Ripped Away - BitchIEatPeople - Twisted-Wonderland (Video Game) [Archive of Our Own] (2024)

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: A Rocky Start Chapter Text Chapter 2: Gringotts and Noble Houses Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 3: Shopping and Familiars Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 4: Wands and Townhouses Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 5: The Hogwarts Express Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 6: The Sorting Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 7: Year One: Threatening Gingers, Potions and Unicorns Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 8: Year One: Broomsticks, Punching Malfoy and Deals with Twins Summary: Chapter Text Chapter 9: Year One: Skipping Classes, Eavesdropping and Three-Headed Dogs Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 10: Interlude: Heartslabyul Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 11: Year One: Loneliness, Halloween, and Trolls Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 12: Year One: Eloquent Bullsh*ting, Failed Attempts and Reuniting with Unicorns Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 13: Year One: Dragons, Maps and Spines like Glowsticks Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 14: Year One: Chirstmas, Gifts and the Mirror of Erised Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 15: Year One: Warnings, What Was Lost, and Love Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 16: Year One: Attempted Theft and A Violent Conclusion Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 17: Interlude: Savanaclaw Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 18: Year One: A Twisted End Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 19: Year Two: Scrotum Hobbits, Flying Fords and Weasleys Galore Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 20: Year Two: Meeting the Weasleys, Girl Crushes and Ronald being an Idiot Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 21: Year Two: Lockhart, Malfoys and Threatening Lawsuits Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 22: Year Two: Ronald Steals a Car, New Bling and Phoenixes Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 23: Year Two: Howlers, Lovegoods and Mandrakes Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 24: Year Two: Qudditch Roast-offs, Creeveys and Photoshoots Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 25: Interlude: Octavinelle Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 26: Year Two: Nundu, Mysterious Voices and Petrified Cats Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 27: Year Two: Speculation, Uncomfortable Chats and Barmy Bludgers Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 28: Year Two: Dueling Clubs, Badgerfluffs and Parseltongue Notes: Chapter Text Notes: References

Chapter 1: A Rocky Start

Chapter Text

Ah my lovely Lady,

You are a noble and beautiful flower of evil

Truly you are the fairest of them all

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the…

Thou who art guided by the Dark Mirror

Follow thy heart and take the hand of the one reflected in the mirror

Flames that reduce even the stars to ash

Ice that imprisons even time

Great tree that swallows the sky

Fear not the power of darkness, child

Come now, show us your power

Myself, them, and you

We are all running out of time

Do not let go of the hand held out before you

No matter the cost

“Mirror mirror on the wall... if you wanted me there so badly, then why did you send me away?”

—-----------------------------------------------------------

Heracles Regulus Potter cared about a grand total of three things; learning, furthering herself, and her friends in Twisted Wonderland. Everything and everyone else could die in a fire for all she cared.

Her parents had died in a car accident when she was one year old; the first of many incidents that reflected her terrible luck. Then her ‘relatives’ (she hesitated to call them that), not wanting to take care of the ‘freak child’ thrust upon them, tossed her at the doorstep of the nearest orphanage and called it a day. From then on, Wool’s Orphanage was the closest thing Heracles had to a home, not that she cared to call it that.

From then on, odd things started happening at the orphanage. Food went missing when Heracles was hungry, despite the fact she couldn’t even walk or climb to get the food at that age. A boy who pulled her long red hair when she was two suddenly acquired severe second degree burns on his hands after touching her. It was as if her hair had turned to fire. A matron that tried to slap her for punching a child that tried to make fun of her was sent flying to the other side of the room by an invisible force. No one so much as brushed shoulders with her in the hallway after that.

The staff thought she was strange. The other children thought she was a witch. Or a demon. Heracles thought she was special. Perhaps that was why the mirror chose her.

When she was ten, Heracles found an old mirror at a rubbish sale nearby the primary school she attended. It was a beautiful but tarnished silver, with clouded glass and intricate designs. She bought it for five pounds of her twenty-five pound orphanage allowance from the old man running the sale after staring him down for a good deal.

That night she hung the mirror on the wall at the foot of her bed. She was the only one in the orphanage with her own room. No one wanted to room with the witch girl. Then something happened.

At three o’clock on the dot, the witching hour, a hand appeared in the mirror. Heracles woke up and she had looked at the mirror in shock, before a stern acceptance overtook her soft, childish features. She packed her bags without a word. She saw the hand for what it was; an escape from the hell she had been raised in. And she wasn’t about to turn it away.

With a single suitcase and her stuffed dragon in her arms, she took the hand held out before her in the mirror. Then she fell asleep. Then she woke up, and everything changed.

‘Magic is real.’, was her first thought when she saw the flying coffins. She had smiled. She had always known she was special, and now she had proof. She had been whisked away to a magical world, like the Pevensie children and Narnia. She had felt proud of herself, prouder than usual.

Then she met Grimm. Then she went to the library, and then she met Crowley. At first, things were bleak. Crowley was a fool and Grimm was difficult, but she had managed. She always had. Then she met Ace. Then Deuce. And suddenly she had people who cared about her.

From then on, her days had been filled with happiness. She smiled and laughed, things she never did at Wool’s. She made friends who saw her through the best and the worst of times. She learned everything she could. Magic was power, after all, and power was so veryuseful.She shadowed her dorm leader friends (friends! It was such a lovely word when she actually got to use it!). She learned how to uphold order from Riddle. She learned how to outsmart people from Leona. She learned the art of the compromise from Azul. She learned how to manipulate others to get what she wanted from Jamil. She learned how her beauty made her powerful from Vil. She learned what diligence could get her from Idia. She learned how useless human conventions were from Malleus. The others taught her things as well, but the dorm leaders taught her the most.

The Overblots were rough. Crowley was no help at first, but he surprised her by shaping up after Riddle’s incident. Possibly because a ten year old solving his problems for him was bad for his image. With every fight, Heracles got stronger. She learned how to win, no matter the cost. Malleus’s Overblot was the worst, but she brought him back to his senses in the end, just like she had with others.

Then the end of the year came. Everything had been perfect. She was the top of her class despite her age. Her magic had been honed to perfection. Everyone in school loved her. Ramshackle was getting renovated. She had countless offers from friends and staff to spend the summer with them at their homes. She had everyone’s attention and praise. Crewel had even offered to adopt her. Her life was amazing.

Then, like it had on that fateful night so many moons ago, the mirror started glowing again.

She had been in the mirror chamber with her friends. It was the day after her eleventh birthday. The last week had been glorious. Each dorm had thrown her their own personal birthday party, and she had loved them all. They had told her how much she was cherished and loved. They had showered her with attention and gifts. It had been the best week of her life. Looking back on it, Heracles wondered if it was the universe’s way of giving her a farewell party.

Heracles had been in the mirror chamber to bid them goodbye for a few weeks. She was going to stay with Crewel for the break. But don’t worry, she had told them with a smile, she would be seeing them in a few weeks at Kalim’s pool party. They had laughed, ruffled her hair in the way only she let them do and told her goodbye.

She had no idea that would be the last goodbye she would ever tell them.

Hands reached out from the dark mirror and yanked her back. She barely heard her name being called in horror before she was flung back into the same dark, decrepit room she had thought she had left behind for good a year ago.

Heracles had cried. She had screamed in grief. How could this be happening to her?! After all she had been through?! Why did her luck have to curse her now?!Why why why?!When the matrons realized she was back, they had called the police. Her ‘disappearance’ had been reported, it had seemed. That had surprised Heracles. They had cared enough to report her vanishment. Howtouching.

The police had wrapped a shock blanket around her sobbing form. They had tried to question her. Where had she been? Who had kidnapped her?

Kidnapped her?As if she would ever allow such a low fate to befall herself! She was far smarter than that! She had simply screamed at them to leave. They didn’t understand her pain! They never would! They would never understand what it was like to find the perfect home, only to be torn away from it without warning! They would never understand how utterlyaloneshe was!

Heracles hadn’t slept that night. Instead, she had knelt in front of the mirror she had bought on a whim so many months ago. She had clawed at the glass until her fingers bleed, begging and pleading and screaming for it to let her in. To let her go home. Then, when she had finally screamed her voice hoarse, all she had been able to rasp in her delirium was;

“Mirror mirror on the wall… if you wanted me there so badly, then why did you send me away?”

—-------------------------------------------------

Three months after her forceful eviction from Twisted Wonderland, Heracles sat on a ratty old loveseat with a sour expression on her face. She had been dragged away from her reading because she ‘had a visitor’, and she was not at all happy because of that.

To Hades with the fact that Mrs. Mc-whatever had just told her magic was real (no sh*t!), or that there was a whole secret society of magic users, or that she had been accepted into a magic school, or that there was a magic shopping center called Diagon Alley, she didn’t care. She wasthis closeto cracking a formula she needed to do to help her find a way home, and the old lady interrupted her! Now she was going to have to start the formula over from the beginning!

“I’m a what?”, Heracles questioned bluntly, her emerald green eyes set on the old, stern looking woman before her in what she would only describe as a witch costume. Minerva McGonagall was a pinched looking elderly woman that reminded Heracles of the matron at Wool’s, where she had been forced to take up residence again upon her ejection from her true home. Heracles didn’t like her on principle.

“You’re a witch, Heracles.”, McGonagall repeated stiffly.

The woman was sitting across from her on the lumpy couch in the ratty foyer the orphanage used for having potential adopters meet the children they were interested in. Mrs. Cole, the head matron of the orphanage, looked between Heracles and the strange woman in robes with fear and disdain. She had made it very clear how much her staunchly catholic self had hated Heracles and her magic over the years, and she wasn’t about to stop now. Heracles ignored Mrs. Cole (as she always did) and glared at McGonagall.

“I heard you the first time, you daft bint.”, Heracles told her bluntly. McGonagall gawked in mortification at the child’s rudeness.

“I beg your pardon?!”, she asked. Heracles scoffed.

“Beg all you want, you old hag, but I won’t listen.”, the redhead responded.

One of Heracles’s favorite pastimes when she was younger had been to compare herself to her mythological counterpart; the ancient Greek hero, Heracles. She hadn’t been too fond of him as a person, but she had rather liked reading about his deeds and had taken pride in what little she could find in common with the legendary figure. Her favorite had been how he had killed a snake with his bare hands as a child, because she had had a similar incident befall her when she was three. A venomous snake from the London zoo escaped its habitat and had found its way to Wool’s, and it ended up right in her crib. She, instead of strangling it, had talked to it in hushed hisses for the whole night. She had cried for hours when her new (and then only) friend had been taken away by animal control when a terrified matron discovered him the next morning.

Heracles’s least favorite trait she shared with her namesake, however, was their fatal flaw. Heracles the man’s main problem had been his uncontrollable anger, and Heracles the girl was loathe to admit she shared a similar problem. Her cunning could sometimes end up being undermined by her anger, as Jamil had liked to put it, and her deplorable manners when she was irritated didn’t help, Vila had said. In the case of her anger, Heracles liked to compare herself to the philosopher Diogenes the Cynic; like him, she just didn’t give a sh*t about what people thought of her, and that included McGonagall. McGonagall sputtered in rage, and Heracles suddenly remembered that she was in the presence of someone else.

“Well I never!”, the old woman huffed. She had expected more politeness from Heracles, given she looked so much like her mother, but clearly she took after her father personality wise! Heracles just kept glaring at the matronly professor, and Mrs. Cole glared at her most troublesome charge.

“You’ll have to forgive her, Mrs. McGonagall. Heracles is a wicked child who doesn’t know how to behave.”, the bitter old woman spat. Heracles glared at the orphanage worker with the fire of a thousand hells.

“I’ll show you wicked,du verbitterte Schweinshure von einer Frau! (you bitter pig whor* of a woman!)”,Heracles cursed in German. She had learned the language from Vil, and learned the curses from books, because Vil wouldn’t teach her how to swear because he thought it was ‘ugly’. Mrs. Cole’s face started to turn red. She had no idea what Heracles was saying, but she knew it was an insult. McGonagall decided it was best for her to intervene.

“Heracles!”, McGonagall said sharply. Heracles slowly turned and looked at her with an expression that said ‘bitch you dare to talk back to me?’. If McGonagall was a lesser woman, she would have been intimidated. Instead, the old professor merely glared back.

“I will have you know, we do not tolerate such inadequate behavior at Hogwarts. So I suggest you make an adjustment before the start of term.”, the graying woman warned her. Heracles glared at her even harder.

“Do not presume to tell me what to do, old woman. You come in here to tell me things I already know, and then you try to tell me how to act? Are you arrogant or just stupid?”, the redhead asked. McGonagall blinked at her.

“Tell you things you already know?”, she echoed. Heracles cackled mockingly.

“Yes, things I already know! I’m a witch, no f*cking sh*t Sherlock! How else could I be giving people second degree burns and sending them flying across the room?!”, Heracles questioned. McGonagall gaped at the child in front of her when she realized she wasn’t exaggerating because of the serious look in her Avada Kedvara green eyes. There was no way mere accidental magic could be responsible for such incidents. If the girl was telling the truth, then her feats were astounding. Heracles scoffed at the shocked woman. She didn’t have the patience for gawking.

“You know what, screw this! Screw you! Just give me the damn list of supplies and I’ll go get them by myself!”, Heracles yelled at McGonagall, before snatching her acceptance letter and her supplies list out of her hands. McGonagall didn’t stop her, but did bristle angrily at the action.

“Very well! Have fun with your shopping, Miss Potter!”, McGonagall huffed indignantly, and then with a loud ‘crack’ she was gone. Mrs. Cole gaped at the strange scene, and Heracles just rolled her eyes.

“‘Have fun with your shopping, Miss Potter!’. Yeah, and you can suck my ass.”, Heracles grumbled. Then she turned to glare at Mrs. Cole.

“So are gonna give me a ride to this ‘Diagon Alley’ place or do you want to let the police find out you let an eleven year old who previously went missing for a year hitchhike to downtown London?”

—--------------------------------------------------

Heracles walked into a bar with a sign out front that read ‘the Leaky Cauldron’. Mrs. Cole had had enough of her existence that day it had seemed, because she had forced Heracles to take the tube to downtown London, the only upside being that the bitter bitch paid her riding fee. Heracles walked into the bar and quickly dashed through it without a word, avoiding eyecontact with the bar patrons. She was there to shop, not get smashed. When she reached a brick wall, she scowled.

“Well f*ck. How the hell am I supposed to get through a damn wall?”, Heracles grumbled. Then a bellowing laugh resounded from behind her.

“Need a hand, lass?”, a man’s voice asked. Heracles turned around and saw a bearded man holding a half-cleaned glass. He was the bartender. Heracles schooled her usually angry expression into one of neutrality and nodded. She needed help, and while she was a bit annoyed with herself for driving McGonagall away when she needed more information on earth’s magical world, she was calm enough to reign herself in.

“Yes. Could you show me the entrance to Diagon Alley?”, She asked. The man smiled at her and nodded.

“Of course. You here alone?”, he asked, walking forward. Heracles hesitantly nodded.

“Yes. I don’t exactly have anyone to accompany me. The woes of being an orphan, I suppose.”, she mused. The bartender then looked at her with sadness, before tapping the wall three times with a stick. Heracles watched in surprise as the wall opened and revealed a bustling street of shops. The man smiled down at her.

“That’s unfortunate, but even so, have a good trip, lass.”, he told the young girl. Heracles nodded curtly at him.

“Of course, sir.”, she answered, and then she left without a word, before pulling out her supplies list. She briefly skimmed over the required items, before sneering when she realized the color of the words.

“Who the hell writes official school information in green ink?”

—-----------------------------------------------------

Far away in Scotland, the person who wrote official school information in green ink was sitting in his office, writing more things in green ink. Then there was a shout of ‘acid pop’ (aka the password to his office), and the door opened. A rather frazzled looking Minerva McGonagall walked in, muttering under her breath about ‘redheaded hellions that acted worse than James’. The green-ink-using person, also known as Albus Dumbledore, looked at his colleague in curiosity.

“Minerva my dear, what on earth has gotten into you?”, the old man asked. Minerva looked at him with anger in her brown eyes.

“It’s Heracles, Albus!”, she yelled. Dumbledore’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Heracles Potter?”, he questioned. Minerva nodded frantically.

“Yes, her!”, she confirmed. Albus blinked at her.

“What’s wrong with her?”, he asked. Minerva laughed hysterically.

“What’s wrong with her?! Albus, she’s not at all what you said she would be! I was right when I told you those muggle relatives of hers were the worst sort imaginable! I found her in an orphanage, Albus! A muggle orphanage!”, Minerva exclaimed. Despite her and Heracles’s less than stellar first interaction, that didn’t mean she didn’t care about the child. She was the child of two of her favorite students, after all, and she had been one of the people that left her on the Dursely’s doorstep all those years ago. Albus went pale.

“An orphanage?”, the old man echoed. He had not anticipated that the Dursley’s would give Heracles up. He had assumed that the bond of blood would be enough for them to keep her. His deputy was right, Heracles was not at all as he had thought she would be. Minerva continued raving.

“Yes, an orphanage! And she was terrible, Albus! So… so jaded and hateful! I’ve never seen a child with such angry eyes! She acted downright beastly!”, she yelled, and Albus went even paler as he remembered his brother saying similar words about a certain friend of his decades ago.

“He’s not good for you, Albus! He’s evil and hateful! No seventeen year old should have such angry eyes!”,Aberforth had yelled at him the night after Grindelwald had come over for the first time. Albus’s throat constricted as he remembered the man he fell in love with, and then he swallowed thickly.

“I’ll look into it, Minerva.”, Albus told the Transfiguration teacher, and Minerva huffed once more before storming off. Albus buried his face in his hands, and vaguely noted Fawkes’s confused cry off to his left.

Heracles Potter, the-girl-who-lived… Why did the name that filled the wizarding world with hope suddenly fill him with dread?

Chapter 2: Gringotts and Noble Houses

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles wandered the streets of Diagon Alley, looking begrudgingly impressed. She had to admit, earth’s wizarding world was certainly something. The vibrant shops and nick nacks were fascinating. Twisted Wonderland would always be better though, she decided with no small amount if pride directed at the place she considered her true home.

‘Their fashion sense definitely needs an update, though.’, Heracles thought as she cringed at the periwinkle robes of an older witch that walked past her. The majority of the clothes she had seen during her sight seeing had been ugly as sin. Vil would have had a stroke if he had seen the sorry excuses for clothes earth’s wizards and witches called ‘robes’. Heracles silently vowed to never wear witch’s robes, no matter what the school required her to wear as their uniform.

After a few more moments of walking, Heracles arrived at a grand white marble building that towered over the comparatively quaint shops and stores. The facade of the building read ‘Gringotts’ in all caps. Heracles remembered McGonagall mentioning that Gringotts was the name of the wizarding bank. She had also mentioned that it was the only place to get non-magical money (‘muggle money’, as she had called it) exchanged for wizarding money. Heracles walked into the white building without a second thought.

As she entered, Heracles took notice of the short figures manning the teller desks in the bank. They were small, with sharp teeth, claws and gnarly teeth. Heracles didn’t react to their presence. She had seen stranger things when she was in Twisted Wonderland. The creatures were of no note to her.

Getting in line at one of the desks, Heracles felt around in the pocket of her black zip up jacket and cursed. She had brought all the money she had saved up from her weekly orphanage allowances, but she didn’t think it would be enough to afford everything she needed for school. She could have brought some of her jewelry to pawn off, but every piece of jewelry she owned was a gift from her friends in Twisted Wonderland. She would die before she sold her momento’s of the only people who cared about her.

Once she reached the front of the line, Heracles plastered her ‘Azul smile’ onto her face. It was the face of a gentlemanly business man, one that had hidden intentions. But no one would be able to figure out those intentions until it was too late.

‘Chin up, shoulders back Angelfish. Confidence is key. That’s how deals get made.’, Azul had told her one night before he started hearing the requests of ‘poor unfortunate souls’. She had wanted to see the process, to learn from him. So he had let her watch as he made his contracts. She could still remember the smell of the ink he used to-

“How may I help you today?”, the raspy voice of the teller said, interrupting her pitfall of nostalgia. Heracles made sure she was following Azul’s advice to the letter and gave the creature a charming smile, one that was so unlike her usual demeanor.

“I would like to make an exchange. Non-magical money for magical money.”, the green eyed girl answered with confidence. The teller nodded.

“And what name will that exchange be under?”, the teller asked, picking up his quill as he started to write something in his information book. He didn’t even look up at Heracles during the entire process.

“Heracles Regulus Potter.”, Heracles answered with pride. She may be a nobody on earth, but she was a somebody in Twisted Wonderland… or rather, she would be once she went home and graduated from Night Raven College. Education was key when making a name for oneself, Azul had told her once.

The teller’s head snapped up, and he looked at Heracles with wide, beady black eyes. Under her fringe, a faded scar could be seen. It was barely there, almost completely gone in fact, but to the trained eye it was noticeable. The teller gave her a knife-filled grin.

“One moment, please.”, he said, and then he got up off his high stool and walked off down a hall behind him, filled with what Heracles could see were offices. Heracles waited patiently for the teller's return, assuming he merely needed to get something to help with the exchange.

After a few moments, the teller returned with another creature. This one was much more imposing than the teller. He was barely taller than Heracles, but his eyes were old, like Malleus’s. He wore a fine suit, and around his waist was a silver sword that would have had Heracles’s Diasomnia friends looking at it in admiration. The teller gestured to her and whispered something in the other creatures ear in a strange language. Then the more imposing creature, once stern and stoic, gave a business smile and opened his arms welcomingly.

“Lady Potter, how marvelous it is to meet you at last. I am Ragnok, your account manager. May your wealth forever flow like a river of gold.”, the creature greeted with a deep bow at the waist. Heracles stared at the display.

She didn’t know what was going on. She had no idea why the strange creature before her (now known as Ragnok) was bowing to her, and she had no idea what to say. So, for her current predicament, she made use of some advice Jamil had once given her.

‘When someone bows to you, it’s best to bow back. And when they say something you don’t understand as a greeting, copy them and use any observations you can make about what to say beyond that. Look at what they’re wearing, what they carry with them. Even if you guess wrong, chances are they’ll be charmed enough by your attempt to guess in the first place that they’ll let it go.’

Heracles let Jamil’s words fill her head as she bowed at the waist with a flourish in the way Lilia had taught her.

“And may the heads of your enemies lay severed at your feet, Lord Ragnok.”, Heracles responded with grace. She figured that, since the creature casually carried a sword, that he was a part of a military people. That meant greetings involving luck in combat were welcome. Both the creature’s eyes widened. A human had never responded to their traditional greeting with such respect and social correctness before. Ragnok laughed gruffly.

“And I wish the same to you, my Lady. I regret that we haven’t had the chance to discuss your finances sooner, but whenever we attempted to get in touch with you or your guardians, we were stonewalled by the Ministry.”, Ragnok explained, and Heracles was even more confused.

“My finances? The Ministry? I wasn’t aware that I evenhadfinances here, or that some ‘Ministry’ was keeping me from them.”, Heracles said, anger starting to creep into her voice. Someone was hiding something from her. She didn’t like it when people hid things from her. Ragnok and the teller scowled at her, a dark look in their eyes.

“Then it seems some people have not been doing their jobs correctly. Come with me, my Lady, and we will sort this out at once.”, Ragnok told her, and Heracles did as he asked, trotting after him down the busy hall of creatures. Her last thought as the teller returned to his desk and helped the next person in line was;

‘Why do I get the feeling I'm about to be very angry and very happy all at the same time?’

—-----------------------------------------------------

“So let me get this straight; you’re a goblin, and you and many other goblins run this bank. My parents weren’t actually non-magical people who died in a car crash, but instead were magical people who were murdered by this Dark Lord guy, who is basically wizarding Hitler but with a snake fetish. Said snake fetish guy tried to kill me, but failed for some reason and I may or may not have killed him in the process. And now because of all this I’m famous and celebrated as a hero?”, Heracles questioned as she stared at Ragnok from her place in the leather chair across from his desk. The goblin had just finished unloading all of the information about her life that had been kept from her, and apparently he wasn’t done, because he opened his mouth to speak after nodding.

“Yes. And as a result of your parents death, you are now the Lady of the Most Noble House of Potter.”, Ragnok went on. He was choosing to ignore the ‘snake fetish’ part of Heracles’s words. The redheaded child in front of him took a deep breath.

“Okay, so the magical world has its own aristocracy, and I’m a part of it. That’s useful, I suppose, but why was I never told about this?”, Heracles asked. Ragnok’s eyes went dark with rage.

“The Ministry of Magic, the governing body of the wizarding world, has been trying to meddle in the Potter finances for years. They believe that since your parents are gone and you are a child, that they are entitled to the money that was left for you. We were able to keep them out of your vaults, but we had to seal your parent’s will in the process.”, Ragnok explained. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“And how exactly do we go about unsealing it?”, she asked. Ragnok grinned at her.

“You merely have to prove you are Heracles Regulus Potter. Once you prove you are Lily and James Potter’s next of kin, you withhold the right to unseal the will at any time. Then I can help you hold a proper will reading, without Ministry interference.”, Ragnok revealed. Heracles nodded.

“And how do I prove who I am?”, she asked. Ragnok took an ornate silver knife encrusted with red gems out from a drawer in his desk, as well as a piece of parchment.

“With this.”, he said, and he handed the knife over to his client. Heracles looked at her green eyes in the reflection of the immaculate blade.

“That knife is known as a bloodline blade. It’s a special knife that only we goblins know how to make. Simply cut yourself with it and drip your blood onto the parchement. It will then show your full name, ancestry and the total amount of titles, properties and money you are slated to inherit.”, Ragnok explained. Heracles nodded, and without a word sliced her palm on the blade. She squeezed her hand into a fist over the parchment, and as blood pooled onto the paper, the red fluid was absorbed into the material and turned into writing. The writing read as followed;

Heracles Regulus Potter

Father: Lord James Charlus Potter

Mother: Lady Lily Jasmine Potter-Evans

Godfather: Lord Sirius Orion Black

Ladyships:

Lady of the Most Noble House of Potter (by paternal bloodline)

Lady of the Most Ancient House of Slytherin (by right of conquest)

Lady of the Most Ancient House of Gaunt (by right of conquest)

Lady of the Most Noble House of Lestrange (due to being the closest related next of kin to the deceased Lord Lestrange)

Lady of the Most Noble House of Fawkley (due to being bequeathed the title in the will of the previous Lord Fawkley)

Heirships:

Heiress of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black (due to being directly named the heir by the current Lord Black)

Vaults:

Potter Trust Fund Vault

Potter Vault

Slytherin Vault

Lestrange Vault

Fawkley Vault

Black Trust Fund Vault

Properties Inherited:

Potter Manor (Godric’s Hollow, England)

Lestrange Villa (La Rochelle, France)

Fawkley House (Bristol, Wessex)

Properties To Be Inherited:

Number 13 Grimmauld Place (London, England)

Black Hall (Aberdeen, Scotland)

Heracles read all the words as soon as they appeared, her eyes wide with shock. She already knew she was a Lady and that her family had likely left her a sizable inheritance, but this was huge! She had more properties than she knew what to do with and probably had more money than she could spend in a lifetime!

‘Azul and Ruggie would be frothing at the mouth.’, she thought, thinking of all the schemes Azul would come up with to double her money, and all the sweet talking Ruggie would do to try and get some of her money. She would have given him money regardless, though. Ragnok stared at the paper in shock.

“It seems you have more holdings than we anticipated, Lady Potter.”, the goblin said. Heracles nodded absentmindedly, still stuck in her own head.

“Indeed. I assume you have the qualifications to manage these as well?”, Heracles asked. Ragnok grinned at her and nodded.

“Of course. I wouldn’t be head of the board of Gringotts if I didn’t.”, he answered. Heracles nodded in response.

“Then I’ll adjust your pay accordingly for managing all my accounts. Now, if we could move on to managing any potential investments my parents may have left behind?”, Heracles asked. Ragnok’s grin widened.

‘This girl… she knows what she’s doing. She knows money like the back of her hand. The first interesting client I’ve had in years, and it’s an eleven year old noble lady. How peculiar… ‘, Ragnok thought, before pulling out his files on the Potter investments.

“Your father had several monetary investments in Quality Quidditch Supplies and Flourish and Blotts Books, as well as Zonko’s Joke Shop. This is the current value of those investments.”, Ragnok told her as he handed her a piece of paper. Heracles’s eyes widened when she saw the large number on the paper.

“Yowza.”, she said. She could imagine Azul having to physically restrain himself from meddling in her very,veryvaluable investments. Ragnok nodded.

“Indeed.”, he concurred. Heracles contemplated her new assets, before asking a very crucial question.

“Ragnok, how much liquidated money do I have in total, minus properties and investments?”, she questioned. Ragnok did some mental figuring before answering.

“In the Potter vaults? About a million galleons in the trust fund, and fifty million galleons in the main vault. No one knows how much is in the others. They’ve all been sealed for at least a decade”, Ragnok answered. Heracles nodded along with his words.

“Uh-huh, and how much would that be in non-magical money?”, she asked. Ragnok did some more mental figuring.

“Around five million in muggle money for the trust, and two point five billion for the main.”, he responded. Heracles grinned and she swore madol signs appeared in her eyes.

‘Oh momma.’, she thought happily, and Heracles bade a silent goodbye to Wool’s Orphanage and everyone in it as she started running numbers in her head. She had more than enough money to live like Vil for the rest of her years without working a day in her life, and she had properties all across the isles and mainland Europe that she could live in. Leaning back in her chair, Heracles gave Ragnok her ‘Azul smile’ and folded her hands in her lap.

“Ragnok, make a withdrawal for a thousand galleons from my trust vault and dispense the key for Number 13 Grimmauld Place into my possession. I’ll be taking up residence there for the foreseeable future.”, Heracles ordered. Ragnok nodded. He didn’t try to tell her that as a minor, living on her own was illegal. He knew that every Ministry law had a loophole, and that she was smart enough to find them. Ragnok grinned widely as he handed the key to the Black townhouse to the infamous girl-who-lived, who happily took it out of his hand and admired the family crest at the top of the key.

“Now, onto the matter of my parents will. I want a private will reading held by you, if that’s alright. Only the people addressed in the will are to be present. No press, no guests, no nothing. Am I clear?”, Heracles said. Ragnok nodded.

“Crystal, my Lady.”, the goblin said. Heracles’s smile widened. After months of misery, things were finally starting to look up for her.

“Fantastic. Now, let's start on the process of getting those other vaults unsealed, shall we?”

—--------------------------------------------------

Heracles walked out of Gringotts with a moleskine pouch full of galleons, a wide smile on her face, and a healed palm. It had taken several hours, but her inheritances had been sorted out. She now officially held the title of Lady Potter-Black-Gaunt-Sytherin-Fawkley-Lestrange (or Lady Potter for short. She didn’t want to sound pretentious by using every title she had in her everyday address).

When the paper had said she acquired the Slytherin and Gaunt Ladyships by ‘right of conquest’, it meant that when she defeated the Dark Lord, his holdings became hers. Apparently when a noble witch or wizard killed or permanently incapacitated another noble witch or wizard in self defense, that witch or wizard's holdings and titles became the victim’s as compensation for the slight. Heracles thought that was a rather odd rule for a culture that seemed rather peaceful, but if it made her richer then she wouldn’t question it.

The title of Lady Fawkley had been bestowed upon her by the now deceased Lord Atticus Fawkley, who had stated on his deathbed fifteen years ago that his title and assets would go to ‘whichever glorious son-of-a-bitch defeated the noseless freak’ after he had been left dying at seventy two from a curse by one of said noseless-freak’s followers. He had no children or other relatives, so his wish hadn’t been disputed. Heracles had laughed for a solid ten minutes when she heard the old man’s reasoning in his will. The whole thing was Leona levels of bitter and petty and it was hilarious. She knew she and Atticus would have been good friends had he lived through his curse.

The Lestrange title had been fairly straightforward; the previous Lord Lestrange had been a follower of the Dark Lord and had died in battle before he had any children. His younger brother had met the same fate, and Lord Lestrange’s widow had lost any of her Dowager Lady rights after she attacked the Lord and Lady of House Longbottom (which Heracles thought was a rather unfortunate last name to have) and rendered them permanently mentally incapacitated. Heracles had questioned why the Lestrange title hadn’t gone to the Longbottoms or their son as a result of the right of conquest law, but apparently the law only applied to those who inherited a title, not those who married into one. So as the third cousin of the late Lord Lestrange through her great-grandmother, Heracles was the closest related living person to him and therefore the first person eligible to inherit the title.

Her heirship to House Black had been a doozy. She was technically a Black through her paternal grandmother Dorea Black-Potter, but blood hadn’t played a part in her acquisition of the Black heir title. Apparently it had been gifted to her by her convict godfather, Sirius Black, who had sworn off marriage and children and had to name her his heir as a result. Heracles had known she had a godfather from the bloodline test, but she had assumed he was dead like every other adult figure in her life on earth. But apparently, he wasn’t dead… he was just in prison after murdering over a dozen people. As if her life wasn’t already a clusterf*ck as it was, now she had a convicted murderer for a godfather. Joy.

Heracles didn’t technically own the Black properties or vault, but she had access to them and could live in them if she so desired. In the absence of the Lord of the house, any servants would have to listen to the heir. She was basically in charge of House Black as long as Sirius stayed in prison.

There was also the fact that she wasn’t the only member of House Black. With all the other titles she inherited, there were no other members of the families she was now in charge of. But House Black had several still living members, apparently. Members that she was now in charge of in the absence of the Lord. Again, joy.

Heracles filed all the noble drama away in her head, right beside all the advice she had been given from Lilia and Jamil on how to deal with noble drama. She could deal with wizarding politics later, right now she had shopping to do. Heracles took out her magic pen from her pocket, her most prized possession and her favorite memento of the school she called home. She stared into her own eyes in the reflection of the clear purple gem at the top. Her emerald eyes gleamed with determination.

‘Whatever. It’s not like any of that political bullsh*t matters. I’ll find a way back home eventually, and when I do, I’ll leave and never look back. What do I have here, anyways? Wealth is always nice to have, but it’s hollow with no one to share it with. I’d trade all the money and properties in the world just to see them again.’, Heracles thought longingly. Then she shoved her pen into her pocket and wiped the tears welling in her eyes on her jacket sleeve. She didn’t have time to get sentimental.

With one last deep breath, Heracles took a left and walked into the nearest shop, not bothering to check the sign out front.

Notes:

Another chapter bites the dust. Forgive me if this is bad, I've been out of touch with the Harry Potter fandom lately for... obvious reasons (J.K 'just kidding' Rowling is a topic I like to avoid at all costs), so forgive me if my fanon isn't up to date. The Ministry is not Heracles's friend (no sh*t), and I'm not really sure what to do about Dumbledore. On the one hand, he did a lot of things I didn't like in the books, but on the other hand, Heracles needs some allies in Hogwarts. I also don't know what to do about Ron and Hermione. Should they and Heracles be friends? And what house should she be in? It's a lot of stuff to figure out. Next time, shopping and haggling.

So Long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 3: Shopping and Familiars

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles took in the smell of old leather from the shop she had just walked into. Trunks of all different shapes and sizes lined the walls with small tags with the details of what features each trunk had dangling from the handles. Heracles slowly walked through the store with her hands behind her back. She lifted the tag of a large rectangular trunk made of a black leather she had never seen before.

‘Made of ethically sourced Romanian dragon hide. Enchanted to contain several trunks worth the space. Special containment for potions and potions ingredients included, equipped with climate control. Shrinkable. Antistain charms included. Feather light charms and engraving available upon request.’, Heracles read. She was able to infer that, because of the high-quality seeming material and special attachments, that the trunk was probably the best and most expensive in the shop.

‘Always aim for the best, Apple Blossom. Managing your money is important, but quality comes before everything else, even price. You need the best to succeed, so the best is what you should get.’, Vil’s voice chimed in from her supply of happy memories that made her want to cry. Heracles silently agreed with him and picked up the trunk, carrying it over to the desk at the back of the shop.

‘Right you are, Vil.’, Heracles thought in response to her friend’s advice. It was easier to respond then to not. It kept her from crying in public because she knew no one was going to talk back. Heracles plopped the trunk onto the desk, causing the clerk to look at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I would like to purchase this trunk, as well as have it enchanted with a feather light charm and engraved.”, the redhead said confidently. The clerk narrowed his eyes at her.

“That will be a hundred galleons.”, the clerk responded gruffly. Heracles scoffed. She may not quite have the hang of how pricing worked in the wizarding world, but she could tell from instinct alone when she was being overcharged.

“Not in a million years. I’ll pay you fifty.”, she responded. The clerk looked at her in surprise. He clearly didn’t thinks she would try to haggle with him. The clerk gave her a look of interest before responding.

“Seventy-five.”, he shot back. Heracles narrowed her eyes at the still outrageous price.

“Fourty.”, she responded. The clerk began to look strained. He was having a hard time counteracting her business savvy, and he knew that she could easily go to another trunk shop to get what she needed. The clerk sighed.

“Seventy-five and I’ll throw in a school bag with feather light and bottomless bag charms free of charge.”, he offered. Heracles smiled. She had him.

“Make it sixty-five and I’m sold.”, she said. The clerk nodded.

“Done.”, he agreed. Heracles grinned and held a hand out for him to shake.

“It’s a deal.”, she responded, quoting her favorite businessman's favorite phrase. She could almost hear his voice in place of her own. The clerk looked at her strangely for her choice of words, but shook her hand regardless and started enchanting the trunk, as well as a school bag made out of the same material that he pulled out from behind his desk. Heracles watched curiously as the man used his wand, and made sure to memorize the words and motions he used to cast each spell. Once he was done with the charms, he looked at Heracles questioningly.

“What would you like the engraving to say?”, he asked. Heracles thought about it for a moment before answering.

“Write the initials ‘H.R.P’, and place this crest below that.”, she said, before pulling out a crumpled piece of paper. Once she smoothed it out, the paper was revealed to have a sketch of Night Raven College’s sigil on it. She had drawn it in the days after her arrival on earth, and just so happened to have it on her that day. The man took the paper and observed the crest curiously.

“‘Night Raven College’, huh? Never heard of that school. Where is it?”, the clerk asked. Heracles’s eyes gained a faraway look to them.

“Nowhere you’ve ever heard of.”

—---------------------------------------------------

The next shop Heracles went in was an apothecary. The green eyed girl took in the pungent smells of potions ingredients with a nostalgic sigh. It was almost like she was back in Crewel’s classroom again. Heracles shoved those memories away as soon as her eyes started to water.

Walking further into the store, Heracles browsed the selves of ingredients. She grabbed jars and pouches of anything she found familiar from her Potionology class; dried root of asphodel, frogspawn, and many more. She also grabbed things she didn’t know anything about, but found interesting, like gillyweed and boomslang skin. She was a bit disappointed to find that there wasn’t any mineral rich dirt or metals for alchemy, but she figured she could ask the clerk where to find them later.

Heracles then finally checked her list of school supplies so she could get what was required of her, and was surprised to find that the only things required for her potions class aside from her textbook were a cauldron and a stirring spoon. Potions ingredients were to be supplied by her professor, the list said. Heracles’s eyes went wide as saucers when she saw what the required material for the cauldron and stirring spoon was.

‘Pewter? Oh Hades no, are they trying to kill us?!’, Heracles thought. One of the first thing that Crewel had taught her was that cauldron material mattered just as much as potions ingredients. He had once said in one of his more memorable classes;

‘Remember Puppy, when it comes to cauldrons,neveruse pewter. It has an acidic effect on certain potions ingredients, and they wear out easily. Use iron. The metal has no effect on potions and lasts far longer.’, the professor had told her. With that in mind, Heracles grabbed a large iron cauldron with a matching spoon off a shelf and called it a day.

Heracles took her items to the old woman at the front desk, who raised her eyebrow at the odd assortment of ingredients that the child before her had assembled. Most of the things she had weren’t used by students until their seventh year. The old woman’s eyes widened even further when she saw the material the girl’s cauldron was made of.

“You do know Hogwarts requires pewter cauldrons, right?”, the old woman asked. Heracles glared at her.

“Does it look like I give a sh*t what Hogwarts requires?”, she asked. The old woman observed her carefully, before shrugging.

“I suppose not. Good on you, by the way. Iron works much better than pewter. I don’t know what they’re thinking up at that school by requiring pewter cauldrons… “, the old woman grumbled, and Heracles smirked at the acknowledgement of her smart decision.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where I can get alchemical materials, would you?”, the redhead asked. The old woman looked at her in bewilderment as she carefully bagged her potions ingredients.

“Alchemic materials? Why in Merlin’s name would you need those?”, the old woman asked. Heracles looked at her in confusion.

“To practice alchemy, why else?”, she responded. Why was alchemy so shocking to this woman The old woman continued to look at her in bewilderment, before shaking her head and continuing with her task of bagging Heracles’s purchase.

“You won’t find anything on alchemy here. No one on the isles aside from Nicholas Flammel and Albus Dumbledore practices that anymore. It’s considered too archaic to learn and too difficult to teach by most.”, the old woman explained. Heracles looked at her in disappointment,

“Well that’s disappointing.”, the redhead said, deciding that Twisted Wonderland was better than earth yet again because alchemy was a common magical practice. The old woman looked at her with sympathy for her plight.

“Agreed. But if you’re dead set on learning alchemy, you can find books on it in Flourish and Blotts, and you can find the materials to practice it in Knockturn Alley.”, the old woman revealed somewhat hesitantly. Heracles perked up.

“Knockturn Alley?”, she questioned. The old woman nodded and leaned closer to her.

“Yes, Knockturn Alley. It’s a more… illicit section of Diagon. You can find anything you can’t find here there. But be warned child, Knockturn Alley is a dark wizard’s playground. Going there’s not for the faint of heart.”, the old woman elaborated. Heracles gave her a dry look.

‘And neither were those seven Overblots, and yet here I stand.’, Heracles thought, before grabbing thirty galleons and dropping them on the table.

“Thanks for the advice, but I’ll be fine.”, she said, and then she grabbed her purchases and left. The old woman huffed and shook her head.

“What a strange child.”

—----------------------------------------------------

The next store she went in was Flourish and Blotts. Heracles remembered she had investments in that store and decided to try to make a good impression. She quickly walked up to the checkout desk and smiled charmingly at the witch running it.

“Hello. I’d like to see any books you have on Merfolk, Beastmen and Faefolk please.”, Heracles asked. She knew witches, goblins and dragons existed on earth, but she didn’t know if earth also had the same species as Twisted Wonderland. Perhaps they were just hidden and no one had told her about them. Hope at finding a connection to her home welled in Heracles’s chest. The woman behind the desk looked at her strangely.

“We don’t have any books on ‘Faefolk’. If you mean fairies, then I think we have one in the back. We don’t have any books on ‘Beastmen’, either. We only have books on werewolves. And I don’t know why you would want to read about Merfolk. Bloody cretins, the lot of them.”, the woman said with a scoff. Heracles’s smile became tight and the hope in her chest vanished at the insult at her Octavinelle friend’s people, but she kept her anger and disappointment out of her voice as she spoke.

“I’ll take every book you have on werewolves, fairies and Merfolk then.”, Heracles said, and the woman went into the back room for a minute and came out with six books in a neat stack. The woman raised an eyebrow at her as she sat the books down on the desk.

“Will that be all for you today?”, she asked. Heracles shook her head.

“No, but I’ll call you if I need anything.”, she said, and then she took the books and started wandering around the shop.

Walking through the rows of shelves, Heracles browsed through the books on display. She quickly found the required textbooks for her year, and the ones for the six years after that. She decided to buy them all so she could learn everything as soon as possible. She then grabbed two books on alchemy, a book titled ‘Hogwarts: A History’, and another book titled ‘The Muggleborn’s Guide to the Wizarding World’.

A few more minutes of browsing later, and Heracles had found a copy of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, a book on goblin language and etiquette, a book on magical laws, a book on some rather nasty hexes, a book on wizarding history up through the second world war, and a book on wizarding noble houses titled ‘The Pureblood Directory’. After moving on to another part of the store, she found a book on Occlumency and Legilimency. Despite not knowing what those things were, Heracles was curious and decided to buy the book. She found a book on how to become an Animagus, which according to the blurb on the book was a witch or wizard that could turn into an animal at will. Naturally, she grabbed that book as well.

Once she had found all of the books she thought she needed, Heracles started to return to the checkout desk, her stack of books taller than she was at that point. While walking out of the maze of shelves and trying to balance her books, Heracles’s attention was caught by something rather odd on one of the shelves.

“What in Hades?”, Heracles questioned. She sat her stack of books down beside her and looked at the spine of the bright red and gold book that had caught her eye. The title on the spine read ‘Heracles Potter: The Girl Who Lived’. Picking up the book, Heracles started to skim through it.

She read page after page of (quite frankly exaggerated and flat-outmade up) stories of her life, none of which she recalled telling to anyone on earth, let alone giving them permission to publish. With an angry look in her green eyes, Heracles grabbed her books, as well as the book of lies, and walked up to the checkout desk. She sat her book stack down on the desk, but held on to the biography. The woman at the desk chuckled at the sight of so many books. She’s never seen a first year purchase so much!

“Wee bit of a bookworm, are you?”, the woman asked as she started pressing buttons on the cash register. Heracles gave her an irritated look.

“I prefer the term ‘intellectual’.”, she responded. Then she held the biography up for the woman to see.

“How many more of these types of books do you have for sale?”, Heracles asked. The woman blinked at the book curiously.

“Heracles Potter biographies? We have over two dozen different ones. Why do you ask? Are you a fan of hers?”, the woman said, not knowing that the subject of the book was standing right in front of her. Heracles gave the woman a dry look, but didn’t comment on her words.

“I would like a list of all the titles of thos biographies and their authors.”, the green eyed girl requested. The woman chuckled, clearly not reading the mood.

“Are you asking because you wanna know all your options before you take your pick of books?”, she asked. Heracles had finally had enough of the clerk’s constant prying into her business and glared at her.

“No. I’m asking because I’m planning on suing those authors for non-consensual publication and libel.”, Heracles revealed, before slapping the proper amount of galleons to pay for her purchases onto the desk, taking her books and leaving the store clerk gaping in shock at her retreating form. Heracles decided to ask Ragnok where she could find a good lawyer.

—------------------------------------------------

Heracles took a left into a dark alley, with a sign above that read ‘Knockturn Alley’ in foreboding black scrawl. The bustling street of Diagon was replaced with an eerily deserted street. Tall people in black cloaks wandered about keeping silent and talking only in hushed whispers when they had to. Heracles was unmoved. She had seen scarier in the Ignihyde common room during exam week.

Heracles walked down the street until she came to a shop called Borgin and Burkes. Without hesitation, the girl opened the dirty glass door and walked into the shop. Immediately, the store owner, a stout, greasy looking old man, leered at her with suspicion.

“What do you want?”, he asked maliciously. Heracles glared at him.

“To shop. Why else would I be here?”, she responded. The old man scoffed.

“Yeah, and I’m bloody Merlin. Children like you don’t shop in places like this.”, the man said. Heracles glared harder.

“Well I do. I’ve come here to shop for alchemical materials. Do you carry those, or should I take my business elsewhere?”, Heracles asked. At the prospect of losing money, the man began to look upset. The man looked at her with suspicion for a few tense moments, before nodding his head to the right.

“Our alchemy materials are over there. Break anything and you buy it.”, he said, and Heracles left to look at the materials without a word. She frowned when she only saw a dozen piles of bars of precious metals, a few beakers and a few vials of chemicals.

‘This is much less than I had anticipated. This isn’t even half of the stuff we use in Crewel’s alchemy class. But I can make do.’, Heracles thought with a huff, and she picked up all of the metals and chemicals. She was about to carry them over to the counter, when a book near the alchemy table caught her eye. It was on a mostly empty shelf, and there were no words on the spine; just the image of a black mirror frame. Curious, Heracles picked the book up and read the title on the cover.

‘Magic Mirrors and How to Make Them.’, Heracles read, her eyes wide with surprise.

Over the past three months, Heracles had tried everything she could to make her mirror work. She had cast spells, cried, screamed, even tried silly superstitions, but nothing worked.

‘But maybe that’s only because I’m going about it the wrong way.’, Heracles wondered.

She had been trying to make her mirror work, but maybe it wasn’t her mirror that she needed to fix. Maybe she needed to make a brand new mirror, one that was created for the sole purpose of taking her to Twisted Wonderland. Grinning, Heracles tucked the book under her arm and walked up to the counter.

‘This book might be the answer I’ve been searching for! I can’t believe my luck!’, the girl cheered mentally. The man looked at her haul with wide, greedy eyes as she plopped her stuff onto the counter.

“I’ll take the lot.”, Heracles said. The old man gave her an oily smile.

“That’ll be a hundred and fifty galleons.”, he said, and Heracles looked at him with an afronted look.

“That’s outrageous!”, she yelled. The old man’s smile widened.

“It’s not when you’re the only shop that sells alchemy materials.”, he responded. Heracles glared fiercely at him.

“I’ll pay you twenty-five.”, she refuted. The man glared back at her.

“What makes you think I’ll accept that?”, he asked. Heracles smirked at him.

“Because otherwise I’ll leave without buying anything, and you clearly don’t want to lose money. I’ll go out and buy the materials at a non-magical shop. You’d be surprised what you can find in non-magical London.”, she responded, and the old man began to sweat as he and Heracles entered a stare-off. She was partially lying, since she wasn’t leaving without her mirror book, but the old man didn’t need to know that. Her green eyes were too steady. She was too confident for a child. The girl unnerved him. After a few moments, the old man looked away, grumbling about ‘cheapskate brats’ as he held out his hand for payment. Heracles dropped her promised amount of galleons into his hand.

“Pleasure doing business with you.”, she said, and she was about to grab her stuff and leave, when she spotted something in a glass case behind the old man.

Behind the smudged glass panes, was a deck of playing cards, held in a smooth black leather case. They would have been fairly normal, were it not for the dried blood stains on them. Heracles tilted her head at the object. She didn’t know why, but she felt a pull to it. A pack of bloody cards probably wasn’t a thing most people would feel a pull to, but the last thing she felt a pull to was the Dark Mirror and that turned out alright for her… at least at first. Heracles turned to look at the old man with a questioning look.

“What’s the story behind the cards?”, she asked. The old man glanced at the cards from over his shoulder and grinned evilly.

“They belonged to a gentlemen’s club of wizards. They would gamble with them every Sunday, until one day one of their members went bankrupt because of their activities and killed every member of the club during a poker game before killing himself. The cards were soaked in the blood of every member, and they’re said to be cursed because of all the death they witnessed. Each and every one of them is sharp as a knife.”, the old man explained. Heracles looked at him sternly.

“I’ll give you ten galleons for the cards.”, she offered. The man frowned at her.

“Twenty.”, he shot back. Heracles narrowed her eyes.

“Ten.”, she repeated, and the man grumbled some more before going to the glass case, opening it, and taking out the cards. Heracles handed him his payment for all of her items, took her purchases and left without a word.

Once she was out on the street, Heracles opened the pack of cards. She sifted through them, careful of the razor sharp edges. Once she was done sifting, she had five blood stained cards in her hands; an ace of hearts, a two of spades, a three of clubs, a four of diamonds, and the queen of hearts. Fanning the cards out, Heracles placed a gentle kiss onto them, before silently placing them back into the case and continuing her trek out of Knockturn Alley.

—-------------------------------------------------

Once she had left Knockturn Alley, Heracles was walking through Diagon Alley to try and find the wand shop when she heard an owl screeching so loud they could be heard over the chatter of the crowd.

“LET ME OUT OF THIS CAGE!”, an indignant, distinctly female sounding owl screeched.

Heracles knew what the owl was saying because she had taken a beastspeak class during her last semester at Night Raven College. Walking towards the screeching, Heracles ended up in front of a shop called the Magical Menagerie. The shop was painted purple, and had several different breeds of owls in cages sitting out front. It was one of the owls out front that was making all the noise. The owl was a beautiful snowy owl with a few black feathers and piercing yellow eyes. Her tenacity and coloring reminded the girl of Jack. Heracles liked her instantly.

“Honestly Hedwig, if you didn’t keep pecking Simon he wouldn’t put youinthe cage.”,a female barn owl on an owl perch beside the snowy owl said as she rolled her eyes. Clearly, the current situation had happened before. The snowy owl, now known as Hedwig, gave the barn owl an angry glare.

“Shut your bent beak Celia or I’ll peck you as well!”,Hedwig responded. She then began thrashing around the cage, and Heracles walked closer.

“If you want I can let you out.”, the girl offered. The snowy owl stopped thrashing and blinked at Heracles curiously.

“You can understand me?”,Hedwig asked. Heracles nodded.

“Yep. I can understand most common animals, actually. How I learned how to is a long story, though.”, Heracles responded. Hedwig looked at her imploringly.

“Well regardless of that, can you let me out of here?! I’ve been trapped in here for days! I need sun, and fresh air, and mice! I can’t live like this! I need freedom!”,Hedwig complained dramatically. Heracles laughed.

“Sure. Just let me go take care of some stuff in the shop first.”, Heracles told her, and Hedwig started panicking as she walked away, not fully registering that she was coming back.

“Wait, don’t leave me!”,the owl called, but Heracles didn’t hear her as the door to the menagerie shut behind her.

Heracles’s ears were filled with the sounds of screeching owls, meowing cats, croaking toads, and several other types of animalistic cries. There was so much noise, that the girl was unable to make out anything any of the animals were saying. After grabbing several packs of owl treats a wooden owl perch off of a shelf, Heracles walked up to the checkout counter, where a young man in his mid twenties that Heracles assumed was Simon was sitting looking rather overwhelmed by all the noises. Heracles almost pitied him.

“Excuse me, I would like to purchase the snowy owl outside, along with these items.”, Heracles said as she laid her items onto the counter. The young man looked at her in surprise.

“The one outside? Really? Are you sure about that? She’s a mean one. Tries to peck anyone who so much as touches her’s eyes out.”, the man asked. Heracles nodded.

“Yes, I’m quite sure.”, she confirmed. The man shrugged before bagging her items.

“If you say so. That’ll be twelve galleons.”, he said, and Heracles swiftly handed him the money, not seeing an issue with the price. She nodded at the young man.

“Pleasure doing business with you.”, she said, and then she left with her purchases in hand. Once she was outside, she promptly opened the latch on Hedwig’s cage. The owl happily flew out of the brass prison and landed on her shoulder with a twitter.

“Yes, free at last! So long Celia, I’m off to the great beyond! Adventure awaits! Thank you child, you have no idea what a service you’ve done for me.” ,Hedwig cried as she stretched her wings. Behind her, Celia squawked indignantly. Heracles laughed.

“You’re welcome. You can repay me by keeping me company at school. The supply list said I needed an owl for whatever reason.”, the redhead responded, unaware of the technological downsides of earth’s magical world.

Heracles felt a little guilty. Grimm was her familiar. He had been though hell with her, and had been with her during every Overblot. They had eaten together, slept together and gone to classes together. Grimm was her first real friend, and that would never change… but she would admit that having some company during her time on earth would be welcomed. She didn’t care if it was of the animal variety.

‘Maybe Grimm won’t mind sharing.’, Heracles wondered, speculating her cat-like friend’s reaction to her new feathered friend. Hedwig looked at her appraisingly.

“Well, I suppose I wouldn’t mind staying with you. You seem much more reasonable than that ghastly Simon at the menagerie, at any rate. My name is Hedwig. What’s yours, child?”,Hedwig asked. Heracles smiled.

“My name is Heracles Potter, and I have the feeling this is the start of a wonderful friendship.”, Heracles said. Hedwig laughed.


“As do I child, as do I.”,the owl said, and the two laughed together as Heracles walked in the direction of the wand shop. Heracles didn’t notice that that was one of the first times she had laughed freely since returning to earth.

Notes:

I was hoping to get all the shopping out of the way in this chapter, but this chapter was getting long so I've decided to put wand shopping and Heracles moving into Grimmauld Place in the next chapter. Hedwig is going to be a very sassy reoccurring character in this fic. Also, Hedwig first lines come from one of ChanWills0's tiktoks. This fic is going to be mostly serious, but there will be humor, and a lot of it will be inspired by ChanWills0's tiktoks. Fun fact, the deck of cards at Borgin and Burke's is actually mentioned in the second Harry Potter book. It doesn't have a backstory though. I made up the one here. Heracles kissing the cards is symbolic of her showing her love to the Heartslabyul boys despite the distance between them, in case you didn't catch onto that. Next time, wand shopping and moving in!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 4: Wands and Townhouses

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles stood in front of a darkly painted and dimly lit shop. On a sign at the top of the building, the shop’s name read ‘Olivander’s. Makers of fine wands since 382 BCE’. Heracles barely got the chance to muse at the old age of the shop before Hedwig spoke up.

“You go ahead and get your wand. I’ll go for a fly while you're in there and come back when you’re done.”,Hedwig told her owner. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you owls nocturnal creatures?”, she questioned. Hedwig gave her a dry look.

“Yes but I’m hungry for the blood of freshly killed mice, and my meal can’t wait.”,Hedwig said. Heracles laughed.

“Bloodthirsty, I like it. I know a whole dorm full of people who would love you.”, the redhead remarked, thinking of Savanaclaw. Hedwig then got off her shoulder and flew up into the sky without a word. Heracles waved her goodbye and walked into the wand shop.

The first thing Heracles noticed about the wand shop was that it was dark and musty. Mustier than Ramshackle ever was. The smell made her lightly scrunch her face up.

‘Hades, it smells like rotting paper in here.’, Heracles thought. The girl looked around the shop. She glanced down the rows of shelves and behind the counter, but didn’t find anyone. Eventually, she decided to call out in the hopes of finding the shop owner.

“Hello?”, Heracles called out, but there was no response. She shrugged and turned around to leave. She could come back and get her wand another day. Then a voice spoke up from behind her.

“I wondered when I’d be seeing you, Miss Potter.”, a man’s voice said from behind her. Heracles jumped and turned around. She found an old man that hadn’t been there before standing behind the counter of the store.

“My scar’s under my hair. How do you know who I am?”, Heracles asked apprehensively. The man just smiled at her and didn’t speak. This made her scowl.

‘Great, he’s one of those people who just say cryptic sh*t and give no explanation for the weirdness they just spouted in an attempt to look wise.’, she thought, being annoyingly reminded of Crowley. The man then walked into the rows of shelves.

“Wand arm?”, he asked. Heracles assumed he meant her dominant arm.

“Right arm.”, she responded. The man then pulled a box off of one of the shelves, took a foot long black stick out of it, walked over and handed it to her over the counter.

“Hawthorne with a core of unicorn hair, twelve inches. Not at all flexible.”, the man droned on, as if she was supposed to know what any of that gibberish meant. Heracles narrowed her eyes at the man, who she now assumed was Olivander.

“What the Seven does any of that mean?”, she asked, but the man ignored her again. Heracles was starting to get mad.

‘Why the hell do I even need a wand, anyways? I have my pen. I can cast with that.’, she thought irately, but she already knew the answer to her question. Using a strange pen to cast spells would make people ask questions. Questions she wouldn’t care to answer. Heracles snatched the wand out of his hand and resolved to stop by Flourish and Blotts to pick up a book on wands later so she could understand what the hell the shop owner said. For a moment she just held the wand, not sure what Olivander wanted her to do with it.

“A stick… cool.”, Heracles said in a monotone voice as she stared at the piece of wood in her hand. She really didn’t know why earth wizards used wands. They looked boring as hell and easy to break. Magic pens were practical, personalized and beautiful, to say nothing of the staffs the dorm leaders used. Heracles added another item to the ‘list of reasons Twisted Wonderland is better than earth’ in her mind. It was already a long list. The old man rolled his eyes at her inaction.

“Well give it a wave!”, he told her with a scoff. Heracles glared at him. She hadn’t even known the man five minutes and she already didn’t like him.

“Alright Geppetto, no need to get bent outta shape.”, she snapped, before lightly waving the wand through the air. This caused a vase on the counter to shatter, sending glass shards, water and flowers spilling onto the wooden surface. Olivander glared at the damage.

“Don’t even have parents to pay for it. Great.”, the old man grumbled. Heracles gave him an even angrier look.

“Hardly my fault, you co*ckeyed bastard.”, she told him. The old man rolled his eyes, took the wand from her hand and placed it back in the box. Then he went and grabbed another wand off a different shelf.

“Let’s try this one. Oak, fourteen inches. Dragon heartstring. Rather flexible.”, Olivander said, handing her another stick-wand.Heracles, remembering very vividly what happened the last time she waved a wand given it only happened two minutes go, raised an eyebrow.

“Are you sure?”, she asked the man. Olivander gave her an annoyed look, and Heracles took that as a sign that yes, he was sure. She then waved the wand the barest amount possible… which proceeded to send every box in the shop flying off the shelves. Olivander looked at the damage severely.

“You woke up and chose violence.”, he remarked, and Heracle wondered if he knew what he said was a meme or not. She gently sat the wand on the counter with wide eyes, startled by the damage she had unintentionally caused.

“What the heck is going on?”, Heracles muttered. Olivander bent down and started rummaging around for a certain box, muttering to himself all the while.

“I wonder… “, the old man whispered as he reached for a certain box. Heracles looked at him strangely.

‘This guy is so weird. Why can’t I just get my wand from the school like I can with magic pens in Twisted Wonderland?’, she bemoaned mentally.

Olivander eventually returned with a deep green box. He sat it gingerly on the counter, and took the wand out of the box slowly and with curious eyes. He didn’t give any information about the wand beforehand, and simply handed it to Heracles. Heracles didn’t even have to wave it for something to happen. A ray of golden light shined upon her from Seven-knows-where, and her hair stood on end slightly. Hercules could almost swear she heard music, as well. Her eyes went wide at the odd sensation.

“What just happened?”, Heracles asked in bewilderment as the light disappeared. Olivander looked at her with extreme interest, but didn’t answer her question.

“Holly, eleven inches. Phoenix feather core with moderate flexibility. This is curious… very curious indeed… “, Olivander mused as he took the wand from Heracles and placed it back in the box, presumably so it was ready for purchase. Heracles glared at him.

“Are you going to explainwhyit’s curious or are you going to just stand there and mutter like a barmy idiot?”, she asked, thoroughly done with all the muttering. The old man glared at her before deciding to answer her.

“That wand has a brother. The phoenix feather in the wand came from a certain phoenix. That phoenix only gave one other feather. It’s curious that you would wield that wand, when the owner of this wand’s brother, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named… killed your parents.”, Olivander trailed off dramatically.

Heracles just glared at him in annoyance. She didn’t understand why he kept bringing up the fact that she was an orphan like an asshole. Did he do that with all the children he sold wands to or was she just annoyingly special. The brother wand thing was only of mild interest to her; she didn’t really have any interest in the Dark whoever-he-was, nor did she have any interest in his wand. The only thing she was interested in was going home.

‘Which I could be finding a way to do right now if I wasn’t stuck in this stupid, musty-ass shop.’, Heracles thought, before opening her mouth to unleash her sass onto Olivander.

“You sure do like bringing that up, don’t you grandpa?”, she asked, referring to how he kept bringing up the fact that her parents were dead. Olivander ignored her and began to look wistful.

“He did great things.”, the old man whispered. Heracles glared at him with the fire of a thousand suns and decided to never trust the guy who seemed to glorify an elitest Hitler-wannabe under any circ*mstances. She also decided to use her wand as little as possible just to spite him.

‘Well, I guess it’s wandless magic for me, then. It’s not like it’ll be hard to learn. I’ve been doing it since I was a toddler, and I apparently vaporized wizarding Hitler as a fetus, so how hard can learning to do it properly be?’, Heracles asked herself, barely paying attention to Olivander anymore, but paying just enough attention that she was annoyed at him for his words about wizarding Hitler.

“AHEM!”, she fake coughed indignantly. The old man snapped out of his trance and rolled his eyes at her.

“Terrible I suppose, but great!”, the old man reiterated. Heracles huffed in anger.

“Yeah sure, whatever. Here’s your bloody money. Hope I never see you again, you f*cking loon.”, Heracles said, before slamming ten galleons onto the counter, grabbing the box with her wand in it and leaving. On the way out, she brushed past a kid her age with a ferrety face and white-blonde hair.

“Out of my way, ferret-boy.”, Heracles said, before pushing the boy out of the way in her anger. The boy yelped before falling to the ground, and Heracles ignored the scream of ‘my father will hear about this!’ as she tried to find the Leaky Cauldron so she could leave.

—-----------------------------------------------------

It was three days after her shopping trip when Heracles finally packed all her bags and moved into Number 13 Grimmauld Place. She had chosen that property as her place of residence because it was in London, where she grew up, so she knew the area. The orphanage staff didn’t ask where she was going. The only thing they cared about was that she was leaving. They hadn’t seen her off, either. Not that Heracles wanted them to. Their idea of a send off was probably tossing her bags onto the street with a hearty ‘and stay out!’.

Heracles stood at the steps of her new home. She was alone. Hedwig was out day hunting again. The building was a tall, black painted brick townhouse with three floors, six windows and one giant green door with the number thirteen nailed to it at the top, and a tarnished silver knocker in the shape of a serpent’s head. It was ominous, but beautiful it’s own way. Ragnok had told her the house was unplottable on non-magical maps and invisible to those who couldn’t use magic.

Grimmauld Place had apparently been the home of the main branch of the Black family for generations, favored even over the family’s grand ancestral manor in Aberdeen. Sirius Black had lived there once, as had his father before his death. It was a house with a rich history, something Heracles found interesting.

Heracles took a deep breath, picked up her truck, which had all of her possessions in it, and walked up the stairs to the door. She took out her key, placed it in the lock and twisted it. Once the door was unlocked, she opened it and walked inside as quietly as possible… only to be greeted by the sound of unholy screeching.

“FILTHY HALF-BLOOD, DISRESPECTING THE HOME OF MY FOREFATHERS- !”, a woman’s voice screamed hysterically. Heracles’s calm expression immediately turned to one of annoyance.

“Just great.”, she groaned, plopping her trunk loudly onto the ground, completely disregarding her plan to be quiet so she wouldn’t wake the cause of the screaming.

Ragnok had also taken the liberty to warn her about the townhouse’s… attachments. Apparently, there was a crazy elitist portrait of the previous Lady Black that screamed her head off all the time, and a house elf named Kreacher that took care of domestic tasks. Heracles didn’t see any problem with the house elf (whose species she had only learned about the day before after reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Newt Scamander was a lifesaver), but the portrait would have to go, or at the very least learn how to speak quietly. She couldn’t do her research in peace if someone was screaming slurs at her constantly.

‘And apparently, she was warned of my arrival. Must have been because of the bank sending a notice about me moving in to the house elf.’, Heracles thought. She swiftly walked down the long hallway that the front door had opened to, trying to find out where the screaming was coming from. Heracles took note of her surroundings as she walked.

The walls were covered in green wallpaper patterned with snakes (the girl was starting to notice a recurring motif), with unlit gas lamps attached to the walls and an unlit crystal chandelier overhead. Heracles vaguely took note of an umbrella stand made out of the thick, stumpy leg of what may have been a troll at the end of the hallway, and quickly decided to get rid of it as soon as possible. Not only was having the leg of a semi-humanoid creature as an umbrella stand unethical, it was also ugly as hell.

Once she reached the end of the hall, she realized the yelling was coming from the right and took a turn. Heracles then entered into a grand entryway with the same green wallpaper, black wood flooring, and paintings of snakes on the walls. At the very end of the entryway, there was a moving portrait of an older woman with black hair and blue eyes. She was aristocratically beautiful, but her violent sneer and perpetual yelling made her beauty less noticeable. It was the portrait of the deceased Lady Walpurga Black. Heracles marched over to the portrait with an angry expression.

“ -FILTHY BLOOD TRAITOR’S CHILD, DEFACING MY ANCESTRAL HOME- !”, Walpurga yelled. Heracles opened her mouth and yelled back.

“LADY, SHUT THE f*ck UP!”, Heracles screamed. Walpurga stopped screaming and looked at the child before her in bewilderment. She was startled by the fact that someone had actually yelled back at her. Then the woman went right back to sneering at her with disdain.

“Who are you to speak to me that way, you filthy half-blood?!”, Walpurga asked in (thankfully) much quieter voice than the one she had used before. Heracles plastered a look of confidence onto her face and puffed her chest out slightly.

“I am Lady Heracles Regulus Potter, Lady of the Houses of Potter, Slytherin, Guant, Fawkley, and Lestrange, and Heiress Apparent of House Black. And as Heiress, I can speak to you however I please.”, Heracles said, recalling a piece of advice Leona had once given her on dealing with others.

‘Don’t give those Herbivores the satisfaction of you looking nervous, kid. Always carry yourself with confidence, regardless of the situation you're in.’

To Heracles’s surprise, Walpurga’s sneer vanished the second she heard her full name. The hatred in her eyes was replaced with something much softer.

“Regulus? That’s your middle name, you say?”, the older woman asked. Heracles looked at her suspiciously and nodded hesitantly, not seeing how her middle name was important. She knew it was the name of a star in the Leo constellation, but that was all.

“Yes, that’s my middle name. Why do you ask?”, Heracles reaffirmed. Walpurga’s eyes softened even further.

“Come closer, child. Let me get a look at you.”, the black haired woman told her. Heracles reluctantly walked closer, and Walpurga smiled when she got a good look at her face.

“You may not have the face of a Black my dear, but you do have the name of one. And you have the Black fire behind your eyes. I can see it.”, Walpurga remarked wistfully. Heracles blinked at her in confusion.

“I have the name of a Black?”, she asked. Walpurga nodded.

“Yes. Heracles isn’t just a hero of Greek mythology; he’s also a constellation. It is an ancient Black family tradition to name its members after celestial bodies.”, Walpurga explained. Heracles tilted her head in curiosity.

“But why is my middle name so important to you? It’s a star name too.”, Heracles asked. Walpurga’s eyes became sorrowful.

“Regulus was the name of my youngest son. He passed on not long before you were born. He was killed trying to leave the service of the Dark Lord, and he was right to do so. That filthy half-blood was a disgrace to the wizarding world, trying to take over our government and rule over our Sacred Houses! He didn’t care about our traditions and ways, only his own power! The day he fell was a happy one indeed!”, Walpurga exclaimed in anger. Heracles blinked at the information that was revealed to her. She had no idea she was named after a relative of hers.

‘Since Sirius is Walpurga’s son, that means Regulus was his younger brother. Did my parents let him name me after his late brother? No, it couldn’t be… ‘, Heracles speculated. Then Walpurga stopped her angry raving and gave her a proud smile.

“Perhaps I was too hasty to judge you, child. You don’t seem to be a blood traitor at all. It seems my rebellious eldest child did one thing right by me by giving you Regulus’s name, as well. I accept you as the heir of House Black.”, Walpurga said, and Heracles’s brushed off speculations were confirmed. Heracles smiled at Walpurga with satisfaction. She had dealt with the portrait problem, albeit in a way she hadn’t anticipated.

“I’m happy to hear that, Lady Walpurga.”, Heracles said, using Walpurga’s proper title. Walpurga’s proud smile widened.

“Oh please, call me Grandmother. You’re the closest thing I’ll ever have to a grandchild if Sirius has his way, after all.”, Walpurga insisted. Heracles looked at her in surprise before smiling genuinely.

“Yes, Grandmother.”, she agreed. Walpurga giggled happily, a stark contrast to her red-faced anger from earlier.

“Marvelous! Now, KREACHER!”, Walpurga screamed abruptly. Heracles jumped as a small creature appeared beside her with a loud ‘crack’.

“Yes, Mistress?”, a low, raspy voice asked. Heracles looked at the being beside her. It looked like the textbook definition of the house elves she had read about; less than three feet tall, with big ears, pale wrinkly skin and big black eyes the size of tennis balls. The elf wore a clean white pillowcase with the Black family crest embroidered on the corner in black thread (Heracles recalled reading that house elves didn’t wear actual clothes), and looked rather eager to please. That was, until he turned to look at Heracles. Then his face scrunched up even more than it naturally was, and he started spewing slurs on par with Walpurga’s.

“Filthy half-blood, here to disgrace the house of my mistress- !”, Kreacher yelled, though in a voice not as loud as Walpurga’s. Heracles didn’t react to the insults, half-expecting them due to Walpurga’s own first reaction to her. Walpurga waved her hands quickly to get Kreacher’s attention.

“No no, Kreacher! There will be none of that! Lady Potter is to be Grimmauld Place’s newest resident. She’s an ally of our traditions. And by our laws, she is your Mistress now.”, Walpurga explained. Kreacher looked at her with horror.

“But Mistress- !”, Kreacher started to plead, but he was interrupted when Walpurga told him something else.

“She’s named after Regulus, Kreacher. She’s a true Black heiress, my youngest son would be proud to call her his kin.”, Walpurga informed him. Kreacher immediately changed his tune and turned to look at Heracles like she was the virgin Mary.

“Then Kreacher will serve her as faithfully as he did Master Regulus!”, Kreacher chirped. Heracles looked taken aback by the elf’s sudden change in mood.

‘That was quick. Regulus must have been dear to him for my name to elicit this kind of reaction.’, Heracles thought with a sweat-drop. Kreatcher ushered her to the nearby staircase with an ecstatic grin.

“Come, come Mistress! Kreacher will show you to your room!”, Kreacher exclaimed. Heracles stared at him for a moment, before shrugging. She saw no reason not to listen to him. As she walked away, Heracles heard Walpurga muttering about ‘House Black finally getting an heir that’s a credit to it’s name’.

After Kreacher showed her to her room (it was the master bedroom. Since the Lord was in prison, the right to sleep in the master bedroom went to her as his heir), Heracles immediately pulled out her copy of Magic Mirrors and How to Make them, her alchemy materials, her magic pen, and several sheets of notebook paper. She sat them all down onto the floor at the foot of her bed, sat down on the ground, and looked at the objects with determination.

“Alright.”, she started to say to herself.

“Let’s get to work.”

Notes:

Here's the latest chapter. Don't expect Walpurga or Kreacher to be important characters. I just wanted to do something neat with them, and now that the neat thing has been done, they'll probably remain side characters. I did make Heracles's middle name Regulus for the exact events of this chapter for those who are curious. Horcruxes are a thing here and Heracles will need Kreacher's help to at the very least get rid of Slytherin's locket. Next time, train rides and meetings!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 5: The Hogwarts Express

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles walked along the platform of King’s Cross station, pulling the trolly that carried her possessions along behind her. She got many odd looks; she was an eleven year old girl with a snowy owl on her shoulder, after all. Hedwig looked at the staring humans around them shiftily.

“I don’t like the humans here, Heracles. They keep giving me the stink eye.”,the owl complained. Heracles didn’t look at her as she kept pulling the trolley, as she was currently searching for something.

“Well you won’t have to deal with them for much longer, Hedwig.”, the redheaded girl assured her. Her eyes lit up when she saw the column between platforms nine and ten.

“There we are.”, Heracles mumbled. She put her trolly in front of her and got ready to race through the column.

“Hold on tight, Hedwig.”, the girl warned, and she ran through the column with no fear. She had read all about Hogwarts and what she had to do to get there in Hogwarts: A History, so she knew the platform column was actually a gateway to the hidden platform nine and three quarters. When she arrived at the other side, Heracles took in her surroundings for a moment.

The platform was crowded, with the shouts of people and the cries of animals being the most common sounds. A black and red steam train sat on the tracks, with the words ‘Hogwarts Express’ written on the front. It was a fine train, but Heracles wasn’t all that impressed.

‘The coffin gates at Night Raven are cooler. And they probably take way less time than the train.’, Heracles thought. Then she noticed that the crowd of people around her consisted mostly of families bidding goodbyes to their children. Heracles scowled and began to feel bitter at her own lack of company. Hedwig noticed this and spoke to bring her owner out of her internal spiral of anger.

“Hera, are you alright?”,Hedwig asked, using the nickname her owner only let her, Walpurga and Kreacher use.

In the week since her owner had bought her, Hedwig had learned a few things about the curious girl who could understand her; she was extremely intelligent and magically powerful, she was an orphan with a recently inherited fortune, she was obsessed with making magic mirrors, and she was sad and angry about something. What that something was, she never said. All she did was trail off her sentences and get a far away look in her eyes everytime it looked like she might talk about it. Heracles snapped out of her bitter train of thought and looked at Hedwig, startled by her sudden words.

“What? Oh yeah, I’m fine.”, the girl responded. Hedwig looked unconvinced.

“Are you sure?”,the owl asked. Heracles gave her a reassuring smile.

“I’m fine, really Hedwig.”, she assured, and Hedwig sighed.

“If you say so.”,she relented. Heracles’s smile widened slightly.

“Good. You said you wanted to fly to the school, right? I’ll go ahead and get a compartment. You find a place to perch and start following the train when it leaves the station.”, the redhead told her pet. Hedwig nodded and took off, finding a place in the platform rafters to perch.

Heracles then took her trolly and left her luggage in the designated area, taking her school bag full of books with her onto the train. After a minute of searching, Heracles found a blissfully empty compartment and took a seat. She pulled out her book on wizarding laws and was about to begin her investigation into lawsuits, when she caught sight of a small family of brunettes hugging their daughter goodbye. Heracles put her book down and watched the sight with a blank expression. Her eyes were filled with anger and longing as she saw the father kiss the daughter’s forehead. It made her remember something she almost wished she could forget.

—------------------------------------------------

Heracles nervously stood in front of the door to Professor Crewel’s classroom, a tin of cookies in her hands. It was the day before winter break, and since Professor Crewel had been so kind and helpful to her since her arrival at school, she wanted to do something nice for him. Trey had helped her bake the cookies earlier last evening, and now all she had to do was give them to the man they were meant for. Heracles’s eyes became downtrodden. But how could she? He probably didn’t want her cookies in the first place. He would think she was being too personal and get weirded out and-

“Are you alright, Madame Trickster?”, a familiar smooth voice asked from behind her. Heracles didn’t even flinch. She was used to being snuck up on at Night Raven College, especially by the person she knew was behind her.

“Hi Rook.”, Heracles said with a forced, sad smile as she turned to look at the concerned Pomefiore Vice Dormleader. Rook was a bit odd, but she knew he always meant well. Rook looked at her in worry.

“What is the matter, little one? You don’t look like the radiant sun you usually are.”, Rook asked, kneeling down so that they were at eye level. She was even shorter than Riddle, being only ten and all. Heracles sighed mournfully.

“I made these cookies for Professor Crewel. He’s been so nice to me and always helps me when I need it, so I thought that I should give him something for the holidays, even if it’s only cookies.”, Heracles explained, and Rook smiled at her.

“That’s a lovely idea.”, Rook told her sweetly, but Heracles hung her head.

“No, it’s stupid. He probably doesn’t even like sweets. He’ll probably think I’m being weird by trying to give them to him.”, Heracles bemoaned. Rook chuckled at her and gently grabbed her chin. He tilted her face up so that she was looking him in the eyes. Emerald met summer green, and in the most sincere voice he had, Rook told her;

“My dear Madame Trickster, anyone that would be so lucky as to eat the food that you have made, is truly the luckiest person alive. If Professor Crewel cannot see that, then he is a fool.”, Rook said, and then kissed her gently on the forehead. Heracles’s face turned red as her hair. Rook stood up, gave her a wink and walked away. Heracles lightly touched the place where he kissed her with her hand. It felt tingly.

‘He would be the luckiest person alive, huh?’

—-------------------------------------------------

The memory came back to Heracles like a flood in a river. Thanks to Rook's words, she had ended up giving Crewel the cookies a few minutes later. He had smiled at her and told her he loved them. They ate them together at his home and she fell asleep on his couch after watching a holiday movie. She woke up the next morning covered in his fur coat, which swaddled her small form. It had been a night she remembered fondly, but now the memory did nothing but remind her of what she had lost. Heracles tore her eyes away from the family outside her window and she returned her gaze to her book as she dabbed the tears out of her eyes with the sleeves of her black jacket. A few seconds later, the train started moving.

Heracles spent the first fifteen minutes on the train reading her books and brushing up on her knowledge of magical culture. She had read the majority of the books she had bought at Flourish and Blotts in the week since she had moved into Grimmauld Place. There wasn’t really much else to do at the townhouse, since all her tech went on the fritz the second it crossed the threshold into the house and Kreacher did all the cooking and cleaning.

Apparently, magic on earth wasn’t at all compatible with technology. Heracles had been surprised by this. Magic and technology went hand-in-hand in Twisted Wonderland, as did magic and science. Seeing such a visible separation of the two after getting so used to magic being used with tech in Twisted Wonderland was unnerving, to say the least. It was also a nuisance. Her research would be so much easier if she had access to the internet. Perhaps she could create magic-powered technology like the stuff used in Twisted Wonderland. Heracles jotted the idea down in one of her notebooks. She had neglected to buy wizarding stationary for school, mostly because quills and parchment were annoying as hell to keep up with and easy to break.

‘They can’t make anything besides radios work, they all dress like it’s the Victorian era and most of them don’t even know how a bloody phone works. It’s like these people are stuck in the stone age compared to Twisted Wonderland. Yet another reason to find a way home as quickly as possible.’, Heracles thought. Then she pulled out her Magic Mirror book and flipped to a different page in her notebook. There was a sketch of a mirror similar to the Dark Mirror, with different parts labeled as being made of certain materials or having certain spells on them. Heracles started drawing new features onto the mirror.

‘I should keep trying to make mirrors when I get to the school. Maybe I can find an abandoned classroom to use as my lab. Better a classroom than my bedroom after my last attemptliterallyblew up in my face. Maybe if I replace the silver back with enchanted iron, then it won’t- ‘, Heracles thought, but her brainstorming was interrupted when the door to her compartment opened. Heracles groaned in frustration. She had chosen an empty compartment for the purpose of beingalone.She looked up at the person who had interrupted her solitude.

“Mind if I sit here? Everywhere else is full.”, a boy her age asked. He was pudgy, with big brown eyes and short brown hair. He wore the same deplorable black robes every other student on the train seemed to wear, with a white button up shirt underneath. In his hands was a terrarium with a large toad in it, one that currently seemed to be asleep. The boy reminded Heracles of a chipmunk. Heracles narrowed her eyes at the boy, who seemed to want to curl up in on himself and die under her scrutinizing gaze.

She wasn’t going to Hogwarts with the intention of making friends. Her only goals were to learn what little a school that was so backwards it didn’t even have lightbulbs could teach her, so she could use that knowledge to find a way home. She wasn’t planning on sticking around if she could help it, and she wasn't planning on coming back when she left either, so friends were useless to her. The only company she really needed was the kind she could take with her when she left, like Hedwig or perhaps Kreacher and Walpurga. But then the boy smiled awkwardly, and Heracles could swear he was a mouth full of sharp teeth and a head of flaming blue hair away from being Idia. So, in a momentary lapse in judgment due to sentimentality, Heracles said;

“Sure.”, and before she even had the chance to regret her words, the boy’s awkward smile became brighter and he took a seat in front of her, setting his terrarium down beside him.

“Really? Thanks. “, the boy said. Heracles returned to her books without a word. Perhaps if she ignored him long enough he would remain silent enough that she could continue her work.

“Don’t mention it.”, she responded. Then the boy held a chubby hand out to her.

“I’m Neville, by the way. Neville Longbottom.”, the boy said, and Heracles’s attention was suddenly on the boy and the boy alone as she looked up from her books.

Neville Longbottom was the heir of the Most Noble House of Longbottom, and the son of Alice and Frank Longbottom, the permanently mentally incapacitated Lord and Lady Longbottom. They were the ones that the former Dowager Lady Lestrange tortured into insanity. Heracles had felt a sort of kinship with Neville when his situation had been explained to her by Ragnok when they were organizing her finances. They were both children that had been left without parents because of a cruel, insane person. They knew each other's pain, even though Neville had suffered less due to still having family willing to take him in. Heracles hadn’t had that. With a genuine smile, Heracles took Neville’s hand.

“Heir Longbottom, it’s an honor to finally meet you. I’m Heracles Potter.”, the redhead said, leaving out her official title of ‘Lady’. Neville was an eleven year old boy, not a bank or ministry official. She didn’t need to use her title with him. Heracles remembered something Leona told her when she asked why he didn’t always introduce himself as ‘Prince Leona’

‘I don’t use my full title to introduce myself because it sounds pretentious, kid. No one likes a snob. Just use your given name whenever you meet someone outside of a political or professional setting. It’s less stiff that way.’, the lazy prefect had advised her, and Heracles, like she did with every piece of wisdom given to her by her Twisted Wonderland friends, took it to heart. Neville stared at her in shock.

“Heracles Potter?TheHeracles Potter?”, he questioned. Heracles nodded.

“The one and only.”, she confirmed. Neville looked at her curiously.

“Where’s your scar?”, he asked. Heracles blinked in confusion.

“My what?”, she asked. She had loads of scars from minor injuries over the years, and while Ragnok had told her about the scar the Dark Lord had left on her forehead, she hadn’t really registered it as important because of how mundane the silly thing had been to her all her life. Neville pointed to his forehead.

“You know… “, he trailed off. Heracles’s eyes widened in realization.

“Oh, that one. Yeah, it’s not really there anymore.”, she explained. Neville looked at her in confusion.

“What? Why not?”, he asked. Heracles shrugged and returned to reading her book.

“A mix of reasons, I suppose. For one, I got it when I was a baby, so it’s had over a decade to fade. And I have a friend who’s really into skincare and stuff. He insisted that he couldn’t let a scar mar my ‘beautiful face’, so he got me this face cream that helped get rid of it. It’s barely there anymore, but if you wanna see it… “, Heracles explained as she lifted her fringe, revealing her aforementioned scar. It was almost completely invisible, with the skin of it just a shade lighter than her own. Vil’s face cream had done wonders to her skin over the last year. Neville nodded in understanding.

“Oh, okay. Sorry if what I asked was insensitive.”, he said, very much aware of how Heracles got her scar. Heracles shrugged.

“Don’t be, it’s just a scar. I was too young to remember how and when I got it, anyways.”, she said off-handedly. She had only been one when the Dark what’s-his-face killed her parents and tried to kill her. She couldn’t remember any of it, let alone her parents. She did mourn them and the fact that she never got to know them, but she wasn’t traumatized by the whole ordeal. Neville nodded in understanding.

“Yeah, I get that.”, he said, referencing his own parental situation. There was a silent moment of sympathy exchanged between them.

For ten minutes, there was just silence. Neville played with his toad (who’s name was Trevor, he had told her), and Heracles opened her magical history book to the chapter about the Dark Lord. She read up until the section on her and the night her parents were killed (which was more accurate than ninety percent of her ‘biographies’, she noted). She read what the curse that killed her parents and nearly killed her was. Normally, this would have resulted in a moment of solemn reflection from someone, but Heracles had a realization. She slammed her book shut, startling Neville.

“This is going to sound weird, but I just had a realization.”, Heracles said out of the blue, her eyes wide. She didn’t care that she barely knew him or that she had vowed not to make any friends at school, he reminded her of Idia and she had to tellsomeone.Neville looked at her curiously.

“What is it?”, he asked. Heracles looked him in the eyes with an expression of the utmost seriousness.

“Voldemort was the most pathetically magic dependent wizard to ever live.”, Heracles said. Neville gasped dramatically and covered the sides of Trevor’s head.

“You can’t say his name! It’s forbidden!”, Neville exclaimed. Heracles gave him a dry look.

“I can say whatever the Hades I want, Neville. Saying the bastard’s name isn’t going to make him appear in this compartment with us, especially since he’s so damn pathetic.”, Heracles told him. Neville opened and closed his mouth like a fish, before he started to understand Heracles’s logic and uncovered the sides of Trevor’s head.

“Why is he pathetic?”, the boy asked, his horror being replaced with interest faster than it should have been. Heracles held up her book with a look of exasperation.

“Because he couldn’t kill a damn infant! Look at this, it says here that Voldemort used the Killing Curse to try and kill me, but that was completely unnecessary! You don’t need to use advanced death magic to kill a baby! He could have just dropped me out the window or something, butnoooo,he couldn’t even do that! Instead, he used a highly advanced spell to kill someone that couldn’t even string together sentences yet, and got killed because it rebounded onto him as a result of something my parents did because they knew he would be stupid and use magic to kill a defenseless baby when there are so many better ways to do it! Or at least that’s my theory, because even though I have powerful magic, I sincerely doubt it was my power alone that kept him from killing me. My mom or dad probably did something, but I’m not sure.”, Heracles ranted, angry at the sheerincompetenceshown by the feared ‘Dark Lord’. No one was this reliant on magic in Twisted Wonderland. Everyone still had common sense there, but clearly that wasn’t the case on earth. Neville read the passage she had been reading, and a look of understanding came across his face.

“By Merlin, you’re right.”, he whispered. Heracles nodded fervently.

“Right? And look at this. It says here that he tried to have his minions steal Nicholas Flammel’s philosopher’s stone when he was rising to power so he could become immortal. Like my dude, magical people here have a natural lifespan of hundreds of years. If you just ate well and exercised you wouldn’t need to risk your people to get a stupid rock that- “, Heracles continued to rant, but her raving was interrupted by the opening of the compartment door. Two thickly built boys and one scrawny blonde boy her age walked into the compartment like they owned it. Heracles put her book down and stared at them, while Neville took one look at them, went pale and gulped. The blonde one glared at her.

“You!”, he yelled, pointing at her dramatically. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“Do I know you?”, she asked. The boy’s face was slightly familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on where she had seen it before. Maybe she had seen a ferret sometime in the last few weeks. The blonde’s face went from pale to red as her hair.

“Oh yes you do! You’re the girl that pushed me to the ground in Diagon Alley last week!”, the boy exclaimed. Heracles’s eyes widened in realization.

“Oh yeah, ferret-boy. I remember you. I made you taste dirt last week. You tracked me down on a train filled with hundreds of children for the sole purpose of chewing me out over that? That’s kind of extra, don’t you think? Also how on earth would you know I was on the train in the first place- “, the green eyed girl asked. The boy glared at her, embarrassed at the holes she found in his plan.

“Shut up! Do you have any idea who I am?!”, the blonde exclaimed. Heracles looked at him dryly.

“No, and quite frankly I don’t care. You look like something I would make a fur coat out of.”, she responded. The boy’s face turned even redder as he began to sputter, and Heracles thought about her actions.

There was the chance that the blonde boy could be a pureblood heir if he was so adamant on her knowing who he was, but even if he was she wasn’t dependent on making him an ally. She was only intending to get involved with politics so she could find a way to stay out of the orphanage legally and keep her money out of government hands. Anything else she did or got in the process of doing those things was just a bonus.

“You-you- !”, the ferret-boy exclaimed. Heracles scowled at him. She was getting tired of speaking to him.

“‘You’ what? Speak, ferret-boy! Spit it the f*ck out! Go ahead, I’m listening!”, Heracles yelled, trying to annoy the boy into leaving. Her tactic didn’t work. Instead, he began to look even more livid.

“CRABBE! GOYLE!”, the boy screamed, and the other two boys with him started to move in on Heracles. Heracles, not having any of this, decided she had to do something. She thought about hexing the boys, but she didn’t want to waste magic on the fetuses in front of her. Then Floyd’s voice chimed into her mind.

“Remember Shrimpy, T-posing works just as well as squeezing people when it comes to asserting your dominance!”,Floyd had yelled once with a manic smile as he T-posed some poor Octavinelle first year into submission so he would pay a debt he owed to Azul. At the time, Heracles had thought it was hilarious, but now she was starting to think he had the right idea. So Heracles spread her arms out, stood as straight as possible, and began to T-pose. The two tall boys, now known as Crabbe and Goyle, stopped moving and looked at her in bewilderment and slight fear. The blonde looked at her in confusion.

“What are you doing?”, ferret-boy asked. Heracles didn’t speak. Silence was key when T-posing, another thing Floyd had taught her. Blondie looked at her in fear. He had no idea what was going on. Was she cursing him? Doing some strange ritual he had never seen?

“Stop that!”, the blonde yelled. Heracles didn’t stop. She just kept staring, and staring, until the boys before her started to look utterly terrified.

“I-I mean it!”, the blonde boy stuttered. Heracles still didn’t speak. The boys stood frozen in irrational horror. She wasn’t even doing anything that bad, but it was so creepy to watch! It felt like they were having their souls stared into! Then Heracles took a step forward.

“Boo!”, she exclaimed. The boys started to scream.

“AHHHH!”, the trio yelled, and then they ran out of the compartment faster than Jack at a track meet. The blonde called out ‘my father will hear about this!’ as he ran away, and Heracles just watched them run with a small, satisfied smile before closing the compartment door.

“Heh. puss*es.”, she snorted. She turned around to look at Neville, who was looking at her in shock and confusion.

“What the bloody hell did you do? They were terrified!”, he asked. Heracles sat down.

“I T-posed to assert my dominance.”, she explained. Neville looked even more confused, but didn’t question her further. Neville looked at her in awe.

“That was Draco Malfoy. He’s the next Lord Malfoy. You just talked back to the next Lord Malfoy.”, Neville said, as if he couldn’t believe his own words. Heracles snorted.

“Oh, I did more than ‘talk back’ to him. And in case you’ve forgotten Neville, we have titles too. He’s not special.”, Heracles reminded him. Neville blushed and began to look embarrassed.

“Yeah but, he’s scary… “, the brown haired boy muttered. Heracles rolled her eyes at his fear of a scrawny blonde kid who looked like a ferret.

“Neville, you can’t let people like Malfoy intimidate you. He’s a scrawny little eleven year old who looks like a ferret and has his lackeys do his bidding for him, which reminds me of someone else I know, but I digress. He’s not that scary.”, Heracles said in exasperation, recalling her trio of friends from Octavinelle. The difference between them and Malfoy’s crew was that they looked and acted much cooler, and when they pushed people around, it was because they had a business goal.

“Butwe’rescrawny eleven years old, too.”, Neville told her. Heracles snorted.

“No, you’re too thick around the sides to be considered scrawny, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I actually have muscles. Malfoy is a stick in ugly black robes.”, Heracles refuted. Neville still didn’t look convinced.

“Still, that doesn’t change the fact you probably just made an enemy out of one of the richest kids in Hogwarts.”, the nervous boy reminded her. Heracles smirked.

“Yeah,one of.I’m sure nothing in the Malfoy’s vault can measure up to what’s in the Potter vault, but I didn’t come here to have a dick measuring contest of gold, I came here to learn. And so long as Malfoy doesn’t get in the way of that, I honestly don’t care whether or not he likes me.”, Heracles said honestly, and Neville sighed in resignation. He wasn’t going to impress the perceived direness of Heracles’s situation on her anytime soon, and Heracles started reading about Grindelwald’s reign in her history book. Then Neville abruptly spoke.

“Can I call you Hera?”, he asked. Heracles looked up from her book. She looked into Neville’s eyes, and the intent behind his question was clear; he was grateful for her help dealing with Malfoy and her company, and he wanted to be friends.

Heracles found herself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, Neville was sweet, awkward and made for good company. He reminded her of a less pop-culturally involved Idia. On the other hand, she wasn’t sticking around. She was leaving as soon as possible, and she wasn’t coming back when she did. It would be a big change, but perhaps if she could alter her goals to finding a way to and from worlds instead of just going back to Twisted Wonderland, Heracles thought, then maybe making friends wouldn’t be so futile after all. Maybe she could indulge herself and ignore the fact that her trauma was screaming at her to run in the opposite direction and never speak to Neville again.

‘I’ll let myself make one friend, as a treat.’, she told herself, ignoring that nagging feeling that something would inevitably go wrong, that she would lose Neville just as she had lost her other friends. Maybe she could let herself be happy for once.

“Only my friends can call me Hera.”, Heracles said with a faux-serious expression. Neville slumped over sulkingly, a disappointed expression on his face.

“So we’re not friends?”, he asked despondently. Heracles smirked.

“I never said that.”, she responded, and Neville gave her a smile so bright that she couldn’t help but smile as well.

‘I’ll let myself have one school friend. As a treat.’

Notes:

I keep telling myself that you can't have crackhead energy and angst in the same fic, but here we are anyway. Neville will be a reoccurring character and one of Heracles's closest friends at Hogwarts, FYI. Heracles will have other friends as well. Draco will be this fic's main punching bag, with Ron and Hermione possibly being close seconds. He's just so easy to bully and his reactions are hilarious. Next time, the sorting and welcome feast!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 6: The Sorting

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles and Neville spent the remainder of the train ride in relative peace and quiet. Neville rambled on about magical plants, and Heracles listened because she was a good friend and magical plants werefascinating.When it came time for them to change into their school robes, Heracles didn’t bother, and instead remained in her usual outfit of her black hooded jacket, dark green t-shirt and black jeans. Neville had looked at her with confusion as he got his robes out.

“Why aren’t you changing?”, he asked. Heracles looked at him with a tired expression.

“Neville, not to sh*t on your culture or anything, but wizarding clothes are ugly and unflattering. They’re too loose, they get caught in everything, and I’d honestly rather wear socks with sandals than wear those monstrosities. I’m sure you’ll look fine in them because you have that chipmunk face that makes you look cute in anything, but I just can’t bring myself to wear them. The Headmaster could threaten me with expulsion and I still wouldn’t wear them.”, Heracles said. Neville blushed at the ‘chipmunk face’ comment, and Heracles left the compartment without a word so her friend could change in peace.

When they arrived at the school later that night, Heracles admired it out of her window and was struck by how similar Hogwarts looked to Night Raven College. They were both dark, gothic castles with large towers and grand walls. The only difference was that her friends didn’t lay within. Taking a shuddering breath at her dark thought, Heracles got off the train with Neville at her side. When they got off, she saw two things of note; a man that was even taller than Malleus calling out for the first years to follow him, and a group of carriages off to the side of the train platform being pulled by skeletal horses. Heracles stared at the horses. She knew she had read about them in one of her books, but she couldn’t put her finger on what they were.

“What are those things pulling the carriages, Neville?”, Heracles asked, hoping her pureblood friend could help jog her memory. Neville looked at her strangely.

“Hera, there’s nothing pulling the carriages.”, the boy told her gently. Heracles was about to refute him, but then she remembered what the creatures were; Thestrals, creatures that could only be seen by those who had witnessed death. She could see them since she had watched her parents die, but Neville couldn’t. Heracles shook her head.

“Right. My mistake.”, she said, and she started walking towards the giant man without a word. Neville blinked at her in bewilderment, but followed after her regardless.

“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here!”, the giant man yelled, holding his lantern high in the air for all to see. Heracles and Neville brushed past him and got into the boats he was standing in front of. They heard him say there could only be four in a boat, but Neville and Heracles were the only ones in theirs. No one wanted to sit with them, not that Heracles minded. She laughed as a redheaded boy with dirt on his nose tripped over a rope tying one of the boats to the dock and fell into the lake. The boy glared at her before dragging himself out of the water and getting into the boat farthest from hers.

The boats soon started sailing to the castle, floating idly along the water by magic. Most of the students gasped and awed over the splendor of the castle, but Heracles just stared at it coldly. It was a bitter reminder of what she had lost, a cheap imitation of her real home.

Heracles was brought out of her brooding when a large black tentacle rose out of the murky water. Heracles stared at it with hope shining in her eyes. For a fleeting moment, she hoped that the tentacle belonged to Azul, as irrational as it was to think that. But when she saw that the tentacle resembled a squid more than an octopus, that hope quickly died. The creature with the tentacle seemed to notice her sorrow, and reached out to pat her on the head comfortingly. Heracles sat stunned at the rubber appendage ruffled her red hair. The students around her gasped, and once the tentacle returned under water, Neville looked at her weirdly.

“What was that about?”, he asked. Heracles shrugged.

“No clue.”, she answered, and she genuinely meant it.

Once the boats docked, she and Neville got out without a word and followed the giant man into the castle. Heracles looked at every feature of the building scrutinizingly. She saw that there was no electricity, no proper ventilation system and likely barely any insulation in the stone walls of the castle, which was a recipe for disaster given how rainy and wet Scotland was. Heracles resolved to learn heating charms as soon as possible so she wouldn’t freeze to death before her second year.

‘Night Raven College was situated in a centuries old castle like this one, and even that place had proper electrical and heating systems!’, Heracles raved mentally.

The man then led them to a set of large wooden double doors before leaving them, where Professor McGonagall stood. Heracles glared at the woman who had ruined one of her attempts to get home, and McGonagall gave her a cold look in response.

“Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Minerva McGonagall, the deputy headmistress and professor of Transfiguration here at Hogwarts. In a moment, you will be- “, the woman said, only to be interrupted by the soggy ginger from the docks.

“Is there food in there?!”, the boy asked rudely. McGonagall glared at him.

“Yes there’s food, but first you must be sorted into your houses.”, the wrinkled woman told him. Heracles stiffened at the mention of ‘houses’.

At Night Raven College, she hadn’t had a proper house. The Dark Mirror had said she was fit for all houses, and therefore could not be in any of them, so she had been given the Ramshackle house to use as a dorm. It had been dusty and had needed some repairs, but Crewel had paid to fix everything when he found out she didn’t have electricity after her first week at school, and things were much more comfortable after that. But even when Crowley had shoved her in there on her own so he didn’t have to deal with her, she had loved the place. It had an eerie sort of beauty, with its kind ghosts and rooms full of gorgeous vintage furniture. She and Grimm had made it into a home, and it was the most space she had ever had all to herself in her life, even after moving into Grimmauld Place.

Ramshackle was her house, and Heracles honestly didn’t care what house she would be sorted into at Hogwarts. She had read about them in ‘Hogwarts: A History’, and they all just felt like generic rip-offs of the seven dorms of Night Raven College. They’re Ravenclaw dorm was just one word off from being Savanaclaw! Heracles knew she would feel more loyalty to her to Ramshackle than she ever would her Hogwarts house. Ramshackle had been her home just as Night Raven College had been. Hogwarts would never be that. Heracles’s attention was drawn back to the real world when Neville tugged nervously on her jacket sleeve.

“What is it, Neville?”, Heracles whispered to him. Neville looked at her with big, worried eyes.

“What if we aren’t in the same house and you don’t want to be my friend anymore?”, he asked, worried he was going to lose his only friend because of house division. Heracles looked at him with a deadpan expression.

“Neville, that’s stupid. Just because we don’t wear the same color clothes, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re wrong and probably lacking common sense.”, the redhead told him. Neville looked at her with only slightly less worry. As much as he wanted her words to be true, he knew how house conflicts could tear people apart. But she made everything sound so easy! He was still worried, but now he felt slightly more reassured. Once she saw this, Heracles returned her attention to McGonagall, who had been explaining things the girl already knew about the houses.

“-While you are here, your house will be like your family.”, the old woman explained. Heracles looked extremely skeptical.

“Oh that’s nice, ‘cause I’ve never had one.”, the girl lied. Shedidhave a family, they were just a literal world apart from her. She meant her words in the sense that she didn’t have parents. McGonagall choked on air and a random nearby first year looked at her with sympathy.

“That’s really sad.”, he said. Heracles nodded.

“Yeah. My parents were murdered, I got left on a doorstep when I was a baby with my neglectful aunt and uncle who left me at an orphanage the next day. The orphanage was abusive. Didn’t feed me when I cried too much, tried to beat me a few times but I always used magic to keep them away, the other children ostracized me because I was ‘different’. You know, all that sucky traumatic stuff.”, Heracles went on.

She didn’t shy away from the past she had on earth. What she went through at the orphanage was never that important to her, and she usually didn’t dwell on it. Professor McGonagall started to look extremely guilty, and more and more students looked at her with sympathy. Malfoy sniveled about how she was getting all the attention, but no one paid him any mind. Then Heracles revealed the abuse to end all abuses.

“Yeah, and the head matron at the orphanage, Mrs. Cole? She has a ‘Live Laugh Love’ poster hanging up in the orphanage common room.”, Heracles revealed. One of the muggleborn’s gasped dramatically.

“No way she’s that basic?!”, the muggleborn said. McGonagall looked like she was about to have a breakdown.

“Enough chatter!”, the woman yelled. Neville and the student that said her past was sad looked at McGonagall suspiciously.

“Why do you look so guilty?”, the unnamed boy asked. Neville nodded.

“Yeah, it’s not likeyouleft her on that doorstep.”, Neville tacked on, clearly not believing his own words. McGonagall looked at them with angry and panicked eyes.

“The sorting ceremony will begin momentarily, bye!”, McGonagall yelled, avoiding Neville and the other boy’s questions as she opened the double doors just a crack and made her escape. Heracles watched this happen with suspicion.

“Well that was weird… “, the girl muttered, but she didn’t have time to dwell on her thoughts, because moments later the doors in front of them opened all the way. The first years took that as their sign to enter, and they all walked into what Heracles knew to be the great hall.

There were four tables filled to the brim with students that looked at them with mild disinterest. Her fellow first years oohed and awed over the ceiling, which was enchanted to look like the night sky, and the floating candles all around them. Heracles looked at the magic spectacle appreciatively, but didn’t linger on it for long. While she would admit that the great hall was a better spectacle than Night Raven College’s cafeteria, she had more important things to focus on. Like how someone was trying to snoop around her head without her permission using Legilimency.

‘Not on my watch.’, Heracles thought. She had studied Occlumency extensively in the week before school, because the thought of someone being able to look at her memories without her knowing made her very uneasy. Heracles put up her Occlumency shield… which, rather hilariously, was just ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley playing nonstop in her head until whoever was looking at her thoughts left her the f*ck alone. She could have chosen something more sophisticated, but sophistication didn’t make her laugh. Heracles had to stifle a cackle when she saw the old man at the staff table (who she assumed was the Headmaster), begin to look utterly baffled the second her shields went up.

‘At least I know who was trying to get in my head. Note to self, avoid Headmaster at all costs and purposefully try to make his life harder as vengeance for trying to mind f*ck me.’, Heracles thought. Then she diverted her attention to McGonagall, who was holding a long scroll of parchment and standing beside a three-legged stool with the dirtiest hat Heracles had ever seen sitting on it. Heracles quickly realized that was the sorting hat, and what she was going to have to do with it.

‘Oh hell no, I am not getting head lice from a thousand year old hat. They can either clean that thing before it’s my turn, or I am not putting it on.’, Heracles declared mentally. She watched with disinterest as various students were called up to be sorted in alphabetical order, only to have the extremely dirty sorting hat placed on their heads, and then after anywhere from a few moments to a few seconds depending on the person, the hat shouted the name of one of the four houses, and the student walked to their house table filled with clapping students. Heracles tuned all of this out until Neville’s name was called.

“Longbottom, Neville!”, McGonagall shouted. Neville gulped and quickly scampered up the stairs to the stool. Heracles gave him a small smile and a thumbs up, which caused him to give her a nervous smile in return.

‘Hades, he really does look like Idia when he does that.’, she thought. After a few moments, the hat spoke.

“GRYFFINDOR!”, the hat yelled. The Gryffindor house table clapped and stomped their feet as they welcomed their nervous new member. Heracles was mildly surprised.

‘Huh, I thought he would be a Hufflepuff.’, she thought idly, before she heard her own name be called.

“Potter, Heracles!”, McGonagall shouted. The hall went silent. Whispers echoed throughout the large chamber, and everyone at the staff table watched her with interest. Heracles walked up to the stool with her head held high. Then she turned to look at McGonagall.

“Clean the hat.”, she said in the driest voice possible. Mcgonagall gawked at her in bewilderment.

“What?”, she asked. Heracles pointed to the sorting hat with a bored expression.

“Clean the hat. I’m not wearing a hat that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in over a thousand years. Clean the hat, or I won’t put it on.”, Heracles repeated. Murmurs boomed throughout the great hall. The staff whispered amongst each other, not sure what to do. McGonagall glared at her.

“If the sorting hat was good enough for Godric Gryffindor, then I believe it will be good enough foryouMiss Potter.”, McGonagall hissed through clenched teeth. Heracles wasn’t convinced by her argument and she narrowed her eyes.

“Then Godric Gryffindor must have had five different kinds of head bugs, because that hat looks musty as hell! Look at it, even the dust has dust!”, Heracles exclaimed, pointing at the sorting hat again. She was not going to back down.

McGonagall opened and closed her mouth like a fish for a while, not sure how to respond to such blatant disrespect by an eleven year old who had called her a ‘daft bint’ just last week. It looked like the Headmaster was about to intervene, but then the hat itself chimed in.

“Actually, I would rather like a cleaning.”, the hat said, and everyone went silent. The hat had never spoken out like that at a sorting. Heracles smirked.

“See?”, she said. She knew she had won. McGonagall looked at her with a sour expression, before she pulled her wand out, pointed it at the hat and said;

“Scourgify!”, she exclaimed, and just like that the hat was good as new. Heracles’s smirk widened and she leaned close to McGonagall.

“There, now was that so hard?”, she asked the woman. McGonagall looked on the verge of attempting to throttle her. Heracles walked away, picked the hat up, and sat down on the wooden stool like it was a throne, looking rather satisfied with herself. She then placed the hat on her own head (not letting McGonagall do it for her like she had with everyone else), and closed her eyes.

‘My my, what do we have here… ‘,the hat’s voice said in her mind. Heracles scowled at the feeling of someone poking around her head again.

‘Get out of my head.’,she told the hat bluntly, no longer in the mood to play around like she had been with the Headmaster or McGonagall. The hat chuckled.

‘Now now little one, no need to get prickly. I just need to see your memories to sort you.’,the hat explained. Heracles’s scowl intensified.

‘You don’t want to see what goes on in my head, trust me.’,she warned, but the hat merely chuckled.

‘Defensive, are we? You’re certainly different from the usual children I sort. You know who you are and what you want. You aren’t figuring yourself out like most children your age are.’,the hat observed. Heracles held her head high with pride at his observations.

‘You’re right. I do know who I am. I am as severe as the Queen of Hearts, as persistent as the King of Beasts, as benevolent as the Witch of the Seas, as wise as the Sorcerer of the Sands, as tenacious as the Beautiful Queen, as diligent as the Lord of the Underworld, and as graceful as the Witch of Thorns.’,Heracles declared. Then she finally let him take a glimpse at her mind.

It only lasted seconds, but memories from over a year of chaos flashed in front of the sorting hat. Young men driven mad by magical exhaustion, covered in ink cackled loudly. He could hear laughter and sobs, feel the raging emotions of the people in the memories overtake his own. The hat was taken aback by the images and sounds, and Heracles waited for him to regain his bearings.

‘Well?’,Heracles questioned.

‘... You truly are an enigma, Heracles Potter. I know just where to put you.’,the hat said finally. Heracles scowled again. She was getting annoyed with how long things were taking.

‘Well put me there already. Time is money, you know.’,she said, using Azul’s favorite phrase he liked to use when people were late. The hat seemed hesitant.

‘You will do well there, of this I’m certain. But you will be lonely. You will not find the kind companionship you found in that other world of yours in this house.’,the hat warned her. Heracles scoffed.

‘You don’t think I came here knowing that? This castle will never be my home, and neither will this world. My home is where they are, and they are not here. Now put me in the damn house already!’,Heracles exclaimed. The hat sighed.

‘As you wish.’

“SLYTHERIN!”, the sorting hat yelled.

The great hall went silent. Heracles got up, put the hat back onto the stool, and walked over to her house table with grace. No one clapped for her. She sat down near some second years, looking disinterested all the while. Draco Malfoy, who had already been sorted, sneered at her. Heracles paid him no mind. She pulled out her pack of bloody playing cards and began to shuffle them in the showy way Ace had taught her to. Some would call this a nervous fidget, but if they knew what the cards could do, the students would see her actions for what they truly were; a warning. A boy with a shiny badge on his chest that read ‘head boy’ on it glared at her. That was all the provocation Heracles needed to act.

Faster than anyone could see, Heracles threw a card (the ace of hearts) at the head boy’s face. At first, nothing happened. Then a red line appeared on his cheek and started dripping blood. The head boy touched his face in bewilderment, and stared at his hand in fear when he realized he had blood on his fingers. Everyone at the Slytherin table started looking around for what could have caused the cut. Eventually, they found the ace of hearts buried halfway in the stone wall behind the table, with blood dripping off the edge. Everyone slowly looked at Heracles in terror as she continued to idly shuffle her cards. After a few moments, she got up, took the card out of the wall, and put the card back in her deck without cleaning it. She figured that since blood had been the cause of the curse on the cards, blood would strengthen the curse and make the cards sharper. After sitting back down, she looked at the head boy with a pointed glare. The message was clear.

‘I could do so much worse if I wanted to. I will not be bullied by a bunch of fools.’

Notes:

And there's the sorting. You cannot lie to me and say that the sorting hat hasn't given at least a few hundred kids lice over the years because of how little it's probably cleaned because the staff 'don't want to damage such a sacred artifact', but my dude it's literally Godric Gryffindor's equivalent of that old, beat up baseball hat he never wears but refuses to get rid of and- I'll shut up now this is turning into a tangent. Next time, first year starts and so does the chaos!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 7: Year One: Threatening Gingers, Potions and Unicorns

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The welcome feast went by in a blur. Heracles ate in silence and remained undisturbed by her housemates. Neville would sometimes give her worried looks from across the room, but Heracles paid him no mind. He had nothing to worry about.

By the end of the meal, Heracles was led back to the entrance of the Slytherin dorms by a still bleeding and very shaken head boy, as were the rest of the first years. Draco tried to say something snarky after clearly not learning his lesson from the card incident, but Heracles, thoroughly tired from the day she had had, just glanced back at him as she started to sense him opening his mouth.

“Say something to me and I’ll drag you into the black lake by your widow’s peak and drown you, Shirley Temple.”, she threatened, and Draco made a wise decision for once in his life and shut his mouth. Heracles snorted.

“That’s what I thought, Blondie.”

They were then led into the dorms (which were in the dungeons andfreezing,by the way), and the head boy and girl gave them a speech about ‘the noble legacy of Slytherin’ and how ‘they had to project a front of unity when in public’. Heracles called bullsh*t and wondered how the hell they were supposed to do any of that when everyone in the dorm seemed to hate each other. And apparently everyone in the other houses hated them too, if the head boy’s bitching about ‘house favoritism’ was accurate. Just great.

‘I didn’t come here to make friends, but I didn’t come here to get persecuted for wearing green and liking snake designs, either.’, Heracles thought as the head girl led her and the other dozen girls in her year to the girls dormitory. They were depended in front of a very large chamber and told they would by sharing two rooms with six girls in each. Heracles’s mood dampened even more at that. She hated sharing personal space with people she didn’t know.

Once the head girl left them to their own devices, Heracles quickly found her stuff, picked the bed closest to the door in case she had to make a quick getaway for an emergency, and began to unpack her books. A girl with a pug-like face and two of her lackeys sneered at her.

“You think a filthy half-blood like you belongs in Slytherin?”, the girl asked. Heracles glared at her briefly, before returning to her task.

“Honestly, I couldn’t care less what house I’m in. But the hat said I would do well here, so suck it up I guess. “, the redhead trailed off. The pug-faced girl stomped her foot like an angry toddler.

“Well I won’t accept it! I refuse to room with the reason the Dark Lord is no longer among us, none of us will! Come on girls, let's go request our own room, away from this blood traitor!”, the ugly girl said, and then she and every other girl in the room grabbed their stuff and left. The pug-faced girl shut the door behind them with a smug look on her face, as if she had won an argument. Heracles watched this neutrally, and once the door was completely closed and she was alone, she smirked evilly.

“Oh no, my roommates have left me to go stay somewhere else. What ever shall I do? I guess I’ll just stay here. Alone. In this room that’s even bigger than my one at Grimmauld Place, with all the peace and quiet I could ask for, and my own private ensuite bathroom. Truly, how will I ever cope?”, Heracles said in a monotone, sarcastic voice. She couldn’t believe the dumbasses in her year did exactly what she had wanted them to do without actually having to convince them to do it with pretty words and a few well-placed threats.

‘What idiots.’, Heracles thought as she flopped onto her green canopy bed. She pulled out her Transfiguration textbook, content to look over the material she had already memorized until she fell asleep. She briefly worried about where Hedwig would sleep since she didn’t know that her dorm was in the dungeons, but she knew that she was smart and had probably taken up residence in the school owlery for the night. With that comforting thought in mind, Heracles felt her eyes begin to droop. She shimmed under the covers, turned off the gaslamp on her bedside table (she took back what she said about Hogwarts not having light bulbs), and then she fell as she reminded herself to go looking for an abandoned classroom to use as a laboratory tomorrow.

Aside from a few minor incidents, Hogwarts hadn’t been a total dumpster fire so far, and now she had Neville to keep her company. Perhaps school wouldn’t be as much of a disaster as she thought it would be.

—---------------------------------------------------

Heracles took back everything nice she had ever thought about Hogwarts. That backwater school could burn in hell for all she cared.

Her day had started off normal enough; get up, take a shower, get dressed and go down for breakfast. Then she saw what everyone was being fed and her day went to sh*t.

Everyone was eating the same greasy heart-attack fuel that they had been fed at the welcome feast. Heracles had eaten it without question then because it was a special occasion, you were meant to ignore how healthy or unhealthy food was on special occasions. But seeing that they were all being served the same nutritionless stuff they had been served last night made her look at the food in disgust. Vil would have had a heart attack if he could see her now. No way was she eating this unhealthy junk! Heracles got up and left the table without a word. She knew where the kitchens were from ‘Hogwarts: A History’, and she knew the house elves that ean them would likely listen to her if she requested healthier meal options. She would have to run by there sometime before lunch.

After getting up, Heracles made her way over to the Gryffindor table. She knew about the house rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin, but quite frankly she didn’t give a sh*t. She had more important things in her life to worry about than the pissing contest between glorified versions two groups of extremely immature people. Heracles ignored the stares coming her way and sat down beside Neville.

“Hey Neville, how was last night? Do you like your new dorm okay?”, she asked, curious about how her new friend was adjusting to dorm life. Neville blinked at her, surprised she had broken the unspoken rule of not sitting at your house table, but was prevented from responding to her when the redhead that fell into the water last night sneered at Heracles.

“What are you doing here, you bloody snake?”, the ginger boy asked nastily. Heracles looked at him with a bored and annoyed expression.

“Talking to my friend, as you can clearly see. What’s it to you, you frog-faced git?”, Heracles asked. The ginger glared venomously at her.

“You can’t sit here! Go back to your own house, you traitor!”, the ginger exclaimed. Heracles became even more annoyed, and Neville looked between the pair of redheads anxiously.

“Actually, I can sit wherever I want. There’s no rule that states that someone can only sit at their house table. That’s just a load of bullsh*t the people in charge here try to enforce because of petty rivalries over glorified, oversized cups. And how am I a traitor? I haven’t evendoneanything. I just got here last night, like the rest of us. How could I be a traitor when I don’t even know you people enough to betray you?”, Heracles sassed, not taking any of the boy’s sh*t. The redheaded first year’s face turned as red as his hair.

“You’re a traitor because you’re a slimy snake! You’re Heracles Potter, the bloody Girl-Who-Lived! Your parents were both Gryffindors, and you’re a disgrace to them by being sorted into- !”, the boy started to exclaim, but he was cut off when Heracles pulled a card out of her jacket, leaned over the table, and held it to his neck.

“Finish that sentence. I dare you.”, she hissed dangerously as the sharp edge of the card pressed against the boy’s neck. She would not be told she was insulting her parent’s memory by an insolent stranger.

The two of spades made a slight cut into the boy’s skin. The blue eyed boy’s eyes widened. How could a card be hurting him? He looked around frantically for help, but found none. Despite the fact that Heracles had a good portion of the great hall’s attention, no one was intervening in her and the boy’s confrontation. This was likely because it didn’t look like a confrontation at all. After all, what damage could a card do to someone? To everyone around them, they were just two first years messing around with each other. Except for the Slytherins, who were smart enough not to get involved after her little display last night. Heracles smirked. Everything was just as she had calculated. After a few tense moments, Heracles slowly removed her card from her adversary’s neck and returned to her seat, looking as smug as ever.

“I don’t take insults lightly, so I suggest you watch your tongue before you lose it, fool. Understood?”, Heracles asked dangerously. The now terrified redhead nodded frantically, before getting up and sprinting out of the great hall. Heracles turned to look at Neville, who looked extremely pale witnessing his friend’s ruthlessness. Heracles smiled as if nothing had happened.

“So Neville, how do you like Gryffindor?”, she asked, and Neville, ever the quick learner, realized he probably shouldn’t question what had just happened for the the sake of his sanity. Neville nodded shakily.

“It’s nice.”, he responded. Heracles smiled, happy that he wasn’t interrogating her.

“That’s good to hear.

—----------------------------------------------------

Classes were so boringly easy it was excruciating, Heracles decided. Everything they were learning was so basic she didn’t even have to use her brain for half the things they did. It was like being told to put shape pegs into the correct holes. It felt so juvenile, which was ironic, because Heracleswasa juvenile.

Back at Night Raven College, the standard of learning had been much higher than Hogwarts. First years were expected to be able to do things the so-called ‘masters’ at Hogwarts claimed were so difficult they were only capable of being done with the highest mastery of the subject. What the Hogwarts professors called ‘true skill’ was basic ability to a Night Raven College student.

For example, potions. Heracles stared at the black board and the potions recipe on it with boredom and irritation. It was a cure for boils. That wasn’t even special! It was a common remedy in Twisted Wonderland because of magic being public there! Everyone and their mothers knew how to make it! It was so easy!

Heracles took a deep breath to calm herself. She knew her exasperation was unnecessary. She had read the first year textbooks during the week before school. She knew what to expect for that year, just like she did for the other six. She knew that her lessons at Night Raven College were far more advanced than anything she would be taking at Hogwarts. Still, that didn’t change the fact that all her lessons until graduation were going to bepainfully boring.

‘Seven, kill me now.’, Heracles thought as she had holes burned into her head by Snape’s intense stare. The man had been looking at her like she was a ghost ever since she had walked into his class, and it was starting to get on her nerves. She missed Crewel’s lessons now more than ever. At leasthewas a good teacher. Snape’s teaching method seemed to essentially be ‘write it down on the board and let everyone figure it out for themselves’. Something Neville was suffering for.

“Neville, no. If you put that in there, you’ll give yourself boils instead of curing them.”, Heracles warned her friend, who was about to put something that was definitely not the chopped flobber worms the potion recipe called for into their cauldron. Neville squeaked and put the ingredient back where he got it from.

“R-right.”, he stuttered. Heracles sighed. Neville was a nervous person, and that nervousness was cranked up to eleven the second he entered a classroom, and this was bad because nerves made people more likely to make mistakes. This was especially true for the people in Snape’s class, because the man was a condescending asshat who treated the people who asked for help like they were stupid. At least the Gryffindors. Heracles shook her head at the situation she had found herself in.

“Whatever, it’s fine. You just read the ingredients aloud to me, and I’ll make the potion. Sound good?”, Heracles offered, grateful for the sake of her friend that their first potions assignment required them to have a partner. Neville nodded eagerly and opened his textbook to the correct page.

For the next several minutes, Neville recited recipe instructions and Heracles made the boil curing potion. In the end, they made a perfect boil cure in half the time it took the rest of the class to do it. Heracles then put Neville on stirring duty and started listing things she needed to do before the end of the day in her notebook.

1. Find an abandoned room to use as a laboratory. The third floor corridor will likely be completely empty because of what Dumbledore said at the welcome feast. I don’t buy that BS about dying a painful death for a second.

2. Stop by the kitchens and ask the house elves for healthy eating options. Maybe if I give them a recipe they’ll make some stuff from Twisted Wonderland.

3. Contact Ragnok about finding a lawyer. I need to have those lawsuits out of the way as quickly as possible.

Time flew by, until eventually the end of class came and Snape started walking by to check their potions. The asshole redhead from earlier failed miserably and destroyed his cauldron, Heracles noted with glee. Malfoy did above average, and everyone else did moderately well, or at least as well as they could have with their professor’s strict standards. Then Snape came to her and Neville and looked down his hooked nose at their potion.

“Well well, what do we have here?”, the man asked. Heracles looked at him with a blank face.

“Our potion, Snape.”, she said in a voice just as unnecessarily slow and disinterested as his was to mock him. Every pair of eyes in the classroom were now on her. Many students winced at her actions. Rage filled the professor’s eyes at her use of his first name.

“What did you just call me?”, he asked dangerously. Heracles’s blank expression didn’t change.

“Snape. I refuse to call you professor. You nor any of the professors here have earned that right.”, the green eyed girl stated. She had called her teachers at Night Raven College ‘professor’ because they had earned it by being amazing mages and people. No teacher at Hogwarts had proven to be any of those things. Snape’s eyebrow twitched.

“Youwillcall me professor, or member of my own house or not, I will give you detention.”, the pale man warned. Heracles tilted her head.

“Do you have a doctorate?”, she asked. Every professor at Night Raven College had a doctorate in their field, and it showed in their excellent teaching. No one at Hogwarts had anything so much as resembling that.

“... No.”, Snape slowly admitted. Heracles narrowed her eyes at him.

“Then I’ll call you by your last name just like I do with every other teacher in this backwater school, and It’ll stay that way until you either get a doctorate or earn my respect.”, Heracles informed him. Snape leaned close to her with an angry sneer on his face.

“You do know I can petition the headmaster to have you expelled because of this?”, he asked, rage stirring in his black eyes. Heracles didn’t flinch.

“I know. I just don’t care.”, she told him scathingly, and she was telling the truth. She didn’t even like Hogwarts, and since she was a wealthy Lady, she could probably just go to a slightly better school abroad without any trouble. She might even find more information on magic mirrors at the other schools. Snape frowned at her, but said as he pulled his face away from her own.

“Ten points to Slytherin for standing your ground against an adversary, and ten more to both Slytherin and Gryffindor for making a perfect boil cure.”, Snape said, and then he skulled over to the next desk without a word. Heracles grinned, and Neville looked like he was about to pass out.

“Bloody hell, Hera. Do you have any survival instinct at all?”, Neville breathed anxiously once Snape was out of earshot. Heracles smirked at him.

“Oh, I do. I just don’t need it in a school full of mediocre magic users who can’t do sh*t without those overrated sticks they cling to like they’re the last co*cks on earth.”, she told the boy confidently. Neville sighed tiredly at her words.

‘This girl is going to be the death of me.’, he thought.

—-------------------------------------------------

The rest of the day passed in a blur. Heracles got everything she needed to do done; she contacted Ragnok about getting a lawyer, found an abandoned (and very dusty) classroom in the third floor corridor to use as a lab, and convinced the house elves to provide her with healthy food options at every meal before going to lunch to eat said healthy food options. Aside from breakfast and her classes, her first day had gone off without a hitch. Perhaps her day to day life at Hogwarts wouldn’t be such a nightmare after all-

“Help!”,the voice of a female horse cried out. Heracles, who had been walking to her last class of the day on her own through the castle’s outdoor grounds, stiffened and stopped walking when she heard the horse’s cry.

Heracles had been attached to horses ever since she went to Twisted Wonderland. Riddle and Silver had gotten her into horse riding by taking her to the equestrian club meetings a few times. It had felt so freeing to ride the beautiful show horses Night Raven College kept for its students. It was just as freeing as riding a broom. Heracles rather liked horses, so when she heard one cry out for help, she didn’t hesitate to veer off the dirt path to the part of the castle where her next class was and followed the distressed neighing sounds that echoed throughout the air.

Eventually, Heracles came to the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There, laying on the ground with a bloody hoof, was a pure white unicorn. Heracles looked at the equestrian creature in surprise. Unicorns existed in Twisted Wonderland, but they were elusive and avoided people. Lilia had only ever seen one once in all his seven hundred years of life, and that was years ago. Heracles kneeled down beside the injured creature. She couldn’t really understand what it was saying, since unicorn language seemed to be slightly different from normal horse language, but she could pick up on words like ‘help’ and ‘attacked’. It didn’t take a genius to put together what had happened. Heracles pet the trembling creature’s soft coat gently.

“Hey, it’s okay. The bad guy that hurt you isn’t here anymore. I’m gonna help you.”, Heracles vowed, and she immediately started ripping her jacket sleeves into strips and wrapped them around the unicorn’s injured hoof.

‘What could have done this to such a majestic creature?’, Heracles thought as she looked at the bitemarks on the unicorn’s leg. They didn’t look like any animal Heracles had ever seen or read about. They almost looked… human. Heracles was shaken out of her musing when the unicorn neighed again, and the girl resumed wrapping the beast’s wound/

Once the bleeding had stopped, Heracles lamented at the fact that she didn’t have the things needed to clean or properly treat the wound.

‘Note to self; invest in a first aid kit. Or learn healing charms. That would probably be more useful.’, she thought. The unicorn, once tense and fearful, started to relax when she saw how kindly she was being treated by the human girl beside her.

‘Nice human.’,she said, but Heracles didn’t understand her. Seeing that her work was done, Heracles pet the unicorn one last time before giving her a small smile.

“I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more. Don’t worry though. I’ve heard the giant man called Hagrid is very nice and loves to help creatures like yourself. Just stay here and he’ll make sure you’ll get proper treatment. For now though, that’s the best I can do. I hope you get better soon.”, she told the unicorn sincerely. She then got up and started to leave for her next class, only to stop in her tracks when the unicorn started neighing urgently. Heracles turned around, worried something had gone wrong when she turned her back, but nothing had happened. Heracles frowned at the unicorn, wondering what was causing her behavior.

“I’m sorry, but I have to go. I meant what I said. A nice man will take care of you. Hagrid will be out of here any moment, I promise!”, she assured the unicorn, but the horned creature just kept neighing, trying to make the girl understand that she didn’t want her to go. But Heracles had already left for her next class, missing her whole right jacket sleeve. As she left, Heracles made another mental reminder for herself.

‘Again, note to self; order another jacket from an owl catalog or something. This one's torn to hell and back, no thanks to myself. Silver would be proud of me for being a good protector of the animal kingdom.’

Notes:

Not even all the way done with her first day and Heracles has already chosen violence and made friends with more objects and creatures than people. Don't hate on me for what I did to Ron. I don't hate Ron or Hermione (Dumbledore is iffy), but we need antagonists so... yeah. Next time, first year continues and Heracles gets up to some sh*t!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 8: Year One: Broomsticks, Punching Malfoy and Deals with Twins

Summary:

And here's the next chapter. Heracles is having none of Malfoy's sh*t, to say the least. I know Draco is supposed to be this tragic and sympathetic character, but during the first five movies I wanted someone to hit his ass with a metal chair so bad. My hatred for him was almost as great as my hatred for Umbridge. Big emphasis on the almost. The twins will be friends with Heracles. They'll be kind of like the Tweels to her Azul, only less violent. There will be no love interests from Harry Potter. One mistake I made with another unfinished Twisted Wonderland fanfic I wrote on a different site was bloating the harem by adding too many side characters, OC's and characters from different fandoms. I will not be making that same mistake again, it was one of the reasons I got burnt out and didn't write anything for a whike. Neville and a few others may have a crush on Heracles at some point, but that's all it will be; a crush. They'll all probably end up with their own love interests at some point. Next time, first year continues!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter Text

Heracles stared down at the battered school broom on the green grass of the courtyard, a bored expression on her face as she waited for the bird-like woman teaching her class to give her instructions. It was three days into the term, and it was her first bi-weekly flying class. She and Neville (who was standing beside her looking as nervous as he always did) had it together thankfully, since Gryffindors and Slytherins seemed to have all their classes together. Heracles thought it was a breeding ground for potential conflict since the houses seemed to hate each other so much, but if it let her see Neville as much as she wanted to then she wasn’t going to complain.

Neville was still her only human friend in the school. Everyone else she was on good terms with was either an animal, a portrait or a ghost (nice to see nothing had changed much from her Ramshackle days in that aspect). Everyone in Slytherin either hated her (Pansy the pug faced girl, Draco and all their lackeys), was terrified of her (every other student in Slytherin), or begrudgingly respected her (some random Slytherins in her year and Snape, surprisingly enough). Everyone in Gryffindor that she had met so far hated her and thought she was corrupting Neville, and she was the bane of every teacher’s existence.

Heracles made it a point to annoy the school staff as much as possible. She kept showing up their spell demonstrations with even better spells of her own and using wandless magic as a way to show off and spite Olivander. They couldn’t even give her detention or deduct points from Slytherin, because she had memorized every rule in the school and knew all the loopholes to get around them. Dumbledore had tried to call her into his office numerous times, but she would just hide in her lab in the third floor corridor until he gave up trying to find and speak with her. It was an annoying game, but Heracles would rather die than be in a room alone with the man that tried to read her mind without her permission.

“Welcome to your first flying lesson. Everyone step up to the left side of your broomstick. Come on now, hurry up!”, the teacher known as Rolanda Hooch commanded everyone. Hercules only called her Madam Hooch instead of just Hooch because she reminded her of Hedwig. Heracles did as she was told, dragging the still very nervous Neville along with her. Once they were both at the left side of their brooms, Madam Hooch gave them another command.

“Now stick your right hand over the broom and say ‘up’! Say it like you mean it now! The broom won’t do what you ask unless it knows it’s a command!”, Madam Hooch told them. Heracles thought it was weird that earth brooms had to be picked up in such an over complicated way, but did as she was told nonetheless.

“Up!”, she told her broom, the same word being echoed amongst the other first years in their class. The broom flew up into Heracles’s hand with no struggle. The girl smirked

Meanwhile, everyone else was having trouble getting their brooms a few inches off the ground. A bushy haired Gryffindor girl glared at her in contempt and envy for getting the broom to do as she asked while she herself struggled. Heracles paid her no mind. The ginger Heracles had threatened earlier that week (Whose name she now knew was Ronald Weasley), was glaring at his broom as he tried to get it off the ground.

“UP!”, the annoying boy screamed with force. Apparently too much force, because the broom flew up and hit him in the nose with it’s handle. Heracles cackled madly at the sight, and Ronaly glared at her. Soon, everyone had their broom in their hands. Heracles saw that Neville was struggling to get the broom to move at all, and just quickly picked it up and handed it to him when Madam Hooch wasn’t looking. The boy looked at her gratefully.

Now, once you’ve gotten hold of your broom, I want you to mount it. And grip it tight. I don’t want to see anyone sliding off the end.”, Madam Hooch told them. Heracles’s eyes widened at the woman’s poor choice of words.

‘Is she talking about brooms or something less kid friendly?’, Heracles asked herself, unable to figure out the answer without conjuring some less than desirable images in her mind. Madam Hooch continued speaking, looking at all of her students with her piercing amber eyes.

“When I blow my whistle, I want each of you to kick off from the ground, hover for a few moments, lean forward, and touch back down. On my whistle; three, two- “, Madam Hooch started to say, but she never reached one, because after everyone had mounted their brooms, Neville had begun to fly off the ground, seemingly not of his own volition. Everyone looked at the boy in bewilderment, and Heracles started to become concerned.

“f*ck, Neville!”, the redheaded girl screamed as Neville started to wobble on his broom and panic. Madam Hooch watched this happen with wide eyes.

“Mr. Longbottom!”, the white haired woman screamed, but Neville just started making more of what Heracles liked to call ‘worried Neville noises’ and flew farther from the ground. Madam Hooch scowled at him.

“Mr. Longbottom!”, she yelled, her face betraying that she thought Neville was doing what he was doing to be defiant, not on accident. Heracles glared at the woman.

“Maybe you should tell him what to do to get down instead of just shouting at him, since he’s clearly scared and not doing what he’s doing on purpose?”, Heracles suggested irately, but Madam Hooch just ignored her.

“Mr. Longbottom!”, she shouted again as Neville flew even further off the ground. Heracles’s glare intensified.

‘That’s it, this lady just lost all her ‘Hedwig respect points’. You’re back to just Hooch now, lady. Not that I really had the chance to call you ‘Madame’ before all of this, but still.’, Hercules resolved. One of the Slytherins that actually respected her, Theodore Nott, spoke up.

“Potter is right. She isn’t really giving the most helpful instructions.”, the blonde boy voiced. Another Slytherin who didn’t hate her, Blaise Zabini, tilted his head curiously.

“Maybe she should arrest his momentum.”, the tanned boy said wisely. Nott raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, but do any of us really care what happens to him?”, the blue eyed boy said in his usual ruthlessly pragmatic manner. He was a Slytherin, and true Slytherins didn’t care about people they barely knew. A harsh philosophy, one that would have been scorned at Night Raven College.

‘Perhaps that’s why no one likes us… apart from the fact that our house members are usually elitist bigots.’, Heracles thought. Zabini shrugged at his housemate’s words.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”, he said. Heracles gave him a dry and unsurprised look.

“Neglect.”, she stated, calling the situation out for what it was. With the way things were going, she was going to have even more lawsuits on her hands than she already did. Heracles then realized that Hooch was probably just going to keep screaming at Neville and not help him get back down safely. So Heracles decided to act.

‘Time to play the hero for the umpteenth time in my life. I wonder what Crowley would say if he could see me now. Probably something about how I’m ‘so gracious’.’, Heracles thought with a snort as she balanced her feet on her broom and flew into the air standing up, much to the shock of the people still on the ground.

‘Thank Seven for Leona’s flying lessons.’, Heracles thought. Leona had taught her how to fly standing up like he did after she saw him do it once in gym. It had only required minimal begging, surprisingly enough. Apparently, the lazy lion’s reasoning was that if he taught it to her, she would be less likely to injure herself by trying to learn it on her own. It had been a sweet sentiment.

“Miss Potter!?”, Hooch yelled in both shock and confusion, but Heracles ignored her and flew to meet Neville in the air. Unfortunately, the boy’s luck was just as bad as hers and he ended up flying into a statue of a fisherman before she could get to him (Heracles had no idea why there was a statue of a fisherman on a roof of all places, but there was a statue of a man dancing with a chicken in the third floor corridor, so she wasn’t that surprised). Neville’s robe got hung on the fisherman’s rod, and he looked like a misbehaving cat being dangled from his scruff. The statue, which just so happened to be alive like the portraits in the school, looked at Neville excitedly.

“Oh my Merlin guys look! I caught a fish!”, the fisherman exclaimed to the other roof statues. Poor Neville, who looked like he was ready to pass out at that point, began to protest.

“I’m not a fish.”, he sobbed weakly. The fisherman looked at him with disappointment.

“Oh. Well get off then!”, he said, and despite the fact that he couldn’t move much on account of being a statue, Neville did get off of his fishing rod. His robes started to tear under the strain of being held up by it, and Heracles quickly flew over to get him before he could fall any further.

“Neville, take my hand!”, she ordered the brunette boy, holding out her hand for him to take. Neville eagerly reached out for her, but his cloak finally gave way and he started to fall while making ‘distressed Neville sounds’. Heracles watched in horror as her only human friend on earth plummeted to his doom… only for his robes to get caught on a torch holder on the side of the castle wall. Heracles sweatdropped.

‘Deja vu much?’, she thought. The situation had gone from dire to comical fast enough to give her whiplash.

“Ah great, now he’s being strangled!”, a Gryffindor named Seamus Finnegan yelled out in annoyance. The only reason Heracles remembered his name was because he kept blowing up things when he tried to do spells, which was an unfortunate coincidence considering he was Irish.

‘An Irish kid that’s good at blowing things up. Had he grown up in the non-magical world, he would have been canceled by now.’, Heracles thought in regards to what could only be the universe’s attempt at a dark joke. Then she remembered ‘oh sh*t, Neville is in danger’ and flew down to get him off the torch holder. Instead of holding out her hand for him to take, she got underneath him and caught him bridal style when he fell again. Heracles then flew back down to the ground with a blushing Neville in her arms.

“No more flying for you unless I’m with you. Understood?”, she told the boy sternly. She had just gotten a friend and she was not losing him to his own clumsiness. Until he stopped being so accident prone, flying was going to be an activity they only did together. Neville blushed harder out of embarrassment.

“Yes ma’am.”, he responded, as if he was talking to his grandmother. Heracles sat Neville down on his own two feet and stood beside him, watching irately as Madam Hooch walked over to look him over for injuries.

“Thank Merlin, nothing more than a few bruises. Mr. Longbottom tripped on his shoelace, we all saw it. Not my fault.”, Madam Hooch told the class. Heracles narrowed her eyes at the woman.

“Riiiight”, she drawled out. She couldn’t sue the woman since Neville hadn’t really gotten hurt and hadn’t deliberately been endangered, but she could put the woman on her sh*t list. Hooch ignored her sarcastic remark and ushered Neville towards the entrance to the school building.

“I’ll be taking Mr. Longbottom to the hospital wing to make sure he’s completely alright. No flying until I get back. If I see a single broom in the air, the person flying it will be out of this school faster than they can say ‘quidditch’.”, Hooch warned them as she took the still very shaken-up Neville away. As she left, Malfoy started to smirk and tossed something in the air. Heracles’s eyes widened when she saw it was Neville’s Remembrall, a gift from his grandmother to help with his forgetfulness. He had only gotten it yesterday and had only let Heracles touch it for fear of it getting broken. Malfoy caught the Remembrall and turned to several of his Slytherin groupies.

“You see his face? Maybe if the fat lump had given this a squeeze, he’d remembered to fall on his fat- “, Malfoy started to say arrogantly, only to be interrupted when Heracles quickly got tired of his sh*t and decked him in the face with a right hook that Deuce had taught her. Malfoy fell to the ground with an ‘oof!’, his nose spurting blood and his face starting to bruise as the Remembrall went flying out of his hand. Everyone was so shocked, no one went to help him. Heracles looked at her shocked classmates with a severe expression, her fist balled at her side and her knuckles covered in Malfoy’s blood.

“Malfoy tripped on his shoelace, we all saw it.”, she said, using Madam Hooch’s own lie from earlier. No one made a sound, they all just stared at her with pale, intimidated faces. Heracles took that as confirmation that everyone would keep their mouths shut, picked up Neville’s Remembrall from off the ground and walked away towards the castle entrance to go give the object back to her friend. Malfoy, who had recovered from the shock of the attack, looked at his classmates angrily.

“Well don’t just stand there, do something!”, he yelled, his voice nasally because of his now broken nose. No one moved a muscle. It was clear every first year in his class feared Heracles more than they feared him. Draco screamed in frustration.

—-----------------------------------------------------

Later that afternoon, after retrieving the mostly fine Neville from the hospital wing and returning him to his dorm, Heracles went to the library to find a book on advanced potions. She needed it to make a special potion to soak one of her magic mirrors in. If she did that, it might have a better chance at working than her other attempts.

Walking into the potions section, Heracles ignored the whispers of the students around her, speaking about her past and actions. She didn’t care about inaccurate gossip. She gave a polite nod to the Grey Lady as she floated past her, who gave her one in turn. Over the past few days, Heracles had found that the castle ghosts made better company than most of the castle’s humans. They had interesting stories and would sometimes tell her about her parents, but never compared her to them like every teacher at Hogwarts seemed to. Heracles had already received several invites to deathday parties, and Peeves the poltergeist left her alone because she was ‘the legacy of ol’ Prongsy’, whatever the hell that meant.

Once she reached the shelf with the book she needed on it, Heracles reached up to get it… only to have her hand blocked when another hand grabbed the book before she could. Heracles blinked in surprise at the occurrence.

“What the hell?”, she questioned. She then looked in the direction of the person who had grabbed the book, and was surprised to find not one buttwopeople there. Two people who looked exactly alike; same shaggy red hair, same lanky forms, same blue eyes, same pale skin with a few freckles. They were identical twins. They both grinned at her, and Heracles frowned sardonically as visions of sharp teeth, teal and black hair and mix-matched eyes flashed in her mind.

‘Pull yourself together Heracles, they don’t even look like Jade and Floyd.’, Heracles berated herself, feeling herself starting to get misty eyed as the memories flooded back. She soon snapped herself out of it, however, when the ginger twins leaned down to get a better look at her.

“Well well, what- “, the twin on the right started to say.

“-do we have here?”, the twin on the left finished. They tilted their heads in unison.

“A little snake that lost her way?”, they both asked at the same time. Heracles gave them a dry look.

‘They have the twin-speak thing down just as well as Jade and Floyd did, that’s for sure.’, the redhead thought, before giving the twins in front of her an annoyed look.

“I haven’t ‘lost my way’. I’m here to look for something. That book you have in your hand, actually. I need it.”, she told them, pointing to the thick potions book in the left twin’s hand. Both twins narrowed their eyes at her.

“And what makes you think- “, the right one started.

“-We’ll just give it to you?”, the left one finished.

Heracles contemplated her options. She could just go with her usual ‘give it to me or else I’ll beat the sh*t out of you’ method, but that was reserved for people who were antagonistic with her. The twins in front of her were teasing her, not being malicious. They were like a pair of children playing a game, despite seeming to be at least two years older than her. Heracles smirked at the boys.

“You make a fair point. If you won’t give me the book, then how about we make a deal for it?”, she offered, the gears in her brain churning as she channeled her inner Azul, something she was doing more often than not lately. The twins looked at her curiously.

“A deal?”, they asked in unison. Heracles nodded.

“Yes, a deal. You give me the book, and I help you do whatever it is you need the book to do. Does that sound amicable?”, she offered. The twins smirked and looked at each other.

“I don’t know, Gred. Can we trust a snake?”, the right twin asked. The left twin chuckled.

“I think we can trust this one, Forge. She so annoys ickle Ronniekins, after all. And the rest of her house hates her, so she can’t be all bad.”, the left twin responded. Both twins then looked at her with wide grins.

“Sounds like a fair trade!”, they chimed. Heracles’s smirk widened.

“So it’s a deal then?”, she asked, holding out her hand for them to shake. The left and right twin each took turns shaking her hand, and like that the deal was sealed. The twins handed her the book and Heracles started to flip through it.

“So, what were you boys planing to use this for?”, she asked.

“We were planning to use one of the potions in the book to create wet start fireworks. We think it’s called the water combustion potion.”, the right twin told her. Heracles nodded and started looking for a potion recipe with that name. Soon she found it, and she quickly surveyed the list of ingredients.

“Sounds easy enough to make, but you’ll need to boomslang skin, which is hard to get. Luckily, I have some in my personal potion stores. I’ll be willing to give you some for a small fee.”, Heracles told the boys. The left twin raised an eyebrow at her.

“What would an ickle firstie need boomslang skin for? Snape doesn’t use that in his classes until at least sixth year.”, the ginger said. Heracles snapped the potions book shut with a loud ‘clap’ and gave the twins an unamused look with a hand on her hip. She didn’t like people snooping in her business.

“Look boys, you have your hobbies and I have mine. I didn’t ask why on earth you would want to make fireworks, so you shouldn’t ask what I use my potion ingredients for. It’s called an unspoken agreement, something you Gryffindor’s clearly have no experience in.”, Heracles sassed. The twins laughed.

“So the little snakey has bite! Grown into your fangs already, have you?”, the left twin asked. Heracles grinned viciously at them.

“Oh honey, I never had to grow into them. They were always there, so remember them when you ask unsolicited questions. Now do you want this potion made or not?”, Heracles asked them. The right twin raised a cautious eyebrow.

“That depends. What’s your fee for the boomslang skin?”, the blue eyed boy asked her. Hercules gave a noncommittal shrug.

“Nothing much. Just a favor.”, she said vaguely. The left twin raised an eyebrow as well.

“What kind of favor?”, he inquired. Heracles chuckled darkly.

“The ‘no questions asked’ kind. I give you what you want, and when I ask for it, you give me what I want. It’s as simple as that. It won’t be anything ghastly, I assure you. Despite Slytherin’s less-than-reputable connotations, I’m no common criminal. I’m a businesswoman, plain and simple. And besides, we already shook on it. There’s no going back once the deal is done.”, Heracles inform the two. The twins looked at her apprehensively, before looking at each other and silently agreeing on something. They then returned their gazes to her and nodded.

“Alright, you’ll get your favor.”, the right twin said. Heracles grinned.

“Marvelous. And don’t look so anxious. I said I wouldn’t ask anything terrible of you. I’ll probably even go easier on you than I do with most since it’s your first time. You two are lucky I have a soft spot for identical twins.”, she told them, her eyes drifting off to a faraway place for a split second when she said her last sentence. Then her grin shrank to a small smile and she continued speaking before they noticed her dazed state.

“Meet me behind the Hufflepuff quidditch stands during next week’s game and I’ll give you the boomslang skin. I don’t want people to know I have it and start hounding me for ingredients. As interesting as that business venture may be, I have no interest in selling to people who show me nothing but contempt.”, Heracles told them, starting to feel suspiciously like she was organizing a drug deal. The twins looked at her oddly.

“Why behind the Hufflepuff quidditch stands?”, the right twin asked, wondering why it was those quidditch stands specifically. Heracles gave them a devious look.

“Because they’re all such goody-two shoes they won’t skip the game and witness our transaction. I’ll transcribe the rest of the potion recipe for you and give it to you then as well. I’ll be needing this book for a long time. Now that we’ve gotten the business out of the way, might I know the names of my first two clients?”, Heracles asked the boys. She had heard the odd nicknames they had used for each other, but hadn’t really been paying attention to what they could mean. The twins grinned and pointed at each other.

“Well, I’m Gred, and he’s Forge!”, the right twin said. The left twin shook his head.

“No, you fool!I’mGred andhe’sForge!”, the left twin told her. Heracles stared at the twins for a while, picking apart the small differences in their appearances and realizing what their names spelt when she moved the syllables around. If there was one thing she had learned from being friends with Jade and Floyd, it was how to tell identical twins apart. Then she nodded to herself.

“Righty’s George, lefty’s Fred. Got it. Pleasure doing business with you, gentleman. See you next week.”, she told the third years, and then she walked past them without a word. The twins, now known as Fred and George, watched her go with astonished expressions.

“How the bloody hell did she figure out who was who?”, Fred asked. Not even their own mother could tell them apart when they pulled the old switcheroo! George shook his head.

“Don’t know, but she sure as hell’s an interesting one.”, George said. Fred nodded.


“I’ll say. She was right; that snake reallywasborn with fangs.”

Chapter 9: Year One: Skipping Classes, Eavesdropping and Three-Headed Dogs

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The weeks passed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Heracles spent all her time with Neville, in her room or in her lab, making mirrors. The twins sometimes showed up to bother her or ask what she was doing, and she would give them a cryptic answer they never understood. She liked them well enough because of how they reminded her of Jade and Floyd, but she still didn’t trust them that much.

Heracles stopped going to classes after the first week. She already knew everything they were teaching and didn’t want to go through the hassle of skipping a grade. She still turned in her work and showed up for tests, getting flying colors each time, but she was never seen sitting in on a lecture. Neville, thankfully, didn’t require her help that much after the first week. People started treating him with more respect after Heracles punched Malfoy on his behalf, fearing his friend’s reaction if they didn’t. As a result, Neville became less nervous and was no longer a target for bullying. Even Snape was nicer to him and actually gave him points for doing well, unlike the other Gryffindors.

Heracles walked through one of the castle’s abandoned corridors, trying to reach her lab after leaving the Slytherin dorms. She had spent most of the day sleeping after working on a new mirror well into the night, only for it to fail. She was interrupted, however, when Snape appeared from around a corner.

“Miss Potter.”, he said in his usual slow drawl. Heracles stopped walking and eyed him warily.

“Snape. What can I do you for?”, she asked. She knew the potions master was looking for her. Why else would he come into a hall only she ever used. The man narrowed his eyes at her.

“A word.”, he said, and then he started walking away towards his office. Heracles took the hint and followed. Once they reached his office, the two entered the dark room. Snape took a seat behind his cluttered desk.

“What were you thinking?!”,he hissed dangerously. Heracles blinked in confusion.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”, she told him bluntly. Snape sneered at her.

“Your classes, Miss Potter! You haven’t shown up for a single one since the first week of term! The staff is in an uproar!”, the black haired man yelled, and Heracles realized what he was talking about.

“Oh, that. I don’t see how that’s a problem. I complete my work and show up for tests. My grades are perfect. I don’t understand why not showing up to class would get me in trouble.”, Heracles said. Snape’s anger grew.

“It is a problem because you are a student! You must go to class! It is part of being a student!”, Snape told her. Heracles glared at him, already tired of the confrontation.

“Part of being a student islearning.And in those classes, I’m not learning anything. I already know how to make things float. I already know how to turn matchsticks into needles and back again. I already know how to make the remedies you have Neville and the other first years make every day. I complete every assignment, provide proof that I can make every potion and do every spell required, and I don’t misbehave. By all accounts, I’m a model student who’s just bored of the lessons.”, Heracles reminded him, and Snape narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously.

“Yes, but I’m sure Mr. Malfoy would have much to say to contradict that.”, Snape told her, as if he had caught her red handed. Heracles snorted.

“That pompous little fool? And tell me, who’s he going to talk to? No one, that’s who. He’s to scared of me to do otherwise. Everyone is.”, Heracles said confidently. Malfoy was the least of her worries. Snape glared at her with disgust.

“So arrogant, just like your father.”, he remarked. Heracles glared back at him.

“And you’re so bitter, just like you were in your school days.”, she fired back, a smirk on her face. Snape looked at her in shock.

“How do you- ?”, he started to ask. Heracles chuckled darkly.

“Know about your Hogwarts days? Simple, Snape; I merelyasked.You’d be surprised what Peeves and the Bloody Baron had to say about you when I got them talking. I must say, you and my parents had quite the history. A bit petty holding a grudge against me for merely existing because my father and his friends bullied you in school, don’t you think?”, the redhead asked sarcastically. Snape’s face started to turn red.

“Silence yourself at once!”, he demanded. Heracles scoffed at the demand.

“Who are you to tell me what to do, my father? Oh that’s right, you wish.”, she bit back, and Snape went silent out of mortification and shock. How did the girl know he was in love with her mother? He has only ever told Dumbledore. Heracles sighed tiredly at the man’s obvious surprise.

“People have eyes, Snape. You followed the woman around like a lost puppy for five years until she dropped your ass like a bad habit when you called her a blood slur in front of all her friends. Everyone in the school knew you loved her, except for those idiots in Gryffindor. Or perhaps it was just the ghosts.”, Heracles explained, recalling that one chaotic afternoon where Idia had nearly gotten married to a ghost in the process of speaking about disastrous love affairs. Heracles had been forced to be the maid of honor, and despite not liking the woman’s actions in regards to finding a husband, had remained friends with Eliza after the incident. They were set to go out for tea over break before Heracles got taken. Snape continued to gape at her, and Heracles took that as a sign to keep talking.

“Look, I don’t care if you hated my father or were in love with my mother, just don’t take either of those sentiments out on me. I’m my own person. I’m not the boy who bullied you all throughout your school years, and I’m not the girl you fell in love with. I’m an eleven year old child. Treat me as you would any other student, and we’re fine.”, Heracles assured him. She may not have been overly fond of the man, but she wasn’t amonster.She would treat him with respect so long as he respected her. Snape slowly came out of his stupor and nodded at her.

“That… sounds agreeable.”, he said, and Heracles decided it was time for her to leave. She turned around and went to leave the office.

“Wait!”, Snape called out to her. Heracles stopped and turned around curiously. Snape gave her a soft look.

“Just know… you look just like your mother.”, he said. Heracles frowned.

“I know, but remember what I said. I’m not her. I’m not Lily.”, she told him, and Snape gave her the look of a person who knew loss and grief. It was a look she saw every time she looked in a mirror.

“I know.”

—---------------------------------------------------

The next week passed much like the first few; Heracles continued skipping classes, but this time Snape helped cover for her. He would sooth the other staff’s worries (more like complaints) about her, and tell them she was just ‘an unconventional learner’. Dumbledore still tried to call her into his office, but Heracles just kept hiding in the third floor corridor. She was actually on her way there one chilly Friday evening when she stumbled across the staff lounge. Heracles heard her name being mentioned, and now that she was curious, she decided to investigate. Putting all the sneaking skills she had learned from Ruggie to good use, Heracles cast a notice-me-not charm on herself and pressed her ear against the lounge’s door. She snickered when she realized she could hear everything with perfect clarity.

‘Those idiots. They didn’t even put a silencing charm up! Andtheseare England’s best and brightest witches and wizards? How did they even survive the war ten years ago?’, Heracles thought insultingly. Her respect for the Hogwarts staff tanked even further.

“-ridiculous! You can’t keep letting her do this, Severus! She has to go to class!”, McGonagall’s voice yelled in an affronted voice from behind the door. Heracles could hear Snape sigh.

“I’ve told you before Minerva, she already knows everything that you're teaching. She considers it a waste of time to attend classes she already knows everything about. And quite frankly, I’m in agreement. She’s already sent me a sample of every potion first years are required to know how to make by the end of term. They’re all perfect.”, Snape explained in a long-suffering voice. Sprout, the Herbology professor, chimed in next.

“Yes, and she’s already cultivated all the plants required of my first years, and it’s not even the end of the first month! The plants are all in perfect condition, even better than my own! I’m honestly considering submitting the girl’s cultivating methods to the Board of Herbology at the Ministry. They might help up us produce better plants for potion ingredients. I know you’d like that, Severus.”, Sprout told the potions teacher. Heracles could almost sense Snape nodding.

“Yes, but don’t neglect to tell Miss Potter of your plans to submit her methods and notes to the Ministry. She doesn’t like it when people use her things without her permission.”, Snape warned the plump woman. McGonagall made a noise of frustration

“Would you both stop talking about plants?! She’s a student, and students go to class! If she’s so bored, then she can move up a grade! What exactly is she doing all day that’s so important, anyway?”, McGonagall exclaimed, getting the topic of the conversation back on track. Heracles froze at the woman’s question. She didn’t want people knowing what she was doing in her laboratory, not now and not ever. It could be deemed ‘too dangerous’ by the government and all her research could be destroyed. The staff couldn’t know what she was doing.

“She doesn’t deem the paperwork to move up a year worth the trouble, Minerva. And as for what she’s doing, I don’t know. She’s likely conducting private research on topics of personal interest to her in her dormitory. She has the whole room to herself, since the female Slytherins in her year refuse to room with her.”, Snape told McGonagall. Sinistra, the Ancient Runes teacher, sighed melancholically.

“Poor girl, she must be so lonely. No one in her house wants to be friends with her, and everyone in her year doesn’t seem to like her for some reason. The only friend she has is that Longbottom boy. Neville, wasn’t it? Frank and Alice’s son?”, the woman questioned. Heracles scowled at the woman’s words. She didn’t need anyone’s pity, least of all the pity of someone she had never actually talked to. Heracles ignored howutterly trueSinistra’s words were.

“Yes. It’s a shame what happened to them. Frank and Alice were good Gryffindors, good students. He’s a sweet boy, that Neville. I don’t understand why he spends all his time with that Potter girl, though. I went to give her her Hogwarts letter in person, to meet Lily and James’s daughter for myself, and she was the angriest little thing I had ever seen. I’m almost glad she isn’t in my house.”, McGonagall said, and Heracles glared at the door.

‘I’m glad I’m not in your house either, bitch.’, the girl thought. Sprout gasped.

“Minerva!”, the woman exclaimed, but McGonagall didn’t take back her words.

“It’s true. Why Albus seems so keen on meeting her, I will never know. But that’s neither here nor there. Just make sure she goes to class, Severus. I’ll fail her if she doesn’t start showing up. You know I will.”, McGonagall warned the potions master, and Heracles glared at the door even harder.

‘I’d like to see you try, you old hag. I’ll take you to court and sue you for all you’ve got.’, Heracles thought acidically. She had found an all star lawyer in the form of Edgar Bones, a cousin of Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, through Ragnok’s recommendation. He was dealing with her non-consensual publication lawsuits, which would hopefully be settled by Christmas. Snape spoke up again/

“I will try, Minerva.”, Snape said, which was a total lie. He hadn’t tried to make Heracles go to class even once. Then someone else from behind the door spoke.

“W-well no matter what, y-you can’t deny the girl is pr-prodigy, Minerva. Per-perhaps an even greater one than P-professor Dumbledore.”, a voice said in Quirrel’s familiar stutter.

Heracles didn’t like Quirrel for numerous reasons. He was annoying, overly dramatic and scared of his own shadow. Heracles understood that not all people were paragons of bravery, but screaming like a banshee everytime something suddenly moves is ridiculous, especially for someone who was supposed to teach people to defend themselves. It didn’t help that the man had an aura around him that felt awful to Heracles, like an Overblot but worse. It went unsaid that Defense Against the Dark Arts was one of, if not her least favorite class. McGonagall scoffed.

“I wouldn’t go that far… “, the woman trailed off, unwilling to believe in the power of her least favorite Slytherin. Heracles chuckled darkly.

‘Oh, if only you knew… ‘

Heracles had learned over the weeks that Twisted Wonderland magic wasso much more powerfulthan earth magic. People like Leona could turn entire cities to sand, but witches and wizards needed sticks to cast blasting spells that couldn’t destroy anything outside of a ten meter radius. Malleus could curse an entire kingdom, but most people could barely curse one person. And Heracles… Well, Heracles had learned everything from the best Night Raven College had to offer.Everything.She could put someone in an enchanted sleep for all eternity if she tried hard enough, and knew more poisons than even Snape. One day, someone on earth was going to make the mistake of underestimating her, and the results were going to bespectacular.

“Well whatever you think of the girl, you can’t deny that she’s an odd one. You can never tell what’s going through her head.”, Flitwick said, speaking up for the first time since the conversation about Heracles had started.

“Agreed.”, McGonagall, Snape and Sprout said in unison. Heracles scowled and started walking away from the door. She had heard enough.

‘That’s right, you don’t know what’s going on in my head, and you never will. None of you pathetic farces of mages ever will.’, Heracles thought bitterly as she left for her lab. No one would ever truly know her. Not McGonagall, not Snape, not even Neville. Onlytheywould know her, her friends from Twisted Wonderland.

Only they would ever truly understand her. Only her boys would ever really know her, and Heracles intended to keep things that way.

—--------------------------------------------------

As Heracles approached her lab in the third floor corridor, she heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like something large shifting its weight from behind one of the doors. Slowly stopping her trek, Heracles turned around and approached the old, wooden door with caution. She reached for the handle, only to discover the door was unsurprisingly locked. Heracles huffed.

‘Well that’s just great. Seems I’ll need a spell to unlock it.’, the girl thought.There were multiple unlocking spells, each for locks with different levels of security. She didn’t know which one would be needed to unlock the door, since it probably had several enchantments on it, so she would just have to cycle through spells until she used the right one. She frowned and flicked her wrist at the lock.

“Alohom*ora.”, Heracles said, not expecting the spell to work. It was a very basic one, after all. Toddlers could use it if they tried hard enough. To her utter surprise, however, the lock mechanism clicked and the door opened a crack. Heracles stared at the door in disbelief and slight frustration.

“You have got to be kidding me. Do not tell me that this door, which clearly has something important and probably dangerous behind it, just unlocked because of a spell from a first year’s book. A spell that literalfive year oldscould learn if they tried hard enough?”, Heracles grumbled to herself, thoroughly tired of Hogwarts’s incompetence. But she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and opened the door even more to enter the room behind it.

“If this is what is supposed to cause me to have a ‘most painful death’ like Dumbledore said and I end up getting injured because of this thing, Iwillbe suing.”, Heracles mumbled to herself. Once she fully entered the room, she was greeted by six pairs of big, brown eyes.

“Oh. Hello.”, Heracles told the very big creature she had just come into contact with. The creature, whose exact features she couldn’t make out in the darkness, stared at her unblinkingly. Heracles remained perfectly calm. The creature in front of her wasn’t openly hostile, and the ink monster from that one time she went to the Dwarf Mines waswayscarier. Heracles took out her magic pen and raised it high.

“Lumos.”, she said. She had found that most spells for wands worked with magic pens as well, which had made her very happy, because now she didn’t have to use her wand and could spite Olivander all she liked.

Heracles resisted the urge to gasp as she came face to face with a large, brown, three-headed dog. The dog stared at her with innocent curiosity, and upon seeing the canine’s lack of hostility, Heracles slowly moved closer to it without fear.

“Hello there, friend. What’s someone like you doing in a dark, decrepit place like this?”, Heracles asked the dog. She hoped that normal dog language translated over to three-headed dog language. Thankfully, she soon found that it did.

“Big man put us in here.”, the dog’s middle head said with a bark. Heracles tilted her head.

“Big man?”, she questioned. The right head spoke up next.

“Hagrid.”,the right head elaborated. Heracles looked at the animal in bewilderment.

“Hagrid? Why on earth would he put you here? This place is horrible!”, she asked, and the roomwashorrible. It hadn’t been cleaned like her lab had, and it was covered in cobwebs and dust. The left head spoke up.

“We’re supposed to guard something. The Philosopher’s Stone.”,the left head told her. Heracles became even more confused.

“The Philosopher’s… of course.”, she started to say in surprise, but her surprise soon turned into unsurprised disappointment and she scowled.

Over the weeks since school had started, a rumor had floated around that Nicholas Flammel had sent his precious Philosopher’s Stone, the source of his eternal life, away for safekeeping. Dark forces had been attempting to steal it for some reason or another, and Heracles assumed Flammel was either trying to protect the stone for the good of wizard kind or had gotten tired of people constantly trying to break into his house and steal his magic rock.

Of coursewith her luck, the stone had been sent to Hogwarts for protection. Andof course,it had been sent the year she would start going to school there. Heracles cursed under her breath in German.

‘Great. Just great. And I bet that trapdoor under the dog leads to where it’s hidden. Fan-f*cking-tastic. This is just what I needed, a magic mcguffin rock right next door to my top secret lab. And I bet whoever’s been trying to steal this thing won’t stop just because the rock’s been moved. f*ck me sideways.’, Heracles thought. She was going to need to plan accordingly if someone came looking for the stone. It was too close to her research for her not to take precautions. If someone stumbled across her lab… Well, she didn’t want to think about what might happen.

Heracles started to pace. She needed a safeguard for her lab, in case a thief or any of the staff stumbled across it. She needed a guard dog. Looking at the three headed-dog in front of her, his chained collar and his poor living conditions, she gave him a serious look.

“Alright look, I’ve got important research going on in one of the rooms down the hall. I know you don’t like being cooped up in here all the time, and I know you don’t like being hereperiod.So how about we make a deal; I let you out of here and give you the freedom to roam the corridor at your leisure, and protect both the stone and my laboratory. I’ll also bring you weekly steaks and take you for weekend walks in the Forbidden Forest. My only rules are no going into the main parts of the castle where all the people are, and no using the trees in the forest as sticks for fetch. People will notice they’re missing and get curious.”, Heracles offered. It would be easier for her to just put the three-headed dog on double duty than to find a dog of her own. Plus it gave the creature some well-deserved freedom. All three heads barked.

“Deal!”,they chorused. Heracles grinned.

“Excellent. Now, remember to be in here when the person in charge of you comes to make sure you're still here- HEY!”, Heracles started to say, only to cut herself off when the dog’s middle head gave a big wet lick to the side of her face. Heracles grimaced at the sensation, but didn’t scold the dog, who looked very happy with himself and her.

“I get the feeling this is going to be a recurring situation.”, she said to herself. The middle head barked.

“It will!”,the head confirmed. Heracles snorted.

“Wonderful. Since you’re my new guard dog, do you mind telling me your name? I can’t very well go around calling you ‘dog’, now can I?”, she asked.

“Fluffy!”,the dog said. Heracles blinked.

“Fluffy? That doesn’t suit you at all. How about I name you something different?”, Heracles offered, before moving closer to the dog. She took his middle head into her arms and looked deep into his brown eyes. He was adorable, if a bit dangerous, and eager to please. He was a three-headed dog, which had origins in Greek mythology. He reminded her of a friend of hers from Twisted Wonderland.

“How about Ortho?”, Heracles pitched.

Back in Twisted Wonderland, she and Ortho Shroud had been good friends. He had been the person closest to her age at school, so they had become relatively close. Heracles still spent more time with Ace, Deuce and Grimm, and Ortho was almost always with his brother at his dorm, but they hung out and played video games on the weekends. Heracles liked to think they were relatively close, and felt like honoring him by naming her new guard dog after him, especially since said dog had mythological origins in the story of Ignihyde’s founder. Fluffy, now renamed Ortho, barked in agreement.

“Yes, I like that name!”,he said. Heracles smiled.

“Good.”, she said, and then tiredness hit her like a pile of bricks. It seemed the Pepper-up potions she had been taking had worn off. Heracles had been neglecting sleep in favor of research for the past few days, and it was starting to catch up with her. The girl yawned.

“Well Ortho, I think it’s time for me to- WHAT, HEY!“, she started to say as she walked towards the door, only to scream in shock when Ortho grabbed her by the hood of her new black jacket and tugged her back. The dog sat her down beside his warm, soft body.

“You’re not leaving. You stay here.”,Ortho told her. He could sense that his new master was tired, and that she was troubled. He knew that didn’t make a good remedy for sleep, so he thought that by keeping her with him she would be more likely to get some sleep. Heracles huffed in frustration and glared at Ortho.

“Ortho, I need to go back to my dorm! People will get suspicious if I don’t!”, Heracles told the creature, even though her words were a lie. She had spent several nights in her lab and no one had asked any questions, which was mildly disconcerting but unsurprising given the fact that no one in Slytherin really liked her. Ortho didn’t budge.

“No. You stay.”,he insisted. Heracles sighed in resignation and leaned into the dog’s warmth.

‘First it was Grimm, then it was Malleus, now it’s this guy. What am I? Catnip for magical creatures?’, Heracles questioned, before pulling something out of her jacket pocket. It was a golden shell attached to a black fabric choker. It was a magic shell capable of holding and recording voices. It had been a birthday gift from Azul.

“Alright fine, I’ll stay. But I’m playing some music to help me sleep.”, Heracles stipulated. She channeled some of her magic into the shell, and it glowed golden. Seconds later, a soothing male voice floated out of the object.

Farewell to all the earthly remains~

No burdens, no further debts to be paid~

Atlas can rest his weary bones~

The weight of the world~

All falls away in time~

Heracles sighed in contentment as Idia’s deep, soothing voice filled the dirty room. The song was a lullaby he once sang to her and his brother after he thought they fell asleep in his bed after playing video games. Heracles had secretly been awake, however, and had heard the entire song. She had asked Idia to sing it for her again multiple times because she thought it was beautiful, but Idia never complied because he thought his voice was cringy.

In the end, Heracles only ever got him to sing it once; the day before she was taken away. It was an ‘end of school’ gift from Idia, and she was never more thankful that he let her record his voice on the shell Azul gave her. The lullaby, despite its dark themes of death, had gotten her through many restless nights after her arrival on earth. Idia’s voice and the familiar lyrics soothed her, and apparently they soothed Ortho the dog as well, because all three pairs of his eyes started to flutter closed. Heracles curled up into him and closed her own eyes, letting sleep take hold as she lost herself to the lullaby. She could almost feel Idia running his hand through her hair affectionately as she fell asleep. The song the memories it aroused made tears run down Heracles’s face, even as she faded off to sleep.

Good riddance to all the thieves~

To all the fools that stifled me~

They’ve come and gone and passed me by~

Good riddance to all~!

Notes:

Sorry not a lot happened in this chapter, I had to establish some stuff. Expect Heracles to be even sassier than Harry was in the books. Heracles will probably still have to deal with Quirrell and the Philosopher's stone, but it honestly won't be that big of a deal for a while. Next time, memories from Twisted Wonderland!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 10: Interlude: Heartslabyul

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles sat underneath a tree outside of the Ramshackle dorm, a green notebook in her hands. She was drawing pictures of all her friends as a farewell gift to them. She wouldn’t be seeing them for a few weeks at least and wanted to give them a little something to celebrate the end of exams. She would have bought them something, but she didn’t have any money and didn’t feel quite right asking Professor Crewel for money, even though he had made his plans to adopt her and take her home with him very clear, and she knew he would give her the money without question. Heracles jolted a little as two hands suddenly covered her eyes.

“Guess who~?”, a familiar voice asked teasingly. Heracles gasped and giggled.

“Ace!”, she cheered. Ace laughed and removed his hands, revealing his and Deuce’s grinning faces.

“The one and only! Sup Prefect! Oh, and Juice is here too.”, Ace responded, looking slyly at Deuce out of the corner of his eyes. Deuce rolled his eyes at his friend’s antics.

“How many times do I have to tell you, it’s Deuce! DEUCE! You’d think after fighting like five Overblots together, you’d remember that dude.”, Deuce complained with a pout. Ace and Heracles both laughed.

“Oh, I remember. I just like Juice better.”, Ace said with a smirk, and the pair then devolved into their usual good-natured bickering. Heracles wasn’t concerned by it. Ever since they became friends after the incident at the Dwarf Mines, bickering had become the pair’s typical dynamic. As they took verbal jabs at each other, Grimm hovered over to Heracles and landed on her shoulder.

“I’m here too, ya know!”, the cat-like creature grumbled. Heracles giggled at her familiar.

“Hello to you too, Grimm.”, she said, and Grimm preened under her acknowledgement, before looking at Ace and Deuce and glaring at them.

“Hey, henchmen! You’re forgetting what we came here for in the first place!”, Grimm yelled at the pair. The two Heartslabyul students stopped bickering and looked at him in realization.

“Oh yeah! We did forget!”, Deuce said, smacking his own head in reprimand. To everyone around him, it was clearly a bit. He then looked at Ace, and the two partners in crime smirked knowingly at each other. Heracles blinked at them in confusion.

“Forgot what?”, she asked. Ace, Deuce and Grimm all smirked at her.

“Meet us at the Heartslabyul dorm in an hour.”, Ace told her. Heracles tilted her head.

“Why?”, she asked. Ace chuckled.

“It’s a surprise~.”, he purred, and then all three of Heracles’s friends left abruptly. Heracles watched them go curiously, before shrugging and sitting back down to work on her drawings. She was thankful none of the trio had seen her surprise for them

‘Oh well.’, Heracles thought as she picked her pencil back up and got to work.

‘I guess I’ll find out what the surprise is all about when I go see the guys later. Knowing Riddle though, it won’t be anything too big.’

—------------------------------------------------------

“SURPRISE!”, Heracles heard the entirety of Heartslabyul scream in a shower of red and white confetti as she walked into the entrance of the rose maze.

Heracles had arrived at the dorm, only to find the building itself completely empty. She had gotten worried and went to search the rose maze for her friends, only to be greeted by the sight of a party even greater than the annual Unbirthday Party. The roses on the bushes were painted red, everyone was in their finest uniform, and there were cakes and food piled high on every table. Above it all, there was a banner tied to two trees that read ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERA!’, in big, red letters. Heracle gaped at the scene before her.

“I-what’s all this?”, she stuttered. She squealed in surprise as Cater walked up behind her and hoisted her onto his shoulder for everyone to see.

“It’s your birthday party, silly!”, the orange haired boy told her cheerfully. Heracles giggled at the gesture, but still looked at all the smiling, happy faces of the Heartslabyul students with confusion.

“But I never told you all when my birthday was… and my birthday isn’t even for another week… “, Heracles trailed off uncertainly. The only people who knew her birthday were the staff because they had access to her personal information via files, and even then it was only July 24th. Her actual birthday was on the 31st. Trey, who had walked up beside Cater at some point, chuckled at her words.

“Yeah, we know. Crewel told us.”, the green haired third year informed her. Heracles sighed.

“Of course he did.”, she muttered. Of course Crewel would tell the boys when her birthday was so they could give her the big party he probably thought she deserved. She had been fine with the prospect of just going out to a nice dinner with her new father once the break had started, but this was just as amazing. A familiar, regal voice with an accent similar to her own laughed.

“I must say, we expected you to be a bit more excited about this, Little Alice. It’s a party just for you, after all.”, Riddle told her, an amused smile on his face as his small form appeared from the crowd of Heartslabyul students, Ace and Deuce at his side. Heracles smiled at him.

“I am excited, don’t get me wrong Riddle. I just wasn’t expecting… all this.”, Heracles trailed off as she looked around at the grand party before her. She wasn’t used to people doing big things like this for her. It made her a little uncomfortable to see people going so out of their way for her. Riddle noticed this and gave her a reassuring look.

“I know, but you deserve this. You’ve helped me and all of Heartslabyul essentially all year. It’s the least we can do for the girl that’s been here for us through it all.”, Riddle explained to her, clearly referencing his Overblot. Heracles gave the boy an understanding smile.

“I told you, you don’t need to thank me. I helped you guys because I care about you. You guys being my friends is all the payment I need.”, Heracles told him. Ace laughed.

“Yeah, we know. But you’re still getting a party anyway.”, the orange eyed boy said. Heracles crossed her arms and fake pouted, which caused everyone to chuckle.

“And expect more parties over the next few days, by the way.”, Cater said with a wink. Heracles looked at him suspiciously.

“What do you mean by that?”, she asked apprehensive. Trey laughed nervously and rubbed the back of his head.

“We may or may not have gotten permission from Crewel to throw you a party only on the condition that we tell the other dorms when your birthday was and let them each throw you their own special parties. They’ll be happening over the course of the next six days.”, Trey explained. Heracles looked at him in shock.

“Guys! That is way too much! I really don’t need all this, one party is just fine!”, Heracles protested. Riddle smirked.

“Too late. I’ve already told the other dorm leaders. Savanaclaw’s party is tomorrow afternoon. Bring a Magical Shift disc and a water bottle.”, Riddle revealed, slightly smug that he had gotten one over on the girl that had beat him in his Overblot form with nothing but a disarming spell and Cater’s shoe (getting nailed in the face by a hightop was not pleasant, even if he did deserve it). Heracles gasped dramatically and pointed at him.

“Dishonor on you, and dishonor on your cow!”, she yelled jokingly. Riddle laughed at the insult he would have collared the girl for at the start of the year. One thing being friends with Heracles had done to him was manage to make him loosen up. He could take a joke now, and could even dish them back out with ease

“Hey now, no need to bring Rosenburg into this. Just accept our gratitude and enjoy the party”, Riddle refuted, knowing the ‘cow’ part of the insult meant his horse at the equestrian club, Rosenberg. Heracles looked a bit hesitant when he said his last sentence.

“But- “, the green eyed child started to say. Grim, who had been sitting on Trey’s shoulder, grinned at Heracles and cut her off.

“Oi, human! It’s your birthday! You only turn eleven once, so shut up and enjoy this!”, Grim told her. Several Heartslabyul students cheered in agreement. Heracles still didn’t look ready to listen.

“But I- “, Heracles tried to say again, Cater decided it was time to cut in.

“Alright guys, no more talking! It’s a special occasion! We should be celebrating!”, Cater said with a wide smile. Heartslabyul cheered ‘yeah!’s in agreement, and Heracles grinned widely. She really did love her schoolmates. Cater brought Heracles face close to his and he took out his phone.

“Say cheese, prefect!”, Cater said. Heracles giggled and gave a toothy smile that matched Cater’s as camera shudders sounded. Once the picture was taken, Cater handed Heracles off to Trey, who placed her on his own shoulder and went to stand beside Riddle. Riddle spread his arms out widely towards the crowd, a large smile on his face.

“Let the party for our favorite girl begin!”, the redheaded boy announced, and everyone cheered.

—--------------------------------------------------

“I still don’t understand why I have to wear all this.”, Heracles said as Ace and Deuce helped stuff her into the traditional Heartslabyul uniform vest, while Cater painted a red heart on the side of her face with makeup. They were in a secluded part of the rose maze, getting her ready in private while Riddle organized the croquet game. Trey, who was standing behind her and holding the rest of her Heartslabyul uniform, chuckled.

“It’s tradition. If a dorm throws you a party, you should wear their uniform. You should be proud. We had this specially made for you, you know.”, Trey told her as he helped her into the uniform jacket. Heracles looked at him in confusion.

“But who made-... Crewel.”, Heracles started to ask, only to trail off her question dryly when she realized her father figure was behind her current situation and outfit, like he was with the rest of her birthday shenanigans it would seem. Cater laughed.

“Yep! Perceptive as always, prefect!”, Cater complimented. Then he frowned as he noticed something missing from Heracles’s uniform.

“Hey! Where’s the rose?”, the green eyed third year said, noticing that Heracles’s jacket lapel had no rose in it. A hand reached over from behind one of the rose bushes, holding a red painted rose.

“Over here!”, a first year called out. Cater reached over and took from his hand without a word, before crouching down in front of Heracles and placing the rose on her right lapel.

“There! All done! Aw, you look so cute! Like a mini Riddle, but less uptight!”, Cater said happily as he clapped his hands like a proud mother gushing over her child. Riddle, who had just walked up behind Cater, looked down at his friend with a cold look.

“‘Like me, but less uptight’, hmm Cater?”, Riddle questioned. For all his efforts to loosen up over the past months, Riddle was still Riddle. Cater froze in terror and began to sweat.

“Riddle, I- “, Cater started to say, not turning around to look at Riddle in fear of his reaction. Riddle, however, had stopped looking angry and was now smiling at Heracles.

“He is right, though. You look adorable. Though, there is one thing missing.”, Riddle said, and he took off his cape and placed it around Heracles’s shoulders. Heracles looked up at Riddle in surprise.

“I- “, she started to say, but Riddle cut her off by placing a finger gently on her lips and giving her a soft smile.

“Don’t say a word. You deserve it more than I do.”, he said, and then he took Heracles by the hand and led her back to where the party was, Trey and the others following behind.

“Now come one. Everyone is awaiting your arrival.”, Riddle told her, and he was right. Everyone cheered at her arrival as Heracles re-entered the party

“Three cheers for the Red Queen of Heartslabyul!”, a third year yelled, and the cheering got louder. Heracles blushed at the title. She hadn’t heard anyone call her that before. Ace walked closer to her and bowed at the waist, holding a flamingo in a mallet position out to her.

“For you, your highness. The traditional birthday croquet game is going to start soon. All we need is your word.”, the ginger boy said with a teasing wink. Heracles smiled at him and took the flamingo, who was looking at her with eager eyes. Heracles looked out at the crowd, who was looking at her in anticipation, with a grin and held up her flamingo like a scepter. She really did feel like a queen.

“Let the croquet game begin!”, she announced, and everyone cheered once more.

—------------------------------------------------------

“Another point to the Red Queen!”, a second year called out as a red hedgehog with a yellow crown painted on his back rolled through a wicket, despite having been hit in a very different direction from the one he was rolling in. Heracles and her five Heartslabyul friends were playing against each other, though Heracles was the only one with any points for… slightly unlawful reasons. Heracles giggled as everyone in the dorm applauded her.

“Thank you, thank you!”, she responded earnestly to people’s shouted praise, and everyone gushed internally over how cute the Ramshackle prefect was. Ace, who was standing off to the side with his own flamingo mallet, pouted dramatically.

“You know, I’m almost mad that she keeps wining because the hedgehogs keep changing direction. None of us have scored a single point!”, the ginger first year exclaimed. Trey gave him an understanding smile.

“Don’t hold it against her. You know the animals have minds of their own. It’s not her fault they all like her enough to rig every game she plays in her favor.”, the yellow eyed third year soothed. Riddle nodded in agreement from his place in his usual throne-like chair.

“Indeed. It’s her birthday, after all. Let the animals spoil her. She deserves it.”, Riddle agreed, and Ace and all the others nodded in agreement. Deuce left their sides and went to go take his shot, his blue hedgehog rolling in the direction of a blue wicket… only for the animal to suddenly change directions, avoid the wicket and hit a bush instead. Deuce walked over to the rodent and scowled at him.

“Really?”, he asked the animal sarcastically, a bit annoyed at his continued show of favortisim towards Heracles. The hedgehog squeaked in response. The third year referee spoke up.

“No point to Spade! It’s official, the Red Queen wins!”, the third year called out.

Everyone cheered, and all the flamingos and hedgehogs got up and crowded around Heracles. Heracles laughed joyfully at the animals as they climbed onto her for cuddles, and Trey went over to her, picked her up and placed her on Riddle’s chair after he got up from it.

“Your throne awaits, my queen!”, Trey told Heracles as he carried her. Heracles gasped at the sight of Riddle’s special chair.

“Guys, this is too much! Isn’t the party already enough?”, the green eyed girl asked. Cater shook his head and walked over to the side of the chair as Trey gently placed Heracles in it.

“For our beloved prefect? Absolutely not!”, Cater told her. He then leaned close to Heracles with Trey and snapped a picture. Heracles sighed at her friend’s insistence.

“You guys are too much… “, she muttered in exasperation, but there was a fond smile on her face. Cater laughed.

“We know, but you love us anyway!”, he chirped. Heracles giggled.

Riddle and all the other Heartslabyul students watched happily as all the flamingos and hedgehogs cuddled around the Ramshackle prefect. Grimm, who had been sitting on Ace’s shoulder while he waited for his human to finish her game, flew over to the pile of animals with a smug grin on his face.

“Out of my way, you plebs! Hera was the great Grimm’s master first, and therefore he has the first right to cuddles!”, the gray furred creature said. Grimm then plopped down onto Heracles’s lap, upsetting a few hedgehogs in the process by taking their spot and hitting them with his poofy, Heartslabyul themed bow. Angry squeaks could be heard, and Heracles’s laughed at her familiar’s antics.

“Grimm, play nice!”, she scolded gently. Grimm just gave her a proud look and loafed in her lap. Cater chuckled and pulled out his phone.

“So cute.”, he said as he took a picture. Trey, who was beside him, nodded in agreement as he stared at the pet heaven Heracles had managed to find herself in.

“Agreed.”, the green haired young man said. Ace raised an eyebrow at them.

“Are you talking about Heracles or the animals?”, he asked. Cater and Trey smiled at him.

“Both.”, they said in unison. Riddle took a seat on the right armrest of his throne and smiled down at the happy girl in the chair.

“Having fun?”, the gray eyed boy asked her with a raised eyebrow. Heracles nodded.

“Yes!”, she answered enthusiastically. Riddle laughed.

“Good. Once you’re done gracing the animals with your attention, you can open your presents. Then the birthday feast will begin. Trey made you cake. It’s a grand one. Your favorite flavor too.”, Riddle told her. Heracles grinned at him as she held several happy hedgehogs in her hands.

“I can’t wait!”, she said. Riddle gave her a soft look. He loved seeing that smile on the child’s face. He knew he would do anything to protect it.

“Good.”

—----------------------------------------------------

“Happy birthday to you~! Happy birthday to you~! Happy birthday dear Hera~! Happy birthday to you~!”, all of Heartslabyul sang. It had gotten late, and the garden was now lit by table lamps and fairy lights. Dinner had already been eaten, and it was now time for dessert. Heracles sat in Riddle’s usual seat at the feast table, a large three-tiered cake decorated with card motifs in front of her with eleven lit red candles and countless sparklers on top. Grimm was in her lap, and her five Heartslabyul friends were standing behind her. Riddle leaned down to whisper something in her ear.

“Smile and make a wish!”, he told her. And she did just that. Heracles blew out all the candles, and everyone cheered and clapped. Faintly, she heard the clicking of a camera in the crowd. As she watched smoke waft from the extinguished flames, Heracles only had on desperate thought;

‘I wish things would never change.’

“Alright, Hera! What did you wish for?”, Deuce cheered. Heracles winked at him.

“It’s a secret. If I tell you my wish, then it won’t come true.”, she said, and everyone chuckled. Cater clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“Okay everyone, back to your seats! You’ll get cake after the birthday girl eats!”, the orange haired young man said. Everyone went back to their tables without complaint, and Trey started to cut Heracles a slice of the red velvet cake he had made. As he did this, Riddle kneeled down beside Heracles’s seat and pulled a small black box out of his jacket pocket.

“I know I should have given you this with your other gifts, but I wanted it to be special.”, Riddle told her quietly. Heracles watched with curiosity as he opened the box, revealing what was inside. The girl gasped.

“I-Riddle- “, she said in disbelief. There, in the red satin lined box, was a Heartslabyul armband. Riddle gave her a soft smile.

“I know, but you deserve it. You deserve everything in the world, Hera. The Dark Mirror said you were suited for all dorms. That and everything you’ve done for us all… that’s more than enough for you to be considered one of us.”, Riddle told her. Heracles continued to stare at the armband with wide eyes.

“I can’t accept this.”, she told him. Even after everything that had happened, she didn’t feel worthy. She didn’t feel worthy of admiration, or love or praise. The matrons at the orphanage made sure she knew she was worthless. Riddle gave her a stern look.

“You can and you will, by my decree. You know I don’t go back on my decrees, little Alice.”, Riddle told her. Heracles sighed reluctantly and nodded.

“If you insist… “, she relented. Riddle smiled at her and fastened the armband around her bicep. The dorm leader admired his work.

“There. Now you really are the Red Queen of Heartslabyul.”, he told her, before bowing his head to the stunned girl in front of him.

“I know that we didn’t have the best start, what with everything that happened with my Overblot and the events leading up to that, but over these past months you’ve been the best friend I could ever ask for. For your kindness, I will spend the rest of my life making up for what I did. I wish you a very merry birthday… my little Alice.”, Riddle told her emotionally, before taking Heracles’s hand and placing a gentle kiss on it. As this happened under the light of the crescent moon, Heracles only had one thought.

‘These guys… they really do care about me.’, the girl fully realized. She knew her friends cared about her, but seeing it and thinking it were two different things. Desperately, another thought filled Heracles’s head.

‘By the seven and all the gods… Please… Please don’t let anything change.’

—-----------------------------------------------------

Heracles woke up with tears trailing down her face and the sounds of a snoring dog filling her ears. The red haired girl stared up at the cobweb covered ceiling of the room she was in with dull sorrow.

‘It was a dream. Of course it was.’

Heracles sat up and wiped her wet eyes on the sleeves of her jacket. Thankfully, Ortho the three-headed dog didn’t wake up because of her movements. Heracles reached for her magic shell, which had fallen from her hands and had stopped playing music sometime during the night. After picking the item up, she stared at the shell sadly. It was a reminder of where she was, that the voices that came from it weren’t real. They were just imitations of the people she had lost

‘It was all just a dream.’

Heracles stuffed the shell into her jacket pocket and stood up, careful not to wake up Ortho as she did so. She ran her hands down her tired face, too sullen for any eleven year old to have, and made her way towards the door. She wasn’t getting back to sleep after that dream she had. She might as well make herself useful and start on her next mirror prototype. Opening the door with a quiet ‘creak’, Heracles banished the memory of the last time she truly spent time with her Heartslabyul friends to the back of her mind.

‘Note to self, start brewing Dreamless Sleep potions tomorrow. I won’t get any sleep at all if I don’t stop having these dreams.’, Heracles thought coldly. Memories were doing her no good right now. They were part of the reason she was getting so little sleep, and lack of sleep led to mistakes. She couldn’t afford mistakes in her research.

Heracles walked to her lab looking disheveled, her long red hair tangled and a mess from sleep, her eyes red from tiredness and crying. She looked more like a specter than a little girl. As she walked, memories of her Heartslabyul party filled her mind despite her best efforts to ignore them. Bitterly, she snorted at the memory of her smiling friends faces, seeming to taunt her and her inability to justgo home already.Heracles ran a hand through her tangled hair. Seven and all the gods, she really was a mess. As she approached her lab door, one grief-filled, bitter thought ran through her head.

‘A very merry birthday to me, indeed.’

Notes:

Wow, this chapter laid the feels on thicc. Yes, the interludes will become a regular thing. There will likely be six more, one for each NRC dorm and their party. They're meant to give you all deeper look into Heracles's life at NRC, how she acted and her relationships with the boys. They'll likely keep coming in the form of dreams or flashbacks. Next time, Halloween and trolls!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 11: Year One: Loneliness, Halloween, and Trolls

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles huffed in anger and frustration as she walked through the corridors towards the Slytherin dorm, her hair and clothes spotted black with soot. People pointed at her and whispered about what strange things the Girl-Who-Lived was apparently doing now, but Heracles did her best to ignore them, even as their lies started to get to her in a frazzled state.

“Look, there she is. Heracles Potter.”

“What has she done now?”

“Probably nothing good, the slimy snake.”

Heracles snarled at the boy who called her a slimy snake, some random Hufflepuff first year boy, and the boy jumped away from her in terror. Heracles glared at him one last time before she kept walking, trying her best to calm herself down. She couldn’t let her anger control her.

‘Breath Diamond, Breath. You know what happens when you get upset.’,Jamil’s voice soothed in her mind. Heracles took a few deep breaths as she kept walking, grateful that Neville was in class for the next few minutes and everyone else she actually talked to was busy. She didn’t want them to see her like this.

‘How the f*ck did things get this bad?’, Heracles thought in frustration.

She had been trying to make another mirror work. It had been the fourth one she made since she started school. She had been so close,so closeto making it work. She had seen a figure in it! Someone had been behind the glass! But she hadn’t even had the chance to reach out for them, because the mirror blew up in a puff of smoke. The spell matrix she used had caused the glass to combust, just like it had with the other three mirrors she had made. She had been so close, and everything had gone to hell.

The next few minutes had been a blur of anger. She had smashed the remains of the mirror and banged on the walls, screaming her lungs out in anger at herself. Ortho had been concerned, and it had taken a while to sooth him enough for him to let her leave.

“Scourgify.”, Heracles said in a pissed-off voice, waving a hand around her person as she cast her spell. The soot and dust on her vanished, and she was clean once more. She would have cast the spell earlier, but she had been so angry at her failure that she had forgotten to do so. As she marched to the dungeons, still receiving curious stares because of her angry expression, she tried to further calm herself.

‘Breathe Heracles, just breathe. It was only the fourth attempt. Nothing ever works on the fourth try. You’ll figure it out eventually. It’s only a matter of time.’, the girl thought consolingly, and her spirits started to lift a bit when she remembered Halloween was fast approaching.

Samhain was a holiday Heracles knew well from her days at Night Raven College. It was well celebrated among the Faefolk, especially those in Diasomnia. It was said to have been the time where the veil between worlds was at its thinnest, and ghosts and all other manner of creatures could cross over from their realm and into Twisted Wonderland. Lilia had spoken of it reverently. Heracles hoped that that fact rang true on earth. She was planning on making another mirror on Halloween night, and hopefully the timing would be just right for it to work.

Walking up to the wall blocking the entrance to her dorm, Heracles looked up at it with a blank expression.

“Pureblood.”, she said, and the wall disappeared, revealing a door. Heracles briskly walked through it and into her room without sparing anyone a glance. Once she was safely inside her room and had slammed the door closes, Hedwig, who had managed to find a way into her room several weeks ago, looked at the girl in concern.

“Hera, are you alright?”,she asked her from her perch on Heracles’s desk.

“I’m fine.”, Heracles lied. She then collapsed onto her bed and started sifting through the pile of letters on it. They were from her solicitor, Edgar Bones, about her various lawsuits. Heracles pulled out her stationary and started writing replies without another word to Hedwig.

‘I’m fine.’, Heracles repeated in her mind as she struggled to keep her hand from shaking out of frustration while writing her letters.

She knew it was a lie.

—----------------------------------------------------------

Halloween night came not a moment too soon. Heracles sat at the Gryffindor table with Neville and the twins, since she had no friends in Slytherin. Ronald Weasley and some bushy haired girl glared at her from across the table the whole time she sat there. Apparently, the twins were Ron’s older brothers, and the bushy haired girl was some overachiever who was pissed Heracles was at the top of her year without needing to show up to class. Heracles thought both of them were being petty bitches and paid them no mind the whole night.

Heracles would admit that, while she wasn’t miserable, she still thought that Halloween at Night Rave College was better. They ran a yearly haunted house that all the dorms participated in. Ironically, Heracles had been a witch last year with Grimm. Everyone hung out and scared people while eating candy, and at the end of the night, every student that participated was welcome in the Monstro Lounge for discount drinks (because Azul would give out free merchandise the day Idia willingly went to class in person). It had been a wonderful experience, and Heracles missed it. Even when she had been at the orphanage, she had been able to make her own costumes with recycled fabrics and go trick or treating. At Hogwarts, there was no haunted house, there were no costumes, and there were no discount drinks. There were just jack-o-lanterns and bats, which just reminded Heracles of Lilia.

‘Welp, at least they have candy. Though an interhouse costume contest would be appreciated.’, Heracles thought as she tried to stab Dean Thomas’s hand with her steak knife to keep him from taking the last of the candy corn. The boy yelped and retracted his hand with as much speed as he could. The green eyed girl frowned at her thoughts as she stuffed the candy corn in her mouth with little decorum. Fred and George laughed at her actions, and Heracles gave them a small smile.

Halloween at Hogwarts wasn’t going to live up to Halloween at Night Raven College by any means, but it wasn’t as awful as she thought it would be. She just hoped her mirror prototype worked when she made it later that night-

“TROLL! IN THE DUNGEON! TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!”, Quirrell yelled out in the most shrill, annoying voice Heracles had heard a man since she had last spoken to Crowley as he burst into the feast without warning. The great hall went silent, and Dumbledore stood up from his seat at the staff table seriously. Everyone looked shocked or scared, but Heracles just looked at Quirrell blandly.

“Is it just me or is Quirrellso annoying?”,Heracles said irately. Fred, George and Neville all looked at her weirdly for her inability to read the room. Little did they know, Heraclescouldread the room, she just chose not to.

“Thought you ought to know.”, Quirrell said, and then he passed out like a bitch.

“And this is who teaches us to defend ourselves?”, Heracles asked flatly in exasperation. Then everyone started screaming and panicking. Heracles rolled her eyes at the student’s dramatics.

“f*cking idiots.”, the girl mumbled. Neville, who thankfully had enough sense not to lose his mind, looked at the turban-wearing teacher with concern.

“Is Quirrell dead?”, he questioned. Heracles looked at Quirrell’s unconscious form, searching for signs of life.

“Nah, the back of his head’s still breathing.”, Heracles said, and she was right; something that looked suspiciously like breathing was moving the turban on the back of Quirrell’s head. That didn’t surprise Heracles much. Quirrell had always felt off to her, and after everything she had gone through, breathing coming from the back of someone’s head was about as surprising as being told magic was real by McGonagall; that is to say, not at all. Neville looked at her in confusion.

“What?”, he asked. Heracles didn’t answer him. Instead, she got so tired of all the noise that she did what Dumbledore seemed reluctant to do; she intervened.

“SHUT UP, MALFOY!”, Heracles yelled so loud it drowned out all the other yelling and made everyone quiet down slightly. Malfoy, who had been yelling dramatically like the rest of his housemates, looked at Heracles angrily.

“I wasn’t the only one screaming!”, the blonde boy responded. His words were true, but Heracles considered his screaming the most annoying and didn’t care that he was right. Heracles rolled her eyes to the sky, got up on top of the Gryffindor table, and put her wand to her throat to magnify her voice. She would have used her magic pen, but it would have drawn unwanted attention. All eyes were on her.

“Alright, listen up! You all need to stop acting like little bitches, calm down, and stop f*cking screaming! You guys are all being so dramatic! The troll is in the dungeon,and we are not in the dungeon.”,Heracles ordered the students, stressing her last sentence. Everyone started to look less worried, and McGonagall stood up indignantly from the staff table.

“Miss Potter, get down from there this instant or I’ll- !”, she started to yell, but Heracles just turned to glare at her.

“Shut up! You get to act all huffy when you actually do your job as a member of staff and calm the students down, which I, an eleven year old, just did! So sit down and shut up, Karen!”, she yelled at the old woman. McGonagall sat back down, angry at being talked to in such a way and confused as to what a Karen was. Heracles gave the woman a stressed smile and returned her attention to the students.

“Thank you! Now, I want all of you to grab your things, grab some food to hold you over until this mess is sorted out, andcalmlylet your prefects lead you to your common rooms until the troll has been dealt with!”, Heracles ordered the students. Malfoy opened his mouth to say something.

“OUR COMMON ROOM ISINTHE DUNGEON!”, Malfoy exclaimed.

Heracles gave the boy a dry look. She knew that obviously, but honestly, she didn’t care what happened to most of her house mates. They were all elitist and racist as hell, and Flint wouldn’t stop trying to get her to join the quidditch team after rumors of her being able to fly standing up spread. Snape she could take or leave, but everyone else could get murdered by the troll for all she cared. Same with a lot of people in the other houses. The only reason she took charge and decided to help them was so that they would shut up

“I don’t care!”, Heracles responded bluntly. Neville looked at her with anger.

“HERA!”, he scolded. Heracles huffed. Unlike her, Neville actually cared about most people, and didn’t like the thought of them getting hurt. Curse her tendency to listen to the desires of the people she was close to.

“UGH! You know what, I’m going to finish my candy corn, and then I’m going to and hide in a broom closet! Everyone that isn’t Neville or the Weasley twins, stay here and wait for further instruction from the teacher! You know, the people who are ACTUALLY supposed to by helping you here! Anyone who doesn’t fit that category, follow me to the broom closet! THANKS FOR NOTHING YOU SORRY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING’S!”, Heracles yelled, and then she snatched the last bowl of candy corn off the Gryffindor table, got down onto the ground and left the great hall. Neville and the twins followed after her in a hurry, not wanting to be left behind. Everyone else just sat there and stared at the utterly bizarre scene.

“What the bloody hell just happened?”, Seamus Finnegan questioned. No one gave him a response.

—---------------------------------------------------

“Hera, where are we going?”, Neville questioned as Heracles led him and the twins to an uninhabited part of the castle he had never been to before. Heracles barely glanced back at him.

“My lab on the third floor corridor. You all should be safe in there until someone Avada Kevadra’s that troll into next week.”, the redheaded girl briefly explained. Neville looked at her like she was crazy.

“The third floor corridor?! But what about the broom closet?!”, Neville asked, going for the simplest thing he could find to question about his current situation because of how confusing everything that had just happened was. Heracles gave him an apologetic look from over her shoulder.

“Duh, Ilied,Neville.Try to keep up. Did you really think I was going to reveal to the entire school that I have a secret lab in the third floor corridor and that I’m planning to go hide there? I’m notstupid.”,Heracles said. Fred looked at her with interest.

“So you seriously have a secret lab in the third floor corridor?”, the third year asked. George looked at her with equal interest.

“Where Dumbledore said we would die a slow, painful death if we ever dared go there?”, George asked, picking up the conversation where his brother left off. Heracles gave a hurried nod as she started to climb some stairs.

“Yes.”, she answered quickly. The twins looked at her in respect and awe.

“Wicked.”, they said in unison. Soon, Heracles and her group arrived at the entrance to the third floor corridor. Heracles stopped at the entrance and took a deep breath.

“Alright, this is as far as I go. Go into the third room on the right, anddon’t touch anything.Everything I have in there ranges from stable to extremely volatile, and I am not about to let you guys play ‘what will kill me first?’ with my important research.”, Heracles told the boys. Fred frowned at her.

“How is a lab filled with unstable experiments safe?”, the ginger asked. Heracles narrowed her eyes at him.

“It’s not, but it’s hidden and way safer than just being anywhere in the castle with a troll. Stick with each other, okay? I’ve got to go.”, Heracles told the boys, knowing that what she was about to do was very dangerous and impractical, but habits from a year of helping people and fighting Overblots didn’t fade easily, no matter how she acted. Neville stared at her with curiosity and confusion.

“Where are you going, Hera?”, the brown haired boy asked her. Heracles gave him a serious, long-suffering look as she silently questioned, again,what the hell she was doing.

“I’m going to go do what I apparently do best, Neville; go fight a dangerous magical being and save the school while the people in charge here let a literal child solve their problems for them.”

—-------------------------------------------------

Heracles marched down the halls of Hogwarts, her magic pen in her hand and determination blazing in her eyes. Going after the troll herself probably wasn’t a good idea, but she wanted to see if she could find out what had gotten it into the school in the first place. The school was surrounded by wards, so a troll just wandering in was impossible. Someone had put it there, and knowing what lied within the third floor corridor, Heracles thought she knew why.

‘But the real question is, who would put the troll there in the first place? None of the second rate students here could do it, so it had to be a member of staff. The troll is probably a distraction for whoever wants to steal the stone, but it doesn’t matter. Ortho will stop them, and if he doesn’t, the traps I’m sure come after that will.’, the girl thought.

Normally, she would have just let the staff suffer and take the troll down on their own, but her interests lied with the Philosopher’s Stone. If whoever was after it kept trying to steal it, they might find her research or her friends who were currently hiding there. That was bad for her, so finding out who the thief was and dealing with them was imperative.

‘Trying to steal such an important magical artifact in such an obvious way is a terrible idea on it’s own, but involvingmein this was this f*cker’s fatal mistake.’, Heracles thought as she approached a girl’s bathroom. She heard loud stomping from within, and it didn’t take her long to figure out what was in there. Heracles didn’t hesitate. She rounded the corner, raised her magic pen and shouted a spell.

“Bombarda!”, she yelled, and the troll went flying back with a loud scream. Only, the scream didn’t sound like the troll. It sounded… human.

‘You’ve gotta be f*cking kidding me.’, Heracles thought as she saw some random Ravenclaw girl from the year above her, laying on the ground, petrified in fear. Heracles cursed her terrible luck. She knew she had to help the girl, otherwise her death would be on her hands.

“You, get out of here! Move! That thing has murder on the brain cell and if you don’t get out of here, you’ll be it’s victim!”, Heracles yelled at the girl, who gave a shriek in surprise and started crawling away. As she did that, the troll started to stand up.

“Don’t be suspicious, don’t be suspicious.”, the girl muttered under her breath, and Heracles wondered if the girl was stupid. Why the hell would you talk when you were trying to sneak away from a threat? Said threatfinally stood up and stared at the Ravenclaw girl dumbly. The girl froze and stared at the troll in terror. After a few moments of tense silence, the girl made another stupid decision.

“I WAS SUSPICIOUS!”, the Ravenclaw yelled. The troll then lunged at her, and Heracles quickly acted. She jumped onto the back of the troll and put him in a chokehold, pulling him back away from the girl.

“Calm down Shrek, she’s not worth it!”, Heracles quipped at the beast. The troll roared in anger. Heracles held onto the creature’s neck for dear life and for what wasn’t the first time since she had arrived at Hogwarts, began to deeply miss the sword Lilia had given her. It was a fine weapon forged by the Fae, so it could cut through just about anything. Unfortunately, the blade hadn’t come with her to earth, so Heracles was stuck with just her magic pen and experience fighting Overblots with whatever miscellaneous objects she could find until she could get another weapon.

‘Where are sharp pointy things when you need them?’, the girl bemoaned mentally. The troll started to stumble backwards into a wall, and Heracles took that as her que to jump off of him. The troll hit his head on the brick wall, disorienting him.

“DO SOMETHING!”, the Ravenclaw girl yelled. Heracles looked at the girl in annoyance.

‘Oh so NOW you decide to be productive.’, the redhead thought in a salty tone.

“Like what?!”, Heracles asked. Even though she didn’t like the Ravenclaw right now, she was open to ideas.

“ANYTHING!”, the Ravenclaw yelled unhelpfully. Heracles rolled her eyes at the lack of astiance.

“Alright, calm down.”, the redhead said, not really too worried about herself. She knew she could take the troll (Overblots were so much worse), so she wasn’t in survival mode so much as she was in ‘very annoyed and violent’ mode. Heracles grinned viciously as she got an idea. She had read a book on the Unforgivable curses in Grimmauld Place’s library. She knew all three curses worked on magical creatures. Perhaps she could put her knowledge to good use…

“AVADA- !”, Heracles started to shout as she pointed her pen at the troll, not really caring about ethics at the moment. It was like Lilia had once said; was murder unethical? Yes. But was it the easiest option when trying to take down someone who tried to murder you first? Yes. unfortunately, the Ravenclaw girl cared more about morals than survival and interrupted Heracles’s spell.

“NOT THAT!”, the girl yelled. Heracles glared at her and groaned in annoyance.

“For Seven’s sake bitch, you said anything! Hades, you are so annoying!”, Heracles yelled. The Ravenclaw looked at her affronted, but Heracles ignored her and got back to work.

‘Since little miss morals over there won’t let me use magic lethal force on the goddamn troll that’s trying to kill her, I’ll just have to usenormallethal force. Time to kill a troll with my bare hands.’, Heracles thought malevolently.

The troll was, surprisingly, still disoriented. Heracles took that as her chance to kick him in the back, sending him flying forward. Heracles then picked up a sink the troll had knocked off a wall before she had shown up, and brutally started bashing the troll’s head in with the basin. Normally, she would have thought this was inhumane, but the troll was trying to kill her and most spells would just bounce off its tough skin. Heracles needed a way to deal with him so that he would stay down, and this was the only method she could think of.

The Ravenclaw girl watched in horror as an eleven year old girl murdered a fully grown mountain troll with nothing but a sink and determination. Loud ‘clanks’ echoed throughout the bathroom everytime Heracles brought the sink down on the troll’s skull. Once the troll stopped twitching, Heracles threw the sink down, shattering it as she breathed heavily. Her face, hands and clothes were all covered in blood. Heracles looked at her bloody hands slight surprise and shrugged.

“A little messier than I would have liked, but it worked. So, are you and your stupid nerd morals happy girl?”, Heracles asked the Ravenclaw girl in annoyance. The girl just stared at her in terror, unable to completely grasp what she had just seen. Heracles shook her head irately.

“Dumbass.”, she grumbled. She was about to get up and move over to one of the still functioning sinks to clean herself up, when the staff picked the absolute worse time to walk in.

“MISS POTTER!”, McGonagall screamed in horror and anger. Heracles slowly looked back at the shocked and horrified staff with wide, surprised eyes. She had been planning to run away before the staff saw her and realized she had killed the troll, but now she had been caught red handed… literally.

“... sh*t.”

Notes:

Well, that got brutal. For those of you who haven't caught on, Heracles is a little unhinged. The girl lived in a neglectful and abusive orphanage for most of her early childhood, had no friends for most of her life, was unloved, and had to fight seven really powerful magic students in beserk mode at the age of ten, even if she did have help. Now she's mostly isolated and feels like she's surrounded by people she can't trust with barely any friends (which is true), and even then she doesn't trust those friends entirely. Heracles is willing to do whatever it takes to get home, desensitized to violence, and mildly suicidal with little regard for her personal well-being. The only reason this girl isn't gonna Overblot is because she knows all too well how that can affect her and knows how to prevent it. A little magical creature murder isn't outside of her capabilities, even though she loves most magical creatures and doesn't like hurting them. The troll is the exception because it was actively trying to hurt her and the random Ravenclaw girl, who will stay random by the way. She's not an important character, she's just a nameless OC who's here so Heracles had someone to talk to during the troll fight. Sorry she's not secretly Luna or Cho. Next time, bitching at staff and magic mirrors gone wrong!

So Long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 12: Year One: Eloquent Bullsh*ting, Failed Attempts and Reuniting with Unicorns

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“... sh*t.”, Heracles said as she looked into the shocked eyes of the Hogwarts professors. She wanted to hide the sink, to wipe her hands on her pants, to dosomething, but she knew it was futile. McGonagall stormed over to her in a whirlwind of anger.

“Miss Potter, what on earth are you doing here?! Explain yourself!”, McGonagall demanded. Heracles froze. She knew her situation looked bad, and while she didn’t care about what punishment McGonagall or Dumbledore decided to dish out, she did care about getting dragged into someone’s office. Heracles still had a mirror to make, and she needed to do it before Halloween ended. She knew she was going to have to talk her way out of her current conundrum.

So, Heracles plastered an indignant look on her face, crossed her arms and made use of a very useful skill Jamil had taught her; eloquent bullsh*tting.

“Well McGonagall, considering our situation right now, I’d sayyoushould explain yourself tome.”,Heracles rebuffed. McGonagall looked at her in shock.

“What in Merlin’s name are you talking about?!”, the woman asked. Heracles pursed her lips and did her best impression of the ‘angry and disappointed’ face Jamil would give Kalim when he did something stupid.

“Considering that I am a child, who had to take charge during the situation in the great hall because you and the headmaster refused to, it’s quite understandable that I was feeling a little disgruntled. A first year student left with two third years and another first year in the middle of a crisis, without being stopped by or helped by any members of staff. That first year then dropped those other students off Hades-knows-where and tracked down the troll to a girls lavatory, mind you before any members of staff found it, and single handedly stopped it from attacking a second year girl bybashing it’s head in with a bloody sink.”, Heracles started to rant, her anger at the horribleness of her situation very real. Everyone started to look guilty. The only exception was Snape, who was giving her a proud look. Then the Ravenclaw girl, who Heracles had honestly forgotten was there, grumbled under her breath.

“Mini-Karen.”, the second year said. Heracles shot her a glare, causing the girl to look at her in fear, and Heracles returned her attention to the staff.

“All of this happened because of your laziness, negligence, and the fact that none of you thought to take attendance or to announce on the tannoid to any students not at the feast that they might be accosted by Shrek on roids- ”, Heracles said, gesturing with her arm to the corpse of the troll before continuing to speak.

“ -this girl here was unaware that she might be murdered this evening. But luckily, a girl a year younger than her came to save her, because if she hadn’t she’d probably bedead.”, Heracles said sarcastically, gesturing to the Ravenclaw girl behind her, who looked very awkward now that the spotlight was on her. Sprout looked at her in bewilderment. She hadn’t expected a child, no matter how prodigal, to come up with such a good argument as to why the Hogwarts staff were terrible at their jobs. None of them had.

“... Well she makes us look bad when she says it likethat.”,Sprout grumbled. McGonagall gave her coworker a sheepish look.

“There wasn’t really time to take attendance, and we don’t really use the tannoid that much.”, McGonagall said in defense of herself. Heracles gave the woman a bland look.

“Yesterday the Weasley twins announced on the tannoid that if you're caught wearing crocs you’re expelled.”, the redhead rebutted, referencing her friends’ latest prank. Heracles regretted telling the twins about non-magical footwear. The Muggle Studies teacher, Charity Burbage, nodded at her words.

“And they had a point.”, the woman tacked on. She knew what crocs were, and in her opinion they were ugly as hell. Heracles snorted. One of Vil’s biggest fashion don'ts had been crocs. They were even worse than socks with sandals in his opinion.

“Don’t have to tell me. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing… crocs… ?”, Heracles started to say, only to trail off her sentence in confusion when she saw that Quirrell, who had apparently roused from consciousness sometime after she had left the great hall, had an open wound on his leg that looked suspiciously like a large dog bite. Quirrell noticed she was staring at his leg and moved his ugly purple robes to hide the wound, giving Heracles a panicked look. Heracles looked at the DADA teacher dryly.

‘Well, at least now I know who the wanna-be thief is. I could rat him out to Dumbledore, but I don’t trust him to properly deal with this guy. Maybe I could just anonymously contact Amelia Bones and let her deal with this? But then again, I don’t have concrete evidence, and I don’t think the wizarding court will accept a three-headed dog as a witness. I doubt Neville or the twins saw anything. f*ck, I’m going to have to deal with this guy myself, aren’t?’, Heracles thought, and she internally groaned in frustration. Just great, more sh*t for her to deal with on top of her other sh*t. Snape took her moment of contemplative silence as a moment to interject.

“Well Miss Potter, I will admit that you have a point, and so I will give you some.”, Snape said. Heracles raised an eyebrow at his unexpected offer.

“Alright then. Tell me, how much are my and this girl’s lives worth?”, Heracles asked. Snape looked at her with a straight face.

“Ten points to Slytherin.”, the black haired man said. The Ravenclaw girl stared at the man in shock.

“We’re only worth ten?!”, she asked in an offended voice. Heracles gave Snape an incredulous look. Only ten points? That was just pathetic. Even Crowley rewarded her better than that for taking down Overblots!

“Did you miss the part where I’m eleven and killed a troll with nothing but a sink and my bare hands?”, Heracles asked exasperatedly. Snape gave her a tired look.

“I would give you more but I already gave fifty points to Mr. Montague after he managed to get Mr. Goyle’s arm unstuck from the stair banister in the common room earlier today, so it’s balanced.”, Snape explained. Heracles gave him an even more incredulous look, because her life was worth far more than some random prefect fixing Goyle’s idiocy (the Ravenclaw’s life being worth more was debatable). After a few seconds getting stared down by a look that looked disturbingly like Lily Evans’s famed ‘do this or else’ look, Snape huffed and relented.

“Fine, fifty points to Slytherin and Ravenclaw for resilience in the face of danger.”, Snape said, changing his mind. Heracles gave him a hesitant look.

“I mean… you don’t really have to give any points to the Ravenclaw. She just sat there and screamed while I fought the troll.”, Heracles told the man. The Ravenclaw looked at her all offended, but like when her input was actually desired during the fight, said nothing. Snape gave the redhead a tired look.

“I have to give you both points or else I’ll get scolded for favoritism. You know how Minerva gets when a house that isn’t Gryffindor gets too many points.”, Snape explained. Heracles cursed.

“Damn.”, she grumbled. McGonagall walked up to Snape and gave him a tired look.

“Come on Severus, we’ve got accident report forms to fill out.”, the woman said. Snape groaned tiredly, and the two left, presumably to go tell Dumbledore about the sh*t storm that had just occurred. Sprout walked forward and placed a comforting hand on the Ravenclaw’s shoulder.

“Come now dear, let’s get you to the hospital wing.”, the plump woman said as she led the student away. Heracles watched this happen blankly. Of course she was the one who’s well-being was being neglected, despite the fact that she was the one that just went through the most danger. Quirrell walked forward and gave her a tense smile, Flitwick at his back.

“Y-You ought to go, he might wake up!”, the DADA teacher stuttered. Heracles gave the man an annoyed look.

“Well, I’m not just gonna stand here and hang out with him. And he’s not gonna wake up. He’s dead. I killed the troll, Quirrel.”, Heracles told the man, making her voice sound as threatening as possible to intimidate him. Thunder from the storm outside boomed, and Quirrell jumped and screamed shrilly. Heracles shook her head at his actions.

“Embarrassing.”, she said, and then she left. Heracles took out her silver pocket watch, which had been a birthday gift from Trey. It was eleven o’clock at night. She would be cutting it close if she wanted to attempt to make another mirror work, but she could do it. She would just have to make sure Neville and the twins got back to their dorm safely beforehand. Heracles stuffed her pocket watch into her jacket pocket and took a deep breath. She could feel the bruises from the fight starting to set in, and made a note to chug twice her usual amount of Pepper-Up potion tomorrow. She couldn’t let a few injuries slow her work down.

‘Alright.’, Heracles thought.

‘Let’s do this.’

—---------------------------------------------------

Heracles could barely breathe as she set the yard long piece of reflective, oval glass into the barren iron frame. The mirror was like all those that had come before it; plain and practical, missing the designs that the Dark Mirror or the mirror Heracles had bought at that fateful rubbish sale all those months ago had. It’s purpose wasn’t to look imposing or beautiful. Its purpose was to take her home.

Once she placed the glass in the frame, Heracles gingerly picked the mirror up and placed it on a hook on a wall she used exclusively for her mirrors. There were empty frames of yet-to-be completed mirrors hanging around her latest creation, all of them made of different materials. Some mirrors were just glass with no frame. In the corner, there was a pile of failed attempts that Heracles liked to ignore; crumpled or flawed frames, frames with shards of broken glass sticking out of them, and distorted sheets of mirror glass. They were proof of her lack of success, and so Heracles ignored the pile on a good day and scorned it on a bad one.

Once the mirror was securely hung, Heracles took a step back and waited for her spell matrix to take effect. The frame of the mirror glinted despite the dim torch light lighting the room, and Heracles’s breath hitched as a swirl of smoke appeared in the mirror glass. There, like with her last attempt, was a figure in the mirror. Heracles couldn’t see the details, but she could tell the figure was male. Hope appeared in her eyes. The figure looked familiar. It had points on the top of its head. Ears, perhaps? Was it Leona? Or Ruggie or Jack?

‘No, the points are too dull.’, Heracles thought. Beastman ears were more defined than the points on the figure's head. Maybe it was just hair. Was it Ace then? Idia? Trey? Maybe Kalim? Heracles couldn’t tell, but she was eager to find out.

‘It’s been at least twenty seconds, and the figure hasn’t faded. It’s working! The veil between worlds must be lifted!’, Heracles thought with excitement. She subconsciously started to reach out. The smoke was starting to dissipate. The mirror was stabilizing. It was working,it was working-

And then it wasn’t. In a heartbreaking instant, the glass shattered and the image disappeared. It didn’t blow up like the last attempt, but it stillbroke.Heracles stared at the mirror uselessly for a few seconds, before she was overcome with agonizing despair.

“AGGGHHH!”, she screamed as she grabbed the broken mirror (useless uselessuseless)and threw it to the ground with a ‘crash’. Heracles started stomping on it, the enchanted glass crunching under the heel of her sneakers. Then the stomping turned to kicking, and the jumping turned to jumping. The frame was utterly decimated, and the glass shards became even more shattered. Burning tears trailed down Heracles’s face.

“WHY WHY WHY?! WHY WON’T YOUWORK?!I HATE IT HERE, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?! I HATE IT HERE! I WANNA GO HOME!”, Heracles screamed at the top of her lungs, her Avada Kedavra green eyes swirling with rage and sorrow. She jumped on the frame as hard as she could, channeling all her hatred for earth and the majority of the people that lived there into her actions, but it was useless. She knew that. She knew thatshewas useless.

Eventually, Heracles’s energy started to wane. She was tired from her fight, from the feast, from having to drag herself out of bed everyday to live in a place she couldn’tstand.She was so, so tired. She stopped jumping on what was once a mirror and breathed heavily as she glared down at the pieces of metal and glass at her feet. It was an apt visual metaphor for Heracles as a person; useless, warped and utterlybroken.

“I just wanna to go home… “, Heracles sobbed. She could hear drops of water fall onto metal. It was her tears hitting the destroyed metal. With a deep, shuddering breath, Heracles took her research notebook out of her back pocket. She fumbled to find the page that read ‘attempt five’ at the top in red letters. When she found it, she clicked open a red pen and wrote in big, diagonal letters across all her other research notes on that page;

‘FAILED’

—-----------------------------------------------------

A few days after Halloween, rumors about Heracles, like they always seemed to do, had spread. Everyone knew that she had killed the troll with a sink, and everyone was even more terrified of her than before for it. The only people that didn’t seemed phased by her troll-killing fame (outside of her friends), were Ronald Weasley, the bushy haired girl from Gryffindor (whose name was apparently Hermione Granger), and Malfoy, who were all too stupid to understand that constantly trying to antagonize the girl who had killed a full-grown troll without magic was a bad idea.

Heracles had started spending even more time in her lab. After her fifth attempt at making a mirror gate failed, she threw herself even further into her research. Dark shadows had started to appear under her eyes from lack of sleep, and she was taking more Dreamless Sleep and Pepper-Up potions than was probably healthy. She felt more volatile than usual, and that was only made worse when on the week anniversary of her murdering the troll, the owls dropped off the post at breakfast. On the copies of the Daily Prophet that the many students who were subscribed to the newspaper received, the headlines on the front page read;

‘Girl-Who-Lives Sues Biographers for Non-Consensual Publication! Millions of Galleons Paid in Settlements!’

Eyes were on her even more than before. Ronald tried to demand answers from her, but Heracles nicked him with one of her cursed cards and he shut up. Then she left and ate the rest of her breakfast in the kitchens. The next day, she was left alone. She was surprised to find the twins had threatened anyone who bothered her with pranking hell after she left breakfast. Neville was also supportive. He gave her a cactus to make her feel better. Dumbledore tried to call her into his office for the millionth time, but she avoided him like always. Snape seemed to have a sort of reverence for her after the lawsuits went public though, and Heracles wasn’t complaining.

A week had passed since Halloween. Heracles was taking a walk around the castle to clear her head. She had just gotten done corresponding with Ragnok about what to do with her settlement money (most of it was put in the Potter vault, with some of it being set aside for personal investments she might want to make later on. Azul had taught her that start-up businesses could yield quite a bit of profit if the investment was timed right and the idea was good), and wanted to take a breather from her research. It was then that she stumbled across an odd scene.

“You students need to stay back, now! She’s agitated!”, a big, booming voice yelled out. Heracles looked in the direction of the voice. There, standing between a group of boys and the Forbidden Forest, was Hagrid. The boys seemed to be looking at something, which Hagrid was trying to block from view. Curious, Heracles walked over to the commotion.

“Hagrid? What’s going on here?”, she asked.

Unlike her relationship with most members of staff, her’s and Hagrid’s was a pleasant one. Upon actually talking with him for the first time, Heracles found that they both had a love for magical creatures. She had also figured out he was responsible for putting Ortho in the third floor corridor, but that it was likely on Dumbledore’s orders, because there was no way Hagrid would willingly leave a creature in such a cramped environment otherwise. Hagrid would also sometimes invite her over for tea and biscuits that would give Lilia’s cooking a run for it’s money, and they would chat about creatures and creature rights and other such matters. They weren’t overly close because Hagrid was also friends with Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, who he spent most of his time with, but they were still friends and she liked him enough to let him call her Hera. Hagrid looked at her in surprise as she walked closer to him.

“Hera! What in Merlin’s name are you doing ‘ere?!”, Hagrid asked. The group of boys surrounding the half-giant turned around and looked at her. One of the boys, Zacharias Smith, sneered at her.

“Well well, it seems the worthless snake has finally- “, the Hufflepuff started to say, but Heracles gave him a sharp glare and cut him off.

“Smith, you have exactly five seconds to leave before I twist your dick into a f*cking pretzel.”, Heracles told him bluntly. Zacharias’s face paled and he immediately scampered off, with his posse following suit. Heracles then returned her attention to Hagrid.

“So, what’s up?”, she asked him. Hagrid frowned deeply and gestured to the Forbidden Forest.

“It’s ‘er.”, he said. Heracles looked at him in confusion, before she looked out at where Hagrid was gesturing. There, on the edge of the forest, was the same unicorn Heracles had helped so many weeks ago, the strips of her jacket still tied around its (now healed) leg. Heracles watched in awe as the majestic creature trotted back and forth along the tree line, and Hagrid kept speaking.

“She showed up ‘ere a few weeks ago, actin’ all skittish like. She was injured, so I took ‘er in and treated the wound on ‘er leg. She left a week after that once she could walk again. Then a few days later, she came back and she never left. I tried to figure out what she’s stickin’ ‘round for, but I couldn’t for the life ‘o me figure out why! Then I realized She let’s the students come near her, surprisingly, but no one except the first year girls wit’ red hair. And it’s only for a few seconds. After she sniffs ‘em for a while, she shoves ‘em away and runs. Professor Dumbledore wants me to make sure she goes back to the Forbidden Forest, but no matter what I do, she won’t leave! I don’t know who she’s lookin’ for or why!”, Hagrid exclaimed in bafflement. Heracles slowly walked towards the unicorn, who had stopped her trotting and was now staring at her. She knew why the unicorn wouldn’t leave.

‘Is she looking for me?’, the green eyed girl thought. She had read in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ that unicorns never forgot a debt and always repaid them, but the author had written the information in such a way that it sounded more like a myth than fact, so Heracles hadn’t put much stock in it. The unicorn locked eyes with her as she crept closer. Hagrid looked at her with worry.

“Hera! Hera, what’re you doing?!”, Hagrid yelled, worried for the girl. Heracles didn’t listen. Instead, she began to reach a hand out to pet the unicorn’s head. She noticed that the unicorn seemed irritated, though. It was likely because of Hagrid’s yelling.

“Hagrid, be quiet.”, she told the half-giant. Hagrid listened to her and quickly shut his mouth. The agitation faded from the unicorn’s eyes and she nudged her head into Heracles’s hand. Heracles smiled at the creature.

“Hello. Sorry it took me so long to come and see you. I didn’t think you would remember me.”, Heracles said in a gentle voice as she stroked the unicorn’s silky, iridescent mane. The unicorn nickered in response, and Heracles laughed.

“It’s nice to see you again. I hope your leg is doing alright.”, she said, trying to be nice to the creature that was so eager to see her. The unicorn was impatient though. She gestured her head towards Heracles, and the girl blinked at her in confusion.

“Do you want me to brush you?”, she asked. The unicorn gestured her head again, whipping her mane. Heracles’s eyes widened in realization.

“You want me to take some of your hair?”, she asked. She had read about unicorns repaying their debts with strands of their very valuable hair, but they had only been stories. They had no factual basis, at least until now. The unicorn nodded her head, and Heracles gave her an apologetic smile.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t need unicorn hair. I get all the unicorn hair I need from Malfoy. I use a spell to steal his wand’s core whenever he annoys me. He thinks one of his roommates is doing it, but he has no proof. He’s had to replace the wand core seventeen times in the last month.”, Heracles revealed with a chuckle. She had never been more grateful that the Grimmauld Place library had books full of obscure spells, including ones about spells that removed wand cores without damaging the actual wand. The unicorn dropped her head in disappointment, and Heracles began to feel bad.

‘She wants to repay me, but how can she do that? I don’t need anything from her… ‘, Heracles thought. Then she smiled. She had an idea.

“How about you let me ride you?”, the red haired girl suggested. She hadn’t ridden a horse since she left Twisted Wonderland, and she missed the feeling. Broom riding was amazing, but first years couldn’t have brooms and anytime Heracles tried to get a school broom, someone on the Slytherin quidditch team tried to get her to join. It was annoying, to say the least. The unicorn perked up and nodded. Heracles’s smile widened.

“Really? You will?”, she asked the unicorn. The equestrian creature nodded again, and Heracles was ecstatic.

“Great! Hold still now, it’s hard for me to get up this high.”, Heracles said, before climbing up onto a nearby rock and using it as footing to get onto the unicorn’s back. The unicorn remained still the whole time. Hagrid meanwhile, who had been watching the entire interaction with a shocked expression, realized what Heracles was trying to do and panicked.

“Hera! Ya can’t ride a unicorn! They’re too proud for that!”, Hagrid yelled as he started to move to get Heracles away from the unicorn, but Heracles managed to get onto the white creature’s back and gave him a pointed look.

“Hagrid, it’s fine. She already consented. She’s repaying her debt to me.”, Heracles told him. Hagrid froze, and Heracles managed to situate herself on the unicorn’s back. She grabbed onto the horned creature’s silky mane with a grin.

“You ready?”, she asked the unicorn. The unicorn neighed in confirmation, and Heracles grinned. As the unicorn got ready to leave, Heracles threw one last glance back at Hagrid.

“Don’t tell Dumbledore about this, yeah?”, she asked. Hagrid didn’t have a chance to answer, because the unicorn took off two seconds later.

The ride started off fast and got even faster as time went on. Heracles gave a whoop of excitement as the unicorn’s speed kept picking up. The magical creature could run faster than any horse Heracles had ever rode, and it wasamazing.Slowly, the girl started to like a madwoman as she zoomed between great trees and under canopies of vegetation, feeling happy and completely free for the first time in over half a year. She feltalive.

Creatures from all over the forest came out from their hideaways to stare at the strange human riding a unicorn, to stare at the girl with her fiery red hair whipping in the wind as she laughed triumphantly, looking like some Fae of legend as she rode. Some creatures watching were more intelligent than others. A pair of centaurs watched as a human child rode the leader of the unicorns of the forest with no trouble whatsoever. The two centaurs looked on in awe.

“Firenze… Was that a child riding the leader of the unicorn herd?”, one of the centaurs questioned. The centaur known as Firenze, with pale blonde hair and deep blue eyes, nodded in agreement.

“Indeed it was. She had wrappings on her leg. She must have been injured by that scourge that has been hunting her kind these past months. The girl must have been the one to help her after she was attacked.”, Firenze responded. The other centaur watched the child and unicorn pair distastefully as the child continued to laugh joyfully.

“And I suppose the human demanded to ride her as payment for her deed.”, the other centaur speculated scornfully. Firenze gave his companion a purposeful look.

“Or she merely asked. Look at her, Bane. She does not look like an arrogant human, proud that she has managed to conquer a unicorn into letting her ride her, but a child who simply wants to ride a horse. She cares not about the status or pride that could come with her actions, only about the joy she is able to feel.”, Firenze said, defending the child. The other centaur, with dark hair and cold black eyes named Bane, merely sniffed at his companion’s words.

“If that is true, then I doubt we will ever see her again. Rhea will be eager to keep her little human friend away from the other inhabitants of the forest.”, Bane mused, changing the subject when his wrongful assumption was pointed out. Firenze smiled at him.

“I sincerely doubt that. I have read the stars, Bane. That girl will bring great change to this world, and to another.”, Firenze revealed cryptically. Bane looked at him in surprise.

“What do you mean?”, the dark haired centaur asked. Firenze looked to the clear sky, which was cloudless and pleasant for the first time in weeks.

“I cannot say. But I do know this; that girl is determined, and she is ambitious. She will do whatever it takes to get what she desires… to get back towhoshe desires. But she will never do so with evil intentions. Of that I am certain.”, Firenze said vaguely. Bane gave him a serious look. He knew better than to doubt Firenze’s prophecies, no matter how much distaste he held for his sympathy towards humans.

“You are sure of this?”, Bane asked, still not completely convinced yet despite everything. Firenze nodded.

“Completely and utterly. That girl will be someone great. I have no doubt.”, Firenze affirmed. Bane nodded reluctantly.


“If you are certain.”, he relented. Firenze nodded again.

“I am. Now let us leave. I doubt Rhea would appreciate us intruding on her moment with her new human friend.”, Firenze said, and the two centaurs trotted off back to their colony as laughter continued to ring throughout the air.

That night, when Heracles returned to the castle, she went to dinner with wind-swept hair and a large grin on her face. When Neville and the twins asked her what had her acting so happy, she merely said;

“I went for a ride with a new friend today.”

Notes:

And here's the longest chapter of this fic yet. I hope this was interesting. It was meant to have some humor, while giving a look into Heracles's mental struggles. The unicorn will be coming back, by the way. I don't know about Firenze and Bane, though. Hagrid will be a background character. Next time, more shenanigans!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx

Chapter 13: Year One: Dragons, Maps and Spines like Glowsticks

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The weeks after Halloween passed relatively uneventfully. Heracles spent her days with Neville and the twins, skipping classes, or in her lab. When she wasn’t doing any of those things, she was reading about useful things she had yet to learn about the wizarding world in her room, spending time with the Hogwarts portraits or ghosts, or helping the twins with their latest prank.

As their friendship evolved, Heracles and the twins fell into a comfortable give-take relationship; she would help them research things they needed to know or get them rare materials for their pranks, and they would annoy Ron more than they usually did on her behalf. This not only gave Heracles the pleasure of seeing one of her usual annoyances suffer, but it also made it so Ronald was too preoccupied with getting mad at his brothers to bother her half the time. It was a win-win situation.

Heracles and Neville had also started a new joint hobby together; gardening. After Heracles realized she could make a fortune selling cheaper than usual potions ingredients to the hordes of poorer students that walked Hogwarts’s halls, she decided to set up a private Herbology garden on campus for both her own potion ingredients and potion ingredients to sell commercially. Neville volunteered to help because he thought Herbology was fun and wanted to spend more time with Heracles. She was shut up in her lab everyday while he was in class, after all. They didn’t see each other as much as he thought they should, and he wanted to remedy that. Heracles thought he was adorable for wanting to help and not asking for a cut of the profits. The twins wanted to help too, but they were currently failing Herbology with a T for the troll Heracles killed with a bathroom sink, so they were regulated to grunt work.

Heracles ended up buying a small plot of land from Hagrid, one that sat between his hut and the Forbidden Forest. It wasn’t huge, but it was more than enough room to grow enough plants to maintain the anticipated supply and demand ratio. Hagrid signed it over to her in November at Gringotts, with Ragnok officiating the transaction. Heracles paid him twice the normal amount of galleons for the land, since he was a friend and she wanted to help him financially. The Hogwarts groundskeeper job didn’t really pay a lot. She was a business woman, notheartless.Hagrid tried to deny the money, but Heracles insisted.

So now, Heracles was in the small greenhouse Hagrid had all but insisted he build for her, weeding the gillyweed nursery, with Neville beside her in the mostgrandma-likegardening outfit she had ever seen.

“Do you really need the sunhat when we’re inside and in Scotland? The sun’s like an endangered species here, Neville.”, Heracles asked as she pulled a weed out of the plant bed, staring at Neville’s floral sunhat weirdly. Neville narrowed his eyes at her.

“My Gran sent it to me. And if we’re questioning each other’s choices, did you really need to dedicate an entire corner of the greenhouse tomushrooms?”,Neville asked. Heracles snorted at him as she pulled out another weed.

“Catty, are we? If you must know, the mushrooms are one of our best sellers, Nev. Plus it’s a tribute to a friend of mine. He loved mushrooms more than most things. He even started his own school club so he could go hiking for mushrooms. I’m growing them so that if he ever comes here, he’ll have something to take interest in.”, Heracles explained as she yanked out the last weed, before throwing the weeds into a nearby compost bin. Neville raised an eyebrow at her. In all his months of being her friend, Heracles had rarely mentioned her friends from before she came to Hogwarts, and when she did it was never by name. It made him curious these mysterious friends.

“Are you expecting him to come and visit?”, the brown haired boy asked. Heracles shook her head.

“No. I don’t expect that he’ll ever see this school, actually.”, Heracles answered, and Neville was about to ask her what she meant by that when a loud ‘boom!’ was heard from Hagrid’s hut. Neville jolted with a squeak and Heracles immediately raced over to the side of the greenhouse closest to Hagrid’s hut. Heracles saw that black smoke was coming out of Hagrid’s back window, and opened the greenhouse window to talk to him.

“Hagrid, what happened?! Are you alright?!”, Heracles asked as she waved the drifting smoke away from her. Neville followed her over to the window to see what was going one and coughed violently as he inhaled some of the smoke. After a few moments, Hagrid appeared, covered in make-shift protective padding and oven mitts. He gave the two first years a nervous smile.

“Hi Hera! Don’t worry, everything’s alright! Nothin’ to see ‘ere! Just go back to what you were doin’!”, Hagrid told her. Neville and Heracles exchanged suspicious looks, but said nothing and closed the greenhouse window.

“Well that was weird.”, Heracles said once she and Neville had completely closed the window. Neville nodded.

“Yeah. Wonder what he’s doing there… “, Neville mused. Heracles shrugged.

“No clue, but- SEVEN DAMNIT NEVILLE, WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT CONTAINING THE DEVIL’S SNARE?!”, Heracles started to say casually, only to start screaming at the top of her lungs when Neville’s ankle was being discreetly grabbed by the Devil’s Snare plant they were growing near the mushrooms. The boy began to dangle in the air and started screaming.

“AHHHHHH!”, Neville yelled loudly. Heracles frowned in annoyance and she grabbed the nearest sharp object, which was the deck of cursed playing cards in her pocket, and put her game face on. This wasn’t the first time she had been forced to save Neville from his own accident-prone self.

“Bring it on, Little Shop of Horrors!”, she yelled at the rogue plant. Then she jumped on it and got to hacking. It seemed violently ending magical beings to save screaming eleven year olds was going to become a habit.

Oh well, she thought. At least she actually cared whether or not Neville lived or died.

—---------------------------------------------------

Later that week, Heracles found out what had caused the explosion in Hagrid’s hut.

A dragon.

An actual f*ckingdragon.

Yeah. Apparently, Hagrid had thought it would be a quote unquote ‘good idea’ to hatch a dragon he won in a bloodypoker gamein his hut, and keep it as a pet.

Heracles loved Hagrid, really she did. But the man’s idea of what was ‘cute’ was usually synonymous with the word ‘lethal’. Exhibit A, Ortho the three-headed dog.

Heracles discovered the existence of Hagrid’s new ‘pet’ when she overheard Ronald and Hermione Granger talking about the creature with no subtlety whatsoever in the corridors. The two wanted to smuggle the hatchling out of the castle and to Ronald’s dragon-tamer brother in Romania before it got so big that it was capable of eating students. And for the first time since she met the ginger nuisance and his bushy haired tagalong, Heracles agreed with them. A dragon, no matter how much Heracles wanted it to stick around because it would remind her of Malleus, had no place in a school full of children. And knowing her luck, it would try to kill her for the crime of existing and eat Neville at some point, both things Heracles could not allow to happen.

So Heracles waited until the night she knew Ronald and Granger were going to smuggle out the dragon (whose name was Norbert, Hagrid had told her as he blew his nose with comical loudness into a hanky with tears running down his face after Heracles had gone to visit him once she heard about the plan), and snuck out of her common to make personally sure everything went smoothly for everyone’s sake. Which wasn’t hard, because she had been sneaking out of her dorm after lights out since the first week of school. Snape didn’t even bother trying to keep any of his students in bed after curfew, and Filch was so easy to avoid it comical.

After successfully sneaking out, Heracles shadowed Ronald and Granger until they reached the astronomy tower, where Charlie Weasley was waiting for them. Heracles watched from behind a corner as the Norwegian Ridgeback was handed off to the stocky ginger man in dragon handling gear. Once she saw this, Heracles considered her work done and hid behind a curtain as Granger and Ronald left. She listened to the two’s mutterings about ‘bloody dragons’ and ‘bloody Hagrid’ until they were out of earshot. Then Heracles left her hiding spot behind the curtain and brushed some dust off her jacket with a sigh.

“Right. Well, my work here is done. Better head back to bed before- “, Heracles started to say to herself, only to stop when she felt something rubbing against her legs like a cat. Only, it didn’t feel like a cat. Heracles stiffened and slowly looked down at what was harassing her, and was startled to find the very dragon she had gone to see off. Heracles narrowed her eyes at the once vicious creature, that was now purring like a cat as it showered her in affection.

“Oh Hades no. You can’t stay here. You need to go back to the top of the tower with the nice ginger and go to Romania so that you can- “, Heracles told the dragon, only to have her words interrupted by the appearance of said nice ginger at the top of the stairs. Charlie Weasley looked at her in shock, and Heracles stared at him with panic. She hadn’t planned on being spotted. f*ck.

“I can explain.”, Heracles said quickly, trying to come up with an excuse for why she was stalking the man’s brother and friend. Charlie just continued to stare at her in shock.

“Merlin’s beard. He’s imprinted on you.”, the man breathed. Heracles looked at the man in bewilderment.

“I’m sorry what?”, she asked, wondering what the hell he meant, because there was no way the dragon had just imprinted on her like he was Jacob from Twilight. Charlie started walking towards her.

“He imprinted on you. In place of his biological mother, he’s chosen you to raise him. It’s a rare occurrence. The last time a dragon did this with a human, it was with Newt Scamander nearly a century ago. I’ve heard about this occurring before, but I never thought I would see it in person! What a sight!”, the Weasley exclaimed as he crouched down to pet Norbert, only to get snapped at by the dragon’s sharp teeth. Instead of reacting negatively like most people would, Charlie laughed.

“Feisty, aren’t ya? Of course, you don’t like anyone but your mama, don’t ya?”, Charlie said cheerfully, and Heracles stared at the second oldest Weasley son in bewilderment.

“Now hold on just a second, I’m no one’s ‘mama’. I came here to make sure your idiot younger brother and his friend got Norbert to you safely, and I have. So do your job, take the dragon and leave.”, Heracles told the man sternly, but Charlie just stood up and shook his head.

“No can do, miss. Once a dragon imprints on someone, that someone has to raise the dragon or else.”, Charlie told her. Heracles raised an eyebrow and tried to ignore Norbert, who had gone back to rubbing himself against her legs like a cat.

“Or else what?”, she questioned. Charlie gave her a sad look.

“Or else the dragon’s health will decline due to being apart from you until he dies. He has to stay near you, at least until he’s fully grown.”, Charlie elaborated, and Heracles cursed.

“Bloody hell, what is it with me and highly dangerous magical creatures?! First it was Grimm, then it was Ortho, and now it’s a bloodydragon!Is it the way I smell or something?!”, Heracles exclaimed in frustration, because it was just her luck that the dragon would get attached to her,of bloody course.She honestly should have expected this by now.

‘I suppose Malleus was the precursor to all of this.’, Heracles thought, recalling her (slightly clingy) dragon fae friend. She should have known her penchant for making friends with very dangerous beings would extend beyond the prince of the Valley of Thorns. Heracles took a deep breath. Unfortunately for herself, it appeared her morals weren’t as bankrupt as she thought they were, because Heracles soon made a decision regarding Norbert. Taking a deep breath, she sighed heavily.

“Okay. Okay fine, whatever. I guess I’m raising a dragon now. He can’t stay in the castle, though. I have an accident prone friend that I have no doubt the little bugger would love to eat the second he’s big enough.”, Heracles relented. Charlie grinned at her.

“No problem. I can call in some colleagues from Romania to set up a habitat for him in the Forbidden Forest. He can stay there while you’re at school.”, Charlie offered. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“What about when I’m not at school?”, she asked as Norbert went from rubbing against her leg to climbing on it. She ignored the hatchling’s antics. Charlie laughed at the dragon’s actions before responding to her question.

“We can use expansion charms to set up one in your home, as well. Free of charge, of course. You’ll be doing a great service to the reserve by taking Norbert in.”, Charlie assured her. Heracles nodded.

“Alright then. I’ll give you my address. Set it up whenever you get the chance this year. I won’t be going home until summer, so you have plenty of time. Use one of the guest rooms, don’t go in the master bedroom, and the basem*nt is off limits. And fair warning, I live with a screaming portrait and a mad house elf.”, Heracles told the ginger man. Charlie looked at her in confusion when she said her last sentence, and Heracles finally got tired of Norbert trying to climb her like a tree and picked him up. She held him against her chest like she used to do with Grimm and looked Charlie in the eyes.

“Also, don’t tell your moron of a youngest brother about this. He gives me enough problems as it is, the last thing I need is him kicking up sh*t over me ‘stealing’ Norbert.”, Heracles commanded the man. Charlie held up his hands in surrender.

“No protests from me on that. I know how difficult Ron can be.”, Charlie told her. Heracles snorted as Norbert started struggling in her arms, wanting to get free to wreak havoc on the poor astronomy tower. Luckily, due to her impressive strength, the hatching wasn’t able to wiggle loose.

“‘Difficult’ is an understatement, but you're related so I suppose it would be expected that you would say that. Now, how the bloody hell am I supposed to take care of a newly hatched Norwegian Ridgeback? What do I even feed this little bugger, anyway?”, Heracles asked as Norbert squawked.

Charlie grinned as wide as Che’nya at her question, and Heracles knew she wasn’t going to like his response.

—-----------------------------------------------------

“Hera, is that a bucket full of blood and brandy?”, George asked as Heracles walked out of Hagrid’s hut, holding a large metal bucket full of what smelled like an odd mix of alcohol and iron. Fred just stared with a grossed out look. He and his brother had decided to accompany Heracles on one of her ‘errands’ for the hell of it since they had no major pranks planned, but now they were both starting to regret it, because buckets of blood and alcohol were rarely meant for anything good.

Heracles nodded and sat the bucket down on the ground. Charlie had explained to her that baby Norwegian Ridgebacks could only consume chicken’s blood mixed with brandy until they reached adolescence, after which they ateactualchickens, before leaving to go back to Romania to fetch his colleagues at the dragon reserve. The second oldest Weasley and his colleagues then spent the next several days building a dragon habitat for Norbert, in secret so that the staff wouldn’t find out and lose their sh*t because there was aliteral dragonliving in the forbidden forest. Heracles had paid them handsomely for their excellent work despite their insistence they were doing it for Norbert’s well-being, not pay. They still ended up going home with a sack of galleons each.

Over the past several days Hagrid had become her sole supplier of sustenance for Norbert, since Heracles was too young to purchase alcohol and had no idea how to bleed a chicken. The half-giant was ecstatic to find out that Norbert was staying, and was more than happy to help Heracles with him in whatever way she needed. With all that said, it was still difficult to take care of a dragon forseveralreasons. One of which being that dragons were difficult to keep a secret, especially from nosey twins.

She wanted to tell the twins and Neville about Norbert, really she did, but she knew they would want to meet him, which Heracles felt could only end in the twins getting bitten by Norbert’s venomous fangs and Neville still getting eaten despite the face Norbert wasn’t yet large enough to swallow the boy whole. Heracles looked at said nosey twins with tired eyes.

“Chicken’s blood, yes. I need it for something.”, the green eyed girl answered. George raised an eyebrow.

“And that something would be… ?”, he trailed off. Heracles gave him a tired look.

“Would you believe me if I told you it was for summoning an eldritch god?”, she questioned, her tone revealing she already knew the answer to her question before it was even asked. Fred and George frowned at her.

“No, we wouldn’t.”, they said in unison. Heracles gave them a long-suffering look.

“Then at least pretend like you do, because that would honestly be preferable to the real reason why I need what’s in this bucket, which I will not tell you, but I will say this; baby dragons are like murderous, pyromaniac toddlers with a tendency to bring you dead things like a cat. And I’m getting really tired of finding animal carcasses by the greenhouse. Moral of the story; never have kids, boys. Especially when those kids breathe fire and have venomous fangs. And don’t tell Neville about any of this, I don’t want him to get eaten.”, Heracles monologue in a very tired, very done voice. Then she left, brandy and blood sloshing in her bucket as she took off towards the forbidden forest. Fred and George watched her go, and then looked at each other in bewilderment.

“Should we ask?”, Fred asked. George shook his head.

“For the sake of our sanity, probably not.”, George responded.

—---------------------------------------------------

Weeks passed, and taking care of Norbert was a… unique experience, Heracles decided. The dragon wasn’t violent to her, in fact he was very affectionate. It seemed the creature really did see her as his mother. No, Norbert was violent toliterally everything else. In his few weeks since taking up residence in the Forbidden Forest, he had nearly eaten a Thestral, bitten Hagrid twice and torched several trees. In his early days, he was like Grimm, only bigger and more destructive, so Heracles had treated him like Grimm. She gave him affection, she gave him treats when he was good, and she smacked him on the nose when he was bad. This helped to curve his behavior slightly, and he became more like Malleus than anything; clingy and very attached. And because the dragon reminded her of Malleus, Heracles became very attached to him in turn.

Heracles had also discovered that she could naturally speak dragon. She had never learned how to speak dragon at Night Raven College (it was considered a lost language among everyone except the Fae, since dragons were very rare in Twisted Wonderland), so she figured her surprising ability was a result of naturally being able to speak to snakes. Snakes were reptiles, and so were dragons, so their languages were very similar. It wasn’t hard to pick up on what words meant what when most of them directly translated into snake language.

More weeks passed by. Several things changed during that time, one of which being the fact that Norbert went from being the size of a cat to being the size of a car, and Ortho had managed to make friends with him during his weekend walks. How that had happened, Heracles would never know.

Heracles made a few more mirrors, but each one failed. She continued to skip all her classes in favor of conducting research, much to McGonagall’s and most of the other staff’s annoyance. Her grades were perfect though, and since there was no attendance requirement for passing a year at Hogwarts, there wasn’t really anything they could do about it. Sleep became even harder to come by, and Heracles had to schedule her use of dreamless sleep potions so she didn’t use them too often and become addicted. Nightmares were frequent, and so were all-nighters in her lab. Quirrell didn’t try to steal the stone again thankfully, but Heracles knew he would try again. It was only a matter of time.

Malfoy, Granger and Ronald continued to be annoyances, but Heracles just made their lives harder with the help of the twins in return. Dumbledore backed down on trying to call her into his office as much as he used to, and Slytherin even started becoming more amiable to her because of all the house points she was getting them. Professor Binns gave her fifty points for every O level essay she handed in to him in advance of the normal due date, and she had handed in quite a few. Flitwick and Sprout had also taken to this system, but they gave her seventy-five instead of fifty. Because of this, Slytherin had a five hundred point lead in the house cup, not that Heracles cared. She still thought the whole thing was a pointless pissing contest.

Before she knew it, it was the day before Christmas break. Heracles was taking some time off from her research, and made the rare decision to socialize by reading in the library instead of her room like she normally did. Of course though, she chose to socialize with one of the ghosts rather than her schoolmates, because she would rather talk to a literal corpse than the likes of her yearmates. Nearly Headless Nick sat across from her at the table Heracles had commandeered for herself as the girl said whatever came to mind for no reason other than boredom. Some of the things she said sounded more than odd to those around the pair.

“I just realized, no one in this school has any gains. There are no buff wizards. There is no gym in Hogwarts. The closest thing we get to a workout is Flying Class, and we barely do any exercise there. Even the quidditch players have noodle arms. I have never seen anyone in this school, at any point, do a push up. I could crack Ronald Weasley’s spine like a glowstick. So could Leona and Jack. And Floyd, but he would rather squeeze him.”, Heracles said darkly as she cracked her knuckles. The students in the library with her all looked at her with wide, worried eyes, and some even started to inch as far away from her as possible.

Heracles had no idea how the conversation had gotten to the point where she was debating how easy it would be to snap Ronald Weasley like a twig with a dead guy, but she was running on four hours of sleep and the expresso the house elves were nice enough to make for her, so she really didn’t care. Nearly Headless Nick, who only knew what a glowstick was because the Weasley twins had used some they bought off of Heracles to fill Snape’s classroom as a prank last month and had no idea who the hell Leona, Jack and Floyd were, merely shrugged in response to his companion’s words.

“Do what you will, Lady Potter. All I ask is that you don’t ‘crack his spine like a glowstick’ as you put it while he’s on campus. If he decides to become a ghost once he passes, I’ll be the one stuck with him for all eternity.”, Nick responded, clearly not fond of Ronald. Heracles rolled her eyes.

“Unfortunately Sir Nicholas, I won’t be cracking his spine period. Murder is a crime apparently, and I rather like not being in Azkaban with my mass-murdering godfather. So sorry to disappoint you.”, Heracles said, but before Nick could say anything, the twins came over to their table and interrupted their conversation.

“Hera, we- “, Fred started seriously.

“-need to talk to you.”, George finished, just as serious as his brother. Heracles gave them a fleeting glance and then turned back to face Nick.

“So sorry Sir Nicholas, but it seems our chat on the merits of murdering one’s enemies has been interrupted. I’ll see you around, yeah?”, Heracles said to him. Nick floated upwards and nodded to her.

“Of course. You’re still coming to my deathday party, yes? I asked a friend of mine in the kitchens to make mortal food for the occasion so that you will have something to eat.”, the ghost asked. Heracles nodded and gave him a tired smile with finger guns.

“You know it.”, she answered. Nick smiled at her and left, floating through a crowd of Gryffindor third years in the process, causing them all to shiver in unison. Heracles turned to look at her baffled friends.

“I’ll never understand how you manage to make friends with so many of the ghosts. Didn’t you just go to the Fat Friar’s deathday party the week before last?”, George questioned with a shake of his head. Heracles nodded.

“Yep. And it’s not just the ghosts. I’m friends with the portraits, too. There’s a portrait of a late member of House Black on the fourth floor that invited me to tea with some of the other portraits over break. They’ve specially recruited the house elves to make me real food since I can’t eat the food in the portraits.”, Heracles continued. Fred looked at her in awe.

“You know you’d be a lot more popular if you put all that charisma towards the other students and stopped trying to bite the head off of anyone that so much as tries to speak to you, right?”, the ginger questioned. Heracles shrugged and idly flipped through the random book she had picked up off one of the shelves so she wouldn’t look out of place.

“I know, but I don’t care about the students. Most of them are assholes or sheeple, and I would honestly rather kill another troll with a sink than talk to them.”, Heracles admitted. Fred thought about her words, then nodded.

“Makes sense.”, he relented. Then George piped up.

“But we still need to talk to you.”, George said. Heracles waved at the two empty chairs across from her own at the table she was sitting at.

“Talk away.”, she told them. Fred and George took their seats and leaned close to her, secretive looks on their faces.

“We have something we want to give you.”, Fred said. Heracles raised a curious eyebrow.

“Oh?”, she said. George nodded, and a grin appeared on his and his brother’s faces.

“Yep. It's a Christmas gift, from two troublemakers to their beloved enabler. After careful consideration, we’ve decided to give you something very near and dear to our hearts. Since we won’t be able to spend Christmas here with you- “, George started.

“-since Mum insisted that we go with her and Dad to visit Bill in Egypt. We figured an object of such importance would be fair trade for a holiday spent with us truly.”, Fred finished as he pushed his short ginger hair back with his hand, a silly-looking fake-seductive smile on his face. Heracles laughed at the two’s antics.

“Okay, so what’s this item of ‘such importance’?”, Heracles asked. She didn’t really care what the gift was. She hadn’t been given a gift since she left Twisted Wonderland. If it came from two of the only friends she had on earth, then she would cherish the gift even if it was the most useless thing on earth. The twins smirked at her, and George pulled a piece of parchment out of his pocket. He then pulled out his wand and placed it on the parchment.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”, the twins said at the same time, and suddenly, and intricate map started to appear on the parchment. Heracles watched this happen in wonder. Once the map was done manifesting, she read what it said at the top.

“‘Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are proud to present to you the Marauder’s Map’.”, Heracles muttered to herself, her eyes wide as she did so.

She knew who Prongs was. Peeves had called her ‘Ol’ Prongsy’s daughter’ multiple times, but had never told her what that meant. Until shortly after Halloween, when he finally started telling her stories about her parents. More accurately, her father and his friends, who were called the Marauders. They were mischief makers of the highest degree, and Heracles was certain her father was looking at her proudly from the afterlife whenever she helped the twins with their pranks. Each member had their own special nickname, and her father’s was Prong’s. Her father had made the map. Heracles chuckled. It was ironic; since her father had helped make the Marauder’s map, and since she was the only child of the deceased leader of the group, the map and anything that belonged to the Marauder’s as a group was how her’s by pureblood birthright laws. But Heracles wouldn’t tell the twins that. She didn’t want to spoil their gift. Fred and George gave her proud grins.

“This here is the secret to our success.”, George said. Fred nodded.

“It’s a blow to our success rate to give this to you, believe me. But we’ve decided- “, Fred started.

“-that your needs are greater than ours. What with you constantly needing to avoid the people you don’t like and all.”, George finished with a nod of his own.

“Which is everyone.”, Fred joked. Heracles laughed.

“Good to know. So this map shows everyone?”, she asked, glancing at McGonagall’s name on the map, who was sitting in her office, likely either grading papers or drinking due to the stress Heracles had caused her. George nodded.

“Everyone.”, George started.

“Where they are- “, Fred said.

“-what they’re doing- “, George continued.

“-every minute-”, Fred said.

“-of everyday.”, George finished. Heracles grinned at the pair.

“Brilliant! Where exactly did you get it?”, the girl asked. The twins gave her sly smirks.

“Nicked it from Filch’s office of course. Had to set off a dung bomb to get it, but we got it nonetheless.”, Fred said proudly. Heracles nodded.

“Great. So, how do you turn it off? I doubt you just leave it like this for anyone to read.”, Heracles asked. Fred and George exchanged looks before grinning at her.

“Easy. Just give it a tap and say- “, George started, tapping his wand against the parchment again.

“Mischief managed.”, the twins said in unison, and like that the map was back to being just a normal piece of parchment. The twins handed her the parchment, and Heracles stared at it with a wide smile.

Heracles felt giddy. Being able to know what everyone in the castle was doing at any given time was an extremely useful thing to be able to do. It would help her keep an eye on Quirrel and the Philosopher's stone, not to mention it was the only keepsake she had of her father. Heracles may not have known her parents, but she still mourned for them in her own way. She decided to start using Halloween at Hogwarts as a sort of memorial day for the people who gave her life after her fifth mirror failed. If Samhain wasn’t going to help her get home, then she might as well put the day to a different, just as important use. She may not have known Lily or James Potter, but she still wanted to honor them.

Still, the Marauder’s map was a good thing to have. She would have to keep the map a well-guarded secret from the staff if she wanted to keep it in her hands alone. Heracles looked at the twins with gratitude.

“Thank you boys, this really means a lot to me.”, she told them sincerely. Fred and George smiled at her.

“It’s no problem. We wanted to give you something nice, since you’ll be here all on your own. You sure you don’t want to go home for break?”, George asked her. No one at school knew that Heracles lived on her own at Grimmauld Place except for Neville and the twins. Heracles had yet to find a loophole in the law to allow her to legally live on her own, so until she could, it was best everyone believed she was still living at Wool’s orphanage. Heracles nodded.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Besides, I won’t be alone. Neville’s staying here with me, remember?”, Heracles reminded the two. Neville had written to his Grandmother to ask if he could stay at school for break after he found out Heracles would be staying at school alone for the holidays, and Augusta Longbottom, surprisingly enough, had said yes. Heracles would never get over how sweet Neville was. The twins nodded.

“Yeah, we know.”, Fred said.

“We just worry about- “, George started.

“-how our ickle little snakey will do all on her own.”, Fred finished. Heracles gave the boys a confident smile.

“Oh boys, you don’t have to worry about that. I’ve been on my own for far longer than one measly break. I know how to cope.”, Heracles assured them in a way that sounded more concerning than anything. The twins frowned and were about to ask her what she meant by that, but Heracles sensed the questions that were to come and got up as fast as she could, grabbing her bag from off the ground.

“Well would you look at the time, time to get back to the lab. Sorry to leave boys, but I’ll be sure to see you off tomorrow.”, Heracles told them. She wasn’t lying, but she was more eager to leave than she normally would have been. She was about to turn around and walk out the door, when she suddenly smirked. She knew she didn’t want to tell the twins that the Marauder’s Map was technically already hers before they gave it to her, but she couldn’t resist messing with them a little… plus it would get them to stop looking so worried about her.

“Oh and, one more thing; I’m Prongs’sdaughter.”,Heracles revealed casually. Fred and George both gasped in shock. They knew Heracles would never lie about being related to one of their idols.

“We are not worthy!”, the twins shouted in unison as they immediately got on their knees and started bowing repeatedly, much to the surprise of the library goers.

Heracles laughed at their actions, trying to hide the slight pain in her eyes. She knew she had to get back to the lab, but she could spare a few more minutes. She knew she would beat herself up for it later, but she was too tired to care at the moment. For a few moments, it was like she had no bags under her eyes, or that she wasn’t hungry from neglecting to eat in favor of making more mirrors that never worked. For a few moments, she was back in Twisted Wonderland laughing at something Ace and Deuce did because they knew it would make her smile.

For a few moments, she was ten again. She was happy again.

Notes:

Well that was a long-ass chapter. Norbert is not Norberta in this fic, and he will be a recurring character. Heracles is gonna collect magical creatures like Pokemon. Newt Scamander wishes he was her. Next time, Christmas and the Mirror of Erised!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 14: Year One: Chirstmas, Gifts and the Mirror of Erised

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Christmas at Hogwarts was certainly a sight to see. While at Night Raven College, Christmas was not celebrated by the staff (at least publicly), this was not the case at Hogwarts. Decorations hung in every corridor except the forbidden one on the third floor. Peeves floated around singing rather hilarious versions of Christmas carols, and even took requests (at least from Heracles). The Slytherin common room was decorated with silver tinsel and mistletoe, and a great fir tree Hagrid had hauled in from the Forbidden Forest resided in the great hall. Fairy lights made of actual fairies sat on the tree. Heracles was tempted to question them about the differences between them and the dark fae she new in Twisted Wonderland, but she knew they wouldn’t know what she was talking about.

Heracles and Neville had taken to spending their days in the deserted Slytherin common room. Snape didn’t bother trying to keep Heracles’s Gryffindor friend out of the common room. The girl would just sneak him back in anyways, and it wasn’t like the boy was hurting anyone. It was too cold to go anywhere else, like out to the greenhouse. And playing in the snow only reminded Heracles of the time she visited Epel’s hometown of Harveston, so the pair spent most of their time inside. It was eerie for Neville to see the castle so empty, but Heracles welcomed the silence.

The two friends eventually just holed up in Heracles’s dorm room for most of the break. Neville had been hesitant to stay in the same room as a girl, mostly because of the propriety that had been hammered into his head by his grandmother, but Heracles assured him she didn’t care. There were a dozen different beds in the room, anyway, so it really didn’t matter that he was a boy and she was a girl. The house elves brought them food, and the room had a private bathroom. The only reason the two left was if they wanted to go see Hagrid.

The pair occupied the rest of their time by reading, tending to Neville’s indoor plants and playing board games. Exploding snap was Neville’s favorite, but Heracles was terrifyingly good at wizard’s chess. Playing normal chess with Leona all those times had really paid off, because Heracles never lost a game. Snape, once again, did not care what Heracles was doing, even though it was technically against the rules for a boy and girl to share a room on school property. Mostly because he knew it was futile to fight her.

Neville and Heracles appear in the great hall until Christmas eve, because they both wanted to enjoy the feast and be a little bit festive. They both took a seat at the Ravenclaw table, which was the only fully empty table in the great hall. No one stopped them. The staff all sat at the high table, sipping wine and firewhiskey and laughing. The only people that looked sober were McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore, who Heracles made eye contact with exactly once on accident and spammed ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ as loudly as possible. Dumbledore looked so confused as she broke eye contact and diverted attention to the newly arrived food. Traditional Christmas foods lined the tables, and Heracles dug in as soon as possible and downed an entire goblet of butterbeer in one go. Neville stared at her with wide eyes, and once Heracles sat her goblet down, she looked at Neville and narrowed her eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that. You’ve seen me eat with less manners.”, she said before stuffing more food into her mouth, and Neville recalled the time Heracles nearly stabbed Dean Thomas with a fork for some candy corn, and realized she was right.

The feast was uneventful. Christmas day was when things actually got interesting. Heracles woke up the morning of December 25th and simply laid in bed, staring at the ceiling.

Christmas may not have been celebrated at Night Raven College, but they still did things for the holidays. She had spent her only Christmas in Twisted Wonderland trying to keep Jamil from basically usurping control of Scarabia from Kalim, but outside of that and Jamil’s Overblot, she had liked how she spent the holidays. She went to a holiday party in Scarabia, had a meal with her Octavinelle friends in the Monstro Lounge, and even had a small feast at Ramshackle with Grimm and the dorm ghosts. Everyone had given her gifts, too. It hadn’t been conventional, but it had been her favorite Christmas ever, and she had hoped it would be the start of several traditions. Instead, it had been both the beginning and the end of her list of ‘happy Christmas’s’.

Heracles sat up in her bed and reached over to her bedside table. She rooted around her top drawer, until she found a fancy looking Christmas card signed ‘M.D’. Malleus Draconia. It was the only holiday card Heracles had ever received, and she was so grateful she had it in the one suitcase she still had when she got dragged away from her home. Slowly, Heracles opened the card and read what was written.

My Dearest Child of Man,

I hope this card finds you well. I regret that I am unable to give you this card in person, but I am unable to leave home at this time. My family has not seen me in many moons, so I sent Lilia to deliver this for me. I hope he did not say anything to embarrass you. I know how he can be, but he is merely happy that I have finally made a close friend, even if that friend is a ten year old human child.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays. I heard you are spending the break with Scrabia. I hope they are most hospital to you. Kalim Al-Asim is a gentle soul, and his vice dorm leader Jamil is very capable. I have faith that they will treat you well.

Things have been slow at home, My Grandmother gifted me a new spellbook, and my mother gifted me a new staff. It is topped with an emerald colored gem that reminds me of your eyes. My father gave me a rare tome on curses, and Lilia gave me another of those ‘tamagotchi’ things as you call them. This one is a snake. It seems Lilia has once again perfectly guessed my heart’s desire.

Sebek and Silver are bickering, as always. Or rather, Sebek is picking fights and Sliver does not realize that is what he is doing. Listening to it all gets dull after a while. How I wish I could join you for an evening stroll through Ramshackle, but distance prevents us from doing so.

I miss you, my little treasure. You are perhaps the closest friend I have. Being away from you leaves me longing to hear your voice. I suppose that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I hope we may meet as soon as the holidays are over.

Yours for eternity, Malleus Draconia.

Heracles laughed bitterly. She and Malleushadtaken that stroll once he returned, but the ironic thing was he had told her the same thing he had written on the card when summer break rolled around. He had said that the first thing he wanted to do when they both returned to school was take a moonlit stroll, and he had told Heracles to keep in touch with him. He had said that after all the trouble he put her through with his Overblot, he wanted to spend the summer making things right. Heracles had told him that it was alright, that he didn’t need to do anything, but Malleus had insisted.

He never got the chance to make things up to her. He never got the chance to take that moonlit stroll with her, because she wastakenand he-

“Hera?”, Neville questioned in a groggy voice. He had just woken up. Heracles quickly wiped the tears that had appeared in her eyes and stuffed the card back into her nightstand’s drawer before Neville could see. Heracles then forced a smile and turned to look at Neville.

“Morning, Nev.”, she told him, trying to keep the sadness out of her voice. Neville however, still noticed her distress and frowned at her.

“Are you alright?”, he asked her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but Heracles feltoff.Heracles kept her fake smile on her face.

“Never better. Say, why don’t you go and open your presents? I know you’ve got some waiting for you downstairs for sure.”, Heracles lied. Neville’s frown deepened, but he didn’t say anything and got up to go check the tree in the Slytherin common room. He knew Heracles would just keep denying that anything was wrong and he would get nowhere with her. He knew her well enough to understand that much.

A few minutes of silence passed in Heracles’s dorm room. She sat there wallowing in her depressing thoughts, when she heard footsteps rushing up the stairs. Heracles looked at the door in surprise when an ecstatic Neville slammed it open. Heracles was about to ask him if he got some really nice present he wanted to show her, when interrupted her with his own exclamation.

“Hera, come downstairs! You’ve got presents!”, Neville exclaimed, and Heracles bolted out of bed. She didn’t think anyone would give her presents. She thought the Marauder’s Map would be all she would get, aside from something small from Neville.

To her shock, Heracles entered the Slytherin common room to find two christmas trees in the place of the one that had been there the night before. One was decorated in gold and red, and the other in silver and green. Each one had presents underneath them. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the trees were meant for her and Neville specifically. Heracles went to the silver and green tree and felt the boxes and bags with awe. She had never seen so many gifts before, let alone ones directed at her. Heracles looked back at her friend hesitantly, unable to believe what was happening. Neville stood behind her and grinned widely.

“Well go on, open them!”, he urged, speaking excitedly, as if Heracles’s presents were his own. And Heracles didn’t protest. She grabbed the first box, wrapped in the same emerald green wrapping paper as every other present under her tree, and tore into it.

A few hours of unwrapping and surprise passed, and by the time noon came around, Heracles was surrounded by a plethora of new possessions. To her surprise, countless people (some of whom she had never even met) had sent her gifts. Mrs. Weasley, the twins’s mother, sent her a monogrammed, emerald green and black jumper, a matching scarf, and a tin full of cookies and other treats. With all of the gifts had been a short letter. Apparently, Fred and George talked about her every time they wrote home, and Mrs. Weasley wanted to thank her for being such good friends to her boys and keeping them from getting detention as much as they normally did. There was so much maternal love in the letter that Heracles ended up crying and scaring the crap out of poor Neville, who did his best to comfort her by awkwardly hugging her. Heracles had never been treated with so much motherly love before. She had kept the jumper, scarf, cookie tin and letter neat and out of the way as she opened her other presents, treating them like priceless artifacts, and silently vowed to thank Molly Weasley profusely the day they met in person

And it wasn’t just Mrs. Weasley that sent her gifts. Her husband and several of her sons did as well. Arthur Weasley sent her what appeared to be a bracelet made out of small gears, as well as a several page long list of questions on what several non-magical objects were. Heracles answered every question with patience and detail that she rarely gave to anyone on earth and had Hedwig carry her answers as well as several ‘thank you’ letters off to the Weasley residence.

The oldest Weasley son, Bill, sent her a book on Egyptian curses and a rather nice pair of black dragonhide combat boots. Charlie sent her a book on Norwegian Ridgebacks and pair of earrings made from the fangs of a Hungarian Horntail, after assuring her the fangs were ethically acquired. Percy, who Heracles had never met despite them both attending the same school, sent her magical stationary. Heracles didn’t use magical stationary because of how inconvenient it was, so she just shoved it back in the gift box and resolved to put it under her bed as back-up’s in case Neville broke an inkwell or lost a quill for the seventeenth time that year. The twins, to Heracles’s surprise, sent her even more gifts. Joke items, candy and wizard crackers overflowed from two green gift bags with each twin’s first initial on them. Heracles would have to send them a letter telling them not to give her so much next time. The map was more than enough, and she didn’t want them spending their money on her when she knew they weren’t particularly wealthy.

Ronald gave her nothing, as was expected. But his younger sister Ginny, much to Heracles’s surprise, did give her something. Like Percy, Heracles had never met her either, but the girl had sent her a box of exploding bonbons and a very cute, crochet green snake plush the size of the real thing. Heracles named it Jamil.

The Weasley’s gifts, much to Heracles’s continued shock, didn’t make up all of the gifts she received. The next gift she had opened was one from Neville. It was a rare book on Herbology from his family’s personal library, one she wouldn’t find in Flourish and Blotts. Hagrid had also sent her a gift; it consisted of a few sweets he had made, some interesting rocks he had found in the Forbidden Forest, and a giant patchwork blanket that could cover Norbert comfortably. Heracles immediately started munching on the extremely hard sweets without hesitation, much to Neville’s horror. She didn’t want to be rude and not eat them, and besides, she had eaten Lilia’s cooking. If she could eat that, then she could eat anything.

After that, Heracles opened a gift that, much to her surprise, was from Augusta Longbottom. It was very long, and Heracles was taken aback to find that the gift was a Nimbus 2000 racing broom. Heracles really had no idea how to react. Nimbus 2000’s were the most expensive brooms on the market, and while she could most definitely afford one, she felt it was a waste of money despite the fact broom riding was one of her favorite hobbies in Twisted Wonderland. She was so busy with her research that she thought she would never use it, but apparently Augusta was of a different opinion.

Heracles felt the wood of the broom reverently, and eventually she stumbled across a note tied to the tip of the broom. Reaching for it, Heracles read the neat writing of the Longbottom matriarch. Heracles laughed. The note was basically a ‘thank you’ note for taking care of Neville, and it said that ‘if she was going to keep catching her grandson when he fell off his broom, she was going to need something better than some old Comet 260’. Heracles had laughed harder than she had in a while at that. Who knew Neville’s grandmother had such a wicked sense of humor?

After that, there had been two more gifts. One simply wrapped in brown tissue paper with a small note attached, and one wrapped in gleaming silver paper that Heracles was sure was expensive enough to be a gift all on its own. Heracles opened the silver gift first, and was surprised to find that the object that laid within was an old, beat up potions textbook. Heracles and Neville both stared at the book in confusion.

“An old textbook?”, Heracles questioned in confusion, turning the book onto it’s back, as if she would get a hint to why she had been given it if she looked on the back.

“Why would someone give you an old copy of ‘Advanced Potion Making’?”, Neville questioned. Heracles shook her head.

“No clue.”, she responded. Then she opened the book from the back, and was surprised to find something written on the inside of the back cover in neat handwriting.

“‘This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince’... “, Heracles read aloud. Neville blinked at the words.

“Who the bloody hell is the ‘Half-Blood Prince’?”, he questioned. Heracles shrugged.

“No idea. But there’s more writing.”, she said as she started flipping through the pages of the textbook. Each one was filled with corrected recipes, sarcastic commentary and margin notes. Heracles grinned wickedly when she saw this. Most of the recipe improvements made the potions look similar to ones from Twisted Wonderland, so she knew they were good. Her grin widened when she saw a particular spell written in the margin of a certain page.

“Look; ‘Sectumsempra. For enemies’. Sounds useful. I wonder if I could- ”, Heracles read with a curious glee. She didn’t know what Sectumsempra was, but judging from the fact that the latin in the spell loosely translated to ‘always sever’, Heracles had a feeling it was a kind of cutting curse. The girl’s grin widened with a viciousness she hadn’t felt in a while. She hadn’t tried a cutting curse on anyone yet. Perhaps she could test it out on Malfoy the next time he-

“Hera!”, Neville barked at her, cutting off her musings. Heracles looked up at him, her grin fading and her face turning confused. She didn’t know what Neville had suddenly called out to her for. Neville gave her a deeply worried look.

“Why don’t you put that book away for now? You still have another present to open.”, Neville suggested. Heracles simply stared at him for a moment, before nodding.

“Sure.”, she agreed, before sitting the textbook down and walking over to the tree to get her other gift.

Neville stared at her with a pale face and thin lips as she walked away from him. He didn’t like how Heracles acted when she read that book. It was like she turned… angrier. More bitter. More vindictive. It was a side of her he only saw when she was at her worst, after she showed up to breakfast looking like hell because of what she called a ‘rough night’. ‘Rough nights’ were happening more often than usual since Halloween, Neville realized. When rough nights happened, it was like Heracles was ripping at the seams and Neville didn’t like it. It made him worry about her, especially when she grinned that awful grin. When she grinned like that… it was as if she wasn’t all there. As if she had gone mad with bitterness, vengeance and anger.

It made Neville worried. Not for himself, but for his friend. He knew what madness looked like, he had seen it in his parents eyes every time he visited them at St. Mungo’s. Heracles wasn’t mad, not yet. But she would be if she kept on like she was, shutting herself away in her lab and never seeming to sleep. Neville knew Heracles had to take Dreamless Sleep potions to sleep more than a few hours. He had seen her take them when he started staying in her room, and he knew the doses she was taking weren’t healthy. He also knew she was taking unhealthy amounts of Pepper-Up potions to stay awake. But he never brought it up, because he knew Heracles would just avoid his question like she did with most questions concerning her well-being.

Neville wasn’t stupid. He knew Heracles was hiding things from him. Like why she was so dead set on making magic mirrors, or who these ‘friends’ of hers from ‘far away’ were. There were times the girl would just stare off, her green eyes glazed over as she relived some memory Neville wasn’t privy to. Heracles had seen some things that would make his skin crawl, of that Neville was certain. And she would never tell him what those things were. Whether it was because she didn’t trust him, or because she couldn’t bring herself to speak of these things, Neville couldn’t tell.

Neville was worried about Heracles. He was worried he was going to lose her to herself, and that potions textbook only heightened his worries. He hoped Heracles would shove it into the back of her trunk and forget about it, but he knew that was unlikely. The girl never neglected books she showed interest in.

Neville forced a cheerful smile on his face as Heracles started opening her last present, kneeling beside the tree as she did so. The last thing he wanted to do was upset Heracles by acting off. He was concerned about his friend, but Neville was aware that there were really only a few things he could do if he wanted to help her; be loyal, be supportive, and above all, try to make her as happy as he could.

Neville Longbottom may not have been the bravest Gryffindor, or the most charismatic, but he was one of the most loyal. Of that he was certain. Because at the end of the day, he knew he would do anything for the girl that let him sit with her on the train to Hogwarts, the one he felt in his heart was the sister he had never had.

As Heracles held up what could only be an invisibility cloak for him to see, Neville suppressed a slight chuckle. Perhaps Heracles was right; perhaps he should have been in Hufflepuff. It would certainly fit with his feelings of loyalty towards her.

—--------------------------------------------------

Heracles walked around the castle corridors, her father’s invisibility cloak over her head. She didn’t need the trinket to avoid being spotted, but it did save her the trouble of actively having to avoid Filch. It was the night after Christmas, and she was taking the chance to return to her lab for the first time since break had started. It was the last night before students returned to the school, after all. She needed to take advantage of the lack of people as much as possible now that she no longer had any celebrations to preoccupy her time.

Earlier that day, Heracles had opened her final present, only to discover that it was an invisibility cloak. A very nice one, one that had been in her family for generations and apparently had belonged to her father, who gave it toDumbledoreof all people. Who in turn returned it to her with a note he probably thought was mysterious in his refusal to sign it, but in reality was the exact opposite given the fact that it was written with the same green ink as Heracles’s acceptance letter.

Heracles knew that her parents had both fought against the Dark Lord and that Dumbledore had been the one to lead the charge, but she still didn’t entirely like or trust the man. Not when he had tried poking around her head two times and seemed just as incapable of doing his job as Crowley was. Heracles honestly wondered what people saw in Dumbledore as a leader. All he seemed to do in her experience was show up to events, say cryptic things that made no sense and do absolutely nothing to help the people in the school he was in charge of, despite the fact he was allegedly the most powerful wizard alive. Everyone praised him as a ‘wise mentor figure’, but Heracles thought he was an old man on a rather lofty pedestal.

Heracles continued to climb up the stairs to the third floor corridor, clutching Ortho’s weekly steak in one hand. He had been a good boy lately, so he was getting twice his usual amount of red meat. Heracles started to climb up another staircase, but paused when it suddenly moved. This was not all that surprising, as staircases at Hogwarts had an annoying habit of moving for no reason. Most of the castle’s inhabitants wrote this off as a charming quirk of the building, but Heracles saw this as a great annoyance. How was anyone supposed to go to their classes if the staircases kept moving? Not that she went to class, but it was the principle of the thing.

Heracles, instead of being put out at the third floor corridor, was put out at some random corridor she had never been in. she sighed and walked into the corridor. She knew the staircase wouldn’t change again for a while, so she might as well just find another way to the third floor corridor.

Heracles walked down the hallway, not paying any mind to the doors there, until she spotted one that was cracked open slightly. Curiously, Heracles stopped walking and stared at the door when she saw something glinting inside, like metal. Heracles reached for the door and opened it, and was surprised to find that the glinting object in the room was a mirror. Heracles walked towards the mirror, removing the invisibility cloak from over her head. For some reason, she felt a draw to the object.

‘Perhaps it’s a magic mirror. Maybe if I study it, I can find a way to make a mirror to finally take me home.’, Heracles wondered, but she knew deep down it was unlikely. Despite all of this, the mirror continued to call to her. She was even more curious than before.

The mirror was ornate and golden, with an ancient sort of feel to it. Heracles didn’t look in the glass first; rather, she looked at the top. The redhead girl’s brow furrowed when she read the odd inscription at the top.

‘Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi… ‘, Heracles read mentally. At first, she was confused as to what gibberish the words inscribed at the top of the mirror were written in, but then she reread the words.

‘Reverse the words and rearrange the spaces, and it says… ‘, Heracles thought as she maneuvered each letter of the words on the mirror until she reached an order that made sense. Heracles’s brow unfurrowed when she realized the correct order of the words and spaces.

“‘I show you not your face but your heart’s desire.’”, Heracles read aloud. Then she glanced downwards, finally looking in the glass. Her eyes widened and she gasped at what she saw in place of her reflection.

“... Guys?”

Notes:

I think we all know who Heracles sees in the mirror. Three guesses who gave her the potions textbook. The Weasleys will not be bashed in this, except for maybe Ron and Percy, but I don't like the term 'bashing'. It makes everything about a character in a fic feel very one-dimensional, but that's just me. By the way, Malleus's card was not him trying to be romantic. Keep in mind, he met Heracles when she was ten, and she's still just eleven. He was just being poetic and talking like a grandpa because our favorite goth gargoyle-lover sees Heracles as his best friend and wants to compliment her as such. We do not condone pedophilia in this house. Next time, Heracles finally meets Dumbledore!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 15: Year One: Warnings, What Was Lost, and Love

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles went to see the mirror every night, after leaving her lab for the day. She slept even less as a result of this, and she began bringing pillows and blankets with her in case she was blessed with the rare reprieve of sleep while she stared into the mirror.

Every night, Heracles would sit in front of the mirror for hours, staring at the image within with longing eyes. In place of her reflection, the reflection of a tired and worn girl, was a cheerful girl with shining green eyes and a smile as bright as the sun, surrounded by several young men and a single cat-like creature. Every night, she would reach out for the people beyond the glass, calling out to them. She would caress their faces and talk to them, urging them to talk to her. To come get her and take her from this horrible world. To take her home, so she could finish off her three remaining years of schooling at Night Raven College with her friends and achieve great things with them, like she had promised them all.

‘Why can’t they see me? Why can’t they hear me? I’m here guys, I’m here! Why won’t you talk to me?!’, Heracles screamed in her head one night. It was well after Christmas break had ended. Everyone was back in the castle. She had been repeating the cycle of longing and frustration for weeks, and even though Heracles knew deep down what she saw in the mirror was fake, she didn’t want to believe it. She didn’t want acknowledge that the smiling faces in the mirror weren’t really her friends. That they weren’t really her boys.

Heracles placed her hand gently upon the glass. She watched with sad eyes as Vil seemed to scold the her within the mirror for having her uniform tie in a crooked bow (because that girl in the mirror wasn’t her. She was too happy, too bright. Heracles hadn’t been like that in a long time). The beautiful blonde kneeled down and fixed the tie while the Heracles in the mirror giggled. Heracles could almost hear his mutterings.

‘Apple Blossom, you need to take better care of your appearance! Remember, first impressions are everything! If someone meets you for the first time today, do you want their first impression of you to be a crooked bow?’, Vil would say gently as he got the bow around her neck just right.

Heracles snorted bitterly. She hadn’t taken much care in her appearance for months now. As much as she knew taking care of herself was important, she felt her research came before self-care, even though she knew her friends in Twisted Wonderland would disagree. Since she had arrived at Hogwarts, she had only worn makeup to cover the bags under her eyes so she wouldn’t worry Neville or the twins. She still kept up with her basic hygiene, but her hair was usually a mess and her skin had seen better days because of all the new scars she had (working with sharp metals and glass all day in a dimly lit lab tended to do that). Heracles ran a hand through her blood-red hair and sighed at all the tangles. She would have to brush it later.

Heracles watched with bitterness, envy and sadness as her mirror-self was hoisted onto a grinning Leona’s shoulders with a giggle while Vil scolded Leona soundlessly for being so rough with her. Why couldn’t that be the real her? Why did she have to be stuck in a school she hates, with people she hates, in a world she hates? She hadn’t done anything to deserve this! She had done her best to be helpful and kind to those in Twisted Wonderland, and this was the thanks she got?! Being sent into a world that didn’t give two sh*ts about her and left her on a f*cking doorstep because they didn’t want to deal with her?! It wasn’t fair!

‘Life’s not fair, is it?’, Leona had told her once, before his Overblot, before they became friends, and Heracles was now inclined to agree. Life wasn’t fair, and it never would be.

Heracles clenched the hand that caressed the glass of the mirror into a fist, a furious scowl on her face. But that was okay, she thought. Because if life wasn’t going to play fair, then she wouldn’t play fair either. She hadn’t been playing fair since she arrived on earth, and she wasn’t about to change her tactics now.

“This is not how I imagined I would be meeting you, Miss Potter.”, an old, wisened voice called out from behind her. Heracles quickly turned around, and glared fiercely at the man who had intruded in on her. She immediately knew who it was.

“You. What do you want?”, Heracles barked coldly at Dumbledore. Dumbledore raised his hands up in surrender.

“I merely came here for the sake of the mirror, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore explained, and Heracles’s harsh look died down slightly. She believed him, but she still didn’t trust him. She looked back at the mirror. Her reflection was now chatting animatedly with Ortho the person and Grim, who was on her reflection’s shoulder.

“This mirror… it shows us our deepest desires of our hearts, doesn’t it?”, Heracles asked carefully. Dumbledore nodded.

“Indeed it does. It shows us nothing less than the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts.”, Dumbledore agreed, and he looked into the mirror. Heracles could recognize the longing and desperation in his eyes. It was the same look she had whenever she looked into the mirror.

“‘The Mirror of Erised, said to have been created by an unknown French wizard in the eleventh century, is a window into the deepest desires of mankind. It shows the desires of one’s heart, but will never manifest them into being. The happiest man alive could look into the mirror and see nothing but himself, but the most miserable man alive would see everything he will never have and be driven mad.’”, Heracles quoted effortlessly. Dumbledore looked at her curiously.

“You have researched this mirror?”, he asked. Heracles nodded.

“I didn’t know what it was. I don’t like not knowing things. I had hoped it was a portal to what we desire, rather than a mere viewing window. But my hopes were in vain, it seems.”, Heracles explained as she looked at her happy reflection in the mirror. Dumbledore gave her a knowing look.

“You are incredibly intuitive to have figured it out so quickly.”, Dumbledore remarked, and Heracles looked at him suspiciously. He was trying to get to know her, but she wouldn’t reveal anything. She didn’t trust him, not since the sorting and certainly not since Halloween. Heracles looked into Malleus’s reptilian green eyes within the mirror, his fanged smile a comforting sight, regardless of whether or not it was the real deal.

“I have common sense, something most of the people in this school don’t have, so it would seem. Including your staff. Leaving the fate of your students in the hands of an eleven year old? I hesitate to call you a headmaster, because your behavior certainly does not reflect one.”, Heracles told the old man coldly. Dumbledore gave a tired sigh.

“You seemed to have control over the situation, and I saw no reason to stop you.”, Dumbledore explained. Heracles scoffed.

“You saw no reason to stop me? More like you saw no reason to do your job when someone was doing it for you! I know your type, Dumbledore. I know your type well.”, Heracles responded. Dumbledore gave her a careful look and nodded.

“Perhaps you do, and perhaps you are right.”, he agreed. Heracles continued to glance at him with suspicion.

“Why on earth would you let a troll enter this school? It couldn’t wander in on its own, there are wards. Someone brought it here, and I assume since no one was punished for it, you either have no idea who it is or you know and are okay with it.”, Heracles hissed at the old man, wanting answers for the Halloween incident. The Headmaster gave her a tired look.

“You would be correct. Someone did bring it into the school, and I let them. It was brought here to guard a very precious artifact.”, Dumbledore revealed. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“The Philosopher's Stone?”, she guessed. Dumbledore stared at her in surprise.

“You know it is here?”, he asked. Heracles snorted sharply.

“It wasn’t that hard to find out. And you do know someone is trying to steal it, right? That’s why you brought the troll in. I would suggest actually trying tofindthe person that’s after the stone, rather than bringing in more mediocre protections. It’s better to get rid of the source of the problem, rather than just treat the symptoms.”, Heracles advised.

She wasn’t trying to be helpful for the sake of being helpful, she was trying to get rid of Quirrell without getting her hands dirty. Dealing with Quirrell herself would be a hassle, and if Dumbledore could deal with him for her, all the better. She couldn’t outright tell Dumbledore who the attempted thief was, otherwise Quirrell might find out and come after her, defeating the whole point of telling Dumbledore in the first place. Plus Heracles didn’t want to tell him the whole truth. She wanted to mess with him, to make him frustrated. If he wanted to mess with her head literally, then she was going to mess with his figuratively. It was poetic. Dumbledore looked at her with suspicion.

“Is there something you wish to tell me, Miss Potter?”, he asked the girl beside him, who reminded him so much of his estranged lover in both wit and personality. Heracles smirked at him.

“Nothing of note. But I would recommend taking a closer look at your staff.”, she told him. Even if the old man didn’t find out Quirrell was the thief, he might still find out about certain teachers' terrible teaching habits by taking a ‘closer look’ as she put it. It would be a win-win for her. Dumbledore gave her a slow, reluctant nod.

“I will take your advice into consideration.”, the old man said. There was a moment of silence. Heracles stared at the mirror again. She was with Kalim now, playing with his opulent jewelry while he carried her in his arms. Then Heracles spoke up out of the blue.

“Who is it you see within the mirror, Dumbledore?”, she asked the man, not using his title of headmaster. He had yet to earn it in her eyes. Dumbledore gave her a fake, soft smile.

“I see myself holding socks.”, he responded. Heracles laughed scathingly. The old man was a good actor, she would admit. But she could see the lie in his eyes. He was like Jamil had been, in a way; hiding countless lies and feelings behind a wall of superb acting. It was a tactic Heracles herself was familiar with.

“Don’t lie to me. Who do you see?”, she asked again, making a point to use the word ‘who’ instead of ‘what’. She knew no one could look that longingly at an object. Dumbledore’s smile dropped and he looked into the mirror, avoiding eye contact with Heracles.

“The man I loved.”, he responded. Heracles nodded, and Dumbledore looked at her again.

“And who is it you see?”, he asked. Heracles looked into the mirror, at her laughing reflection. Her face was completely blank.

“The people I care about more than anything.”, she responded truthfully. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow at the word ‘care’.

“And they are still with us?”, he questioned. Heracles didn’t look at him as she answered.

“They are still alive, yes, but they are not with me. We are kept apart by something I’m starting to doubt I will ever overcome.”, Heracles responded darkly, and Dumbledore gave her a look of understanding.

“Perhaps we are more alike than we think, you and I.”, Dumbledore remarked. Heracles looked at him in bitter disbelief and cackled mockingly. This old man mocked her pain by comparing himself to her? For what purpose? To get into her good graces?

“You and I arenothingalike. You have come to terms with your pain. I can see it in your eyes. You acknowledge that you will never have what you desire, but I willneveracknowledge that. Iwillhave what I desire. I will return to those happy days, no matter the cost.”, Heracles spat, vowing her goals resolutely. Dumbledore gave her a dark look.

“Aspirations like yours have driven men mad, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore warned, but Heracles placed a hand on her chest and glared at him viciously.

“Then I will gladly go mad to find my way back to them! Sanity is nothing to me! I would give that and more to see them again!”, Heracles declared passionately. Dumbledore looked at her with nostalgia in his eyes. She sounded just like Grindelwald when he had something to fight for. Heracles turned her gaze away from Dumbledore and looked at her friends in the mirror.

“You and I are completely different. Whereas you desire one person, I desire many. Whereas you have given up on ever getting that person back again, I will never give up on getting back to those I love. Everyday I suffer. Everyday I yearn from those people I was ripped away from. Everyday I try to find my way back to them again, so that we can live as we once did, youthful and uncaring of what the future might hold so long as we had each other. You and I are not alike, Dumbledore. Not in the slightest.”, Heracles told Dumbledore in a sad, bitter voice. Dumbledore gave her a sympathetic, understanding look and shook his head.

“You… you do not understand, my dear girl. You and I are far more alike than you believe. I too wish to return to those carefree days, when I still had my family and the man I loved. I too wish to return to those days of carefree ambition. To before I knew better. To before I knew true suffering. You and I… we are more alike than I believe you will ever realize.”, Dumbledore told her, placing a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder. Heracles violently shrugged it off, but said nothing. She still didn’t trust Dumbledore, regardless of what he was saying.

“Do you love them?”, Dumbledore asked suddenly. Heracles stared at the mirror and her reflection, Ace, Deuce and Grimm all laughed together. Heracles knew the hidden connotations of what the old man was asking and gave a bittersweet smile.

“That’s the thing; I don’t know. I don’t know if I loved them the same way you loved your lover, because I was taken from them too soon. I was too young to understand the difference between loving them and…lovingthem. I may still be too young. I never got the chance to see if what I felt for them all was platonic or… romantic. Perhaps when I see them again, I will know.”, Heracles revealed, tears welling slightly in her own eyes. Dumbledore nodded in understanding.

“Perhaps you will.”, he agreed. Things were silent for a while as Heracles continued to stare into the mirror. Then she spoke.

“I suppose this mirror will be moved by morning?”, she inquired as she watched her reflection braid flowers into Idia’s long, flaming blue hair like she used to. Idia’s face was red with embarrassment, while her reflection’s was bright with joy. Dumbledore nodded again.

“It will. I expect you not to go looking for it, Miss Potter. It does not do well to dwell on the illusions of our desires.”, he said, speaking from experience. Heracles snorted.

“Don’t worry about that. The magic of seeing what I lost has long since vanished. I just… couldn’t come to terms with it, I suppose.”, Heracles assured. Dumbledore nodded and gave her a soft look.

“Good. If that is the case, then you are far more sensible than I myself was.”, Dumbledore told her. Then he placed another hand on Heracles’s shoulder. Heracles didn’t shrug it off.

“You remind me of him, you know. You act just like he did. You carry yourself as he did.”, Dumbledore told her, clearly referring to his unnamed lover. Heracles gave him a fierce glare.

“But I am not him. I willneverbe him.”, Heracles hissed at him, quoting the same phrase she told Snape in regards to her mother in a much more malicious tone. Dumbledore nodded.

“I know, and that is a good thing. There should never be another him, because no matter how much I loved him, he was not a good man. And quite frankly… sometimes I doubt that I am a good man, either. You are different, Heracles. You are good, and you will remain good. I know you will.”, Dumbledore told her. Heracles gave him a simmering glare. She hated the man in front of her, and she hated when he was right.

“I still don’t trust you. I may never trust you.”, she warned the man. Dumbledore sighed and nodded again in acknowledgement.

“I know, and I do not blame you.”, he said. There was silence again for a while, before he finally removed his hand from Heracles’s shoulder.

“I apologize for attempting to use Legilimency on you. I was curious about you from Minerva’s description of your first meeting and I wanted to learn more about you, but I clearly went about it the wrong way. I will make no further attempts to violate your mind. Though, I must admit, your Occlumency shields were rather interesting. You used a muggle song, didn’t you?”, Dumbledore said. Heracles gave a stiff nod.

“Yes. It’s well-known for the jokes surrounding it.”, Heracles answered, notably not saying that she forgave him, because she didn’t. Not yet. Like respect, the old man would have to earn forgiveness. Dumbledore, despite realizing all of this himself, gave her a genuine smile.

“It’s nice to see you retain a sharp sense of humor, Miss Potter. I find that is a critical attribute in a well-rounded individual.”, the bearded old man commented, before continuing to speak with a serious look on his face.

“I will cease my attempts to call you into my office, since you clearly do not want to be spoken to, and I will turn a blind eye to your schooling. I have a feeling you are trying to accomplish something of great personal importance, and so I will leave the issue of your attendance be. Do your assignments. Take your tests. I will keep Minerva and the others from failing you on account of your attendance record.”, Dumbledore vowed. Heracles scoffed.

“I don’t need your help. It’s against school regulations to fail a student based on attendance, anyways. If they do try to fail me, I’ll take them to court and sue them for all they have.”, Heracles told the man. Dumbledore nodded sagely.

“Yes, I am well aware of our regulations, but I’m sure you’ve realized certain members of staff do not pay heed to them. They do however, pay heed to me. I will ensure they leave you be, so you may save yourself the solicitor’s fee, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore responded. Heracles gave the man a harsh look. Despite his accommodating actions, she still retained a great lack of trust for the old man.

“I’ll sue them if they try anything else outside of that, like negligence or grading bias. If they get sacked as a result of any lawsuits, you can’t blame me. And I expect you to stay out of my affairs.”, Heracles warned the spectacles-clad man. Dumbledore nodded again.

“That, I will do.”, Dumbledore agreed. Heracles held her hand out for him to shake.

“It’s a deal then?”, she asked. She could almost feel Azul’s hand on her shoulder, guiding her actions. Dumbledore took her hand and firmly shook it.

“It’s a deal.”, he said. Heracles quickly took her hand back.

“I’ll be going then.”, she said, and then she left, leaving Dumbledore to his own devices. She still had to get to the lab, after all. Dumbledore watched her go sadly, before turning around to look in the Mirror of Erised once more. His ancient face began to look even older as he stared at his young self, standing beside a young blonde man with dual colored eyes. The bearded old man sighed.

‘It seems you’ve found yet another way to haunt me, Gellert. That girl... that girl is what you could have been, had you not chosen the darkness over me. And I know that she is wise enough not to make the same mistake with those she loves.'

Notes:

I made the conversation between Dumbledore and Heracles pretty long I know, but it was necessary for the plot. Dumbledore will not be 'bashed' here. If he does some hot nonsense, it will be called out, but he will not be hated. Heracles doesn't like him because he tried to get in her head, he reminds her of Crowley and he's done some dumb sh*t. Dumbledore will be treated as what he is; a person with flaws and positive qualities, who makes mistakes and good decisions in more or less equal measure. I'm also thinking about adding Fawkes to the 'creature collection', as you guys put it. First year should be wrapped up in the next two or so chapters, and there should be another interlude too. Next time, thief busting and confronting Quirrellmort!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 16: Year One: Attempted Theft and A Violent Conclusion

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

After the Mirror of Erised incident, things were quiet at Hogwarts. Heracles’s potions ingredients business continued to boom, with her best customers being overworked O.W.L students who were struggling to get all the ingredients necessary for Snape’s complex potions. Norbert got even bigger and had started losing his baby fangs, and Heracles started spending quite a bit of time with Rhea, the unicorn she saved. The equestrian creature had taken to pestering her whenever Heracles entered the Forbidden Forest, letting her ride her and introducing her to the rest of her herd. Heracles also picked up a bit of the unicorn language from the herd leader, much to Rhea’s joy.

The twins continued to wreak havoc, Neville continued to be accident prone and Ronald, Granger and Malfoy continued to be annoying. Dumbledore became less insufferable and was actually now rather tolerable. He kept his promise and kept McGonagall and the other teachers off her back about her attendance, which Heracles appreciated. The old man didn’t seem to understand her warning about Quirrell, however, as the stammering fool stayed in the school’s employ. So Heracles took to using the Marauder’s map to keep tabs on the man by checking on his location every now and again. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to want to go after the stone again anytime soon, which let Heracles focus on her experiments.

Months passed. Heracles made more and more mirrors, but each one failed, and with each failure, Heracles became worse off mentally and physically. The dark circles under her eyes became so pronounced, that not even heavy makeup could cover them entirely. She felt tired the majority of the time and became even more snappy with people who weren’t her friends or acquaintances. Then exams rolled around.

Heracles passed all her final exams with flying colors, even breaking a record with her Transfiguration exam scores, much to McGonagall's annoyance. Heracles had to use her wand during the practical portions so she wouldn’t draw attention though, much to her annoyance. Flitwick wouldn’t shut up about her superb cheering charm at dinner for an entire week after tests, which made Heracles both annoyed at the fact that he wouldn’t shut up and proud of herself. Even the monotone Professor Binns was impressed by her knowledge of the Goblin Wars that she exemplified during his exam. Heracles didn’t make a fuss out of the grades she got, but Granger and Malfoy did, mostly because they were salty thatshegot the top scores in their year and they didn’t. Neville and the twins were happy for her, but they weren’t surprised. They were used to her getting the best grades.

All in all, the final half of her first year was peaceful. Too peaceful. Heracles just knew something was going to go horribly wrong before she left for summer break. Some Overblot level hot nonsense was going to go down before she left the school. She could feel it in her bones

And as it turned out, her bones were right. Heracles cursed as she looked at the Marauder’s map. It was days before the end of term. She was in bed after a long day of her mirrorsnot f*cking working, and had been doing a routine check on the map to make sure Quirrell or some other schmuck wasn’t trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone, and what do you know, Quirrell was trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone. Again. For the first time since Halloween. f*ck.

Heracles jumped up out of bed and threw on her invisibility cloak. She rushed out of the common room and ran to the third floor corridor as fast as she could. She arrived there, she rushed to the door to Ortho’s room and opened it. She was expecting to find her canine friend injured after trying to fight off Quirrell. What she found, however, was Ortho snoring peacefully.

‘He’s asleep.’, Heracles observed. Then she heard harp music. She looked around, and saw an enchanted golden harp playing music in the corner. The girl cursed. She knew music could put Ortho to sleep instantly after using her enchanted shell to help her sleep in his room with him. The three-headed dog had been out in moments after he heard Idia’s soothing voice. Heracles brushed past Ortho and went over to the trap door on the floor, which he was guarding. She opened it and without hesitation, jumped into it.

Heracles fell for a while, until she hit something fuzzy in a moss-like way. With a quiet ‘oof’, Heracles landed in what she knew to be Devil’s Snare. Knowing that all she had to do to get through it was to relax due to having cared for the same kind of plant in her private greenhouse, she simply closed her eyes, laid back on the constrictive plant and let the vines envelop her. Once she was completely enveloped, she fell through the plant and onto the floor of the room below it. After landing on her feet, Heracles took off down a hallway. She pulled out the Marauder’s map, and cursed when she saw Quirrell’s name a ways ahead of her.

“Crap. I’ve gotta catch up.”, Heracles grumbled.

Soon, the girl arrived at a room with a large door and a broomstick, filled with flying keys. It didn’t take a genius for Heracles to figure out what she needed to do to get through. But the girl was suspicious.

“This is too easy.”, she mumbled to herself. There was probably some sad*stic twist to the task. Perhaps the keys would follow her around and try to stab her as she flew. Heracles wouldn’t put it past the f*cked up, backwater of a school she was forced to attend. Not wanting to take any chances, Heracles pulled out her magic pen and pointed it in the air.

“Petrificus Totalus!”, Heracles yelled, and like that, all the keys stopped flying and went crashing down onto the ground. Heracles smirked to herself and grabbed the one key with a broken wing off the ground. She used it to unlock the door and ran down the corridor it opened to.

After walking down the corridor, Heracles arrived at a giant, life-sized wizard chess set. Her eyes widened at the sight.

‘Oh hell no. I don’t like where this is going.’, she thought. She immediately tried to just walk across the board, but the chess pieces pulled out their swords and stopped her. Heracles sighed.

“Okay, so I guess we’re doing this now.”, Heracles said, before going back to the other side of the board. Apparently, she was going to have to play her way across. Heracles sighed again at the convoluted protection for the glorified magic rock known as the Philosopher’s Stone. Why couldn’t Dumbledore just ward the room and be done with it?

“Pawn to D-5.”, Heracles said monotonously, clearly wanting to be anywhere else at the moment as the pawn on her side of the board did as commanded. Then the pawn on the other side of the board moved to G-4, and the game was on.

After several minutes and the murder of several chess pieces, Heracles was about to win the game and walked forward across the now mostly empty board, smelling of victory and mortar. She smirked at the only still standing piece on the opposing side of the board, which was the queen she had just checked.

“Checkmate.”, the girl said, and the queen’s sword clattered to the ground as the piece crumbled to fragments of stone. Heracles picked up the sword off the ground, thinking it might come in handy, and looked at the fallen chess piece blandly.

“Still easier than beating Leona.”, Heracles said to herself, and then she continued on her way.

Next she came to a ring of fire and several bottles. There was something written on a piece of parchment on the table the bottles were on, but Heracles didn’t bother reading it. It was probably some stupid riddle that told her which bottle to drink out of. Heracles liked riddles well enough, but she didn’t really like seeing them inlife or death situations.Heracles, instead, picked up each bottle and sniffed the contents.

“Poison, poison, will probably give me an STD, poison… “, Heracles rattled off to herself as she sniffed each bottle. Vil and Crewel had taught her how to identify potions and poisons based on smell a while back, and that knowledge carried over to earth potions. Once she found a bottle with a liquid in it that smelled like ash, she knew what it was.

“Ah-hah! Flame Retardant potion!”, Heracles declared with a small smirk, and then she threw back the potion like a shot of tequila. Once she drank it all, Heracles brought the bottle away from her lips and gagged at that taste.

“Ugh, why do all the potions here taste like ass?! Do these people not know how artificial flavoring works?!”, Heracles exclaimed. Potions didn’t taste that bad in Twisted Wonderland because people had the sense to flavor the ones meant for ingestion, but apparently no one on earth thought to do that. Heracles huffed in annoyance and slammed the bottle back down onto the table.

“Stupid wizards, stupid lack of sense… “, Heracles grumbled to herself as she walked through the ring of fire without flinching. Once she made it to the other side, she continued down another corridor. She walked for a while, until she stumbled across a man in a purple turban standing in front of the Mirror of Erised. Heracles grinned viciously at the sight.

“Surprise motherf*cker.”, Heracles said with malicious glee. Quirrell turned around and looked at her in surprise.

“You!”, the man cried out. Heracles’s grin widened slightly.

“Me.”, she responded simply. Quirrell looked at her in disbelief.

“How did you know I would be here?! I did everything in my power to hide my intentions!”, Quirrell yelled in shock. Heracles smirked at him.

“f*ck you, that’s how.”, she said. Quirrell glared at her intensely.

“I suppose Dumbledore sent you here to stop me.”, Quirrell guessed. Heracles shook her head.

“Nope, I came here all on my own. I’ve known you were after the stone since Halloween, so I’ve been keeping my eye on you. Though, I wouldn’t put it past Dumbledore to send a literal child to do his bidding. For all the things he’s done to try to help me, I still don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. Or most other headmasters of magical schools, for that matter. They can never seem to do their jobs correctly… ”, Heracles said. Quirrell smirked imperiously at her.

“I suppose I should have known you would come after me. You’re smart. Too smart. You’ve been a danger to me right from the off, especially after Halloween. But that is of no matter. Soon I will have the stone, and you will die here!”, Quirrell declared. Heracles just stared at him blandly, not at all intimidated.

“Uh-huh, yeah that’s nice. Say, could you take off your turban and let whoever’s behind it speak? I want to get this villainous monologue over with so I can kill you and go back to bed.”, Heracles said bluntly. Quirrell looked at her in shock.

“H-how did you- ?!”, he started to yell, his usual stutter shining through in his distress. Heracles cut him off with a glare.

“You’re not smart enough to come up with this idea on your own, nor get past all the traps alone. So I can only assume that whatever I saw breathing underneath your turban on Halloween is what’s really pulling the strings. Now take off the damn turban and show me who I’m supposed to cuss out for ruining the first real amount of sleep I’ve gotten in weeks.”, Heracles explained. Quirrell’s face turned red with offense and anger, but he did as the girl demanded, turned around and took his turban off, revealing the ugliest face Heracles had ever seen on the back of his head. Heracles looked at the face with disgust.

“Ew. On second thought, put the turban back on. I liked it better when I couldn’t see that ugly-ass face on the back of your head.”, Heracles swiftly demanded. The ugly face glared at her with its evil, beady eyes.

“Heracles Potter… we meet again at last. I am- “, the face started to say in a raspy voice. Heracles glared at it.

“Voldemort. Yeah yeah, bitch! I know!”, the redhead interrupted with an eye roll. The face looked at her with shock.

“How did you- ?!”, the face started to ask, echoing it’s host’s earlier words, but Heracles interrupted it again.

“I figured you might not be dead. My luck is terrible enough to allow for that, at any rate. Though I wasn’t expecting you to possess that dumbass Quirrell, but hey I guess everyone makes mistakes.”, Heracles said scathingly. Quirrell yelled out a ‘hey!’ of offense, and Heracles sneered at him.

“Oh shut up! This entire year, all you’ve done is assign busy work and bore Neville and the twins to death with your lectures! You’re an idiot who let wizarding Hitlerliterallylive in your head rent free, so shut the f*ck up! You’re a dumbass, deal with it!”, Heracles said, and Quirrell decided he had been roasted enough for one day, so did as he was told, shutting up and taking his L. Heracles then returned her attention to Voldemort.

“Now where were we? Oh yeah, I was explaining how I knew your raggedy ass wasn’t dead. I just figured my luck was terrible enough to allow for you to return to haunt my ass. And also because from your chapter in ‘Modern Wizarding History’, you seemed like the type of guy to survive a literal instant death curse on nothing but pure spite. Which sounds like something I would do, but I digress.”, Heracles continued to explain. Voldemort glared at her.

“Well none of that matters, because soon I will have the stone and finally do away with you! I have spent the last ten years- !”, Voldemort started to rant. Heracles stood there, barely paying attention as the ugly face ranted about how he was not entirely dead and how he had spent the last ten years possessing animals in Albania while plotting ways to return to power. The only reason Heracles didn’t tune him out entirely was because she had a feeling all of this information would come in handy later.

‘What is it with villains and stupidly monologuing about their plans?’, Heracles thought with exasperation. Did everyone on earth have a common sense deficiency, or was it just the wizards?

After a while of listening to Voldemort stupidly reveal key information about himself, Heracles slowly tuned back into what he was saying as his monologue started to end. Voldemort started rattling off about how Heracles was his ‘ultimate foe’ and about all the stupid hyphenated titles she had been bequeathed by the wizarding populus. Heracles was surprised he hadn’t already shut up by now.

‘This bitch is still talking?!’, Heracles thought in bewilderment as she listened to all the titles Voldemort was referring to her by.

“-The great Heracles Potter, who ‘defeated me’ when she was just an infant. An anomaly, theorized to be anything from a powerful dark witch to immortal. The savior of the wizarding world who strikes fear into the hearts of dark wizards- “, Voldemort rambled, and Heracles scowled at the word ‘savior’. She was not a savior, not to the wizarding world at least. Heracles quickly decided she had had enough of Voldemort’s talk and smirked as she got an idea about how to mess with him.

“Oh you dirty bitch, work the shaft!”, Heracles said, cutting off Voldemort for what seemed like the millionth time that night. Voldemort looked at her in affronted bewilderment.

“... I beg your pardon?”, he slowly hissed. Heracles chuckled.

“Oh, sorry. See, I like to dirty talk when someone’ssucking my dick.”,Heracles’s smirk widened before falling halfway through her sentence and she scowled in annoyance. Voldemort gave her the maddest face Heracles had ever seen on someone with no nose.

“You insolent child! I am the Dark Lord- “, Voldemort started to exclaim indignantly, but Heracles just gave him a co*cky grin and tilted her head as she interrupted him yet again.

“And I’m Carmen Sandiego! Guess where I am?!”, the girl bit back mockingly. Voldemort started to look even more furious.

“You infuriating girl! I am the man who killed your parents, the one who left you alone in this miserable world! You should be frozen with fear and hatred! I amtryingto intimidate you!”, Voldemort yelled in frustration, seeing that none of his usual tactics for getting into people’s heads were working on the eleven year old girl who had destroyed his body all those years ago. Heracles gave him a blank look.

“I know. But you’re failing. I’m not intimidated, and I’m sorry for that. It’s just that I’m so agitated, because this noseless little sh*t woke me up at- “, Heracles started to say as she pulled the pocket watch Trey had given her out of her pocket and quickly checked the time, before putting the watch back and continuing to speak. Subtly, without Voldemort noticing, Heracles grabbed her magic pen while she was putting her watch away and slipped it up her sleeve.

“- three o’clock in the goddamn morning, tried to steal something before failing miserably at it, and is now trying to impress me like I’m his alcoholic father.”, Heracles continued to say, before smirking widely.

“Be a dear and grab Daddy another beer, would you? Sectumsempra!”, Heracles quipped, before pulling out her magic pen, catching her opponent by surprise and casting the curse she had read in the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book. The curse hit Voldemort and Quirrell, and the two were soon screaming in agony as their body was covered in deep lacerations. Heracles walked over to the man’s writhing body and tilted her head curiously, showing no reaction to the blood pooling at her feet.

“So that’s what that curse does.”, Heracles muttered to herself as she watched Quirrell and his master suffer.

Heracles hadn’t used any of the spells in the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book before now, after Neville had urged her not to. He didn’t like the look of the most of the spells in the book, he had said. He was fine with her following the potions recipes in the book after she proved they were accurate and very helpful, but everything else made him uneasy. Heracles had listened to him because she didn’t want to frighten her friend, but Voldemort could be an exception to her self-imposed rule, she supposed. Parent murders were good ethical exceptions.

Heracles didn’t hesitate after that. It was like some sort of blinding rage appeared out of nowhere and overtook her. Or maybe it had been there since she saw Voldemort on the back of Quirrell’s head, and she had suppressed it so she wouldn’t lose her cool. She had no more quips, no more jokes or annoyed remarks to give. Suddenly, all she had was wicked,wickedwrath.

Heracles took the sword she had taken from the chess trap and stabbed Quirrell in the chest with it, showing no mercy. Screams echoed off the walls of the chamber she was in, and blood spurted onto her face and clothes. She counted every sickening strike robotically in her head, as if she was counting the number of ceiling tiles above her and not how many stab wounds it took to kill her teacher and his parasite.One, two, three, fourresounded in Heracles’s head as she did what she had never had to do before, not even when faced with seven Overblots or her childhood abuse at the orphanage. It was almost funny; she had finally snapped, but it wasn’t because of Crowley or an Overblot. It was because of she could have just stunned and been done with. Murder wasn’t necessary, but she was doing it anyway. And worst of all, it didn’t feelwrong.

Once Quirrell’s eyes finally went dull and he stopped heaving and breathing, Heracles took her sword out of his chest and stared down at the man with wild eyes, her breathing heavy and her hands shaking. After a few moments of pensive silence (she had just killed a man.She had just killed a man.This was suffocating. This was different from the troll. This was a human like her, this was someone she hadknown.She couldn’tbreathe. Oh seven oh seven oh seven- ),she spoke to herself.

“Clean strikes. Sebek and Lilia would be proud.”, Heracles declared in a deathly calm voice as she observed her morbid handiwork with cold detachment (because apathy was easier than guilt, Heracles started to realize). She was right about the strikes; they were very precise, in spite of her blinding rage. Her training with her fae knight friends in Twisted Wonderland had paid off.

Heracles forced herself to walk over to the Mirror of Erised, her sword still clutched tightly in her hand, the lukewarm blood on the hilt making her hand feel sticky. Heracles stood in front of the mirror and took a deep breath. She had a feeling the Philosopher's Stone was within the mirror, given that was what Quirrell had been standing in front of when she arrived. Heracles felt her breath hitch when she saw Jamil, one of her trickiest friends. Heracles felt a sudden wave of guilt. She felt bad that she had committed an act as heinous as murder in front of her friend, even though she knew the image wasn’t really him. She wanted to cry, she wanted to apologize on her knees and sob into his chest. But then Jamil’s image gave her a soft, understanding smile, and the urge faded. Even though it wasn’t really him, he had forgiven her. And Heracles knew he would forgive her when they met again for real.

Jamil wasn’t with her younger self, like he had been all the other times Heracles had seen him in the mirror. He was alone, and he had a knowing smirk on his face. The long haired, beautiful boy reached a hand into his hoodie pocket, and pulled out a ruby red stone the size of his palm. His dark gray eyes bared into Heracles’s own imploringly. Heracles realized what he wanted her to do and copied his movements. She reached into her pocket, and smiled a soft smile as she pulled out the Philosopher's Stone. She had what she had come for. It was over.

“Thank you.”, she told the image of her friend. Jamil’s small smile widened.

“You’re welcome, my Diamond.”,he mouthed, and Heracles felt her eyes water.

She barely had the chance to turn around and try to walk away before she passed out, her mental and physical exhaustion catching up with her in the worst way possible.

Notes:

This went from zero to one hundred real quick. Time to add some more trauma to Heracles's trauma collection! HORAY! Next time, an interlude with Savanaclaw!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 17: Interlude: Savanaclaw

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles breathed softly as she slept on the large red and white canopy bed, with Grimm sleeping soundly on her chest. She was in Riddle’s bed in the Heartslabyul dormitory. Heracles had fallen asleep shortly after her party ended, and Riddle and the other Heartslabyul boys, not wanting to give up any time they had with her before break, let her stay the night in their dorm. Riddle had put her down in his bed, and Grimm had loyally followed his human to sleep.

The bedroom was empty aside from Heracles and her familiar. Riddle was downstairs, eating breakfast with Trey and Cater. Ace and Deuce were still asleep after having to stay up late to clean up after the party. No one woke up Heracles or Grimm to eat, because they knew she would have the chance to eat somewhere else very soon. The door to the bedroom creaked open, and two figures tiptoed inside. One was short and slim, and the other was tall and broad. The two figures loomed silently over the girl and her furry friend as they slept cutely, and the short figure laughed at the sight.

“Shi shi shi shi shi. Seems someone stayed up past their bedtime~.”, the short figure said in a teasing voice. The tall figure gave him a glare.

“Would you be quiet? If you don’t shut up, you’ll wake her.”, the tall figure warned. The short figure smirked at him.

“Isn’t that what we kinda came here to do?”, the short figure questioned. His companion’s warning rang true, however, as Heracles slowly blinked her eyes open. She stared up at the two people standing over her with confused eyes.

“Ruggie? Jack?”, she questioned. The two figures, now revealed to be her friends Jack and Ruggie, both grinned brightly at her.

“Happy birthday, Hera!”, the two chorused together. Heracles giggled at the pair and sat up, careful to hold Grimm in her arms so he wouldn’t wake up.

“It’s not my birthday, guys! You know that!”, she responded with a smile. The two boy’s grins widened, and Heracles squealed quietly as Jack lifted her up onto his wide, sturdy shoulders.

“It is in Savanaclaw!”, Jack refuted, and Ruggie nodded before standing on his tiptoes so he could ruffle Heracles’s hair. Heracles giggled at the gesture

“Yeah! So wakey wakey, kiddo! We’ve got a big day planned for you!”, Ruggie chirped, his sharp fangs flashing with his grin. Heracles laughed.

“I can’t wait!”

—----------------------------------------------------

Heracles was carried to the Savanaclaw dormitory on Jack’s shoulders, with Ruggie following behind them. Once she was taken into the actual dorm building of Savanaclaw, Heracles was immediately carried to the pool area. Heracles grinned and waved as the beastmen lounging by the pool waved and called out to her.

“Good morning, Hera!”, one panther beastman called out with a fanged grin from his place in one of the poolside lounge chairs, waving as he did so.

“Good morning!”, she told him with a smile of her own.

“Happy birthday, Hera!”, a tiger beastman called out from the water, his arms folded in front of him on edge of the pool as spoke, a small smile on his relaxed face. Heracles giggled at the nickname for her.

“How many times do I have to tell you guys, it’s not my birthday!”, Heracles said with amused exasperation. The tiger beastman smirked.

“It is here!”, he yelled, before splashing Heracles. Heracles squealed and started laughing widely as water got on her face and clothes. The splashing continued for a little while, until a deep voice spoke over the noise.

“Morning, Herbivore.”, Leona’s voice called out. Heracles turned to look at him. He was laying on his side underneath the shade of a palm tree, a small smirk on his face. Heracles grinned at the sight of the lion beastman.

“Leona!”, she cried as she climbed off of Jack’s shoulders and started to run over to her friend. Leona smiled softly.

“Let me get a good look at you. I haven’t seen you since last week.”, Leona said as Heracles came to a stop in front of him. The girl had changed out of her Heartslabyul uniform and was wearing a red one of Riddle’s few casual t-shirts (since the boy’s clothes were the closest to her size) and a set of loose fitting black shorts. She was partially wet from all the splashing, and had an ear splitting grin on her face. She looked the happiest he had ever seen her. Leona’s smile widened.

“Not perfect, but it’s good enough to swim in.”, Leona remarked. Heracles looked at the summer green eyed man in confusion.

“What are you talking about- AHHHH!”, Heracles started to ask, only for Leona to stand up, pick her up bridal style and throw her into the pool. This woke Grimm up, who until then had still been asleep in her arms. The cat-like creature floated out of the water, soaked and sputtering angrily at Leona. Everyone else laughed and cheered, and as Heracles rose her head up above the water, she looked at Leona, who was now grinning widely at her with Ruggie and Jack, in confusion. Leona crossed his arms and gave her a teasing look.

“Play in the water for a few hours, Herbivore. These two and I need some time to get your surprise ready.”, Leona told her, before turning around and leaving the pool area. Several Savanaclaw students then picked her up and took her over to a water volleyball match. At the sight of this, Heracles quickly brushed off her confusion and got excited to play with the very enthusiastic beastmen, with Grimm following behind, ranting about how he was going to win

—------------------------------------------------

“No offense or anything kiddo, but your hair's a mess. Like, I’ve seen rat’s nests with less tangles than your hair.”, Ruggie said as he spritzed detangler spray into Heracles’s wet, matted hair.

Heracles had just gotten done swimming, and was now getting ready for her ‘surprise’ after taking a shower. She and Ruggie were in Leona’s room, seated on his bed with his countless hair care products surrounding them. Grimm was laying on the other end of the bed, looking like a toy poodle with his poofy, blow-dried fur after his own bath. Heracles pouted as Ruggie ran a brush through her tangled hair, wearing nothing but a towel while Jack got her clothes ready over by the bathroom.

“It’s not her fault her hair gets tangled easily, ya know. It’s the chlorine in the water. That stuff can ruin your hair. Makes it all curly and junk”, Jack said as rummaged through Leona’s jewelry box, looking for pieces of fang jewelry for Heracles to wear. Ruggie rolled his eyes.

“‘That stuff can ruin your hair’. Seven Jack, you’re starting to sound like Vil.”, Ruggie mocked in a high-pitched voice as he continued to brush Heracles’s hair. Heracles winced at the tugging sensation on her head, and Ruggie gave her an apologetic look.

“Sorry Hera.”, he said, before brushing Heracles’s hair much more gently. Jack rolled his own eyes and continued to rummage around Leona’s jewelry box.

“Andyou’restarting to sound like a dumbass, but you don’t see me pointing it out.”, the wolf beastman sassed. Heracles and Grimm both laughed.

“Oh man, he got you good- OW!”, Grimm exclaimed as he rolled around with laughter on the bed, only to fall off onto the floor when he rolled too far. This time, everyone including Grimm laughed. The laughter continued for a while, until a zebra beastman opened the door without warning.

“Hera, your surprise is ready- OW! SORRY!”, the beastman started to say, only to be interrupted when Jack, Grimm and Ruggie all glared at him, and Ruggie threw a hairbrush at his head, causing the zebra beastman to quickly leave and shut the door. Heracles was still only in a towel, after all. They didn’t want anyone walking in on her and making her uncomfortable. The only reason they themselves were with her while she was half naked was because she told them she could be. Heracles was the only one laughing now.

“Guys~!”, she scolded in a slightly whiny voice, knowing the situation was wrong despite her amusem*nt. The two boys and her familiar just gave her sheepish grins.

—-------------------------------------------------

“There she is, the girl of the hour!”, a student cried as Heracles walked into the large, indoor magical shift field they were hosting her surprise in. Everyone cheered, and Heracles waved at them all as she was guided through the crowd by Jack and Ruggie. Grimm was perched proudly on her shoulder, a black and yellow collar with a fang attached to it tied around his neck in place of his usual bow.

“Outta the way for the Queen of Savanaclaw!”, Ruggie yelled as he spread his arms to get people to clear a path. Heracles looked at the brunette boy in surprise when she heard his title for her.

‘Again with the titles. What is it with people and coming up with titles for me lately?’, Heracles wondered in her mind. Grimm nodded in agreement at Ruggie’s words.

“Yeah, outta the way henchmen! Make way for the great Grimm and his human!”, Grimm yelled co*ckily. Heracles laughed at his confidence.

Soon, she was in front of a large banquette table, decorated in the traditional style of the Afterglow Savannah, with bright colors and decorations everywhere. Yellow and black balloons were tied to every conceivable surface. Leona, who was leaning against the dining table casually, smirked when he saw what Heracles was wearing

Heracles was wearing a smaller version of his own uniform, with a few key differences. She didn’t wear leather gloves like Leona did, and her boots were made of black leather, not brown. She wore less jewelry, opting for simple fang earrings and a matching necklace in place of all the beaded and gold jewelry Leona typically wore. Her shirt was also not v-cut, and didn’t reveal her chest like Leona’s did. Heracles wore her hair just like Leona did, with two braids framing her face and the rest of her hair hanging loose as it usually did. Her makeup consisted of some eyeliner and a small amount of sparkly gold eyeshadow. Leona nodded in approval at the outfit and walked towards Heracles.

“You look great, Herbivore.”, Leona told her genuinely. Heracles beamed up at him, and Leona felt like he was staring into the sun.

“Thank you!”, she chirped in response, her smile radiant as ever. Leona knew he would do anything to protect that smile.

“I hope you’re ready for your surprise.”, Leona said with a smirk. Heracles nodded furiously.

“I am!”, she cried. Leona grinned.

“Well then, let’s- “, Leona started to say, only to be interrupted when a tiny orange blur flung its way through the crowd and towards him and Heracles.

“FURBALL INCOMING!”, one cheeky Savanaclaw student yelled out. Heracles looked in the direction of the noise in confusion, only to be tackled into a tight hug by someone very small a second later.

“HERA!”, a cute, childish voice yelled cheerfully as he looked up at the girl in his hold with adoring orange eyes. Heracles looked down at the person hugging her in surprise. It was Cheka, Leona’s five year old nephew that she hadn’t seen since the interdorm magical shift tournament, and first prince of the Afterglow Savannah

“Cheka?”, Heracles questioned. Grimm glared at Cheka.

“Damn kid, get offa my human!”, Grimm demanded, but Cheka just gasped and looked at the familiar with sparkling eyes.

“Kitty!”, the little boy cried. He then started making grabby hands at Grimm, who had to crawl onto Heracles’s back to get away.

“H-hey! Hands off, brat! I ain’t no kitty!”, Grimm cried, but Cheka didn’t stop trying to reach for him. Leona groaned and marched over to his nephew with an annoyed expression.

“Oi, furball! I told you to wait until I gave the signal to come out! Now you’ve ruined the surprise!”, Leona complained as he picked Cheka up by the back of his shirt and dangled him in front of his face. Cheka just giggled at him, and while this was happening, someone came up behind Heracles and wrapped their arm around her shoulders. Heracles yelped at the surprise contact.

“Oh lighten up, Leona! The boy was just excited to see his friend!”, a deep, booming voice said happily. Heracles gasped and looked at the person the voice belonged to in shock. It was a very muscular, regal looking man who looked like a long haired, older version of Cheka.

“Your Majesty… “, Heracles trailed off in awe. She had never met the king of the Afterglow Savannah before. She had only seen him in the few pictures of him Leona was willing to show her from his childhood. The king grinned down at her with blindingly white teeth.

“Hi there! So you’re the infamous Hera I’ve heard so much about! Leona never shuts up about you when he comes home- “, the king started to ramble, until Leona glared at him and held Cheka, who was still acting very casual about being dangled by his scruff, out to the boy’s father.

“Oi Farena, shut up. And control your damn kid while you’re at it.”, Leona ordered him. Farena merely chuckled at his brother and took his son into his arms.

“Yes yes, I love you too, brother.”, Farena said in response. A woman then appeared from the crowd. She was very tall, with a slim but muscular figure, and dark brown skin. She wore beautiful and colorful jewelry and clothes, with expertly done makeup to pair with it. Her eyes were a deep blue, and her hair a light blonde. The woman took Cheka from his father and held him in his arms.

“Now now boys, let’s not fight. It’s Hera’s special day, after all.”, the woman said in a smooth, calm voice, before looking at Heracles with a soft smile and kneeling down so she was on her level.

“Hello there. You must be Hera, correct? It’s so nice to finally meet the girl that gets Leona to stop acting like such a grouch half the time. I’m Scarabi, Leona’s sister-in-law.”, the woman, now known as the queen of the Afterglow Savannah, said serenely. Heracles was in awe of the woman before her. She was so pretty! Subconsciously, Heracles started to bow like Sebek had taught her, and Scarabi raised her hand to stop her with a chuckle.

“There will be none of that. You saved my brother-in-law. We’re far past the point of having you bow to any of us.”, Scarab told her, and Heracles stood up fully and straightened her back. Scarabi chuckled again and gave her a fond look.

“You’re the only girl in the school, yes? It must get lonely here with nothing but teenage boys to talk to.”, Scarabi remarked, and Heracles shook her head.

“No it doesn’t. The guys are really nice, and even though I don’t get to talk to girls often, I’ve started hanging out with Jamil’s little sister Najma sometimes! She’s a few years older than me, but she’s still really nice! And Grimm’s always with me, too!”, Heracles said with a wide smile, recalling the friend she had made when she went with some of the boys to the Land of Scalding Sands to see some fireworks a few months ago, and Grimm preened climbed from her back onto her shoulder at her last remark. Scarabi laughed.

“That’s good to know.”, the queen said. Then her son started tugging on her shirt.

“Mama, is the party gonna start soon?”, Cheka asked impatiently. Scarabi gave him an indulgent look, and Leona scoffed.

“The party will start whenever your mama gets done talking sh*t about me to the kid.”, Leona sassed, and Scarabi gave him a biting glare.

“Language in front of the children, Leona.”, the woman scolded. Heracles shrugged carelessly.

“It’s okay. I’ve heard worse from him.”, Heracles said, recalling all the new curse words she had learned from Leona over the months. The words tended to get more vulgar the more Malleus came up in conversation. Scarabi glared even harder at her brother-in-law, and Farena laughed. Leona glared at Heracles.

“Snitch.”, he said. Heracles stuck her tongue out at him, and everyone laughed. Leona tried to stop himself from smiling, but found himself unable to. Ruggie took that as his chance to intervene.

“Alright party people, we’re burning daylight! Let’s get this show on the road!”, Ruggie cried as he clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. Everyone grinned, and Heracles tilted her head in confusion.

“What show?”, she questioned, curious to finally find out what her surprise was. Leona grinned down at her.

“Didn’t Riddle tell you to bring a magishift disc?”

—-------------------------------------------------

Heracles looked at the scene around her in awe. This was the first time she had been given he chance to take in her surroundings since she had been picked up by Leona and toted away somewhere while everyone quickly got ready for something, before the lion beastman toted her back and plopped her down in her current location.

Now, she stood out in the middle of the indoor magical shift field, with Leona, Jack and Ruggie at her side. Grimm was with her as well, and much to her surprise, so were the royal couple of the Afterglow Savannah. On the other side, there were seven Savanaclaw students, and in the middle there was a blue haired older man with a whistle and a magishift disc. Cheka was on a bench on the sidelines, cheering his little heart out, surrounded by half a dozen tall beastwomen in black suits and sunglasses as his security detail. Everyone else was in the stands, cheering for her and chanting her name. Some even held signs that said ‘GO HERA!’ and ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ on them. Heracles was stunned.

“This is too much… “, the girl trailed off as she looked around, and she meant it. Leona, who was standing beside her, smirked down at her.

“What’s wrong, kid? Getting overwhelmed?”, he asked. Heracles shook her head.

“No, it’s just… you didn’t have to do all of this for me, really.”, Heracles told the man. The party at Heartslabyul was more than enough. She… she didn’tdeserveall of this. Leona gave her a sharp look as he saw Heracles’s expression turn despondent.

“Hey, none of that sh*t kid. You deserve this. Now shut up and get ready to play.”, Leona commanded her the most stern but gentle voice Heracles had ever heard. Jack then cut in.

“Yeah. We ain’t losin’ because you wanted to think badly about yourself when you shoulda been planning about how we’re gonna win.”, Jack told her with a wolfish grin. Ruggie and Grimm nodded in agreement, and Heracles smiled at them all. Leave it to the Savanaclaw boys to comfort her in the most tsundere way possible. Farena swooped down over to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Heracles wondered if that was going to become a trend.

“Yeah! Chin up, kid! This is your day, enjoy it!”, Farena told her. Heracles looked to Scarabi, who smiled at her and nodded. Heracles grinned at the sight of this.

“I guess you’re right… “, Heracles trailed off. Then the blue haired man blew his whistle.

“Players, to your starting positions!”, he yelled, and everyone lined up along the white line dividing the field, crouching down like they were in an American football game, with the magical shift disc between them. Everyone on Heracles’s team exchanged secret smiles, and Heracles started plotting a way to win the game.

‘I should enjoy this.’, the girl thought. Then the whistle sounded again.

“BEGIN!”

—--------------------------------------------------

The game was fierce. The Savanaclaw students Heracles’s team played against was good, but she and her teammates were better. The game ended with Heracles’s team’s victory, and every member of the team hoisted her up into the air with loud cheer and began chanting her name. People left the stands to join in the celebration, and Heracles laughed with glee as her victory was celebrated.

It took nearly half an hour for the crowd to calm down. Once it did, Heracles took a seat on a bench on the sidelines and downed a bottle of water. Grimm was in her lap taking a power nap after the exhausting game, Ruggie and Jack were entertaining Cheka elsewhere, and Leona sat beside her, silently watching her. Out of earshot, Scarabi and Farena were talking to the blue haired referee from earlier.

“She really is such a doll, Zazu. I can see why Leona dotes on her.”, Scarabi said with a smile. They were talking about Heracles. Farena nodded, agreeing with his wife.

“Yes. She’s a very kind child, and Cheka absolutely adores her. It isn’t hard to see why Leona cares for her.”, Farena tacked on. They were both very fond of Heracles after finally meeting her, and were still very grateful to her for all she had done for their family

When Farena and Scarabi discovered that Leona had Overblotted, they had been horrified. Everyone in Twisted Wonderland knew that Overblot was a death sentence; whoever entered such a terrible state would go berserk and destroy everything in their path until their magic ran out, killing them. But then they heard that alittle girlall people, managed to defeat Leona with the help of her friends and prevent him from dying. The royal couple had been extremely relieved and grateful when they heard that. Then Cheka met the girl when he went to visit his uncle in the infirmary, and all the boy could talk about was how pretty and kind this ‘Hera’ girl was. Scarabi and Farena had been very intrigued at that, as very few people could captivate their flighty son’s interest so thoroughly.

And then Leona came home for winter break, and all he could seem to talk about when they managed to force him into conversation was the ‘herbivore kid’ that stepped on his tail during a nap in the botanical gardens and hadn’t left him alone since. It was then that Scarabi and Farena knew that Heracles Potter was something else, and they resolved to meet her. And when Leona mentioned that his dorm was throwing the girl a birthday party a week before the end of the school year, how could they not make an appearance? Zazu looked at his employer’s with a calm, controlled expression and nodded in response to their words.

“From what I have seen of her, I am inclined to agree with your opinions, your highnesses. Anyone who can charm Prince Leona in such a way that he doesn’t regard her as an annoyance to be around is a most impressive individual. Should the staff and I expect that she will come to stay at the palace over the summer?”, Zazu asked, his eyes reflecting amusem*nt and intrigue. Farena chuckled at him.

“Now now Zazu, we don’t want to assume. Besides, she’s already planning to stay with a member of the school faculty for the summer. But a certain grumpy brother of mine told me she’s allowed to attend sleepovers.”, Farena explained. Zazu smirked and nodded.

“Then I shall prepare the royal pillowfort room at once. Oh, and your highnesses gift for Miss Potter has arrived.”, Zazu said. Scarabi and Farena grinned.

“Perfect. Put it with all her others, and tell the royal cooks to start preparing the banquet at once. The food should be ready as soon as possible. We’ve got a literal dorm load of teenage boys to feed.”, Scarabi said, and Zazu nodded, before bowing and walking away. Meanwhile, over with Leona, Heracles was touching her face with a frown.

“Aw, all the sweating ruined my makeup.”, Heracles groaned. Her eyeshadow was all messed up and running slightly. Why Jack had put it on her when he knew she was going to be sweating heavily, Heracles had no idea. Leona then finally stopped his silent staring and spoke to his young friend.

“Stop complaining about your stupid makeup. I’ll fix it for you later.”, Leona told her. Heracles smiled at him, despite his blunt words.

“Thanks Leona, that means a lot.”, she told him, and the man gave her a thoughtful look, before pulling something out of his pocket and holding it out to her.

“Here.”, he told the girl. Heracles gaped at the object in shock. It was a Savanaclaw armband, the scarred face of the lion on it glaring up at her. Heracles looked up at Leona and shook her head vigorously.

“I can’t.”, she told him, telling him the same thing she told Riddle when he first offered her his own dorm’s armband. Leona narrowed his eyes at her.

“Take it, it’s yours. You think I would offer this to you just because? I don’t give handouts. You know that.”, the brown haired man said, and Heracles knew he was right. Leona wasn’t the time to give people honors just to make them feel nice. Things like that had to be earned in his eyes. After a few seconds of silence, Leona’s eyes softened, but the rest of his face remained hard-set.

“You’ve earned this, herbivore. You’re one of us now. You have been for a while now.”, Leona told her sternly. Heracles continued to stare at the armband in awe for a while. First Riddle, and now Leona? Did they both really see her as one of their own? Was… was that how every dorm leader felt about her?

After a few more moments, Heracles took the arm band and wrapped it around her right bicep. She then smiled up at Leona.

“How do I look?”, she asked. Leona gave her a soft smile.

“Like the queen of Savanaclaw.”

———————————————————

It was evening now. The banquet had been made and eaten. Heracles had delighted in eating native foods from the Afterglow Savannah, and Leona had delighted in telling her what foods were what. Cheka had sat in the girl’s lap for the entire time during the feast, despite his mother scolding the boy for invading the birthday girl’s space. Heracles hadn’t minded. She liked Cheka, and thought it was cute that the boy wanted to be so close to her and his uncle.

After the food had been eaten, Heracles had opened her presents. There had been countless ones from Savanaclaw students, but one had come from the royal family. Heracles had gaped in shock when Farena handed her a state of the art broom, the likes of which only people like Leona or Kalim could afford.

“I… I… you didn’t need to give me this.“, Heracles had stammered. She hadn’t expected such a luxurious gift from people she had never met. Scarabi, who had been standing nearby, had waved off her reaction.

“Think nothing of it. Leona mentioned you constantly borrowed his broom for class and sports, so we figured you would like to finally have one of your own.”, Scarabi said. Heracles shook her head.

“Still, you shouldn’t have spent all this money on me. I would have been fine with just a normal broom, not-wait, is this thing engraved?”, Heracles started to say, only to cut herself off when she saw that her initials were engraved on the broom’s handle in loopy cursive. Scarabi and everyone else who was there to watch her open her gifts laughed.

More time passed after that. Leona had gone for a fly with her on her new broom, even giving her a few tips on how to do certain moves she had yet to learn. After that, Heracles had been so tired out from all the excitement, she nearly passed out the second she landed on the ground. Leona had picked her up and carried her to his dorm room when he saw this, quickly telling anyone who asked what he was doing that he was taking her to bed. Once he arrived at his room, he carried the girl over to his bed and laid her down on it gently. He lifted the covers and placed them over Heracles as she continued to sleep, undisturbed by all the movement. Leona smiled softly at the sight and gently caressed Heracles’s hair.

If someone had told him at the start of the school year that he would grow to care for the random kid that showed up at the orientation ceremony with a crazy arsonist cat, Leona would have called them crazy. But now here he was, treating said random kid with nothing but kindness and care. At the start of the year, he was mostly fine with his Hera-free life. Now he was unable to imagine his life without the little red haired spitfire. It was funny how things like that tended to work out. But Leona’s smile soon turned to a frown when Heracles’s brow furrowed in her sleep and she started to toss and turn.

“No… No. Grimm… guys… don’t… don’t leave me.”, Heracles mumbled in her sleep, seeming very distressed by whatever dream she was having. Leona began to look concerned, and was about to do something to comfort her, when a voice spoke up from behind him.

“Does this happen often?”, the voice asked. Leona looked back and saw his brother, who was standing in his open doorway with crossed arms and an unreadable expression. Leona slowly nodded.

“Every few days or so. At least that’s what Grimm tells us. Sometimes she’ll just toss and turn for a little while before calming down, but other times… “, Leona trailed off. His frown deepened. Farena walked inside the room and closed the door behind him.

“Other times?”, the long, orange haired man asked. Leona gave him a dark look and turned around to watch over Heracles again, who had stopped speaking and moving but still looked upset.

“Other times she’ll have night terrors. Wake up screaming. One time she panicked when Grimm tried to wake her up from a nightmare and tried to punch him. She missed, but she still felt really bad about it. We wish she would stop staying in Ramshackle. The nightmares get worse the more alone she is, but Hera says she likes it there and doesn’t want to leave. You have no idea how relieved we were when we found out she was going to go stay with Crewel for the summer.”, Leona went on, carefully watching over the girl in his bed for any sign of panic or distress. Farena came to stand at his brother’s side, a deep frown on his face. Leona sounded worried. Leona didn’t get worried easily.

“How long has she been having them? The nightmares, I mean.”, Farena questioned. Leona sighed heavily, and it seemed like a blanket of weariness began to cover him.

“A few months. They started after the first Overblot and got worse with each one. She only started having night terrors after the sixth one. Every Overblot was bad, but that mess with Idia… that was on a whole other level.”, Leona elaborated. Farena raised an eyebrow.

“What do you mean by that?”, he questioned. Leona shook his head.

“S.T.Y.X didn’t just take us… they took Grimm. He ate a lot of crystalized blot, so he was ‘of interest’ to those bastards. Grimm’s her familiar. He’s been with her since the beginning. Him getting taken was a lot for her. It left Hera alone. She had a lot of people left at school, but so many of us getting taken away… that did something to her. Something bad.”, Leona said, struggling to explain what Heracles’s was going through when he himself didn’t fully understand it. Leona snarled. He was angry at himself. He was angry that he didn’t understand what was plaguing Heracles, that he couldn’t help her. After a brief moment of silence, Leona took a sharp inhale of breath and continued speaking.

“She didn’t have the best life where she was from. She doesn’t talk much about her past, but the fact she doesn’t want to go home told us a lot. She’s an orphan. She has no family. She doesn’t have anyone waiting for her in her world. No one loves her there, and I think that’s made it so she thinks she doesn’tdeserveto be loved.”, Leona said, his voice cracking slightly with barely suppressed emotion. Farena gave him a sympathetic look and placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder.

“Have you considered getting her counseling?”, the king asked. Leona laughed bitterly.

“You don’t think we’ve tried? She’s denied it everytime. Says she’s fine. Fine my ass. Fine people don’t wake up screaming and cryin’’ in the middle of the night. It’s Crowley’s fault, ya know. He’s the one that treats her like a goddamn beast of burden. He makes her think this bullsh*t is normal. Ten year olds shouldn’t have to fight Overblots, Farena.”, Leona said in an angry, sad voice. Tears were welling slightly in his green eyes as he stared down at the now peaceful Heracles.

Farena felt rage rise within him. Leona was right. Ten year olds shouldn’t have to fight Overblots. If it was his son being forced to do that, he would have been livid. He would have burned the party responsible to the ground, and Farena knew Leona must be feeling the same way. The king gave his brother a meaningful look.

“It’ll be okay Leona. I’ll help you take care of this.”, Farena said. Leona didn’t look at him. he just continued to stare down at Heracles, like a dog guarding something precious.

“Crewel said he’ll try to get Hera to go to therapy over break, but he’s not counting on it. We don’t want to force her into anything, but if things keep getting worse… “, Leona trailed off uncertainly. Farena wrapped his arm around his brother’s shoulders and brought him into a hug.

“She’ll be alright, Leona. She’ll be alright.”, Farena told him in his deep, reassuring voice, and for the first time in a while, Leona desperately hoped his brother was right about something as he looked to the full moon hanging over his balcony.

‘Seven, please… please don’t let things get any worse for her. Please, have mercy on Hera.’

Notes:

Sorry this chapter took so long, it ended up being longer than I intended. Hope you guys don't mind. Next time, talking to Dumbledore and the end of first year!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 18: Year One: A Twisted End

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles woke up in an unfamiliar bed, in a room that smelled like a hospital. She groaned. Her head was killing her, and she had been having a rather nice dream. She was at her party in Savanaclaw again, with Jack and Ruggie and Leona and Grimm, and everything was alright. But the girl realized, as she became aware that she was in a place for the sick and injured, that everything was most definitelynotalright.

Heracles sat up slowly and took in her surroundings. She was in the Hogwarts infirmary, with a pile of wizarding sweets and ‘get well soon’ cards stacked high on a medical trolley at the foot of her bed. Heracles stared at the sweets and cards blankly. Who would give her all this stuff and why? She hadn’t done anything to-

Then the memories came flooding back. The traps, Quirrell, Voldemort, the sword, Jamil in the mirror. All of it flashed in her mind like some twisted movie. When it was over, Heracles made a low groaning sound and brought her knees up to her chest as she buried her face in them. She felt like she was going to throw up. The wordmurdererflashed in her mind several times, and Heracles suddenly felt utterly disgusted with herself.

Fighting Overblots was one thing. She never did any permanent damage when she was saving her friends from themselves. At most, she caused a few bruises and black eyes. The troll was self defense. If she hadn’t killed the creature, it wouldn’t have stayed down and would have kept trying to kill her. Quirrell… Quirrell was another thing entirely.

Quirrell hadn’t been much of a threat. Heracles could have just stunned him and carted him off to Dumbledore when she got the drop on him, but instead she hit him with a spell sheknewwas lethal from the latin used in it. And then she used the sword she had stolen and finished what she had started with her own two hands. She could have stopped. She could have just left him and gotten Dumbledore. But shekept going.She killed the man who helped the… thethingthat killed her parents (because Voldemort stopped being a person when he lost his body, and with it, what was left of his humanity), and likely released Voldemort back into spirit form as a result.

And worse yet, Heracles realized as she felt her throat close with some burning emotion she couldn't identify, she felt no remorse. She didn’t feel guilty for what happened to Quirrell. She had felt that he had it coming in her fit of rage, and now that she was safe and had a clear head, she still felt he had it coming. The man got what he deserved, and it felt sweet when she gave it to him. Revenge hadn’t been served cold with her. It had been served red-hot like her rage, and Heracles had eagerly consumed every bit of it. The only thing she felt guilty for, Heracles realized, was that in the process of killing Quirrell, she had broken a promise she made to Lilia one dark, dark night after she had faced Idia.

“Heracles, in the world we now live in, violence has grown to have no place. Diplomats have replaced legions. The pen has replaced the sword. People like me… we’re part of a bygone era. We aren’t needed anymore, and for that I am grateful. So please, please little one, don’t be like me. Don’t be a soldier. Don’t be a killer. Don’t throw away your humanity to be something the world no longer needs.”, Lilia had told her, his eyes looking more ancient than they had ever. He had just been informed about the mess at S.T.Y.X and had come to visit Heracles in a fit of worry at Ramshackle a few days after the incident. All Heracles had been able to do was nod as she stared at his face with big, innocent eyes.

“I won’t, Lilia. I promise.”, Heracles had said. She had been so naive back then. Lilia gave her a soft, relieved smile.

“Thank you, Beasty.”

Heracles felt sounds bubble out of her throat as she thought of the promise she had made Lilia. It took her a moment to realize that those sounds weren’t sobs or groans, and that the emotion that had made her throat tight wasn’t anger or sadness. She was laughing with dark glee.

‘I’m sorry, Lilia. But you were wrong, my friend. So, so very wrong. The sword does still have a place in the world; in my hand and in the chest of my enemy.’, Heracles thought as her giggles devolved into mad cackling.

Her guilt had vanished the second she reconciled with Lilia’s memory. She vowed to properly apologize to him when she finally saw him in person again. Oh, she would still be plagued by her actions, Heracles was certain. She would have nightmares and wake up thrashing around her bed because of what she had done to Quirrell, but the guilt was no longer there. All that was left was the anger she felt towards her victim, and the joy she felt at causing him suffering.

Eventually, the cackling died down, and Heracles went quiet. Plans and worries filled her head. Now that Quirrell was dead, what would happen to her? Would she be charged with murder and sent to Azkaban? That wouldn’t be good for her research. Heracles knew she could probably play the innocent child if she was taken to court, but she would need to get rid of any evidence if she wanted to-

“Good morning, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore’s voice said. Heracles looked up. The old man was standing near the infirmary entrance. He looked severe. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was alone and visibly wandless, Heracles would have thought he was there to arrest her. Heracles gave him a grin she knew looked crazy and wondered if he had heard her cackling. Her hair was wild from sleep, and her eyes were wide and dilated. She looked mad as a hatter, just like the murderer she was sure he knew she was.

‘Good.’, Heracles thought viciously. Maybe scaring him a little would bring her some amusem*nt. She could definitely use it.

“Good morning, Headmaster. Might I ask what all this is about?”, Heracles responded in a dark voice as she gestured to her sweets and cards. It was the first time she had ever called him by his title to his face. Dumbledore merely stared at her, his expression unchanging.

“I think you and I both know what ‘all this’ is about.”, Dumbledore said. Heracles rolled her eyes. She had a feeling that the candies and cards were from a mix of her friends and random well-wishers after her stunt with the Philosopher’s Stone became school-wide knowledge, but she wanted to throw the man off a little.

“Yeah, but I wanted to see how much I could make you squirm. So, how long until a team of Auror’s comes to tote me off to Azkaban and throw me into the same cell as godfather dearest?”, Heracles asked as she laid back in bed, placing her hands behind her head with a wide grin. Dumbledore gave her a sad look.

“I’m afraid there will be no team of Auror’s, Miss Potter, because there was no crime. It seems that Professor Quirrell merely vanished into the night after you managed to stumble upon him attempting to steal the stone, and after you fought him off in self defense when he attacked you. The Auror’s Office has already sent out a dispatch to search for him in Albania. It was rumored he was planning on returning there for another research trip once the term was over.”, Dumbledore informed her calmly. Heracles chuckled.

“Well I’ll be damned. The great Albus Dumbledore covered up a murder on my behalf? Deciding to aid me in my life of crime, huh? And here I thought you were so certain I wouldn’t end up like your ex-flame… “, Heracles trailed off, sounding carefree but watching Dumbledore’s reaction carefully. Dumbledore sighed and gave her a stern look.

“Oh, I am still very certain that you will remain a good soul, Miss Potter. What you did to Professor Quirrell was done under duress. You had no choice- “, Dumbledore started to say, but Heracles glared at him fiercely.

“Wrong. Ididhave a choice. I had a choice between stunning the fool and leaving him for you to deal with, or killing him where he stood. And it would seem I woke up and chose violence yesterday, because I chose option B. Or rather, I woke up and chose violence at an unspecified date, because I have no idea how long I’ve been unconscious for.”, Heracles refuted, before getting sidetracked about the date. Dumbledore sighed again.

“You have been unconscious for nearly a week. It is the last day of term. The end of term feast is tonight, and the Hogwarts Express leaves tomorrow morning.”, Dumbledore revealed. Heracles gaped at him.

“Nearly a week?! I wasn’t even injured that badly! How the hell was I knocked out for so long?!”, Heracles asked urgently. She had lost valuable time! She still needed to pack her things and clean out her lab! Dumbledore gave her a flat look.

“Yes, but your sheer lack of good health even without your injuries made it so you all but shut down when your stress levels reached their tipping point. You were, if the infirmary report I have read is to be believed, malnourished, sleep deprived, underweight for your age and you had several vitamin deficiencies. We also found near-overdose levels of Dreamless Sleep and Pepper-up potions in your bloodstream. Madam Pomfrey had to work around the clock to bring you back up to standard. You're the first student in nearly a decade that has driven that woman to drink due to sheer frustration, worry and stress.”, Dumbledore elaborated.

Heracles froze. She had no idea she was that unhealthy, or that she had been taking almost enough of her daily potions to OD. She knew she was a bit worse for wear, but this was… Heracles shook her head. She had no time to lament about her health. She had to deal with Dumbledore and clean out her lab ASAP. Quirrell may not have managed to find it, but some other member of staff might when she left for the summer, and she couldn’t have that. Heracles glared at Dumbledore defiantly.

“I don’t care if I’m healthy or not, none of that matters right now. So has Quirrell’s body been taken care of or not? You said the story was he ran away. That cover-up won't work if he’s still in the castle getting rigor mortis.”, Heracles bit out. If Dumbledore was going to execute a cover-up, then Heracles would make damn sure it was a good one. Azul and the Tweels had taught her how to do that much. Dumbledore gained a dark look.

“There was no body to take care of, Miss Potter. Shortly after his death, it seems that Professor Quirrell simply… turned to dust. This was likely the result of being possessed by Voldemort before his untimely demise.”, Dumbledore explained. Heracles, instead of reacting with some semblance of horror like the man expected, grinned darkly.

“Motherf*cker, I’m a natural! Dust crumbled him so there’s not even a body for people to ask questions about! Hades, I’m eleven years old and I’m already a professional at murder!”, Heracles yelled with pride as she laughed. She still didn’t feel guilty about what she had done; in fact, she was starting to feel something even more than joy.Pride.Heracles felt pride that she had harmed her parent’s murderer. Dumbledore gave her a weary, worried look as she laughed. She really was like Grindelwald, wasn’t she?

“This is no laughing matter, Miss Potter.”, Dumblebdore told the redhead. Heracles’s grin turned sharp and she stared down the old man with intent green eyes.

“I beg to differ, Headmaster. But I digress. You’ve answered most of the questions I had about Quirrell, so now I just have a few more. The first one being, what happened to the Philosopher's Stone?”, Heracles questioned. Dumbldedore sighed at Heracles's blatant attempt to change the subject, but said nothing about it.

Dumbledore then went on about how the stone had been taken from her pocket, and that it had been sent back to Nicolas Flamel for him to destroy it so Voldemort could never use it to return. Heracles didn’t believe a word he was saying. Why go to such lengths to protect something from someone when it could be destroyed, especially with such apparent ease? It was a mess of contradictions. Heracles glared at Dumbledore fiercely.

“I call bullsh*t, old man. Why would Flamel agree to destroy the one thing keeping him alive? On what? The whim of an old headmaster and in case of the slight chance Voldemort ever goes after the stone again? I doubt he’s in any state to track down the rock again, let alone try to steal it. And even if he does try to steal it again, his top minions have tried to steal it before during the height of his power and failed miserably, and that wasbeforethe stone was carted off to the so-called ‘safest place on earth’, which I have nearly died at several times by the way so that’s a total f*cking lie, but again I digress. Voldemort’s not gonna try to steal the rock again.”, Heracles refuted, rambling on about all the reasons the headmaster had to be lying to her. Dumbledore gave the girl a stern look.

“Voldemort is not a man to disregard, Miss Potter. He is deadly, even in his weakened state.”, Dumbledore scolded. Heracles glared at the man even harder than she already had been and sneered. She looked just like Jamil did when he verbally teared into Kalim before his Overblot.

“Forgive me for not fearing a man who spent ten years possessing squirrels in Albania, Dumbledore. To me, Voldemort is about as threatening as a goddamndog.Sure, it can still bite me and cause some damage if I’m not careful, but really all I have to get rid of the f*cker is outsmart it and goad it into killing itself with it’s own stupidity.”, Heracles hissed. Dumbledore looked at her in shock for her words, and then shook his head. He had never met a person so utterly unconcerned with the Dark Lord’s agenda as Heracles Potter.

“Think what you will about the Dark Lord, Miss Potter, but you cannot deny he is still alive in some twisted form, and he will be after you, both for what happened with the stone and what happened all those years ago. You will be his first target when he strikes again.”, Dumbledore warned. Heracles scoffed.

“Yeah, no sh*t. But I’m assuming you know that because you plan for it to happen, right? Just like you planned for Quirrell to try to steal the stone, and just like you planned for me to be the one to stop him.”, Heracles said dangerously. The infirmary went deathly silent after that accusation. Dumbledore looked at her with guarded eyes through his half-moon spectacles.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Potter?”, the old man asked slowly, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Heracles’s dangerous look intensified.

“Don’t play dumb with me. You’re the one that vets every applicant for every job in this school, and you mean to tell me that you, a seasoned wizard that helped defeat Grindelwald and led the war against Voldemort, did not see that there was something seriously wrong with Quirrell? You didn’t see the signs? He was the one that brought the troll into the school, and he was the one that showed up after the troll was defeated with a leg injury, despite never fighting the beast. I warned you about him, Dumbledore. I warned you to keep a close eye on your staff, but you didn’t. He was an obvious suspect, but you never investigated him. You’re not dumb, Dumbledore. I know that much. That only leaves one conclusion… youletQuirrell keep attempting to steal the stone.”, Heracles elaborated. Dumbledore gave her a level look.

“That is a very serious accusation you’re making, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore said in response, not confirming or denying her claims. Heracles continued speaking, her voice cold and analytical as she presented her evidence.

“But it’s true, isn’t it? You set this whole situation up; you told everyone at the welcome feast not to go to the third floor corridor, knowing that it would pique everyone’s curiosity. You knew that every spell and trap protecting the stone could be counteracted by things first years learn in their classes. You knew I was the only one other than you that knew what Quirrell was up to, and you knew that because of that, I would feel obligated to deal with him personally.”, Heracles argued, and Dumbledore remained silent. Eventually, Heracles smirked.

“You were clever, Dumbledore. You were subtle enough that your plan was unnoticeable to the untrained eye. You played the game well, old man… but the thing is, I play the game better. Always have, always will.”, Heracles said confidently, and Dumbledore finally let out a heavy sigh, another one of several others he had let out that day.

“Very well, I confess; you are correct, Miss Potter. I did plan your adventure with Professor Quirrell, though I will say that the troll was a genuine accident on my part.”, Dumbledore admitted. Heracles’s smirk faded and she glared at the old headmaster with burning rage.

“Why then?! Why put me through all that?! What reason could you possibly have for making me nearlydienumerous times?!”, Heracles screamed. She felt angry, angrier than she had felt in a while. Dumbledore sighed again and shook his head.

“You would not have died, Miss Potter. Those traps were engineered specifically with the skills you have learned this year in mind. At worst, you would have sustained a cut or two.”, Dumbledore assured her, but Heracles didn’t believe him.

“You didn’t answer my question.”, the girl spat. Dumbledore gave her a tired look.

“It was a test.”, the man finally revealed. Heracles scoffed harshly.

“A test? Atest?!A test of what?! My malleability?! My willingness to solve your problems for you?!”, Heracles yelled with wide, wild eyes as she snarled and gripped the sheets of her bed with white knuckles. She was having flashbacks to her days of dealing with Crowley, and she didn’t like it. She knew she couldn’t trust Dumbledore, she had always known it. That wasn’t what was making her angry. What was making her angry was that he was acting dangerously likeCrowley.That was a trip down memory lane she was in no mood to take. Dumbledore gave Heracles a calculating look.

“It was a test of your skills. Voldemort is out there, Miss Potter. He has been out there since even after you destroyed his body. I have always known he will come back. He will never stop trying to do so, and you… you are who he considers his greatest enemy. He will always come after you, so when he does, you must be ready. I prepared that test to make sure of that.”, Dumbledore explained, and Heracles felt her rage begin to overflow.

“Why mustIbe prepared?! Why not you, or the other staff at school?! Why can’t you do your job and protect me?! I’m your student! My well-being is your responsibility! It shouldn’t be an eleven year old’s job to deal with a Dark Lord! Why can’t you deal with him?!”, Heracles said in a demanding voice. Dumbledore shook his head yet again.

“It cannot be me that defeats the Dark Lord. It must be you, Miss Potter. That is why you must face these challenges. I would rather you face obstacles in a semi-controlled environment so that you will be prepared for the future, than have you be killed by the Dark Lord. It is for the greater good, Heracles.”. Dumbledore went on, not catching his slip up at the end, and Heracles froze at the familiar phrase. She looked at Dumbledore with icy eyes.

“‘For the greater good’, huh? That was Grindelwald’s rallying cry. Why areyouof all people using it?”, Heracles inquired. Dumbledore froze as he realized his blunder. Heracles narrowed her eyes.

“... He was the man you loved, wasn’t he?”, she said, her question sounding more like a statement. Dumbledore gave a slow, barely perceivable nod.

“Yes. Yes he was.”, Dumbledore answered. Heracles snarled at him.

“I’m not like him, you know. I’m not like your wizard-Hitler of an ex-boyfriend.”, Heracles spat out, reminding the headmaster of what she had insisted when they spoke in front of the Mirror of Erised. Dumbledore nodded again.

“I know. But that doesn’t stop his memory from haunting me through you.”, the bearded man said. Heracles scoffed callously.

“You can stop with the sentimental bullsh*t, old man. It won’t make me trust you. Don’t you remember what I told you all those months ago in front of the Mirror of Erised?”, Heracles asked. Dumbledore gave her a small smile.

“Yes, I remember. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’ve never seen an eleven year old look so sure about not trusting any one person in my life.”, the blue eyed man remarked. Heracles gave him a barren look.

“Yeah, well now she’s even more sure.”, Heracles jabbed, and Dumbledore gave her a sad look. There was a moment of silence. Then, Heracles took a deep breath and spoke again.

“I get the feeling you’re not gonna change your mind about what the ‘greater good’ means for me, but the least you can do is tell me why Voldemort will continue to come back and uphold our previous agreement about the classes I’ve been skipping.”, Heracles huffed, finally relenting slightly out of annoyance… at least, that was how it seemed to an outsider. Internally, Heracles was thinking on her feet, carefully weighing all her options as she tried to decide what course her fate should take for the rest of her time at Hogwarts.

Heracles wasn’t stupid. She knew that Dumbledore genuinely thought what he was doing was best for everyone, but Heracles knew it was wrong. But there would be no convincing the Headmaster of that. He was too set in his ways. If she kept openly fighting him on such matters, she may lose his favor, which would make her teachers start trying to make her go to class again, which would hinder her research. She couldn’t have that. As much as it pained and inconvenienced her, Heracles was going to have to go along with the Headmaster’s insane whims. She could deal with it, of course. She had dealt with seven Overblots in the span of a year, she could deal with a yearly quest that was supposedly ‘for her own sake’.

‘Life really is full of tough choices, huh Azul?’, Heracles thought tiredly as she recalled the words of her Mer friend;“Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it Angelfish?”,Azul had told her mockingly just before she sighed her first and only contract with him. Heracles snorted bitterly at the memory, and at how true the words rang in her current situation.

The trials to come would be annoying, but she could endure them, and any trauma she obtained would be promptly shoved into the back of her mind with the majority of her time at the orphanage and Quirrell. Because if there was one thing she refused to do, it was confront her demons. Her mental ones, at least.

As Heracles thought about all of this, Dumbledore gave her a sad smile. He didn’t want to put the girl through more than she had already been through, but in his mind there was no choice. Heracles had to be through all of this, for the sake of her own survival.

“If that is your wish, then I will tell you. Years ago, everything began with a prophecy, something called a horcrux, and a boy named Tom.”

—--------------------------------------------------

Heracles dragged herself to the Hogwarts express, feeling weighed down by her weary body and the knowledge she held. Dumbledore had told her everything; how there was a prophecy stating that only she could kill Voldemort (now exclusively known as Tom to her, because from Dumbledore’s information she new that the Dark Lord hated his birth name more than anything, and Heracles wanted to spite the bastard in any way possible), the true reason why her parents had been murdered, that Snape was a double agent for him, Voldemort’s origins, his horcruxes, everything. Heracles left the infirmary three hours after having all this revealed to her, feeling heavier than she had in a while.

Dumbledore hadn’t been lying to her, that much Heracles had seen in his sad blue eyes. The old man wanted to put her through his ‘trials’ so that she could fulfill her destiny. Heracles scoffed as she got closer to the train. She wasn’t one to put much stock in things like ‘destiny’, but she knew that divination was real, as it was practiced seriously in Twisted Wonderland. Thinking about the line ‘neither can live while the other survives’ made her feel sick to her stomach, even more so that she had when she woke up in the infirmary with the memory of Quirrell’s murder floating around her head.

The whole prophecy situation was damning for her. It meant that not only did Heracles have to kill Tom all on her own (which she was honestly probably going to do anyway in vengeance for her parents), she also had to destroy his damn-near indestructible horcruxesandshe couldn’t go home until everything was done. She refused to drag her friends from Twisted Wonderland into her mess and endanger them, regardless of how much they could potentially help her achieve her goals. The same went for her earth friends. She would be damned before any of them got hurt because of Tom the Noseless.

The end of term feast came and went. Heracles attended after cleaning out her lab, mostly just because she wanted to see her friends again. Neville and the twins asked her frantic questions, trying to figure out if she was truly alright, and if the story that had been told by the professors about what had happened to her was actually true. Heracles had brushed off all of their questioning, which just made them even more worried. After that, the boys rarely left her side, and the only reason Heracles was currently alone was because the trio was busy loading their and Heracles’s luggage onto the train. Heracles came to a stop on the platform and stared up at the clear blue sky tiredly.

The next few years of her school life at Hogwarts were going to be filled with horcrux hunting, mirror research and trying not to die because of Dumbledore’s misguided attempts to ‘keep her on her toes’ and ‘keep her alive’. The only thing that old man was going to keep her was paranoid and constantly pissed off.

Heracles scoffed. And she thought the Overblots were bad. At leasttheynever tried to outright kill her.

Heracles was just about to get on the train and find a nice, quiet compartment to spend the next several minutes screaming her head off in frustration, when Hedwig swooped down from above, carrying something in her claws. Hedwig dispensed the thing into Heracles’s hand and landed on her shoulder. Heracles looked at her feathered friend in confusion.

“What’s this?”, Heracles asked. Hedwig just shrugged.

“I have no idea. Some strange owl I’ve never seen before found me and told me to give it to you. Said it was urgent. Then he flew off without a word.”,Hedwig explained. Heracles observed the object in her hand. It was a small parcel, wrapped in plain brown paper. It looked rather innocuous, aside from a note tied to the package with a piece of brown twine. Heracles flipped over the note and carefully read the neat, cursive words on it. Everything was written in handwriting she did not recognise.

I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it. I worked too hard to make it. I’ve created enough elixir to last me and my wife a very long time. Keep it. I can make another one. I would give it to Albus, but I don’t trust him with it anymore. Consider this compensation for keeping my possession safe.

There was no name signed to indicate who had sent it. Heracles read the note over and over again, until she put together what the context of the note implied. With wide eyes, the girl ripped open the parcel’s packaging. The brown paper tore away to reveal a familiar red stone. Heracles gasped.

‘This is… ‘, the girl trailed off mentally. Then she grinned wickedly. She could think of countless uses for the stone in her hand, the most important of all being for her research. Heracles grasped the infamous Philosopher's Stone in her hand tightly.

“Talk about a plot twist.”, Heracles mumbled to herself. Then she boarded the train, Hedwig still on her shoulder, and a wicked grin still on her face.

Notes:

And so concludes year one. The next chapter may take another few days to come out, since I need to do some serious plot planning for year two. I'm sure most of you really don't like Dumbledore after this chapter, and I wouldn't like him either honestly. But I see this as in line with his canon character; he's a man who was kind to Harry during his early school days, but who planned for him to die so the horcrux within him could be destroyed. He's a man who worked for the good of the wizarding world at large, but screwed over quite a few individuals to get there. He's not infallible, and it shows when Heracles, a literal child, points out the obvious flaws in his logic. The Philosopher's Stone probably won't be a super important plot device, btw. Heracles will probably just use it to turn metals into other metals for her research, especially since the Elixer of Life doesn't stop the aging process, it just keeps people from dying. Next time, summer break!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 19: Year Two: Scrotum Hobbits, Flying Fords and Weasleys Galore

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles’s summer passed in a blur of research, scattered social interactions with Neville every so often when his Gran allowed him to visit her at Grimmauld Place to see if she was still alive, and the occasional mental breakdown accompanied by a handful of legal visits to her solicitor. So it honestly wasn’t all that different from her time at school.

She fiddled with the Philosopher's Stone, figuring out how she could use its power to make all the metals she needed for her mirrors. She had also figured out how to make the elixir of life, but she never used it. The elixir only made a person immune to dying from old age, not to aging or to other things. Heracles didn’t want immortality if it meant getting old while Malleus and her other Fae friends stayed young forever. She wanted to be with them and all the others forever as they were now. But that was a bridge she could cross when she came to it. Before she could worry about eternity, she had to get back to her boys in the first place.

Every mirror she had made since break had started was a failure, and only served to make Heracles work even harder to find a way home while neglecting her health. Kreature tried to prevent some of this by forcing her to go to bed at a decent hour and serving her healthy food at regular intervals, but that didn’t stop Heracles from forgetting the food was there or secretly doing written work with the help of a Lumos charm.

Heracles occasionally had conversations with Walpurga when she felt the rare need to take a break. The woman in the portrait would speak of the glory days of the pureblood houses, when those graced with the title earned it through being noble witches and wizards, and didn’t sully their names by selling out to a half-blood pretender like the Malfoys. Through these conversations, Heracles became motivated to research the pureblood houses of England and their history, and in doing so she had found a goldmine of information about the Malfoys to hold against Draco when she invariably had to return to the backwater institute known as Hogwarts.

Neville sometimes swung by as well, though his visits felt more like welfare checks than social visits. He seemed to be worried that she would turn to dust in a stiff wind if he didn’t come by and make sure she ate one good meal at lunch with him… which was somewhat correct. Neither Fred or George came by, but Heracles was fine with that. They still wrote to her about their latest exploits in annoying their mother or tormenting Ronald, and Charlie wrote to her so he could check on how Norbert was doing in his new habitat.

Taking care of Norbert at Grimmauld Place was… interesting, to say the least. The little bugger was almost fully grown by his species standards, and he had graduated from feasting one blood and brandy to eating actual livestock. It was a pain in the ass to track down a supplier that wouldn’t ask questions about why a preteen girl was buying an entire dead cow on the daily, but she did it anyway for her scaly son’s sake. And then there was her other, more furry son.

After he was no longer needed to guard the Philosopher's Stone, Ortho was no longer needed at the castle. Dumbledore was originally planning to send him home to Greece, but Heracles, not wanting to lose her fuzzy companion, offered to take him home with her for break and keep him in the forbidden forest when she was in school. Hagrid, ever the kind soul he was, even offered to help take care of him when he was on campus. Dumbledore agreed, and now Heracles had two separate enchanted rooms in her house with very dangerous, very adorable creatures in them. Getting Norbert and Ortho back into Hogwarts was going to be a pain in the ass for Charlie and his friends, though. That much Heracles was sure of.

Then there were the legal issues. Heracles had still yet to schedule a will reading, despite it being a year since she found out she had to. She had no idea why she kept putting it off. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want to open another can of worms by dealing with people from her parent’s past when she was already dealing with so much. Nevertheless, Heracles had told Ragnok and her solicitor to schedule the will reading for the summer before her third year. She didn’t have the time or energy to do it this summer, and she didn’t really feel an urgent need to get it over with since she had access to all her monetary and property inheritances even without the will.

Then there was the ickiest part of the break; her crumbling mental state. Heracles knew she wasn’t alright. She was having more nightmares than ever, most of them centered around what she did to Quirrell. Sleep was a rare commodity for her, even when Kreature forced her into bed. At some points, she felt like she was starting to lose touch with reality. Walpurga called it ‘the Black Family Madness’. She said it only affected true Blacks, and was a sign that she was destined for greatness. Heracles chose to ignore Walpurga’s opinion on that, like she did with most people’s opinions about her mental state. She would do what she had always told the boys she would do when they asked her to see a therapist; she would endure, she would get through the nightmares, and she would be fine. That was how it always was, that was how ithadto be if she wanted to have any chance of finding a way home.

Horcrux hunting was unfortunately a thing, but it made up a surprisingly small portion of her summer. So far, Heracles had found two; the locket of Slytherine, which had been given to Kreatcher by her namesake Regulus for safekeeping before he died. After a bit of coaxing and promising she would avenge his former master, Kreatcher tearfully handed over the locket and began worshiping Heracles even more, much to her discomfort. The other Horcrux was the cup of Hufflepuff, which the girl had found after looking through her Lestrange vault. Apparently, snake fetish Hitler had given the cup to Bellatrix Lestrange for some inane reason.

Heracles didn’t see the logic in giving one of your most prized possessions to a woman who was even more unstable than she was, but she didn’t care because it made her job easier. One destroyed Gemini curse later Heracles had acquired yet another Horcrux. She had mailed them to Dumbledore for him to destroy, with a single note attached that said ‘found the first two. Try to keep them intact. I want to keep them as trophies.’.

The only reply Heracles got was both items being returned to her several days later, missing the eerie aura that had previously surrounded them. She started wearing the locket around her neck and kept the cup on a shelf in her room, deciding she would take it with her when she went to school. There was no doubt in her mind Voldemort would try to kill her again next year, and when he did, she wanted to be there to rub in his face just how much his f*cked up plan for immortality had failed. She wanted to watch the horror fill his eyes and the color drain from his face. Call her vindictive, because she was. Night Raven College had taught her to not be anything different.

And it was because of her vindictive streak that Heracles took to reading the curse books in the Black library with renewed fervor. Sectumsempra had given her a power high, and she wanted her next hit. Heracles learned the rules of dueling, and made sure to practice her skills on dummies in the backyard. It helped to keep her magic skills sharp.

But the anomalies of Horcruxes and will readings aside, Heracles’s summer was mostly a monotonous blur of diligent work and stress induced depressive episodes.

Then the two week mark until the end of summer break passed, and sh*t got really weird, really fast.

The evening had started out simple enough. After a long day of getting nowhere with her latest mirror, Kreacher had forced her downstairs to eat a decent meal. It had been a nice enough affair; Heracles actually ate her food, Walpurga joined in for a little mealtime conversation, and Kreatcher acted less creepy than usual. It was pleasant. Peaceful. It made Heracles feel less inclined to rip her hair out than she had an hour earlier.

Then she went back upstairs to her room, and was greeted by the sight of an unfamiliar house elf bouncing on her bed. Que the confusion.

“What the f*ck? Hedwig, what on earth is that?!”, Heracles demanded to know as she watched the unusually ugly house elf bounce on her Egyptian cotton sheets with his filthy self. Dirt from the pillow case he wore showered her once pristine sheets in stains. Looks like she was having Kreature do laundry twice that week. Hedwig, who was perched in the corner in her brass cage, gave her master a dry look.

“I don’t know Hera, that little scrotum hobbit just came in and started bouncing around. Watch out mate, I only hooted twice and now I’m in this cage!”,Hedwig exclaimed bitterly. Heracles gave her a dry look of her own.

“No, you’re in that cage because you tried to peck Kreacher’s eyes out when he came in here to tidy up, and it took me two hours to find the right spell to fix his damn eyes after you f*cked them up.”, Heracles corrected her. Hedwig made a ‘hmpth!’ sound and turned away from her. Heracles sighed. Then, the ‘scrotum hobbit’ as Hedwig put it, finally noticed her presence and turned around to look at her with wide, awe-filled blue eyes.

“Heracles Potter! It is an honor, ma’am! I am Dobby ma’am, Dobby the house elf.”, the house elf said with a bow. But Heracles, who was tired after going three days without sleep and in desperate need of a nap, was not in the mood to entertain a random house elf who wasgetting dirt on her bed.

“My guy you can’t be here, you’ve got to leave.”, Heracles said bluntly, and Dobby looked up at her with desperate eyes.

“But Miss Heracles Potter, why must Dobby leave?”, the house elf asked despairingly. Heracles glared at him, tired and mad that she would have to wait an hour for Kreacher to do laundry before she could take her nap.

“Well for starters, you’re getting dirt all over myvery expensive sheets- “

“But Miss Heracles Potter, I need to give you the low down!”, Dobby exclaimed pleadingly, and Heracles briefly wondered how a house elf knew that phrase when most wizards her age still talked like it was nineteen fifty-two. But her musing stopped when she saw the urgency in Dobby’s expression. Clearly, what he had to say was important… to him at least. So Heracles sighed for the second time in the last few minutes.

“Okay, but make it quick. I need to wash my sheets after you leave and I’d like to do that as soon as possible. Sit down.”, Heracles ordered, mostly so Dobby would get his dirty feet off her bed. Dobby, much to her surprise however, started loudly sobbing.

“D-Dobby is honored that would ask him to sit down, ma’am! Never has Dobby been asked to sit down by a witch! Like anequal!”, Dobby cried as he sat down on the edge of the bed. Heracles felt relief creep into her when she saw Dobby no longer had his feet on her bed, and she gave him a bewildered look when she heard his remark. She had never heard of a house elf that burst into tears the second a magical human treated them with respect, let alone of people that would treat a house elf in such a way that it would cause them to act like Dobby. EvenWalpurgatreated Kreacher well, and she was the equivalent of that one racist grandmother at Christmas.

“You must not know many good witches or wizards then.”, Heracles commented. Dobby’s expression immediately turned sour.

“Yes ma’am. You do, working for Legally Blonde and his skunk-haired wife. And their home-alone looking receding-hairline twat of a son. Who cries himself to sleep and still wets the bed.”, Dobby said savagely, and Heracles choked on air at the sheerruthlessnessof the insults he was saying.

‘Damn Dobby, what kind of pieces of sh*t do you work for that are so awful they made you want to say allthat?’,Heracles questioned mentally. Then she made the connection when she remembered that Draco Malfoy was a home-alone looking receding-hairline twat who often woke her up with his crying on the rare nights she actually went to sleep at a normal time. The bed-wetting was a new piece of blackmail information, though. Heracles gave Dobby a knowing look.

“Let me guess, you work for the Malfoys.”, Heracles stated, and Dobby gasped.

“How did you discern their identities?!”, the house elf asked in a panicked voice. Heracles gave him a dry look.

“I only know one home-alone looking receding-hairline twat that’s rich enough to own a house elf and enough of an asshole to abuse one to the extent you have clearly been with all those bandages and scars you have. And since rich English wizarding community members are about as numerous as non-magical billionaires, it’s not too far of a leap in logic to say you work for the biggest blonde assholes this side of the English channel.”, Heracles explained, and Dobby just blinked up at her in shock.

“Huh. That is actually a very logical conclusion.”, was all he said, and Heracles narrowed her eyes at him in suspicion.

“Also, how doyouknow all those movie references you just said? Last time I checked, most purebloods are about as knowledgeable as the amish when it comes to modern pop culture, and don’t even have access to pop culture in the first place because most technology goes bust the second magic gets within a mile radius.”, Heracles asked. She said ‘most technology’ because over the summer, she had found a way to make a charm that made earth tech work around magic so she could have access to the internet and Netflix. Not that either of those things were helpful in getting her back home, but they kept her entertained in her rare free time. Dobby began to look sheepish.

“Dobby learned these things from watching Miss Heracles Potter. Dobby likes it when Miss Heracles Potter watches ‘Mean Girls’.”, Dobby responded, and Heracles looked at him in mild horror.

“Hold up, you’ve beenstalking me?!”,Heracles exclaimed.

‘Note to self, update the wards next summer to include ejecting unwanted house elfs.’

“The saggy gremlin has psychological problems. We shouldn’t trust him Hera, he’s not loyal. Where as I would die for you! LET ME OUT OF THIS CAGE!”,Hedwig exclaimed. Dobby, who could understand owl because he was a house elf (a bit of house elf lore Heracles learned when she had a full on debate with Hedwig about different types in front of Kreacher), glared at Hedwig indignantly.

“I’d die for Heracles Potter as well!”, Dobby refuted. Hedwig looked at him dangerously.

“Hmpth! I doubt it. She’s my master, if anyone’s going to die for her it’s going to be me.”

“No!”, Dobby refused, and Heracles knew Hedwig would be smirking if she had lips instead of a beak.

“I bet I do it first!”,Hedwig said, and Heracles could sense the pair’s argument was getting way out of hand.

“Stop it you guys, nobody is dying for me! Nobody else at least.”, Heracles exclaimed, before muttering the last part to herself. Hedwig and Dobby glared at each other, but said nothing else. Heracles then gave Dobby a stern look.

“Dobby, why are you stalking me? Is it because Malfoy asked you to or something?”, Heracles asked, wondering just what kind of bullsh*t her self-proclaimed ‘arch-nemesis’ was trying to pull over on her this year. Dobby violently shook his head.

“No, Miss Heracles Potter! I have come here against my orders to warn you! You musn’t go back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year! There is a plot, a plot to make most terrible things happen!”, Dobby exclaimed, but Heracles merely scoffed.

“Oh trust me, I would if I could. But I have a project of mine I need the school resources to complete. Also my friends will get pissy if I leave them to deal with school bullsh*t alone for a year.”, Heracles responded, and Dobby looked at her in confusion.

“Are you not afraid?”, he asked. Heracles shrugged.

“Eh, I’ve dealt with several ‘terrible plots’ over the course of my magical student career. I think I can handle one more. Thanks for the heads up, though.”, the redhead mused, and Dobby began to panic. He looked up at Heracles skeptically.

“You would go to school to see friends that ghost your letters because you're a ginger loser?”, Dobby asked, and Heracles narrowed her eyes at him.

“Okay first of all, I’m not ginger. My hair is too dark for that. And second of all, none of my friends have ghosted my letters, so what the hell are you talking about?”, Heracles asked. Dobby looked at her sheepishly.

“Well I… “, he trailed off as he pulled a stack of letters out from behind his back. Heracles watched him do this in disgust as she realized something important.

“Ew, where did you get those from?! I didn’t see a pocket!”, Heracles exclaimed in disgust as she thought about where the hell the elf could have been hiding the letters. Hedwig began to look very proud of herself.

“I told you the grotty gremlin couldn’t be trusted, Hera! Kick him to the curb! AND LET ME OUT OF THIS CAGE!”,Hedwig yelled, and Heracles glared at her in annoyance.

“HEDWIG, SHUT UP!”, she screamed. Hedwig went silent for a moment, before clicking her beak and muttering a small ‘rude’. Heracles returned her attention to Dobby.

“Let me see those letters.”, she ordered him, and Dobby forked them over. Heracles flipped through the pile, reading who they were from. She even opened a few and skimmed over their contents. Once she was done, she shoved them roughly back into Dobby’s arms.

“These aren’t from my friends, they’re from Ronald Weasley. This is all just hate mail he decided to write me because he’s jealous of me being smarter, more athletic and a better human being in general. I guess I owe you a thank you then, since you did me the favor of screening my letters for junk mail.”, Heracles said with a small smirk. Dobby stared at her in disbelief, wondering how he could have messed up his task so bad.

“B-but Miss Heracles Potter, you still musn’t go back to- !”, Dobby started to plead, and Heracles gave him an angry look, tired and irritable from lack of sleep and unwanted conversation.

“Dobby, enough!”, she yelled, and Dobby shut up with a squeak as he braced for some sort of blow by blocking his face with his arms. Heracles’s gaze softened when she saw his reaction, and with a heavy sigh, she slowly kneeled down to Dobby’s level. Dobby slowly started to remove his arms from his face.

“Look, I’m sorry I snapped at you. I know you’re only doing all of this to keep me safe, but you have nothing to worry about. I’ve survived more than you know. I can handle a little danger.”, Heracles said with a comforting smile, but Dobby still looked worried.

“But-But- !”, he stammered. Heracles cut him off with a stern look.

“But nothing. I’ll be fine.”, ‘If I can survive seven overblots and Dumbledore’s shenanigans, I can survive another one of the old man’s ‘tests’.’

“Well… alright. Dobby has said all he needs to say. Miss Heracles Potter, please promise Dobby you will be careful.”, Dobby begged, and Heracles nodded.

“I will. Now go back to your masters before they notice you’re gone. And if you ever need a safe place to go, you can always come here. I’ll tell Kreacher you’re welcome.”, Heracles said kindly, and Dobby squealed with joy before apparating away with a loud ‘pop’. Now Heracles was, at last, alone in her room. Her form immediately slumped over with tiredness and she sighed

“Finally, alone at last-what the bloody hell is it now?!“, she started to say in relief, only to be interrupted by a knock at her window and the sound of ‘riding dirty’ playing faintly in the background.

“That sounds a bit like pubescent gingers in a flying car.”,Hedwig said out of the blue. Heracles ignored her and looked towards the window. She saw something that made her jump back a bit in shock. It was Fred and George, in the front seat of a blue Ford Angela car,flying in front of her window.Heracles immediately marched over to the window, opened it, and stuck her head out to speak to the two hooligans invading her airspace.

“What the hell are you two doing here?! And what the f*ck is this thing?!”, she demanded to know. The twins shot her huge grins.

“Flying car, one of Dad’s pet projects! And we’re here to save you!”, Fred said.

“From boredom!”, George tacked on.

“You’ve been in this house alone all summer, so we’ve come to take you- “, Fred again.

“-To say with us for the rest of break! You can thank us later for the wonderful surprise!”, George again.

“Oh great, we’re all doomed.”,Hedwig muttered dryly. Heracles once again ignored her. The twins gave her matching mischievous looks.

“You are being saved, don’t resist!”, they commanded, and Heracles looked at them blandly as she was forced to listen to ‘riding dirty’ on full volume, feeling even more annoyed by the music because it was technically her fault it was even playing in the first place.

“I regret explaining to your father how cassette tapes work. This song is trash.”, Heracles remarked, and the twins both raised eyebrows at her.

“So are you coming or what?”, the twins asked in unison, completely ignoring her insult towards their taste in music. Heracles sighed heavily, knowing she wasn’t getting out of this and not really wanting to get out of it in the first place (not that she would ever admit that).

“Yeah, sure. Just give me a second to pack my stuff. I assume you two won’t release me from my captivity long enough to get any of my school things from here, so I might as well just grab everything I need for the year and take it with me. Also, you two do know there are more conspicuous ways to pick up someone from their house. Like, you know, going to the front door and knocking?”, Heracles asked sarcastically. Fred laughed.

“Yeah, but this is more fun!”

“Also we didn’t want to get screamed at by your crazy portrait for being blood traitors.”, George said. Then, as if on que, Walpurga sensed their presence and started screeching about ‘blood traitors disgracing the house of her forefathers’. Heracles sighed again.

“Too late for that.”, she grumbled, knowing it would be a pain in the ass to calm the woman down before she left. The twins however, didn’t care about that, and instead continued to grin at her like nothing had changed.

“Now get in loser, we’re going to our place!”

Notes:

Don't know where the inspiration to write this came from, but it came from somewhere. This chapter is mostly just establishing the set up for year two, so sorry if the first half is boring. Next time, arriving at the burrow!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 20: Year Two: Meeting the Weasleys, Girl Crushes and Ronald being an Idiot

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

After calming Walpurga down, Heracles packed her things and loaded them up, ignoring Hedwig’s screams of ‘let me out of this cage!’ as she did so. Once everything was in the car, Heracles got in herself, said ‘don’t wake me up’ with all the seriousness of death, and promptly passed out in the back seat, grateful to finally have a chance to take a nap.

When she woke up, the sun had come up, and Heracles felt less awful than usual. Fred and George had parked the car on some dirt trail overrun with chickens, which Heracles knew because the first thing she heard when she woke up was clucking. The second thing was Lil Wayne on cassette. The green eyed girl sat up groggily, her long red hair even messier than usual as she took in her surroundings.

“Where are we?”, Heracles asked slowly, still not having fully taken in her surroundings. Fred looked back at her and grinned.

“Our home, the Burrow. Get up, we’ll help you get your stuff.”, the ginger said before getting out of the car with his brother, and Heracles obeyed. She ran her fingers through her hair to tame it slightly and straightened her clothes. Then she got out of the car, wincing when her sneakers made contact with the muddy road. She was going to have to Scourgify them later.

Heracles carried Hedwig’s cage to the front door, while Fred and George got her trunks. They crept quietly into the house, with the twins shushing her everytime she did something too loudly. Heracles was confused about why they were acting like this.

“Why are you both trying to be so quiet?”, she whispered as they walked through the kitchen, passing by a pan that was cleaning itself and a flower pot full of frog spawn (ew). George looked back at her urgently.

“Because if we aren’t, Mum will- “

“FRED WEASLEY! GEORGE WEASLEY! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!”, a woman screamed from the living room. Heracles startled slightly, and the twins winced.

“... find out we snuck out to go get you.”, George finished as a woman came stomping into the kitchen. She was short and plump, with wild ginger hair and warm brown eyes. She wore a colorful sweater and a matching long skirt. It was Molly Weasely, the twin’s mother and the nicest woman on earth. Behind her trailed her youngest son, Ronald Weasley, in all his smug glory. Heracles glared at him on sight. She hadn’t forgotten all that hate mail he had tried to send her. However, that seething anger was put on hold, because the second Molly saw her, she smiled the sweetest smile Heracles had ever seen.

“Hera! How wonderful to see you dear!”, Molly chirped, and Heracles gave her a small but sincere smile and a nod. Then Molly’s anger immediately returned and she went back to glaring at her twin sons.

“Beds empty, no note, car gone! You could havedied,you could have beenseen!”,Molly yelled, causing Fred and George to flinch, and once again, she took a break from her anger and smiled at Heracles sweetly enough to give someone diabetes.

“Of course, I don’t blame you, Hera dear. You didn’t know.”, Molly said, and then she went right back to being angry with the twins. It was enough to give Heracles emotional whiplash.

“You’re lucky your brother heard you leaving and told me what you were doing, otherwise you would be dealing with the Aurors and not me, because you best believe I would have called them and reported you kidnapped in a heartbeat!”, Mrs. Weasley exclaimed, and the twins and Heracles all slowly turned to look at Ronald, who looked very proud of himself.

“Is that so?”, Fred asked dangerously. Heracles gave a smile to Ronald that looked about as friendly as a knife.

“Well you know what they say about golden snitches; if the seeker doesn’t catch them, they end up in ditches.”, Heracles threatened with enough subtly that Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t catch on. Another wonderful skill Jamil taught her. Ronald’s face paled and he gulped.

“Hera, would you like a spot of breakfast?”, Molly asked, unaware of the tension in the room. Heracles turned and gave her a genuine smile.

“I would love some, thank you.”, she said, and Molly grinned as she rushed over to the stove to start cooking. Once she was preoccupied, Ronald glared at the girl.

“Kiss-up.”, he hissed under his breath. Heracles glared at him out of the corner of her eyes.

“Snitch.”, she hissed back. Then she stomped on his foot for good measure, causing the boy to squeak at the pain. Fred and George struggled to hold back laughter, and Hera smirked.

‘This is gonna be a fun two weeks.’

—----------------------------------------------------

After taking a few minutes to relentlessly torment Ronald for being a pathetic little snitch, the twins gave her a brief tour of the house. They showed her their room (which was filled with Zonko’s products and quidditch paraphernalia), told her to stay away from the ghoul in the attic, and said that anything she did that made fun of and/or annoyed Percy or Ronald was behavior they both condoned.

Then, the twins led her back downstairs for breakfast, which consisted of sausages, eggs, porridge, and other delicious foods. The twins messed with Ronald as he ate, tugging his hair and pinching him. Heracles stayed out of the torment this time, not wanting to get caught and risk losing her position as Molly’s beloved guest. Then the only other Weasley brother in the house, Percy, came down for breakfast. He wore thick glasses and pristine robes; well, as pristine as anything in the Weasley household could be. When he saw Heracles after coming down the stairs, he blinked, wiped his glasses on his robes, put them back on, and blinked again. A look of awe appeared on his face.

“Well I’ll be. Heracles Potter, we meet at last. I’m- “, the prefect started to say, but Heracles wasn’t paying him any mind. She was too immersed in her sausage. George took the burden of answering him off her shoulders.

“Percy the pinhead prefect. Yes yes, she knows who you are. Give the girl a chance to eat Percy! She just rode from London to Devon last night!”, George said defensively, and Heracles gave him a grateful look, while Fred laughed at the ‘pinhead prefect’ remark. Percy went red in the face as he sat down at the breakfast table.

“No doubt she’s only heard terrible things about me, being around you two all the time.”, the eldest present Weasley sibling grumbled, but no one gave him the time of day. Heracles continued gleefully eating in relative silence, until that was interrupted yet again when another member of the Weasley brood came trotting down the stairs.

“Mummy have you seen my jumper?”, a high, girlish voice asked. Heracles glanced in the direction of the voice. It belonged to a young girl, perhaps a year younger than her, with long red hair, freckles on her cheeks, and blue eyes. Heracles assumed it was Ginny, the youngest Weasley child and the only girl. Also the one who sent her Jamil the stuffed snake. Heracles would have to thank her for that in person. Mrs. Weasley, who was cooking more food, turned around and smiled at her daughter.

“Yes dear, it was on the cat.”, Molly answered. Heracles froze when she heard that odd sentence.

“McGonagall?”, she mused aloud, the image of an old tabby cat in a Weasley jumper appearing briefly in her mind. That was what brought her existence to Ginny’s attention. When she saw her, Ginny immediately froze and stared at her with wide eyes. Heracles, not really knowing why she was acting like that, decided to just greet the girl kindly since she was her friend’s sister and gave her a charming smile.

“Hello there. You’re Ginny, right? I’m Heracles, but you can call me Hera.”, Heracles said in introduction. Ginny kept staring at her, and the twins began to snicker. Then, without warning, the girl ran back up the stairs. Heracles blinked in confusion at the child’s strange reaction.

“I love that snake you made me!”, she called after her. Ginny squeaked and stumbled in her escape, but quickly picked herself back up and continued to flee. Heracles looked even more confused, and Fred and George were openly laughing.

“What did I do?”, the green eyed girl asked her friends. The twins gave each other knowing looks and then smirked at her.

“Ginnyfanciesyou.”, Fred said. George nodded in agreement.

“She’s been talking about you all summer.”, George said.

“Bit annoying, really.”, the two said in unison, and Heracles stared at them with bulging eyes.

“Oh. Do you think I should let her down easy?”, she responded. No one had ever had a crush on her before, not to her knowledge at least. Let alone another girl. It was flattering, but also kind of weird, because Heracles was pretty sure she was straight. Not to mention she had no interest in, nor the time for a relationship at the moment. Supplement that with the fact that she was way too young for romance anyways, and that all meant Ginny’s crush was doomed from the start. Fred and George shook their heads.

“Na, let it die on its own. Ginny’s eleven, any crush from her won’t last long. Her interest in you will go away once she has the chance to see you everyday at school and realizes you aren’t the mythical being she’s concocted in her head.”, Fred advised, and Heracles nodded, before promptly going back to her breakfast. Then there was yet another interruption.

“Morning Weasleys!”, a chipper male voice yelled. Heracles looked up from her food and saw a tall, thin, balding red haired man with blue eyes, wearing green robes. He came clamoring in, and had the familiar expression of someone suffering from lack of sleep.

“Morning Dad!”, the Weasley boys chorused, revealing that the man was Arthur Weasley, the person Heracles had spent quite a bit of time explaining non-magical objects to. The man shook his head as he sat a box down on a table in the living room.

“What a night! Nine raids! Nine!”, the man cried with a shake of his head. Heracles knew he was referring to dark artifact raids. The twins had told her about them in their letters, and had told her their dad was starting to look like her with all the sleep he wasn’t getting. Heracles had sent them a letter that sprayed water in their face for that comment. Arthur sighed in relief as he sat down at the table, and looked over at his children with a smile. Then he frowned when he realized there was one more redhead than there should have been, and this one had hair much too dark to be a Weasley.

“You’re not ginger. The heck is this?”, Arthur said, his sleep deprivation making him unusually blunt. Fred and George laughed, and Heracles, knowing how lack of sleep could affect a person, took his words in stride.

“I’m Heracles sir, Heracles Potter. But you can just call me Hera.”, Heracles said with a smile, and Arthur smiled brightly at her.

“Good Lord, are you really? It’s fantastic to finally meet you in person, Hera! The twins have told us all about you, of course! Thank you for answering my questions about Muggle radio, by the way. You have no idea how enlightening your letters are. They’ve taught me more than any Muggle Studies class ever did.”, Arthur said as he reached over to shake Heracles’s hand. Heracles shook it firmly and nodded at the man.

“It was no trouble at all. Science was one of my best subjects in school before starting at Hogwarts. Explaining radio wasn’t difficult to do.”, the green eyed girl said, not technically lying. She had been good at science in non-magical school as well as Night Raven College. Ronald sneered at her as he ate his porridge.

“Show off.”, he insulted under his breath, and George took the liberty of stepping on his foot for her, much to Heracles’s delight. Arthur didn’t notice his sons’ silent feud and continued smiling at Heracles.

“So, when did you get here? Not that you aren’t welcome at any time, but you seem like the type to write to someone about when to expect a visit.”, Arthur asked politely. Heracles opened her mouth to answer that very complicated question.

“Well… “, she started to say, but Molly turned away from her cooking ang gave Arthur a stern look.

“This morning. Your sons flew that enchanted care of yours to London and back last night!”, Molly cried out, looking pointedly at Fred and George, who were both staring down at their plates with matching smirks. Arthur looked at them both with glee.

“Did you really? How’d it go? Did you- ?”, Arthur started to ask excitedly, only for his wife to smack him upside the head and give him a look of warning. Heracles and the twins resisted the urge to laugh as Arthur quickly changed his tune to suit his wife’s desires.

“I mean, that was very wrong indeed boys! Very wrong of you!”, Arthur scolded with false anger, and Heracles snickered quietly under her breath. Healthy family dynamics were so amusing. Arthur’s ‘anger’ faded as quickly as it had appeared, and soon he was looking eagerly at Heracles.

“Now, Hera. You know all about Muggles. Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?”, Arthur asked seriously before taking a bite of his eggs, and Heracles grinned at the sheer silliness of the question.

“Well, it’s- “, she started to say, but she was interrupted by the squawking of an owl. Heracles and the rest of the Weasleys turned to look out the nearest window, where a great gray owl was flying right towards them.

“That would be Errol with the post.”, Mrs. Weasley said.

“INCOMING! CLEAR THE RUNWAY!”,the owl yelled as he shakily glided towards the open kitchen window… only to smack right into the closed window beside it. Heracles and the rest of the Weasleys winced at the sight.

“OOF! I’m dead… I’m alive but I’m dead… “,Errol the owl bemoaned dramatically as he slowly slid down the glass of the window. Heracles wondered if he and Hedwig would get along because of their shared penchant for dramatics. Once Errol finally detached himself from the window, Mrs. Weasley turned to speak to Percy.

“Fetch the post Percy, please.”, the woman asked. Percy nodded and got up, walking over to the windowsill Errol was now perched on and taking the letters from his beak. Percy flipped through them, reading the names written on the front and handing them out to the members of the family one by one.

“Oh look, it’s our Hogwarts letters.”, Percy said casually as he handed out the post. When he got to Heracles, he handed her a letter too.

“They’ve sent us yours as well.”, the fifth year said with a small smile. Heracles stared at her letter boredly. She had already gotten her books for her entire seven years at Hogwarts in advance, and she already had more than enough school supplies to see her through her entire time at Hogwarts, so she didn’t need her letter telling her to buy things she already had. Arthur smiled at her as he watched his sons open their letters.

“Dumbledore must know you're here, Hera. Doesn’t miss a trick, that man.”, Arthur said with pride, and Heracles, who was blatantly critical of Dumbledore, gave the man a dry look.

“I wouldn’t say that. The only reason he knows where I am is because the school has access to a magical ledger that keeps track of the residences of all Hogwarts students until they graduate. Dumbledore’s smart, but there are plenty of tricks that could fool him. Trust me, I’ve pulled a few.”, Heracles said as she tossed her letter aside and went back to eating. Ronald gave her a burning glare.

“Dumbledore is a great man!”, he said in defense of the idol of all Gryffindors. Heracles narrowed her eyes at him.

“Dumbledore is smart, but he’s far from perfect. People shouldn’t blindly place him on a pedestal because he took down a dark lord nearly a century ago. Even great men can make mistakes.”, Heracles said in response, clearly referring to Ronald when she said ‘people’. The boy began to go red in the face. Arthur, sensing an argument, gave his son a pointed look.

“Ron, that’s enough.”, he said, and the boy gave him an offended look, while Heracles smirked seeing that she was left out of the gentle scolding. Fred shook his head when he read his supply list for the year.

“This lot won’t come cheap, Mum. The spellbooks alone are very expensive.”, Fred remarked despairingly, and Molly gave him a reassuring smile.

“We’ll manage.”, she said, and Heracles, not one to let the people she cared about suffer when she could do something about it, looked up at Molly with innocent eyes.

“Mrs. Weasley, I could buy everyone’s school supplies this year if that’ll help.”, Heracles offered. It wasn’t an issue for her. She had more money than she knew what to do with, and with her investments paying off as well as they had, she had even more galleons in her vaults than she did last year. The entire Weasley clan looked at Heracles in shock, and the kitchen was suddenly deathly silent.

“H-Hera dear, we couldn’t possibly ask you to do that. Buying everyone’s things would tally up to hundreds of galleons at least! Besides, you’re a child, you shouldn’t be worrying about adult things like this.”, Molly said kindly, which was her nice way of saying ‘we don’t want charity’... something Ronald bluntly told her approximately two seconds later.

“Yeah, we don’t need your charity.”, the youngest Weasley son said with a sneer. George stomped on his foot for the second time that morning, and Molly glared at him.

“Ronald Weasley, that is no way to speak to our guest!”, Molly scolded, before looking at Heracles apologetically. The girl took this as her opportunity to bust out her Scarabian cunning, and gave the Weasley matriarch a beaming smile.

“It’s okay Mrs. Weasley, but after everything you’ve done for me, I want to do something for you. I have more money than I know what to do with, and you and your family have given me the one thing money can’t buy; people who care about me. I didn’t really have anyone back in the non-magical world. I didn’t have family or friends, I didn’t have homemade meals, and I had never gotten a christmas present before. But you and your family have given me all of these things. Buying your things when you need them is the least I can do.”, Heracles said.

‘The fact that most of what I’m saying isn’t even lies is kinda depressing… ‘

By the time Heracles was done speaking, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were on the verge of tears, Fred and George looked angry on her behalf, and Percy and Ron were in shock. After brief moment of silence, Mrs. Weasley scooped Heracles up in the first hug she had experienced in well over a year with a loud sob, startling the girl. Physical contact had not been on her list of ‘expected guilt-tripping reactions’.

‘Ack! Physical affection! My one weakness!’

“Oh, you poor dear! You don’t have to worry about any of that now, the entire family is here for you! You’re welcome here at any time during any of the breaks! Of course we’ll accept your gift Hera, but please don’t feel like you have to buy our love! We’d see you as one of our own even if you were in more dire straits than us!”, Mrs. Weasley cried. The twins nodded in agreement with her words, as did Arthur, who placed a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder. Percy and Ronald just sat there staring like idiots.

Heracles felt triumphant upon hearing her gift had been accepted, slightly uncomfortable when she was hugged (seriously, when was the last time she had been hugged? She knew it had been sometime before she left Twisted Wonderland, but she couldn’t remember when), and warm and fuzzy inside when she heard Mrs. Weasley say she saw her as her own. It was a whirlwind of emotions, one that didn't’ start to die down until Molly finally released her from her hold, kissed her on the forehead like a mother would, and walked over to the stove to fetch a finished pan of eggs.

“Now, who wants seconds?”, she asked cheerfully, and every male voice at the table chorused an eager ‘ME!’. Except Heracles, who quietly raised her hand. Molly chuckled at the sight.

—------------------------------------------------------

The next two weeks at the Burrow were a fun time for Heracles. She wasn’t able to conduct her research, since she might be heard by one of the Weasleys and they might get concerned, so she had to find other ways to occupy herself until next term started. Most of those ways consisted of helping the twins make new joke products, messing with Ronald, or getting to know the rest of the Weasley family.

Heracles would spend time crocheting cute little stuffed animals and scarfs with Ginny after the girl agreed to teach her how to do so. The first lesson had been rough, since the poor girl was too nervous around her crush to get a word out, but after spending some more time with her, Ginny got used to Heracles’s presence and began to treat her more normally like Fred had said. Heracles and Ginny slowly became friends over the two weeks, though Heracles was still much closer to the twins. She did think she and Ginny could eventually become that close, though.

Heracles would also spend time with Arthur in his workshop. She would tell him about all the objects he had there and how they worked while he listened gleefully. Together, they would play with wires, try to fix old radios, and even managed to get an old walkman up to operating condition. Heracles spent her time with Molly doing chores. The poor woman did most of the chores on her own, and while Heracles loved the twins and Arthur, they were totally useless when it came to domestic work. So Heracles would help Molly cook, do the laundry, and even de-gnomed the garden with the boys once (she got bitten, had to heal herself before Molly found out and panicked, and ended up decapitating the gnome that bit her with a cutting curse. She had to hide the corpse under Molly’s squash patch in the garden before the boys found out what she did).

While she helped with the chores, Heracles would learn interesting things about Molly since she liked to talk while she worked. She had two brothers, Fabian and Gideon, who had died in the first wizarding war. Her maiden name was Prewitt, and she was worried about how empty the house would be when Ginny left for her first year at Hogwarts. Heracles had tried to ease her worries with words whenever she was able, which usually ended in her receiving another Molly Weasley Bear Hug. Not an unpleasant fate.

Heracles didn’t even bother trying to get to know Percy better. Percy spent all his time holed up in his room, writing letters to his ‘secret girlfriend’ Penelope Clearwater. Something Heracles knew because his owl Hermes dropped one of his letters onto her head when she was weeding the garden for Molly one day. Heracles honestly wished she didn’t know, though. Reading Percy’s thirst letters was… traumatic, to say the least. Never again did she want to read Percy try and do the wizarding-equivalent of sexting with his up-tight vocabulary (who says a girl has a ‘lovely bosom’ anymore?). The only times Heracles ever saw Percy were mealtimes, and even then they didn’t talk.

Ronald was avoided at all costs, and when he couldn’t be avoided, he was made a fool of. Heracles knew it was probably wrong of her to take such joy in bullying someone, but that someone was a bully himself, so she couldn’t bring herself to give a f*ck. Over the two weeks she was at the Burrow, Ronald found himself subjected to all manners of humiliation; paint bombs, cursed playing cards getting thrown at his head, pinching and kicking at the dinner table, the works. Were those things petty? Yes, absolutely. Did Heracles care? f*ck no.

And unlike the twins when they pulled similar shenanigans to hers, Heracles never got caught. She was too smart for that, and when she was at risk of being found out by Molly or Arthur at all, she just shot them an innocent smile, brought up their favorite conversation topics, and they forgot all about it. Heracles was the one with the emotional advantage, and sheknewit. Ronald did too, which was why he gave up trying to snitch on her after the fourth day of not being believed

Two weeks passed far too quickly for her liking, and it was now her second to last day at the Burrow. Heracles was out in the yard, sitting in a lawn chair Mr. Weasley had had in his workshop, casually watching the twins play one-on-one quidditch with Ronald. They had tried to get her to join so they could play two-on-two, but Heracles refused on the grounds that she would never help Ronald in any way, shape or form, and she just didn’t like the game. It appalled the twins, but it was the truth. She didn’t understand all the hype around the game. In her opinion, Magical Shift was much better. She really needed to teach Neville and the twins how to play it. Perhaps Ginny as well. She seemed rather fond of athletics.

Heracles cackled as she watched Ronald struggle to stay in the air because he was. Her laughter intensified when Ronald went sliding off his broom and had to hold onto the end of it for dear life, kicking his feet like a mad man.

Yep, she had been right. It really had been a fun two weeks.

Notes:

Sorry that not much happened in this chapter, but there's still a lot of stuff to establish. I'm pretty sure next chapter will be more interesting to you guys. Next time, Diagon Alley and Gilderoy Lockhart!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 21: Year Two: Lockhart, Malfoys and Threatening Lawsuits

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles stood in front of the Burrow’s fireplace with the rest of the Weasleys. It was her last full day at the Burrow before school started back, and they were all going to Diagon Alley to get their school supplies. Molly had said they were going to floo, and Heracles already knew what that was, so it wasn’t very surprising when Ronald grabbed a handful of floo powder from a flowerpot, screamed ‘the Leaky Cauldron’, and vanished in a puff of green fire. Heracles followed after him, doing exactly as he had done. One uncomfortable experience later, Heracles was in a blackened fireplace at the Leaky Cauldron, staring down a sneering Ronald. Heracle straightened out her clothes and brushed the soot off her pants as she left the fireplace.

“What are you staring at?”, she asked irritably. Ronald continued to glare at her.

“You may have my parents wrapped around your finger, but I see you for what you really are, Potter; a slimy snake.”, the ginger hissed, and Heracles rolled her eyes at his supposed ‘threatening words’.

“And here I was thinking you’d take this opportunity to speak to me freely to come up with more original insults.”, Heracles bemoaned. Ronald sputtered at her angrily, but stopped when Percy appeared in the fireplace next.

After that trivial incident, the rest of the Weasleys showed up and they commenced their day of shopping. They stopped at Gringotts, where Heracles withdrawled the money they would need for their supplies. Ragnok escorted everyone to her vault, giving no indication that he knew Heracles aside from a sly wink he shot her when no one was looking. When Heracles got her money, the Weasley’s had gaped at her trust fund in awe. Arthur was the one who was most surprised.

“You’re parents sure did leave you a lot of money, Hera!”, Arthur said, and his wife smacked him on the head seconds later for being insensitive. Heracles shrugged and started gathering coins to put in her moleskine bag.

“Actually, this isn’t my entire inheritance. This is just my trust vault.”, she responded, and Arthur and the rest of the Weasleys choked on air.

After paying a visit to the bank, they all went to Flourish and Blotts to get the school books required for the year. Heracles intended to spend this time looking for books to read in her free time, but was unable to do so because the shop was so crowded. Heracles glared at the crowd of older witches waiting in a line that took up most of the shop’s floor space, excitedly squealing over something. It confused and irritated Heracles, who stood by a bookshelf, glaring at the crowd.

“What the hell is all this?”, Heracles asked the twins as she glared at the crowd. Fred pointed at a poster on one of the walls.

“Gilderoy Lockhart. He’s here doing a book signing.”, Fred started to explain, George nodded.

“Yeah. He’s some big shot writer who went on a ton of adventures. Thinks he’s a new age Newt Scamander.”, George remarked. Heracles scoffed.

“Even if he is, he’s a terrible writer. I flipped through one of his so-called novels the last time I was in here. The one about vampires or whatever. It was terribly written. The whole thing was just narcissistic ramblings about how ‘awesome’ he is. I couldn’t read past page five.”, Heracles said, sneering in disgust as she remembered one of the worst books she had ever read. Fred and George started to snicker, and Heracles looked at them suspiciously.

“What are you two laughing at? What’s so funny?”, she asked. Fred and George started laughing harder.

“Well, let’s put it this way Herakins- “, Fred started, using that nickname he knew Heracles hated. George finished his sentence for him.

“-You’ll be stuck reading a lot more 'narcissistic ramblings’ as you put it, because all his books are on our DADA reading list.”, George finished, and Heracles looked at them in confusion.

“But why would anyone make that the required reading for a class? Unless… oh no… “, Heracles trailed off in horror as she put two and two together. Fred and George grinned evilly at her.

“Oh yes. Lockhart is our new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor!”, the twins exclaimed in unison, and Heracles groaned.

“Bloody f*cking hell. If that idiot’s teaching the class, it almost makes me wish I had spared Quirrell the blade.”, Heracles complained with a shake of her head, much to the confusion of the Weasley boys, who had no idea about what Heracles had done to Quirrell last term, but the boys quickly wrote off her words as an odd metaphor for getting him sacked or something. Heracles then gave the boys a pointed look.

“And for your information, I won’t be reading any of Lockhart’s drivel, let alone buying it. I was already going to skip DADA this year, but Lockhart being the professor guarantees that even more than before.”, the green eyed girl said, and Fred and George gave dramatic false winces.

“Oof. A bit harsh considering you’ve never even met the guy, eh Hera?”, Fred asked, and Heracles scoffed.

“Hardly. I know he’s unworthy of my time just from the way he writes. I’ll have to talk to Dumbledore about that idiot when we go back to school. What is he thinking hiring such a moron?”, Heracles said with a shake of her head. Had Lockhart somehow managed to get hired at NRC, he would have been driven out by his students within the first week. Perhaps that would happen at Hogwarts, but Heracles wasn’t about to get her hopes up.

“Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Gilderoy Lockhart!”, a man announced, and a blonde man with blue eyes, matching robes and an idiotic smile appeared from a backroom in the shop. Most of the people in the store clapped, but Heracles was not impressed. She rolled her eyes at him and was about to attempt to do some actual shopping, when a man rudely shoved his way past her and through the crowd.

“Excuse me, little girl. This is for the Daily Prophet.”, the man brushed off as he walked past her, and Heracles made a mental note to find out who he was and ruin his career. After pushing his way to the front of the crowd, the man pulled out his ancient camera and took a picture of the smiling Lockhart with a bright flash. Heracles squinted at the light and resolved to just leave the shop and see if she could buy books somewhere else, but then Lockhart’s eyes widened as he caught sight of her in the crowd.

“It can’t be… Heracles Potter?”, Lockhart questioned breathlessly, and every set of eyes in the store turned to look where he was looking. Heracles bristled and glared at everyone, not liking the attention, and photographer whipped around and looked at Heracles with bulging eyes.

“Heracles Potter!”, he exclaimed as he roughly grabbed her by the shoulder and dragged her to the front of the room. Heracles tried to resist, and the twins tried to stop him, but it happened too fast. Heracles was then grabbed by Lockhart and forced into a side hug.

“Big smiles Heracles, together you and I make the front page.”, the blonde man whispered. Heracles glared fiercely at him and there was another flash, signifying a picture had been taken. Heracles finally got the chance to twist away from Lockhart, ripping herself away from his hold.

“Get your hands off of me, you worthless hack!”, she hissed at him, before turning to snarl at the photographer.

“And you, publish that picture or so much as mention my name and I’ll sue you and the Prophet for all you’ve got!”, Heracles threatened, and the photographer recoiled before scaredly walking away. Lockhart, seeing his plan to use Heracles’s fame to get on the front page of the newspaper wasn’t going as he had planned, decided to try something different to keep the crowd’s positive attention on him.

“Yes well um… Ladies and gentlemen, what an extraordinary moment this is! When young Heracles stepped into Flourish and Blotts this morning, to purchase my autobiography ‘Magical Me’. Which incidentally, is currently celebrating its twenty-sixth week atop the Daily Prophet’s best seller’s list!”, Lockhart declared dramatically, and the crowd clapped. It was then Heracles realized something.

‘This pathetic waste of space… he’s making the students buy all of his stupid books to keep them on the bestseller’s list! This selfish prick! I’ve seen the cost of those books, they’re way overpriced! Especially for families like the Weasleys! He’s basically coercing his students for money! Seriously, what was Dumbledore thinking hiring this asshole?!’, Heracles thought in disgust. Once the crowd stopped clapping, Lockhart continued with his annoying monologue.

“Heracles had no idea that she would be leaving with my entire collected works!”

‘I swear to the Seven if he’s trying to pressure me into buying his stupidly overpriced books by doing this overhyped transaction in front of a crowd of people I’m gonna body slam him into that book shelf.’

“Free of charge!”

‘Nevermind. The idiot lives another day.’

Then a huge stack of books was shoved into Heracles’s arms by Lockhart, and Heracles looked at him with contempt before marching back over to the twins, who were now standing with their mother and Ginny. All four of the Weasleys were glaring at Lockhart.

“He shouldn’t have grabbed you like that.”, George said. Heracles glared at the blonde as well, who was now signing books and pictures from his fans.

“You’re right, he shouldn’t have. But it’s okay, because now I have legal cause to file a restraining order against his ass and a valid reason not to go to his class. I’ll be writing to my solicitor tonight. If he can get this through the courts, he’s in for a hefty commission. By the way, are any of you actually going to Lockhart’s classes? I refuse to buy anything that moron is making money off of unless absolutely necessary, so I won’t buy his books for you all if you’re not gonna use them.”, Heracles said. Fred and George shook their heads, and as did Ginny. Mrs. Weasley, much to Heracles’s amusem*nt, pretended not to notice that her children were openly planning to skip class in front of her. It seemed she was angry at Lockhart for his rude actions as well.

“Right then. Well, looks like these are going to Percy.”, Heracles said, looking down at her newly acquired trashy books. Percy was the only Weasley so uptight he would go to class regardless of whether or not he would actually learn anything, and Ronald didn’t need the books because he didn’t read. Molly took the books off her hands.

“You run along now dear, go do that personal shopping you said you wanted to do. I’ll make sure Percy gets these.”, Mrs. Weasley said with a smile. Heracles nodded and gave her one in return, before she walked off towards the section on enchanted metals she wanted to check out for her research, the twins and Ginny trailing behind her. They didn’t get far however, because at that moment, Draco Malfoy came out of the woodwork to do what he did best; be an annoyance. The boy descended from the upper level of the book shop, and ugly sneer on his face as he stalked over to his housemate.

“Bet you loved that, didn’t you Potter? Famous Heracles Potter, can’t even go into a bookshop without making the front page!”, the ferret-faced boy exclaimed bitterly. Heracles scoffed at his attempt at taunting.

“Please, didn’t you hear me earlier? If that picture or my name appears in the Prophet at all, they’ll be hearing from my lawyer. And what’s it to you if I did? Jealous that people want me in the papers and the only paper that’s ever gonna want you is ‘Whiny Bitches Weekly’?”, Heracles responded savagely. Fred and George ‘ooh’ed at her comeback, and Draco went red with anger.

“You filthy little- !”, he started to insult, but Ginny stomped over to him in all her 5’2, angry glory.

“Leave her alone.”, the young girl demanded, and Malfoy smirked venomously at her.

“Oh look Potter, you’ve got yourself a girlfriend.”, the pureblood insulted. Ginny snarled at him ferally.

“Oh, you wanna take this outside? I’ll end you!”, Ginny yelled, scaring Malfoy. Heracles whistled lowly at Ginny's vicious behavior.

‘Yes, pop off Gin! I’ve taught her so well these past few weeks!’

“Freaky little ginger.”, Malfoy squeaked, failing miserably to not look terrified. Then another Malfoy popped out of the woodwork when a man with long blonde hair appeared behind Draco and pushed him aside by placing a black, silver topped cane with a snake’s head for a handle on his shoulder. Heracles decided she wanted that cane. Azul had a cane, and she wanted something that would remind her of Azul. The man gave Draco a sharp look.

“Now now Draco, play nicely.”, the man scolded with false casualness. He then gave Heracles an equally false smile.

“Lucius Malfoy. We meet at last.”, he said, introducing himself. Heracles, holding no respect for any of the Malfoys, openly rolled her eyes at his introduction.

“Just what I need right now. Perfect.”, the redhead said sarcastically. Then she smirked when she realized Malfoy Sr. had the same name as Professor Trein’s pet cat back in Twisted Wonderland.

‘Lucius the cat probably has a better personality, too.’, Heracles thought. Lucius narrowed his eyes at her blatant disrespect and reached out to grab her arm.

“Forgive me.”, he said as he tried to get ahold of her, but Heracles snatched herself away from him and glared at him fiercely.

“Touch me and I’m suing you for assault on an underaged witch.”, Heracles threatened, and Lucius went stiff, but continued speaking as if nothing had happened.

“You’re a legend. As of course is the wizard who made you one.”, Lucius said, and Heracles raised a taunting eyebrow at him.

“Oh what Voldemort? Yeah I smashed him up when I was a baby.”, Heracles responded brazenly. Lucius looked at her with calculating eyes.

“You must be very brave to mention his name… or very foolish.”, the eldest Malfoy said with a disconcerting smile. Heracles rolled her eyes at his dramatics. She never understood why people feared Voldemort’s name so much. It was just a name, and a really stupid sounding one at that.

“As much as I hate to give Dumbledore credit for anything, he was right when he said ‘fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself’. Like, it’s just a name. It’s literally just sounds coming together to make a word. It’s not a goddamn magic ritual for summoning dark wizards.”, Heracles said scathingly. Draco and Lucius both glared at her, but they could see they were fighting a battle they couldn’t win and turned their attention to Heracles’s company.

“Let me see… red hair, vacant expressions, tatty- .”, Lucius started to say as he surveyed the scowling Weasley children, picking up Ginny’s books out of the new cauldron she was carrying with her. At the end of his sentence, he was planning on saying ‘tatty second-hand books’, but he realized that none of the Weasley children had such things. All of their books were brand new since Heracles was paying for them, much to his dismay. He did observe however, that their robes were in their usual worn out state, and immediately pounced on the prime insult material

“...Second-hand robes. You must be the Weasleys.”, Lucius finished saying, and Heracles continued to look unimpressed with him.

“You’re going on about how rich you are but you literally just stole Ginny’s book.”, Heracles pointed out, and Lucius glared at her before slipping the book back into the aforementioned girl’s cauldron, along with another book that wasn’t there before. Since they were so focused on staring down the Malfoy patriarch, Heracles and the others didn’t notice. Ginny sneered down at her book like it had something disgusting on it.

“I’m about to bitch slap him so hard, I don’t even care.”, she mumbled, causing Heracles to snort. It was then that an adult whowasn’ta walking red flag showed up in the form of Arthur Weasley, who smiled at his children and Heracles and pointedly ignored the pureblood supremacist in front of him.

“Children, it’s mad in here. Let’s go outside.”, Arthur suggested, trying to help the four redheads make a quick escape, but Lucius was having none of that.

“Ah, Weasley Sr.”, Lucius said patronizingly, and Arthur looked at him with a mocking smile.

“Becky with the good hair. Nice to see ya.”, Mr. Weasley responded, causing Heracles and his children to start openly snickering. If there was one thing Heracles would never regret doing, it was creating the charm to make non-magical earth tech work around magic. It allowed her to introduce the Weasleys to a world of hilarious references capable of annoying their pureblood enemies, which Arthur had picked up more easily than she had expected. Lucius gave Arthur a furious look.

“Stop making those abhorrent muggle references I don’t understand! I know you’re insulting me! You think you can read me looking like that, do you? You’re poor!”, Lucius spat, ditching any pretense of decorum. Draco smirked at his father’s anger.

“Hah, really poor!”, Draco tacked on, and Heracles gave him a dry look.

“Are you capable of asingleoriginal thought?”, she asked sarcastically, letting him know that she thought the answer to that was ‘no’. Draco scowled at her in embarrassment.

“Shut up!”, he screeched back. Heracles merely flipped him off in response, causing the boy to sputter indignantly. Heracles then walked closer to Lucius, looked him dead in the eyes, and said the most childish and petty thing she could think of.

“We know your hair’s a wig. Don’t try denying it.”, she whisper-yelled bluntly, pretending to be subtle when she really wasn’t, and the twins burst out laughing at her accusation. Lucius had fire burning in his eyes and looked ready to Avada Kedavra her ass into the next century. And that wasn’t just a metaphor, because Lucius pulled his wand from its sheath in his cane and went to point it at Heracles. Apparently the wig insult had been enough to make him snap. The twins stopped laughing, and Heracles froze.

‘Oh sh*t, I expected him to have more self-control than this… oh well, I can just curse his ass right back and cite it as self defense when the Ministry tries to ride my ass about using magic outside of school.’

“I’m going to- !”, Lucius hissed, but he never got the chance to finish his sentence, because Arthur tackled him to the ground and wrestled his wand away from him before a single spell could be fired. It was only when the loud ‘crash’ of the two men hitting the ground was heard that people started paying attention to what was going on with the Malfoys and Heracles’s group. People gasped and yelled, clamoring to get a better look at the fight going on in front of them. No one seemed keen to break the two wizards up, because their antics were far too amusing.

For a few seconds, Heracles just stood there with wide eyes, watching the mess she had caused unfold in front of her. Mr. Weasley had just saved her from being hexed because she was being a smartass to a Deatheater. He could have very well just saved her life. Heracles should be helping him. She should be thanking him. But, seeing that the older man was in no immediate danger since Lucius no longer had his wand and seeing that the threat to her had been eliminated, Heracles made her umpteenth impulsive decision for the morning; she screamed ‘Worldstar!’ like Cater did that one time Deuce got into a fist fight in the halls and ran to steal Mr. Malfoy’s cane like she had wanted to do since she saw the thing. In the process, she also ended up stealing his wand because it was attached to the top of the cane, but she didn’t care about that. Malfoy could get another one. This one washersnow.

‘Unintentionally instigating fist-fights to steal people’s sh*t. Ruggie would be so proud.’, Heracles thought as she quickly stuffed the cane into her moleskine pouch before anyone could see… anyone that would snitch on her, at least. The twins saw, but all they did was give her raised eyebrows.

“You know you won’t be able to use that thing at school without Malfoy snitching to bigger Malfoy, right?”, Fred asked. Heracles snorted dryly.

“Yeah, but even if Mini-Malfoy tells on me to Daddy dearest, what’s he gonna do? Admit he lost his wand in a fist fight with a Weasley and accuse the Girl-Who-Lived of stealing said wand? It would be a politically damaging embarrassment.”, Heracles pointed out, and the twins contemplated her words before shrugging.

“Guess you’re right. That cane will look better with you, anyways.”, George complimented, and Heracles beamed with pride. Her proud moment was interrupted however, when Lucius and Arthur went rolling into a bookcase, causing hardcovers to rain down loudly upon them. Ginny, the twins and Heracles all winced in unison.

“Should we help them?”, Ginny questioned. Heracles shook her head.

“Nah, let’s let them sort themselves out. Your mum will probably be here in a few minutes to break them up anyway. You guys wanna go get some ice cream?”, the green eyed girl asked, and there were murmurs of agreement from the three Weasley children. Then Draco, who had ducked for cover under a table when the fighting started, glared up at Heracles like he wasn’t cowering in fear seconds earlier.

“See you at school, Potter!”, Draco yelled out over the chaos. Heracles gave him a disinterested look.

“Alright baby Becky, jog on.”, she responded, rolling with Mr. Weasley’s Becky with the good hair joke from earlier. Draco scowled at her.

“At least Ihavea father!”, he said in defense of himself, but Ginny gnashed her teeth at him, and that made him yelp in terror. Heracles smirked proudly at this display of savageness from the girl, and the four redheads all left the bookshop, leaving two still tussling middle aged men in their wake.

—------------------------------------------------------

After grabbing some rose flavored ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor (which ended up being free of charge because of the ice cream parlor’s kind owner, which put him on Heracles’s list of favorite people), Heracles, Ginny and the twins returned to the bookshop to find that the fight had ended. Molly was scolding Arthur, Arthur was looking ashamed, and Malfoy Sr. was desperately trying to find his missing wand without letting anyone know it was missing in the first place. In the background, Heracles heard Lockhart asking the photographer from earlier if he could work the fight into his story about him, upon hearing which Heracles whipped around and glared at them both.

“Do it and you’ll be hearing from my lawyer.”, she threatened, and the two men went pale and shut their mouths.

Shortly after that, Mrs. Weasley ushered them all out. Heracles shot one last smug look at the pair of irritated Malfoys, and she and the Weasleys went on their merry way to continue their shopping. Every Weasley got new robes, new quills and ink, new cauldrons, and Heracles went the extra mile and got Ginny a pair of nice dragon-hide boots she saw her eyeing in the window of a shop, as well as tiny but eager to please owl named Pigwidgeon, or Pig for short. Heracles even got Arthur and Molly some new robes and accessories as well, though they protested the purchase greatly. Still, they accepted the gifts when Heracles gave them to them, not wanting to upset her.

After returning to the Burrow a bit before sundown, Heracles was up in the tiny room the Weasleys used as a guest bedroom, sitting on her bed and flipping through her books on animagi (she was considering becoming one, though she wasn’t too inclined to spend hours upon hours meditating to achieve such an ability when she could be researching), when Ginny came bouncing into her room with a wide grin on her face.

“Come downstairs.”, the girl said with barely contained excitement. Heracles looked up from her book to ask her what she meant, but she had already run off. Heracles blinked in bewilderment.

‘Wonder what that was all about.’, she thought as she sat her book down and shrugged. The only way to find out was to go downstairs as Ginny had asked. Heracles made her way down the hall, and noticed that it was deathly quiet. This was very strange, because the Weasley house was never quiet. This made Heracles suspicious, but she continued down the stairs anyway. When she reached the bottom of them, she was greeted by a shocking sight.

“SURPRISE!”, the entire Weasley clan chorused, except for Ronald, who was sulking in a corner. Heracles stared wide-eyed at the display before her. The entire kitchen was decked out in silver and green streamers, clashing heavily with the house’s usual decorations of red and gold. The kitchen table was covered in a huge feast, filled with all the foods Heracles could remember telling Molly she liked. On a smaller table off to the side, laid about a dozen presents wrapped in green paper, and in Molly and Arthur’s hands was a green and white frosted cake, with the words ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERA!’ written on it in blue. Heracles gaped at the Weasley’s smiling faces.

“I-how did you- ?”, she started to ask, because none of what was in front of her should have been possible. She had never told the Weasleys that her birthday was today, or Neville, or anyone else. She didn’t want to tell them the information and make them think she expected a celebration because of it. The last time she had celebrated her birthday… it had been a prelude to something truly awful. She didn’t want a repeat incident, but her rising anxieties were put to rest when the twins smirked at her.

“Well, we heard from Neville- “, Fred started to say.

“-Who heard from his grandmother- “, George continued.

“-That your birthday was on the thirty-first of July- “, Fred said.

“-When the bloke wrote to us earlier this morning!”, the twins said in unison, explaining how they knew, but Heracles was still confused about how they had managed to put an entire party together in a single day, especially when they had been out shopping for most of that day.

“But how did you make all this in time?”, Heracles asked, and Molly gave her a warm smile.

“We’ve been home for five hours dear, that’s enough to put all this together if we’re in a hurry. You must have gotten so immersed in that book of yours that you lost track of time.”, Molly explained, and Heracles looked at the clock on the kitchen wall and realized she was right. Ithadbeen over five hours since they had gotten back from Diagon Alley.

‘Maybe I should start getting better time-keeping habits… ‘

But that thought was put on the backburner as Molly ushered her over to the table, having her take a seat and placing the cake in front of her, while Arthur put the candles on top of the cake and lit them with a spell. But as Heracles’s friends and the two adults she was starting to view as the only pair of adults she could trust in any way on earth surrounded her to sing happy birthday, Heracles decided that maybe this birthday wouldn’t be an omen of disaster.

Maybe she could let herself be carefree like she once was, just for a moment.

Notes:

Writing the confrontation with the Malfoys was fun as hell, and yes Ginny is the feral lesbian of the friend group. Honestly Heracles stealing Lucius's cane and then leaving to get ice cream while two grown men are squaring up in the background is such a mood. There hasn't been a lot of angst since I started year two, but don't worry we'll get to Heracles suffering later. Next time, getting back to Hogwarts and Ronald's stupid ideas!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 22: Year Two: Ronald Steals a Car, New Bling and Phoenixes

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

The day after Heracles’s impromptu birthday party was the day it was time to return to school. Everyone had to get up at some unholy hour to pack their things. There were shouts ringing across the house as everyone tried to get everything together as quickly as possible. Once everything had been packed, Heracles and the Weasley’s all loaded up into the flying Ford Angela so they could drive to Kings Cross Station. Thankfully, the car was bigger on the inside thanks to magic and was able to hold everyone comfortably, though the twins still ‘accidentally’ elbowed Ronald a few times when they were getting in. The London traffic was awful, and Arthur asked Molly if they could just fly to the station, but his idea was swiftly shot down with a glare.

By the time they all arrived at the station, it was already well past ten in the morning and almost time for the train to leave. In a flurry of movement and shouting, Heracles and the Weasley children all loaded their things onto trolleys and rushed towards platform nine and three-quarters.

“Ten fifty-eight! Come on, come on! Train will be leaving any moment now!”, Arthur yelled as they weaved through the crowd. Soon they arrived at the hidden entrance to the train platform, and Arthur gestured towards it.

“Fred, George, Percy, you first!”, Mr. Weasley said to his three eldest sons. The three boys all dashed towards the barrier and vanished as they ran into it. Once they were all through, Mrs. Weasley looked at Ginny with a smile.

“Right then, Ginny!”, Mrs. Weasley said, but Ginny was too busy staring at Heracles to listen to what she was saying. Mrs. Weasley quickly noticed this and frowned at her youngest child.

“Ginny, stop staring at Hera.”, she berated bluntly, and Ginny rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue before following after her brothers and running into the barrier. Molly and Arthur immediately followed after her, with Molly getting misty eyed as they ran.

“They grow up so fast… “, the woman muttered as they disappeared through the barrier as well. Now the only ones left were Ronald and Heracles. Heracles took a deep breath and braced herself.

“Alright, let's go.”, Heracles said, and Ronald muttered something along the lines of ‘don’t tell me what to do’ in response, which Heracles ignored. The two of them then ran towards the barrier, with Ronald going a bit faster than her.

“I can’t wait to get to the owl car and tell Jemima about the summer I’ve had. Honestly, it couldn’t get much worse.”,Hedwig complained from her place in her cage on the trolley. Heracles rolled her eyes at her owl’s dramatics.

Then Heracles blinked in surprise when Ronald didn’t vanish through the barrier like he was supposed to, but instead went crashing into it, sending his bags and his caged rat Scabbers flying all about. Thankfully, Heracles was going slower than Ronald and was able to slow her trolley down so it didn’t crash once she reached the barrier. It did still hit it though, but it was more of a bump than a violent collision. Hedwig, however, didn’t see the difference and gave an unholy shreek the second her cage made contact with the brick barrier.

“Good lord are my wings broken?! What about my legs?!”,Hedwig asked in a panic as she flapped anxiously in her cage. Once again, Heracles rolled her eyes at the owl.

“Hedwig, please calm down.”, Heracles asked tiredly, but Hedwig glared at her.

“Throw me head first into a wall and tell me to calm down you little- !”

“Oi, what you doin’?”, a large man in a station employee’s uniform asked suspiciously as he stared at Ronald, who was still laying on the ground after his fall with his things littered around him. Heracles gave him her best fake apologetic smile.

“Sorry, he lost control of the trolley.”, she lied, hoping that would get the man off her back, but the man just looked at her even more suspiciously when he saw Hegwig squawking in her cage.

“Is that an owl?”, he asked. Hedwig gave him a sharp look.

“A concussed owl, yes!”,Hedwig screeched back at him, but the man didn’t speak owl, so all he heard was more squawking. The man blinked once at Heracles and Hedwig. He blinked again. Then he must have decided he wasn’t paid enough to give a f*ck about the mess in front of him, because he just nodded at them.

“Right then. Mind the gap, see ya later.”, the man responded, and then he walked away. There was a brief moment of silence as Heracles and Hedwig processed this odd occurrence, but that didn’t last as Hedwig soon went back to her dramatics.

“My beak looks flat, I've got Voldemort beak!”,Hedwig moaned, and Heracles gave her an annoyed look.

“Your beak looks fine Hedwig! You barely touched the damn wall! You’re fine!”, Heracles insisted, and Ronald finally started to gather himself, looking at her weirdly as he did so.

“Are you talking to your owl?”, he asked. Heracles whipped around to glare at him.

“Yeah, what’s it to you?”, she said sassily. Ronald glared at her but said nothing else and continued to get his things. Once he was done, Heracles glared at the wall and touched it with her hand. It was still solid.

“The gateway’s sealed itself somehow. We won’t be getting through anytime soon.”, Heracles stated. Then there was a chiming from behind her. Heracles turned around and saw that the large clock on the station wall read eleven o’clock. She cursed under her breath.

“sh*t. The train leaves at exactly eleven o’clock. We’ve missed it.”, Heracles grumbled. Ronald’s face paled and he looked at her hopelessly.

“What do we do?”, he asked. Heracles shrugged. She wasn’t too concerned about her current situation. There were other ways to get to Hogwarts, so it wasn’t the end of the world that they’d missed the train. Heracles thought up several answers to Ronald’s question.

“Well, we could- “

“Let’s fly the car to school!”, Ronald proposed zealously, and Heracles looked at him like he was crazy.

“What? No! Are you stupid?! That’s a terrible idea. Not only is that illegal, but it’s also super dangerous! You’re twelve, you don’t evenknowhow to drive a car, let alone a flying one and I’m not sleep deprived enough to get into one alone with you like I did with the twins!”, Heracles exclaimed, and Ronald glared at her petulantly.

“Well doyouhave a better idea, little miss genius?”, he asked bitterly. Heracles gave him a dry look and crossed her arms.

‘Seven give me the patience to deal with this bratty little satsuma, because if you give me strength, I’ll use it to break his twiggy little neck. I could probably still do it now, but that’s besides the point.’

“Yes actually. Several. We can stay here and wait for your parents, and they can drive us to Hogwarts in the car. Or we could take a muggle airplane. Or a portkey. Or better yet, we could go back to your place with your parents and floo to Hogwarts. Or side-along apparate to Hogsmeade walk. There are literally so many better ideas for what to do in this situation than committing grand theft auto and roleplaying a Fast and Furious movie in the sky.”, Heracles refuted irritatedly, but Ronald just sneered at her.

“Would you shut up?! I’m so sick of you constantly acting like you’re better than me! First you act like an attention whor* at school, then you act like an attention whor* in my own house! You’re ruining my life, and I haven’t even done anything to you!”, Ronald yelled angrily, and both Hedwig and Heracles snarled at him in indignation.

“Oh tangerine boy did not just say that! LET ME OUT OF THIS CAGE!”,Hedwig demanded, but Heracles was determined to fight this battle of words on her own.

“How big of an idiot can you be?! I am the farthest thing from an attention whor*! Name one time I went out of my way to be in the limelight, at school or otherwise! Go on, I’ll wait!”, Heracles demanded. Ronald opened and closed his mouth much like a gasping fish, but said nothing. Heracles grinned bitterly at him.

“I rest my case! And ‘you’ve never done anything to me’?! All you’ve done since we’ve met is be a jealous, ungrateful little prat, and insult me solely because I’m a Slytherin who’s more skilled than you at any given opportunity! Even after I paid for you to get a new wand at Olivanders and for all your new school things, you still treat me terribly, even though I haven’t done anything to warrant your hatred! I am so sick of you acting like such an entitled prick, especially when I’ve tried my best to be cordial with you so as not to upset your parents! Well no more! You wanna hate me Ronald Weasley? Fine, go right ahead. You’re far from the first person to feel that way towards me, but just know that I don’t take any sh*t.”, Heracles hissed in outrage, and Ronald looked at her like she was the bane of his existence.

“Fine! And since you want to be an annoying little kiss-up, I’ll take the car to Hogwartsby my self!Let’s see how you fare when Mum and Dad aren’t able to get back through the barrier to help you!”, Ronald said, and then he grabbed his trolley and stormed off. Heracles glared at his retreating back and shook her head.

“What a jackass. Oh well, his funeral. I tried to talk him out of it. Not my fault if he gets expelled for going through with his stupid idea that I have pointed out multiple times is indeedvery stupid.”,Heracles grumbled with a roll of her eyes. Hedwig glared at the disappearing ginger as well.

“ … I still want to peck his eyes out.”,the owl said, and Heracles snorted.

—--------------------------------------------------

Ten minutes after Ronald left to f*ck around find out with the car, the gateway to platform nine and three-quarters unsealed itself, and a very worried Molly and Arthur came barreling through back into the main station to find Heracles patiently waiting for them on a nearby bench. Once they caught sight of her, the now very relieved couple explained what had happened on their side of the barrier; apparently, they had quickly figured out the gateway had been shut once they realized the train was leaving without Ronald and Heracles having ever gotten on it or saying goodbye to them. They then anxiously waited for the barrier to unseal itself, and were on the verge of just saying ‘screw it’ and hexing the thing into opening again when it opened on its own. Heracles then calmly explained where Ronald had gone off to, and by the end of her brief story, Arthur was pale with fear for his youngest son and Molly was red with anger.

“Oh, that-that infuriating child! I can’t believe he would run off and do that, especially after you gave him so many reasons not to! Stealing the car?! I thought I raised him better than that!”, Molly fumed, and Arthur was at a loss.

“What should we do?”, he asked no one in particular. Molly gave him a despairing look, looking just as helpless as he did. Heracles stood up and gave both the panicking parents a stern but comforting look.

“Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, with all due respect, there isn’t really much youcando right now. Ronald is probably airborne by now, and calling in the Ministry could mean a criminal charge for him as well as the two of you. I know it makes you anxious, but I think the best thing you can do right now is take me to the school so I can report the situation to the headmaster. He’ll deal with it as a private matter and try to track him down to make sure he isn’t halfway to France by now, and even if Ronald is expelled, at least he won’t be in trouble with the law. Having a criminal record will be much more detrimental to him later in life than having been expelled from school. You’d be surprised who will hire an expellee over a convict. You can always send him to another school like Beauxbatons or Ilvermorny, but you can’t take back the blow to his reputation having committed a crime at such a young age could cause.”, Heracles advised seriously, more so for the Weasley couple’s sake than Ronald’s. Arthur nodded tightly.

“Yes, I… suppose you’re right. We’ll side-along apparate to Hogsmeade and you can walk to the castle. Do you want us to go with you to help you handle the situation?”, Arthur asked. Heracles gave him a small smile and shook her head.

“No, I believe I’ll be fine. Dumbledore tends to lend an ear to what I have to say more than some others… whether he wants to hear what I have to say or not.”

—--------------------------------------------------

“So Ronald Weasley stole his family’s enchanted car because the gateway to platform nine and three-quarters somehow managed to seal itself, and is now flying it to Scotland as we speak?”, Dumbledore asked.

After apparating to Hogsmeade and taking a bit more time to reassure Molly and Arthur that their son would be fine, Heracles marched up to the castle and went straight for the headmaster’s office. There she found Dumbledore, sitting in his stupid chair behind his desk, looking as calm as ever. Heracles had just gotten done explaining everything to him, and annoyingly, he didn’t look the least bit affected by the semi-shocking news. Heracles nodded.

“Yep, that’s the jist of it. So, what are you going to do?”, Heracles asked. Dumbledore sighed heavily.

“Firstly, I’ll send out some of the staff to track down Mr. Weasley, and secondly, I’d like to continue this discussion. I’ve found something of… great interest to us.”, Dumbledore said after a brief pause. Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“It’s another horcrux, isn’t it?”, she asked. She had been expecting that. Dumbledore had never said it outright, but she knew he spent a good portion of his breaks searching for horcruxes. It was almost funny; so far, he was actively looking and had found zero horcruxes, but she hadn’t really made a committed effort to finding the pieces of Tom’s soul and had still found two in the span of a few months. Dumbledore nodded in response to her question.

“Yes. But this one… this one is different. I went to the home of Tom Riddle’s maternal family last month and managed to find another horcrux. A ring. The Gaunt family ring, in fact. But Tom placed a curse on it. It compelled me to wear it, and now… “, Dumbledore trailed off as he, for the first time Heracles had seen during that meeting, pulled up the abnormally long robe sleeve covering his right arm, revealing a blackened, mummified appendage. Heracles stared at it, wide-eyed in disgust, but also recognition. She had seen this somewhere before. Dumbledore sighed again at her reaction.

“It’s the result of the curse. It’s killing me, slowly but surely. Magic has been able to delay the effects and I’ve been able to hide their appearance from even my most trusted people by using a powerful glamor, but by the end of the year, I will be dead. I’m afraid this is the end of the line for me, my dear girl. My next great adventure is coming sooner than I had anticipated.”, the old man said with solemn blue eyes, but instead of reacting to this information with some form of panic or horror, Heracles just looked at him with annoyance.

“No you’re not.”, she stated factually. Dumbledore gave her a sympathetic look, thinking she was just in denial.

“I’m afraid that is not the case, my child. This curse is incurable. I’ve searched everywhere for a countercurse but- ”, he insisted, but Heracles just glared at him intensely.

“No, you’re notlisteningto me.You’re not going to die. I know how to fix this.”, Heracles insisted, then she got up out of the cushy armchair she had been sitting in and marched over to the headmaster’s desk. She held her hand out expectantly.

“Give me your arm.”, she commanded, and Dumbledore, deciding to humor her, did as he was told. Then Heracles pulled out something she had never shown him; her magic pen. Dumbledore eyed the object curiously.

“What is that?”, he asked. Heracles glared at him fiercely.

“If you ask questions I won’t help you.”, she hissed, and Dumbledore went silent. Heracles then took a deep breath and began to run her magic pen up and down the old man’s dead-looking arm slowly. Sparkly light seeped out from the jewel, entering the dead skin and slowly returning it to its normal state. Dumbledore watched this with awe.

“How- ?”, he started to ask, but Heracles cut him off with another glare.

“What did I say about questions?”, she reminded him, and there was more silence for a moment, but after a while of standing there tensely and continuing to cast her strange magic, Heracles sighed heavily and her expression softened.

“I learned about curses from those… people I told you about. The ones I saw in the Mirror of Erised. We did a project once, four of us. We were given the task of researching curses and their counter curses. The curse we chose to investigate was the desiccation curse. It’s a nasty thing, and a brutal way to go too. We got full marks on that project. I spent so much time on it, that I can still remember every detail. Including the symptoms of the curse and the countercurse. Once you know those two things, it's easy to recognize and fix.”, Heracles explained as Dumbledore’s arm steadily returned to normal. By the time she was done talking, it was as if nothing had been wrong with it in the first place. She released Dumbledore’s arm and pocketed her magic pen.

“There. Good as new.”, Heracles said. Dumbledore flexed his arm, staring at it in utter shock. A twelve year old girl had just broken a curse even he couldn’t break, and she had done it without breaking a sweat. But Dumbledore, ever the level headed man he was, soon returned his attention to Heracles, who was standing stiffly as she warily watched his every move.

“I assume you won’t tell me why you and those you loved were required to research obscure curses like this one?”, Dumbledore asked, already anticipating the girl’s secretive nature. Heracles gave him a grim look.

“You assumed correctly. I expect this to stay between us. Tell anyone what you saw here and I’ll know, and it won’t end well for you. I expect a formal life debt in exchange for this service, as well as for the Gaunt ring to be transferred into my possession. It’s mine by right of conquest, just like every other peerage affiliated title and possession Tom Riddle formerly owned. I’m also going to take a guess and say you already cleansed the ring of the soul fragment within it, correct?”, Heracles asked, and Dumbledore nodded.

“Yes, I did indeed cleanse the ring. It’s yours for the taking, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore said as he held out his now fixed right hand, his ring finger baring the Gaunt ring. Heracles plucked it off his hand and slipped it onto her own. She stared at the black stone set in gold, and the triangular coat of arms engraved upon it.

“This is the Peverell coat of arms. What’s it doing on a Gaunt ring?”, Heracles asked. She knew the Peverell coat of arms from her research on pureblood families earlier that summer. Dumbledore frowned.

“It did not always belong to the Gaunts. It once belonged to Cadmus Peverell, one of the brothers from the Tale of the Three Brothers. It fell into the Gaunts’ hands when a Peverell heiress married into the family many centuries ago.”, Dumbledore explained, and Heracles raised an eyebrow.

“Is that so?”, she asked, observing the ring once more. Dumbledore looked at her with curiosity.

“You do not scoff at the idea of a fairy tale carrying truth?”, he asked. Heracles gave him a sardonic smile.

“I’ve learned through personal experience that fairy tales carry more truth than people give them credit for. It’s not so hard to believe that the Tale of the Three Brothers is a true story that had its details changed with each telling over the years. I assume that since this ring belonged to the middle brother, it is also the resurrection stone?”, Heracles asked, familiar with the tale from when she read it in the Tales of Beetle the Bard after borrowing the book from Ginny. It had been one of her few instances of pleasure reading since coming back to earth. Dumbledore’s eyes widened at her astute observation.

“Yes. It’s part of the reason I was so tempted to put it on. But you must promise never to use it, Heracles. It only brings more suffering for both you and those that have been lost. No magic can bring back the dead. Not truly.”, Dumbledore said wisely, and Heracles laughed bitterly.

“I assure you headmaster, I have no reason to use this ring for anything other than accessorizing and pissing off Tom. Who would I bring back, anyways? I mourn my parents in some capacity, but I never got the chance to truly love them. The people I saw in the Mirror of Erised aren’t dead, just separated from me. Aside from the people that birthed me, I have no great losses. If you let me have this ring in the hopes it would go to someone who wouldn’t use it for it’s intended purpose, then you’ve come to the right person.”, Heracles said bluntly, and Dumbledore gave her a pitying look, but said nothing.

“If that is all, Miss Potter. You may go.”, Dumbledore permitted, even if he knew he would never have the authority to permit Heracles to do anything. Heracles smirked at him.

“Of course. Do let me know when- “, Heracles started to say in farewell, when something appeared on a nearby bird perch in a ball of orange fire. Heracles stared at the creature in awe.

It was a beautiful bird, roughly the size of a swan, with crimson feathers and golden tail feathers as long as a peaco*ck’s. Its claws and beak were a gleaming gold, and it had small black eyes. It was a gorgeous creature, and Heracles knew exactly what it was; a phoenix. She had read about them both in Twisted Wonderland and on earth, but she had never seen one in person before.

“Hello there, beautiful. What’s someone like you doing in this dreary old office?”, Heracles said to the phoenix in a soft, kind voice Dumbledore had never heard her use. Slowly, the girl approached the bird, who was looking at her curiously. Then, once she was within arms reach of him, she just as slowly reached out to pet him. She knew she had to be careful how she interacted with the magical creature. Phoenixes weren’t overly prideful, but they didn’t take well to people overstepping boundaries. The phoenix, much to her surprise, met her hand halfway and rubbed himself gently against her palm. Heracles chuckled at the show of affection.

“What a sweet little thing you are… “, she marveled, before internally bemoaning that this gorgeous being was likely the companion of Dumbledore (phoenixes weren’t pets. They didn’t have owners. They were far too free spirited for that), and therefore someone she wouldn’t see too often since she didn’t visit the man more than necessary. Then she got an idea.

“You will repay your life debt to me by giving me this phoenix.”, Heracles stated as she continued to stroke said bird’s unusually warm feathers, despite knowing well that no one could own a phoenix. In her desire to have continued contact with the bird, she forgot herself. Dumbledore sighed heavily at her command.

“Fawkes has been with me for decades, and I know him well. He is the result of an old family legend that states a phoenix will appear to a Dumbledore in need. He is a brilliant being with a mind of his own. He does as and goes wherever he pleases. He merely chooses to stay with me because he feels attached to me. He is not a pet, and he has no owner. Therefore, I cannot give him to you.”, Dumbledore explained tiredly. Heracles shot him an annoyed look over her shoulder.

“I know phoenixes can’t be owned, old man. I’m not daft like you. I was giving you the chance to repay your debt to me in a way that wouldn’t have a true cost, but since you wanna be a smartass I guess that idea has gone out the window. Now you still owe me a life debtandI expect visits from Fawkes. You’ll visit me, won’t you Fawkes? You can play with my dragon Norbert and harass that one lethifold that lives in the forbidden forest together.”, Heracles said irritatedly, before speaking to Fawkes with more fondness than she had ever spoken to Dumbledore. Dumbledore however, didn’t react much to this. Instead, he merely raised an eyebrow.

“There’s a lethifold in the forbidden forest?”, he asked. As he recalled, that particular beast only resided in tropical climates. Heracles shrugged as she scratched Fawkes under the chin.

“Yeah. I think it got here through being brought in for some Care of Magical Creatures lesson years ago, escaped, found some warm humid place to hide in, and has sustained itself by eating the various creatures of the forest. It can’t get onto the school grounds because of the wards, thankfully. You might still wanna deal with it, though.”, Heracles suggested, and Dumbledore found himself agreeing with her. Then Heracles remembered another issue she had wanted to bring up with Dumbledore.

“Why the hell did you hire Lockhart? I met the guy over break, he’s as pompous and utterly shameless as they come. He’s unfit to be a teacher.”, Heracles asked with a sneer at the memory of the infuriating blonde man. Dumbledore sighed.

“He was the only one who applied for the job, and even then, to get him to actually accept the post at all I had to bribe him with the fact that he would teaching the infamous Girl-Who-Lived. He is not ideal, but better an incompetent teacher than no teacher.”, Dumbledore said, and Heracles glared fiercely at him.

“No, better no teacher at all than that useless windbag! He’s a total narcissist, a terrible author, and he’s in for a rude awakening because I won’t be attending a single one of his classes! I filed a restraining order with him after he tried to force me into posing with him for a picture for the Daily Prophet, and that is considered an adequate response for such an act! Him and his ego can burn in hell for all I care, and if he comes near me at all Iwillsue both him and the school!”, Heracles declared, and Dumbledore, knowing better than to oppose the girl when she got worked up, raised his hands in surrender.

“I understand. Measures will be taken to ensure he has as little contact with you as possible, and I shall speak to Gilderoy about respecting the boundaries of your restraining order once he arrives.”, the old man conceded, and Heracles nodded as she stroked Fawkes’s feathers in a bid to help calm herself down.

“You better.”, she gritted out ominously. Heracles then removed herself from Fawkes (much to the phoenix’s disappointment, if his squawk of protest was anything to go by).

“Well, I should probably get going so I can unpack my things. See you later, head- “, Heracles started to say. Then Professor Flitwick came barging into the office, looking very flustered and out of breath.

“Headmaster, we found Mr. Weasley! He crashed the car into the whomping willow and Professor Sprout is trying to get him out!”, Professor Flitwick revealed, and Heracles openly cackled.

“Oh that’s f*cking hysterical!”, she yelled, causing Dumbledore and Flitwick to look at her strangely, but she didn’t care, she wanted to properly celebrate this moment. She had been right about Ronald’s stupid idea. He had made his bed, and now he would lie in it. And she would laugh at him the whole time.

Heracles f*ckinglovedkarma.

Notes:

And so we actually get to the start of second year. I don't really have much to say about this chapter other than it was fun to write the Chanwills0 scenes. The real G's know which ones I'm talking about. Next time, howlers and the start of a new year!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 23: Year Two: Howlers, Lovegoods and Mandrakes

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

After she finished laughing her ass off about Ronald’s terrible plan to get back to school failing miserably, Heracles bade goodnight to the professors and went to the Slytherin dormitory. Unsurprisingly, she was rooming on her own again in a dorm built for six. Parkinson had been one of her ‘roommates’ again and had incited another Heracles-boycott with the other girls, and they would be staying in a separate room, or that was at least what the rudely worded letter Heracles found on her bed said. There was also another letter, one from Charlie. It said Ortho and Norbert had been successfully transferred to the Forbidden Forest, and were settling in nicely.

After taking the time to unpack her things, Heracles turned in for the night and dreamed of swords and being covered in Quirrell’s blood. She would have to start brewing Dreamless Sleep potions again, regardless of Madam Pomfrey’s insistence that she never take those potions again after her near overdose last year.

When Heracles got up and made her way down to breakfast, she went to sit between the twins at the Gryffindor table, avoiding the Slytherin table all together. Several first years looked at her in confusion for this, and Malfoy glared at her, but Heracles ignored them. She also ignored Malfoy’s shocked and enraged look when he caught sight of her lovely new cane/back up, trace-free wand. Ah the merits of theft. Heracles grinned when she saw Neville, who was sitting across from the twins at the table and beside Ginny, who had apparently made it into Gryffindor last night. Both of her friends waved at her as she sat down.

“Hey Nev, have a nice summer?”, she asked, wanting to catch up with her friend she hadn’t seen in weeks. Neville nodded.

“Yep. Gran took me to see a Quidditch match. It was fun, but I wasn’t fond of all the noise. Sorry I couldn’t come to your birthday, by the way. I was planning on surprising you at your house so we could celebrate our birthdays together, but imagine my surprise when Kreacher apparated into my room and told me thatthose twohad kidnapped you to the Burrow.”, Neville said with amused crossness as he looked pointedly at the twins. Fred and George snickered at him, and Heracles raised an eyebrow when Neville said ‘our birthdays’.

“Our birthdays? What do you mean?”, she asked. Neville blinked at her in bewilderment.

“You mean you don’t know? My birthday is on the thirtieth of July. It’s only a day apart from yours.”, Neville explained, and Heracles felt something within her freeze.

The prophecy. That stupid prophecy Dumbledore put so much stock in, the one that had controlled her life the moment she arrived back on earth, could have technically applied to Neville. He fit the birth requirements. His parents had been renowned Auror’s that had frequently defied Tom. Tom could have chosen Neville. He could have attacked him and not Heracles. If he had done that, things would be so different. There would be no magical strings of fate tying her to earth, no righteous duties to a world that never cared about her… she would have been unburdened.

Heracles stopped that train of thought the second she looked into Neville’s eyes, however. Neville, sweet Neville who had stuck by her even when she did nothing but cause him to worry and act like a loon, didn’t deserve her fate. He didn’t deserve the task of having to take down a madman. But neither did Heracles, and the unfairness of it all wasn’t lost on her.

Then, as if someone had been reading her mind (which shouldn’t be possible, since she had her occlumency shields up), a finger tapped her on the shoulder. Heracles whipped around to see who had done it, and was surprised by what she saw. In front of her, there was a first year Ravenclaw girl with wispy white-blonde hair, huge silver eyes, and earrings in the shape of radishes. The girl gave Heracles a dreamy smile.

“So sorry to disturb you, but I just thought I should check and see if you’re alright. Your head is infested with Wrackspurts, you see.”, the girl said in an airy voice.

Heracles blinked in bewilderment at the girl’s words. She knew what Wrackspurts were. She had read about them in a magazine called the Quibbler (which most people disregarded as full of rubbish, but Heracles found it entertaining) over the summer. She had several issues, and she was essentially fond of the articles that made fun of the Ministry. Heracles opened her mouth to respond to the girl’s concern with false reassurances that she was fine, but stopped when she heard several girls at the Ravenclaw table laughing and muttering about ‘Loony Lovegood’. Heracles scowled when she saw this. She hated it when people were bullied. She had experienced enough name-calling and loneliness at the orphanage to never want anyone, especially such a nice seeming girl, to go through that as well. Heracles glared at the laughing girls, who shut up in fear of incurring the scariest of all the Slytherin’s wrath, before smiling warmly at the blonde girl.

“Thank you for your concern. I’ll admit, my head is rather full of Wrackspurts at the moment. It’s hard to think straight with everything that’s been going on. It’s been a hard week… no, on second thought, more like a hardlife.”,Heracles admitted sincerely, and the girl gave her a bright smile.

“Don’t worry, it’ll be alright. You’re familiar with Wrackspurts as well?”, the girl asked. Heracles nodded.

“Yes. I learned about them in the Quibbler’s fifty-second issue. Most people say the magazine’s rubbish, but I think it’s a wonderful, unique publication. It’s not afraid to speak the truth like the Prophet is, even if some of it’s stories can get a bit wild.”, Heracles admitted, much to the confusion of her friends who didn’t have any idea what she was talking about. The girl beamed as bright as the sun.

“That’s such a wonderful thing to hear. My father is the chief editor of the Quibbler. He loves it when people enjoy his work. Not many do, you know. Though I can’t for the life of me figure out why… “, the blonde girl trailed off, and Heracles gave her a reassuring smile.

“Well I love his work. I got a year subscription just a few weeks ago. By the way, what’s your name?”, Heracles asked. The blonde girl giggled.

“Luna Lovegood, but people here call me Loony. I don’t know why, though.”, Luna said in introduction, and Heracles frowned. The poor girl hadn’t even been at school a full day and she was already being bullied.

‘Well, that’s about to change.’

“Luna, why don’t you sit here and eat breakfast with us? I’m sure your head of house won’t mind.”, Heracles offered, and Luna nodded. Heracles grinned and began to nudge George to scoot over so the girl would have room.

“Good, good. Come sit.”, the green eyed girl encouraged. Luna sat down in the newly available space, and began to introduce herself to Heracles’s friends. While she did this, Heracles sent a look of warning to the entire Ravenclaw table as she openly shuffled her cursed cards in warning;

‘The girl is not to be messed with.’

The entirety of Ravenclaw seemed to stiffen and gulp nervously in unison as they received their silent message, and all of them collectively decided that bullying the weird first year girl wasn’t worth their lives, so they returned to their breakfast without a word. Heracles nodded in satisfaction as she returned her attention to her friends. She smiled when she saw Neville making the most confused face ever as Luna tried to explain to him what a Nargle was. He seemed enraptured though, but not because of Luna’s explanation. Heracles’s smile widened at the awed look in her oldest friend’s (on earth at least) eyes.

‘Ah, young love.’, she thought knowingly.

Then something strange happened. Errol, the Weasley’s family owl, came barreling into the great hall with all the other mail owls that usually came in the morning. Only, Errol didn’t land smoothly on one of the Weasley’s shoulders or on the table. Instead, he seemed to be on a crash course for where Ronald was sitting at the other end of the table.

“INCOMING! CLEAR THE RUNWAY!”,Errol screamed, before falling face first into a bowl of chips. Everyone at the Gryffindor table watched this in surprise.

“Ron, is that your owl?”, Dean Thomas, one of the few people who actually tolerated Ronald, asked him. Ronald shook his head and cursed under his breath.

“Bloody bird’s a menace… “, Ronald complained as he took the letter from Errol’s beak.

“Ahh I’m dead ahh!”,Errol yelled, then after a few moments he blinked, realized he was fine, and stood up.

“Wait no. False alarm, I’m fine.”,Errol announced, and every owl in the great hall and Heracles all rolled their eyes in tandem.

“Well that was embarrassing.”, Ginny griped as she glared at her brother and clumsy family owl. Heracles nodded in agreement, and a wide grin broke out on her face when she saw the red letter Ronald plucked from Errol’s beak.

“And it’s about to get a lot worse.”, Heracles said with malicious glee. Fred and George were grinning as well. They had received red letters like that from their mother countless times. Ginny blinked at them in confusion.

“What does that mean?”, she asked. Heracles nudged her head in Ronald’s direction and took a bite of the donut on her plate, ready to sit back and watch the carnage. The Ronald opened the red letter, and it quickly floated up into the air and took on the facade of a pair of violently frowning lips.

“RONALD WEASLEY! HOWDAREYOU STEAL THAT CAR!”, the extremely amplified voice of a vexed Molly Weasley screamed loudly enough for the entire great hall to hear. Ginny buried her face in her hands from second hand embarrassment.

“Just kill me now… “, she groaned, and Neville patted her on the back sympathetically.

“There there Ginny, everyone will know you don’t associate with him outside of your house when you start hanging out with us!”, Neville said encouragingly, and Heracles snorted. The red letter, which Heracles knew was a howler, continued screaming.

“I AM ABSOLUTELYDISGUSTED!YOUR FATHER’S NOW FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK, AND IT’S ENTIRELYYOUR FAULT!”,the howler continued. Heracles and the twins, at this point, were snickering at the pale and stricken look on Ronald’s face. Though Heracles did feel bad that Mr. Weasley had gotten in trouble for his son’s stupidity. Still, the satsuma had brought it upon himself.

“Oh Merlin, that’s proper embarrassing!”, Fred pointed out. Heracles cackled.

“Social suicide, more like it!”, Heracles tacked on, and the three of them cackled like hyenas.

“IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE, WE WILL BRING YOUSTRAIGHT HOME!”,Molly’s voice finished with a huff. Then the howler turned to Ginny, who stiffened in anticipation of being screamed at as well, but the letter’s lips gave her a proud smile.

“Oh and Ginny dear, congratulations on making Gryffindor. Your father and I are so proud!”, the howler said in a much softer voice than the one it had used with Ronald. Ginny blushed and looked down in embarrassment, and Neville continued to pat her back sympathetically. Then the letter burst into flames and disappeared.

Everyone in the great hall was silent. Ronald looked mortified, Ginny looked irritated, Neville looked sympathetic, and Heracles and the twins were still cracking up. Heracles’s laughter was silenced, however, when Luna tugged on her sleeve to get her attention. The tiny blonde looked up at Heracles with an infinitely knowing look.

“I know you're frustrated and hurting, but don’t worry. Your labor will bear fruit soon enough. Just be patient. You’ll see them all again soon.”, Luna said cryptically, and Heracles’s eyes widened in shock. When Luna said ‘them’, her mind immediately went to her friends in Twisted Wonderland. Heracles wanted to ask what she was talking about, but Luna’s knowing look vanished as soon as it appeared and she turned her attention to the food, holding up a plate to Heracles.

“More bubble and squeak?”

—-----------------------------------------------

After the most amusing breakfast Heracles had ever had, she and Neville broke off with the twins, Luna and Ginny for morning Herbology. Heracles normally didn’t go to classes, but Neville was so excited about getting to work in a new greenhouse, and she couldn’t turn him down when he asked her to go to class with him for at least the first day. So here she was, in her gardening smock, standing on the unofficially Gryffindor side of the joint Gryffindor-Slytherin Herbology greenhouse so she could be with her friend. The other members of the class were wise enough to say nothing about this.

“Good morning everyone!”, Professor Sprout yelled as she entered the greenhouse, and every student except for Heracles said ‘good morning’ to her as well. The stout professor gestured for all her students to come closer.

“Welcome to greenhouse three, second years! Now gather round, everyone! Today, we’re going to re-pot mandrakes.”, Sprout exclaimed, and Heracles was suddenly paying very close attention to the teacher when she heard that.

During her research into becoming an animagus, she had discovered there were two ways to become an animagus; a person could spend months upon years meditating to find their ‘inner beast’, which was seen as the honorable method to achieving animal transformation, or they could take the slightly frowned upon but much easier route of placing a fresh mandrake leaf under their tongue for a month. Needless to say Heracles intended to take the easy route to becoming an animagus, but since fresh mandrake leaves were considered a controlled substance, they were hard to get. Heracles could just buy an entire mandrake plant since they were a less restricted commercial item, but those things were a nightmare to tend to and she would be paying ten times what she would for just the leaves. Heracles had been just about ready to give up on the idea of being able to turn into an animal at will, but now that the answer to her problem had fallen so neatly into her lap, the girl had no reason not to complete her goal.

After taking a quick look around the greenhouse to make sure no one was looking at her (it was against the rules and technically illegal to take plants or plant byproducts from the Herbology greenhouses without staff permission), Heracles plucked a small mandrake leaf the size of a quarter off the top of a plant and quickly placed it under her tongue. Once she did that, Heracles smiled to herself and returned her attention to Professor Sprout.

“Now, who here can tell me the properties of the mandrake root?”, Professor Sprout asked. Both Neville and Granger’s hands shot up immediately, each one looking eager to answer the question. Heracles knew the answer as well, but she was too tired to engage in classroom discussion for classes she rarely attended (that nightmare from last night had kept her sleep fitful. Being at the Weasley’s had eased her nightmares so much that she had almost forgotten what havoc they wreaked on her mental state and sleeping schedule). Professor Sprout, much to Granger’s disappointment and Neville’s joy, chose the cheerful boy over the know-it-all.

“Yes, Mr. Longbottom?”, Professor Sprout called, and for what wasn’t the first time since meeting him, Heracles mourned her friend’s terrible last name.

“Mandrake, or mandragora, is used to return those who have been petrified to their original state. It’s also quite dangerous.”, Neville started to explain, using all the confidence Heracles had imparted onto him not to stutter as he answered.

Heracles began to look even more tired than she already was when she heard the ‘quite dangerous’ part of Neville’s explanation. She already knew that about the plant, but it irritated her to no end how everything in the wizarding world seemed to be ‘quite dangerous’. Half the things Heracles had encountered at Hogwarts academics would have been filed as illegal and negligent towards children in Twisted Wonderland, and the school would have been shut down a week into lessons. Heracles stared at the mandrake-carrying pot in front of her with dead eyes.

“Of course it is.”, she grumbled dryly. Her classmates gave her a few odd looks, including Neville, but the boy continued speaking regardless.

“The mandrake’s cry is fatal to anyone who hears it.”, Neville finished explaining, and Professor Sprout gave him a proud smile.

“Excellent! Ten points to Gryffindor!”, the teacher exclaimed. Most of the Slytherin’s scowled and the Gryffindors smiled, but Granger huffed loudly. She seemed jealous that the attention of a professor was on someone besides her. Then the bushy haired girl started to glare at Neville, but Heracles shut that down real quick with a glare of her own. The pretentious girl squeaked and immediately started looking anywhere but at Neville, and Heracles grinned viciously. Professor Sprout held up a pair of well-worn earmuffs, ones that had been handed out to every student at the start of class without explanation.

“Now as our mandrakes are only seedlings, their cries won’t kill you yet, but they could knock you out for several hours. Which is why you’ve all been given a pair of earmuffs for auditory protection. So could you please put them on right away? Quickly, flaps tight down!”, Professor Sprout ordered. Heracles made a point of scourgifying her and Neville’s earmuffs before they put them on, not trusting a communal school item to not give her dragon pox or something. Professor Sprout then put her own earmuffs on and grabbed the top of one of the mandrakes.

“Now watch me closely. You grasp your mandrake firmly, pull it sharply out of the pot!”, the short teacher started to say as she uprooted her mandrake. Everyone except Heracles winced at the horrible sound of the mandrake’s muffled cry.

“Next you sit them down in the other pot, and pour a nice sprinkling of soil to keep them warm!”, Sprout exclaimed as she poured soil over the still screeching mandrake. As she did this, Neville started to look faint and wobbled on his feet. A few seconds later, the boy collapsed onto the ground. Heracles rushed to check and see if he was alright.

“Oh no, baby Groot just Thanosed Neville!”, Heracles muttered in horror. The people around her gave her odd looks, wondering what the bloody hell she was talking about. Sprout, entirely unconcerned with the safety of her student, just sighed and shook her head.

“Longbottom has been neglecting his earmuffs.”, Sprout declared, and Seamus Finnegan, another Gryffindor second year student who sometimes hung out with Ronald, shook his head at his teacher.

“No ma’am, he’s just fainted.”, the boy corrected. Sprout looked even less concerned than she did before.

“Nobody cares, just leave him there.”, Sprout said, waving off Seamus’s words. Theodore Nott gave the professor a dry look.

“Neglect.”, he stated, but he was ignored. Heracles stood up and glared at the teacher.

“I care! You can’t just leave a student passed out on the ground because you can’t be bothered to take him to the hospital wing!”, Heracles exclaimed indignantly, and Sprout rolled her eyes.

“If you care so much about Longbottom’s health, then why don’tyoutake him to the hospital wing Miss Potter?”, Sprout asked sarcastically, and Heracles glared at her as she bent down and picked Neville up bridal style.

“I will, and I’ll be reporting to the headmaster about your negligent teaching practices on the way there! I’m sure he’d justloveto hear about how you left the grandson of one of the Hogwarts’ board governors passed out on the floor of your greenhouse so you could continue with your oh so important lesson!”, Heracles answered, and Sprout paled considerably.

“Now wait just a moment- !”, Sprout started to say, but Heracles had already left the greenhouse with Neville, slamming the door behind her. Draco, for once happy about something Heracles did, looked to one of his least favorite teachers with a malicious smile.

“She’s going to get you fired.”, he said pridefully. Sprout glared at him.

“Ten points from Slytherin.”, she bit back, and Draco sputtered.

—-------------------------------------------------

After taking Neville to the hospital wing (where he woke up only minutes after arriving) and getting Professor Sprout put on probation for negligent practices involving students, Heracles and Neville went to their next class; Defense Against the Dark Arts. Heracles originally wanted to skip that class altogether with Neville in tow, but the boy hadn’t met their disaster of a teacher, and was therefore optimistic about possibly enjoying DADA this year.

That optimism was crushed in the first five minutes of class, when Neville saw all the widely smiling portraits of Lockhart hanging around the room. The boy looked thoroughly weirded out.

“I’ve never seen such a bloody narcissist. What the hell is this?”, Neville muttered with a shake of his head. Heracles snorted.

“Trust me, you ain't seen anything yet.”, Heracles said, and Neville looked at her, lips thin with worry.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”, he asked, but he never got an answer, because Lockheart had finally arrived. He burst into the room with an arrogant swagger, and looked out at his students like they were his adoring fans. Neville and Heracles were not impressed.

“I see your point. You wanna leave?”, Neville asked. Heracles nodded.

“You read my mind.”, she answered, and the two of them stood up, grabbed their things and got ready to leave. As they did so, however, someone grabbed Heracles’s sleeve. The red haired girl looked down at the self-righteous face of Hermione Granger with contempt.

“Granger, release me this instant.”, Heracles demanded, but Granger gave her a defiant look.

“No. We are all required to take this class. I have no idea how you managed all O’s with your horrendous attendance, but I will not let you skip out on valuable lessons.”, Granger said imperiously, and Heracles laughed humorously.

“Let me? You don’tlet medo anything, Granger. I am the only one in control of my actions If you want to sit here for nine months and listen to that peaco*ck stroke his overinflated ego, be my guest. But if you think for one second you have any right to dictate what I do whatsoever, then you are sorely mistaken.”, Heracles hissed maliciously. Granger started to sweat, and Lockhart finally decided to stop just standing around watching his students argue and actually do something.

“N-now Miss Potter, Miss Granger is right. You can’t just- “, Lockhart stammered, remembering the threats Heracles had made towards him at Flourish and Blotts. Heracles barely glanced his way.

“Twenty-five feet.”, Heracles interrupted. Lockhart and the rest of the class blinked at her in confusion.

“I’m sorry?”, he asked. Heracles finally looked at him properly. There was a burning annoyance in her eyes.

“Twenty-five feet. I assume Dumbledore already explained the parameters of the restraining order I filed against you. You have to be at least twenty-five feet away from me at all times, and since this room is twenty-five square feet, I’ll have to ask that you vacate the classroom until I myself have left.”, Heracles elaborated calmly. The entire room went deathly silent. Lockhart just stood there gaping stupidly, and Heracles glared at him.

“Did you not hear me? Get out or I’ll hex you.”, Heracles growled, and Lockhart finally snapped out of it. He quietly retreated into his office, and Heracles then yanked her sleeve out of Ganger’s grasp.

“Still want to try and make me stay in this classroom full of fools?”, Heracles asked with a sneer. Granger opened and closed her mouth, but she never got the chance to answer because Heracles stormed out of the room seconds later. Once she was safely in the hallway with her friend, Heracles shook her head and muttered something under her breath only Neville could hear.

“I hate this f*cking school.”

Notes:

And Luna has been introduced! She's definitely joining Heracles's group of friends. And I wonder what her cryptic advice could mean? Hm... Oh whatever, it can't be that important. Next time, more humor and possibly Colin Creevey!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 24: Year Two: Qudditch Roast-offs, Creeveys and Photoshoots

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Two weeks into the new school term passed. Heracles set up her lab in the third floor corridor again and got back to work on her mirrors. The bags under her eyes that had faded during her time with the Weasley family returned in full force, as did her use of pepper-up and dreamless sleep potions to function. Heracles had to apply even more makeup than last year to keep her friends from discovering her ill health.

Ginny and Luna blended seamlessly into Heracles’s friend group. Ginny was a very down-to-earth person who knew how to deal with the school’s bullsh*t, and Luna was just fun to be around with her odd way of looking at the world. It helped that she gave great, if slightly cryptic advice to anyone who needed it too. And apparently, both of the first year girls already knew each other before Hogwarts. Luna and her father lived close to the Burrow, so she and Ginny grew up having playdates together. They were already very close friends, and were usually seen together when Ginny wasn’t with Heracles or her brothers.

The teasing and calls of ‘Loony Lovegood’ stopped after the first breakfast of the year, and Luna sat with Heracles at the Gryffindor table for every meal. The staff, very aware of what Heracles had done to their colleague Professor Sprout on the first day, wisely said nothing about this. Most of them knew better than to try and get on Heracles’s bad side now. Except for McGonagall, who was the definition of a perpetual pain in the ass who didn’t know when to take a hint.

At the tiny blonde girl’s insistence, everyone in Heracles’s little group now had a year subscription to the Quibbler, and they got new issues in the mail every week. They could often be seen reading the magazine upside-down while wearing spectrespecs, much to the bewilderment of staff and students alike. But there was a genuine reason for this.

When she originally started reading the magazine, Heracles thought it was just a publication about odd magical creatures and slightly far-fetched stories, but when Luna instructed her to turn her latest issue upside-down and put on the spectrespecs that came with it during breakfast one morning, Heracles was astounded to find countless other, hidden articles in the pages of the magazine. And these articles weren’t just fun stories or theories; they were genuine, believable writings about corruption in the Ministry, the suppression of magical creature rights, and blood-based discrimination against muggleborns and halfbloods. Heracles had asked Luna why all of these amazing articles were hidden.

“Dad says the Ministry doesn’t like it when people publish the truth. He says people don’t like to hear that they’re wrong. So he has to use spells to hide the writings he’s truly passionate about from unwanted eyes.”, Luna had said with an uncharacteristic frown. After that, every one of their friends read their magazines in the same odd way Luna and Heracles did, and they would often have surprisingly intellectual discussions about that week's articles. They were having one such discussion by the Quidditch pitch while Fred and George got ready for team practice, when all hell broke loose.

“I know it won’t fix the relationship between wizards and other magical beings overnight, but I think every intelligent magical being should be allowed to attend Hogwarts and carry a wand. Suppressing goblins and centaurs and all the other magical beings just because they’re different isn’t morally right!”, Ginny declared with fire in her voice. She was turning into quite the magical creature social justice warrior. Heracles nodded along with her declaration as she leaned back further against the bleachers.

“Yeah, I agree. But try telling that to the purebloods in the wizengamot who activelysupportthe suppression of magical creatures.”, Heracles said. Neville, who was standing beside her, raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’tyouin the wizengamot? Don’t you have like, nine seats?”, Neville questioned. Heracles shrugged.

“Yeah, but I’ve got no interest in politics.”, ‘at least in the politics of this world’, she thought. But that didn’t mean Heracles didn’t have opinions, or wasn’t willing to support her friends’ political aspirations. Neville looked like he was about to say something, but then something happened on the pitch. The Slytherin quidditch team appeared, looking every bit the haughty pack of purebloods they were. They marched up to the Gryffindor team, who were stretching and getting ready for practice. Oliver Wood glared at Marcus Flint.

“What are you doing here, Flint? Pitch is already booked.”, Wood asked suspiciously. Flint gave the fifth year boy a smug look.

“Easy Wood. We’ve got a note.”, the troll-like boy said as he held out a piece of parchment. Wood scoffed.

“Of course you’ve got a note, you snaggle-toothed piece of trash.”, Wood insulted, and Flint’s smirk quickly turned into a scowl. Heracles, who was openly eavesdropping on this interaction, grinned excitedly.

“Oh my God, do I smell beef?Roastbeef?”, Heracles asked rhetorically, pretending to sniff the air after her first sentence to hammer home the metaphor. She, Neville, Ginny and Luna began to descend the bleachers, hoping to get a better view of the drama. As they did so, Wood snatched the parchment from Flint’s hand and read it aloud for his team to hear.

“‘I, Professor Severus Snape, do not care that Gryffindor has booked the pitch in advance. You stole the quidditch cup last year because of favoritism from Professor McGonagall and we’re stealing the pitch now. Get over it or cry to your mum’. Flint, this is clearly a forgery.”, Wood read disbelievingly, with nods of agreement from the rest of his team. They all hated Professor Snape, but eventheyknew he would never tell them to ‘go cry to their mums’. Flint cursed and turned around to look at one of his teammates.

“Draco, you said they wouldn’t catch on!”, the quidditch captain hissed. Heracles and her friends were all shocked to see Draco Malfoy, wearing the Slytherin seeker robes and looked very startled.

“I thought they wouldn’t!”, Draco defended weakly. Flint glared at him, and Heracles sneered at the little blonde liar.

“Malfoy, if you’re going to boast about being a Slytherin every other time you open your mouth, at leastactlike a Slytherin and be better at forging signatures.”, Heracles berated tauntingly. Draco sneered up at her.

“You’re one to talk, you bloody house traitor. Still fraternizing with Gryffindors, I see. Since you love them so much, why don’t you go and cry to your mum with the rest of them? Oh wait, you can’t, ‘cause your mum’sdead!”,Draco spat, and Heracles rolled her eyes at the fourth-rate insult.

“Why you let baby Becky on the team is something I’ll never know, Flint. Let me guess, those fancy Nimbus 2001’s are what got him the seeker spot?”, Heracles observed. The Slytherin team turned red from rage and embarrassment at being called out, and Ginny, ever passionate about quidditch, marveled at the current best brooms on the market.

“Woah, Nimbus 2001’s! Where’d you get those from?!”, Ginny asked excitedly, forgetting her hatred of Malfoy for a split second when she was able to look at the broom she had been coveting for months. Heracles gave her an exasperated look.

“I just said where, Gin.”, Heracles pointed out, and Malfoy glared at the first year.

“With money Weasley, because I’m not a stanky peasant!”, Malfoy bit back. Fred and George creeped up behind him, faces devoid of their usual smiles and an intimidating air surrounding them.

“Now turn around and say that to my face. I dare you.”, George said flatly, and Ginny, remembering that she was a feral gremlin, gnashed her teeth at the scrawny blonde kid in front of her. Malfoy squeaked, and Heracles gave the twins a pointed look.

“Leave him be, guys. Ferret-face isn’t worth the detention you’ll get for giving him a black eye.”, Heracles ordered, and Draco looked at her in fury. How dare she act like she was better than him, like she was being gracious by calling off her weasels?!

“No one asked your opinion, you filthy little halfblood!”, Draco insulted. Heracles rolled her eyes.

“Youreallyneed to come up with more original insults that don’t involve people’s heritage or wealth. And you really wanna talk about blood status? If you were any more inbred you’d be a sandwich!”, Heracles exclaimed, and Fred grinned as he got an idea to aid Heracles in her one-woman Malfoy smear campaign.

“Sweet home Alabama~!”, the red haired fourth year sang, causing his brother and everyone else who was there and familiar with muggle music to laugh. Draco scowled indignantly.

“I am not inbred!”, he denied. Heracles gave him a bland look.

“Babes your grandma didn’t even have to change her name when she married your granddad.”, Heracles pointed out, remembering all she had learned when she had studied the Malfoy family tree over the summer. Neville made an ‘o’ of understanding with his mouth.

“Oh that must be why you’re so sickly looking, ‘cause you’re inbred!”, Neville pointed out, and Draco glared at him in embarrassment.

“Wait til my father here’s about this!”, he exclaimed. Heracles smirked.

“He already knows, they did it on purpose.”, Heracles stated, and Draco looked like he was about to blow a fuse. Luna closely observed the Slytherin boy’s appearance with her perpetually wide eyes.

“That’s probably why he’s got such a weak chin.”, the blonde girl observed, and every Gryffindor as well as Heracles snickered. Luna was always so funny even when she wasn’t trying to be. Draco, desperately trying to escape the humiliation he was being put through, glared at Ginny and the twins.

“Well the Weasleys can talk! Aren’t your parents cousins?!”, Draco asked. Ginny scowled at him.

“Four times removed and they didn’t know, it’s not the same! Besides, at this point every halfblood and pureblood in England are related to each other somehow, so what does it matter?!”, Ginny defended, and her brothers nodded along with her words. Draco screamed in frustration.

“UGH! That doesn’t matter, because Wealey’s poor, and you're a filthy halfblood Potter! So there!”, Draco yelled, subverting all the arguments made against his bloodpurest logic with sheer pettiness. Then Heracles gave him an ‘I know something you don’t’ smirk, and Draco knew he was f*cked.

“You sure do love using blood status as an insult Malfoy, which is funny, because the last time I checked, the Malfoys have a long history of rubbing elbows with muggles and all the other people they claim to hate. I read the Pureblood Directory over the summer, and it contained somefascinatinginformation about the history of the Malfoy family. Did you know the first documented member of the Malfoy family, Armand Malfoy, came here with William the Conqueror during the Norman invasion of England as one of his knights? The first known Malfoy was in service to amuggle.And that’s not all. Your family had close contact with muggle elites dating back centuries ago, and they only stopped contact when the Statute of Secrecy was established in 1692. And even after that, your ancestors still married halfbloods, muggleborns, and I do recall seeing several muggles on your family tree during the Tudor era. Your family only started claiming to be ‘pureblood’ and intermarrying with other purebloods around three centuries ago. So It’s funny that you lord blood status over people Malfoy, especially when your own blood status is shaky at best. At leastIknow I’m totally halfblood, which is more than you can say for yourself.”, Heracles monologued, causing the entire Slytherin team (and most of the Gryffindor team) jaws to drop. They hadn’t been aware any of that information she had just dumped upon them. Even Heracles’s friends were shocked. Draco’s face went from stricken and pale to red and angry.

“Lies! You're lying!”, he cried. Heracles laughed mockingly.

“What reason would I have to create a lie that in-depth for a petty argument like this one? If you don’t believe me, you're free to check Cantankerous Nott’s directory for yourself. It records several instances of your family’s interactions with muggles, such as the documents that state your family manor resides on lands gifted from William the Conqueror, and letters detailing an interesting little rumor regarding Lucius Malfoy the first, your father’s namesake, and how he jinxed Queen Elizabeth the first to never fall in love after she spurned his attempts at courtship. Nott was a hypocritical pureblood supremacist, but I’ve got to hand it to the man, he did know how to cite his sources.”, Heracles continued smugly, and Draco looked like he was at a loss. He didn’t know what to say to recover from that devastating blow to his pureblood pride, so he listened to the cowardly part of his mind and decided to flee.

“Come on Flint, we’re leaving.”, Draco said stiffly as he turned away from Heracles, who was smirking even wider than before when she saw how much his words had gotten to him. Flint scowled at his new seeker.

“Draco, we still need to practice. We’re not leaving until we- “

“I will take that broom back!”, Draco screeched, and Flint immediately ceased his protests.

“We’ll practice tomorrow.”, the captain said in a voice high with fear at the thought of losing his beloved new broom. Then the entirety of the Slytherin team made a swift retreat, with Heracles waving at them mockingly as they left. Luna also started waving once she saw her doing this, but her waving was genuine.

“Bye-bye boys! Oh and Draco, tell your father thanks for the cane! It’s such a wonderful accessory!”, Heracles yelled as she held up her new cane, which she now took with her everywhere. Draco shot her an intense glare over his shoulder, and Heracles cackled.

“Oh, using Malfoy as a punching bag isfartoo much fun. Welp, I’m going to get back to work in the lab. Fred, George, the pitch is yours. Have fun. And Luna, you don’t need to keep waving.”, Heracles said as she stopped laughing. Luna kept waving anyway.

“I know.”, Luna responded, and Heracles shrugged.

—------------------------------------------------

The next day, when Heracles came out of her lab after a hard day’s work, looking like the thing from the black lagoon, she was interrupted in her trek back to her dorm room when a bright light blinded her as she rounded a corner.

“GAH! WHAT THE HELL?!”, she screamed, screwing her eyes at the intrusive light. At first, she thought she had been flash-banged by a spell, but this was quickly proven to be an incorrect assumption when she opened her eyes and saw a tiny blonde first year boy with a wide grin on his face, holding up an absolute relic of a camera.

“Holy cricket, you’re Heracles Potter! I’m Colin Creevey! I’ve heard all about you from the other students! Is it true you defeated you-know-who as a baby?! Can I see your scar?! I’m sorry if I’m asking too many questions! I’m a muggleborn, and I want to learn everything I can about the wizarding world, so I can tell it to my folks! They’re muggles! Wait, you know that already because I said I was a muggleborn!.”, the boy with the camera, now known as Colin rapid-fired out. He spoke so fast it almost gave Heracles whiplash, but by some miracle, she managed to process what he was saying.

Normally, Heracles would be very annoyed that some git with a camera had taken her picture without her permission and was now asking her invasive questions, but the way Colin spoke and his smile… It reminded her of Kalim. As Heracles got a good look at the rambling boy, she realized that there were other similarities between the two as well. The warmth in their eyes, how they could both come across as pushy even though they were just being themselves. Realizing this almost made Heracles wanna cry. But instead, she gave Colin and uncharacteristic compassionate smile as he finally stopped speaking.

“Yeah, I am. It’s nice to meet you, Colin. To answer your questions, I’m not really sure how I defeated Voldemort, if I did at all. It could have been something my mother did, but I was only a baby at the time so I can’t remember. And I would show you my scar, but I’m afraid there isn’t one to show. It faded away completely months ago. It’s nice that you want to help your parents understand the world of magic, but I’d like to ask that you destroy that picture you took of me. I don’t like it when people take pictures of me without asking if they can first, you see.”, Heracles said patiently, not sounding at all snappy like she did when speaking to people who weren’t her handful of friends. Colin looked at her with wide blue eyes and slowly nodded his head.

“Oh, I understand! I wouldn’t like it much either if people took pictures of me without asking first either! By the way, can I call you Hera? Heracles is kinda a mouthful.”, Colin requested innocently, and Heracles mulled over his question, before nodding slowly.

“I suppose so. I don’t let many people call me Hera, but I suppose you can be one of the rare exceptions.”, she relented, and Colin tilted his head in confusion.

“Why don’t you like it when people call you Hera?”, he asked, and Heracles gave him a serious look.

“Well, it’s kinda complicated. The main reason why I don’t let everyone call me Hera is because of my name itself. Heracles is the original Greek name of the hero Hercules and the name of his constellation. I’m not a big fan of Heracles the Greek for… various personal reasons, but that dislike pales in comparison to the absolutehatredI feel towards the goddess Hera. In every Greek myth, she’s a terrible wife, a terrible mother, and just a terrible person in general. She’s literally the definition of a petty and childish adult given far too much power and I hate her more than most of my various enemies. So if I let someone call me Hera, aka the name of my least favorite Greek god, I have to like that person enough that my liking towards them cancels out my hatred towards Hera. Does that make sense?”, Heracles explained. Colin nodded.

“Yeah, I guess it does. Wait, does that mean you really like me?!”, Colin asked with an ear splitting grin. Heracles chuckled at his endearing enthusiasm. She had never seen someone so excited to call someone by their nickname.

“Yes, it does. You remind me of an old friend of mine. You both have that same golden retriever personality that makes me want to give you head pats. It makes me feel happier than I have in a while if I’m being honest.”, Heracles, and Colin looked like he was at a loss for words. The-Girl-Who-Lived, the hero of wizarding England, liked him enough to want to give him head pats! This was a dream come true!

“Can I hug you?!”, he asked when he finally regained his voice. Heracles blinked at him in surprise and weighed the pros and cons of his request, before shrugging.

“Yeah, if you want-OOF!”, Heracles started to say, before she was tackled into a bear hug by Colin. The green eyed girl felt like the wind had been knocked out of her.

‘Seven, this kid’s strong for someone so tiny.’

“Does this mean we’re friends now?!”, Colin asked as he looked up at Heracles with his big blue eyes. Heracles resisted the urge to coo and nodded without thinking.

“Of course we are. I’ll introduce you to my other friends a little bit later.”, Heracles confirmed, and Colin squealed and hugged her tighter, nearly bruising her ribs. Then Heracles saw the camera hanging around his neck and got an idea for how her new friend could put his skills to good use.

“Say Colin, how good do you think you would be with a wizarding camera?”

—---------------------------------------------------

“Why the bloody hell are we doing this?”, Fred asked. He, his brother all of Heracles other friends were posing in the courtyard, smiles on their faces as Colin, the only person not posing, set up a timed wizarding camera a few feet away. Heracles answered him through gritted teeth as she tried not to let her small Mona Lisa smile falter.

“Because I want to have physical proof for my non-Hogwarts friends that I’m not socially inept and I can indeed make friends.”, Heracles answered, and Fred looked at her in surprise.

“Wait, you have other friends?”, he asked, his smile turning into a frown. Heracles saw that Colin was almost done setting up the camera and elbowed her ginger friend.

“Smile, it’s almost time!”, she reminded him, and Fred’s grin quickly returned. Once he was done setting up the camera, Colin rushed over to his friends as fast as his little legs could carry him.

“Alright, everyone say ‘night raven’!”, Colin commanded, using the odd phrase Heracles told him to use instead of ‘cheese’. Everyone was a bit confused, but didn’t let their smiles fall and said the phrase as the camera in front of them flashed.

“Night raven!”

—-----------------------------------------------------

Later that night, Heracles hung all the pictures Colin took of her and their friends on the wall by her bed. They spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking picture after picture. There was a picture of just the girls of the group and a picture of just the boys. There was a picture of just Heracles and Neville and one of just Heracles and the twins. There was one of just Heracles and Colin, one of just Heracles and Luna, one of just Heracles and Ginny, and there was even one of just Neville and Luna (Heracles knew a crush when she saw one).

Heracles smiled proudly to herself as she hung all the pictures of her new friends up on her wall. Everyone else had a copy of them too, but Heracles was the most enthused one to have the pictures. They were proof that she had done the one thing she had vowed she wouldn’t do when she first boarded the Hogwarts Express. She had made friends and found people she cared about again, people she could be proud to know.

Thinking about the concept of friendship reminded Heracles of her friends back in Twisted Wonderland, and her own pictures of them. They weren’t hung up proudly on the wall of her room or even her lab. No, they resided in a drawer in her trunk, never seeing the light of day unless she took them out to reminisce about happier days and remind herself of why she was putting herself through all those sleepless nights. She hid them not out of shame, but out of fear that her past in Twisted Wonderland would be discovered and someone would use her love of the people there against her. Someone like Tom.

With a heavy heart, Heracles went over to her trunk and opened it. She pulled the pictures of her NCR friends out of the drawer; the ones of them on Halloween, the ones of them at the interschool Magift tournament… the ones of them on her birthday. Heracles stared at one picture for a while. It was of her and the Octavinelle trio, sitting in the Monstro Lounge with wide smiles on their faces. Heracles caressed Floyd, Jade and Azul’s faces, sighing heavily as she did so.

‘It’s getting late.’, Heracles thought as she closed her trunk and crawled into bed. She kept the picture of Azul and the tweels with her. She hadn’t slept much the last two days, and she knew she needed to get some tonight. She turned out the lights and buried her face in her pillow, her mind wandering back to the last time she had truly spent time with her Octavinelle friends.

Notes:

Hope you guys like Heracles ruthlessly destroying Malfoy's self-esteem. Next time, the Octavinelle interlude!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 25: Interlude: Octavinelle

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Heracles stood at the exit mirror of the Savanaclaw dorm, waiting for her Octavinelle friends to kidnap her-come pick her up. After being thrown two parties by two separate dorms, Heracles had realized that being thrown separate parties by each dorm was something she should expect and that she should just go with the flow. Leona, Jack and Ruggie all stood behind her, as if they were standing watch. Grimm was on her shoulder, looking eager to continue partying. Farena, Scarabi and Cheka weren’t there. They had gone back to the Afterglow Savannah last night after Heracles went to sleep. It had upset her that she hadn’t been able to say goodbye, but Leona had comforted her by saying she would see them again when she came to visit him during the summer, so she had calmed and accepted it. Ruggie sighed heavily in annoyance.

“When are those damn fish gonna get here? They said they’d pick her up half an hour ago!”, Leona complained. Ruggie laughed, and Leona shot him a glare. Jack rolled his eyes at their interaction.

“Could you both not? It’s too early in the morning for this. Calm down. Azul will get here when he gets here.”, Jack said. Heracles and Grimm didn’t join in the conversation, still too sleepy to talk. Then, as if they had been summoned, a familiar set of twins walked through the mirror. Heracles immediately perked up.

“Jade! Floyd!”, she cried as she ran to hug them, and she squealed loudly when Floyd picked her up and held her in his arms, spinning her around gleefully. Jade watched him do this fondly.

“Shrimpy! We missed you so much!”, he whined as he spun the girl in his arms around. Heracles giggled and hugged Floyd back when she stopped spinning.

“But you saw me just a few days ago!”, Heracles responded. This time it was Floyd who giggled.

“I know~! But I missed squeezing my little Shrimpy~!”, Floyd purred like a content cat, and Heracles laughed. Leona rolled his eyes at the display.

“Seven, you damn eels are so clingy. Are you gonna take Hera to your party or are you just gonna stand here hugging her all day?”, Leona complained. Floyd glared at him and held Heracles tighter, while Jade gave him a ‘customer service’ smile.

“No need to worry Leona, we were just about to leave. Come along Floyd, there are things we need to help Hera do before the party.”, Jade said. Floyd made a whining sound, but did as he was told as he followed Jade out with Heracles still in his arms. Heracles looked at Jade curiously.

“Like what?”, she asked. Jade gave her a soft, genuine smile.

“You didn’t think we were going to ask you to celebrate with us while you’re still bone tired from all that Magical Shift you played yesterday, did you? We’ve set up a morning of self-care before the actual party to help you recover from your strenuous activities.”, Jade explained kindly, and Floyd snickered.

“Yeah Shrimpy, you didn’t think we’d drag you into a third round without some aftercare, right?”, Floyd asked slyly. Heracles blinked at him in confusion, unsure about what he meant. Jade frowned at his twin for his inappropriate remarks and subtly stepped on his foot.

“OUCH! What the hell, Jade?!”, Floyd asked. Jade gave him the side eye.

“Watch your language in front of Hera.”, Jade demanded, and Heracles became even more confused.

“Why would he need to watch his language? He didn’t say anything bad.”, Heracles asked. Jade gave her an indulgent smile. He had no idea how she had stayed so innocent in a school full of nothing but teenage boys.

“We’ll tell you when you’re older, Angelfish.”, Jade responded. Heracles mulled over whether or not that answer was sufficient, before nodding.

“Hm… okay!”, she chirped in response, uncaring about the information she wasn’t privy to, and both of the tweels laughed.

“Never change, Shrimpy!”, Floyd cried in between laughter, and Jade was inclined to agree with him.

—-------------------------------------------------

Taking her through the Monstro Lounge and into a newly installed room at the back of it, Heracles was surprised to find a medium sized day spa, equipped with a jacuzzi bath, message table and mani-pedi chairs. The red haired girl blinked at the unexpected array of objects.

“When did you install all this? I’m pretty sure none of this was here when I visited you guys last week.”, she asked. Jade chuckled at her reaction.

“Azul had it set up a few days ago. This is actually part of a planned expansion of the Monstro Lounge’s services. It’s a spa room for students to relax and take time for themselves.”, Jade explained, and Heracles gave him a knowing look.

“So it’s a new feature Azul added on to make more money, knowing that he could hike up the prices during stressful times like exam week?”, Heracles asked. Jade chuckled. She saw through his pretty words so easily, though he supposed he only had himself to blame for that, given he taught her how to see through them in the first place.

“Precisely, Angelfish.”, Jade confirmed with a proud smile. Floyd sat Heracles down, and both he and his brother kneeled down to be at her level.

“Now go and take as much time as you need to feel rejuvenated. The party can start whenever you’re ready. We’ve already taken the liberty of drawing a bath for you.”, Jade said, and Heracles smiled brightly at him.

“Really? Thank you guys!”, she said, hugging the two boys and dashing into the spa room as fast as her little legs could take her. Floyd laughed at her enthusiasm.

“Shrimpy’s just the best, isn’t she?”, Floyd asked as he stood up. Jade followed suit with a small smile.

“Indeed she is.”, Jade agreed, but their good mood was interrupted when someone rudely cleared their throat behind them.

“Excuse me? I reserved the spa room in advance over a week ago.”, some random Pomefiore student neither of the twins had ever met said arrogantly. The tweels turned around and gave him matching menacing grins filled with sharp teeth, their mix-match eyes glowing with warning.

“Interrupt Shrimpy’s me-time and I’ll squeeze yareal hard.”,Floyd threatened, and the Pomefiore student gulped nervously before promptly making his getaway.

—----------------------------------------------

Heracles finished her bath about half an hour later and swapped her pajamas for a clean set of day clothes. She was entirely unsurprised when Jade and Floyd stuck her in the Octavinelle dorm uniform like her friends from Heartslabyul and Savanaclaw had done with their own dorm uniforms. Heracles' uniform looked suspiciously like Azul’s, with the only two differences being she had no Octavinelle armband and no fedora.

After the twins finished helping her get ready, they led Heracles into Azul’s office, where the octo-mer was eagerly awaiting her presence. The second she walked in, Azul shot up from his desk with a genuine, welcoming smile and opened his arms widely for his favorite person.

“Ah, Hera! So glad you could finally make it! Come here and let me get a good look at you, darling.”, Azul ordered, and Heracles walked closer to him without a word. Azul kneeled down to be on her level, and with an appraising eye, he checked Heracles over for injuries, lack of sleep, or any other signs of concerning goings-on. Heracles stood patiently and let him do this like she had with Leona the other day.

Heracles knew Azul, and she knew he worried about her a lot. Most of her friends did. It was to be expected, really. Heracles did a lot of concerning things that warranted worrying, like forgoing sleep to do schoolwork, or play-fighting with Grimm while he was using his fire, or fighting overblots. That last one was one of the things that worried Azul the most, and the main thing that left him stricken and horrified every time there was another ‘incident’. He didn’t want his precious Angelfish anywhere near that chaos, not after everything she had done to bring him back from his own overblot and everything he had put her through with that contract. The Octavinelle dorm head’s anxiety was to be expected.

But the thing was, Azul took anxiety to a whole new level, especially when it was the result of him worrying about her well-being. So for his sake, Heracles let him do what he had to do to soothe his own worries. She let him invite her to dinner at the Monstro Lounge to make sure she was eating enough, she let him brew her potions to help with her nightmares, and she let him check her person for concerning signs. Like right now.

“Azul, I’m fine. We just played Magical Shift. It wasn’t like they were using me as the disc.”, Heracles insisted. Azul hummed to himself and gave Heracles a small smile.

“I know, Angelfish. I’m just making sure. Now, where’s that familiar of yours? Surely you wouldn’t want to start the party without him?”, Azul asked, and Heracles' eyes widened as she remembered that she hadn’t seen Grimm since she went to take her bath.

The cat-like creature had been on her shoulder one moment, and the next he was gone. Despite everything, Heracles hadn’t been too concerned when that had happened. Grimm tended to wander off on his own sometimes, and since he didn’t cause nearly as much trouble on his escapades as he did in the early days of the school year (like breaking priceless chandeliers ), Heracles let him do mostly as he pleased and brought out the rolled up newspaper when he misbehaved. Grimm usually came back after less than an hour, after all. But now his antics had come back to bite her in the ass, because Heracles couldn’t find him, and the party was going to start soon. Heracles shook her head in response to Azul’s question.

“No, I wouldn’t. But Azul, I don’t know where he- “, Heracles started to say, but she was interrupted by a knock at the office door. Azul stood up and smirked when he heard it.

“Ah, right on time. Come in. I hope he didn’t give you too much trouble.”, Azul said with his usual honey soaked false compassion. Jade and Floyd snickered under their breath, and Heracles wondered what was going on. Then the office door opened, and two frazzled looking Octavinelle first years walked in, each of them holding a very peeved looking Grimm by his front legs. Heracles’s eyes widened when she saw what Grimm was wearing. Instead of his usual magic gem and ribbon collar, he was in a tiny equivalent of the Octavinelle uniform, complete with his own little fedora. It appeared Grimm had been captured on Azul’s orders and forced into a uniform for his amusem*nt. Grimm glared at her from his place in captivity.

“Not a damn word, human!”, he demanded, and Heracles couldn’t help it, she started laughing madly. It was too funny, and he looked so adorable in that little suit! Grimm pouted, and Azul gave her a wide smile.

“There it is! There’s that laugh I know and love! I knew you would love my idea! I figured it was fitting that you two would match since dear Grimm is your familiar.”, Azul explained, ecstatic that his idea had made her happy, and Heracles gave him a grateful look.

“Thank you, Azul. You’re right, I do love your idea. I never knew Grimm could look so cute in a suit.”, Heracles managed to say between snickers. Grimm gave her a dry look.

“Don’t get used to it.”, he said bitterly, and Heracles started laughing louder. Once she managed to gather herself, Azul placed a hand on her shoulder and shot her a smile.

“I think it’s time we got out of this stuffy office. Come along Angelfish, your party awaits.”, Azul said with a flourish. Heracles raised an eyebrow at him.

“You know it’s not my actual birthday, right?”, she asked. Azul raised an eyebrow back.

“You know we don’t care, right?”, he said, mimicking her own question. Heracles shrugged in response.

“That’s a fair response. Alright then, lead the way Azul.”, Heracles answered, and Azul grinned wickedly.

“With pleasure.”

—-----------------------------------------------

The party raged on for hours. In the Monstro Lounge, it was like people were celebrating the end of a war. Jazz music was blaring from a live band, people were dancing in their finest clothes, and several students in Octavinelle uniforms were carrying around colorful drinks on silver trays. It felt like the roaring twenties had risen from the dead. Heracles sat in a large booth a good distance away from the dance floor, sandwiched in between Azul and the twins. She had spent the last few hours dancing, and was now taking a break so she could eat and rest her aching feet. Grimm wasn’t with them, as he was currently in a mocktail drinking contest with some random second years. She sipped on a fizzy blue drink Jade had brought her, and all three of her mer friends watched her do so with fondness.

“Having fun Angelfish? Everything to your liking?”, Azul asked, an arm wrapped securely around Heracles’s shoulders. Heracles didn’t care. Casual physical affection was common amongst her friends, probably because they knew she had never received much of that before meeting them. Heracles nodded.

“Yeah. I’m just a little tired. We did a lot of dancing. Didn’t know you had moves like that, Floyd.”, Heracles remarked with a snort. Floyd giggled.

“What can I say? I’m an anemone!”, Floyd responded. Heracles blinked at him in confusion when she heard his strange words, and Jade sighed and gave his brother a long-suffering look.

“It’s ‘enigma’, Floyd.”, the calmer of the tweels corrected, and Floyd looked at him in realization.

“Ooooh!”, Floyd said. Azul and Heracles chuckled at their antics. Azul then smiled widely as he remembered something.

“Close your eyes, Angelfish. We have a surprise for you.”, Azul said. Heracles blinked in bewilderment, but did as he said regardless and closed her eyes. She heard the music blaring and felt Azul moving next to her. A few seconds after closing her eyes, she felt something fasten around her right bicep and felt something soft land on her head. Heracles didn’t need to open her eyes to know what those two things were, but did so anyway. When she opened her eyes, she saw an Octavinelle armband tied around her arm and saw that Azul was fedoraless.

“TADA! Now you’re an official honorary member of Octavinelle!”, Floyd cheered gleefully as he clapped his hands and bounced in his seat. Jade nodded along, and Azul quirked an eyebrow at her.

“Do you like it? I thought the fedora was a nice touch.”, Azul asked, and Heracles gave him a shaky, warm smile. After receiving the armbands of Heartslabyul and Savanaclaw from Riddle and Leona, she knew she should have expected this, but it didn’t lessen the meaning of the gesture to Heracles in the slightest. She felt overwhelmed with emotion.

“It’s wonderful. Thank you all so much.”, she said as tears started to trail down her face against her will. Azul and the tweels immediately started to panic.

“sh*t! Azul, what the hell did you do?!”, Floyd asked urgently. Azul pointed to himself.

“Me? I didn’t do anything! Hera, what’s wrong?! Do you want me to- ?! Oh… Oh Angelfish.”, Azul started to say in defense of himself, only to be cut off when Heracles tackled him into a hug. The dormhead smiled in understanding and hugged the girl back, stroking her hair gently to calm her down as she sobbed into his four hundred madol jacket.

“Shh, shh. It’s alright, Angelfish. There’s no reason to be upset.”, Azul soothed. Jade and Floyd nodded along with his words and began to stroke Heracles’s hair as well. Heracles sniffled and lifted her face from Azul’s person.

“I know. It’s just-I really love you guys, you know? And I know this is probably a small gesture to you, but this means the world to me, Azul. So it can be a bit overwhelming. I don’t know how I didn’t burst into tears the second Riddle and Leona gave me their dorms’ armbands.”, Heracles explained between hiccups, snorting at her last musing. Azul and the twins gave her compassionate looks.

“Oh Angelfish, we understand. Do you want to leave the party for a bit to gather yourself? I’m sure everyone would understand if you did.”, Azul asked. Heracles thought about his offer but shook her head in refusal.

“No, I’m fine. Another drink would be nice, though.”, the redhead requested as she dried her tears on a cloth napkin, gesturing to her now empty drink glass with a small smile. Azul chuckled and stood up with a nod.

“Of course. Anything for the birthday girl.”, Azul said, repeating his earlier statement, before maneuvering out of the booth. Just as he was about to grab Heracles’s glass and make his way over to the bar, however, several unexpected guests arrived.

“Speaking of the birthday girl, care to introduce us, Azul?”, an unfamiliar male voice asked. Azul stiffened and whipped around to face the newcomer, a look of shock and slight fear on his face.

“F-Father?!”, Azul exclaimed. That word made Heracles divert all of her attention towards the stranger. He was a tall man who looked like he was in his mid-thirties, not as tall as the tweels, but still taller than Azul. He had short black hair styled similar to Azul’s, and his eyes had that same glint of cunning, but that was where the physical similarities ended. His eyes were a deep purple, and his skin was much darker than Azul’s, having a nice bronze hue to it. He wore an elegant black three piece suit with a golden shell tie clip a lot like the shell Azul wore attached to his hat. It didn’t take much to figure out that this was Azul’s stepfather. The man shot Azul a smirk that reminded Heracles a great deal of the boy’s own smirk.

“In the flesh, son. Well, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend? Or has a catfish got your tongue?”, Azul’s stepfather asked, his purple eyes falling onto Heracles, who resisted the urge to hide herself from view as she stared right back at him. Something about this man made her feel like she was being analyzed and appraised. It felt way too much like when she first met Azul for her tastes.

‘Bloody lawyers. Can’t so much as look at someone without deducing their entire life story.’, Heracles thought with annoyance, recalling that Azul mentioned his stepfather was a lawyer and the person that had taught him everything he knew about contracts. Now that was a scary thought. Azul blushed in embarrassment at his stepfather’s teasings.

“I-I- “, he stuttered awkwardly. Heracles was about to come to her poor friend’s rescue and introduce herself to the man, when another person interjected.

“Oh stop teasing the poor things, Caspian! Can’t you see you’re making them uncomfortable?”, the woman standing beside Azul’s stepfather scolded as she smacked him lightly on the chest. Heracles hadn’t noticed her before, but now that she was speaking her attention was on her. The woman was short and a bit chubby, with long hair and eyes that matched Azul’s. Aside from her build, the woman was the spitting image of the Octavinelle dormhead, glasses, beauty mark and all. Heracles knew this could only be Azul’s mother. Azul’s stepfather, now revealed to be name Caspian, laughed at his wife’s antics.

“Apologies, Marina. I was just curious. It’s not often our son makes new friends, let alone ones as interesting as… so sorry, what was your name young lady? I’m Caspian Ashengrotto, Azul’s stepfather, but I’m not sure who you are.”, Caspian asked with a smirk. Heracles opened her mouth to answer him, but Marina rolled her eyes.

“You know damn well what her name is, Caspian! Azul only calls home to brag about her every other day!”, Marina berated, and Heracles stared at her in awe.

“Azul talks to you about me?”, she asked. Marina looked at her and laughed.

“Of course, all the time! Everytime he calls home all he talks about it ‘Hera did this’, ‘Hera did that’, ‘Hera scored the highest grade on this test, I’m so proud of her’! He’s like a doting older brother, it’s adorable! He barely talks about his contracts or how the Monstro Lounge is doing anymore unless I ask him! You’re more important to him than all of that! It’s so sweet!”, Marina cooed. Heracles was touched, and Azul was red from embarrassment.

“Mom~! I told you not to tell anyone about that!”, he whined childishly. Marina chuckled at his reaction.

“And why not? Like I said, it’s sweet! Now come here and give your mother a hug! Your father and I came all the way out here from the Coral Sea to see you and your friends. It’s the least you can do.”, Marina ordered, and Azul walked up to her and hugged her with a smile on his face like the good son he was. Caspian soon joined in, and Heracles, feeling rather awkward watching such an intimate display of familial affection (something she most definitely wasn’t familiar with), cleared her her throat to get the Ashengrotto’s attention.

“Not that I’m not happy to finally meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Ashengrotto, but why are you both here? You didn’t really come all the way here just to go to my birthday party, did you? I mean, this is just a little get together Azul arranged, it’s not that big a deal… “, Heracles trailed off nervously, feeling fidgety under everyone’s gazes and worried she was saying the wrong thing. Marina broke away from her family and shook her head in exasperation, much to Heracles’s confusion.

“You were right Azul, this poor girl severely undervalues herself. Look around you, sweetheart! The entirety of Octavinelle is here, celebrating your birthday! You call this a little get together? You call this no big deal? I can tell you right now that this is averybig deal, sweetpea. To us and to everyone that cares about you.”, Marina scoffed as she gestured to the festivities around her. Heracles shook her head.

“I guess you’re right.”, she relented. Marina grinned at her triumphantly.

“There! Nice to see you feel the same way the rest of us do!”, Marina said. Part of Heracles wanted to feel offended that someone was therapizing her in casual conversation (that was her job as the unofficial school counselor, damn it!), but she knew Marina meant no harm by it, so she let it slide.

‘Not to mention she probably has a lot of experience spotting and trying to help people with self-worth issues after raising Azul for seventeen years.’, Heracles thought. Marina laughed suddenly and shook her head.

“Oh, I’m rambling again, aren’t I? So sorry, it’s a nasty habit of mine.I almost forgot the other reason why we’re here.”, Marina said with a sly smile that looked way too much like her son’s, and Heracles blinked at her.

“What do you mean?”, she asked. Caspian smirked at her.

“You didn’t think we’d show up to your birthday party without a gift, did you?”, the black haired man asked. He and Azul shared a knowing look, confusing Heracles further and causing the twins to snicker.

“Oh yes,thatgift. How could I forget?”, Azul said cryptically. Floyd nodded along enthusiastically.

“Yeah Azul, how could you forget!”, Floyd said in agreement. Jade gave a single, much less enthusiastic nod.

“Yes, I agree. Quite the oversight on your part, my friend.”, Jade concurred. The green eyed girl looked between them all in annoyance. She hated when they pulled this ‘I know something you don’t’ crap with her.

“What gift?! What are you all talking about?! Will someone please tell me what’s going on!”, she exclaimed in frustration. She could deduce that whatever secret all the mers seemed to be in on involved a gift for her, but what that gift was remained a mystery. Marina and everyone else chuckled at her behavior. Heracles crossed her arms and pouted. Floyd giggled when he saw this.

“You’re so cute when you get all huffy, Shrimpy!”, the eel mer cooed. Heracles glared at him. She was most certainlynotcute! She was very serious and very angry! She was going to say as much to Floyd, but then he started cooing again and pinched her cheeks like a grandma experiencing cuteness overload. Marina laughed at the exchange between friends and pulled something out of her little black purse.

“Well sweetheart, considering everything you’ve done for my son and everything he’s done to you- “, the woman started to say. Heracles smacked Floyd’s hand away from her face gently and raised an eyebrow at Marina.

“Like conning my friends into being corporate slaves, trying to steal my house, sending me and the aforementioned friends on a wild goose chase of a museum heist, rigging said museum heist in his favor, and nearly killing us all because Leona King’s Roar’ed all his contracts?”, Heracles asked dryly, counting off every transgression on her fingers as she listed them. Azul sputtered at her (totally true) accusations.

“I wasn’t trying to kill you! You’re not even eleven yet, I wouldn’t murder a child!”, he denied, but Heracles looked at him skeptically.

“The fact that you specified ‘you wouldn’t murder a child’ instead of 'you wouldn’t murder period’ is deeply concerning.”, she shot back. Azul snorted. Heracles didn’t hold his actions while he was overblotted against him, and he knew that, so this was all just them messing with each other. Marina frowned at the mention of her son's overblot and past misdeeds.

“Yes, all of that. Considering everything that’s happened since you two met, Azul wanted to do something special for your birthday. So, he called in a favor with my mother, his Grandma Ursa, and managed to get you something I think you’ll enjoy. That’s actually part of the reason me and Caspian are here, so we can deliver your present.”, Marina explained with a smile, before holding out a small black box towards Heracles. Heracles gingerly took it and the others looked at her encouragingly.

“Go on. Open it, Hera.”, Jade urged, and Heracles did just that. She opened the box, and was surprised to find a golden shell attached to a black fabric choker. It was a beautiful piece of jewelry, but that wasn’t all it was. Heracles recognized the object from several of her textbooks. It was a magic shell, a very useful but very rare magical artifact used to store and record voices. It had been created by the Witch of the Sea and was one of her most famous innovations… and also one of her most expensive.

“I can’t accept this.”, Heracles said with a shake of her head. A gift of this caliber was too rare and expensive to be wasted on her. Azul smiled softly at her, put his hands back on the box, and pushed it towards her.

“Yes you can. Hera, this shell is the least you deserve after all you’ve done for me, foreveryonein Octavinelle. You saved me from myself, and that’s a debt I don’t think I can ever repay, but I’ll try my damndest to.pay you back as long as I live. Consider this gift my first payment towards that debt, Angelfish.”, Azul said with a charismatic wink. Heracles gave him a tired look and sighed heavily.

“You’re not going to let me turn this down, are you?”, Heracles asked exasperatedly. Azul shook his head and Floyd giggled.

“Nope! Best to just accept the gift and be done with it, Shrimpy! Knowing Azul, if you turn it down, he’ll find a way to make you accept it one way or the other!”, Floyd supplied cheerfully, and Heracles knew he was right. The redheaded girl sighed again, closed the box with the shell in it, and set it off to the side on the table, before giving Azul and the rest of her company a weary smile.

“In that case, I guess I’ve got no choice. Fine, I accept your stupidly expensive gift.”, Heracles relented. Azul and the Tweels gave her satisfied smiles.

“Thank you, Hera. You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say that. Oh, and by the way, if you viewmygift as ‘stupidly expensive’, imagine how priceyKalim’sgift is going to be by comparison.”, Azul said teasingly, and Heracles gulped at the thought of Kalim trying to give her an elephant with a solid gold saddle or something. After that, Azul clapped to get everyone’s attention and stood up.

“But enough of that! The other gifts can come later! Right now, I think it’s time we all returned to the dance floor! Mother, Father, feel free to join us if you're up to it. Jade, Floyd, go find Grimm and make sure he’s not stuck in the punch bowl again. Hera, please follow me to the dance floor.”, Azul said, giving out orders like they were candy on Halloween. Caspian and Marina just shrugged and went along with what the boy was saying, and Jade and Floyd did as they were told without a word, being used to situations like this. Azul held out his arm in a gentlemanly manner for Heracles to take, and Heracles giggled at his suave behavior before getting out of the booth and taking his arm.

“You’re such a dork, Azul.”, she said to the merman through giggles. Azul looked at her with so much love in his eyes it made her breathe catch in her throat.

“Only for you, my darling Angelfish. Now, let’s dance.”, Azul said, and like that, Heracles was whisked away to the dance floor. The green eyed girl laughed gleefully as Azul twirled her to the tune of the electro swing Floyd had threatened the band into playing a few moments ago. The pair laughed and acted like children as the world beyond them became a meaningless blur.

For those few moments on the dance floor, all of Heracles’s problems melted away. She was happy, and she was with people that cared about her. That was all that mattered.

But things could never stay that perfect, could they?

—---------------------------------------------------

Heracles woke up groggily, groaning in annoyance as her body protested her awakening. It was honestly a miracle she was even capable of waking up in the first place, given how little she slept.

‘Five more minutes.’, she thought, wanting to retreat back into dreamland, where she was happy and not the neurotic, sleep-deprived depressed mess she usually was. But that wasn’t how sleep worked, and Heracles found herself staring up at her bed’s canopy in annoyance.

“Motherf*cker.”, she hissed to herself, before forcing herself to sit up. She noticed that she was still clutching the picture of her Octavinelle friends. Heracles stared blankly at the picture, focusing on her own happy, smiling face, before sighing heavily and unceremoniously stuffing the photograph into the drawer of her bedside table. She would put it back in its proper place with the reverence it deserved at a later date. Right now, she was just sodonewith remembering and all the pain it caused.

‘No time to be depressed. There’s work to be done.’, Heracles thought, and then it was back to the endless grind that was her life.

After all, since when was her life on earth perfect?

Notes:

Azul, Jade and Floyd content galore! Next time... I don't know! I finished this chapter on impulse and I need some time to think about what I want to do next chapter!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 26: Year Two: Nundu, Mysterious Voices and Petrified Cats

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Almost two months had passed since Heracles’s second year had started, and they had been a busy two months (then again, whenweren’ther months busy?). Heracles had made three new mirrors, and unsurprisingly, none had been successful. Her health and general well-being were in the toilet because of that, but that wasn’t anything new. Malfoy was an annoyance, which was also not anything new, but Ronald and Granger were somehow even bigger pains in the ass than they were before. Ronald because he was stewing over the fact that Heracles ‘ratted him out’ to his parents over the flying car incident, and Granger because Heracles had the nerve to tell her to f*ck off in her home turf during Lockhart’s class. They were nuisances, but nothing more since the twins usually ‘took care’ of those two on her behalf.

School work was as easy as it always was. Heracles already had all her work for the year turned in for all her classes, with Neville delivering her work for Lockhart’s class so he wouldn’t be in violation of the restraining order. And boy, had that been a big hit to his reputation. The Girl-Who-Lived, filing a restraining order against him after he tried to use her fame to further his own notoriety when she was just minding her own business at a bookstore. The Daily Prophet had had a field day. The only reason Lockhart still had his job was because the middle aged witches that fawned over him and his books were also the mothers of most of the Hogwarts students, and they weren’t about to send angry letters to Dumbledore demanding his resignation over ‘celebrity drama’. Heracles had snickered over the scalding words the Prophet had to say about Lockhart in their morning issue for hours. Sprout was still on probation too, and McGonagall was still on about her not going to classes. Heracles was genuinely starting to wonder if the woman was gonna keep complaining about her lack of attendance until she found a way to make her mirrors work and ran for the hills.

Molly and Arthur still wrote to her regularly to check up on her and would send her care packages of home baked goods and knitted clothes Molly made, all of which Heracles would show off like they were the holy grail to anyone who would give her the time of day. If Malfoy got to be an insufferable little twat over the boxes of candy and other things his mother sent him every week, then by the seven Heracles was gonna do the same with Molly’s (in her opinion) much better gifts. It also pissed Ronald off because she was getting ‘the favorite child treatment’, even though he and his siblings also got sent things, but that was to be expected of him.

Heracles’s relationships with her friends were the same as they always were. The twins were mischievous little wankers, Neville was the self-appointed peacekeeper, and Luna said a bunch of cryptic sh*t Heracles was starting to think were prophecies (which would certainly explain why the girl always seemed toknoweverything), and Collin was a hyperactive little photographer in the making who talked everyone’s ears off. The only exception to this sense of normalcy was Ginny, who Heracles had noticed was retreating from social gatherings more and more and talking less, which was not at all like her. Heracles wanted to ask her friend what was wrong, but with everything that was going on, she could just never find the time to pull the younger girl aside, and eventually her plan of trying to speak with Ginny faded to the recesses of her mind.

Dumbledore had started pulling her into his office every other week for what he liked to call ‘candy and Fawkes time’, which was basically Heracles making sarcastic comments about him and anyone else she found vaguely irritating, while stroking his Phoenix and stealing his lemon drops. Dumbledore thought it was a good bonding experience for them, since he wanted to be more of a mentor to the girl he felt such a connection to, but Heracles just used it as an excuse to freely roast him and steal cool sh*t from his office when he wasn’t looking. Stealing Malfoy Sr.’s cane had given her a taste for theft and she was hungary for more. So far, she had taken three high quality sneakoscopes and five of Dumbledore’s expensive pointed hats, and the man still hadn’t noticed anything… or he just didn’t care. It was anyone’s guess.

Ortho and Norbert were back in their habitats in the Forbidden Forest, and were menaces for Heracles to take care of. Ortho’s maintenance was mostly routine at this point, but Norbert was now a fully grown Norwegian Ridgeback and was now eating three entire cows for every meal, which Hagrid generously supplied, so the scaly creature sucked up a lot of her time. Not to mention her regular visits to Rhea and the unicorn herd. It was almost a weekly tradition for Heracles to ride her and then spend some time with her and her herd, which Heracles actually found very relaxing. It was one of the best parts of her week.

Heracles’s nightmares were still very much a thing. They weren’t as bad as they had been over break, since time had managed to make the scars of her trauma fade slightly, but she would still wake up sweating and panting at least once a week, subconsciously looking at her hands to make sure Quirrell’s blood wasn’t on them. And that was when she even got sleep, between all her other activities and her work with the mirrors. It was still an improvement, though.

Honestly, between making mirrors, her friends, the creatures, the horcrux hunt she and Dumbledore were putting on hold until summer break after the desication curse incident, and her side hustle with her private greenhouse, Heracles didn’t know how she had time tobreatheanymore.

And then there were her efforts to become an Animagi, because despite the fact Heracles had taken the easy route with the mandrake leaf, she still ended up taking two months to complete the process because Montague had theaudacitypat her on the back at lunch in congratulations for acing a practical charms test that morning and earning fifty points for Slytherin, causing her to swallow the stupid leaf when she wasthree days awayfrom not needing it anymore. So after causing an incident in the great hall that ended with Heracles being torn off the poor bastard by the twins, Montague nearly getting his eyes gouged out by cursed playing cards, and Heracles only evading punishment because she threatened the f*cker with a much worse fate so he would say they were ‘just messing around’ when Snape asked what had happened, Heracles had to steal a mandrake leaf from the second year greenhouseagain,keep it under her tongue for a monthagain,and ended up reminding everyone in Slytherin why she was not to be f*cked with. Malfoy was at least slightly less annoying in the week that followed, so that was a plus.

But none of that mattered anymore, because on Halloween night, Heracles was finally,finallyready to find out her Animagi form. After sneaking away from the Halloween feast halfway through it, telling her friends that she had ‘things to do’ and to save her some treacle tart, the red haired girl made her way to her lab and got to work. She took the mandrake leaf out of her mouth, threw it away, sat on the ground, crossed her legs, closed her eyes, and started meditating, waiting for when her beastly form would appear in her mind’s eye.

‘I probably should be doing something more… memorial-like, given that this is the day my parents were murdered by a psychopathic terrorist, but I get the feeling they would be happy to see me spending their deathday learning how to turn into an animal so I can get up to some sh*t… or at least my father would. I don’t know about my mother.’, Heracles thought with a small smile on her face, doing the exact opposite of meditating by thinking and not clearing her mind. But apparently her Animagi form was stubborn and persistent, because shortly after having that thought, the outline of something appeared in her head. Heracles grinned widely.

‘Yes! Yes! Come to me, my fursona! Please let the animal be something cool, like a wolf like Jack! Or a lion, or a hyena, or a dragon- !’, Heracles rambled, listing off the animals most connected to Leona, Ruggie and Malleus. When she got a good look at what her Animagus form was, however, she cut herself off.

‘ …The heck is that?’, Heracles asked herself as she stared at the animal. It was a ginormous, cat-like thing as tall as a pine tree, with black fur covered in spikes, leopard spots, and a lion’s mane that was spiked like its fur. It’s tail was long, with a wicked barb on the end of it. It had great big green eyes like Hercules's own, only they were slitted and feline like the rest of it. The creature stared at her with intent-filled eyes.

‘I am you, and you are me.’,its gaze seemed to convey, and Heracles knew instinctively that this was her animal form. But that didn’t change the fact that she still didn’t know what it was.

‘Nundu.’,the creature whispered to her without moving its sharp, toothy maw, and Heracles remembered. She had read about this creature in Fantastic Beasts. Nundu were East African beasts that looked like a cross between a leopard, a lion, and a poisonous pufferfish. They were capable of changing their sizes so they could be as small as a normal jungle cat, or as big as the biggest breed of dragon. They could move silently and they were capable of breathing a poison so potent it could kill an entire village. They were considered by most, including Newt Scamander, to be the most dangerous creatures alive.

‘Dangerous, prickly, and filled with poison. A fitting form for me, if I do say so myself. But not very convenient for everyday use, considering the poison breath and large size. Still, it’ll be a very useful form to have if I ever find myself in a Kaiju battle, not to mention that when I find my way back to Twisted Wonderland, I could keep this skill of mine a secret from the general public and become the local Savanaclaw cryptid! Nowthatwould be fun. I think I’ll save actually turning into you for my next trip to the Forbidden Forest though, my feline friend. Don’t want to sigh and accidentally kill all of Slytherin house… even if that would be f*cking hilarious.’, Heracles thought with a snicker, before opening her eyes and standing up.

“Right, time to head back and see if Neville and the others actually saved me some tart.”, Heracles said out loud before she left her lab, in a better mood than she had been in a while. She had a cool new murder cat form, she was going to get some tart, and unlike last year, nothing had gone horribly wrong on Halloween-

“Blood… Need blood… Let me rip… Let me kill! Kill! Kill! KILL!”,a voice chanted in serpent tongue from within the walls of the castle, and Heracles felt her good mood evaporate.

“Oh motherf*cker.”, she cursed under her breath, scowling intensely as she started trying to track down the voice. She had no idea who or what was yelling about murder in Parseltongue, but she knew that if she didn’t find out, the source of the voice would probably do what it was talking about doing, andHeracleswould somehow end up getting blamed for it, because that was just how things worked at Hogwarts. So she ran after the voice, following it down corridors and through doors, until she reached a spine chilling sight.

“What the f*ck… ?”, Heracles trailed off with wide-eyes as she stared at the mess before her. There was water all over the floor of the corridor she was in. On the wall in front of her, there was Filch’s cat Mrs. Norris, hanging by her tail from an iron torch holder and as still as death. To the right of her, concerning words were written in an even more concerning red substance. They read ‘the chamber of secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir… beware’ in all caps. Heracles shook herself out of her stupor, walked up to the wall, and touched one of the letters in the so-called ‘heir’s message. She brought her now red fingers to her lips and licked them.

‘Chicken’s blood, just as I suspected. You can buy that at any potions apothecary, meaning anyone could have done this.’, Heracles thought, before moving to touch Mrs. Norris with her still slightly red fingers. She was surprised to find that the mangy cat still felt alive, but was unable to contemplate the implications behind that, because seconds after realizing this, the Gryffindor and Slytherin students leaving the Halloween feast appeared at either end of the corridor. Heracles looked at both groups with a blank expression. The Slytherins looked taken aback and frightened of her, likely thinking she had done this, and the Gryffindors all looked horrified, including her friends. Heracles gave her friends an look that said ‘this wasn't me’, and briefly noticed that Ginny wasn’t present. Then Malfoy had to open his stupid mouth and make everything worse.

“‘Enemies of the heir beware’? You’ll be next, Mudbloods!”, the blonde boy shouted, him and his lackeys Crabbe and Goyle looking directly at Collin, who withered under the boy’s gaze as the twins moved to shield him from view with glares on their faces. Heracles didn’t hesitate when she marched over to the Slytherin boy and punched him in the face, sending him flying backwards into Goyle and likely breaking his jaw in the process.

‘That’s the second time in two years I’ve punched Malfoy in the face. If it happens again next year, I’ll have to make it a yearly tradition.’, Heracles thought, before she glared at all the Slytherins.

“Any of you use that word again and you’ll be worse off than Malfoy. Got it?”, Heracles threatened, and the Slytherins all nodded furiously at her.

“What’s goin’ on here? Go on, make way, make way!”, Filch’s voice ordered as he pushed his way through the crowd of Gryffindors. Heracles turned to glare at him in annoyance. This wasnotwhat she needed right now. When Flich saw her, he stared at her in confusion.

“Potter? What are you… ?”, he started to ask, only to end up trailing off his sentence when he saw his dangling, frozen cat. The man’s eyes widened in horror.

“Mrs. Norris?”, he questioned in a grief-filled voice, and for a moment, Heracles felt bad for him. Aside from his cat, the old caretaker had no one he cared for or who cared for him in return. But that feeling of pity disappeared as soon as it arose when Filch looked at her with accusatory, angry eyes.

“You’ve murdered my cat.”, Filch stated with wild eyes. Heracles glared up at the old, balding man.

“No, I haven’t. She’s still alive, just frozen somehow.“, Heracles explained, but Filch wasn’t listening. He grabbed Heracles by her collar and held her nearly a foot off the ground.

“You’re a liar! You're asnake!I’LL KILL YA!”,the caretaker yelled furiously. Heracles sneered at him and got ready to send him flying with a wandless hex, while her friends had all already pulled out their wands and were about to beat her to the punch. Thankfully, before anyone was further assaulted, the headmaster intervened.

“ARGUS!”, Dumbledore yelled when he saw what the caretaker of his school was about to do to Heracles. Filch dropped the girl in his hold like he had been burned, and Heracles’s friends all lowered their wands. Heracles whipped her head around to stare at the old headmaster, who was taking in the scene before him with serious blue eyes that didn’t have their usual twinkle. McGonagall, Snape and the idiot Lockhart flanked him, reacting to what they were seeing with varying degrees of shock and horror. Dumbledore and Heracles locked eyes, and it seemed that was when the man made a decision about what to do, because a second later he spoke.

“Everyone, return to your dormitories immediately… everyone, except Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore ordered. Heracles’s friends looked like they wanted to protest, but the redheaded girl shot them a look that silenced them.

“Go. I’ll be fine.”, she assured them, and her friends nodded reluctantly and left, with Fred having to usher out a still reluctant Collin with soothing whispers and a hand on his shoulder. The Slytherins left as well, with Crabbe and Goyle dragging a groaning Malfoy in the direction of the hospital wing. Once they were all gone, Heracles returned her attention to the staff.

“So is this the part where you accuse me of doing something I didn’t do?”, she asked the professors dryly. Dumbledore answered her question with a small smile.

“I’m afraid that this is the part where I commend you on your knowledge, Miss Potter. You were right when you said Mrs. Norris is merely petrified.”, Dumbledore said indulgently. Lockhart gave his stupidest ‘witch weekly’ smile and snapped his fingers.

“Ah, thought so! So unfortunate I wasn’t there. I know exactly the countercurse that could have spared her.”, Lockhart claimed. Heracles glared at him.

“No you don’t, don’t to lie. And back up five yards. You’re in violation of the restraining order.”, Heracles ordered, and Lockhart’s smile fell as awkwardly backed away from the girl, not wanting to be fined hundreds of galleons because he was too close. Dumbledore shook his head at her antics.

“As for how Mrs. Norris has been petrified, I’m afraid I do not know.”, Dumbledore said sadly, and Filch glared at him.

“Ask her! It’s her that’s done it! You saw what she wrote on the wall!”, Filch demanded, and Heracles scoffed.

“Please, as if I would waste my valuable time on your flea-bitten cat. And what proof do you have that I did it?”, Heracles asked. She struggled as the caretaker grabbed her right wrist and held up her hand, her fingers still having traces of dried blood on them.

“This is all the proof I need! Look, blood from where she wrote the words! Got caught red-handed, eh Potter?!”, the old man exclaimed with a greasy, vindictive smile. Heracles ripped her arm from his grasp and snarled at him, resolving to bathe in disinfectant when she got back to her room.

“Hardly! I have blood on my fingers because I touched the letters to see what they were written in! If I had actually written this, both my hands and my clothes would be covered in blood, not just a few of my fingers! Writing something as big as that is a messy task!”, Heracles said in defense of herself, and Dumbledore nodded in agreement.

“Miss Potter is right, Argus. The blood would be all over her person if she were truly guilty.”, Dumbledore confirmed, and Snape nodded.

“Agreed, headmaster. Potter was likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”, Snape said, quick to defend one of his snakes even when it was one he didn’t particularly like. McGonagall, however, was still suspicious.

“Still, the circ*mstances are suspicious, and I for one, recall seeing Miss Potter leave the feast halfway through.”, McGonnagal said with narrowed, skeptical eyes. Heracle froze when all eyes were on her again. This was a problem. She couldn’t tell the professors that she was trying to become an illegal Animagus, that was stupid. She was going to have to lie, and she knew the exact lie to tell.

“Sorry about that, Professor. I left early so I could… Well, so I could spend some time alone. You know what happened to my parents on Halloween. I wanted to take some time to pay tribute to them and their sacrifice.”, Heracles said in her saddest, most pathetic voice, while internally smirking.

‘Hah! There’s no winning this one bitch, ‘cause I just played the dead parents card! Take that, you old bint! Trauma wins all, motherf*cker!’, Heracles cheered in her mind, and McGonagall immediately started looking like she had gotten caught kicking a puppy.

“O-oh, I see.”, was all McGonagall said in response, and Heracles knew she had successfully managed to throw suspicion off of her. Dumbledore looked to his deputy.

“All suspects in this horrible occurrence are innocent until proven guilty, Minerva. Just as they would be in America.”, Dumbledore said, and Heracles scoffed disbelievingly.

“Clearly you’ve never actually been to America- “, Heracles started to remark. Granted, she had never been to America either, but even someone who had never been could take one look at modern history and see what bullsh*t the American justice system’s ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mantra was. Dumbledore evidently didn’t want to hear her budding rant, because he sighed and raised a hand to silence Heracles.

“Thank you, Miss Potter, but that will be all. You may return to your dormitory now.”, Dumbledore said, but Heracles didn’t move. She wanted to hear what was going to be done about this new development. It was Filch that spoke next.

“My cat has been petrified! I wanna see some punishment!”, the craggy old caretaker demanded. Dumbledore immediately started trying to placate him.

“We will be able to cure her, Argus. As I understand it, Madame Sprout has a very healthy growth of mandrake. When matured, a potion will be made which will revive Mrs. Norris.”, Dumbledore assured him, and Filch looked a little less upset when he heard that. Still, he turned and sneered at Heracles.

“I still think it was ‘er that done it.”, the caretaker said, and Heracles sneered back at him.

“Keep talking like that and I’ll have you sued for slander. I would have sued you for touching me without permission earlier, but then I decided I didn’t want anything you could possibly have.”, Heracles insulted. Filch looked like he was about to lunge at her, before deciding against it, and settling on just glaring at her harder. Dumbledore gave Filch a stern look for his remark.

“Be that as it may Argus, I am confident that Miss Potter is perfectly innocent. But with her innocence, comes the implication that the perpetrator behind this act still walks free. To that end, I strongly recommend caution to all. We don’t know who did this, and for all we know, the person behind this could move to attacking people next.”, Dumbledore advised, and the staff started to look worried when they heard that. Heracles, however, did not let her distress show outwardly.

“If that’s all, then I’ll be going. I’ve got other things to do.”, Heracles said, before turning on her heel and leaving, her mind swimming with thoughts.

‘Great. Just great. There’s an evil thing that speaks snake language living in the walls, and it just petrified a cat! Who’s to say if a person is next?! And what was that drivel about the chamber of secrets? Was the person who wrote it talking about Salazar Slytherin’s secret chamber? If they were, did they mean to say that they were the heir of Slytherin? But that’s impossible!I’mthe heir of Slytherin, if only by right of conquest.’, Heracles thought, before sighing in frustration and running a hand through her hair.

‘Okay, I need to make sense of all this. Someone is claiming to have opened the chamber of secrets, and they sicked the monster that is said to be inside on Mrs. Norris for some reason. Before I can figure out who opened the chamber and, I need to figure out what was in the chamber so I can know how to deal with it. Mrs. Norris was petrified, and Slytherin was all about snakes, so his monster must be something serpent related. But things like runespoors and horned serpents can’t petrify people. So what could possibly be behind all of this? And then there’s the fact that a monster roaming the halls makes it harder to go off on my own, which means less time to work on my mirrors or do other things.’, Heracles thought, before groaning loudly.

“I just can’t catch a break, can I? Why does sh*t always go wrong on Halloween?!”, she asked, pleading with the universe for answers, and as usual, she got none.

Once Heracles got back to the Slytherin dorm, she was met with whispers and stares by her roommates, who were all speculating whether or not she really wrote that message on the wall and if she was really the heir of Slytherin. Heracles growled as she thought about all the unwanted attention she was going to get from the other Slytherins now, either because they wanted to kiss up to the newly-revealed ‘heir of Slytherin’, or because they would want to hate on her for daring to pretend to be the heir. The green eyed girl didn’t dally in the common room and quickly stomped up to her dorm room.

‘This sucks. All of this sucks. f*ck, why does life keep getting harder and harder?’, Heracles thought as she flopped face-first onto her bed. She then proceeded to scream into her pillows at the top of her lungs.

It was always f*cking Halloween, wasn’t it? First her parents got murdered on Halloween, then she had to murder a bathroom troll with a sink, and now there was af*cking monsterand the person controlling it to worry about. Heracles really could not catch a break. On her perch, Hedwig did the owl equivalent of raising an eyebrow at her master.


“Who put a bee in your bonnet?”,the white owl asked. Heracles responded by throwing a pillow at her face, causing the bird to squawk.

Notes:

And so we get to the actually interesting events of this year. Nundu's are real creatures in Harry Potter lore. For all of you who know every piece of magical creature trivia known to man kind, I made up the part about Nundu's being able to change their sizes at will and took some liberties with their description. I did that to make Heracles look cooler and so she would have an Animagus form she could actually use. Next time, talking and more plot!

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 27: Year Two: Speculation, Uncomfortable Chats and Barmy Bludgers

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Hera, I think I speak for all of us when I ask… What the hell happened last night?!Pleasetell me you didn’t actually write that message or the wall!”, Neville asked imploringly. It was the morning of November first. He and the rest of Heracles’s group were in her private greenhouse, talking where they couldn’t be overheard. They were skipping their morning classes to do it, but nobody cared about that. sh*t, like it seemed to every year, had gone down and they needed to sort out the situation. Heracles, who was tending to some green mushrooms over by the mushroom section of the greenhouse, rolled her eyes at her friend’s worried questions.

“Of course not. What do you take me for, an amateur? I wouldn’t go through all the trouble of learning a very difficult petrification spell, casting it on Filch’s cat, and acquiring chicken’s blood to write that message on the wall, just to get caught doing it by half the school. Have a little more faith in me, Nev.”, Heracles said. Neville’s cheeks turned red with embarrassment.

“Sorry.”, he said. Collin was the next one to speak.

“But if you didn’t do all those things, then who did?”, the first year asked. Ginny stiffened when she heard that, and Heracles shrugged.

“I don’t know, Collin. Nobody does. But whatever the case, it’s a dangerous time to be at school, especially for people like you.”, Heracles warned, and Collin looked confused.

“Why?”, the boy asked. Fred was the one that answered him.

“Because mate, Salazar Slytherin hated muggleborns. Thought they shouldn’t be allowed to learn magic. It’s why he built the chamber of secrets in the first place, so he could get rid of them all by making it so one of his descendents could open it and sic whatever’s in there on all the muggle borns in the school.”, the ginger explained, and Collin paled.

“Well if that’s the case, then the heir’s gotta be a Slytherin! They all hate muggleborns! Except for you of course, Hera.”, Collin exclaimed. George gained a contemplative expression.

“Yeah, but which one of those slimy snakes could it be?”, the other Weasley twin mused. Ginny was quick to speak up.

“What about Malfoy?”, Ginny suggested. Everyone turned to look at her with questioning eyes.

“Why would it be Malfoy?”, Neville asked. Ginny shrugged noncommittally.

“He’s a blood purist from an old family. Maybe he’s got some Slytherin blood in him. Also he’s mean and he’s got weird hair, so who else could it be?”, Ginny said, and Luna nodded at her words.

“His hairdoeslook pretty weird.”, the blonde girl agreed. Heracles shook her head.

“Malfoy’s mcdonalds-logo-looking hairline and all those other reasons aside, there’s no way he could be the heir of Slytherin.”, Heracles disagreed, and Neville frowned at her in confusion.

“Why do you say that?”, he asked.

“You remember when I single-handedly dunked on Malfoy’s entire bloodline all those weeks ago?”, Heracles asked. George snorted.

“How could we forget? You destroyed him so bad I’m pretty sure we can all see thestrals now.”, the red haired boy responded.

“Yeah well, in learning all that stuff about the Malfoy family, I didn’t once see that one of their members married someone from a family with a known connection to Salazar Slytherin, like the Gaunts.”, Heracles informed him. Fred raised an eyebrow.

“Meaning… ?”, he trailed off. Heracles rolled her eyes at the fourth year’s attempt to goad more information out of her.

“Meaning he can’t be the heir of Slytherin, you dolt. Not unless Lucius’s Malfoy’s great-great-times-infinity-grandfather was somehow the secret love child of Salazar Slytherin and some poor woman, but that theory is impossible because of how unlikely it is thatDraco Malfoyof all people could know that he was related to such a big name and manage to keep his mouth shut about it for five seconds.”, Heracles pointed out, and everyone thought about it before nodding in understanding.

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense. But if it’s not Malfoy, then who could it be?”, George asked. Heracles resumed tending to the mushrooms.

“I already told you, I don’t know. I didn’t just do research into Malfoy’s genealogy, you know. I looked into the family histories of the entire sacred twenty-eight and then some, and none of the families that have children attending Hogwarts have any meaningful familial connection to Salazar Slytherin. My best guess is that whoever this so-called heir is, they’re either someone who isn’t a student, or they’re not a someone at all.”, Heracles theorized. This confused her friends even more and made Ginny tenser than ever.

“Not a someone? What do you mean by that, Hera?”, Collin asked. Heracles glanced at him as she continued her work with the mushrooms.

“I mean they’re not a person. If it’s not a person that’s behind this, then it’s an object. I’ve heard of plenty of instances of magical objects gaining some form of sentience, and I’ve even seen some myself. It’s not that far-fetched to think that Slytherin or one of his uppity descendents might have decided to spell an object to possess some poor student and make them open the chamber after their deaths.”, Heracles continued, and everyone’s eyes widened. Ginny’s face drained of all color when she heard this.

“You really think that could be the case?”, Neville asked somewhat nervously. Being possessed by something and being forced to do something you didn’t want to do was a scary thing to think about. Heracles nodded.

“I do. It’s really the only viable option to explain what’s going on, since Slytherin has no living blood relatives lying around that could do this. Also because there is no actual heir of Slytherin. I haven’t designated one yet, so the position remains vacant.”, Heracles elaborated as she fiddled with the mushroom’s soil, which was filled with a compost recipe of Jade’s creation that she had learned while gardening with him. Everyone nodded along with her words, not fully processing what she was saying.

“Yeah, that checks out-wait, what do you meanyou haven’t designated one yet?”,George started to agree, only to look at Heracles like she was crazy when he realized exactly what she said. Everyone’s eyes widened even more, but Heracles remained nonchalant, an amused smirk on her face.

“You heard what I said. Most people don’t know this, but there’s this old obscure pureblood law that states that if the head or heir of a noble family tries gets into a fight with the head or heir of another noble family and dies, then their title becomes the would-be victim’s. When Voldemort tried to kill me as a baby and failed, his title as Lord Slytherin became mine. That’s what makes the rumors about me being the heir of Slytherin wrong. I’m not theheir,I’m thelady.”,Heracles elaborated, and everyone except for Ginny cackled at her words.

“Oh, that’s the most bloody ironic thing I’ve ever heard! The member of Slytherin with almost no Slytherin values, isthe lady of the Slytherin family,the pureblood family to end all pureblood families! Have you ever heard a funnier thing, Gred?”, George asked his twin as he laughed. Fred shook his head.

“Never in my life, Forge! Hey Ginny, where are you going?”, the other twin agreed, before frowning when he noticed his younger sister was rushing out of the greenhouse at top speed. Everyone else watched her go in bewilderment, and Heracles started to feel concerned.

“What’s up with her?”, she asked the twins, knowing that Ginny typically told them when something was bothering her. Fred and George shrugged in unison.

“No idea. We know something’s been up with Ginny since last night, but we haven’t had the chance to ask her about it. Maybe she’s upset that Mrs. Norris got petrified?”, George suggested, and Heracles snorted.

“Considering the fact I caught those two getting into a hissing contest last week, I doubt that’s the case. Maybe she’s on her period? That certainly causes people to act off… ”, Heracles suggested, and all the boys in the greenhouse turned bright red.

“Hera!”, Collin squeaked, embarrassed by the girl’s words. Heracles rolled her eyes at the boys’ reactions.

“Oh get over yourselves, I taught you better than this. Women bleed from their vagin*s, that’s a fact of life. Stop being a bunch of cowards and talk about this with straight faces.”, Heracles berated them all. The boys all looked at her in horror.

“Doyoubleed from your… your…you know,Hera?”, Neville stammered, morbidly curious. He knew Heracles was right and he shouldn’t be embarrassed about talking about a normal function of the human body, but he had been raised in the very conservative wizarding world, where talking about such things was taboo. Heracles sighed heavily in exasperation and nodded at him.

“Yes Neville, I have since last summer.”, Heracles said. She had gotten her first period while staying at Grimmauld Place, and all she had to say about that was thank the seven Crewel had given her ‘the talk’ a few weeks before she was forced away from Twisted Wonderland. Because of that, she had known what to buy, how to treat her symptoms, and what spells she needed to use to get blood out of her clothes… not that she didn’t already know that last spell for more illicit reasons. Everyone looked even more horrified when they heard her answer.

“How do you do anything with blood pouring out of there all the time?!”, Fred asked in bewilderment. Heracles looked at him like he was crazy.

“I don’t bleed from there all the time, you idiot! Just once every month or so! Do any of youactuallyknow how periods work?!”, Heracles demanded to know. All the boys shook their heads, but Luna nodded her head enthusiastically.

“I do!”, she said, and Heracles sighed. This wouldn’t do.

“Okay, since all of you seem to have the reproductive knowledge of kindergarteners, I am going to remedy that by giving you all ‘the period talk’. Because I find it appalling that men know so little about women’s reproductive systems and treat periods like they’re some sort of horrifying, gross disease when they are just an unavoidable part of life.”, Heracles decided, and everyone except for Luna groaned in annoyance. Heracles glared at the group.

“Don’t look at me like that, you brought this on yourselves! Now, let’s begin. It all starts with the ovaries… “

—----------------------------------------------

“And that’s how I spent my afternoon yesterday. I honestly didn’t think Fred and George could get any paler since they’re ginger, but hey, life is full of surprises.”, Heracles said as Dumbledore moved his rook to take her pawn. They were having one of their weekly meetings in his office, playing wizard chess while they chatted and Heracles stroked Fawkes’s chin. Several empty lemon drop wrappers sat on the desk they were seated at, and Heracles had already pocketed her obligatory stolen item for the week, which was a nifty red auto-answer quill that was sure to make doing assignments much easier. Dumbledore hummed in acknowledgement of her story.

“You know, I was a ginger before I went gray.”, Dumbledore revealed, and Heracles glanced at his face and squinted.

“I don’t see it.”, she remarked. She imagined Dumbledore looking exactly as he did at that moment, but with red hair, and scowled. Nope, she couldn’t see him as a ginger. Dumbledore chuckled at her response.

“Most people don’t, so you wouldn’t be alone in that regard.”, Dumbledore said, and Heracles just glanced at him as she made her next move in chess.

“So, are you going to contact anyone at the Ministry about the monster living in the school?”, Heracles asked. She needed to know if he was, so she could prepare to pack up her lab and hide Ortho and Norbert deeper in the forest. She didn’t need her more than slightly illegal activities getting discovered by the government. Dumbledore tensed and frowned at her.

“No. I don’t deem it necessary for the Ministry to get involved in this. It was just a cat that was petrified, after all. No need to kick up a fuss over that.”, Dumbledore answered as he made his next move. Heracles relaxed slightly when she realized she would avoid becoming the subject of more unwanted attention and scoffed.

“That may be the case now, but you and I both know whatever is behind these attacks won’t stick to petrifying animals. Next it’ll be students, and then you’re gonna have to leave your office and actually do something for once… unless of course, this is this year’s ‘test’.”, Heracles speculated. Dumbledore smiled sadly.

“Clever as ever, my dear girl. Yes, you are correct. This is your test for the year.”, Dumbledore said, confirming the girl’s suspicions. Heracles groaned in annoyance and buried her face in her hands.

“Great. Just great. Now, on top of dealing with constant accusations from fellow students that I’m the heir of Slytherin, I have to fight a goddamn monster to save their ungrateful asses. Fan-f*cking-tastic.”, Heracles complained, and from his place on a nearby shelf, the sorting hat called out to her.

“Perhaps if you had heeded my warning about being sorted into Slytherin, I would have put you into Gryffindor and the students’ suspicion of you wouldn’t be as intense.”, the sorting hat speculated, speaking up for what wasn’t the first time during Heracles’s meetings with Dumbledore. Heracles glared fiercely at the living accessory.

“And perhaps you should SHUT THE HELL UP! I don’t need your house-biased opinion!”, Heracles yelled, very irritated by the hat’s unwanted commentary. She threw one of her cursed cards at it, and it embedded itself around the top of the hat. The sorting hat was silent for a moment, before it spoke again.

“ …You know I’m a hat and I can’t feel pain, right?”, the hat asked. Heracles responded by flipping it up and casting a summoning charm to bring the card back to her. She then pocketed her cards and groaned again.

“This is complete bullcrap. Of all the infernal tests you could have given me, you chose to make me play pest control with a likely deadly beast that lives in the walls of the castle. ‘I value your safety’ my ass.”, Heracles said scathingly, and Dumbledore’s eyes honed in on her intently.

“The monster lives in the walls?”, he asked cautiously. Heracles remained silent, and Dumbledore sighed tiredly.

“I really wish you would tell me things, my dear. If you did, I would be able to help you much better than I can now.”, Dumbledore implored, and Heracles snorted at him incredulously.

“I think not. The day I start telling you things I don’t absolutely have to is the day you start doing the same, i.e not going to happen.”, Heracles countered, and Dumbledore sighed yet again.

“Very well, if that is how you feel, then I’ll leave it. How have your classes been going?”, Dumbledore relented, before changing the subject and moving one of his chess pieces. Heracles observed the board and got ready to do the same.

“Same as always, aka, I haven’t attended a class since Sprout’s disastrous Herbology class. She’s still on probation, right?”, Heracles asked as she moved her bishop. Dumbledore nodded.

“Indeed she is. Speaking of professors, Professor Lockhart has been constantly complaining to me about how you’re not attending his classes, and that you’ve been claiming to anyone that will listen that they’re ‘complete rubbish’.”, Dumbledore said, and Heracles rolled her eyes.

“That’s because they are. And if he wants me to attend his classes, he needs to get a classroom big enough that being in there with him won’t mean violating the restraining order, and he needs to start teachingactualcourse material. Not that narcissistic drivel he calls his novels. Something you and I both know won’t be happening anytime soon.”, Heracles stipulated.

“I see. Well, in any case, you’re doing excellent in all your classes. Being top of your year once again and breaking several records for practical exams is nothing to scoff at. But I know that classwork isn’t where your true passions lie. Tell me, how has your personal project been going?”, Dumbledore asked.

Heracles wasn’t stupid. She hadn’t told Dumbledore anything about her magic mirrors, knowing that would cause him to stick his nose where it didn’t belong and start asking uncomfortable questions. But unfortunately, Dumbledore also wasn’t stupid. He knew that Heracles had to be working onsomethingimportant. Why would she be constantly busy, lacking sleep, and almost overdose on potions if she wasn’t? Heracles tensed and thought of ways to answer the old man’s question without giving too much away.

“It’s been going the same as it always has.”, Heracles responded, and Dumbledore stared at her intensely for a moment, before nodding.

“I see. Well, in case, you should consider taking a break from it sooner rather than later. Working yourself to the point of exhaustion, as exhibited last year.”, Dumbledore recommended, but Heracles shook her head in refusal.

“No need, I’ll be fine. Besides, it’s getting harder and harder to take breaks. When I do, I feel tired, and when I feel tired, I fall asleep. And then the nightmares come.”, Heracles said, and she felt as if the very air around her froze at her admission. sh*t. She hadn’t meant to let that slip.

“Nightmares?”, Dumbledore questioned, and Heracles clenched the fabric of her pants in her hands and looked down, avoiding the old man’s gaze. She didn’t want to talk about this, but she knew that now that she had let that last tidbit slip, there was no way Dumbledore was going to let things go without a fight. So she gathered her courage and looked up at the man with dead green eyes.

“Most of the time when I sleep, I have nightmares. Usually I dream about what happened with Quirrell. I see myself standing over his body, blood on my hands and sword still in my grasp. I immediately drop the sword and try to wipe the blood off my hands, but it doesn’t come off. Then I let out a scream, either in frustration or horror, and then I wake up. It’s honestly become routine to experience that hell on the rare occasions I do sleep. Why do you think I guzzle potions like they’re pumpkin juice and throw myself into work so much?”, Heracles continued, actually talking about her nightmares for the first time ever since she had murdered Quirrell. Dumbledore remained silent for a long, long time, and Heracles was about to say ‘f*ck it’ and leave when the old man finally spoke.

“ … I had no idea you were experiencing such problems, Miss Potter.”, Dumbledore said, and all Heracles had the energy to do was narrow her eyes.

“Yeah, most people don’t.”, she said blandly, and there was a silent understanding between the pair. Heracles didn’t want to talk about her problems anymore, and Dumbledore didn’t want to continue opening the can of worms he had started to crack open when he asked about Heracles’s nightmares and risk her closing herself to him entirely. So he changed the subject.

“Perhaps a change of pace will help with that. The Gryffindor Quidditch team is playing against Slytherin soon. Attending the game might prove to be a much needed breath of fresh air.”, Dumbledore recommended, and Heracles, sensing the return to normalcy, scoffed at him.

“Please, you know I don’t do Quidditch. It’s the most pointless sport in existence, and coupled with the fact that the stands are full of screaming children, it’s an absolute disaster of an event.”, Heracles said, closely observing the state of the chess board in front of her. Dumbledore smiled and his eyes twinkled annoyingly.

“Ah yes, but you still go anyway when Gryffindor is playing to watch the Weasley twins. And I hear the first year Mr. Creevey has taken an interest in sports photography… “, Dumbledore trailed off, not at all being subtle in his insistences that Heracles attend the next interhouse Quidditch game, if not for her own sake then for the sake of her friends. Heracles knew what he was trying to do and gave him an annoyed look.

“You’re not slick, you know.”, she commented. Dumbledore chuckled.

“But it’s working, isn’t it?”, he asked. Heracles glared at him.

“ …Whatever. I was going to go anyway. Oh, and checkmate.”, Heracles admitted reluctantly. Dumbledore’s smile widened at his perceived win, but quickly dropped when he realized that while they had been talking, Heracles had backed his king into a corner and had thus won the game. The old man’s blue eyes went wide, but Heracles’s feat wasn’t all that surprising. She had done this before. He could never seem to get over his shock when she inevitably beat him, however, since no one had ever beaten him in chess before her.

Regardless of all of these facts, however, Dumbledore quickly got over his surprise and smiled softly at Heracles, a small amount of pride twinkling in his eyes.

—-----------------------------------------------

Three days after her and Dumbledore’s chat, Heracles sat in the Gryffindor Quidditch stands, with Colin on her left and Ginny on her right as they cheered on the twins. Luna and Neville were sitting beside Ginny and Colin respectively, the both of them also cheering on their pair of beater friends. Luna even wore a giant hat in the shape of a lion’s head that loudly roared every now and again. Heracles was the only one in their group not loudly cheering. She was content with simply clapping whenever Fred or George did something impressive, and giving a small but proud smile.

“OUCH, ANOTHER TEN POINTS TO SLYTHERIN! THAT PUTS GRYFFINDOR AT A DISADVANTAGEOUS THIRTY TO NINETY! IT’S GOING TO TAKE SOME EXPERT FLYING FROM GRYFFINDOR SEEKER REMY OLIVER TO CINCH A WIN AFTER THIS, FOLKS!”, Lee Jordan, one of the twins’ acquaintances narrated on the pitch’s loud speaker as Marcus Flint scored yet another goal for his team. The Slytherins roared with glee, but Heracles just rolled her eyes at the display. Remy Oliver, upon hearing that Gryffindor’s victory relied entirely on him, yelped and nearly fell off his broom. Heracles rolled her eyes yet again.

“Honestly, how did that f*ck-up manage to get the most important position on the team?”, Heracles asked. Remy Oliver was a boy from the twins’ year, with mousy brown hair and matching eyes. He was as unremarkable as they got, and he didn’t work well under pressure. If Heracles didn’t know better, she would say the boy was scared of his own shadow. Neville shook his head at the seeker’s incompetence.

“He was the only one who tried out. Wood had no choice but to put him on the team.”, the chubby boy explained. Heracles was unimpressed.

“That doesn’t change the fact he sucks at his job, but whatever. I’m hungry. I’m going to the kitchens to get some food. You guys want anything?”, Heracles asked her friends, and they all shook their heads in unison. Heracles nodded in response.

“Right. I’ll be back soon.”, Heracles said, and she stood up and started making her way through the crowd of Gryffindors and to the stands exit.

Most people got out of her way without having to be asked, what with the whole ‘heir of Slytherin’ rumor surrounding her. No one ever wanted to get on her bad side, but least of all now that she might be capable of petrifying them. Heracles left the crowd and climbed down the stairs. Once she reached the bottom, she walked along the outskirts of the pitch to get back to the castle, feeling much more relaxed now that the screams and cheers of students were more distant than before. This peace didn’t last long of course, because one of the bludgers flying through the air decided that it wanted to swing low, and it came at Heracles from behind at just the right velocity to hit her from behind, break her arm and send her flying to the ground before going up to rejoin the game. Heracles crashed to the ground, screaming in pain.

“MOTHERf*ckING co*ckSUCKER!”, she cursed loudly as she cradled her broken right arm. She had broken bones before, so she would like to think she had a higher than average pain tolerance. But no matter how many times she broke her arms and legs, nothing would completely make the searing pain of an initial break completely vanish.

‘This is the last time I go to f*ckING QUIDDITCH! Why the hell does this game even exist?! Why the hell dobludgerseven exist?! They’re just autonomous medicine balls that exist to give you a concussion! We don’t have sh*t like that in Magical Shift!’, Heracles thought, cementing her ever deepening dislike of quidditch.

When Heracles screamed, she managed to alert her friends and staff that something was wrong. Less than a minute later, two groups came sprinting down from the stands. One group was Heracles’s four friends who had been sitting in the stands, and the other was a pair made up of Hagrid, and much to Heracles’s horror, Lockhart.

“OH HELL NO! You get away from me! You are under a restraining order! YOU ARE UNDER A RESTRAINING ORDER!”, Heracles screeched at the top of her lungs, not wanting to so much as breathe the same air as the narcissist. But Lockhart did what he did best and ignored her wishes to feed his own over inflated ego. The blonde man shook his head pityingly.

“Poor girl, she’s in so much pain she doesn’t know what she’s saying. Not to worry, dear Heracles! I’ll have your arm fixed in no time!”, Lockhart said cheerfully as he kneeled beside Heracles and pulled out his wand. He was well aware that the restraining order didn’t allow him to be anywhere near this close to the girl, but he was sure that once he fixed Heracles’s arm for her, she would be sure to lift it as thanks. Heracles and her friends from the stands, as well as Hagrid and the twins, who had left the game and flown down to join everyone once they realized their friend had been injured, all screamed loud protests. They knew Lockhart ruined every spell he casted, and this was sure to be no exception.

“Brackium emendo!”, Lockhart said as he cast a healing spell that wasnot a legit healing spell.Heracles knew her languages, and the words ‘brackium emendo’ did not belong to any of the ones she knew, least of all Latin. But Heracles was in too much pain to move away from the spell before it hit her broken arm, and hissed as she felt something deep within her arm hollow out. It was an unnatural feeling. It was almost like…

‘Ohf*ck the hell no.’,Heracles thought with white-hot rage as she realized what had happened to her. In his incompetence, Lockhart had made herentire ulna and radius bones disappear.With those bones, went all restraint Heracles had left. To show everyone what had been done to her, she bended her now unnaturally flexible forearm back in a way that shouldn’t have been possible, causing everyone present to cringe. Heracles then turned to stare at Lockhart, her green eyes bulging with anger as she gazed at him.

“You, come closer.”, she ordered the man, and Lockhart gulped in fear before reluctantly doing as she said. Before, he had wanted to get as close to the girl as possible so he could ‘help’ her, but now that she was clearly angry, he wished he was halfway across the country from the girl on the ground in front of him. Heracle smiled with a deceptive sweetness when the man started doing what she said, like a spider that had just caught a fly in its web.

“That’s right, come closer… “, she coaxed as Lockhart shuffled over to her. Once she deemed him to be close enough, she gestured with her working hand for him to lean down and lend her an ear. Quickly, he did as he was told, and once he did, Heracles let her smile drop and snarled.

“YOU’LL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER! I’M SUING YOU FOR EVERY BLOODY KNUT IN YOUR VAULT!”, Heracles screamed loud enough to break the sound barrier. Lockhart immediately recoiled back in pain when her words hit his ear, and when he realized what she was saying, he looked at the second year girl in horror.

“Suing me!? For what?!”, the ‘author’ demanded to know indignantly. Heracles continued to glare at him.

“For non-consensual medical treatment, for medical malpractice, AND for violating the restraining orderfor the third time!With all those charges, I could probably have you put in Azkaban, but I’ll think I’ll just settle for taking all your stuff… or both. Both is good.”, Heracles contemplated with a smirk. Lockhart looked pale as a ghost.

“Now Miss Potter, listen here. I don’t appreciate you accusing me of such things- “, Lockhart tried to say calmly, but Heracles cut him off with a hysterical laugh.

“Accusing you?! It’s not an accusation, it’s the truth! You just vanished all the bones in my forearm from existence! I’d say that more than counts as medical malpractice, and since your closer than twenty-five feet to me, you’ve violated the restraining order! Not to mention you treated me without my permission which-well, that charge should explain itself! You have done all of these things, and that’s a fact, not a mere accusation! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the hospital wing to see anactualmedical professional, and the second I’m capable of doing so, I’m owling my lawyer! Good day to you, you worthless bastard!”, Heracles screamed, before shakily standing up and storming off towards the castle, her friends trailing behind her like the good little entourage they were. As she did this, McGonagall and Snape finally came down to address the situation.

“What is going on down here-oh my word! Miss Potter, what happened to your arm?!”, McGonagall demanded to know as she covered her gaping mouth with her hand. Snape’s eyes even widened slightly at the sight of Heracles’s boneless arm. Heracles glared at them both and pointed to Lockhart with her good arm.

“Askhim!He’s the one that’s responsible for this! And tell Dumbledore he’s gonna need a new DADA teacher, because I will be doing everything in my power to get that idiotfired,so help me Seven!”, Heracles screamed, before stomping off again without a word. Once she was a good distance away from the sh*tstorm she had just caused, Colin asked her a question.

“Hera, can I take a picture of your arm?”, the boy asked, holding up his flash camera. Heracles stopped walking and contemplated his request, before nodding slowly.

“Sure, but why?”, she asked. Colin’s grin turned devious.

“Photographic evidence. Lockhart can’t deny what he did in court if there’s visual proof that he did it.”, Colin explained, and Heracles smiled wickedly at him.

“I’ve taught you well, my friend. Take a few pictures of my arm and then take some of my entire body. I’ll try to look as in-pain as possible so we can milk Lockhart for every bit of gold he’s got.”, Heracles said as she rolled up the sleeve covering her injured arm, and Colin started prepping his camera. Luna stared at her friend with her wide, blue-grey eyes and serene smile.

“Any thoughts you would like to share on what just happened, Hera? My father says telling other people how we feel in the moment can help us bond… he also says I should check Professor Snape for Wrackspurts, but I've already done that.”, the first year girl asked. Heracles snorted bitterly.

“Yeah. I f*cking hate quidditch.”

Notes:

Remy Oliver isn't a real character, btw. I took his name off of a random page in one of the Harry Potter game wikis and gave him Neville's cannon personality as a first year from the series. He probably won't show up again, since his sole purpose in the plot is to take Heracles's would-be place as Gryffindor seeker. I hope you all enjoyed Heracles dunking on Lockhart. Next time... I don't know, but I'll try to make it interesting.

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Chapter 28: Year Two: Dueling Clubs, Badgerfluffs and Parseltongue

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Another week of schooling went by, and concerningly, not much changed. The mirrors still weren’t working, Heracles still wasn’t sleeping, and Ginny continued to act oddly and distance herself from friends and family alike, even after her ‘period’ should have been over. So needless to say, no one was really having fun at Hogwarts that week.

It was also not a fun week for one particular reason. Lockhart, much to Heracles’s outrage, was not fired after his stunt at the quidditch game. In fact, he was given the new task of starting a dueling club by Dumbledore. A club which would have been much better managed if Flitwick, the literalchampion duelistand a much more respected member of staff, was the one running it. But that wasn’t how things turned out, and when Heracles found out the news about Lockhart’s fate during breakfast after a nasty night spent in the hospital wing with a bottle of skelegrow, she bent the fork she was holding and stabbed the table threateningly with her knife, which had caused half of the great hall (including Lockhart) to flinch.

Half an hour later, a shouting match in Dumbledore’s office ensued… or rather, Heracles shouted and Dumbledore remained annoyingly calm as he tried to placate her. Heracles wanted to know why Dumbledore had kept Lockhart as a professor even after what he did. The old man said that Lockhart had to stay because there was no one willing or capable of replacing him at the moment, and firing him would cause a scandal that would cause people to pay more attention to what was happening at Hogwarts. Which in other terms, translated to ‘I don’t want to actually do my job or deal with the government finding out about our monster problem, so I’m going to leave you to suffer’.

Fan-f*cking-tastic. Crowley would have the time of his life if he ever came to earth, because Heracles had found his twin.

But none of that stopped Heracles from making her and Lockhart's up-and-coming lawsuitextremely publicso she could get back at Dumbledore for not firing the imbecile.She wasn’t talking to reporters of course, she shuddered at the thought of actually speaking to the vultures that worked for the Daily Prophet, but she was sending correspondence back and forth with Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father. They usually talked about magical creatures and various conspiracies, but now their favorite topic of discussion was Heracles’s latest lawsuit. And if quotes from those letters made their way into Quibbler articles… well, Heracles would turn a blind eye. It also helped her plan that everyone and their mum knew the only wizarding news service Heracles approved of was the Quibbler so they knew the articles were legit, and that Collin had sent in his evidence photos to the Quibbler anonymously to be published with the articles. Xenophilius was also looking into hiring Collin as a paid summer intern because he did such a good job with the photos, so that was nice.

Heracles had to force herself to remember all these wonderful things as she stood in the crowded great hall. She had been forced to attend Lockhart’s dueling club by Snape, since he was requiring that all Slytherin’s third year and below join the club for self-defense purposes (in reality, everyone knew he was only requiring it because Dumbledore was making him assist in managing the club, and the potions master was going to do everything in his power to make sure he didn’t suffer alone). McGonagall must have done the same, because every Gryffindor third year and below was there as well, including Heracles’s Gryffindor friends, and unfortunately, Ronald and Granger.

‘You’re going to make Lockhart suffer, you’re going to make Lockhart suffer… ‘, Heracles chanted over and over again internally as she watched the object of her ire walk onto the raised platform that had been erected where the Gryffindor table usually was, a wide gleaming smile on his face. Lockhart clearly thought the dueling club would be an opportunity to do damage control on his reputation. Oh how wrong he was.

Few people respected Lockhart at Hogwarts, and those that used to lost all their respect after the incident with Heracles’s arm. The only reason people showed up to the dolt’s dueling club was because they didn’t know he was running it, or they were required to. And Heracles could hear the consequences of this as people started asking each other ‘what’s he doing here?’ and other kinds of similar questions. The only people who seemed remotely glad the man was there were the girls who were in his unofficial fanclub. They all sighed dreamily and stared at him, and Heracles resisted the urge to hex them all.

“Are you alright, Hera?”, Neville asked cautiously from his place beside Heracles. The girl in question gave him a smile that looked more like a grimace than anything.

“Never better. Why do you ask?”, Heracles asked through gritted teeth. Neville winced a little and continued his very nerve-wracking line of questioning. He was definitely a Gryffindor if he was willing to talk to the scariest girl in school like this, even if shewashis best friend.

“Well, it’s just that your eyes are bulging with anger, you’re clenching your fists and you're glaring at Lockhart like it’s the Tsunade retrieval arc, he’s Itachi and you’re Sasuke.”, Neville observed. Collin, who was standing beside him, blinked at him in bewilderment.

“I didn’t know you watched Naruto, Neville.”, the first year said. Neville shrugged.

“Ever since Hera figured out how to make technology work around magic she’s been letting me use her laptop to watch muggle shows from time to time. I didn’t tell you or any of the others because I didn’t want them to hog the laptop. Also I’m only at the beginning of the Sasuke retrieval arc, so no spoilers for Shippuden if you’ve gotten that far.”, Neville responded, and Collin nodded.

“Understandable. Also, if you're worried about the rest of us hogging the laptop, why not just get your own?”, the camera-toting boy asked. Neville frowned contemplatively.

“That’s actually not a bad idea… “, he mused aloud. Heracles, thoroughly done with her friends’ current conversation, whipped her head around to glare at them.

“Would you both shut up?! I’m trying to silently plot Lockhart’s demise! If you close your mouths,I will buy you both laptops with a crunchyroll subscription.And Hulu and Netflix and Disney Plus.”, Heracles promised. Collin tilted his head innocently at her.

“What about Paramount Plus?”, he asked. Heracles gave him a disgusted look.

“You’re dead to me, Collin.”, Heracles told him bluntly, and Collin looked like he had been shot in the chest. Lockhart then decided that it was a perfect time to begin his trainwreck of a club meeting properly and clapped his hands to get everybody’s attention.

“Gather ‘round, gather ‘round! Can everybody see me? Can you all hear me? Excellent!”, the blonde man yelled above the murmurs of the crowd. Most people were at least giving him some of their attention. Heracles and her friends did not belong to this demographic.

“How much you wanna bet he ends up getting thrown into a wall before the end of the meeting?”, George whispered to his brother. Fred responded without even looking at him.

“Five galleons and the rest of my candy from mum’s last care package. Hera, you want in on this?”, Fred answered, before turning to Heracles and asking his question. Heracles gave him the side eye.

“Betting is a fool’s passtime… unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll win. Which in this case, I’m not, so I’ll have to pass.”, she said cooly, quoting Azul word for word as she did so, and Fred shrugged in response. He hadn’t expected her to get involved anyways.

While the pair had that interaction, Lockhart started rambling about why he had started the dueling club and why he was in charge, before shamelessly plugging his books, the sales of which were not doing so hot since Heracles had decided to drag his ass into wizarding civil court. The blonde then took off his cloak and blindly threw it into the audience, likely to try and look cool as well as entertain the few fans he had left. Said fans gasped and reached out for the cloak when it was thrown, only for Heracles to reach out and grab it before they did, smirking all the while. The fans glared at the girl, and Heracles’s friends gave her odd looks. When Heracles noticed those looks, she raised her eyebrows at her friends.

“What? It’s a nice cloak, independent of who owns it. And besides, it’ll be mine one way or another once this lawsuit is settled.”, Heracles said in defense of herself, a devious smile appearing on her face at the thought of ripping all of Lockharts assets away from him.

After that, Lockhart all but dragged an even broodier than normal Snape onto the platform and introduced him, rather patronizingly, as his assistant in the dueling club, a sight which was slightly amusing to Heracles. Then the pair of ill matched professors proceeded to do a demonstration duel, during which Lockhart was thoroughly trounced and, as George had so expertly predicted, thrown against the wall by the blast of Snape’sExpelliarmus.Everyone laughed when they saw that, including Heracles, and money subtly exchanged hands between the twins as they cackled.

Lockhart soon managed to pick himself up and attempted to make his defeat look less embarrassing by saying he was going easy on Snape, but precisely no one believed him. The fool then declared to the unfortunate club members that the lesson that no one learned anything from was over, and that they were all going to be paired up to start practicing spells on one another, despite the fact most of them had no idea what spells were okay for dueling or not. Heracles sighed. She knew a disaster in the making when she saw one.

Lockhart and Snape picked who practiced with who. The students didn’t get to pick because they might use the club as an opportunity to start fights with members of rival houses (again, not a problem Heracles had to deal with in Night Raven College. EvenSavanaclaw and Diasominaknew to set aside their Magical Shift rivalry when off the field after Leona’s Overblot. Similar things could not be said about Slytherine and Gryffindor, unfortunately). Heracles ended up being paired with some random Hufflepuff from her year she had never met before named Justin Finch-Fletchley, who was what Heracles could only describe as a trust-fund nepo baby who liked to hear the sound of his own voice. If he wasn’t a muggleborn, Heracles knew he and Malfoy would get alongspectacularly.

Currently, Heracles was less focused on dueling her partner (that would be a painfully easy match, and not for Finch-Fletchley), and was more focused on doing whatever she could to piss him off for her own entertainment. Her latest method of doing was pretending she had no idea what the hell a Hufflepuff was.

“Okay, this has gone far enough! Stop spewing rubbish! You know damn well what a Hufflepuff is!”, Justin yelled in frustration. Heracles grinned at him maliciously and tilted her head.

“You mean a Badgerfluff?”, Heracles asked, and Justin let loose an unholy screech.

“WHERE DID YOU EVEN GET BADGERFLUFF FROM?!”, he yelled in a high-pitched voice, and Heracles shrugged.

“f*ck if I know. I can remember the name Gryffindor because most of my friends are in that house, not to mention the door to Dumbledore’s office is a griffin and I’m in there at least once a week, so that helps me remember. I remember Slytherin because that’s the house I’m in, and I remember Ravenclaw because that’s the house Luna’s in. Plus I like snakes and eagles, so that helps. I don’t have any friends in your house because I don’t associate with people who have the same color scheme as bees. Also, when was the last time you saw a freaking badger?”, Heracles asked in annoyance, and Justin screamed again before throwing his wand on the ground and storming off.

“I GIVE UP! You’re insufferable! No wonder everyone in this school hates you!”, the muggleborn exclaimed as he promptly left to go hang out with annoying Hufflepuff friends. Heracles watched him go with a satisfied smile.

‘The feeling’s mutual, kid.’

After a few more spells were thrown by the kids who wereactuallydoing what Lockhart said (a horrible decision, really), several students were left injured, Ronald was bleeding profusely and had to go to the hospital wing, Granger was crying on the floor, Ginny had Millicent Bulestrode in a headlock after the girl gave up trying to hex her and just tackled her instead, Luna was using a spell to idly change the color of her tie and not giving her partner the time of day, and Collin was gleefully taking pictures of the carnage. Overall, it was the disaster Heracles had predicted. Lockhart took one look at the mess and decided there needed to be a change in his teaching methods. Snape then quietly recommended teaching the students how to block unfriendly spells, and Lockhart was back on the platform ordering them all about.

“Alright everyone! At the behest of Professor Snape and his excellent suggestion, we will now be learning how toblockspells! Now, since our earlier method of partnering up all at once didn’t… go so well, we’ll be having you come up here two at a time to hone your skills! Who would like to go first?”, Lockhart announced, and unsurprisingly, no one volunteered. After ten seconds of awkward silence, Lockhart set his blue eyes on a very unamused Heracles.

“Miss Potter! Why don’t you and Mr. Longbottom come up here and- ?”, Lockhart started to propose, but before Heracles could tell him to go f*ck himself, Snape interrupted him.

“Miss Potter, for all her prickly qualities, is infallibly loyal to the few she considers friends, which unfortunately in this case, includes Mr. Longbottom. If she were to duel him, she would either go easy on him or throw the match entirely. Might I suggest someone from her own house who she has minimal ties to? Malfoy, perhaps?”, Snape counter-offered with an arched eyebrow, and Heracles didn’t know if she was being complimented or insulted. Nevertheless, Lockhart blinked stupidly at him before readily agreeing.

“A wonderful idea, Professor Snape! Mr. Malfoy, Miss Potter, please come up here!”, Lockhart said, waving the two students over. Heracles smirked. Originally, she was just going to say she wasn’t dueling anyone and leave, but now that Malfoy was involved, she had an excuse to throw him around like a ragdoll in front of more than half the school.

‘Finally, a good way to spend my time in this club!’

Heracles climbed up onto the platform, as did Malfoy. The two of them stood in front of each other. Grey met green, and as Lockhart told them to hold their wands in front of them as was custom for a duel, Malfoy sneered at her.

“Scared, Potter?”, he asked mockingly. Heracles smirked at him.

“Considering my history of being superior to you in every possible way, I can’t really say I am.”, she responded, and Malfoy’s cheeks turned red from anger and embarrassment. They both put their wands at their sides with a loud ‘swoosh’ and turned around, taking ten paces away from one another. Once they had taken their ten steps, they turned back around and pointed their wands at each other. Heracles snorted at the utterly ridiculous way Malfoy was holding his wand. His arm was up in the most unnecessary arch she had ever seen, and she could hear the twins making fun of him for it behind her.

“On the count of three, cast your charms to disarm your opponent.Only to disarm.We don’t want any accidents here. One… two- “, Lockhart said, starting the countdown to three. Malfoy however, decided countdowns were for puss*es and cast the first spell just as Lockhart finished saying ‘two’.

“Everte Statum!”,Malfoy said, slinging a bright spell in Heracles’s direction in an attempt to take her off guard. Heracles didn’t even blink as she silently cast the counter spell for the assault. All that dueling training over the summer had really paid off. Malfoy glared fiercely at her and began firing a deluge of mediocre charms and hexes, all of which Heracles blocked efficiently and wordlessly. The surrounding students all watched in awe casted infamously difficult wordless spells with an ease only very powerful witches and wizards were supposed to be capable of.

“Mr. Malfoy!Mr. Malfoy!I said disarm only! Those hexes are unacceptable!”, Lockhart yelled indignantly as Malfoy rapid-fired his spells, but he was ignored. Eventually, Heracles got tired of being on the defense and decided to do what she had gotten on that platform to do; beat the ever-loving snot out of Malfoy.

“Rictusempra.”,Heracles said calmly, and a blast of yellow light went flying at Malfoy. Severely lacking in his knowledge of defensive spells, the ferrety boy was unable to block the spell, and was promptly sent flying to the edge of the platform. Heracles smiled darkly as Malfoy spun like a top through the air, before landing unceremoniously on his face. The entire room laughed, and Snape shook his head at Malfoy’s embarrassing situation. Less than fifteen seconds later, however, Malfoy was back on his feet and looking angrier than ever. He pointed his wand at Heracles.

“Serpensortia!”,he yelled, and his wand produced a large brown cobra that landed on the platform and looked rather agitated. It hissed as it crept towards Heracles, but she remained calm and perfectly still. She didn’t want to kill the poor thing and was waiting for it to come to her so she could talk to it and calm it down (Jamil had grown up in a place where cobra’s were a common animal, and the one thing he always said about them was ‘don’t provoke them’. EvenKalimsaid that), but Snape interpreted Heracles’s stillness as fear. He got back onto the platform with an annoyed look on his face and walked towards the cobra with his wand drawn.

“Don’t worry Potter, I’ll get rid of it for you.”, Snape said in his usual unnecessarily long drawl. Heracles was about to tell him that wouldn’t be necessary and toget the hell off the platform before he spooked the damn snake and made it attack someone,but Lockhart, like he always seemed to do, decided it was a perfect time for him to interrupt. He hoisted himself back onto the platform, an award-winning smile on his face.

“Allow me, Professor.Alarte Ascendare!”,Lockhart said, casting a f*ckinglevitation spellonto the already agitated cobra. Heracles cursed at the man’s idiotic action.

“No, you fool!”, she yelled, but no one seemed to be listening to her. The snake flew into the air, before gravity did its thing and brought it back down onto the platform, hissing loudly and ready to bite. The cobra looked around, tongue flicking about and his hood flared, until he set his sights on Justin Finch-Fletchley. The boy froze in terror as he made eye contact with the snake, and so did those nearby him. The snake started hissing louder, and Heracles knew it was time for her to fix this. She narrowed her eyes at the scaly creature.

“Leave him alone.”,she hissed in the language of snakes. Snake language had always come uncommonly natural to her, as did a lot of other reptile languages. She barely needed to study to learn the language in her animal languages class back in Twisted Wonderland, impressing both Professor Trein and her friends, though for the life of her she didn’t know why that was. Everyone’s eyes were now on Heracles as she spoke in strange hisses. The cobra looked at Heracles defiantly.

“And why should I do that, human?”,the snake asked in that oily voice all snakes seemed to have. Heracles gave him a stern look.

“Because if you don’t, you’ll probably be killed by one of the many other humans in this room. Except for me, because I’m rather fond of snakes. You can either leave the boy alone and come with me so I can find you a home in the wilderness, or you can die here minutes after you were summoned because you attacked the boy. Your choice.”,Heracles explained to the animal, and the animal seemed to think about her offer, before returning his attention to Justin.

“I think I’ll take my chances.”,the snake said sinisterly, causing Justin to look even more horrified, and Heracles scowled at the creature before marching over to it, and bending down so she was at eye-level with it.

“Youwillleave him alone, or I will kill you myself. I’m not in the mood to deal with pissy Badgerfluffs today, mad because the collateral damage from my duel hurt one of their own. Leave with me or your life is forfeit.”,Heracles demanded angrily, looking very intimidating to all those around her. Once more, the snake considered her offer, before slithering to face her and nodding in acquiesce.

“Very well. I will let you return me to the wild. I rather like living. Badger doesn’t taste all that good anyways.”,the cobra agreed, and Heracles held out her hand to it. People gasped as the snake wrapped itself around her arm with no sign of attacking her. Heracles stood back up and looked at the crowd, her expression kept carefully blank. Everyone, including a very apprehensive Professor Snape, was pale-faced and shocked. Even Heracles' friends looked that way, though they weren’t aghast or horrified like everyone else was. Heracles turned her head towards Snape.

“I believe the duel is over now, Professor. I’ll make sure the snake is dealt with.”, Heracles declared. With the duel won and her work there done, she was about to get off the platform and leave, when Justin Finch-Fletchley looked at her with deep offense in his eyes.

“What on earth are you playing at?”, the boy asked in a shaky voice. Heracles didn’t respond. All she did was give him a steely stare, before doing as she was about to do earlier, getting off the platform and walking towards the exit.

She left without a word, her friends quickly following after her.

—-----------------------------------------------------

“You’re a Parselmouth?! Why didn’t you tell us?!”, Neville asked, deep shock apparent on his and the rest of Heracles’s friends’ faces. Heracles glanced back at him and the others as she walked towards the nearest exit to Hagrid’s area of the grounds.

“A what?”, she asked. She had heard that word before, but she couldn't remember from where. Ginny was the one who answered her question.

“It means you can talk to snakes.”, she replied, and Heracles furrowed her brow in confusion.

“Of course I can talk to snakes. You just saw me do it.”, the green eyed girl reminded the group, not seeing what the big deal was. She could talk to all sorts of animals, and snakes just so happened to be among them. It wasn’t that odd, at least to her and the people in Twisted Wonderland. Fred frowned at her.

“You seem awfully casual about this, mate. It’s kinda weird.”, he remarked, and Heracles shot him a bewildered look.

“Of course I’m casual about this. Why wouldn’t I be?You guysare the ones being weird here. You’re acting like I told the snake to go berserk, but what I did was talk him out of attacking the trust-fund kid. There’s no reason to be so apprehensive.”, Heracles said, and looks of realization appeared on all her friends' faces.

“Ohthat’swhat you said!”, George said in understanding, and Collin winced. Heracles nodded.

“Sorry if we acted mean Hera. It just sounded like you were egging the snake on or something.”, the boy apologized, and Heracles ruffled his hair to let him know she forgave him.

“That’s understandable. Snake language can sound rather unfriendly to those who aren’t fluent in it.”, Heracles explained, and Luna tilted her head curiously.

“Hera, do you know what a Parselmouth is?”, the blonde girl asked, and Heracles shook her head.

“No, but the term does sound familiar.”, the redheaded girl said, and Fred sighed.

“Well that would explain your reaction. Hera, a Parselmouth is a person who can speak to snakes. It’s a hereditary magical ability that runs through the Slytherin bloodline, and it’s considered the mark of a dark wizard.”, Fred elaborated. Heracles rolled her eyes at the ‘dark wizard’ part.

“What is it with English wizarding society and it’s ‘dark and light magic’ thing. For f*cks sake,There is no such thing.Magic is magic, end of discussion. Being able to talk to danger noodles doesn’t make someone a bad person. But back to the topic at hand. I’m not a Parselmouth. Ilearnedto speak to snakes. It’s always come easy to me, sure, but I’m not a Parselmouth. I can’t be, I have no Slytherin blood.”, Heracles insisted, and Neville shot her a sympathetic look.

“That may be true Hera, but the school doesn’t know that. You’re already suspected to be the heir of Slytherin. Now that everyone knows you can speak to snakes, they’ll think you’re the heir for sure.”, Neville explained, and Heracles groaned in frustration.

“Well that’s just great.”, Heracles complained, before kneeling down on the ground as she reached the edge of the forest near Hagrid’s hut. She held her arm out and let the cobra slither off her arm and onto the forest floor.

“I hope you can get used to the climate out here. There should be plenty of mice in the forest for you to eat. If you need help finding the best hunting spots, find a snowy owl named Hedwig and she’ll show you where they are. You can speak owl, right?”,Heracles said in snake-speak, or rather Parseltongue as the English apparently called it. The cobra nodded.

“I can speak enough. Thanks for everything, human.”,the brown snake said, and with that he slithered off into the foliage. Heracles stood back up and started walking towards the castle again.

“I’m going back to my lab. I’ll see you guys at dinner.”, she said, and with that she was gone. Collin watched her leave curiously.

“She’s always in her lab. What does she evendoup there all day?”, Collin asked. In the weeks since he had become Heracles’s friend, he hadn’t gotten the chance to visit her lab in the third floor corridor or ask about what she was constantly working on. All that he knew was that it was important to her… and it would seem that was all the others knew as well.

“No idea, Collin. But it drives her mad.”, Neville responded with a shake of his head. He had been in Heracles’s lab once when he was hiding out there during the troll attack last year, but it was so dark he couldn’t see anything. All he could make out was glass and metal. Beyond that, he had no idea what it was his friend worked on all day.

‘This situation doesn’t bode well for Hera. I hope for her sake this whole heir of Slytherin thing blows over.’

Notes:

Surprise, I made another chapter! Sorry it took a while, the muses were being fickle. Hopefully you all found this entertaining. I'm hoping to wrap up this year's arc in around seven or eight more chapters. Next time, petrification, the giant squid and kidnapping via unicorns.

So long and Goodnight, Thackery Binx.

Ripped Away - BitchIEatPeople - Twisted-Wonderland (Video Game) [Archive of Our Own] (2024)

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