Summary: Harry Potter is no pushover. He's no hero, and he is definitely no one's pawn. What he is is a nullifier, thankyouverymuch, and he'd like to be left alone. Unfortunately, when he starts caring again, this bitter, messed up wizard will have to play the one role he never wanted to have, that of a champion. But whose champion will he be? No one betrays Harry Potter and gets away with it. Not even Albus Dumbledore. Now Dumbledore needs to convince the man whose trust he lost long ago to save the world…and his greatest ally in that endeavour may be Salazar Slytherin?
Notes regarding OotP/HBP Compatibility: Everything really occurred the same during OotP except that Sirius did not die during Harry's rescue attempt at the Department of Mysteries. Sixth year, Harry didn't have to suffer through the grieving process, and was able to spend his summer with Sirius and Remus. Snape kept teaching Potions. Harry studied the subject on his own time, with Remus' help. Dumbledore has the "hand," but is still alive. And I have taken very big liberties with Dumbledore's character, though since we are seeing this through Harry's eyes, keep in mind that you are seeing a very biased view of the (mostly) kind headmaster we know.
This chapter: Harry would like to share some of his problems with you.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. No profit is being made by the author of this fanfic.
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not just because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." –Albert Einstein
The politically correct term for someone like me would be "nullifier." Most people don't bother with it, and when they're being nasty, some spit out an accusatory "vacuum." Like it's my fault and I can help being anything else. Like it's something to be ashamed about (which it isn't). Though I used to pretend back at Hogwarts that I didn't mind, I did. Now that I'm out of school, I can actually do something about it. Shove my wand in the face of whoever thinks he's being clever, for example.
Do I still mind? Not as much—I eventually realised that people are, on the average, ignorant, superstitious, and stupid. What they say doesn't matter, except in the unlikely event that I ever decide to run for office. Still, it's no great thrill to go through life listening to whispers behind your back. I mean, yes, it's accurate—blunt, but accurate—and, yes, I've been called far worse for doing or being far less ("Chosen One" springs instantly to mind, may the propagandist who coined that phrase roast forever in the deepest pits of hell), but can't I indulge in self-delusion at least a little? In peace?
Oh, you must be lost. Don't fret; I'd get lost in my thoughts too, if I didn't know myself so well. What in the name of Merlin is a nullifier, you are wondering? Good question! Just what I asked those few years ago when I learned that yes, it is indeed possible to be more of a "freak" than I already am, to borrow another loving epithet bestowed upon me by the Dursleys. Figures that all they'd leave me with was bitter childhood memories and a bad vocabulary. What is the politically correct term they use nowadays? "Different"? "Special"? But I digress. I often do.
The encyclopaedia entry takes up several pages, which says a great deal about the size of the bloody massive tome I found it in, since nullifying is a rare and obscure and nearly forgotten branch of magic. I fell asleep halfway through it, and considered it an accomplishment to have made it that far. Did they hire Binns to write it, I wonder? I won't inflict it on you. Condensing several hundred words into one sentence: a nullifier is a witch or wizard that can absorb any magic or magical effect without being harmed by it. In less glorious days, we proud few (though by "we" I fear I am greatly exaggerating) were implemented as human shields in epic magical battles. With no offence intended to those who long for the "good old days"…I'm glad to be living now.
I'll be the first to admit that modern times aren't exactly the best. The fourteenth century had the Black Death. We have Voldemort. The number of doomsayers predicting the end of the world has increased a hundred fold since his return, which I suppose is really more an annoyance than anything else. Despite Ollivander's mysterious reappearance during my seventh year, his wand shop has remained closed, though he does accept special commissions and deliver them via owl. Can't blame him for being paranoid. He never did say where he was or what happened to him that year he disappeared. The Three Broomsticks closes at dusk, which is really lacking in business sense, if you ask me—which no one ever does unless it's something uncomfortably personal.
The widespread fear and panic, the weekly casualty reports, the pervading despair... Wars happen. Often, as anyone who's ever studied a history book will be aware of. People die. Yes, Voldemort's forces have killed people. Good people. We've managed to kill a few "evil" people ourselves. I'd like to point out that both kinds of people did indeed occasionally die before Voldemort's time, fantastic though the notion may seem to some.
Sorry. Back to the subject, lest I ramble for hours. What's so significant about the fact that I'm a nullifier? For starters, there hasn't been one for centuries—since the time of the founders. I should be so lucky to be the first nullifier since Salazar Slytherin. I can appreciate the irony now, but when my strange antimagical abilities started to manifest during my sixth year, I wasn't amused. More like worried sick: about my friends, my life (or impending lack thereof), and Voldemort's growing power.
The years have educated me. I've since learnt that my friends can fend for themselves. After leaving Hogwarts, Ron married Hermione, as anyone at Hogwarts could have predicted. What no one expected was for them to divorce a mere year after the wedding. Neither offered much of an explanation. Ron jokingly refers to it as the "anniversary present from hell," when I can get him drunk enough to discuss his days of...blissful matrimony with my other best friend. Similar efforts to lower Hermione's inhibitions enough to spill have thus far failed miserably. She could drink Hagrid under the table, I think. I'm the one who ends up under the scalpel.
Ron's misfortunes didn't end there. One day, I received an owl post from him. His letter was blunt and to the point: he needed time away from the wizarding world. I couldn't blame him. Bill died in the first wave of Voldemort's attacks. Charlie nearly died as well, and took the better part of a year recovering. He moved to the States to live as a Muggle. Last I heard, he was happily married to a Muggle woman, and they're raising scores of redheaded children. I don't talk to him as much as I'd like. He says he prefers not to receive owls and that telephones are too much like magic for him to be entirely comfortable with them. I really should visit sometime,.
Hermione has moved on with her life with an admirably matter-of-fact attitude. She joined the Ministry of Research and splits her time evenly between love affairs with books and love affairs with male colleagues. No one could have guessed our Hermione would turn out to be such a heartbreaker. She's brilliant as ever, of course. The world would be in a far bigger mess than it is now, if not for some of her more innovative discoveries, like her "smart" traps. She's still a terrible nag, too. She spends whatever spare time she manages to scrounge up trying to convince me to "take more interest in the world."
I don't mean to be flippant—well, okay, maybe I do—but the world has taken enough interest, favourable and negative, in me for the both of us. Don't even get me started on the ministry's glorified police hounds of our world, the Aurors. If one more knocks hesitantly at my door or owls me asking for help, I'm going to pull a Ron and leave. Move to...I don't know, New Zealand, find myself some nice Unplottable property, live out the rest of my days as a hermit.
Oh, I know. The whole lot aren't so teeth gnashingly irritating. Sirius and Remus—who, as an exconvict and a "fearsome" werewolf are probably your least likely candidates for that occupation—somehow allowed themselves to be talked into becoming Aurors, and they're mostly decent. Tonks, too. She's fun, good when you need a laugh—but for the most part, I find myself more likely to be fleeing Aurors than Death Eaters. Sad, I know.
And now, the question you're all thinking but haven't voiced yet: why isn't the famous Harry Potter—the hallowed Chosen One—embarked on a mad quest of suicidal revenge upon the most powerful (not to mention evil) wizard since the start of historical records who eats junior Aurors for breakfast?
Yes, I thought that it was a stupid question too. Not how you would have put it? Oh, please.
Why be involved in just another power play? The ministry and Dumbledore versus Voldemort? Don't misunderstand me—I know that the former are far preferable to the latter. But I'm tired of losing people, and I'm not ashamed to admit to some selfishness where my life is concerned. And there is the indisputable fact that involving me in anything more complicated than a game of Exploding Snap usually results in it rapidly boiling over. Call me the living, breathing catalyst. That'll be one of the nicer things someone's said about me.
I'm doing everyone a favour by not participating. Why does the wizarding world have such a problem with that? They don't have the excuse of knowing about the prophecy; they just appointed me saviour of the world while I wasn't looking. What makes them think I could even defeat Voldemort? Then again, maybe they don't. It would read like a great tragedy, the hero confronting the great evil, perishing in his ultimately futile attempt to vanquish it. Or maybe they really are so desperate now that they think that I can.
Either way, they're as good as wishing me dead. Terribly nice of them, but it'd be even nicer to accept my decision. After what I've gone through on their behalf, they're lucky I haven't snapped and started playing dress-up with black cloaks and white masks myself.
Not that I'm bitter. But—oh, I suppose there's no fooling you, much less myself; self-delusion only works as long as you can look yourself in the eye and lie and believe it. I'm afraid I have a hard time taking myself at face value anymore. Yes, I am bitter, and it all comes back (yes, this discourse does indeed have a point!) to being a nullifier.
I always assumed that Albus Dumbledore was a great man. He has the intelligence, the obligatory eccentricity you find in geniuses, even that grandfatherly twinkle in his eyes that all but screams "wise old coot." I used to think he was the best thing since self-stirring cauldrons. But of course, good things tend not to last long.
This particular good thing ended one wintery day when he summoned me to his office. He'd been presented with an unexpected offer: he could end the war. All he had to do was deliver me to Voldemort. By then, Voldemort knew the prophecy and knew that before his plans could progress he'd need to remove a certain Harry J. Potter from his path. More than remove; obliterate.
Now before you accuse Dumbledore of senility for trusting Voldemort, allow me to speak a word in his defence. Listen well: it will be the last time I do so. The gist of the prophecy is that Voldemort is the only person who can kill me and vice versa. Maybe Dumbledore thought that by initiating our deciding battle then, while Voldemort had yet to fully regain his strength, I would have a chance. Maybe it was his way of ensuring that he would be there when it did happen to help out. Or maybe—sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. And making excuses for him again—damn, I told myself I'd stop doing that.
As I said, that day, Dumbledore summoned me to his office. It wasn't unusual; I'd been taking a few lessons with him, mostly trying to discover Voldemort's weaknesses by studying memories in Dumbledore's pensieve. This time, though, he invited me to take a walk with him. I didn't even realise what was happening until we were right before the Supreme Arse himself.
Maybe Dumbledore did have some plan up his overly large sleeves. I don't care. He didn't tell me anything, didn't give me any warning whatsoever. More likely I was the currency to be used in a deal that would buy the wizarding world a handful of years to prepare themselves for a big fight against Voldemort. Why? Well, you know Voldemort. He's Salazar Slytherin's biggest fan; I'll bet he wanted to study me and find the secrets of my nullifying capabilities before disposing of me. Messily and painfully and permanently. Or maybe he'd read the same text and was contemplating using me as a shield. Neither of which possibilities are very appealing.
Luckily, I did have a few brain cells to rub together back then, despite what some people think about Gryffindors. I had a tentative grip on my nullifying magic—which is to say, I closed my eyes, waved my hands around, and hoped the stuff that blew up wasn't me—and I got myself the hell out of there, probably surprising a few years off both wizards' lives. Good, the fewer years they have left, the better for me. My well being, my peace of mind, you name it.
There was nowhere else to go at the time. I returned to Hogwarts, and Dumbledore tried to cover up the exchange by claiming that the "incident" (quotes so implied, I could almost see them hanging in the air) had been a trap for Voldemort. Hm, yes, and Snape is going to visit a hairdresser once during his lifetime. What's there to say? I joined the Dumbledore Is a Manipulative Bastard Club that year, and no sad looks from said bastard, no disappointed stares from the teachers, and not a single one of my friends' protestations was able to change my mind.
It wasn't a good year for me, as the best thing I can say it is that the Slytherins were so impressed by my turnabout that they offered to grant me the status of "honourary member" of their house. Except Snape, who hated me even more, and refused to allow anything of the sort. But then, there is nothing on this earth I could possibly do to please him. The fact that I breathe is almost enough to ruin the whole process for him.
At the end of my seventh year, Dumbledore finally dared approach me again and pled for me to reconsider my decision not to join the bloody "Order of the Phoenix." I wasn't fooled. He was just irked that Fawkes had for some reason showed up at the tower one night and settled in with me. Can't have the Order without their mascot, can we? I told him to sod off. It was unexpectedly liberating. I can't blame the poor phoenix. Fawkes splits his time between Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts and Grimmauld Place; Remus is especially fond of him, and judging by the way he trills whenever Remus walks into the room, I'd have to say the bird feels the same. Of course, Remus feeds him chocolate, so it's not his force of personality alone.
After Hogwarts, the media became nasty (though by this point, I was past being surprised by anything they said or did in regards to me). Voldemort, in what I want to call a sudden change of heart (but harbour serious doubts as to whether or not he actually possesses a heart), applauded my defiant behaviour and left me alone, no doubt to plot nefarious attempts on either my life or sanity. This, of course, led to wild and often hysterical speculation that the wild card of the wizarding world, poster boy and everyone's favourite pawn, Harry Potter, had taken up with Voldemort, which, now that I think about it, that was probably his aim all along: to stir up more trouble for me.
Talk about fickle. From poster boy of the Light Side to fallen wizard over the course of a summer. Me? Join Voldemort? Pardon me while I collapse into convulsive laughter. I don't think that there was ever a more misunderstood bloke than me. Or at least, as widely misunderstood a bloke.
Still, not much has changed since I left school. Life has settled into a predictable routine, except for the odd attack. I receive death threats in the mail, which I read, chortle over, and cheerfully send back with a now-infamous Muggle photo of me making a rather impolite and immature gesture. To my undying amusement I am ranked as the number one cause of high blood pressure in wizarding Britain. I receive no less than half a dozen fervent declarations of eternal love made by rebellious teenage witches each week. How many of those declarations are repeats I'm afraid to ponder. How many are from witches old enough to be my mother, even more so.
I suppose there are some days I wish I'd grow up a bit more. But...why? I'd only be growing up to die. The best thing anyone can do is live in the present: no worries over the future, no brooding over the past. So that's what I do. Live now; it's the only real way to live forever.
But my past doesn't seem content to let me be.
Dumbledore sent me a letter yesterday, and after I sifted through the conciliatory shite, I found myself quite at a loss how to reply. He wants me to go back in time, you see. To the time of the founders. For no apparent reason.
He's up to something.
He wrote that it's time for me to come home…and Merlin save me, but I almost agree with him. Hey, I said almost. Not saying I miss Hogwarts or anything. Much. Still, it might be nice to see the old castle again, even if it has to be with some doddering old witches and wizards. At least if he's leading me into another trap this time, I won't be bored.
...does that mean I'm going to cooperate with Dumbledore? Well, I—bugger.
Revised: 26 Oct 2005