Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: FAQ/Post Mortem

FAQ/Post Mortem

The following are questions or issues about the story, some of which are collected from the review process (though some aren’t).

1. What are Heru’s powers/abilities?

2. How did Severus actually figure out who Heru was?

If you read the story very carefully you will note any number of instances where Severus gains clues, subtle though they may be. In this story Severus is portrayed as being incredibly intelligent—a Savant, if you will—and has either an eidetic memory, or makes frequent use of a pensieve to store memories of events which disturb him for some reason. He did not speak of every one of those incidents when he confronted Heru.

As for why Severus took it so well, he had quite a long time with those clues swimming around in the back of his mind to mull over. By the time he’s sure of his suspicions, he’d already worked through the associated issues. And, he is a Slytherin. He can surely appreciate being outmaneuvered in such a sneaky, though truthful way.

He can also appreciate that Heru has never used the past against him in any nasty way, and he’s sure as hell tried to deal with him on an adult level, without the trappings of the past. Heru deals with him fairly, honestly, and openly, even though he never actually willingly reveals the single detail of vast import.

Now, if Heru had simply pulled him off to the side one day and said he had something to confess, things would have gone very differently indeed. Severus probably would have been pissed off for the deception and felt like he was being mocked. To be very specific:

3. How did Remus figure out that Heru had been spying on him and Sirius?

Heru dropped several clues during that conversation. Specifically:

4. [Mistakes]

5. [Lost Ideas]

6. What exactly did Salazar do the Book of Souls?

Salazar modified it so that it very clearly showed which children listed were pure-blood, which were half-bloods, and which were muggle-borns. Assuming he had gotten his way, that would have allowed them to exclude the muggle-borns quite easily from receiving invitations to attend Hogwarts. Though, it should be noted that the colour scheme does not actually match that used in Heru’s family tapestry.

7. So what did happen to Salazar, huh?

When Salazar came to the conclusion that his friends would never agree with him, he left Hogwarts and traveled for some time. Heru knew that his brother was alive by checking the tapestry. The exact date at which Salazar blood bonded into a different family is unknown, but after that point, he remarried and started a second family, from which Tom Riddle and Nymphadora Tonks descended. His new name was Yshan Pfaetren.

8. Why did Albus give in so easily after attempting to use veritaserum on Heru?

Albus had his doubts, certainly, and decided to take the most expedient route to absolve them. However, Heru foils that plan quite easily. The fact that Heru does have a phoenix familiar, coupled with Severus’s own endorsement, causes Albus to take a chance and accept Heru for what he presents at face value. The fact is, Heru could easily cause a great deal of trouble for Albus, and Albus knows it. It would be far better to accept Heru on their side rather than alienate him.

9. Why does Heru choose not to inform anyone of his past identity?

That’s for several reasons. First, I wanted a story where (as Heru says in the alternate chapter 39) people are forced to deal with Heru as the person he presently is, not as a ghost of a child they knew. I also tend to believe that if people found out, he would have to go into hiding as someone else to protect himself, not only from the general public, but from his former friends. People are funny that way—once they’ve assured themselves that you’re all right and they feel safe again, the recriminations start, the accusations, the guilt trips, and a whole host of nasty issues. I simply didn’t want that.

10. Why did you have to rip Harry to shreds in the birthday scene?

Because I’m sick that way. Sure, it would be awful enough for Harry simply to be thought dead, but not nearly as interesting as when it appeared that someone with a grudge had got to him and been creative in their anger. It also, as stated in the story, makes it very clear that Harry could not have offed himself.

11. How does blood bonding actually change a person?

In this story, the rules are as follows:

So, you could say that the process is not entirely immediate. Harry becomes Heru Slytherin immediately, but his genetic structure changes over time, as evidenced by his slow transformation in appearance. The same is true for Mark when Severus is added as his second parent.

Keep in mind, we are talking about magic here, so I feel justified in doing the impossible. One might expect that modifying gene sequences in the real world would result in appreciable, viewable changes. Meaning, Heru’s appearance probably ought to have changed regardless as cells died and new ones were spawned to take their place.

12. Why was Severus so upset about Mark going to № 12 Grimmauld Place?

This is actually very simple. Yes, Severus is becoming very fond of the boy, but it isn’t that he’s feeling possessive or irrational. He’s worried about how Sirius will treat Mark, who is not only a blood Slytherin, but friendly with Severus. Given how badly Severus and the Marauders got on during their own school years, he’s worried that Sirius will see Mark as an easy target. Severus simply wants to protect the boy from his personal fights.

13. What the hell is the deal with portraits at age eleven?

Simply a custom I included as an excuse to place the portraits of the children into Heru’s study. Think of it as a rite of passage. At eleven, they begin school and have a portrait done of them. At seventeen (though, in this past it’s more like fifteen), they are recognized as adults. Portraits may be updated at that time to reflect the age difference.

14. So, how come Severus was even attracted to Heru in the first place?

This may or may not be obvious. Yes, I planted several clues to blatantly show they were interested in each other, but that doesn’t really explain anything. A reviewer was very insightful on this particular issue. So try looking at it this way:

In the beginning, Severus might have simply been attracted to the potential power that Heru represented. Someone who, on the surface, was a good guy, or at least neutral. A true Slytherin. Even when Heru scares the pants off him, he can see that Heru doesn’t do more than be intimidating. Severus suffers no actual consequences for his actions, leading him to believe that Heru just isn’t the type to act like Voldemort might, such as torturing him for his insolence . . . or would that be impertinence?

At any rate—Severus sees a very confident, relaxed person, who isn’t afraid to show that he isn’t perfect, and even that he’s willing to show his weakness. While the first instance of that is when he becomes angry, that leads to his obvious reaction to Salazar’s letter, and then further to his obvious disappointment that Severus isn’t willing to take a chance on being friends.

Despite that, Heru does remove the Dark Mark. He even trustingly falls asleep on the couch. Granted, Severus cannot do spells, but he doesn’t know that. He could take the letter opener from Heru’s desk and stab him to death. Now, this trust could be born of condescension, but that doesn’t tie in with the kind of person Heru presents himself as.

Severus has spent quite a bit of time angsting over what to believe, wanting very badly to trust, but being scared to do so. As he says, he’s worried that it’s all just a trap and that Heru sees him as nothing more than a useful minion he could gain through guile. Heru’s parting words to him are almost cruel, but very truthful, and very much indicative of his feelings at the time. Essentially, “You’ve hurt me, Severus. I’ve let you use me, so go away.”

Heru leaves Severus alone for the next two months except for routine mail. Severus spends that time angsting as well, torn between desire and distrust, eventually deciding to take a risk for his own sake. Mark probably factors into his decision. Either Mark is an extraordinarily good actor for his age, or he’s also exactly what he appears to be.

When he does return to Heru’s home, he’s hesitant, but resolute. He’s made a decision and he’s going to stick with it. That Heru brushes off his apology as though it’s unnecessary is a plus in Severus’s mind, though he still fears the backlash of Heru’s temper, knowing that this man is so much more powerful than he is. Heru simply acts like nothing has happened and treats him like a friend.

It can’t hurt that Mark puts in his two cents worth, either. It’s another indication that Heru is lonely and really would like Severus to accept him.

It has to be a serious puzzle for someone like Severus to encounter a man like Heru. All the advantages of wealth, power, blood, and yet so down-to-earth and unassuming most of the time. When we roll around to the subject of Severus obtaining the Parselmouth ability, we see again that Heru trustingly passes out in his presence. Could be condescension, or maybe not.

Severus takes a risk and shows vaguely affectionate behavior, to which Heru responds positively, and then shows his weakness further by admitting his pain, and his willingness to allow someone else to take care of him. Yes, that could be the action of a man toward a minion, but it doesn’t fit Heru’s apparent character. He also allows himself to be bossed around by Severus.

By the time Heru spends those three days at the castle, Severus has decided to take the plunge. He believes he can trust Heru, could care for him and perhaps have his feelings returned, and won’t be treated like a dog on a leash. Everything he’s seen up to that time points in the same direction. Heru has willingly exhausted himself on several occasions for Severus’s benefit, and with no appreciable return for himself. He does it because he can help. Disgustingly Gryffindor in nature, perhaps, but also appealing in those instances.

From there, it’s more or less obvious.

15. How come only Heru can talk to the castle (and by extension, Severus and Mark)?

Heru was the only one to demonstrably treat the castle as sentient in the past. Not merely alive, but as a thinking being. He continues that in the present, and actually receives answers from her. She, for whatever reason, extends that courtesy to Mark, and later Severus, because of their intimate connection to Heru. She doesn’t necessarily understand why, but she doesn’t have to. People often don’t understand why they do things, they simply do them.

16. Why didn’t it occur to Heru that Sirius or Moody would be watching when he explained about the tapestry?

Everyone makes mistakes, and Heru isn’t perfect. He’s made the offer for several reasons, and it doesn’t occur to him that anyone would disagree with his reasoning, despite that blood magic is frowned upon or feared, especially as Albus had no problem with their plans.

17. Why are there (realistically) so few obstacles in Heru’s way?

For one, I doubt I’m much of an obstacle person. I don’t like jumping hurdles, though I did try to include some in this story. The problem comes in where I have a tendency to plan something, then ask myself, “What are my readers going to point at? What are they going to question? How can I head them off at the pass?”

An example of that is after the portrait test, where Severus asks Heru why he even bothered with using it. Why didn’t he just talk to him himself.

Another example is where Heru tells Voldemort he can lurk in a dark corner, then later decides he might not get off that easily, and prepares a backup plan where he will have to prove he’s an all-around sadistic bastard who derives pleasure from hurting people, just like Voldemort. And, he’s right. He has to.

Still, he is able to maintain his mask during encounters, though he has a tendency to fall apart afterward, which is nice since it shows he’s isn’t a god—he’s just very good at what he can actually do. Of course, those same weaknesses provide a lovely excuse for fluff time.

So, it’s a combination of things, but mainly that I don’t feel I’m very strong in that area.