A New Beginning
Another chapter for you guys.
"Are you sure it was a good idea to give him the cloak now?" Dorea asked as Charlus entered the kitchen. "James is not as mature as you were at his age."
"It is a family tradition," he pointed out. "The heir to the family is gifted the cloak shortly before their first year of Hogwarts. Come on, Dor, how much trouble can an eleven-year-old cause?"
Dorea raised an eyebrow at Charlus.
"This is James, Charlus," she huffed. "I don't know where he gets it from, but I have never met a boy more mischievous than him. He is a magnet for trouble."
"Maybe he's spent too much time with Harry," Charlus mused aloud.
"Oh no, you can't pin it on Harry," Dorea denied. "It is in James's nature. It comes from your side."
"Why can't it come from yours?"
"Because my family are well behaved."
Dorea narrowed her eyes at him and Charlus knew he was close to crossing the line.
"Harry!" he greeted his friend cheerily as the man entered the room. "Would you like some coffee?"
"What have you done this time?" the man snorted as he took a seat at the table, noticing the irritable twitch Dorea developed whenever she was irked by something.
"Charlus is just being a prat, as usual," the woman said sweetly. "Don't worry, it's nothing I can't handle."
Charlus shivered at the implied threat.
His wife was not a woman to cross lightly.
"Here," Dorea said amusedly as she handed Harry a coffee. "Have you come to see James?"
"I thought I'd best to before Hogwarts becomes his playground," Harry murmured, a knowing grin tugging at his lips. "Where is the little bugger?"
"In his room," Charlus explained. "He'll be down for lunch shortly."
Harry nodded and took a sip of his coffee.
Even now, after all these years, the man was something of an enigma to Charlus.
Harry had recently celebrated his 51st birthday, and yet, he didn't look to be a day over thirty, whereas Charlus and the rest of the group he had been at school with had grown to be more distinguished.
Not Harry, however, and even Minerva was maintaining her youth better than the others.
Charlus wondered what their secret was but was pulled from his thoughts as he watched a deep frown crease his friend's brow.
Harry was tense, and had been for months, though Charlus didn't know what was bothering his friend.
Something he hadn't spoken of was going on, but before the Lord Potter could dwell on it further, Harry sprang into action.
In the blink of an eye, he had drawn his wand and flicked it towards an unseen target.
With a yelp of surprise, James appeared before them, dangling upside down by his ankle as the invisibility cloak pooled to the floor.
"You said no one would know I was there if I stayed under the cloak!" James said accusingly, pointing at Charlus who shook his head.
"You tried to use it on Harry," he said simply.
James stuck out his bottom lip, annoyed that whatever prank he had tried to play on his godfather had been prevented.
He'd been making these attempts for a few years now, but Harry had never fallen for a single one, though Charlus did wonder how he knew James had been there.
"Harry, let my son down, all the blood is rushing to his head," Dorea sighed.
Harry relented, and James collapsed to the floor in a heap.
"Better luck next time," he chuckled.
James frowned at his godfather.
"I'll get you one day."
"We will see, but for now, come here."
James did so, looking up at the man expectantly.
"You'll be going to Hogwarts in a few days."
"Bella will be watching you closely," Harry warned.
James muttered incoherently under his breath.
"But I'm sure she won't be able to find you under that cloak."
James returned the grin his godfather sent his way and Dorea threw her arms up in the air.
"Unbelievable," she grumbled. "Harry, don't encourage him."
"He will be fine," Harry said dismissively. "I'll be interested to see if you can discover as many secrets of the castle as I did but remember what I've taught you."
"Always try my best and act in a way that is befitting of my station as the heir to a prominent family," James parroted. "Stick up for those that can't do it themselves, and never pick a fight when it can be avoided."
Harry nodded satisfactorily.
"I'll be watching, James," he warned. "You're a Potter, but you're also my godson. Do not let me or your father down."
James stood a little straighter as he nodded.
"Now, I got you a present," Harry declared, removing, and resizing a package from within his robes.
James's eyes widened as he opened it.
"Is this a new Nimbus? We are not supposed to have our own brooms in first year," he pointed out.
"Are you going to tell anyone you have it?" Harry asked.
James eyes lit up mischievously.
"Thanks, Harry," he said gratefully, wrapping his arms tightly around the man.
He knew even before he'd asked that Harry would be a wonderful godfather to his son.
James had spent much time at the Evans household, and was all the better for it, despite his undeniable proclivity towards mischief.
Harry had taken the boy under his wing, had taught him how to fly, Charlus suspected he had taught him many other things, lessons that Harry would insist continue over every summer holiday.
The two even looked alike, almost uncannily in many ways, but Harry and Charlus also looked similar, and James certainly resembled his father more.
Charlus had long ago given up the notion of learning of Harry's parentage, but the older they grew, the more he believed his father had been right.
There was a closer connection between them than many would believe.
Not that it mattered to Charlus.
Harry was nothing short of being a brother, the same way that Reg, Arcturus, and Gil were also.
Despite the war ending almost three decades prior, the five men were as close as ever.
Derek didn't believe there was anything that would bring him back to Britain. His life, and his family were in Romania where he returned to every night, but Harry needed him, and the man had long ago earned his loyalty.
For the best part of three years, he had been in and around Knockturn Alley, watching, listening, and waiting.
At first, he had been perplexed by his task, but the longer he spent here, it became more apparent that something was afoot.
None spoke openly of it, and Derek would have thought nothing of the hushed and seemingly passive conversations had he not known what to listen for.
However, he had no doubt that what Harry seemed to fear was unfolding around him.
Someone, or a group were recruiting amongst the unsavoury elements of wizarding Britain.
At first, it hadn't been the dregs of society that had been doing this.
It had been some of the upper echelons that Derek had duly noted holding clandestine gatherings in an attempt to do so, but they had not been doing so for some time.
Evidently, they had delegated the task to others, individuals that were much harder to keep track of.
These were professional criminals who managed to avoid long stints in Azkaban.
For any would-be ne'er-do-well, they were the perfect agents.
Taking his leave from The Downed Unicorn, Derek tapped the coin that Harry had given him, relaying an update to the man.
In truth, little had changed on the surface, but there was an undeniable tension amongst those that dwelled in Knockturn Alley, and it was only a matter of time before something spilled over.
James was nervous as he waited to be called forward to be sorted. He desperately wanted to be in Gryffindor like his father and godfather, but his mother had been a Slytherin, so it was possible he would be put in the same house as the likes of Lucius Malfoy and Rudolphus Lestrange.
They were older than him, but he had already been warned about the older Slytherin boys.
They were bad news.
The thought of being placed with them made him shiver, but he was pulled from his thoughts when Minerva – Professor Evans called the next student to be sorted.
The entire Great Hall burst into whispers much to the confusion of the girl, and James craned his neck to get a closer look.
The first person he thought of when he looked at the diminutive redhead was his Aunt Rosa.
Lily, the girl with the sorting hat on resembled the woman so uncannily that James found it almost impossible to see any difference.
Had Rosa had a daughter he didn't know about?
No, Harry wouldn't have kept that quiet, but the name…
Evans was a common enough name in the muggle world, but in wizarding Britain, it was associated with only one family.
Switching his gaze to Professor Evans, the woman was looking on interestedly, the slightest of smiles and a look of wonder adorning her features.
Did she know the girl?
"Gryffindor!" the hat announced, and the little redhead scampered off to the table that were cheering delightedly at her placement.
James continued watching her, pondering how she could be so similar to his aunt, share a last name, but have no evident connection to her.
Lily was flustered, the other Gryffindors already inundating her with questions.
James was pulled from his thoughts once more by Professor Evans' voice, and with all his previous nerves forgotten, he approached to be sorted.
"A keen mind, one with a proclivity towards mischief, but there is a greatness in you, Potter. It will be up to you to discover it throughout your time here."
There was a pause as the hat deliberated its decision, and James breathed a sigh of relief when the announcement was made.
James hurried to join his fellow students and took the seat opposite the redhead so that he could get a better look at her.
At the age of eleven, he found himself already taken by her, the red hair and oddly familiar green eyes almost enchanting him.
"Sorry, do I have something on my face?" the girl asked.
James's mouth fell agape as he shook his head.
"No, you just look like someone I know," he managed to reply.
"My Aunt Rosa, Rosa Evans. Are you related to her?"
Lily frowned and shook her head.
"No, my family is quite small and there isn't anyone called Rosa in it."
James hummed thoughtfully to himself.
"So, you're not related to Professor Evans?" another voice broke in, an older student that James didn't recognise.
"No," Lily huffed. "I'm not related to Professor Evans."
"What about her husband, Harry?"
Lily frowned and shook her head confusedly.
"I have an Aunt Daisy, a sister Petunia, my mother, and my father. That's it!"
"Oh," the older boy said disappointedly and turned away, no longer interested in the first year.
"Why is everyone so interested in me?" Lily asked.
"Because of your last name," a girl interjected, another first year who had just joined them. "You have heard of Harry Evans?"
Lily shook her head.
"No, should I have?"
The other girl rolled her eyes.
"He's only the most famous person in wizarding Britain, probably the world," she explained excitedly. "He killed Grindelwald!"
"Who's Grindelwald?" Lily asked dumbly.
"Oh, you must be a muggleborn," the other girl said apologetically. "My name is Marlene McKinnon."
"Lily Evans," the redhead replied.
James watched the back and forth between the girls, acutely aware that another boy had slid into the seat next to him.
"Potter," he said almost nervously.
"Black," James replied amusedly. "Your mother actually let you come?"
James had only met Sirius twice during his life, despite the two being related on his mother's side.
Walburga did not like her eldest son mixing with others. As the eventual heir to the Black family, he was to be educated in their ways and not influenced by others.
James's mother said that Walburga was just a stupid woman that wanted to control Sirius.
"Yeah, she let me," the boy answered sheepishly.
"I don't suppose she will be happy you were sorted here?"
"No," Sirius snorted. "She will hit the roof."
Walburga would be furious that Sirius had bucked tradition.
"Is she related to Evans then?"
"Apparently not," James answered with a shrug, still unable to comprehend just how she was not connected to them.
Sirius frowned, but any further conversation was cut off by Dumbledore as he addressed those within the Great Hall.
"Before we tuck into our feast, there are some announcements to make," he began, smiling at each of the tables in turn. "Firstly, I would like to remind students that there is a list of banned items attached to Mr Pringle's door. Please do consult it if you are unfamiliar."
"Banned items?" James murmured.
"Secondly, the Forbidden Forest is off limits to all students with no exceptions," Dumbledore continued, shooting a glance at a pair of redhead twins at the Gryffindor table.
The boys nodded solemnly, though their expressions were equally defiant.
"Finally, Professor Mortlake will not be returning to Hogwarts due to personal issues, but I have lined up a more than suitable replacement to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts in his stead. He has joined us several times over the years but will be doing so now on a permanent basis. Please join me in welcoming Professor Harry Evans."
Stunned silence followed the declaration, and James could only stare as his godfather entered the hall from the door behind the top table.
The silence continued until the students erupted in a round of applause.
"Bloody hell, I won't get away with anything with him here," James groaned.
Still, he joined in with the applause, pleased that he would have another familiar face around the castle.
"Is that really him?" Marlene McKinnon asked.
"That's Harry," he confirmed. "He's my godfather."
"And Bella's," Sirius added.
James shot a glance towards the older girl seated at the Slytherin table.
She was just as surprised by Harry's appearance.
Evidently, he had told no one that he would be here.
"Prefects, please lead your students to their common rooms," Dumbledore instructed.
Catching Harry's eye, he gave the man a wave who nodded in return.
"He doesn't look so scary," Marlene commented as they left the Great Hall.
"You have no idea," he snorted. "My grandfather told me stories about Evans during the war. You don't want to get on the wrong side of him."
James nodded his agreement.
His own father did not talk about their time on the continent much, but he made it very clear that Harry was not a man to cross.
If even half of what James had heard was true, his godfather was a dangerous man.
He smiled to himself.
With Harry here, maybe they'd be able to continue their lessons.
Harry was undoubtedly an excellent wizard, and though he hadn't taught James anything overtly difficult, it had been enough to get an idea of how brilliant he was.
More than ever, James was looking forward to beginning his time at Hogwarts.
All of the other students were talking about him as though he was a rockstar, the man they had been so curious to know if she was related to. She wasn't, not as far as she knew.
Lily bit her bottom lip as the prefect explained where the dormitories were and showed them around the common room.
"It's going to be so cool being taught by him!" Sirius declared.
James nodded his agreement.
"What's he like?" Marlene asked curiously.
"Harry is really nice," James answered honestly. "He's as good as family to me and I've spent a lot of time with him for as long as I can remember. Him and my dad are like brothers."
"And my grandfather," Sirius added.
"Do you think that it's true that he killed a dragon?" Marlene asked.
"He did," James confirmed. "Everyone knows that."
"And the dementor thing?"
"I've seen his patronus."
Marlene stared at him in awe.
"What was it like?"
James frowned thoughtfully, and though Lily knew nothing of what they spoke of, she was transfixed on the conversation.
"It was a big, scary-looking dog," James answered with a shrug.
"What's a patronus?" Lily asked curiously.
"It's a really advanced spell that helps ward off dementors," James explained.
"They guard Azkaban, that's a wizarding prison," Marlene answered. "They suck your soul out."
Lily shivered at the thought.
"And Professor Evans is famous for that?"
James shook his head.
"Harry is famous for lots of reasons," he sighed. "He led the war against Grindelwald and was named Commander in Chief of the entire army when he was only twenty-two!"
"And he killed Grindelwald in single combat," Sirius broke in. "Everyone was scared of him, but not Harry."
The more she heard about the man, the more interesting he became to Lily.
"Who was Grindelwald?"
"Oh, you won't really know these things," James offered apologetically. "It's hard to explain, there's just so much."
"Wait, I have a book you can read," Marlene declared. "It was written by one of the people who was at war."
The girl ran up the nearby staircase and returned a few moments later carrying a thick volume.
She offered it to Lily who looked over the cover.
"Our Hero on the Continent, by Petr Sokolov," she read aloud.
"He's one of Harry's closest friends," James explained. "That's the only book about the war that Harry has endorsed. He got sick of the rumours and Petr asked if he could write the truth."
"Didn't he say no at first?" Sirius asked.
"He did," James confirmed. "It took years for Petr to convince him."
"What do you think he will be like as a professor?" Marlene asked.
"All I know is that we're lucky to have him. Dumbledore has been trying since the end of the war to have him here permanently. He came in a few times whilst his wife was looking after their babies, but not since I've been alive."
"Years before that," Sirius explained. "Not since the fifties, I think."
Lily didn't know why, but some of the excitement of the others was rubbing off on her, and when it was time to bid the others goodnight, she went to bed and began reading.
She learned of the years before the war, Professor Evans' time as a Hit-Wizard, and every detail of the war itself. She was utterly enthralled by the unfolding story and found much of it so hard to believe.
How could a single man have done so much?
By the time she had finished digesting the book, there were only a few hours left until breakfast, and with her mind full on the tale of the enigmatic man, she drifted off to sleep wondering what other incredible things the wizarding world had to offer.
Harry's first lesson consisted of a mixture of sixth year students from all houses, many of whom were familiar to him for all the wrong reasons. Most were clad in robes trimmed with green and silver, but there was also a Hufflepuff amongst them that he would never forget.
Barty Crouch Jr.
For the past few years, Harry had been debating how best to spend his time whilst he searched for Voldemort. Despite his best efforts, he had found nothing but whispers which meant that it was highly likely that he was being hidden by one of the pureblood families.
Who that could be, Harry could not even hazard a guess, but the parents of some of the students before him were strong suspects.
In aide to defeat Tom, Harry had considered finally accepting the Minister of Magic post when it had become vacant but had ultimately decided against doing so.
Being Minister was a monumental task in itself, and Harry need freedom to move when required.
Besides, his relationship with Eugenia Jenkins was good enough after he had endorsed her placement.
She was by no means an ideal candidate, but she was easily influenced, something he could use to his advantage.
Still, Harry felt almost useless when his searching yielded so few results, so he had decided to return to Hogwarts where the Dark Lord's poison would seep into the minds of the students.
Harry doubted he could save them all from the effects, but he had to try, or at least show them what they faced should they choose to join Voldemort.
"What are the Dark Arts?" he questioned the students, silencing their muttered conversations. "Mr Lestrange?"
The boy stood confidently, a smirk tugging at his lips.
"Magic that the Ministry deems too dangerous to practice," he answered.
"Take a point for Slytherin," Harry offered. "Mr Lestrange is correct, although his explanation was given in a roundabout way. The Dark Arts by definition encompass what you said, but they are so much more. They are not a specific set of spells but more in line with a set of ideals."
With a deft flick of his wand, the faux entrails of a training dummy in the corner exploded outwards, showering the floor in a viscous liquid and what would be human remains.
The students were taken aback by the demonstration, many paling as Harry looked at each of them unflinchingly.
"What did I do?" he asked.
"We couldn't tell," Augustus Rookwood pointed out. "There was no visible magic, and you didn't use an incantation."
"But would you agree that what I did was Dark Magic?" Harry returned.
Augustus and most of the other students nodded.
"You would be correct," Harry praised, "but the spell I used was nothing more than a modified summoning charm. A show of hands who can cast one."
Every student in the room did so.
"Congratulations, you have the potential to replicate what I did."
"But you'd still go to prison even if it isn't Dark Magic," Rudolphus pointed out.
"You would," Harry agreed, "and that is why the Ministry definition of what constitutes Dark Magic is perhaps one of the most foolish legislations I have ever come across. Magic is magic, and so many commonly used spells can be used to take a life. However, there are many fools in the world who believe in the superiority of Dark Magic."
Harry allowed his words to sink in before continuing.
"They believe in them so wholly that they become reliant on them, but that is an error on their part. True dark magic is parasitic in nature, it feeds on the sanity and clarity of those that abuse them. I myself am an expert in them. I know magic that would haunt your dreams, that you wouldn't believe to be capable unless you witnessed it for yourself, but I have never relied only on that knowledge. I think you'll agree that my demonstration has shown that it is unnecessary to do so."
Once more, the students nodded, seemingly enraptured by his words.
"This year, we will be focusing on perfecting your use of non-verbal casting," Harry explained. "I will be covering some aspects of duelling with you and begin your education in advanced defensive magic. Any questions?"
When none raised their hands, Harry nodded in satisfaction.
"For the rest of this lesson I want you to practice conjuring a basic shield non-verbally. It is a good place to start because it requires complete focus on the task. I will be coming round to assist if you require it. You may begin."
Harry watched as the students set to work, pleased to see that Bella had no issue with her work.
He had begun teaching her non-verbal casting more than a year ago and she had taken to the skill quickly.
"Good," he praised as he passed and approached the small cluster of Hufflepuffs.
"I can't do it, Professor," one of the boys groaned.
He was sweating profusely, his cheeks red from his efforts.
"You're trying too hard," Harry explained. "It should feel natural. Take a deep breath, relax, and try again."
The boy took a few moments to compose himself, and when he made his next attempt, he managed to conjure a pale barrier, though it collapsed almost immediately from his own surprise.
"I did it!" he exclaimed.
"Take a point for Hufflepuff," Harry said encouragingly. "Keep going."
Returning to the front of the classroom, he continued his observations, keeping a close eye on the Slytherins who were paying much too much attention to the Hufflepuffs for his liking.
The very second he spotted a wand pointed in their direction, he fired a stinging hex, catching the culprit on the wrist.
Lucius Malfoy yelped, his wand clattering to the floor as he clutched his arm to his chest.
Harry stormed towards the boy, and the rest of the group parted fearfully.
"If I ever catch you doing something so stupid in my classroom again, you will spend the remaining lessons you are supposed to be here scrubbing toilets with your own toothbrush, do you understand?" he said dangerously.
Malfoy muttered something, though Harry did not miss the words 'my father.'
"Would you care to repeat yourself?" Harry prompted.
"My father will hear about this!" Lucius hissed.
A grin tugged at Harry's lips, the familiarity of the threat making him feel rather nostalgic.
"Excellent," he declared. "I will even provide you with the parchment to write to him. I don't suppose your father ever told you what happened when he tried to cross me, did he?"
Lucius shook his head.
"No, I wouldn't have if I was him either. It was rather embarrassing for Abraxus and his father. Feel free to tell him whatever you like. I look forward to his response."
Lucius was taken aback by the rebuttal, evidently having expected Harry to be cowed by his threat.
Harry would not be intimidated by anyone, let alone a snivelling coward like any that carried the Malfoy name.
"That will be all for today. Malfoy, you will be here tomorrow at seven pm sharp to serve a detention with me. I will inform Professor Slughorn. Off you go."
The students exited the classroom, talking amongst themselves about the lesson they'd had, most rather pleased with the discipling of Lucius Malfoy.
When they were gone, Harry readied himself for his next class, one that would be quite different from the one he had just taught.
He looked on as the first year Gryffindor and Slytherin students entered, his gaze focusing for a brief second on the redhead he had been eager to meet.
She was staring at him too, so Harry turned towards another familiar face, that of a youthful Severus Snape.
His memories of the man were not good, but he had taught Harry what he knew of occlumency, and for that, he would always be grateful.
It had taken years after for Harry to realise just how well Snape had taught him, but that didn't mean he had ever forgiven the potions master for how he had treated him over the years he had known him.
"Welcome to your first Defence Against the Dark Arts class," Harry began. "For those of you that do not know, my name is Professor Evans, not to be confused with your head of house who is my long-suffering wife."
The students laughed, and Harry offered them a smile.
"Today, I will be introducing you to the subject and what you can expect to learn over the coming year. Before I do that, are there any questions?"
Lily raised her hand, and Harry nodded for her to speak.
"Could you teach us about the war?" she asked. "I read the book that Mr Sokolov wrote, but there are other things I'd like to know."
Harry released a deep breath but was cut off before he could reply.
"He doesn't talk about the war," James explained.
Harry held up a hand.
"Mr Potter is right, but I would rather address any questions you have now so that we can continue with our work uninterrupted throughout the year," he replied to the girl. "There are many things that I will not discuss because you are too young, but feel free to ask what you will."
"How did you kill the dragon?" Sirius questioned. "The book doesn't answer that."
"The dragon was a mixture of my ability to fly and a little luck," Harry answered honestly. "It was a foolish thing to do, but if I didn't, hundreds if not thousands of men could have been killed. Dragons are exceedingly dangerous creatures, and my actions were foolish. I was fortunate that I was successful, but that doesn't mean that I don't regret it. Killing the dragon was an act of mercy, not a demonstration of my prowess."
"What about the duel with Grindelwald?" James piped up. "He said it was the most impressive thing he had ever seen."
"That is his opinion," he pointed out. "I will admit that I am quite the talented wizard, as was Grindelwald and our duel could have ended so differently. I was simply the better man that day. Anything else?"
Harry sighed internally as almost every hand went up, but he would rather handle this now and put it to rest so that there were no distractions whilst he was trying to teach.
He had secured the loyalty of dozens of witches and wizards, those who did not wish to see Britain continuously decline into an age where being a pureblood meant nothing.
Lord Voldemort's own motivations were far removed from theirs, but that didn't mean he would cease to use their insecurity for his own gain.
It had been years in the making, but now, he was ready to begin his campaign of terror in wizarding Britain.
It was time for a new age, one where the rightful heir of Slytherin would stand above all others.
Tonight, he would dip his toes into the cesspool that was magical Britain and announce his arrival.
A blanket of fear would soon be laid over the country, and those below it would soon tremble at the mere mention of his name.
"You know what to do," he murmured to Rosier.
The man nodded and gestured for the other cloaked figures to follow his lead.
Lord Voldemort remained in the shadows of Diagon Alley as the spells began to fly and shops were put to the flame.
Those that dared come to investigate were slaughtered like pigs, and even before the aurors could arrive, his followers had vanished into the night, leaving a scene of chaos in their wake.
"Morsmordre," Lord Voldemort whispered, sending his calling card into the sky.
The green light illuminated the alley below, giving the violent destruction and even more eerie feel.
With his work done, Voldemort laughed to himself before vanishing, leaving the country questioning just what had transpired this evening.
It was shortly after dinner that Bella found herself in the common room reading over her notes from her first charms class. It was one of her favourite subjects, though after today's lesson, Defence Against the Dark Arts would undoubtedly top it.
It was strange to see Harry at Hogwarts, and even more so, his demeanour.
Bella knew him as a quiet, introverted gentleman who was the most brilliant person she had met.
As a professor, however, he was rather stern, severe, and took no nonsense from anyone, as Lucius had discovered for himself.
The boy was holding court with the other sixth and seventh year Slytherins, the group gathered by the fireplace where they were muttering amongst themselves.
Bella had no idea what they were talking about, and she didn't care.
For the most part, she was left alone by her housemates, something she was pleased about.
Andi would speak to her, and those in her year would do so if they were discussing work, but she had little to do with any on a personal level, despite Rudolphus's best attempts to engage her.
The boy was a braggart with an overinflated sense of self-importance.
Many of the other girls catered to his whims, but not Bella.
She was a Black and she would fawn after no one.
Not that she was interested in the likes of Lestrange.
The group by the fireplace fell silent as Professor Slughorn entered, his gaze scanning the room before he walked towards Lucius.
"Did you speak with him, professor?" Malfoy asked expectantly.
"He will not relent," he explained. "Professor Evans expects you tomorrow evening. I'm sorry, Lucius, there is nothing I can do. My advice would be to not antagonise him. Harry Evans is not a man any should cross lightly."
Slughorn held up a hand to silence Lucius.
"I taught your father, and Professor Evans when they were students here," he informed the boy. "There was quite an ugly disagreement between the two and it was your father that ended up worse off. This was before Evans had obtained any status, and though your grandfather attempted to intervene, it was to his own detriment. Pick your fights, Lucius. This is not one you or your father will benefit from."
With that, Slughorn left the common room, and Bella smirked to herself.
It was nice to see Lucius get what had been coming to him since the pompous git had arrived at Hogwarts.
The blonde shot the door Slughorn had exited through a filthy look before his gaze landed on Bella.
"Do you think it is funny, Black?" he snarled.
Bella raised an eyebrow in his direction.
"I suggest you watch your tone, Malfoy. You are speaking to a Black."
"A future Lestrange if the rumours I'm hearing is true," Lucius replied smugly. "You didn't know that your father was being courted by Corvus? He's rather keen to secure you as Rudolphus's wife."
Lestrange leered at Bella who burst into peals of laughter.
"What's so funny?" Rudolphus demanded.
Bella wiped away an invisible tear as she grinned at the boy.
"For one thing, I would murder you in your sleep if I was forced into marrying you," she said sincerely, eliciting a gulp from the boy. "Secondly, your father can kiss my father's arse as much as he wants, he has no say on who I will be marrying. That responsibility falls to my godfather who is the only one who can approve any potential suitor."
"She's lying," Lucius snorted.
"Am I?" Bella questioned. "Shall we go and ask Harry now? I'm sure he will have no issue confirming it."
Lucius's nostrils flared irritably before he turned away, leaving a dumbstruck Rudolphus staring at Bella longingly.
With a sigh, she took her leave of the dungeons and headed towards Harry's office.
Knocking on the door, she was surprised to find him still here, but as he bade her to enter, she found him seated behind his desk looking over a sheet of parchment.
Harry shook his head as he scratched some thick lines through some of the writing.
"The fourth years will need some help," he sighed as he placed his quill down. "What can I do for you, Bella?"
"You wouldn't agree to me being married to Rudolphus, would you?"
Harry frowned confusedly.
"Why do you ask?"
Bella shrugged worriedly.
"Apparently, Corvus Lestrange is angling to sign a contract with my father for us to be married."
Harry's expression darkened as he stood.
Gently, he placed his hands on Bella's shoulders.
"You will marry someone of your choice," he said firmly. "It seems as though I need to remind your father of our own agreement."
There weren't many people who could frighten Cygnus Black, but Harry Evans was one of them.
"Thank you," she said gratefully, wrapping her arms around him.
Harry squeezed her tightly before releasing her.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you I would be here," he sighed. "I wanted to keep it quiet as long as I could."
Bella waved off the apology.
Harry didn't need to explain anything to her.
"What will you make Lucius do for his detention?" she asked curiously.
"I'm a man of my word," Harry replied. "The idiot will be scrubbing toilets, but he won't be doing it alone. I've already bribed Peeves into making it a miserable experience for him."
Bella covered her mouth as she giggled.
Lucius deserved everything he got.
Before she could voice her approval, however, their conversation was intruded upon by the arrival of a patronus, a rattlesnake that hissed so Bella couldn't understand.
Whatever was said removed any vestige of humour that remained, and Harry's expression darkened considerably.
"Go back to your common room, Bella," Harry instructed firmly.
"What's happened?" Bella asked worriedly.
"Nothing I can't handle," he assured her, shepherding her out of his office.
Bellatrix watched as Harry vanished in a cloud of dark smoke before her very eyes and shot down the corridor.
She had never seen anything like it, and for several moments after, she stood rooted to the spot, her mouth agape at the magic she had just witnessed.
Jack could not believe what he was seeing. Over the years as an auror, he had attended some rather grim scenes and he was no stranger to coming across dead bodies, but never in Diagon Alley.
The flickering flames of the still-burning buildings lit the streets in an ominous glow, but it was the enormous symbol above that gave it a truly sinister feel.
A skull with a snake protruding from its mouth hung prominently over Gringotts, eliciting a feeling of foreboding within Jack and the other aurors who had arrived.
"I think you should send for your dad," Reg suggested. "His presence will bring comfort at least."
Jack nodded and sent off his patronus before attempting to dampen the flames on the nearby apothecary.
This was no normal fire he was tackling, but a magical one of which he had never come across.
Just as he was beginning to grow frustrated, a powerful gust of wind blew down the length of the alley, snuffing all the fires at once.
It was relief that filled Jack as he spotted his father walking towards him, though he took little comfort in the unfamiliar expression of the man whose gaze swept across the carnage that had been left behind.
His father was furious, more so than Jack had ever seen.
"How many dead?" he asked simply.
"Nine," Jack answered.
His father nodded before pointing his wand towards the symbol above.
Without a word, a white light shot from the tip and the resulting explosion made the entire street tremble from the force.
Green sparks rained down around the aurors, dissipating as they hit the floor.
"What is it, dad?" Jack asked concernedly.
"Only the beginning," he murmured in response, setting to work by clearing away some nearby debris.
He said nothing else on the matter, but Jack could feel the rage pouring off the man and he could only wonder just what his father was referring to.