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 8 : Invocations and Altercations

 

 It was time for our first course in invocations. To my immense irritation, Ms. Granger had decided to join us. We met up at Hogwarts and made our way from there.

 I had, of course, done some preliminary reading – showing up for a course unprepared wasted both the instructor’s time and the student’s. Ms. Granger, on the other hand, had consumed every text known to wizard-kind, and had apparently taken offence to all of it

 According to our Miss-inform-everyone-of-everything, Invocations made Divinations look like a precise science. It appeared there were as many taxonomies as there were researchers. Splitting the spirits up into elementals was quite a common choice, but it seemed some experts had randomly picked a pantheon of Gods, and fitted the spirits to it. Ms. Granger informed us of this fact at some length, and well past the point where even Mr. Potter had grasped the trend.

 Amica Vocare, our instructor, introduced herself, but before she could even begin her outline, Ms. Granger felt the need to question her about the matter.

 “Oh, I don’t use any taxonomies. The spirits are individual beings, and trying to group them together is as pointless as trying to predict someone’s behaviour based on their eye-colour. Really, you shouldn’t believe everything you read, you know. “

 Remarkable. That shut Ms. Granger up far more effectively than my years of oppressiveness ever had. Perhaps I could still learn more efficient ways of interaction.

 “The primary thing to remember is that spirits are both immortal and incorporeal. This explains almost every difference we have with them. For instance, their primary need isn’t food, or safety, it is entertainment. Conversely, their greatest fear isn’t death or abandonment, it is boredom. As such, ‘things to do’ are a major bartering item, as significant to them as food and shelter is to us.”

 Ms. Granger didn’t dare ask another question, which was at least one relief. The lesson as a whole was disturbing. Not in a way that would lead us to suspect an involvement of the Dark Lord, but in a ‘just out of the corner of your eye’ way. It was like listening to two experts in another field, or hearing about sex as a child. Your brain accepted that what you heard ought to make sense, but the comprehensive meaning simply failed to come together. Ms. Granger was as frustrated as I, but she lacked my ability to conceal it. It gave me something to watch when the lecture became too dense.

 Even more interesting to watch was Mr. Potter. He was obviously enthralled. His eyes glowed, and his whole body seemed on the point of leaping after the information. I felt a pang of regret. Why had I never been able to produce this kind of reaction in him? This picture of him – enthusiastic, passionate, intuitive – well, I understood now how he had accumulated such praise from his DADA teachers.

 Then it was another Friday; another meeting with Mr Fletcher. And we were going to be late.  The old adage of ‘you learn a new thing every day’? Today we had learned there was such a thing as being too successful at a shield charm.  A simple air-thickening charm, for instance, usually used to slow down projectiles. If it is cast with too much strength, it doesn’t just make air dense, it turns it into a liquid. With all the characteristics of a liquid. Including weight. So when a certain Mr. Potter cast it above his head… And unfortunately it didn’t simply evaporate back into the atmosphere.  Liquid it was, and liquid it would remain until all the residual magic energy dissipated. Which, given Mr. Potter’s track record, could be months.

 I stuck my head around Mr. Potter’s door. “Mr. Potter! It is now seventeen minutes past the hour.”

 “I know, I know, I’m coming as fast as I can.”

 He walked out of the bathroom, towelling his hair, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. I couldn’t tell if it was the quidditch, the wandless combat, or something else entirely, but I could tell that his normal robes had been concealing a great deal. The Boy-Who-Lived had, most assuredly, grown up. And grown up in a very aesthetic manner. I turned away abruptly before he could catch me staring, and kept my eyes resolutely on the wall.

 “Was the potion successful?”

 “Yes, thank you Severus, I finally got that goo out. Man, was that stuff sticky. Now, what have I done with my clothes?”

 I made a rapid escape back into the lounge and waited for him to join me. We arrived at the meeting out of breath and at a disadvantage.

 “Mr. Fletcher. We apologise for keeping you waiting. We were unavoidably delayed.”

 “Yes, well, Harry, this isn’t a game, you know. Defeating Voldemort has to be our main priority. I know you’re still young…”

 “I am well aware of my responsibilities, Mr. Fletcher.”

 The meeting went downhill from there. If Mr. Fletcher had been intending to push Mr. Potter’s buttons, I would have applauded him for his thoroughness. But the idiot was actually under the impression that he was ‘guiding’ Mr. Potter. Dumbledore was probably the only person in the world who could get away with acting paternally towards Mr. Potter, and his skill with manipulation was unmatched. Mr. Fletcher’s skills in that area were considerably inferior to Mr. Potter. In fact, I doubted they even matched Ron Weasley’s.

 But Mr. Potter himself was showing strain. His instincts were there, but his control was sketchy. Well, he was still young, after all.

 “So you see, Harry…”

 “Mr Potter,” he interrupted.

 “I’m sorry?”

 “Please call me Mr. Potter. We are not friends, and I would hope I have earned the right to be treated as an adult.”

 Mr. Fletcher stared at him in blank astonishment. I tensed, waiting for his reaction. This was a battle that should never have been fought. To Mr. Potter’s fury, but my relief, Mr. Fletcher eventually smiled indulgingly.

 “Of course you have, Har.. Mister Potter, of course you have.”

 I grabbed for Mr. Potter’s arm before he could respond. It was enough to remind him to keep control. Mr. Potter conducted the rest of the meeting through clenched teeth, and wrapped it up as soon as possible. The look he gave me, however, was pure fury. Abruptly, I was reminded of my place. Damn it to hell. What in Hades had prompted me to get involved?

 As soon as we were alone, I turned to Mr. Potter and sank into a deep bow.

 “Forgive me for touching you without your permission, Mr. Potter. It was not my place to interfere.”

 “No, it was not. But since you did, do you mind filling me in on why?”

 “It seemed unnecessary to alienate Mr. Fletcher.”

 “You are trying to tell me that? And stand up properly, for Heaven’s sake.”

 I straightened up, but kept my eyes on the floor. “I am not the Hero of the Wizarding World, Mr. Potter. These people would be my enemies regardless of how I treated them.”

 “How would you know? You never give anyone a chance before making up their mind for them.”

 “That… isn’t the issue under discussion here, Mr Potter.”

 He sighed, and collapsed into a nearby chair. “No it isn’t. You’re right, Severus. I should not allow my emotions to affect my actions. I will endeavour to act with the same restraint you have been exercising.”

 I met his eyes in absolute bemusement. I was to be his role-model in how to interact with people? God help us all.

 

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