Chapter 12 : Brave New World
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Well, good morning, McGonagall said as she met them in the Entrance Hall. She gave Arthur a very intent look.
He told me, Harry supplied.
McGonagall swept away to lead them up the stairs. Good.
She led them to the Defense teachers office. Snape stood as they entered. If it isnt Mr. Potter and his . . . Muggle son, he said, glancing at Arthur.
Harry looked between them before demanding of Arthur, Who else knows?
I didnt tell him, Arthur said. He found out on his own, somehow.
Ah, Harry said. You dont have to tell Severus things for him to know them. Dont meet his eyes if you have something to hide.
Arthur gave Snape a startled look and received a haughty one in return. Arthur looked quickly away and avoided looking back as his father and Snape reviewed what they planned to teach. Arthur investigated the strange things on the shelves lining the room while he waited.
When class started, Arthur found a seat beside Sara again as the students filed in. Hi again, she said.
Did you have a good Christmas? Arthur asked to make conversation.
She shrugged. Pretty good. You?
I got some cool stuff.
Thats good, she said with disinterest, watching the platform where the teacher and Harry stood.
Snape gave an overview of what they were going to cover to the very full room. This was a special class of the Second and Third Years and that alone was a lot of children from Arthurs perspective, given that they were all magical. Arthur, despite reading half of a textbook already couldnt follow the discussion much at all.
At the end of the lecture, Snape and his father demonstrated a few things, then students came up and tried to replicate them. Eventually Sara was called up. While she was gone, someone poked Arthur hard in the ribs from behind. Hey, Mudblood, a voice said. Oh, wait, you dont even qualify for that. Laughter ensued. Arthur didnt bother to turn around, because he recognized Licias voice.
Sara worked out the spells quickly, impressing Arthur, but her partner was slower and she had to wait on the platform as more instruction was given to her opponent. Arthur was poked again, harder. This time he did turn around. Licias bright face was leaning into his with a smirk. Nothing you can do about it--is there? she taunted him.
Arthur turned to the front of the room and tried to ignore her. His dad warned him about trying anything he was not skilled at and the memory of the painful burn on his hand reinforced that very well. Something poked him again and more giggling ensued. Without turning around, Arthur opened his hand before him and whispered, Accio wand. A wand zipped over his shoulder and landed in his palm. That was a pretty safe one after all. A gasp sounded behind him. He glanced up at the platform. Neither adult was paying attention. He pocketed the wand casually and turned around to face an incensed Licia.
Give it back, she demanded in a low tone. How did you do that, anyway? she asked suspiciously. She glanced ahead of him to see if someone in the next row might be involved.
Arthur cocked his mouth at her. Wouldnt you like to know?
Sara returned and Snape was eyeing the room, looking for the next demonstrators. Two others got up and stepped onto the platform. Give it back or Fredryk here will burn a hole through you, Licia threatened.
Fredryk, one of the overgrown boys with bad teeth, looked a little doubtful at first, but then remembered to look menacing.
What does she want? Sara asked in a whisper.
She wants her wand back, Arthur replied. She should have kept it to herself if she didnt want to lose it.
Sara blanched. Youre a nutter, she said without a hint of compliment. She then huffed and turned around. If you lost your wand to a Muggle there isnt much hope for you, she said to Licia.
Hes no Muggle, Licia sneered.
Arthur grinned back at the blonde girl, his eyes sparkling. Turns out Im not, he said.
Are you serious? Sara asked.
Your headmistress tried to give me one spell and it woke up my magic, Arthur explained to Sara, trying not to sound too negative about it.
Wow, Sara said. She turned and told the friends beside her.
The students on the platform were stepping down. Potter? Snapes voice said. How about you . . . and Ms. Malfoy. He gestured for them to come up.
Licia ducked her head and marched up to the platform. Arthur stepped up to the side where Snape was standing to leave her no choice but to stand by his father. Arthur doesnt have a wand, Harry said.
I do at the moment, Arthur said, pulling Licias out of his pocket. Licia stood with her arms straight down, glaring furiously at him. She seemed so very eager to loan it to me, he explained, gesturing at his opponent.
Snape took Licias wand, gave Arthur his own and walked Licias down to her. He leaned close to her ear as he did so and said, A word of warning. Only the most powerful magic is capable of suppressing itself completely.
Licia bit her lip and looked more determined as she swept her wand back and forth at her side impatiently. Snape said, You have both been paying a modest amount of attention, I noticed. Are you ready? Arthur nodded; he had watched the first few rounds. Mr. Potter, Snape went on, you on defense first. He stepped back out of the way.
Licia pointed and shouted her first spell at him. Arthur shouted the counter-curse at the same moment, thinking that he had done well, but he was knocked back and almost lost his feet. Licia chuckled at him. His robe was full of static as he stepped forward. What did I do wrong? he asked Snape.
I think you were actually too fast. That counter does not hold long. The next one does.
Licia cast the next spell and this time, Arthur kept his feet, although his arms tingled ominously as he shook them out. Snape said, Switch now.
Harry stepped in and said, I havent covered control with him at all.
Licia looked alarmed at that. Why not? Snape asked.
I havent had time . . . Ive had two weeks.
Snape raised a brow. I think Ms. Malfoy is up for it, correct? She looked uncertain but did not complain. She is not one for opening a challenge and then backing down, he stated with ominous certainty.
Harry stepped over to Arthur. Take it easy with the spells, he said.
But I dont like her, Arthur said, loud enough to carry. She keeps calling me a Mudblood. What is that anyway?
The room murmured at that. Snape gave his student a disapproving glance.
It means one of your parents is a Muggle, Harry said to his son.
Arthur shrugged. So? he said, not understanding.
Precisely, Harry said. Keep it toned down, anyway.
He is using an unfitted wand, Potter, I expect it will be all right, Snape commented.
Harry swept the wand away from Arthur in a swift motion. Good point, he said as he stepped back and signaled for him to start.
Arthur stretched his shoulders back and focused himself the way he would when a game cartridge booted up for the first time. Snape was giving him a very odd look and Licia looked completely confused. When Arthur shouted the first spell, she pulled herself to the present and put up a block. The shower of yellow energy from Arthurs hand burned it away. He had to shake his hand to get it to stop. Licia had ducked down when her block failed and remained crouched over on the floor.
That was taking it easy? Harry asked his son sharply.
Licia stood up, looking furious. That wasnt a Triavelene she said. I know how to block that just fine.
Actually, it was, Snape said mildly. Hand conjuring results in a very different manifestation of most spells. A purer version, one might say. And now we know why Mr. Potter does not own a wand. He stepped over to Arthur. If you would satisfy my curiosity, Arthur. He handed the boy his own wand again. Please repeat the spell.
Do I have to stand here? Licia demanded with a stomp of her foot.
It is still your turn, is it not? You had your two spells on attack as I recall.
Ill take her place, Harry said, stepping that way.
Never mind, she snapped haughtily. Ill stay.
Harry grinned and backed off graciously. Arthur repeated the spell. It produced a narrow orange beam this time, as Licias had. She blocked it easily. When it faded, she looked obnoxiously smug about her success. Arthur ignored her and handed Snape his wand.
Natural hand conjurers are about as rare as Parselmouths, he commented quietly.
Arthur returned to sitting on the floor beside Sara. She was grinning broadly. That was great, she said.
After Snape wrapped the class up and gave assignments, she said to Arthur, Are you coming to school here?
I dont think so, Arthur replied.
Disappointed, she said, Why not?
As they stood up, he thought about his answer. Im really not a wizard, in the ways that matter for school. I dont get this place at all.
Not everyone is as intolerable as her highness there, she pointed out, gesturing at Licias blonde head departing with nose in the air.
I realize that, Arthur said kindly. My dad is getting me a tutor so I can control my magic. I dont know if Ill do more than that with it.
She gaped a him before getting caught up in the crowd leaving the room. Arthur watched her depart with her friends, then waited for his dad and Snape to finish discussing something.
Lunch time, Harry said, stepping off the platform a few minutes later. Hungry?
Arthur nodded. The food here is pretty good, although I could live without the pumpkin juice.
Oh, its the best, Harry countered.
Can we have Sara Weasleys family over for dinner some time? Arthur asked.
Harry grinned broadly at him. I dont see why not. He took Arthur by the shoulder and steered him out of the room.
In the Great Hall, the same seats were arranged. This time, Arthur didnt have to make up things to distract Snape; he did his own part of occupying Arthur with questions. He was very curious how Arthurs hand conjuring worked. Unfortunately Arthur didnt know what he was doing, really, so Snape had to ask many questions to tease at the answer he wanted. The close end of the Slytherin table was distracted by Licia, whispering something to the students around her, so they didnt seem as disturbed by their Head of Houses attention to him as last time.
After lunch, Harry said, Maybe you dont want to sit through another Defense lesson? You can sit in on something else.
Well. . .
McGonagall leaned over, We have many topics, Potions, History, Arithmancy, Astronomy, Divination-
Not Divination, Harry said sharply. Dont sit in on that, he instructed Arthur. To McGonagall, he explained, Im not taking any chances with him.
You may sit in on my class next period, Mr. Potter, McGonagall offered. Ill be teaching Transfiguration to the Second Years.
That sounds cool, Arthur said.
Follow me, then.
Arthur waved to his dad as he trailed the headmistress along behind the head table. In the hall leading to the stairs, he said, You seem very nice for a school headmistress, maam.
Do I? You have not seen me at my worst. Stick around.
Arthur grinned. My friend Allen goes to Smeltings. He says the headmaster is very cruel.
They were walking along a corridor full of paintings which watched them pass or waved. Well, we do try to run things here a little better than the average Muggle school.
It doesnt seem like that would be very hard, Arthur mused as they arrived at the classroom door. When she stopped and looked him over, Arthur said, Did I say something wrong?
No. I was just thinking how different you are from your father, is all. She opened the door. Come along.
The room was full of shelves with crates and cages of animals. He thought about asking what Transfiguration was, but held back on the assumption that it would soon become apparent. The students wandered in slowly from lunch. Sara Weasley caught his eye and they exchanged smiles.
Can Arthur sit with us, Professor? she asked as she and her two friends sat down at a table.
Of course, McGonagall replied without looking up from her notes.
Grateful to have a normal place to sit, Arthur pulled up an extra chair at their table. Im just watching, he explained to them. He sat still through the lecture while his tablemates took careful notes. He wondered what an examination could possibly consist of as he watched them. At the end, they were all issued small pillows to turn into pillboxes. This part concluded easily enough and they were all given rattles to turn into rats.
Would you like to give it a try, Mr. Potter? Professor McGonagall asked Arthur. The whole class turned to listen in.
Actually, I have a question, Arthur said.
She gestured broadly with her hands. By all means.
It seems like there is some connection between transformations and the names of things.
There is, McGonagall replied. Similarly named things are easier for those first learning.
Arthurs brow furrowed. How can that be? Its just a name.
Words are very powerful, Mr. Potter. If they werent, we wouldnt have spells. She paused to let that sink in. Would you like to try? When Arthur shrugged, she said, Take out your wand and give it a go--it isnt hard.
Arthur cleared his throat and said, I dont have a wand, maam.
Some of the students tittered, garnering a very disapproving look from the teacher. Arthur, however, understood the amusement; they had all been at the demonstration before lunch. Perhaps Ms. Weasley will loan you hers.
Sara stashed her wand as she crossed her arms. No, she said in a mock spoiled voice. She then grinned. Arthur, show Professor why you dont have a wand. Verminus Tracticum, she said, reminding him of the spell. Go on.
Arthur looked at her and then at the closest brightly-colored rattle. Loosely pointing his hand, he repeated the spell. All three rattles on the table, transformed into scurrying grey rats that headed for the edges and jumped off.
Youre right, maam. That isnt hard at all, Arthur said with a grin, ducking under the table to watch the rats head for the nearest dark corner. The class giggled.
The wand just gets in his way, Professor, Sara explained.
I see, she said, eyeing Arthur studiously before returning to the front of the room.
Arthur returned to the Great Hall after Transfiguration. McGonagall said he could wait there through the second afternoon class period. He took a seat at one of the long tables and stared up at the ceiling.
Hey, Mudblood, get off our table, Licias tall, overgrown, companion snarled. Arthur glanced around and realized that he had sat at the table on the left, which during meals, had been the Slytherin one. No one had been there when he had sat down.
He shrugged and moved to the next one over, waiting for any complaints before he climbed over the bench. A few students farther along glanced his way before returning to their conversation. Arthur really wished he had his handheld and his hands fidgeted at that thought. Life didnt remain dull for long, someone shoved him in the back so his face hit the table. Arthur spun quickly and faced the same hulking Slytherins as before.
Teacher isnt here to rescue you this time, the boy taunted him. Why he would rescue a Mudblood is beyond me anyway.
Arthur stood up and walked around to the table on the far side. He honestly didnt know where to wait if not in this room. The castle itself seemed hostile, so he wasnt keen on wandering alone. The Slytherins mocked him as he retreated.
A large fire burned in the hearth. Arthur stepped over there and sat close enough to feel the warmth but not too close to get hot. Students on the end of that table looked up at him and stared.
Is it all right if I sit here? Arthur asked them.
Yeah, of course, a tall boy answered before they turned back to their assignments.
After dinner they settled into the headmistress office over drinks of something dark. Everyone except Arthur, that is. He circled the room and dropped into a chair, bored.
Do you want to have a look around? McGonagall asked him.
Arthur shook his head. I dont think so.
No? she asked, surprised. Any particular reason?
Arthur studied her concerned gaze as he tried to find words for his isolation and unease. Its okay. Ill just wait here, he said.
Snape stood up suddenly. To McGonagall he said, Do you still have those honors pins we used to use? The glass ones.
Oh yes. She stood and went to a glass-fronted cabinet in the rear of the office. She pulled out a green wooden box and removed something from it. Snape took it from her and approached Arthur. Arthur stood still as the teacher bent and pinned something to the right breast of his plain robe. It was a glass snake as long as his finger, in green surrounded by a delicate crest shape in glittering grey.
Perhaps, also . . . Snape said to himself. He pulled out his wand and tapped the pin twice. Yes, I think that should do it. You are a Slytherin, after all--no one should take it away. He looked him in the eye. Go on, Arthur--I think you will be somewhat less bothered now.
Arthur remembered too late that he should be averting his eyes. He dropped his gaze and said, All right. He wanted to ask how long they were staying, but his dads voice sounded so happy and energetic, he didnt have the heart to.
He rode the escalator back down to an empty corridor. He wondered where Sara might be and headed to the only place he knew well.
In the Great Hall, he was heartened to find Sara at the table on the right, working on something with her friends. They were chatting as much as writing, so he thought it would be all right to interrupt.
Hey, Arthur, she said brightly as he approached. He took a seat beside her and visually said hello to each of her companions.
Youre really Harry Potters son? an older boy asked.
Whats that like? he asked, garnering admonitions from the table.
Arthur laughed a little. Weird. What else would it be?
They all laughed lightly at that. The boy noticed his pin. Whats that?
A joke, I think, Arthur replied, giving it a glance. The pin sparkled nicely in the firelight.
I would hope so, Sara said. It looks Slytherin, she added with a hint of disgust.
Arthur forced himself not to sigh audibly. They returned to their assignment and Arthur listened in to their discussion, having nothing else to do.
Well, the Mudder is back, a voice behind Arthur said a while later. Whyre you still here if you arent fit to be a student? Licia asked in disgust.
I didnt realize you were in charge of admissions, Arthur quipped, turning sideways on the bench to face them. The table laughed at that.
If my father were in charge of admissions, it would look very different here, I assure you, she said in a dark tone. A well-practiced one, Arthur thought. He shrugged since there wasnt an answer to that. She glanced down at his robe. What is that? she asked rudely.
Arthur looked where she pointed. Oh, Professor Snape gave me that, he said casually.
No, he didnt, she said stridently and reached for it. A spark flew from the pin and literally threw her hand away. She yelped and held her hand to her abdomen in pain.
So, thats the spell Professor Snape put on it. I didnt understand what he was doing, Arthur said conversationally. Worked rather well.
With tear-filled eyes, Licia snarled, Why would our Head of House give you a Slytherin pin?
Arthur laughed easily. Because the Sorting Hat put me there, I expect.
What? Sara asked in surprise.
Your headmistress and a few of the teachers got into an argument about it and so she just put the hat on me to settle it.
Sara looked him over. Youre a Slytherin?
Im nothing. I dont go to school here, Arthur argued.
There is that, Sara muttered.
Licia and her companions looked aghast. We arent supposed to bother other House students, one of the big ones said slowly.
Arthur turned to the table and said quietly. Slytherin has no intelligence requirement, eh?
They chuckled a little. Neither does Hufflepuff, Sara pointed out a little glumly.
Licias companions urged her away, citing the need to avoid trouble. Arthur exhaled in relief as he turned back to the table, now eyeing him differently. Whats wrong? he asked.
Didnt realize you were a Slytherin, one of them said darkly.
Who the hell cares? So was my dad.
No, he wasnt, Sara said.
He would have been if hed let the Hat have its way, Arthur retorted. He said he had to talk it out of it. I didnt know, or care, what I was supposed to. Besides, I like Professor Snape. He looked at her. It really matters that much? he asked a little sarcastically. Im really different from two minutes ago when you didnt know that?
She shrugged and frowned a little. Houses matter a lot. My dad was pretty disappointed I wasnt in Gryffindor, I must say. All the Weasleys before me were.
Is Gryffindor better?
They always win the house cup, someone said. And its Harry Potters . . . uh, well, it is his house.
Arthur snorted. Bunch of idiots with more courage than brains, he said. And I quote.
Your father? the student asked, stunned.
Professor Snape. But my dad said he couldnt argue with it.
They all grinned at that.
Its all right, Arthur. I dont care if youre a Slytherin, Sara said, patting him on the arm. Especially since it upsets them that you are.
You seem to be doing well, Harry, McGonagall said after other topics were long exhausted. She stood up and paced her office. I feel rather bad that we gave up on you.
Dont, Harry said. Arthur has made it pretty clear what happened. Frankly, the potion Severus revised wasnt invented until, what?
A year or so ago, Snape supplied.
Minerva, I dont blame anyone, Harry said. I wouldnt expect you to have time for anything beyond this school, he teased.
A knock sounded on the door. McGonagall opened it with a wave of her wand. Arthur stepped in a little sheepishly.
I have this note from a Mr. Filch, Arthur stated. Harry put his hand out for it. Its for Professor Snape, Arthur said, handing it over to the teacher. Mr. Filch wouldnt let me go until I told him what house I was in. He got very angry when I insisted I wasnt a student, Arthur explained, a little flustered. Filch had scared him half to death. He seemed to think you would take care of things, sir, he said to Snape. At least he was chuckling an awful lot as he wrote out the note.
Snape unfolded the square of parchment. His brow furrowed as he read it. He handed it to McGonagall as he commented, The statues on the fifth floor corridor are the least historically accurate.
The headmistress shot him a look before unfolding the parchment. What happened? she asked Arthur after glancing at it.
Arthur fidgeted. I got talked into trying a spell but I didnt know what it did.
Arthur Harry said sharply. We went over that.
Arthur rubbed his hands together nervously a moment. I dont know whos a friend here, he said quietly, hurt sounding.
Harry sighed. As boring as we are, I guess you should have stayed. He pulled a chair over for him and urged him to have a seat.
Im sorry, maam, Arthur said in a sad voice.
I do think Mathida was actually a hag and not the long-haired beauty the statue made her out to be. She rubbed her forehead and sat down.
You were not accompanied by other Slytherins I presume? Snape asked Arthur.
Arthur shook his head. Id rather not say.
Well, I expect it wont happen again, McGonagall said.
Yes, maam, Arthur replied forcefully. After a moment he turned to his dad. Are we going soon?
Harry grasped his shoulder and shook him lightly. Sure. It is getting late. And I think were all right here. He looked to McGonagall who shook her head faintly before tilting it and giving in.
On the walk back down to Hogsmeade, Harry said, So, we can invite Bill and his family, which would include Sara, to dinner if you wish.
Dont bother, Arthur said grimly.
No? Was Sara involved in getting you into trouble? When Arthur shrugged, Harry prompted, Arthur?
Not exactly. It was her friends, but she didnt exactly stop them. I thought she would if they were telling me to do something that stupid.
After a span Harry said, You are a tempting target.
Thanks, Arthur said despondently. After they passed the gate, he added, I just expect that when people are nice to you, they are trying to be your friend.
Harry put an arm around his cloaked back and they walked that way into town.
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