Harry's eyes are opened to a new way to look at magic.
Albus Dumbledore sighed as he sat in his overstuffed chair behind his desk. He had been at the Ministry attending Wizengamot meetings for the past month. Minerva had been taking care of the school while he was gone, but many items still needed his attention. With another sigh, Dumbledore started sorting though the small mountain of papers. He glanced at the staffing report. The report of Miss Granger going on a leave of absence was only alittle surprising. He had expected her to go to ground in the muggle world long before this.
The student population in Hogwarts had been declining over the past few years. Most muggle born were sending their children to North America for schooling rather than chance putting them into a European school. As the Ministry had been slowly moving toward a pure blood bias, more and more graduates had been leaving for the muggle world, or leaving Europe completely.
The Order had been working in the shadows to slow or reverse many of the changes that had been implemented, but they were only so many people. With the recent loss of Alistor Moody, it would be an even harder fight. Moody's sudden change of heart was disconcerting, mostly because it was so unexpected.
Dumbledore sat back in thought. He looked over at Fawkes. His Phoenix familiar had recently gone through a burning day, and was almost back to his mature form. Albus smiled as reminisced about some of Fawkes adventures. Many of the most recent involved Harry. A bond had formed between Harry and Fawkes, one of friendship based on mutual respect and admiration.
The headmaster had tried to contact Harry when he had disappeared using Fawkes ability to fire travel. When he had handed the parchment to the regal bird and asked for it to delivered, Fawkes expression turned to one of sorrow and he turned away from Dumbledore. A few seconds later he underwent a burning. As Fawkes flashed into flame, Albus Dumbledore fell back into his chair. The phoenix wasn't supposed to go through a burning for several weeks yet!
The small chick had shaken the ashes from his head and settled into the newly made nest. The headmaster picked the undelivered letter up from the floor where it had fallen and placed it into a drawer of his desk. It had sat in that same drawer for the past 10 years. Albus pulled it out and held it up. The parchment was yellowed with age. The ink turned to a deep purple with the passage of time.
With a final sigh, Albus Dumbledore replaced the letter in his desk, and turned back to the pile of work.
Herbology was never one of Harry's strong classes. He usually just cruised through with an average mark. In the case of his greenhouse, he had more than enough skill to bring it up to speed. Using some of the skill he had learned at Hogwarts and some he had gained while working on Aunt Petunia's garden, he was able to get some nice vegetables and herbs to freshen the winter tables of the building's tenants. It also provided him time to be introspective. Much of the time he spent in the greenhouse was quiet. He would be working on the rows of plants only to look up and realize many hours had passed.
Harry's work with Ollivander in the wand shop provided enough money to rent his flat, buy incidentals, and a bit left over to put away. He had been practicing splitting the wood dowels whenever he could. He could split several everyday. Harry had been working earlier in the week, and had found himself particularly absorbed by a piece of Bloodwood. It had acomplex grain, and was an exceedingly hard wood. He had focused himself on the wood for more than an hour before even placing it in the vice.
Ollivander had watched from his bench. He had quietly put akettle on to boil, and prepared some tea while "James" had worked. Without disturbing the young man, he had placed a mug of Earl Grey within reach. The old shopkeeper had been very pleased with the advances his charge had made since his abrupt arrival at his shop that one morning. The once frail and scared young man had calmed. He was still skittish, but wasn't jumping at the simple sound of the bell when someone walked into store anymore.
Harry finished with the tomato seedlings he was transplanting into some fresh earth. He brushed his work apron off, and hung it by the door as her left his roof retreat. The sun was just touching the horizon. Its golden rays lit the entire rooftop garden through the frosty panes of glass.
He waved at Olivia as she swept the stairwell. She smiled and motioned him over.
"I just wanted to convey the whole building's thanks to you, James. You rooftop garden is a godsend in these trying times. There's nothing like a nice bit of fresh herbs and vegetables to brighten a meal!"
Harry smiled. He felt a wash of pleasure at the gratitude being shown by the other residents. "It's nothing, Olivia. I enjoy the time to think, and it's good exercise for me. My job is pretty sedentary."
"Well, I have a proposition for you. I know you weren't able to make the last Tenants meeting, so I volunteered to bring this up with you."Harry felt a bit of curiosity flare in him. "We've voted to use some of the'Rainy Day' money we have put away to expand the rooftop gardens. We would like to put a railing around the outer edge. If you were willing, we hoped you would plan and grow us a sitting area. Sort of an Urban Park. We would pay you for the time, of course. Much like we currently do, with rent reductions."
Harry pursed his lips in thought. He already knew he would accept, and was planning out some of the additions he would make. Some small potted bushes, Ivy and hanging plants, and flowers. Maybe he could figure out away to make a small fountain in the north-west corner...
"James?" Olivia looked at him with a bit of concern. Harry shook his head and focused.
"Pardon? Oh! Yes. Of course, I would love to! I'm sorry.. Iwas doing a bit of woolgathering there."
Olivia patted him on the shoulder and clucked like a mother hen. "You need to take some time for yourself, also. We'll discuss the particulars over tea on the weekend? Now. Off to bed with you. My children got the same bags under their eyes when they were tired!"
Harry impulsively leaned down and gave the woman a quick hug. She looked at his eyes and saw for the first time since he had moved into the building that his smile filled his whole face. Up until this point, any time James had smiled, his eyes had still had a haunted look in them.
"I'll see you then, Olivia. Good night."
The next morning, Harry was passing through the Leaky Cauldron on his way to the shop. He looked at Tom and nodded his head good morning like he had every other day before. Usually, Tom just watched him pass through. This time, Harry saw him gesture him over. He stopped and looked around the bar. The only other person in the establishment was the chamber maid, preparing her cart for the day. Harry slowly walked over to the bar."Yes?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you, Sir. As you were passing through yesterday, you dropped this. I knew you would be back through today, so I held on to it for you." Tom set a small rolled piece of parchment on the bar. Harry looked at it and took a step back from the barkeeper. He felt a wash of panic rising in his chest.
"I'm sorry. You are mistaken. Please. I'm late for work."Harry glanced side to side to make sure no one was trying to sneak up on him.
"Please, Sir. It looks important. I'm sure it's yours. I've been moody since I found it, and would feel better if I didn't have to keep constant vigilance over it."
Harry stopped. His eyes rolled in their sockets with fear. Moody! How had he found him? Harry had been very careful to stay out of sight. His breathing quickened at the thought of being found by Dumbledore and forced to stay at the Dursley's, or worse, imprisoned at Grimmauld Place. As he envisioned this, a black veil went up over his vision, and he felt a presence.
Tom looked at the young man. His face was white, and he looked like he was about to faint. This couldn't be the same person Moody had told him about. A flobberworm could have knocked him over. Suddenly, with ashudder, the man in front of him calmed. His green eyes pierced Tom's and pinned him in his place. He could feel feather-like brushes of a master legilimens. There was something else.... A feeling that it would be fruitless and dangerous to resist. This was the same feeling he had experienced the first day Harry had stayed at his inn. It was gone almost as fast as he had felt it.
Tom almost missed what happened next. A small pulse of raw magic washed over him. It seemed to come from the man in front of him. It was so quick and low powered that he wasn't even sure he had felt it.
Ezekial pulled a warm blanket around Harry's mind. He had been watching from the depths, and wanted to see how Harry would cope. It was obvious he wasn't ready yet for anything but pleasant social interaction. There was a spark of courage, but he still needed the self assurance to ignite it into bravery and conflict. The years of being unable to fight back while in Azkaban had conditioned Harry's Fight or Flight response into a self preservation Fear and Forget.
Ezekial tasted the reflections of magic that came back to him. It was much like a snake tasting the air. He could see all of the charms and enchantments that were layered over the pub. He could sense the people in their rooms. Most importantly, he could perceive the Auror under an invisibility cloak in the corner. A quick probe of Tom's mind showed him the proprietor did not know of the Auror stationed in his pub. Ezekial was sure the man under the cloak was starting to get interested in the exchange that was happening at the bar. He needed to deflect it away from Harry.
"Wait.. Now I remember this. I'm in your debt, Tom. My employer was displeased to say the least when I had misplaced his Nephew's OWL results. Thank you for holding on to this for me."
Tom nodded and breathed a sigh of relief. It went against all his training to turn his back to the person at his bar. The feeling he gave off was one of a threat, but not directed at him.
With a malicious grin, Ezekial pulled some magic from the ley line overhead. Not enough to stand out, but enough to power a small curse. He muttered the empowering phrase and discreetly flicked his fingers at the corner.
Ezekial scooped up the parchment with liquid smoothness and tucked it into his coat as he strode from the pub into the Alley./ /Tom looked around as he heard a loud gurgle followed by soft cursing in the corner. A rancid fecal smell wafted throughout the pub.
Harry felt woozy. The dizzy episodes had been happening less since he got out of the hospital, but sometimes they still overwhelmed him. He was sitting on one of Florean Fortescue's small tables. Not exactly sure how he got there, he scrubbed his face with his hands. With a deep breath, Harry hurried to Ollivander's shop.
The old shopkeeper had just unlocked the door as he arrived. Harry mumbled a small apology for his lateness, and got only a raised eyebrow in response. "Once in a while, Mr. Black, I can understand. Just don't make ahabit of it." Harry settled into his workbench and got straight to work.
The rest of the morning flew past as Harry worked diligently on the bloodwood wand. He shaped the pieces and prepared a small channel down the middle for the core to be placed. Ollivander stepped up behind him and asked to inspect his work.
"Mmmm... yes. Bloodwood is very difficult to work with. Actually, I'm surprised you have been able to shape this piece as nicely as you have. The heartwood tends to be very dense and resistant to the carving blades. How did you do this without damaging the chisels?"
Harry looked up at Ollivander with a bit of confusion. As he had been shaping the wood, he had been allowing his senses to flow into the grain to see what the wood grain had wanted it to look like. All he had done was follow the grain, shape the handle, and sand the rough parts.
"I did as you instructed, Sir. Feel the wood, sense the flow of the grain, and was sure of every stroke of the chisel before making it. I've been working on this wand for the past few days, actually. It just seemed to want to be shaped this way. Did I do something wrong?"
Ollivander rocked back on his heels. Amazing! This young man in front of him could sense and manipulate magical flows. It took a strong magical core to even see them, let alone use them.
"Tell me, James. When you close your eyes and use the splitting visualization technique on the shop, what do you see?"
Harry relaxed into concentration. He had never thought to use this on anything but wands. As he sank into himself, he realized that the wandmaker's book hinted at this use. Harry hadn't been able to grasp some of the ideas until now. When he opened his senses to the shop, he could see hundreds of lines flowing through the shelves. Each one was connected to a wand in its case. Harry followed one of the threads up and out of the shop. The other end connected to a large flowing river of magic that seemed to surge up out of the ground like a fountain, and run in different directions away from Diagon Alley. With a gasp at the beauty of it all, he opened his eyes.
Ollivander stood in front of him with a small smile on his lips. "Well? What do you see?"
"It's beautiful. Like a river of magic fountaining up and spreading out to everything. The wands... they seem to be connected to the... Idon't even know how to describe it."
"It's called a Ley Line. The best way to describe it would be to call it a river. What you saw with the wands was their magical cores'connection to the ley line. If you were to look very closely at a person, you might see the thread that connects them to the line also. You are very lucky, Mr. Black. Not many people can see them. I have a second question for you. What will you be using for a core with that wand you have been working on?"
Harry shook his head. He hadn't gotten to the portion of the book that dealt with cores yet. He had no idea on even what he could use. "I'm sorry, Sir. I haven't gotten to that point yet. I hadn't felt until now that it was even ready for one."
Ollivander patted his shoulder and turned towards the front. The bell had rung that a customer was waiting. "I suggest you read Chapter 10 next. Keep looking at the lines. Try it when you get home, at the park, or when you're in the bath!" With a wink he disappeared through the curtain.
Harry cleaned the shop up and waved to Ollivander as he left for the day. He stopped at Fortescue's for a small ice cream, and sat in retrospection of the day. His mind slipped to the sight he had used in the shop, and he saw the swirls of threads all around him. Each person had a bright thread that was connected to their wand. With a bit of concentration, Harry could see some other threads that interconnected the person to the wand, and to the main ley above. He could see his own thread, though in all fairness it was much more rope like than thread. He could see the differing thicknesses of others connections also.
A few tables away, Harry watched a wizard cast scourgify, cleaning it of the melted ice cream that had spilled on it. A pulse of energy came out of the wand and stroked the table like a hand wiping away the mess.
Harry finished his treat and wondered at the amazing display of magic as he walked home.