During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...
I I I
Every so often the entire Harry Potter universe offends me so deeply that I just have to react by folding, spindling and mutilating it.
I I I
"Harry! HARRY!!" Hermione slapped her friend's face several times, but he was completely unresponsive.
Luna stepped forward and took a sip of her chocolate milk, then leaned forward to kiss Harry's unresponsive lips, using the action to transfer the chocolate milk from her mouth to his. Then she stroked his neck to urge the fluid down his passage without choking him.
Harry shivered a moment, and his color got slightly better, but he was still deathly pale. A professor came running up, someone they didn't know, which pretty much meant he was this years new DADA teacher. Stopping in quickly to check on Harry, the man exclaimed, "What happened here, what's wrong?"
"The Dementors tried to kiss, Harry," Hermione stated softly, in fear.
"They seemed to like the dark, so I tried to drive them off with a flash of my camera," Colin hefted the device uncertainly.
"The Patronus charging up the hall seemed to help as well," Luna mused, then pondered aloud. "I wonder what happens to a dementor if it's forced to drink chocolate milk?"
"I sent that," Lupin replied, referring to the patronus, ignoring the chocolate milk comment, and still worriedly checking over Harry. "Come, one of you, look after him. I've got to talk to the conductor of this train. We've got to get Harry to Hogwarts as soon as possible. He's still very close to death, I'm afraid. I fear we may not have stopped that dementor in time."
Hermione broke down crying on the spot.
Luna began calmly writing.
I I I
The car was full of eye-witnesses, so news spread across the train very fast that Harry Potter had been at least partially kissed by a dementor. The news was treated very soberly by most, and when Draco chose to gloat about it, an irate seventh year threw him off the moving train as they just happened to be crossing a bridge.
Crabbe and Goyle got thrown off moments later.
The train piled on the steam, going far faster than was usual, and atouch faster than was safe. They arrived at Hogsmead station in record time, and Harry's clammy and unresponsive form was bundled into a waiting carriage, which sped off before all of the others, pouring on speed to get to Hogwarts at the fastest rate possible.
He was met at the front steps by Dumbledore, who'd been alerted by owl, and the old man immediately examined him and pronounced, "Harry is still alive, if only barely. Quickly, we have little time to waste."
The patient was taken immediately to the hospital wing to be treated by Madam Pomphrey, who began feeding him chocolate and potions.
"We're losing him, Albus!" she proclaimed, once the latest potions had failed to take hold and change his condition.
"I think not," the Headmaster calmly replied, raising one arm and calling,"Fawkes!"
The phoenix appeared in a burst of fire, settled on the head of Harry's hospital bed, and began crooning. The boy immediately settled and started showing signs of improvement.
Moments later Pomphrey confirmed that the crisis had passed, and that the phoenix song seemed to have started a recovery. Albus fondly patted his shoulder, and spoke to the school nurse, "Continue in your care, Poppy. I shall leave Fawkes to keep young Harry company through the night. I feel sure that phoenix song will prove to be the cure needed."
It was a very subdued school who met for the Welcoming Feast in the Great Hall, and though the Headmaster's declaration that Harry would recover did serve to improve the mood somewhat, it never did become a festive atmosphere.
Luna excused herself early to go wandering off into the Forbidden Forest. When she came back, she had a unicorn calmly trotting at her heels, which she led directly into the hospital wing, and which curled up around Harry, nurturing him and licking him like a young foal.
As it did, the chill seemed to break. And that, combined with the phoenix song, seemed to make all of the difference.
I I I
Early at breakfast the next morning, while Harry was still unconscious, owls flew in distributing papers. The very shocking front page article showed a picture taken by Colin Creevely of a very dramatic moment, with a dementor bending low over Harry Potter, extending its tentacles around his face so it could begin to feed, before backing up and starting over again.
The banner headline read, "Ministry Guardians Attempt To Murder Potter!"
The article below that read, "Guardians appointed by the Ministry to protect Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, from escaped murderer Sirius Black, tried to kill him themselves last night, delivering the dreaded dementor's kiss after stopping the Hogwarts train and incapacitating our..."
Fudge's term of office was over before ten o'clock that morning, as public outcry was nearly insane. His senior undersecretary Dolores Umbridge and most of his administrative staff were removed with him, as his term of office came to an abrupt and very nasty end.
Rumors had it that Aurors had to escort the politicians out of the country for fear of reprisals by angry mobs.
The dementors got withdrawn from around Hogwarts by the interim Minister as detrimental to the very purpose they'd been placed there for, and were gone before Fudge was even out of the country.
Luna's only comment on seeing the front page was to remark that her father must not have had space to publish the story she wrote in the Quibbler due to his ground breaking theory about murtlap poisonings, and so sold it to the Prophet.
The housemate she'd mentioned this to stared down at the byline in frank disbelief to note that, indeed, that article had been written by none other than Luna Lovegood.
Around noon came the heartening news that Harry had woken up just fine.
I I I
Inside Harry's head a very tricky conflict had been waging since last night. A near-kiss by a dementor had triggered off nothing less than afull-on war between Harry's own soul, and the fragment accidentally emplaced by Riddle inside of him, shaken loose from its usual bonds by the soul-sucking nature of the dementor's near kiss. The dementor itself had scarcely been driven off and his soul snapped back into place from the suction that had begun to be applied before Harry found himself in a desperate struggle for survival against a portion of the dark lord's soul which had broken free and wanted to destroy his native one and take his body for its own.
Harry himself was ill prepared for conflict. Having been maltreated and abused his entire life, he did not have a strong sense of self to rely on.
If the blood magic of his mother's sacrifice had been functioning properly, a victory by Voldemort's soul fragment would have been impossible. As it was, however, that sheltering protection had been so weakened by Petunia's hate that it was only enough to drive off the first few initial assaults, delaying the dark lord's triumph over Lily's child.
The 'initial charge' of Lily's sacrifice had been largely used up in Harry's first year, destroying Quirrel. What was left was enough to flummox the surprise attack by Voldemort's soul and turn it into a protracted struggle. But that was scarcely any guarantee of victory as Harry's mind had to learn to defend itself on no warning, finding itself thrust into battle where it had to fight for it's very survival from behind steadily disintegrating shields.
And it was not exactly well-outfitted to do so. Having discovered much about his parents that summer gave Harry a sense of belonging for the first time ever, really, and having studied so long and hard had done something for compensating his prior weakness, proving he had a drive if only he wanted to use it. Those tools, inadequate though they were, were all he had to do battle with in the surprising conflict of wills that sprang up.
On the other hand, he was not fighting against Tom Riddle's whole soul, only a portion of it, and a small portion at that. Plus, Harry's soul had a home turf advantage, in that this was HIS body, and its magic core responded to HIM!
However, he was hampered seriously enough by other issues that would not have been enough of an advantage. Harry was vastly inexperienced in the field of mental combat, and Voldemort was a pure expert. In the end, Harry was only able to hold out, and poorly at that, until relief came. It was the phoenix song provided by Fawkes that made the difference, strengthening the good, while simultaneously weakening the bad, as it was prone to do.
Still, the ravages of Voldemort's soul fragment could and would have crippled the boy but for the nurturing presence of Luna's unicorn. Phoenix song did a great deal of good, but that alone was not enough. Harry's background made him so weak to start with, while Voldemort had such an edge on strength and experience, that phoenix song alone could not guarantee Harry's triumph. It could only equalize them, and it was the unicorn that did the rest, providing him not only the strength to fight on, but enough mental energy to copy the various tools, tactics and weapons Riddle's soul fragment had been using and turn them back against his assailant.
Actually, the prophecy may have had a hand in that. Voldemort was supposed to "mark him as an equal," not give him a guarantee of Harry's destruction.
And, it was through this odd experience that equality was achieved.
As Voldemort's soul fragment dissolved under the attacks by Light energies upon it, the personality of it was utterly vanquished, while the skills and abilities simply went fluid and became absorbed by the victor, in this case Harry, making him, at last, Voldemort's equal in a very magical way.
The boy had also done a substantial amount of growing up, mentally speaking, as part of their conflict. Underdeveloped places in Harry's mind had been a favored target of the dark lord, as weaker than all others. The only effective counter for those attacks had been to develop those weak points until they were as strong as the others, even if he'd had no other option but to copy the pattern for those developments out of Voldemort's own mind.
Healing magic and the nature of phoenix song and unicorn nurturing had made subtle changes, suppressing the dark, so he was still very much Harry. But it was a much more adult Harry in mind than he'd ever been before, or would likely have become given the conditions he'd been kept under.
Just like an ordinary war takes immature farm boys and turns them rapidly into men, the close and intense nature of the conflict had caused Harry to develop far more rapidly than normal, and overcome emplaced blocks upon his mind and magic, as those, too, had been favorite targets of his enemy, weak points that could not be allowed to remain if he was to survive.
His survival had mandated such development. It had not been optional, there had been no room for weakness, and no mercy from his enemy in that fight. There was nothing too dirty for Voldemort to do, no tactic dishonorable if it gave him the slightest advantage. So Harry's mind had been forced to fortify itself in every particular, and now he was, truly, the dark lord's equal.
Harry had his enemy's power, but he had also gained Tom Riddle's memories, recalling people, places and objects unknown to him before. It gave him some insights having seen into the dark lord's character, but also revealed Tom's secrets.
Although, while their skills and abilities were equal, their circumstances in life certainly were not. Voldemort had enacted several dark rituals to empower him to greater than ordinary levels, granting him additional abilities. He also preferred Dark magic over Light, so many of his skills were things that Harry could not ever bring himself to do. His horcruxes were one such advantage, something that Harry wouldn't ever bring himself to duplicate.
However, Voldemort was also presently a wraith without a body.
Harry had a body, which would seem to grant him an advantage. But, as if to compensate for that, there was Voldemort's cadre of followers, and the so-called Light side working so very hard to keep Harry under tight control, effectively imprisoning him.
Aside from followers, the Dark Lord and Harry's circumstances were, while not being identical, almost surprisingly equal. Both had substantial restriction placed on their actions, and neither had access to most of Riddle's powers at the moment. Harry, because he would not use them, and Voldemort because he could not.
It was dawn before Tom Riddle's soul fragment was entirely dissolved, and it took until noon for Harry's mind to accept and integrate the new skills, then finally adapt to the change, which it had to do before it could wake up.
I I I
Harry found himself enveloped in a Hermione-hug before he'd even reached the Gryffindor table. "How did you get released? You'd better not have snuck out! Madam Pomphrey, I'm sure, would want to look you over for longer than she..."
Harry interrupted his best friend's rant with a laugh, before picking her up by her waist and bodily swinging her around, to which she responded with a startled yet happy squeal.
Placing her back down again, Harry answered, "Yes, Hermione, I got released. Professor Dumbledore said if I could go out and circulate with my friends it would probably help me get better, faster. Happiness is the antithesis to a dementor's powers, and no one is happy stuck in a hospital bed."
Hermione quite happily dragged him off to where they could have lunch together. Ron was already there, stuffing his face. "Blimey, Harry. Don't scare us like that!"
The Boy-Who-Lived smiled. "Thanks for caring, Ron."
Ron leaned forward closer to his food. "Yeah, well, I just don't want you missing any more Quidditch games. You know, if you'd stuck with me, this wouldn't have happened! I was right in a compartment with our new Defense teacher! He was up and at those things they moment we saw them!"
Harry tried to shrug, "Yeah, sorry about that. I did try to save you a space in our compartment, it just filled up faster than I'd expected, and the last few people didn't ask permission, they just came in."
"Oh, that's alright," Ron shoved a handful of bacon into his mouth, then spoke through it, "You just keep beating Slytherin, and we'll call it even."
"Deal," Harry said with a smile.
"Ah, Mister Potter. Glad to see you with us." Professor McGonagall came up to their table, and handed out a slip of paper. "Here is your class schedule."
Harry accepted it to look over, then frowned. "Professor, I don't see many of the classes I requested."
"Yes, well, Mister Potter, I'm afraid your request came too late..."their Head of House started.
"No. It didn't," Harry interrupted. "According to Hogwarts founding charter, I have two weeks into the term to decide whether or not to change classes. I first gave you notice weeks ago in the summer, then again acouple of days ago." He handed back the list. "Please return with my correct schedule."
His friends were both staring at him, shocked to find him so assertive.
Minerva shifted uncomfortably. "Yes. Well, Mister Potter, I'm afraid the Headmaster declined to grant your appeal..."
"The Headmaster hasn't got any authority to do anything of the kind,"he shot back. "No appeal was necessary, because the request for change was made in an orderly and appropriate manner, which neither he nor you could dismiss without just cause. Since you have named no cause, none exists. So, if you could correct my schedule, please? Until then, I'll use Hermione's."
Several listening Gryffindors had their jaws drop open on hearing this, as it was so totally unlike him to act in so bold a manner concerning school rules.
McGonagall was plainly uncomfortable, knowing the child was correct, but also that Albus had directed otherwise. "I shall let you speak to the Headmaster about this."
She nodded, and was about to sweep off, before Harry interrupted, "After lunch would be a good time for me, but if he wants to wait, I'll just go about with Hermione."
Hermione herself shifted a bit uncomfortably at this, and McGonagall went back with some haste to the staff table, to whisper in the Headmaster's ear.
"Blimey, Harry! What's all that about?" Ron asked around a mouthful of eggs.
Harry just shrugged. "I don't want to take Divination, as I'd rather take the same courses my mom did before I was born. They sound more useful, and I'm no longer interested in easy grades."
Ron started shaking his head. "You're giving up an easy O, you know that?"
Trying not to wince as Ron sprayed crumbs as he talked, Harry shrugged."It doesn't matter to me. I want to take more challenging courses. I'm rather like Hermione in that."
The witch beamed.
I I I
The sun had set by the time Harry was summoned.
"Ah, Harry. Come in! Lemon drop?" the Headmaster offered.
"No, thank you." Harry entered the office, sweeping right past the seats to hold two scrolls up before the Headmaster. "Look, I'm tired of you just stringing me along, offering meaningless placebos that accomplish nothing, so I'll get right to it. I know you don't intend to change my courses. What I don't know is why. But I don't care about that now. What I want you to know is that before I leave this office, one of these two scrolls is going into effect. This one," he laid the parchment before the Headmaster, where it rolled open, "Grants me the classes I'd requested, and this one,"he unrolled the other, but held it in the air, outside of Dumbledore's reach, "transfers me to Beauxbatons, where I've already arranged to have the classes of my choice. I already have Headmistress Maxine's signature on this one, having gotten it after lunch while you delayed meeting with me. To be legal, all I have to do is sign it. Which will it be?"
Dumbledore's face appeared sad and grave. "May I ask what prompted this lack of trust, Harry?"
Harry almost snorted. That was a counterattack, an aggrieved 'Oh, you don't trust me, after all I've done for you?! How COULD you be so ungrateful?'But he could play counterattack himself now.
"Only two full years of abuse of that trust, Headmaster. You've never once acted to protect me in any meaningful way. The home you arranged for me is a hell on earth, and to make certain that I'd never lived a day without fear, you made sure you kept your own pet Death Eater at school to keep up my daily portion of abuse." Harry stated in a level voice, before leaning forward to place his second scroll on the desk and produce a quill. "In fact, in light of that, I think I'll just sign this right now."
"That won't be necessary, Harry!" Dumbledore held up a placating hand. He brought the course change scroll closer to him and produced his own quill to sign it. "I will be most happy to agree to your change of courses, provided you stay within our school."
Harry successfully fought off a smirk. He KNEW that wasn't what the old coot was prepared to do when Harry was admitted to his office!
"No, I'm really convinced I'd be happier elsewhere," Harry answered, dipping his own quill in ink. "Someplace where I don't have the man who targeted my parents for Voldemort making sure I live in hell whenever you haven't locked me up in Dursley Prison. Someplace where the House Cup isn't meaningless because one corrupt teacher steals it by bloating his own House points year after year. Maybe even someplace where I can go a year without someone trying their best to kill me. You started early this year, Headmaster. I wasn't expecting the typical murder attempt until end of term, not the start of it."
Dumbledore's face had gone exceptionally grave indeed. "What is it you want, Harry?"
"Are you really that BLIND?" Harry asked in disbelief. "How about not killing me, for a change? Let's cut back on the torture, how about that?Snape is the single worst teacher in the history of this school! I know!I checked! He has fewer graduates who make worse grades overall, and his unprofessional behavior is unprecedented in the history of magical education!Keeping him on staff makes Hogwarts a joke! You'd get better results and less cruelty if you had Grindelwald teaching in there!"
Harry voice had risen as he'd listed these complaints, but before he stopped he pointed the quill end toward Dumbledore in an expression of seriousness. "And if you say ANYTHING to the effect of, 'I cannot just dismiss him' I am signing this scroll in that instant! I KNOW you can do better than that!"
Dumbledore sighed, leaned back, and folded his hands. "What would appease you, Harry?"
The boy stood tall. "Withdraw your protection from Severus Snape. Iwant dementors sucking out his soul for all he's done. Nothing less would satisfy me. He helped kill my parents and needlessly tortured me. He must pay, and you are the only person keeping him from doing that."
Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid I cannot offer that, Harry."
Nodding, the boy raised his inked quill to sign the transfer scroll without further comment, only to be interrupted.
"But perhaps I can offer a compromise by withdrawing him from his post at Hogwarts, and provide him employment elsewhere." Dumbledore ventured.
"That removes a negative. It fails to provide a positive," Harry spoke without raising his head from the parchment where his quill stood poised.
"If extra courses are what you seek, perhaps I can offer you a similar setup to Miss Granger?" Dumbledore reached into his desk and produced aTime Turner, a delicate hourglass on a thin chain. "This device would enable you to attend more classes than time would otherwise allow, by providing a means of turning back time. One turn equals one hour. I'm sure Miss Granger would be happy to fill you in on the details. Is that agreeable?"
Harry thought about it for a moment, before nodding, standing up to accept the Time Turner, tucking it, and the transfer scroll, into one of his pouches.
"Perhaps I can take care of canceling that scroll for you?" Dumbledore held out a hand hopefully.
"No." Harry shook his head. "It's good until next year, and I'd really rather keep my options open in case you decide you'd really rather not live up to your end of our deal, or in case you pull some other stunt that demands a change. So I'll just hold onto it."
Dumbledore's face, which had been hopeful, fell.
His expression collapsed further when Harry stood, and saying, "Oh, and I was the one to recover this, not you," took the sword of Gryffindor, and left the office.
I I I
I've got a confession to make. I saw some of those "Harry absorbs the part of Voldemort's soul that's been embedded in him" storylines, and was a bit shocked that someone else had the same idea, so thought I'd better hurry and get out mine.
The train of thought described in the last author's note did not start with what would happen if Harry was in a different compartment than Professor Lupin. No, it was, "What could shake Voldemort's soul fragment loose from whatever position it's in, so it can fight with, and ultimately lose to, Harry's?" The answer to that was a dementor, as they suck out souls by preference and he'd already had a close encounter with one. So next to be asked was, "What kind of delay could get that dementor that tried to kiss him on the train much closer? Enough to break the horcrux bonds?"And the answer to that was not being in the same compartment as Lupin!
But I can hardly let myself get away with large changes without adding extra details. So I threw Luna and Colin in to get that article in the paper the next day - a reporter and a photographer on site, so not only does Draco not have a fun story to tease Harry with, the entire wizarding world got upset at the frigging INSANE plan to protect Harry with something that tried to kill him!
Oh, and Luna is being a touch more serious because near death tends to make her so. She will go back to her Loony self shortly.
Of course, the real fun lies in the "Harry with a backbone" storyline.
Special thanks to Skysaber for letting me borrow one of his ideas: Language Lozenges, from his story "My Gilded Life." Sorry about not mentioning that in the last chapter.
Yes, I know Colin's brother wasn't a student until fourth year, but I needed him for that scene, and it doesn't seem important enough to change.