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By: Aisu Hoshino
Chapter Graphic: Elena78
Beta Read By: Jessi_Rose and Arithmancy_Wiz
Title: Reflections of a Black Headmaster
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (Mild Language)
For the Staff: I would like to thank the staff of HPFF for keeping the
site up and running well whilst still having the patience to not smack
us all upside the head. I'd especially like to thank them for keeping order
while not being untouchable. On many forums/sites I've visited, the
staff feels/felt untouchable to me, almost like there not really normal
people, but these strict and scary scowling Snape-like people (okay,
maybe that's an exaggeration), or they are very lax/lenient when it comes
to rules to the point that civility isn't always kept. I like that the staff
of HPFF aren't comepletely stuffy and untouchable (and are mostly
authors themselves) but still do a great job at keeping things going.
This fic and my participation in this project is my attempt at thanks to
all of you. Notice attempt. If it didn't manage to be good enough to qualify
as a good thanks, then I apologize and will try to think of something else
for you. I do hope this is good enough, though, because I do feel it is one
of my better works, and I must say it would be a blow if it turns out to
be crap. I hope ya'll enjoy, and keep up the good work

-----


Phineas Nigellus Black splashed muddy water all over his boots as he stepped in one of the many puddles that were splattered across the ground. Not that they weren’t already wet and muddy, mind you. Rain was coming down hard on this dreary September night, as it had been for quite a while. A streak of lightning flashed dangerously in the sky, and the roar of thunder soon followed it.

What a way to make my grand entrance, he thought sourly as he slowly walked towards the doors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

On the other hand, he said to himself, this could command even more respect from his students. Barging in fashionably late and muddy with thunder clapping and lightning flashing in the background could give him an impressive look.

With this thought in mind, he marched toward the castle with new enthusiasm. It was important to him to have the utmost respect (and in some cases, even fear) from his students, now even more so than ever. This year, he was not entering Hogwarts as their Potions teacher and Head of Slytherin, but as their Headmaster. He was the Head Honcho, the Ruler of the Realm of Hogwarts; he was the King.

Granted, it wasn’t really a royal position, but it sounded good and he might as well have been royalty It was a known fact that the Ki – Head of Hogwarts had more influence over people than the Minister of Magic himself, and he was a Black, one of the most known and noble pureblood families, and he also had the blood of the Nigellus line flowing through him (as well as his name) thanks to his mother.

Oh, how Phoebe Nigellus Black would be proud of her son now! She had always held high hopes for him, always told him he would do great things and make his family proud, and would make certain that the Nigellus name would be as remembered as Black and Malfoy, even if it had no one left to carry it on for a last name.

He didn’t want to remind himself that he wouldn’t have even kept teaching at this school so many years and wouldn’t have accepted the Headmaster position if it weren’t for the fact that his wife Ursula always badgered him about it.

But of course the face of Ursula saying he couldn’t quit because he loved being at the school and teaching too much invaded his mind and angered him.

How foolish his wife could be sometimes! What did he care about teaching a bunch of snot-nosed brats things that they were too stubborn and arrogant to learn? Yes, he respected the school for its history, all the magical secrets that still hadn’t been fully discovered, and its reputation as the best magical school of all time, but he didn’t actually like being there and teaching!

No, his true reason for retuning time and time again to Hogwarts had nothing to do with Ursula or the naive assumptions she made about his love of teaching.The thing that always brought him back to this place was all of the power it gave. If you were a teacher (or Headmaster), in a sense you controlled the life of every student that entered into the castle walls. If you were a student, and one of the few actually willing to learn, you would discover how to use your magical gifts properly, and then you could gain power.

Ursula was being downright ridiculous in suggesting or even thinking that he had any emotional attachment to the school or its students! Honestly, sometimes he wished divorce was a more respectable thing to do!

Then again, the school had given him his first sense of authority. In his fifth year he was made prefect, and oh what a good year it was! He had gotten so much respect, and he had met Ursula. And that was only one year in his seven years of memories at Hogwarts.

As he approached the doors, he stopped as he remembered the first time he entered the Great Hall…

He had been so ecstatic the entire day of September 1, 1859. He was going to Hogwarts – he would be sorted into the noble and often misunderstood house of Slytherin (or at the very least, Ravenclaw), he would make his family proud, and he would be the best student the school had seen in many years. He had to be. He was the heir of Black, and if we wasn’t great then it would break his family’s heart…especially since his elder brother Sirius died.

Sirius. Phineas wondered for a moment how he would have done at Hogwarts. Phineas was only six when Sirius died. He couldn’t remember very much about his older brother, but he remembered that they were close and remembered looking up to him. He was talented for so young, from what Phineas could recall, and he could remember his parents being much happier people when he was alive.

Feeling his eyes water at the memories, Phineas diverted his attention to the memory of bragging to the other students on the train about his family’s accomplishments at Hogwarts. However, when he actually arrived at the castle, ecstasy turned to nervousness and then to downright fear faster than he could say “Salazar”.

Upon seeing the castle, his breath was taken away. It was so big! It was even more wonderful-looking than he could have ever imagined!

And also more intimidating.

As he looked upon the old castle, he thought of all its mysteries and the moving staircases he had heard so much about from his mother (for some reason, his father didn’t like to talk about his school days). At first, the thought of such things left him awe-struck at the Founders’ intelligence. But then he got to thinking…What if he took the wrong staircase? What if he wound up in one of the forgotten rooms of Hogwarts and was never seen or heard from again?

And even if he didn’t get lost, what if he wasn’t as successful at Hogwarts as he first thought? What if he disappointed his family, or worse – got disowned? What if he didn’t get sorted into Slytherin? Sure, Ravenclaw was good, but it wouldn’t be the same. For all he knew, he might not even end up a Ravenclaw. What if he was sorted into Hufflepuff?

And then there was the fact that this was to be his home all year except for a few short weeks in winter and over the summer holiday. He had no family here. As much as he hated to admit it, it was scary knowing that he’d spend so much time away from them. It would be three years before Elladora would be here with him, and even longer before Isla would make her way to Hogwarts. Oh, why couldn’t Isla have been born before Elladora? She was so much more tolerable…

All of these worries, plus some, were in his mind as he walked into Hogwarts castle. He barely heard the teacher who had called all of the first years together to tell them of the different houses and get them all lined up. He was shaken out of his trance momentarily when the Sorting Hat began its song, but that didn’t last very long.

He wasn’t sure of whether or not it was a good or bad thing that he was fourth in line – it meant that he could be sorted into Slytherin soon…or that he’d be doomed soon.

While “Abbot, Henry” was being sorted, he took a glance around the Hall. He took particular notice of the Slytherin table. Oh, how he hoped to be sitting with them for the rest of his time at Hogwarts!

After what felt like an eternity (but in fact was less than ten minutes), the moment finally came when he heard “Black, Phineas” called.

“That’s ‘Black, Phineas Nigellus,” he corrected without even thinking. He quickly clamped his hand over his mouth when he realized what he had done. He hadn’t even made it to the Sorting stool and he had already corrected a professor.

He felt the room grow quiet around him – no one ever corrected Professor Griffiths. He knew that the other purebloods at the Slytherin table had to either be inwardly laughing at his foolish outburst or thinking him unworthy of being a Slytherin.

Professor Griffiths looked at him with stony eyes, knowing that Phineas was practically trembling in fear. Finally, he said, “Fine…Black, Phineas Nigellus.”

Phineas lingered for a moment, looking at the professor and wondering if that was really all. The professor’s expression had not changed a centimeter since he’d made the correction in Phineas’s name. Relieved, Phineas proceeded to the stool and placed the worn hat on his head.

Hmm…you definitely have what it takes to be a Slytherin like the rest of your family, but it obviously takes courage to do what you just did, so Gryffindor could fit too…

Phineas found it slightly odd, even for him, to hear the voice of a hat speaking to him, but he shook it off. “Slytherin,” he told the hat mentally, “it has to be Slytherin.”

“Are you quite sure?” the hat asked him. “Slytherin will aid you on your quest for greatness, yes, but just as many great wizards have been produced from Gryffindor. And in Gryffindor, you wouldn’t have so many standards to live up to. You could try your wings and be praised for what you’ve done more so than what your ancestors have accomplished.”

Phineas thought for a moment about his parents and those in his family tree. They were so good at everything, and so many knew it. It might be nice to be known more because of himself than because of the “Nigellus Black” in his name.

But then he remembered how his history was something that shaped him and something he was a part of. It wasn’t something he needed to run from; it was something to make greater.

“I’m sure,” he replied, and within a matter of seconds he found himself at a table full of clapping Slytherins.

~*~


Phineas now had to smile at the memory. Far from being the ruin of him at Hogwarts, the incident at his sorting made him the talk of the school for a while, especially since very few people liked Professor Griffiths.

Phineas burst open the doors to the castle, completely waving off the memory. Now was the time to prove that he was worthy of a good welcome and of praise.

Just as he imagined, every head turned towards him and remained focused on him as he made his way to his seat. He walked straight and tall with a scowl on his face, or at least until he noticed one of the Gryffindor Prefects, Elijah Potter, not paying attention to him at all, but trying to get the attention of a blonde-haired girl sitting across from him with a slightly aggravated look on her face, though she was paying attention to Phineas. Or at least trying to, despite the fact he was tying her hair into a knot with his wand.

And these are the types of students I have in charge of others this year, he thought. This is who my predecessor has chosen as Prefect - a boy who shows little respect for authority and tries to distract other students?

Just as he was working up his anger at the student, his conscience reminded him that Eli was normally a good student (at least for a Gryffindor) and that love could cause one to lose focus on what’s important. Ursula was proof of that.

He smiled inwardly as he thought of their first meeting.

It was in his fifth year, when he was still new to being a prefect. Unfortunately, he hadn’t gotten the respect from other students he had expected. Everyone had come to think of him as someone who was all talk and no action, despite what had taken place at his sorting. And one day, Phineas had had enough.

He kept his eyes open all day for the first sign of disobedience from any student, and it was when patrolling the corridors after curfew that he found it.

He saw his housemate Alec Rookwood talking to a girl he didn’t know. Just as he was about to get on to her for being up after hours (Rookwood was a bit too important to the Slytherin Quidditch team to be bothered with such things as curfews), the girl slapped Rookwood.

For a moment, Phineas was shocked at the red mark left on Rookwood’s face and the yelling she was giving him. He was rarely used to seeing women act like this, with the exception of his sister Elladora, who would yell at anything that spent more than five minutes with her. His shock quickly turned to happiness - not because he had anything against Rookwood, but because this gave him an even more perfect opportunity to prove he was a Prefect of action.

Phineas cleared his throat to get her attention, but she kept her focus on Rookwood, who gave Phineas a “Help me!” look.

Phineas tapped her on the shoulder and she swirled around “What!?”

Phineas froze for a moment, partly in fear, and partly because of her face, which was covered in purple spots. He looked at Rookwood quizzically for a moment, and Rookwood mouthed “later”. He then turned his attention back to the girl, who was impatiently tapping her foot.

Despite her violet, polka-dotted face and angry expression, he still couldn’t help but think she was one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. Later that night he tried to pinpoint exactly what it was about her that made him feel that way but realized that there wasn’t really anything spectacular about her physically. Her looks were nice enough, but nothing special. And yet for some reason, at that moment, something told him that she was prettier than Ramona Skeeter, with her beautiful and flowing hair, or the Veela that was in seventh year. Something about this girl defied logic and left him unable to take his eyes off her.

Well?” she asked impatiently.

“Uh, yes, um…” he began as he tried to shift his gaze from her and get his focus back on power. He straightened his face and tried to sound serious. “Who are you, and what are you doing up past curfew?”

“Ursula Flint,” she answered curtly. “And I’m currently exacting out revenge for this.” She pointed towards her face.

“If you wish to ‘exact revenge’ for something, I suggest you tell your Head of House at a more appropriate hour,” Phineas said with a touch of roughness in his voice.

Ursula rolled her eyes. “All that old goat’s going to do is tell your Head, and he’s not going to do anything to his precious Keeper.”

“Are you implying that Professor Askew is biased towards those with good athletic ability?” Phineas questioned.

“No,” Ursula answered flatly. “I’m saying that Slytherins are biased towards their own housemates. Never mind the fact that my blood is purer than Rookwood’s could ever hope to be and that Slytherin has had its share of half-breeds in it. You Slytherins always side with each other. I don’t have a chance in this battle because I’m a female Hufflepuff.”

Phineas stood there for a moment, trying to decide how to react to everything she was saying. On the one hand he was very angry at her attack on his house. And yet there wasn’t much he could say because he knew she was right.

And of course, this just made him angrier at her, whilst at the same time it made him all the more intrigued by her. She was a girl who spoke her mind. She was a proud pureblood in a house full of blood traitors and weak wannabes.

“How about this,” he began after thinking a few minutes. “I won’t tell any teacher about this and will help you with your…make-up problem…if you forget your vendetta against Slytherins and spend this weekend’s Hogsmeade visit with me.”

If Phineas hadn’t completely forgotten about Rookwood’s presence, he might have noticed his housemate’s jaw-dropped expression. Instead, he was focused on Ursula’s incredulous one.

“I…beg your pardon,” Ursula said finally. “You come over here, sticking your nose in my business, apparently ignoring everything I’ve said, and then expect me to waste my time on a date with you?”

Phineas faltered for a minute. Why weren’t girls as easy to handle as society said they should be? “I have not been ignoring you,” he said in his own defense.

“Well, I must be deaf then. I didn’t here you say one word about my opinion on Slytherins except that I have a ‘vendetta’ against them, you haven’t tried to change my opinion by treating Rookwood as you have me, and you haven’t done anything else to give me a good reason for actually considering your proposal.”

Phineas turned his attention to Rookwood, who looked a bit annoyed and betrayed. “Alec, you shouldn’t be up past hours, and it was wrong of you to give our noble house a bad name by messing up Ursula’s face like this. I’ll talk to Professor Askew about punishing you, or at least getting house points taken. Fifteen sounds good.”

Rookwood looked enraged, but Phineas ignored him. He then looked at the surprised Ursula again. “And your attacks on our house are completely hypocritical. Yes, we stick together, but I don’t think any of the houses here don’t have pride. Besides, how many Slytherins do you know personally?”

“How many Hufflepuffs do you know personally?” Ursula countered.

“Well, I hope to get to know one this weekend,” Phineas said smoothly.

Ursula smiled, causing something inside Phineas to leap. “We’ll see,” she answered before walking off.

Phineas watched her go and smirked. He was definitely getting better at the girl thing. Then again, there wasn’t much he wasn’t good at.

Rookwood cleared his throat to get Phineas’s attention. “What?” he questioned, annoyed at being brought out of his daydream.

“You just said you were going to get me punished for a date with a bloody Hufflepuff with no respect or proper manners,” the angry Rookwood declared. “Have you completely lost it? What kind of future could you possibly have with her? She’ll never respect you, and no matter how pure her blood is, she’s still not Slytherin. Hell, Phin, she attacked our entire house, and all you did - you, a Prefect - was ask her out!”

Phineas frowned. Rookwood was right. She wasn’t the type of girl a Slytherin Black should take interest in. He should be dating a proper, soft-spoken Slytherin who his family and friends approved of; not some Hufflepuff who couldn’t keep her opinions to herself.

And yet he didn’t care. All he could think of was Saturday.

~*~


Phineas shook his head a bit as he reached his seat. Despite Ursula being a Hufflepuff, bossy, loud, and stubborn, he had to admit he loved her, even though he loathed saying that word.

After tightening his facial expression to regain the harsh look he’d worked on, he glanced at all of the students in the Great Hall, who were all awaiting his speech.

For quite possibly the first time in his career, he actually studied their faces – and not just the ones he considered the best. He noticed how some were looking impatient, some admiring, some bored, some joyous, and some sad.

There was one of the latter sitting at the Gryffindor table with brown and blue, somewhat hollow, eyes. He couldn’t have been more than a first year, but he looked so incredibly lonesome and completely in his own world.

Something about this child reminded him of a student he had during his first year of teaching…

~*~


It had been a very aggravating year for Phineas Nigellus Black. Teaching, much like being a prefect, was nothing like he expected. Half of the students had no desire to learn. Half of those had potential, but were to hard-headed and had no respect for authority. And half of what was left were suck-ups who would have difficulty making it in the real world, but those students didn’t bother Phineas much. At least they were better than the majority of the other students.

It was the middle of October and, after having a potion he was working on explode in his face thanks to some wannabe-clever student, he decided that he was going to make an example of a student (never mind the fact that every time he attempted this, he never ended up with the desired result).

Tristan Doobledesh made the perfect target.

Tristan was a second-year Slytherin who had no friends that Phineas knew of (not that he paid much attention to the cliques of his students), partly because he refused to reveal his parentage (many assumed pureblood, but some of them said he must be half-blood, and then there were a few who suspected he was Muggle-born), and partly because he just flat-out didn’t socialize. Then again, who would want to socialize with people who were always speculating about others?

He had made fairly good grades all year, but he never seemed to pay attention in class. He always had a hollow look in his eyes, as if he simply tuned out any noise he heard.

In a sense, Tristan was merely a shadow. He looked like any normal person and he was there, but he merely went day-to-day, going with the flow, but never really taking part in anything.

It was during class, while he had his normal spaced-out expression on his face, when Phineas decided to prove that he didn’t pay attention, and possibly that he was a cheater (how else could he make good grades?).

“Doobledesh!” Phineas hollered to get the boy’s attention, but the boy continued just randomly doodling on his parchment. “Doobledesh!” Phineas repeated, frustrated at the lack of attention.

A few kids chuckled at Tristan’s lack of focus, and the noise apparently made him look up to see what was going on. He glanced around a minute until he met Phineas’s slightly angered gaze.

“S-sir?” the intimidated Tristan inquired. Teachers had rarely given him any attention before, much less make him the focus of the class.

“Can you tell me the ingredients in the Draught of the Living Death?”

“Uh…” Tristan let out, as if not understanding the question.

“Perhaps,” Phineas began chastising, “if you had been paying attention like a good student would have–”

Something about what Phineas was saying caused Tristan to snap. In an angered tone, he interrupted Phineas, “The ingredients in Draught of the Living Dead are asphodel in an infusion of wormwood, valerian roots, and sopophorus beans. Not that it matters; you were telling us about memory potions. The only reason I know the ingredients is because I, like any good student should, read my textbooks!”

The slight mocking in his voice in the last sentence infuriated Phineas. How dare this probable half-breed and possible Mudblood juvenile, hard-headed student humiliate him and use his own words against him!

Phineas was just about to lay into the boy, but it was time for lunch. “Doobledesh! I want you in my office after school today!”

Tristan just stalked off with the other students to lunch, not seeming to care about what Phineas was saying.

Before it was time for his meeting with Phineas, he talked to Ursula via the Floo-network. He ranted off the entire event to her, expecting sympathy. She did think that the audacity of Doobledesh was worthy of punishment, but she also thought that Phineas had been ridiculous and unfair.

One thing Phineas always hated about his wife was her honesty. No wonder Hufflepuffs had such a bad reputation. How could a house that contained so much bluntness get anywhere?

By the time Tristan arrived in his office, Phineas had cooled down a bit, or at least shifted his anger towards his wife rather than the scrawny student. He also felt a bit guilty, thanks to a few of Ursula’s words.

“Sit down, Doobledesh,” Phineas ordered in a firm voice that meant business, but which was not particularly harsh.

“Do you have anything to say about your behavior towards me today?”

Tristan shifted nervously in his chair for a minute. Phineas could tell from the look in the boy’s eyes that he was silently chastising himself for getting into this situation.

Well?” Phineas said impatiently.

“I…” Tristan began, unsure of quite what to say. “I apologize for…my attitude.”

“What about it?”

“I should have shown more respect, Professor,” Tristan admitted. “And you’re right. I don’t pay the best attention in class. I try to, honest! It’s just I already know most of what you say from reading, and my mind always wanders to possible new ideas for potions and to mother and to the stupid kids here who – ”

Sensing that Doobledesh was going on a bloody babbling rant, he shushed the student.

“Slow down here. Reading in advance is no excuse – did you say new potion ideas?” Phineas asked, startled.

Tristan beamed in excitement. “Yes! Mother and I experiment quite a bit when I’m home! We always try to come up with new potion combinations and such. One time we mixed–”

“Who is your mother?” Phineas asked curiously.

“Natalia Doobledesh, though she was a Birdwell before she married.”

Natalia Birdwell…Phineas remembered her. Tall girl. Show-off, but a loner. Dropped out in seventh year.

“I know her. What about your father?”

“Roger Doobledesh. He’s…a Muggle.”

Ah, that solved the blood debate. So the rumors of Natalia running off to be with a Muggle were true.

And her son, an under-aged half-breed was experimenting in potions with her.

Fascinated, Phineas continued to question Tristan, asking him many questions ranging from potions to personal experiences. And, against his stubbornness, he even noticed a few similarities between his own childhood and that of Doobledesh’s.

To this day, he kept contact with Tristan, and considered him one of the very, very few exceptions among the half-bloods.

~*~


Phineas wondered if the student was anything at all like Doobledesh.

And then he remembered Ursula’s words. Perhaps she was right. Maybe he did care about the students, even if it was just a tad.

Smiling at the many Hogwarts students and staff awaiting his speech, he took one last look at the students - his students.

Phineas re-hardened his expression before speaking. “Welcome students, to another year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – the greatest Wizarding school in the world. And, as your new Headmaster, I am going to ensure that it keeps this reputation.

“For those of you who remember me as Potions Master, you know that I am serious about the art of magic and the learning of it. I am also serious when I say that I intend to keep the reputation of Hogwarts as it has been, and it is my intention to make it even better. You can cooperate and help me in this goal, or you can go against it and suffer the consequences. Just remember – this school is bigger than any one of you.

“If you really want to learn magic, then you must respect your teachers and the rules of this school. I guarantee you won’t regret it – what you learn here is something that you’ll carry with you all of your life and will pass it on to your children, who will hopefully pass it on to their’s. Muggles outnumber us in this world and some even hate the idea of us. Many think that Magic is dead, but I think we prove that it’s not. And through the respect of tradition and great skill that I have gained throughout my years, I intend to make sure that through each one of you that is willing, magic prevails and grows stronger…”

Phineas continued on in his speech, lost in its words and the feelings it gave him, as well as the memories of the many people who had gotten him to where he was – his family, teachers, contemporaries, and even the occasional student.

Even though he wanted to take credit for every accomplishment, he had to admit that he would be nothing without the support, encouragement, and (often unwanted) lessons they taught.

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