[a/n]Sequel to #152
Harry Does Different CCCLXXXVII
Minerva McGonagall kept her word, changes occurred at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They were little things mainly, nothing a First Year would even notice, especially not a Muggle raised one like Harry Potter. Something new added here, or an old custom dropped, or sometimes what proved to be an OLD rule came back. By mid October the upper Years were talking.
Potions changed the most for Gryffindor First Years, in which where Harry …especially in the earliest classes, was singled out for subtle and sometimes not so subtle ridicule… He was treated as a complete non-entity. This, for him was something of a victory. But a major change came when he wrote a brief letter to Flourish & Blotts.
FLOURISH AND BLOTTS
The book by Imelda Staunton about Occlumency was a great help in so many ways. I feel smarter. I can do two, sometimes three, things at once. I skipped to the end and read about the next step. I know it's sort of cheating, but I was wondering if you can send me the next in the series.
You see, I ran into some trouble with a professor who didn't like me right from the start. Called me a bunch of names and asked questions you couldn't know first day. Even getting one half right was too much. Accused me of cheating. Anyway, made him feel he could poke around in my head.
I enclose 10 Galleons with this letter. If more is needed I will gladly send.
Harry Potter, Gryffindor Tower, Hogwarts
The young clerk was both impressed with the substantial overpayment and angry the boy got his mind invaded. She didn't know much about the art itself as she was nowhere near important enough to have someone interested in reading her thoughts "Poor Harry Potter. And so generous. Gryffindor? Well… no one's perfect. Enough for both books AND a tip." Bliss rang up the sale, tied the books to the large White owl and sent her off, pocketing the change.
"Wha'chu got there Harry?" Hermione looked up curiously from reading her Charms book while eating Corn Flakes.
He rewarded his faithful owl with a bacon treat from his plate and petted her "Thank you Hedwig, good job. Books two and three by Imelda Staunton. Seems I made a friend in Diagon Alley." To the pair of onlookers he offered, holding up the package "Ever wonder why Snape catches you out so much?"
"No way! Bloody hell!" they exclaimed in stereo "Explains our detention record." The books were INTERMEDIATE OCCLUMENCY and DEFENSIVE LEGILIMENCY by Imelda Staunton.
Hermione was barely holding back from grabbing one "Can I …can i- - -?"
"Looking to even the competition Granger?" asked George.
Fred gave a conspiratorial wink "Wouldn't do it Harry? Besides, if she wants them you should make sure your girlfriend gets the sales bonus."
"Your attention please." The tapping of silverware on a goblet ended the breakfast conversation, Professor McGonagall was speaking "With Headmaster Dumbledore's kind permission I have an announcement. You have noticed some changes of late, this is the culmination. Three of my proudest moments have been becoming a professor, becoming Head of Gryffindor and becoming Deputy Headmistress. I have performed all three for several years, however, of late it has become apparent to me that there can be a conflict between the latter two positions. Gryffindors, Professor Sinistra will …effective immediately… be your new Head of House."
The youngish dark-skinned witch in olive robes stood and nodded curtly to her "Thank you, Professor McGonagall. Headmaster. I have taught all of you for your entire educations to date, so you know me. Without implying criticism, I will make some changes to how Gryffindor is run. However, do not assume, I will notify you of a change. After supper tonight we will meet in the Common Room, attendance is required."
"Congratulations Professor Sinistra." Said Dumbledore, putting his mark on the occasion "And let me assure everyone, our Deputy Headmistress continues with my full support."
This was the news of the month. Letters went home and responses expressed parental concern, both to students and addressed to the staff. The newness began to wear off as Christmas approached. For Gryffindors there was largely unused Head's office in the tower returning to regular use, even if the married teacher did not spend the night on campus. Everyone talked about the surge in Gryffindor's point total but couldn't be quite explained.
Not visible to the students was the plight of Professor Snape. His relationship with Professor McGonagall deteriorated drastically with the change. Long used to complete autonomy in running his classroom, there had been more than one evening conference concerning his conduct. And while there were multiple concerning examples, he knew the main source of complaints had to be his First Years, specifically "The Potter brat!"
"Beg pardon sir." Children were anticipating Yule Week but Potions was as serious as any other day. And Harry, despite the professor's wishes and some severe grading, was among the best "What is the purpose of dicing the lacewing flies instead of crushing them?"
It was a reasonable question, but even the imagined smell of the clone of his nemesis frayed at Snape's self control. The building resentment at his recently activist superior boiled over. He snarled "You HAVE been playing me for a fool boy! And I intend to prove it!" This was not a surface probe that all of the brat's friends could now detect and push back. This was a hard tight beam of thought. He would blast aside that false image of his childhood love before it had a chance to form and ransack.
Harry had, for weeks, been aware of occasional brushes against his developing mental defenses. He reported them all to the Deputy Headmistress, who was gathering evidence and building a case. She also took seriously the reports of the other Gryffindors who had ordered copies of books from Bliss. Harry had not fully studied the Intermediate book, but the more his mind was tested, the more determined he came to protect his privacy. He found an interesting chapter in the third book and focused on it.
Student screeched in pain, dropped his knife and collapsed. The professor, about two seconds did as well. This is what the class full of witnesses saw. Draco Malfoy tore out of the classroom at top speed yelling "MADAM POMFREY! MADAM POMFREY! PROFESSOR SNAPE IS HURT!"
"Goooooood morning Hermione." Harry yawned and rolled in bed, his motion pushed several books to the floor. He only grinned "So have I been out long enough for you to top me in the standings?"
The young witch's response was a grimace without words. At first, she bent to pick up the mess, but then smiled "Oh Harry! I'm so glad you're awake! Ron and I were so worried. We have been staying in shifts. Three days!"
"If you thought my Potions grade gave you competition before, wait'll you see me now." Bragged Harry as he propped up his pillow.
Hermione frowned at the response, but then exclaimed "Oh right! Madam Pomfrey told me to come get her when you woke. Be right back."
"Professors!" the boy was quite surprised when his friend returned with, not one, but four, adults.
His Head of House managed to get in a syllable ahead "We are pleased to see you relatively healthy Mr. Potter."
"Thank you Professor Sinistra." He replied in the same formal tone.
McGonagall added her "Indeed, very."
"It does my old heart good to see you up Harry. Do you know what happened? Both to you and Professor Snape?" asked Dumbledore "And …please excuse us, Miss Granger."
As she got up, Harry grabbed her hand and shook his head "No real point, sir. There isn't a word I won't tell her anyway. As it is I'll have to repeat it for Ron."
"Mr. Potter, Professor Dumbledore gave an order." Said McGonagall sternly "He was only courteous enough to phrase it as a request. Miss Granger will go."
The boy did not relinquish the girl's hand, even when she pulled. His tone was not that of a child "As long as Hermione is here, I will talk. The minute she leaves, I shut up. Think I'm kidding? Try me."
"Well, I do not imagine discipline will suffer much as there were no witnesses. Speak on Harry." ordered The Headmaster in such a way as to enforce authority "While you seem recovered and whole, Professor Snape remains unconscious and Madam Pomfrey needs information to help him."
To this Harry shrugged "Those books on Occlumency are great. Snape used legilimency on me again."
"I shall not repeat myself, Mr. Potter." There was a glance between the senior witches before the new Head of Gryffindor went on "Professor Snape is a Hogwarts teacher and will have respect at all times."
If he were just a boy facing such a group he would be intimidated, but the incident in the classroom did more than they knew "Flourish and Blotts sent me more of those Staunton books. Snivilus used so much power I couldn't keep him out."
"I know the books to which you refer, Harry. Imelda only authored two on the subject." Dumbledore sounded absolutely certain of his information "And where did you hear that word?"
The boy in the bed grinned in a way that only an adult would "There's a battle strategy that was used a lot during World War Two. Funny thing, it's called the cauldron. You let the enemy through your front door, then when he's come far enough you cut him off from his rear."
"The Germans and the Soviets. What does that have to do with legilimency Harry?" asked Hermione.
He just smiled "I did exactly that. I yanked on the attacking force, pulled it all the way in and then, poof! Added bonus, I got all Snape's memories to sort through. I could probably take NEWTs once I get it organized. And to answer your question, Professor, James Potter, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black. I don't think Sinvilus is coming back, Madam Pomfrey."
"You murdered a man in cold blood. Harry I am highly disappointed. There will have to be an investigation. Minerva, Aurora, come." Dumbledore stood, turned his back and stormed out.
Hermione turned back after the professors were out of sight and the door was closing "Harry aren't you worried?"
"Not especially, it's called self defense. What about you? Are we ok?" this was his main concern.
She gave a hesitant nod "My father was in the army. It paid for medical school. He'd had to defend himself, in Northern Ireland. I think so. Let me go get Ron. On the plus side I'm sure George and Fred with declare you a hero."
"That's nice. Don't quite feel like one." Was his unenthusiastic reply.
She left quietly, but not without giving a sad smile.