James stood in the yard, practicing his spell work. He still couldn’t believe the boy had gotten the jump on him. He was clearly out of practice. A few years ago, that would have never happened.
It seemed like nothing had gone right for him over the last few weeks, and it was all because of the boy. Ever since he solved the damn cypher, it had caused him no end of problems.
The only reason he had gone to see Fudge in the first place was because of the boy. How was he supposed to know that Fudge would record everything he said? It had only snowballed from there, and now Albus wasn’t even speaking to him.
Then there was the incident at the train station. He had gone there, ready to bury the hatchet with the boy. All he had to do was step up and do the right thing for the family, and the ungrateful brat couldn’t even do that much.
It wasn’t his fault that he lost his temper. Who wouldn’t be in that situation? To be disrespected like that, and in public no less? His father certainly wouldn’t have accepted that from him. Why should he?
He knew one thing for certain, though. The boy would pay for humiliating him the way he had. He got lucky, and the next time he saw him, he would make sure he knew it.
It was time for him to start planning, and to do that, he needed full access to the Potter fortune. The monthly stipend wasn’t going to cut anymore, not for what he was planning.
He had tried speaking to the law firm, but that always led to a dead end. The legal route clearly was not working, it was time to find a less than legal route.
Once he got access to his fortune, he could invest his money in the proper way and build his reputation back up. This whole business with Fudge was just a speed bump, and would be quickly forgotten by the public.
Albus would see that it was a mistake to turn his back on him, and would welcome him back with open arms. In time, he would even take a more active role in running the Order.
He would also get back at Fudge for blindsiding him. With the full might of the Potter fortune behind him, and the influence he would have because of it, Fudge would be lucky to get a job as a janitor when he was through with him.
James turned around as he heard footsteps crunching on the ground behind him. It was Lily. She was holding a newspaper in her hand. James sighed, wondering what it was now.
“James,” Lily said as she held out the newspaper for him. “Take a look at this.”
James unfurled the newspaper and began to read with some trepidation.
Harry Potter Scholarship Program Announced
By E. Limus
Harry Potter, the young man who recently solved Merlin’s Cypher, has dedicated part of his winnings to establish a scholarship program for the underprivileged with a goal of helping as many children as possible to receive a magical education.
Mr. Potter has taken an unorthodox approach to the rules of his scholarship program:
- The child’s parents/guardians must show they are unable to afford the costs of a Hogwarts education
- The child must maintain a minimum standard of acceptable across all of their classes by the end of term to continue into the following year
- The scholarship must be awarded to three students per year (with a goal of expanding to more students in the future)
- The scholarship program will provide all uniforms/equipment/books to the students for each year of Hogwarts attended.
The first rule is fairly standard across all scholarship programs, but it deviates quite a lot from there.
The other scholarship programs I was able to research before the printing of this article set the minimum standard of Exceeds Expectations, some even as high as Outstanding.
A few even went so far as to require repayment of the scholarship in full if the student failed to meet or exceed the grade requirement.
The mandate to award the scholarship to a minimum of three students per year has never been done before, so there is little to compare it to in that regard.
On average, a scholarship is awarded once every ten years to a single student, and none of the scholarships I have reviewed provide uniforms, equipment, or books.
This stipulation, along with the grade requirement, has put the scholarship students at a distinct disadvantage, which has resulted in a dropout rate of 80% in the first year alone.
The recipients for this year have already been chosen, but in the summer of next year the scholarship program will be open to apply for again.
Many of the standard scholarship programs available in Britain also allow students to apply every year, but have various stipulations and rules dictating who is eligible to apply and an extensive vetting process to make sure the chosen recipient meets with the expectations of the program administrators.
To apply for the Harry Potter Scholarship Program, perspective students are required to write an essay detailing what it means to them to be awarded the scholarship, along with what their plans are after completing their Hogwarts education.
James finished reading the article, his brows crinkled in confusion. Why was the boy bothering to give out three scholarships when only one was required for the tax right off, and awarding them every year? It was madness.
“This is just a waste of money,” James concluded. “We can use this to show he’s too immature to manage his money properly.”
“James,” Lily said, shaking her head. “He isn’t doing this for the money.”
“What do you mean? It has to be about 6000 galleons a year, right?” James asked.
“More,” Lily replied. “Every year there will be three new students the scholarship will pay for. By his 7th year it will be 42,000 galleons a year.”
“So he’ll be out of money in about ten years,” James agreed.
“No, he still has the rest of his money to invest with,” Lily reminded him. “That’s more than enough to cover the cost of his scholarship.”
“Then why’s he doing it?” James said, getting impatient.
“He’s doing it to build up his reputation. Everyone will believe that he’s doing this to help the poor. If we try to go after his prize money now, how’s that going to make us look?” Lily asked.
James nodded, conceding the point. It seemed that the boy had some brains, after all.
“What happened at the train station can’t happen again,” Lily warned. “Far too many people saw what happened. It’s the absolute last thing we need before going in front of the Wizengamot.”
“You saw how he treated us,” James replied angrily. “My father never would have put up with that.”
“Yes, he would,” Lily denied. “From what I remember about your father, he didn’t act unless there was something he could gain from it, and I know you’re angry with him, so am I, but we have to be patient like your father was, and wait for the right opportunity.”
“…You’re right,” James finally conceded. “You’re right. We’ll get this business with the Wizengamot sorted out, and then we’ll deal with the boy.”
Hermione glanced smugly at Potter, before focusing back on her own work again. They were in the middle of their first transfiguration class, and he wasn’t even paying attention.
While everyone else was focusing on turning their matchsticks into needles, Potter was just looking around, confused. He didn’t even have his wand out.
It was only a matter of time before Professor McGonagall noticed, and marked him down for it.
Harry looked around the classroom in confusion. There was something strange, almost like a buzzing feeling, that was distracting him. He couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, or even where it was coming from, but he had missed most of the Professor’s lecture because of it.
“Look here, class,” Professor McGonagall praised. “Miss Granger almost has it. She has turned her matchstick silver. A little more practice and you’ll have it. Keep up the good work.”
Hermione beamed at the compliment. As she looked around, she could tell no one else was even close. Aside from Weasley’s matchstick looking slightly more pointy, everyone else’s looked about the same.
“Mr. Potter, where is your wand?” Professor McGonagall asked as she walked up to his desk.
Hermione looked on, doing her best to not make it look obvious. This was the moment she had been waiting for.
“… Sorry Professor,” Harry replied. “I was a little distracted,” he said as he flicked his wrist, releasing his wand from its holster..
“Mr. Potter, when you are in my class, I expect you to pay attention. That will be five points from Gryffindor,” McGonagall said.
“Yes, Professor, it won’t happen again,” Harry replied.
“If you would, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said as he gestured to his needle. “I would like to see how much attention you actually paid.”
Harry stared at the matchstick intently. He knew there was no incantation. The transfiguration book said that it was just a matter of focusing on the end result and keeping a clear picture in your mind of what you wanted.
“You remember everything you have ever seen,” Merlin reminded. “Just focus on the image and push your magic through the wand.”
“I’m waiting, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall reminded him, inadvertently drawing the attention of the rest of the class.
Harry nodded, focusing intently on the picture of the needle in his mind. The sharp point on the tip, the length, the loop on the end the string was fed through, and the shine of the metal it was made from.
Harry let his magic flow through his arm, into his wand, where he focused and refined it, then released it. He watched as his magic enveloped the match, replacing it with a perfectly formed needle.
Professor McGonagall’s eyes widened as she stared down at the match Potter had just transfigured. She picked it up, looking at it from every angle, even testing the sharpness of its point.
“Very impressive Mr. Potter,” McGonagall praised. “A perfect needle. Take five points for Gryffindor,” she said, returning the points that she had removed earlier.
“See if you can help Mr. Weasley,” McGonagall instructed. “He seems to be getting close,” she said as she pointed to the slightly silver and pointy matchstick on his desk.
Hermione huffed as she watched the Professor award the points to Potter. He had probably hired a tutor before he even started Hogwarts. He certainly had the money for it, but she had gotten closer than anyone else in class without any of that.
Hermione resolved to study even more. She and Potter were not that far apart. It would only be a matter of time before she caught up with him.
“How’d you do that, Harry?” Ron exclaimed. “I didn’t even see you practice once.”
“You just have to focus on the details, Ron,” Harry explained. “Not just one of them, but all of them at once.”
Ron nodded, along with a few of their other classmates who were listening in. He realized he was more focused on the matchstick becoming thinner than the color or the point at the end.
He cast the spell again, and noticed the matchstick was noticeably more silver now, and had a sharper point at the end than before. He looked over at Harry’s needle, focusing on the eye of the needle this time, and cast the spell again.
Ron smiled as he stared down at his work. It wasn’t a needle yet, but it was getting there.
Harry looked around the Great Hall during lunch. He felt it again, that buzzing feeling that had been bothering him all day, but he was no closer to figuring out what was, or where it was coming from.
‘Merlin, do you feel that?’ Harry thought.
‘I do,’ Merlin replied. ‘I’ve been trying to find out where it’s been coming from since this morning.’
‘What is it?’ Harry asked, curiously.
‘It’s magic, but not the normal background magic for a place like this. Whatever is giving off that magic, it doesn’t belong here.’
‘We’ll work on honing your magical sense tonight and see if we can pinpoint where it’s coming from.’
Draco watched as Potter looked around, clearly confused, before finally sitting back down. What the heck was he doing? He had watched Potter over the last few days. He was clearly very capable.
After potions class yesterday, he looked up what Potter said about Wolfsbane. He was right. For whatever reason, the author had omitted it from the book. He knew he wasn’t the only one that came to that same conclusion if Granger’s attitude today was anything to go by.
At first he had thought Potter had done what all purebloods do before Hogwarts. Hire a qualified tutor to teach them the basics, so that they would have a leg up in the student rankings, but even the most strict tutor would not expect him to memorize the entire book.
Potter clearly had, because remembering what was in a book is one thing, remembering what was not in a book was something else entirely.
Draco remembered what his father told him… no, demanded, Draco corrected himself. He had to be at the top of the student rankings.
His father hired for him the best tutors money could buy, and they had spent the last six months teaching him everything he needed to know to climb to the top of the student rankings.
He had watched Potter brew the boil curing potion, his finished product was easily one of, if not the best in the class, and if the rumors were to be believed, he had also transfigured his matchstick into a perfect needle on his first attempt.
If something didn’t change, and soon, Potter would secure the number one spot in the ranking.
Ron sat across from Harry in the Great Hall, playing a game of chess. It was a short day today, so they still had some time before doing their evening exercises.
He was still a little stiff and sore from the exercises yesterday and this morning, but he couldn’t argue with the results. When he went to bed that night, he fell asleep almost immediately, instead of staying up late like he usually did, causing him to feel sleepy for most of the morning.
Now that he had a decent night’s sleep, it was much easier to concentrate in class. There was an immediate difference in his spell work, and how quickly he understood what the Professors were teaching him.
Yesterday he was near the bottom of the class, and today he was closer to the middle of the pack. He had a feeling it would only improve with time.
Ron refocused his attention back on the chessboard. This was their third game, and he had won the previous three, but Harry was learning fast, already picking up on his strategies and learning to counter them.
Harry stared down at the board, studying his pieces. Ron clearly had a talent for chess. It seemed like he was always three steps ahead of him.
Ron moved his pawn two spaces forward, making the first move, followed a moment later by Harry moving his bishop four spaces.
They had gathered a small crowd of students as they played. Harry had improved with each game, but it was clear to the students watching that Ron was the superior player.
Ron moved his pawn diagonally, taking Harry’s pawn. “Your move.”
“You should have seen that one coming,” Merlin chided. “I can help you know. The child is talented for his age, but I’ve played for decades.”
“No thanks, I want to do this on my own,” Harry denied.
Harry looked down at the board again, then smiled when he saw an opportunity to go on the offensive for once. He moved his bishop to take Ron’s knight.
“Wow Ron,” Harry said, impressed as they continued to play. “You’re really good at this. Do you already have the entire game already planned out?”
“Not the entire game,” Ron boasted modestly. “But I am thinking a few moves ahead.”
“Who taught you to play?” Harry asked curiously.
“My grandfather,” Ron explained. “He was the one that gave me the chess set, actually.”
Ron moved his bishop out, followed by Harry moving out his Knight.
Draco watched from his house table as the game progressed. He didn’t feel the need to crowd around like the other students, who had nothing better to do, but he was still able to get a clear view of the game.
As he watched them play, it forced him to reevaluate his opinion of the Weasley. It was easy to dismiss him on the train as being a fool, and their first day of classes hadn’t exactly disproven that, but today there was a definite improvement.
Between Granger, Weasley, and Potter, he had his work cut out for him if he wanted to impress his father and take the top ranking.
Ron moved his bishop. Seeing an opportunity to put some pressure on Harry, he took his pawn. “Checkmate,” Ron smiled.
“You’re improving,” Ron observed as Harry moved his knight to block.
Hermione glanced up from the Daily Prophet she was reading from her side of the Gryffindor table. She knew the basics of chess, but had little interest in playing herself. She was always more interested in reading.
Hermione had just finished reading the latest article praising Harry Potter. It was obviously a puff piece meant to put him in a good light, but even so, she had to concede it was a nice thing to do, regardless of his motives for it.
Ron got a bit more aggressive with his next move, and used his rook to capture Harry’s knight, putting him back in check.
Harry studied the board carefully as he thought about what to do next. A moment later, he saw a chance to make up some ground, and took Ron’s rook with his own, and also getting himself out of check.
Ron contemplated his next move carefully. This was the closest of their three games, and if he wasn’t careful, Harry could win this one. He moved his remaining rook to the right side of his board.
Harry took a moment to weigh the risk, but ultimately decided to move his queen forward. He wasn’t going to beat Ron by playing it safe.
Seeing another opportunity to keep up the pressure, Ron moved his rook, taking Harry’s bishop, and putting him back in check again.
Harry stared at Ron, then down at the board again. He was picking up on Ron’s strategies, but Ron had kept him on the defensive for the entire game. There had to be a way for him to go on the offensive at least once. There, he saw it. He moved his knight to take Ron’s bishop.
Ron smiled inwardly. Harry had fallen neatly into his trap. He moved his queen forward, putting Harry’s King in check once again.
“He’ll have you in two moves,” Merlin observed.
Ignoring Merlin, Harry moved his knight to take Ron’s queen.
Then he saw what Merlin was talking about. Ron had outmaneuvered him. He could only watch as Ron moved his rook, checkmating his king, and bring the game to an end.
“Good game Ron,” Harry smiled.
“Good game Harry, you were doing a lot better on this last game,” Rom complimented as the small crowd around them applauded politely.
“Do you mind if I have a go?” A Ravenclaw seventh year student said, from the crowd of watching students.
“Sure, I don’t mind,” Ron said as Harry moved over to give the seventh year some room.
“My name is Andre Egwu,” the dark-skinned wizard introduced himself and extended his hand for Ron to shake.
“Ron Weasley,” Ron replied, shaking his hand.
Harry and the other students watched as the game progressed. Both players moved their pieces at a much faster pace. Neither one spent more than a few moments looking at the board before they made their next move.
In just under ten minutes, both of them were down to their last few pieces, and in the end, it was Ron that eked out the victory.
“Good game, Ron,” Andre complimented as he stood up and shook Ron’s hand again.
“You too,” Ron agreed.
“Maybe we can have another match in the future,” Andre said as he went back to his table.
“Wow Ron, you’re really good at this. How long have you been playing?” Harry asked curiously.
“I’ve been playing since I was… six,” Ron said, thinking about it for a minute.
“You know, this can easily translate over to other skills,” Harry observed. “Have you ever thought about joining the dueling circuit? I think they have a junior league.”
“I never really thought about it,” Ron admitted. “How would chess help with dueling, exactly?”
“For dueling, the most important thing is predicting what your opponent is going to do next. If you can do that, you can control the entire duel.” Harry recited what Merlin had told him previously.
“Thanks Harry,” Ron smiled. Maybe this was something he could do to stand out. None of his brothers dueled professionally.
“I know that we have only just started the term, but I would like to hear your impressions of the first-year students,” Albus asked the heads of house.
“I think there are some very strong students this year,” Minerva answered. “With my Gryffindors the standout is obviously Harry Potter,” she said to the nods of Filius and Pomona.
“His spell work is flawless, and he has a very good understanding of the curriculum already. I would not be surprised if he secures the top spot in the student rankings.”
“Hermione Granger is also a top student. She has obviously read her text books ahead of time, and her spell work is definitely above average. She is usually one of the first students to correctly perform a spell.”
“Of my Ravenclaws, the one that has impressed me the most is Oliver Rivers. He has a singular focus on learning as much as he possibly can. He’s devoted much of his free time to making sure he has his assignments completed, and his spell work mastered. If he keeps it up, he will easily become one of the top students as well,” Filius added.
“As I recall, he is a recipient of Mr. Potter’s scholarship fund, is he not?” Albus asked.
“He is,” Filius confirmed. “I had a chance to speak with him earlier today. He’s planning on teaching the rest of the children in the orphanage what he’s learned. That’s why he’s working so hard on his studies now. He’s even invited me to come to the orphanage to speak to the children this summer,” he smiled proudly.
“That’s wonderful,” Pomona smiled, which was quickly echoed by Minerva and Albus. “I can say the same for one of my students, Wayne Hopkins. He’s also a recipient of the Harry Potter Scholarship. He’s keen to learn, perhaps not as much natural talent as some of the other first years, but his determination will easily make up for that,” she praised.
“The obvious stand out for me is Draco Malfoy,” Severus praised. “He has obviously been taught the first year material ahead of time, and his work in my class has been excellent, thus far.”
“Good, good,” Albus praised. “Are there any problem students we need to be aware of?”
“Aside from the usual suspects, it’s a little early for that, Albus. Some students are just nervous. We should have a better idea of that in the coming weeks,” Minerva replied.
“Thank you then, for indulging me,” Albus said, dismissing them. “Severus, if you wouldn’t mind staying behind, there is a personal matter I would like to discuss with you.”
When they were both sure the other professors had left, Severus turned to Albus. “I assume this is about the Potter boy?”
“Yes,” Albus nodded. “I would like to get your first impression of him.”
“The boy has a certain amount of arrogance to him, not nearly as much as his father, but it’s still there,” Severus answered.
“Oh?” Albus prompted.
“He challenged me in class,” Severus explained. “He tried to correct me on the contents of one of the potion reference books,” he said, omitting that the boy had turned out to be correct.
“I see,” Albus said, “and the other thing I asked of you?”
“I put as much pressure on him as I could without making it obvious,” Severus answered. “The boy has read the texts and retained a good amount of the information,” he praised reluctantly.
“I would like for you to continue,” Albus ordered.
“What is the point of all this Albus?” Severus asked. “I hardly see the need to put this much effort into forcing a meeting with a first year.”
“He isn’t just any first year,” Albus explained. “When the time comes, he will make an excellent recruit for the order, so we must do what we can to ensure he remains out of the clutches of Fudge, or the dark families.”
Harry stood inside of his mind with Merlin, staring at the walls of the stone room within his mind. As far as he could tell, there were no changes since last time.
“Don’t expect any major changes for some time, Harry,” Merlin chided. “Even with me teaching you, it will be a slow process.”
“What was it I felt today?” Harry asked, thinking about the buzzing feeling he had felt throughout the day.
“There is something within the school that is leaking magic, and a fair amount of it as well,” Merlin explained.
“Leaking magic?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Merlin nodded. “An enchanted object is imbued with magic, and overtime the object can become damaged, either due to wear and tear, or physical damage. When this happens, the object leaks magic until it eventually becomes inert,” he explained.
“The curious thing is, this object should be leaking magic consistently, but it’s intermittent, and the magical leak should slow down over time, but it remains steady. This means the object was likely designed to expel magic for some purpose.”
“What do you think it is?” Harry asked.
“I’m not sure. We will have to find it to learn that.”
“Ok, how do we start?” Harry asked.
“The first step is to detect your own magic,” Merlin explained. “Close your eyes, and concentrate on looking inward. When you feel your magic, you will know.”
Harry closed his eyes, following Merlin’s instructions as best as he could, but he couldn’t really feel anything.
“Concentrate, Harry, start by identifying what you can, and move forward from there.”
Harry felt his lungs first, as he breathed in and out, the air coming in, then being expelled back out. He felt his chest moving with each breath, then he concentrated on his heartbeat as his blood pumped through his veins.
Then he felt something different, a spark. It was only for a moment, then it was gone again.
“Good, concentrate on the spark, Harry,” Merlin praised. “That’s what you’re looking for.”
Harry delved deeper within himself, searching for the spark again. He was able to hold on to it a little longer this time, before it disappeared.
“Keep trying Harry,” Merlin instructed. “You were much closer that time.”
This time, when Harry searched for the spark, he was able to find it and hold on to it. It felt warm, welcoming.
“That’s it Harry, that’s your magic,” Merlin explained. “The next part is a little tricky. Everything that generates or uses magic resonates with the magic around them.”
“You need to nudge your magic, basically push it outwards. When you do, you will feel the other magics pushing against it.”
Harry did what Merlin instructed, nudging his magic, picturing it vibrating in his mind’s eye. Then he felt it. Waves of his magic rippled outwards, and he could feel five distinct objects pressing against his magic.
“Your dorm mates,” Merlin explained.
“That’s neat,” Harry smiled. “But I’m not sure how it’s going to help. I still can’t tell one from the other, and with all the other students in the school, how am I supposed to find the thing we’re looking for?”
“That will take time and require practice,” Merlin explained. “The more you use this skill, the longer your range will become, and the more details you will notice. I suggest you practice whenever you can.”
“The object we’re looking for is powerful, and will push harder against your own magic than your dorm mates. That will help us find it.”
What do you think of Arc 2 so far? James’s trial will be coming up soon and Albus’s plans for Harry are getting a little more clear. How do you feel about the training sequences with Merlin? I’m trying to slowly build up Harry’s skills so that he doesn’t come off as too overpowered.
Thanks for reading and supporting me!