Leo groaned as he woke up, disoriented because in the place of his usual rock hard mattress was soft cushioning. Then he remembered. Slytherin, annoying ferrets and princesses (which had both been in his dreams), magic and Hogwarts. Even after a month McKinnon cherished the thought of magic and swore to be the best.
"Tempus." 5:23 am
He swung his legs over the bed and stretched as he stood up. Years of waking up early had ingrained into him the habit. At the orphanage, Leo often went for runs through the grounds or swims in the lake. He sometimes helped old Bradley, the farmer next to them, to herd the cattle, where he successfully learnt how to ride a horse. Other times he would help the matron get others up or take care of the younger children and breakfast. As soon as he had made his bed, he took the comfortable black robe and trouser out of his trunk and opened the curtains, ready to go to the bathroom. It seemed that no one was up, aside from Zabini who was occupied with a book. The ornate bathrooms were coated with neutral tones, with light greens adorning some areas. There were ten shower stalls which were all unoccupied, and there were three separate baths too. Taking a quick two-minute shower and quickly drying his hair with a hair charm Theo had taught him, he was out. His hair was somewhat short, and the waves came just above his grey eyes. Leo noticed he smelt nice; vanilla and farm wood.
"Morning Lion," Zabini gave him a Cheshire grin as he played with the name. "How did you sleep?"
Leo threw his things onto his bed and walked toward the common room with Blaise.
"It was the best sleep I've had in my life, Zebra," Leo smiled, returning the favour as he walked down the last carpeted stair. "Why we the only ones here?"
Blaise snorted. "Not everyone wakes up at 5:30. After all, most of this house is made of British purebloods."
"Since we're up," Leo began, only to be interrupted.
"No pranks this morning, no fraternising with Gryffindors on our first day and no getting in trouble by teachers," Blaise flopped lazily onto a green cushioned chair, in a corner of the House far from the fire, which had a small window next to it. There was a portrait of Salazar Slytherin, but it was a well-known fact he hadn't talked for decades.
"I was going to say we could explore," Leo said, taking a seat opposite Blaise, where a desk separated them.
"Ah, yes. You have your little map," Blaise whispered, a smirk adorning his face. They stood up and walked toward the exit, their faces plastered with smiles.
"There's a passage to the great hall through here," Black pointed at the small nook beside the stairs that lead to the floor above the dungeons. The passage was directly behind a picture of Jake the Dog, which was isolated.
"Morbilous!" Leo intoned, before slipping into the secret pathway. It was clean and fairly wide, meaning Blaise and Leo could walk side by side on their way to the great hall. It took just under a minute before they reached the level. Leo opened the map and made sure there was no one around to see them slip out of the passage. They ended up next to a row of knights, right next to an abandoned classroom. The hallway was long and open and led from the entry of Hogwarts to the great hall, and finally, they reached stairs that lead to several floors above.
Now that they had managed to get to the Entrance Hall they sought to get to the great doors, which were slightly open.
"These are giant," Leo remarked, trying to push a door open. Blaise was next to him and nodded his head in agreement.
"You could say that again," with one final huff the doors opened.
They opened with a low, wooden rumble, and Leo was hit instantly with a gust of crisp air. The sunlight poured into the castle, bathing every last spot of floor and wall in gold. Leo let the fast air fill his nose and let a slow breath out through his mouth. Even the outdoors smelled better at Hogwarts.
"Yes, the sun is marvellous," Blaise commented next to him ruining the moment. "Do we want to explore?"
Smirking Leo carefully shoved Zabini, who practically tripped over himself as he stumbled out into the courtyard. The sun was very warm on his face, and there wasn't a doubt that it was still summer. Leo and Blaise made their way through the courtyard and onto the fresh grass, still wet with dew. They continued in silence, somewhere between tripping and jogging, not fully aware of where they were going, and not concerned about it.
Leo was in blissful peace, he was reminded of mornings out in the paddocks and farm. There was a soft breeze that brushed his hair against his forehead and caused his robes to billow gently behind him. He quickly realised that it was much too hot to be wearing such dark, heavy clothing, but as it was the uniform, he couldn't very well take it off. As thankful as he was for the wind, it wasn't enough to keep him cool, so he looked around for a shady place.
"We shouldn't go in the forest yet," Leo voiced his concerns as Blaise galloped to the edge.
"I was only looking," Blaise agreed and he came back to Leo. From their position, they could tell they were surrounded by thick trees, where the Dark Forest lay. They saw over the flat plains and noticed an odd little hut on the edge of the grounds, next to an entrance of the woods. It looked unusual in a region filled with grandeur, it was too humble. Blaise and Leo looked at each other, before Zabini shouted, "Last one there is Hippogriff dung!"
Blaise had the head start as he ran through the long yellow-green grass slowing himself down slightly as he ran downhill.
"Whoo-hoo!" Leo shouted as he beat Zabini. The wind rushed through his face as he gained speed going downhill. Zabini smirked slightly and gave him a small shove, so Leo tumbled down, taking the assailant with him. Laughs could be heard coming from the two boys as they rolled down the muddy, grassy hill. Their school robes were covered in mud and wet grass. They collapsed into heaps of laughter.
"I'll get you back for that, Zabini," a genuine smile graced Leo's regal features which now had much mud splattered onto them.
"You'll try Black," Blaise shook his head.
They ventured nearer to the hut where they noticed a tiny garden strewn with the beginnings of pumpkins. Leo was reminded of the pumpkin pudding from the feast the night before. This must have been where it was coming from. He voiced his opinion to Blaise.
"My mother told me that Hogwarts has always got its products locally," he informed Leo. "Or they grew them."
He had previously considered the Herbology Professor — Sprout, he thought her name was — was responsible, but then remembered her class took place in greenhouses. He couldn't imagine why she would grow pumpkins in such a modest patch of dirt when she had access to greenhouses, so it had to be someone else.
"Wonder whose place this is," Leo voiced as they came closer to a window. There was, hopefully, nothing wrong with poking his head through the window to see occupants. He hesitantly made his way around the pumpkin patch to the glass. Blaise had decided to stay away from the hut, but let Leo do his exploring.
Grasping the windowsill, he climbed up and popped his head in front of the window. It was closed, and the glass was so dirty he could barely see a thing. He squinted and thought he could see a little table, perhaps a sofa, and an empty fireplace. From the looks of it, there wasn't much space in it at all, and it wasn't incredibly well kept. He pushed himself a bit further up, trying to find a grime-less spot on the window to get a clearer view.
Very suddenly, there was a monstrous bark. Leo froze in his spot, afraid that he had drawn the attention of someone. After all, they couldn't get caught. There was more barking, and this time mad scraping came from the door. The creature inside was most likely a dog, but Leo didn't want to take any chances and stumbled down from the window to Blaise's worrying figure. As quick as they could, they dashed away from the hut, down another hill and further away from the Castle. They ran through a mass of bushes where there were no set paths. They ran until they could no more. To their left and right was nothing but trees of the forbidden forest and straight ahead was the lake. As Leo caught his breath and realised they wouldn't be caught by the creature — whatever it was — he took better notice of his surroundings. At the water's edge, it was considerably cooler, as the wind had picked up and felt wet like the lake it came from.
A grin found its way onto Leo's features, and though he could think of little to do here, he wanted to spend as much time as he could on the bank of this lake. Blaise joined him on one of the rocks that lead more inside the lake. They sat in silence, thinking about things that didn't want to be voiced.
Perhaps they could do homework here. Did wizards have homework," Leo wondered. Or just sit about here when he had not much better to do. It was such a quiet spot, and he could think of nothing like it in his life back with the orphanage. Had it only been yesterday that they had left him at Kings Cross, not even waiting for him to be safe and go inside? Already that felt like it was years away.
Sighing contentedly to himself, Leo settled on a more comfortable rock jutting from the lake. It was the perfect place to sit. Although it was surrounded by water, it wasn't wet. His cloak sprawled out over the rock, and he spent a moment trying to pull it against his legs, but the wind continued to spread it back out. He let his eyes fall shut, focusing on the sound of the water as it gently lapped onto the shore, and if he'd let it, it could have easily lulled him to sleep. As it was, he was too enthralled by the sight of his surroundings that he couldn't drift off to sleep and again found his eyes wide open. Slowly his head lifted to the horizon, where the lake came to an end and marvellous, snow-capped mountains sprung into view. Leo knew it must have still been warm even up there, for the snow was only at the very tip of the jagged mountains, which faded into green trees that otherwise covered them. His green gaze slid down, back over the massive, near-black lake. Hogwarts reflected in it much like it had the night before, though this time much more vibrant. It looked as though there were two castles, one on land and another beneath the lake's surface. At once Leo imagined the underwater kingdom, Atlantis, and couldn't help but wonder it existed.
He noticed the smooth rocks that laid across the shore and by his stone perch. He couldn't stop his thoughts from wandering to whether they could be skipped like normal rocks. Well, rocks were rocks, here, there, and everywhere. Why should they be any different? As if to prove the point to himself, he took up a stone and fitted it firmly against his palm. Placing his fingers along its edges, he pulled his wrist back, ready to throw.
"Hey Blaise," Leo said to his friend who was sitting peacefully next to him. "Do you know how to skip rocks?"
Pulling back his arm again, he flicked his wrist and let the rock fly, and as expected, it skipped beautifully across the lake's surface. He chuckled softly to himself, and for whatever reason felt compelled to toss another stone. Within moments another rock had been let loose and it too skipped with the grace of the first rock.
"How are you doing that? Does it need magic?" The voice came just as he had taken up another stone, and as a reflect he let it go, causing it to hit the water and sink with a deep plunk. Leo grinned as he saw Zabini had taken a rock in his hand.
Carefully, Blaise made his way over to Leo, elegantly pacing from stone to stone and somehow fitting his lean body on an average-sized rock.
"Now what's this about making rocks skip?" he asked.
"You've never skipped rocks before?" said Leo, a little shocked. "You just make them hop over the water, like this."
He took up yet another small stone and flicked it out over the lake. It skipped the surface four times before sinking.
Zabini flicked his rock as Leo had done, but nothing happened. His sharp look faded and a huge smile graced his features. The next several minutes were spent by Black attempting to show Zabini how to properly hold and throw rocks to make them skip, which was having little success. At long last, Leo succeeded in getting Blaise to skip a rock a hop and a half across the lake.
"Brilliant!" exclaimed Zabini, beaming with pride. The sun was practically up, and they could see vague movement at the edge of the castle. "That was fun! We'll have to practise some more, but right now I'm starved. Let's go get some breakfast before class."
The two boys then headed back up the hills and to Hogwarts. Feeling his stomach rumble, Leo decided eating his first magical breakfast was just the thing to do. As they entered the courtyard, he noticed how much more crowded it had gotten as the morning had become later. It was truly becoming a beautiful day, and the sun was only growing warmer. Leo was glad he had explored the grounds early, for the heat from his robes was already making him break into a sweat.
"Wait up a moment," Zabini called just before they reached the entrance hall. He stuck up a wand and whispered a spell that seemed to clean Leo.
"Thanks, mate!" McKinnon said, eyes shining with eager anticipation. Not many people were at the entrance; the majority were at the great hall.
They walked past Gryffindor and Ravenclaw and were greeted by the girls at the Slytherin table. The table was bustling with a crowd of Slytherins, and a few Claws and Puffs from elsewhere. The first years had positioned themselves on the end of the table, nearest to the doors.
"Where have you two been?" Tracey asked them in between a bite of toast. They both still had a bit of dirt in the hair and on their cloaks and they looked a bit ruffled. They took the empty seats opposite Tracey and Daphne, with their back to the wall.
"We were exploring the grounds," Blaise answered for the both of them while placing some buttered toast and hashbrowns on his plate. "Where's Theo?"
Leo glanced around and realised that neither Theo, Malfoy or Parkinson were here yet. But he was too hungry to tune into the conversation the others were having. He piled his plate high with pieces of toast, scrambled eggs and a few hashbrowns.
"What's the glare for Princess?" Leo regarded Daphne's scowl from the other side of the table. A plate of toast sat between them, and for a minute Leo was afraid she would throw it at him.
Leo found himself wondering what exactly the Slytherins thought of Muggles and Muggle-borns. From hearing the upper years, most clearly thought them inferior; though a few people didn't mind, especially those from Noble and Most Ancient Houses. Leo could already tell that there was an unspoken seventh rule: people who tolerated or accepted Muggles and Muggle-borns didn't put up a fight on principle, and blood purity supremacists didn't make a point of fitting "Mudblood" or "filthy Muggles" or "blood traitor" into every other sentence. Except for Malfoy, who for all he was a Slytherin seemed to have no more than a teaspoon of tact. Leo would change some aspects of this rule.
They ate breakfast and speculated about their classes while the Great Hall slowly filled. Black was pleased to see that Longbottom came in with another girl, Granger, he remembered. Neville waved to him before sheering off to the Gryffindor table.
"Fraternizing with the enemy, McKinnon?" Malfoy said lazily, jumping into the seat with his back against the other tables.
Black frowned half-heartedly at him. "He's my godbrother. And he seems alright, or at least sensible enough to avoid the contagious Gryffindor stupidity."
"Wasn't he suspected as a squib?" Parkinson said drily.
"Wasn't I suspected to be dead?" Leo retorted taking in another spoon of scrambled eggs.
Parkinson shrugged off her worries and nibbled on a small bit of toast as if she was on a diet.
Malfoy wasn't fooled by his casual act, but let it slide, "Longbottom, they're an old family, right?"
"Pureblood back at least fourteen generations, I think," Theo confirmed.
"Could do worse in a Gryffindor," Malfoy eyed them both as if he thought they cared about his opinion.
"You do realize it'll be hard to maintain any kind of social standing in Slytherin if you're friends with a Gryffindor," Blaise whispered from beside him, careful not to be overheard.
"I'm not an idiot," Leo said scornfully.
Blaise shrugged and went back to his food.
Not seconds after their conversation, Snape came down from the dais holding a stack of parchments. His face was icy cold and his voice pitched just low enough that they all had to be perfectly still and silent to hear him over the growing breakfast glamour as he instructed them to get to class on time, comport themselves with decorum, and stay out of trouble. This last was accompanied by a particularly nasty sneer sent Leo's direction. He kept his face in a cheery smile, had his hands playing with a fork while staring into the distance. He was as disrespectful as you could be in Slytherin without saying go fuck yourself. Snape handed out their schedules with one final sneer and stalked away.
Tracey and Blaise raised their eyebrows. Leo shrugged. Snivellous needed a wake-up call.
Before anyone could say anything, about a hundred owls and birds of all kind had suddenly streamed into the Great Hall, circling tables until they saw their owners. All around the hall owls were dropping packages onto their laps. Leo still found the idea of owls absurd compared to muggle devices. Next to him, an owl had dropped a letter and package onto his lap, both of which he quickly opened.
"Thank god! I didn't think I could go a day without these. You must try one Leo," Blaise exclaimed. He offered a box of baked goods to Leo who bit into a vanilla one, immediately grinning.
"Marvellous!" Leo agreed, taking another from Blaise who was passing them to Tracey, Daphne and Theo. They all came to a silent agreement that Blaise had the best goods. Daphne and Theo had both received letters from home, no doubt conveying how proud their parents were. Tracey had received a small container of perfumes which she was showing Parkinson and Greengrass. A divine hawk carrying two letters swooped down to Malfoy, who had received both a package and a letter. Instead of opening them at the table, he placed them in his bag for safekeeping. The same hawk, instead of flying out of the hall, dropped another letter at Leo.
"How do you know my mother McKinnon?" Malfoy snarled from a few seats down, drawing looks from some boys around him. Leo didn't know Draco's mother but had an impression that she would want to know about the emergent Black. Something he had read about family meetings.
"I don't," Leo simply remarked. "My reputation simply precedes me. I've always known about my distinguished status."
Malfoy continued glaring so Leo threw him a bone. Zabini, Theo and Daphne were all accustomed to his primitive ways but Leo was left wondering how his cousin had become a Slytherin. By now, the upper years had heard enough about Malfoy to know he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. He had, after all, spent the whole morning in the common room complaining about Hogwarts 'low' standards. They still turned an ear to the conversation for political reasons and entertainment.
"Lady Malfoy is Narcissa Malfoy, is she not?" Leo phrased the question to Tracey, who replied with a nod. "And her maiden name is Black?"
Leo looked at Malfoy as he said this, "And Malfoy, who do you think is the next Head of House Black, where Madame Black owes her loyalty? Does that ring any bells?" Although put out by the use of a non-magical term, Malfoy still replied.
"Well doesn't explain why she'd be sending you a letter," he said angrily.
"Come off it Malfoy," an older boy reprimanded from a seat away. He had black curly hair and hazel brown eyes, with a lean build and strong jaw. "Anyone with half a brain knows that the family members always send letters after the sorting. Especially to their future Head of House."
Just at that point Sgail flew through the great hall next to a snowy owl and dropped four letters and a package in front of him at the Slytherin table. Leo smirked at Malfoy's frustrated look and placed the letters in his inside pocket and package in the bag.
"Thanks for that," Leo said to the boy, who looked to be at least a fourth year.
"No problem Black," he smirked, a glint of pride in his eyes. "Always good to put a Malfoy in his place. Adrian Pucey, fourth-year chaser." He held his hand out, giving a smile as he said the last words.
"Call me Leo," he introduced. "What's the Quidditch team like? I was thinking of trying out."
"Well most of our players left last year, so we don't exactly have a strong team. We're missing a beater, a chaser, a keeper and we don't have a decent seeker," Pucey told him. "I'd say you have a decent chance at tryouts if you start practising and get a broom. I'll give you a hand with the basics?"
"That would be great. What do you want in return?" Leo smiled, wondering about repayment. Daphne groaned at his bluntness. "It's easier to be direct."
"Put in a good word about me to the Weasley twins, for investment if they ask," the chaser told him. "I'll ask Hooch for permission, I'll get you flying by the end of Saturday. See ya."
Leo waved him goodbye and turned to Theo and Blaise, with their mouths open. "What did I do?"
"Nothing much," Blaise shared a glance with Theo.
"Did you know him?" Tracey asked, much to Blaise's chagrin.
"Nope," Leo saw the problem with the remark, and smirked at Blaise and Theo, understanding their 'private' thoughts.
"Herbology with Ravenclaw, Defence and Transfiguration with Gryffindor, then charms with Hufflepuff," Nott continued. "Today's going to be fantastic."
"At least we don't have astronomy tonight," Daphne said, standing up with Theo as they prepared to go. While they were finished, Leo, and to a lesser extent, Zabini had only just started their proper breakfast.
"Ruin your beauty sleep princess?" Leo remarked, in the middle of his second serving of scrambled eggs.
"You intolerable git," Daphne broke composure, making sure not to be heard by Malfoy's possy, before walking toward the Greenhouses.
"And now I have to deal with her," Nott rolled his eyes and followed Daphne.
The great hall was clearing out now, with students clearing out for the first day of classes. Zabini and Davis had finished a few seconds ago and were now waiting for Leo who ate like a horse. He grabbed a piece of toast to eat on the go and slung his brown bag around his shoulders. The hall was pretty much empty, as most of the teachers had left early to get set up for lessons, and pupils were nearly bursting with anticipation to get there. There were numerous greenhouses scattered across Hogwarts grounds, but the trio was looking for Greenhouse One. As they clambered through the small walk to their first lesson, Leo began to notice that there was a whiff of damp earth and fertiliser, mingling with the heavy perfume of some giant, umbrella sized flowers hanging from the ceiling.
There was a group of Ravenclaws gathered here, but Leo couldn't spot Theo or Daph.
"They are lost," Zabini seemed to have a penchant for pointing out the obvious.
"No shit sherlock," Leo remarked back drawing a snort from Tracey, who was busy tying her dirt blonde hair into a bun so it wouldn't get in the way, while Zabini stood offended.
"And here I thought you liked my remarks."
"Do either of you know any claws?" Tracey's tone turned serious enough to garner attention. There were three separate groups of blue trimmed robes all of whom seemed to be in deep discussion. "It would be useful to know others."
"We'll split up," Leo advised his comrades secretly. "Tracey goes to the right, Zabini to the left and I'll bring up the middle. By the end of this, we should have allies. Understood?"
"Yes captain," Tracey and Zabini said, giving him nods and moving off to their mission.
Leo could hear excited chatter from the ravens in his year, mainly about elective choices to come. There were two boys and a girl in this group, two of which he recognised from the sorting; a boy with brown hair and greenish-brown eyes named Terry, and an Indian girl with black hair and brown eyes called Padma.
"Hey guys, can I join you?" Leo grinned cautiously, rubbing the back of his neck to seem genuinely nervous.
"Of course," a short, blonde boy with a Scottish accent replied. "Kevin Entwhistle. Feel free to call me Kevin or Kev."
"Nice to meet you. Leo McKinnon-Black. Call me Leo."
They went through introductions, after which Terry and Padma took control of the elective conversation. McKinnon could tell that they were deeply opposed to Dumbledore getting rid of a few classes, especially the healing, battle magic and pureblood culture. So far, they seemed to be more interested in Runes and Wand Crafting than anything else.
"But apparently some runes won't go on other woods because the magical properties don't synchronise well," Padma surmised, frustrated with her limited knowledge.
"While many combinations may not seem to work, if you put a combination of lattice runes, they would be in sync with the core of your wand, therefore, negating the effect of the wood," Leo suggested from his spot next to Terry. They looked at Leo as if he had sprouted another head. He shrugged, "I can be smart."
"Any idea for third-year electives?" Terry asked him. "I'm hoping to get a head start so by the end of this year I'll be starting research on electives I'm taking."
"I'm thinking of Runes, Wandcrafting and Care of Magical Creatures. Say, if I'll lend you a book on runes that was in my family library if you're interested," Leo offered, extending an olive branch to the other house.
"Really?" Terry exclaimed with a look of joy etched through his face. "That would be amazing! And you'll help if we don't understand?" Terry looked too hopeful to say no.
"Yeah, though I haven't opened the old tomb," Black realised. He probably should have seen if it was legal or not. "We can go over to the library on Saturday if you want, to look through it."
"It's a deal," Terry grinned and held his hand, McKinnon-Black smirked and shook it in response.
"Do you guys want to come?" Leo looked at a struggling Padma and Kevin.
"Course we do," Kevin grinned at the offer. "Can we bring some others? Maybe Puffs?"
Leo nodded and turned his attention to Patil.
"I'll come along too, maybe we can get a head start on the homework we're bound to be getting," she agreed to meet in the library on Saturday afternoon. "You're not as bad as the rumours state."
"Course not, I still have training to do as a Dark Lord. Honestly, people think becoming one is easy," Leo candidly stated, drawing laughter from the eagles. "Though it would be nice if I didn't get hexed every two seconds."
"We'll spread the word," Padma insisted. "My sister is attempting to run the Gryffindor ring."
Phase one of his long term plan was coming along.
Soon, Madame Sprout opened the greenhouses and the three Snakes sat with the claws for the lesson. The room had 5 groups of seats, and plants in a square surrounding them. Professor Sprout was a portly old lady who was quite rotund with greying hair. She seemed nice but outright growled Leo's name when taking the roll.
"Welcome to Herbology! I hope you're all as excited to learn about plants as I am to share my knowledge of and passion for them with a fresh crop of students. While I want to dive right in and get our hands dirty, this introductory lesson needs to cover a few important topics first. As you may have guessed, this year is about laying the "groundwork" - please pardon the pun, though you will need to get used to that habit of mine - for your Herbological education. In this lesson, we will be discussing just what herbology is and the expectations of the class."
Sprout then looked around the room, seeing exciting faces from the Ravenclaws, though Malfoy's type of Slytherins was looking disgusted by the dirt around the greenhouse.
"Now, just because we're not tackling Fanged Geraniums on our first day, don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Let it be noted that this course is not for the squeamish or faint of heart! Plants can be dangerous little things! While they are not creatures like the mighty dragon, nor beings like the impressive vampire, plants can be just as complex and difficult to deal with. Over the next few years, you will find that there are many parallels between plant behaviour and animal behaviour. Some even display quirks that a human might have! For these reasons, and for many others, you will be expected to treat all plants with the care and respect they deserve."
Defence with the Gryffs was a disappointment. It was the class everybody had been looking forward to, but Quirrell was a joke. His classrooms, just as Parkinson predicted, smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to ward off a vampire he'd met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him. His turban, he told them, had been given to him by an African prince as a thank-you for getting rid of a troublesome zombie, but the Snakes didn't believe the story. For one thing, when Leo had asked to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie, Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather. For another, they noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted on telling Leo and Tracey that it was stuffed full of garlic so Quirrell was protected wherever he went. At least he didn't seem to hate Leo, there was only a slight pause at his name.
After lunch was Transfiguration with McGonagall. Leo made it to Transfiguration with ease. Unlike his fellow first years, he had spent hours the night before studying the Marauders Map. On top of all the secret passageways from the marauder's map, Leo and Blaise had found one more, that was only there from five until eleven am, a little courtyard, and a few extra little alcoves.
Leo sat in the back row of the class next to the aisle. Blaise and Tracey took the seats beside him. The other Slytherins were whispering to each other, and at least unlike the rest of the school, they weren't overly obvious about who they were talking about. Of course, Leo knew, but at least he didn't hear his name, or Potters, all the time. While he had been walking through the school, people had been very obvious about their distaste. Malfoy seemed to be complaining about McGonagall.
"What's that cat doing up there?" Leo asked, turning to look at Theo and Blaise. At the very front of the classroom on the teacher's desk, sat a grey-black cat, whose eyes looked like they were wearing glasses. It stared beadily at the class and held eye contact with Leo once it realised he was staring.
"McGonagall might have a cat?" Theo whispered back, looking sceptically at the cat.
"Let's have some fun," Leo said, from what he knew, cats loved chasing lights. He drew his wand and started alternating between Lumos and Nox to flash a point of light near the cat. She sat stiffly for a while, trying to pretend that chasing a point of light was beneath her dignity. But, a cat is a cat and she started chasing the light around the room. After a few more minutes, the Gryffindors arrived.
"What are you doing?" Granger questioned rudely, walking to the right of the room where the Slytherins sat. They were closest to an expanse of windows that showed the courtyard of flying lessons.
"Playing with the cat," Leo replied. "Obviously."
"But we haven't learnt that charm yet! Professor Flitwick said it was meant to be difficult!" Granger insisted on going through with this, so Leo dropped the charm and the cat walked out the door. All students were watching this exchange, and if he played this right, he would walk out of there with no enemies.
"Nothing's too difficult for me Miss Granger," Leo replied effortlessly, drawing groans from the snakes and snickers from the Lions. "I am, after all, an extraordinary wizard. One should never underestimate my abilities."
A few seconds later, Professor McGonagall entered the room, looking stoic, her mouth in a thin line and glaring at Leo. He had no idea what was happening.
"Miss Granger if you could please be seated," the stern professor instructed. Said witch glared in their direction and veered away rudely.
She started the class with an introduction to her subject. "Welcome to Transfiguration. It is one of the most complex and exciting branches of magic. This subject is useful in daily life as well as in combat to any witch or wizard. With transfiguration, you can learn to change one thing into another."
When she flourished her wand, her desk changed into a pig then the pig transformed back into a desk to great applause from the students.
Then she continued, "Since this is a core subject, you will be studying with me for a minimum of your first five years while you are here at Hogwarts. You will also learn to conjure things from thin air.". She conjured a flock of singing canaries. "How to animate objects?" She tapped her desk and it did a convincing soft-shoe until she tapped it again to make it stop.
"I will also teach you how to transform animals into people, people into animals, objects into animals, animals into objects and one thing into another. I can teach you how to disguise yourself expertly so that your mother will not be able to recognize you. This subject requires patience, lots of creativity, and careful control. I warn you that loss of control can have disastrous results. So there will be no stupidity in my classes. Anyone who needs to be reminded of that will be given detention post haste".
McGonagall didn't show them any magic except for changing her desk to a pig and back, she rather focused on theory. If Leo knew the answer and raised his hand, he would be the last one chosen, and she got a slightly constipated look when his answer was so correct. It was biased, but Leo liked to think that McGonagall was jealous.
Their last class of the day was charms. Flitwick was eager to please, and after an introduction to theory and handing out homework he had them practising wand movements. Leo had partnered with Zabini. The half-goblin had to stand on a pile of books for most of the lesson. Leo found that charms were his favourite class of the day.
The day went by at a spectacular pace and the first years were tired as they lumbered into the great hall. It was difficult to get around the castle, as most experienced on their first day. The marauder's map, as the group of four quickly found out, could not be used in front of others, except to be caught and confiscated. There were 142 staircases in Hogwarts, and they all moved to random places at random intervals. Some were wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. The ghosts didn't help, either. It was always a nasty shock when one of them glided suddenly through a door you were trying to open. Nearly Headless Nick was always happy to point new students in the right direction, but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you were late for class. He would drop wastepaper baskets on your head, pull rugs from under your feet, pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you, invisible, grab your nose, and screech, "GOT YOUR CONK!"
Even worse than Peeves, if that was possible, was the caretaker, Argus Filch. Leo managed to get on the wrong side of him on their very first morning. Filch had seen him outside the entrance hall all muddy and wet. The man later found him heading to Defence and insisted he had ruined the cleanliness, threatening to lock them in the dungeons when they were rescued by Professor Flitwick, who was passing. Filch owned a cat called Mrs Norris, a scrawny, dust-coloured creature with bulging, lamp like eyes just like Filches. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than anyone (though the twins, Leo and Tracey were catching up) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him, and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs Norris a good kick. The first day was worse for Leo who was would often get hexed by someone who had something against the Black family. It was an open secret that a lot of the first years were hesitant about him because of his father. Though many got past that in the end, primarily because of his charming personality and interactions with other muggle-borns, not to mention that he was a McKinnon.
After a tough day, the few Slytherins collapsed in a heap on the grass on a hill of Hogwarts. They were surrounded by the forest on their right and front, a valley could be seen running into a river on their left.
"Let's head down to the lake!" Zabini stirred Leo from his half nap against a rock.
"Two minutes zebra," was the mumbled reply Zabini was given. Daphne had enough of his intolerance and with a mighty swing, she lifted the potions book above her head.
"OW!" Leo shouted and it echoed through to the dark forest, where the birds cawed away. "Violence, Princess." He stood up and brushed back his matted and knotted hair while walking with the others down the steep hill down to the edge of the lake that had a perfect view of the school. Like they had sat in the morning, Leo occupied the large rock, and they created a circle with their homework and books in the middle.
"I should probably read these letters," Leo muttered, drawing exasperated looks from the purebloods around him. He turned to look at them with innocence. "What?"
"Read them, reply to them very politely. These are going to be the ones that are watching your every step," Blaise informed him. "You were already on eleven newspapers, one of which depicted you and I running down the hill. That should tell the world something."
"Which papers?" Leo watched as Tracey and Daphne competed in skipping rocks.
"French once, Italian twice times because you have votes and influential houses. You were mentioned in the Daily Prophet thrice which is British because of your family history," Theo implied more than what most knew. "Russian and German newspapers once because your great grandfather did work there. And then there was one in the states and another in Japan, then an international one."
"The Black Family has always been mentioned when they go to Hogwarts," Zabini informed him, getting onto reading the required Herbology chapters.
Leo took out one of his letters, which had the peacock seal of the Malfoys.
I would like to congratulate you on your sorting into Slytherin House, my son along with numerous newspaper articles informed of your placing. It was assumed that you would go into either Slytherin or Gryffindor, given your strong family history. I am pleased that the future head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black has been reintroduced to this world, and as I was previously of House Black, I would be delighted to help you in any way possible. My son Draco, no matter the shortcomings - That's one way to say it,' Leo deemed. - in his behaviour, would be compelled to assist another son of House Malfoy, and I do hope you will give him a chance.
Attached in this envelope, there is a silver and gold raven brooch, which is a Black family heirloom that belonged to my cousin Sirius from the aftermath of his sorting until his incarceration. It has been passed down for generations since the first Black was sorted. I wish you all the best for the year to come.
Lady of the Noble House of Malfoy
Daughter of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
"Well that's one down, only four to go," Leo gave the letter to Blaise and Theo because it was completely devoid of any useful information. The only significant thing there was him being a son of House Malfoy, where his grandmother was said to be disowned. He took the raven pin and clasped it onto the front of his robe.
"You should reply to them as you read them," Blaise insisted, handing Leo a piece of parchment and a dreaded quill. Leo's handwriting was surprisingly elegant in a quill, and McGonagall had slipped that it was like his fathers.
I truly thank you for the raven brooch you have gifted me; it is nice to have a true - Leo knew that it might confuse Narcissa - Black family heirloom in my possession. Draco and I have had limited interactions at this time, as we often oppose each other's ideas, but I have heard that he is quite good at Transfiguration. It would be my pleasure to get to know him better. Since I am slightly behind on my social education, particularly on alliances and such, is there a possibility that you would be able to gather the Black Book of Alliances from our family vault?
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of McKinnon
The next letter was one of House Longbottom, with a seal of the bear.
- 'This is nice,' Leo thought, happy that the old lady had thought to send him a letter. - Neville has told me you got into Slytherin! My old house! I know that the first weeks will be tough for you, with people assuming you have the character of your father. So I suggest you take them head-on, though subtly, and forge alliances - Must be a pureblood thing - with others. Muggleborns in particular. I have been informed that you have been invited to the Malfoy Yule Ball, and I have ordered three new robes for you. I know this is impolite as you are of your own house, but, no offence intended, boys are horrid at choosing their clothing. - He agreed with that. Choosing clothes was not his fortitude. - I have ordered four different robes. Two of them are of your separate House colours and crests. The next will be one with both House crests and a combination of colours. The last one will be your formal dress robe which is a deep navy blue and combined with black. - Damn that sounds nice - They will arrive by Saturday. If you don't already know, you are expected to sit with the Malfoys and the Longbottom's as both families are distantly related to House Black, which is why Abraxas organised this ball. - That's weird - Remember to keep your wits about you at this event, and do not for a second think that the Malfoy's don't have anything up their sleeve. If worse comes to worst, - she was talking of wardship - mention the McKinnon deaths and immediately contact Arcturus. He may be an old wart, 'This letter is great,' Leo grinned - but he cares enough for his family to take care of the heir. I wish you the best of luck in Slytherin and I suggest you make a move soon. Your family is known for politics, use your ruthlessness and cunning to advance. Please keep an eye on Neville, with his luck something bad will happen.
Proxy to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Selwyn
Regent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Longbottom
Dear Madam Longbottom,
Thank you for ordering the formal dress robes! I would never have thought of which robes to buy, let alone buy three. I have been making my way through houses and befriending several people who are, without a doubt, sending letters home about my character. Although I do have to keep in mind Slytherin Politics, which is a challenge of its own. On another note, I have noticed that Neville has made a strong friendship with Hannah Abbot from Hufflepuff and two muggle-raised Gryffindors. I'll keep an eye out. Harry Potter, the Heir to House Potter, is friendly with Weasley and is unaware of his position in society. I thought it best to inform you of this in case Neville hadn't already done so.
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of McKinnon
The next envelope also had the Malfoy crest on it, so Leo supposed it was either from Lucius or Abraxas. Though it was quite unusual because of his grandmother, meaning his reinstatement was true.
'Very original,' Leo thought.
The news of your sorting was greatly received by myself as I returned to France. I am Abraxas Malfoy, Patriarch of the British Noble House of Malfoy, Head of the French Noble and Revered House of Malfoy, Slytherin Alumni and ally of House Black. It is with great delight - I doubt it - that I heard of your reintroduction to this world. I would like to extend an early invitation to House Black and House McKinnon for the Yuletide Ball I shall be hosting in Malfoy Chateaux. It would be a pleasure to meet the newest scion of House Malfoy.
I assume that you have not been introduced properly to the magical world. For this reason, I have provided you three Portkeys to Diagon Ally, Rue Lumineuse in France and Posto Costoso in Italy. These will serve for a minimum of seven years, which I hope will be a step toward reconciling from the past. I have recently opened up a trust vault in your name, and have advised Lucius against interfering. I encourage you to trial for the Slytherin Quidditch Team, as your father, mother and both sides of the family have produced their fair share of quidditch stars. I am sure you will obtain a position on the team. 'On my own merits, obviously," Leo garnered.
Head of the British Noble House of Malfoy
Lord to the French Noble and Revered House of Malfoy
Leo was thoughtful by the end of the letter, wondering why his great uncle had been so kind. Was it an act? Or genuine?
"What do you know about Abraxas Malfoy?" Leo voiced the question to the group. "And on the same matter Yule Balls?"
"Is Lord Malfoy hosting a ball?" Tracey hoped with a glimmer.
"Possibly? I don't think I was meant to say anything," Leo hesitantly replied, creating an accidental faux pas.
"For future reference, you don't mention upcoming balls unless the invitations are about to arrive," Theo told him over the sound of birds from the forest next door. "Abraxas Malfoy is a decent fellow who went to school with my father. Don't know much about him though."
"He's not a pureblood supremacist, but values some wizarding traditions but still sees a reason for change and adaption. He would rather educate the muggle-borns than eradicate them, and that's the main reason he didn't join the Dark Lord," Daphne added, being her indifferent self. "Why did he contact you?"
"No reason," Leo replied.
"He was livid when he realised his son had killed his niece, your mother. He cut Malfoy senior out of the French Lordship and paid a hefty sum to compensate House McKinnon," Blaise's eyes glinted with mirth. "And the man abhors the ferret."
Daphne's reserved look disappeared as she turned sinister.
It is with the deepest sincerity that I thank you for the Portkeys and my reinstatement into the Noble and Revered House of Malfoy. I would be glad to attend Yuletide Festives in France and meet with you. Fourth-year Slytherin chaser Adrian Pucey is assisting me in Quidditch training for the vacant position of chaser. Thank you once again.
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of McKinnon
Leo meanwhile picked up yet another letter with a Boar sigil in front. It was written in a messy scrawl, appearing to be done last minute.
Good Morning Leo, or Good Afternoon depending on when you read this.
Congratulations on getting into Slytherin. Although I was in Hufflepuff, the hat took its time to decide between the Snakes or the Badgers. My name is Alastor Moody the Regent of House McKinnon. I was close with both your parents as I trained Sirius in the Auror Academy and later vouched for him when he joined the hit-wizards. I taught your mother basic duelling and defence. Now as you are the last of your House, you may want to think about protecting yourself and doing combat training, of which I would be happy to help. You never know when you might need to defend yourself. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!
Regent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of McKinnon
"Well this could be useful," Leo thought to himself. He wasn't going to let his mates on this just yet since he didn't fully trust them.
Hey Mr Moody,
From what I have heard from a few of my friends, you were the most revered Auror of your time. I will be needing combat training, as you have advised and I would like to ask for your help during the summer. I will make sure to be constantly vigilant.
The next one bore the seal of House Black.
Allow me to introduce myself as Cassiopeia Black. It was nice to hear that you had been sorted into Slytherin, and had made friends with the Zabini Heir. Remember, Hogwarts is not only a time for pranking and fun, but to cultivate beneficial alliances. - Definitely a pureblood thing - I suggest you read ahead in all your classes and limit your trust to those in your inner circle.
'I'm a bloody eleven-year-old, why would I have an inner circle?'
I have placed important things in a small package. Open them alone.
He saw no reason to reply to the letter, or at least until he saw what was inside the package.
"Finished already?" Blaise asked him.
"Yep, all done," Leo called back to him. Sgail had flown through and picked up the replies, somehow knowing where he was needed. "Where is your Griffinette?"
"He wasn't in the dorms," Theo frowned while throwing a rock and the giant squid, who had recently made an appearance.
"Ah, yes. There was the complication that he is illegal, so my mother had to send a letter to convince Dumb bee," Blaise told them. His face pulled into a smirk. "Dumbledore could never say no to my mother."
"Why does everyone call her the Black widow? Does she like make members of the Black family widow?" Leo questioned, ignoring the look on Theo's face. Nott facepalmed.
"She's had seven husbands so far and all of them have died under mysterious circumstances," there was a bitter tone to his voice. Blaise continued. "No-one knows if she murdered them or not."
Leo knew better than to push him and instead went over to bug Daphne and Tracey who were pouring over another magazine.
"What are you guys doing?" Leo walked over to the other side of the rocks which were closer to the forest.
"Clothing magazine," Tracey shuffled over as Leo lay down in between them. "Daphne's family owns the clothing line."
There was a large magazine with numerous circled items which were gowns, shirts, dresses and even jeans.
"I didn't know wizards wore jeans," the ignorant Leo remarked.
"Well most don't but we believe it is important to move forward. And they are more comfortable," Daphne admitted, moving on through the magazine. "Have you ordered dress robes?"
"Madame Longbottom ordered them for me."
Daphne nodded and went back to the magazine with Leo looking over her shoulder.
"Have you talked to the twins recently?" Tracey asked. "I think they're planning something."
"They're always planning something, but they're nothing like my father and his friends were," Leo replied to Tracey. They turned a bit sinister. "I think we should do more about that. After all, I have to uphold the Black legacy for this generation."
Tracey smiled back at him in agreement.
Soon they needed to head back to the castle to eat dinner. First years weren't meant to know about the kitchens. As usual, the great hall was crowded with people. Leo noticed that Neville had sat with the Puffs, Terry Boot and Padma seemed to be in a rapid discussion at the Ravenclaw table and the Twins were hunched over numerous parchments, looking to be deep in plans.
"Let's go," Leo signalled to Tracey as he diverted from the Slytherin table. "What are you doing?" Blaise whispered, joining them. "Social standing?"
"Yeah, yeah. We've got it covered," he replied being careful not to draw attention. The group quickly scuttled over to the Gryffindor table, where they received weird looks from those around them.
It was a known rule in Slytherin to not associate with Gryffindors unless you wanted to ruin your social standing. But he assumed the Weasley twins were fine because they were pureblood, they adhered to the traditions (at least in front of Slytherins) and held connections with others. The Black name also had standing and Leo was sure he could deter people from his house.
"Are you snakes meant to be here?" a snide voice asked.
"We are allowed -" Tracey began only to be cut off.
"They are, McLaggen," George identified the voice. McLaggen was burly looking second year, who was known for his hate of Slytherins, which stemmed from Tiberius Ogden, an uncle he loathed.
"No rule says they can't sit here," Fred continued, taking his quill off the paper.
"But they're Snakes!" Ron declared to the table.
"Did I grow scales?" Leo retorted to Ron's annoyed face. Blaise and Tracey snickered in support while Granger interrupted their small discussion.
"Honestly Ronald, you can't be rude just because of their house," Granger was sitting next to an indifferent Harry.
"Thank you, Miss Granger," Leo replied, taking a chicken drumstick out of the Weasels plate.
There were a lot of glares from other Gryffindors, with an army of bigots against them. Not only that, but some Slytherins were sending subtle looks their way. Not that the Gryffindors would notice that, but Leo certainly did and refrained from talking to Granger and Weasley junior for longer.
Fred looked around them and noticed the well-placed glares, "We want to become like Padfoot and Prongs were."
"So we can officially be them," George and Fred spoke vaguely, with nervous looks around. "We've been researching and we know that you know that they knew that you would know how to turn."
It was obvious to them that Granger was listening in to the conversation, so Blaise subtly placed a silencing spell around them. Leo nodded in appreciation.
"Blaise just placed a silencing spell. You can talk freely," Tracey told them, relishing in Granger's frustrated look.
"It's a useful skill to have," George told them, acting more serious than he had been for most of his life.
"No one will know so we'll have an edge," Fred continued their discussion. By now Leo and Blaise had filled their plates to the brim and Tracey was attempting to convince them against eating with the Gryffindors. Who knows? Maybe they'd catch the Lion idiocy.
"And I have the books we need," Leo continued for them, though sceptical. "But it's dangerous."
Fred and George nodded at each other, whilst duplicating and handing off papers. They contained old ministry records of Animagus, the drawbacks of becoming them, a massive list of why it was safe and their school records and personal experiments. The first-years were shocked.
"Where did you get this?" Tracey was the first to break the silence, asking about the ministry records.
"We have connections, and Slytherins are pretty good when you have an agreement," Gred insisted.
"We can't do it but you guys should try," Tracey backed the twins.
"I'm gonna do it," Leo insisted despite Tracey's advice.
"So am I. An opportunity only comes along every once in a while," Blaise stated, which probably went against his better judgement.
Leo grinned at his friends as Tracey resigned to joining them. This was going to be a good year...