Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: FoM :: 02 :: Snapshots

02 • Snapshots

6 August 1995

Chase arranged for almost everything to be delivered, though in several cases he simply picked up owl order forms and catalogues. But of course, the very first place he and Aberforth visited was the wand shop. It was no Ollivander’s. In fact, it was as light and airy as the bank had been, which was slightly shocking after those visits to Diagon Alley. Then again, considering that Diagon Alley was situated in the heart of London, perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all.

He eventually ended up with a twelve inch wand of black birch which contained a phoenix feather core. ‘That’s better than unicorn hair,’ he mused, then smiled at the shop owner and handed over the requisite number of galleons. He twisted at the sound of tutting to see Aberforth tugging Stella away from some boxes she apparently found tasty and grinned.

Turning back he said, “Thank you, sir.”

“Yes, well. Perhaps you will take more care next time.” The man turned his back, ostensibly dismissing Chase, and puttered off toward the back of the shop muttering to himself about careless idiots.

Chase, immeasurably relieved to be in possession of a wand again, pivoted and nodded at Aberforth, then followed him and Stella out of the shop. Once outside, Aberforth began pointing out the various shops on Sunder street. “We may as well start at one end and work our way down, my boy.”

“This really is very kind of you,” he said.

Aberforth flapped a hand, causing Stella to butt him in the thigh. “Always happy to be of service. You can repay me by visiting once we’re done shopping. I needed to pick up a few things myself. Stella has a very strict diet, you know.”

Chase furrowed his brow. To his knowledge, goats would eat almost anything. “All right.” Hours later found him entering Aberforth’s home. It was decorated in bright, cheerful colours and flowers were everywhere, either as actual plants or as motifs. Chase found it all rather overdone for his tastes, but after he had learned what Aberforth had meant about Stella’s diet, he supposed he could understand. She dined almost exclusively on flowers. That is, when she wasn’t sneaking other delicacies behind the old man’s back.

After being shown to a seat in Aberforth’s sunny yellow kitchen and served a butterbeer, Chase listened as the old man got down to business.

“You might be wondering how things have gone back across the pond, my boy,” Aberforth began, causing Chase to lean forward in interest. “As to that, I happen to have a collection of issues of the Daily Prophet for you to take home with you. Someone thought you might be interested, mm?”

“I would, yes.”

“Rightly so! But before we get to that, let’s talk about other things. I assume you’ve been amusing yourself with the books presently in your house. I also assume that your vault is quite satisfactory, so it should be no trouble for you to augment your collection even further.”

“Er, I’m a little confused about something still,” Chase said. “I’m not sure I understand how I’m supposed to live. Yes, the vault is fine. Actually, there’s loads more in it than I ever expected. But it isn’t as though I’ve taken the OWLs or even NEWTs.”

“Wasn’t that part explained?” Aberforth flapped his hand and turned slightly, saying, “Stella, dear, leave the table leg alone. Your dinner is right over there, just like it always is.” Looking at Chase again he said, “That little doodad set up for you also inserted records about those exams. You more or less passed everything with decent marks. I suggest you send a letter to the Ministry here telling them you misplaced your copies and ask for new ones. They’ll grumble and grouse, but they should comply within a fairly short amount of time.”

“So then it’s just a case of bringing myself up to speed on what interests me the most.”

“Quite so. Once you feel confident, you could find a job. Everyone needs something to do with their time, after all. I mean, taking care of Stella is a twenty-four hour a day proposal at times! Of course, she’s a darling girl, and doesn’t mind the odd charm being cast on her.”

Chase coughed softly and held his tongue on that subject.

“You’re welcome to stop by at any time, of course,” he said, then leaned in to whisper, “Stella especially likes roses, by the way.” Sitting back, Aberforth said, “And now that you’ve had a stroll down Sunder you know where to find everything of that nature. Once you feel up to exploring a bit further I’d be happy to go along if you like.”

“That would be nice,” Chase agreed. “I guess, though, I’ll always feel a little bit confused, being here.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, my boy. I’m usually a bit muddled over something, but I can’t see how it’s affected my life all that much.” Then he huffed and turned again. “Stella, dear, the curtains will spoil your appetite.” Looking back at Chase he continued, “By the way, the street we’re on is called Truncate. It’s a dead end. More whimsy, I suppose. The Ministry is over on Hemisect and the Hospital is on Shear. I have a map around here somewhere. Soon as I find it I’ll bring it over.”

Chase blinked slowly, then summoned up a smile. “Thank you.” He was very glad he didn’t know the people who had named the area. Their sense of humor was cockeyed indeed, and somewhat morbid. Aberforth appeared to fit right in, in fact.

“Now, I expect you’re feeling a bit done in, so I’ll let you toddle on home.” Aberforth rose and went to one of the counters, returning a moment later with a stack of papers. “Here you are, my boy. You’ll find these interesting. If I don’t see you within the next few days I’ll stop by to see how you’re doing.”

Chase took the papers and stood, tucking them under one arm. “I’ll see you both soon, then.”

*

Back in his own home, Chase repaired to the lounge and dropped onto the couch, setting the papers off to one side. Everything he had seen so far suggested a very relaxed, open community, one free from the fear that permeated British wizarding society. There had been just as many attired in muggle clothing as wizarding, which was also interesting in his opinion. Of course, mention of the Daily Prophet had his thoughts turning to the recent past. His friends, who must be frantic in one way or another, and the journal he had completely forgotten about in all the confusion.

Chase sighed heavily and glanced at the papers. There was nothing to do but read, so he reached for the first.

Harry Potter Incarcerated

Potter was apprehended yesterday after appearing at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Readers will remember that he had already disappeared from his home when Ministry officials went to arrest him on the twenty-first on charges of illegal use of magic and the death of Cedric Diggory, a fellow Hogwarts student.

Ministry sources reveal that Potter has been convicted by a full assembly of the Wizengamot despite the efforts of Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts and former Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. Potter has allegedly been sent to Azkaban for life.

Chase tossed the paper to the side and snorted. He doubted very highly that he would ever be able to appear as Harry Potter again. Unless Fudge was ousted from his position, it was unlikely that his innocence could be proved, and even then, he wasn’t sure how long the clone would last. If it disintegrated while in prison, people would likely assume he had managed to escape, and he’d be in the same position as Sirius.

Chase groaned and clutched at his hair. Sirius. His godfather must be going mad. He wondered if Dumbledore had actually told anyone about his actions or if he had left everyone in the dark. He hoped Sirius hadn’t done anything crazy once the news had come back. And his friends—who knew what they were thinking. It wasn’t as though he could write and find out. And, until he established himself in Australia, it would be a bad idea to even consider going back.

He reluctantly reached for the second paper.

Dark Lord’s Heir Revealed

Shocking new news reveals that Harry Potter, recently convicted of the death of Cedric Diggory, is in fact the son of You-Know-Who. Ministry sources refuse to confirm, but. . . .

Chase flung the paper to the floor in disgust. It was just as well “Harry” was already in Azkaban. He had every expectation that he’d have ended up there anyway after reading the second entry in Peter’s journal. He was almost afraid to read further entries, but knew he must at some point. He wasn’t particularly thrilled about the idea of reading more of the papers in the stack, either, but he did.

Assault on Azkaban

Late last evening You-Know-Who’s forces invaded Azkaban and retrieved Harry Potter. Two dozen guards lost their lives during the break-in and Aurors were unable to prevent the contingent of Death Eaters from escaping, though several were killed in the process.

Unfortunately, Potter was not recaptured. However, internal sources reveal that he was last seen in a state closely resembling catatonia. It is possible that even his short stay in the fortress prison has seriously unbalanced Potter, or destroyed his mind.

That paper was tossed on the floor as well. After heaving a sigh, Chase ran his hands through his hair in agitation. Now he was not only Voldemort’s son, but an escapee, and mental. The fact that Voldemort had sent forces in after him strongly implied a few things, and Chase wasn’t sure he could handle thinking about them.

Had it been Voldemort who had sent him the journal? Or was it the same person who had leaked the information to the Daily Prophet? If it had been Voldemort, why? Did his . . . father . . . want to make peace with him? Or was it his way of saying that he expected his son to join his cause? He supposed Voldemort could have leaked the information after his arrest in order to assure that Harry would never again find safety in the hands of his former comrades. But if he wanted to make peace, that would have been a foolish thing to do.

In any case, Voldemort had broken Harry out of Azkaban. And, either the clone was already starting to break down, or had been instructed to revert to base form as far as mentality went once it had been incarcerated. Chase couldn’t decide if Voldemort would be angry, though logic suggested he would—rather, what specifically would cause his anger.

Chase thought it was just as well he had become a new person. He didn’t even know his birth name. He glanced over the final two papers reluctantly.

Attacks Stepped Up

With the loss of the once thought Savior of the Wizarding World, attacks have become more frequent and more horrific as You-Know-Who attempts to wipe out. . . .

Reactionary Responses

Surprising or not, some of Potter’s former friends believe he is anything but evil, while others remain convinced of his fall from grace given the revelations of the past few weeks. Heading the list are Percy and Ronald Weasley, who both insist that they knew it would come to this in the end and that. . . .

Chase stood abruptly and gathered up the stack of papers. After a quick spell to ignite the wood in the fireplace, he tossed them all in and watched them burn with a look of disgust on his face. Moments later he glanced into the mirror over the mantel. The original changes had almost completely disguised him. It was the discovery that he was a metamorphmagus that finalized the deal. His scar was hidden, of necessity, and his eyes were a sapphire blue with black outer rings.

Chase Caesura was ready to start making his way in the world.

9 August 1995

When he did get around to remembering the journal again, it was several days later. Aberforth and Stella had popped in for a visit the day before, at which time Chase was presented with a map of Cleave. He was also given a gardening catalogue and a sly wink. They stayed for a half hour, then Aberforth insisted it was time for Stella’s midmorning snack, and wandered off.

Chase was by then, admittedly, heavily in denial about his former identity. He had taken to thinking of Harry Potter as an entirely separate person, possibly prompted by Ron’s reaction to his real father. He knew he would have to deal with his feelings on the matter at some point, but for the time being he simply wasn’t willing.

It was with that in mind that he read the third entry of Peter’s journal.

October, 1997

His eyes scanned the paper, noting a small article tucked off as a side story on the main page, announcing (with some pomposity) the creation of a new wizarding organization called Ethos, meant to promote the interests of pure-bloods in as harmonious a way as possible considering the threat of Voldemort to the community at large. Naturally, they used You-Know-Who.

Chase had long since arranged for the Daily Prophet to be delivered from Britain. Granted, it did mean he got them in bundles of seven and a week or more late, but that was beside the point. He had also long since learned that Harry Potter was widely believed to be dead, though opinion was divided on whether or not he suicided or had been killed by Voldemort, either for refusing to join or because he had failed his father in some way.

“How ridiculous,” he said snidely, knowing there’d be no answer to his comment. “A pure-blood organization, and they think no one will connect this to Voldemort? I can’t believe they’re allowing for an Ethos club at Hogwarts. It’s just asking for trouble.”

He dropped the paper on his lap and considered. He hadn’t been doing all that badly, truth be told, and at this distance, the pain from the past was a mere memory, a ghost of what had been. That didn’t make things any easier, just different.

“Then again,” he mused quietly, “since it’s a way to see who leans in that direction, it’s also a way to see who might be considering a step up to a life of servitude to dear old dad.”

A series of knocks sounded, interrupting his thoughts. He rose, discarding the paper on a table as he strode across the room, then out, to answer his front door.

April 1998

She sat there, her expressive brown eyes filled with weariness as she listened to Ron rant as he paced back and forth. They went through this at least once a week, and she was tired of it, and angry. It was never supposed to have been like this. Finally she stood and gathered her books and supplies, and headed toward the portrait hole. He never even noticed she left.

In the library she spread out her things at one of the more reclusive tables available and began her homework, glad for the peace and quiet of her retreat. She was joined a little later by Ginny, for whom she spared a slight smile and received one in return, and the two worked in companionable silence until the threat of curfew forced them back to the tower.

When they arrived, he was still at it, pacing before a small audience of nodding heads.

“If he’d bloody well taken care of the bastard when he had the chance, then we wouldn’t be in this position! But no, he had to string things along so he could garner more fame and adulation, until finally it was too late and his lies were caught out. I’m glad he’s dead, I am! I just wish he could have suffered first, like we’re suffering now, the bastard. And done his damn job!”

Ginny looked over at her with a faint grimace and she nodded. As one, they turned and ascended the girls’ staircase to disappear into the dorms where he could not follow, both silently mourning the loss of a once trusted comrade sunk low into jealousy and spite.

The next day, Saturday, they entered Dumbledore’s office and quietly took seats, looking up only once he had appeared and taken his own.

“Miss Granger, Miss Weasley, it is a pleasure to see you once again.”

“Professor,” came the twin murmurs of response.

“Is there something you wish to discuss with me?” he asked genially.

They glanced at each other before she finally spoke.

“It’s Ron, sir. It’s the same thing, day in and day out. He never stops ranting except in class. He’s gone completely off the deep end. He’s even joined Ethos, something he never would have done in the past. We’re starting to be afraid of his influence within the house. We’re beginning to be afraid for our own safety.”

“I see. What have you been doing about this thus far?”

“Revision, mostly, something he rarely seems to do, sir. Granted, I’ve not been labeled a bookworm for nothing, but still . . . it’s getting harder,” she replied.

“It isn’t as easy for me, professor, but I’ve also been pushing my studies. Ron keeps trying to get me to join Ethos as well, but I have no interest in it,” added Ginny.

“Perhaps a compromise is in order. Miss Granger, you cannot join the organization for obvious reasons, but Miss Weasley, you could if you wanted to use it as a bargaining point in order to get your brother to leave you alone more often. It will provide you some measure of protection, after all, and this is his final year. And you, Miss Granger, while you cannot join, you could perhaps express some slight sympathy for their cause in order to allay suspicion. Or, at least, appear to logically consider whatever points they may have.”

He favored them both with an opaque look. They nodded in understanding.

“As you know, unless Mr Weasley does something that would warrant expulsion, we will simply have to tread carefully for the remainder of this year. I shall be sending a letter to your parents, Miss Weasley, explaining the situation.”

“Thank you, professor.”

“I believe dinner will be starting shortly. I suggest you both run along now so you will not be late.”

May 1998

Blaise Zabini came away from the Ethos club meeting with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it made him happy that someone was suggesting a moderate line for pure-blood rights, one that did not include the types of tactics so gladly embraced by the Dark Lord. On the other hand, it made him a little uneasy that the organization existed at all, though so far nothing had occurred in any of the meetings which made him think there was anything amiss.

He was shocked, however, to see that Ginny Weasley had followed her fanatical brother into the fold. Something felt slightly off kilter and for once in his life he wished he had Seer blood in his veins. It was like trying to pin down the rapidly fading details of a dream in which something important had occurred, yet could not be recalled.

With a slight shrug he paused at the blank stretch of wall which hid the entrance to the Slytherin section of the dungeons, whispered the password, and entered pensively, ignoring his housemates as he slowly walked down to his room. Certainly he was not surprised that Draco was a member, given his father’s tendencies and the actions and attitudes the son had displayed over the years. Ginny was another matter though.

Not that he had ever let anyone catch him in his studies of the other students of the school. He had long since come to the conclusion that a girl such as Ginny had her head on straight, and saw the world in far more than stark black and white. He had assumed she was like himself, or at least on the light side of neutral. As he prepared for bed, he decided that there were more than a few things which bore watching with care.

The next day, in his meeting with the headmaster, he received quite interesting news.

“Mr Zabini, you will be pleased to note that you are being offered the position of Defense teacher starting September of next year, dependant on your NEWT scores.”

June 1998

The leaving feast was both sad and joyous. For Hermione it meant an end to continual and close contact with Ron. For Ginny it meant that she would have a year away from her brother come September, and much needed distance. For everyone, though, it meant another year of Voldemort’s rampages across the countryside, with no apparent end in sight.

To say that people had changed was an understatement. A number embraced the supposed ideals and goals of Ethos, others fled to the dark side for various reasons (too many of which were based on the idea that ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’), while others clung to the light and hope.

Ron Weasley, much like his brother Percy, was particularly rabid in his new opinions, telling anyone who would listen that it would have been only a matter of time after Potter had fulfilled his role and defeated the Dark Lord before he rose up in his stead, and that he had been constantly forced to live in the shadow of the other wizard, relegated to a minor role in which his life was likely to be wasted as fodder for the boy’s lust for fame and power.

His parents, needless to say, were quite shocked by this turn of events, and nothing they might say could change their son’s mind. Ron, after packing his things, went to live with his brother in London after an argument not unlike the one they’d had with Percy several years prior. The fact that Ron was giving up many of the things that had made his once friend envious of him was an irony which would have both amused and saddened Harry Potter.

Thus it was that the only child still living with Mr and Mrs Weasley ended up being Ginny, soon to be a seventh year at Hogwarts, where she would not be wasting any further time at Ethos meetings she had no interest in attending.

Hermione, after having received the results of her seventh year tests, accepted a position at the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Office for House-Elf Relocation.

Ron, on the other hand, was having extreme difficulty in finding work due to his generally lacking NEWTs.

A certain Mr Caesura was also working in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, though in the Australian Ministry, and in the Beast Division, which would come in handy several years down the road.

August 1998

Blaise walked into the castle with a faint smile, amused to be back so soon, and glad to be back in the role of Professor. That it might feel a little awkward at first, teaching students he’d lived with for up to six years, was a minor concern. He had been given a complete outline of what would normally be taught for each year’s students, specifically geared for optimum results considering the current climate, though it would realistically benefit younger students more, given that their time left at the school was that much longer.

However, he had been given permission for optional classes for older students who felt they could do with additional training, given that the curriculum over the years had been somewhat sketchy at best and not at all consistent.

He was met before he had walked more than a few steps by Severus Snape, whom he greeted cordially. He was more than happy to let his former Head of House accompany him to his rooms off the Defense classroom, and once there, to share a glass of merlot. He assumed that he was getting as decent a reception, considering that Snape had always coveted the Defense position, because he was a Slytherin, which may have softened the blow. However, he wasn’t particularly inclined to ask.

*

As an Ethos member, he had become increasingly uneasy during the summer months at some of the things he had been hearing, the particular shadings and slants to the doctrine they presented. It did not help that as a former Slytherin, he found he was being subtly urged to take greater responsibilities almost from the outset, or to be more outspoken than he normally was.

Such as it was, he found himself wandering into Dumbledore’s office to report on his suspicions.