Occulemency, Mind Healers and Meddlesome old men!
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Harry Potter Universe and I make no money from writing about J. K. Rowling's characters. Pity, that...
/ Parseltongue /
Thoughts & Mindspeech
AN: Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed this story. Your thoughts and interest are very important to me. Thanks again!
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
/July 9th, #4 Privet Drive/
"Clear your mind," Harry breathed, the irony of his own words not lost on him in regards to this exercise. Practicing meditation as directed by his book on Occulemency, he relaxed and visualized his rudimentary shields before starting the process of building them up layer by layer.
Dobby watched his master focus more and more on the defences of his mind and kept his own senses open for the arrival of other wizards who might disturb the young man.
Drawn deep into a trance when he accessed his magical core and the room that represented it in his mind, Harry winced at how cluttered and down right messy his thinking was. No wonder I have trouble remembering things half the time. If this was a real room, I wouldn't be sure where to look first.
How to do this, he mused, and recalled from the book that the more uniquely personal the concept for his construct was, the more defensible his mind would be. Grinning wickedly, he began the laborious process of organizing his thoughts and memories into categories using a filing and labelling system comprehensible only to himself, Tom and perhaps a few other rare individuals in the world. Everything was labelled using parseltongue; nothing would retain an English designation, including the memories themselves if he had his way about it.
Seeing the sweat break out on his young master's brow, Dobby moved forward and conjured a cloth to dry the dampness away.
Alerted to his flagging energy levels by Dobby's gentle touch, Harry opened weary green eyes and smiled crookedly.
"That's hard work, Dobby. I had no idea how much effort went into serious Occulemency."
"Is you being okay, Master Harry?"
"Yeah, I'm just tired." The young wizard sighed and stretched until his back popped loudly in the quiet room. "I have a question, Dobby."
"Yes, Master Harry?"
"I'm only curious, okay, but this is something I've been wondering about. Why do you call me Master when you don't have to? I'd rather you just called me Harry."
"Dobby knew yous would be asking about that eventually," the little elf whispered, eyes sad and full of the anticipation of punishment. "Around other wizards who is not needing to be knowing, Dobby is not calling you Master because it would be giving up Master's secrets. Dobby is most settled calling yous Master, Harry Potter, sir. Is being...unsettling not to."
"Oh...well, then we'll leave well enough alone, I guess," Harry mused aloud. He hadn't realized it might make Dobby uncomfortable to call him by his first name alone. "I'm used to it and I wouldn't want you to be uncomfortable. Thank you for explaining." He smiled at the eccentric little elf.
"Oh, the Great Harry Potter is the kindest master!" The elf hugged Harry around the waist, and then bounced away. "Yous is hungry. Dobby will return."
Shaking his head over the elf's antics, Harry considered what to study now. He wanted to continue with the Goblin books, but hadn't confirmed if they were safe.
"No time like the present," he stated and penned a quick note to Griphook. Rereading it to make sure it covered everything, he folded it closed and addressed it to his account manager. Placing it in the mail pouch, he looked over at his desk and blanched when he saw Hedwig's empty cage.
I've barely paid her any mind over this last week...I owe her some serious time, he thought to himself and relaxed when he recalled that he had spent some time with her the last time she returned from a night of hunting. It wasn't like he had a lot of mail for her to deliver. One quick note to the Order every three days was barely enough of a task to be called exercise for the snowy owl.
"It'll get better soon," he whispered into the air. "It has to."
/July 9th, Gringotts/
Griphook pulled the latest letter from the Potter Heir out of his In Box and wondered what fresh bit of chaos it would unleash. He opened it with a true sense of anticipation.
The books you sent me are very interesting and informative. I have finished the first one and have a question regarding something I discovered on the cover.
The goblin licked his thin lips and read on. There were only a few things the young wizard could be referring to, and he hoped his thoughts on the matter were correct.
Below the author's name was a line of Latin that I didn't realize was a spell until I was compelled to finish reading it. Were you aware of this unexpected feature? If so, I would really appreciate knowing what it did to me and what I can expect before I read on through the rest of the books.
Intrigued but wary,
Harry James Potter
Griphook sagged in his seat for a long moment, and then began to grin his delight as he reread the short note and let the words sink in. He sent a quick note to Ragnok letting him know what had transpired along with a promise to update him as soon as he knew more and then replied to Harry's query.
Mr. Harry James Potter,
Please allow me to offer my sincerest apologies. I did not mention the spells because they can only be viewed by a blood descendent of the late Lord Evans and our information did not indicate a connection between yourself and the wizarding Evans line. Congratulations on locating a confirmed relation.
The spell on the first volume is to increase your reading speed to match that of your current retention level; as your ability to retain knowledge increases, so too will your reading speed. The second spell is designed to enhance your retention, the third to enhance comprehension, the fourth to enhance your ability to recall information and the fifth is designed to enhance your mental focus.
The sixth book is a bit more than the other five. If your are just a descendent of Lord Evans, that volume will have no special spells or information beyond the magic it can teach you. If you are the heir to Lord Evans' title, there should be a letter at the beginning of the book. As there as yet to be an accepted Heir, I do not know of its contents.
If, after reading through the series of books in their proper order, you do discover the letter, please notify me as soon as reasonably possible. I can then arrange for any additional will readings that may apply to your situation. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Potter Estate Account Manager,
Amazed yet again by everything that seemed to happen to the Chosen, he sent the letter off to Harry's mail pouch and settled in to eagerly wait for whatever his next revelation would bring.
If most wizards found the sight of a happily grinning Goblin to be a frightful sight, then the unmitigated glee on Chieftain Ragnok's face would have inspired nothing short of pure terror. He read Griphook's latest news again and chuckled wickedly.
"Finally, we have a descendent of Lord Evans. It has been far too long."
Putting the note aside for safe keeping, Ragnok picked up his quill and wrote a short reply to the young Potter Estate manager.
Oc Dager Griphook,
As is the norm of late, you are the bearer of interesting news. Keep up the good work. In regards to the Evans' issue, compile all information that we have readily available on the Potter and Evans inheritances. Be prepared to present this information to the Chosen when he arrives for his private will readings.
/July 9th, The Burrow/
Sitting outside, back to her favourite oak tree and her head on Hermione's shoulder, Ginny smiled tremulously. They were all gathered together again to talk about the events of the last four or five years and, in the bright light of day, it seemed so very surreal to think of what she - and they - had been through.
"Lucius Malfoy is the one who slipped Tom's diary into my school books, you know."
"Oh, no! How did he manage to do that with every one around?" Hermione asked; she hugged Ginny reassuringly, her eyes widening as she considered the possibilities.
"He slipped it inside one of my books, transfiguration I think. I didn't even notice it until we got home, and I'd always wanted to keep a journal...so I kept it and started to write in it at school..."
"He dropped it in your stuff around the time that he picked that fight with Dad, I bet," Ron commented. "I can still see the look on that big prat's face in my head, that moment right around the time Dad punched the bloody Death Eater right on the nose...I was so proud of him for that."
Ginny nodded silent agreement and continued on with her retelling - if she could just get it out, maybe it wouldn't feel so heavy and dark inside of her.
"My first year started off hard, anyway. I was the youngest and I felt so alone. The crush I had on Harry didn't help matters any, especially since he was too clueless to even notice me at the time." She sighed expressively. "So, I started to talk to Tom more and more and he was so understanding and sweet to me." Ginny blushed lightly.
"He listened to everything I had to say, no matter how silly, and I had never had someone do that for me before...I poured more and more of myself into writing to him, and then things started to happen..."
"The roosters, the petrified students, the messages on the walls," Hermione whispered. "You must have been scared half to death; having him inside your mind like that...did you know...were you aware of what was happening when he was making you do things?"
"Sometimes I could see everything, sometimes I thought I was sleep walking. I'd get ready for bed and pick up the diary to write, then I'd wake up and be outside behind Hagrid's hut with blood on my hands or down in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom," Ginny murmured. "Towards the end, I saw more and more and I tried to tell someone but He wouldn't let me. By the time Harry woke me in the Chamber, I...I almost didn't care anymore. Tom made me do such awful things..."
Her body shook as the tears made their way out and carried her pain, her fear and her frustration out with them. Sucking in great gulps of air, a wounded sound accompanied every wracking sob until she was simply too exhausted to cry any more. Slowly becoming aware of the hands rubbing soothing circles on her back and of the sniffling of the others around her, she opened her eyes and tried to smile for them.
"We're here for you, Ginny," Neville assured the distraught girl, his face tracked with tears of his own. "You're not alone, no matter how much you may feel that way some times. We stick together."
"Thanks, Nev...all of you..." Ginny sat back up and scrubbed at her face before returning to her original position with her head on Hermione's shoulder. "So, what were you guys supposed to not talk about?"
"The troll in the girl's bathroom, the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, Norbert, Buckbeak," Ron rattled off with a wry grin. "We've gotten into and out of so much trouble and we've done so many things together, it's no wonder we're such good friends."
"Hermione hit me with Petrificus totalus to keep me from trying to stop them from going after the Stone," Neville related with a light blush. "I think that was the first brave thing I ever did...um, anyway, the other thing was Harry's Patronus. I don't know why that would be something to keep quiet about, but there you go."
"That sure was some Patronus, though," Ron agreed with a gleeful grin and thought back to the Quidditch match where Harry used it against Malfoy and his goons when they were dressed as Dementors. "It was brilliant! I think Malfoy pissed himself when he saw that bloody big Stag come charging down at him."
"You have no idea," Hermione muttered, then flushed when all eyes focused on her with intense curiosity. "Um, Ron was in the Hospital Wing for that part of our adventures in third year. Harry and I used a time turner to go back in time a few hours and rescue Buckbeak and Sirius. I was there watching when Harry sent his Patronus across the lake to save the earlier us. I've never...there were so many Dementors I couldn't count them all and he drove them all away..." She shivered at the memory of cold numbness and a weakness she hoped to never feel again. "It was terrible and beautiful all at the same time."
Neville squeaked, eye wide as he goggled at Hermione. He barely registered the hand that was now rubbing his back.
Luna smiled dreamily and kept up her soothing action.
"A corporeal patronus requires a truly joyful memory, one full of Light. Imagine what he must have been thinking of at the time."
"I'll have to ask him sometime," Hermione stated once she'd recovered her wavering composure. "It seems like most of us were made to keep quiet about the same things. That just bugs me even more. I mean, most of what we were made to keep quiet about doesn't seem to be that terribly important. Some of it was, of course, but..."
"Well, strategically, it makes the most sense of anything we've encountered so far," Ron muttered, brown eyes focused internally while he thought it out. "We, as a group, knew the largest portion of the facts about quite a few very sensitive events, so if whoever didn't want the stories to get out was to shut us up, the stories would die. Rumours starve to death without fodder. I don't get why they didn't just Obliviate us, though. Then this couldn't happen."
"Maybe there was a future use for the memories," Luna offered. "Or the memories were too intricate to Obliviate. There is a limit to what that spell is capable of doing, at least it seems so from what I have seen in Hermione's notes."
Hermione just nodded her agreement on that point and frowned as something else that had been said rose up again now that she'd had time to process the conversation so far.
"There is that," she agreed. "Whoever did this to us would have been hurt in some way if the public gained knowledge of the events that have been going on at Hogwarts and the danger that the students have been in on a regular basis." Hermione focused on Ginny and tilted her head to one side, her expression full of curiosity and more than a little concern.
"Ginny? Did something happen between you and Harry? You stopped acting so cute and funny around Harry after your first year and with everything that happened, I would've expected your crush to get worse. He should have been even more important to you, what with him being your 'Knight in Shining Armour' and all."
"I know you can calm him down when none of us can get through to him, and you definitely seem to understand him better than just about anyone else does," Luna mused quietly. "Do you still have a crush on him?"
"Hey, now! That’s personal." Ron protested and squeezed Ginny's foot gently to let her know he was there to support her.
"It's okay, Ron. We're all friends." Ginny smiled a little more strongly, then remembered the question and shivered a little. "Of course I understand him better than the rest of you. We've both shared Tom's thoughts, we've both been touched by Him, but no, Merlin no, I definitely do not have a crush on Harry any more."
"Do you mind if I ask why?" Hugging the younger girl, Hermione ventured her question cautiously.
"Tom," Ginny whispered and tears slipped down her face again, but this time she didn't break down completely. Drawing in a ragged breath, she rubbed her cheek against the older Witch's shoulder and answered quietly.
"The resemblance between them is...it's frightening. Tom was taller at sixteen than Harry was the last time I saw him, but otherwise, they could have been mistaken for brothers, they look that similar." She licked her lips delicately. "When I look into Harry's eyes, Tom is right there looking back at me. I don't want to see it, but even when I couldn't seem to remember what had happened, something held me back from him. It's something real, a distance that I can always feel between us."
"Do you think Harry is like Vol...Vold...You Know Who?" Neville stammered out. "Harry wouldn't hurt people like that."
"Yeah, no way would he lose it like that," Ron stated firmly.
Ginny giggled madly for several long moments, brown eyes full of amusement, fear and regret.
"Someone will take the Dark Lord's place eventually. That's how it works, guys. Pay more attention in History of Magic and you'll see what I mean. Light and Dark are always opposing each other..." She started to giggle again and then lapsed back into tears as Hermione rocked her and crooned gently. Her reactions were earning her some very concerned looks, and she was oblivious to it all.
"Voldemort's bond left its mark on your mind, just like he did with Harry." Luna scooted closer to add her soothing touch to Hermione's. "You see the darkness more clearly than we do, Ginny. It is okay to see It. It spent almost a year looking into you, so you're bound to look back after a while. Just remember that you're not the only one who has lived through these things. The ones who love you are out here with you now, in the Light."
"It's so beautiful, y'know?" Ginny relaxed bit by bit. "It's not so harsh and full of sharp edges the way the light is."
"Stay with us. We don't want to lose you, Gin-Gin." Ron captured his sister's hand and squeezed to get her to look at him. "We don't want you to get lost in it. You're the only sister I have..."
"You're so sweet, Ronniekins. Don't worry. I'm not going to float away." Ginny sighed again and sat up, hands scrubbing at her face.
"Gin...please don't take this the wrong way," Ron began, and hugged Ginny tightly before drawing back to meet her gaze. He wasn't sure where the words were coming from, but it felt like something that needed to be said, so he opened his mouth and let it tumble out. "But...I doubt that Bellatrix Lestrange started out her first couple years at Hogwarts planning to be the most feared witch alive. I love you way too much to lose you like that, Sis."
Shocked that Ron of all people would say something like that to her, Ginny just stared at her brother with her mouth open and tears welling in her eyes. His words stung sharply and served to focus her attention on what was happening inside of her own mind more than any of the sympathy had managed to do so far. She nodded jerkily and burrowed into the safety of his embrace.
"I love you too, Ron. No matter what, please don't let me be like her..."
/July 9th, #4 Privet Drive/
Opening up his school trunk and pulling the new one out, Harry muttered 'Engorgio' under his breath. He'd figured out quite by accident that the trunk was magically triggered to shrink and enlarge on its own with the use of programmed words, a fact that he could appreciate a lot more now that he spent so much time wandless.
Descending into his library once he'd opened it, Harry pulled the second Goblin book off the shelf and grabbed an old spell book to take up along with it. That way he could swap back and forth between the two without the risk of exposing his new trunk during an unneeded trip to the Library.
Spying the crate he'd been forced to abandon the last time Mad-Eye had come on duty, Harry set his books on the stairs and crossed the small room to investigate anything that might remain in the crate. If he was thinking correctly, there had been a few items still left in the bottom.
Looking in, he arched an eyebrow inquisitively, and then cursed Mundungus Fletcher in whatever languages he could think of at the time.
"Bloody thief!" he growled and eyed the glass bottle that appeared to be stoppered with a carved opal. He recognized that particular item from Grimmauld Place and, though he was curious about the red liquid it contained, he wasn't curious enough to open it. "I knew you were stealing from Sirius!"
Moving the glass bottle to the bookshelf that contained the darkest of his books, Harry then reached in and drew out a locket that hung from a simple but solid chain. He caught his breath when he really looked at it. It was one of the things he'd seen when he was helping with the cleaning at Grimmauld Place and he hadn't recognized it at the time, but after seeing Slytherin's journals, he knew exactly what it was that he held.
"Slytherin's locket," he whispered reverently. That joined the bottle on its shelf and he returned to inspect the last remaining pair of items. "Knives?" he wondered aloud and cautiously touched one of the sheaths. When nothing happened, he picked them up and admired the beautiful but functional looking set of blades. Placing them on the shelf below the locket, he smiled to himself. Maybe I'll find someone who can teach me to use them.
A slight pulse of magic drew Harry's attention away from his contemplation of the knives that lay on the shelf before him. Retrieving the books he'd chosen, he climbed out of the trunk and closed everything back up. Laying the books on his bed, he checked to see if the magic had come from the mail pouch. He vaguely recalled feeling a similar pulse when he placed a letter inside, so his curiosity was peaked. Opening the pouch, he found the reply from Griphook.
"That was fast." Reading through the letter, he began to grin, his eyes brightening with excitement. "Enhancements like that I can definitely deal with. Brilliant!" He shook his head over the congratulatory comment from Griphook. All it did was add to the hundreds of questions he already had, though he did have to admit that part of his excitement came from discovering part of his history.
Settling on his bed, he dropped the other spell book on the bed beside him and dragged the second Goblin book into his lap.
/July 10th, St. Mungo's, Office of Master Mind Healer Octavius Monroe/
"Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I hope yesterday wasn't too rough on you emotionally," Healer Monroe commented as the Ministry crew filtered in and took their seats. "Breaking the kind of emotional blocks that we encountered can be very stressful in the days and weeks immediately following the treatment."
"We all talked quite a lot, yesterday," Hermione replied. "It was hard to deal with some of what we remembered, but it felt good all the same. The biggest thing, the most painful, is the sense of betrayal. Someone we trusted did this to us..." She sniffled a little, eyes made shiny by unshed tears.
"We cried a lot yesterday, or at least I did, anyway. I expected to though. They cried with me for part of it, but most of the time I think they were crying for me." Ginny frowned and shook her head. "The strangest thing was the last two nights. I didn't have any bad dreams about dark places and being cold...about dying. Now that I have the memories back the way they're supposed to be, I don't feel afraid the same way I did just a few days ago. It used to be all I could do to go into the dungeons without jumping at shadows. Does that make any sense at all?" Tears welled up and she swiped at them reflexively. "I'm tired of crying about this!"
"You have a full years worth of frustration and fear to vent out and the coping process itself is several years overdue, so yes, it makes perfect sense," Octavius murmured soothingly. "The urge, the /need/, to cry will lessen with time and support, a thing you all have an abundance of. Your friendship has survived these traumas. Now, it will help you heal from them."
"Thank Merlin for that," Ginny whispered. "How do you normally help people through events like this?"
"I use a modified form of Occulemency that allows me to share the memory with you much like it would be if we used a Pensive, except that I can also see it through your experience. That way I can better help you deal with what has happened and move on without denying the existence of the trauma."
"That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, right, Doc?" Hermione grinned a little. "That sounds like an interesting way to approach therapy. It must cut down on recovery time."
"Amazingly so," Octavius agreed. "We can also quickly eliminate spell related problems and back lash symptoms. The benefits are too numerous to name."
"Well, let's get started then," Luna declared. "Who's first?"
Ginny laughed genuinely at her friend's antics.
"You, since you're in such a hurry."
Luna just grinned back at Ginny and shrugged.
"That's fine with me. What do I need to do, Healer Monroe?"
"Just relax. We're going to focus on the events that led you to the Ministry and on through the fight there in the Department of Mysteries..."
Luna gasped softly when Healer Monroe appeared beside her in her memory of the group's arrival to the atrium at the Ministry.
"Just so you know this isn't where everything began, Healer Monroe. It began at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, the details of what truly led us here are known only to Harry. All I know is he was led to believe his Godfather was being held prisoner in the Hall of Prophecy by Voldemort."
Octavius nodded his understanding. He had been fairly certain that there had to be critical events leading up to what had happened at the Ministry, but Ron had been incredibly reticent about discussing it, and he hadn't yet developed enough of a rapport with the young man to feel comfortable about pushing the issue.
"Thank you, Miss Lovegood. I appreciate the information. Do you wish to go further back and review those memories as well?"
"No, I don't need to. I enjoyed riding the Thestral and I wasn't the one who had a rough time of it at Hogwarts. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny might need to discuss it more than I." Luna smiled. "Shall we? The Department of Mysteries was really quite fascinating."
Healer Monroe backed out of the young woman's mind once he'd seen her point of view on the events that had led to their group being in his office. She was remarkably unfazed by the combat and everything else that had gone on around her, a fact that made him shake his head in quiet amazement.
"Well, Miss Lovegood, how are you feeling?"
"I feel great, Healer Monroe. It was really quite nice to be able to show someone what happened. Talking about it is okay, but it lacks the complete expression of actually sharing a memory. Thank you."
"You're quite welcome, my dear." Octavius smiled and looked to the other four. "Anyone else up to taking a look through now? Once I finish with whoever is next, we'll break for lunch, my treat. When we get back, we can work with the rest of you. How does that sound?"
Mind reeling from everything he had learned that day, Octavius watched five young people leave his office with a great deal more youthful exuberance to their steps than they had come in with. He shook his head. This session had only touched on the events specifically related to the fight at the Department of Mysteries and he was left feeling slightly in awe of the cohesive teamwork and loyalty that bound these young men and women together. He, personally, was exhausted and emotionally wrung out from walking them through their various personal battles.
Its kind of a pity that none of them got to see Potter duelling Lestrange, he mused. Ah well, perhaps it's just as well that they didn't. They were in enough danger without being exposed to her. I have enough work to do getting them back on a level keel as it is.
Gathering his things, he made his way to the fireplace and flooed to the Ministry. He had several files to update thanks to today's fruitful session.
/July 10th, Unplottable Location/
Voldemort studied his followers as they arrived one by one and considered which ones to elevate to leadership positions for the attacks he had planned. So far, at least these existing elite had managed to not fall to a handful of school children. He smirked maliciously. The very thought of how twelve of his Inner Circle had fallen to his little serpent and followers inspired in him a deep need to prove his rival incapable of standing against him.
"My loyal followersss," he murmured sibilantly. "In the next few weeks we will be preparing for our assault on Azkaban prison. It is time to bring your brothers back to the fold. I'm sure they have learned their lesson for failing me by now." His gaze moved from one Death Eater to the next as he measured their ability and decided their fate. "Prepare yourselves. Hone your skills. There will be Aurors to dispatch and I will be calling the last of the Dementors into my service."
Aware of his need to swell his ranks and of the rather vexing fact that doing so would require the use of his Inner Circle to train and prepare the newest recruits, Tom mused on what to offer the wraiths when he stepped forward to call the full force of the Dementor ranks to his Battle Standard.
"Once the Auror threat has been eliminated, I will call the Dementors and have the entirety of the prison released and brought to stand before me. Those too weak to be of use and those who refuse to join me will be food for the Dementors and the worms. All others will be marked and trained for the coming raids and battles."
Studying each Death Eater again, his red eyes noted which ones continued to stand still, silent and resolute under his penetrating stare and which ones gave away their weakness by squirming and shifting where they stood.
"Step up your recruiting of like minded wizards and witches and remember to capture any muggle borns you can during raids. They will be most useful during the initiations and the revel that will follow our triumphant return from Azkaban! Now leave me! I have much to plan. Bellatrix, Wormtail. Remain."
The room emptied far more rapidly than it had filled and he snorted quietly over such a blatant sign of their fear. He watched Bellatrix and Wormtail; their reverent bows make him smile a little, though it still looked like a smirk on his thin lipped mouth.
Ever eager to serve her master, and even more eager to make up for her loss of face at the Ministry, Bellatrix raised her face to gaze at Voldemort with madly glittering eyes.
"How may I serve you, My Lord?"
"I want to know every rumour and scrap of information you two can find out about the number of Aurors in place at Azkaban, their shift change schedule, and any other defences that may have been put in place. Find out if there will be any prisoner transfers before the end of the month. This attack will happen in two weeks or less barring any significant transfers that may make it prudent to hold our strike. Report back to me in one week unless you find significant information. I need not remind you of the penalties for failure."
"It will be as you command, My Lord," Bellatrix declared and bowed again before Apparating away.
"Y-yes, my Lord," Wormtail stuttered out, his eyes nearly as mad as Bellatrix's. He apparated away with a 'crack', leaving Voldemort to contemplate his next moves in solitude.
Retiring to his private study, Voldemort settled in his chair and propped his booted feet up on the desk as was his habit of late. He knew that the offering of any too infirm to join his ranks and of those who refused him would serve as a valid token to the Dementors, but it would in no way be enough to sway them to his side. To pull them away from their easy feeding grounds he would have to offer something far more valuable than what they already had.
So I promise them something that will cause me no pain and will instead sow fear and chaos amongst the rest of those weak minded fools who oppose me, he mused. The promise of free feeding rights on any witch, wizard or muggle they can catch except those that I have marked as my own should present them with the needed incentive to abandon the stale offerings of Azkaban. Those few that are mine and Harry Potter will be left untouched. My little serpent is just that - he is mine to deal with as I see fit.
He chuckled to himself, the sound chilling in its malicious tone. When I am done, Azkaban will stand empty and wizarding Britain will tremble in fear at the very thought of what I will do next.
/July 11th, #4 Privet Drive/
Awakening with the sun as he seemed to be inclined to do lately, Harry decided to change up his reading for a few hours. He was intrigued by what might lay waiting in Salazar's journals and settled in to read once he had retrieved the first one.
Fascinated by the insights into the personality of Salazar and the snapshots of his interactions with the three other founders of Hogwarts, Harry shook his head in quiet amazement.
How could anyone think this man was evil? He wondered. It's obvious that he was more than willing to learn what ever magic came his way, but he sounds like a very careful and cautious person. Godric sounds more like the type to go out and get into trouble. Harry laughed when he considered the House he had been placed in. The Hat would have placed him in Salazar's house, but his own rash tendencies had blinded to anything except his prejudices against Slytherin. It really would have been nice to know Salazar...any of them, really. He seemed to truly admire Helga and Rowena and the way he interacted with Godric sounds a lot like me and Ron...
He encountered his first section of spells after about an hour of reading. Eyes wide, he read and re-read the notes for the spells that Slytherin had been crafting on his own. Some of the spells were very advanced healing magic, but Harry could already think of several uses for them in combat. Then he reached Salazar's notes on the subject and blanched. Apparently my thoughts weren't very original after all...at least I know I can use the healing spells for harm. Just forget to limit the affects...ouch.
The young wizard shuddered and closed the journal after placing a scrap of parchment inside to mark his place. He'd had enough of that for now. Laying the large book beside him, he stretched and glanced at the clock.
"Nine? There's no way I was reading for three hours!" His surprised revere was broken by the unwelcome sound of his uncle bellowing his name. He groaned, then got up and trotted down the stairs and into the kitchen. "What do you want, Vernon?"
"Boy! It's about time you showed your face around here! Get this kitchen clean, then I have a list of chores waiting for you and I expect them to all be done today if you plan on eating," Vernon declared pompously, his chest puffed up in what he thought was an imposing manner.
"I see it didn't take you very long to forget my friend's warning." Harry glared at Vernon and didn't back down when the large man's face started to go purple. "I won't be doing any of the chores you assign, Vernon. I will tend the flower beds and the yard because I enjoy doing so and I need to get outside a little bit every day. Get Dudley to do the rest of the work. It might actually do him some good."
"You ungrateful little freak!" Vernon raised one beefy fist and made as if to move towards Harry.
"Now, Vernon," Harry murmured, wand out and pointed unwaveringly at his Uncle's chest. "Have you forgotten what they told you about my presence here being for your safety as much as it is for mine? How about the part where if I leave, the big bad Dark Lord will come after you to get at me? The wards will fall if I don't consider this place of yours home and then He will come for you." He smiled coldly. "Here's the best one yet, though. Do you remember the part where they warned you that it's dangerous to push me?"
"You can't do magic over the summer. They'll expel you from that freak school of yours, and then where will you be? You'll be no where with nothing just like your lazy slut of a mother and that lay about, good for nothing freak she called a husband!" Vernon declared his opinion in a tone of malicious triumph. "So put your silly stick away and do as you're told, Boy!"
"Do not call me Boy and don't you ever speak about my parents again, you worthless excuse for a muggle," Harry growled, eyes bright with anger and power. He was so dangerously angry he shook with it and the urge, the desire to do harm was so thick in his chest he swore he would choke on it if he didn't do something, anything...The dishes in the sink shattered, making Petunia scream through her raised hands and startling Vernon into yelling out in fear. Startled by the noise as much as the sudden burst of accidental magic, Harry's thoughts cleared enough for him to repair the dishes and cast the spell that would make the dishes clean and put themselves away.
"There," he sneered. "The kitchen is clean and there will be no owls telling me I've been expelled. Do you understand me, Vernon?"
Watching with open horror as the dishes washed, dried and put them selves away, Petunia sagged in her seat, face pale.
"No...they said you weren't allowed..." Her voice quavered even more when she met Harry's fierce gaze.
"They were wrong. Have a good day, 'family'."
Harry stormed out of the kitchen and into the back yard, his magic still lashing around inside of him as if trying to force its way out. Standing in the middle of the expanse of perfect green grass, he forced himself to breathe in and out like he did when he was trying to work on his Occulemency.
Latching onto that concept, he focused even further and felt his magic finally begin to settle down. Shaking himself forcefully to rid himself of the tingling sensation of violence that still lay over his skin like a fine sheen of sweat, he went into the shed and retrieved the tools and water hose he would need to work in the front yard.
Tonks watched Harry stalk into the front yard with an armload of tools and hose. Curious what he was going to do with everything, she cautiously moved closer so she could observe without giving herself away.
Satisfied with the placement of the hose he had just finished attaching to the water spigot, Harry stripped off his shirt and dropped down beside the first flower bed. Pulling weeds and loosening soil around the various flowers and shrubs, he gave himself up to the rhythm of his movements. Continuing to work on his Occulemency while he worked, he soon felt a pleasant calm that brought a smile to his face. Maybe this is how it's supposed to feel when you work on it all of the time like they told me I needed to do. I just wish they'd told me how to do this and why it was so bloody important.
His calm faded during his contemplation of his supposed Occulemency lessons, so he forcefully redirected his attention outside of himself to get his mind off of it. He liked feeling calm and relatively happy and he wasn't going to let anything ruin what he was feeling right now. A soft humming reached his ears and he paused in what he was doing, his ears straining until he recognized the gentle sound as a female voice. Returning to his weeding, he began tossing weeds and dirt filled root clumps in the direction of the sound. He heard a slight impact first, and then a soft, feminine sounding voice cursed.
"Sorry about that. Didn't see you there," he quipped teasingly and continued to weed the bed and toss the refuse at his minder. More whispered curses followed until he was grinning and on the verge of full out laughter. "Why don't you just give in and talk to me? If you do, I'll stop pitching weeds and dirt at you."
Tonks groaned to herself and laughed a little. She had to admit to being curious how he had known she was there. Giving in, she greeted him properly.
"Wotcher, Harry. Can you stop bombarding me now? I promise I'll stick around and talk for a little while."
"Hi, Tonks. How long are you on duty?"
"Just a little while longer, then I have to go to work. At least it looks like they've been feeding you this summer. Are the muggles treating you better than they usually do?" Tonks took the opportunity to observe the young man when he rose and moved to another flower bed. Surprised at how much muscle he carried on his light frame for someone who had always appeared to be pathetically skinny, she blurted out a comment before she could stop it. Blushing heatedly, hands over her mouth, she had never been more grateful for an invisibility cloak than she was at that very moment.
"Bloody hell, Harry, you look great! What'd you do to get a body like that?"
Startled into a blush of his own, Harry looked down at himself, then over where he'd last heard Tonks squeak in mortified embarrassment. The compliment impacted then and he grinned crookedly.
"Quidditch," he replied matter of factly. "That helps a lot and doing yard work like this all summer doesn't hurt any thing. Why? You sound like you saw something you liked, Tonks." He couldn't stop the grin. People talked to each other like this all of the time in the common room and, all of a sudden, he understood the banter for the teasing and flirting that it was.
"Oh, hush, you," Tonks grumbled, but her tone didn't carry much bite. He did look good and she had seen something she liked, so maybe she could turn the tables on him. She certainly hadn't expected him to flirt with /her/.
"What's not to like? I have a front row seat to the most eligible hottie in the wizarding world and he's showing off his half naked body for me." He blushed bright red and she pumped a mental fist in the air.
"Uh, sure, Tonks. You're just saying that to tease me. I'm just a skinny teenager." Harry shook his head at the clumsy Auror and considered whether he could trust her with what he needed to ask. He had too many questions to go on just asking the Goblins. They didn't know everything that people like Tonks or Remus might know about his parents and his situation. He decided it was at least worth a try.
"Can I ask you something serious, Tonks? Serious as in never tell anyone we talked about it?"
"What's wrong, Harry? Is it the muggles?" Tonks went on alert instantly. His mood shift had been so sudden that she almost hadn't been able to follow it on his face.
"Swear that what I ask you won't go any further than you and I."
"You're deadly serious..." Tonks took a deep breath and let it out while she considered what to do. If she said yes, and gave her oath, it would be binding. If she said no, he'd probably never trust her again. "Look, do me one favour and let me ask you something before I give you my oath, okay?"
"That depends on what it is, but you can go ahead and ask."
Tonks opened her invisibility cloak just enough so that Harry could see her face.
"Is keeping this from everyone going to get me in trouble with work or the Order?"
Meeting the Metamorphmagus' currently lavender gaze, Harry studied her intently before answering her inquiry.
"It won't get you in trouble at work. As a matter of fact, you may be glad you know if things go badly. On the other hand, it might get you in trouble with a few people in the Order if they found out we talked about these things, but they'd have to find out first."
Letting out a breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, Tonks nodded and licked her lips.
"Alright then, Harry. I, Nymphadora Tonks, do swear on my magic that I will share nothing of what is spoken between myself and Harry James Potter with anyone living or dead until he gives me permission to do so." A soft flare of magic surrounded the pair and then faded from view after a moment.
"Thank you," Harry whispered. "I'm sorry I had to ask you to do that, but..."
"I'm okay with it, Harry. Now, what's bothering you so badly that you can't go to Dumbledore about it?" Tonks fell back on her butt in shock when the younger wizard's eyes flared with power and anger after the mention of Dumbledore's name. "What did he do to you for you to be that angry...?"
"He has lied to me since I can remember and he kept me from knowing anything about my family. He has let me get into more dangerous situations than anyone my age should have ever seen and he has done nothing to prepare me for what I have to do," Harry growled out. "The Dursleys starved me and kept me locked in the cupboard under the stairs for the first eleven years of my life. Did you know that? Dumbledore did. My Hogwarts letter was addressed to me in my bloody cupboard."
Horrified, Tonks sat there and stared at the angry young man for several minutes before her brain kicked back into gear and began making sense of what he had said.
"But, how could he let that happen? He..."
"He did the same and worse to Sirius, y'know. Sirius was innocent and Dumbledore never fought for him to have a trial. Sirius told me a lot of things like the fact that Dumbledore knew that Peter Pettigrew was my parent's secret keeper and he still let Sirius spend thirteen years in Azkaban for something he didn't do." Harry barked out a harsh laugh. "Then he locked him up again once he escaped, shut him up in Grimmauld Place where he'd be 'safe'. I'm beginning to wonder about a lot of things, Tonks. Maybe you can see why?"
The Auror nodded her head in agreement. She could easily see why the saviour of the wizarding world was losing faith in the man everyone considered the greatest wizard alive. Her protective instincts kicked in and she shook herself out of her numb daze.
"I'll see what I can find out without raising too many flags and eyebrows, okay? I loved Sirius like a brother. He was my best friend when I was younger, before...before they sent him away. I'll do what I can for you, Harry."
"That's all I can ask, Tonks. Sirius was family to me, too, so it's a very personal thing that his name be cleared. If you need to contact me, don't send an owl or try to do it too often here. I don't know if anyone else comes on duty between shifts. I'll find a way for you to get information to me, and I'll see what I can do about communicating with you without drawing too much attention."
"Will you tell me more of what's bothering you? I know this isn't all of it."
"Eventually, yes, I'll tell you what I can. I just had to know that there was someone else I could trust...there's only so much us kids can do."
"I don't know about that, Harry. You 'kids' sure rocked everyone's world not too long ago. I think you guys can do a heck of a lot more than any of you think. Don't let that whole age thing get to you. I'm only twenty two, y'know, and that's not a whole heck of a lot older than you are now."
"I'll keep that in mind, Tonks. You just keep in mind that Dumbledore uses Legilimency all of the time, so stay on your toes around him. You do use Occulemency, right?"
"I knew he was a Legilimens, and don't worry, part of our Auror training is to master Occulemency and Legilimency. I'll keep my shields up tight whenever I'm around him or any of the other Order members. Hey, how do you know about Occulemency?"
"Thanks, Tonks. I've been working on it for a while now." Harry smiled his usual crooked smile. "Well, I guess I better get back to work on the flower beds before somebody wonders what I'm up to. Wander off a bit or I might accidentally get you with the water hose."
"I was meaning to ask how you knew I was here to begin with, mister."
"I heard you humming."
"No way! I wasn't being that loud!" Tonks looked offended that he had caught her on something so small.
"I heard you...it was really low, but I could tell it was close, so I threw something at the sound and there you were."
"You're a sneaky little scamp! Alright, let me get out of range before you start in with your bleeding water hose so the neighbours don't see the water doing something really strange in the middle of the yard." Tonks moved away, laughing the whole time about how it might look if someone did see the water running off of nothing like a fountain made of air.
Returning to his self-appointed tasks, Harry whistled quietly to himself. That had gone well, given that he hadn't planned to say anything to anyone that belonged to the Order. Soon enough, he'd find out if her oath was enough to keep their discussion under wraps.
/July 12th, #4 Privet Drive/
Apparating into a secluded place a few blocks from #4 Privet Drive, Moody walked the short distance, both eyes taking in everything there was to see. His invisibility cloak kept the muggles from seeing him, but there were ways to see through one and he couldn't afford to be followed. Arriving at the property, he spoke a quiet greeting to Kingsley once he spotted the younger Auror under his own invisibility cloak.
"Anything to report?" he asked in his usual gruff manner.
"No, not a bloody thing, which is good for us," Kingsley replied. "Potter was outside working in the back yard for an hour or so after I got here and I had to stay further away from him than I prefer to when he's outside, but I suppose it wasn't that big of a deal."
"Why'd you have to keep your distance?"
"He kept throwing weeds and dirt clods all over the place and I didn't want to give myself away by getting hit. The water hose was the worst to avoid, though. Damn kid went after the yard like he had gone crazy for a while."
"Yeah, that's what Tonks told me he did yesterday, too. She thought it was pretty funny, though. Well, you've had a long night. Go on home, Kingsley. I've got the helm."
"Thanks, Moody." A soft 'crack' of sound, and the senior auror was gone.
Moody shook his head and turned to take a close look at the house. He didn't know why Kingsley still had a chip on his shoulder when it came to Harry Potter, but he'd be willing to bet it had to do with Kingsley losing him a week or so back. Growling under his breath, he made mental note to have a talk with the senior Auror about it if it continued to affect his work in regards to the younger wizard.
According to what Kingsley and Albus had told him, the boy should be wandless, a fact that he thought was completely stupid and outright dangerous. Those two must be touched in the head to leave any wizard wandless in times like these. If the Death Eaters did attack, there’d be no way one of us could hold them off until help arrived. With Potter unarmed, the odds aren't about to improve. I may have to see about accidentally slipping him a spare.
Dobby sensed the arrival of another wizard and checked to see who it was. He quickly shook Harry awake, his large eyes wide with urgency.
"Master Harry, Dobby must be leaving...peg-legged wizard is here to be guarding you! Dobby is coming back later when hims is gone." He gave his half awake master just a moment to acknowledge his words, and then he was gone.
"Dammit, I had things I was going to do this morning," Harry grumbled under his breath and looked at the clock, which read nine o' clock. "Guess I'll get up now." He wasn't looking forward to going downstairs for something to eat, but there would be nothing else until Dobby was able to return, so he would at least need to grab a snack. Lately, it seemed like he was eating three times what he used to. It must be something to do with this whole wizard maturity thing, he mused. I'll send 'Mione and the crew a letter and ask about it later. Rolling out of bed, he pulled some clothes out of his trunk and made his way to the loo.
Seeing no sign of a wand on the young wizard, Moody turned his attention to the rest of the household and observed their actions and reactions. He found it odd that the woman flinched when Harry's door opened and closed, but wrote it off as her being a jumpy old broad when nothing occurred to justify her reactions.
The Potter boy came downstairs and he really began to wonder what had been going on in the house. Petunia shrank back from him like he was going to hit her even though the young man did nothing but go to the ice box and pull out some fruit and the fixings for a sandwich. The younger Dursley was even worse - he fled the house as soon as Harry showed his face, hands covering his wide bum protectively as he scuttled out the door like a frightened cow.
Harry hadn't even looked at the two muggles as far as he could tell, so why were they so spooked? As far as he could tell, Harry was oblivious to his effect on his relatives, so Moody decided to have a little talk with Vernon Dursley. Something just wasn't right with those muggles.
Carrying his sandwich and apples upstairs to his room, Harry contemplated what he was going to do during Moody's shift. Then he remembered the nice wand shaped stick he'd brought in from the yard yesterday and grinned. He might not be able to cast the spells right now, but he could at least perfect the words and wand movements. Satisfied with his plan, he put the apples on his desk and settled in his chair to eat the sandwich before beginning the day's study plan.
Moody's attention was drawn back to Harry's room when he caught a low level flash of magic out of the corner of his magical eye's range of vision. Focusing on it immediately, he frowned and then started chuckling under his breath. If the look on the boy's face was any indicator, he hadn't expected anything to happen when he tried to cast that spell. Watching more intently, he realized Harry was using a prop because the magic wasn't coming from the wand - it was coming from the young wizard's hand.
Well, bugger me! He's figured out how to teach himself wandless magic! Grinning wickedly, he nodded his approval. You just keep at it, boy. That'll save your life one day...maybe sooner than you think.
Starting with his first year Charms text, Harry picked up his 'wand' and moved it in the appropriate swish and flick motion while saying 'Wingardium Leviosa' under his breath. Nothing happened, but he felt his magic surge down his arm and disperse harmlessly from his hand before it could do anything focused. Curious if he could actually get it to work, he focused on one of his apples and repeated the spell with a great deal more concentration. The apple rose a few inches and thumped back down onto the desk when his surprise broke the spell.
Stunned, Harry stared at the apple and then began to grin like an idiot. Yes! I'll show them I don't need a wand! Working himself relentlessly for hours, Harry was oblivious to the sweat running down his face and his exhaustion until he tried to cast a simple charm and his vision greyed out. Swaying on his feet, muscles shaking, he looked at the clock through bleary eyes and froze in yet another moment of shock that day. He'd been working on wandless magic for over five hours. Sleep, gotta get some rest...Dobby'll wake me...
Watching to make sure the boy got to his bed without hurting himself, Moody smiled a little and made mental note to not underestimate Potter like so many of the other adults seemed to do. If a fifteen year old boy could show the initiative and drive to work five hours straight on wandless magic before he had to stop or pass out, then he deserved more than a little respect in Moody's book. Merlin's balls, I can't do that much wandless magic and I know what I'm doing, he mused and kept watch over the house and the sleeping wizard it sheltered.
Dobby returned to the house after checking to see if Moody was still around for the tenth time that day. Popping into his master's room, he cocked his head to one side and watched him sleep while observing his magic. Seeing no signs of flux or irregularity, he nodded his approval and conjured a small table so he could put down the meal tray he'd brought before trying to wake Harry.
Stepping in, he gently shook Harry's shoulder and called his name.
"Master Harry is needing to wake up now. Dobby is back and is having yous dinner."
Harry groaned softly and tried to ignore the little elf. He was so exhausted that he wanted to do nothing more than sleep for the next week.
"Master Harry, yous must be eating. Yous is very hungry." Dobby shook him again, this time a little more insistently.
"Okay, Dobby, I'm awake...Merlin, I'm so tired." His stomach growled threateningly and he laughed a little. "I guess I'm hungry, too. Smells really good." He sat up and immediately dug into the food the little elf had put on the table for him. "Thanks Dobby."
"Yous is being welcome, Master Harry. Did yous eat anything at all today while Dobby was having to be gone?" the elf asked, his concern evident.
"I had a sandwich and I was going to eat a couple apples, but I got distracted working on wandless magic. I was so tired I almost passed out...once I got to the bed, I think I did pass out." Harry sighed. "Is my appetite increasing because I'm getting closer to my magical maturity?"
"Yous magic is getting yous body ready for its growing up. Yous body will grow up with yous magic, so yous need much more food than usual. Master Harry must promise Dobby that he will eat more when Dobby cannot be here to feed hims," the elf pleaded quietly and wrung his hands nervously. "The more magic yous uses, the more foods yous is needing."
"Is that why I was so tired? I used too much magic and didn't eat on top of it?" Dobby just nodded and Harry sighed again. "I'll be more careful. I promise." He smiled a little and went back to eating when Dobby relaxed visibly. "Anything going on at Hogwarts?"
"Dumbleydore is still trying to fix some of his things that Master Harry broke weeks and weeks ago. Hims gets very angry when they fall apart again." Dobby smiled gleefully. "Sometimes Dobby helps."
Harry arched an eyebrow when his house elf's smile took on a particularly malicious aspect right after that statement. Biting his lip, he snorted, eyes bright with amusement.
"Oh, I'm sure you help him all the time." He sniggered and kept eating.
Feeling much better for having taken a nap and eaten a full meal, Harry pulled out a few sheets of parchment, his quill and ink pot. He had a few things to pass on to his friends and he figured he might as well get the letter written while he was thinking about it.
How are you all doing since your last visit with the Healer? Have you made any more progress? Let me know. I worry about all of you.
Things are the same here - the Dursley's leave me alone and I leave them alone. I did some yard work and talked with Tonks. I think she's on our side. Dont worry about her too much, guys. I have her Witch's oath that she won't discuss anything we talked about with anyone living or dead unless I give her permission.
She wasn't aware of any of the stuff that has been going on with me and she got really upset when I told her what was going on with Sirius before that night. Merlin, that still hurts like a bludger to the gut...I miss him, guys. I hate this. Anyway...she said she'll find out what she can and send information once we think of a way to do it without giving away that Dobby is helping us. If you want to owl her, go ahead, but I can't or Dumbledore will know something is up. We need all the options and advantages we can get and I'd appreciate your ideas on how to handle this.
I have a question for who ever knows the answer. Is it normal to be eating a LOT more when you're getting close to your magical maturity? I can't hardly get enough to eat in the last few days. Dobby has been happy running around keeping food in front of me and he says it's normal, but still...I'd appreciate any information you guys might have.
Oh! I started teaching myself wandless magic today! It's bloody exhausting, but it's manageable. Try doing spells with a stick that looks like a wand and focus like you do when you do the spells normally. Let me know if any of you have any luck, okay? Brilliant!
Rolling up the parchment, Harry tied it with a piece of string and wrote Hermione's name on the outside. Dobby picked it up before he had a chance to ask and was gone to deliver it. Chuckling to himself, he settled in to work on his Occulemency some more and discovered that his progress from earlier in the day had stuck with him. Slipping into a calm, quiet state of light meditation, he observed his shields and began adding to them again before going deeper into his own core and working on the actual organization of his thoughts and memories.
A badly deteriorated area of one wall drew his attention and he frowned. That wasn't there yesterday, he mused and moved closer to inspect it. It had the appearance of an arch or doorway that had been bricked over, and then covered with plaster to hide even that. Attacking the failing stucco and brickwork, Harry soon had room to stick his hands in so he could pull larger chunks of the wall down. As the opening expanded, he saw that it was just a deep alcove, but it was definitely not empty.
A large, old and ornate looking trunk sat in the space and he worked even harder to get to it. Many of his memories, like those of the Chamber of Secrets, had been locked away in trunks like this one but none of them were as big as this trunk.
Clearing the last of the obstructing brickwork away and banishing it, Harry turned his attention to the trunk itself. Stepping into the alcove, he reached out and the trunk's lid popped open slightly at the touch of his hand. Throwing the lid back like he'd done with all the rest, he was hit with an unexpectedly large rush of memories and found himself being shaken awake by his irate house elf for the second time in one day. He had the grace to blush and look embarrassed when Dobby gave him a pointed look that said he had done something very Gryffindorish again.
"Uh, hi, Dobby. I wasn't doing magic this time. I found another trunk full of memories and it turned out to have a lot more in it than I was expecting. My head really hurts...I think I'm just going to go get a couple aspirin and lay back down until my head stops hurting."
"Dobby will go gets yous a pain potion from Hogwarts. No more messing with memories or anything else magical today unless Dobby is here. Master promises?" The elf searched Harry's gaze with his own and seemed satisfied with his young Master's promise. "Dobby will be back soon. Yous be resting now."
"I promise," Harry stated. If it would get him one of Madame Pomphrey's pain potions, he was willing to promise just about anything right about now. Once his head stopped hurting so badly, he might consider trying to figure out what he had just done to himself. Having Dobby there to keep watch sounded like a really good idea, too. "I can be such an idiot sometimes," he muttered and tried to relax until Dobby returned.
/July 13th, Ministry of Magic/
"Please be seated so we may begin! Welcome to the 18th session of the 844th year of the British Wizengamot. This session is now open for business," Albus Dumbledore declared through use of the sonorous charm. Cancelling the spell, he rapped the table in front of him with a ceremonial gavel and smiled benignly at the representatives. "Before we move on to accept motions which will decide the new articles of legislation we will be voting upon today, does anyone have any new business to bring to the floor?"
Several members brought forward new legislation for review and a brief amount of time was spent introducing the concepts of the new laws. In barely more than an hour, the floor was cleared, opening the way for motions that would start the voting on legislation from the previous session.
Watching the nobles around him, Albus smiled to himself and opened the floor to motions when the time came. The Potter proxy nodded to him when a motion was made regarding the bill he had introduced at the last session.
"I wish to make an amending motion regarding Law 2460, articles one through six, sections all, relating to the early emancipation of minor wizards," Baron Nott declared.
"Speak you amending motion, Baron Nott," Albus urged.
"I move for the exception requirement of a minimum of an Acceptable on all applicable O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s that was suggested to be made a minimum of Exceeds Expectations on all test scores be amended to read that an average of all applicable test scores on the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s must equal no less than an Exceeds Expectations." Nott looked over the crowded room and nodded to a few.
"I understand and readily accept the need for a solid education before taking over the mantle of a family, but everyone excels in some fields and struggles in others. Averaging the scores takes that fact into account and gives a fair chance to all of our young Lords and Ladies." He bowed to the Wizengamot elders and returned to his seat.
A general murmur of agreement followed Nott's statements, and another Lord stood.
"I move to make the amendment a permanent part of the exceptions clause for Law 2460."
"I second that motion," another chimed in.
"The amendment is acknowledged and the appropriate changes will be made to the text of the legislation should it be passed into law." Albus fumed a little - such an amendment could very well work in Harry's favour, but he doubted the boy's average would be an Exceeds Expectations, so he kept his pique to himself.
"I move that Law 2460 be brought up for vote before the noble members of the standing Wizengamot," Baron Nott declared and was seconded by Narcissa Malfoy, who was acting as proxy for her currently incarcerated husband.
"Law 2460, articles one through six, sections all, relating to the early emancipation of minor wizards will be voted upon now. Gentle wizards, please cast your votes of yea or nay or indicate your intention to abstain." Albus cast his own vote - for, of course - and sat back to observe the different cliques. Many individuals voted immediately, while others deliberated amongst themselves for several minutes before reluctantly voting one way or the other. Finally, all of the votes were tallied and Albus rapped his gavel to regain the attention of the members.
"Thank you for your attention to this matter, Noble members. Law 2460 has been passed by a majority vote of 78 for, 20 against and 2 abstains. What is the next motion?"
Voting on the subsequent laws and amendments as they came, Albus nodded to those he knew had voted for him on certain issues including the newest restrictions on magical creatures. Seeing no further motions, Albus stood, drawing all eyes to him. He smiled, twinkle on full blast.
"Are there any further motions, Noble members?" Seeing none, he nodded. "Is there anything further that anyone wishes to introduce at this time?" Again, there were no takers. "As all business has been concluded, I declare this 18th session of the 884th year of the British Wizengamot to be closed. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends."
Pleased with how events had turned out despite the potential setback that Nott's amendment represented, Albus left the courtroom with a genuine smile on his face. Let's see the boy's damnable luck get him around this obstacle, he thought with a private chortle. Only an old line Pureblood could manoeuvre around the clauses in this new law and that is something he most certainly is not. Sorry, Sirius, old boy. You have been out smarted once again. Whistling quietly, he headed for the Minister's office. He didn't like to let the man operate on his own for too terribly long without exerting his influence on him.
"Hello, Percy. How are you faring in your position with the Minister?" Albus asked the aspiring young politician. He didn't bother to inform the boy that he would never make it past his current position as a clerk. He lacked the drive and creativity to be anything else and his close connection to the political failure of Barty Crouch, Sr. was a further black smudge on his hopes for advancement.
"Hello, Professor Dumbledore. Things are going quite well, thank you for asking. I hope your affairs are going well, also." Percy stood a little straighter under Albus' gaze, the familiarity of the old man's grandfatherly smile soothing his worries and concerns just as it was intended to do.
"Everything is going well, indeed," Albus stated. "Is the Minister busy? I'd like to speak with him if he has a few minutes to spare."
"I'll see if he's busy, Professor. I'll be right back out." Excusing himself politely, Percy slipped into the Minister's office and nodded a greeting. "Sir? Professor Dumbledore is here to see you. Do you have a few minutes to meet with him?"
Torn between telling the manipulative old wizard to go to hell and dancing for joy to have him show up without being asked for help, Cornelius Fudge groaned under his breath. Invariably, a visit from Albus was nearly as bad as one from Lucius Malfoy. They both wanted him to do something with very little payback in return, but at least Albus had never threatened his life or the lives of his wife and children.
In the case of Lucius and the Dark Lord, he should probably be glad that their lives were the only price they had promised to extract if he failed. They could have demanded he take the Mark once he had taken enough money and overlooked enough evidence, but so far, they hadn't. Well, Lucius is safely locked away for the time being. Maybe Albus can orchestrate some events to keep my chestnuts out of the fire the Daily Prophet seems bent on roasting them over. He's good for that kind of manoeuvring, at the very least.
"Send him in, Weatherby. I always have time for Albus."
Percy nodded and slipped out the door again. Holding it open for Albus, he smiled winningly.
"The Minister will see you now, Professor."
"Thank you, Percy. Hello, Cornelius, how have you been doing? Sherbet lemon?"
Relaxing into the calm, trusting feeling he always associated with Albus' presence, Cornelius smiled his best front page smile.
"Well enough considering the mess you created for me by proving that You Know Who is back," Cornelius grumbled half heartedly. "If I hadn't seen Him with my own eyes..."
"But you did see Him, Cornelius, and seeing necessitates belief," Albus replied with a benevolent smile. "The papers have not been kind to you on the subject from what I have seen. What are you doing in the way of damage control?"
"You must be joking, Albus. Damage control?" The Minister looked at the elderly wizard like he had lost what little mind he had left and snorted his disgust. "Is there any such thing as 'damage control' in a situation like this?"
"There is always the possibility of damage control; no matter how bad the situation may seem at the time, nearly everything can be mended well enough to save a career. Admitting to your error and siding with Mr. Potter on this particular issue might go a long way towards regaining you some public goodwill. I will speak to Harry about writing a letter to the paper regarding your shared goals or something of the sort. By aligning your name with his good press image, you stand to gain more than you might possibly lose in admitting your error."
Fudge considered Albus' suggestion and couldn't really find any fault with it despite his reluctance to recant his previous statements about the boy saviour.
"I will consider your advice, Albus. I'm sure you're correct as usual."
"It certainly couldn't hurt," the Headmaster stated and smiled encouragingly. If Cornelius followed through on his advice, it would be Albus who saw a boost in public opinion for being right all along and for his unwavering support of the Boy Who Lived. It often paid to be the beleaguered voice of reason.
Satisfied with how his meeting had gone, Albus bid Cornelius good day and moved on to his next stop.
/July 13th, #4 Privet Drive/
Feeling considerably more cautious about what he opened or handled in his own mind after his experiences of the evening before, Harry settled in to meditate while Dobby puttered around the room cleaning things that couldn't possibly be in need of cleaning.
Focusing in on the organization of his memories, he began humming quietly to himself and relaxed into the calm of a light trance. Calling all unsorted memories to the area immediately around his mental self, he sat down on the floor in his Core and started sorting what appeared to be photographs. Smiling over a snapshot of himself and Hedwig, he focused on it completely and the 'photo' became animated as the memory played itself out. Seeing that particular moment of himself at play with his first true best friend made his smile broaden considerably.
"Hedwig," he whispered happily and carefully placed the memory in the appropriate trunk. He picked up another and shook his head. "Dudley," he grumbled and tossed that memory into another trunk with a great deal less care than the first. He spent a while doing this until his rhythm was interrupted by a memory that he couldn't place - it appeared to be much older than his own memories and the scene it contained meant nothing to him.
"Hmm, I wonder where this came from," he mused quietly. Studying the memory, his frown deepened. He was fairly certain he had never set foot in an orphanage, yet here was this memory of living in just such a place. Why do I have this memory? It isn't mine. Is it?
Noting the difference in appearance, he Called together the similar memories and started a pile at his side. Once he thought about it, he made a connection. These must have come out of that chest I opened yesterday, but who do they belong to? This is more than a little weird.
Tossing memories back into the chest at a fairly rapid pace, he paused when one captured his attention. The immediate focus was on several larger, clearly older boys who wore varying expressions of meanness and laughter. The sight was so familiar from his own experiences with Dudley that he had to know what this other child had experienced. Focusing in on it, he immersed himself in the memory.
The smaller of the two older boys stepped in shoving him back against the wall hard enough to bump his head. Blinking to clear his eyes when they watered, he snarled at the gathered bullies and their small audience.
"Leave me alone!" he demanded, voice still high and sharp for his age.
"What's little Tommy-boy going to do about it, huh?" the largest retorted meanly. "We've got you all alone today, freak. Mrs. Williamson is too drunk to help you this time."
"Tommy-boy! Tommy-boy!" a couple other boys chanted in the background, their excitement clearly evident. "Tommy-boy!"
"Don't call me that! I'll hurt you worse than you've ever been hurt before!"
"Awww, what's a little private school squirt like you gonna do to me?" The older boy stepped in to deal his own blow and let out a high pitched cry of pain when a foot connected between his legs hard enough to drop him to the ground. The others froze, stunned that someone had hurt their leader.
"I told you I'd hurt you," Tom stated coldly and proceeded to viciously kick the other boy while he lay helpless on the ground. Whimpers and garbled pleas made it to his ears and he sneered, his awareness of the remaining onlookers deepening the pleasure he felt in this victory. "You want me to stop? Oh, no, I don't think so. You said it yourself. Mrs. Williamson is too drunk to help anyone today."
Panting heavily, Harry wrenched himself out of the memory and found himself back in his own room under the watchful gaze of a very concerned house elf. Pulse racing and face flushed from the excitement, pleasure and satisfaction that he had felt while he relived Tom's memory of hurting the older bully, he swallowed convulsively.
Fighting down the surge of nausea that followed his realization that he had enjoyed being able to hurt someone who had caused him so much difficulty so many times before, he wrestled with his own fears and concerns about the state of his sanity. He knew this wasn't his memory, but he could so easily replace the other boy with Dudley or Piers and then his satisfaction would be complete. Shaking, he swallowed convulsively and wondered just how much like Tom he really was.
"Oh Merlin, no...oh no...This can't be happening now..."
Oc Dager - Goblin for Young Warrior
Sheklac - Goblin for Chieftain
Mon Grand Mauvais Loup - My big bad wolf
VÃ©tÃ©ran Loup - Old Wolf
Doux Ã‰merillon - Sweet Merlin
Magique Agence du Maintien de L'ordre - Magical Law Enforcement Agency
Le Service du Magique Ãªtre - Department of Magical Creatures
Le Service du Magique Transportation - Department of Magical Transportation