AN: Well, this is chapter ten. The next chapter will deal with the deathday party, the initial opening of the chamber, and Harry trying to figure out what the 'Horror Within' could be. I really don't see him working it out to truly be all that difficult, and I find it laughable that, in canon, Hermione is the only one smart enough to do so. Yeah, Rowling really set off my bullshit detector with that one. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and I wonder if any of you can figure out the reason why something happens in here.
Beta'd by: NIX'S WARDEN
Chapter 10 - Do Not Do This At Home
"Right, now that you can feel your magic, remember everything I taught you about forces. There's gravity, trying to pull it down to the earth, there's the air resistance, there's the wind itself, there's the force needed to hold it together, there's your magic being used as a fuel to keep it around, to make it light up." Harry explained to Blaise and Daphne.
He was giving them a lesson on 'his' magic, and he was trying to get them to learn a basic shooting spell. Of course, they could manage to create one, but now he was trying to push them towards creating two, and then maybe three. A regular human mind, without assistance from a device or training in how to think about multiple things at once, would probably reach its limit at three.
Harry watched carefully as both Blaise and Daphne sat cross-legged in front of him, their eyes closed. They both had a single shooting spell hovering in the air next to them, Blaise's was a dark blue colour and Daphne's was mint green. They'd both asked why their orbs were different colours, and why Harry's was a purplish-black colour.
Harry had told him that it was different for everyone, and most magic they would cast using 'his' Arithmancy would be in their personal magic colour. The only spells that Harry could cast that weren't in his magic colour were certain ones he had 'stolen' from others. The Starlight Breaker of Nanoha's was one, that spell would always come out pink.
Harry's attention was caught when a flickering orb of light began to appear next to Blaise's already existing shooting spell. It was unstable, and judging by the sweat on his brow it was using up a lot of focus and concentration, but Blaise was creating a second orb of magic.
Twenty minutes later, Blaise had two orbs in front of him, the second one having become much more stable, and Daphne had progressed to having a flicker of a second one every now and then. Harry called an end to the training session then, and he told the both of them not to practise without him around.
Mid-Childan magic used up a lot more mana than Terran spells did, and it was only due to their comparatively larger reserves that Mages could cast as much and frequently as they could. On the flip side, Terran spells were so difficult for Belkan and Mid-Childan style cores that they drained Mages and Knights of much more mana than Terran Wizards, meaning they exhausted themselves at about the same rate.
Daphne and Blaise both thanked him, before making their exits.
"You know, I think you might actually like teaching." A voice behind him spoke up. Turning around, Harry saw that Loki was there, the raven familiar having watched the entire tutoring session from up on an out of the way shelf.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Seeing as Mcgonagall's Animagus lessons tells me that I need to be 'honest' with myself, I think the emotion needs to be reclassified as pride." There was a slight note of self-disgust in his voice as he said that word. "I enjoy seeing people succeed because I've helped them. Loki, does that make me a bad person? Surely it says something about me that I like knowing I helped others become better."
Loki paused for a moment, and considered his words. "No, it doesn't make you a bad person. Hmm, how to explain this..." He thought about it for a moment. "You, of course, know of the phrase 'too much of a good thing is bad for you', I assume. Well, having too little of a bad thing is... bad for you? Worse? I'm not making sense am I?"
The raven familiar sighed and got his thoughts in order. "Greed is seen as a bad thing, it's one of the seven deadly sins of Christianity. Without greed, however, there would be no motivation to do anything. Let's look at capitalism and communism as examples. Communism, in theory, is amazing, but there is a single massive flaw in it, human nature. If a common street cleaner and a highly qualified doctor earn the same wage, then why would you put the effort into learning to be a doctor? In those sorts of situations, only those who are truly determined to be doctors would become them."
"Capitalism on the other hand," Isis said, walking in the door, having been informed of what was going on by Loki. "Means that, to get a good wage, you have to actually work for it. The more effort you put into something, the more you get out of it. You want a lot of money? Well, you better be prepared to earn it then! Greed is not a bad thing, so long as it is kept in check and not allowed to go out of control."
Isis sat down on a chair, pulling Harry into her lap. She hugged him close, and started talking again. "Lust is another of the seven sins, but that's not a bad thing either. Lust is what gets your attention, draws you in, makes you want something." Isis warm breath ghosted across the back of Harry's neck, making the hairs there stand on end.
"Pride is a good thing." Loki wandered over and ruffled Harry's hair, making said boy glare at him. "Those that take pride in their work will always do better than those that do it because they have to. A proud teacher will always deliver their lesson in a way that will enthuse their students better than one that's simply killing time."
After checking for nearby magic, Reinforce left Harry's body and sat on the chair next to him. "The Book of Darkness was created from the Tome of the Night Sky. I am the largest remainder of the Tome, and when the Book of Darkness was created, I was angry. Was it wrong of me to be angry? They had taken something precious and turned it monstrous, something that I was a part of, and even now my name is cursed."
Harry looked over to Reinforce with confused eyes. "Cursed? Who is cursing your name?"
Reinforce shifted in her seat slightly, before blowing a stray lock of hair out of her face. "When we were at the Infinite Library, I... I looked up as much history of myself as I could. As the Book of Darkness, I completely wiped out dozens of worlds, and I would have destroyed even more if I hadn't been stopped in Uminari."
A tear appeared in the corner of Reinforce's eye, and Harry leaned over, still sat in Isis' lap, and wrapped his arms around her in a hug. Isis also hugged Reinforce, and shot a look at Loki, who shrugged his shoulders and also came over to join the group hug around the Unison Device.
"If I hadn't been stopped in Uminari, none of this would be possible. I would have killed everyone, Hayate, Nanoha, Fate, Isis, Loki... you." Harry suddenly found it a little difficult to breath as Reinforce nearly crushed his ribs with her tight embrace.
"I watched over Hayate and her knights from within the Tome, seeing her ordinary life be torn apart due to me, me! I took her ability to walk, I took her health... I made things so difficult for her, and still she refused to stop smiling. In fact, the only time she really cried was when I said goodbye, when I thought I would be destroyed." She looked downcast at that, but her slightly red, tear-filled eyes locked onto Harry's own.
"I didn't die though, I ended up with you. Your life was worse than Hayate's. While she had lost her parents, just like you, she had a fairly comfortable life, she was provided for, she was kept safe. You, while you weren't in a wheelchair and didn't suffer bouts of ill health, were treated as scum, as if you didn't matter to anyone, and with you I can walk around on my own, feel the breeze against my own skin, see the sunset through my own eyes." Isis and Loki began to try and gently loosen Reinforce's hold on Harry as his face began to turn blue from lack of oxygen.
"It's no problem, Rein." Harry muttered when he managed to get some much needed air into his lungs. "If anything, you've done more for me than I have for you. I can only imagine what things would be like if you hadn't dropped in on me like you did, and I'm very happy with how things are now."
"Hehehe," Isis laughed slightly. "Looking at you two like that, one might be mistaken for thinking you're siblings with your similar features. Failing that, maybe lovers..." The unicorn familiar leered at the pair of them, causing both Reinforce and Harry to blush bright red. A flash of light and Isis found herself looking at an embarrassed unisoned Harry.
Loki chuckled lightly, before stopping for a second. "Wait a moment, you two. Before you knock some of the perversion out of Isis, I think I've noticed something." Harry and Isis looked at Loki. "When you unisoned just now, it was because both of you were feeling the same emotion, right? Also, you weren't thinking clearly, unless I'm mistaken. Perhaps your accidental unisons are happening due to the two of you feeling heightened emotions, and those emotions happening to coincide as well."
Isis pouted then, giving the unisoned Harry and Reinforce a look. "Also, when do we get to unison with Reinforce? We can tell that she's compatible with Harry, and seeing as we're Harry's familiars, shouldn't she be compatible with us as well? I want some Rein time too, you know!"
Harry bopped Isis lightly on the head, before he and Reinforce cancelled their unison. Harry looked at the Unison Device with a curious expression on his face. "I've got nothing against trying it out, but it's Reinforce's choice whether she wants to unison with you or not."
Reinforce cocked her head to one side. "I don't mind trying it, though I will stipulate that I'm going to try it with Loki, not the pervert, first." They ignored Isis cry of 'Hey! I'm only perverted towards you two!', and they looked towards Loki, seeing what he thought of the idea.
"Sure, I don't mind." Loki shrugged his shoulders. Given his speciality was stealth, there wasn't really much need for him to be unisoned with Reinforce, as she was essentially a power amplifier. There also wasn't much need for her too be unisoned with Isis either, as the unicorn specialised in healing and barriers, which were plenty strong already.
Reinforce got to her feet and dried her eyes with a tissue Harry had thoughtfully conjured for her. She knew what they were doing, distracting her from bad memories and trying to get her to focus on other things, to try and cheer her up, and she was grateful for it.
She stepped up to Loki and looked him in the eye. She could see that, despite his own curiosity about unisoning with her, he didn't really see it ever becoming necessary, and Reinforce agreed with him on that. Nevertheless, she was curious how compatible she'd be with him and Isis, so she was going through with it.
""Unison in."" They said together, as Reinforce sank into Loki's body. The changes became immediately apparent. The green detail on Loki's jacket turned a light blue colour, and his black hair turned blonde as well. His eyes, formerly green, were now red, but a shade or two darker than Reinforce's own eyes.
That was not what caught everyone's attention though. The instant that Reinforce and Loki had initiated the unison, Harry had collapsed to the floor. Isis, being the closest to him, panicked, but still tried to find out what was wrong. His breathing was laboured and ragged, his skin had become slick with sweat, and his eyes had shrank to pinpricks.
When Loki and Reinforce had completed the unison, Harry's ragged breath rapidly became shallower, until he was barely breathing at all. His pulse, that Isis felt, also slowed down, nearly to a standstill, and he began to scream. Not having much breath available, it wasn't a loud, harsh scream, but the sound of it chilled the bones of Isis and Loki.
Reinforce, panicking along with Isis and Loki, separated from the raven familiar, so that she might unison with Isis, boosting her healing abilities, but the instant she separated from Loki, Harry seemed to calm down immediately. That made them all pull up short for a moment.
Reinforce hesitantly laid a hand on Harry's chest and felt for his heartbeat. It wasn't difficult to find and, once it calmed down, it was beating in rhythm with her own heart. That caused her brow to crease. Just how connected were Harry and herself?
They could feel the emotions of each other. Okay, she'd initially written it off as simply knowing Harry so well that she knew what he would be feeling, and vice versa as well, but that wasn't the case any more, especially as they could tell what the other was feeling even when they weren't in the same room.
Their magic was connected together. Okay, the Sorting Hat had said these 'Soul Bond' things were possible, and could often be familial in nature. Still, those sorts of bonds tended to rely on two people sharing similar blood, at the very least, but Harry and Reinforce weren't blood relatives of each other.
Their reaction time delay, though, was something else. Even the best and most compatible unisons ever still had a small delay, even if that delay was in the milliseconds. That wasn't the case with Harry and Reinforce though, their delay wasn't 'so close to zero it didn't matter', it was zero.
Now, she finds that simply unisoning with someone other than Harry can have, seemingly, fatal repercussions for Harry. She had felt it, when she had connected to Loki, a tearing sensation within herself, like someone was literally ripping her heart into pieces, and while Loki and Isis were too busy panicking over Harry to notice it, both of their connections with Harry had begun to fade.
Did Harry nearly die just now? Merely by her unisoning with Loki, had she nearly killed Harry? Why? Why would that happen? Why would such a simple thing have such a major effect? What had just happened? What had caused it? There were so many questions running around in Reinforce's mind and she was worried.
Harry came to slowly. He blinked, the room coming into focus. He was back in the Head Boy suite, Isis was on his left, Loki at the foot of the bed, and Reinforce was on his right. The Unison Device and unicorn familiar both had a rather tight hold of Harry, as if they thought he would disappear if they let go.
He tried to remember back to the last thing he could remember, and all that came to mind was pain. He remembered the whole idea of Reinforce unisoning with Loki. He remembered seeing her step up to him. He remembered them initiating the unison.
After that, his entire world had consisted of crippling, all-consuming pain. It was far worse than when Dudley had poured acid over his head when he had first met Reinforce, far worse. He had learned that his accidental magic had initially numbed his face, lowering the pain he felt, and his high tolerance for pain had also made it more bearable. Then, his magic had tried to 'fight off' the acid, attempting to 'burn' it away, but this had merely resulted in him getting worse scars than he would have if the acid had simply been washed off.
"You're awake now, are you, master?" Loki asked, keeping his voice quiet as he could see that Isis and Reinforce were both still asleep, though Reinforce did seem to be starting to stir. Really, it was ridiculous how connected those two were, affect one in any way and there would probably be a similar result with the other, no matter how far apart they were.
"What happened?" Harry asked.
Loki shrugged his shoulders. "We don't know. When Reinforce started to unison with me, you... well, you started to die, master." The raven familiar decided to be blunt about things. While it was in his nature to trick, deceive, and manipulate others if there was a reason for it, Harry was his creator, his master, and the one he was loyal to. He would never lie to Harry.
"Harry..." Reinforce mumbled drowsily, before she yawned and rubbed at her eyes, being very cute in Harry's opinion. "Harry!" She cried loudly, throwing her arms around him and, once again, crushing him in her embrace. Seriously, where did Rein get all that arm strength from?
Of course, Reinforce's loud exclamation and the movement on the bed proved enough to wake Isis up. Never one to miss being affectionate with Harry, Isis also joined in with hugging the stuffing out of the twelve year old boy. Surprisingly, she kept her hands relatively tame, and didn't take advantage of Harry's distracted state.
"I'm okay, I'm okay." Harry insisted, tying to calm the two females down.
"No, you're not!" Reinforce snapped at him, her expression going from relieved to serious in an instant. "You almost died, just by me trying to unison with Loki. From now on, I'm not unisoning with anyone but you, we know that works as we've already done it, I'm not risking you, Harry."
"Whatever you want, Rein. It's always been your choice, it's not like I would, or even could, force you to unison with anyone." Harry hugged her back. "It's nice to feel wanted, makes me feel special."
"You are special Harry, to me, and these two as well." Reinforce told him.
"You are very special to me, Harry." Isis purred, her hands beginning to wander where they shouldn't.
"I hope you don't mind me being so... physically affectionate as them two, master. Still, you are special to me as well." Loki's voice was laced with amusement. Harry just gave him a flat look, which had the raven familiar chuckling lightly.
"Of course, if a vampire was here right now, I could show you exactly how I dealt with that one on the Mediterranean cruise! I had been relaxing after my defeat of the Wagga Wagga Werewolf, and thought that an around the world trip would do me good, and of course I was also doing my good friend Lord Strine a favour – poor bloke couldn't manage a trip like that at his age, and he did need someone to represent him – when it happened..." Lockhart went on to describe the 'fight' in great detail. Honestly, Harry would say it almost sounded choreographed.
A dreamy sigh from most of the girls in the room had Harry attempting to bash his brains out against the wall, attempting because Isis was between him and the wall and she was proving adept at... distracting Harry. Honestly, Harry was on the verge of going to Flitwick and asking whether he could skip Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, it wasn't like he was learning anything after all!
He turned to Loki. "What do you think the chances of me getting a hold of a vampire are?" He asked. "I could hide them in his room and then we'll see just what he can do against one of them. I am not buying for one minute that he honestly did any of the things he's claimed he's done."
"On acquiring a vampire, that depends. If we throw your name in there, I'm sure we'll get a bite on the hook, but without, it might be a bit more difficult finding a vampire that would do as you ask. As for whether or not he did what he says he's done, what makes you think he hasn't done those things?" Loki muttered out of the corner of his mouth. The raven familiar was keeping his attention on Lockhart, but his eyes had an unfocused look in them, a definite sign that he wasn't paying much attention to the blonde.
"Oh!" As Isis squealed, Harry felt a wave of relief that he'd had the sense of mind to cast a few privacy charms around himself, Isis, an Loki, as well as a muffling spell to quieten and distort what they were saying. "Get a cute vampire chick! All tight, black leather, oozing sexuality, willing to... experiment, and maybe just a bit kinky..." She was stopped by Harry placing his hand over her mouth.
He gave Isis a small smile. "I was thinking about getting a hold of a vampire to scare and mess with Lockhart, not because of any suppressed sexual desire that you seem to believe I have." He ignored her mutter of 'Yes, I know! When will you ravish me?' as he turned back to Loki.
"The vampire thing was a joke, Loki. Getting a vampire to hide out in Lockhart's room or office is going a little too far. With what might be in there, the vampire might end up traumatised for life, and I would never be able to handle having that on my conscience." Both Harry and Loki smirked at that.
"As for disbelieving Lockhart, it's because of his utter incompetence. From what I can gather, his charm-work is at about OWL level, maybe an EE, but that's the only subject he seems any good at at all. His creature knowledge is rather incomplete, his hexes, jinxes, and curses are, well, weak. I haven't seen him use any transfiguration, but seeing as his wand is made of cherry, it's unlikely to be something he particularly excels at, cherry wands are suppose to be good for charms after all, an almost opposite to transfiguration." He told Loki, who offered up no argument.
Harry felt a scrunched up ball of parchment hit him. His eyes flickered down to where the ball had landed, casually summoning it to his hand, where he unfolded and read the message on it. 'Can't you take over the class again?' it read.
Harry looked over his shoulder, seeing, a desk behind and across the aisle, Stephen Cornfoot, Dean Thomas, and Seamus Finnegan. All three of them were looking at Harry with pleading eyes. Harry shook his head, casting a 'Tempus' spell, showing them the lesson was almost over anyway.
As he turned around, Harry's eyes flickered over all of the students in the class. Idly, Harry wondered whether Lockhart had some sort of Rare Skill centred around charming females, as almost all of the girls in the class were sighing dreamily at the fop. Even Hermione, book-loving, rule-abiding, straight-laced, slightly pretentious Hermione, was giving the man a misty-eyed, adoring look.
The boys, on the other hand, were doing one of three things. Either they were keeping their eyes on Lockhart, and looking either bored out of their wits or half-asleep, Flicking through books for subjects other than DADA, a few of them even seemed to be catching up on homework, or they were otherwise idling away their time, some by staring into space and some by playing games.
"Do you think we might want to keep an eye out on Lockhart?" Harry muttered to Isis. "I must admit, it's rather creepy the way that he seems to bask in the attention of so many under-age girls, or do you think the fop bats for the other team?"
Isis let out a giggle, before she looked down at Harry after glancing at Lockhart. "Second years might be a bit young, actually, I'd say to check fourth year and up. A guy with as much influence as he does, as a celebrity, might be quite the fine catch for a teenage girl who was smitten by the whole thing. There's also the possibility that Lockhart is using his fame to get in the skirts of the older students." She sounded rather serious at the end of that, until she started nuzzling Harry that was. "Don't worry, I'm a one-guy unicorn, you have no reason to be concerned about me."
Harry let Isis bury her face into his neck and rub herself against him, his entire focus was now on Lockhart. Harry then remembered something, and turned to Loki. "Didn't you put listening charms and the like in all of the dormitories?" He asked.
"Yes, I did." Loki replied. "It was a bit more difficult doing the girls' rooms as they're all protected, but being in my raven form allowed me to pass. It seems that the barriers only stop human males, not animals, I guess it's because a girl might have a pet that's male, or something, but it does leave a hole in their defences for animagi."
"That's useful to know." Harry said, before he felt Isis arms wrap around himself. He looked over, into the eyes of Isis which were dancing with mischief.
"Oh? Does my little Harry want to sneak into the girls' dormitories? Don't worry, master, Isis will take care of your every need, you don't have to go somewhere else looking for companionship." Harry idly wondered how the class and professor would be reacting to Isis' advances on himself if he hadn't cast those privacy and notice-me-not spells.
"Don't worry, Isis, I'm not about to sneak off to some random girl for a cuddle or anything of the sort. Your position as my official snuggler is not under threat, so don't despair." Harry rolled his eyes at the unicorn as he spoke, attempting to keep his voice level, but a hint of amusement did shine through.
"Oh, I am glad." She purred in response, as she squeezed Harry tightly.
For his part, Harry just kept an eye on the 'Tempus' he'd cast, counting down the few minutes left in the lesson.
"Well, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse." Harry muttered, glancing out of a nearby window.
Loki looked out, his sharp eyes seeing something that Harry hadn't bothered even trying to see. "Is that the Gryffindor Quidditch team out on the pitch? Well, I guess that I can commend their determination if nothing else, playing in this weather is undoubtedly... unpleasant." That was the word he'd settled on, though he'd personally use something a bit stronger than 'unpleasant', it was most certainly not weather he would fly in.
"Hmm?" Harry's eyes flickered up and out of the window, trying to see what Loki was looking at. Harry's eyes, however, were not as good as Loki's, who had truly phenomenal eyesight, so he decided to just take his word for it. Honestly, he could believe that Oliver Wood, Quidditch fanatic that he is, would drag his team out into weather like this, he was pretty obsessed with the sport.
"Hello, sir Nicholas." Harry greeted a ghost as his eyes flickered forwards again, catching sight of said spectral being. Harry was rather curious about ghosts, and he really wanted to know whether their existence constituted as evidence of any kind for the existence of life after death.
"Hello to you too, young Harry." Nick greeted back. Harry was one of the few students to not refer to the Gryffindor ghost by the moniker 'Nearly-Headless Nick', as the boy seriously doubted the man wanted to be constantly reminded of the humiliating way in which he'd died. Nick had also picked up on the fact that Harry didn't like being referred to as Potter, and called him Harry instead.
"Is something the matter?" Harry asked, seeing that the ghost looked somewhat agitated.
"Oh, nothing much. It's just that I have, again, been rejected from the Headless Hunt. It seems like half an inch of skin is too damn much for 'Mr Properly-Decapitated Podmore'!" Nick grumbled, pulling out something that looked to be the ghostly equivalent of parchment. Harry's curiosity was aroused at the sight.
"Oh, really?" He asked. "Isn't there something that can affect ghosts? Maybe a special sort of sword or something that can finish the job?" He couldn't help himself any more, he asked a different question. "How is that parchment 'ghostly' anyway?"
Nick chuckled at that last question. "Ever the Ravenclaw, aren't you? You should try talking to Helena once in a while, as long as you don't talk about who she is, she might get along quite well with you and answer some questions, she has the same curious streak you do." The ghost gently shook his head, making sure not to dislodge it.
"The paper is easy to do with the help of the living, all you have to do is ritualistically 'sacrifice' the parchment. The animals the skin for it came from were alive, after all, so they hold the 'potential' to become ghosts, even if they don't have the fear of death to actually manage it alone. As for a sword," He sighed "I don't know of anything capable of harming the dead, I'm afraid." Nick paused for a moment, a thoughtful look on his face.
"You know, Harry, my death day is coming up soon, Halloween to be specific. I don't suppose... well, would you be interested in coming to it?" He asked cautiously. "I can understand that you'd rather be at the feast, absurd idea really, but I thought I'd invite you regardless-"
Harry cut the ghost off from his ramblings. "I'll come, sir Nicholas, I'll come. While everyone else celebrates Halloween, it's not a day that I remember fondly, and the company of you and your other guests might suit me more than the boisterous students that will be in the Great Hall."
"I'll come." Loki added.
"I'll follow Harry wherever he goes." Isis also chipped in.
"I might even have one more." Harry said, referring to Reinforce.
"Excellent, my dear boy, excellent." Nick smiled.
"Just make sure there's some food there that's edible to the living, I've heard about how ghosts let food rot to give it a stronger flavour." Harry said, which Nick readily agreed to. Imagine, Harry Potter at his death day party! Oh, he would be the talk of the county in the ghostly circles!
As Nick floated away through a wall, Harry looked at Isis and Loki. "Well, it looks like we have something planned for next week. I'm sure it will be interesting if nothing else, imagine what all of those ghosts could tell us about times gone by."
Loki chuckled. "That's assuming they're not all as bad as Binns at putting people asleep."
Harry snorted at that, and the three of them wandered off to the Ravenclaw Head Boy suite, Harry wanted to continue experimenting with converting analogue memories into digital data that his device could understand. Loki would be doing his own thing, and Isis would probably try and coax a reaction out of Harry.
All in all, it was just another ordinary day.