When would be the best point in time for an over-powered Harry to return to his past? Right before the First Task! In this chapter, Harry finishes his talks with Dumbledore and Hermione, argues w...
In the silence that followed Harry question, Harry merely stared at the Headmaster. Finally, Harry said, "Well? Voldemort is vulnerable. Do we go and kill his snake? Then I can break the last Horcrux and I can destroy the little piece that is Voldemort. Or do we continue the farce of a tournament, let him kidnap me, restore his body, and then I do it?"
"Harry. . . ." Remus almost sobbed. Harry saw that Hermione was actually crying.
"I have to do it, Remus," Harry said, moving to stand beside Hermione and letting her hold him close as she cried against his side. "I don't like it, but I must. So tell me, Headmaster, if I kill Voldemort in the form he's in now, would I destroy him? Or do I have to wait until he's in a slightly more real body?"
The Headmaster shook himself and looked at Harry. "What are the forms made of? Do you know?" Dumbledore finally asked.
"His current form was made mostly by dark magic, blood from innocents (whatever that means), and mostly from Nagini's mutated venom. His restored body would be made from his current form combined with the bone of his father, the flesh of his servant -- meaning Pettigrew -- and my blood."
"The latter would certainly be mortal once the last Horcrux is destroyed. His current form likely would merely free his essence again, much as Professor Quirrell's death did."
"I was afraid of that, but I wasn't sure," Harry said. He looked at Hermione. "Hermione. . . ." he started.
"Don't you dare," Hermione said through her tears, looking up at him and holding him tightly, the side of her face still against his stomach. The look on her face nearly broke Harry's heart. "Don't you dare offer to release me from your promise, Harry James Potter." It was only then that Remus noticed the shape of the ring on her left hand. "I've been torn this last year between you and Ron, and even if everyone will think I'm too young, I won't change my mind. I knew, even in our First year, how special you are, and everything I've learned just makes you more special to me."
Harry conjured a silk handkerchief from nothing -- N.E.W.T. quality work -- and handed it to Hermione. "I won't lose you this time," he said.
"This time?" Dumbledore demanded.
"Exactly," Harry said. "I won the war, despite every obstacle you managed to put in my way, despite your being murdered by your pet project at the end of my Sixth year. I won because Hermione is actually the most brilliant witch this century and because when it came to fighting Voldemort I was as lucky as I was powerful and I was slightly more powerful than him, just as he's slightly more powerful than you. I won, but the wizarding world lost. The Pure-Blood fence sitters, the Percy Weasleys, took over and implemented most of the Pure-Blood agenda, claiming that it was Riddle's half-blood status and having been brought up in the Muggle world that contaminated him and caused all the problems. That caused a civil war. Again, I won. But almost every single person I cared for was dead, and the few survivors, like George Weasley, were in bad shape and I wasn't much better off for a few years. I managed to send my memories and my magic back nearly twenty years into the past, where I combined with the me of a week ago last Friday, a little after midnight. I am both, with nearly the power of both and the control of the older Harry." Harry conjured Hermione another handkerchief, so she could finish cleaning herself up.
"Which explains how you won the first task to handily," Dumbledore said.
Harry shrugged. "I won the Tournament last time, too. This time, I'll just make certain Cedric survives it." Dumbledore winced at that. "Now, does this basically answer the basic questions you called me here to answer?"
"It does," Dumbledore had to admit.
"Hermione, Remus, and Sirius needed to know, too," Harry said. "However, if Sirius had come had learned how abused I was at the Dursleys, I was afraid he might attack them, or you."
"Wait. Just how abused were you?" Hermione demanded, pushing Harry back slightly so she could see him more clearly.
Harry lifted her from the chair, sat down, and pulled her onto his lap, much to everyone's shock. For the next eighteen minutes, holding Hermione tightly, he briefly told them what life had been like at the Dursleys. Long before Harry finished, Dumbledore was glad that mere looks could rarely kill, because the glares that Remus and Hermione were directing at him were nearly deadly.
"I don't understand," Hermione finally said. "Muggle authorities, at least in places like the Dursleys' suburb, are usually pretty good at rooting out that sort of abuse."
"Care to answer her, Professor?" Harry, his voice now ragged from the emotional recitation, demanded. When Dumbledore said nothing, Harry went on, "What? You don't want to tell her how many times you or your pet Obliviated Muggles to keep me at that abusive place? I really will never fully forgive you for keeping me there after my fifth birthday or so. That's when they broke my arm in public and you and Snape had to come, Obviliate half the neighborhood, most of the local police force, and three social workers, and then magically healed me before you Obliviated me. You could have so easily sent me on to some place better after that. And that's why you had Snape try to teach me Occlumency and no one else. Any competent teacher would have found the Obliviated memories. Instead of teaching me anything, he raped my mind, opening it up to Voldemort instead. I know he did that in part because he's a sadist, and in part because he really is more loyal to Voldemort than to you. Still, I've always wondered if he had your permission to do that as well."
Dumbledore said nothing.
"I take it you learned Occlumency later, then" Remus managed to say.
Harry merely nodded. Hermione slipped off Harry lap and stood behind him, her hands lightly on his shoulders to reassure him of her support and presence. All her life, Hermione had trusted authority figures, none more so than the Headmaster. All that trust now disappeared and moved to Harry.
"Before we leave, we need to discuss 'Professor' Snape," Harry said.
"Harry. . . ."
"Snape is loyal to Voldemort, not you, if he's loyal to anyone beyond himself" Harry snapped. "He murdered you. He didn't do it just because there was little choice in that situation, because he then went on to be Voldemort's number two in the second war. I won't say with total certainty that his mind was totally made up before he cast the Killing Curse on you, but after that night if not before he decided that Voldemort would win."
"Now, knowing you, you might say something like 'then Severus might still be redeemed' or something equally stupid. Well, I doubt it, but yes, it is possible. Allowing him free reign to abuse the students, especially Gryffindors and most especially me, however, didn't work last time."
Harry stood and moved to lean over the Headmaster's desk. "Your way failed last time, Professor. It totally failed. If you can honestly admit that, we might at least work together."
"I will consider what you have said, Harry," Dumbledore answered. "I can not refute what you have said, but you will pardon me if it takes me some time to assimilate all of this."
Harry nodded. "Fine. Just remember this. Professor Snape has been using passive Legilimency on me since the first day of class my first year. He will likely react badly to my surface thoughts not being opened to him. I am very likely to react . . . strongly to his reacting badly."
"You must understand. . . ."
"No," Harry snapped. "He was thirty-one, I was eleven. Why was I expected to act like the adult? Now he's thirty-four, and I may have the emotional age of twenty or so. Again, why am I expected to act more responsibly than he does? Because he's from an abusive household? Well, so am I. I will not start anything with him, but I will finish anything he starts, against me or against Hermione."
"Harry, do not break the Life-debt between the two of you," Dumbledore warned.
"He held that debt right up until my seventeenth birthday, when he attack the Dursleys, hoping to find me there, so he could torture me and serve me up to his Master," Harry said coldly. "He tortured them to death. So, I advise you to warn your pet that I have learned Occlumency, and if he presses too hard, he will not like the results. And remember, anything an Occlumens does to a Legilimencer is legal. Anything. Even the Killing Curse isn't ruled out in some circumstances."
Harry stood, and his magical aura suddenly blossomed brightly around him. "I was more powerful than Tom Riddle, Headmaster, and he is slightly more powerful than you. I am even stronger now. And on the subjects of Voldemort, Snape, and Pettigrew, I am as ruthless as Riddle ever was, although I hope not in anyway as sadistic. Control your pet project, or else I will."
And with that, the magic died down and Harry escorted Hermione from the Headmaster's office, and was followed by Remus.
"You were afraid of how powerful the boy would become," a fourteenth century headmaster scolded. "You may have, at least in part, created what you were most afraid of."
"Nonsense," an icon representing Godric Gryffindor stated firmly. "Harry is a true paladin. He will not stand for any injustice, and your Snape is a walking injustice. Reign the snake in, Dumbledore, or else Snape will be treated as he deserves."
"I know that look on your face," a fifteenth century headmistress chided. "Do not move against the child. Consider where he is from. Do you think he has revealed all the secrets you want kept that he knows?"
"Harry Potter, by nature, is mostly Gryffindor and Hufflepuff," the Sorting Hat stated, "although his mind is more than good enough for Ravenclaw. However, because of his life experiences with the Dursleys, because of the manipulation you have put him through, he has the cunning of any Slytherin when he takes the time to think about it. Even I could not read his mind at the distance he was from me, but I am willing to bet that he indeed knows that he is the Senior Heir of Gryffindor, and is now the rightful Magical Heir of Slytherin. He has more distant claims on the blood of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, so he if calls, Hogwarts herself will likely answer. Take care, Albus Dumbledore. In any contest between yourself and young Potter, the castle itself may side against you, stripping you of the right to be Headmaster."
Dumbledore frowned. He had not considered that.
"I could not read the detailed thoughts in his head, but I could read his heart," the Hat insisted. "There are no black spots there, and most of the gray areas are ones that you yourself put into place. Bow to the simple fact that Harry Potter is the Chosen One, and that you have made yourself largely redundant. If you oppose him, if you try and force him to follow your lead, you will become irrelevant. You have to reearn his trust, and then you may be able to offer him advice."
"That means, tighten the reins on your snake," Gryffindor stated again. "If you do not, there will be little left of the man."
"But. . . ."
"How many people was the older Harry forced to kill?" Headmaster Dippet asked sadly. "If he already killed Severus Snape in one life-time, do you believe he would hesitate to do so again?"
After seeing Remus off, Harry again took Hermione to the Room of Requirement. "I told you Tuesday night that I hadn't meant to confess how much I love you that quickly. That I should have waited."
Hermione merely nodded, and watched Harry pace nervously.
"The Harry you knew had never really killed anyone," Harry said. "He was complicit in the death of Professor Quirrell back in our First year, but it wasn't totally his actions that killed him. He had also killed a seventh of Voldemort when he stabbed the diary with the basilisk fang, and had killed the basilisk for that matter, which was nearly sentient. I can't tell you how many people, how many other sentient beings, the older Harry killed or was partially responsible for killing. At least sixty and hopefully less than a hundred, depending on how you want to define the guilt and responsibility." He stopped and looked at Hermione. "If murder stains or tears the soul, then I bear the guilt of both Harrys. I've already again killed most of Voldemort in the short time I've been back. I could, and would, willingly kill Snape or the other two Marked Death Eaters here at school, or Rita Skeeter or Draco Malfoy, if given any further reason to."
"Why Skeeter?" Hermione asked, in part to divert Harry.
"That's right, I have to tell the Headmaster that's she's an illegal animagus, a beetle. She hurt you and Hagrid in the near future, but more importantly she snooped around and discovered some of the Order's plans. She tried to publish them, believe it or not, but a sympathizer sent them on to a Death Eater, so they were waiting for the Order and us. We lost Ron, Remus, and Mister Weasley, among others. She shrugged her shoulders and said that the public had the right to know what was planned and damn the consequences. We trapped her in her form a few days later and fed her to Trevor."
"We did, or I did?" Hermione asked.
"Well, I knew what you were doing and didn't stop you, so I'd say we."
Hermione thought for a moment. "Did I kill many people?"
"I'm not certain. You were in several fire fights, and people you fought died. I'm not certain how many were primarily due to you. I only know of three that you killed for certain, including Skeeter."
"Is all that erased, do you think?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know if it's erased or if I've started a new time stream. If you mean to suggest that my soul would not be scarred if the other time line was erased, remember that it came back as it was, the good and the bad."
"And you're worried that I'll reject you," Hermione stated. She paused and then said, "Actually, knowing you, you feel I should reject you, that you don't deserve my love."
"It was one thing to share my life with an eighteen year-old who had grown to that point with me," Harry said. "Is it wrong for me to expose a more innocent fifteen year-old?"
Hermione wanted to answer that question immediately, but she didn't. She thought about it from all the angles she could think of. Finally, she said, "It's certainly not wrong for you to be concerned. You're right, I am the same person the other Hermione was up until a week ago Friday, but I'm already different than her. She was torn between you and Ron. I can see that she was torn because you didn't encourage her, even once. Harry, as soon as you asked me, it was like my sight cleared up. I had been repressing most of my feelings for you for the last year or so. I guess I wasn't wrong to do so; you weren't ready then, any more than Ron is now."
She looked at Harry. "When did the other Hermione lose her faith in the Headmaster?"
"A few weeks after his death, when she realized how poorly he had prepared us to face Voldemort without his backup, and how much time he had wasted that year when he could have been preparing me, if not us." Harry looked at Hermione. "Do you know he stripped the restricted section of books that could have helped us? Any book you see that's noted as 'LOST'? It means 'Location: Other Storage/Tower' -- there's a storeroom under the Ravenclaw Tower where they keep the most sensitive books."
Hermione's jaw was slack from the shock. Finally, she said. "That's horrible! Hiding books!"
Harry smiled. "Don't ever change, Hermione."
Hermione gave him a mock glare. "Ha, ha. Seriously, Harry. I knew from the spring of our First year that my life was tied to yours." Harry started to say something. "If you say one thing about my 'inner eye', you'll regret it."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry answered seriously.
"Good. The point, Harry Potter, is that I knew I loved you from the end of our First year on, I just wasn't sure how I loved you. Now I know. Don't try to change my mind."
Harry moved and pulled Hermione into a tight hug, and they stayed in that hug for many minutes.
There was still more than an hour before dinner started, so when Harry and Hermione ran into Luna, they all decided to get The Quibbler interview over. Harry repeated most of the information he had about Tom Riddle (other than the Horcruxes), and promised that he had the information from Voldemort himself and other witnesses. Luna was happy with the story, even if Harry didn't want to talk about himself, and agreed to dig in the sources that Harry had written out for her for verification and for further information. He agreed that Luna could ask again later, once the first story had come out.
When they were done, Harry asked, "Do you two know why dress robes were recommended for students Fourth year and above?"
"Maybe there's some sort of formal function after the last Task," Hermione suggested.
"I would think it would be before then," Luna said thoughtfully. "After the Third Task, a number of people from two schools won't feel like having a party."
"In fact, there's going to be a Yule Ball," Harry said. "They'll announce it later this week. Hermione, will you accompany me to the Ball?"
"Yes," Hermione said, smiling widely.
"Luna, Third years can only go if someone Fourth year and up asks. If you don't know many people like that outside of Ravenclaw. . . ."
"Would you think Ronald would be interested?" she asked hopefully.
"I don't know," Harry lied. "If he's not. . . ."
Luna looked at Harry. "I am trusting you a great deal, Harry Potter."
"I know that," Harry agreed. "I promise you, I'm not trying to trick you or prank you. I really don't want to see you hurt."
"Is that why you just lied about Ronald?" Luna asked.
"Yes," Harry admitted. "I really suspect he doesn't like you, but I was planning on checking with him before asking around." Luna cocked her head to the left and looked at Harry, who went on, "I think if you got together with Ron, you would be hurt, but since you want it, I'll ask him for you."
"So you care about me, even though you don't know me, and also respect me," Luna said.
Harry took off his glasses and looked into Luna's wide eyes. "I know you, Luna Lovegood," Harry said. "You and Hermione look at the world, and magic, in almost totally opposite ways. Neither way is the right way all the time, but together one of you will always be right. Should you ever agree on anything, only a fool would fail to take your opinions into account." Harry smiled and put his glasses back on. "While I am often foolish, I would hope I am not a fool."
"I also do very foolish things," a shaken and thrilled Luna said. "I do not believe trusting you is one of them, and I trust you will explain all of this to me when you can. Yes, I would like to go to the Ball, even if Hermione here is going with Prince Charming."
Harry grinned and said, "I wasn't raised to be charming, just sincere."
Hermione frowned, and then asked, "When did you see that musical?"
"I'll tell you about it sometime," Harry said.
"I'm sorry?" Luna asked, a bit lost.
"It's a Muggle musical play, about what the Muggles call fairy tales," Hermione explained. "When Cinderella complains to the Prince about his cheating on her, he says 'I was raised to be charming, not sincere'."
"Ah," Luna said. She looked at Harry and considered. "Will you be able to tell me a complete story after the Tournament?" She looked at the parchment in front of her and added, "And I don't mean for publication."
"I hope so," Harry said.
"Then please sound out Ronald for me, and if he says no, I trust you to find me an escort. I would very much like to go."
I know I've seen the idea of Dumbledore hiding books like he did here in another fic, but forget where. The 'Muggle Musical' is called 'Into the Woods'.