Harry Potter and the Problem with Life Debts @proton104
Characters and Pensieves, Part 1

A/N 9/16/2020: So, here we go with the rewrite of the third actual chapter. I fixed several things that I had noticed upon rereading the chapter.

Nope, still not lucky enough to own the rights to anything Harry Potter save what is written in this story.

As always, read and enjoy. And if you don't like it, go read someone else's.

The Question of Character and Pensieve Memories, Part I

Bella stared unseeing into the flames dancing in the fireplace as she debated how best to answer Dastan's question as to what kind of man her son was. She knew why he was asking the question, he and Apolline wanted to make sure that Harry wouldn't take advantage of their daughter, nor did they want their daughter to be saved by someone who was uncaring enough to let her die needlessly. As she went back and forth in her own mind on how best to describe the kind of man her son was, her mind flitting through all of the times that he had shown his charac- wait a tic, memories.

Bella smiled unconsciously as she came to the decision on how best to demonstrate her son's character: She would use the pensieve and some memories from Harry to show them the kind of person he was. In fact, they already had some of Harry's memories in a pensieve already, she would only need it brought to her. She had had Harry start putting his memories of certain events throughout the school year in a pensieve so that the two of them after he returned home for the summer. They had started that after the incident with Professor Quirrell and the Philosopher's Stone in his first year. Since then, Bella had started to use Harry's own memories as training tools to teach Harry about his past mistakes so that he wouldn't repeat them, and it had worked wonders. She spoke, "Misty."

The motherly house-elf appeared before her mistress with a crack, "Missus Bella called for me."

Bella nodded to the house-elf, "Misty, can you bring me Harry's pensieve out of the Heir's Study?"

Misty nodded and disappeared with an audible crack. Dastan and Apolline shared a confused look, clearly not understanding the reason for the request. Dastan inquired after a moment's pause, "How will a pensieve show us what kind of man your son is?"

Bella smiled at him but it was Sirius who answered, "She has been having him place his memories from the entire school year in his pensieve on his first day home starting all the way back from his first year at Hogwarts. We have been using the memories in the pensieve to show him where he had made mistakes in his interactions with others and how to improve himself by not repeating his mistakes. The memories in the pensieve are Harry's, so what better way to get to know Harry than to live through his own memories?"

Dastan and Apolline shared a look, both suddenly understanding the reason for the pensieve just as the door opened to admit Misty who had a levitating stone bowl with runes engraved around the outer lip and a wispy silver liquid inside the bowl in front of her. The house-elf guided the bowl over to the side table between her mistress and Mister Delacour and let it come to rest gently, all without disturbing the liquid within the bowl. Misty then looked at her mistress, "Will Missus be needing me anymore tonight?"

Bella shook her head, "No, I don't think so Misty, have a good night."

Misty bowed and disappeared with a crack. Bella pulled out her wand and started stirring the contents of the bowl, focusing on key memories from Harry's first year, starting with the train ride to Hogwarts, and said after a few moments of stirring, "We will be starting with memories from Harry's first year at Hogwarts beginning with the train ride from London to Hogsmeade. Obviously we won't be going through every waking moment of his first year, just some key events."

She paused for a moment, "Before we begin, I need you to realize that normally I would never share these memories with anyone because both my son and myself are very private people, but I feel it is necessary for you to understand who my son is. That being said, I need a magical oath from both of you that you will not reveal what you see to anyone."

Dastan frowned at that, but it was Apolline who asked the question they were both thinking, "What about our daughter, Fleur?"

Bella pursed her lips and shook her head, "No. She has to discover who Harry is on her own. Maybe Harry will show her using the pensieve, maybe not, but they should be allowed to grow together and develop on their own."

Dastan and Apolline glanced at each other, both concerned as Dastan asked the question, "Do you really want to leave it to chance that they will get along?"

Bella gave them a hard look, one that had cowed many a Death Eater into confessing, while still idly stirring the pensieve, "Do I have your oath or not?"

Both Dastan and Apolline drew their wands and swore a magical oath, swearing that they would not reveal what they would see in the pensieve to anyone, not even Fleur.

With that, Bella withdrew her wand from the bowl and invited Apolline over. When she had joined Dastan and herself, Bella said, "Ready?"

Both nodded to her and all three leaned forward and were pulled into the pensieve…

Pensieve Memory: First Year

Hogwarts Express

The three visitors watched as four kids climbed on board the train, waiving good bye to their very large family, and made their way to an empty compartment. Once they had found a compartment, the two boys helped the older girl get everyone's school trunk up into the overhead racks before they all settled in for the ride. Bella spoke, "The older girl is my niece, Nymphodora Tonks, she was a seventh year Hufflepuff at the time. The blonde is my nephew Draco Malfoy."

Dastan growled, "Malfoy, as in the son of Lucius Malfoy?"

Bella nodded, "Yes, but since the failed attack on the Longbottoms, at whose home he was captured a month after Voldermort was defeated, tried and executed via a one way trip through the veil, he hasn't had a hand in the raising of his son and Draco has turned out to be an excellent young wizard, hence his closeness with Harry."

Dastan nodded, as if the answer satisfied his possible misgivings about Harry's cousin and apparently closest friend. Bella continued with her introduction of the original foursome, "The redhead is Susan Bones, daughter of Amelia Bones-Black and her husband Sirius, my cousin."

As they continued to watch the four children sit and talk animatedly about the upcoming sorting and the school year as the train left out of King's Cross Station until at one point the door to their compartment slid open to admit a bushy haired brunette witch who looked to be around the same age as Harry, Susan, and Draco and was dragging her trunk behind her. She looked at the four occupents of the compartment and asked in a weak voice, "Do you have any room? These mean boys have chased me out of every compartment saying that a mudblood shouldn't be allowed to sully the halls of Hogwarts."

Dastan watched as Harry's fist clenched hard enough for his arm to start trembling when he heard what someone had done to the girl and they weren't even an hour into the train ride to Hogwarts. He looked at the girl, whose brown eyes were on the verge of tears, "You can stay with us. My name's Harry Potter," then gestured to the others in the compartment while continuing the introductions, "The blonde git is Draco Malfoy, the redhead is Susan Bones, and old pinky over there is Nymphodora Tonks. They're my cousins so you'll be safe with us."

The introductions of his cousins had been a bit playful, the git comment earning a slug on the arm from Draco and a huffed "Oi" from the oldest person in the compartment, but everyone had a smile on their face as they brought the bushy haired girl into the compartment with Harry and Draco putting her trunk up on the cargo rack over their heads and the girl sitting down next to Draco. She was quiet for a moment before she spoke, "My name is Hermione Granger," she paused as if waiting for a comment before continuing, "and I'm a mud-"

Harry cut her off with steel in his voice, "Don't say that word. You are a muggle-born witch with just as much right as any of us to a magical education at Hogwarts. That other word is used by stupid blood purists who think that purity of blood is the measure of a person's worth in our society. No one in this compartment believes that. All of us were raised to believe that the worth of a person is determined by their contributions to society, not the purity of their blood. If anyone says that to you, come find one of us and we will help you."

They watched as Hermione looked around in wonder at three nodding heads, showing that the rest agreed with what Harry said. The observers could see the unshed tears threatening to spill as she launched herself at Harry and wrapped her arms around him in a bone-crushing hug, the tears finally spilling over as relief flooded through the little bushy haired girl at finally finding people who treated her as a person instead of as some awful curse word.

They watched as Harry awkwardly patted her on the back, telling her that it was okay. The hug lasted until the door to the compartment slid open with a loud crack followed by a voice full of disdain, "So this is where the mudblood bookworm ended up. Potter, you shouldn't soil your family by associating with some filthy mudblood. Didn't your mommy's death teach you that mudbloods belong in the grave or at worst, under our boot heel, since they obviously stole their magic from purebloods?"

Harry disentangled himself from Hermione, stood, and moved between the new arrival and where Hermione sat next to Nym, his voice ice as he barely restrained his anger, "Sod off Nott. You are not welcome here and take your goons with you."

Nott, a tall boy for his age had a slim build that looked as if he didn't care for physical exertion, watery brown eyes, black hair that looked intentionally wild, and features that while neither remarkable nor disgusting, clearly showed his pride of his pureblood status and his arrogance as he sneered at Harry, "I don't think you have that correct, Potter. It's the mudblood who isn't welcome. We should just toss her and all her kind off of the train right now."

His "goons" were easily recognizable to Dastan as the sons of Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, two known Death Eaters who had claimed to be under the Imperious Curse and forced to perform the foul deeds that they had done as well as been forced to take the dark mark. The apple didn't fall far from the tree as both children looked exactly like their respective fathers: of medium height, broad frames thick with muscle that more belonged to a professional bouncer, dark hair cut short, beady eyes that were void of a spark of intelligence, and fists as large as ham hocks.

Dastan was only able to notice the subtle flick of Harry's right wrist and the slow curling of his fingers around his wand because of his years of training and experience as an auror. He watched in wonder as Harry spoke again, "Try it and there will be hell to pay. Remember, Nott, what my mum did to your dad and why you have to beg for table scraps from the Parkinsons, who from what I heard almost turned down the marriage contract proposal that your precious Death Eater offered."

Then Harry turned his head slightly to his left where his cousin was standing behind him, his own wand drawn and ready in a similar manner while never taking his eyes off of Nott, and spoke to his cousin, "Draco, what was it that Pansy said to your betrothed about the contract with the Nott family? Something along the lines that her daddy did a great job of practically indenturing the Nott family for the next several generations, wasn't it?"

Draco gave his cousin the Marauder's grin while similarly having his eyes focused on Nott and nodded, "Something along those lines. Though, now that I think about it, Daphne did mention that Pansy told her, very happily I might add, that in order to pay the bride price for their only daughter, Nott Senior had to give up almost all of his shares in the companies that they had invested in as well as outright selling a couple of the ones they owned, both wizarding and muggle, in lieu of the gold that he didn't have, thanks to having to continuously buying his way out of Azkaban."

Dastan and the others watched as Nott's face went from pale white to a tomato red with fury at what supposedly was a secret was revealed and before the audience that seemed to be growing in the corridor of the train. They watched as Harry gave Nott one more apprising look before turning away from his enemy, "Come Draco, the Scion of the Noble House of Nott is not worth our time or consideration."

Nott seemed like he couldn't take it anymore as he went for his wand only to have a drawling voice stop him cold, "Mister Nott, what is the meaning of this?"

Even the observers jumped as they hadn't noticed the approach of the man who wore a black traveling cloak over a steel gray shirt, black slacks, and matching boots. The man stood a little over six feet tall with a slender frame that was taut with the lean muscle of a fighter, chin length black hair parted down the middle and combed to be out of the man's face that had stern features with a hooked nose and thin lips, but the most disturbing of all was the beetle-black eyes that held a glimmer of cunning intelligence and seemed to be able to see right through a person. Right now, those features were fixed in a sneer that intimidated even the most stout of heart as he spoke again, his voice low and dangerous, "I ask again: Mister Nott, what is the meaning of you terrorizing a fellow first year and causing a scene that is unbecoming of a student that hasn't even set foot within the school yet?"

Nott looked at the professor and let his anger go as a flicker of recognition crossed through the brown eyes, "Professor, they started it. I was coming to talk to the muggle-born witch to welcome her to our world and they wouldn't let me speak to her, saying all kinds of nasty things about my father. My family honor was at stake."

They watched as the professor's eyes flickered over to the students in the compartment, instantly taking in the fact that four of the five students had their wands drawn already. Dastan couldn't be sure, but he thought he saw a minute smile flicker across the professor's features for a moment before he schooled them and asked in an almost bored tone, "Mister Potter, is this true that young Mister Nott was coming to only talk to the young witch who you seem to be defending and you were keeping him from talking to her?"

Harry shook his head, "Yes, Professor Snape, it is true that we prevented Mister Nott from speaking with Miss Granger, but only after she had shown up at our compartment on the verge of tears after having been terrorized by Mister Nott for the first hour of the train ride. He also called her that foul name for muggle-born and said that we would be better off if we, how did he phrase it, 'We should just toss her and all her kind off of the train right now.'"

The observers watched as anger flashed across Snape's features, turning his sneer almost violent as rage burned in the man's eyes, his voice was a low, dangerous growl as he spoke, "Is that so, Mister Nott? I warn you now, do not lie to me."

They watched as all of the color drained from Nott's face as he began trembling like a leaf on a tree in a strong North wind. The silence was allowed to drag on for a few more seconds as Snape kept his piercing gaze firmly on the young Mister Nott. Snape finally spoke, "Very well, I will take your silence as confirmation that you indeed were performing as young Mister Potter described. When we reach the castle, your behavior will be brought up to the headmaster and he and whoever your head of house ends up being will decide your fate. Pray that you are not in my house. Now leave and don't let me hear of you bothering any other student for the rest of the train ride."

Nott and his goon squad could not leave fast enough to get away from the enraged professor and the embarrassing debacle. Snape turned his attention to Harry and the rest of the Potter/Black children, a rare and small smile lighting up his features, "Well done Harry, using your mind and not your fists to turn the tables on that prat of a Death Eater's spawn. Watch your back, though. He will not rest until he has his revenge on all of you."

Harry nodded, "We will, Forktounge."

The memory swirled and changed as time passed swiftly in the pensieve...

The Sorting

The observers were now standing in the entrance hall of Hogwarts with a stern-looking, middle-aged Scottish witch whose auburn hair was pulled up into a tight bun at the back of her head, her hazel eyes critical of the group of first year children in front of her. They watched as her eyes swept the crowd of anxious and eager faces in silence for a moment before she spoke, her Scottish brogue giving her speech an almost sing-song quality, "I am Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistriss of Hogwarts and the Head of House for House Gryffindor. All of you first years are about to be sorted into one of the four houses tha exist here at Hogwarts, eached named after one of the four founders: Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin. While you are here, your house will be your family. Everything that you do well will earn your house points in competition for the annual House Cup, every bad thing you say or do will lose points for your house. Each house prizes different things in its students and the sorting hat will tell you where you will fit in and do well."

With that, the memory fast forwarded to now the first year students were standing in the center of the great hall, the enchanted ceiling overhead showing it to be a clear night with thousands of stars shining bright and a crescent moon rising. About half of the first years had been sorted and had joined the rest of the students from their respective houses at their tables. Harry was standing between his cousin Draco, his friend Hermione, and another pair of boys, one of whom Harry knew to be Neville Longbottom, a childhood friend of the group of cousins, the other had the flaming red hair and freckles along with the blue eyes that pronounced him to be from the Weasley family even without the boy's short introduction of "Ron Weasley".

Harry would have responded to that greeting, but his attention was grabbed as Professor McGonagall called out in a clear voice, "Hermione Granger."

Harry whispered good luck to Hermione as she slowly made her way forward to where the professor was standing with the Sorting Hat in her hand, turned around, and sat down on the stool. Professor McGonagall then placed the Sorting Hat on her head, where it sat for a few moments before shouting out, "Ravenclaw!"

Harry noticed that Hermione looked rather pleased with the result as she almost rushed to her table with the Sorting Hat still on her head, but fortunately for her, Professor McGonagall deftly plucked the old hat off of her head before she got more than two steps away from the stool. The observers then watched as a few more of the first year students were sorted in their respective houses including Neville being sorted into Hufflepuff before Professor McGonagall announced, "Draco Malfoy."

Harry exchanged a quick Marauder's grin with his cousin as the blonde boy walked up to the stool and sat down. Professor McGonagall lowered the hat onto the boy's head, where it sat for a few moments before calling out, "Slytherin!"

Draco grinned as he removed the hat from his head, handed it back to Professor McGonagall, and made his way to the Slytherin table, which sat as the far right table in the hall to scattered applause. The next first year was called in short order, "Theodore Nott."

Nott shoved his way forward and strode towards the stool with a pompous air about him, as if he already knew what the result of the sorting would be. He sat down on the stool with a bored expression as Professor McGonagall lowered the hat towards his head, but before the hat even touched his head, it called out, "Slytherin!"

Dastan frowned at that announcement. Putting someone like that into the notorious den of snakes would only serve to strengthen the blood purist movement existing in that house, or so it would seem, but he noticed that not everyone in the house of snakes was excited by the addition of the young scion. He and the others watched as the memory fast forward through a few more first years until Professor McGonagall's voice rang out, "Harry Potter."

In an instant you could hear a pin drop. The eyes of every student and teacher were locked onto the young man with the mop of unruly black hair and the most expressive emerald green eyes that they had ever seen. They watched as there was no hesitation from Harry as he purposefully strode the length of the great hall, faced the vast majority of his audience and awaited for the Sorting Hat to be placed on his head. When it did, the outside observers noticed how everything else fell silent as the Sorting Hat spoke in Harry's head, which the observers were privy to, this being Harry's memory and all, "Ah, Mister Potter. I've been expecting you for some time."

Harry thought, "Y..you have?"

The hat answered, "Oh yes, I've been waiting for you since I sorted your parents all those years ago. I saw in them the possibility for greatness, and great they became, thrice defying Tom Riddle and his followers before the rat betrayed them for table scraps that Tom tossed to him and called it "power". Now as I look inside your head I see a thirst to prove that you are not "The-Boy-Who-Lived", but yourself, one Harry James Potter, orphaned at the tender age of fifteen months, raised by the most feared auror in a century in a home and family full of love. You want to show everyone who you are and what you can do. I see that you have your parent's courage, but without the arrogance and recklessness of your father or the temper of your mother. Your courage is enough that I would consider Gryffindor for you, where you could cultivate that courage and turn it into a sword to swing on the field of battle, but are not all battles won before they are fought.

"The brave do not think so, they believe that a battle is decided by strength of arms, power in spells, but they miss the subtlety of warfare. The cunning find ways to weaken their enemies enough that when it comes time to face them in the inevitable open battle, they have already won, the enemy just doesn't know it yet. This is the true way of Slytherin, cunning coupled with ferocity, courage with patience.

"Yes, you have those traits in spades. You could become great, not in the way of Riddle or Dumbledore, but in your own right, as your own man, and Slytherin could help. The house of snakes will force you to develop these traits as you overcome first the division within that house, followed by the division within the school, but, even the greatest leaders need followers loyal to them."

Harry swallowed and asked the hat in his mind, "What do you mean?"

The Sorting Hat chuckled in his mind, "First, you must overcome the foe which I have placed in the ranks of Slytherin. Show the house what you did on the train, show them that you can face this threat to you with the traits valued in the house of snakes. Show them that purity of blood means nothing. Show them that you are worthy to follow, and you will find an army of pit vipers ready to poison your enemies at your slightest whim, but be warned: this road is fraught with peril as it could lead you to become an even bigger threat than Riddle. Rely on your family and friends, some you haven't even made yet, to keep you on the path of righteousness, and your time will come.

"The darkness is coming again, Riddle will rise again. To be ready, you must unite the house of snakes behind your banner, and you must win enough support in the other houses to win them over."

The Sorting Hat paused for a moment to let what it had said sink in before continuing, "So what do you say: shall it be the easy road of the warrior, all courage and no cunning, that you would have in the House of Gryffindor, or will you choose the path of the assassin who only strikes when and where it suits him, using the traits of the house of snakes, cunning with ferocity, courage with patience, and follow the more difficult path to become the man you were born to be with Slytherin?"

The observers heard Harry's thought process as he examined all of what the Sorting Hat had said to him. As he considered the hat's words, Harry realized that he had never been one for the quick and easy route so he told the hat, "Slytherin."

The hat said nothing more to him but echoed his word in a shout that shook the great hall, "SLYTHERIN!"

A/N: Success! Another chapter rewritten.

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