Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Hollow


by kinoth 3 reviews

Harry is a little more damaged than everyone believes, but for once it works to his advantage.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Harry, Tonks - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006-11-28 - Updated: 2006-11-29 - 8249 words

A worried Nymphadora Tonks knocked for the fifth time on the door of #4 Privet Drive. Another thirty seconds and I'm breaking the door down. Dammit Harry!
As if summoned by her mental cry, the lock clicked and she was presented with a zombified version of the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry's face was still set in an unnaturally calm mask, though the emerald eyes were dulled from lack of sleep and his ink-dark hair looked like the aftermath of a tornado. He regarded her a bit sleepily, the chill aura that had surrounded him yesterday nonexistent though he looked no happier or more personable. Or maybe he's just not a morning person.
After a hardly-welcoming noise that might have been a greeting, Harry wandered back towards the kitchen. Shutting the door behind her, Tonks followed and slumped down in the same seat as yesterday. Her professional eye noted that Harry's gait was less fluid, and she bet the boy hadn't slept a bit. She nodded to him as he offered a cup of tea, and watched as he slid his glasses up to perch on his head while he scrubbed the sleep from his eyes with the heels of his hands. Finally though, Harry seemed to pull himself together and gave the now-blonde Auror a searching look. "So, no one detected my magic?"
Tonks rolled her eyes dramatically and sighed. Already with the questions. "No Harry. Despite all the wards on this place they still cannot detect wandless magic for some reason. McG talked my ear off about wards and how they detect magic use. Apparently if you don't use a wand, it can't be tracked." She sipped at her tea thoughtfully- just the way I like it, how'd he know? "So no one detected your... issues."
There was a curve to Harry's lips that couldn't quite be termed a smile. He raised a finger to point at the living room. "So no one detected me using magic last night?"
Turning her head, Tonks froze, and then whirled to her feet, sweeping the long tresses she wore back into a short spiky style to keep the hair from her eyes.
There were still a few items of interest- the block of unmelting ice-encased lamp and the three-legged table- but otherwise the room had the same surgically-clean feel, same tacky bric-a-brac, same horrible upholstery on the couch. Blinking, she whirled back to the Boy-Who-Lived, who met her gaze placidly as he sipped his tea.
"How- what- how?" She finally had to settle for flapping her arms at the spectacle behind her.
Harry slowly gained his feet with a regal grace before finishing his drink and calmly dropping the teacup from his hand. Tonks jumped slightly as the porcelain shattered on the linoleum and couldn't help but stare as he knelt and placed a hand over the remains, furrowed his brow and with a fierce "Reparo!", watched as the shards melted and pooled together into a blue and white puddle before reforming back into the teacup he had dropped. Picking up the cup, Harry tossed it to the stunned junior Auror. Tonks bobbled it a few times before losing her grip and letting the cup plunge to the floor.
Emerald eyes gleamed as the cup settled into his outstretched hand. "I had not tried that yet." He mused softly. Glancing up at Tonks, who was still looking for the broken teacup at her feet and coughed into his hand. As she boggled at the cup he showed her, he spoke.
"I will answer your earlier questions with a question. Guess who got an hour's worth of sleep and learned some wandless magic last night?"
Wincing, Tonks pulled her wand from a specially-sewn pocket in her cargo shorts. "How about I'll thaw out the lamp and fix the table and you sit and have another cup of tea before you collapse on me?"
Harry nodded gravely, ignoring Tonks' eye-roll as both suited word to deed.
"There, done." Tonks plugged the lamp in and switched it on to make sure it worked. She turned to walk back to the table, but stopped when Harry stood once again, hand out in a stopping gesture.
"Wait, I want to try something. May I try an expelliarmus on you?"
"You sure about that?"
"Yes. I need to test the limits of what I can do."
Warily, Tonks nodded, but not before arranging a chair to fall into and holding her wand loosely. Harry stood in the kitchen and aimed, palm pointing at the young Auror. Squinting in concentration, Harry bellowed, "Expelliarmus!"
Instead of the jet of light and force that both wizard and witch expected, a burst of light flared from Harry's hand as blood and flesh sprayed across the room, one chunk hitting Tonks' cheek with a wet splat.
Harry stared at his bloody hand questioningly for a moment before his knees gave out and he fell, cradling his wounded limb to his chest and breathing loudly through gritted teeth. The sharp sound of his knees hitting the floor snapped Tonks out of her daze and her Auror training kicked in. She covered the distance between them in a flash and was prying his left hand loose of its grip on his right arm so she would get to the bleeding wound.
"Oh shit Harry! No, let me see your hand, I need to cast spells on it!"
The green-eyed wizard blinked at her slowly, but allowed her to examine the hand. The palm had been blasted away, leaving a ragged hole from which bone gleamed dully through the welling blood.
A small portion of her mind thanked whoever was listening that battlefield healing was something she was skilled in. One blood-staunching spell and a powerful scabbing charm later, Harry's horrible bleeding had slowed temporarily, with sluggish tendrils of blood escaping from the fragile shield the scab had created over his hand.
Tonks manhandled Harry over to the couch in the living room, and fumbled a catch open on the cargo shorts she wore. C'mon, gotta work before he goes into worse shock. Where is it-there!
Pulling out a small box the size of a deck of cards, she quickly expanded it into the full-sized Ministry Auror Potion Kit and began pulling out vials. Harry was unresisting as she handed him an uncorked container and bade him drink. As soon as the last drops of the murky-green potion drained down his throat, the wounded boy held up his good hand and croaked "Stop. I can feel it working"
"Harry, you need to take a second potion." Tonks argued worriedly.
The raven-haired boy shook his head forcefully, though his eyes were still unfocused. "No, I need a blood-replenishment potion and rest, nothing else." Tonks glared at him, but Harry's eyes snapped back into focus long enough for his chilly gaze to beat back her arguments.
"Goddammit Harry!" she snapped, but grudgingly, the Auror handed him a different vial that was unceremoniously drained.
Harry closed his eyes and hummed thoughtfully, then reopened his eyes to gaze at Tonks.
"I need sleep and I cannot make it up the stairs."
Giving the boy a worried smile, Tonks responded, "I'll take care of you, Harry. Don't worry."
The Boy-Who-Lived's viridian eyes flashed and he gave her that ghost of a smile that was gone even as it registered. "I know you will. Now, please take me to bed, Tonks."
The dark-haired Auror blinked in shock, her face reddening and the roots of her hair lightening to crimson before she noticed that after his declaration, Harry had passed out on the couch. For a moment she could not help but stare, feeling urges to kiss him, slap him, or pour more potions down his throat. Instead, she cast a monitoring charm and sighed when it showed he was simply asleep. Grabbing her wand, she Mobilicorpused Harry up to his room.
Once Harry was settled in his bed, Tonks returned to the first floor and proceeded to clean the blood off the walls, floor and furniture- she had to use the slightly-more-powerful Scourgify Sanguinis to get the quickly-congealing puddles of blood out of the carpet fibers, and even with a specialized spell it took multiple castings to return everything to normal.
"Finally," she sighed as she trudged up to check in on the Boy-Who-Lived. She stopped on the stairs as a tingle raced down her spine. The last time she had felt something like that- Oh God, I can't lose another one!
Taking the rest of the stairs two at a time, she barreled down the hall and swung an arm out to whirl around the doorframe. She turned on the threshold to see the bed and stopped as the air grew thick and the tingle flared into a full-body shudder.
Harry was propped up with a pillow, and at some point he had moved his now-bandaged arm into his lap- all of that seemed perfectly innocuous. What had sent shivers down her spine was the feeling of power that hung like a thick mist in the room- it was so pervasive it had taken on physical form and almost caused the witch to gag. She had felt heavy magical residue like this before- generally after pitched battles with many combatants in a closed space- and had heard stories of huge battles where the magic became physical- huge battles like the ones that brought about Grindlewald's downfall. It was impossible that one person could generate this much power leakage, much less someone who was supposed to be unconscious from blood loss!
Tonks moved back down the hallway a bit, stumbling over her own feet before she put enough space between Harry's room and herself that the heavy atmosphere subsided. Taking a few cleansing breaths, she noticed that a hallway light, mounted in a wall sconce was flickering- she wondered if the electricity running through the walls was interacting with the magic residue. Breathing in deeply, the Auror plunged back into the boy's room, feeling almost like she was pushing through gauzy curtains- it didn't really impede her progress, but there was something besides air resisting her. As long as she held her breath, however, she didn't choke.
At his bedside, Tonks cast another monitoring charm and started in surprise as it fizzled and died. Focusing herself, she cast again and watched as the Boy-Who-Lived's body took on colorations that showed his health. Rather than springing into existence, she noted that the spell fought its way down his body slowly, taking a full minute to accomplish what generally happened within a second. The charm she used showed damage as colors- the red end of the spectrum was healthy flesh, and as the colors moved towards purple the damage increased. Harry's hand had been a deep blue-green when she had first checked him downstairs. Now the wound was a bright yellow with an orange corona- and most of his lost blood seemed to be replenished as well. Potions simply didn't work that fast on serious damage!
Stopping the charm the young Auror sagged and sat on the bed- it had taken much more out of her to maintain the spell than she thought. Wiping the light sweat that sprung up on her brow, she took a deep breath and coughed as the thick magical residue in the room clogged her throat. God, I shoudn't be this tired.
Blinking heavy eyes she watched Harry shift slightly in his sleep. She smiled at the severe look on his face- apparently his new outlook on life carried over when he was dreaming, too. She was so intent on watching him that she didn't even notice when she slipped over the line into sleep.
The metamorphmagus' mind was catapulted from a warm, content slumber to wakefulness in seconds. Unfortunately her cognitive functions were not as quick to reestablish themselves.
"Oh. My. God. Harry? Did we...?"
"You are still clothed."
"...I mean, you're se- what?" Patting herself under the sheet, Tonks' face, hair, and eyes became a flamingly embarrassed red. "Oh. Wait, what're you doing out of bed, Harry? And why am I in your bed?"
The green-eyed wizard began speaking even as he moved to strip off his blood-encrusted T-shirt. "I woke up roughly an hour ago and found you asleep half sprawled across the bed, which seemed uncomfortable. I mobilicorpused you into the bed and attempted to cook something to eat." Balling up the now-ruined fabric, he threw it left-handed towards a wastebasket, missing horribly. "I found, however, that I cannot use my left hand as well as my right, and none of my Charms books cover useful kitchen charms. I hoped that you would be rested enough to assist me in making something to eat."
So formal, so cold, the Auror sighed mentally, worse than this morning. "Sure Harry, just let me see how you're doing." She cast the same monitoring charm that had given her so much trouble earlier and noted that Harry's hand was a bright orange, and his lost blood seemed to have been replenished. "Damn, I'd expect that you'd be in bed for a few days even with taking twice the potions you had, but you're almost back to normal." She cancelled the charm and took his hand in hers. Parts of the scab that she had placed on his hand had already flaked away leaving the bright pink new skin to peek out. Looking up through her spiky hair, Tonks could only boggle. "Can you close your hand?"
"Not completely, the edges of the scab dig in to the skin and hurt. It also seems that I will have to work the muscles as well." He opened his mouth to continue when both of their stomachs gave an oddly symphonic pair of growls. "Perhaps we should attempt to cook, then." Plucking a shirt from his open trunk, the Hogwarts student moved soundlessly out of the room.
Lunch was created at the loss of one of the Dursley's steaks. Harry was unable to cook properly without the use of both hands, and though Tonks tried to follow his directions exactly, her natural clumsiness caused her first attempt to make a flying leap for freedom that ended on the linoleum. She had watched as Harry calmly vanished the meat and cleaned the grease with his left hand as casually as she might use her wand. Finally however, she had turned out decent fare and they had both sat down to eat.
Tonks knew that Harry would stay silent unless he was asked something and figured that this conversation needed to be taken care of sooner rather than later. Preparing herself mentally, she spoke.
"Alright Harry, I took up your bet last night. After the meeting, I had a talk with Dumbledore. I was told that the Prophecy was a secret that he couldn't make public, and that you lived with your family because they offered you blood protection against You-Know-Who, both things that I already knew. You were right that I didn't get much else out of him, though." She paused a moment, then continued evenly, "Now, I can see why you could get irritated with him, and why you think he's keeping too many secrets, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as you're making it out to be. Some of what he's keeping to himself is really sensitive! So I'm thinking that perhaps you're stretching this anger a bit- I mean, I can see where you're coming from, but maybe it's just bothering you so much because everything's so immediate for you." Instead of continuing however, she trailed off as her lunch partner held up his wounded hand.
"Follow me. You may bring your plate, if you wish."
Rising from the table, Tonks followed the shorter figure to something she assumed was a pantry under the staircase. After unlocking the deadbolt he gestured for her to look inside.
A small army-surplus cot as well as a few dusty shelves were crammed into a room smaller than any closet she had ever seen. "What in the world, Harry?"
Rather than respond, he pointed to a small scribble on the wall. When Tonks looked closer, she could make out 'H. Potter's room'.
"This was my room for the first eleven years of my life. My Hogwarts letter was addressed to 'The Cupboard Under the Stairs' at Number Four Privet. All of my clothes are castoffs from my cousin Dudley- and I have never been allowed to go shopping for myself for new ones." Taking her hand to force the stunned Auror along, he led her up the stairs and pointed at his doorway. "Please note that there are locks on the outside of the door, in order to keep me locked inside. The cat flap is so that I can be fed, which is typically tins of cold soup. Now, would you like to see the masonry damage from where the bars were torn off of my window before my second year?" At the Auror's nauseated face, he assisted her down the stairs and into her chair. "I was also physically and emotionally abused, if my living conditions were not enough. Despite my protestations, I was always returned to Privet Drive 'for my safety'. My complaints have never been that I am not treated as the favored son here. They are that I am hardly acknowledged at all unless used for slave labor, emotional or physical abuse, or as a whipping boy for my cousin." He stopped as the metamorphmagus looked ready to vomit and remained silent for a minute, then continued, "This is the least of the things that Dumbledore knows but does not tell anyone. I told you that if you wished, I would share the truth behind any of Dumbledore's secrets that I know. I will hold myself to that promise, but first I need to ask you a question. Do you know any Occlumency or other mental protections?"
"Uh, Harry, I didn't think it was that-"
"Tonks, I believe the point has been made, and I have moved on. Before I tell you a prophecy that Voldemort would cheerfully destroy your mind for, I would like to make sure you are properly protected."
Swallowing thickly, Tonks managed to rasp out her reply. "All Aurors know a little Occlumency, but I'm not all that skilled."
"Then it is your choice if I tell you or not. Both Dumbledore and Voldemort would be interested in your knowing, and both are master Legilimens, but if you wish to know I will trust you with the information." Harry's smooth tones would have been soothing had he not used the same even voice to explain how he had been abused his whole life.
Tonks' eyes were screwed shut as she pressed the heel of her hands against them. "God Harry, don't tell me that this prophecy says you die, flat out."
Harry barked a cold, mirthless laugh. "Prophecies are never that clear. However, when I told you yesterday that facing Voldemort is my destiny, I was speaking of the prophecy. Tom Riddle and I must meet sooner or later and one of us must finish what began that night so many years ago. That is vague enough that you could have come by this information easily." Calmly, Harry continued eating even as Tonks pushed her plate away to stop the bile from rising in her throat.
"God, after everything you just said, how can you eat?" she asked shakily.
After wiping his lips with a napkin, the Boy Who Lived looked at her with the same fathomless eyes. "I have been abused since shortly after my birth. I have faced multiple near-death situations. It is not a new and shocking revelation to me. The only thing of import I see at the present time is that this is more food than I have had on my plate than at any other time I have lived in the Dursley household."
"But how could Dumbledore put you back here every year?" The normally-cheerful witch seemed despondent at the recent revelations.
"My suppositions would likely be biased. Perhaps you could inquire of the man himself for an accounting." Harry turned to face his tablemate more directly. "Nymphadora Tonks- I asked yesterday if you would assist me in defeating Voldemort. Let us not speak around the subject- will you assist me in the destruction of Voldemort and keep my secrets?"
"I'm a member of the Order, Harry- I can't just say yes and then lie to them if you tell me to!"
"Your employer is the Ministry and yet you lied to them about the whereabouts of Sirius at the bidding of Dumbledore; obviously you possess the required skills for falsehood."
Tonks' head snapped back at the baldly stated fact, but Harry's expression silenced any rebuttal.
Lacing his hands just under his nose, Harry regarded his tablemate with hooded eyes. "Do not worry overmuch Tonks. I would not ask you to go against Albus' orders openly. In fact, unless he has forbidden you from giving me books, you can salve your soul with knowing that you are simply assisting my studies. You can easily follow my orders with a clear conscience and no conflicting loyalties."
Despite the seven year difference in age between them, Tonks felt like she had been called back to the Headmaster's office in her first year. Harry no longer felt like a boy more than half a decade her junior. He was an imposing, arctic force.
"But, Harry..." She tried to come up with a stalling tactic, but all that played through her mind was Dumbledore's kindly manner alongside Harry's living conditions. "Yes, I will," she sighed.
"Thank you, Tonks." he murmured. "Now, I need advice and information on a few topics- I have never had the luxury of learning how certain institutions in the Wizarding World operated. Is there a way to enable you to withdraw a specified amount from my Gringotts vault without me having to appear there in person?"
Cocking her head in thought, Tonks frowned a bit. "I don't rightly know, Harry. I just have a basic account there, not even a vault. I know that if you do rate a vault that you are catered to a bit more, but I don't know how to set it up- and you'd probably have to sign something anyhow."
The Boy-Who-Lived's face clouded momentarily. "I wonder how Molly Weasley was able to withdraw money from my account without my written permission, then." He looked faintly pained as he spoke next, which was more emotion than Tonks had really seen from him today. "Tonks, I am uneasy asking you this, as I do not wish to impose to this extent. Would you be able to spare a few galleons for supplies, until the time I can reach Gringotts?"
Tonks could not keep a smirk from spreading across her face, even though the first emotion Harry had shown- unease- wasn't generally considered a positive emotion. "Sure Harry. I got paid yesterday anyhow, so I can spare a few."
Within a heartbeat the placid mask had once again settled over his features. "As soon as I feel able to escape the wards without being detected, I will pay you back. To that end, I will need books on a few different subjects- as an Auror, if you know of specific books, or people who can suggest such, please make suggestions."
"I need information on wandless magic- obviously the common conception that it only happens in conjunction with extreme duress is false. I may not be completely emotionless, but one could hardly claim that my use of wandless magic is 'accidental' or a product of extreme emotion. Perhaps a book on wandless theory, if such a thing exists."
"Secondly, in order to better understand the wards on this house so that I may bypass them at will, I will need a primer on wardings- Bill Weasley will likely be a good source of information, and as he works at Gringotts, he could shed light on how to set up remote access to my funds."
"Actually I could see if he has any books you can borrow- well, that I could borrow."
Harry nodded. "Excellent idea. Now if you find anything in related subjects that would be helpful, this will allow me to begin my research. With a modicum of study, I should be able to visit Diagon Alley within a week to refund your money."
"It's no problem, Harry. Really I need to go into the Alley for some shopping anyhow, so I can get the books and such this evening and drop 'em off on the way to work tomorrow." She paused for a moment in thought. "Actually..." Tonks' voice dropped in volume as she examined the grain of the table. "...I could ask Professor Dumbledore if I could come talk to you- y'know, like talking about Sirius- it'd be a good cover story so I could be around more-" the metamorphmagus trailed off as her eyes filled, and she gave a wet sniffle. Staring at her hands clasped in her lap and lost in thought, she almost jumped when Harry's arms wrapped around her a few minutes later.
"No one has though about how this affected you, have they?" he asked as he pulled her head to rest in the crook between shoulder and neck.
Haltingly, Tonks began to speak as the younger wizard rocked her. "I remember seeing him a few times when I was growing up- he always played the part of the fun uncle, even if he was a cousin or whatever- he was the relative that knew magic, the one who snuck me sips of butterbeer even though mum told him not to, and showed me pranks." The auror looked up at Harry with bloodshot eyes as colors cycled slowly through her unfocused pupils. "Sirius is why I became an Auror- mum always said he was innocent, and I made a Witches' Oath that I'd find out the truth for her- and he was innocent! Merlin and Morgana, Harry, it was so hard for me to find out that the same Ministry I'm a part of put him away without a fair trial. If it hadn't been for Kingsley being a member of the Order too, then I'd've had to lie to my bosses about trying to bring him in." Tears had soaked Harry's shirt, but Tonks continued to rub her face against the fabric as she talked and sobbed brokenly.
"How are you so calm Harry?" Her slight figure shuddered as she inhaled, then spoke again in a almost-inaudible voice. "How did you get past it? I failed Sirius at the Department; I was useless in the battle. I- I can't look my mother in the face anymore."
Harry placed his hands on Tonks' cheeks and pulled her back far enough to look eye-to-eye with her. "You are not responsible for Sirius' death. That responsibility lies on the shoulders of two people- Voldemort and myself. Had I used the brain I was born with, we would not be here grieving, and because of that I will never stop blaming myself. Voldemort is ultimately responsible for Bellatrix's freedom and she is the one who sent Sirius through the Veil. Though I will kill her slowly should I have the chance, I will not be satisfied before Riddle's soul is dragged down to Hell."
Irrationally, the young man's calm explanation only aroused her ire, switching her sorrow to anger. The young woman's eyes flashed dangerously. "That's fuckin' wonderful Harry, but it doesn't tell me why you're like this." she snapped. The next moment she had broken out in a fresh bout of tears and had clutched his shirt in a white-knuckled grip. She scrubbed at her eyes ineffectually and glared at him. "I thought we could help each other out, and you're all Obi-Wan and shite, and I don't know why, and you get all crazy-calm, and the next thing I know you're turning me into your lackey!"
The too-calm wizard gazed at her silently before straightening and taking her hand to lead her into the living room. "Why am I like this? This was my response to my own personal breakdown, just as yours seems to be these manic episodes. If you wanted to know, all you needed to do was ask." He paused as they entered the room before guiding her to the couch. "Let me explain what happened to me that day."
"I had waited to see if my relatives were actually coming home before I ventured downstairs- they had left in a hurry, and I was unsure when exactly they would be back. At the time, I would not have been surprised to see them back because Dudley forgot a favorite toy of his.'
It was hunger that finally drove me downstairs- I gorged myself on food and collapsed on the couch to rest." Harry flicked the television on with the remote and changed the channel a few times. He was obviously reliving and reenacting what had happened in his head, but seemed unaware of it as he continued to provide commentary in the same soft monotone. "I looked through what was playing on the telly and watched mindless entertainment for a half-hour or so, then turned it off and dropped the remote in a half-awake daze. When it hit something, I scrambled to see what I had broken, but it had just bounced off of Dudley's CD player." He pulled the portable stereo into view from over the side of the couch and placed it on the coffee table.
"Now Dudley does have some interesting taste in music, and I was trying to escape all of the thoughts that had immobilized me, so I turned it on. The first song was techno- not something that I'd heard Dudley listen to, but it was light and uplifting and had me smiling as I slipped into that doze on the couch."
Harry paused and fiddled with the knobs of the stereo for a moment, and Tonks- who had been raised in a half-Muggle house- smiled at his facility with the thing despite her concern. He paused with his finger resting on the 'Play' button, staring sightlessly though the machine to the table below.
"Then the second song came on."
Regarding the CD spinning behind the clear plastic screen, the young wizard closed his eyes. "I had not been dealing with Sirius' death well- I had settled into a pattern of ignoring the fact he was dead long enough to perform basic tasks that Vernon demanded, or I was curled up in a ball on my bed weeping and unaware of the world. I had been in a period of ignorance and denial for long enough to eat, and I wanted it to last a little bit longer- a foolish hope, of course."
"I am not ascribing a mystical significance to the song- I do not even know what it is called or who sings it- but the words hurt me. After the first stanza I lashed out and hit the CD player- but I just set the machine on repeat rather than turning it off."
Tonks shifted uncomfortably but froze when Harry's gaze sharpened and pinned her to the couch. "Poignant, is it not? The lyrics are vague enough that they could be about any number of things that have happened in my life. In my fugue state however, the entire thing spoke directly to me and magnified every bit of blame I felt for Sirius."
"I cried, of course. I wept and screamed at myself, I wailed my grief and cut furrows in my cheeks with my fingernails as I tried to punish myself. I am not sure when or how it happened, but at some point all I could think about was death. I had caused how many deaths? Sirius', of course, but there was Cedric, and my mother and father- and those are just the deaths linked immediately to me, to say nothing of every witch, wizard or muggle who died because of Voldemort's Death Eaters. That was the point where I lost control of myself- it is not the first time that I have used accidental magic- I had ransacked Dumbledore's office after he told me of the Prophecy- but it was like my magic was trying to escape my control. I felt something leave my body and my heart stopped beating for a moment- my perceptions slowed down and I felt so peaceful. I think I smiled, and then I snapped back into myself, and my heart slammed against my chest and all of my pain and sorrow was twice as powerful as before."
Letting the music play, the emerald-eyed wizard paused for a moment before continuing in the same level tone. "I lost track of myself for a time, and the next thing I remember is retching on the floor as things exploded or melted around me. I had lost conscious control of my body, and all I could do was weep and choke while it felt like my soul was pushed out of my body and back in. Finally I was able to gather control of myself long enough to bash my head against my knees and knock myself unconscious until almost a day later."
Tonks gasped and shuddered as Harry calmly related his tale. The heavy magic feeling had reappeared, and she could dimly feel pain she was sure did not originate with her. "Harry, I don't think you'd know about this, but it's possible for a Witch or Wizard to will themselves dead- it is very difficult to do, but Aurors who've seen it happen describe it a lot like what you've said. I don't know anyone who's survived if they've been able to start it, and it's a one-in-a-million wizard that's powerful enough to do it. It's like they separate their life from their body." She froze as Harry's eyes closed and he barked out a short, humorless laugh.
"I suppose that Trelawney's prophecy was more right than could be known, and yet still too damned vague, then."
"What do you mean?"
The young wizard spread his arms wide. "You are looking at a man who wanted to be dead with all of his might- I wanted nothing but death and had craved nothing but my own death since Sirius fell through the Veil, and despite of that, despite of my unknowing attempt at suicide, I still live. I am not the Boy-Who-Lived; I am the Boy-Who-Cannot-Die." His lips thinned into a pained grimace. "Perhaps when I felt like pieces of my soul were being ripped out, they really were. Perhaps I tried to kill myself, cast my soul screaming down to Hell, forced myself to die- but I kept being dragged back to the same pain and the same Prophecy-dictated life. That would also explain why I did not recover more quickly- it was not my body that was exhausted but my soul and my magic. This Prophecy rules my life in a very literal sense." He sighed and met the Auror's eyes for a moment, and Tonks was struck by the hollowness that dwelt there. Soon, however, Harry removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. When he replaced them they had reformed into the same calm she remembered from the previous day.
Without looking, he tapped the power button on the CD player and made to rise, but stopped at Tonks' touch upon his arm. He allowed himself to be pulled back down and positioned against the corner of the high-backed couch. As their eyes met again, Tonks could not help the shimmer of tears that threatened to spill from hers as Harry wordlessly spread his arms. The metamorphmagus blurred forms as she settled into his embrace a second time.
She wasn't sure how long she cried, who she cried for- herself, Harry, Sirius- nor of when she had started crooning the song that Sirius had sung to her as a child as Harry gently rocked her. After that unknowable amount of time she uncurled her head from where it nestled below Harry's chin. The young wizard's eyes were hooded, but glowed faintly as they pulsed rhythmically with his heartbeat. Tonks was unwilling to break the somber mood but knew that Harry would not speak first.
"Harry," she whispered. He made no movement, but she knew he was paying attention. "I want you to get looked at by a Healer I know. Magic dealing with the soul is tricky, and the damage is worse. We need to know what's happened to you before we know how safe it is for you to push your body."
"Can they be trusted?" his voice rumbled far deeper than she had ever heard, vibrating the magic around and within her.
"Healer-Patient confidentiality oaths would insure it."
Harry's lambent eyes bore into her. "You are sure."
She stopped for a moment. "Yes. He owes me." she murmured. "More than enough."
Nymphadora Tonks was confused. Somehow, despite the absurdity of the idea, she was taking Harry Potter to meet a Healer at St. Mungo's that she had contacted less than an hour before. No pre-planning, no special portkey, and most especially, no plan of escape. She suspected it had a great deal to do with the voice with which he had spoke. No sane wizard- save Dumbledore or You-Know-Who- could listen to that voice for long without crumbling. By the time he had told her that they would walk to the park before apparating, she would have agreed to almost anything to get him to speak with his previous quiet calmness. She brushed a long blonde lock of hair back irritably and looked over at Harry walking calmly next to her, disguised and incredibly serene.
"I still can't believe I'm doing this."
Harry's now-blue eyes turned to regard her frostily until they came to a stop at a nondescript door with a simple plaque stating that it was the office of Lawrence Warburton, Mediwizard. It took only a moment for him to open the door after she knocked.
"Wotcher, Larry."
"Tonks." The older man nodded as she passed him, and stopped on the other figure entering his office. "And this is the mysterious patient you asked me to see?" he asked.
Harry smoothly nodded as Tonks watched all of her carefully-cast transfigurations melt away. "Yes, I am."
The balding man gaped for a moment, then rubbed the hairless crown of his head absently. "Oh dear Merlin. Yes, I see why Tonks insisted on privacy." He nervously bustled over to his desk and gestured to both of them to sit before taking his seat heavily and looking ready to faint. "Well..." he coughed into his shaking hand, "Could you please start with the reason you wanted to see me, Mister Potter?"
Fortunately for all involved, once he was confronted with a medical problem, Healer Warburton became more comfortable with both his patient and the circumstances. While in his element, he cast a bewildering array of medical diagnostic charms with complete fluency, asked incredibly insightful questions, and was generally a top-flight Mediwizard.
When Harry asked what he had learned, however, Tonks remembered why Larry was generally not asked to speak directly to patients.
"Well Mister Potter, your soul's broken."
Even Harry paused for a moment at that sentence. "And how is my soul broken, Healer Warburton?"
The lime-green clad gestured in the air with his hands, as if to collect his thoughts. "From what you've told me, and what the diagnostics tell me, whatever you did ripped chunks of your soul off willy-nilly. Something else- this prophecy you mentioned, maybe- patched those holes over, but didn't do it quite right."
"I don't get it!" Tonks blurted, frowning.
Larry turned to shrug at her, but stopped when Harry murmured.
"I do."
Shortening her hair, the Auror sighed. "Fill me in, then."
"What Healer Warburton is saying is that my soul is- something like a crystal ball." he began slowly. "It was damaged, like taking pieces out of that ball, making it pitted." He paused and looked at the healer, who nodded. "Then something came in and attempted to patch the holes, but did it with a material that was not the original- steel instead of crystal."
The diminutive healer ran a finger around the edge of his collar and chuckled a bit. "That's a much better description, Mister Potter."
Tonks still had her face screwed up in confusion. "So what are the- 'patches'- made of, then?"
"Damned if I know."
Holding up his hands, the sweaty Healer glanced between Tonks and the Boy-Who-Lived for a moment before returning his gaze to the floor. "Well, the reason I don't know is that I've never seen anything quite like this before. We do see soul damage- either because of being hit by certain Dark Arts curses, or being a Dark Art using wizard- but the damage doesn't heal like this. For lack of a better description, it just- well, 'scabs over'. It doesn't grow back, and it doesn't get patched, the soul just reconfigures itself over time, and you continue existing.
'There's no evidence that Mister Potter has used or been exposed to any of the spells that cause soul damage, but he exhibits the flat affect of soul damage, and the diagnostic spells show damage. I just can't find evidence of the spell that caused it."
Tonks looked ready to tear her hair out, or perhaps deck the healer. "'Flat affect'? Will he ever get back to normal?"
"It means he's not showing emotion normally- no smiling, no frowning, no real change in voice tone- and 'recovering' from this really depends. There are wizards who bounce back quickly as if nothing serious ever happened, even after being hit by very corruptive spells, and some people never regain a full emotional range. Honestly, I would guess- and only guess, mind you- that you will be fine in time, with emotional highs and lows blunted slightly, making you more even-keeled overall." he finished, meeting Harry's eyes.
The dark-haired boy nodded slightly and stood before the visibly deflated Auror. "I thank you, Healer. As soon as Tonks has restored the spells she had used on me, we will let you resume the rest of your day."
Since Harry had convinced her to take him to St. Mungo's, Tonks put up less resistance to visiting Gringotts. As they passed through the early evening crowd of Diagon Alley, she couldn't help but needle the Boy-Who-Lived slightly.
"Well, I guess all of those plans of yours to wait and get books and access to your funds were useless, huh?"
"I am not omniscient, and have never claimed to be. Perhaps the world would do well to remember that no one is, whether it be Albus Dumbledore or Voldemort."
Shivering at the rebuke, no matter how slight, Tonks snapped her mouth shut and mutely followed Harry through the doors of the bank. The now auburn-haired boy moved with cold efficiency to an unoccupied teller and began speaking in low tones, leaving her standing in the atrium uncertainly. Harry's discussion took almost ten minutes, most of which Tonks spent scanning the room in a paranoid manner that Mad-Eye Moody would have approved of.
Finally, Harry finished and gestured for her to follow him. "We are speaking to the goblin in charge of the Potter Trust. There are a few issues that need to be discussed."
In an incredibly short period of time, Tonks had been added to the access list of Harry's vault. She was also staring at the disguised wizard paging though the folder of financial records with not a small amount of trepidation.
Harry closed the thick folder and turned to the witch sitting next to him. "If you have any suggestions on books I should acquire, name them now." he commented as he rose and strode from the room, leaving her to catch up. The Auror hurried to walk next to him, but didn't get a chance to speak until they reentered the bustle of the Alley. "Please tell me this is the last stop tonight," she pleaded in a low voice, "I'm already surprised that Dumbledore hasn't caught us, and my damned nerves are shot after that stunt you pulled in there."
Gliding smoothly through the crowd, Harry replied equally softly. "For all of the talk about extra wards on that house, has anyone ever mentioned their existence besides him? Also, if the wards are powerful enough in their own right, why post guards when the wards could be triggered to warn him? It seems foolish to leave one member alone and exposed to act as a supplementary early-warning device." He paused to open the door and gesture Tonks through first, placing and keeping one hand lightly on her lower back. "As for your second complaint, be aware that there was no... 'stunt'." With that final pronouncement, the disguised wizard disappeared into the stacks of Flourish and Blotts.
Tonks shivered as he spoke by her right ear in that odd, fathomless voice. After staring in the direction he left in for a moment, she shook herself out of a stupor and went to gather a few books that she believed would be helpful. "Damn that man."
When the time came to check out, Harry had a stack of books almost as tall as he was. The clerk looked askance at the teenager for only a moment before flinching under the wizard's gaze. Tonks didn't think she had ever seen a clerk at Flourish's work so quickly and quietly in her life.
Harry was silent for the entire trip back to Privet Drive, and only after prompting Tonks to cast detection charms to ensure that no one was nearby did he speak.
Harry set a teacup in front of the seated Auror. "Now that the issue of my mental health and the lack of study materials have been addressed, I would request that you find a way to guard your conversations. I will attempt to learn Occlumency as well, but until such time that we are both confident that information cannot be divulged from our minds, we should limit our contact and discussions to matters that would be considered 'safe'."
The blue-haired woman sputtered, "What, I give you all this help, and now you're telling me to get out?"
"No, that is not what I said at all," the wizard interjected. "What I asked is that until we can both be sure that our conversations will remain protected from Legilimency, we do not talk about recent issues. The less you know, the lesser the likelihood that you will act suspiciously around Dumbledore, and the less likely it is this he will Legilimence you and find out."
Tonks could see the logic of his statement, but wondered, "So what does that leave for us to talk about?"
After setting his cup down, Harry offered, "Very little of import."
Grumbling, the witch sipped at her tea before popping to her feet. "Waaaait," she drawled. "I remember reading a book my mum had told me about, and it had something that would make information secret. If I find it again, we're in business!"
"Then you can find this book and we will discover what it involves. At the present time, I need to study, and perhaps rest. My lack of sleep seems to have given me an attitude problem today."
Tonks blinked. "Was that a joke?"
A ghost of a smile flitted across Harry's face. "Perhaps."

Author's Notes:
This is the other thing I had sitting around. About half of this was already typed up, and there was a decent chunk of text I didn't use that will likely get shoved into one of the following chapters.
Harry's speech and actions changed from the last chapter (and within the chapter. If you look closely, you can tell where the old text stops and the new begins). I have blended it together somewhat, but his character changed as I wrote, and the more I did, the clearer the changes were. For example, he no longer uses contractions (or at least, he shouldn't, unless I missed one). Hopefully the style in which I write his dialogue will lend itself to the cadence in which he speaks in your head as you read. Also note that for now there is little showing what Harry thinks, or his actions when another character isn't around. That will change as we get to know the changed Harry a bit better.
...Unfortunately, after axing part of the original chapter, I have thrown myself off track. In order to bring things back into line, I'm hoping to cover Tonks' cunning idea and a small skirmish with Death Eaters. Remus will pop in, and perhaps some of the metaphysical crap that I spewed will be explained more.
Also, please keep in mind that this is an AU- I do check some of my information against the HP Lexicon, but typically when I write, I'm doing so on paper, away from reference material. Occasionally, information from other writings (HP-related, the few Ranma-related drabbles I've messed with, and non-fanfiction related stuff) blend together, and I'd rather let it slide than nitpick myself. Hopefully any problems with continuity don't jar you too much.
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