Harry decides to go proactive in his Sixth year, with help from a tutor and his friends. In this chapter, we meet the tutor.
Chapter 01 Monday July 22, 1996
Harry Potter looked at the grandfather clock in the up-stairs hallway and sighed. 12:25 In thirty-five minutes or so, the magical chimes Dumbledore had installed would sound and Harry would have to talk to someone.
He was not overjoyed by the prospect.
Less than a week after he arrived back at Privet Drive, Uncle Vernon had locked him in the cupboard again. Around midnight, Mad-Eye Moody had swept into the house and had scared all three Dursleys. The up-shot was, nearly every afternoon at 1:00 someone would visit Harry.
As far as Harry was concerned, the good part about this set-up was that all the Dursleys were out of the house every day between 1:00 and 4:00, and the visits were usually over by 1:40. The bad part of the situation was the 20 to 40 minutes he had to spend talking to people.
The first two weeks of the summer, Harry had been continuously depressed, no matter how that term might be defined. Harry had glanced at letters from Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Remus, the twins, and even Neville, and then had tossed them away without answering. He had glanced at his O.W.L. results, allowed himself a mild feeling of pleasure, and then repressed it. He sent one copy-quill note to his friends telling them he had done well, but little else.
Harry was not totally non-functional, even if he slept from 10:00 at night until 9:00 in the morning, fighting through the nightmares. Being depressed, Harry had decided, at least allowed him to rest. N.E.W.T. classes would not be approved until late August, so Harry had no summer work. In the late mornings, he caught up on his Muggle reading (from the local library -- it had been his request to borrow books that had caused Vernon Dursley to go into a rage), mostly mysteries, science fiction, and some non-fiction. He had now even started in on Tolkien. After his visitor left, Harry would go into the basement to use the equipment Uncle Vernon had rented for Dudley to train with over the summer. Harry would hit the heavy bag, jog on the tread mill for an hour, and use whatever time might be left to weight train and hit the bag again before showering. Harry was working out hard; he knew he would have to be in good shape for the next few years.
Harry had also decided hitting the bag, working out his frustrations, was what had kept him from slipping from a mild depression into something worse. He refused to admit that the visitors helped as well. He was still depressed, but not to the extent he had been.
No, as far as Harry would admit, the visitors were necessary evils; necessary to keep Uncle Vernon in-line and everyone out of the house for at least three hours.
The worst visitors were strangers or near-strangers, members of the Order of the Phoenix who treated Harry as a hero. Harry knew they meant well, but they were hard to take, and he usually had to prod them to get them to leave after 40 minutes or so. He had hoped Moody or Tonks would stop by, so that Harry could ask them about Auror training, but so far they hadn't. Despite everything, Harry still hoped to train as an Auror.
The hardest visits had been with Remus Lupin.
Remus had visited four times over the past two weeks. The first two times had been very strained indeed. Neither really wanted to get into their feelings about the late Sirius Black. Remus' third visit had occurred after Dumbledore's one and only visit. Harry had to admit to himself that he had behaved very badly towards Dumbledore, and the only letter he had written that summer, other than a request for more information on the N.E.W.T. classes and the note to his friends about his O.W.L. results, had been a letter of apology to the Headmaster.
When Remus had shown up the next day, Harry had finally let his anger and grief out, which triggered Remus' as well. Both had needed the catharsis; neither mentioned it in the last meeting. Instead, Remus had gone over Sirius' will. As it had been attested to before his conviction, it still stood. Since Sirius had never married, and James Potter was dead, nearly all of the Black family fortune went to his cousin Andromeda (Tonks' mother) or Harry. Harry also found out that there was a Potter Trust, slightly smaller than his share of the Black Trust, which he would gain income from once he reached 17, and which he would control at age 21.
And so, slowly, Harry had partially recovered from the series of traumas that had hit him since the Third Task at the end of the his Fourth year. He had even recovered enough to start sketching a form letter to his friends, apologizing for not writing sooner.
As the clock ticked closer to 1:00, Harry thought about three of his correspondents: Hermione Granger; Luna Lovegood; and Ginny Weasley. In very different ways, Ginny and Luna were both good friends, although of course not as close to him as Hermione was. And they were all, he admitted to himself, attractive girls.
After the fiasco with Cho the previous spring, Harry had not been sure he wanted to risk being more than friends with any girl any time soon. Harry had realized by the end of the term that he needed his friends, and Ginny and Luna, along with Neville, had demonstrated that they would stand by him just as Ron and Hermione would.
Harry also had to admit that, when he wasn't sleeping or moping about, he was thinking more and more about girls in general, and those three girls -- Hermione, Ginny, and Luna -- in particular. He wasn't certain what he should do about those feelings, especially when those thoughts weren't totally centered on one person. He decided he should really think about his feelings while he waited for the next visitor.
As he sat, Harry admitted to himself that he had had some thoughts about Hermione before he had fallen for Cho, and he had also noticed that Ron and Hermione might be interested in each other. Harry also admitted he had been too embarrassed by Ginny's crush and then his own infatuation with Cho to think of her as anything more than Ron's pesky sister. Riding the train back the month before, he had finally noticed Ginny as the attractive girl she was. It had taken him most of the year to realize that whatever Luna was, she wasn't 'loony' in any sense of the term.
None of the three were stunningly beautiful, although Ginny was a classic cute 'tom-boy' type, Hermione was the classic very slim 'girl-next-door,' and Luna looked like a very oblivious Muggle waif-fashion model. (None of those types were apparently well-liked in the wizarding world, or at least none ever appeared in the glossy soft-core magazines Seamus had smuggled in the last two years. They did show up in Dean's Muggle lingerie catalogues, but not in the soft-core Muggle magazines he traded with Seamus.)
Like Hermione, Ginny and especially Luna had shown depths to Harry that made him want to become more than just their leader. He wanted to be their friend. He wasn't hoping for more from any of them -- Ginny had shown herself interested in many boys, and might not want to be tied down to one boyfriend, and Harry doubted anyone could anticipate Luna. And of course Hermione and Ron sometimes acted like they were already a couple, although as far he as knew they weren't. Harry was hoping just to know all three of them better. Maybe that could be enough, maybe he could at least become their real friend. Maybe. . . .
The sound of Westminster chimes filled the air at #4 Privet Drive. Neighbors would have thought that strange, as the door chime merely sounded a minor third 'Ding-Dong' when they rang.
"Boy!" Aunt Petunia yelled, "Answer that door before the neighbors see whatever freak is checking on you early!"
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry Potter answered, his voice dull.
Harry was not sure who would be worse, someone he liked and respected enough to answer their questions, like Remus Lupin or even Tonks, or some virtual stranger, who would gaze at Harry with admiration.
The chimes which Dumbledore had installed to identify magical visitors rang again. "Boy!" Petunia Dursley screeched.
"I'm getting it!" Harry yelled back. "Yell at me when I don't answer fast enough, yell at me when I run to get it; Shit!" he muttered as he swung the door open. "Yes?"
This was not a wizard Harry knew. "Yes?" Harry asked again. This was in many ways a nondescript wizard. Tallish -- a shade over six foot -- and very broad and muscular, but a wizard who could easily pass for a Muggle. The wizard simply stared at Harry, so Harry stared back. The wizard had a hard expression, and rather cold dark blue eyes. "What?" Harry demanded.
The wizard snorted and brushed past Harry without a word.
Harry blinked, and followed the wizard into the kitchen.
"Get out of my kitchen!" Petunia demanded as soon as she saw the wizard. "You freaks can force yourself on us, but. . . ."
"Leave," the wizard said.
"What? How dare you. . . ."
"Leave, for at least three hours." The voice was deep, but unemotional.
"No! Why. . . ." Petunia got no further before the wizard had pulled out his wand and petrified her.
"I have no time to waste on you, woman," the wizard said simply. "I will be here every afternoon this week. On Saturday, Potter will leave with me. You will either leave after noon, or I shall petrify you every afternoon. After today, the choice is yours."
The wizard turned to Harry. "Leaving with you, am I? First I heard about it!" Harry said, almost with a snarl. "Just who do you think you are? And she would have left in a few minutes. Why are you here early?"
"My name is Tomas Zoric. I am your tutor. This week, I am going to drive the basics of Occlumency through your thick skull, if that is possible. Snape thinks it unlikely, but then he is a lousy teacher. If you prove incapable of learning, then the Order will have to decide on ways of babying you along." Harry flushed with anger. "If you can learn, and learn some patience, then maybe you will earn some degree of autonomy." This was all said somewhat flatly, as if both Harry and Zoric were unfeeling, unthinking robots.
"No way," Harry said.
"Then you want to die," Zoric stated, "and you don't care who else dies."
"Of course I care. . . ."
"This is real life, Potter. You survived your second, third, and fourth encounters with Voldemort because you have more power than you know what to do with, because Voldemort was weak all three times, and because of plain dumb luck. You survived your fifth encounter because Dumbledore was there to save your selfish, incompetent arse. You are unlikely to be so lucky next time." Harry scowled at the wizard.
"Dumbledore should have either risked teaching you last year, or called someone like me in. He made the mistake of asking Snape, who is very skilled but, like I said, a poor teacher with a grudge against you. And, be honest, did you even try?"
"Who do you think you are?" Harry yelled.
"I am what you need, Potter," Zoric answered, undismayed. "I don't hate you, like Snape. I'm not tied up with you, like Dumbledore. I don't love you, like Remus. . . ."
"You know Remus?"
The first real expression, one that seemed to acknowledge a slight slip, crossed Zoric's face. "Yes. I was in your parents' year at Hogwarts, in Ravenclaw. I didn't like your father or Black; I didn't really dislike them, either. I wasn't in love with your mother or worship her from afar. Remus and I are friends, and yes, I know he's a werewolf. Now, do you want to learn, or do you want to be a victim?"
"Are you Muggle-born? You look like you fit in."
A slight frown almost formed, and then disappeared. "If you must know, no, I am Pure-Blood. The Communists drove many of us out of Yugoslavia in the later 1940s and early 50s. My parents came to this country, where I was born." Zoric's brows beetled and his expressionless voice took on a nasty tone. "Enough delays. Agree to work, or tell me to go. I have no desire to bandy words with a brat."
"Don't call me that!" Harry said in a petulant voice.
"Then don't act like one!" Zoric mocked. "Decide! Fighter or victim?"
Harry sighed. "Fighter." He nodded towards his aunt. "Does she have to stay petrified?"
"Yes. Maybe she'll learn not to dither. It's a trait you need to suppress as well." Harry frowned. "Come along, Mister Potter."
Two and a half hours later, Harry managed to stagger out of the basement to his room while Zoric set Petunia free, and then left after having a stern talk with her. Harry took a quick shower, and then sat on his bed to think about the day's events.
Snape had obviously chosen the 'throw them in the deep end and see if they swim or drown' approach to teaching him Occlumency. Harry had, in that sense, drowned. Zoric had taken him through the process in a more step-by-step process, with full explanations.
It had still been very hard work, but Harry felt he now knew what was expected of him. And, best of all, after four more days of practice, he would be leaving.
Harry mentally kicked himself. Leaving for where? He had forgotten to find out.
Tuesday July 23, 1996
Petunia fled right after she fed Dudley an early lunch. Dudley bolted his lunch and went to a nearby gym to pound the heavy bag, leaving Harry to clean up. Harry had finished his meager allowance of food, and, for the first time since he had come to Privet Drive that summer, he still felt hungry. He ate the left-overs and placed the plates in the dishwasher.
Promptly at 1:00 (Zoric had agreed to come at the usual time), the magical chimes rang. When Harry opened the door, Zoric hurried him down to the basement to practice without listening to Harry's protestations that he needed to ask questions. All Zoric said was, "Later."
Just over two hours later, Zoric called a halt. "Well, Potter, either I'm even a better teacher than I thought, or you must have somehow learned something from Snape after all."
"Thanks, I think," Harry replied tiredly. "Can I ask questions now?"
Zoric seemed to think about it for a moment. "Very well. We should go upstairs; you need some juice or water."
"Are you going to tutor me after this week?" Harry asked as they climbed the basement stairs.
"Yes. I will be supervising all your courses this year."
"Really?" Harry asked, surprised.
"You intend on trying to be an Auror, yes?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered.
"So, you will be taking Potions, Charms, Defense, Transfiguration, and what are your fifth and sixth courses? Herbology, perhaps?" Sixth and Seventh year students only took five to seven courses. Harry knew that he would need five N.E.W.T.s of some kind to apply for Auror training.
"Snape agreed to let me take Advance Potions?" Harry was surprised again. Normally, Snape only accepted those with O O.W.L.s, and Harry had managed the second of three levels, the E.
"A number of students, inspired by recent events, and, to be honest, inspired by you, have expressed a desire to become Aurors."
"Really?" Harry interrupted.
"Really," Zoric replied drily. "You, Weasley, Macmillan, Bones, Boot, Turpin, and Finch-Fletchley all achieved E's and yet wish to try and become Aurors. A Mister Longbottom achieved an A, and also wishes to try. Granger and Zabini also have expressed interest, but they both achieved O's. Snape has been persuaded to teach a class devoted to the potions portion of the Aurors exam."
"There's an Aurors exam?" Harry asked.
"Yes. For those who do not achieve the E or O N.E.W.T. in any of the important areas. They allow one major area, other than Defense, to be made up that way. You need a total of five E and O N.E.W.T.s, and one must be in Defense. Besides that, a candidate either needs, or needs to make up, Transfiguration or Potions. Beyond that, you need the other N.E.W.T.s in general. They favor Charms, Creatures, Muggle Studies, or Basic Magical Medicine, but will accept any of the other areas. So, if you can make five E or O N.E.W.T.s, including Defense and Transfiguration, you can make up for the Potions by the exam."
"What else?" Harry asked, cursing Umbridge for interrupting his discussion with McGonagall on the subject.
"There is also a physical fitness exam." Zoric sat in a kitchen chair without relaxing. "I will both teach and train you, Potter. If necessary, I will help the others to some degree as well. Now, what is your optional area? Or areas."
"I haven't decided yet," Harry admitted. "I don't have the background to do Runes, let alone Arithmancy, and obviously I can't do Divination."
"True. That leaves Herbology, History, Muggles, Medical, and Creatures."
"Are you an Auror?" Harry asked.
"Do you always have a problem sticking to the subject?"
Harry frowned, but then relented. "Normally, no. This summer, yes."
"Sleeping more than usual, but irregularly. Tired even when you wake up. Eating problems, too little in your case, unless you're binging and puking. Trouble concentrating. Disinterest in nearly everything. Mood swings. Right?"
Harry sighed. "It's getting a little better."
"You're depressed, Potter. Not surprising."
"So I should snap out if it, right?" Harry said in a flat voice.
"No." There was a pause, then, "Look at me, Potter."
Harry looked up. Harry realized he was looking at the darkest blue eyes he had ever seen. They seemed to bore into him without triggering either his Occlumency sensitivity or training.
"You can help yourself work your way out of it, but it's not easy. No one can 'snap out' of true depression. The first step is to understand you're depressed and that you don't really want to be."
"Potter, if you're mildly depressed, we can probably help you work your way out of it. It won't be easy, but it's far from impossible. If you're more severely depressed, then there are some effective Muggle medications to help you along."
"Muggle?" Harry asked.
"Muggle," Zoric said firmly. "They are slightly more effective in the long-term, and you don't want it to leak out you're seeing a psyche healer unless you really have a serious problem."
"To answer your questions, I trained as an Auror with your father and Black. I was an Auror, and worked as a hit wizard for the three months before Voldemort's disappearance, until 1984." Zoric frowned very slightly at the memories. "Just about the first thing Fudge did after he took over was cut back the budget on MLES, especially the Aurors. I left early, in part because I was disgusted and in part because I thought they needed to keep some of the older Aurors they were going to force into early retirement. Since then, I've been the only full-time magical private investigator in Europe, setting up my own agency."
"And now you're my tutor?"
Zoric shrugged. "My oath to the Order puts me where I am needed. I am needed here."
"And at Hogwarts."
"And at Hogwarts," Zoric agreed.
"How are they going to explain you?" Harry asked, curious. "Are you going to be the new Defense teacher?"
"No," he answered, "Remus will be returning, at least for the year, although it took some arm-twisting to get the Ministry and the Board of Governors to agree. They'll be sending out information on the Wolfsbane potion and other security measures to the students' families. I will be 'explained' as a security consultant. And I will likely fill in for Remus if he has a bad transformation."
Harry seemed to be musing about this. "Question?" Zoric asked.
"Can I really fight this depression?" Harry asked.
"Do you feel depressed now?"
"Well, no," Harry admitted.
"That's a good sign. One problem will be how to keep you busy enough to be engaged, without overwhelming you. The other problem will be that when you are alone, or not busy, the depression will come back. Is there anything that makes you happy?"
Harry shrugged. "Flying used to help, but since Umbridge stole my broom. . . ."
"Dumbledore has it. He was going to return it when you came back to Hogwarts, but I think you should get it Saturday."
"Where will I be going?" Harry asked. "I forgot to ask yesterday."
"That is still under discussion. But flying is a good idea, and that strikes Grimmauld Place. I have several ideas. Hopefully, some of your friends will be allowed to join you for at least a few days. Have you been writing them?"
"Not really," Harry answered, hanging his head in shame, although he was a bit pleased to know he did not have to return to the Black house. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and Neville had all written three or four times, but Harry had only returned that one short note.
"A pair of assignments, Mister Potter," Zoric stated. "Draw up a balance sheet, outlining reasons for and against your taking Herbology, History, Basic Medicine, Creatures, or Muggle Studies. Also, write a short note to each of your friends stating that you will not be here starting Saturday, but are not certain of your next location. However, do inform them that you will write next week, and, if you wish, state that you might be able to invite them, or at least any of those who were with you at the Ministry, to stay with you either for your birthday or for part of August. Acceptable?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered.
Zoric looked at Harry carefully. "Is this how you normally dress?"
Harry flushed. "Yes, sir. You see. . . ."
"I understand," Zoric said. "For your knowledge only, then, we will leave Saturday morning and go clothes shopping. It's time to smarten your image."
"But. . . ."
"No buts, unless you enjoy dressing like that."
"I don't," Harry said fiercely, "but I don't need charity!"
Zoric gave him a long, penetrating look. Finally, he said, "I shall keep a tab. When you turn seventeen, you are welcome to pay me back. I shall also try to get you postal access to your own money after this weekend. Acceptable?"