Teaching Luna one on one turned out to be a very different experience from teaching her in a group, Harry realized the following morning.
As soon as they had woken up and eaten, they had trudged up to the top of the College where they could practise in peace. After a minute of admiring the breathtaking sights—the glittering glaciers of white and blues, sparkling seas of rainbow jewels and hues, and the meandering mountains of dominating the landside view, all in the first light of dawn—and applying several layers of warming charms, they began.
Alone and free to ask questions without having to contend with a dozen other voices, the 'lesson' would meander and wander as Harry tried to explain and answer her many, many outlandish questions, making the time simply fly by and allowing quite sneakily dawn to transform into noon. Standing atop the battlements of the tower their quarters were in, they had plenty of space and privacy to practice. The sun rose slowly, perhaps half an hour after they had begun, and they continued for several hours more.
For that matter, teaching Transfiguration was also very different from teaching DADA, as where he had confidence and a clear structure in mind for how to impart spells and the knowledge on how and where to use them, with the slightly weaker subject he floundered slightly from spell to spell without any clear purpose or point. It all seemed very scattered and confusing, despite how often it had been drilled into his head that Transfiguration was the most rigorous and scientific of magical arts. He had promised to help Luna catch up on fifth-year studies, but he hardly remembered what he had been taught in fifth year Transfiguration. Though much of it had been essays and on parchment, and so hardly worth remembering, he supposed in his own defence.
Perhaps it was all just a matter of his own poor overall understanding, something which he lamely thought he should rectify now that he was tutoring the subject.
While she had turned out to be a very skilled and exacting Transfigurer, capable of making finely-detailed work, she did not quite match up to his own when it came to weight or viciousness. To make a large Transfiguration, she needed much longer than he did to complete the spell.
Harry wondered whether he should just teach her Conjuration—since that was what he had been learning himself and remembered best—but ultimately decided against it. Having grown more aware of his own shaky grasp on the finer points of the art of Transfiguration, they settled on practising Vanishing: he clearly remembered Vanishing that iguana in his own O.W.L.s. By noon they had walked the entire circuit of the battlements, Vanishing all the snow and ice covering the stone as they went, having begun making snowmen and various kinds of creatures out of the stuff halfway through to mimic objects and creatures of various sizes and shapes, which turned out to be more fun than the actual lesson.
Regardless of how much fun they had had, Harry walked down the stairs at noon feeling slightly miffed about how out of hid depth he felt. Perhaps he should ask someone at the College for help? The Alteration Master, or perhaps the fellow student who had managed Human Transfiguration on Luna yesterday?
Something to think about while they ate lunch.
Harry hesitated, the arched brow and nasal voice halting the question before he had even managed to utter it. He swallowed and gathered his courage, reminding himself that he was Gryffindor.
"Professor Marence," he began and cringed as her nose curdled up in response, as if she had bitten into a lemon or smelt something sour. "I, uh, I wanted to learn more about Restoration magic."
She peered suspiciously at him. "And I suppose you will be wanting to learn how to heal, then?"
"Err..." He swallowed, before nodding hesitantly. "Yes?"
Colette sniffed and straightened, gaining another inch—though still standing a good three shorter than him—she stared at him disdainfully. "And what wards then? What purpose is there in learning to heal when one could learn to ward instead? This is exactly why I am harassed and looked down upon—why the school of Restoration does not get the recognition it deserves!"
"Erm, well, I think wards are pretty important too," Harry agreed weakly. "But, I'd like to learn about healing, too."
"Of course you do," she said patronizingly. "But Restoration will never grow if it concerns itself solely with merely healing. It can never rise above what already is, if all people seek to do is healing."
Beginning to feel a little fed-up, Harry let loose his tongue. "Well, isn't that was Restoring means?"
Colette went very still and pale, eyeing him with a shocked expression. Biting his tongue to keep from saying anything more, Harry cleared his throat and hoped he hadn't shot down his only chance at learning already.
"That..." she said shakily, bringing a hand up to cover her mouth. "Is that why...?"
Harry kept quiet, waiting for a chance to say something else even as he couldn't think of anything worthwhile.
The Restoration mage looked up, a determined look in her eyes now. "I must change the name!"
And with that she stormed off, leaving a perplexed Harry behind.
"Err, but what about...?"
But she was already gone.
Harry blinked, lowering his extended hand as bewilderment overtook him. Mirabelle had mentioned that Colette could be insecure, but this exceeded the level of just that. How was he supposed to learn if the teachers wouldn't even teach him?
Sighing and shaking his head, he too left.
What was he going to do now? He couldn't just lounge about for the rest of the day. Luna would by now be talking with the Conjuration Master, so he couldn't very well seek her out, nor did he want to with this failure on his hands. Cringing at the thought of having to admit to failing, he ran a hand through his messy hair.
What options did that leave him with then?
Coming out into the courtyard, he sighed and looked up as the gale wind from the sea blew snow into his face. And spotted a tall form walking up ahead.
"...Faralda!" he exclaimed.
The golden-hued elf stopped, turning around and Harry could see the moment she spotted him and he realized that she must have heard him despite being halfway across the courtyard.
"Ah, our newest apprentice—Harry Potter," she said in reply. "Do you intend to come and listen to my lecture?" she asked, her clarion-clear voice carrying clearly across the courtyard.
"On Destruction magic?" Harry asked and jogged up to her, craning his neck to look up at her.
"Indeed," she replied with some amusement. "Though I have decided that perhaps a more temporal subject may be of value, with so many new faces among us."
Harry blinked. "Oh, uh, okay?" Shaking his head, he gathered his Gryffindor courage once anew, suppressing the wince that came with remembering his earlier attempt's crash and burn. "Could we talk afterward?"
"Certainly. I admit to wishing for a conversation with you as well, Harry," she said, giving him a pointed look and upon seeing him nod, turned to continue to her lecture. "We shall discuss further afterward, then."
He nodded and jogged to catch up to her longer strides. She wasn't quite on the level of Madame Maxime—Beauxbatons' half-giant headmistress—but she still towered over just about everyone else, a commonality among the yellow-skinned elves in Skyrim.
Unlike the previous day's lecture with the almost-empty hall, Faralda and Harry entered to find the Hall of the Elements quite full. Noting the numerous apprentice robes, he realized how popular Destruction magic was. Skyrim was a harsh place, so perhaps it made sense.
Spotting a familiar feline figure, Harry walked over to J'zargo and nodding a greeting to the cat-man. The slitted eyes narrowed and the gesture was returned coolly. Beside him was another golden-hued and tall elf, though she had longer hair than Faralda and a very long and pointy face, that made it look like she was perpetually scowling.
Staring down at Harry, her eyes narrowed. "It's lies. All of it. I don't know what she told you, it's all lies."
Having said her piece, she turned a fierce glare at Faralda who was getting ready for the lecture and then turned to stomp on out of the hall.
Turning a confused eye to J'zargo, Harry noted how amused the cat seemed. Perhaps taking pity on the poor confused student, his lips curled into a smirk and whispered with great amusement. "Politics."
"Ah." Harry nodded, as if that explained everything even if it didn't really explain anything and instead turned his attention to Faralda.
She stood tall, facing the crowd and stared them down until finally it quieted.
"Destruction magic has generally come to be known as elemental magic today, and for good reason. As much as some may chortle at the elemental challenge of remembering but three branches, few will deny their effectiveness. Fire, frost and shock are the signatures of battle-magic and have reigned on the ancient Arena since time immemorial. But is that all? Do not the old tales and accounts speak of Destruction magic as so much more? Of enfeebling and draining enemies of their strength and of vanquishing their weapons and armour? These spells still exist and are under the auspice of the school of Destruction.
"Then why are they no longer taught?"
A hushed silence came over the lecture hall as Faralda looked them over with a raised brow.
Seeing as how no one was willing to venture, she shook her head and continued.
"It is simply a matter of time."
"Time and time. As the years pass, more and more spells will accumulate into records. Even today, when one would think that all notable spells should have already been discovered, there seems to be an ever-increasing discovery of new spells." At this, she paused and gave a knowing smile to the crowd. "Of course, most of these spells, are in fact, not new at all. But merely re-discovered and re-researched ventures to the same problems mages have always faced. But should this state of affairs then not lead into an endless accumulation of spells? Into a wealth of magic that would boggle the mind and memory of any apprentice seeking their masteries?"
She paused again for effect, a lone brow encouraging any questions, though none came. So she continued.
"That would be the case, were we to simply satisfy ourselves with research and cataloguing of magical spells and mystical effects. But, as Humius Acidinus wrote, it is in studying the seemingly simplest manifestations of magicka that provide the clearest look into the nature of magic." Faralda nodded, satisfaction at the apparent citation obvious as she let her words sink in. "Some would argue that the school of Destruction is among the simplest of schools, that there could be nothing easier than finding out how to maximize the damage wrought in relation to magicka spent and time used. But, those people will never achieve the highest levels of mastery when it comes to and I would encourage them to read Malviser the Battlemage's response to Illusionist Bero's speech."
Harry wondered if he should have been taking notes, given all the apparent citations and references thrown his way, yet he could not see anyone with either parchment or paper around him, nor was there any surface for taking notes either, standing up as they all were.
Another keenly felt difference to Hogwarts' education.
"Therefore, rather than learning one hundred spells for one hundred problems, seek to master ten and to leverage those masteries into a thousand problems. As you will find out, with merely the three elemental branches, it is more than possible to cover a great many talents." Faralda smiled wickedly, then. "Or don't. It is your coin lining my pockets when you purchase those spells." Satisfied with that, she nodded and there was a smattering of applause which Harry joined in on, as he realized the lecture was over.
"Tomorrow I shall deliver a lecture on the respective strengths of the various elemental branches, for any who wish to tread the path of Destruction."
Walking over to Harry, she said: "Shall we?"
He nodded and followed after her.
But not to her office—as it did not seem as if any of the professors at the College had any—but rather to the Arcanaeum one floor above. Surrounded by books on all sides again, they sat down in the same chairs Luna and Drevis had sat in the day before.
"Well then, what is it that you wished to discuss with me?" Faralda asked, curious.
"Right, well..." He hesitated, thinking back and trying to figure out how much to say. "Today, after noon I tried talking with Colette about Restoration, and well..."
"Ah," the elf smirked.
Harry flushed hotly, accusation off his lips instantly. "You said she would heal members of the College...!"
Unruffled, Faralda shrugged.
"I assume the matter is not life-threatening? Then it is all well in hand."
Raising her hands in a placative gesture, she said: "Colette has always been fickle and insecure. She may have rebuffed—or simply have forgotten you—for now, but sooner or later, if you continue asking, she will be more than happy to accept you as a student."
Blinking as he felt his temper cool, Harry finally nodded, though he remained mostly unconvinced.
"Then, I'd like your help."
"Mine?" Faralda asked with an amused expression. "I am quite capable at Restoration, but I am no healer, Harry."
"But you do know about electric spells, right?" he pressed.
She blinked, leaning back with an uncertain expression. "Eclectic?"
Harry frowned, before he realized that the word was muggle from his world. Without modern technology, was it reasonable to expect them to know it?
"Lightning, I mean," he explained and now the elf nodded. "Luna was hit by lightning and now she has a mark on her arm, one that looks like a spreading fork of lightning."
"A mark...? On her skin, you mean?" Faralda asked and upon his nod, asked further: "Any burns, besides? Or loss of hearing or sight?"
Harry hesitantly shook his head. He had pestered Luna about how she felt and she had said nothing to that effect.
"When was she struck?"
"A couple of days ago... She was pretty weak and tired the next day, too. I tried to find some healing potions but Frida—the potioneer did not have anything on hand."
The elf frowned, looking very confused as she leaned back. "Are you certain that she was struck by lightning?"
"Yes. I was almost hit, too. I know what electricity looks like," he replied a touch sarcastically.
"Ah, of course." Faralda nodded. "You are not speaking of lightning from the sky, but of shock spells."
"There's a difference?" Harry blinked.
"Is there a difference between the fire in a fireplace and the fire in a forest fire?" She asked, brow arched with amusement.
When she put it like that, it seemed quite obvious.
Shaking her head, she continued. "If those are the extents of her injuries, I would not worry overmuch. Shock spells tend to be very dramatic in results, and if she has recovered already to such an extent, then I doubt there will be any further complications."
"Oh," he said, sitting back into the chair relieved.
"I do hope that this means you will not be opting out from tomorrow's lecture."
Harry flushed. He had been thinking that there was no need to attend any further lectures, if Luna was in fact alright. "W-well..."
Having made her point, she changed the subject.
"I would like to see that wand of yours for a moment, if I may?"
"Oh, uh... Sure?" he said, reaching for his wand and then hesitating.
It always felt a little bit awkward—as if it was a private act somehow. Still, she had helped him, so...
"Hmm...?" Faralda curiously looked over the wand in her hands, rolling it around and looking at it from every angle, swishing it once but finding no result. Finally, she handed it back. "A curious enchantment. I've never seen its like before."
Harry nodded, not knowing what to say. "I bought it when I turned eleven. They're pretty common back home."
So far Luna had been quite open about life back home, so he wondered if that would work for him too. Faralda nodded, though she did not appear very interested beyond what she had already figured from her observation of the wand.
"Staves and scrolls are common enough apparel, as are rings and other forms of jewellery..." She said, raising a hand to show a single band of gold around her index finger. "But wands are quite uncommon."
"What about diadems?" Seeing the elf's frown, Harry tried again, gesticulating to show how it was worn. "I mean, tiaras."
"Ah, yes. Circlets. Quite common, often with defensive enchantments."
"Huh..." Well, maybe Luna would be interested to know that, since the diadem seemed to be broken. They didn't talk much more than that, other than the unspoken agreement for Harry to attend tomorrow's lecture as well.
"Hello Enthir," Harry said as he jogged up to the shorter elf who adopted a knowing look.
"And a hello to you, too. Looking for a conversation?"
Harry nodded. "Something like that, yes."
"Alright, let's go somewhere more private." The elf said and motioned for Harry to follow with his head, turning towards the Hall of Attainment and their rooms. They walked all the way back to the second floor of the Hall of Attainment, which as he had understood it was for the senior students.
"Now, what can Enthir fix you up with? I assume Colette turned out to be a, ah, bust...?" Enthir drawled with a smirk.
Shrugging and feeling more than ever that he was dealing with a spiritual brethren of the twins—if perhaps, a touch more dangerous and Dark—he decided that humour would serve him well here. "I might have... put it in her head that she shouldn't call it restoration if she has a problem with healing."
The mohawked man stilled, his eyes peering intently at Harry for a long second. Then he burst out laughing, both hands clutching at his belly as he doubled over and leaned back against the wall for support.
"Ahahah... Oh, oh wow. I had wondered what'd put her in such a tizzy."
Grinning, Harry shrugged again and waited for the elf to gather his wits anew before continuing.
"So, well, I was hoping to discuss buying and selling things with you, actually."
Enthir smiled wickedly and sat down on a chair, motioning for Harry to do the same on another. "Well, well, a customer who understands the value of discretion. I'm impressed, usually I have to deal with the boneheaded researcher types who'll blab about any questionable thing they want to get their hands on right out in the open... So, what are you in the market for?"
The elf chortled and leaned back. "Aren't we all...? But go on."
Here Harry hesitated. He knew that Enthir would be the easiest and fastest of getting money, assuming he operated anything like the twins did, but he didn't know how to convince the other to let him help for a slice of that pie.
"I assume you buy and sell a lot of potions...?"
Neither confirming nor denying it, the elf motioned with his hand for Harry to go on.
"Would you be interested in any potions with... unique effects? Things like..." Harry searched for something from memory, something which might be of interest to the people of Skyrim. It was unexpectedly difficult, as something like a babbling potion or a pompion potion wouldn't be worth much to anyone here.
It would take something like Veritaserum or Polyjuice potion, Harry knew. The problem was, he didn't have the skill to brew either of those. And, more importantly, he would need to find the ingredients himself for any potion he wanted to brew. The list of potions that Harry could brew was actually very short, he was beginning to realize.
Enthir frowned, starting to look impatient.
"An Invigoration Draught?" Harry tried, speaking of the first potion that came to mind that he felt halfway certain about brewing.
"A restorative of some kind?" Enthir leaned back in his chair again, considering. "There's very little demand for healing potions here, mages tend to avoid getting injured as a rule," he said with a smirk. "But... stamina and more importantly magicka restoratives are always popular. Do you have any on hand, then? A sample, if you will?"
Harry shook his head.
"But I can brew some, just as long as I have the ingredients."
Scoffing, the elf threw up his hands. "And this is where I suppose you'll be asking for an advance...?"
"A what?" Harry blinked. "No, I just need... I don't know, maybe a week to gather the ingredients and brew a sample."
"Hmm..." Enthir didn't look quite convinced, but finally nodded with a grimace. Standing up, he walked up to Harry and pointed at him with narrowed eyes. "You'd better make it worth my while, alright? I don't take well to people butting into my business just to waste my time, alright?"
"A week," Harry said, not intimidated by the elf as much as he was by the task before him.
"Well... If that was everything..." The elf opened the door and gestured for Harry to leave.
Finding all of those ingredients wouldn't be easy, as he mentally listed what he remembered: honeywater, vervain, scurvy grass and lovage... Or sneezewort, if he remembered correctly. Wincing, he figured he would ask Luna if she had any ideas on where to find those ingredients.
"Silly Harry. There's too much snow to go looking for herbs."
"Oh, right. Winter."
That did put a rather considerable damper on his plans. No wonder Enthir had appeared so sceptical about Harry finding the ingredients in time. Grimacing, he realized he would probably have to buy all the ingredients. And he had no idea how much it would cost him.
"Maybe Frida or Erandur would know...?"
"Oh, are you going to visit them?" Luna asked, beaming.
"Yeah, they're the only people I can ask," he said and ran a hand through his messy hair, grimacing again.
The boat ride had been like a tumble through a washing machine, but it had left a layer of salt on everything. The fresh new College robes had been a very welcome change of clothes, but his hair was still grimy and had somehow hardened into an even messier and spikier state than usual. He really wanted to figure out how to bathe and soon.
"Anyhow, any luck with Conjuration?" he asked, before remembering his own foibles and failures. "Restoration... didn't go so well. I don't think Colette likes me very much. Or anyone for that matter. But I talked to Faralda and she says you probably don't have anything to worry about. Probably."
"Oh..." Luna blinked, looking down at her arm and the mark she bore there. Already it had faded quite a bit.
"I'm not saying I'll quit trying, though," he hastily reassured her. "If you feel even a little bit under the weather, you'll tell me. Right?"
She nodded serenely, before her gaze began to wander.
"Well, I'm gonna go to Dawnstar now..." Harry said as he got up, noticing the glimmer of excitement in Luna's eyes only as he had already half turned away. "Erm, you wanna come along?"
She nodded twice, all but jumping to throw her shoes back on and coming next to him, humming happily.
Amused, Harry led them back to the battlements where they had practised just this morning. There and out of sight, he offered his elbow and she grabbed a hold of it. Then with an exertion of force and magic, he spun through the world.
The squeezing sensation with Luna in tow was considerably denser compared to when he apparated alone, but somehow the act was coming incredibly naturally to him already. Out of all the magical methods for transportation, apparition was quickly growing to become his favourite. It was an absolute crime he hadn't been taught it before now!
They popped at the outskirts of Dawnstar, just up the road from the Windpeak Inn where they had spent so many nights already.
Immediately their soft boots sunk into the snow and the cold sea wind penetrated their robes. Already feeling the cold seeping into his toes, Harry drew his wand and cast a pair of warming charms. "You'd think the people here would make clothes that keep you warm..."
"A cloak would be nice..." Luna agreed, scrunching her nose slightly.
The College robes included a small leather mantle, just enough to cover the neck and shoulders from rain when coupled with the matching leather hood, but aside from that, they hadn't been provided with any additional over-clothing.
A thick and warm cloak could be very useful.
At night they could throw it over their blankets if it was colder than usual, as well.
"Maybe we can see if the merchants at the docks have anything," Harry pondered as they began approaching the town.
Winterhold—the dilapidated town standing before the College—lacked a proper dock by the sea, so there weren't many places to visit if one wanted to go shopping. From what Harry had heard, beyond the occasional visitor to the College at the inn, there was little of note in the town, so he hadn't even bothered to visit.
Thus, without the ability to apparate further, Dawnstar would remain their best place for shopping.
"Where do you want to go first?" Harry asked, feeling slightly as if he was out on Hogsmeade weekend. The until-now unprecedented amount of freedom in his life, despite everything else, felt quite good.
"Is that Erandur?" Luna asked, pointing ahead.
He followed her gaze, finding a group of orcs at work some distance away at the outskirts of town. There, among them, an orange-robed figure was clear among the much taller and muscular green-skinned men working on moving snow with rough-looking makeshift shovels.
"Yeah! It is," Harry nodded and they began jogging up to them, ignoring the snow piling up into their boots as they raced.
The orcs spotted them first, giving them gruff greetings, but a few seconds later the dark elf turned as well, his expression growing bright and cheerful. "Harry, Luna! What brings you here?"
"We came to visit and see how you were doing," Harry replied, grinning.
Around them, orcs gathered and spoke in low rumbles, but it was obvious they too were more or less glad to see them, in their own gruff way.
"I see you have new robes as well, the College I take it?" They nodded and he continued, voice growing wistful. "The College of Winterhold is an amazing sight. I've never set foot on the grounds themselves, but I have always wanted to visit. How have you liked it so far?"
Harry shrugged. "It's alright."
"There aren't very many Crumple-Horned Snorkacks or other creatures there. They don't have any magizoology or Care for Magical Creatures classes either... But the three-toothed horkers are quite funny," Luna answered, mimicking animatedly with her hands to show their teeth, using her tongue to show the middle one that pointed straight forward.
The dark elf blinked, before laughing heartily.
"If you wish to see more creatures, all you need to do is pick a direction and walk. Skyrim has no lack of interesting wildlife. I've spent nearly my whole wandering the northern parts of Skyrim and I'm sure I haven't seen even half of it yet."
Luna's eyes glittered at the thought as she bounced on her feet.
Harry, too, realized that Erandur's experience could be invaluable. "So you would know a lot about potion ingredients—or, well, you said alchemy before, I suppose..."
"Indeed." He nodded, turning to look at Harry.
"Well, I figured I could do some brewing to make some more money. The College is very expensive, you see."
Erandur nodded, more serious and thoughtful. "Whatever aid I can give you, it's yours."
Harry grinned. "I just need some help, if you know where to find some ingredients. First, do you know where to get any honey or honeywater?"
The first ingredient and base for the potion was honeywater; a simple mixture of boiled fresh water and honey. It was a common base for many digestible potions, so it shouldn't be too hard to find, he thought.
"Hah, not mead, but honey?" Erandur frowned. "You'll have problems there, I fear, unless you can find a beehive out in the wild. The two meaderies; Honningbrew and Blackbriar, run a very tight market on honey."
"You'll have to either look to one of the bigger markets in Solitude, Windhelm or Whiterun. But it will be expensive. You might be better off going down south and looking the wilds," Erandur explained.
How far would he have to go? It had been perpetual snow and cold their whole while in Skyrim so far.
Seeing Harry's troubled expression, Erandur continued: "Your best bet for that just south of Windhelm. The hot springs there should have some groves already in bloom. With luck, you'll find some there. But I'd be careful about bears and spriggans if you do try."
Blinking, Harry nodded. He would have to look at a map to see how far it was to Windhelm and what kind of options he had.
"Okay. The next would be vervain."
Like honeywater, it was a common enough base in potions, but for the Invigoration draught it would be added in equal measure to the honeywater as it was brought to a boil. Of course, it couldn't be in its raw form, but as an infusion; a form of tea-like blend with water. He wasn't exactly sure how to make the infusion, since it had always been already prepared as an ingredient in potions class, but he was sure he could figure it out.
"Vervain?" Erandur asked, tilting his head curiously.
"Pigeon's grass, pigeon weed," Luna offered. "Simpler's joy? Enchanter's plant? Juno's tears?"
He shook his head. "I'm afraid none of those sound familiar. Could you describe it or its effects?"
Luna did so, showing with her hands as she spoke: "It's a flower growing so high, with purple flowers so big, with thick and messy bushes with tough stalks like this, perfect for nargles to hide in, much like in mistletoe."
Around this time, most of the orcs decided to beg off, returning to their work and leaving them to it.
"Oh, purple mountain flower? That should be easy enough to find. Frida should have some of it stored away, dried or as a tincture." Erandur nodded, apparently not knowing what nargles were either as he ignored that part of the description wholly.
So far, so good, Harry thought as he nodded.
"Okay, then I need..."
"Hold on," Erandur interrupted. "A three-ingredient recipe? Are you certain that you should be making such an advanced potion?"
"It's actually four ingredients—the Invigoration Draught—and I've done it before. Luna hasn't yet, I think." Glancing to her, she nodded. He remembered learning it rather late into fifth-year potions, after all. And while it was an O.W.L.-level brew, he did feel confident in making it. "It's not a very difficult potion to make. Even Neville managed to keep his cauldron in one piece."
Erandur nodded, understanding the joke for what it was, inferring how extraordinary it must for this 'Neville'. "Of course. Then, the last two ingredients?"
"Right, uh... Scurvy grass."
"Spoonwort," Luna supplied immediately, but neither appeared to be familiar to the priest.
She then went on to describe it, impressing Harry with her knowledge of herbology, as he definitely didn't remember half of what she had just said. Though a lot of it related to other things he had never even heard of, so some of its validity was suspect...
Finally, Erandur nodded and smiled widely.
"I know that grass... Can't remember the name, or if it even has any, There's plenty of it to the east of here, near Morthal. Especially up by and along the coast to the sea of ghosts. I think some of the fishers and sailors like to chew it. I have never found any use for it in alchemy, though. Perhaps only for a lack of trying."
"Great, we'll ask when we swing by the docks. Okay, umm, the final ingredient can be one of either two, I think... It can either be lovage," Luna remained quiet at this, despite Erandur's slight shake of head, apparently knowing no alternate names for the herb. "Or Sneezewort. I think... There are so many different worts. But the last ingredient can be either of those two."
"Oh, sneezeweed, pellitory, goose tongue, white tansy?" Luna listed. But none of the names rang a bell. So again, she went into some detail explaining how the plants looked.
But even after fifteen minutes, they hadn't managed to figure out either plant's local identity yet.
"I'm sorry, but neither sounds familiar. Perhaps they simply are not native to Skyrim..." Erandur shrugged helplessly. "Are you certain that the fourth ingredient is absolutely necessary?"
Harry nodded with a grimace. He didn't know exactly how the draught would be affected by leaving it incomplete, but years of potions had hammered in a respect for getting things right. None of the ingredients were particularly volatile, and as he had noted, even Neville had managed it. But that didn't mean it would be safe to leave something out. Running a hand through his hair, Harry shook his head.
"Thank you, Erandur. You were a big help already, I'll just have to figure out the rest myself."
The priest sighed and nodded, leaving it at that.
"Anyhow, what are you guys doing?" Harry asked, looking around at the orcs who had resumed working around them.
"We managed to acquire permission from the Jarl to build a temple for Mara. It will serve as a shelter and place to heal," Erandur explained, glowing with the same enthusiasm as earlier. "We are currently appraising for a suitable plot of land to build on and planning. For now, this seems to be the most suitable location so we are clearing the snow and ice to see whether the ground is suitable for laying a foundation on..."
"Oh... Wow, that's great! Do you need any help?" Harry immediately asked, looking around.
"No, no. That's alright. We'll be digging here and there to investigate for weeks... You have your own business to take care of, don't you?" Erandur assured him as he shook his head.
"Still..." Harry insisted, looking at some of the tools the orcs had.
It looked like they had flat pieces of wood for digging, no more than stumps of firewood, really. It would keep their fingers from getting cold and wet, but it couldn't be comfortable or efficient.
"We could transfigure you some better tools, at least? They won't last forever, but it should make your work a lot smoother?"
He knew how miserable working with just your hands could be when digging after many summers at the Dursley's.
"Transfigure...? Well..." Erandur hesitated, looking at the orcs who were still working without paying attention to them. "If you could show me, perhaps it would be alright."
Harry nodded, drawing his wand and picking a piece of wood that he thought suitable. One of the orcs was wiping his brow at that moment and had set down the half-rotten piece of wood, that was not even suitable for firewood.
There wasn't any handy 'wood-to-shovel' transfiguration that he could remember, so Harry would have to free-form it.
Stabbing forward with his wand in a precise gesture, he intoned: "Muto lignum."
The piece of wood wobbled, like its surface had turned into liquid and something had sunk into it at the point where the wand had stabbed towards. Slowly, it began to stretch out and widen, taking on a more useful shape for moving snow. It increased in size as he pumped more magic into the spell and finally he exhaled with satisfaction as a fully formed snow shovel had been created. The kind which he would have loved to have when he had been told to shovel the driveway before he began to spend that half of the year at Hogwarts.
The orc, Sir Cardemum, if Harry remembered correctly, looked at the newly formed shovel with some suspicion. But he shrugged and grabbed the thing after one of the others groused at him to stop lazing about.
"Well now, that would be rather helpful," Erandur exclaimed, rather surprised. "How long will it last?"
"I don't really know. Probably a few hours at least," Harry shrugged. He had never had cause to test it before.
"That would be quite a boon, my friends."
So Harry and Luna spent a few minutes transfiguring a number of better tools, Luna taking to the exercise much like she had to the morning's practise, despite free-form wood Transfiguration being something she had already covered herself as a fifth year.
"There was something else," Erandur said when they had finished. "I did not consider it at first, but perhaps you might find something of use there after all..." Seeing Harry's confused look, he continued. "The priests of Vaermina performed a considerable amount of experiments with various alchemical concoctions. It has been a long time, but perhaps you could discover something of use in what remains there?"
They had only gone there to recover some of the acolytes and orcs, and to find the dreamstride when they had been delving the old temple's depths. While much of what had been there had already rotted, perhaps some of it was still worth investigating. If for no other reason than to see if there was anything they could give Erandur.
"Alright, I'll go take a look later," Harry said.
After that they said their goodbyes and headed for Dawnstar, hoping to catch some of the merchant captains still by the docks before they all vanished who knew where at the end of the day.
"Do you want to go see if there are any decent cloaks? I need to go see the smith about a cauldron..." Harry asked Luna.
A cauldron couldn't be made out of magically reactive materials, which meant Transfiguration was right out. But aside from the cauldrons he had bought for Hogwarts, he had no idea how much something like that would cost, nor how good an iron or steel cauldron would be compared to s pewter, tin, copper or silver one.
Luna blinked up at him, staring at him from under her blonde bangs. "A cloak?"
"Yeah, if you could find two, that'd be great."
She raised a thoughtful finger to her lip, pondering for a moment. Before she declared and turned around: "Alright, Harry."
"W-wait, wait a minute, Luna. I didn't give you any money..." He ran after her, giving her half of the coin pouch he had brought along, some 300 septims.
They had divided their money into three equal parts; one fund for spells, each, and one final third for other expenses. So far, Harry hadn't bought any spells, but he didn't know how much Luna had spent yet. Regardless, he wasn't going to let her spend her spell money on buying the cloaks, when they had a separate expenses fund for that.
"Oh! Thank you!" She accepted the pouch and skipped away towards the docks, singing some off-tune shanty as she went.
Harry sighed, shaking his head.
Even as he worried about Luna spending her money on supplies, he was fairly certain he would have to do it himself for the Invigoration Draught. Either for the ingredients or for cauldron itself. But since he was hoping to see some return on that money spent, he convinced himself it was fine. He would be missing out on being able to buy two spells, but he was sure he would be too busy with everything to even get around to learning properly the one he could buy.
Rustleif appeared to be tidying up for the day, his firepit already having died down as he swept the floor of his outdoor smithy.
"Hello there...?" he greeted Harry, looking slightly overwhelmed at first with Harry's unusual-by-local-standards robes, before his expression warmed. "Ah, I see you've returned. Though, without the good lady-love by your side? Ah, the stormy romances of the young..."
Not quite catching the teasing tone, Harry merely raised a hand in greeting, only slightly confused.
"Lovegood? Luna's by the docks, I think?"
"Sp she has not left you yet? Haha, my friend. That's good. You had me worried for a moment there. Now, what can Rustleif do for you? I see that you are not in need of work any more. Some other advice you seek, perhaps?"
"Err..." Harry blinked again, before shaking his head slightly. "No, I was hoping to buy a cauldron, actually."
"A cauldron?" Rustleif asked, blinking.
"Yes, do you have any? I need it within a week."
The smith shook his head.
"Not on hand. Most in town already have one and in good use they can last generations. But it wouldn't take me long to make one."
"Great! I need a few things..." Harry began, explaining the specifics of what he needed.
He was used to his school cauldrons, but those were only really good for small batches, so it was probably alright if he bought a size bigger now, something which could brew a larger batch with a single brewing. He also needed sturdy handles on the side, and a burner tripod to put beneath the cauldron, so he could control the temperature precisely.
Finally, he wasn't sure about the material.
"Silver...?" Rustleif asked, flabbergast.
Wincing, Harry explained. "Would it be possible to paint the inside of the cauldron to make it cheaper?"
"I have no idea." He shook his head. "I have never worked with silver, so I wouldn't even know where to begin."
"Alright, I'll forget about the silver then," Harry said, slumping. Maybe he could find some copper later?
"There's a lot of repair work lately—the miners have far too much energy since the nightmares ended and they're working harder to catch up on late shipments now... Anyhow, because of that I could have the cauldron done in about a week for 20 septims... Or in a few days for a 100 septims."
"I'll have to put it ahead of my regular customers' work. It could hurt my long-term work, you understand?" Rustleif shrugged.
Harry frowned, now realizing what the smith's game was. Not quite willing to pay through the nose, he could still meet the man halfway: "I'll pay you thirty if you can get it done two days early."
"Hmm..." Rustleif made a show of considering the offer.
It had been a mistake to tell that he needed the cauldron soon, since it was always about haggling in Skyrim when you could. Still, it wasn't like Harry needed it as soon as possible, as he didn't even have the ingredients yet. Brewing the Invigoration Draught only took a few hours, anyway.
Seeing that Harry wasn't budging, the smith relented. "Alright, deal. Thirty gold for the cauldron."
"Good. I'll be here at noon in five days for it."
They shook hands and parted ways.
"What else was there...?" Harry wondered as he headed for the docks.
The Mortar and Pestle, he remembered. To confirm the ingredients and to see if she was willing to sell any of her purple mountain flowers to him. Maybe he should ask if any of the captains had any honey while he looked for Luna?
Afternoon had already rolled well into evening by the time Harry came to the docks, finding them near-abandoned as most seamen were already eagerly heading down to town, with mead and food on their minds. He didn't manage to find any of the merchants he had hoped to nor did he find any scurvy grass, but some fifteen minutes later he found a pixie-like blonde sitting on a crate.
Wand in hand, Luna appeared to be in the middle of something as all her focus was occupied by something.
"Find anything?" he asked and she did not even look up from her lap.
Now close enough to spot what she was working on, he realized she was cradling some kind of thick, off-white grey cloth in her lap. She, without looking up, spoke: "Not yet, Harry."
"Oh, err... Alright. Should I come back later...?"
"Mhmm..." She nodded.
"Alright, then... I'll go run by Frida's, and... Come back here then?"
"Mhmm..." She nodded again.
Turning a hundred and eighty degrees around, he headed for Frida's shop, already running through the list of questions he wanted to ask her. One of the things that had begun bothering him was the apparent differences between Potions as he knew it and Alchemy as it was known in Skyrim. If Frida really wasn't a witch, as she claimed, then she shouldn't be able to brew any potions, yet she was an accomplished enough alchemist to have made her living doing so.
Knocking his feet against the wooden porch to get as much snow and slush off as possible, he entered the Mortar and Pestle, squinting into the darkness of the inside. Even as the sun was starting to set and there was a fire in the hearth, it was still almost pitch black for the first few seconds.
"Welcome to the Mortar and Pestle, dear. What can I help you with today?" he heard Frida greeting him from the right, where he remembered the counter being.
"Good afternoon, uh... Give me a few moments, and I'll..." he mumbled, squinting and rubbing his eyes to make them adjust.
There was an amused sound and he was sure that Frida was laughing at his bumbling around.
Clearing his throat he ambled his way to the counter.
"Right, uh... Do you have any purple mountain flowers? I'd like to buy some, if you do."
"Oh no, dear. I'm afraid I'm all out of purple mountain flower. I had some dried stock and tincture stored, a month before you and that lovely little lady came to town... But the nightmares emptied my stock completely."
Harry scuffed the floor with his shoe irritably, trying to keep it from showing. "That's too bad. I really could have used it, but..."
"If you really need some, then perhaps you should visit that nice family who moved into Frostflow Lighthouse east from here," Frida suggested.
Harry frowned. "The lighthouse? You mean the one by the coast, outside of town?"
"No, no. The large lighthouse, up the mountains to the east, between the Pale and Winterhold. My husband and I used to go for week-long walks, gathering herbs and spending time together up in the mountains there. There are always so many herbs and plants growing there, year-round, but you have to be careful of the beasts there. Wolves, bears, sabre cats and even Frost Trolls! You have to be very careful, dear. Oh, my husband would always bring his poisons to keep us safe and sometimes we would end up coming back with our packs full of herbs and still having made a loss because of that..."
Harry blinked as Frida continued regaling him with stories of the mountains, though he had already somewhat lost the plot on why she was telling him any of this.
"He used to call me his 'pretty Juniper.' It's quite romantic, if you're an alchemist. Frost took the old fool a few seasons back, while he was looking for the Ring of Pure Mixtures. I found the ring's resting place after he died, but I'm far too old to go exploring some cave, now."
"So, uh, purple mountain flowers?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Oh, yes, of course," she laughed gaily. "The very nice family who moved in there, very nice people, though it's so very far. Must be terribly boring for the children... Yes, they have wonderful patches of purple mountain flowers growing there. I'm sure they would still have some and would be willing to sell it to you, if you're very desperate."
"Umm... The lighthouse. Right, okay." Harry blinked, feeling slightly light-headed. Perhaps he needed a journal of some kind to keep track of everything? "Okay, then, do you have any honey or honeywater...?"
"Hmm, of course I do, dear. Tea just doesn't taste the same without it. But whatever for do you need honey?" she replied and Harry brightened up considerably.
He leaned on the counter eagerly. "Well, I need it for a potion. Could you sell some to me?"
She blinked, her wrinkled countenance growing deeper and more creased as she furrowed her brows. "A potion? With honey...?"
Harry nodded and explained: "I dilute it into warm water and use it as a base for an Invigoration Draught."
There was no glimmer of recognition in her eyes over the potion's name. Potions and Alchemy really were different, then. Which meant that she wouldn't be much help in finding either lovage or sneezeworth, or anything to replace them with.
"Hmm, I have never heard of such a draught, though I know very well how potent draughts can be. You be careful now, dear."
But still, it he couldn't deny that he found Alchemy to be slightly interesting. Perhaps it was just his practical side realizing that he would need to know more about it so that he could properly brew his Potions and make money, but he felt like he should try and learn it as well.
"Would you teach me Alchemy?"
"Teach you..." That brought the old woman short and for a moment she looked as if she was considering it. But then, as if deflating, she shook her head. "I'm afraid I just don't have the energy, my dear. Or the knowledge. My husband would have had the passion to pass on the art, but I..." She shook her head again. "If you wish for someone to teach you alchemy, head to Morthal to the west, or Whiterun to the south. The alchemist there are much more skilled than I, and younger and prettier besides!" she said with a livelier laugh now.
"Okay, thanks anyhow," Harry said and they stood there, quiet for a long moment. He tried to think back to his other needs and finally asked: "Do you have any scurvy grass? Or, umm, spoonwort by another name? The sailors supposedly like to keep some on hand and it's supposed to grow along the coast?"
"Oh, do you perhaps mean frost miriam?" she asked, pointing to a bundle of dried herbs hanging from the eaves. "It's used more often as a spice, but sailors do love it on long voyages."
Harry look up and squinted, blinking as he recognized it as the dried form of the familiar grass he had come to know as scurvy grass. He nodded, grinning. "Yes, that's exactly it. How much can you sell me?"
"Oh, take as much as you want. It's the honey that will cost you," she replied teasingly.
In the end, he left The Mortar and Pestle fifty septims poorer, laden with a medium-sized clay jar of honey and a similarly sized pouch full of dried herbs. Heading for the docks, he counted with his fingers.
"That's honey and scurvy grass taken care of... That will leave me five days to find purple mountain flowers and lovage or sneezewort... Leaving me with two days' time to brew the potion..." It seemed reasonable. He could still check out Nightcaller Temple—a quick apparition away, and it wasn't going anywhere soon—and after that he would have to travel to Frostflow Lighthouse, or its vicinity anyhow, to look for purple mountain flowers.
But those could wait till tomorrow; it was already getting dark anyhow.
Lovage or sneezewort would be harder to find, as no one seemed to recognize it. He hoped that it did exist in this world, since so many other ingredients obviously did. Perhaps someone at the College would know? Plenty of time, he reminded himself. Of course, he still had promised to attend Faralda's lecture tomorrow and he had the mornings with Luna, so he didn't have all the time in the world to waste.
Up ahead, like a mirage against the dark ocean with her seemingly radiant halo of swaying hair, sat Luna. She was swinging her feet and looking at the various houses, as the people were settling down into their homes for the night.
"Hullo, Harry," she mimed his greeting, even the way he awkwardly clutched onto the honey jar and didn't quite manage a wave.
"So, find anything?" he asked again.
She jumped off the crate and flourished the pool of blackness that had been over her legs. Harry blinked as he realized it was a black cloak, which she twirled about and brought to rest over her own shoulders, tying it together at the front.
He realized after a second of looking that the inside was a different colour from the outside, lined with a blue fabric. It rested on her shoulders, sporting a modest hood and reaching just to her knees.
It was a very nice cloak, he realized with surprise.
"There's one for you, too."
Harry blinked, shaking his head. "Wha?"
Smiling, she reached for another similar cloak and whirled it in the air and bringing it to rest on his head, not quite managing to flourish it onto his shoulders with their height difference. He blinked, looking down as she tugged it into place, ruffling his hair in the process. His cloak's inner lining was a rich burgundy, only a shade darker than Gryffindor red, though it could have just been the gloom of the evening playing tricks on his eyes.
It was just as long as Luna's cloak, meaning it reached only to mid-thigh. But already he felt a lot warmer.
"This is incredible, Luna..." he whispered, touching the cloak gingerly. The outside was woollen felt and the lining was something softer and less abrasive, though he couldn't recognize what. "Did... Did you make these?"
She nodded, humming a tune under her breath.
"Wow... Are they transfigured?"
He hoped not. It would be such a waste to lose the cloak, though it would make him much more motivated to learn permanent transfigurations.
Luna shook her head. "Only a little. You can't charm transfigured things very well. Mummy used to make me things like this."
"So they're like those quidditch heads you made?" he asked, running the cloak between his fingers and still marvelling at it.
"Mhmm..." She nodded, smiling now.
Harry blinked, realizing that for the first time there was a touch of pride in Luna's voice.
"These are brilliant, Luna. I guess Madam Malkins will have to watch out once we get back," Harry said with a grin.
She shook her head, eyes wide and serious. "Oh no. I don't know how to make robes or trousers or pants. Or socks." The last of which seemed to bother her the most as she frowned prettily.
Still, her protests only made Harry's grin wider.
"Yet," he said, as if making a premonition. "You'll take Britain's fashion scene by storm, just you wait."
Luna tilted her head, curious at his certainty, yet also smiling slightly. Still curious about the cloak, he set down his potions purchases.
"So how much did you charm this? Do I have to worry about it vanishing if I use a finite on myself?" he asked, only half-joking.
She considered it, tapping a finger to her lower lip.
"Well, the warming charm and colour change charm will vanish..."
"I thought it was really warm," he noted with interest. "Is it a permanent warming charm?"
She shook her head. "But it takes very well to the fabric, since its purpose is to be warm anyhow."
"Does that matter?" he asked, not remembering anything like that in Flitwick's lessons.
"In enchanting with charms it does. You have to make the item with the charm in mind from the very beginning. Some things take better than others," she explained and looked up, in thought as if recalling something. "You have to enchant along nature and purpose, else it will wash away like a regular charm will. The warming charm will last a while, I should think."
"Wow... I've never heard any of this before. Is Flitwick giving private lessons to Ravenclaws or something?" Harry joked.
"Oh, its N.E.W.T.-level charms material, Harry," she told him with a reassuring nod. "The colour changing charm isn't, though."
"Right, it was in the O.W.L.s." He nodded, remembering both his embarrassing mix-up with the growth charm and the original drab colour of the pile she had had before shooing him away. "I guess that means I can change the colour in a pinch, if I lose my cloak of invisibility."
"Oh no, if you make this cloak invisible, you'll still be very much visible, Harry," she warned him seriously.
He laughed. "I meant, turning it to match to colours of my surroundings. You know, like a chameleon?"
She tilted her head, curious now. "Camomileon?"
He shook his head. "No, not like the tea. Chameleon." He emphasized his enunciation. "It's a muggle animal, a tropical lizard that can change its colour at will."
Luna's brows seemed to vanish beneath her bangs as she blinked at him.
"Really?" she asked breathlessly.
He nodded. There had been one at the zoo, though it hadn't talked to him. "I can show you when we get back."
She nodded three times, her hair bobbing with the motion as she looked ecstatic at the idea and whispering quietly to herself about, "Colour-changing Chameleons..."
Harry, amused by her excitement, left her to it as he looked closer at his cloak. Specifically the lack of any stitching and how the two fabrics had been attached to each other, with the outer side rolled inwards over the lining so that the fabric wouldn't fray at the edges.
"Did you use Epoximise to fuse the fabrics?" he asked, rolling the fabrics between his thumb and finger.
Slightly dazed and dreamy, she nodded.
"Will they pop off each other if I use a finite?"
She shook her head, her waist-length hair swaying left and right. "Mummy taught me a trick to turning the sticking charm permanent."
"Oh?" he asked, piqued and reminded of a certain screeching portrait.
"Mm, you fail spectacularly on purpose," Luna explained with a sparkle in her eyes. "Like failed transfigurations, the two are permanently fused together that way. It's quite horrible."
"Huh." That was at the same time much more magical and a lot more mundane than he had expected. Magic still found ways to surprise him, even after all these years. "Thanks, Luna. I love it."
She smiled brightly, face slightly flushed in the cold because of the warm cloaks they now wore.
"Anyhow, ready to head back? I got some honey and scurvy grass from Frida—though apparently it's called frost miriam here. So, I'm just about done for today."
She smiled and nodded, shaking beneath her cloak for a moment—and then suddenly her right arm popped out through the cloak. Harry gawked, only to realize a second later that there was a slit opening in the side of the garment. And checking his own cloak, he found similar openings at both sides at elbow height, allowing him to push an arm through without opening the front of the cloak.
Which meant keeping the warmth from escaping if he wanted to use his arms.
"Brilliant..." he muttered again before shaking his head and offering his arm to Luna for the apparition.
And as she took a hold his arm, they vanished with a pop and whirl of tangled shadows and cloaks, leaving naught but swirling snow in their wake.
Blyaahh, put way too much thought into the alchemy/potions here. Got my hands on half a dozen irl herbology books and tried to match as much of the ingredients to Skyrim as I could, but still not a perfect match. Like the alchemical effects of purple mountain flower and frost miriam don't match vervain and scurvy grass at all, and they even look quite different. But, well, roughly right is better than precisely wrong :V
Also got the recipe from that mobile game, but I haven't played it myself. It just looked like a reasonable potion with the ingredients listed(there were actually two alternatives, but the other had stuff like billywig stings, which would be pretty difficult to get in Skyrim. A common problem with HP potions. They seem to need magical creature parts for everything they brew.)
Liked this chapter quite a bit, since they're getting their feet on the ground finally.