And here's the forty ninth chapter of "A Year Too Soon"! Enjoy!

* Review Response:
nkh1, certainly.
Urgazhi, Clavyus, Lord Mortensen, wanderingwitchelaine, Yaw6113, DarkRavie, mwinter1, Majerus, Wulfkin17, magitech, griffin blackwood, Blue Luver5000, FicTIuNFaN, Jostanos, Uday Sra, Tertius711, Darth-Vulturnus, BMS, DragonsBC, Ep, ClassicXD, Lukeyflear, dianaanne, thank you for your reviews, folks!
fvdv123, which horcrux are you talking about? The one Harry had in his forehead has been removed over a year ago by the goblin curse-breakers.
TheGreatBubbaJ, he's a Malfoy though. What else did you expect from him?
mizzrazz72, I will promise no amazing bouncing ferrets.
Charlee56, this is not The Addams Family story though. I can make my characters drink disgusting potions whenever and as often as the plot demands.
Voraces Lector, except, they weren't at the hospital at the time.

* AN: This chapter has not been beta-read.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own "Harry Potter" franchise. No profit is being made. Same goes for any books, video games, anime or manga I may or may not use for ideas.

written text

A Year Too Soon
Chapter XLIX:
Steps Towards the Future

After thinking about it for a bit, Harry decided to follow Madam Pomfrey's 'advice' and skip afternoon classes today. It was Friday anyway, and he had over a week worth of notes to copy for the classes he had missed. Two more at this point wouldn't make much of a difference.

That, of course, didn't mean he was skipping lunch. Especially not after being stuck in 's for a week. The hospital food, while not actually bad per se, just couldn't compare to what Hogwarts' house elves routinely made.

Thus, after changing into more comfortable clothes, Harry made his way to the Great Hall, arriving there just as lunch was served. And since the morning classes had just ended, only a handful of people were there already - those who had a free period - which kind-of saved the green-eyed teen from being the center of attention for the entire student body at the same time. And being a victim of a daring attack all but guaranteed that he would be in the unwanted spotlight for a while.

After a few minutes, the first students of those who actually had had their morning classes began arriving at the Great Hall. And a fair number of them started whispering among themselves upon noticing him, though only a few, mostly friendlier Slytherins and Ravenclaws, actually approached him to welcome him back.

Astoria Greengrass was the first of his friends to show up.

"Oh, Harry? Is that you? Welcome back!" The chipper girl greeted him.

"Ah, thank you, 'Tori." He said. "It's good to be back." Hogwarts indeed was like a home to him. Though, hopefully, he will have a real home - the rebuilt Potter manor - in a couple of years. Before anything else could be said between them, though, Flora and Hestia arrived:

"H-Hi, Harry." The twins greeted as they took seats next to him. Though, unlike the usual, they sat together and kept some noticeable distance from him, as if afraid of being too close to him. "How are you? You've been at 's for so long."

"Hello." He returned the greeting. "And I'm mostly alright now. What about you?"

"We're f-fine." Flora replied for herself and her sister but, at least to Harry, she didn't sound very convincing. Those faint but still noticeable shadows she and Hestia had under their eyes weren't helping either. Something was weighing on their souls, but he wasn't going to pry. At least not in the Great Hall. Instead, he chose to change the topic of their conversation:

"Would you mind it if I copied your notes for the classes I've missed?" He asked them while reminding himself that he'd need to find someone he could copy Arithmancy notes from since the twins weren't taking that particular elective.

"S-sure." Hestia said. "We'll lend you t-those." The 'once we are back to the common room' bit went unsaid, but Harry had no trouble picking it out: none of them had brought their school bags to the Great Hall after all. The group then fell into a rather uncomfortable silence as none of them really knew what to say next. It didn't last for long, though, as the third-year Slytherins arrived.

"Oh, Harry, you're back? Welcome!" Tracey said with her usual energy as she, Daphne and Blaise took seats across the table from the trio.

"Thank you." Harry said.

Unfortunately for the green-eyed wizard, his friends weren't the only third-year Slytherins to arrive. All of them did. And that included a certain antagonistic blonde, who wasted no time stirring up trouble.

"Potter, what are you doing back here?" Draco Malfoy drawled. "We all had hoped that you finally recognized that a half-blood failure like you has no place among the proper wizards and dropped out of Hogwarts." Crabbe and Goyle, who were accompanying the Malfoy Heir as usual, started to crease but quickly shut up under the glares from Harry's clique as well as other Slytherins sitting nearby.

The young Potter let out a deep sigh. It looked like his self-appointed arch-nemesis in Slytherin politics had grown much bolder during his week of absence. In fact, this was the first time Draco dared to 'challenge' him like this outside of the Slytherin common room.

"Go bark somewhere else, Malfoy." Harry replied coolly, channeling his inner Lord Potter. "I was having a pretty good day here before you showed up."

"Why you?!." The blonde growled.

"What's going on here?" Professor McGonagall asked as she approached the Slytherin table.

"Nothing. I'm just welcoming Potter back to Hogwarts and wishing him a speedy recovery." Draco replied quickly. The Transfiguration Mistress gave him an incredulous look, clearly not believing a single word he had just said.

"I see." She said after a moment of silence. "I commend your camaraderie, but please don't cause such disturbances while wishing well in the future." And with that she left, returning to the Professors' table.

"This is not over, Potter." Draco promised, apparently not willing to risk continuing their squabble. And with that he turned around and walked away to take a seat somewhere down the table.

Harry couldn't help but let out another sigh. It looked like the next few days would be quite tiresome for him, no thanks to the Malfoy heir. Hopefully, though, it won't take too much time for the blond pounce to run out of steam and revert back to being an easily-ignorable nuisance.

While his classmates were off to their afternoon classes, Harry remained in the Slytherin common room and began copying the twins' notes. And he was doing so by hand. Sure, he could've used a dicta-quill to speed the process up a bit, but using one would likely result in him retaining less knowledge. Writing things down made it easier for him to memorize things than just saying them aloud.

Copying all those notes by hand wasn't very fast, though, and even his mechanical quill, enchanted to never run out of ink, wasn't helping there much, despite being noticeably superior to the more traditional quills most students used. And still suffering a bit from aftereffects of whatever Curses Amycus and Alecto no-longer-Carrow had used against him wasn't helping the matters either. Yet, the green-eyed teen was confident that he would be done with this rather daunting task by Sunday evening. Perhaps, he'll even have time for all those homework essays! On second thought, he probably should do those due Monday first.

By the time the bell from the afternoon's final period rang, Harry finished copying Potions notes and was nearly done with the bigger of the two essays assigned by Professor Snape.

Some minutes afterwards, the students began arriving at the common room, with the fourth-years being some of the first to get there, and a few minutes later, after they changed out of their Hogwarts robes, the twins joined Harry in 'his' corner. And just like it was the case during lunch a few hours ago, Flora and Hestia refused to sit too close to him, as if afraid that something bad would happen if they did. The young Potter had no idea what he could do to help the girls get over it, though, and actually couldn't claim that he was completely devoid of these fears himself.

Still, being back together with Flora and Hestia - and his other friends - was nice. Alas, Harry's moment of quiet peace didn't last long as the certain blonde annoyance decided to carry out his 'promise'.

"Potter!" Draco Malfoy called out as he burst in Harry's space, his loud voice drawing attention from the other people in the common room. "A pathetic wizard like you has no right to lead the noble House of Slytherin within Hogwarts. Only the best and most pure of us are suited for this job." He declared. "Surely even you can't be a fool enough not to see that. So, I demand that you relinquish your unwarranted and undeserved leadership over the House to a strong and noble wizard worthy of this great honor." Taking his eyes away from the essay he was working on, Harry gave Draco a long look.

"Go away, Malfoy." He finally said.

"So you think a weak half-blood like you is worthy? Well then, Potter, I challenge you to a duel for the leadership over the House of Slytherin!" The blonde declared.

"I refuse." The Potter heir said in response.

"Hear that, people!" Draco called, addressing the entire common room. "Your precious Potter is not only a weak, pathetic wizard. He's also a damn coward! How can someone like him be allowed to lead the great House of Slytherin?" His words were followed by a few whistles and boos from the audience, but for the most part people remained silent as they watched events unfold.

"On the contrary, Heir Malfoy." Harry replied, doing his best to remain polite. "I merely see no reason to waste the time for both of us on something so pointless. I 'lead' Slytherin not because I'm the strongest one here or some such. It is because people support the ideas I had proposed, whether because those ideas resonated with their own worldview, or simply because they found them advantageous in some way." He said. "Do you really believe that some fight between us will make those people abandon those ideas and flock to your banner, Heir Malfoy?" He asked.

"Of course." The blonde replied. "I'm a Malfoy and we're born leaders. Some people are just too blinded by your undeserved fame, Potter, to see that. But with this duel, I would show them it is I who is the worthy leader of Slytherin, not a weak coward like you."

"Really?" Harry 'asked', clearly disbelieving his opponent's logic. "Anyway." He continued after a moment. "And if we do fight and you win… Do you really believe that defeating a man just out of the hospital and still weeks away from being declared fully-healed will paint you as a powerful and noble wizard you proclaim yourself to be?" Of course, attacking an enemy at their weakest was very much a valid tactic, but Harry wasn't going to voice that.

Quite a few people around the common room, including even a couple of those that explicitly supported Malfoy, thought that the answer to that question was 'no'.

"And if we fight and you lose…" The Potter heir added, not even bothering to explain what such a defeat would mean for the blonde. He could figure that out himself. Probably.

"Ha! As if I could lose to someone as pathetic as you." Draco said presumptuously. Harry's only response was a deep sigh. "But if you really think you stand a chance against me, why don't duel me, Potter? Or are you too scared?" The blonde continued.

"I still don't see any point to this duel, Malfoy. So, unless there is something else, just stop wasting my time. I have notes to copy and essays to write." Harry said as he glanced at the textbooks and parchments on his table. This seemed to trigger the blonde, who whipped out his wand.

"That's it, Potter! I've had enough of your shit!" He yelled. "Your disrespect towards your betters goes too far. I'll make you know your place! Furnunculus!" Harry, however, wasn't entirely unprepared for such a turn of events and quickly summoned a Magical shield to protect himself. The Jinx bounced off the shield and hit the ceiling, where it left a small, barely-noticeable mark.

"Petrificus Totalus!" Harry then returned fire. His Body-Binding Curse was a bit off the mark, but still hit the Malfoy heir, ensuring that he could not continue this fight. This was followed by a moment of silence. "Can someone please take him away from here?" The green-eyed teen asked then, nodding towards his defeated adversary. In response, Crabbe and Goyle separated themselves from the crowd - Harry was actually surprised that they hadn't been by Malfoy's from the very beginning - and quickly dragged the downed blonde away.

"That was some great talking you did there to dissuade the Malfoy brat from dueling, Mr. Potter." Salazar's portrait spoke up. "You once again prove that you belong in my House."

"Thank you, Lord Slytherin." Harry replied. "It was something I came up with on the spot to try to avoid fighting. And, as you saw, it didn't work."

"Nevertheless, it was a good attempt." The man said. "It shows that the Sorting Hat made no mistake when it made you a Slytherin, no matter what the others might be saying." Thanking the Founder's portrait again, The Potter scion went back to his Potions essay. After all, as much as he would like it to, it just wouldn't write itself.

Later that day, after the dinner and after a visit to the Hospital wing for his Potions, Harry approached Daphne in the Slytherin common room.

"What can I do for you, Harry?" The Greengrass heiress asked.

"Well… I wanted to ask you a question or two about what had happened on the day I was… attacked." He began. "I've heard that Flora and Hestia were attacked as well, but I don't really know any details. And I'd rather not ask them directly because I don't want to evoke bad memories in them. So I'm asking you, one of their closest friends." The girl let out a small sigh.

"I see..." Daphne said. "To be honest, I don't think anyone but them knows what exactly had happened that day. What I can tell you is that Flora and Hestia too were taken to 's, though they did return the following afternoon." Harry nodded. That confirmed some of the things he suspected and feared. Whatever those two bastards had done, it was quite bad. And it obviously was meant to break their relationship.

It kind of worked too as while the twins still clearly wanted to be with him, they now were afraid of getting too close. Which effectively put their relationship on hold.

Alas, even knowing that did little to help Harry with this whole situation. Despite promising Lady Carrow that he will be there for Flora and Hestia, he had absolutely no idea what he could do to help his girlfriends, no matter how much he wanted to.

"Thank you." He replied, still deep in his thoughts.

"Are you okay, Harry?" Daphne asked, noticing how distracted he suddenly became.

"Yeah." He said. "Maybe." He continued after quite a long pause. "It's just… I want to help them, but I don't know how to." The Greengrass heiress nodded.

"Me too." She said. "Me too…"

Harry sat on his bed breathing raggedly as he did his best to calm down after waking up from a nightmare - an even more horrific and hopeless version of what had happened to him.

As he finally got hold of himself somewhat, the young Potter couldn't help but note that he surprisingly hadn't had any nightmares while at 's. Either he had been continuously fed Dreamless Sleep Potion during the week he had spent there without noticing that, or the Magical hospital employed some other means to ward patients' nightmares away. In any case, it wasn't there anymore, so bad dreams were now free to plague him.

With a sigh Harry glanced at his alarm clock and saw that it was only half past one in the morning. Early enough that he could, and probably should, go back to sleep. Except he was scared that he'll find himself in another nightmare.

He needed a dose of Dreamless Sleep Potion. Or something else that would let him sleep peacefully. The former was the easiest solution to his problems and, thus, a trip to the Hospital Wing was in order.

With another sigh, Harry climbed out of his bed and, after throwing on a cloak, headed for Madam Pomfrey's domain. The common room was mostly empty, save for a couple of seventh-year students still working on whatever projects they needed done. And they were so occupied by their work, that they probably didn't even notice him walk past them.

Professor Snape, into whom Harry ran almost as soon as he stepped out of the common room and into the dungeons proper, most definitely noticed him right away.

"Going somewhere, Mr. Potter?" The Potions Master asked.

"To the Hospital Wing." The green-eyed teen replied honestly. His Head of the House gave him a long look before letting out a sigh.

"Nightmares?" He asked. Harry merely nodded in response. "I keep a few vials of Dreamless Sleep Potion and Calming Draught in my office." The man said next. Then he turned around on his heels, his robes billowing dramatically behind him in the non-existent wind, and headed off to his office. "Come, I'll give you some."

"Thank you, Sir." Harry said as he hurried after his Head of the House.

~/ *** \~

During the week had spent in 's, Harry had come to a conclusion that he needed to learn a lot more about fighting with his wand than was normally taught at Hogwarts. Indeed, being a straight-O student in Charms and DADA didn't actually translate into him being able to defend himself against an attack on his person. Alecto and Amycus Carrow made that abundantly clear.

And after weighing his options, the Potter heir concluded that Professor Flitwick was the best person to teach him about Magical combat. And so, at the end of Charms class, he approached the man.

"Excuse me, Professor." Harry began.

"Anything I can help you with, Mr. Potter?" The Charms Professor asked. "I hope that you didn't have much trouble keeping up with the class." Harry waved his hands. He had copied the notes on the classes he had missed from his friends and, thankfully, nothing there looked too complicated.

"I'm alright, Professor. I wanted to talk about something else." He said. "Can you please teach me how to fight, Professor." The short wizard was silent for a few long moments before speaking:

"I can see why you would want to know more about using your wand for Magical combat, Mr. Potter, but I'm surprised you're approaching me first. I thought that Alastor - Professor Moody - would've been your first choice." He said. Harry had indeed thought about asking the retired Master Auror to train him, but after some thinking he decided against that.

"I will admit that there is a lot Professor Moody can teach me, but I'm not naive enough to believe that I can learn everything in just a few months. And Professor Moody had explicitly said that he won't be returning next year." The young Potter said. "But I can learn just as much from you, Professor. Were you not a dueling champion in your youth and are you not a veteran of the Blood War?" Filius nodded, acknowledging the point brought up.

"I see…" He said. There was a short pause before he continued: "I will agree to teach you what I can as long as you are willing to put in the effort, Mr. Potter. But I must warn you that between my duties as the Hogwarts' Charms Professor and the Head of Ravenclaw I might not be able to schedule these lessons for you in a consistent manner."

"I understand, Professor." Harry said. "And thank you."

"Of course, of course. What kind of an educator would I be if I turned away someone who wants to learn?" The Charms Master said. Then, remembering something, he added: "One more thing, though, Mr. Potter. Has Madam Pomfrey cleared you for something as strenuous as Magical combat already?"

"Not yet." Harry replied sheepishly, making Professor Flitwick sigh.

"As much as I can understand your desire to never go through that again, you should let your body finish healing first. You'll just be hurting yourself otherwise." He said. "We won't be starting until Madam Pomfrey gives you a clean bill of health."

"Of course." The young Potter agreed. "But you will teach me once I finish recovering, right, Professor?" He asked then.

"Certainly, Mr. Potter." The Charms Master said.

"Thank you again, Professor." Harry said as he gave the man a small bow before hurrying out of the classrooms to catch up with his classmates.

~/ *** \~

With everything that had happened in his life recently, the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend - and the meeting with Mr. Hall about the designs for the new Potter manor - nearly slipped from Harry's mind.

Thankfully, the notice board in the Slytherin common room was there to remind him of it. As were the younger students speculating about what the village would be like. Indeed, for those who haven't been there yet, Hogsmeade was a mystery to be explored and not just a place to buy things. And, to be honest, Harry was a bit jealous of them because of it.

Anyhow, while his meeting with Mr. Hall was scheduled for early afternoon, the Potter heir didn't think he would have much time to hang out with his friends before then, so he didn't make any plans beyond sharing a carriage on the way to the village with them. And, perhaps, visiting Honeydukes and Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop if the crowds aren't too bad.

His friends and, especially, Flora and Hestia weren't exactly happy about that, but they understood how important his meeting with Mr. Hall is and only complained jokingly that he didn't love them anymore.

As the six teens approached the castle's main doors, they quickly noticed that wasn't the one making sure that all students going to Hogsmeade had a signed permission from their guardians. Instead, it was Professor McGonagall.

" hasn't been himself since the attack and almost never leaves his office now." Daphne answered Harry's unspoken question. "The investigation might have concluded that he wasn't an accomplice, but merely being a suspect took a heavy toll on him."

"I see…" Was all that the green-eyed wizard could say in response.

While Professor McGonagall was just as meticulous when it came to checking the Hogsmeade permission slips, she somehow needed less than half of the time did. Thus, it wasn't long before it was Harry's and his friends' turn. Professor Snape, however, has submitted the list of his students who were allowed to visit Hogsmeade ahead of time, so the Deputy Headmistress only needed to check that their names were on this list. The whole thing took maybe thirty seconds and then the clique was on their way to board the 'horseless' carriages.

The trip to Hogsmeade, likewise, was rather uneventful. Daphne, Blaise and, especially, Tracey still had a few questions about the village and the older trio did their best to fill them in while they rode there.

Upon arriving at their destinations, Harry and co disembarked from the carriage and headed straight for the Honeydukes. And while they definitely weren't the first ones to get there, the shop wasn't terribly crowded yet so the clique went inside to stock up on sweets.

Of course, with so many people picking up sweet-stuff and only a single shopkeeper to serve them all it was quite some time before the clique was able to buy everything they wanted. In fact, by the time they left Honeydukes, Harry had little less than an hour before his meeting with Mr. Hall.

And since he had no idea how long it would take - probably a few hours since they will be going over the designs for the new Potter manor the man had come up with - he decided that having an early lunch would be a good idea. Flora and Hestia decided to join him, for a cup of coffee and some pastries if not for a proper meal. Daphne, Tracey and Blaise, on the other hand, chose to go on and continue exploring the village.

"So… What would you like with your coffee? You'll be having coffee, right?" Harry asked his girlfriends as the three of them made their way to The Three Broomsticks.

"Yes, and I'd like a chocolate cream croissant if they have them." Hestia said after thinking about it for a few seconds. Her sister took a few moments longer to decide:

"And I think I'll have a puff with cherry jam."

"Alright." The young wizard said with a nod.

As they entered the pub, which, thankfully, wasn't too crowded yet, they split up with Harry going straight to the counter to make an order while the twins went to claim a table. They ended up picking one near the back of the pub's main hall. It wasn't a big one, though - just big enough for the three of them - so Harry didn't feel bad about asking Madam Rosmerta about renting one of the private rooms for his meeting with Mr. Hall.

"So…" Flora began once Harry brought the food to their table. "Any ideas on what your architect has come up with for the manor?" The green-eyed teen shook his head.

"No, he didn't say much beyond having made several designs for me to choose from." He said. "I hope that whatever he has come up with is a lot like the Greengrass manor. I really liked how nice and airy that place is." The twins nodded.

"Yeah." Hestia said. "Daphne's home is really great." There was a rather long pause, before she asked: "Will you show us the design you choose?"

"Once it's finalized, perhaps?" Harry said unsurely. "I mean, today Mr. Hall will be showing only the first drafts. Those might be quite different from the final design." The girls pouted.

"C'mon, Harry."

"Fine, fine." He surrendered. "I'll make a copy of whichever design we end up choosing for you."

"Good boy." Flora said.

Their conversation died off after that and the young wizard focused fully on his meal. By the time he was done with it, his meeting with Mr. Hall was only ten or so minutes away.

"Alright, Harry." Flora said as she and Hestia got up from the table. "I guess it's time for us to go browse the local shops some more. Good luck with your meeting."

"Thank you." He replied.

Once the twins left, he made his way to the pub's counter.

"Had a nice meal, Mr. Potter?" Madam Rosmerta asked once she finished taking an order from a trio of older Gryffindor girls.

"Yes, thank you." He said in response. "Can I have the key to a private meeting room?" He asked then.

"One moment." The witch said before disappearing into an utility room. She returned a moment later with an ornate bronze key in her hands. "Room number three on the second floor." She said as she handed the key over to Harry. "Do you know how long your meeting will last, Mr. Potter?"

"No idea, really. Probably a couple of hours." He said with a shrug.

"Alright, You'll pay the rent when you're done then. You remember the tariff?" Giving Madam Rosmerta a nod, Harry stepped away from the counter and leaned against the wall lightly as he waited for Mr. Hall to arrive. He didn't have to wait for long as the man showed up not three minutes later.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Potter." The elderly architect greeted him. "Nice to see you in perfect health."

"Thank you." Harry replied as he shook the man's hand. "Anything you want to order before we begin our meeting?" He asked then. Mr. Hall thought about it for a moment before saying:

"I'll have a cup of coffee."

"Of course." Madam Rosmerta, who heard them, said. "It will be delivered to your meeting room."

"Lead the way then, Mr. Potter." The architect said. The green-eyed wizard nodded and the two of them went up to the pub's second floor. Quickly finding room number three, Harry unlocked the door with the key and stepped inside.

The room wasn't particularly big, though it couldn't be called small either. On the wall opposite of the entrance there were two windows covered with thick curtains, while the two adjacent walls held a pair of ornate bronze candelabras each. In the center of the room, there was a large rectangular table, surrounded on three sides with sofas. Finally, affixed on the wall next to the door and acting like hangers for coats and hats there were three sets of deer antlers.

With a wave of his wand Mr. Hall lit up the candles, lighting up the room. He then took off his cloak and took a seat at the table. Harry joined him there a few moments later. Once the two of them were seated, the architect picked a thick stack of parchments from his leather, worn-with-age portfolio.

"Before we actually get to reviewing the manor designs I've made for you, there is one thing I should mention." He said. "Since you've asked for the manor to have a classic look, the sketches of facades I've made have the ground floor built from bricks rather than wood like you originally wanted. Is that alright with you, Mr. Potter?"

"Yes." Harry said with a nod.

"Alright then." The architect began. Before he could say anything else, though, a house elf popped in with his coffee. After taking a sip from the cup, he continued: "Let's have a look at the layouts I've come up with." He said while placing three large pieces of parchment in front of Harry, each depicting a different manor design.

The first parchment showed a very compact building with three floors and a French roof. Mr. Hall must have used some really neat tricks to fit all the rooms a manor needed into a house of that size, and the Potter heir wanted to hear how he managed to accomplish that.

Meanwhile, the second design went in the opposite direction resulting in a manor that was long and squat, to the point where it actually evoked an image of a large longhouse. It wasn't an actual longhouse of course - the building was two storey tall and had many rooms on each floor - but the outward resemblance was definitely there.

The third and final design was something of a middle ground between the other two. It was bigger than the first one and didn't look as 'flat' as the second one. Unlike those two, however, it didn't have a single roofline. Instead, it had a three-storeys-tall central block which extended symmetrically into two wings that were two floors plus a mansard instead.

Overall, this last design appealed to Harry the most, but, of course, he needed to see more details about all of them before picking one.

So, he picked the parchment with the first design and gave it a more thorough look. And as he studied the proposed floor layout, he quickly noticed that there was no ballroom, even though one was very much needed. Indeed, as the future Lord Potter he will have to host large parties at some point - something that he could hardly do if his manor has no ballroom. So he asked Mr. Hall about it.

"Yes, indeed, this design doesn't have a dedicated ballroom." The architect said. "Instead, this design borrows an interesting idea that, I've heard, is gaining some traction in the Muggle world. Something called 'reconfigurable space'. See these rooms over here." He said, pointing at the ground floor's plan. "The walls between them can be removed. Move your furniture away to a storage room and, voila, you have a ballroom."

"That's a neat idea." Harry agreed. "But I really don't think it should be used in a manor. No offense."

"None taken." Mr. Hall said as he shook his head. Still, the green-eyed teen could help but feel like he had miffed the man by dismissing the design that must have taken him hours upon hours of hard work to make so quickly.

"Why don't we talk about this design next?" Harry said then as he pulled the sheet of parchment with the 'longhouse' manor closer.

"Alright." Mr. Hall said. "What would you like to know about this design here?"

Their meeting went on for a little over three hours and ended with the third design being chosen as the basis for the new Potter manor. Quite a few alterations will be made to it, however, since Harry found the original floor layouts to not be entirely to his liking.

He also asked Mr. Hall if it would be possible to extend the wings a little further, both to increase available space and because he believed that the manor would look better like that. The old architect agreed to play around with that idea and send him sketches of the updated design.

Then, with the man's permission, Harry made a copy of the parchment with the 'winning' manor design so that he could share it with his friends. And with that their meeting was over; they shook their hands and went their own ways…

After paying Madam Rosmerta the rent for the meeting room, Harry stepped out of the pub and glanced at his watch. While his meeting with Mr. Hall took a little longer than he had planned for, he still had some time before he needed to head back to the castle so he decided to do some window-shopping in the village. And if he ran into any of his friends there - all the better.

That's all, folks!
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