There is something up with Harry Potter. Dumbledore can’t put his finger on it, but it’s there. The way he looks around the castle, gaze darting quickly, intensely, past doors and walls and corridors and crannies. The way he speaks, just a little too quiet to be ordinary, just loud enough for everyone to hear him. The way he seems to evaluate everyone he speaks to, sharp bright eyes fixing on them through round glasses, judging, but doing so in a manner so quiet not even the other teachers deign to notice. The way he’s indifferent to the rivalries, the social hierarchy, everything, regarding the leaders of each faction with equal senses of first-year wariness. Harry Potter acts like Dumbledore expected him to – acts it perfectly. Too perfectly.
Something is wrong, but whether it’s in the young boy or the old man’s paranoid brain, Dumbledore does not know. Not yet.
Harry James Potter has been alive for 11 years, but has only known his name for 7. It doesn’t matter. He’s the only one who calls himself Harry anyway. His relatives never called him by name, and he never shared his name with his classmates if he could help it.
Harry doesn’t have many friends. Just the one, though he hopes for more at his new boarding school. Sometimes he offhandedly wonders what would have happened if Uncle Vernon had never thought to send him to St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys. If Aunt Petunia had exhibited her usual nosy behaviour in the boarding house, instead of turning up her nose. If he’d had to go to the same school as Dudley, those 5 years he spent at the Ides. It doesn’t matter. Uncle Vernon did send him there, and it’s a damn good sight he did.
Dear Jet, he writes. I have so much to tell you. This is wonderful, better than the Ides. We’re going to have so much fun this summer, I promise. Tell the triplets I’m sending my love and a few of those sweets I told you about. Best, Leyden
Jet isn’t his real name. Real names aren’t written on paper to incriminate you. Unlike Harry, Jet was sent to St Brutus’s on purpose by his father, a mafia boss. Jet’s father is dead now. Jet and his little siblings, the triplets, board full-time now. They’re going to take over the world together, him and Jet and Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire. For now, though, Harry has a lot to learn, and an image to uphold. The magical world is only small. If a self-proclaimed Dark Lord can be defeated by a 1-year-old, this place is ripe for the taking.
“I’m not allowed to use magic outside of school,” Harry sighs. Uncle Vernon has sent him to St Brutus’s for the first half of the holidays. The Ides has a long summer term, and Harry is grateful for it. Time spent away from his relatives is mutually pleasant. And it means he gets to speak face to face with the McAlister kids, instead of sneaking out with pilfered coins to use a payphone. “If I try anything, the Ministry will show up and snap my wand.”
“That sucks,” Emerald grumbles. “What’s the point of magic if you can’t use it?”
“How do they know, really?” Sapphire asks. “Come on, Leyden, show us, please.”
“I they put trackers on your wand or something. It’s called the Trace, wears off when you’re 17.” Harry makes a face. “A little stalkerish, really.”
“No more than the usual surveillance,” Jet comments. “We might need to pull out plans back a few years. So, what exactly can this magic do?”
“Well…” Harry thinks back to the prior year. “I can make things levitate, create light, make a few potions, change needles into matchsticks, that sort of thing. But there’s a lot more, it just takes a long time to learn. One of the professors can turn her desk into a pig, another says he can put a stopper in death. There’s one guy who’s functionally immortal and another who’s been trying to become immortal and rule the wizarding world but got foiled by a 1-year-old…”
“The one who gave you that big old scar?” Jet asks, and Harry nods.
“There’s a lot you can do with magic, but they’ve got a lot of regulations around it. There’re brooms that go 200 miles an hour, teleportation, spells to knock people out, all that, but they’ve got so many laws to stop the normal folk from finding out.”
“Do you think,” Ruby asks, “There might be a way to get around this trace? Only this all sounds very useful, Leyden.”
“I’ll look into it,” Harry promises, “But it might take a while. Oh! Here’s something you might like.” He rummages around in his trunk, moving away books and cauldrons (Sapphire raises her eyebrows at the quills; they’re far too close to her own aesthetic for comfort) until he finds what he’s looking for, holding up a silvery cloak. “Take a look at this, Rube.”
She takes it, frowning. “It’s a cloak. Pretty, but what’s it for?”
Harry shoots Jet a smirk and takes the cloak back from the younger girl, wrapping around himself and smiling smugly and invisibly to himself as four sets of eyes widen. “No,” Jet gasps. “No WAY.”
“That’s sick,” Emerald exclaims. “Think of what you could do with that! Do all wizards have these?”
“Nope, Ron from my dorm reckons they’re rare as. It belonged to my father.” Harry pops his head out the top.
Ruby quirks an eyebrow at him, which is amusingly cute coming from an (albeit villainous) nine-year-old. “What exactly was your father doing?”
“Getting up to no good obviously runs in the family,” Jet muses, eyeing the invisible spot around Harry’s torso appreciatively.
“Well, I think it’s obvious what we do now,” Sapphire says. “If we can’t see Harry do any magic, we may as well use that cloak for something. It’s big enough for all of us if we squeeze in, just about. Right, Harry?”
Harry grins. “Do you take me for a teacher, Sapphire?”
“I’ve got a target,” Emerald suggests. “It’ll take some planning, but we can do it.”
House Looted and Destroyed – Police Find Links to Human Trafficking Ring
“If we’re going to take over the world,” Sapphire declares, comparing two very shiny necklaces, both adorned with the stones that are her namesake, “We may as well do it properly. We’re not savages.”
“Of course,” Harry smiles, brushing the ashes from his hands. “Want to sneak into Wizard Land and buy some ice-cream? I’ve got a few hours before Aunt Petunia will miss me.”
“Of course we do,” Jet snorts, pushing a lockbox under the bed and hanging the key around his neck. “Did you even have to ask?”
Hermione Granger is sick of the Wizarding World, and she’s only been there for a year. The ‘dark’ looks down on her for her parents and the ‘light’ looks down on her for her personality. She thought she was going somewhere she would finally find her people, but apparently not. Its disappointing, she muses to herself, as she sits down in an empty compartment, but life isn’t a fairy tale. Glancing outside, she watches the people go past, a sea of other magical people, and she wonders, for a bit, what it would be like to fit neatly into that sea, a fish and not some sort of out-of-place beaver.
A flash of black and green catches her eye, sunlight glinting off glass. Harry Potter is in her year, and she was ever so excited when she first found out, but he’s nothing like the books say he should be. Something’s going on with him. She’s grateful for him showing up on Hallowe’en night, but he acted strange. He thought too fast and slipped them away from the teachers’ gaze too easily. Ronald Weasley claims to be Harry’s best friend, but Harry barely interacts, not really. Sure, he appears to, but there’s some sort of barrier there. He lets people follow if they like, but doesn’t seem to pull them in. It’s like he just exists. His behaviour is unusual for the supposed saviour of the wizarding world.
He began to say he thought something, then something about his uncle, then was quiet, looking at the unconscious troll as if it might rise up and attack again. What was up with that?
She saw him with the Weasleys a few days ago while she was in Diagon Alley, getting her books. Gilderoy Lockhart tried to pull him up to the front of the room and Harry turned around and punched the man in the face, before stumbling back stammering apologies and things about memories. Strangely enough, he was fine moments later, yet she’s seen him sitting up late and unable to sleep in the common room while she pores over her books. Harry doesn’t like Lockhart, whether it be for his attempt to pull Harry into the limelight or something else, and while Hermione was originally impressed, Harry’s actions keep drawing niggling doubts to her mind, as if he’s sitting in the back of her skull and commenting for her.
The door to the compartment slides open and Harry sits down. It’s a surprise, but Hermione often thinks for a little too long. This is nothing new. What catches Hermione’s is that Harry is reading over a muggle newspaper. He doesn’t do anything more than nod and smile slightly to her, stowing his bags, before her’s comfortably placed on a seat, dead to the outside world, reading the paper. He seems pleased at something.
“What’s it say?” she asks. He doesn’t say anything, just passes over a few inside pages, which she scans. Police still have no leads on a house which was looted and then had most of its insides destroyed by explosives last week. A number of pieces of evidence were found inside relating to human trafficking, leading Scotland Yard to believe this is a revenge case. The owner of the home, a man aged in his 40s, has denied involvement. Oddly, security cameras were able to catch multiple things moving, yet never any people. Supernatural expert Robert Barclay…
Hermione stops reading and hands the paper back. “That’s good, I guess.”
“It is,” Harry agrees neutrally.
“The person who did it will still get in trouble, though,” Hermione sighs, more to herself than anyone else. When she next glances up, Harry is idly watching her, and she tilts her head slightly in question.
“There are no leads, Hermione,” he comments. “No fingerprints, no DNA, nobody seen on the cameras.”
It hits her. He’s pleased. Too pleased. Just a little too much. And Harry, if you believe Ronald, has an invisibility cloak.
She doesn’t comment on it, thinking, and Harry goes back to reading his paper.
Now that Hermione thinks of it, Harry never expressed much fondness for his family, but he’s always sending letters. Hitting a house of this size isn’t a one-man job.
She doesn’t question him any further, and he seems to appreciate it. “Mars Bar?” he asks.
If there was a time Hermione would have been squeamish about benefitting from the proceeds of crime, it’s gone now.
Hermione is petrified in the hospital wing, and it’s perfectly coincided with a key Quidditch match. Harry is insulted to the point that even Wood isn’t coming across as quite so fanatical. Ronald is looking at him like he’s cracked. Maybe he has, a little. Hermione is holding a piece of paper in her stiff, cold fingers. Harry wiggles it out. Pipes.
Harry goes to follow the pipes in the school, though not before willing everything he owns to Jet. It’s probably not legal, but he may as well try. Ron insists on following along. Ron is a bit goofy, Harry thinks, but a good bloke. He has a nice family. Mrs Weasley insists on sending Harry presents at Christmas. Fred and George offered to help Ron steal their Dad’s car and break him out of the Dursley’s. Harry politely declined, but he appreciates it.
McGonagall isn’t particularly pleased at finding two of her cubs wandering around. Harry says they’re visiting Hermione. McGonagall acquiesces, but wards them off from further exploration. Harry isn’t sure how to feel about this. He settles for meekness. They don’t follow the pipes anymore.
Ron’s little sister Ginny goes missing. If the writing on the wall is to be believed (and Harry is quite inclined to do so), she’s been kidnapped.
Harry is majorly insulted.
Perhaps he’s been getting a little possessive of his innocent people, he muses to himself later, covered in blackened blood, newly brought back from the dead and considering the merits of pinching a large amount of basilisk bits. The giant snake’s skin is the colour of a green highlighter, but it’s wonderfully tough and spell resistant and Emerald would wear it, if nobody else. The only problem is how to get at it.
Ginny is becoming properly lucid. They should probably get back before Ron murders Lockhart. It might be hard to prove the basilisk did it if the corpse is too fresh. Ginny sniffles. Harry remembers why he decided to come down here. Insulted. These are MY Weasleys.
Together, dragging a large sword, a battered hat, and a well-stabbed diary with them, they leave the Chamber.
“You solved it!” Hermione squeals, bounding across the hall with far too much energy for a 13-year-old who’s been petrified for half a dozen weeks, catching Harry and Ron around the shoulders, and nearly knocking them into the celebratory feast. Ron turns pinkish, Harry notes to his amusement. Hermione, usually detail-oriented, ploughs on regardless. “You took my note and you solved it!”
It’s nice to be appreciated like this. It just needs a little more as a cherry on top.
It’s 3 AM when he turns to Hermione, who’s reading a book over pudding. “Hermione,” he says, “What do you know about tailoring and rendering 10-yard magically impervious snake corpses?”
“Was that English?” Ron asks through his fifth cupcake.
“Yes, it was, but why are you attempting to turn a basilisk into a fashion statement?” Hermione asks.
“Souvenir,” Harry replies. Too quick, apparently. Hermione’s face twitches just enough to let him know he needs to work on his mask a little more.
“I would try a dark curse,” Hermione says slowly.
This is why Harry likes Hermione.
“That is the ugliest dress I’ve ever seen,” Ruby says flatly.
“Shut up, Ruby.” Emerald snorts. “It just needs bows.”
“I think I agree with Ruby,” Jet says slowly. “Leyden, what is that stuff?”
“That stuff is the Wizard equivalent of a bulletproof vest,” Harry sniffs. “I had to spend three hours in the library with Hermione to find out how to cut that stuff to shape. It’s not my fault there are no known spells that will force a dye to stick to it.”
Emerald jumps up and hugs Harry koala-style. “I love you, Leyden.”
“Thank you,” Harry replies. “I try my best.”
“So, Emerald gets a bulletproof dress,” Ruby says. “I get… curved. Things. Curved things with handles on them.”
“Basilisk fangs,” Harry explains, picking one up and weighing it in his hand. “I ripped them out of its head. The poison takes less than a minute to kill you and the only known cure is phoenix tears.”
“How do you know this stuff?” Jet asks curiously.
“Voldemort had a cursed diary that he used to possess one of my people’s siblings and make a basilisk slide around the school trying and failing to kill people with its murder eyes, but it kept failing so eventually the diary kidnapped the sister and I took offense and murdered the snake and the diary. Also I got bit but a phoenix saved me. The phoenix was there because I said the headmaster hadn’t deserted the school – he got kicked out by the board of governors, by the way, and I’m pretty sure the guy who blackmailed them into it was the one who planted the diary – so the phoenix showed up with a magic hat and I pulled a five-foot sword out of the hat to stab the snake.”
“You’re screwing with us,” Jet says.
“I wish,” Harry snorts. “I’m considering showing up to school next year in a padded suit.”
Ruby considers her murder implements, then carefully wraps them back up and sticks them in a lockbox under her bed. Harry takes this to be a sign of approval.
“So, Emerald’s dress is essentially an anti-tank vest, Ruby has instant murder sticks, what’s this?” Sapphire asks. “It just looks like a normal set of knives.”
“It’s bone steel. Hermione told me about it. Apparently the Vikings thought if you made steel with your enemies burnt bones in it the weapons would be strengthened. It’s actually just the carbon that makes it better, although those are bones from a basilisk tail, so it might also have some other effects,” Harry replies.
“That’s metal,” Sapphire comments. “I think I’ll collect these made out of my enemies.”
“What did Leyden get you, Jet?” Emerald asks, holding ribbons up to her dress and trying to figure out where they’d be best placed.
Jet smiles and holds up a silvery material.
“It’s not like my father’s, I don’t think,” Harry admits. “Mine is an heirloom, these ones supposedly go opaque after ten or fifteen years, I couldn’t find any like mine, but it’ll serve well for those ten or fifteen years, and they’re pretty hard to detect.”
“In ten years’ time we’ll rule the world and we can buy as many as we need,” Jet says comfortably. “We’ve got another raid in order and this is perfect. It’s been boring without you, Leyden. Goldheel’s lot are encroaching on us, you know.”
“How convenient,” Harry purrs. “Let’s do it.”
Wiltshire Bandits Strike Again – House of Suspected Paedophile Looted and Destroyed
“People are starting to call us vigilantes,” Ruby grumbles. “It’s not our fault the scum of the world is rich.”
“Exactly,” Sapphire agrees. “We’ve got to get our funds somewhere, and drugs are plebeian.”
“I’m thinking of buying this property here,” Jet says. “What do you think? It’s got a good location and everything.”
“Do it,” Harry affirms, barely looking up from his list of targets. “You’ve got a good sense of that stuff.”
“Can we get magic candy tomorrow?” Emerald asks. “I’m craving Cauldron Cakes.”
“Can you wait ‘til overmorrow?” Harry asks. “I think I’ve got one more target before I visit the Weasley house.”
Cult Leader Stabbed to Death in Home During Robbery – Splintered Bullets Found Littering Scene
“Why did you have to stab her?” Jet asks wearily, grabbing a chocolate frog. “There was blood everywhere.”
“She was annoying me,” Sapphire protests, waving a liquorice wand. “When people get in the way, I stab. Besides, naðrbein needed to be baptised.”
“At least we known the dress really is bulletproof,” Emerald says thickly through her cake.
“And there are still no leads,” Ruby adds smugly. “Hey, Leyden, are you going to eat any of this or not?”
Harry, who is sitting on the bed holding a large Galaxy, shakes his head. “I only get to eat these for a month or so a year. I can eat those whenever I like. I’m good.”
“Harry,” Hermione sighs, “When I complained about the lack of support in robes I wasn’t asking for you to commission a basilisk-hide corset.”
“It’s bulletproof, and possibly Killing Curse proof, though I couldn’t find any human volunteers for the test,” Harry replies evenly.
“I know,” Hermione sighs. “It’s just – never mind.”
There’s a short silence, but before it can become awkward, the Burrow is rocked by a loud explosion. A few seconds later, Ron pops out of his room and trots down the stairs, apparently supremely unperturbed. “Harry, mate! Thanks for the muggle sweets, and that shirt. I’ve been meaning to ask, though, why’s it so green?”
“They’re green because he made them out of the snake,” Hermione says flatly before Harry can respond.
Ron blinks. “The – OH.”
“Unfortunately, the thing repels magic, so I couldn’t dye it a different colour,” Harry chirps. “Although… I suppose we could claim we’re wearing the skins of wayward Slytherin firsties.”
“Is this related to the massive skull Ginny turned into a garden feature?” Ron asks. “Because she just came home with it and nobody wants to question her when she’s vindictive.”
“Yeah, that’s the Murder Spaghetti’s head,” Harry replies cheerfully. “I thought she might like it. Garden feature, you say?”
“Yeah,” Ron says. “It grows roses now.”
“Lovely,” Hermione comments dryly.
That evening, when Hermione has left for her own home, Mrs Weasley prepares an oversized supper and they sit outside in the garden under conjured lights, basilisk skull gleaming pearly white against a backdrop of green grass and blood-red roses.
“Ron, what are you wearing?” Percy asks. “That shirt’s as bright as Lockhart’s robes.”
“Present from Harry,” Ron explains.
Mr Weasley stops chewing for a moment and looks up. “Is it in any way related to the skull your sister brought home at the beginning of summer?”
“Same snake,” Ron says thickly, stuffing a potato in with half-chewed beef.
“It’s where it belongs,” Harry proclaims cheerfully. “On the backs of blood-traitors and muggleborns, and the head buried in the garden. These peas are lovely, Mrs Weasley.”
“Thank… you, dear,” Mrs Weasley says, apparently torn between affection and wondering what on Earth she had decided to adopt. Instead of trying to puzzle it out, she turns to the twins. “So, I heard another big bang today, boys. What have you been doing?”
Fred takes a large breath and puts the tips of his fingers together, adopting a solemn expression. “So basilisk blood is slightly explosive…”
“You’re out of bed,” Hermione comments.
Harry turns around at the fireplace, wrapped up in his cloak. To his surprise, Hermione is also fully dressed. “So are you.”
“Of course I am,” she says. “Somebody has to go with you.”
“You’re not going to ask where I’m going?” Harry asks curiously.
She snorts. “I probably don’t want to know, Harry. How many houses have gone boom in Wiltshire? Six. Six houses. Somebody needs to stop you from going after a – a cockatrice, or something. Wait – you’re not going to track down Black, are you? Oh, Harry, please don’t.”
“Relax,” Harry smiles. Hermione is far too sweet, even if she can be right snarky sometimes. “I’m going to the Ministry. I want to check their public files.”
“So why are you sneaking – no, I don’t want to know. Like I said, I’m coming with you, so let’s go.”
Harry shrugs, turning back to the grate. “Of course. Come on.” He grabs a pinch of floo powder and throws it into the flames, before stepping into the fire. “The Ministry of Magic!” he cries, and the world spins, first faster and faster, then to a halt as he stumbles out into a barely-lit Ministry atrium. A soft ‘poof’ tells him Hermione has just popped out behind him and he glances around, wondering where to go, before settling on a desk with a bored-looking attendant behind it.
The attendant takes their wands and checks them, gives them badges, warns them not to stay up too long, the Hogwarts express leaves tomorrow, after all, and sends them off in the direction of a massive room of papers. A quick scanning of the shelves quickly reveals the criminal proceedings files; they’re ordered alphabetically and Harry grabs the ‘S’ and ‘B’ sections from 1981 and proceeds to rifle through them. After a few passes, he glances up, frustrated. “Hermione, is there a spell to summon an object?”
“Yes, accio – but Harry, we’ll get in trouble!”
“The Trace works on proximity,” Harry points out. “It’s probably going haywire from us being in the Ministry anyway. I’m going to try it, anyway. Wand movement?”
“Upside-down ‘u’,” Hermione tells him, biting her lip nervously, and Harry raises his wand. “Accio Sirius Black file.”
Nothing. He tries again. “Accio Sirius Black File.”
“You might be doing it wrong,” Hermione suggests. “Let me try. Accio Sirius Black File!”
A sheet of paper shoots down from the shelf, and for a moment Harry is elated, before he sees the heading and his smile fades. “That’s a birth certificate.”
“It is,” Hermione says slowly. “But – Harry – what does this mean?”
“It means,” Harry replies grimly, “That someone is playing games. Somehow, I find it hard to believe two things – that Voldemort could be vanquished by a 1-year-old, and that a man could murder another man so violently there was nothing left but a finger. In my case, I’m pretty sure either Mum or Dad did something. Black’s case doesn’t make sense. And he never went to trial.” He stands up, slots the papers back into their place, and turns around, face set. “I want to know why.”
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