Act I - Trials of Summer
Chapter 2 - Dead Wood
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Cornelius Fudge was having a terrible week.
It had all started since the night of the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament. In hindsight, Ludo Bagman actually winning a bet should have been portent enough to tell him that something was utterly, utterly wrong. That man had the worst luck when it came to betting. In fact, if a magical trait called Sucker could exist, Ludo would be the one wizard to inherit it.
Seeing Bagman win not just one bet, but take home a veritable jackpot of six hundred galleons, along with a rare bottle of Ogden's 1863 Grand Cru Firewhiskey should have been enough to signal the end of times. Seriously, where were those divination nerds when you needed them?
And now, his entire world had been thrown into an upheaval.
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Twelve purebloods were found dead, five of whom held Wizengamot seats while three were actual Lords of Ancient Houses. The other four held respectable bureaucratic positions in the ministry. The final one was a Hogwarts student, and the Triwizard Champion to boot.
All of them were found wearing Death Eater regalia, killed and rotting due to an unexplainable magical phenomenon associated with one Harry James Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived.
But most importantly, all of them were members of his not-so-humble voting bloc. The afflicted families were beside themselves, crying for blood. The Noble and Most Ancient House of Selwyn had lost its lord, and was now stuck in perpetual conflict over the future of their Lordship. The Ancient House of Nott's situation was no less precarious. There was, of course, the big question as to why those people had been there dressed in Death Eater regalia, but Lucius had assured him there must have been a perfectly reasonable answer for that oddity.
Besides, all the Ministry had was Dumbledore's word that the bodies had been found there. For all Cornelius knew, the wily old man had orchestrated the entire thing.
And that wasn't even mentioning all the fantastic, absurd rumors floating around. You-Know-Who back from the dead? By Merlin's saggy underpants, that alone proved that Dumbledore was going barmy.
People died when they were killed. And once dead, they didn't return to life.
No. This whole farce had Dumbledore's name written all over it. He was sure of it. He was absolutely sure of it.
His fingers began to drum faster against the tabletop— a telltale sign of his growing anxiety. Despite years of practice and therapy, this one habit always seemed to be out of his reach. Uncontrollable.
Tap! Tap! Tap!
The election is still a year away, but a loss like this now? No, this is intentional. Dumbledore… Dumbledore is targeting my bloc. Doesn't matter what he says. He— I still have Lucius, at least. If he somehow ended up…
Cornelius shook his head vehemently, shaking the perilous thought out of his mind before it could form.
He glanced at his watch.
Why isn't he back yet?
He had gotten a missive from Amelia Bones, stating that she would be taking over Harry Potter's interrogation. The woman was puritanical to a fault, but she lacked the… flexibility Cornelius preferred in his subordinates. That was why he'd sent the Weasley boy to accompany her and collect the necessary information.
And by the looks of it, his hunch had been absolutely right.
Percy Weasley had been frothing at the mouth as he explained how Dumbledore had practically strong-armed him into letting the interrogation go the way he demanded. Whenever he had tried to direct their investigation to the actual matter of concern, Dumbledore forcefully changed the topic to something else.
Something was amiss, and Dumbledore was trying to keep it from the Ministry.
To keep it from him.
That alone said a lot about the man's nonexistent ambitions. Come to think of it, hadn't Dumbledore always ensured that he followed his commands?
Cornelius lightly shuddered.
Was that it, then? Had Britain simply been unable to grasp the reality of the situation all this time? Perhaps Albus Dumbledore had no intention of being the Minister of Magic.
No, his goal was far more sinister.
With himself sitting on the throne from within Hogwarts, and the famous Boy-Who-Lived under his thumb, Dumbledore enjoyed the power he wielded over the future of British wizarding society. And with this entire hoax of the Dark Lord's return on top of that, he'd be the one person Wizarding Britain would look up to in a time of such strife. At that point, it wouldn't even matter if he officially took the seat of Minister or not. The Ministry, his beloved Ministry, would become nothing more than the old man's puppet.
If his hunch was right, then this was just the opening salvo.
Killing off Cornelius's supporters through esoteric magic would only be the first of many steps, something that probably wouldn't be difficult for the old man. Cornelius readily admitted that the aged headmaster had likely forgotten more spells than most people managed to learn in a lifetime.
And now, in less than three days, before he could even react to Dumbledore's previous move, the wily Headmaster had already begun to place his next pawn upon the stage.
The trial of Sirius Black.
Cornelius was many things, but a fool he was not.
He had suspected some wrongdoing back when the Potter boy and his friends had yelled at him about Black being innocent. Of course, their incoherent babbling about how the man never had a trial only served to make their account less credible, seeing as how going through the Black case had been one of the first things Cornelius had done before releasing the dementor population to hunt him down.
He had checked— and double-checked —the man's trial records, and the entire thing was well-documented. Sirius Black had received a court trial, overseen by Barty Crouch and, under the truth-inducing effects of veritaserum, had confessed to the murderer of Peter Pettigrew.
There should have been no room for doubt.
Even Dumbledore wouldn't be able to save someone who was so clearly guilty.
And yet, he had done it.
Somehow, Dumbledore had managed to pull a body from the grave and shown the world that Peter Pettigrew was alive. At least before whatever act of magic struck him dead along with the others in the graveyard.
He would have given the man a standing ovation for his flawless execution of the entire thing, if it wasn't directly contributing to his own downfall.
There was still an issue of the thirteen muggles that Black had apparently killed, but since the main reason behind his incarceration was Pettigrew's death, the rest of the case's evidence would be called into question in light of recent findings. As such, he'd been forced to grant the man another chance at proving himself innocent.
And Cornelius was perfectly fine with that.
After all, Sirius Black was a pureblood. A scion from a Noble and Most Ancient House.
No, his problem was entirely different. Cornelius might not have gotten enough NEWTs back in Hogwarts to become a solicitor, but one did not become Minister of Magic without picking up bits of legal knowledge along the way.
Maintaining his position as Minister over the years had required him to maintain a delicate balance amongst the Wizengamot members. A feat made considerably easier by the fact that Cornelius had a terrifying amount of information about the skeletons in their well-hidden closets.
It was something of a hobby.
Some people collected stamps. Others collected chocolate frog cards. Cornelius Fudge collected secrets.
And one of those dirty little secrets involved the House of Black.
Sirius Black had bred true.
He held Family magic.
This meant that it didn't matter that the man had renounced his house. It didn't matter that Narcissa Malfoy née Black was set to inherit before him. In fact, absolutely none of Lucius's political maneuvering over the past decade, slowly taking control of the Black family fortune, mattered at all.
With the one true and remaining heir about to be released, Sirius would become the next Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
At the next Wizengamot session.
Malfoy's hold over the Black name and fortune would go up in flames, as would the alliances established with the Black name. It was no secret that most of Lucius's donations to Cornelius's account— election fund —came from the Black coffers. If the House of Black took a new direction, Cornelius's powerbase at the Ministry of Magic would crumble.
And all of it would begin with Sirius Black's trial.
Tap! Tap! Ta—
The door slid open, and Percy Weasley stepped in.
Despite the gravity of his situation, Cornelius brightened up a little at seeing the tiny twitch on the young man's forehead. For a strapping lad from a family of sociable people, Percy had a rather large stick stuck up his stoic arse, if he did say so himself. Sure, Arthur Weasley and his pro-muggleborn stance was often an annoyance to him. But even so, Cornelius couldn't bring himself to actively feel disdain for such a polite and agreeable fellow.
Compared to him, Percy stuck out like a sore thumb. He had walked out of Hogwarts as Gryffindor Prefect and then Head Boy, all with excellent NEWT scores. And then he joined the Ministry under ol' Barty in the Department of International Cooperation.
Bah! Cornelius scoffed. As if Barty Crouch's constipated face could ever contribute to anything remotely related to cooperation. That Percy had been overzealous to carry out Barty's every whim had not scored him points anywhere.
Cornelius had then approached the lad, offering him the position of Junior Undersecretary for a hidden purpose— to spy on the Weasleys, a family well-known to harbor strong connections to Dumbledore. So, naturally, he'd been more than upset when Percy waltzed in through the front door, snobbishly declaring that he'd denounced his family completely.
Cornelius's eyes hadn't stopped twitching that day.
And that was how he'd been saddled with an extra attendant— Percy Weatherby. After all, if the boy willingly renounced his name, then he should be ready to suffer the consequences of such an action.
"The woman you called for has arrived, sir."
"Has she now? Well quit dawdling and bring her in, Weatherby."
And there was that funny little twitch all over again.
"Is it true that Madam Higgins is retiring, sir? And that this… woman is going to hold her position?"
"Ah, you heard about that, did you Weatherby?"
"It's Weasley, sir."
"Oh, my apologies. How embarrassing!" Cornelius rapped his fingers on the table, staring at the boy and waiting for him to leave the room.
But his new assistant just stood there, not seeming to get the hint.
"Did you have something else to say?"
"Sir," Percy intoned, probably with as much snobbishness as he could muster. "I must question the idea of appointing a random woman to such an important position."
"Random?" Cornelius arched an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?"
"Well sir, she's a librarian."
"She's worked for the International Confederation of Wizards, Weatherby."
"She's spent a few years working in the ICW Archives. Forgive me for saying this, but the position amounts to nothing more than a glorified librarian."
Cornelius couldn't help but shoot the boy a snide look. Sure, he was appointing what was basically a librarian to a top-level posting in the Ministry, but the woman in question had certain… attributes that made her a rather interesting candidate for what he had in mind. Everything else was superficial and disregardable.
"It's too large a jump, sir," Percy began. "I suggest you start her out as an apprentice to me and then, once I'm promoted, you can place her as Junior Undersecretary, But starting out as the Undersecretary—"
"Senior Undersecretary," Cornelius corrected. "She's a smart woman, and you'll do well under her."
Cornelius paused, throwing the lad a brilliant smile as he drank in his look of horror.
"But— but sir!"
"I've made up my mind, Weatherby. It'll be good for you. Now please fetch her, and free up my schedule for the rest of the day. I have some work to attend to."
"...Yes, sir," came the miserable voice as he made his way to the door.
As the kid began to leave, Cornelius couldn't resist throwing out a parting shot. "You did well today. Close the door on your way out, Perky."
The way Percy's fingers twitched as he closed the door behind him well and truly brightened his day.
"This is a high-profile case, Kingsley. I'm trusting you'll keep it under control."
Kingsley Shacklebolt shook his head. He had been an auror for the last twenty years— one of the few who had their origins rooted in nobility but still decided to serve the Ministry in ways other than legislature. There was currently only one other of his type, and that was Amelia 'The Tyrant' Bones.
Despite her initial handling of the Harry Potter case on her own, the woman had delegated some of the more private portions to him, which was how Kingsley found himself here. Overseeing a wand inspection for the Boy-Who-Lived, while ensuring that John 'Blabbermouth' Dawlish didn't end up making a complete mess out of it.
Frankly, Dawlish as an Auror made no sense. He was clumsy, had literally no wand-discipline, and his exam scores were abysmal. Hell, even the newer cadets with less than a year under their belt had better spell proficiency, and Dawlish had been an Auror for four years now.
Merit really didn't hold any value in Wizarding Britain anymore.
And now, he would bear witness to yet another injustice taking place in broad daylight.
The incarceration of Harry James Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived.
Despite Madam Bones having personally attended and reported about the boy's hearing, the Minister had refused to let it go. Instead, he had become even more convinced that Harry, and more importantly Dumbledore, were responsible for the entire incident.
The deaths of eight Wizengamot members, three of whom had been actual Lords, had sent the entire country into complete disarray. Funnily enough, the deaths of Cedric Diggory and Peter Pettigrew had been deprioritized to the point where he wasn't sure whether the Minister would even investigate it without someone there to twist his arm.
Blood was in the water, and the sharks were swimming around, ready to tear the boy apart.
"Dawlish has been ordered by the Minister to perform a wand inspection on Harry Potter. The evidence is anecdotal at best, but the Minister isn't going to drop it. Rather, he's convinced that no matter how inexplicable the magic is, it can still be linked to the boy and prove him guilty."
The nature of spellcraft, no matter how elusive or mystical, had a common factor— it had to be done through the use of a wand. Unlike what most laymen believed, wandless magic was neither a symbol of strength nor an indication of skill. If anything, it was a demonstration of flamboyance. If a summoning charm consumed twenty units of magical power with a compatible wand, then its wandless version would require over fifty.
The truth of the matter was that there was simply no reason whatsoever to engage in wandless magic. Not when the same could be performed with the aid of any compatible wand much more easily. And any magic performed with a wand left a signature. A trail that could be traced back to the caster.
That was how the Minister hoped to get him.
If the magical signature of the accused party's wand matched with the magical signature of the victim, then that was proof enough to bring the victim into custody. Potter's own affirmation about having cast an Unforgivable only welcomed further suspicions about the boy's mental and spiritual state.
Between the Ministry's negative opinion of the boy and his own reputation of being associated with inexplicable feats of magic, Kingsley had no doubt that the prosecutors at the Ministry would try to hang it all on him. His own status as the Boy-Who-Loved, along with his notoriety as a Parselmouth— something the Dark Lord was infamous for —would only strengthen the case against him.
And I'll be the one leading him there.
Sometimes, Kingsley hated his job.
"You think Dumbledore will try to stop us?" Dawlish drawled from his left.
Kingsley sighed. Of course, Dawlish would put it that way.
The Headmaster had allowed the official interrogation of Harry Potter to move forward, despite having multiple ways to halt it. In fact, he expedited the process, allowing Amelia Bones herself to carry it out as soon as the boy woke up. And yet, the Minister was of the opinion that the old man was trying to subvert justice from being upheld. Worse still, the man believed that Dumbledore had tried to strong-arm Bones into going along with his sinister plans.
Kingsley had chuckled when he first heard about it.
While it was hard to call Madam Bones legitimately kind, she was an incredibly fair person. Boy-Who-Lived or not, the Director of the DMLE would live and die by the rule of the law. He doubted anyone, even Albus Dumbledore, could change that.
"What's got you giggling all of a sudden?" the blabbermouth asked him.
Kingsley snorted. Just another reminder of how Dawlish didn't even need to try to piss him off.
"I'm not giggling, Dawlish. Let's cut the chatter and finish the task we've been assigned."
"There's no real rush," Dawlish waved him off. "Potter's got nowhere to go. This time, justice will be served. Did you know the lad lost me fifty galleons in the Triwizard bet?"
So that was why he looked so excited to take up this case.
Kingsley deliberately looked away. He wasn't sure what exactly Dawlish had bet on, but knowing the guy, it was probably something he wouldn't want to know anyway.
The door in front of them opened with a soft creak, and Harry Potter and Minerva McGonagall stepped in.
The old woman nodded at them curtly. "Mr. Potter is here without parental supervision. Therefore, I, as his Head of House, will bear witness to this event."
"Of course," Dawlish muttered.
Kingsley suppressed a chuckle. He was probably disappointed at not being able to deal with the kid on his own. That, and minor trepidation at standing in front of his old Head of House. Rumor had it that he was transfigured into a fluffy white kitten and given to the firsties to play with in his seventh year, or something like that.
Personally, Kingsley was interested in meeting the boy. With all the rumors about the Dark Lord being back, he assumed Dumbledore would recall the Old Guard soon enough. Last time, he'd been conflicted between maintaining his Auror duties and joining what basically amounted to an illegal vigilante group.
This time, though…
"—to check Mr. Potter's wand for any wrongdoing and report it to the Ministry."
Right. Back to the issue.
"Most importantly, Professor McGonagall, has Mr. Potter used the wand since the night of the event?"
The old professor shook her head. "Mr. Potter has been suffering the aftereffects of the Cruciatus Curse," her lips curled distastefully. "He has been kept from performing any magic since, with the intention of allowing him to recover and ensuring that any further magic did not come in the way of proving his innocence via Priori Incantatem."
Kingsley had to admit, they were incredibly well-prepared for this, and any rebuttal Dawlish could give was answered before it was given voice. He could practically see the man deflating like a punctured balloon.
Professor McGonagall slowly took out a wand box from her robe pockets and opened it, revealing a light brown wand sitting within.
"His wand has been kept in isolation in the Hospital Wing, untouched since the night of the incident. It may not be taken into custody, and you are not permitted to retain it after this investigation. Are we clear?"
Kingsley nodded, raising his arm to touch the wand, but Dawlish had already made a grab for it. Lifting it by the handle, the man performed an ostentatious swish-and-flick, before giving him a funny look, as if he just remembered he wasn't alone.
"Mind if I do the honors?"
"...Sure," Kingsley sighed.
The sanctimonious auror twirled Potter's wand between his fingers, before taking his own wand and tapping its tip. Taking a deep, resolute breath, he began the wand inspection.
And nothing happened.
Well, that's a first.
Kingsley raised his eyebrows, glancing between Dawlish's reddening face and a wand that was cheerfully disobeying its wielder's command.
He was beginning to find it funny.
"It's—" Dawlish looked constipated as he tapped the wand harder and harder in frustration. "It's not responding!"
"What do you mean?" the Potter boy spoke up, worry marring his features. It was clear that the boy was just as surprised by this unexpected development as everyone else. That, or he was at least a fifth-level Occlumens, in which case Kingsley would require the aid of an official Legilimencer before any further action could be taken.
A few drops of veritaserum wouldn't hurt either.
"Professor McGonagall, may I—?" the boy offered.
"It's against the law for the accused to be using the wand during inspection, lad," Kingsley gently explained. He nearly felt guilty at the fear that spread across the boy's countenance thanks to his words. More and more, he became convinced that Harry Potter was just a boy caught in the crosshairs of events beyond his control.
"Damn it— this— this isn't working at all, Kingsley," Dawlish interrupted, shaking both his own wand and Potter's.
Nothing. Not even the flimsiest of sparks erupted out of the tip.
It was almost as if the wand was—
"It's dead," Dawlish finished his thought for him. "See? Completely unresponsive."
The man narrowed his eyes at McGonagall, before shifting his gaze to Potter and then back to her again. "What are you playing at? If I find that you've done anything to the wa—"
"I think," McGonagall interrupted him icily, "that everything will be settled if Mr. Potter is allowed to demonstrate a spell of your choosing, Mr. Dawlish." Clearly, the woman was not fond of seeing anyone antagonize one of her students without due reason.
Dawlish paused at that, before inclining his head. He motioned towards Kingsley. "Will you stand witness to this?"
Kingsley nodded in acknowledgment.
"Very well, Potter. You're to use a basic illumination spell with your wand. Think you can cast something non-lethal?" he jabbed.
The boy merely rolled his eyes at Dawlish's overtly accusatory tone and accepted his wand. Kingsley noted how Potter held it in front of him— loose grip, angled tip, balanced at chest height.
Interesting, a natural duelist's stance. Not something I see every day.
Aiming straight at Dawlish, Harry Potter flicked his wand forward. "Lumos."
And once again, nothing happened.
"What's wrong, Potter?" McGonagall asked.
The boy's face was all scrunched up. "I dunno, Professor. I can push my magic into the wand, but nothing's happening." He waved the wand a few more times, cycling through a full list of second-year charms. None yielded any results.
"Definitely dead," Dawlish muttered.
McGonagall gave him a don't-be-stupid look. "Mr. Dawlish, it is a wand. An outer layer of wood covering a piece of tissue from a magical beast or plant. It's neither alive nor dead, it's a tool. And tools either work or they don't."
"Well— then why aren't the spells working?" Dawlish looked like he was going to snap. "Maybe some kind of dark magic was used to temporarily keep the wand from working properly?"
"I don't know why you're asking me, Mr. Dawlish, seeing as I'm not a wandmaker. My sole purpose here was to stand in ceremony while Mr. Potter underwent a wand inspection." McGonagall narrowed her eyes. "Clearly, the two of you are unprepared to carry one out properly. However, lucky for you both, I'm certain Mr. Potter here will be happy to submit his wand to Ministry custody until the reason for the wand's behavior comes to light. I assume that would be all?"
Kingsley suppressed a chuckle. That was old McGonagall alright. In one clean stroke, she not only effectively silenced that knob Dawlish, but also ensured her charge wouldn't be taken into custody. At least, not until the wand could be made to work again.
I can already see how this will end. The Minister wanted to take Potter in, but he'll have to settle for his unresponsive wand.
"Mr. Dawlish? Mr. Shacklebolt?" the professor asked once more.
"Of course, Professor." And this time, Kingsley's smile was genuine. "That'll do perfectly."
Harry watched with a growing sense of dread as the two aurors took the narrow box— with his beloved wand inside it —and walked out of the room. He could feel the rhythmic palpitations of his heart as the sound of the two men marching away grew dimmer and dimmer. Really, why had he expected anything different? Every single bit of happiness had been systematically snatched away from him.
This time, it was his wand. What was next, Hedwig? And then what? Maybe—
McGonagall's voice brought his thoughts to a screeching halt. Inwardly shaking, he turned to his right. "Ye— yes, Professor McGonagall?"
"Are you alright?" she asked, her face softer than he'd ever seen before on the normally stern visage.
"I'm… fine," he tersely responded. What was he supposed to say? Hee-ho! My wand's dead. Let's get another?
She nodded. "I see. It's that bad then."
Harry felt his patience grow thin. Why wouldn't this woman understand? What part of 'I'm fine' suggested that the situation was anything but fine? Besides, what business did McGonagall have in this anyway? She'd been perfectly peachy when her precious Gryffindors had made his life a living hell earlier this year, after the Tournament began. Sure, they had cheered and welcomed him back as Champion after the first task, but it was too little too late by then.
It was clear that all that talk about the House being family during the Sorting had been nothing but empty words.
Then again, given his experience with his aunt and uncle, Gryffindor House might actually be an accurate representation of what family was all about. And McGonagall, like Mrs. Stevenson back in primary school, had always chosen to look the other way.
"Potter, I understand you must be feeling bad about this situation. But—"
"I said I'm fine!" Harry snapped, his frustration finally getting the better of him. "Why do you keep harping on about the same thing?"
The old transfiguration mistress narrowed her eyes. "I can see the gears move in your mind, Potter. I have been in this profession for over four decades now, and I know a transition when I see one."
"What do you mean?" he bit out.
McGonagall raised her right hand and began counting fingers. "You had a near-death experience a week ago. You were in the hospital wing for most of the week suffering from an acute case of magical inundation. Moments after waking up, the Ministry, in its infinite wisdom, put you through a rigorous interrogation that may have opened old wounds. And now, you've found out that your wand is unresponsive and possibly— for lack of a better word —dead. Am I forgetting anything?"
"Yes," Harry retorted, inwardly looking for the most childishly insulting thing to say to her. "I didn't have a near-death experience, Professor. The bastard hit me with a killing curse."
Professor McGonagall opened her mouth—
"No, I don't have matching scars on my forehead now."
—And closed it promptly.
Harry slowly exhaled, shaking his head. "Sorry about that, professor. It's just— they think I murdered Cedric Diggory, that son of a—"
McGonagall cleared her throat.
"—Pureblood House that attacked me from behind," Harry awkwardly finished. "And now, my wand is dead and Professor Dumbledore is probably getting my things packed to send me back to my bloody relatives—"
She cleared her throat again.
"Look, we can't have a proper conversation if you keep taking offense to every word that comes out of my mouth, alright?" He glared at her, as if trying to prove a point.
The older woman arched a single eyebrow.
Harry deflated like a punctured balloon. "…Sorry. Again. It's just—"
"Understandable," the Transfiguration professor offered. "This sort of emotional baggage can affect one's psyche. A dangerous thing, considering one's natural instinct is to block out all unpleasant emotions and feelings. The fact that you haven't started attacking me or shown more overt hostility is, quite frankly, surprising."
"Does that mean you won't blame me if I hex Snape?"
Harry blinked. His mouth had gone off again without consulting the rest of him first. "Err… I said that aloud, didn't I?"
"You did," she deadpanned. Then, her expression softened. "And at the same time, having this conversation is like looking into an old mirror."
"What do you mean?"
A small smile spread across her lips. "As you are now, you remind me an awful lot of James Potter. The same casual arrogance. The cheeky tone. The habit of letting his mouth run off before his mind—"
Harry couldn't help himself. He giggled.
McGonagall arched another eyebrow.
"Sorry," he giggled again. "This is the first time someone other than Snape compared me to my father."
McGonagall pursed her lips. "Albus told me you were experiencing emotional upheavals, but seeing it in person is more than a little disconcerting." She paused for a moment. "I had always thought you resembled your mother more than your father. Lily was just like you— curious about the oddest things, always wearing her heart on her sleeve, dreadful at potions, despite Severus's numerous attempts to correct—"
"…I beg your pardon?"
"I could've sworn you said something really outrageous there, Professor. Are you saying Snape knew my mother?"
"Professor Snape and your mother were very good friends actually, until they drifted apart in their sixth year. It was probably for the best," she muttered. "With increasing tensions and the Dark Lord on the horizon, being friends with someone in Slytherin House could have been dangerous for them both."
Harry was absolutely floored. His mother was friends with Snape? The sniveling bat in the dungeons? The one who cut points for breathing and came down on Gryffindors with all the affability of a sociopath? That Snape? No. No way in—
"Then why does he hate me so much?"
Yes. His mouth running off was going to be a problem. Harry was sure of it.
"Professor Snape… is complicated. His reasons are his own, and not mine to give away," the old transfiguration mistress replied. "What I can tell you, however, is to not lose hope. I'm sure Professor Dumbledore will arrange for you to get a replacement wand as soon as possible."
"So it won't work anymore, huh?" Harry muttered, feeling sullen about it. "I had hoped—"
McGonagall squeezed his shoulder supportively. "The loss of a wand is something that happens to most witches and wizards. If I remember, your friend Ron suffered through something similar back in second year—"
"His wand was old," Harry retorted stubbornly. Ron's wand was a… hand-me-down thing. His holly-and-phoenix wand was special. It chose him. The wand chose the wizard. Ollivander said so.
"Different," Harry muttered. "It's not the same. My wand was special."
"Ollivander told me the phoenix whose feather lies in my wand gave just one other feather."
"And who got the other one?"
Harry surreptitiously avoided her gaze. "Professor Dumbledore told me that it's part of the similarities between myself and… him. He told me that the night he attacked me, Voldemort gave me powers. My wand connection, my ability with parseltongue—"
"That is a load of tosh, Potter," McGonagall asserted, surprising him. "I'm no expert, but Parseltongue is infamous as a Gaunt family trait, which is passed on through blood. Not through some," her eyes flickered to his forehead, "curse-scar."
Hary remembered Bones saying something along those lines.
"Professor, what's an inheritance test?"
"An extremely overpriced item on sale at Gringotts," she scowled. "It's used to allure inexperienced muggleborns into spending all their money in hopes of riches and recognition."
That… shut him up.
"Wherever did you hear about it, Potter?"
"Uh, the Bones woman mentioned it."
"Madam Bones mentioned it, did she?" the Scottish woman muttered. "I suppose it does make sense. It is entirely possible that Lily might have a Gaunt squib somewhere up her ancestry.
"So you're saying I'm related to Volde—" she flinched, "—mort?"
"Most pureblood families are related to each other. You should make it a point to look at the Potter tapestry sometime. The goblins should allow you access to it."
Peachy. Now all he needed to do was learn what a tapestry was. The rest would follow.
"Do you think Professor Dumbledore would allow it?" he asked. "Checking the Potter tapestry, that is?"
As weird as it was, it was a valid question. Dumbledore always held all the cards to his life— summer, school, and home. Hell, even his Gringotts key had been in the man's possession for the first eleven years of his life. Why that was so was anybody's guess.
"I don't believe it would be a problem, Potter," the woman replied imperiously. "If there's nothing else?"
"Er, no thanks Professor," he replied, his mind racing with various thoughts as the transfiguration mistress deserted the room.
Editor: Solo Starfish, the best goddamn starfish the world has ever seen.
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