in fact they treated them as special family secrets and would kill to protect them.
Or, contrariwise, they would kill to steal more of them. A pit of vipers was not a safe place, even for the snakes to inhabit it.
Gilderoy had no idea where little Harry had come across a complete set of Voldemort's training leaflets and the notes added to those by the few taught by him in person. And it frankly gave him the shivering willies that Voldemort himself seemed to have gone over this compiled copy, adding corrections and extra directions. But he was determined not to ask where it came from.
He didn't want to know.
Harry, or someone, had edited out all of the truly dark information, causing terror through atrocities, planning for rape and pillage, and so on. Lots of curses were simply too vile for ordinary folks to use. But the cleansed version, edited for the general population, was still a substantial tome equal, if different and slightly darker, to the auror training materials.
If any portion of that, or the auror training manuals, could be converted into compulsive reading format for ease of retention and comprehension, then they could easily shave off years from their proposed training program.
Frankly, Lockhart couldn't wait to get started.
I I I
Bellatrix LeStrange was, in most ways, a very simple and elemental woman. In others, she was nuttier than a bag full of squirrels. But, at her heart, she still enjoyed very simple pleasures.
Reading the compiled tome of Dark Lore, penned in his own hand and edited by her master himself (and not that silly 'cleansed' version he'd passed off to the Lockhart fool) while lounging around her ancestral home triggered most of those.
For one, she was preparing to better serve her master. That was a bundle of pleasures all tied up in one right there. Increasing her skills for torturing and slaughtering his enemies was another not-small thrill. The atmosphere of the ancient Black family residence at Grimmauld Place was another comfort, and the Black Family library was one of the few repositories of Dark Lore that could teach her master anything on that topic that he didn't already know. Giving him access to those would please him; and that too, made her happy.
So, really, she had very few buttons that weren't already being pushed as far as her simple pleasures went.
Truly, there was no substitute to being by her master's side. But until they knew if Dumbledore had become aware of her Filch disguise, it was better to let the miserable squib do his own job for a time.
Until then, this was a distinctly satisfying second best.
For the moment, she was in charge of securing those filthy muggles who had abused her lord's present container. That would be the case until permanent quarters could be arranged for them, deep in the cold dark of some pit. To get them ready for this, she had secured them in her basement.
Her lord also appreciated imagination in his service. Since the object was to torture these filthy beasts (not just muggles, but now dark creatures- her lord had a flair for the artistic she desired to emulate), she'd taken the extra precaution of casting a Burning Skull curse on each of them.
A burning skull curse consumed the eyes, ears and tongue of a victim as well as damaging the outer tissues of the face, leaving one permanently blind, deaf and dumb and causing enormous pain without actually killing the victim. It left them in anguish, wallowing in helpless misery forever.
There was no question about it. It was a dark curse. It had no other function than to inflict misery, helplessness and suffering on those who got targeted by it. The spell could be put to no other purpose.
It also put fear into the hearts of one's enemies. Most Gryffindors could face death. But virtually anyone would quail over the prospect of being horribly mutilated, left disfigured and unable to speak, see or hear for the remainder of their natural lives.
It was a terror weapon, and Voldemort had used it on dozens of his foes. He let them live as examples to others; and it had gotten the message across, establishing him as a person to be feared.
Bellatrix had not only applied it to those three filthy muggles, she had put in their cage a single magical crystal eye they could hold to their foreheads to see - basic function only, no need to pamper them. But now those filthy creatures got something to fight over to fill their boring hours.
It kept them entertaining, tearing at each other like that.
To give them something to look at, and thus a reason to fight over the eye, she'd used polyjuice, and some of their original hairs, on rabbits that Bella then killed using the Avada Kedavra. Creatures that died under polyjuice retained their altered forms (something that made fooling muggle police into thinking the victims were dead childishly easy). She'd put the dead polyjuiced rabbits into display cages under preservation charms. The woman, at least, found endless reason to stare entranced at her pre-curse form, as a semi-release from her present ugliness brought about by the hag curse.
For the boys, there was an animated painting of some nude floozy they could watch. That seemed to entertain them enough to want to fight over the eye.
So, again, Bellatrix really had very few buttons that weren't already being pushed as far as simple pleasures went.
There were a trio of filthy muggles in the basement that she could torture whenever she was feeling catty, her master's book to read and memorize when she was bored, rooms for practicing her spells and other skills without the Ministry knowing, and a House Elf to keep the creature comforts coming.
Also, to surprise her Lord, she had decided to read this other book, one of the quasi-forbidden tomes restricted by the Ministry: on how to become an animagus. She'd almost achieved a transformation long ago. But then she and her cousin Sirius had a falling out, and she'd stopped practicing.
Now it was time to play catch-up.
She hoped to become a suitable pet, as that way she could accompany her lord to school. And who could guess a familiar could also be your bodyguard?
I I I
The Weasley twins were having possibly the best year of their short lives.
They were already imaginative sorts, but there were limits to what you could do on a shoestring budget and with mostly handmade equipment. Until Harry, their best gear had been stolen out of rubbish bins and laboriously repaired.
Against the odds, the twins were actually Potions prodigies, among other things. Most of their pranks and special items came in the form of candies or other edible objects, although quite a few also came in the form of Charms, at which they were no less geniuses.
No, the surprising part of their being Potions geniuses was that they were Gryffindors and the subject was taught by Snape. The biggest reason for that was the duo had twigged onto the fact long ago that the Ministry didn't monitor potion brewing with anything like the same kind of intensity as they did wand magic, so it was something they could practice safely at home.
Frankly, they had been brewing potions before they'd turned eight, using some of Bill and Charlie's stuff, and whatever old things could be scrounged out of the attic. They had managed to learn a lot already, puzzled out on their own. In fact, they had a near encyclopedia of uses for ghoul parts, as the one that lived in their attic had long been used as a source of materials.
Then Harry had gone and sent that Basics of Brewing book to Ron, who never used it, and the twins had been unable to resist snatching it away in an instant to guzzle down the knowledge from it.
The poor book was already dog-eared from overuse. It had opened up their minds to so many possibilities they hardly knew where to begin!
Then Harry had come through for them with all of that brand new furniture, including a Portable Potions Lab with advanced tools, and suddenly they had everything they'd need to conduct experiments on a large scale. Everything, that is, except a large source of potion ingredients.
Frustrating, but after their first raid on it, Snape was keeping an unusually tight hold on his private stock of ingredients this year; and the potion supply cupboard for students was likewise unusually well watched over. The thing was almost worth a major prank over, but Fred and George honestly had no idea how to outdo whoever was already pranking him!
I mean, dunking his head in a bucket of acid? How do you top that? They were sure they could find ways, and the challenge was intriguing, but of far more immediate concern was how to resolve their current supply difficulties. They had only so much money to spend in Hogsmead, buying stuff.
So, businessmen that they were, the twins had determined the only way this was going to work was to come out with salable products, some marketable items they could sell around the tower and turn a profit on, then cycle into more ingredients. Thanks to the secret passageways, they had access to the stores in Hogsmead any time they wanted.
Still, it counted in both their minds as a crime that most of their shiny new equipment was sitting idle, just for the lack of material to use.
Speaking of material for new potions, Harry had been giving the Weasley twins kneazle hair starting only a few days ago, and again every time he brushed his cat. So, like with the ghoul in their family's attic, they were conducting experiments with that, because it was what they had available.
It didn't stop them from hurting for more possibilities, though.
I I I
"Is that it?" Papers were rustled.
"Yes, dear. I think it is." A soft yet concerned sigh of hope mingled with terror was heard, with a tiny note of relief hidden somewhere in there.
Ted and Miranda Granger looked at each other over the top of the box piled high with pamphlets, charts and tables.
"Do you think it will convince her?" Hermione's mother asked softly, worried beyond belief at the things her daughter had been forced to go through.
Ted took his desperately concerned wife in a hug, both still looking down at the box. "Well honey, we've got to hope for the best. There is the fact that our ever-logical little girl wouldn't have asked us for material on other magic schools if she wasn't at least willing to consider a switch. She's not a liar, either, and she said she wanted more data to base a decision off of. That's as close as she's ever come to considering it."
Miranda giggled into her husband's chest. "Only because Harry told her to. I swear, every letter is 'Harry this' or 'Harry that'. I'd be scared if I wasn't so grateful. First that he saved her life from that troll, and now with this being willing to consider transfer to a safer school matter. The first point she made in her letter home was that he was willing to make a switch if she was. That may be all it took."
"It'll work out ok, hon." Ted gave his wife a reassuring squeeze, before he glanced up at a shocked and scared Hedwig the owl, then scowled down at the hefty box full of brochures on other magical institutes of learning."Now our only problem is to figure out how we're going to mail this."
I I I
Well, I spent most of this chapter playing catch-up on my loose ends, keeping some of the minor characters in play by having a bit of fun with them. Fudge and crowd were going to make an appearance, but I hit my self imposed limit on chapter size and went with that.
But getting Snape to torment Draco as revenge for his attempted murder of Luna was just so... satisfying to do! And ironic, and poetic justice, too.