Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Friendship’s Price :: 06 :: Philosophy

06 • Philosophy

Harry dreamed that night, and while it was not a nightmare, it was also not exactly pleasant. This time, in some corner of his mind, he knew it was not reality, but it still disturbed him.

It was not unlike the dream he’d had at Grimmauld Place. His reflection in the mirror of his dream was odd, but he still could not place a finger on what was wrong. Try as he might, staring and squinting and letting his gaze roam over every inch of his other self, and even over the room shown to him, he could not pin down what made him so unsettled.

There was music playing an accompaniment to his feelings in the background, though no instruments were visible. He could hear the aching strains of both flute and violin, and even chimes, but the music was not otherwise familiar. It was, however, a haunting melody that made him feel both sad and uplifted, filled to bursting with hope and yet drowning in sorrow and desperation.

He felt like he was being ripped apart listening to it, torn in two directions at once. He tried to shut it out, but it persisted, becoming louder and louder until his dream self covered his ears against the assault, his eyes shut tightly as well.

With a gasp he awoke, his eyes flying open to see only the darkened outlines of the canopy above, and to release a single tear from the corner of one eye. A gentle snore from Ron made him smile faintly, bringing his mind back to the mundane reality.

But before trying to sleep again, Harry spent long minutes meditating and clearing his mind.

*

At breakfast Harry watched as Hermione glanced over her shoulder, then looked back and made a moue of distaste.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, pitching his voice so only those immediately around him would hear.

Hermione turned to face him and said, “It’s nothing. At least it’s a lecture class. It’s harder for Malfoy to make trouble in those.”

“Potions?”

She nodded.

“Is he really still that much trouble?”

“Well, you don’t see it, not taking the class anymore, but yes. And Professor Snape still does nothing about it.”

“He wasn’t like that in Defense.”

“Professor Charmain seems to be quite strict, though a good teacher I expect. Besides, he’d have to be a fool to try anything with an unknown element, and everyone knows Professor Snape lets the Slytherins get away with just about anything.” She sniffed and nibbled a piece of her toast.

“Well, perhaps with his father in Azkaban he won’t be so cocky this year,” suggested Harry.

Hermione sniffed again. “Maybe.” She dropped her toast and grimaced as though it was suddenly distasteful and stood up, hauling the strap of her bag over one shoulder. “I’ll see you all later,” she said, then walked out of the hall.

Harry turned to Ron and said, “I can’t say I’m sorry I’m no longer in Potions.”

Ron grinned and dished up more eggs onto his plate. “I’ve been thinking,” he said when he’d put the eggs back. “Should we start up the DA again do you think?”

“I think,” Harry said carefully, “that Umbridge is gone. But if someone wanted to make a normal club of it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t.”

Ron grunted through a mouthful of eggs and gave Harry a curious look. After swallowing he said, “You don’t want to?”

“Me? Not particularly. But that shouldn’t stop someone competent from doing so if they wished. In any case, we’ve been here almost a fortnight and you’re the first person to bring it up.”

“Mmm, right. Well, I’m off for a nap.”

“Have you finished your assignments yet? You know Hermione will be all too happy to lecture you about responsibility if she finds out you haven’t.”

“Not you too,” Ron moaned as he stood.

“I would hate to see you lose the Captain’s spot, Ron. Professor McGonagall is showing her faith in you. Don’t you think it would be wise to live up to it? Besides, I do not want to have to take over for you, so if you aren’t careful I’ll start nagging you too.”

Ron threw his hands up in the air and slouched off, casting a look of betrayal over his shoulder before disappearing through the doors.

Harry chuckled and finished off his bacon. Several minutes later he was on the second level of the library, hunting down the statue Dobby had mentioned. As it was more of a wide balcony around the perimeter than anything else, Harry had to wind his way along, eeling between bookcases and glancing into alcoves as he walked. When he’d got approximately halfway around he finally saw a statue that seemed to fit the description.

Looking around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, Harry stepped up to the statue of a rather scared looking fellow and covered its eyes with one hand, feeling rather foolish in doing so. After a second sweep of the area, he leaned in and whispered, “Salvus Domus.”

Immediately a section of the wall behind the statue moved back slightly and slid out of the way, so he slipped around and crouched, moving awkwardly through the opening. Once through he turned and saw a switch, which he flipped, and nodded when the opening closed itself silently.

He stood up and looked around. The room was not large, but neither was it small. The walls were plain stone, softened here and there with faded tapestries and the occasional painting. High up on the far wall were narrow slits filled with bubbled glass, letting in enough light to see by, though not very bright.

Scattered here and there on small tables and in sconces were candles, most of which looked untouched. Harry spared a moment to wonder if Dobby would be cleaning in here now that he knew it was going to be used. A fireplace was centered on the wall to one side, a cradle next to it empty of any kindling or wood.

Harry lighted several of the candles to help brighten the room and selected a squashy chair to sit in, pulling one of the small tables over to write on. His bag was placed on the floor and from it he pulled the letter from Martin, parchment, quill and ink.

It might be wise of him to bring in extras to just leave here, he mused, then set about replying.

Dear Martin,

Odd paper? I suppose so. It was handy and there’s loads of it laying around here. I wouldn’t mind a book, but I wouldn’t dream of asking you for one. Perhaps you could let me know of a good title though?

I think it would be lovely if you started a class. Teaching can be a rewarding experience when you have people willing and able to learn. And like you, I’m not referring to what happened by that.

I do feel better, actually, though I’ve had some odd dreams of late. I’m not especially worried about them. They’re just strange and a little unsettling. Probably just a phase.

I’m glad that you’re getting on all right. As for my ‘sister’, she tried again, but this time she was quite straightforward about it. She also seemed to know before she even asked that it was hopeless. I suppose she did it because always before she was awfully oblique in manner. She seems quite happy about having another ‘brother’ though, so that’s all right.

I’m not sure, really, if I’m up to confiding in anyone. Sometimes it feels as though I should bear my problems alone. Like talking about them would only make someone else feel that much worse, or worst of all pity me.

Then there’s the other matter. You’ll forgive me for being indirect in how I mention it. I only just know and understand myself. I can’t conceive of trying to tell my friends here, never mind wondering how they’d react. It’s a rather frightening thing, all told.

Classes are fine so far. In an effort to not bring down the wrath of my friend for procrastinating I’ve been doing my assignments as soon as I have the chance to. At least it gets them out of the way so I don’t have to feel guilty when I do something for pure fun. And no more scrambling at the last minute.

Please don’t worry about me. I know saying that probably won’t change anything, but I can try, right? My first class today will be starting shortly, so I should finish up.

Harry

Once the letter was safely sealed away in an envelope Harry took out another sheet of parchment and started a letter to Moony.

Dear Moony,

All right? I haven’t heard from you since we left, though I admit I don’t know if you’ve had to be places. Things are fine here, and I’ll thank you again for explaining to me about the mail drop. Martin and I have been corresponding, which is nice.

My quidditch ban has been lifted in case you’ve not heard, so I’m back as Seeker. Ron has been made the Captain, and before you ask, it’s because I made sure McGonagall didn’t pick me. I really didn’t want it, and I may have to start nagging Ron to do his work promptly and well so it doesn’t get taken away from him and landed on my shoulders.

So far nothing really odd or bad has happened. Hermione says that Malfoy is still a thorn during Potions, but he’s been behaving himself so much in the classes we share that I really didn’t notice him even being there. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not to be honest. Am I simply too suspicious?

Please let me know how you are when you get the chance. I would love to hear from you.

Harry

After he’d tidied things away he started to wonder what time it was, muttering to himself because he’d not asked Moony to pick up a watch in Diagon Alley. Furthermore, he was starting to wonder if he’d brought the map with him to check to see if anyone was lurking about outside the panel to see him emerge and ruin his and Neville’s little secret.

That sent him back into his bag, rummaging around for the map, when movement caught his eye and he looked up to see the panel sliding open. He jumped to his feet and moved toward it swiftly, standing just to the side and out of sight. When he saw Neville’s head poke through he exhaled and said, “It’s all clear out there?”

Neville started, bumping his head on the top of the opening, then disappeared. Harry crawled through quickly after hitting the switch, getting clear before it closed up again.

After he stood he gave Neville a sheepish smile. “Didn’t mean to startle you, but I’m glad you showed up. I lost track of the time and don’t have a watch, or I think the map,” he said in a low tone.

“It’s just about time for morning break.”

“Next time I won’t forget the map. And maybe I can get Dobby to put a clock in there for us,” Harry said.

Neville nodded and glanced around. “Let’s go.” As they started to walk back toward the stair down he said, “Is it nice in there? I barely got a look.”

“Fair enough, and certainly more than big enough for two people and a bit of spellwork. It just might be a bit dim at night is all and there’s no wood for the fireplace. We can start using it no problem. Sunday, perhaps? It’ll give me time to talk to Dobby, and Ron will probably be scrambling to get essays done.”

“Brilliant,” Neville said.

*

Saturday was overcast, but no rain threatened. If it had been a game day that might have bothered Harry, given that the sun often glinted off the snitch and helped him to locate it, but this was a tryout.

Ron had his chest puffed out as he strode along toward the pitch, trailed by an assortment of hopefuls who alternated between chattering among themselves and looking nail-bitingly nervous.

Once everyone was settled Ron began his speech.

“Right, listen up everyone! We’re looking for two things: chasers and a reserve team. If you aren’t good enough to be placed on the team you still have hope as a reserve, so don’t think you need only try out for Chaser. If we can field enough reserves there’ll be people who may be able to fill empty spots directly they come up in the future, though a reserve is not guaranteed a place when that happens, just so you understand. Now, everyone who’s trying for Chaser stand over by the goals. The rest of you wait here and we’ll get to the next position as soon as possible.”

Several grueling hours later they’d decided on the new team members as well as the reserve positions. Ginny became one of the new Chasers (as well as one of the Seeker reserves based on past performance) along with the Creevey brothers. The remainder of the hopefuls had sifted out a decent set of reserves, so Ron took them aside and reinforced his earlier words before speaking to the group as a whole again.

“Our first practice is next Saturday at ten in the morning. Practices will be twice a week at minimum, Saturdays and again on Wednesday afternoons at four-thirty. If we end up needing more, I’ll see what times are left on the schedule. Dismissed!”

And then he strolled off the pitch, looking quite pleased with himself.

*

When Sunday rolled around, after a Saturday evening of chess and Exploding Snap, Ron was beginning to worry about his remaining assignments, so Harry was able to slip away to the sound of Hermione berating Ron about leaving it so long.

Harry had already spoken to Dobby, so when he arrived in his room at the library a clock was hanging on the wall and there was wood and kindling for the fireplace, as well as a selection of drinks and things to snack on, and a small bell they could ring in case they should have need of him.

Neville arrived right on Harry’s heels, so they sat down to discuss what to start with first.

“I don’t care which, Harry.”

“How about some defense first, and then when we tire we can switch to those traditions?” Harry suggested.

“Sure.”

“Then let’s go over what we did last year in the DA and when we’ve done that we can think about moving on, especially into what’s being taught this year.”

After making sure that the consumables were in a safe spot they started with the Disarming Charm. Harry went through each spell only a few times once it was apparent that Neville had kept his edge from the year before.

He was incredibly pleased to find that Neville had advanced enough to actually produce a Patronus. Though Harry said nothing at the time—other than to give Neville heartfelt praise for his accomplishment—he resolved to check into the meaning of the eagle that had emerged.

When they sat down to discuss wizarding traditions, Neville’s confidence increased as he patiently explained the subtle nuances that often—mainly influenced by pure-bloods—ruled their world. The flush on his face from their exertions faded as Neville became more caught up in what he was saying.

The ridiculousness of the material didn’t phase Neville; he explained everything with a seriousness that at odds with what he was saying. Harry couldn’t believe how trivial most of it seemed. Did people really care that there was an entire system worked out to determine exactly how wide the trim on robes should be to denote the degree of purity of blood?

Neville’s earnest expression showed there were. And with them, people who would sooner die than appear in public with the wrong length hair for their social status. Harry was still a bit confused, and said so.

“But I don’t really understand. So, all right, these are mainly pure-blooded customs. According to what you’ve said, your hair should be much longer, but it isn’t. Why?”

“Because my grandmother doesn’t hold with those ideals. She thinks a lot of it is just an excuse to feel superior.” Neville paused and flushed. “I’m not saying she doesn’t believe in common courtesy and manners. She’s quite strict in fact. But she won’t endorse something designed to—well, let me put it this way—the length of my hair doesn’t change who I am.”

“But she seems—” Harry stopped, afraid of being insulting.

Neville gave him a steady look. “She seems quite concerned that I’m not living up the family name and she worries that I’m not only practically a squib, but a coward. But she doesn’t obsess over the exact angle one should bow at.”

“Um. . . .”

“It’s not like I haven’t worried about it myself, Harry.”

“But you aren’t either of those things,” he protested.

Neville shrugged.

“You aren’t! Look here, there’s a difference between ability and knowing what you’re capable of. Confidence is part of that. Think about last year. You went from being really unsure about Defense to being one of the students that showed incredible improvement, and that was with your father’s wand. You had no idea of what you were capable of, probably because your magic didn’t show itself until you were older than normal.”

Neville didn’t look quite convinced.

“Don’t you think so? You don’t have to worry about what was in the past anymore because you know you can do it. You have done it, and we’ve all seen it. You even had the confidence to prove it by coming to the Department of Mysteries. You were really brave, Neville, and you kept right on going even when you had to borrow Hermione’s wand, and even when you couldn’t speak straight.”

“I suppose so,” Neville said slowly.

“I know so,” said Harry firmly. “And I admire you for it. Don’t sell yourself short, Neville. All you ever needed was patience and practice, that’s it. That’s all most anyone ever needed.”

Neville looked away for a moment and said, “So, you can see that even among pure-bloods there are two kinds, two philosophies.”

Harry took the hint and let Neville redirect the conversation back to traditions.