Just as the chapter title says...
SPECIAL DISCLAIMER: Some parts of this chapter are direct excerpts from the first HP book, recycled into this story!
NOTE: I don't think I'd be so good at plotting schedules (heck, I don't even remember how I came up with the one from my HoG fic!), so I'm taking Harry's schedule from his first year and making it the same here.
Here, I wish to thank the brilliant Full-Pensieve, from whom I learned the word "hornswoggle," which is used here in this chapter!
Chapter 14: The First Week at School
Dan met Jessica again on their way out the portrait hole and down to the Great Hall. Despite what Dan knew of what happened between his own father and the Weasleys, he couldn't help but be friendly with Jessica.
Dan couldn't stop thinking about all of it. He was sure that what happened was terrible, and he couldn't claim to know all of what his father went through... but wasn't it time to put it to an end, bring some sort of closure, and move on? Couldn't things have been much worse?
This morning, the ceiling of the Great Hall displayed a clear blue sky with some fluffy white clouds. It looked like a sort of perfect day.
The mail arrived in a flurry of owls, dropping off messages and packages to their owners. Cloudy arrived bearing a message for Dan from his father, and after accepting a strip of bacon from Dan, the owl flew off.
The message wished Dan well with his time at Hogwarts, and wondered if it would be okay with Dan if they exchanged messages at the end of every week, so Cloudy wouldn't wear himself out with transatlantic flights.
Dan decided to send a reply later, thanking his father for writing and saying he would be fine with such a plan. But deep down, he wondered about his father's conditions for letting him attend Hogwarts. Was his father trying to play some sort of game or something?
His thoughts were interrupted by Professor Granger passing out the schedules to her Gryffindors. Dan scanned it and made notes of which books and supplies he would need for when, based on whenever he had what classes.
Dan and Jessica were on their way up to Gryffindor Tower when they heard some laughing from the Ravenclaw sixth-years. They were all centered around some girl named Jaclyn.
Dan was looking the group when he heard a combination of a growl, a snarl, and a hiss from behind him. He turned, surprised, to see Jessica glaring at the girl with an almost feral look.
"Jessica, what -"
Instead, Jessica grabbed Dan's hand and practically dragged him up to Gryffindor Tower back with her before the group could see her. Along the way, Dan could hear some of Jessica's mutterings.
"/Just/ the person I needed to see on my first day at school... Ooh, how I'd love to see her go down in flames... Curse that evil, hypocritical bitch... Even I wouldn't act like her on my worse day... Looks like a nice person at first but is really a demon in disguise... You would never guess she could be so foul unless you've experienced it firsthand... Never will I sink to her level, though..."
Dan was wholeheartedly shocked to witness Jessica radiating such vehemence and animosity. What was the deal with this older girl to make Jessica feel this way?
Once they were back in the common room, Jessica finally let go of Dan's hand and threw herself in an armchair, growling.
Jessica snapped out of her trance and looked at Dan as though she had just seen him for the first time. "Oh, sorry Dan. Just... the infamous Weasley temper and all that."
"Ah, okay... So, I'm guessing there's a story as to why you hate this person so much."
Jessica took a deep sigh and began her explanation.
"Her name is Dolores Norris. As you just saw for yourself, she's now a Ravenclaw sixth-year. She wants to be a lawyer, and if she goes the way I think she's going to go, she'll be one of those deadly sharks whom everyone fears if she's not representing them. I think her lack of any real ambition is what made the Sorting Hat send her to Ravenclaw instead of Slytherin.
"So, a couple of years ago, we meet at some sort of book club which my mother told me about, which was run by one Dolores Norris. At first, Dolores and I got along well, and even after a few weeks, we got along so well she was almost like an older sister to me.
"But then something happened. There was this boy about her age, another teenager, who is undoubtedly one of the most dishonest people I have ever come across. He is so dishonest that even if he told me that Monday came right before Tuesday, I would still check my calendar, just in case.
"This boy accused me of trying to sabotage some thing of his which he made for the group, and no sooner than the discovery of this act been found than did an anonymous owl come bearing a message for him. It taunted him about him, and seemed to be signed anonymously, but it bore my name.
"Now, this was obviously done by some jealous git to set me up, and I pointed out that anyone could have put my name on it and made it look as though I sent it. But did Dolores even bother to perform a simple Tracking Spell to determine whether or not I had sent it? No! Instead, she automatically took the bastard's word for it and kicked me straight out without even listening to a word I had to say! She made this whole big spectacle out of it, too, like it was a sort of public execution or something! 'I'm sorry to say that for the first time since starting this group that I have had to kick out a group member...' Sorry? Yeah, right! She was milking it for all it was worth!
"But did Dumb-olores stop there? Oh no, she did not! When I tried to politely explain to her how it couldn't have been me, and it was all circumstantial and not definite, etc., she wrote back, threatening me with reporting me to the Owl Post Authorities for harassment/, of all things! What would she have told them? 'Oh, please report this girl, she was being /nice to me!' Empty threat on her part, but still, the audacity of that horrid girl! She was so hypocritical, too! She thought she could do whatever she wanted towards me and it would be justified, and yet when I try to exercise my right to defend myself, she acts like the victim and throws absurd threats at me! I HATE HER!"
Here Jessica finished it off with those three simple yet powerful words, breathing and panting heavily as though she had just run a marathon.
"So... what happened after that?" Dan asked cautiously, somehow getting the feeling that that wasn't all there was to his friend's story.
Here an unnerving smirk found its way onto Jessica's face. "Oh, I was planning to get back at Dolores in some way... but Fate seemed to take care of it for me first.
"One day, a couple of summers ago, Dolores was in Diagon Alley, looking for some special little elixirs and such for some special and rare magical creature of hers which she supposedly has as a pet. She was fooling around with something an accidentally broke these containers of catnip and some other potion... together, they created this substance that was highly addictive to cats and other catlike creatures. Within a minute or so, she was buried under a mountain of crazed cats! But, to this very day, she feared my beloved Bookplanks above all, because he got a head start ahead of all the other cats and..." Here Jessica stifled an oncoming fit of giggles. "I can't say it."
Dan looked at the time and saw that they now had ten minutes to get their things together. When they realized this, they did just that, and ran off to their first class together.
The brief "encounter" with that older girl and Jessica's subsequent rants and explanations were quickly forgotten as the day went on, and well-forgotten by the end of the week on Friday morning.
Dan was truly amazed with all he had to learn from what Hogwarts had to offer to him.
Every Wednesday night at midnight, Dan and his classmates studied the night skies with their telescopes, learning the names of different stars and the movements of the planets under the guidance of Professor Sinistra.
Three times a week, they had Herbology classes in the greenhouses behind the castle with Michelle's father, Professor Longbottom. The professor was in his element as he taught them about the uses and care of different kinds of magical plants and fungi.
History of Magic was taught by Jessica's mother, Hermione Weasley (although she was addressed and known as Professor Granger). Unlike her predecessor, the dreary and boring ghost Professor Binns, she engaged students in thinking about cause and effect. As first years, they started with magic in ancient times, and as they made their way through their magical education, they would progress through the ages. Dan didn't know whether or not he should automatically dislike Professor Granger for what she did to his father all those years ago or give her a fresh new chance, so he just decided to shelve his emotions and thoughts regarding that altogether.
Charms was taught by a tiny little Professor Flitwick. He had to stand on a pile of books on top his chair in order to see over his desk. It was in classes like this one that Dan learned there was more to magic than waving your wand and saying some strange-sounding words.
Transfiguration was taught by the new Head of Hufflepuff House, a stout middle-aged woman named Professor Metaprar. Once she gave them grave warnings about how dangerous Transfiguration could be if gone wrong, she was nice and encouraging with the work she assigned her students.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was taught by another person from Harry's past who was involved in that very serious mistake: Professor Lupin. The wizarding world had come a considerably long way in rights towards werewolves. There were still a few people who shunned them, but otherwise, life was good for them. Lupin taught them about evil little magical creatures they should avoid or at least know how to fend off, and was very informative.
However, there was one last class on Dan's weekly schedule which he was interested in, and not purely for the sake of his academics: Potions, taught by Professor Snape.
Adrian Malfoy may not have been in Double Potions with the Slytherins, since he was one year ahead of Dan, but the first-year Slytherins weren't so nice to their Gryffindor counterparts, either.
From what Dan had heard, Snape was more impartial to all students since the end of the Second War, regardless of their House. He didn't employ the scare tactics, either. It turned out it was all an act so Snape could look as though he really wanted the spot for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and thus have reasons to hate Dumbledore, making himself look good for Voldemort. With that last Dark Lord now long dead and gone, Snape's previous attitude and methods had also long since vanished.
They all lined up outside the dungeons, and Snape came down a hallway in all his dark glory. Opening up the door to his dungeon, he led them all inside.
Once everyone had settled down, Snape did the roll call. When he got up to Dan's name, something seemed to flicker in his expression only for a split-second before it was gone.
After the roll call was done, Snape gave his latest version of the speech he reserved for new first-year students.
"You are here to learn the subtle and exact art of potion-making," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word - like some other professors, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. "As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses... I can teach you how to brew fame, bottle glory, even stopper death - if you are willing to learn and rise to the challenges of this class."
A stiff silence followed this little speech, and Snape allowed them all a moment to digest all this before getting down to business.
"Potter!" he said so suddenly that Dan jolted. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
'Why does this sound so familiar?' Dan thought to himself. Then he remembered it from his reading on his books. "I know it's a powerful kind of sleeping potion... The Draught of Living Death?"
The tiniest of smiles appeared on Snape's face. "Good, Potter. Now, can you tell me where you would look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
In spite of all his previous reading, Dan's memory turned up blank there. With a small shrug, Dan said as politely as he could, "I'm afraid that I don't remember, sir."
To Dan's relief, Snape didn't seem angry or such. "Ah well. Can anyone else answer that question?"
Some hands went up. Snape selected the first one to raise his hand first, who just happened to be a Slytherin. "The stomach of a goat, sir."
"Precisely, Nott." As the wiry boy allowed himself a not-so-modest smirk, Snape then asked him, "Now, can you tell me what the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane is?"
Nott's face instantly fell, and he looked down at his table, embarrassed. Taking that as a negative answer, Snape looked around the class, asking, "Anyone else?"
Jessica's hand shot up like a rocket, and so Snape chose her. "Monkshood and wolfsbane are the same plant, which is also known as aconite, Professor," Jessica said.
"Correct, Miss Weasley. Between yourself and Mister Potter, you have earned two points for Gryffindor, and Mister Nott has earned one point for Slytherin." (Here, Dan marveled at how times had changed since his own father was a student at Hogwarts.)
The rest of the period was spent making a simple potion whose purpose was to cure boils. Snape told them what they should do and what their potion should be like at what point during the process, as opposed to his tactics years ago when he left it to the poor helpless students to figure it out all on their own. By the end, to Dan's great relief, his potion turned out perfect. Snape awarded everyone who made their potion correctly five points, and after everything was cleaned up, the bell rang and they were all dismissed.
On his way out, Dan tripped on a stone whose edge was sticking out of the floor. He managed to throw himself against the doorframe just in time as to avoid falling over.
"What happened there, Mister Potter?"
He turned to Snape with a neutral expression on his face. "I think there's this stone that isn't sitting right in the floor, sir."
Snape looked down to see it, and commented, "It may be a good think you accidentally discovered it and then pointed it out to me, Potter, before someone really got hurt. I'll have to get that fixed. Carry on."
Dan thanked the Potions professor and subsequently left.
Snape watched the first-year students leave, and yet for some reason, he could not stop thinking of one of the Gryffindors from that class...
Daniel Potter. A Muggle-born, or so the book said, actually from the United States...
And then Snape remembered making eye contact with the boy, looking deep into those emerald eyes...
Those /emerald eyes.../
Suddenly, Snape froze at his desk.
No bloody way could that be the son of Harry Potter, who was now dead... right?
Then again, even all those years ago when Harry Potter had supposedly died, when Snape was called in to analyze all the "blood" for himself, Snape still had his suspicions. He was a very observant man who paid close attention to detail (a fact he prided himself very much on), and somehow just /knew/, for reasons he couldn't quite explain, that that was not Harry Potter's blood, and that he may not have actually been dead after all.
The act that this Daniel Potter may indeed be Harry Potter's son was not what surprised Snape the most. The Potions Master wondered more as to why Harry Potter would allow his son to practice magic at the school he himself had been unjustly turned away from, in a world which Harry Potter now undoubtedly hated with a passion. Did young Dan Potter somehow manage to hornswoggle his father into letting him go? (Here, Snape could really think of no other explanation as to why.)
However, the biggest pressing question at the moment was what to do. He could hardly run around the castle yelling at the top of his lungs that Harry Potter was actually alive all this time, (also because he wouldn't be caught dead doing so). In the end, Snape decided to pretend this had never happened.
With all that settled, Snape managed to collect himself just in time for his last class of the day to come in.
(End of Chapter 14.)
A/N: I think this was more of a transitional chapter. Any thoughts?
Note about Jessica's older nemesis: She's just this character I came up with out of the blue, whom I will most likely use as a sort of rival for Jessica Weasley later on, the same way Draco Malfoy serves as Harry Potter's nemesis in the canon books. For those of you who are curious about her name... "Dolores" comes from the Latin word for "pain" or "suffering", and "Norris" was the name of a nosy character in a novel by Jane Austen (which is also where J.K. Rowling got the name for Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris).
Next chapter is where we see what's going on for Harry back home... -//Quillian