Lessons in Life
As promised, here is the next instalment for you guys here.
Do follow, favourite, and review, and for those interested, chapter 14 is available on my own website, and is accessible to all.
"You were up early, Evans," Charlus commented as Harry exited the shower.
"I don't sleep much," he replied.
Not since he could remember had he slept peacefully, the woes of his life endless and burdening him, but he slept even less so now. Ever since the Flamels had done what they had with the ritual, slumber eluded him.
Still, as irksome as it was to be up before the sun, he found he was not sluggish, nor deprived.
If truth be told, he felt invigorated when he woke, eager to set to work on whatever was occupying his mind, and equally restless if he had nothing to focus on.
"Have you spoke to the healer?" Charlus asked. "She might be able to give you something."
Harry shook his head.
"I just don't need much."
"Tell that to Prewett," he replied, jerking a thumb in the direction of the sleeping boy Harry had yet to meet. "He sleeps as much as he can and is always late. We gave up waiting for him to come to breakfast years ago."
"Speaking of which," Tiberius interjected with a yawn, "shouldn't we be heading to the hall."
"I have to wait for Minerva," Harry explained. "I said I'll meet her at seven."
"She'll be in the common room already," Charlus chuckled. "Minnie is probably the only person that you're up before."
"I just wish she wasn't so quick with her wand in the morning," Tiberius grumbled.
"I think the problem is that you're too quick with your gob," Charlus rebuked. "How is it that your mouth is awake and your brain still half a sleep?"
Tiberius shrugged and offered the other boy a grin.
"Call it a talent, if you will."
"More like a bloody hazard," Charlus muttered. "Come on, we don't want to make Poppy wait much longer before she gets to curse you for the first time this year."
"Now that would be a shame," Tiberius said brightly, heading towards the door.
"Come on, Harry," Charlus urged, "you'll miss it if not."
Harry followed and the two came upon Tiberius rolling around on the floor trying to extricate a small octopus that had attached itself to his mouth.
"I told you," Charlus sighed as he removed the creature with a wave of his wand. "What did do this time?" he asked Poppy.
"Nothing," the girl replied. "I just pre-empted his stupidity and acted before he could."
"With an octopus?"
"Seemed appropriate," Poppy returned.
Charlus simply shook his head.
"You alright there, Ogden?"
"Well, I won't pretend that wasn't a surprise," he answered breathily. "I was only going to tell her I liked her hair."
"Given your previous statements, I can't say I blame her," Charlus chuckled, helping the boy back to his feet. "Don't worry, Harry, this is almost a daily thing."
"You get used to it," Minerva broke in. "I suppose you were up at the crack of dawn, gallivanting around the castle?"
"I don't gallivant," Harry defended.
"No, but you still should be sleeping," Minerva said pointedly. "You don't need me to tuck you in and make sure you stay in bed, do you?"
"Ohhhh," Tiberius whooped joyously.
"Give it a rest, Ogden," Poppy huffed. "Even you can't believe Minnie meant it in whatever twisted way you think."
"But she made it sound…"
"Don't finish that sentence," Minerva warned.
Tiberius, much to Harry's surprise, did as he was told.
"What?" the boy asked. "Poppy is bad enough, but at least she doesn't try to turn my ears into crabs or something like that."
"You did that?"
Minerva nodded unapologetically.
"He deserved it."
"Anyway," Charlus broke in. "Forgetting Tiberius' penchant for landing himself in trouble with just about everyone he speaks to, we should get going. Dumbledore will be waiting with the timetables."
When none protested, he led them from the common room, with around a dozen first years following so they would not get lost on their way.
"So, you're still not sleeping any better?" Minerva asked.
Harry shook his head.
"I'm used to it now," he returned with a shrug.
Minerva nodded her understanding.
He had not spoken of the ritual to her, what had been plaguing him or the changes he felt within himself since. As far as Harry was concerned, she already knew too much.
It wasn't that he didn't trust her, more that he did not wish for her to be burdened with more than she already was. She was already all but sworn to secrecy regarding his trip through time.
It wouldn't be fair to add anything else to that.
Only the early risers had found their way to the Great Hall at this hour, and Harry took a seat at the Gryffindor table next to Minerva and helped himself to a very generous platter of eggs and bacon.
"Hungry, Evans?" Augusta asked.
The pointed look she gave reminded him very much of the stern witch with the odd vulture hat he had met in St Mungo's. Nonetheless, he shrugged as he added more food to his plate.
"Yes," he answered simply.
He was famished from his efforts this morning, his appetite seemingly only having increased over the past weeks.
Perhaps it was he knew he would not have to endure the starvation he had at the Dursley's or the additional strain he was putting his body and magic under, he couldn't be sure, but he was eating more than he ever had.
"Bloody hell, Evans, save some for us," Ogden teased.
"There's no way he will eat it all," Poppy predicted.
Minerva shook her head amusedly.
She had witnessed just how much Harry could cram into his small frame during mealtimes. His plate would be empty soon enough.
"Where does it go?" Charlus asked curiously, as Harry did indeed polish off his meal without struggle.
Harry shrugged in response and the Potter heir chuckled.
"Good show," he commented, raising his goblet of orange juice. "Ogden didn't eat half as much as you and still made double the mess."
"Oi!" Tiberius protested.
Unfortunately, the boy had a mouthful of toast and Poppy ended up with a considerable number of crumbs on the front of her robes.
"Clean it up," she demanded.
With an apologetic look, Tiberius did so.
"Sorry, Poppy," he offered.
The girl huffed and took pity on him, though she missed the grin and wink he offered to Charlus when she turned away.
"Dumbledore's coming," Augusta informed them.
The transfiguration Professor was beaming as he approached, clutching a stack of parchment in his right hand.
"Poppy, Madame Colette is keen for you to begin this evening in the Hospital Wing, if you still wish to pursue being a healer?" he said to the girl who nodded eagerly. "Excellent. She will be pleased to see you."
Poppy accepted a sheet of parchment from the man before Dumbledore turned his attention to the rest of the group.
"Mr Potter, can I assume that I will be seeing you this evening for the transfiguration club?"
"You will, Professor," Charlus replied.
Dumbledore offered him a smile along with his timetable.
"I would kindly ask that you assist Mr Evans during his first days here. You have the same timetable."
"Of course," Charlus readily agreed, nodding towards Harry.
"And yourself, Mr Evans, I would urge you to join us this evening. There are not many with your natural grasp of the art."
"He'll be there," Minerva answered for him before Harry could speak.
"Bloody hell, Evans, you sounded just like McGonagall then," Tiberius mocked.
"And yourself, Mr Ogden," Dumbledore intervened before Minerva could offer a chastisement. "Do try to exercise some control over your tongue."
Tiberius seemed to ponder a response before shaking his head.
"I don't think that is possible, professor."
Dumbledore chuckled as he handed the group the rest of their timetables.
"Then we must hope that Poppy is as forgiving as she is as quick with her wand. Enjoy your first day."
With that, he took his leave and approached the clustered group of nervous first years.
"What's first?" Tiberius asked.
"Charms with Ashmont," Augusta answered.
"And then potions," Harry grumbled, eliciting a groan from Charlus.
"I thought you were dropping potions?" Poppy said confusedly.
"No chance of that. When I brought it up with my parents, my father made it very clear that I will be continuing with it."
"William's a ball-breaker," Tiberius replied amusedly.
"Anyway, we should go to Charms before Ashmont starts handing out detentions."
Harry followed the rest of the group from the hall where they headed towards the charms corridor.
"You don't like potions either then?" Charlus asked him.
Harry shook his head.
"I'm not exactly good at it," he answered. "It's useful to know, but I can't think of anything worse than spending my days lurking in a dungeon and smelling of guts."
Charlus laughed as he nodded his agreement.
"I once blew up three cauldrons in one class. The poor girl behind me lost all her hair."
"That was only last year, Charlus," Augusta pointed out.
The Potter heir grimaced.
"It's true," he sighed. "I'm terrible at potions."
"Maybe we can blow up some cauldrons together then," Harry offered.
"That could work," Charlus agreed. "Maybe between us we can do something right, but why are you taking potions? Couldn't you just drop it?"
Harry had considered it but knowing how useful they could be for him in the future had changed his mind. Also, Perenelle had been so happy with his O in the subject, he couldn't bring himself to disappoint her.
"If I did that, a certain lady would be upset with me."
"Minerva?" Charlus asked confusedly.
"What? No," Harry denied.
"My aunt," Harry answered uncertainly, having been put on the spot.
"Oh, your parents, I forgot," Charlus said apologetically. "What were they like?"
Harry shrugged, doing his best to ignore the fact that he was having this conversation with what was likely his grandfather. The resemblance to James Potter truly was unmissable.
"They were killed when I was one. I don't really remember anything about them."
Charlus offered him a look of sympathy.
"Sorry Evans," he replied sincerely before a frown marred his features. "Killed?"
"By a dark wizard."
"Talk about putting your foot in it Charlus," the Potter mumbled under his breath.
"It's fine," Harry assured him as they entered the classroom.
It looked very much the same as it had when Harry had attended lessons with Flitwick, though the podium was bereft of the stack of books the diminutive man stood upon to see.
"Augusta!" a boy garbed in the yellow-striped robes of Hufflepuff called.
"Hello Frank," Augusta greeted the boy with a warm smile.
One look at the boy told him all Harry needed to know about who he was. If any believed that he and Charlus were alike, they would think that Neville and Francis were twins.
"You must be Evans," the Hufflepuff greeted him. "I'm Francis Longbottom, but you can call me Frank."
"Nice to meet you, Frank," Harry replied, accepting the offered hand.
"Alright, sit down you lot," a loud voice cut across the room.
The man that had entered was old, his long, grey hair thinning, and brown eyes the only thing that appeared to have much life left in them. It seemed as though it would take little more than a gentle breeze to topple him.
"Today we will begin our work on advanced animation," he continued. "This is a useful skill for all manner of careers, so I would suggest you put the effort in. Now, pay attention to see what can be achieved when you master this."
He proceeded to demonstrate how the magic could be applied by sending books flying around the room as though they were birds, sending chairs cartwheeling across the floor, but it wasn't until he animated a suit of armour in the corner of the room that Harry's interest was piqued.
He watched as it clanked towards an empty table before raising an enormous axe above its head and cleaving it in two.
"As you can see, the magic can be used for the inanest of things, up to and including for defensive measures," Professor Ashmont explained. "Were you so inclined, you could even enchant and animate your front door to decapitate any trespassers. Of course, you would have to answer to the aurors, but you'd be alive to do so at least."
"Have you done that, Professor?" a Hufflepuff boy asked nervously.
"I can assure you Wilkin, if any was foolish enough to attempt to break into my home, a front door that can decapitate you would be the least of their concerns."
Harry nodded appreciatively, eliciting an amused shake of the head from Minerva.
"Alright, partner up and see how creative you can be," Ashmont instructed. "Nothing that will cause harm to any in the room, however. I don't need my bell rung by Colette on the first day back. Use whatever you can find around the room."
"What do you think Evans?" Charlus asked. "Anything you see you could work with?"
Harry gazed around the room. For a moment, his eyes settled on the suit of armour, but he knew he would not be able to resist the temptation to replicate what Ashmont had done. Charlus noticed this and chuckled.
"Believe me, nothing would be more fun, but Minnie would have my hide. I might be the prefect, but she keeps me in line."
Harry did not find that hard to believe and found himself wondering why the girl had not been given the position.
"She was offered it," Charlus explained, seemingly having read his thoughts, "but she declined saying that patrols would interfere with her studies and Quidditch."
"Understandable," Harry commented, remembering how even Hermione had bemoaned the additional responsibility the badge had given her and cut into her revision during fifth year. "What about these?" Harry asked, summoning a pair of boots he had spotted near one of the cupboards.
Charlus nodded before waving his wand and the boots began dancing across the top of their desk.
"Good Potter," Ashmont called. "Take five points for Gryffindor. You, Evans, what can you do?"
Harry pondered the boots for a moment before nodding.
The set of books Sirius and Remus had gifted him mentioned animation for defence and how being creative with it could be an excellent weapon. He hadn't given it much thought but felt somewhat familiar with the magic.
With that in mind, he waved his wand, transfiguring the soles so that they were adorned with spikes and sent the boots sprinting. They kicked up sparks from the stone floor before they were propelled into the air and embedded themselves into the door with a dull thud.
"Well, that's another use for them," Charlus commented. "Bloody hell, Evans, nicely done."
Ashmont nodded his agreement.
"Excellent control, Evans, and a rather inventive use for the spell. Take ten points for Gryffindor," he praised before turning his attention to a pair of Hufflepuffs.
Harry summoned the boots from the door and Charlus inspected them, nodding appreciatively.
"That's some fine transfiguration," he mumbled. "Those spikes are deadly. Maybe Malfoy will think twice when he hears about this."
"Malfoy?" Harry asked.
Charlus released a deep sigh.
"I met with Arcturus Black last night to discuss what happened. He and I have an agreement that we will keep the peace between the houses. Abraxus almost broke that last night, and Black thinks he will try again."
"Idiot," Harry muttered.
Charlus nodded his agreement.
"But a dangerous one," he warned. "He is a coward but carries a lot of influence with the snakes. Arcturus is worried they will no longer listen to him, and about you."
"You're an unknown," Charlus pointed out. "You have appeared from nowhere claiming to be a half-blood. No one knows what family you come from. Arcturus seems to think you could be related to him or me. Well, you do look like us both in some ways," he added with a frown.
"Aren't all purebloods related in some way?"
"We are," Charlus acknowledged, "but we don't really resemble one another. Do I look like Ogden at all?"
Harry shook his head.
"Believe it or not, we are cousins in some way or other. You're either closely related to us, or it is a coincidence. It's not really my business and I won't pry, but people will want to know who your wizarding relatives are. Given that your name is Evans, I'm guessing your mother?"
Harry felt distinctly uncomfortable with how accurate Charlus was, though he kept a straight face despite the inner turmoil he felt.
"No, my father was the pureblood. My mother was a muggleborn and I took her name."
Harry wasn't going to give away his secrets, but he wasn't going to lie either. To do so, felt as though he would be disrespecting the heritage of James and Lily Potter.
"Like I said, I won't pry," Charlus assured him. "I know you're not a Potter. My parents are the only ones left and I am an only child. It has been that way for a few generations now. We are likely related through a bloodline somewhere. Maybe one day you will trust me enough to share your heritage. You're an interesting one, Evans."
Harry could only nod non-committedly.
That was not a promise he could keep.
"At least I can put Blacks mind to rest," Charlus chuckled. "You may not be a Potter, but there is every chance you're related to him. They have their fair share of wayward family members who could have sired you."
"I'm not a Black," Harry replied. "My father was related to them, but not one by name."
"Then Arcturus will be relieved to hear it. No offense, Evans, but being a half-blood Black would cause you more problems than you could imagine. Old Orion would do all he could to be rid of you."
"Sounds like a nice bloke."
"Wonderful," Charlus agreed sarcastically. "Anyway, let me try what you did with these," he added, gesturing to the boots.
With a look of concentration and a wave of his wand, they were sprinting across the room, only in the opposite direction.
Charlus looked horrified as the left boot kicked Tiberius in the backside, sending him tumbling over his desk with a squeal.
"What the hell happened?" Charlus asked over the peals of laughter.
"You must have mixed up your intent of the spell," Harry snorted. "You must have wanted to kick Tiberius."
"I always want to kick him, but not then."
Harry could only shrug as he fought the urge to laugh once more as Ogden pushed himself to his feet, a look of disbelief adorning his features.
"Oi, what was that for?" he asked, rubbing his posterior.
"Sorry, Ogden," Charlus offered sheepishly.
The boy laughed the event off.
"Don't worry, if I need it, I'm sure Poppy will give me a look over later."
"I will not!" the girl huffed.
"Alright, that's enough of that," Ashmont interjected. "Besides, that is all we have time for today. For your homework, I want a list of five creative ways that advanced animation charms can be used, and that is due next week. Off you go."
Not having needed anything other than his wand, Harry threw his bag over his shoulder and left the room with the rest of the students.
"So, how does Hogwarts measure up to the rest of your education?" Charlus asked.
Charms had certainly been different with Ashmont than it had with Flitwick, both Professors having a different approach to teaching. Ashmont seemed to be someone who wished for students to learn through trial and error, and Flitwick by having them understand the theory first.
Harry had not experienced enough of the former to make a judgement, but his first lesson had gone well enough.
"Different," he answered simply.
"Ashmont isn't bad if you stay on his good side. He knows his subject well enough. Professor Nott is good with defence. You'll learn a lot from her."
"Professor Nott?" Harry asked.
The name was familiar to him, and the memories associated with it were not pleasant. Nott had been one of the Death Eaters in graveyard the night Voldemort had risen, and Theo, his son, had been in Harry's year.
"She is Lord Nott's sister," Charlus explained. "The family are a bit odd, but they know their stuff."
Harry said nothing.
Odd was not a word he would use to describe what he knew of them. Evil, perhaps, and even fanatical, but maybe they were different here.
He would have to see that for himself.
Armando leaned forward in his chair as the last of the staff entered and took their seats in his office. With so many students to oversee and his own duties throughout the day to be fulfilled, he relied on the Professors to keep him abreast of any concerns that needed raising, and to simply report back to him regularly.
He liked to hold a meeting on the first day of term when lessons had concluded. If any concerns, even minor ones were present, they would be fresh in the mind of those responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their charges.
"As always, I am grateful for your efforts," he began. "I know that the first day after such a long absence can be trying with all the excitement of returning back to school. As we know, things will settle after the first week, but is there anything that is pressing at present?"
"Nothing pressing," Ashmont answered. "The usual homesickness from the first years, but as you said, they will settle."
Armando nodded gratefully.
Lewin Ashmont was an excellent educator and efficient Head of Ravenclaw house. He was a blunt man, but none could deny his suitability for the roles he filled within the castle.
"The only concern thus far," Slughorn broke in, "is the somewhat unpleasant situation caused by Malfoy last night with Evans. I know that Black has spoken with him, as have I, but his arrogance shines through. I can see it becoming an issue which will only lead to the same problems we had before the previous year."
That, he did not wish to see a repeat of. The mood in the castle had been tense for months until Black and Potter had resolved it amongst themselves.
"Monitor the boy, Horace," Armando urged. "If he persists, then I will speak with him myself, for all the good it will do."
A snort caught the headmaster's attention, and he turned to face Rosalina Nott.
At first, he had been sceptical about appointing the woman to the Defence position, but she had proven that she was indeed a very competent practitioner in the art.
"Malfoy won't listen," she stated simply. "His ego is that of one who has achieved many great things. He will continue to cause problems with Evans, and I say let him learn the hard way."
"The hard way?" Armando enquired.
"I had Evans in my second lesson today, and his defence work is exemplary for one his age," she explained. "His reflexes are exceptional, his wand work fluid, and his ability to remain calm when under pressure is something that cannot be taught. He is beyond his years. Through trial or through natural ability, his potential is undeniable."
"And you learned all that of him from a single lesson?" Horace asked sceptically.
"I did, Slughorn," she confirmed. "My family have produced some of the best duellist in the last three centuries, so I know what I am looking for. Evans is a natural. His charms work is excellent, as is his transfiguration, but it is those things that cannot be taught that matter, and he has them all in abundance."
"He does," Armando agreed quietly. "I, along with Albus, worked closely with Mr Evans over the summer and he is an exceptional young man. I'd like you to push him, Rosalina, as much as you can. He will be grateful for it."
"Push him towards what?" the woman asked with a frown.
"To fulfil his potential. He will thrive with the challenge as much as I am sure he will surprise and frustrate you with what he can do. Already, he can produce a corporeal patronus, and has been able to since he was thirteen. That is the calibre of wizard we are working with."
"Now that is interesting," Rosalina replied interestedly, more able to speak through her surprise than the rest of her colleagues.
"A corporeal patronus?" Horace asked, "At thirteen?"
He did not know what Harry had planned for the future, but he would see the boy ready to face it. The best thing he could do for him now was ensured that he was pushed sufficiently, and to do that, he would need his staff to do so.
"That is rather astounding," Horace acknowledged, "but where did he learn such magic? Better yet, where was he educated?"
"I do not know," Armando answered. "He is here because of a bereavement. He lost his parents as a babe, and recently his godfather in rather unpleasant circumstances. He is here now, and that is all that matters. Our job is to ensure he gets the best education available, not to pry into his affairs."
Horace nodded reluctantly.
"Is there anything else that need to be brought to my attention other than Abraxus Malfoy?"
When none, spoke, Armando dismissed them, but Rosalina remained behind.
"If I am to work with him, I need to know him, what he can and can't do and what makes him tick," she said bluntly.
"Then you must earn that," Armando returned. "There is nothing I can tell you that you won't learn from him yourself."
The woman smirked and nodded her understanding.
"I will watch him for the next few weeks and see if he is worth my time. If he proves to be, then I will test him myself. That will determine what I decide next. That is non-negotiable, headmaster."
Rosalina was a prickly woman, but a professional to the core, and her terms did not unsettle him in the slightest.
"I have no doubt that he will prove his worth to you. So long as no harm comes to him, I am happy for you to proceed how you see fit."
"I will see about that," she replied before taking her leave of the room.
With the staff gone, Armando turned his attention back to his work, pleased that the school seemed to be resuming as it had been left before the summer break, but slightly concerned with the impending conflict between Malfoy and Harry.
The former would goad the latter, who in turn would not give an inch.
The situation could become ugly, but perhaps Rosalina was right.
Maybe he should allow the Malfoy to be put in his place if the situation escalated?
He shook his head.
No, he would do all he could to prevent it, but with Abraxus, it was almost inevitable. The boy was at an age where he would listen to none, where he believed himself foolishly superior.
Having such a view of himself would eventually end badly, and Armando hoped he learned of the folly before a harsh lesson was forced upon him.
"This will be fun," Minerva assured him excitedly as she led Harry towards the transfiguration classroom by the hand, the two being followed by an amused Charlus Potter.
"You've got no chance of escape, Evans," he chuckled. "When Minnie has an idea in her head, it's going to happen."
"I wasn't trying to escape," Harry denied. "I just didn't feel the need to sprint to get there."
"Well, if we moved at your pace, we would be late," Minerva returned irritably.
Harry shook his head at the girl.
If there was anything he had learned about Minerva since meeting her, it was that she loved transfiguration and was punctual with anything pertaining to it.
The transfiguration club, evidently, was no exception, and the trio of Gryffindors were the first to arrive.
"Come, take a seat," Dumbledore invited.
The desks that usually sat in rows had been stacked neatly on one side of the room and a circle of chairs had formed instead.
"We will give the others time to arrive before we begin," Dumbledore explained, taking a seat for himself. "I'm glad to see you chose to attend, Harry. I think this could be very beneficial to you."
"I don't think I could have given it a miss even if I wanted to, Professor," Harry replied, shooting Minerva a teasing look.
The girl merely raised an eyebrow as Dumbledore chuckled.
"Minerva can be quite insistent," he commented with a smile," but with good reason in this instance. I was not surprised by your OWL result but pleased. Your hard work paid off."
"Thank you," Harry returned uncertainly.
He wasn't sure how common getting an O in transfiguration was, but it seemed to be quite the achievement.
"Ah, I believe the others are arriving now," Dumbledore announced, breaking into his thoughts.
A mixture of students from first through seventh year entered the room and took their seats, and Dumbledore even had to add another few to accommodate them all.
Despite the difficulties the branch of magic presented, the club proved to be popular, and Harry found himself wondering if it had existed where he had come from.
He didn't know.
He remembered there being a Gobstones club, and even a History of Magic one, but he couldn't think of any others off the top of his head, except the DA.
He smiled at the memories of the clandestine meetings he'd held in the room of requirement with Ron, Hermione, and the others that had attended.
Those days seemed so far away now, and they were. What was sobering was that even if he were to live to see the 1990s, he would not be a student, and would likely never see his friends again.
"Thank you all for coming," Dumbledore greeted the group warmly. "For those of you that have attended previously, you will know the way the club is run, but for all of you that find themselves here for the first time, I will give a brief explanation. Are there any questions before I begin?"
When none were forthcoming, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair.
"The idea of the transfiguration club is to supplement your regular teaching in the subject. Here, you can practice any spells you have struggled with, or be pushed to develop your skills further where time does not allow in the classroom. If you are one of those finding difficulty in completing a spell, then this is where you can practice, and if you are one that is thriving, this is where you can come to be challenged. It is truly that simple," he explained. "I am at your disposal, but what I like to see is camaraderie. Help those that you can, and you in turn will receive the same when needed. Anything you need to practice can be found within this room. I only ask that you do not attempt things that you are not ready for. Speak with me if you are uncertain. I would much rather have a frank discussion with you where we can find a path to achieving your goals."
"What if we do not have any goals, Professor?" a younger Ravenclaw student asked.
"Then I will be happy to find you one," Dumbledore replied with a smile. "Feel free to begin when you are ready. I am available to answer questions and offer guidance where needed."
The students that were familiar with how the club was run immediately set to work, and Harry found himself at a loss.
He had no idea what he needed to or wished to work on, though that was seemingly solved when Charlus beckoned for him to follow.
"There's something I've been trying to do since the beginning of summer," he explained as he led Harry to a quiet corner of the room where there was an assortment of items placed on a table.
"What is it?" Harry asked curiously as Charlus began arranging the different things into a circle.
"Well, I've been working on multiple transfigurations. Changing different items into different things."
"At the same time?"
"it's not easy, but it can be done. I've managed to change three at once, but my dad can do eight."
Harry whistled appreciatively.
"He must be good at transfiguration."
"He is," Charlus said proudly. "He makes it all look easy. I think being a Potter and being good at transfiguration is just something that goes hand in hand with the other. It's a family trait of sorts."
Harry could understand why he would believe that. According to Sirius and Remus, his father had been exceedingly gifted in the art.
"So, how does it work?" he questioned.
"I don't know," Charlus huffed. "I asked my dad to help me, but he wouldn't. He just said that it will come to me in my own time and that I shouldn't force it."
"Just like non-verbal magic," Harry mused aloud, the kernel of advice he had received from Professor Dippet appearing to be apt to Charlus's own endeavour.
"Exactly," the other boy agreed. "It's frustrating though. I can't seem to replicate the one success I had."
"How did you make that work the one time it did?"
"The frustrating thing is that I don't remember," he huffed. "It's like it was there for one moment, and then vanished, and I've not been able to do it again since."
"You must be able to remember something," Harry encouraged.
Charlus frowned for a moment.
"I remember the spell feeling different to others. Instead of a short burst of magic, it felt longer. I wasn't really focusing on it," he admitted.
Harry frowned thoughtfully.
"When your dad does it, do they all change together, or one after the other?"
"I don't know," Charlus answered. "It happened so quickly, and I was too caught up in surprise."
Harry nodded as he drew his wand, an idea forming.
"Focusing on eight different things simultaneously can't be possible," he muttered, waving his wand as he focused on the four items Charlus had placed on the table.
One after the other, in quick succession, he transfigured them, a goblet into a mouse, a quill into a spike, a candle into a wooden swan, and a button into a beetle.
"Did it look something like that?" he asked when his work was done.
"It did, but quicker," Charlus said excitedly, inspecting the transfigurations.
With another wave of his wand, Harry changed the items back, managing to do so a little faster than before.
"How are you doing that?" Charlus asked.
"One after the other," Harry confirmed. "I don't doubt your dad is really good at transfiguration but changing eight things at once is ludicrous. I don't think even Dumbledore can do that."
"Oh," Charlus said disappointedly, as the duo was interrupted by a polite clapping courtesy of the transfiguration professor.
"Do not be disheartened, Charlus," he urged. "I believe your father wanted you to come to the same conclusion that Mr Evans has. Tell me, if you would have seen any other accomplish the feat, would you not have questioned it more so?"
Charlus frowned but nodded.
"I suppose I would," he admitted.
"Then the only mistake you made was not thinking about a problem enough," Dumbledore said comfortingly. "It presents the same problem as overthinking the little conundrums that life presents to us, however, take five points for Gryffindor. Simultaneously transfiguring three items into different things is a remarkable achievement."
"Thank you, Professor," Charlus replied.
"And five points to you, Mr Evans, for concluding just how Lord Potter completed the transfiguration, and for assisting Charlus," he offered. "You would also be correct in your assumption that I cannot complete eight transfigurations at once. I have managed four, but nothing greater."
With a wink, Dumbledore left to assist some other students and Charlus simply shook his head.
"Well, I suppose it's on to the next thing," he sighed. "I can't believe my dad did that to me."
"Are you going to tell him you know how he did it?" Harry asked.
"No, I'm going to milk it for all I can. I'll teach the git for trying to trick me."
From what little he knew of his father, that was the exact reaction James would have had, and it was quickly becoming clear where he had inherited his mischievous streak.
Charlus may take things a little more seriously, but at heart, he too was quite the prankster. The incident with Ogden earlier in the day had shown Harry that.
"So, what would you like to work on next?"
Charlus was startled by the question, seemingly having been lost in his own thoughts.
Harry followed the other boys' gaze, a knowing grin tugging at his lips.
Charlus had composed himself in the meantime and had turned his attention back to the items on the table.
"I think I'll try doing three at once again," he announced. "If Dumbledore can manage four, three should be possible to do consistently."
Harry nodded and watched him set to work, he too attempting the task with mixed success.
"Who's the girl?" he asked quietly.
"What girl?" Charlus asked.
"The one you were then staring at. You know, dark hair, high cheekbones, and Slytherin robes."
Charlus shushed him harshly, his cheeks reddening.
"Don't say that too loudly," he hissed, continuing with his efforts to look busy.
"Who is she then?"
Charlus deflated, his eyes scanning the room to ensure none were watching them or listening in.
"She is Dorea Black," he mumbled, "sister to Arcturus."
"Ah," Harry deadpanned, "and you like her."
Charlus chuckled humourlessly.
"Don't be daft, Evans. Even if Merlin himself were to like her, she would be out of bounds. Arcturus is very protective of his little sister, as are the rest of them."
Harry shook his head.
"So, you're a coward," he teased.
Charlus read the tone and did not take the bait, but his eyes narrowed.
"It would be much more complicated than that," he muttered.
The Potter heir released a deep sigh.
"Our families aren't at odds, but our values don't exactly align well," he explained. "Not once in history has there been a union between a Potter and a Black. I doubt that will change any time soon."
"So, you will just ignore it?"
"It's for the best, Evans, and you'd better keep it to yourself. If anything was mentioned, it would cause problems."
"I won't say a word," Harry promised, the memory of Sirius showing him the Black family tapestry during the previous Christmas surfacing.
Charlus Potter had married Dorea Black, and they had a son, his own father.
He didn't know how such a thing had come to pass if what Charlus had said was true, but evidently, they had worked it out.
He smiled at the thought, his eyes drifting to the Slytherin girl once more.
This was his grandmother, and though he could never tell her, seeing her in person meant more to him than he would have ever imagined.
During his lonely nights as a boy that wished for his parents to be alive, not once had he considered family beyond them, but here they were, his grandmother and grandfather, before either had even considered that they may one day be married.
"Come on, Evans, everyone is leaving," Charlus interrupted, shaking Harry by the shoulder.
He didn't know how long he had been lost in thought, but the room had all but emptied except for him, the Potter heir and Minerva who looked at him with concern.
He shook his head to let her know that he was okay, even if he wasn't so sure that he was.
The walk back to the common room was mostly silent, the conversation taking place being done so by Minerva and Charlus whilst Harry allowed his mind to wander once more.
He knew that arriving here would present him with opportunities, for himself, and for the family he had lost before he had even gotten to know them, but he knew this was one thing he should not interfere with.
Against all odds, his grandparents had married, and though he did not know how they had overcome whatever difficulties they had faced, it was not his place to change things for them, nor would he wish to.
Harry could not comprehend the guilt he'd feel were his interference to result in them not being together, so decided he would not mention it again, and he certainly wouldn't do so to anyone else.
Charlus had been clear on that, and Harry would respect his wishes.
Still, there were other things that required his attention, and having made his excuses to turn in earlier than he usually would, he removed the map from his trunk and activated it.
He was not inclined to interfere with whatever had happened between Charlus and Dorea, but the same could not be said for Voldemort.
Although it would be some time before they would cross paths, Harry had no hesitation in taking everything from him that he could, and there was one place he was determined to deprive the boy from when he arrived at Hogwarts in search of who he was.
With his goal in mind, he turned his attention to the second-floor bathroom on the map.
If Harry had his way, Tom Riddle would never enter the Chamber of Secrets, let alone unleash the basilisk within.
He merely needed to bide his time, to learn how the castle operated before he made his move, and if all went well, then perhaps it would be him that would reap the benefits of being the first to enter in almost a thousand years.