Actions

Work Header

Return of the Lost

Chapter Text

Trick came back to awareness with four new certainties in his life.  One: He was never going to let Foxxe get bored ever again.  Two: He was very much not where he had been.  Three: The people around him were speaking a language he could understand but didn't know. Four: He was absolutely certain, in the way that only the Force could provide, that he was not to speak of where he'd been, who he'd been with, or the Force itself to the people around him.  Trick shifted slightly and upped his certainties to five.  Five: Everything ached.

He made himself open his eyes and blinked several times to help them adjust to the lighting in the room.  Looming over him was an older woman with sharp eyes, dressed in a dark red frock with a white apron and wearing a white veil.

“How do you feel, child?”  She said gently as she waved a stick at him.

Trick blinked, “I, uh, I’m fine.”  Child?  He sat up and blinked as he took in his appearance.  He was tiny!  His voice had sounded young too, what did you do, Foxxe?  “Where am I?”  He asked to cover his confusion.

“This is Hogwarts,” the woman said.

“What’s Hogwarts?”  Trick asked as he looked around, and grimaced.  He’d been wearing contacts for so long, he forgot sometimes just how bad his eyesight was otherwise.  It was lucky the woman had been leaning in close enough for him to see, as now she was shifting back, and her face was blurring just slightly less than whatever was around them.

“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, surely you’ve heard of it?”  Someone else said, in a silky yet disapproving voice.

“Can’t say that I have sir,” Trick said.  “But then, I also can’t actually see anything right now, so even if I had seen something about it, I wouldn’t know.”

“You’re blind?”  The woman began.

Trick snorted, “Nearly, but no, I lost my contacts.  I can’t see clearly past my nose.  It’s just bright blurs, dark blurs, and pink blurs that I assume are people.”

There was also the Force, telling him that the woman was briskly kind hearted, and the man was reserved and suspicious of him.  The others around him were curious for the most part, although there was some fear.  Then another person approached, who seemed to be kindly and grandfatherly, but which set off every Force enhanced instinct he had, and Trick scooted back enough that he could begin to make the attempt to get to his feet.

“Careful,” the woman said.

“I’m always careful,” Trick replied as he managed to get up.

“I am Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts,” the newcomer announced in an older voice.

Trick gave a courtly bow, “My name is Trick.”

“A nickname,” said the suspicious one.

Trick shook his head slightly, “Not so, sir.  My buir and his aliit set great store in names matching the person.  My name came about because of who I am, not what my parents felt was a suitable designation of my birth.”

“And what would that designation have been, my boy?”  Dumbledore said.

“Well, we’re not sure really, none of us ever met my parents, but Master Kara’s really good at clairvoyance and she said it was Harry Potter.  But I prefer Trick, that’s who I am.”

The room exploded with noise at that, and Trick could hear Harry Potter being whispered over and over around them.

“Perhaps this would be better dealt with in your office,” the woman said.

“Indeed Madam Pomfrey,” Dumbledore said.  “Professor Snape, will you escort young Trick up to my office?  I will join you once the feast commences.”

“Yes Headmaster,” the suspicious one said, although Trick could tell that he would rather be doing anything else.  “Follow me,” the professor added as he swept past Trick.

Trick hurried to follow, stumbling on the uneven floor a bit.  Professor Snape vanished through a set of what appeared to be doors before he could catch up and when he stepped through, the professor was nowhere to be seen.

“Professor Snape?”  Trick called, squinting as he tried to figure out where his guide had gone.  He could have tracked him in the Force, but his instincts told him that that was far too obvious.

After a moment, he heard footsteps and then a dark, moving blur approached him, “Child, do you not understand how to follow?”

“I cannot see,” Trick retorted, “a dark moving blur in a dark blurry space is difficult to make out, not to mention this is not a smooth floor.  I apologize for delaying you, but I felt that staying here, where I would reasonably be expected would be far wiser than to wander off and get lost.”

Professor Snape was silent for a long moment, “My apologies.  Allow me to guide you,” and his hand came to rest on Trick’s shoulder.

“Thank you, sir,” Trick said quietly.

There were a lot of stairs.  Trick carefully climbed each set with Professor Snape behind him like an extension of his shadow, and finally they approached something that even up close Trick didn’t recognized, it was a stone statute of some sort of beast, one he’d never heard of.

“Lemon drops,” Professor Snape said.

The beast shuddered and then jumped aside.

“The staircase moves,” Professor Snape added, giving Trick’s shoulder a gentle push, “mind your step.”

“Thank you,” Trick replied and carefully felt his way onto the stairs.  Holding still as the stairs carried him upward was unnerving, especially given the lack of a handrail of some sort.  When the stairs opened into a hallway, he stepped off, moving forward enough to allow the professor to follow him, then it was through a door and into a room that glittered, even to his blurry eyes, and there were assorted whirrs and clicks.

“Have a seat,” Professor Snape said.  “Do you know what happened to you, how you came to be in the Great Hall?”

Trick settled onto a padded, wooden chair and cleared his throat, “So, um, contrary to my name, I’m not a, a trickster.  Not really.  I’m really good at distractions and such, and my buir and I look so much alike that people don’t always realize we’re adopted, but I’m not like my ba’vodu.  They don’t have names; they have a warning.  But I’m not perfect either.  My friend Foxxe, she’s older than me and she really wants her ba’buir to let her do more.  She, um, she talked me into helping her prove that we could handle it, by sneaking into the artifact vault.  Well, Foxxe, she takes after her buir, who’s vod’e like mine, but her mom’s not.  Her mom’s a Val, and while she isn’t like us, her cousin, or um, third cousin once removed, Master Jaran, is.  And he sets off artifacts just by standing near him and there’s always been jokes that it was something genetic, even though Foxxe always discounted it, but I’m pretty sure it is, because those artifacts only glow when they’re active.  So Foxxe probably activated one of the artifacts and I got caught in the crossfire and so I don’t know where I am exactly but considering that the first time Master Jaran did it, he made Master Kara act like cat for hours before they got the amulet away from her, I think this might be a little bit better.”

“Indeed,” Professor Snape said.  “Where were you?”

Trick shrugged, “We never officially named it, since we don’t want people to find us.  Mostly we refer to it as the refuge.  I’ve been there since I was little, not quite two.”  He paused, “Can I ask, how did people know Harry Potter?  I’ve never used that name, ever.”

“Harry Potter is a hero,” Professor Snape said after a long moment, sounding grudging and bitter.  “As a babe, he vanquished an evil wizard who attempted to murder him and vanished shortly thereafter from his home.”

“Oh,” Trick said, “Not to doubt Master Kara, because she’s good at what she does, but could I really be this Harry Potter?  Maybe there was a mistake.”

Silence.

“Although I was not fond of him, I knew Harry Potter’s father in our youth.  You look a great deal similar to him, save that your eyes resemble Harry Potter’s mother.  The likelihood of your origins is very high, but I expect the Headmaster will do an inheritance test of some sort to determine the truth of it.”

Trick wondered how an inheritance test would prove his parentage but shrugged it off on the though that they probably meant a genetics test of some sort.

“Here comes the Headmaster, he will be better able to answer any further questions you may have.”  Professor Snape continued.

The door opened, “Severus, young Trick, all is well I trust?”

“Yes Headmaster,” Trick said after a moment, “Professor Snape has answered several of my questions for me.  It was an enlightening conversation.”

“Delightful,” the silvery-blue blur that was the Headmaster passed him, “would you care for a lemon drop?”

“No thank you,” Trick said.

“Very well, I would like to ask a few questions of my own.  Severus would you contact Gringotts and request that they prepare an inheritance test please?”

“Of course, Headmaster,” Professor Snape said, and left.

Trick squared his shoulders and faced the silvery blur, “I’ll answer your questions as best I can sir.”

“Thank you, dear boy,” Dumbledore said, “now let’s begin.”

Chapter Text

Goblins were tiny and these wizards apparently had some form of teleportation.  At least, that’s what Trick could sort of make out from the way what he thought was a fire had turned from orange to green before a small form stepped out of it.

“Greetings, Griphook, thank you for coming,” Headmaster Dumbledore said genially.

“You’re welcome, Headmaster,” the small form said.  Trick was amused to note that while Griphook sounded almost polite, his disdain for the Headmaster was clear in the Force.

“This is Trick,” Dumbledore continued, “the boy we wish to see tested.”

Trick stood and bowed, “Greetings, Master Griphook.  Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.  I apologize, I usually use vision correction, but they have been lost in the events of today.  I promise to do my utmost to carryout your instructions in this matter.”

“Greetings, Master Trick, in a moment, I will ask you for three drops of blood for the test but allow me to set it up first.”  Griphook replied.

“Of course,” Trick said and sat back down.

“Madam Pomfrey, come in,” Dumbledore said as Griphook moved away from the teleporter.

Trick turned to watch as the red blur of Madam Pomfrey entered the room, “Headmaster, I apologize, but I found them.”  She brandished something that glinted silver.

“Oh very good,” Dumbledore said.

“Mister Trick,” Madam Pomfrey said, “these are glasses we use when one of our students has their glasses broken and they need to send for new ones.  They are charmed to adjust to the prescription of the wearer.”

“Oh, I would love to be able to really see,” Trick said eagerly, leaning forward.

“Here you go,” Madam Pomfrey slid the frames on Trick’s face and then tapped them with her stick.  After a moment, Trick blinked as the world became clear.

“Thank you so much, Madam Pomfrey,” Trick said, grinning up at her, “It’s nice to actually see you.”

“I’m glad I could assist, young man.”  Madam Pomfrey replied with a kind smile.

Trick glanced around the office, taking in the whirling, silver instruments that had provide the soft soundtrack to the evening, and the multiple portraits that lined the walls.  Then he turned to take in the man every instinct warned him not to trust, but who had seemed a jovial, grandfatherly sort from their first meeting.

Old, with a long beard and human.  He looked as if he were emulating some human related perception of wisdom.

The clearing throat was Professor Snape, reminding him that he was staring.  The Professor was also human, or perhaps near human, with his pale skin and black eyes and long hair.  The black robes he wore aided in the somewhat sinister appearance.

“I am ready,” Griphook announced.

Trick got up and hurried over, “Three drops of blood?”  He asked, reaching for the utility knife in his belt.

“Yes,” Griphook said, holding out a silver dagger.  Trick hesitated, then accepted it.  “Right here, please,” the Goblin pointed to a bowl.

Trick bit his lip and slid the dagger over his thumb, shunting the pain into the Force as the blood swelled and dripped off.  At three, he popped his thumb in his mouth and offered the dagger back to Griphook, twisting it so that the handle was aimed at the Goblin.

“Honestly,” Madam Pomfrey began.

Trick pulled his thumb out and held it up so that she could see that it was healed.  “No worries.  Just a little cut.”

“How,” Madam Pomfrey began.

“Self-healing minor cuts and bruises was part of my training,” Trick said, watching as the Goblin dipped the bloody dagger in the bowl and stir.  “I’m not a healer, doing more than that was outside my range of skills.”

Griphook lifted the dagger, coated in a golden liquid and held it over the parchment, allowing the liquid to drip in the center of it.  There was a flash of soft golden light, and then letters appeared on the scroll flowing up to the top, forming lines and what Trick assumed were words, although it was a writing system he didn’t know.

So, I can speak and understand the language, but not read it?  What sort of, of, magic is this?  He mused as the whole thing came to a stop.

“According to the blood inheritance test, this young man is Harry James Potter, called Trick, son of James Charlus Potter and Lily Marie Potter nee Evans.  He is a wizard and eligible for the duties and obligations of the Heir of House Potter.”  Griphook announced finally.

Trick nodded slightly, “Okay, thank you Griphook.”

“You are surprisingly calm,” Professor Snape said.

“Compartmentalizing,” Trick replied shortly as he tried to fit that confirmation into his mind.  “My buir, he was a Commander, a soldier, he taught me.  This is not the time to panic.”

“Most would say it is the perfect time to panic,” Snape retorted.

Trick glanced at him, “Perhaps for some.  I’ll reserve my break down for when this is settled.”

“Indeed, my boy, such an admirable position,” Dumbledore cut in.  “We need to discuss what this means for you.”

“Well, I’m probably stuck here until the artifact reverse things,” Trick said, “previous experience says that could take anywhere from hours to months.”  He shrugged, “Given the distance and such involved, it could even take years.”

“Yes, but your parents intended for you to be a student of Hogwarts, to learn magic.  Your name was written down before you were even born, and as you are eleven, the age of enrollment.”  Dumbledore pressed.

Trick wavered a moment and then nodded, “I’ve always wondered about that.  I mean, my people, they don’t use wands, and I’ve done things they couldn’t.”  He smiled bashfully, “When I was first brought to medical, I objected strongly to the tests they conducted.  I turned Master Saje’s hair purple, and Doctor Val’s hair blue.  No one else could do that sort of thing.  I’d love to learn what else I can do.”

“Then we shall see you sorted tonight and in the morning your head of house will take you to purchase school things.” Dumbledore agreed.

“I’m sorry, but how will I purchase things, and what’s a head of house?”  Trick pressed.

“Your key,” Griphook said, holding out a small silver object, “It will allow you access to your trust vault until you come of age.  There is money within.”  He bowed slightly, “Until you come to Gringotts, young wizard.”  He turned and walked over to what Trick realized was actually a fireplace, threw something within, and declared “Gringotts Bank!”  The flames turned green and the goblin walked inside.

“What the,” Trick whispered, but Dumbledore was talking again.

“As to the Head of House, here in Hogwarts we have four houses, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.  Professor Snape is the Head of Slytherin House, which means that he has the task of looking after the students in his house.  He insures that they have the necessary supplies, handles general punishments, and ensures that they act in a manner fitting of a student to the premier school in Wizarding Britain.”  Professor Dumbledore said, “Later, you will meet Professor McGonagall of Gryffindor, Professor Flitwick of Ravenclaw, and Professor Sprout of Hufflepuff as they will also be some of your teachers.”

“And how do I know what House I am in?”  Trick asked.

“The Sorting Hat,” Professor Dumbledore replied, “it is a magical artifact that looks in your mind decides where you go best.”

“All right,” Trick said carefully.

The door to the office opened and a stern, older woman in a green dress came in, carrying a battered hat.  “Right on time, Professor McGonagall.  The goblins have confirmed, this is Harry Potter, returned to us in time for his first year of school.”  Professor Dumbledore announced, “We are prepared to sort him now.”

“Yes, Headmaster,” Professor McGonagall said, she turned to Trick, “Welcome to Hogwarts, Mister Potter.”

Trick realized he’d have to become accustomed to that name, even if it really wasn’t his name.  Who needed two names, anyway?  “A pleasure, Professor McGonagall,” he said aloud, with a polite bow.

“I will place the hat on your head, and it will tell us where you belong,” Professor McGonagall said as she approached with the hat.

Trick closed his eyes as the hat dropped on his head, opening himself to the Force.

Well, you’re different.

Trick smiled, Perhaps, Master Hat, but I am also a wizard to be sorted.  Although, I do not understand, what exactly are you looking for?

That’s simple, Mister Trick.  I look for your values.  We say Gryffindor is the home of the brave, but it is not simple.

I should hope not!  Bravery is not a one dimensional concept, and not everyone is brave in the same way.

You would understand that.  Do not worry, I am bound by magic not to reveal what I see in your head, yes even through those rather exceptional shields.  Now, Ravenclaw, Ravenclaws value knowledge.

Research but not real logic, yes?

The hat laughed, As you say, young one.  Hufflepuff, on the other hand, value hard work and loyalty.  I would daresay you’d do well in Hufflepuff, but maybe it is not the best choice.

What about Slytherin?

Cunning and ambition, although it has such a reputation these days.

How many politicians came out of Slytherin?

This time, the hat’s laughter actually carried out into the office, “I like this one, Headmaster,” the hat said in words that echoed in Trick’s mind and his ears.

Many politicians.

Then if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not go to Slytherin. As you may have noticed, I have certain opinions about politicians and their ilk.

Quite understandable, young master Jedi.  No, nor Ravenclaw, for all you are intelligent and curious.  No, for you, the best house of all for you in particular is GRYFFINDOR!

Again, the word Gryffindor echoed in his mind and ear.  Moments later, his sight was restored as the hat came off.

“Congratulations, Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall said, “I am sure you will be a credit to our house, just as much as your parents were.  Professor Dumbledore has informed me of your needs and tomorrow I will take you to acquire your supplies, until then, I’ll escort you to your dormitory.”

“Thank you, professor,” Trick said with a bow.

Chapter Text

The other so-called First Years had been sleeping when Trick had joined them, allowing him to wash his face, have a near silent breakdown over the 11 year old in the mirror, and climb into bed in his pants for lack of proper sleepwear. Therefore it wasn’t until the next morning that his sorting had become known.

“WE’VE GOT HARRY POTTER!”

The shout, coupled with the uneasy dreams Trick had been experiencing, and sent him shooting up and out of bed, landing beside the canopied bed in a cautious crouch.  Asserting that he was not, in fact, under attack, he straightened up and reached out to call his temporary frames to his hand.

Standing at the foot of his bed was a red haired, human boy with freckles, his blue eyes wide with shock.  “Good morning,” Trick offered.

“You, what, your wand,” the boy stuttered.

“I don’t have one yet,” Trick said as he reached for his shirt, pleased that it had shrunk to fit him in the de-aging part of his little adventure.

“But, wandless magic,” The boy whimpered.

“Is that not allowed?”  Trick asked carefully.

“It’s really hard,” one of the other boys in the room said.  Another human, he had sandy blond hair and looked to be clinging rather stubbornly to his baby fat.

“Oh,” Trick said, “I can’t do much.  Push things like that mostly.  Not unless I’m upset.”

“Most of us can’t do it at all,” the boy said.

The red head swallowed a bit, “You’re Harry Potter.”

“I am,” Trick agreed, “at least, that’s how my mother and father named me.  My name is Trick, and I would be pleased if you would use it.”

“Right, I’m Ron Weasley,” the red head said.

“Neville Longbottom,” the blond offered, and pointed to the remaining two beds, “That’s Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, but they’re not awake yet.”

“Working on it,” one of the two said, a boy with dark skin like Foxxe or her mother had.  Trick was pretty sure he was a Kiffar, though.  “I’m Dean,” he added around a yawn.

“Ye’re all bloody noisy,” the final boy said, another sandy blond with a distinctly different accent.

“Sorry, Seamus Finnegan,” Trick said, he glanced at Ron, who was already dressed.  “I don’t suppose you know where the, the Great Hall is?  I’m supposed to meet Professor McGonagall there after breakfast.”

“That’s where we eat breakfast,” Ron said, “yeah, I’ll show you.”

“I’ll come with you,” Neville offered, “we can let Seamus and Dean get themselves together then.”

They left the dorm and entered the very red Gryffindor common room.  Waiting for them was a tall red head who looked enough like Ron to be related and a dark skinned girl with curly hair that reminded Trick of Mercy and Faith, the siblings from Aurin, although the girl didn’t seem to have attempted to tame her hair at all the way the siblings had.  They both wore black robes and white shirts with red and gold ties, but the boy wore pants and had a golden ‘P’ on his robe and the girl wore a skirt and calf socks.

“Ron, must you be so loud,” the red head said.

“Sorry,” Ron said, “but it’s Harry Potter.”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall explained about his sorting,” the red head said.  “I am Percy Weasley, one of the Gryffindor Prefects, it is my job to assist the teachers in maintaining order and to answer any questions you may have.”

“Harry Potter,” Trick said with a nod of his head.

“I’m Hermione Granger,” the girl said bouncing on her toes, “did you know you were in books?”

Trick blinked, “Uh no, I didn’t.”  He remembered Professor Snape’s summery of the history of Harry Potter, “That’s interesting though, I’d love to hear more later.  However, Ron and Neville agreed to show me the Great Hall, I have to meet Professor McGonagall.”

“I’ll go with you,” Hermione offered, “let’s go!”  She turned and all but ran for the common room door.

“Mental that one,” Ron said.

“Don’t be rude,” Trick told him pointedly, “she’s very enthusiastic, yes, but there’s no call to be rude.”  He hurried after the girl; fearful she’d leave them all behind at the moving staircases.

Prefect Percy went down with them, ensuring they didn’t actually get lost, which was nice of him.  They sat down on the table at the far right of the hall, next to the table with blue and bronze trimmed students.

“That’s Ravenclaw,” Hermione said as they filled their plates.

Trick took a little of everything the others did, not wanting to be rude but unsure how it would match up to one of his dad’s breakfasts.

“Everything all right?”  Neville asked as Trick considered one of the cooked red fruits.

“Yes, thank you,” Trick replied, carefully cutting a piece off.  “This isn’t what I’m used to for breakfast.”  He tried a piece and carefully did not wrinkle his nose.  Whatever that was, it wasn’t on his preferred foods list.  Quickly, he ate the rest of it so that it would be off his plate before turning to the small pile of yellow, something.  It wasn’t bad, but he was pretty sure he’d want to know what it was before he committed to eating more of it.  The meats, however, whatever they came from, they were pretty tasty.

Two thumps announced the arrival of yet more gingers like Ron.

“Blast it, how many of you are there?”  He demanded of Ron, who snorted.

“So you’re Harry Potter,” one of the two gingers said.  They were clearly identical twins, but Trick had grown up around people with identical faces, spotting the differences, the way their natural expressions and personalities shaped them, was easier than it probably should be.

“I’m Fred and he’s George,” the other one added.

Lie, Trick thought, trying another sip of the too sweet juice to hide his smile.  “I’m Harry, but you can call me Trick.”

“Trick?”  The pair said in unison.

“That’s my name,” Trick agreed.  He studied the pair, “You two look like you should come with a warning label, not a name.”

The pair adopted matching wounded expressions, “Why Tricky, that’s not nice.”

“You don’t even know us.”

“We’re perfectly nice.”

“Uh huh,” Trick said, reaching for more of the meat, “sure.  I know your sort, you’re the fun sort.”

The twins grinned, “Maybe we are.”

“Uh oh,” Neville said softly.

“Ugh,” Ron added, “Malfoy.”

“Who?”  Trick asked, glancing between the two.

“Is it true then,” a blond boy with a green and silver tie demanded as he approached, “are you actually Harry Potter?”

Trick put down his utensils and gave the boy a diplomatic smile, “That’s what the inheritance test said.”

“I’m Malfoy, Draco Malfoy,” the boy said, “you probably don’t want to be sitting with them.”

“And why is that,” Trick said blandly.

“My father says that the Weasleys are a disgrace to wizards.”  Malfoy held out his hand, “You’ll find some families are better than others, and you don’t want to fall in with the wrong sort, I can help you there.”

Trick tilted his head, he already knew he wasn’t interested, but this was an eleven year old boy.  His father had probably given him every material thing he’d ever wanted without really giving him what the boy most needed.  Perhaps Trick could give him something to think about.

“So, I’m going to be honest with you, Mister Malfoy,” Trick said, “because I honestly can’t tell if you thought that was something diplomatic or not.  It was quite rude, and if the quality of your robes is any indication, you come from a family of privilege.  Perhaps if you were to rethink your offer, maybe try to not offend the person you’re looking to meet, I’d consider it then.”  Now, a little bit of bite, “Maybe you should ask your father how to phrase it better.”

Malfoy was clearly upset, “When my father hears about this,” he began.

“He’ll advise you to mind your manners?”  Trick offered dryly.

Malfoy glared at him a moment, rocked on his toes, then spun and stormed away.

Ron was staring at him wide eyed, “That was bloody brilliant.”

“Thanks,” Trick said.  “My teacher used to have to deal with politicians a lot, he liked word games like that.  I’m not half as good as Master Micah.  He’d have had Malfoy actually apologizing on the spot.”

“Wicked,” Ron said.

“Ronnikins would never be able to pull that off,” George announced.

“Too much Weasley temper,” Fred added.

Wondering if ‘Ronnikins’ had the same meaning as when his buir called a brother vod’ika, Trick shrugged, “He probably could, actually.  It just takes time and dedication.  But that’s a choice for you to make on your own,” Trick told Ron.

“Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall said.

“Good morning, Professor McGonagall,” Trick said politely.

“Have you finished breakfast yet?”  Professor McGonagall asked.

“Just finished,” Trick said, “I’m ready to leave if you are.”

“Yes please,” Professor McGonagall said, “we’ll be leaving from my office, coming along.”  She glanced at Trick’s companions, “Today is a free day, you may wander about the castle, but do keep in mind where the boundaries are.  If I return to find that any of you have cause trouble, you will regret it.”

“Yes Professor,” Neville, Ron, Fred, and George said in quick unison as Trick stood up.

“Where do I take my plate?”  Trick asked, reaching for it.

“Leave it there,” Professor McGonagall said, “It will be taken care of.”

Trick nodded, tucking his hands in his jacket pockets to hide how twitchy it made him.  Then the dirty plate he’d left shivered and was replaced nearly instantaneously with a clean gold plate identical to the one that left.

“Wizard,” Trick muttered as he slipped a finger through the small hole into the lining of his jacket.  The skin warmed metal of his lightsaber, hidden in the thick lining, was a comfort as he followed his teacher out of the Great Hall.

Chapter Text

Diagon Alley was nothing like Trick had expected.  He had noted the lack of technology around Hogwarts, but assumed it was a sign of the age of the place. 

Having survived the Floo, which Trick thought was interesting and figured that both Foxxe and Misha would enjoy, he’d almost expected something more normal.  Vehicles, moving sidewalks, holographic displays, something.  But this place, it was so unlike what he was used to that it unsettled him almost as much as figuring out the refreshers.

A part of him had spent ten minutes staring at the water showers in shock the night before, there were no sonics.  His hair was going to lose any semblance of control if it got longer than an inch, and from the lack of actual power, he’d bet half his emergency credit stash that there weren’t sonic clippers either.

“Professor,” Trick finally managed, “forgive me for this, but, um, how does Hogwarts handle things like haircuts?”

“When we pick up your personal grooming supplies, I will show you,” Professor McGonagall said, eyeing his hair.

“Thank you,” Trick said.

“Your father’s hair was unruly at the best of times,” McGonagall offered with a slight smile.  “Now, first we will go to Gringotts.  Do you have your key?”

Trick reached into his pocket and pulled it out, “Right here.”

“After that, we’ll see the optometrist to get your glasses ordered so that can be done while we acquire your school supplies.”  McGonagall said.

“Sounds like a plan,” Trick said, “will they have contacts there?”

“I do not know, you’ll have to ask,” McGonagall replied.

Gringotts turned out to be a large, white building with crooked columns that loomed over the alley.  As they mounted the steps, Trick studied the white stone, and the bronze doors before nodded slightly to the guards in their red and gold uniform.  He wished, briefly, that he had his formal uniform for this, but realized that if he was downplaying just what he’d been trained for, that was probably for the best.

The interior doors were silver in color, and there was a plaque.

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed

For those who take, but do not earn,

Must pay most dearly in their turn.

So if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours,

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there

Trick whistled softly.

“You must never attempt to trick or cross a goblin,” Professor McGonagall said before reaching to open the door.  “They will retaliate with great force.”

“I’ll remember that,” Trick said.

Inside, they found an empty desk and approached the goblin waiting there.  “Mister Harry Potter wishes to make a withdrawal,” Professor McGonagall announced.

“And does Mister Harry Potter have his key?”  The goblin asked.

Trick pulled it out and set it on the desk, “Here, sir.”

The goblin considered it a moment, then turned, “Griphook!”  Then passed it back to Harry.

Griphook appeared moments later, “Mister Potter, Professor McGonagall.”

“Well met, Griphook,” Trick said with a polite half bow.

“Come with me to the vaults,” Griphook said.

They passed in a rougher passageway, something that looked far more natural than the polished stone and metal of the main room.  Trick blinked a few times to get his eyes to adjust, and then watched as a set of tracks appeared, with a waiting cart.  Griphook climbed in, so Trick followed with Professor McGonagall just behind him.

“Keep your body in the cart, Mister Potter,” McGonagall said.

“Yes Professor,” Trick replied.

The cart took off, speeding through the darkness at a respectable clip.  Trick reached for the Force, using it to help him keep his balance as they sped around turns, wishing that someone had thought to pad the sides a bit.  When they jerked to a stop Trick grinned brightly.

“That was something,” he said as he followed Griphook out of the cart.  “no restraints though.”

“There are charms,” Griphook replied, “key please.”

“Here,” Trick handed it over, “thank you.”

Griphook opened the door and Trick found himself staring at mountains of coins in gold, silver, and bronze.

“So, how does this money system work?”  Trick asked finally.  “Is there a card or transfer system, or do I carry the actual coins?”

“Until you are of age, you carry a money bag,” Griphook said.  “Without the permission of your guardian, you cannot use an alternate means of accessing the contents of your vault.  The money bags are here,” he pointed to the wall.  “Charmed to be featherlight and expanded to care large amounts.”

“Thank you,” Trick said, collecting a bag.

“Bronze coins are knuts,” Griphook said, “there are 29 knuts to a sickle, the silver coin, and seventeen sickles in a gold galleon.”

“Right,” Trick said.  He turned to the professor, “So, how much should I take?  Are there things I’ll need money for at the school, or will it just be today?”

“There are owl order magazines at the school,” Professor McGonagall said, “We use owls for our mail.  If you chose to order, you send in a form and a bag containing the price.”

“What if I need to order something, but I don’t have enough coin, do I have a recourse?”  Trick asked, glancing between the two.

“As your Head of House, you would discuss it with me,” Professor McGonagall said, “and if it is warranted, I would bring you back to Gringotts to retrieve the appropriate funds.”

“Okay,” Trick nodded, “That’s fair.”

With money in hand, they returned to the surface and McGonagall led him on a circuit of the alley.  First for his eyes, and they did have magical contacts he could get.  Then it was on to get the necessary supplies for being a Hogwarts student.  Trick wasn’t sure how he managed the bookstore, given that he had no clue how to read anything around him.  Instead, he found a slightly bored store clerk and managed to get his help in finding the appropriate books, as well as a few that McGonagall said were integral to a young wizarding student.

Reading issues aside, the two biggest challenges to the day were remembering that he appeared to be eleven and therefore was a lot shorter than he expected to be, and continually refraining from using the Force to acquire things far beyond his reach.  He hadn’t even realized how casual it had become under his buir and Master Micah’s encouragement, not until he had to refrain or upset people.

Finally they entered a shop the professor called “Ollivander’s” for his own wand.

The shop was old and dusty, power humming through the air almost as thick as the dust in the light from the window.  When no one showed immediately, Trick eased down on top of his trunk, grateful for five seconds of peace.

“I wondered when I would see you here, Mister Potter.”

Trick jumped to his feet, sketching a bow, “Pleased to meet you, Master Ollivander.”

“I had expected you in the summer,” Mister Ollivander said with a smile as he bowed in response.

“My travel was delayed,” Trick said easily, “I’ve been out of the country.  Professor McGonagall has been kind enough to help me put together my supplies.”

“Minerva McGonagall,” Mister Ollivander said, “An unusual wand, 9 and a half inches, fir and dragon heartstring.”

“Yes Mister Ollivander, however we are here about Mister Potter’s wand,” Professor McGonagall replied.

“Yes indeed,” Mister Ollivander said, turning away for a moment, then back with a slender box, “What is your wand hand?”

“My, well, I’m dominantly right handed, but I’ve trained almost as much with my left,” Trick said.

“Yes, of course,” Mister Ollivander said as a tape measure began to measure Trick’s body.  He watched it carefully as it seemed to have a mind of it’s own, even measuring his nose.  “Enough,” Ollivander said, holding out the box.  “Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave.”

Trick had barely even lifted it before it was snatched away.

“No,” Ollivander said, “not that one.”  He hummed as he turned away, “Maple and phoenix feather,” another wand was offered, then “Cherry and unicorn.”

That one he barely touched his fingers to before it was taken back.  Wand after wand was produced, each one tagged with those arcane descriptors.

“I wonder,” Ollivander said as he put away a ‘beechwood and phoenix feather’ wand.  “I wonder.”  Leaving the wand on the counter, he vanished into the back of shop, coming back with a dusty box.  “Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.”

Gingerly, Trick took the wand, almost gasping at the surge of power that shot through his fingers.  It was very much like finding his kyber crystal.

He stood outside, at night.  Around him were stone statues and markers, a memorial ground for the dead.  Before him was a creature unlike any he’d ever seen before, barely even qualifying as near human, with red eyes that watched him.  They both held wands connected by a golden rope of light, which also made a cage around them, with the air filled with some kind of song that gave him hope and strength.  The creature was seeped in the Dark Side, much like how the Masters had described Dooku and Ventress during the war.

Trick blinked several times in succession, then shook his head slightly.

He was in Ollivander’s wand shop, holding a wand made of holly and phoenix feather.

“It’s curious, Mister Potter,” Ollivander was saying, as if he hadn’t noticed Trick’s inattention, “very curious.”

“What’s curious?”  Trick asked, even as he knew he would regret the question.

“I remember every wand I ever sold, Mister Potter.  The phoenix gave the feather for your wand gave just one other feather.  It seems curious that you should be destined for this wand when it’s brother gave you your scar.”  Mister Ollivander studied him a long moment, “Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember. . . . I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter. . . . After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.”

Trick lowered his wand with a slight nod, “Thank you for telling me that.”  He glanced down at the wand, “Is there a way to carry my wand, a sheath or special hook for my belt?”

“Yes, but you’ll have to buy them at Wiseacre’s, however, not here.”  Ollivander said, “That will be seven galleons.”

Trick paid the man and turned to the professor, “May we return to Wiseacre’s for the wand sheath please?”

“Yes,” Professor McGonagall said after consulting a pocket watch, “after that, we will have lunch at the Leaky Caldron, I fear we’ll miss it at Hogwarts.”

“Thank you,” Trick said politely.

They left Wiseacre with both a belt hook and a forearm sheath that allowed him to carry his wand like a throwing knife.  Trick thought that one would take time to adjust to, so while the wand went on his belt, he wore the other to allow himself to adjust.  All in all, it had been an informative trip to Diagon Alley, but Trick looked forward to getting back to Hogwarts and getting to know the people there first.

Chapter Text

By the time they returned to Hogwarts, however, Trick realized that his ability to accept and move on with the strange was reaching its limits.  He desperately needed the privacy to meditate and work through what was happening to him before he snapped.

“Professor McGonagall,” he said, hesitating at the door to her office.

“Yes Mister Potter?”  The Professor said.

“I was wondering, does Hogwarts have anything set up for meditation?  Some quiet space?”  Trick asked, “I, I’m not as, as calm as I seem and I need to, to work my way through this and meditation helps.”

“I’m sorry, we do not,” McGonagall replied.  “There are gardens outside and numerous empty classrooms, if you care to look for one that is suitable.”

“All right,” Trick said, “Thank you, for taking me to Diagon Alley.  It was an instructive outing.”

“You are welcome, Mister Potter.”

Trick stepped outside and oriented himself, reaching in the Force to find his way back up to the dorms, careful to avoid most of the castle’s occupants.

It worked right up until he gave the password to the door guardian to the common room and found the place that had been deserted was now filled with people, all of whom turned to stare at him as he came in, pulling his trunk behind him.  Trick gave the room a quick once over, nodded to Ron and Hermione, then continued on up to the dormitory where he could leave his trunk.

“Welcome back,” Neville said as Trick came in the room.

Trick smiled, “Thank you Neville, how’s your day gone?”

“Not bad,” Neville said.  “What did you think of Diagon Alley?”

“It was interesting,” Trick said.  He rolled his shoulders back, “I’m going to find a place to be quiet for a while.”

The dorm room door opened, and Ron appeared, “Hey Trick, want to play chess?”

Trick winced, “Not right now, thank you.  I was just explaining to Neville that I wanted to find someplace quiet.”

“Why?”  Ron asked.

“I need to meditate,” Trick said.

“What’s that?”  Ron said.

“It’s, it’s a way to think, to process and order your thoughts.  I’m about ready to scream or lose my mind, it’s all so different here.  I need quiet and this place, this many people, and they’re all curious about me.  I need to be somewhere else.”  Trick glanced at them, “I wanted to see what the outside of this place looked like.”

“Can we come too?”  Neville asked, carefully.

“Sure,” Trick said, “it might be boring, but you’re welcome to come along.”

“I think I’ll stay here,” Ron said, “no offense, but I’d rather play chess.”

“That’s all right,” Trick said, “I’m not offended.  Maybe after dinner you can teach me how to play?”

Ron grinned, “Sure, I’d like that.”

Hermione ended up following them when they came back through the common room, carrying a book with her.  “Where are you going?”  She asked as they headed for the stairway down.

“Outside,” Trick said, “Professor McGonagall said it was all right.”

“Oh,” Hermione said.

“You can come too,” Neville offered.

“As long as you can be quiet,” Trick added.  They were midway down the stairs when there was a jolt and then the staircase moved.  “Ah kriff, forgot about that.”

“What does that mean?” Hermione asked, “Kriff?”

“Uh, it’s a swear,” Trick said.  “Just, a very rude word.  I shouldn’t have said that.”  He braced as the stairway stopped, “My buir was a soldier, and so was his brothers.  I picked up a lot of language I probably shouldn’t have, growing up with them.”  They stepped onto the landing and Trick frowned, “Now how do we get down?  Should we wait for the stairs to move?”

There was a sudden growling bark, and then a door slammed, and two people came hurling out of the corridor, resolving into the Weasley Twins as they saw the trio.

“You don’t want to go that way,” Fred said, his face pale with fright.

“Definitely not,” George agreed.

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Trick said.

“That’s the forbidden corridor,” Hermione said, “you’re going to get in trouble.”

“No worries,” Fred said as color came back to his face.

“What are you up to?”  George asked.

“Trying to get out on the grounds,” Trick said.

“Ah, we know a short cut,” Fred said, “come on, this way.”

Trick sensed mischief, but not deception, so he followed, with Neville and Hermione on his heels.  The trip wasn’t short exactly, but the twins did show them a secret passage with a trick step they had to jump.

Out on the grounds, they wandered over to the lake and Trick turned back to study the building.  It was majestic, an old fortress with high stone walls and towers.

“It’s wonderful,” Hermione said quietly.

“Sometimes age means beauty,” Trick said as he settled in the shade of a large tree.  “I’m going to be meditating, but don’t be surprised if I start floating.  I’m not intending to do a rising meditation, but sometimes what one intends to happen and what actually happen end up being the exact opposite of each other.”

Hermione sniffed, “It’s not possible to float while meditating.  That’s a scam.  I read all about it.”

“Well, floating isn’t the point,” Trick replied, “the meditation is the point.  Either of you want to try it?”

“I will,” Neville said.

“Okay,” Trick said, “the first thing to remember is that you have to be relaxed, but not indulgent.  You want your body to be able to relax without thinking about it.  You’re going to be focusing on your breathing.  Just in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Don’t be surprised if it’s a struggle at first, you’ve never done this before, and you haven’t learned how.  It’s like anything else, you start small.  All you’re going to try to do right now is sit still and breathe, count your breaths by groups of ten until you get to a hundred.  If you lose count, start over.  Sound easy?”

“Yes,” Neville said as he sat down, “I can do that.”

“Eventually, you’ll be able to do different types of breathing, and you’ll have directed thought processes, but that takes time.  If you like, we’ll build up to it,” Trick said.

“Okay,” Neville said.

Trick turned to Hermione, “You’re welcome to join us, to read your book, or leave, but please don’t try to distract us, not unless it looks like we’ll miss the meal.”

“Okay,” Hermione said as she sat down.

Trick watched as they both closed their eyes and began to breathe, then he adjusted his seat and began the process of opening himself to the Force and sinking deeply into his mind.

It wasn’t long before the Force reacted, filling his mind with a vision of the forests near his home.  The person waiting for him was a surprise.

“Master Vos?”  Trick asked as he approached.

The Kiffar Master had a blue aura around him and as he turned, Trick realized he could almost see the trees behind him through his body.

“Trick, after so long, you can call me Quin if you want,” Master Vos said.

“I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” Trick said carefully.

“Maybe not,” Quin said with a sad smile.  “So, awkward questions you don’t want to ask, I am glowing and transparent because, because the mission I was on went bad.  Vader set a trap for us.”

Trick swallowed; he knew what that meant.

“Misha survived,” Quin continued, “and Sophie.  She’ll finish his training.  So don’t you worry about me.  I always said I’d have no regrets when I ended up here.  Not for how I died, anyways.  Saving Aayla, well, that’s a different hyperspace jump.  I’m here about you.  First of all, there was a little warning that Foxxe was going to have her oh so brilliant idea, so you’re forgiven for going along with it.  Your buir said that next time he reserves the right to kick your ass from home to Hoth and back.  Second, we know you’re here until you’ve completed whatever prophecy, destiny shit is going down.  We don’t know what it is, we just know it exists.  After that, well, Kara’s pretty sure you get to come home, but she’s not sure on the details.”

“I’ll take it,” Trick said, “although this destiny shit’s going to take a while to sort out.”

“Figured as much.  You already know that’s where you came from,” Quin said.

“Yeah, they did some sort of weird genetics test.  Listed ancestors back ad nauseum.  My name is Harry James Potter here, son of Lily and James Potter.  I’m also famous, it’s hilarious,” Trick grinned at the other Jedi.

“Well, fifth, feel free to consider this your trial, by the way.  Not exactly the way the Council planned but the Force wills, right?”

“Can I call myself a Knight?”  Trick asked.

Quin snorted, “I’d give it a few years, you’re tiny.”

“Yeah, I know, shut up,” Trick shook his head.  “They’re not bad, you know.  I mean, the kids in my year.  There’s a bully, but that’s kind of the rule, and I think I can handle this.  If you can get a message back, tell Buir I love him, and I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I will, Trick,” Quin said.

The vision faded and shortly after the world faded back in.

Hermione was sprawled on some nearby grass, reading her book while Neville appeared to be napping. 

“How long until dinner?” Trick asked as he began the process of loosening his muscles.

Hermione shrieked, making Neville jerk up right, blinking rapidly.

“Harry!”  Hermione said.

“Sorry Hermione,” Trick said, trying to fight a smile.

“It’s almost supper,” Hermione said, closing her book, “We should get back.”

Chapter Text

Trick could not, in fact handle this.

It took a single class for him to realize that hiding his reading and writing difficulties was impossible.  While Herbology was plant care, and that Trick had some familiar with, when Professor Sprout mentioned that they would have a chapter to read for homework that he was probably in trouble.

Then came history, where Ron and Hermione both were distracted by Trick’s careful use of his quill, or rather the use he was putting it for.

“What’s that?”  Ron asked softly.

“Notes,” Trick replied just as softly.

“What kind of writing is that?”  Ron leaned over, catching Hermione’s attention.

“Mine,” Trick said, he tilted his head a little, “I’m just not used to writing with a feather, this is incredibly messy.”

“Mate, that’s not English,” Ron said.

Haar’chak,”  Trick muttered, “I knew it looked funny.  Thanks for pointing that out, mate.”

“Harry, really,” Hermione added.

Trick sighed, “So, Hermione, can you and I have a private conversation after class?”

“Sure,” Hermione said with a quick smile.

After sending Ron and Neville off to lunch Trick led Hermione into an empty classroom.  Trick put is bag on a desk at the front of the room as Hermione looked around and dug out a notebook.

“Hermione, do you remember the warning on the doors at Gringotts?  Begins something like, Enter stranger, but take heed?”

“Yes,” Hermione said.

“So, I read that too.  It’s practically engraved in my mind,” Trick said, “but when I write it down, this is what it would look like,” he handed over the notebook, opened to the right page.

“Harry, what is this?”  Hermione asked as she took it from him.

“It’s called Aurebesh, it’s the writing system I grew up with,” Trick said.  “When I woke up in the Great Hall, I knew how to speak English, but unless I had a vocabulary before my parents died, I’ve never spoken English that I can remember.”  He took a deep breath, “If you can understand what I’m saying now, tell me I’m an idiot.”

Hermione stared at him, “I didn’t understand that.”

“That’s Basic,” Trick replied, “unless I really pay attention, it sounds just like English to me, except for some specific concepts that don’t translate.”

“Like buir?”  Hermione asked.

“No, that’s a different language from Basic,” Trick said, “but you see what the problem is here, right?  I can speak English, but I can’t read the language.”

“Have you told anyone?”  Hermione asked.

“Just you,” Trick replied.  “I’m not sure how understanding they’re going to be.”

“We need to talk to Professor McGonagall,” Hermione said, “I’m happy to help you, Harry, but I can’t teach you to read over lunch!”

“Maybe you can’t, Hermione, but I can’t let people know about this,” Trick said, “I don’t really get why Harry Potter is such a big deal.  Up until I landed in the Great Hall, I was just, just me, just Trick.  I mean, yeah I was special in what I was learning there, but I was one among many, and the people who got the attention, that was Foxxe or Misha, or Faith and Mercy, or Sam and James.  Not me.  But what I know is this.  People need heroes and saviors.  They need people on pedestals and examples, and that’s who Harry Potter is for them.  Trick’s a guy who’s never heard of English before he showed up, but Harry Potter has to know it already.  I’m not asking you to cheat, I’m asking you to help me find accessibility tools until I can correct this problem.”

“What are you thinking?”  Hermione asked.

“Well, the overall problem is the amount of writing going on here.  I can take notes in Aurebesh, even if they comment, it’s my native written language, when I need to be fast that’s what I default to.”  Trick pauses, “But I need to be able to write in English for the essays.  Back home, I’d just use a speech-to-text program.  I broke both arms in an accident a few years back, I have experience.”

“We can get a dictaquill,” Hermione said quickly, “they do that.  The problem is that the charms only last so long.”

“Well, I’ll learn to write English at the same time, this is just a stop gap,” Trick said.  “The other half is reading; I can’t expect you and Neville to read things out loud all the time.”

“Not Ron?”  Hermione said, she paused and waved her hand, “He’d do it but not the way me or Neville would, right?”

“Close enough,” Trick said.

“I’ll check the Hogwarts library, maybe there’s a text-to-speech charm, for blind people,” Hermione said.

“If we can’t make headway on this in a few weeks, then we’ll talk to Professor McGonagall,” Trick offered.

“Thanks,” Hermione said.

The dictaquill arrived on Thursday, the same day Hermione found the text-to-speech charm, right in time for Friday’s potions lesson.

The moment Snape said, “Ah yes, Harry Potter, our new celebrity.”  Trick knew there was going to be trouble.  Not just the professor’s unprofessional attitude, but Ron’s quick, protective anger in response.

“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,” Professor Snape announced, “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. . . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”

Trick was reluctantly impressed, it was a tantalizing promise, those words.  It drew you in and held you until the end.  In some, like Hermione, it inspired you to display the academic prowess the Potions Master seemed to demand.

“Potter!”

Trick straightened up, his face cool and neutral.

“What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

“A powerful, highly useful potion?”  Trick offered, “I’m not sure, Professor.”

“Clearly fame isn’t everything,” Snape said, “Let’s try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”

“I would assume in the potions cabinet, but as to it’s natural source, I don’t know Professor,” Trick said.

“Thought you wouldn’t open a book before coming, eh, Potter?”

Trick laid his hands in his lap, squared his shoulders and met the Professor’s eyes squarely, “I apologize Professor, I was not informed that there was a pre-term reading assignment.  I willingly admit to my ignorance of the subject and submit myself to your judgement with the promise that I will make all effort to rectify the situation in the future.”

“What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

Trick kept his emotions steady, his face blank, “Professor, I have admitted my ignorance of the subject, perhaps another would find this quiz more rewarding.  Ms. Granger seems to be knowledgeable, as does Mister Malfoy.”

“Three points for your cheek,” Professor Snape said, then turned to the class at large, answering his own questions as he stalked away.

Trick glanced at Ron, who looked like he couldn’t quite believe Trick had done that.  “Cheek,” Trick muttered.

“The instructions are on the board,” Snape announced, “begin.”

“Partner potions,” Ron said.

“Why don’t you get the ingredients,” Trick said, “I’ll set up my cauldron.”

“Sure,” Ron said, glancing at the board.

Trick had let Ron in on his reading difficulties after Ron had attempted to teach him how to play chess.  The fact that the game’s directions were given in the alphabet use to express the written language, it was a useful teaching tool in that it allowed him to associate the letters with something visual.

Secondarily, it mean that Ron had to read each line of the potion for Trick before they worked on it, which made them less likely to experience mishaps.

Unlike Neville and Seamus.

“Idiot boy!”  Snape snapped as he vanished the potion.

Trick pressed his lips together, wondering who had allowed this man to become a teacher, his antagonistic attitude had been one thing, but the sheer unprofessionalism now shown.  He was reminded of Misha’s failed school year on Javor, and the fact that three teachers had been fired for their unprofessional behavior.  What kind of place was Hogwarts that this was judged acceptable?

“Potter,” Snape snapped, “why didn’t you tell him to not add the quills?  Did you think he incompetence would make you look better?”

Trick stepped off his stool, again meeting Snape’s eyes as he settled himself, feet shoulder width apart and hands crossed behind his back, “My apologies Professor.  I was under the impression that I was to be aware of my own work, not the work of my peers.  Given that this is clearly such a volatile subject, wouldn’t it be the role of the teacher to ensure such accidents did not occur by ensuring that all of the students were well grounded in the creation of the potion and lab safety before brewing the potion?”

“Detention,” Snape said.

“At your convenience,” Trick said with a quick bow.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, he thought, but it’s pretty close.

Chapter Text

Trick found the door to the Potions classroom open when he approached it, when he stuck his head in, Professor Snape was sitting at his desk, looking at a scroll of parchment. 

“Good evening, Professor Snape.”

“Mister Potter,” Professor Snape said, “tonight you will disembowel those horned toads.  When you have finished the container, you may leave.”

“Okay, uh, how?”  Trick asked.

“How?”  Professor Snape said.

“How do you disembowel horned toads,”  Trick said, “I’ve never done that before.  Sir.”

“I am sure you have used a knife before,” Professor Snape said.

“I know how to kill someone with a knife,” Trick offered, “and I’m pretty sure I can use a scalpel to slit someone’s throat if I had to, but that doesn’t mean I know how to disembowel something.”  He paused, “I’m not even sure what that even means.”

“Potter, surely you have some knowledge,” Professor Snape began.

“Sir, I fell out of the ceiling a week ago,” Trick said pointed.

Professor Snape stood, “Come here Potter, and allow me to demonstrate.”

“Oh, you’re actually going to teach something?”  Trick said, and winced slightly, because he had not meant to go that hard on it.

“Mister Potter, if don’t you wish to lose more points, I suggest you find some respect.”  Snape said.

Something in him snapped, probably that tiny voice that sounded like his dad reminding him to keep his temper in mind.  “I’ll start looking for some sir, but it might take a while.”

/././././.\.\.\.\.\

“Harry,” Hermione said, “how was detention?”

Trick smiled, “It was a lot of fun.  I learned how to disembowel things, and next week, Professor Snape said he’d teach me how to chop flobberworms and pickle slugs.”

“Next, Harry, another detention?”  Hermione said, disappointed.

“All week,” Trick replied with a cackle, “He really doesn’t appreciate my sense of humor.  But he only took fifteen points, so I’ll take that as a win.”

“Honestly Harry, think of how that’s going to look on your record, a week of detentions one week into your first term at Hogwarts,” Hermione said.

“Trust me, Hermione, by the time I graduate Hogwarts, there’s going to be a lot more on my record than a week of detentions,” Trick said and frowned at the chill that slid down his spin.  He didn’t need a premonition now.  “On the other hand, homework!  Don’t I have some homework to do?”

“Well,” Hermione said, “which kind of homework, because I found that charm, but you also said you wanted to practice for yourself.”

“Teach me the charm first,” Trick said, “that way I can get the Herbology reading caught up, and tomorrow we’ll start the rest of it.”

“All right,” Hermione said, “but Harry, you need to keep out of trouble.  If you’re in detention with Snape, when will you do your homework?”

“I’ll do my best,” Trick replied.  “It’ll be easier when he actually starts teaching us.”

“Harry, show some respect,” Hermione said.

“Why?”  Trick asked, “Respect is earned, Hermione, it’s not automatic.  I admire his accomplishments, you said he was the youngest Potions Master in the UK, but admiration is not respect.  When he earns my respect, then I will show respect.  In the meantime, I will endeavor for diplomacy.”

Hermione frowned at him a moment and then pulled her wand out, “This is the spell to allow you to hear the spoken word,” she said.

Trick shifted closer and focused, pulling his own wand out to follow her movements.

Of course, trying to hear his textbook in the common room was nearly impossible, so once he had the charm down, he bid his friend goodnight and headed up to the dorm to spend some time hearing about Herbology.

Ron followed him up, showing up just as Trick was finishing changing into his sleep things, the Herbology book on his bed and reading aloud.

“What’s that?”  Ron asked.

Trick glanced up at him, and smiled, “It’s a text-to-speech spell Hermione helped me find.  I can’t use it in class, of course, but I can listen to during homework.  We had something similar back home, I used to use it to play history books while I did things like clean my room or work on other things.  I’d need to practice, but I bet this would be a way to do something like play chess and get homework done if all it is, is reading a chapter.”

“Why would you do that?”  Ron asked.

“Because I learn some things better by hearing them,” Trick said, “auditory learning style.  I’m sorry if it bothers you, I’ll find somewhere else to work tomorrow.”

“No, I think it’s brilliant,” Ron said, “I don’t much like reading either.”

“Oh I don’t mind reading, I just don’t always have time,” Trick replied.  “Want to learn the charm?”

“Why don’t you do it?”  Ron said.

“Because then you can do the spell whenever you want instead of depending on someone else,” Trick suggested.  “Surely you don’t want to go through your life dependent on everyone doing things for you?”

Ron hesitated.

“You told me you had six brothers, all talented and filled with promise,” Trick said carefully.  “You said that there wasn’t any way to be special because ‘they already did it’.  Now you can take that attitude and you’ll never be anything special, just another Weasley.  Or you can get your wand and learn this spell.  Because being more than just another Weasley starts with one spell.”

Ron got his wand and held it up, “All right Trick, teach me.”

/././././././.\.\.\.\.\.\.\.\

Keeping his literacy issues a secret lasted longer than Trick expected.  Although if he’d been betting, he probably wouldn’t have picked Flitwick to be the one who figured it out.

“Mister Potter,” Flitwick called at the end of class, “a moment please?”

“Yes Professor?”  Trick asked as he waved off Hermione, Neville and Ron.

Flitwick held up his essay, “This is an interesting essay, Mister Potter.”

“Is that a good thing?”  Trick asked carefully.

“Well, it’s your handwriting,” Flitwick said.  “It’s a lot neater than I’ve seen you be here in class.”

Trick winced slightly, “Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.”  He knew exactly where this was going, and he’d promised Hermione from the beginning that when this happened, he’d tell the truth.  Nothing they’d done was against the rules, something that Hermione had confirmed while looking up what he needed to know.

“Would you care to explain, Mister Potter?  Who wrote this essay?”

“Me,” Trick said,  he reached into his bag for a moment before retrieving the vibrant blue quill, “I use this.”

“A dictaquill?”  Flitwick eyed him a moment.

“Hermione said it wasn’t against the rules,” Trick said, “and it means that my essays can be read.”

“Care to try again?”  Flitwick said after a moment.

“That’s actually the truth,” Trick said, “from a certain point of view.”  He dug his charms notebook out of his bag and flipped it open, “Considering this is the rough draft.”  He slid the Aurebesh covered pages over to the Professor.

Flitwick studied the notebook, then looked at him for a long moment.

“So,” Trick said, “English isn’t a language I actually know.  When I landed in the Great Hall, the spoken language was in my brain, but the written language wasn’t.  I’m learning, but it takes time, so Hermione and I found ways to make up for it until I can do it on my own.”

“I see,” Flitwick said, “why not tell your teachers?”

“Because I didn’t think my peers needed any more ammunition,” Trick said.  “I know nothing of magic, nothing of the culture they grew up in.  And everyone knows my name.  Explaining it one on one like this, it’s easy to explain that I just don’t read this language.  The way rumor works, people will start saying I can’t read at all.”  He shifted slightly, putting his notebook away.  “Like I said, I’m learning.  Hermione’s teaching me to read, Ron’s helping me with spells, and Neville and I are figuring out the culture thing together, since he knows the most.”

“I understand, Mister Potter,” Flitwick said finally, “I will speak with Professor McGonagall about this, however, as your Head of House, she needs to be aware of this.”

Trick bowed, “I understand, Professor.  It’s not what I want, but if you feel that is the best past, I submit myself to your wisdom.”

“Now go on, Mister Potter, I’m sure you have plenty to do today.”  Flitwick said.

Trick gripped his bag and hurried from the classroom, finding his friends waiting outside to ensure there were no eavesdroppers.

“Now what?”  Ron asked carefully.

“Now we wait,” Trick replied.  He straightened up slightly, “Now, who wants to do some more meditation before lunch?”

Ron was the only one who seemed about to object, but then he caught Trick’s eye and he nodded with a sigh.  They headed out to one of the courtyards they’d found, one that was usually left empty and tended to be sheltered from the sun in some part of it.

Trick’s speech about being different from his brothers had taken time to settle in, but Trick had hope that Ron would find the place he needed to plant his feet.  The first step to any maneuver was having a firm foundation, after all.

Chapter Text

Flying lessons almost ruined the work Trick was putting into helping his new friends.

Within an hour of reading the notice, Neville was quietly panicking, Ron had gone sports-crazy even more than usual, and Hermione had marched into the library with a level of determination far better suited to conquering a planet.

Trick took a deep breath and set about doing damage control.  For Neville, that meant thirty minutes of breathing exercises before hauling him down to the greenhouses to work with Professor Sprout until dinner.  The professor had been happy to distract Neville with some new plants in need of repotting, leaving Trick for his next goal.

Hermione.

For her, his first step was to check with Madame Pince about the ideal book for Hermione’s need and seeing to it she checked it out.  Then Trick hauled her out of the library, highly tempted by the thought of a mind trick, but already knowing Hermione was far too strong willed for it to hold.  Instead, he set her to reading over his potions essay to ensure the dictaquill hadn’t made any errors while transcribing his words.  With her distracted for a short while, Trick turned to his last project, Ron, and by some extent, Seamus Finnegan.

For that one, Trick got outside help.  The Weasley twins, who hadn’t yet figured out that he could automatically tell them, were quite intrigued by the idea of telling the real version of Ron’s hang glider story and scoffing at Seamus’s own tales.

With his three friends, and Seamus, suitably distracted, especially given that the Twins helped him draft the three Gryffindor Chasers into settling Hermione’s nerves for the class once she’d finished checking his potions essay. 

Neville’s nerves had been settled by Professor Sprout, and he had seemingly gone to sleep without a single worry.  But the next morning, with the talk of flying surrounding them over breakfast, his composure was beginning to crack.

Then a package from his grandmother arrived.

“It’s a Rememberall,” Neville told Trick, showing him the glass ball and it’s captured white cloud.  “It turns red when you’ve forgotten something.”  The cloud turned red as if on cue.

“And that helps?”  Trick asked.

“Not really, I don’t know what I’ve forgotten,” Neville said.

Trick eyed his friend for a moment, “Your robes?”

Neville glanced down and started to groan, but a pale hand darted over his shoulder and snatched the ball.

“Look at what Neville’s got,” Malfoy declared.

Trick twisted to look at the blonde, “Copaani mirshmure'cye, vod?”

“What?”  Malfoy said, distracted.

Trick reclaimed the Rememberall and passed it to Neville with a smirk.

“What barbarian tongue was that?”  Malfoy demanded.

“What seems to be the problem here?”  Professor McGonagall demanded.

“Malfoy was never taught to look with his eyes, not with his hands, but it’s settled,” Trick said cheerfully.

“I want to know what you said to me,” Malfoy said.

“I believe it was ‘Copaani mirshmure'cye, vod?’” Trick replied.

“What does it mean in English?”  Malfoy demanded, stamping his foot.

“Yes, please translate Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall said, crossing her arms.

Trick shrugged, “It means, ‘are you looking for a smack in the face, mate?’  It was more for the distraction while I reclaimed Neville’s property than an actual threat.  If I wanted that, I’d have spoken a language he understood.”

“Ten points from Gryffindor, Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall said, “for speaking in a threatening manner even if you were not intending it to be a threat.  Mister Malfoy, return to your meal.”

“Yes Professor,” Malfoy said and vanished.

Trick watched the Professor walk away with a satisfied smile.

“Thanks, Trick,” Neville said softly.

“No problem, Neville,” Trick said.  “Doing the right thing is easy, even if the right thing isn’t easy to do.”

Neville blinked a few times and Trick laughed, “Give it a while to sink in, Nev.  It took me months to get it.  I think I accepted ‘there is no try, do or do not’ before I got that one.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Hermione said.

“It actually does,” Trick said, “it’s like with a broom.  Either you’re going to fly, or you’re not.  Trying to fly is just going to set you up for failure.”

Hermione frowned a bit, “I’ll think on that.”

Ron bumped Trick’s shoulder, “Got one for me to think about?”

Trick considered, “How about, ‘skill is the child of patience.’”  He glanced down the table, “Excuse me, I have something to do before class.”

He hurried down the table to where Fred and George were standing up, “Harrikens!”  Fred said gleefully.

“Gentlemen,” Trick said, “I was wondering if you would make time later for a conversation.  It relates to your other extracurricular activities.”

“Sure,” George said after a silent conversation with his twins.

Trick took a deep breath, and turned away, eyes scanning the high table on some instinct.  For a moment, his eyes connected with Professor Quirrell.  Cold slid down his spine and something skimmed the edge of his shields.  Trick nodded to the professor and turned away, keeping his steps even as he hurried out of the hall.

Every time he started learning a spell, or meditated on magic, he felt as if he was pushing something inside of him.  It felt like wet sand, or wet clay, moldable, but ultimately solid.  After a few attempts, that feeling slowly faded, as if whatever it was had been reshaped into what it was meant to be or needed to be.  In Defense this week, he’d felt a few hints of a premonition, but nothing had been as clear as that moment in the Hall.  Whatever else Quirrell was, he was a danger.

Trick carefully took his wand in hand, thumb rubbing the grip gently in a mimic of the comfort he derived from doing the same with his lightsaber.  Then he shook his head, refastened his wand and headed upstairs.  This was not a day to spend lost in daydreams.

/././././.\.\.\.\.\

“Did you see the look on his face?”  Malfoy sneered while his sycophants laughed.

“Hermione,” Trick murmured, “sit on Ron if you have to.”  The last thing they needed was a brawl in the middle of the lawn.  “Have you ever broken a bone, Malfoy?”  He asked, his voice just loud enough to carry.

“Do what?”  Malfoy said.

“Have you ever broken a bone?”  Trick said.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”  Malfoy demanded.

“When you’ve broken a bone, then you can laugh at Neville for being in pain,” Trick said, “until then, keep your mouth shut.”

Malfoy sneered, “Figures you’d stand up for a squib like that.”

Trick almost asked what a squib was but was distracted by the sight of the weedy boy called Nott darting forward and coming up with a familiar glass ball.

“Look what Longbottom dropped!”

Trick held out his hand, “Thanks for finding it, I’ll see that Neville gets it back.”

Nott laughed, “Who said I’d give it to you.”  He tossed it to Malfoy.

“I wasn’t asking,” Trick said, twitching his fingers in preparation for calling the ball to him.  Something made him hesitate, the sense that something unfriendly was watching.

“I think I’ll leave it for Longbottom to find,” Malfoy declared, mounting his broom and taking off.

Trick was trapped, instinct and training and common sense warring, and finally he made a choice and turned to Hermione, “Don’t yell at me, I karking well know,” he told her as he called his broom to his hand and shot up after Malfoy.  He didn’t bother with words, just shooting past the other boy close enough to make him flinch.  It had the rather nice side effect of causing him to bobble the glass ball.  Trick spun like a speed bike racer on an obstacle course and let himself fall.  Knees and a single hand kept the broom in position as he reached with a hand and the Force for his target.

The catch was easy, and he spun, fishtailing inches from his classmates as he turned height into speed, angling upward in a loop that allowed him to safely slow down and come in for a proper landing.

“Harry,” Hermione said as soon as his feet touched down, “Did you swear at me?”

“Probably,” Trick said, he held out the Rememberall, “take this, for Neville.  Someone’s coming to yell at me.”  When Hermione’s hand fell on the ball, he leaned in quickly, “Unfriendly eyes and a hero’s expectations, Hermione.  I know.”

“Harry Potter!”  Professor McGonagall all but howled, her accent thick as she cut through the crowd, “Never in my life.”

“Sorry Professor,” Trick said as he passed Ron the broom.

“Come with me, Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall ordered.

“Yes Professor,” Trick said and trotted to keep up with her.  As they entered the school, he darted a few glances at her face, taking in her customary stern expression, with the tight lips, and compared that to the fierce joy he could sense rolling off her when he eased his shielding.

They stopped outside the charms classroom and she pulled the door open, “Professor Flitwick, may I borrow Wood for a moment?”

Wood, that would have to be Oliver Wood, the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

As Trip realized McGonagall’s intentions, he wondered if the price would be worth keeping the unseen, unfriendly eyes from seeing more of him than he’d wanted.

Chapter Text

“Youngest seeker in a century,” Ron breathed.

“Yeah,” Trick said, “apparently.”

“You aren’t happy with it?”  Neville asked.

Trick sighed, “I haven’t decided yet.  I’m still not sure how I feel knowing the toughest teacher in school decided that making me a member of the Quidditch team was the appropriate response to disobeying a teacher.”

“Well,” Hermione began.

“Hermione,” Trick said, “I know.”

Hermione scoffed and slumped slightly in her seat.

“Look,” Trick said, “I’ll explain after dinner.  I’ve got a bit of time.”

“Having a last meal before they put you on the train, Potter?”

Trick smirked, “Haven’t you had your ego deflated enough today, Malfoy?”  He turned in his seat so he could put an elbow on the table and lean on it while he looked at the boy.  “I mean, you know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, and here you are trying again to act like a bully.”  He straightened up and slid off the bench, “And for the record, I’m not going anywhere.”  He paused, eyeing Malfoy’s shadows, the two boys called Crabbe and Goyle.  “Perhaps you should find a different after-dinner entertainment.  Something less detrimental to you, perhaps.”

“I can take you on at any time,” Malfoy said.

Trick couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows, because that sounded more like someone reading a script.  “You sure about that?”  He asked.

“Tonight, wizard’s duel, you and me Potter,” Malfoy snapped.

Definitely someone putting him up to it, Trick decided.

“Tell me, in a wizard’s duel, does the challenged get to pick weapons?”  Trick said.

“Wizard’s duel is wand only,” Malfoy scoffed.

“Well, that’s unsurprisingly limited,” Trick said, “I’m going to guess, you want us to meet at midnight, in the trophy room, correct?  I mean, all the best duels are hosted there.”

“Name your second, Potter,” Malfoy said.

Trick glanced at his friends, “Hermione, would you do me the honors?”  He winked at her, making sure Malfoy couldn’t see as he mouthed ‘play along, please.’

Hermione sniffed, “I should say no, it’s after curfew, but as your friend, you’d better not get me expelled.”

“Hermione will be my second,” Trick said, turning back to Malfoy, “how about you?”

“Crabbe,” Malfoy said promptly.

“Until I see you again,” Trick said, he turned to his friends, “anyone else done eating?”

“I am,” Hermione said, and Ron and Neville quickly followed.

They headed for the door and Trick paused beside Dean and Seamus, “Would you mind if I were terribly rude and asked for the dorm room until curfew?”  Trick asked, “Hermione needs to yell at me, and I’d rather have that done in moderate silence.”

“Sure Harry,” Dean said with a quick glance at Seamus.

“If you need in, just knock and all,” Trick added, “just give us warning, yeah?”

“We will,” Seamus said.

“Thank you very much,” Trick said and hurried to catch up with his friends.

Hermione managed to keep quiet until they reached the dorm room.  “Harry, you just told Malfoy you’d break curfew, for a magical duel, and you dragged me into it!”

“Nope,” Trick said grinning, “I never said I’d be there, I never even agreed to the duel itself.”

“What?”  Ron said.  Neville just looked stunned.

Trick tapped his chest, “My name is Trick, you guys.  Not just because I’m good at tricking people, which I am, but because I’m good at spotting tricks.  Hell, I pulled this trick on Sam and Jamie last year.  Malfoy expects me to be the idiot who shows up expecting a duel only to find someone else, Professor Snape or Mister Filch would be my bet.  He won’t even step foot outside his dorm tonight.”

“That slimy snake,” Ron said, instantly outraged on Trick’s behalf.

“It’s actually funny when you’re the one pulling it off,” Trick said with a shrug, “but that’s not why we’re here.”  He turned to Hermione, “Someone was watching us fly today.  Someone unfriendly.”

“How do you know?”  Neville asked.

“I’m not a seer, I don’t get visions of what’s to come, not really.  Sometimes though, sometimes I say something, and I know it’s going to happen.  Other times I become aware of future threats.  Today, on the grounds, there was someone watching, and I knew if they saw me do anything other than be the Gryffindor Golden Boy, then things would be very bad.  That’s why I took off like that, and I’m sorry for swearing.”

Hermione studied him a long moment, “You’re forgiven for swearing.  But Harry, how can you know that sort of thing?”

Trick shifted slightly and scratched his arm.  He wanted to tell them, about the Force, his family, the Jedi, for one moment he was so seized with the concept that he almost said something.  Then training and experience exerted itself. 

Someone was listening.  

Trick looked up and shook his head slightly, “It’s just something I feel.  I trust it because it’s never steered me wrong.”

The feeling of being watched increased and Trick wanted to swear, considering how many times he’d struggled with his writing in this room.

Hermione’s head was tilted, and she was watching him, Trick wished he could share the impression of being watched.

“Harry let’s go to the library,” Hermione said, “maybe what you can do is something that can be trained.  Being aware of danger could be really useful.”

Trick tried not to let his relief bleed into his voice, “Alright Hermione, let’s go.”

The sense of being watched faded as soon as they cleared the Tower and Trick sighed, “You were feeling it again,” Hermione said.

“Yeah,” Trick said.  “It’s not a feeling of being watched, it’s just, I know someone was watching.  Aren’t there spy spells and things?  And someone’s been hitting my shields too.”  At Hermione’s look, he elaborated, “I have shields around my mind to keep out intruders.  It’s like a, like a retaining wall or a dam.  It keeps my emotions and thoughts in and other people out.  There’s different strengths of shielding, of course, but I’ve always thought of this level as training level.  Keeps me in and others out, but I’m not hiding.  If you know how to look, I’m right here.”

“Can you teach me?”  Hermione asked after a moment.

“I don’t know,” Trick replied, “mine is a very specific discipline.  Maybe there’s something in the library?  They have books on everything else.”  He’d also have to see about strengthening his shielding without anyone noticing, because he’d been stupid enough to let his shielding go like that.  Just because they used magic and not the Force didn’t mean he could be that stupid.

Madam Pince did direct them to a small stack of books on occlumency, but only allowed them to check one book out each, citing the fact that they were considered highly advanced.  Trick kept from rolling his eyes only by sheer force of will as he followed Hermione back to the Tower, both of them rushing to make it before curfew.

Of course, it was their luck that the staircases decided on a last minute rearrangement, dumping them off on a third floor corridor.  When the stairs proved unwilling to move again, they silently agreed to take the corridor and find another way up.

“We’re going to break curfew,” Hermione whimpered.

“We’ll be fine,” Trick told her, “maybe we’ll lose points, but that’s not the end of the world.  We’ll make it up tomorrow.”

A cat meowed and the two of them spun, finding Mrs. Norris in the center of the hallway.

“Go,” Trick told Hermione.  She clutched her book to her chest and ran.

They made it around the corner into another corridor, but Trick could hear Filch approaching.

“Here,” Hermione whispered, pointing at a side corridor with a single door, “behind that door.”

It was locked, but Hermione proved her knowledge by casting an unlocking spell and letting them inside.

Trick leaned against the door, waiting for Filch to move away when he became aware of another presence.  He glanced up.  And up.

A creature with three heads was staring back at him.

“Kriff,” Trick muttered, carefully opening himself to the Force and reaching out to the dog.  It wasn’t easy to make the connection, the three heads were strongly linked together, but capable of independent thought and action.  The center head seemed to hold the more complex thought process, while the other two were more instinct based.  It was fascinating, something Trick hadn’t encountered before, although he knew there were multi-headed creatures back home, he’d never met one.

“Hermione, is he gone?”  Trick finally managed to asked, “Because this isn’t easy.”

Hermione whimpered and then took a deep breath before cracking the door, “It’s clear,” she managed and opened the door wide enough to leave.  Trick followed, releasing the connection to the creature as soon as they were back in the other hallway.

Trick closed his eyes and pressed the heel of his palms to his eyes for a moment as the tension throbbed through his head before releasing.

“Are you okay?”  Hermione asked softly.

“Yeah,” Trick said, “I just need some sleep, that was a lot harder than it looked.”

They hurried out of the corridor, and right into Professor Snape.  Hermione squeaked in dismay and took a step back.

“Professor,” Trick said, forcing relief into his expression and tone.  “I’m so glad we found someone.  The staircase shifted and we got lost.”

“Indeed,” Professor Snape said, glancing at the foreshortened corridor.

“I thought there might be a secret passage down there,” Trick offered, “the Weasley twins are always popping up in weird places.  Can you help us get back to the Tower, please?”

“Five points each from Gryffindor for breaking curfew,” Professor Snape said, “come with me.”

Trick flashed Hermione a grin from behind Professor Snape.  Never underestimate the powers of being tiny and cheerful for deflecting the full force of someone’s attention.

Chapter Text

If Malfoy was disappointed to see them at the Gryffindor table the next morning, he didn’t say anything.  Trick watched them long enough to notice some rather pointed looks from a pair of fifth years and thought that his earlier suspicion that Malfoy hadn’t been the originator of the duel was correct.  Especially when he realized that the Slytherin counters were down by thirty points.

Then there was the very subtle arrival of Trick’s new broomstick during breakfast, complete with ill-timed note on the matter.

“A Nimbus Two Thousand,” Ron whimpered.

“Tomorrow, you can fly on it,” Trick offered, “if you can prove you at least started on your weekend homework.”  Ron’s look of utter betrayal made Trick want to laugh.  “Seriously Ron, the more you put it off and complain, the worse marks you get on it.  Haven’t you noticed that?  And I didn’t say you had to finish it.  I said you had to start it.”

“Fine,” Ron grumbled.  Trick looked at Hermione, who gave him a faint smile back.  She hadn’t said much during breakfast, most of her attention on a book that she had pulled out of her bag once she’d gotten through the first part of her meal.

“I’m going to run this upstairs,” Trick said, holding up his mysterious package.  “It’ll keep until this evening.”

“I’ll go with you,” Ron said, eyeing the package.

They headed out, only to be accosted by Malfoy in the front entryway.  “That’s a broomstick,” Malfoy declared, “First years aren’t allowed.”

That was the sulky tone of someone who’d tried and failed to get around the rule.

“It’s not just any broomstick,” Ron bragged, “It’s a Nimbus Two Thousand.”

Malfoy sneered, “Like either of you could afford that one.”

There was a sharp cough before Professor Flitwick stepped between them, “Now boys,” he said lightly.

“Professor, Potter’s got a broomstick,” Malfoy said.

Professor Flitwick nodded, “I see it arrived on time.  What model did you receive?”

“A Nimbus Two Thousand,” Trick said, promising himself to find some way to embarrass Malfoy without getting caught.  “And it’s all because of Malfoy here that I got it.”

Then he slipped past Malfoy and his shadows to take the broom upstairs, Ron on his heels.

Malfoy didn’t say anything through potions that wasn’t directed at Professor Snape and Trick focused on following Ron’s soft spoken directions.  Trick was pleased to note that he was picking up some words on his own, ones that he saw written often enough that they were easy to recognize.

Sadly, that did not translate into a decent potion and Trick resigned himself to another barely passing grade in the class.

Then it was study time, with Trick practicing his writing while Ron started tackling his homework under Hermione’s watchful eye.  Neville was reading over some herbology book that Professor Sprout had recommended to him and was content, but Ron was slowly coming to a boiling under Hermione’s corrections.

“Hermione,” Trick said finally, before Ron could snap, “what do you think so far?”  He slid the sheet of carefully written words over to Hermione, distracting her and allowing Ron to get his equilibrium back.

“That’s very good Harry,” Hermione said finally, “Ready for another list?”

“Sure,” Trick said.  The lists were a mix of spells they used and common words they needed to write in their essays.  Learning to read and write English was slow going, but they were getting there finally.  Trick was getting better at recognizing letters and even whole words just from their exitance, although he was going to strangle whoever thought up some of these words, they were more backwards than some of the mantras attributed to former Grandmaster Yoda.

Still, literacy lessons and watching Hermione and Ron struggle over how Ron did his homework took up the time until dinner, and after that, was flying lessons.

/././././.\.\.\.\

Harry Potter was a mystery.

For Albus Dumbledore, with over a hundred years of experiencing humanity and long accustomed to understanding people, this was not a pleasant experience.

Sometimes, Harry was no more than any other eleven year old.  Maybe not as immature as some, but definitely naïve and innocent.  Then he’d say something or do something, and it was like watching a Seventh Year interact with the First Years.

Wherever Harry had been, and Albus was no closer to solving that mystery than he had been on the first of September, he had been raised with very clear morals and values.  He was nothing like Albus had expected, but he was also not as Albus had once feared.  The boy was very clearly light oriented, even if Severus and young Draco Malfoy had learned the hard way that he was no push over.

For now, however, Albus had a different reason to be thinking about Harry Potter.

He stared across the street at the two story house with it’s brass number four and tested it.  The wards had never set here, not like he’d intended.  Harry had vanished before Petunia had opened the letter that would have anchored them.  What protection Lily Potter had left Harry was long gone now, but the people within were still Harry’s only living relatives.

Glancing down at the dove grey suit he’d donned for the occasion, Albus nodded to himself and crossed the street to ring the doorbell.

Moments later, a thin, fairly unattractive woman opened the door.

“Mrs. Petunia Dursley?”  Albus said.

“We aren’t buying anything,” Mrs. Dursley said sharply.

“I am not selling,” Albus replied gently.  “My name is Albus Dumbledore, I am here about a matter that has long since been delayed, as the executor of Lily Potter’s will.”

For a moment, he thought the woman would slam the door anyways, then she stepped back.  “Come in.”

Once the door was shut, he was grudgingly led into the dining room, where they were joined by a large man that Albus assumed was Vernon Dursley.

“It’s been ten years,’ Mrs. Dursley said, “why is this happening now?”

“The primary of the will, your nephew Harry Potter, went missing the night his parents died,” Albus said as he took a seat.  “As he was alive, the wills were sealed until he could return to claim his inheritance.”

The pair exchanged a look.

“There is a bequeath from Lily to yourself, Mrs. Dursley,” Albus continued, “a single sum that today is equivalent to fifty thousand pounds at today’s exchange rate, and she left a letter.”  He took a white envelope from his robes and set it on the table.  “There is a second issue as well.”

Mrs. Dursley could barely take her eyes off the envelope, “What would that be?”

“Harry Potter,” Albus said, “as his only surviving relatives, you have the right of custody given that James and Lily’s first two choices for guardianship are unavailable.”

“And if we refuse?”  Mrs. Dursley asked after a moment, “I assume since it’s you he’s at that school of yours.”

Albus nodded, “Harry is attending Hogwarts, yes.  If you refuse, then we will seek other options for Harry’s care.”

“Then we do refuse,” Mrs. Dursley said firmly.  “When Vernon and I married, we agreed that we would live a normal life, without any of that, that sort of thing in it.”

Albus was tempted to push the matter, but without the necessity of fueling the sacrificial magic, he saw no reason to force the Dursleys, and he had a feeling that Harry wouldn’t tolerate them any more than they would tolerate him.

“Very well,” Albus said and pushed the envelope across to Mrs. Dursley.  “Thank you for your time, I’m sorry this took so long to come out.”

“Good evening, Professor Dumbledore,” Mrs. Dursley said, clasping the envelope to her chest as she showed him to the door.

All in all, that had gone better than he expected, Albus thought.  He left the home for the park at the end of the street, finding a discrete apparition point for his next journey.

At least Augusta Longbottom could be counted on for a cup of tea at the least, he thought before vanishing to Longbottom manor.

He’d owled ahead, naturally, intending on speaking with Augusta about Wizengamot business even if the Dursleys had been willing to take Harry, but now Dumbledore had a different mission entirely.

“Albus,” Augusta said as he climbed the steps to Longbottom manor.

“Augusta,” Albus said with a genial smile, “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me this evening.”

“Come in, would you like some tea?”  Augusta asked.

“I would, thank you,” Albus said.  “I know my letter spoke of Wizengamot business, but I’ve had another matter come up that I would like to speak of as well, if you have the time.”

Augusta eyed him for a long moment as the House Elf brought them tea.  “I’m an old woman, Albus Dumbledore, and amazingly enough, my schedule for the evening is remarkably clear.  Speak your mind.”

Albus smiled at her, “It’s about Harry Potter, he is a friend of your grandson.”

“I am aware,” Augusta said, “Neville does write on occasion.”

Albus nodded slightly, “I just came from speaking with Harry’s surviving family.  They have chosen to refuse custody of him, leaving Harry without a guardian or place to live outside of Hogwarts.”

“And you will not take him?”  Augusta asked.

“I cannot,” Albus replied, “I am the pro tem guardian, but this summer I’ll be tied up with the ICW.  The Child Services department will accept a shared custody agreement, they have before.”

Augusta sipped her tea, and then nodded slightly, “It will do Neville well to have a peer in the house, and as you know, our wards are highly rated by Gringotts.”

Albus nodded, “That was a consideration.  Harry and Neville have both befriended Ronald Weasley and a muggleborn named Hermione Granger.”

Augusta harrumphed, “Molly and Arthur have more children than they can afford now, they don’t have the resources to take in a fosterling.  I will foster Harry Potter.  Now, what was the Wizengamot business?”

“There is new werewolf legislation to be introduced,” Albus replied, setting aside his empty tea cup and settling down to politics.

Chapter Text

Halloween was a spectacle.

Of course, Trick wasn’t sure he understood why, but there was a lot of sweets and the decorations were intense.  Hermione kept trying to explain, although Ron and Neville argued with her about it enough that Trick decided that it wasn’t worth it.  He would wait until he was less shaky at reading and ask Madam Pence for good books to explain it.  The librarian wasn’t pleasant, but she’d helped him every time he asked, and had even shown him books that already had a reading charm on them after she’d found him charming a paragraph to copy for his essay.

Still, tonight there were apparently thirty-seven different deserts he absolutely had to try, not to mention magical candy that probably qualified as small arms in some cases.

Trick was briefly distracted with the idea of presenting his uncles with the every flavor jelly beans after he encountered grass, but realized that he probably wouldn’t survive the retribution.  There was a reason their names doubled as a warning.

“TROLL, IN THE DUNGEON!”

Trick watched the Professor run down the space between tables, propping an elbow on the table so he could rest his hand on his chin.  The man was a terrible actor, but this promised to be unique entertainment.

“Troll in the dungeon!”  The man repeated, not a single stutter in his voice.  “Thought you’d ought to know,” he added before collapsing to the ground.

Everyone started screaming and Trick glanced around in surprise.

“Hermione?”  He said as Dumbledore fired off his wand to get attention.

“Aren’t you scared?”  Ron said.

“I mean, the man’s a terrible actor, but it wasn’t that horrifying,” Trick replied, frowning.

“But it’s a troll,” Ron insisted as the Headmaster ordered them to their dormitories.

“And we have magic,” Trick said, he paused, “and Fred and George have fireworks if nothing else.”

“Who says we,” Fred said.

“Have fireworks, Harrikens?”  George added as the pair flanked Trick and Ron.

“I saw the package sticking out of your bag earlier, George,” Trick said, rolling his eyes.  “It wasn’t very subtle.  What’s a troll like?”

“Big,”  George said.

“Ugly,” Fred said.

“And smelly,” they finished together.

“So, like you two at the end of quidditch practice?”  Trick mused, “Good to know.”  He ducked as they both made a grab for him, laughing while Ron yelled as he was bumped by George.

“Really, Harry,” Hermione said, but her lips were twitching.

Their roughhousing and laughter served it’s purpose, however, the rest of the younger Gryffindors were calming down even as the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Years kept a watchful perimeter.

Trick made a quick decision, he leaned into Hermione a little, “Make sure I don’t end up looking stupid,” he muttered, “I’m going to do the thing, like with the Cerberus.”

Hermione nodded and twisted her fingers in the sleeve of his robe.

It was hard not to close his eyes as he reached out, but Trick had practiced the skill before, and it didn’t take him long to ascertain that the Troll was not in the dungeons, but as they’d already passed the third floor, it was between them and the ground.

Trick blinked a few times and gave Hermione a reassuring smile, “It’s not near us,” he said.

Hermione nodded.

They hadn’t really talked about the Cerberus, what with Hermione learning to protect her mind first, but she had seen him connect with the beast enough to keep them alive and trusted him when he promised an explanation when her mind was safely closed.

/./././.\.\.\.\

The first Saturday in November brought Quidditch to the castle.

After a week of enduring the heckles and jeers from the Slytherins, and a detention from Professor Flitwick for losing it on a couple of seventh years who had thrown his dead parents into their taunts, Trick was ready to play.

Organized sports back home were split between an occasional Limmie game played by whoever was interested and organized obstacle course runs.  The relay races were the best part, after the last one One-Shot and Foxxe had ended up dueling to settle the tie.

Neither of them had been preparation for this.

Trick watched as everyone gathered in the center of the locker room after Wood’s rather inspired speech, curious as they all cheered each other.  It reminded him a bit of the war chants his buir had taught him.

“What are you thinking?”  Katie asked, sitting beside him as they waited for Wood to call them out.

“Just wish my buir could be here to see me play,” Trick said, “He would like this, I think.”

“All right,” Wood called, “it’s time to go.”

Trick slung his broom over his shoulder and hurried after the others, holding back as the others took off on their name.  As the team’s attention was on the announcer, Lee Jordan, Trick pressed his hand to his chest and whispered fiercely, “Oya'cye, kyr'am, mare'cye, darasuum,  oya! Oya!”

On the second cry for the hunt, Trick surged forward, emerging as his name was called, and waving to the crowd the same as the rest of the team did.  Then he flew to take his position for the start.

Except for Flint fouling him early on, Trick kept out of the way.  It wasn’t his job to get involved with the heavy play, his job was to find a tiny metal ball that didn’t reflect the Force in any way.

Even as his eyes swept the field, Trick reflected on one of his buir’s favorite phrases, War is fifteen percent terror and eighty-five percent boredom.  Good to know that applies to team sports as well.

The thought had barely finished before the cold zip of danger shot down his spine and Trick began to straighten and look around.

His broom jerked.  Oh no, he thought as it shuddered.  He leaned forward, trying to steer it to the ground, but it refused to obey, throwing him sideways instead.  Trick evaluated his options, and again the sense that using the Force now would be the worst thing he could do, so instead, he flattened himself to the broom, wrapped his arms and legs around it, closed his eyes and held, keeping the Force use internal to help his body hold on as the broom did it’s best to chuck him off.

It reminded him of flying the secondary seat of a bomber, Jumper and Swoop, his primary flight teachers, had been big believers in turning down the inertial dampers to increase their awareness of the ship.  As a passenger, it had felt like he was one of the silver balls used in the gambling machines, thrown hither and yon at the whims of fate.  The broom was conceivably worse, and Trick was briefly grateful he had taken all the available pilot courses, even if Glider was a hundred times the pilot he was and another one of Foxxe’s kits.

Suddenly the broom went still, all attempts to throw him off done and Trick carefully opened his eyes.  Slowly, he straightened, ready to reiterate his mynock impression if it twitched without his command.  Finally assured the broom was in his control, Trick glanced down to see the Weasleys staring up at him, clearly ready to catch him if he’d needed it.  Trick waved them off, making the broom turn in an easy circle to prove his control.

From the way Flint was throwing the red ball, they hadn’t paused the game just yet, so Trick turned to his own task, catch the snitch.

And he spotted it.

It was nearly straight down, very close to the ground, and flitting like a demented butterfly.  No one else had noticed, clearly, and they weren’t going to understand, but after a muttered curse that no self-respecting eleven year old would know, but was highly favored for a seventeen year old, Trick twisted the broom up and over into a sheer dive, turning height into speed with the agility of a shriek-hawk tracking pray.

At the best possible moment, he swiped the Snitch into his hand before spinning the broom into a meteoric rise that killed his speed without testing the breaking spells.  As he swept through the edges of the mixed group of chasers and beaters, he held up the Snitch and looped over the group for the hell of it before landing.  The cheers were deafening as Madam Hooch blew her whistle.

Trick waved the Snitch at the crowds, letting himself grin big enough that they could see it as his team landed around him.  He caught Wood’s eye as they headed for the lockers.

“Good job,” Wood said.

“Thanks,” Trick said, “I’m going to let the teachers check my broom though.  Whatever that was, it wasn’t normal.”

“No,” Wood said.

“If it is damaged, I’ll get Professor McGonagall to escort me to Diagon Alley to get a new one direct from the shop,” Trick promised him, “I promise, Captain, we’ll get this settled.”

“All right Potter,” Wood nodded, “get showered and talk to the Professor.  There’s going to be a party in Gryffindor tonight.”

Chapter Text

“Master Vos?”  Trick called as he sunk deep into meditation.

“Still here, Trick,” Quinlan replied as the forest appeared around them.  “What seems to be the problem?  Nice game, by the way, stunning catch.”

“You saw that?”  Trick said.

“Parts of it,” Quinlan replied.

“Master, I think there’s something wrong with my connection to the Force,” Trick said, “I’m either not getting warnings, or they’re more vague than they used to be.”

Quinlan tapped his chin a moment, “How’s the magic doing?”

“It’s slow,” Trick said, “I mean, I think I figured it out, how I relate to magic, I mean.  There’s a core to it, in me.  It doesn’t really connect to anything outside of me though, it’s like a spring.  You get so much magic to use at once, but it can come back.  I’m pretty sure burn out’s possible, but nobody’s mentioned it.  Thing is, mine’s a mess and it takes me a bit to get the spells right.  It’s like I’m redirecting a creek or something.”

“Hmmm,” Quinlan said, “Well, here’s something I’ve noticed, although it may just be that I’m here, but before, back home, I never saw your magical core.  Except for your color incidents, and a few floating toy incidents, there wasn’t anything there that any of your cousins had.  Now, I can sense it, and it’s clearer now than the last time we spoke.”

Trick nodded, “Okay, so what was going on?”

“Given the state of the galaxy, I’d say your magic protected you the best way it could, by hiding.  Every Inquisitor and Sith fuck in the Empire would have been attracted to that power if they could sense it.”

“That makes sense, and now that I’m learning to use it, it has to reshape itself to be used.”

“It’s probably playing havoc on your Force senses in the process.  You’re clearly having no problems meditating.”

“Conscious use isn’t the problem, it’s the passive, the instinctive that’s been weird.  But I get it now, I’ll just have to keep working on it then.”  Trick smiled at the Master Jedi, “Thanks, Master Quinlan.”

“No problem, Padawan,” Quinlan said, “I’m glad I could help.”

“Maybe you can help with something else,” Trick said after a moment.

“Oh?”  Quinlan asked.

“Help me help an eleven year old with a temper, a solid grasp of strategy, and who is both motivated and crippled by having five older, successful brothers,” Trick said.  “I don’t think meditation’s going to work for Ron.  Not like it’s helping Neville.”

“Have you tried moving meditations?”  Quinlan asked.

“He doesn’t have a lightsaber,” Trick replied, then paused, “staff fighting.”

Quinlan grinned, “Now you’ve got it.  Try that, as an eleven year old he’ll probably be thrilled to learn to hit things.”

“I imagine so,” Trick said dryly.  “Thanks again, Master Quinlan.”

“You’re welcome,” Quinlan said.  “Good luck, Harry Potter.”

Trick came out of his meditation with Quinlan’s laugh ringing in his ears.  Neville was nearby, doing his own meditation exercises, while Hermione had her nose buried in a potions book.

“Hi,” Trick said carefully as he began to flex his muscles and prepare to stand up.  The room they’d found for the day’s meditation still held residual warmth from Hermione’s blue bell flames, but they were a long way from the summer, when meditating outside had been more than possible.

“Hello Harry,” Hermione said, glancing at him over the top of her book.

“Ron off to play chess?”  Trick asked as shifted to his knees.

“I believe so,” Hermione said.

Trick nodded, “I need to go talk with him, and probably the twins.  Would you mind staying with Neville?”

“Of course,” Hermione said.

“Thanks,” Trick said and stood and headed up to the tower.

He was just passing the fifth floor when the twins joined him on the staircase.

“Harrikens!”  Fred announced gleefully.

“Hullo Fred,” Trick replied, he nodded at George, who was eyeing him suspiciously.  “Getting into trouble, George?”

“Indubitably,” Fred said with a laugh.

Trick nodded, bracing himself as the staircase began to move, “So, I understand that in Gryffindor you’ve got a reputation for acquiring items in less than obvious ways.”

“You impugn our honor,” George declared, pressing the back of his hand to his forehead.

“Trade is very honorable,” Trick said with a slow nod.

“What sort of trade?”  Fred asked carefully.

“My half is gold,” Trick said, and with that he had them.  “I need staves, about four feet in height, leather wrapped grips.  The sports shop in Hogsmeade carries them, but they won’t owl order to the castle, it has to be face to face, with a good reason.  They’ve already accepted mine, all they need is the gold and they’ll hand them over.  I will give you the money to buy the staves, plus ten galleons each to deliver them to me.  I will double that, as in twenty galleons each, if they arrive in the same state that you received them from the store.”

“Tomorrow is Hogsmeade,” the pair of them said.

“Indeed,” Trick said, “are you in?”

They exchanged speaking looks and then both held out their hands, “We’re in.”

Trick shook both hands easily.  “I’ll give you ten each with the money to buy the staves, and ten when I get the staves and confirm their status.”

“Pleasure doing.”

“Business with.”

“You,” The pair said, trading off their speaking easily.

“And also with you,” Trick said.  “Come by later and I’ll give you the money.”  He braced as the stairs stopped and then trotted up them, leaving the twins speaking softly and excitedly to each other.

“Mister Potter!”

It still took a moment for him to remember, but the voice of Professor McGonagall had him stopping almost automatically.

“Yes Professor,” Trick said as he turned away from the corridor to the tower.

“Headmaster Dumbledore would like a word with you,” Professor McGonagall said.  “The password is ice mice.  Do you remember the way there?”

Trick considered a moment, then shook his head, “I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“Very well, I will escort you,” Professor McGonagall said.

They didn’t go back to the moving staircases, which Trick admittedly took when he wasn’t going somewhere specific just to see where he’d end up.  It was fun, although the time he’d gotten lost on the half floor between the fifth and sixth floors accessible by a door that only appears at fifteen minutes to the hour for five minutes had been hilarious.  He’d also discovered an old trophy room of sorts, which had gotten a couple of older Ravenclaws excited.

Instead, McGonagall lead him to a flight of stairs that dropped down to the sixth floor, over two corridors and then up another flight of stairs that required hopping a trick step, and then down a short hallway to a stone gargoyle.

Trick filed the memory of McGonagall casually hopping a trick step away as the gargoyle leaped aside and the stairs began to move up. 

Trick stepped on and turned, “Thanks Professor!”

“You’re welcome, Mister Potter,” Professor McGonagall replied.

Trick stepped off the stairs at the top and hurried to knock on the office door.

“Come in,” Professor Dumbledore called before Trick’s hand could touch the wood the first time.

Trick opened the door and stepped in, “Good afternoon, Professor Dumbledore, you wanted to see me?”

“Good afternoon, Harry.  I did, yes.”  Professor Dumbledore gestured to the chair before his desk, “Have a seat, would you care for a lemon drop?”

“No thank you,” Trick replied, “I’m not a fan of lemon, sir, but thank you for the offer.”

“Of course,” Professor Dumbledore said, “how are you finding your classes?”

“Interesting,” Trick said as he settled himself.  “It was a challenge at first, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Hermione, Ron, and Neville have been invaluable in their assistance.”

“Indeed,” Professor Dumbledore said.  “I’ve heard mostly glowing reports.”

Trick shrugged, “Professor Snape and I are working on our relationship, it’ll improve with time, I’m sure.”

“The reason I have asked you here, Harry, is to talk about the upcoming holiday,” Professor Dumbledore said.

Trick nodded slightly, “All right.”

“I’m sure you understand that while you are here, and underage, you will require a guardian,” Professor Dumbledore said.

“I hadn’t put thought into it, sir, but I would assume as the Headmaster, that would be your position,” Trick said.  “I mean, most of us foundlings were adopted back home so some provision being made is reasonable.”

Professor Dumbledore nodded, “While here at the school, I do hold that position for all the students, in conjunction with your Head of House, but outside of school, during holidays and the summer specifically, that is not the case.”

As much as Trick wanted to know what was special about the summer, would they have individual training, or would they be split into small groups for specialized skills or academics, he just nodded.  Hermione would help him out without letting on about his ignorance.

“In your case, I initially approached your mother’s sister and your only living relatives,” Professor Dumbledore continued, “Petunia and her husband Vernon do not have magic and their children are both non-magical as well.  Lily Evans was what we call Muggleborn, a child with magic born into a family that has no magic, and sadly her magic inspired a negative reaction in her older sister and created a relationship that deteriorated rapidly as they grew older.”

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”  Trick nodded, the adage on his lips before he could think to keep silent.

Professor Dumbledore nodded slightly, “An interesting way to phrase it.  In any case, Petunia and Vernon have declined the guardianship, and have no desire to have any congress with magic at all from what I could tell.”

“Fair enough,” Trick said, “I may attempt to contact them at a later date, simply to meet my only living family, but I’ll wait then.”

“Your parents had listed their preferred guardians for you, unfortunately neither of their choices are available now.  With that in mind, I asked Madam Augusta Longbottom, who you may have heard of from Neville as she is his guardian and grandmother.  Madam Longbottom has agreed to stand as your guardian as well.  I realize that I could have asked the Weasleys as well, as you get on well with their children.”

“But the Weasleys aren’t very wealthy and they have five children at home,” Trick said with a slight nod, “Neville could use someone at home who isn’t his grandmother or his great-uncle.  Is there a difference between adoption and standing as guardian?”

“Yes,” Professor Dumbledore said, “adoption would make you a member of the family, this is more of a fosterage, where Madam Longbottom pledges to your care and will see to your everyday needs, but you are not a Longbottom.  As well, Madam Longbottom would specifically like you to come home with Neville for the Christmas holidays so that you may get to know one another before the summer comes around.”

Only the diplomatic training of his Master kept Trick from blurting out anything else that might tip the Headmaster off to the unusualness of his history.  Instead he nodded slightly, “I will speak with Neville and write Madam Longbottom a letter thanking her for the invitation.  I appreciate your efforts on my behalf, Headmaster.  Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Professor Dumbledore replied with a slight odd.  “Harry, may I ask, where have you been?”

Trick clasped his hands in his lap and shifted, squaring his shoulder and raising his chin slightly, “I was living in a concealed settlement that had little incidental contact with the outside world after being discovered hidden in a secret room in a room with two people who seemed to have died protecting me.  They were a religious group who put a great deal of emphasis on emotional control, in particular dealing with the more negative emotions.  While not wand wielding magic users, they had their own unique talents that made opening interacting with others a dangerous proposition due to the political climate in their country.  As part of our standard operating procedures, revealing the location or specifics of the settlement is forbidden due to the need for safety and so I request that you refrain from pushing for information.  They were dedicated to the light, to helping others, and to seeing to the defeat of those who chose to embrace darkness and use it to harm.”

Professor Dumbledore studied him for a long moment, then nodded slightly.  “Thank you for your time, Harry.  I’ll let you go; dinner will soon be upon us.”

“Good evening Professor,” Trick said, standing up and bowing politely, “Thank you for letting me know about my guardianship.”  He turned and left the room, already trying to decide if he should finish his earlier task with Ron or corner Hermione for another round of Holidays Celebrated in England That I Have Never Heard Of.

Chapter Text

Christmas made even less sense than Halloween, and his admission to never celebrating it had gotten him so many blank stares.  Not just from Hermione, but the entire Gryffindor table as those around them had apparently heard the word Christmas and just eavesdropped unashamedly.  Trick closed his eyes so he wouldn’t see the whispers passing over to the other tables.

Apparently, Christmas was a big deal.

“Then I look forward to experiencing a Christmas celebration,” he finally said as the hall began to quiet.  “You said there were presents?”

“Yes Harry,” Hermione said, “we give and receive presents.”

Trick nodded slightly, “All right, that’s good enough for me.  Any excuse to give presents.”

“Or receive them,” Ron said cheerfully.

Trick shrugged and stood, “On the other hand, potions.  Soonest begun is soonest done.”

With Ron grousing about potions while Neville and Hermione followed, talking about some ingredient they’d covered in their essays, Trick led the way down to the potions classroom.  They were among the last to arrive, meaning the door was already open, so setting up their supplies was easy to do.

“The potion is on the board,” Snape announced, “you may begin.”

Trick glanced at the teacher, and then at the board, quickly beginning to recopy the recipe into Aurebesh for his own notes.  He was pleased to realize that he could do so, that both reading the written English and then rewriting it into Aurebesh was possible.

“Mister Potter, what is that?”  Snape demanded.

Trick glanced at the teacher, “Notes?  I’m recopying the recipe for quick reference.”

“That is not English,” Snape said after a moment.

Trick glanced at his paper and let a look of shocked amazement dawn on his face, “Oh well, that’s amazing.  It’s almost like there’s more than one writing system in existence.”  He glanced up at the Professor and then turned to fetch the proper ingredients from the store cupboard.

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” Snape called.

Trick gave him a lazy salute before filling his hands with ingredients.

“As you brew, note how the potion reacts to what you do,” Snape announced.  “Your homework tonight will be to detail how you got your results and what you did wrong.”

Trick ducked his head for a moment, unable to fight a wolfish grin before he started crushing moonstones.

They were almost at the end of the three hour class when Snape again appeared at Trick’s elbow.

“Mister Potter,” Snape said, “5 points from Gryffindor for doodling.”

“Not doodling,” Trick replied as he finished his note and turned back to the potion, “taking notes.”  He reached for the beetle eyes and quickly measured them for the last step.

“That is not writing,” Snape began.

“Actually it is,” Trick said, “it’s difficult to use, but legitimate, nonetheless.  My buir taught me.”

The potion turned a soft heather grey and Trick stepped back, half raising his hands to prevent himself from doing something else as he counted to thirty in his head.

The potion turned a shimmering silver and Trick sighed.  The potion was done.

He turned to the scowling professor, “And for the record, yes, I deliberately took notes that way.  Mostly for the reaction.”

Hermione barely waited until they were outside the classroom before she went off, “Detention again?”

“Eh, it’s better than it was,” Trick replied with a shrug.  He glanced over his shoulder, “I look forward to the learning opportunities.  Maybe he’ll have me scrub cauldrons.”

“How is that a learning opportunity?”  Hermione asked.

“Well, if I want to be back to the common room at a reasonable time, it teaches me how to briskly and efficiently accomplish a task,” Trick replied, “also the chance to work my muscles is nice.  The lack of proper exercise facilities continues to be an annoyance.”

“It won’t be any different at the manor,” Neville told him.

Trick nodded, “I’ll adjust, but you’d think they’d be aware of the link between one’s physical status versus their mental, emotional, and spiritual well being, maybe even magical.”  It was something he’d have to ask about.

“You’re going home with Longbottom?”  Malfoy sneered from behind them.

“Kriff,” Trick muttered and turned, “Well, since actually going to see my buir is impossible, yes.  Madam Augusta Longbottom has been kind enough to open her home to me for the holiday.  I mean, not that it’s really any of your business, but I’ve given up on the hope that you’ve had any sort of manners taught to you.”

“When my father,” Malfoy began.

“He’ll be utterly disappointed in how rude the Heir is being?”  Trick cut off, “Seriously, I should just send him the letter I wrote.  I’m pretty sure you’re lying to him anyways.”

“How dare,” Malfoy began again.

“You know, I keep trying to picture what it would be like if you spent a year back home and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t last.  Master Kara would shoot you in the knee or something just to keep Master Chip from shooting you somewhere more permanent.”  Trick shook his head slightly in fake disappointment, “He’s really good at forgetting he was a soldier before he started his training, but sometimes his instinct is to shoot first, stab second and Master Kara says that’s a good thing.”

He turned and headed up the stairs, noting in amusement that Neville had solved Ron’s temper issues by dragging him away as soon as Trick had engaged the Malfoy heir.

“You’ll get yours, Potter,” Malfoy snarled.

“Probably,” Trick agreed lazily as he caught up to Hermione.

“I don’t know why you can’t just ignore him,” Hermione said.

“Because then he goes after someone else,” Trick replied, “there’s very little Malfoy could come up with that actually bothers me and it’s nice to have someone to use all those little word play games on that my teacher used on me.  Plus, it’s possible that if I keep hammering on about his behavior, he might actually change.  It’s been known to happen.”

“Or he’ll just hex you,” Neville said as Trick and Hermione caught up to them.

“Or he’ll just hex me,” Trick agreed cheerfully.  “Then he’ll get in trouble for magic in the hallway and hexing a fellow student and Snape will get that look he has when a Slytherin was stupid enough to get caught.”

“You know, that’s not a good thing,” Hermione said.

“Actually, it’s hilarious,” Trick replied.

“How do you do it?”  Ron said as they sat down at their table.

“Do what?”  Trick asked.

“Keep your temper like that,” Ron said, “it’s like nothing ever bothers you.”

Trick shrugged a little, “Well, part of it is like I was saying earlier, there are very few buttons that Malfoy can push to set me off.  Most of my triggers are associated to things Malfoy’s never even heard of.  Secondly, I was raised learning how to handle things like anger.  I get angry, but I know how to channel it properly so that it doesn’t affect the people around me.  Also, I’m a very good actor when I need to be.”

“And so modest,” Hermione muttered.

“Nah,” Trick shook his head, “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, Hermione, and what I’m capable of.  I’m not going to demean the people who spent years teaching me to be who I am today by casting it aside like yesterday’s newspaper.”

Hermione blinked, “I never thought of it like that.”

“Most people don’t,” Trick agreed, “but then we’re all a little selfish sometimes, and personal achievements are one of the easiest traps to stumble into.”

Leaving Hermione to mull that over, Trick turned to Neville, “Will your grandmother be okay with having friends over?  Not every day, given the distances I understand are involved, but maybe a gathering of just the four of us?”

Neville swallowed the bite he’d been chewing, “I don’t know.  I’ve never had friends before.  We’ll have to ask her.”

Trick nodded, “All right, I’ll put it on the list.”

“There’s a list?”  Neville said.

“Yes,” Trick said, “I want to make sure that I get the salient points down at the start of the holiday so that we can have a pleasant holiday.”  Trick still wasn’t sure he approved of the concept of having summers off.  How did you learn all the things you needed to be an adult if you stopped your education for nearly three months out of the year?  No one had really given an explanation, although Hermione has said something about there being schools that went year round, but not all of them.

Trick had filed it away with his confusion over the holidays, so different from what he’d experienced back home, and applied himself to finishing his meal.  He had homework to do if he was going to be in detention after dinner.  There wasn’t much time left until the holidays and Trick intended to have his homework done before the second day of vacation was over.

“I hope you all have a good holiday,” Ron announced the next day at breakfast as he read a letter Percy had given him.

“What’s wrong?”  Trick asked.

“My parents are going to Romania for Christmas, with Ginny,” Ron replied.  “Dad’s got to go for a work thing so they’re making a holiday of it, to see Charlie.  We’re all staying at Hogwarts.”

“I’m sorry,” Neville said, “If we’d had more time, I’d have seen if you could come with us, but we’re leaving tomorrow.”

“It’s okay,” Ron said, “I’ll survive.”

“You’ll have the dorm room to yourself,” Harry pointed out, “You can do your stave work somewhere warm.”

Ron perked up, “I could, couldn’t I?”

“Just don’t hurt anyone,” Hermione said.

Getting Hermione to accept the stave training, which she wasn’t even involved in by choice, had been as tough a negotiation as any of the exercises that Master Micah had set for him.  Getting the Quarrens and the Mon Cals to accept a cease fire after the Clone Wars had seemed far simpler than getting Hermione to understand eleven year old boys.

Chapter Text

Trick managed to get out of the last potions class of the term without a detention, if only because his mind was caught between the potion he was making and Hermione’s casual explanation about how her parents weren’t a part of the magical world.  It was hard to explain all the reasons this bothered him, both because of the history of the Jedi, especially the old Order’s practice of taking young children, even babies, with the Force, and the rumors of kidnapping that had been a part of the universal acceptance of their destruction.

Another part of him wondered if this was the fate of his Order, would they end up forcing families to break up, sending their Force sensitive children to a world that was hidden from the rest of the Galaxy and especially the government, trained to use their powers but to keep them hidden when confronting the rest of the Galaxy.

How could that be okay?

Trick was so distracted by the thoughts that while he registered being taken outside with his friends, he wasn’t really aware of it until Hermione screamed.

Trick looked up and found a large tree rolling down a hill towards him, chasing after a large black dog.  As his friends scattered, Trick reacted automatically, bracing his feet and tossing his hands up to block the tree.  It slowed as the Force rushed to respond to him, slowing it down until it stopped just short of him.

Trick stepped back, realizing that he’d done something stupid, and then let himself drop to his knees, rubbing his temple as he breathed softly, the other hand he pressed against his stomach as if he didn’t feel well.

“Harry!”  Hermione said, as something collided with Trick, knocking him into the snow.

Trick flailed, hands slapping t the black figure that was, he paused, it was sniffing him?

A wet appendage ran up the side of his head as Trick stilled and he started flailing again, until someone grabbed the dog.

“Back Fang,” an unfamiliar voice said, “You all right there?”

Trick blinked a few times, staring up at the giant man, “I’ve been worse,” he finally said and sat up, pressing his palm to his head as if the world was spinning around him.  “That was not my brightest idea.”

“Harry!”  Hermione said.

Trick carefully stood up, reaching over to scratch the dog’s ear when it whined, most of his attention on the man who towered over him.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” the man said finally.

Trick managed a smile, “Forgiven, sir.”

“I’m Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds for Hogwarts, no need to call me sir,” the man said.

“Harry,” Trick offered, “just Harry.”

“I knew you as a baby,” Hagrid offered, “I was there when, when your parents died.”

“You were?”  Trick asked, startled.

“I pulled you from the wreckage of their house,” Hagrid said, “brought you to Dumbledore to be safe.”

Trick glanced up at the castle, “Then do you know how I ended up where I did?”

Hagrid shook his head, “The last I knew, you were with your relatives, the muggles.”

“The Dursleys,” Trick said.  He shook his head slightly, “I don’t remember that.  I don’t remember anything before my buir adopted me.”  He reached out on impulse to rest his hand on Hagrid’s arm, “But thank you.  For being there.  I’m glad to know someone came.”

Hagrid nodded, “I’d invite you for tea, but I’ve got to get this tree up to the castle.  Are you staying for the holidays?”

Trick shook his head, “Augusta Longbottom, Neville’s grandmother, has accepted guardianship of me.  I’ve been invited to Longbottom Manor to meet her.”

“Then after the holiday, perhaps you’ll come to tea.”  Hagrid offered.

“I’d like that,” Trick said, “maybe with my friends too?”

“Sure,” Hagrid said.

“Harry!”  Hermione cut in as she joined them.  She looked between him and Hagrid nervously.

“This is Hermione,” Trick continued, “Hermione, this is Hagrid.  I’m fine, mostly.”

Hermione smiled at Hagrid, “Pleased to meet you sir.”

“It’s just Hagrid,” Hagrid corrected her, “and pleased to meet you as well, Hermione.”

“We should go,” Trick said, “it’s almost lunch.  See you later Hagrid.”

Hermione followed Trick away from the tree to where Neville and Ron were waiting.

“Are you two okay?”  Trick asked them.

“We’re fine,” Ron said, and Neville nodded, both of them were pale and wide eyed.  “Trick, was that, was that wandless magic?”

Trick glanced at the tree, “Sort of.  It was more what I learned back where I come from.  It’s complicated, and it’s lunch time.”  He paused, “Why didn’t you two come over?”

“Because it was important,” Neville said softly, “we could feel it.”  Ron nodded solemnly.

Trick frowned as he reconsidered the events, setting aside his acting, and realized that Ron was right.  Meeting Hagrid was important, and probably had happened much later than it should have.

“Huh,” he said finally, “interesting.”  He turned to Hermione, “So, about our discussion earlier?”

“About my parents?”  Hermione asked finally.

“Yes,” Trick said, “it’s not that they don’t have magic that bothers me.  It’s how much the Wizarding World seems to insist on separating you from them.”  He bit his lip, “I’ve seen how that sort of separation can cause problems.  Taking children from their family, making it hard if not impossible to contact them, it just paves the way to trouble.”

“But the Statute of Secrecy,” Hermione said.

Trick shook his head, “Hey, that I get, and understand it, but I think they’re putting the line in the wrong space.  I’m not saying wholesale importation here; I’m just saying that there has to be some way to allow those parents more interaction with the culture their children are adopting.  If magic here works like what I know, then once magic appears in the bloodline, it’s more and more likely to show up.  Two of my friends, Faith and Mercy, they’re siblings with abilities, but their little sibling doesn’t.  But if Xanadu were to ever have kids, then the possibility of their children having abilities is higher.”

“Their children?”  Hermione said frowning.

“Xanadu’s agender,” Trick said, “neither male nor female, they were born that way.”

“That’s not possible,” Hermione protested.

“Yes, it is,” Trick replied.  “Gender isn’t a binary, Hermione.  Not every species expresses itself as male and female.  Some of them are both, some are neither, some of them change reproductive organs at different stages of their life, to assume that humanity is somehow exempt from that factor is wrong.  We all have the right to present ourselves to the world how we choose to be.”

“He’s right,” Ron cut in, “except in terms of magical inheritance, gender isn’t important here either.”

“Then why do I have to wear a skirt?”  Hermione demanded.

“Did you ask Professor McGonagall?”  Neville asked.

Hermione stared at Neville, clearly startled, as if the thought had never occurred to her.

“Katie Bell wears trousers,” Trick pointed out, “Angelina too.  I think Alicia would, but her parents refused to buy them.  Angelina told me that it tends to be second year before girls figure out that they can wear trousers, but you have to get them properly tailored.”

Hermione was practically gaping at them for a long moment before she spun and ran back to the school.

“Library?”  Ron asked.

“Professor McGonagall,” Neville replied.

“Professor McGonagall,” Trick agreed.  He glanced at Ron, “Are you ready for the holiday?”

Ron shrugged, “With Mom and Dad taking Ginny to Romania, all I have to do is keep out of the twins’ way.  It’s a big castle, they’ll have a hard time finding me.”

“Plus, you’ll be able to do stave work in the dorms,” Trick pointed out.  “Want to do another practice run after lunch?”

“Yes please,” Ron said.

“What about you, Neville?”  Trick asked, “Want to try it out?”

“No,” Neville shook his head, “Not today.”

“Well, if you change your mind, all you have to do is let me know,” Trick said.  He considered a minute but decided to hold off on suggesting the hand to hand katas.  If Neville would try something like that, it would probably go far in helping him settle in his skin and gain confidence, but it would only work when Neville was willing to work.

Trick stuttered to a stop, then glanced at the other two, “I need to run to the library before we leave.  Don’t let me forget.”

“What’s wrong?”  Neville asked as Ron made a face at him.

“I think I figured out something,” Trick said, “but I need to confirm.  If I can’t at the library, do you think your grandmother would take us to a bookstore or two?”

“Maybe,” Neville said, “I mean, we’ll probably need to order you some dress robes for the Christmas parties.  You’ll have to talk to Gran, she’s the one who makes all the decisions.”

“I will,” Trick replied.

“Mister Potter!”  Professor McGonagall called.

“Coming,” Trick called and broke into a jog to get to the Entrance Hall, “Yes, Professor?”

“Your hosting gift for Madam Longbottom has arrived,” the professor said as she watched Trick knock the snow off his pants.

“Oh, thank you,” Trick said giving her a cheery smile, “should I get it now?”

“I would rather wait until just before you board the train,” Professor McGonagall replied, “this is not something you should parade about.”

“Absolutely,” Trick replied, nodding.  “I won’t tell anyone, Professor.  I’ll put it in my bag and keep it there until we get to the Manor and then I’ll give it to her.”

“See that you do,” Professor McGonagall replied shortly.

Trick turned to Neville as the Professor headed into the Great Hall, “Remind me to ask your gran to let Professor McGonagall know she got her hosting gift, please?  I don’t want her to think I acted improperly.”

“I’ll try,” Neville said.

“There is no try,” Trick told him, “do or do not.”

The hearty groans that answered him was like music, Trick grinned.  Mater Yoda must have found the sound equally enjoyable if the number of times he’d heard one of his teachers start the old saying only to be joined by everyone within earshot and old enough to have know the old Master.

Chapter Text

Trick had first met Master Micah when he was six years old, and it had had an impact on him.  The S’kytri Jedi had landed on the edge of the sparring circle where his buir had been showing him how to punch with a rush of wind, seemingly cool and untouchable as he regarded them.  That is until Trick had solemnly told the Jedi that his wings were amazing.

After that, he’d seen Micah showing up and observing at random times, sometimes gone for weeks on missions before showing up to join the combat master in demonstrating lightsaber techniques.  They hadn’t spoken much, although Trick had always been aware of the Jedi.

Then, when Trick was nine and considered eligible for a Master, the S’kytri had arrived within the hour to make the offer.

Buir had been suspicious of him at first, Trick remembered, but had accepted Trick’s choice willingly enough in the end.  Well, Trick suspected there had been some blaster related threats at some point, but he’d never heard them himself.

Meeting Augusta Longbottom put him in mind of that first meeting with Master Micah.  She had appeared out of the crowd dressed in a navy blue robe, carrying a red handbag that was dwarfed only by the vulture affixed to her hat.

Unfortunately Trick was sixteen, looked eleven, and at neither age could he pull off an awkwardly adorable comment as well as he’d done at six.

Neville cleared his throat as Madam Longbottom stopped before them and straightened up.  This, then, would be ceremony.

“Grandmother, may I present Harry Potter, son of House Potter,” Neville said.  “Harry, this is my grandmother, Augusta Longbottom, Dowager Regent of House Longbottom.”

Trick gave her a Jedi’s bow, “Madam Longbottom, it is an honor.”  Then he caught her extended hand and brought them to his lips easily.

“The honor is mine,” Madam Longbottom replied, her face stern, but Trick could sense some pleasure.  “I will admit to some surprise.  Headmaster Dumbledore indicated you were unaware of our ways.”

Trick bowed his head slightly, “In the place I come from, I was apprenticed to a diplomat since I was nine.  One of the areas of instruction was the basics of etiquette and deportment.  Some things are considered universal; however I freely admit to ignorance in the specifics of the magical world.”

“Well said,” Madam Longbottom said.

“Harry!”  Hermione came out of the crowd, half dragging a woman after her who was smiling indulgently.

“Hermione,” Trick replied, mimicking her tone of voice.

“Grandmother, this is Hermione Granger, one of our Housemates,” Neville added.  “Hermione, this is my grandmother, Madam Augusta Longbottom, Dowager Regent of House Longbottom.”

Hermione faltered for a moment, then railed with a smile, “Pleased to meet you, Madam Longbottom.”

“As I am to meet you,” Madam Longbottom said, “according to Professor McGonagall, you’ve been a great help to my grandson.”

Hermione blushed, “He’s helped me too, Madam.  I’m Muggleborn, and Neville’s always willing to answer my questions.”  She glanced at the woman beside her, “This is my mother, Doctor Emma Granger.  Mother, this is Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, my friends.”

“Doctor,” Madam Longbottom said, “a Muggle Healer, yes?”

Doctor Granger smiled a little, “I am, although I specialize in dentistry, that is, tooth care.”  She wrapped an arm around Hermione, “I’m pleased to meet you, Madam Longbottom.”

“And I, you,” Madam Longbottom finally said.

“Mom,” Hermione said pleadingly.

“Yes Hermione,” Doctor Granger said.  “Hermione’s written about Neville and Harry frequently, along with the other boy, Ron Weasley.  Dan, my husband and I were hoping to arrange for the kids to get together over the holiday.  Normally we’d be off to see family, but Dan and I have some work related issues come up this year and I’m afraid Hermione will be bored with nothing to do.”

“Perhaps,” Madam Longbottom replied, “while we do have our own holiday obligations, I will not rule out that something might be arranged.  I will look at my appointments and owl you, if I may?”

“I have no objection to receiving owl post,” Doctor Granger said, “but I’d need an address to reply to.  We haven’t purchased an owl.”

“I will instruct Hephaestus to await a reply,” Madam Longbottom said, “if you would ensure he had some water for his journey.”

“That will be no trouble,” Doctor Granger said, her smile back in full force.  “I’ll await your letter then.  I’m sorry, but we’ve got a long drive back home and London traffic is terrible.”

“Have a safe journey,” Madam Longbottom said.

“Bye Hermione,” Neville said.

“Bye Harry, bye Neville,” Hermione said, “happy Yule and happy Christmas.”

“K’oyacyi!”  Trick replied as Hermione followed her mother out of the station.

“What’s that one mean?”  Neville asked.

“Literally, it means ‘stay alive’,” Trick told him, “but it’s general meaning is ‘come back safely’.”

“Come along,” Madam Longbottom said.

Trick grabbed the cart with their trunks on it and pulled it as he followed Neville and Madam Longbottom to one of the fireplaces that lined one side of the station.

“Do you know how to floo, Mister Potter?”  Madam Longbottom asked.

“Unfortunately,” Trick replied.

“The address is Longbottom Manor,” Madam Longbottom said, dropping two knuts in a small jar and receiving two satchels.  “You and Neville will floo while I will apparate with the trunks.”

Trick accepted the satchel offered, “Thank you, yes Madam.”

Neville stepped into the fire first, “Longbottom Manor!”

Trick dumped the powder in his hand and stepped in, “Longbottom Manor!”

Thankfully, Neville had cleared the fireplace before Trick stumbled out, sneezing heartily.

“You’re supposed to hold your breath,” Neville told him as he handed Trick a handkerchief.

“Right,” Trick said, “I’ll remember that.”

“Come on, Gran has to come up from the apparition spot.  We’d best be in the front hall when she gets inside.”  Neville said.

“What is apparition?”  Trick asked as he followed.

“It’s using magic to vanish from one location and appearing in another,” Neville replied.  “It’s very hard to learn, and you begin studying at seventeen.  You have to have a license to apparate too, so that they know you won’t hurt yourself.”

“Huh,” Trick said.

The front hall was white, with some black accents, and a large mosaic of a heraldic device on the floor.  The only other color was a green plant located by the door and a large gold chandelier.

Trick moved to where he could study the device but was distracted by the arrival of Madam Longbottom.  “The house elves have taken the trunks to your rooms,” she announced.

“Thanks Gran,” Neville said.

Trick reached into his satchel and pulled out his hosting gift.  “Madam Longbottom,” he said as he held it out, “a gift of thank you for hosting me during this holiday season.”

“Thank you, Mister Potter,” Madam Longbottom said as she accepted it.

“Please, call me Harry,” Trick said, “and, if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind mentioning that you received the gift to Professor McGonagall?  She arranged it for me, and I’d like to reassure her that I didn’t keep it for nefarious purposes.”

“I will,” Madam Longbottom said.  “Now, both of you go wash up for tea.  We have a number of things to discuss about the holiday season.  Neville, Harry’s things are in the sunset suite.”

“Yes Gran,” Neville said, “come on Harry, I’ll show you where to go.”

The sunset suite was beautiful.  Trick actually stooped a moment to take it in.  The walls were an ombre with deep red at the ceiling to a golden yellow at the baseboards.  The molding was dark brown, matched to the furniture, while the fabrics echoed the shades in the walls.  The floor was wood, but there were rugs positioned just so about the room.  There was a desk and a bookshelf in an alcove with a couch, and two doors flanking the bedroom.

The first door proved to be a closet, and that was where Trick found his trunk, along with a worried looking creature.

“Nana is sorry,” the creature said, “Nana is to put your things away.”

“And I got the advanced security features on it,” Trick said with a gentle smile as he knelt down.  “I’m Harry Potter, who are you?”

The creature gasped and began to cry.

“Oh don’t cry,” Trick said, “what’s wrong, can I help?”

“Sorry Mister Harry Potter,” the creature sobbed, “Nana is not used to nice wizards.”

Trick frowned, “Is Madam Longbottom not nice?”

“No,” the creature replied, clearly trying to calm down.

A second creature appeared with a fiercely worried expression and a loud crack.

“I am so sorry,” Trick said, “I just, I introduced myself and she just started crying.”

The second creature leaned over and whispered in the first one’s ear and they nodded and vanished.

“Missy is sorry, Mister Harry Potter,” the second creature said, “Nana is new to the House.”

“It’s all right,” Trick said, “I mean, I didn’t offend her or something?”

“No, Mister Harry Potter.”

“Well,” Trick said, “May I ask, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve never met someone like you before.”

“Missy is a House Elf,” the creature said, “House Elves take care of wizard families and their homes.”

Trick nodded slightly, “Okay.”  A servant class, a race of beings treated as a servant class.  “Again, please pardon my ignorance, but are you paid for your work?”

Missy gasped in outrage, “Missy is a good Elf, Missy doesn’t get paid!”

“Not, not money,” Trick said, realizing his mistake, “but like, you get a place to sleep, food to eat, medical care when you need it, all of that right?”

“Oh yes,” Missy said, “Longbottom House takes care of us.”

Trick nodded, “But not all families do?”

“We is fed, and housed,” Missy said.

Trick nodded, “Okay.”  He sat back, studying Missy for a moment.  “I apologize for my ignorance and for giving offense.  I was brought up to take a very dim view of slavery and people being treated as second class citizens.  I’ve never met a House Elf before or had any knowledge of the Magical World, so I’m just trying to understand things.  Are you allowed to take time for yourself?  To mend your clothes, take up a hobby?”

“Missy is a good Elf,” Missy repeated, “good Elves don’t get clothes.”

“But,” Trick hesitated a moment, “forgive me if my word choice offended.  I mean the cloth coverings you utilize to maintain modesty and as protection against certain elements.”

“Oh,” Missy said, “we’re House Elves, we have magic, we don’t need time to mend things.”

Trick nodded slightly, “All right.  Well, I’m supposed to dress for tea.  Thank you for answering my questions, Missy.”  He moved over to his trunk and unlocked it, feeling the protections on it relax at his touch.  He set out a clean outfit, having been warned by Neville that they did dress for tea.  It wasn’t what a wizard would wear, but Trick hoped that he’d come up with something that wouldn’t offend Madam Longbottom by its existence.

Then he pulled out his old jacket, now tightly wrapped around his lightsaber and blaster.  Turning, he found Missy still watching him.

“Oh,” Trick said, “did you need something else?”

“Missy will be putting away your things, Mister Harry Potter.”  Missy said.

“Okay,” Trick said.  He put the jacket down beside the trunk and stood up, “This is something very important to me.  If I were to put it in one of the cabinets, would you let whoever tends these rooms to leave it alone?  I’ll settle it properly later, but right now I just want to make sure it’s secure.”

“Of course,” Missy replied, “Missy will make sure.”

He put the jacket away, collected his clothes and went to shower and dress.  Hopefully, Neville would be willing to answer his questions about the House Elves form a wizard’s perspective given that he’d accidently offered great insult twice in a single conversation.

Chapter Text

“Of course, Frank was highly skilled at transfiguration,” Augusta Longbottom observed to one of her cronies.  “It’s a shame that talent seems to have skipped Neville.”

Trick set his teacup down hard enough that it shattered.  As the hot tea spilled over his hand, he turned to his friend’s grandmother, “May I be excused please?”

“Go ahead,” Augusta said with an imperious nod.

Trick set his napkin on the table and left, hurrying to the nearby bathroom to run cool water over his hand.  He watched the water pour over his hand for a moment before he took a deep breath and reached for the Force, pushing some small amount of healing into his hand before it could become more than an angry red.

When he stepped out of the bathroom, he found Neville waiting for him.

“Come on,” Neville said, “Gran said we were free for the rest of the afternoon.”

“All right,” Trick said, “Want to go play chess?”

“Sure,” Neville said.

They headed up to the manor’s library, where a beautifully carved chessboard waited.  Neville was a knowledgeable player and teacher.  Trick was learning more about the game from Neville than Ron had managed.  Ron was a natural player, he understood the game, but he couldn’t really teach it.  Neville had learned the game the hard way from his grand-uncle, the man who had attempted to murder him on multiple occasions.  Trick found Neville’s ambivalence to the murder attempts disturbing, especially given that he was also willing to let the gift of a toad and chess lessons stand as a counterbalance.

It was something he desperately wanted to bring up to Neville, if not Madam Longbottom and the currently absent Algernon, but Trick bit his tongue.  Unlike his interactions with Snape, which were part of an ongoing drive to get the man to leave off terrorizing his students by focusing on someone willing to fight back, Trick didn’t have the protection he knew he had at Hogwarts.  Having an ongoing war of words with the Potions Master was not an expellable offense, especially considering that Trick did his work to the best of his ability, turned in his homework, and did not attempt to sabotage classmates in an effort to promote his own prowess.

“Are you really going to send Draco Malfoy those books?”  Neville asked suddenly.

“Madam Augusta let me send them this morning,” Trick replied with a grin.  “Knight to H3,” he added.  “Truthfully, I’m not sure she actually knew what I was sending.  But it wasn’t like I was sending him contraband or anything age inappropriate.  Madam Augusta actually recommended the one of them.”

Madam Venetia Lockhart’s Guide to Modern Manners is the authority on pureblood etiquette,” Neville agreed, “but Malfoy’s probably already got a copy of it.”

“But has he read it,” Trick countered, wincing as his knight was demolished by Neville’s castle.  He frowned at the piece, he thought it was called a castle.  “Seriously, you’d think someone who put as much weight on his status as Malfoy would remember his manners.”

“And the other one?”  Neville asked, “Check.”

Trick sat back, “I concede. Besides, it’s a first edition of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, a 1936 printing.  That’s a pretty thing to have in one’s library, and it had a lot of useful advice.”

“But it’s a Muggle book,” Neville replied.

“I guess I should admit that half the attraction is that it’s written by someone with no magic,” Trick said.  “This emphasis on disregarding literature and scientific advancement because they lack magic, I don’t know, Neville, I get a bad feeling about that, and I don’t understand it.”

There was very little fiction in Longbottom Manor.  Aside from the chess table, there was very little in the way of entertainment at all aside from some old toys that Neville had quietly admitted had once belonged to his father.  Trick was already making plans to start investigating entertainment options as soon as he got back to Hogwarts and had access to the library’s owl order section.

“Come on,” Neville said, dragging Trick out of his head, “We still need to get ready for the ministry party tonight.”

“Right,” Trick said, not quite able to smother his sarcasm, “Let’s go then.”

/./././.\.\.\.\

The Ministry’s Yule Ball was a fancy dress party that required Trick to spend far more time than he wanted shaking hand with people he cared nothing about.  He didn’t much mind the clothing, although he’d privately resolved to find a more inventive tailor than Madam Malkin for his next set.  These were properly fitted and would allow for the necessary freedom of a dance, but he wasn’t sure they’d be useful in a fight.

The other uncomfortable aspect was the actual dancing.  Trick could dance, he’d learned formal dances from Alderaan, Naboo, Chandrila, and the old Coruscant styles.  He knew several Mandalorian dances, but watching these people, he knew that watching him fumble through the patterns they followed would be entertaining, but not in a positive manner.

Instead, once released by Augusta, he followed Neville to a corner that had been claimed by the other teenagers.

“So, this is exciting,” Trick offered as they all settled down.

“I think you mean boring,” Anthony Goldstein said.

Trick tiled his head slightly to indicate he wasn’t going to argue about it.  “Having a good holiday?”  Neville asked Padma Patil.

“Well enough,” Padma replied.  “You?”

Neville glanced at Trick, “Well, it’s certainly not boring.”

Conversation was careful, as if they were unsure what to do with Trick in their midst.  Finally, he stood up, “If you will excuse me,” he said with a slight bow and headed towards the men’s room, hoping to give them a moment without feeling that they were being forced into his company.

He was washing his hands, wondering if he could justify taking even longer just to avoid the attention he was getting, when the door open and a man stumbled in.  Trick glanced up from his hands, taking in the man’s slicked back brown hair, florid face, and lack of coordination that suggested he had imbibed far too freely of the free wine.

Trick reached for a towel to dry his hands, watching the man as he stood there.

“You’re Harry bloody Potter,” the man announced finally.

“So I’ve been told,” Trick said carefully as his instincts for danger went haywire.  He did take a moment to admire how versatile the word bloody was for these people.  It would be an interesting linguistic study.

The man made an odd sound and Trick moved, but instead of dodging a punch, he found his robes caught, holding him still.

“You killed the Dark Lord,” the man hissed.

“That’s the rumor,” Trick agreed.  He had shifted, trying to think of a way out of this and mentally cursing his luck that the robes had so much available to grab them.

The man roared and his fist came flying.  Trick tried to duck, wishing the robes would just let him go.

Something shifted in the back of his mind, and he fell to the floor, leaving the robes in the man’s hands.  Trick scrambled up, ducking around the man so that he had some space to move no matter what was going to happen.  As he did, Madam Malkin’s explanation about the robes, and the charms that kept them in place, came to mind.  In wishing for his freedom, Trick had triggered the magical release, leaving him in the fitted pants, white shirt, waistcoat, and boots he’d worn underneath.  He had all the freedom he needed as he planted his hands and kicked out, aiming for the man’s knee while the man dropped the now empty robes.

The man howled, but his movements had thrown off Trick’s aim just enough that he was probably bruised but not really hampered.  Trick pushed himself up, launching himself into the man’s reach enough to punch him once in the face and a second time in the stomach as he avoided the man’s flailing.  The man charged at him and Trick tried to get out of the way, but the narrow space hampered him and he ended tumbling back, and through the restroom door into the short hallway that separated it from the ballroom.

Now, Trick reached for the Force, steadying himself even as he grabbed the front of the man’s shirt to throw him down the hallway in the first throw his buir had ever taught him.  The man half rolled and half slid down the hall as Trick braced himself for another round, even as he hoped that someone else would notice this soon.  The man was drunk, he’d remember he had a wand sooner or later and Trick was far less confident of handling himself against magic.

Nobody seemed to notice as the man got up and produced his wand.

Trick didn’t hear the words uttered, he just dodged, then raced forward, if they weren’t going to notice, then he would have to make them.  He dropped his shoulder, telegraphic an intent to go to the ground, then leaped, kicking the wall to reorient himself behind the man before landing just inside the ballroom.  As the music swelled, he realized that there was something blocking the refreshers from notice, and muffled the sound in both ways.

People were noticing him now, and after a quick glance around, Trick turned to keep his eyes on that hallway, and the drunken man within.

The man was stepping out when the Force surged, and Trick knew that whatever the man did next would be very bad.  He also knew that if he dodged, then the person directly behind him would be hit and he’d joined Augusta in congratulating the young woman on her pregnancy not half an hour ago.  Trick stood, setting his chin and balancing on his toes.

“Crucio,” the man snarled, making the crowd grasp and scream.

Trick couldn’t.

Pain ripped through him, pain receptors firing off all at once in variating levels.  It wasn’t just one pain; it was all pain.  It was being stabbed by a saber on training mode.  It was getting shot with a blaster.  It was getting way too close to an open flame.  It was the agony of oxygen deprivation.  It was the shared memory of torture devices.  It was broken bones and dislocations and burns, cuts and the lifetime of  battle training crammed into an endless second.

Then it stopped and Trick fell to his knees, dry heaving, sobbing and trying to grab hold of his sanity with everything with him.  A hand dropped to his boot, scrabbling for the knife he kept there.  He couldn’t use that spell, would never use that spell, but he could make sure that man would never use it either.

“Stupefy,” someone shouted, and Trick’s awareness of danger faded even as his fingers reached the hilt of the vibroblade.  Trick glanced up, the man was on the ground, surrounded by men and women in red robes that were cut identically and were no doubt some kind of uniform.

Trick closed his eyes and let the Force sooth him enough that he could climb to his feet, shoulders square, hands steady, chin raised.  He hurt, ached with the lingering magic, but he was unbent, unbowed, and unbroken.

Trick opened his eyes as a tall black man approached him, mentally leaning into the Force and drawing up the serenity of a Jedi Knight.

“Mister Potter,” the man said, “I am Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt.”

Trick sent a silent thanks to Hermione, Neville, and Ron for answering all of his random questions and gave the law enforcement officer a precise half-bow, “Auror Shacklebolt.”

“I am his guardian,” Augusta announced, coming behind him with Neville steps behind her.  “We need to get him to Saint Mungo's.”

“Of course,” Shacklebolt said.  “An auror will be by later to take his statement.”

“I can speak now,” Trick said, proud when his voice didn’t tremble.

“You will see the Healers first,” Augusta insisted.

“It’s not a long statement,” Trick pointed out, then nodded slightly, “but you are my guardian, Madam Longbottom.”

As he was escorted from the ballroom, Trick glanced over his shoulder, reading expressions along with Force impressions.  There was a great deal more calculation than terror now, and he had the feeling that for some of them, he’d just established himself in some inexplicable manner and he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Chapter Text

The St Mungo’s visit was enlightening.  Trick hadn’t yet been to the Hospital Wing as a patient.  He’d gone to visit when Dean had gotten the bad side of one of Seamus’s potions explosions and then Neville after he’d ‘fallen’ down some stairs, and once to clean things under Madam Pomfrey’s direction after expressing his displeasure to the Slytherins who had ‘helped’ Neville fall down the stairs.

So this was his first personal encounter with magical healing, and he wasn’t very impressed.  The Healer, named Poke, had a poor bedside manner, kept getting distracted by Trick’s scar, and asked Augusta all of his questions, despite being redirected to Trick each time.  Trick was more than ready to leave and handle his own healing, but he’d heard from both Augusta and Neville about Frank and Alice over dinner his first night at Longbottom Manor, and he knew they were both very sensitive to this particular curse.  So he put aside his annoyance, pushed back his instinct to sass the Healer, and followed the distracted and indistinct instructions to the best of his ability to get them all out of St Mungo’s as quickly as possible.

He was given some potions he had no intention of drinking without making sure he understood their purpose, and then sat down for a half hour chat with an Auror named Dawlish to discuss events.

“I was in the bathroom when that man stumbled in,” Trick began, “I was washing my hands and I noted in the mirror that he seemed to be intoxicated.”

“How so?”  Dawlish asked.

“He was unsteady on his feet, his face red, eyes bloodshot,” Trick said, “looked like a man who was going to regret his entire existence in the morning.”

“You’ve seen drunk people before,” Dawlish said.

“My adoptive father,” Trick said, “when the memories of the war he fought in rode him too hard.  When I was little, he’d send me to stay with Foxxe and her mother, but there were a few times in the past year or two when I found them that way.”

Dawlish nodded slightly, “Then what happened?”

“He identified me as Harry Potter, I agreed, and he grabbed me,” Trick said, “I thought he was trying to hit me and ducked wrong.  Then he accused me of killing a Dark Lord, which I figured was another way of saying Voldemort, so I said, ‘that’s the rumor’.”

“Why?”  Dawlish said, startled.

“He was already drunk,” Trick said, “I wanted him too angry to think clearly so when he got around to the violence, he would be off balance and I could get away.  I managed to get those charms on my robes to stop holding them on me and got away from him.”  He gave a little shrug, “That was mostly accidental, though.  I wasn’t even thinking about them, I just wanted to get the damn robe off for freedom of movement.”

“And you then fought him?”

Trick snorted, “Auror Dawlish, I’m eleven.  I’m tiny, half his muscle mass if I’m lucky.  That’s not a fight, if I’d tried it, it would have been a slaughter.  My buir taught me escape and evade, not suicide.  I punched him as a distraction, stumbled out the door by sheer dumb luck, but the only thing I did deliberately was toss him down the hall.  When he went for his wand, I got out of there, I can lift a feather and make buttons.”

“And in the ball room?”

“I was standing in front of a woman who was pregnant with her first child,” Trick said softly, “I can heal, but she could have lost her kid.  I didn’t realize what spell he was going to use until it was already cast.”

Dawlish studied him for a very long time and Trick gazed right back, serene in his assurance that however Dawlish chose to interpret that look, he knew his choice had been the only choice to make.  It was always the only choice to make.

Dawlish glanced at his notes, “Thank you for your time, Mister Potter.  You may be asked to speak at the trial, but we’ll contact you through Madam Longbottom on that note.”

“Thank you for your time as well,” Trick said as he stood.  He shook Dawlish’s hand and turned to join Augusta and Neville on the other side of the privacy spell.

“All finished?”  Augusta asked as he approached.

“Yes ma’am,” Trick replied as he took his formal robe from Neville, “can we leave now?”

“Of course,” Augusta said.

“Excellent,” Trick said.

/./././.\.\.\.\

When they got back to the manor, Trick headed upstairs to his room to shower and change.  As the hot water surrounded him, however, his control broke.  He barely managed to control the slide to the ground in the corner of the shower.  His hands shook as soon as he took them off the wall and he folded himself into the smallest ball he could manage before he screamed into his hands as the tears began to fall.

Once the tears were done, he reached again for the Force, dropping into meditation quickly, practically throwing himself out of his body and into Master Quin’s arms in moments.

Master Quin didn’t speak, perhaps understanding that in this moment there were no words that could alleviate the horror of the cruciatus.  Instead, he just held Trick.  It was just the right kind of hold, firm and tight enough that he could let himself shudder and struggle to breath.  It wasn’t Micah, with wings to shield him, or his buir and his ba’vodu surrounding him so that nothing could get to him without four blaster shots to the face, but it was enough.

“Who would make something like that?”  He finally whispered.

“Someone who thought it was needed,” Master Quin replied, “someone who wanted to supply a demand regardless of cost.”

“I don’t understand those people,” Trick said, letting Master Quin release him and steer him towards a convenient log to sit on.  “I just, how do they think that’s okay?”

“In my experience, they don’t care,” Master Quin replied.

Trick leaned against Master Quin’s side, accepting the offered comfort even if it wasn’t what he really wanted.  “At least with Inquisitors you get a red blade as a warning.  I didn’t, I just, I thought he was a drunk.  I mean, Madam Longbottom told me about that curse, the cruciatus, because it’s what they used to drive Neville’s parents crazy, but I didn’t realize.”

Master Quin hummed softly a moment, “After the Battle of Geonosis, we were all warned that Dooku could use Force Lightning.  Kenobi told me about it specifically, but I didn’t really believe it.  I mean, you heard stories about it, and all the Sith Legends, it usually came up at some point.  Even when I was training with the Shadows and they talked about it, it never really seemed real.  I could pull impressions from everything, that was real.  Kenobi saw things, the future, and that was something I could understand, even Kara Saje’s drawings.  Force Lightning?  I never really accepted it was a threat.  Not until I went undercover to get close to Dooku.  When he blasted me with it the first time, all those warnings, those stories, everything that had never really been real, it became very real, very fast.  Master Tholme told me that it was because we Jedi are good, down at our core.  We look for the good in people.  To a greater or lesser degree, we’re aware the darkness in people, but we all instinctively look for the light.  When we forget that, when we stop looking for the light, we forget what it means for us to be Jedi.”

“What about the Sith?”  Trick asked.

“Well, that’s a tricky question,” Master Quin said, “it’s one of the things that the Order has been reevaluating since the Purge.  Back in the day, we were taught that a Fallen Jedi was Fallen, unreachable, unsavable.  But there are very old histories that say otherwise.  There are those who would say I’m a heretic for saying it, but I’ve felt the Dark Side.  My aunt was a horrid bitch of the highest order.  She had my parents assassinated and made me feel it over and over by reading my mom’s necklace.  I’m not sure what she thought that would do, but I always was angry afterward.  Then, when Aayla was taken from me, well, they say I ‘brushed the Dark Side’ or got too close, but looking back, I’m pretty damn sure I Fell, at least for a while.  I know I went over the line in the War, trying to stop Dooku.  I came back, Aayla needed me, but the Dark Side, it’s seductive and dangerous, but you can beat it.  When the need to help others is greater than making them feel the anger, fear, and pain inside you, there’s a way out.”

Trick nodded a bit, filing that bit away.

“I won’t say getting one of the Sith to come back to the Light is impossible.  I did it, Ventress did it.  The problem is that it’s difficult.  Unless and until the Sith chooses to change, they’ll be driven to kill you, for being Jedi, for being of the Light, for being a representation of good things that make them hurt.  So you have to survive that, and you have to find the key, the thing that pulls them back, to feel remorse or regret.”

“I think I understand,” Trick said after a moment.

“Just, think about it,” Master Quin said.

“I will,” Trick replied.  He shuddered a little and let Master Quin give him one more hug.  “Are you going to tell them what happened?”

Master Quin nodded, “I promised, Trick.”

“Then would you tell Chaos and Mayhem to give Buir big hugs from me?  After Buir, they give the best hugs,” Trick said.

“Sure,” Master Quin said with a laugh, “I’ll make sure Master Plo passes that on.”

Trick pictured the dignified Jedi Master insisting on the hugs and laughed as well.  It was almost as good as knowing that Chaos and Mayhem would be ambush-tackle hugging his dad for weeks on his behalf.

Chapter Text

In what had to have been the most confusing series of letters, it had been settled out that while Madam Longbottom would have to represent the family at the New Year’s Eve Saint Mungo’s Charity Ball, after Trick’s experience at the Ministry, it was better for all concerned if he didn’t.  So the Grangers’ offer of a gathering of their daughter’s friends was adjusted to be on New Year’s Eve.  So Trick and Neville were flooed to the Leaky Cauldron in the early afternoon on New Year’s Eve to meet Doctor Emma Granger to go to the Granger home.

Neville was quiet, but Trick didn’t feel it was panic, more interest in the muggle world outside the vehicle’s window, so when Doctor Granger asked how their holiday had been, Trick answered.

“Well, except for that ball, it’s been fun.  Longbottom Manor is very interesting.  Weird to live somewhere with no electricity, though.”

“Are you Muggleborn?”  Doctor Granger asked.

“No,” Trick replied, “My dad’s from an old magical family and my mom was Muggleborn, but the people who raised me didn’t have magic.”  He toyed with the hem of his new coat for a moment, considering, “They lived a very isolated life, a long ways away from here, and they weren’t like anyone I’ve met yet really.”

“I’m sure we aren’t that different,” Doctor Granger said.

“I’ve never celebrated Christmas before,” Trick said, “and our New Year Festival is a weeklong event, not a couple of days at the end of a month.”  He tried for a smile when she glanced at him, “It’s fun when you’re young enough that all you have to do is play games, eat food, and observe, but last year I got wrangled into helping manage the arts and crafts for the younglings, that is, the kids under five, and I am so happy I don’t have to do that again.  There was paint in places that should never have paint on them.”

  Doctor Granger chuckled, “I know that feeling.  I used to babysit when I was a teenager, for spending money.  Some days, it was exactly like that.”

Trick shrugged, “I never minded watching the younglings when we had them all together, as long as it wasn’t arts and crafts.  My adopted father, he was a former soldier, and he and his brothers liked building obstacle courses, and I liked teaching the older younglings how to do that.”

“Sounds like it would have been fun,” Doctor Granger said.

“Words cannot express it,” Trick said, “I miss those courses.  The ongoing lack of actual physical education and exercise at Hogwarts is a continued disappointment to me.”

“You say that all the time,” Neville commented, clearly coming out of his awed surprise.

“Because it’s true,” Trick said retorted.  “The grounds, well, it’s a valley among mountains, there’s barely enough flat land for the castle.”  He paused, “They probably flattened that land to build the castle.  About the only useful long distance workout is to go up and down the stairs to the quidditch pitch, and even that’s difficult to do when it’s snowing or raining.  I like my neck unbroken.”

“Physical education is that important to you?”  Doctor Granger asked.

“I’m accustomed to it,” Trick replied, “the lack is, one more unsettling thing in a space of time where everything is unsettling.”

The rest of the ride was quiet, save for some hesitant questions from Neville about things he didn’t quite understand.  That was made up for by Hermione’s racing to tackle hug the pair of them as soon as they were out of the car.

“Hermione, jacket,” Doctor Granger said, amused.

“Sorry mum,” Hermione replied, “Dad’s not back yet.”

Doctor Granger sighed, “Well, that can’t be helped.  Let’s get inside, it’s cold out here.”

“Not as bad as Scotland,” Neville said even as he followed Hermione and Doctor Granger inside.

“Can we watch a movie while we wait for Dad?”  Hermione asked.

“Why not show your guests around first,” Doctor Granger suggested.

“Okay,” Hermione said, “come on,” she added to Trick and Neville.

Trick kept his expression neutral as Hermione showed them around the house.  It wasn’t that different from what he was used to, in that the rooms served similar purposes, but it was the technology that was different.  The lights were different, although it wasn’t a bad different, the bathroom didn’t have sonic showers, the kitchen had a stove that cooked food over an open flame, and there was no integrated computers anywhere.  Even the entertainment was different.  Hermione showed them some board games and card games she had, and puzzles, she had a lot of those.

“Are you okay?”  Hermione asked Trick.

“Fine,” Trick said, “just adjusting to the differences between my home and yours.”  He tried for a smile, “Maybe I’ll be able to show you around one day.”

“Maybe,” Hermione said, “I look forward to it.”

Then it was time for a movie, which Trick found to be less jarring in it’s differences from some of the other differences.

Neville was just quietly wonderous of the differences, flipping switches and poking at the different items Hermione pointed out.  He didn’t say much, but Trick could tell that it was more that he was adapting to the differences than any trouble.

Shortly after the movie started, Trick gave in and slipped out to the kitchen to ask for something to drink.

“Everything all right?”  Doctor Granger asked.

“Just thirsty, Doctor Granger,” Trick replied.

“Is water all right?”  Doctor Granger asked as she got out a glass.

“Sure,” Trick said.

“Any problems with the movie?”  Doctor Granger asked, “I know The Princess Bride isn’t exactly a guy’s kind of movie.”

Trick accepted the glass from her, “Honestly Doctor, it’s not staring Garik Loran and I’ll take it.”

“Who?”  Doctor Granger asked.

Trick rolled his eyes, “He’s a teen actor where I come from and uncomfortable number of young persons of the female persuasion in my circle of peers are far too fond of him.  I mean, Foxxe is sensible and not prone to that sort of thing, but some of the others,” he shook his head while Doctor Granger laughed.

“You know, you can call me Emma,” Doctor Granger said, “when Dan gets home, it’ll be confusing to call us both Doctor Granger.”

“I think I can do that,” Trick allowed.  He held up his glass, “May I take this into the living room with me?”

“Yes,” Doctor Emma said, “go on.”

Doctor Dan Granger came back just as the movie finished, bringing with him three flat boxes of what Hermione called ‘pizza’.  Trick eyed the bread covered in red sauce, cheese, and meat that he was presented with and figured that he hadn’t died eating English food yet and took a bite.

Was it a blatant act of disloyalty to wish that ‘pizza’ had been developed back home?

After eating pizza, Hermione and her mother set up another movie, something called Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but Trick took advantage of their distraction to slip out the back door.

The back yard of the Granger house was a nice size, Trick thought, although the back half of it was taken up by a swimming pool.  Closer to the house was an area covered in stone and which housed both an outdoor eating area, and a circle of chairs and benches.  Wrapped in his jacket, Trick settled onto one of the benches and took a steadying breath of the cold air.  The differences between home and here were painful, because unlike Hogwarts or the manor, they were so, so similar.  It was almost like seeing the precursors to technology that Trick had accepted as part of his life, and it made him homesick in ways that Hogwarts didn’t.

Trick closed his eyes, fighting back an urge to cry at how painfully acute his homesickness was, unwilling to make the Grangers assume that they were the problem.

The back door opened, “Harry?”

Trick turned, surprised to find Doctor Dan in the doorway.

“Here sir,” he called quietly, standing up.

“Are you all right?”  Doctor Dan asked as he closed the door and came outside.

“Just, really homesick,” Trick admitted after a moment.  “Your home is, it’s wonderful and so much like my buir’s place.  I just needed a moment to calm down.”

“It’s all right,” Doctor Dan said, “but aren’t you cold?”

Trick blinked, and shrugged, “A little, but it’s nice.  Keeps me from getting lost in my thoughts.”

“Anything in particular?”  Doctor Dan asked.

“Uh,” Trick hesitated, “Well, how much I miss home, how you have a different accent from Doctor Emma, how sometimes I forget Hermione, Ron, and Neville didn’t grow up like I did and things I expect aren’t what they expect.”

Doctor Dan chuckled, “Well, as to my accent, I am an immigrant from a small African nation.  I came here to study, met Emma, and decided to stay.”

“Oh,” Trick said, “Thanks for telling me.”

“It’s all right,” Doctor Dan said.  He moved over to side on one of the other benches, so Trick sat back down on his.  “How different was your upbringing then?”

Trick thought back to when he’d actually been eleven, and what he’d been learning, trying to pull it into a cohesive explanation without actually revealing anything big.  “There was a lot more emphasis on physical training than Ron, Hermione, or Neville ever mentioned.  They spent a lot of time teaching us how to work in teams too, chain of command, how to balance out strengths and weaknesses, strategy and tactics.”

“Chain of command?”  Doctor Dan repeated.

“Buir, I mean, my adopted father, he was a commander in the military before he adopted me.”  Trick shrugged, “I’m sure some of that was similar to how he was raised.  My teacher, Master Micah, has been trying to counterbalance that with things that will teach independent thinking and self-reliance, or so he says, but it’s really hard.  He told me that it would take time, but I don’t think this-“ Trick trailed off and took a ragged breath.

“I wouldn’t say you’re alone,” Doctor Dan said, “Hermione’s been telling us about you, Neville, and Ron, sounds to me like you’ve got some good friends there.”

Trick nodded and rubbed his eye for a moment.  “They’re not my family back home, but they’re great.  It’s just so frustrating sometimes.”

“How so?”  Doctor Dan asked.

“Ron, he’s this amazing chess player, and I think with some prodding he could apply that way of thinking to other parts of his life, but I don’t know how.  Currently, getting him to do anything usually means I have to drag out the fact that if he wants to stand out from his five brothers then this is something he can learn or do, but how long is that going to work?  It’s like he gave up on trying.  Neville, well, I’m pretty sure his great-uncle was trying to murder him as a kid, and his grandmother may love him but she sure as hell doesn’t like him very much and I don’t know how to fix it.  It’s destroyed his confidence and Snape would have finished the deal, but I’m annoying enough that he doesn’t get the chance anymore.  And Hermione,” Trick laughed, “she needs no help academically, and she’s as loyal a friend as anyone could wish, but she’s a bit inflexible too.  I’m worried that she’ll get worse, too rigid and she’ll break.”

“Seems like you’ve got a good handle on your friends,” Doctor Dan said, “although I think Hermione may surprise you.  She’s twelve, and she’s got a lot of growing to do.”

Trick nodded.  “I just, I want them to be happy, Doctor Dan.  I want them to grow up to be amazing people who do grand things, but, I don’t know how to help them.”

“What about you?”  Doctor Dan asked, “What do you want to be?”

Trick smiled, “A protector, a teacher, a bit of a diplomat, a warrior and a peacekeeper, a sword to my enemies and a shield for my friends.  Someone who can be counted on to protect those who need it, and to teach them to do the same for themselves and others.  Not a good soldier, but a good man.”

Chapter Text

Their arrival back to Hogwarts was interesting for Trick.

“Why do the carriages have harnesses if there’s nothing pulling them?”  Hermione asked as they climbed in a carriage.

“There is something in them,” Trick replied, “winged creature, four legs, omnivore given eye placement and teeth.”

“No there’s not,” Hermione said.

“Yes, yes there is,” Neville said, his hands rubbing the strap on his bag.  “Gran says they’re thestrals.”

“Thestrals?”  Hermione repeated.

“You- you can only see them if you’ve seen death,” Neville said.

“I’ve never,” Hermione began.

“We’ll look it up after dinner,” Trick cut her off, “I’m hungry.”  He couldn’t imagine a debate about invisible creatures would play well, although he really wanted to know what sort of natural evolution would bring about a thestral and what was the marker for ‘seeing death’.  Still having to explain when he’d seen death, that was probably not the best idea he’d ever had.

They entered the castle to find Ron hovering on the stairs, looking frazzled and anxious  Trick waved, catching Ron’s attention and relieving some of the anxiety in Ron’s expression as he plunged into the crowd, working his way to join them as they moved into the Great Hall.

“Are you okay?”  Trick asked softly.

“Fred and George have been having a go at Percy the whole time you were gone,” Ron replied.

“Wonderful,” Trick said, his tone as dry as Jedha.  “Other than that, how was your holiday?”

Ron perked up, “It was great, I really liked that book you got me.”

Trick smiled, “Well, I know you like the Cannons, so it seemed like the perfect choice.”  He glanced over the hall, quickly finding the white-blond hair of Malfoy, “And books were a bit of a theme.”  He added as Malfoy spotted him and began shoving his way through the crowd

“Potter!”  Malfoy shouted.

Trick sighed, “Apparently he didn’t actually read them though.”

“Potter, how dare you!”  Malfoy said as he finally came through the crowd.

“How dare I call you on your lack of manners?”  Trick guessed, “Quite easily, Malfoy.  I’ve met slaves with more dignity and manners than you’ve shown.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to enjoy my supper and I hope you do the same.”

“Potter,” Malfoy said again.

“Seriously?”  Trick said, “I was told those were good books!  Well respected, the pride of a pureblood’s library!  What’s wrong with that, I was being nice.”

“I think he found it insulting,” Neville commented, his voice mildly surprised.

“Why?  I mean, unless you already had that edition,” Trick said, “that’s a bit embarrassing.”

“The Muggle book,” Malfoy said.

“Amazing book,” Trick said, “good advice.  You should give it a chance.”

“I don’t need anything from Muggles,” Malfoy retorted.

Trick looked him up and down and turned to Neville, “So, what was that you were telling me about agriculture, Neville?”

Neville blinked, then took the cue, “Most farming is done by Muggles because wizards have other interests.  Our stores buy products from Muggle farms just like any other store.”

“Uh huh,” Trick said, “and what about cloth?”

Neville shrugged, “Never thought about it, but that’s probably Muggle too.”

Trick turned back to Malfoy and gave him a very pointed look, “Are you sure you don’t need anything from Muggles, Mister Malfoy?”

“Gentlemen,” Professor McGonagall called, “please sit down.”

“Yes Professor,” Trick said, he turned away and then turned back, “Oh, and Mister Malfoy.”

Malfoy turned back, unwillingly, “Potter.”

“Ask Mister Goldstein about what happened at the Ministry, and then think about what that could possibly mean for you,” Trick said, then turned and walked to the Gryffindor table.

“Are you sure that was wise?”  Neville asked softly.

“He’ll listen to Goldstein before either of us,” Trick replied, “and you and I both read the Prophet’s version of events.”  He glanced at across at Malfoy for a moment, “He might even be salvageable.”

Ron snorted.

Trick glared at him, “Ron!  I know you don’t like him, and to be fair, neither do I, but that doesn’t automatically make him beyond saving.  I’m not asking you to swear a brotherhood oath with him, but he’s eleven and he deserves a chance to make his own path.  It’s not going to be easy, but I have to believe he can become better than his father wants him to be.”  The food appeared, and Trick reached for the plate of what Hermione called Shepard’s Pie.  “Maybe it sounds naïve, but, as much darkness as there is in people, there’s also light.  I was told that when we stop looking for the light in others, we forget what it means to be… jettise.” He glanced at his friends, ignoring the others who were also listening.  “You’re not jettise, and I’m not going to try to make you become them, but I am, and I will.  All I’m asking is that you accept that.”

Jettise?” Hermione repeated.

“That the word in my buir’s language for my order,” Trick replied, “there isn’t a word for it in English and I always liked the way it sounded that way.  Jetti is singular.”  He shrugged, “It’s in my top five phrases.”

“What are the others?”  Ron asked.

“Well, buir, obviously,” Trick said, “vod’ade, which means Children of the Brothers.  It’s what Foxxe and the rest of us call our generation, because we’re all the children of soldiers.  Ni kar'tayl gai sa'ad, it means ‘I know your name as my child’.  It’s the phrase a parent uses to seal an adoption.  Fifth would probably be aliit ori'shya tal'din.  That one means family is more than blood.”  Trick shrugged a little as he reached for a water pitcher, “I like the ones that are about family.”

Ron diverted the conversation to presents and Trick gently stepped out of the conversation.  He glanced up at the staff table, looking over each member of the staff quickly.  When he reached Quirrell, the Defense professor looked up and met his eyes.  There was a sharp punch of pain along his forehead and something brushed his shields, so fast he could believe he’d imagined it, save for the unexpected pain.  Finally, Trick looked at the Potions Professor, who was now also watching him.

This time when something touched his shields, Trick reacted, thrusting the remembered pain of the cruciatus into the forefront of his mind as far into the mind probe as he could manage without lighting up like a Christmas tree if you knew what to look for.

Snape blinked twice and Trick turned back to Hermione to reduce temptation to take it further. 

“Hermione,” he said softly, catching her attention, “remember those books we looked at last term, about mind reading?”

“Yes,” Hermione said.

“I think we need to pick that up again,” Trick said.  He very carefully kept his eyes on her face, “Just call it a hunch.”

“I’ve been trying to sort it all out,” Hermione said softly.

“I’ll do what I can,” Trick promised.