An AU of a Sixth Year AU Story: What would have happened if two liberal American druids had taken Harry to America, before returning with him to Hogwarts? In this chapter, we see Tabitha's reactio...
Harry and his friends enjoyed the second week of classes as much as the first, although again, Snape gave Harry an exceedingly hard time, and again marked his perfect potion an 8 out of 10.
Saturday, September 14, 1991
"Ah, Professor Snape. I was hoping to run into you."
Snape barely gave the druid witch a glance. "I assure you, madam, I have no desire in learning anything about your superstitions, and no, I shall not encourage those students under my care to do so, either."
"Well, I hadn't intended to talk to you about either," Tabitha continued in the same sweet voice, one that her husband and children had learned actually meant she was mad as hell. "I understand you are a Potions Master?"
"There are a number of establishments which will make whatever nostrum you need, madam. Please let me pass."
"First, a few simple questions." Tabitha continued blocking the professor's path. Although thin, she was actually about Snape's height, and to his surprise, he wasn't intimidating her at all. "You British follow the standard potions hierarchy, correct? Apprentice Brewer, Master Brewer, Potions Master, Apprentice Alchemist, Alchemist, Master Alchemist, correct?"
"Yes," Snape said with an exaggerated sigh.
"And you passed your Potion Master exam on your third try, slightly better than average, correct?"
That startled Snape a bit. "How did you know that?"
"All those taking the exams are noted in The International Alchemists' Journal," Tabitha reminded him. "In other words, it's on the public record."
The smile left Tabitha's face and the green eyes bore into his. Even with his powers of Occlumency, Snape felt the terror she was projecting into him, and he knew how much power and skill that signified. He realized then that this was a witch who out-stripped him in power, which was not something he had to deal with very often at his own high level.
And those eyes -- Lily Evans' eyes, Harry Potter's eyes -- eyes that could project compassion or contempt but always projected power. Snape backed up a step.
"I am a Master Alchemist," Tabitha stated coldly, "and what's more, I passed every level on my first try. I overheard a group of your students chortling last week and did a little investigation, so let me warn you, you slimy piece of Death-eating trash, if you don't grade my son's work fairly, you will live to regret it, but not for long."
"And who is your . . . it's Potter, isn't it?" A snarl entered Snape's voice. "I will treat that exhibitionist twerp in any way I see fit! He is. . . . EEP!"
Snape had stopped insulting Harry and his eyes had crossed, since Tabitha had merely reached through his robes and taken hold of him in a very sensitive area. "I killed more powerful Death Eaters than you ever were, Snape," Tabitha said in a cold, soft voice. "Get this through your head. Dumbledore can't protect you from us. I have no doubt you will be nasty, snide, bigoted, and stupid when it comes to my son. You will not make his life unbearable, and you will grade him and his classmates fairly, or, if you are extraordinarily lucky, I'll just take over your job and you can go off and make love philters for pimply teenagers."
Snape tried to growl, but squeaked again when she gave his privates a twist. "Don't think we don't have the leverage to do it, needledick. Don't think Lucius Malfoy can help you any more than Dumbledore can. Don't think I won't twist your liitle balls off and use them to make a potion that I will use to torture you for a century. And remember, I can out-duel my husband about half the time, and he's an international auror who had been accepted as a hit-wizard. He loves Harry as much as I do. Harry has a protector who is a hit-wizard who is about as powerful as Dumbledore, and three unofficial uncles, one of whom knows more ritual magic than nearly anyone else on earth, who easily deflected a killing curse from your other Master. . . ."
Snape's wide, watering eyes grew even wider, as he remembered the incident.
"I see you know what I'm talking about. Good. And he has another very powerful uncle who is high among the Hidden and who is closer to Hogwarts than you think . . . and they would love to spill your blood as a sacrifice. Tread carefully, Severus Snape, or your balls will be the least-precious things that you lose. Have no doubts, your life is in your hands, and ours."
After another tight squeeze and twist, Tabitha released her hold, and Snape sank to the floor, moaning softly from the pain. "Speaking of hands, you'll excuse me while I go wash mine." Tabitha stalked away. Snape was very glad the druids were only in the castle on Saturdays.
While Snape kept up his needling of Harry and his friends, their marks did reflect their actual accomplishments from then on.
Later that same day, the notice went up about the start of flying classes. Harry and his friends were dismayed to see that they would be flying with the Slytherins, starting the next Thursday.
Harry was looking forward to flying, as was Ron. Neville had gotten over his basic fear of flying, but wasn't thrilled by the idea of flying class, and Hermione looked worried. Ron teasing her about it didn't help.
The Gryffindors arrived to the flying area that Thursday in a group. The Slytherins were already there. "Bet they took the best brooms already," Harry said.
"According to Fred and George, there aren't any decent school brooms to begin with," Ron replied.
Madam Hooch was coming up towards them a few minutes later, but stopped as she watched her class. The Slytherins were sneering and jeering, but she understood what was going on and hushed them, curious. The Gryffindors paid her no attention, and stayed watching Harry. Harry had questioned each of the students and was now matching them with the brooms.
Hooch did little maintenance on the brooms, other than checking the charms and protection spells on them. Her rational was that if you could fly a beat-up broom like these, you could fly almost anything. It took time for most expert flyers to adjust the broom bristles, especially on an unknown broom, but she saw Potter arrange them with a casual flick of his fingers that she felt was right. She saw him constantly eyeing the one broom that she had meant to go over herself and hadn't had time for -- a Hufflepuff had crashed it Tuesday. Hooch smiled when she saw him take that one for his own.
"All ready then?" she demanded. The Gryffindors nodded sheepishly, while the Slytherins snickered. "Right. Stand to the left of your broom and give the command, 'up'!"
Only a few brooms leapt into the flyers' hands. Hooch saw Potter, one of the few whose broom had done as it was commanded, giving his broom the eye.
"Come now! Be in command!" she ordered as she moved to Harry's side. "What's the problem now, Potter?" she asked quietly while most of the class shouted at their broomsticks instead of commanding them. She saw that Granger's broom looked like it had hiccoughs.
"The broom bucked into my hand, Madam Hooch. It felt like the vertical stabilizing charms were off, or even unstable."
She cast a diagnostic spell, and saw the boy was wrong. She nearly growled. Turning to the group, she saw they all had their brooms now. She faced the Slytherins. "All right, who put the bouncing hex on this broom stick! It certainly wasn't there twenty minutes ago!" If anyone had climbed aboard that broom, they would have been taken for a real ride, and may easily have been seriously hurt.
The Slytherins all denied having dared to tamper with the broom, although from his smirk and the looks directed his way by the other Slytherins, she knew it was likely the Malfoy boy who had done it. She took the hex off the Potter boy's broom, and got the class started.
That night at dinner, Hooch turned to her friend. "Any prospects for seeker, Minne?"
"No," McGonagall said with a sigh. She had been trying to break her cousin of the habit of calling her 'Minnie' since she had been Head Girl and Hooch a First year. "I could probably field a half dozen beaters almost as good as the Weasleys, but not a seeker in the bunch."
"Would you consider having a secret tryout Saturday morning? Just you, me, and Wood?"
McGonagall frowned. "Why secret?"
"Because it's a First year."
"Really? If this weren't about Quidditch, I'd think you were having me on."
"The boy's a natural. Not just a natural flyer, he understands brooms as well as any professional. I just looked at him, distributing the brooms, changing the angles of the bent and broken bristles while talking to his Housemates, and knew it. That Granger girl . . . she's a very nervous flyer. Might have a touch of vertigo. He seemed to know just by handling them which broom was the most stable, and gave it to her. The second worst broom he gave to the Weasley boy, who knows how to fly a bit, and warned him, correctly, that the broom would dip to starboard on a turn."
"He took the worst one for himself, and a good thing he did. Someone had put a bouncing jinx on it, probably young Malfoy. He felt it as it jumped into his hand! He thought it was the vertical stabilization charms, but I don't think most non-professional flyers would have come even that close."
"How did he fly?"
"Perfectly, on the worst school broom I had out there. The Longbottom boy started to tip over, and he was there in an instant, adjusted him, and was off, all in less than three seconds. He coached Thomas and Granger at each step. I think he's more than a decent enough flyer and we can test him to see if he has any seeker abilities at all."
McGonagall nodded. There was no doubt who Hooch was talking about. "All right. I shall talk with Wood."
Saturday, September 21, 1991
Oliver Wood simply stood there, mouth open. Professor McGonagall was much more dignified, but equally surprised.
"I told you," Hooch said smugly.
"And that's on a school broom!" Wood said. "How good would he be on something decent?"
"Care to find out?" a strange voice said behind them.
"Who are you?" McGonagall turned and demanded of the stranger.
"My name is Thomas Lawrence. I'm part of the team of druids that is here this year. We were informed about Harry's trial, and no, not by Harry. If you told him to keep this quiet, he did."
"We did," McGonagall said. "I didn't see you there."
"Professor Dumbledore is not the only person who can be easily over-looked when he wants to be," Tom said easily. He waved at Harry, who flew over and greeted one of his surrogate uncles.
"May I?" Tom asked Hooch and McGonagall, holding out what was obviously a broomstick case. They looked at each other, and Hooch nodded. Harry's eyes brightened.
Harry gasped. This wasn't the Golden Arrow his step-father had flown on patrol for three years before giving it Harry the previous spring. "Wow! A Nimbus Two Thousand!"
"You'll have to fly a regular school broom in class, Potter," Hooch warned. Harry merely nodded his head. "Go and give it a try," Hooch added kindly.
Harry smiled and took off on a running start that took McGonagall and Wood's breath away.
"I've never seen a student flying like that," McGonagall said.
"Neither have I," Hooch agreed.
"He's been like that since he turned two, and got his first Apple Trainer," Tom said a little wistfully. He had a touch of vertigo, and was a very bad flyer.
"It looks like we've found ourselves a seeker," McGonagall told Wood five minutes later. They were watching Hooch throw Muggle golf balls into the air and Harry was catching them easily.
Wood didn't answer. He was smiling too much.
Sunday, September 22, 1991
Harry looked up from his eggs, frowning. There was a lot of whispering going on, more so than any morning since the first morning of the school year. Had more students been there for an early breakfast, the whisperings would have been louder.
"What's going on?" Harry asked Percy, who as usual was the first Gryffindor prefect at the table. There were a few Seventh years with their heads buried in books, Wood (looking at a notebook of Quidditch plays), Percy, Neville, Harry, a yawning Ron, and Hermione. Harry was taking his friends to visit Hagrid.
"I'm not certain," Percy admitted. He opened up his Daily Prophet and gasped.
"What is it?" Ron demanded.
A Sixth year wordlessly handed Harry her copy of the paper.
/SIRIUS BLACK ESCAPES FROM AZAKABAN/
"Who's Sirius Black?" Hermione demanded.
"He was James Potter's best friend," Harry said, still not used to calling anyone but Henry his father. "He was supposedly their secret keeper."
"What does that mean?" Ron asked, still yawning.
"We were under something called a Fidelius Charm," Harry explained. "A household under the Charm is invisible and unfindable from anyone not told the location, and only the secret keeper can reveal it. Even someone who had lived in a house their entire life wouldn't be able to find it. In fact, most people wouldn't even remember more than a very vague location, if they didn't forget about the place at all."
"Supposed to be?" Percy cut in. "He was convicted of it! The Ministry doesn't make mistakes like that!"
"No, he wasn't really convicted of anything," Harry said. "He showed up after the house was destroyed and my parents were, well, you know. Then he left. The next day, he dueled with another friend of my parents in Muggle London, killing him. Something like a dozen Muggles were killed during the fight. He was sent to prison for being involved with their death, and even then he wasn't tried. He was just declared guilty and shipped off to Azkaban. He never pled guilty and he was apparently never even asked any questions."
"Are you sure, Harry?" Percy demanded.
"My adoptive parents were there, Percy. I mean, they were involved with the fight and were actually at the house within something like ten minutes of the, well, the final explosion. They also said the International and the Confederation both asked to see the transcripts of the trial and interrogations, and there were none, except that he was found sum . . . summer. . . ."
"Summarily guilty?" Hermione supplied.
Percy frowned at that information.
"Do you mean Black wasn't guilty?" Hermione asked.
"Oh, he was almost certainly guilty of killing at least some of the Muggles," Harry answered, "although that might have been as result of the duel. Still, he was supposed to have been James', my father's, best friend, a close as a twin brother. When my parents, the Dorffs, told me about it, it seemed like they think the evidence is over-whelming, but that they still have a hard time believing it. My step-father said that he really wished there had been a thorough investigation, and that Dumbledore's request for one had also been turned down at the same time."
"I wonder why," Neville put in.
"Vol . . . err, You-Know-Who was gone. . . ."
"Killed, you mean," Percy put in.
Harry shook his head. "They all told me he wasn't fully killed, but disembodied. Something between fully alive and a ghost. He can be reanimated. That's one reason why the International still has him listed as a fugitive, and the British Ministry is supposed to keep an eye on suspected Death Eaters, to make certain they don't bring him back."
"Well," Percy said, "I guess that's possible, if pretty unlikely."
"They did say that if he wasn't brought back within somewhere between thirty and fifty years, he would start to fade away. Certainly by fifty years, he would be more ghost than revivable spirit."
Percy nodded his understanding. "Well, Harry, ten years down."
"Did they say anything else about it?" Hermione asked.
Harry gave her a crooked smile. "Tom said that it would take at least seven years for the spirit to stabilize enough to start planning."
Percy frowned at them, and left the table. He didn't want to hear any more.
After breakfast, the three boys were waiting near a girls' toilet while Hermione brushed her teeth and flossed. "We went over the mouth cleaning spell already," Ron complained. "Why does she have to mess about with Muggle things like that?"
"Her parents are dentists," Harry said with a shrug. "She's just used to doing things this way."
"That's what you get when you hang about with a Mu . . . Muggle-born," Malfoy said, coming up to them. As usual, Goyle and Crabbe were behind them.
"What do you want, nancy-boy?" Ron sneered back.
Malfoy visibly held his temper and kept his eyes on Harry. "Think you're special, don't you, Potter? Convincing the staff to let you fly just because of that scar."
"No, I'm flying because they asked me to." Harry didn't want to brag, but it was clear to nearly everyone but Malfoy that Harry really was a superior flyer.
"Going to go hunting for your godfather, Potter?"
Harry looked puzzled.
"Oh, you didn't know Black was your godfather?"
"Gee, I wonder how you came by inside information like that," Neville said with contempt. "The mere fact that Malfoy here knows anything about Black argues for his father having been a Death Eater," he said to Harry and Ron.
"Are you saying. . . ."
"That all three of your fathers were Death Eaters? Yes."
"Longbottom, you know they were under the Imperius!"
"Oh," Harry said innocently, "so they weren't evil, just weak-minded?"
Malfoy reached for his wand, but by the time he had it partially out Harry's was a quarter-inch from Malfoy's nose. Neville and Ron had theirs out well-before Crabbe and Goyle had more than touched theirs.
"We'd challenge you to a duel, if you had any guts," Malfoy managed to sneer despite the heavy sweat that had broken out.
"We might accept, if you had any honor," Harry retorted.
"Three on three, tonight at midnight. At the trophy room?" Malfoy dared.
Harry glanced at Ron and Neville, and said, "Fine. See you then. Seconds?"
Malfoy hesitated, and then smiled nastily. "We'll bring one for all of us."
"Fine." The three Slytherins walked backwards until they could disappear around a corner.
Hermione opened the door to the toilet and stormed out. "What were you three thinking of! No way! You three mustn't go wandering around the school at night. Think of the points you might lose if you're caught!"
"It's none of your business," Ron said in a nasty tone.
"We're in the same House, of course it's my business!"
"It's not!" Why can't you keep your nose. . . ."
"Of course it's her business," Harry said firmly, stepping into the argument. "Hermione is our second."
"What!" Hermione and Ron exclaimed.
"She's our second," Harry said.
"Good idea," Neville added.
"But. . . ." both Ron and Hermione objected. They glared at each other.
"Please, Hermione?" Harry asked. Hermione chewed nervously on her lower lip with her over-sized teeth. Ron was about to point out that if she didn't want to hear rodent references, that was a habit she should stop. Harry glared at Ron, who closed his mouth and kept his peace.
Finally, Hermione said, "I don't want us to lose the House Cup, especially because of our getting caught. Don't you think we should tell Percy or someone?"
"Anyone but Percy!" Ron protested.
Harry assured Hermione, "Hermione, we can't do much more than shoot sparks at one another. What else could we do? Clean each other's teeth?"
"Well. . . ."
"Please, Hermione? With Ron and Neville involved anyway, who else could we trust to watch our backs? Please?"
"All right," Hermione said, resigned. She really liked having Neville and especially Harry as her friends She glared at Ron. "I'll do it for you and Neville, Harry."
Ron glared back.
"Come on," Harry said. "Let's go see Hagrid."