(Revision, 12th June, 2016): minor corrections made, text reworded in places for better flow, and Author Notes expanded.
Disclaimer: I am not J K Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter. I am not Leslie Charteris. I do not own The Saint.
Note: Alternate universe crossover warning! This assumes a Harry Potter universe in which The Saint (approximately as depicted in the original Charteris books) existed. I have taken the liberty of imagining The Saint had several sons, one of whom had a daughter who married James Potter (in place of Lily Evans).
Further Note: This is an alternate universe which started to diverge from Harry Potter canon in the first half of the twentieth century, when Simon Templar was prominently at large in the wider world, and any characters with Harry Potter canon counterparts may have personalities and take actions at variance with what they would be and do in canon.
Further Further Note: Since the posting of the previous chapter of this piece and this one, several of the other 'Saint Potter' universe pieces have received updates, and previous chapters of 'Saint Potter' have been revised slightly for expanded pieces of description; in particular, 'Welcome to Hogwarts' for a mention of Professor McGonagall possessing a pair of reading glasses, and 'House of Salazar' for information concerning the personal appearance of Slytherin prefect Enid Featherstone. The opening notes of 'A Saintly Prelude' have also been expanded to acknowledge the fact that differences I had not intended from canon are likely to multiply with the passage of time as J.K. Rowling keeps making public information about the canon universe which is in a different direction to background I had already been developing for the 'Saint Potter' universe. I do not regard it as practical to keep rewriting 'Saint Potter' material to keep it in line with the ongoing releases about the canon universe, and will likely let the majority of any such differences stand.
In which there are some nerves, many introductions, and Professor Slughorn says a number of things, several of the latter in deadly earnest
The pupils of Hufflepuff house, it soon became clear, were being 'quarantined'. Several members of other houses who tried to approach the Hufflepuff tables during breakfast – presumably to get first-hand accounts of what had been going on, were turned away by bedraggled and subdued looking Hufflepuff prefects, or by the absolutely furious head-girl. That didn't stop all communication – the prepared, in the upper years, who had scraps of parchment and quills on them were soon sending 'paper darts' back and forth, which was apparently considered permissible communication – and there were furtive conversations between adjacent tables when someone in authority wasn't looking in that direction, but there were definitely restrictions on what could take place.
Consequently, Neville was unable to personally contact Ernie. With the Ravenclaw tables in between the Slytherin ones and the Hufflepuff ones, there wasn't any opportunity for quick exchanges across the aisles of Neville with Ernie, and of the Ravenclaw first years who had made it to their table thus far, they were much more interested in discussing and investigating what had been going on in Hufflepuff themselves, than in sharing with the Slytherins.
This was where Hermione – or Neville's friend, Stephen Cornfoot – might have come in useful.
"Hasn't anything like this happened before?" Sophie asked Percy; she had been keeping an eye on the high-table, where more and more staff had been arriving and obviously joining in some sort of debate. A grey-haired and short, plump witch with a tear-stained face seemed to have been in the midst of it ever since she arrived there – Sophie guessed that that must be the head of Hufflepuff, from the sympathetic looks and pats on the back that she was getting.
"Not in my time at Hogwarts." Percy said. "There are certainly occasional ugly incidents between houses – especially at Gryffindor quidditch matches, when the Gryffindors get a bit carried away celebrating yet another thrashing that their team has handed out – but nothing in one house on this scale."
Oh well; that likely explained the impression Sophie was currently getting of the teachers not being quite sure how to handle this…
Their breakfast over, Percy led the first years back to the Slytherin quarters, by a yet third route, between the great hall and the Slytherin common room, though they did leave the great hall by the same door as the previous night.
"This," Percy waved a hand as they passed through an arch into one old looking hallway, "is the 'New School' part of the castle and many of your classes will take place here. It's called the 'New School' because at the time that it was built it was new, compared to the parts of the castle which had been in use up until then which had all been built by the founders. This part of the school was designed by the famous Slytherin pupil, Merlin the Lesser – so called so as to distinguish him from King Arthur's wizard, Merlin, of course. Merlin the Lesser, just to confuse things further, is also sometimes called 'The Architect of Hogwarts'. You'll get used to things like that; History of Magic classes are full of witches and wizards with lots of names and titles, many of which don't always make sense. Anyway, Merlin the Lesser also designed the Library Wing, the Grand Entrance and is responsible for the reservoir up in the mountains and the aqueduct connecting it to the school, thereby ensuring that we all have a clean, constant, supply of water. Nobody's quite sure what they did before that. Probably they had students using aguamenti to summon water, or castle elves fetch buckets of water from the lake or something. Not all of Merlin the Lesser's ideas were quite so good. There's a glass and brass dome on the roof above the main staircases over there, which is supposed to open for some reason, but which has apparently never worked since day one, and no you're not imagining things, the staircases between the floors are slowly swivelling counter-clockwise. They usually only turn during daylight hours, and the direction reverses from day to day, apart from on Sundays. Don't worry about the lack of balustrades; there are invisible fences on the staircases and around the upper floors to stop pupils and staff from falling. But anyway, down to the dungeons!"
They turned abruptly to descend a staircase (a straight rather than spiral one this time), before the first years were able to get any further look at the 'New School'.
Through the dungeons – and an appropriate murmur of 'roll out the barrel' to get past a gargoyle to get back into Slytherin quarters – and they were back in the Slytherin common room. Whilst Sophie and the other first years had been away at breakfast several castle house-elves had arrived in the common room, who were visible bringing in extra chairs from somewhere, taking other things away, and generally moving the common room furniture around. Every now and then, one elf would disappear, or arrive with new chairs, with the sound of a quiet 'pop'. Sophie guessed that they must be setting up the room for the meeting that was due to shortly take place. Most of the chairs were being arranged in a semi-circle to face towards a large white sheet, weighted at the bottom to keep it relatively taut, which had been hung from the ceiling just to the left of the fireplace. One elf, distinguishable from her fellows by the somewhat incongruous green helmet covered with webbing which she wore on her head and the short knobbly stick which she was waving around to point at things, seemed to be in charge of operations.
There was no sign now of any older year Slytherin pupils; apparently they were all out at breakfast, or doing something else which kept them out of the way.
"You'll be sitting there in a short while." Percy said to the first years, gesturing to where there was currently a row of small yellow beanbags on the common room floor. "In chairs obviously; those are just markers Colonel Sally and the Professor will have put down."
From the position of the bean-bags, it was very obvious that the first years would have everyone sitting in the semi-circle of chairs able to look clearly at them…
Sophie heard Draco gulp nervously.
They went through the door into the hallway of the first year dormitories, and Percy looked at a wristwatch which he wore.
"Okay, it is now half past eight." Percy announced. "You've got fifteen minutes to get yourselves ready. Go back to your rooms now to wash, comb your hair, or do whatever else you want, but everyone back here by quarter to nine, when Professor Slughorn will be here with Prefect Featherstone to meet you and lead you out."
Someone, Sophie idly noticed, whilst they had been away at breakfast, had removed the parrot.
In the seclusion of her room, Sophie tried to muster herself for the challenge ahead, and to calm the wild thudding of her heart. Last night when she'd been called to be sorted had been relatively easy by comparison with what right now was looming ahead. Then, there had been a mix of excitement and, despite her efforts to sleep at the end of the train ride, a bit of light-headedness, and the whole thing seeming something like a dream to help get her through. This morning… well, everything was now seeming a lot more real. She was at a boarding school, where she would quite probably be for the next seven years, and she was going to have to very shortly stand up in front of her housemates and say who she was, and probably try to do something about the silly stories around about her only without making everyone think that she didn't matter at all. She had a sneaking suspicion that having some sort of Girl-Who-Lived reputation might be at least a bit handy in the year that was to come.
On reflection, she thought that it was what had happened with Hufflepuff already this morning which had really changed how things seemed. That had brought it home: that she was at a real school, where if people did something stupid or silly there were consequences. This was serious. Deadly serious.
She got out a quill and ink and added a couple of lines to the letter that she was writing to her grandfather, then thought better of one of them and struck it out.
She put the quill and ink away.
She fidgeted a lot, and then actually paced.
She checked her watch, and reckoned that she probably had to go out into the hallway again. She gave her hair a quick brush for reassurance, flicked some possible specks of dust (she hoped it wasn't dandruff) off the shoulders of her robes, swallowed, and headed back out into the main first year dormitories hallway.
Everyone else was (of course) already back out here ahead of her – including Prefect Featherstone, although not (yet) Professor Slughorn.
Suliman and Kara were talking about something. Likewise Draco and Justin – Sophie heard Draco saying something about a wall-poster of what sounded like USS Missouri that he would show Justin later. It sounded like they were talking about the Gulf War.
Great White Bear was standing on his own, looking slightly unhappy.
Theodore and Sarah were arguing about something. Theodore was saying something about a 'fantasy kingdom' bit being good, but that Sarah really shouldn't mention her father, even to say that she hated him.
"Hello." Daphne said, to Sophie. "We were starting to wonder where you were?"
"I'm the Girl Who Lived." Sophie said, making a face. "I have to be sure I look right to stand up in front of the whole house. Well: look right for this time."
"Poor Sally-Anne's been trying to cheer Genevieve up, but she's not getting very far." Daphne continued. "Genevieve seems to have turned really glum since last night. Do you suppose she'd mind much if we call her 'Jenny' by the way?"
"I expect she'd mind if she doesn't like her name being shortened like that." Sophie said.
"Well, we can ask her later." Daphne said. "And our Great White Bear is just standing there, looking big and uneasy. I don't suppose that he's used to all of this." Daphne waved an arm around, generally. "Neville tried to have a word with him, but he just resorted to short, one word answers. I think Native American witches and wizards live in tents all the time, which is great for travelling, but it must be a bit strange coming from that to live in a huge stone building like Hogwarts…"
Daphne was trying to talk to Sophie. Daphne was trying to get a conversation going with her. Sophie wondered if that was because Daphne wanted to be friends with Sophie, and if so whether that was because Sophie was The-Girl-Who-Lived, or because she actually liked Sophie?
Did it matter much right now, if Daphne wanted to be friends, why she did?
Sophie had friends – people like Carolyn and Janet and Roderick and Paul – but none of them were here right now, and Sophie was going to have to be friends with at least some of her fellow first years…
"Everyone seems to be a bit nervous." Neville said, joining in the conversation. "I've just been talking to Prefect Featherstone, and she said that four years ago, when she was a first year, there was a vote on who introduced themselves the most poorly, and the boy and girl who came bottom had to wear a dunce's cap around school for the first week of the year. That's a pointy white hat with a big black 'D' on it, and they put sticking charms on it, so it wouldn't come off. But I think she's probably making it up to try and make us nervous. I don't think that Professor Slughorn would allow anything like that. With the hat I mean. At least not for going wrong with an introducing yourself."
"It's probably something of a game for the older pupils." Daphne decided. "See how nervous you can make the first years. Although you don't look nervous, Sophie."
"I certainly feel it." Sophie said, deciding that it was probably safe to disclose this to these two. "In fact…"
And then she was cut short, by Professor Slughorn coming through the door from the common room.
The Professor was dressed in much the same manner as the previous night, although his waistcoat and trousers were a slightly more sombre tone of plum, and he had a large black notebook party sticking up out of one pocket.
"Good morning all, good morning." he said solemnly, his gaze sweeping over the first years. "Hmm. All reasonably presentable looking. Very good. All form up in a line please, if you would, in alphabetical order – by surname, that is to say. So, Miss Black, at the front, then Mr. Finch-Fletchley, Mr. Great White Bear, Miss Greengrass, Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Nott, Miss Perks, Miss Potter, Mr. al Rashid, Miss Studsley, and at the end Mademoiselle de Winter with you behind her, Prefect Featherstone."
There was some shuffling in the hallway, as this was instruction was carried out.
"Right:" continued Professor Slughorn, once that was done. "Now, I am going to lead you out into the common room, where there is a row of chairs set out for you in front of the rest of the house. You are going to sit down in them, and then I am going to give a little talk to the whole house of an educational nature, during which you don't have to do anything at all if you don't feel like it, apart from pay attention to my talk, of course. Once the talk is over, I will say a few words and then – starting with Miss Black and from there going from one end of the row down to the other – you each, one at a time, stand up, say your name and anything else you feel like mentioning about yourself, and then sit down again. One person finishes, it's then the next person along the line's turn; in theory, simple enough. The house may applaud you or otherwise show their approval, but don't worry much if they don't, and I shall in any case warn them most solemnly against being discourteous. Once you've all done that, all you have to do is sit there and pay attention as I move on to introducing the prefects and a couple of team captains and then give various notices. Any questions? Miss Perks?"
Sally-Anne had her hand up.
"What if… what if we can't think of anything to say? If we can't do anything but just stand there looking silly?"
"If absolutely necessary, Miss Perks, if any of you 'freeze up' completely, I shall tell the house who you are, and you can sit down again. It happens occasionally to a pupil, and there are sufficient pupils still at the school and in this house to whom it has happened, that I believe that the house in general will be understanding of such an event."
Sally-Anne looked relieved at this, and lowered her hand.
"Any further questions?" the Professor asked. "No? Then out we go…"
They trooped out back into the Slytherin common room, led by Professor Slughorn and with Prefect Featherstone bringing up the rear. The castle house-elves were all gone, but the yellow bean bags of earlier had been replaced with a row of polished wooden folding chairs, facing towards all the other seats in the room – which were of course now occupied by every other pupil in Slytherin House. There had been a low murmur in the room, but it quietened at once as the first years filed up to the chairs and sat down. Professor Slughorn headed over to where a table had been place at one end of the row, which table had a jug of something, a plain glass, and a large device of some kind on it. This last item had some sort of chunky circular 'nozzle' protruding from it in the direction of the white sheet. After a moment, Sophie worked out that the device looked to her like some kind of large, over-grown, 'slide projector', and then remembered that the Professor had said something the night before about a 'magic-lantern show'. Perhaps this was a 'magic-lantern'?
Professor Slughorn filled the glass with a clear liquid from the jug, and sipped from the glass, as he waited for the first years to settle themselves, then he put the glass down.
"Yes, well, another school year is upon us, and as is usual, here in Slytherin, we shall commence proceedings with an educational lecture illustrated by magic-lantern, before the first years introduce themselves and we then proceed with other 'house business'." the Professor sounded solemn. "This year's talk touches upon the fields of geography and of natural history, and is concerned with time known as the last ice age. There has been a great deal of study and research into this by both muggle wise-men and witch and wizard thinkers, so, without further ado:"
He drew his wand, made some adjustment to the device on the table (the 'magic lantern' he had just mentioned, so Sophie guessed) so that it started to glow, and then flicked his wand, causing all the other lighting in the common room, save for the flicker from the logs in the fireplace to dim. The Professor stood now in a pool of light emerging from the device and beyond him, a brilliant beam illuminated the hanging sheet, which was now clearly revealed to serve the function of a 'screen'. The Professor manipulated something in the depths of the device, then clicked a shutter, and on the screen appeared in large 'icicle' letters, a heading 'THE ICE AGE'. Underneath, in smaller letters, was 'a talk by Professor H. Slughorn, compiled with reference to the works of Wizards W. Legmelly, A. Slophorn, and Witch C. Thespil, along with that of sundry muggles; visual aids prepared by the firm of enchanters Copéllius & Copéllia of Nürnberg'.
And then a cartoon snowman, as might be seen in a park or garden, with a carrot nose and coal eyes started to bounce across the bottom of the screen, with a cartoon dragon flying in pursuit of it.
Professor Slughorn's talk was a bit like a very entertaining television nature documentary, Sophie thought. It was delivered by him with only occasional glances at the black notebook, which he pulled out of his pocket, and it was all about a time several thousands of years ago when the whole world had been colder and glaciers and all-year-round-ice had not been things found in large quantities only on very high mountains and at the poles, but much further down too; indeed apparently at some times it had been so cold that some places had been completely buried under enormous blankets of ice.
The Professor explained how all this ice had created some features of the landscape and how creatures, both normal and magical, were believed to have coped with the conditions. On the magical side, it was believed that, amongst other things, some species of dragons had developed fiery breath and improved flight capabilities, to survive.
And there was slide after slide, illustrating his points, some showing 'real' pictures of places or things, and others cartoon illustrations and many of them (presumably by 'magic') presenting images which moved or changed.
Occasionally the Professor would throw a question to the audience, and take a comment or answer back from one or more pupils hidden in the shade of the room's mostly dim illumination.
The first years had to turn to look at the screen, positioned as they were, which in some ways was good as it meant usually looking away from the rest of the house, and it even being possible to forget a bit that they were there. It was almost possible to relax at times.
Finally, from the tone of his voice, Professor Slughorn seemed to be coming towards some sort of close to his talk.
"Can anyone tell me what this is?" Professor Slughorn clinked another slide in the depths of the lantern, and pushed it into place before the lens. An image of a woolly mammoth appeared on the screen, plodding across a snowy landscape.
"One of your relatives, Sir?" came a voice from somewhere out of the darkness.
"Just because the light's low it doesn't mean I'm unable to identify you purely by the sound of your voice, Forsythe." Professor Slughorn said good-naturedly. "Since that was almost witty I won't put you on the demerit chart for it this early in the term." There was a burst of chuckles and whispers around where 'Forsythe' was. "Any other theories?"
"It's a woolly mammoth Sir." another pupil called out.
"Quite right Mr. Cooper." Professor Slughorn beamed. "Now: can anyone tell me where I might find a woolly mammoth today?"
"In a naturalist's collection, Sir. They're extinct." this time a girl spoke up.
"And that, Miss di Corci, is also quite right." Professor Slughorn said. Another slide clicked into place in the magic lantern and the woolly mammoth stood suddenly in a landscape thawed out. It looked around once in surprise, and then it was suddenly dead. One last click of a slide, and the landscape around the mammoth faded, and it became a skeleton in a display case in a marbled hall. "The climate and environment changed, but the woolly mammoth did not, and so the mammoth passed into extinction."
The Professor flicked his wand and the lights came up, and as he tucked his notebook back away in a pocket now, the Professor's expression was sombre.
"I hope," the Professor said, the now-ghostly outline of the skeletal mammoth on the screen still partially visible behind him, "that nobody in this room seeks to imitate the example of the mammoth."
There was a moment of silence in the room, and then the professor shut down the magic lantern and went on, in a brisker and more 'upbeat' tone:
"And now the house's new first years will introduce themselves. I'm sure that most of the rest of you remember what your stint doing this was like, and I trust you will refrain from any show of reckless discourtesy."
And he nodded to Kara, who stood up. She looked around the room drew a deep breath and spoke:
"Good morning. I'm Kara Black. Daughter of Regulus Black, of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, and his wife Hebe. My father loved this school greatly, I know, and I haven't been here a day yet, but already this school feels a bit like home."
She trailed off.
"Thank-you, Miss Black." Professor Slughorn beamed, and the room enthusiastically applauded, as Kara sat down. As the applause died away he nodded to Justin, who stood up to take his turn.
"Err, hi. Justin Finch-Fletchley. My father is the thirteenth Earl of Sandmarket, and as his third son that makes me 'honourable', but only for the purpose of addressing envelopes and legal documents. Well formally speaking that is – I mean I hope I'm honourable in what I do, too."
And then several of the others followed in swift succession:
"In your language I am Great White Bear. The Supreme Mugwump, who is also the headmaster of what I hope is this, a fine school, has had the generosity to arrange that I come here to study from my native land. I wish to learn as much magic as possible in my time here."
"Daphne Greengrass. My parents are traders in tea and spices with a good name and a business in Diagon Alley, which has been in the family for four generations. My family have been successful enough that we're the freeholders of the business."
"Neville Longbottom. Grandson of Augusta Longbottom."
And apparently that last was just enough and not too much for most in the house, who maintained a respectful silence as Neville sat down.
And then it was Draco's turn to stand up and after he did so he seemed to freeze for a moment. And then Neville nudged him and Draco managed to get out, a determined look on his face:
"Draco Malfoy. Of the Kensington Malfoys." before sitting down again, very quickly, and giving Neville a friendly nod, and looking faintly relieved.
Theodore was much less troubled.
"Theodore Nott. Only my older brother, Terence, whom a lot of you may already know, gets to call me 'Teddy'." Theodore adopted a surprisingly fierce scowl, and glared at the audience. "If any of the rest of you try… I will remember it…"
"Sally-Anne Perks." Sally-Anne beamed, her earlier nervousness apparently completely forgotten. "My father does low-paid but very important work for Magical Law Enforcement, which is how I'm here. And it's really nice, so far, to be here at Hogwarts."
And then, it was Sophie's turn:
"Sophie Potter. I know there's a lot written in books about me, but quite a bit of it seems to have been written by people who have been just guessing or even completely making things up. Anyway: Don't worry about the blowing people up thing, because I don't think that that works except in real emergencies, and my grandfather told me it would be very bad manners to do it in most cases…"
There was a ripple of nervous laughter in the common room. And then Sophie was sitting down, and the remainder of her fellow first years were rattling through their introductions.
"Suliman al Rashid. Prince Suliman al Rashid. The house prefects and Professor Slughorn may call me 'Mr. Rashid', and I hope to be on good terms with the rest of the house, but as my father says, I 'reserve the right to stand on formality if others are less than respectful'."
"Sarah Studsley. I come from a fantasy kingdom in Northern England cooked up by some idiot in London. I refuse to say the name of it, but some day it will be part of Yorkshire again.
"Genevieve de Winter, of the Montélimar branch of the de Winters. My family are very much important in France."
And then the introductions of the first years were over, and Professor Slughorn, who had sunk much into the background for the past few minutes, except to nod in a friendly and approving manner, took a sip from his glass, cleared his throat meaningfully, and put himself back in the centre of things again:
"That done, we move on to the matter of the pupils from the upper years of this house assigned to positions of particular responsibility for this school year." the Professor said. "This year's new fifth year prefects are Miss Enid Featherstone and Mr. Percy Weasley, if you'd like to take your bow, please."
Percy and Enid stood up from within the ranks of Slytherins and did so – with rather more formality in Percy's case than Enid's. There was a slight smattering of applause and then they sat down.
"Miss Helen Gaunt and Mr. Peter Marx are this year's sixth year prefects." the Professor continued.
Two more pupils stood up; Peter was black, dark-haired and short for a sixth year pupil, but 'solidly built' (in the sense of having muscles). He looked like someone who wouldn't take much nonsense from anyone. Helen was tall, golden haired, and had an air of unmistakeable confidence in the way she stood and wore her robes. She was, besides that, probably the girl most likely to be described as 'amazingly beautiful' by members of the other sex, out of all the upper year pupils that Sophie had seen and noticed so far.
Whilst the applause for the fifth year prefects had been somewhat uncertain, that for the sixth year prefects was absolutely clear in its acknowledgement. These two were clearly known and liked – or at least respected.
"Comrades!" Peter announced making some sort of strange closed fist air-punch as he did so, which drew some snorts or sighs from other Slytherins.
"For the new first years, who may not be aware of Mr. Marx's fancies, he is a great believer in the superiority of the working classes. Of course all witches and wizards are members of the working classes, he reassures us." Professor Slughorn added. "Well: apart from a few 'idle rich' and the owners of broomstick companies, that is…"
Whilst Peter Marx was doing his fist punch in demonstration of his enthusiasm for the working classes, Helen Gaunt, Sophie noticed, simply smiled mysteriously as she stood, as if aware of a joke that was yet to come, to which only she knew the punchline. At this point, no further explanations or introductions were made regarding Helen though, either by the Professor or by Helen herself.
Then the two sixth year prefects sat down.
"And then we have Mr. Hector Blishwick and Miss Lavinia Gamp as our seventh year prefects." the Professor continued.
Hector Blishwick, a grey-haired seventh year of average height, in robes that looked somehow posher-than-normal, and with a slightly snobbish expression on his face, looked rather pointedly at the row of new first years, not looking entirely pleased about something or other. Lavinia Gamp, a young woman with brown hair, a touch on the short side for her age group, and with a round face simply stood there, smiling pleasantly as everyone clapped. Lavinia looked actually slightly 'simple', as if she didn't quite understand everything that was going on around her.
Both the seventh year prefects were vigorously applauded however.
Then the two sat down again.
"Following his sterling performance last year, which saw Slytherin not finish in last place for once, Oliver Wood will once again serve as the house's quidditch captain." Professor Slughorn announced, and to slightly derisory cheers of 'Wood! Wood! Wood!' a 'solidly built' pupil with brown hair and eyes stood up and smiled slightly at the room. He looked to Sophie like either a sixth year, or a tall fifth year pupil.
"This year, I hope that we will again manage second place – perhaps with less skin-of-our-teeth about it than last year." Oliver Wood said in a slight Scottish accent. "Obviously we all know who is going to once again run away with first place."
A few mocking cheers of 'Gryffindor' arose.
Then Oliver Wood sat down.
"And finally, we come to the matter of the duelling captain." Professor Slughorn said. For some reason a strange tension settled over the room at this point. "As older members of the house will be aware, Mr. Troughton had been due to take over this year but due to unfortunate circumstances deriving from actions which he chose to undertake of his own volition, he will not be with us for much of the coming school year. Therefore I have asked Miss Gaunt if – alongside carrying out the functions of a prefect – she will also serve as captain of the Slytherin duelling team for this year; she has kindly consented."
There was a moment of silence, as this news was considered, and then an enthusiastic whistling, clapping, and stamping broke out in the room. The sixth year female prefect stood up again accompanied by cheers and calls of 'Hel-ennnn'.
"If you would introduce yourself to the new first years, Miss Gaunt?" Professor Slughorn invited, over the calls and claps, and Helen beamed and hissed, like a snake, the level of cheering and stamping in the room going up noticeably as she did so.
Professor Slughorn motioned for the room to be quiet, and turned to the first years.
"For those of you who hadn't guessed it, Miss Gaunt is a parselmouth, conversant in the language of serpents, and descended from the founder from whom this house takes its name, Salazar Slytherin."
More cheering broke out in the room at this.
"I speak English, too!" Helen added over the riotous noise. "Un petit peu de français, aussi."
Well, that explained why she was apparently so popular, Sophie thought.
"The captains of such institutions as the house gobstones and quiz teams will be determined later in the year." the Professor said as Helen sat down and the applause died away. "That just leaves one more introduction, before we get onto the notices. Colonel Sally is continuing in the role of the Hogwarts house-elf who acts as my personal assistant."
And with a faint *pop* there the house-elf was again who Sophie had noticed earlier with the green helmet with webbing. The elf still had the short stick, too, but tucked under one arm now.
"I hope that you is all ready for some *exercise*! Especially those of you who lollygag and arrive late for classes or who have so much energy that you is breaking school rules to hex or jinx in the corridors!" the house-elf bellowed in a surprisingly loud voice.
A groan went around the room.
"As the Roman is saying: 'a sound mind in a healthy body'." the elf added, even louder, and positively beaming. The corresponding groan was even louder this time.
"Well, at least you is all having healthy lungs." the elf smirked.
"Yes, thank-you, Colonel Sally." Professor Slughorn said, and with another pop, the elf was gone. "If members of this house do not want to find themselves doing laps of the school grounds or press-ups in what would otherwise be their free-time, then not being late for classes is a good start. Right: on to the notices."
Out came the notebook again, and after all of the lightheartedness of the past few minutes, suddenly Professor Slughorn's tone was solemn and deadly serious. "First and foremost, owing to the circumstances at the end of last school year involving an ill-judged undertaking by two members of this house and one of another, members of this house will be under intense scrutiny this term. As a reminder of this – and to encourage members of this house not to engage in self-destructive activities – the derogatory word 'mudblood' will not feature in any communication this term of any pupil in this house whilst on the school-grounds. It will not be spoken out loud on school-grounds; it will not feature in any writings or clever rebus intended for the eyes of any other on the school grounds. Nor will it be employed anywhere public, that its use can come to my attention, during weekend visits to Hogsmeade. Those who breach this injunction can expect remedial history of magic classes, with Professor Snape, on the topic of witches and wizards of muggle-born heritage. A letter explaining the background to and giving notice of this will shortly be on the way out to all parents and guardians and I will make this injunction quite clear to my colleagues on the staff; should, for any reason, another teacher at this school require use of that word during a class, in an essay, or as part of some other activity this term, you may ask to be excused."
There was silence in the room as Professor Slughorn paused to let this news sink in and be contemplated.
"Next in the running-order of importance, albeit on a somewhat different note" the Professor resumed, "those of you who are in the third year, and who do not have waivers signed by your parents or guardians to the effect that they have already explained such facts to you, in detail, themselves, and that they would prefer you to avoid this particular 'class' are reminded that you have a lecture session this week with Madam Pomfrey on the subject of 'where babies come from'. As I have said every year since 1982, when it was discovered that at least two out of every seven sixth form pupils actually still believed that it was 'The Milk Fairy' or some variant, who had sole oversight and responsibility in this field, the headmaster considers this an essential part of the curriculum. Madam Pomfrey has a new set of magic-lantern slides to accompany her lecture, this year, which at least a majority of the governors have approved the use of – although I have been asked to strenuously emphasise that rumours that at least one governor fainted clean away and another spontaneously combusted when they were asked to review them are purely rumours…"
And the 'notices' went on from there, with a variety of announcements and reminders about various school rules, classes, weekend activities, and even the occasional award, with oddities thrown in such as that the school governors had been able to find absolutely nothing in the rulebook against it, so a fourth year Slytherin pupil by the name of 'Blenkinsop Jenkins' was going to be allowed to keep a racing camel at school this year in the stable-block, so long as he took care of it on a daily basis himself.
Quite why a fourth year should want to have a camel at school was beyond Sophie, although she suspected that she would hear more about that, as the school year progressed.
And then the notebook went away (although the Professor had scarcely glanced at it after the first notice) and notices were over.
"Right: House dismissed." Professor Slughorn said. "Keep out of the way of the castle elves as they clear up, mind you, and first years follow me, since you are about to embark properly upon your introductory week to Hogwarts…"
Author Notes: (Subject to updates)
This update was long overdue. Hold-ups to it have been partly due to distractions from other projects and from physical illness, but largely down to difficulties experienced in writing multi-character scenes, trying to keep a handle on what the perspectives and interactions of multiple characters (in one case over a dozen) might be.
As is now indicated elsewhere in opening notes of this story, J.K. Rowling has released information about the canon universe which has gone in a different direction from background which I had been previously developing, in the prior state of absence of such information. I consider it impractical to keep rewriting this story to adapt for these ongoing releases of 'canon' information, or to keep rewriting the Author Notes to acknowledge and track every last difference between the 'Saint Potter' and canon universes which as a consequence arises; all I can do is acknowledge that more and more of these unintended differences with canon will inevitably arise with the passage of time, and apologise for any confusion to my readers which as a result occurs.
Gryffindor house is the house in the Saint Potter universe which, as of September 1991, has tended to thrash the others in the school quidditch contest in recent years.
As far as the Saint Potter universe goes, I am working from my own maps and history of Hogwarts. Major elements devised by J.K. Rowling, such as there being a great hall, a library, and 'Gryffindor' and 'Ravenclaw' towers will likely be worked in, but the geography and layout of this version of Hogwarts may otherwise be new or at least somewhat different from canon. 'The New School' part of the castle with its central shaft cut through the floors in which there are slowly turning staircases is one area which possibly has little resemblance to the Hogwarts of canon.
As far as I can determine, the founding of Hogwarts (both in canon and in the universe of this story) post-dates by some years the period in which most 'King Arthur' stories should logically be set; thus the 'Merlin' who in canon was a famous Slytherin pupil has become, in the Saint Potter universe, a wizard named after King Arthur's wizard – and who is thus known as 'Merlin the Lesser' (the 'greater' being assumed to be King Arthur's wizard of that name).
In the case of the 'bean bags' being used as markers in the Slytherin common room, in case the text isn't clear enough, I use the term in the sense of the small roughly square objects, a few inches long along each side, lightweight, floppy and beloved by school sports day organisers (or at least they were at the UK primary/middle school which I attended).
One of the paper darts that Percy Weasley dispatched during breakfast included an update for Professor Slughorn on the 'parrot situation' – hence the parrot's removal by the time that Sophie and the others return from breakfast.
The USS Missouri that Sophie overhears Draco and Justin talking about is the United States Navy battleship of that name which took part in the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Draco and Justin are both boys who've grown up in, or at least very aware of the 'normal world' and the Gulf War with all those planes and tanks (and battleships) looked very exciting and interesting to them, as eleven year olds.
Neville is correct in his surmise that Prefect Featherstone is trying a wind-up with the story about the dunces' caps for Slytherin first years who 'introduced' themselves the most poorly in the year that she arrived at Hogwarts.
The wizards and witch researchers mentioned on the opening slide of the professor's lecture (and the German firm of enchanters) are invented for the purposes of this universe.
Professor Slughorn in this universe has a merit/demerit chart for pupil behaviour; pupils who acquit themselves well eventually acquire enough 'merits' for a small award or reward of some sort. Pupils who carry out a series of misdeeds not in and of themselves individually sufficient to require punishment may nevertheless gain themselves a punishment by cumulative weight of 'demerits'.
Miss di Corci's first name is Gwendolyn. Any resemblance, however vague, to a Magic: The Gathering CCG character ends there, though. (This is a 'T' rated story.)
As referred to in an earlier chapter, the Malfoys moved out of the wizarding world at the end of the Wizarding War in this universe; as Draco indicates, the family now live in Kensington (in London).
Sally-Anne's remark 'which is how I'm here' is a reference to a Ministry scheme in this universe whereby the Ministry fund a Hogwarts place for one child of each low-paid Ministry worker who has a good long-term track-records in their jobs. This is part of a series of measures of perks and incentives by the Ministry aimed at trying to retain hard-workers.
Sarah's remark about coming from a 'fantasy kingdom' is a reference to one of the after-effects of the 'UK Local Government Act' of 1972; this piece of legislation formed a number of new 'counties' by a process of breaking pieces off of pre-existing counties, or even doing away with some (including the East Riding of Yorkshire) altogether.
Helen Gaunt is a granddaughter of Morfin Gaunt; as indicated in the first chapter of the supporting piece 'Slughorn', in the Saint Potter universe Morfin Gaunt married a muggle, shortly after his father, Marvolo, apparently went crazy and massacred a family of muggles. Helen is a half-blood, but scores highly on the approval scale of her fellow Slytherins since she is a parselmouth, she is descended from Salazar Slytherin, and the muggles that her family married in recent generations were exceptionally wealthy ones so (given that the Gaunts were destitute before then) even the blood-purists can rationalise away the matches as being 'necessary exploitation of muggles'.
Oliver Wood is (obviously) in Slytherin in this universe; Marcus Flint, for the record, is in Gryffindor, and the captain (this year) of the Gryffindor quidditch team.
Besides quidditch, there are a number of other inter-house competitions in the Saint Potter universe, including (magical) duelling, gobstones, and quizzes.
Each Hogwarts head of house by 1991 has a castle house-elf assigned specifically as their 'personal assistant'; the elves assigned to these roles usually have names assigned to them by the houses (with Colonel Sally being in part named by Slytherin as such in tribute to the founder, Salazar Slytherin). The 'Roman' that Colonel Sally refers to, with regard to 'a sound mind in a healthy body' is the poet, Juvenal.
As indicated in the first chapter of the 'Slughorn' supporting story, at the end of the previous school year two Slytherins (one of whom was 'Mr. Troughton) and their Hufflepuff ringleader tried to do something very nasty to a couple of other pupils, of whom the Hufflepuff was jealous.
Yes, in this universe there's a 'where babies come from' lecture by the school nurse (Madam Pomfrey) for third years. It's there for information purposes and to help make it clear why there are school rules that pupils doing much more than kissing/cuddling on the school premises are engaging in potential expulsion offences.
Finally, a short story (by a writer identified as 'Vernon Crick') in the 'The Champion Annual for Boys, 1954' is to blame for the minor detail of one Slytherin pupil in 'Saint Potter?' having a camel at Hogwarts. Granted in the original 1954 short story the reason for a camel being at a boarding school is somewhat different (the protagonist, there, is being 'japed' by other pupils), but the idea of a pupil having a camel at a boarding school just seemed somehow so Hogwarts that I couldn't resist getting the idea in, somewhere…