Dinner, Deliberations, & Discovery
I know the second scene is a bit of an infodump, but while it's not critical per se, it does serve a purpose. After all, if you don't know who the players in Harry's universe were and what he thought about them, you don't have any basis for comparison when he meets the new versions in this world. Oh, and people? If you're going to leave an anonymous review, can you leave an email if you're going to ask questions? Because it makes it rather impossible to reply if you don't.
After leaving Ollivander's, Harry noticed his mother was strangely silent as they made their way to Flourish and Blotts Bookseller. "Mum?" She made a vaguely inquisitive noise, reminding him a bit of how he handled Hermione in those last days before coming to this world. Maybe that's where he got it from? "I'm still Harry, you know. I just have a… well, a bloody awesome wand."
"Language, Harry." Lily stopped for a moment and sighed before turning and hugging him tightly. "I know you are, sweetie. It's just… that wand is older than Hogwarts. And you called down a bolt of lightning from a clear sky. That's not what I was expecting. I mean… I have a galleon bet with your father as to whether you'll get a charms-friendly wand like mine or one that favors transfiguration like his. How am I going to explain that thing? Or the fact that his son temporarily turned into his daughter, and I still don't know what to make of that. Or do about it."
Harry held his wand up and grinned, leaning on his past experience handling what he now assumed was Thor's wand as he willed it to emit a tiny bolt of electricity from the tip. "Well, for the first part of that… simple. You tell him it's a charms wand and if he won't give you the galleon, I'll zap him in the arse till he does. We can split the take nine-eight. As for the girl-me part? Repress it. I know I am."
After mulling over that suggestion for a bit, Lily shrugged. "Good a plan as any, I guess. But you'd better believe I'm going to run a bunch of tests on that thing before September 1st. And if you turn into a girl again, I want to know right away. The last thing we need is you getting stuck like that. Not that I'd mind a third daughter, but I'm guessing you'd object to it being you."
Rolling his eyes, Harry followed his mother into the store. Rather predictably, Lily made a beeline straight for the charms section while he chose to make a slow circuit of the store, opening random books as he went. With his newfound bookworm reputation, Harry figured that if he got an advanced book or two, he could get away with using at least some of the spells he knew by the end of first year or maybe partway into second at the latest. And who knew? This world might turn out to have a book or three that didn't exist in his original world, meaning genuine new things for him to learn.
Harry was glad that his parents provided him with a galleon a week in allowance, giving him more than enough money to buy a pair of books on his own before his mother made it up to the counter. The rest of his selections became a pile next to hers on the counter and as the clerk rang up their purchases, Harry covertly used wandless magic to shrink the two he'd already purchased before sliding them into his pocket. The two-dozen new books were bagged and shrunk by the clerk and then, after a quick stop to pick up parchment and quills, the pair returned to the Leaky Cauldron so they could floo back home, lunch forgotten thanks to the delay at Ollivander's.
Upon their return through the floo, his mother abruptly murmured a destination he didn't hear and disappeared back into the emerald flames. Shrugging, Harry made his way up the stairs to his room, where he got to work restoring his various purchases to their full size so he could sort through his new belongings. He quickly came to the conclusion that he needed somewhere to stash them if he wanted use of his bed between now and September 1st, and there was nowhere suitable in his room.
That had in turn inspired a trek up to the attic in search of a trunk he could 'liberate'. Thanks to the Four-Point Spell, Harry had no problem tracking down two separate trunks with his mother's name of them, one of which also responded to his request to be pointed at 'Lily Evans' schoolbooks'. After a moment's indecision - the trunk without the books was bigger and sturdier looking - he opened both and used a quick spell to swap the contents. Lifting the book-filled trunk with one idle flick of his wand, he floated it back downstairs and into his room, unloading the unneeded books onto the shelves he'd gotten his mother to add to his room. Now with plenty of room for his newly purchased belongings, Harry continued to flick his new wand to and fro, opting to pack everything he didn't think he'd need between now and the thirty-first into the trunk.
Well, that was only part of the reason he was packing early, if he was honest with himself. The other reason was that he really needed to get back into the habit of using a wand to focus his magic instead of doing it all wandlessly. Although getting used to his new wand soon proved to be a trial in and of itself; compared to both his old holly and phoenix feather wand and the wand that evidently had belonged to Thor before coming into his possession, Thrúd's wand was like moving up from a Cleansweep to a Firebolt. For the first time in years, Harry found himself having to actively work to keep from overpowering his spells. Considering he technically wasn't even supposed to be doing magic yet, the last thing he needed was to make something spontaneously combust, explode, or go flying through a wall.
Each of his black robes was folded neatly and packed into the trunk, along with his hat, tie, and a few other odds and ends that hadn't needed to be tailored. The box full of ingredients from the apothecary went inside his cauldron, as did his scales and vials, just to minimize the space they would consume. Casting a critical eye around his room, he flicked his wand and began summoning some of the books he'd want to bring so he could keep reading them without relying on the library at school to have copies. The rest could go in the night before if he hadn't read them by that point.
"Harry James Potter!" A particularly thick text on the history of the Potter family slammed into the side of his head as his mother's voice broke his concentration, making him stagger as it dropped to the floor. Looking over at the doorway, Harry found his mother standing with her hands on her hips, reminding him a great deal of Molly Weasley. "With who your father is, I would think you'd be familiar with the phrase 'Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery'. Do you want to get a warning before you even go to school?"
Well at least she'd caught him using his new wand, rather than doing it all wandlessly. That'd be a bloody nightmare to explain. As it was, he was damned lucky she was too being angry to realize he hadn't been using incantations… while working at a fourth year level. "Mum? Have you ever asked Dad how the Ministry monitors children? Or look into it while you were in school to see if you could get around it?" Lily shook her head slowly and Harry gave a grim smile; he'd been pissed as all hell at the example of institutional discrimination when he'd found out. "I saw it when I was paging through Ten Things You Don't Know About Your Ministry
, which is why I had you buy a copy. The Ministry has no way to track the use of any one wand, so they point a sensor at the home of each muggleborn who sends an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. They can't do that for houses with even one magical parent, because then if you used a spell, I'd get a letter. So…"
Lily's eyes went wide before narrowing in anger. "So purebloods and half-bloods get to practice magic all they like, while muggleborn students are forced to only do theoretical work every summer?" Harry nodded. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! I'm going to go write a letter to the Daily Prophet
and tell the whole world about this injustice!"
With that, she whirled and stomped off down the stairs to points unknown, muttering things under her breath that children were definitely not supposed to learn from their parents. Operation: Distract Mother From Advanced Silent Magic was a success. Harry grinned and made a flicking motion with his wand to close the door. Looking down at it, Harry raised an eyebrow as he realized that his new wand felt so much like an extension of himself, he didn't really feel an urger to use wandless magic anymore. What made it so different from Thor's wand, he wondered, or his original? Dumbledore had always used a different, secondary wand when they dueled… had he feared losing a feeling like this? Was this what was wielding the Elder Wand was like? Was it even better?
Soon enough, Harry had his new trunk sorted and packed. The golden flower and 'Lily' in cursive script had been removed; just because he loved his mother didn't mean he wanted to be known as a mama's boy at school. Instead, the lid of the trunk now bore his own name bookended by a war hammer and an axe. He liked it; while the tastefully minimal amount of gold said 'wealthy but not a berk about it', the weapons just screamed 'badass'. Out of packing related work to do, Harry decided to start jotting down a list of names for his evening project, only to be cut off two-thirds of the way through as he heard footsteps ascending the stairs to his floor once more. Closing his journal, he lifted one of his bed's pillows and slid it beneath before summoning a spare book to him so he'd look busy when she arrived. "Alright, done." Looking up from his supposed reading material, Harry watched his mother wave a roll of parchment at him before using it to gesture back over one shoulder. "Want to come help me cook dinner after I send this off?"
Was it dinnertime already? Huh. Well, it had been after lunch when they returned to the house because of the mess at Ollivander's and he'd been up here working for a while. Time flew when one was working hard, evidently. Closing his book, Harry slid off his bed and stretched before grinning. "I suppose. But only if I can use my wand. And I bet you the other nine sickles from that galleon that Dad won't notice until I'm hovering the food onto the table."
After pondering that for a moment, his mother grinned. Maybe she was feeling rebellious because she disagreed with the Ministry's policies about underage magic now that she knew about them… or maybe she just wanted him to do more work. Harry wasn't sure. "Deal. And you're on."
Following behind his mother as they left his room behind and descended the stairs to the first floor and then onward to the ground floor, Harry took a quick mental inventory of what proteins were still in the fridge for consumption. There wasn't much, at least not that he could remember. Tomorrow was market day, after all. "Any idea what we're doing for dinner? Grab all the leftovers, throw them in a skillet, and serve up what comes out?"
"No, garbage mayo and garbage pot pie are more Dora's thing than mine." Lily entered the kitchen and crouched down, opening one of the cabinets beneath the island. Rooting around inside, she let out a noise of triumph before reaching up and placing a blue and yellow can on the counter. "You know, James is supposed to be home for once. What do you think we can do with these cans of Spam you picked up last time you went to market? And if you think I don't know where you must have gone to get muggle mystery-meat-in-a-can, you're wrong, young man."
Harry held his hands up in surrender and offered up his best attempt at an angelic expression. "In my defense, if they made wizard mystery-meat-in-a-can, I wouldn't have to leave the area I'm not supposed to leave to get mystery-meat-in-a-can."
"I thought so."
In the end, the Spam became Spam in the Hole, James complained vocally about 'unnatural muggle meat', and Harry ended up winning a galleon that night.
Upon returning to his room that night, Harry retrieved his journal and got back to work on the project his mother's request for cooking assistance had disrupted. Namely, a list of all the students in his year so that when he returned to Hogwarts on September 1st, he would know who to make an effort to befriend and who to pass over. After all, he did have the advantage of knowing who these eleven-year-olds - or at least one version of them - would grow into as adults? Why not use that information to make slightly more informed decisions than he had the first time around, like he had with Su? Granted some of his information would inevitably be off or flat-out wrong; Neville was a perfect example of the former, as was Parvati, while Su was a case of the former. But even just having hints to work from would allow him to sink his claws into the real keepers of his year at Hogwarts, while avoiding the ones he was better off not associating with.
With the basic list established, Harry began to sort through the students and cross out those he definitely didn't want to deal with. Gryffindor had five boys in it - four if he didn't count himself - and none of them looked promising. Seamus was just another one of the wizarding world's blind sheep and since he had no idea how they'd bonded the first time, Harry didn't know how to keep Dean from being pulled into that black hole a second time. Neville was out of the equation for obvious reasons and even if through some strange twist of fate Ron wasn't a jealous, irrational, and dim-witted little boy in this dimension? He wasn't sure he could tolerate Ron's presence for any extended period of time without pummeling him for things that this Ron had yet to do and might never do.
Hmm. Maybe Su was on to something with her idea that the two of them should be sorted into Ravenclaw?
The girls of Gryffindor were likewise uninspiring to him: Parvati, Lavender, Hermione, Jen, and Kellah. Hermione was unappealing to him for the same reason as Ron. Parvati and Lavender were… intellectually mediocre, flighty, and considering he was planning to avoid Divination this time around? Why would he want to invite one of the school's two miniature Trelawneys into his life? Not to mention that this dimension's Parvati seemed like a real bitch. Kellah wasn't half-bad, but shared the same problem as Dean, orbiting Seamus opposite her fellow dark-skinned Gryffindor. And Jen… she was a nice enough girl, if painfully shy, but while Hermione sought to bring her muggle worldview into wizarding society and impress it upon uninterested people, Jen had made it clear from her first year that she felt deeply uncomfortable in the wizarding world and planned to live among the muggles after graduating Hogwarts. Why spend seven years getting close to someone who was planning to bolt as soon as she could?
Ending up in Ravenclaw would be a bit of a crapshoot for him: there were two wizards from the house who had served the light side well during the war, but there were also two wizards he knew nothing about and one he wanted nothing to do with. And with his luck, if he got sorted to Ravenclaw then it would be one of the former who got bumped from the dorm to make room for him. The girls, on the other hand, included one he was already befriending, three future Dumbledore's Army members, and one enigma. So yeah, Ravenclaw was looking like a pretty good idea from where he was sitting.
When it came to Hufflepuff, the odds were slightly better than in Ravenclaw: he genuinely liked three of the boys in his year, didn't know one, and outright disliked the fifth. And so while there was a chance that he might displace one of the three decent boys - or the unknown one - accidentally, there was also a chance he'd give Zacharias Smith the boot and he wouldn't mind that at all. Not to mention that all five of the Hufflepuff girls from his year had been members of the DA who possessed varying levels of power and skill.
Slytherin… actually, there was a slightly smaller chance of him killing one of his dormmates if he ended up in the house of snakes, albeit with a wider range of targets for him to pick from. He couldn't name a Slytherin boy he didn't despise and the prospect of spending seven years in a dorm with Draco Malfoy was loathsome. The girls… Bulstrode and Parkinson were right up there on his 'kill if you think you can get away with it' list, Davis and Teague were dark but neutral, and Daphne Greengrass… Harry winced as he thought back to how they'd first met. While he had no objections to the idea of befriending the fiery Woodbridgian pureblood again, he hoped that if it came to pass that it would be under better circumstances than it had been in his original universe.
There was also the matter of one Tara Malfoy. While he wasn't sure she was in his year - while she did look his age, she could have been a slightly older girl who didn't look her age or a younger girl who looked more mature than she was - he was going to assume she was until he learned otherwise and… where would she go? How would they get along if he was sorted into the same house? What would her brother think or do if they began associating? Would this world's Draco even care about him, seeing as how he wasn't the Boy-Who-Lived here? The original Harry's journal had been rather sparing when it came to details about the girl; he'd evidently avoided her since she generally only appeared when Cassie was already present and he'd done his best to avoid the half-veela.
Looking over some of the names left on his list, Harry furrowed his brow as a plan began to form. What if he convinced his mother to have Narcissa over for an afternoon and he'd host a tea party for Tara and any friends she wanted to invite over? With him doing the work, she couldn't really complain and it would give her a free afternoon with her friend while he hopefully made a new one. Or more, if he was lucky. After scratching that idea down on a spare piece of parchment, Harry went back to plotting his future. Something abruptly occurred to him: considering the Sorting Hat had narrowed it to Gryffindor and Slytherin the first time, was there any reason to believe it wouldn't do so again? Therefore, was it worth considering what he might do if placed in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff? And if that was the case… well, he knew exactly where he'd be going because there was no way he was going to be a Slytherin. Perhaps, then, he ought to focus more on potential future friends and networking than what color he wanted his robes trimmed with and who would be in his dorm?
Tapping the end of his quill against the side of the ink pot, Harry considered one of the names he'd previously crossed out. Despite his overwhelming desire to jettison her before she could become a problem that bit him on the ass, Hermione had too much potential to ignore, especially if he could sand off some of her rough edges. Hmm. Maybe he could talk to Hermione on the train and convince her to pursue placement in Ravenclaw with Su? She would definitely have an easier time of things there, where studying and extracurricular spell work were the norm rather than the exception, and would enjoy the intellectual stimulation of housemates who preferred reading to partying. Perhaps that would be enough to keep her from bowing to peer pressure this time around or - if she couldn't manage that - she would at least bow to the pressure of peers with far less obnoxious habits. Not to mention… if she never had Ron's presence forced on her due to their respective friendships with him, was there even a chance of her developing certain undesirable traits? Writing the words 'must have' and underlining them, he then copied Hermione's name down underneath before moving down to the Ravenclaw section of his list.
In addition to being an environment more conducive to learning, the house of eagles also held a number of potential friends and allies that just weren't present in Gryffindor. Terry Boot had been a great help in the war against Voldemort, as had Anthony Goldstein. Mandy Brocklehurst and Lisa Turpin had both been members of the DA of moderate but not particularly noteworthy power, but Padma Patil had been both decently powerful and extremely bright. The Indian witch would make a good companion for Hermione if the group broke into pairs, Harry mused; they were roughly equivalent in both intelligence and spell power, and would be great sparring partners for each other both on the dueling strip and in the library. He didn't necessarily need both of them in his inner circle, given he was already planning to have one Ravenclaw and another witch who was as good as, but there was no such thing as too much brainpower in his book. Harry added a 'maybe' column and put Padma there before moving on.
Su… Su had been a genuine joy to spend time with in his old world and this world's version of her seemed even warmer and friendlier, at least to those she found worthy of her time. Suddenly, he paused. He'd promised he'd write her a letter and send it over with Silver Star, hadn't he? Harry jotted down a reminder for himself on his scrap parchment before writing Su's name beneath Hermione's in the 'must have' column and moving on.
The boys of Helga's house were a veritable minefield, Harry realized as he stared at the list: Smith was a firm 'no' but out of the remaining boys, two were big enough unknowns that he had no clue how to go about befriending them, one was safe enough, and Justin Finch-Fletchley… was a liability.
While he obviously didn't have anything against them, Justin was a 'mudblood' and he already planned to have one of those in Hermione. Harry really didn't need another close friend he'd be stuck defending because people would discriminate against him based upon his parentage. And he really didn't want to cull Hermione to make room for someone who - while nice enough - was someone he didn't really know that well. That didn't mean he couldn't try and be friends with Justin, though, just that he wasn't going to try and share a dorm with him or turn him into the new - and improved - Ron.
The next two names on his list came as a package deal as best Harry could tell but since both Hannah Abbot and Susan Bones were witches worth befriending in his book, it was hardly a problem. Hannah Abbott had been part of the DA and gone on to date Neville; they'd been engaged when they died in the final battle. He wouldn't mind having her at his back, especially given the vicious curses he'd seen her use on people who insulted Neville. Susan Bones had also been a bright young woman, soaking up his DA lessons like a sponge. What else would one expect from the niece of Amelia Bones, though? Like Su, both had grown into gorgeous young women. Which, while a lesser consideration compared to their personality, intelligence, and talents… was still something he took into consideration. If all other things were equal, why have a Pansy Parkinson when you could have a Daphne Greengrass?
Megan Jones, Sally-Anne Perks, and Siobhán Williams were all cute, decent students, and members of the DA too. Siobhán's accent had been thick enough to grate on him a bit when he tried to work with her in the DA, but maybe if he spent more time with her here, he'd get used to it? Any one of them could provide him with a decent friend and an ally in Hufflepuff. Assuming, of course, that Hannah and Susan didn't pan out. Harry frowned, scratched his nose with the end of his quill, and then wrote 'Pick a Puff' beneath Su's name. Granted he might end up with two if he picked Susan or Hannah, but that wasn't necessarily a problem. The more the merrier, as long as they were genuine, loyal, and useful.
The few remaining names on the list all came from Slytherin and if his tea party idea fell through or they weren't on the invitation list, Harry had no idea how he'd approach any of them. Tracey Davis wasn't entirely unpleasant for a Slytherin but his main contact with her had come through Daphne Greengrass. And even if he ended up in Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor, he wasn't quite sure how he'd go about approaching Daphne if he didn't meet her on the train or before September 1st. And Harry really didn't want to wait till his sixth year - or let Voldemort rise to such a level of power - in hopes that he could swoop in and save her from attempted rape, which had been the spark that ignited their friendship the first time around.
And Branwen Teague… he had absolutely no clue what to do there. Like Megan, Sally-Anne, and Siobhán, he'd be swinging in the dark if he attempted to strike up a friendship with her but on the other hand, the challenge might actually be fun. Also, assuming he couldn't deal with Voldemort completely before he managed to create a new body for himself, he would need eyes in the dungeons to keep tabs on the junior Death Eaters. Tracey, Daphne, Branwen, or Tara would be invaluable there. Assuming Tara went there. She was a Malfoy… but she seemed to be closer to her mother than her father and Narcissa seemed tolerable enough in this world.
Actually, Tara would likely end up factoring into his plans as more than just 'eyes', Harry realized. If he was using her to get to her friends, he'd have to get close to her… and could he do that and then get away with jettisoning her by the first day of classes? Not bloody likely, especially if their mothers were close. Which, in a way, solved one of his more difficult problems: even if he couldn't get his party, he'd have Tara and… then again, that assumed she was receptive to his advances. Damn. Being Dumbledore was harder than the headmaster had made it look.
Hmm. So Hermione, Su, maybe a Hufflepuff, and preferably a Slytherin. Likely at least twice the size of his original inner circle with the potential to be significantly larger if he ended up with two Hufflepuffs, Padma joining them, or both Tara and one of her dormmates, but that was fine with him. And then the year after, Luna would arrive along with a whole new crop of students that could be evaluated and potentially incorporated into his plans. And if it turned out that Hermione and Su were the only two he could befriend from his own year, he could always try for multiple new friends from Luna's year or even someone from the year ahead of his just to meet someone new. And of course this didn't include just plain friends and acquaintances, which he hoped to have many of now that Hermione and Ron wouldn't be stifling his social life.
So in order… make nice with Tara, find out who the girl was friends with, ask Lily about the tea party idea, push until Lily agreed to the tea party, and then do his best to turn the tea party into a network-building experience. He'd even offer to do more cooking if that was what it took; he definitely needed to see who Tara's friends were and hopefully befriend either Tara, one or more of her friends, or both.
Muttering softly to himself, Harry scratched the end of his nose with his quill again and then went back to plotting.
"So let me get this straight… all this was your idea?"
"You made the tea and scones all by yourself?"
"Actually they're not scones, they're Cornish splits, but yes."
"But you're a boy."
"Your powers of observation astound me, Pansy." The rest of the girls tittered as Harry softened his joke with a smile; the last thing he needed was for Pansy to get genuinely upset at his joke and either leave or sit there sulking through the rest of tea. "But yes, I made this. My sisters are pants at cooking and I actually wanted to learn, so my mum switched some of our chores because it means less work for her and less wasted food." As the girls stared distrustfully at the food on the table, Harry rolled his eyes and leaned in. "Fine. I'll eat one first and when it doesn't kill me, you'll know they're safe."
Su let out a little snicker at that and reached in to smack at the back of his hand. When he recoiled, she took one of the splits and tore it open before setting the halves on her plate. "I trust you, Harry. I'm sure if you were trying to kill us, it'd be through poisoned tea that you'd already taken the antidote for or something." As she sat there spreading strawberry jam on her split, the rest of the girls stared down at their cups of tea uncertainly. "That was a joke."
Raising her cup to her mouth, Tara took a long sip before setting her cup back down on the table. Then her eyes rolled back in her head and she flopped limply against the back of the sofa, making the other girls scream and shoot to their feet. They were halfway down the hallway that connected the sitting room and the kitchen when Tara's soft giggle brought them to an abrupt stop. "It's just tea, girls. Merlin, you lot are jumpier than the aurors that come to my house."
Resisting the urge to laugh at the prank Tara had just played on her friends, Harry watched the girls return to the sitting room and take their seats again. Lily poked her head in and looked around curiously, only to retreat when Harry waved her off and mouthed 'nothing'. Picking up her cup again, Hannah Abbott took a sip of tea before addressing Tara's comment. "Well excuse us if we're a little freaked out. Boys are supposed to be out playing quidditch or planning gross pranks to pull on girls, not baking and hosting tea parties for them."
"That's just what the oppressive patriarchy wants you to think so that you don't question the gender roles you're being forced into and attempt to usurp their control of society." The girls turned to stare at Harry with wide eyes and he snickered. "Now I know what I looked like the first time Mum said that to Cassie. That means that you get told there are 'boy' things and 'girl' things because the old men are afraid of girls growing up and trying to kick them out of their cushy jobs of telling people what to do."
Hannah let out a soft 'oh' of comprehension. "Then why didn't you just say that?"
"Because saying it my mum's way makes me seem smarter?" Hannah giggled as Harry took the knife from Su and split his own pastry, smearing it with jam and clotted cream before offering the knife up to Pansy. The dark-haired future Slytherin eyed it for a moment before taking it and picking a split for herself. Turning his attention to Susan Bones, Harry took a bite from his split and then gestured at the redhead with it. "Look at your aunt, though, Sue. "Err, do you mind if I call you Sue?" She shook her head and Harry looked from her to Su and back before frowning. "…although I probably shouldn't when you and this Su here are in the same room because it'll get confusing fast. Anyways, Susan, your aunt has a job in a mostly male Ministry, in a department where there are only half a dozen other women and one of them is my cousin Dora, who's still in training. If your aunt and Dora can do that, why can't I like making pastries and talking to girls?"
Falling silent as they contemplated that, the rest of the girls served themselves and began to eat their splits. Sitting back, Harry let his eyes roam over the eight girls who'd come over for the afternoon. Su was his sole invitee apart from his coconspirator Tara and seemed happy to see him. He wasn't going to jinx it because there was still a chance he'd blow it between now and then, but between their meeting at Diagon Alley and the handful of letters they'd exchanged since then, it seemed like a nice friendship was forming between them. Tara herself had sent out a handful of invitations to a combination of what passed for her friends and the 'right' girls that she was obligated to invite due to their respective social statuses. Pansy fell into the former category it seemed, which didn't especially surprise Harry; she'd been linked to the House of Malfoy in his reality and so why would that change here? Their parents probably encouraged the friendship, even, because it would serve as an excuse to have Draco and Pansy in close proximity so they could start getting used to each other. Then there were Daphne Greengrass and Tracey 'Not-Greengrass' - an introduction that earned Tara a filthy look from Daphne but no further explanation - whose stiffness around Tara and Pansy made Harry think that they fell into the latter category. There was probably a story behind it, but Harry doubted trying to bring it up would make for an enjoyable tea.
Somewhere in the middle of those two groups sat Susan, Hannah, and Branwen Teague. While they obviously weren't the best of friends, each of three got along with Tara well enough. Especially Branwen, who had brought out a facet of Tara that Harry hadn't been aware of: she was bilingual. Or rather that she was bilingual at a minimum; Harry had learned from the letters they exchanged that Su spoke three languages fluently and so there was always the possibility that Tara spoke three or more languages too. But when the girls broke their silence and began conversing in pairs, it quickly became Su and Pansy in one group, Hannah and Susan in another, Daphne and Tracey a third, and Tara and Branwen ended up engaged in a conversation that smoothly switched back and forth between English and Welsh. Which… actually ran contrary to his hopes for the day, he quickly realized. While he was glad Su was making a new friend - albeit one of questionable familial affiliation - he'd been hoping to get to know some of these girls. As of right now, he was just the weird boy who liked making tea and pastries for them. Time to change that. "So… what subjects are you looking forward to most at Hogwarts? I think I'm probably going to do best at either Charms or DADA because of who my parents are."
"Probably Potions." Tara abruptly frowned and reached up to touch an emerald pendant she was wearing. "Although I'm hoping my godfather grades me fairly. I want to have the highest grades because I'm the best in the class, not because he's friends with my father."
Harry let out a snort at that. "I could be the best and I'd still get flunking grades in Snape's classes." Tara eyed him and Harry mentally winced; was the history between him and Harry's parents not widely known here or had it just been kept from Tara by way of her rather one-sided exposure to the participants in the feud? "My father and his friends didn't exactly get along with Snape, and when it comes to him and my mother… well, that's even more complicated."
Looking between the two, Su snapped her fingers. "Well that's easy to fix, isn't it? You should bribe Tara until she agrees to be your partner in class. Well, assuming you end up in houses that take Potions together. But that way, he can't mark you down without marking her down and if he's really that close to her family, I bet he wouldn't do that because it'd make her father angry."
After a second, Pansy let out a low whistle and brought a hand up to rest on Su's shoulder as she leaned in conspiratorially. "So, just out of curiosity… do you like green and silver?"
"Your son organized, cooked for, and is hosting a tea party for my daughter and her friends. After completely reversing his position on her and going from avoiding her like the plague to befriending her."
"That's not normal preteen boy behavior, Lily."
"And those comments about Severus, you, your husband, the Marauders…"
"I know, Narcissa! Damn it. I get it. You were right and I was wrong." Sighing, Lily ran a hand through her hand and looked back over her shoulder in the direction of the sitting room. Things had settled down since the scream earlier and now all she could hear was conversation punctuated by loud laughter. "What are we going to do about it, though? James doesn't even know you're visiting, and doesn't pay enough attention to Harry that he'll seem different now."
Narcissa considered that as she lifted the spoon from her bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream, her tongue flicking out to lap up a tendril of melted ice cream and thoroughly distracting Lily from her thoughts about Harry. When she began speaking, though, Lily forced her mind out of the gutter and back onto the topic at hand. "There's no saying we need to bring him into this, you know. The two of us can confront 'Harry' ourselves and deal with things. Stun him, bind him, and interrogate him. Depending on what he says, that's when we'll talk to your husband or our niece."
While it seemed equal parts crude and violent to Lily, it was hard to argue with due to the fact that she couldn't come up with anything better. Her mind went to work quickly, fleshing out the barebones outline Narcissa had offered: she could sneak something into James's food or cast a charm to keep him asleep through it all, and the twins and Dora could sleep through a giant attack. Lucius wouldn't be an issue; he was out of the country at the moment, which was why Narcissa had the freedom to drop by Potter Manor for most of an afternoon. Letting out a deep sigh, Lily nodded. As much as she didn't want to, it had to be done. "Alright. Come back tomorrow morning at half four. Harry goes for a run every morning at five; we can lay in wait for him in the kitchen and nab him on his way through." Narcissa nodded and Lily shoveled a spoonful of strawberry cheesecake ice cream into her mouth, then a second, before giving voice to the concern nagging at the back of her mind. "And if we're wrong and it really is Harry? Not that it looks very likely, mind you, but I'm just saying… what if? Because we should probably have a contingency plan ready just in case or he's going to tell James and things are going to get really awkward really fast."
"…I'm not too bad at obliviation?"
Clad in sweatpants, a t-shirt, and his well-worn trainers, Harry slowly crept down the stairs, being careful to avoid the two that squeaked when stepped on. Reaching the ground floor, he turned and made his way towards the kitchen, intent on exiting the house through the back door for his morning run only to be brought up short by a soft moan. It wasn't until he heard it again that his brain processed the noise and where he'd heard it before, and he went Gryffindor red.
His parents were shagging. In the kitchen. Eww!
Turning away to head for the front door, Harry was brought up short a second later as he heard another distinctly feminine moan… from someone other than the source of the first two. "Mmm, Lily…" Jaw dropping, Harry turned back to the kitchen door and stared at it in disbelief. His mother and… or was his father and his mother and… what the bloody hell?
Harry took a step towards the kitchen before freezing. Did he really want to… after all, at least one if not both of his parents were… finally, morbid curiosity won out and he approached the door. Taking a deep breath, he pushed it open and then paused. His mother was standing in front of the kitchen island, leaning over a figure who had their long, pale legs wrapped around Lily's waist. Both were still dressed, but from the heated kisses they were exchanging and the way their hands were roaming, Harry wasn't sure if that was going to be the case for much longer. While he'd never seen anything quite as disturbing as his own mother in the middle of a romantic encounter, he'd seen some pretty damn disturbing things during his patrols as Head Boy and so he was able to keep his head and focus on the important things. Namely how to best embarrass his mother and her mistress. Smirking, he thought back to a particularly hated but always hilarious woman and her distinctive way of announcing her presence. "Hem hem."
"Harry!" Straightening up, Lily turned around and smoothed her shirt down, lips swollen and hair mussed from the activities he'd interrupted. "This isn't what it looks like."
Leaning to one side, Harry caught a glimpse of an all too familiar black-haired woman before his mother slid a step to the right, blocking his view. "So you're not cheating on Dad with a woman and shagging her on the kitchen counter at five in the morning?"
Lily looked a bit embarrassed at that, glancing back over her shoulder at her paramour. Narcissa propped herself up on her elbows before straightening up, arms wrapping around Lily's waist from behind as her chin came to rest on the redhead's shoulder. "Actually, to be fair, you interrupted us before we could actually get to the shagging part."
"That makes it so much better."