The first-years had four classes on their first day of school: History, Care of Pokemon, Defense, and Transfiguration. Each was to run for two hours, for the first day only. The prefects explained that these four classes were to assess their basic competencies in the various fields of Pokemon combat, and that these were absolutely necessary to become a defender of Galar. These were the four classes that were absolutely necessary for every student to take to the highest level, no matter what they wished to do with their futures.

In History, the teacher Professor Binns, who didn't seem completely alive, turned on a video and then disappeared for the whole hour. History was taught in a classroom that really wasn't all that different from the mundane classrooms Harry had sat in before. The only difference was that the video seemed to be powered by magic instead of by electricity, but Harry wasn't familiar with how electricity worked anyways. Magic and electricity may as well have been interchangeable to him.

The video was very jingoistic, and looked as if it had been made half a century ago. Harry had heard much of it before, but this went a bit further than the videos he had seen in the past. The big takeaways were that the wizards were at war, that they fought in the shadows, and that they both had power and duty.

It was an interesting novelty, to be sure. The voiceover of the video sounded like an old-timey radio announcer, and the scenes of destruction wreaked by Dynamax storms were all done via paper dolls on sticks. But there really wasn't anything Harry hadn't seen before or figured out anyways, though when he glanced around the room, Ron was staring at his desk, Hermione had her jaw clenched, Dean's face was slack, and Draco Malfoy was just not paying attention.

Care of Pokemon was taught by Hagrid, but it wasn't too involved of a class at least at first. They met in the Entrance Hall of the castle, as the tundra outside was too cold for beginners to bear for too long.

Hagrid had them bring forth their Pokemon, and he went between each of them assessing their health and giving pointers on how to treat any preexisting health conditions.

He stopped before Harry and his Eevee, Honor. Even kneeling, Hagrid towered over the both of them, but he was gentle when he scratched Honor's chin.

"Hmph," Hagrid said. "She seems to like you."

"I got her from Ollivander just the other day," Harry said with a smile.

"Really?" Hagrid said with a raised eyebrow. "Yer like yer mum, then. A friend to most Pokemon, Lily was."

"You knew my mum?"

"I can tell you later," Hagrid said as he was lifting up each of Honor's paws and inspecting her soles. "Have you given any thought to what Eevee here should evolve into? Any particular affinities?"

Harry frowned. He hadn't given it much thought at all, because Honor was just so fluffy and many of Eevee's evolved forms just didn't have that sort of fluff.

"I haven't, and McGonagall and Gryffindor weren't sure what type of human I was," he said. "But when I was battling Ollivander, weird lights came out of my wand and McGonagall called it a Z-phenomenon."

Hagrid paused at that, lifting his stethoscope from Honor's chest. "Interesting," he said, after a long moment. "Very interestin. Maybe it's best that you don't try to evolve Eevee here forcefully, see what plays out."

Harry frowned. "But that would lead to Espeon, Umbreon, or Sylveon."

"Mebbe," Hagrid said. "But who knows? Pokemon are mysterious creatures. Fate has a certain obsession with the Sacred Eight."

Harry wanted to ask more about the Sacred Eight, but Hagrid had moved on, and was now telling Dean he really should consider evolving his Minccino if he wanted it to survive.

Defense was taught by Professor Quirrell, who had a very bad stutter. The classroom was long and narrow. The front of the classroom was taken up by desks, but from the middle of the room to the door there was a long open space, almost like a corridor. The left and right walls were stained various colors.

"Today we're g-going to go over b-basic ranged attacks," said Quirrell shakily from his desk, without getting up. "These basic attacks are known by m-most Pokemon on instinct, but you will need t-to practice. So t-today it's just you. Your Pokemon will come out for later sessions, but today is for the wizards and witches."

Harry forced himself to tune out the stutter, because the lecture would've been impossible to understand if he paid it any mind.

Quirrell staggered to his feet, then leaned against the magical chalkboard at the front of the room. He pulled out his wand and tapped it. A list of moves, most of which Harry recognized, appeared.

Move name — Spell incantation

Most basic:

Water Gun — Aguamenti

Leafage — Herba Oppugno

Ember — Incendio

Thunder Shock — Baubillious

Gust — Ventus

Powder Snow — Glacius

Poison Sting — Toxis Oppugno

Rock Throw — Lapis Oppugno

Barrage — Oppugno

Less basic, but possible:

Vacuum Wave — Vatonda

Mud-Slap — Terra Oppugno

Confusion — Wingardium Leviosa

Pin Missile — Spinas Oppugno

Dragon Rage — Ira Draconis

Night Shade — Legilimens

"Most of you should have no true sophistication yet," Quirrell said. "So you can try these seven spells, which are easily learned by apt beginners."

He pointed at the first set of spells, labeled 'Most basic'.

"You should all also know your elemental affinities by now," he said, "so use the spell that best fits your typing. Some of you may also recognize these incantations as belonging to certain specialized spells, but with your lack of training you will at best be able to use them for basic offensive purposes. Legilimens and Wingardium Leviosa can serve as more advanced moves in the hands of stronger wizards, but you'll just use them for Night Shade and Confusion. You'll also notice that about half of them are variants on Barrage, or Oppugno, because throwing objects at someone is how most fights get started."

Hermione had raised her hand. "Professor, what about wand movements?"

Quirrell waved his hand. "You'll figure it out, I'm sure. At least one of these moves should be part of your, ah, 'natural learnset'."

Then he put his head on his desk and went to sleep.

Hermione's mouth was open, though when she noticed Harry staring she closed it, though her jaw was still very, very tense.

"Oh, by the way, you'll want to learn at least one move before the end of class," Quirrell said, raising his head for a second, before going back to sleep.

The class glanced around uncertainly, before they got up and moved to the practice area in the back of the room, facing the walls. Harry wandered over to Dean and Ron. Glancing around, he saw that Draco Malfoy was goofing off with Crabbe and Goyle, while Hermione was alone, taking a rather odd stance as she held her wand. Harry recognized it as one of the martial arts stances from the Stow-on-Side gym, though why she would use it was anyone's guess.

"So what are we supposed to do?" Dean said, looking at Harry, who had no idea himself.

Ron pulled out his wand, and pointed it at the wall. "Oppugno," he said uncertainly. The air in front of his wand shimmered, but did not react beyond that.

There was a sudden burst of heat and light from their right. Harry turned to see the cause, and saw, with some surprise, that Hermione had managed to cast Incendio, and that faintly shimmering embers decorated the floor and wall before her. As he watched, she released her Oshawott, and the otter Pokemon extinguished the embers with quick bursts of water.

"Well, if she can do it, it can't be that hard, right?" Dean said. "She's as new to this as we are, Harry."

Ron sighed. "Just my luck," he muttered. "Outdone already."

"It's not that bad, we're all beginners," said Dean.

A flash of anger crossed Ron's face for a second, but just as quickly it was gone. "Thanks, Dean."

Ron gripped his wand, and stared at the board. "Let's see… I thought the normal move would work best, but I should at least try the other ones."

Harry thought that was a great idea. He pointed his wand at the wall, and considered the incantations. Ollivander had said that the Potters were associated with fire and ground typings.

"Incendio!" he shouted, but nothing happened.

"Did you feel anything?" Ron said.

Harry shook his head. "Was I supposed to?"

Ron pointed his wand at the wall again, and tried casting his spell again. A few shimmering spheres of light appears at the tip of the wand, but didn't fully materialize.

"I felt something," he said. "It's… it's not easy to describe, but you should feel something when you try a spell you can learn naturally."

"Like when we got our wands at Ollivander's," Dean said.

A strange expression crossed Ron's face. "Yeah, like that."

Harry resorted to shouting the incantations in order, feeling sillier and sillier the further down the list he got.

"Ira Draconis!" he shouted, after a good twenty minutes. Of course, nothing happened.

From across the room, Draco Malfoy shouted, "Ira Draconis!"

A burst of pure, raw magic burst forth from Draco's wand, forming into shimmering blue, orange, and purple orbs. They swirled through the air before smashing into the wall. Draco kissed his wand, and then stared at all the other first years smugly, though the effect was ruined by his rapid breathing.

"For I am Draco," he said, in a breathless voice, "it is only fitting that I may call forth the rage of the dragon."

"Ira Draconis," Ron said gloomily, pointing his wand at the wall. He jumped back as a surge of blue, orange, and purple orbs, with quickening pace, flew from his wand and smashed into the wall.

"Good job, Mister Weasley," Quirrell said weakly, poking his head up from his desk. Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy was turning pink with rage.

"How on earth can a Weasley naturally use Dragon Rage effortlessly—"

"So I guess," Harry said, thinking aloud, "if I can't get this last one to work… I'll have to go back and try them all again until I find one that does. Legilimens!"

At first, it seemed like nothing had happened, but then Harry heard a thump from his left. Dean had fainted.

He stopped trying to cast the spell, and rushed over to Dean. "Dean, what happened!"

"Maybe you shouldn't," Ron said, pulling Harry back. Indeed, when Dean awake, he took one glance at Harry before quickly averting his eyes.

Harry frowned. "What happened?"

Ron said, "You turned, for lack of a better word… ghosty. My brother Bill does it sometimes. It's bloody terrifying."

"I thought we were trying to shoot lasers out of our wands," Harry said.

Hermione had drifted over to them, and she chimed in. "Night Shade is supposed to induce images of terror in its targets," she said. "It can manifest as a beam of energy, but there's no guarantee that it will. It grows in power with the Pokemon's strength, and I guess in the case of wizards too."

"Try to turn that into a beam, Mr. Potter," Quirrell said, turning his head up again. "Observe."

He pulled out his own wand, and with a shaky hand, he cast a beam of strange liminality at a nearby wall. It was hard to see, as if space itself refused to admit light out of it, and even though he but glanced at it Harry felt the strangest sense of despair.

"That's what Night Shade can be, Mr. Potter," Quirrell said. "Have fun."

He then collapsed again.

Harry spent the rest of the class refining his prowess at Night Shade. It was harder than it had to be, as for a good half hour he couldn't produce the beam of energy that Quirrell had, and no one could help him because he was hard to look at. But eventually, he got it, and people could gaze upon him again.

Finally, it was time for Transfiguration.

Transfiguration was in a huge spherical room, almost the size of a Gym Stadium in the Galar Major League. Harry gathered with the other Gryffindors in a clump along one secant of the wall. The Slytherins were roughly across from them, while the Hufflepuffs were to their left and the Ravenclaws were to their right.

"How does all this fit?" Harry said. "I didn't see this room from the outside."

"I read in Hogwarts, a History that much of the training rooms in the castle make use of Wizard-Space," Hermione said with a frown, as she released her Oshawott, Lutra, from its Pokeball. "Whatever that is."

"It's, like… Trick Room," Ron said. "Or Magic Room, or Isolation Room. It just makes distances bigger on the inside."

"Perceived distance or real distance?" Hermione asked.

Ron shrugged. "Does it matter? We're wizards. Perception is reality."

Hermione was about to contest that, but McGonagall suddenly appeared in the center of the room. With her was the Delphox that had represented Gryffindor. "Welcome to Transfiguration," McGonagall said. "Transfiguration is the study of the alteration of reality."

"That is annoyingly vague," Hermione muttered.

"In the heart of a Dynamax storm, logic becomes a mere fantasy," McGonagall said. "Weather changes from second to second. The ground beneath you will shift from green fields to a morass of psychic energy in but the blink of an eye. You will find your limbs dragging, your willpower sapped, your reflexes hindered with every strike from the wild Dynamax. Your only hope of victory is to wrest your own bubble of sanity from within their utter madness."

She raised her wand; a pillar of stone erupted from beneath her feet, lifting her high into the air, until she was almost at the top of the chamber, with the Delphox standing besides her.

"Today, you shall have a taste of the madness of the Dynamax storms," she said. "Your mission, as a class, is to destroy the pillar upon which I stand. In order to do this, you must approach it and touch it with your wand, and draw this symbol."

She raised her wand and drew a stylized Pokeball in one stroke. It shimmered with blue fire for a moment, just long enough for everyone to memorize, before vanishing.

"This trial will be within a Hyperbole Room, an advanced variant of Trick Room — distances will not follow Euclidean space. In the interest of facilitating teamwork, it will be far easier for you to circumnavigate the room than it will be for you to reach the central pillar. When you speak every other student in your quadrant of the room shall hear you clearly. It will take every bit of knowledge and grit that you have to even make the slightest dent in this trial."

She surveyed them grimly, a hawk upon its perch. Then, she raised her wand to the sky.

"I do not expect you to succeed. Eliolouste Emera."

The sunlight grew strong, light focusing through the roof of the room, becoming as hot as a summer's day despite the cold of the Crown Tundra outside.

The Delphox spun its stick as if it were a wand, creating a circle of mesmerizing Mystical Fire. Harry stared at it as it grew bigger and bigger, thicker and thicker, fire upon fire upon fire, and then the Delphox pointed its wand at them and the fire surged towards them.

"Go! Go!" Harry shouted, snapping out of his daze, urging his fellow students to dodge. Many of them ducked and rolled, but some—the muggleborns, Dean and Hermione, a small voice in his head noticed, froze. He pressed the release button of his Eevee Honor's Pokeball. "Honor, Sand Attack!"

Honor began kicking up a cloud of sand, but squeaked in fear as the first bits of the cloud met the Mystical Fire and melted into glass. Harry considered tackling Hermione and Dean out of the way, but Hermione shouted, "Lutra, Water Sport!"

Lutra the Oshawott expelled water from its body, creating clouds of mist around them, but still the Mystical Fire came.

"Trevor, Surf," came another voice from the right. Harry glanced to his right to see a wave of water heading right for them. He scooped Honor into his arms and braced himself. When the wave hit him, he went slack, allowing it to carry him away, though seeing with some relief that it'd similarly caught Dean and Hermione and pushed them out of the way of the incoming Mystical Fire.

The Mystical Fire hit the wave, releasing a hiss of evaporation, as a cloud of thick mist formed.

Ron was looking at the speaker. "Neville Longbottom, right?" Ron said.

Neville nodded. He was standing next to Seamus Finnegan. "You looked like you were in a pinch, there. Trevor, Rain Dance."

Trevor, a Palpitoad, which was a blue amphibian halfway between its tadpole phase and its frog phase, jumped up and down, calling forth clouds and blocking out the harsh sunlight. Neville released a sigh as the first drops of rain began to fall.

"Oh, Arceus. That was terrifying."

"I had it handled on my own," Hermione said peevishly.

McGonagall had turned her attention to the other Houses; She shouted, "Aguamenti Deterra." The ground where the Slytherins were standing started to tremble, as a water spout spontaneously burst from deep below the ground, casting them into disarray.

"Maybe I shouldn't have used Rain Dance," Neville said guiltily.

"Focus!" McGonagall shouted, her voice amplified by the room. "This is but the smallest fraction of the chaos of the Dynamax storms!"

"It's not about handling it on your own," Neville said, his voice feeble. "It's about working together."

"It's about leading and following," Ron said, giving a significant look at Harry.

"At least I was doing something," Hermione said, shooting a dark look at Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and the girls Harry didn't know the names of.

"Can it, Granger," Lavender said. "I was gathering information."

She sauntered over to Harry and tickled Honor on the cheek. "I see you've got a cute Eevee, too!" she said. "Come on out, Veeva!"

Lavender pressed a button on her belt, and in a flash of light her own Eevee appeared. It trilled a sound of joy.

"They could be sisters!" Lavender cooed. "You know—"

"Uh, McGonagall's going to attack us again," Neville said, cutting her off before she could say more.

"I'll buy us some time while you figure out what's the best plan of action, this isn't what I'm good at; Harry, you figure out an attack plan to get to that pillar," Lavender said. "Veeva, use Attract on Delphox the next time it turns towards you—that is the Sorting Delphox, right? It needs to be a boy or this won't work. I mean there are other caveats but—"

"What about McGonagall?" Harry said. "The Delphox might just set the weather and then she might hit us with an attack of her own."

Lavender looked at him with a frown. "This is a test, so she probably won't try to kill us. Probably. You're Harry Potter, right? I'm sure you'll figure something out."

This had been what Harry had been striving for his whole life. Danger, and reward. Lavender Brown was a child of the Sacred Eight, whatever that meant, just like he was, but she had trusted him with creating the strategy for attacking the pillar. Was that significant? It didn't matter, not now, in the heat of the moment. Not in the battle.

McGonagall was alternating her attacks. Her first attack had been fire upon the Gryffindors. The next had been water upon the Slytherins. The third, quaking earth beneath the Hufflepuffs. The next was yet to come, but would probably be on the Ravenclaws. Was the order important? It didn't matter; it just meant that if he predicted right, he had at least a minute to come up with a strategy.

He didn't know whether wizard healthcare was good enough to restore humans from the kinds of injuries sustained in casual battles, or whether wizards were naturally strong enough to tank Max Moves. He decided he couldn't afford to take that risk. Then he took inventory of what he knew about what his fellow students.

"Everyone, release your Pokemon," he said, barking the order, and with a burst of light the few who hadn't released their Pokemon did.

Harry's Eevee was snuggled up to him, though he wasn't sure what she could really do in this situation; the Evoboost phenomenon that he'd used in Ollivander's shop depended on the presence of Eevee's evolutions, and anyways that would only benefit him as opposed to his teammates.

Ron had his Dreepy and a Greedent. Greedent was useless in this situation, but Dreepy definitely knew Quick Attack, which could be used to close the distance, but not effectively enough to bring anyone along. Ron himself could cast Ira Draconis, Dragon Rage.

Hermione had her Oshawott, which knew Water Sport, which meant that it also knew Water Gun. Hermione herself could cast Ember.

Neville Longbottom had a Palpitoad, which knew Surf and Rain Dance, both of which were very rare in wild Palpitoad, suggesting some level of training or tutoring.

"Neville," Harry said, surprising himself with the intensity of his own voice, "strongest ranged attack from your Palpitoad beyond Surf?"

"Bubble beam."

Dean had his Minccino out, which was probably useless given the situation. "Ranged attacks?" Harry asked.

"I picked up Oppugno," Dean said. "Mickey knows Swift."

Swift would be surprisingly useful. The move generated a volley of glowing stars that homed in on their targets. Harry could see their potential as covering fire.

Seamus Finnegan had a Voltorb, which looked like a Pokeball but in the wild had the tendency to explode. "No," he said testily. "It doesn't know Self-Destruct."

"It doesn't need to," Harry said. "Eerie Impulse?"

"Maybe," Seamus said. "Never really saw the need for the move. So, not practiced…"

"It'll have to be good enough."

Lavender was already occupied with her Eevee, so that just left Parvati. She had a Heatmor, which was an anteater with the ability to breathe fire. "She knows Fire Spin," Parvati said, referring to her Heatmor.

"Our strategy should be to force McGonagall to deal with us while someone runs up to the pillar and draws the symbol," Harry said. "But our first goal should be to survive the next attack. Spread out, so we're not all clumped up! And once you do, everyone except Seamus attack!"

"What should I do, then?" Seamus said.

"Have Voltorb use Eerie Impulse on McGonagall," Harry said. "And keep doing that."

"And what will you do?" Lavender said. "What role will you play?"

"Honor will just use Swift," Harry said. "Now go! We've got maybe fifteen seconds until she attacks us again!"

They scattered, spreading out so they filled out a whole quadrant of the room, encroaching on the sections claimed by the Hufflepuffs and the Ravenclaws. The Ravenclaws were recovering from McGonagall's attack, which had been a combination of a Thunderbolt from the Delphox and a transfiguration of the ground by McGonagall. The ground beneath their feet now hummed with electrical potential, every step sending an invigorating jolt of static into their spines, as if they were standing on Electric Terrain.

She turned to Gryffindor.

"Now!" Harry shouted. Lavender's Eevee immediately began charming the Delphox with its feminine wiles, while Seamus ordered his Voltorb to use Eerie Impulse against McGonagall. From a distance, it was hard to tell if she was affected at all. At another barked command, everyone raised their wands and began to cast the spells they knew. Harry would've joined in, except Night Shade was bad for Dean's health and he didn't know if it would affect anyone else poorly.

Their attacks flew closer to McGonagall, faster and more ferocious, and for a moment Harry wondered whether he'd made a mistake, whether he'd assaulted a teacher on his first day, but she merely waved her wand and a translucent shield appeared before her, the attacks bouncing off.

"What do we do, Harry?" Ron shouted to him. "I can't keep up these Dragon Rages forever, and Hood's getting bored!"

Harry cursed. The point wasn't to defeat McGonagall in combat, it was to destroy or deactivate the pillar using the symbol she'd drawn. Then he realized that they'd drawn her attention, and were keeping her occupied. She hadn't turned to attack the Hufflepuffs or the Slytherins again yet.

He broke out of formation. "Keep attacking!" he said. "Honor, cover me with Swift!"

His Eevee trilled, shooting swirling stars out of its body, that flew towards McGonagall. Hopefully, that would keep her distracted enough to not hit him.

He ran towards the Hufflepuffs. A rather bossy boy was saying, "Now, have your Onix serve as a bivouac—"

"Go!" Harry shouted. "Start going for the pillar! You're Hufflepuffs, aren't you? Logistics is what you do!"

"Excuse me, but how dare you—"

"Do you want to succeed or not?" Harry said.

A girl with dark red hair nodded. "Potter's right, Zach. We're Puffs. This is what we do. The dirty work, the hard work, the necessary work," she said pointedly. "Brotherhood without glory, Smith."

The bossy boy clenched his teeth. He wasn't happy about being subordinated, but surprisingly he was willing to cooperate with Harry's commands. "If you insist, Susan. Do you have a plan, Potter?"

"Get the symbol drawn while my Gryffindors keep her distracted," Harry said. When had he started to think of them as his Gryffindors? It didn't matter. Seeing Smith's surly expression, he added, "The Onix as a bivouac was a good idea, Smith. If your Puffs are alright with using their bulkier Pokemon as physical shields, it could be the difference between getting to that pillar or not."

He saw Smith's resentment dissolve a bit, turning to resolve, but before it could solidify Harry ran for it, towards the Slytherins, but had to dodge out of the way of Crabbe's Krabby using Crabhammer.

"Out of the way, Potter!" Malfoy shouted pompously. "My grunts, forward! Forward, unto glory! For Mal—For Slytherin!"

A few more seconds of observation led Harry to believe that there was no more point of trying to get the Slytherins to cooperate or take advantage of the openings he was trying to create. Draco Malfoy was urging his minions towards glory, and it seemed like the other Slytherin first-years were content to stay along the wall and have their Pokemon shield themselves when necessary, but otherwise stay out of the fight. He was about to leave, but paused.

There was a blonde girl with very cold blue eyes studying the scene distantly, as if he was a Pokemon to be recorded in a Pokedex, a Frosmoth idly flapping its wings by her side. He instantly knew that she wasn't idly gossiping or keeping her nails unchipped, no more than Lavender had been. He shivered involuntarily, but suddenly there was a blast of wind from McGonagall. He grabbed Honor and ducked down, rolling as he approached the Ravenclaws. Unfortunately, all of them started shouting theories at him that came from battle science — speculating what Pokemon type McGonagall was and the corresponding type effectiveness, and Defense and Special Defense, and all sorts of assumptions that they didn't have time to test —

"Stay back here," Harry found himself saying, "and provide ranged support. There's no time for anything fancy."

"But if we increase our Special Defense," a girl who looked like Parvati said, "we could—"

"If this is meant to stimulate accurate Dynamax battle conditions, McGonagall or the Delphox almost definitely know either Clear Smog or Haze," Harry said. "They'll have some way of getting past stat boosting. This is a puzzle we need to push forward through, not turtle behind. I need your Intimidators, your Charmers, your Captivators. Any way you have of lower McGonagall's attacking ability."

"But you just said she'd have Clear Smog or Haze," said a boy.

Harry nodded. "I did. But wild Dynamax Raids work differently. In those, it's possible to weaken the Storm, but any attempts to strengthen your team gets blown away by the Dynamax energy. If she's trying to simulate that, then lowering her special attacking ability would work. And she can't protect herself forever."

A murmur of assent rippled through the Ravenclaws; he had convinced them. Now, all he had to do was see if the plan worked—and if it didn't, he would have to fix it. He ran back to the Gryffindor side of the room.

"Well?" Lavender said, as he approached. Her Eevee was dancing, shaking its tail at the Delphox, whose attacks had weakened considerably. "What was your plan?"

"Hufflepuffs to the objective, Ravenclaws doing debuffing support," Harry said. "We overwhelm them with raw power to give the Hufflepuffs a chance."

"And Slytherin?"

"Didn't seem like they'd listen to me," Harry said.

"Probably for the best," Ron said. "Slytherins aren't suited for the battlefield anyways. Almost never end up in real raids."

"You're both judging the entire house off of the Malfoys, I see," Lavender said. She raised her wand and fired a Barrage at McGonagall, disrupting the path of a stream of fire. "Did Greengrass say anything?"

"Who?" Harry said. He remembered that Greengrass was the name of one of the Sacred Eight, but couldn't recall anything further.

"Daphne Greengrass. She's in Slytherin. Blonde. Has Ice-types."

The girl with the icy eyes, Harry realized. "She seemed to be happy with gathering intelligence," he said diplomatically.

"That stuck-up…" Lavender murmured. "I mean I don't have anything against Greengrass, really, she's a perfectly nice girl, it's just that if she's going to be so closed-off the least she could do is let the rest of us have our excuses… I mean, she seemed to give off that impression the last time I talked to her, which was a while ago and actually before we came to school, but—"

"Not that I talked to her…"

"Well. Of course not," Lavender said, her face turning red. "Seamus, you can switch to Thundershocks. Potter gave the Ravenclaws debuffing duty."

"In what world is any of this normal?" Hermione said, interrupting. "I didn't agree to any of this! When I came to this school I didn't expect to be dodging Fire Blasts on my first day!"

"Welcome to being a witch, Granger," Lavender said. "Good luck surviving."

"We die in the shadows so they can live in the light," Ron said, gloomily. "Ira Draconis!"

Their attacks were having some effectiveness; McGonagall had turned her full attention to the Gryffindor side of the room. It was taking much of her effort to counter each of the attacks the Gryffindors were sending her way, and the Delphox was having to provide an increasing amount of support, turning to deflect blows instead of attacking on its own. Slowly, the Hufflepuffs were making their way towards the central pillar, pushing their way forward one step at a time.

But periodically, the Delphox would raise its wand into the air, flaring a bolt of psychic energy that all but vanished. Over, and over, and over.

"The Delphox, it's…" Harry said, knowing that his had to be important.

"Why isn't it attacking constantly?" Hermione said.

"It must be setting up for later," Lavender said. "But that would mean… oh, karp. Zach! Susan! Look out!"

But her words went unheard; they did not carry out of the Gryffindor quadrant of the Hyperbole Room. Harry watched in horror as a barrage of psychic force materialized before the Hufflepuff caravan, exploding with immense power, flinging the entire chain of Hufflepuffs back to the edge of the room. All the progress they had made was for naught. Though McGonagall and Delphox were still attacking with much less power than they had been at the beginning of the trial, it was as if they were sending a message. Such primitive distraction tactics were ineffectual.

And something formed in Harry; some sort of resolve. Teamwork was good and necessary, but sometimes the best laid plans were doomed to fail. Sometimes, you had to step up and be a hero yourself.

He gripped his wand tightly, and tensed his muscles. He felt the magic flare through his veins, infusing his muscles, and he launched into a Quick Attack, this time charging forward, towards the pillar.

"Potter, what are you doing?" Lavender shouted. "You idiot, you're supposed to be a general, not a suicide lead! Oh, what's the use! Everybody, support him! Supportive fire!"

Blasts of energy and Pokemon moves soared through the sky above him. Ron's Dragon Rage. Hermione's Embers and her Oshawott's Bubblebeam. Lavender's Oppugno. Seamus's Barrage and his Voltorb's Thundershock. Dean's Barrage and his Miccino's Swift. Neville's Palpitoad's Bubblebeam. All behind him. All supporting him. All rushing him forward, onward, to victory.

It was not to last.

"Psychogenesis!" McGonagall shouted, pointing her wand at the ground, and immediately a thick, pink morass of materialized psychic energy settled on the ground, like a deep fog, tinged with thought-impulse. It felt as if Harry had slammed into it, and though the impact did not hurt, all the momentum was sapped from him immediately. Though he tried to push forward, with his magic bolstering him through Quick Attack, he could not move. Every motion sent ripples into the psychic terrain, echoing through the entire mass of misty pink thought, until the echoes collapsed back onto him, in an equal yet opposite reaction.

He recognized the effect. Battle science dictated that Psychic Terrain prevented the use of Priority Moves, and now he had a firsthand insight into the mechanism—which would be an amazing experience, except it was stopping him from succeeding at this trial.

"I need," he said, hoping his voice would be heard by someone, anyone in the room, "I need a Defogger to clear the terrain. A Steel Roller. Something, anything, just get rid of the Psychic Terrain."

He stopped trying to Quick Attack, and started pushing forward, step by step, one step at a time, knowing that his slowed pace made him a sitting Psyduck for one of McGonagall's attacks. But he wouldn't turn back and give up; if he looked behind him, he could see that the rest of the Gryffindors were just five or so steps back, at the edge of the room. It was surely an effect of the Hyperbole Room, making distances in one direction longer than the other. He couldn't give up, make all this effort for naught.

There was a sudden heat on his face; he raised his face to the sky, and saw a bolt of fire coming right towards him. Tiredly, he raised his wand, the slow motion causing no rebound from the Psychic Terrain; he would go out fighting. Even if he couldn't direct his casts of Legilimens, he was certainly going to try.

The fire was almost upon him, the heat starting to sear his face. He readied himself, hoping to time his cast just right so the fire would be split around him. But he wasn't at all confident. He wasn't at all sure. This would be a pathetic way to die, but at least he could say he tried.

He cast the Legilimens, the ghostly energy billowing out of his wand like a mushroom cap, igniting at contact with the flame like swamp gas. The fire was before his face, but crucially, it was coming no closer, burning at the tip of his wand, splitting around him, like some sort of fiery shell. But he knew he couldn't maintain it for long.

And then, suddenly, the pink morass of the Psychic Terrain was gone. There was the smell of fresh spring beneath them, the scent of newly grown grass and sprouting flowers, though some was starting to burn from the heat. And then behind him, Neville's Palpitoad used Rain Dance, and the pitter-patter of rain began to fall.

Harry could move with celerity again. Once more the magic filled his veins and muscles, flowing from his wand to his soul to his limbs. He sprung forward, ducking underneath the incoming fire, letting it harmlessly impact the ground behind him. He put one foot before the other, running faster and faster upon the fresh green grass of a new spring. With every footfall, he felt a rhythm strengthen in him, felt the urge to give into his instincts, felt a desire to set himself free. And he gave into the impulse.

He stopped running, stopped forcing his muscles forward, and started to glide. The grass became slick beneath his feet, and he raced forward like a skater on ice. He vaguely recalled a move he'd seen on television — Grassy Glide, which granted the user increased priority when used on Grassy Terrain.

Grassy Glide. Glissherba.

McGonagall and Delphox send attack after attack at him, but none connected. With the power of the Grassy Glide, he nimbly surfed across the Grassy Terrain, dodging deftly out of everything that could stop him. The pillar, once so distant, grew closer and closer every second.

He made it to the base; he'd done the impossible. The pillar loomed above him, easily a hundred feet in the air. He realized, with shock, just how terribly the Hyperbole Room had distorted space; the pillar had looked but thirty feet tall from the edges of the room. And a quick glance back at the Gryffindors made it seem like they were just ten steps away, despite the odyssey he'd undergone to come to this point. But there was still a chance for something to go wrong, still a chance for all his efforts to be a waste.

He took out his wand, and with a shaking hand, drew on the pillar the Pokeball-like shape that McGonagall had indicated was the win condition for this trial. And miraculously, nothing stopped him.

The trial was over; there was a great snapping sensation, as the Hyperbole Room punctured, and Harry found himself standing with the Gryffindors again. They were whooping and cheering! The mood was overjoyed; they embraced their victory, their hands reaching out to clap him on the back, and though Harry didn't understand it he was too tired to fight it. Even Zacharias Smith came and clasped his hand, though the Slytherins hung back from the celebration.

The wound of grinding rock echoed as the pillar descended into the ground, and McGonagall stood to face them.

"Congratulations," she said. "You have done admirably, as a class, to succeed at this trial. You have no further classes for the day; Please, rest yourselves and prepare for tomorrow. I commend you all for your efforts."

And Harry wondered whether he should be insulted or hurt that she had not congratulated him directly, but he hadn't meant to charge ahead and do it all himself. His original plan had been to help the Hufflepuffs make their way to the pillar, slow and steady, one step at a time. It had been pure luck that had forced him to charge ahead alone, and luck that turned the Psychic Terrain to Grassy Terrain, making his final charge possible at all. It was always supposed to be a team effort, and it was so tremendously unlikely that he had done it alone.

He gazed across his fellow students, whose exultation was belied by exhaustion, not a word of protest to spare.

Something caught his eye, in the crowd of aloof Slytherins:

A single green leaf, drifting down from a wand to the grass below, from a wand held by the girl with the cold blue eyes.