Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Trollhunters, nor anything else recognizable. No profit is coming from this. I am merely playing in their sandbox.
Whelp. Despite its short length, this chapter was harder to write that I had expected. I knew that I needed it for various reasons, but there are only a few things that needed to happen within it. Therein lay my problem of where to end it and how much it should actually contain. I hope it is better than I think it is.. As always, it is unbetaed so I'm sure I've managed to miss grammar errors. Let me know if you see them and I'll fix them ASAP!
Sorry this is a bit delayed… I sorta got sidetracked by a story idea that wouldn't leave me alone. The result of my distractions was posted earlier this week, if you want to check that out.
Anyways, lets get right into the story!
Harry Potter and the Glory of Merlin
Chapter 10: Surprise, Surprise
After a comparatively short carriage ride up to the main entry to Hogwarts, Harry and his friends followed the rest of their peers into the impeccably decorated Great Hall of Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione quickly claimed their seats, sitting nearby to the rest of the year mates. Harry failed to notice some of the whispers and dirty looks being shot his way as he took in the sights of his home.
Oh how he had missed Hogwarts.
The Great Hall seemed especially beautiful that night. With all the decorations and floating candles lit to commensurate the start of the new year, Hogwarts was practically glowing. This was only highlighted by the crystal clear night sky that could be seen on the ceiling. Looking up, Harry could make out many of the constellations he had learned about in his Astronomy class. Pale ghosts hovered here and there as they chatted amiably with students and other ghosts alike. The four long House tables were slowly filling up as more and more students filled in through the doors. A sort of hum could be heard as all the students' — regardless of age and House— voices merged into a sort of incomprehensible background noice.
It truly was his home. Harry didn't know where he would be if not for the school. A lot more miserable, that's for sure. He figured that by now, the Dursley's would have found some way to get him to drop out of school, and he would be working at some fast food joint. They probably would have kicked him out by now too, if the wizards hadn't been breathing down their necks. Harry wasn't entirely sure if that last notion would upset him however. A life with no Dursleys— even one as pathetic as the one he had just thought up— was still a life with no Dursleys.
As for Hogwarts, the place seemed to hum with life; the very walls felt magical. Harry was certain that he couldn't be the only person who could feel it. In fact, now that he thought about it, it rather reminded him of the
"It seems we have two new teachers this year instead of one." Hermione mused from beside him. "I wonder who is teaching what. Obviously one of them is our Defense teacher. Hagrid is missing too. Did you notice that he wasn't the one calling for the first years this year?"
"Huh." Harry acknowledged as he followed Hermione's gaze up to the head table. Harry's eyes surveyed the teachers, most of which he recognized, even if he had not had any classes with a few of them. His eyes finally stopped on a woman sitting primly towards the end.
'That's the woman from the trial!' Harry thought with a small amount of shock. Sure enough, the woman was even wearing the same outrageously pink robes that she had been sporting at the trial less than a month ago. The only difference that Harry could note was that her already smug face was pinched in a way that made her look even more toad-like in appearance. Harry suppressed a shudder before he allowed his eyes to drift to the seat on the left of toad-face.
If the woman's appearance had taken him by surprise, the man sitting next to her made his mouth drop open in shock. Sitting next to her— and talking amiably, Harry noted with no small amount of disgust— was none other than Stricklander.
'What is he doing here?!' Harry wondered. From the lessons he had had with the man, er.. troll, and the few he had had with Blinky, Harry knew that the trolls had not been in contact with the wizards since around the time of Merlin, and even then, their contact was somewhat discouraged. So what was a changeling doing in a wizarding school? It wasn't like he could teach any wizarding classes. Harry knew for a fact that Stricklander couldn't use a wand. Heck, he had never even seen a wand before Harry had shown his to him one day.
"You alright Harry?" Hermione asked breaking his line of though. Snapping his still gaping mouth closed, Harry turned his attention towards the girl sitting on his right.
"Er, yeah." He flicked his eyes back up to the head table, and they momentarily connected with Stricklander's. Harry could see the his lips slightly curve upwards in amusement as Stricklander raised an eyebrow before turning his attention back to his conversation with toad-face.
He was enjoying this.
"Th-that's the woman from my trial…" Harry continued lamely. "I wonder what she is doing here."
"Oh!" Hermione stated, surprised. Her gaze also shifted up to the head table as she took another glance at the woman. "That is odd. We have never had a ministry official join us for dinner before. I wonder who the man next to her is."
"He seems kinda chummy with the toad-woman," Ron chimed in, saving Harry from having to answer. Ron's nose was wrinkled in slight distaste. "Maybe they are work buddies!"
"That is not a very nice thing to call her, Ronald!" Hermione corrected somewhat automatically, "Although you are not wrong. They do seem to be getting along rather well! Well, if they are not teachers, I wonder who is teaching DADA. They are the only two new faces sitting up there."
Before their conversation could continue, the first years had finally arrived and the sorting began. Besides clapping when the rest of the Gryffindors clapped, Harry did not pay that much attention to the sorting. Instead, he directed his attention to trying to figure out what Stricklander was doing at Hogwarts. Since that first time, Stricklander had not again made eye contact with Harry.
Perhaps, Stricklander was here for him?
The idea had merit, Harry supposed, but Harry rather disliked thinking that everything had to be about him. Though, it really was the only basic reason he could think for the changeling's sudden appearance. After all, Harry had only trained with the Amulet for a measly few weeks, it would make sense that the trolls would be looking to continue training their champion.
Harry had kinda hoped that he could continue his training with the amulet at Hogwarts. He had actually intended to train himself, however, it would be far easier to make sure that he was not learning any bad habits if he had someone guiding his training. It would be awesome to actually be able to incorporate magic into his fighting style. That was something that he and the changeling had discussed, but never been able to actually put into practice since Harry was underage. Now that he was back at Hogwarts, he could legally use his wand again.
But that still didn't explain what he was doing currently— or even how, for that matter Stricklander had managed to get himself into a wizarding school… Couldn't the changeling just meet him in the Forbidden Forest a few nights a week or something to that effect? It was clear that he was capable of getting on the schools grounds after all.
Finally, the long line of first years disappeared as the last ones finally joined their new houses and Dumbledore rose to feet. Any murmurs that had still been taking place among the four houses fell silent as all eyes fell on the aged professor before them.
"To our newcomers," Dumbledore said, beginning his speech with a benign smile, "welcome! And to our older students and professors, welcome back! Now tuck in!"
And on that note, there was an array of rich food that suddenly appeared on the tables before him. Harry could almost hear the tables groan as the sudden weight of food was placed upon them. He busied himself with piling food onto his plate in order to distract him with everything that was going on.
All throughout dinner, and then dessert, his housemates engaged in small talk about this and that. Harry himself attempted to join in a few times, but for the most part, he was too distracted by the changeling's appearance and what it could mean for him. He had noticed both Hermione and Ron throwing concerned looks his direction for the duration of their meal, but he couldn't be bothered to respond to their worry. Harry didn't even know why he was so worried.
After all, he liked Stricklander. Actually, Stricklander rated as one of his favorite adults. Not that there was a lot of competition, but still! Harry just couldn't shake the feeling that the changeling being there was only going to make his life that much more interesting… and after his last four years at Hogwarts, Harry was pretty sure he had had enough interesting to last a lifetime.
Maybe Harry was just kidding himself. After all, he didn't need the trolls interference to make any given year at Hogwarts exciting.
Deep in his heart, Harry knew why the changeling's appearance had thrown him for such a loop. Before the trolls had entered his life, Harry had already lived two separate lives; his relatives 'no good nephew', and the wizarding world's savior. While he loved the wizards, and wanted nothing more to join his godfather, Sirius, as a part of the wizarding world fully, he was old enough to understand that that was not likely to happen.
No, he was going to be stuck as a part of both worlds, but never fully belonging to either. He was used to being shuffled between both worlds. This had become the new norm for him. Not being allowed to talk about his adventures in the wizarding world to the muggles, and not being able to talk about his summers in the muggle world, due to the wizards not understanding… that was normal.
And then the trolls had come, and disrupted his entire concept of normality.
Suddenly, he was juggling three identities. But it was okay, because the trolls followed the same rules that the other two societies had already set up for him: keep our secrets; don't let anyone know we exist. And the same situation for Harry continued. Here he was, again, a very prominent figure for yet another secret society, and still feeling like he was only looking in through the window.
He wasn't stupid.
Harry knew that the trolls would not want anything to do with him if not for the Amulet that was currently residing in his pocket.
It seemed that two of his identities were crashing together.
And Harry didn't know how to deal with that.
"Now if I could have your attention." Dumbledore called out as he stood, breaking Harry from his thoughts. All around, the last remnants of food began to clear from the tables.
"I would first like to point out to our new students that the Forbidden Forest is, in fact forbidden, as I'm sure our older students should be well aware of by now. Second, lists of banned items and rules are posted in each of your common rooms. Please be sure to check them if you are ever uncertain.
"I'd also like to welcome two new professors to our staff this year. Professor Umbridge will be taking over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Professor Strickler will be taking over the Muggle Studies class for Professor Burbage, who has decided to retire for personal reasons. Also, Professor Grubbly-Plank will be temporarily be taking over for Professor Hagrid…"
Harry felt his breath catch. 'Muggle Studies! How in Merlin's name did he manage that?'
It did make a lot of sense, Harry mused when he thought about it. It was the only teaching position on Hogwarts staff that really didn't require an ounce of magic.
Too bad Harry didn't actually take the class.
It would be tricky for him to get close to Stricklander without raising any suspicion.
"Hem, hem." Dumbledore's speech was cutoff as he turned his head towards the pink toad masquerading as a professor. Taking his surprised pause, as an opening, the witch started speaking in her girlish squeaky voice. If Harry hadn't already decided that he disliked her, he was pretty sure he would now. "Thank you Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome! I am so thrilled that I get to know all of you. I am sure we will all be the best of friends!"
Her speech continued, but Harry started tuning her out. There was only so much of her girly patronizing tone that he could take. He did hear, however that her being here had something to do with the Ministry of Magic wanting influence in Hogwarts, however he had already figured that out before hearing the toad speak.
As her speech finally wrapped up, a few of the students clapped, though if Harry had to wager, he would assume that they were more clapping because she had finally stopped talking rather than due to the contents of her speech. The professors at the head table also clapped, but none were that enthusiastic. Harry even noted that a few of the professors only brought their hands together once before replacing them on their laps.
"Teaching! Of all the disrespectful..!" Hermione muttered angrily under her breath.
Ron looked confused. "What?"
"Weren't you listening?"
"Listening? Are you kidding?" Ron snorted. "That has to be the most boring speech that I've ever heard! I think I stopped paying attention after she started claiming we would 'all be friends'."
"Honestly." Hermione said with a roll of her eyes. However, she didn't look like she blamed him. "She was basically saying that the Ministry is going to interfere with Hogwarts. It probably has to do with the Minister's determination to deface Dumbledore. We will all have to tread carefully this year. You especially, Harry."
Harry nodded seriously. He had already figured that much. All around them, students began shuffling and moving towards the doors.
He glanced up once more towards where Stricklander had been seated, only to find the man already turned his back and was walking towards one of the back doors. With a sigh, he began to get up and make his way out of the Great Hall.
"Well, we had better be off. We need to help guide the new first years." Hermione said.
Ron blinked. "Oh. Right!"
"See you later then." With that, Harry made his way out of the Great Hall, alone. He tried his best to ignore all of the pointing and staring being directed his way. He wasn't sure whether it was due to the events of last year, the newspapers Hermione had mentioned back at Grimmauld Place talking crap about him, or just his own fame causing his unwanted attention. Honestly, at this point, Harry just didn't care.
He'd deal with it all in the morning.
AN: Sorry again for the wait. However, I think my updates are not going to be as frequent any more. I have pretty much decided to continue my second story, "What Went Wrong" so I am going to have my time divided between both stories from now on.
On a completely different hand, I have opened a poll on my profile for said other story. I don't know if anyone here is actually reading that story, but I'd appreciate any participation I can get for that poll. It will really help me hash out the last minor plot details.
Till next time!