Merlin’s School for the Gifted
Headmistress Hepple sighed as she sipped her morning tea. As per her usual habit, she was at the school an hour before anyone else arrived. Today, a Muggle-raised child would be coming into the school and she wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.
She had been sympathetic when she had heard his tragic tale, but that didn’t mean that she wanted the disruption this would cause. He would be years behind his classmates since magical education began at seven on Avalon. He would also be bringing all sorts of Muggle ideas with him. The very things that the residents of the island sought to avoid. She, herself, had never been off the island.
It perhaps sounded cold, but making sure that he did not last the week at the school would be for the best. He would most likely be better off with private tutors anyway. In this school, he would always feel like an outcast. Maybe in a year or so, he could try again once he had some of the basics learned.
Her mind determined, she set about preparing for the long day ahead.
Harry hadn’t told his godfathers about Merlin yet. He wasn’t sure they would let him keep Merlin around and Harry was sure that if he just kept trying, Merlin would eventually be persuaded to teach Harry all of the ancient magics needed to smite his enemies and conquer the world.
Merlin had agreed to remain hidden for a while. He wanted to observe for a bit and get caught up with the times. He made it so that only Harry could hear or see him. He had taught Harry how to project his thoughts to Merlin if he wanted to speak to him when others were about.
Currently they were flying to school. Harry on his broom and Merlin floating like ghosts could. Sirius had wanted to accompany Harry, but Harry had persuaded him not to. Harry didn’t want to seem like he needed a parent around to protect him.
“So in the Muggle world they travel in things called cars that run on fluid made from ancient fossils?” Merlin had been quizzing Harry non-stop on how the modern world had progressed. They had quickly moved on to Muggle innovations since it didn’t seem like the wizarding world had any as far as Harry knew.
“Something like that, yeah.” Harry answered. “Not that brooms aren’t great and they do cause a lot less pollution, but cars hold more people and have comfortable seats and protect from the rain and cold. Some sort of mix between the two would probably be just about perfect, I imagine.”
“Well, maybe that is what you can do when you get older, make new magical inventions.” Merlin suggested. He had learned that Great Brittan had a royal family that they were happy with, so it wasn’t like he had to raise Harry to be a King. To be honest, being a magical inventor sounded much better to Merlin.
“Maybe, there have been a lot of things that I have seen that I would like to change.” Harry replied. “I really can’t say much about Avalon yet, but when I was at Hogwarts, everything seemed about as backwards as it could get.”
“Things like what?”
“Well, why use messy quills when Muggles have invented pens that hold their own ink and don’t splatter? Why parchment instead of easily produced paper? And don’t even get me started on how they taught magic in a horribly roundabout fashion. Instead of just telling us how to make things happen, they kept teaching crazy wand motions and nonsense words.”
Merlin realized that Harry must not have been in school very long at all if he hadn’t learned that the motions and words were there to help focus the magic so it would do what the wizard wanted. Merlin opened his mouth to explain, but they had arrived already at the school. He shrugged. He would tell Harry later when he was doing his homework.
There was a rack outside that held a variety of brooms, Harry found an empty slot and set his in. “Well, let’s go see what awaits us here. Sirius told me to go to the Headmistress’ office and that she would get me sorted into a class.”
Merlin just nodded and followed Harry in. He would do his best to keep quiet and not distract the boy. Even if he didn’t particularly want to teach him, he still wanted Harry to get a good education.
The interior of the school was plainer than Hogwarts, and it looked older. It certainly wasn’t a towering castle. It only had two floors and looked like an ancient version of Harry’s primary school. The main office was easily located near the beginning of the main hallway.
Harry knocked on the door that said ‘Headmistress Helen Hepple’ and a woman’s voice called for him to enter.
Headmistress Hepple was a statuesque woman with steel grey hair. She was dressed in bottle-green robes with gold buttons. “Ah, young Harry, I presume?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Harry replied respectfully.
Helen motioned for him to sit down in one of the chairs in front of her desk while she sat down on her side. Harry noticed that the office looked a lot more normal and organized that Dumbledore’s had been.
“Welcome to Merlin’s School for the Gifted. First off, we will do some tests to see what classes you should be put into. If you are unable to pass some of the tests, don’t feel bad. Students here start at the age of seven so you are a few years behind. It will just mean that we have to make other arrangements.” Such as you being home schooled, she thought silently.
“Sure.” Harry replied. “ What would you like me to do?”
“Let’s start with transfiguration.” She handed him an apple. “Can you turn this into an orange?”
“Of course.” Harry replied to her surprise. He looked down at the apple and willed it to become an orange just as he had learned in his first day of transfiguration with McGonagall.
Helen Hepple was struck speechless. He had done that wandlessly and wordlessly. “Harry, can you tell me how you did that?” She asked as calmly as possible.
Harry nodded; of course she would want to know if he understood the theory. “Transfiguration is using magic to turn one object into something else. You focus your magic and tell it what you want and it changes the object.”
“Well, um, yes, I guess that is what you do.” She replied in shock. “Excuse me for a moment, will you? I just remembered something urgent I need to do.” And with that she rushed out of the room.
“Huh,” Harry said, “Maybe she had to go to the bathroom all the sudden.”
If Merlin hadn’t been a ghost all ready, he would have been as white as one. “Harry, tell me something…do you have any unusual birthmarks?”
Harry wrinkled his brow at the odd question but answered anyway. “Yeah, I have a red one on my hip that looks like one of those Roman laurel leaf thingies. Why?”
“No reason, just curious.” Merlin prevaricated, trying to deal with the shock. He needn’t have worried; Harry wouldn’t have been able to pull the sword from the stone, that wasn’t his destiny at all. “Harry, tonight I think I will need to speak with your guardians after all.”
Harry looked at Merlin strangely—old ghosts were weird. “Sure, whatever.”
Headmistress Hepple returned along with a tall young man with short brown hair. “Harry, I would like you to meet the head professor for the eleven year old class, or as we call them, fourth years. His name is Professor Thomas Thrope. His specialty is transfiguration.”
Harry offered his hand, “A pleasure to meet you.”
Professor Thrope shook his hand. “You as well, I understand that you are transferring from Hogwarts? Headmistress Hepple thinks that you might have learned a new way of transfiguration there that I would find interesting.”
Harry shrugged, “Well, the way they taught it was to tell us some silly words and wand movements to make stuff happen. I figured out, however, that that was just a test to see if we could figure out how to really do it.”
“Oh, and how was that?”
“You just focus on what you want and it will happen.” Harry replied.
“Could you demonstrate?” Professor Thrope asked. “Could you turn, say, the chair into a mirror?” He deliberately named something that he hadn’t learned until he was out of school preparing for his masters. He wanted to know if he had really understood Helen’s babbling.
“Sure.” Harry walked over to the chair he had been sitting on and focused on making a mirror, suddenly he looked up, “Um, what kind of a mirror?”
“A standing one would be fine.” Thomas ignored Helen’s mumblings behind him about needing a drink.
Harry focused back on the chair and a moment later it was an elegant standing mirror.
Thomas Thorpe now wished that it were still a chair so that he could sit down.
“Are you all right, sir? You look ill.” Harry asked. In fact, he and the Headmistress were the same shade of green. Harry took a step back. He had had the stomach flu once and that once was more than enough.
Helen finally found her voice. “Harry, is that how you do all spells? Just will them to happen?”
“Well, yeah. Isn’t that how everyone does it?”
“No, I am afraid that most of us need the wand waving and silly words you mentioned.”
Harry frowned. “Are you sure? Have you ever tried doing it my way? I mean, if you are told that you need wand movements and words and you believe it, then might that make it so that you never try it a different way?”
The two educators looked at each other, was Harry right? Did they only do things this way because they never thought to try differently?
Merlin was quiet; he wasn’t quite ready for everyone to know of his presence. Harry was right, up unto a point. Normal witches and wizards could learn to do little things without words and wands, but they would never be able to do so with the ease Harry showed. What Harry could do was tied entirely to his blood.
Headmistress Hepple didn’t know what to think. She had no idea what to do with Harry. “Harry, I will need to discuss your skill with some of the other teachers here. Would you come back tomorrow at ten with your guardians so we can discuss how best to educate you as a group?”
Harry was perplexed, but he didn’t let it worry him. One more day of no school was no skin off of his back. “Sure, I doubt they will be busy. Last I knew, their plans for the week included arguing about how to decorate.”
“Very good,” Helen said as she showed him the door. “I will see you all then.” After the door had shut behind him she turned to Professor Thrope. “Drink?”
Lucius walked up the stairs of the main entrance with a spring in his step. Behind him were representatives from the International Wizarding Educational Accreditation Council, or the IWEAC for short.
When Lucius contacted them to find out when Hogwarts had last been inspected, he had been shocked to find that Hogwarts was unaccredited and that diplomas from the school carried no international weight. In other words, if Hogwarts students wanted to seek employment in other countries, they would first need to pass that countries accredited tests in order to prove they had the needed skills.
It turned out that the pass rates for these students was incredibly low due to how poor the educational standards were at Hogwarts. When Lucius had presented these facts to Minister Fudge, he had immediately given Lucius permission to invite the IWEAC to review Hogwarts to find out what would be needed to make them accredited.
Lucius had wasted little time and within a few days, three representatives had been sent. They had actually been trying for some time to convince Dumbledore to let them in to inspect the school. They had been worried about the quality of the graduates.
There was Della di Firo from Italy, Gaston Noel from France, and Marcus Grant from America. Della was an expert in Charms and transfiguration and Gaston Specialized in Potions and Herbology.
Marcus held masters in both the Dark Arts and Defense of the Dark Arts due to the fact that in America Dark Arts were allowed as they fell under the freedom of expression portion of the constitution. As long as they were not used to commit a crime or assault, they were perfectly legal. All of them were familiar with the requirements needed for the other courses offered at Hogwarts as well.
They would have needed more experts had it not been for the fact that Hogwarts didn’t even bother to teach magical arts, foreign languages, or government and culture. There were so many classes missing that other schools took for granted.
Due to being a school governor, Lucius could enter the castle any time he wanted without informing Dumbledore first. A power he shamelessly used today. He had timed things so that everyone would be in the great hall for lunch.
Lucius pushed open the doors to the hall and entered with his three guests. “Headmaster Dumbledore, there is something that has come to my attention that needs to be dealt with immediately.”
Dumbledore was startled mid bite and started to cough as things went down the wrong way. “Um, ahem, Lord Malfoy, what is the problem?”
“Why have you refused to let Hogwarts become an accredited school? Because of that fact, the current diplomas here are useless internationally.”
Dumbledore paled. “I, um, well…” He thought quickly—there, when in doubt, rely on Hogwarts’ reputation for greatness. “I did not feel that the international standards were quite up to those that we had here.” He said with all the bravado he could muster.
“Ridiculous.” Della exclaimed. “In the past ten years, only thirty students passed the international NEWTS out of the hundreds who have attempted it from this school. Many of them said that they would have had no chance at all if their parents hadn’t hired private tutors for them.”
“Headmaster, I have brought these three in to review the Hogwarts curriculum and teaching methods in order for them to make the recommendations needed to bring the school up to date and make it competitive with other schools. You can agree to let them in, or you can resign. It is up to you.” Lucius added.
Dumbledore could feel the eyes of the entire school on him. He knew that he had no choice. “Of course, they are welcome, but I think that they will find that this is an exemplary place of learning.”
Lucius grinned. “We shall see.”