Disclaimer: Not the Rowling, not the Kanzaka.


Full disclosure on Sorting Hat issues: I hadn’t read Three to Backstep chapter 49 before writing chapter 5; I originally started writing about the houses’ elemental aspects, but realised that Slytherin didn’t match properly, and figured it was probably down to the Hat. However, I have read the ‘Sorting Hat tampered with’ concept before, so it’s not my own idea. (Three to Backstep is definitely worth a read, by the way. As long as you ignore the nonsense about how UK Muggle currency works...)

The favourites, follows and reviews continue to pile in. Thanks everyone!

Some wording lifted directly from Rowling’s work, because Snape.

“Hello.”  :  voice.
“Hello.”  :  voice over phone, radio, TV... or telepathic hats.
‹Hello.›  :  thought.
Hello.  :  spellcasting, or other invocations of power.


FOUND OUT! Harry and Lina’s first week!

For a moment Lina thought she’d have to take flight to get across to the third floor corridor entrance, but as she approached the landing the stairs cooperated and swung into the position she needed. Moving much more cautiously now, she crept down the corridor to the forbidden door.

‹All right. There could be trap or alarm spells on this thing. Not much I can do about alarms, but I doubt that any trap would be even slightly lethal.› Carefully, she flicked a finger against the door handle, then waited for a minute or so. When nothing happened, she tried opening the door. ‹Locked, of course.› There was no sign of a keyhole, so either the door was bolted from the other side (unlikely), or the lock was magical. Either way... “Unlock.”

There was no sound in response, but the door did relax inwards slightly, allowing a sliver of light to shine out. ‹Magical lock, then.› Carefully opening the door a crack, Lina put her ear to the gap and listened. ‹Sounds like breathing. Something huge in there...› She eased the door open a little more, just far enough to peek inside. ‹Ah.› Carefully, Lina pulled the door closed again, and intoned, “Lock.”

‹Giant three-headed dog. That would explain the whole ‘painful death’ part, anyway.›

This posed a bit of a problem. Lina was confident she could deal with the creature if pressed, but most methods she could think of would make it immediately obvious something had happened... in the form of a giant three-headed smoking corpse. Other means... ‹I don’t think Laphas Seed would work on something that big. Anything else would depend on whether it’s actually one animal with three heads, or three animals with one body. I’d rather not experiment...› She shrugged. ‹I’m not going to solve this in one night. Might as well go back to bed.› Giving the door a baleful glare, she turned and headed back down the corridor.

Just before Lina reached the stairwell, she caught a shifting in the dim light, and darted into the shadow of the archway at the corridor end. She waited in silence for a moment, then began to hear muttering from the floor above.

“Just because it’s the first night doesn’t mean the little sneaks won’t be out, my sweet.” There was a pause, then, “Oh they would regret it if we found them. Nasty little sneaks...” The voice tailed off into inaudible muttering, but Lina could now make out footsteps coming down the stairs. They halted a handful of steps short of the landing, then the voice whispered, “What’s that my sweet? Find them, find them!”

Lina raised her hand, ready to cast, and held her breath as a near-silent padding came down the last few steps, and the scrawniest cat imaginable poked its head around the archway. The cat spotted Lina, put its ears back, and hissed loudly. Lina jumped, losing concentration.

“Got you, you little sneak!” shouted the voice triumphantly, and after a some clattering steps a hunched, balding man as scrawny as the cat appeared round the corner.

Fortunately those few steps gave Lina enough time to recover from the surprise cat. “Illusion!” She projected an image of a running boy into the old man’s mind, taking the time to embellish the figure with white-blond hair and green trim on its robes. The man twisted to follow the vision, and started to run down the stairs.

Lina had the illusion run just fast enough to increase its lead on the old man, without going so fast as to discourage him. Maintaining concentration on the spell while working her way back up the stairs wasn’t easy, but she managed to fade it into some shadows before she lost sight of the man.

The problem was, the stupid cat was following her the entire time, yowling its head off. As soon as the man vanished round the staircase bend, she cast “Raywing!” and shot up the stairs, hugging the wall as much as possible. The cat tried gamely, but had to give up the chase after one flight of stairs.

Landing just inside the Gryffindor corridor, Lina dismissed the spell and trotted up to the portrait hole. The lady depicted was asleep, but woke up enough to accept Lina’s whisper of “Caput Draconis”, and let her into the common room.

Once back in the dormitory, Lina retrieved a small notebook and pencil from Harry’s trunk, then slipped back into bed. As they couldn’t rely on Mandy to pass messages back and forth any more, they would need to resort to written notes. She scribbled a quick message to Harry, slid the notebook under the pillow, then lay down and relaxed.



When Harry woke up the next day, he found Lina’s note:

Definitely something interesting here: huge three-headed dog guarding corridor! Need to find some way to get Illusion to work on more than one target. Watch out for grumpy caretaker bloke with moth-eaten cat, may be trouble. Have fun!

Big Sis xx

An internal check revealed that Lina was having a lie-in, so he added a smiley face at the bottom and hid the book again.

Once out of bed, Harry discovered that only one of his dorm-mates was an equally early riser, the dark-skinned kid... ‹Dean... Thompson? Thomas? That was it.› They struck up a conversation as they were getting dressed, mainly covering their impressions of the train ride up, and of their first evening in the castle, including Dean’s observing that one of the teachers had an unusual interest in Harry: “Right nasty bastard, according to the Weasley twins. Hates everyone not in his own house, and tries to make their lives a misery. Any idea what he’s got against you?”

Harry shrugged. “Not a clue, I’m afraid. Maybe I remind him of someone?”

“Well, whatever it is, you’d better watch your back. The twins say he’s not above setting his students on people he doesn’t like.” He gave a ‘what can you do’ gesture, then said, “I’m off to breakfast. Coming?”

“You go on ahead, if you want. I’m going to get Neville and Ron up first, and see if Hermione’s ready. What about...?” He gestured to the final bed, which had a bare foot sticking out from between the curtains.

“Seamus? Nah, he threatened me with all sorts of weird Irish vengeance if I got him up early. If he’s daft enough to sleep through breakfast, let him.” Dean started towards the door. “I’ll see you down there, then.”

“Sure,” said Harry, with a wave, then went over to Neville’s bed. “Hey bro, time to get up.”

Sheets rustled, then a tousled head poked from between the curtains. “Wha? Oh, hi Harry.” The rest of Neville emerged, and started getting dressed. Harry continued over to Ron’s bed.

“Ron, time to wake up.” Nothing happened. “Ron? Ron!” There was a vague “g’way” from behind the curtains. “Ron! The food’s almost gone!”

Ron exploded from his bed with a loud “Wait!”, and started towards the door at a run. He pulled it open just as a knock sounded from the other side, then squeaked and recoiled in embarrassment as he came face-to-face with Hermione. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m terribly sorry,” said Hermione, not sounding in the least apologetic. “I was just wondering if you were ready to come down; breakfast is about to start.”

“But...” Ron turned to Harry and Neville, who were grinning at him. “You’re an evil git, Harry Potter.”

“Got you up, didn’t it?” smirked Harry.

“Yeah, well...” He turned back to Hermione. “Anyway, you can’t just come walking in here! We could have been—” He paused, then whispered, “naked,” then went back to his normal voice, “—or something. And how did you get up here anyway? Don’t the stairs do something?”

I just knocked. You’re the one who threw the door wide open,” said Hermione, primly. “And whoever charmed the stairs must have known that girls would never have any nefarious purpose in the boys’ dormitory.”

Ron was about to retort, when a loud “Fuggoffdalorrayeh” sounded from Seamus’ bed.

“I’ll wait for you downstairs,” whispered Hermione. “Nice pyjamas, by the way.”

Ron’s face erupted into crimson as Hermione closed the door.



[Letter delivered to Inverse House, morning of 01/09/1991]

Dear Mandy,

Just a quick note to let you know we arrived safely. I know we should have written last night, but it was a really long day, and I pretty much collapsed into bed straight after dinner. Poor thing was so tired. I on the other hand got to explore some of the castle! Someone, probably Fumblebore, is hiding treasure here, guarded by a giant three-headed dog. It will be mine! As you can tell, Lina’s a bit excited by the prospect.

The train ride up was great. I met my god-brother Neville, he’s really nice. We also met a really smart girl called Hermione Granger, and a boy called Ron Weasley, plus a rather stuck-up git called Draco Malfoy. I think I’ve made friends with the first three, but I doubt Draco wants to. He really is a git. Speaking of, one of the teachers was glaring at Harry a lot over dinner. Snape, I think he’s called. Can you find out what you can about him please?

Mumblesnore turns out to be really batty either he’s going a bit senile, or it’s an act to get people to underestimate him. Keep digging!

Anyway, it’s nearly time for my first class, and we need to get this off to you. I’ll write more soon.


Harry and Lina



[Letter delivered to Inverse House, early evening of 06/09/1991]

Dear Mandy,

That’s the first week of school over! Sorry we haven’t written since the start of the week: settling in has been a bit difficult. Well, it has been for Harry — he’s had a lot more to cope with. We’re finally getting the hang of things, although getting around the castle is really hard sometimes — stupid things like corridors that vanish on Tuesdays and doors that have to be stroked the right way before they open. It’s like it was designed to be a play-park, instead of a school. And the bloody stairs move all the time. Three times I’ve nearly got caught by that git Filch because of them! Lina has taken to exploring the castle every night. Mostly the library, the last few nights. Filch is the janitor; he’s easy to fool but he’s got this evil, scrawny, moth-eaten cat that keeps finding Lina no matter how well she hides.

I’ve got a nakama! (Michael — the student who was translating Lina’s story, remember? — he said that means ‘group of really good friends’, or ‘adventuring party’, or something like that. Whatever; it fits.) I already told you how I met Neville (my godbrother!), Hermione, and Ron on the train, and we’ve hit it off really well. We spend most of our free time together.

Neville’s really sweet cool; he can be a bit shy and unconfident is that even a word? but I don’t let him put himself down like that. Or anyone else, for that matter...


Unsurprisingly, Neville dove into their Herbology lessons with gusto, quickly proving his natural aptitude for the subject. Not so Charms, where he was completely failing to produce the slightest glimmer of light from his wand.

“I don’t understand it,” said Harry, who was partnering him for the practical session. “It should work.”

“I’m not surprised,” said Ron from beside him. “It’s dead hard; I can’t manage it either.”

“That’s because of your sloppy wand movements and dreadful pronunciation,” said Hermione from beyond Ron. “Neville isn’t doing anything wrong.”

“Maybe my relatives were right,” sighed Neville. Harry looked at him sympathetically, but from behind him, one of the Ravenclaw boys tittered, and said, “I’d heard rumours you were a squib Longbottom, but I didn’t expect them to be true.” Neville deflated with another sigh.

“Ignore him,” said Harry, sending a glare at the boy. “Look, Hermione’s right, you’re saying the spell perfectly, so the problem must be somewhere else. Maybe you just need to... I don’t know, push harder?”

“Easy for you to say,” muttered Neville, then tried again: “Lumos!” This time, there was the faintest gleam from his wand tip.

“Try again,” urged Harry.

Lumos!!” Neville’s wand lit up properly; not as bright as Harry or Hermione’s, but easily enough to see by at night. It stayed lit for a few moments, then faded out as Neville slumped in his chair. Professor Flitwick started to rush over to him, then slowed as Neville pulled himself up, shaking his head groggily. “That was hard,” he said, gasping slightly.

“Are you all right, Mister Longbottom?” asked the professor, arriving at his side.

“I— I think so,” said Neville. “I feel really... drained, though.”

“Squib,” coughed the Ravenclaw boy. Harry glared at him again, as did the other students, of both houses, sitting near him.

“That will be a point from Ravenclaw, Mister Boot,” said Professor Flitwick quietly. “And we’ll be having a discussion about it after dinner tonight.” The boy gave his head of house a look of betrayal.

“Now, Mister Longbottom,” said the professor, “do you think a visit to the Hospital Wing is in order?”

“No, Professor,” said Neville, rallying somewhat. “I’m feeling a bit better already.”

“Perhaps you should take it easy for the remainder of the class,” suggested Flitwick. Neville nodded.

The rest of the lesson went without any major mishaps. Ron finally got the stress on the first syllable correct, to his delight. Harry and Hermione netted five points for Gryffindor between them, for their speed in mastering the spell, and for helping their classmates. As they were filing out, Flitwick asked Neville to stay behind for a moment; the others promised to wait for him.

Once outside, Harry spotted Boot lagging behind, having been given the cold shoulder by his house-mates. “Wait here,” he said to Ron and Hermione. “I’ll be back as quick as I can.” He trotted off down the corridor after Boot.

“Wait up!” he said as he caught up with the Ravenclaw.

Boot turned and sneered at him. “Going to give me a bollocking for insulting your little squib girlfriend?”

Harry sighed, and gestured to a window alcove nearby. “Come over here, Boot. Perry, was it?”

“Terry,” said the boy, truculently, following Harry into the alcove.

“Terry, right, sorry,” nodded Harry. “I was just wanting to point out to you that Neville is my friend, and that I don’t appreciate you putting him down. It sounds like you’re familiar with his family, yes?” Terry nodded. “So you’ll know all about his parents, how they’re heroes, and so on? I’m sure you can imagine that having that happen to your parents would make you rather... unsure of yourself, yes?” Terry nodded again, somewhat reticently as he didn’t know where Harry was going with this. “So I’d really rather you didn’t make it worse, alright?” Terry sneered, and started to speak, but Harry held up his hand and over-rode him. “Now, I was going to let Professor Flitwick handle this, but apparently you need a little extra... encouragement. So...” He made a show of twirling his wand, then: “Mono Volt.”


A bright electric discharge coursed briefly over Boot, and he started to fall. Harry caught him, propped him in the alcove corner, and patted him on the head. “The paralysis will wear off in... twenty minutes or so? You’ll be fine after that, but you’ll need to hurry if you want to get any lunch.” Harry started back towards the others, then paused and turned to Terry. “That was just a little something to remind you. Next time... I may not be so nice.” He grinned brightly, then left.


So it turns out that Neville’s wand used to belong to his dad. I understand why he’s wanting to use it, but it really isn’t doing him any favours. Apparently Professor McGonagall is going to arrange something to get him a better one.

I really shouldn’t have waved at Terry when we went past him though. Hermione immediately figured out that I’d done something Go Harry! Go Harry!, and it took a bit of convincing to get her to calm down. She can be a bit pushy at times and a lot pushy the rest of the time, but even Lina has to admit that her heart’s in the right place seriously, she’s Amelia reincarnated, and I think she’s already getting over the need to prove herself all the time thank goodness. She’s also incredibly smart, and really good at research...


Over breakfast on the first morning, Hermione raised the topic of the Sorting Hat’s odd criteria for Slytherin again. “But, you see, Slytherin himself insisted that only Purebloods deserved to learn magic, and the Hat definitely has a tendency to sort Purebloods into that house. And purity — well, purification, anyway — is a water trait. So maybe it isn’t being so badly affected.”

“Maybe,” conceded Harry, “but that doesn’t explain why it can’t talk about it. I’d still like to know what happened.”

“How can you find out?” asked Neville. “It could have been years ago.”

Hermione gave a little gasp, which the others were already associating with her having a sudden epiphany. “I think I can find out when it happened,” she said enthusiastically. “According to Hogwarts: A History there’s a book in the library here that has the lyrics of every song it’s sung since it was created. We can check the songs to see when it changed its criteria!”

Ron started to respond, choked slightly on a mouthful of sausage, swallowed, and tried again. “That’s an awful lot of songs...”


...so of course we thought it’d be weeks before she found anything, but then...


Hermione reported back the next morning. “Over the course of the fourteen-twenties,” she announced, “the Hat’s songs changed from the original theme of ‘purity, subtlety, adaptability’ to ‘purity, cunning, ambition’. The then-Headmaster’s lover was a would-be Dark Lady; he was trying to create a recruiting ground for her.”

The boys looked suitably impressed. Ron choked down a mouthful of bacon, then said, “How did you do it in one night? There must be hundreds of songs!”

“Just short of a thousand,” said Hermione with a smug smile. “But of course I only had to read ten, and three of those were working out how many years it took to change completely.” At the boys’ blank stares she added, “They were in date order. I used a binary search pattern.” She frowned at the memory. “The hard part was reading them. Middle English is not one of my strengths, and it’s very hard to spot changes in the Hat’s criteria when the actual words ‘sotyle’ and ‘conning’ were used for the Ravenclaw traits back then...”


...so at some point we’ll need to talk to someone competent, ie. not Rumbleroar about having the Hat looked at.

Ron... Ron is an arse, a lot of the time and has dreadful table manners, even compared to Lina Oi! I’m just enthusiastic; he’s downright disgusting. Half the time it seems like he only empties his mouth of food so that he can stick his foot in it instead; I can’t count the number of times he’s upset Hermione by dismissing anything non-magical as ‘bonkers’ or ‘stupid’. At least twenty-seven times in the last five days...


On the Wednesday, Hermione had dug out her Travel Scrabble set, and set about teaching the others. Ron was more interested in why the letters stuck to the board. “I still don’t get it,” he complained.

“Oh honestly Ron, it’s not difficult to understand. The tiles are made of a special magnetic material, and so’s the board, so they stick together.”

“Like lodestone?” asked Neville.

“Exactly,” said Hermione, beaming at him. “Of course the material is rather different, but it’s exactly the same effect.”

“But why not just use sticking charms?” said Ron.

“Because this isn’t a magical game, Ron,” said Harry patiently, before Hermione could explode at him.

“And why do you need them to stick anyway?” continued Ron.

“Because it’s a travel set,” said Hermione, “so you might want to play it while you’re in a car or something, and you don’t want the tiles to slide off the board. You can get chess sets that work the same way,” she added, hoping to appeal to familiarity.

“But surely the chess pieces would just hang on if the board got bumped?”

Non-magical chess, Ron,” said Hermione pointedly. “The pieces don’t move by themselves.” Her face assumed an expression of disgust, remembering her first try at Ron’s chessboard. “Nor do they swear at you and make rude hand-gestures when you make a mistake.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” said Ron, actually showing repentance. “I reckon Fred and George got at them.” Hermione gave him a nod, accepting his apology, but Ron couldn’t leave it at that. “Still, sounds mental, not having moving pieces. Muggles are weird.”

Harry caught Hermione’s eye before she had a chance to respond, and mouthed “Not worth it”. She subsided with a sigh.

Meanwhile Neville had distracted Ron by pointing out that it was, in fact, still his turn. Ron examined the little magnetic strip with his seven tiles on it. “So I have to make my word go through one of the ones already on the board, right?” The others nodded. “And if I put letters on the coloured squares, I get a higher score?”

“That’s right, Ron,” said Hermione.

“All right then...” Ron carefully detached three letters from his strip, and added them above the ‘y’ in Harry’s ‘clay’. “So that’s... three, one, eight — but I get two times that for the coloured square — and four. Twenty-four, right?”

“Is ‘poxy’ a real word, though?” asked Neville.

“’Course it is,” said Ron. “I use it all the time, don’t I?”

“Not that that’s necessarily proof,” said Hermione, “but yes, it’s a real word. And quite a good score too, Ron. Don’t forget to write it down.”

“Don’t see why we can’t just use quills,” said Ron.

“Because pencils and paper are immensely easier to use than quills and parchment,” said Hermione, acidly. “Plus, it’s a ‘Muggle’ game, so you should use the proper ‘Muggle’ tools.”

“Mental,” said Ron.



...so I’m really hoping he’ll get his mouth under control soon. He can do it. There are brains and subtlety hidden under that ginger thatch. He wasn’t kidding when he said he was quite good at chess; he’s beaten everyone he’s played so far, including a seventh-year who everyone else thought was unbeatable. His strategy there was really devious; Hermione of course twitted him about being a closet Slytherin again. I think he enjoyed Scrabble too. Once he got the hang of it, his feel for tactics really came into play; he beat the pants off me and Neville in that game, and he’d have got Hermione too if she hadn’t pulled off ‘zeppelins’ right across the top, for 149 points. He was really annoyed at that. I’m pretty sure he wants a rematch; if he’d won easily he wouldn’t have been interested in playing again.

The other kids in Gryffindor are okay, but we don’t hang about with them as much — Lavender and Parvati are a bit too girly, and Dean and Seamus are a bit too laddish (though Dean’s more than just that; we have a quiet conversation most mornings while the others are still asleep). The four of them have formed their own group. Because of the way the houses work or don’t it’s hard to get to know anyone in the others, but I’m going to make the effort. One of the Hufflepuff girls is from the Bones family — can you find out if she’s related to the DMLE head? She could be a handy contact.

Muon has taken to spending most nights in our dorm. It’s probably not allowed, but it really doesn’t seem fair that other people are allowed to have their toads and cats living with them. Or rats, for that matter. At least Ron has finally got the message that Muon won’t eat Scabbers, even if Scabbers himself still hasn’t. Scabbers creeps me out. Every time I sneak out I see his beady little eyes following me, and I’m sure I’ve caught him actually ogling me when I’m changing my undies. I’m not sure where Muon spends the rest of the time, probably the Owlery, but all my dorm-mates are happy for her to visit — Dean even drew a picture of her which she was insufferably smug about for a couple of days. Dean is a really good artist.

I also told you about meeting ‘Malfoy Draco Malfoy’ snobby git on the train. Apparently I insulted him by making my own friends and not falling down at his feet. He’s being a real pain; every time we cross paths he has something nasty to say about me, or the people with me. However, I may have put a stop to that this morning...


Harry and the others were sitting having breakfast when Draco strutted up, followed by his goons. “I still don’t understand how you can sit there, Potter. A mudblood, a blood-traitor with table manners as bad as a mudblood, and a near-squib with the personality of wet string...”

“Not that you’re in a position to criticise anyone for the personalities they associate with,” snarked Neville. Ron nodded at Draco’s bookends, just in case they’d missed the point.

“They’re my friends, and I enjoy the conversation here,” said Harry, shrugging. “The four of us have such different backgrounds, we can always find something new and interesting to talk about. What about you?”

“Politics, schoolwork...” Draco glared for a moment, trying to think of anything else. “I don’t need to explain myself to you!”

“As I thought... Look Draco, you seem to be trying to set yourself up as my Rival, right?” Draco appeared to be lost for words again. “Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind having a Rival, and you have some of the qualities of a good one.” Draco preened momentarily, then recovered his poise and resumed glaring. “But there’s one crucial thing missing... I haven’t heard you laugh yet.”

“Yes you have,” replied Draco.

“I’ve heard you go ‘Ha!’ on a couple of occasions; that’s not good enough.” Harry took on his Storyteller pose, which had the others, who were used to seeing it by now, leaning in so they didn’t miss any of the entertainment. “Imagine for a moment. You’ve pulled off some grand scheme, or thwarted one of my own. My embarrassment is total, your victory is complete, and everyone around knows it. Really feel what that would be like. Now, how do you react?”

Caught in the moment, Draco put on his most impressive sneer and laughed. “Ha!”

“No no no,” said Harry, shaking his head. “That won’t do. I’m sorry Draco, but you can’t be my Rival until you learn to laugh properly.”


...so basically Harry’s going to keep rebuffing him until he comes up with the ‘Crazed Noblewoman’ laugh of his own accord. I’m so proud of him! Just as long as he doesn’t do it too often, otherwise the entire student body may decide to kill me for causing it.

Classes have been going pretty well, in all. Astronomy was fun, History was incredibly boring we spent most of the time trying to talk to each other; the class will be infinitely better if we can at least have a conversation, and Ron quickly discovered that Binns (the professor, who’s a ghost!!) doesn’t care if he sleeps through it. Everything we need to know is in the book, anyway.

Charms is definitely the easiest practical subject not for Ron though, and the professor is really entertaining; I was right that it’s going to be the most useful area to study. Herbology is pretty easy too; Neville really shines there, and has already caught the eye of Professor Sprout, as you can see. Transfiguration is hard: as we found out over the summer, the magic is totally alien to anything we already know, and the temptation to force the spells is really strong. But that would just lead to an exploding wand, and a lot of questions... Hermione does really well there, and in Charms too.

Defence is a bit of a disappointment; only the later years learn anything about how to fight, we’re just getting lots of tips on how to avoid nasty creatures. Quirrell (the teacher) is really weird: incredibly jumpy, stutters a lot, and smells of garlic and I get this weird pain in my scar whenever he faces directly away from me. Lina thinks there’s something under his turban that’s doing it there totally is, and it only affects Harry: I can’t feel it when he does, and the one time we came across him while I was in control, neither of us felt anything. We found him snooping about the forbidden corridor, by the way; I think he may be after the treasure too. He’s got Surprise Evil Dude written all over him.

And then there’s Potions, with Professor Snape who has Blatantly Obvious Red Herring Evil Dude written all over him...


Snape had lost points with Harry when he called him their ‘new celebrity’ while taking attendance, but gained a lot of them back with a really impressive introductory speech. Then he turned on Harry for no apparent reason.

“What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

Hermione’s hand shot into the air, but Harry had to think for a moment. “Some sort of fast-acting knockout potion, going by the ingredients. I haven’t come across that exact combination yet.”

Snape indicated marginal approval by allowing his sneer to decrease microscopically. He ignored Hermione’s hand, and went on, “Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”

“I’d check the supply cabinet first, Professor,” said Harry, then added, “You’ve probably got at least one in your pocket as well, in case of emergencies.”

Snape’s sneer decreased again. “What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

Neville’s hand joined Hermione’s, but Snape was still looking directly at Harry, so he answered, “None sir, they’re both common names for plants in the Aconitum genus.”

“One point from Gryffindor for using Muggle terms, Potter,” sneered Snape, then went on to elaborate on Harry’s answers.

The remainder of the lesson continued in that vein. Harry couldn’t say that Snape truly favoured Slytherin, as the only student he actually complimented was Draco, but he did reserve his more cutting criticisms for the Gryffindors, even if they didn’t really deserve it. His looming really rattled Neville, but fortunately Harry was his partner for the practical part of the lesson, and was able to keep him calm enough to turn in a reasonable attempt at a boil cure.

The potions lesson ended with Snape glaring at Harry as they filed out, as if he was just aching for another chance to belittle him.


...definitely has it in for Harry, but don’t worry, I’ve got a plan for fixing him up. She won’t tell me about it, Mandy. Make her tell me! Don’t whine Harry. Anyway, I’m starting it tonight, so you’ll get to see, if you stay awake. I’ll even give you a clue: according to the school rolls in the library, Snape was in the same year as your parents. Oh great. Given how much I apparently look like my dad, Snape probably hates me because of something to do with him. Hopefully you’ve found out something about him, Mandy? Maybe Snape fell in love with your dad, but he spurned Snape’s advances? Oh thanks Lina, now I’ll have that image stuck in my head for the rest of the year...

Anyway, that covers everything so far, pretty much. How are things at your end? Did you get the redecorating finished? Have you found out anything more about SB?

Missing you,

Harry and Lina



Albus (etc.) Dumbledore looked around the staff room, bringing the meeting to order. “So, our first week of a new year. How has it gone for everyone?”

Most of the staff answered with positive reports — a little homesickness in the first years, some small disciplinary issues, but nothing serious. Argus Filch, on the other hand...

“I haven’t caught the little sneak yet, but I will. And when I do, I’ll see him punished, Professor Snape! Count on it!”

Snape sneered at the squib janitor. “You have no proof that it’s even a member of my house, Filch. And as for catching this supposed ‘sneak’... how many times has he got away from you now?”

Filch mumbled something about “most nights so far”. Dumbledore frowned at Snape’s smirk. “I’m sure that Argus will find the culprit soon. Now, I would like everyone’s initial impressions of Harry Potter. Minerva?”

“He seems like a well-adjusted, happy boy,” said the Deputy Head. “He’s struggling a bit in Transfiguration class, but no worse than some others. He certainly has the theory down so far. And he’s making friends with others in his year.”

“No sign of any trauma? No hints of who this mysterious guardian might be?” asked Dumbledore.

“There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him. And no, he hasn’t mentioned his home life at all; certainly not where I’ve heard it?” She glanced round the other teachers, receiving head-shakes in response.

“He’s a joy to teach in Charms,” commented Flitwick. “Either he has an intuitive grasp of the subject, or he’s had considerable practice. He and Miss Granger have given their classmates quite some help with their wand-work.”

Snape sneered and muttered, “Show-offs,” but when Dumbledore frowned at him again he added, “He’s not quite as disastrously incompetent as I had feared. However, he definitely has his father’s arrogance.”

“Really?” said Flitwick. “He reminds me far more of his mother. I’m surprised you didn’t notice...” Snape sneered again, turning away from the others.



Once again, Lina hid herself in the shadows of the main stairwell, tucked in the corner underneath the third-floor west landing. ‹All right Harry, if he follows the same pattern as the last two nights, Snape should be coming along the second-floor corridor any moment.›

Footsteps sounded from down the corridor. ‹That’s him.› This had to be done with care. Still hugging the shadows, Lina floated downwards until she could just see Snape in the corridor. “Illusion!” She created an image of herself off to one side of the second-floor landing. With its head bowed as if deep in thought, Lina walked her projection slowly across the end of the corridor, heading to where the stairs to the third floor would attach. Snape shouted “Who’s there!” and began to stalk forward, but the image continued walking as if oblivious. As soon as it passed out of his sight, Lina dropped the illusion and shot up to hug the deepest shadows under the third-floor landing again.

Snape strode out of the corridor and turned, but the stairs to the third floor were only now swinging across. He peered over the edge, then examined the shadows around the archway, but found nothing. Shaking his head and muttering, he headed down the stairs.

Lina could feel Harry’s irritation, so once Snape was out of sight, she flew up into the fourth-floor corridor and into an empty classroom.

“All right Harry, what’s up?”

Harry took over. “Was that it? I was expecting... I don’t know what, actually, but not that!” He let Lina take control again.

“Look, it would have been easy to fireball his greasy arse into oblivion, or at least pummel him into next week, but what good would it do? He wouldn’t let up on you just because some anonymous person beat him up, and if we let him know why it was happening, he’d chuck you out of the school.” She felt Harry wanting to interject, but kept on, “Yes, I know it would make you feel better — c’mon, it’s me talking, I’m really tempted to just blast him — but surely him stopping picking on you would feel better still?” She let Harry take over.

“Yeah, that’s true,” said Harry, “but how is this going to help?”

“You saw what Mandy sent us tonight. Snape and your mother lived right round the corner from each other, before they went to Hogwarts. There’s a good chance they knew each other, especially considering I’ve found a couple of records in the library of projects they worked on together in their third and fifth years here. And judging by your aunt’s reaction, I look like your mother. If we can get Snape thinking of her, maybe even worrying that she’s coming back to say something to him...?”

“All right,” said Harry, “that’s pretty smart. But if he doesn’t let up, can we please blow him up? Just a little?”

“Sure, if he really doesn’t get the message,” laughed Lina, taking over again. “You get some sleep now; I’m going to have a browse in the library again.”



In the Gryffindor third-year boys’ dorm, a pair of red-heads stared in disbelief at a parchment map of the castle, then turned to each other.

“I think we”
“need to have”
“a word with”
“Mister Potter...”

To be continued...

Oh dear... less than a week in the castle, and Harry’s secret sister has already been discovered...

Crazed Noblewoman Laugh: OHHH HOHOHOhohoho! See: Gracia Ul Naga Saillune (Slayers), Kuno Kodachi (Ranma 1/2), Kiryuu Nanami (Revolutionary Girl Utena), and many, many more. (Search for “Naga’s Laughs” on YouTube if your ears are up to it.)

‘Shocking bad hat’: I don’t think Victorian slang is old enough to count as ‘Old England’ (sorry Riniko22). I actually got it from Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, which everyone should read.

In response to Kairan1979: I don’t think this counts as a crossover, any more than HP fanfics that constantly reference Monty Python or Doctor Who (you know the kind) are crossovers. No Slayers characters or settings appear in this fic. ‘Lina’ only exists because Harry is mentally disturbed, and has only become a ‘real’ person because he’s highly magical. So I feel that marking it as a crossover would only disappoint any Slayers fans who came to the story, and also possibly drive away some Potter fans unfamiliar with the anime. However, if you (or anyone else) have a convincing counter-argument, I’ll take it into consideration.