Chapter 7 : Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts
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“Cassandra!” Hermione spoke sharply to her daughter. “You will behave yourself when we have guests.”
The bony, large-eyed girl giggled and backed out of the way of the door. Arthur stared at the spot where the girl had made a ball of flame appear in mid air with just her bare hand. He was having video game instincts again and he didn’t really want to step into the house.
“Roger,” Harry said, greeting his old school mate.
“Harry, good as hell to see you. Come in. And your son, I expect, not nearly the troublemaker as our child.”
“He makes up for lack of magic in other more creative ways. He has technology on his side, for one thing.” Harry put his hand behind Arthur and pushed him in.
Dinner was delicious and minimal magic was used during serving and clean up. Arthur wondered if his dad had requested that and hoped he hadn’t.
“Have you talked to Headmistress McGonagall?” Hermione asked Harry.
“We are invited to Hogwarts the second weekend of the first term as special guests.”
“That will be fun!” Hermione said to Arthur in her talking to a child voice. Harry grinned at it.
“Sure,” Arthur shrugged. “Dad is too famous though to go into public with, except in regular London.”
“Harry,” Roger admonished him jokingly, “You’re too famous.”
“I can’t seem to do anything about it. Dropping out of sight doesn’t seem to have diminished it much.”
“Are you kidding? The rumors were always flying,” Roger said shaking his head.
That night, Arthur lay in bed thinking as he tried to fall asleep. He heard his father’s footsteps in the hallway and called out to him. Harry opened the door wider and leaned in.
“Can I ask you something?” Arthur said.
“Of course.” Harry came in and sat on the edge of the bed. He waved his hand and the oil lamp beside the bed came up a little. The light was warm, which Arthur much preferred to the harsh light in the middle of the ceiling.
“You really don’t mind that I don’t have any magic?” Arthur asked him.
“No, I really don’t.” Harry put a hand on his shoulder. “You are as dear to me as you ever could be. Please don’t worry about that.” When Arthur sighed, Harry went on, “Did I ever tell you about your namesake?”
“Mr. Weasley loved Muggles. Collecting Muggle things was a hobby for him, especially technology. He had a collection of electrical plugs he was very proud of. Some still with the cut-off cord attached.”
Arthur put his hands over his face. “Oh dear,” he said in dismay.
Harry went on, smiling. “He collected machines that promptly broke when he tinkered with them at all, so he’d have to charm them to make them work again. He had an electric mixer, for example, and the motor burned out from being wired wrong, so he charmed it so that when you pushed the switch, the blades would turn.”
Arthur laughed through his hands.
“He would be thrilled that you are a Muggle and not just an ordinary one, but one that uses technology with such skill and ease. I would go so far as to say that he’d be honored even. It seems like magic to me sometimes, the way you bend those devices to work for you.” Harry paused. Arthur put his hands down and met his gaze. Harry rubbed Arthur’s hair back from his forehead. “Now, this almost ruly hair of yours, that is unacceptable,” he teased.
“Did he really have a collection of plugs?” Arthur asked.
Harry smiled more. “I don’t mean to give you the wrong impression. He was a caring man who stuck to his morals no matter what.”
“Seems like he paid for that,” Arthur opined.
Harry sighed. “He did. That’s the problem with being one of the few who do. If everyone did, from the beginning, many fewer people would get hurt. We owe a lot to the ones that stick to their conscience.”
Arthur sat up on his elbows. “You do realize that is how everyone talks about you.”
Harry straightened at that. “I don’t think I paid that dearly.”
“You lost the last fifteen years,” Arthur pointed out.
“No, I didn’t,” Harry said quietly. “I have you.” With that he bent over and kissed Arthur on the forehead.
Harry led Arthur along the platform at King’s Cross station. Between platform nine and ten he stopped beside the pillar and held Arthur’s shoulders. At a moment when no one was looking, he stepped through sideways, pulling his son with him. Arthur jerked when the wizard platform appeared. The morning local was just arriving and dark-robed figures stepped off the short train with boxes and bags. Harry waited at the first door and when it was clear, stepped on.
As they found an empty compartment, Harry said, “Eventually the Floo network will be hooked up and we can do this much faster.”
“Can’t Apparate?” Arthur asked.
“Not to Hogwarts or anywhere near it. Spells protect it from that. From most all approaches really.”
The train pulled out. It stopped four times before reaching Hogsmeade. For one of those legs they had a man and his daughter with them in their compartment. The daughter gaped at Harry and kept trying to tell her father who was across from them, but the man was busy reading Witch Weekly and shushed her each time.
Arthur shook his head after man and girl got off and hoped the school wasn’t just more of that multiplied by six hundred. Harry insisted he put on a robe before they arrived. Arthur gave in under the argument that his normal clothes would be anything but inside the school.
“There it is,” Harry said as Arthur dozed. Arthur opened his eyes and looked out where Harry pointed. All he saw was an old castle on a hill.
“Right there,” Harry said, adjusting his point because of the bend in the track.
“The ruin?” Arthur asked.
Harry, stunned, blinked at his son. After a moment, he said, “It’s supposed to look like a ruin to Muggles.”
“What do you see?” Arthur asked.
“A huge, whole castle with tall towers and four flags.” He glanced at Arthur. “I hadn’t thought of this,” he mulled aloud. The train slowed with much hissing and finally stopped. “Come on, we’ll figure it out. Filch always managed to get inside, somehow.”
They stepped off; some of the people stepping on stopped and gaped at Harry, who gave them a smile and a small wave. At the lake edge he paused to look over the water. Arthur stepped up beside him and Harry sighed, “No giant squid today.”
Arthur’s eyes went wide and when he realized Harry had walked on, rushed to catch up. He walked on the left side of his father, farther from the water’s edge. “That’s the Forbidden Forest,” Harry said as they came closer to the trees on the left.
“Why is it called that?”
“I didn’t tell you about it?”
“Maybe you mentioned it.”
“Lots of strange things in there.”
“Like what?” Arthur asked, and wondered if he should walk closer to the lake after all.
“Oh, some neat things like Unicorns and Thestrals. But mostly nasty things like giant spiders. The enchanted Ford Anglia might still be there. The giant probably is as well, though you can hear him coming from a ways off . . . the ground shakes when he walks.”
Arthur walked a little closer. “You never kid, do you?” he admonished his father.
With the lawn spread out before them, Arthur stopped dead. “I have to go and-” He started to turn.
Harry grabbed his arm. “It’s the spell. Still a ruin, eh?” he asked him.
“Pretty sad looking one, yeah. Old warning posters tacked all over.”
“Close your eyes. That worked for the Leaky Cauldron, right?”
“Yep.” Arthur obeyed. Harry led him along. Arthur fought against a sense that bad things were happening somewhere, for instance that perhaps the iron—which he had never in his life used—was even now burning a hole in something and that he really should be taking care of that instead of being here. As he walked farther the feeling faded and finally disappeared.
“Open your eyes.”
Arthur gasped as he took in the grand building with its broad walls and tall spires. “That looks like a castle,” he said.
Harry smiled and led the way to the front door. Students were clustered on the steps enjoying the sunlight. As Harry approached, some of them stood up. “Hello, Mr. Potter,” they said almost reverently. Harry returned their hellos and led Arthur inside.
“Harry,” McGonagall greeted him. “And Arthur,” she leaned down and shook his hand. “I’m the headmistress here.” They strolled across the long Entrance Hall chatting in low tones. Arthur could hear guilt in the woman’s voice, so he slowed down and let them get ahead. Looking around him, he espied the Great Hall from the chocolate frog card and stepped in the first open doorway to ponder the ceiling in wonder. He hadn’t meant to wander far, but he was halfway along between two very long tables before someone asked, “Who are you?” a little rudely.
Arthur met the gaze of a dark haired girl with violet eyes. He didn’t know that color of eye existed before now. She was tall and she used her height to lean over him a bit when he didn’t answer right away. He noticed she wore a badge that said, Head Girl. A boy came running up on the other side of the table, breathless and gasped, “Harry Potter is out in the Entrance Hall,” with such excited tones, Arthur worried he might have a seizure any moment.
The girl spun from Arthur and vaulted the table in a rather impressive move. The pair walked stiff-limbed to the doors in a bid for some decorum. Arthur rolled his eyes. Many of the other students seemed to hear the news as well and followed that way too. Arthur continued in the opposite direction, toward a far wall with a long raised table and banners with grand crests upon them.
“Baldric's beard, look at them,” someone said derisively. “You’d think Merlin himself was here.”
Arthur turned slowly and studied the speaker. It was a tall, well-built boy with a bad haircut and crooked teeth. A group of gloomy students clustered around him.
“Well, look who’s here,” a familiar voice said. Arthur turned and found himself facing the two blondes from Diagon Alley. They had several more blonde companions with them, tall and burly looking. “The Mudblood,” she said with a quirked mouth.
“Hello again,” Arthur said smoothly, ignoring her tone and going for confusion.
“You must not be a student here, or you are sadly out of uniform,” she said.
“I’m not a student here,” Arthur said.
The tall, dark haired one ambled over, his companions following as though by gravity. Arthur found that he was now very much surrounded. “You know what,” the boy said, forcibly turning Arthur with his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “You look an awful lot like the man everyone is worshiping out in the hall.”
“He’s my dad,” Arthur stated.
This sent the proper ripple of surprise through them. Arthur assumed that they would decide he was too hot to handle and leave him alone. Their grins widened instead in a display of perverse pleasure that no video game avatar could mimic, and they moved in closer. Arthur made the mistake of taking a step back and bumping into one of the tall blonde ones behind him.
“Going somewhere?” the boy asked lightly. “We haven’t gotten to know each other really at all.”
“We don’t really need to,” Arthur quipped.
“And why’s that? You go to Durmstrang instead or something?”
Arthur didn’t understand that question, so he chose to ignore it.
The dark-haired boy looked him over more closely. “I think he’d look good with a pair of goat horns. What do you think?” The boy pulled his wand out.
More voices sounded from the other side of the hall, but the students around him were too tall and pressed too thick for him to see. He thought of shouting but then considered how utterly embarrassing that would be.
“I think one of those long, pink dragon tails like you gave to Chazor the other day,” the blonde girl said with a smirk. “What, not going to take out your wand and defend yourself?” she derided him. Arthur didn’t respond. She stepped in front of her schoolmate to face him down. “Go on, get it out. Let’s see what the son of a legend can do with a wand.”
“I don’t have one,” he said.
“Don’t have one,” she said. “What are you, a Muggle?”
Arthur didn’t respond. The group around him gasped and inhaled with an odd hungry delight. “Imagine, the son of freakin’ Harry Potter, nothing more than a Squiby Muggle,” one of them said from beside him.
The blonde girl stuck her wand against his chest; Arthur didn’t even see her take it out. “Are you really?” she asked, her eyes glowing with pleasure. “God, father is going to freak when he hears that. I can’t wait to tell him.” She laughed in a very strange way.
Arthur glanced around himself, looking for an opening. Voices sounded from the end of the hall now as well and he thought he could hear his father’s. His heart was beating far too fast, but he really wished to just wait this out, rather than panicking.
“Ehem,” a voice behind him uttered. The students turned and snapped straight, almost as though coming to attention. Arthur moved his head and found Snape glaring at each of the students in turn. He looked displeased which fit his features well.
Arthur relaxed a little. “Mr. Snape,” he said, embarrassed at needing assistance.
“Arthur,” Snape said in an ambiguous tone. He pivoted over beside him—the crowd of students parting instinctively to make room—and put an arm around Arthur’s shoulder, effectively enclosing him in the wide sleeve of his robe. Flushing, Arthur was led through the students and toward the end of the hall. As they passed, he glanced up at the dark-haired boy and blinked when he saw not derision, as expected, but a kind of awe in his dark gaze. The same look was reflected in several of their gazes.
Snape led him onto the back of the platform and down to the middle of the table. Harry was standing there speaking with the headmistress. “Potter,” Snape said. “Do try to keep an eye on him.”
“Getting into trouble already?” Harry asked him with a knowing grin.
“Not exactly,” Snape replied. “Licia Malfoy had her wand pointed at his heart. I didn’t give her a chance to pick a spell, even though I was somewhat curious what she had in mind.”
Harry did look a little alarmed at that. “Malfoy,” he breathed out.
“She and I go way back,” Arthur quipped, trying to regain his pride.
Harry patted him on the shoulder and shook his head. “Which one is she?” he asked Arthur.
More teachers filed up to the table. “The one on the left. Blonde, small nose,” Arthur said, glancing quickly over there and away again.
Harry gave the girl a stern look, making her duck behind her friend. McGonagall gestured for them all to be seated but remained standing herself. Arthur found himself between his father and Snape.
McGonagall cleared her throat and the hall fell silent. “As most of you know, we have a special guest this evening—Harry Potter.”
The room, just as immediately, broke out into vigorous clapping. The students on the table on the far left pounded their hands on it in sync, filling the hall with thunder. Arthur’s breath quickened as he watched them all. The table on the right cheered less, but most still clapped. McGonagall held up her hand and the hall fell still again. Arthur wasn’t used to that kind of obedience from children his age, and he wondered if he had underestimated the headmistress.
“There will be a dueling demonstration after the meal, so everyone should remain in the hall for that, unless you are completely uninterested in that sort of thing.” As McGonagall said this, excited whispering broke out. Arthur tried not to look as though he didn’t know that was coming, since far more curious and judging eyes where on him than he was used to.
McGonagall stepped back to pull her chair out but then paused. “And one more thing. Anyone who jinxes Mr. Potter’s son Arthur will be . . . made part of the next demonstration. And it will be . . . a long one.” She spoke this in metered speech that made it come out very menacing. “That is all,” she said as she took her seat.
“I like her,” Arthur said to his dad. He hadn’t meant to say it loud enough to carry, but the headmistress turned and gave him an eye-sparkling smile.
Platters of food appeared before them. Arthur reached for the roast chicken, suddenly very hungry. Snape held up a pitcher. “Pumpkin juice?”
“What?” Arthur asked.
“You’ve never had it?” Snape asked at the same time Harry leaned in from the left saying, “It’s delicious.”
“Sure. Thanks,” he said, not very certain. Beyond the tilting pitcher he could see the students on the far right table looking very distressed indeed. Snape set the pitcher down. Arthur was certain many eyes over there were tracking what the teacher beside him was doing. Arthur leaned over to his dad. “What is it with the table on the right?”
Harry leaned over and whispered, “That’s the Slytherin table. Didn’t I ever explain about the houses?”
“If you did, I don’t remember exactly,” Arthur said, finding the details of those stories suddenly far more important than expected.
“Ah, well,” Harry said with relish. “The students are sorted out when they arrive based on . . . temperament, shall we say. The table on the right is Slytherin. See the green banner at the end? That is their color and symbol.” Arthur realized that the colors were in the uniforms as well; that would be useful. Harry went on, “Slytherins are selected based on their determination to get what they want and using most any means to get there, even sly and underhanded.”
Snape leaned forward and peered at him, making Harry grin. “Professor Snape is a Slytherin. Head of the House, in fact, which means he’s the professor in charge of them,” he said pleasantly, then went on. “Next is Ravenclaw, selected for having more brains than anything else. Then there is Hufflepuff, the hard workers. On the far side is Gryffindor, my house-”
“Selected for having more courage than brains,” Snape finished for him.
“Fair enough,” Harry said. McGonagall asked him something and Harry turned to speak with the her instead.
Arthur, feeling a little sly himself, turned to Snape. “Thank you again, sir. My dad is almost normal now.”
“For him,” Snape said.
Arthur let that roll by, recognizing it for what it was—a harmless gibe between very old enemies who have forgotten what they were fighting about. With a quick glance at the end table he turned more blatantly to Snape, gratified that more eyes came his way as he did so.
“And your hospitality, too,” Arthur said, though this cost him a bit internally.
“Think nothing of it, Arthur. As I explained, I was repaying old debts.”
“Maybe you’re even now,” Arthur suggested, fishing for something to say that wasn’t completely meaningless. Some of the students on the end of the last table had stopped eating to watch them. Their possessiveness intrigued him.
“Hm,” Snape muttered instead of replying.
Arthur sipped his pumpkin juice. It was sweeter than he expected but very strange. He drank it down just on the chance that he could get it refilled.
“Not bad,” he lied as he ate some buttery mashed potatoes to get the taste out.
Snape obliged by offering the pitcher again. Arthur nodded his head rather than speak with his mouth full. The Slytherin table seemed to grow more despondent. Arthur almost laughed.
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