The Heir of the Founders, the Heir of Merlin, needs to set the future straight -- by going back to 1971. In this chapter, the train ride and the Sorting.
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In a nearly-deserted semi-ruined abbey in the northwest of England, Voldemort seethed. He would have loved to turn his anger on the two followers present, but dismissed them instead. He did not yet have enough followers to treat them as he would like.
What had gone wrong? He had built his organization slowly over a twenty-five year period, developing the Dark Mark in the late 1960s. Once taken, no one could completely elude him or completely betray him. He had planned the first large initiation of new recruits for that previous May, and had sent them on the attack on those who had defeated Grindelwald.
In terms of a battle, he had won. His forces had taken out over three times more than he had lost, and crippled one of the two men he needed dead, Henry Potter, who had since died. However, his people had not anticipated dying at all, and he had not anticipated so many would have been killed. For the previous year, when they struck they had had overwhelming numbers and force. No Death Eater had been seriously hurt. May was different. Ten recruits killed and one captured out of the fifteen initiates, and two Marked members killed, had been a hard blow to take.
Malfoy Manor, the home of his wealthiest supporter, burning to the ground two days before had been shocking. The execution of six of his oldest supporters the night before was even more so.
There was a new player in the game, one who did not play by the Ministry's rules and who was not holding back as Dumbledore did. If anything, the player might be nearly as ruthless as Voldemort himself.
Voldemort went over everyone he knew of in Britain and Western Europe, wondering who might fit the criteria of the new player.
He came up with no one.
That worried Voldemort even more than his opponent's ruthlessness.
Wednesday, September 1, 1971
Harold looked up from his paper, shaking his head over the article about the body found on the Isle of Wight. Like the six a few weeks before, this one had the so-called 'Dark Mark', just discovered to be the sign of a Death Eater. An editorial finally suggested that the Death Eaters were the enforcers of the self- proclaimed 'Lord Voldemort', the most extreme of the pro-Pure Bloods.
Unlike the previous six, there was a note with this Death Eater: "All Death Eaters must turn themselves in to the British, French, or Benelux Ministry of Magic before midnight, December 31. All other Death Eaters are to be considered open targets after that date." It had been signed by 'The Archdruid of the Order of Founders,' which confused everyone.
Harold's frown disappeared as he heard James and Harry thundering down the main stairs. "Slow down, boys!" he called. "The train won't leave for two hours!"
"But won't the floo get too busy to use if we wait?" James asked eagerly as he rushed into the breakfast room.
"You may be right," Harold gravely agreed. "Go ask your mother when she'll be ready." James rushed off. Harold smiled more widely. He had waited for just the right woman to marry, and met her in his late twenties. She had been killed soon thereafter in the War. He hadn't found anyone else he could really love for over ten years.
Mary had been engaged to a well-known explorer, and had been planning on marrying him when he returned from an expedition to Tibet. He had been killed by the Muggle Communist authorities, already determined to exert their authority over Tibet. She had only met Harold two years later.
They missed their pretty daughter, but Harold celebrated his two sons. Now in his mid-fifties, his wife in her late-thirties, they were glad to be seeing their boys off to Hogwarts, a rite of passage Harold had wondered if he would ever get to enjoy twenty years before.
As James and Harry waited impatiently for their parents, James said, "I wonder if Sirius will be there early."
"If his parents or uncle are with him, or those Black sisters, we'd be better off waiting for him on the train," Harry pointed out.
"After what you said to Bellatrix, you're probably right," James complained. He knew few children around their age, and had only met Sirius a few times over the past four years. Still, there was something he recognized as a kindred spirit in Sirius. 'At least Harry likes him now,' James thought. Henry had always thought that Sirius brought out the worst in James, which was true enough.
"Sometimes, I think the only thing that hasn't changed about you is your inability to stand up when walking through the floo," James teased as Harold dusted Harry off.
"Just think how insufferable we'd be if we were perfect," Harry teased back as his mother walked through.
James smiled and looked up. "Wow," he said.
"I agree," Harry said. "Wow." There seemed to be about 25% more students than Harry was used to seeing. He realized that he had grown up with the effects of the war without really understanding it. Even the post-war baby boom was based on a population much reduced, both by deaths and by emigration.
"You were right about the Blacks," James murmured in Harry's ear. Harry glanced at where James was looking. He saw four adults and four children, the two girls, Sirius, and the younger boy who had to be Regulus.
As ugly as Harry had thought Walburga Black's portrait had been, he again thought that it had been a good representation. "What?" James asked.
"Looking at Sirius' mother, I can see why Muggles think witches are nasty and ugly."
"Henry John!" Mary hissed. She leaned over. "Not so loud, or the ugly mean witch might hear you."
"I miss you already, Mum," Harry said, kissing her cheek.
"You catch that scamp's eye and then make for the back carriages," Harold advised. "Pick up a few other First years along the way -- the carriages seat six. This is the best chance you'll have to meet people not in your House."
"Good ideas. Bye, Dad," James said.
"Wait! Here," Harold said, handing each boy two money bags. "Put those two deep into your pockets. There are twenty Galleons in each of these. There are thirty Sickles and five Galleons in each of the others. Try not to get sick on the sweets." Harold made certain the feather-light charms were holding on the trunks and money bags, and sent the two boys set off.
Sirius saw James and Harry, and caught James' subtle look and head movement towards the back of the train. As soon as the adults stopped nagging, he'd be off.
"That red-head looks lost," James said. "She must be a Muggle." Muggles of course could not come onto the platform, and this girl had no adults anywhere near her, as she bravely tried to figure out what to do next. She also looked very young.
"Or at least raised that way," Harry agreed. He saw it was his mother. "Let's get a nice selection. I'll grab that tired looking chap and the red head. That other girl with all the messy brown hair looks like her father is leaving."
"She's almost as cute as the red head," James said, then blushed.
"Come on," Harry said.
"All filled up here?"
"There you are, Sirius," James said. "We saved a place for you."
"Hi, Sirius," Harry said. "This is Sirius Black. Remus Lupin, Lily Evans, and Ellen McGregor." Harry smiled at the girl with the longish brown hair, whose eldest daughter or niece had been Natalie MacDonald in his time-stream. Harry wasn't certain yet which.
It hadn't been like this the first time around, Harry knew. Sirius had talked about it over that one Christmas holiday, deep into his fifth fire whisky. James and Sirius had sought each other out, having recognized their common traits over their few meetings. Snape and some other future Slytherins had to pick out a target to harass to prove themselves to the older and nastier Slytherins, especially Bellatrix. It had been Remus, just a few days from a transformation, although of course they had only learned that detail years later. The pair had hustled Remus off to a compartment with just one student in it -- Peter.
These six traded stories about themselves. Sirius seemed unsure how to react to the Half-blood Remus (Full-blood father and Muggle-born mother) and Ellen (Half-blood father and technically Muggle mother, as three of her grandparents had been Squibs) let alone the Muggle-born Lily Evans. Harry rather enjoyed teasing nasty stories about Lily's older sister out of her. James and Harry treated the others to magical treats when the woman pushing the cart came by.
Harry had never known what to make of his mother. At times, he thought of her as a less vehement Hermione with red hair and a better sense of humor. He found he had learned more about his mother on that train ride than he had ever known about her before. She was as smart (although more intuitive, and without the driving need to prove herself that Hermione would have), stronger, and even more humorous than he had guessed.
In fact, Harry felt a little intimidated by the brains in that compartment. While he had not over-extended his brain while in school, he had surprised himself at how much he could actually learn once he had been crippled. However, he knew that with his original attitude towards school intact, James, Sirius, Remus, and Lily would have outshone him nearly as much as Hermione had, and Ellen was no slouch.
It was at this point that the door to the compartment slid open with a BANG. Harry sighed when he saw it was Bellatrix Black, Seventh year Slytherin, with a gaggle of Snakes and two First years, Snape and Narcissa, slinking just within sight. "So dare's the bwave wittle boy," she sneered.
"Do you have a speech impediment, Black?" Harry demanded. "If so, I won't make fun of you. If not, grow up."
"I never did learn your name, boy. . . ."
Harry stood and stated coldly, "My name is Harry Potter, or Henry John Potter if you prefer." He said it projecting a bit of his aura (and therefore his mood as well) outward. And Harry's mood was very clear. He loathed Bellatrix Black. Had he known for certain if she had already killed as well as taken the Mark, he would have been tempted to kill her on the spot. Everyone who heard his voice shivered, and they were all shocked to actually see Harry's magical aura visibly flickering. "Now, slither away! You give all Slytherins a bad name!"
Bellatrix opened her mouth, but Harry beat her to it. "Begone!" and with a wave of his hand Bellatrix was driven out of the compartment doorway and into the three boys behind her. With a flick of his finger, the door slammed shut. Harry then stood there, glaring.
Bellatrix stood, obviously angry enough, and possibly stupid enough, to try something else. Harry merely stood, hands on hips, and looked back.
Finally, the group slinked away.
Harry turned around and saw the look of fear on their faces. "What?" he asked calmly.
After a moment of silence, Sirius exclaimed, "That was bloody brilliant! I have never seen Bella shut up so effectively!"
"Brilliant, but scary," Ellen said.
Harry quirked a smile at that phrase.
"How did you do that?" Lily asked.
"It's just a knack I have," Harry said. "I hope I didn't, I don't know, shock or even scare anyone."
"It was . . . startling," Lily said, which made Ellen nod her head. "Why was she acting worse than my sister? Is she just a bully?"
"This is something five of us already know, Lily," Harry said. "You wouldn't, coming from the larger Muggle world. We're a little community. How many of us are there? Less than forty thousand all told in Britain and all of Ireland?" James and Sirius nodded, as that sounded about right. "As a culture, we tend to think in terms of class and ancestry more than you're used to. It's more like Eighteenth century England for many people, especially people like that lot." He jerked his thumb in the direction Bellatrix and her followers had gone. "To us, we care about the person, not their class and background. To them, well, to be blunt James, Sirius, and I would be the gentry or even the nobility. Remus and Ellen would be from the minor shopkeeping class."
"What does that make me?" Lily demanded. "A peasant?" she spat.
"To them, yes," Harry said frankly. "Not to me. Not to us. And not just because we know you. You can't tell me Muggle Britain still isn't class-conscious, even if they are no longer as bad about it as we are."
"So what are they going to do? Call me names, or really try and hurt me?" Lily asked, a little worried.
"They will certainly call you names," Ellen said.
"Forgive me for saying it," James said, "but they'll call you a 'Mudblood'."
"'Filthy Mudblood'," Sirius corrected, coloring. "I should know. My family has some of the worst people in it."
"Like that crazy woman," Harry agreed.
"Is she your sister?" Ellen asked.
Sirius shook his head. "First cousin, and that's too close a relation. That girl our age is her younger sister, Narcissa. Her older sister, Andromeda, is nice, though. She just ran off with a Muggle-born wizard named Ted Tonks and married him last week. They're still in hiding from the family." Harry knew they had fled to America, and had not returned in the other time line until 1983.
"Every generation or two or three, there's some loony who comes along, calls himself a Dark Lord, and tries to take over part of Magical Europe," Harry went on, finally sitting back down. "The last one was named Grindelwald. He hated the Muggle world, and tried to get it to destroy itself. He was partially behind World War One and the Russian Revolutions, and then behind the Nazi movement and World War Two. While the Muggles did all the bombings, his people did manage to whip up some of the firestorms out of the fire bombings which wiped out some towns, most famously Coventry and Dresden." Harry did not mention that many of those firetroopers, as they had been called, had been petrified and executed in July 1945, as test subjects to the first atomic bomb test. "They nearly succeeded in London, but a volunteer group from Diagon Alley managed to stop the fire from destroying St. Paul's Cathedral and then made it manageable enough for the Muggles to handle it."
"What happened to him?" "By late 1943, the magical world had undercut most of Grindelwald's people, and that allowed the Muggle Allies to really beat back the Nazis. Grindelwald himself abandoned the Nazis in late 1944, and started trying to get the Soviets and the United States to go to war as the war against the Nazis wound down. He basically let his followers fend for themselves, and a group including Albus Dumbledore, who's the Headmaster of Hogwarts now, tracked him down and, well, we don't know exactly what Dumbledore did, if he killed Grindelwald or stripped him of his power or what, but he announced that Grindelwald had been defeated and was gone forever." Harry knew, of course, but couldn't say as few others knew.
"That . . . that was a generation ago. . . ." Lily said nervously.
Harry nodded. "A Half-blood descended from one of the Founders of Hogwarts named Tom Riddle has given himself the title of Lord Voldemort. Over the last ten or fifteen years, he's managed to get nearly everyone to forget what he was and to think of him as the great defender of Pure-Blood rights and traditions, which he claims are being eroded away by, quote, blood traitors and Mudbloods." The magically-raised squirmed a bit.
"It's mostly nonsense, of course," Harry went on. "The Great Families still mostly control the Ministry. They would totally control it if so many of them weren't too lazy to actually work."
Sirius broke in, "My father and grandfather and uncles all complain about what the Ministry does, and each one could have walked into a mid-level position the day after they left Hogwarts but didn't. Each one gets offers of serving on commissions every month or so, but they turn down most of them. They think they're too good to do any real work."
"Our grandfather did just that, and ended up as the head of Magical Law Enforcement, one of the four main jobs in the Ministry," James agreed.
"Anyway, there have also been more and more attacks on the so- called 'blood traitors'," Harry said. "The terrorists are called Death Eaters. They wear white masks and black robes, and generally attack one house with overwhelming numbers. The one time they attacked a large group, twelve of them were killed."
"Of course, lots of regular people were killed and hurt, too," James said sadly. "Our little sister was killed, Grandfather died from being hurt, and we almost lost Harry."
"Do these Death Eaters work for this Voldemort?" Lily asked.
"Yes, but it hasn't been officially proven," Harry said.
"Why not?" Lily asked.
"Are you sure?" Sirius demanded. His parents really glorified Voldemort but denounced the killings.
"I'm sure, because Grandfather was sure. As for their influence, well, One Death Eater was captured," Harry said. "Instead of questioning him, he was Kissed by a dementor two hours later." Harry turned to Lily. "Dementors are evil embodied demons. They feed on emotions, and can literally suck your soul and consciousness from your body. That's called 'the Kiss' and is how the British Ministry executes people."
"They . . . they just had a person killed, just two hours later? No trial?"
"The trial took about ten minutes," James said.
"How. . . ? Never mind. Why didn't they question him?" Lily demanded.
"Now that's the question," Harry said. "Our grandfather was angry. He had been seriously injured, and so had no say in what happened. We don't know if they were just being stupid, or if, since there was no way to save the killer, some ally just made certain he was Kissed before he could make a deal."
With that, conversation died down for about an hour. Each child had a great deal to think about. Finally, to break the silence, Harry broke open a large package of Bertie Botts, and while they were trying to guess the flavors, got Lily to tell him how Muggle students exchanged mail with their parents. (It was done by the owl postal workers in Diagon Alley, who exchanged the letters between the two systems for a small fee, taking or picking up the letters via the nearest large post office in Charing Cross. Harry was also interested to learn that the same system could be used to order magazines and other items from the Muggle world. He vowed to somehow set up a current account in a Muggle bank and wished he had inquired about this while a student the first time around.)
Finally, they arrived at the Hogsmeade train station. Harry led his brother and four friends directly over to Hagrid, who, having met Harry briefly that August, stooped to say hello. "It looks like your brother has two girlfriends," Sirius teased James as he and Remus joined James on one boat while Harry went with Ellen and Lily. "Really, James, how did he do that to Bella?"
"I don't know," James admitted. "I never saw anything like it."
As the arrived students awaited Professor McGonagall, the Hogwarts ghosts made their usual appearance, startling most of the First years. Harry was grateful that Peeves hadn't put in an appearance.
Glancing around, Harry saw Peter off in the back, near a very mousey girl. He hoped that separating Pettigrew from the Marauders would keep him away from Voldemort's notice, should the war last so long.
With the air of a connoisseur, Harry decided that while the Sorting Hat's song wasn't as happy as during his first year at Hogwarts, it wasn't as gloomy as the later ones, either. Harry ignored the Head Table and memorized his new classmates as they were Sorted. Unlike his class, which had started off with 42 students, there were 51 to be Sorted.
Harry frowned when Narcissa Black was Sorted into Slytherin. He had had a long talk with the Hat, and had hoped that it might make some different decisions. Still, the Hat didn't have total free will in the matter.
Harry was happier a few minutes later when Pettigrew was Sorted into Ravenclaw (much to Harry's surprise). Harry went next.
"Hello again, Mister Potter," the Hat said. "I felt your disappointment when I sent young Miss Black to where she belongs. There really was no other choice for her. With her attitudes, I would have had to send her there even if one of her parents had been Muggle-born and the other had been a Muggle."
'I understand,' Harry thought. He knew that only a total Muggleborn, like Lily, could not be sent into Slytherin, although there were few Slytherins with a Muggle parent.
"I survey each student when they enter the Hall, and know nearly all their placements before I sit on a single head," the Hat said proudly. "I am making the two other adjustments you asked for, and adjusting a few others to make the numbers come out fairly even."
'Thank you for your help,' Harry thought.
"I am proud to help the entire Order of Founders," the Hat whispered back. "I still think you would do well in Slytherin. Still, GRYFFINDOR!"
Harry frowned a bit when he saw Snape go off to Ravenclaw to sit next to Pettigrew. 'That will likely be unhealthy is some way,' he thought. In the end, there were 11 students in Gryffindor (4 boys, 7 girls, including Ellen as well as Lily), 11 in Slytherin, 15 in Hufflepuff (almost always the largest House each year), and 14 in Ravenclaw. Harry recognized the Head Boy towards the back end of the Gryffindor table -- Frank Longbottom. His future wife Alice Grant was the Fifth year girls' prefect, while Gideon Prewitt, Molly's youngest brother, was the Fifth year boys' prefect. He also saw Caradoc Dearborn, who had been an Order member killed in 1980.
Harry saw other people he knew in the other three Houses. At the Slytherin table, Madam Rosmerta was the Head Girl, Quirrell was a prefect, and so was Lucius Malfoy. Harry had known that Professor Sinistra had been a Slytherin a few years older than his parents, and he was not surprised to see Skeeter, Lockhart, Bagman, and Bertha Jorkins, as well as Avery, Rosier, and of course the Blacks and younger Lestrange.
At the Ravenclaw table Harry thought he recognized Luna's mother amongst the Sixth or Seventh years, while Kingsley Shacklebolt was a bit younger. At the Hufflepuff table was Stubby Boardman and, he thought, the boy who would become Skeeter's silent, long- suffering photographer, nicknamed 'Bozo'.
Harry wondered what it meant that he knew more Slytherins than Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs together.
Harry knew most of the teachers, of course. Slughorn, Flitwick, Kettleburn, Binns (who had been a ghost since early that century), Sprout (who had been a teacher for a few years, but was just taking over as Head of Hufflepuff), Vector, Hooch, and of course McGonagall (who was announced as the new Deputy Headmistress -- obviously the previous Head of Hufflepuff had been the Deputy). The Astronomy, Divination, Runes, Muggle Studies, and of course Defense instructors were unknown to him. Madam Pomfrey was introduced as the new Infirmarian, and Professor Vector as the new Arithmancy professor. The Defense Instructor was introduced as Glen Burke. Harry remembered that he was an auror who had been seriously injured in the May Massacre. It was also announced that Mister Pringle, the caretaker, had taken an apprentice, Argus Filch. Harry was glad that neither man had a kneezle half-breed with him.