Harry stood looking at the stone Gargoyle on the second floor that guarded the staircase to the headmaster’s office. He had sprinted through the corridors avoiding as many gazes or comments as possible and, luckily, without being noticed by any professors. He didn’t know the password. He had been here a number of times, but the password was usually changed every year. He was about to try a few of the old ones he knew but the staircase appeared of its own accord without the need of a word. Harry frowned. Peculiar things were happening this year but there could be no logical reason to why Dumbledore wouldn’t set a password to his office. He stepped onto the rising stone steps and was carried up by the revolving staircase. Although his head had begun to spin by the time he reached the wooden doors, the reason why he was here was quite clear in his mind. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted professor Daisy to be related to him after all. Most, or rather all, of the people that had been related to him in any way had ended up dead. He was fed up of finding relations and then losing them all to death. He found himself positively wishing that Ms. Daisy Potter wasn’t related to him. He realized that he was inside the headmaster’s room without having any clue as of when he had entered. The silver instruments were whirring and clicking between their usual wisps of smoke. Fawks looked affectionately at him from the other side of the room. Harry looked around the room and was greeted by enquiring looks from the portraits of old headmasters of Hogwarts. “May I ask what brings you here?” “Use your brain Phineas! You know him better than I do. You ought to know why he is here!” “Where’s Dumbledore?” Harry asked. “I don’t think you can get any answers today, son” said a portrait Harry didn’t recognize. “Dumbledore’s not coming back until tomorrow.” Said another. “What do you mean he’s not coming back? I talked to him. And he was at the feast. He can’t be gone! I need answers!” Harry spat. “Dumbledore’s got more important things to do to than listening to you yelling at him!” said a portrait indignantly. Harry recalled the chaos he had caused in this office the day after Sirius’s death but felt neither guilty nor shameful. “Ah! Harry Potter! I was expecting you,” said a tethered looking hat from the top of a shelf. “I left the Gargoyle open as you must’ve noticed. I wanted to talk to you about the peculiarity of your sorting.” The hat added. This explained why Harry hadn’t needed a password. “We’ve been through this before” Harry said a little too loudly, his mind still on professor Daisy. “No we haven’t. I’ve been thinking if I put you in the right house…” “What else do you have to do all along the year!” said Harry, feeling his temper rise. It would be umpteenth time that he would be left without answers in a matter so important for him. The hat looked unperturbed. “I was wondering if you belong to only Gryffindor. Of course there is no clear distinction between those worthy to belong to different houses. There may be traits of more than one founder in a child, and there usually are. I only decide one’s house by the dominance in these traits. Fortunately, I’m mostly satisfied with my decisions. But you were different...” Harry groaned audibly. “You are the first person ever who’s confused me so much. The more I think about your sorting, more doubtful I grow about it. I could somehow sense all the four houses in you distinctly, though the dominance of Gryffindor and Slytherin was quite clear.” Harry opened his mouth to speak but the opening that was the hat’s mouth disappeared and it became stationary. “All it ever has to say is this!” Harry failed in interpreting his emotions miserably. He was obviously annoyed for not being able to extract any information on Daisy Potter. He was angry at Dumbledore for leaving him unanswered but found himself trying to force the thought out of his mind. He tried to convince himself that information would make it’s way to him gradually but by the time he entered his dormitory to a sleeping Ron, his desire to find out about the new defense teacher had only intensified. ************************************************************************ The next morning, Harry woke up to an empty dormitory and rushed down for a quick breakfast. Only after noticing a few curious gazes in the common room did he recall the revelations of the last night. He seriously considered going back to the dormitory and skipping a few classes but then realized that it would only make things worse. Harry arrived in the great hall to the fearful looks of Hermione and Ginny and enquiring look of Ron. Apparently, he hadn’t yet disclosed Harry’s sudden sprint to the headmaster’s office to the girls. Harry sat down beside Ron trying hard to avoid all the eyes across the hall that were focused on him. “What happened?” Ron asked. “Couldn’t find him.” Harry replied flatly munching through a piece of sandwich. Ron looked disappointed on this response. “Unusual menu!” He said eyeing the sandwich. McGonagall came round handing out the timetables for the year. Harry groaned. “Double potions first thing this morning!” An unexpected grin suddenly spread across Ron’s face. “Look” He said pointing at the Slytherin table. If anything could’ve lifted Harry’s spirits any higher, it was this. About half the Slytherins were looking at a neatly dressed Ms. Potter with mild indignation while the other half had a look of utmost terror on their face, Malfoy included. “An year with a just professor after that slytherin-loving cow would be a nice change, isn’t it?” Hermione joined in, convinced that Harry wasn’t about to start shouting again “I wonder if she will favor our house. After all she’s a Potte…” She stopped dead at a threatening look from Harry. “We don’t even know she’s related to me in anyway.” He said seething. “C’mon Harry…” “So, what did you find out from Dumbledore last night?” Ginny piped in. “How do you know he went there?” Ron spat. Ginny looked taken aback for a moment. Then replied indignantly “I know Harry! It’s easy to guess that the first thing he would’ve done after the feast would be to get some answers.” “Nothing” Harry replied getting up “He wasn’t there.” Harry and Hermione walked down to the dungeons after the breakfast while Ron enjoyed a couple of free hours. “How come Ron gets a free hour the first class of the day?” Hermione fumed. “Maybe luck.” Harry said not willing to distract his thoughts. He was trying hard to force the thought about Daisy Potter out of his mind. He didn’t need to give Snape a chance to give him detention in the first class of the year. He was already poor at potions. A lack in concentration couldn’t help much. Harry opened the door to the dungeon and entered in a class that was full of mostly only Slytherins. Malfoy looked at Harry and froze in disbelief. Surely he wasn’t expecting Harry to even clear the O.W.L.s. Hermione and Parvati were the only two Gryffindors in the room except him. He moved to the last bench of the class with Hermione. Parvati followed. “I don’t want to be left to the mercy of Slytherins, you see.” She said nervously as she joined them on the bench. “Don’t bother Parvati. Just join us.” Hermione whispered back. “Wonder what Snape’s got us for the first lesson this year?” Harry mused. “Something difficult?” Parvati suggested. “By the way, how could those two make it here? I think they were a bit too dumb to pass anything!” She added pointing at Crabbe and Goyle. “You know Snape. As long as you’re a Slytherin…” Hermione replied in a low voice. Harry heard a door open and looked up to see a smug looking Snape enter the class. “So” he said down his long, hooked nose “I see we’ve got quite a Gryffindor free zone here.” The Slytherins sniggered. “Some of you have rightfully made it to my class, some I’ve been forced to select.” Snape did not look pointedly at Harry while saying this as he usually did. Malfoy looked back at him though and mouthed ‘remedial potions’. “As you’ll see, only worthy potion-makers are supposed to make it this far, which means that this year’s potions will be much more difficult and complex than the usual standards. Today’s potion is just a glimpse of what you’re going to face this year. For those who find it difficult, I suggest you leave my class immediately. I’ve no intentions of entertaining sluggish students.” He waved his wand and the procedure of Potion-making appeared on the blackboard. The potion was tough alright. Harry found it difficult to concentrate with Snape walking by their row over and over again determinedly. But miraculously, he didn’t take even a single point from Gryffindor all through the double periods – neither when Parvati dropped a sluggish sallow to the floor nor when Harry sat fire on one of his parchments accidentally. By the time Harry finished, his Potion was light red and was evolving light silver smoke. “Forgot to add the concentrate essence, Potter? It should’ve been darker as I clearly mentioned in the procedure.” Snape said looking over Harry’s head from behind. Harry noticed that though Snape’s voice was stern but it lacked the usual loathing he was used to. Neither did his eyes twitch as he looked at Harry. There somehow seemed to be a lighter note in his attitude towards Harry, which he seemed to be trying hard to curtail. Harry corked a sample of his potion at the end of the class and submitted it to Snape who took it without a word. “Don’t you think Snape was acting little off-mark today?” Harry asked Hermione as they left for Lunch. “No, why?” “I just felt like he was kind of little softer towards me.” “Now that shouldn’t bother you. It’s only an improvement.” “An unexpected improvement.” Harry corrected her. “Hey guys!” Ron said who was already through the second course when they arrived “how was your first class? Must’ve been pathetic.” He said sniggering. “Ron Weasley! Just because you couldn’t pass a subject, you’ve no right to declare it pathetic.” Hermione spat. “What about the teacher? Can I call him pathetic?” Hermione rolled her eyes. “What’s the next class anyway?” Harry enquired more than willing to avoid any possible bickering between the two. “Defense” Ron replied finishing up. Harry suddenly felt his spirits fall. He wasn’t sure he wanted to face Ms. Potter. He was content with the thought that she was some other Potter he didn’t need to bother about. “C’mon Harry” Hermione said. When he didn’t bulge, Ron dragged him to the classroom. “Now, you’re not asking her anything until the end of the class. Have I made myself clear? And be polite when you do. We don’t need a detention the first day of school.” Harry sincerely nodded. Harry paid no attention to what Professor Potter was talking about in the whole period. He was busy avoiding curios gazes from the class and dealing with Hermione’s anxious looks. He silently planned on how he would approach the professor. Surely, he couldn’t just ask her if she was his aunt or something. That would look stubborn and mindless. “I’m here to train you against the rising power of the dark arts. As we all know, He-who-must-not-be-named has returned and we need to be equipped against his merciless reign. We’ll learn advanced spells that will prove very useful in case of a duel and shields that can be used to protect yourself against them. But the most difficult and advanced skill that I plan to teach you this year is the ability to deflect simple curses off their path with your wands, without the use of spells.” She finished soberly. At the end of the class, Harry deliberately dropped back to have a word with the professor. “Err… Professor” he said as she gathered up her things. “Yes Harry?” She said without looking at him. “I was wondering if you…” She turned quickly around and spoke, looking Harry right in the eyes “You need to know only this Harry. I knew you father and still consider him a great person. I sincerely regret his fate.” She wheeled around determinedly and left. Harry was sure he saw a tear fly back her face as she stormed away. Harry found himself unable to comprehend what he had just heard. If she knew his father, she surely was his relative. As Ron had said, there weren’t many wizards holding the same surname and if she knew his father, surely she wasn’t some brainless muggle who had come to know that she was a witch due to an unexpected accident. Then why wasn’t she just accepting it? Harry stood there – unable to think, unable to understand.
O.K., O.K. I swear I won’t extend this mystery much longer. I don’t want it to grow boring, do I? Was just cashing over JKR's habit of keeping Harry in dark :|Grins|: AND this isn’t quite a cliffy. So sit and relax. Will update soon. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be notified of chapter updates.
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