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Waking Merlin

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Chapter One: Harry’s POV

Harry had no idea what he was getting into when he agreed to go with Hermione to visit Emrys Castle over the summer hols. They hadn’t seen each other in a few years as Hermione had gone back to the Muggle world to complete university, while Ron had been hired as a strategist for the Chudley Cannons, even managing to help them win a game. Harry himself had retreated to a small cottage in the countryside of Scotland, far away from everything. The war had changed them all and they had slowly drifted apart, leaving the Golden Trio no longer inseparable best friends. 

They were still friends, though after all that had happened they felt more like family to each other, but they’d found their own paths in the world and no longer depended on each other for everything. Because of this, it had been rather a surprise when out of the blue Hermione had sent him a letter, full of excitement about some castle she really wanted to visit, inviting him to come along. He hadn’t really wanted to go, but he’d eventually decided that getting out of the house and spending some time around other people would be good for him.

With this in mind, one June morning, Harry packed up a small backpack for his expedition into the land of social interaction and set off to the train station, where he caught one headed to Hampstead where Hermione lived, as she was still staying at her parents’ house in the summer. He chose a seat in the back and sat staring out the window for the duration of the journey. Once in Hampstead, he made his way to Heathgate and walked up the road to Hermione’s house. 

Knocking on the front door, he stumbled backwards in surprise when the door was suddenly wrenched open and his arms were full of bushy hair and a smiling Hermione. “Harry, you came!” 

“Of course I did, ‘Mione. I said I would, didn’t I?” He replied, laughing.

“Well, don’t just stand there,” She scolded, “Come in!” Dragging him into the house, Hermionee busied herself with making tea. Harry sat down on the couch and looked around. The house was empty somehow, even cluttered with knick knacks and such. Then he remembered why. Hermione had been inconsolable that afternoon she’d shown up at the Burrow. She’d finally found her parents, but when she took them to St. Mungos, the mediwitches had told her that they were not able to get their memories back, as her spell had been too powerful. The problem wasn’t that she’d erased their memories of her, but that she’d erased herself too. In their minds, they’d never had a child.

The celebratory mood dampened, they drank their tea in silence before Harry asked, “Is Ron not coming?”

“No, he couldn’t take a day off.” Hermione replied curtly, frowning into her teacup as she took a sip. Seeming to force herself to be cheerful, she suddenly hopped up, smiling and said, “Well, we should probably be on our way! The castle is way out in the countryside so it will take most of the morning to get there.”

Gathering up her coat and bag, Hermione joined Harry where he was waiting in the hallway and together they headed out, locking up the house behind them. Hermione refused to ride a train because it reminded her of the Hogwarts Express and all the memories and people attached to it, so they’d arranged to take a bus instead. 

Settling down into two of the faded blue seats, they sat quietly for a while before Hermione dug out a book to read, rustling through her bag for a couple minutes before she tossed something at Harry. Quickly, Harry caught it, his old Seeker reflexes appearing briefly in his hand-eye coordination, even years later. He looked down at his hands to see what it was and was surprised to find one of those little fidget cube things that had become popular with the teens this year. 

Fiddling with it, he smiled at Hermione, “Thanks.” She gave him a nod and went back to reading her book. Harry occupied himself with the toy for a few hours, staring out the window. The bus finally stopped once more and this time Hermione hurriedly closed her book and snatched the fidget cube back, tossing them in her bottomless bag before they got off. The stop was located in the middle of a tiny village that looked like it was populated by about 100 people.

He followed behind Hermione as she led the way through the village, which was apparently named Rye. They arrived at the edge of the village and continued onwards over plains until they passed through some sort of muggle repelling ward and suddenly there were wizards and witches all around them. It wasn’t too busy, however, so they made it through the ticket line quickly and soon were able to step into the castle itself. It stood proudly in the middle of the plains and Harry thought briefly that the view from the top must be spectacular. The castle had a tall dome like building in the middle surrounded by five outposts around the edges of the castle fortifications and walls. 

He found himself immensely enjoying himself as they explored the castle and Hermione was of course word vomiting the entire history and life of Merlin, so much so that by the time they stopped for a quick lunch, Harry considered himself an expert on the man. For example, he learned that Merlin was a Parseltongue, something he hadn’t known and didn’t think was common knowledge.

He was just finishing his sandwich when he heard someone hissing grumpily. Stupid loud feet, clomping around my hunting ground and scaring all the mice away. 

Oops. Harry hoped that had been someone else and not him or Hermione. Sorry, he hissed back at the voice.

A grass snake shot out of the darkness and coiled up next to his feet. Speaker! It has been many generations of snakes since a speaker of our tongue has been here. My egg layer told me that a great magic speaker lived here many years ago and that he was betrayed and imprisoned in the castle.

Harry’s eyes widened. Wait, what? You mean Merlin isn’t dead?!

He was cursed by an evil magic lady long ago and his familiar brought him to his secret chambers and taught all of the snakes living here to protect him and teach their hatchlings to do the same. The great snake died long ago, but we still protect the great magic speaker from harm.

Glancing at Hermione, Harry impulsively asked, “ Can you take me there? Maybe I could help free the great magic speaker.”

The little snake seemed to waver for a second before nodding the best a snake could. Follow me. It slithered off quickly into the castle and Harry jumped up, following it. Hermione glanced over at Harry and was surprised to find him gone. He was probably just exploring. She got her book back out and started reading again.

Meanwhile, Harry was deep within the castle, following the snake through the confusing maze of tunnels in the castle’s heart. After a few more minutes, it stopped suddenly in front of a wall and nudged at it with its snout. Good luck! It said before slithering away, leaving him alone.

Staring at the blank wall, Harry suddenly remembered that Merlin was a speaker like him. Maybe the same trick that he’d used with Slytherin’s chamber would work here. Open, he hissed. Nothing happened. Let me in please, he tried. Still nothing. “ Stupid Merlin ,” he said, hitting the snake carved into the wall, not realizing he was still speaking Parseltongue.” I’m trying to break the curse .” To his surprise, this time there was a response. The snake on the wall seemed to wake up and looked at him before moving, slithering down the wall and disappearing into the floor somehow. A second later, the wall disintegrated before his eyes.

Startled, he stepped back, but curiosity soon took over and he stepped into the room. It was like travelling back in time. The room was decorated in soft greens and blues with snakes everywhere, from a decorative one on a desk to a snake shaped inkwell. In the middle, there was a bed and someone was lying on it. Staring blankly at it for a minute while he processed the amount of sheer incredulity that this was actually happening, Harry was reminded of what people used to call his ‘Potter luck’ of always getting into dangerous and unbelievable situations. Was it simply impossible for him to live a normal life? 

He blinked, realizing he’d been standing there staring into space for a long time. His eyes found themselves drawn to the bed once more and he walked over, considering his options. While he had educated himself slightly with some Parsel books found in both the Black library and Slytherin’s personal rooms behind the statue in the Chamber of Secrets, he was by no means an expert. However, he was the only Speaker he knew of in the UK and while it was likely there were others in the world, he wasn’t deluded into thinking he’d be able to find one, at least not without years of time and quite a bit of money.

This was how Harry found himself muttering under his breath as he activated a Parselmagic ritual to allow him to temporarily see magic. The room seemed to shimmer before his eyes and suddenly there were bright colors everywhere. Focusing on the magic surrounding Merlin, Harry was surprised to see that there seemed to be a battle engaged between a beautiful aqua and silver colored magic and a dark, sickly greenish yellow, the latter of whom was the curse. If he was still fighting the curse, then breaking it would be a lot easier than he’d thought. 

Sitting down on the bed, Harry reached out a hand towards Merlin, and paused. He’d been expecting a wizened old man like Merlin was portrayed in stories and in class at Hogwarts, but instead was faced with a man who looked like he was in his late twenties. His eyes were closed and he looked to be simply sleeping after a long day of work. He had shoulder length bronze hair and looked slightly like what Harry imagined a Malfoy and Weasley’s kid would look like. That was a weird thought.

Shaking himself from his musings, Harry reached out tentatively with his magic and pushed some into the other man’s magic, causing it to flare briefly before it seemed energized and fought against the curse more vigorously. He continued feeding his magic into Merlin’s and slumped against the bed, exhausted. He was so tired that he didn’t notice when the other man’s eyes shot open and fell unconscious from magical exhaustion, leaving a confused and tired Merlin staring at him, bewildered.

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Chapter Two: Merlin’s POV

Merlin had a strange feeling that he’d been left behind by the world. He had no idea how long it had been since Vivien had cursed him so, but the absence of his beloved familiar led him to believe it had been many, many years. He looked up from his contemplative thoughts and let his eyes rest upon the young man on his bed.

He’d woken up to find the unconscious man slumped on the bed next to him, palm bleeding and the remnants of Parselmagic lingering in the air. He was confused, naturally, as to how this man had gotten into his room, but wasted no time in healing the other’s hand before retreating to the chair in the corner until he woke. His sleep was induced by magical exhaustion, so it would be dangerous to wake him up before he was ready to come back to the realm of the living.

Merlin startled slightly when the man shot out of the bed suddenly, with his wand making a quick appearance. He studied the other, concerned that he seemed to have the reflexes and mental state of a battle-weary man. He was young, yes, but in his time many young men had fought in battle. However, when he had been cursed, the realm of Camelot had been at peace. That it had been at war while he was asleep was worrying. 

The two looked at each other for a moment before Merlin said, “Am I correct to assume you are the one who has awakened me?”

“Er, yes that would be correct…” the man trailed off awkwardly.

“Well, then, you have my thanks. Emrys Merlin at your service.” The wizard replied, smiling at him.

He hesitated for a second, as if thinking over something. “Mr. Merlin?”

“Please, call me Emrys. It’s the least I can do.” Merlin said to cover his confusion over what Mr. was and why the man seemed so conflicted.

“Oh, um okay thanks, Emrys. I’m Harry Potter, but you can call me Harry.”

Merlin looked at him, amused at how awkward he seemed. It was adorable, honestly. “Now, can you tell me what’s been going on while I’ve been asleep?” 

The so proclaimed Harry answered him, eyes darting nervously at him. “You’ve been asleep for almost a thousand years.”

The wizard’s mouth opened and closed several times before he sank deeper into his chair. All of his friends and comrades were long dead, then. “I see. What of Camelot?” 

“Nothing but legend. The wizarding community of the UK is small and recovering from war.” 

Merlin’s eyes narrowed minutely. He had been correct in assuming the other had been in a war, then. “How did you wake me?” 

“A grass snake led me here, having said that all the snakes here protect you and that I could help break your curse.” They continued talking as Harry gave Merlin a brief summary that had happened while he was asleep and there was a lot, even in the shortened version. Eventually, Harry looked up the time with a spell that hadn’t been invented when Merlin was still teaching. He made an exclamation of surprise and explained that he needed to get back to his friend, who he’d come to the castle with.

“May I accompany you? I would like to explore the world you have described, it seems fascinating.”

Harry agreed and the two set off back through the castle, with Merlin guiding him this time instead of the snake he’d said had led him there before.

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Chapter Three: Harry’s POV

Harry, being the impulsive idiot he is, didn’t even think about how Hermione would’ve been worried when he disappeared for hours until she was whacking him with her book.

“HARRY. JAMES. POTTER. How DARE you vanish for HOURS without telling me where you went! I thought you’d been KIDNAPPED!” Her screeching could rival Mrs. Weasley when she really went at it, Harry thought in amusement as he fended off his friend’s book. 

“Sorry, ‘Mione.” He smiled sheepishly at her, which only seemed to fuel her rage. 

“Gone for FIVE hours and all I get is a sorry?! Honestly, you’re worse than Ronald!” 

Hermione suddenly noticed the stranger behind him and it was like a switch had been flipped inside her. She was now dangerously calm, anger lurking just under the surface. “Oh, and who is this?” She said in a steel-edged tone.

Harry shot Merlin a look when he saw the other biting back a laugh, but all that did was cause him to burst out laughing. “Oh, this is too good.” Merlin wheezed. “I never would’ve thought that I would see something like this right after waking up. Come on, I’ve been without amusement for centuries and you try to deny me the chance to laugh.” He directed the last part at Harry, still laughing. 

Hermione had changed moods once again, curious Ravenclaw mode on in full force. “Did you say centuries?!” She leveled a look at Harry. “Every. Bloody. Time. Why is it always you?”

Merlin had sobered up and now looked imposing and regal again in his fancy embroidered robes that had been preserved by the curse. “Emrys Merlin at your service, Lady…?”

Hermione blushed, becoming uncharacteristically shy. “Oh, er, I’m Hermione Granger, please call me Hermione. And Merlin, really Harry.”

“I think we should head back to your house, it’s getting late and we don’t want to be stuck here all night.” Harry suggested, diverting the topic and signaling that the conversation should be had a different time, not in public. 

The three hurried out of the castle, ignoring the odd looks they got from the few wizards and witches still there at the ancient looking clothes on one of them.

 

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Chapter Four: Merlin’s POV

Merlin looked around at everything they passed in fascination.They were riding on some sort of moving room with wheels under it that pulled itself and the people in the room with them were just as interesting. One had something stuck in their ears that was attached to a thin box and a lady across the aisle was wearing round pieces of clear material attached with some sort of rigid string on their face. What he ironically didn’t realize was that they found him just as interesting, dressed in clothes that looked like they were straight out of a fantasy or historical novel. 

After what seemed like forever, Harry and his friend Hermione stood up as the room stopped and Merlin hurriedly followed them before he could be left behind. The three made their way back to Hermione’s house and the wizard found it a constant struggle not to get sidetracked by everything going on around him. At one point, he looked over at a street performer and when he looked back, he couldn’t see either of them in the crowd. Cursing his bad luck, the wizard glanced around before surreptitiously sliding his wand out of his sleeve and casting a tracking charm of sorts, one he’d invented so many centuries before. He was proficient in wandless magic, but breaking the curse had drained him almost as badly as Harry since he’d been fighting it for so long. It was a miracle he was still standing, honestly. The wand was one he’d made himself, out of English Oak and the heartstring of a dragon he’d slain. Merlin himself was the true pioneer of wandlore and the craft of making them, with the journals and notes he’d written under a false name being handed down in families such as the Ollivander and Gregorovitch lines. 

He followed the tracking charm to a simple house in a quieter area of the town and came up to the front door, knocking on the white wooden surface below the window pane. Footsteps echoed from inside and paused for a moment before the door opened quickly and he was pulled inside by Hermione, relieved smile on her face.

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Chapter Five: Harry’s POV

If I was any other person, I would be convinced I was dreaming, Harry thought to himself as he paced back and forth in the living room. Not only had he somehow managed to wake up Merlin, he’d also managed to lose the aforementioned internationally known legend in the middle of a muggle town by himself only a few hours later. 

Hermione was on the couch nearby, frantically flipping through a humongous book named A Comprehensive Guide to Spells trying to find something that would help them locate the wizard. They proceeded to freak out for another ten minutes before there was a knock on the door.

Hermione jumped up and went into the hallway, Harry close behind, peering through the peephole in the door before she opened it. There, standing on the porch, was Merlin. Heaving a giant sigh of relief, she opened the door and pulled him inside, smiling. “Oh, thank goodness. We were so worried when we lost you in the crowd.”

The wizard smiled back, looking exhausted. “It was no fault but my own. I was led astray by my attention to a street performer and when I managed to leave, you had vanished.”

“We should have kept a closer eye on you anyways. Now, would you like some tea?” Hermione asked, nudging Harry back towards the living room before following him with Merlin, who nodded gratefully.

 Harry went into the kitchen and put on the kettle, getting out some mugs and such while he waited. When the tea was done, he went back into the living room only to find Merlin had passed out on the couch. Hermione murmured her thanks and took one of the mugs from him, leaving him to put the extra down on the table before drinking his own. The warm tea served to make him sleepy and so Hermione sent him off to the guest room to get some rest, ignoring his attempts to help tidy up and shoving him into the hallway with a no-nonsense look that had him going to the spare room without a fight. Transfiguring his clothes into some sleepwear, he practically collapsed into the bed and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

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Chapter Six: Merlin’s POV

The next morning, Merlin woke to find himself still on the couch. It was still early as the sky was in the midst of an enchanting sunrise, so he was careful to be quiet as he made his way through the house. To his surprise, when he found the kitchen Harry was already there, sitting quietly at the table and drinking a cup of tea.

He looked up and saw Merlin, standing in the doorway, and got up. “Good morning, Emrys. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, thank you. I hope you did as well.” Merlin replied, taking a seat next to the other wizard. Harry poured him a cup of tea and passed it over, telling him the options for breakfast. Some of them were unfamiliar and it must’ve shown on Merlin’s face for Harry jumped up and declared, “Alright. Let me introduce you to the wonders of Froot Loops and poptarts!”

When Hermione came downstairs an hour later, it was to a relaxed and comfortable Harry and Merlin enjoying their delicious, albeit sugary, meal. They were talking quietly about different pieces of Muggle technology. Seeing her, they both paused briefly to greet her before continuing their conversation.

Getting herself a bowl of cereal, Hermione settled down across from Merlin, content to listen to them with a few comments here and there. Her attention was immediately snared, however, with what Merlin said next.

“When I was last… awake, I had founded a Muggle rights organisation named Order of Merlin. How has it fared over the centuries?” 

“Well, I’ve never heard of a Muggle rights organisation, but there is some sort of award the Ministry gives to people called the Order of Merlin. I’m sorry to say that there is no mention I’ve come across so far of such a thing either.” Hermione told him.

Merlin felt a heaviness in his heart at the news that one of his most important projects was no more. “At least from what I can tell, most of the aims have been achieved now anyways.”

Directing the conversation away from that topic, Merlin found himself telling Hermione about how he had taught many young wixen before and that it was something he missed. “You went to Hogwarts, right?” she asked.

“Yes, under the tutelage of Salazar, he was a good teacher but strict.”

“Oh, you knew the Founders personally?” Harry asked him.

“Yes, I was friends with them for many years before the eventual argument that led to the division of their beliefs and I helped Salazar in traveling and teaching young wixen who were unable to make it Hogwarts until my subsequent betrayal and curse by Vivien, one of my students.” Merlin stared off into the distance, his thoughts a thousand years in the past.

Hermione cleared her throat. “Well, what I meant by asking you in the first place was that there is currently an open position for a teacher at Hogwarts. There was a curse on it at one point, but it was broken by the wizard who cast it’s death.”

Merlin immediately caught on. Being a teacher again would give him something to do and it was sure to help him make enough money to survive on. Sure, he had some money on him, but he had no idea of what it was worth today, and it wouldn’t last him for more than a year.

“That is a good idea. Thank you, Hermione. I will look into it.” He replied. Then he thought of something. “Where could I get an owl? I’ll need one for sending letters.” His beloved barn owl was long dead and he felt ready to find another.

Harry smiled at him cheerfully. “We can take you to Diagon Alley. It’s a shopping center that has lots of things. Maybe you could find a snake too?”

Touched at the consideration, Merlin smiled back. “Perhaps. We will have to see.”

They prepared for the day and then took a bus to near the Leaky Cauldron. Harry had lent Merlin some of his clothes as even in wizard society, his robes would stand out by the age of the material and style. Harry transfigured his hair and changed his eye color before pointing his wand at his forehead, where there was a faded lightning bolt shaped scar. He said a spell in Parseltongue to cover the mark and then they were ready to go.

Once inside Diagon, Hermione kept a running commentary on everything, from the shops to the people. It was interesting and Merlin filed a lot of the information away for later use. He was a Slytherin, after all. Salazar would be disappointed in him if he didn’t use his skills to help himself succeed.

At the mention of a bank run by Goblins, Merlin suddenly stopped. “Where is this bank?” He asked. Not only would it be more convenient than keeping his money on him, he was a Goblin Friend. Perhaps they could provide him with some additional help.

Hermione led the way and soon they were walking inside a large white stone building. Goblins guarded the entrance and more received clients or weighed jewels and gold. Merlin took the lead now, stepping up to a goblin who was not busy. 

He greeted him in Gobbledegook, ignoring the shocked look of the goblin and the calculating looks from other clients who now paid attention to the mysterious man. “Good morning, Master Goblin. May your gold ever grow and the blood of your enemies flow freely.”

“Good morning, sir. May your vaults fill with gold and your enemies tremble before you.” They replied in the same language. “ What can I do for you today?”

“I would like to speak to the Goblin King.” 

The goblin’s eyes narrowed. “How so? Pay your proof.”

“As Emrys Merlin, Goblin Friend of King Ragnuk the First, I bestow you with proof of my claim.” Merlin flicked a finger casually and his necklace, Goblin crafted personally for him by said king floated up into view.

Eyes wide, the goblin bowed to him, triggering every single noble in the bank who was knowledgeable about goblin culture to struggle to conceal their shock and awe. Goblins only bowed to those they acknowledged as above them, so it was truly rare.

Meanwhile, Hermione was feeling much the same and Harry stood there cluelessly. Merlin glanced at them and bit back a laugh. “I would request that my companions be allowed entrance as well. I personally take responsibility for their actions, and as such their punishment for any crime they might commit.”

“Acknowledged.” The goblin called one of the guards and sent them with him deep into the bank, where none had been other than goblins in centuries. Harry and Hermione kept close to him, staying quiet. They made it into the goblin city and as far as the king’s court before the guard left them, bowing to Merlin. 

Stepping forward, Merlin bowed to King Darnoc, the current ruler of the goblins. “King Darnoc, may your crown always gleam and your enemies fall swiftly.” Behind him, Hermione nudged Harry and whispered something, causing him to bow with her as well.

The king looked at him calculatingly. “You have requested an audience?”

“Yes, I wished to pay my respects to the leader of the Goblin Nation. And perhaps, inquire after my staff? It was stolen from me 11 centuries ago and as it was Goblin crafted, I was under the impression the Goblins would’ve reclaimed it after my supposed death.”  

The king seemed to struggle to comprehend what had just been said for a moment. “11 centuries? Who are you?”

“My apologies, I did not intend to be rude when I neglected to introduce myself. I am Emrys Merlin, Goblin Friend of King Ragnuk the First.”

Suddenly, it was like a light had been switched on in the king’s head. “Ah, Merlin. I remember many entries in my predecessor’s log that he mentioned you in. The last of course, his concern when you mysteriously disappeared and were declared dead. Your staff was retrieved personally by him and has been kept in his private vault ever since. I am the only one authorized to go inside, so I hope you’ll forgive my absence if I go to acquire it.”

“Of course. My immense gratitude for doing such a thing.” Merlin thanked him.

The king vanished into the hall behind his throne, leaving a small group of guards behind with the three wixen.

Immediately, Hermione started asking questions. “What were you saying? How did you learn Gobbledegook? It is possible for me to learn it? Where did the goblin go?”

Harry poked her. “Stop, ‘Mione. Not right now. But Merlin’s pants, that was strange to listen to.”

Merlin laughed. “What did my pants ever do to you?” Harry realized what he’d said and started laughing too. 

They amused themselves by making more jokes about Merlin until King Dornoc returned, carrying a tall wooden staff carved into the shape of a snake that wrapped around an orb of turquoise, the stone carefully chosen by Merlin as he was helping Ragnuk make it because of its relation to divination and seers. The eye of the snake gleamed with a small diamond, again chosen after much thought for its relation to seers and also its power that fueled his own magic when using the staff.

Dornoc handed the staff to Merlin, saying, “ May my ancestor’s creation serve you well.”

Merlin bowed once more before thanking the goblin king, gifting him with something the goblins secretly prized above all others. Pure magic orbs, to light their city. He was the only living wizard to know of such a thing, and the goblins planned to keep it that way.

After this had been done, the king arranged for a goblin to help Merlin open an account, naturally one of the best protected due to his status as Goblin Friend. It was another two hours or so before the three wixen found themselves leaving Gringotts, blinking against the bright sunlight that brought tears to their eyes after being in such a dark place.

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Chapter Seven: Harry’s POV

After their venture into the depths of Gringotts, Harry was happy to lead the way towards the store in Diagon that specialized in wizarding pets and familiars. It wasn’t too busy at the time, since most people would be sitting down to lunch at the moment. 

Wandering through the store, Harry found himself drawn towards the snakes. He avoided the owls, not willing to get another after the death of Hedwig. In particular, one small snake caught his eye. It was curled up in the corner of its tank, leisurely watching the snake in the tank next to it as it climbed up and down a log, winding around and around. This tiny black snake seemed to have little nubs on its head, almost like horns. 

Suddenly, Hermione gasped next to him. “That’s a Horned Serpent! But those are extinct!” 

The owner of the store came over to them from the counter. “Ah, you’ve found our new snake. She was a rescue from an illegal black market ring the Auror’s were able to crash, one of the few creatures that survived past a week due to the horrible conditions they were in. It was quite a surprise to me when they came in here one day and said that they thought it would be best for me to take her. Now, I can’t let just anybody have her. She’s still quite jumpy sometimes and honestly I feel that only a Parselmouth would be a good owner for her. Unfortunately, the only current one I know of is Harry Potter and I doubt he’d want her.”

Hermione and Harry exchanged glances at the irony of what the shopkeeper was saying. “Err.” Harry said, “Actually, I’m Harry Potter. I took care to make myself unrecognisable, I’m sure you could guess why.”

The shopkeeper’s eyes widened, but he looked skeptical. “And I’m sure you’re not just saying that because you want the snake.”

“No, really.” He hissed the counter to his Parselspell, causing his scar to reappear.

Now the owner looked shocked. “Oh, well in that case, if you really did want her, I’d try talking to her a bit. If you get on, then feel free to buy her.” He went back over to the counter, mumbling something under his breath about what a story to tell his grandkids.

It was around now when Emrys wandered over to them, carrying a Eurasian eagle-owl as if he’d done such a thing his entire life. “I found this handsome gentleman and he seemed amenable to me, so I believe I’ll get him.” He noticed the snakes. “Oh, have you found one you’d like to get?”

“We discovered a Horned Serpent!” Hermione burst out, not wasting a second.

Merlin looked questioningly at them. “Yes? They were quite common during the time of Camelot and I befriended a few.”

“They’ve been hunted to extinction since then, at least in Europe. They were thought to have died out hundreds of years ago.” Hermione explained. 

“Oh, I see.” Merlin nodded, understanding what a discovery it must be in that case. “Are you going to get them? I believe since you are a Speaker, it wouldn’t be too hard to get along.”

Harry grinned, excited. “And you’d be able to speak to her too, naturally!”

“Well first, you might want to actually talk to her.” Hermione interjected in exasperation, rolling her eyes at him fondly.

“Oh, right.” Harry turned to the snake and hissed, “ Hi!”

She perked up immediately. “Ooh a Speaker! I’m Teia.” Her jewel blue eyes glittered in excitement.

There’s two of us, actually.” Merlin added, leaning in to talk to her as well. “I was friends with a few Horned Serpents a thousand years ago.”

She lifted her head curiously. “The egglayer of my egglayer passed down stories of a great magic user who saved her from death at the hands of a wolf when she was a hatchling.”

Merlin’s mouth opened in shock. “ I was the one who saved her. Was her hatchname Aika?

Teia nodded. Harry smiled. “ How fitting that you two would find each other then.

They finished talking to her and sought out the shopkeeper to get everything for her and the owl Merlin was also getting, who wizard had decided to name Theoden. Harry had been debating most of this time whether or not to invite Merlin to stay with him at the cottage he lived in until he could find a place of his own and decided to ask him just as they were leaving the store. 

“Emrys, until you find your own home, would you like to stay with me?” He asked, brushing the hair back from his eyes nervously. “I have a small cottage in the countryside, it has a spare room though.”

Merlin looked at him, considering. “I’ll take you up on that offer, thank you.”  

With that settled, the two wizards said their goodbyes to Hermione before leaving in their separate directions back to their homes. Teia was curled up around Harry’s wrist and Theoden placed in a cage so they could inconspicuously enough travel back to his cottage by train. 

Back at Harry’s house, he made sure Merlin had everything he might need and then prepared a quick dinner for them to enjoy. He was just putting everything on plates when Merlin wandered into the kitchen.

“Anything I can do to help?” He inquired.

“Nope. I just finished, but thanks for asking.” Harry handed the other wizard his plate and headed into the dining room, which doubled as the living room when not meal time. They ate in companiable silence and then did the dishes, with Harry washing and Merlin drying. It went faster because of their use of magic but Harry still had the habit from his childhood of at least mostly manually doing the chores.

After this was done, Merlin excused himself to go to bed early, as he was still recharging his magic from breaking the curse. Harry followed his idea shortly after, having been feeling sleepy from his own magical depletion and so the house became quiet soon after dark, leaving Theoden and Teia to settle down for the night as well. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight: Merlin’s POV

It had been a few weeks since Merlin had begun his stay at Harry’s cottage and he had yet to find a place of his own. None of the properties for sale appealed to him and many were in locations with almost no trees or nature, something that wasn’t a good place for him to stay. It was now Midsummer, the holiday of Litha for the wixen who followed the old religion unlike those who had been converted by those Muggleborn who had flooded into their little world, bringing Christianity with them. Even Hogwarts now celebrated such holidays, from what he’d been told by Harry. It was one of the few things he could agree with the anti-muggle faction on, that the Muggleborns and their families were ruining their culture. It didn’t mean they should be excluded from the magical world or killed however, just taught about the religion that paid respects to the Magic that had gifted them their own. He’d explained his religion to the younger wizard, and Harry had helped him acquire everything he needed. 

Now he sat outside, barefoot, in the traditional robe he’d gone back to Emrys Castle for, one of the few garments that had survived over so many years. A quick request that Magic help him restore the ritual robe had brought the garment back to its former glory. The white cloth was clean and bright, with the runes and other symbols for the sacred day were now embroidered in gold thread. The sun was beginning to set and he got up briefly to light the bonfire before sitting down and meditating quietly. 

The second the sun disappeared below the horizon, he summoned a sphere of water and put out the fire. It was symbolic of the change of the guardian who took responsibility for the wellbeing of magic for half a year each, the Oak King from winter to summer and the Holly King from summer to winter. 

After this had been done, Merlin took a branch of holly and struck it against the ground once for each of the four seasons, clockwise starting with the northernmost point, Winter. He chanted a prayer as he did this, causing the points to glow with Magic’s blessing and he let out a sigh as he felt Magic rushing through him, reinvigorating him and boosting his magic. This was one of the things that wizarding Britain had been forgetting and it had led to a decrease in magical ability and more squibs. Magic was a generous force, but it didn’t hesitate to take away what it had given. Many younger wizards weren’t even aware of Magic anymore, though not a fault of their own, this was saddening and infuriating.

Merlin vowed to himself that if he got the position at Hogwarts, he would make it his mission to reteach the true ways of Magic to his students. Some of the Pureblood children were most likely still taught in secret by their families, but the influx of Muggle culture had led to the Ministry that had replaced the Noble Houses in the place of power and now following the old religion was frowned upon. He’d have to do a bit of probing to find out who of the Lords and Ladies still followed and revered Magic. 

His mind drifted now to his latest vision. He was surprised when it had happened, as he thought that after so long, Magic might have regifted his Sight to another wixen. As for his Sight itself, he seemed to have a unique kind. He’d been sitting outside under a tree when he’d glimpsed a shining orb above him. Many years of similar things happening caused him to easily hold out his hands in front of him, where the orb gently landed. It was the color of silver, but constantly moved and shifted in a liquid way. 

Gazing into the orb, he saw himself walking through a long hallway he thought must be the dungeons of Hogwarts, near the Slytherin Common Room. The scene shifted and he was teaching a class of first year Ravenclaws and Slytherins. One of them raised their hand and asked him a question. He could not make it out before the scene changed again, to a small group of students celebrating Yule in the Room of Requirement that Rowena had created after many years of research. The orb went blank and floated back up into the sky, leaving him certain that his path was to go to Hogwarts. Pulling himself from his thoughts, he found that it had gotten colder and that it was night. He stood up slowly, his joints stiff, and made his way back into the house. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: Harry’s POV

The two wizards were eating breakfast one morning, Teia curled nearby and Theoden out hunting, when an owl flew in the window, carrying a letter with the Hogwarts seal. It dropped it in Merlin’s hand in exchange for a mouse from Teia’s snack collection and hooted in approval, fluttering over to an empty chair to wait for a response.

Harry watched as Emrys opened the letter, nodding and smiling at whatever it contained. “My application for the position of Defense has been accepted. It looks like I will be off to Hogwarts in a few weeks.”

“I’m assuming you’ll be taking Theoden with you. What about Teia?” He asked. The Horned Serpent had grown about a foot since they’d gotten her and her horns were a lot bigger now. 

Would you like to go to Hogwarts?” Merlin hissed, taking the question to the snake herself. “ Please understand that it might be potentially dangerous for you because you are thought to be an extinct species and that you would be stuck inside a stone castle most of the time.”

Teia thought for a moment. “I’ll stay with Harry.” 

That matter settled, Emrys wrote out a reply for the owl and vanished out the door to go get some things for the coming school year, leaving his staff behind but taking his wand. Harry cleaned up the breakfast things and offered his arm to Teia. “ Let’s go for a walk.”

She slithered up and around so she was resting on his shoulders, head resting on his neck. “Forward, my Speaker. Let us go find a delicious food to eat.”

Laughing, Harry carried her out the door and to the small pond and woods behind his cottage, where they spent a couple of hours wandering around. Teia caught two mice and was sleepy afterwards, taking a nap on the way back to the house. Merlin was back when they returned and the snake regaled him with tales of her adventure while Harry went to go change clothes, having got the ones he was wearing muddy.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten: Merlin’s POV

It was the first of September and as such it was time for Merlin to go to Hogwarts. He said his goodbyes to Harry and Teia, promising to send letters. As a teacher, he didn’t have to go to the school via the Hogwarts Express, but instead had been given a portkey to get through the wards as Apparition was impossible within Hogwarts and its grounds.

At exactly 10 am, Merlin grabbed hold of the rusty key and was transported to Hogwarts. Despite never having used one before, he’d been given a very thorough explanation by Hermione, who’d been thrilled when he’d sent her a letter saying he’d decided to follow her advice and become a professor of Hogwarts. Knowing what to expect, he managed to land upright and without making a fool of himself. 

Nearby, other teachers were appearing with their own portkeys and he followed them to where Headmistress McGonagall was waiting. She was scanning over the arriving staff and when her eyes found him, she smiled and nodded to him. 

“Welcome, everyone. It’s lovely to see you all again for another year at Hogwarts. I hope you have your lesson plans ready?” There was a general murmur of agreement. 

“Good. Well, anyways, this year we have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, since Professor Damani wanted to retire. His name is Falco Senmorta.” Merlin had to repress a smile. He’d created his new name from his old one. Falco was Italian for falcon and Senmorta spanish for Immortal, the meaning of his old name. Merlin was a type of European falcon and Emrys meant immortal. Therefore, Emrys Merlin was Falco Senmorta. 

Introductions and greetings were exchanged before the staff were divided up to get everything ready. Merlin was part of a team assigned to decorate the Great Hall. They added twinkling lights to the walls and as they made sure the tables and floor was clean, he heard a professor who had introduced themselves as Pomona Sprout say something about how the ceiling hadn’t been the same since Dumbledore’s death. 

Looking up, Merlin saw that the ceiling was a strange faded gray color and he could feel the remnants of powerful magic there. Focusing on it, he discovered that while this Dumbledore was still alive, the ceiling had reflected the sky above it. A complex piece of magic in itself. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to start off the school year with the staff having a good opinion of him. 

Pulling out his wand, Merlin renewed the spell using the threads of magic already there, causing the ceiling to suddenly appear to vanish as the bright blue sky with clouds floating past materialed on it. Conscious of the other teachers watching him, he made sure to look like he was using his wand and cast verbally. It was a bit too early to give away all of his secrets, after all.

“However did you do that?” Marissa Silverthorn, the potions teacher, asked. 

“Oh I heard Professor Sprout talking about the ceiling and so I just redid the spell using the remnants that were left.” He explained, careful to not outright say anything about being able to sense magic.

“Well, that’s a very good job you did.” The Herbology professor exclaimed, patting his shoulder happily. 

They finished their task and went back to the courtyard to meet up again. When everyone was there, the Headmistress told them that they would be having a quick picnic style lunch before they would have the first official staff meeting of the school year and then welcome the students to Hogwarts.

Smiling at how friendly and warm the atmosphere at the school was, Merlin joined a small group sitting under a tree and took a sandwich, settling down to eat. He listened absently to the friendly conversation of friends catching up after a summer apart as he did so. He was feeling sleepy and was absentmindedly picking at the edge of the blanket when he registered someone say his name.

He looked up to find Silverthorn trying to get his attention. “Sorry, what?” He asked.

“I asked why you decided to come teach at Hogwarts.” She repeated.

“A friend told me about the job opening and I enjoy teaching so it was a perfect opportunity for me.” He replied. 

The conversation turned to the students and which ones were their secret favorites and which ones were troublemakers. Merlin mentally took notes, knowing this would be helpful for his own classes. 

Time passed quickly and then they gathered in the teacher break room for their meeting. The Headmistress opened the meeting with another greeting and welcome to Hogwarts before getting down to business. School budget spending was explained for the year, different news on parts of the castle under construction and the announcements that the students would hear at the feast were gone over and then it was time to go greet the students. The day had passed so quickly it was a little disorienting to Merlin, who wasn’t used to such a productive and busy day after spending weeks relaxing in the country. 

Professor Sprout volunteered to greet the first years outside the Great Hall and Silverthorn asked if someone would come with her to the train station with her to make sure everyone got off the train okay. A teacher named Aurora Sinistra offered to go and they set off to Hogsmeade while the rest of the teachers sat down at the staff table in the Great Hall. It was early evening now and darkness was falling, reflected by the ceiling which now twinkled with stars.

The doors opened and students flooded into the hall, taking a seat at their respective house tables. They noticed the new teacher quickly and Merlin was sure half the gossip was about him. Directing his eyes over towards the stool and the hat on it, he smiled fondly. As he couldn’t say he’d been to Hogwarts before as his alias certainly wasn’t in any records, they’d done a quick ‘Sorting’ specially tailored for staff who had gone to other schools which just said which House he was best suited to be a mentor for, like Sprout was Hufflepuff and Sinistra Slytherin. 

As you would expect, Gryffindor’s old hat was quite surprised to find a student he’d sorted centuries and centuries ago when he was placed on Falco’s head. It grinned cheerfully once Merlin had explained the situation and declared that there was no better place than Slytherin for such a great man. Obviously, after the war that the wizarding world had been through, being a Slytherin didn’t quite have positive connotations currently, but seeing as the hat didn’t find a problem with him, the Headmistress nodded and smiled to him before giving him a large armful of papers about his responsibilities and such. He’d go over them that evening after writing a letter to Harry and Teia.

Knocked from his thoughts by the large doors being opened loudly again, he looked up to see the procession of first years wandering into the hall behind Sprout like baby ducklings. Unfamiliar name after name flew past and he watched closely, observing how the few students sorted into Slytherin looked terrified and how there was much less applause for them as well. That would be one thing to remedy, he thought, clapping loudly to make up for the gap made by the other teachers and students.

Ignoring the inquiring looks from the first years once they were most likely told he was a new teacher, Merlin leaned slightly across the table and asked Sinistra, the current Slytherin Head of House if she wanted him to go with the Slytherins on their way to the common room, just in case. Giving him an appraising look, she sighed softly. “I see you’ve noticed it then. That would be lovely, thanks.” 

Nodding, he leaned back in his chair and sipped his tea contemplatively until the feast was over. The Headmistress stood up and told them some important rules, saying the rest would be explained tomorrow, before sending the tired and sleepy students off to their common rooms. 

Merlin slipped away from the staff table and appeared behind the Slytherin prefects. “Good evening, prefects. I am Professor Senmorta and I’ll be accompanying you to the common room this evening.” 

They turned around quickly in surprise. “Oh, good evening, Professor.” One of them, a tall girl with caramel hair said. The others murmured their greetings and acknowledgements.

“Right.” A shorter boy with brown hair said. “Listen up, everyone. We’re going to head to our common room now. First years at the front, please.” The students shuffled around and when everyone was ready, the girl from before led the way out of the Great Hall.

Merlin installed himself at the back and followed behind, listening absently to the portraits talking as they walked. One of them somehow seemed to recognise him and cried out, “Is that really you? But how, you were dea-” He hushed her quickly and motioned the hesitating prefects onwards. 

Waiting until they were out of earshot, he said. “Yes, it is me. However, I am here under another name. I cannot tell you exactly how tomorrow, but I promise to visit another time and tell you the tale. I trust you know to keep this to yourself and not go spilling my secrets to the castle at large, Edrissa.” 

He nodded in farewell and hurried to catch up to the group, thoughts whirling. To find that one of his first friends and classmates had a portrait in the castle was a great surprise. Edrissa Pendragon had been the one to introduce him to Arthur in the first place, but he’d unfortunately lost touch with her around the time of Slytherin’s leaving the school.

Once inside the common room, he was dismissed for the evening by Sinistra and went to his chambers, where he wrote a long letter to Harry, sending it off with Theoden. Then he went through the papers before collapsing into bed, exhausted.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven: Merlin’s POV

 

It was very early the next morning when Merlin awoke and he found after checking his schedule that he had enough time before he had to be at breakfast to visit Edrissa. Dressing quickly in a simple blue robe, he made his way through the mostly empty common room, which was far different than he remembered. Last night he hadn’t properly examined it, but now he found that the only thing still the same was the window looking into the lake. 

Abandoning his idea to visit Edrissa for the moment, he went over to it, feeling subtly into the waters for the squid, who he’d affectionately named Brian while he was a student. The squid was currently nearby and evidently recognised his magic signature because seconds later Brian came shooting out of the darkness and pressed an eye up against the window, tentacles flailing around in excitement. Merlin gave him a pat on the nearest tentacle with his magic before he promised to visit the actual lake so they could play later. He didn’t notice the shocked prefect staring at him as he left the common room, whistling cheerfully. By lunchtime, the whole school would have heard about the squid saying hello to the new teacher.

On his way to breakfast, he stopped by Edrissa’s portrait and told her the short version of everything that had happened since they parted ways. She was sad to hear of his betrayal, but happy that he was awake now and teaching at Hogwarts. He then made his way to the Great Hall, settling down in a chair at the staff table and eating some toast and jam with his tea. It was another twenty minutes before most of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs came in, accompanied by a few Gryffindors. Five minutes after that, Slytherin came in as a group, first years in the front as per usual. The breakfast hour itself passed without much event and soon it was time for his first class.

Straightening his robes, Merlin leaned on his desk, waiting for his first class, a group of first year Hufflepuffs and Slytherins. The first one through the door introduced herself as Pearl, tugging nervously at her yellow and black robes. He smiled kindly at her and said, “Welcome, Pearl. Take a seat and perhaps have a mint or two from my bowl while we wait for the rest of the class.” It had been an idea of Harry’s to put candy in his room as a reward other than house points for students and one he found greatly appreciated as the girl seemed to relax, smiling cheerfully at him before taking one and sitting down in the front row.

The rest of the students came in in groups of two or three, thankfully no one was late or missing. Merlin finished his attendance and looked over the class. “Before we start today's lesson, I thought it might be nice to get to know each other a little. Does anyone have a question to ask me?” 

A couple of first year Slytherins looked at each other before giggling. One of them raised their hand. “I heard from Prefect Lucy that the squid came to say hi to you this morning! Is that true?” Merlin smiled, amused at how quickly the tale had gone around.

“That is indeed true. I decided to name it Brian because why not.” More laughter at the name. 

“Anyone else?” He asked, brushing back his hair absently. 

A Hufflepuff boy sitting near Pearl asked, “What’s your favorite animal?” 

Merlin laughed. “Let me show you, as part of my introduction to this class. Now, you won’t learn this spell until Sixth year at the very minimum, so keep that in mind.” Pulling out his wand, he focused on his usual memory of being surrounded by his laughing group of friends at Camelot, but his mind turned to Harry instead. 

Knowing it wasn’t the time to think about it, he went with the flow and used the memory of having poptarts with him to fuel his spell. “Expecto Patronum!” He cried and a fluid shape burst from his wand, winding its way around the room before curling around his shoulders, hissing contently. The Horned Serpent seemed to amaze the students. 

“Wow! I thought having a magical Patronus was really rare?” A Slytherin asked. 

“It is. I’m really very lucky to have her.” Merlin watched as his Patronus nudged him before fading away. 

He tucked his wand back into his robe and focused back on his students. “Now, into classwork. Today we’ll be learning about the different types of Dark Arts.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve: Merlin’s POV

At lunchtime, instead of going to the Great Hall for lunch, Merlin ventured into the kitchens and politely requested a sandwich, which the house elves were all to happy to make for him. Sandwich in hand, he made his way out to the lake. Sending out tendrils of magic, he was sooned joined by Brian, who enthusiastically blooped at him, splashing the water with his tentacles. 

“Soon, Brian. Let me eat first.” Merlin quickly consumed his lunch before wandlessly casting a Parselspell to keep himself dry. “All right, I’m ready.” 

One of the squid’s tentacles snaked out and wrapped around him as he waded into the water. Brian blooped happily and tossed him into the water. Laughing, Merlin used a bit of wandless magic to conjure some things to play with. They spent about an hour splashing around in the lake before he regretfully had to say goodbye to his friend and Merlin made sure to promise to visit again soon. Brian patted him on the shoulder with a tentacle and vanished back into the depths of the lake.

He was on his way to the Defense classroom when Sinistra called out to him, asking where he’d been at lunch. Looking over at her, he replied, “Oh, I was playing in the lake with Brian the squid. Don’t worry, I had a sandwich.” Smiling, he vanished into the classroom, leaving a shocked and amazed Head of Slytherin standing in the hallway with the students standing nearby having new gossip to spread about the mysterious and cool Professor Senmorta. Despite it only being the first day, ‘Falco’ had already boosted the Slytherin reputation with his friendly teaching style and quirky personality.

The first class of the afternoon was a mixed group of third year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws. The Gryffindors were those he was most concerned about causing trouble, several among his class being troublemakers the other staff had warned him of. The main concern was a boy named Devin Weasley. Apparently, he was some distant cousin of Harry’s friend Ronald Weasley and had grown up thinking all houses except for Gryffindor were useless or evil.

Devin was the last one into class, coming in slowly after the bell. He then proceeded to try and bully a Ravenclaw girl out of her seat so he could sit next to his friend. Flicking his wand, Merlin pulled the ginger haired boy away with magic and installed him in the very front at the only other open seat than one near the back. Ignoring the rude whispering from the Gryffindors for now, Merlin casually leaned on his desk and ran through attendance. 

“Now that is over with, let’s do a quick run-through of this years topics, shall we?” He said, smiling reassuringly at the Ravenclaw girl from before, who he thought was named Finley or something similar. He ran through the different areas of study, both theoretical and practical and answered some questions.

Hearing Devin muttering rude comments from his seat, he flicked a wordless silencing spell at him, knowing that taking points would only make the boy worse. “Now, how about we do a refresher on last year’s spells.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen: Harry’s POV

Reaching over, Harry took the letter from Theoden and thanked him with a mouse before sitting down to write a reply. It had been a month since Hogwarts had begun the school year and Emrys had sent him a letter every day. He opened today’s letter and began to read.

Harry,

Today was fairly normal for classes. The Devin I’ve mentioned before is still attempting to cause trouble, but he’s settled down a little when he realized I wasn’t this creepy villain his family had obviously taught him all Slytherins were. I don’t expect him to change immediately, as beliefs ingrained in you since childhood are hard to get rid of. However, he is making progress and I’m proud of him for that. Enough about my students. I hope you’ve been well. Has Teia grown again? She seems to be getting quite large from what you wrote. Anyways, take care of yourself and maybe visit Hermione? 

Your friend, 

Falco

Merlin insisted on using his alias in the letters for safety since owl mail was not secure and so they had to be careful about what they wrote. It was a little weird, but Harry could live with it. 

Fetching some parchment and a quill, he scribbled out a reply and sent it off with Theoden before collapsing into an armchair with a sigh. His cottage had been oddly lonely since the other wizard had left, something he’d never felt before when he was by himself. 

They’d arranged for him to visit the school at Samhain and he’d agreed to celebrate the traditional way with Merlin in the Room of Requirement. It had apparently been well-known during Merlin’s time at Hogwarts and had faded into legends over time. 

He stood up and stretched before wandering over to where the Horned Serpent was snoozing by the fireplace. He scooped her up and took her through to his room. Delivering Teia to her tank where she preferred to sleep at night, he got ready for bed and went to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen: Merlin’s POV

It was the day of Samhain and Merlin was ridiculously cheerful. He was finally going to see Harry again after two months and he was way too happy about it. His classes for the day kept giving him strange looks and gossiping about why their professor was so weirdly energetic. 

He changed into some slightly nicer robes for the feast and even put some effort into his hair, tying it back from his face with a ribbon. He caught himself basically primping in the mirror like a girl on a date and sighed, useless at stopping himself when he had a crush on someone. He knew that it was pointless to deny it and preferred to accept it and go on with life. This was mainly due to same-sex relationships being practically unheard of and taboo during his former life. He hadn’t fully processed that it was accepted in the time he now lived in and so continued repressing his feelings until they disappeared. Well, at least he attempted to.

Sighing, Merlin left his chambers and made the long walk to the portkey point where Harry would be arriving, the same one the staff had used. He was only there for about a minute before there was a swirling flash and Harry came stumbling out of it. Moving instinctively, Merlin caught him before he could fall.

Harry flashed him a grateful smile. “Thanks.”

Now, it wasn’t unheard of for professors to have guests at Hogwarts for holidays, but it wasn’t that common and so Merlin was sure there’d be lots of attention on them. “Don’t forget, I’m Falco.” He whispered as they made their way back inside and to the Great Hall. The house elves had been made aware of the visitor in advance so there was an extra chair at the staff table next to the Defense professor’s usual seat.

The two sat down and were immediately the recipient of many questions, including, “Who’s that?” “Is he a relative?” and his personal favorite, “Is he single?”

Then Harry looked up and they all seemed to recognise him. “Oh, Mr. Potter! How good to see you again?” “Oh, my! How did I not recognise you?” “So sorry.” The latter from the one who had asked his relationship status. 

Thankfully, Headmistress McGonagall chose this moment to start the feast and so it effectively fended off any further questions. Harry and Merlin exchanged a look but didn’t say anything, instead choosing to eat quietly. 

After everyone finished eating, Merlin told them a mostly true story about how they’d met by accident this summer while visiting Emrys Castle and had bumped into each other and become friends. He did exclude Parseltongue and all mentions of snakes because he hadn’t gotten to that point in his plan to improve the reputation of Slytherin yet.

“My first year at Hogwarts, there was a troll let into the school on Halloween.” Harry said, purposely excluding mention of Samhain. The staff who had been there at the time offered their memories of the event and the conversation soon devolved to Harry’s many escapades over the years.

The sky outside the windows was a deep blue by this time and so the feast came to an end, the students shepherded back to their houses while the staff were able to relax. Merlin led Harry to the RoR and walked back and forth, wishing for somewhere to honor Magic for Samhain. A door appeared and he opened it, finding trees swaying in a breeze and with a small fire pit in the middle of a clearing. There was also a table with place settings for the Feast of the Dead, where Merlin would honor his ancestors and long-dead friends. Occasionally, spirits were known to appear and this was counted as a blessing of good luck from Magic.

He was almost to the clearing when he realized Harry was not at his side. Turning around, he saw Harry still at the door, looking around in amazement. “I didn’t know the room could do outside places.” He said.

“Well, then you haven’t been thinking big enough.” Merlin replied with a laugh.

The younger wizard joined him in the clearing and Merlin handed him four candles to place around the fire pit, forgoing the ceremonial robes this time because of the location and not having one for Harry.

He directed the former Gryffindor to sit at the Northern point and placed himself at the Southern point. Then, he used wandless magic to light the candles clockwise and said the ritual part. A glowing light that looked almost like a door appeared above the fire and opened, allowing a stream of ghosts through. Merlin was not surprised, due to the amount of people he’d left behind who wanted the chance to converse again. Glancing over at Harry, he saw he was looking hopeful, probably to see his family again. 

It was time for the Feast and so he directed Harry over to the table now, taking a seat at one end while Harry took a seat at the other. “My apologies.” He told the ghosts. “We do not have enough seats at the table for you. However, we have more than enough food if you are willing to sit on the ground.”

The glowing shapes, not yet distinguishable as individual people, sat as one and Merlin wandlessly floating food to all of them. He and Harry would not eat but the ghosts would, the Magic of the holiday allowing them to take solid form for an evening by consuming food.

One by one, the ghosts ate and transformed, turning into familiar faces. Arthur smiled at him from nearby while Edrissa gave him a wave. His parents nodded to him, peaceful looks on their faces. Many other friends were also there and he took the time to talk with all of them.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Harry being embraced by a tall man with scars while another with unruly black hair and glasses laughed at another man’s excited jumping around, saying something about a dog. A woman with flaming red hair hugged him next, laughing too. A group of others, many children or young adults stood nearby.

“I see you have found another who takes your interest.” Said a soft voice next to him. Looking up, Merlin was surprised to see Salazar. 

“Hello, my friend and mentor.” Merlin hesitated for a second. “Have you made up with the others?” 

“Yes he has. As darling Rowena would say, eternity has no place for misunderstanding.” Came the voice of another founder, this time Helga. All three of the other founders stood behind Salazar.

“Now, what’s this about a love interest.” Godric grinned mischievously, tossing himself down carelessly on the grass next to Salazar. 

Merlin felt himself go red. “Err…”

“Emrys, it is not a bad thing to love another man.” Helga said, pulling him into an embrace. “I would hazard a guess that he might feel the same from the way he’s looking at you right now.” She wiggled her eyebrows and Merlin had to laugh. “My goodness, what has Godric been teaching you, Helga?” He couldn’t help but sneak a glance over at the other wizard though and saw him looking back, smiling. He ducked his head away, blushing.

“I promise I won’t bury it this time.” He said, smiling warmly at his four friends and former teachers. 

“Good. Now we must be going but perhaps we shall see you next year.” Rowena said, breaking her silence for the first time. She wasn’t a very talkative person normally, so Merlin didn’t take it personally.

“Farewell, all of you. I hope to see you again as well.” They all hugged briefly and then the Founders vanished back through the portal, triggering a stream of other farewells from the ghosts who followed them through the light. Once the last one had gone through, Merlin extinguished the candles and doused the fire.

Harry found his way over to him and they walked silently back to the door, both deep in their own thoughts. A brief farewell was said at the portkey point and then Harry was gone, leaving Merlin to make his way to his rooms alone. 

 

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Chapter Fifteen: Harry’s POV

The months flew by quickly and before Harry knew it, the winter holidays had come. Hermione dragged him out of the cottage to spend some time with her and they explored Muggle London. She found an ice skating rink and upon hearing that he didn’t know how to ice skate, insisted on going there with him. This was how Harry found himself wobbling along the ice like a newborn fawn, clutching tightly to Hermione with one hand and gripping the railing with the other. 

And you do this for fun? You’re crazy, ‘Mione!” He exclaimed after the third time falling down. She just laughed and skated off elegantly, making it look much easier than it was for him. Eventually, he got the hang of it and was almost as good at it as Hermione was by the time they had to go. 

Handing over his skates, Harry followed Hermione outside and they went their separate ways. Harry still needed to pack for the week he’d promised to stay at Hogwarts during the break and Hermione apparently was having dinner with a couple of friends from university. He’d already sent all of his presents off via owl except for Merlin’s, which he was going to give to him in person.

The packing itself didn’t take long. He’d never really had many possessions, a left-over habit from his childhood, so there wasn’t really anything to pack other than the essentials like clothes and toiletries.

After he had finished packing he made and ate a quick dinner before telling Teia about their vacation of sorts. The horned serpent would be coming with him and she was excited to see Merlin again. She’d grown quite a bit and was now as long as his arm span. There wouldn’t be any way of hiding her so hopefully whatever ‘Falco’ had been doing was enough that the staff and few students remaining wouldn’t go all ‘next dark lord’ ‘parseltongue is evil’ again.  Accepting the possibility of becoming Public Enemy No. 1 again, he went to bed.

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Chapter Sixteen: Merlin’s POV

The first day of winter break at Hogwarts dawned cold and frosty. Merlin shivered slightly despite his warm robes and cast a quick warming charm on himself as he stood waiting for Harry to arrive. He was also looking forward to seeing Teia again, having not seen her since the beginning of the school year.

A few other teachers were waiting around the portkey area as well and all turned to see who it was when the telltale portkey swirl appeared. A blonde witch landed firmly and Silverthorn came over and hugged her, greeting her sister happily.

The next to arrive was Harry, with Teia dangling obviously around his shoulders. Stepping forward, Merlin hissed a greeting to the snake, surreptitiously watching the reactions of the other staff. Thankfully, they were mostly looks of surprise or curiosity. Harry treated Merlin with a hug, careful not to squish Teia, who slithered onto Merlin’s shoulders and showed no signs of moving anytime soon. They went to Merlin’s chambers and got the serpent situated in her terrarium. 

Suddenly, Merlin thought of something. “I haven’t introduced you to Brian the giant squid yet! Would you like to go meet him? We’ve time before lunch.”

Harry’s face lit up. “That would be awesome!” He practically dragged the other wizard behind him as he speed-walked out to the lake, leaving Merlin scrambling to catch up and not trip. “My goodness, slow down a little would you?” He complained, but was smiling. Seeming to not have realized what he was doing, Harry released his arm with a quiet ‘oops’ and slowed his pace. 

When they did make it to the lake, Brian was obviously overjoyed to have someone new to play with, as could be seen in the enthusiastic splashing and laughter. Merlin introduced Harry to their favorite game and they spent a while out there in the water, drawing a small crowd as they did so. When Harry noticed, instead of getting upset as Merlin was worried he might, he instead smiled and waved, laughing as he was tossed through the air shortly after.

Lunch was a friendly affair, with everyone eating together at one big table in the Great Hall. Merlin found himself immersed in a lively debate about spell creation with Flitwick while Harry was having a conversation with the Muggle Studies teacher, an elderly woman named Cassie who seemed like a strong wind could blow her over. One thing in particular caught his ear. Cassie was bemoaning the fact that her health was declining and that she may have to retire soon. She also said, having shrewdly caught his knowledge on the subject while they were talking, that he’d make a fine replacement for her and that she’d put in a good word with Minerva if he wanted to have the position.

Merlin exchanged a glance with McGonagall, who seemed to be thinking along the same lines he was. Minerva leaned towards Harry. “It would be a joy to have you join our staff, Mr. Potter. You weren’t the best student while you were here, but we all know that was due to the escapades you were forced through each year and if you can test for a Muggle Studies NEWT through the Ministry, the position would be all yours. Besides, you grew up in the Muggle world, so you’re practically qualified, you just need the fancy paperwork and frills.”

“I’d really like it if you did too.” Merlin added quietly from his position next to Harry. 

“Well, I’ll look into getting a NEWT and we can see about everything else after that.” the man replied, looking a little conflicted at the idea, but overall positive about it. 

Dinner finished and the two Parselmouths retired in Merlin’s staff rooms, staying up a little late to catch up and spend time with Teia. They also conversed in depth about the job offer and what it would mean for their shared familiar. The evening ended when Harry sent off his application to the Ministry to test for the NEWT and then left to his room.

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Chapter Seventeen: Harry’s POV

It wasn’t long before Harry heard back from the Ministry, giving him the date for the test and the badge required to get him into the correct area. It was a measure that also ensured no one polyjuiced as him could take the test for him and that he wasn’t able to cheat any other way.

The test was put aside for now as Yule was rapidly approaching. The castle was decorated and laughter and snowball fights were daily occurrences. Teia had been more or less accepted as a friendly entity at this point. It helped that she was a Horned Serpent and that it was two powerful and proficient wizards caring for her who were viewed positively in the eyes of the students and staff. It was not uncommon now to walk into the Great Hall and find the snake lounging on the end of the table, eating a mouse gifted to her by one of the students. The Slytherins especially had loved her, the house practically adopting her the way they lavished her with attention. 

The day of Yule arrived, as they were celebrating it the same day as Christmas, and Merlin was awoken early by an eager serpent slithering back and forth on his face. She chattered excitedly about how the Slytherin students were all getting up early to open presents together and as such Harry and Merlin found themselves descending to the Slytherin Common Room, accompanied by the hyper snake.

Only about 10 or so Slytherins had stayed during the holidays and all of them were there, just as Teia had said. Lucy, the prefect from the gossip of the squid, noticed them first and greeted them cheerfully. 

Gifts were rapidly exchanged by the kids, wrapping paper and ribbon going everywhere as they opened their presents. Teia settled down in a nest one of the first years had made for her out of some wrapping paper, making humorous comments about this or that. For example, when one of the third years got some decorations for their pet mouse’s cage, she muttered about food for food.
Harry summoned his present for Merlin from the bottomless bag he was carrying and handed it to him, smiling a bit shyly. He hadn’t known quite what to get him and hoped that the other wizard would like what he’d eventually settled on.

Merlin stared down at the book in his hands for a second before flipping through it, eyes widening at the multitude of ingenious notes and spells created inside. “I..where did you get this? I will treasure this for the rest of my life, thank you so much. But how?”

Harry felt himself momentarily swept into the past, to a memory of Ginny telling him to close his eyes. He wrenched himself away before it could get to the memories he’d been given and circumstances in which they’d been given.. “It was my mother’s best friend. He used to teach potions here before his death during the war. I came into possession of his book and thought that you might use it better.”

Merlin thanked him again and handed over a small wrapped box. “My present for you.” 

Opening it, Harry found a stunning, intricately detailed robe like the one the other wizard had worn that summer for Litha. As he pulled it out to examine it, something small fell to the ground with a clink. 

He picked it up and found a small orb. “Wha-”

“Put it on.” Merlin instructed him. “I’ve tinkered it using some Parselmagic and found a loophole Slytherin made in the wards. I also have one. They allow you to Apparate within and in and out of Hogwarts grounds.” Harry raised an eyebrow, impressed. He put it on and felt a sighing, hissing rush of magic swirl around him before settling over him like a second skin. 

“Thank you so much.” he told the other, grinning.

By now, the students had finished opening their presents and were now watching them like the two adults were an interesting TV show. Harry took the opportunity to suggest they all get ready for breakfast and so they went off to the Great Hall, where everyone shared a cheerful meal. One young Gryffindor boy ate a stack of pancakes almost as tall as his head, his friends laughing and egging him on. Somehow, breakfast ended without any further incident and everyone vanished to enjoy their day.

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Chapter Eighteen: Merlin’s POV

The day passed quickly, flying past in a blur of cheerful smiles and friendly conversations as snow floated down outside. Dinner passed quietly and soon content settled over the school like a warm blanket, leaving Merlin and Harry to don their ceremonial robes and traverse quietly to the Room of Requirement. During the school year so far, Merlin had managed to find three students from noble families, two in Slytherin and one in Ravenclaw, who followed Magic. He had invited them to celebrate Yule along with him and Harry.

They had been guided there by a charm each that made them invisible and unnoticed while also gently tugging them in the right direction, but were waiting outside as they didn’t know how to get into the RoR. The two Slytherin fourth years, friends named Ethan and Fionn, stood quietly together, silent and unmoving, while the Ravenclaw girl, a second year named Megan, fidgeted minutely. 

At their arrival, all three straightened up and made to walk towards them but stopped when their professor began to walk back and forth three times in front of the wall. It morphed into a door and curiosity shone brightly in their eyes as they followed the two adults inside. Only one of the three had been able to get their robes but suddenly the air around the other two shimmered and they were clothed in robes, given to them by the room. This made Merlin feel kind of ridiculous, why hadn’t he thought of that at Samhain. 

This time, the room was a cosy room not unlike the Slytherin common room in basic set up and in the fireplace was a Yule log, waiting to be lit. Delicate lights were strung from the ceiling and an evergreen wreath was sitting above the fireplace. Using his wand due to the students, Merlin lit the log and the small group settled in a circle. First was the ritual part. They each summoned a sprig of holly and tossed it into the fire as an offering in respect of the Holly king as he gave up the guardianship of magic to the Oak king for the next six months. Then they all took turns writing out wishes and resolutions on parchment and floating them into the fire as well. 

The small group sat there in contemplative silence for a bit before Megan yawned, triggering a chorus of other yawns from the rest of them. Standing and stretching, Harry led the students back to the door as Merlin quickly extinguished the flames and the five of them walked quietly through the halls of the castle, footsteps muffled by their charms. After dropping each of the students off at their respective common rooms, the two wizards made their way back to their own rooms.

“Thank you again for the gifts, Emrys.” Harry said quietly, lingering in the doorway of the room he was staying in. 

“You’re welcome. And thank you for yours, Harry.” Merlin responded before disappearing into his room and preparing for bed. Even though there was no class tomorrow, the teachers still needed to be up and ready to calm the rowdy children and all that.

Before he got in bed, he sat by the window for a little while and stared up at the stars. They gleamed faintly against the velvety midnight sky and a lonely shooting star drifted past. Closing his eyes briefly, Merlin accidentally fell asleep leaning against the window.

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Chapter Nineteen: Harry’s POV

The next morning, Harry was awakened by a grumpy snake complaining about how lonely she’d been yesterday afternoon and how she demanded that they take her with them today. Raising his hands in defeat, he agreed and was allowed to get out of bed. He dressed quickly and was surprised to find Merlin was not yet awake. The other wizard was usually up before he was. Glancing at the time, he realized he’d have to wake Merlin up if they were to be on time for breakfast. 

Followed by a creepily grinning serpent, he opened the door and stuck his head in. There, slumped against the window, was Merlin. Harry felt a sudden urge to coo at him and scold him. He had to be freezing and so Harry grabbed a blanket or two from the bed as he went over to the window seat. 

Teia wasted no time in slithering up his arm and onto the other’s head before poking Merlin repeatedly in the nose with her tail. He startled awake and squinted up at Harry, who suddenly had a random urge to squish his cheeks. Blinking at the wizard, he managed not to blush and instead distracted himself by saying, “Breakfast is soon and you weren’t up so I came to wake you. You must be really cold from sleeping by the window so here’s a blanket.” Merlin took the blanket and pulled it around him, mumbling thanks. 

Days flew by quickly and before Harry knew it, it was the day before he was due to take his NEWT at the Ministry. He blockaded himself in his room and spent the day and most of the evening studying before Merlin put his foot and forced him to have some dinner and go to sleep. The older wizard sighed and shook his head as he was chased around the living room by Teia in retaliation. The serpent finally caught him and wound between his legs, trapping him, cackling evilly all the while. “I am invincible!” The young snake hissed. Harry watched in amusement as Merlin bribed the Horned Serpent with a mouse before heading off to sleep. He didn’t want to be running on only a few hours of sleep tomorrow for the test.

The next day, Harry woke up early and dressed in some nicer robes he’d brought with him after a quick visit to his cottage after it became clear that he would be extending his stay at the castle. Merlin and Teia wished him luck and then he was off through a portkey to the Ministry. The main atrium was bustling with wixen, from pompous looking officials to frazzled looking assistants to hurrying visitors late for their appointments.

He walked towards the visitors desk and waited for a little while in line before it was his turn to go. He showed his letter and badge to the wizard and was ushered through into the secure area for independent NEWTS and Mastery tests. He was the only one taking the Muggle Studies NEWT today and it felt a little intimidating to be alone in the large room with only the Master overseeing the exam with him. 

The test itself was long, but Harry found it was a breeze after studying combined with his acquired knowledge from his muggle childhood. He took the time to make sure his handwriting was legible and reviewed a couple of the answers he was unsure on before turning in his test to the Master, whose face was unreadable. He retraced his steps through the Ministry to the portkey arrival chamber and with a quick motion and murmured ‘Abraxan’ he was whirled away through the air and back to Hogwarts, where Merlin and Teia were waiting.

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Chapter Twenty: Merlin’s POV

While Harry was away at the Ministry, Merlin had been thinking. Classes had started back up, but it was the weekend and so he thought it might be fun to go down to Salazar’s secret chamber with the other wizard when he returned. According to Harry, he hadn’t been down there since his second year, although his two friends Hermione and Ron had been down there briefly before the end of the war in order to collect the basilisk fangs to destroy horcruxes with. 

When Harry returned, Merlin asked, “Harry, would you like to go down to the Chamber of Secrets? I suspect Salazar left some hidden journals and such and it would be fun to explore.”

The other wizard agreed enthusiastically enough and so the duo made their way to the girls bathroom. Merlin had to laugh at the look that would be on Salazar’s face if he found his personal chambers were now only accessible through a girl’s bathroom. Harry hissed ‘Open’ and the tunnel rumbled into appearance. Peering into the gloomy darkness, Merlin thought that Salazar must have stairs. There was no way the dignified wizard would stoop to sliding down a sewage pipe. A quick ‘Stairs’ and a second later and the two found themselves descended into the tunnel via a spiral staircase. 

When they made it into the main chamber that Harry had been in before, Merlin was surprised to find that there was no rotting basilisk corpse left. Not even bones remained. Dipping briefly into his magic sight, he discovered that the imbued magic of Hogwarts had transported the bones to the Room of Requirement’s storage room. He relayed this to Harry, who looked relieved that there wasn’t a giant predator lurking or whatever he was thinking of. 

Taking a moment to observe the room, he noted there were tall pillars with carved wooden snakes preserved by powerful charms winding around them. There appeared to have been shallows pools at one time, but the floor had since been flooded. His eyes caught on the large and very unlike Salazar to install statue and narrowed his eyes. Only people who had known Slytherin personally would be able to figure this out, very clever. He approached the face and hissed ‘I speak’. There was a moment of nothing before the mouth slowly opened up, revealing a dry, magically-lit passage behind it.

He climbed carefully up and into the tunnel, pausing to help Harry up over the edge of the mouth. They made their way down the passage and through another parsel-locked door before they finally emerged into Salazar’s chambers. They found themselves in a warmly lit room in various shades of green and silver with bookshelves lining the walls, nearly collapsing under the weight of so many books, which looked to be well preserved. 

A cautious rummage through the closest books turned up a set of potion journals and half-finished spells with hasty notes scribbled in the margins. There was also a large collection of snake related books, from basilisk care guides to an identification book on different types of snakes. 

He looked up from his search to find that Harry had vanished. Panic welled up in him and he forced himself to calm down before looking around. There was another door in the corner and unless Harry had gone back out to the tunnel then he must have gone that way. Merlin peered around the corner of the door which was ajar and found Harry sitting on the floor of a mostly empty room. He went in and saw that the object of the other wizard’s attention was an egg, more specifically what appeared to be a basilisk egg.

Harry looked up when he came in and grinned hopefully. “We’ve already acquired a Horned Serpent, what’s a baby Basilisk? I think I saw some care guides in the main study too…”

Merlin felt a strong urge to face-palm and question everything. What was it Hermione had said again? ‘Only Harry’ could have such things happen to him? It certainly applied in this situation.

“It must be a true basilisk, like the one you had to kill. The strange method of creating them didn’t become viable until much more recently. It appears to be in stasis but speaking Parcel to it would help it to hatch.” Merlin said after a moment.

“Does that mean we can keep it?” Harry said, clearly excited. With what could only be described as a long-suffering sigh, Merlin nodded. 

“Yes!” Harry hugged Merlin and ran off with the basilisk egg, seemingly reverted back to a childlike state in his excitement. Merlin stared after him, blushing slightly. He couldn’t help but think how warm and nice the hug had been and that he’d like doing that more often.

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Chapter Twenty One: Harry’s POV

It was around the end of January when Harry got his NEWT results back. It was dropped off by an owl in the Great Hall at breakfast, so naturally all the staff crowded around and waited in anticipation for the results. He slowly opened the envelope, laughing a little as everyone leaned slightly closer. Reading through it quickly, he grinned. Outstanding. There was also a little note from the Master who had overseen the test congratulating him on having gotten a perfect score, the number of which would already be rare enough but with the decline of the quality of the teaching of the subject during Harry’s time at Hogwarts, he was the first to get a perfect score on the Muggle Studies NEWT since Percy Weasley.

Merlin took the paper from him as he was busy reading the note and announced that he’d gotten a perfect score, which got cheers from teachers and students alike. Harry let out a fond sigh and nodded to McGonagall at her inquisitive look. He’d start working on the application this evening. Cassie patted his hand and congratulated him, passing him a lengthy recommendation paper that he was fairly sure she’d written as soon as he’d agreed to take the NEWT.

The rest of the day was spent sitting in his room and filling out the large packet required to apply for the position with Teia keeping him company and occasionally slithering off to check on the basilisk egg. She’d been surprised but happy when the two wizards had returned from the Chamber of Secrets and spent a lot of time hissing snake stories to it, what its egglayer would have done if it had still been alive. She was more than happy to take on the role and couldn’t wait for her new brother or sister, as Harry had called it.

By the time Merlin came back to the rooms to get Harry for dinner, the only thing left for him to do was attach the letter of recommendation and the NEWT score copy. He did that quickly and then took the packet with him to dinner, knowing McGonagall wouldn’t mind as long as he gave it to her before they started eating. Dinner conversation that evening was full of friendly chatter and jokes about Harry as a teacher along with Cassie asking for recommendations for vacation locations.

The evening ended with Merlin and Harry helping Teia with the nest she was creating for the hatching of the basilisk. The two wizards had done quite a bit of research and so felt prepared for almost everything they could think of while Teia could help with the rest.