"Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike."
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry stared at the book. And stared some more.

If she didn't know any better, then she would have said that the damn book was mocking her.

But then again, it is a book that had been personally chosen and annotated by Kyoya of all people, so it might very well be mocking her wizard-ness and the utter lack of sensible combat habits produced by said wizard-ness.

Ugh. Bloody Kyoya.

Of course, that isn't to say that any of the advice or instructions in the book were especially hard to follow, particularly what her significant other had pointed out and clarified, but the point still stood that it went against everything that she had learned in half a decade of magical education.

Worse yet, it forced her to realize that she hadn't learned anything useful to keep herself alive at all in the entirety of her time at Hogwarts!

Unless you're feeling particularly inclined towards pulled muscles and sprains, always begin your training exercises with at least ten minutes of stretches, said a neatly inked note in the very beginning of the text.

Harry could practically hear the matter-of-fact, blunt intonation of his voice as she read the lines - it was comforting, really, as she made her foray into this new world of combat.

It really wasn't that Harry hadn't intended on following the advice - she did, she swears, but there had been that one night when she had less time for training than usual, what with Snape's ridiculous homework assignments, but she hadn't wanted to skip it altogether. Survival is, after all, more important than any inconsequential inches of parchment.

So she had figured that it would have been fine to just… not stretch that night. She wasn't doing anything too complicated - just practicing a few blocks and dodge patterns with Hermione's direction in the Room of Requirement.

Alas, it hadn't been fine - for her shoulder at least, which had been far too stiff for any of the maneuvers that she had been practicing, as Hermione had continuously warned her about along with Kyoya's note. But of course, this is Harry we're talking about and Harry rarely ever really listens to the warnings of others, so she had ended up in the hospital wing that night with barely any training accomplished that night.

(And a sore dominant arm for writing the very same essays that had her rushing through her exercises for the night, but that's besides the point.)

(And a lecture in the somewhat distant future, as she had no doubts that Hermione would be tattling to Kyoya whenever the hell those two met, if only to ensure that Harry never did this again.)

(Harry really hates her friends sometimes.)

Truly, it isn't the content that's giving Harry all this trouble.

It's her.

Harry hadn't realized it before, hadn't even thought to think about it —

(But why would she have? Why should she have? She was just a kid, damnit, she shouldn't have to -)

— but she had grown complacent. Actually, it was more like she was always complacent.

Harry had always listened to whatever it was that the adults, the professors, the Weasley's, Dumbledore, had told her to do - relax, enjoy herself, study magic, save the entire bloody wizarding world - and of all the things that she had been told to do (because it wasn't like she had ever learned that it was okay not to listen and do as she was told, as if disobedience didn't just lead to punishment and - ), absolutely none of them were to do anything to help herself outside of classes.

She was never told to study self-defense, to learn any magic other than what she was taught, to be able to survive Voldemort - she was just told to go along her merry way, as if she were normal, as if the threat wasn't always right fucking there -

Voldemort and Quirrell in her first year.

The diary in second year.

Third year's Death Eater.

Fourth year - the Triwizard Tournament (why hadn't she received extra instruction that time again? She was so underprepared, she should have died!)

And of course, last year with Umbridge and Voldemort, again.

But then again, she supposes she can appreciate the debacle of fifth year a little bit - at least Umbridge had been upfront about her attempts to turn everyone into harmless herbivores (bloody Kyoya).

Regardless, for all that Harry likes to think herself above the classic sheep mentality of the wizarding world - above the same mentality that causes pureblood supremacy and discrimination against muggles, if there is one thing that this training thing has taught her, it's that she really, really isn't.

She never considered learning to physically defend herself.

Hey, I'm a witch! I have a wand! It totally isn't as if I could lose that wand at any time at all! I absolutely don't need to know how to punch or kick or run properly.

Fist-fighting is for muggles, after all.

Merlin, she's so stupid. Maybe it's because she had spent so long being told over and over again that she is different from muggles, that that made her disgusting and a freak, that when she was finally told that being different was a good thing and that it didn't make her a monster, she had embraced it with passion.

Too much passion.

And now, she realizes, she has been paying the price for it her entire life.

How easy would it have been to disarm Quirrell when she had been younger and then kick him in the shins? The weak man would have been down in seconds flat.


Harry sighed, placing the book back into Hermione's hands. Nodding to her friend, she settled into her kata and listened to Hermione's book-based critiques.

Ruminating over the past was useless for the moment - that could be saved for the middle of the night, when sleep evaded her as it so often did. For now, she had other things to focus on.

Oh, she will be more than just a challenge, indeed.

Between classes, Quidditch, training and avoiding annoyingly nosy people, Harry will be the first to admit that she hasn't had the most time for her friends aside from Ron and Hermione, and even that's only because they just so happen to often be in the same vicinity as her.

Case in point, Luna.

Being that they were in different years and houses, Harry rarely saw Luna outside of mealtimes before she found herself to be this busy, much less now.

Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when Harry ran into the other girl as she was heading to the owlery to send off yet another I love you Kyoya but you are an utterly sadistic nutcase letter.

"Hello Harry," the blonde greeted, an excited tone invading her usual dreamy voice.

Harry was instantly on alert. If she had learned anything throughout her time spent with Luna Lovegood this summer, then it is that that particular tone never means anything good. Or sane. Or particularly safe.

"I've decided that I'd like to sneak out of Hogwarts this weekend. Would you care to join me?" she continued on with pleasant innocence, as if she hadn't just suggested something that Harry would have only expected from the likes of Fred and George.

Well… what was a year in Hogwarts without any dangerous stunts and broken rules, anyway?

"Why is that even a question?"


That stretching comment is totally an actual thing - there was this one time when I was late to fencing practice and missed stretches completely and it was probably the worst mistake of my life, especially since I'm terrible with doing them on my own.

Aside from that, I'm not sure about whether or not I can keep up with a regular updating schedule between veterinary things, fencing practice and university work, but I'm certainly going to try. This was a quick update, but hopefully the next one will have more content to it.

I've also made a foray into the Naruto fandom with my recently published story "my heart beats with the sound of yours" - so if you happen to be into that sort of thing, then please check it out! I would love to get more feedback on it.

Til next time,