The bond that once protected Harry is now killing him by inches. Can it be stopped and who will be able to shoulder the burden?
Author's notes at bottom.
'The harsh light of morning' was an apt description of what Harry felt as he scrubbed the night's residue of sweat and tears from his eyes. Squinting at the bright light, he shoved his glasses on his face and proceeded to dress himself haphazardly in his cousin's castoffs, shortly thereafter showing up in his aunt's kitchen to make breakfast.
Frowning mightily at the hand holding a skillet of eggs, he took deep breaths to try and calm the trembling. Attempting the Occulmency exercises that he had picked up from Mentalism: A Definitive Guide helped slightly, though he wasn't sure how long the quieting of the tremors would last.
The shaking of his hands, nervous twitches- small signs of the mental breakdown that was fast approaching, he figured. They had appeared the first night of his return to Privet Drive. The first blank spot in his memory was the next evening. He had hoped that this wasn't' Voldemort-related, and it seemed for once that it wasn't- which left him with no idea why he had the shakes, unless he was coming down with Turpett's or Tourettes or whatever.
His only bright spot had been the two visits from Tonks, and he called them bright spots only in retrospect. The first had been only two days after his arrival back at the Dursley's, and was memorable for the screaming match they had within the shelter of a silenced room. They had bellowed at each other about Sirius, thrown books, cursed each other's name and come within a hair's breadth- or so it had seemed- of pulling out wands and doing it right. Finally, though, they had collapsed crying in each other's arms, comforting and being comforted until they had woken up still tangled together hours later. Neither of them had spoken of that day, even during Tonks' second visit.
Almost a week later the metamorphmagus had arrived on his relatives' doorstep with a backpack full of goodies and had sat him down and talked. No, not talked- they discussed things, like adults Tonks had assigned herself the duty of catching the Boy-Who-Lived up with what was happening in the Wizarding World, and he was relieved to find out that Voldemort was laying low for the moment, which they assumed was because of the setbacks at the Department of Mysteries. The Daily Prophet was going on about how he and Dumbledore had been telling the public about You-Know-Who's return for some time, just as if they had always been on his side. 'Saviour of the Wizarding World' or not, he had a few harsh things to say about the fickle press' infatuation with him.
Owl post had been light, as Hermione was on a short trip with her parents, and Ron's letter had been full of speculation about Quidditch season and complaints that the Granger's trip was being made to Bulgaria, and 'we both know what that means'. Harry decided that it meant that Ron had turned into an obsessive loon, and he mentioned as much to Tonks. Unsurprisingly, being a woman who could look like your heart's desire had attracted a stalker or two in her time at Hogwarts, and the junior Auror was able to point out how quickly Ron needed to be sorted out, and Harry made plans to talk with the youngest male Weasley in person, but a note telling him not to worry had to suffice until he could see him.
Tonks had brought one other thing in her bag of tricks- a stack of books on DADA, a few Occulmency texts, Auror training notes, and a few tomes on higher-level Transfiguration and Charms that he'd need to study in sixth and seventh year. He had been so overwhelmed by the gift that he had swept the Auror up into a hug that lasted until her watch softly chimed, telling her she was almost late for work. She had Apparated out soon after, though not quick enough for the slight blush that graced both of their cheeks to fade completely.
Harry's reverie was cut short by the arrival of his uncle and cousin at the table. Although it was easy to track the two obese men's travels through the house, the dark-haired boy was so used to hearing their clumping and stomping that he tuned it out. Quickly taking one last deep breath, he grabbed the pan and made his way to the table to begin serving.
The-Boy-Who-Lived slumped bonelessly onto the cot in Dudley's second bedroom, trying desperately to calm the tremors that wracked his body. He was breathing hard and sweating from doing yardwork under the summer sun, and the glass of water he was allowed did little to cool him off or calm him down. At first he had been okay, letting the dullness of trimming Aunt Petunia's privet hedges lull him into mindlessness, but soon after his thoughts had returned to the Department of Mysteries, the battles, the look on Sirius's face as the Veil caressed his face-
Harry's eyes flew back open as he stared sightlessly at the ceiling. Sucking in a deep breath, he noted that it looked a little less bright than it had been earlier, and a glance towards the battered clock at his bedside confirmed that an hour had passed while he was in some sort of quasi-dreamland.
Sighing, he levered himself off the bed and sat down at the book opened on the desk. Forcefully shoving aside the thoughts and memories, pointedly ignoring the self-abuse his mind tried to scream at him, he picked up the thread of Mentalism's author, hoping that the next page would contain an exercise that would keep this from happening again. After a moment, he was so engrossed in the book that it took his Uncle Vernon three bellows to rouse him to cook dinner, hours later.
In the intervening time between waking and cooking his hands had been steady. The rhythm of the words as he read and the laser-sharpness of his concentration kept him from really comparing, but he would have been surprised to see how calm and normal he looked, even considering his frail and thin frame.
Harry was just finishing up his meal (half a chicken breast, dry, and twenty-two peas), when he finally reconnected with the outside world, paying enough attention to hear what Dudley was saying.
"-ot, anyway. Can't we kick him back to that murderer godfather of his so I can have my room back? Maybe he'll kill him, and we'll be rid of Harry, just like his parents!"
Any peace Harry had achieved in the past few hours evaporated as the green-eyed boy slammed his violently trembling hands down on the table and snapped his eyes up to meet with Dudley's. Unlike the time, three summers ago when he blew up his Aunt Marge, there were no shattering plates, no broken glass. As Harry's eyes slid from his cousin's and rolled into the back of his head the house shuddered under an onslaught of wind. The rumble of approaching storm clouds sounded higher than usual, and had the Dursley's been able to tear their eyes away from their mistreated charge- now thrashing violently in the middle of a seizure, floating free above the linoleum- they would have seen ebony stormclouds swirl out of nothingness above their home, blotting out the sky over Little Winging.
Harry had not said a word during dinner, and the cry that escaped from his mouth contained no intelligible words, though it seemed the catalyst for the bright aura that flared into life around the pale, writhing boy. Tendrils of power whipped out, and just as one reached towards the ceiling, it exploded in a hail of splinters and slate shrapnel as a bolt of lightning met the figure of the Boy-Who-Lived. For a moment his eyes dulled, and something that resembled a smile flitted across his lips before the corona flickered and died dropping him to the melted remains of the floor even as the soft staccato pops of apparition were drowned out by the crash of thunder.
Even without his glasses, Harry was able to figure out he was laying in the Hogwarts infirmary within two seconds of waking- there was just something about the smell of the place, and the light from the high windows near the roof always blinded him when his eyes popped open. He tried to groan as he struggled to sit upright, but all that passed his mouth was a rush of air. A hand reached out and grabbed his glasses, even as Harry took mental stock of his body. Nothing seemed to be broken, although now that he was fully awake, his body happily let him know that trying to sit up had been a bad idea. In fact, breathing hurt. A wince and another soundless expellation of air after he discovered that his heart beating against his ribs hurt. The raven-haired boy was trying to decide if trying to lay back would be more painful than sitting up when the sound of soft footsteps rushing towards him.
Glancing towards the sound he saw Madame Pomfrey and- Fleur Delacour?- making their way towards him quickly. Just as Harry was debating the merits of braving the pain and collapsing back in bed, Madame Pomfrey closed to within speaking distance.
"Mister Potter! I don't know how you got into this state, but you shouldn't be trying to sit up! Fleur, lower my favorite patient back down and help me look him over."
The always industrious Hogwarts Healer directed Fleur in settling Harry onto his back before whipping out her wand. Closing his eyes, Harry noted absently that the silver-blonde woman's proximity didn't seem to be causing the mind-numbing arousal he expected, perhaps because he hurt so damn much his other brain was sleeping. His breath hissed between his teeth as Madame Pomfrey prodded a particularly painful section of his chest, and he locked eyes with the quarter-veela, who had an odd, vaguely distracted look on her face.
The mediwitch continued rattling off a series of spells and explanations that Harry let wash over him, especially once he was assured that his voice would be back in just a few days despite having been 'savaged like a wolf's dinner', according to Pomfrey. Once he had been pronounced nominal by the experienced medic, Fleur had been dispatched on one or another errand and Madame Pomfrey had bustled off, leaving the clank of bottles the only sign of her presence.
The enforced calm of his healing-potion-induced haze did not last long, as Harry couldn't help but notice that the tremors in his hands had picked back up. Every muscle twitch and spasm, however small, caused pain to flare along raw nerves. A small twitch or two had signaled Fleur's departure from the infirmary, a few more after Madame Pomfrey took off, and they were steadily getting worse. Unable to say anything to call attention to himself, Harry could only wait and hope that someone came to check up on him soon. The door of the infirmary swooshed open, and the green-eyed boy blinked in relief at the footsteps making their way towards him. Except... Fleur was walking awfully slow, wasn't she? Finally, a head popped into view, and Harry's hopes plummeted.
The white-haired head of Albus Dumbledore bobbed into view as the aged wizard made his way to a seat next to the bed. Unlike normal, the Headmaster's pale blue eyes lacked their usual twinkle, and his demeanor was stern, like a grandfather about to administer a lecture to a particularly obstinate grandchild, though fatigue lined his face.
Harry slowly and painfully levered himself to a sitting position, noting the lack of either of the women, and the general silence. Apparently this was to be a lecture. He met Dumbledore's eyes for a second, and the older man began to speak.
"Harry, I am gravely worried about what happened last night. You seem to be increasingly incapable of controlling your anger and your power. I have been dealing with Oblivating witnesses, rebuilding Privet Drive and, most importantly, with Minister Fudge to try and contain the fallout from this explosion. Voldemort or not, he is threatening to have your wand." Fatigue had made Dumbledore far more short-tempered that Harry could remember him being, but that knowledge did not help quell his burgeoning anger at the Headmaster's next sentence. "I cannot understand what could possibly have caused you to do this, there just is no reason. You-"
The pale boy could no longer hide the shaking of his limbs, nor did he care to. In his anger he locked eyes with the aged warlock and was amazed to see him pale, his eyes darting around Harry, reading something the younger boy could not see. Dumbledore's wrinkled skin sagged slightly as he once again locked his eyes to the emerald orbs of the violently shaking boy.
Harry made a noise that was supposed to be a growl, but bubbled forth like a death rattle. His anger at the undeserved scolding seemed to snap against a magical barrier, and that sizzle could be felt by the robe-clad figure just a few feet away. Harry's mind was so clouded by anger that he did not note the female voice screaming "Legilimens!", nor the now-audible clash of magical forces. The pale, shaking boy did feel his sight graying, and instead of the aged face of Hogwarts' Headmaster, he was looking at a featureless plain as far as he could discern. Before he could do anything, however, he felt something cover him, like a blanket being draped over his head. What shook him, however, was the voice that echoed through this dreary place.
Goddammit Albus Dumbledore, I cannot believe you would do this to my child! My Harry just needs to be protected, and you all but send him off to do battle for you. My Harry should be taught how to defend himself, and you don't check to see that Severus has done it right! I'll tell you what to do to help my Harry, just you watch!
A sphere appeared in Harry's sight, dropping swiftly to the floor, where it disappeared like a stone into a pond, only without the ripples. Moments later, a white light flared from all around him, and Harry was struck on how like a Pensieve this seemed- there were figures becoming clearer...
"Lily, I need some blood for the ritual." -a blur- James Potter, sloppily dressed, kissing his wife hurriedly. "I know the wards aren't done, so get Harry away from here- I'll hold him off." Voldemort was a elegant man, greying hair at the temples, but his eyes were madness. greenlightbutidieasifinishtheritualyoubastard. Voldemort points his wand at my baby, my Harry, green light moving so slow-whyamistillherewaitthere'smybodygottagetinfrontofthespellmustprotectmyBABY!-
Gods, what hit me? Wait, there's Harry in Albus' arms- at PETUNIA'S? You don't know what they'll do there!
A sharp-faced Petunia scowling at her from the doorway "I don't care how good you do at that- school- of yours, and I don't know why Mummy and Daddy do either. You're nothing but a nonhuman FREAK!" She screamed at my Harry as I watched him try to block the frying pan with his arm, and it hits with a CLANK as my Harry gets shoved back into the wall and that bastard child Dudley and his friends scream "FREAK!" bellows the huge Vernon Dursley throws my baby in the cupboard under the stairs and locks the door as it swings shut behind my baby Harry as he drinks the potion and crosses the fire to confront Voldemort's twisted head on the back of Quirrel's as my power shelters my baby and he burns him as the scar throbs and he tries to fight Voldemort with the golden beam connecting their wands and God my baby, don't push yourself, let Mummy take care of you oh there I am with James and I love you SO MUCH my Harry as you snap at Dumbledore but you shouldn't do that again as Nymphadora talks to you I leech off of her strength so I can hold you back as your anger and depression flare as fatpigDudley says "-kick him back to that murderer godfather of his so I can have my room back? Maybe he'll kill him, and we'll be rid of Harry, just like his parents!" no no only as much as a baby can handle stop my baby my Harry my love must protect my baby my angel my-
"'Arry! Snap ouz of et!"
Already-abused ribs shrieked their complaint as Harry sucked in a gigantic breath, the air burning against his abraded throat. He made a sound that sounded like he was gargling a lung and slumped, held only by Fleur's inhumanly strong grip on his shoulders. As his head flopped forward from a particularly violent shake, he noticed that Dumbledore was looking pale and shaky himself as he was being hovered over by Madame Pomfrey. The Headmaster's eye caught his own emerald ones and the ancient wizard shooed both Healer and apprentice away for a moment before gathering himself enough to speak.
"Harry, I must apologize to you again- this has surprised me beyond anything I could imagine, and I have made several- no, many- wrong assumptions, and we- I- must reap what I have sown." Dumbledore shrunk in upon himself slightly, coughing into his hand. "It seems that the protections I believed you had- your mother's sacrifice- was intended to be something different. I am afraid that the protections that shelter you from Voldemort may be causing you problems. Unfortunately, we will need time to decipher what is truly happening. Let us rest, Harry, and we will speak of it in the morning. Shall we?"
The pale boy nodded gratefully as Dumbledore laboriously made his way to his feet and began shuffling to the door, made slow even beyond his great number of years.
As the purple robes swept out of sight Harry let his body flop back to the bed bonelessly, heedless of the pain from complaining muscles. Mum, he thought, and the warmth that swept through him eased his aches as he slid down into darkness.
First, I'd like to thank Phoenixgod2000, also known as jon3776 on FFnet for the idea I have taken and adapted. Also, consider this a plug for 'Redempton of the Black Sisters'- add it to your reading list if you haven't already.
This will be a 'Brides' derivative, and will involve Harry and more than one female. No, I'm not telling you who it is. Careful reading of the first few chapters will help you out there. Comments are always welcome, as this chapter has only been lightly beta'ed for content, not for grammar, Americanisms, or canonical validity.