Dumbledore finds his powers beginning to decline, while Voldemort's are growing. Harry discovers new powers, but will the Wizarding World accept them? The Prophecy is revealed to all, but is it o...
Over the last several years, Harry had spent a significant amount of time in the Hospital wing at Hogwarts. As such, once he regained consciousness, it took him only the briefest of moments to realize that he was definitely not at Hogwarts.
To start with, the air in this room had a distinctive stale smell to it, as if it hadn't seen fresh air in a long time. The room was also dimly lit, with the only light coming from a pillar of sunlight that streamed into the small room through the window over Harry's head. It was almost the complete opposite of the bright and clean Hogwarts hospital wing. He fumbled around on the nightstand next to his bed for his glasses, but he gave up after his short search did not find them. While his vision wasn't that good without his glasses, he was still able to make out some of the details of the room.
The room he was in was very Spartan. The walls were all raw unfinished wood and this room had no roof. The walls seemed to have been put in, almost as an after thought, to divide the living space and provide some measure of privacy. He could see right up to the open ceiling that was composed of rough-hewn beams that intersected with a larger beam that ran down the apex of the ceiling. It reminded Harry of an old hunting lodge that he had seen on the TV at one time.
With a sudden start, Harry realized that if he wasn't at Hogwarts or Grimmauld Place, then he was most likely, in serious trouble. Death Eaters had been coming to kill him before he had blacked out. That he was still alive, in Harry's mind at least, could mean only one thing. Voldemort, despite what he had said to Harry in there mental discussion, wanted the pleasure of killing him.
Suddenly, Harry heard heavy footsteps approaching his door. With barely controlled panic, Harry glanced around the room desperately looking for anything that he could use as a weapon. The best he could find in the short moments that he had was a heavy ceramic chamber pot. /This will have to do/, Harry thought as he quietly padded across the room and stood with his weapon raised, where he hoped the opening door would hide him.
No sooner was Harry in place, than the door began to creak open. He waited patiently for the person's head to appear. A second later, a balding head, that Harry suspected was Wormtail's, appeared and he struck. With a satisfying crack, the chamber pot shattered on the man's skull. As the man stumbled past him, Harry dodged around him and bolted down the hallway. An angry shout of, "son of a bitch!" echoed behind him as a bolt of red spell light sailed over his shoulder. He was almost to the end of the hall, when a second spell hit him in the back and sent him spinning to the floor. Harry was out cold before he even landed.
When Harry awoke this time, he found himself securely bound to a hard wooden chair by a length of coarse rope. He was pleased when he felt the familiar weight of his lost glasses once again perched upon his nose. However, when he opened his eyes, he found his glasses short one of the lenses, which meant that he was now viewing his world in a distracting sort of double vision.
Cautiously, so as not to alert his captor that he was awake, Harry took stock of his surroundings. The air in his prison still smelled stale, but it was now punctuated with the smells of coffee brewing, cigarette smoke, and sweet smell of rain that was blowing in through the only open window that he could see from his current vantage point. His earlier observation that he was in a hunting cabin, was confirmed when he saw the head of a large buck mounted over the flagstone fireplace. He heard the soft clinking of silverware on dishes and he was certain that he was no longer alone.
Harry's captor, having realized that he was awake, crossed the room, pulled a chair from the nearby table, and sat down facing him. He took a drink from the mug of coffee he held in his shaking hand before he set it down on the table. Carelessly, the man popped his lit cigarette back into the corner of his mouth. The quick motion caused a trail of ash to fall from it and land on his white T-shirt. He distractedly brushed away the fallen ash on his shirt, which left a black smudge next to an existing brown stain. The man casually leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. Wisps of blue smoke from his cigarette circled his head, but beyond a slight squinting of his eyes, the man's face was expressionless as he stared at Harry.
Harry sat in silence as he regarded the man in front of him. Even with the distorted image that his broken glasses provided him, it was apparent that his first impression that Wormtail was holding him was incorrect. True, this man was roughly the same height as Wormtail, they both were balding, and they both were rather thick around the middle. Both men also had the same awkward shuffling gait when they walked, but that was where the similarities between the two ended.
To begin with, this man was older than Wormtail, if Harry had to guess, he would have put the man's age at about sixty, give or take a few years. While Wormtail was a pudgy little man, his captor seemed to carry all of his weight in a large potbelly that protruded from under his ratty T-shirt and hung over the waistband of his trousers. Oddly enough, the rest of the man's body appeared rather drawn and thin, and his shoulders and head drooped forwarded as if they were being pulled down by the great weight that he carried in his stomach. Harry almost laughed aloud when he realized that this man resembled a giant pear with legs.
After several uncomfortable seconds where the two of them just sat staring at each other, Harry finally summoned up all the bravado that he could. "Voldemort must really be scrapping the bottom of the barrel these days if is taking the likes of you into his ranks." Harry spat, as he smirked and leaned back in his chair as far as his bindings would allow him to. "What did he promise you once he's won an all-you-can-eat buffet and an unlimited supply of Weight-Loss Potions?"
The man just continued to stare at him, his blank face betraying no sign that Harry's taunt had bothered him at all.
Harry, who had decided that if he could anger his captor, he might make the man slip up and give away some information about where he was being held, or what was going on, continued to taunt him. "What's the matter? Oh, I know, without your master here, you don't even have the brain power to form an intelligent response."
After hearing Harry's last comment, the man leaned forward in his chair and took a deep drag off his cigarette before he flicked the butt across the room, into the flagstone hearth where a small fire was burning. Harry was about to continue his taunts, when the man blew a puff of cigarette smoke directly into his face, which made Harry's eyes water and caused him to cough uncontrollably for a few seconds.
"Shut your mouth you little twat," the man barked in a low gravelly voice. "I'm no Death Eater and I don't work for them either."
Having finally gotten his coughing under control, Harry glared skeptically at the man as he resumed speaking.
"From what I know of Death Eaters, which isn't much mind you," the man continued, "they are nothing but a bunch of bigoted tossers, with too much time on their hands, and a flair for the dramatic. Although, I think I may have to revise my opinion of them."
"What do you mean by that?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Well, apparently they wanted you dead for whatever reason," he answered. "While I have only known you for about an hour and a half now, I find myself starting to agree with them." For a moment, it looked like he was about to continue talking, but instead he burst out into a loud coughing fit. He managed to get himself under control after a few seconds, and with one last hack, followed closely by a disgusting snorting sound, he turned from Harry and spit a large wad of mucus across the room to land with a sizzle, in the fireplace.
Harry managed to control his revulsion, and he waited patiently as the man took a quick sip of coffee to clear out the remaining tickle from his throat. "Sorry about that," he said, once he had composed himself, "but as I was saying, I risked my neck in order to save your pathetic life. Normally, this would leave someone in your position feeling somewhat grateful. What thanks do I get instead though? You smash me over the head with a chamber pot, which lucky for you was empty, and then proceed to insult me in my own home. I should've just left you there to die."
Harry wasn't sure how he felt about this strange man who, at the moment, still had him tied to a chair. Despite his natural trusting instinct, the near constant string of disappointments and betrayals that he had endured since his return to the wizarding world had caused him to become much more cautious. While it was true that he was still alive, and this stranger must have had something to do with that, he couldn't help the feeling that at any moment, Voldemort and his Death Eaters would come strolling into the room to kill him once and for all.
"Sorry," Harry said. Unfortunately, in his current state of confusion, his statement came out more like a question than he had meant it to.
"Hmpf," the man snorted as he fished around in his pocket for his cigarette pack, "sure kid, whatever you say."
"No, I mean it," Harry retorted quickly, with much more conviction in his voice this time. "I don't know what happened, but before I blacked out, I remember that Death Eaters were attacking Privet Dr. I expected to wake up safe with friends or, not at all, if help didn't arrive in time, that is. While I don't know who you are, I am alive because of you, so, thanks."
The man regarded him for a moment as he attempted to light his cigarette with the cheap plastic lighter he had produced. He gave a barely perceptible nod of his head in response, and taking a deep draw off his now lit cigarette; he leaned back in his chair and exhaled.
"So," Harry began tentatively, "who are you, and why did you help me?"
"Right to the point then aren't you," the man answered Harry. "Well, that's a good thing I guess. If there is an elephant in the room, it is always good to point it out."
Harry's brow wrinkled in confusion. He had no idea what this man meant by that.
"Anyways," the man continued, "my name is Augustine Binns." He saw the look of mirth dancing in Harry's eyes after he had given his name, and his voice took on a flinty edge as he fired right back. "However, if you ever call me anything but Gus or sir, I will stab you in the eye with a fork."
"Yes sir," Harry answered seriously. It was clear to him that Gus's name was a sore spot to him. He silently made a resolution not to try the man's patience by pushing that particular button. "Are you related to Professor Binns from Hogwarts?"
Gus gave a silent snort as he responded, "Yes I am. Distantly anyways, but that is neither here nor there."
Harry nodded in agreement and waited for Gus to continue.
"I rescued you, because I had a debt that I needed to repay. Your mother Lily helped me out a long time ago. In return, I promised her that I would repay the favor by watching out for you if she was unable to."
Harry's heart leapt into his throat at the mention of his mother. With barely contained excitement he asked, "You knew my Mother? What was she like? Can you tell me about her?"
"Yes," Gus answered as he stood up and walked to the kitchen. "I knew your mother." He returned a moment later with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand. He took a slug of the whiskey straight from the bottle as he sat back down. "I promised Lily that I would tell you if she was unable to, so here goes. Please don't interrupt me though. It's a bit of a long story, and I don't want to repeat myself."
"I was born in early June 1935. I had a relatively normal childhood, if such a thing exists that is. My parents loved me and coddled me while I was growing up. I was their only child, and they considered me a blessing. They had tried for many years for a child but it wasn't until they were both in there late 50's that they had me."
"What does any of this have to do with my mother?" Harry asked impatiently.
Gus' eyebrows crept up his forehead as he looked at Harry in irritation. "What did I just say about interrupting me?" Harry looked momentarily ashamed of his outburst as Gus continued. "It is important that you hear the whole story. Now, if you are finished with the outbursts, I'll try this again.
"Now where was I? Oh yes, both of my parents were wizards. As such, it was their dream that I attend Hogwarts. They were constantly telling me bedtime stories about what a magical place it was, and I couldn't wait until it was time for me to attend.
"What I didn't realize at the time, was that as my 11th birthday approached, my parents were becoming concerned. Apparently, I wasn't really displaying the traits that were common to most magical children. I had caused some minor accidental magic, but it wasn't much and my parents began to fear that I was a Squib.
"One day, I overheard my parents fighting about it, and I got pretty upset. I had been raised on stories of Hogwarts since I could remember, and the whole idea that I would not be able to go was too much for me to handle. My parents eventually found me crying in my tree house. They realized that I had overheard them, and they tried to assure me that they would love me the same even if I were a Squib.
"Things were better around my house after that, but I was still nervous. I knew that regardless of what they said, my parents were going to be disappointed if I didn't go to Hogwarts. I don't think that I will ever forget how happy I was when I finally did get my Hogwarts letter. I could tell that my parents were much relived as well.
"Now, you'd think that it was all down hill from here right? You'd be wrong though. When I got to Hogwarts, I had a real hard time. Even the simplest of spells were nearly impossible for me to perform without an unreal amount of practice. It was a very hard year for me. The other kids picked on me because I couldn't keep up with them. When the year was over, I had failed all of my classes, with the exception of History of Magic and Herbology since these two didn't really require the students to use magic in them.
"When my parents received my grades, they were beside themselves with worry. They couldn't understand it. I was a bright kid, but for some reason, I just couldn't perform magic that well. My grades were accompanied with a note telling my parents that if my grades didn't improve in the early part of my second year, that the Board of Governors would have no choice but to remove me from Hogwarts.
"My parents, being the good people they were, did everything they could to help me, or to find a reason for my poor performance. They took me to a long line of healers and mystics to see if there was a medical reason for my problem. However, none of them could find anything wrong with me. As the date for my return to Hogwarts drew nearer, my parents became increasingly desperate for a solution.
"Finally, my father called in a favor from a friend of his who worked in the Department of Mysteries. He arranged for me to be tested by them. If anyone could figure out what was going on, my father reasoned, it would be the Unspeakables. I went for the testing, and everything seemed to be fine. My father's friend said that they would have the results in just a few days time."
Gus paused for a moment, as if he was reliving a particularly painful memory, and took another pull from the bottle of whiskey that he had been absently passing back and forth between his hands while he spoke. "Two days after I was tested by the Unspeakables, both of my parents were dead and I found myself an orphan. Since I had no living relatives, I was quickly made a ward of the state."
"What happened to them?" Harry broke the silence by asking.
Gus had apparently forgotten his request for silence as he told his story, because he quickly answered him without any trace of the annoyance he had displayed earlier. "Apparently, it was a robbery gone wrong, or I guess I should say that it was supposed to look like a robbery gone wrong."
"What do you mean by that?" Harry asked quickly, before Gus could remember his no interruption policy.
"My parents were murdered. My family was poor you see, they were honest and hardworking, but they rarely had two Knuts to rub together. Anyone who knew them would have realized that they didn't have anything worth stealing. That didn't stop a burglar from breaking into our home in the middle of the night though. The story I was told, was that my parents caught the man going through their things, and he killed them both as he made his escape."
"But you don't believe that do you?" Harry asked.
"At first I did. But when I found myself, not in an orphanage like I expected, but locked in a cell within the Department of Mysteries, I realized the truth." Gus paused again to take another drink of whiskey before he continued. "The Unspeakables found something in the tests that they ran on me. It was something that they didn't really understand, and unlike magic, it was something that they couldn't regulate. Because of that, they felt that they needed to contain it, almost like an outbreak of Plague, and study it. They killed my parents, so that when I disappeared, nobody would be any wiser. With my parents gone, it became an easy thing for them to make me disappear. All they had to do was swipe my file from the Ministry Archives, and Obliviate a few people, and it was like I had never existed."
Harry was shocked at what he was hearing. True, his own experiences with the Ministry hadn't been particularly good, but what Gus was talking about made them sound down right evil. "How could the Ministry do that and what could they have found in your tests that would make them feel that they had to do something that horrible?" he asked cautiously.
"First off," Gus answered, "it wasn't the Ministry per say. It was the Unspeakables. While they are part of the Ministry, they have an amount of autonomy that no other department has. While most officials high up enough in the Ministry are aware of the questionable activities that the Department of Mysteries engages in, they turn a blind eye to it. From what I've seen during my time as a prisoner there, not much happens in the Ministry without the say-so of the Heads of the Department of Mysteries. I guess you could say that they are the power behind the throne, so to speak.
"Now," Gus said sternly as he got back to his story, "shut up and listen to me. I don't want to have to repeat any of this." He waited until Harry relaxed back in his chair before he continued. "Apparently, during a scan of my magical core, the Unspeakables found something intertwined with it that they couldn't explain at first. After some research, they discovered what it was, and they orchestrated the deaths of my parents to get control over me.
"In time, I was told what the thing that was interwoven with my magical core was. It was the representation of a developing Psychic gift. While the Unspeakables had, throughout the years, had the opportunity to study muggles who exhibited some form of this mental ability. I was the first wizard that they had found with this particular gift. During the thirty or so years I spent as a prisoner there, I wasn't the last. There were at least two others that were discovered, and became unwilling guests like me.
"During the many long years that I spent being poked and prodded like a lab rat, the Unspeakables eventually made some progress in the study of my 'condition'. They discovered that a person's magical core, when combined with a 'mental core' like the others and myself had, worked against each other, if you will. Like each was fighting for dominance over the other.
"They tried to explain how it all worked to me, but all their scientific jargon just confused me. That is, until one of the older Unspeakables explained it to me in layman's terms. He said that it was best to think of it as a carriage being pulled by two horses. One horse represents your magical core, while the other represents your mental core. The carriage isn't going to go very far if only one of the horses is pulling. This was the reason why I had such a difficult time producing magic at Hogwarts. While the two different abilities operate independently of each other, they are still connected on some basic underlying level. They found, through much trial and error in their carefully controlled experiments, that as they developed my mental core, magic became much easier for me to perform.
"For thirty years or so, I endured my captivity. Most of the time I was treated well enough, it was almost as if I was a treasured pet to some of them. That all changed in the early 1970's though when a new Unspeakable started work with us. His name was Augustus Rookwood, and he was about as foul a man as I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my life. He considered the others and me abominations, and he went out of his way to torment us. He eventually went too far with one of his 'experiments' and the other two like me were killed."
"Rookwood is a Death Eater," Harry spat out in disgust; "my friends and I fought him in the Department of Mysteries just a few weeks ago!"
"Yes, yes, I'm sure you did," Gus replied as if he was appeasing a small child, "but for the last time, would you please stop interrupting me."
"Now, as I was saying. Rookwood murdered the other two and I knew that he wouldn't be happy until I was dead too. Since I knew what he had planned for me, I was able to use my developing abilities to avoid each of his plots. I finally realized that I wouldn't be able to stay one-step ahead of him forever. I realized that if I was going to continue to live, I needed to escape.
"With my developing abilities, I thought it would be a simple enough thing to get away. I was actually surprised at the time, that I hadn't thought to break out of my captivity prior to then, but as I said, before Rookwood arrived, I had always been treated well, for a lab rat of course. When I finally made my break for freedom, it was almost painfully easy. That is, until I set foot outside the Department of Mysteries itself." He paused in his speech for a moment and, setting down his bottle of whiskey, he gestured with his right hand towards what appeared to Harry to be a small blue ink smudge on Gus' left forearm. Satisfied that Harry saw the mark that he was pointing to, he continued his tale.
"This little tattoo on my left forearm was the Unspeakables' insurance policy. I don't know when they put it on me, but it's been there for as long as I can remember. It is, or was, actually a multi-use portkey, and it's a real fine piece of work too. It is activated only under specific circumstances, in this case, my leaving the Department of Mysteries. As soon as I stepped outside, it activated and I was immediately transported back to my locked cell. The Unspeakables, especially Rookwood, were none to happy about my attempt to gain my freedom. I wasn't let out of my cell without a guard for a long time after that incident. In time, as things have a habit of doing, my routine went pretty much back to normal. The tests and experiments resumed, but I was never given the same level of freedom that I had prior to my attempted escape.
"Things continued like that for quite a while, until one day in early 1978, I new Unspeakable was assigned to work with me. Her name was Lily Evans." Gus paused briefly and glared at Harry, as if he expected the boy to interrupt the story now that he had finally heard his mother's name mentioned. To Harry's credit, he was able to restrain the urge, although Gus could tell by the look on his face that it was taking a good deal of his willpower to remain quiet.
"Anyway," Gus continued, "that's when I first met your mother. She was fresh out of Hogwarts at the time, so she was full of idealistic energy and ready to take the world by the throat. She was also different then any of the other Unspeakables that I had met before her. She was smart, but I guess all of them were in their own way, and she had a sense of humor. I had almost forgotten how to laugh before I met her. However, most important to me, was the fact that she treated me as an equal. I wasn't an experiment, or a case number to her. I was a person. On more than one occasion, she even stood up to Rookwood on my behalf. It wasn't long after she started working there, that we became friends.
"Lily had gotten engaged to your father just prior to her starting work at the Department of Mysteries. During our many talks, I got the impression that she didn't have any real girlfriends of her own. She always spoke of your father and his marauder friends with something approaching envy in her voice, but I never once heard her mention her own friends. I found that odd, she really was a remarkable young woman.
"Anyway, I guess I became sort of a surrogate 'girlfriend' to her. She would go on and on about china patterns and other trivial things that I couldn't have cared less about. However, I listened and answered her back when I thought she wanted me to. It was all fine with me though, after so long, I was just grateful to have someone to actually talk to."
Gus stopped briefly to take another shot of whiskey and he carefully watched the faraway, glassy eyed look that had come over Harry's face at the mention of his mother. After a moment, he saw Harry's eyes brighten, which he took for a sign that the boy had returned to the present and he started speaking again.
"Well, things continued along like that for the next two years or so. Then one day, unexpectedly, your mother comes up to me in a complete panic about something. It was early 1980 I believe, and she had only recently learned that she was pregnant with you. She was excited as anything at the prospect of being a mother, but like any expectant mother, she had a habit of over reacting about minor things having to do with the pregnancy. It took me a while to get her calm enough to talk about what had upset her. Once I did, I was certain that I was going to hear something simple, like she was worried that the pants she had worn to work were too tight, and she was afraid that they were going to hurt the baby.
"However, once she was done speaking, I remember wishing that it was something that simple. She had been working in her lab on some experiment or another when, just for the hell of it, she decided to run some tests on the baby to be sure that you were all right. All the tests came back fine, except for the last one that is. She couldn't even tell me why she had run that particular test, but in the end, it didn't really matter. She used an experimental test that she had been developing, with my help, over the last few years. The test detected the same mental ability that I was imprisoned for, present in your growing body.
"To make matters more complicated, the security oaths and vows, that all Unspeakables had to take in order to begin work in the Department of Mysteries, prevented your mother from discussing her work with anyone outside the Department. Despite wanting to desperately, she couldn't even talk to your father about it. I was the only person that she could turn to for help, and beyond listening to her; I couldn't offer her much in the way of assistance. I told her that I would help in any way that I could, but I explained about the magical tattoo that made it impossible for me to leave that place. She broke down in tears again, and ran off.
"After that day, things changed between us. Lily never talked about it, and she acted very different around me after that night, she was almost cold towards me. While she had a life, a husband, and friends outside of that place, I didn't, and it was very difficult for me. For several months, things continued to worsen between us, until I wasn't even sure that we could be called friends any longer."
Gus abruptly stopped talking and he exhaled loudly as he paused to light another cigarette. He took another long pull off his whiskey bottle, which was now half-empty, and glanced over Harry's shoulder as he searched his memories for the end of this particular story.
"Finally," Gus began again, "after a few months, your mother woke me in the middle of the night."
Harry wasn't certain, but he thought that he heard a slight tremor in Gus' voice as he started speaking this time, like this was a particularly painful memory for him to remember.
"Lily was in an absolute frenzy that night, and I will never forget it as long as I live. She was very pregnant at the time, and she was only a day away from the maternity leave that she had scheduled. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were wild as they flashed about my cell. She was rambling about Prophecies and how she needed my help and how I was the only one who could help her. I was about to point out exactly how little help I could be to her, when I was little more than a prisoner at the moment. She beat me to it though. Before I could even begin to protest, she had pulled her wand and muttered something I couldn't hear. My left arm tingled briefly, and just like that, your mother had dispelled the Tattoo Charm that was keeping me prisoner. She really was amazing when it came to Charm work.
"I finally was able to get her calm enough so she could tell me what was going on. She said that a Prophecy had just been given about Lord Voldemort, and a child who was going to be born right around your due date. Needless to say, your mother was certain that you were the child that this Prophecy mentioned. She was also convinced that Voldemort was going to be coming after you. Lily said that she and James were going into hiding under the Fidelius Charm. While she trusted the Charm, it wasn't just her life that was at risk. She felt that she needed to take other precautions.
"She said that if the worst were to happen, and she and James were killed, that she would need someone to look out for you. She needed someone that she trusted, but more importantly, she needed someone who would understand the difficulties that the psychic talent that we both share, would cause for you as you grew up. In her mind, I was the only person who could possibly give you the help that you were bound to need. I think that beyond the threat that this Prophecy posed for you and your family, she was just as concerned with her son being a prisoner because of what he was, as I was forced to be.
"Without so much as a second thought, I quickly gave your mother my promise that I would look out for you if she were to die. After that, she hugged me and shoved a pouch of galleons into my hand. She told me to wait at least a week before I made my escape, so that she wouldn't be implicated in it. I promised her with a silent nod of my head, and without another word, she was gone."
Gus took a long pause after this, and rubbed both of his hands roughly across his unshaven face. He reached for another cigarette but, finding his pack empty, he settled for taking another long sip of whiskey. After several long seconds of silence, which was only broken by the popping of the logs that still burned in the hearth, Gus stood and walked over to the fireplace, where he tossed the empty cigarette pack into the flames. "And that," Harry heard him mutter softly, "was the last time that I saw my friend."
Neither man spoke for several tense minutes after that. Harry was trying to process what he had just heard, but beyond the fact that he was apparently much farther from normal than he had originally thought, he wasn't having much success. It was, after all, a lot to take in all at once. While both Sirius and Remus had told him stories about his parents, those had been almost exclusively about his father. This was the first time that he had really heard about what his mother had been like as a person.
"Where have you been all this time?" Harry finally broke the silence by asking. He heard Gus' footsteps approach, as the man came back across the room and sat back down facing Harry.
"I'm sorry that I wasn't here for you before now Harry," Gus said simply. "When I first escaped, I tried to stay close to keep an eye on your mother, but with the Fidelius Charm that you all were hiding under, there wasn't much I could do. I felt that your mother was perfectly safe, but I couldn't say the same for myself. I was certain that the Unspeakables were only one-step behind me all the time. Therefore, I fled England for a time.
"I had never had the chance to do much living prior to that point. While I had survived, it had been as a prisoner. I took to my freedom with relish, and there was nothing that I didn't want to experience. The world was my oyster back then. Unfortunately, I got mixed up with drugs somewhere along the line. Opium was my downfall, and I spent the better part of ten years chasing that particular dragon. When I finally got clean, I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten all about your mother and the promise that I made to her.
"About three weeks ago I saw something that made it all come rushing back to me. I was passing through a small Wizarding Enclave in Ireland when I stopped into a pub for something to eat. One of the men in the bar was reading an article in the Quibbler. It was an interview that you had given to a Rita Skeeter about your life to that point. I borrowed the paper once he was finished with it, and I spent the last few days tracking you down. It was lucky that I found you when I did too. Had I been even five minutes longer, you most certainly would be dead now."
"My friends are going to be looking for me," Harry said simply, and then with a rising sense of panic as a second thought occurred to him. "Voldemort! His Death Eaters will be looking for me too. We have to get out of here. It isn't safe! They could be here at any moment." His eyes had begun darting around the room as he struggled against the ropes that held him, as if he expected Death himself to kick in the door at any second.
Gus did not seem very worried to Harry. He even chuckled softly at his antics before he answered him. "No one is going to be looking for you, I promise. You are perfectly safe here."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked with barely controlled frustration.
"It's really very simple," Gus said with a broad smile. "You are dead, and no one is going to spend time hunting for a dead man." He grabbed a folded up newspaper off the table and tossed it onto Harry's lap, where it teetered briefly before it fell to the floor.
"What do you mean I'm /dead/?" Harry asked in confusion.
"It's in the paper," Gus replied. "Read it for yourself." Harry glanced down at the copy of the Daily Prophet that lay at his feet and gasped in shock as he read the large banner headline that said /Wizarding Britain mourns the death of the boy who lived/.
Harry gasped in surprise when he read that and struggled mightily against his bonds to get a better look at the newspaper. Finally, realizing the futility of it, he asked, "Gus, could you please untie me now?"
"But, you aren't tied up at all." Gus answered with a big grin.
"What?" Harry responded as he looked down at the ropes wrapped around his body, only to find that they weren't there. "How did..?" he began to ask, but stopped and grabbed to the paper and began to read.
/Today, the Wizarding World mourns the death of Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Early yesterday morning, young Mr. Potter was attacked and slain, by a group of Death Eaters at his relatives' home in Surrey. Since his return to the Wizarding world five years ago, Mr. Potter had been an inspiration to many, and a beacon of hope in the dark times that have returned with the reappearance of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named./
Harry paused from reading the article and glanced up at Gus who had been talking while he read. "I'm sorry, but I wasn't listening," Harry said to Gus.
"Oh, well I guess I can understand that," Gus responded with a dry chuckle. "After all, it isn't everyday that you find out that you are dead. I can see how that might be distracting. I was explaining to you about the ropes. You see, one of the things that my mental powers allow me to do is to manipulate others minds into seeing and feeling things that aren't really there, like I did with you and those ropes. I also did something similar to the two Death Eaters who broke into your relatives' home. For all intents and purposes, they saw themselves kill you, hell; they even felt your blood splatter on them when they did it."
"And, I can learn to do that as well," Harry asked. "You said that we have the same ability, right?"
"Possibly," Gus answered, "but I doubt it. You see, the thing about it is that, unlike magic, where anyone can learn a spell, the psychic abilities are unique to each person. In other words, while you may be able to do some of the things that I can do, you will have your own individual specialty and group of abilities to call on. Once you are ready, of course.
"While most of my abilities are centered around mental manipulation, the test that your mother did on you before were born indicated that your powers were centered around your ability to influence your body's metabolism"
"What does that mean?" Harry asked, very curious to know the answer.
"Well, I have my suspicions, but you definitely have the ability to speed up your body's healing process. When I got you back here a few days ago, your hand was bleeding badly, when I got back with something to dress to wound with, the bleeding had stopped. I hadn't been gone more than a minute, and the next morning when I checked on you, all traces that your hand was injured at all, had disappeared.
"We can discuss all of this later though. Now, I need you to make a decision. I can train you in your psychic abilities this summer, as I promised your mother I would. However, to do that, I need you to stay here with me for the time being. That means that your friends, and enemies for that matter, must continue to believe you are dead. We will be safe this way, as no one will be out searching for you. When the summer is over, I promise that I will take you back to Hogwarts myself.
"Think about it carefully. I never had a choice, but you do. If you want, I will take you back to your friends right now. However, I hope you decide to stay, even though I am frankly terrified of what may happen as a result."
What do you mean by that?" Harry asked in confusion.
"It's simple really," Gus responded. "Me, and the others like me, were nothing much more than highly functioning Squibs before we started to develop our psychic abilities. To put it simply, if you have done even a fraction of the things that the paper claims you've done..." He broke off suddenly and paused for a few seconds as he searched for the right way to express himself. "Well, let's just say, that if you develop your skills to a point where they aren't inhibiting your magic any longer, you should to be able to give both the Dark Lord and Dumbledore a run for their money."
/The power that the Dark Lord knows not/, Harry thought distractedly as he made up his mind, /this could be it/. "I'll do it," Harry told Gus firmly. "I want to stay and train this summer."
"You're sure," Gus said as he stood and looked at Harry closely. "It won't be easy, I can promise you that. In fact, I can almost guarantee that you will end up hating me before the end of the summer. Many of the things that I will be making you do won't make any sense to you at the time. In fact you'll probably think that I am being deliberately cruel."
"I don't care," Harry said quickly, "whatever I need to do, I'll do." /It may be my only chance to get out of this mess alive/, he added silently to himself.
"Alright," Gus answered as he extended his hand to Harry, "we'll start work first thing tomorrow morning. Your room is just down the hall. You should get some rest, you'll need it." Without saying another word, Gus turned and headed down the hall to his room.
"Gus," Harry yelled after him, "Can you tell me more about my mother tomorrow?"
"No," Gus answered as he turned to face him again.
"What?" Harry asked, surprised at the response, "but I just want to know more about her."
"You'll find," Gus answered, with a hint of laughter in his voice, "that we very rarely get what we want in this life. I, for one, would love to be able to see my prick when I take a shower," he paused, and used his hand to indicate his large pot-belly, "but thanks to this guy here, it's not to be. Now, get some rest. We'll talk more tomorrow." Without another word, he continued down the hall to his room.
For a long time that night, Harry sat up, staring into the dying embers of the fire and, wondering if he had made the right choice. Only time would tell.