Albus clutched the letter in his trembling hands, face ashen as he read its contents. It had arrived earlier in the day and only now had he found the time to open it.
It was from Garrick Ollivander, and he expected it to be about Voldemort's brother wand, the one holding Fawkes' second feather. He hadn't been wrong.
The contents however, shook him to the very core. He'd mused that Voldemort's brother wand would most likely choose Harry Potter due to the prophecy surrounding the two, and he had been correct. Except...
The holly had rejected Harry, and instead been replaced by yew… just like Tom Riddle, like Voldemort. The boy's wand was frighteningly similar, both in components and rigidity. Unyielding is what Garrick had said. Albus drew a deep, unsettled breath and closed his eyes.
Whenever he saw Harry in the Great Hall, he felt like he was seeing a ghost, or perhaps a memory of the past.
The child was well liked, charming, intelligent and powerful. The teachers sang his praises whenever he asked how the first years were faring.
Even Severus, a man he had expected to loathe the boy, didn't have anything particularly bad to say despite all his sneers. He called the child adequate, which was in fact high praise when James' son was concerned.
The staff meeting being held at the end of the first school week had been enlightening as well as deeply unsettling for the old headmaster. He had feared for the boy when he was placed in Slytherin, assuming that he would be vastly unprepared for what would be expected of him in the house full of traditionalists.
But Albus had been wrong. Harry fit in just fine, more than fine if truth be told. He appeared more stable and confident than the old headmaster had planned for. He had hoped for a child who was unsure of his place in their society, who would leap at the chance for some positive reinforcement and guidance by the right people, not a highly intelligent boy who charmed everyone around him.
All was not lost, of course not, but his previous plans would have to be altered. Harry was not going to act the way he had planned, no matter how much he might wish it. Pushing him in the same way would only drive him further away, and it was imperative that he gained the boy's trust.
He worried about the remnants of Dark magic still left in the boy's scar. Although he hadn't been in a position to check the scar since that fateful Halloween years back, he wondered if it might have influenced Harry more than he first thought. For who knew what kind of unspeakable magic Voldemort had performed in his final years of the war.
Was the boy being possessed? There was a chance, however small. But if so… He hardly imagined Lord Voldemort would have accepted living with muggles for so many years, unkind ones at that.
Because Albus wasn't blind to Petunia's dislike of magic, but the protection the blood wards provided was worth it in his mind. Harry might not have grown up particularly happy, but at least he was safe.
He worried so much that the past was repeating itself. Was he looking upon the next Dark Lord? Or was this just his own paranoia? Albus sighed deeply and looked down at the letter. There were so many similarities that he struggled to see the differences. Tom Riddle had also been charming and beloved by his teachers, well, by all but Albus himself.
There was a seemingly budding friendship between Harry and Neville Longbottom, and Albus didn't know if he should be happy or despair. Even though Neville's grandmother Augusta was a traditionalist, she was also a part of the Light faction politically. It would be good for Harry to have a friend like that.
His concerns on the matter didn't stem from that, but rather the fact that Neville had been the second child the prophecy could have spoken about. Was their friendship a farce orchestrated by Voldemort himself? No… no he shouldn't think like that.
Harry was not Tom. He was not Voldemort. Albus tried to convince himself of that but in the end, he didn't know if he succeeded.
The weekend couldn't come fast enough for Harry. Although he wouldn't be able to slip away from Hogwarts during the day, he was at least spared the droll repetition of having to attend classes. For that very reason, Harry's mood was considerably lighter.
He finished buttoning his grey waistcoat over a black silk shirt and tightened his green and silver tie. Seeing as it was Saturday he didn't have to wear the school uniform, that didn't mean he immediately dressed like a street urchin. He'd had enough years wearing Dudley's oversized cast-offs to last several lifetimes.
When Draco approached him, he'd just slung his satchel around his shoulder and was about to leave the dorm and head for breakfast.
"Potter… can we… start over?" The young boy gritted out, his face looking astoundingly pinched.
Harry studied the Malfoy heir in silence. The other boys in their dorm were still asleep, curtains drawn shut around their beds since it was the weekend. Harry was an early riser and Draco must have gotten up just for this conversation, he wasn't even out of his pyjamas.
"Certainly, heir Malfoy." Harry said, watching as the boy's shoulders lowered with relief.
"As soon as I get an apology and a public acknowledgement as the Black heir." Harry finished, enjoying how the relief immediately transformed into tense anger.
Draco was so prickly. He had been spoiled rotten by both his parents growing up and it clearly showed in the way he interacted with his peers. Narcissa and Lucius had done him no favours.
"The apology does not have to be made in public but the acknowledgement will. The Slytherin common room sometime after dinner will suffice." Harry said, clarifying his conditions nonchalantly.
What Harry demanded of him right now was in fact rather mild for the snub he had received on their first night.
The blonde boy clenched his fist and was severely struggling to get his emotions under control. Harry could tell that he was trying to emulate his father but failing badly. Draco still had a few years of personal growth ahead of him before he could successfully pull off anything remotely similar to Lucius Malfoy.
Harry eventually had enough of the silence and turned around, continuing towards the door. The apology didn't have to come right now, Harry was patient, this was more of a social exercise for Draco than it was for Harry's own sake. It wasn't like Malfoy's snub had actually offended him.
"I'm sorry!" Draco blurted out before Harry could lay his hand on the door handle. There was a deep intake of air before the boy continued.
"Heir Potter-Black, please accept my humble apology for my past transgressions, it won't happen again." Draco said, the words sounding rushed and slightly pained.
It was abundantly clear that Draco didn't honestly mean what he said, but that was fine. Harry knew that the reason Draco reached out so soon, before having properly come to terms with the facts on his own, was due to his mother or father pushing him to make amends.
The Black family still held much power in certain circles, and Harry would end up with all of that one day. It was no wonder Draco's parents wanted to wiggle their way closer to him. He knew them both well enough to realise that Lucius wanted a close relationship between their families whereas Narcissa probably plotted ways to snatch the Black inheritance.
Harry was of the firm belief that Draco would have managed to mend the gap between them on his own eventually, once he realised that making an enemy out of Harry was not something that was in his best interest. But now he had been robbed of that opportunity.
"I accept your apology, heir Malfoy." Harry replied, giving the boy an encouraging smile.
"I hope we can move forward without any enmity." Harry continued, holding out his hand for a shake.
There was a temporary truce formed between them and Harry felt rather pleased. Draco not actively ignoring him would make his life simpler.
They settled their agreement with a firm handshake. Harry offered Draco to join him for breakfast but it was too early. Now that he'd gotten Harry's forgiveness, at least partially, the blonde boy crawled back into bed for a few more hours of sleep.
Breakfast was a rather solitary affair for Harry. Not many were awake that early on a Saturday morning, and those that were didn't deign to speak with him anyway. But that was fine. Harry wasn't a child starved for attention and approval this time around.
He ate in comfortable silence, finishing the last of his tea before he left for the library. Madam Pince, the librarian, looked as pinched as ever, giving him a stern glare as he quietly walked up to her desk.
"Professor Quirrell told me to give this to you ma'am." Harry said with a soft smile, handing over the teacher's note.
The librarian narrowed her eyes at the parchment but didn't comment on his new reading material, only caring whether the note was genuine or not. She tapped it once with her wand and seemed satisfied.
"Wait here Mr Potter." Her voice was just as stern, if not more than professor McGonagall's. The library was her domain and she seemed to know everything that went on in there.
A minute or two later, Madam Pince returned, arms laden with three books of various thicknesses. The bigoted geneaology book was by far the largest one, and Harry did not plan on reading it again, once was definitely enough.
"Return the books within two months in the same condition you got them in. Do not damage the books in any way, you will not like the consequences." Her dark eyes were as intense as Snape's, promising unpleasantness should he disregard her rules.
"In addition you are not to share the books with any other student, the permission is for you, and you only."
Harry nodded with a solemn expression, promising he would take good care of the books. The librarian didn't look like she fully believed him, but let him leave with her precious books nonetheless.
He found a quiet and secluded area of the library, hidden deep in the runes section. He didn't plan on reading his new books out in the open, that would only be silly of him, no they were to be saved for later. Instead he walked along the aisles, pulling out a few books on Sumerian runes and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Hogwarts' vast library was one of the major pulls for staying as a student. There was so much knowledge stored in the seemingly endless expanse of books, scrolls and tomes.
Harry became engrossed with the fascinating theory, tuning out his surroundings for the time being. Regulus read over his shoulder, hovering behind him. They kept going like that until the book had been read cover to cover.
Five hours had passed and Harry nearly startled when he noticed the time. His stomach growled unhappily at being ignored. He wondered if he had enough time to reach lunch before the food was whisked away by the elves, but decided that he might as well just stay in the library.
He had some edibles hidden away in his satchel that he could wolf down before Madam Pince noticed. She had eyes like a hawk and ears like a bat. Somehow she always seemed to know when someone was breaking the rules inside the library.
A few handfuls of various nuts later, and Harry was ready to get his homework out of the way. It was ridiculously boring but he might as well do it now.
He dug a notebook and fountain pen out of his satchel and began drafting an essay on the properties of porcupine quills for his Potions homework. Even though he didn't technically need his textbook to be able to write the essay, he'd brought it out just for show.
"Your friend, Neville, is on his way over here." Regulus announced all of a sudden.
Harry looked up from his notes, and sure enough, his Herbology-loving friend was quickly trudging over to his quiet little area.
Neville was red in the face from exertion and he plopped ungracefully down into the nearest chair, breath coming in deep gasps.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked, frowning.
Neville needed a few seconds to catch his breath before he answered.
"I've been l-looking all over the castle for you." He answered, making Harry's eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
"I ch-checked the library first but couldn't find you, so I asked an older S-Slytherin if he knew where you were, but he just s-sneered at me and told me to get lost."
"That was rather brave of you." Harry praised with a gentle smile. "I'm sorry you didn't find me sooner, I should have sat down in a different section of the library."
Neville shook his head and returned the smile. "It's alright. It wasn't your fault."
"Do you want to study with me?" Harry asked.
The boy nodded and got his own books, quills and parchment out of his bag. Harry helped Neville understand the theory as best as he could, encouraging the boy whenever appropriate.
"How did you find Ollivander's? I don't know if I told you, but a wand actually burned up in my hand!" Harry said with a chuckle. He wanted to get Neville thinking about his own wand and the fact that it didn't belong with him.
Neville's eyes were wide with surprise. "It burned?"
Harry nodded and unsheathed his wand, holding it out for Neville to have a look.
"It burned because the wood did not resonate with my magic whereas the core did. Mr Ollivander said that it happens sometimes when the core bonds to their new owner but the wood simply isn't compatible." Harry explained.
By then, Neville was frowning. "Your wand is supposed to bond to you?" He bit his bottom lip nervously, thinking about the wand in his pocket that he could hardly feel at all.
Harry nodded with enthusiasm. "It's wonderful! It feels like… like warmth, like belonging. None of the other wands felt anything remotely like that, I could hardly do anything magical with them. It wasn't until I got to hold this wand that I knew what I had been missing. It feels like a part of you, like a friend who'll always stand by your side." He smiled softly as he ran his finger over the dark wood.
"Mr Ollivander said that the wand chooses the wizard, and I think I understand what he meant. I doubt I would be able to perform my spells with your wand because it hasn't chosen me. It's loyalty lies with you and no one else. But enough about my experiences, how about you? How did it go when you got your wand?" Harry asked, looking at Neville with wide and curious eyes.
Neville fiddled with the hem of his robe, muttering something under his breath.
"Pardon? I didn't quite catch that." Harry said, blinking slowly, not able to make sense of the boy's quiet mumbling.
Neville took a deep breath. "I s-said that I d-didn't go to O-Ollivander's." He didn't look up.
"Oh… did you go to one of Gregorovitch's shops overseas?" Harry queried. Neville shook his head.
"Well… where did you get your wand then?" He asked, lacing his voice with baffled curiosity.
"My n-nan gave it to me. S-s-said that it used to belong to my...my d-dad." Neville's voice was but a whisper.
"Really? That can't be right… isn't your dad… well, alive? It sounds like the wand is still bonded to him. No wonder you've been having trouble with your Defence spells."
"H-how did you know?" The other boy asked, looking at Harry with wide eyes.
Harry smiled gently at his nervous friend. "During my first trip to the library I looked up some old editions of the Daily Prophet. I wished to know more about what happened to my parents, and… well… I wanted to see some pictures of them if possible. I don't have any of my own…" Which wasn't entirely a lie. He didn't own any pictures of his parents, as adults that is, but that was because he could see and talk to them whenever he wished.
"There was another article… about, well… your parents. I didn't mention it because I was afraid of upsetting you." Harry softly said.
"Oh…" Neville drew a deep breath. "It's okay. I'm n-not ashamed of th-them or anything. I just…" he trailed off, looking forlorn.
"Don't like talking about it?" Harry finished for him, gently patting his shoulder. "That's okay, you know."
The two children lapsed into silence. Harry returned to his homework to give Neville some privacy. Eventually the Hufflepuff followed his lead and they both scribbled away on their parchment.
They kept going until it was time for dinner, getting a large chunk of homework out of the way. While they were packing their things away, Harry touched upon the subject of Neville's wand again.
"You should speak to your Head of House about your wand. I know your grandmother probably wants you to use your father's wand as a way to honour his memory, but it is destroying your education. As long as he is alive you will not be able to use it. And even if he were to pass away, that is no guarantee that it would be suitable for you. Please talk to professor Sprout about visiting Ollivander's. I hear they even have a branch here in Hogsmeade."
"I-I'll think about it." Neville murmured with apprehension, but nonetheless smiled.
Dinner was definitely a louder affair than breakfast had been. That wasn't to say that the Slytherin table was rowdy, not at all, but there were hundreds of students within the Great Hall, the sounds combined added up.
Theo asked him where he had been all day and Harry answered truthfully, saying he had been studying with Neville Longbottom in the library.
The look he got was one of incomprehension. He swore he could see the cogs turning in Theo's head, trying to figure out what he'd gain from spending time with Neville who was both shy and seemingly useless in classes. Harry knew the other boy wouldn't believe him if he told the truth, that he wanted to help Neville just because he could. After all, it wasn't considered a very Slytherin approach.
Harry and Theo were soon joined by Millicent Bullstrode for dinner, and the three of them chatted amicably about classes and their excitement for the next flying class. Well, Harry and Bullstrode did. Theo was not very fond of flying in general, however, he did enjoy watching Quidditch, surprising Harry entirely when he proclaimed his fervent support of the Falmouth Falcons.
He watched with some shock as the usually well behaved children sniped at each other and their preferred Quidditch team. Bullstrode loved the Holyhead Harpies on a scale similar to Ron's obsession with the Chudley Cannons, and from the way she talked about Gwenog Jones, the Holyhead captain, Harry thought she might have quite the celebrity crush.
After dinner, the two boys and Millicent, as she had asked to be called once the heated discussion had calmed down, left the Great Hall together, heading to the Slytherin common room for a round of wizarding card games.
Harry had nearly forgotten about Draco and his promise of making amends, and so it almost took him by surprise when the blonde boy walked up to him with a determined expression as soon as they entered the common room.
The entire atmosphere in the room changed, becoming charged with curiosity and anticipation. It hadn't escaped the older students' notice how the Malfoy heir had entirely ignored Harry for their first week. That he was stepping up to him now, probably with the intent of 'putting him in his rightful place', riled up the students whose families had followed Voldemort like a drop of blood amidst sharks. There were dark grins and satisfied smirks all around.
"Potter." Draco greeted with a curt nod.
"The Malfoy family formally recognises your claim as heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black. On behalf of my family I, as the Malfoy heir, would like to extend my condolences for the loss of your Head of House last spring." Draco proclaimed, voice loud enough to be heard by most without being shouted.
"Thank you, heir Malfoy. Although I never met the departed Arcturus Black, I am deeply honoured that he allowed me to one day help the family of my grandmother Dorea flourish." Harry formally replied, shaking Draco's offered hand.
The room was so quiet one could hear a pin drop. That had definitely not been the interaction they had expected.
"You filthy half-blood! How dare you pretend to claim the Black name?!" Ambry Dolohov snarled from within the crowd.
He was a sixth year student with ties to the Black family through his grandfather, and took great offence to Draco's revelation. Although his grandfather wasn't from the main branch, and in fact fell rather far out in the minor branches, he still held much pride in his family ties.
Dolohov's father had been a devout Death Eater that ended up killed in the war, and his hatred for Harry, and everything he supposedly stood for, was therefore great.
"I've had enough of your lies and dirty blood! You have no right to such a prestigious House!" Dolohov growled with livid rage, and before his friend could stop him, he brandished his wand and fired a spell that glowed a sickly yellow colour.
As soon as Dolohov stepped forward with his wand raised, Harry forcefully Banished Draco out of the spell's trajectory and into the gathered crowd.
Without missing a beat, he fluidly moved out of the way of the Bone Breaking curse that was heading straight for his head. If it had hit, his skull would have cracked open like a melon, not a particularly nice way to go. It said something that Dolohov's first spell was cast with the intention of lethality.
"That was rather rude don't you think?" Harry calmly said, appearing largely unconcerned about the gruesome death he'd almost faced.
"If you wanted to challenge me officially, all you had to do was ask." Harry's smile was flat but his eyes gleamed with dark amusement.
"So, is this a challenge then? Because if so, I accept." He continued.
As a general rule, he didn't harm children, but Dolohov had cast first, with deadly intent one might add, that demanded action. The boy was almost an adult in the eyes of wizarding society, for him to try and harm a supposedly eleven year old child was not acceptable.
This wasn't the first time he had tried either. Harry had noticed how Dolohov on several occasions had attempted to hex him in the back over the past week, but none of the spells were as bad as what he'd just tried to pull off.
He wasn't the only one displeased with Harry's sorting of course, nor the only one who'd attempted to bully him, but this took everything a step further than Harry was willing to allow.
The students had pulled away from the two combatants, forming a wide circle around him and Dolohov, not willing to interfere or get in the way of any stray curses.
Dolohov shouted expletives and incoherent bigotry in a fashion similar to Bellatrix Lestrange, and if not for his dark eyes and light brown hair, he could almost have passed as her son, or perhaps a first cousin.
Harry gracefully sidestepped every curse flung at him, silently mocking Dolohov with his complete ease and disinterest. But eventually it had to end. He tired quickly of their little game.
With quick strides he slipped past the boy's defences, casting a murmured spell at him with his yew wand.
A whip-like rope shot out of Harry's wand, wrapping tightly around Dolohov's arms, binding them together. Harry yanked hard, bringing the teenager to his knees in a fraction of a second.
Dolohov's grip on his wand loosened, and as he made contact with the floor, so did his wand. In just a few short seconds, Harry had successfully disarmed a sixth year student with minimal effort.
Of course, that wasn't as big a feat as it probably came across as. Harry was a war veteran, not a clueless eleven year-old.
However, not once did he cast a spell above the third year curriculum. He was fine with being seen as a prodigy who studied hard, but anything more was too revealing at this point in time. He had to keep his cards close to the chest.
Harry pressed his wand firmly into Dolohov's throat.
"Do you yield?" He asked in a cold and detached manner, sending shivers up some of the assembled students' backs.
Dolohov swallowed hard, Adam's apple bobbing uncomfortably under the wand. He was utterly defenceless and intelligent enough to realise that.
"Fuck off Potter!" He snarled, but it was with less fervor than earlier, clearly feeling unsettled about the unusual situation.
"Do. You. Yield?" Harry continued, punctuating each word.
The conjured rope from his Incarcerous tightened at his mental command, and like a constrictor they wound tighter and tighter around their victim.
Harry wasn't above using physical punishment to get his point across, and the scream that pierced the air when Dolohov's wrists snapped, echoed through the quiet common room.
It was a warning, a promise. Henry Potter was not easy prey.
For some, their hatred of Britain's saviour only grew in that moment, but the message was still clear in their minds. If they wanted revenge they would have to be cleverer than Dolohov's brutish ways. They didn't know his true potential, and that was something they would have to puzzle out before they tried anything again.
For others, there was now an air of wariness and respect for the tiny slip of a first year. The amount of hexes aimed at his back would most likely lessen significantly in the near future.
"YIELD, I Y-YIELD!" Dolohov shouted through painful moans, his face red and splotchy with tears and snot.
"Very well. Please refrain from bothering me again in the future." Harry softly replied, a mockingly kind smile gracing his lips.
Green eyes quickly scanned the crowd until he found the person he had been looking for. She had stationed herself next to the first years for protection, making sure none of Dolohov's spells hit them, either by accident or intention.
"Miss Farley, I think Dolohov might need to see Madam Pomfrey. Perhaps someone should help him to the hospital wing?" Harry asked, voice dripping with feigned concern.
The prefect eyed Harry with intense calculation. The suggestion wasn't anything she wouldn't have arranged on her own and so, she gave him a curt nod in acquiesce.
"Rogers, Hartland! Take your friend to see the matron. You know the rules." Her tone was stern, leaving no room for arguments.
The two boys quickly ran over to their crying friend, helping him to his feet as they guided him through the common room entrance.
Dolohov's hands were sticking out at odd angles after the conjured ropes vanished, and if one looked at his right wrist, one could see bone poking through the skin in a nauseating way. Blood seeped out of the open wound, leaving a trail of red drops following the three teenagers as they escaped.
Both of Dolohov's wrists had been broken in a mocking imitation of the Bone Breaking curse he had sent at Harry at the start of the duel. The curse meant for Harry wasn't so kind as to just snap bones in two, no, it shattered and splintered the bones it hit. In comparison, the clean breaks Harry had performed was a kindness. Madam Pomfrey would have him fixed up right as rain before curfew.
The room still felt tense and awkward, so very few wanted to remain. Slowly, the students dispersed. Some escaped the common room entirely, leaving for the library or various courtyards outside, while others went to their dorms for an early night.
Only a small collection of older students, and strangely enough, first years, stayed behind. Draco was one of those.
"You saved me…" Draco shakily said, face entirely drained of colour, making him look reminiscent of the spirits Harry summoned.
"I did. Although the spell wasn't intended for you, I have no doubt Dolohov would have hit you by accident. I'd rather not have a murder on my conscience this early in life." He replied lightly, giving Draco a wry grin.
Regulus snorted indignantly in the background.
"I swear I had no idea he would react like that!" Draco blurted out looking both guilty and worried, clearly concerned about Harry's reaction.
"I know." Harry's smile was warm and comforting as he patted Draco gently on the shoulder. The boy nearly slumped with relief.
"Millicent, Theo and I were going to play some card games, you're welcome to join us if you'd like." Harry graciously offered, knowing very well that Draco was as good as incorporated into his little group of ducklings that he'd taken under his wing.
They all had so much potential, who knew what they'd one day achieve with someone helping them along the way.
Harry looked back to where Millicent and Theo had been at the start of everything. Both were pale-faced but out of the two of them, Theo looked the worse for wear. His eyes were sightlessly glued to the bloodied floor and he appeared to be trembling just slightly.
"Theo? Are you alright?" Harry asked, a feeling of concern pooling in his gut, that reaction wasn't normal.
Theo wore a pained expression and it took only fractions of a second for Harry to recognise what was going on. Theo was having either a flashback or a panic attack, possibly both.
Exactly what had been the trigger, or what the boy had experienced in the past, Harry did not know. But he was all too familiar with reliving old trauma. Slowly he closed the distance between them, making no sudden movements or noises.
Theo's breath came in sharp little gasps, bordering on hyperventilation. Harry stopped a small distance away from him and pulled a round, crystal phial out of the side pocket of his satchel.
"Theo, drink this for me, it will make everything better." He promised in a soothing manner, holding the phial out for Theo to take.
It took a few seconds, but he thankfully listened and gulped down the potion without hesitation, surprisingly enough. The Calming draught took immediate effect and Theo's breathing evened out and his face gained some of the colour it had lost.
"Do you still want to play cards with me?" Harry asked, deciding to ignore the episode for now. He would do some digging to find out what it was all about, but not that very moment.
"I… no. I think I'm just gonna go to bed." Theo replied weakly.
"Okay. Well, we'll be here if you change your mind." Before the boy could leave, Harry shoved an entire bar of chocolate into Theo's unsuspecting hands. "Sleep well."
"Uh, thanks." Theo mumbled, clutching the wrapped up chocolate like a lifeline as he made his way to their dorm.
"Anyone else want to play cards?" Harry asked the remaining first years.
Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis were just about the only ones not there. Crabbe and Goyle hung around Draco at all times so they merely shrugged at Harry's offer. Pansy Parkinson and Lily Moon on the other hand looked more sceptical, but with a gaze thrown in Draco's direction and seeing that he was all too happy to join, they too complied.
With the common room being nearly empty, they easily found a place large enough for all of them to sit. Harry took one of the armchairs while the others spread out in the remaining chairs and sofas around the table.
He dug a pack of cards out of his bag and let them magically shuffle themselves. They were enchanted that way, so it wasn't particularly impressive. When it was done, he handed out cards to all that wanted to play.
Crabbe and Goyle had opted out and instead just wanted to watch. Moon likewise shook her head when offered cards, preferring just to stay for the company.
They were in the middle of a round of Snaps and Dragons when the fifth year prefect approached them.
"So, Potter, you fought Dolohov and won." Farley casually pointed out as she took a seat next to the group of first years.
"I suppose I did." Harry replied with just the tiniest of smirks.
"Do you have any idea what that actually means?" She continued without missing a beat, eying him with close scrutiny.
Harry blinked slowly as he looked up from his rather abysmal hand of cards.
"Pardon?" He questioned, a frown finding its way onto his face. He didn't think winning a duel with Dolohov meant anything but… well… winning, and perhaps getting a slightly better reputation within Slytherin.
"You are infuriatingly thick for someone so clever." Regulus grumbled in the background, but Harry was well versed in ignoring him and his sarcastic quips by now and didn't pay it any mind.
"I don't think I'm quite following." Harry said, looking directly at Farley now.
She raised an eyebrow but didn't seem surprised. "Thought so." She muttered before letting out a tired sigh.
"Well, Potter, it seems you've somehow found your way into the Court. Do you even know what that is?" Farley asked in exasperation.
Harry blinked, opened his mouth, closed it and opened it again, like a fish out of water. "I'm sorry, I did what?"
That couldn't be right… becoming part of the Court was supposed to be difficult, not something he did by bloody accident of all things! No wonder Regulus had been so happy after he won that duel.
"When you brought up the formality of the challenge, you made it official. Your intention might not have been to take Dolohov's place in the Court, but the moment you won the duel, indisputably I might add, you replaced him." Farley patiently explained.
The other first years stared at him with open shock. Harry could fully understand their surprise because he felt the same way.
"Can a first year even be in the Court?" Harry asked weakly, wondering how this would change things.
"I can't say it happens often, but there are definitely no rules prohibiting it. Usually first years just aren't… magically powerful enough to outmatch the older students." And at that she gave him a sharp look, for clearly he had enough magical power to force his way into the Court.
"Is there anything special I will have to do now?" Harry queried. He knew how the Court had operated in Tom's era thanks to Abraxas, and Regulus had informed him of his own school days, but that didn't necessarily mean that things were still the same.
"There will be a meeting tomorrow to introduce you to the rest of the Court and explain your responsibilities. You can expect a note during breakfast for a time and place." Farley made to get up before she remembered her last piece of advice.
"You will find that there are going to be no more attempts at hexing your back in the hallways or common room. Being in the Court provides some extra… protection, if you will. However you might find yourself with official challenges, so I'd recommend reading up on your spell repertoire and practice as much as you can." She gave him a pat on the shoulder and Harry had to force himself not to flinch, he still hated being touched without permission.
"You have great potential, Potter. Keep this up and you'll go far."
"Thank you for the advice, prefect Farley." Harry plastered on a fake smile that certainly fooled the girl.
She left Harry and the rest of the first years to their little games. They played a few more rounds of cards, using the sweets Harry provided as gambling tokens. All in all it was great fun. He vaguely wondered where Blaise was since he hadn't seen him all day, but didn't give it much thought. He wasn't the boy's mother
Later, when he noticed Crabbe starting to yawn, he decided to call it a night. Harry was eager to go home to his island where he could tell Sirius and his grandfather all about the eventful evening he'd had. In addition, he had a certain snooping beetle to contact for a sensationally revealing interview.