There was a rushing sound in his ears. His chest hurt, his head hurt, everything just hurt. Harry closed his eyes, he didn't take deep breaths, he didn't think, he didn't try to calm down. He just sat still and silent, and let his magic run.
The rushing sound got louder, lights flashed under his eyelids, a pressure seemed to build inside his chest. Louder. Louder. LOUDER.
It was silent, so very quiet. He felt nothing, he sensed nothing. Harry took a long slow breath and opened his eyes. He was numb, but that was ok, he was allowed to be numb. Slowly the world came into focus. He began to hear the goings on around him. Dudley was playing a game on his computer upstairs. Petunia was clinking plates and cutlery in the kitchen. And Vernon was shuffling his paper in the living room. Harry felt like he should be doing something too. He wondered if the library downtown was open.
Petunia frowned when the cupboard door began to open, a retort on her lips. But when her nephew stepped out she paused. There was a stillness in the boy she'd never seen before.
'Where are you going?'
Harry sat his trunk gently beside him.
'With your things?' Petunia sneered.
Harry just nodded.
'And why should I let you take them with you? Why should I let you go at all?' Petunia asked.
She was waiting for a protest, for a glare, for anything that would give her reason to call Vernon out his chair to see to the boy. She wasn't prepared for dead eyes to lift to hers. Petunia stifled a gasp, the boy looked for all the world like a corpse. If she didn't know any better, she would have said he'd been attacked by one of those creatures that nearly got Dudley last year. De…Demonters or Domeners…whatever they were. It was horrible to see.
'Fine…just go. Don't blame me if you get caught'.
She sighed as Harry headed out the house. Surely school hadn't been that bad? She suddenly remembered about that man's death. Sirius Black. Petunia cast another gaze at the front door, before shaking her head. Good riddance, to all of them.
Harry took the shiny new library card from the librarian and wandered down a random isle, missing the worried look the woman gave him. He ran his hands over the spines, finally picking one out and choosing a secluded corner. He sat on his trunk, leaned back against the wall, and cracked open the book of war tactics.
She watched as he wandered out of sight, curious about what horrors the child had been through to give him such a deathly expression. The librarian sighed and busied herself with work, it really wasn't her business to pry.
The day went on and Harry continued to read. A few times the librarian would glance at him as she was putting away books, but no words were spoken, and as long as he wasn't being a hooligan she would let him be. Eventually though she had to approach him, the library was closing.
'Young man, I'm going to close up. You had better check that out if you want to continue reading'.
She watched as Harry closed the book and stood. But instead of checking it out, he slid it back in his place, picked up his trunk, and left. She would find him back in the spot the next day, and the next, and the next. His books would vary between war, astrology and rituals of old. She wouldn't pry when he never left to eat, or when he would sneak a drink of water from a battered bottle, or when he would hardly ever check a book out. She would say nothing about his tattered clothing, or his somewhat unkempt appearance. No, she would give him his privacy, and let him read. He wasn't doing any harm after all.
Harry read the last sentence and closed the book, making a few notes on the pad beside him. Two days ago he'd felt like doing something other than read, so he'd walked up and down the length of the town. He found a surprising amount of treasures that had been left by others. That day alone he'd picked up nearly three pounds worth of change, a few slightly damaged but usable pencils, a couple of small coloured marbles, a little glass whiskey bottle, a cork and some nice looking stones. He'd picked at the cork until it could squeeze into the bottle neck and, after a quick clean out using the drinking fountain in the park, he put the stones and marbles inside. It made for a pretty decoration, and using the money he'd bought the notepad and a bottle of water. He had yet to feel hungry enough to buy any food, the pitiful rations he was getting at the Dursleys sustaining him.
The treasure hunting took up a small portion of his day, the rest being spent at the library, and he would return to his relatives in the evenings. If they had a problem with the new routine, they didn't show it. Vernon at least seemed happy that the freak was out of his hair. A bit grouchy that Harry was taking his belongings with him, but happy enough not to bring it up.
Harry finished writing and reached for another book. He decided, for the sake of it, to reread his school books. He entertained the idea of getting more, but he would need to go to Diagon Alley for that. Perhaps if he had Hedwig, but the headmaster had kept a hold of her.
The books he had were enough, and he found that he was absorbing the information much easier without the usual distractions. The librarian had yet to spot the strange books, believing that they were just part of the library's collection.
Harry paused in his reading and glanced at his little glass bottle. He'd found a small packet of glitter behind the park bench the other day, along with a couple of plastic charms, and decided to add them to the bottle, putting in some water so he could swirl it round and watch the glitter sparkle. So far the cork was holding and no water had escaped.
The bottle shone ever so slightly in the light, and Harry sighed. It needed something, perhaps a little ribbon, perhaps he should head out now before it got dark and look around for one. The notepad was getting a bit full, he would need to find enough coins for another. Harry looked down at the pad, opened with his last note about potions displayed for all to see. Harry wasn't worried, no one ever came up to him here, except the librarian, but she only did so to say it was time to close up, and by then the notepad and school books were safely back in his trunk.
He needed to work on his quill writing. Harry closed the book and slid it and his notepad and pencil into his trunk. He would do that at the park, perhaps he would find some money and a ribbon there. Harry closed his trunk and headed outside.
The freak never spoke a word. Vernon cursed himself for thinking such a thing and crammed another sausage in his mouth. Freak had finally learned his lesson, and that was all that mattered. So Vernon was a bit creeped out with the freak's empty expression, so what.
Severus was the one chosen to go fetch Harry from his relatives, and oh how he hated Albus for doing this to him. Sneering he rapped firmly on the pristine door of number four, get the brat and leave on his mind. Only to find out the brat wasn't even there, apparently such trivial matters such as staying out of danger were too hard for the brat to understand. A deadly glare on his face Severus stormed out the house and headed for the library Petunia had mentioned. He was half way there when he spotted Harry resting by a tree in the park, his trunk next to him.
Anger is a strange thing, it makes people think and believe what may well be the opposite of the truth. It also makes them overlook what's right in front of their face. Which was why when Severus hauled Harry up, snarled at him about being an idiot and an arrogant layabout, that he didn't see the rings under Harry's eyes, or feel Harry's collar bone stick out far more than it should. But that was ok, because even if he had, Harry would still react in the same way. That is, he wouldn't react at all.
Severus didn't stop berating the brat as he snatched the trunk and apparated them to headquarters. He didn't stop as he dragged the brat up the path and through the doorway. And he didn't stop when he discovered they had an audience. Naturally his words had others berating him, while the rest turned to Harry. They acted as they normally did, Dumbledore scolded him for leaving the house while Molly crushed him in a hug, Hermione took over when Dumbledore was done while Ron just stood with a frown on his face.
That evening Hermione tried to get him to talk about Sirius. She said that speaking about it would make him feel better. She said that he shouldn't blame himself because Sirius wouldn't want that. She said that Harry wasn't the only person in the world to loose someone they cared about.
She yelled at him when he chose to remain silent.
But Harry had a new view on life. He just didn't care anymore.
So while Hermione yelled and Ron grumbled and Dumbledore scolded and Severus sneered, Harry sat quietly watching his little glass bottle full of glitter and treasures
Hedwig couldn't believe how stupid they were all being. Her wizard was broken and all they were doing was making the pieces smaller. She couldn't even get a smile out of him, not even a small one.
Each day she would sit with him as he read his books and made his notes and watched his little trinket. Occasionally he would spend an hour or so writing out the alphabet with his quill and ink, she could see he was greatly improving. Once or twice she followed him to the attic, where he would lift the little catch and open the window, then set up his telescope and watch the stars. The rare times he had done this he had watched them all night, and she had sat on his shoulder and groomed his hair in hopes that he would talk to her.
This is what that fool headmaster got for not allowing her to go to her wizard.
Harry idly watched as the others scurried around looking for him in a panic. If he was at all interested, he would say that magical people had no common sense. Someone goes missing and they didn't even start with a point me spell.
For whatever reason, when he decided to look in the Black library for animagus books, having an urge for a way to get around without being noticed, he found it very easy to transform into his animal shape. It took a week, and since he barely slept he had a lot of time to read and follow the instructions. A year ago he would have expected to follow in his father's footsteps and become a stag, or if not then become something fast with wings due to his love of flying. Now however he had no expectations, and when he eventually morphed into a tiny black dwarf rabbit, he didn't even care enough to celebrate having a form at all.
Harry gave a small stretch as the people scrambled around the house, his gaze on his little bottle, with its little purple ribbon. He wondered about the future, not so much the war or Voldemort or even if he would survive, just the future in general. Would he feel the same when he was thirty, or fifty? Perhaps, perhaps not. The future was its own, not even seers could tell you every detail.
'Harry where are you?!'
Harry yawned, he was feeling sleepy, which was rare nowadays for him. Giving one last stretch he picked up the bottle in his teeth and crept out his little hiding place, making his way upstairs. By this point the search party was everywhere but the hall and stairs so no one noticed him as he slipped into his room, morphed back to human form, and cuddled into bed.
'You couldn't have been in bed because we checked there you must have been somewhere else I hope you weren't outside Harry you need to stay where it's safe! You need to talk to us! Harry are you even listening to me?!'
Harry was reluctant to hand over his key to Molly. She was persistent, but in the end he made the trip to his vault himself. The Goblins had been giving him significant looks the entire time, though Harry didn't really care.
Goblins were clever creatures, and it didn't take them long to see what was wrong with the lad. However they were also creatures of business, and so they devised a simple plan to benefit both themselves and Harry.
'Please sign here Mr Potter'.
If Goblins believed in luck, this one would be crossing his fingers. The contract he'd presented was a thing of beauty, one the head of the bank himself wrote, checked and double checked in that small amount of time. If the lad signed it then his godfather's will would activate and everything the lad owned would be made available to him, and only him. And that included what Lord Black had left for him. He just needed the lad to sign the parchment without fuss, that way he could tell the Weasley mother that it was for maintenance work to the Potter vaults. If the lad questioned it, then he had no choice but to explain what the contract held, and that would alert the Weasley mother, which in turn would alert Albus Dumbledore. Just one little signature…
Harry didn't bother looking, nor did he really care if the parchment stated that by signing all his money would go to Voldemort himself. He took the quill and wrote his name, idly noting the flash that signalled a fulfilled contract. The Goblin had grinned and rushed off, eager to get the precious parchment to a safe holding and out of prying eyes. Harry had continued to his destination.
The Hogwarts librarian was nothing like the one back at town. Madam Pince was sharp tongued and sharp eyed, and she wasn't happy with school children dirtying up her precious books. She eyed the lone Gryffindor as he sat down, practically begging him to cause trouble so she could throw him out. Gryffindors were the worst ones.
Harry had shrunk his trunk, he felt the need to have it with him. His little bottle was now dangling from a chain round his neck, which made it easier for the glitter to sparkle in the water. The cork was getting worn, and a little of the water had leaked out, but Harry still liked it. He picked up a book from the shelf and found a chair to sit and read.
Harry cut the root lengthways, then sliced the halves nice and thin. Hermione had given him a suspicious look when he chose to buy extra ingredients, and Ron had moaned about wanting to buy extras at all. Harry had found the potion shop to be somewhat like his treasure hunts, there were so many little oddities in the jars and baskets. The owner had given his variety of choices a curious look, but rang them up all the same and took the payment. Wasn't his business to question a student's hobby.
Harry halved another root and this time cut the pieces into little cubes. Slughorn was practically gloating about having Harry Potter in his class, and seemed to find something to praise him about with every potion he made. Harry wasn't really interested in the praise, or his half ruined potions. He found it more agreeable to spend a night in an abandoned classroom, cutting a dried heart this way and slicing a slippery eye that way. Severus would have had a heart attack over the waste of ingredients.
Harry held a pickled newt up and idly gazed at it, before dissecting it.
Many people were getting black letters during meals. Harry watched a girl crying through his little bottle, her parents had been killed.
Hermione hissed that he was being inconsiderate by staring.
He idly thought about Draco. The blonde hadn't insulted or even spoken to the trio at all this term. If Harry cared enough to think about it, he'd say it was odd.
Harry supposed he should have been watching the people, but his gaze travelled to the mundane details, the ones people don't usually bother with. While a young Tom Riddle was speaking with Dumbledore in the orphanage, Harry was watching the birds flying outside the bleary window. When Tom started school under Dumbledore's watchful eye, Harry traced the patterns the bricks made in the walls. When Tom spoke to Slughorn about horcruxes, Harry's eyes followed the flickering flames of the burner under the nearby cauldron.
'Harry my boy, I need you to talk to professor Slughorn about revealing the true memory of his talk with Tom'.
Harry was feeling sleepy again.
Hedwig was worried, Dobby was worried, and he wondered why no one else seemed to be worried about Harry. But Dobby was faithful, so while Harry sat and read at night, Dobby would bring him small easy to pick at meals. He would stand there and made sure Harry ate at least five mouthfuls. He would wait for hours if need be with a glass of milk in his hand and not leave until Harry had drank it all. He kept an eye out as a little black rabbit wandered the halls at night. He even used a little magic to put some more water and sparkles into the pretty trinket around Harry's neck, and make sure it wouldn't leak. Harry liked the trinket, Dobby knew that.
Dobby would sometimes look at Hedwig and give her a sad smile. She would hoot back. They were doing what they could.
'Tonks and I are now together. She was persistent, and finally I agreed to be with her. We're helping each other to get through Sirius' death. I know I haven't been there for you Harry, but if you need to talk I'll listen. I'll never be able to replace Sirius, but I can be here for you, if you will let me'.
'Hey there secret investor, we'd just like to tell you that our shop is doing brilliantly. We've set aside ten percent of the profits and put it in your vault, and don't you tell us we shouldn't have! We're sorry about Sirius Harry, he was a good person'.
Hedwig gave a soft hoot and pushed the letters in Harry's direction. He had people who cared about him, he could talk to them.
Harry got up off his bed and left the dorm, he felt the need to read. Hedwig hooted sadly at the forgotten letters.
Albus frowned slightly. Why was it Harry wasn't doing what he requested? Surely he understood the urgency in finding out how many horcruxes Voldemort made? He couldn't still be depressed over Sirius's death? Could he? Minerva had lifted the quidditch ban, and he was out of his relative's home, Albus knew he hated it there but sadly he had to remain. Harry was back at Hogwarts and with his friends.
So why hadn't he acted like he should?
Ron was in a rage. Harry hadn't bothered showing up for quidditch, and McGonagall had lifted the ban so there was no reason to skip practice! But each time he ranted at Harry he was ignored. Well fine then, they didn't need Harry. Ginny was a good seeker. Let Harry come to them when he realises they weren't going to beg him.
Hermione couldn't understand why Harry wasn't talking to them. What had they done wrong? But he was at least reading and looked like he was doing better in classes, even if he wasn't as lively as he used to be, so she supposed she should let him be. She would just continue to tell Harry that she was there for him and that he should talk to her about Sirius.
Severus knew the brat was out after curfew, he just couldn't prove it. It had to be that blasted cloak. What was the brat doing night after night? Severus scoffed, no mystery there, brat was getting into mischief, what else would he be doing. If only Severus could find him, a few good detentions would see him straight.
Neville sighed quietly as he watched his friend wander from the hall. Harry didn't look so good, and he had the right to be unhappy. Neville glanced over at the little blonde at the raven's table, she caught his gaze. Luna had noticed too.
DA would continue, but Harry had no interest in it anymore.
Harry slid the book back in its place and put his notepad and pencil in his trunk. Runes were odd things, curvy and bold. He wanted to draw them, perhaps Hedwig would go to Diagon Alley with a list of things he needed and some money. Harry made his way up to the tower, perhaps she would also get him some more potion ingredients as well, he was running out of things to cut up.
His scar was aching again.
A ribbon of magic fluttered out of Harry's wand, almost invisible against the snowy background. It coiled itself loosely around Hedwig, and with a hoot she took to the sky. She travelled around the outskirts of the forbidden forest, flew round the great lake, made a circuit round Hogsmede, and ended with a quick fly around the castle before returning to her wizard. The ribbon reconnected with Harry's wand and he touched it to the ground.
The moon was bright that evening.
Harry was getting quite good at drawing runes. Hedwig had been delighted to fly to Diagon Alley with his list, and had even employed Dobby to help her get everything her wizard needed.
Harry put the quill down and picked up the knife, he began to carve over the ink lines, etching the curvy runes into the wood.
He needed more practice.
The little bottle swung gently around his neck as he worked.
The Potter account manager frowned at the parchment. The words were typical for a time of war, a standard will, but the thought behind them made the Goblin ponder.
It was almost as if the lad was planning to…
He couldn't be…
Harry packed his telescope up, gathered his books and parchment, locked up his runes kit and put them all in his trunk. Hedwig happily took the shrunken trunk and flew with it out the window. Dobby handed Harry a glass of juice which he took and sipped as he headed down the stairs. The Elf smiled and walked with his friend as they reached the common room.
Draco was acting very nervous, and had been going in and out of the room of requirement a lot more frequently in the last few weeks.
Harry felt like making a potion.
The vanishing cabinet was ready. Draco let out a few puffs of breath and brushed some dust off his robes. He needed to get an owl out.
It was almost time.
The three of them swallowed the liquid and stiffened as it ran like fire through their blood. A last sigh as the effects settled. Their lives were now tied, their destinies decided.
It was almost time.
Dumbledore had fallen, the school was breached. Voldemort smirked as he made his grand entrance, the elder wand held in his hand. They would fall, and the world would be his. There was just one more green eyed hindrance left to see to.
Harry stood by the bells of Hogwarts, Dobby and Hedwig at his side. He watched the carnage below, watched as the order and the aurors arrived and joined the fight, watched those he knew threw themselves into battle. He glanced up at the late evening sky.
It was time.
'Blood of the pure, love and teach. Blood of the servant, loyal and honest. Blood of the warrior, protect and serve. We give ourselves for judging, accept our gift and aid our quest'.
Dobby let out a battle cry and plunged the dagger into his chest. Hedwig screeched like an eagle and flew into the sword. Harry took one last deep breath and touched his wand to his scar.
Great golden runes began glowing around the castle, carved into the ground and the trees and the rock of the castle herself. The ribbon of magic flashed, casting its shield, around the outskirts of the forbidden forest, round the great lake, round Hogsmede village, round the castle of Hogwarts. Everywhere it touched it struck down the evil. Vampires turned to ash, Werewolves howled as they fell in agony, Giants roared as they fought for their last breath. Dementors exploded in a shower of black dust. Deatheaters dropped mid curse.
Voldemort screamed as his soul was set alight, clawing at his chest as pieces of him from around the country smouldered and hissed. With a growl he cast his wand at the crowd, a curse on his lips as he fell. The wand sparked and spluttered as it dropped from lifeless fingers, a great crack forming up its spine.
The residents of Britain paused as one, then as one a mighty cheer rang out in the crowds. Hermione ran into Ron's arms, kissing him for all she was worth. The twins set off fireworks. Neville sighed as he stood over the slain body of Bellatrix Lestrange, the sword of Gryffindor slipping out his hands as Luna hugged him tightly. Remus swung a pregnant Tonks round, grinning like a wolf.
Draco took his mother's hand and led her from the castle, a soft relieved smile on their lips. Lucius following them, giving one last nervous glance behind him.
Severus heard the cheering, and smiled, shifting his broken and bloody body to allow him to lie down. He felt no ill will toward those who attacked him, snapped his wand and broke his bones. He felt it justified by his murder of a great man. Severus sighed and closed his eyes.
'I'm coming Lily…'
Albus Dumbledore had not been forgotten, but his death would be celebrated as the day the dark side finally fell.
It was later, much much later, that a broken holly and phoenix feather wand was discovered in the bell tower, next to a white feather and a scattering of Elvin blood.
The next day the Goblins released letters for the will of Harry James Potter.
'This is a place between life and death Harry. A place of choosing'.
Harry gazed at the ugly shrivelled baby lying under the bench, he felt better, he felt like smiling. Albus continued speaking.
'Harry, why did you ignore me? You could have spoken to professor Slughorn. We still don't know how much horcruxes Voldemort has. You have much work to do when you return, and I won't be there to help any more'.
Harry lifted the little bottle up to his eye, shaking it slightly and watching it sparkle. He didn't know why he still had it, and he wouldn't question it.
'Appreciate what you have'.
'What was that my boy?'
Harry lifted his eyes to Albus.
'You got greedy. You are a great wizard, and you performed a great feat, but people were starting to forget, and you wanted your name spoke in awe once more'.
'Now Harry I did what was best'.
'Best for you, perhaps'.
Harry smiled as he spotted Hedwig flying over the station, and Dobby waving at him to join them.
'I'm going home Albus. I've done what you wanted me to do'.
But Albus was too late, Harry was already gone.
Harry Potter had snapped the day Sirius died, but at last he was happy.