The next time Harry had a chance to talk to Clark, it was after breakfast on the day of their first Potions class. They had found a secluded classroom not too far away from Potions.
"So," Harry said. "How are you settling in?"
"Well enough," Clark said. "My friends are pretty great. I've been talking a bit with Neville Longbottom. There's also a nice lad named Dean Thomas who's into art."
"Muggleborn?" Harry asked. He already knew the answer, of course.
"Well, yeah," Clark said. "What about your friends?"
"Draco Malfoy tried to establish dominance and failed," Harry said. "But…"
Clark rolled his eyes. "Slytherin stuff?"
"We're not baby politicians in Slytherin. It's just…"
Harry wasn't sure how to describe the sight of Draco Malfoy getting thrown into a wall. If it had happened in any other house, the rumor would have spread through the school like wildfire, but Slytherin clearly preferred to avoid public humiliation of their own.
"We'll see what happens," Harry said. "Have you reviewed the textbooks up to about fifth year?"
"Haven't needed to," Clark said. "Not since the first time. Do you really think Snape will try to pull something?"
"From what dad and Sirius said? He definitely will."
Harry was personally very jealous of Clark's memory abilities. Clark didn't really need to study his textbooks, because he could just remember what they said. He had an eidetic memory. Harry, in contrast, had to rely on memory methods Lily had written in her notebooks. Lily had been a pioneer in many magical methods, one of which was the Hypertime Memory Palace. A mundane memory palace technique was a way of encoding facts and knowledge into visual and spatial memory, by associating the desired memory with vivid imagery. For example, the instructions to brew a specific potion could be remembered as a hike, on which one would meet the creatures and see the plants that produced the raw potion ingredients.
A Hypertime Memory Palace differed slightly. While the base technique was the same, Lily's innovations had suggested creating an actual physical representation of the desirable memories in wizardspace, and then using dark and arcane magics to cast that physical representation into another mystical dimension, and somehow connecting that dimension directly to the brain. By doing this, Lily had theorized, it would be possible to preserve one's memories outside of the universe, in case some event happened to alter the flow of time.
Harry wasn't sure if that would ever happen, but he had resolved to figure out how to implement the Hypertime Memory Palace as soon as possible.
He didn't have Clark's photographic memory, after all.
"So tell me," Clark said. "Is Slytherin as bad as dad feared it would be?"
"What do you mean?" Harry said. "What, brave men in Slytherin and traitors in Gryffindor?"
"Just… the blood purism."
"Well, you know how it is. The Malfoys and their cronies would've been the old guard of that all. But Lucius became a recluse once Narcissa passed. And with what happened to Draco…"
"What happened with Draco?"
"I've got to have some secrets," Harry said.
"What about Nott, Greengrass, and Zabini?"
"Nott's brother is in exile as a squib, the Zabinis don't commit, and Greengrass is a 'reinstated squib', but the only reason families admit that they have a squib child is because the alternative is admitting that their kid was killed by the Laughing Man. She's back from the dead, just like you or me. None of them are staunchly blood purists. But don't you have a perfect memory? Shouldn't you already know this?"
Clark chuckled. "Just wanted to hear it from you. Wanted to be sure that you're still in love with showing off how smart you are."
Harry punched him in the arm. Clark didn't flinch in the slightest.
"You absolute arse."
Potions was a joint class with both Gryffindors and Slytherins. Harry thought this was a bad idea, since traditionally the houses had a rivalry, and they were playing around with possibly extremely explosive material.
The Gryffindors all sat on one side of the room, while the Slytherins all sat on the other.
As expected, Snape asked both Harry and Clark obnoxious questions from far beyond the first-year curriculum. Disappointingly, he only got to third-year level questions before giving up and deciding that the two of them would not be cowed. Then the class moved onto the practical component.
Harry caught Clark's eye, and they both decided that they would work with other people to keep their situation ambiguous. Clark ended up working with Neville Longbottom.
Harry could see Draco Malfoy angling to work with him, so he quickly paired himself up with the nearest possible person, who turned out to be Daphne Greengrass.
"Harry," she said, in formal tones. This was odd, since Slytherins tended to use last names unless they were actual friends. Her accent, of course, continued to not be French.
"Greengrass," he replied coolly. He noticed her face tense for just a second, before she gave a slight nod.
"Potter," she said. "That strikes me as inconvenient. There are two of you."
"A rarity, I know," he said. This was actually true, since the Laughing Man liked to target pureblood families with multiple children. Top-Secret forensics (that Sirius had given to Harry, expecting that he would forget them) suggested that he thought this was because single-children or orphans were either more tragic or funnier or possibly both at different times.
"Is it?" she said. "I have a sister myself. I suppose it would be inconvenient if you referred to both of us as Greengrass."
"You can call me Harry if I can call you Daphne," Harry said. She nodded.
They set to work on the potion, following instructions Snape had written on the board. Harry recognized the instructions as a fairly standard display potion — a potion that was meant to demonstrate the magical effects of ingredients, as well as provide an assessment of the brewer's skill. He had never brewed such a potion before, as that was illegal, but he was more than familiar with the theory behind the choices. His mother's notes had included an extensive section on potions, after all — though most of her potions work had been done in collaboration with Severus Snape.
It quickly became obvious to Harry that Daphne had no intuition for the magic behind potion making, though her handling of the ingredients was incredibly precise.
"This is odd," she said, glancing between the ingredients and Snape's instructions, as she stirred her cauldron, in which bubbled a green liquid. "One would expect the reaction of the ingredients to turn… to remain green, not turn purple."
"Is that so?" Harry asked. He glanced at his own cauldron. The liquid within was bubbling a faint lilac.
"The copper content, and the water and acid… I am unread on the theory," she said.
Harry turned what she'd said in his head. It was basic chemistry, which he had some grasp of, but he was well aware that most people in the muggle world didn't study chemistry until high school. Daphne Greengrass was advanced in the sciences, more so than a squib-in-exile often would be.
"The purple is a result result from channeling magic into the potion," he said.
"Really," she said, somewhat skeptically. "This is all new to me, of course. Being reinstated from exile as a squib is… I am told it is incredibly rare. The first determination is often jarringly final."
Harry nodded. "The theory I've read suggests that most wizards and witches shed magic so naturally that the mere act of stirring a potion is enough to make the change happen."
Though this wasn't universal, of course. Other people were having trouble, their potions remaining green: Neville, Crabbe, and surprisingly, Clark.
He watched Daphne very carefully. There was something undeniably interesting about her, if for no other reason than being able to throw Draco Malfoy across the Slytherin common room. Hogwarts robes were fairly good at concealing musculature, of course, but even so she didn't seem to have that sort of brute strength… and yet, she did, yet wasn't tripping over her hands or casually breaking things, suggested a huge degree of control.
She nodded, and gave her potion one clockwise stir. It instantly turned a deep imperial purple. Then, it started popping violently, bubbling and gurgling, frothing above the cauldron lip. Harry saw the signs of impending disaster.
He pulled out his wand and cast a Containment Charm around Daphne's cauldron just as it exploded. He had the strangest sense of deja vu.
Snape descended upon them. "Idiot girl," he scowled. "I suppose you thought more stirs would make the pretty color prettier? Still, I suppose you, Potter, are not as completely worthless as most celebrities."
"Well, sir, I have my mother's eyes," Harry said completely innocently.
Snape scowled at him. "Clean this mess up. Split your potion with Miss Greengrass. Perhaps you might both scavenge a passing teamwork grade."
"You have your mother's eyes?" Daphne said. "What, why did… is that supposed to mean something?"
"To him, I expected it might," Harry said. "But he's awfully good at hiding what he really thinks about us, don't you think?"
Daphne snorted. "I've had some very tough tutors in the past. Many of them really did hate me as much as they acted like."
"Over in France," Harry said. It was transparent fishing for information, but he wasn't sure how else to approach it.
She didn't take the bait.
"I wasn't aware that they taught such advanced chemistry in primary school in France," Harry said casually.
Daphne shrugged. "Tutors."
They made it through the potions lesson more or less intact. Harry had discreetly observed Clark, and noted that he had managed to get his potion purple and finished as well. Snape begrudgingly gave them all passing grades.
"Tell me, Harry," Daphne said, as they were cleaning up, "how well-read are you in magical theory?"
"I'm no scholar," Harry said. "But I've read a lot for someone our age."
He didn't mention, of course, that much of his knowledge was unorthodox; his mother, Lily, had cobbled together her own hedge witch's understanding of practical applications of magical theory, layered atop of the orthodoxy of her day.
"Perhaps," Daphne said, "you might deign to speak with me about such things?"
Harry kept cleaning, and did his best not to react. Why was she interested in such things? It was possible, of course, that she was simply interested in magical theory, since she had been raised as a squib. But surely someone who knew chemistry at the age of ten or eleven was capable of self-study? The more obvious answer was that she was interested in establishing a friendship with the Boy-Who-Lived… but she had been raised as a squib, and probably assigned little value to the myth.
It wasn't as if he had much to lose. It wasn't like girls had cooties.
"I would be happy to," Harry said.
As people started filing out of the potions classroom, Harry lingered in the classroom. There were questions he wanted to ask his head of house. Draco Malfoy was also lingering, no doubt to share the story of his humiliating social defeat.
Harry stared Draco down.
"You can go first, Potter," Draco said. "Please, be my guest."
"So you can eavesdrop?"
Draco snorted. "What on earth would I have to eavesdrop on? It's blatantly obvious that Snape hates you. I'd be doing you a favor by staying here. I'd probably save you from getting your arse torn into bits."
Harry grimaced. "That's not a picture I ever wanted to imagine, Draco."
The sad thing was, Draco was probably right. Snape probably wouldn't curse Harry, if there was a witness. Harry stepped forward.
"What do you want, Potter?" Snape said. "I have nothing to say to you."
"Tell me, sir," Harry said. "Did you ever perfect the BATSsuit spell?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Potter," Snape said. "If that is all, I suggest you start reviewing the fourth-year potions curriculum for next class."
"The Blunt and Arcane Trauma Shield Suit Charm," Harry said. "A collaboration between my mother, Lily Evans Potter, and her childhood friend Severus, whose father was an abusive drunkard. All written in her lab journals."
He wasn't sure whether he was more upset or relieved that Snape's face remained stony, though from the corner of his eye he noticed that Draco had an incredulous look on his face.
"Frankly, Potter, I haven't the slightest clue how a muggle-raised orphan would have any inkling of his mother's childhood friendships, or how he would stumble across her lab journals."
Harry shrugged. "Oh, you know. Fate works in mysterious ways."
"Does it now," Snape said, his eyes glinting. "Five points from Gryffindor."
"I'm in Slytherin, sir. Thank you for your time," Harry said. He departed, leaving Draco behind.
Draco watched Harry leave the potions classroom. He wasn't sure what had just happened, but he was pretty sure Harry Potter, the supposed Boy-Who-Lived (even though he didn't have a scar) had just mouthed off to Professor Snape and gotten away with it completely.
"Sir," he said, hesitantly.
"Am I to assume," Snape said, "that his confidence means that he has, in effect, secured some form of social dominance over the Slytherin first-year class?"
"…Yes," Draco said. "I'm afraid so."
"Concerning," Snape said. He started writing something down in a notebook he pulled out of his desk. The design was very strange to Draco. It seemed to be a notebook with an oddly synthetic spine, and green and white speckles across its cover.
Draco waited for Snape to say something else, but he seemed to be content with his writing, though he seemed to be gripping his quill rather hard.
"Sir," Draco said, "Are you aware that my parents are… not well?"
"Yes," Snape said. He didn't say anything else.
Draco kept waiting.
"I was under the impression," Snape said after a moment, "that reports of Narcissa's departure were… overstated."
"My father says she's dead," Draco said.
Draco didn't answer.
"Has he ever raised his hand against you, Draco?" Snape said, looking up from his writing. His dark black eyes were glistening. Draco took a breath.
"Sometimes… sometimes I forget that mother is supposed to be dead, and I… he reminds me," Draco said. "He starts shouting and sometimes I think he's going to curse me… but usually she stops him."
Snape closed his notebook, though he still held his quill, letting it dribble ink onto the table. "How do you feel about Potter's dominant social status, Draco?"
Draco knew he was supposed to feel insulted and hurt that Potter had usurped him within Slytherin's social order, and therefore would be the face of their year, more likely to be a prefect, and possibly Head Boy if it came to that… so he felt mostly guilty that he was relieved.
"My father was Head Boy in his day," Draco said. "It doesn't do him much good now."
"You may be aware that your father and I were once… comrades," Snape said.
Draco nodded. "He said I could trust you with my life, sir, but he's… unwell."
"I assume, Master Malfoy, that you are not currently in any mortal danger," Snape said. "So what is it that you wish to ask of me?"
"I wish to be something other than… I wish to attain more… I… I… I can't be like them," Draco said.
"Like mother and father."
"You would turn your back on decadence? On the power and prestige of the Malfoy name?"
"I'm afraid of them," Draco said, admitting it to himself at last. "Afraid of losing myself, like Father. Afraid of whatever Mother is. I tried being the Malfoy that Father told me to be, and Daphne Greengrass threw me into a wall. If I am to lead them, or anyone at all, I want to earn their loyalty instead of buying or bullying it the way Father does."
"Do you truly think I can help you with that, Draco?"
"Sir, if anything, you are the only one who can," Draco said. He wasn't sure how to formulate this argument, but he had to get Snape on his side so he could hope to avoid becoming a junior Death Eater. "You were both one of the Dark Lord's most trusted servants and a friend to Potter's mudblood mother. If anyone could help me change and grow past my upbringing, it is you, sir."
Snape snapped his quill. Draco was fairly sure he had done something wrong.
"Out," Snape growled.
"Sir, I'm sorr—"
To Miss Astoria Greengrass,
What is going on with your sister? Who is Daphne, really? Why have I never heard of her before? Was she truly exiled as a squib?
I have no idea. Clearly, your mum isn't the only one who isn't as dead as everyone thinks.
What is Hypertime? Notes by Lily Evans:
Nobody knows. At least, nobody seems to agree. Some sources say it's the medium that 'the timeline' is suspended in, whatever that means. Some people say that it's the process by which universes split into parallel universe, but then merge back together, so all the 'heaviest' elements of a history stay within a single reality. I don't know how on earth you'd ever prove that something like that has happened, or how you'd even come up with that idea. Some sources say that 'Hypertime' is just a term for the multiverse itself, which is unsatisfying.
What most sources agree upon is that Hypertime is real. It's some mechanism that keeps the timeline relatively self-consistent. It's why Time Turners don't shatter the timeline horribly — if you use a Time Turner, some Hypertime mechanism will make sure that everything ends up turning out okay.
An idle thought: if your imagination is good enough to imagine a parallel world, would Hypertime make it real? And if it was real, if you edited part of that world, or let time pass without your thoughts… imagine what sorts of things you could do with that much 'extra time'.
A whole universe filled with people making discoveries for you… but none of those discoveries would be guaranteed to work in the 'real world'.