Learning the horrible truth of what the future holds Harry begins his quest to become the perfect wizard and change the future of death and destruction he's foreseen. Not realizing just what the co...
It was raining when Harry woke up he found himself lying on a bed in Ollivander's back room where the table he studied at normally stood. He moaned as he tried to move, feeling pain in places he didn't even know existed. Ollivander must've heard his moan because he came in a moment later, giving Harry several potions.
"Wha... What happened?" Harry tried to ask, though it came out as little more than a raspy groan.
"Sleep now Mr. Potter," said Ollivander, "you will feel better once those potions have time to work. We will speak then."
The next time Harry woke the pain was still there, but it was much more manageable. He opened his eyes and saw Ollivander standing over him, another potion in hand.
"Just one last potion Mr. Potter, then we will talk about what happened."
Harry managed to nod his head and drank the potion, trying not to gag from the horrible taste.
"The ritual was successful Mr. Potter," Ollivander told him. "Even more so than I anticipated. I will tell you what happened, but I would first like to hear exactly what you remember."
The memories of what happened were vivid and explained everything that happened in as much detail as he could.
"Very interesting Mr. Potter. I would not have expected this to happen, but am greatly pleased that it has."
"What did happen, sir?" Harry asked.
"You received unexpected help Mr. Potter. To what end I do not know, but I will explain what I believe has happened." Ollivander took a seat on the chair next to the bed. "The large gem you described was made of Obsidian and has served as the anchor for the wards of my family's lands for over two and half millennia. The anchor is tied directly to the master of estate and has passed down from parent to child, following the bloodline as closely as possible."
"Due to the closeness of the bond formed," Ollivander continued, "and the attention needed to sustain the wards, each master put a portion of themselves into the anchor, a copy of sorts. While this helps power, and control, the wards, it also influences the anchor. In short, it is the combination of all the experiences, knowledge, and personalities of those echoes. The anchor uses that knowledge to control the wards and the estate, though the current master can take direct control himself, if needed."
"I am, however, the last living member of my family and when I die, the wards, and my family's estate, will perish as well. I believe the anchor has chosen for you to be it's next Master."
"Okay," Harry said slowly, "I understand that much. Well, at least a little. But what happened exactly? Did it make a copy of me in there?"
"It has not made an echo of you yet, as I am still the master of the wards. However, I do not know exactly what it did do to you. Only time will show the results of what has happened."
"Is this not exciting Mr. Potter?" said Ollivander, happily. "It has been a long time since I have witnessed anything quite so interesting."
Harry groaned and thought, Why me? /A rock did something and he doesn't know what it was.../ I can think of many other terms than exciting and interesting for this.
"I do believe, Mr. Potter, that this will work out quite well for you. The fate of my family's estate is now tied directly to you. If you succeed in becoming more powerful, it will become more powerful. If you fail, however, it too will fail. And if you perish, it, along with my lands, will perish. As such, whatever did occur must be to help you, for helping you is now helping itself."
Harry stifled a groan as he entered The Leaky Cauldron that evening. The intense pain from the ritual was mostly gone, but the soreness that replaced it wasn't much better. It'd been a long and hard day for Harry and the fact that he was already much later than normal in leaving Ollivander's didn't help his mood any. Diagon Alley was much more crowded now that the World Cup was closer, and today it was so packed that Harry, while trying to move through the crowded inn, accidentally stumbled into one the chairs. He looked over to apologize to the person and was surprised to see it was Gabric, the foreigner he'd met when he'd been sick earlier in the summer.
He apologized, introduced himself again and began talking to him about how he was enjoying England, and if he needed anything. Talking to more adults had become a bit of habit since Ollivander's lessons on getting to know people. They talked for a few minutes and Harry happily accepted when Gabric offered him a seat at his table.
The sun had set some time ago when he finally made it back to Privet Drive. Finding the front door already locked, he went around the house and let himself in the back door. Dudley always left it unlocked incase he needed to sneak in or out late at night. Stepping inside Harry saw his relatives on the sofa in front of the tele. Uncle Vernon, he noted, looked furious.
Oh well. He thought, mentally sighing to himself. Looks like things are back to normal.
"Hello Uncle Vernon." Harry said as pleasantly as he could.
"You!" His uncle hissed between his clenched teeth, partially surprisingly Harry with the amount of hatred in his voice. He was used to his Uncle being angry at him, but he hadn't even been home in a few days. What could they be blaming him for this time?
"How Dare YOU COME BACK AND ENTER THIS HOUSE LIKE YOU BLOODY WELL OWN IT! FOR DAYS THOSE CREATURES HAVE DESTROYED THIS HOUSE AND WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN! THREE DAYS BOY? IF YOU CAN STAY AWAY FOR THREE DAYS, THERE IS NO REASON FOR YOU TO COME BACK AT ALL!"
Out of the corner of his eye Harry saw the lights of their neighbor's house flicker on. Soon he knew their curtains would rustle and they'd use the phone to wake other neighbors, letting them what was happening with the Dursley's misfit nephew. Idly he wondered, if Uncle Vernon knew they'd be the talk of the block for the next week, would still bellow?
Vernon slowly began stalking towards Harry, becoming more enraged with every step. Though it'd been sometime since his uncle was this furious Harry still knew what it meant, and wasn't looking forward to this confrontation at all. "Take your freakish things and Leave Boy! I WANT YOU OUT OF..."
Vernon never finished what he was going to say because, at that very moment, the door was thrown open and a ragged and menacing looking Sirius Black entered the house.
It was raining. A light drizzle sifted down out of the bleak sky, falling softly onto the stone pathway leading up to the house. He sat underneath an ancient tree outside of Ollivander's family estate in Greece, the smile on Harry's face clearly showed that the dreary weather did nothing to affect his mood.
He just couldn't believe his luck. Sirius was back and he didn't have to stay at the Dursley's for the rest of the summer!
A sound to his left caught Harry's attention; his green eyes scanned the path nearby when he was suddenly tackled to the ground. He looked up just in time to see the huge black dog slobber and lick his face.
"Sirius!" Harry yelled, half in disgust and half in laughter.
"You weren't in the house when I woke up so I changed into Padfoot to find you. Though I should have figured you'd be out here, James and I used to spend a lot of our time joking around under a tree just like this near the south end of the lake." Sirius said with a laugh and then added, "The times when we weren't breaking rules that is."
"Really?" Harry asked, "Hermione, Ron, and I lay under the tree between Hagrid's hut and the lake. It's one of my favorite places!"
"I know. I saw you a few times last year. Many of our best pranks, and conquests, were planned and celebrated there."
"Actually, take a bit of advice and start placing some twigs around the tree so you know when someone is coming up on you. We learned that the hard way during our third year when Snivellous snuck close enough to overhear us planning one of our pranks."
"Tell me about some of them!" Harry said eagerly, thrilled to at last hear about his father.
"Our largest prank was actually done during the summer after our fourth year. We wrote a story for the Daily Prophet and managed to get it published, of course we didn't use our real names. It took a good bit of work but we managed to spike the drinks of all the editors with a potion that made them see the fake story we wanted them to see."
"The story everyone else saw though was a warning from the Ministry of Magic. It said they would be cleaning the Floo network in a few days and needed everyone who wanted to remain connected to the Floo Network to apply a couple common household potions to their hearth."
"The prank was, when you combined those potions together it produced one of the worse smells known to man." Sirius grinned wolfishly, "And the heat from the fire actually fed the reaction, making it last for hours! By the time the reaction stopped not only did the whole house stink but the smell filtered through the Floo Network! Everyone that was attached to the Floo Network, even the Ministry, smelled for days!"
Sirius was laughing so hard that Harry began to laugh as well, partially at the thought of that stink going through everyone's house, but mostly because of Sirius.
After they got their laughing under control Sirius began another story and Harry couldn't wipe the smile of his face if he wanted to here. He was with Sirius now, with his family.
"...in the Great Hall for breakfast." Sirius was saying as Harry forced himself to pay attention again. "We snuck into Snape's bedroom one morning before he woke up and nailed him with a few spells, nothing that left a trace or tip him off though."
"We made sure to arrive to the Great Hall a few minutes before him acting all sick. Instead of running to the bathroom to throw up tough, we ran over to the Slytherin table and acted like we threw up on the food in front of Snivellous' normal spot!"
"It really wasn't vomit though, it was a specially charmed concoction of food we snagged the night before. It was only a few moments later that Snape came in, taking his normal seat. To him it looked, and smelled, like a delicious breakfast but to the rest of the Hall it looked like he was eating food covered in our vomit!"
Harry spent several minutes laughing that time, imagining what Snape would look like!
"Of course one of my favorites was to use James' invisibility cloak and just charm random people in the halls. It was simple, but it provided results. Always a fun one to do when one of us was bored."
"You should have seen what we did with that cloak! Oh, the pranks we played with that thing..."
"That's how you never got caught then, the invisibility cloak?" Harry asked.
"Oh no, we got caught a lot. The point was to get caught only when we wanted."
"You wanted to get caught?"
"Of course! If we never got caught the teachers would just try harder to catch us. The real trick" Sirius explained, "was to make sure they caught us only when we wanted them to. That way, when it was important, we could pull off some amazing pranks and they couldn't do anything to stop it.
"Besides," he added with a grin, "the reputation for being pranksters was well worth the detentions. The cloak was great fun during the summers as well."
Sirius laughed, remembering the good times. "I can't tell you how many times James and I snuck into some Muggle's houses and pretended to be ghosts or re-arrange things."
"I can't believe I never thought of that!" Harry said with a laugh, thinking of what the Dursley's reaction to that would have been.
"Don't worry Harry we'll have years of pranks ahead of us." Sirius grinned, "Oh, and we'll get those Dursley's too! James would be affronted if we didn't. "It's a moral imperative!" he'd say."
"We can make up some potions for them as well. There are some great ones to use on Muggles."
"Potions?" Harry asked.
"Potions are an integral part of pranks, magical or Muggle. Pouring a little potion into the food and drink at a Muggle restaurant was always a blast. Of course, pouring a weak truth serum into a guy's drink when he's on a date had great results too!"
"Oh, the girls we got from that little trick!" Sirius said grinning like a cat. "Doing it on the right guy would cause the girl to flee in tears in less than an hour. Then we'd play the sensitive but funny and charming guy to perfection, and not only would we get the girl, but also a good rep for being so nice and sweet!"
Harry spent the rest of the day walking around the lands while Sirius told stories of the mischief Sirius and his father got into. He couldn't believe some of the things his they had done during the summers by using the invisibility cloak. They even managed to pull off pranks in the middle of Diagon Alley without being caught!
Long before Harry would have liked evening arrived, and Ollivander with it. Harry found himself seated in the kitchen as Ollivander began to explain where exactly they were and why he was helping Harry to Sirius. It had been nearly morning by the time Ollivander teleported them here last night and explanations had to be put off till now.
"Actually sir," Harry said, interrupting Mr. Ollivander. "I should probably explain this. There are a few things I didn't want to mention at first, but think I probably should now."
Harry began his story, in full this time. He left nothing out as he told them about his headaches, getting sick, asking Ollivander for help, and his acceptance.
Harry could tell that Sirius was incredibly surprised, and quite worried, about almost everything he heard, but it was Ollivander's reaction that puzzled him. Ollivander didn't seem surprised at all and was only interested in the exact details of what his memories entailed.
Harry found he couldn't remember enough details to satisfy Ollivander and Sirius and ended up putting as many memories as he could into the Pensieve. He had no desire to watch them again though, once was once too often for his liking, so while Sirius and Ollivander viewed the memories Harry took a look around the house. When he was in the house for the Ritual he hadn't had time to look around, and last night it was so late he did nothing but go to sleep.
All the rooms opened onto the large courtyard in the middle and each also connected to each other through an open doorway on the inside walls. The bedrooms he was staying in had magical murals on the back wall. They were smaller than the large mural on the wall of the courtyard and showed what looked like a picture of each generation of Ollivander's which lived in the room.
To Harry it was truly amazing. He spent a good bit of time just looking at each person and imagining who they were, what their lives must have been like, and what they must have dreamed in the very bed he would sleep in.
The study had probably been another bedroom at one time, as it also had a wall dedicated to the magical murals. Besides the mural though it was full of interesting items, many the likes of which Harry had never seen before.
One in particular was a disturbing statue taller than he was. The statue, an injured monster, for that was the only way he could describe it, was taller and broader than a human, with a thick dark grey hide, long muscular arms, and a large black head that, Harry thought, almost looked like a bull's head.
It was so finely detailed that it, and its many injuries, almost looked life like. Intrigued, Harry examined it closer and found that there were words engraved into the stone, some written in Greek and others in some claw mark text that he had never seen before.
He ran his hand softly over the stone, barely touching the first engraving when he was immediately engulfed by a vision.
Looking around in confusion at the tall oaks trees and the blistering heat of the mid-day sun, Harry wondered where in the world he was and what he had gotten himself into. Those thoughts, however, were knocked from him as he saw the monster from the study chasing after a small group of people who were fleeing away from the edge of the trees.
Harry watched helplessly as the creature stopped for several seconds to tear apart a young man who fell with its stubby, claw-tipped, fingers before continuing to chase down the rest of the group.
He tried to close his eyes as the creature caught up to the next person, a girl younger than even Harry, but found that he couldn't. A silver bolt slammed into the monster, lifting it off the ground and knocking it back several meters. The monster's roar of pain and furry caused a shiver of fear to run through his non-existent body.
Looking back the way the bolt came from elation flooded through his body as he saw an old man standing on what looked like a flying carpet. The little girl was saved!
The old man, who seemed almost familiar to Harry, chanted a few words and pointed a small orb towards the creature. Another silver bolt flew towards it but before it could hit, the creature let loose a series of short barks and a shield appeared, protecting it. Harry watched stupefied for a moment, he couldn't believe it, that thing could do magic!
The rest of the fight shocked Harry even more; it was like nothing he had ever seen before.
The old man and the creature sent round after round of magic at each other, each time quicker than the last until they were both moving and firing spells at breakneck speeds. The old man and the carpet re-acted so well together that made Harry bit jealous. He was a natural flyer and could handle a broom better than any other student, but the way the old man and the carpet reacted to each other amazed even him. It was as if they were of one mind.
The creature was impressive. Stronger and faster than a human, it was able to use magic better than any wizard Harry had ever seen before. It seemed to have it's own type of magic because, while hand gestures and vocal barks seemed to be used, neither were used consistently.
Sometimes it even seemed to do magic without having cast any spell at all. No matter how impressive the creature was though, it didn't match up to the combination of magical attacks from the old man and the mobility of the flying carpet.
It was just as Harry thought the old man had won that things changed drastically.
The creature began casting one long spell, allowing itself to be hit several times in order to complete it. When the effect of the spell took place Harry understood why. Suddenly the wind started to blow a little fiercer, a storm's wind. Soon a raging storm grew around the creature pelting the old man with fierce gusts and hail. Though the old man still attacked, Harry could tell it was taking a fierce toll on him.
A great bolt of lightning lit the dark landscape, briefly outlining the trees in harsh, brilliant light. The dazzling afterimages, black and white reversed, confused his senses while the enormous thunder that sounded overhead hit him like a physical blow. When his senses returned, Harry saw the old man had been knocked off his carpet from the blast and was now forced to defend himself against a barrage of spells.
Even when defending himself against a non-stop bombardment of magic Harry was amazed by how the old man continued to find ways to attack the creature.
Both fighters were severely injured, having been hit by the bits of magic they hadn't fully deflected of avoided, and were visibly showing their fatigue. They seemed to know that the battle was coming to the end and put everything they had left into one last stand.
The resulting attacks were, if possible, even faster and more furious than any before. Streaks of lights of all colors and sizes were flying at such speeds between the two that the very air seemed alive with power. Some of the effects were quite visible, large flames encasing the creature, stone forming surrounding the old man, but they were countered so quickly that Harry couldn't begin to guess at what most of the magic did.
After a few minutes of constant attacks the monster aimed several spells at the ground surrounding the old man causing the ground to literally explode outward, launching the old man into the air.
The creature stalked towards the old man, wanting to make the final kill up-close. Harry was terrified as the monster stalked towards the old man, rising it's claw tripped hand for the final blow when all of a sudden the man wheezed out one last incantation. The gem, which was laying on the ground in front of the old man, exploded, engulfing the creature in a silver light and freezing it where it stood, like a statue.
The vision ended and Harry found himself kneeling on the floor of Ollivander's study. He glanced at the creature for a moment before quickly backing away, not wanting to be anywhere near that thing again. He now understood just why the creature looked so real, because it was.
Harry was resting in the courtyard, the cool night air comforting him from the horrifying vision, when Ollivander's approach startled him.
"Where's Sirius?" Harry asked, having been hoping to talk some more with him tonight.
"Outside walking," Ollivander replied. "He was worried a great deal about how you seem to be at the center of the events to come and needed to think on things."
Harry rose, intending find his godfather, only to be stopped by Ollivander. "It may be difficult for him at first, but seeing those visions was actually one the best things that could have happened for him."
"The best thing?" Harry asked. "How on Earth could watching all those people die be the best thing for him?"
"It gives him a purpose, a reason to keep going, to get better." Ollivander told him. "The worst thing for a person in Sirius' condition is to hide away and do nothing. He survived last year, which is impressive, yes, but he had revenge to focus and sustain him. Without such a strong purpose I doubt he would live another year."
"Mr. Black was an Auror during the last years of the war and saw many bodies in that time. This he is trained for, and that training will also assist him through his other problems."
"He was an Auror?" Harry asked.
"Yes Mr. Potter, yes indeed. Sirius Black and your father were making quite the names for themselves as up-and-coming Aurors with their non-stop competitions regarding how many Death Eater's they could defeat each month, and by what means. Your father once won one of those competitions by having defeated two Death Eaters using only tickling and coughing jinxes."
Ollivander laughed softly for a moment, "The Daily Prophet could not decide if he deserved a medal, or to be locked up due to insanity."
"You ate breakfast?" Ollivander asked as Harry made his way outside.
"Yes, sir." Harry said, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn. While he was used to waking up a couple hours before sunrise, it still took his mind a bit to begin working.
"Very good. Let us begin your lessons to feel magic." Ollivander said while leading Harry to an open patch of grass. With a quick swish of his wand, Ollivander conjured a ring of small, flickering, orbs, which slowly drifted in the air above their heads, for light.
"It will take some time for you to learn to feel, and differentiate, magic properly. Your first exercise is to cast the levitation spell as often as you can while paying no attention to the spell itself. Continue this until I return during lunch. Mr. Black expressed an interest in having more time to speak with you, as well as teaching you from an Auror's perspective."
"Is he up yet?" Harry asked curiously, having not seen Sirius since before he went into the Pensieve yesterday evening.
"I have placed Mr. Black in an enchanted sleep, in which he will remain until lunch."
"You did what!?" Harry nearly shouted.
"I have placed Mr. Black into a magical trance where he may explore his mind and begin sifting through his memories. Remember Mr. Potter, the physical harm caused by Azkaban may have healed, but the mental and emotional trauma he endured will take far longer. He, of course, did not wish to accept my help at first. Though once I mentioned you he became far more receptive of the idea."
"I merely asked Mr. Black if he wished for you to be stuck with your relatives once more. For, if he did not accept my help, the only way you would be able to visit your godfather would be in St. Mungo's mental ward."
"But... You can help him. He'll be okay, Right?" Harry asked, his voice dropping to nearly a whisper at the thought of loosing Sirius.
"Yes, Mr. Potter. Do not worry over such things. Sirius Black will be quite fine eventually, though he will never be the man he once was. It is impossible to go back after having experienced all he has, just as you can no longer return to how you once were after having experienced all you have this summer."
"The lights will continue to circle you until the Sun rises enough to provide adequate lighting so feel free to move about as you wish. It does not matter how perfect your wands movements are, or how powerful the spell is, all that matters is that you continue to cast the spell while paying as little attention to it as possible."
Unfortunately this proved to be a lot more difficult than it sounded as the harder he tried not to think about the spell, the more he thought about it. Finally though, after several hours of frustration, he managed it. Funnily enough it was his not succeeding that helped him in the end.
In a bout of anger Harry's thoughts veered from the spell to all the terrible things he'd like to do to Ollivander for never telling him how to actually complete any of the lessons. It was only after about fifteen minutes of his mental ranting that Harry realized he had done it; not once during his mental rant had he thought of the spell!
While he cursed Ollivander's name for not explaining how to do his tasks, Harry had to admit, it worked. By the time lunch came around he was able to cast the spell and keep his mind occupied on other thoughts quite easily. Most of the time these thoughts were about how about Sirius, his time with Katie, and his best friends, Ron and Hermione.
Sirius had different thoughts on his training though. It's not that he was against Ollivander's way of teaching, but to Sirius the more spells you knew, even half-way decently, the better prepared you were for future situations.
The first thing he did was teach the six main rules to combat.
There is no such thing as a fair fight. War isn't a duel, its killing! So don't think about chivalry, or about being "fair." Use any, and every, advantage you can find to take down you opponent, for they will not hesitate to kill you. Be prepared for anything. The only thing you can count on is that your enemy will come up with something you didn't count on. Always have a back way out of a fight. Never go into an alley or building without knowing another way out. At the very least make sure it's not under anti-Apparation and port-key wards. If your enemy enters one, stop and check before you walk into a trap. Never concentrate only on the opponent your fighting, there are other things going on around you. Know what, and more importantly, who, they are. What you don't know Can kill you. Have the upper hand before you go into a fight. This means using things like surprise, better intelligence, better training, and better armor, but also better numbers. One to one odds are never a sure thing, and seldom two to one. The situation makes the rules. All previous rules can become meaningless within a second, you'd best be able to figure a way out on your own.
After that Sirius spent the next few hours sparing with Harry, showing him how to cast the spells a little faster, improving his stance, and generally showing him advice on how to improve. One of the more interesting tips Sirius gave him was not to wait and see if his current spell hit before casting the next spell.
Another interesting difference with Sirius' training was his preference for speed. "There are times," he told Harry, "when casting a spell faster than your enemy is more important than casting the spell perfectly."
With that in mind Sirius showed him how it was possible to combine wand movements together, flowing the end of one spell into the beginning of the next spell.
"Every moment your opponent is busy defending himself is another moment he's not attacking you. Allowing you time to come up with a better plan to defeat him."
It was a difficult lesson for Harry, since his professors taught him to cast one spell at a time. He definitely wasn't comfortable with it but in the end, he managed it a few times.
They spent the rest of the evening going through and picking out a few spells to learn. From the books Harry had picked up in Diagon Alley.
Over the next few days Harry continued to spend from lunch till dinner time with Sirius. It'd switch between practicing magic and having fake duels to talking about their adventures, and pranks, at Hogwarts. Harry loved learning more about Sirius and his parents, and eagerly absorbed every word.
When it came to his training Harry was truly amazed by Sirius. The man who'd just been laughing at a prank pulled on his mother, or perhaps sneaking out of Hogwarts to prank a shop owner, was instantly replaced with a serious and self-confident Auror.
He was also impressed by how Sirius listened and taught during those times, it was like he was a completely different person altogether. The moment they took a break from training though, Sirius was back to being the laid back prankster he normally was.
Harry decided to ask him about it.
"As an Auror you have to learn to look at things differently." Sirius told him, "After a while you just look at the world differently than other people, not necessarily better or worse, just different."
"I think I understand." Harry said after a moment.
"Really?" Sirius asked doubtfully.
"Well, sort of. One of the first things Ollivander had me work on this summer was to pay more attention to the people I talk to. Not just what they said, but the words they choose, how they speak, their body language, everything. It was kind of difficult for the first couple weeks, but then it became easier and easier."
After a moment Harry added, "It's not just with people I'm talking to anymore though. I've sort of started picking up on things about people even when I 'm not trying, even about people I'm not really paying attention to. I don't know it's almost like..."
"You're seeing things out of the corner of your eye." Sirius finished for him. "You'll be talking to someone, or maybe reading, and you'll just notice something about the person. Sometimes you might not even realize what it was that attracted your attention until afterwards."
"That's it exactly!" Harry exclaimed, amazed Sirius understood.
"You're increasing your awareness. It'll continue to happen more and more often until it gets to the point where you'll notice what people are doing around you without breaking your concentration."
"Try using it with more than just people, like your surroundings. At first just try and notice something simple like the colors of the walls and floors. Eventually though, you'll want to be able to just glance at a room and remember enough detail to navigate your way through it with your eyes closed."
"What you'll eventually learn though, is much more than just that. That just changes what you notice, being an Auror changes your entire outlook."
"For me it was not to worry about things you can't fix. When it comes time to act, act. After the job is done, forget it and enjoy your life the best you can. One of the hardest things for me to learn was that you can't always make a difference."
Sirius paused a moment, trying to put it in a way Harry would understand. "There are times when we'll have intelligence about an upcoming attack but won't be able to do anything about it. In those cases you just have to let it go, you can't let it keep affecting you."
"What you mean! You're just supposed to let people die and do nothing!"
"In a word, yes. Sometimes we won't be the right people for the job, and it'll go to someone else. Other times it may be that it's best to do nothing. Many times it's not our call, which can be a blessing and a curse."
"The first thing we're trained to do," Sirius continued, not letting Harry interrupt, "is to specifically define what the problem actually is. This is not nearly as simple as you might think."
"Aurors deal with a lot more than just Death Eaters, but I'll use them as an example for now. Let's say we learn that Death Eaters from a particular African nation are becoming more active and stock-piling supplies for possible attacks in the area. Our interest is that many of our potions ingredients come from areas in Africa."
"Is the problem that the Death Eaters can potentially interrupt our supply of potion ingredients? Is it that the Death Eaters intend to interrupt our ability to make potions?"
"What if the problem is that the ingredients we need from the area might not make it to England? Or that the Death Eaters in Africa have decided to demonstrate that they can threaten British interests."
"Only after we specifically define what the problem is can we decide how we respond, what our response is, and who makes up the response team."
"Suppose the problem is that the Death Eaters intend to destroy the companies that are selling the ingredients to England. Then the specific problem might be that the supplies that these Death Eaters have stock-piled now make them a threat to the companies from which we buy our ingredients. The solution could be to destroy all the various supplies before the Death Eaters can use them. The appropriate team would start planning a direct action mission, and would normally be on route within 24 hours."
"But what if the problem was that the Dark Lord intends to hinder our ability to make potions? Then the specific problem could be that ingredients will not arrive in England on time, resulting in shortages of key ingredients to, say, healing potions. In that case the solution would be to ensure additional methods to meet our demands."
"Aurors couldn't help ensure that domestic production, or shipments from foreign suppliers, increased to make up the difference so we'd have no involvement in the situation. While we could prevent that one specific attack, they'd just attack another location, which might result in shortages we didn't plan on. So the Aurors would do nothing and move on to the next issue at hand."
"Or perhaps the real problem is that the local African government in that area is too sympathetic with the Death Eaters, allowing them to feel secure and confident enough to threaten British interests. Then the specific problem could be that they both feel they are immune to British reprisals. In which case the solution would be to demonstrate to the Death Eaters, and the local government, that threatening British interests has severe consequences."
"You'd attack another government!" Harry exclaimed, slightly disturbed by everything he heard, but at the same time fascinated by it.
"Death Eater's aren't our only concern. Our enemy is anyone who threatens British interests. It could be Death Eaters, a new Dark Lord, another government, or even a legitimate businessman."
After that Harry went to back to his lessons, for once not trying to get more stories out of Sirius.
The second morning Ollivander gave Harry an enchanted ring which slowly dampened his normal senses, making it easier to clear his mind of the day to day minutia and differentiate his magic from the natural magic all around him.
He didn't realize the changes at first but by the end of the second day Harry began to understand that he didn't have to concentrate on anything specific at all.
By embracing the monotony of it all his body continued the simple task and allowed his mind to be free, wandering from memory to memory at its leisure.
Sometimes an hour or two could go by and Harry would barely notice, other times images would dance across his mind. Memories of his friends, Quidditch, and Hogwarts came first but there were others too.
Memories that seemed almost familiar but somehow still eluded his understanding. Glimpses of cliffs, crashing waves on weathered rocks, fighting, snow, and then death. A great hall filled with people. An impossibly high tower dwarfing a castle. A room with no doors or windows. A strange-looking glowing white substance lining the ground and walls. Magic.
Each would pass with blinding quickness, leaving only an afterimage in its passing.
On the forth day of practicing Harry was jerked awake when he felt a spell coming towards him, his reactions took over before he realized what was happening.
Hearing clapping he looked up and saw it was Ollivander and Sirius who attacked him!
"Excellent Mr. Potter!" Ollivander told him, "You may take the shield down now."
Harry looked at the shield charm protecting him and blinked, he could barely remember having time to think let alone cast a spell, but there it was shimmering in front of him.
"What... Why did you attack me?" Harry asked as he took down the shielding charm.
"I did not attack you Mr. Potter. It was merely a test to determine the progress of your training."
"By attacking me!" Harry stated angrily.
"I assure you Mr. Potter, if that had been a real attack you would not be standing. Your reflexes are impressive and your ability to differentiate the magic around you has improved, if only at the unconscious level, but you still have much to learn before you could withstand a true attack."
"Now then, to the reason why I disturbed your training. It seems your young lady friend will become a Prefect this coming year and her mother wishes for you attend a dinner in her honor this Friday night. I assume you wish to go?"
"Young lady friend?" Sirius asked with an evil grin. "Oh, this you must tell!"