AN: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed. As to the guest reviewers...
coldblue: So much has been done in the Harry Potter fandom that coming up with something truly unique is far from easy, and I tend not to want to write something that has already been done. Honestly, I haven't ever considered writing a strictly Harry Potter fanfiction and I don't know if I ever will.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or the Witcher Series, they are the property of J.K Rowling, CD Projekt Red and Andrzej Sapkowski. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made on this work of fanfiction.
Rays from the early morning sun shone through the window of the Headmaster's quarters. The usually peaceful room was filled with Harry's almost manic laughter as he sat across from his vaunted headmaster. The old man seemed unfazed by the reaction. His eyes gazing at Harry from above his half-moon spectacles, their twinkle undimmed. Harry took a deep breath and brought himself under control.
"No, headmaster," Harry stated firmly, "I shall not be returning to the Dursley's residence for the summer." The professor thought it would be the best way of keeping both Harry and his relatives' safe with Sirius gone… or so he claimed.
"Harry, be reasonable…" Dumbledore started, his voice placating, but he was immediately interrupted.
"I am being perfectly reasonable, headmaster," Harry retorted a slight scowl forming on his lips, "Despite the fact that I have often found myself in danger within these walls, thanks in no small part to the teachers you have hired, I show you nothing but the respect you are due in matters regarding my education." He leaned forward in his chair, his emerald gaze challenging the wizened wizard before him, "I do not bow to your whims regarding my summer arrangements. You are my headmaster, not my guardian."
Upon Sirius' untimely demise, Harry had been granted emancipation and access to the rest of his family's wealth and what remained of the Black wealth. What came from the Potter's was enough to live comfortably for a decade or more without working, while the Black's wealth largely resided in the refurbished Grimmauld Place, obscure old books and artifacts held within their vault at Gringotts.
"With Sirius gone, you shall be safest with your family." Dumbledore argued feebly.
"Professor, how could it possibly be safest there?" He questioned incredulously. "You were the one who said that by living with Sirius in the first place the wards around Privet Drive would decay and eventually break entirely." Dumbledore couldn't hide his slight grimace at Harry's memory, "So, whatever wards you have placed on my relatives' home," He resisted the urge to sneer at the thought of them, "could not hope to compare to what is present at say Hogwarts or even Grimmauld Place."
"That is true," Dumbledore relented without further argument, though it was clearly not the outcome he'd hoped for. Why he insists upon my staying with the bastards, I will never understand. I should be insulted that he thinks their safety is remotely important.
"Your concern for them is admirable," Harry said coolly, "perhaps had they shown half as much concern for me in the past, I might be more moved to help them."
Dumbledore sighed in defeat, realizing that there was nothing he could possibly say that would convince Harry, but more importantly understanding there were no good arguments for what he wanted outside of no one would think to look for him there, "Tell me Mr. Potter, what then do you intend to do?"
"That depends entirely on you," Harry picked a lemon drop from the bowl on the table, popping it into his mouth and letting the sour morsel roll around his tongue before leaning back and relaxing in the chair. Dumbledore quirked an eyebrow in question so, Harry elaborated, "Are you finally willing to admit that your attempts to provide me with a normal childhood were in vain? Are you finally willing to tell me everything I need to know? Will you do more to help me than offer old platitudes? "
Dumbledore contemplated these questions for a long while, running a hand through his long silver beard, "For my part in your childhood, I sincerely apologize. Thanks to Professor Snape and Sirius, I am well aware that it was far from normal, despite what I may have wanted, and that is largely my fault." He rubbed at his temples, "I should have done more to look out for you but it always seemed inconsequential compared to my other concerns. I expected there to be familial affection given to you by your relatives and I was wrong."
"But that being said, I would do the same thing again," He told Harry unashamedly. "If I must choose between having you mistreated by your relatives or dead in the hands of one of Tom's followers, I will always choose the former." After his parent's death, with both Sirius and Alice Longbottom unable to take him under their care, Harry's guardianship was left to the Wizenagamot to decide and given the many bids by those who admired the Potters' sacrifice; it was Tom's followers who were likely to gain a majority in the voting.
Harry nodded stiffly, "I can accept that. It doesn't make up for the years I spent hungry and alone, but I can at least understand the reason. Still doesn't explain why you wish for me to return there now but that shall never happen so we shall ignore that."
Dumbledore shifted slightly and steepled his fingers in front of him, "As to your second question, I shall tell you everything that I can, not today mind you." He said at Harry's expectant look, "but within the coming months. There are certain things I would like to verify, with your assistance, and then and only then will I answer your questions."
"I have been patient… and can continue to be patient, professor," Harry said evenly, "but do not leave me in the dark any longer than necessary; particularly when it is information that affects my life more than anyone else's."
"You have my word," Dumbledore spoke earnestly, "once I am sure of my suspicions, you will know everything that I do. As to your third question," Here the old man scowled, "I take offense to your calling my advice old platitudes."
Harry shrugged off the chastisement. He was fully aware that the old man had years of knowledge at his disposal but he would prefer that he offered it through magic more often instead of words of wisdom alone, "If you are offended that is your concern, headmaster. Your words of advice, while appreciated, are not so useful when compared to the magic you might teach me."
"I would say it is your youthfulness that causes you to miss the value of words," Dumbledore chuckled slightly, "But I am very much aware of your love of reading." He grabbed a lemon drop from his bowl and sucked on it for a moment, "I understand your point though, there are magics that fall outside of the regular curriculum that not only I could teach but the other Professors could teach you as well." His beard twitched slightly, "Given your achievements and the excellence you have shown in the past five years, I see no harm in your receiving extra tutelage, particularly given how often you find yourself in danger."
Harry smiled genuinely, "I am glad to hear it, Professor." He thought about his options for a moment before speaking again, "You asked what my plans were, and given your responses I have come to a decision." Dumbledore waited patiently for him to continue, "I would like to remain at the castle for the duration of the summer," The old wizard appeared surprised, clearly expecting Harry to stay at Grimmauld Place instead.
Realizing Dumbledore's confusion Harry smirked slightly, "The collection of books both in the Hogwarts library and no doubt at your disposal dwarf what is available to me at the Black home." Granted the Blacks certainly have a great many books about things of a darker variety. But, Harry had already perused the Black library thoroughly.
"Grimmauld Place is secure, has some fantastic wards in fact, but the people I will be taking training from are here and I see no reason to add the extra travel time and security risk." Besides, despite its less than stellar record of late, Hogwarts still has the finest wards in all of England and no one will expect me to remain here. After all, how many times was Tom refused the opportunity in his own youth? Not to mention, Harry was hiding someone in the castle who he would be hard pressed to move undetected with any sort of ease.
"While here, I would request that my friends be allowed to join me if they are given permission by their parents and wish to do so," There was only so much that could be learned once a week when working with dozens of different students of varying skill. A summer spent entirely focused on preparing for Tom and his followers would do all of them a world of good.
Dumbledore hummed to himself, contemplating Harry's request, "I shall allow it, but they cannot stay in the castle for the summer." The Headmaster did not want word of more than a dozen students staying at the school over the summer becoming common knowledge as it would raise questions with the Board of Governors, something which Dumbledore had no desire to deal with. "Instead, they shall be required to enter the castle through the Shrieking Shack entrance." Harry could see why it would be best not to give out multiple portkeys that would allow people directly onto Hogwarts' grounds. They could very easily find their way into undesirable hands.
Harry nodded before standing, "We have an agreement then, Professor. I shall leave with the rest of the students on the train to keep up appearances and return tonight." The Headmaster smiled slightly and waved Harry away as he turned his attention toward a parchment on his desk.
He made is way down the spiraled staircase to find the waiting faces of Luna, Hermione, Susan, Ginny and Blaise. The younger redhead and the dark-skinned young man were leaning against the wall opposite the entrance to the headmaster's quarters, with his arm wrapped around her slender shoulders. The pair had been together since he asked her to the Yule ball the year prior, though they'd been friends since part of the way through her first year after her unexpected sorting into Slytherin; though, it didn't seem to surprise the Weasley twins. Probably because they were very nearly sorted there themselves.
The shock of a Weasley being sorted into Slytherin had lasted only a short while, only leaving lasting effects on her brother Ron, who only came to terms with it more than a year later. Her parents had been disappointed but not cruel as her brother had been. Of course, I only learned later exactly what had influenced that sorting. I can only imagine how poorly that year could have gone had I not managed to get Daphne and her friends to look out for Ginny.
Hermione and Luna talked among themselves as they waited for Harry. They were unlikely friends, one seemingly with her head stuck in the clouds while the other had her head stuck in books but they managed well enough, each wearing off on the other in little ways over the years. Much like his friendship with Luna, Harry and Hermione had become friends thanks to his defense of her against those who belittled her for her intellect, the prime culprit at the time being Ronald Weasley. Nothing says friendship like saving someone from a rampant cave troll. Prior to that they had only been academic rivals, and while Hermione always seemed to have the edge when it came to theoretical knowledge, she couldn't hope to match him on practical applications of magic.
Susan and Harry had only become friends the year prior. Following his entrance into the Triwizard Tournament a substantial portion of the school had become hostile toward him, the Hufflepuffs most of all. Of course, that only lasted as long as it took for Cedric Diggory to tell them all quite vehemently about Harry's confirmed alibi regarding his whereabouts both the day and night prior to the selection process along with his willingness to undergo veriteserum questioning. This had sealed the truth of his innocence in everybody's minds.
Susan had been right there beside Cedric the entire time and proved she had far more sense than her fellow badgers, not even deigning to believe the initial rumors that he had submitted his name. They had been on friendly terms with one another ever since. She still kept in touch with Cedric, who had started working at the Ministry in the Department of Magical Games and Sports after his defeat at Harry's hands in the actual tournament. The older boy had proven a valuable resource as he told Harry of the atmosphere in the ministry over the course of the last year.
Luna noticed Harry first and bounced over to him airily, "You'll be staying at Hogwarts this summer." There was a distinct lack of a question in her voice but Harry decided to ignore it, having long since become accustom to her quirks.
He smiled at her before confirming her correct assumption, "Yes, I will be staying at Hogwarts this summer." He glanced at all of them, "And as long as your parents allow it, you will be able to join me… though you won't be allowed to stay here."
"Mother will have her own focuses this summer," Blaise spoke up, a refinement to his voice that spoke of his higher birth, "So it shouldn't be a problem for me."
Hermione furrowed her brow, "My parents planned on going to France for the first month of the break this year… and I don't know how they'll feel about me coming here for extra lessons anyway once I return." He reached out a hand and patted her should reassuringly. He was well aware that not everybody would be able to attend his summer training sessions but hoped some would.
"Daddy is taking me to Sweden to search for the Horned-Snorcack." Luna spoke up, clearly looking forward to the adventure. Probably as much for the time it will allow her to spend with her father as for the opportunity to find another of her fantastical animals.
"As long as my mother knows that Dumbledore is allowing it, then Ron and I will definitely be allowed to attend." Ginny snickered slightly at the end. While she loved her mother, she was less than impressed by the unflinching loyalty she showed the headmaster. She would often wonder how Molly Weasley hadn't ended up in Hufflepuff.
The Hufflepuff of the group whipped her dark red hair over her shoulder, "I doubt my Aunt Amelia will have any objections. In fact," She smiled wryly, "I wouldn't be surprised if she is already scheduling training sessions with the auror corps for me already."
Harry started walking, the others following closely behind, "I don't expect everyone to be able to attend every training session. I have yet to even establish a schedule with the professors, something I intend to rectify after I return here following the train ride to King's Cross." He stopped as they reached the stairs, "For now, I would appreciate if each of you would go and very discreetly," He emphasized this by looking each of them squarely in the eye, "tell the other members of our little study group about my plans and find out if they wish to join. I would do it myself but I don't have access to everyone's dorm rooms." They all acknowledged this and parted ways. Harry waited a moment, standing there alone before he made his way over to a hidden passage to his right. He ducked behind the tapestry there and immediately started climbing a set of stairs two by two until he reached the next landing.
Harry made his way through the corridors quickly only giving fleeting greetings to the few people he saw along the way. He turned the corner of the seventh floor corridor wherein rested the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and paced in before the blank wall three times. The door to the room of requirement appeared moments later and he quickly entered, sealing the door behind him.
He turned to look at the bed in the room expecting to find it occupied by the ashen-haired woman he'd levitated covertly into the castle the night before. After all, she had collapsed from exhaustion right at his feet, but less than twelve hours after the ordeal he found the bed completely empty. Though more importantly, he felt the cool touch of metal against the flesh of his neck just above his Adam's apple. The sensation sent an unpleasant shiver up his spine, and he resisted the urge to flick his wrist to bring out his wand. He'd seen this woman fight and had no doubt that any sort of sudden movement would result in his death just as easily as it had her opponents'.
"Who are you?" Her voice was low and dangerous with a noticeable accent. It hadn't even registered in the heat of the moment the night prior, but Harry was surprised that they spoke the same language.
Harry gulped, the slight movement causing the blade to dig into his neck just a little bit more. He raised his arms up in surrender, "My name is Harry, Harry Potter." He brought the tips of his fingers to the sword in front of him, "And if you would just put down your sword, I would be happy to answer any questions I can."
"Why should I trust you?" Harry couldn't blame her for her cautiousness; he knew he would behave much the same way but, he had to question her attention to detail.
"If I wanted to cause you harm or keep you captive," he started slowly, "why would I have left you your weapon?"
She stiffened behind him and he could almost feel her looking from the back of his head to the sword in her hand before she chuckled slightly, "Good point." The pressure on his throat was relieved but he immediately felt a hand find the center of his back and push hard, driving him away from the woman.
He turned to look back at her to find that she had sheathed the longsword. He noticed he taller than her by almost half a head, and he would guess at least a year or two younger. He looked back to her eyes and found that she was looking at him appraisingly, "So, Harry Potter, where am I?"
"Well woman whose name I have yet to be given," he replied cheekily, causing her to smirk unashamedly, "you are in the room of requirement, on the seventh floor corridor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," He hesitated a moment before continuing, "And based on what I saw in the forest last night, I am going to add that you are in the United Kingdom, an island that is part of the continent of Europe, which is on the planet Earth."
"You brought me to a school?" She questioned indignantly, entirely uninterested in the extra tidbits of information he provided, "You brought me to a school full of children, after you saw that I was being hunted by people more than willing to kill! Especially if it meant getting to me!"
"I brought you to a magical school, which by this evening will house exactly one student " Harry spoke slowly, almost mockingly which drew a scowl from the woman who'd yet to do him the courtesy of giving a name, "which has wards that have stood for over a thousand years without fail. Whatever your pursuers might be capable of it will take them some time to figure a way past such defenses."
This bit of news brought her up short, "I suppose I shall have to hope that the Red Riders don't find a way past your wards before the end of the day then." Harry quirked an eyebrow clearly amused by such an implication. She snapped at his doubtfulness, "They have their own sort of magic Harry, Aen Elle magic, their navigators tend to be able to bypass most magical protections… perhaps the sorceresses' academy at Aretuza would be able to keep them out but only with a concerted effort on the part of the women there… not with passive wards." He assumed Hogwarts and England meant as little to her as Aretuza meant to him.
Harry wanted to argue, wanted to point out that these Red Riders had likely never encountered their particular brand of magic and might find it more formidable than others they'd seen in the past but instead he decided to let the matter drop, "Anyway, your assailants in the forest are all dead, none escaped through the portal they created there. That should buy you some time, till tonight at the very least."
The woman's shoulders sagged slightly, showing the tiniest hint of relief at that thought. She took a step closer to him, their green eyes meeting, surprisingly similar in their vividity "Obviously, you were the one who saved me in the forest."
He nodded, his glasses tilted forward along his nose thanks to the movement, "Not only from your pursuers but from the acromantula, giant spiders often larger than horses that would have come along to devour your unconscious body had I not brought you here."
She blinked owlishly for a brief moment though seemed unperturbed by such a description, "We call them Arachas where I come from and they aren't fun to kill." She extended her gloved hand, "Cirilla, but most people call me Ciri." He grasped her hand, and was unsurprised to find that her grip was firm, not the flimsy things some of the ladies he'd met tended to offer.
"It's nice to meet you, Ciri." He flicked his wand from its holster and conjured a table and two chairs. He could have asked the room for the same but his conjurations needed work, and any amount of practice was worth it. It was something he was hoping Dumbledore and McGonagall could help him with over the summer. He noticed Ciri eyeing the thin piece of wood curiously.
He put it away and gestured for her to sit, "The people that hunted you, the Red Riders I believe you called them, they appeared elfin?" He furrowed his brow, never having encountered such people in his limited experiences in his own world. They certainly looked nothing like the House elves.
"They are elves, the Aen Elle or alder folk," She explained, "they have their own brand of magic, as I'm sure you saw, though some of it overlaps with what humans perform. They are immortal and can only die in battle or by nefarious means. They are tall, beautiful, but most importantly dangerous especially to humans." Her eyes hardened and he could hear the steel in her voice as she continued, "Most of them think of us as little more than dirt."
"I gathered that much, at least about the Red Riders, just from what little I overheard of their gloating over having captured you." He hesitated, unsure if he should ask the personal question that sought to pass his lips, "They wanted your blood, why?"
She stared blankly at him, her face like stone, and he could tell that she was considering what lie to tell him, but instead she just shook her head, "If you heard that bit of conversation, then you must also have seen what I am capable of," She sounded… irritated almost, "My ability to phase, to move the way I do, is only a small part of what I am actually able to do, and even I have only touched on a fraction of it but… I can also travel through dimensions." Well that's certainly a new one. She chuckled slightly at the gob smacked look that came over Harry at the news, "The Aen Elle world is dying and they need my blood, elder blood, to open the Gates of the World that would allow them to travel somewhere new."
"To your world," Harry added offhandedly, "where they will destroy human civilization and raise themselves up." Ciri nodded stiffly, clearly unsettled by such an outcome. "If it's any consolation, I can relate," She snorted indignantly, clearly thinking such an insinuation was absurd.
Harry rubbed the back of his head, not entirely comfortable giving out such personal information but wanting to return the gesture, "Well, I did have my blood taken in a ritual that resurrected the most infamous dark lord in centuries," She tilted her head to the side in question, "I'll admit it hasn't resulted in the genocide of my entire species," He tried to say that casually but it just didn't seem possible, "But it has led to a rather violent civil war within the British magical community that could very well spread to the rest of the world if he isn't stopped."
She frowned, genuinely upset with herself for speaking out of turn, "Well I suppose I owe you an apology then, you can relate." She smirked ever so slightly, "Something tells me that you and I could share some interesting stories if we had the time, I've yet to be used in the resurrection of any powerful dark lords but I've seen my fair share of ugly situations."
"I'm sure," He gestured to her cheek and moved his hair slightly to reveal the lightning bolt on his forehead, "Scars always seem to have good stories." Her lips curved ever so slightly and silence then reigned between them, neither actually willing to share anymore for the time being.
Harry cleared his throat uncomfortably and decided to change the subject, "You're very good with a sword."
Ciri smirked a little smugly, "I ought to be, I've been using it since I was a little girl… my father taught me." She couldn't hide the fondness from her voice.
"Yet you clearly have magical potential," Harry pointed out quickly, knowing how it could be to dwell on people you've lost, "And beyond your unique gift, you perform no magic."
A scowl marred her sharp features, pulling the scar below her eye tight, "I disavowed magic years ago, it brought me nothing but trouble."
Harry barked a laugh, knowing the feeling well. Noticing Ciri's glare, he hastened to explain his reaction, "There have been times over the years where I wished I could do just that. But I realized they would never leave me alone and I would rather fight fire with fire… know more than they do even than let them come at me with weapons I don't have the best means to fight against."
Ciri took that under consideration for a long moment, "You make a good point, and had I been of that mind, a rather… unpleasant event that occurred with my parents might have been avoided."
Harry silently contemplated his options before taking a deep breath and looking her square in the eye, "For however long you are here, I would like for us to help one another." She seemed intrigued so he continued, "I look for every advantage I can when it comes to fighting the dark lord out for my head, and knowing how to use a sword could prove useful at least in certain situations." He wasn't entirely sure that he was right about that but he was willing to take the chance, and the physical training would no doubt help him on a magical level as well, "In return, I will teach you what I can of magic. I realize that you probably had good, even fantastic reasons, to abandon it, but you must admit it would serve you well against eh people who wish to harm you."
She didn't answer immediately, instead clearly struggling with herself to concede to such a proposition. Whatever would cause someone to abandon magic entirely would certainly be hard to forget much less ignore, "You realize I could very well leave within days, even as early as tonight?"
"I am aware," He conceded, "but I think you will find that it will take the Red Riders some time to locate you again. And when they do, it will take some time for them to actually reach you. In the meantime, I believe this arrangement could very easily benefit both of us."
She ran her fingers along the dagger on her hip, "I will not use a wand to learn magic," She stated firmly, "the sorceresses at Aretuza had no need of them nor was I given one when I first started learning. Magic can be done to impressive effect without any sort of focus."
Harry shrugged, "I have some ability with wandless magic, enough that I could teach you what little you would find useful in combat. In all honesty, I hope to someday have no need of a wand but it takes a great deal of practice."
She rested her head in one of her hands, and tapped her other on the table in front of them. After a short while she nodded her head ever so slightly, "I agree to your idea." He smiled, pleased that she decided his proposal was worth her while. In the silence that followed her pronouncement, there was a low grumbling that emanated from her stomach and they both looked down and chuckled. "I don't even know how long it has been since I ate." Ciri told him with a slight groan.
"Winky!" Harry called out loudly. The little, female house elf appeared with a soft pop and looked to Harry expectantly, "What can I's be doing for Master Harry?"
"Please, prepare a meal for Cirilla," He gestured to the woman across from him who was eyeing the small creature curiously.
"Of course," Winky replied happily before popping back out.
"What was that?" Ciri blurted out unrepentantly almost the second the little creature had disappeared.
"A house elf," He replied succinctly.
"That was no elf," Ciri stated knowingly, "It looked more like a nekker, or some sort of imp."
"From what I understand of their origins," Harry replied with a chuckle, "imp would probably be the most apt description of house elves." At that moment, a bell rang out loud and clear around Hogwarts. Harry stood and smiled one last time at Ciri, "I'll be gone for the next few hours. If there is anything else you need just ask Winky, she will be more than willing to accommodate you." He looked at the wall opposite them and focused for a moment; rows of books appeared a moment later, "Those books cover a variety of subjects you might find interesting." He walked to the door and stopped a moment, "You are not confined to this room, you need only think of an exit to do so, but it would probably be for the best if you remain here until I return."
"I agree," She said as a plate of food appeared in front of her, "I shall probably sleep again once I've finished this meal." With that said, Harry turned and left the room of requirement. Well this shall be interesting.
AN: Hey, so this wasn't a very long chapter... sorry about that but it did set up how I want things to go for the time they spend in Harry's world. Honestly, I'm not entirely happy with it, I liked the conversation between Harry and Ciri overall but there are things I'm not entirely sure about. Let me know what you think.
For those who are wondering, I haven't decided on the pairings for this story. Harry/Ciri is a possibility but so is Harry with someone from his own world or Harry with someone else form Ciri's world.
Until next time.