Chapter 20 - The DADA Teacher
When Harry thinks back to his second year at Hogwarts, he remembers being a pariah. Now, he knows if he ever looks back on his fourth year, he's going to remember the exact opposite. Dumbledore is in the middle of his opening announcements, but nobody seems to really be listening or paying him any attention. Instead, nearly every eye among the student tables is locked on Harry, Garth, and Tula—and no small amount of attention on Egg, who is sitting on Harry's shoulder, either—as they walk around the outside of the Great Hall to reach the Gryffindor table.
What is most obvious is how many people who have never bothered getting to know him before are suddenly waving and smiling at him like he's always been their best friend. Conversely, people that Harry has always liked and gotten along with look suddenly shy, as if he's now a completely different person than he was at the end of last term.
Students like Michael Corner—who Harry has never particularly liked—are waving at Harry and beckoning him over, despite not being of the same house and having never actually had anything even close to an agreeable conversation. At the Hufflepuff table, most of whom he's always gotten along with rather well, students are looking at him as though he's sprouted a second head and couldn't possibly be the same person he was in third year.
Face pink and feeling awkward, Harry gives them all a small wave before he reaches the Gryffindor table. Ron and Hermione are sitting at the far end, though, so Harry still has to walk past the majority of Gryffindor house, enduring bewildered staring and loud whispers to try and get his attention. Colin Creevey even pulls out his camera as they pass, the lens flash of which results in Tula eying the small-framed boy like a lion would look at an antelope.
When he'd been out in front of the crowd it hadn't been quite as obvious, but now amongst the students he can feel how much he stands out, amplified by the continued staring of his peers. His golden royal scale is like a splash of color against the dark robes of the Hogwarts students, and right now, it feels like a target on his back. Harry has never once felt uncomfortable in Atlantean attire, but now he finds himself wishing he could dash back to the dormitory and come back looking like a regular student. He almost hunches over in self-consciousness but stops himself.
Regular. That ship has definitely sailed.
He chastises himself for the thought. Despite how much he hates being in the limelight, he doesn't have the luxury of hiding from it. There's no going back, now. Harry is the face of Atlantis' attempt to reconnect with the surface wizarding world. The only choices now are to retreat to Poseidonis and not return or move forward towards his goals. It's an easy choice, even if it's the harder action to take.
Harry squares his shoulders and takes a calming breath. Even amongst the students he needs to appear confident and every ounce the regal and powerful Prince of Atlantis. He forces his face into a smile as he nods greeting at his housemates, most of whom he barely knows, at least not by more than a face and maybe a name. The walk along the house table feels far longer than it actually is, stretching out like he's caught in a funhouse mirror.
It's not until he reaches his year mates that anybody actually shifts in their seats to make room for Harry and his guards, and even then it takes him stopping before them awkwardly while they stare. "Sorry, do you guys mind?" The bewildered staring continues even from those he's shared a dormitory with for the past three years.
"Oh, for God's sake," Hermione huffs, pushing Lavender's shoulder and urging him and everyone nearby to make room. It's almost as though they're too lost in their fascination to realize that he wants to sit, but Hermione's frustrated chastising spurs them into movement, until half the Gryffindor table is sliding along the bench seats so Harry, Tula, and Garth can sit with his friends.
The table is silent, much like the rest of the hall due to Dumbledore's ongoing speech. Tula is looking around at the Gryffindors, her face set into a small frown as if she's unable to decide what to make of them. Garth on the other hand is more or less mimicking Hermione, craning his neck over the tables and people in front to listen to Dumbledore's speech.
"Oi, your majesty!" sounds a shout-whisper from further along the table. Harry frowns slightly at the title before his eyes settle on Fred and George watching him with wide grins on their faces. "Do you have a royal ring we could kiss? Gotta impress the royalty!"
What might have been annoying from anybody else suddenly becomes funny with those two, and Harry smirks and stifles a laugh. "I'm sure I can find something. Organize everyone into a line for me?"
George grins wider, as if this is a perfectly acceptable and serious answer. "Well, in the meantime, a Prince needs a Princess, right? May I present the young Lady Ginevra? She's very eloquent—'his eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad—'" he does his best impression of Ginny with a hand rested on his chest like an opera performance until a cup soars overhead and smashes down on the table in front of him with a dull thud. Ginny herself is glaring at her brother from even further along the Gryffindor table, her face bright red and her throwing hand falling back to her side.
"Well, if Ginny isn't interested," Fred continues his brother's train of thought, "I've always thought that Ron would make a terrific Princess! Isn't he the most beautiful—"
"Oh, pack it in," Ron groans, but it's drowned out by the laughter around them. Some of the other house tables turn to see the commotion, and Dumbledore even briefly stops his commencement address to look down over his glasses at them. One look at the respected headmaster is enough to bring them back to quiet, but smirks and smiles remain on their faces. Seamus even suggestively raises his eyebrows at Ron and elbows him.
It's hugely relieving. Thanks to Fred and George, the previous tension has all but disappeared. Perhaps it's just the knowledge that Harry is still actually Harry, and not some stuffy, pretentious royal. His relief spreads through his bond to Egg, who jumps across the table to land on Hermione's shoulder, nearly tangling his sharp claws in her bushy mane of hair. She lets out a tiny squeak at the contact, but she recovers better than Ron had earlier, smiling slightly and lifting a hand to pat at his head as she returns her focus to Dumbledore's address.
Next to her, Lavender Brown is inching away, watching Egg out of her peripheral vision. But Egg is curious, stretching his neck out to get a closer look at the girl sitting next to him. On her other side,Parvati's eyes become wide. She looks as though she's ready to scream for help at a moment's notice.
"It's okay," Harry whispers across the table. "He won't hurt you, I promise."
He can say it with utter confidence. Even if he's found Lavender rather annoying over the years, being back at the Gryffindor table has him feeling a state of relaxation he hadn't been aware he was missing. He loves Atlantis, and it's his true home, but Hogwarts is still more familiar to him. It was his first true home, too. While he's feeling so calm, Egg is unlikely to have a bad reaction to anyone, especially those in Gryffindor. Not to mention that Harry can literally feel Egg's simple curiosity.
"An Atlantean bond with a magical creature is absolute. The Leviathan can sense the emotions and perhaps even a hint of the memories of it's master. If you would trust Prince Harry not to hurt you, then you can say the same of Aegeus," Garth adds, so quietly that it's almost a whisper.
Lavender raises an eyebrow, looking as though she wants to ask the question written on everyone else's face— 'who the hell are you?' No doubt they saw Garth and Tula up in front of the crowd with Harry, but that doesn't answer the question of why they've come to the Gryffindor table with him. Despite the hesitation resting on her face, she tentatively holds out her hand before Egg's face, holding it before him like he's a dog who would trust her based on her scent. He doesn't hesitate, stretching his neck out even further to press his face into her hand. She smiles at the touch, scratching at the scales behind his head which starts up a soft, rumbling purr.
"Well, he is pretty cute," Parvati admits next to Lavender. The tension leaves her shoulders as she warily slides back towards her friend.
On Hermione's other side, though, Neville still looks mildly terrified. Harry can't really blame him. Despite being genuinely brave in the moments that matter, Neville still shows magnitudes more fear than most of the other Gryffindors. For someone like him raised in the wizarding world, it isn't surprising that he's afraid of what he must only be seeing as a dragon, even if logically he had heard Harry state otherwise. Being as they're going to be sharing a dormitory still, and Egg will be there with Harry, he just hopes Neville will get used to it pretty quickly. Before he gets the chance to try and assuage Neville's fears, Ron is letting out a loud scoff.
"Seriously? He's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? He looks like he's just come in from a week-long bender."
Harry looks up to where Dumbledore is clapping softly before being joined by the rest of the staff and students. When his gaze follows the headmaster's, he can see why Ron is so skeptical. For someone intended to teach at Hogwarts, the man in question doesn't look even slightly professional. Even compared to Remus who'd had tattered robes and a scarred face, the man looks more like he should be drinking himself into a stupor at a bar in Knockturn Alley than teaching at Hogwarts.
He's sitting at the very end of the teachers table, which has been moved back in place, at the head of the hall. He has messy, blonde hair, as though he hadn't bothered trying to tidy it up after getting out of bed, and is wearing a loose, red tie over a white shirt with a long, tan trench coat over the top. He's not even looking at the students after being introduced, instead staring up at the enchanted ceiling with a bored look and bloodshot eyes. His fingers are twiddling sluggishly on the table in front of him.
McGonagall nudges his side, giving him the severe, chastising look she has mastered over so many years teaching. He turns to look at her with a slight scowl before flashing a cheeky grin.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," he slurs his words and stands, nearly knocking his chair over in the process. "John Constantine, at your service." He gives a small, mocking bow before standing upright and reaching into his coat pocket for a small flask. He takes a long swig, his nose screwing up and eyes squinting at the taste of whatever's inside.
"You happy now, Minnie, love? You always look so serious. Why don't you have a drink and lighten up a bit?" He offers her a drink from his open flask.
Even from the back of the room Harry can hear McGonagall clicking her tongue in disapproval. Still, his performance earns laughter and snickers from the student body, and what can only be described as thunderous applause from Fred and George. Constantine bows again before sitting, taking another swig of his drink.
Professor Dumbledore clears his throat. "Uh, yes, welcome Professor Constantine," he says.
"Just Constantine, Dumbles," the new teacher replies. "I look like a Professor to you?"
It earns more laughter from the students, and now more than just McGonagall is looking towards him with distaste. Especially Snape, who sits at the far end looks like he wants to curse the new teacher into oblivion. Dumbledore just smiles and nods before carrying on with his announcements.
"How unprofessional," Hermione chastises under her breath. "Is that alcohol he's drinking?"
Ron beams. "This year is gonna be fun," he says. "Dumbledore couldn't have picked a better teacher!"
Garth shakes his head slowly, as if confused. He opens his mouth and shuts it again several times, as if he can't decide what to say. "I admit," he finally speaks, "I must agree with Hermione. I gather it is unusual for a surface teacher to act in such a way? The Magisters at the Silent School would never behave like that, especially not in front of students."
Tula rolls her eyes. "The magisters are the ones who taught you to be so boring. At least this Constantine seems like he knows how to have fun," she whispers, Ron nodding along emphatically.
Garth frowns, looking very much like he wants to argue with Tula as he usually would. Harry knows he won't. If they were alone, certainly, but Garth would never want to have such a petty argument in front of people he doesn't know, especially with surfacers whom he's going to want to make a good impression.
Tula smirks as though she's counting it as a victory.
Whatever else it might mean, Harry has to admit, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is definitely going to make things interesting.
Even after a full dinner of conversation, most of the Gryffindors seem to be giving Harry a wide berth. Other than Ron and Hermione, and of course Fred and George, most of his housemates are treating him like he's from another planet. Seamus, who normally never shuts up, has barely said a word in his direction, instead having turned his attention to Dean. Neville is even quieter than usual as well, though, Harry catches near constant glances in his direction.
Seamus and Dean he doesn't mind as much. He's friends with them, of course, but they'd often gone off and done their own thing. Neville is a different story. Sure, it had always been himself, Ron, and Hermione as a trio, but Neville was also there more often than not, and Harry counts him among his closest friends.
"Just give it a bit of time," Hermione says softly as they walk with the rest of their house to Gryffindor tower. "Even for us, this is going to take some getting used to."
Harry eyes Neville's back with narrowed eyes. "I guess," he says. "I just… I know things are never going to be the way they used to, but I'm still the same guy."
Hermione glances her eyes towards Harry and bites her bottom lip, as though stopping herself from saying what she wants to.
Harry turns his head sharply in her direction. "You know that, right?"
Hermione glances away before shrugging uncharacteristically. "I mean, of course you are, in all the ways that count. You're probably even more of who you were before. Brave, honest and kind— but…" Hermione shakes her head.
Behind them, Tula and Garth are bickering quietly about the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Ron surprisingly already comfortable enough with the pair to join in, of course siding with Tula.
"Tell me," Harry presses.
Hermione turns to fully face him, her eyes serious. "It's not totally right to say you're the same person. I mean, you are, but… you carry yourself differently. You have all this confidence now, in a completely different way than you did before. The Harry that left at the end of last year could never have gotten through a press conference like that with so much poise. Honestly, you even look a little different, and I'm not just talking about the armor— but even… yes, the armor too. It makes you stand out in a way that you never did as the boy-who-lived."
Harry's heart sinks a bit, even though logically he agrees and was already aware of how true all of that is. It's such a strange feeling of ambiguity. He couldn't be more thrilled to be Atlantean. It means he has a real family, a real heritage, and a real duty. But being back at Hogwarts has a part of him wishing that things could just be the same as they used to be. Even being the only survivor of the killing curse and having Voldemort or one of his followers being a problem every year, there was a simplicity in just being a student at Hogwarts that he hasn't always appreciated. Now it almost feels like he's as different to the other students as he felt at the Dursleys, separated by different worlds.
Egg mewls softly around his neck. Though asleep, the bond is still active, and Egg presses himself into Harry's skin as though in a subconscious effort to comfort him. Harry brings up a hand to softly pet Egg's head. All it does is remind Harry that he's there, and that Egg alone is enough to separate him from the rest of the students. After all, it's not like any of the other Gryffindors have a Leviathan sleeping around their neck like a glow stick necklace.
"But I'm still me," he says quietly. "I know I changed a lot, but I think there's still more of me that is Harry Potter than there is Harry Atlan-Son…"
Hermione smiles and throws an arm around his shoulder, careful as to not jostle Egg. "Harry, your skin could turn green and you could grow a second set of arms, and you'd still be my best friend. It's just an adjustment. You should just talk to them, make them see that you're still their friend, too." She says it succinctly in a way that sounds like the answer is obvious.
As usual, Hermione has an uncanny ability to make him feel better with just a few words. He gives her a soft smile. "I really missed you this summer. I spent most of my time learning, and I didn't even have you there to explain all the things I didn't understand. I think I just got lucky that Vulko wasn't setting me any essays. I don't think he'd be too impressed that you've been writing all my essay introductions since first year…"
Hermione laughs and pats his arm. "You seem to have done pretty well without me. You learned wandless magic over a single summer break?"
"Well, if I can do it over a summer, you can do it throughout the school year, right? After all, it was Garth who taught me," Harry shrugs. "He'll be with me all year."
Hermione looks utterly delighted at the prospect as they step through the Fat Lady's portrait and into the Gryffindor Common Room. It looks just as Harry had left it: comfortable lounge chairs in front of a roaring fire, and tactfully decorated with red and gold.
"Alright, it's getting late, so all you older students should get to bed while I explain things to our new first years," the seventh year prefect calls out, a dark haired boy that Harry had never bothered getting to know the name of. He doesn't need to be told twice. Given the events of the day, as well as the added length of the press conference to the already usually long welcoming proceedings back to another Hogwarts term, it's much later than usual.
"Wait, what do you mean I have to sleep in the girls dormitories?" Tula demands of Harry upon finding out how Hogwarts organizes it's bedrooms by gender. "I'm here as your guard. How the hell do you expect me to do that from another room?"
Harry raises an eyebrow in surprise. Unlike Garth, Tula has never seemed to put too much value in her duty. Certainly she would defend Harry with her life if it were ever necessary, but she's never been one to talk openly about it—or complain if something gets in the way of it. If anything, he'd thought having eight to ten hours away from following Harry's every move might in fact be a blessing.
Some of the other students turn to watch her from a distance, whispering amongst themselves.
"So, she's his guard? You think that other Atlantean guy is as well?"
"What did she expect? She is a girl, though you can barely tell under all that armor."
"Pretty young to be his guards…"
Harry takes a step closer to Tula and speaks quietly, his tone trying to urge calm. In the midst of him trying to make the rest of his house believe that he's still one of them, she has to go and announce herself as his guard? Garth was supposed to be the problematic one, not Tula!
"I don't get it," Harry says in hushed tones. "You leave me every night in Poseidonis… this has never been a problem."
Tula pulls her helmet off, eliciting gasps from around the room, not that Harry can blame them. With her armor and helmet on it's hard to view her as anything but intimidating. Her flawless, tanned, and beautiful face, along with her long hair and deep purple eyes are a stark contrast to that impression. Harry does his best to ignore what he can hear being said between some of the male students in the common room.
Tula shoves the helmet hard into Harry's chest. "In Poseidonis you sleep in the royal palace, stupid. It already has guards. Here, you just have me and Mr. Serious over there," she gestures towards Garth who looks as utterly baffled as Harry feels. In a strange way, his reaction is relieving. If Garth is confused as well, this isn't just a side of Tula that Harry has missed. It's genuinely out of character.
Still, her logic isn't wrong—but Harry gets the feeling that something is off, and the problem isn't about her not being able to perform her duties at night. Seeing how comfortable Harry is in the common room, even with most of them too nervous to speak to him, should definitely have her believing there's not too much to fear. More than that, Garth is still allowed in Harry's dormitory, and she knows better than anyone how much deadly seriousness he places on that duty. With him around, not so much as a bed bug will be able to get near Harry without getting incinerated.
Tula's eyes flick ever so slightly to the side towards Lavender and Parvati, and her mysterious behavior suddenly makes sense. Though he hasn't seen her face without her helmet more than a handful of times, her expression is all wrong. She's normally either carefree and relaxed or more frequently sporting her best 'I could kill you in an instant, don't mess with me' face. Right now, she's showing neither of those things. Instead, her eyes are wide and alert. Her fingers twitch nervously along the metallic base of her helmet.
Is she… nervous?
It's the only thing that makes sense. Having never been around surfacers before, and even less frequently around teenage girls with whom she's likely to have very little in common, she's acting more like she's about to enter the den of a basilisk than the fourth year girls' dormitories. The only one she knows is Hermione, and honestly, knowing both of them… Harry can only see that Hermione has more in common with Garth than she does with Tula. Hermione has no time for her giggling, boy-crazed dorm mates, though, so it might be enough for them to bond over. Plus, it's only for the night.
Harry raises a hand to her shoulder and is surprised when she doesn't bat it away. "Don't worry—if you can face down the Trench without problems, having to sleep in a dorm with some surfacers should be fairly stress-free," he says, softly so others can't hear. The words sound ridiculous coming out of his mouth. One of the most skilled young warriors in Poseidonis nervous about rooming with a couple of silly, teenage girls. It almost beggars belief.
Tula scrunches up her nose and shakes her head as if in denial that he's cottoned on to the real reason for her argument. Finally, she sighs and pushes his hand off her shoulder. "You're right, it's stupid. Forget this ever happened." She says the last part almost threateningly, and she probably means it that way. Bringing it up again in future would certainly be a mistake.
Though Tula turns towards the stairs to her dormitory, her shoulders are tense and her movements far too brisk to be considered relaxed. It's more that she's steeled herself for an uncomfortable night than her actually believing anything he's told her. Hermione makes to follow her, but not before turning towards Harry with a thumbs up and a soft expression.
Harry smiles at the gesture. Of course Hermione will help her adjust. It's not like she's ever gotten along all that well with the other girls in her dormitory, anyway, so having someone there who could become a potential friend might well be a welcome change for her. Even if that weren't true, Hermione is nothing if not loyal. She'd probably still do it for Harry's sake even if her and Tula were bitter rivals.
Now that Tula has effectively brought the room to an awkward silence, although not so silent for Harry since he can hear what everyone is whispering to each other about, going back to the dormitory seems like a good place to escape. Or it would be, were Seamus, Dean, and Neville not headed in the same direction. Normally, the first night back would be a cause for celebration—usually involving a whole lot of laughs, chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott's, but this year is different even in that regard.
Harry looks around the dorm, once again catching an awkward and lingering glance from Neville. The boy looks down towards his suitcase when Harry meets his eyes. At least Ron is there, but his presence doesn't help much since he's too busy getting to his trunk. Frankly, Harry isn't really sure if Ron feels the tension as much as Harry does anyway, if at all. They had time to get over that on the Express.
Carefully, so he doesn't wake him, Harry reaches for Egg's main body wrapped comfortably around his neck and lifts the Leviathan up and over his head. He lays him down on his own soft mattress. Other than a small rumble and shifting, Egg shows no signs of waking, although that's not a surprise. At barely more than a week old, a day consisting of travel halfway across the world and meeting so many new people, not to mention his reaction to Snape, has been enough to utterly exhaust the young beast.
"That one must be yours," Ron points out the new bed between his and Harry's to Garth once he looks up. "Dumbledore must have organized it already." Garth nods, poking at the blankets and mattress with a single finger in examination.
"Wait, you guys do sleep on beds in Atlantis, right?" Ron asks slowly as he sees Garth's reaction. "You don't, like, sleep on some sort of softened coral or something?" Harry nearly laughs, but stops himself when he sees all three of his other dorm-mates lift their heads in interest.
Garth opens his mouth to respond—likely going to dive into some formal discussion into the history of Atlantean bedding and how it relates to the surface world, but Harry cuts in first.
"Actually, we sleep in anemones—you know, the sea plants?"
The look on all four of the non-Atlantean boys is priceless. Seamus' mouth actually looks as though it's about to drop open, and Neville makes a sort of choking noise before Harry starts to laugh. Garth looks as though he'd like to roll his eyes in judgement.
Harry's laughter dies down before he shakes his head. "Yeah, Ron, we sleep in beds. Poseidonis might exist under the ocean, but the insides of the buildings are spelled so the ocean can't enter. I mean it's possible for us to sleep in the water, but unless you wanted to wake up miles from your house due to the currents, you're really better off indoors…"
It's enough to elicit a smirk from Seamus and a short laugh from Dean, but then they're turning around to unpack their suitcases, returning the room to an uncomfortable silence. Garth tilts his head to the side, no doubt wondering if this is usual behavior for them. Ron rolls his eyes at them and shrugs his shoulders at Harry like 'What're you gonna do?'
Harry frowns, but he's not about to give up. "So, Nev, have a good summer?" he asks.
Neville turns back to Harry with wide, nervous eyes, as though his friend of four years might take his golden Trident and shove it down his throat. "Y-yeah. Nothing exciting," he stammers. He looks as though he wants to say more, but the words are stuck in his throat. He turns back to his suitcase to awkwardly shuffle clothes around. Harry flops back on his bed with a sigh, nearly landing on Egg's outstretched wing as the Leviathan makes himself comfortable in his sleep.
"Hello! Your name is Neville, correct? My name is Garth Thar-son. It is truly a pleasure to meet another of Harry's friends on the surface," Garth takes a step toward Neville and holds out an open hand. It's a gesture that must be totally foreign to an Atlantean, yet Garth holds himself confidently as though he's met and befriended thousands of other surfacers before.
He didn't say Prince…
More and more Garth is proving himself capable of a more casual conversation, and his ability to read a room surpasses anything Harry saw from him in Atlantis. A wave of affection for his male guard washes over him. First in the press conference, and now understanding the awkwardness and making an immediate attempt to do something about it—Garth might always refer to himself as a guard rather than a friend, but he is definitely a friend. Trying to make Harry's life easier, especially with his friends on the surface, is definitely not one of his mandates as a royal guard.
Neville eyes the hand like it's a serpent poised to strike, but after a few awkward seconds slowly reaches out. Garth closes the gap and gives it a firm shake, showing a control of his Atlantean strength that Harry can only envy. Even if he might be able to pull it off, there's no way Harry would want to try. Crushing all the bones in his friend's hands would be a poor way to break the ice.
"You'd love Poseidonis," Harry says. "There's some really cool magical plants on the ocean floor—and Dean," Harry turns to the darker skinned boy, "The Fourth Tride in Poseidonis has so much magical art… I wish I could explain to you how they do it."
It's not much. Harry can't even go into any details. To his mind, they're just glowing plants and magically created art, but if he can just make them understand that he was thinking of them in Poseidonis—that he's still just as much Harry Potter as he ever was, things might be okay between them. He tries to think back to something Seamus might be interested in, but he's interrupted before he can get anything else out.
"Sounds pretty cool," Dean is the one to speak up as he tosses some things on his bed, but he pauses his actions as he hesitates before continuing, his brows pulling together like he doesn't want to keep talking. "But not as cool as you being the son of Aquaman." After, he quickly goes back to his things as if he's made things worse and doesn't want to be addressed.
Because of course Dean thinks of Arthur first as Aquaman, and not the King of Atlantis. Despite him being a half-blood, the fact that he didn't even know of his wizarding heritage until it was time to go to Hogwarts means that, in reality, he's more or less a muggleborn. He'd no doubt have seen and heard about the news of the summer long before the wizarding world.
Harry chuckles—though it sounds fake to his ears—and he feels a little awkward considering Dean has just given him another reason to feel like an outsider. "Can you imagine how surprised I was? Not just finding out that I have a dad, but that he's a superhero and a King?" He replies, trying to sound casual. It's harder than he remembers, and it bitterly reminds him of the conversation he had with Hermione earlier. Since when was talking to his friends this difficult?
Harry spots a flash of disbelief cross Seamus' face for a moment, but when he speaks his tone doesn't sound hostile. "You really didn't know? Suddenly you come back to Hogwarts summoning lightning and wearing armor and having a golden Trident after a single summer?"
There it is.
It makes sense now why they're being so quiet and distant with him. For some of the others who didn't know him as well perhaps it's easier to believe his rapid transformation, but for those who spent day in and day out with him? Without actually seeing Poseidonis or understanding Atlantean culture or values, it's probably so much harder to believe. Somehow, now that the crux of the tension appears, it feels easier to reply. At least he knows the reason now instead of blindly wondering what the issue was.
"I had no idea. Honestly, you think if I had these abilities I wouldn't have been using them for the past three years? Might have come in handy when I fought the Basilisk or maybe against the Dementors that hounded me all last year?"
Not that Harry intended it to sound snappish, but Seamus has the decency to look a little ashamed. Harry feels a flash of guilt, but he refuses to dwell on it. It has to be said sooner or later, and he'd rather it come out while they're alone in their dorm than out in the hallways or in the great hall. When faced with the logic of a Harry who might've had powers and known of his heritage for as long as he's known them, Seamus' thought process quickly falls apart. He covers his shame with a wild grin.
"So, Prince Harry, think you could show us that Trident?"
Now it's Harry's turn to grin. He summons the Trident into his grip, only slowly allowing it to appear so that his friends can appreciate a type of magic they've never seen before. If the looks on their faces are anything to go off, the previous tension might just be starting to shatter.
Maybe it's not about the me they already knew…
It's a strange revelation that jumps into his mind, but it makes too much sense to be wrong. He's been wanting things to return back to normal, but realistically, they'll never be that type of normal ever again. But if he shows them who he's starting to become and lets them share in his transformation? He doesn't have to lose them due to his new station. He has to show them the parts of him that are new, otherwise he'll just become more of a stranger.
Dean and Neville watch with rapt attention, but Seamus being the most confident of the three slowly reaches out to touch it. In Atlantis, nobody would ever attempt such a thing, and not only because they physically cannot. Growing up without that knowledge means that Harry lets him, though, out his peripheral vision it looks as though Garth is straining not to chastise Seamus for it.
But there's really no need to stop him. As expected, Seamus' hand passes straight through the Trident as though it's made of pure water. He lifts his wet palm in front of his face. "Wicked," he elongates the word with a grin on his face. "How come I can't touch it?"
"Only a member of the Atlantean Royal Family can touch it. If I was trying to hit you with it, it'd work. But if you try to hold it yourself? No good."
Garth's patience at Seamus cracks, though his tone is explanatory rather than admonishing. "The Trident of Poseidon was one of two Tridents created by our most revered King, King Atlan. It is meant for the Crown Prince or Princess of Atlantis. Only those with the blood of Atlan can ever wield one of the Tridents. They are two of our mostrevered magical artifacts."
Seamus takes a step back, clearly understanding the reason Garth is explaining. He still looks utterly fascinated. "Alright, then. So, you've got gold armor and a magic trident and a dragon-like creature that sits on your shoulders, big deal," Seamus says sarcastically, a cheeky smile still set firmly on his face. "Show us some of the exciting stuff!"
Considering Seamus's penchant for blowing things up, his desire to see something more exciting shouldn't come as a surprise. If a night of bragging about his new abilities is what it takes to have his friends treating him like a human being again, it's an easy price to pay.
Waking up to a Leviathan walking across your face isn't the most comfortable way to wake up, and Harry finds himself yawning through breakfast the next morning as people wave and shout hello at him from across the hall. Egg's chipper attitude, nudges, and begging cries at Harry's face—he's not about to jog to the great hall—does little to wake him up. Not even the curious, hungry, and excited emotions he feels through the bond gets to him. He tries his best to wave and nod right back, but all he really wants is to go back upstairs to bed. Better yet, to go back to his more comfortable mattress in his room at the top of Mount Nysos in Poseidonis. Garth eyes him from his right as they near the doors, somehow chastising him with a look that is eerily reminiscent of Mera's.
It probably wasn't the best idea to stay up so late...
Hermione clicks her fingers in front of his face to grab his attention all throughout morning conversation. Funny how having super hearing doesn't automatically mean an increased attention span. Harry's selective hearing still applies even though, if he wanted to, he could hear a conversation happening at the other end of the hall. Egg playfully nips at Hermione's outstretched fingers from his place on Harry's shoulder.
"See, this is why I made sure our training sessions were first thing in the morning," Tula says from his left, giving Harry a solid punch to the shoulder. "Gotta knock those tired mornings right out of him!" Tula hits her open hand with a fist in the other for emphasis. She's grinning like a loon, and Harry just knows she's thinking about the times she's beat him up.
Harry grimaces and has to catch himself from falling at the punch as Egg lets out a protesting screech. "We're at Hogwarts now," Harry complains as he pats Egg reassuringly. "No need to beat me up before breakfast anymore."
Tula and Hermione share a laugh. It's a good thing, really, despite how much it feels like he's going to be ganged up on by the two. It means that the night in the shared Gryffindor dorms had gone fine, and her and Hermione will get along just fine.
"Aren't you excited for our first Defense Against the Dark Arts Class?" Hermione asks from across the table, trying to pull him from his still sleep affected state. "First class of the year?"
Harry shrugs slowly, idly feeding little bits of sausage to Egg who gobbles them down immediately, his teeth nearly grabbing his fingers in the process. "I dunno… weren't you the one saying he looked so unprofessional last night?"
Hermione's face twists into disapproval at the memory as she pauses her fork over her plate. "Well, yes, but if Professor Dumbledore hired him he must be qualified!"
Ron lets out a loud laugh across the table, barely catching his food in his mouth before he swallows to talk. "Tell that to Lockhart." Hermione frowns and gives him a side eye but says nothing about his eating habits. Garth and Tula don't say anything, but given they're busy exploring new kinds of food, they don't react.
Harry hums his agreement while finishing the end of his toast. "Quirrell, too. Though, Dumbledore is unlikely to hire another guy with Voldemort growing out the back of his head."
Hermione rolls her eyes, but she's interrupted before she can reply.
"Hi, Harry!" A fifth year Ravenclaw calls out over the top of the house tables. "Do you want to come and sit with us?"
It's not the first time someone has randomly called out across the hall for him that morning, but it's no less embarrassing than the first. Harry feels the blush come across him and tries not to shift his head down in an effort to hide.
"Thanks for the offer," Harry calls out just quietly enough that they can hear, though everyone else is now looking, too, "But I'm happy where I am." He flashes a small smile so he, hopefully, doesn't offend her. Harry fights the urge to roll his eyes at Fred and George laughing at him from further down the table. 'Go for it!' he sees George mouthing at him. Harry expertly ignores it.
"Can we just go to class early? This is getting old fast," Harry groans quietly so just his friends around him can hear. He stabs his fork into a piece of sausage out of frustration and embarrassment. Egg buries his head into the crook of Harry's neck, both from Harry's emotions and his own attempts to comfort him.
Tula pats him on the back, though he's certain it's not meant to be out of comfort. "Poor famous Prince," she teases. "Would you prefer the alternative of being back in Poseidonis and having me beat you bloody every morning?"
I think I probably would, actually. The thought jumps into Harry's head, but he doesn't voice it. He stifles another groan as more students that he barely remembers even seeing at Hogwarts before wave and greet him. He smiles weakly and gestures with his fork in a way that vaguely resembles a wave. As excited as he is to connect the wizarding world with Atlantis, he's still not at all excited about it meaning he has to be the center of attention. It was bad enough before.
"Alright, Harry, let's go," Hermione says, sounding actually comforting. Then again, she's probably saying it as much for her own benefit as for his. Meeting a new Professor for her is like how the rest of the school is now seeing Harry. Next to her, Ron is rushing to stuff his face with anything he can get as he simultaneously rises. It's so distinctly a Hermione-and-Ron thing that it makes him feel a bit better.
Even as they leave the Hall people are calling out to him and trying to grab his attention; the recognition was worse than it ever seemed it would be the previous night. Then again, now that Harry is once again in his Hogwarts robes, it's probably far less intimidating to approach him, even with his armored guards flanking his every movement and subtly eying everyone passing by.
"Merlin's saggy balls," Ron complains under his breath as they exit the hall, a muffin in one hand. "That's one hell of a shadow you're casting now, mate."
Harry almost flinches and Egg, once again around his neck, lets a quiet whine and shoves his nose into Harry's collarbone. Putting everyone else in his shadow, especially his friends is just about the last thing he wants to do. "Sorry," Harry says simply. "Do you think it'll blow over anytime soon?"
Ron scoffs and shakes his head, but he doesn't seem too bothered with how much attention Harry is getting. "Not bloody likely. 'Prince of Atlantis.' It's like the time everyone thought you were the heir of Slytherin, only in reverse, and—say—a thousand times more important?" He ends sarcastically with a roll of his eyes and a bite into his muffin.
They're all quiet for the next couple of minutes, Harry ruminating about how he's going to get through an entire year of being the most famous person at Hogwarts, and that's with just one school there. If the Tournament goes ahead and all the others come as well… Harry would never have believed that life at Hogwarts could be more demanding than life in Poseidonis, but it quickly seems to be becoming a reality.
"This school is quite beautiful," Garth comments, breaking the silence. He's looking around the halls at the moving paintings and the high roofs like he's trying to take in and remember every detail. "I can feel the magic everywhere. I didn't think that anywhere on the surface would have this level of magical presence."
Hermione immediately goes off into one of her tangents about 'Hogwarts, a History.' But where Harry and Ron have always tuned her out, Garth listens intently, offering his own opinions and comparisons between Hogwarts and the Silent School in Poseidonis.
"He's right, though," Tula says quietly, "Though I guess he can't always be wrong." Even while talking to Hermione, Garth's face twists in annoyance at her insult and glances at them, but she continues as though she hadn't done it at all. "This school really is something special. Do you have anything more martial up here, though? I learned magic like everyone else in Atlantis… but it's pretty boring, right?"
Harry nearly shakes his head in disbelief. It's not the first time he's heard her say something like it, but it does surprise him just as much as it did then. In Atlantis, magic is so integrated into daily life that some see it as being completely mundane—like a muggle wondering about how a TV works. To them, it's just an average part of everyday life. It's a baffling opinion to anybody who's ever had to live life without it like Harry.
Ron, though, begins to talk about homework and all the assignments Professors Snape and McGonagall like to set, apparently agreeing with Tula's point. It's actually nice to hear the two pairs get along so well. If they can get along and find common ground, then there's actually a genuine hope that he'll be able to connect the two worlds.
Harry happily listens to them all talk amongst themselves as they head to the third floor for the first class of the year. The rest of the Gryffindors and some of the Slytherins are already there waiting, all of whom stop speaking to become silent at their approach. Even amongst peers he's had classes with for the previous three years he's a different person altogether if last night was any indication. Still, at least Neville, Dean and Seamus no longer seem uncomfortable around him. He'll take any victory he can get.
More surprising are the Slytherins. In previous years they'd be sneering and leering with Malfoy making his little sarcastic quips or just being outright insulting. This year, Malfoy is on the complete other side of the crowd, turned away, and apparently pretending that Harry isn't there at all.
Good. If Malfoy isn't going to speak to him, it means that Harry doesn't have to pretend to like him or at least not even pretend to be civil. It's much easier to pretend that the other isn't there at all, and he'll happily do that until he's forced to otherwise.
For any other lesson, the teacher would open the door at the appropriate time to let them inside, but even as the clock rolls past the time for their first lesson, it remains closed. Hermione gets more anxious with each passing minute until she finally decides to open the door herself. Fortunately, it's not locked.
The Defense Against the Dark Arts room looks completely different from when Remus was the Professor. When it belonged to Remus things were decently tidy, and he had little cages and textbooks around the room to help him in his lessons. The new teacher doesn't seem to have any sort of system in place at all. He's got books placed randomly on shelves around the room, some lying open, some bent at odd angles, and all of them looking absolutely ancient, as if the only way they could possibly have survived the test of time is a result of magic.
More than that, he has strange, white paint etched into the floorboards and on the roof in strange patterns, most of them resembling a sort of star within a circle. Unlike the books, their placement looks purposeful, in front of every door and window, and one larger one under the student desks in the middle of the room.
"Something in this room feels… off," Garth comments idly, eyes scanning the room as if looking for potential danger. "There's a strange aura in here."
Tula rolls her eyes at him, but she doesn't actually say anything. She looks slowly around the room in a totally different way than Garth. Garth's duty is always at the forefront of his mind, but Tula instead looks a little bored, like she's scanning the room to find something worth giving her attention. Harry's sure she's still on the lookout, though.
At the top of the stairs to the Defense Against the Dark Arts office the new Professor emerges, wearing the same long, tanned trench coat he'd been wearing the night before. He has an unlit cigarette sticking out his mouth.
"Oh, shit, I got a class already?" he mumbles around his cigarette. Harry only hears him as a result of his Atlantean hearing. He also doesn't miss the man's deliberate sigh. He takes the cigarette out of his mouth and strolls down the stairs.
"Well, I guess I better teach you something then, eh?" When he's at the bottom of the stairs he lifts the cigarette back to his lips and presses the tip of his index finger to the end of it. The tip of his finger glows orange for a moment, and the cigarette hisses as it lights.
Wandless magic? As much as that's what it appears to be, there's something about it that seems different like what he's done is totally different from the wandless magic Harry has been taught to use. It's almost as though the magic hadn't come from him at all, but rather from some other, unknown source. If the look on Garth's face is anything to go off, he agrees.
"What did you just do?" Garth asks aloud, stepping further into the classroom ahead of anyone else. "I felt no magic from you at all."
The Professor lifts an eyebrow as if Garth speaking is the first thing to catch his interest at all. "Oh?" is all he says. Then, he's grinning. "Ahh, you're one of the Atlanteans that came with the fish Prince, here," he says, shifting his gaze towards Harry for just a moment.
"Good little display with that fire and ice last night," the teacher continues, clapping his hands slow and seemingly sarcastic. "Good job, truly. I'm sure the masses were all very impressed." He says it in a way that suggests he wasn't. Harry just raises his eyebrow, not offended, but not sure how to react.
Next to Harry, Tula lets out a sort of sniffling laugh. "Garth's not gonna like that one bit."
"How did you do it?" Garth asks again, though this time there's a hard edge to his voice.
The teacher grins and begins muttering quickly under his breath. He's quiet enough that nobody but the three Atlanteans would be able to hear him, but even still, Harry has no idea what language he's muttering in. It's definitely not English.
Garth drops to his knees and his arms are pulled to his sides as the new Professor appears instantly at Garth's side without a single noise. There's a shimmering gold afterimage from where he was previously standing, but it's fading fast.
What the hell?
He's holding a tiny strand of glowing, blue rope, not long enough to do anything with, only several inches long at most, but apparently enough to have invisibly tied up Garth. Even with his Atlantean strength, Garth cannot break free from the invisible hold. That alone is enough to be alarming. He moans and grunts to break free, but the invisible magical hold is enough that he can't even open his mouth. It's like every inch of him has been tied up completely. He falls sideways to the ground, legs pulling upwards and arms pressing even tighter to his sides.
He's no normal teacher.
Tula is moving forward instantly, summoning a short dagger to her hand and cutting the lit cigarette in two before holding it at his throat. Harry summons his Trident to his hand after a moment's hesitation, but stays rooted to the spot as the teacher lifts up a hand. Egg, in turn, is gripping his robes with his claws and hissing in response to Harry's emotions. He wants to help somehow, but he doesn't want to get in Tula's way, and he's not sure what other things this new teacher could do. More than that, he's not even totally sure that the teachers actions are meant to be genuinely threatening.
"No need for that, lad. Just trying to prove a point," the teacher says. Looking entirely unconcerned about the Trident and dagger threatening to cut him apart, he drops the tiny strand of rope. Instead of hitting the ground it disappears into nothingness. Looseness returns to Garth's limbs, and he gets slowly back to his feet looking more curious than embarrassed.
Garth lifts a hand to Tula's dagger and pushes it away. "How did you do that?" Garth asks again, his voice more full of awe and wonder than Harry's ever heard. He doesn't even seem angry, just confused and ultimately, curious.
He shrugs lazily. "We aren't all born with power. Some of us have to find… alternative means." He turns his head ever so slightly to face Harry. "You mind putting that fork away there, Sea Prince? Wasn't trying to piss off the entire Atlantean Kingdom…"
After a bewildered blink, Harry vanishes the Trident. Tula's dagger morphs into water in her hand, dropping to form a puddle on the stone floor. Egg stops growling, but he's still tense both in body and in mind. Harry takes a deep breath in an effort to help calm Egg, but the tenseness of the previous situation still lingered in him. Harry supposes he's just a bit too young to understand what happened, but he hopes all the wild emotions the past few days won't leave a lasting, negative impression.
"Well, I guess you'll all trust that I know what I'm about then, eh?" he says before facing the rest of the class and dipping over in a small bow. "John Constantine, at your service. You can all just call me Constantine though, yeah?"
Constantine looks sadly at his cut in half cigarette on the floor and turns to Tula. "Did you really have to do that?"
Even Tula looks lost for words, again, something that Harry hasn't seen from her. The students stand in the doorway of the room, all watching silently and with more attention than probably any teacher in the history of Hogwarts has ever commanded, or at least so quickly. Even they seem lost for words and unsure how to react to the attitude of their new professor, so at least Harry could take comfort that he isn't the only one.
Constantine raises an eyebrow at them when no one moves or speaks. "Well, you gonna take your seats or what?"
One thing is absolutely certain, Harry being the Atlantean Prince isn't going to be the only interesting thing going on at Hogwarts this year.
Sorry I took so long. Been sitting on this for a while trying to sort out some stuff I wasn't too sure of. I've also been working on rewriting little bits and pieces in the early chapters, but haven't quite finished with those yet. Thanks very much to all those that are taking the time to review, especially the constructive ones, you've no idea how much I appreciate them. Thanks especially to those of you on my discord who are helping me make these chapters better and to actually get them out - much love to you!