James and Lily strolled into the office of Elphias Doge. He was one of the top solicitors hired by the pureblood families. Whenever a proper pureblood needed something to be swept under the rug, or certain laws to be bent, he was more often than not, the man they went to.
“Hello Lord and Lady Potter,” Elphias said as he stood up from his desk to greet them.
“Thank you for meeting with us on such short notice,” Lily replied graciously as she sat down, well aware the man was James’s best hope of walking out of the Wizengamot hearing in one piece.
“Think nothing of it,” Elphias smiled as he observed the customary pleasantries the pureblood elites were so fond of. “I was more than happy to clear my schedule for such a prestigious family.”
“I have a hearing coming up in front of Wizengamot soon,” James cut to the chase. “We want to hire you to represent me.”
“Yes Lord Potter, I’m aware of the situation,” Elphias replied. “I will be honest with you. This will not be a simple case to win. The Minister publicly aired his grievances with you, and what he presented cast not just you, but the entire Wizengamont in a bad light. That is their true concern.”
“Skeeter printed the article in some French tabloid,” James scoffed. “She couldn’t even get the article printed in Britain. That should tell you how credible this story is.”
“Regardless of the credibility of the article, I suspect the Prophet did not print it at the behest of your fellow Wizengamot members,” Elphias explained.
“What do you mean?” Lily asked. “They’re the ones putting my husband on trial,” she pointed out. “Why would they help us?”
“Lady Potter, a public trial is the last thing the Wizengamont wants,” Elphias pointed out. “The content of the article forced their hand. They can not be seen to ignore the law.”
“Think of the chaos that would occur if the general public believed their government held themselves above the law.”
“Well then, what do we do about it?” James asked.
“We mitigate the damage,” Elphias explained. “We will shift the blame to the Aurors, explaining that they wildly overstepped their authority, and that you had no intention of harming anyone with your actions.”
“Do you think that will work?” Lily asked, hopefully. “James won’t be in trouble?”
“Lady Potter,” Elphias sighed. “There is no scenario where Lord Potter will escape punishment. We must focus on keeping Lord Potter out of Azkaban, and keeping the fines and possible restitution to a minimum.”
“Azkaban!?” James asked in shock, the reality of his situation finally hitting him.
“Yes, Lord Potter,” Elphias confirmed. “That is a possibility.”
“I can’t go to Azkaban,” James said, shaking his head fearfully.
“I will do everything I can to prevent that,” Elphias promised. “But you must also do your part, Lord Potter. Stay out of the public eye. In fact, don’t even leave your home until the trial is over.”
“We’ll speak a few more times before the trial. I’ll go through all the questions I’ll ask, and what answers to give, but it is important that you tell me everything. I can’t defend you properly if you hide something from me.”
“Alright, we can do that,” Lily promised.
“There’s one more thing,” Elphias said. “Your son, Harry Potter. I heard a rumor that you had an altercation with him recently. Is there any truth to that?” He asked, having heard the rumours.
“I wouldn’t go that far…” James said.
“Yes,” Lily interrupted. “They had an argument, and Harry cast a spell at James,” knowing that lying now was of no use.
“Your son has an excellent reputation with the wizarding public,” Elphias explained. “Is there any way for you to mend your relationship with him soon? It would go a long way in helping us with your trial.”
James burned with anger as he thought about the boy. It was all his fault this happened in the first place. If he had just done what he was told, none of this would have ever happened.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to do that before the trial,” Lily replied.
“I see,” Eliphas replied. “I will look into other avenues in the meantime.”
“There’s something else,” James said. “The Potter fortune is held in trust. It’s been that way since my father passed. I want to get direct access to it.”
“My focus for now must remain on the trial, but after that, I can certainly look into it for you,” Eliphas offered.
“Alright,” James agreed. “After the trial.”
Harry looked around the Great Hall as he ate his breakfast. It was early in the morning, and the tables were only half filled.
“Alright, Harry?” Ron asked from beside him, noticing how distracted he was.
“Yeah… I’m just thinking about the study group,” Harry said distractedly. “I’m not sure what to do about it. What do you think?”
“It sounds good to me,” Ron replied. “All of them are top students, so it couldn’t hurt, right?”
Harry thought about telling Ron what he sensed in the library, the magical object, but he wasn’t sure where to begin. Should he tell him about Merlin? Would he even believe him? Would he think he was crazy?
There were questions he was still asking himself about it. Was it a coincidence he detected the object in the presence of the study group? Was the object even dangerous to begin with? They didn’t really give him any cause to doubt them. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“I wish Ben was here,” Harry said offhandedly. “He would know what to do.”
“Who’s Ben?” Ron asked.
“He’s a friend. I met him during the summer,” Harry explained.
“So why not just right him?” Ron asked.
“He’s in America,” Harry explained. “I don’t think an owl will be able to fly that far.”
“I couldn’t help but overhear,” Andre said as he walked past. “Did you say you need to write a letter to someone in America?”
“Oh, hi Andre,” Harry replied, not hearing him walk up. “Yeah, it would be great if I could.”
“Then what you need is a messenger Hawk,” Andre explained. “They’re more expensive than a regular owl, but much faster, and can fly longer distances easily.”
“Thanks Andre, I’ll look into that,” Harry smiled.
“If you’re serious about buying one, I can use the next Hogsmead weekend to visit Diagon Alley and pick one up for you,” Andre offered. “I think it’s coming up next month.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I’m actually going to Diagon Alley this weekend anyway,” Harry declined politely.
“Oh?” Andre asked curiously. “Did you get special permission from the Headmaster?”
“No,” Harry shook his head. “As long as I’m not missing a class, I can leave Hogwarts grounds anytime.”
“That’s handy,” Andre replied. “How’d you manage that?” He asked curiously.
“I’m emancipated,” Harry explained.
“Right,” Andre nodded in understanding. “That’s definitely going to be useful, especially when you’re older.”
Hermione watched the exchange between Harry and Andre, feeling another wave of jealousy. She really didn’t think it was fair that Harry kept getting special treatment like that. He should have to follow the same rules as everyone else.
“Why do you need to go to Diagon Alley?” Ron asked curiously.
“The Minister suggested I do an interview with the Prophet,” Harry explained. “He said it would be good publicity for my scholarship program.”
“The Minister?” Ron asked in surprise. “As in the Minister for Magic?”
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed, “Why?”
“You know Minister Fudge?” Ron asked, as the rest of the Gryffindors perked up at the new gossip.
“We met after the Vault,” Harry explained. “I’ve talked to him a few times, actually. He’s really nice. He helped me out with getting the scholarship approved in time for the start of the school.”
Draco watched from his house table at the news Potter had so casually dropped on everyone. How was he supposed to compete with that? Top student for the year, his own scholarship program, meetings with the Minister for Magic?
Before he came to Hogwarts, he had dreams of following in his father’s footsteps, becoming the top student for the year, building alliances, gaining influence, but as hard as he tried, he always seemed to fall short.
The top student for the year was Potter, and every day the gap between them widened. He was forced to battle for second place, against a muggle born of all people.
For someone who was raised to believe his blood would carry him through, it was a tough pill to swallow. He was losing to a half-blood, and more often than he would like to admit a muggle born as well.
Draco unfolded the letter his father sent him a few days ago, reading it over again.
I asked your godfather Severus about how you were settling into Hogwarts after your first week. Imagine my surprise when he told me you were not first in the rankings, but third, and if that wasn’t bad enough, you are losing to a half-blood and a mudblood.
I hired you the best tutors that money could buy, and after they trained you for half a year, this was the result? Was that just a waste of galleons or are you not putting in the effort you should be?
You are the heir to one of the richest and most influential families in Britain. Act like it!
The next time I speak to your godfather, I expect to receive a glowing report of your progress.
When he first received the letter, he was overjoyed. His father was writing to him. He tore open the envelope, eager to read what he had to say, but his excitement died a quick death as he read through the letter.
Draco wanted to lash out, challenge Potter to a duel, but one look at him casting spells during class brought that idea to a quick end. He didn’t think he would stand much of a chance, even with Crabbe and Goyle backing him up.
Draco stood outside with his fellow Slytherins and the Gryffindor first years. It was time for their first flying lesson. It was a waste of time, in his opinion. He had already learned to fly when he was seven.
As Madam Hooch droned on about safety and proper hand holds, he wished first years could try out for the house teams. It would certainly go a long way to show his father what he was capable of, and that he was taking his duties seriously.
He already had a broom at home, and he knew he had the skills to make the team easily. Perhaps as a chaser now, and later on, when he proved himself the seeker.
Draco looked at the broom sitting on the ground beside him and sighed. It looked to be about twenty years old, and barely functional at this point.
The rest of the brooms on the field looked no better. If he was going to show Flint what he was capable of, it certainly wouldn’t be with these brooms.
“Alright everyone, stand by your brooms and say ‘up’,” Madam Hooch instructed.
Draco held his hand out, following the flying instructor’s directions. He frowned, looking down to see his broom flopping around on the ground like a fish. They were actually worse than he thought.
“UP!” He commanded more forcefully, hiding his wince as the broom handle slammed painfully into his open palm.
Draco looked up to see that both Potter and Weasley were also holding their brooms, but it was another ten minutes before the rest of the students were ready.
“Now, I want all of you to mount your brooms and hover in place only,” Hooch instructed.
Draco easily mounted his broom, followed by most of the other students, but that’s when it became exceedingly more difficult. It felt like the broom had a mind of its own, and it took a lot of work to just keep it in one place.
Predictably, it was Longbottom that seemed to have the most trouble with his broom. Draco watched as it became even more erratic as Longbottom panicked and he started knocking over the other students.
Madam Hooch ran over, trying to grab hold of the broom, but it was too late. Longbottom shot straight up into the air, hanging onto the broom for dear life. He only came to a stop when he reached the top of the astronomy tower.
It surprised Draco the broom could even reach that high, considering the condition it was in.
That was when things went from bad to worse. The broom started moving again, smashing into the castle walls, spinning from end to end, and doing its level best to buck Longbottom off.
The broom launched Longbottom face first into the castle wall after a particularly vicious turn a few seconds later. The students could only watch in horror as he crashed painfully into the side of the castle before gravity took over, and he started to fall.
Neville screamed in terror as gravity took over, flailing his arms, and trying to grab onto anything he could before he crashed in to the ground.
His fingers caught a ledge, but he was moving too fast. He felt his shoulder being wrenched out of his socket with a wet pop, and then he lost his grip, falling again. His short life flashed before his eyes as he got closer and closer to the ground. He shut his eyes tightly, waiting for the inevitable, but as the seconds ticked by, nothing happened.
Neville opened his eyes, wondering what was going on. He looked around in confusion. He was still in the air, but he wasn’t moving anymore. As he looked down in confusion, it all became clear. It was Harry. He had his wand pointed at him, and he had an intense look of concentration on his face.
Neville breathed a sigh of relief as Harry slowly lowered him the rest of the way to the ground, feeling a searing pain in his shoulder once he touched down.
“Are you alright?” Madam Hooch asked as she rushed over to him.
Neville nodded his head shakily, croaking out, “I think so, but my shoulder… It hurts.”
“Let me have a look,” Hooch asked as she prodded his shoulder gently. “It’s dislocated, I’m afraid. Come on,” she said, helping him up. “Madam Pomfrey will get you fixed up,” she said, leading him back to the castle.
“Excellent reflexes, Mr. Potter,” Hooch complimented. “Take forty points for Gryffindor. Until I return, I want all of you to stay off your brooms unless you want to get expelled.”
Draco looked at Potter in stunned silence. He caught Longbottom with a Wingardium Leviosa as he was falling, and all without even verbalizing a spell. Adult wizards would have struggled to act as quickly and as accurately as he had.
Hermione had a similar look on her face. From where she was standing, she had a clear view of both Neville and Potter. His arm had just been a blur as he tracked Neville falling to the ground, catching him before he hit the ground.
Like everyone else, she had just watched in shock as Neville fell. She hadn’t even thought to pull out her wand. It had all happened too fast. She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding, relieved that Neville was going to be ok.
When she could think clearly again, she looked at Potter, surrounded by the rest of their housemates, as they congratulated him.
She wondered what kind of training Potter could have received to do that, as a realization finally dawned on her. Potter wasn’t faking it. He wasn’t using cheap tricks. He really was that skilled.
With that realization came another. How was she supposed to catch up to him, let alone surpass him now?
Albus sat in his office, looking at the student rankings for the first years. Harry Potter held the number one spot, and by an ever widening margin as well. Even with Severus going out of his way to make things difficult for him, he succeeded. The boy was hard working, charitable, and humble, impressive even for someone thrice his age.
He had heard the gossip around the school, how Harry saved the Longbottom heir during their flying class. In many ways, the boy reminded him of himself when he was younger.
He could see now, he had devoted far too much time and resources to Glory, trying to turn her into something she would never be.
Albus had worked very hard to make the wizarding world what it was, shaping not only government policy, but the very minds of the next generation. It was still not enough, though. He needed something more, someone to carry forward his vision, his ideals. Otherwise his name would be relegated to a dusty tomb in the Hogwarts Library, like so many others before him. He couldn’t allow that. He refused to be forgotten.
The path forward was clear. Harry Potter would be his apprentice, his protégé. Harry would make sure that his ideas lived on.
To do that, he had to find a way to make up for their disaster of a first meeting. He had to get the boy to trust him, and most of all, he had to find out who this mysterious person was that was training him.
The letter from the boy’s solicitor added another complication to his plans. Any contact he had with the boy would have to be about Hogwarts business, at least until he gained his trust.
Harry stared at the stone room inside his mind. He could already see some improvements since the last time he was here. The walls were slightly smoother than before, and so was the floor.
“You’re doing well, Harry,” Merlin complimented. “I’m sure you’ve noticed your reflexes are a little sharper, and you can remember things a little faster.”
“I have,” Harry agreed. “Are we here to make more changes?” he asked curiously.
“Yes, but nothing as drastic as before,” Merlin replied. “Look at the desk and the books.”
Harry started looking at the books on the desk, noticing that quite a few of them were his Hogwarts textbooks, along with a few that he had read at Potter Manor.
“The books represent what you have learned,” Merlin explained, “but do you see how they’re just placed haphazardly on the desk?”
“Yes,” Harry nodded.
“Organize the books on the desk,” Merlin instructed.
Harry looked through the books, organizing them into a neat pile with the spines facing out.
“Good. When you arrange the books this way, it will be easier and faster for you to remember what you’re looking for,” Merlin explained. “Now think about the boil cure potion, visualize the list of ingredients.”
As Harry thought about the potion, he saw his potion’s text flip open, and the pages turn, stopping at the relevant page. As soon as he had the information he needed, the book dropped back on the desk with a thud.
“That’s what happens when you recall something,” Merlin explained. “You get the information, then the book goes back into the pile. From now on every night I want you to organize your books. Think of something, then put the book back in order. With practice, you can train your mind to put the books back in the proper place automatically.”
“Ok,” harry agreed. “Was there anything else you were going to teach me?”
“Yes,” Merlin nodded. “You’re prepared enough to learn about my life now,” he said as the room faded away.
“I was born in a small village in the year 800 AD,” Merlin said as he and Harry stood in a small hut. “The town still exists to this day, Carmarthen.”
Harry looked around the hut in surprise. Were they really in Merlin’s memories?
“Yes, we are,” Merlin replied, answering Harry’s unspoken question.
“That’s me over there,” Merlin said as he pointed to the small child on the bed, then pointed to the woman by the fire. “That’s my mother Hunith. She worked as a medicine woman to support us, making primitive versions of the potions you use today.”
“What about your father? Where is he?” Harry asked curiously.
“My father.. Balinor, he left before I was born,” Merlin explained. “He had to flee, to protect both me and my mother. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I met him.”
“Why did he have to leave?” Harry asked as they watched Hunith tend to the fire.
“The king of these lands at the time was a man named Uther,” Merlin continued. “He believed that magic was unnatural, demonic, and he did everything he could to stamp it out.”
“My father had been careless. Someone saw him cast a spell. They reported it to a guard, who then reported it to the King. He had to leave to keep us safe, and my mother had to pretend he died during the winter, and that my father was just a man she met after he passed.”
“The rest of the village shunned her after that. They called her things that don’t bear repeating, but she kept the secret to protect me.”
“This king, why didn’t the witches and wizards try to stop him?” Harry asked.
“Things were much different back then. We weren’t as organized as you are now. We didn’t have schools, nor the population you have now.”
“The magic users of my time were largely self taught. Nothing was ever written down, just passed down from parent to child. If you were a muggle born, and were lucky enough to find a witch or a wizard, they sometimes took you on as an apprentice.”
“We could never risk organizing or forming communities. We would have been easy targets for the various warlords, slavers, and despots that ruled back then.”
Harry watched as the scene changed. An older Merlin walked down a dirt path with his mother. He looked to be about eight years old.
“My mother was not a witch,” Merlin continued, “but my father taught her enough to find the right plants to make potions she could sell. We sometimes searched the forests for days just to find the right ones.”
“You didn’t grow them like we do now?” Harry asked.
“No,” Merlin shook his head. “For some of the non-magical plants it was possible, but for the magical ones, they don’t just require the right soil conditions, but also the right ambient magic to grow. It would be much later that our kind discovered how to do that.”
“By this point, the townspeople were getting suspicious. I started having bouts of accidental magic. To protect me, my mother hid me away in our hut. She didn’t let me play with the rest of the village children anymore.”
“I didn’t understand it at the time,” Merlin said, regretfully. “My mother was trying to protect me, and I made life very difficult for her for a long time because of it. She knew all it would take was the wrong person finding out, and the king’s soldiers would hunt us both down and kill us.”
“What about the potions your mother made?” Harry asked. “Didn’t they suspect her for that?”
Merlin smiled as he watched his mother and younger self harvesting plants. “In those days, there were very few healers. If you contracted an illness, developed an infection, or sustained any kind of injury, it was practically a death sentence.”
“My mother was clever. She made just enough normal medicines to hide the fact she was brewing potions, and she was also the only medicine woman for the three nearest towns.”
“Everyone feared the wrath of the king and his soldiers, but at the same time, they also knew that if something happened, they were unlikely to survive the next winter without her.”
“Then why did she hide you away from the rest of the children?” Harry asked.
“It was safer for everyone that way, too,” Merlin explained. “The king didn’t just have magic users killed, he also killed the people that knew about them, and protected them.”
“Along with that, he also offered gold to anyone who turned in a magical user. All it would take is a desperate or greedy villager to put us in danger.”
“It sounds like a terrible way to live,” Harry replied.
“It wasn’t all bad,” Merlin replied. “At least I had a mother. There were many people that didn’t have even that much. Many more died just from winter and starvation alone.”
“She also taught me everything she learned from my father about potions and remedies.”
“What about the king?” Harry asked. “What happened to him?”
“His son, King Arthur, succeeded him,” Merlin smiled wistfully. “It was under his reign that the golden age of magic and discovery was born.”
The stone room appeared again as the memory Merlin shared ended.
“Merlin, not that I don’t appreciate you showing me that, but I thought you were going to teach me something,” Harry said.
“Look at your table,” Merlin instructed.
Harry walked to his table, picking up a book that hadn’t been there before. “Magical and Mundane Plants Volume I,” he said, reading the cover.
Harry opened the book, flipping through the pages. They were the same plants that Merlin and Hunith collected in Merlin’s memory.
“Yes, Harry,” Merlin answered his unspoken question. “When I share my memories with you, you aren’t just watching them, you’re learning what I learned.”
Harry’s eyes widened as he went through his new memories. What Merlin had spent years learning, he learned in a single night.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Merlin warned. “Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you can.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked. He recalled everything Merlin learned about harvesting plants, like they were his own memories.
“What you learned was information, not skill,” Merlin clarified. “You need to put it into practice to make it useful.”
At Harry’s confused look, Merlin continued. “How useful is it to know how to swing a sword if you’re too weak to lift it? How useful is it to know a spell if you don’t have enough control over your magic to cast it?”
“I have a lot of work to do,” Harry realized.
Thanks for reading 🙂 What did you think of the latest part? James’s trial will be coming up soon and Dumbledore’s plans are starting to get a little more clear. What are your thoughts about the study group and academic ranking in general?
This will be a double update for Legacy of Merlin, bringing the early access chapters up to four to everyone that has a third year membership of higher.