Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.

 

Chapter 5: Viewpoints and Strategies

 

The next day, Mr. Potter and I kept interaction to a minimum. Breakfast was somewhat rushed - Wandless Combat was in the ‘before work’ time-slot, and as first-timers we were asked to be there half-an-hour early. We did, however, find time to stop past his advisor on the way in.

“We’re dropping out of Interrelated Disciplines. It isn’t… as rigorous as I require.”

Translation – the idiot could get me killed.  Hmmm. This was a definition of the word ‘pleasant’ I just might be able to cope with. I relaxed, realising for the first time how tense I had been about the matter. At least Mr. Potter had the common sense to regard me above that … person.

“Well, yes, that can happen. Do you know what you want to replace it with yet?”

“Not yet. We’ll come back to you later.”

We had to leave almost immediately to make it to Wandless Combat on time. Typically, Mr. Potter was immediately recognised as we walked in.

“Ahh, Harry Potter, I’m so pleased to have you in this class. I used to work with Bill Weasley, and any honorary Weasely is a friend of mine.”

Mr. Potter’s face lit up. Sometimes, just sometimes, I understood why others took to him so easily.

“This is Severus Snape, my bodyguard.”

“I’m Agilis Lethum. Pleased to meet you. So, you’ll want to be trained to work as a team, as well as individuals?”

“That would be very helpful,” I replied. Pleasant, I told myself. And it had been a useful suggestion.

“Great! You have no idea how gratifying it is to have students who are serious about learning to survive. Now, you’ll want to train in the clothes you wear everyday, because that’s what you’ll most likely have to fight in. But if I may make suggestions about what to wear everyday?”

We were both in standard robes and cloaks – mine black, Mr. Potters dark green. We looked at each other, puzzled. He wasn’t going to suggest muggle clothing, was he?

“Go ahead.”

“Well, firstly, you might want to consider buying Adamantine Vests – the lighter ones are on the expensive side, but magic isn’t the only thing that can kill or incapacitate you. And I suggest you take a look at the new duelling robes at Madame Malkin’s - some of them are tasteful enough to wear at all times without looking out of place. As far as your cloaks go, you have a choice. A heavy cloak you can stock with everything known to man, or a light cloak that won’t encumber you in battle. The colours you are wearing are fine – you don’t want to wear anything that will make you easy to aim for. Take a look around Madam Malkin’s, you don’t want to make decisions too quickly. Remember though – the most expensive equipment will be of no value to you if it’s neatly hanging in your cupboard when you get attacked.”

That – was something to think about. I usually carried some useful objects on me, but I hadn’t ever approached it that systematically. We were then shown around the hall, and he was just finishing off by the time the rest of the class arrived.

The lesson was about using instinctive reactions where it was useful, and retraining them where it was not. It was about always operating with clear aims and priorities. The physical workout we were getting seemed almost incidental.

“You won’t have time to think when something happens. So think now.”

As an instructor, Mr. Lethum was…passable. Certainly, he was far in advance of what the majority of the students deserved. They were more frivolous than first year Hufflepuffs. 

He dismissed the class, and stayed on to ‘chat’ with Mr. Potter.

“What other courses are you taking?”

“ ‘Impenetrable Wall’ and ‘Increasing the Power of your Casts’. We’ve time for one more, but we haven’t decided on one yet.”

“Have you ever thought about trying invocations? I have a friend who would be more than happy to provide a course for you.”

“Invocations?”

“Calling on other spirits to aid you. You first tempt a spirit to be your genius personae. You then have to set up a fairly good relationship with them so that they will be inclined to answer your call. Which isn’t always easy, apparently. They can be very … different. A lot of people think they’re more trouble than they’re worth, but when it does work out, they can make remarkable allies.”

“Severus, what do you think?”

Good boy – not taking the word of some one he had just met, no matter how pleasant they seemed.

“Albus has one he calls upon occasionally, I know. Lucius Malfoy tried at one stage, but his ended up sabotaging him more often than it helped him. The ceremonies to sever the ties were apparently very messy. I think it would be a big decision to call for one, but it won’t do any harm to learn the theory behind it. As long as it’s arranged through the institute.”

“Of course!”

“Yes, then, thank you, that would be wonderful.”

I was even more impressed when Mr. Potter paused to write a friendly letter to Bill Weasely, casually asking him about Lethum.

“Some things are best done immediately,” he said as he released it to an owl.

After lunch, which I had brought with, it was time for Harry to participate in his first Friday afternoon strategy meeting. It was held in a small sitting room in a sealed portion of Hogwarts. They made strained small talk while we waited for everyone to arrive. I could stay silent and still be ‘pleasant’, surely. At the appointed time, Mundungus Fletcher cleared his throat. The aides and I got up to wait outside while the ‘sensitive information’ was being discussed.

“Severus, where are you going?”

“I wasn’t invited to this meeting, Mr. Potter.” I never had been. It didn’t worry me much - let them play at their secret clubs, I knew where the real work got done.

“Why ever not?”

“Why, Harry, I know it’s hard to believe, but Snape used to be a death eater, and…”

I could have told him that the patronising tone wasn’t a good idea. Even as a teacher, I only used it when I wanted Mr. Potter to rebel. But I still didn’t expect his reaction.

“Well, I have to tell you people I trust Severus a whole lot more than I trust you.  I’m afraid I’m just not comfortable sitting in a room full of people I barely know without backup. Call me when you have something you are prepared to discuss with us both.”

He swept out of the room, leaving me with no choice but to follow. The tone had been perfectly amiable, but the words…

“Mr. Potter, do you really think that was wise…”

“Do you want to be a puppet for those people?”

“No.”

“Neither do I.”

Comprehension slowly dawned.

“And if they come to you on your terms, you’ve re-established the balance of power. That’s almost…Slytherin.”

“Thank you.”

“But what if they don’t come to you?”

“Then I fight Voldemort alone. It won’t be the first time.” He shrugged. “They’ll come. What choice do they have?”

Well. It seemed Mr. Potter also knew where the real work was done. I’d been underestimating him.

The day hadn’t been the torture I’d been dreading. It had actually been quite...pleasant. I gave up trying to work out what Mr. Potter liked eating, and simply served something I enjoyed. Dinner was quiet, but surprisingly relaxed.

 “Why don’t you bring your book through to the living room? I want to find out what happens next.”

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