Elias couldn’t help but pick at the skin around his fingernails in nervousness as the students filed in. He doubted any of them would be able to look at him and say that he was Harry Potter conclusively, but there was still a chance.
His heart sank when he saw Ron, Hermione, and Ginny walk in the door followed closely by an extremely blonde Ravenclaw who split off from the group shortly after they walked in the door. He was supposed to be down there, not up here! He was supposed to be sitting with his friends and listening to other students talking about their summers. He was supposed to be laughing at the twin’s jokes and listening to Ron and Hermione fight about something.
He was supposed to be down there putting up with the whispers and pointing and rumors of how he killed Cedric.
Perhaps it was better that he was up here sitting between Severus and Remus, though his heart ached for his friends. Friends who he saw looking frantically around the hall as though he may have shown up early before sitting down and whispering among themselves as they pointed to the head table. In fact there was a lot of pointing towards the head table, and pointing in their general direction.
Elias swallowed heavily and tucked his hands under his legs to prevent them from shaking. Maybe it would be better if he had dinner in their quarters? He really didn’t want to make a mess while sitting in the front of the whole school, and his hands were shaking so badly he didn’t think there was any way around that. And everyone kept looking up at him.
“Easy there, Elias,” Severus muttered, glaring at a few of the people who were pointing in a way that made them immediately turn and look away. “More than likely they are wondering if you are an apprentice or if Lupin is back to teach DADA this year. Try reading a bit more of your book if they are bothering you too much.”
Elias nodded subtly before pulling out his book and resizing the text once more. Soon enough, he was engrossed enough in the book that he was able to tune out most of the chatter from the students. He had just gotten to a section of the book pertaining to the noted effects of magic on an original electric generator when his father nudged him gently in the side to get his attention causing his side to cramp slightly as he shot his father a glare before he realized there was a group of first years standing in front of them, listening in rapt attention to the Sorting Hat singing its annual song.
…Oh, know the perils, read the sighs,
The warning history shows,
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadly foes
And we must unite inside her
Or we’ll crumble from within.
I have told you, I have warned you. . . .
Let the Sorting now begin.
What had he missed?
He looked at his father in confusion as applause punctured with whispers and muttering throughout the hall. Severus shrugged before glaring out at the crowd in an effort to silence at the very least the Slytherins who were looking towards him, possibly for guidance, only to find more questions than answers as they looked at teen sitting next to him and couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two.
Eventually, the murmuring died down and Professor McGonagall began the sorting with Euan Abercrombie, who was rather promptly sorted into Gryffindor. Elias tried to be a good sport about the entire sorting, but after being in relative silence for several weeks, all of the clapping and cheering was beginning to give him a headache. He had never been so glad to get through a sorting as he was when Rose Zeller was finally sorted into Hufflepuff and the applause finally died away. He must have looked a right state as he could tell Draco was looking at him with a rather worried look on his face.
“Do you need to leave?” Severus asked, leaning over and whispering in his ear as Dumbledore stood to give his brief opening speech.
Elias thought about it for a moment before shaking his head as the plates filled with all sorts of food. He didn’t really want to leave just yet. He may be tired, but he could manage a meal surely. Besides, it was one less potion he’d have to take when he got back to their quarters. After having been on nutrient potions for several weeks in an effort to make up for the malnourishment caused by his relatives, he had grown to hate the flavor and had no desire to use one as a meal replacement when there was the option of food sitting right in front of him.
“Here,” Severus said, handing Elias four of his nightly potions to take, including a new vial which appeared to be specially constructed as a two part device with a divider in the middle.
Picking it up and looking at it curiously, Elias noticed the top of the vial had only a very small amount of a thick, silver powder contained within it while the bottom was completely full of what appeared to be plain water. He felt he recognized the potion, however he wasn’t completely sure of it, nor was he sure of how to use this new vial. He had enough problems with the vials the other potions came in when his fingers quite simply didn’t want to grasp long enough to pull the cork out of the top.
“Don’t take that one yet,” Severus said, urging him to take the other potions first. “I’ll show you how to use that vial after you get something in your stomach.”
Elias nodded and quickly downed the other three potions before looking out over the selection of food which was laid out before him. While the steak and kidney pie looked and smelled delicious, he knew he would likely flip it onto the table and make a disaster of it if he tried to take a slice and decided on a rather simple meal of a few slices of roast beef which was easy enough to stab with a fork and pull apart, a yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and roast carrots. A few cursory test swallows to make sure the potions were working and he began to tuck in as delicately as he could manage. The last thing he needed was to inadvertently fling food at one of the tables and start a food fight simply because his arm twitched.
After he was nearly halfway through his meal, Severus leaned over and placed the mysterious other potion in front of him. Elias was almost positive he knew what the potion was, he just had never seen it in its undilute form.
“I want to make sure you are able to use this kind of vial,” Severus said. “This particular vial is keyed to your signature, so only you will be able to open it.”
Elias smiled a rather wide smile as he looked at the vial in front of him as he understood the significance of it. It was the Fulgur, it had to be. The one potion he wasn’t allowed to take around the other students and his father had found a potential way to make it so he could. If he could manage to open the vial, he could sit with the students for meals.
“It ought to be simple enough for you to use,” Severus said, placing the vial flat on the table. “Place the palm of your hand on the top of the vial and press down. The secondary cork will drop into the potion base and water below. Then all you have to do is shake the potion until it is fully dissolved, unscrew the top and drink.”
“Woooah,” Elias breathed, gently and excitedly placing his hand on the top of the vial and pressing down slightly, mildly afraid it would break. The cork which separated the two elements refused to budge.
“You have to press quite hard to break the seal,” Severus said, mentally crossing his fingers that this would work.
Another push, significantly harder this time, and the bottom cork popped loose. Elias immediately looked up from the vial, a look of pure triumph on his face as he then took the vial and began to violently shake the potion. It took a few seconds, but finally the silvery powder was fully mixed in with the rest of the potion. A few tries later and he managed to undo the screw top cap and quickly downed the potion, noting the slight tingle it sent throughout his body as he did so. That was definitely his Fulgur, he would recognize that feeling anywhere.
“Th-th-thanks, d-d-da,” he said softly, turning back to his pudding and debating getting a celebratory slice of treacle tart.
“You’re welcome,” Severus said, taking the now empty vial back. “Return the vial to me after each use and I will reset it.”
Elias nodded excitedly before looking out at the student body and noticing Draco looking at him with a smirk on his face. Elias glared good naturedly at him, to which the Slytherin responded with what seemed to be a small chuckle, though Elias couldn’t tell for sure from such a distance.
Slowly, the noise in the hall began to creep upward once more as the students finished their meals and began to speak with each other once again. Once it seemed the majority of the students had finished their meals, Dumbledore stood once more causing all talking to cease immediately as all students faced towards the head of the room. Despite his bitterness towards the headmaster, Elias had to admit he certainly had a way of demanding respect from those around him. He just hoped the upcoming speech wouldn’t take too long; his lovely, soft bed was calling to him from down in the dungeons.
“Well, now that we are all digesting another magnificent feast, I beg a few moments of your attention for the usual start-of-term notices,” said Dumbledore. “First years ought to know that the forest in the grounds is out of bounds to students - and a few of our older students ought to know by now too.”
Elias couldn’t help but look at Ron and Hermione, who were sharing a rather mischievous yet sad smirk. Without Harry, the chances of them getting into nearly the same amount of trouble had lessened significantly. The chances of an attack on the school by Voldemort was also a lot less, a fact he knew they had likely thought about but dismissed as a crude thought.
“Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me, for what he tells me is the four hundred and sixty-second time, to remind you that all magic is not permitted in corridors between classes, nor are a number of other things, all of which can be checked on the extensive list now fastened to Mr. Filch’s office door.”
Excitement dwindling as he listened to the longer speech given by the headmaster, Elias found himself in a position he could only describe as ‘fat and happy.’ The food in his stomach filled him with warmth from the inside while the ambiance of the Great Hall made him feel warm on the outside. This was what Hogwarts had always felt like to him: a home filled with warmth, family, and friends. No matter what the situation surrounding him, this was the feeling he always got at the beginning of the year.
The urge to yawn was great as fatigue began to set in, though it felt different from the daily fatigue which he was beginning to grow rather accustomed to.
“Are you doing ok, Elias?” Remus suddenly whispered, looking at Elias rather worriedly out of the corner of his eye.
Elias nodded while stretching his arms in front of him in an effort to wake himself, wincing as a line of spasms continued down his arms for a few moments. He felt as well as to be expected. Students were occasionally looking at him still, a fact which he was still quite leary of, but wasn’t quite as anxiety inducing as what it had been. He was feeling a bit more foggy than normal, but this was by far the latest he had stayed awake in a while. He was just tired.
“We have had two changes in staffing this year.” Dumbledore continued, a wide smile on his face. “We are very pleased to welcome back Professor Grubbly-Plank, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons; we are also delighted to introduce Professor Umbridge, our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.”
There was a round of polite but unenthusiastic applause from the students which Elias attempted to join in, however he couldn’t help but notice his hands started twitching more violently following one clap. His head was also beginning to feel heavy, almost inexplicably so. It didn’t feel right; something felt very not right.
But what was it? This feeling felt very familiar, but he struggled to place where he had felt it before. The mounting anxiety in his chest, the spasms in his hands, the heaviness in his head, the fact he was beginning to feel like he was looking through a tunnel. It all felt so familiar, and not in a good way. When had he last felt like this?
“Tryouts for House Quidditch teams will take place on the -” Dumbledore stopped suddenly as there was some minor rustling farther down the head table from where Elias was sitting. For some reason, Professor Umbridge had stood up as though she were planning to make a speech.
“Hem, hem,” she said, clearing her throat and making it obvious that that was indeed her plan. From where he sat, Elias couldn’t tell what the other professor’s reactions were, but he could see the looks of disbelief from the other students in the hall. Some students had looks of sheer disbelief while others had smirks on their faces at the sheer audacity of the action. The one table with the fewest reactions was Slytherin, though a brief look at his father showed they were simply mirroring their head of house’s reaction. No one had ever interrupted the headmaster’s speech; this woman obviously didn’t know how things were at Hogwarts.
“Thank you, Headmaster,” Professor Umbridge simpered, “for those kind words of wisdom.”
Her voice was high pitched, breathy, and little-girlish in a way that made Elias shudder and rub his temples. Something about her made him loathe her in a way that he could only conclude was due to the fact she reminded him somewhat of Aunt Marge and the summer he spent hiding from Sirius after he blew her up. Her horrible attitude and horrible dog made the summers she came to visit exponentially worse than this… summer.
Elias froze as a thought came rushing back to him. He had been feeling rather odd and anxious the day he had had his first seizure. He couldn’t recall much of what led up to it, but he could remember his hand twitching differently from what it had been doing previously. Had he had tunnel vision? He couldn’t really remember it, but he wouldn’t be surprised if he had.
Looking at his hands, he was rather dismayed to find they were, in fact, continuing to rhythmically twitch. If he was right, he had maybe a few minutes to get out of the Great Hall. Maybe. He had been ignoring it for quite a while.
Turning to Remus who was sitting between him and the door, he looked at the man with panic in his eyes. Just the act of that small turn had sent his head whirling. Forget minutes, he needed to get somewhere to lay down now. He couldn’t wait until after the lady from the ministry finished her speech, he needed out of the Great Hall five minutes ago. He shouldn’t have stayed; he should have left when he was given the chance.
“Elias?” Remus asked, looking at the boy next to him in concern, especially when he saw the look of pure panic in the boy’s eyes. “Do you need to leave?”
Elias nodded slowly, noticing everything was starting to feel as though he were trying to think through mud. The corners of his mouth were beginning to twitch uncontrollably. If he didn’t get out of here now, he was going to seize in front of the entire school. All of the students would get to watch him convulse while listening to a lovely speech from a ministry plant. What a way to introduce himself to the wizarding world.
Remus nodded quickly and assisted him to his feet before fleeing the Great Hall. Elias’s legs weren’t wanting to cooperate, so it was less of a walk and more of a drag from the hall, but it was enough that it was noticed by a few of the professors who were sitting farther down the table. Whispers erupted from the students who were now more focused on whatever had happened at the Slytherin side of the Head Table than the drivel coming from the new professor’s mouth about “progress being discouraged” and “pruning practices.”
Remus had barely managed to make it into the antechamber by the head table when he felt Elias stiffen up. Quickly, he laid the boy on the ground and undid the top few buttons of his shirt and robe. Quickly removing his own outer robe, Remus balled it up and shoved it under Elias’s head before taking his wand and creating a timer of the situation with one flick and sending a patronus to Severus with another all while trying to ignore the the gasps coming from the boy he had just dragged out of the hall. Convulsions left Elias twitching painfully on the ground, head slamming backwards into the cushioning provided by the robe.
It didn’t take long for Severus to arrive, the stoic look on his face barely masking the obvious panic in his eyes as he surveyed the scene. It had barely been thirty seconds since the start of the seizure and thankfully it was seeming to be letting up, allowing the two men to more easily put the boy on his side as his breathing finally slowed, punctuated by only the smallest of shudders. Drool fell unabated from his mouth and soaked into the robes under his head.
“Elias? Da’s here,” Severus said, gently stroking the boy’s hair away from his forehead as his hazel eyes fluttered open momentarily and his brow furrowed in confusion. “We’re at Hogwarts, just outside of the Great Hall. You just had one of your seizures. You’re going to be exhausted after that, just let yourself relax. You’re safe, you’ll be fine.”
Elias moaned in response, eyes prickling with tears as he tried to process what was going on around him. He had made it to Hogwarts? How did he get here?
“Thank you for your quick response, Lupin,” Severus said quietly, continuing to stroke his son’s hair until the boy finally succumbed to the exhaustion he felt. “Was he able to tell you he was going to have a seizure?”
“Sort of,” Remus admitted. “I noticed while Dumbledore was speaking that something was off. I asked him and he initially indicated that he was fine, but a few minutes later he was looking at me with this look of pure panic.”
“What do you mean, you ‘noticed?’” asked Severus. “How could you have ‘noticed?’”
Remus thought for a second before finally saying “he smelled different.”
It was a horrible way to explain it, but it was easier to say it that way than to say he had gone from smelling oddly like a mix of Severus and something that reminded him of Lily Potter to having a sickly, pungent undertone to his smell. Something that Remus could only describe as similar to burnt paper and sour milk. It had come on so suddenly that it had surprised him. Surely it wasn’t a side effect of the potions he had just taken, as those had their own unique odor.
“You could smell something was different?” Severus said in disbelief.
Remus nodded, “The full moon was only four days ago. I typically have a better sense of smell for at least a week or so after I transform.”
Severus was silent for a few moments before pushing himself to his feet and conjuring a stretcher under his son. In a few minutes, the halls would be swarming with students as they headed to their houses for the first time. While there were only the Slytherins heading into the dungeons, that was still more students than he wanted seeing Elias in this state. Elias needed some time to recuperate and not be gawked at. Undoubtedly he would need a good long sleep after that.
“Thank you, Lupin,” Severus muttered once again. “He ought to be well enough to begin his studies tomorrow. I shall inform you if that changes.”
“You’re welcome, Severus,” Remus said, groaning slightly as he stood. “We can do a partial day tomorrow if he is not feeling well in the morning.”
Severus nodded once before levitating the stretcher carrying his son down to the dungeons. It was going to be a long night, he could already tell, but one which was at least mildly expected. He already knew his speech he would give to his new Slytherins by heart. From there it was simply a matter of making sure everyone got into bed and would be ready for the school year to begin once again. Elias’s seizure was unfortunately timed, however not unexpected.
Lowering the still slumbering boy onto his bed and banishing the stretcher, he sighed heavily before setting the observation spells he had become so accustomed to casting before heading to the Slytherin common room to officially begin the school year.