Harry Potter, Self-Insert @15redstones
Terrarium Scabiosa!

Chapter 14: Terrarium Scabiosa!

A little later Neville had calmed down a bit and agreed that instead of plotting murder, contacting the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was maybe a better idea.

As it turned out, Angie hadn't actually wanted the family business, he'd just hated Frank for years, and after the whole Lestrange incident he'd just been mad that they hadn't gotten Neville. Complete psychopath. Good thing he's in St. Mungo's now, getting psychological treatment.

Well, after that there weren't any relevant incidents for a while. People gradually stopped looking at me like some celebrity and got used to me being another student, even if I and Hermione had no trouble beating everyone in almost every class.

Eventually some of the additional teachers got hired, and my efforts at convincing Snape that I'm not a typical dunderhead were for naught cause he stopped teaching below year 5. At least Professor Weatherford gets along a lot better with the class.

My petition to switch homework essays from inches to centimeters or standardized pages failed miserably, Fred and George spent way too much time on the mirror asking Sirius and Remus for details on pranks they pulled two decades ago, I finally got around to getting to know Ron - no idea why I put it off for so long - and spent a lot of time discussing "hypothetical" plots for the Star Wars with Terry.

Maybe I should work on another item off my TO-DO list.


"Good evening, Professor Dumbledore. We need to talk."

"Hello, Harry. Do you want a Lemon Sherbet? No? Well, let me ask what brings you to my office today? I was under the impression that you were happy with my efforts to hire more staff members."

"Oh, it's not that, Professor. The school's running great. But we really need to talk about the elephant in the room, or more precisely, the dark wizard in the castle."

"Harry, I know Severus is not the nicest person, but despite what your new father might have told you, he's absolutely on our side."

"Oh, not Snape. We're actually getting along okay-ish. I'm talking about Professor Quirrel."

Dumbledore seemed surprised, but not quite as much as I expected. "Quirinus?"

"Yes. Right now I'm about 90% certain that he's got something nefarious planned, 70% certain he's working for Voldemort."

The actual numbers are 99.9% and 99%, by the way. But I can't reveal too much of what I know.

"Ninety percent certain he's evil? Harry, he's the Defense Professor. Why do you think he's dark?"

"First of all, he's the Defense Professor. There's always something going on with whoever has that position. Second, he fakes his stutter. If you spend a few hours every week listening to how he speaks in his classes, you notice that. Third, I get a weird feeling where my lightning bolt scar used to be whenever I look in his direction. In storybooks that's called foreshadowing. And fourth, back during the welcoming feast he tried to use legilimency on me, or something similar - with the back of his head. There's got to be something weird going on under that turban."

Dumbledore listened calmly, but the last one appeared to have surprised him a bit. "Legilimency, with the back of his head? Are you certain?"

"Well, I'm only the second best Occlumens in my year," I admitted, "but I certainly recognize a blunt force legilimency attack."

"So, you learned Occlumency? And I presume by second best you mean that however you learnt it, Hermione Granger did too?"

"Correct. It was one of the vital skills I decided I'd definitely need to have a chance against Voldemort. Hermione and I both spent quite some time learning Occlumency and a bit of Legilimency too so that we could train more."

This did appear to concern him. "Harry, are you telling me that you are practicing Legilimency on each other?"

"Well, we figured out pretty quickly that the best way to get better is to practice. So as soon as we managed to somewhat organize our minds we added little training areas where we only put irrelevant memories and thoughts, then whenever we want to train one of us selects a specific memory like a memorable scene from a movie or a book, hides that thought in the training area of their mind, and the other partner then has to figure out how to read that memory. It's a variant on a partner training technique we found in an old book in Sirius's family library."

"You do know that some of the books his family collected are rather dark in nature, do you?"

"Of course. But there's plenty of normal books too, including a lot of quite rare ones. And if I'm going to have to go up against Voldemort, I'm not going to say no to any massive advantage that I get for practically free. Now, let's get the conversation back on track and discuss how we're going to keep an eye on Quirrel's activities, okay?"


"Um, Professor Snape?"

"What is it, Potter? As by your own recommendation, I no longer teach you Potions. Unless you want to ask something on O.W.L level, Professor Weatherford's office is on the first floor, west wing. And while you seem to have inherited at least some of your mother's brilliance, don't tell me you're four years ahead of the curriculum."

"Well, actually I wanted to ask about something like that. When brewing Draught of Living Death, wouldn't it be a good idea to crush the Sopophorous bean instead of cutting it? I mean, theoretically, that'd be a much better way to get at the juice."

"Potter, while it would be indeed a very good idea, I would heavily recommend against you brewing that potion as a first year. And where did you get that idea in the first place? Don't tell me you figured out an improvement like that by yourself, without even having brewed the potion."

"Well, it wasn't really my idea. You see, I asked Madam Pince if I could look through the school's stock of used textbooks to see if I could maybe find something owned by my parents, since I don't really have anything from them, and I found this potions book full of interesting ideas on how to improve common potions."

I pulled it out of my bag and continued. "It's a shame it doesn't say whose book it is, because if all the tips are as good as that one about crushing the bean, the author must be a true potions genius. Whoever it is, they could probably make a fortune publishing these amazing improvements, teach them to the next generation of potions prodigies and maybe even invent some great new potions! That is, unless this mysterious author is busy spending all their time teaching eleven year old dunderheads how to properly stir a cauldron."

I don't know what I really expected, but not this. Snape laughed. "I don't know what to think of you, Potter, I really don't. Every time I think I've figured it out you come and completely turn my expectations around. When Dumbledore told me he suspected you were with Black, I expected the worst, a copy of your arrogant father. When you got sorted into Ravenclaw and demonstrated a decent amount of skill in Potions, I had a glimmer of hope you were more like your mother. Then you held that smear speech telling the entire school what a terrible teacher I am and extinguished it. Then it ends up with my job being significantly more bearable and now you're here, praising me."

"Well, first, it's not that complicated, Sir. I knew you're good at really advanced potions. The basics of potions are so obvious to you that you couldn't fathom why anyone would have trouble with them, so you're obviously not good at teaching them. So everyone's happier if someone else is doing that, I have no idea why that wasn't obvious to everyone. And now that you're working less hours, you might want additional income and you have some spare time, so I was suggesting you use that spare time to do some good work and invent and sell better potions recipes.

"Second, I found that book, and while it's so full of great ideas that it was obvious that it had to be yours, I also thought I should probably tell you that you really shouldn't leave books containing your spells lying around like that. Muffliato is great and harmless and all, but what if someone else found that book, saw Sectumsempra - for enemies and attempted to use it against an annoying classmate?"


Gryffindor/Ravenclaw Charms class with Flitwick. Now we're finally supposed to learn one of my favorites.

"It's Levio-o-sa not Levio-sah!"

Well, this scene feels familiar. But given how Hermione looks like she can barely hold her laugh she's probably done it deliberately.

Maybe I shouldn't have used that scene from Philosopher's Stone as the target during one of our "Capture the Memory" games. A side effect of using that method to improve our Occlumency to the point of being able to keep my dimension traveling origin a secret is that Hermione knows a rather unusually large amount of pop culture from two decades in the future.

Now that I think about it, I got an idea...

"Let me try it first. Terrarium Scabiosa!"

The feather floated. So my theory about the arithmantic properties of incantations might be correct. Everyone Hermione was pretty surprised though, and even she didn't immediately recognize what I was doing.

"What… How? That's not the right way to do it at all! What do these words even mean?"

"Scabiosa is a genus of plants, I guess you could have one in a terrarium. No idea what it has to do with floating feathers," mentioned Neville.

"Nothing, but it has the same syllable structure as Wingardium Leviosa. I think the way it works is that the pattern of the wand movement and the pattern of the syllables in the incantation have to fit. Probably complicated arithmancy reasons behind it."

"Ten points to Ravenclaw! Yes, Mr. Potter, you're correct. The exact properties of arithmantic patterns in spells is something you'll learn in fourth year Arithmancy. Understanding it is only required for spellcrafting, in Charms class you'll learn how to best cast a spell whose patterns are known."

"And let me guess," I said half guessing and half vaguely remembering arithmancy books way above my level that I had skimmed through months ago, "silent casting works by focusing on the pattern of incantation, like you'd focus on the intent of a spell? And motionless casting by picturing the pattern of the wand movement?"

Now Flitwick got excited and went into full explainer mode, even though most of the class couldn't really follow and just kept on practicing Wingardium.

"Correct. Technically they're not necessary, the bare intent of a spell can be enough to successfully cast, but that is not reliable and usually only happens with accidental magic. Mentally focusing on the arithmantic patterns of a spell greatly reduces the intent required, and saying and drawing the patterns makes it possible to cast most spells with very little mental effort."

"And motionless casting is just one step away from wandless casting, right?"

"Yes, yes, that is true, although wandless casting obviously takes a much greater effort for an inferior result, without the amplifying effect of the wand."

Right. Wandless is mostly a party trick, or to summon your wand back to you. I guess it could come in useful in edge cases, so I'll continue practicing it, but it's true that doing magic with wands is just better. There's a reason the greek wizards did so well until the Romans copied them, conquered most of europe, and why Europeans later conquered most of the world. Whoever first figured out that a bit of magic animal in a magical stick amplifies and focuses magic probably changed the course of history more than anyone else, ever.

Author's Note: The magic system for this fic is loosely based on WhiteSquirrel's Arithmancer series.

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